Sam missed Charlie. He hadn’t seen the redhead in nearly four months since they were in LA. Contact since then had been sporadic at best. But mostly Charlie’s persistent and calls to talk even though Sam mostly doesn’t answer. Nor is Charlie intimidated by voicemail. Maybe talking to Charlie will be a good thing today. Or maybe I should just hang up.
“What’s that?” Sam asked instead.
“That’s how many cops on the force never fire their gun in the line of duty. Whether that’s because they never see any gnarly stuff or they’re just that lucky isn’t really the thing. Then again, maybe it’s luck,” Charlie paused.
Sam let Charlie gather his thoughts. Letting Charlie get there is mainly the point of the journey.
“That other three percent though?” Charlie asked.
“Yeah, what about them?” Sam asked, wondering if the knot in his stomach was from fear of where this conversation was going. Normally, Charlie kept things pretty light as if to counter his own fears and any of Sam’s dark thoughts. Unimportant nothings are easier to swallow all the way around.
“I’m not sure if that is all about luck,” Charlie mused. He almost sounded lost. “It could be all about survival—that instinct to kill instead of be killed. Or to protect, maybe it’s all about protection. But, sometimes, the person is just close to you—right there—and they leave you no choice but to react. Cops are trained to react with three bullet precision—a cluster of kill shots to the chest.”
“Did you survive today Charlie?” Sam asked. Before meeting Crews, he might have asked if he had killed today, but talks with Zen detectives will make you look at things differently.
“The girl I shot thought the dead were more interesting than the living,” Charlie answered, and then sighs. “I miss Reece. She understands the three percent better. Actually, she understands a lot better and what she doesn’t understand, she scowls through.”
“You still think Jane is a robot?” Sam tried to make a joke about Charlie’s new partner, hoping to pull Charlie out of whatever hole he’s dug for himself and his own darker thoughts.
“Not a robot. Just someone mostly unscathed with a fifteen year plan who knows she is in the ninety-seven percent.” Charlie sounds tired. “She realized that and it scared her, I think, to know that maybe she couldn’t hack killing or be killed. It’s nothing bad to know about yourself, per se, but sometimes it’s nice not to know what you’re able to do when it really comes down to it. It’s nice to think of yourself in a higher regard or in a more complete way. Sometimes if you look too closely at yourself, you don’t like what you see and the complete—a more calm—soul, self, is harder to achieve.”
You have no idea, Sam thought darkly, but asked instead, “Is that what you want Charlie? A more complete soul?”
“Yes, but I’d settle for a bigger gun,” Charlie said enigmatically.
Sam stifled a laugh with a cough. “Do I even want to know what you mean by that?”
“Just trying to give something back to someone that’s rightfully theirs,” Charlie spoke seriously. “It’s almost time.”
“Time is relative.” Sam countered.
“A lot of things are relative,” Charlie agreed, sounding so far away. “I have to go. Bye Sam.”
The phone disconnected leaving Sam to stare at it and wonder if any of them will be okay.
Two weeks later Dean got, what he would classify, one of the more interesting phone calls he’s received.
“I don’t know if I’m who I’m supposed to be anymore,” Charlie Crews said, his voice somewhat small sounding through the cell. It could have been the two thousand mile distance, but Dean was pretty sure it was something else.
See, Charlie calls Dean a lot. Charlie calls Dean despite calling Sam just hours before. Dean used to not answer, but lately Charlie’s brand of crazy is almost comforting.
“No one knows who they’re supposed to be unless someone tells ‘em,” Dean rolled with the abrupt start of the conversation, purely because he was caught off guard. “Then if someone tells you, you get to tell them to suck it if you don’t like what they’ve got to say.”
“Spoken like a man who told someone to suck it,” Charlie spoke and Dean could almost hear the fond smile in those words. “Who did you tell that? Was it that angel that showed up in my kitchen? I bet he tilted his head at you in confusion and everything.”
“Detective, you are probably the last person I expected to call me,” Dean drawled, deflecting. “What, Sam giving you the silent treatment too?”
Dean winced. He hadn’t meant to say that last part.
“Yes and no. He wasn’t answering his phone, but I didn’t want to talk to him anyway.” Charlie answered.
“His emo would only bring you down,” Dean said sagely even though they were both pretty sure it was a lie. Neither Winchester is not exactly the most uplifting to talk to these days. If we ever were. Maybe their now dead, previously unknown, half-brother would have been uplifting to talk to with his Med-school plans and normal apple pie life. He probably had nothing but hopes and dreams without the burden of a family legacy that he was never handed.
“Not that,” Charlie spoke, his voice contemplative. “Sam is pretty sure that Sam knows who he is—or at least he’s decided who he’s gonna be. His ideas of himself are set in defiance and Winchester stubbornness. And I’m not saying you don’t have ideas of yourself too, Dean. It’s different.”
“And who am I, Charlie Crews?” Dean asked and instantly regretted the question. Batting a thousand tonight, Winchester.
“You are Dean Winchester, Sam’s older brother and protector. The Sam who would walk into Hell for you even if you don’t want him to—even when you’ve already done that for him,” Charlie started, his voice sure and strong. “You know the best of what you can do, which saves people and kills things. You know the worst you can do, which no one should know about themselves. You carry on when lesser men could not take another step because you don’t know any other course of action—even when you’re tired of the job, Heaven, Hell, or your brother. You are kind, which Rachel and any number of kids across the country would attest. You know your way around any manner of electronics—my toaster thanks you, and so does your car for that matter. It’s is your home after all. And I am glad to know you. I am a richer man for knowing you.”
“Pretty words, Detective.” Dean said after a beat too long of silence, blinking to clear his vision. It must be allergies. “There’s really no need to blow air up my skirt.”
“And you can’t take a compliment for shit,” Charlie declared cheerfully. “I almost forgot that.”
“And who are you, Charlie, other than the Zen talking LA detective, ex-con, fruit lover?” Dean asked.
“It’s over, or it’s just beginning,” Charlie said instead of answering.
“Vague it up, Crews,” Dean countered.
“Figuring out who ruined my life and why, that’s what’s over. Except it isn’t. I was set up to be someone else. Well, things didn’t go as planned apparently. But I’m supposed to be the guy now—the guy with the power to take over. The heir to something that I’ve only seen the tip of. Roman was angry it wasn’t him. He almost killed Reece, because he wasn’t chosen. He didn’t have a look. Sandborn said I have the right look. He chose me before I was even out of the academy. Before I ever went into business with my best friend. Before I married my ex-wife. I didn’t ask to be chosen. He was ultimately the reason everything was taken from me.” Charlie quieted.
“From pauper to prince. Bound to be a mindfuck either which way you cut it, Charlie,” Dean said processing all that. “You don’t have to be that guy Charlie. You can stick with what you know.”
“Maybe I’m already that guy, Dean. Maybe I’ve been that guy all along. Maybe it’s my destiny. I don’t get to have a peaceful soul,” his voice sad, resolved.
“I don’t believe in that destiny crap and you shouldn’t either. Fuck destiny. Fuck prophecy. We make our own choices. Make your own choice here Crews.” Dean countered.
“Said like that, it sounds easy. Like plucking an apple from a tree.” Charlie said and sounded a little more grounded.
“But some fruit is forbidden,” Dean said, not exactly knowing why.
“In that case, I’d probably eat it anyway and enjoy it. There wasn’t any fruit in jail.”
“Not in Hell either.”
“Such a cruel universe we live in,” Charlie said, but sounded more like himself.
“Fuck the universe. I’m trying to only focus on one square of Earth at a time here Crews,” Dean grumbled.
“Way to prioritize. Just remember everything—.”
“Is connected.” Dean cut him off. “Yeah, Charlie. I know. You might have mentioned it.”
“Thanks Dean,” Charlie spoke sincerely after a few moments of companionable silence.
Dean smiled a little. “Well, Charlie…” his voice trailed off. This part was always the hardest.
“You’re welcome,” Charlie replied knowing all that Dean wanted to say. “Night, Dean.” Charlie hung up, leaving Dean to pocket his phone and breathe the crisp air. The smell of Spring on the air and the sunrise was red with warning of a storm on the way.