maychorian: (Cas - Old Jimmy with cocoa)
[personal profile] maychorian
Fandom: Supernatural
Title: Chapter 4: Your Children Might Burn (Coming Down Book 3)
Author: Maychorian
Characters: Winchester Ensemble
Category: Gen, AU, Family
Rating: T/PG13
Warning: (skip) Language. Allusions to child abuse
Spoilers: S4, previous stories in 'verse.
Summary: John Winchester has four sons, but to an outside observer, he appears to have only three. Their mission is to stop the Apocalypse before it starts.
Word Count: ~6000 (this part)
 Author’s Note: Coming Down on a Sunny Day master list, and YouTube Playlist, from whence came the titles.

Coming Down on a Sunny Day
Book 3: The Children of Azazel

Chapter 4: Your Children Might Burn

Saturday at the park. Jake was pleased to see both Jimmy and Sammy, and he waved at them with both arms across the field when he saw them approaching from the parking lot. They both wore jeans and white t-shirts, looking more like clean-cut kids from the fifties than their usual redneck style. The day was warm, the first almost-hot day of spring, so there was no need for plaid flannel and layers of shirts. The sky was clear, too, brilliant and blue, not a cloud in sight, and Jake was looking forward to a great afternoon of throwing Frisbees and refraining from tackling anybody.

He jogged over to meet them, one of their best flying discs in his hand.

"Hey, Sammy. Hey, Jimmy. Glad ya made it!"

Sammy grinned back at him, broad and happy, bouncing on his heels, and Jimmy smiled. It was the first time Jake had seen one of those from Jimmy, and it was a little startling. The smile moved Jimmy's entire face, sparkling in his eyes and relaxing every muscle. He even stood less stiff and rigid than usual, his arms hanging loosely from his shoulders. He looked like a real boy.

"Hey, Jimmy. You wanna play some Frisbee?"

Sammy glanced up at his big brother, waiting for the answer, too. Jimmy looked over the field of guys tossing discs and warming up. "Are you sure I'm not too old? I don't want to have an unfair advantage."

Jake glanced over the guys, then turned back, waving a hand in dismissal. "Nah, man, you're good. C'mon. One game?"

"Sure. Just one. You're gonna have trouble keeping up with me."

Jimmy took the disc from Jake's hand and strode confidently out into the field. Sammy stayed behind to roll his eyes at Jake. "My brother the Frisbee stud. Don't worry—it's all talk."

Jake laughed and clapped his shoulder, then jogged out into the field. He didn't care if it was all talk—it was hilarious to see Sammy's weirdest brother so relaxed and self-assured. It wasn't a side that Jake would have suspected that Jimmy had, but it was really fun to see it come out.

Jimmy really wasn't half-bad at the game. He wasn't the best player on their team, but he was up there, and he threw some really good, sharp passes that had the other team scrambling to keep up. He had a preference for throwing to Jake and Sammy, too, which was bonus. Sometimes in a really big game like this, playing with older teenagers, it was tough to actually get a chance at the Frisbee. Jimmy made sure, with his tall frame and quick grip, that he got hold of the disc a lot, and he passed to Jake and Sammy more often than he didn't.

Their team didn't win, but it was close, and when the game ended Jake ran around the field with his arms above his head in a V-shape, yelling his joy in a long, unending, "Whooooooooo!" He passed each of his teammates in turn, getting them to high five him really high, heading last to Sammy and Jimmy.

"Winchesters! Yeah!"

Jimmy had to lower his hand a bit so Sammy could slap it, strong enough to make it sting. He turned to Jimmy, who was grinning that face-changing grin again, transforming everything on him to something young and relaxed and infinitely human.

"Yeah, man, gimme five!"

"We didn't even win," Jimmy said, still grinning, but he gave Jake five, way up high like he wanted, and Jake danced around in a circle, kicking at the grass.

"Yeah, but we were close, and most of the other team is way older than our team. We did awesome." He stopped spinning to look Jimmy in the eye, his head swooping a little with the sudden cessation of motion. "You gotta keep playing with us, dude. You're pretty much the best big brother ever."

Jimmy tilted his hand back and forth. "Well, I dunno about that. I think Sammy would agree that it's a pretty close contest between me and Dean." He reached over to ruffle the kid's hair, and Sammy glared at him and stepped back, smoothing it down again.

He nodded, though. "Yeah, it's too close to call between Dean and Jimmy, really. The days when Dean doesn't call me 'bitch,' he usually wins, but he calls me that a lot, so..."

Jake laughed, throwing his head back, then looked at Jimmy. "But you'll keep playing, right? I know you said one game, but come on. I know you have more in you."

Jimmy shook his head, reluctantly but firmly. Jake noticed that his chest was still heaving, minutes after the game had officially ended. His pale face was flushed red from his cheekbones to his neck, and his black hair glistened with sweat. "It was fun, man, but I'm gonna have to sit the next one out."

Jake groaned in regret, but he couldn't really blame the guy. He looked completely done. And he had been a madman out there for this game, throwing himself all over the field to snag the Frisbee. Jake nodded and backed off, pointing at Jimmy with one insistent finger. "But next game, right? You'll sit this one out and get the next one."

Jimmy huffed a breathless laugh. "Maybe."

"Okay." Close enough. Jake turned and jogged back to the rest of the team.

He thought he heard behind him Jimmy's voice, quiet and clear, "I'll keep watch for awhile," obviously meant just for Sammy. But that was a really weird thing to say. Jake must have misheard it.

Jake and Sammy threw themselves into the next game with abandon. Jimmy perched on a picnic table just off the field and watched them, his butt on the table, feet perched on the bench, hands folded in front of him. Jake glanced over now and then to see what he was doing. Jimmy sat there, straight and still, in the same position every time Jake turned to look. His posture was rigid and posed once again, like an action figure that could almost, but not quite, pass for the hero it was emulating.

After a while Jake quit looking over, too busy trying to run for the Frisbee. The game was still fun, even without a tall, disc-snatching older brother passing to him constantly. Sammy enjoyed himself, too, leaping for the disc, rolling in the grass when he missed and laughing at his failures.

The action had moved down to the other end of the field and Jake was standing still, waiting for it to come back, when a hand suddenly landed on his shoulder, heavy and hard. He looked up, eyes wide, and Jimmy looked back at him grimly, bright eyes set like stones in his pale face. "Run."

The word was as heavy and hard as his hand, and he was already dragging Jake with him, Sammy by his side.

"What, why..."

"Now," Jimmy growled, his voice a low pistol shot of command, and Jake ran.

The rest of the kids on the field stayed were they were, some of them watching the three running away as if wolves were at their heels. Jake didn't have the time to be embarrassed—Jimmy's voice had been too urgent, too compelling. He couldn't possibly have ignored it. It didn't matter why they were running—they just had to run.

Jimmy led him and Sammy to a picnic pavilion practically on the other side of the park. They dashed under the shelter of the open-sided wooden structure, sneakers pounding on grass, then the concrete slab.

What sounded like a cannon burst shook the world, and the sky opened in a torrent that seemed like an entire ocean pouring from the sky at once.

Jake and Sammy stood under the shelter, staring out at the park that had turned in a split second from a bright, cloudless day to a gray, wet, water-logged mess. The kids still in the field yelled and raised their hands above their heads, running for the scarce trees and for cars in the parking lot. The game was abandoned in an instant—Jake could even see the neon pink edge of the flying disc laying out there in the grass, hard drops of rain bouncing off the plastic into the air.

"What the hell, man?" Jake panted, trying to get his breath back from that headlong sprint. "Rain? You told us to run because of rain?"

Jimmy leaned on the railing with both hands, peering up at the sky with a flat expression, his mouth grim. "I don't like the rain."

"Really?" Jake stared at him with eyes so wide they almost hurt. He knew a lot of kids who didn't like the rain. Some adults, too. But he'd never heard quite that tone, something that bespoke a deep and abiding disdain, almost hatred, instead of just a passing distaste for unpleasant weather. "That bad, huh?"

"I don't like this rain," Jimmy clarified, sparing a moment to glance at Jake before returning his glare out to the dark gray sky as if staring down a lifelong nemesis. "It came too suddenly. It's not right."

Sammy moved up next to Jimmy, putting his shoulder against his brother's, and Jimmy looked down at his worried face and instantly softened. "It will be all right," he said, much lower and gentler. He even ruffled the kid's hair again, but the gesture didn't have the same playfulness as it had before.

Jake shook his head, having trouble reconciling this Jimmy with the guy who had run around the field like a pro, completely at ease with his body and having a great time. This was the Jimmy he'd first met in the parking lot, the one who didn't hold himself quite right. It didn't make sense.

Maybe...maybe this was how Jimmy reacted to stressful situations? Jerome got weird when he was upset, too. It wasn't like this, but... Maybe there were parallels. Jake shook his head, trying to shake off the strangeness of it all. It was just Jimmy being Jimmy.

Jake looked back out at the rain. The weather report this morning had been completely open. Said it was supposed to be sunny and clear till at least Wednesday. Jake hadn't seen a single cloud in the sky, not even as he was running with the Winchesters all the way over to this obscure pavilion. He hadn't even known this shelter was here, and he'd been to this park dozens of times.

"Hey..." Jake started slowly, and Jimmy and Sammy both looked over at him. Their eyes were wide and round in their white faces that suddenly stood out in the darkness of the stormy day, and once again Jake had a hard time believing that they weren't biological brothers. They just looked too similar, too in sync with each other.

"Hey, yeah," Jake said. "This storm... Wow, it was sudden. There was no way any of us could have seen it coming. And we got under here free and dry, not a drop on us." He held out his arms as if in proof. The Winchesters' white shirts showed not a single drop of rain.

"We are indeed fortunate," Jimmy said cautiously.

Jake shook his head again. "No. No way, man. I don't believe it. How did we get under here right before it burst?" He looked at Jimmy, though it suddenly took a lot of courage to meet that steady blue gaze. " did you know?"

For a moment they just stared at him, eyes wide, faces blank. It was as if they were frozen.

Jake swallowed, throat dry even as rain poured down all around them, filling the world with its rattle and roar, the mist of cold blowing in the pavilion and washing over them in waves that would have been refreshing if they weren't impossible. "You knew. You knew it was coming. How?"

Jimmy and Sammy looked at each other, and something passed between them. Jimmy raised an eyebrow, and Sammy bit his lower lip for a moment, then nodded, slow at first, then again, sharp and certain. They looked back to Jake, and Jimmy gestured toward the picnic tables in the middle of the pavilion.

"Let's sit down. I'll tell you, I promise. It will be the truth. And I will beg you to keep an open mind and try to believe me."

"Yeah, sure," Jake said, moving toward the table. He trusted Jimmy, weird as he was. He was sure it would be easy to believe, no matter what it was that he had to say.


He was wrong.


They didn’t start slow, take their time to work up to it. Jimmy and Sammy sat next to each other, Jake across from them. The Winchester boys both folded their hands on top of the table, sitting shoulder to shoulder, looking at Jake with those solemn expressions and innocent eyes. They were the most brotherly brothers he’d ever seen, even if their coloring was different—Sammy golden-haired and green-eyed and lightly tanned, Jimmy dark-haired and blue-eyed and pale from working indoors.

“We’ve been debating about whether or not to just tell you,” Jimmy said. “I thought you would believe me. Everyone else said it was a bad idea.”

Sammy rolled his eyes. “You’re simplifying.”

“Slightly.” Jimmy gave him a narrow-eyed look. “Would you like to tell him or shall I?”

Sammy waved a hand. “No, no, go ahead. It’s your story.”

“Just spit it out!” Jake said, as frustrated as he’d ever been in his life. “What, are you some kind of psychic? A weather wizard? Are you secretly Storm from the X-Men?”

Jimmy looked him straight in the eyes, unblinking and sincere. “No. I am an angel of the Lord.”

Jake leaned back, his hands limp on the table in front of him. For a moment his mind was completely blank, empty of questions and even thoughts. It was like being hit with a two-by-four right in the face. The impact set everything to zero for a bit.

Jimmy watched him carefully. “My true name is Castiel,” he said. “Jimmy is my vessel—I dwell inside him. You’ve met us both, and you’ve marked the difference. I’ve seen you doing it. Looking at us. Thinking. You know that what I’m saying is true.”

Jake shook his head, then couldn’t stop shaking it. He jumped up from the table and started pacing back and forth. The rain surrounded the pavilion in a solid gray wall, pounding against the roof, the edges of the concrete. The noise of it seemed to fill his brain, making it that much harder to think.

The Winchesters didn’t move. They sat at the table, watching him pace.

“No, no, I knew you were weird. I knew you had issues. I didn’t know you were actually a mental case.”

Jake whirled to Sammy, pointing at him. “You…you believe this, too? You’re as crazy as he is?”

Sammy grimaced. “I wouldn’t say I’m as crazy as Cas. He’s kinda special. But yeah, I believe him. I know it’s true. I’ve seen what he can do.”

“What he can do?” Jake looked at Jimmy. Castiel. Whatever. “You mean he can do stuff besides predict impossible storms? Or cause them, or whatever he did?”

Jimmy-Castiel-Whatever stared back at him, cool as the air blowing in on them from the torrential rain. “I saw it coming. I have senses beyond what humans are used to. I was only observing passively, otherwise I might have known it was arriving earlier and allowed us to get to better shelter.”

“At least this way you avoided a bloody nose,” Sammy said, and the creature that called himself his brother looked at him and gave a slow nod.

“Yes, I did. I didn’t want you and Dean fussing over me for days on end again.”

Sammy chuckled and shoved his arm, dislodging Jimmy-whatever’s careful pose. Jimmy sighed and rearranged himself, looking back to Jake.

Jake stomped forward and put his hands flat on the table, leaning forward into the guy’s face. “You say you’re an angel? Prove it.”

“He can’t,” Sammy said, and Jake swiveled his head to stare at him. Sammy didn’t flinch. “It’ll hurt him. What he’s done already will have to be enough.”

“Hurt him? Why?”

The supposed angel shifted in his seat at this, looking uncomfortable for the first time since this conversation began. Sammy explained it for him.

“His angel-body, which isn’t really a body, he calls it grace, but anyway. Cas’s real self was wounded years ago, right before he joined our family. He keeps trying to fix it, but he can’t, because… It’s too much to get into. Believe me when I say that he can do amazing things. But when he does, it lays him out flat. Even accidental discharges of his power give him these awful bloody noses. You saw one. You know how bad it was.”

Jake stood back from the table, his hands balled into fists at his side. He desperately wanted to run, to get away from these weirdos and their ridiculous words, their serious faces. He needed to find some place where he could sit alone and try to understand exactly what was going on here, exactly what the truth was. But the rain poured down all around them, and as agitated as Jake was, he still would rather not be soaking wet and shivering in his boots while he tried to figure this out.

So, after a moment of consideration, he sat at the table again. He looked them both in the eye, one after the other, and they looked back at him. They didn’t look like lunatics. They didn’t exactly look angels, either, but who was Jake to judge?

Jake drew in a deep breath, then took the plunge. “Tell me everything.”

It went on for quite a while. Jake had a lot of questions.

“So when you went on that camping trip up where all those people got killed…” Jake held his hand to his forehead to stave off the threatening headache. “You weren’t hunting rabbits.”

Sammy nodded. “We were hunting the gillyback. Nasty thing. Like a living… Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. We killed it.”

“I was worried about you. I watched the news, hoping I wouldn’t hear anything about more dead bodies up there. About you being dead.”

Sammy winced. “I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have worried. We were the dangerous ones in that situation, not that thing. It was no match for the four of us.”

“Don’t you mean ‘five of us?’” Jake glanced at Jimmy-Castiel.

Sammy shook his head. “Jimmy doesn’t fight or kill. Cas took care of that part. Jimmy really did make scrambled eggs, though. With bacon. It was awesome.”

Castiel nodded solemnly. Toward the beginning of the conversation he’d had Jimmy “come forward,” as they put it, to talk to Jake and try to help Sammy and Castiel convince Jake of what was going on. Jake hadn’t been able to ignore the differences between the human and the angel. Now that he’d seen them both consecutively, and heard the Winchesters’ lengthy explanations about how the weird arrangement worked, he was finding it a lot easier to believe. Jimmy and Castiel had a lot in common, and they were pretty good at imitating each other, but if you knew what to look for it was impossible not to see it.

There were two people in that body. Sharing it. Talking to each other inside their skull. Taking turns to do the physical stuff. It was beyond disconcerting even to contemplate, much less live it, but already Jake was sort of getting used to the idea. Sammy and Castiel (and Jimmy) made it seem almost normal. Jake supposed it was normal, to them.

“But you wanted me to go with you,” Jake said. “And you were planning on hunting a monster the entire time?”

“Yeah. You would have been safe, I promise. We just wanted to show you the truth about the world, because it’s important that you know. There’s stuff going on that you need to be prepared for.”


And then they got into that whole thing. That was even worse. By the end of it, Jake just wanted to go home and take a nap and forget everything about this afternoon. Castiel looked regretful and Sammy was grim, and Jake got the feeling that Jimmy was glad he didn’t have to be the one telling a fourteen-year-old-kid all about how he’d been irrevocably twisted by demon blood when he was an infant. But all three were in agreement that Jake needed to know, he needed to understand.

Jake wanted to tell them they were wrong. He would have been better off never knowing any of this. It was too much. It was going to crush him.

But there was Sammy, this skinny little white kid, sitting straight and still on the bench, his chin up, his eyes calm. He had known about this for a lot longer than Jake had, had been carrying the weight of it for years. Heck, his family hunted monsters on the weekends. And he was fine. If he could do it, Jake could too. Right?

This was where Jake realized that he had passed the point of no return. He believed them. It didn’t even take any effort now. He just knew that what they were saying was true. No need to run off and think and figure it out and make logical arguments to himself about how it was too much, too detailed to be all made up, how it explained everything he’d ever thought was weird about the Winchesters. He believed them. He was now completely and totally part of their world, whether he wanted to be or not.

Sammy looked at him with deep sympathy in his eyes, and it occurred to Jake for the first time that he was very young. They were both young. They were just kids. So was Jimmy, really, not quite ten years older than them, an adult by the world’s measure, but he was a kid, too. When stacked up against angels and demons and the ancient struggle between heaven and hell, they were all children.

“I’m sorry,” Sammy said. “I wish we didn’t have to tell you all this. I wish it wasn’t true. As much as you’re wishing that right now, believe me—I’ve wanted it way more and for way longer.”

Jake nodded, his head in hands. His skull felt heavy in his palms, almost too much weight to bear. “I know.”

Castiel’s eyes, too, were large and regretful. “I know this is difficult to take in. And it pains me to have to press such enormous burdens on such young shoulders as yours and Sammy’s. But trust me when I say that it is much better for you to know now what is up ahead, so you can be prepared for it. These powers will manifest eventually, with or without advanced warning. Foresight is better than hindsight.”

“I can’t believe my mom would do that,” Jake said in a small voice. Sammy had told the story of how his mother had made a deal with a demon before he was born, which allowed this leader of Hell—Az-something—to come into his room when he was an infant and infect him. They hadn’t explicitly said that Jake’s mother had done the same thing, but he could put two and two together.

“She was probably under terrible pressure when she did it,” Castiel said gently. “Mary Winchester agreed to the bargain to save the life of the man she loved. Your mother might have been in the same sort of circumstances. We can’t know exactly what happened. But please don’t look poorly on her now. She is still the same person you know. One mistake, no matter how egregious, does not negate a life well lived.”

Jake nodded, slowly, wearily. He was abruptly exhausted, wanting nothing more than to put his head down on the raw planks of the picnic table and go to sleep. Even the rain seemed softer, not pounding down on the roof with the force a hail storm, but pattering all around in a continuous rush of flowing sound.

"What am I gonna do now?" he asked.

"You will continue to be yourself," Castiel said. "That is the first and most important thing."

"But we'll need you to help us convince your parents of what's going on, so they can help protect you," Sammy said. "It would have been easier if you and your dad had come on that hunting trip, but we'll figure something out."

"Mom... Mom must know already."

Castiel hummed thoughtfully. "Unless she has suppressed the memory or convinced herself that it was only a dream. But yes, she may be our ally in this."

"It's usually a lot easier," Sammy said. "There's usually a demon hanging out somewhere around, and Cas and Dean exorcise it or kill it or whatever, and then everybody's on board. After you've seen an exorcism, it's pretty hard to deny the existence of demons."

Jake raised his head from where it had been drooping to look at them again. "You've done this before."

Sammy nodded. "A bunch of times. We're collecting addresses and phone numbers. We'll put you in touch with the others."

"It is good to have allies," Castiel said.

"Good to have brothers, too," Sammy said, nudging his arm with a brilliant grin, and Cas gave him a tiny, barely-there smile.

"Good to have brothers," he echoed.

Sammy sat up and looked around. "Hey, the rain is letting up."

Jake straightened, following his gaze, and so did Castiel. The sheets of rain were lightening, becoming filmy and translucent. The world outside the pavilion was no longer curtained by dark gray. Even the breeze was more refreshing than freezing, now.

The park was drenched and saturated, all colors made brilliant by the sheen of liquid that coated them. The grass seemed greener than green, almost too vivid to belong to the earth, and the spring flowers that hadn't been beaten down by the torrent were splashes of brightness in the green and gray.

"We could go home," Jake said, hearing the note of hopefulness in his voice. There was a lot still to do, a lot that needed figuring out. He didn't know how they were going to tell his parents, how they would convince them. He didn't know, yet, exactly what the Winchesters were going to teach him so that he could protect himself and his family in the future. The more they told him, it seemed, the more he realized that he didn't know.

But the first hurdle had been passed. They'd been trying for weeks to find a way to tell him the truth, to initiate him into the world of the supernatural. And they'd succeeded.

"Yeah," Sammy said cheerfully. He stood up from the picnic table and stretched his limbs, walking over to the edge of the pavilion to peer out. "I can't wait to tell Dad and Dean about this afternoon. They're not gonna believe it."

Castiel sounded almost smug. "They underestimated Jake."

"Underestimated you, more like it."

Castiel shrugged at that, like he hadn't wanted to say it himself, but since Sam had, he was okay with it. It was such a strange image on the perpetually serious and severe creature, and yet so utterly fitting, that Jake burst out laughing. He laughed so hard and so violently that he doubled over and almost dumped himself onto the ground. The laughter was like a blast of wind, blowing away all the mixed-up thoughts and data and emotions that had cluttered his head. It was like being freed in an instant from a bad cold that filled his sinuses and weighed his chest down, making it hard to breathe. He gulped in fresh air and shot it out in bursts of hearty laughter, and felt like he was floating.

When he came back to himself from the sudden delirium, Sammy and Castiel were looking at him with bemused expressions.

"Okay, Chuckles, I think we can take you home now," Sammy said.

Castiel nodded. "That would be wise."

Jake looked around, his chest aching, still darting out little pellets of laughter like hiccups, popping out of him one after the other. The rain had let up almost completely, just a fine mist still falling gently from the sky. The day was beautiful once again, the sun shining through the water. If he faced the right way, he knew he would see rainbows.

"Yeah, let's go," he said, weary and complete in a way he'd never felt in his life. Like he'd been filled to the brim and emptied, a vessel now washed out and prepared for whatever came next.

Castiel led the way to the car, stepping around the puddles in the grass with a high, mincing step that made Jake think of cats, graceful and controlled, but disdainful of the mess caused by the rain. Sammy walked with Jake behind his angel-brother, chattering continuously about something Jake paid no attention to. He hummed and nodded in the right places, though, and Sammy didn't stop talking.

When they reached the parking lot, Castiel's stance and posture changed, turning more relaxed, less fluid. His heels popped off the pavement with youthful briskness, and he splashed through a shallow puddle without noticing it. Then he pulled out the keys for Dean's car, letting them jingle in his hand as they crossed the final distance to that long, black beauty, and Jake understood. Jimmy was the one who drove. Another accommodation, a trade-off of responsibility. A small gesture, but it all came crashing in on Jake once more.

This was real. This was really happening.

Jake stopped in his tracks, letting the Winchesters walk ahead of him. Jimmy slid into the driver's seat and started the car, leaving his door open to let in the fresh smell of the rain as he fiddled with the radio. The harmonic strains of some old folk group mingled with the growl of the car's engine.

Sammy opened the passenger door but didn't get in right away, standing there watching Jake across the pavement, his eyebrows raised. "You coming?"

"I...yeah." Jake looked around. Some of the kids they'd been playing with were starting to emerge from hiding places under trees and play equipment, looking up at the sky with shocked expressions. A lot of them were soaked, pulling at wet t-shirts and flapping them as if they would be able to get them dry in the newly emerged sun.

"Yeah, I'm coming. I'm just gonna say bye to some of my boys. Okay?"

"Are you okay? You're not... Um. You're not freaking out anymore?" Sammy fiddled with his hands on the top of the door, not quite able to meet Jake's eyes.

Jake took a deep breath and grinned as naturally as he could. It took some effort, but he did mean it. "Nah, man, I'm cool. Don't worry about it. We're good. Everything's good."

A relieved smile lit up Sammy's face, and Jake knew he had done the right thing. Everything was cool. Jimmy gave him a smile and a thumbs up through the windshield, and Jake smiled back. He liked Jimmy. He liked Castiel, too.

"I'll be right back." Jake gave them a nod and hurried off.


Jimmy leaned back in the driver’s seat, fitting snugly into the worn contours where Dad and Dean had sat for many hours and many miles. Sammy slid into the passenger side, leaving his door open. Jimmy’s favorite old Peter, Paul & Mary tape was in the player, Dean’s AC/DC and Metallica and Led Zeppelin consigned to the glove department while Jimmy had the keys. Dad had specifically gone to rescue that tape from the crash of Jimmy’s car last summer.

Sammy knew Jimmy missed his old Ford Tempo. Jimmy treasured his rare opportunities to drive the Impala, though he never said so aloud or complained about not having his own car. Sammy noticed, though.

“Hey,” Sammy said. “Tell Cas that was a great idea. Bringing a storm out of the blue sky like that and predicting it before it came. Probably the least traumatizing way we could have convinced him. We’ll have to remember that for next time.”

A cloud passed over Jimmy’s face, pulling his mouth down in a confused line, and he gave Sammy an unhappy look. “Castiel didn’t cause that storm.”

Sammy sat up straighter, his sense of peace dissipating just as the rain was already burning off in the renewed sunlight. “He didn’t?”

Jimmy shook his head. He sat forward and turned back the key, cutting off the children’s rhyme Mary was singing at the moment. “He didn’t lie about that. He was just passively observing, like he said. You really thought he could raise a storm without an almighty gusher of blood erupting from our nose?”

“I don’t know, I thought…” Sammy faced forward. He wasn’t smiling anymore. “I thought it was a great idea. Something obviously supernatural that wouldn’t cause any harm. But now…” He tilted his head to look at Jimmy, eyes widening. “What does it mean? If Cas didn’t do it, who did? Or what?”

Jimmy shook his head. “We don’t know.” A soft, troubled sigh slipped out—a very Jimmy-like sound. Cas’s few sighs were much more huffy and exasperated. He was kind of a grumpy angel, sometimes. “Castiel was just keeping an eye out, that was all. He wasn’t expecting any danger. By the time he realized what was coming, he had just enough time to grab you and Jake and run us into that pavilion before the storm hit. And then the business with Jake started, and he didn’t risk using a touch of power to stretch his senses out more fully. By the time he had a chance, the opportunity had passed.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think…” Sammy paused at Jimmy’s smirk. “He’s mad, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, he’s basically scolding you right now for assuming that he would lie, even for such a noble cause.” Jimmy’s voice was amused, but Sammy knew that Cas’s would not be.

“Well, it was… It was clever.” Sammy kicked the console in front of him, slouching down in his seat. “It seemed like a Cas sort of thing. When he can’t fight something physically, he thinks his way around it.”

“That’s true. He’s a smart guy, our angel.”

Quiet fell in the car again, both of them watching the park, waiting for Jake to return. Sammy could imagine Cas settling back down in Jimmy’s mind, mollified by the compliments but still grumbling quietly out of principle.

“But what does it mean?” Sammy asked. All he could think about was that sudden rain, so brutal and hard and viciously cold. “A storm like that. We all know it wasn’t natural.”

Jimmy frowned. “Yeah. Cas says storms like that usually herald the presence of some kind of heavy hitter. A few weather demi-gods could have done it, but most of them don’t have much power in the US. It’s more likely to be demons, or even angels, though none of them are expected down here for at least another ten years. Or…” Jimmy paused, taking time to work up to this last possibility. “It could be an omen.”

The brothers shared a long look. They didn’t have to say anything else.

Sammy craned forward to look out the windshield, watching the sky. It was clear and blue once more, yet felt as ominous and overbearing as if it were crowded with dark gray clouds shot through with lightning. They weren’t done in Colorado Springs.

Not by a long shot.

End of Book Three

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Next: Third Interlude

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