Title; A Winter Rose
Spoilers/Warnings; Completely AU.
Summary; Dean Winchester had always wondered about the Novak family that had been banished from the town of Winter a hundred years ago, who lived in that strange Gothic house on the mountain. Finally, after years of wondering, he goes to investigate.
Authors Notes; This will be a story about five to seven chapters in length.
A Winter Rose
Dean had always wondered about the strange house on top of the small mountain in the distance. Whenever he went to school or looked out his bedroom window, he could see it. One time, he even gathered up the courage to ask his mother about it, but she just told him that some bad people who did some bad stuff lived up there and were never allowed to leave, and then she said to never ask anyone about it ever again. And that was that.
But Dean could never stop thinking about it. Sometimes, he even wrote stories about what he thought the Novak family must have done. He made up names for them and sometimes they featured as the good guys who'd been mistaken for bad guys. He'd never show anyone his stories, though. He didn't want to make people believe that he actually liked writing; they might ask him to write stories for them, and then what would he do? He didn't want to write because people told him to; he wrote because he found it fun.
Sometimes he wondered if the Novak family ever got bored up there. With the same scenery every day, the same people … it had to get boring, right?
Sam never showed any interest in it, not since he'd completed his research on it. Clearly the facts that had been given out on the Internet, and passed down as scary bedtimes stories was enough for him. He didn't exactly have a good imagination; it was either the cold, hard facts, or it was nothing at all.
Oh, and forget about asking his dad. John Winchester was exactly like Sam, only he didn't need research; he knew, deep down, that whatever the Novak family had done to get banished, they deserved it.
But … Dean never really quite believed that. He always wanted to know for sure. He didn't want to believe in what others told him; he wanted to know for himself. He needed to see things with his own eyes, and hear directly from the source.
Which was why, on July 2nd 1993, Dean accepted the dare from Jo Harvelle to walk straight into the Novak House and stay there overnight. What better way to get answers?
No one actually believed that any of the Novaks were still alive. There would have to be some kind of mass incest going on or witchcraft for any of them to still be breathing. Apparently that's what the Novaks got busted for; witchcraft. A lot of people said that if you were busted for witchcraft in Winter, you deserved everything that came your way. Actually, it was more like the town motto.
“I can't believe you're going to do this, Dean,” said Sam, shaking his head.
They stood out the front of the old Gothic house in all its old, crumbling glory. It had a rotting front porch, crumbling posts and pillars and brick foundation was starting to tip sideways so that the black chicken spinner on the top pointed toward the town.
“You know me,” said Dean with a cocky grin, even as his heart hammered nervously in his chest. His notebook in his backpack, along with some leftover food from dinner last night and a camera to record everything, seemed to weigh a lot heavier than usual. “I can't resist a good challenge. Besides, if I want to at least have a chance with Jo, I can't exactly chicken out.”
Sam shook his head again. “Mom and Dad will kill you if they find out what you're doing.”
“As long as you don't tell them, they'll remain as oblivious as always,” said Dean, shrugging. “Besides, nothing is going to happen; the Novaks are probably already dead, anyway. At most, all I'll find is a couple of crumbling bones in the basement.”
Sam cringed. “Gross, Dean.”
“Alright, Dean!” Jo called, her blond hair flying as she jogged to a stop in front of Dean, her face alight with humour. “Time to go in. It's 7pm, just like we planned.”
“I'll make sure Mom and Dad know that you're spending the night at Ash's,” said Sam. He still wore the bitch-face, so that Dean wouldn't forget just how pissed off he was at the stupid dare of Jo's.
“Make sure you record everything,” said Jo. “I want to know what the inside of that house looks like.”
Dean only just managed to hear Sam say, “I don't know why you bother with her,” as Jo grabbed him by the wrist and tugged him off with a little bit too much enthusiasm. Her pincer-like grip was probably going to give Dean a bruise. Once they reached the tall, black iron gates, she stepped behind him and gave him a firm shove in the back.
“Get going,” said Jo. “You can't leave the house until sunrise.”
Dean felt a flare of irritation. “I know what the dare was, Jo. You don't have to keep reminding me every five fucking minutes.”
She shrugged. “Then what are you waiting for? Scared?”
Why did he even bother with Jo again? Oh, right. She had legs that went on for days, a pretty face and a great rack for a sixteen year old, but still … “Fine,” he huffed, pushing open the gates and stepping through, slamming them shut firmly behind him. “I'm going. Satisfied?”
“Very,” said Jo.
“Be careful,” said Sam, looking as worried as he sounded. “Call if you need help, understand? Mom says I can be out until eight tonight.”
Mom always allowed Sam to be out just a bit later than the rest of the kids his age. At 10, Sam showed more maturity than some people did at 17.
“Will do, Sammy.”
Then Dean turned and walked up the narrow brick walkway to the front porch of the house, feeling a little lost in the garden maze. The topiaries loomed down over him, some of them cut to look like monsters. Whoever had cut them had a wicked sense of humour. It was probably a way to chase trespassers from the house.
Stepping up on the porch, barely able to see Sam and Jo anymore, Dean pulled out the camera and turned it on.
“Well,” said Dean, trying to hide the tremor in his voice because, fuck, his peers would see this. It wouldn't do well for his reputation if he sounded like he was about to piss himself from fear. “Here I am in front of the famed Novak house. The garden was creepy as fuck; the gardener sure has a thing for creating demonic-looking topiaries.
“Anyway, I just want to let you guys know the dare I was given, just so we're all up to speed before I go inside. Jo Harvelle dared me to spend the night in the Novak house from 7pm to 7am. I am to go through each part of the house and record what I see—there's extra tape in my bag, so don't worry about missing anything.
“Not sure if I'm going to be finding any ghosts, though. But let's go in and take a look.”
Turning around momentarily to give his future viewers a glimpse of the spooky garden, Dean climbed the rest of the stairs, walked the ten paces to the front door and opened it. As soon as the heavy door with the brass locker swung shut behind him, Dean focused his attention on trying to keep the camera steady. He didn't want to catch something freaky like a ghost appearing, only to find that his camera had been wobbling too much to pick anything up. If he wanted to have a decent chance with Jo, he needed to do this right.
The hallway was large; Dean's whole living room could fit in there. The white and black chequered floor ran right down into a dome like room with a dusty chandelier hanging, swaying lightly in the soft breeze, from the roof. The window had been covered with purple hangings that blocked out all the remaining daylight. There were many doors leading off of the hallway, but Dean wasn't brave enough to check them out yet. He figured he would venture into them when he'd checked out the main parts of the house.
The house had a Gothic theme to it. Everything was dark and spooky. The ceilings were high and had ornate carvings depicting what looked like a couple of angels burning at the stake while a bunch of demons roared in approval. After training the camera on the carvings for ten seconds, moving back and forth slowly to get all of it in the shot, Dean gulped and continued on, feeling more than a little disturbed.
He found the staircase in the middle of the living room full with black leather chairs and exotic furniture. One part of the stairs went up further, the other section went down into what must be the basement.
“I'll save the basement for midnight, guys,” said Dean. By talking into the camera, he felt safer. Comforted by the fact that people would actually hear what he had to say. He could fool himself into thinking there were people with him. “Don't want to run out of scares too early.”
He didn't want to admit that he was scared already. Not even to himself. Being alone in a place like this kind of made him wish he was back at home, safe in his bed, where this house and all its spookiness was just the Gothic house on the mountain that had sparked his curiosity.
Pull it together, Winchester, Dean thought to himself. You've got a reputation to uphold. Who'd want to be seen with you if you chicken out now?
A vase dropped from the wooden shelf just in the periphery of his vision. He jumped, gasping in a sharp breath, and whipped around. Nothing was there. Heart pounding wildly, Dean kept his eyes on the shattered remains of the vase as though waiting for them to do something. Finally, he conceded that all was well—the shelf was probably too old to carry that vase any longer, yeah, that had to be it—and started to climb the stairs.
“Can't wait to see what's upstairs,” Dean said, unsure of why he was whispering. He looked behind him, fearful that something might follow him. Nothing was there. “Maybe there's some more cobwebs and self-shattering vases.”
There was a small hallway—approximately ten feet—which ended at a large wooden door that had an arched top. The brass handle was so old it looked rusted. When Dean grabbed it, taking a deep breath to steady himself, it felt rough in his hand. He twisted it, feeling the old lock creak, and then pushed it open.
For a moment, all he could see was darkness.
“Well, guys, looks like there's nothing in here—”
Letting out a hoarse shout of surprise, Dean stumbled back and dropped the camera. Right there, just inside the door, was a man.
The man had the brightest blue eyes that Dean had ever seen; they practically shone in the darkness. His skin was pale and his black hair hung in strands over his face like he'd never seen a comb before. He was shaking, looking at Dean like a trapped animal who had long accepted its fate of dying or becoming injured.
The saying “they are more scared of you than you are of them” popped into Dean's mind. Considering the man wasn't trying to attack Dean and kept the door between them like a kind of barrier, Dean thought he might be able to talk to him.
“Hello?” he whispered, scared that if he talked any louder, he might scare the man off. He took a hesitant step forward but drew back when the man flinched. “I'm not here to hurt you. I'm not here to hurt you. I'm a … friend.”
Dean bent down slowly, picking up the camera. Luckily, it wasn't broken and still recorded. He wondered briefly if he'd managed to get the man in the shot before he'd dropped the camera.
“Can you speak English?” Dean asked, pressing the camera to his chest, keeping the lense on the man. Slowly, the man nodded, tilting his head curiously at Dean. “My name is Dean Winchester. Can you tell me your name?”
It took a few moments, but the man finally replied in a soft voice, “Castiel. Castiel Novak.”
Dean nodded. He wondered what he was doing, getting on a first name basis with a Novak. If word got out that Dean had actually spoken to a member of the banished and hated family—if word got out to his parents—he would be shamed. Possibly thrown out. Supposedly it brought bad luck on a town if you spoke to those in banishment without express permission to do so. Well, he'd already fucked up, so he had no reason not to continue.
“Can I come closer?” Castiel gasped and drew back. “I'm not going to hurt you.”
“I have no reason to believe anything you tell me,” said Castiel logically. “Everything I have ever been told has been a lie. Did you know that lies hurt?”
Swallowing, Dean nodded. “I do.”
Castiel's eyes narrowed critically. “I do not think that you do. A lot of people have a lasting trauma on their soul when they have been lied to. Oh, none of those petty white lies, but real, actual lies. Promises broken, families torn apart.”
His eyes drifted down to the camera.
“Turn that machine off. I know what you are doing. I know my face is playing on that screen. As is my home.” For someone who was afraid of Dean coming any closer, Castiel had such a deep, powerful voice that had Dean obeying instantly. “Drop it.”
Dean dropped the camera.
“I know that your friends are waiting outside. I saw them as I watched you walk in,” said Castiel. “You have come here on a dare, have you not? Many people come here in the hopes that they will see something to tell their friends. Admittedly, none of them have made it further than the living room before they tuck tail and run.”
That probably shouldn't have sent a thrill of pride running through Dean, but it did.
“Look,” said Dean. “I'm sorry for coming into your home. I'm sorry for recording you. Castiel—can I call you Cas? Castiel is kind of a mouthful—you should know that I don't mean any harm. I know that you're scared, but I'm just a kid. What can a kid do?”
“When I was your age I could turn flowers into cups,” said Cas softly. “Children are capable of a lot of things, Dean Winchester, and harming people is certainly at the top of the list.”
Biting down the urge to tell Cas that he was fourteen years old and clearly not a child, Dean said, “But I can't do that sort of thing, can I? So there's no reason to hide from me.”
Cas appeared to think for a moment, sucking his bottom lip between his teeth in a manner that made him look genuinely vulnerable, and, with those big blue eyes, almost downright cute. You know, if Dean Winchester started thinking that men were cute.
“Okay,” said Cas, and pushed open the door. “Okay.”
He pushed the door open and stepped out from behind it, testing each footstep slowly, ready to jump back to his hiding spot at moments notice. Dean didn't move, waiting for Cas to come to him. Dean wished, then, that he'd paid more attention to the Novak stories. He wished he knew all of their names and their history, just so he could know what had happened to Castiel Novak. But he had the real deal right there in front of him. Would it be too mean of him to ask?
Castiel wore black dress pants that were torn at the bottom, a faded white button-up shirt and a black coat that went all the way down to his knees and had a few buttons loose. His feet were bare and he had a fair amount of stubble forming on his cheeks and chin.
There was a fair chance that Cas was actually older than Dean, but his too-youthful appearance made him look way younger.
Dean smiled warmly at Cas when they were finally face to face. “Nice to meet you, Cas.”
Cas tilted his head. “What?”
“Never mind.” Dean sighed.
At least he felt a little safer in this creepy house.
To Be Continued. . .