As soon as the bed burst into flames, Sam almost jumped out of his skin. And if there was any part of him left in those brief seconds other than sheer terror then he would have probably tipped his chin up to the heavens and asked a question of the God who was no longer there.
‘Why was it always, fire?’
Of course Jesse would probably think he was nuts. Overreacting. Jess… His mom… And he’d almost lost Eric too… Or at least he’d thought so at the time, that little mystery having been solved more recently than Sam really wanted to think about. He wasn’t friends with fire. And out of all of the things that could have happened in that instant? Sam was more than sure that Jesse could have filled the room with bunny rabbits or Gatorade or any amount of things. Could have zapped himself round the world and back in an instant. Could have manifested countless scenarios that were too many and too varied to even contemplate.
If his heart were capable of beating, Sam was fairly sure it would have hammered it’s way out of his chest in that moment. As it was, eyes widened and he tensed, on his feet in an instant, ready to grab Jesse and fling the kid out, just as he had with Eric. But a moment (or possibly about a hundred years - that’s what it felt like anyway) the flames were gone and there was no sign of damage. The sudden heat faded, the light was no longer flickering and dancing with oranges and reds… Just the cool light of oncoming spring seeping through the window behind him. A gentler, calmer light.
Fingers flexed and curled in on themselves, fists tightening as Sam attempted to shift the tension out of the rest of his frame, strung taut like steel cables and just about ready to snap. He wasn’t angry. Far from it.
But he was scared.
Taking a small step forward, Sam settled his feet carefully as the floor shook for a moment as Jesse’s foot contacted with the slightly worn boards, pausing to regain his balance before moving to stand right in front of his friend. Large hands moved to rest on slender shoulders and Sam pushed gently, “Sit down and just breathe, kid. Just take it easy. There’s no rush to do anything or say anything or be anywhere, you hear me?”
His eyes shifted to the side and took in the bed which looked exactly as it had when they’d walked into the room. Clean sheets, slightly mussed up, a couple of Hannas toys scattered here and there. And it was with a slightly nervous swallow that Sam stepped to the side and sat down on it. Another attempt at showing the kid that it was okay - that these things happened and it wasn’t his fault and…
…It was hard though. Try telling someone not to be afraid when you know what they’re afraid of and fear it yourself? Try telling someone it’s going to be okay when you know that, yeah, it will be, but between there and here it a long and painful road.
But he would - try.
After that small snap of control though, Sam wondered how safe it was for anyone to be around Jesse right now. Not that he wanted to extricate the kid, but until he was sure there was some stability to those untapped and seemingly unending powers, he just… Wasn’t sure. ”You’re not there anymore, Jesse. And rule number one? Demons lie. All they want to do is use you. Use your power or your heart or your mind or your soul. Sometimes all of the above. Sometimes those lies are so close to the truth that it’s hard to tell. The stuff about the… The seals. Vessels… That much, I guess they got right. And…”
Sam’s voice finally failed him, falling away to silence. Maybe this was the first time he’d said it out loud. He couldn’t even remember saying as much to Eric. ”It’s my fault.” Three very simple words. Three words that claimed responsibility. For everything. For the deaths. For the world breaking and cracking apart around them. ”I… Thought we’d ended it. Putting the archangels away. I… I didn’t expect to come back from that place and I must have done something wrong or…” He didn’t really know any of it. How the war had started, only that it had. How many had died, only that they were gone. But even without the big guns of Michael and Lucifer heading up the ranks, it had happened anyway. ”I’m sorry, Jesse.” It wasn’t enough of an apology. Nothing ever would be.
“I broke everything and all I can do now is… Try to fix it. For everyone who’s left. There’s blood on my hands, but there doesn’t have to be any on yours. You don’t have to fall into any of their traps. And… Trying to fix the world’s a pretty big job. So y’know… If you ever wanted to lend a hand…” That was it. It was all out there in the open. And maybe Jesse would settle on the side of blame and choose the demons, railing for the end… just the end of everything. Or maybe that trip to Hell had been enough to show him that even though the dark was always there, nipping at your heels every second of every goddamn day, that there was a way out if you believed in yourself. In the people you cared about… And fought your way back to the light.
Honestly, he hadn’t noticed when Sam had gotten up, only when the taller Winchester’s feet was suddenly in his field of vision. Anyone would have tensed like he did, even if he did trust Sam. You don’t just set fire to something and expect it to be ok. If Sam decided to kick him out right now or even tell Dean that Jesse wasn’t safe for the camp, he wouldn’t blame him at all. Instead of that though, he felt two large hands on his slim shoulders, and pressure to move back. Jesse looked up sharply at Sam’s touch, breath stilted and eyes wide as he expected something worse to come, not encouragement to sit. Lips pressed together as he lowered to the mattress, he stared at the older man, waiting for this to break. People weren’t this supportive, they didn’t think to be kind when he’d shown how dangerous he was.
Fire. When had he ever done anything with fire before now? His typical MO was to make animals appear or leave himself vulnerable with random bursts of magic (whatever the hell his powers were called) but actual destruction on purpose? Only in his sleep, when he had no control over anything and he was left aching with pains from his magic growing. Seeing Sam actually nervous though, that probably made him feel worse. He’d just heard that Sam was in Hell before and his powers had conjured up the worse reminder of that place ever. The fires of Hell may have burned hotter but that didn’t take away the probably shock that he’d just given Sam.
“Sam…” He wanted to apologize, he wanted to leave. He just wanted to take his existence and disappear all over again but fuck if he couldn’t do it anymore. Being gone for two months had been painful, more than he’d ever imagined it would feel after being with people but the camp had become family for him, or at least a home base with people who could count on. And here Sam was, one of those people, one of his friends, and Jesse had just ruined things for him, for them.
Except, Sam sat with him. Sam sat beside him on the bed and just… spoke. No, no Jesse wasn’t there anymore. He was in Sam and Eric’s cabin with Sam talking about being there and it was almost as bad but not quite because there were no demons here, there were no screams of pain from the torture, his own and others. Sam wasn’t making him lift a thing. And yes, demons lied but they also told the truth when that hurt more. Honestly, what demons needed to lie to Jesse or to Sam either when knowing what they were instead of worse then any lie they could have told them growing up? The cambion fidgeted with his fingers, unnecessarily cleaning his nails with shaky movements until the silence broke and Jesse could only stare at Sam in disbelief when it did.
His fault? Had Sam been the one to abandon the angels to their devices, to leave his entire creation like it was nothing? Had it been Sam to force the births of the Winchester line? Oh yeah, he’d heard about John Winchester and how as their father, he too could be a vessel for Michael. It was in their blood. Sam wasn’t the forefather of the line, far from it when he was the youngest. Sam hadn’t raped his mother, hadn’t fathered the Antichrist that could end the world with a single thought when he was strong enough. Sam hadn’t asked for that demon blood as a baby, hadn’t asked to be a hunter and sure as hell hadn’t asked to be a vessel for douchebag angels who thought that their awesome powers meant they could do whatever they wanted with everyone.
That apology felt so sincere, so Sam, and Jesse couldn’t hide the soft sob of frustration that left him. He wiped his face roughly with the backs of his hands, unsure of how to react, but looking at Sam made him feel like killing all of them was justifiable. Forget about keeping the balance in the world, about whether angels were “good” and demons were “bad”. They’d all… they’d done nothing but hurt them, constantly, for most of their lives. But no, Sam blamed himself, said that he’d broken everything, and Jesse didn’t know what to do with that. All this time, he’d known that the Winchesters were trying to make things right, that Sam had tried even from almost ten years ago to fix things that weren’t his fault, and here Sam was accepting blame for tragedies he’d never committed himself, taking responsibility for the blood that were on God’s hands and the hands of everyone associated with him.
And if Sam was still so good, so earnest, what did that make him? He’d hardly used his powers for good things specifically and downstairs had been an eye-opener to what he could become, what he was going to become. All the misunderstood references and lack of education couldn’t make up for the fact that Jesse had picked up a knife down there, had had no trouble slicing into souls and demons alike one after another after the firsts had caused him distress. Jesse wasn’t built to be a good person, it wasn’t in him no matter how hard he tried but here was Sam, telling him he could fix things with him.
“I…” The amount of shame Jesse felt at that moment was indescribable, truly. But even if he couldn’t make himself better, he could at least let Sam know that he was wrong. “Sam,” Jesse started, his voice thick still as he tried to talk through his crying, “we d-didn’t do anything but be born! You d-didn’t kill anyone, you didn’t do anything wrong….” He sucked in a shaky breath and shifted beside Sam, bringing up his legs and folding them under him as he turned to face the Winchester, face splotchy even as he tried to look serious, to be brave.
“And-and there is blood on my hands just-just not on earth but still. And-and it’s not our faults, it’s not-not our mess but… I…” He swallowed hard and licked his lips, sliding off the backs of his legs and leaning heavily against Sam’s arm, his finger scratching at Sam’s jeans absently. He tried to find what exactly he wanted to say but words were evasive, running away from his mind as he tried to wrap it around his thoughts. “How’re we g-gonna fix this when those j-jerks are still around?” He whispered, sniffing hard and looking up at Sam with bright eyes, cheek pressed against his shoulder. “They…. we c-can’t let them g-get away with what they did, Sam.”
That’s pretty neat. You should market that, maybe use that shit to fix this place.
I did my time, and I got out. The last thing I want to do is take an express trip back. Bright side, though? You got out, too.
T-talking to animals? M-maybe…. I… Yeah. Getting out was lots-s of f-fun. L-let’s st-stay up here though.
Dean waited patiently outside the door to the cabin, rolling back and forth on the soles of his feet a little as he looked around camp. It was a pretty nice day, considering that nice nowadays meant something pretty different than it had before. The sun rarely came out now. Whenever it did, it felt like a blessing but only for a short while. It was harder to aim with the sun in your eyes.
He was jerked from his thoughts by the door opening and turned around to face Jesse. The boy looked…not so great.
“Jesse?” Dean replied, making the greeting more of a question. “Hate to break it to you, kid, but you look like ten kinds of crap. What happened?”
The questioning tone from Dean’s lips made Jesse grimace but nod all the same. He was still himself, there was no real way to change that so Dean and the camp would have no problems on that front. The ‘what happened’ would probably lead to problems though. It was hard enough hiding as much as he had from Eric, at least Sam knew the truth, but telling Dean was a whole different ballpark entirely. Dean might’ve gone to hell but he was talking to the Righteous Man in the flesh now, not the Boy-King, and that really made him want to poof off to Australia all over again.
“I… L-Lots,” Jesse opted for, lips pressed together as he moved out the way and widened the door further. His speech was better but not as good as it should be so he knew that Dean would know some serious crap went down, not just because of how he looked. Jesse didn’t know how to explain it to him, to anyone really, but he was at least comforted by the fact that Dean didn’t do emotions, wouldn’t ask too many questions about how he felt or if he wanted to talk sometime. Dean didn’t do that. Thank fuck. “You sh-should s-sit d-down,” the cambion mumbled, gesturing to the rickety table and two chairs. There was also the bed but Jesse didn’t want to think about it. He could fall asleep if he sat there and he was fine with never doing that again.
You’re lucky animals like you. They probably tap into the part of you that’s still human.
Not hell if that’s what you mean, although I’m pretty sure the earth post-apocalypse is as close to hell on earth as you can get.
Nope, I’ve been roaming free range, been a free agent the last few years.
I guess? I t-talk and they th-think back.
Yeah, I kn-know you weren’t there. You’re right ‘bout here though… I l-like f-free roaming m-most, really.
Hmm.. Don’t worry about it, kid.
But what were you doing all the way in Australia? Must’ve been real lonely. Probably not any different than nowadays, huh?
I’m Meg. It’s nice to meet you, dollface.
I-Uh-K-kay? -bites his lip, a bit worried, but goes along with it- N-not as lonely, really. I l-like animals… But it’s s-shit now, yeah.
N-nice to m-meet you too, M-meg. Where’ve… where’ve you b-been b-before now?
-chuckles- You’re welcome, kid.
Nebraska’s a long ways away from here.
I heard about the crystals, but you couldn’t have felt that out of place. If someone bad had gotten to you a couple years ago? There’d have been a hefty price on you.
-shrugs- S-so’s Australia b-but I get f-free air miles.
I…It t-took a while b-but I s-still…. Still missed here. -furrows his eyebrows, confused- P-price? On m-me?
“Hard to imagine Eric sitting here pruning the roses.” Sookie remarked, and it really was hard to imagine. Most people didn’t see Eric as the cuddly type who sat in gardens taking care of the delicate flowers. They saw him as the fierce warrior type who went all in on danger and didn’t take any survivors. Well, most people but Sookie - probably Sam, too - saw him that way.
There was a time when all Sookie saw was red when it came to Eric. There were so many situations he was dragged into where he would come up with blood coating her chin and gleaming against his lips. There would be wounds of his own staining his jacket red. Of course they’d heal in time. But Sookie had gotten to know Eric for the true person inside. Beneath the layers of someone who claimed he couldn’t love was someone who really did care. Someone whose arms Sookie had cradled into during the night and traced the lining of his jaw. Someone she had fallen in love with.
It took a lot to crack Mr. Northman and Sookie had been so lucky to peel away the pieces and see that he wasn’t a monster with fangs which he was antagonized as. Sookie smiled at the thought of him and was glad he could let others like Jesse and Sam in. Her fingers gently picked up around the blooming petals of a rose, admiring it.
Sookie turned around to find Jesse handing her one and she grinned widely and took it from him, twisting the stem around her fingers. “Awww,” she cooed. “Thank you.” She lifted the flower to her nose and inhaled the lovely fragrance. She didn’t even think that flowers could be grown beautifully and properly anymore. Everything seemed so dead out there. So it was nice to have someone tending to it that they had pretty wild plants growing in here.
She laughed at what he said and replied, “Who told you that faeries like dancing so much? Believe me, I’ve seen it happen before.”
Jesse found himself snorting a bit as Sookie noted the difficulty of seeing Eric amongst the flowers. People would think that, wouldn’t they? Big scary vampire that could and would rip your throat out without a moment’s thought sitting next to the roses and just being with them? But no, that’d been how Jesse had met Eric; right here crying and apologizing to them for neglecting to bring his water ration to them. For the cambion, anyway, the caring side of Eric was his default.
“Y-You’d think b-but… Eric’s… Eric’s real gentle,” Jesse answered, shrugging a bit. He was sure that Sookie did know that part of Eric just as much as he did, probably closer to Sam’s level but when Eric loved people, he loved them with everything and that made Jesse almost sure of it. Sookie was too bright not to love, especially for beings like them. They sort of latched on to them, really. Watching Sookie smile and sniff the flower he gave her sort of reinforced the sentiment.
She was beautiful, inside and out.
The brunet managed a laugh at her question, shrugging and rubbing the back of his neck. “I dunno… B-but s-seriously? M-musta been p-pretty cool,” He wondered, also absently wondering if Sookie was the only fairy around. He was sure some of her species was on earth, had to be. Didn’t she say before she had a brother too?
Lucifer could tell now. Brimstone. Fire. Other scents that were distinct to his senses. His senses had been more keen than he was, but now he’d finally caught up. His guess had been more accurate than he would have known.
And then, he understood. Yes. Jesse Turner. The cambion. The boy who had been hiding from him — and from Heaven, too — and doing it well for quite some time. He kept his smile to himself, though he wasn’t sure how well he did.
“It’s good to meet you at long last.” He did smile, then. “My people looked for you for a long while, and never found you. You’re very good at hiding. Though I’m surprised they finally did find you and drag you down.” He frowned. He never remembered giving that order. “Why were you in Hell? Who brought you there?”
Jesse narrowed his eyes as the older man smiled. Seriously? Was being in Hell supposed to be a good thing because it sure hadn’t been a trip to Disneyland. Whoa whoa whoa. Wait. ‘At long last’? Before Jesse could think to get indignant and demand answers, the blond continued speaking, letting him know what he really needed to know. This man’s people had been looking for him and he thinks that they were the one’s who brought him down to Hell? That faint angelic feel meant nothing then. This was the same breed of being as his father. Fallen angel, fallen from grace, more Hell than Heaven now regardless of the grace Jesse could sense.
Had his father given him the right description for Lucifer’s vessel then?
“N-Nobody brought me there,” Jesse spat, unable to stop the pout. He was tired, hurting, and this guy - sorry, potentially the devil he’d been hiding from his whole life - was keeping him. And asking him questions he didn’t want to answer. “I fell in. D-daddy thought I needed to l-learn stuff about my role anyway.” Jesse was allowed to be angry, to be bitter. “Why haven’t you looked for me before?”
Well, aren’t you a peach…
You don’t seem like you’re from around these parts, kiddo. How’d you wind up in hell?
…I l-like peaches s-so thanks.
Mmmmm’not. M’from N-Nebraska. -wrinkles his nose before shrugging- Got s-sucked in. St-stupid c-crystal thingy out there.
Oh, don’t sweet talk me on my account, sweetheart.
Heh, ss’my default, s-swear.
Plus, you weren’t in…Hell when I v-visited so I automatically like you.
Can I help you with something, Miss Demon?
Lucifer peered down at the younger man as he came into sight. He frowned slightly, taking in the man’s appearance. He looked like he’d run for several miles, at the very least.
He recognized the aura, though not completely. It was dark, and definitely strong, yet subtle in some way. He decided he would have to puzzle it out slowly.
“That depends,” he said, keeping his tone light. “But first, are you alright? You look really beat down, no offense.”
He finished the apple and tossed the core aside, letting it fall away some distance from him. He stayed where he was, though; he would have to teleport to get down from this tree, and he didn’t want to scare the younger man into thinking he was a threat.
“You look like you’ve been run down by Hell.”
Jesse kept his lips pressed together, ready to bolt again if anything. Safe was the last thing to feel from a stranger, not when he knew he felt the same with Eric, with others inside the camp. This guy wasn’t from there. Asking if Jesse was alright caught him a bit off guard though and the cambion’s stance became less tense. Beat down wasn’t really the half of it but Jesse didn’t want to get into the nasty gory details with just anyone. Actually, with no one but that was besides the point.
The brunet watched as the apple core was tossed away, staring at it for a moment before looking back at the blond man. Oh, he looked that obvious then? Jesse scrunched up his face, displeased, and huffed before crossing his arms over his chest. “Maybe I just was. I’been better, at the least,” He answered, voice a bit firmer than before. He didn’t expect the first person he’d talk to to be outside of camp.
“…Name’s Jesse Turner. You’re hangin’ ‘round camp an’ I dunno you so…” He made an impatient face, expectant, just a bit concerned for the humans and others inside.
Lucifer was straddling the root of a tree branch, leaning back against the trunk. He was doing yet another surveillance post, and so far, a whole lot of nothing had happened.
He took a bite of an apple — something he had found in an orchard much farther south — as he waited, and kept waiting, and still nothing continued to happen. Not even his informant in the camp came by to visit.
He was about to go back to Detroit when he felt it. There was a definite dark presence, and it was moving closer to him. He stayed where he was, hidden in the tree, while the presence drew closer.
The only thing on Jesse’s mind as he tried to get away from them.
He was so close he could smell grass and clean air, could almost taste the sunlight in the air if he tried. The demons at his tail were close but were doing nothing but giving chase, not wanting to hurt him. Like they hadn’t enough already. He had gotten tastes of freedom before but this was different, this was bound to be his time to actually get out of Hell. The cambion yelled at all of them to leave him alone and they fell back, unable to resist his order.
One final door and suddenly, the bloodied walls of Hell disappeared from his view, the disgusting stench of rotting flesh and sulfur gave way to fresh air and trees. Earth. Jesse looked around frantically, trying to see if anything followed him here but he was alone, blissfully alone. And just a bit lost. Or, a lot lost. He let out a relieved laugh all the same before trying to get his bearings, his magic sinking into the ground to try and be his compass. Only, it was refusing to cooperate all that much. He frowned, staring at his hands for a moment before reaching out towards a tree, watching as he snapped it in half easily. He could do little things then, standard stuff, but not use the world as his tool. He could live with that for now. He opted to reached out for energy instead, hoping to feel the camp and all its inhabitants. That, at least, was fruitful and he took a big gulp of breath before running again, this time towards something instead of away.
Jesse ran until his legs hurt and his lungs felt like they were going to come out of his chest, until he couldn’t run any farther and he just plopped down on a log. He didn’t sleep, couldn’t bear the thought of closing his eyes and suddenly waking up back there, but he rested, letting himself grab a couple hours reprieve before getting back up and heading towards his destination. He couldn’t really tell you how long that pattern kept up but as he got closer to camp, he felt someone he didn’t recognize and it slowed him considerably. It wasn’t a vampire of any kind or a shifter or a demon. It felt somewhat like Castiel had all those years ago but not. It felt like his father but different, more light? He rounded a tree and found himself staring at a tall blond man eating an apple.
What had he heard about snakes and apples again?
Jesse sucked in a breath, surprised, before he furrowed his eyebrows, taking a step back even as he curled his fists a bit, defensive, unsure. He didn’t feel like a threat and that was what threw Jesse off. Non-threatening things didn’t go well in his book. The signature was something he should be able to recognize though, he was sure of it.
“W-Who’re you?” He asked, voice cracking just a bit at the end, his anxiety creeping in. He had just wanted to get back to camp, to Eric, to the rest of them, and this presence stopped him cold in his tracks. The cambion knew he felt familiar, safe almost, but he wasn’t sure how.
Yeah… You wanna talk about it or something? I’ve got time. And yeah, he’s a human. Likes being on his own I guess.
I-N-No? N-Not yet? I’ll c-come by when I’m able t-to though, thanks.
Hmm… I-I’ll have t-to check him out then. M-make sure he c-can k-keep you s-safe.
The last time Sookie had seen Jesse was around Christmas. She was even wearing the bracelet he had given her, which she wore most of the time. She was a vampire at the time and boy had he smelled delicious. He explained it was because he was half-angel though, which must have been really different for him since he was actually a cambion. Sookie didn’t find it strange one bit, him being half-demon and all. He certainly didn’t act like it. In fact, Jesse was probably one of the nicer people she had met in camp. A lot of others were really stuck up or they’d shrug you off with smart-ass comments and insults. Jesse didn’t do any of those to her.
The Jesse standing before her though was different. There was something timid about him than when they last saw each other - months ago. Yeah, months. Where had he even been at? Maybe they just missed each other when in camp, being in different places at different times. Then again maybe he wasn’t even in camp.
“It’s really good to see you,” she said with a genuine smile, still rolling her eyes over him to figure out what was so different. Here the faerie went again. Curious and nosy as always. She had grown better at sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Still didn’t mean she wasn’t curious.
Sookie grinned at his comment and brushed her long hair back behind her shoulder. “Thanks!” She said, flattered by what he said. Looking great in an apocalypse? That was something, when you weren’t scrawny from lack of food or your skin wasn’t blushed with sweat and dirt. But that was an upside to living in a camp with running water and food - you managed to keep up a better appearance than when you were trying to survive out there.
Her eyes glazed over the garden of roses and with a smile, she peeked up at Jesse and said, “Did you do all of this? It looks really nice.” She’d get to asking him where he was soon enough, when they were mostly done with pleasantries.
“It’s really good to see you.”
Fucking hell, Sookie. Jesse couldn’t help how his smile widened just a bit then. Someone other than Eric and Sam actually happy to see him. She was even still wearing the bracelet he’d made her for Christmas, there for everyone to see. How lucky Eric was to have known her before all this shit started. To have someone so bright in the normal everyday had to have been a blessing, even more so now.
Her smile made him smile a bit more and he resisted the urge to pet her hair with her, instead running his hands through his own shaggy hair and shifting on his feet. The fairy did look good though and Jesse found that he liked her hair long as it was. He caught a better look of it as she looked around the garden and found his gaze unconsciously going a bit lower. The teenager made a confused face at Sookie’s gaze, unsure if she’d caught him looking but pretending it didn’t happen all the same, listening to the question before nodding and shrugging simultaneously.
“M-mostly? Eric and I… We l-like it here. S-so we take c-care of it,” Jesse answered, ignore how his speech was for now. Time would make it better, he was sure. He glanced at one of the roses before walking over and plucking off a white tulip and a pink rose with barely there touches, the plants knowing what he needed before he could even think. He smiled at them as he wiped off thorns, grateful, before turning back and handing them out to Sookie. “Here. F-Flowers for the p-pretty fairy. J-just no d-dancing in the g-garden,” Jesse said, unsure of where he’d heard of dancing fairies being an actual thing. The Nutcracker? Probably. Sookie probably wouldn’t get too mad at the jab though. Hopefully. Sugar-Plum fairy references could never incite anger.