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Martha 1/1 (PG) Sam, OFC (Gen) - Not a rock, I'm just Ruth
All Me, no apologies
just_ruth
just_ruth
Martha 1/1 (PG) Sam, OFC (Gen)
written for spn_goes_pop
Title: Martha
Author: Just Ruth
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Sam, OFC, "Shadow"
Rating: PG
Spoilers/Warnings: Future fic, religious imagery (it's set in a church, after all)
Disclaimers: Supernatural is the property of Eric Kripe and the CW. Characters/Situations are being borrowed for entertainment purposes only. You think anyone would pay me for this?
Soundtrack: Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Summary: When the stranger came, he brought his shadow with him.
Symbols: _italics_
Word count: 2523
Note: There is a "Martha" in every church, sometimes more than one. Hopefully they are better appreciated.
Thanks as always to intrepidy
*****

THEN: After The End of It All

Some said it was a micro meteor strike. Others said it was a space satellite that fell and exploded. Other voices screamed of terrorists and bomb factories. The man who knew the truth stood grim and unmoving as the compacter turned the classic Impala into a crushed cube of metal. The only words of explanation he gave to the astonished salvage workers were, "what's dead should stay dead." As he walked away, some of the men swore they saw two shadows stretching behind him.
*******

NOW:

Lawrence, Kansas

It was cold that Sunday morning with a crisp wind and the feel of coming snow. The stranger slipped into the back of the church to get warm. It was a simple service, with hymns of voices lifted in sloppy harmony.

Their contentment gnawed at him. They hadn't been to a graveyard; to a stone that marked a mother's empty grave. They hadn't buried a brother's necklace next to a father's dog tags – the only things left of them to bury. They didn't know the world almost ended or the cost he had paid to save it. What did it profit a man to save the whole world if he lost everyone he'd ever loved? He felt a stab of anger, and escaped down the stairs at the back of the church. The hall below the sanctuary was filled with wonderful smells. It was set with a dozen tables and there was a basket of bread and basket of apples on each one.

"Oh!" Said a woman with salt and pepper shakers in her hand. "You startled me!"

"I – I'm sorry," he stammered as startled as she was. "I – "

"Looking for the men's room?" She pointed to the left of the hall. "Just down there. We're having a soup luncheon after the service. I'm just finishing setting up. Visitors are welcome." She smiled. Her face was round and pink. Her hair was grey streaked brown and the top of her head only came up to his collarbone. She wore a blue dress with a red and white apron over it. He smiled back awkwardly, stretching facial muscles he had almost forgotten how to use.

He retreated into the men's room and splashed water onto his face. He looked up into the mirror and _it_ was there, behind him. The black-eyed demonic shadow with the face of a dead man that had walked beside him from the gates of hell.

"What are you doing here?" He hissed at it.

_Thought you were rid of me? I told you it wasn't that easy._ It retorted. _ And if you think there's any holy ground in this Church of How Great We Are, you're mistaken. How many people are upstairs and they left one old woman set up all those tables and chairs alone? _

"Leave them alone," he said clenching his hands on the edge of the sink. "Leave them alone."

_Whatever._ It was gone, but not far. Never far.

He came back out. The small woman had placed the last of the salt and peppers and was heading for the back of the hall to what must have been a kitchen and the source of the wonderful smells. His stomach growled painfully.

"Goodness!" She turned, laughing. "I heard that from here! Come into the kitchen."

"I shouldn't –" But his stomach growled again.

"Better come in the kitchen before they start wondering what's wrong with the sound system upstairs," she laughed again. "I'm just stirring the soups and keeping everything from sticking to the pots." She looked up at his head. "You can take your hat off, you know."

"Sorry." He snatched the knitted cap off his head. She paused and looked behind him.

"Is there someone else here?" She frowned. "I thought I saw. . ."

"There's only me," he said a little too quickly.

She had him sit on a stool and served him a cup of warm tea because the coffee had not brewed yet. "Here you are, son."

"It's Sam.” He warmed his hands on the cup. "Just Sam."

"You look like you've walked a long way."

"You have no idea," he said darkly.

She looked puzzled, but offered him a basket of heels from the loaves that had been cut for the tables and a half-stick of butter on a saucer. He buttered the sesame heel and bit into it to avoid her eyes.

"We've got five soups – three on the stove, two in the crockpots. That one," she indicated a large blue and white crockpot, "contains my potato garlic soup. This first pot on the stove is homemade tomato. The second is an anemic pea soup because Lois thought it was too thick and she added too much water to thin it. The third is Manhattan Clam Chowder. The other crockpot was here when I came in and I'm calling it bean soup only because that's what I 'm seeing when I stir it. Take your pick."

"Ma'am, that's nice of you but. . ."

"Just call me Martha. You're obviously hungry." She picked up a bowl and dipped into the blue and white crockpot. "You can have some of mine." She put the bowl before him. It smelled rich with garlic and golden drops of butter floated on top between the chunks of potato.
"You said you've been walking. Where are you going, Sam?"

"I don't know." His face went dark again. "I have nowhere _to_ go."

"I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?"

He gave a short bark of laughter. "Would you believe me if I told you I saved the world?"

"I wasn't aware it needed saving." She poured him another cup of tea. "But if you did, well, thank you."

He blinked at her. "You believe me?"

"Does it matter if I do?" She gave the soups another stir. "It's a nice world and I'd like to think it was worth saving. So, if you did save the world, thank you, Sam. I'll be right back." She left the kitchen.

The warm, hearty soup comforted his empty stomach. He frowned, thinking about her words. He expected sarcastic commentary from his shadow, but there was an odd silence. He sighed and reached for another heel of bread.

. . . Martha turned to see the young man in the kitchen. "Can I help you?" She asked.

"Give me money!" His eyes were wild and she screamed as he lunged at her with the knife. . .

"_No!_" he cried, catching the edge of the counter to keep himself from tumbling.

"Are you all right?" She rushed in with something over one arm and a child's purple backpack.

"Sorry. . . I just got a little dizzy."

"Oh, dear. Well, you should have some more soup."

"Thank you, it's wonderful."

She filled his bowl with more of the delicious potato soup and handed him a neatly lettered card with the recipe for the soup. "Here, I always make some of these to share. My son learned to make this when he was a ski instructor in Colorado. He gave me the recipe before he. . ." She looked away and swallowed hard. "He died in Afghanistan."

"I'm so sorry." He tucked the card into an inner pocket of his coat that bulged with two battered leather journals.

"Thank you." She put the backpack on the counter. "I brought this from our storehouse. It was left over from the back-to-school kits we put together. There were only two left and the other had yellow flowers all over it. I put a few things in the front pocket you might need."

"Ma'am – Martha – you don't have to. . ." he began to protest.

"Now, now, let me finish." She shook a finger at him. "Kevin donated some of his things to the clothing bank. He's your height but broader and getting broader since he retired. I don't think there will be anyone else as tall as you are coming in any time soon." She opened the main pocket of the pack. "There are five shirts, two pairs of pants and a pair of jeans. I'm only sorry we don't have any underwear but the packs that are donated go so fast. And this. . ."

She opened the sweater, it was cream with a brown and green design that was abstract to put it mildly. "I know it's hideous, but it's thick wool and it's very warm." She looked embarrassed. "Ellie was learning to use her knitting machine. I think it was supposed to be a bear, but it looks sort of like a duck?"

He felt a rusty chuckle rising out of his throat.

"If you put it on and button up your coat, no one will ever know."

"Martha, this is overwhelming." He put a hand to his eyes. He hadn't felt this way since. . . since a long time before his destiny caught him. "I can't."

"Please." Her voice went very soft and sad. "I have had so little chance to make a difference to anyone." She looked lost and lonely.

He wrapped his arms around her. "Thank you," he whispered into her hair. She hugged him back.

He took the pack and went into the men's room. The two of the shirts were solid colors with button-down collars. He had worn shirts like these back in college. He picked one that was dark green and there were dark brown twill pants that would go well with it. He put them on, relishing the feel of the clean clothes and tried to see more of his reflection in the small mirror.

There was a wolf whistle behind him. His shadow grinned at him under a flickering light.

"Very funny," he said, tucking his much-battered flannel shirt and jeans into the pack.

_Dude, that bag is *purple*._

"The other one had yellow flowers on it."

_Oh, well, if that's the case. . ._ It folded its arms. _She's a nice lady._

"She's going to be attacked."

_What?_

Martha screamed.

"No," he breathed. He ran for the kitchen and slammed shoulder-first through the door.

It was his vision. The man had a frantic look on his face. He brandished the knife at Sam with a shaking hand.

"Give me money!" He shrilled.

"Sam." Martha had her hands up in front of her. "Sam, my purse is right next to my crock pot. Let him have it."

"Put that down." Sam growled. "Put. That. Down."

The attacker went white and whimpered at what he saw in Sam's eyes.

"Sam, please," Martha begged. "Just give him my purse." She gasped as the attacker suddenly grabbed her and swung her to be a shield between himself and Sam.

"I just want a fix," he whined. "I just want a fix."

Sam swallowed hard. Martha had gone dead white. There was no way he could get her captor without endangering her. The junkie was dragging her towards the kitchen door.

"I'll give you her purse," he began. The knife slipped and scratched across Martha's arm. She cried out and a few drops of blood spattered the floor. _It_ was in the kitchen doorway. "No!" he cried.

His black-eyed shadow grabbed the attacker by the scruff of his neck and twisted the knife from his hand. Sam snatched Martha and put her behind him. The junkie screamed as the bones in his hand snapped.

"Let him go!" Sam shouted.

_You never let me have any fun._ It turned the attacker around.

"Here's where you scream and run away," it informed him aloud. The man's eyes grew even wilder and he pelted away screaming hysterically. It grimaced at the floor. "Well, pissing your pants is good too."

"What – who-- is that?" Martha was shaking as Sam pressed a dish towel to the slash on her arm..

"It won't hurt you." He glared at It. It gave him a disgusted look and was gone. There were exclamations and startled voices upstairs. Members of the congregation hurried down the stairs.

"Martha, are you all right?'' This must be Kevin. He was as tall as Sam but looked like he had grown soft and comfortable. "Who's this?"

"This is Sam – he – he saved me."

More people from the church crowded the kitchen all talking at once. Sam raised his voice and shouted for someone to call 911.

He ended up riding in the ambulance with her. He sat alone in the waiting room. The lights flickered. The purple backpack and his coat appeared next to his chair.

"Thank you," he touched the pack.

_Don't thank me too much. I kept the fugly sweater._

"She said it was warm." He frowned up at his shadow. "They could both see you."

_I don’t know why the old lady could see me. Dickhead junkie violated holy ground that's why he saw me._

"You said that church had no holy ground."

It looked at him solemnly. _When she gave you the cup of tea, the bread, the soup -- that kitchen became holy ground. That's why I couldn't enter until her blood was spilled._

He blinked. For the briefest moment, the demon's eyes changed color. They almost looked green. He had to have imagined it. He sat back and pulled the pack into his lap. In the front pocket was a comb, a folding brush, a travel sized toothpaste and a toothbrush, a disposable razor, a travel sized shaving cream and a bar of soap in a plastic bag. He closed his eyes, overwhelmed again.

_The church people finally took their thumbs out of their asses and called the police._ It turned as if hearing something. _You'd better go. She'll be all right; it was only a scratch._

"I should say good-bye." He shrugged into the sweater and buttoned his coat over it. "She was a nice lady."

_Worth saving the world for?_

"Maybe. I don’t know." He shouldered the pack and walked off into the snow that had begun to fall. Alone, except for the shadow that walked beside him.

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23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
atana_blackfox From: atana_blackfox Date: April 3rd, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful story. I love stories that include ordinary people.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 3rd, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
From: sgriobadh Date: April 5th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Cool story. Should have been sad, but wasn't somehow. I loved Martha, she seemed very real, and very likeable- the details about her son, and the charitable stuff from the church were very nice. At first I thought Dean was the guy, but then the ghost spoke up, and he was very recognizably Dean. :)

Spooky, but not too sad.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 5th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I can't seem to really do tear-jerker, too much of an optomist I guess.
arliss From: arliss Date: April 7th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh honey. I love this.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 7th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. It was difficult to write in some ways, but after listening to the song a number of times, it all worked itself out.
rafikiven From: rafikiven Date: April 9th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my goodness, that was so sad! I liked the concept, but gah, so sad! --off to find a happier story to make me feel happy again--
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 9th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry the story made you sad, but thanks for reading it.

You might like this one better:
The Sin Eating of Josh McCoy


Edited at 2008-04-09 02:05 am (UTC)
erinrua From: erinrua Date: April 9th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. This? I have no words. This is just ... *flails* Your imagery is spot-on, I could almost smell the coffee and that funny smell of old wood or whatever the downstairs of a church always carries. The idea of Sam alone and homeless and without even the car simply hurts. But Martha is a jewel and so very real. You are right, every church probably does have a Martha.

Ahh, and the shade that haunts Sam's steps ... now *that* is intriguing. A demon? Apparently. Evil? Not exactly. Dean? Somewhat. And so Sam is not entirely alone, after all. Is he?

Though crushing the Impala seems to have not exactly worked. Just. Wow. Achy and beautiful and stark and sad, and yet somehow, oddly, not.

Dunno how you dun it, but I'm so glad you did. Thanks for sharing!
Cheers ~

Erin
P.S.
I adore the idea of a church that is not holy ground until someone of selfless nature and Godly heart does a Godly deed. That? Is freaking brilliant. So ... spilling her blood let the demon/Dean/thing in because the evil guy spilling martyred blood defiles holy ground? (I'm still pooped from EyeCon, lol, brain isn't entirely functioning.)

Edited at 2008-04-09 04:08 am (UTC)
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 10th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Goodness, you could have waited until after you rested! Yes, you've hit what I was going for - a selfless act of charity "a cup of water given in my name" makes a place holy even if its a basement. :)

I'm glad you liked it.
muffaletta From: muffaletta Date: April 9th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's hard to find the words to say how much I loved this fic. Very original concept, bleak yet hopeful, lot of "grey" areas like the shadow that follows Sam. Martha is a wonderful OC and you portray her goodness in a realistic way. Sam is so beaten and yet.....not. He just needs to find something to believe in again. And shadow Dean? Fascinating how he seems evil by nature but still protects Sam/innocents and teases/loves Sam. So Sam has a shadow of his brother but he's still there. It makes it still very sad but with a chance that maybe Dean can still be saved somehow. (He is a bit of an anomoly anyways-going to hell out of love, not evil.)

Enough of my ramblings! I always enjoy your writing and this fic was no exception. Great job!
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 10th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
heh, blame "Ghost Rider" and Carter Slade's (Sam Elliot!) comment "you sold your soul for love, that changes everything" for some of Dean's characterization.

I'm playing with a theory - Ruby in the Kripkeverse says that a human in Hell forgets their humanity and becomes a demon. Can then, a demon outside of Hell remember their humanity and return to being a human soul?
muffaletta From: muffaletta Date: April 10th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm....makes sense to me! Especially since Dean's circumstances are somewhat "unique" to boot...

(Does this mean there might be more to this 'verse? *makes puppy eyes*)
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 10th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Eventually. I have a couple of prior commitments before I get back to this.
randomstasis From: randomstasis Date: April 9th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hug me..That was beautiful.:)
Seriously, I really liked Martha, and the little trick that turned the place into holy ground despite what Dean's shadow said. Excellent occult reasoning there!
and the demonic shadow saved the holy old lady-
"Don't thank me too much. I kept the fugly sweater"
yeah, that's Dean:) Sounded like the sweater would suit him very well-
it will go especially well with his *green* eyes:) not so well with the black..
I'm glad they're still together, and still working together-
Even though Sam turned the Impala into a cube of scrap! Honestly, no wonder Dean is pissed!
Thanks for posting it!
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 10th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome!
Yes, I believe that a selfless act can make a place holy ground, wherever it is.
Glad you like it!
gardnerhill From: gardnerhill Date: April 10th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely story, great OC. Yeah, there's always ONE person who does 99% of the "committee" work in any group, let alone churchy groups.

Add me to those who loved the charity-sanctified ground aspect of this tale -- and how amusing that it's Sam's demon-brother-shadow who informs him of this. (Or maybe Dean's just grateful that, at long last, a Winchester is being paid (in food) and thanked for the dreadful work they do.

I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you made me welcome; I was naked and you clothed me... Sounds like that works as well for the Antichrist.

I actually made a wonderful potato-garlic soup this past weekend, so this is very appropriate!

just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 10th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this, although I don't really see Sam as an AntiChrist. He's human, a little more gifted than most, but in the end "only human."

I don't suppose you could be persuaded to share the recipe for your soup, could you?
gardnerhill From: gardnerhill Date: April 11th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
This is from my local paper - a spring recipe that uses green garlic.
GREEN GARLIC SOUP

1 pound green garlic (substitute 5-6 cloves mature garlic)
4 T. unsalted butter
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
Salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
6 cups chicken broth

If using green garlic, discard dark green leafy parts of the green garlic, leaving white and pale green parts. Cut each bulb in half lengthwise, then mince. (If using mature garlic, peel and mince.)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add minced garlic and saute until softened (5 minutes for green garlic, 1-2 minutes for mature garlic.)

Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper, then add the broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender enough to mash with a wooden spoon, about 40 minutes.

Mash the potatoes into the broth, or puree in a food processor (or use a blender stick, very useful). Reheat, taste and adjust seasoning. Serves 6.

just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 11th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! It looks wonderful, I'll have to check the local farm market and see if anyone knows where there's green garlic in the Northeast.:)
kuromatic From: kuromatic Date: April 27th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well that went places I wasn't expecting - and I mena that in a good way *grins* Great work! And you introduced a new character that was believable - no mean feat!

Thanks!
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: April 27th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome, I'm glad you liked it. The whole story grew out of "Mystery Spot" and "Dream a Little Dream" mixing with Green Day's music. I'm glad you liked Martha.
(Deleted comment)
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