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Making Light of a Bad Situation

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“You’re not dead,” Charlie said simply followed by a relieved sigh.

“Should I be?” Dean asked. Really, the thought should have occurred to him. He probably should be dead or locked away in Hell again. But he isn’t and he can’t decide if it’s a miracle or the beginning of something much worse.

“You haven’t been answering your phone,” Charlie explained. “It kept saying that you-both of you-were out of the coverage area. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t figurative. And that angel of yours stopped by and, to use a turn of phrase loosely, he looked like Hell. I’ve never seen a trench coat in such a sorry state of disrepair.”

“Cas is okay?” Dean asked and can’t decide if the relief in his voice was something he’s happy about or not.

“If you call okay being enigmatic and dropping a completely drunk, apparent prophet, whose name is Chuck off while also not explaining anything or even giving me a hint whether or not either of you were alive or dead as okay,” Charlie took a deep breath, “then, sure, Castiel was just peachy. Speaking of prophets, who names a prophet of the Lord Chuck, but that’s an entire other can of worms.” Charlie rambled further, and then his voice was quiet. “Bobby said you disappeared Dean, vanished out of his living room. Poof and not a word since more than a day ago.” Charlie takes a moment to just breathe on his end of the line.

“So what’s going on with you?” Dean asks, prolonging the inevitable apocalypse talk.

“Aside from drunken prophets, Ted’s in Spain,” Charlie stated without preamble and taking the opportunity to let Dean breathe.

The declaration felt weird coming out of his mouth, like he was making it up or maybe he had failed somehow. Except he’s not making it up. Ted left a note and everything—everything counting that his suitcase was gone along with a few of his clothes, passport, his toothbrush, and the note keeping the pineapple on the kitchen island company.

Charlie also couldn’t believe it’s taken this long for that to sink in. Surely it should have been higher on his list. But who could blame him? He had been trying to save Reece and his whole world. Well, not his whole world even though it felt like it at the time.

So, when he noticed that Ted was missing and he found the note then had a beer, he figured it was only natural that he should call someone who could appreciate this turn of events. Someone who knew Ted and Charlie—that would understand the magnitude of this. Really, Charlie’s timing could have been a little more apt.

“Shit really?” Dean Winchester asked casually, but there’s an edge to his voice that Crews couldn’t exactly put his finger on. “To chase Olivia, right?”

“Yep,” Charlie confirmed. Ted and Dean had talked probably talked about it. From what Charlie could guess, Dean would have told Ted that life was too short to pussy-foot around with that other redhead in his life. Dean would know about the frailness of life; he’s been dead—maybe even twice.

“I’ll do you one better,” Dean stated, his voice a mockery of his normal cocky, self-assured.

“Oh yeah?” Charlie asked. “How’s that?”

Before Dean could answer, there was a small scuffle on the Winchester end of the phone with a bit of muttering ending with Charlie being put on speaker phone. Then Sam came on the line.

“I let Lucifer out of Hell,” Sam stated, voice a hundred shades of guilt and remorse.

“Sammy,” Dean spoke in the background, the word conveying all his sorrow, regret, and pain.

“Yeah, you win,” Charlie said without any Zen flair. Just the facts. Apocalypse trumps a friend leaving without any real argument in the grand scheme. “Like the Lucifer? Also know as Morningstar, ex-angel, who will probably never refute pancakes in my kitchen, Satan, that guy Lucifer?”

“Yep,” Sam confirmed.

“Maybe I should go to Spain too,” Charlie said. “Go on a long holiday. Have Asian pears in Asia or something. You guys could tag along, if you’re not going to save the world, but you’re totally going to save the world, aren’t you? Or are you not thinking about that yet? It’s okay if you don’t. Big thing, world saving. You’ll have to think of where you have to go next. If anything, I wish you didn’t have to. Do you want me and Dani to save the world? I bet she could take Lucifer. She could scowl him to death, I’m pretty sure.”

“Thanks Charlie,” both Winchesters said over the tinny speaker.

“The offer to swing by still stands, especially since I’m harboring prophets now,” Charlie said sincerely, “ex-dead fugitives really wouldn’t rock the boat.”

“We’ll let you deal with one mess at a time Charlie,” Dean said, sounding a little more like himself but not quite.

I bet they don’t talk for a hundred miles after this; Charlie thought and said, “I love messes. Matter of fact, my kitchen misses you. It’s just too clean in here. And there should be more dirty towels on the floor.”

“Charlie,” Sam started.

“Don’t forget that you’re both right there now. You’re both together, both alive if maybe more than a little broken,” Charlie said earnestly. “You are best together. Try to stick together. It’s better than being alone.”

Charlie fought not to feel completely hollowed out. His best friend was gone and Reece could be everything to him if he wanted her to be, but that pales in comparison to the two brothers standing between Heaven and Hell. “The universe seems a lot bigger than us,” Charlie continued, “but really, the most important things are what’re closest to you. You are both orbiting each other. Don’t let what’s happening eclipse that. Don’t stop turning because of fear and anger.”

The silence on the other end of the line was deafening. Dean finally cleared his throat. “Next time Charlie,” Dean said, the slightest hint of smile in his voice, “try to use even more space references.”

“Sure,” Charlie said and was able to smile. The tightness in his chest, that he didn’t realize he was holding, loosened a little. “Try to call more. I’m too young and cute to worry myself to death.”

Both Winchesters finally laughed and agreed. After he hung up, Charlie sat there at his kitchen counter a long time staring at the phone.

“Are you trying to will them to call back?” Chuck, his new apparent prophet asked worrying the tie of his robe. The kid was a mess and Charlie was pretty sure that he was a kid. Scruffy, unkempt, somewhat smelly, drunk, old beyond his years, yet still so young. Hell, he didn’t know his nightmares were real until recently. But really, who wouldn’t be that if you had been having visions for the last for years about things even King would have trouble imagining in his nightmares let alone live through.

“Chuck, you’ve got no idea,” Charlie said, glimmer of a smile on his lips. Outside his window, sunrise was long off and he could hear the coyotes calling in the hills.