I'm not too sure where this story is going...if anywhere. The plot is a big jumble in my mind right now, but since this is the first thing I've managed to write in what feels like ages, I'm posting anyway. This is a little over 2,000 words, it's coherent and I think it's a setup interesting enough to continue. It's gen, so far. I don't plan to change that, but who knows?
Timeline: Haven - between 109 As You Were and 110 The Hand You're Dealt; Supernatural - sometime in season 5. But you shouldn't need more than a vague familiarity with either to read this.
Let me know if you think it's worth continuing...please?
Special Agent Audrey Parker, FBI, sat on a stone bench on the hill above the harbour. There was a light rain falling, enough to chill the air and turn her hair into damp rat-tails, but she didn’t mind the rain. It rained a lot in Haven and she was used to it. She unscrewed the top of her thermos, balanced the little plastic cup on her knee and poured coffee into it. She gazed out over the harbour as she drank. The sky was thick with cloud, the ocean grey and choppy, tossing the fishing boats as they returned to the harbour with the morning’s catch.
She heard heavy footsteps behind her and turned around to see a man in a green waxed coat approaching her bench. His was a familiar face: she often saw him around, on Main Street or at the Grey Gull in the evenings, but she didn’t know his name and couldn’t recall ever speaking with him. He was in his fifties, she estimated: his once-black hair and beard were heavily streaked with grey and there were deep lines around his eyes.
“Can I join you?” he asked, gesturing toward the bench. His voice was deep and gravelly and – the first surprise – his accent was not local. Audrey couldn’t place it from so few words, but he wasn’t from Maine.
She nodded, shifting slightly to make room for him, though it wasn’t necessary. “Sure. Would you like some coffee?”
“If you can spare it, that would be great.” His smile crinkled his green eyes and showed off straight, white teeth.
Audrey finished her coffee, wiped the edge of the cup and refilled it before she handed it to him. “I’m Audrey Parker,” she offered.
“John,” he answered, taking the plastic cup in both hands. He sipped the coffee as if testing it, then took a longer drink. He nodded toward the ocean. “I heard you had some trouble out on Carpenter’s Knot.”
Audrey tensed. Some trouble? One of her best friends died on that island. She had been held captive while something wearing her face turned her friends against each other. “Yeah, there was trouble,” she agreed, conscious that trouble had several meanings in this town.
Who had been talking? Audrey wondered. Certainly not the Chief or Nathan. Duke, perhaps? Too much gossip over drinks in the bar? It wasn’t like him, and she dismissed the thought quickly. But then who?
John nodded, as if her silence was confirmation. “Strange breed, ’shifters,” he said conversationally. “Hard to detect, because they have a psychic link with each person they become. They can fool even close family.”
Audrey, having recently experienced exactly that, was listening closely, but she said nothing, unwilling to confirm what could be astute guesswork.
“Did you kill it?” John asked.
That was direct. Audrey debated for a moment before deciding John knew what he was talking about. “I didn’t. It was my partner.”
“Wournos? He shot it, then?”
Audrey frowned. What difference did the weapon make? Dead was dead. “I wasn’t there,” she answered evasively.
“Hm,” he grunted. He gave the plastic cup back to her. “Good coffee. Thanks.” He started to get up.
“Wait!” Audrey said quickly. “Who are you? What’s your interest in what happened on the island?”
John sat down again. “’Shifters can be dangerous. It takes silver to kill them: regular ammo won’t do it. I doubt Wournos was packing silver bullets.”
“No, no silver,” she agreed. She’d noticed the word this time: ’shifter. The Chief had called it a chameleon.
“Then it’s still out there,” he growled. Audrey caught the edge in his voice: anger and hatred. She was afraid he intended to go out to the island in pursuit of the chameleon and she didn’t want that.
“He’s dead, John,” she insisted. “I think he was dying anyway. He was very old. Without a new shape...” she broke off, a lump in her throat. He’d been so sure she would help him, as Lucy helped him before. But Audrey had no idea how to help and he couldn’t explain what Lucy did, so she couldn’t even try. Now he was dead.
John studied her for a moment, then nodded. “Fair enough.”
“What’s your story, John? You know something about the Troubles?”
John turned his eyes away from her, gazing out to sea. “My story?” he repeated.
“You’re not local,” she prompted, “but I can’t quite place your accent. Where are you from?”
“Kansas, originally. I’ve been in Haven...” he hesitated, as if calculating it, “...nearly three years.”
It wasn’t Kansas she heard in his voice, but that originally suggested he knew that. He was being very cagey. “What brought you here?” she asked.
Surprising her, John gave a short bark of laughter. “You’d never believe me.”
“I’ve believed a lot of impossible things since I arrived here.”
John met her eyes, then, flashing a swift smile. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” he drawled. He stood up and stepped away from the bench. “Thanks again for the coffee, Agent Parker.” He placed a slight stress on agent, as if he thought he was scoring a point.
“You’re welcome,” she answered, unfazed. It was no secret in town that she was with the FBI.
Audrey watched him walk away from her: the heavy coat concealed the shape of his body but gave the impression he was quite heavyset and of average height. Yet he hadn’t seemed so when sitting beside her. His walk was slow, his shoulders slightly hunched, suggesting some stiffness in the joints. It would be natural in a man his age, but again that seemed to Audrey to be a false impression, perhaps even a deliberate affectation. The man was an enigma. He was an outsider in Haven – three years wasn’t long enough for the folk of this town to consider him a local – yet he seemed to know the town’s peculiar history. Audrey knew from her own experience how reluctant the locals were to share the real Haven with outsiders, and wondered how John could have learned so much.
What’s your story, John? she wondered again.
Even in Haven, people do die of natural causes sometimes, Audrey reminded herself as she sipped her dirty martini. It wasn’t necessary to look for some outlandish cause for every death. She seemed to do that automatically now, her mind inventing wilder and wilder theories instead of settling for the evidence in front of her. She would be ruined as an investigator outside Haven. There was no logical reason to think the death she and Nathan had been called to that morning was anything other than natural: the woman was in her eighties and died in her comfy chair looking out over the bay with her knitting in her lap. But still, it nagged at her, as if there were some detail she’d noticed unconsciously but couldn’t bring into conscious focus.
With an effort, she pushed the thoughts aside and glanced around the Grey Gull, noticing familiar faces. She could put names to most of them now, but to them she remained the outsider. Not one of them. She saw John approaching the bar and remembered their odd conversation that morning. What had he really wanted from her? He hadn’t approached her for coffee, she was sure.
“Do you know him?” she asked Duke quietly.
Duke’s eyes narrowed as if he didn’t like the question, but he glanced toward the bar to see who she meant. When he saw John there, he seemed to relax again. “Sure. John. He comes in a few nights a week.”
“Is he a local?” she asked, hoping to prompt a little more information.
Duke shook his head. “He showed up a couple of summers back looking for work and never left. He’s a good handyman. Did some work for me when I rebuilt this place.” Duke’s eyes followed the older man as he carried his beer to a table. “What’s your interest?”
Audrey tried to keep her tone casual. “Just the usual. He came to talk to me this morning but I’m not sure what he wanted. He just made small talk for a while, then left.”
Her half-truths seemed to satisfy Duke. “John keeps to himself mostly. He lives in Belle Gillespie’s basement and finds work where he can. People go to him for the kind of jobs no one else wants.”
“Such as?” Audrey asked, speaking a little more sharply than she intended.
“Oh, nothing crooked,” Duke grinned. “I mean nasty jobs, like...you remember the problem with the food from the farmers’ market a while back?”
Audrey nodded, wrinkling her nose at the memory of the stench.
“John did the worst of the cleanup after that. Most people couldn’t stomach it, but he didn’t seem to notice.”
So, John had either an exceptionally strong stomach or no sense of smell, Audrey concluded. And he didn’t get involved in criminal activity, if she’d caught Duke’s hint correctly. “Does he have a last name?” she asked.
“Sure,” Duke answered and then frowned. “That’s weird. I know I know his name, but I can’t remember. It’s, um, Williams. Or Winston. Something like that.”
John Williams-or-Winston noticed Audrey watching him and raised his glass to her. He didn’t smile, but she saw a glint of amusement in his eyes. She returned the salute with her martini glass and resolutely turned her eyes back to Duke. “So, you were telling me about this poker game...”
The ambient noise level in the Grey Gull was too loud for John to hear Agent Parker’s conversation with Crocker, but he guessed from the look in her eyes that he was the subject. She was interested in him, which had been his primary purpose in speaking to her that morning: the shape-shifter merely provided him with an excuse. He was glad to hear it was dead, but there was little he could have done about it if it wasn’t. Carpenters Knot was accessible only by boat and it would raise too many questions if he asked someone to ferry him out there. In Haven, John needed to live below the radar, because this town would be extremely uncomfortable if he got himself noticed by the locals.
Agent Parker, on the other hand, wasn’t a local. John didn’t know how long she planned to stay in Haven, or even what she was really doing there: word on the street was vague about her purpose. But sooner or later, she would be leaving town, and when she did John hoped she could help him. Before he could get to that, though, he needed her to want to help him.
He usually drank alone in the Grey Gull. Three evenings a week, when he had enough money, he would drink two beers (or whiskey if he was having a particularly bad day) and order a simple meal if he could afford it that night. John never got drunk and he never caused trouble. On some evenings, someone he knew might wander in and join him, and then two beers might stretch into four or five. But mostly he drank alone.
John’s funds wouldn’t stretch to a third beer that night, so he left the Grey Gull early. Agent Parker left before he did and John considered heading out at the same time, maybe exchanging a few casual words, but he decided against it. He wanted her interested, willing to talk to him, not suspicious of him. So he stayed a while longer, until he was sure she’d be gone from the street outside. Then he left the Grey Gull.
It was raining again. John walked slowly up the street, heading for Belle’s home and his tiny, basement apartment. His shoulders were hunched against the wind blowing in from the ocean. The wind brought with it the smells of the harbour: diesel fuel from the boats, rotten seaweed and wood, and the sour, salty tang unique to the Atlantic. John glanced toward the harbour as he passed, saw the swaying lights of the occupied boats and heard the faint splish-splosh of the waves. It was all very familiar to him, white noise, barely noticed. But there was something else, too. Something less familiar.
In the darkness about halfway between John and the harbour, a figure moved swiftly away from him. It was a human-like shape, but seemed too small to be a human adult and too squat to be a kid. In the darkness it was difficult to judge; perhaps it looked small because it was further away than John thought. He turned and walked toward the harbour and that strange shape.
By the time he reached the place it had been, there was no sign of it. John took a flashlight from his pocket and swept the area. He found nothing out of place, no sign of who or what had been there. He didn’t like to lose his quarry, but he really wasn’t sure what he’d seen. It might have been a kid. He would come back in daylight and check again, though with this rain it was unlikely he would find anything.
John pocketed his flashlight and trudged back up the street toward home.
One more note
John's backstory here is a long fic I've outlined but not actually written. I do have a logical explanation for a) why he's alive and b) why he's in Haven instead of trying to help Sam and Dean...but that will have to come out later in the story.