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13 August 2010 @ 03:57 pm
Somewhen I was Meant to Be 3/9  




~ Chapter 2 ~

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If you're missing I will run away,
I will build a path to you.
If you're missing I will run away,
because I find myself in you.
~~~

Something Corporate - Runaway
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April 13th, Palo Alto, Cindy's Diner

The diner was bustling with people. Students, most of them. Some men in expensive suits sat in a far corner, gossiping loudly about an arranged contract. The little bell was busy ringing every few seconds. The whole diner was alive. A living organism. People were rushing by like planets in an orbit and her little boy was one of the outer moons, small and inconspicuous but steady. His sight was familiar from where she was standing. Every day after school he came in and sat on the stool on the far end of the counter, unpacked his stuff and did his homework until her shift was over and they could go home together. A ritual as constant as the rise and fall of the sun.

His unruly mob of hair was hanging low over his ever present notebook and he was unaware of her staring at him.

She did this a lot; stare at her son. As if - even now after eight years - she couldn't believe the luck she had with this little boy. She had been seventeen when she got pregnant; her former boyfriend had been twenty. Emphasis on former. He had left her after he found out she was pregnant and when she thought about this these days, she was glad about how things turned out because sharing the love she felt for Matt was unthinkable.

The very first time she had him in her arms she looked into his eyes, still a bright blue as most baby eyes were and had known (known) what name she'd have to give him, because it was right and appropriate. Because it wasn't just his name, it was a fact. Matthew, Gift of God.

So, now she was a single, twenty-six year old Mom with a little boy who meant the world to her.

"Eat your ice cream, Matt. It's starting to melt."

"I like it like that," The boy answered without lifting his head from his notebook.

She rolled her eyes but her lips were smiling. "You're one strange little boy, you know that, Matty?" She said playfully and it sounded like a phrase she used by habit.

"I know," he replied, matter-of-factly, his little fingers still holding his pen tightly, as if it wanted to flee from his grip if he let go.

"Mom?" Matt looked up from his notebook, put his pencil aside and tilted his head.

"Yeah honey?" She kept cleaning the glass in her hand, put it aside and took the next one.

"Do you believe in ghosts?" He asked, his little forehead scrunched up in stern concentration.

"Uh...no," she answered after a moment of surprise. "No, I don't. Why do you ask?"

"Just because."

She was used to his strange questions. Random questions about things little boys shouldn't be thinking about. Albeit, thinking about ghosts was probably one of the more common questions a little boy could think about.

His questions usually came out of the blue like that. Sharp and unexpected. Randomly. And she was pretty sure they meant something for Matt. A special meaning that only he could understand. Like they were The Answers to His Universe in which only he got the whole point. Most of these questions were terrifyingly intelligent and incisive. Speckled with significance that would have made theology and philosophy teachers clap their hands in utter delight.

Matt was a shy little boy. He always said please and thank and, honestly, she was pretty sure she hadn't taught him that. He could read before pre-school even though she had never read him a single book. He knew stuff she had had to google for and sometimes she felt scared. Not of him but for him. Scared of what his knowledge would cost him and his childhood. Sometimes, she looked into his eyes and was sure there was someone else staring back at her. Someone with more than eight years on this planet.

She was woken out of her trance by a customer and apologized quickly before getting the young man his coffee--black, with one sugar.

Her shift would end in fifteen minutes and she was looking forward to some quality time with Matt and her roommate Jess. Quality time usually implied a Disney movie, popcorn and the fact that they never got to finish the movie because Matt fell asleep even before Ariel met her future husband. But since it gave her time to chat with Jess and learn the newest gossip on the world and his wife, she didn't mind. She didn't mind at all and once in a while she got the impression that Matt fell asleep on purpose just to give her time for herself.

"You want me to help you with your homework?" She asked and put the towel aside, wiping her hands on her apron. She looked around to see whether any more guests were in immediate need of her assistance, then came to where he sat and leaned on her elbows, her face only inches away from his.

"Nope, I don't have any homework today." He huffed slightly, as if it was a personal insult not to have any homework to do.

"No homework? Then what are you writing in your book?"

The butt of his pencil wandered to his lips and he chewed on it, thoughtfully. "I'm not writing."

"Then what are you doing?" She leaned closer and tried to get a look at the page he was doodling on. It was upside down but she could see the crude sketch of a face with spiky hair, big eyes and a wide smile. A necklace with a small pendant hung around the figures neck.

"Who is this?" She asked and Matt shrugged his shoulder.

"I don't know. No one."

For a "no one" the figure had some pretty expressive features and Matt's unconcern sent goosebumps over her skin.

"So, no one, huh? What's he got around his neck?" Her short clipped fingernail pointed on the blotch of ink that marked the pendant.

"I don't know. I can't make it out clearly." Another unworried shoulder raise and he turned the page to start over on a blank on. His pencil seemingly aimless drawing random signs on the white surface.

"What do you mean?" She asked. "When did you see him?"

"I don't remember. Can we go home now?" He closed his book before she could take another look and his eyes shone happily all of a sudden. She knew it wouldn't help to question him further about the man. Matt was a pro when it came to distraction tactics and his puppy dog eyes were irresistible. He just knew which buttons to push when it came to her.

"Uhm, sure. Give me five minutes, okay?" He just smiled and nodded, looking like the eight year old he was supposed to be.

She went back into the kitchen, nodding at her colleague on her way to her locker to change.

Her son already waited for her near the door, his schoolbag flung over one shoulder and one eye constantly on the entrance as if expecting someone.

"Who are you waiting for?" She asked and took the schoolbag.

"No one."

"The same no one as before?" She asked only half in joke.

"Nooo," He giggled and pushed the glass doors open. "I can't wait for no one. That doesn't make sense, mom."

"Yeah, and you know about things that make sense, right Einstein?"

"I do."

They stepped outside. The day was warm and friendly for a day in the middle of April and Jess was already waiting for them in front of the diner, a brown bag of grocery supplies in one arm.

"Hey, you two," Jess greeted them, giving her a one-armed hug then ruffling Matt's hair at which he made a grimace and tried to flatten them back against his head. It was useless. His hair had a will of its own. "Ready to spend the day with two old ladies?" Jess laughed and Matt grinned.

"You're not old."

"Always the gentleman, aren't you?" Jess said and they started to walk the two blocks to their apartment while Matt bounced between them, jumping up and down on his legs like a grasshopper.

"Did you get salt?" He wanted to know and tried to peek into the grocery bag.

"Salt?" Jess asked, looking at her friend questioningly.

"Don't ask." His mom rolled her eyes, amused. "It's his newest idea." Even though she didn't actually make the gesture one could hear the quotation marks surrounding the word idea.

"It's not an idea," Matt defended himself with a pout. "Salt is important."

"Sure. It's an important mineral and your body needs it but only in moderation, you know?" Jess explained but Matt shook his head in disgust.

"I don't want to eat it," He declared in a convincing tone. "I want to put it on the windows."

"What for?" Jess asked nonplussed while the young mother had to hide her grin behind a cough.

"It's safer."

"Safer? Safe from what?" Jess wanted to know, her eyebrows arched.

"I don't know. Bad people," Matt said and they rounded the next corner, their apartment house now in sight.

His mother's hand gripped his a little tighter and she stopped, leaning down to her son to look him straight into the eyes. "Matt, who told you this?"

"No one."

"For someone who is no one, that no one does have a lot to say, Matt." Her insides were squirming, a cold foreboding gripping her and she had no idea where it came from. Sure, her son did have a vivid imagination and a strange talent of acceptance when it came to the hardest truths in the world. He accepted things as they came, never questioning their existence and sometimes she felt scared by his lack of surprise. He never questioned facts as if he had expected them to come true right from the beginning. He seemed to know stuff. Stuff, that even she struggled to understand. But he just took it as it came without the blink of an eye. As if he either didn't care or had known all along. Sometimes she was afraid he was incapable of feelings but then, when he smiled at her with bright eyes, dimpled cheeks and a trust that took her breath away she knew, he was bubbling with feelings just under the surface. A tornado of happiness and sadness and hopes and dreams in such a little person. And something else. A longing for something he hadn't found yet. He was waiting for something special to happen.
The image of the sketchy figure came back in her mind while she rummaged around in her purse to find the key. Quickly, she opened the door, holding it for Jess who entered but Matt was still standing on the stairs, his back turned towards her, staring in concentration across the street where someone was staring back. A young man, probably a student who, from the distance, had the darkest eyes she had ever seen. He blinked and the impression was gone. Just a random guy across the street with his hands in his jeans pockets, who was passing by on his way...somewhere.

"Matt?"

He didn't react for a second, then bolted inside, breathing heavily and she followed him, carefully making sure the door was locked behind her. Twice.
Two weeks later

"You gonna be abducted by little grey men if you sit out here any longer," a grumpy voice said behind him but Dean didn't turn. He knew Bobby had been standing in the doorway for a while now. Twirling the spoon in his coffee and scratching against the porcelain wall over and over even though he never put sugar or milk in it. A waste of a perfectly clean spoon, Dean thought. Now, he could feel his old friend's gaze on his back like laser beams, burning into his flesh. "You okay, boy? Haven't seen ya all day."

Bobby stepped closer, leaning against the waist-high railing that went around the veranda of his house.

"Been busy," Dean answered.

"Sure. Busy sitting on your lazy ass."

"Where's Dad?" Dean asked and couldn't avoid the bitter note in these words, laced with accusation and resentment. And anger. Anger was a steady companion now. Anger, disappointment and something that hurt too much to be called hope.

Sam was dead. It was a fact hard to forget and Dean had seen his brother's broken body. The twisted limbs. The blood. The deadness. Not a demon in this world could change that. But there was one demon who was responsible for that and that had been a hard truth to learn. It had knocked Dean off his feet, metaphorically as well as physically and he hadn't been able to talk to his father since then. Not for a lack of trying of course but either his father was too drunk to answer or not drunk enough. He had gotten nothing out of his dad except some creative cursing and heartfelt pleading. In his long line of doing what they did, Dean had never seen his father so lost. Not even after Sam's death.

Sam's death had been a new parameter put into the equation of their life, yet--somehow--John had managed to solve it. At least for himself. It had taken him a while and countless bottles of Whiskey but he had gotten back up. Had crawled back to his feet, unsteady as if he was learning to walk anew. And just like that he had started from the scratch. Had decided to leave the past behind and look into another future. It felt heartless to think about it like that, as if he was putting Sam in a box in the basement like a disused piece of furniture fit for nothing anymore, but it had helped keeping him sane when all he did was lose things (his wife - his son - his sanity) that meant the world to him.

"I will not let them get me. Not like this!" John had announced a few months after 'The Day'. And so, he had just gotten up and had taken Dean with him. As simple as that.

Oh yes, denying was easy. Forgetting--though--was a bitch.

Dean was a pro with the denying but the forgetting was impossible. He couldn't forget the look of his father in that factory, had sensed his father's despair, his sorrow and the guilt. If guilt was wall paint, you could have painted the Eiffel tower with it. Twice. And the paint hadn't dried yet.

"I ain't his watchdog," Bobby complained but when Dean looked up at him, eyebrows raised, he answered, "Back in town. Getting supplies ready before you two leave."

Dean smirked. "Watchdog."

"Watch that mouth, son," Bobby said not without affection.

The evening was settling around them. The fading daylight darkened the mazy aisles of Bobby's junkyard in deep shadows and in the east the sky was turning into the color of blue satin. The air was biting cold. Or maybe it was just Dean. A shower of goosebumps rushed over his skin, making him shiver for a moment before he looked up towards the sky, wishing for answers to fall down like a light summer rain.

"Stop beating yourself up."

Bobby had always known Dean much better than even his father had, Dean thought bitterly. Then snorted. "Why?"

"Because this is stupid. Talk to your father!"

"He doesn't want to talk to me. He wants to..."

"Forget?" Bobby interrupted.

"No, I actually wanted to say do this on his own."

"Do what?"

Dean sighed and shook his head. "Actually, I have no idea. It's like I don't know him anymore."

"He's still your father." Bobby took the first sip of his coffee and pulled a grimace. "That coffee is a concoction of hell. Your father is going to kill himself with a heart attack one day. Me too, by the way." Dean ignored the comment, feeling his anger rise again.

"Why won't he talk to me?" He yelled and his voice bounced back from the walls of discarded metal and junk.

They retreated into a tense silence while the sun was slowly vanishing behind the treetops, bathing the veranda in a chilly twilight.

"Bobby?" Dean asked and waited for Bobby's growl before going on. "How did you know where to send us? The factory I mean?"

Bobby took a few moments to think about his answer or maybe he was just trying to remember. Probably a little bit of both.

"I didn't know about the factory. Just knew about demonic activities. Electrical storms, high atmospheric pressure and the lot."

"So Dad knew that we'd find demons?"

"He knew about the demonic activities but I doubt he knew what awaited you there. Not exactly."

"He didn't seem surprised."

Bobby snorted, amused. "Surprise? I highly doubt surprise is an integral element of your father's personality."

"I know my father. He wasn't surprised."

"So, now all of a sudden you do know your father again?"

Touché.

"You know what I mean, Bobby."

The older man sighed barely audible. It was nerve-wrecking. The thinking and calculating. The endless what if's.

"What if..."

"Don't go there, Dean," Bobby said sharply but with a distinct note of pain, both for himself and Dean. "Sam is dead. He's dead. And he won't come back."

"Don't you think I know that?" Dean countered, angrily. "I was the one who found him. I was there when we burned him on the fucking pyre. I am the one..." He stopped and Bobby knew what he had wanted say. Could almost hear it just from the way Dean's face darkened. Like the letters were still hanging in the air without finding their way into Dean's vocabulary. Responsible. But he let it go, knowing well that no words could take away the guilt. Never. "But she told us to find him."

"She was a demon. Demon's lie." It was a useless phrase. One that Dean knew already and had considered it countless times. He had even made a fucking pro and contra list and damn, the contra list was longer than his own arm. Shaking his head, Dean finally got up and started walking up and down in front of Bobby's porch. "She wasn't a demon anymore. She was human when she died. And she said..."

"I know what she said, Dean. It's not like you told me about thirty-six times already. I know."

"I won't stop looking."

"Looking for what?" The question made Dean's shoulder sag a little and his stride slowed. What was he looking for? Sam? No, impossible. Sam's body was gone, his ashes scattered on a sun filled clearing in Kansas. He was the one who turned the urn to let the remains of his little brother spray in the wind, a gray cloud of all that remained of Sam. That and the painful memories.

"Dad never stopped looking."

"Your father never stepped looking for your mother's murderer. There's a difference."

Dean stood still, his head hanging low with his chin against his chest. "Maybe. But it can't hurt to look for him even if it's his murderer I find."

Bobby didn't answer and Dean knew he had said everything worth saying. Without another word he went back into the house leaving Bobby behind with a cold coffee and an even colder dread.
It was way past midnight when Dean heard the wheels of the Impala crunching on the dirty gravel in front of Bobby's house. Quietly, he stayed sitting on the chair in the kitchen, nursing the half-empty cup of icy coffee between his hands and staring into the darkness. Deliberately he had switched off the light but the moon was full enough to brighten the inside of the room with a silver glow.

Bobby was long asleep but Dean hadn't found the peace to lie down and close his eyes, afraid the nightmares would come back after the uncomfortable talk with Bobby. He didn't feel ready to put those feelings of betrayal behind that stirred his anger towards his father more and more until he felt like he had to hit something. Or someone. That someone's boots were now making creaking sounds on the wooden veranda and seconds later the light was switched on, presenting John Winchester standing in the door. The older man quickly hid his surprise of finding his son sitting in a dark room behind a muttered greeting and put down a heavy bag on the table.

"Since you're awake you can help me get the stuff out of the car." It wasn't a question but an order. Everything John articulated was an order, one way or another. Without waiting for confirmation John went outside again and Dean put down the cup with more force than appropriate. Now was the time. He'd have to confront his father, here and now, no matter how strongly his father would revolt against Dean's little rebellion. He needed answers and he needed them now. Long enough he had pranced around his father's mood swings, hoping for a crumb of information, of answers that would never come if he didn't take it in his own hands. Dean stood up and followed his father outside.

The backseat was packed with two large bags and Dean knew what he would find. Ammunition, knives, weapons, bottles of freshly blessed holy water and cleaning oils. The car smelled metallic even when Dean was still a few feet away and he stopped, standing motionless and mirroring his father's stance.

"We're going to San Francisco. Tomorrow," John announced, his tone seeming to challenge his son to object.

"Why?" Dean replied and John wasn't surprised.

"Demonic activities." Which was more information than Dean usually got. In a normal hunt, his father would say 'Get in the car. We're leaving, ' and Dean would follow without questions. This new development was encouraging, Dean decided.

"How do you know?"

"Missouri."

Okay, slowly but surely his father's willingness to come up with facts was creeping Dean out.

"Missouri?"

"Is there an echo?" His father blurted out, not giving any signs of wanting to change the subject.

Quickly, Dean apologized "No, sorry. Sir. I was just wondering..."

"Why I'm telling you this?"

This must be apocalyptic, Dean thought, astonished by how strange it felt trying to talk to his father. Like he had a stranger in front of him after all.

"Christo!" He said, not really expecting the amused snort of his father.

"I guess, I deserved that," John replied, his face in the dark and Dean was more confused than ever.

"How come you want to talk all of a sudden?"

"I'm not talking." John's voice sounded muffled when he bent down to grab one bag and one neatly wrapped up package from the backseat. "I'm responding."

Fine, two could play that game. "So, if you're responding, respond to why did Sammy have to die?"

It was a low blow and Dean knew it but the time of fooling around with unsaid answers and pointless questions was over. Dean wanted answers and he wanted them now. The nightly temperature seemed to drop a few more grades and for a second Dean wondered if he indeed had gambled away his chance by being too bold. For a moment, John kept silent, unmoving, and Dean could hear his father's teeth grind even at the distance.

"I don't know," He finally answered after a long pause.

"Do you think I'm stupid?"

John snorted. "Yes."

"Dad!" Dean yelled. "I'm sick of it. I'm sick of being you and your ego's fucking third wheel."

"Dean!" John replied sharp. "I don't want to hear that tone, you hear me?"

Since John hadn't yet exploded, Dean managed to take a deep a breath himself and did his best to calm down.

"Sorry, Sir."

"Let's get inside. I want this conversation to be in private," John said and looked around suspiciously. And in their line of work, the walls did have ears once in a while.

Five minutes later a fresh pot of coffee was brewing and its strong smell filled the kitchen. Bobby, who had probably been woken by their loud voices in the front yard, came slurping from his bedroom, wrapped in a battered bath robe and a cap on his head.

"Do you actually sleep with that thing?" Dean wondered and was answered by a gruff 'Shut up'.

The older man sat down heavily, glancing between John and Dean. "What's with the midnight meeting?"

John's face darkened, obviously not happy with Bobby being present and Dean looked at their host apologetically.

"This is my kitchen you're sitting in." Bobby pointed at the coffee, his eyes narrowed. "And my coffee you're drinking."

Dean understood and got up to get him a cup.

"Fine. Whatever!" John barked and sat down with his own coffee.

"So, care to tell me what's going on?" Bobby coerced impatiently. "What held you up in town?"

John looked up, his face shining with conflicting emotions like a TV screen zapping channels.

"Got a call from Missouri," He grumbled. "She informed me about demonic activities down in San Francisco."

Dean knew that already and was sure John was doing that on purpose. Delaying his information. He was a sneaky bastard by the genes. Blurting out a truth, no matter which one, must be painful.

"Yeah, and this why you got your tail between your legs," Bobby snorted sarcastically and Dean was surprised his father did not jump over the table to beat their friend into a bloody pulp. "Lemme guess, she kicked your ass for something. That's her specialty." Sounded like he had experience.

"Proverbially speaking," John admitted, his anger still close to the surface. "About..." His voice faltered and he cleared his throat before speaking on. "I'm getting the close to the yellow eyed SOB."

"What about Sam?" Dean tensed in his chair, daring not to breathe out of fear it would anger his father.

"Nothing!" John said, his voice painfully empty. "This has got nothing to do with Sam, understood? This is about that SOB who killed your mother."

"And Sam!" Dean encountered, indignantly. "He killed Sam, too. Remember?"

John remained silent, evidence enough that Dean had the point.

"Why the secret keeping, Dad? Why did he kill Sam?"

"Demons lie. Sam's death was an accident," the older Winchester bellowed, getting up fast and pushing the chair away from his place.

Dean huffed, not even remotely impressed by John's bad acting. "That's bullshit, Dad, and you know that!"

"John," Bobby interrupted, addressing John but looking at Dean. "As far-fetched as this sounds, Dean might have a point here. It don't necessarily have to do anything with Sam, though." His gaze turned apologetic.

"You got nothing to say in that, Singer."

"So, but I'm good enough to provide coffee, food and a roof over your heads?" Bobby said hotly but calmed down quickly. "You are a hardheaded bastard and I can deal with that. I don't know it any differently. But what I can't deal with is that I offer help and you deny me. I didn't know Mary, but I very well knew Sam. And I loved him too." John already opened his mouth to retort something he'd regret later but Bobby went on. "This is not your personal vendetta, John Winchester. This is war and it concerns all of us, not just your personal desire for revenge. So stick your ego where the sun don't shine and stop being such an idjit!"

A tennis match was nothing against the heated argument going on between the two men and Dean almost thought they had forgotten about him. Both men looked at him in surprise when he jumped in. "What else did Missouri say?"

His father blinked once, twice. Then swallowed. His next words sounded odd, hollow and Dean was pretty sure he hadn't meant to give this information away, at all. "Find destiny, find Sam."

Heavy silence rained down on them.

"She said that?" Bobby asked, his eyebrows almost vanishing under his cap. "What else?"

John shook his head. "Nothing more. She told me about demonic activities in LA, then she said... that. The line went dead. I couldn't get her on the phone ever since."

For four months Dean had waited for his hopes to either die or be fulfilled like some fairytale wish but nothing had happened but an increase of painful frustration caused by the renewed fruitless attempts to come to terms with his brother's death almost nine years ago. And now this? He was sick of his emotions getting all roller-coaster on him. He wanted peace... or his brother. But neither was possible, not as long as he was breathing with his memories intact. So he'd just have to stick to the original plan. Hunting things, killing evil, family business and...

"...finding Sam..." He muttered under his breath, his father's eyes met his and both knew, they would either avenge their loved one's murder or die trying.

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