Dean flipped the vial of blood over and over in his hands. Sam snatched the vial out of his hand.
“Dean, cut it out before you break it. Do you know what I had to go through to get that?” he snapped.
“I’m sure it wasn’t hard for you. Isn’t it the blood of some pretty girl from your psych class at Stanford?” Dean started fiddling with Sam’s boline. He had to have something in his hands while having this discussion and he knew that Sam was too skilled at cursework and too vengeful for Dean to even think about touching Sam’s athame.
“Doesn’t matter. You should still respect my space. What did you need anyway?” Sam turned away and began prepping items for a spell. Knowing Sam, he was going to curse either a professor for giving him a lower grade than he thought he deserved or a fellow classmate. Sam was cunning in his spellwork. No one in his classes knew what he was except for the few that were part of the magical community. Those that knew, though, gave Sam a wide berth. They deferred to him in classes and group projects and let him have his way whenever possible.
The Winchester family was revered and feared from coast to coast, especially since they had joined with the Campbell family. The two bloodlines were so steeped in black magic that Dean was surprised his very blood didn’t bleed black. The boys’ mother, Mary, had died when they were barely old enough to remember her. Dean’s memories were golden-tinged and happy. After bringing it up to his father once and earning a full slap across the face and several nights in isolation, Dean learned not to talk about Mary.
Throughout their childhood, he and Sam were pitted against each other by John consistently. The winner didn’t really receive any special prizes or treatment. The loser, though, was different. You didn’t want to be a loser in a Winchester contest of spellwork.
Unfortunately for Dean, he lost more often than not. Very rarely did he lose because he wasn’t skilled enough or strong enough. Rather, he had seen how John’s harsh treatment had hurt Sam and he couldn’t stand to see his brother hurting. Dean couldn’t have seen how the streak of winning would destroy Sam even more.
Now, he sat before his brother, trying to decide how to broach the subject.
“Can’t I just want to spend time with my brother?” Dean said, not looking at Sam.
“You never have before. Not without an ulterior motive,” Sam bluntly said, measuring out different herbs before casting them into a small cauldron.
“I’m leaving.” Dean put the small boline down. It was one he had gifted Sam the night of his 18th birthday. His heart wanted it to mean something that Sam still had it five years later but logic prevailed. Dean had spared no expense. Even though bolines were only knives used for practical purposes and not in the actual rituals themselves, Dean had made sure to get an inscribed and warded knife that wouldn’t fail Sam. It never had to be sharpened and would never rust. That was the only reason Sam kept it close.
“Leaving already?” Sam turned around. “You didn’t even say why you were here.”
“I’m leaving California,” Dean clarified. “I’m going to Kansas.”
“Why?” Sam stared at him.
Dean hesitated but plunged forward. “I want to learn more about Mom. Dad never talks about her. I need to know, Sam.”
“Why?” Sam repeated before shaking his head. “You know, it doesn’t matter. Have you told Dad?”
“No,” Dean said softly.
Sam smirked. “I see. You want me to tell him. That’s fine, I’ll do it. But first, I’ll pass along what I’m sure he would have told you if you had had the courage to do it yourself. You’re a fool, Dean. You’re running off for no good reason. Once you’re gone, there’s really no point in coming back.”
Dean’s jaw tightened. He refused to reply as he walked out of Sam’s apartment. The words stung but it was a softer rebuke than John Winchester would have given him. As he swung himself into the driver’s seat of his Chevy Impala, he chanced a glance up at Sam’s apartment window. His mind may have been playing tricks on him but for one second, he could have sworn the curtain had twitched back, almost as if someone had been watching him.
He shook his shoulders, ridding himself of tension before putting his baby in drive and hitting the open road.
“I wondered when you would be back,” a voice said behind him.
Dean spun around from where he had been staring at the remains of his old house. Very faint memories of toddling up those stairs, holding tight to his mom’s hand. The older woman facing him was looking at him with kind, knowing eyes.
“Who are you?” he blurted out.
“I’m Missouri, one of your mother’s friends. I knew you would be back, Dean, but I just wasn’t sure when.” She turned her back to him and began to cross the street. “Are you going to stand there all day boy or are you going to follow me so we can get off the street?”
Quickly, he caught up to her and walked into a two-story just down the street.
After pouring him a glass of lemonade and grabbing a few snacks from the kitchen, Missouri settled into a chair across from Dean. “Go ahead and ask your questions. I can see that you’re dying to blurt them out.”
“How did you know I’d be back? The only person I told was my brother and that was vague.” Dean leaned forward. “And I’d like to know about my mother too. My dad never talks about her.”
Missouri gave him a sad smile. “I can answer both of those in one I’m afraid. Your mother had a touch of precognition. Nowhere near what I can do, but enough that she would get glimpses of the future at times and she had a keen intuition that was never wrong. She knew that her time was running out and she trusted me with everything I would need to know. Over and over she kept repeating that her Dean would come seeking knowledge and begging me to help him.”
“She knew she was going to die?” Dean interrupted.
Missouri reached across and grabbed Dean’s hands. “Your mother knew that she was going to die from the time she was nineteen and saw her father and mother killed in front of her. She barely escaped the attack with her life. A demon has stalked the Campbell line for years, killing as many of them as it could. Your mother sought refuge in one of the most powerful magical families she could find, the Winchesters. She grew to love your father even if his family practiced dark magic and she thought she might be safe with him.”
Dean’s eyes widened. “Mom didn’t practice dark magic?”
“No sweetheart,” Missouri said. “She was as light as light could be. Even after marrying your father, she refused to participate in their rituals. John truly loved her and never pushed her. I’m guessing after her death he blamed her aversion to dark magic for her death and that’s why he pushed it so heavily on you boys.”
At Dean’s startled face, Missouri only laughed. “I’ve kept up with you. Sam took to it easily enough. He’s Winchester through and through. But you Dean are your mother’s child and you have an affinity for white magic.”
Before she could continue speaking, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll be right back,” she said, bustling to the foyer to answer it. After a few moments, Missouri returned with a tall dark-haired man in tow.
“Dean, this is Castiel. He runs the local Wicca shop downtown with his brother. I completely forgot that I’m supposed to run a few tarot readings and watch the shop for Gabe today but Castiel has promised to reacquaint you with the town even though it’s his day off.” Scooping up her purse and car keys, she smiled at them. “Have fun boys!”
Dean found himself on Missouri’s porch, standing beside Castiel while Missouri drove off.
“Dean Winchester, right?” Castiel said, sticking his hand out. “I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dean’s posture tightened. The name Winchester had always signified either cowardice or a fight and this man didn’t look meek to Dean.
The guy’s hand dropped and he let out a small chuckle. “I’m not going to fight you Dean. It’s just Missouri has been talking about you nonstop for months. I think she knew that you were coming home soon and she wanted me to be prepared.”
“Why you?” Dean said, silently cursing himself for his inability to hold his tongue.
“Because I knew you before. And I don’t judge people by their last names. I’d be a hypocrite if I did.” Castiel shrugged.
“You knew me before?” Dean’s voice trailed off as he scoured his memories. He stared at the man before him, trying to place his face. A ray of light hit Castiel’s eyes, making them shimmer like the pond at the park.
“You’re the boy from the park with the water eyes,” Dean almost yelled.
Cas laughed. “I’m glad you remembered. And you were the boy with the grass eyes.”
Dean bent over laughing. “Mom thought that was so cute. She made sure we played together every day.” Suddenly, he straightened up. “Missouri was the one who brought you to the park.”
“Yes,” Cas’ smile turned sad. “Missouri helped raise my brother and I. Our parents were both too involved to raise their younger sons. And now, they could care less about what we do.”
“Cas, what’s your last name?”
Cas smiled. “I see you remember your old nickname for me since Castiel was too much. And it’s Novak.”
Dean’s eyes widened but he was able to hold his tongue. The Novaks were revered and feared in equal parts by magical society. They were another of the old magic families that had mainly dark users in their ranks. Now they he was thinking about it, he remembered his dad talking about how they had disowned their two younger sons a few years back. How could he have forgotten about Cas Novak, the very best friend he had ever had?
“Your parents disowned you,” Dean softly stated.
“Yes, they did. Much as I’m sure your dad will if he discovers how much you prefer the lighter side of things.”
“Cas, I’ve been trying to find my way out of my family for years. I’ve screwed up purposefully more times than I can count. Dad will curse me from here to Hell and back but he won’t let me just waltz out of the family business.” Dean’s head drooped. “I needed to find out more about Mom but the more I find out, the more I realize I really don’t fit in. It’s going to be miserable back in California.”
Castiel reached out and grabbed Dean’s shoulder. “Then don’t go back. Stay here. He can’t force you back, Dean, and if he tries, then I’ll be there.”
“You don’t even know me, man.” Dean tried to shrug Cas’ hand off but the man clung tightly to him. “I’ve done some really messed up things. I’ve hurt people.”
“You don’t think you deserved to be saved,” Cas said bluntly. “You’re wrong. I can see auras and you know what yours looks like?”
“An ugly swirling pit of nothingness,” Dean mumbled.
“It’s beautiful, Dean. I’ve never seen an aura more brilliant and glowing than yours. Give Lawrence a try. I promise you won’t regret it. Plus we never had that sleepover that you invited me to for your birthday.”
Dean laughed. “Don’t ever change, Cas.”