Twenty-One: Heaven and Earth
Diablo State Park, CA
sun peered shyly over the double peak of Mount Diablo,
painting the early morning California sky with fingers
of russet and gold. A promise of cobalt blue hung in
the air, and a light breeze caressed the treetops. Somewhere
a coyote howled, and a falcon wheeled overhead, searching
the ground for mice and squirrels, who went about their
business always aware that sudden death might come swooping
down out of the sky for them at any minute.
only human figure stirring at the base of the mountain
was oblivious to nature blazing all around her, no interest
in what was above her, only in what lay below.
crouched in a trench cut into the earth, two or three
feet down, gingerly brushing dirt from the object barely
protruding from the ground beneath her.
exhaled slowly, streaking dirt across her freckled face
as she brushed a hand over her cheek and pushed long
ginger curls out of her hazel eyes and back under the
dirty ball cap from where they had escaped.
rested on her haunches briefly, wiping her hands on
the thighs of her dirty old jeans and realigning the
ball cap so her curls tucked through the back vent and
spiraled down her back instead of onto her face.
glanced briefly at an old Jeep parked a few feet away;
at twenty years, it was almost as old as she was. Briefly,
she considered rifling through the untidy pile of what
to the untrained eye might appear to be junk, seeking
out a bigger trowel to expedite the unearthing process.
a shrug of her shoulders, she dismissed the idea. The
object in front of her was too delicate for such manhandling,
of that she was sure.
away more of the earth, she slowly revealed an additional
couple of centimeters of the find, incongruously white
against the brown of the dirt in which it nestled. She
frowned to herself as she peered down at the object.
Too white for bones. For old bones, anyway. There should
be discoloration if it were of any great age.
she ran a fingertip over the object, touch convincing
her of what sight could not. Bones. Without a doubt.
sighed heavily. Probably just some kid’s dead
dog Dad had decided to bury out here. Certainly not
a find that would secure her another semester’s
she needed to find something! She needed to
find something soon. She’d been so sure
of herself, so sure of her research, even when Professor
Atherton had laughed at her theories and told her there
was nothing out here for her to find.
wasn’t fair. It wasn’t.
jumped to her feet, almost stamping her foot in frustration.
She was right, she knew it! There had to be
artifacts around here. There just had to be!
Why wouldn’t the faculty listen to her?
stood there, fuming silently to herself, her body rigid
and trembling in anger.
perhaps it wasn’t her body that was trembling.
the ground was trembling too.
looked up sharply from the trench, rocks and stones
suddenly dislodged from the ground above slipping and
sliding down into the hole all around her.
let out a frightened squawk as a particularly large
rock narrowly missed hitting her temple, hurriedly scrambling
up out of the trench as the ground began to shake more
violently, the whole area thrumming with angry energy
as rocks slid and bounced down the side of the mountain.
her head in fear, she crouched low to the ground, hoping
to lower her center of gravity to avoid toppling over
stop, she murmured in her head, praying whatever
she’d been unearthing hadn’t been buried
again beneath the suddenly shifting ground. It might
be worthless, but she still had to examine it properly
to confirm that.
she exhaled her next breath, the quake desisted as abruptly
as it had begun, the ground beneath her ceasing its
shake, rattle and roll, the mountain stilling itself
even as rocks continued to slide down from the summit.
hesitantly to her feet, she edged warily back to the
trench, almost dreading what she would see there: two
days’ work lost?
came as something of a pleasant surprise when instead
of seeing her unearthed bones once again buried under
mounds of rock and dirt she saw quite the opposite:
the tremor had shaken loose more bones.
down at the edge of the trench, she tilted her head
sideways, intrigued by the partial skeleton now revealed
before her. There was something not quite…right
climbing back down into the trench, careful not to disturb
any of the find, she crouched low over the bones, her
long fingers tentatively probing what looked like a
human scapula. Hmm, shoulder blade. Maybe not a
dead dog after all….
what was she looking at here? A murder victim? Someone
who’d gone missing in the past couple of months?
harder at the shoulder blade, she frowned as her fingers
traced something decidedly odd, something, from the
anatomy courses she’d taken as an undergrad, she
was pretty sure shouldn’t be there: A bony ridge
branching off from the scapula which looked uncannily
like it ought to be connected to….
sat back on her haunches and sucked in an incredulous
gulp of earthy air.
Hopkins Marine Station,
Pacific Grove, CA
first he can only watch the assorted whey-faced onlookers
who all stare out at the ocean, shaking their heads
in mute despair. They’re lined up like witnesses
to an execution, a few with hands thrown over their
mouths in fear and revulsion, others shaking their heads
a shocking sight, and it takes every bit of courage
he has to turn his gaze back toward the angry, roiling
water, steaming and bubbling, the ocean boiling beneath
a calm cobalt California sky.
fish, birds, insects float to the surface of the water,
the tall blond man can only shake his head and turn
hate Kansas,” Dean grumbled, tossing
a duffel full of dirty laundry into the Impala’s
cavernous trunk with a huff.
glanced over his shoulder at the seedy, one-story motel
that had been “home” for the past week,
and had to admit he wouldn’t be sad to see the
back of the state of their birth.
course, admitting that to himself was one thing; admitting
it to his brother was something else entirely.
blame an entire state for its over-friendly fairies,
Dean,” he said, barely suppressing a snigger.
eyes shot to his brother, narrowing as he ground his
teeth together audibly. “It’s your stupid
fault we’re here at all,” he declared. “You
know how much I hate this place.”
raised an eyebrow as he slung their weapons bag into
the trunk next to the laundry and a couple of books
on fairy lore he’d “forgotten” to
return to the library over in Norwich. “Hey, don’t
blame me, man, you’re the one said we
could do with an easy hunt after that last run-in with
Mia. Go someplace she’d never expect us to go.
Get off her radar.” He straightened, trying not
to remember the look of terror frozen on poor Erin’s
face as Mia stabbed her through the heart. He sighed,
surveying the empty parking lot and deserted, pot-holed
road that eventually led to the highway. “And
she sure as hell wouldn’t expect us to come here
to the ass-end of Kansas.”
grimaced, jaw tightening in reluctant agreement “Yeah,
well,” he conceded. “Still. Friggin’
corner of Sam’s mouth ticked up, cheek dimpling.
“You really are a chick magnet, bro,”
he said, grinning. “Those fairies sure took a
shine to you.”
grunted, yanking open the driver’s door and bending
to look inside the Impala. “Fairy dust’s
gonna be a friggin’ bitch to get out of the upholstery,”
he grumbled, straightening as Sam breezed past him,
ruffling his hair.
to mention your hair, dude,” he commented gleefully.
“Looks cute on you though. Sparkly.”
grimaced at him, shoving away his brother’s large
hand before shaking his head like a wet dog and brushing
angrily at his shoulders in an effort to further dislodge
the shiny powder. “Friggin’ fairies,”
he moaned for the ninetieth time that morning. “Shoulda
ripped their friggin’ wings off, see how much
they liked me then.”
Lost! suddenly started to warble from the general
direction of Sam’s jeans, and Dean rolled his
frowned at him as he checked the caller ID, his phone
not recognizing the number. He shifted slightly when
he noted the Palo Alto area code, unconsciously turning
his shoulder so he was facing away from Dean.
picking up the pace uneasily, he jabbed at the button
to pick up the call and offered a wary, “Hello?”
voice sounded familiar, but Sam couldn’t quite
place it. “Uh – yeah?” he confirmed
dumbly, wincing slightly as he imagined Dean’s
response to his giving away his identity so easily.
The voice was warmer, an obvious smile in the inflection.
“It’s Zach! Zach Warren! You know, the guy
you saved from Death Row…?”
face lit up immediately, relieved and genuinely pleased
to hear from his old college buddy. “Oh my God,
Zach!” he burst out, again wincing, but this time
at the girly excitement in his voice.
glanced furtively over his shoulder at Dean, who had
taken a step toward him, a frown minutely crinkling
again hunched his shoulder, once more turning away from
his brother, almost as if he were embarrassed to be
taking the call. “How did you get my number?”
Zach replied, and Sam nodded. He’d kept in sporadic
e-mail contact with Rebecca Warren—the girl the
shapeshifter with Dean’s face had almost killed—ever
since they parted ways in St. Louis back in ’05.
it’s—it’s great to hear from you,
man,” Sam stammered awkwardly, suddenly realizing
he had no clue what to say next. “How is Becky?
She’s at Harvard Law, right?”
Zach confirmed. “She got a couple of years ahead
of me after—y’know. I had to take some time
nodded, understanding probably more than Zach realized.
“Yeah, Becky said you’d gotten into Stanford
Law. Congrats, man.” His eyes flicked up to see
Dean standing right in front of him and he gritted his
teeth together, determined to show not the slightest
emotion. Bitterness? Envy? No way.
hard work,” Zach continued. “But it’s
worth it. Thought my chances of law school were completely
shot after Emily.” He sighed. “Amazing how
one night can change your life forever.”
didn’t realize he hadn’t responded at first,
images of Jess bursting into flames above him springing
unbidden into his head. “Yeah,” he agreed
quietly. “Life has a habit of pulling the rug
right out from under you when you least expect it.”
chanced another look at Dean then, the older brother’s
expression morphing from inquisitive to sympathetic
and concerned in the space of a heartbeat.
only hearing one side of the conversation, Dean must
have read the look on Sam’s face, the single word
displayed in his eyes and the awkward set of his mouth:
to bear Dean’s compassion, Sam turned again, walking
away from his brother just a couple of paces, heading
back toward the rear of the Impala.
sorry, man,” Zach said finally.
Sam agreed, mentally shaking himself before continuing
on a little too brightly. “So what can I do for
you, Zach? Not sure I’d make that good of a study
buddy these days.”
laughed hollowly. “You might be a little rusty,
but really, it’s just like riding a bike.”
I guess,” Sam agreed, vividly reminded of Dean
telling him the exact same thing about hunting the night
he came and got him at Stanford. “Not sure law
school’s in my future any time soon.”
heard Dean’s boots scuff the gravel and didn’t
have to turn to know his brother had walked away.
from what Becky tells me,” Zach began a little
cautiously, “you kinda switched your specialty
paused for a second. “She told you what –
what really happened to Emily, right?”
Zach said. “Which is kinda why I’m calling.”
eyebrow ticked up. “Yeah?”
have—something—that might fall into your
area of expertise. Something I could kinda use your
risked another glance in Dean’s direction, but
his brother was leaning against the Impala’s hood
nonchalantly, face impassive as he did his best to give
Sam a little privacy.
least, that’s what Sam hoped he was doing.
Sam continued, a forced levity in his voice that he
most certainly didn’t feel. “Ghouls in your
basement? Vampire bats in your belfry?”
looked up at that, a quizzical expression in his quirked
laughed a little bleakly. “Wish it were that simple,”
he said. After a beat, he continued, “So there’s
grimaced. “Aw man, you sure I wanna hear this?”
be a pervert,” Zach admonished him.
shook his head. “Spending too much time with my
brother I guess.”
was Dean’s turn to grimace, obviously affronted
that Sam should be…saying whatever it was he was
saying about him.
name’s Daisy,” Zach continued. “My
to go, dude,” Sam said, genuinely pleased for
his friend. “I’m happy for you.”
he meant it.
hadn’t spoken to Zach a whole lot since St. Louis,
but if what his friend had felt for Emily was anything
like what Sam had felt for Jess, then he knew how hard
it must have been for Zach to take that difficult step
toward finding someone else.
Zach continued slowly. “It…wasn’t
nodded, even though he knew Zach couldn’t see
him. “No,” he agreed. “I know.”
line was silent for a second, Zach and Sam communing
on some level where shared experience was more important
than words could ever be.
an archaeology student,” Zach continued. “Daisy
she is,” Zach agreed. “Thing is, she’s
been out on a dig at Mount Diablo Park for a couple
of months and—well—she’s found some—uh—interesting
bones that—well—maybe you guys might want
to take a look at.”
Sam repeated. “Why do you think we’d—?”
just—weird,” Zach explained, hesitating
for a second before adding, “Maybe your
kind of weird.”
nodded. “Ah,” he said. “Okay—”
Zach continued, “That’s not all. There’s—there’s
something else I’m kinda worried about. Daisy,
she…” He paused for a second, took a breath.
“Sam, I could really use your help…”
Palo Alto, CA
really okay with this?” Dean asked, obviously
trying to sound casual but with an undercurrent of concern
threaded through his voice that set Sam’s teeth
on edge. “I mean,” he continued, glancing
surreptitiously at his little brother out of the corner
of his eye, “coming back here.”
set his jaw tightly, trying to remind himself that Dean
was just trying to be a good guy, a good big brother.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” It came out harsher
than he’d intended, snappish even, and Dean recoiled
a little, that kicked puppy look on his face he always
used to get whenever he’d failed to live up to
Dad’s ridiculously high expectations.
hated to think he’d put that look on Dean’s
opened his mouth to apologize, just as the Impala rumbled
past the little coffee shop where he and Jess used to
drink lattes on a Sunday morning, and his throat constricted
so much he couldn’t form a single word.
Dean tried again. “Zach’s gonna meet us
at the university?”
merely nodded, unable to trust his voice as tears prickled
at his eyes.
was the deli where they ate breakfast before class;
the restaurant where he’d taken her for their
first date; the jewelers where the rings he’d
been saving up for had probably been sold years ago.
gone. All of it. Jessica. Sam and Jessica.
bright, shining future he’d almost held in his
hands, almost but not quite, all of it slipping through
his fingers because of who he was. Because he was a
could stop, man, if you want—”
don’t need to stop,” Sam snapped harshly,
immediately regretting it when Dean just nodded, so
much patience and understanding on his face Sam almost
wanted to hit him. Hard.
he hadn’t come for him that night… If Dean
had just left him the hell alone….
this was a hundred times worse than their trip to Seattle
a couple of months back, and he’d thought
that felt awful at the time. Then, all he’d
had to consider was the road not taken, what might have
been. Now…it was like being in mourning all over
again. Not just for Jess; but for the life snatched
away from them, the life forever denied him.
of who he was. Because he was a Winchester.
as much as he knew it was wrong and unfair and totally
undeserved, every time he looked at Dean all he could
see was the thing that took it all away: the hunt; the
life; the family. The Demon.
eventually he just stopped looking at him altogether.
Palo Alto, CA
got it. He did. He’d told Sam once that he didn’t
know what it was like to lose someone the way his brother
lost Jessica. But he did. He did. He’d
lost Sam. For almost four whole years. And this was
the place responsible for that. This was the place that
took Sammy away from him and made him Sam.
he could sympathize, he really could. Loving someone
that much and losing them? It was the worst thing in
the world. And for Sam, losing Jessica—losing
the life he had all laid out in front of him, the life
he had with her—that must have been impossibly
hard on his baby brother. He’d seen it himself
first hand—the nightmares; screaming her name
in the middle of the night; the way he’d thrown
himself into hunting as if that would somehow make it
now coming back here—seeing places he used to
take her, places they used to hang out with their friends…
Well it didn’t take a genius to figure out what
must be going on in Sam’s planet-sized brain.
After all, Dean had been there himself, that first time
they’d pulled up outside their house in Lawrence—Jenny’s
house. He knew what Sam was feeling; he knew only too
he totally got why Sam had been stonily silent since
they were about three miles outside of Palo Alto. To
be honest, Dean had been pretty stunned Sam had agreed
to come here at all. Sure, Zach Warren was an old school
buddy and everything, but the Winchesters sure as hell
didn’t owe him anything. Not after what Dean had
sacrificed to get him off the hook with the cops.
was the thing Dean didn’t get: Why Sam
seemed to be so pissed off at him. What the
hell had he done wrong that had upset Sam so much he
couldn’t even look at him?
what Sam had said to him that one time had been a lie:
that Sam really did blame Dean for Jessica’s
sorry, man,” he said quietly, eyes still fixed
on the road ahead and studiously not on his little brother,
not entirely sure whether he was apologizing for Sam
losing Jessica, or for his part in Sam losing Jessica,
or for Sam’s having to come back here at all;
none of which were really Dean’s fault when he
actually came to think about it.
looked at him then, for the first time since they’d
entered Palo Alto, and something in his resolutely stoic
expression seemed to shift just a little.
the younger brother said on a sigh, raking his fingers
through his hair tiredly. “I’m
sorry, Dean. I—I’m being a jerk—”
you’re not,” Dean assured him. “Well
not much. And I get it. I do. How you might think that—that
it’s my fault, if I’d not come and got you,
not dragged you back into hunting, how she—she’d
still be here and you—you’d have a life.
Be a real person.” He remembered those words of
Sam’s, like a knife through his heart back in
Chicago. So Dean—Dad—they weren’t
“real people?” Not real enough for Sam,
shook his head sadly. “Dean, I already told you
I don’t blame you for what happened to Jess,”
he said, and Dean wanted to believe him, he really did.
“But it’s just—hard. Harder than I
thought it’d be. I thought—four years—it’d
be easier now. I’d be over it. But—”
nodded his understanding, even as he turned off Campus
Drive and headed for one of the university’s parking
structures. “Yeah, I know,” said, maneuvering
the big Chevy carefully into the structure. “Maybe
we need to lay down a couple new hunting rules,”
he added, deliberately lightening his tone. He glanced
sideways at his brother, smiling sardonically. “How
about from now on we stay outta Kansas and California?”
New Jersey?” Sam suggested, a reluctant smile
hovering about his lips.
God yes,” Dean agreed wholeheartedly, pulling
the Impala into a space on the lowest parking level,
grateful for the shade provided by the floors above.
Shutting off the engine, he sat back for a second. “So
why’d Zach want to meet us here?” he asked
at length, shoving open the driver’s door and
swinging his legs out onto the asphalt. “I mean,
not that I’m worried anyone’s gonna recognize
you as the brother of that dead serial killer from St.
Louis or anything.”
exited the passenger side of the Chevy a little more
slowly, almost reluctantly, peeling off his jacket and
tossing it onto the back seat with Dean’s. “He’s
working,” he replied finally. “Couldn’t
meet us until after class.” He glanced at his
watch. “In about two minutes.”
Dean whistled. “Are we ever punctual!”
they headed for the parking structure’s exit,
he suddenly added, “Whaddya mean Zach’s
blinked in the harsh sunlight as he followed Sam out
onto the sidewalk, feeling slightly overawed by the
red-tiled buildings rising up all around them, the palm
trees shimmering lazily in the heat, the country’s
best and brightest scurrying between classes, books
and laptops clutched to their chests.
wondered fleetingly what it had been like for Sam here;
what Sam had been like here. Had he ever even
thought about Dean? About the life he’d left behind?
a TA,” Sam explained, heading for an imposing-looking
building fronted by a line of yellow brick archways.
“Helps him pay his way through grad school.”
whistled as they entered beneath one of the archways,
tugging open a glass door and holding it for his brother
before following him into the blissfully air-conditioned
interior. “That pad his mom and dad had in St.
Louis?” he said. “Sure didn’t look
like he’d be sweating the school fees.”
shook his head. “Dean, not all college students
are spoilt brats living off their parents’ charity.”
nodded thoughtfully as he followed Sam into a large
lecture hall, his brother seeming to remember the way
without even thinking about where he was going. “No,”
he said to Sam’s retreating back. “I guess
not. Or else how the hell would you have gotten
followed Sam down between rows of benches and tiny tables,
again imagining Sam sitting in some crowded, mind-numbingly
boring lecture, scribbling down notes in his ridiculously
neat handwriting, completely oblivious to the chick
behind him ogling his girlie hair and wondering what
shampoo he used.
one ever asked Dean what shampoo he used….
hung back a little as Sam trotted down the sloping stairs
toward the young man standing at the front of the hall.
He was collecting papers into a pile on the desk and
generally tidying up after the recently finished lecture.
had never actually met Zach Warren, but recognized him
from the photo stuck to the fridge in his and Emily’s
apartment, and the security tape of the shifter when
he was wearing Zach’s face.
seemed taller in person, broad shouldered and dark haired,
still with a neatly-trimmed goatee and dark sparkling
eyes that lit up when they caught sight of Sam.
Zach burst out, rushing toward his friend as Dean raised
an eyebrow at the salutation.
And he got on Dean’s case for calling him
made a beeline for Zach, the two young men enveloping
each other in a heartfelt hug while Dean continued to
loiter toward the back of the hall, letting them have
their reunion without interruption.
Zach.” Sam finally returned the shorter man’s
greeting, pulling away slightly to meet his friend’s
gaze. “How ya been?”
shook his head, thumping Sam’s shoulder before
finally disentangling himself. “I’m good,
man. How ’bout you? It’s been too long.”
averted his eyes uncomfortably. “Yeah,”
he agreed with an awkward smile. “Too long.”
looked Sam over appraisingly. “Well, life on the
open road seems to agree with you,” he commented.
“You look—big. Real big!”
genuine laugh escaped Sam’s lips at that, his
shoulders relaxing as his face settled into a broad
smile. “Chasing monsters is a really effective
fitness regime,” he said. “Can’t afford
to get too flabby when there’s a werewolf on your
blinked at him, apparently uncertain whether he was
joking or not.
laughed again. “And you, look at you! Stanford
Law, huh? And Becky at Harvard. Your mom and dad must
be real proud.”
shrugged. “Helluva step up from Jefferson City
Correctional Center, lemme tellya.” At that, he
glanced over Sam’s shoulder to where Dean was
still lurking, his expression sobering. “I have
you and your brother to thank for that.”
turned in the direction of Zach’s gaze, as if
only just remembering Dean was there. “Uh—yeah—I
forgot you two never actually met. Zach—my brother
took a hesitant step forward, smiling awkwardly as Zach
held out a hand toward him. Dean took it a little self-consciously,
Zach turning the handshake into a warm two-handed grip.
never got to thank you for what you did,” he said
sincerely. “Taking the blame for Emily’s
murder when that thing…” He trailed
off, shaking his head as his eyes filled with unshed
tears. He took a breath, composed himself a little,
before meeting Dean’s gaze once again. “You
and Sam,” he said, “you saved my life. And
I know you pretty much lost your own to do it—police
record and a reputation as a dead murderer. That must
have been hard—knowing that, as far as the world
knew, Dean Winchester was just another dead psycho.”
shrugged. “Yeah, well… Didn’t have
much of a reputation to begin with,” he said with
a half-grin. “And being legally dead has its advantages.”
He shrugged. “Don’t pay taxes for one thing—”
you never paid taxes,” Sam put in.
glanced over at his brother, looking a little crestfallen
for a second, before demanding, “Yeah? So? Your
snickered at him, and Dean felt something finally relax
inside of him.
I guess everything’s cool now, huh?” Zach
suddenly interjected. “Y’know—now
you’ve finally been exonerated and everything.”
stopped dead, expression frozen on his face as his attention
shot from Sam back to Zach. He just blinked dumbly at
him for a second before finally managing to croak out
a strangled, “Huh?”
frowned, taking a step toward his friend. “Zach,”
he said slowly. “What do you mean ‘exonerated?’”
blinked at him in mild surprise. “What—you
guys don’t—you don’t know?”
what?” both brothers managed to ask at
the same time.
shrugged. “Couple of months ago I get this call
completely out of the blue from some cop in Baltimore—”
and Sam exchanged a glance. Guevara?
never been to Baltimore in my life,” Zach continued.
“So it kinda confused me when the guy told me
the St. Louis police were reopening Emily’s murder
due to some ‘recent developments.’ He told
me the St. Louis cops still believed they had the right
guy—their perp was most definitely six feet under—but
they weren’t so sure he was Dean Winchester anymore.
Apparently they were planning on exhuming the guy’s
remains and carrying out more thorough testing.”
freakin’ time,” Dean muttered, folding his
arms across his chest. “This cop—his name
wasn’t Guevara by any chance? Rafael Guevara?”
nodded. “Yeah, that’s the guy. You know
shuddered as he remembered trying to fight off the Service
66 Slayer, who had an unhealthy interest in cutting
out his eyes and his heart and tossing him into a Hellgate,
while at the same time trying to avoid getting hauled
right off the train and into the precinct by the Baltimore
cop. “He—uh—kinda owes us a favor,”
he replied guardedly.
big favor,” Zach observed. “Baltimore cop
messing with a St. Louis murder investigation? He must
have pulled some serious strings to get the case reopened.”
nodded, glancing again at Sam. “I just have that
effect on people,” he declared.
he called me again yesterday,” Zach continued.
“They’ve done some new hi-tech DNA analysis
and they’re satisfied they’ve got their
murderer, but they’ve also confirmed he’s
not Dean Winchester.” He inclined his head in
Dean’s direction. “Which we—uh—kind
of already knew, right?”
just nodded mutely, while Sam blew out a breath. “You’re
really off the hook?” he said a little uncertainly.
shrugged. “Doesn’t sound like our luck does
it?” he replied. “A little too good to be
sounded pretty genuine, guys,” Zach said. “I
mean, his calling me was the whole reason I decided
to risk calling Sam. I figured it was divine intervention
or something—his calling just as I could really
use your help. ’Cause you know I would never have
asked you guys here—risk Sam being recognized—if
I thought you’d be in danger of getting yourselves
why do you need our help exactly, Zach?”
Sam asked. “You were a little sketchy over the
bit his lip before continuing. “I told you about
my girlfriend Daisy, right? That she’s been out
at this dig over at Mount Diablo Park for a couple months?
It’s pretty much a one-woman show. She’s
working on her Masters—did all this research on
Native beliefs that Mount Diablo was the site of Creation—where
God created Man—and was absolutely convinced there
would be something of archaeological interest at the
site. But up until a couple of days ago, things weren’t
looking so good for her. She’d not found a thing
and her funding was up for review and her professor’s
a real hard-ass who didn’t think much of her theories…”
happened a couple of days ago?” Sam interjected.
found this—weird—skeleton,” Zach explained.
so weird about an archaeologist finding a bunch of bones?”
something hinky about them,” Zach said. “About
the shoulder blades. The structure of them…and
some other bones lying nearby…” He trailed
off. “Look, this is something you really need
to see for yourself. I can take you to Daisy and she’ll
Sam said slowly. “But on the phone you said there
was something else…?”
dipped his eyes and shuffled his feet uncomfortably.
“Ye-ah,” he stammered. “It—it
sounds kinda nuts though.”
of our lives, man,” Dean assured him.
looked up reluctantly. “Earthquakes,” he
said at length.
Sam echoed. “Zach, we’re pretty much sitting
on the San Andreas Fault here…”
nodded. “Yeah, I know. It sounds nuts. I told
about earthquakes?” Dean interrupted him.
met Dean’s interrogative gaze and seemed to shrink
into himself a little bit. “They go wherever she
goes,” he said, sounding a little bit desperate,
not to mention a little bit sheepish. “Daisy.
Earthquakes follow her around.”
Winchesters glanced at each other. “Daisy’s
an earthquake magnet?” Dean clarified.
nodded. “I know. Nuts. I can’t explain it.
She can’t explain it. She thinks I’m
being ridiculous—paranoid. Says she’s so
not being followed around by earthquakes. But she is!
I swear it! Would I have called you guys if
I was making this up?” He glanced from one to
the other of them before continuing. “At first
I thought—after Emily—after what Rebecca
told me actually killed her—I thought maybe something
was after me. But now… Now I think it
might be after Daisy…”
kind of ‘something?’” Sam asked, his
looked up at him. “I don’t know, man. All
I know is wherever she goes, earthquakes are sure to
follow. That’s how she found the skeleton in the
first place—there was a tremor out by Mount Diablo
and it kind of unearthed itself.”
it wanted to be found…?” Sam asked uncertainly.
shrugged. “Maybe. When you see this thing—you’ll
understand why I—why I called you. Why I think
this might be your kind of thing—y’know?
ya gonna call?” Dean muttered, shaking his head.
let me take you to meet Daisy—show you the dig
site and the—the bones. Then maybe you’ll
understand why I’m freaking the hell out here.”
nodded. “Okay, we can—”
should only take about an hour and a half to get there,”
Zach continued, a spark of hope igniting in the depths
of his dark eyes. “I can drive you right now if—”
take my car,” Dean interjected.
kind of a control freak,” Sam explained.
he’s just a regular freak,” Dean returned.
scowled at him and Dean smiled back brightly. “Jerk,”
so predictable,” Dean returned, before heading
off toward the exit. “Listen, you girls finish
catching up. I’m gonna go call Rafael the Wonder
Cop.” He paused, glancing back over his shoulder
before adding, “And we’d better not be camping,
* * *
tried his best not to let the bustling quad intimidate
him as he pulled out his cellphone. Sure, these kids
might be richer, better dressed and smarter than he
was, but that didn’t make them superior in any
way. He sniggered as a kid in designer ripped jeans,
a replica Ramones tour t-shirt and a pair of sneakers
that probably cost more than the entire contents of
the Impala slammed right into a palm tree while trying
to text and walk at the same time; maybe Dean ought
to re-evaluate that whole “smarter” thing….
wondered whether Sammy had been such a dork when he’d
he figured. Sammy had always been a dork.
into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a battered business
card and dialed the number efficiently—and without
walking into a single thing.
Guevara,” Baltimore’s finest’s clipped
tones answered on the first ring, and Dean unaccountably
found himself happy to hear the guy’s voice.
Supercop, it’s your number one fan here.”
was a slight pause, then a chuckle. “Mr. Winchester
I presume? I’ve been expecting your call.”
shifted slightly. “Oh you have, huh?”
Zach Warren might get in touch with Sam. You know, I’d
have called you myself but that number you gave me was
out of service.”
coughed awkwardly. “Oh, that number?
Yeah—well—I got a new phone a couple days
you did,” Guevara returned.
Dean wasn’t entirely sure how to broach the subject.
“I hear you’ve been doing some digging on
my behalf. Or getting someone else to do some digging…?”
figured I owed you after the Service 66,” Guevara
explained. “So I made some calls. The St. Louis
P.D. weren’t overly thrilled to have me poking
around one of their historic murder cases, particularly
one that for all intents and purposes they’d already
solved,” he added. “But I called in some
favors. A lot of favors. And I finally managed
to convince them that Dean Winchester’s demise
had been somewhat exaggerated, that I’d spoken
to him and he’d protested his innocence of the
Emily Channing murder.”
that’s sweet,” Dean cooed. “You on
a one-man crusade to get me exonerated.”
is more like it,” Guevara replied. “Got
my ass seriously chewed out by my boss—and
her boss—for not turning you in back
in New Jersey. But I used my natural charm and eventually
persuaded St. Louis P.D.’s own version of Gus
Grissom to exhume the body and do a little DNA testing.
You know, like they should have done at the time? Yeah,
they were a lot more helpful after I pointed that out
guess the case seemed pretty cut and dried,” Dean
observed. “Y’know, they figured they had
their killer. Dean Winchester. That freak of nature
did have my face when he died after all. The
guy may have been a psychotic, homicidal dick, but he
obviously knew handsome when he saw it…”
flatter yourself, Winchester,” Guevara returned.
“He didn’t look so handsome by the time
they dug him up. In fact, he’d pretty much liquefied.”
Dean managed. “Nasty.”
Guevara agreed. “The forensic guys told me the
corpse shouldn’t have decomposed as fast as it
had, and when the techs in the lab got to take a look,
they said it was almost as if the body’s genetic
structure was breaking down completely.”
huffed. “Figures. Couldn’t hold its form
once it died.”
well I could hardly tell them that,”
Guevara pointed out. “But the DNA they took from
the remains matched what they found at the Emily Channing
murder site; not to mention Alex and Lindsay Akita’s
apartment, the Warren house and in the creep’s
lair on the trophies it had taken from its victims.
So it was pretty conclusive evidence that they had the
right guy. But then they went on to compare that DNA
to your DNA—”
they get my DNA?” Dean interrupted.
bottle taken from the Warren house back in ’05.
They still had it in storage, as well as another that
matched Sam’s DNA—apparently that fine upstanding
brother of yours participated in an experimental voluntary
program while he was at Stanford—a couple hundred
students provided DNA samples which were loaded onto
the Federal DNA Database.”
shook his head. “You’re kidding me, right?”
did you a favor,” Guevara informed him. “By
comparing his sample and yours they could prove the
sample on the beer bottle belonged to his brother, not
just some random guy who’d been chugging back
a few at Rebecca Warren’s house. They compared
that to the cuffs I’d used on you back on the
Service 66 and found a match. But when they compared
your DNA to the stuff they got from the remains, they
conclusively proved that the perpetrator’s DNA
sample and your DNA sample didn’t match,
although there were some ‘weird’ similarities,
dunno, man, you’re the shapeshifter expert. You
shrugged. “Maybe that’s how it mimicked
people—borrowed some of their DNA somehow…”
it did, it was enough to convince St. Louis P.D. that
their murderer wasn’t Dean Winchester,
even if they’re yet to identify who he was.
He wasn’t on the Federal DNA Database, or any
state database, so neither the cops nor the Feds have
been able to figure out who the hell he was. They did
say his DNA was seriously freaky though…”
how the techs described it?” Dean clarified. “‘Seriously
maybe not exactly,” Guevara conceded. “Although
they did say it was like nothing they’d ever seen
took a breath and exhaled slowly. “Listen, man,”
he said awkwardly. “I can’t—I can’t
thank you enough. For straightening this out for me.
Getting me off the hook. I’m a free man now, right?”
still have about fifty unpaid parking fines…”
Mount Diablo State Park, CA
took a deep breath as he, Dean and Zach followed the
trail from the visitors’ lot where Dean had parked
the Impala to the area where Zach’s girlfriend
was busy digging up dead things.
could hardly believe it. Dean was a free man! He could
use his real name again without fear of being summarily
cuffed and thrown into a county jail cell with a six
foot ten inch black guy called Brenda and a couple of
rolls of toilet paper!
this, and it was a beautiful day too—the sun was
warm on their backs, the scenery was breathtaking, and
for the first time that day he could think about Jessica
and about Stanford without hurting from his head to
things were looking up.
feels like camping, Sammy,” Dean grumbled from
behind him, lugging a duffel full of supplies up onto
his shoulder with a grunt.
refused to let Dean’s negative view of the great
outdoors dampen his spirits. “You’d rather
we were on horseback?” he asked innocently, shutting
Dean up pretty damn quickly.
horses,” Dean muttered, continuing the rest of
the hike in virtual silence.
took them less than half an hour to make their way to
the dig site, where a young woman with spirals of ginger
hair sticking out the back of a dirty baseball cap was
crouched over a trench cut into the parched ground.
looked up as they approached, rising to her feet and
putting one hand on her hip when she caught sight of
you brought the Ghost Busters along, huh?” she
said, looking the Winchesters over a little warily.
shook his head. “Honey, we talked about this,”
he said, his voice attempting to be soothing and / or
placating. “Sam’s a friend from school.”
held out his hand and Daisy shook it a little reluctantly.
to meet you,” Sam said, smiling brightly.
didn’t seem too convinced, merely tipping her
head at him in acknowledgement.
and his brother are interested in—uh—unusual
phenomena,” Zach continued, gesturing at Dean,
who stepped forward.
he introduced himself. “Only go by ‘Sam’s
brother’ at parties.”
looked him over for a long moment—probably a little
longer than even Dean was used to being looked over
by attractive young women, Sam figured. His big brother
started to shift uneasily, and Daisy merely tilted her
head to one side before asking, “I know you?”
shrugged. “Depends if you’ve ever been to
one of those parties,” he replied.
continued to look at him a little suspiciously. “You
remind me of someone…” she said, trailing
off as she considered.
Depp? Rudolph Valentino?”
granddad,” Daisy decided eventually. “He’s
recoiled a little. “Gee, thanks,” he managed.
the freckles,” Daisy informed him. “And
you should look so good when you’re eighty-six.”
forced a polite laugh before muttering, “Somehow
I don’t think I’ll make it to eighty-six,
you wanna see my bones?” Daisy asked suddenly,
changing tack so quickly Sam almost felt seasick.
sure,” he agreed, following the young woman over
to the trench.
trailed along behind him, Zach bringing up the rear.
Daisy said, pointing down into the excavation. She scratched
at her ball cap as Sam and Dean peered down into the
hole. “Carbon dating’s proved pretty inconclusive.
Can’t seem to get any kind of reading that’ll
enable me to date the bones.” She shook her head,
exasperated. “They could have been here a week
or a couple of millennia for all I can tell.”
ran his gaze the length of the trench, taking in the
almost-complete human skeleton unearthed below him.
“So apart from not being able to tell how old
they are,” he asked, “what’s so special
about these bones in particular?”
jumped down into the trench, gently lifting what Sam
figured looked vaguely like a shoulder blade. “You
see this?” she said, pointing to an odd protuberance
branching up from the bone. She made no further comment,
and Sam was left to nod dumbly, trying to figure out
where he’d seen something like that before.
an anatomy textbook.
the section on birds….
almost laughed out loud. “You have got
to be kidding me!” he burst out, glancing sideways
at Dean, who was frowning at the skeleton, his head
skewed slightly to the side.
that what I think it is…?” the older brother
Sam burst out. “Seriously?”
climbed back up out of the trench, shrugging a little
defensively. “It’s not that much of a stretch,”
she informed him. “Mount Diablo’s an incredibly
important sacred site to the local Native American tribes.
According to Miwok and Ohlone creation mythology, this
is where the creator Coyote made man and the world…”
Zach mentioned that,” Sam intoned, eyes never
leaving the skeleton laid out at his feet. “But
on, wait,” Dean said suddenly, raising a hand.
“You’re saying this is an angel?”
He glanced first at Sam and then at Zach. “Dude,
you brought us here for friggin’ angels?”
Zach looked vaguely taken aback. “Wait, no! Angels?
Hell, no! I brought you here because I was worried about
the earthquakes! I swear!”
Daisy spat. “You told me you were bringing them
here to look at the bones—!”
gaze skittered from Daisy to the Winchesters and back
again. “I didn’t—” He looked
back to Daisy. “Honey, I was worried—”
earthquakes?” Daisy burst out, squaring up
to him. “Dammit, Zach, I am not being
followed around by freakin’ earthquakes!”
think I’m a freak, is that it? You think I’m
causing earthquakes somehow? Tell me how, Zach, huh?
baby, I was just worried about you! I never said you
were a—a freak! It’s just—well, Sam
and Dean deal with this kind of—stuff—all
the time and I thought, if something was after you,
then they’d be able to help—”
me?” Daisy echoed. “What the hell could
be after me, Zach? Something that causes earthquakes?
Are you out of your mind?”
the ground beneath their feet began to tremble and Sam
glanced up at Dean who was standing closest to the trench.
Rocks began to slide down into the excavation, and Dean
backed away from the edge, the trembling increasing
to a definite shake as Daisy froze completely, her cheeks
flushed and her hands balled into fists at her sides.
think maybe we need to get out of here,” Dean
suggested as the quaking intensified, almost throwing
him to his knees as the dull rumble increased to a deafening
think maybe you’re right,” Sam agreed, catching
Zach’s arm as Dean grabbed hold of Daisy, just
as an ear-shattering crack echoed all around them, and
the ground started to split apart at their feet.
crack rapidly zigzagged out from where they were standing,
reaching out to the base of the mountain in a matter
of seconds, widening instant by instant as the ground
shook itself mercilessly and rocks the size of a person’s
head began to bounce down from the summit of Mount Diablo.
Sam ordered, pointing to Daisy’s battered old
vehicle even as he urged Zach toward it.
followed suit, virtually dragging Daisy in his wake.
She seemed to be in shock, staring up at the trembling
mountain above her as if there wasn’t a huge crack
forming in the ground right beneath her feet.
the crack widened still further, more incongruously
white bones were thrown up toward the surface as the
earth underneath churned and juddered, and Daisy seemed
unable to tear her gaze away.
on!” Dean yelled at her, pulling hard.
“Or do you wanna end up some archaeology
chick’s big find in a couple hundred years time?”
finally looked at him, shaking her head as her face
paled, letting him pull her over to the relative shelter
of the Jeep, which Sam and Zach were already crawling
shoved her under in front of him before throwing himself
to the ground as a sound like an explosion ripped through
the air above their heads and rock began to rain down
all around them.
scrambled out from beneath the Jeep, crawling over to
Dean and grabbing hold of his arm. “C’mon!”
He half-dragged his brother back under the Jeep with
him, the ground continuing to shudder and rock like
a carnival cakewalk on a Saturday night.
I don’t know how you did it but you found something
worse than camping,” Dean bellowed in
his ear. “If this keeps up they’re gonna
be digging us out with the angels!”
I can’t lose those bones!” Daisy suddenly
piped up. “It can’t all be buried—I’ve
been working on this for months and I can’t
lose it all now!”
she spoke, the violent quaking all around them seemed
to lessen, the continuous rattle of rocks sliding down
the side of Mount Diablo beginning to subside and the
ominous rumble emanating from the ground beneath them
fading to a dull throb.
took a breath, his fingers cramping from the hold they
still had on Dean’s shirt.
it over?” Dean asked, peering out from underneath
the Jeep as the dust began to settle all around them.
if in response the ground gave one last heave before
everything stopped, an eerie silence falling over the
mountain and the park beneath.
crawled out from under the Jeep, Dean close on his heels
as Zach and Daisy hesitated before finally following
themselves to their feet, they surveyed the scene around
and dislodged earth choked the air, a haze obscuring
Mount Diablo’s twin peaks, and the crack that
had opened from the base of the mountain to Daisy’s
dig site was now a yawning chasm, maybe fifteen feet
wide and who knew how deep. Bones protruded from the
walls of the opening, hundreds of them, and Sam couldn’t
help wondering how many—People? Angels?—had
moved cautiously over to the edge of the crack, peering
down at the newly-unearthed bones, shaking her head
as if she didn’t quite believe it. “What
turned toward Dean at the summons, but his brother wasn’t
looking at him—he was looking up at the mountain.
Sam followed the direction of his gaze, to a large pile
of rocks at the base of the mountain and a huge jagged
hole in the side of Mount Diablo itself—a hole
that hadn’t been there before the quake.
and Daisy had also turned to see what the brothers were
looking at, Zach mumbling hopefully, “Wind caves,
right? Like at Rock City?”
shook her head. “Too big,” she said. “It
looks more like…the entrance to something bigger…”
took off at a trot, Sam and Dean exchanging a glance
before setting off after her.
Sam called. “Maybe we ought to come up with a
plan before we charge right on in there…”
glanced back at him, but didn’t slow her forward
motion. “What? Why?” she demanded, if anything
quickening her pace. “This could be what I’ve
been looking for since I got here!”
it could also be dangerous!” Dean cautioned her.
“We don’t know what’s in there!”
didn’t even spare him a backward glance. “What,
you think there’s gonna be a monster
in there or something?” she said sarcastically.
“I thought you guys did this for a living? What
are you afraid of?”
paused to produce a sawed off shotgun from the duffel
he’d lugged from the Impala, breaking it open
and inserting a couple of shells before answering with
a grim smile, “Nothing now, sweetheart.”
frowned at him, obviously disapproving of his use of
firearms, before she began to climb up the pile of blasted
rock which led to the hole in the side of the mountain.
“Boys with toys,” she muttered, scrambling
to the top and pausing when she reached what was obviously
the entrance to a cavern of some sort. She shook her
head as she glanced behind her, Dean then Sam and finally
Zach climbing up next to her. “This shouldn’t
be here,” she told them, pointing at the rough-hewn
hole which seemed to have been blasted outwards from
certainly explained the pile of rock they’d just
climbed up, Sam observed, squinting into the cavernous
black opening, able to see little but the couple of
feet illuminated by the dust-hazy sunlight.
are a few small caves in the area,” Daisy continued,
taking a step toward the opening. “Over in Rock
City, a couple of miles from here. Wind caves, where
the rock’s eroded,” she added. “But
nothing like this.” She took another step, crossing
the threshold into the cavern, seemingly oblivious to
her companions. “Can’t see a damn thing
in here,” she muttered, startling when Dean suddenly
put a hand on her arm.
on,” he instructed her, grinning as he produced
a couple of flashlights from the duffel. He tossed one
to Sam before taking a cautious step into the dark opening
in the rock. “Okay, now we can at least see the
monsters before they eat us,” he quipped.
not funny,” Daisy told him, before motioning to
the duffel with a flick of her head. “You know,
it’s painfully obvious to me now that you guys
aren’t really Ghost Busters at all.” Dean
raised a brow at her, and she flashed a grin at him
bright enough to rival his own. “You’re
own grin widened in response. “Be prepared, sweetheart,”
he said. “Always been my motto. Right, Sammy?”
huffed. “Not really the one that springs to mind,
Dean,” he observed. “‘Shoot first,
don’t bother with questions at all,’ maybe.
Or ‘Hi there, I’m Dean, I’m an Aquarius.’
Oh and let’s not forget the immortal ‘Are
pulled a face at him. “Dude, you’re pissy
when you get PMS.”
kids?” Daisy interrupted. “Find of the century,
deep dark previously undiscovered cavern in the side
of a mountain could be full of monsters kinda deal going
on over here.”
tore his attention away from Sam for a second. “I
know,” he protested. “I was getting to it.”
that, he took point, inching his way cautiously into
the cavern, Sam on his heels trying but failing to keep
Daisy behind him.
Dean whistled as he came to a dead stop a few feet into
the side of the mountain. “This ain’t no
couldn’t help whistling himself as he drew level
with his brother, casting an awestruck gaze about him.
cavern was huge, so big in fact that the boys’
flashlights made virtually no impact on the inky darkness;
and yet light seemed to be coming from somewhere, because
if Sam squinted hard enough he could see that the rocky
floor sloped down gently in front of them, while the
ceiling swept up for at least a couple of hundred feet
above their heads.
can’t be here naturally,” Daisy breathed,
gazing around the cavernous expanse before her.
not?” Sam asked, trying to keep pace with her
as she started forward once more, Dean flanking her
warily on her opposite side.
gestured up toward the ceiling. “This! All of
this! It’s too—it’s just—something
this massive just shouldn’t be here! I’m
no geologist, but I’m guessing only an underground
water source could erode a mountain from the inside
this way, and although, granted, millions of years ago
Mount Diablo was surrounded by sea, right now there’s
no water down here that could have done this—”
water like that, you mean?” Dean swung his flashlight
further into the cavern, the beam glinting off something
that at first glance appeared to be a huge sheet of
black glass stretching from one side of the cavern floor
to the other.
took another couple of steps down into the cave, blinking
in disbelief. “That can’t be here…”
shone his own flashlight further down into the cavern,
finally managing to overtake Daisy as she stopped dead
to stare in the direction of the beam.
a lake,” he breathed, the sheer size of the body
of water stretching out in front of him truly breathtaking
in its almost unnaturally glassy stillness.
moved up to his shoulder. “Thanks for pointing
that out, Joe College,” he muttered. “But
what the hell is a lake doing here?”
that—steam?” Zach suddenly drew up behind
them, squinting as the flashlight beams illuminated
white vapor rising from the lake’s obsidian surface.
continued to shake her head. “That’s not
possible,” she asserted once again. “There’s
no volcanic activity in this area. What could be heating
it? Hell, there shouldn’t even be any water
here, much less steaming water!”
played his flashlight along the edges of the lake, the
beam reflected back by shards of unnatural whiteness
scattered around the earth in stark contrast to the
blackness of the water. “More bones,” he
observed, as Dean took a few steps closer, his own flashlight
picking out more of the remains.
everywhere,” Dean said slowly, sounding a little
unnerved. “Look. They’re all around the
they were: unnaturally white bones scattered around
the entire circumference of the water, almost as if….
a pattern,” Sam said suddenly, catching the skeptical
look Dean shot his way. “Almost as if they’d
been arranged by…someone…”
cultures—the ancient Romans, for example—sometimes
used to leave the remains of the fallen on the battlefield
after the fighting was over,” Daisy told them.
“As a warning.”
glanced back at her. “You think that’s what
this is?” he asked. “A battlefield?”
shrugged. “Or a warning.”
warning against what?” Dean asked. “What
the hell happened here? Seriously—winged skeletons,
mountains with holes where there shouldn’t be,
lakes that shouldn’t exist…?” He trailed
off as the ground beneath their feet began to tremble.
again,” Zach moaned.
this vibration wasn’t anything like the tremors
they had felt earlier.
was rhythmic; ordered. Unnatural.
each thud, ripples broke from the center of the lake,
gentle at first until the rhythmic pounding began to
increase in intensity and the water began to lap more
and more violently against the rocky cavern floor.
Dean began. “Maybe we oughtta…”
thud more violent than any preceding it shook the cavern
floor, throwing them all to their knees as rocks were
shaken loose from the ceiling and began to rain down
all around them. As the vibrations increased in intensity
and violence, the whole cavern seemed about to collapse
on top of them, and as Sam dragged himself to his feet
he caught sight of the lake.
Dean yelled, struggling to his feet next to him. “We
gotta go…!” He was tugging at Sam’s
shirt, but Sam wasn’t moving, staring transfixed
at the lake, not at his brother.
Sam said slowly. “The lake. It’s—it’s
the episode here