The Boys of Summer: part 2
The Boys are Back in Town: part 1
The Boys are Back in Town: part 2
Kurt had heard stories of the Winchesters. Hell, every Hunter had heard about John Winchester, would curse and praise him in the same breath. He knew they had helped his father kill the werewolf that had killed his mom, and once the cloud of morning had started to lift, he had wheedled as many stories about them from Burt that he could. And as Kurt grew older, the tales started to focus more on his sons until one day, John was gone and the stories--
The stories got weird at that point, nobody quite sure which side the Winchesters fought on. They were good, the best, probably, but they attracted trouble like nobody’s business. There had been rumors, too, wondering just how close the brothers were, and claiming they slept with demons, sold their souls, dead and resurrected, amen.
Suddenly Bobby’s comment about feeding an army made more sense; they were here to stay. Kurt had known that Bobby was friendly with them; their pictures were scattered around the house, and he was pretty sure the room with the two beds was theirs. Still, he hadn’t expected to meet them. Kurt felt a tingle of fear-anticipation. He would be living in the same house as the Winchesters.
“Who’re the Winchesters?” Puck asked.
It was like ice water. Puck didn’t know about Hunting; Kurt couldn’t tell him--shit!
“Old friends of the family,” the lie came easily to Kurt’s lips. “They’re father and my parents were both friends of Bobby.”
“Cool,” Puck said, and Kurt breathed a sigh of relief. He bought it. He could see now why Bobby wanted him to learn; he’d never con the authorities when he needed to if he couldn’t lie to his friends. Even if he really, really didn’t want to lie to Puck. And it wasn’t really lying; it was more--bending the truth to his whim.
Enough thinking. The car had parked and Bobby wasn’t in. That meant it was up to Kurt to go say hello.
Kurt emerged from the lot just as the driver stepped out of the car. Kurt felt his steps falter for just a moment. Tall, well-built, dirty blond hair and a sexy scruff. The stories never said how hot--it must be Dean, with his hair that short--the stories never said how hot Dean was.
“Bobby!” Dean yelled. He hadn’t seen Kurt yet, and was frowning at the porch. That was Kurt’s cue.
“He’s in town,” Kurt said, and tried not to show how his heart beat faster when Dean turned those--my goodness, so green--eyes on him. “Groceries. He’ll be back soon.”
“Right,” Dean said. He was still frowning, and Kurt took a moment to look him over. Once you looked past the hot, there was something tired about Dean. Dean turned back to the car, and opened the back door. A larger man, obviously too tall to be lying down in the back seat, with longer brown hair and a bewildered expression, fell from the car to land on the gravel with a *oomph*
“Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty.” Dean said, and opened the front door. As the taller man, Sam, stood, Dean leaned in and helped a third man, not quite as tall, with black hair and bruised eyes, stand. Dean looked over at Kurt and said. “I’m gonna get them settled.”
“I’ll help,” Kurt said, good manners overriding.
Dean waved him off. “I got it,” and led the three inside.
Kurt watched the front door for a long minute, but they didn’t return. So--that was the Winchesters. Kurt frowned. He was expecting something--more dramatic. They were taller than Kurt had expected, true. But, also more beat up--the rumors had painted them as near-indestructible. Those men seemed on the edge of collapse. And who was that third man?
“Hm?” Kurt was pulled from his musings to look at Puck. Puck was starting at the Impala.
“That is one sweet ride.”
Kurt looked at the car and couldn’t help the grin that spread over his face. “It really, really is.”
Kurt’s fingers were itching to explore under the hood, but he restrained himself. You never touched another man’s car--especially not one this well loved--without express permission. He was just about ready to say fuck it and try anyway, when Dean came back outside. He had an open beer bottle in his hand and an expression like he couldn’t believe he had stopped moving.
Dean looked him over and Kurt tried not to shiver. Dean was not checking him out, but he was, apparently, shaking his head.
Great, Kurt folded his arms. Let him turn out to be a homophobe.
“Kurt Hummel,” Dean said, and huffed a little laugh. “Goddamn, you grew.”
Kurt paused. “You know--wait, grew?”
Dean smirked, stepped closer. Kurt could feel Puck coming up to stand behind him and to the left, flanking him. Kurt wondered if he did it consciously. Kurt saw Dean notice. “Your Mom brought you here one summer. I was here with a broken wrist, and played babysitter. You were, like, three.”
Kurt raised an eyebrow. Dean Winchester was his babysitter? “Well, then I hope I grew. Are you seriously telling me you recognized me from a toddler?”
“Nah,” Dean said. “Bobby told me you’d be here.” Kurt folded his arms. Bobby hadn’t told Kurt that the Winchesters were coming, because, apparently Bobby was a paranoid asshole who thought life ran on a need-to-know basis. And Dean was smirking at Kurt like he knew exactly what he was thinking. He saw Dean’s eyes flick over to Puck.
“Hey! No jizz on the car! I just waxed her!”
Kurt stifled a laugh as Puck backed away from the Impala, hands raised. “Sorry, man,” Puck said. “I know shit about cars, but I do know sexy, and she is sexy as fuck.”
“Hell, yeah!” Dean said. Kurt watched as the smirk became a real grin; it took years off Dean’s face and eased the tense line of his shoulders.
“Well I do know cars,” Kurt said. “And as sexy as her body is, I’m dying to get a look under her hood.” Puck sniggered, and Kurt rolled his eyes, but couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face. Dean raised the bottle to his lips and Kurt was once again under that assessing gaze. He stood his ground, raising an eyebrow.
Dean nodded. “Alright,” he said, and popped open the hood. Soon Kurt was in deep discussion with Dean about the last rebuild that Dean had done, and Puck was trying to follow along, but every time Kurt looked over, Puck was staring back with a glazed expression. Suddenly, Puck perked up, and when Kurt stopped talking, he heard it too; Bobby was back.
Bobby parked his truck next to the Impala, and jumped down with a grunt. He adjusted his hat, and looked over the assembly.
“What’re you lookin’ at? Help me get this stuff inside.”
Kurt folded his arms. “Why? Who else is coming that you neglected to mention?” Bobby scowled back, but Kurt didn’t budge.
Bobby sighed. “Nobody. Now, cart.”
Kurt grabbed a box of food, and followed Puck into the house. He paused in the doorway, however, when he heard Bobby say to Dean:
“Not good, Bobby.” Dean said, his voice nearly growling. “Sam’s slipping, too. They’re upstairs, sleeping.”
“Balls,” Bobby muttered. “When it rains, it’s a damned monsoon.”
It was silent for a moment, and Kurt moved on, not wanting to be caught listening at keyholes. Kurt hated not having all the information; he felt like a character in a play where everyone but he had a script. What was it that had brought the Winchesters to Bobby’s? Maybe he was being paranoid, (and Bobby was proof that it was a necessary trait of a Hunter), but he couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone had been brought here for a reason. Call it Hunter’s intuition, or simply a love for a dramatic arc that outshined reason, but Kurt wouldn’t be surprised to learn that someone, or something, was pulling strings.
At that moment, somewhere that was nowhere and everywhere all at once, the ineffability formerly known as Chuck was playing chess with Death.
Well, to be fair, it wasn’t quite chess, being that it existed in more realities than your average chess board, and the rules, while quite similar to chess, were quite beyond mortal comprehension. But there were pawns and queens and kings, so we’ll go with chess.
They had been playing the game since the beginning. The same game. Neither had won, nor lost, nor did either of them plan to. They played in perpetuity, never ending thus never beginning, and so always.
Formerly Chuck picked up his knight and rolled it between his fingers. On Earth, in our plane of existence, a righteous army felt the conviction and glory of Heaven. After long, relative, moments, Formerly Chuck placed the knight on the board.
Death ate a deep fried pickle, and captured the knight. The righteous army was disbanded due to the sudden death of their leader.
“Leviathan walks the Earth,” Death said. “My reapers have been busy.”
“Hm?” Formerly Chuck said, barely glancing away from the board. “Oh, yes. Leviathan.” His hand hovered over a pawn, a bishop, something that looked like the monopoly car, and the thimble, before picking up his queen and moving it one space to the left. On Earth, the first female candidate was put on the ballot of the American Presidency, and hundreds of women walked just a little bit taller.
Death sucked his straw, noisily drinking the last of his soda. He moved the top hat, and a rich man had a heart attack.
“Your little pet projects are trying to take them on.” Death said. “Alone.”
“I know,” Formerly Chuck said absently. “I wrote that book.”
“You know,” Death leaned in over the board. “Their death and resurrection storyline? It’s getting old. Expected. If you kill them, I might not let you have them back.”
Formerly Chuck looked at Death then, with a haunted, hunted expression that was so common on Chuck’s face. It cleared, and He smiled. “Yes, you will.”
Death sat back, and licked his finger to pick up the remains of the fried breadcrumbs. It wasn’t a denial. There was no need for that.
“And your other little project?”
“Castiel has exceeded my expectations,” Formerly Chuck said. “Learning free will and all that entails; including,” and He pointed a finger at death, “Living with the consequences of his fuckups.” Formerly Chuck smiled. “I’m quite proud, really.”
“You let him fall from Grace,” Death said. “You have doomed him.”
“I freed him from bonds that were killing him,” Formerly Chuck said. He smiled. “Are you chastising me, old friend?”
“Well,” Death said. “Somebody has to.”
Formerly Chuck smiled and moved a pawn. A volcano erupted. Death countered with a pawn of his own. A new superbug was discovered. Formerly Chuck moved the car. A young girl was found wandering in rubble, alive days after an Earthquake. Death moved the blue plastic gingerbread man, and an old woman passed away quietly in her sleep.
“But what are you going to do about the Leviathan?”
“Me?” Formerly Chuck said. “Nothing. Everything has already been done.” He moved His pawn, movements sure, and set it down on the edge of the board. “King me.”
Death stared. It had been centuries, well, Centuries on Earth, since the last time Formerly Chuck had gotten a pawn to the opposite end, let alone one flanked by the other pieces. It seemed the stage was set. “Very well,” he said, his voice echoing like graveyard bells. “Name your price.”
Formerly Chuck looked over the board, seeing all yet nothing yet everything. “So many,” He whispered. He closed His eyes, and when he opened them, His voice was sure. “My message has been lost, and I will have my vengeance.”
“It is done,” Death said, and the pawn became a trumpet.
Sam watched Castiel sleep on Dean’s bed. Until they knew exactly what was going on with him, Castiel was to be watched at all times. The former (Sam was pretty sure it was former. If it wasn’t, then, well, it would be soon), angel slept fitfully.
So much for the sleep of angels.
Dean’s bed was in the middle of the room, a barrier between Sam’s bed and the doorway. They’d always been like that; Dean standing between Sam and the rest of the world, trying to keep him safe.
But Dean couldn’t stand in the chaos between Sam’s ears, and his back was against the wall.
Literally, against the wall. Sam’s bed was pushed into the corner, and he sat with his back against the peeling wallpaper. The room was quiet, except for Castiel’s mutterings, and the whisper of his limbs as they moved against the sheets.
Lucifer sat on the bed next to Sam, not making a sound, slowly twining yarn around his fingers in an ever more complicated cat’s cradle.
Sam refused to look; Lucifer was just a figment. He wasn’t real. Sam rubbed his thumb against the gash on his palm. He knew where reality began, even if he couldn’t always see it.
“Oh, now you’re just being stubborn,” Lucifer said.
Sam didn’t respond. He didn’t talk to figments.
And talking to him would only encourage him, anyway.
Sam thought about going downstairs, locking himself in the panic room, and hoping the warding circles would keep the devil out, just enough to get some real sleep. But Lucifer was back in his box, fighting with Michael, and not hitching a ride in Sam’s head. Warding circles didn’t defend against crazy.
So Sam sat, and watched Castiel, and tried to ignore the devil whistling by his side.
“Oh, snowballs, I messed up,” Lucifer shook out his fingers, untangling the string to begin again. Sam didn’t know what was more disturbing; the devil saying “Oh, snowballs,” or his imagination making the devil say “Oh, snowballs.” Sam closed his eyes, pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose. He was getting another headache.
They were less common now, than before. But still, when Sam was least expecting it, he would be laid low by blinding pain. He could feel it building behind his eyes, spreading like vines though his sinuses, to wrap around his jaw and make his teeth ache. Sam pressing his fingers to his eyes, watching the pain explode as colors behind his eyelids. His pulse thudded in his ears, louder as his gorge started to rise, and just MAKE IT STOP!
There was a smell of lilies and the pain stopped.
It took Sam a moment to realize that there was a cold hand on his forehead. He opened his eyes to see Dean standing in front of him, holding a beer in his opposite hand. Bobby stood just over Dean’s shoulder and Sam took a shuddering breath. Lucifer was gone.
“I’m okay,” he said, his voice scratchy and shaky. “Just--headache.”
Dean was giving him that look; Sam hated that look. It was the look that said I see your bullshit, but I’m going to let it slide. But if this comes back to bite you, I’m gonna laugh. It was the same look Dean had when Sam tried to lie about fights at school, or had his first vision, or first drank demon blood.
“We can take this downstairs,” Dean said. “Fill you in later if you wanna sleep--”
“No,” Sam said. “I’m fine. It’s passing.”
Dean nodded, and sat on the bed next to Sam, right where the devil had been seated. Sam tried not to read anything into it. Bobby pulled over a chair, and they leaned in, keeping their voices low to not disturb Castiel on the bed.
“Well,” Bobby said, when nobody said anything. “As glad as I am to see him, anybody want to explain just how angel-boy ended up asleep in my guest room?”
“We found him,” Sam said. “He’d crashed or something, into the house we were staying in.” Sam paused. “He left ash everywhere.”
Sam could see Dean shoot him a look out of the corner of his eye. Dean had seen the ash, too, right?
“He said he’s falling, Bobby,” Dean said. “And that it was a reward.”
“That don’t make sense,” Bobby said. “Far as I knew, falling was a punishment.”
Over Bobby’s shoulder, Lucifer wiggled his fingers at Sam. “It was freedom, Sam. Freedom.”
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Sam said. At Dean and Bobby’s look, he shook himself. He had to focus on their conversation, nothing more. “I mean, he fought with us for free will, and we’ve seen how free will reacts to angel-level power. Maybe falling was the only way Cas could be free.”
Dean was staring at Castiel the way he always did when he didn’t think Sam or Bobby was looking, like Castiel had taken something important of Dean’s, was keeping it hostage. Like it was Dean’s fault.
Time to change the subject.
“So what’s this I hear about you hiring teenagers?” Sam said, looking at Dean, then at Bobby. Bobby scowled, getting the message but not happy about being the distraction.
“I hired one teenager. Puck. Noah Puckerman; he’s Sheriff Mills’ nephew. He’s staying with her for the summer and she could have a successful career as a blackmailer.”
“Mills is smarter than that,” Dean said. “Why would she send her nephew to stay with Hunters when he’s not--He doesn’t know, does he?”
Bobby shook his head. “Not as far as I can tell. He’s a good kid, though. One of Kurt’s friends from back home. Has a good work ethic, for all his cocky attitude.” Bobby pointed the neck of his beer bottle at Dean. “Reminds me of you, actually.”
Dean scowled. He turned to Sam. “Bobby’s thinking about training him.”
Sam felt his eyebrows rise. “What?” Bobby...”
Bobby held up his hands. “I haven’t made up my mind. Mills is pushing for it. Kid’s got a lot of anger that needs a good outlet; Hunting might be it. Not to mention that he’s one hell of a sweet talker.” Bobby took a swig of his beer. “I’m thinking he might make a good partner for Kurt.”
Dean snorted. “You training Hunters or playing matchmaker?”
“Shut up. Idjit. You both know what it’s like to have a partner tailor fit to you.”
Sam found he was nodding along. It made sense; Hunters were getting pretty spread thin these days.
“Besides. I don’t have to explain myself to you to knuckleheads.” Bobby said.
“How’re you gonna tell him, Bobby?” Dean asked. “Process those cars and, oh, by the way, monsters are real?”
“I was gonna let Kurt do it,” Bobby said, folding his arms. “I ain’t dumb.”
Dean wiped his face with his hand and Sam found himself trying to fight a smile.
“And that’s the other thing.” Dean said. “Hummel.”
Bobby held up a hand. “He was raised in the life, even if it was on the periphery. I have no issues helping those already involved; he’s been there since day one.”
“I don’t like it, Bobby,” Dean said.
“Well then it’s a good thing you don’t have to,” Bobby snapped. “It’s my business, and I’ll do it as I please.”
“I’ll help, if you want,” Sam said. “While we’re here.” It would be a nice pace. Teaching meant he couldn’t live inside his head; it would be good to get away for a while. Maybe focusing on teaching Kurt and Puck would be enough to keep Lucifer from creeping in. As if he knew he was being thought of, Lucifer looked up from his cat’s cradle and blew Sam a kiss. Bobby nodded his thanks, and Dean looked between the two of them.
“You’re both nuts,” Dean said.
“Practical, Dean,” Sam said. “He knows enough; he’ll fight anyway. Would you rather he wasn’t trained?”
“I would rather he didn’t fight at all,” Dean said. “He’s just a kid.”
“He’s older than we were,” Sam said. “Years older.”
“He’s got plans,” Bobby said. “Finishing school. College. But nobody raised in this life can sit by when others are in trouble. And for that, you need training.”
Sam knew where Dean’s resistance was coming from, and he rolled his eyes. “He’s not three, anymore, Dean. He’s grown.” Dean looked down at his hands. “And you haven’t seen him in, what, fifteen years? You don’t really have a say.”
“But you could lend a hand,” Bobby said. “We’re gonna need help juggling everything,” Bobby nodded over at Castiel’s bed.
Dean threw up his hands. “Fine. I’ll help train him. But I want it on the record; this is a bad idea.”
Bobby snorted. “Noted. Idjit.”
“Also,” Dean said, and punched Sam in the arm.
“Ow!” Sam said, clapping a hand over the spot. “Jerk!”
“Bitch.” Dean said.
Sam fussed, but smirked inside. There’s no way Dean wouldn’t have agreed that easily if he didn’t already want to. One day, Dean was going to realize how mysterious he wasn’t. But until that day, Sam was going to bask in his feeling of superiority.That is, until he heard, “Oh, snowballs,” quietly in the corner. Sam closed his eyes, and willed reality to make more sense.
Part III: Feels Like the First Time