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03 January 2010 @ 03:52 pm
After the Flood (The Beaten and the Damned Remix) 2/3  
Title: After the Flood (The Beaten and the Damned Remix)
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: R
Word Count: ~6000 (total)
Characters: Dean and Sam, Dean and John (gen)
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: None.
Summary: Some kinds of ugliness take a long time to fade.
Warnings: Bad language. Show-type levels of violence, gore and murder. Violence against children, not perpetrated against, or by, any Winchesters.
Author's note: This fic is a remix of
After the Flood by i_speak_tongue  for the Dean-focused h/c remix challenge at hoodie_time . With huge thanks to i_speak_tongue  for the liberties she's allowed me to take with her fic.

(Part one)

Now, New Hampshire

Missing kids always made for a bitch of a case. Paranoid law-enforcement, rushing everywhere because they didn't want to be caught moseying on the six o'clock news. Television vans lined up on verges, and camera crews all through the streets, trying frantically to find people that hadn't already been interviewed. Parents too broken-hearted to answer questions about strange noises, and cold spots. And suspicion slopping over everyone and everything like grease.

It had been six months since the last one had vanished – Tamara Jones - and the town had settled a little, like debris after an earthquake. The missing children posters, stuck to the clapboard of the town library, were tattered and faded, despite their protective layers of plastic. School photos and candid shots, they were a bunch of happy little kids, and Dean hadn't wanted to look at them.

Sam had done most of the research, had stuck copies of the pictures around the walls of their motel room, along with heavily abbreviated details of their disappearances. They'd told the local sheriff, the motel manager, and the school principal that they were writing a report on the disappearances for some child exploitation taskforce, because it paid to be obviously on the side of the angels when it came to cases like those. People in the town hadn't been unhelpful, exactly, but the missing children were like scraped raw flesh that had just started to scab, and no one wanted to pick at the edges too hard.

Dean sank onto his bed, onto the blue bedspread that looked, miraculously, like it had recently been run through a washer and dryer.

"Can I help?"

Sam was consulting one of the books piled up next to his laptop. They had been in town for two weeks, long enough for Sam to have commandeered the desk in the room, and Dean recognised the arrangement of books and papers and pens from the twice he'd broken into Sam's dorm at Stanford.

"I've got it." Sam frowned at the book in his hand. "You could just watch TV?"

Dean sat, the protest lodged in his throat, and then shrugged and flicked the box on. He'd read enough about occult uses for children's body parts.

"Can we watch this?"

"Huh?" His fingers paused on the remote.

Sam looked up from his book. "I like this show."

Huh. Dean liked TV because it was noise, a warm hum of sound that let his thoughts spin and sort in the background. He'd kind of given up on following shows when he was younger. He and Sam would get all into some cartoon or other, and then John would come back from somewhere and drag them on to the next place, which might have an affiliate that wasn't airing that show. Or he might flip the TV off himself, and say boys, don't you have anything better to do?, which meant go do some training¸ clear as a bell. Sam would drag himself off the sofa, protest clear in every line of his body, and Dean would hold himself tight for the moment their dad would start to yell.

The show Sam wanted to watch was some kind of drama about making a TV show, which seemed kind of pointless to Dean. He liked it when they watched crime shows – or shows about stuff that went bump in the dark – and got to say mean, sarcastic things about the detectives. Except Scully. She may not be a believer, but he wouldn't hear anything said about Scully.

He half-watched, conscious that Sam was smiling for the first time in days, and it wasn't until the third mention of Hurricane Katrina that he felt the lurch of apprehension. The people – producers? – of the fictional show were making a Christmas episode, and they were paying some refugee musicians from New Orleans to play some Christmas song over a backdrop of shots from the flood.

Huh. "Typical," he said, and he hadn't really meant to.

Sam looked at him. "Typical?" He sounded mellow enough, not like the Sam who would narrow his eyes and bludgeon people with his rightness until they just gave up.

He cleared his throat. "Like playing one Christmas show and making everyone feel better about themselves is going to fix everything for these guys."

Sam frowned. "Better than nothing." He still had that uncertain tone in his voice like he wasn't sure what was happening.

Dean shook his head, felt his chest tighten. "Whatever." He stood up. "I'm going for a walk."

"It's like ten below out there."

"I'll remember my mittens."

"Dean—"

"See you later, Sam."

Dean put on his boots, his jacket, his hat, and his gloves and swung open the door.

--

2006, New Orleans

He came to chained to a wall, and that was never fucking good. He did an inventory with his eyes still closed, because the first rule of Fight Club was that sometimes it paid to keep the fact that you were conscious to your own damn self. His head ached. Someone – something – had taken his boots and his gun. His shoulder hurt enough to be dislocated, and the fingers on his left hand felt broken. He was sitting on a wooden floor. He smelled mold and piss, but, shifting slightly and feeling dry-ish denim against his skin, he didn't think it was his. Not yet, anyway, and with that thought, he opened his eyes.

There was a kid's face about a foot away from his. He blinked. So did the kid.

"Who are you?" She looked about seven. Maybe younger, and wearing a denim skirt and a green t-shirt. She didn't have any socks on and, even in the half-light, he could see that her feet were dirty.

"I'm Dean." His throat was rough, and he would have given all the money he had for one of the beers he'd just bought. "Who're you?"

"Serafine Hardy." She moved away from him, as if she'd suddenly realised how close she was standing. "I'm six."

"Pleased to meet you Serafine." He licked his lips. "That's a pretty name."

She nodded. "It was my great-great-great grandmas."

"That's nice." He was grasping for some kind of segue into the scary-ass questions that he had to ask the kid. "Um— "

A floorboard creaked, somewhere outside the room that they were in, and Serafine's face turned the colour of ash. Question asked, and answered.

"Sit down," Dean said, as quietly as he could. "Close your eyes like you're asleep."

She obeyed him, slumping to the floor against the same wall he was attached to. He felt the temperature drop in the room, watched his breath hang in the air like steam, and he didn't need an EMF meter to know that there was something else there.

The floor dipped slightly, underneath him, and then there was a man standing in the room, holding two children in his arms like they had fallen asleep in the car, and he was just carrying them upstairs to bed. He dropped them, just let them fall to the floor like sacks of grain, and Dean swallowed a gasp.

"Serafine," he said, and his voice was normal. Shapeshifter, Dean's brain supplied, but he could see the flicker of an older man in the corner of the room, like a broken projection, and he'd never heard of a shapeshifter working with a spirit. "I know you're not sleeping."

Dean felt, rather than saw, Serafine open her eyes.

"Come with me, baby," the man said, and she whimpered into her hand.

Dean sucked a breath in. "Leave her the fuck alone," he said. "Take me, instead."

"Serafine." The man cocked his head to one side. "I won't ask you again."

She stood up, and he waited until she was by his side before taking her hand and half-dragging her out of the door.

--

2007, New Orleans

It took him a while to find the place, but it was half a miracle that he found it at all, given that he was unconscious going in, and barely conscious coming out. It looked nothing like it did when he dreamt about it, but it was almost spookier that it was behind a perfectly ordinary door, instead of the gaping black maw that was enough to jerk him awake, heart pounding like he'd run a race.

He was no coward, he knew, but he stood at the top of the stairs with chills running up and down his spine, and it took him a long time to force himself to move down the stinking steps on shaking legs.

The hallway was long, and the door seemed to kaleidoscope away from him. He was dizzy, heart hammering against his ribs, and there was a metallic taste in his mouth, like he had a penny tucked under his tongue. He couldn't go back, though, not when he had the bowed wood of the door under his fingertips, and he pushed it open.

It was almost a moment of relief when he realised that there was nothing there but him, and he reckoned that his father must have had someone salt and burn the bodies they'd left behind. He breathed in, shaky, and the smell was rank but he was pretty sure that he didn't have actual evil in his lungs. He breathed out, as slow and steady as he could, and it wasn't, but that was okay. He had never thought that this was going to be a cakewalk.

He had almost convinced himself with his own brave little toaster act, that this was going to be five minutes of ripping the bandaid off before he could move on with his life, when he saw the red stain on the floor. His knees gave out, almost before he had realised what was happening, and then he was howling, sobs coming out so hard and so fast that he could barely breathe through them, and he thought he might actually choke on his own snot and die.

A floorboard creaked in the hall, and he'd thought he'd felt terror before then, but this was like a bolt of adrenaline so intense that it actually hurt, and he felt his head jerk on the end of his neck.

"It's okay, son." His father's voice, and that made no fucking sense. "I got you, Deano."

He was kneeling on the floor, on a rug that reeked of floodwater and death, and John had his arms round Dean, tight and strong across his shoulders, one hand holding the back of his head, fingers warm against his scalp.

Dean fisted his hands in his father's shirt, and he could hear his heartbeat, steady and strong, even over the sounds he was making, and if he had any control at all then he wouldn't be making those noises where anybody could hear him.

"It's gonna be okay, Dean." His father just kept talking, and talking, it'sallokitwillbeokeverything'sgonnabeok, fingers ruffling Dean's hair, and Dean kept crying, open mouthed, crying like something inside was just broken, into his father's shirtfront.

And then, slowly, the world filtered back, gray round the edges, and he could feel his knees, mashed against the floor. His breath hitched wetly in his chest, but there was no noise being carried on it anymore. His whole body ached, and he was damp with sweat, and John let him push himself out of his embrace.

Dean cleared his throat, and wiped his nose on the back of his hand. Things fell into place, like tumblers on a slot machine. "This is what we were really in New Orleans for?" He got to his feet, unsteady like a newborn colt.

John nodded, standing up. "Yeah."

Dean felt a wash of shame. Gritted his teeth. "I'm—"

"Don't you dare apologise to me, son." John's tone was fierce.

"Sir?" Dean looked at John's ear.

"If what happened last year hadn't broken your heart then you wouldn't be the kind of man I would want to know."

"I—" Dean scrubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. Looked his father in the eye. He was so damn tired. "Thanks. Thank you."

John nodded.

(Part three)