Part FourYou surprise me. Every day.
"Sorry about Esposito," Alexis says, handing Dean an ice pack for the bruise blooming on his cheek. He tracks Esposito across the station while she speaks. Esposito nods to Dean as he reports what occurred downstairs to Beckett and Dad. Beckett's eyes shoot up to her hairline. Her father's mouth drops open comically.
Alexis shakes her head. "He's had a long couple of days," she finishes quietly, "We all have."
"Believe me, I've had worse." Somehow, she gets the feeling he’s referring to something other than the bruises. In true Winchester fashion, he doesn’t elaborate - Dean presses the ice pack against his face and doesn't bother with pretenses, changing the subject with ease. "So, you know my brother?"
Alexis feels a blush creeping across her face. The question is innocent enough, but with a clear vein of sexual innuendo riding beneath. She busies herself with shuffling the papers on one of the desks, and out of the corner of her eye, she catches Dean smirk. "We dated in college for a couple of months freshman year. I... don't really know what we are now."
"You still haven't told me where he is." Alexis shrugs, sitting down, crossing her legs and arching an eyebrow. He laughs, perching himself on the desk in front of her. "Playing hard to get, are we?"
"You didn't seem overly concerned about his whereabouts when he called you months ago from Oklahoma." There's a dark undertone infused to her voice, a hard edge that belies her attempt to keep their conversation easy-going. Dean hates me. Well, he sure as hell doesn't trust me. I don't know which is worse.
Brother or not, she doesn't owe him anything.
Dean's expression completely changes, the smirk replaced with a blank, hard mask, betraying nothing. "You don't know anything about that. And it's none of your damn business."
She shrugs, completely unrepentant, crossing her arms over her chest. "I think you'd be surprised by what I know."
Dean taps his foot against the floor, biting his lip. Clearly, Dean Winchester is even more stubborn than his brother and ten times harder to read - a feat she would have never thought possible. Still, he leans forward, placing his hand on her knee, and she startles at the genuine distress in his voice.
"Hey, I couldn't find anything, but we might have better luck if a couple of us hit the stores further uptown-"
Dean snaps his head up at the same time Alexis turns around. Sam is slack-jawed and frozen, feet unmoving in the middle of the room. His eyes are riveted on his brother. Dean pulls his hand out of her lap and slowly stands, approaching Sam with measured steps. Even from across the room, the foot between them feels like a mile.
Sam finally pries his jaw open enough to sputter out, "Dean?"
Dean gives him a small smile. "Hey, Sam."
"What are you doing here?" Alexis gets the feeling those aren't the words Sam means to blurt out; this is reinforced when Dean laughs quietly, shaking his head.
"You've got some welcome wagon here, Sam, what with the attempted exorcisms and the twenty questions. I don't know if I should be offended or congratulate you on a job well done."
Sam's eyebrows knit together as he still tries to process the situation - or maybe just take in that his brother is here,
standing in the room with him, and not trying to take his head off. Alexis would bank on the latter. "Exorcism?"
"I didn't exactly come in through the door." The sly expression that appears completely changes Dean's face into something more playful. Sam's lips quirk, eyes rolling despite himself. "Think I spooked your girl pretty good."
"I can handle myself just fine, thanks," Alexis says tightly, and Dean stiffens when the gun at her side flashes in the fluorescent light.
“Is that…” Dean's voice trails off, and he stares at Sam, gesturing mutely to the Colt.
“Yeah," Sam says, and Alexis wonders how long he'll be reduced to awkward monosyllables.
Dean barks a laugh, loud enough that Alexis catches herself before she jumps backwards. “I’ll be damned. Crowley wasn’t just yanking my chain for an hour.”
“You saw Crowley?”
“What, you think you’re the only one who thought about going after the Colt?" I don't mean demons, you stupid son of a bitch.
"Come on, Sam, you may be the genius in this relationship, but I do, on occasion, have some bright ideas.”
Dean stops pacing and glances between Alexis and Sam, back and forth in a continuous loop that makes Alexis' head spin. There are subtle changes in his expression – his lips thin slightly, creases appear around his eyes where they weren't before, and his jaw tenses.
"Wait - why does she have the Colt in here if you were out there?" She hears the omitted words in his question as clearly as if he said them aloud - why does she have the Colt in here where it's safe if you were out there where it's not?
the tension ratchet up a notch in the following silence, a palpable change in the room that sends several eavesdropping officers ducking for cover. Esposito fidgets along the edge of her vision with the shotgun still in his hands; Beckett throws out her arm, grabbing hold of the firearm, muttering something about “shooting your own face off.” She never takes her eyes off of Dean, eyeing him like she does suspects she expects to fly off the handle with the slightest whisper of the wrong turn of phrase.
Dean’s eyes narrow, the rage that simmers just below his skin bubbling to the surface. "Sam?" he says, the word more an order than a question, one Sam answers with pursed lips and a ticking jaw.
Dean goes from aggravated to apoplectic in three seconds flat. "Oh, you have got
to be kidding me! God damnit, Sam, I thought you were over this!"
Sam's defenses never falter. He continues to stand at a distance from his brother, shoulders raised and muscles tense beneath his shirt with hands braced at his sides - like he’s waiting for a fight. "It's different this time, Dean,” he bites out, every word level except Dean’s name – one slightly desperate syllable, wanting, needing
his big brother’s approval.
"Why, because a different bitch is your supplier?"
Alexis watches the as those defenses crack and crumble, despairing disappointment crossing his face before he schools his expression into something hard, angry and unfamiliar.
After five minutes with Dean, she wants to tear him a new one. Logically, she knows there are two sides to every story. Logically, she knows Dean has every right to be wary of his little brother using his powers again. She's seen the effects they have on him, the blinding headaches, nosebleeds and almost complete loss of function. She knows about his betrayal, about Ruby, Lilith and Lucifer.
Her hands clench into fists because this is Sam
and logic left the building somewhere in Garber, Oklahoma.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Dad steps between all three of them, hands held out, completely misinterpreting the reason for her fury. "Okay, one - I can see there are clearly some family issues that need to be resolved so considering we're all stuck here together, why don't we take a deep breath and clear the air before jumping down each other's throats."
Dean glares coolly at her father. She can only imagine the comment about to fall from his lips - something about staying the hell out of what he doesn't understand, probably.
"Two," he steps directly up to Dean, getting right into his space, and Dean eyes him warily. "Call my daughter a bitch again, and broken shoulder or not, I will kick your ass." He pauses and jerks a thumb over at Beckett when Dean's eyebrows rise to his hairline. "Or, I'll just have her do it. She can shoot you. She'll make it look like an accident. Comprende, amigo
Dean nods, no trace of his usual sarcasm evident. "Message received loud and clear, sir."
"Good. Glad we understand each other." He pats Dean on the shoulder, giving Alexis a wink as he returns to his seat.
"She'll make it look like an accident?" Beckett whispers, helping her father into his chair.
He shrugs. "What?"
She shakes her head, but there's a fond smirk pulling at the edges of her lips. "Really, that's the best you could come up with?"
"It was on the fly!"
Alexis allows the familiar bickering to fade into the background and turns her attention back to Sam and Dean. The two brothers stare hard at one another, engaged in a face-off of epic proportions, one silently daring the other to break first.
Alexis rolls her shoulders and sighs, causing Sam to blink. You lose,
she thinks. “I’m going to re-salt the window downstairs.”
“Lex-“ Sam reaches out to grab her arm, but she twists out of his grasp. His hand stays in
the air, frozen for a moment before falling back to his side.
“I'm fine, Sam.” She's lying of course - she isn't fine, and he knows that, but if anyone could teach her how to circumnavigate her emotions with side-steps and easy brush offs, it's Sam Winchester.
Alexis hefts the bag of rock salt sitting next to Ryan's now abandoned desk into her arms, ignores the flash of confused hurt that crosses Sam's face, and makes her way down the stairs. She tosses the bag to the floor, rests her hands on the windowsill, drops her head, and breathes.
The sound of slow, hesitant footsteps doesn't make her turn around. She lifts her head slightly, eyeing the reflection in the broken glass, somehow unsurprised to see Dean's face staring back. She waits for him to make a biting comment about the fact that she isn't doing any actual work.
Instead, he rubs a hand against the back of his neck, looking instantly uncomfortable. “Look, I’m sorry about what I said up there.”
Alexis almost laughs, because no, he's not. He really isn't. At least not about what matters. “The bitch part or everything else?”
Dean startles, and the fact that she shocked Dean Winchester is almost as priceless as the surprised expression on his face. Alexis never pictured herself as vindictive, but something about Dean makes her hackles rise. “Excuse me?”
"Sam isn't drinking demon blood," she tells him bluntly.
Dean blinks at her, his face folding into a hard mask, and Alexis was wrong when she said Dean was harder to read than Sam. Sam changes the subject, distracts her with a dimpled smile or a kiss. He skirts the issues, runs her in circles like a dog chasing after their own tail. Dean simply shuts down.
"I know it isn't any of my business why you split-"
"You're damn right it's not."
"But I just thought you should know." Alexis hoists the bag into her arms, shrugging her shoulders as best she can with her hands full of a twenty pound bag of rock salt. "That's all."
"You care about him," Dean says, like this should be the most obvious thing in the world, like this is something he's been waiting all night to be sure of. Maybe he has.
She almost says, No shit, Sherlock,
but instead, she finishes the salt line and takes a deep breath as she turns around. She shrugs. "Don't you?"
Her words have an instant reaction. Dean steps closer, arms lined with tension, eyes narrowed in furious disbelief. Alexis doesn't step back; she doesn't move at all. She barely breathes. You don't intimidate me,
she wants to say, wondering when she turned into such a jealous bitch.
"I just want to protect him," is what comes out, an answer to her own rhetorical question, and she stills, horrified. Her eyes flicker across Dean's face, and she waits for the axe to fall.
Dean takes a step back, nodding, and a shaky and tenuous understanding forms in the distance he puts between them. He runs a steady hand through his hair, says, "Yeah," though what Alexis hears is, I want to protect him, too. -----
That night, Dean doesn't sleep; neither does Sam. Their voices carry through the silence, sometimes quiet murmurs, other times explanations that devolve into quick, angry rumblings. For the most part, Sam sits in one of the desk chairs, allowing Dean to do the gesturing and pacing. Only once does Sam rise, angrily using his height as an obvious advantage. She has no idea what words are exchanged, but Dean blanches, blinking, rubbing a hand against the back of his neck.
Sam settles down. When their whispers cease, Alexis falls back into a troubled sleep.
By the next morning, they are no closer to a truce than they were the previous day. Alexis wonders if all siblings are so frustrating; they say so much by saying so little, speaking secret languages by reading between the lines. She thinks the Winchesters might have the line tapped.
Sam paces up and down the floor, unable to keep still even for a moment. Alexis' eyes follow, tracking him back and forth until her head spins.
"Ants in your pants, Sparky?" Dean quips from across the room where he leans against the windows, opposite of their positions the previous night. His voice is clipped, undertone of concern belying his attempt to joke.
Sam grunts, giving him a silent glare. Alexis shoves a cup of coffee at his chest and lightly pushes him into a chair. "Sit down, Sam; seriously, you're making me dizzy."
Sam stares down at the coffee in his hands, eyes unfocused. His leg shakes anxiously.
Alexis places her hand on his knee. His movements slow, but never cease. She softly murmurs, "What's wrong?"
He stiffens, muscles coiling under her fingers. She squeezes his knee, a comfort. "I don't know," he whispers, fingers gripping the mug so tightly, she's afraid it's going to break. She gently takes the cup from his fingers, placing it on the floor between his feet. "Just... something feels off. I can't explain what I'm feeling. Just... just wrong."
Alexis learned long ago that Sam's instincts, no matter how strange, are almost always one hundred percent on-point.
So, she isn't surprised when Dean stands up straighter, glances out the window alertly and says, "Sam."
Sam practically leaps out of his seat in his haste to get to his brother's side. Alexis trails behind, eyes widening as she follows their gaze to the ground below.
"Crap," Sam says quietly.
"Yeah." Dean eyes Sam warily. "Guess we know why your spider sense was tingling."
Sam doesn't say anything in reply.
The sound of footsteps makes all three of them turn. Beckett, Dad and Esposito slowly make their way to the window, curious as to what holds their attention so raptly.
Beckett grips the window frame, the only outward sign of her worry. "Are those..." She lets the question trail off.
"Demons," Dean replies easily, "A fuck load of demons."
"Define fuck load," Dad says, leaning around Beckett.
"Somewhere between one and enough to tear this place apart with their bare hands, given the right incentive." Dean pushes away from the windows, turning to Sam with an arched eyebrow. He pointedly eyes Beckett, her father, and Esposito. "They're safe in here," he says.
safe in here," Sam counters.
"Until Lucifer huffs and puffs and blows the place down." Alexis watches, eyes bouncing back and forth as they complete each other's thoughts. She somehow finds it annoying, amusing, and adorable, all at the same time.
"Dangerous whether we go or not, Sam." Dean grabs one of the shotguns off of the wall, opening the chamber to check the rounds. He nods, satisfied to find it full. "We might as well take some demonic sons of bitches down with us." He checks the knife at his side and heads towards the door.
"Fuck," Sam mutters, but quickly follows his brother towards the stairs. When Alexis attempts to bring up the rear, heedless of her father's protests, Dean immediately ducks in front of her, holding out his arm to block her exit.
"Whoa there, Mary Jane, who said you were going anywhere?" Alexis stares at him dubiously. "You're staying here," he says firmly.
Alexis attempts to shove past him, but his arm is firm. She glares, jaw grinding. Dean remains unmoving.
She ducks under his arm instead, waving the Colt as she walks away. "Perfect," Dean mutters, rushing to catch up. She sees Sam smirk out of the corner of her eye as they fall into step.
The demons fall on them in a rush as soon as they clear the doors, working to separate them instantly. She realizes quickly that neither Sam nor Dean ever let her stray far from their side, always at her back regardless of how many demons of their own they’re dealing with; she doesn’t know whether to be grateful for their concern, or irritated that they think she can’t hold her own.
Alexis watches Dean use the knife, as captivated by the weapon as she is by the Colt and by Sam using his powers, amazed by anything that can so easily kill a demon. She hears a demon come up behind her, spins and shoots.
Dean appears just as fascinated by his brother's powers, awe mixed in with fear - for him and of him, one dueling to rule the other. Sam carefully keeps his face turned away from Dean the entire time, his eyes shaded, though Alexis has no idea why - inevitably, every deep, dark Winchester secret seems to come kicking and screaming into the light.
Then, just as suddenly as the fight began, everything stops.
The demons throw their heads back, exploding from their bodies in tandem, and Alexis tosses herself to the ground, unable to tear her eyes away from the sight of the billows of smoke rising towards the sky. The sudden lack of sound makes her ears ring.
"Okay," Dean says, slowly rising to his feet, "That was officially one of the weirdest things ever. And I've seen a lot of weird shit."
Alexis trips as she stands, and Dean grabs her elbow, steadying her. She swallows, nodding her thanks.
"I don't get it. Why did they leave?" Sam asks, peering around as if he expects the demons to reappear at any moment. She doesn't blame him.
"Maybe they overheard about your new and improved super demon hand of death," Dean mutters, and Alexis turns to glare at him. He shrugs, mouthing, What
Sam ignores his brother's dripping sarcasm. "No. No, that's not it."
"How about we don't look a gift horse in the mouth and just get the hell out of here?" Alexis says, but her skin crawls as she turns back towards the precinct. Something doesn't feel right.
The air feels charged, like the split-second warning before a lightning strike. Alexis turns, just in time to see Sam cry out, stumbling over the rubble at his feet. A demon in a suit towers over him, and Sam wheezes, like there's something constricting his lungs. He grins, flicking his wrists, and Alexis goes flying, falling hard to the ground against her side.
"Hello, Dean." He smiles widely, and Dean's hands clasp into fists.
"Zachariah," Dean says; not demon - angel,
and Alexis takes a moment to mull over how well and truly screwed they are. She attempts to push herself to her feet. Zachariah pushes her back down with a wave of his hand; she feels her ribs crack against the pavement and bites back a groan.
Dean's eyes flicker between her and his brother, still wheezing on the ground, unable to breathe. "Let him go, you son of a bitch."
He yanks the Colt from Alexis' pocket, but the gun goes flying with another gesture of Zachariah's hands, skittering across the pavement far out of his reach. "Not going to be that easy, Dean-o." He brings his hands up, tapping his fingers together, looking exactly like an ego-maniacal villain. "You know, there is a fail-safe way to stop all of this."
"You and Michael can both go to hell."
Zachariah flips his wrist and Dean doubles over, coughing; Alexis sees his palm come away covered in blood. "Careful with that temper, boy, or that's exactly where you're going."
Zachariah crouches down over Sam and sighs. Dean kneels, still coughing, hand over his mouth. "We warned you, Sam. We told you if you didn't stop, we would stop you ourselves."
Sam clenches his teeth, raising his eyes. "You can't remember your own words, Zachariah? You told Dean to stop me." Dean flinches, though whether in pain or at the reminder that he failed, Alexis isn't sure.
"He didn't though, did he?"
His eyes meet Dean's for all of a moment before he stares at Zachariah and swallows painfully. He glares and whispers, "Dean isn't going to do a lot of things."
Sam throws out his hand, clenching his fingers, and Zachariah's eyes widen, hands groping at his throat. Sam gasps, blood dripping from his nose and down his face. The angel's eyes roll back into his head and he collapses in a burst of white light. Alexis is blown backwards with the backlash.
When the light fades and Alexis can finally see, Sam lays on the ground, elbows shaking and chest heaving with the effort of trying to hold himself up. He raises black eyes to Dean. Dean's eyes widen as he wheezes, catching his breath. When he drops his head, Sam quickly cuts over to Alexis, rubbing a trembling wrist under his nose to wipe the blood away.
Alexis drags herself to her knees, holding a hand to her bruised ribs. "Jesus. Sam, can you stand?"
"I'm-" Sam groans, and Alexis grabs onto his shoulder before he falls completely on his face.
"You just took out a fucking angel. You are so
"You just said fuck," Sam says hoarsely as she slowly helps him to his feet.
"It's a brave new world." Alexis takes two steps, and then stumbles under Sam's weight. She shifts her arm around his waist before she falls, taking both of them down. "Sam, you have to work with me here."
The weight is suddenly lifted off of her shoulders - and isn't that just the perfect metaphor? She glances around Sam to see Dean tucking his arm around his brother's shoulders, easily holding his weight. He grunts, "Gotta ease up on that rabbit food, princess."
"Fuck you," Sam murmurs without heat. When Dean starts forward, Sam checks to make sure Alexis follows close behind.
"Let's go, Sasquatch."
Esposito speeds towards them as soon as they get back upstairs, holding open the door to the interrogation room Alexis points him towards. "What happened now?"
"You don't want to know," Dean says sullenly, dropping Sam surprisingly gently into one of the chairs.
"No. No, I don't want to hear explanations or excuses." Alexis grabs the towel her father hands her, gives him an apologetic smile as she clears out the room, shutting the door. She has a feeling privacy will be required for the conversation that is about to occur.
She isn't wrong. "You just killed a fucking angel, Sam. What the hell gave you even the passing idea that you could do that?"
"Crowley," Sam says quietly, as if the admission shames him.
Dean barks a laugh, leaning both of his hands on the table. Alexis stands in the corner, feeling like an intruder. "Oh, so we're taking advice from demons again? Because that went over so well last time."
Sam throws the towel to the table, pushing himself up to his full height, towering over Dean. "Are you angry that I killed an angel or that I'm using my powers again? That my eyes were black? That I'm thinking for myself and using them on my own terms?"
"They could kill you, Sam!"
"Or they could be the only way to stop Lucifer!"
"Because a demon told you?" Dean sounds increasingly frantic, anger giving way to a deeper, more desperate and silent plea with his brother to stop.
Sam’s plea is just as silent but no less distressed – please, just listen to me.
"No, goddamn it, because-"
She has no idea why, but this is when it hits her - the reason Dean was on the same wild goose chase looking for the Colt, the reason he ended up in New York looking for Lucifer but ended up finding his brother instead. She laughs, because the idea is so ludicrous - that Sam and Dean, who have been studying patterns their entire lives, didn’t see it before.
The two of them stop arguing, the expressions on their faces clearly wondering if she's finally cracked, which only makes her laugh harder. "Jesus Christ, you're both idiots," she says quietly, wiping her eyes, her laughter finally tapering off.
They look at each other. "Sorry?" Dean asks.
She shakes her head. "You have your heads stuck so far up your asses that you don't see what's right in front of you."
"Alexis, I'm not following, are you sure you're-"
She cuts Sam off before he asks a really
stupid question. "Castiel. Bobby. The Colt." She throws up her hands when all she receives is a blank stare from the two of them because if they still don't get it, they probably never will, and she isn't going to spell it out for them. Some roads, people have to be led down. Others, they have to arrive at on their own.
"Bobby was right. You are
stupid sons of bitches."
Alexis storms out, letting the door slam behind her. She hears whispering as soon as she leaves and opens the door to the observation room, where Esposito and her father are spying - with popcorn. She arches an eyebrow and they laugh sheepishly.
"We were just...you know," Dad says lamely.
She slaps them both repeatedly, chasing them out of the room until she can close the door, slumping against it.
"- is a firecracker," she hears the tail end of Dean's statement, and stands up straight, moving to the window to watch. Dean leans against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Sam sits in one of the chairs, his back to her. "Guess it's the hair." Dean shoots Sam a knowing look. "You sly dog. How'd you land a chick like that?"
"Well, I have this older brother, you see. He sets a shining example of how to be a ladies’ man."
"Yeah he does." Dean grins, shooting Sam a wink, and Alexis rolls her eyes.
A short period of silence follows; Sam stares down at the table, wringing his hands in front of him. Dean shuffles his feet down at the floor.
"Sam," Sam lifts his head, his movement ceasing, "I don't-" Dean sighs, glancing up to the ceiling. "What you did out there? What... happened to you? I don't know how to deal with that."
"Dean, I'm not..." He rubs at the back of his neck. "I'm not doing this because Crowley made a passing suggestion or because of any other demon. Or because of a chick." Alexis swallows past the nervous fluttering in her stomach, ignoring the way that last one stings. It isn't aimed towards her. She knows that. Try telling her stupid heart. "This isn't demon blood talking. This is me. All me. If this is the only way to stop Lucifer-"
"There's another way." Dean says the words with such conviction, even Alexis' breath catches in her throat.
Sam shakes his head wildly, his chair scraping across the floor as he shoves it backwards and stands. "No. No, Dean, no fucking way am I letting you become Michael's Muppet. We'll find another way."
"Sam - honestly, what other choice do we have?"
A period of silence follows that Sam spends silently examining his brother. Alexis knows the moment clarity hits - the lines of his face smooth out and his jaw relaxes, eyes widening just slightly. "He's coming to you too, isn't he?"
Dean pauses, but his back is tense when he turns back to his brother.
"Who, Lucifer? Sam, come on-" Alexis doesn't know Dean Winchester from Adam, but the way his eyes dart around the room, anywhere but at Sam's face, tells her he's lying through his teeth.
"No - not the devil. Michael."
Dean pushes away from the wall, turning his back to Sam. His shoulders rise, lined with tension, hands clenched into fists at his side. "Every night. For weeks, Sam. You don't know what- the things he's-"
Sam follows his brother across the room, cutting him off, forcing Dean to look at him. "What? You think Michael has a monopoly on inflicting emotional damage? Lucifer wrote the book, Dean. I haven't had a full night's sleep in months. I'm not giving up. You can't either. You can't.
" Sam sounds increasingly desperate, begging and pleading with his brother.
Dean's voice is broken, dejected as he asks, "What else what am I supposed to do?"
"Say no!" Sam no longer suggests - he demands it.
"I don't know how much longer I can, all right!"
Sam reaches out his arm, like he means to grasp Dean's shoulder, then changes his mind at the last minute, dropping his hand to the table. "Dean..."
"Just... drop it, Sammy. Please."
When Dean calls him Sammy,
Alexis waits for the rebuttal, the normal, instinctual reaction to the nickname.
The one that never comes. Sam sighs and tugs a hand through his hair, a sure sign of his frustration, but doesn't say a word to correct his brother.Why don't you let anyone but me call you Lex
Suddenly, Alexis feels like the world's biggest idiot.
Sam braces his hands on the window ledge just in front of Alexis, head hanging low on his shoulders. Dean stands across the room, leaning against the wall, flicking his lighter before he sighs, "Sammy-" He shakes his head when Sam turns, doesn't say anything else, but that one word conveys enough.
Alexis swallows, casts one final, knowing glance at Sam, and silently exits the room. ------
Alexis sits on the edge of the chair, watching her father sleep.
Dad wakes up slowly, in that way, she's decided, all parents do when they know there's something wrong with their children, a sixth sense that alerts them to the fact that their kids are near and in some sort of peril, even in sleep. "Alexis," he says quietly, rubbing a hand over his eyes, "What's wrong, sweetheart?"
Alexis swallows, biting her lip. "Dad..." She hesitates, and then presses forward. "How can you know so much about a person, but still not know them at all?"
Her father pushes himself up as straight in his seat as his shoulder will allow, turning towards her, fingers of his good hand tapping against his knee. "I'm guessing this isn't a hypothetical person," he says quietly so as not to wake Beckett, still asleep on the couch beside him.
Alexis bites her lip but doesn't answer, choosing instead to stare down at her legs. She lets the comfortable silence between them lull her into a false sense of calm, because she should know by now than to expect Rick Castle to let sleeping dogs lie.
"You know, you could still ask Beckett to run that background check."
"Dad," she groans, shoving him lightly in his right shoulder.
He grabs her ankles, and she picks up her head to stare at him. He takes a moment before starting to talk again. "You know, when I married your mother, I knew next to nothing about her. I knew she was beautiful, that she wanted to be an actress, that she was a terrible cook but made up for it by being an absolute cougar in the -"
"Stop," Alexis says pointedly, cutting him off, and he grins. She rolls her eyes.
"Sorry," he says, patting her right calf. "Honey, the point I'm trying to make is - do you know why your mother and I never worked?"
"Because she's insane?" Alexis asks dryly.
"Besides that." She smiles. "Because we never took the time to get to know each other. We asked all the right questions, had all the right feelings, but in the end, that's not enough. In the end..." His fingers squeeze her ankles and the abnormally sincere expression on his face makes her know she isn't going to like what he's about to say. "Sometimes, when you love someone, you have to let them go."
"And if they come back, they're yours forever?" She asks quietly, a fool's hope.
Her father smiles. "I prefer if they come back, set them on fire, but you always were an optimist." -----
When Castiel appears in the middle of the precinct the next morning, Dad drops the two cups of coffee in his hands all over the front of his shirt. His startled yelp brings Sam and Dean running from the break room, where they sat huddled together over a map, various computer printouts, and their father's journal. Alexis hovered on the edges of their conversation, not excluded, but not exactly included, either.
"Ow! Hot, hot, hot," he shakes out his hand, sucking his knuckles into his mouth. He stares across the room, shouting, "Who the hell are you?"
"Cas," Dean says, carefully stepping forward with Sam at his shoulder, just as Castiel opens his mouth. "How did you find us? I thought these magic symbols on our ribs were angel proof." Angel?
Dad mouths at her, eyes so wide they might as well be popping out of their sockets. Alexis rolls her eyes, pushing past him to get closer to Sam and Dean.
"They are," Castiel says, pulling his trenchcoat back into place around him. Alexis wonders offhandedly if angels ever have to do laundry. "I did not follow you. I followed my..." He appears perplexed for a moment, and she still struggles with the fact that an angel can appear so human,
yet so alien all at the same time. "I believe the word is gut."
"Your gut," Dean says blandly, disbelieving.
"My instincts would be the more sufficient term."
"Well, you're a day late and a dollar short. We could have used the holy tax accountant yesterday when the armies of heaven and hell were upon us."
Castiel blinks. His tone rises slightly, the only outward sign that he might be ruffled by the implications Dean is making. "Lucifer was here?"
"No, but we did run into your old pal, Zach."
Castiel’s eyes widen slightly - shock, she supposes. "Zachariah? What happened?" Or worry for their well-being. Huh. Who knew? "You are still alive, so I can rightly assume you somehow eluded his grasp."
Dean rolls his eyes, quickly patting Castiel on the shoulder. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Cas, you're a regular ray of sunshine." He takes a slight step in front of Sam, as if cutting him off from the angel - trying to stop him from saying something he shouldn't.
Sam speaks from behind Dean's back anyway. "He's dead. I killed him." Dean shoots him an irritated glare, one that very clearly says, Shut up, you idiot.
Castiel's eyes narrow; when he steps towards Sam, Dean cuts him off. If Sam weren't four inches taller, he'd be completely shielded from Castiel's view. "That is not possible. Only an angel can kill another angel."
"Apparently, Sammy missed that memo," Dean grumbles, pointedly glancing at Sam out of the corner of his eye. "Sammy
is standing right here," Sam snaps, and something inside of Alexis pulses painfully at hearing Sam acknowledging a name he only ever shot down a million times before.
Castiel examines Sam carefully, as one might a specimen under a microscope. If Alexis were under that gaze, she would be squirming, but Sam simply sighs, looking only slightly uneasy. "I suppose it could be possible. Demons were created by an angel, and thus your powers could, theoretically work on them. Dangerous, considering where your powers come from - and also an incredibly ill-advised and possibly deadly endeavor if attempted. But possible." Sam huffs, but does not comment.
Dean waves his hand in the universal gesture of get on with this already.
She's quickly learning that Dean has a limited store of patience. "You want to tell us why you're here, Cas, or continue to give us a philosophical lecture?"
"I was not aware that-" Dean glares balefully and Castiel clears his throat, ignoring his previous statement in favor of answering Dean's question. "The demons that were here yesterday - I have spoken with Bobby at length, and he thinks that is just the beginning of an attack on a much larger scale. We know Lucifer is gearing up for something big. He is going to free the Horsemen."
Alexis shakes her head. "Wait - Horsemen, like War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death?" Every time she thinks things can’t get any weirder…
Castiel nods, eyes flicking to her like he only just realized she was standing there. She shuffles her feet. "Yes."
"Where is he headed?" Dean asks, and Alexis breathes a sigh of relief when Castiel turns his gaze back to someone else.
"I am... unsure."
"That's helpful," Dean quips.
"We believe his final destination will be Detroit."
The expression Castiel shares with Dean speaks volumes. Dean flinches so hard, Alexis thinks he pulls a muscle.
"I don't understand," Sam says slowly, puzzled eyes flickering between Castiel and his brother. "Why Detroit?"
Dean shrugs, coughing, clearly lying through his teeth. "Just a random place."
"Nothing is random to the devil, Dean, and it obviously means something to you." Dean says nothing in reply, and Sam grits his teeth. "Fine, so we head towards Detroit."
Dean is clearly stunned, eyes widening in surprise. Alexis isn't. "We?"
Sam arches an eyebrow, but the uncertainty remains, hovering at the edges until Dean smiles, the corner of his lips sliding upwards. That one small change is like a switch being flicked, his entire face lighting up, and she swallows, biting her lip.
Sam turns, and Dean follows his gaze towards her, smile slipping slightly. He looks decidedly uncomfortable, purses his lips, and points towards Sam's weapons bag. "I'll start packing the car," he says. He grabs Castiel's arm. "You're coming with."
"I do not see the point of-"
"Come on, wings." He pauses on his way out the door, hand still on Castiel's shoulder as something occurs to him. "You didn't follow your instincts, did you?"
"I do not know what you are talking about." The barest of smirks on Castiel's face says differently.
"The Colt - you and Bobby pointed me towards Crowley. Bet you pointed Sam in that direction, too. You knew I would be here."
"Are you implying something, Dean?" Alexis is shocked to see his lips quirk up into something imitating a smile.
Dean chuckles, shaking his head. "Nope. Nothing."
Alexis waits for Dean to drag Castiel from the room, still protesting, before she lets out a breath, turns to Sam, and gives him a soft, hesitant smile. All at once, Sam knows.
"You're not coming." He says it like a statement, and she shakes her head.
She phrases her words like a question, letting him stop her if he wants but knowing he won't. "Someone has to stay here who actually knows what they're doing, right? Hold down a second front, just in case?"
"Alexis..." She cuts him off, holding her palm to his mouth. She learned a lot about Sam Winchester in the past four months. He doesn't want her to stay, but he isn't going to convince her to go. This isn't her fight. They both know that and somewhere, deep down, they knew this was coming.
Alexis slips the Colt into Sam's jeans pocket, but he shakes his head, pushing the gun back into her palm and closing her fingers around it. He gives her a sad smile. "You need it more than I do."
She slips the Colt onto the desk behind her, wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him, a promise. His hands pull her close, one hand at the back of her head in her hair, keeping her there. She lets her forehead fall to his shoulder and gently presses kisses to his neck. Then, she silently watches him walk away. She stands at the door, listening to the Impala fade away in the distance, biting her lip and forcing her feet to move forward without looking back.
She doesn't say she loves him. She does not say goodbye. This is not an ending.
She'll see him again.
Her father always said she was an optimist.Notes and Acknowledgements
This fic was a thorn in my side from the moment of its inception. This was nowhere near my original idea (a Castle/Buffy/SPN crossover), but as soon as started Part One, Alexis took over and decided she had a story of her own to tell. I was just along for the ride. All that remains of the Buffyverse is a single borrowed line (I laugh in the face of danger. Then, I hide until it goes away.
) This took many twists and turns I was never expecting, I think my plot shifted at least five times - and that was after
the first draft was complete - writing Dean and Alexis together was like pulling teeth (possessive little brat that she is) but the end result is something I love. I hope you all did too.
To darkmagic_luvr, whose art is absolutely gorgeous. I cannot thank you enough for taking my fic and turning it into something so visually stunning. I continue to be completely and utterly impressed by each and every piece :D
To darkmerrick, thank you for the eleventh hour beta and a much-needed confidence boost, for telling me when I needed to take back the reins on my characterizations, and for pointing out my glaring plot holes. I can't even explain how much I appreciate all of the help.
To riverchic, my beta, my friend - this would not, COULD not have been done without you. You listened to me flail about every little changed detail, you helped me through every single crises, and there was no way I would have finished this if you weren't there holding my hand from start to finish. Also, there would be a lot more spelling mistakes since clearly, I will never learn the i before e rule.
Last but not least, thank you to chosenfire28 for all of the hard work put into this challenge. I had a blast participating!