Characters: Charlie Bradbury and Krissy Chambers
Warnings: the odd swear word and spoilers for Season Eight
Summary: Written for purplehrdwonder's prompt at spn_summergen: “Krissy and Charlie, the Winchesters' hunting proteges, run into each other on a job and compare notes about Sam and Dean. Oh, and maybe hunt a monster while they're at it.” I didn’t write much of a hunt, but rather a lead-in to strange times. Set in arguably the most haunted city in the US: Savannah, GA.
“Now! I want to die now!”
~The final words of Daniel Wilson, age eight, as recorded on his tombstone in Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, GA
To call Savannah’s weather ‘sultry’ was glamorizing it just a smidge, but not by much. Of course it was hot—sweat–running–down–your–legs hot—but the swelter was off-set by the perfume of magnolias, flickering twilight fireflies, and the local drinking holes encouraging evening strolls with plastic glasses of your favorite booze. ‘Go-cups’, they called them. Even the cars cruised by at a casual roll, unbothered. There was a certain laissez-faire, a peaceable vibe that defied the city’s tragic history.
Spanish moss drizzled from the trees and filtered the moonlight into a lacy, melancholy sort of thing, like an old woman's doilies. Beneath the branches, Colonial Park Cemetery may have been more melancholy yet, given its age and purpose and, well, the fact it was stuffed chockfull of dead people.
Krissy crept from a bank of shadows and hauled her backpack over the cemetery’s wrought iron fence, dropping it to the other side with a soft thump. The gate had been locked at dusk due to the occasional discovery of voodoo paraphernalia, according to the guy at the coffee shop this morning. He’d been clearly disappointed when Krissy didn’t widen her eyes with a coy “Really? No way!” at his little tidbit of Southern weird. Sure, as if.
He didn’t know the half of it.
After a quick glance for passers-by, Krissy followed suit and climbed over. She dragged her pack to a dark corner, by the lichen-covered grave marker of one “Mary Ann, wife of Moses Coburn.” Mary Ann had been all of thirty-five when she’d died, according to the dates. Even Krissy, not yet out of her teens, thought that thirty-five was way too young. Hell, her dad hadn’t even been fifty when he’d met his end.
Maybe that’s why she was skulking around a locked up cemetery. Looking for proof of the hereafter.
She half-wondered if her dad might be wandering the undefined space between the living and the dead, if he was watching out for her or if ghosts even had that sort of comprehension. She missed Dad. She missed their lives before monsters, but she couldn’t unring that bell. When she looked up at the moon-shaped hole in the sky, she knew there were otherworldly things that only came out at night and wantonly defied humanity, hungered and killed. She couldn’t be ignorant. Not anymore.
Shaking herself back to the task at hand, Krissy dug around in her pack for the EMF meter. Since she’d found herself in arguably the most haunted city in the continental United States, she might as well be looking for spirits. She’d never tackled an actual salt-n-burn before.
Krissy cupped her hand around the device’s amber glow as it sprung to noisy life. The needle squealed up the graph and shivers rolled up her spine. She knew relatively little about ghosts, being somewhat of a ‘bitey critters’ specialist, but apparently the cemetery was thick with phantasmal things. It didn’t surprise her, exactly, but still. Maybe she was a wee bit unprepared for this quantity of—
Krissy nearly jumped out of her skin before slamming the meter’s off-button.
A woman was standing just outside the fence, waving. Smiling and waving. At her.
“Help you?” Krissy said. She nudged her pack behind Mary Ann’s headstone.
“So, um, you looking for someone in particular?” The woman wasn’t much taller than Krissy, which still put her solidly in the ‘petite’ category. She was hugging a notebook to her chest with one hand and clutching a go-cup in the other. Her clothing was slightly mismatched and Krissy could tell she was a redhead, even under the color-leeching effects of the night.
Krissy slipped the EMF back into a pocket and felt fresh, disgusting sweat plaster her t-shirt to her back. "Don't find most of my dates post mortem, to be honest."
"Oh, that's not what I … I mean, there's more ghosts in this graveyard than Doctors at a Comic Con. So, if you're looking for a specific dead guy, you might be, you know, um ..."
Krissy felt her apprehension —justifiable apprehension, granted—rapidly escalating into something a hell of a lot surlier. She narrowed her eyes and tapped a foot.
The redhead’s smile wavered. “I’m Charlie. I hunt too,” she added quickly.
"You don't say? Well, I'm not a Ghost Facer so if that's what you're into …"
"No, those goofballs? Please. I mean like djinn-pwning salt-n-burners. Winchester-grade spectral ass-kickers."
"Wait, what? Winchester? Are you kidding me?" Krissy approached the fence. "Like Sam and Dean Winchester?"
The redhead winced, seemed to regret the slip-up, then simply sighed. “Yep. The Sam and Dean Winchester.”
"Mr. Bossy McBossypants and the Human Skyscraper?”
"Whoa, wait a minute. The Winchesters are my homeboys," Charlie said with a crooked grin. "Don't believe the yakkity-smack. Those books by that Carver Edlund douche canoe? Completely faux. Well, maybe not completely. There was that bit about Dean and the pink panties, and wow, the Apocalypse—all that stuff was pretty much spot on but—"
"Okay, okay, slow your roll. Let's start over.” Krissy shouldered her pack and clambered back over the fence. If they were going to stand there and shoot the bull, they’d best do it from the legal side of the cemetery. “I’m Krissy Chambers. I've worked with the Winchesters. And alright, so maybe they're not total jerkfaces. Dean just thinks he's the big brother I never needed."
"Yeah, he does tend to make with the mother-hen routine but he's a good guy. So's Sam. Rocks at getting stuff off the top shelf."
Krissy snickered and smiled in earnest. Something about this Charlie person felt genuine, a kindred spirit, no pun intended. Could’ve been her Princess Leia t-shirt and screaming orange sneakers. "So what brings you to Savannah? There a hunt I didn't hear about?"
"Nah, nothing specific. But check this.” Turned out what Krissy thought was a notebook was actually an iPad. Charlie flipped back the foldable cover and touched a few spots on-screen. "I'm kinda into the ectoplasmic."
"Vampires are my thing," Krissy said, leaning in.
“Blarg, vampires. Little too angsty for me. And then there’s all that business with the drinking blood?” Charlie shuddered dramatically. “Anywho, last night I took one of those walking ghost tours, zowie and all, but this is awesomesauce.” She poked one last virtual button and began viewing the cemetery through the camera in the iPad, angled so they both could see.
Watching the screen, Krissy saw iridescent orbs dancing like little paper lanterns in the branches of near-by trees. This was typical of how ghosts seemed to manifest in photography but to see it so clearly, live and in motion, was remarkable. It was almost pretty, if you didn’t think too hard on it.
“Made the app myself,” Charlie said softly, as though afraid to scare them off. “Ghosts groove a particular wavelength.” She shifted the camera and it refocused on the grounds beyond the trees.
Krissy shouldn’t have been astonished; where else would there be major hauntings but an old city that had survived two wars and a raging yellow fever outbreak in the early 1800’s? Even so, Colonial Park Cemetery was ghost soup. On the screen, vapors swirled between the pitted headstones, around the squat mausoleums. The spirit of a little boy leapfrogged smearily over a series of markers, trailing wisps of himself. Vaguely human shapes, made entirely of fog, wandered side by side in a lazy stroll past the brick wall that backed the cemetery, where the groundskeepers had carefully displayed broken gravestones. There was nothing malicious about any of it, and the chill that drifted off the cemetery might’ve been a welcomed respite from the weather, yet Krissy still couldn’t help but grimace when a ghost superimposed itself over a statue of a mourning angel and grinned over at them, its teeth black.
"I did not bring enough salt," Krissy mumbled.
"Honey, there's not enough salt in Georgia for this place.” Charlie flopped the cover over the screen and killed the glow.
“The past is not dead. It isn’t even past.”
Charlie figured the ghosts, corralled in place by the iron gate, weren’t going anywhere anytime soon so the hunters decided to wander the city a bit, along its plentiful cobblestone sidewalks. The streets were lonely, it being Sunday night and all. Even Abercorn, one of the main drags, was only sparsely trafficked.
“So, vampires,” Charlie said, apropos to nothing. They’d been sharing her go-cup of deceptively potent peach mint julep but Krissy didn’t much worry; she had a pocket full of ID’s that vouched for her drinking age.
“Yeah. I thought they’d been responsible for my dad’s death—" Charlie made a tiny sound of sympathy, almost getting out the word 'sorry' before Krissy waved it off and continued "—but I’m okay. Kinda have to be. At the time though, I wanted to rip a vampire, any vampire, a new neck stump. I wanted vengeance so bad it was chewing me up inside. Then the Winchesters figured out what’d really happened. Another hunter. Real nut job.” She let her fingers play over the necklace Dad had given her, the one she’d thought was lost until Sam had found it again, returned it. “I owe ‘em, but Dean can still be a big pain in the ass.”
Charlie grinned crookedly. “You have any brothers?”
“Nah, it was just me and my dad. Now, it’s just me.”
“Ditto. But I guess if I did, I’d be okay if he were like Dean. You know, throwing himself in front of busses to save me, grandmas, squirrels. Everyone.”
"Right,” Krissy said flatly. “He handcuffed me to a steering wheel once.”
Charlie blinked. "Sounds very 'Law and Order' meets '50 Shades'."
"'50 Shades?' Yeah, not so much. He didn't want me following him so he thought putting me under house arrest was a good plan. Or car arrest. Whatever."
“He probably just wanted you safe?"
"I could handle it. And I did, too. He can't always wrap people in cotton and keep them from getting hurt."
"Doesn't stop him from trying, though."
"Yeah, well, it would drive me ape-shit.” Krissy buried the comment behind a sip of mint julep.
Charlie paused, putting a hand on Krissy’s arm. "Sometimes you just gotta take care of the ones you care about; it's the way it is, you know? Not exactly a duty but a—dedication? A commitment to them. If we didn't watch out for each other, this world would be a really really heinous place and that would suck the most hind titty ever and ... then ..." Charlie’s monologue drifted to a clumsy stop, her cheeks gone scarlet.
Krissy really didn’t mean to pluck a nerve. Charlie managed to look stung and earnest, all at once, reminding Krissy of an Irish Setter they’d had when she was a kid. “Okay, I know Dean means well. He did say I should go to school, make a better life. And hell, if Sam could do Stanford, I can do the Savannah College of Art and Design. Got a tour of the campus tomorrow. Nothing says I can’t be an art director nine-to-five and kill monsters on the weekends, right?”
“That’s super awesome.” Charlie gave a little smile, pulling her hand away. “Sorry.”
“No, don’t be. We’re hunters. We have baggage. It comes with the job description.”
“Ha. No kidding.”
Krissy made what she hoped was a safe segue from the awkward family stories. “So where’re the Winchesters now? Seen them lately? We crossed paths a few weeks ago and Sam wasn’t looking so hot. That Garth guy won’t tell me anything and so help me God, if he brings out that sock puppet again—”
“I’ll help you choke him with it,” Charlie said with a serious nod. “But I, um, don’t know how much I should say. It’s Heaven-and-Hell flavored trouble.”
Krissy glared sidelong. “Hey, if this is you trying to wrap me in cotton—”
“That’s not it, believe me.” Charlie dragged out an exhale, pausing, tugging on a hank of hair. “Okay, fine. But you keep this top-secret or, er, else. See, there are these stone tablets—”
“Like the Ten Commandments?”
“No, more like the Three How-to Manuals, but same author. The first one gave us the recipe to defeat the Leviathan mob boss. Which we did; go, us! The second is supposed to seal up Hell and the third will lock the door on Heaven, stairway or no. Sam and Dean have this kid named Kevin working on translation because I guess the tablets are in angel speak and he's a prophet with a 4.0 GPA.”
“The prophet Kevin, seriously?”
“Hey, I didn’t write the CliffsNotes. Last I knew, the prophet Kevin and the brothers Winchester were half-way through the Hell tablet. Only one lucky person can tackle the series of trials on any given tablet, a la Hercules, and Sam ‘oopsed’ his way into it. Dean was not shiny about that.” Krissy rolled her eyes in understanding. “And it's mystically scrambling Sam's physiology. So he's a little woozy these days. Okay, a lot woozy."
"And you do not want the Leaning Tower of Sam Winchester falling over on you."
"No, you do not," Charlie said decisively. "Dean has got to keep half an eye on Sam, whether he digs it or not. But if they finish these trials? Lock the Hell level? That's a lot less evil in the world."
"So what happens to all the evil souls that're still cruising around Earth? Where do they go if Phineas and Ferb seal up the prison?
They walked together for a moment or three, mulling the question between them, looking up at the pinpricked wash of stars over the brownstone rooftops. No one had an answer.
“A-catch the wind, see us spin
Sail away, leave today
Way up high in the sky”
An hour and another round of go-cups later, Krissy and Charlie had roamed their way to one of Savannah’s famous public squares and talked through a dozen-ish topics of interest to hunter-type folk. They’d compared notes on monsters, from vetalas to bastard off-shoots of djinn. They’d debated the easiest way to get blood and ectoplasm stains out of leather, how to best to thwart nosy muggles, and what a load of crap Twilight was. They’d cackled over Carver Edlund’s pulp fiction porn on Charlie’s iPad and decided that yes, Sam’s family jewels were indeed, quite possibly, cursed.
It was long after midnight and comfortably calm. They sat together on a weathered but well-tended bench, just enjoying the shushing of the leaves, the hum of the streetlamps. Krissy knew she should be heading back to her car soon. Her eyelids were getting heavy and tomorrow was going to be another hot, busy day but this was nice, sitting here with Charlie. It was nice talking shop and not have it be deadly serious or ‘educational’. It was nice to feel like her future was turning into something manageable, something of her own design. God, she missed her dad and fuck Victor for what he did to her family, but Krissy was going to make this right. She was just stubborn enough to do it. After a good eight hours of sleep, that is.
“We came here on that ghost tour last night,” Charlie said, sounding just as muzzy as Krissy felt. “They call this the Hanging Square.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
“Because this is where they used to have Savannah’s gallows.”
“Well that’s kind of a bummer. Thanks for bringing the room down.”
“I aim to please,” Charlie grinned. “Over there. That’s where it was.”
Krissy worked up the energy to grunt something that might’ve passed for interest.
Charlie kept right on rambling. “Want to know something else cool?”
“Depends. Is it as happy-fun-times as what you just told me?”
“Nah, better. Look up in the trees.”
“Gee whiz. Leaves.”
“See how there’s no moss over the spot where the gallows was? They say that’s because moss won’t grow over ground where innocent blood was shed.”
“Huzzah for science,” Krissy deadpanned.
“Seriously, really look. It’s true.”
“Oh, fine.” Krissy squinted, tried to parse shapes from the shadows. And damned if Charlie wasn’t right. The only tree that didn’t drip with Spanish moss was the one that canopied the spot where the gallows had supposedly stood. Moss was dense everywhere else. A chill slithered across Krissy’s shoulders and she shuddered and laughed, in spite of herself. “You actually gave me the creeps.”
When Krissy looked over at Charlie, however, she wasn’t smiling. “I felt the cold too. I—I think there’s something going on.”
“Oh, come on—”
But Charlie was scrambling to whip out her iPad and activate the camera function. The screen flipped to life and Krissy caught her breath.
The plaza was full of white, translucent figures, humanoid, every one of them standing perfectly still, gazing upwards. To the heavens.
Krissy followed their stares. She had to.
At first it was just one flash, like a comet or a meteor, larger than a mere shooting star. Then there was another. And another. Things, falling from the sky in packets of flame.
Charlie pinched her fingers on the screen and the focus zoomed in tighter. One of the falling things was so close, Krissy could swear she heard the thud when it hit the earth.
“Space junk?” Krissy asked, though not least bit confident with that suggestion. Meteors didn’t move like that.
Charlie shook her head, eyes bright and fearful. “Wings,” she whispered. “I swear I saw wings.”
The phantom nearest Krissy, a tall rail-thin man in an archaic uniform, turned his head and asked in a voice like rustling paper, “Is there room for us now?”
Krissy swallowed, her heart climbing up her throat. “I—I’m sorry. I don’t know.”
He nodded slowly, forlornly, and canted his head back to the sky.