You Can Never Go Home
Wish for a Winchester
Spoilers/Warnings/Pairings/Disclaimer – See Chapter 1"Dialogue spoken in unison"=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=Chapter 3 – You Can Never Go Home (Moody Blues)=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*="Memories can never take you back, home, sweet home.
You can never go home anymore."Jericho, California
"Don't pout Sam, it'll give you worry lines." Alex scolded as he climbed back into the Impala.
"So..." Sam prodded, ignoring the taunt.
"So... what?" Dean asked innocently as they pulled back out onto the road and the flashing lights and tall iron structure of the bridge disappeared behind them.
"So, what's going on? What did you learn?" Sam kicked himself for breaking so easily, but he'd worked himself into a guilty funk while he waited like a little kid in the car while Dean and Alex were investigating. He didn't like how easily he slid back into hunting but he also didn't like how much jealousy he felt that they were so comfortable while he was out of practice. They needed to find Dad so he could go back to school and his girlfriend and not think about the what ifs of a life where he hadn't gone to Stanford.
"Nothing special." It seemed that Dean was just bound and determined to piss Sam off.
"Dean." His voice was flat and clearly declared how unimpressed he was with his older brother's particular brand of verbal sidestepping shenanigans. This was about a hunt- about finding their Dad. It wasn't the time to start joking around. Not that Dean ever stopped.
"He's right Sam, the cops don't know anything. There was another disappearance. No forensics, no clues, no leads."
"As far as their methods go, anyway. Turns out this new victim, Troy, was going out with one of the cop's daughter, Amy. Guess who's putting up missing posters downtown today..."
"And this time you get the fun job- using those big brown puppy eyes to get her to spill anything she knows." Alex added, "I bet she'll fold even faster than Dean does."
"Hey!" Dean objected, "The puppy eyes and bitch face are lethal weapons, and you can't talk, you crumble even easier than I do."
"I don't have puppy eyes." Sam defended, "- Or a bitch face."
Alex and Dean exchanged a look before Alex patted Sam on the shoulder in a condescendingly comforting way, as if he were about to tell Sam something of grave importance. "I'm afraid it's true. You're the sympathetic type whose best weapon is emotional blackmail, enhanced by the long floppy hair, the puppy dog eyes, the overly innocent 'but it's wrong' attitude and the bitch face. You will forever be the one old ladies pinch the cheeks of, the one who'll remind them of their dead husbands. You're the type that always gets stuck in the friend-zone because you're safe."
"Am not." Sam protested lamely, not quite sure how to respond, but settled for glaring at Alex when he poked him in the cheek. What was he, five?
"Dude, you're pouting again." Dean pointed out. He heaved a put-upon sigh and shook his head in exasperation. "You are such a girl. This is why you didn't get any in high-school."
"I'm not pouting, I'm scowling." Sam growled. "You two give me a headache... Besides- Alex didn't get any either."
"It was pity abstinence." Alex argued, turning a little red at the subject. "It would have been pretty sad for me to have sex before my older brother."
"By like 2 minutes."
"Ok, how is it fair that you always get to call protective older brother rights over me, but I can't claim annoying younger brother rights on you. Foul play. I say. Foul. Play."
"Shut it, twerp. You too, bitch.""Jerk."
Dean grinned. "See. You two can agree on something. I just love bringing people together."
"Well, if no news is good news, I've been getting great news all day. There's no sign of anyone matching Dad at any of the local hospitals or morgues." Alex reported into his cell, nodding his thanks at the ER triage nurse that'd helped him and returning her smile, as he passed her station on his way out of the hospital. "What'd you get?"
"Aside from the fact that Sammy is a crystal toting new age Wicca expert and over-shares, not much." There was the sound of a 'thwap' and a brief scuffle over the phone before Sam's voice came through, talking over the annoyed 'Dude!' in the background.
"Amy and her friend told us about a local legend. Apparently, there was a young woman brutally murdered out on the Centennial Highway a couple of decades ago. According to the legend, she's supposedly still out there, haunting the road where she died. She hitchhikes, and get this- whoever stops and picks her up disappears without a trace, forever."
Alex frowned, how did these legends get started if none of the victims were ever seen again, that was just idiotic. "That sounds like our case, right down to the fact that 'disappearing without a trace' usually translates to no evidence of foul-play or signs of a struggle left for the cops to find."
"Yeah, we're at the library searching through old copies of the local newspapers for any suspicious deaths on Centennial now." Sam said, and Alex could hear the sounds of typing in the background suddenly get louder. He suspected he'd been put down next to the keyboard on speaker phone. "Here. Dean, look at this. I think I found it. There's an article that ran in a 1981 edition of the Jericho Herald. Suicide case. A young woman, mid-twenties- Constance Welch. Jumped off Sylvania Bridge and drown in the river. It's not a murder- but sometimes suicides are violent enough to leave restless spirits."
Even though he knew they couldn't see him, Alex rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I just don't get it, why does the local legend ALWAYS have to say that poor so-and-so was brutally murdered, because God forbid anyone ever uses a different descriptive word than brutal- even when it was a suicide."
"Legends are really just glorified region-wide gossip that lasts for years, changing a little every time it's retold. Murder is more interesting than suicide. With a murder you have a killer who, in the better stories, is always still at large and hunting for their next target, to better scare the kiddies." Dean made a 'scary' Woo~
noise into the phone.
"Dean's right. Suicide is too neat for good storytelling, there are no loose ends to tie up when the only person the killer is out to get is themselves."
"-And no one actually cares about the truth." Alex concluded.
"Hmm." Dean only made that considering sound when he'd discovered something interesting.
"What? I can't exactly read over your shoulder you know." Playing the information keep away game was more fun when he was in the know.
"Turns out she made a 911 call before practicing her high-dive routine. Her kids 'accidentally' drown in the bathtub. Both of them. At the same time. Either she was raising lemmings or that's a little too convenient. Hey. That bridge look familiar to you?"
Alex spoke up wryly, "I can't say that it does." His only answer was a click and the dial-tone. He pulled a silly face at his phone, but stopped when he got a weird look from the ER valet who was walking by.
"Brothers." He explained wryly gesturing at the cell.
The river glinted in what little moonlight managed to filter through the thick cloudcover and the air was filled with the sound of rushing water, chattering at them excitedly. The Winchester trio stared into the rapids, as if the turbulent water was actually going to explain to them exactly what it had seen when Troy and the other victims had disappeared. Alex sighed and looked around, eyes tracking from one end of the bridge to the other without seeing anything worth lingering on.
"Okay, so this was Constance's diving platform. Very nice, scenic even- and yet not holding my interest. Darned ADD. Now what, fearless leader." Alex hopped up to sit on the bridge's thin railing, hooking an arm around a support cable for balance. He didn't want to be Constance take two. She'd had the good sense to jump and drown herself during the spring flooding, but with the level of the river where it was now the best he could hope for was to break his neck on first impact or be painfully dragged to death on the bottom of the river. Needless to say, falling wasn't high on his list of priorities.
"Yeah, Dean. Dad's obviously not here."
Dean paced back and forth in short agitated strides as the twins watched him think, waiting for the game-plan. This was his hunt after all, so he'd have to take the lead. Sam and Alex were still unconcerned about where Dad had holed himself up this time and weren't all that invested in the search, they were only here because he insisted. "He is here. Or was. There's no way that he missed that article. He must have found another sign. We'll just have to keep looking."
"I don't have time to scour town for him, Dean. I have to get back." Sam crossed his arms defiantly and frowned at his older brother. Dean let out an explosive breath and watched Sam in frustration.
Alex jumped down from his perch and stood between them before anyone could start throwing insults or punches. "Okay, there's obviously something I'm missing. What's the rush?"
"Sammy here has a big, important interview on Monday morning."
Alex blinked dumbly at Dean. That's it? That was the big deal? Sam was worried about some dumb nine-to-five? "A job interview? And it's more important than Dad? Can't you reschedule it, Sam? I think that this just might be a slightly
more urgent concern."
At this point Sam was feeling really put out that neither of his brothers understood his priorities and both were just dismissing his concern. It was an uncomfortably familiar position. He was the only Winchester that seemed to understand that the hunt wasn't everything. He may not ever be able to be the fully normal civilian he tried to portray at school, but once again he was being shown that he wasn't exactly normal with his family either. It may have been an angsty teenage cliche, but it really seemed that no one bothered to understand him and that hurt. "It's a law school interview and no, I can't just reschedule. It'd look like I can't manage my time properly and I'm trying to give a good impression. This interview could make or break my whole future."
"A lawyer? I thought the family motto was to hunt evil, not become it. Don't you think you're taking this rebelling thing a little too seriously." Alex tried to joke and relieve the pressure he could feel building up. How was it that the thought of Dad could put so much strain on the three of them; he was nowhere to be seen and they were still arguing over him.
"I'm not just rebelling, Alex! Why don't any of you understand that. This has nothing to do with Dad or mom or the demon or either of you. This is important to ME. It's what I want. I might not be saving lives or destroying evil or protecting the world one death defying con-job at a time, but I'll be happy and I'll be safe. I don't understand why you're okay with living this way. Don't you want anything more for yourselves? Are you just going to follow Dad around forever, like good little soldiers? Can't you think for yourself for once, Alex?"
Alex's face drained of color, washed away with the sting of hurt that erupted in his chest and he dropped the joking attitude. Sammy really wasn't pulling his punches. Was that really what Sam thought of him? A dumb little soldier that followed every order Dean or Dad gave him. He turned away, looking anywhere but at his brothers and missed the flash of guilt in his twin's eyes.
Sam took a step toward Alex. He hadn't meant to go that far and say that, but- Dammit! They were his family, the ones who were supposed to know him best and it was like they didn't even try to see anything from his perspective. Was it really that horrifying in their minds to value a safe and comfortable life over a hard, painful and dangerous one? It was like they were scared to want more for themselves. That kind of self sacrificing mentality scared him. He didn't want this life for them any more than he wanted it for himself. Short, dangerous and violent wasn't the type of lifestyle anyone should aspire to.
Dean didn't give him a chance to pursue that thought, cutting in roughly. "So... what- you're just going to ignore the danger in the world? Dutifully lock your door every night and pretend that everything is 2.5 kids, a mortgage and a picket fence- and that the law actually has a chance in hell of doing anything to protect people? What does your girlfriend even know about you, Sam? What does she think goes through your head when you sit down on movie night and she's giggling over how unrealistic the ghost is? Because, I SERIOUSLY doubt you've told her anything close to the truth."
"She doesn't need to know the truth, Dean, and she never will. Because that part of my life is over and will never touch her. She won't be forced to wait for me to come home with the constant worry that one day I won't make it. She'll never have to sit at the side of my hospital bed because I wasn't fast enough, or strong enough or brought the wrong kind of ammo. I'll be there for her, the way Dad never was for us."
"Sam..." Alex's soft voice made a small part of him wince, but he was too self-righteously pissed to care. He wasn't going to apologize for telling the truth, no matter how much they didn't want to hear it.
Dean grabbed the front of Sam's carhardtt jacket and slammed him back against one of the bridge's support struts. "Don't you dare talk about Dad that way."
"Dean!" They both ignored Alex's call, too wrapped up in their continuing argument.
"Why, Dean? It's true, and you know it. He was never there for us. I don't see why you're so determined to find him, when he'll just disappear on you again. Just like he always does."
"Will you unobservant morons quit bickering like hormonal girls for a second and LOOK, dammit!" This time Alex's exasperated words got through to them."WHAT, ALEX?"
They turned to glare at him in unison, but he just quirked his eyebrow at them, totally unimpressed.
"We've got company, and I didn't think you'd want to air our family's dirty laundry to an audience."He ignored their misdirected anger and pointed down the bridge at the pale wispy figure of the late Constance Welch, standing poised to jump on the railing and watching them. Her white sundress flapped around her legs in the non existent breeze and, as they watched, her translucent form shifted and her bare feet stepped off the bridge as she fell, repeating the scene of her death.
Their hunter's instinct led them to run to the rail, trying to keep the spook within sight, but she had disappeared by the time they looked down into the dark waters. Alex hopped up on the railing again, standing in the same spot as the ghost had moments earlier. "So, we can pinpoint to the inch exactly where she jumped and we know it's definitely her. Next step?"
"What is your fixation with climbing on this bridge?" Dean grumbled. "Get'cher ass down from there."
Alex rolled his eyes at Dean's antics. He had always taken his big brother duties very seriously and had made a lifestyle out of looking out for his younger brothers in the most obnoxious and overbearing way he could. Realizing that he was probably giving Dean heart palpitations over the possibility of slipping over the edge, he conceded that it might be a better idea to just give in to Dean's demands and get down. "God, you're as bossy as ever."
He spun around and made to jump down, but was stopped short when he heard the impala's engine roar to life. He watched in shock from the now comparatively safe railing, as the empty car tore down the bridge past him, chasing his brothers. Cupping his hands over his mouth he shouted helpfully after them, "RUN, FORREST, RUN!""SHUT UP, ALEX!"
Ironically, after all his concerns over Alex doing a header into the river, Dean and Sam were the ones who dove over the railing and Dean ended up in the river. He was sopping wet, and he'd done it to himself. Sam had been perfectly capable of hanging onto the bridge after jumping the rail. Alex snorted when Dean squished with every step earning a death glare from said squisher. The mental thought of calling Dean a 'squisher' made him snort again, so hard he choked on it a little. Dean clapped him on the shoulder with one mud dripping hand, slinging fetid goo across his back.
"You gonna make it there, Sparky?" His voice positively oozed faked concern as he held his struggling younger brother firmly by the shoulder and reeled him in to his chest for a nice, tight hug complete with the maximum amount of contact possible, smearing Alex liberally with rancid sludge.
"Thanks for the concern, Dean." He managed to escape and picked a stringy bit of… something off of his jacket sleeve and flicked it at Sam who was laughing at them both from a safe distance.
"I'm gonna go get the tarp. We are NOT getting this crap all over my baby's beautiful interior." Dean scraped at the unidentified brown scum drying on his face with his dirty sleeve, but only managed to rub the muck around.
"Autophile." Alex taunted, but Dean just waved a dismissive hand at him as he dug around in the trunk.
Sam stood just close enough to talk comfortably without shouting, but far enough away that he couldn't smell his brothers. "Actually, it'd probably be mechaphile or mechanophile. Autophile just means he loves himself."
Alex snorted. "And even after being corrected, I still don't see that I was in any way wrong."
Dean's hand appeared over the top of the open trunk and waved, liberally applying the middle finger to the situation and conversation indiscriminately.
Dean slapped his- or really Hector Aframian's card down on the check-in desk and stared down the old man in his immaculate sweater jacket giving Dean's mud encrusted outfit the evil eye. "One room please."
Having made his distaste abundantly clear the old man reached for his old fashioned guest register with a huff, "S'pose you'll be wanting the room next to your older friend."
Sam smiled weakly at the clerk, "What do you mean?"
"That other guy, Bert Aframian. He came in and bought out a room for the whole month." Alex pointedly refused to look in Dean's direction, because he could just feel the puffed-up look he was getting.
"You wouldn't happen to remember having any Brendan's staying here?"
"Why would I go remembering something like that?"
"Jackpot." Alex whistled after Dean jimmied the lock to 'Bert's' motel room. They stepped into what could have been any of the hundreds of rooms John Winchester had holed up in when they were kids with his thought process spread across the walls in a mass of paper clippings, xeroxed pages from demonology texts and post it notes.
"Dad was definitely here."
As they poked around the room, Alex and Sam found themselves reading the same missing person poster and turned to each other simultaneously. They never had been any good at staying mad at each other. They would yell and scream and throw punches, apologize and then get over it just as quickly."Alex, I..."
They spoke and then paused at the same time, with nearly identical guilty faces. Dean looked from one of his puppy eyed brothers to the other realizing, with a dawning sense of horror, what was about to occur. This emotional crap had to be stopped before they really got going and wanted him to join in, he refused to be collateral damage to an all out oestrogen-fest, "Hey, Mary-Kate. Ashley. Do you two need me to step outside so you can get on with the hugging and crying?"
Alex and Sam shared an understanding look, their moment was thoroughly broken but it was a familiar cycle they'd gone through a thousand times, so they could skip the apologies. Alex shrugged and wandered over to the wall of dead guys. As he was reading he put on a mock-serious voice and absently intoned, "And in every generation there is a chosen one. He alone will stand against the hugs, the touching moments and the forces of chick-flickyness. He is… The emotional retard." He turned away from the articles on the wall to find both of his brothers staring at him, "What?"
"Dude, where do you come up with this shit?"
"Huh? Oh, um, I guess I must have heard it somewhere." He just shrugged it off and turned back to reading John's notes. "Too much He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as a kid or something."
"O-kay, special Ed. I'm going to go wash suicide Annie off." Dean grimaced as the crud on his face crackled and pulled whenever he moved his jaw to talk.
Sam was already untacking articles from the wall and reshuffling them to make more sense to anyone who wasn't John Winchester. "We'll start going through Dad's stuff and see if he left any clear clues about where he is. It's not like him to leave a room all set up like this. He's usually pretty careful about leaving traces of his presence."
"Traces? This is a neon blinking sign 'JOHN WINCHESTER WUZ HERE!'" Alex pulled a photocopied picture of a hell hound off the wall. "Evil scrapbooked wallpaper from the hell is not exactly low key."
Alex was finally gunk free as the hot water sluiced over him. He had just washed and rinsed his hair and had worked up a good lather in his repeat when the bathroom door was busted down with an almighty crash. He stopped humming immediately and dropped his hands from where he'd been twirling devil's horns into his soapy hair. His eyes popped open to give him a great view of burning shampoo and a blurred gun that had been shoved in his face. "Freeze, asshole!"
"Frozen." He slapped one hand over his crotch and put the other over his head. The cop just stared him down without any further action or instruction and he shifted uncomfortably, helpfully pointing out. "And naked."
They stared at each other some more, or the cop stared and he just kinda squinted and blinked trying to clear his eyes. It was like the world's crappiest game of Simon Says. Alex held still for what he thought was an admirable amount of time before he cracked, "Can I just.." He slowly dropped his raised hand towards the shower controls, conveniently turning his face into the spray and clearing his eyes. Ah, sweet relief.
"I said freeze!" The guy took an aggressive half step forward.
"Hey, relax. Not going for a weapon or anything. No need for anyone to get excited. Just turning off the water." He spoke soothingly as he kept moving slowly and tried to maintain eye contact with the cop, which was made difficult by the way the idiot's eyes were darting from his face to his hand and back not really seeing either. When the water was off he just put both hands over his groin and relaxed. Alex could think of ten different ways to knock the idiot out and get away, but it would be easier to wait until he didn't have a gun trained on him. He wasn't too keen on getting shot by a half trained and incompetent do-gooder, so he was going to have to wait for rent-a-cop's brain to restart and decide what to do with him. Hopefully, they wouldn't be there all night. From what he could see of the hotel room over the cop's shoulders Dean and Sam had cleared out and left him to get caught. Typical.
"Put these on scumbag. We're taking you in." Another cop walked in from the other room and handed him a pair of Sam's jeans.
"But-" He tried lamely.
"We can do this the easy way or the hard way." The guy was obviously not just any idiot townie cop, but also a rookie with lines like that. Alex expected him to follow up with 'Go ahead, make my day.'
He sighed and grabbed the pants, pulling an embarrassing yanking-shimmy-hopping move when his soaked legs got stuck on the denim. He was just lucky he didn't slip and crack his head open, since the first cop still hadn't backed off far enough for him to step out of the wet shower stall. He rolled his eyes when the pants flopped down over his feet. Sam had a good five inches on him.
Alex grunted as he was shoved into the back of the patrol car. He looked up to see Dean. "Fancy meeting you here. Why is it that I'm fine looking after myself for years and then the minute I hook up with you and Sam again I find myself getting arrested?" He squinted at a half-amused half-irritated Dean, through shampoo burned eyes and shook his head vigorously, spraying the whole car with shower water and suds. Even childish minor irritations were still a form of revenge after all.=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=TBC=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=
My biggest problem when I start a new story is that everyone is OOC until I can figure out their motivations. I think I got everyone right on in this chapter. My second biggest problem is that I get stuck in canon. I finally got myself out of the copy-and-paste dialogue rut I was in for the first 2 chapters. Only the details of the case aren't mine this time around.
People REALLY hated the nickname Lexy. I don't really see why because even if it is 'girly', a nickname is a term of endearment. (Sammy isn't exactly a burly, masculine, he-man name either.) I'm tired of defending it though, so there you go.. he's not girly he's just named after a supervillain. (I hate the nickname Lex, and I know a GIRL whose full/legal name is Lex, how's that for girly.) I've been told that Sandy is another common nickname for Alexander, so send me a comment and tell me if you prefer Sandy or Lex.Distribution: FFN, LJ, AO3 (Lightning_Skies), TtH (LightningSkies)
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4,356 Words – 11/27/10