The next day they drove up to the nearest point on their map for the area that the creature hopefully lived in as early as was possible without causing an argument between Rebecca and Daniel (please God let it be a dragon that lives there and not a harpy or something shitty like that, Dean thought as he parked the Impala and put Angus in to the modified baby carrier).
They took turns carrying Angus (though Dean had him for the majority of the time as Angus got testy at being strapped to Rebecca for too long) as they traipsed through the forest around the base of Mount. St. Helen’s within the area that they’d defined yesterday. When one o’clock came and went, they were a little disheartened, but consoled themselves with the fact that it was a rather large area that they had to search through, even after double checking markers on the map with the information in the journals. When three o’clock rolled around, they were dejected and a little confused as to how they could have missed all the markers that they should have passed by now, and when it started to rain at almost five o’clock, they were just plain pissed off as they’d not found anything that even remotely fitted what they should have seen and had had to turn back before they had covered even half of the area that they had mapped out.
“Well that was a total fucking waste of time.” Dean exclaimed when they were all back in the Impala.
“Hey don’t blame me, we were both working off of my Grandma’s notes and they were all written down from repeated hearings of stories told to her by her Mom and Grandma. I told you a lot of the information that we’d be needing had probably been lost over time and in translating orally told information into written information.” Rebecca retorted as she strapped herself in to her seat and crossed her arms across her chest, glaring slightly at Dean.
“Yeah, well, doesn’t change the fact that today was basically a washout.”
“If you look at it positively, at least we know where the creature that we’re thinking and hoping is a dragon isn’t.”
“I guess. It’s just so freakin’ frustrating.” With that, Dean put the Impala into first gear and drove off, heading back to Cougar and Rebecca’s house, not looking forward to the continued cool reception he’d be receiving from Daniel. In fact he was pretty certain that it’d be pretty damned frosty by now, what with borrowing his wife for researching her Grandma’s ramblings and going off with her for an entire day at the drop of the hat and coming back from said day trip with the knowledge that he’ll have to ‘borrow’ her again for at least another days trip out to a remote area.
Great, just what I need, a jealous husband who has no idea that I have no interest in his wife other than the information she has and who could probably take me if his muscle mass is anything to go by. Just what I fucking need.
After dinner and the continuously non-hostile but no where near friendly attitude from Daniel, Dean was all too pleased to get back to the study and go over the journals and their notes again, checking and rechecking the marks that they’d made on various maps to compare old place names with current locations and all the hints and clues scattered throughout the recollections.
At almost ten o’clock, Rebecca walked in and told Dean that she’d got about half an hour that she could help him in, but it’d probably be best all around if he went back to his motel room very soon to sleep as that’s what she’d be doing soon anyway, today having been more tiring than she’d expected.
They agreed to Dean coming over again tomorrow at about ten thirty to try and work out where they’d gone wrong and Dean left with a couple of the photocopies of the maps and their notes to continue looking over tonight, frustrated that they’d failed after all the effort that they’d already put in.
After almost a further five hours of re-reading the journals and double checking maps and reference points, Rebecca suddenly jumped up with a big assed grin on her face.
“I’ve done it!” She exclaimed.
“Done what?” Dean asked.
“Worked out where we went wrong. See, when I photocopied the map, I missed of the compass in the corner, so I couldn’t tell where North was, so when we were plotting all the reference points, I was plotting them in the wrong place. See, if you take what we dug out of the journals and draw them like this,” with that, Rebecca drew the general outline on a fresh map with the Northings marked on it clearly, “you get the right area, which is north east of Mount. St. Helens’, not west of it.” She told Dean.
“Well would you look at that!” Dean remarked.
“At least we know our research wasn’t wrong, just your photocopying skills and my drawing skills.” Dean continued with.
“Yeah, and now we know where we should go and look tomorrow.” Rebecca said, excitement evident in her eyes.
The next day couldn’t come soon enough. They’d agreed to meet at Rebecca’s as early as they could both manage, and Dean knew that it’d be a long day, which was why he was trying to get a decent night’s sleep, but between the feeding and cleaning of Angus and the excitement that was thrumming through him, he found it difficult to get more than half an hours continuous sleep.
The second that it was early enough to get Angus and himself in to the Impala and on the road to meet Rebecca, Dean was all over it. It didn’t matter that he had to go really slowly or take the long and scenic route to make sure he didn’t get there so ridiculously early that Leanne hadn’t been picked up by her Aunt yet, and thus give Daniel another reason to be pissed at him, because Dean just knew that today he’d be doing the right thing, giving Angus the life he should have always had, and also the prospect of potentially meeting a real life, adult dragon who wasn’t fighting for their life was making him as giddy as a school kid on the way to a school trip to a chocolate factory.
When Dean pulled up, it was to see Rebecca casually leaning on the door frame with a backpack at her feet. When she noticed the Impala she called something into the house, closed the door behind her and walked out to the sidewalk, ready to hop into the Impala and get on the road.
“Excited?” Dean asked as he drove away from Rebecca’s house and out of town.
“Of course! Now I know that the map we’ve got is right, we’re gonna be meeting a real life, honest to god dragon!” She exclaimed. “Not that Angus isn’t that, it’s just that he’s so tiny it’s hard to believe sometimes.” She hurried to add, as if Angus could understand her and would take offence to the implication that he wasn’t a real dragon.
They had been walking for a couple of hours and the contraption that Dean carried Angus in was proving to be more comfortable than he’d thought it would be, when the earth shook.
Thinking for a moment that the volcano that was Mount. St. Helen’s was thinking of erupting, Dean could be forgiven for momentarily panicking, though when he found out a bit later just what had caused the gut wrenching, earth shaking shudder, he was still slightly panicked.
A few minutes later the trees and bushes parted to show what should have been an empty clearing. Instead, it was full.
Full of the body of an adult dragon that is.
It would seem that they hadn’t found the dragon that Rebecca’s family had known about for generations, but that it had found them.
More than a little nervous to find themselves looking up at such a powerful and, well, huge creature such as the dragon in front of them caused both Dean and Rebecca to momentarily be reminded of their own mortality and worry about becoming lunch for it.
“Humanss, why do you carry young of my sspeciess with you?” Asked the dragon in a deep and slightly hissing voice.
“Meep.” Rebecca whimpered.
“I found Angus, the young one next to its mother who was dead as well as its brothers and sisters who were also dead. I have looked after it since then, doing my best to keep it healthy and happy. All the while I’ve been trying to find one of your species, a dragon, to look after it as I know I’m not the best qualified for the job.” Dean replied, unsure of where the courage to talk so much in front of something as scary as this full grown dragon who easily dwarfed Angus’ Mom, had come from.
“You protected the youngling?”
“Yes sir. I’ve done the best that I could until now but I don’t think I would be able to look after him properly for much longer and thought that he should be back with his own kind. I was kind of hoping that you would be able to take him in and raise him, or would know where I could take him to be looked after properly.” Dean said, looking the dragon straight in the face with all of the courage he could gather, praying that the dragon didn’t decide to munch on him as an afternoon snack.
“Let me ssee the youngling properly.”
Dean untied the altered carrying pouch with Rebecca’s help, and gently cradled Angus to his chest as he walked closer to the big dragon and gently placed Angus on the ground in front of him. At first, Angus was confused as to what was going on, but if Dean ever needed proof that dragons were highly intelligent and were aware of things going on around them, then Angus’ reaction to Dean leaving him there and taking a few steps back would be all the evidence that he would need.
There was less than three paces between them but Angus swung his head between the big dragon in front of him, Dean behind him, chirruped and growled something to the dragon and started screeching when Dean took another step back, and practically launched himself at Dean, his claws gripping onto Dean’s jean clad legs whilst his tail wrapped itself around Dean’s ankles and his eyes screwed shut as if to keep tears from falling.
The adult dragon spoke in low gentle tones in what Dean and Rebecca presumed to be the dragon’s native language, but Angus seemed to ignore whatever was being said and just clung harder to Dean’s jeans. Dean carefully removed Angus’ claws from his jeans (paying extra care to a couple of the ones on his left leg that had found their way in to his calves and would later sting like a bitch when the adrenaline in his system faded) and brought Angus up to his chest, cradling him gently and stroked his flanks. As soon as he was settled, Angus spread his wings out to cover Dean’s chest and curled his head into Dean’s shoulder and neck.
“Human, the youngling iss sstrong for one sso young. You sseem to have taken care of him very well. It will be an honour to place him with a family to live with.” The adult dragon said to Dean with more than a hint of admiration in its voice.
“Well, I did my best with him.” Dean said with his trademark cocksure grin in place. As he spoke he rubbed the back of his neck, betraying his nervousness to anyone who knew him well enough.
“True enough, but if he iss to be united with a new family, you must passss him over to me. The otherss will not tolerate a human amongsst them.”
The whole purpose of finding another dragon had been to get it, or hopefully them, to look after Angus and to take him in. Dean knew this and was really very happy that Angus would grow up with adoptive brothers and sisters and the dragon equivalent of the white picket fence lifestyle (or so Dean imagined), but he hadn’t prepared himself for how he would feel when the time came to leave the little dragon in someone else’s care and walk away. He told himself that it was for Angus’ own good and that he was being selfish to want it any other way, but that didn’t stop the pain that erupted in his chest as he carefully pulled Angus out of his clinging and protective position around Dean’s chest and placed him on the grass in between the older dragon and himself.
Dean forced all comparisons between his leaving Angus behind and Sam leaving for Stanford to the back of his mind and knelt down in front of the piteously wailing dragon.
“Angus, dude, you’ve got to calm down.” For the next few minutes no one spoke and all that could be heard from Dean was a stream of soothing sounds that slowly calmed Angus down enough for Dean to continue speaking. As he spoke he hoped that somehow Angus would remember and understand what he was telling him.
“You’ve got to stay here coz you know that I can’t look after you properly. Not as well as a real dragon could. If I can, I’ll come back and visit. I don’t suppose it’ll be all that often but I’ll do my best. I … I can’t, won’t just forget about you. You’re family and I don’t forget family, no matter how much they wish I would. So, don’t worry if you don’t see me for a while, I’ll always be thinking of you and I will be back, just, just not that often, ‘k?”
Before Dean could ramble any more or shed the tears that were threatening to fall, he gently pushed Angus in the elder dragon’s direction and stood up. He and the elder dragon shared a silent yet meaningful look as Angus walked slowly over to the elder dragon who was speaking in the low rumbles of their native tongue. The last Dean saw of Angus for a long time was him being carefully shepherded along by the elder dragon through the trees. Just as the trees were about to engulf Angus completely, he swung his head around and chirruped happily at Dean as if to tell him that everything was alright and not to worry about him.
Both the hike back to the Impala and the drive back to Rebecca’s house were done in virtual silence, only speaking to warn each other of a treacherous piece of ground or to pass directions on to the other. When they were finally back at Rebecca’s which seemed to take both no time at all and far too long, in Dean’s mind, Dean pulled up outside her house but let the engine idle instead of turning it off.
“I guess you’re not coming in for a drink then.” Rebecca said as she reached over for the door handle.
“Nah, I’d better head off. There’s always another hunt to do and someone to bail out of whatever mess they’ve got themselves into.
“I bet. Well, if you’re ever in the area, feel free to stop by. Don’t let Daniel’s intimidation tactics stop you from visiting a friend.” With that, Rebecca got out of the Impala and walked to her front door, ringing the bell to get Daniel to open it for her. When the door opened, Leanne ran out giggling happily about something she’d just done. Dean took in the scene and the ghost of a smile flitted across his face.
Putting the Impala into gear, Dean revved the engine, drawing the attention of all of the Chase’s, and pulled away, determinedly not looking back at them, even though he knew Leanne was waving ‘goodbye’ to him.
He stopped for the night at the first motel that he found outside of Cougar and collapsed on the bed after turning the TV on and calling for the biggest pepperoni pizza he could afford. When the ad break finished and he could make out the distinctive roaring of Godzilla Dean hurriedly changed the channel to one of the documentary channels – something on Ancient Egypt and mummies he thought – something decidedly not related to dragons and their kind in any way shape or form.
Dean spent the rest of the evening determinedly not doing, saying, thinking or watching anything remotely connected to dragons until he realised that Bobby deserved to know that Angus was safe and with his own kind for good now.
Tomorrow. I’ll call him tomorrow, it’ll be soon enough.
And with that thought, Dean finished off the pizza and fell asleep.
The next morning, Dean slept in as late as he could without having to pay for an extra night and took his sweet time getting washed, dressed and packed up. Once he’d had a late breakfast at a randomly placed Denny’s, and sitting on the hood of the Impala whilst still parked up in the car park down the side of the diner, Dean called Bobby.
“Hey, umm, we, uh, Rebecca and me that is, found a safe place for Angus. Turns out that there is a dr-extended member of his family living at the base of Mount St. Helens and well, he took Angus under his wing, so to speak, for a few days.” Dean said, trying not to say anything to raise suspicions of the other patrons whilst affecting an indifferent tone to mask the feeling of loss over handing Angus over to the elder dragon. It felt unsettlingly similar to how it felt to see Sam walk out for Stanford and not call him. Luckily, Bobby still knew Dean well enough, despite the almost decade of no contact, to read between the lines and realise that Dean was hurting but did not want to discuss it.
“That’s all good then. Might have a hunt if you want to get back in the game. Not sure what it is, but whatever it is, it’s sure upsetting the locals. Police think it’s just some kids with too much time on their hands, but I don’t know of many kids who’d be able to draw an accurate set of Altheysian sigils and carry out a ritual that looks like something really black from what I can get of the reports.” Bobby replied, hoping that this was the right thing to do to get Dean to pull himself out of a funk.
“Sounds like my kinda thing. Where’s it happening?” Dean asked, all business.
“In Baker City, Oregon, just off the 84. Something’s happened to a Miss N. Morgan and the town’s looking to the Sheriff for answers he can’t give them.” Bobby told Dean.
“Got it. Looks like I’m back in the game with an interesting one. I’ll be seeing ya.” Bobby could hear the grin in Dean’s voice as he spoke, and almost missed the quiet “thanks Bobby” that Dean muttered just before he hung up.
“You too kid.”
~ THE END ~