glasslogic: (IAE One Moon)
[personal profile] glasslogic
Title: In the Low Places
Author:
[livejournal.com profile] glasslogic

Word Count: 2k
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Summary: Vampires, angst, endings. This won't make much sense if you aren't familiar with In Arcadia Ego and The Crossroads of Eden. This takes place about ten years, more or less, after the last story.
Author's Notes: Brought to you by the general awesomeness of
[livejournal.com profile] elusive_life_77, [livejournal.com profile] vodou_blue, and [livejournal.com profile] saraid! As always, and remaining errors are entirely mine. To do the title banner for this timestamp I used part of the original IAE main banner (and I was in a hurry so it's a little messy) created by the utterly amazing [livejournal.com profile] inanna_maat!





Dean didn’t like hospitals. The bright lights, harsh odors and beeping monitors were an assault on his senses everywhere he turned. The faint miasma of death wasn’t a problem, the almost tangible layer of desperation that coated the place was. His predatory instincts didn’t mind a little fear and panic with a meal; it was intrinsic to the basic nature of the hunt-- but the pulse-pounding excitement of a chase had nothing to do with the kind of sick hopelessness that hung around the bleached corridors and poisonously antiseptic rooms. He flattened out against an industrial green wall to avoid a bed being wheeled down the corridor and fished a scrap of paper out of his pocket to check the room number again.

The place was a freaking maze.

When he finally found the right section, it was quiet compared to the bustle that even in the dark hours of the morning consumed the rest of the building. What voices there were, spoke in low tones behind closed doors. The place was somber, almost oppressive, with its sense of endless waiting.

He didn’t bother knocking. This patient wasn’t likely to have any visitors, and the low, labored breathing of uneasy sleep confirmed there was only one person inside. Dean slipped into the room soundlessly then propped a chair under the handle to prevent any interruptions. It was doubtful anyone would be around in the brief span of time he planned to be visiting but he survived by minimizing risk where he could.

As much as he could. But there were other things in life. And death.

The room was dark; the only lights a dimmed bulb just inside the doorway and the electric blues and greens of the monitoring equipment by the bed. Dean grabbed the chart off the wall. Mr. Glenn Hughes did not have a hopeful prognosis.

“Are you just going to lurk in the doorway or are you going to come in?” a raspy voice asked from the bed. Dean wasn’t surprised he’d been noticed, almost would have been more surprised not to be. He hung the chart back up and dragged the other chair to the bedside.

“Glenn Hughes?”

“I never liked him much.” John Winchester’s dark eyes were the liveliest thing about his sunken features. “Did you bring Sam?”

“Sam’s sleeping.”

“Like in the car?” John asked without much expectation. Lightening cracked outside the window, thunder rolling through bones and building as if they were all one substance, and both inconsequential to the weather raging outside.

“Like in the ground.”

John closed his eyes but didn’t say anything.

“The timing worked out. I didn’t think you’d want him to remember you like this, not considering the lengths you went to making sure there was nothing tying you to this identity.”

“No, this isn’t… what I’d want him to remember. How did you find me?”

Dean shrugged. “I’ve been doing this a long time. You’re a problematic complication I wanted to keep tabs on.”

“Not for much longer,” John said hollowly.

“No,” Dean agreed. “Not for much longer.”

John pulled one arm free of a tangle of wires and lines and fumbled for a plastic glass of water on a bedside table. His hand shook so badly he nearly knocked it over. Dean rescued the glass and held the straw patiently where John could use it.

“Better?”

John nodded and cleared his throat. “Did you come to gloat?”

“No.”

“Why not? You’ve won.”

“I won a long time ago, John. It was never that kind of fight.”

John nodded in grudging acknowledgment and lapsed into silence. Talking was obviously an effort.

Dean looked around the room. There was no hint of anything personal in the cramped confines. No pictures, no flowers, not even anything to read.

Just the man, waiting.

“So what was the idea here? Glenn Hughes dies trapped like a cornered rat in a hospital room and John Winchester just kind of… drifts into hunter legend? Another statistic, vanished into the night?”

John gave a weak shrug. “Seemed better. How hunters are supposed to go out. Not like this.” He gave a half-hearted yank at a handful of the wires, even the frustration muted beneath the weight of drugs and pain.

“Did you even tell Singer?”

John’s flat gaze was answer enough, the expression so familiar that the corner of Dean’s mouth quirked into a smile despite himself.

“It might not be too late, you know.”

“Too late for what?”

“To be a statistic. To do it right.”

John stopped breathing for a moment, then exhaled heavily. “Does Sam know that you’re here?”

“Sam doesn’t know anything about any of this. As far as he’s concerned you’re out in some godforsaken outback stalking whatever nightmare is flavor of the week. This is just between you and me.”

“What are you going to tell him when he finds out?”

“He’s not going to find out. Your disappearance can be as much a mystery to him as it will be to everyone else. But if he does,” Dean continued when it looked like John was going to speak, “you don’t think he’d rather know you didn’t suffer? He’s still your kid; he still cares. Nothing I’ve done has changed that.”

“And when he wakes up? When he crawls out of the ground?”

“He’ll still be Sam,” Dean said quietly. “I didn’t take up with him because I wanted him to be someone else. He’ll always be your son, with all the screwed up background, selective morals and dramatic bitchiness he came with. But there won’t be one goddamned trace of the demonic in him. I absolutely promise you that. I’ll take care of Sam. The only thing you need to worry about is deciding how you want to go out. Fast and painless or slow and--” Dean motioned towards the half dozen bags on the I.V. stand.

John closed his eyes and swallowed hard.

“It’s your choice,” Dean said. “I just came to offer it. You can sit here and rot for the rest of whenever if you want. No skin off my teeth.”

“For Sam’s sake?” John asked, smiling grimly. The first time he’d smiled since Dean had entered the room. Probably the first time in months.

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. “For Sam.”



~~~~~



The crescent moon hung low in the October sky when Dean casually hopped the cemetery fence. The air was perfectly still, the atmosphere thick with possibility of approaching rain. He hoped to be far away by the time snow considered falling later in the year, but he wasn’t the master of the schedule. Things would happen as they did.

He was quiet enough picking his way between tombstones to take almost anything by surprise, but the woman seated on a graveside bench was obviously waiting.

“Lenore.”

“Took you long enough,” she greeted him.

“Had to lay a few back trails. Pest control, other crap.” Dean paced around the fresh grave a few feet away from the bench. There was a headstone, but it was decades older than the recently turned dirt suggested. Almost nine months had barely been enough time to settle the soil.

“I was surprised when you asked me to do this.”

Dean knelt on the loose dirt and let his senses expand until he was sure everything was right in his world. “He trusts you. I didn’t think there was much chance of him surfacing before I got back, but if he did, I wanted there to be someone he trusted waiting.”

“Trust isn’t good for much when you’re starving and unstable. He’s what you are, not what I am. I don’t know that I would have been able to stop him from doing something… unfortunate.”

Dean stood up and brushed the dirt from his jeans. “You know how to handle baby vamps. If anything, he’ll be weaker than you’re used to. He won’t be really dangerous ‘til he gets steady on his feet.”

Lenore’s eyes narrowed. “You could have told me that before you left. I’ve been sitting here quietly panicking.”

“Kept you on your toes, didn’t it?”

Lenore’s irritated look was answer enough.

“Any problems?”

“No. Everything’s been quiet around here.”

“Go figure.”

There was a long silence in the graveyard. "Are you lying to me?" Lenore asked quietly.

"Maybe," Dean shrugged. He gave her a winsome smile that raised the hair on the back of her neck. "We get a little restless for a few days before we actually surface. Shifting around. You're sensitive enough to notice movement and would have called me, which is all I really needed. There wasn't a lot of chance you would have had to handle him alone."

Lenore hadn't expected an apology and was almost surprised to get that much explanation. She glanced at the tombstone on the fresh grave. “This seems like a risky place to do this.”

Dean followed her glance. “It had to be his native soil. It’s not an exact science. He was born two blocks that way and she lived here the whole time she was pregnant; can’t get much more native than that.”

“She died here too,” Lenore said, a hint of sadness to her voice.

“Yeah, well, if she’s still hanging around I thought she might like to help keep an eye on him.”

“I’m surprised he was willing to let you put him here.”

Dean snorted. “By the time he went in the ground he would have let me put him in a landfill. It’s not a rational stage; sharing a plot of ground with mom barely even registered. She's not using the top five or so feet anyways." He sighed. "I’m sure I’ll hear about it later, though.”

He cocked his head suddenly, listening to something Lenore didn’t hear. A cold wind blew between the gravestones, kicking up dried leaves and rustling the grass. She shivered, feeling mortal for the first time in decades.

Dean smiled absently, focused on something she couldn’t detect.

“Is it now?” Lenore asked, glancing down at the still dirt. Whatever Dean had promised, she felt no hint of life coming from the dark soil.

Dean sprawled out on the bench next to her. “It’s… soon. Very soon. Good timing; if he’s not going to need the plot anymore, there might be another use for it. Shame to put all that digging to waste.”

“You have another body you want to bury in Mary Winchester’s grave?”

Dean shrugged and leaned his head back against the battered wood. “No, but I've made arrangements to acquire one, annonymously, when the coroner's done poking at it.”

Silence wound its way through the cemetery again, a peaceful place inhabited only by the dead.

“Are you going to tell Sam?” Lenore finally asked softly, as if other ears might already be listening.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“He’s going to have other things to worry about for awhile.”

“He’ll have questions, eventually.”

“When eventually comes, he and I can revisit the issue. You think he’ll object?”

She considered that for a moment. “No, it seems fitting. It’s a better end than most hunters get.”

“Being laid to rest with a loved one is a better end than most hunters deserve.”

“This one was different?”

“This one was family. Sam’s family.”

“And Sam’s family is your family?” Lenore asked with a slight smile.

“Don’t make me regret not killing you,” Dean grumbled. “Don’t you have a flock to rush back to?”

“Yes.” Lenore took the hint. She stood and gathered her backpack and a blanket from the ground where she had waited out her vigil. “You’ll let me know how everything goes?”

“I’ll make him call you when he can.”

Lenore nodded. She gave the rough plot one last glance and then vanished into the night. Back to her own responsibilities and problems.

This one was uniquely Dean’s.

Another breeze drifted through the cemetery, carrying hints of rose, lavender and the crisp bite of autumn. Dean sat patiently, listening to things unseen and planning for the future. Beyond his feet, in the loose earth of an old grave, something began to stir.

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