These Dreams (SN,XO,UC, Adult) (Complete)

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DMartinez
Obsessed Roswellian
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Post by DMartinez » Mon May 28, 2007 12:56 pm

Part 20 – Three days later…
(September 3, 2008)

Liz pressed her lips to the can before letting Isabel have it. Things had been cold between everyone since that scene in Liz's cottage days before. Many hard words had been said that day. She had hardly seen anyone at all. She'd had to go to the store for some saltines, the only food she seemed to be able to stomach, but Kyle had only nodded in passing. Maria, Michael and Isabel were standing in front of the van. Their minds made up. When they had finally gotten up the courage to tell Liz their plans, she hadn't argued but she couldn't go with them.

Holding back a sob, Maria embraced her lifelong friend. "I am so sorry things turned out this way, petunia. I love you but… Michael can't stay here and I have to go with him."

"I understand." Liz nodded into her hair. "If he ever pops the question, I expect at least an invitation to the reception."

"Maid of honor, babe. Maid of honor… but hell will have to freeze over first… but if he ever does." Maria stood up. "You should come. Come with us."

"I can't." She met her friends eyes. "You'll understand what I mean someday but… I had the best of Max here. I had the worst of him there."

"Okay. I trust you know what that means." Maria climbed inside the van beside Michael, who had already said his goodbyes to Kyle and had refused to acknowledge Liz.

Isabel stood there, unsure of what to say. "What should… I mean…"

Liz took a deep breath but didn't take the can back. She had refused to change it out for an urn. It seemed fitting that it have his name on it… and he should go home. To be properly buried at home in Roswell. "Tell my parents that I just can't go back without him. Tell your parents that… tell them whatever you want."

"What I said… the other day…" The tall blonde took a shuddering breath.

"I know."

"I'm going to miss you. You're my sister."

"Yeah." Liz nodded, tears filling her eyes again. "Promise me that when you and Jesse have a zillion kids together that they know they have an Aunt Liz somewhere in the boondocks."

"Yeah." Isabel laughed a little then hugged her sister-in-law. "I'm so sorry, Liz."

"I'm sorry that I couldn't do more… before… I never meant to… I thought I had it figured out but… It's done now. It's really done now." They clung to each other for a long moment. "Just make sure the headstone is tasteful. Simple. Loving son, brother, husband and father… because we know he was."

She nodded stiffly. "We'll keep in touch."

"Definitely." Liz stepped aside so Kyle could say his goodbyes to Isabel. She walked around to the drivers' side, where Michael was staring straight ahead. "I'll miss you, Michael." He didn't say anything. "Despite everything I said, it's not your fault. If it's anyone's… it's mine."

He swallowed down a lump and right when Liz thought he was going to flip her off, he turned his head slightly and let his eyes fall on her. "Yeah. Ditto."

"Take care of her or I'll light you up like a Christmas tree." Liz warned, half-joking.

"She might think that's funny."

She felt Kyle's arm around her shoulders and they both watched the van back away and disappear into the dust. She leaned on him like she hadn't since that third or fourth date when she'd become comfortable with him… before beer blasts were commonplace and before her sophomore lab partner had saved her life. Kyle kissed her forehead and guided her back to her cottage. "Do you want me to stay?"

"Yes."

"Okay, but no hanky-panky. I don't know what diseases that husband of yours gave you." He joked, lamely. They trudged in silence for a bit. He wondered if she had even smiled at his bad humor. "You're going to be okay, you know."

"I don't know about that. I didn't feel him go. I should have felt him go… shouldn't I?" Tears slipped silently down her face. "I felt him die the first time."

"Maybe it… reversed the connection thing. Him dying that time. You loved him so much, you still never missed a beat but… maybe it just wasn't there anymore."

"But I still felt it… when he took over Clayton's body."

"Are you sure? When was the last time you were sure that you were connected that way?"

"I don't know… When I was getting visions before graduation for sure."

"From… 'touching' people?"

"Maybe not… maybe when… he died again… Not died but… maybe he did die again when he fell through that gazebo. I don't know… It's too soon to be having this discussion." Liz let Kyle open the door for her. The room was littered with dying arrangements that all their friends in town had sent. "Welcome to the potpourri suite."

"Wow, do you know all these people?" Kyle set his charge in a chair and walked around examining all the flowers.

"Um… I know about half of them." Liz picked up the stack of cards where she'd been writing 'thank you' notes. She flipped through them to examine the names she had written but not known personally. "The butcher, the guys in the shop." She held up eight cards. "Some hunters from the bar." Five more. "The guys down at the gas station." Three. "The guys in Rutherford." Ten more. "I guess more people around here knew Max than I thought."

"Well, you married you a pretty magnetic guy." Kyle commented as he took the seat across from her. "I thought he was uptight when we were in Roswell… and in Darrey and in Putter and in Racine… but here, he was… pretty relaxed unless you had a scary vision or you guys had a fight."

"Yeah, he was." Liz nodded. "I liked him here. I mean, really, really liked him." She laughed. "Of course I loved him but… he was more… him here."

"I guess I know what you mean." He took a deep breath. "I'm going to miss him. I still don't feel like he's gone. You know?"

"It doesn't feel real. I didn't get to say a real goodbye. When he said they were going shopping, I gave him a hell of a goodbye but… I didn't know it was the last one I'd give him." Wiping at her face, Liz searched for the Kleenex. "I haven't really cried because of him in a long time. I think I forgot how. I was always crying over him in high school… and then…"

"You married him and then he stopped making you cry." Kyle handed her a box after popping off the cardboard top.

"Yeah. I want him back. I want him here." She wiped roughly at her nose and eyes. "I'm selfish. He's… better off. You know? In whatever passes for heaven these days. He'll be stress free. He can be whatever it is that you are after you're dead. No Antarian kingdom. No FBI. No fucking aliens."

"Stop being strong for me, Liz. I don't need you to be strong." Kyle stood and pulled her out of her chair. "Stop and grieve." He could feel the waver in his own voice. "Just stop and let it out."

"He was mine and I don't have anything but pictures left." Liz sobbed on the only friend left with her.

--

Dean downed his third shot of the day. Marty and Bobby were drinking with him. The bar was virtually empty. There was no wait staff. No cook. Sam was somewhere on the phone to a girl Dean vaguely remembered in New England.

"All my bar staff is gone." Marty griped as he glanced around. "I don't know when Lillian will come back."

"Where are all the others?" Dean pulled on his beer and barely picked his head up to look Marty in the face but not in the eye.

"Left this morning. Amanda, Gary and Mary… all going home… with Nathan."

"They left Lillian?"

"And Stan." Bobby threw in. "Saw him back there with her earlier."

"They were taking Nathan home to his parents as I understood it." Marty nodded and took a shot. "Dean, what in the hell happened out there?"

"It didn't win." Dean poured himself a fourth shot and slammed it. "It was strong. Stronger than anything I've ever seen on this Earth. The guys had these… knives and throwing stars. It just wouldn't go down. We, Sammy and me, pumped it full of buckshot. Stuff that was supposed to slow it down but it… Nathan got his hands on it… and it got its hands on Nathan." He motioned with his hands that they cancelled each other out. "Pttth. End of story."

"That's it?" Bobby stared at the young man.

"I don't know what happened. I don't know what Nathan did. All I know is… It screamed like something I've never heard. Like it had seven voices and each one was in the worst pain it had ever felt. Gary and Sam pulled Nathan back but he was already… gasping for air… like his… like I don't know. I was watching it. My eyes were on it. I was still unloading my gun into it with the buckshot, reloading when I got the chance. It went up in flames. I'm talking an inferno straight from what's it called." He snapped his fingers at the men.

"Dante?"

"That's the thing. I mean… hotter than any flame I've ever felt. Smelled like… skunks and sulfur. I turned around and Nathan is fighting with Gary and Sam. Shoving them away with this… wild look in his eyes. I swear to God that his eyes went completely black. Not just his… irises or whatever… the whole eyeball, blacker than tar." He downed two shots in quick succession. That had been the last expression he'd seen on Nathan's face. "Then Gary lets go of him like he got burned… and I guess he did because Sammy was backing away with his hands in front of his face. Then he… burst into flames. He didn't scream. I remember that. He didn't. He just fell to his knees and burned up."

"What took you guys so long to come back?" Bobby stared at Dean like he had two heads.

"I promised Lillian that I'd bring him home. I waited until he went out. I put him in the only thing I could find. Then the sirens came. We had to hightail it in the opposite direction… it meant going around and that took longer. We drove straight through."

"Why do you look like shit?" Marty gestured to the cuts and bruises all over both Winchesters.

"It was a demon. They all have telekinesis or something, I guess. If it wasn't Sam and Gary flying over my head, I was flying over theirs. There were boulders and trees and each other to break our falls." Dean couldn't see straight but it didn't matter, all he could see was that damned field. "I wish I knew what it was. I want to call it something." He sniffed and wiped a stray tear away. "I wish I could have done more to save him. He was a good guy."

Marty poured them all another round. "To Nathan."

"Nathan." Bobby nodded.

"Nathan Sparks." Dean cleared his throat and tossed the shot back. "Call Sammy. I need to get to the room."

"Fuck it all. He did it again." Marty groaned but slapped the bar. "Sam! Come get your brother. Take him to his room."

The Next Day…
(September 4, 2008)

Kyle opened the door at the knock. It wasn't late but he'd been trying to get Liz to sleep for about an hour. It was the younger Winchester. "Hey."

"Hey… is Lillian around?" Sam shoved his hands into his pants. "I… was looking for Dean when I realized I hadn't seen her at all these last days. How is she doing?"

"I want her to sleep. She wants to drink herself stupid." Kyle shrugged. "She mourns with liquor, I think."

"You think?"

"The last time… anyone close to her died, she hit the bottle. It's a rare occasion that renders her helpless." Kyle opened the door wider so Sam could see for himself the empty vessel of a woman sitting beside the foot of the bed, playing with an empty bottle. "Lillian, someone to see you."

Sam stepped carefully into the room and knelt to look her in the eye. "Hey. You okay?"

"Did it feel like this for you?" Liz lifted her eyes to his. "When she died? Did you feel like you were dead inside?"

"Yeah, that and a whole lot worse. Maybe someday, I'll tell you about it. I don't think you're ready to hear it."

"I'm probably not." She stared at him for a minute longer before she spun the bottle into a corner. Kyle was right. She was just feeling sorry for herself but she needed something to help her get out of the hole she was in. "I need to hear somebody say it out loud… how he died… Dean… he didn't say."

Sam sat on the floor to look her in the eye. "It's going to be hard to hear but you do need to hear it."

"Tell me."

"When we got there, the guys were just getting a bead on where it was going. They were going to cut it off before another innocent man died. We got to them first. We tried to talk them into waiting a while. Gary wouldn’t hear of it. They wanted us to leave. Dean pulled Nathan aside. I don't know what he told him but Nathan agreed to it and we all went to the field to wait. Nathan did something on his own before he joined us. It was maybe an hour later when it showed up. It looked just like any regular man. Dean and I tried our tricks but salt and Latin didn't work, just like you said." Sam took a breath. "It got violent. We all got hurt. Some things happened so fast, I'm not sure they actually did. Somehow, Nathan got close to it. He stabbed it through the heart with a dagger. It touched his chest before we could pull him away. Dean kept shooting it with that buckshot you gave us. It burned up… and then Nathan started burning too."

"Did he hurt?" She whispered.

"He didn't even scream. The thing did. It screamed so loud I thought I was going to go deaf. I wanted to leave right away but Dean made us wait. When the fires died down, he took the ashes so we could bring them to you. He made you a promise…"

"And he kept it. I know." Liz leaned back against the bed. "I just… wondered if…"

"He loved you. That's why he went out there. To kill it. For you." Sam squeezed her hand. "Be better, Lillian. You're strong."

"It's not fair." She shook her head. "I was supposed to have his children. We were going to grow old and gray together."

"It's not fair. I was supposed to be a lawyer. I was going to have a wife and kids and a white picket fence and no weapons. Now I don't." Sam brushed her hair out of her face. "I'm sorry that it doesn't get to be Nathan you have that with but maybe you will have that… someday with someone."

"It won't be the same. He was the love of my life."

"No." Kyle cleared his throat. "It won't be the same. But someday, not any day soon. You'll meet someone. You'll have those kids and the house and you'll tell your daughters about the love of your life. You'll tell them how you can heal from loss and how you can continue to live after you think you've lost it all."

Liz calmed some but she wasn't in the room. She was with her last memories of her husband. She leaned on Kyle when he hugged her and squeezed Sam's hand when he offered it. She would be okay. She still had friends. Then the phone rang.

Kyle hopped up to answer it. "Hello? … Yeah… Yeah, she's here." He turned to them on the floor. "It's your mom. The guys are there already. She wants to talk."

Liz wiped her eyes and stood to take the phone. "Mom?" The tears came unbidden as she listened to her mother's voice. A voice she hadn't heard in over six years. Listening to her mother's words and reason, Liz took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm okay, Mom. I have friends here who are looking after me… Yeah… I'm sorry but I just can't… I can't… Mom, I can't be there without him… I know… I love you, too… Where's Dad?… Okay… It's as safe as it's ever going to get…"

"I'll go." Sam got to his feet. "Dean's probably half in the bottle already."

"He doing okay?" Kyle asked absently.

"He… doesn't really make friends and Nathan was a friend." Sam explained briefly. Explaining it put it in perspective for himself. "He made a promise to her and he only kind of kept it. He… doesn't do things that way." That was true. One hundred percent Dean. "He lives by the Code. Whatever that is. He knows the rules and he thinks he broke them."

Three days later…
(September 7, 2008)

Liz picked at one of many casseroles when she decided she couldn't possibly eat everything she had stored in her refrigerator. Kyle would love to take some. He'd already helped her eat so many. Bobby could always use food he didn't cook himself. Marty might take one if she guilted him into it. She packed up a few to try her luck and to try work on a slow night. She had to test the waters before she committed to working every night for Marty again.

She had taken a week and she would take no more. Max was gone for good. She couldn't change that. She was Liz Evans. She was stronger than to crawl into herself and die. She wanted to. She hadn't felt Max die but she could feel the hole where he once had a warm place in her soul. He wouldn't ever go to work or come home to share their bed. Would no longer regale her with stories of the Rutherford guys or explain his adventures in cooking while she tasted his latest concoction. Would not cuddle with her on break, or when the nights were cool. Would never make love to her…

Sighing, she knew she was only depressing herself more. Fixing her hair, she made the trek to Marty's. Sam was sitting at the bar with a pile of clippings and his dad's journal open in front of him. Liz unceremoniously dropped a casserole on top of his work. "Bon appétit."

"What's this?" He blinked at her.

"One of about a zillion casseroles that showed up in my house over the last week. I'm sick of making the effort to taste them all. I'm sick of looking at them crowding my refrigerator." She sank onto the stool next to him.

"Thanks. Home cooked food will be a welcome change." He offered her a grateful smile. Hers didn't reach her eyes but he remembered how that felt.

She placed a second one on top of that one. "There's one for your brother." She caught his look. "I know how you guys are. I'd only be whetting your appetites. You're all bottomless pits."

"If I can get him to stop drinking long enough to taste one, I'm sure he'd appreciate it, too." He shook his head at his brother, though for once, he was not in the bar.

"Is he drinking a lot, again?" Liz put a reassuring hand on Sam's shoulder. She wasn't the only one involved. It was her husband but they had been there. Had seen what had been done.

"He's hit a road block, I think. He doesn't want to hunt. He doesn't want to pick up girls. He's been drinking since last week and if he's eaten, I haven't seen it." He sighed heavily. "I almost wish I'd get a head splitting vision, just so he'd snap out of it."

"Maybe he's realizing his own mortality." She remembered when it had happened to her. When she realized that she had almost died. That her friends could die. It was a lonely and dark place to be if there wasn't something worth living for.

"That was a few years back. This is different. It's kind of scary." He shrugged and looked her over. He asked the question his face had held since he laid eyes on her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm as okay as I can be." She shrugged and sniffed a little. "It stills feels a little like a bad dream that I can't wake up from."

"Yeah." He opened his jacket. "I thought you might want these."

"What's all this?" She frowned when he laid weapons on the bar.

"We pulled them out of the demon's ashes. We left the buckshot but these weren't harmed much by the fire." He kept his voice soft so no one else would hear. Liz fingered the knives and blades, recalling the story he had shared with her a few days before. They were simply made but elegant in design. "The stars were Gary's but the knives and daggers were Nathan's." He pointed one out. "That's the killing blade."

"Kivar." She whispered as she picked it up.

"What?" Sam frowned.

"That was his name. Kivar." Liz spun the dagger around her fingers. She gripped the handle and set it down. She ran her fingers over the knives. She could imagine Max's long fingers curling around their shiny handles. Guilt slammed into her again. For Max. For Dean. "Take care of your brother, Sam. Don't let him beat himself up too badly… if it weren't for the two of you… I could have lost everything in this world that I cherish. I love my husband but… Kivar wouldn't have stopped at killing us. He had to be stopped… at any cost."

Sam was unnerved by the ferocity of her words but if he had learned anything about the odd things that sometimes tumbled out of her mouth, it was that they had to be accepted. "I think I understand."

"That's the price we had to pay. It was a great sacrifice but it had to be done… right?" Liz's eyes shone with tears but she didn't let them fall. "One man for the lives of billions?"

"Maybe I shouldn't have brought them." He reached for them to put them back in his jacket but she beat him to it, sliding them underneath the bar.

"No. I'm okay. I think. I just… it's soon. Maybe too soon. I need to work though. I can't pay the bills with casseroles." She joked lamely. "I've got to get to my tables."

TBC

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DMartinez
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Post by DMartinez » Wed May 30, 2007 12:33 am

Part 21 – A month later…
(October 7, 2008)

Sam picked up Dean's phone when his cut out. He dialed quickly. "Hey."

"Hi." Liz nodded into the phone. "Was that you, just now?"

"Yeah. I was trying to call and check up on you but my phone died. I need to get a new one. The battery is shot… then again, there's no telling how many times it's been dropped and tossed around during a scuffle."

"A scuffle." She half laughed at his choice of words. "Don't you mean a battle to the death with the forces of evil?"

"Something like that." He nodded to the phone with a laugh himself. "So, you sound okay."

"Yeah. I'm fine. I'm getting back into a routine. Thanks for calling. It's nice to hear a voice that isn't crying when they talk to me. When my sister-in-law and Ma-ry call, they're usually crying or asking if I'm crying. They gave my mom my number and she calls every morning and I can hear that she's been crying even though I tell her that I'm okay. I'm sick of crying. I miss him but… I can do without the crying these days. I have happy memories."

"Hang on to those." Sam advised while he steered the car in a direction that wasn't going to get them slammed head on by a semi. "Stan still sleeping on your floor?"

"I got him a bed. A proper bed. He's staying with me now instead of at the hotel. It's temporary. He's looking for a place of his own so that he can bring chicks to his place instead of shelling out for a room or trying to sneak out of some strange girl's bed in the middle of the night." She laughed a little. "He knows how to cheer me up though."

"Who the fuck are you talking to?" Dean complained, pulling his jacket off his head.

"Lillian." Sam called back.

"Oh. Whatever." He pulled his jacket back over his head.

"What?" Liz frowned.

"Oh. Nothing. Dean says hi." Sam whacked his brother.

Liz rolled her eyes and let out a chuckle. "No, he didn't. That grouch is probably cursing me out under his breath."

"Probably. I'm using his phone."

"Well, then, shall we run up his minutes?"

"That was my plan." He smiled at the road. "It good to hear you laugh."

"It's good to be able to laugh."

The next night…
(October 8, 2008)

Kyle plopped himself down at the bar and opened a menu but Liz already had his dinner ready and set it in front of him. And it was exactly what he would have picked off the menu had he a chance to look. "You are the best roomie ever."

"Thanks." Liz shrugged.

"So… you were on the phone late last night." He commented as he poured ketchup over his fries. He eyed her but she didn't seem to react to his question.

"Sam." She tallied up a couple of checks and set them next to her work station behind the bar.

"Winchester?"

"Do you know any other Sam?" She straightened out at the expression on his face. "What?"

He shook his head and leaned on his elbows over his food. He didn't know quite how to take the information. "I didn't know you were over the big cheese already."

"Would you quit calling him that?" Liz rolled her eyes. She had always hated that particular nickname Kyle had for Max. "I'm not over him. Sam called and we talked. He knows what I'm going through."

"Oh yeah?"

"He lost someone like I did." She felt so exasperated at having to feel like she should explain talking to a friend. "It feels good to talk to someone who's been in this dark place and doesn't feel the need to make me cry it out."

"Oh." Kyle nodded to his plate. "He can't be the funny guy though. That's my job. If he takes my job, I'll deck him."

"I'll let him know." Liz stared out at the bar. It was a slow night. Not even a few truckers. Just a hunter or two. She'd learned to identify them by how long Marty lingered at their tables when he walked through. By the odd scars on their faces and arms. By the unshorn cheeks and worn clothes. The way they stared through the walls when they drank their beers. Like they all had one foot on this green earth and the other in a grave.

A month later…
(December 8, 2008)

"I got all the clues backwards." Liz explained to Sam over the phone. She had taken to talking to him late at night when her well-meaning friend was asleep. When Dean was asleep wherever they were. "I haven't had any lately. The last vision I had was of him dying but I still thought and hoped that it wouldn't be too late to stop it. I had all sorts of visions before that. For years and I only put them all together when it was too late to change the course much. Different things that led up to it but… I got them all backwards."

"When did it start? You having the visions?"

"Years ago. Back home before I graduated high school. These visions. The ones about how it would all happen that day. I think they started in '03. We'd been on the road over a year. I started having dreams of being with another man. Some guy that I'd never seen, never met. The feelings I got from that vision were so confusing that I smashed them down. I thought I was doing a good job until I had it in the van with everyone listening to me… um, talking in my sleep. My husband included. So, I talked about it and everyone just said I needed to get laid. That we hadn't had enough time alone. They stopped after a while. I forgot about it."

"But you didn't really."

"No, it was always there in the back of my mind, I guess. I ran into him, the guy, sometime later that same year. It clicked for a second but I was out and gone and I didn't give it another thought." She took a breath. Having to remember all the places she'd laid her head and how one had blended into the next for a long time. It made her weary just thinking about it. "We settled down here in Valor Springs, stopped running and I got so busy playing house that I didn't have visions and if there were clues, I didn't heed them. There just seemed to be no need to look over my shoulder when the visions and dreams seemed to say that everything was safe enough. When I met you guys, there was something I didn't like about Dean but I couldn't put my finger on it."

"Yeah, we all got that." Sam managed a wry laugh at the memory of watching Liz shoot Dean down on that first night. Dean was not on his game so fresh from Dad's death but he had wanted to try to nail their hot waitress.

"It was like I recognized something about him but I just couldn't… It wasn't his attitude that I hated. I wasn't really bothered by him leering. I've been leered at plenty in that bar." She laughed ruefully because it was true. She'd been leered at plenty worse and not reacted so swiftly or mercilessly on any of them. "There was something in his eyes that just… I know now that there was something missing all that time. I just didn't put it together until that day at Bobby's."

"How do you mean?"

"You and Dean were in a bad place when you stumbled into Marty's that day we met. Dean laughed and joked but it never reached his eyes."

"Yeah. He was torn up. We both were."

"I went to Bobby's one night to deliver some food. He had to find his money so I was looking around his office. You guys had gone. Nathan and Gary were gone. I didn't know yet that things were starting to go badly. I started looking at some pictures on his desk, wishing I had more of my friends. Then I saw this picture on the desk. A man and his two boys sitting on a car. I recognized your father first."

Sam sat up in his bed. "Dad? How would you recognize Dad?"

"I met him once, briefly. It was in a hotel room in Racine. I went into the wrong room and fell asleep. I woke up next to Dean when your father walked in chewing him out for bringing a girl into the room. I didn't know them then. I just knew I was in the wrong place and I ran out. But I saw his eyes that night. Eyes from a dream I'd had. I didn't recognize Dean when you two came in that night. It'd been so long. But at Bobby's, I saw that picture of the three of you and I knew what it all meant. Dean's eyes were missing the laughter I'd seen when I first met him with your Dad. I had trouble wrapping my head around it all."

"I'm confused, Lillian."

"I was too. I couldn't deal. The only way I could be with any man but my husband would be if he were gone. Dead. To be with Dean that way. To be with him and feel the things I felt in that first vision. I had to have moved on and healed. It would have been different if I didn't wake up from the visions in my husband's arms. These dreams were killing me but I had to try to save him. When I saw how you all could die… I had to do the math. One dead. Two dead. Four dead. Twenty dead. The only way all four lived was if it lived too and it had to die. I got you all the information you needed, the equipment. I could only hope that getting you there would somehow save his life."

"Sounds really hard." Sam swallowed down a lump. He put it all together through her rambling. It had to have been hard. To dream you had moved on from your husband's death before you even knew he was going to die.

"Understatement. I didn't ask to make these decisions but it's my responsibility to save as many lives as I can… right? Max would have understood that, I think."

"Max?" Sam repeated and then he remembered. "Right. Max was his real name."

"Did I tell you that?" Liz sniffed and absently wiped at her eyes.

"Dean found out right before, we were hunting it too… and… it doesn't matter. We forgot about it all after everything that happened." Sam tried to reassure her. "You're not really Lillian Sparks, right?"

"Liz Evans, formerly Liz Parker."

"That's a name that fits you."

"I always loved the way he said my name." She smiled a bit. Then she sobered after she realized she'd rambled on for hours. "Don't tell Dean about what I said. I probably shouldn’t have said anything but… it felt good to tell someone. Kyle would never understand."

"I think I do. I won't say anything to him."

"It's absurd. I really don't see it. I can't."

"Then don't. Forget about it. Maybe you dreamed it so you could prevent it. Cause seriously, to rebound with Dean? Preventable."

Liz laughed out loud and nearly woke Kyle because of it. "Maybe. Thanks, Sam."

The next day…
(December 9, 2008)

Dean picked up his cell phone and found it was nearly drained of charge. Cursing, he dug out the power cord and plugged it in. Tossing his things around, he let it charge for ten minutes before opening it to make a phone call. As he was hanging up with his contact, his brother stumbled into the room with breakfast. "Dude, I can appreciate your phone is fucked but you forget to charge my phone again and I'll tie you to the bumper."

"Sorry." Sam tossed his brother a bottle of juice.

He blinked at the label. That wasn't his morning Jolt. "What's this shit?"

"You were coughing yesterday."

"I was in a smoky bar." Brows furrowed, he stared at his brother. "I cough in smoky bars. Everyone does… including the guys who are smoking."

"Whatever. We have to stay healthy." Sam opened his own bottle of juice. "Soda is not breakfast. Juice is breakfast."

Damn it to hell, his brother was turning into one of those tofu-eating freaks. Today was just not going his way and it had barely started. "If there's not sausage in those boxes, I'm gonna kill someone."

"Of course there's sausage." Sam scoffed and downed half his juice in a gulp.

Dean grabbed the box to make sure. He dug into his sausage and eggs and eyed his dying phone again. "So, Lillian get a vision or something?"

"We were just talking." Sam waved him off.

"Just talking?"

"She's a nice girl. We were talking." Sam spoke slowly so his dimwitted brother would understand.

"Long enough to kill my battery."

"Would you get off it? I'll charge it next time. I was tired. I went to sleep."

"Whatever. Don't let it happen it again."

A month later…
(January 8, 2009)

Sam breathed out slowly. He had a lot to say and he had to say it to someone who wouldn't make jokes. If he was going to have to sit in the cold and wait for Dean, he was going to use Dean's phone. "We didn't know different… well, I didn't. Dean's older, you know? He was four and a half when she died. He has vague memories of a normal life."

"Was it a hard life?"

"The earliest I can remember…" He closed his eyes to capture those fuzzy images. "It was a Christmas. Little Debbie cupcakes and matchbox cars. All things you can pick up at 7-Eleven in the middle of the night, I later realized. We played and Dad fell asleep on a chair. I was curious. Dad's OJ didn't smell like ours. I took a drink and it made me sick. Nearly threw up all over Dean."

"Mimosa?" Liz asked, hoping to lighten his mood a bit.

"I wish. Oso Negro. He drank pretty heavily when there was no active hunting going on." Sam sighed heavily. "You might think I'm pretty selfish but I never realized how much pain he was in to drink that much."

"What did you think about when you were around him?"

"I thought it made him mean when I was little. You know, because he wouldn't talk and he wouldn't play with me. He just pointed to Dean and suggested we work on our martial arts or our shooting or some shit. It's pretty safe to say that Dean raised me as much as Dad did, which is sad because if he was half-raising me… who was raising Dean. When I got older… I just thought it was pathetic. I just wanted him to get over it. I didn't remember Mom. I didn't remember the night she died. I just wanted us to settle down somewhere and live normal lives. I wanted high school dances and college applications… not shotguns and ritual exorcisms." A long pause lay on the line. "When Jess died, I was in my own head. While I could understand, I was resistant to cut him any slack on how he raised us. Warriors instead of princes, you know?

"By the time I could really understand… I lost him and I was still consumed by the need to hunt the thing down but Dean was my focus… Because he's… he hasn't… He's not himself. Not in a long time. He puts on a good show of his old self but I'm his brother. I know him better than I know myself. He can't fool me. He's been doing really badly since… well, you know when."

"I can relate to that."

"He keeps beating himself up over it. It's not his fault and it's not the first time we lost one. It's just the first time we lost someone that he knew so well. Dean and Nathan got to know each other pretty well, I guess." He drew out a breath. "We accepted long ago that people die in the course of tracking demons but… we really thought we could get in and out without a problem."

"I'd never lost someone since I started getting my visions, Sam. I understand the guilt that comes with not being able to change the course of events… and to have someone die because of it." Liz shut her eyes and had to get off the subject. "Did you love her? Jess?"

"I was going to ask her to marry me. I had a ring picked out. I was just waiting for the right moment because I knew I was going to have to tell her the truth about how I grew up and what really lay in the dark." He took a deep breath to clear his mind. "It was a running fight we had. How secretive I was about my childhood. Why there were things I didn't know about that everyone else seemed to. She only pressed because she loved me. I know that. I wanted to marry her but I wanted her innocence to stay."

"You never got the chance to ask her?" That thought made her heart sink. What if she had never had those years with Max? She almost hadn't. She had at least had him for a while. At least she'd had six anniversaries as his wife. Six years, two months and three weeks with the man she loved.

"My life got in the way. Dean stopped in to tell me that Dad had gone missing. That it was very unusual. We thought he was in trouble. I left her and Dean promised to get me home in time for my law school interview. He kept his word but he wanted me to keep hunting with him… like old times. And I considered it for a moment. I had missed it but… I loved her. We got into town late. I said my goodbyes to Dean on the street. I tried not to wake her up. She had baked my favorite cookies and left them out for me. She was always doing things like that for me." He let himself smile for all the cookies and cakes and meals left in the microwave when he'd been up working or studying. "I got to the bedroom but it was empty. I figured she'd be back any moment. She was just giving me some of my own medicine. I lay down to sleep, thinking… someday, she'll be my wife. Then I felt the blood. It landed on my forehead. Two drops before I realized it was weird, that I wasn't imagining the warmth or the stickiness. I opened my eyes and I saw her on the ceiling… bleeding. She couldn't talk and then she was on fire. The whole room just… caught in a blink. If it wasn't for Dean, I might have died trying to save her. I think a piece of me did… and now… getting these visions of others like me… developing powers that scare me…"

"It's almost too much to take."

"Right." He took a moment to find his breath. "When he drinks the way he does, he reminds me of Dad and Dad was not always there for us. I'm afraid that I'm going to be out there, hunting, with half of Dean. The smell of booze coming off of him, mixed with that cologne he wears… I get so nervous that I want to stop and vomit."

"Have you talked to him about the drinking?"

"Talked about it, hinted about, fought about it. Until he does screw up, I really don't have any ammunition to throw at him but I'm afraid that come the day he does screw up, somebody will die."

"Maybe he'll come around on his own."

"Maybe." Sam sighed heavily when he got a look at his brother approaching. He knew the first thing out of Dean's mouth was that he needed a drink. "I'll talk to you later."

"Okay. Take care of yourself and try not to worry too much about Dean."

Dean looked over his little brother and the phone. "You kill the battery?"

"Not yet."

"Good. I need a drink. Come on. I'll tell you what I was told and then we can hit the hay. It's gonna be a long day tomorrow."

TBC

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Part 22 plus 2 ANs

Post by DMartinez » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:16 pm

AN: I'd like to thank those who are reading and those who reviewed. I appreciate it. Also, gonna say I am still a bit dazed from my viewing of A Few Good Men last week. I'm still... dazed, yeah. But in a few days, I should be able to write something without drooling on my keyboard. Jensen, Lou, Ben, Lydia all rocked that stage!
AN2: The lapse in posts was due to my trial of Word running out before I could get the real thing, which I picked up on Friday and installed over the weekened. I am now able to edit, copy and all that good stuff. '-)


Part 22 – A few months later…
(March 3, 2009)

Liz offered the Winchester men half a smile when they walked in. She was busy balancing Marty's books. She was halfway done. It was twice as fast as it normally took Marty and she had a feeling it meant he was going to ask her to do it more often and not necessarily in exchange for a pay upgrade. She had to look up when Kyle leaned on the bar in front of her, bouncing. "What's up?"

"Betty Lou and me is what's up."

"Betty Lou? From the Quick 'N Save?" Liz blinked at him.

"She's been checking out my ass when I unload stuff from the bottom of my cart. She brought her car in to be fixed. I asked her out." Kyle grinned. "So, uh… I gotta take her somewhere and I can't think. I need a picnic."

"Stan!" Liz whined and collapsed over the ledgers. "I'm tired. I don't want to cook for your conquests."

"Come on. Something simple but shows I'm thoughtful."

"Thoughtful enough to get your oldest friend in the world to make it for you."

Kyle plied her with his big blue eyes. "Come on. Picnic fare. Potato salad. Some sort of sandwich. Fried chicken is greasy and I plan on… doing some touching. That awesome desert thing you made that time."

"Stan." Liz straightened. "I'm working. Go away."

"Please. Tomorrow. Please." He begged.

"Fine. Tomorrow. I'll think of something."

"Thank you. Thank you." Kyle reached behind the bar for a beer and disappeared to the other side of the bar where some of his garage buddies were having a late lunch.

Liz finished the previous night's tallies and closed the book. She set it under the bar, then grabbed two bottles. She placed each in front of a Winchester and watched as they pored over a wide mélange of clippings and printouts. "Are we on the hunt?"

"Hey." Sam picked up his head at her voice, and then he stood to give her a hug. "Good to see you."

"This isn't just a pit stop is it?" She asked as her eyes flicked over the papers.

"Not really." Sam shook his head. Dean kept his eyes on the paper in his hand, a pen pressed to his mouth. "So, go light on the beer tonight and heavy on the carbs. We need our energy."

"What did I tell you about eating all that crap?" Liz smacked him. "Have you been following any of my advice?"

"Some." Sam fought a smile but nodded that he had been. "I've been drinking OJ instead of Orange Crush."

"Good."

"Hold up." Dean sat up, both hands in the air, letting his pen drop to the table, and looked at the two of them. Hands on his thighs, he took a breath. "Are you the reason I can't have my Jolt in the morning?"

"What?" Liz blinked at him.

"Sammy… I swear. You're the first thing I kill after this thing." Dean tossed his pen down. "I'm going for cup of coffee and a Jolt. I'm not eating an orange or an apple or fucking broccoli." He grabbed his jacket. "Then I'm coming back here for a beer. Problem with that, Madam Sparks?"

Liz just shook her head and watched him go. "What was that all about?"

"I can't break my habits by myself." Sam sighed heavily. "He's a bad influence. He hasn't been off his frozen burritos very long. Swapping out his Jolt for juice was just too much of a change for him."

"I can't believe you made him do it with you." Liz giggled. "And I can't believe he let it go on this long."

"I showed him a microwave lasagna and since then… he's been listening with at least one ear. So… I do need my energy. Get us something on the menu that won't kill us young."

"I'll do my best." She promised.

--

Marty sat with the boys to look over their notes and to give his opinion when he noticed that his best waitress was just standing next to an empty table with an empty beer bottle in each hand. "Lillian?"

Sam and Dean looked up. Dean cursed under his breath; he'd seen that look on her face before. "Oh shit." He was out of his seat and catching her before she could hit the ground. Her body shook and her eyes rolled back in her head. "Lillian… Lillian!"

Sam helped his brother lay her out and wave off curious patrons. "Lillian? Can you hear me?"

Suddenly, she gasped for air and sat bolt upright. Flashes of something were unclear while the lights were so bright in the bar. Liz scrambled away from her vision. Then it had her. She screamed.

"Lillian!" Sam shouted in her face. "It's me. It's Sam."

The whole bar was fixed on the hysterical waitress. Liz stopping screaming and when her tear-filled eyes cleared, she saw three concerned faces hovering over her.

"Nothing to see here." Dean waved them off. He reached down and hauled her into his arms. He carried her into the back of the bar where Marty kept his office. Dean set her down in the office chair then poured a circle of salt around her. "Okay. You're safe. Okay?"

Marty took a pad from his desk and set it front of her. "What did you see?"

"I don’t know." Liz sniffed. Sam gave her a look of encouragement. "It was big. Over six foot… maybe seven foot tall. Broad. Like two men across. Um… Brown-green with… claws…"

"How many claws?" Dean flicked his gaze to Sam.

"Five… fingers but… only… three claws." She held up her hand and folded down her thumb and forefinger. "The forefinger leaves a drag—"

"A drag mark." Sam cursed to himself. Dean was already there.

"You're gonna stay in that chair until we come get you." Dean pointed and strode out the door.

"You think it's coming here?" Sam raced after him.

"She fits the profile. It's coming here." Dean popped the trunk and unlocked the gun locker. "Brown hair. Brown eyes. Midget psychic. It's coming for her."

"We don't know that."

"You're the one that dragged me back here, Sam. I was good on the road.” He found his shells full of consecrated iron pellets. “You said she was a likely candidate since we were in the area and then she goes and has a vision that looked to me like she was being attacked."

Marty raced out the door to the younger men. "She drew this."

It was crude but it was definitely in the area… directly behind the bar. Dean looked to his brother and made a snap decision. "You stay with her. I'll wait out back."

"Dean, no. What if it thinks you're in the way?"

"I plan to be in the way. Go in there. You're the second line. Don't tell her it's coming for her. She'll bolt." Dean looked to Marty. "Keep the commotion low. Get Pete and Bobby to stand look out. Tell them not to get in its way unless I'm looking like I'm dead."

Sam stared at his brother. "You're doing it again."

"Yeah. And?" Dean slammed the trunk shut then pumped his shotgun. "It's not getting passed me."

--

Liz sat in the desk chair, sipping at her water, when Sam walked in with a shotgun. "Hey, you okay?"

"Yeah, it was just a scary vision. I couldn't see a victim. Usually, I can. It just… came right at me." She fixed her eyes on her glass. "I'm just… it's the first vision I've had since…"

"Nathan." Sam nodded, his eyes flicked to the high dusty window.

"I had kind of hoped my vision-having days were over." She waved off his look of concern.

"I'm sorry that they aren't."

"Is it going to come here?" She asked with both hands on her glass of water.

He stared at her for a long moment. "No. Dean and Bobby are coming up with a surefire way to kill it. I just… wanted to make sure you weren't alone. When they figure it out, they'll come and get me."

"It's a demon, isn’t it."

"Yeah." Sam nodded.

"How can you tell?"

"Everything has its traits. Spirits don't usually travel unless they're haunting an object or a person in particular. Rarely do they fixate on a pattern, although if there's a conduit of some kind… Demons kill whatever, whenever, wherever but they always have a choice. Some unsolved serial murders can actually be attributed to demon rampages."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. My dad had a theory that Jack the Ripper was a demon. He always wanted to go look at the places it killed. But there was way too much killing and evil right here in the good old US."

"I always wanted to travel. See the seven wonders. I was afraid that I wouldn't live long enough to see them. I was… waiting on him. You know? Until it was safe for him but we realized that the perfect place to nab us was at customs. So we put it behind us. A pipe dream." Liz wiped at her eyes. "Sorry. Having a vision just…"

"I understand. We'll kill it and that'll be that." Just as he spoke, a gunshot and then six rang out.

"What's that?" Liz leaped out of her chair, swirling around to face the wall with the dingy window but it was too high for her to look out. Sam climbed onto the desk and peered outside. "What is it?"

"Do you guys mind? We were having a meaningful conversation in here." Sam called out once he got the window cracked open.

"Don't mind us! We were just killing a demon without you, Sammy!" Dean's voice called back.

"Is it really dead or are you being flip?"

"Flip? What are you? A girl? Get out here and help us get rid of this thing."

Liz watched Sam hop down off the desk. "What? It's over?"

"Yeah. Guess I missed out on the action." He slung the shotgun over his shoulder. "Do you want me to stay or are you okay?"

"I'm fine… I think." Liz nodded and watched him go. Not sure what had happened or why. When Marty returned from outside, he told her to go on home. She almost insisted on working the remainder of her shift but she couldn't help but feel she needed the rest. Her first vision since Max had died and she wasn’t even sure what had really happened.

Making her way passed Bobby and onto the property, Liz steered around her cottage. The day had held way too much excitement. She wasn't looking forward to going home to her cold bed, though. She kicked around the junk piles while Pete and Bobby closed up for the day, their bodies moving in the weary ways of those who had been much more active than on any normal day. So absorbed into her own little world, Liz would have been just another brooder if not for the trail of bottle caps from his perch to whatever he had designated as a bull's-eye.

"Evenin', Ma'am Sparks. How fair you?" Dean slurred out.

"Fine… now, I guess." She barely glanced at him; she wasn't in the mood to deal with him and his ever-changing moods. He'd been rude on arrival, gentle when she'd had her vision, and then dismissive once he knew about what was in her vision. "Did you get hit in the head?"

"Bald-faced lie." He burped and tossed another bottle cap amongst the others.

Liz just stared at him. She'd seen him drunk before but she had never seen him as hammered as he appeared to be. She hadn't served him nearly enough to do this to him before they had shot out the door on their hunt. "You didn't get this drunk off of beer."

"No, I didn't… I was drinking some Jose when Jim told me that Bud would make me sick if I drank him last."

"I think you have it backwards."

"Well… I was in the mood to projectile vomit anyway." He grinned stupidly. The sunset lit up the tear tracks like liquid gold.

"Are you okay?"

The grin faded. "Do I look ok?"

"Was the demon a hard kill?"

"The demon… was small potatoes. Lower level pantywaist." He waved her off. "Don't I look like I had a good time? I don't look okay?"

"Not… sitting in that… thing you aren't." She whispered as she realized that he was sitting inside the Impala. Sitting in the backseat where she had felt Death's fingerprints. "Can't you drink someplace else?"

"Nope. Sammy's got the hotel room on booze ban and I am not allowed in Marty's tonight." Dean finished off the bottle and reached for Jim and Jose beside him. "Care to join me?"

"Not really. Night, Dean." She turned to go on her way.

But Dean couldn't let up. He held out a bottle to her. "Come on. Imbibe a little. I won't tell. You won't lose your squeaky clean reputation."

"Why are you sitting in there, Dean?" Liz tried to keep the tremble out of her voice. Her last experience with the car still haunted her.

"It's my car. I'll sit in it if I want."

"Please, don't." She begged.

"Why shouldn't I sit here?"

"Just don't sit there, in that seat."

"Why?" He took another drink.

"Dean… that's where…" She was at a loss at what to tell him anymore.

"I know what happened… I was there."

"But that's where he died!" She blurted out, tears creeping into her voice. The words hit Dean like a ton of bricks. The bottle fell out of his hand and spilled on the dirt. He stared at her and her glistening eyes, her shaking hands and the white of her face. "I didn't mean to say it like that."

"What did you say?"

"I didn't mean to say that." The words tumbled off her lips, her arms wrapping around her midsection.

"Say it again." His hands dropped onto his thighs.

"That's where he died…in the back… in that seat." She spoke slowly. His eyes closed and a tear slid down his dusty face. Roughly, he wiped it away, green eyes dark and stormy… almost black in the shadows. "I'm sorry."

"You felt that?" He turned his eyes on her.

"Felt what?"

"The person who sat here died? That night of the crash?"

"Yes." She nodded, taking an unconscious step backward.

"How do you know that?" His chin trembled as he asked the question.

"Aside from all the bloodstains? I could feel Death… you know… with a capital D." She didn't know how else to explain it to him. She just knew. Somewhere deep inside her had recognized the darkness that came with death on that seat.

"How?"

"Maybe because the blood is still there." She whispered with a slight shrug. She hardly knew herself but she could theorize the hell out of it if it didn't scare her half to death. "I can feel what happened to the man it belongs to."

"You felt his death?"

"Yes." She nodded and wiped at her eyes. The day had been entirely too eventful and too emotional. "So, please… drink yourself to a stupor if you have to but just don't do it there."

--

Sam glanced up from his clippings when Dean stumbled in the door looking like he'd seen a ghost. "Done drinking?"

"For tonight, yeah." Dean nodded and sank onto his bed. He just wanted to sleep and forget the scene at Bobby's.

"Are you okay?" Sam frowned at his brother. His face was dirty and his eyes were red; neither was unusual but neither usually came with Dean walking into the hotel room of his own accord.

"I'm fine. Just find us another hunt."

TBC

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Post by DMartinez » Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:20 am

Part 23 – A few weeks later…

(March 28, 2009)

Liz listened to her mom talk as she watched the clouds drift lazily through the sky. In the reflection of the window, she could see the portrait Max had drawn on the far wall. "I don't know, Mom."

"Are you doing anything for yourself? Besides working?"

"I was thinking about taking an art class." It had always been an idle thought but she needed a hobby. Something to keep her busy when she wasn't working. To keep her mind off of how lonely she was.

"Art?"

"I don't draw so well and it calms me down."

"I suppose I could see how it would be calming. I saw you more as a poet, like your father."

"Since Max changed me, I've been more of an impressionist. Feelings and sensations. Words just don't do it justice." She rambled on to fill space. "Maybe learn about abstracts… like Picasso."

"They've stopped, haven't they? The… visions."

Liz paled and covered her mouth even though her mother couldn't see her. "Who told you about those?"

"You did… in your journal. I memorized every word before we destroyed it. Since he… passed… they've stopped, right?"

"Um… yeah. They have." Liz lied and felt awful but she could hear the stress in her mother's voice. "I just… need to be here, Mom."

"I wish you would come home. Maria and Michael are doing fine."

"And Isabel?"

"She's leaving for Boston with her husband. That's what Diane said. Isabel's pregnant. The baby is due this July."

"If they're lucky." Liz muttered.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. I'm happy for her. I'll have to get her address so I can send the baby something."

"I'll get it to you when we talk again. Diane and I have been going to lunch on Saturdays. She's upset that you haven't come back. We all are."

"I know. I'll talk to you next week, Mom." Liz said her goodbyes and hung up the phone.

--

Dean popped a few M&Ms into his mouth as he watched the planes arriving and departing from the hood of his car. He'd been having a staring contest with a lizard of some kind but the damned thing had found lunch and scurried away. Sam was in the store getting an apparently longwinded story and Dean was trying not to look at the sign a few feet from the car. Roswell 50 miles. He flicked a candied chocolate at the sign but it just bounced off.

Sam joined him on the hood and snatched away the bag of chocolate. "Man… they do not like authority figures out here."

"Shit." Dean cursed. He had wanted to avoid all things that reminded him of Nathan and Lillian. Going to their hometown was at the top of that list.

"Anyway. We do have to go into Roswell for the full story."

"You drive. I'm tired." Dean climbed off the hood and climbed into the passenger seat.

"Spontaneous combustion doesn't pique your interest?" Sam followed suit.

"I'm just tired, dude. Let's get the show on the road."

--

Liz watched as Kyle made a fool out of himself for Betty Lou. She couldn't help but be conflicted about it. She was happy that Kyle had found someone but she was jealous. She didn't want Kyle. She wanted Max. She wanted someone to do cheesy things for her. To make her feel special. She left the bowling alley early and crawled into bed. She fingered the daggers she kept in the nightstand. She kept morbidly hoping that she'd get a vision off of one of them. Just something of Max to refresh her memory. Sam or Dean must have cleaned them thoroughly because she didn't get a thing off of them, no matter how hard she tried.

--

Sam walked into the police station and walked right back out immediately. "Okay. I think that was bad."

"What happened?" Dean blinked at his brother. Usually Sam could get more cooperation out of mark easier than Dean could by plying that good boy charm. He was a boy scout and people could sense it right off the bat.

"I introduced myself and the deputy behind the desk said 'no, you're not.' I tried to explain I was an outside investigator on this rash of disappearances and he said 'no, you're not.'" Sam rubbed at his face and finger-combed back his mop of hair.

"Fuck it. Follow me." Dean rifled through his box of IDs for a matching one. He strode through the doors and knocked on the desk. He flashed his badge quickly. "Pardon my partner. He's a rookie."

"Like I told your partner. You're not on this case. We haven't asked for FBI or CIA or whatever agency you're about to tell me you're from." The deputy shook his head.

Dean frowned at the blue-eyed man. "Have we met?"

"Doubt it. Move along before I have you removed."

"Deputy…" He flicked his eyes at the badge. "Valenti. Look. We're not here to tread on your territory. We just wanted to know what you could tell us. A mention of it reached our ears. My partner is eager to get his feet wet and I'm humoring him. We'd just ask a few questions, file a report on our findings or lack thereof and he gets a recommendation… legacy." Dean rolled his eyes for effect.

"Agent Kirke…" Dean tried not to show his surprise that the officer had caught his name off his fake badge, especially when the guy seemed to be getting more and more aggravated by the second. "This town's police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation do not have the best of relations. If you'd done your homework before you came down, you'd know that. I'm not inclined to humor your rookie partner."

"Can I ask your opinion on the disappearances?"

"They were all out-of-towners, Agent Kirke. Maybe they went home."

"Just up and left."

"It happens here sometimes. Roswell is not ideal for most people when they want to settle into a small town. We're always getting kids from Carlsbad who want to live away from mom and dad and then decide Roswell is just too unexciting, even if our renting rates are very low. College kids realize that they aren't cut out for it and don't like the blue collar work, they up and leave with hardly a word."

"Courtney Banks? She was one of these? My records show she was underage." Dean had gotten the guy to open his mouth. Hopefully, he could keep it open.

"Courtney Banks was years ago, Agent Kirke. Her employer was the only one to miss her. From all accounts, she was a troubled teen. She had run away from home. I'm guessing she ran again."

"Alfredo Benavides."

"Off the top of my head… he was an illegal. A day worker."

"Priscilla Thomson."

"That one, I don't know. Agent Kirke, really. This is a quiet town and I like to keep it that way. Don't go bothering folks about this stuff."

"Just one more… also from years ago. Hank Whitmore."

Deputy Valenti sighed but didn't look too troubled about recognizing the name. "The factory called him in. His son was too scared to go home and find out he was missing. Wherever Whitmore's gone. No one misses him."

"His son?" Dean reached into his pocket for his notebook.

"Don't. The boy has been through enough. I won't tell you how to find him. Good luck, Agent Kirke."

"Well, thank you for your cooperation." Dean turned and left the building. He shook his head when he met up with Sam. "Your hunch might be right. This town stinks of cover up. He got riled up when I mentioned the Whitmore guy and he got all…" he waved his hand around, "about the Banks girl."

"Okay… so you think he knows that they were spontaneously combusted or do you think it's something else?" Sam glanced around. There were alien depictions absolutely everywhere.

"It's too weird not to follow up on." He tapped his notebook on his brother's shoulder. "Whitmore had a son."

"Oh yeah?"

"The deputy knows him probably. Said that the kid was too scared to go home and find out his dad was missing."

"Probably beat the crap out of the kid. So?"

"It means there might be a witness. Either Whitmore beat his kid, his kid did it or his kid saw it happen. Witness."

--

It was late afternoon when Liz woke with a headache. She lay on the floor in the kitchenette. Taking some aspirin, she gulped down a glass of water. She opened a notebook and waited for the vision to enter her consciousness so she could draw it out and tell someone. She wondered how many times that had happened and she hadn't realized. It had a familiar sort of feeling about it.

--

Sam followed the row of glass cases to the office. He paused twice on the way. A picture from 1999 touted a Kyle Valenti as MVP. He hardly bore a resemblance to the guy who joked constantly and quoted Buddha at every turn. The other picture to give him pause was of the science club from 2000. Lillian was situated in the front with a bright smile. Liz, he reminded himself. He pushed open the office doors. "Excuse me, miss."

She turned and smiled brightly. "Hello. What can I get for you?"

"Some outdated information, I'm afraid. The district guy told me you keep your student records for ten years."

"In the computer we do. Hard copy is in storage and they're doing some construction." She offered him an apologetic grin and a glance down her shirt when she leaned forward.

"2000. Courtney Banks." He showed his badge quickly and waited while she turned to a computer behind her and began typing. The printer spat out three pages.

"She was a transfer student and she only attended for a semester. Sorry. That's all we have. She was a really bad student. No clubs. Sorry."

"Thank you. This will have to do. Um… could I trouble you for just… two more records."

"Um…" She started to say no but a quick glance at the doors behind her and another smile at the handsome agent, and then she turned to the back computer. She glanced over her shoulder at him. "Ready when you are."

"Elizabeth Parker. Max Evans. Class of… '02, I think."

She nearly fell out of her chair at the names but she quickly typed in the search information and printed out the files. There were several more pages of each of those files. "They aren’t in any trouble, are they?"

"It's just routine investigations. In search of truth and all that."

"Well…" She bit her lip and glanced around. "I shouldn't be telling you this but those kids kicked up quite a stir while they were here. I was a few years ahead of them in school but I heard about it all."

--

Dean cursed when he saw the place. "Seriously. Dude." A UFO stuck out of the front of the building. Scoffing, he trekked into the thankfully air-conditioned restaurant. He took a seat at the counter and tried not to look around too much. He was going to retire to his car if he had to look at another alien. Then his waitress appeared in a sea-foam green snap-on uniform and antennae on her head. "Don't. Just don’t. I want a coke and I want to talk to your manager or the owner or whatever."

"Mr. Parker!" The girl yelled and turned to retrieve the ordered soda.

Dean had a soda in front of him and a harried looking man rounded the counter in less than a minute. "Michelle?"

"Dude wants to see you." She snapped her gum.

"Michelle, dude." He mocked her. "What did I tell you about calling me 'dude' or yelling across the restaurant… or chewing gum on duty."

"Mr. Parker, you are so harsh." The girl walked away, spitting out her gum into a trash can on her way to the back of the restaurant. "I didn't even call you dude."

"She was talking about me, Mr. Parker." Dean held out his hand. "I just had a few questions to ask you."

"Questions?" The man gave a stiff handshake but became visibly uneasy.

"I'm Agent Kirke with—"

"Yeah, I know. Word gets around." He crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not up for questions, today."

"I have one question right now. You can answer it or not. Then you can choose whether I get to ask another question." Dean sipped his coke and set his hands on the countertop. "Did a Courtney Banks work for you? This would have been a few years back. 2000."

"Briefly." He relaxed a bit, his peppered hair falling in his face. "She was a good worker when she showed up that summer. She stopped showing up all of a sudden before Thanksgiving of that year. We never heard a word about her. Is someone looking for her? I mean… after all this time?"

"There are just a few unsolved cases that we've been asked to look into, Mr. Parker. I'm not wild about it. I don't think we're going to solve them and I don't want to nose into anyone's business unnecessarily. I just want to do my job and go home." Dean hoped the disgruntled employee bit would work because he had a feeling his usual charms were not going to cut it in this town where the town deputy called restaurant owners to warn them of federal agents in town. "Let's just make this quick shall we? I have a list of disappeared members of Roswell." He pulled out his notepad. "Courtney Banks. Alfredo Benavides. Max Evans. Heather Esquivel. Michael Guerin. Edward Harding. Rachel Langdon. Larry Moon. Elizabeth Parker. Sarah Rodney. Priscilla Thomson. Hank Whitmore. Any of those names familiar?"

When Dean looked up, Mr. Parker was just staring at him. He seemed to shake himself and then cleared his throat. "Michael Guerin is not missing. He's working at the 7-11."

"Case solved." Dean scratched the name off the list. "Anyone else?"

"Hank Whitmore ran off in early 2000. No one's seen him. No one wants to."

Whitmore was not a liked guy, Dean thought to himself. "So, I've heard."

"Ed Harding worked for the government." The casual shrug looked too practiced but Dean didn't call attention to it. "Don't know who reported him missing. You'd think they'd look after their own."

"They don't know where I am." Dean commented in a low breath.

"Um… Elizabeth Parker isn't missing. She's away at school."

"Parker… any relation?" Dean frowned. Elizabeth Parker? There was a name that rang some bells.

"My daughter. Her mother and I have never reported her missing. I don't understand why she would be on your list of disappeared individuals."

"Weird. I'll pull that one." Dean scratched her name off. "You'd think there would be someone on top of these cases… well, I guess that's me now."

"Max Evans isn't missing." The man picked up a rag and wiped down the counter. He seemed to struggle when the words reached his lips. His tone wavered just a bit. "He um… passed away earlier this year. He'll be down the road at Roswell Memorial Cemetery." Dean scratched the name off his list and frowned at it. Elizabeth Parker? "Any other questions?"

"Um… no. I guess I've got everything I can get from you. Thank you, Mr. Parker. And for the information on those who weren't directly related to you as well."

"Jeff. I'm worried about her." A female voice intruded, suddenly. "She didn't sound like herself on the phone. She insists she won't come home but maybe we should go and get her."

"Nancy, not now." His eyes flicked back and forth from his wife to the federal agent finishing off his coke.

"Jeff. Liz is… just…"

"Not now." Jeff hushed his wife.

"Her husband is dead and she won't come home. She insists that she needs to stay in Valor Springs."

"South Dakota?" Dean blurted out and quickly realized he should have kept his mouth shut when both of them stilled.

"Yes, how did you know?" The woman turned a pair of worried blue eyes on him.

"I passed through there once or twice. Nice place." Dean tried to excuse himself but Mr. Parker was eyeing him something fierce. He laid down a large bill for his buck-forty drink. "Quiet. I wasn't aware there was a school in the area but these days everyone's doing things on the internet… I should be going. Thank you again, Mr. Parker for your cooperation. I trust I'll be able to close all these without bothering you again."

--

Sam sat at a fountain and went over the files in his hands. They said a lot about the people Max and Liz were but not a whole lot about the Sparks. He had kind of expected Lillian and Nathan to be the popular kids in school. Class sweethearts at the very least. Turns out they were both on the quiet and smart side. That secretary had told him all about the robbery as she'd heard it. Both were acquitted… but the FBI still had them up on the most wanted list. Dolores seemed to think that Max and Liz had run off and eloped because her father didn't approve of them dating. He had apparently rigged the school so that they couldn't see each other. Liz had been shipped to a girl's academy briefly but rumor had it she'd been kicked out for breaking the rules and shipped back. She didn't have anything new or surprising to add to his stockpile of information.

--

Dean gave up on the investigation. Sam hadn't gotten enough for a real hunt anyway. It seemed people were always up and leaving Roswell without goodbyes; that included his friends back in Valor Springs. He strolled his way to the Roswell Cemetery and found the headstone he was looking for in the Evans family plot. All sorts of Evans had been buried there as it turned out. This was the latest. Someone had been taking care of the plants because the flowers were only slightly wilted and the grass growing nicely over it. "I know Nathan isn't your real name but it's the one I know you by. I'm sorry, man. I tried to weaken it for you. I tried to bring him down but… he was just too strong. You got him though. I don't know if you knew that but you got him."

A breeze picked up and Dean made himself comfortable on the headstone just across the way. "Lillian is holding up all right. She misses you, man. She blames me and I think she should. I said I'd bring you back and I didn't bring you back to her the way she wanted. She… she's still getting visions but she's safe. We keep her safe when we can. Marty and Bobby and Stan all look out for her. You must have been one hell of a guy, though. Aside from our camaraderie that is. Maybe I should have listened to my instincts and been the one to go down fighting that thing. I knew you weren't ready to face anything on your own. Not even with backup right behind you. You have to hone your skills before you put them into action. Discipline. You have to know yourself and your quarry for a successful hunt."

Dean stared at the stone and fought the urge to go find something to drink. "Look. Our hunt was not a success as I see it. Usually… so long as the demon goes down, it's a win in my book but… it feels more like the one that got away, even if you did manage to kill the fucker. You're from a fucked up town, you know. The deputy was all over my case for asking questions. Maybe he was covering for you. I don't know. Yours and your wife's names were on that list. Gary's too. Maybe that's all it was. There's no demon in Roswell. No spooky spirits. Maybe you didn't believe Lillian that day when you didn't know I could hear but… at least you're not one of them.

"I gave Lillian your stuff. She's a good woman. You were lucky to have her. I hope you deserved her. She drives me up the wall so you must have had a kind of patience that doesn't exist. She makes Sammy run up our phone bill. Normally it wouldn't bother me but exceeding my monthly minutes tips the credit card company off to unusual patterns. She got Sammy feeding us all kinds of green shit and drinking fruit juice like we were five-year-olds instead of grown men. Anyway… all it says to me is that she misses you but I think she understands… She's got Bobby and Marty and all their contacts at her disposal if she'd ask and she hasn't once asked… I would've. I've thought about it. Having Dad back seems like it would be easier but… dead things should stay dead… It's just the way it should be."

Dean wiped at his face and discovered that he'd been crying a bit. "Look, man… I'm sorry. I really am. I want to change what happened that day. I'm not even supposed to be here… maybe you are. Maybe I fuck up everything I touch." He stood up and poured a handful of rock salt onto the gravestone from his pocket. "Rest in peace, Nathan."

"Dean Winchester?"

Dean spun around to the speaker, wondering if he'd be able to overpower and escape but he froze at the sight of a familiar blonde standing with a group of people he'd never seen before. "Amanda?"

"Isabel." She corrected with a slight smile. "We were just… coming to refresh his flowers." She hugged him a bit awkwardly, having never done so before. "What are you doing here?"

"We were passing through. Thought I'd pay my respects." Dean stepped back and shoved his hands into his pockets.

"Jesse Ramirez, this is Dean Winchester. Dean, my husband Jesse. My parents… Philip and Diane Evans. Dean."

"Nice to meet you." The tall lawyer held his hand out. "Michael tells us you put up a hell of a fight for my brother-in-law."

"Not hard enough." Dean nodded to them and started to move passed them. "I'll see you around, Amanda."

"Dean?" Isabel started to follow him. "Where's Sam?" He only shrugged but paused at his name. "How long are you staying?"

"I plan to be out of here by nightfall. It was a mistake to come here." His voice caught and he had to clear it and wipe at his nose, like that would cover it up. He rolled his eyes at himself. All he'd wanted was some closure like Sam had been telling him but he didn't see it coming this way. He'd gotten some things off his chest but there wasn't anyone to forgive him, so he figured it didn't really count.

"Wait… have you been to Valor Springs lately?" Isabel rushed to catch up with him. Dean gave her a once over. She definitely didn't dress the same as she had in Valor Springs. She looked like she belonged in a catalogue somewhere. "Have you seen Liz?"

"Liz?"

"Lillian." She prompted. "Is she really okay?"

"She was last time I saw her. She bitched me out. Seems like status quo for her to me." He shrugged a little. He felt bad for running away when all 'Isabel' wanted was to know if her sister-in-law was holding up okay. It was easier to reassure Nathan's ashes than to face a living member of the guy's family.

"You really rub her the wrong way." She finally laughed and smiled a smile he knew he had never seen in Valor Springs. The girl back in that hick town was a show, just like he'd always known; this was the real… Isabel Ramirez. "It was good to see you. Tell Sam I said 'hi' and if you guys do stay longer… we're at the Tumbleweed and my parents are listed."

"Alright." He nodded. "If I see her, I'll…"

"Send her our regards and concerns." The smile faded into a grimace. "She's not talking to us much… even when she does."

"I'll mention something to Sam. He'll get her to come around. Least I hope it's a two way street with those two. She makes him do all kinds of torturous things to me." Dean shook his head and felt a little more normal than he had when he'd been discovered crying at Nathan's grave. Maybe he was putting too heavy a weight on verbal forgiveness.

"Well, Liz is nothing if not influential. The girl has enough conscience for the world." Isabel offered a last wave and rejoined her family at her brother's grave.

--

Liz studied her crude drawings. She picked up the phone and dialed Sam's first. Voice mail. He really needed to get a new phone and soon. She left a quick message for him to call her if she didn't get a hold of him first. Then she called Dean's phone.

"Hello?"

"Dean?"

"Yeah."

"It's Lillian."

"Right. Sammy's not around. I'll tell him you called though."

"Actually. I just… kind of wanted to put you guys on the trail of something. It's not anything I've ever seen before. It has an… interesting flavor. There's not a lot to it right now. I have the feeling that there will be more visions to come."

"Then why not wait until it's clear?"

"Because I don't like repeating my mistakes. Maybe if I tell you about it, you'll recognize it and you'll be prepared."

"Shoot." Dean took a seat on a park bench and took out a notebook to jot things down while she spoke.

"There's a man, three women and a thing."

"Is this a limerick? I didn't take you for that kind of girl."

"I'm being serious, Dean."

"Sorry. Keep talking."


TBC

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DMartinez
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Post by DMartinez » Fri Jun 15, 2007 11:08 pm

AN: So... this is rare. I never post on a Friday, forget Friday evening but I don't work tomorrow until late and I'm still high on personal pride at having replaced a part on my car without the aid of a mechanic... or even a man as the salesperson at the auto part store was a woman. I'll take my wins where I can get them. So, here's some story. If I'm bored enough tomorrow with my unusual day off, I may post the next part, which is an extension of this part. Enjoy!


Part 24 – A month later…

(April 28, 2009)

Liz rolled over and answered the phone. She felt like she had just fallen asleep. "Hello?"

"To whom am I speaking?" Came a female voice.

"Depends. Who are you and who are you looking for at… two in the morning?" Liz glanced at the clock and groaned. A quick glance at Kyle's bed said that he was spending yet another night with Betty Lou from the Quick N Save.

"I'm calling from Prescott Memorial in Langdon." The voice paused then cleared its throat. "Your number was the last dialed on a cell phone recovered from a victim of a car wreck. The gentleman did not have any identification, nor did his passenger, also a man. Both between 20 and 30 at a glance."

"Oh my god. I'm coming."

"Ma'am? Your name?"

"Liz. I'm coming. I'll be there in the morning." Liz jumped out of bed and got dressed. She ran the words over and over in her mind. She knew where they were. She had just talked to Sam the night before. She just had to get there. It wasn't too far. She could hitch to the bus station and catch a bus. She could be there by noon at the latest. Scribbling a note for whoever came looking for her, she tacked it to the front door and started her journey. Walking in the cool night air let her collect her thoughts a little.

The next day…

(April 29, 2009)

Liz walked into the hospital and stopped at the desk. The nurse on duty ignored her. "Excuse me." Nothing. "Pardon me." Nothing. "Nurse? Two men were brought in last night. I was called to come identify them."

"What?" The nurse finally looked at her and blinked rapidly. "Identify?"

"Two men. One is six foot four, lanky. He's got a mole on his left cheekbone. Brown eyes." Liz ran her hands through her hair. "The other is about six foot, stockier build. Green eyes. He wears a… charm around his neck." Liz tried to keep her tears from flowing but she was on the verge of losing it. "I… just came to identify the bodies. Just… tell me where to find the morgue."

"Morgue?" The nurse began flipping through a notepad next to the phone. "Are you Liz?"

"Yes."

"You're here about the Winchesters?"

"Yes." Liz gulped out.

"Ma'am. I'm sorry if someone misled you on the phone. They're fine." The nurse walked around the desk. "Both men were unconscious when they came in but they came around this morning. I'll take you to their room."

"Wait…" She took a breath to calm herself and make sure she'd heard what she thought she'd heard. "They're okay?"

"Banged up but very much alive."

Liz followed the nurse down the hallway to the room where both men were lounging and eyeing the window as if they knew exactly how to get it open and escape, if not for Sam's leg in traction and Dean's arm encased from his fingers up to his armpit in gauze. Both looked worse for wear but a sore sight for Liz's eyes after the tumultuous thoughts on her night's journey. "There they are." She breathed out, catching their attention. She stared at them through watering eyes for a long moment. "I'll kill you both for making me think you were dead."

"Whoa." Dean held up his hands. "Why are you here?"

"Why am I here? Why are you here?" Liz advanced on his bed. "I got a call in the middle of the night saying I had to come identify two men who were in some kind of car wreck. They told me to come because I was last dialed on your phone."

"The car flipped over a few times. We're fine." Sam tried to intercede.

"Way to look after your little brother, Dean." Liz whapped his good arm.

"Ow." Dean tried to duck but she had him trapped. "Who said I was driving?"

"It's your car." She whapped him again. "Of course you were driving. Were you drinking, too?"

"No!" Dean shouted back.

Liz gave up, tears slipping from her face as she sank into the chair by his bed. "They called me and I was thinking on the bus ride that I'd have to…" She sobbed suddenly. All the emotions from the long bus ride and all the relief to see two confused faces just poured out. She took the Kleenex when the nurse handed them over. Liz hit Dean's leg with the box. "Don't ever do that to me. Both of you. If someone has to come identify a body, make sure they call someone else. I don't want to be the one to take your ashes home."

"Excuse me." The nurse spoke up. "Should I bring the paperwork later on? For Mrs. Winchester to fill out?"

"Yes." Sam blurted out before Dean could protest that Liz was not either of their wives. "Thank you for bringing her in."

It took several long moments before Liz could calm down enough to speak. "After all the hours of building my courage to look at your dead bodies, it's a great relief to see that neither of you are dead." She took a breath and forced her mind to anything that would prevent more tears. "Is the Impala drivable?"

"Don't know yet." Dean shrugged but handed Liz the box of Kleenex. "Mrs. Winchester?"

"I didn't say anything. She just assumed." Liz waved him off. "Are you guys really okay?"

"We're fine. I wouldn't let Dean leave me behind." Sam offered her a smile. "He can walk out AMA if he wants to. I have my leg in a complicated system of pulleys though."

"With two good hands, I could get him out." Dean motioned to his right hand in the sling.

"What in the hell happened to you guys?" Liz sniffed loudly and reached for another tissue to clean up with.

"Yellow-eyed Demon. We got close again, thanks to yours and Sam's visions. Hopefully he doesn't know about you." Dean shrugged and scowled. That's all they needed. Liz's visions had helped a lot but if the Demon got wind of her, she was good as dead.

"Okay. I'll figure some way to get you guys out of here and then you'll both recover somewhere with a gazillion protection circles, okay?" Liz stood and ran her hands through her hair. "I'll fake some paper work and ask about the traction… transportation and wherever they towed the car."

"Do the car first." Dean advised. When she turned to glare at him, he motioned her away from the door. "The glove box. There's a box where I keep IDs. There should be a decent Winchester badge. Just make sure the name on a card in the trunk, matches one of the badges. There's a system. We know how to work it. Okay? If you get stuck, just bring me the cards and the badges. I'll do it."

"I'm sure I can figure it out." Liz grabbed the door handle. "If you can defraud the credit card companies, I can too."

--

Liz put down her own cash for the car and was grateful when it was drivable. It made a few funny sounds but she got it back to the hospital and found all the documents needed to cheat the hospital and credit card companies out of what the Winchesters owed them. She felt bad doing it but Demon hunting was a thankless and benefit-less job, and she would know from her experience alien-hunting. She faked grimaces and grateful smiles for the nurses and doctors as she negotiated for the release of her friends.

Sam was released first. His leg was fractured and his cast was dry. Dean had to have his wounds irrigated again and rebandaged before the doctor would allow him to leave, even under threat of a mad dash for the parking lot. Liz had to threaten to help the doctor keep him in order to get him just to sit down and wait for the much needed bandage change. Liz wheeled Sam out to the car and was not totally surprised at the gasp of horror. "Dean's going to punch someone."

"Rolled a few times, huh. Windows are missing. Broken, I guess." Liz eased open the backseat door. "I'm sure you can salvage a few more parts from the old Impala."

"If Bobby hasn't stripped it already." Sam slid into the seat, cleaned off broken glass.

"Bobby doesn't dare touch that thing. When he passes it on the lot he gets this expre—"

"Mother-fucker!" Dean exclaimed when he hit the parking lot.

"It's okay. It drives." Liz turned with a wince. "You should have known it would be like this."

"Look at it. I just got it running good again!" Dean wanted to punch someone but his right arm was in bandages that hurt when he moved his arm even a fraction.

"Just… close your eyes and get in. I'm driving."

"The hell you are."

"And you're going to work the gear shift with your left hand?" Liz shook her head. "I got it here. I'll get it to Bobby's so you can fix it up."

"Whatever. If you're driving. I'm sleeping." Dean sat in the passenger seat and waited until Liz had made sure that Sam was comfortable. She started the car and it let loose a whine before it settled into a chunky purr. "Son of a bitch. We'll be lucky if it makes it to Bobby's."

"I can drive. It's fine." Liz pulled onto the highway and felt Dean watching her every move.

"Watch the gauges. It even looks like it's going to overheat and you pull it over. I'm not blowing a gasket head." Dean leaned over to see the gauges. "Don't push her too fast. If she overheats, we're stranded."

Liz bit her tongue and kept driving but he was practically in her lap. "Do you mind? I like my space."

"Are the gauges even working?" he leaned even further into her personal space.

"You know what?" Liz pulled the car onto the gravel and turned to him. "You drive. I'll work the gearshift for you to get into drive and then I'm sleeping. I've been up since two in the morning and I didn't get a whole lot of sleep before that."

"Fine." Dean got out of the car and cursed at its appearance all the way around the car.

"Fine." Liz settled into the passenger seat then leaned in to help Dean get the car out of park and on the road again. Once that was done, she leaned over the seat so she could see Sam. Sam was laughing silently but he looked to be in pain. "You okay?"

"Tired… need some of this… stuff. I'll be fine." Sam shook his head and the bottle of painkillers. "Think we'll get there by morning?"

"At this speed?" Liz looked to Dean as she fished a bottle of water from her purse. "By tomorrow afternoon."

"We're not going to push her when she's like this. She'll strand us and we'll have to eat each other for food. We're not going down like that plane in the Andes." Dean over-dramatized as he pat the dashboard. "We should really give her a good looking over before we make the trip but I don't trust these out of the way towns after what happened in that orchard."

"Ah… the orchard. Burketsville." Sam nodded that he remembered. "Your face wouldn't have improved that scarecrow one bit. Had to torch the sucker."

"I still maintain that I would have gotten us out of there without you." Dean talked to his brother through the rearview.

"If I hadn't come along, you'd be pushing up apple trees." Sam shot back.

"I should have left you to the cannibals."

"Maybe the Wendigo should have had you for a snack."

"The Striga."

"Phantom truck."

"Psycho painting girl wanted to give you a close shave."

The boys fell silent for a while but Liz knew there were demons and spirits that they weren't voicing. They were bantering, not fighting. Other demons and spirits were saved for fighting, ammunition for when they were in close quarters for far too long… Sam winked at Liz. "Did you know that Dean has a way with kids?"

"What?" Liz turned slightly so she could see both of them at the same time. Dean rolled his eyes and set his jaw. The idea was bizarre and so she let out a chuckle. "Really?"

"Every time there's a little kid involved… boom. Dean takes care of it."

"Shut up, Sammy." Dean warned. His precious tough guy reputation was being tainted.

"No, seriously. When I first saw it, I thought he'd had a stroke or something." Sam adjusted himself better to tell the stories. "This kid's whole family was going to get killed by this spirit in a lake. The kid, too. Dean not only gets this kid with severe post-traumatic stress to communicate with someone for the first time since his dad died, but he saves the kid's life when the spirit tried to drown him."

"Oh my god." Liz gasped.

"Then, the kid looks at Dean like he's a hero. Laughing and talking and the whole bit. Like he was normal again." Sam didn't stop even though his brother was shooting him daggers through the mirror. "When we were hunting the Striga… It targets this little boy, whose little brother had already been attacked. Dean just…"

"Shut your cake hole, Sam." Dean bit out.

"Makes him feel better about having responsibility for his little brother. Makes him feel better about being strong for his mom. Then he convinces the kid to lie as bait."

"You did what?!" Liz smacked Dean's arm and gasped as the car swerved, Dean wincing in pain. "I am so sorry, Dean. I forgot, I'm sorry."

"He saved us all from the Striga." Sam quickly amended, peering forward to get a look at the expression on his brother's face. It was one of agony. "You okay?"

"Fine." Dean bit out.

Liz sat up and examined the bandages she had struck. "I'll do some better bandaging when we get to Bobby's."

"I'm fine." Dean repeated, his teeth clenched together.

"Sam, maybe you could give him like half a pain pill."

"I'm fine. I don't need drugs."

"Okay." Liz bit her lip, glancing at him guiltily. "Tell me about this… Striga. What was it exactly?"

"A witch." Dean shrugged, turning his face to the driver's side window area as he had no window to speak of.

"A witch?" She asked, her expression dubious.

"A crone."

"A crone?" She let out a small laugh.

She was driving him up the wall and they hadn't even cleared the county yet. The next seven hours were going to be hell… if the car would move that fast without protesting. "Do you want to know or not?"

"Yes… I'll be quiet. I promise. Tell me." Liz readjusted herself in the seat so she could watch Dean tell the story while he drove, his arm cradled against his chest as if he were afraid she'd hit him again, even though he'd abandoned the sling first thing in the car.

"This Striga is centuries old. It ritually feeds on children's life energy. They present like the flu or something. It feeds on bloodlines, usually starting with the youngest and systematically getting them all to the oldest. It leaves its markers. Sulfur handprints on window sills, unexplained and seemingly incurable sickness." Dean's jaw set. He had hated Dad for saddling him with so much responsibility but he knew that had he been appreciative and obedient, that thing would have died years before Dean would have had to put it in his crosshairs. "It wasn't the first time I'd run into one of these things… so… Dad trusted that I would be the one to kill it before it killed any more children. So we were staying at this motel, pretending to be working with the CDC… the owner's little boy gets sick and I put it together pretty quickly. Striga. Sam and I fought over this one but I knew how to kill it. It's only vulnerable when it feeds. We needed to catch it in the act and… the owner's older son was the next likely target. We could have just waited until it attacked but… I wanted to give the kid an option."

"And he said he'd do it." Liz whispered in awe. She often wondered at Max and Isabel's bond, being an only child. Sam and Dean seemed to be similarly close and to hear about some little boy risking his life to save his baby brother, she wanted to cry. "To save his little brother."

"Yeah." Dean's eyes flicked to her for a second but he set them back on the road. "Anyway. He agrees to be bait. We're waiting in the next room. Waiting. When he started screaming, we had to run in there but… the first shot missed. He did what I told him and hid under the bed. There was a scuffle and it went after Sam." He clenched his teeth together for a second before he continued. "I… was scared because the last time the Striga went after Sam, it nearly got him and I was too afraid to shoot it in case I shot him. I had to wait until it was vulnerable, though. I had to make sure it died."

"To save your little brother."

"Yeah, well… that's what big brothers do. So, I shot it in the head. It died. All the kids who hadn't died got better. End of story." He felt her eyes on him. "What?"

"Nothing. I still felt kind of bad cheating the credit card company and the hospital but… I don't feel so guilty about it now."

"Oh, spare me." He rolled his eyes at her.

"You saved a bunch of kids. Even if that's a one time deal… It's a thankless job, is what I'm getting at. The government wouldn't compensate you for doing it. You guys probably get into more trouble than is warranted because you're saving lives."

"Dean's on the FBI's most wanted." Sam snickered.

"Yeah, I am… You're not, though. You're harmless… like a puppy dog or a kitty cat." He taunted his little brother, who scowled at having someone else know what little acclaim he was getting as the Winchester's youngest member. Only in his family would NOT being on the FBI's most wanted list look like a disappointment.

"How do you know that?" Liz whispered.

"It's on their website… I'm more wanted than Nathan and Gary." Dean shrugged.

"Because you're a habitual law breaker." Sam pointed out. "Lillian was the gunman on a heist. One time deal."

"Is that what it says?" Liz frowned. Then she shut her eyes and put her hand to her forehead. "I hope my grandma doesn't know how to find that website."

"Have you been home at all?" Sam had to ask. He still hadn't told her he'd followed a lead to Roswell. She didn't ever want to talk about home, not even with him.

"No. Mom wants me to come for Christmas but… I don't know." She shrugged. "She sends me stuff in the mail. She even uses my alias."

"Why do you still use it?"

"I'm just used to it. I answer to both. Stan and I don't use them in the cottage anymore. His real name is Kyle by the way." She sighed heavily and sank low in her seat. "He should really visit his dad."

"What about your dad?" Dean asked, prompting her to tell more about herself. He had met the guy but he still didn't know the whole story and he wasn't going to tell her that they'd been to Roswell if Sam hadn't.

"Dad sometimes takes the phone when I talk to Mom. He doesn't say it but he wants me to come home. Maybe to go to college or take over the restaurant but… I can't go back there. Never again. I can't be in the restaurant where Max… where he used to come visit me on shift. I can't sleep in the room where Max stopped being my friend and where I had a vision of my friends and myself dying. I couldn't go out onto the balcony where he kissed me for the first time then proposed three years later. I just… I can't. There's too much good and bad there." Liz sniffed and looked up at the roof of the car. "It's just too hard. Waking up every day without him is hard enough. Seeing my mother-in-law at the grocery store and knowing that she… isn't really my mother-in-law anymore is just…"

"No brothers or sisters?"

"Only child." She smiled to herself. "But Maria and Isabel are like my sisters. Michael and Kyle are like my brothers. You kind of make your own family when you don't have your own. You guys are lucky to have each other… when… you know, you aren't letting each other get beat on by evil spirits and demons."

"You look beat. Get some sleep." Dean ordered her. "You shouldn't have come. We would have gotten out of there eventually."

"Couldn't let my friends get buried in some unmarked grave as John Does." Liz shot Sam a smile. "I would have asked Bobby where your hometown was and I would have taken you home."

"I'll write notes and sew them into our clothes before a hunt." Sam promised. "Bobby will identify the bodies and you can bury us in Lawrence, Kansas."

Liz blinked at him. They drove all over the place. All over the state for her errands, up and down the Midwest on their own hunts. She had seen Lawrence on the map more than a handful of times when planning routes or gauging their trips when Sam called her for one of their late night talks. "You guys just cruise past your hometown all the time and never go back?"

"We've been back once or twice since we were kids." Dean cleared his throat. "It's not home."

"Then what is?" Liz asked softly, getting comfortable to sleep again.

Dean turned a full-fledged smile on her. "You're riding in it."

TBC

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Post by DMartinez » Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:59 am

Part 25 – Second leg of the drive…

Liz woke sometime later but from the placement of the sun in the sky, it hadn't been as long as she knew she needed. She reached back to cover Sam better with his jacket. It was just her and Dean for company. She hadn't been so close to him without something to say or something to offer itself up for conversation. Then the radio started to cut out. His gaze kept flicking to her legs. She shifted uncomfortably. "What?"

"There's no radio between here and Rutherford." He nodded to her but she just shook her head, not understanding. "There's some music in a box under there somewhere."

She had to reach down and around until she found the box under the seat, nearly wedged in. She let out a bark of a laugh before she caught herself. "Okay… Dean… how old are you, again?"

"30." He cursed under his breath. That look was familiar. He'd seen it before. "So what?"

"Okay… I'm aware that you spent most of your life under a metaphorical rock but even I had CDs when you would have been in high school." She held up a cassette tape.

"But as you can see, my car is not equipped with a CD player." He leaned over to peer into the box. "Got a bad arm. Pick something out, would you?"

Liz lifted her eyebrows as she glanced over his collection. "AC/DC, BOC?" She frowned at him but continued to look over the tapes. "Led Zeppelin, Metallica… Bad Company… Motorhead… Do you have anything written after my birth?"

"There's some newer Metallica in there." He grinned at her. "Might be some Journey or Foreigner in there. I hear you girls like that stuff."

"How about we let the music be a last resort?" She placed the box on the floor once more. "I'm really about classic rocked out."

"A last resort?" He frowned at her. "To what?"

"Conversation." She turned the knob to silence the static pouring out of the speakers. "I can count on one hand the number of talks you and I have had."

"About what? We don't have anything in common."

Liz shook her head at him. She stared ahead as she thought over possible conversation starters. Taking a deep breath, she thought over what little she did know about the guys in the car. "Okay… I know Sam had a long term relationship… what about you? Do you or did you ever have someone you were in love with?"

He let out a long breath. "You don't start easy, do you?" He could almost laugh. "Maybe once I almost."

"Almost?"

It still stung a little to think on. Cassie and her smile and her total lack of tolerance for his bullshit. "There was a girl I met when I was on a hunt with my dad. For two weeks we just… I don't know." He shook his head. It was one of the hardest things he'd had to deal with from an emotional standpoint as an adult. "I told her the truth about what I did and she…"

"She didn't believe you." Liz whispered. She had believed Sam when he had let her into the secret. She understood but she had experienced some pretty weird things in her life. Her heart went out to him.

"I did her a favor a while back, proving that I wasn't crazy and we still kind of sparked but…" He snapped his fingers together and winced because it pulled at a stitch on the back of his hand. "I think it would have always been there, between us."

"Yeah." She nodded, wanting to offer him some comfort but knowing his arm was probably still throbbing from when she'd accidentally smacked him. "Maybe she wasn't the one for you."

"Too late to know now." He shrugged. He had closed off that chapter the last time he'd seen her. Somewhere in his head, it had been over even if he didn't know it. At least she had said the words when he was willing to hold out some hope. She was right. It would have never worked.

"So what? You give up?"

"It's not like I've been trying to have a meaningful relationship…. There's no time. I couldn't do that to someone I just met."

"But you can have one-night stand after another until your dick falls off."

"There's a plan I can get behind. I hope I'm dead before it falls off though." He thought it over. "Hope it has a good reason to fall off. I've been very kind to it."

"Are we seriously treating it as if it were capable of independent living?"

"You saying Nathan was always a prince and never ruled by his prick?" He challenged with a scoff and a roll of his eyes.

"My husband could control himself."

"Oh yeah? Then why were you…" He trailed off as he turned his head to face her once more. She wasn't playing anymore and he couldn't finish the sentence. He put the pieces together. The pain in her face, her averted eyes. "Never mind. You knew him better than I did."

"No. You're right. He was a romantic but sometimes he could be a guy and be ruled by his penis." She examined her nails and worded her sentence carefully. "There were times, when we were not dating and mistakes were made, by us both, and then things came up. Things happened."

"His headstone says he was a loving father…"

"He was. He had a son from another person that he gave up for adoption when he realized how dangerous his life would be for a child…" She stared at him, the question in her eyes even if she didn't voice it.

Dean didn't explain how he knew what was on 'Max Evans's' tombstone. "What happened to his... fling? Is that the one you threw against a wall?"

"Yeah… and she's dead." Liz reached down and grabbed the first tape she could find. She shoved it in and hit play. Music blasted loud enough to wake Sam.

"Dean… are you trying to kill Lillian?" Sam groaned. "With heavy metal?" He pulled himself into a sitting position in time to see Liz curling up against the door. "Lillian?"

"She's tired, Sam." Dean popped the tape out and flipped it over, even though his arm protested. "She gets to pick her sleeping music."

"Oh."

"BTO's not bad for driving either." Dean hammed it up, despite his screaming nerve endings in his sore, cut and beaten arm.

"God." Sam groaned as he settled back into his seat. "Every single time…"

"'I think that any love is good loving… So I took what I could get. Hmmm. Oohh. Ooh. She looked at me with big brown eyes and said.'" Dean thumped on the steering wheel. "'You ain't seen nothing yet, b-b-b-b-baby!"

Liz listened for a bit. It was hard to stay sad when Dean was clearly losing his mind and approaching what looked and sounded like a good time. Maybe it had started as a cover for the turn in conversation. Maybe it had started as an apology for bringing her down but she could hear that he was actually having fun. She turned and rolled her eyes at him. He gestured for her to try it. "Seriously? This song is so bad. You always think about sex."

"Oh come on. Have some fun." Dean shook his head and turned the music up a notch. "It's not talking about sex. It's talking about how 'Any love is good love, so I took what I could get, yes I took what I could get and then she looked at me with them big brown eyes and said…'"

"'You ain't seen nothing yet… B-b-Baby.'" She managed a laugh at his grin of satisfaction.

"'You ain't seen n-n-nothing yet… baby!'"

"God… now there's two of them" Sam pulled his jacket over his head.

Third leg of the drive…

Rain had started to fall. They were warm enough inside the car but without the windows, some of the rain fell inside the car too. It meant scooting a little away from the door to avoid getting too wet. Liz started to pop in a tape after they had taken a rest stop in a nice well lit town where Dean could keep an eye on his precious beat-up baby but Dean stopped her. "What?"

"Put it in on the other side."

She just nodded and flipped the tape over to the other side. She followed instruction while he told her to rewind and forward and play. The song that flowed out of the speakers was slow and surprisingly very good. She smiled sadly and sank into her seat. "Story of my life."

"Mine, too." Dean nodded to himself. "Maybe that's why I listen to this stuff so much. Some of it is fun and helps pass the time on the road… then there's this stuff that just makes me think… and remember."

"Like what?"

"Mom used to sing me a song to… you know… put me to bed." He cleared his throat. He was 30 and he was waxing nostalgic over a lullaby.

"Why are you blushing? You were little. It's not like I know for a fact that she was tucking you in at age 13 or something." She waited until he glanced her way. "I think it's sweet that you love her so much. That you had the chance to… Sam doesn't… does he?"

"I don't know that he doesn't love her. She was his mother but… no, he doesn't remember her. She saved our lives after she died. When she went, I felt this…"

When he trailed off and let the song switch on to the next, Liz let it drop. It was obviously confusing and very painful. "Do you believe in Destiny?"

"I don't know." He cleared his throat and his mind of painful thoughts. "Maybe people are born to a purpose… but I don't think events are set in stone." A flick of his head toward the backseat where Sam was once again sleeping off his painkillers and then a nod to her. "You and Sammy are proof enough of that. Sammy doesn't always save the people in his visions but it never goes down the way he sees it once we get going, you know. Just him knowing, changes the outcome… at least a little."

"But some things you can't change." She whispered.

"You can't control the world, you know."

"I guess not. I just don't want to feel that it is not possible." She stared straight ahead at the road disappearing out of her view under the car again and again. "I hate destiny."

"Join the club, sister." He let the silence between them fill with the radio for a long while. "Why'd you come to get us?"

"I told you… I didn't even think. I thought you were dead and…" She leaned back and turned her eyes to the roof of the car. "If I get killed suddenly and they have to call someone for me… I don't carry ID anymore. I never carry my phone… unless Stan is with me, I'll end up a Jane Doe somewhere." She tilted her head to look at him. "They didn't have ID on you when they called me… you might have ended up John and Jake Doe or something. No one would know that you'd want to be salted and cremated. They called me, so I went." She stared at his profile. "Why do you salt the graves?"

"I don't know exactly. Dad figured it out early on and so I do it. Near as I can figure from what I study… which by the way, is always vague and written so poetically as to be bordering on ridiculous…" He rolled his eyes, he hated research. "Salt is the most pure substance on the Earth. We use it pretty much the way it forms. Unprocessed and still viable. Fire is nature's cleanser. Farmers raze their fields so that the new crop will grow better than the last crop. Combine the two and it's a very potent means of detaching a spirit from its earthly body. Usually the spirit clings to the body, haunting the same town, some place of significance for it. The spirit has to cross over and… a purified cleansing sends them out of this world."

"I guess that makes sense." She mulled it over for a bit. "Why do the spirits stay behind?"

"In most cases, the person dies a violent death, indicative of evil. It leaves a spiritual fingerprint. Something that can pull the spirit back; the stronger the evil, the stronger the pull. Most times years will pass. It's usually an anniversary or a sudden change of events before the spirit starts acting up. A poltergeist is a really confused and angry son of a bitch. Driven mad by staying behind or a change of owners in a house or the sale of a prized possession. Part of the madness lets them tap into the psychic energy of the living, allowing them to…"

"Do things like trap a potentially powerful psychic under a car." Liz finished, thinking of Kyle's run-in at Bobby's garage.

"Right."

"Do we attract the spirits?" She asked, motioning to herself and to Sam in the backseat.

"I'd say that is a safe bet. My dad had a psychic friend. She would probably tell it better or know more specifics about it… Our old house was haunted by a poltergeist who originated someplace else but… because what happened to my mom was so… Evil… it camped out. When a new family moved in, it showed itself. My mom didn't cross over until 23 years after her death."

"Oh." She blinked, remembering how he'd shied away from the subject just a bit earlier. "How do you know that's when she…"

"Sam and I saw her spirit when we were trying to get rid of the poltergeist for the new owner." In his mind's eye, he could see her. The fire cleared and he could see his mother and the way she looked at him. Recognizing him after 23 years… after death.

"You saw her?" Liz whispered in awe.

"Yeah." He furrowed his brow. "She looked… just the way she did the night she died… like she was just about to tuck me into bed." He cleared his throat and straightened in his seat. "I was barely four, by the way."

"Yeah, I know. Sam told me that part of the story." She carefully touched his wrist, the only unbandaged part of his arm. "He told me how you carried him out of the house even though you were only four. A weaker child might have dropped his six-month-old brother. A less obedient child might have refused at all."

"Yeah…" His eyes flicked momentarily to her hand on his. He shrugged as if it was nothing. "Well, I guess I've always been what my dad needed me to be."

"That's not a bad thing. I spent my whole life trying to please my parents. And they were for the most part. In the end, it was me that needed to be happy."

"I don't know how to do that."

"Sure you do. You were happy once. I saw a picture at Bobby's."

"Bobby has a picture of me?"

"One of you, your dad and Sam… and the car. When you were young. You had a huge smile on your face."

Dean remembered the picture. There were a few copies of that one floating around. "I was ten," he scoffed, "I hadn't killed anything yet."

"Killing someone doesn't take away your ability to be happy."

"Speaking from experience?" He shook his head at her, his eyes still on the road. "Who did you kill?"

"My best friends." Liz reached down for the box of tapes to read the names to herself. "When I was 17… I had a… chance to change the future and I did… change it. So that the people I cared about wouldn't die when we were 32." She bit her lip as she thought of Alex. "I cheated my best friend out of 15 years of his life. Alex and Maria and I… we were inseparable since the third grade and I… went changing things and he died."

"Did you kill him yourself?" Dean pressed, his intense green eyes set on her face, driving with his peripheral. "Stab him? Shoot him? Poison him?"

"No but—"

"Then it doesn't count. You aren't responsible for his death unless you were face to face with him when he died. You didn't kill him." He turned his gaze back to the road. "I'm guessing you didn't kill the other friends either… you said Friends. Plural."

"Even if I knew what would happen before it did?"

"No. You didn't set a trap for them to get killed. You didn't plan it. It just happened… that's life. People die without knowing what's coming. People die knowing what's coming. People… die." Dean wanted to take it back. That's not the way he really felt about it. Nathan's death still felt like his fault. He was about to retract the statement when she spoke.

"Thanks for saying that. I need to hear it every few years so I don't drive myself crazy with guilt."

"Your welcome." He shrugged and cleared his throat. He nodded to the tape deck. "Turn it down. You're going to learn Mom's lullaby."

"Why?"

"Cause…" he shrugged. He didn't know why he was doing it. It was something to do. "Someday you're gonna have kids and you need one decent lullaby. 'Rock a bye baby' will kill the kid's brain cells while they're still forming. Girls, do whatever you want to them but if you have a boy someday. He will need a nice decent lullaby like this or… lots and lots of Led Zeppelin."


TBC

So.. the song bit... cheesy. I was gonna write one for him but... that didn't pan out so... probably no one will ever 'hear' the Winchester lullaby. It'll just drive people nuts... which is all a part of my plan... MUWAHAHAHAHAHA. Anyway, I had to post this part cause it's part of the last part which was entirely too long for my liking but roadtrips are like that. I did come up with a brilliant plot twist, yes another, but I don't where I'm gonna put it so if for some reason I hit part 30 and just... don't post as much... I'm rewriting some stuff. I'm currently working on part 51... or still working on it... I haven't been in a writing mood. Anyway, scrambled brains are going to attempt to do all the posting, get some chores in before work. Thanks to all y'all who are reading. I appreciate it.

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Post by DMartinez » Mon Jun 18, 2007 12:10 pm

Part 26 – The next day…
(April 30, 2009)

"You guys…" Liz shook her head. She skirted around tables putting down orders. She was a little irate when she finally got the chance to look over her friends. "You were just in a car accident. You should be in your room, resting."

Dean slid a chair underneath Sam's cast and pulled his wallet out with his left hand. "Fine but we'd starve."

"And you!" She circled the table to look over Sam. "You have a broken leg."

"No… I have a fractured leg. Elevate it and it'll be fine." Sam pointed to the chair under his leg.

"No beer. You're on painkillers." She turned to Dean. "You either." He stared at her aghast. "That's right. I said it. You're still clotting and if you want to bleed to death, fine. Have a beer but I won't serve it to you."

"Bring us food, Lillian. Please?" Sam begged.

"Fine. Then it's back to bed for both of you." She left them to themselves while she put in an order for them and served the rest of her tables. Sam watched his brother watch the wall. He shook his head and thanked Liz when their food arrived. Liz gave them a stern warning to eat all their food and she'd reward them afterward.

"We're not five!" Dean called after her.

"Then stop acting like it." She called back.

"Dean, what is with you?" Sam laughed and poured ketchup on both their plates for their fries.

"I don't know how you can stand her. I mean, seriously. She yapped all the way from Langdon. The only peace I got was when she slept for like… two minutes but you were passed out, too." Dean jabbed a fry into the ketchup and nearly missed his mouth when he attempted to eat. He already missed his right hand.

Sam blinked at his brother. "Every time I woke up, you guys were getting along. So what's the deal today? Why are you being a jerk?"

"I am being a jerk." Dean admitted as he ate awkwardly with his left hand. He knew why he was being a jerk. She looked at him with those big brown eyes and he had to answer all her questions. She hadn't been playing him. She was just curious. "She got me talking is all."

"And so you're being an ass?" Sam led his brother in the direction he needed to go. It was downright hilarious. Usually it was Dean who was playful and Liz who was bitchy but the tables had turned somewhere on the ride from Langdon.

"So, I had some fun and… maybe I said some things to her that I only tell you… or… never tell you…" He trailed off. "Maybe she got me thinking."

"About?" He let the obvious joke go to see what was wrong with his brother.

"I'm 30… Dude, you don't just… make friends when you're 30. She doesn't want to be the one they call to come identify our mangled bodies… and I don't want to be standing there over her grave if she goes first." Dean finally admitted. "I stopped in to see Nathan while we were in Roswell. I… I don't want to have to do that again."

"Okay. I understand." Sam nodded to his plate. As outgoing a person as Dean was, the guy could be socially inept. "But you know… you're right. People don't really just make friends outside of high school or college or work… those are the people you get stuck with. If you can make a friend… maybe you should keep him or her… One of these days, we're both gonna get locked up and we're going to have to call someone and… if we don't have friends that we can trust to do things like that…"

"Maybe. I don't know. She still shouldn't treat us like we're five."

"Dude, what did you tell her?" Sam scoffed as he dug into his food. As funny as it had been, it was very quickly getting old.

"Dude, I swear." Dean bit out around his hamburger. He drank his soda like a good boy but he was dying for a beer. "I wasn't going to say anything but she started talking and understanding and asking questions and I was giving her everything but my high school gym locker combo."

"She can do that." Sam laughed and had to hide it when she stopped by to check on them. "And she never forgets."

"I figured that." He gulped his soda and wished it would just turn to a jack and coke. "If they want to find fucking Osama or what's his face, they should just have her start interrogating the… the… the…"

"Taliban." He had to laugh at his clueless brother.

"Those are the guys. She'll start talking and then they'll be giving her everything. Every blueprint of every fucking cave. It might keep the FBI busy and off our… my ass." Dean amended at the end. The FBI weren't going after Sam yet.

"Okay, boys. I got you two brownies made by one Miss Yvette Milner." Liz set the freshly warmed hunks in front of them. She leaned in to whisper not so softly to Dean. "She said she made them for you but she guessed that maybe Sam could have one too. She seems to have an awfully big crush on her personal hero."

Sam let out a loud belly laugh and wiped away tears of joy. "Oh God… I just knew it. One day you were totally going to get hero-worshipped… I just never figured brownies into the deal."

"Shut up." Dean growled but he ate his brownie with a self-satisfied smile. "So… I get notoriety and brownies… What does Sam get?"

"Sam…" Liz moved around to wrap her arms around him. "Gets the girls over eighteen." She kissed Sam's cheek and bounded away to see to her tables.

--

"How did all this happen?" Liz asked as she unwound the bandages so Dean could wash up.

"Most of it happened before the car flipped." He shrugged. "Yellow-eyed Demon wanted to torture me a bit. I probably wasn't in any condition to drive to begin with. Narrow escapes are my specialty." He flashed her a smile. "I must have really pissed him off to want me dead so badly when he's repeatedly made it a point to tell me how worthless I am."

"The Demon tells you that you're worthless." She started to snicker until she realized that he was dead serious.

"Repeatedly." That had always bothered him. When the Demon had been inside his father, making his father tell him that he was unworthy of being with his family.

"You must really scare him then." She tossed the gauze away. "Take your shower but try not to get the arm too wet. Those stitches have to stay some semblance of dry before they can be taken out."

"Whatever." Dean mumbled.

Liz busied herself fluffing Sam's pillows and setting things within his reach. He shook his head at her. "You don't need to take care of us. We've been doing this a long time."

"You didn't used to have anyone to do this stuff for you." Liz shrugged as she debated on how much to tell him about what she'd realized over the last two days. "Now you do." She felt his eyes on her and it took her a minute to admit why she was hanging around. "It's felt really good to be around people who need me. I went home last night to sleep and I felt… really alone. Stan has Betty Lou. He's always with her and he doesn’t even need me to cook for him."

"Liz?"

"From the moment I got that phone call, to the moment when I walked into my house last night… I'd forgotten… for a little bit that I was alone. I'm sure I knew somewhere in my head but… I was busy. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself. I had other people to worry about."

"I guess I know what you mean. A distraction can be good for a while… to get you through the bad parts." Sam let out a dry laugh. "Hunting got me through some pretty bad patches. That and being mad at my dad."

She studied her hands for a long minute or two. "You guys aren't staying, are you? I mean… I know you're not staying in Valor Springs forever but..." She took a deep breath. "As soon as Dean gets windows in the Impala and it's running well…"

"Yeah. In a few days, I'll be able to hobble around on this cast. Dean will be using that arm, pain or not… I won't be good for hunting but I can do research. He'd probably prefer it that way."

"Because you're his brother and he wants to keep you safe."

"Something like that."

Two days later…
(May 2, 2009)

Dean showed off his scars to Marty. Bobby had pulled the stitches out against Liz’s advice. He waved the grimaces off the older man. "It was nothing. I heal pretty fast."

"Those are going to be ugly." Marty straightened to wipe down the bar.

"Come on. Ladies dig scars."

"Maybe." Liz shrugged but she pointed to Marty's arm. "Then they turn into this." The scar that disfigured the man's forearm looked frightening. "Maybe you'll luck out and it'll start to fade before it gets dark and scary."

"What would you suggest?"

"I was hoping you'd ask." Liz reached into her pocket and pulled out a small jar of cream. "Diminishes scars. But… only put it on after they've fully closed. If you put it on before… you might get it infected."

"Yes, mother." Dean frowned at the jar she'd placed before him. "This is makeup."

"No, it's not."

"Yeah, it is." He turned the jar to show her the label that distinctly bore the name of a cosmetics line.

"Put it on."

"It's makeup."

"It'll keep the girls from looking at your gnarled skin and wondering what leprous disease you've contracted and possibly be passing on to them if they let you take them back to whatever hovel you're using to lure in the unsuspecting victims."

"Victims?"

"Yes. Victims."

Dean looked up when his brother hobbled into the bar. "Sammy! Birthday boy!"

"It's your birthday?" Liz tilted her head at him.

"Yeah, well… that's what my driver's license says." Sam shrugged and took a low seat so he could prop up his leg. He tried to avoid eye contact but he knew, just knew, she was going to make a big deal out of it. "Winchesters aren't big on celebrating."

"I'm an Evans… and we celebrate the hell out of everything." Liz didn't even catch her mistake when Marty did a double-take.

Dean just shook his head at Marty and motioned for him not to say anything. Liz returned from the kitchen with a plate of food for Sam, then she took Dean's beer to give to Sam. "Hey!"

"What? You have to be sober enough to take the birthday boy home. You can't keep drinking." Liz bounded away again. When she returned half an hour later, she had a freshly baked cupcake with a candle.

"Lillian." Marty held out an envelope. "Mary's still sending your mail here."

"I'll talk to her. Promise." Liz took the envelope and sat with her only table of the afternoon left. It was a short letter, asking questions, expressing well wishes. There was a short stack of pictures. Liz smiled sadly as she flipped through them. She remembered all the times and places for each. Max smiling down at her in every picture, making sure that she was having a good time… except in one. His laughing face was turned away from her, toward Dean who was laughing so hard that his eyes were tiny squints in his face. Sam's head was thrown back. Liz saw her own disgusted face with a small smile on it.

"What's that?" Sam noted her somber face.

"Just some pictures from the last couple of years. Maria was always good at taking them but really bad at remembering to develop them." She flipped the picture around to show him. "We had fun that night. Max… he had fun but he really, really had fun that night." Quickly she flipped through the pictures, pulling out all the ones of the Winchesters as she found them. "Maybe I should make copies for you guys. You could add them to your box."

"Our box?" He frowned at her. When his gaze flicked to Dean at the bar, Dean's head was bowed low as he had clearly not stopped drinking when Liz had ordered him to. "Oh… our box. I didn't know you knew about that."

"I saw Dean with it once." Liz admitted. "I know how I feel about pictures… maybe you two might need some… to remind you that… there are people who care. So maybe you're less likely to go and do something stupid."

"Like piss off a demon and get our car rolled?" Sam laughed. It hadn't been funny in that hospital but he could laugh it off today. He had made it to another birthday.

"Yeah, like that." She shook her head at him. "This is a send off party, isn't it? You guys are leaving in the morning."

"Yeah." Sam nodded. He tilted his head at the look in her face. "You're gonna be okay. If you want to worry about us? Go for it. I recommend it to feeling sorry for yourself. In fact, feel free to run up Dean's minutes checking on us." They shared a laugh about the running bit of annoyance that Dean had for their battery-eating, minute-stealing phone calls in the middle of the night. "When I scam myself a new phone, I'll make sure you get that number."

"I am gonna miss you guys… especially after a day in the Impala with your smelly feet and farts." She laughed at his abused expression.

"Just imagine if we would have had windows."

"The horror." She giggled and hugged him. "I'll go make some copies. I'll be back." She snuck up behind Dean at the bar. "And stop drinking." He nearly leapt off the bar stool, eliciting another laugh from her.

Sam licked some icing off his cupcake and watched his brother watch Liz go. Shaking his head, he planned to enjoy the first birthday cupcake he'd had since college. That anyone had made him since Jess had died. He didn't even really feel so sad when he thought about her cakes and cookies.

A month later…
(June 2, 2009)

Dean turned his voice messages on speakerphone so Sam could write them down. "'I hope this number still works. I got it off your dad's voicemail a few years back. Truth is, it's an emergency. There's something killing out here in Bakersville. John helped me out years ago.'"

"Write that down. Bakersville." Dean ordered.

"What does it look like I'm doing?" Sam griped as he scribbled the information down.

"Sam, Dean. I hope you guys are doing alright. It's been a while since I've heard from you guys. Just making sure that I don't have to take Stan with me on a hunt through whatever meandering route you're on to find your corpses and… I don't know… salt them or something. Anyway, be careful."

Dean hit the button to delete. Sam just shook his head and made a note to call her back as soon as he could get his hands on Dean's phone.

"Anything else?" Sam asked as he started planning their route to Bakersville.

"Nah." Dean started to pocket his phone when his brother snatched it out of his hand. "What?"

"Nothing." Sam scrolled through the phone book with a frown. Dean had deleted the entry from both the phone book and the call log. Scoffing, he dialed from memory. "You're such a jerk."

"What?"

"You know what." Sam cleared his throat as he heard the greeting. "Hey, Lillian."

"Sam… it's been so long since I spoke to you."

"Yeah, I know. Been busy. How are you? Stan still catting around?"

"Yes, but I think it's serious. Betty Lou has been phasing him out of my place and into her place. I don't know that he's noticed yet."

"He's marked for death, isn't he."

"Yeah… His dad is coming up here for the 4th… It'll be nice to see him again." She took a breath. "So… um… where are you guys headed?"

"Bakersville. We'll see what it is when we get there."

"Well…"

"Be careful. We know."

"How's your leg?"

"Better. Almost good as new. Dean's been using your scar reducer."

"Dude, shut up." Dean shook his head and kept driving, scowling at the driver’s side window.

"He says 'hi' by the way."

"No, he didn't. I clearly heard him saying 'shut up'." Liz laughed. "Alright. Like I said, be careful."

"We'll keep in touch." Sam hung up the phone.

"Dude, you memorized her phone number." The elder brother snickered.

"You're an ass. Capital A."

A few weeks later…
(June 26, 2009)

Marty shook his head at her. "What are you doing to my wall?"

"You've got pictures of all your friends up here. I'm putting up some of my own."

"Does it say Lillian Sparks on that sign out there?"

"No." She sighed at him. "I just… thought it would be nice to have some pictures taken in this century on the wall."

He peered over her shoulder at the pictures she'd just mounted. "Look at all those grinning fools. Is that what y'all do when I'm not around?" He blinked at the next photo. "Is that Dean Winchester with a smile on his face?"

"See, I knew you'd like some of these."

"That man of yours sure was something." Marty patted her shoulder. "I always thought there was… something… about him. Something different."

"Yeah." Liz traced his smiling face. All of them facing the camera with broad smiles, except Michael; Sam's arm was around Maria. "He really came alive here."

TBC

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DMartinez
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Post by DMartinez » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:40 am

Part 27 – Two months later…

(August 28, 2009)

Liz carried the flowers in front of her, like a shield. She knelt and placed them in the concrete vase beside the tombstone. "I'm sorry, Max. I should have come home with you. I just… couldn't. I hope you can forgive me."

She sat with her husband and thought about the looks on her parents faces when they had finally seen her for themselves. She was too thin. She wore too much makeup. She wore her clothes too tight. Why wasn't she trying to go to school? Where were her priorities? Why didn't she just move back home?

What she needed was a drink. Jim, Jack and Jose were sounding like preferable company to her old haunts. Everywhere in Roswell just reminded her too much of what she was missing. More so than Valor Springs, where her memories of Max were freshest.

Surprisingly, it was Isabel who happened upon her first. She only sat down beside Liz in the grass. "I convinced Mom to put off her expedition until tomorrow. To give you some space. She's flipping out about it but… I left her with the baby and so she has something to do."

"I'll bet he's big." Liz smiled to herself. She was only mildly jealous.

"Alexander Ramirez." Isabel reached into her purse for the pictures. "He is getting so big." She touched the tombstone lovingly. "I hadn't been back since… I kind of wanted him to see Alex… but I knew we needed to give you your time with him." She laughed to herself. "Honestly, I haven't thought of Valor Springs since May."

"Oh?" Liz picked up her head from examining her nephew, who bore a strong resemblance to his mother except for the nose and the eyes.

"Yeah, it was actually out here. I was saying my last goodbyes to Max. You know how I get… and I saw Dean Winchester crying." Isabel caught the surprised look on her sister-in-law's face. "They didn't tell you? They didn't stay long. They thought they were hunting something but other than giving our parents a scare, they didn't do anything. Dean said he'd pass on a message for me."

"Well, you trusted the wrong Winchester for that." Liz shook her head with a snort. "I've been talking to Sam but he never told me… that he'd been here."

"What?"

"No, it's… they never said anything but… Dean kind of did. He… said something and I should have realized but I was in a crappy mood and he didn't push it… he's nice when he wants to be." She shook her head and ran her hands through her hair.

"So, you still talk to them?"

"Yeah."

"I just… you were so… mad at them." Isabel blinked away a tear.

"For about two minutes, I was." Liz sniffed and sank against the tombstone. "I just… felt so guilty that I lashed out at everyone. I thought I had run them off. Sam called me though. We've been talking. He's helped me through this."

"I'm glad you have someone besides Kyle to turn to. He's a good friend but… sometimes you just… need another shoulder."

"I lied to my mom." She admitted. "If I come home and I get another vision, I have to tell her the truth and I can't… I can't bring that danger here."

"How bad have they been?" Isabel stilled. She had figured all that would be over when her brother died. "The visions…"

"Bad. I just… after Max… I just wanted to never have another vision for the rest of my life and then I had one and after the thing was taken care of… I felt… relieved. Does that make sense? I mean, I didn't feel him when he died. I just assumed that part of me was gone but then I had the vision and it was like… I still had him inside me somewhere." Liz laid her hand over her heart. The ache had dulled but it would always be there. "Then I had another one… I almost got them killed, again. But they escaped with some broken bones and some wounds. Last time I talked to them, they were healed up and okay. They still trust me."

Isabel nodded but she had to change the subject. The visions had always creeped her out. "Did you get the pictures? Maria sent some to me, too."

"Yeah, I gave Sam some copies. I put some copies up at Marty's. He protested at first but… I think he misses Max, too." Marty had always been a pretty relaxed boss given that he ran a bar but he had relaxed even more around Liz since Max had died.

"You really want to stay there?"

"Yeah. I think I'm needed there. I get these visions and I can always call Sam to talk about them. Marty and Bobby are always keeping an eye out for me. I'm meeting other hunters when I identify them. It's become a game for me. Spotting those guys when they walk in." She shrugged her shoulders. "Sometimes I can even peg what they specialize in."

"You mean… other people just… hunt like… just ghosts or just demons."

"Kinds of spirits and kinds of demons. There's this one guy… He's scary. Hunts Vampires if you can believe that. I don't think they're like what we see in the movies though. I don't think we would go all Buffy on them with the tricks we think we know. I'll leave the hunting to the experts but… I'm interested." They both shook their heads. "Could you imagine if I told my mother I wanted to stay in Valor Springs so I could become an expert in demonology and exorcisms and ghost hunting?"

"But that's what you want to do." Isabel offered her a smile. "After the life we've had, I don't think you could just go back to wanting to be a scientist. I'm ready to settle down but I'm always going to be looking over my shoulder. I'm going to be the most paranoid mother on the planet."

"I think I would be, too."

"Liz, come to the house. See Alex and Mom. Mom really wants to see you."

"I can't." Liz took a breath. "I feel like it's all my fault. If I had said something sooner or tied him to the bed or…"

"Then you really need to come see everyone. Michael has a very different story about how things came about… and he should have told you before we left. He should have told us all."

The next night…

(August 29, 2009)

Sam tapped his hands on the steering wheel. "The bartender asked for your number. Said she likes wounded, brooding types."

"Did you give it to her?" Dean asked from where he was scanning the obits for odd entries.

"Nah. I told her you were a monk and gave her mine instead."

"Okay."

"Okay." Sam waited for a moment. "Liz left us a message. Are you going to call her back?"

He was focused on his task and his brother was being a jerk. "Who is Liz?"

"Lillian. Liz. Same person."

"Right, I forgot." Dean sighed. He had known that. He knew more than that but it was just easier for him to call her Lillian. "She just called to tell us about the thing that almost ate us. I'll catch her when we run back through to see Bobby about the part."

Sam shook his head. He had seen the way his brother had looked at her the last time they were in Valor Springs. "Are you interested in her?"

"She's a widow, Sam." He didn't even look up from his paper.

"She's my age. She can still date."

"Then you date her. You're the one spending late nights talking to her." Dean exploded. He was trying to work and his baby brother was about to get a cap in his knee if he didn't shut up.

"She's not my type."

"She's exactly your type."

"Call her."

"I'm not her type."

"How do you know you're not?"

"Can we can the girl talk, Sammy?" Dean bit out and stewed for a minute in the passenger seat, smacking the obits against the door.

"You like her.” He stated with a broad grin. “You make us stop through all the time and you stopped picking up random chicks months ago."

"I think I've died a time or two too many to have a normal relationship, Sammy."

His brother was being ridiculous. "That has nothing to do with it. She's died too, you know."

"What?"

"You need to call her, she'll tell you if you ask."

"Whatever. She hates me. I like it that way." Dean straightened his paper and began scanning by penlight. "You remember that suburb of Lawrence?"

"Suburb?" Sam snorted. It had been a village if there was a word for it.

"Look. Too many weird deaths. We're going there after this thing."

--

Liz sat on her balcony. Her childhood balcony in her skinny jeans and her sleeveless shirt with her newly shorn hair (the plait sat in her lap) and watched the stars for the first time since leaving Roswell. Her mother climbed out silently and sat beside her, running her fingers through the shiny shag. "You used to love it out here."

"I did."

"I'll bet you don't have a balcony in Valor Springs."

"No… I didn’t need to see the stars when I had him in my arms." Liz took a deep breath and looked over everything she had left behind seven years before. "This place has a lot of memories."

"A lot of those were Max sneaking up here in the middle of the night."

"Yes." Liz laughed. "I can't tell you how many times I almost lost my virginity up here." That made her mother burst out in nervous laughter. "But always Max. Never again, Max."

"Why'd you cut your hair, Liz?"

"Max loved my hair. I let it grow so long for him." She fingered the plait. "I'm going to give it to him. I couldn't stand for another man to touch my hair when I know Max touched it with… so much… tenderness. This is his."

"Have you been seeing someone?"

"No."

"Then why worry about it?"

"It's something I need to do, Mom. The past year hasn't been easy but I think that I'm going to be okay. I know that someday in the not too distant future… I'm going to call you and you're going to want me to start seeing people. To settle down with someone else. I don't know when I'll be ready but I have to be ready for it when I am." She held her tongue for a bit. "You were friends with dad when he was with… that other girl, right?"

"Yeah, I was friends with them both."

"How long did it take him to… see you?"

"Once I realized how I felt about him… It seemed like forever. I knew that a part of him would always love her but I know he loves me. Whoever it is that you meet. He'll have to understand that you will always carry Max with you."

"Mom, am I ever going to look at another man and not compare him to Max?"

"Someday. Oh, you're my baby and I want nothing better than for you be here with me but I know you. You're a Parker. You're an Evans but you'll always be a Parker. You're going to forge your way into the world like your Grandmother did. She would… be so proud of you. The way you've held yourself together."

"I've had some good friends to help me over the bumps."

"Maria told us about those men you all met. They were there when…"

"Those are the friends. Good men." Liz nodded to herself. "Have you seen my phone?"

"Someone named Sam called. You left it downstairs. Your father answered it."

"What did he do?"

"Nothing. Grilled him. I think your dad's sweet on him now. He went to college and impressed him or something."

"I'll bet. Sam didn't graduate college. He always meant to, though." Liz smiled and tucked herself into the lounge chair. "Sam's a great guy. We have a lot in common." She saw the look in her mother's eyes. "But he's just a friend."

"How long are you staying, Liz?"

"Maybe a week. I don't know. I just… can't stay here indefinitely. I left Marty alone with the bar. He'll be okay for a few days with the new waitress but… until he gets the new cook under control…"

"If you're a waitress, you can do that here."

"Maybe…" She shrugged her shoulders and crossed her arms over her chest. "But I wouldn't be happy here."

"You can't know that, Liz."

"But I can feel it. Without Max, Roswell doesn't have anything but history for me."

A few days later…

(September 2, 2009)

Dean held the phone out to Sam and then disappeared out the door of the bar. Sam held it to his ear. "Hello?"

"Why did you not tell me you were in Roswell, you jerks?" She repeated the question for the second Winchester on the line.

"Lillian?"

"Isabel told me she talked to Dean when you were in Roswell."

"Dean talked to who? Amanda?" Sam had to rack his brain for the alias to match the given name.

"Yes."

"I didn't know that."

"But you were in Roswell."

"Yeah, I was on the hunt and I hunted into Roswell but it turned out to be nothing."

"Which one of you talked to my father in the restaurant?"

"Um… Not me."

"So Dean talked to Valenti and to my father."

"I guess."

"Sam!"

"Look, Lillian." Sam took a breath. "We were only there for a day. It didn't pan out. We moved on. What happened?"

"Nothing. My mom is wanting me to stay and… I was talking to Isabel and she said she talked to Dean and he was crying or something. I don't know. I'm just… I need to get out of Roswell but they're holding on with like… iron grips." Liz blew out a breath. "I'm sorry. I'm just frustrated. Was my dad mean to you when you called me the other day?"

"No. He was just concerned about his widowed daughter. I think he thought I was a boyfriend or something. Asked what I did for a living, if I had gone to college. You know… all the standard questions when you're sizing up a potential son-in-law."

"Well, I hope you lied about your day job."

"Well… half-truths. Didn't say anything about credit card scams or killing demons but I admitted to my role in… you know."

"Okay. Okay." She calmed down a little. She had allowed her parents to get her riled up. "So, where are you guys?"

"Grady, Arizona. We're finishing up a job tomorrow night… you know, hopefully."

"Come and get me. Whenever you pass through, just come and get me. I rode the bus out but… I'm not going to go crazy on the way back to South Dakota."

"I'll talk him into it." Sam let out a chuckle as his brother made his way back inside and rolled his eyes when he found his baby brother still on the phone.

"He'd leave me here?" Liz gasped.

"It's Dean. He's being an ass. He'd leave you on the moon." His brother only glared at him, apparently still having not forgiven him for comments of a few days earlier. "High and dry… no provisions."

"What? What, Sam?" Dean bit out.

"When we kill this thing… we're heading back to Bobby's for the part, right?" Sam tilted the phone away from his mouth.

"Yeah. So." Dean shelled a few peanuts on the bar and popped them into his mouth. "We got that thing outside Lawrence, so yeah, eventually back to Valor Springs."

"So… stopping in Roswell for a pick up is on the way and we could take Lillian back with us."

"Oh! Sammy! What are you doing?" Dean scoffed. He shook his head slowly and thought of another road trip with Lillian, this one twice as long as the last one. "You're trying to kill me."

"I heard that!" Liz's voice floated out of the phone.

"Come on, Sammy. Have pity on me." Dean sipped his beer.

"Fine. I'll hitch."

"No!" Sam put the phone back to his ear. "No, don't do that. We'll come get you. Don't hitch."

"Hitch? Is she crazy? Doesn't she know what kind of psychos are out there?" Dean barked. That idea was just absurd and anyone with two brain cells would have rejected it out of hand. "She wouldn't last two seconds out there. There are demons and murderers and… and rapists."

"See, it's settled. We'll come get you." Sam breathed out.

"Wow… he sounded concerned." Liz let out a nervous laugh.

"Yeah, he did." He arched an eyebrow at his brother, who waved him off.

"It's a gentlemanly thing to do, right?" Dean killed his beer and took Sam's notes to look them over.

"It's settled. We'll swing by after we kill this thing. Where do we pick you up?"

"Apparently Dean knows. Tell him he knows where."

"Dean." Sam nodded to him. "Where are we picking her up?"

"How should I know?"

"She said you'd know where."

"Why do they do that? We're not mind readers." Dean ground out. "This is why I don't get involved with women. They manipulate you and torture you… I'm not even getting laid out of this. Why should I put up with it?"

"Wow. That was nice and misogynistic." Liz laughed.

"Yeah. It's been a real headache." Sam snorted.

"Crashdown." She said.

"Crashdown?" Sam asked his brother.

"Oh. That." Dean rolled his eyes. "Restaurant with a big UFO sticking out of it. I know where it is."

"Okay. So… two or three days."

"Sounds good. If I stay a day longer, they might be willing to let me go."

"Smothering you, huh?" Sam stared off over the bar. He wished he knew what that was like.

"Something like that, yeah."



TBC

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DMartinez
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Post by DMartinez » Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:40 pm

Part 28 – A few days later…
(September 5, 2009)

Liz was helping her father do inventory when the bells jingled. He groaned and looked to her. "Sweetie, would you?"

"Where are all your waitresses?" She resisted the urge to scoff. She had actually missed his reliance on her. When she was engrossed in alien drama, he hadn't been able to do so. That had always eaten at her conscience.

"Well, dude, there was, like, a concert in Santa Fe and dude, like, they all totally had to go."

"And you let them. You're becoming such a softy in your old age." Liz laughed as she picked up an apron to wrap around her waist as she walked out into the dining room.

"Sweetie?" Jeff called after her.

"What's up, Dad?"

"Antennae?"

"Oh." Liz scoffed and whipped a pair onto her head. She rolled her eyes and grabbed a menu while she was heading for the door.

A burst of laughter met her ears immediately. When she turned, Dean was dying of laughter at the counter. "Oh shit. Where is a camera when you need one?" Then he whipped out his phone and snapped one off. "Oh right. I have one."

"Ha. Ha. Funny. You caught me in my uniform." Liz shook her head at him. "Where's your brother?"

"Getting the car gassed up." He looked her over. "I thought the uniform was a puke green dress thing." She smacked him with a menu. "What?"

"Is that why you volunteered to pick me up? So you could see my uniform?"

"Yes." He burst out laughing again. Smiling, unapologetically, for his own deviousness.

"I'm the owner's daughter. I don't have to wear the dress anymore." She smacked him again. "You want something to drink while we're waiting for Sam?"

"Honey, how many times have I told you not to beat the customers?" Jeff walked into the diner.

"This isn't a customer." She smacked him again before ripping the antennae off her head. "This is…"

"Agent Kirke." Jeff held out his hand.

"Simon Kirke?" Liz shook her head and smacked Dean again. "It's Dean Winchester, Dad."

"Winchester…" Jeff nodded and pumped the man's hand once. "You the boy that's been calling my daughter?"

"Dad." Liz faked a gagging spell.

"Actually, that would be my brother." Dean shook his head at Liz's antics. "Sam should be here soon." He glanced at his watch. "I wanted to get to Bobby's in a couple of days. He's got a part waiting for me."

"It's so sad," Liz leaned on the counter, "that we can't transform that car into a person so you could be with your soul mate for all eternity."

"It is sad. In fact, when I die I want to be cremated inside the car. The whole thing, on fire. No one is ever going to take care of her the way I do."

"Or what? You'll haunt me?"

"That's right. I will. I will haunt you to the ends of the earth until you salt and burn the car." He stared at her for a few minutes. "Hey… didn't you used to have like a… mile of hair hanging off your head?"

"She did until a few days ago." Jeff kissed his daughter's head on the way back to his inventory. "Be good."

"I ended my mourning period with a haircut." Liz briefly explained. "Reversal of tradition but… you know.""Tradition?" He clasped his hands together on the counter and waited. This should be good. "What tradition?"

"There are lots of them. My grandmother was an anthropologist. She specialized in Native Americans. I learned a lot from her. There are tribes who cut off their hair as a sign of mourning. A lot of cultures believe that someone should wear black for a year and a day after they lose someone they love." She saw she was losing him. "There are some who believe that vengeance is the only way to truly mourn someone who was murdered."

"There's one I like."

"Yeah. I figured you would." She stilled as she rounded the counter. Her eyes went wide as the pain set in. "Dean."

He blinked at her. Then blinked again. "Shit." He slipped his arms around her and set her in the stool next to his.

"Ah." She gasped, gripping his arm. "Don't let my parents know." He didn't know what to say to that request. Her grip on his arm tightened. "Please. Dean, promise. They don't know I still get them."

Dean caught her head before she pitched backward. He hugged her body to his, making sure no one noticed she was caught in a seizure. When she stilled, he slowly released her. His gaze flicked to the back door but there was no one back there and the diner was empty. She had lucked out. "You okay?"

"Yeah. I think so." She held her head against his bicep for a moment longer. His hand lightly massaged her head. "Do you do this for Sam, too?"

"I do a lot for my brother."

"Do me a favor. There's a doughnut in the case next to you. A plate on the other side of the counter and some Tabasco near that."

"Ugh. That's just gross." But he retrieved all the items for her, barely able to hold the contents of his stomach while she drenched the doughnut with Tabasco. After the first bite, her hands stopped shaking. "Seriously. Gross."

"Ew. Sweetie. Gross." Nancy chided her daughter as she set a tray of clean glasses on the counter to put away for ready use. "Max's bad habits, I see."

"Mom. I kissed the man for nearly 10 years and he always tasted like a Tabasco doughnut. I was bound to develop a taste for it."

Shuddering, Nancy tilted her head at the young man seated next to her daughter. "Have we met before?"

"Um… yeah." Dean offered his hand for a shake. "Dean Winchester."

"Nancy Parker." She nodded and took a breath while she tried to place him. "Dean and not actually the drummer for Bad Company. I remember now. Agent Kirke."

"Your mom is cool." Dean told Liz before he turned a bright, flirtatious smile on Mrs. Parker. "You're a young mother, aren't you. You could be Liz's sister."

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Dean." Nancy stood up straight and got back to work. "Will you be staying for dinner?"

"Oh, um…" He knew he looked like he was a deer caught in headlights but dinner with parents was not on the agenda. "I'd love to but… I had planned to be on the road again, tonight."

"Tonight? It's not safe to drive at night." Nancy shook her head. "Liz, call the Tumbleweed. I don't care if you're already packed. Get them a room. You can leave tomorrow."

The bells jingled and Sam strolled in. "Sam!" Liz managed to hop off her stool to give him a hug. "My mom was just informing us that you'll both be staying for dinner and we'll be leaving in the morning."

"Really?" Sam looked up at his brother who looked put out.

"So, this is Sam." Nancy approached to take the young man's hand. "My husband was gushing about you after your talk on the phone. I'm Nancy Parker."

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Parker. Liz is a great person. You should be proud."

"We are." She motioned them to the counter where Dean was picking at Liz's doughnut. "You kids have fun… and Liz, call the Tumbleweed before they fill up."

Sam took a seat next to his brother and glanced around at all the alien murals. "Your family is into all this stuff?"

"Not really." Liz shook her head and lowered herself carefully onto a stool and took her plate from Dean. "It's a gimmick to make money and during July, we make quite a bit of it." She took another bite of her spicy doughnut. It helped some. She could feel Sam's eyes on her. "It happened over there, in the coffee station." She rolled her sore shoulders. "I'll be back. I'm going to my dad for negotiations on our departure time."

Dean stared at his brother. When Liz left, he nudged him. "What happened over there?"

"That's where she died." Sam took a deep breath but his gift didn't work like hers did. He couldn't feel what had happened. It wasn't evil in a supernatural way. He didn't feel anything odd.

"She died. There. How? Nothing ever happens in this town… That alleged crash? Happened way out in the desert, technically in another town."

"You ask her how it happened. All I know is that's where it happened, then her future husband saved her life." Sam glanced down at her plate. "What in the hell is that?"

"She modified your recipe for a vision hangover."

"That's gross."

"Yeah. That's the consensus."

--

Liz adjusted the Mighty-Bright light she'd liberated from her childhood room and focused on her vision. They had to compromise with her mother. The trio could leave before dark but they had to eat dinner. Dinner had been an awkward affair given that the Parkers did not know what the Winchesters truly did for a living. Liz figured that her father was onto the charade because he had asked, gently, how it was that they happened to be traveling through the area that Max and Michael had been in and why they had a shotgun at all. Sam had jumped on the question quick. Shotguns came in handy in the traveling sales business. They had rounds for it but rarely kept it loaded. Dean had countered with 'you're stupid.' He then explained that in the private investigation business that it could sometimes be dangerous to be caught without means of protection. It was a family business and it was wise to be cautious so that the family lived on. He apologized for his false introduction and explained that had he known who he was speaking to in the first place that he probably wouldn't have bothered them at all. It was a rare moment for Liz to witness Dean being genuinely apologetic. Maybe he had some charm after all.

Her sketches were vague but she handed them up to Sam when each was finished. He studied them in silence as far as she could tell. She was busy trying to get them out of her head. Then she heard Sam on the phone. "Hey… I'm sorry to be bothering you so late… I was wondering about some of those… you do? Thank you. We'll be stopping in… a couple of days. We have to make a drop off before we go."

"Wait, do you know where this is?" Liz sat up and peered into the front seat where the pictures were spread between Sam and Dean.

"We have an idea. It's the same hunt we're on." Sam answered her as he hung up the phone.

"How can you tell?"

"We just can." Dean told her. "Get some sleep. I'm gonna try to push her as fast as she'll go."

A day and a half later…
(September 7, 2009)

Liz dropped her things on her bed. She'd barely said her goodbyes when Dean pealed out and onto the street. Whatever it was, she hoped they came back alive.


TBC

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DMartinez
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Post by DMartinez » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:40 am

Part 29 – The Next Day…
(September 8, 2009)

Dean sat in the room and let Sam do all the talking. He'd learned nothing over the years about Missouri except she hated him. Sam stood to get the errands run but Missouri told Sam to take care of it himself. Dean needed a rest, she said.

"What?" Dean frowned at her. "We got a demon to hunt and you want me to sit on my ass?"

"Yes! And watch your mouth. Sam, go. I need to talk to your brother." She waved a wooden spoon at the both of them, warning silently about back talk. Sam left just as confused as his brother.

"What?" Dean barked out but sat up and back when she waved her spoon at him.

Missouri took a deep breath before crossing to sit next to him. "Dean, honey. Don't make me be mean to you. I don't like my voice that way. I need you to listen to me and really listen. What happened to your father was not your fault. What happened to that boy was not your fault and that little girl does not blame you. She does not hate you any more than I do."

"Give me hope why don't you." Dean let out a heavy sigh.

"Dean Winchester. I do not hate you. You remind me of your father and that is aggravating because you used to be a sweet boy." She placed a hand on his back as she lowered her voice again. "I need you to stop blaming yourself. I need you to stop drinking like a fish." He tried to get up but she placed her hands on his shoulders, not pushing him down but not letting him up. "You're killing your brother with worry and you're killing yourself slowly. Be still, Dean."

Dean leaned on his knees and took a shuddering breath. Missouri didn't need to be a psychic to know he drank too much. He reeked of booze and sweat. He hadn't shaved in weeks. He had kept himself on the move or in the bottle. Anything other had required him to feel like a person and he didn't like the person he felt like when he was sober or not killing something evil.

"You're 30 years old and you're tired of living like a vagabond." She whispered in his ear. "You want the Demon dead but you haven't been able to kill it. You just want to stop but your brother is just as hell-bent on this thing as your father was." She rubbed his back and he covered his face with his hands, refusing to look up or acknowledge her words, but he wasn't pushing her away and he wasn't running away. "You can be happy. It's awful to feel you in so much pain, Dean. Sam cares but he doesn't know how to help you anymore."

Dean was dumbfounded to hear his head opened up and laid out. No wonder Missouri rarely told her clients the truth. None of them really wanted it. He lifted his head to look at her. "How can none of it be my fault?"

"It's just not and no one blames you, honey."

"Lillian blames me."

"Lillian blames herself!" Missouri exclaimed and stopped short of shaking the young man on her couch. Between Sam and Dean, she knew enough of what had happened that she could tell him in complete faith the death of their friend was not his fault. "That woman has the fate of worlds on her shoulders and, God bless her, she has faith in you and your brother. You're the one she calls when the other world tells her things aren't right. That husband of hers left a lot of unfinished business but he saved two worlds when he died."

"He died killing a demon." Dean protested. "That's my job. I knew he wasn't experienced enough to handle it. He made me promise to let it be his kill but… he died, too."

"That thing was no demon. Not by any earthly definition. That thing was just getting started. He wanted to get Nathan's attention. His next kill wouldn't have been one man, it would have been twenty. He got Nathan's attention, all right. Lillian tried to save everyone but she couldn't reach him when she needed to… All you boys…" She trailed off and put her hand over her heart. Feeling the other world often took her strength. She stared at the Dean and was overwhelmed by the rush of emotion the other world sent her. Things she shouldn’t have known. "She doesn’t blame you, Dean. She's afraid of you."

"Afraid of me?"

"I don't know why. She's powerful, that one. A force for good but powerful and afraid."

"So what? She gets visions and senses spirits. Sam does that, too."

"She's not like Sam." Missouri tilted her head. "She's not like me either. Her abilities don't come from the same place. She's something else entirely."

"If she's so powerful, why is she afraid of me? Unless she's a demon. She knows that's what I do. I kill demons." His words were weak. That didn't fit and if she was a demon, he'd never be able to kill her.

"That's not it." Missouri straightened and picked up her wooden spoon. "I don't know what it is. Maybe you do."

"I don't know why I scare her." He didn't want to but he followed Missouri into her kitchen where she had been starting her dinner when the boys had barged in.

"You get so lost inside your head. Just like your father." She took his hands in hers. "You used to idolize that man. He was your hero and he had all the answers. Dean, you always humbled him. Sam asked the questions, he pointed the finger. Your dad could deal with that, not well but he could accept it. You… you had a faith in him that no one else had. He didn't feel like a hero on the best of days. He didn't have all the answers but you still looked at him like he was more than this world."

That thought humbled Dean. His father had been just a man. A man with a mission but just a man. "I miss him."

"I know you do. That's never going to change." She took a breath and stared up at the man he'd become. "Promise me that when you have children… that you won't hide from them."

"Right." Dean snorted, taking his hands back. He rolled his eyes and got a smack in the back of the head with her spoon. "Ow! I'm gonna drag some woman into my life and have kids when this demon wants us dead as much as we want it dead?"

"Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, there are women in this life already? That a woman who loves you would gladly take on your life and your demons?" She knew she should slow down. She was getting dizzy and she was giving Dean more information than he should have but she couldn't stop the words from tumbling out of her mouth. "Give you children to raise safely in her arms while you kill the evil that walks among us?"

"I'm sick of death, Missouri." Dean finally whispered. "It follows me. Haunts me. It wants to finish the job. Reapers are gunning for me. I can feel it."

"Dean. This life is short. Take your joys where you can find them. You used to be a happy boy. A little sad when I first met you but you missed your Mom. You were happy enough with your dad and your brother. You even told me so. You're a man now. You're not taking up with whores anymore but you're not settling down any… and you're not happy with your life."

"I don't know how to do anything else. I am my father's apprentice. All I know how to do is kill evil."

"That is not true. There is a beautifully restored and kept up piece of machinery pulling into my driveway right now. You hardly let Sam touch it. He helps but you fix it. Your daddy wasn't always a demon hunter. He was a Marine in his first real job. He was a mechanic who owned half a business. He brought you boys up, good. You have skills if not job experience. Now get going. You have a thing to kill and I have to keep my dinner from burning."

--

Liz waited her tables and tried to figure out what exactly had bugged her on the road trip home. Both boys had been less than friendly since leaving Roswell but she figured it had more to do with the hunt than her. Still, something was off to her.

Kyle greeted her with a hug. "Hey stranger."

"Hey."

"So… any news from the homeland?"

"Michael's a lying sneak." Liz bit out and moved away to bus some tables.

"This isn't news, Liz."

"He lied to me. He let me believe it was all my fault." Liz blew up. "Apparently, I'd been having visions and not remembering them but Max, my loving husband, was taking notes and hiding the truth from me. What if I had remembered that stuff? What if I could have stopped it?"

"You couldn't have." Kyle placed his hands on her shoulders. "You know now but you didn't know then. That was Max's decision. I can't say whether or not it got him killed but it's been… little over a year, Liz. You can't bring him back now."

"I know." She calmed. "I just… I had to tell someone what Isabel told me. I can't even think about Michael, right now."

"I don't blame you." He hugged her tight enough to make her squeal. "Now, I need a plot for my lady. It's got to be romantic. I think we have an anniversary coming up or something." He frowned when he glanced at her hand. "Where's the rock?"

She looked at her hand. "I… took it off to wash dishes at the Crashdown… I must have left it in the pants I was wearing. I'll find it when I do my laundry."

"You look kind of weird without it."


TBC

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