“He came to me yesterday evening.” Fran is looking down on her clasped hands as if to make sure they are hers again. “He was only a voice in my head. I was sure I had gone mad.” A small smile forms on her lips when she looks up at Dean again.
“How did he convince you?”
“He told me to cut my hand. I said no. He insisted.” She inhales deeply. “I finally did it. I thought the pain would rip me out of this hallucination and clear my head. I had read that somewhere.”
“The cut healed immediately. So I did it again. And again.” She chuckles without humor, a dry and bitter sound. Fran shrugs and faces him with big eyes. “I guess I was wrong. Angels do exist.”
“Yes, they do. But you were right with most of your findings before. Most of the legends and myths about them are wrong.” Dean tries to put all the empathy he has for her situation in his eyes – he doesn’t want her to question her life’s work.
“What’s wrong about the legends?”
“Well, for one, angels are dicks. Most of them anyway. They don’t care for humans all that much and always have some secret agenda.”
“How do you know that? You never mentioned any of this.” Her voice is still calm and she watches Dean with a steady gaze. He wonders if she just accepts everything he says as truth now. It doesn’t seem likely. Her scientist’s brain will catch up soon enough. Dean has to decide how much to tell her, and with a long look at her open face, he settles for the truth.
“Fran, I know the last day was a lot and I know how hard it is to have your worldview shattered like this, trust me, but there’s more I have to tell you.” She nods, just a slight tilt of her head and Dean feels something twist in his chest at the gesture. “Uhm, I don’t know how to phrase this….” Inhale, exhale, just do it. There’s no way he can think of to soften the blow. “I came from the future?”
Fran keeps staring and it’s starting to freak him out a bit. “What year?”
God, she must be really in shock. People in shock should put their heads down, right? He should know since he has to deal with people in this situation on a daily basis. But then again, Sam is the specialist for the comforting of victims and witnesses.
“Hmmm.” Fran stands and walks around the room. Her aristocratic posture and her immaculate clothes stand out against the rural interior. The room seems too small for her.
“So you’ve met angels before? Do they appear more often in your time?”
“Uh, yes, I guess. But I might be a special case. I’ll tell you later.”
“And you know this angel? The one that possessed me?” Her back is stiff and her voice controlled but Dean can see the light tremor in her hands.
“He didn’t possess you. He took you as a vessel. You did consent to that, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did. I didn’t think it would work though. I told him I didn’t believe in God and angels. It didn’t seem to matter.” Her voice is small. “I guess I’m not an atheist anymore then.”
“I don’t know. You didn’t believe in God because you had no proof. Now you have proof, at least for the existence of angels. I don’t know what that makes you, what that makes us. I sure as hell don’t put much stock in God saving me, or in him being a benevolent being. I always thought that is the core of faith.” She turns to him at that, and there’s that spark of curiosity she lost since yesterday. Her eyes are gleaming again. She sets aside everything else he said and goes straight for the fleshy bits.
“You met God?”
Telling his story takes hours, even if he concentrates on the most important events. Mom, dad and the demon, his time downstairs and Cas rescuing him, the almost apocalypse and bits and pieces of the later adventures.
They share a simple meal of bread and bacon and some strawberries from his garden for lunch. Fran listens quietly most of the time and Dean wonders what she thinks about his tale.
“So this angel, Castiel, he is not like the others?” she asks at one point.
“No,” Dean says with a soft smile, “he’s not.”
“You trust him?”
“More than almost anyone else,” he admits and it’s the truth. He trusts Cas with his life and with his soul, and the thought lets some of his anxiety melt, because nothing is lost yet. Maybe he can still convince Cas to help him. He just needs another chance to talk to him.
He must have zoned out a bit, because Fran says his name as if she has tried before. When his attention is back on her, she stays silent though, watches again, and he knows he’s being analyzed.
“Would you stop that?” He’s increasingly irritated by both her stare and the stretch of silence.
“Staring at me like I’m some kind of experiment, like you want to put me under a microscope.”
She smiles her cocky smile, the one that reminds him painfully of Charlie. Those two would have gotten along so well, he thinks, and his heart hurts.
“Oh I’d like that. You are a very fascinating man, Dean Winchester.”
When he ends his recollection of the things that will or might or might not happen to Lily and May, it’s the middle of the afternoon and they both are tired, despite copious amounts of coffee. He leaves Cas’ part out – just tells Fran about Lily and Ishim, and how he met Lily and wanted to right the wrongs done to her. Fran will know he’s not telling her the whole truth, and maybe he will fill the holes in his story later. Right now, he can’t bring himself to admit he’s done all this more for Cas than for Lily. He still feels raw about their encounter and he’s not sure how Fran would react to knowing Cas was among the angels that came to punish Lily.
They relocated to the bench Dean put next to the door, between two old rose bushes. The first bulbs are bursting with white and light pink blooms and the fragrance hangs in the air around them. Birds are singing and a soft breeze carries the scent of pine and earth over from the trees. It’s peaceful and Dean tries to feel grateful for that. Life here is nothing like what he’s used to. He can’t remember spending so much time outside, and it starts to show in the tan of his face and hands, and in the way his muscles get accustomed to the field work, and in the way he isn’t on alert 24/7. The angel blade is the only weapon he carries, but he doesn’t really miss his gun and the knifes. He feels lighter without them.
They stay silent for long minutes, following their own thoughts, coming back to look at each other and smile a little.
“How does is feel?” Dean asks at last.
“What? Being a vessel?”
Fran smoothes a non-existent wrinkle out of her dress. “In all those years, you never… had one of them inside of you?”
Dead cringes. Surely she must know how that sounds. Fran’s chuckle confirms his suspicion. It’s good to know she’s well again to make puns, and absolutely inappropriate ones at that, given the year and the area.
But at the same time he can’t help the wistful undertone when he says “No, I haven’t.” Because a bad joke is enough to remind him of all the things he might never get a chance to say to Cas or share with him. He misses him, his Cas, with a sudden fierceness that makes his lungs constrict and his whole body ache.
Fran’s laugh cuts off immediately. “Oh.”
Dean doesn’t know what she thinks she just found out, but her soft tone indicates she’s not far from the truth. He doesn’t want to see her pity him, so he lets his eyes wander over the flowers in front of them, buzzing with bees, down the lane to his house, along the dark green wheat field and over to the forest surrounding Lily’s property. Cas would like it here, he thinks, the simple life, the silence.
Fran doesn’t answer for so long Dean’s sure she’s forgotten the question.
“I don’t think I can describe it. I felt hot all over, as if I had been in the sun too long or had a high fever. And then I sank into an unconscious state, I wasn’t sleeping, just kind of shoved to the back of my own mind, but I still could feel what he felt, like a distant sound. Those weren’t my feelings, I knew that much.”
Dean’s voice cracks as he clears his throat. “What did he feel?”
“Confusion, doubt. And recognition, like he knew you. But that can’t be possible from what you said, right?”
A sliver of hope rises deep inside him at Fran’s words, a small flame that he isn’t ready to share yet, that he wants to shield with his own hands to keep it alive. “Right,” he mumbles.
Fran doesn’t pry. He likes that about her; as inquisitive as her mind is, she respects his boundaries. “Are you okay? With what happened?” he asks her.
Fran takes a deep breath. “I think so. I have to let it all sink in I guess. And I will have questions.”
Dean laughs at that. “I’m sure you will and I will be happy to answer them.”
“What about you? What are you going to do?”
He can’t stop the defeated sigh that tumbles from his lips; he’s too tired and strung out. The tiny flame of hope flickers and twists. It’s not enough to keep the cold at bay. “I’ll have to find another way to go back home. Another spell maybe.”
“I will help you,” Fran promises and she stands. Her dress unfolds like the flowers around them. “Tomorrow.”
Dean falls into an uneasy sleep soon after Fran is gone. He dreams. He’s running through the endless corridors of the bunker, searching.
Cas isn’t there.