Title: Common-Law Divorce
Rating: PG-13 (for language)
Pairing (if there is one): John/Mary
Summary: It's about Mary and it's about Dean. It's about snapshots of meetings and leavings and families just a little more messed up than planned. AU to the series.
I have been divorcing him ever since
going into court with Mother as my witness
and both long dead or not
I am still divorcing him,
adding up the crimes
of how he came to me,
how he left me.
"I had a bad dream, Mommy," greeted her at five o' seven in the morning on November Third 1983.
Mary Winchester nee Campbell, groaned softly and grudgingly opened her eyes. Past the tangled curls of her blond hair she could see that even though she started the night alone that was no longer true. Curled up against her side, clutching a well-loved dog only pulled out for special occasions, laid Dean. Her oldest son stared at her, green eyes huge in the half light of the bedroom, looking so painfully young and small. It was just him and her in the bed, John never coming to bed last night and Sammy thankfully sleeping through the night, even if his older brother didn't believe in sleep.
Sammy's sleeping habits were a wonderful surprise after Dean's refusal to sleep through the night, ever. He still woke up at least once but he tended to limit himself to playing quietly in his room, staying out of Sammy's after the third time he accidentally woke the baby and subsequently Mary.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked the little boy. He shook his head, eyes still widened with fright but too quiet.
"Okay, honey. How about we go make pancakes instead."
Dean nodded solemnly. So they started their day, a normal day. They spent a normal day making breakfast and playing trucks, feeding and changing Sammy, the hours filled with laughter and happiness.
Her last normal day as Mary Winchester.
It was a phase. Every kid went through an imaginary friend phase.
She desperately held onto the thought every time she caught sight of Dean playing by himself. Overnight her rambunctious, outgoing, very loud son disappeared. He left behind this quiet shadow, shying away from anyone except those spending every day with him. He even hid when Mike and his wife came over for their weekly poker game.
The beginning of November changed everything.
She had stayed in bed, even when instincts screamed at her to get up, to check on her babies, to break out the salt and safeguard the home she had built out of the corpses of her past life, of murdered parents and a boyfriend dragged out heaven's hands, sulfur on her lips as she promised to open her home to a demon.
Dean stopped talking by the end of the day... or at least stopped talking to real people. She stopped taking in to play group after a couple of weeks after he stopped playing with other kids.
He sat off by himself, armed with crayons and Eddie, his favorite stuffed dog that he had just that past September he proclaimed was too babyish for him and put in Sammy's room. At least, I was in Sammy's room until Dean's silences started.
One of the other mother's had suggested at their what turned out to be the final play date, that she should take him in, whispering words like 'mental disability' and 'autism' and how he was 'just not right'.
The absolute worst part, with John getting angry and frustrated, the other parents whispering when the passed in the grocery store or on the street, Sammy fussy and teething, the worst was what she saw during the day.
During the day, when he sat by himself, Dean talked. He talked and talked, directing the conversations to empty air.
"Cas, what color do you want the dog to be? I'm gonna make it green." He giggled even as he pulled out a well used crayon. "Paper dogs can be any color you want, not just normal colors."
He talked a lot with Cas. There was also an 'Anna'. Sometimes there was an 'Uri' and 'Izzy' and 'Ernie' and none of them existed outside her son's head.
John came up behind her, a strong arm wrapping around her waist.
"Maybe Martha's right."
"There is nothing wrong with him," she hissed, turning on her husband.
"He hasn't spoken a word to anyone in over two months." He rubbed his hands up and down her arms, a poor attempt soothing. "Mary, the child psychologist isn't a bad idea. Just think it over, kay?"
It was just a phase, she repeated to herself, even as she skimmed the phone book for psychologists for Dean.
Ten months later, with a small pile of bills from three different doctors, they gave up that particular course. It didn't solve any of their problems.
Dean's latest masterpiece from kindergarten didn't go up on the fridge. She smiled as she took the silently offered paper, Dean's lips quirking in his own small grin before he wandered back to the living room and Sammy.
Mare stood next to the counter, fist clutched against her mouth to force back tears. Colored stick figures clustered on one side and of to the other stood a lone figure the one she knew was Dean, scribbles that could only be Dean's made up words labeling each one. And he looked so happy in the drawing, even though he was alone.
She didn't show John, knowing that he would say how unnatural it was, how she refused to see that her son had problems, had disconnected from the world. Mary had a terrible feeling that it wasn't that he had disconnected from the world. She feared in her heart of hearts that Dean forged a connected with the supernatural one.
She needed to get out of house, to drag Dean into the fresh air and pretend that things weren't going to hell for a couple of hours. It took a lot of coaxing and a new coloring book to get Dean to the park. John stayed with Sammy, spending time with the one year old, bonding with the younger in a way he could no longer connect with Dean.
For a good fifteen minutes she had her blessed silence. No one judging her baby, declaring something wrong. No strained silences from her husband, her marriage stumbling through one of those rocky patches that her parents never endured to her knowledge.
"He sure is getting big. How old is he?" a voice asked her. She looked up from her book, one of the many from the library about child psychology that John kept pushing on her. The man took research to a whole new level when he set his mind to it even with her refusing to take Dean back to see professionals of the subject .
A black woman sat herself on the bench without asking permission. Mary tapped a finger on the binding of the book laying in her lap, debating on answering the question.
"He's five," she relented. The woman smiled and rested a hand on her shoulder. Mary pushed down the irritation at the woman's casual invasion of her space and her one quiet moment where her problems disappeared and things looked normal.
"Now, don't you worry about Dean," the woman told her, head cocking to the side slightly. "He's just getting used to hearing and talking to those that most of us don't."
Her stomach dropped and the woman retracted her hand. Carefully she set her book to the side, leaving her hands free as she turned to face the woman.
"How do you know his name?" she growled, protectiveness flaring, straightening her spine and igniting old instincts.
"Now don't you worry your head, Mary. Most hunters know one or two psychics and we've met our fare share of hunters ourselves."
"Missouri Mosely," the woman finally introduced herself.
"Can you hear who he is talking to?" Mary forced the question past numbed lips.
"No I can't hon," and the woman sounded genuinely sorry. "Maybe he can hear ghosts or he's tapping into a specific group that I can't. I hear people that are right in front of me, not much outside that range. Everyone's abilities work a little differently."
"He can't be psychic," she denied. By the time she looked up, Missouri was gone. Dean just couldn't be because they were a normal family. She refused to be dragged back into the life she left.
Six years old and she finally gave in, needing answers that the normal world would never provide. She took a day trip to Salina, Kansas. Specifically to a security box in a bank in Salina, opened with a long untouched key, Dean the constant shadow at her side. Home schooling became their only option, with his talk of invisible people and half of his writing in a strange language that tickled a distant part of her hunter brain, bringing forth images of a dusty house with stacks and stacks of books when she was just a little older than Dean was now.
Inside the lock box laid an address book, carefully kept with her mother's beautifully precise cursive. Reverently she picked up the last remaining piece of her parents' life, a book with names and addresses and phone numbers.
She almost felt like she was cheating on John, sneaking around, talking to people that never would contact their normal little family any other day of their lives. Mary flirted with supernatural sources, teased by its mysterious and its crimes. The worst is the corruption of her oldest while she leaves her baby behind, keep him away from that world even as she plunged head first back into it while dragging Dean behind her.
Her first few calls from a pay phone outside the bank didn't yield a lot of results. Two disconnected phone numbers, one that belonged to someone new, and someone that hung up while cursing her out and threatening to hunter her down to beat the ever living shit out of her if she or any other hunter tried to contact him again.
Coins clinked into the phone as she dialed the next number on the list.
"This is Mary Campbell. Is this Bobby Singer?"
"Campbell," the man on the other end of the line repeated. "Any relation to Samuel or Deanna Campbell?"
"Yeah," she coughed out, unable to elaborate any more than that.
"Sorry to hear about their deaths, great hunters they were. Whatcha calling me up for?"
"They consulted you on a demon case back in the seventies. I remember you had a collection of books of various languages, was wondering if I could come and look at a few."
"Why?" he asked plainly. She looked down to where Dean sat on her tattered backpack, fingers clutched around a broken crayon rescued from the bottom of the bag. Even from here she could see the symbols and letters mixed together, his own language.
"It's about my son," she admitted, forcing it past the growing lump in her throat. "I think he might be psychic and I need to know what's he's been writing because it isn't English. Please don't hang up..."
They arrived back home long after supper time. She and Dean spent the dinner rush in a small truck stop with greasy burgers and mediocre pie forty-five minutes out of Lawrence.
Dean enjoyed the little day trips and was ecstatic to hear they would be taking a mini vacation up to South Dakota to visit an old friend of hers. At least that is what she told her son as he drew on the paper place mat and listened to her. The less she visually showed how much Dean's changes bothered her, the more open the little boy became. In the quiet times like this she even caught a glimpse of the happy child he once was.
A vacation sounded good even if it was to dive into a hunter's personal library and not a traditional camping trip or the ever popular trip to Disney World. In higher spirits she pulled into the driveway, parking her rusted station wagon next to the shiny blackness of her husband's car.
At the kitchen table sat John, staring at her before throwing a significant glance at the clock. She looked herself, seeing it was much later that first planned, hour hand inching towards eleven o'clock. Dean looked back and forth between his mother and father, confused at the silence, not happy hugs to greet him home.
"Honey, why don't you give Sammy a good night kiss and head off to bed."
"Kay, Mom. Goodnight," he waved, still a little confused at the tension in the room but leaving without a fuss, disappearing up the stairs and out of earshot. Bracing herself, she turned back to the man fuming at the table.
"Where were you?" he demanded the second Dean disappeared from view, most likely going into his brother's room like she suggested to say good night. Whether he went to sleep or held another late night conversation with is imaginary friends was anyone's guess.
"John, I had to do some errands to do with my parent's estate. I was a long day for me," she pleaded gently, trying to head off another argument. "Will you just..."
"No!" he interrupted. "You've been leaving here at odd times, not telling me where you're going or where you've been. What is going on, Mary?"
"It's… I… It's part of the old family business. I can't really explain it." At least, she couldn't explain it without sounding ten kinds of crazy and ending up in a mental institution to only see her boys on the occasional holiday. John glared his hard glare, leaning in a little more at an unconscious attempt at intimidation. It pissed her off so much when that macho attitude came out, demanding and unforgiving, the uglier side of her husband.
"I thought when we got married, we wouldn't keep any secrets from each other. All we had was each other and since Dean's," and he waved a hand, trying to encompass everything. "You've only been paying attention to him and have barely spent any time with Sammy. Hell, you didn't even ask if I had any plans of my own before you disappeared this morning."
God, if the worry about her family didn't eat her up, the guilt certainly would. John sneered one last time before turning away, grabbing his jacket just before he slammed the door. All she could do was stand in the middle of an empty kitchen as the Impala roared to life outside. Her husband leaving her just as easily as she left him that morning.
Seven years old and their home became the road. The night she contacted Bobby Singer wasn't the worst fight her and John had but it foreshadowed the next six months of their life. The fights became more frequent, more heated. Nothing she did could comfort Sammy, whose own temperament took a turn for the worse, terrible twos nowhere near enough of a term to describe the tantrums and the crying and the refusal to do anything. Dean started to retreat again and only came out of his shell when it was just him and Mary on the open road. It was at that point in their marriage that she and John decided to separate.
School turned out to no longer be an option for Dean. Homeschooling on the open road became their life, just her and Dean with highways stretching forever in front of them. She took the Impala, with John's twisted blessing. He probably meant to guilt her into coming back from her harebrained road trip, just her and Dean traveling the States. Not that it worked, it just provided them a haven in a sea of hotel rooms and cheap apartments and cities that looked alike and rural roads that never stayed the same.
Mary and Dean crossed the country in the Impala, hitting every corner that first year. They touched both oceans and a couple of the Great Lakes. Spent the summer in the north and the winter bouncing around the southern states. They even made an appearance at the legendary Campbell compound around the spring equinox.
After that short visit, to introduce herself as Samuel and Deanna's daughter and her son Dean, cemented some of her final decisions that she put off as they moved around. First she knew she had to return to the hunting world. Dean started to pick up on hunts, ones that his friends mentioned and he passed along. It started off small, him mentioning something he saw on TV or a newspaper article left out on the open. Now he just told her about the occasional hunt and who told him, normally Cas since his Anna disappeared a few months before the left Lawrence.
Her second decision was to keep Dean away from most hunters. He was a special boy and there were men and women out there that would thing those abilities meant nothing good, even in a child. She would keep him safe through anonymity.
Their forced nomadic life didn't bother her son at all. If fact, Dean took to it like a duck to water. On the road he chatted, hold conversations both with her and the voices only he could here, even going so far as to ask questions on behalf of those invisible friends that brought him comfort while stripping away any chance at normal.
"How do you stop a ghost from coming inside?" he asked, pencil working away at paper, wrapped up in blankets to fend off the cold.
"What's the Latin word for Light?" he asked a week later, sitting on top of a washing machine while she sorted darks from jeans, wondering if the cheap detergent she bought at the dollar store would get out the spaghetti and dirt stains. "Izzy keeps laughing whenever we watch that movie with the wizard and says that saying nonsense words don't make things happen."
"Cas wants to know what’s so special about pie. He doesn't believe me that it's the most awesomest food in the world." That particular gem happened while the two of them sat on a hotel bed, her research and his homeschool work spread around, decimated take out container on the end table. That one made her smile for days after.
"Why can't Sammy or Daddy come with us?" he asked, leaning against her as they walked away from a small church, so much like the one they used to attend back in Lawrence. That last question broke her heart a little more.
She hated big cities. Give her small towns and forests and farm fields any day of the week. Growing up she had dreams of moving to a big city. Maybe it drew her because of the differences, something outside her strange normal. Years older, if not much wiser, and she hated the crush of people. Cities made hunting harder, not many places to leave tracks, too many places to go to ground both figuratively and literally.
Then she had to end up hunting a damn Trickster in the middle of Indianapolis.
She loathed anything remotely related to pagan gods. Mary played with the idea of shoving this hunt off on Bobby but by the time she discovered the cause of the pattern of bizarre deaths she already had wormed her way into the daily life of the affected area, working a waitressing job for tips of both the monetary and informative kind. First the pattern pointed to something feral making the downtown areas of Cincinnati its twenty four hour. Getting there, doing the legwork revealed something much more sophisticated than a hungry monster enjoying fertile feeding grounds.
Mary pulled bobby pins from her bun, relieving some of the pressure. She normally didn't duck out on hunts but she stayed, even though it tempted to leave with Dean in tow. He may be eight years old, starting to help her with research and clean weapons (and if some distant part of her didn't cringe any time she saw her baby with a knife or the like) but he… he…
She froze, hand stilled on the door knob of their small first floor hotel room.
He sat on the carpet in the middle of the room, between the beds and the rickety table. Dean looked up, happy grin, sparkling green eyes, and face smeared with chocolate, their battered deck of playing cards pulled out, many cards held in his small hands. Across from him and the pile of cards sat a man, one of those hypothetical strangers bearing candy that every parent warned their children about.
"Dean," she said carefully, mindful that one had remained on the door knob, the other tangled in the loosening strands of blond hair, both too far away from her gun or small wooden stake to be of any use.
"Hi Mom," he greeted with a widening smile. " Gabe was playing a game with me till you got back."
"Dean, I want you to come here," she gently ordered him, voice calm in a way her heart definitely wasn't. Both man and boy looked at her in confusion, neither moving and inch. Dean looked between her and the man sitting next to him watching the scene with too observant amber eyes.
"Why?" he asked, gently setting the cards down.
"Yeah, why Mom?" the man, Gabe, the fucking Trickster she currently was hunting, asked, not moving an inch away from her son.
"Honey, I need you to go out to the car and grab one of your English books," Mary said plainly, code words embedded in the message to try to get him the hell away from the creature still sitting on the floor. He crinkled his nose in confusion at the order.
"He fine, Mom, not going to hurt me at all."
"Honey, Just come over here," she was panicking silently, mentally screaming that Dean would move or one of his voices would order him to do the same. He stayed still so she played her last card.
"I don't think he's human."
"No duh. He's an Angel," and if that one little sentence didn't change everything.
"More whiskey?" the creature sitting next to her asked, pouring another shot in her glass with out waiting for an answer. She picked it up and slugged it down like she had the previous two.
She slammed the glass down on the tabletop a little harder than she meant to but she allowed herself her mini freak out. A Trickster spent the afternoon entertaining her son and Dean claimed that the Trickster was really a freaking Angel. And then the Trickster in question flat out told her to start believing because he really was an Angel of the Lord.
"How… Why the hell are you even here?" Mary didn't even try for the diplomatic approach.
"Anvaa, I think Deano calls her Anna, asked me to keep an eye on the squirt before she dropped of the map. I usually just answer the radio when he calls out and the others in his little play group don't answer. This time he was worried cause his Mom was hunting something really dangerous and she wasn't home yet."
She didn't point out that he had popped over from playing with some corporate bigwig with questionable ethics to play Go Fish with an eight year old.
"So he's been talking to Angels," and if that statement still sounded weird the tenth or so time saying it out loud. The Trickster, Gabriel… Damn that was going to take some getting used to. The Angel gave her a long look, probably thinking that he'd broken the hunter without trying even just a little bit.
He shrugged before taking a sip of his own glass of whiskey. "Only a few of us can hear and talk to him. If he tries he can tune in to Angel Radio at large but it seems like he normally is limited to Earthbound Angels. I've been hanging around for centuries, keeping out of the spotlight, seeing how the other side lives. Anvaa and her garrison are the only ones stationed Earthside right now. The rest of them are mucking about in their bureaucracy up there."
"How," she shook her head. "Is he talking to angels?"
Gabriel shrugged. "Anvaa's the only one who knows. She didn't feel it was necessary to share with the class and she only had enough time to tell me about Shorty over there before the Powers That Be took care of her."
"So 'Anna' is really Anvaa. Who is 'Cas'?"
"Castiel." The name tripped a memory, the Angel of Thursday, her mother used to tell her as they read over old books.
"Uri?" she pushed. "Izzy? Ernie?"
"Uriel, Izixp , and Ern respectively. Though I have no idea why Uriel wants to talk to Deano since he hates most humans, hates slumming around with mortals in the first place."
"Why is Dean even talking to Angels in the first place?"
"That," Gabriel said, pointing a finger, "is the million dollar question."
The year Dean turned ten was a rough year for the renamed mother-son team of J. Dean and Meredith 'Mary' Campbell. Just barely a month past Dean's tenth birthday he destroyed his first ghost, first salt and burn on a cold day in early March. That turned out to be the year of his first exorcism, an exorcism carried out via a blessed touch like angels did, Dean forced to act when one of hell's finest tried to kill the two of them outside Boston. After that little surprise Gabriel started to pop in more often, the only Angel to do so even though Dean held Angel conference calls (his words) more and more often as well. The archangel even went so far as to teach the ten year old to meditate so he could tap into whatever gave him an in on the Angelic Host. Well, meditation among other things, like pranks and the finer things in life.
1989 also became the year when she would last talk to John.
Like every May Second since she picked up her discarded mantle of a hunter, she waited till Dean was in his room, talking with Cas about whatever the two of them discussed. She picked up the phone and dialed the number, fingers shaking only slightly to betray her nervousness. The phone rang on the other end, that nerve wracking wait for some one to pick up.
"Mary," a voice asked on the other end of the line. She sat down, phone cradled between head and shoulder, fingers twisting the wedding ring she still wore after three years without seeing her home or estranged family.
"How are you doing?"
"You need to stop this."
"What?" she spluttered, caught off guard.
"I don't want you calling anymore unless it's to tell us that you're coming back home."
"John," she said his name, not knowing what she was asking but she was asking something.
"Mary, I've tried." And he sounded so tired when he said that. "I've tried to be patient when Dean started to change. I've tried to be patient when you started to change and disappear leaving me and Sammy home. Do you know how much he cries when you call. He hasn't seen you in almost three years. You have to make a choice. Either you stop calling us or…"
"Or what?" she asked blood running cold, fingers twisting her ring faster.
"Come home. Both you and Dean. I want us to be together and I want you to tell me what's going on. Maybe we can work together to fix whatever it is that made you leave home."
"We can't. I wish I could tell you why but we can't come home."
"Don't call anymore," and he hung up, finality in every word. By the next time she got the nerve to call home again had had changed the number, cutting her off completely.
"I am never coming out again!" Dean wailed through the thing bathroom door in a random hotel off the strip in Vegas. Mary stifled a laugh, not wanting to embarrass the teenager on the other side of the door. Only in Vegas would they run into a small tourist shop where Dean would be tempted to touch one of the small shrunken heads displayed hanging on a wall. Vegas would be the place where you would get your wish, but not exactly what you meant. Vegas would always be the city where Dean got turned into a girl.
"Honey," she tried, laughter straining her voice. "You can't stay in there forever. We still need to get back to the shop to torch the… the…" and then Mary lost it, again. It started as a giggle that slipped past her almost iron tight control. Just one little burble of mirth. Then the floodgates burst and she stumbled to a nearby chair, laughing and letting the occasional snort past her lips.
The noise turned out to be enough to draw Dean out of his self-imposed exile, slowly cracking the door open and poking his head out. He still looked like himself, facial features barely changed from his normal male ones. Slinking out she could see that his shoulders narrowed and two suspicious small bumps pushed outward, the jeans no longer needing a belt to stay in place.
And it was those two offending bumps and the suggestion of borrowing one of her sports bras that led to Dean's dramatics in the first place.
"I hate you," he…she proclaimed, crossing arms self-consciously over her changed anatomy.
"Now Dean, I know this is a difficult time in a young woman's life…" And there was no way she could finish that sentence, not that she ever dreamed of saying it to her son, until this moment. At this moment that phrase and inevitably higher pitched shriek coming that accompanied it was priceless.
It ended up one of those hunts that hunters told other hunters around the bar, too ridiculous to be admitted to by the involved parties but somehow the details always got out. She swore that certain psychics, like the one she ran into in Illinois, the one that made Dean lose brain cells and made her want to wrap the woman in bolts of opaque fabric, people like that spied out for those events just to share on a dull Friday night. The kind of night when the spirit world was quiet, no hunts were on the table and the drinks flowed like water.
It didn't help that Dean got her revenge that evening as they tried to torch the cursed head. She spend the next week gleefully introducing everyone they came across her hippie father who hadn't cut his hair since middle school and believed in free love and didn't believe girls should be forced into society's programmed gender roles and that bras were the work of the devil.
In the end Mary and her son made a pact. They would never mention Vegas ever again. They would never speak of it or ever think a word about seeing things from the female or male perspective firsthand.
Not that it stopped Dean from making sly comments every other mile as they headed towards Mississippi despite the threats until she swore that she'd stop by a hoodoo woman that live on the way. That and her final threat shut up the teenager and led to sullen silences for the rest of the trip. She gave him a week before he started up with it again and then he'd suffer her wrath.
She was so buying him a neon pink push-up bra for Christmas this year then next time he called her 'Dad'.
Mary felt her age today. Forty didn't bother with stealth. It came barreling down at her with as much glee as Dean driving the Impala on an empty highway. This was the big year for numbers in her life. Dean was fifteen, her almost forty and today was her twentieth wedding anniversary.
Today she should have woken up in her husband's arms, spent breakfast making out just to gross out their two sons, maybe more since she had always wanted a full house and wouldn't have minded trying for a girl. She should have gone to work, John to the garage after the kids found their way on the bus. That night she should have had a lobster dinner to look forward to or maybe a quiet evening at home, saving the celebration for the weekend when they would ship the boys and possibly the hypothetical girl off to friends houses so they could spend the night together.
Instead, she sat in the records room of a courthouse in a town she wouldn’t remember past next week, shuffling through files and folders. She sat looking for the clues linking wrecked out buildings, missing pets and things that made it seem like the Big Bad Wolf was looking for taste little snacks in this out of the way community and she had no intention of playing Little Red Riding Hood or become one of the Three Little Pigs.
Courthouses were bad places for her because before she left Lawrence, they held so many good memories. She remembered each and every important one. She met John in a courthouse, before Nam and during a hunt, he going to see something about his draft papers, her and her mother looking into the past owners of a property with restless spirits plaguing the new owners.
They married twenty years ago today in a judge's office, her best friend Cindy and Mike, John's friend from the garage and future business partner, bearing witness to the union.
Instead she sat working a case, only having reheated takeout to look forward to, Dean waiting to offer a comforting shoulder, supporting and caring and trying to head off another night of her drinking the memories away into oblivion. Even if the relief of burying John's face for one night was tempting, the heartbreaking sadness the morning after never left.
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does you're garden grow?"
Mary's fists clenched without her permission, a sure sign of her frustration and something her 'guest' provoked each and every time he'd pop in to visit.
"Is there any particular reason you're here this time, Gabriel. Or are you looking for another stake to the heart."
"Oh Mary, you wound me,” he smiled, leaning against the ugly plaid couch that come with the apartment of the month. “I thought you like me. You said I was the nicest of Dean's imaginary friends."
"You are not allowed to mention anything said after you get me drunk. The time I said it I was drunk, hence it doesn't count."
He leered at her, probably remembering how much of a fun drunk she turned out to be, able to run a pool table when three sheets to the wind and still walk a straight line long after a less woman would have passed out from alcohol consumption.
"Tell me, is this some sort of twisted version of Angel flirting? Cause, Gabriel, I'm still a married woman."
"And you a very hot married woman. Sadly, I'm not here to sweep you off your feet. Thought you'd be interested in this," he said, throwing a crinkled ball of paper at her face. She caught it and unfolded the scrap, the texture too smooth to be paper but it wasn't cloth either. She read it and then read it again, taking her time the second read over.
"Gabriel," her voice came out too soft but the archangel still heard her, still stepped forward to put a comforting arm around her shoulder. The day an ex-trickster and angel made a move to comfort her would be a bad day, a very bad day.
In her hands she held a Heavenly memo, and it shouldn't surprise her that angels used memos but she picked up things from Dean. Each time he let a little nugget of information either heard over Angel Radio or from a particular angel, she remembered it. It sounded like a mess worse than a thousand governmental pencil pushers running something as vast as Heaven.
She looked down, reading the Enochian for a third time.
"Vessels. They need him as a vessel. A meat suit for an Angel. Why do they need him as a vessel?"
Gabriel looked down, guilt easily discernible by the hunching shoulders and the complete loss of humor permanently etched on his face.
"Archangels need a willing vessel and there is only one each generation or two that fits the bill, that they won't destroy by inhabiting their skin."
"But why do they need Dean?"
Gabriel looked up, more serious than she had ever seen him.
"The demons are starting to make another push to break out the big boss to turn the tide. Right now it's a stalemate between them and the hunters and angels. If they can bring out old Luci to play…" and he trailed off but it was enough for Mary to put the last few pieces together.
"Lucifer. And Dean's the vessel to whoever Heaven has that can stand up to the Devil." Then a terrible thought crossed her mind. A very terrible, horrible thought. "Dean knows, doesn't he."
"Talked with him about it before popping over here. Says that he's nobody's prom dress and that he has some ideas of his own, to stop the demons from opening the door."
"He has ideas," she repeated, teeth grinding and fists clenching again. This didn't bother Gabriel. She nodded and pulled a packet of gummy worms from somewhere, offering her one like she wasn't two seconds away from breaking out the holy oil and throwing herself a barbeque.
"You raised him to be smart, to think at things a different way from most people, hell from most hunters. He thinks that he can stop the demons, and then if not he's got a lead on Luci's own prom dress. Says he's gonna make sure that they stick together, not play into either sides hands."
Three years and Dean never told her exactly he planned after she found out Heaven's true interest in her son. All he would tell her, every time she asked, was that he had some ideas and that he'd handle it. She knew he could handle it, but it didn't mean she wanted him to carry the responsibility on his own.
So it was three years of birthdays, some celebrated, some remembered with a pain that made her wonder if she was destined for a heart attack before she reached fifty. On Sammy's birthday she's spend a quiet evening wondering how big her youngest was, what college he was going to attend, if he'd be dating or out playing sports or spending his spare time studying. John's just caused her to crawl into a bottle or the next convenient hunt and block the date from her mind. The less said about her anniversary, the better.
Maybe the pain would be less if she could share it, if she had someone to talk to that remembered how things were before hunting took over their lives.
She regretted that she couldn't share her few memories with Dean, not even daring to ask if he remembered his Father, if he remembered anything about his little brother. Hell, at this point she didn't even think he remembered his original name, having spent almost two decades as James Dean Campbell, only child to Meredith Campbell and honorary nephew to one Bobby Singer.
As a hunter he turned out to be one of the best, both on his own and as her partner. This wasn't the life she ever wanted for him but it was the only life that suited him, his strengths, his heart. He still talked to angels on long car trips when he though she was asleep in the passenger seat. He enjoyed diner food and rock, letting her sneak in The Eagles or the Beatles even when he drove. In turn she learned to tolerate ACDC and Metallica, Led Zeppelin turned out to be something they both appreciated.
Once and a while he'd turn and she'd see a hint of John in him, from the determination wrinkling his brow, to the love of all things mechanical up to and including the car. It hurt to see her estranged husband in the shadow of her son, of the idea that he'd never remember his father, never know his brother.
Then she'd remember the night when he said that maybe they should take Dean to another specialist, to an institution where strangers could take care of their seemingly crazy child, disconnected from normal reality. She sometimes wondered if she had told John the truth whether they'd still be together, the four of them hunting evil and taking names.
Then she'd also remember that John wouldn't see things from any perspective but his own. That often his way was the only path he'd follow. She regretted leaving Sammy there but at least half of her family stayed safe, even if that would never be an option for Dean.
So Mary would just shake her head and return to her book/computer/newspaper of the week and get back to her primary job, hunting the things that threatened the rest of the world. She's only acknowledge that twinge of regret when she had the time. That was the plan, until Dean told her his great plans or until the hunt took her life like it took generations of Campbells before her.
Then she received the panicked call that changed everything.
Her cell rang, the opening strains of 'Ramble on' echoing up. She smiled, glad that Dean helped her figure out the new cell phone and ring tones. The song was quintessential Dean and it would never get old when 'Heartbreaker' played every time Bobby called, even causing her to inhale her soda up her nose as one inopportune moment when he called to check up on his 'sister' and 'nephew'.
She set aside the suspiciously stained book in favor for her cell, a hand wiping away the residue coloring her fingers a disgusting shade of brown.
"Meredith," she answered, scrubbing at her hand when the brown spread to her jeans and stayed on fingertips. Even though it was Dean's phone, she made herself give out the fake name every time, anything to distance herself from Mary Winchester. Even Dean used 'JD' when ever he answered, Dean only to the closest of friends and never to other hunters. "How are you…"
"Mom, something's following us," cut off her greeting, voice tight with distress. "I need you to get out to the yard now."
"Can you dodge it?" she asked, pulling herself to her feet even as the question passed her lips.
"Been trying, thought we lost'em south of Sioux Falls but he just appeared." As Dean spoke she motioned to Bobby sitting at his desk, the two of them knee deep in research for a hunter on the east coast looking for information on Brownie deterrents and the like.
"Bobby!" she called as she stumbled her way out of the house, the toes of her walking boot catching on a stack of books and almost tripping her up. She pulled one of the shotguns off the wall, Bobby's heavy tread a comforting sound behind her. It didn't take much to pass her and get outside first, not that it was a surprise with her bum leg courtesy of a poltergeist a month ago.
Their last conversation hadn't raised any concerns. Dean had mentioned picking up a friend, a kid of another hunter, who he came across hitchhiking and offered a ride and a couple hot meals before getting him to a bus station. It was such a normal thing to do and half the time he didn't even need a reason to stop and help somebody, that was the type of man he was. He hadn't expressed any concerns about the friend in question so Mary had written it off, figuring they'd stop in Sioux Falls before Dean headed out to the junkyard by himself.
Obviously that plan failed, since she was stumbling out to the porch, Bobby already positioned to cover the long driveway as the sound of racing engines filled the air. The Impale drove full tilt into the lot, gravel and dust flying and hitting the undercarriage in a way that would have Dean cursing a blue streak the next time he tuned up his baby. The car swung around towards the back of the house, passing the two older hunters on the porch without slowing, knowing that they'd both protect Dean's nameless charge just on his word alone.
She hoped whoever was chasing her baby had a really good excuse because it would be a tossup who would take the most damage of his stalker's hide, Mary for endangering her son, Bobby for disrupting their time sensitive research, or Dean who would take an equal amount of damage out of his purser's 'undercarriage' for the damage, real or not, done to the Impala.
Not twenty seconds behind them a large truck rumbled up the drive, moving almost as fast as the Impala. Bobby aimed up into the air and fired, the gunshot ripping through the air. The driver slammed on the breaks, throwing even more road dust up into the air. The truck jerked to a stop and she could hear the driver's door open, the massive bulk of the truck protecting whoever climbed out.
"You're on private property. Turn your ass around now or the cops will be hauling you in filled with a couple extra pounds of buckshot if you get the notion of staying." The figure on the other side of the truck moved a little before calling out, some part of a prayer in Latin that she barely remembered but made Bobby swear under his breath. He shot her an unreadable look before he turned his attention to the man that chased her son into the lot.
"John Winchester, you'd better have a damn good excuse for showing up," Bobby hollered, shotgun not lowering an inch. Mary jerked to a stop. She hadn't heard from her husband in over ten years but as he rounded the truck, hands up and empty, she could see the man she had married under the salt and pepper hair and the beard. She thought he was still in Lawrence, still fixing cars, not chasing her son across county lines with all the attitude that screamed Hunter.
"You have my son so I have a damn good excuse," John shot back at Bobby, not paying her any attention. He probably couldn't see much of her from her spot on the corner of the porch covering the drive as it wrapped around to the back of Bobby's house.
"How does he know that?" she whispered to Bobby, horrified that he'd come looking for Dean. Bobby shook his head, not knowing the answer either. Both were saved from responding to John because a new voice broke into the conversation.
"Dad, I told you I was leaving. I'm eighteen years old and can make that decision for myself."
"Sammy, damn it. I told you to get upstairs," Dean called behind her. The screen door opened behind them, two sets of feet stepping onto the creaking porch.
"No, I'm not letting him control me anymore, Dean," the young man that came through the doorway first explained, pushing past her son to get back on the porch. "He doesn't own me and can't make me do a damn thing anymore to stop me."
Mary turned and got a glimpse at the boy, now a man, she hadn't seen since leaving Lawrence. She looked up and up at the kid, tall with messy hair and a wet behind the ears look. He stood a couple inches taller than Dean, all leanness when Dean was compact muscle. And he looked so much like his father that it hurt.
"Sam, get in the truck," John ordered, oblivious to the woman freaking out on the porch and Bobby cocking his shotgun.
"No. I am going to California, not staying to be your perfect little soldier in this war against whatever took Mom and my brother."
"What?" she blurted out.
Everyone in the yard turned towards her and suddenly Dean was pushing past the giant to grab her arms as her legs gave out.
"Mom?" Dean asked, fingers find the pulse on her wrist even as he waited for her to answer. "What's wrong?"
"Shit," Bobby cursed. "Get her and your friend in the house. I'll deal with Winchester."
Dean pulled her up and the she was bracketed on either side, seeing her two sons together for the first time in forever. She didn't want to leave John outside, alone with Bobby and his wrath but her son dragged her in, getting her into the study and the recliner she had claimed as her own. Dean settled her in as the other man disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a glass of water and an embarrassed smile.
"Hey Mom, this is Sammy. Not exactly how I planned on the two of you meeting."
"Hi,” she replied faintly. The two hovered over her, not that she blamed Dean. His mother did not just collapse on the front porch unless great bodily injury or ghosts were involved.
“How long have the two of you known each other?" she asked trying to distract them, taking the glass of water from the boy's hand even as the shouting escalated outside. The two of them looked up at each other, a wealth of information passing back and forth and not paying attention to the heated words from outside.
"I've known Dean on and off for about five years," Sammy explained. "Met him when my Dad left me with Pastor Jim Murphy for a summer."
"Met him while I was in the church," Dean added, probably leaving out the bit where he had stopped only for holy water and a chance to sit in the sanctuary to listen in on Angel Radio since people normally left a person 'praying' alone. The blessings and prayers saturating the church just boosted the signal. Or, at least that was how Dean explained it one night over Chinese noodles and Sweet Sour chicken.
"We've kept in touch ever since," Sammy finished. "I didn't know who else to call after I left home so I called Dean and he offered to drive me to where ever I needed to go."
"Thought you'd picked him up hitchhiking?" she asked, finding her voice. Dean shrugged, not sorry in the least for lying.
"Do you know my Dad?" Sammy asked, eager and worried and not knowing he was talking to the woman that gave birth to him even if she didn't raise him.
"Yeah," Mary whispered, faded memories of a small courthouse and a guy, smile that drew you in and eyes that kept you focused, forgetting why you needed the death records of a Mildred Valvetter in the first place. She remembered their first date, their first fight, the first time he met her outside her parents' house. She thought every day of the moment she told him she was pregnant, and that she was pregnant again. Every moment he walked away was etched in her mind, of the phone calls both good and bad.
And this next moment would joint the rest. She looked up, Dean crouched next to her, a hand resting protectively on her shoulder. Sammy Winchester stood up behind her, drawing up in anger at the man in the doorway.
All Meredith 'Mary' Campbell, formerly Mary Winchester and Mary Campbell before that, could do was sit there. She looked up, a smile finding its way on her face even and tears threatened. She looked him over, the wrinkles and gray hair new, the flannel shirt old and faded, the wedding ring still on his hand even as its matching ring rested on her own.
Mary never shied away from the difficult things of life. She stood up, Dean's hand falling away as she faced the only man she'd ever love even though he broke her heart almost as many times as she broke his.
Fanbingo squares: Genderswap, Secret Identity, The Classics Freestyle (Angel Radio Telepathy), The Way We Were: Pre-Canon, Rescue Me: Damsels and others in Distress, Habits and Routines, Courtship Rituals, Getting Physical: Touching, Hugging and Cuddling, Wild (Relative Values: Families), Woke Up in Bed Together, Drunkenness and Inebriation, Mutation/ Physical Transformation, Alternative Universe Freestyle (Canon AU), Vacations and Holidays, Fairy Tales and Folklore, & Secrets and Lies.