TITLE: Dick Casablancas and the Jelly Bean Trail (Or the One Where Dean and Veronica Go Camping) [2/2]
AUTHOR: Sonya (virtualinsomnia
SERIES: Mars & Winchester Investigations
FANDOM(S): Supernatural, Veronica Mars
CHARACTER(S): Dean, Veronica, Lilly, Wallace and some of the ‘09er boys
SUMMARY: The dead weren’t supposed to talk to you. Not if you weren’t Haley Joel Osment, at any rate.
TIMELINE/SPOILERS: Totally AU, but time-wise it’s the equivalent of early S1 on both shows. So if you haven’t seen the early stuff, there could be spoilers, especially for SPN 1x02.
THANKS: To carynsilver
, for her kick-ass beta-fu. To kernelm
, for the last-minute read through. And to all the people who left me such nice comments on the first story and kept asking about a sequel. I know it’s been a long time coming, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy it!
NOTE: According to VM, Neptune is located somewhere between LA and San Diego; according to SPN, Black Water Ridge is in Lost Creek, which Google tells me is in central Colorado, not too far from Denver. According to Google maps, it takes about 15 hours to drive from Los Angeles to Denver (not counting stops). So that’s how I determined driving times, since I’ve never driven from LA to Denver myself. If my time estimate is wrong, I blame Google. :-P
DEDICATION: Inspired by medie
, for she is made of awesome.
This is the second installment in a series. You can find the first one here:Aaron Echolls and the Ghostly Trollop (Or the One Where Dean and Veronica See Dead People)
The car was an ocean of uncomfortable silence until they were only a few hours outside of Lost Creek.
It was Veronica who cracked first.
“You have to talk to me sometime, you know.”
Veronica tried in vain to catch Dean’s eye, but he ignoried her under the guise of driving extra carefully.
“C’mon, Dean,” she wheedled. “You’re the one who was going to leave me behind to wring my hands and darn socks while you ran off to play the part of the dashing hero. If anything, it’s me who should be mad at you.”
A muscle in Dean’s jaw twitched, but he kept his eyes resolutely focused on the road.
Veronica sighed in exasperation. “You can’t honestly have thought it’d be smart to go wandering around monster-infested woods without someone along to watch your back. You need me.”
That got his attention.
“No way,” he said. “You are not
coming with me to Blackwater Ridge. We’re checking into a hotel in Lost Creek, and you’re staying in the room.”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “Oh, right, because leaving me behind worked out so well for you last time.”
“This is not up for negotiation, Ace. If you so much as think
about trying to follow me, I will tie you to the damn bed.”
Veronica arched an eyebrow. “Sounds kinky. Will there be leather and handcuffs involved?”
“I’m serious,” Dean reiterated. “You’re not coming with me.”
“No,” Veronica countered, “I’m
serious. I can’t just stay behind and do nothing.”
“Look, Veronica, it’s not safe for—”
“No,” she cut him off. “Don’t placate me, okay? I’m not a kid. I know it’s dangerous, but I need to find him. I need to make sure he’s okay.”
Dean gave her an unreadable look. “And if he’s not okay?”
“Then I need to see it for myself.”
Dean clenched his jaw, and Veronica could practically see the different arguments running through his head. She lifted her chin and met Dean’s gaze unflinchingly, stopping him before he even got started. “This isn’t something you can protect me from, Dean.”
Dean sighed. “No, but it should be.” And for a second he looked almost impossibly young and fragile. It made Veronica want to wrap him up in her arms and tell him everything was going to be okay. But then the moment passed; his jaw locked, and he stared ahead at the road, shutting her out again. It was like a wall had slammed down between them, and suddenly they were miles apart.
Dean silently reached out a hand and flipped on the radio, messing with the dial until he picked up some old rock station which was playing a song that set Veronica’s teeth on edge. But she tuned it out and turned to look out the window instead, watching the scenery fly past and wondering why things with Dean Winchester could never be easy.
She fell asleep to the soothing rumble of the Impala’s motor and the sound of wailing guitars. When she slept, she dreamt of Lilly, but her best friend wouldn’t talk to her. She just sat there by the Kane’s swimming pool, blood dripping sluggishly down her forehead, and looked at Veronica with accusing eyes. When Veronica tried to touch Lilly’s face, her fingers passed through skin as insubstantial as smoke.
Veronica blinked in confusion, and the next thing she knew, she was in an old-fashioned looking bedroom. She turned in a circle, taking in the ruffled, lace curtains and mahogany furniture. It was the kind of place she and her dad never could have afforded, not in a million years.
She felt something wet fall into her hair, like rain, and wondered how it could be raining inside of a house. Another drop landed on her forehead, and when she touched her finger to it, her fingertip came back red. She looked up. She immediately wished she hadn’t.
Lilly was there, pinned to the ceiling, wearing a prim, white nightgown unlike anything she’d ever owned when she was alive. As Veronica watched, horrified, a circle of red appeared on her abdomen, slowly expanding and soaking through the pristine, white fabric.
Lilly opened her mouth, but when she spoke, it wasn’t her voice that Veronica heard. It was the voice of a man that she didn’t recognize. The voice whispered her name, and it sent chills racing down Veronica’s spine.
Lilly’s form seemed to shift and expand right before her very eyes, and soon Veronica was looking up at a young man with shaggy, dark hair and haunted eyes. He was somehow familiar, even though she knew she’d never seen him before.
He spoke again, but his words were muffled, and she couldn’t understand them. Something told her that if she could just figure out what he was saying, everything would become clear, but try as she might, she couldn’t make out the words.
She felt a presence behind her, something dark and malevolent, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away from the man on the ceiling.
A hand closed around her arm, fingers curling tightly around her bicep. She felt sharp nails digging into her skin.
And then she heard a crackling noise, like rustling paper.
Her entire body felt white hot, like she was burning up from the inside, and she opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out.
The hand on her arm shook her roughly, and suddenly she could hear a familiar voice.
She closed her eyes, latching onto the comforting voice as a way to block out the searing heat that licked at her body like a hellish lover’s caress.
“Wake up, Veronica.”
It was Dean
She woke up with dried tears on her cheeks, but Dean didn’t say anything about it, though his eyes lingered on her for a long time, his expression unreadable. He watched her for so long that she wondered if she’d said something in her sleep and began to fidget uncomfortably.
“We’re here,” he finally said, opening the door and sliding out of the car. She looked out her window and saw trees everywhere. The Impala rested at the end of a dirt trail that was barely wide enough for a car to pass through it. They’d obviously reached the end of the road, because the trees closed in on the path in front of them, making further travel impossible, unless it was by foot.
There was a small clearing off to the side that was clearly intended for campers to park their cars in, judging by all the trampled grass. She recognized Logan’s yellow Xterra among the vehicles there.
Veronica climbed out of the car and had to fight off a shiver when the chill from the early morning air began to set into her bones. She wrapped her jacket more tightly around her and watched as Dean pulled a pack of supplies out of the backseat of the Impala and rummaged through it.
He got out an ancient looking book and flipped through it until he reached a page that had been marked with a paperclip. Then he grabbed a stick off the ground and began moving around the car, tracing intricate shapes into the dirt.
“What are those?” she asked once he’d finished.
“Anasazi protection symbols. According to Bobby, Wendigos can’t cross over them,” he said. “Sunrise is in about two hours. This thing’s too good of a hunter in the dark, so we’ll have to wait it out.”
Veronica nodded and perched tentatively on the hood of the Impala, arms wrapped tightly around herself to ward off the cold. She felt bone tired, even though she’d slept during the trip, and her mind kept going back to the young man from her dreams. It was strange. She didn’t usually dream about people she didn’t know. Even when her dreams were at their weirdest, they usually had familiar faces cast in all the varying roles. But she knew she’d never seen this guy before. Even so, there was something familiar about him, but she just couldn’t seem to put her finger on what it was.
A pair of fingers snapped in front of her face, less than an inch away from her nose, and she jumped, surprised to find Dean standing directly in front of her. “Yeah?” she asked, putting as much irritation into her tone as she could manage at four in the morning.
“Where’d you go?” Dean asked, leaning his back against the passenger-side window to her left and nudging her shoulder playfully with his own. “You looked like you were a million miles away just then.”
Veronica shrugged. “Nothing, just thinking about a dream I had.”
Dean grinned. “A dream, huh? Was I in it?”
The corner of Veronica’s mouth quirked up into a smile. “Wasn’t that kind of a dream, stud.”
He nodded, still smiling a little as he turned his head to stare out into the forest that surrounded them, and they fell into silence again, though this time it was a comfortable one.
When she shivered again, Dean slipped off his leather jacket and settled it gently over her shoulders. Veronica murmured her thanks, slid her arms through the sleeves and wrapped the coat around herself. It smelled like Dean – leather and musk and a hint of something spicy – and it was still warm from his body. She had to resist the urge to just curl up in it and purr like an overgrown kitten. Because that wouldn’t be embarrassing, oh no, not at all. And besides, she wasn’t even interested in Dean like that. He was annoying and overbearing; he came up with the most ridiculous nicknames for her whether she liked them or not (and okay, so maybe she was secretly a little fond of them, but it wasn’t like he
knew that), and worst of all, he thought he knew everything. God, she hated that.
“Hmmm?” she murmured, still lost in thought.
She rolled her eyes, turning her full attention on Dean. “I heard you the first time, you know.”
But Dean wasn’t looking at her. He was staring intently out into the darkened forest. And that was when she realized that it wasn’t him speaking.
The strange voice held onto the last syllable of her name for several seconds, stretching it out into a plaintive cry.
Veronica shivered, but this time it wasn’t from the chill in the air.
“Who is that?” she whispered. She slid off the hood of the Impala and took a step toward the sound before she’d even realized she planned on moving. But then Dean’s arm shot out in front of her, holding her back.
“Don’t,” he said, his voice like steel. “Wendigos can mimic human speech. It’s trying to lure you away from the protective circle.”
Silence fell around them, broken only by the sound of their own breathing. “Do you think it’s given up?” Veronica asked after a long moment.
Dean’s mouth had settled into a grim line, and his eyes never stopped searching the dark forest, straining for a glimpse of the creature. He didn’t answer her. He didn’t have to. Her question had been mostly wishful thinking anyway.
Sighing, she turned up the collar of Dean’s jacket and wrapped it more tightly around her. It was only two hours until daybreak, but right then, it seemed like they’d be stuck waiting here forever.
just waiting like this,” she muttered defiantly.
“Well, Princess, we could always play a game to pass the time. How about I Spy
?” Without waiting for her to reply, he made a show of looking out at the forest that surrounded them for something good. “I spy... something leafy.”
Veronica made a face. “Bite me, Winchester.”
Dean chuckled. “Don’t tempt me.”
Veronica sat down on the ground in front of the Impala’s front tire, leaning back against the car and bringing her knees up so she could wrap the ends of Dean’s jacket around them to ward off the cold morning air. It was going to be a long couple of hours.
Veronica was curled up on the ground next to the car; she’d fallen asleep almost as soon as she’d sat down, leaving Dean with only his tense thoughts for company as he waited for daybreak. The Wendigo, for its part, apparently gave up on taunting them when it realized they had no intention of leaving the campsite before dawn. Where it was now was anyone’s guess, though it would surely return to cause trouble once they were on the move, a thought that did nothing to lower Dean’s current stress levels.
The sunrise, when it came, was a welcome sight, even though it meant things were about to get more dangerous. If he hadn’t thought she’d just try and follow him anyway, he would’ve left Veronica asleep inside the protective circle. But he knew her too well, and he didn’t want to risk her wandering around the forest alone and becoming an early morning Wendigo-snack.
“Wake up, Sunshine,” he said, kneeling beside her and giving her shoulder a light shake. She jerked awake so violently she nearly hit the back of her head against the Impala’s front bumper, and she instinctively lashed out with one of her hands, punching him in the arm.
“Whoa, easy there, Tiger,” he said. “It’s just me.”
Veronica blinked several times, one hand reaching up to scrub at her eyes. “Sorry, bad dream,” she mumbled.
“Seems to be becoming a habit,” Dean noted, remembering the way she’d moaned and thrashed about in her sleep when they were in the Impala before. “Wanna talk about it?”
“I think we have more important things to worry about than a couple of scary dreams,” Veronica replied, pushing herself to her feet. Dean’s jacket nearly swallowed her up; the sleeves slid down over her hands until only the tips of her fingers were visible, but she wore her most determined expression on her face, the expression Dean had learned to ignore at his own peril. “So, Kemo Sabe, what’s our next move?”
“I figured we’d find the guys’ campsite and go from there,” Dean said. He pulled a digital compass out of his pack and studied it for a moment. “I’ve got the coordinates for Blackwater Ridge: 35-111. You said they were camping near there, so that’s where we’ll start the search.”
It took them a few hours to reach the campsite. Veronica navigated using Dean’s compass, while Dean followed with one of the flare guns at the ready. He couldn’t ignore the uneasy feeling that crept up along his spine, like they were being watched, but nevertheless, they reached the campsite without any trouble. Dean didn’t really find any comfort in that, though. The damn thing was probably just waiting for the perfect moment to spring its trap.
The campsite itself was in pretty bad shape. They found the tents shredded to ribbons, packs opened and strewn all along the path, and, most damning of all, bloodstains on the ground.
Veronica’s face paled when she saw the blood, and Dean hastened to reassure her. “It doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” he told her, though the words rang false even in his own ears.
“So where do we go from here?” she asked, pointedly turning away from the blood to face him.
“Well, Wendigos usually keep their victims alive until they’re ready to...” Dean trailed off, gesturing vaguely with his hand. From the look on Veronica’s face, he knew he didn’t need to elaborate any further on that part of it. “They like to stockpile them, keep them in their lair.”
“So we need to find this thing’s lair, then,” Veronica said. “How do we do that?”
“It’ll be somewhere dark and cool, maybe underground. And deserted, obviously.”
“Aren’t there some abandoned gold and silver mines around here somewhere?” Veronica asked. “I remember reading about them when I was researching the area.”
Dean nodded. “It’s as good a place to start as any.” He squatted down, took off his pack and started to rummage through it, looking for the maps he’d stashed in one of the pockets. Before he had a chance to pull them out, Veronica gasped loudly. Dropping his pack, Dean leapt to his feet, flare gun in hand, eyes immediately tracking to Veronica where she was crouched on the other side of the clearing. “What is it?” he asked. “What happened?”
“Come look at this,” she said, pointing to something on the ground.
Dean walked over and knelt down next to her. And that was when he saw it. A flash of bright color on the ground. He pushed aside some leaves to reveal a small handful of jellybeans, in an assortment of colors. And then, a few feet further away, he caught sight of another patch of unnaturally bright color.
“These are one of Dick’s favorite kinds of candy,” Veronica told him.
“But you don’t think... it’s a trail?”
“What else could it be?” she asked.
“He didn’t know we were coming,” Dean pointed out. “He wouldn’t know to leave one.” He stood up. “I still want to check out those mines. I think that’s the likeliest... holy shit!
His pack, which he’d left sitting in the middle of the clearing next to one of the shredded tents, was gone. No trace of it remained.
“What?” Veronica asked, standing up as well.
“My pack’s gone.”
“What do you mean, gone? How can it be gone, Dean? You just set it down, like, a second ago.”
“I don’t believe this,” Dean muttered. “That damn thing stole my pack
Veronica looked at him with wide, frightened eyes. “But... but that means...”
“It’s here. Watching us. Hell, the bastard’s toying
Dean tightened his grip on their last remaining flare gun. The others had been in his pack, along with all the extra flares. Which meant they had exactly one shot. One shot to kill a super-strong, super-fast, cannibalistic monster. He was a good shot, a great shot even, but truth be told, Dean wasn’t really liking his chances here.
“That’s it,” he announced, grabbing Veronica by the arm and leading her back the way they’d come. “I’m taking you back to the car.”
“I’m getting you out of here. It’s not safe anymore.”
Veronica jerked her arm free of his grip and spun around to face him. “Newsflash, Winchester. It was never
“All the more reason for me to take you back right now,” he replied.
“Yeah, and what do you think the Wendigo will do when it figures out where we’re headed?” she demanded. “It knows you put those protective circles around the car. If we go there, it can’t get us. If this thing’s smart enough to steal your pack while your back’s turned, then you better believe it’s smart enough to take us out before we get to the damn car.”
“Well, then what the hell am I supposed to do?” Dean yelled. “It’s got us exactly where it wants us, Veronica! We have no supplies; there’s only one flare left, and I can’t even draw us some protection sigils or call for help, because both the spell book and my phone were in the pack! How am I supposed to protect you, Veronica? What am I supposed to do?”
“We do what we came here to do,” Veronica told him, placing extra emphasis on the “we” part. “We kill that son of a bitch, and we save the day. You only have one shot; so what? You’ll just have to make it count.”
Before Dean could reply, they heard a scream from off in the distance.
“Oh my god,” Veronica whispered, one hand rising to cover her mouth. “That sounded like Duncan.”
“Veronica! Dean! Help me!” the voice called.
“That’s not Duncan,” Dean said, taking Veronica’s hand and pulling her behind him. “It’s the Wendigo. It’s trying to get us to panic and go tearing off through the forest looking for Duncan. It wants us off balance so it can pick us off easily.”
“Then what do we do?”
Dean sighed. What he really wanted to do was get Veronica the fuck out of here, Duncan or no Duncan, but she was right. The Wendigo obviously had its own plans for them, and he doubted returning to the car and escaping played any part in them. So, he decided, it was time to stop acting like a victim, and start acting like a hunter. This thing wanted to play with them? Fine. But this time, Dean was going to make it play his
“Well, thanks to Dick’s sweet tooth, we have a handy, Technicolor trail to follow,” he said, gesturing at the jelly beans at their feet. “I say we use it.”
Veronica nodded and started to pull her hand out of Dean’s grasp, but he tightened his grip and shook his head. “I don’t think so. Consider yourself on the Buddy System from now on, Ace. We stick together at all times. Now let’s move.”
They’d found several more piles of jelly beans before finally coming across the empty bag caught in some bushes, thus ending their candy-coated trail of breadcrumbs. But there were other signs, and Dean was quick to catch them. Cracked twigs, crushed grass... and, much more distressingly, the occasional bit of blood staining the leaves of the bushes along the path, as if a wounded person had brushed against them in passing. Veronica didn’t want to think about which one of the boys could be bleeding, because those thoughts just led to questions of who it was, how badly they’d been hurt, how much blood they’d lost, and that was a road that Veronica didn’t want to travel down, not until they’d found them and could see the truth for themselves.
Along the way, there were several times when Veronica was positive that somebody... or something
was watching them, but whenever she turned around to look, there was nothing there. It gave her the creeps, though, and she found herself clinging a little tighter to Dean’s hand.
“Jesus, where’s your backbone, V?” Lilly asked, suddenly appearing beside Veronica on the path, her bloody prep school outfit looking even more out of place than normal in the middle of the forest. “Channel your inner Buffy or something, already.”
Dean seemed to be oblivious to Lilly’s presence; his stride never broke once as they made their way through the forest.
“Shut up,” Veronica hissed under her breath. “I so don’t have time for this right now.”
“What did you say?” Dean asked, glancing at her over his shoulder. Veronica didn’t have a chance to come up with a suitable lie, though, because her best friend’s ghost talked right over him.
“Fine, whatever,” Lilly said, flipping her hair over one shoulder and arching an eyebrow haughtily. “My mistake; I guess you don’t want me to show you a shortcut to where Duncan is. I’ll just get out of your hair now.”
“Wait!” Veronica cried out, all pretense of hiding the fact she was talking to a ghost forgotten in her concern for Duncan. She let go of Dean’s hand and took a step toward Lilly. “Please, show us.”
“What the hell are you doing?” Dean hissed, looking at her like she’d lost her mind. And if she hadn’t already seen enough weird stuff to make even the Scullys of the world believe in the supernatural, she might’ve agreed with him, but as it was, asking her dead best friend to help them find her ex-boyfriend before he was eaten by a cannibalistic forest monster was actually fairly plausible. Well, she amended, it was at least no worse than shooting a sex-crazed ghost full of rock salt before it ripped out her friend’s heart. On the weirdness scale, they both came out near the top.
Lilly, for her part, seemed oblivious to Veronica’s internal struggles to justify all of this. She simply said, “Follow me,” and turned down a side path. Veronica hastened to follow her, forced to run just to keep up.
“Shit,” she heard Dean curse from behind her before he, too, began running down the path. “What’s going on?” he demanded in a harsh whisper as soon as he caught up to her. “We’re leaving the trail.”
“Just trust me,” Veronica replied. “I know what I’m doing.”At least I hope I do
, she thought grimly.
The mines fit pretty much every Hollywood cliché possible. Gloomy, deserted and extra creepy, with a maze of tunnels that it would be ridiculously easy for somebody to get lost in. Veronica followed Lilly as closely as possible, afraid of what might happen if she lost site of the ghostly figure for even a second. This was not a place that she wished to become stranded in.
She could hear Dean’s footsteps directly behind her, and it gave her a sense of comfort. Maybe it was stupid, but she felt safer when he was there. No, scratch that, it was definitely
stupid. They were following a ghost through the lair of a man-eating forest monster, Veronica reminded herself. There was no such thing as safe here.
Dean had stopped asking her how she knew where she was going after she’d led them straight to the entrance to the mines, which was a good thing, since she didn’t want to have a discussion about her new sixth sense or whatever it was. That was a conversation best saved for never, as far as Veronica was concerned.
Lilly turned a corner and stopped at a mine shaft that led down into the lower levels. Then she seemed to blink in and out of existence erratically before her image dissolved into static and vanished.
“Looks like we’re headed down,” Veronica said, moving to the edge of the shaft and sitting down, her feet dangling over the side.
“Wait,” Dean said, reaching out a hand to grasp her shoulder. “I’ll go first.”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you heard? It’s the new millennium,” she said with a smirk that was about 70% false bravado (not that Dean needed to know that). “Girl power is in.” Then she took a deep breath, shrugged her shoulder out from under his grip and pushed herself off the edge.
She hit the ground hard, but managed to roll with the impact, which meant she wound up on her ass, but at least she didn’t sprain an ankle or anything. Scrambling to her feet, she moved out of the way so that Dean could follow her. He jumped down gracefully, landing in a neat crouch, gun at the ready like some kind of action movie star.
“Show off,” she muttered, shooting him a quick glare just on general principle.
Behind them was a dead end, so there was only one way to go — forward. Dean lead the way, Veronica a few steps behind him. Soon the passageway opened out into a large cavern of sorts.
The first thing Veronica noticed was the smell.
The next thing she noticed was the bodies hanging from the ceiling, in various stages of consumption.
And in the corner, a large pile of bones and scraps of fabric had been fashioned into a bed of sorts.
They’d obviously found the Wendigo’s lair.
“I think I might be sick,” she gasped, making an effort to only breathe through her mouth. The smell was almost bearable that way.
Turning away from the bones, she moved toward the hanging figures. All were bound by their hands and suspended from the cavern’s ceiling, reminiscent of slabs of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop. She made her way past the ones that had obviously been there for a while; there was nothing to be done for them. Then a familiar shade of red caught her eye. It was one of Duncan’s favorite hoodies.
“Oh my god, Duncan!” she gasped, running over to his side. He was unconscious, but he was still breathing, thank god. And beside him, she saw other familiar faces: Troy, Logan and Dick.
“Dean, we have to cut them down,” she said.
He nodded, pulling a knife out of his boot and setting to work. Soon, they had all four boys untied. None of them were too badly hurt, other than a few scratches and bruises, though Dick had a nasty cut on his head, which explained the blood at the campsite.
“How are we going to get them out of here?” Veronica whispered. “We can’t carry them all at once. And that thing’ll be back soon.”
Dean’s head jerked up. “Not soon,” he said, shifting so that he was crouched protectively in front of her and the others. “Now.”
Veronica looked up and saw a hulking shape silhouetted in the cavern’s entrance. She had to fight not to scream.
Dean raised his gun and took aim, but there was nothing there to aim at. Veronica blinked and looked again; it was as if it had vanished into thin air.
“Damn it,” Dean breathed. “This thing’s fast
. Stay behind me.”
“I wasn’t planning on going for a stroll, if that’s what you mean,” Veronica hissed, wrapping her hands around Duncan’s and noting absently that they were ice cold. She wondered if this was what it felt like before you died, this feeling of numbness. She should be panicked; she should be screaming her head off, but instead all she could do was sit there and wait. For what, she didn’t know. A gory end seemed most likely at this point. The fact that she wasn’t nearly as freaked out as she should’ve been by that prospect probably meant she was in shock or something. Terrific. If they did make it out of this alive, she’d have to sign herself up for some serious therapy. Or maybe just a tub of chunky monkey and some embarrassingly girly movies.
“Where’d it go?” she whispered.
“I don’t know,” Dean replied, his flare gun methodically tracking from one shadow to the next.
There was a shuffling sound, and the next thing Veronica knew, Dean was flying through the air. He hit a few of the suspended bodies, knocking a couple of them down on top of him when he crashed to the ground. The flare gun was knocked from his hands on impact and skidded several feet across the cavern floor.
Then a pair of twisted hands grabbed Veronica by the shoulders and lifted her bodily off the ground. A blast of disgusting smelling breath made her nearly gag. “Ever think about breath mints?” she chirped, as she dug one hand into the pocket of Dean’s jacket, which she still wore, and pulled out her tazer. Then she turned it on and jabbed it into the Wendigo’s stomach as hard as she could.
The creature howled and dropped her as it thrashed about in pain. Veronica fell to the ground in a heap, wincing as she banged her shoulder against the rock floor, and the tazer flew out of her hands.
Someone screamed in fear, but she didn’t recognize the voice, and she was too busy trying to scramble away from the Wendigo to pay it much thought. Where the hell had her tazer landed? She had to find it, she had to...
A clawed hand grabbed her by the collar of Dean’s leather jacket and hauled her partially off the ground, dragging her backwards as her hands and feet scrabbled ineffectually at the cave floor. Shit, shit, shit!
She felt its hot breath on the back of her neck. A drop of saliva landed on her cheek, and Veronica shuddered. All she could hear was the creature’s rasping breath and the pounding of her own heart in her ears.
Suddenly a voice broke the silence.
“Yo, freak show!”
Dean. It was Dean!
“Why don’t you try chewing on this
The Wendigo let go of her as it started shrieking in agony, and Veronica found herself sprawled on top of Duncan’s unconscious body. She raised bleary eyes up to see what had happened, and was just in time to see the Wendigo burst into flames and then melt into a puddle of what had to be the most disgusting substance she’d ever seen in her entire life.
As she looked over the pool of ick to where Dean was standing, flare gun still raised, she was surprised to see a boy she didn’t know sprawled at Dean’s feet, watching her with eyes as wide as saucers. That must’ve been who’d screamed earlier, she noted absently.
She felt something wet start to soak into her pants leg and looked down, making a face when she saw that she’d been Wendigo-slimed. “Do you think this’ll come out with bleach?” she asked woozily, “because this is my favorite pair of jeans.”
Then the blackness overcame her, and she gratefully allowed herself to pass out.
The police had a million questions, but thankfully, they seemed willing enough to believe it had been a grizzly bear attack. The kid they’d rescued had been all too willing to lie for them considering the circumstances, and Duncan and the others didn’t really remember much of what’d happened.
Dean tried not to let himself dwell on the dead bodies of the boy’s siblings, who they’d been too late to save. You couldn’t always save everybody, he reminded himself. Sometimes you just had to take what you could get and call it a win.
The kid – Ben – hadn’t left Dean’s side once since they’d left the Wendigo’s lair. And other than agreeing with Dean and Veronica about the grizzly bear story, he hadn’t said a single word all morning. He just sat next to Dean and watched with wide, shell-shocked eyes as his brother and sister were placed inside of body bags and wheeled into a waiting ambulance on a pair of gurneys. The one time the cops had tried to lead him away, he’d panicked, flailing and kicking at the police officers until they’d finally relented and let him come back to sit with Dean.
He had no clue what was going to happen to the kid. His entire family was gone – apparently his brother and sister had been his only living relatives – and he was too young to live on his own. He figured that probably meant foster care, since the boy was too old to be a likely candidate for adoption.
Dean thought fleetingly of his own childhood, and how much it had sucked to be bounced around from foster home to foster home, but quickly pushed those thoughts out of his mind. It’s not like there was anything he could do about it. After all, what was he gonna do? Take Ben in himself? Yeah, right. Like he knew the first thing about taking care of a kid.
All the same, when Ben slid his hand into Dean’s and clung to him with an almost desperate ferocity, he found himself remembering a different kid with shaggy, brown hair and dark, solemn eyes, glimpsed only from a couple of tattered old photographs he’d gotten in the mail over the years. And then he remembered holding a tiny hand in his, surrounded by the smell of fresh baked cookies, his mom’s perfume and a million other things he’d lost a lifetime ago.
He looked out over the sea of people that had gathered – cops, medics, townspeople who’d heard about the incident and come to gawk – and searched for a familiar flash of blonde hair. Veronica sat on the back bumper of a police car, Duncan next to her, their hands clasped tightly. The boy looked about as freaked out as Ben, though he was doing his best to hide it. There was a haunted look to his eyes that Dean recognized, though, having seen it on the faces of many of his fellow soldiers back in the army, having seen it on his own face in the mirror on the morning after he’d made his first kill. It was the face of somebody whose entire world had been fundamentally altered by the horrors they’d witnessed. Fleetingly, Dean wondered if Duncan remembered more than he’d let on to the cops, but he pushed that thought aside. Even if the guy did remember, he wasn’t stupid enough to say anything to the cops, and that was what mattered.
Troy had left Logan and Dick sitting by the ambulance, and had come over to stand next to Dean. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, obviously struggling with whatever he wanted to say, but nothing came out. “I, um...” He looked over his shoulder at Dick and Logan before turning back to face Dean. Apparently he had drawn the short straw and was assigned the task of sucking up.
Dean smirked. Obviously expressing his gratitude was not Troy Vanergraff’s strong suit. He thought about bailing the kid out, but decided to be petty. He’d already done his good deed for the day. Besides, leaving Vandergraff twisting in the wind was just too much fun.
“Look, thanks for saving us,” Troy finally blurted out. “We, uh... we owe you.”
Dean shrugged, looking back over to where Veronica sat with Duncan. She’d taken a blanket offered by one of the paramedics and carefully wrapped it around Duncan’s shoulders to keep him warm. “Don’t sweat it; I didn’t do it for you,” Dean replied.
Troy followed his gaze, his eyes narrowing as he watched the touching scene unfold, and he took a step forward as if he planned to interrupt them. Dean’s arm shot out, his hand grabbing Vandergraff’s arm in a grip of steel and stopping him in his tracks. Dean nodded toward Veronica and Duncan. “Word to the wise? She
didn’t do it for you, either,” he said softly. “And if I were you, I wouldn’t try to fool myself into thinking otherwise.”
Vandergraff gave Dean a considering look before he pointedly jerked his arm out of Dean’s grasp. “Maybe so,” he finally said. “But at least I got a taste of that action. But you? Here you are just beggin’ for it, and she’s keeping you out in the cold like the hired help. It must suck to be you, man.”
The kid’s smile was so smug that Dean had to fight to keep from punching it off his face. He stood up, getting right up into Vandergraff’s personal space. He took an immense amount of satisfaction out of the way the guy took an involuntary step back.
“Look, I drove through three states just to come save you and your friends’ worthless asses, when I would’ve much rather stayed home and left you all to rot,” he remarked in a deceptively calm voice underlayed with pure steel. “Now I get it, I do. Your fragile, male ego’s been bruised by your little stint as the damsel in distress, and you’re jealous because your girlfriend’s more concerned about her ex than she is about you, and you’re looking for a way to make yourself feel like the big man on campus again, but you know what? That still doesn’t give you the right to talk about Veronica like that.”
Troy’s eyes blazed angrily. “You know, Winchester, at first I thought you just wanted to get into her pants, which I could understand, because she’s a feisty little thing, but now I really
get it.” He smirked knowingly. “You’re in love with her, but all she sees when she looks at you is her father’s errand boy. That’s fucking pathetic, man.”
Dean grabbed Troy by the collar of his shirt and pulled him forward until their faces were mere inches apart. ”Listen up, pal, because I’m only gonna say this once. I don’t make a habit out of ripping the entrails out of somebody I just saved, but in your case, I’m tempted to make an exception. Very
“Yeah, right,” Troy hissed. “I know a bluff when I see one.”
Dean smiled, a sharp, menacing smile that didn’t contain an ounce of real mirth and caused the color to drain from Troy’s face. “I made my first kill when I was 19. I’ve had nearly a decade to get better at it. At this point, you could say I was something of an expert. So don’t test me.”
Dean released him, and Troy stumbled back a couple of steps.
“Now get the hell out of my sight, you son of a bitch,” Dean spat, before pointedly turning his back on the guy. He couldn’t keep a small smirk off his face when he heard Vandergraff beat a hasty retreat. But then Dean noticed Veronica watching them intently from where she sat across the way with Duncan. Dean winced inwardly when she got up and walked over to him, her face already demanding answers.
“What was that all about?” she asked.
Dean shrugged. “Your friends just wanted to express their gratitude,” he said in what might’ve been the most fakely cheerful voice he’d ever heard in his entire life. “I said thanks but no thanks.”
Veronica was clearly not fooled by his little act. Nor was she all that happy with him. “Look, I know Logan and Dick can be real jerks sometimes, but that’s no reason to take it out on Troy.”
Dean wanted to tell her that she was wrong. He wanted to tell her that Troy Vandergraff was bad news. He wanted to tell her that Duncan Kane didn’t deserve her. He wanted to take her away from all these ‘09er assholes who cared more about how much money was in somebody’s pocket than what kind of person they were. He wanted to grab her and kiss her and tell her that he’d been in love with her from the first moment he saw her, and how he’d only loved her more each time she’d called him an idiot or a moron or flipped him the bird when she thought he wasn’t looking, and how each time she smiled at him or laughed at his jokes or came to him first when she needed help, it made him feel like he belonged
in a way he hadn’t since he was four years old and his whole life had been burned away.
But he didn’t do any of that.
Dean just smiled and nodded and lied through his teeth, promising to be nicer to the smug bastard. And when she looked doubtful, he slung an arm around her shoulders, gave her his best Who, me?
smile and took her over to sit next to Ben.
Just then his cell phone began to ring. Dean fished it out of his pocket and flipped it open. “Winchester speaking.”
Winchester?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Dean replied. “How can I help you?”
“Well, I have a problem, and I was told you were the man to speak to.”
Dean sighed. A case. God, he was too tired to deal with another man who wanted to know if his wife was stepping out on him or some other garbage. His own life was going to shit, and he was supposed to help some rich cry baby fix his marital problems? Jesus.
“Look, this is my personal line,” he said, in the most professional sounding voice he could muster up at the moment. “How about you call our office on Monday? Mars and Winchester Investigations. It’s in the book. Then we can set up an appointment for you to come in and tell us about your problem.”
“No, I can’t wait that long,” the man exclaimed, panic filling his voice. “This thing’s tearing apart my house! Everyone thinks I’m crazy, and I had to send my family away... Look, Bobby Singer told me you could help me. He said you’d know what to do. He said you were in Lost Creek. That’s only an hour away. Please, you have to help me!”
Dean swallowed nervously. This wasn’t a case; it was a case
. He was dead tired; he wanted nothing more than to check into a motel and sleep for three days straight. (Not to mention ask Bobby what the hell he was thinking of; this whole monster fighting thing was supposed to be a one time deal. Well, okay, two if you counted that ghost chick, but still...) But then he looked at Ben, who was sitting next to Veronica with a smile on his face as she told him some crazy story. It was the first smile Dean had seen from the boy all morning.
“Give me your address,” he said, going over to the Impala and fishing a notepad and pen out of the glove compartment. “And then tell me exactly what happened.”
Once he’d hung up the phone, he turned and saw Veronica leaning against the Impala’s front bumper, arms crossed in front of her chest and chin raised defiantly. “So what’s the case about this time?” she asked, everything about her posture just daring
him to blow her off and see how many ways she could make him regret it. “Vampires, werewolves... Big Foot?”
Dean smirked. “Everybody knows Big Foot’s a myth, Ace.”
Veronica waved a hand impatiently. “Whatever, the police are almost done questioning everybody. Then we can ditch this popsicle stand.” She smiled at him, eyes twinkling mischievously. “You can tell me all about our new case when we’re on the road.”
Dean sighed. Because, really, it was pointless arguing with her. “Fine,” he said at last. “But when we get there, you’re staying in the car.”
Veronica grinned, and Dean felt himself losing ground already.
“Have we learned nothing?” she asked, a touch of fond exasperation in her voice. “You can’t make me stay behind, so don’t even try it. We’re partners in this thing, Winchester. So you’re just gonna have to deal with it.”
As he went over to talk with the police and make arrangements for Ben and the others so they could get out of there, Dean silently conceded that she was probably right.
Keith was gonna kill him. If Veronica wasn’t the death of him first.
His life was seriously fucked up. But all the same, he couldn’t keep from smiling a little bit. Partners
. It was something, at least. Something none of the Troy Vandergraffs or Duncan Kanes of the world could even come close to touching.
For now, it was enough.
This story is x-posted at supernaturalfic