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19 February 2015 @ 08:01 am
j'adoube: Kriegspiel (chapter 2)  
Dean's panicked eyes dulled as he sagged, spaghetti-limp in his father's arms.





J'adoube

Chapter Two
Kriegspiel

****

Dean's panicked eyes dulled as he sagged, spaghetti-limp in his father's arms. John dragged the teen around to the open driver's door and stuffed him into the sweltering car, pushing recklessly in his haste until his boy's head hit the passenger door with a thud.

"Dad…Dad, be careful!" Sam threw an arm across the seat to protect Dean's head from further injury. John gripped his legs, repositioned him so his head rested on the seat. Sidestepping out of the car, his eyes flitted up and down the street to see if anyone had seen him, but all remained clear for now. He gave no more thought to it and focused his attention on his son.

Dean lay there, glazed eyes blinking dumbly, unaware of his present surroundings. The kid's mouth twitched and ticked, impotent arms thrashed about as he mindlessly fought a phantom abductor. John couldn't trust the chloroform to keep him down for long, of course, so he jumped into the car and withdrew the prepared syringe from his breast pocket. He administered the Etorphine, and seconds later Dean's eyes rolled, his body unfurled, the last of his defenses lost to the drugs.

Before John could hit the gas, an older man wearing a bloodstained apron walked around the corner, clutching a broom.

"What's all this racket?" He pointed to the bicycle buckled on the pavement. "Will? Son? That you?"

John slammed the car door and tore away from the curb, tires squealing, spitting dirt and gravel at the old man.

"Dad, is he gonna be okay?"

"He's fine Sam. Whatever's going on, we'll fix it. We'll fix him. Your brother's gonna be fine." Running a red light, he checked his rearview mirror and saw the shopkeeper trot a few steps after the car and then stop, hands on flaccid hips. "Goddammit!" John hit the steering column with his palm. "Goddammit!"

"Did he see?" Sam craned his neck, peering through the back window.

John writhed his fingers against the steering wheel until they burned. "He saw enough."

Sam spun forward, coughed through the chloroform vapor filling the car. He gagged. "S'bad back here, Dad."

John put a fist to his mouth and cleared his throat then groped about the seat, searching for the doused rag by touch. "Get the cloth. It's somewhere…there! Underneath his cheek, see?" Driving onto the bridge, tears filled his eyes as he fought to keep control of the car. "Get the rag, Sam." John held his breath as Sam tipped over the seat like an oil derrick, legs kicking in the air as he snatched it.

"Uhhh, Dad…" Sam wobbled against the seat, on the verge of keeling over.

"Gimme!" John rolled down his window, tossed out the rag and watched it sail into the air-currents above the oncoming cars before it fluttered over the side of the bridge. He leaned against the door, dragging in clean air to keep his own head straight. "Crack the windows, Sam. We gotta clear this place."

Tears leaked from Sam's irritated eyes, clumsy hands fumbling with the crank. "Whoa…" He looked around him like he was tripping.

"Don't pass out on me, kid. I need you awake. Get them windows down and get some air."

"Uhhmm…sure…okay." The kid stuck his head out the window, coughed into the wind as he strove to clear his head and lungs. A moment later he ducked inside, still bleary.

"Better?" John examined him through the rearview mirror. He threw his arm back, snapping his finger. "You with me, buddy?"

"Uh, yeah. Better, but it's all woozy in here." He pointed to his head.

"Shake it off, bud." John shrugged out of his sweaty jacket. "Take this." He passed it to Sam, dragged a forearm across his brow, daubing off the sweat and stink. "And be careful. The chloroform bottle is in there. Make sure it's not leaking. If there's some water around, get it. Stuff is all over my hands."

Sam kept the coat as far from his face as he could, frisked the pocket for the bottle and secured the cap. Wadding it like a soiled diaper, he pushed the leather jacket under the seat, wiped his hands on his jeans. He clawed through items on the floor, grabbing a flask. "Holy water okay?"

"Yes, anything."

Sam passed it over the seat. "Do you think we got away?"

"Apron man saw us." John splashed his hands while alternating his grip on the wheel. Wiping his palms on his shirt, he gave them a hesitant, distant sniff to make sure most of the chloroform had washed away. Satisfied, he passed the flask back to Sam. "We'll know soon enough if he got the license plate." He glanced around him, attempting to get his bearings, noted they'd crossed the river and were heading west. Fine. Didn't matter where they went as long as they got gone, and got gone fast. Winding through the back streets, John merged onto Route 66, westbound, kept his speed in check despite his inclination to floor it. He couldn't risk blowing everything on a traffic violation.

The air in the car cleared, though Sam continued to cough and absently rub his eyes. Swiveling his attention to his brother, Sam hunched over the seat and studied him with both awe and concern. "Look at him, Dad. His hair. It's lighter than it used to be. How come?"

"It's summer. He's obviously spent a lot of time in the sun."

"Huh. And it's so long. I don't think it's been cut since, well, since he disappeared. And he was due for cut then!"

John side-eyed the unconscious boy spilled into a messy heap on the seat next to him. He adjusted one of Dean's arms that'd bent at an odd angle when he shoved him into the car. A light, surfy foam dribbled from the corner of his mouth as he drew in labored, scratchy breaths. John smoothed his son's hair and gave him a pat. "Don't worry. Least of our worries right now."

"He didn't recognize us at all. Not even a little. But he remembered everything about cars. Why does he remember cars but not us?"

"I don't know, bud. I don't know."

"What's happening to him, Dad?"

"We'll find out, Sam. We'll find out and we'll make the sonsabitches who did this to him pay. You can count the hell on that."

"It's been months, Dad. He's been missing for months. He never tried to get away, never called Uncle Bobby. He'd have called Uncle Bobby if he couldn't reach us, but he didn't. Nothing. And he wasn't pretending. I know Dean. He really didn't recognize us. You suppose those people did something to him to make him forget us…make him believe they were his parents? How're we gonna change it all back?"

John rolled his shoulders. "I'm not positive they did anything. I cased those two, tested them both, even the girl. They're human. They might be in on it, though. We're gonna find out one way or the other."

"Witches?" Sam offered. "Do you think they put a spell on him? Part of some freaky kid-snatching ring?"

"Maybe. First things first, though. We're gonna get Dean to a safe place, find a way to undo what they've done, and then we'll worry about taking them out. Those folks could also be civvies, as much of a victim as Dean. We just don't know." John stole another glance at his son, making a cursory examination. He'd swear Dean had grown taller, developed more muscle. He looked to be in great shape. Whatever number those people had pulled on him, whatever their involvement was or wasn't, at least they'd taken good care of him.

"He's sweating really bad, Dad. Look."

Sweat stains had bloomed on Dean's chest and underarms, a thick sheen covering his face and neck. The muscles in his arms and legs jerked with small spasms. His troubled breaths came in wet rasps, making John wince. The chloroform must have burned his throat.

"He's fine. It's hot in the car if you hadn't noticed." He glimpsed Sam's worried eyes then shifted back to the road. He wasn't about to add to the kid's stress.

"Your eye's bleeding."

John palmed the blood away from his stinging cheek. "He got me good. I think he hit bone. Another half-inch closer to my eye and he'd have blinded me. But that's good. That's what we want, fighting back like that. My boy's definitely still in there."

"I don't understand it. Why would somebody just plunk Dean into a different family? And how could they make it so he didn't know us?"

"I already told you, I don't know Sam."

"What's the point? Why do it at all? They didn't hurt him. Or us. Why didn't they hurt him, Dad? I mean, he looked good, you know? He seemed, I don't know, he seemed—happy."

"I said I don't know."

"Three months, Dad. It's been three months."

"You already said that, now settle down."

Three months. Like he could forget waking up on Sam's 10th birthday to find Dean's bed empty, his amulet, the one item he never took off, not even to shower, lying coiled on his pillow. Their life since that awful morning, had become an odyssey of worry and grief, zig-zagging back and forth across the country, grasping at every straw, following whatever wispy scent they'd caught or thought they'd caught—how could he forget? Each lead had turned out to be a goose chase, every seeming clue had left them both empty-handed and devastated.

John had talked with other hunters, some of them more dangerous than the twisted nightmares they hunted, had visited several hoodoo priests, came away from all of them without so much as a whiff of Dean. Finally, a call to the psychic in Lawrence had paid off, and they'd eaten pavement to Albuquerque on her say-so. Tracking him took a few days, then staking him out, finding the right opportunity to retrieve him, took a few more.

"But is he gonna be okay? I mean, we…we gotta do something, Dad. How are we gonna fix it?" Sam was losing his shit, his thoughts nothing more than cyclical, repetitive ramblings. Normally John could count on the boy being professional, sometimes too much so. He'd always been the cool, methodical one. Fought his battles with his intellect, even at age ten. But this was Dean in trouble now, and Sam couldn't cope. And John didn't have time for it.

He bared his fangs. "Jesus, Sam. I said one thing at a goddamned time. Now stop with the Twenty Questions! Let me think!" Sam recoiled, pinned him with a look of shocked hurt then followed it up with a blistering huff. He flopped back in his seat, folding rebellious arms and looking out the window. After a moment he pushed away, ignoring John as he settled on his knees, watching over Dean. He reached across the seat and smoothed Dean's top that'd rucked up during the struggle.

Craning and cracking his neck, John massaged the steering wheel with his palms. He devoured several cleansing breaths and cleared his throat, his tone level now, as close to repentant as John Winchester ever came. "Let's just get the hell out'a town, make sure the cops aren't on our tail before we tackle anything else, okay? Now, get the map, Sammy. I gotta figure out where in the hell we are."

Sam sighed, rooted through the glove compartment until he found the right map. Unfolding it, he traced his finger along the page, locating their approximate position. "We're heading west. There aren't any big cities for a while, a few small towns, then Gallup in about 150 miles. We have enough gas to get there?"

Before John could answer, Dean gurgled deep in his throat. His diaphragm stuttered, the only warnings they had before he vomited viscous, brown goo all over himself and the seat.

"Turn him, Sam!" John threw out a desperate hand, twisted Dean so he wouldn't aspirate. "Get him!"

Sam tossed the map behind him and worked to get his brother onto his side. Dean's bloodshot eyes flew open for a fleeting instant as another wave of chocolaty vomit splashed the seat and foot well.

Sam turned stricken eyes on his father. "What's happening, Dad?"

John took the chance to pull over. "Is he breathing?"

"Yeah, but he's still gagging. Why? What's happening? Oh yuck, it's coming out his nose, too. Help him, Dad!" Sam's gag reflex kicked in, though the boy swallowed against it, sucking in deep breaths with round eyes.

"Stay with me, kiddo. Don't lose it now. I can't do this without you."

Sam wiped his nose, a few more swallows then, "I'm here, Dad. I'm okay."

"Good boy." John tugged Dean to him, removed the teen's backpack and rested him against his chest, rubbing his back as the scent of stomach bile and brownies hit the man's nose like a freight train. John peeled Dean's eyes open one at a time, making sure they responded to light. He hugged the unconscious kid to him. Dean's stomach lurched again, painted John's shirt with more chocolaty bile. "I'm sorry, buddy. I'm so sorry. I had to do it. I didn't have a choice."

"What, Dad? What happened? What'd you do?"

"It's all right, Sam. The chloroform made him a little sick. Irritated his eyes and throat, upset his stomach."

"A little sick? This isn't a little sick. He can barely breathe."

"He's breathing fine." Mostly fine, he thought, but he didn't have time to split hairs with Sam.

"This sucks, Dad."

John's hard stare fell on the child. "I had no choice. I had to get him in the car. Damn kid fought me tooth and nail. But I screwed up. The rag stayed on him too long. I had too many balls in the air during the getaway, should've taken it off as soon as we got in the car. But he's gonna be all right. He's breathing. He'll heal."

"Sure, after we almost kill him. Some rescue…" Sam's neck corded as he hurled the accusation at his father.

John ignored the comment. "Now just watch him and stay calm. We'll stop as soon as we can. We'll take care of him, I promise. Get me another rag or something. We'll clean him up as best we can and we'll get back on the road. We don't want some good Samaritan stopping to see if we're okay."

Sam combed through some items cast around the backseat until he found an old shirt of Dean's under the seat and passed it to his dad.

"Get a few more if you can for the seat." John began sopping up the mess, wiping Dean's lips and nose with gentle strokes.

Sam grabbed a couple more shirts and spread them across the seat, soaking up the vomit. "You can put him down now, Dad." Sam placed one more flannel under Dean's head where it lay against his dad's chest to cushion it and protect him from the vomit seeping down John's top. "I got him, Dad."

"No. Let's shift him the other way, leave his head in my lap."

"But what if he throws up again?"

John snorted. "I'm already soaked. I think I can handle it, buddy."

Once they got Dean situated, John merged back onto the highway. "We'll stop for the night as soon as we can and look after him properly then. For now, let's widen the gap between us and Albuquerque."

****

Sunset crawled across the desert floor in splashes of gold and dusty-blue when John pulled off the highway.

Sam blinked and stretched, peering around him. "Gallup?"

John nodded. "We'll stay the night here." He steered the car into the parking lot of a frowsy motel and parked at the far end, away from the office. "Roll up the windows. We don't want anyone getting an eyeful." Before opening the door, John bent down, stroked his son's hair, made sure Dean was sleeping comfortably. His throat scraped with each breath, but he hadn't moved or thrown up since Albuquerque.

"How is he, Dad?" Sam finished rolling up the windows.

"Out cold. We'll take care of him as soon as we get into the room. I have to check us in. Get my jacket, Sam."

"Your jacket? Why? It's too hot. It stinks like chloroform."

"Just do as I say."

Sam unearthed the leather jacket and handed it to his father. The man rifled through the pocket, retrieved a set of handcuffs. "Dad?"

John said nothing. He grabbed Dean's wrist and cuffed it to the steering column.

"Dad, what are you doing?"

"I told you. I have to check in. Watch him. He probably won't wake, but just in case—" He nudged his chin toward the handcuffs. Draping his coat over the steering wheel to hide it, he placed his hand on Sam's head.

"Uh, Dad…" Sam's eyes went to his soiled shirt.

Glancing down, John considered the vomit. He gave it a weak shrug. "Fuck it. They can think what they like. I'll be right back. Don't move."

After a few minutes, Sam cracked the back window an inch for some air and to help dissipate the lingering sour odors. Dean took great pride in the car's upkeep, more so than their dad did anymore, and when he woke, he'd be pissed about the upchuck. He would if he remembered the car, that is.

Sam blew a worried breath through his lips, assessing his brother. It was definitely Dean. Well, mostly Dean. The jeans, yeah, they made sense, knees muddied as though he'd passed the night digging a grave with their dad. But then there was the tank top, definitely not his brother's style, too thin, too…white. And his tanned skin, now, that was a surprise. Sam didn't think it was possible for his brother to tan. He'd always burned then peeled afterward. Apparently he'd spent enough time in the sun that he'd been able to build a foundation, enough time to bleach his hair like some kid enjoying a leisurely summer vacation. Not Dean. Not Dean at all.

And his sneakers? Wow, they were downright laughable. Dean himself would be embarrassed—if he were himself, that is—way too impractical for hunting, useless in an emergency. Their thin canvas and soft soles offered no traction, no speed. Any ticked off vengeful spirit would end him without bothering to juice up with ectoplasm first. No way would he be able to escape in those clodhoppers, as Dean would have called them. Sam decided his brother looked like any kid his age, and that was the problem. Dean wasn't just any kid. Dean kicked ass at everything: running, shooting, sparring, lock-picking. You name it, he could do it. He'd spent every day of his life hanging on their dad's stories, soaking up as much hunter training as his dad would allow, taking care of Sam, always taking such good care of him. Sam knuckled away a tear. It had been a long, long three months. The longest ever.

He recalled how Dean'd acted when he'd approached them today. Again, he'd been recognizable yet foreign at the same time. Of course, Sam wasn't surprised Dean knew all about cars. In fact, he had no doubt the Impala had a bonafide piston slap. His dad had ridden the car into the ground during their search for Dean and had given it no more than the bare minimum of attention, too much other stuff to worry about. Before he'd been snatched, Dean'd been the one to perform the Impala's day-to-day maintenance, anyway. He'd made certain she always ran smooth. Sam'd have to remember to grab some Sea Foam once Dean was better. He was certain they were out of it. All of that stuff made sense.

But riding a bike? That did not compute. He had no memory of Dean ever learning. They'd never had a bicycle, not that he could recall, anyway. Maybe that man and woman who'd stolen him taught him how to ride. But no, that made no sense. Why would they teach him that? Monsters kidnapping people and—what—caring for them? Taking them to Disneyland? Treating them like family? How and wh—

"We're right here, Sam. Room 8." His dad startled him from his thoughts.

He raised his head, blinked stupidly at his father. "Huh?"

John opened the door, gathering items. "Sam, get your head out'a your ass. We're right here at the end." His dad pointed. "And roll up the goddamn window like I asked. Do you want us to get caught?"

"No, Dad."

John flung Dean's backpack at him. "Take this with you. We can't leave it out here."

"Got it." Sam shouldered the pack and slid out of the car.

"Grab this, too. Open the door and stay out of the way." John tossed him the room key and bent in to unlock the handcuffs.

Sam did exactly as John told him, remaining silent and on task. In the year and a half since he'd been brought into the loop about the "family business", he'd seen plenty of hunts-gone-wrong. He knew enough to know this was a crucial moment. The boy's eyes scurried around the empty parking lot. Cars flew by on the highway, but nobody paid them any attention. Between the sun lipping the western horizon and the large tree shading both their parking space and entranceway, the Winchesters appeared as nothing more than slate-colored ghosts in the twilight.

John made the transfer in less than ten seconds. "Get the bags and the first aid kit from the car and lock the doors. I'll clean up the mess and air it out later." John settled Dean on the bed and gave Sam the car key.

Again, Sam made short work of it, performing his part without any question. Once back inside the drab room, he shut and locked the door. "Here." He waited for his dad to finish taking Dean's pulse then offered him the first aid kit. He dumped the rest of the bags on the other bed. Watching his dad remove Dean's vomit-stained shirt, he headed for the bathroom, "I'll get some towels."

John called after him, "Good man."

Sam returned and passed his dad the warm, wet cloth first. "Is he okay?"

John washed Dean's chest, hands and face, taking great care around his nose and mouth where the red skin had festered into a series of small blisters. "He's had worse, a lot worse. He'll be fine. He always is." Dean twitched away from the cloth, small moans and whimpers pouring into the air. "I know, bud. That's nasty stuff. I'm sorry." His dad tried to soothe him. Despite the drugs, however, hearing John's voice sent the boy into an incoherent panic, fanning his limbs, trying to ward off or fight the man in his sleep. "Settle down, now. You're all right. Dean…Dean, stop." John pinned his arms, but that only served to upset his son more.

Sam broke in, placed his palm on Dean's forehead. "Hey, Will…shhhh, it's all right. Okay? Will, it's gonna be okay."

"Sam…don't."

Sam's voice dipped. "He doesn't know anything else, Dad. He's freaking out." Sam caressed his brother's hair, refused to give in to his dad, not with Dean struggling like this. No way. "You're fine, Will. You're okay. You're safe." Sam continued to speak in quiet, calming tones until Dean settled. Focused on his father, now, his brows worked and his words took an icy turn. "See? I told you."

"Yes, but you shouldn't encourage it. That's not his name."

"It is to him! At least right now it is. We know who he is, he doesn't. Not his fault."

"Okay, Sam. Point taken, but mind your damn tone with me." Anger backlit his words as he rummaged through the first aid kit and applied Vaseline to the burns and Visine to Dean's red-rimmed eyes. The two fell into an uneasy silence as they worked.

After a moment, Sam ventured, "Are his eyes burned?"

"No, just the skin around them. And it's just chemical irritation." John lifted one lid then another, giving Dean's eyes a thorough washing.

"Just irritation?"

John jutted his chin at Sam. "Don't give me that look, Sam. Dean's aware of the risks in this game."

"No he's not. He's not aware of anything right now, Dad. All he knows is that we've kidnapped and hurt him."

"Well, once we sort everything out he'll be the first one to understand what I did and why. Now, toss me one of his shirts."

Sam found a wrinkled Metallica t-shirt, sniffed it, deemed it clean enough, though it smelled musty from several months of disuse at the bottom of a duffel. Handing it to his dad, he sighed. "How're we gonna undo this? What do we have to do?"

"We'll work it out. Getting him back was our priority. Which reminds me, switch on the TV. We gotta watch the news to see if that shopkeeper made us. Have all our bags ready to go. Don't get settled. We may have to run without notice."

"But Dean's hurt. He needs rest."

"I said we'll stay here for the night if we can. Dean's not in danger. He's drugged and the chloroform was a piss-poor choice, but it's not fatal. He's breathing. His pulse is slow but that's from the tranquilizer. He's stopped vomiting. He'll be fine. Stop worrying." John hooked a pair of cuffs around Dean's wrist again, attached it to the bedpost. He did the same to one of his ankles, adding a short chain and hooking it to the other side, binding him diagonally so that he wouldn't fall off the bed.

"Dad! Do you have to do both? He's not even awake."

"Can't afford the risk, kiddo. He should sleep until tomorrow, but we can't count on anything. You said it yourself, all he knows is he's been kidnapped. He wakes…he's not gonna be too inclined to hang around. You know that. We got a bandana in there?"

Sam raised his eyes in confusion but opened the bag, fished out a blue bandana. "What do you want this for?"

"What do you think? Give it to me."

Sam's mouth fell open. "No Dad, don't. Let him be. He's having a hard enough time breathing as it is. I'll make sure he's quiet."

John grabbed the bandana, twined it in his fingers, considering. "If he so much as moves a pinky, you tell me."

"I will. I promise."

Tossing the bandana back to Sam, John stood, pinched his vomit-spattered shirt, stretching it away from his skin. He wrenched his head to the side, whistled in a steadying breath, "Whoa mother, goddamn I need a shower. I'm gonna lay salt down and hit the head to clean up, five minutes. I'll leave the door ajar. Call me if he moves. Then, I'm sending you out for some chow while I watch him. We passed a taco joint a few blocks back. We're gonna have to keep up our strength. It's gonna be a hell of a time for the next…well, however long this takes."

Sam didn't feel hungry at all, but he knew his dad wouldn't let it go, so he nodded. "Okay, but I'm getting something for Dean, too. Just in case he's hungry when he wakes."

His dad's eyes softened for the first time in weeks. "Sure, kiddo. Of course."

****

With Sam off to buy tacos, John Winchester spooled through his damp hair as he sat on the bed opposite his unconscious son. Christ. He was fighting a battle against an unnamed, unseen enemy, a monster who'd robbed his boy of the one thing he held most sacred—his family. If this was that bastard…that same unholy bastard that took Mary…

"I'll kill you, you sonofabitch." He shouldered away a tear that snaked down his cheek as he compulsively raked his hands up and down his thighs. "You do this to my boy? You'll pay. I swear to God, whoever you are, whatever you are…you're dead."

Sniffing, he cleared his throat then dialed the phone, tapped his fingers impatiently against his jeans while he waited for her to pick up. After three rings, he heard the familiar, warm drawl on the other end.

"John Winchester, that you, honey?"

John couldn't suppress a snort. "How'd you know?"

"Well, that's what I do, of course. I had a feelin' I'd be hearin' from you today."

"I found him, Missouri. I got him. Right where you said he'd be. But everything's fucked."

"John Winchester, you cuss one more time and I'll wallop you into next week, you hear me?" There was a pause as the indignant woman composed herself. "Now slow down, mind your manners an' tell me, what's happened."

"They did something to him. He's changed. And this isn't some bizarro case of Stockholm Syndrome, either. This is something deeper. He doesn't know us. We've cased him for a week, now. Followed him to the grocery store, to the park. Been close enough to touch. He looks right through us every time. Not so much as a spark. Believes he's lived with those people his entire life."

"Slow down, John. Take a br—"

"Everything, all of it, every memory gone. No, strike that. They're not just gone, they've been rewritten or overwritten. Hell I don't know. I broke into his school, got a hold of his records. They go all the way back to kindergarten, detailed records, too, like he's been there this whole time, like he's been yanked out of one life and shoved into another, seamlessly. And that family who had him, Missouri, they're human. I made sure. I got no idea what's happening here, no idea who I'm up against let alone how to undo this. Are they trying to get to me through Dean? Is that their endgame? Hurting me?"

"I don't know. I'm so sorry, John."

"Sorry does me squat, Missouri. What I need is information. I'm playing blind, here. I can't undo this if I don't know who's doing what and why. Have you picked up anything?"

The woman grunted with impatience. "Boy, you think I'm one of Dionne Warwick's psychic friends? I don't have the answers neat as that. I don't. But—" Her voice trailed off, unwilling or uncertain how to proceed.

"But what? Don't hide the truth from me, Missouri. Tell me whatever you know, good or bad."

"Know? I don't know anything for certain."

"Is it what took Mary? Is it?"

Missouri hesitated for a second, then, "It ain't that. I'm certain of it. But there's something different about this. It ain't nothing I've ever sensed before now. I don't understand it."

"A Djinn, maybe?"

"No, not a Djinn."

"But Djinn's can change reality." John refused to give up hope for an easy fix.

"No they can't. Djinns change people's perception of reality. That's a whole lot'a difference, John. But the poor boy ain't the only one affected, here. The couple who been actin' as his mama and daddy, unless they're in on this, they've been altered as well. Think about it, John. That means his extended family, too: aunts , uncles, his friends, teachers—they've all been affected, ripple after ripple, moving out like a big shockwave. Ain't no way it's a Djinn. They don't have that kind'a juice. Ain't much that does, not for somethin' like this. This is real power, John. An' I'm warning you, you got to be so very careful right now. This power, it's—it's pure."

"Meaning…?" When Missouri made no response, John huffed and pinched the bridge of his nose, growing angry. "Say something, dammit. And don't you tell me not to swear, either. I've had enough of this. I'll say what I like. Now, out with it."

The woman sighed, her voice timid, more uncertain, more fearful, than John had ever heard it. "Ever since you first come to me after your boy went missing, ever since the night you called, I been pickin' up this…oh, I dunno…this vibration, I guess you could call it. Only way to describe it. It ain't nothin' like what took your wife, neither. That was the darkest evil. That come through right away. Left a stain behind. But this…this John…when I close my eyes I see…"

"See what…?"

"I see White."

John cocked his head, his brows stewing in confusion. Whatever he'd expected to hear, it wasn't that. "What the hell is that supposed to mean— you see White?"

"It's White against Black, John. The whole world. You hear me? White against Black on down the ages. And White's just made a powerful move."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I think you know what I'm talkin' about. John—" Missouri's timbre softened, like she was in a church. "I mean…the source is Divine, of course."

"Divine…" John chewed the word as though he'd never spoken it.

"Yes, honey."

"Divine as in—what—? No! There's no way in hell."

"No way in Hell is right. Aim higher…much higher."

"You're saying God did this?"

"God? Well, I dunno about that. But whatever done this to your boy, done it using The Almighty's means. One of his agents, maybe. An' He don't parcel out His Grace to just anybody, John. You don't wanna go up against this. Looks to me like what happened must'a happened for a reason. So, you got to be careful. Might be this ain't yours to question or change."

"The hell it isn't. The hell it isn't." John stood and stormed around the room, his eyes glued to his son lying motionless on the bed. "I don't give one good goddamn where this power comes from. Someone took my boy from me, and I will be damned if I let them get away with it."

"John Winchester, you listen to me, now—"

"No. You listen to me. I'm Dean's father, no one else. I decide what's best for him. Not one goddamned thing you've said makes any sense. There's no reason for anyone, let alone God—which is a huge stretch…bastard probably doesn't even exist—there's no reason for him to nab Dean and erase his memories. If this were some all-consuming cosmic goddamned plan to have Dean with those people, then why the hell didn't God just erase our memories, too? You remember Dean. Bobby remembers Dean. Sam and I sure as hell remember Dean. How come, huh? You tell me that! If God…your God, lady, not mine," he spat the name with venom on his tongue, "…if your God is so powerful, why didn't he change everything and everyone?"

"It's odd, I'll grant you."

"If he's so all-knowing like you say, he'd know I'd get my boy back come hell or high heaven—I don't care which. There's no way he wouldn't know that." John paused, but not long enough to let the psychic respond. "No, whoever did this wanted me to remember. It wants something, but it isn't gonna get it. No damn way. I don't give a shit where this power comes from. I'm challenging it. So, what do I gotta do to fight this, huh?"

Sympathy threaded Missouri's words. "I don't know, John. The whole thing is strange, and I don't understand why He would do it, but this ain't something I could fight even if I felt inclined to do so. I—I done enough, here. I can't help you more than this. God's ways may be mysterious, but they ain't evil. They couldn't be evil. He does what He does for the glory of his Kingdom. I got to believe…I got to believe it. I can't go any further. I'm a Christian, a god-fearing woman, John, and I won't go against my Maker. I'm sorry."

"I don't care what you are or who you fear. You tell me how to turn this off."

"You're not hearin' me, honey. I told you. I don't know. Ain't no power I know of can bend His will. Only thing might help is to find someone who practices the old ways of White Magic, someone who can offer a spell, restore your boy's lost memories, maybe. But that won't bend back reality the way it was, won't take away the fact that those other folks believe he's theirs. And they're gonna come lookin' for him, too. You got to know that. So, you're gonna need a powerful soul for this. All I know for certain is it…it ain't me. I don't have that kind'a strength. I'm a Sensitive, I'm not a mage."

"Someone? Who? You mean like a shaman?" John stopped pacing, flipping through his internal rolodex.

"Yes, a shaman, a medicine man, a white witch, any one of those should be able to help, provided they're strong enough."

"Strong enough…right. Right. That gives me a place to start, though."

"In the meantime, you got to castle that boy, get him out of the way. He's standin' on a white square, and it ain't safe."

"Stop talking in riddles, woman."

John heard a scatter of frustrated laughter. "Oh, John, I dearly wish you'd wake up. What I mean is I'm sensin' others will be lookin' in your direction soon. You got to be gone by tomorrow, soon as you can. Take that boy away from where ever you are, take him where he won't be seen."

He checked his watch. "Yeah, okay. Thanks Missouri."

"You're welcome, John. I'll be praying for that boy of yours, and for you."

John released a bullish snort. "You do that. And while you're at it, you give your God a message from me. You tell that bastard if he touches my son again, if he's done anything I can't undo, I'm coming for him, and I'm bringing an arsenal with me. You got that?" He slammed down the phone before the woman could utter anything more than a shocked, gaspy John!

John sat on the edge of Dean's bed, trying to wrap his head around what he'd just learned. Running his fingers over the kid's smooth, tanned arm, the tears came.

"I'll fix this, kiddo. I swear I will, but I need you to fight this thing with me. Sam and me, we need you. We're a mess since you've been gone. Shit, you wouldn't believe what a mess we are. That kid…" He shook his head, sighed. "So, I need you to hear me, way down deep. We'll do our part. You do yours. Fight it."

When John heard the secret knock, he composed himself, swiped his arm under his nose and blinked his eyes dry. He opened the door.

"They forgot the hot sau—" Sam stopped on the threshold, frozen by the anxiety and fear written in John's face. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Get in." John drew his son into the room and closed the door, locked it.

Sam ran to Dean, no doubt fearing he'd taken a turn for the worse. "Something's wrong. What is it?"

"He's fine, Sam. We're fine. I talked to a friend who gave me some good intel, gave me somewhere to start. We're gonna help Dean, but I can't do it alone. So, eat your dinner and then get some sleep. No argument."

"Dad—"

"I said no argument, Sam, and I mean it. Dean needs you. I know where we've gotta go. So, eat up and get some rest. Dean's not gonna sleep forever. When he wakes, things could get ugly. Don't forget that. Don't let down your guard. You gotta prepare yourself for a struggle, both mental and physical. I'll probably have to do and say things to Dean that you're not gonna like. I'm not gonna like it, either, but I need you with me on this one, okay?"

Sam had figured Dean wouldn't be glad to see them, but with that harsh reality now on their doorstep, his heart sank. His voice quavered, "Okay, Dad."

"That's my boy. Tomorrow we'll move out. The sooner we get somewhere quiet and out of sight the better. We have a hell of a long drive ahead of us."

"Where're we going?"

"I need to see an old friend. But no more questions for now. I'm done in. Let's eat."

Sam deflated, his eyes darting to his brother. "This whole thing sucks."

"Yeah, buddy. Don't I know it."

Continue to Chapter 3

 
 
 
jpgrjpgr on February 19th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
Ooh, the plot thickens! I like how you've taken the route that they've always been on Divine radar. He's been touched but not used - at least not this time. Counting down to Sunday
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 19th, 2015 01:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes...I always liked the idea of Dean being every bit as "touched" by Heaven as Sam was by Hell. So, here I really toy with that idea...well that, and I really wanted John and Sam to get an outside view of Dean's ferocious loyalty...but like you said...all that has to wait until Sunday. ;)

Thanks so much, hon.

Kat
gluisa88gluisa88 on February 19th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is so good.

I'm looking forward to Dean waking up!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 19th, 2015 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yep...Dean wakes up next chapter. I had a lot of fun writing it, so I hope it hits the spot. :)

Thanks much, hon!

Kat
tifachingtifaching on February 19th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC)
Missouri needs to be smacked with a spoon for issuing a warning that's incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't play chess and then getting frustrated when she's not understood. *Disclaimer: Just to be clear, I love the way you've written her. I am not a fan of Missouri in general, I think you've captured her perfectly here.*

It is interesting that heaven went to all the trouble of creating this new existence for Dean and left the memories of those who knew him before intact. Can't wait to see how that plays out. I have to wait til Sunday now for him to wake up? Sadist. :)

Edited at 2015-02-19 09:00 pm (UTC)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 19th, 2015 11:40 pm (UTC)
Hahaha...Missouri is definitely a "small doses" kind of character. Don't worry, though...this is her one and only appearance. And I think John can handle her. ;)

Yeah, you know, I always liked the idea of Dean being of particular interest to "Heaven" as Sam was to Hell. So this is me playing around with that idea. Well, you know...that and it gives me the opportunity to torture poor Dean. Hee!

Thanks so much, T! Yep...Dean wakes up next chapter. Sorry for the cruel delay. :P

Kat
lidia1991_anlidia1991_an on February 19th, 2015 10:24 pm (UTC)


Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's not Sunday yet?????
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 19th, 2015 11:41 pm (UTC)
Hehe...not quite yet...but it's not far away. :)

/hugs

Kat
taylorariel on February 20th, 2015 12:40 am (UTC)
"This whole thing sucks." Yeah it does. But this story doesn't!! I love this and I am intrigued where it is leading. Grateful for the update- and the work that went into it- and I wait patiently for the next one. Thank You.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 20th, 2015 02:46 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Taylorariel. I appreciate it so much. Yeah, this is a bit of a mystery that will unravel slowly...but I always loved the idea of Dean being on the Heaven's "radar"...so this is my take on it.

Update coming soon. Take care. :)

Kat
stazzijenstazzijen on February 21st, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
Excellent once again Kat. I love Missouri. One character I would have liked to have seen more of. Thoroughly enjoying your writing once again.

Thank you so much and for the regular updates. I'm loving Dean in this...can't wait for more.

Stazz

xx
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 21st, 2015 07:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks Stazz! Missouri was interesting to write...and a little hard since I only had that one episode to go by. Hehe.

Next update is on deck (on Monday)...and it was terrifically fun to write, so I hope you enjoy it, too! Until then...you have a fantastic weekend!

Kat
jennyjennygeee on February 23rd, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC)
Loved this!

Loved finding out a little of what has happened and intrigued to find out more.

Can't wait for Dean to regain consciousness and see how he reacts to being 'kidnapped' by 'strangers'.

Bless Sam for knowing how to calm Dean down :)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 23rd, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC)
I was really happy with Sam this story. I do have this tendency to side-line him (it's hard not to when you're as Dean!CRAZY as I am. :P), so I wanted to kind of bring out HIS protective side. The little guy grew on me.

Thanks so much!

Kat