[Genre]: Genfic/Alternate Universe
[Warnings]: Language, violence.
[Word Count]: 5674
[Summary]: Something had changed, but Ed couldn't pin down what.
Ed woke with a start. He was battle-ready in an instant, even before he was fully awake he was scanning the room for danger, pumped full of adrenaline. No danger was forthcoming, so he relaxed his grip on the knife tucked under his pillow and sat up, one hand running through the bangs clinging to his cheeks with sweat.
What had disturbed him? Something still felt wrong - there was something off about everything and his inability to pin down what was strange was keeping him on edge. "Al?" Ed's voice was hoarse in the darkness of the room. He swung his legs off the side of the bed and glanced around, as if seeing the room for the first time.
"What is it?" Al's voice came from the other side of the room and Ed turned - there was Al, sitting at the tiny table tucked in the corner of the motel room, lit from below by the laptop screen. Al frowned at him. "Ed, what's wrong?"
Unexpectedly, Ed's gut twisted. Something was wrong and he had no idea what it could be. Something was wrong with Al, and it was his fault but no, there was nothing wrong with him - he was sitting at the laptop, papers spread out around him while he researched the patterns that had brought them to this small town.
Ed rubbed the heel of his palm into one eye and tried to shake off the feeling. Al in his arms, warm blood seeping through Ed's desperate fingers overlaid by the strange image of Al just, just disappearing no matter how hard Ed tried to catch him. The desperation clung about him, and even now as the haze of sleep detached the feeling wasn't dissipating. "No," he said hoarsely. "Nothing's wrong, Al." He looked up at his brother, catching the quick dash of worry in his brother's copper eyes. "Where are we?" he added, glancing around the room. He really didn't remember falling asleep in a bed...
"A motel, Ed," Al said dryly, his attention falling back to his laptop now that it was obvious his older brother was just being, well, Ed.
"Shut up," Ed groaned, on hand flat over the side of his face. He screwed his eyes tightly shut, but everything was muzzy. "I remember some chick at the bar we were at, think she had red hair and a good ass and we were working on a third bottle of cheap tequila... fuck." That would explain the nausea. That would explain a lot of things, actually.
Ed stood up wobbly and tested his sense of balance. There was already a dull throb between his eyes, signaling the start of a nasty hangover. "What time is it?" He glanced over his shoulder for the clock.
"Too early," Al said, glancing back up at Ed.
"Did you even sleep?" Ed staggered toward the duffel that was thrown on the dresser. He growled in frustration at the fact that the bag of chips he bought two days ago was down to crumbles. "I'm hungry," he complained, crumbling the bag into a ball and flinging it in the general direction of the garbage can.
Ed lurched comically for the door, and Al started to get out of his seat but Ed waved him off. "I need some fresh air, I think I saw a vending machine by the business office. I'll be back in a few."
He could feel Al's concerned eyes on him as he staggered out the door, but didn't stop or look at him. He didn't want to deal with questions, annoying questions. He was fine - he was, he just couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, or wrong with Al, or wrong with anything. Ed swayed outside the motel's door, disoriented. The lot was full of cars, and he could see the bright neon of some greasy spoon over the roof of the opposite strip of rooms.
The more he looked around, the more disoriented he felt. This was bizarre, he'd never felt this out of sorts before. He'd been drugged, beaten, shot, hallucinated ... a whole wide spectrum of crap he never wanted to experience again and never once had he felt like this. If anything, it reminded him of the haze between sleep and awake but more ... stretched out.
The world tilted slightly but it was just Ed swaying, so he leaned back against the wall, fighting the nausea as it resurfaced. This wasn't a hangover, this was something else entirely. He was being swallowed by it and try as he might, if he thought hard on something the memories were muzzy but if he let them float to him they were crystal clear.
Al. Focus on something, otherwise you'll lose yourself. Ed closed his eyes and pressed the palm of his hand to his temple. The early morning was chilly, the thin undershirt Ed was wearing wasn't adequate against the cold and the hair on his arms were standing up.
Why was it that every time he thought of Al, conflicting images surfaced, cool metal, metal glinting in the moonlight, strange inhuman eyes.... Every time the image loomed in his mind he could feel the guilt as it welled up, starting in nausea in his stomach and building up until he couldn't swallow. None of it made any sense at all.
He heard the door to their room click open and he glanced up to see Al standing in the doorway, blurry-eyed and in need of a shave. Al yawned, scratching under his chin, his dark straw-colored hair almost brushing the top of the door frame. "You okay?" He was eying Ed with some concern. "I can run over to the diner and grab us some breakfast and coffee if you want."
"Sure," the word stuck in Ed's throat, and he rubbed his jaw blearily. "Find anything useful?" He wasn't surprised at the prick of stubble himself, he hadn't shaved in a few days. He'd take care of that in the shower later.
"Not really," Al grunted, stepping back into the room so Ed would follow. "No real leads on what's going on, no real useful information."
"'Cept a bunch of stiffs in the county morgue," Ed snorted.
"They all died the same way," Al said, stripping off his tee shirt and fishing around for a clean one. "Aside from that, nothing. Male school teacher, female college student, a grocer ... none of them related at all."
"Did it ever cross your mind it could just be a coincidence?" Ed asked, sitting on the bed. "Or just a real, human serial killer?"
"A killer who bleeds the victims dry without a puncture mark," Al said, dripping sarcasm as he grabbed his wallet and the keys off of the dresser.
"So it's a stretch," Ed said.
"I'll be back in twenty minutes," Al said, pointing a finger at him. "Ed? Don't go anywhere, seriously. You're acting strange."
"What are you, my mom?" Ed growled as Al shut the door behind him. "Bitch!" he called at the closed door. When there was no response, he kicked his feet out and flopped back onto the bed, glaring at the ceiling. "Freak," he muttered, hoping at least that the cracks running through the ceiling would agree with him. With no response forthcoming, Ed tossed his arm over his eyes and groaned, slipping uneasily back into sleep.
His dreams were not dreams, if he could ever really believe he dreamed after ... that. Red and black, they were full of splattered blood and wrought flesh, torn limbs and eyes, too many eyes. Flame and metal, chalk on concrete and blood, there was always so much blood...
Ed woke with a start when Al put a large hand on his shoulder to shake him awake. "Ed, are you sure you're all right?" Al's eyes were full of concern, and just a touch of suspicion. Ed's own eyes narrowed reflexively as he swung himself into a sitting position. He looked at the styrofoam boxes on the dresser and the cardboard cups full of coffee that probably had more in common with transmission fluid than anything stomachable. Ed shook his head a few times, trying to clear the images from his mind. He was aware the longer he let the silence lay between them the more questions Al would throw at him later.
"I'm fine," he said gruffly, grabbing at one of the cups of coffee and taking a swig of it, nearly gagging at the taste. The hot liquid helped, though, as it scalded its way down his throat. Focusing on the pain brought him back down to earth. He glanced up over the cup to see Al staring at him. He put the coffee cup down and stood up, stretching his arms out over his head. "I'm gonna take a shower," he said.
Al nodded, watching him before Ed paused in the threshold of the bathroom. "I'm going to head out," he said as he stood up. "I'm getting nowhere here, maybe a change of scenery. I'll give Bobby another call, I still haven't heard back from him," Al added, concern crossing his face.
"He's probably busy," Ed said, looking at himself in the mirror. Eyes bloodshot, scruffier than usual, hair hanging limp and greasy. He looked drugged out and for a split second his reflection looked different. Younger, longer hair. Brighter eyes, without the weight of years on the road and the burden of hell - Ed reached out to smack the glass barehanded and the reflection seemed to melt back to himself.
"Go on," Ed grunted, not looking up and knowing that Al's lanky form filled the majority of the doorway. "I'll be fine. I just, just need to clear my head or something."
Al hesitated - Ed could tell he didn't want to go but he needed to. They were getting nowhere on this case and it was frustrating them both beyond all reasoning. Without a word Al ducked his head and vanished out of Ed's peripheral vision. Ed waited for the click of the door to rest his forehead against the cool mirror and close his eyes.
The shower hissed and sprayed, the water not hard enough to be useful in getting a lather. Ed stood with his head under the spray and tried to concentrate on getting his thoughts in line. This wasn't normal, he wasn't like this. What had happened yesterday that had caused this? They had arrived in town, rolled in just as usual.
There was nothing strange or out of the ordinary in his memory of the last few days that would indicate tampering in their lives. Investigated the latest death, hit a local joint for dinner where Ed got a little too friendly with one of the waitresses and got a little too sauced and then they were here.
Ed focused on the task at hand. Wash his hair, shave, brush his teeth, don't think about things just do them. Scrub the grime and dirt off, run the washcloth over the raised mark on his shoulder and rub the soap into the few new wounds that hadn't quite closed or healed over yet. The mild stinging actually seemed soothing, it helped ground him and make the daze slowly fade away.
Showered, dressed and munching on a cold piece of bacon he felt much better. The sun was up now, and he dropped into the seat Al had abandoned, running over some of the notes his younger brother had made in the night. Al hadn't been sleeping and Ed felt like he slept too much, things that weighed heavily on his mind. Al seemed a stranger, far most distant than he had been. Before Ed ....
Didn't bear thinking about. Ed ran a finger down a page of notes, frowning. Al was right, nothing at all. Dead ends, all of them. Al was still doing research and here Ed was, left to pace the motel room and try to figure out the connection between these deaths and every bit of lore he'd ever collected. Nothing was clicking and it was frustrating.
Flipping through their dad's journal was equally frustrating, all signs pointed to something like a vampire but vampires tore out throats, tore out stomachs they left puncture wounds and evidence behind. Not bloodless corpses.
Aggravated, Ed flipped his cell phone open to call Al, but the call went straight to voice mail. Ed stared at his phone in confusion - they never turned off their phones, ever. It was a safety precaution so they could locate each other easily. He swore under his breath and shoved the phone into his back pocket, Ed stormed out of the motel room, barely registering that he should grab his jacket. The car was gone, of course - he'd known and even let Al take it - so he jammed his hands into the pockets of his coat and headed toward the center of town on foot.
He stopped by the widow of the school teacher, ran a few more leads down and kept busy the entire morning, the whole time keeping an eye out for the car parked somewhere on the road. Al probably went further than the center of this dinky town, but Ed had no idea what he'd be up to. The distance was just so vast between them. Ed paused on the street to look up at the November sky. It was a bright blue and sunny, even if it was bitingly cold.
Ed remembered ... playing in the leaves with Al, jumping in great big piles of them, laughing but at the same time he remembered cold winter afternoons in hotel rooms that stank of old cigarette smoke and musk, trying to keep Al occupied with cartoons on the old TV while he took apart and put together his gun for the fifteenth time.
The memories were too contradictory. He and Al had never lived in a house, not like that. They'd lived in homes, staying with friends for weeks at a time but ... Ed shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He glanced over and saw the Impala parked in front of a coffee house and snorted with relief. He headed in that direction.
Something made Ed pause and peer in the window before heading toward the entrance. There was Al, sitting at a small table with a handful of books at his elbow and laptop propped open. Seated across from him was a woman, dark-haired, nice curves...
Ed's heart felt like it froze in his chest.
Al came waltzing through the motel room door. "It's a demon," he said when Ed looked up. "One of the ones that got loose from the Devil's Trap, I don't know what it's up to with all the blood it's amassing but he should be easy to track down."
"Yeah," Ed said heavily, not looking at Al. "Did your witch give you all the details?"
Al stiffened, stopped by the bed. "Ed-"
"I thought we had an agreement," Ed snapped, looking up at Al angrily. "We don't need her kind of help, Al!"
"I didn't ask for her help," Al snapped. "I'm not going to turn away good information, no matter where it comes from!"
Ed stood up, fist balled, and Al spread his hands. "You want to take a swing at me, go right the fuck ahead," Al spat right back. "She wants to help, Ed, she doesn't want the fucking apocalypse any more than we do, I don't know why-"
"She's a goddamned DEMON," Ed shouted. "I know you have a hard time getting this through your skull but she's a fucking demon possessing someone, you can't trust her!"
"Yeah but we can trust your pet angel, is that right?"
Ed slammed his hand flat on the table and shoved past Al, scooping the keys off of the dresser and stomping out the door. As the door slammed behind Ed, Al punched the wall, shoulders bunched tight. "Fuck!"
Ed didn't think, he just drove. By the time he had cooled down the car was close to empty so he pulled into a gas station on the edge of town to fill the Impala up. He never liked dealing with demons, to him demons were something to be exorcised, wiped from the face of the earth no questions asked, and Al used to be the same way. What had changed?
Maybe Al really wasn't all right. Maybe Bobby was right. Ed swallowed hard.
He leaned against the side of his car, looked up at the overhang that shielded him from the evening sky. They had a hunt, that was the first thing that needed to be dealt with. Deal with this demon, exorcise it, and then - then maybe once and for all close the book on this Ruby thing.
As he was getting into the Impala, his cell phone went off. Ed pulled it out and flipped it open without looking at it, by the ring tone he knew it was all. "Yeah."
"It looks like whatever the demon's ganking fresh blood for is supposed to happen tonight," Al said without preamble.
"What sort of ritual involves that much fresh blood? And for that matter, why suck it out of people like that, why not just hit a blood bank?"
"It has something to do with sacrificial victims I think," Al said. "I don't have the specifics, but whatever it's for is very, very bad - Ruby seemed to think it would take place in a church, and there are two in town. One's abandoned." He paused. "Ed?"
"Don't," Ed said. "I'll be there in twenty minutes to pick you up. We're going to put this bastard back where he belongs."
The demon, fortunately, was not hard to track down. She didn’t seem entirely surprised that hunters had shown up on her trail, but her face lit with absolute delight when she realized it was the Elrics tracking her down. Ed and Al had walked completely into her trap. With one sweep of her arm she'd knocked the Colt out of his hands, throwing Ed back against the wall. Al had moved quickly, but she was faster than he was, striking Al a harsh blow that sent him back, head over heels.
Ed struggled forward against the invisible forces holding him back. Al was lying against the wall, blood seeping from the head wound the demon had dealt him. She hissed again, smirking like a cat before turning toward Ed, her eyes the color of coal.
This wasn't right at all, this couldn't be happening. Ed yanked at the invisible tendrils of power and something lit inside his head, he could see the energy and it wasn't same as the demonic power that was being used to bind him, but he didn't know how to grab it or harness it or what to do with it. "Bitch," Ed spat at her as she got close to him, dark eyes reflecting nothing, not even the light in the room. She grinned malevolently and her eyes shuttered back into some vestige of normalcy.
"Tsk, tsk," she purred, one fingernail like a claw on his cheek. "You Elrics are always so ... predictable."
Ed tried to jerk his head away. "I don't know what you want with us, why not just kill us and get it over with?" With her attention on his face he had managed to work his hand free of the invisible forces that were binding him and he was using the blood running down his arm. He didn't know what he was using it for, or drawing with it but he let whatever it was control the sensation. "Don't tell me you were behind those murders, 'cause if you were? Babe, you're a rank amateur."
She snorted, left a long scratch down the side of his face. Ed tried jerking his head away again and she hesitated, then her eyes widened. "How did you get-"
The energy that was crackling on the edges of his perception harnessed through the symbol he had drawn with his own blood on the wall. The wall itself shifted around him and shot forward, impaling the demon through the center of her chest. She was thrown backwards by the impact and Ed knew it wouldn't kill the demon, just her host. That didn't matter at the moment because the second the spike hit her he was free, dropping to his knees and dragging one torn sleeve across his forehead to smear the blood there and keep it out of his eyes.
She was already sitting up and he rolled forward, scooping the gun up from where it fell between them and drawing a bead before she could get her wits about her coherently. The demon stood up warily and glared at him.
"Try me," Ed gritted through his teeth, aim never wavering. "I will send you right the fuck to hell, bitch."
The demon shrugged. Then abruptly she arched backwards, her head cocking back as black smoke streamed out of the host's body. Freed, the demon dissipated into the night and the host crumpled to the ground, dead before she hit the floor.
Ed didn't move for a long moment, expecting the demon to possess another hapless soul and be back with reinforcements. One minute stretched into two, then five, and finally he shifted, legs cramping.
The wall was still in its strange position, honed to a deadly point where it had penetrated the demon's host. Ed knelt next to Al, checking him - he was fine, if bleeding, but Al had a hard head, he was already starting to stir. After checking the girl to ensure she was dead and there was no need to call an ambulance, Ed walked around the strange - thing - he had made the wall do. He didn't know how he had done that, or what even he had actually done. Ed crouched by the strange figure he had drawn in his blood - it looked almost like one of the seals they used to trap demons in the first place; but simpler. Al groaned and sat up slowly.
Ed glanced over at Al, then ran his hand through the blood, obscuring the symbol before it dried completely.
Al sat back in his chair, an ice pack balanced on his forehead and looking much the worse for wear. For once it was Ed with his head bowed over the table with Bobby.
"It looks like a seal from Solomon," Bobby had said right off the back. "But it's much too simple, there aren't nearly enough lines to it to do much of anything." He had turned and loaded Ed's arms with books, and they spread out all over any free space on the table, on top of already open books and half-finished notes.
The more Ed looked at the symbol, the more achingly familiar it became. Ed scowled at it, tracing the lines idly with a pencil while Bobby flipped through yet another book that was three times Bobby's age, easy.
"I've seen it before," Ed said, tapping his pencil against his scratch paper.
"Where?" Bobby didn't look up.
"Hell if I know!" Ed slammed his pencil down, aggravated. The only thing that resulted was the snapping the graphite out of the pencil. Ed swore colorfully, earning a groan from Al, and dropped the pencil on the paper. It lay across the symbol's design, little broken pieces of lead scattered around it.
Ed could see it again, at the edges of his perception. The strange blue flicker, almost like electricity but again nothing like it that he had ever seen. Carefully, Ed placed two fingers on the image itself and he could feel the flicker ignite, flow through his body and he imagined the pencil lead whole, not a piece missing. Ed didn't realize he had closed his eyes until he heard Bobby mutter a quiet "oh, hell."
When Ed opened his eyes, it was to see the pencil whole across the paper, and the symbol gone.
"What just happened?" Ed stared at the pencil in bewilderment, and then looked up at Bobby. Bobby shook his head and Ed narrowed his eyes. "Bobby, what just happened?"
Al had stood up, a look of amazement on his face. "Ed, what did you just do?"
"What did I do? I closed my eyes for a second, what the hell happened?"
Bobby slammed the book open on the table, making the brothers jump. "It's an array," he said, poking a finger into the book, stabbing at it as if it could bite him. "It's a goddamned alchemy array, Ed, what the hell did you do?"
"An alchemy array?" Ed frowned at Bobby, about to say something completely asinine when the tickle in his head got louder, more insistent and then the flash of chalk scraping across concrete, chalk-covered hands blood splattered on walls eyes oh fucking hell the eyes-
"ED!" A hearty smack on the back from Al brought Ed back to himself in a hurry. Ed was curled up against the table; both hands on his head and eyes squeezed shut and watering. "Ed, fuck Ed are you all right? What the hell just happened?"
"I - Al, I don't know," His voice seemed hoarse to him. "There were eyes, so many fucking eyes and the blood-" He looked up at Al and there was panic in his eyes. "Al, I don't know what's going on-"
"Was it ... hell?" Al's voice had dropped to quiet, even though Bobby was privy to what had occurred.
Ed shook his head sharply. "No, this was different. Not better, not worse, just ... different." He swallowed hard and looked up, to see that Bobby was offering him a glass full of water. Ed took it gratefully and gulped it and the moment it was gone Bobby replaced the glass with a beer.
He let Ed recover, and picked up the pencil to inspect it. The pencil didn't seem warped or tainted, and as a test he wrote a line across a piece of paper, duplicating the array that Ed had doodled on his scratch paper. "Do you know how you did it?"
Ed shook his head. "I don't - it just, it just happened like it was waiting for me to put my fingers there and just will it to occur."
Al frowned at the book. "The alchemy that crazy doc was using didn't look like this at all," He snapped his fingers and pointed at Ed. "What was that - that image, in Dad's notebook-"
He duplicated the image without having to think on it, sketching it quickly on the page. "An ouroboros," Ed said. "The end is the beginning," he said, tapping the part of the drawing where the winged serpent devoured its own tail. "What about it?"
When Ed lifted his head to meet Al's eyes he was surprised at the amazement there. "I didn't expect you to remember that," Al said, shaking his head.
"Yeah, well. I'm surprising myself," Ed muttered, taking a long swig of his beer.
"Do ya think you could do it again?" Bobby asked, leaning on the table.
Ed blinked. "Let's find out."
They spent the better part of the day in Bobby's junkyard, Ed drawing large concentric circles in the dirt with Al occasionally helping, adding lines and triangles and symbols that Ed suddenly etched in the dirt. Without fail, if Ed knew how it worked and with the right materials he could duplicate it.
"I don't know what to tell you," Bobby had said heavily when the set off later that evening. "I don't like it, for damn sure. Keep out of trouble."
Two days later, Ed was laying flat across the bench seat in the Impala, both arms thrown up over his eyes. The sun was glinting off of various metal bits in the car and his headache had reappeared with a vengeance. He couldn't look into things that reflected, his reflection was wrong somehow.
Al was in the library. Ed had finally had enough and gone to lie down, since the librarian gave him dirty looks if he did it on the floor. They'd been at it for hours upon hours, but there seemed no logical connection or reason for Ed to have suddenly developed the ability that alchemists spent lifetimes pursuing. Transmutation, the literal mutation of things using a focused energy that Ed couldn't put easily into words. It didn't make a lick of sense to him and yet somehow he knew how to do it, how the figures worked and how the symbols harnessed the flow of energy and how to direct it to do exactly what he wanted.
There had to be some way to summon the damn angel, the same way there was a way to summon demons, but Ed was tired of research. His eyes ached from staring at small writing against yellowed paper, tightly knit scrawl printed in hand-bound pages. It wasn't worth it, the prick would show his neck whenever he damn well felt like showing up - and not a moment beforehand. Probably once they got closer to a seal.
When Al knocked against the window above Ed's head, he managed not to crack his head on the steering column. Instead he lifted one wrist off his eyes and glared. "Any luck?"
"None," Al said as he opened up the passenger side door. Ed sat up obligingly, rubbing his eyes against the glare of afternoon sun and scooting over, leaning both arms against the wheel. "Wonder-fucking-ful," Ed groaned. "I can deal with demons and seals and even the stupid apocalypse, I just wish the freaky shit would leave me the hell alone."
Al shrugged. "Everything I could find on it confirmed what I'd dug up before when we were dealing with Benton - it's not a magic at all, so we don't have to worry about you accidentally auctioning off parts of your soul to demonic forces or anything. It's all based in a very strange, very archaic science."
Ed grunted, turning the key in the ignition. "Still fucked up," he said. "But I guess I can deal. There are worse situations to be in."
There was no response from Al, so Ed glanced at him with a frown. Al shrugged again when he saw Ed looking at him, and leaned back against the seat. "I've got nothing. We lost the demon that was responsible for the string of deaths, there's nothing left here. Where do you want to head to?"
Ed hesitated, leaning both arms and then his chin on the steering wheel. The sunlight glimmered off the blacktop but didn't give him any answers; any leads that he could think of. "It wouldn't have gone far," Ed said thoughtfully. "We could still track it-"
"How?" Al sounded derisive and Ed glared at him. "What, you want to go around town and 'Christo' everyone we meet, Ed?"
"It's an idea," Ed said defensively. "Besides, the demon wasn't working alone. The things she was drawing in the blood weren't summoning symbols, it was some sort of binding, sealing deal."
Now Al hesitated. "Sealing? What would a demon want to seal?"
"See?" Ed said. "There's still work to do here."
"The demon you seek is no longer in this town," Castiel said, seated in the back seat.
"JESUS!" Ed jumped, and Al jerked out of his reclining position. They both turned simultaneously to stare at the angel.
"Blasphemy," Castiel said mildly, looking unperturbed.
"What the hell are you doing in my CAR?" Ed yelped, never minding the fact that he was wishing for a way to summon the angel not ten minutes prior.
"You need to head west," Castiel repeated, sidestepping the question and leaning back in the seat, folding his hands neatly in his lap.
"What's west from here?" Al asked.
Ed shook his head. "It's gotta be another seal, isn't it?" Castiel nodded mutely, and Ed muttered under his breath. "Thought so."
"Too many seals have already been breached," Castiel said warningly. "We can't afford to lose another one."
"Yeah, yeah." Ed waved his hand in the air. "So the little ritual we interrupted the demon doing, does that have to do with the seal as well?"
Castiel shook his head. "That demon in particular is a follower of Azazel and had no particular vested interest in Lilith's crusade, but regardless it did strike out toward the seal as well." The angel's striking blue eyes pinned Ed. "There is a great significance in this seal, in particular to you."
"Does it have to do with this alchemy shit that's been popping up?" Ed shrugged his shoulders loosely. "Because, really. What's up with that?"
"Alchemy?" Castiel's brow furrowed in consternation. "Tell me."
Ed exchanged glances with Al, who shrugged back. Ed told him from the point the strangeness started, leaving out significant details like his inability to remember his brother's name some days and the reflection thing, which was really starting to get on his nerves. Castiel absorbed this and nodded shortly. "Do not utilize this ... power," he warned. "We do not know where it originates from."
"It's not a magic," Ed said. "It's science," he looked over at Al, who nodded as well.
"It is science," Al said. "It deconstructs matter down to its simplest form and reconstructs it-"
"What energy is used to create such a transformation?" Castiel looked between the brothers. "Do not use this power until we discover its true nature," he warned. "I will investigate it. In the meantime, you two should head west. You will know when to stop."
Ed opened his mouth to protest further but he blinked and Castiel was gone. Ed growled something utterly obscene and blasphemous about meddling angels and Al wisely ignored him; Ed started the engine and shifted the car out of park. Without a word they drove off.
x-posted to my writing journal, rocksalt_rifle.