A bit of fiddling, that’s all it was.
Well, that’s all it was supposed to be.
A device that plays with space-time and the very weave of whatever it was that spanned the gap between dimensions?
How could anyone just let something like that gather dust in an archive?
It functioned how it was meant to, it was only that what it was meant to do was cause harm… If they just tweaked it a bit, just a little, gave it an anchor point and limited the scale of possibilities… If they yanked down the juice that kept it powered to a more moderated level…
It could save lives.
Just a bit, here and there and on weekends when there wasn’t anything big going on.
The stupid thing wasn’t even turned on most of the time.
It was inert and dead as fricken paperweight (which honestly is what the fiddler in question had mostly been using it for)…
And then… it wasn’t.
One button, a loose screw, the slip of a paperclip…
A big flash of blinding light.
Silence, like the absolute nothing right before the tidal wave hits.
And in that silence, a tiny, over-caffeinated little voice:
_ _ _
Chapter 1 – MIA Angel or Alien Infiltrator?
Charlie Bradbury knows she’s awesome.
But there’s the standard awesome that any Queen of Moondoor is simply by nature of being epic enough to have achieved the throne to start with...
And then there’s the awesome that is having created a automated dark web trawling program to track the world’s Big Weirds (and only the very BIGGEST of the Big Weirds) and having that super secret extra level deep vault program actually work.
Well, of course it worked, but it like worked.
It found an Angel.
It found a something.
And an MIA angel, who was not exactly an angel anymore, but also couldn’t really pass as truly human, and who was still on like every watchlist ever (magical, criminal, meme-spirational, etc), but is somehow still entirely off the fricken radar?
Yeah. BIG Weird.
Said angel-not-angel popping up at a Biggerson’s in Ohio with no shoes, more money than god, an insane caffeine tolerance and absolutely no idea how to function inside a Walmart?
HELLA Big Weird.
So Charlie, being the awesome Queen that she is (and being acutely aware of what false hope here could do to the people in particular question with this) went to check it out herself.
And, personally, she can say that this kid is the weirdest thing she’s ever seen, and after having day-tripped out to the literal Land of Oz a few times over… well, that’s sayin’ something.
Charlie’s met Castiel.
Not exactly her type, but she could see how that divine slice of puppy in a trench coat could be seen as something of a serious snack.
Though… If he weren’t an angel, she’d swear he was an alien.
But, like, a cool alien.
Much less spy-trained infiltrator than innocent human-admirer who wants to experience the local flavor on his little vacation out to the Milky Way’s most interesting backwater, Sol-3.
And the kid she finds in Ohio… is not that guy.
For starters, she’s not entirely sure he’s old enough to drink alcohol.
And he’s… not looking for Sam and Dean ( which is seriously a BIG red flag for deciding whether this particular angel-not-angel is the right angel-not-angel).
He is looking for something, though.
Something he seems to think is in Kansas, near-ish enough to the Bunker’s coordinates to make her question the ‘not looking for Sam and Dean thing’ (but the absolute dinosaur of a smartphone he’s working on to pull up maps could totally just call the bunker, if he wanted to… or any of the plethora of emergency numbers the Boys have set up…).
Charlie’s looking on from a Very Inconspicuous post in the booth two tables away from the kid in the red hoodie and she can feel his frustration with the device radiating off him like physical Force pulses. Fortunately, proto-Sith this kid is not, and all the tables remain table-y.
She’s watching him fight with the internet to find something and his device’s crappy security means she didn’t even have to work hard to get her own screen to show what’s happening on his. He’s definitely looking at Kansas, at going to Kansas— Lebanon in particular.
Messy black hair, big blue eyes, grumpy face to rival any Netscape feline…
Looking for Lebanon and totally out of sync with humanity…
And… his oversized red hoodie just happens to have the 2-D rendering of a big black pair of wings stitched into its backside— stemming right from where they should on the kid’s shoulder blades if the wings were real.
Charlie’s not really gullible enough to believe in signs from God anymore…
But if she were… well, that would be pretty convincingly Divine Sign-like.
So, she makes the call.
Sam picks up on the third ring.
“So, you know how like the main character always has dramatically weird colored hair and sits in the second to last desk by the window?”
With a heavy sigh filled with enough affection to make Charlie’s insides feel all squiggly and warm, Sam says, “No, Charlie, I have absolutely no idea.”
“Well, they do.”
“They are Narrative Significant, they stick out from the background in like a big way, but not just in like a ‘doing main character things’ kinda way,” Charlie rambles, trying to find her point buried under the spiraling metaphor.
“Charlie, do you know what time it is?”
“Uh, 2, maybe, 3am. I think. But that may have been like three coffees ago,” Charlie prattles off automatically before veering back on track, “Anyway. The point is that I think I found a main character. He’s not the character I thought he should be, though. He doesn’t look right. He’s too young. And no trench coat. But he is hella out of sync… and the blue eyes and black hair and everything else…”
There’s a pause as Sam’s non-caffeinated brain tries to keep up with Charlie’s infodump.
“I think I found him, Sam,” Charlie whispers. “I think I found Castiel. Well, I found someone weird enough to maybe be Castiel, in the Castiel kind of way, and he’s looking for a way to get to Lebanon, so…”
Much more alert, Sam asks, “Where are you?”
“Ohio. Quaint little place called Granville,” Charlie reports. “It’s a pretty straight shot to the Bunker, but it’s like 14 hours on the road and I’m not sure the gods of caffeine consumption will really be cool with me pushing their bounty that hard…”
“Don’t try too hard to get him to go anywhere with you, see if you can just offer to pay for a motel room for the night,” Sam instructs, the sounds of a pack being prepped with one hand clanging about in the background. “We’ll be in Granville before noon.”
“What if he really wants to head out?”
“Take it slow and text us when you get gas, we’ll meet you in Indianapolis.”
He’s using ‘Serious Sam’ voice.
It’s the voice that makes panicking bunny rabbits being chased by wendigos settle down for half a second so Dean can frickin torch those ghost-y cannibal creepers.
Only, in this case, the wendigos aren’t cannibal forest ghosts chomping down on campers. This time, the Big Bad that Dean is unequivocally about to destroy is approximately 909 miles of US Highway 36.
It makes Charlie feel a little bit better about nearly everything that’s wrong.
She hangs up with Sam after promising to keep the updates coming, and looks back at the kid who could be Castiel.
Only to find him looking back.
For a minute, she’s worried that he heard her talking to Sam about him.
But he seems kinda zonked.
And he doesn’t look upset or embarrassed or angry, so…
She is the only other person on this side of the Biggerson’s, (and really she’s the only non-staff member in this Biggerson’s all told besides the kid himself), so it’s really not that strange for her to be the dust mote in motion that’s wound up drawing the kid’s eye.
He’s not really expressing anything.
He’s just looking.
Whelp, he’s got that creepy unblinking stare down pat, bird-like head-tip and all.
The kind of stare that’s not angry or judgmental but feels more clinical than anything else, like he’s seeing through the bones and skin and sinew to the soul that’s underneath.
Dissecting it and diagnosing it…
It makes her shiver.
But she plasters on a smile and says, “Hey. You wanna refill?”
The kid looks down at his empty coffee cup.
He blinks, real slow like.
Then he nods.
Relief floods Charlie.
Step One, making with the contact with the Target. Check.
In her experience that’s usually been the hardest part of these things.
Not that she really has much experience in ‘these things’…
But still, Score 1 for the Queen, yeah?
She signals to a waitress for two more cups of coffee, shots of espresso boosting both of them. It’s like a weird AU of a sleezy bar beat, a remixed mark meets con-woman kinda thing.
“So, kid, what’s your name?”
“Shouldn’t you tell me yours first?”
Charlie shrugs. “Well, generally yeah, that is the convention. But I like being unconventional, I guess.”
Really, it’s that she hasn’t quite decided what name to give him.
He blinks expectantly, head tipping over again.
Realizing that she’s already giving up ground in this pseudo-battle of wills and whatnot, Charlie sighs heavily and says, “I’m Charlie, Charlie Bradbury. Geek extraordinaire.”
The kid nods, visibly internalizing the information.
Trying really hard not to be perturbed by that, Charlie barrels on to say, “I see that tablet of yours is gone a bit wonky. You looking for something in Kansas? I might be able to fix your tech or find what you’re looking for with mine.”
“My tablet…” With big owl eyes, the kid glances down at the piece of crap barely smart enough to call a screen and gives a plaintive little huff. “It is… insufficient.”
Charlie gives a laugh that only sounds two-thirds forced and says, “Understatement, buddy. You’re grand at it.”
The kid simply frowns.
“So,” she says, drum-rolling her fingers on the plastic tabletop as she leans into the leading questions. “Tell me what’s your name and what you’re looking for in Kansas and we’ll see if I can work my magic, huh?”
The kid’s eyes narrow suspiciously on the word ‘magic’, but he gives no other reaction.
For a solid minute, easy, they just kinda sit there.
And then the kid downs a full cup of espresso-boosted coffee like it’s a bottle of watered down Gatorade and flashes Charlie the stiffest stretch of smile she’s ever seen on any face that still looks mostly-human.
“My name’s Alvin,” he tells her with all the bland panache of a used car salesman. “Alvin Draper. And honestly? I’m looking for a hole in the universe.”
Charlie almost bursts out laughing.
The kid— Alvin— spots the reaction. He glowers, quite impressively, to be honest.
“Well, Alvin, that’s the fakest fake-name I’ve ever heard, but I think I can help with the ‘hole in the universe’ thing,” she tells him.
Alvin’s frowning again, it’s adorable and endearing in ways it really shouldn’t be.
“One problem, though,” she lays out. “You’re gonna have to be a little more specific about which hole in the universe or tear in the fabric of reality your talking about.”
Taken entirely aback, Alvin huffs, “Is it a commonplace occurrence to have your universe ripped open, then?”
“Well, not exactly. It’s more like our universe is the knit-scarf version of a life-raft,” Charlie explains, wheezing a bit as the metaphor sinks perfectly into a crack she didn’t quite realize she still needed to find a way to fill. “Things here aren’t… Well, uh, how many apocalypses have you fended off this week?”
“You’re really just gonna roll with the implicit declaration that I’m from another universe and you’re not going to question my sanity?”
Alvin looks like he’s suddenly questioning her sanity.
For a beat, Charlie feels insulted.
But really, his reaction is the more logical one.
Maybe Charlie should start trying to talk to more normies here soon, she’s totally lost touch with what constitutes a ‘reasonable reaction to weird shit’.
“Whelp, I’m not a Time Lord or anything,” she confesses, “but I’ve had enough contact with the Supernatural to know how to spot someone who’s brushed up against something ugly in the dark and is kinda freaking out about it. You fit the bill, Alvin.”
The kid rolls his eyes.
It could be an angel-learned-it-from-Dean thing, it really could be.
The weight of the sarcasm is just that strong.
“Fine, yes. ‘Alvin’ is not my real name,” he admits.
Then he casts a wicked smile her way that almost makes her rethink the ‘learned it from Dean’ idea, because this is… creepy in an almost Demon kinda way… in an almost Leviathan way. The grin is so unnerving that Charlie almost misses his next words:
“But you know, I’m pretty damn sure that ‘Charlie’ isn’t yours.”
“Yeah? Well, darn. Ya got me,” she breathes, trying to make herself remember that the Leviathan are gone, that she didn’t even see Cas when he was one of them.
In any other circumstance, Charlie would be reaching for the Borax.
But this angel-not-angel (and maybe-but-probably-not-demon-or-leviathan) kid whose name is definitely not Alvin, notices her sudden stiffness.
Immediately, he softens.
“Hey, what happened? You okay?”
Charlie shrugs. “You wouldn’t happen to be allergic to a certain 19th century boron-containing sodium compound, would ya?”
“Sodium borate? Like Borax? Can’t say I am,” the kid assures. “Any particular reason?”
“Uh, the word ‘Leviathan’ mean anything to you? Like specific, human-livestock-eating, double-tongued with lots of teeth lizard-men people-imitators specific? ‘Cause you just really reminded me of one there. And like I had a friend go Darkside… well, a lotta my friends have actually gone Darkside, but there was one and he… he’s missing still and well, bad things happen to my friends when they go missing.”
“Really? Literal apocalypses? How exactly literal?”
“Um, pick a holy book at random? We’ve probably hit most of them by now,” Charlie admits, with a discomfited shrug as she vaguely wonders how she ended up on this side of the metaphorical interrogation table. “I think the first one was the Judeo-Christian one, they took things pretty literal. Michael-Lucifer prize fight and all…”
“Okay…” the kid says, finally sounding a little thrown, “but you stopped that one?”
“Yeah,” she tells him.
“So where are you now?”
“Somewhere between God’s little sister throwing a world-ending temper tantrum and you know a Luci-spawn antichrist accidentally poof-ing up new laws of physics?”
“Sounds plausible,” the kid tells her, his tone both entirely accepting of it as the gospel truth and sounding like he thinks she’s totally bonkers.
“No, it really doesn’t,” Charlie sighs. “Doesn’t change the fact it’s true. But enough about me and my world-ending escapades. How about your hole in the universe?”
“That’s the thing… See, I don’t remember.”
“I don’t remember how I got here, I just remember that I don’t belong,” the kid confesses, sounding a lot more like he’s being honest than before. “I’m not supposed to be here, but I can’t explain what might be able to bring me back.”
“So, Lebanon, Kansas?”
“Has a safehouse I remember, or I think I do,” he lays out. “And it has a power source I think I need. And…”
Charlie’s hoping for something about the people waiting for him there, something about the ‘profound bond’ doing something to clue him in.
She can’t tell if this is just a spell or something, or if it’s a consequence of having Fallen, regained Angel status, and then seemingly kicked it again in the fastest repeat of the cycle yet.
“I dunno,” he sighs. “I just have to be there.”
Well, it’s not what she was hoping for.
But it’s still closer than she thought she’d get…
So, she’s still not 100% certain this kid is a whammied Castiel.
But she’s definitely like 85% certain, maybe 87%.
And in Winchester World? That there’s some pretty damn good lookin’ odds. So, Charlie will take what she can get and will roll with the rest.
Sam and Dean will be here in a few more hours. All she has to do ‘till then is keep this kid in arm’s reach and keep them both from being buckled up for the looney bin.
Sounds totally doable, right?
In retrospect, Charlie may have to adjust her definition of ‘doable’…
_ _ _