Illusion never changed into something real ( Sam/Ellen fanfic ) [ Your wish is my command! Sort of. ;x You wanted something that included Ellen, so here goes. If you read this before I get the Ellen/Dean stuff written, it's coming. But since you're gone for the weekend, I figured I have plenty of time to get that installment up. As always, proceed with caution. Never even considered writing for Ellen until you brought it up. Thanks for that! >.< And uh, since I had no intentions of using any of this in our rp, I used it for the fic. Easy enough. ]
"Sam! What a nice surprise." She hadn't seen either of the Winchesters in awhile. It was a little suspicious for them to suddenly show up in her neck of the woods, but that didn't make her any less glad to see them. Even though at the moment, there wasn't a 'them' to see. "Where's Dean?" She asked after casting a quizzical look around. Usually they were attached at the hip. It was sweet, really, that the two stuck so close. It's when they weren't together that a person needed to start to worry.
"Hey Ellen." He appreciated the warm welcome. No matter how long it'd been or what the circumstances were, the greeting was always the same - aside from the first time they'd crossed paths, but that was before she knew who they were. They couldn't really hold that against the Harvelle's. And okay, the time they'd interrupted a fight between her and Jo. Ellen hadn't appreciated that either.
As for the question about Dean, he responded with a light scoff. "He ran into a girl in the parking lot." No surprise there, right? His brother could run into a girl anywhere. Going to a bar was like happy hour for him, in more ways than one.
"Someone he knew?" She didn't figure Dean would know that many women around these parts, but it was possible. It was even more possible that he was out there harassing a local who'd either been coming or going.
He rolled his eyes, half ashamed to even say it, much less witness it. That's why Sam had sauntered on into the bar ahead of him. "More like someone he wants to know." Which basically boiled down to 'poor, unsuspecting prey that had gotten leaped before she could get to her vehicle' - not that she'd seemed to mind. Whatever mojo his brother had when it came to the ladies obviously worked on women of all ages, nationalities, intelligence levels, and regions. He was like a walking, talking love guru, in the flesh. Honestly, he didn't know how Dean did it. Some of those lines he used were just tacky, and the looks he gave ... it was a little creepy, if you asked Sam. But no one did, so he made it a habit to just get out of the way when he saw the flirting begin.
Yeah that sounded like Dean. Back to his old tricks. "Good to hear he's back in the saddle." She'd gotten a phone call from Bobby a few days ago, updating her on the situation. Ellen had gotten wind of the whole Challenge showdown and was a bit concerned when she didn't hear anything for awhile. But apparently the boys were holding up okay, although she couldn't dodge bringing up her knowledge of the situation. Seemed rude to stand across from Sam and pretend nothing big had happened since they last saw each other. Especially something this major. "I heard about what happened. I'm sure sorry, but you boys made it. That's the most important thing." From what she'd been told, it was a close call. Dean had barely squeaked by. Hadn't, in fact. It'd been touch and go for a little while. But they couldn't dwell on the negative; they had to focus on the positive.
Sam wasn't so sure, but he agreed with her anyway. "Yeah, I guess."
She'd been wiping the counter down while there was a slump in customers, but the sudden change in tone caused her to stop what she was doing and prop one hand up on her hip. "What's going on with you two?" They hadn't come all this way to make small-talk. Every time they stopped by, it was because of business, and business was booming. Why would this time be any different? What she knew for a fact was that something was troubling Sam, and it probably had to do with Dean.
"What?" He'd been caught off-guard by her question. He hadn't realized he'd been acting strangely - or any stranger than usual.
"You couldn't have fooled anybody with that line." The boy was a terrible liar. Something else was going on. Had to be, or he wouldn't have made the trip all the way out here to see her. It was probably something serious too, or he would've just picked up the phone. The sooner she got him to fess up, the better. "Last time you dropped in for a surprise visit, it was because you two had a disagreement. You wanted to do a little soul searching, and Dean thought it was a bad idea." From what she'd heard later, not a lot of good had come from it. Even fewer answers had resulted from Sam's sudden independent streak. Ellen wasn't looking to repeat history: let this one wander off and get himself into trouble again. The Winchesters were supposed to be on a sabbatical, of sorts. If they were going to directly defy doctors' orders, the least they could do was not throw themselves into the middle of any potentially harmful situations until they were well enough to return to the war.
Where was all this suspicion coming from? Sure, they didn't stop in and see her on a regular basis or anything, but aside from Bobby, she was the only one they routinely kept in contact with. But he got why she might be concerned. Especially if she'd been talking to others about what'd happened. Though just for the record, he wasn't here to ramble on about Dean's night terrors or how stubborn his brother was being throughout this whole ordeal. However, he was here for a reason. Ellen had him pegged, there. Which he'd get to, soon. Right now, he was just answering her questions and responding to what'd been said. "I told you, he's right outside."
"You had to go through a hell of a lot of trouble to find me. Usually you swing by when I call you up with a case, but that's not how it happened this time. You came to me. So maybe Dean thinks that you two are really here just to kick back and have a few beers with an old friend, but I know otherwise. So why don't you come clean. Why are you really here?" It probably hadn't been that hard to find her. She'd gotten a hold of an old, abandoned nightclub and turned it into the new Roadhouse. Hunters needed someplace familiar to go to: to congregate. Besides, she'd gotten to know a good many of them. That's how she stayed as informed as she did. Of course things weren't quite the same. With Jo off on her own and Ash gone ... well, the place stayed emptier than it used to. But it was still pretty much the same: just a different location.
All they'd really had to do was give her a ring and ask where she was and what she was up to. She would've given them the address. Leave it up to Sam and Dean to do everything the hard way.
An uneasy glance was cast over his shoulder to make sure Dean hadn't wandered in yet, before he turned back to face Ellen. It was clear he was hesitant to ask by the way his words got lodged in his throat, causing him to close his mouth and swallow before starting again. But after his second attempt, he managed to get it out, though his tone was hushed. "Where do you think a person goes when they die?"
Well, she certainly hadn't been expecting that. The rag she'd been holding was set down as she gave Sam her undivided attention, positioning herself comfortably against the counter. "Gotta hand it to you, kiddo. You know how to skip right to the punch-line. But I'm afraid I don't know what you're getting at. Is this about Dean?" She couldn't figure who else it'd be about, but she asked, all the same. Better to be sure.
"Yeah, maybe. I mean, a part of it is." That probably hadn't helped clear things up at all. It was just a little embarrassing. He wouldn't be talking to Ellen about it at all if he hadn't been afraid it'd upset Dean, and if he told Bobby, it'd get back around to his brother. He just needed a fresh perspective. Preferably one that was based on experience, and one he could trust. She was one of the few people he'd consider mentioning this to. He valued her opinion. Now if only she had the answer he was looking for ...
"But?" She had to be patient. Sam would spell it all out for her, eventually.
"But not all of it." Obviously, he was still holding something back. But he didn't want to confuse her, so he would wait until she answered the first question before he went on to anything else: anything more in-depth.
So he wanted her to tell him what happens to a person when they leave this world: whether there is a next, and if there is, what determines whether you go up or down once you get to that point. Truth was, she didn't know. Not a clue, and she didn't believe in patronizing anyone. "I make it my business to know everything, but that one I can't answer. I don't think anyone knows for sure. Why do you ask?" Ellen figured that was the best route to take. She wasn't saying that there wasn't anything after this life, but she had no evidence to back it up, one way or the other. Leading a person on was cruel. Not that hope was such a bad thing either. But that was her final response, and she was sticking to it.
Sam chose his next words carefully, because this was about when everything would start sounding crazy. "Do you think it's possible for a person to come back?"
Ellen didn't understand what all the awkward pausing was for. The answer seemed pretty obvious. "Your brother's living proof. So are you, in a way." Both Sam and Dean had died ( by anyone's standards ), and been brought back to life, one way or the other. So of course it was possible, though it didn't make much sense for Sam to be the one doing the asking. He knew it better than she did. He had to be hinting at something else, but she just couldn't place her finger on it.
"No, I mean ... months, maybe even years later." This was sounding stupider every time he opened his mouth, but he just kept talking. When he got like this, it was kind of hard for him to stop.
She still wasn't entirely clear on who they were talking about, or even why they were discussing it in the first place. But she'd play along until she got the whole story. They were slowly but surely getting there. "Nothing's impossible, but it doesn't sound very likely." Again, it would help if she had all the facts.
His shoulders slumped in defeat, as he let out a heavy, frustrated sigh. "That's what I figured you'd say." He shouldn't have brought it up. Deep down, he already knew the answers to these questions. He was just sorta hoping Ellen would know something he didn't.
Concerned hues studied him a moment before she spoke up again. He seemed to be abandoning the topic. She had to keep the ball rolling somehow. "No offense, but shouldn't you be talking to Dean about this?"
Sam shook his head. "I can't. Not about this."
Something was definitely fishy about all this. Ellen figured those two shared everything. "Why not?" She leaned forward slightly so he'd have a harder time dodging her question. He was already starting to get all fidgety, shifting around in his seat and looking every which way but at her. Any minute now he'd be bolting for the door pretending like nothing had ever been said, and she wasn't having that. Her curiosity was peaked.
His shoulders rose and fell in a weak shrug. "He's going through his thing; I'm going through mine." It was the best explanation he could offer.
"Wouldn't it be smarter to go through it together?" Seemed like a logical explanation to her, but sometimes it was easier for an outsider to see that than the ones involved. Still, the biggest mystery remained unsolved. The ultimate question that was going to crack this conversation wide open, and at the same time piece it all together was: "Sam, who do you think is back?" Ellen held her gaze steady to show that she wasn't backing down until he told her everything, and the sooner the better. She had spotted Dean and his latest two minute date loitering just outside the door. If Sam intended this to be for their ears only, he better crank it out fast.
The corners of his mouth twitched slightly before his lips dipped down into a frown. "You're going to think I'm crazy," he muttered.
Yeah, probably. If it was this hard to say, it had to be a real whopper. But better he tell it to her than someone else. That was Ellen's philosophy. "Why don't you let me decide that?" Because she was getting tired of dancing around the grand finale.
"My dad." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he looked up to gauge her reaction. No longer were his eyes transfixed on the counter. But she surprisingly hadn't jumped in yet to tell him he must've been imagining things or was flat out losing his mind, so he started in with what exactly he'd seen ... sort of.
"At first, he only appeared in my dreams. But with a lot of other stuff too, you know? So I didn't think much of it. Dreams are funny. That's what everyone always says. But then I started seeing him when I was awake. He's never said anything, never let me get close enough to reach out and touch him to see if he's real. But he is there ... I think." Whether he was or wasn't there was really the question, because Sam would vouch that he was. As for everyone else ... they'd probably just look at him like he was nuts. Although one important detail that couldn't be overlooked was how selective Dad was with who he presented himself to. "No one else seems to be able to see him, which doesn't make any sense. I thought maybe he wanted me to do something, so I followed him once, but it was a dead end. I don't know why he'd come to me anyway. I wouldn't exactly be his first choice." Dean would. That was a given. Unless this was some sort of unfinished business. He and Dad hadn't ever really gotten the chance to work it all out. They'd run out of time. But that wasn't the primary reason he was chasing after shadows of the past ...
"Could be a trick," Ellen suggested. The whole thing just sounded way too strangely convenient to be real. Something was screwing with Sam, or maybe he was more tripped out from the Challenge than anyone realized. Whichever be the case, she felt fairly certain that John Winchester wasn't still roaming around this Earth. Either way, she could see why he hadn't mentioned it to Dean.
"Or it could be him, right? After the devil's gate was closed, who knows where he went? Maybe he didn't go anywhere." He'd just disappeared in this ball of bright light, which Sam, being the faith-clinging optimist that he was, assumed meant he'd transcended to a better place, but what if that wasn't true? What if he was free from Hell, but still around? Maybe he hadn't remembered everything at first, or maybe he couldn't find them. Who knows what was really going on? But it could really be their father. He'd always defied the odds before. Who's to say he wasn't doing it again?
She could tell he was getting way too attached to the idea, so she cut him off right there. "Sam, I get that you boys have had a rough couple of weeks, and it's possible that this could all mean something. I'll look into it for you: see if I can find out anything. But don't get your hopes up. John's been gone a long time. Sometimes you have to let a person go, no matter how much it hurts." Ellen knew all too well what it was like to miss a person so desperately that sometimes you thought you saw them from time to time, but this was different. Sam was convinced he was seeing his daddy, and she knew a part of the reason why it was happening now was because of his recent trauma: his and Dean's. John's boys were looking for a miracle, each in their own way. His youngest was seeing ghosts that weren't there. Chasing after a shadow. Or if something was really lurking around, they'd get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, he needed to keep a realistic outlook on the situation.
Sam knew better. It wasn't like him to grasp at a whole lot of nothing and hope it turned into something tangible. But he wanted it to be real this time. He wanted it so badly. Why? It should've been obvious. "It's just ... Dean sure could use him right now. If Dad were here, he'd know what to do." He just felt so useless. Things had gotten way out of control. No matter how much he and the old man had argued, their family hadn't ever been this screwed up. Not all at once. Not Dean.
So she'd been right. He was beating himself up because of the condition Dean was in, and because of that guilt, he'd begun seeing things. Nothing that a few reassuring words and a strong drink couldn't fix. He didn't seem that out of it. There was also the possibility that the whole psychic thing could be coming into play right about now. Something else could be going on here that Sam wasn't aware of or know how to explain, so this was his interpretation. But the bottom line was this ... "Your brother's going to be just fine, because he's got you looking out for him." A brief pause followed, as she gave a small smile. "We're all in your corner. Just hang in there. It will get easier."
He returned the smile, although it was clear he still had his doubts. Illusion or no illusion ... either way it was bad. He was hallucinating, or Dad was there. Or maybe it wasn't Dad. It was something else. The wheels were wildly spinning in his head, but all he said in return was, "Thanks."
"Anytime." She shot a casual glance over to an empty glass on the bar before she cut her eyes back to Sam. "How about a drink? On the house." That's what most people came here for. Might as well attempt to lighten the mood. Once he accepted, she busied herself with pouring him a glass of whiskey ( she'd decided they needed something stronger than beer this time around ), then slid it over to him once it was filled to the rim. "Drink up, sweetie."