Given the way the show has played with timelines, and given that I have no idea how season 2 will open, I've set this fic in early March, 2007. Dean and Sam have been out of the hospital for a very short time.
Notes/glossary at the end (most of the terms are in bold in the text). Happy reading!
[TITLE CARD: Lenape, New Jersey]
[Tight close-up on two faces, a Eurasian-looking man in his late 20's and a woman (any race) maybe a few years older than him, standing close together but not intimately. Background music is instrumental, major key, nothing intrusive or very evocative.]
MR. REEVES: So this is a temperate climate, huh?
MS. LEE: Tell me again why you left Hawaii for New Jersey?
REEVES: Oh, you know, same old story. Meet a man, he promises you the world, and you end up in [camera shows them huddled together in a doorway and then pans out, across what they're looking at: a windy school playground swarming with first-graders. The boys are playing Butts Up, most of the girls are jumping rope double-dutch style, a handful are playing pattycake, a few are drawing on the blacktop with colored chalk] suburbia. [Camera moves back to REEVES and LEE but this time including the background action of the children playing.]
LEE: Was he worth it?
REEVES: On sunny days, absolutely. [shivers a bit] I feel like a sadist, throwing these kids out into the cold for an hour. I thought it was supposed to be gorgeous today!
LEE: Well, you're new. Soon you'll crack the weatherman's code. Besides, it's state law.
REEVES: [confused] The weather?
LEE: Mandatory outdoor recess. Only if it's raining, sleeting, hailing, or snowing - then they can stay inside. Presidential Fitness Challenge.
REEVES: I thought that was just if a ten-year-old boy can do twenty chin-ups in a minute he gets a certificate signed by Our Fearless Leader.
LEE: No, if he can do twenty chin-ups in a minute, George W's likely to send him to war.
REEVES: Once again, "Mission Accomplished"!
[The Butts Up game has been continuing. A forceful throw and a wicked bounce send the tennis ball rocketing past the blacktop and into the trees and bushes. A groan goes up from the boys and they all turn to look at the trees. They are a good-sized group, about half white and half black, with a few East Asians and South Asians in the mix. An Indian kid, ROHAN, seven years old with a mop of thick black hair, looking especially small in his brand-new oversize shirt, sighs and heads off for the trees.]
BOYS: Rohan! Roooooo-haaaaaaaaan!
[Camera follows ROHAN trotting toward the trees, looking around for the ball, kicking at the bushes half-heartedly. ROHAN reaches the chain-link fence that the greenery has mostly concealed. Camera switches to ROHAN's POV. An Indian girl, VIDYA, ten years old, dressed in a pretty outfit of bright yellow silk, badly smudged and stained, hair escaping from two tight braids, is on the other side of the fence, holding the tennis ball out to ROHAN.]
VIDYA: Va, va, Rohan. Va.
[ROHAN smiles back and reaches through the fence. He can't quite reach, even when he's pressed against the fence, but VIDYA moves no closer. ROHAN's fingertips stretch out and he's about an inch away from the ball in her hand . . .]
[JUMPY, FLASHY CREDITS: SUPERNATURAL]
[TITLE CARD: Edison, New Jersey]
[Hindi film music plays softly in the background in a clean but cluttered diner/meeting hall. DEAN and SAM are sitting at one of the few small tables in the front of the shop. There are several large round tables in the back, each with a carom board on top. The boys are waiting for their coffee. We only see them from behind. The strap of SAM's bag is slung across the back of his chair, DEAN's leather jacket is hung on his chair. Neither the laptop nor the journal is visible. MRS. GOPAL, a fortysomething round Indian woman in a demure violet salwaar kameez, very much the cheek-pinching type, puts a tray on their table. Each coffee comes in a small stainless steel cup with a wide lip, and each cup has a matching bowl with a wide lip next to it. MRS. GOPAL sets out several small plates in front of the boys, naming the dishes as she goes.]
MRS. GOPAL: Samosa, pakora, jilebi, and mysorepak.
SAM: Ma'am, I'm sorry, we didn't order this.
MRS. GOPAL: [camera swings around so we can finally see the boys as she does and it's not pretty. The right side of SAM's face is pink and mottled with scar tissue and DEAN has long, dark diagonal scars on both cheeks. Both boys' hair is short, as it's only now growing in after being shaved off. Their faces are mostly immobile because it hurts too much to move, very pale where they're not shadowed by old bruises. They are both painfully thin.] Don't be sorry. Just eat. Please. [She catches SAM's wrist, gently, when he reaches out to grab his coffee cup.] Careful. It will burn. [She picks up the coffee cup by the lip with her right hand and pours the coffee into the bowl she's holding by the lip with her left. Then she pours the coffee back from the bowl into the cup and sets them both in front of SAM.] Like that. See? [she nods at the old man sitting at a corner table who's pouring his coffee back and forth, his hands far apart, the movements so automatic that the coffee looks like rope as it moves between the vessels, not a single drop spilled.] To cool it down. Better than this [she holds an imaginary cup, blows feebly on the imaginary coffee inside] blowing on it. [She puts DEAN's cup and bowl in front of him, touches his elbow gently, and leaves with the tray.]
[A few women enter the shop, speaking softly but urgently. SAM cools the coffee as instructed, relaxing as the motion becomes familiar. DEAN just watches. SAM takes a sip.]
SAM: Still hot. But very good. Want me to do yours?
DEAN: I can manage.
SAM: Uh-huh. [beat] When?
DEAN: When what?
SAM: Look, your hands bother you first thing in the morning, let me help you out. You can carry me home at the end of the day.
DEAN: Sammy –
SAM: Or you could watch over me all night instead of getting any sleep. That would work too.
DEAN: You're such a pain in the ass.
SAM: Worse than the pain in your hands?
DEAN: Much. [He holds his hands over his coffee cup, flexing them in the steam from the coffee. He keeps his hands close together as he pours back and forth, but he manages not to spill any. He finally takes a sip.] Mmm. That is good. [He bites into a samosa.] How'd she know we were hungry and broke?
SAM: You just have that look, I guess. [He starts to eat too.]
DEAN: Yeah, it's just me who needs fattening up. Whatever, dude. You look like a scarecrow.
SAM: Just when I was thinking of not killing you with my brain, you say something like that.
DEAN: Last jilebi's mine, bitch.
SAM: [turns around, watching as MRS. GOPAL heads toward the group of women] So, where we headed next?
DEAN: Don't know. Jersey's not that big, but it's too damn big to just guess. Dad only mentioned Arizona, California, New Jersey, right? No sign of the demon anywhere. I wish . . . [he trails off uncomfortably]
SAM: Dad'll wake up, Dean.
MRS. GOPAL: Coma? [SAM and DEAN turn, furious at her eavesdropping. But she wasn't listening to them at all. She's talking to the women, all of whom are looking very upset.] Ayyo. Such a good boy! What is happening to our children in this country?
MRS. RAO: How can you be playing one minute and falling into a coma the next?
MRS. GOPAL: [starting to cry] Where is he?
MRS. RAO: The hospital in Lenape.
MRS. GOPAL: [wiping away tears] I'll take some food over for Gita and Raju. [looks around, sees SAM and DEAN watching her, heads over to them] Did you need anything else?
SAM: No, ma'am. [pretending he and DEAN were out of earshot] Are you okay?
MRS. GOPAL: [noting the empty plates] I knew you boys were hungry! [softens from the strain and SAM's puppy-dog eyes] Yes, kondai, I'm fine.
DEAN: [quietly] You sure?
[CUT TO: DEAN and SAM in the parking lot, standing over the trunk of their car. It is Caleb's car, a 70's Mustang with Nebraska plates, rusty and beat up, possibly brown originally. Its trunk is tricked out like the Impala's was. They are rummaging through duffel bags while Queen's "Son and Daughter" plays. CHOPPY CUT to DEAN changing outfits in the car while SAM stands guard, CHOPPY CUT to SAM changing while DEAN, in a cop's blue uniform, lounges against the car, carefully flexing his hands out of SAM's line of sight. SAM knocks on the glass and crawls into the front passenger seat. DEAN climbs into the driver's seat.]
DEAN: Let's go.
[TITLE CARD: Lenape, New Jersey.]
[DEAN and SAM are driving and bickering, sounding much more like themselves than the quiet boys in MRS. GOPAL's shop. Queen's "We Will Rock You" plays on the stereo.]
DEAN: I always hated school. I can't believe I have to go back.
SAM: No, you didn't . . .
DEAN: First real job and it's at a school. Just figures. Sammy -
SAM: Would you quit it with the nickname?
DEAN: [looks surprised] Sammy's not a nickname, dude. It's your name. A nickname is something embarrassing, like [grins] "Mr. Spud," or . . .
SAM: When you're 23, "Sammy" is embarrassing.
DEAN: Whatever. It's your name.
SAM: No, my name is Sam.
DEAN: "Sammy" is what Mom called you.
DEAN: That's what she called her cousin, I guess.
DEAN: She named you for her favorite cousin. [off Sam's look] You didn't know that?
DEAN: [absently, peering at street signs] Samantha Jane Monroe.
SAM: [punches his arm, not too hard] You're such a jerk.
DEAN: [surprised, swerves a tiny bit] The hell, Sammy? Why would I make this up? "Samantha Jane" . . . "Samuel John."
SAM: Just quit implying I'm a girl.
DEAN: I'm not implying anything your driver's license doesn't already say.
SAM: What are you talking about [flat, not a question].
DEAN: [hums Queen]
DEAN: [singing along] Bah bah bah.
SAM: Dean? [no response. Pulls out his wallet, finds his California license, looks at it for a long moment] DEAN! I can't believe you did that! What if I'd been pulled over? It says "F" under "sex"!
DEAN: I didn't do it on purpose, man. I got distracted when I was makin' the damn thing [grins again].
SAM: You were watching porn when you were making my license?
DEAN: No . . . but close. I was thinking of Lina Gorul. Man, she earned her "F."
SAM: [muttering pissily] You don't earn an "F," Dean. You earn "A"s.
DEAN: [bad impression of a old woman's voice] "Mr. Winchester, your . . . spotty . . . attendance record has earned you an 'F' for this marking period." I'm out there killing things that like to snack on sadistic crones and she's bitching about me not showin' up for her French class!
SAM: [cutting him off] Dean.
SAM: You going somewhere with this?
DEAN: [sigh] I always hated school.
[CUT TO: DEAN and SAM standing in front of the first-grade class. DEAN is in the cop uniform, while SAM is wearing a plain black suit, white shirt, and grey tie. Both outfits are far too loose. MR. REEVES and MS. LEE have gathered their students and gotten them quiet.]
LEE: Class, this is Officer Dean. Remember we talked about police officers? Give him your full attention, please.
KIDS: Hi, Officer Dean!
[DEAN looks a little uneasy at all the attention, then relaxes into a smile]
SAM: [quietly] Mr. Reeves, Ms. Lee, I'm Sam Smith, from Child Protective Services. May I speak with you? [LEE and REEVES look at each other and nod, leading the way to the hall. SAM follows, limping, and closes the door behind him.] Dean – Officer Thomas - called my office in Trenton when he got assigned to this case. We've worked together in the past and he thought it was better for CPS to be involved from the beginning. [LEE and REEVES are listening, upset but not defensive] Can you tell me what happened? [They hear a burst of laughter from the classroom.]
LEE: It was at recess. Charlie and I were standing in the doorway, watching the kids. We saw Rohan go out near the fence to find the ball the boys had been playing with. I couldn't really see him once he was in the bushes – he’s a pretty small kid. Anyway, the other boys were waiting around, catcalling, and it shouldn't have taken him that long to find the ball. And then the bell rang and the kids started running back to the school. I didn't see Rohan but I thought I must have missed him in the rush. But when we got back to the classroom, his seat was empty. So Charlie –
REEVES: So I went out to see if I could find him. And he was just slumped against the fence, like he'd been knocked out. He was unconscious. And cold, but I thought that was just because he hadn't been wearing a jacket; it was pretty brisk that day. So I took him to the nurse's office but she was at lunch, so I called the doctor listed on his emergency notification card.
SAM: And who is that?
REEVES: I can't remember the name exactly. A long Indian name. Something with a V.
SAM: So neither of you saw anything that could have "knocked out" Rohan?
SAM: And did Rohan have any past . . . episodes like this?
LEE: Oh, no.
REEVES: There was just a pediatrician listed on his card. No specialists or anything like that.
SAM: Okay. And has anything else strange happened recently?
LEE: The worst that's happened here is a chicken pox epidemic three years ago. Nothing like this. This is just horrible.
SAM: Thank you for your time. Officer Thomas and I will be talking to the kids at recess. Maybe they saw something more.
SAM: Me too. [He opens the classroom door for them.]
[CUT TO: DEAN and SAM in the same spot where ROHAN fell. Queen's "Play the Game" plays.]
DEAN: Kids said this is where Rohan was.
SAM: Teachers said pretty much the same.
DEAN: I'm getting next to nothing with the EMF.
SAM: How reliable is that thing if you're not in an enclosed space?
DEAN: Not very. Energy dissipates too fast. [takes deliberate stock of the surroundings]. Nothin', man. No houses, no hotspots, no creepy-crawlies, nothing to put a healthy kid into an instant coma.
SAM: A curse, maybe? [leads the way back to the blacktop, limping. The boys walk slowly, giving themselves time to check everything out.]
DEAN: Could be. The boys were playing Butts Up. I can’t believe they still play that game.
SAM: In this age of lawsuits, I can’t either. Okay, so the boys were occupied and the teachers vouch for each other. What about the girls?
DEAN: I betcha one girl saw something. Look at this. [Indicates an elaborate hopscotch board chalked on the asphalt.]
SAM: Yeah, she saw a way to spend recess with her friends.
DEAN: No, dumbass, look. [He points to the edges of the board. Several small stars are concealed in the borders.] Pentagrams.
SAM: [Can DEAN really be this ignorant?] Dean, I think they're just stars. Girls draw stuff like that - hearts, flowers, stars - all the time. Jess used to doodle that kind of thing when she was on the phone.
DEAN: [Freezes momentarily at the mention of Jess, wonders if SAM is as relaxed as he seems. Then decides to forge ahead and deal with it later.] Yeah? Jess also do a little ritual bloodletting over her doodles, Sam?
DEAN: It's there. Blood.
SAM: So some kid scraped her knee.
DEAN: Oh, it's a dangerous game, hopscotch. C'mon, man! We aren't talking about four-square, here.
[A bell rings and the first-graders run out to the playground, REEVES and LEE walking with them. Most of the kids squeal with delight at the sight of DEAN, who squats as they gather around him.]
BETSY: [one hand on DEAN’s knee, pointing proudly at the hopscotch board] I drew that, Officer Dean!
DEAN: You did? Wow.
CALLIE: Yeah and then we’re gonna play on it everyday and the first one to get a million points wins!
DEAN: That’s a lot of points. [makes “help me” eyes at SAM, who grins and shakes his head] Hey, you know who loves hopscotch? [pointing] Mr. Sam. [the girls make a beeline for SAM, all talking over each other. SAM panics briefly and then stares out at the spot where ROHAN collapsed; he seems to sense something. DEAN looks up at him but before he can ask, SAM shakes his head doubtfully like he's imagining things. Camera angle switches so that we see ROHAN and VIDYA, still in the same clothes, having a riotous game of tag, on VIDYA’s side of the fence, but very near that spot. DEAN looks back down and sees one girl, an Indian girl (RADHIKA), sitting by herself and drawing on the blacktop. RADHIKA has a mane of thick black hair and a pointy little chin; she’s wearing faded jeans and a boyish red-and-yellow shirt. Camera moves back to DEAN and RADHIKA. He moves quietly over to look at what she’s doing. She is drawing an elaborate om.]
RADHIKA: [hears him but doesn’t look up, just holds out another thick piece of chalk] You can do one too.
DEAN: No, I can’t. I hurt my hands. [he stretches his arms to show her his hands and his sleeves, being too loose, ride up]
RADHIKA: [suddenly very interested. She looks up into his face and dusts her hands off, then carefully traces the scar on his left cheek] Red is the strongest color.
DEAN: [totally confused] What?
RADHIKA: [fingering the leather bands around his wrist] For your rakhi. Your sister should have given you red, not brown. Then you would be safe.
DEAN: I don’t have a sister.
RADHIKA: Rohan took off the rakhi I gave him.
DEAN: Rohan’s your brother?
RADHIKA: [small voice] Yes.
DEAN: Do you know what happened to him?
RADHIKA: [tears well up in her eyes but her voice is steady] Something bad. Because he had no rakhi.
DEAN: He can’t wake up right now. Will the rakhi wake him up?
RADHIKA: [face set with determination, says with absolute conviction] Yes.
[CUT TO a woman (UMA KRISHNAN) looking confused]
UMA: She told you what? [Camera pulls back so we see we are in quite a nice house, with books, papers, and lengths of fabric scattered all over the living room. RADHIKA is just visible through a doorway; she is absorbed in her coloring book. UMA, a strikingly beautiful woman in her mid-30’s, with big dark eyes and thick hair cut fashionably short, is speaking to DEAN and SAM, both still in their uniforms. A painting of an om hangs in the foyer.] Sorry, come in, please. And excuse the mess; I'm on a deadline. [She leads the way to a couch, above which hangs a silk-screened image of Krishna and Radha in the midst of their mutual seduction. DEAN looks approvingly at it, SAM notes it expressionlessly.]
DEAN: Mrs. Krishnan, Radhika told me that as Rohan's sister -
UMA: Cousin-sister, actually.
UMA: In our community, we tend to call first cousins "sister" or "brother." You know, living in extended families.
DEAN: So . . .
UMA: Rohan's mother is my husband's elder sister.
DEAN: Ah. In any case, she told me that you'd helped her with a charm to keep Rohan safe but that he'd taken it off. A rakhi.
UMA: [looks guiltily back at RADHIKA] I had no idea she believed in the story. She's so serious all the time; I forget she's only six. [DEAN smirks pointedly at SAM, clearing his face before UMA sees his expression] It's just a nice story, that's all. A girl ties a rakhi - usually red thread - around her brother's wrist as a charm and prays to the gods to keep him safe; in return, he promises to protect her. Radhika did it for Rohan a few weeks ago on his birthday. I've got pictures of it, if you need to see them.
SAM: That would be very helpful. [he stands when UMA does and wanders back to the table] What is it that you do?
UMA: [rummaging through piles of stuff] I design and make costumes for the classical dance performances sponsored by the temple. [looks up, sees SAM's confused expression] The Ganesha temple in Edison, a few towns over. The master class is performing the Ramayana in a month, and the costumes need to be done next week. [sees SAM's interest, stops her search] Do you know the story? [SAM nods. UMA looks at DEAN, who nods too.] I'm interested in it as a fraternal love story rather than a conjugal one.
SAM: But I thought Rama and Sita's marriage was supposed to be the model for marital happiness.
UMA: Yes, but it is Lakshmana and Rama who remain true to each other. [she looks for a particular book and snatches it up when she finds it, flipping to the correct page. She sets it down in front of SAM.] That only happened because Rama failed Sita; he couldn't trust her.
SAM: [upset] Dean? [Camera pans down from SAM's shocked face to the illustration in the book. It is a woman, Sita, standing erect like a pillar as flames engulf her body. She looks proudly, defiantly, at the men who stand in a half-circle in front of her. Camera pans back up to DEAN's face as he takes in the illustration, looking as sick as SAM. The picture is strongly reminiscent of the way Mary Winchester appeared in “Home.” SAM clears his throat.] I don’t remember this scene.
UMA: It is the real ending of the story, passed along from mother to daughter. Sita is abducted by Ravana, the demon, correct? [The boys, looking shellshocked, nod dumbly. It’s a shock to them to hear the word “demon” spoken so casually.] When Rama gets her back, she tells him that she is still pure, that she has kept herself only for her beloved husband. But Rama cannot accept her word and asks her to walk through fire to prove that Ravana has not soiled her. Sita passes the test, the fire cannot burn her, but the earth is angry that her daughter has been shamed, so it swallows her up, whole and pure, leaving Rama desolate. [DEAN lets out a shaky breath, SAM’s fists clench. UMA looks at them.] I’m sorry. I seem to have upset you.
DEAN: No. Sorry.
UMA: [not quite believing him] Let me find those pictures for you. Ah. Here they are.
SAM: Thanks. [taking them, holding them so that he and DEAN can both see them. We see one image: RADHIKA tying the rakhi on ROHAN’s wrist, looking at him adoringly while he smiles back at her. They are standing in front of a table that has a huge cake with a candle in the shape of a 7 on it.] Have you taken Radhika to visit Rohan?
UMA: [surprised] No. I thought it would be too scary for her.
DEAN: It might make it easier for her, to know what’s going on.
UMA: I’m not sure . . . [looks at the boys and makes a decision] Would you come with us?
DEAN: I’ll drive.
[CUT TO: ROHAN’s hospital room. UMA and SAM are talking with ROHAN’s doctor, DR. NEIL VENKATRAM, and GITA (ROHAN’s mother). GITA is about seven months pregnant and looks exhausted; she is tall and her face is drawn. Unnoticed by any of them, DEAN lifts RADHIKA onto ROHAN’s bed. She nods conspiratorially at him and pulls a red thread from her pocket and ties it around ROHAN’s wrist, murmuring a prayer as she does so. As soon as she’s done, the computer monitoring ROHAN’s vital signs beeps loudly. Everyone crowds back around the bed.]
ROHAN: Vidya. [his eyes snap open]
[We are still in ROHAN’s hospital room. NEIL and a nurse are examining ROHAN, who is sitting up and looks a little unfocused and tired but okay. GITA is sobbing, UMA is rubbing her back. SAM and DEAN are standing back, RADHIKA clinging to DEAN’s leg.]
NEIL: He appears to be fine. I . . . don’t know how to explain it. There are a few more tests I’d like to run, Gita. [GITA nods. NEIL is clearly upset and trying to control himself. He is deliberately gentle when he questions ROHAN.] Rohan? Can you tell us what happened?
ROHAN: [tries to talk but his throat is too dry. He drinks some water and tries again.] Vidya came for me and we were playing and then I woke up.
NEIL: [getting more upset] Who is Vidya, Rohan?
ROHAN: [getting confused] The akka I was playing with. [he looks around like he expects to see her in the room]
NEIL: [opening his wallet, pulling out a picture] Is this Vidya? [at ROHAN’s smile and nod, he grits his teeth and leaves the room]
SAM: [following him] Doctor?
NEIL: [hands him the picture, a school portrait] My daughter was kidnapped six months ago. [His face hardens. He is going prematurely grey, and something about his eyes is very reminiscent of John Winchester.] And the police have found nothing. They keep insisting she must have run away. One Indian girl means nothing to them. They do not care.
SAM: [handing back the picture, opening the door to ROHAN’s room again, seeing RADHIKA still clinging to DEAN] Officer Thomas and I care. Will you talk to us?
NEIL: [doesn’t want to get his hopes up but unable to help himself, especially once he sees ROHAN again, awake and alert] Yes.
[CUT TO: the boys’ motel room, marvelously ugly as always. This one has mirrored wallpaper and everything else – bedspreads, drapes, curtains – is bright red. The boys’ stuff is mostly in their duffels, but there are a few bottles of painkillers on the table between their beds. SAM is sitting on the edge of one bed, his jacket, tie, and shirt off, painfully leaning down to untie his dress shoes and peel off his socks. DEAN comes out of the bathroom in a bright red towel and kneels to help SAM. His hands are clumsy, but SAM is able to lie back and ease the pressure on his hip.]
DEAN: Tub looks pretty clean, so I started running a bath for you. [finally manages to get SAM’s shoes and socks off]
SAM: Thanks, man. [pushes himself into a sitting position, looks at DEAN] I can wash your hair in the sink while the tub fills.
DEAN: [starts to protest, then subsides] Yeah. I’m really looking forward to being able to use my hands again.
SAM: I’m not touching that line with two ten-foot poles.
[CUT TO: Edison Public Library. SAM is going through back issues of the local daily papers. DEAN throws himself into a chair next to him with a loud sigh.]
DEAN: Cops did everything right, man.
SAM: Who’d you tell them you were?
DEAN: P. I. hired by the family.
SAM: They did everything?
DEAN: Yeah. Mayor’s family had been getting death threats around the same time, though, so the cops were trying to finish Vidya’s case up quick. But they checked everybody she might have come into contact with. I mean, she’s only ten; it’s not a long list. Classmates, parents of classmates, teachers, people at the temple, her piano teacher. Nothing turned up, no one changed their routine. No ransom notes, either.
SAM: We need to talk to Rohan, see if he remembers anything besides her name.
DEAN: Did it. Went back to the hospital to get Vidya’s photo from her dad and snuck in to see Rohan on the way out.
DEAN: She refused to leave the playground area, even when he wanted to take her home and show her his pet turtle.
SAM: Spirit, then. She’s dead.
DEAN: [heavily] I think so. [both boys fall silent for a moment] We can still get whoever did this to her, Sammy. Rohan said she smelled like Lysol and was wearing a yellow pavadai, whatever that is.
SAM: [dialing a number on his phone, keeping his voice low] Mrs. Krishnan? It’s Sam Smith. Could you tell me what a pavadai is? [listening] Mm-hmm. And is there any significance to the color? Like a yellow one? [listening] Oh! Thank you very much. [hangs up, turns to DEAN] Uma made those yellow pavadais for the elementary dance class. Vidya went missing the day of their dress rehearsal, September 20th. [suddenly frowning] Wait. [he searches through the stack of newspapers] She’s in the photo of the recital that ran on September 22nd [shows DEAN the grainy picture, little girls in bright yellow, trying to hold their positions for the photograph].
DEAN: [pulls the newspaper closer, looking carefully at the picture, then sets it down and pulls VIDYA’s school photo from his breast pocket and scans the back of it.] Same studio got photo credit for both pictures.
SAM: [understanding DEAN’s theory] Same photographer . . .
DEAN: Bastard saw her once. Saw her a second time and snatched her. [Stands abruptly, ready to kick ass.]
SAM: [Also stands, but collapses back into the chair.] Damn it. [Rubbing his hip.]
DEAN: Sammy –
SAM: Just been sitting too long. Gimme a sec.
DEAN: [Sitting back down] Take as many as you need. [Off SAM’s disbelieving look] Just realized how late it is; nothing’ll be open anyway. We’ll start making calls first thing in the morning.
SAM: [Relaxes, lets himself slump wearily] Good. Cause I’m going to need a few minutes.
[CUT TO: SAM sitting on his motel bed, back against the headboard. DEAN is sitting at the foot of the bed. An open, empty pizza box lies between them.]
SAM: We still don’t know what exactly happened to Rohan.
DEAN: Yeah. But sounds like Vidya just wanted someone to play with.
SAM: You ever hear of a ghost that could put someone into a coma? Or a coma that could be ended with thread?
DEAN: Well, it wasn’t just thread. I mean, Radhika believed in it and she said a prayer. I don’t know, man. [unconsciously fingers the amulet around his neck] Maybe there’s something to the brother-sister thing after all.
SAM: You think that’s why it has to be red? Symbolizing shared blood?
DEAN: All I know is that it worked.
SAM: But why . . . [loses train of thought when he suddenly remembers something] What was that word Rohan used about Vidya?
DEAN: [he has no idea what SAM is talking about] What?
SAM: It was something like “uck.”
DEAN: [now he remembers] Akka. It means older sister. [off SAM’s look] What? I asked Radhika.
SAM: So Rohan was called away by one “sister” and brought back by another?
DEAN: I guess. Where you going with this?
SAM: Just thinking out loud.
DEAN: Look, I don’t want to salt and burn her any more than you do. But we can’t let a spirit with bizarre coma-inducing powers just keep roaming the playground.
SAM: Yeah, I know. [a long look passes between them. SAM closes the pizza box and tosses it to the floor, then gets under the covers.] Night, Dean.
[FADE OUT on boys falling asleep, FADE back in to motel room, the next morning. SAM’s sitting on his bed, talking into his cell phone. DEAN’s sitting in front of the laptop, waiting for info]
SAM: Really? Okay, thanks for your help. [hangs up, turns to DEAN.] Same guy took the school photos and the rehearsal photos. Name’s Junior Colarci. [sees DEAN’s frown] Yes, officially, his name is “Junior.”
DEAN: [shakes his head] Okay. Let’s try it. [types haltingly on the laptop, but SAM knows better than to try to help] No hits. [types again] No record of a Colarci owning any property in Middlesex County.
SAM: Maybe he rents. Not that that helps us.
DEAN: Okay, wait, we’re doing this wrong. Vidya must have died somewhere near the school, right? Rohan said she couldn’t leave the area.
SAM: But we looked, remember? No houses anywhere near that side of the school.
DEAN: We must have missed something.
[CUT TO: the boys walking around the field next to the school playground. They don’t see VIDYA sitting on the ground near the fence, looking lonely, but we do. They are about fifty yards from the fence. They are looking in opposite directions, trying to cover as much ground as possible.]
SAM: Here. [DEAN turns to see what SAM means, sees the cellar, nearly hidden by tall weeds and grass that SAM’s pointing to.] Where the hell’s the house this belongs to?
DEAN: [walks a few yards out, looks at the nearby trees] Must have burned down; trees were scorched at some point.
SAM: [bending at the waist, pulling open the cellar doors] This has to be it. Nothing else around. [gets the doors open, peers into the dark] Damn it.
DEAN: [also looks] Stairs are pretty steep, Sammy. I’m going in.
SAM: You can’t even hold a flashlight, Dean!
DEAN: I’ve only got the little one. I’ll hold it in my mouth if I have to. [doesn’t wait for a response, just goes down the dark steps]
SAM: Be careful.
[“Under Pressure” by Queen with David Bowie starts to play. DEAN does a sweep of the concrete cellar, flashlight in his mouth. There’s one large room, pretty bare except for random junk – wooden planks, a wheelbarrow, some rusty tools. He finds a small door in one corner and pushes it open. He sticks his head in and pulls it back out immediately, spitting the flashlight out into his cupped hands. He retreats into the main room and takes a few deep breaths. Then takes one giant breath, sticks the flashlight under his arm, and races back in. The room is surprisingly clean, though cluttered. The air is thick with the smell of chemicals. There are hundreds of photographs pinned to corkboards, propped up against the walls, and a large table in the center that holds darkroom equipment; the trays all stand empty. DEAN looks at the photographs; they are all of children. As he moves from one corkboard to the next, the beam from the flashlight catches something bright. DEAN turns and sees yellow silk and he runs back to the main room, dropping his head and trying to breathe. He finally steels himself and walks back into the small room, heading straight for the silk, and pulls away one corkboard to reveal VIDYA’s body. He lays one hurt hand on her head then walks to the stairs.]
SAM: You okay?
DEAN: [climbing stairs] It’s done.
[Motel room. SAM is packing a duffel bag, DEAN enters the room with coffee and a bakery bag, looking surprised that SAM is packing.]
SAM: Dr. Venkatram called. The cops just picked up Junior Colarci. His fingerprints were all over that cellar.
DEAN: [nods tightly] And Vidya?
SAM: As Hindu custom dictates, they’re cremating her. We don’t have to salt and burn her. It’s over, Dean.
DEAN: [flatly] Yeah. [beat] C’mon, Sammy, pick up the pace. Don’t want to be here longer than I have to.
SAM: [refusing to get angry] Take this bag out to the car, then. I’ll finish the other one in two minutes.
DEAN: Fine. [slings bag over his shoulder and leaves. His phone starts to ring.]
SAM: [heads toward the phone, but his hip doesn’t let him take more than a few steps. The ringing stops and the phone makes the voicemail chirp. SAM finishes packing. DEAN comes back in.] Done.
DEAN: Great. I checked us out. Let’s shag ass. [grabs the coffee and food, scoops up his phone]
[The boys get in the car, DEAN driving, SAM in the passenger seat. The phone does the voicemail chirp again.]
SAM: Want me to check it?
DEAN: [looking at his hands, curled painfully around the steering wheel] Yeah. [pops in a cassette – Queen’s “We Are the Champions” starts to play]
SAM: Dean. [DEAN looks at SAM, who’s got a huge smile on his face] Dad just woke up.
FADE TO BLACK.
My thanks to the lovely monkiedude for assuring me that the story makes sense. And thanks also to clex_monkie89 for doing research that got me thinking along these lines.
(1) Lenape, New Jersey is fictional. I named it for the Native American nation that lived in what is now New Jersey: the Lenni Lenape. Edison, New Jersey is a real place. There is a very large population of Indian-Americans there. Don’t know if it has a Hindu temple, though.
(2) “Va” means “come on,” or “let’s go.” (Don’t quote me on any of these translations; I’m simply using these words they way my family does (we speak Tamil that’s got some Hindi and a few other languages sprinkled in).
(3) Carom: a game that can best be described as a kind of pool that is played with the fingers. I have no idea if it’s Indian in origin but it is played throughout India. This is what the board looks like.
(4) Salwaar kameez: an outfit worn by Indian women. Loose, harem-style pants with a drawstring waist and a long tunic worn over it. Sometimes with a scarf. I can’t describe it any better than that. Look, I’ll bring one to Winchestercon, okay?
(5) Samosa: a kind of savory turnover – a fried pastry triangle filled with spiced potatoes and peas. Pakora: deep-fried vegetable fritters – think onion rings, but with pretty much any veggie you want. Jilebi: my grandfather’s favorite food of all time. It looks like a funnel cake about the size of your palm. But instead of being solid like a funnel cake, it’s filled with a heavy, very sugary syrup. Mysorepak: a South Indian dessert. Basically, butter and sugar and spices and flour and goodness cut into small diamond-shaped pieces.
(6) “Ayyo” means “alas!” or “oh my God!”
(7) “kondai” means “child” – it’s a very mild term of endearment, not too personal
(8) angstslashhope did a marvelous job compiling the official website into usable parts. Sam’s license really does say “F.”
(9) Om: a sacred syllable with which all Hindu prayer-meetings begin. Not really used as a protective symbol but it does appear in a lot of Hindu artwork. Here’s a picture.
(10) rakhi: pretty much what Uma explains later in the fic. My family never celebrated this festival, and neither do the Krishnans really. Uma lets Radhika do it because Radhika likes the story. In any case, the timing is completely wrong.
(11) Krishna is a Hindu god (the one usually depicted with blue skin). As a youth, he had several affairs, the most famous of which was with Radha, a milkmaid.
(12) The “cousin-sister” thing is true. It can get pretty confusing.
(13) The classical dance is called “bharatnatyam.” It’s gorgeous; you should go to a performance sometime.
(14) The Ramayana is one of the great Hindu epics. To be brief: Rama is the eldest son of a king. When the king decides to step down and make Rama king, one of the king’s wives, to whom the king owes a favor, gets the king to grant her wish. Her wish is that Rama be exiled from the kingdom for a set number of years and in those years her own son will be crowned king. So Rama is exiled and one of his half-brothers, Lakshmana, chooses to go with him; Rama’s wife Sita also goes along (and the half-brother who is put on the throne is so disgusted by his mother’s conniving that he vows to rule only until Rama returns). While the three are living in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, king of the demons. Rama and Lakshmana eventually get her back and they return to their homeland and Rama takes the throne. Rama, egged on by his subjects, does ask Sita to prove that Ravana never touched her, and she does. (And the ending in which the earth swallows her up is something that really is passed along from mother to daughter – my mother told me this ending after I’d read the published version, in which Rama and Sita reign happily and fairly over their subjects.)
(15) “akka” means elder sister. It’s a term of respect as well as a literal one.
(16) A pavadai is an outfit worn by prepubescent girls (a sari can only be worn after a girl first gets her period). It is a tight cotton blouse with short sleeves and a bell-like skirt made of heavy silk. The skirt has an elaborate border much like a sari. Technically, a pavadai is not what would be worn for a bharatnatyam performance, but the elementary dance class is too young to be performing proper bharatnatyam in any case.