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14 May 2012 @ 06:30 am
Dust Devils: At My Window Sad And Lonely (Chapter 7)  

February 20, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Dust Devils

Chapter 7

At My Window Sad And Lonely


February 20, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Sore and wasted from lying in the same position for, well, for however long it had been, Dean shifted, or, at least he thought he did. He might have imagined it. He assumed it was morning, judging from the vague light filtering through the sheet that wafted over the window. He also assumed he'd been given more Laudanum, since it was raining starlight in the room again. His eyes refused to stay open, and he drifted beneath the pain and crystal light, searching for Sam. If he couldn't find the answers he needed, if all he had was that aching void where his memories had been, he'd at least have the solace of Sam's company.

Dean sifted through the darkness. He didn't see Sam, but he could feel him. Neither an impersonal memory nor a sterile image, he sensed Sam's presence—Sam's essence—in the same void Dean now found himself. He tried to call to him—knowing that if he could get to him him, if he could touch him—he'd take Dean away from the ‘wrongness' of this room, the ‘wrongness' of this farm. He just couldn't quite reach…

He opened his eyes to find Emma adjusting a dripping sheet over the window. The room was much brighter than it had been the last time he'd cracked his lids, and the Laudanum-induced, psychedelic light-show had fizzled. Shifting position to take pressure off his back, he blew out a frustrated sigh when his effort bought him a tingling ache in his shoulder. The pain wasn't as bad as it had been, but it was enough to hold him back. And piss him off.

"Dean…" Emma swept over to him and grabbed an extra pillow to help him to get comfortable.. "You's awake. How do you feel?"

"I'm okay."

"I know you's tired of lyin' here in pain. But you's gittin' better. It's just gonna take a little bit longer." She sat on the edge of the bed and helped him sit against the pillows. "I need to see to your shoulder and clean it up a little." She reached for the bottle of Laudanum.

"No, please." He stopped her with his good hand. "I can't take any more of that stuff. I'm gonna go crazy from lying here and sleeping all the time. I should be okay without it."

She put the bottle down. "All right, but you tell me if'n it gits to be too much. Promise?"

"I promise."

Peeling back the bandage and poultice from his shoulder, she placed a hot cloth over the wound and laid her hand on Dean's head when he hissed.

"It's fine." He stifled a groan. "It's just hot. I'm good." The woman gave him a moment to master himself and then began cleaning the wound. Dean focused on the crack of light coming through shrouded window to take his mind off the pain. "What time is it?"

"It's a little after 9:00am. You been sleepin' for about thirteen hours. We had to give you something for the pain when you first come to, ‘cause you was talkin' out'a your head agin."

Gritty dust abraded his clenched teeth as he glanced around the room. "Where's Florabel?" he asked, surprised she hadn't been the one to poke him awake.

Emma quirked a half-wry smile. "She's been pesterin' me all morning to let her come sit a spell with you. But she ain't done no schoolwork in days. I set her to workin' on some math and spelling. It's too dangerous to be sending her to school. Kids is passin' around measles to one another and they ain't no way to git her home if'n a black blizzard comes." She finished wiping the wound and gently examined it. "Well, no matter what happened last night, this is lookin' so much better, Dean. You cain't know just how far you come, but this is leaps ahead of where you was. All them angry red lines is gone, and they's almost no more infection in the wound. Probably be able to take the packing out for good tomorrow, and we'll just let it close on its own."

She was quiet for a moment then sighed. "I'm sorry about what Slaid said and done last night."

Slaid. Dean recalled their exchange and the accidental bump into his shoulder. He remembered Slaid using one of the words in the incantation Dean had heard when he'd been held captive by the storm, and he flushed hot with the desire to find the sonofabitch and force him to confess what he knew about it. The bastard had done something—something that had gone terribly wrong—and Dean'd had wound up here as a result. He knew it in his gut.

"Who the hell is that guy?" he asked. "Why would you let him treat Florabel like that? She was terrified of him."

Emma met his eye. "Florabel don't like him. That's a fact. And Slaid knows just what buttons to push to get her goat. But she also has a big imagination. I ain't sayin' that's a bad thing, neither, but she cain't let her imagination run so wild she accuses folks of being something they ain't." She bent Dean's arm, stretching it in small increments. "Does that hurt too much?"

"Not too bad. I can even move it now, a little."

"That's good." She continued to massage the limb. "Florabel sees fairies in the chicken coop." She arched an eyebrow. "An' one day she came and told me they was a gnome in my cucumber patch." She put her hand in his. "Can you grip my hand at all?"

Dean squeezed her hand until the pain and tingling stopped him. "There," he said with a wince.

"You got a strong grip, there. You's doin' real good. I bet you git most of your movement back without much fuss. Now that the swelling is going down in your shoulder, things is gonna move back to their rightful place agin. You wait an' see." She continued to work his muscles. "Florabel is scared ‘a Slaid, because he don't have no sense and because he's superstitious and has an accent. But I'm thinkin' she ain't really seen him turn into a monster." She smiled and patted his hand lightly. "I know you cain't remember things real good right now, but people don't just change into monsters, Dean. That ain't the way the world works. Don't make her wrong for not likin' him, but she has to learn how to git along with folks."

"I don't think it's just his accent. Something about him is not right." Dean couldn't articulate what he meant, but his instincts told him Slaid was dangerous.

"Oh, he's rude and dull, but he done a lot of good for us, too. An' I owe his mama a debt I cain't never repay."

"His mother?"

"Slaid's mama was midwife to me when Florabel and Hen—Henry was born." She swallowed. "H—Henry was my son."

Dean met her tragic eyes. "Florabel told me about Henry. I'm so sorry."

Anguish feathered across her face. She nodded, pursed her thin lips and took a moment to shutter the view. She cleared her throat. "I had a hard time birthin' Florabel." She went on. "I was just nineteen years old, and it had been a long, hard labor. When she started comin' out, she was turned all wrong. Slaid's mama saved both our lives that night. It came real close for Florabel, in especial. She weren't cryin' or breathin' an' we almost had to give up, but Slaid's mama held her, rattled her a minute and then put her mouth over Florabel's and breathed life right into her."

The young woman began redressing Dean's shoulder. "His mama died last year. Since then, Slaid's been with us. I know he can be sore and un-neighborly, but I cain't just turn him out, neither. That would be disrespectful to his mama who kept us both alive. An' no matter what else he is or he ain't, Slaid come through for me when Henry died. He watched over Florabel when I was too bad off with grief to do much those first few weeks. I ain't never gonna forget that kindness, no matter what. Not that I think he should be rude to you or to Florabel. I gave him a stern talkin' to for what he done, and he shouldn't be botherin' neither one of you. If'n he does, you just let me know and I'll handle him." She finished her work and gave Dean a pat. "Try not to worry about him."

Dean digested that for a moment. He couldn't argue the point with her, at least not yet. "What does Ördög mean? Slaid said it last night."

"I only know the gist of it," Emma said. "Slaid is mighty superstitious. He thought you was brung here by some spirit or shade ‘cause of the way we first found all that damage and you sleepin' in the middle of it all. Some of them boards weren't even from our barn. Don't know how they come to be here anymore than how you done."

"What kind of damage exactly?"

"If I didn't' know better, I'd say it was a small twister or dust-devil that hit." She laughed at the theory. "But I ain't never seen anything like that inside a barn before."

Dean tensed. "Was Slaid there?"

"I don't know where Slaid was that night. He never said he saw anything."

"And Ördög means what?"

She shrugged. "It's Hungarian, like him. I think it means devil or demon. He calls you Devil Fighter. But like I said, he's mighty superstitious. I wouldn't put no stock in it."

Dean said no more about Slaid. He'd have to investigate later. There was something going on, he knew it. Emma either couldn't or wouldn't see it. In any case, she was a dead end. He'd look into it as soon as he could get out of this bed.

"Emma," Dean asked the question uppermost in his mind. "I think I have a memory of some kind. It's confusing. I don't exactly remember him, but I keep seeing a man. He has shaggy, dark brown hair. A tall guy, dimples—in his early twenties. Do you know anybody like that? His name might be Sam."

Emma considered the question. "I don't know nobody like that. But you was callin' for Sam last night when you was in a bad way. I don't know him, but I reckon you do. You just don't remember him, yet. I lived in this town my whole life, an' I ain't never seen you before, Dean. I don't think you's from anywhere around here. Maybe Sam is someone you know from where you first come from. Once you remember that, they's a good chance you'll know where to find him."

"This is so damned frustrating." Dean ran his hand through his hair, exasperated. "He's important. I need to remember."

"Fevers do bad things to people, Dean. You's gittin' better every day. You'll remember in your own time. Don't fret."


February 9, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

Dean barely remembered his own name, unable to think past the angry throbbing in his shoulder. Sitting on the lip of the tub, he tried to pull himself together before Sam busted down the door. Running a hand through his sweaty hair, he gathered enough energy to rise and remove his shirt. With a sigh, he stood and stifled a cry as he eased his left arm and shoulder out of the sleeve. Ribbons of red infection veined outward from the bandage.

"Fuck." He gingerly removed the gauze pad. "Mother fucker." He hissed as he examined the bullet hole, now clotted and fat with pus. Galled tatters of dying flesh blackened the edges of the wound. Dark spots swam before his eyes, and he white-knuckled the sink to keep from hitting the floor. After steadying himself, he turned on the faucet and rinsed the wound with warm water. The sudden knock at the door, no matter how inevitable, sent jarring shocks of pain through his arm, and he staggered back in a daze. Recovering, he locked the door right as Sam went to open it. The younger hunter jiggled the lock.

"Dean, man, open the door."

Dean's clumsy fingers lost their grip on the tube of antibiotic cream, and it dropped to the floor. "Just give me a damn minute, Sam." He forced a strong, steady voice. Measuring the daunting distance between him and the tube on the floor, he hoped to fuck he could get up once he'd retrieved the ointment.

"Just let me in."

Dean felt the bitchface through the door as he picked up the tube and rebalanced himself. He needed to shut Sam up, he needed to sit, he needed to take a moment before he fell, but he stubbornly held on and squeezed a generous helping of antibiotic cream on the wound.

"Jesus Christ, Sam, give it a rest." He tore open a sterile bandage with his teeth and pressed it onto the wound, patting the adhesive tape to his hot, dry shoulder. His body shuddered with a suppressed moan. "You can't possibly want to see my junk that bad."

"Not funny, Dean. Let me in. Let me help you, man."

"Sammy, I've been chokin' the chicken for—what?—fourteen years, now, all by myself. Thanks for the offer, though. I think I got it covered." He pulled his shirt on quickly, taking the pain all at once instead of piecemeal. Gripping his shoulder, he doubled over, trying to muffle his ragged, erratic breathing. "Perv!" he yelled just so that he could belt out something.

"Goddamn it, Dean," Sam said, giving the door one final thump of defeat.

"I'm fine, Sam. I'm better today. It's healing, I swear. I'll be out in five." Sinking onto the toilet seat, he wiped the sweat from his face with a trembling hand. He braced his right arm on the sink and rested his forehead against his balled fist. He wasn't fine. He wasn't better. But he sure as shit wasn't going to let Sam wallow in guilt over it. Eyeing a bottle of ibuprofen, he fumbled with the cap and dry-swallowed four tablets, hoping they'd get him through the next few hours of interviews. It was going to be a long day.


February 20, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

He was so done with this shit. It was past noon, and he couldn't bear another minute in that bed. He kicked the covers off and sat up. It wasn't graceful, it wasn't pretty, but he rose under his own steam, and even though it'd taken the next twenty minutes to dress himself, he'd done it. Well, most of it. He couldn't clasp the overalls to save his life, and he gave up on the sling after buggering that, too.

"Sonofabitch," he said to the knotted mess. Cradling his arm, he headed out the door, straps and sling jumbled together and dragging behind him like a limp parachute.

Once in the hallway, he followed the sound of voices coming from somewhere nearby. Wandering past the kitchen and through an old dining room, he found himself in a small, tidy parlor. Emma and Florabel knelt there, elbow-deep in a bucket of cream-colored paste, dipping thin strips of sheeting into the sludge. They glanced up as one when Dean cleared his throat.

"Pally!" Florabel made to rush the young man, but Emma collared the child.

"Hands, Florabel."

The little girl looked at her coated hands. "Rawr!" She displayed her gooey claws for Dean's inspection, growling. "I'm a paste monster!"

"Wipe." Emma handed her daughter a wet cloth and toweled her own hands as she rose. "Dean." She greeted him and then noticed the overall straps and sling dangling uselessly behind him. "Gracious. Let me help you."

"Sorry. I wasn't able to…" He fumbled with the tangled mess.

Emma couldn't hold back a small chuckle. "Oh my, you are a sight, here. Let me see if I can…" She set to work, humming and tsking as she unraveled everything.

"I—I just needed to get out of that room."

"Of course you did. There we go." She sorted everything out, hooking the strap and helping him into the sling. "Let's git you sittin' and you can rest a spell. You sit right here with us, and if'n you need anything or want to lie down, we'll git you fixed up in no time." Before Dean could reply, Florabel ran to him.

"Pally!" Florabel leaned against his knee. "We's gonna weather the windows so the dust stays out, an' I git to work the paste!" Emma pulled the sheet away from the parlor's large picture window, revealing Dean's first view of the outside world. Shocked, he rose and went to the window, peering about in bewildered awe.

That he suffered from memory problems was undeniable, but this—this was all wrong. This was other-worldly. Ashen dust gauzed the dips and rolls of the land as far as the eye could see. It rippled in endless dunes and divots, swelling to large drifts and then blowing away to reveal clumps of tortured grass lying flat. Battered tufts of vegetation clung to the unstable, naked earth as the wind ripped at roots, marauding the nearby dirt and spinning it into the bleak sky. This was not Dean's world. It had never been his, he was absolutely sure of it.

"Wind ain't so bad today. Prolly gonna kick up agin, though." Florabel stood by his side, sharing his view. "'Cause it's the blow-season."

"What the hell happened here?" Dean took another horrified glance. Florabel shrugged.

"Language, Mr. Hetfield." Emma chided him and glanced outside. "Same thing that's been happening for years now. Ain't been no rain to speak of. Lots'a folks is givin' up and movin' to California." She attached a pasted strip to the windowsill, pressing it into the cracks. "We ain't gonna move, so we gotta just try and keep the dust out. It cain't stay like this forever. Rain's gonna come back one day."

"But all the plants is dyin' of thirst, Pally. Old Jeb says if'n it gets much drier the bushes is gonna start to follow the dogs around to try an' git a little sprinkle."

"Florabel, hush."

"Why, Mama? That's what Old Jeb says. He would know."

Dean helped mold the sheeting to the highest corner when Emma strained to reach, but he continued to watch the dust shift and blow as he worked. He felt more alien and out of place than ever. This world was barren, twisted and hungry, and it made him feel rootless and lonely. He thought of the boy in his visions, of Sam, and he wondered how they'd come to be separated if they were as close as he believed them to be, and how he'd ended up in this wasteland.


Febrary 9, 2007—Boise City, Oklahoma

"It's true, about half my crew is just farm-boys doing temp work. We're a small community, here, and we don't do all that much construction, so when we get a good-sized job like this, we gotta hire who we can. These boys are hard workers, though. They know their way around the trade, and they ain't prissy college dummies, neither." Gerry leveled a dubious glance at the boys. Sam shifted in his seat. "I can promise you, we're doing everything by the book."

"Well, we'd like to take a look around, just the same. Can you give us a tour?" Dean asked, unconsciously rubbing his arm. "We'd like to inspect—"

Without taking his eyes off his brother, Sam cut him off. "You know what, Gerry? Um, we're probably okay for now. Why don't you just tell us what's been happening here." Sam looked from his brother to the contractor and back again.

Dean gave him a WTF?—look. "No, I think we should inspect the site, right Sam? Take a good, long walk around and make sure everything's up to code?" Dean said with a nudging nod. Gerry watched the two, his head bobbing back and forth like a spectator at Wimbledon.

Sam gave his brother a bitchy smile. "Um, no," he said. "We should let Gerry tell us what's been going on first. Then he can show me around the place while you take care of that thing you need to take care of." He served a look right back at his brother's shoulder.

Dean shrugged. "I think everything is taken care of, Sam. Not sure what you mean."

Sam released a hiss of angry steam. "Gerry," he turned to the confused but entertained contractor, "this land, who owns it? What kind of history does it have?"

"Huh? History?" Gerry asked.

"Well, we'd like to know for legal purposes, liability and all of that. And if there are any environmental issues going on, we'd like to know what the land's been used for," Sam said.

"Well, the land's owned by the airport over yonder." He nodded toward the small airstrip that served the county. "But historically this used to be farmland. If I recollect right, this was Mad Dog's place for the longest time."

"Mad Dog?" Dean asked. "Who's that?"

"Mad Dog? Mad Dog was our Doc for years and years, since the 50's I reckon. Retired back in the 90's. Sill volunteers at the clinic and helps Doc Haffner a day or two a month, though. Older than dirt and ready to cuss you out if you so much as look funny. Hell, more'n once Doc slapped me upside the head for doin' stupid shit when I was growin' up—like the time I broke my ankle while racin' grocery carts when I was eleven years old." Gerry chuckled at the memory. "Old Mad Dog smacked me first, then X-rayed me second. I think this was Doc's land until it was sold to the airport.

"Mad Dog sold most of the land decades ago, so only this small parcel where the house and barn once stood is left. An' Mad Dog finally let it go to the airport. Doc's got another farm down south a ways. Still works the land a little, too. Organic farmin' or some such nonsense. But you don't argue with Mad Dog, no sir, you don't. Doc's got a vicious bite." He grinned. "But I'll write down the address for you an' you can go and see for yourself if Mad Dog knows more about what the land was used for. All I know for sure is that the land sat vacant for decades. Ain't no toxic waste dump, though. I can attest to that. It was all just farmland. Any other questions about liability is gonna have to be directed to the Transportation Authority, ‘cause the airport is gonna have to answer legally." He wrote down an address and handed the slip to Sam.

"The house and barn. Do you know where they once stood?" Sam asked.

Gerry nodded. "County records show the old farmhouse stood where the parking lot is gonna be once we're done with the construction. The actual building just covers the land where some out-structures once was, the barn and some sheds. We found the old well shaft and done away with that early on."

Dean flinched as he resituated his left arm. "Do you know if anyone was buried on the land?"

"What the hell kind ‘a question is that?"

"We're just trying to cover all bases here. Need to know if there are any other…holes or—air pockets," Sam said.

Dean rolled his eyes at him and mouthed the word smooth. Sam retorted with a silent shut up!

Gerry chuckled. "You boys from OSHA or the Scooby-Doo mystery-club? I think you been takin' Matt too seriously." He laughed again. "Ain't no one buried on the land that I know of. We ain't dug no one up, that's for sure. But again, you can ask Mad Dog any of those questions. Now, you want me to show you boys around or not?"

"Yes," Dean responded.

"No," Sam said at the exact same time.

Gerry sat back and smirked as the two men continued to spar with their eyes. "You boys should watch some Dr. Phil. Do you both a world a' good."


February 21, 1935—Boise City, Oklahoma

Despite having used his arm more than he should have the day before, Dean woke feeling his best yet. The wound was even beginning to itch. That in itself was a whole new kind of torment, but one that Dean found to be far more tolerable than the bone-deep throb of infection. He'd even been able to get the sling on by himself, which also improved his overall mood.

Pouring some water into the basin, he splashed his neck and face. When the refreshing water struck his parched skin, he hissed and gripped the cabinet as a mild vision hit him. He saw himself standing under a hot stream of water—a…shower. Massaging his temples as the vision faded, he lamented the fact that the Livingstons likely didn't have one of those. He added showering to the short-list of reasons why he needed to remember his life.

He peered into the mirror and wiped his face with a towel. Running his fingers through his limp hair, he fussed with the short bangs drooping onto his forehead. That was all wrong, too. Fighting the mess with one hand, he stopped short when Florabell released a tortured cry from a nearby room. He bolted out the door before he knew he'd moved.

Turning the bend, he saw Emma holding her daughter and rubbing some kind of ointment on her. Dean recoiled as a rancid, feral stench hit his nostrils. Florabel shrieked again.

"Florabel, you hold still and stop that fussin'. I'll be done in a minute." Emma persisted with her vigorous swipes.

Slaid sat at the table drinking coffee and laughing. "No one will want to git close to the little one now. Even the monsters will stay away." Slaid made a whooping sound and plugged his nose.

"Slaid…" Emma issued a savage warning. "I ain't gonna tell you agin."

"Ow, Mama, no!" Florabel loosed another ear-piercing yelp as Emma smeared the paste on her chest. "Mama!" Catching sight of Dean standing in the archway, her face crumbled with humiliation, and she buried her head in her mother's neck. "Don't smell me, Pally." She gulped and hiccoughed. "Don't smell me. I'm disgusting!"

"Hey, what's all this?" Dean forced his way through the effluvium and bent down, tugging on one of the little girl's braids. When Florabel burrowed deeper into her mother's neck, Dean looked at Emma.

Emma sighed. "She gits a bad cough from the dust. The skunk oil and turpentine loosens the dirt and gits it up and out'a her lungs. She don't like the smell." She coaxed her daughter to stand, rubbing more ointment on her chest despite the child's bitter protests.

Dean pivoted to get a cleaner breath of air and wipe the water from his eyes, but the child's wounded sobs drew him back. "Hey, don't cry, Florabel. That skunk oil doesn't fool me for a minute. I can still smell how pretty you are underneath it." He thumbed her cheek. The little girl fought her tears as Emma applied another coat to Florabel's throat.

"I ain't gonna smell nice for days now." She snuffled.

Dean thought a moment. "Well, you know, the dust is making me cough a lot, too. Now, I don't remember things too well, it's true, but I don't think there's as much dust where I come from. My lungs aren't used to all this." He coughed in demonstration. Steeling himself, he dipped two fingers into the ointment and rubbed it on his neck and chest. "There…" he said between swallows, "…we smell exactly alike now." He cleared his throat and fought his gag-reflex. Taking shallow breaths, he gave her a nod and his best, winning smile.

Emma sat back on her heels and shook her head in dumbfounded gratitude and admiration.

The little girl giggled through her tears. "We both smell horrible," she said, licking a tear off her lip.

Slaid stood. "Slaid cain't take the stink. Best go an' help Jeb check traps." He slammed the door behind him.

Dean and Florabel looked at each other and grinned. He nodded to the spot vacated by Slaid and wiggled his eyebrows. "Well, see? There's always a silver lining, right?" He held up his right hand. "High-five me."

"High-what?" Florabel asked, not understanding but laughing at his naughty expression.

"High-five me. Here…slap my hand." He waved it in the air above her. She gave his palm a gleeful slap. "All right! There you go."

"You's a little strange, Pally," she said. "Gittin' all smelly and smackin' five. I ain't never done that before. You think they do that a lot where you come from?"

"I—I guess they must," he said, suddenly confused. He wondered where any of that had come from. Emma interrupted his thoughts.

"I'm gonna git some eggs and grits cookin'. You think you's ready to try some?" she asked, wiping the rest of the skunk grease from her hands.

Dean nodded. "I'm starving, actually. I'll try anything."

Grabbing his good hand, Florabel pulled him along. "Come on, Pally. While Mama fixes breakfast, you come an' play marbles with me."

"Florabel, don't you be forcin' him to play with you. He still needs his rest." Emma scolded the girl and tossed Dean an apologetic glance.

"It's fine." He let Florabel lead him away. "I don't know how to play marbles, though. You'll have to show me."

She brought him into the parlor and pointed to a spot on the floor. "You sit right here, Pally. I'll mark the circle." She pinned a strand of yarn onto the large throw rug, creating a circle about three feet in diameter. Stealing a glance at her mother, busy in the kitchen, she turned to Dean, whispering. "My mama plays with me sometimes."

"Oh yeah? Is she a good player?"

"She's good at just about everything, Pally." She stopped her work and thought for a moment, staring at the wall as though it held secrets. "Do you think my mama is pretty?"

Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Uh…a little random. Why would you ask something like that?" Florabel gave him an innocent smile.

"Just wonderin'." She continued setting up the game-circle. "I think she's pretty. An' my papa said she was the prettiest girl in Oklahoma." She stuck her finger in her mouth and sucked thoughtfully. "Of course, she's old now. She's something like twenty six or twenty seven years old! But for bein' so old, I think she's beautiful. Don't you?"

"Uh…" Dean felt nine kinds of awkward. "Yeah, she is."

Florabel nodded and shrugged as if it was a no-brainer. "She is. And you's mighty handsome. I bet a nickel Mama thinks you's handsome, too." When Dean responded with a flat stare, she rocked back and forth on her knees. "You know," she spelled it out, "so maybe you can kiss her and you won't need to remember nothin' else but our farm."

"Florabel…" Dean held up his hand. "I don't think things work like that." He searched her hopeful, expectant face. "Your mama is pretty, but she's still real sad about your papa and Henry."

"I reckon that's a fact." The little girl nodded her head. "But she ain't a-gonna git happy again until she ups and decides to think about somethin' else. An' she don't say it, but she likes you. I can tell."

Dean shook his head, embarrassed. "How would you know that?"

"Because her eyes smile when she looks at you. An' that ain't happened since before my Papa died," she said. "Mama's pretty, but she looks even prettier when her whole face smiles, not just her lips."

Not knowing what to say to that, Dean said nothing. The last thing he wanted to do was upset this family's world. He owed them more than he could repay, but he was certain he didn't belong there. The particulars of his past remained a mystery to him, but he knew there was something important he was supposed to be doing and that his arrival there had been unintentional. Once he remembered his life, he'd have to leave. He had no doubt about that.

Turning a marble in his fingers, he cleared his throat. "Um, yeah…so how do you play this game?"

Florabel watched him for a moment but then hunched her shoulders, taking the marble from him. "It's real easy and fun, Pally." She counted thirteen marbles and tossed them inside the circle. "Now we ain't gonna play for keepsies, because you don't got no marbles. But all you do is take this shooter." She handed him a large marble. "And you knuckle down, like this." She tucked her shooter between her thumb and forefinger and rested her hand on the ground, knuckles down. "And you try to knock as many mibs out'a the circle as you can." She flicked her shooter and hit a few marbles but none of them made it beyond the border of the yarn circle. "Okay, I didn't git any outside, so I lost my turn. Now you go. If'n you hit any outside, then you git to go agin. Keep your shooter in the circle, though!"

Dean felt a profound sense of familiarity as he sized up the marbles and planned his move. He knuckled down and let the shooter go. The instant he heard the clack of marble against marble, he found himself far, far away. As the vision came into focus he found himself in a dimly lit room, bent over a large, green table. He heard the satisfying smack of cue on ball and the expected thump as it rolled into the pocket. He grinned up at Sam who returned the smile along with an eye roll of mock exasperation at Dean's triumphant cackle.

The sense of kinship and shared bond tugged at him, and Dean couldn't help but reach out again. His need for contact was more instinctual than his need to eat or drink. Sam was right there holding that pool cue. He was so close. Dean fought against the small hands shaking him, struggled to escape the little fingers prying his eyes open, forcing him to wake. He didn't want to go back. Sam was right fucking there, and if he was close enough to touch, he was close enough to remember. He was so close. Dean groaned in protest as the vision melted away and the Livingston's parlor came into view.

"Where's Sam?" he asked, too drowsy and upended to understand where he was. It took a moment to recognize the worried faces hovering over him. He struggled to rise.

"Dean," the woman said. "Stay still a moment. Catch your breath before you try and git up."

"Ugh." He moved his right arm from underneath him. Noticing marbles scattered everywhere, he remembered he'd been playing with Florabel. His fingers grazed the painful rug-burn on his forehead he'd gotten from falling. "Sonofa…" Still confused, he stopped short, noticing Florabel patting him. "Sammy?"

"Don't worry, Pally. It's just me and Mama. We gotcha. Ain't nothin' to worry about. You don't need Sam. You got us." Florabel's tearful eyes melted his heart.

To Be Continued…

Back to Master Post

Continue to Chapter 8

beckydaspazbeckydaspaz on May 14th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
There is SO much to love about this chapter.

I quite enjoy how you have sneaked in Sam/Dean-ness without really having Sam and Dean together. It's sneaky and wonderful.

I really, REALLY like how well you are developing your side characters, they aren't just there to make Dean look good, or take care of him, they are people in their own right and all the delicious little facts and stories make them so REAL to me. It's an impressive quality.

You had several LOL moments, mixed in with the heartache and worry, it makes this whole thing SO bloody fantastic. :)

Your talent is fresh and original and I can't wait to read more of this very amazing story.

*hugs and jealousy*

sharlot1926sharlot1926 on May 15th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Thanks Puddin'-pop! You know I appreciate it. Yeah, it's definitely hard to keep the boys separated for so long, because so much of each of their characters is based upon how they act and react together! It's HARD to not have that with Dean stuck in 1935. So, telling the back story works for me, because I can relax and let the boys be "the boys" in that respect.

Thanks again! You are too dadgum kind!

deangirl1deangirl1 on May 15th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
I'm keep meaning to leave comments (LOVE) but I always seem to be on the wrong browser... but I had to leave a comment for this chapter...
I'm adoring the entire story!
Love how you are interweaving the timelines (especially that as one Dean gets better, another gets sicker - LOL)...
Love how you are carefully building your characters - and the descriptions - loved Dean's horror at the 1935 landscape...
I am eagerly awaiting every chapter!!!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on May 15th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
Aw, bless your heart! I appreciate that!

Ha! Yes, if I'm not kicking Dean's ass in one time-zone, I'm kicking it in another. Shame on me! LOL. Poor guy.

I definitely wanted to explore the Dust Bowl...or rather, to have Dean explore it. So, yes, I definitely get a kick out of his reactions. Of course he can't remember precisely WHERE he is from or where he should be, but he definitely knows it ain't there!

Thanks so very much for your kind words and encouragement! I sincerely appreciate it.
tifachingtifaching on May 21st, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Sam's getting closer and closer. One of these time's Dean's going to reach him and it's all going to come back.

Oh, Florabel. Matchmaking so her Ma will be happy and Dean will stay. Well, who wouldn't want Dean to stay. I sure would.

I loved the scene at the construction site and how you're releasing information at just the right time. I t used to be the farm? Lovely.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on May 21st, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
Oo! I love how you picked up on the boys "touching". That makes me a happy writer! Yes, yes, and YES! If only Dean could jusssst reach Sam...perhaps his memories would return.

Yeah, you can't blame Florabel for trying! I know I would wrap my arms around his leg and make him drag me along with him as he tried DESPERATELY to escape!!! Ha! Oh Dean...you cannot be that damned awesome and beautiful and NOT expect that. C'mon!

Thanks so much for the comment! I appreciate it so, so much!
Rince1windrince1wind on May 21st, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
Poor Florabel. She needs another caring grownup, and knows her mom does too, so badly. The scene where Dean looked out and saw the barren, dusty earth like an alien landscape was especially effective.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on May 21st, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
Oh man, thank you so much for that. I'm really glad the description worked.

Yeah, Florabel needs and totally deserves a father figure. I sense that she had a great relationship with her real dad and wants to have that again for herself and for her mom. Poor little thing!

Thanks much for the comment! Y'rock!