Season Four

Episode Ten: Dark Side Of The Sun

By Kittsbud

Part One

 

Dean rolled over on the huge bed and gave a loud snort, blinking as the early morning sun stung his eyes through the room’s shades.

Sleeping here was almost like dropping from hell into heaven – almost. But then, maybe in his line of work that phrase was a little too close for comfort.

After the mayhem of Stull, though, the Winchesters couldn’t ask for a better place to recover and lick their wounds, both physical and mental.

The vast and extremely luxurious log cabin belonged to the Williams family, and while Kyle, their priest friend, didn’t exactly have exclusive rights to its use, he had been able to offer it to them for a month of relaxation.

A month here to Dean, Sam and John, would seem like a year, maybe two.

After all the seedy motel rooms they’d been subjected to over the years, it was like sleeping in a palace. A huge TV, a mammoth refrigerator filled with beer, a hot tub. Heck, Dean may never want to hunt again if he could just find a few local gals to share it all with.

Of course, that was in the little fantasy world that lived inside his head sometimes. Right now, in the real world, the Winchester family was hurting. Yes, they’d pulled off a miracle and saved their dad from the church in Stull, even that bitch Mia had been dealt with, but every victory had a price.

After just eight days at the cabin, Dean already knew what that price was.

John was acting perfectly normally, but every morning when Dean woke and climbed from his bed, he expected Sam to come tell him their dad was gone and all that was left to prove he’d ever been here was one of his customary goodbye notes.

Somehow, in fact, Dean already knew this was the day it would happen.

Their father had been subdued the previous evening, had been drinking heavily, like his mind had finally given in to what had happened to him. John masked it well, but Dean could see the pain in those deep eyes, and he could hear the ever-so-slight crack in that cavernous voice.

And if there was one thing John Winchester wouldn’t allow to happen, it was for his sons to see him anything less than one hundred percent. He was a hunter, a fighter. He needed to always be strong for them. A leader, no matter what.

As his brother’s gangly shadow fell over the bed, face scrunched in anguish, Dean sighed.

“Dad’s gone, right?” Dean pulled himself up, the words coming out almost automatically.

Sam’s face changed to one of uncertainty. “What? You knew?”

“Let’s just say I’ve seen him that way before. After Mom…”

Sam let the small paper note drop from his fingers and Dean could tell his brother was torn between anger and sheer hurt.

They’d done so much, been through so much to save John, and now they’d lost him again. The only evidence that he’d ever been here just a few words scrawled on a piece of paper.

“All that talk about spending time with us? That was all just a bunch of crap, wasn’t it?” Sam’s brow furrowed and he spun around abruptly.

Was that moisture in his eyes?

“Sammy, we can’t imagine what he’s been through. Hell, we went through enough ourselves just trying to get his ass back…this is something he has to get through alone. Put yourself in his place.”

Sam chewed on his bottom lip. “I have done, and I’d want my family, Dean.”

“Yeah, well, you’re not Dad. He’s a soldier, not a wuss college boy.” Dean stopped. This was becoming about them, and it shouldn’t be. “Look, Dad needs time. We have to give him that.”

Sam turned back and grimaced as if the suggestion was more than painful. “What happens when there is no more time, Dean? What happens when he does one of these vanishing tricks and we never see him again? We never get a chance to say things that need saying. We never…” His words trailed.

“It’s never gonna happen.” Dean ran a hand through the front of his hair.

“How can you be so sure?” Sam huffed.

“Because we won’t let it. We just won’t, alright?”

Sam half-heartedly nodded, but he didn’t have chance to argue further. Outside, somewhere down the small lane that led to the cabin, a car horn hooted.

It was a pathetic hoot, well suited to the ancient Ford it belonged to.

“Break out the silver, Sammy. Looks like we got visitors!” Dean sighed with relief at the chance to change the subject, if only for a short while. Whatever they thought, whatever they wanted, ultimately, John’s life was his own.

He’d see them again, maybe when he was ready to talk about what had happened.

If, he was ever ready to talk, then they would be ready waiting for him.

Twenty Minutes Later
Williams Family Cabin
Silver Creek
Montana

Dean watched Kyle Williams fumble with his hands for the hundredth time and new the little priest was making excuses for being here.

Whatever Kyle had come for, he’d abruptly put it on hold the minute he’d found out about John’s absence.

Instead, he was blathering about old cases they’d worked, how the church was changing, anything, but what was actually troubling him.

And something was troubling him. Kyle was pretty useless at hiding his emotions. He just had too many tells. He fidgeted with his glasses, he stammered at least once in nearly every sentence, and on top of that, he couldn’t stop looking at the cabin floor as if he daren’t look either Winchester in the eye.

Dean poured their old friend another cup of black coffee and sat on the edge of the dining table in front of him. “Okay, Moses, spill it. You didn’t drive all the way out here just to talk crap. What’s eating at you?”

Kyle gulped, nervous as ever. “I…I really didn’t want to bother you with my own pathetic little problems after all you’ve been through…”

“But?” Sam interjected.

Kyle squirmed. “No really, I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“A whole lotta nothing that’s got you twitching like you sat on a nest of fire ants with attitude. C’mon, dude, you know us better than that.”

Well,” Kyle strung out the word, his beard ticking slightly at the edge of his mouth. “I have this priest friend who lives down in a small rural Mexican town. I haven’t heard from him in a while and was wondering if your father had any colleagues in the area who could check on him…”

“Check on him? You want hunters checking out a priest buddy just because he hasn’t been in touch?” From Sam’s expression, it was obvious he thought there was more to it than that.

So did Dean. “You think there’s some kind of supernatural problem south of the border?”

“I…I don’t really know,” Kyle stammered again. “Father Alvaro hasn’t answered any of my calls or letters for weeks. It’s so not like him. And the last time I spoke to him…” The priest stopped mid-sentence.

“He mentioned something weird going on,” Sam prodded as he took a sip of his coffee.

“Not really mentioned anything, no. Let’s just say he was acting, well, rather strangely. Not quite himself.” Kyle sighed and sat forward on his chair. “I’m sorry to even ask when you have so many problems of your own, but do you know of anyone who could check that he’s…”

“That he’s still Father Alvaro and not some black-eyed skank?” Dean didn’t mess with niceties. Kyle wouldn’t want him too, he knew the man well enough to know that.

“I’m not saying he’s possessed, but, well, after some of my more recent experiences with you two, I can’t rule anything out. It could simply be stress…”

“But you don’t think so, or you wouldn’t be here,” Sam pointed out, picking at a piece of cold toast absently as if he had too much already buzzing through his head without the extra burden Kyle was offering.

“I don’t know what to think. If you know anyone who is capable of finding out, or just a contact number, I’d be grateful.”

“No need, Moses.” Dean slapped Kyle on the shoulder so hard he was jarred forward and winced. “Sammy and I just lost our one reason to be holed up in this joint of yours. I guess that means we’re available for business, huh, Sasquatch?”

Sam’s expression said he’d rather be hitting the road after their father than some stressed out priest, but he smiled at Kyle anyway and nodded his head.

If Kyle noted the younger Winchester’s reluctance, he didn’t show it. “No really, I couldn’t ask it of you.” He swallowed hard.

“You’re not asking, we’re telling.” Dean stole the last piece of wholewheat toast from the plate in front of his brother and grinned. “On one condition. You buy breakfast on the way out. I think your family eats way too healthily for me. I couldn’t find one burger in your freezer, man.”

Kyle couldn’t help but chuckle. “I think I can manage that,” he agreed. “Just don’t expect me to partake.”

Dean patted his stomach playfully. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Moses. Gotta save all the greasy good stuff for me!”


Ciudad Del Maldecido,
Mexico,
A Few Days Later…


Sam watched as his brother drove the Impala down the dusty Mexican roads, wondering just what they were doing here so soon after Stull. They should have stayed at the Williams cabin longer. Dad should have stayed with them longer.

Why did the should always turn into the never with the Winchester family? Why did John always feel a need to shut his kids out?

Sam suspected that this time it was because of what he’d seen in the alternate universes. How did a father live with seeing his youngest son do terrible things? Because that was what Sam assumed had happened.

It was a simple fact that in some of those realities Sam had been a bastard. He’d met one such version himself, so it would be no surprise if John had too.

Of course, there was just as much chance their father had seen Dean doing awful deeds, or maybe Dean or Sam dying or…

The possibilities were endless, and until John actually opened up, they’d never really know.

They’d never be able to help him.

And what were they doing instead of finding him and actually trying? They were cruising down Mexican dirt tracks looking for a priest who was probably just too stressed and too busy to answer a few calls from a fellow cleric.

But Kyle isn’t that shallow. He’s been with us on hunts. He must sense something is really wrong down here. Sam appreciated Kyle’s intuition, he had to – the priest was a fellow psychic who had visions just as scary as his own. So, a priest acting strangely doesn’t make him possessed…

“Sammy, that bug crept a little too far?”

“Huh?” Sam jumped a little on the bench seat, startled slightly by his brother’s sudden question. He’d been too deep in thought to expect it, and now he felt an ass because he had no clue what Dean was talking about.

“You know,” Dean chuckled. “That bug that’s obviously been up your ass since we left Montana.”

Sam puffed out a deep breath of air. “Sorry, I just can’t help thinking about Dad. About how we failed him again.”

“I know,” Dean simply said, surprising Sam. “But all we can do until he’s ready to talk is hunt. Hell, it’s all we know how to do.”

“I guess,” Sam admitted as they bounced over a pothole, passing a dusty sign announcing their arrival in town. “It never makes it feel better, though.”

“Maybe a little sun on our bones will do that. With any luck there’s squat happening down here and we can catch a few rays, then go find Dad. I’m kinda hoping he contacts Bobby or maybe Joe Bearwalker before too long.”

Dean slid down his side window and slowed the car as they approached a corner with a small, wizened man standing aimlessly on its sandy tip.

“Hey there.” Dean smiled. “We’re looking for the only church in town. Father Alvaro ring any bells?”

The man’s face crumpled into a smile in return and he suddenly looked like a shrunken piece of fruit more than a person. “Si,” he chirped happily and pointed towards another side road. “You can find Father Alvaro down that street, but he only rings bells on Sundays…”

Dean scowled and Sam knew his brother wasn’t sure whether the man had genuinely misheard him, or was being sarcastic.

In the end, Dean simply nodded, slid up his window and pulled away.

“Dude, he was creepy.”

“No, Dean, he was just a local who misunderstood your question. Seemed pretty pleasant to me.”

Yeah?” Dean’s frown deepened. “Well he seemed like a human version of Speedy Gonzalez to me. Trust me, the guy knew what I meant.”

Sam shook his head. “And I thought I was the one having a bad reaction to Dad leaving.” He crossed his arms and watched more dusty pavements go by. This was going to be hard work.

Up ahead, as they passed over the brow of a hill, a small church appeared. The place was white and looked ancient, like villagers here had constructed it over a century ago.

Dean whistled. “Man, that thing would be at home in a friggin’ Spaghetti western.”

“Like the place better now it makes you think of Clint Eastwood?” Sam chuckled as Dean pulled the Impala over to the verge to inspect the tiny church further.

“Nope,” Dean groused haughtily. “The whole town gives me the creeps. As in, I don’t wanna stay one damn night here alone kinda creeps.”

Sam looked taken aback. It wasn’t like Dean to judge a place so quickly. They’d met one local, and seen Father Alvaro’s church from a distance at best. What could make his brother so edgy, so fast?

“Are you serious?” he eventually asked.

Dean stuffed his hands in his pockets and began walking up a pebbled path to the church. “Damn straight I’m serious. I got a bad feeling about this one, Sammy, and I’m not getting caught with my pants down.”

“Not unless there’s a hot senorita close by, at the very least,” Sam mumbled under his breath as he trailed behind.

Dean apparently heard the comment and scowled back at him. “I’m not kidding here. In fact, once we’ve talked to the priest, I’m heading the Impala right back outta town and sleeping in my baby tonight. No local motels for me, dude.”

Sam looked amazed. “What? You’re scared Anthony Perkins is hiding behind the shower curtain?”

“Because I’m scared maybe something is hiding behind the shower curtain.” Dean huffed, apparently not seeing the funny side of his brother’s comments. He was definitely wired, but Sam couldn’t figure out why. Not even John’s disappearance should have made him this suspicious.

“So are we going inside,” Dean prompted. “Or are we standing here all day talking about my apparent paranoia?”

Sam reached out a long gangly arm and grabbed the archaic wooden church door, tugging back until it creaked open. The inside of the little basilica smelled musty as they entered, the overall appearance of the place being more like a barn than a house of God.

“Jeez, are we sure Jesus wasn’t born here? ’Cause it sure looks old enough…” Dean whirled, doing a one-eighty of the structure.

“Dean! That’s blasphemy,” Sam warned.

“What’s God gonna do, sue me?”

Dean started as a terrified scream echoed from the bowels of the church, and for a moment Sam was pretty sure his brother believed he was being reprimanded for his profanity. He blinked, hesitated and then made a dash for the sound as it came again.

Sam followed close behind, both brothers instinctively drawing their weapons.

The scream was guttural this time, as if the perpetrator was giving in to whatever was assailing him. The rasping noise seemed to come from behind a thick velvet curtain, and as the Winchesters tore through it, it became apparent that this was the attending priest’s quarters.

“What the..?” Sam skidded to a halt as he realized what was happening, the surprise on his face echoed by his sibling.

Father Alvaro seemed to be being attacked – but not by a human, by an ethereal form that manifested itself in a similar shape and cloudy appearance as a “suitless” demon.

Except this thing wasn’t black. It wasn’t even grey.

As the brothers stared on, they had to shield their eyes from the being, its white effervescent glow was so intense. The edges of the creature appeared even more iridescent, their shimmering, pulsing tendrils oozing with a deep yellow intensity.

“Sammy, that has got to be the weirdest demon I have ever seen.” Dean gulped, and then suddenly seemed to remember exactly why he was here.

He stuffed a hand into his jacket and fumbled inside as the entity engulfed the flailing priest.

“It’s going for his mouth and nose! Classic demon style!” Sam urged his brother to hurry, but other than his words or encouragement, there was little he could actually do to help.

Dean finally tugged out the angel feather from his pocket and paused, amazement crossing his features for a second time in one day. The feather should be bleeding in such close proximity to a demon, but there was nothing.

In fact, if anything, the plumage was causing a strange, tingling sensation in Dean’s palm like static electricity.

Dean! Hit the thing with the feather!” Sam was frantic as the entity pushed further at the feeble priest, testing Alvaro, wanting to get inside him to use him as its puppet.

When Dean still appeared dazed, simply staring at the feather, Sam pulled a short sawed-off from under his jacket and fired. Rock salt wouldn’t hurt the thing, but it might piss it off enough to leave the priest alone.

The plan worked just a little too well.

Before he could even gauge if his shells would glean a response, Sam felt something pick up his body and throw it backwards.

The sensation felt wrong somehow, somehow a softer tackle than he had grown to expect from Lucifer’s hellspawn. His spine argued differently as it hit a pew and he lay momentarily winded.

“Sammy, would you just stop getting tossed around like that? It’s getting kinda old…”

Sam blinked and wanted to give a suitably sarcastic response, but somehow he just couldn’t take his eyes from the fleeing demon creature as it vanished through the holes in the tiny church roof, dissipating into the warm Mexican sun.

“Are you two gentlemen alright?”

The voice was soft and unexpected from the small, conservative-looking priest who greeted them as Dean pulled Sam back to his feet.

Sam brushed himself down. “Just a little hurt pride.” He looked at the priest, concern in his eyes. “What about you?”

“You saw it too, then?” Alvaro looked shaken, as if he’d expected them to deny the creature’s existence.

“We saw,” Dean confirmed.

Alvaro shook his head, the wide-brimmed hat he wore bobbing to and fro until it almost looked comical – almost. “I don’t know why I should be singled out by such evil,” he muttered, obviously still stunned. “I’m a simple, God-fearing man, and so are my congregation. Why would something like this appear in Ciudad Del Maldecido?”

“We don’t know.” Sam offered his hand. “But maybe we can help you find out. I’m Sam, and this is my brother Dean. We’re friends of Father Williams. He got worried after you didn’t reply to any of his messages, so we said we’d check on you while we’re in town.”

Alvaro took the proffered palm and shook it heartily. “Any friend of Kyle is a friend of mine. He’s a little…shall we say, timid at times, but a very good cleric. I’m confused about his messages, though.” Alvaro abruptly looked troubled. “I’ve never received any letters or missed any calls that I know of.”

Sam shared a knowing look with his brother. If the thing that attacked Alvaro was a demon, it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that it had blocked the calls and mail.

There was something here, something about Alvaro that it seemed to want badly.

“Has anything strange happened in town recently?” Dean slid the feather back in his pocket as he talked, apparently aware of Alvaro staring at it intently.

The priest shook his head. “Nothing strange ever happens in a small community like this.” He chuckled weakly. “In fact, some might say nothing happens here at all, period.” There was a pause while he considered something. “Although, we are getting ready for the spring festival. It’s a happy time for the locals and visitors alike.”

Sam caught a look from Dean at the priest’s last sentence, and he realized that Alvaro might think it was a happy time here, but Dean definitely did not.

From one small expression, Sam could tell that Dean was still feeling the freaky vibe he’d sensed in the Impala.

And Dean wasn’t even the psychic one.

So why aren’t I sensing anything here? Sam internally questioned himself as Alvaro continued to talk.

“So are you staying over in town tonight?” The priest looked like he might actually be hoping they were. Was that fear on his tanned features? “You’re very welcome to stay here with me for the night. You can then enjoy tomorrow’s festivities without the hassle of returning.”

Dean hastily stepped up to answer. “Nah, that’s okay, padre, we already have a place for the night.”

Sam huffed, knowing he’d be heard. What the hell was Dean up to here? They most definitely did not have a room, and from the looks of the size of the town, it wasn’t exactly going to be full of hotels, motels and holiday cabins.

Dean ignored the huff as expected and pulled a card from his wallet with both brothers’ cell numbers on. “If you see anything out of the ordinary, and I mean anything, just give us a call.”

Alvaro took the card and looked at it skeptically. “I really doubt there is much anyone can do here.” he sighed. “Except God, of course. We must all put our trust in him.”

“Yeah, well just look upon us as God’s favorite tool kit and you’ll do alright.” Dean pointed to the card again. “Just call if you think that skank sonofa – ” He caught himself. “If that thing shows up here again, okay?”

The priest nodded sadly and watched as the two brothers left the church.

As Dean stepped through the arched doorway, he grunted as he narrowly escaped walking into a small boy. The native Mexican was sweeping up with what resembled a witch’s broomstick.

“Hey, that thing could be lethal in the wrong hands,” Dean quipped as the handle of the brush barely missed his groin. “What if some day I plan on having a runt like you?”

The boy pulled a face as if to say he didn’t really care one way or the other. “Maybe you should look where you’re going then?”

“He’s right,” Sam chuckled. “You do kinda walk around like you have blinkers on sometimes.”

Dean scowled and looked back down at the boy. “What’s a kid like you doin’ hanging around a church anyhow? Shouldn’t you be off playing with the other rugrats?”

The boy shrugged. “I help out here. I have no family to speak of, and Father Alvaro took me under his wing. It’s better than some kids have around here.”

Dean kneeled until he was as level with the kid. “So, what’s our regular boy scout’s name? You do have a name, right?”

“Ernesto,” the boy offered proudly, his chest puffing out.

Sam smiled. “So, Ernesto, have you ever seen anything weird around the church? Anything unexplainable?”

It was Ernesto’s turn to chuckle. “Like what? La Llorona?” The boy huffed sarcastically and shook his head, ambling away with the broom still clutched firmly between his small fingers.

“That kid has entirely too much sass for his size,” Dean noted with a scowl.

Sam’s cheeks dimpled. “Kinda like someone else I knew at that age…”

Garcia’s Grille
Calle Vallarta
Ciudad Del Maldecido

Dean munched on his shredded beef taco and attempted to continue talking at the same time – a fine art that he had managed to perfect as a small boy.

“I’m telling you, man, anything our angel feather can’t fry has to be major league…”

“We don’t know that,” Sam countered, keeping his eyes on the brothers’ laptop screen rather than his sibling’s over-full mouth. “Let’s face it, we don’t even know that it’s a demon.”

“You’re telling me there’s somethin’ else out there that looks and moves like one of Satan’s bitches? C’mon, white smoke, black smoke, it all boils down to that freak trying to ice a priest. That has gotta be a bad guy…”

Sam sighed and finally looked up. “Well, if it is a demon, I’m not finding any activity here in town until today. No signs, no mysterious deaths, nothing.” He frowned as the last part of the sentence left his lips.

“You got something? Other than gas from all those vegetables you eat,” Dean quipped, picking up a second taco.

Sam brushed off the comment, scrutinizing the screen. “It’s probably nothing, but there was a murder here just over a year ago.”

“Got any details?”

Sam swiveled the laptop around so they could both get a view. A local newspaper’s online archive filled the monitor. “It says the victim had his heart cut out and then the body was skinned.”

Dean grimaced as his brother read out the information, the taco he was eating dropping back onto his plate as his appetite suddenly waned. “That’s just gross.”

“Yeah, the flayed flesh was never discovered, but some drifter was arrested for the crime.” Sam brought up an image of the convicted man. “He was apparently sent to a local mental institute for evaluation and is still there – at least, according to this article.”

“So you think this is all connected to Father Alvaro’s attack or what, Samantha?” Dean eyed the half-eaten taco as if it contained the missing flesh.

But then, for all he knew, it might. They’d encountered weirder things in their time as hunters.

Sam shrugged. “I think we should go talk to Alvaro again in the morning. Right now we need to find a motel or room before it gets dark.”

Dean shook his head. “No motels, dude. My hinky vibe hasn’t gone away on this one. I’m thinkin’ we drive outta town and find a nice place to park my baby for the night.”

“Are you nuts? Camp out?” Sam screwed up his face, but it was clear from his brother’s expression Dean wasn’t going to back down. “I get the car,” he begrudgingly yielded. “If you want to play Davy Crockett then you get to be the one to sleep under the stars.”

“Suits me. Least I won’t have to listen to you snoring all night long.”

“I so don’t snore!”

“Dream on, man.” Dean smirked playfully. “Why do you think it’s always me that gets the hot skirt action?”

Sam opened his mouth to answer, then shook his head and tucked into his own food, obviously not rising to the well-timed bait.

Just Outside Ciudad Del Maldecido,
Later that night…


The fire hissed, spitting sparks like an angry serpent as Dean tossed on a small segment of wood and watched as the flames dared to wrap around it. Fiery tendrils lapped at the ensnared piece of timber like a Venus Fly Trap, eating into the broken branch, needing to feed from its twisted form.

Dean wasn’t cold, but the orange-yellow glow from the camp fire brought him an inner warmth he sorely needed after spending only a few hours in the local town.

It wasn’t like him to spook easily, but the place was wrong somehow and he was damned if he could figure out where the gut feeling was coming from.

He glanced over at the Impala only a few feet away. Inside, Sam slept with his head against the half-open window, oblivious to his sibling’s woes.

Every now and again, a small snort burbled from his nose and throat as he dreamed fitfully of another time and place. In the morning, he would probably be sore from his cramped sleeping position and his brother would pay for suggesting their impromptu camping trip.

Dean wondered if Sam was recalling Stull as he groaned again, tossing over onto his side even further. But then, could either of them ever forget it?

Flashing, nightmarish imagery flickered across the hunter’s inner psyche.

Images of a dark place.

A bad place where demons roamed in a smoke-filled Gehenna of blood and sulfur.

A church with no entry, no exit, but a thousand doors that just begged to be opened and then locked again forever at their master’s whim.

Dean shuddered and lobbed another broken branch on the already blazing fire. He had to forget Stull. It was the past. It was over – at least for now.

It’s never over, you know that, Winchester, his mind screamed. This is just a lull, another small time gig before the storm comes right on back and bites you in the ass.

Except this wasn’t just another hunt. There was more to it than that, wasn’t there?

Dean envisaged the interior of a stony, crumbling church again, but this time not the vanishing basilica from his hometown. The memory was fresher than that, but still as painful.

Churches were supposed to be holy places, protected by God, and yet God seemed to so often let his disciples be attacked, even killed under such divine roofs.

He closed his eyes, trying to picture the strange new demon that had attacked Father Alvaro. Despite hours of research until the laptop battery had finally died, Sam hadn’t been able to find one heathen creature that fit the glowing thing’s description.

And then there was the angel feather.

Why the hell hadn’t it bled?

The thought occurred to Dean that maybe the feather had only so much magic to give, and they had used it all up back in Stull. Part of him even hoped the idea was right, because otherwise it meant there was a whole new entity out there they had no means of fighting.

As if friggin’ Lucifer wasn’t enough…

On a whim, Dean let his left hand slide to his jacket pocket and he pulled out the pure white feather whilst simultaneously taking a slug of beer with his right hand.

Sometimes there was nothing better than a little alcohol to help the synapses fire up, or better still, to help bury memories he’d rather not resurface.

As he gulped down the last of his Coors, he examined the piece of plumage, realizing for the first time it was larger than that of any bird.

It sat silently in his palm now, but he could still mentally recall the static charge it had emitted during his encounter with the new “demon.” The feather had prickled his skin, making the tiny hairs on the back of his hand bristle.

There had been no pain, but he was sure there was a message to be had from its new reaction.

“Why didn’t you bleed?” He mouthed at the inanimate and very silent object. “What makes that overgrown light bulb any different from any other freak you’ve helped me gank?”

The feather looked back innocently.

“How could you forsake the one person who has faith in you?”

Dean stifled the urge to toss down the ivory quill. He wanted so badly to crush the thing in his palm, and deny that it had ever existed.

Deny that angels had ever existed.

“It was never about faith, Dean…”

The voice was low and soft, with an ethereal tinge that stopped the hunter from instantly turning to see its owner.

Dean sucked down a breath from between his teeth, realizing that the sounds of every single nocturnal creature under the Mexican night sky had ceased.

Finally, he turned, one hand deliberately moving to the back of his belt where his .45 rested. He let his fingers caress the Colt, but as of yet, he didn’t attempt to draw it.

The man before him looked wryly amused, his steely blue eyes flashing with some untold knowledge.

To Dean, the man looked like some Wall Street banker, dressed complete in a suit with a slightly disheveled tie and a long overcoat Colombo would have been proud of.

What such a person would be doing walking off a rutted Mexican back road was anyone’s guess – unless, of course, he was a demon.

How the hell else would this freak know my name?

Maybe this was even the very thing that had attacked Father Alvaro.

“Who the hell are you?” Dean snapped. “Lucifer’s still pissed enough over getting his ass whooped to send a goon after us, huh?”

“Not exactly…” The man’s head cocked to the left just a tick, as if he were a child evaluating a new toy, and Dean noticed his lips looked dry and cracked, as if he’d been out in the sun too long.

But then, maybe he had. Maybe that was why he was acting like he had a bug up his ass.

Dean finally let his fingers encompass the Colt and he pulled it, aiming at the newcomer one-handed while he kept the feather in his other palm.

Maybe it hadn’t worked in the church, but if he was about to get attacked, he wasn’t above trying its powers again.

He dared to glance down for any signs of blood, but the plumage remained perfectly white. The fronds that erupted from its bony white shafts, however, seemed to bristle in the moonlight, as if charged by some unknown source of electricity.

Just like in the church...

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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