Author: Das Mervin and Mrs. Hyde
Betas: gehayi and kermit_thefrog
Rating: R for language, themes, violence, and sexual innuendo
Word Count: 7,710
Summary: After two years on her own, and two more as a hunter with Sam and Dean Winchester, Leah thought she’d escaped her old life at La Push. But when she’s called home to attend Jacob and Renesmee’s wedding, she brings a little company, and the stage is set for her old and new lives to collide.
Author’s Note: Okay, so, after that horrible, horrible chapter, we are back on an even keel. But not quite time to get back to Leah’s POV, even if we are getting away from that Meyer-style shitfic. (Did I mention how sorry I was for that? Because I am.). Figured we needed to get everybody’s perspective for this to work. (Except Castiel’s, because his opinion is strictly, “This makes no sense, these things are abominations and monsters, and I’m going to stand over here and be holy.”) So—time for a look at what Sam thinks of all this! Chapter title and soundtrack is from the Billy Squier song “The Stroke.”
Spoilers: Spoilers for Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and all six seasons of “Supernatural.”
Disclaimer: “Supernatural” is the property of Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros. Television. The Twilight Saga is the property of Stephenie Meyer and Little, Brown and Co. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is being made from this work.
CHAPTER 4 – THE STROKE
As they made their way up the beach to where they’d been directed, Sam found himself oddly reminded of his and Dean’s…well, their pissing contests. Any time one showed an aptitude for something, the other would automatically counter with his own superiority in some other aspect of whatever they were discussing. Over the years, they’d tended to find that in just about anything they fought over, in the end the skills of one complemented the other. While Dean could throw a knife farther, Sam was more accurate. On the other hand, while Sam was a quicker draw with a gun, Dean tended to be the better shot. Sam was definitely the superior when it came to research and computer work, but Dean aced him every time when it came down to hands-on mechanical skills.
However, there was no contest when it came to enduring uncomfortable silences—Dean had never been able to stand them, and Sam could tell just by the way he kept coughing and glancing at Leah that he was near his breaking point.
To be fair, just because Sam was faring better in the silence didn’t mean he was faring well.
Leah had told them plenty of horror stories about her family, and Sam had thought he’d been prepared for what they were walking into. Not only that, but he supposed, in the back of his mind, he’d been assuming that most of what Leah had said was so outrageous that there was simply no way it wasn’t exaggerated. Not that he blamed her for it; no one could drive you crazy like family.
But now, after just one encounter with one person, he was already starting to wonder if maybe she hadn’t actually toned it down when she was telling them what to expect. Either way, he was dreading what was waiting for them at the end of the walkway.
Dean coughed again, and Sam wasn’t surprised when he spoke shortly afterwards. “So, uh—that’s your pack leader?” he asked. “Your, ah, alpha?”
Leah was looking at the ground, holding her elbows tightly. “Yeah,” she said quietly. She looked up and gave him a wan smile. “Natural born leader, isn’t he?” she quipped, but without her usual acid.
Sam flicked his eyes over her head to meet Dean’s; from his expression, it was obvious that he didn’t know what to make of this meek version of Leah, either. “Natural born jerk,” Sam tossed out in hopes of getting more of a response, but all he got was another one of those tiny smiles that flitted across her face and was gone as soon as it had appeared.
Sam could see she didn’t want talk to about him. That didn’t stop Dean, though. “So was he, you know—” he waved his hands vaguely, “doing that mind-control order thing?”
Leah wouldn’t meet their eyes. “No—but he was threatening it. I could tell.”
They didn’t speak any more; the only sounds were the breaking of the waves on the rocky shore and the click of their dress shoes on the artificial pathway of white gravel that had been laid down along the beach, further marked out with small gardenia trees festooned with white ribbons in white pots, and lined with long swaths of white tulle twined with ropes of twinkling white lights. Sam didn’t want to know how much time and money had gone into it—was still going into it, actually, as getting electricity all the way out here couldn’t have been cheap.
They wound their way down over the unnaturally pristine path through rough and wild terrain. Leah had definitely been toning it down when talking about the scenery out here at her old home. Behind them stretched an enormous expanse of impossibly green jungle, covering the low, rolling hills that led down towards the ocean. To the west, the blue of the Pacific pounded against the beach, cresting high to crash against the massive towers of jagged rock that jutted up from the water. It felt wild and untamed out here, and Anglo-centric though it might have been, Sam couldn’t help feeling as if he were some explorer or mountain man seeing the American wilderness for the first time.
Leah would probably punch him for espousing such a view, seeing as her tribe had been settled here for probably close to 4,000 years. Well—two days ago she might have punched him. Now Sam had the unpleasant feeling that she wouldn’t do anything at all.
The path wound down alongside an enormous toppled tree, the bark stripped with time and the wood worn smooth and salty by the sea. It was taller than them even on its side. Sam couldn’t help but be impressed by its size and by the shapes of the twisted and knotted tangle of roots at its base as they walked around it.
But as it happened, the tree was the only thing blocking their view of the rest of the beach, and as they rounded the base, they all stopped dead at the sight of what awaited them.
It was…white. Huge and frilly and flowery and white. An enormous, eye-blindingly white pavilion stood garishly out against the darker, more natural tones of the surrounding beach. Its tented top rose up in an arc reminiscent of a circus big top, and it was dripping fringe and tassels and frothing with swags and poofs and rosettes of white tulle and white ribbon. Beneath it were rows and rows of white chairs, draped with more white swags and white ribbons, a long white aisle leading between them to a white-draped altar that was near buried in white flower arrangements, and all around the back and sides were white pots and urns holding rigidly manicured topiaries, bursting with white flowers and fluttering with white ribbon. Round tables swathed in white linens and topped with white centerpieces were clustered together to form a seating area, and an actual white baby grand piano stood off to one side. Strings of white lights wrapped the elaborate supporting posts, flickered in the flowered bushes, lined the walks and the perimeters, and even twinkled obnoxiously from the surrounding rocks and driftwood, as if trying to disguise their natural appearance.
Against the wild, rugged backdrop of the shore, the artful and over-the-top arrangement stuck out like a sore thumb.
“My God,” said Dean with a sort of horrified wonder.
Sam struggled for the appropriate metaphor, finally settling on, “It’s like…Circus Barbie meets the KKK.”
“What do you know about Circus Barbie?” Dean asked after a moment; Sam just gave him a withering look as Leah snickered.
“Well, really, it has the same look as just about every other party they’ve ever thrown…but I have to say that they have actually managed to outdo themselves this time,” Leah said wearily. Sam looked disbelievingly at her, still trying to imagine the sort of people who would think this affront to the eyes was tasteful.
Leah rather nervously tugged her little wrap around her arms, but then straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath. “Well—here we go, guys. You with us back there, Cas?” she asked over her shoulder.
“Of course,” came the low reply.
“Well—you keep an eye out. I know nobody will try anything, but watch out for these guys all the same,” she said, gesturing at Sam and Dean. “You know they like to get into trouble.”
Castiel nodded in serious agreement. Dean looked stung by their complicity. “Hey—don’t you worry about us—we can take care of ourselves,” he insisted.
Leah just rolled her eyes before threading her arms through their elbows, setting her jaw, and striding forward.
As they resumed their trek, Dean couldn’t seem to stop boggling over the whole exhibition. “You say they always do stuff like this?” he asked.
Leah shrugged with forced nonchalance. “Yeah. The bride’s parents’ wedding was like this, and all ten of Renesmee’s birthdays, and all their high school graduations…” she trailed off with a sigh.
Dean stared at her, and then shook his head wildly. “So, is Liberace their decorator, or what?” he demanded.
A ghost of a smile crossed Leah’s face. “No—just Alice.” Sam spotted a tiny, defiant sparkle in her eye. “She prides herself on her fashion sense.”
Dean snorted rudely and made a few more muttered comments on the gayness of the whole setup before falling silent as they approached the perimeter.
Sam was torn; he knew he was walking right down into a den of vampires and werewolves…but it was hard to stay tense and focused in the face of the ridiculous tableau sprawled out on the acre of Astroturf before them. Dean was right: this didn’t feel like a hunt—this just felt like the World’s Tackiest Garden Party. He did his best to keep his eyes on the crowds milling around the pavilion and not on the searingly-white decor; it wasn’t long before he began to pick out the monsters among them.
It wasn’t long after that he realized that it would be easier to pick out the ones who weren’t the monsters—pretty much just the women, children, and elderly members of Leah’s tribe looked to be the only humans. The towering, bulky Native American men stalking about in tuxedoes had to be the other werewolves in Leah’s pack; they had fluid, prowling gaits that marked them as nonhuman. And, of course, there were the others—all the pale, languid guests slithering in among the Quileutes: the vampires.
When they were a dozen or so yards out, there was a sudden happy shout of “Leah!” and a dark, skinny shape detached from the crowd and hurtled in their direction.
“Claire!” Leah called, and Sam was vaguely relieved to hear a genuine note of happiness in her voice, the first all morning. Leah let go of their arms to run forward and scoop up the gangly girl who threw herself into her arms.
“Oh, thank God you’re here!” the girl cried. “I’m about to go crazy—I’ll never forgive you for leaving me here with these people!”
Leah laughed, setting her back down at her feet and grabbing her shoulders to hold her at arm’s length. “Look at you!” she exclaimed. “Oh my God, I can’t get over how tall you are!”
The girl—Claire, apparently, Leah’s niece and the only person Sam had ever heard her correspond with regularly—beamed at her. “And I love your dress!” Leah was saying.
Claire did a little twirl to show off her gray sweater dress with the belt of silver stars, before giving an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “My parents were trying to dress me in this hideous pink thing, all lace and bows and crap,” she said, crossing her arms and huffing in the way that only a young teen can. “They treat me like I’m six.”
Leah chuckled. “I think that’s what parents are supposed to do, hon,”
“But I’m nearly thirteen,” she groused. “I’m not asking to be treated like an adult—but at least treat me my age.” She ground her teeth. “Can you believe Nessie wanted me to be the flower girl?! At twelve?!” Her tone suggested that there was no greater insult. “I couldn’t be a bridesmaid, of course, ’cause only vampires get to do that,” she said disgustedly. Then she grinned nastily. “Nessie totally tried to bully me into it, but I said no—and I’m older than she is and I told her so, so she can just stop treating me like her cute little sister.” She looked suddenly morose. “You don’t treat me like a little kid, but you ran off.”
“Can you blame me?” Leah asked dryly.
Claire gave a very unladylike snort and said, “No. If I could, I’d leave too.” She grimaced, and her expression lost some of its preteen drama to be replaced by something harder. “‘Cause if I’m not being treated like I’m six, certain people keep trying to treat me like I’m eighteen.”
Leah’s face twitched, and her jaw tightened. Claire scowled up at her. “Yeah—Mom and Dad wanted me to dress up like Miss Pretty Princess, but when I said no, Quil offered to take me out to get something,” she said darkly. “So—that meant now my choices were to dress up as a Disney character or a slut.”
Sam blinked, startled by the turn of the conversation and the disquietingly adult way Claire had spoken. He glanced at Dean with raised eyebrows; he was looking unpleasantly shocked himself. Claire looked sober for a moment more, but then her face brightened a little, albeit sardonically. “Well, I wasn’t about to do that, so I just made him give me his money and took care of it on my own—I told him I didn’t want him around while I shopped, and you know I can make him do anything I say.” She looked grimly satisfied at the thought. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then her face lost that too-old expression and settled back down into a much more age-appropriate pout. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I had to come to this stupid wedding at all,” she grumbled. “My Guild and I were ready to take on the Lich King campaign today, but we had to put it on hold for this.”
Leah seemed to relax, and smiled at her. “Yeah, I know what you mean—I’d rather be off campaigning too. But, hey,” she went on. “My guild is here with me, at least.” She turned, her hand on Claire’s shoulder as she guided her back to where they were standing.
“Guys,” she said, pushing her forward, “this is my niece—well, cousin, really, but close enough—Claire Young. Claire, these are my dates. Sam,” she said first, and he smiled at her and held out his hand; she grinned and took it, her grip firm.
“Dean,” Leah went on, turning towards him.
Dean grinned smarmily down at Claire, saying, “Hi, there,” and Sam was amused to see a blush stain her cheeks; she shook his hand, but didn’t meet his gaze quite as boldly as she had Sam’s. When Leah directed her over to Cas, who just nodded to her, Sam glanced over at his brother and raised his eyebrows in Claire’s direction. Dean gave him a half-mocking, half-smug smile back.
“Are these the guys you’ve been hanging out with?” Claire was asking Leah, her eyes darting back to Dean.
“Yeah—we’ve been working on and off together for about the past two years.” Leah smirked. “They’re all right for palefaces.”
“Watch it, there, Squaw,” Dean said warningly. “Anyone who listens to Duran Duran has no business judging me.”
Claire giggled, and Leah grinned—but the smiles on their faces vanished as if they’d never been there when they heard a voice from behind them call, “Claire?”
“Oh, boy,” Claire muttered under her breath. “Here comes Uncle Creepy.”
Sam was on point immediately—because the tall, broad-shouldered man headed toward them moved with the same coiled, prowling grace as Leah. He supposed that he’d been hunting monsters long enough that anything non-human set off his radar, whether it was a killer or no. Leah had assured him that her kind of werewolves weren’t, but Sam wasn’t about to let his guard down around this one—particularly when there was, in fact, something predatory about the way this one was eyeing them.
Claire’s face had gone tight, mostly with annoyance, but something else, too, and she spun on her heel. “What, Uncle Quil?” she demanded, her hands on her skinny hips.
“There you are—I was looking all over for you!” the man exclaimed.
Claire rolled her eyes hugely. “Well, where would I have gone, exactly?” she asked pointedly.
The man’s face took on a wounded puppy look that was frankly rather disgusting. “I couldn’t find you,” he said, his voice anxious.
“Obviously not, since here you are—what do you want?” Claire’s words were impatient and blatantly rude, but the man didn’t seem to notice. He was just smiling rather fatuously down at her, and brought his hands up to rest on her shoulders.
“Nothing—I just wanted to see you,” he said sappily, and Sam felt as much as saw Dean tense when the man dropped his hands but ran them over the girl’s arms as he did so.
Claire twisted away, and when she turned back to them, she rolled her eyes in disgust. Sam could only trade a bewildered and frankly disquieted look with his brother.
The man, Quil, or whatever, finally managed to tear his eyes away from Claire, and he looked up—and he twitched. His shoulders went taut, and as he un-subtly maneuvered Claire backwards and moved himself to stand between her and them, Sam saw that his eyes were fixed on Castiel.
“Hello, Quil,” said Leah abruptly, breaking the tension. Quil seemed to jump again, blinked, and then looked towards her.
“Oh. It’s you,” he said rudely, ignoring Sam and Dean. “What are you doing here?”
Leah’s smile was brittle. “Ask the bride—she invited me.”
Claire’s face peeped around his tuxedoed arm, obviously annoyed, and she began to roughly push at Quil from behind; he didn’t budge. “Move, will you—let me around!” she demanded, beating on him with her fists. At her words, he shifted to the side to let her by. “Quil’s the best man—it makes sense, after all,” she said sourly. She turned to give Quil a defiant look. “And I’m glad Leah is here—we haven’t seen her in years.”
“Yeah, well,” said Quil, glaring at Leah, “just so long as she doesn’t start causing trouble again.” He flicked his eyes over the rest of them; Sam glared back, but he wasn’t acknowledged. “Why did you bring so many people?” he wanted to know, talking to Leah as if she were alone. “I doubt Nessie invited all of them.” He turned to Cas. “Who are you?” he demanded belligerently.
Sam couldn’t believe this. Who was this asshole, anyway? And where did he get off acting like this? Dean was already puffing up like an angry cat, and Sam could tell he was about to let his mouth run away with him. He grabbed Dean’s arm, shaking his head slightly when Dean looked angrily in his direction.
Quil was pushing out his chest at Cas, who remained impassive. Luckily, Leah answered his loud question, and it was clear from her tone that she was trying to diffuse the situation. “These are my friends, Quil, and I brought them here as my dates,” she said firmly. “Guys, this Quil Ateara,” she said, voice flat. “That’s Cas,” she gestured, “And this is Dean, and Sam.”
Quil followed her hands, but he did a double take at Sam’s introduction. “Sam?” he repeated in disbelief, looking him up and down like a piece of beef in a way that made Sam want to break his nose. “Your date is named Sam?” He gave a rough bark of laughter.
Leah looked as though she’d been slapped in the face…but she said nothing more than a terse, “It’s not like that, Quil—that has nothing to do with it.”
Quil didn’t look convinced, but in one of those oddly mature moments of hers, Claire jumped in and said forcefully, “Quil, I’m thirsty—come with me and get me a glass of punch.”
As if Claire’s words had flipped a switch, Quil’s face went immediately soppy. “And then you have to go find Jacob,” she was saying, with cloyingly false sweetness, “‘cause you don’t want to let him down on his big day!”
Quil swallowed her sugary act hook, line, and sinker. “Right,” he said happily, taking her arm to wrap it around his elbow. “Come on, then,” he said, and began to lead her off without so much as a word to the rest of them.
Claire cast an apologetic look over her shoulder and waved to them as she was led off (or rather, as she led him off), and called back, “It was nice meeting you guys, Sam, Cas—and Dean,” she finished with a giggle.
“Yeah—nice meeting you too, Claire,” Dean answered, managing to smile at her despite her company.
Sam bristled, his fists clenching, as he saw Quil pause for the briefest moment and level a decidedly poisonous look at his brother. Then Claire gave his arm a sharp tug, and he was all smiles for her again, and they disappeared into the crowd, leaving a stunned silence in their wake.
“Okay—what the hell was that?” Sam finally asked.
“Just one of my pack members,” Leah said quietly.
“No—Leah,” Dean said, holding up his hands, “I’m sorry, but that was not ‘just’ anything. What in the hell was that?”
A light bulb suddenly went on in Sam’s head. “Leah,” he asked, “was that—was that one of those ‘imprinting’ things?”
Leah nodded, her mouth a thin line. “She was two,” she said tightly. “And he hasn’t left her alone since.” She smiled, and it had zero humor in it. “See, Quil’s been keeping himself from aging past sixteen. I’m guessing he’s pretty excited—he’s only got three years left.”
Dean’s face spoke more eloquently than he ever could have with words. Sam himself felt vaguely nauseous. The only one who didn’t look revolted was Cas, but Sam figured he probably didn’t have a very good handle on the situation.
Leah’s eyes suddenly snapped forward. “Speak of the devil,” she said, her voice hard. “Here comes another happily imprinted couple.”
Sam was briefly relieved, because when he looked up, the pair coming towards them were both adults, and clearly had been for some time.
His relief didn’t last long. It was another wolf. Sam was not used to having to look up at other people, but this was the second man he’d seen since they’d arrived who towered over him. He looked a bit older than the other two he’d met, and seemed a bit more relaxed. The woman with him, another Native American, had the soft look of approaching middle age hastened along by bearing lots of children, as evidenced by the gaggle surrounding her and the very large belly poking out of her shapeless turquoise dress. However, her most striking feature was the twisted mass of scars on her face; she looked like she’d lost a round to a Wendigo.
She didn’t seem to notice; she was grinning happily as she waddled forward, holding out her arms as a prelude to an embrace. Leah took a few steps forward to meet it, gingerly hugging her in return. Sam marveled that the woman didn’t seem to notice that Leah’s smile was more of a grimace.
“Oh, Leah, it’s so good to have you home!” she was bubbling happily. “You really need to visit us more often—we miss you so!”
“I’m sure you do.” Leah’s voice was dry, but totally lost on the newcomers.
“Nice to see you again, Leah,” the man next to her rumbled carelessly.
“Likewise,” Leah answered, her tone sardonic.
The scarred woman was herding her brood forward. “Kids, come say hello to Aunt Leah!” she said in a singsong voice.
The kids were hanging back, and Leah gave them a pitying look before saying, “Emily, I doubt they remember me. In fact,” she said, pointing to the two littlest ones, “I’ve never even met those.”
Emily laughed a little, and then turned her attention to the rest of them; Sam and Dean both had pleasant expressions plastered on their faces, readying themselves for some new ridiculousness. “Well, who are these?” she chirped brightly.
Leah turned towards them, closing her eyes for a moment, before turning back to the woman—Emily. “These are my friends. They all agreed to come with me.” Her face was a little pinched as she said, “Guys, this is my cousin Emily and her husband, Sam Uley. This is Cas,” she said, her voice betraying her weariness with repeating the same introductions over and over.
Emily smiled warmly and held out her hand. Cas just stared at it for a long enough moment for things to start getting awkward, until Dean nudged him and he finally took it. Emily pretended not to notice, but was chivvied along rather quickly by her husband, who was eyeing Cas with a distrustful look. He thrust out his hand somewhat forcefully, and this time Cas didn’t need to be prompted, allowing his skinny fingers to be engulfed by the man’s huge brown grip. But that shake didn’t last long, as he released him as quickly as possible, almost taking a step back and flexing his fingers as if he’d just been electrically shocked.
The huge man eyed him; Castiel just stared benignly back, but before the tension became too uncomfortable, Dean jumped in, saying, “He’s not from around here.”
Sam could see Emily opening her mouth, and he suspected she was about to ask where he was from. That might have been a problem as, knowing Cas, he’d tell her. Luckily, Leah had come to the same conclusion and quickly redirected their attention by introducing, “Dean Winchester.”
Dean gave them his usual 100-watt grin as he shook their hands, but Leah looked as though she was bracing herself as she said evenly, “And this is his brother Sam.”
Sam Uley’s face went abruptly stony—but Emily’s eyes popped, and she covered her mouth, but not before a tiny gasp escaped her. She quickly dropped it, and rearranged her face into a plastically pleasant smile as she reached out to shake his hand—but this time it was Sam who almost caused the awkward pause, as he suddenly connected the dots.
“I was engaged a guy in my tribe, but when he turned wolf, he decided he liked my cousin better and dropped me like a hot potato…She turned him down, though, at least until he tore her face off for it.”
…No. They weren’t. They wouldn’t.
But they were. Sam could only watch in utter disbelief as Leah made forced small talk all while Emily continued to glance meaningfully between himself and her cousin, while her husband was quite obviously ignoring what he perceived to be an elephant in the room. Everything fell into place—the pointed looks, the mocking words of Jacob and Quil, Leah’s tight expression when she introduced him—and Sam found it all making horrible, infuriating sense.
Sam snapped back to attention when he heard Leah say with forced brightness, “Oh—there’s my mom. Excuse me, Emily, Sam—I should go say hi.”
“Oh—of course,” Emily answered with equally false cheer. “She’s missed you.”
Leah nodded tightly, and after a quick glance towards the three of them, she headed off towards an older Native American woman, Emily watching her worriedly as she went.
After she left, Emily tossed an almost anxious look at all of them—Sam in particular, to his irritation—before saying, “Well, it was nice meeting you boys. Make yourselves at home.” And then, taking her husband’s arm and shooing her children along with her, she headed back into the milling crowd, throwing one last uneasy glance at over her shoulder at Sam as she left.
“Man, what is with these people?” Dean asked when they seemed out of earshot. “You’d think Leah had the plague!”
Sam closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Dean,” he said slowly. “Didn’t you know who that was?”
His brother looked confused, as usual, until Sam prompted, “Don’t you remember what Leah told us? About her ex-fiancé who married her cousin?”
Dean blinked, and Sam saw understanding in his eyes. “Oh—that was them?”
“Yeah. Emily—and Sam,” he said forcefully.
Dean’s jaw dropped. “…No,” he said. “They all—they were—they think she—and you—”
“Yeah. They do,” Sam replied grimly.
Dean’s jaw worked for a moment, before he finally managed to say, “Those assholes!”
Sam could only agree. “I mean—not only is that a seriously douchey thing to do,” Dean was going on, “but can’t they give her credit for having better taste than that? Well, maybe not,” he amended before Sam could reply, and Sam followed his gaze to see him eyeing Cas, who stared back uncomprehendingly.
Sam snorted, still vaguely uncomfortable with the idea that Leah had fondled their angel, and simply said, “Well—let’s go meet the folks,” and headed towards where he could see Leah standing, Dean and Cas trailing in his wake.
Leah was standing next to an older woman to whom she bore a striking resemblance. As Sam neared, he could hear that she was in mid-conversation, saying, “Mom, I really haven’t had time for that. I have new friends and things to do, and I keep busy.”
The woman, her mother apparently, pursed her lips and said, “I just don’t like the idea of you running all over the place by yourself.”
Leah looked up at the sound of their approaching footsteps, and she seemed vaguely relieved to see them. “Well,” she said to her mother, “You shouldn’t worry. I haven’t been alone—I’ve been running with these guys quite a bit.”
Sam did his best to smile at Leah’s mom as they all drew to a halt and fell in line to be introduced. This one, he could tell, was refreshingly human. Leah introduced her as her mother Sue, and she seemed vaguely surprised to see the three of them. “They all…know?” she asked Leah, her brow furrowed.
“Yes—they all know,” Leah reassured her. “And I didn’t tell them—they’ve known about stuff like this for a while. It’s how we met.”
“Oh,” said Sue as Leah pulled her forward.
“This is Cas, Dean, and Sam,” she said, and Sam was appalled to see Sue’s back suddenly straighten and her eyebrows lift at the sound of his name.
Her own mother, and when she coolly held out her hand to shake, Sam couldn’t help but very firmly say, “We’re her friends.”
“Yeah,” said Dean, in his best “charm the ladies” voice. “We’ve been traveling off and on together for nearly two years—Leah’s good company.”
It didn’t seem to reassure her. Her face just went rather stony as she said, “Really,” and then looked pointedly at Leah and asked, “All four of you?”
Leah closed her eyes, and in a much more Leah-like voice than she’d used with the other wolves, just said, “Mother—don’t.” She took a deep breath through her nose, and then asked, “Where’s Charlie?”
Sue pursed her lips, but didn’t get to say anything as a gruff but cheerful voice came from behind her, saying, “Right here, hon!”
Leah’s face broke another real smile at the sight of the middle-aged fellow approaching them. He had a glass of punch in one hand and a beer in the other, and despite looking ill-at-ease in his tuxedo, seemed genuinely glad to see her.
Leah waited for him to foist his punch off on Sue before giving him a hug. “Hi, Charlie,” she said.
“Hey, Leah!” he answered, patting her back gingerly before pulling away. “You look great, sweetie.”
“You too,” she said happily. “I’m diggin’ that mustache.”
“You like it?” he asked, bristling his lip at her. “Bella doesn’t, but Sue does, and so does nearly everybody else, so I told her she was outvoted.”
Leah turned back towards Sam and the others and said, “This is my stepdad, Charlie Swan—he’s the chief of police, so don’t try anything,” she added mock-warningly.
He stepped forward with a smile, and Sam braced himself, but Chief Swan had no untoward reaction to his name as they were introduced, just smiling and shaking their hands, and after he’d met them all, he leaned forward and said, “You know, guys, just between you and me—I’m real glad to see someone else who’s normal around here.”
Dean laughed. “I hear that,” he said. “I think we’re pretty much outnumbered.”
Charlie shook his head in agreement, his eyes flicking over towards the clusters people moving around beside the pavilion—and Sam did a double-take as one of the small knots of pale-skinned people moved into the sunlight and burst into…sparkles.
Well. There was yet another thing that Leah had apparently underplayed.
Dean squinted incredulously. “Damn—we should have brought sunglasses.”
Charlie laughed, sounding vaguely surprised by his comment, and then leaned forward and surreptitiously opened his jacket—to reveal the pair of aviators tucked in the inside pocket.
Dean barked in approving laughter. “Oh—my man, Chief,” he chuckled.
“Drop the ‘Chief’—I’m not on duty,” he said genially in reply. “Charlie is fine. So,” he went on, leaning back, “how’d you guys fall into this?”
“Ah, well—we’d run into some…not entirely human things before. First time we’ve seen this disco nightmare before, though,” Dean answered with a wry twist to his mouth.
Charlie chuckled with grim good humor. “Yeah—it was pretty weird when my own daughter started doing it.”
Sam raised his eyebrows. “Oh?” he asked, and couldn’t help but exchange a look with Dean—that set off all of his hunter alarms.
“Yep,” said Charlie, and he didn’t sound at all pleased about it. “She got married, vanished for a month, and then showed up all glitzed out and made over—and with a kid.” He moved his gaze over all the whiteness around him with a rather dubious expression, and added, “That’s my granddaughter. She’s, uh—she’s getting married today.”
“Ah,” said Dean, and thankfully didn’t say anything else.
Charlie was looking somewhat uncomfortable now, and Dean, in a moment of uncharacteristic sensitivity, asked, “Where’d you get the beer? I could use one of those right about now.”
Charlie looked relieved at the change of subject, and opened his mouth to reply, when a high soprano voice cut across him, and Leah literally winced when it said, “Finally! There you are, Leah—I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
They all turned, and squinted at the sight of the small, sparkling thing bounding towards them. She was tiny, even with the ridiculously high stiletto heels that she was wearing. Her very slight stature and china doll face were rendered somewhat disturbing by the fact that she was wearing a much-too-revealing gold gown that would have looked cheap on someone who didn’t look fifteen. On this little creature, it just gave the impression of a little girl playing dress up in Mommy’s clothes. Well—provided that Mommy was a hooker, anyway.
She was still talking, and loudly, informing Leah that, “I know Jacob told you to come see me, now I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to get you ready, and—”
She suddenly stopped short, mid-sentence, and took one quick step back, her eyes widening as she looked at Cas. She seemed unable to speak, and from the look of her, Sam guessed that was not a normal occurrence for her. Sam narrowed his eyes slightly; Leah had mentioned in the past that while she wouldn’t have known Castiel was an angel, her senses were that much more acute than a human’s, to the point that she could feel something odd about him—something more than a little uncomfortable. Leah had gotten used to it, but she had nearly jumped right out of her skin the first time Cas had appeared in her presence—she’d said later that she’d thought she was about to be struck by lightning.
Considering that Leah had also mentioned that vampire senses were heightened even beyond her own, Sam could only imagine what this one must have felt to stop her dead in her tracks (and really, the more he thought about it, the more he liked it).
Leah took advantage of the vampire’s distraction to say tiredly, “Yes, Alice, I know—but I wanted to see my mom first. I promise I was on my way.”
Sam had a feeling that she was lying through her canines, and under other circumstances might have laughingly called her out on it. But not now—and he didn’t have the chance anyway, because the little vampire—Alice—shook herself and then was off.
“You could have done that afterwards—she’d still be here,” she complained. “Now I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to get you ready!”
“Well,” said Leah, sounding vaguely exasperated, “as you can see, I am already ready, so—”
“That’s a matter of opinion—unprofessional opinion, I might add,” Alice cut across her, and her disconcerting yellow eyes traversed Leah’s form appraisingly before she made a rather exaggerated show of displeasure. “That is most assuredly not a designer dress—that’s off the rack, and it couldn’t have cost more than six hundred dollars. And those shoes! Where did you get those—Shoe Carnival?” Alice shook her head, huffing in annoyance. “Leah, what are we going to do with you? Your hair is okay, I suppose, but you may need more makeup—you don’t have the face for so little like Bella did. So come on—I want to show you the dress we got you!”
Sam had no idea how Alice could be unaware of that muscle twitching along Leah’s jaw (unless she was just deliberately ignoring it), but he sure wasn’t as she turned to the three of them and said in a very tight voice, “Guys, I gotta go, but I’ll be back—”
“Come on, Leah!” Alice interrupted yet again, that impatient whine still very much present in her bossy voice. “We don’t have time for that! They know you’ll be back, let’s go!”
And then she seized Leah’s hand and began to tug. Leah managed to call over her shoulder, “Cas, keep an eye out!” before she allowed herself to be dragged off through the crowd and out of sight.
It was Charlie who spoke first. “I thought she looked nice,” he said, sounding vaguely bewildered.
“I don’t understand what difference the price of her clothes makes,” Cas said, his eyebrows knitted.
Sam hadn’t quite recovered enough to speak, and he could tell from Dean’s expression that he hadn’t either. But, true to form, Dean shook it off first in remembering the previous promise of beer. “So,” he said, pretending that hadn’t just happened, “were you gonna say something about a beer?”
Charlie brushed off his own discomfort and smiled. “I sure was—right over there,” he said, pointing towards a long (and, surprise surprise, white) table where there were platters of food laid out. On one end was a champagne fountain, tiers of precariously stacked champagne glasses, a huge bowl of punch, and at the farthest end was a white-draped stand from which protruded a series of taps.
Dean turned towards Sam. “Well, what do you say—hit the buffet table?” And in a slight undertone he added, “And the booze?”
Sam nodded. “I second that motion.” They turned to see Cas scanning the crowd, apparently keeping an eye out as he was told.
“Cas, I’m guessing you’re not hungry,” Dean said.
“Of course not,” came the obvious reply.
Dean just rolled his eyes and said, “Well, then, why don’t you just cruise Sunset Boulevard here and make sure nobody tries anything.”
Cas nodded once, very seriously, and then strolled off into the crowd—which parted before him like the Red Sea.
Charlie watched him go, his eyebrows raised with interest, particularly at the way that everyone non-human was looking at him with mingled surprise and alarm as he passed. He turned back to Dean. “Who was that guy, again?” he asked.
“Ah—that’s Cas. A friend of ours,” Dean said, smiling ingratiatingly.
“And…what does he do, exactly?”
There was a brief pause; Dean looked at Sam, and Sam looked back, and Sam quickly said, “Bible study,” just as Dean blurted out, “Sunday school.”
Chief Swan looked neither convinced nor impressed, and Dean added, “He’s a very religious man. So—Sammy—beer?” he asked brightly. “Nice to meet you, there, Chief!” he said as he grabbed Sam’s arm and started dragging him away.
“Yeah—you too, boys,” Charlie answered dryly as they made their escape.
Dean kept tugging Sam through the crowds towards the food, both of them involuntarily looking over their shoulders, not just to see if the police chief was still watching them, but because of all the eyes they felt boring into their backs as they passed by the non-human contingent of the wedding guests.
Weaving their ways past all the round tables and through the cloying scent of too many flowers, they at last made it to the food. Dean scooped up one of the chilling glasses from the white trough of ice near the taps, and after briefly trying to make out their unpronounceable foreign names, picked one at random and filled up with what turned out to be an impressively dark lager.
“Beer?” he asked, with the air of one offering painkillers.
Sam shook his head, instead gingerly plucking one of the champagne coupes stacked to the right and dipping it into the lighted fountain of flowing champagne, an action which made Dean roll his eyes.
After a fortifying drink on both their parts, they turned to skim the crowds. Sam was quite displeased to see several of the clearly vampiric guests watching them none-too-subtly. Leah had assured them that all the vamps would be on good behavior here, but that didn’t make him feel any better.
“Man,” said Dean. “I think Leah may have actually underplayed it when she was telling us about these people.”
Sam couldn’t help the single, unamused laugh that escaped him. “Ya think?”
“This is—this is unbelievable,” Dean was going on, shaking his head as if words were simply inadequate. Actually, they weren’t, and Sam had more than a few that he thought were quite appropriate; most of them consisted of four letters. But they’d discovered early on just how insane Leah’s hearing was, and now they were surrounded by people who they knew could hear just as well. So by mutual agreement, they planned to do their best to say as little as possible while still making themselves understood to each other, just to keep anyone here from finding out too much about them by eavesdropping.
Dean, however, badly wanted to say something, and was struggling with his natural inclination to let whatever he was thinking just fall out of his mouth. “I mean—this—these people, they—” He stopped, and stomped over in the direction of the food, leaving Sam to trail behind him, only to nearly run into him as he whipped around and pointed indignantly to the first plate he encountered. “There—that. That is exactly what I mean. Just what in the hell is that?”
Sam looked, and snorted. “It’s escargot.”
Dean blinked, and then his chin jutted outward. “I repeat—what in the hell is that?”
“They’re snails, Dean,” Sam answered with deliberately patronizing patience.
Dean’s jaw briefly dropped, and then face twisted in disgust. “Oh, God—snails?” he moaned, revolted. “That’s not food—that’s just a cruel joke!”
Sam smirked. “Actually, they’re not that bad,” he informed him, and he speared one of them with a shiny gold toothpick from the pot in the middle of the platter and popped it in his mouth.
It was not just “not bad”; it was damn tasty. But if you went by Dean’s expression, Sam had just eaten a dog turd.
“Aw, Jesus, Sammy!” he exclaimed, horrified.
“What?” Sam said defensively.
“You just ate a slug, that’s what!” He flapped his hands for emphasis.
Sam was amused; he’d never in his life seen his brother turn down anything that was edible (not to mention a few things that weren’t). “Huh. And here I thought you’d eat anything,” he remarked.
Dean bristled. “I draw the line at bugs!”
Sam couldn’t help but chuckle at him as he whipped around and looked accusingly at the rest of the artfully arranged dishes that weighed down the table. “There’s nothing else made of bugs on here, is there?” he demanded, a touch of panic in his voice.
“It doesn’t look like it,” Sam answered placatingly, skimming over the series of ornate little embossed placards that labeled the dishes. He reflected with a certain level of amazement that even the custom-made cards seemed patronizing in fulfilling their function; granted, the pretentious and outrageous dishes in question needed identification for anyone who wasn’t a professional epicure.
Dean, whose discerning palate was limited to cheeseburgers and pie, was making his displeasure known at the French and otherwise excessively gourmet names beside the dishes. He passed over the “Mousse de Saumon Fumé” and the “Apricot Chambord Brie en Croute,” glared at the “Alsatian Flammenküche,” and looked positively offended by the “Pate de Foie Gras with Truffles in Aspic.”
He finally condescended to eat a venison and goat cheese tostado (and Sam narrowly prevented him from grabbing it with his fingers, directing him instead to one of the gold-rimmed plates and tiny forks), which he rather grumpily announced was pretty damn good.
While Dean chewed noisily on a “Deep-fried Crab Ball with Jicama-Pepper Panache” (from which he’d scraped off the panache), Sam turned and looked out at the crowds and asked, “So—do we—ah—mingle?”
Dean swallowed and said, “Good idea. Recon, and all.” He looked contemplatively at the buffet for a moment before turning back to him. “Tell you what—I’ll watch the food.” He bunted Sam’s shoulder with his own. “You go get ‘em, Sammy.”
Sam gave Dean a withering look, which went ignored (as usual), before sighing and leaving him to his pheasant and cheese polenta.
Sam made sure he knew where Castiel was before he went diving right into the midst of a bunch of monsters; he spotted him roosting under an obnoxious white trellis archway dripping with climbing white hydrangeas, and being given a wide berth by most of the partygoers.
Reassured as to the presence of his backup, Sam took a deep breath and plunged into the fray.
Author’s Note: All the food we mentioned is indeed real. “Great Chefs” is a regular fount of high-class and expensive food. Well, all except the venison and goat cheese tostado. That’s from Episode 812 “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies” from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Sound tasty? Call Ortega! He’ll cater for cheap!
Oh, and seeing as the movie’s version of Charlie is a hundred times more awesome than the one in the books—which is impressive, because the canon Charlie has some pretty nice moments of awesome—we had to find a way to make sure that the good Charlie was somehow here. Hence the ‘stache. TEAM MUSTACHE DAD!
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