moragmacpherson: (feegles)
moragmacpherson ([personal profile] moragmacpherson) wrote2010-05-04 07:02 pm
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Fic: A Grand Sneer - Chapter 8/10 (Supernatural/Discworld BigBang)

Master Post
Chapter Eight


And on the second day, time passed.

So did cabbage fields. Lots and lots of cabbage fields: the mountains closer now, but not growing with any appreciable speed. Dean needed something else to look at, and so far as things to look at went, there was plenty harder on the eyes than Angua. Sure, she was a werewolf; sure, she was Carrot's girlfriend; and sure, she appeared to strongly dislike him, but there could be no harm in looking. Right?

She quirked a single elegant eyebrow at him. "Lust?" The color drained out of Dean's face: they'd warned him about her sense of smell, but he kept forgetting. "And back to fear again." She smirked. "That was quick. At least the lust was a change."

Dean grimaced. "Has it occurred to you that reminding me you can smell my fear might not be helping? Y'know, with the fear?" he grumbled. Angua shrugged and resumed looking out the window. Dean started another game of solitaire and made sure his eyes stayed on the cards.

More time passed.

They ate lunch. Angua didn't eat the meat. Dean wondered if that was for his benefit. Probably not - though a vegetarian werewolf boggled his mind in a whole new way - but if there was a chance she was making a gesture, he could do with some less tension in the atmosphere. "So, is Angua your first name or your last name?"

"Neither."

"Oh." She didn't elaborate. "Huh."

The sun continued its march across the sky.

It was about two o'clock by Dean's reckoning when the next Dungeon Dimension demon attacked them. Upwright and Nosher Harry had their hands full keeping the horses calm, so Dean and Angua were left to dispatch the beast, some kind of bipedal insectoid-looking thing, six-foot tall and strong. Wanting to conserve bullets, Dean tried the crossbow instead, but the exoskeleton was too dense to penetrate. Thus it was Angua who landed the killing blow with her sword. She decapitated the thing and cleaned its ichor off the blade, all without any hint of satisfaction on her face. Without at any time looking like a vicious killer.

They moved on.

A few miles later Dean unstuck his tongue from the roof of his mouth. "Thank you."

Angua tilted her head at him. "For what?"

He took a deep breath. "I know you're only here because Vimes ordered you, but thanks. For, uh, coming along and, er, helping me."

"You're welcome." She pressed her lips together. "But you're wrong. I'm not here because Vimes ordered me. He wanted to come along himself."

Dean's brow furrowed. "Vetinari?"

"No, he planned to send one of the palace golems." It was Dean's turn to tilt his head and Angua relented. "Carrot told them I was the best choice."

Dean sat back, confused. "How's that work?"

Angua sighed and was silent again, but in a way that suggested she was deciding the best way to explain things. "Their families have some history. One of Vimes' ancestors killed one of Carrot's, Vetinari has some property that used to belong to Carrot's family, that sort of thing. The three of them have buried the hatchet-" and there was a joke there that Dean wasn't in on, judging by the curve of her lips, "- but Carrot's still got a lot of sway with them because of all the history."

"He's got a lot of sway with everyone," thought Dean, then he realized he'd actually said it.

Angua's mouth quirked to the side. "He's special."

Having glimpsed a softer side of Angua - or at least a less hostile side - Dean figured he'd keep her on the subject. "So how long have you and he..."

"A few years," she admitted.

Dean frowned. "Years? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd wait that-"

"It's complicated."

Right. Probably the chain of command issue. Then again, they were talking about a man who had overruled his bosses to volunteer his hot werewolf girlfriend for a week-long trip alone with Dean, whom Carrot knew was both a letch and a werewolf-killer. Guessing his motivations for anything would be tricky at best.

Silence resumed.

Shortly after the sun sank below the horizon they reached the next inn, well into the foothills now. As they headed to their respective rooms, Angua smiled and told Dean "Sleep well."

Ever obedient, Dean did sleep better, even if he was rudely awakened just before dawn by a hideous creeping thing latching its suckers onto his foot. He buried his knife in its head, tossed the corpse in the fire, and headed back to sleep. It was so routine, he didn't even remember to tell his companions about it in the morning.

That day, Angua spoke first.

"Stop it."

Dean flinched, knocked out of a pleasant daydream involving the Impala, soapy water, and Tawni Kitaen circa 1987. "Huh? What?"

She wore a bitch-face that would have made Sam proud. "You've been humming the same song for the last hour. Badly. And I don't think the tune was that good to begin with."

Dean blinked. Had he been humming? "Oh. Sorry."

The roads had grown steeper and the going much slower. In the afternoon it started to rain in sheets. Dean poked his head out the window and asked if Nosher or Jim wanted to trade out, but they waved him off. While he shook the rain out of his hair, Angua clenched her jaw. "That eager to be away from me, huh?" she asked.

Dean thought about it: he'd been relaxed enough earlier to completely zone out while sitting two feet from a werewolf. "No, just figured I'd give them the chance to dry off for a bit."

"Right."

Dean looked down at the solitaire game he was losing. "You know any games that use both halves of this deck?"

Angua shook her head, gripped the hilt of her sword tighter. "I should keep watch. We're past due for something to show up."

"No we're not," said Dean. "One came after me last night." Angua pinned him with a stare. "I took care of it, don't worry. So do you know any games or not?"

She kept up the stare for a few seconds more before muttering, "I thought I heard something around dawn." Then she taught him how to play Cripple Mister Onion, and beat him on points in the first two games. Dean took the third.

Angua stopped him before he went into his room that night. "Innkeeper says there's been a bogeyman hanging around lately. Might fixate on you for the same reason the Dungeon Dimensions things do."

Dean chuckled. "Bogeyman? I'll, uh, remember to pull the chair up under the closet door and check under the bed before I lie down."

She scowled at him. "If he shows up, don't do anything stupid like try to stab him. Conventional weapons just make them angry. You have to throw your blanket over his head. Trust me."

"Yeah, sure. Nighty night." This room didn't have a fireplace and it was damn chilly and Dean wasn't about to give up the one thin blanket on the bed for no good reason. So when his sleep was disturbed by a creaking floor, Dean went with his instincts and slashed at it with his knife.

The next morning, the drivers' snickers were insufferable. Dean chose to ignore them, wrapping Carrot's cloak tighter around himself in an effort to finally get warm again. Inside the coach, Angua just shook her head and watched out the window. Dean stretched his legs out on his bench and dozed the morning away. Eventually, Angua prodded him awake and handed him a hunk of cheese and an apple for lunch. "Thanks," he mumbled.

"You're welcome," she replied. After a beat she asked, "So, when you shriek, does it always sound like a ten-year old girl?" Dean didn't dignify her with a response, he knew he'd earned it. He'd seen plenty of evidence that the Disc was a dangerous place, even if it was hard to take serious sometimes.

By the afternoon, his curiosity got the better of him. "Okay, so you warned me about the bogeyman, and he was horrible-"

"What'd he turn into?"

A hellhound, but he wasn't going to tell her that. The lie rolled off his tongue. "Midget clown, should'velistenedtoyouabouttheblanket, but nevermind," Dean leaned forward. "What do you know about these Feegle things? All of the wizards freaked out about them, but nobody's told me what they are." He put his hands together and looked down at his feet for a second before looking back up at her. "I'd rather go in prepared."

Angua shrugged, not overtly acknowledging Dean's humbled 'aww shucks' routine, but she didn't dismiss it, which counted for something. "The Wee Free Men? Didn't have them in my part of Überwald." At Dean's blank look, she explained. "Where I grew up, on the far side of the Ramtops. But you heard stories. They're not malicious, but they cause a lot of trouble, stealing livestock, ambushing travelers in the forest, and shutting down pubs."

"Shutting down pubs?" echoed Dean.

"Once you've got Feegles in a pub, it's something of a lost cause. Easier to relocate than evict them."

"Huh." They didn't sound so bad. "What do they look like?"

Angua pursed her lips, and Dean crossed his legs, clamping down on those thoughts before his traitorous body chemistry gave him away. "Did you meet Constable Swires?" Dean shook his head, so Angua held her hands up a few inches apart. "He's not a Feegle, but they've got a lot in common with gnomes. They're about this tall, covered in blue tattoos, made out of solid muscle and fury."

Dean guffawed. The wizards had gotten all worked up over what sounded like drunken Smurfs? "They're six inches tall? Hell, why not just step on 'em?"

"That'd be about as effective as waving your knife at a bogeyman." Dean winced. "Not to mention that a clan of Feegles usually numbers in the hundreds, so even if you get one, well, there's the rest of them to worry about." She leaned back in her seat. "I'm sure you'll be fine."

Dean was almost positive that she meant it.

That night the moon was more than half full and Dean dreamt about the end of his world. It was the usual scenario from the last few months: croats, demons, Lucifer-in-Sam taunting him about something or other. It faded as it always did upon waking, leaving behind few traces besides a foul mood. Normally, Dean would look over at the other bed and remind himself that no, Sammy hadn't said yes - would never say yes, so long as Dean was there to stop it. Instead, his eyes flipped open to the gut-wrenching realization that he wasn't there to stop it. The spiraling thoughts continued while he doubled over, remembering that time had moved differently in Hell, and Dean hadn't had the fucking presence of mind to think to ask Lucy about that when he'd had the chance, too stupid to ask the fucking most important question. Almost a week here, but who the hell knew how long Dean had really been gone?

After he'd pulled himself out of bed at dawn, Dean tracked down Jim and begged a pull from the man's flask, ready to barter away a knife or two, but the man took a step back before Dean could offer. He tossed Dean the flask and told him to hold onto it. Dean thanked him as he walked away, then swallowed half the bottle's contents in one go.

A few minutes later Dean crawled into the coach and slumped against the window, jutting his chin out at the looming mountains like he was daring them to try something. Angua's nose twitched when she joined him, but she didn't say a damn thing. Once they started moving, Dean listened to the clip-clop of the horses' hooves - too fucking slow, should've listened to the wizards, he could have been home by now, but he never fucking thought these things through first. Instead he was stuck here with a patronizing werewolf who wouldn't deign to talk to him but sniffed the air every few minutes, and that said plenty. "What?" demanded Dean.

"I didn't say anything," said Angua, her voice even and neutral.

"You're checking up on me with that fucking nose of yours." He turned his head back towards the window, and sniffed twice in exaggerated imitation. "Real fucking subtle," he muttered, shutting his eyes. "So tell me, oh nose who knows, what am I feeling now?"

"Cheap rye," replied Angua without hesitation or rancor, "but not enough of it."

He let his eyes open just a crack. "W'the hell's that s'posed to mean?"

Angua hesitated, her tongue darting out to wet her lips before she began, "You're sitting still but your body keeps releasing irregular, periodic shots of adrenaline. That tells me panic attack." She sighed then continued her calm recitation of facts. "You vomited at least twice recently, and you didn't notice when I killed a demon outside your door at half past two: it's been going on at least since then. Nothing else has changed here, which means the problem's back home and there's nothing you can do about it now that you're not already doing." She faced Dean with eyes like bottle shards. "And you're still conscious and taking your issues out on me, which means that you haven't drunk enough to pass out yet. So why don't you do us both a favor and finish the fucking bottle?" Having said her piece, Angua turned away, folded her arms, and set her feet on the unoccupied side of Dean's bench.

Dean sneered at the back of her head. She was a cold fucking bitch, that was for damn sure. He agreed with her on at least one point: he could use another drink. Dean continued to glower at Angua while savoring the burn of the whiskey spreading in his throat and stomach. She paid no visible notice. A thought occurred to him and Dean choked back a laugh, not wanting to reveal he'd just realized that for Angua 'bitch' was actually a technical descriptor, not an insult.

He was still thinking too clearly: time to take another shot. He jiggled the bottle after and listened to the swish of the contents. Quite a bit left. Perhaps finishing it was going past the line of self-medication. Fuck it. He drained the flask, replaced the cap, and tossed it so that it landed on the other end of the bench by Angua's feet. Her legs twitched and Dean smiled. "Got any more advice?" he asked.

She didn't rise to the bait; he didn't think she would. "Go to sleep, Dean." He snorted. Like that was going to happen when his father's voice in his head wouldn't shut up, dressing Dean down for running off in the middle of a job, letting himself get caught up in some fantasy world that didn't matter, and worst of all, for failing to protect Sam.

Except he blinked a short while later and the voice stopped. When Dean's eyelids drew back the light was streaming in through the wrong window, turning Angua's hair into a glowing halo. His first thought was that she was more than beautiful enough and almost enough of a dick to be an angel. Along with this epiphany Dean realized that if he moved, the headache would start, so he decided against moving. But the change in his breathing must have tipped Angua off, because she shifted her weight on the too-thin cushions and without looking threw a waterskin at his head. Dean caught it easily and then groaned as the hangover slammed into full effect. A few gulps of water took care of the dry mouth, but it would take awhile to clear up the headache and everything else. "Thanks," said Dean.

"You kept saying 'Sam,'" said Angua without preamble. "Somehow I doubt you meant my boss."

Dean shook his head and sipped at the water. "My brother," he explained.

Angua bit her bottom lip. "That what this morning was all about?" Dean nodded, waited, but Angua didn't say anything else.

When they reached the troll-owned roadhouse Angua ordered Dean a bath and a meal without asking. He chose not to argue. Lounging by his fire in a tin bath full of still-steaming hot water - trolls seemed to have trouble gauging human temperature tolerances - the last of the booze sweating out of his pores, and his stomach full of something called 'slumpie,' Dean was comfortably numb, which was the best he'd felt all day.

He heard a knock. "Are you fit for company?"

Dean opened one eye. Despite the pretense of the knock, Angua was already in the room. "I'm naked," he replied, "but then again, I get surprisingly few complaints about that, so I guess it depends on the company."

"Werewolves aren't modest when it comes to nudity: clothes don't survive the change," explained Angua, pulling a chair next to the tub. Dean sat up, sloshing water over the edge. "I was referring to your mood."

Dean grimaced. "S'pose I earned that."

"And more," agreed Angua. "We've got another hundred miles ahead of us: that's a day and a half. Are you going to be able to hold it together for that long?"

Dean huffed. "Don't really have any other options at this point, do I?"

Angua held her palms up. "I don't know. I'm supposed to get you to Lancre alive. If the next two days are going to be anything like today, there's no reason it can't be alive, bound, and gagged."

"Kinky," said Dean.

Angua rolled her eyes. "Not really my thing. So what's it going to be, Dean?"

"Honestly? I don't know." Dean trailed his fingers over the water. "There's this chance that I'm gonna get home only to find out my brother became a monster because I wasn't there to stop it." He exhaled. "How am I supposed to deal with that?" He looked over at Angua, who continued to regard him dispassionately. Shaking his head, he found the washcloth, wrung it out, and wiped his face with it. "Sorry. It's not your fault, not your problem."

"Does your brother want to be a monster?"

Dean's reply was automatic. "No!"

Angua gave him a small smile. "Then you shouldn't be so quick to declare him one." She rose to her feet. "Regardless of that: our brothers may be monsters, but that doesn't mean we must be monsters ourselves."

"'Our brothers'?" echoed Dean.

She walked past the window where a three-quarter moon shone before pausing at the door and nodding. "Did you really think you were the only one?" The words were bitter but Angua's voice was soft and raspy, and it occurred to Dean that he wasn't sure whether she had been talking to him or herself. "Get some rest. We'll talk about it in the morning." Angua left him to linger in the bath and think about Sam and Carrot and other giant things that Dean might not understand as well as he'd once thought.

On the sixth day, they talked.

There was some additional excitement involving bandits and a Dungeon Dimension creature appearing in the middle of the hold-up, but that wasn't what Dean would remember later. Upwright and Nosher took care of the bandits; he and Angua vivisected the demon, then they got back in the coach and moved on. Dean would remember the quiver in Angua's voice when she said Wolfgang's name. Most of all, he would remember her last words on the subject.

"I still haven't thanked Vimes for killing him. How could I? What would that make me? It was good of Vimes to do it; it was the right thing to do and I'm not sorry that Wolfgang is dead. He was a monster. Vimes could kill the monster without killing the brother; I couldn't." She worried at her bottom lip again, now swollen from the one nervous habit she seemed to allow herself. "It should have been me, but I couldn't."

Dean nodded. "Yeah." Their eyes met. "I think I know what you mean." That night it took him a long time to get to sleep, but he slept well and without dreams.

On the seventh day, they got off to an early start and reached Lancre by mid-morning. After introductions were made and papers presented, Shawn Ogg, the guard at the border, volunteered to take Dean on horseback directly to Mistress Weatherwax's cottage while the others could head to the village or begin the journey home. Dean looked over at Angua, who looked at the horses. "Horses don't tolerate werewolves as riders," she said.

Dean remembered that the cloak wrapped around him belonged to Carrot. "Here, you can take this back-" he started, his hands moving to the clip, but Angua stopped him.

"No, he gave it to you. It's yours, it suits you."

Upwright had already fetched Dean's bag from the coach and passed it off with a nod. Dean exhaled, pulled his silver ring off of his right hand, and offered the hand to Angua. They shook, and her grip still surprised him with its strength. Maybe the shake lasted a few seconds too long: when it was done the other men were looking away. Dean swung into the saddle of a placid old mare and rode off on his way home, knowing that when he looked back before the curve in the track Angua would still be watching him.

He looked. She was.

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