Rock of Ages
Salvation AU, Gen, (Leigh, Sam, Sarah)
Summary: All of the Winchester girls are special in their own way, but Leigh is the one who remembers.
Notes: This doesn't fall in anyplace specifically in the timeline, more character study than anything. More notes follow the story.
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The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
It wasn't exactly true to say she remembered being a baby, of being so small her father could hold her with one hand, or that she exactly remembered his lips blowing raspberries on her tummy to make her laugh while he quickly and very expertly changed her diaper while she lay on his desk in his office.
Her father kept his desk very neat, but not uncluttered. It was a big desk, wide and deep and perfectly large enough to hold three little girls aged between one and five, all at once. Aside from work, he kept things on his desk: some in a leather box, bound like a book; stones and extra keys, a clay cup Allie made for him in the first grade. On his desk he had interesting paperweights, bits of brass and braided twine shapes and stamps, a clay seal inscribed with patterns and rough rubbed paint that her Uncle Dean had brought him from some place in Arizona.
Underneath where daddy kept his chair and his long legs, was a perfectly good sized cubbyhole for a castle, or a fort, or a cave, or a play house. The wood was smooth and honey gold and her blanket fit perfectly fine in between the two sides and Daddy didn't mind if they hung blankets or towels over the open side facing the door (weighted down with the desk lamp and file folders and reference books to make it more cozy.
He never minded them going in the drawers of his desk, to look for pens or paper or the stapler for whatever art project they were working on -- all except for the locked one and Daddy and Mommy were the only ones allowed to touch those keys.
The top of his desk was fun too, when it wasn't covered in files or paperwork. It was sturdy enough to dance on, to play rock star in the year Uncle Dean got Allie a Mr. Microphone, and Daddy would turn up the CD play loud and sing with them and sometimes Mommy too, and then there was stage diving into the safety of Daddy's arms.
The desk top was only unavailable when Daddy was working, and then she was perfectly happy to sit underneath with her blankets or stuffed animals or soft books. She didn't know if Mary and Allie had spent as much time as she did in her Daddy's office, but the cubby under the desk was to be shared, and Leigh knew that from very early on, but she liked be under there with her Daddy sitting at his desk and sometimes she'd pretend to be working to and Daddy never minded giving her a pen or sharpening her pencils for her, or passing her a juice box when Mommy sometimes brought him coffee.
And she could remember her Daddy saying more than once when Mommy or Allie or anyone would ask if she was bothering him, or if he wanted someone to carry her to bed, "No, she's fine. She's okay where she is," and Leigh would poke her head out and grin at her Daddy and he at her and they'd go back to their companionable quiet. She would talk or laugh everywhere else but under the desk, in her daddy's office always made her feel quieter and Daddy never seemed to mind if she sang to herself under there or told her animals stories, or taught them their abc's.
It was a family story told later, when she was bigger. When she could still fit under the desk but her legs or head would stick out one side or the other if she lay down. But her parents and her sisters told it like it was the best thing ever, so Leigh didn't mind them telling it, even when they told it to friends. "When Leigh was little she used to sit under Sam's desk for hours…"
She remembered the desk like she remembered her father's voice in dreams, like she knew her mother's laughter in any gathering large or small, and the soft, sweet kisses that followed her into sleep for as long as she actually could remember.
There was a smooth stone on her father's desk, tan and brown and polished, not entirely by water but by countless hands upon hands, fingers that had rubbed the stone smooth over time. There were still indentations on top, on the smooth rounded dome of it where some sea creature, a million years dead had died over sand and then been buried and compressed, until the sand became hard and filled in all the crevasses and curves and whorls of the creature's shell and left a mirror image of itself in the rock, a solid negative.
Someone had picked it up and marveled at it, been fascinated by the whorls and patterns, had found delight in its age and its rough texture and held onto it, for luck or joy or magic.
It had passed on. She wasn't sure how many hands or families the stone passed before it came to her father. A lot, because the stone was worn smooth from the passing of thousands of thumbs, the rub of hundreds of pockets. She'd known none of it until the day her father laid her on the desk and her very small hands had flung out and found the stone and brought it her mouth while her father made funny noises as he changed her diaper. Big enough not to swallow and he'd let her have it.
She didn't remember that but the stone did and then and after, on his desk, where he'd talk to her or tickle her and she'd find the stone and hold it and rub it and sometimes try to eat it, or carry it with her to the deep cubby underneath and listen to her father on the phone or working on his computer.
And listen to the stories the stone had to tell her.
The stone wasn't the only thing, only it took her awhile to notice that other things had stories too, some short, curt messages, single impressions. Others that had stories older than she was.
There was the very, very fancy hair comb her mother had in her jewelry box -- the good jewelry box that held only a few things, up and off her dresser where small hands might grab. The one she pulled out once or twice a year when she and Daddy had something fancy to go to. When Daddy would get dressed up in his tuxedo and probably have gone to get a hair cut earlier in the day, and Mommy would be dressed in a dress that came to the floor and whooshed and swished and whispered when she moved.
She knew the comb belonged to her Grandma Blake even before she'd been allowed to touch it. Grandma Blake who none of them had ever met, not even Daddy. Just like Grandma Winchester. Pictures and words were all they had of her, and all of those were old and faded, even the words. Grandma Blake was more familiar, the pictures not as old and Mommy had lots of them and after Grandpa Blake died they even had a picture of all of them from when Mommy was very young, to mirror the one they had of their own family, done when Leigh was about four.
But the hair comb was special as were the necklaces that Mommy was saving for all of them when they were old enough to take care of them.
So Leigh wasn't surprised that she got a whole lot of Grandma Blake when she held the comb for the first time. She held it carefully, she didn't need to squeeze it or anything for it to start telling her things.
She knew what Grandma Blake's laugh sounded like -- it was very much like her mother's but slightly different. She knew that her Grandma Blake had called her mother "see-saw" when she was very small. The first time she said it she hadn't really meant to because while she might not be as smart as Mary or as grown up as Allie was always trying to be, she was smart enough to know that not everyone could hear the stories she heard or saw what she saw, felt what she felt. But she didn't feel bad at saying it because it had made her mother smile, and her eyes got all bright like they did only when the best things happened, but Leigh was at a loss to explain how she knew it.
"She must have heard your father say it," her daddy said when Mommy had asked and Leigh had been unsure how to explain.
"I guess," Mommy said and had picked Leigh up to sit on her lap even though she was wearing her pretty dress. "You ready, La-La-La-Leigh?" she asked and Leigh had offered her the pronged hair clasp with its stones and shiny bits and watched her Daddy slide the long comb teeth into mother's upswept hair and then bent down to kiss her.
"What do you think, Leigh. Is Mommy the prettiest mommy anywhere ever?"
Leigh agreed completely. She was pretty sure Grandma Blake would have thought so too.
Sometimes what things had to say wasn't about others who had touched them but themselves, like the third step on the back deck that she sat on once and felt its weakness and its -- not so much sadness but failure. She started skipping over it when she went up or down the stairs until her father asked her why.
"It's afraid it's going to break," she told him. She found him out there the next day, removing it, and saw the long crack and split in the wood. He put a new step in place while she watched and then gathered up his tools and the broken wood. "If anything else feels like it's going to break or...needs to be fixed, would you tell me, please?"
"Okay," she said and in the span of a week, her father fixed the chair in the kitchen that Allie liked to sit in tipped back, replaced the post on their mailbox where it had rotted and put in a metal post, and cut new slats for her bed where the old one had started to crack.
She knew her parents talked about it, between themselves and with Uncle Dean, but no one seemed mad or asked her about it.
There were some things she didn't want to touch, things that made her snatch her hand back quickly with only a hint of what they had to say. She found that out exploring her father's shelves, and finding a small square box. Inside was a flattened piece of metal. The box itself had a rumbly dark feel, the metal inside was sharp and shrieky-loud for a flash of a second and she'd never touched it again; could only wonder why her father kept such a thing.
She remembered grabbing her uncle's amulet once and getting the equivalent of a small hand slap. Not painful but surprising enough to startle her -- enough for Uncle Dean to notice. "What's wrong, Leigh?"
"It bit me," was the only way she could describe it and Uncle Dean had lifted the tiny carved face too look at it.
"It's got little horns so you have to be careful how you grab it," he said and pulled it off to drape the cord around Leigh's neck. It wasn't the tiny horns, but when Uncle Dean put it on her and she touched it carefully, it didn't bite again, nor did it tell her anything but she could feel it underneath, like a book she couldn't get to open. She wore it for a little bit, though, holding it all the while, like she could convince it that she loved her Uncle Dean and wouldn't ever do anything to hurt him. She still couldn't get anything out of it but the next time she touched it, a few days alter, she could feel herself imprinted on the metal, just another layer outside the hum beneath, dulling it a little.
Not everything she touched, or even most things, had stories to tell her. Even old things. It didn't seem to matter what they were made off -- stone or metal, wood or plastic. All of those things had their own shades of tone…but what the objects were made of didn't seem to matter to what, if any, stories they had to tell. She didn't hear stories from living things, not people or animals or plants, and combinations of things didn't tell her anything because she'd tried, after her mother nearly had an accident when one of the tires on her car went flat suddenly, to touch both her mother's car and her dad's and see if she could tell if anything else was wrong. It didn't work that way. Maybe if she'd touched the tire…and sometimes she did, but after that Daddy was way more careful about having the tires checked or rotated or replaced than he had been.
She had her own little box of things she found or been given that had the best stories, stories she never got tired of hearing -- feathers and rocks and a very old baby rattle that had been her mother's. Ribbons from her mother's wedding bouquet.
But for all she found and touched she still liked the stone on her father's desk the best, forever, even when she old enough to recognize the fossils from her science books, was old enough not to want to put it in her mouth. She didn't need to keep it with her all the time, but sometimes when she was worried or upset she would go find it where it lay on her father's desk and hold it -- not just for the stories of people and places and ages she didn't know but because it held her and her Daddy too. Her happy baby thoughts and her father's low voice and sure, gentle hands, the way he made sure her diapers had no creases or folds to aggravate and how all done and clean he would pick her up and hold her and rock her or just sit with her on his lap until she fell asleep.
Her Dad had caught her holding it more than once, had offered more than once. "You can have it, sweetheart. I know you like it."
Leigh only shook her head and put it in his hand and closed her fingers over it. "I know where it is. I like best that it yours."
Because her father held that stone too, when he was thinking, when he was talking with Uncle Dean or her Mom, on the phone, working through a problem. His big thumb smoothed over the lingering rough spots and he thought about her sometimes or her sisters, all of them, and laid down the memories and the feelings into the stone where they would stay forever.
The rock would be hers someday and she didn't need Mary or her father's foresight to know it. Until then she wanted it to take up all the stories it could and hold them for her for when she needed them, for when they'd be all she had left.
And then she'd pass it on.
Additional notes: One of the things that has come up again and again when gekizetsu and I discuss this universe is both the metaphors and analogs all the Winchesters represent. There's definitely the supposition that in some ways, Dean and Sam, while complete in themselves are still composites of something else, that together they make up third. Their daughters, specifically, also make up a kind of composite and whole of something else, that in other stories we've only seen hints of, that their gifts are meant to fit together the same way Sam and Dean's do on some level.
Leigh is a few months older than Charlie, and thus far her character hasn't been as well defined: She's the easy child, the happy child, not always quiet but rarely the center of attention like her age mate, and she's good with that. Charlie can be the center of attention all she wants with her antics, and her abilities, and her fierce love.
If her sisters and cousin are the eyes and ears and strength of their odd little circle of power, then Leigh is the memory, and quite possibly the heart of this other whole they become. If Mary is the one who can see their future, then Leigh is the holder of their history.