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El Cerrito Place

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She watched him at the bar, nursing a whiskey and pretending not to feel a damn thing.

Human stubbornness could be admirable at times. She flipped through the book in front of her, disguised as a magazine, and looked for his name in the cosmic file: Dean Winchester. The list of his missteps and poor decisions outranked even the list of deaths at his hands. This one was no ordinary human.

Ma’at wore mortal skin today. The Egyptian goddess of truth and justice revealed her heritage in only an ankh around her neck and a white feather in her dark hair. She missed fertile black earth, whispering sands, and true civilization.

Something of her stature had no place being in Dearborn, Michigan, but she had followed her errant brother across the globe. Osiris ruled as the god of transition, a being lesser than herself, and his role was only to lead the Weighing of the Heart when she was not able to do so. He had forgotten the Old Ways, and his bastardization of her ritual boiled her blood. Ghosts tethered to the afterlife ceremony, witnesses at the trial, internal guilt standing heavier than the eyes of Law… She had planned to kill him when she caught him, and discovering that he had been laid to rest for the next hundred years had stalled his punishment.

Now she needed to right his wrongs. The task challenged her, for most of those wronged were dead. Toying with the Afterlife was never easy.

She read another page of the book and saw outlined there all that Osiris must have seen when choosing Dean for the trial. There were so many names on the list, so many tangled snarls of culpability that it was hard to conceive which one could be most troubling this mortal.

Ma’at spared a glance at his stooped shoulders. She thought of Hathor’s timeless dance -- the love of a woman -- and turned the pages of the book. The list of names etched there was surprisingly small: Cassie, Jo, Lisa. She read the glyphs carefully. Cassie and Lisa were alive.

If she could touch his hand, she would see his heart and know all.

Slipping off the barstool, she approached. “Hello, stranger.”

Dean turned and gave her a tired once-over. “Hey.”

“May I have this seat?”

He shrugged. “It’s not taken.”

“Give a lady a hand?” She extended her slim fingers towards him. Watching confusion temporarily replace the weariness on his face almost made her smile. Gentlemanly gestures were so lost these days; they had been something she had very much enjoyed about the 1900s A.D.

Some measure of chivalry won out though, and he gripped her hand to steady her as she lifted onto the barstool.

The memories etched on his heart flooded into her, and she touched each one, taking its essence and finding the reason it belonged to his dearest place. Within seconds, she knew him better than he knew himself. Her curiosity was still piqued. She longed for a different era when she could have placed his heart on her scale, for she did not know which way he would tip. The old gods had lost the world and now had little more than parlor tricks at their disposal.

“Thank you.” Ma’at did not motion to the bartender for a drink. “What brings you here tonight?”

Dean looked down at his glass, shrugged a little. She now knew the gesture to be uncharacteristic. As a beautiful woman, she should have been on the receiving end of a killer smile and an eye-rake.

“Just having a drink.”

She reexamined the memories and touched again the profound sadness and regret surrounding Jo. Osiris had tethered Jo’s ghost and tried to make her kill Dean a few hours before, but that was not what was aching Dean’s heart. He felt responsible for Jo’s death. He had weighed his actions against possibilities and found himself guilty. Osiris had taken this latent pain and dragged sharp claws along it. The fiery explosion Dean had suppressed -- had even stopped having nightmares about -- was once again replaying inside of him.

Osiris had taken on her immortal task and used it to create pain for mortals. The Weighing was meant to be the ultimate closure, and instead, this human lay broken on the other side of it.

She could fix this.

“You’re thinking about Jo Harvelle and wondering how you could have prevented her death.”

He tensed and turned to her with wide eyes. “How the hell do you--”

He fumbled in his coat, obviously looking for a weapon of some sort. She shook her head and reached into her wellspring of magic within, lifting its feathery power and extending it to the human across from her. When she flicked her fingers forward, the invisible strands did their job. He quieted, preternatural calm settling over his body and mind. She felt the peace drape over him like a blanket.

It was the state of Honesty and Calm in which the final judgment should have been presented, but she was breaking the rules of her magic tonight.

“I am Ma’at, the true goddess of Truth and Justice. My brother, Osiris, had no place to judge you earlier. Only I can cast the final weighing, and only when it is your time to die. We do not kill.”

“I’m probably an exception to the rule. When it comes to death, I’ve been there, done that. Besides,” Dean paused. “Your brother wasn’t wrong. I am guilty.”

“Are you guilty because Jo died?”

“Well, Jo and Ellen, sure. But Cas fell because of me and then screwed up royally, Sam had to jump into the cage with Lucifer and is now a half bubble off plumb, and I dragged Lisa and Ben into my world, and I knew better. I'm plenty guilty.”

“How?”

Even in the state of peace, he seemed surprised by the question.

“Because I’m supposed to take care of everyone. That’s why Jo was going to kill me, you know. She was my responsibility. Sam was too, but with the demon blood and all of that, I was up against a lot. But Jo was just a normal kid when I met her, just bartending at the family business. I let her get involved in hunting, and before you know it, she’s dying bloody hunting the devil. All for nothing.”

“You stopped the Apocalypse.”

“Jo dying didn’t have anything to do with that.”

“Could you fix it?”

Again, she had surprised him. He thought for a long moment.

“Knowing what I know now? Yeah. I could fix it.”

Ma’at looked at him, so limited by mortality that it had never occurred to him to try. Heh and Hauhet forbade humans or other gods from affecting the infinity, but so many rules had already been broken tonight. She had not seen the rulers of time in many hundreds of years, so she doubted they would appear now to punish her for one minor manipulation.

She reached out to take Dean Winchester’s hand again and sent him to his second chance. As she moved the strands of time, she could hear its sound, almost like the whispers of sand she missed.

Her brother had not been wrong in wanting to be useful to humanity again. She watched Dean disappear and wished him luck.