Summary: Six months after "Swan Song" Dean has tried to settle into an Average Joe life as best as he can. But thanks to an unwelcome Archangel with a request for him, Dean is finding himself being thrown back into the supernatural fold again against his will.
Disclaimer: Still not Kripke.
He remembered a pain in his side. A sharp burst that spread throughout him. He remembered not feeling scared or angry by it but sad. Profoundly sad. He remembered thinking, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you."
And then the blackness came.
What he did not remember was the voice that found him in the darkness. "Wake up, Gabriel," it said. "Wake up. Your work is not done. My word needs to be delivered." He felt its warm breath, the breath of life, on his cheek. "And know this, out of all of them, you understood me best."
He failed to remember this not because he was incapable. He failed to remember because he did not want to.
He woke up in the back pew of The Church of the Resurrection crying. He could not remember what had made him cry only that as hard as he tried, he could not stop.
Pastor Francis was in the front of the church, sweeping the floor when he heard the crying. He looked up, startled because he was sure that he had locked the entrance doors. "Excuse me." He leaned the broom against a pew and started towards the stranger. "How did you get in? I could have-"
The stranger lifted his gaze at the Pastor. Tears had made his eyes raw red and swollen. He looked utterly helpless, like a broken child.
Pastor halted in his steps. "Son, why are you crying?"
Wiping his eyes with the edges of his sleeve, the stranger shrugged his shoulders. "I-I don't know."
"You don't know?" Pastor sunk to his knees next to the stranger. He placed a gentle hand on the man's leg. "How can you not know? Son, please, tell me, who are you?"
The stranger shrugged again. "I don't know. I can't remember." He leaned back in the pew, covering his face with his hands. The front of his jacket fell open baring his shirt underneath and the dried brown stain that dyed it.
Pastor recognized the stain. Blood. He grabbed the edge of the shirt and tugged it taut. There was a hole in the center of the stain. But where the skin peeked through the slit, there was no damage to be found. Only perfectly smooth clean flesh. He looked at the stranger with confusion. Who are you?
Pastor called the police. They came and took the stranger to the station. He followed them in his beat up blue Beetle. Something told him to look after the man. He did not know why only that the stranger needed him. Fingerprints and mug shots were taken and scanned in the computer. No match was found. Missing person reports were searched. Anyone fitting the description of a thirty something, white male of medium height and build with hazel eyes and brown hair was combed through and compared to the stranger. Again, nothing matched. Nothing came close.
Frustrated, they interrogated him. But the more the police broiled him under the lights hoping that this was a game on the man's part, the more he claimed his innocence.
"No wallet, no phone, nothing in the computer, nothing on the Internet" said Detective Kenner as he leaned towards the stranger's face. "You are a ghost. Which in this day in age, is impossible." He grabbed the stranger's shirt and pulled the stain up to the man's face, almost ripping the fabric. "Especially when you are going around town in bloody clothing." He yanked the shirt back down and let it go. "If this is a prank and I find out that it is, you are going to be-"
"Enough, Matthew," said Pastor, who had been sitting across from the stranger in the small holding room. He had been watching over the man the whole time hoping that by some miracle the mystery of the stranger would crack. Pastor got up and went around the table to the man. He placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze. "Clearly, he doesn't know anything."
Kenner glared down at the stranger, who was trying his hardest not look back. The detective snorted in disgust. There was something off about the man that Kenner could not put his finger on. He looked up at Pastor and crooked his finger at him. "Can I speak with you outside?"
The two stepped out in the hallway. Kenner closed the door and turned to Pastor. "What are you doing, Frank?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're babysitting this guy. You should be back home at the church getting ready for services tomorrow. We can handle this one without you."
Pastor shook his head. "Clearly, you can't. You're treating him like he has done something wrong."
"He has done something wrong."
Kenner frowned and threw a glance back at the room. "I don't know. But I do know that there is something not right about him."
Pastor sighed and rolled his eyes. He started back for the door when Kenner grabbed him by the arm. The two men looked at Kenner's heavy grip. The detective knew he had done something amiss and let go, lifting his hands in peace. He was only trying to help out his friend.
"Frank, what are you going to do?"
"I'm taking him back with me. I have that room upstairs."
"No, Frank." He leaned against the wall and thumped his head on the cement in frustration. "Did you already forget-"
Kenner frowned. "Again, no. You still have a scar above your right eyebrow because the last little angel you took in tried to rob you and stabbed you with a steak knife."
Silent for a moment, Pastor relived that memory in his mind. His heart began to pound in fear. The knife had been small but sharp. Its blade sunk into his flesh, scraping his skull. There was so much blood that his face was a mask of red. Pastor's fingers wandered up to the scar that laid raised against his wrinkled skin. He brushed the front of his silver hair down trying to cover the mark. He readjusted his wire framed glasses trying to bring his mind back into focus in the here and now. "Don't think I have forgotten about that, Matt. But the truth remains, that was one individual. The person in that room there, is another. And he needs me."
He walked around Kenner and stuck his head in the room. The stranger had his arms crossed on the table and his face buried in them. He looked like he was praying. Pastor knocked on the door, "Come on, Eastwood, let's go."
The stranger raised his head. His face twisted in confusion at the name. "Eastwood?"
Pastor smiled a lopsided grin. "You know, as in 'The Man With No Name.' Can't call you by 'that guy' forever, can I?" He snapped the fingers, "Grab your jacket. We're leaving."
Eastwood rose from his seat and took his jacket from the back of his chair. He tossed it on and zipped it up, hiding the blood stain. He made his way towards the door when Kenner stepped into the room in front of Pastor. The detective towered over Eastwood by half a foot. He shoved a big, meaty hand into Eastwood's chest. His fingers spread out like enormous spider legs, holding tightly onto the man.
Leaning down, Kenner glared straight into Eastwood's eyes. There was no love in his scowl. "I want you to know that Pastor Francis is a good friend of mine. A very good friend. And if anything happens to him by you-"
"You'll hunt me down and shoot me like the dog I am," finished Eastwood with a frown. "I know."
Kenner tried to smile. It came off more as a snarl. "Just so we understand each other."
Pastor grabbed Kenner's hand and shoved it down off the man. "Knock it off, Matt." Putting an arm around Eastwood, he guided him out of the room and through the station.
The next stop Pastor Francis took Eastwood to was the Hospital of Saint Raphael. The place was run by the Catholic church and Pastor knew the head of the hospital. He was able to beg and plea for doctors to give Eastwood the once over on their dime. If Eastwood could not remember who he was, perhaps there was something wrong with his brain. An injury that could be hidden away deep beneath the bone. The hospital took pity on the Eastwood. Scans were done of his head but nothing was found. He had a perfectly functioning brain that lit up in all of the right places when stimulated. The only thing askew was that part of his ventral medial prefrontal cortex remained active even when Eastwood was being completely passive in thought. Still, that had nothing to do with memory and they dismissed it as being a fluke. What the doctors did not know was if they had lowered the scan to his ribs, they would have seen the markings on his bones that had hid him from his siblings for so long. But they did not.
They told Eastwood and Pastor that what he most likely had was retrograde amnesia even though the tests came out clean. Most likely it was due to emotional trauma and not physical.
"Is complete amnesia even possible?" asked Eastwood as he sat on the edge of the hospital bed in nothing but his socks, boxers and a rather embarrassing too small dressing gown.
"Technically, anything is possible," said the doctor. He had a fresh from school face and was trying his hardest to look like an authority figure. He was failing miserably. He tapped on the laptop he had placed on the rolling bed table. "But probability? Not really. And, yet, here you are. Tah Dah!"
Pastor, who had been sitting next to Eastwood on a stool, tried to get a peek at the screen. "So, what should he do?"
The doctor shut the laptop. "My suggestion? Go home. With amnesia there isn't any pill you can swallow to cure it. All you can do is hope that your memories will come back on their own. Most times they do. Sometimes in fragments. Others in whole waves." He picked up the computer and tucked it under his arm. "Good luck."
He walked out of the room.
Eastwood turned to Pastor with his jaw dropped. He could not believe that snot nosed kid in a white lab coat. "Good luck? What sort of bed side manner is that?"
Pastor shrugged. "These days? A typical one."
Despite protesting that the good Samaritan had done enough already, Eastwood went home with Pastor Francis. In the end, Pastor argued that since Eastwood could not even remember his own name let alone where he was from, he had no one else to turn to for help. Pastor did not mean to come across as hurtful when he said this but Eastwood's eyes still went dim and he sank into the bed of the guestroom.
"Why are you doing all of this?"
Pastor pointed to himself, "Man of the cloth, responsibility comes with the job description." He smiled trying to hide the fact that he had partially lied. Yes, he felt that as a pastor he had to do something. But the main truth was that he had never seen anyone cry like the way Eastwood cried back at the church. And the way the stranger simply appeared out of no where even when the doors were locked and him having a stab wound in the shirt but none on the flesh, unsettled Pastor. He wanted an answer. He thought of what Kenner had said. About how he found Eastwood off. Pastor did not feel the same. Eastwood was not a bad omen. He was sure of it. But what the stranger was, only time would reveal that.
Months had past.
Pastor had talked to the his friend, Father Gallagher, who headed St. Anthony's, a Catholic church that was down two blocks from the Methodist church. It was the only Catholic church in town but it had something no one else had, a homeless shelter that also doubled as a soup kitchen. Pastor was able to convince Father to give Eastwood a job despite the man not having a social security number or a legal name.
"He at least has to have a first name, Pastor, before I sign off on this."
Pastor, Eastwood and Father were sitting in the church's office. Pastor studied Eastwood who looked embarrassed that he was still halfway nameless.
"'Jack'," said Pastor. "Put down 'Jack'."
"Why 'Jack'?" asked Eastwood.
"Because since no one in this room knows your history, we really don't know jack."
Father groaned, pinching his nose,"Hoo boy, that was bad."
Eastwood smiled widely. "I like it!" He had just discovered that he adored awful puns. "We are going to use that."
He eagerly signed off on the paperwork with his new name; Jack Eastwood.
Soon after, Jack was working at the shelter and the soup kitchen. In the mornings and afternoons, he made sure that the food was ready for the hungry crowds that came through. At night, he assigned rooms to those who were seeking beds. The work was hard. Sometimes Jack loathed that he had to turn away some families due to lack of beds. But he was happy. As happy as someone with no memories of his past could be. Though like the doctor said, some fragments did made their way home to him.
Once he was pouring soup for a young girl in a thread bare pink parka. She looked at him with her eyes that were too large for her thin face and Jack flashed on a memory. An olive skinned girl with the prettiest almond shaped green eyes he had ever seen stared back at him. She looked scared and in awe. Jack remembered telling her that she was with child.
Am I doctor? he thought. The girl was not dressed in Western clothing. Maybe I am one of those Doctors without Borders guys. He imagined himself in scrubs. Nah.
Another time he was helping a child of one of the few families that stayed at the shelter with his homework. As he leaned over the boy showing him that he had the angle measurements wrong, Jack flashed on himself in a cave leaning over a middle aged man in red who smelled of spices. He was whispering into the man's ear and the man in returned wrote down everything Jack was saying. Jack remembered that the man used a stylus rather than a pen and wrote on what appeared to be homemade parchment rather than ruled paper.
What does that even mean? Jack stood up and stepped back from the boy he was tutoring. He hit his own head with the butt of his hand. Why couldn't I flash on me doing something normal? Like washing my car or cooking dinner. I'd even settle on one of me vegged out on the couch watching Jeopardy. He frowned. Who the hell am I?
"I think I know who you are," said Nobuko.
Jack walked into the shelter's kitchen from the outside. He was carrying an industrial sized garbage can that he had moments before emptied in the dumpster in the back with great difficulty. Even with the can unloaded, carrying it around was an awkward task that was in danger of making him trip. He kicked the door closed behind him, leaving the cold Autumn air behind. Nobuko waddled over and locked it. She leaned against the door, resting her back. Her pregnancy was beating up her little body. Each day she swore the balance of belly to girl was tipping over into the belly's favor.
Jack settled the garbage can back in the corner and washed his hands. Nobuko followed him and leaned against the counter top. "What if you are a Peace Corp volunteer? It would settle right with the flashbacks you've had. Here, let me see your pad."
Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, Jack pulled out a small pad of paper. He carried it around in case a memory came to him and he needed to write it down. So far, there had been four flashes.
Pushing her Buddy Holly style glasses up on her head like a headband, Nobuko riffled through the papers. "Yeah, it makes sense. Except for the one you had about the farm girl. But maybe you were on vacation then."
Jack doubted that. "I told her she had to take up arms and fight for her country. What sort of Peace Corp volunteer tells that to anyone? Even one that is on vacation. I thought all they did was help build schools and dig wells."
The young girl closed the pad and sighed. That had been her best guess in weeks. She handed the pad back to Jack who took it and slipped it in his pocket.
"Then I am busted. You still remain "Jack Eastwood: International Man of Mystery."
"Awesome," sneered Jack as he took a fun sized Snickers bar from his shirt pocket. He ripped off the wrapper and popped the whole thing in his mouth. This was another thing he had discovered about himself in the last few months. He had a monster of a sweet tooth. There were times where he would go to the the local grocery story buy a couple of bags of candy, plant himself at one of the shelter's dining room tables and eat every last scrap of sweet. Three, four and sometimes even five pounds he could put away in one sitting. The upside to this was another discovery he had made about himself. He had the metabolism of an army of hummingbirds. Because no matter how much sugary junk food he put away, he never gained a pound.
He dug into his pocket again and pulled out another candy bar. He tore into that one. "Kiddo, I appreciate what you are doing but-" he swallowed the bite in his mouth. "-give it a rest. My memories will come when they come."
Nobuko was not satisfied with this. "What if they never come back completely?"
Jack shrugged. He remembered himself crying in the church all of those months ago. "Maybe it's for the best. I'd hate to find out that I am nothing more than some dick who ran away from everything because life became too complicated and he couldn't handle it." He wandered over to the kitchen radio. It was set to a station that was playing The Supremes' "You keep me hangin' on." But at the moment Ross' voice was coming across as more static than song. He fiddled with the knobs. "Besides, I am happy here. And starting next week, I am apprenticing at Sal's garage." He grinned. "I'm going to be a mechanic!"
He settled on a station that was playing The Rolling Stones', "Gimme Shelter." He stepped back and took in the music. It was one of his favorite songs. "Nobuko, my girl, life is good. I am going to enjoy this."
Nobuko frowned. "But what if someone is out there looking for you? What if right now your sister or brother is scouring the Earth searching for you?"
Jack sighed. He knew the girl meant well but these questions from her were becoming a tired daily routine. He understood that she was projecting herself on to him. She, herself, was originally from back west when she was knocked up by a friend of friend who was visiting from back east. Her old fashion Japanese family did not want to have anything to do with her after that. So, she called up her baby's father and he told her if she could make it to the East Coast, she could live with him and they would raise the baby together. She made it as far as Kansas when the boy called her on her cell and told her that he had changed his mind. Now she was stuck in Middle America with no where to turn. That was until, Pastor Francis and Father Gallagher took pity on the teen-aged mother to be. She moved into Pastor's other guestroom and was given a job at the shelter as well. Jack took the girl under his wing and the two developed a brother and sister bond.
Still, she missed her family and wondered if they ever thought of her. Before all of this, she never thought she could have been so disposable.
Turning around and facing the girl, Jack placed his hands on her shoulders. The girl barely came up to his chest. "Kiddo, we've put my face in the papers and on the local news. No one has come for me. No one cares."
"I care." She tried to hug him but her belly got in the way. All she could manage was placing her head on his chest with her arms flopping around him in a clumsy fashion. "Stupid belly."
Jack laughed at her attempt. He handed her a knife and a pair of carrots. "Come on, the lunch rush is only two hours away. We need to start chopping or else we are going to have a repeat of yesterday."
She took the knife and the carrots. "What if we do an online video of you?"
"No, seriously," she grabbed a cutting board and slapped it down on the counter. She began to chop away. "What if we aren't thinking big enough. If we can get a metric ton of hits on the video I am sure we can find someone who maybe knows someone who knows you. Hey, maybe we can turn you into a meme."
"What the hell is a meme?"
Pastor Francis stuck his head into the kitchen, "There you are. Guys, can I see you in the dining hall for a moment. I have something to show you."
Jack and Nobuko looked at each other. Jack shrugged. The two headed out of the kitchen. The dining hall was already starting to fill up with people. Most were hoping to beat the rush but some were there because they had nothing better to do. A few played the board games that laid about the hall. A few still were gathered around the television set watching talk shows. Pastor Francis was with Father Gallagher on the other side of the room. They had hung up a massive cork board on the wall. Construction paper letters ran across the top stating, "Angels of St. Anthony." Photographs of people covered everywhere else.
"What's this?" said Jack.
Father tapped the board, "We've decided to raise a board featuring the people who have worked in the shelter over the years. A sort of wall of fame, so to speak."
"Wow," Nobuko leaned in on a photograph of a young woman with pink hair. "All of these people came through here?"
"Yes," said Pastor, "And you are going up on the wall now too." He produced a pocket sized camera. "I want to get a picture of you, two, separately."
Nobuko tried to wrap her arms around herself. Her fingers barely made it around her belly. "Do we have to do it now when I am so big?"
Pastor smiled. "You look beautiful, Nobuko." He turned to Jack, who was intensely staring at one photograph at the board. "Jack, tell Nobuko that she looks beautiful."
Jack did not say anything.
Nobuko turned to him and nudged him in the arm, "What's a matter? Do you think I look like a snake that has swallowed an elephant?"
The man did not answer again. Instead, he removed the photo from the board and brought it closer to himself. His whole body was tensing up as if his emotions were swelling inside of him.
"Jack, what is it?" asked Pastor.
Jack held up the faded Polaroid to the man. The picture was of a family. Two young boys, one short and scrawny, the other taller with freckles and a serious stare, stood in front of their father, a stern faced man with tired eyes and a growing five o'clock shadow. All three looked like they had seen better days. Scrawled along the bottom of the photo in red ink was a date; September 20, 1992.
"Who are they?" asked Jack softly.
"Those are the Winchesters. John and his boys, Sam and Dean. Why do you ask?"
Jack stared at the photo, again. "I think I know them..."
Everyone fell quiet with the revelation. Lost in their own heads, no one noticed two men dressed in soiled, brown jackets staring at them from one of the front tables in the room. The taller man with a wild beard turned to his companion, whose hair was matted against his dirt stained forehead. He arched his eyebrows in question. The matted haired man nodded. For a moment, both of their eyes turned black before switching back to brown and green.
They both smiled.
Go to Chapter Five
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