My entry for the 2018 Brothers Apart tumblr contest. I wanted to write something with @nightmares06‘s Walt Watch, since he’s one of my favorites and he recently had some huge character development in the latest story of the Brothers Apart AU. This is set sometime in the weeks/months after the first story, after Sam has left with Dean under the assumption that Walt didn’t survive the events of that story.
Hope you enjoy it! Reading time approx. 10 minutes.
Walt knew something was wrong before he had time to fully wake up. Something like a heavy weight settled over his heart and he sighed without opening his eyes. Life had thrown him too many strange new things in so many months. Sometimes he wondered if he would ever have some semblance of what he had before.
Before Mallory … before Bree … his family had been fragmented, time and time again. What had he done for fate to lay its hands on him like that not once, but twice? He didn’t even know what had become of Sam.
That boy … Walt had known what he was, and hadn’t cared. In his old life, he was as much a danger to Walt as any other human.
Seeing that little face, full of fear he tried to hide, had decided for him. He and Mallory had been no match for those plaintive hazel eyes, full of tears the boy didn’t want to release. Walt still remembered the mumbled excuses about chick-flick moments. He didn’t even know what that meant and he could tell Sam’s heart wasn’t in the words.
The boy had lost his family. Just like Walt and Mallory had lost their baby girl not a year before. They might not understand everything Sam lost, but they understood that. There was no turning him away.
And now he was gone. Mallory was gone. Walt was alone, if not for–
“Walt?” Krissy’s voice was cautious and quiet, but Walt had known the girl long enough to recognize something else in it. Worry. His pale blue eyes opened at last to take in the concerned shadows on her face.
“I can’t find Sean,” she admitted, worrying her lip. She was only inches away, her hand braced against the frame of the doorway into Walt’s small alcove. “I saw him this morning when I woke up, but now I can’t find him in the house.”
The house belonged to Krissy and her family. They didn’t have that much room, but she hadn’t hesitated to move Walt in after what happened at his own home. What was left of it was no longer safe for him. The charred remains of wood and fabric were all that remained of the life he’d built, the one he always thought he’d keep. He never asked for a lot, but even that was too much.
He sat up in bed, a customary stern frown on his face. “Did you hear him leave?”
Krissy shook her head, and golden waves so like and unlike those of his daughter waved with the motion. Walt looked away from her to stare at his hands on his lap. “Alright. I’ll go.”
Krissy sighed and the sound carried her relief with it. The humans were still fixing up the room where the floorboards had seemingly gone up in flames of their own accord. It wasn’t very safe for any of their kind to be wandering unnecessarily, not while there were repairmen around and everyone was more alert.
Krissy, with her longtime terror of the enormous beings that ran the world beyond the walls, wanted nothing to do with going out. If she didn’t absolutely have to, she wouldn’t go.
Not long after waking, Walt had his boots on and his satchel over his shoulder. He stretched his arms to the side to work out the soreness in his shoulders, and headed out of the small home hidden away in the walls.
He already had a sneaking suspicion of where he needed to go.
Walt still wasn’t quite used to the passages around Krissy’s home. Instead of the familiar space under the floorboards he knew, he found his new home, with new turns and obstacles in his way. At least, he could hope, Sean remembered the way. The kid was quiet, as shy as Sam had been, but he was smart.
Most of the time, anyway. Wandering off on his own was foolish and Walt was ready to tie him down if it got that lesson across.
He stalked silently through dust and dark, unerring on his path. After his wounds had healed enough, Walt had wasted no time setting up his tannery again. It had fallen into disuse, but it would still suit his purposes. He’d even taken Sean there several times to start teaching him the ropes and explaining how they’d use everything the next time a rat came sniffing around.
It was a trek, but he didn’t have many options. The sharp smell of the tanning solution he had, plus the inevitable odor of the messy process, were too dangerous to keep close to home. A supply closet, already steeped in its own soapy, chemical smell, was the perfect cover for his craft.
It was also one of the few places other than the house that he’d taken Sean to so far. Like Sam when he’d first arrived, the kid had a lot to get used to. He was only a boy, and his life had been completely pulled from under him. Walt and Krissy would have to be his support now.
Walt tensed when he neared his work area and heard rustling. It could be a harmless mouse, or it could be another rat come to investigate, but he doubted both. Even so, his hand slipped into his jacket as he approached, just in case he needed to draw out his razor blade in defense.
When he rounded the last corner, the tension left his shoulders and he put his hands on his hips. “You better have a good reason for scaring us to death,” he greeted. His voice, stern though it was as quiet as always, startled the small figure hunched to the ground.
Sean, a young former-human, tried to twist around to face the source of the sound, but at the same time he tripped on his own feet and fell. A quiet oof escaped him, and his breath hitched. “W-Walt?” he said, his voice cautious. He stared up, but Walt got the feeling he couldn’t really see much. He’d gotten used to the dark as quickly as anyone could expect of him, but he still had a long way to go before he would be able to see well.
Walt sighed tersely. “What were you thinking? You didn’t tell Krissy where you were going and you certainly didn’t come and find me to bring you.”
“I-I told her,” Sean mumbled. His voice was naturally quiet, even for a kid who used to be human. “Just … real quiet, I guess.”
Walt believed it. Even through the resigned nervousness in the boy’s voice, he couldn’t hear any hint of a lie. There was a chance he had tried to tell Krissy where he was going while she was busy with something else.
“You shouldn’t have come out here by yourself. What if you got lost?” he scolded, still not ready to let up.
Sean shifted so his knees were closer to his chest and he looked contemplatively at his hands. “I was gonna surprise you,” he muttered, almost too quiet for even Walt to hear. “Since … since I spilled all the dust last time.”
Walt paused, caught off guard by the boy’s honest excuse. Last time he’d brought Sean to the work area, he’d fumbled a bag of the dust that Walt used for his tanning. The mixture of what salt he could get from the kitchens, plus crumbled plaster and sawdust, was a must when drying out rat pelts.
The cloud of powder in the air had nearly thrown them both into a hacking fit. Walt had scolded Sean for it while hastily dragging the coughing, teary-eyed kid away. It wasn’t the worst that could happen, but if someone had heard…
Walt’s expression softened despite his determination, and he squatted down to Sean’s level. He could see the boy’s contrition even in the shadows under the floor, but Sean watched him with caution. He couldn’t tell what Walt was thinking in return.
“I’m not worried about the dust,” Walt told him, opting instead for a gentler tone. It didn’t come naturally for him, and he put a hand on Sean’s shoulder to help. “It’s easy to clean that up once it’s all settled.”
“Y-yeah,” Sean agreed quietly. He’d already made good progress sweeping handfuls of it into a pile, now abandoned next to him.
“I am worried about you,” Walt continued. Sean ducked his head, but it didn’t stop the lecture from coming. He needed to hear it. “There’s a lot for you to learn, but you shouldn’t go trying to figure it all out yourself. We’re here to help, and you cannot go off on your own like this again. Even if you never leave the walls, you could run into danger.”
Sean looked up again, guilty tears brimming in his eyes, and for a moment Walt saw Sam’s grubby face instead. Lonely and determined, but young and scared. Walt had seen that boy grow into a strong young man, quick and smart and as good a climber as anyone had ever seen.
He’d lost Sam. Krissy didn’t talk about him much ever since Sean showed up. Walt would have to do better this time.
“C’mere.” It was an awkward motion so early in Sean’s time with them, but Walt drew the boy into a hug. There was a pause in which they stayed like that, waiting in the dark, and Walt felt the tension slowly work its way out of Sean’s shoulders.
“‘Kay,” Sean finally replied, muffled into Walt’s jacket. “I won’t do it ‘gain. Promise.”
Walt gently patted Sean’s hair before drawing back and looking him in the eye. “See that you don’t,” he instructed. Then, “Now, since we’re here, we might as well finish up your good work and bag that dust up. Then you can go and apologize to Krissy.”