Fandom: Supernatural/The O.C. crossover
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing. It’s all Eric Kripke’s and Josh Schwartz’s and blah, blah, blah. We all know who the real braintrust is around here. Title taken from the song ‘California’ by Phantom Planet.
Rating: PG-13 just to be on the safe side
Spoilers: None. Set pre-series for both shows
Summary: Sandy Cohen has a new client.
Dedication: For the irreplaceable (or is that irreparable?) baylorsr on the occasion of her birth.
Author’s Note: Fans of either series with little or no knowledge of the other should have no problem understanding what’s going on.
It was 9:30 in the morning and Sandy’s day was already shaping up to be a hell of a long one. He’d had to be in court at 8 for sentencing—which was a rotten way to start off any day because it meant he’d failed his client and he’d failed himself—and he had two more court dates scheduled for the afternoon. But before all of that he had to get through this interview.
He watched his client through the security windows as he went through the familiar motions. The kid had more than his share of sixteen year-old arrogance, every line of his seated body screamed ‘There’s nothing I can’t do, whether you like it of not, asshole.’ If it wasn’t for the blue jumpsuit a random passerby wouldn’t have even known that the kid was locked up, he was more relaxed than Sandy had ever seen a client behave. He wasn’t sure whether it was impressive or disturbing.
Sandy pushed open the heavy door and the kid smirked up at him in greeting. “Dean Winchester, I’m Sandy Cohen, your court appointed attorney.” The greeting was rote but it had the Cohen charm behind it to spice things up.
Dean rose, the sort of automatic response that Sandy would bet good money had been drilled into him. He took Sandy’s proffered hand without hesitation, grip strong and knuckles still bruised from the fight that had landed him here in the first place.
“You gonna get me out of here?” Dean’s eyes sparkled like he found something vaguely amusing about the whole situation.
“I’m going to try my hardest.” First rule of law school, never guarantee anything you couldn’t absolutely provide. They taught you right away how to protect your own ass, which certainly said a lot about some Newport lawyers of Sandy’s acquaintance. “But I’ve got to be up front with you, Dean, there’s not much here to help me out.”
He opened the folder and gave it a cursory glance, but he already knew what parts he wanted to pick out. He looked up and caught Dean’s gaze straight in his cross-hairs. The Cohen Stare rarely failed to make kid or Newpsie fold. “You were caught hustling pool in a bar, laid out three extremely large patrons, breaking one of their arms in the ensuing brawl and would’ve probably done more damage if not for the chair leg across the back of the head that knocked you unconscious.” Sandy raised an eyebrow. “Where exactly did you learn to fight like that, the streets of Calcutta?”
Dean grinned, obviously well-pleased with himself, and shrugged with one shoulder. “You know, a guy like me picks up stuff all over the place.”
“I’ll just bet,” Sandy replied in a tone as dry as the Mojave. If anything, the implication only made Dean’s smirk larger. He was starting to get a little fed up with this kid, and that in and of itself was unusual.
Sandy’s eyes narrowed and he continued his spiel. “Your school records aren’t any help either. Below average pretty much across the board, though a little better in math and science. You’re new, been here only a little over a month, and yet you’ve already been in two major fights and your attendance is spotty.” What he didn’t mention was the attached note from a home room teacher pointing out the frequency with which the kid came to school injured in some way and all of the unsavory possibilities that raised about his home life.
Dean eloquently shrugged his lack of concern for his less-than-stellar achievements. “I bet you’ll have no problem smoothing all of that over, what with you being such a crackerjack lawyer and all.” The wink and the gun that capped that statement were the last straw.
Sandy leaned forward, eyes narrowed, and carefully enunciated every word. “Mr. Winchester, I’m not sure you understand how serious your situation is. You started a brawl that caused thousands of dollars in property damage, not to mention the criminal assault and battery damages you have pending against you. Added to that is the plethora of fake IDs found in your wallet, the unlicensed, unregistered hand gun tucked away in your coat and the extremely large knife strapped to your ankle. And let’s not forget the underage drinking because I can guarantee that the judge won’t.”
“Yeah, well, you should’ve seen the other guy,” was the glib remark that Sandy completely ignored.
“You haven’t left me much maneuvering room, I doubt I’d even be able to get you released to parental supervision even if your father did deign to make an appearance. Does he leave you and your brother alone a lot?” His instincts rarely let him down and they paid off for him once again.
Dean’s eyes widened and then narrowed, he leaned forward in his chair, finally serious and focused on the man seated across from him. A bolt of satisfaction shot through Sandy, finally he’d gotten him to sit up and pay attention. “My dad’s work takes him on the road a lot.”
“And who’s taking care of your little brother since your dad’s gone and you’re stuck in this place?” That really got him, Sandy saw his facade crack right open and for a second he saw panic and worry and helplessness flash through the kid’s eyes, the first real emotions he’d displayed during their entire interview. Sandy went in for the kill. “I want to help you get back to your brother but you have to give me something to work with.”
Dean sat back, his hands clenched in fists, jaw locked tight. His brows drew together with concentration so fierce that Sandy was suddenly relieved that he wasn’t its focus. He looked down at the table and shuffled paper back and forth, a little afraid to break in before Dean was damn well ready to let him in.
The other chair creaked and Sandy looked up. Dean stared at him, flat and implacable, eyes decades older than sixteen. “We needed the money. Dad’s been gone a little longer then he thought he’d be and we were running out of food. One of those guys got jealous when his girlfriend started hitting on me and before I’d said two words he was all over me.” Sandy almost snorted in amusement, he could definitely see how this kid’s face could make even the most secure guy jealous. “It got a little out of control after that.”
Sandy grinned wide and bright and had to restrain himself from rubbing his hands together in satisfaction. “Now you’ve given me a little wriggle room.” His mind was already working through the pieces, focus on the little brother and the absent father, a scared kid out of his depth only trying to put some food on the table. Yeah, this he could definitely spin. He snapped the folder back into his briefcase and stood up. “You have a preliminary meeting tomorrow morning and while I can’t make you any promises things are looking much better than they were before I walked into this room.”
He turned to go only to be stopped by an abrupt “Mr. Cohen.” He looked back. Dean was standing and looked strangely vulnerable. He swallowed and pulled the mask back down. “I’m not sure if you can do this, but could you get this note to my brother?” He pulled a folded and slightly crinkled sheet of lined paper out of his pocket.
Sandy smiled and gently took the note. “Sure I can. I’ll take it myself.”
Dean grinned in response, it was small but it was sincere. “Thanks.”
By the middle of the afternoon Sandy found himself in the kind of neighborhood he would’ve driven miles out of his way to avoid if Seth were in the car with him. The home address provided by the school files belonged to one of the scummiest rent-by-the-hour motels he’d ever seen, the type that he’d always wished only existed on movie or television screens. Standing there suddenly brought more things about Dean Winchester into perspective.
He knocked loudly on a battered door with a tarnished 8 crookedly nailed on it. He turned and took in the empty concrete pool across from him, broken beer bottles, used condoms and various other bits of garbage decorating the bottom.
He turned back and knocked again, the sound of a heated argument in polyglot Spanish and English echoing from over head. “Sam, I’m your brother’s lawyer,” he called through the thin wall.
The bolt turned and revealed a boy who couldn’t be older than twelve, bangs hanging over his wide, guarded eyes. “You’re Dean’s attorney?”tthe boy inquired, confusion and desperation warring on his face.
“Yes, I am. He asked me to bring you a note.” The utter joy and relief that swept over Sam at the news made Sandy’s chest hurt. This boy’s sweetness and openness reminded him so strongly of his Seth that he nearly picked him up and carried him away.
He scanned the shadowed room behind the door as Sam hungrily devoured the strange, cryptic note. It was dingy but neat, the TV playing The Cosby Show. He glanced back at Sam who was watching him intently, the note already secreted away in some pocket.
“Are you staying here alone?” Sandy was already formulating plans, thoughts of Child Services and his own huge house on the ocean chasing each other through his mind.
Sam stared blankly for a moment and then smiled wide, all teeth and disarming dimples. “Oh no sir. I just stopped by to get some stuff to take over to Chuy’s house.” He gestured at a bulging bag leaning on the wall behind him and then leaned forward a little, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “His mom makes the best enchiladas and frijoles I’ve ever eaten. It’s awesome.”
Sandy couldn’t help but smile back, Sam’s mood infectious. He wasn’t sure whether he believed him or not but there was nothing he could do, not now. “I bet.” He pulled a card out of his pocket and wrote on it before handing it over. “If you need anything at all give me a call. My home number is on the back and you can call me any time day or night. For anything,” he emphasized.
The force of Sandy’s words melted away in the face of Sam’s cheerful independence. “Thank you, Mr. Cohen. If I need your help I’ll let you know.” He started closing the door and then abruptly stopped. “I can call and find out about how Dean’s case is going, right?” The sudden worry on his face and the squeak in his voice making him seem even younger.
“Absolutely. Like I said, you can call me for anything you need, it doesn’t matter what.” Sandy was going to call Maureen at Child Services when he got back to the car, ask her to come by and make sure Sam wasn’t still hanging around. If he was then Kirsten would be setting another plate at the dinner table.
“Okay.” Sam nodded, relief in his eyes and determination in the set of his jaw. “Thanks.” And the door closed carefully, the bolt immediately clicking into place.
Sandy sighed deeply and trudged back to his car. This job was going to break his heart.
He got the call on his way into work the next morning. The residual glow from a satisfactory morning battle with the waves was immediately quenched by the tone in his assistant’s voice. He slammed the phone down and pushed down on the accelerator, anger and worry pumping through his veins.
That dumb, stupid, desperate kid. They could’ve made it work if only he’d held on, been a little patient, Sandy would’ve made everything work out. Yeah, real bright kid, skip out on juvie, thereby guaranteeing no judge would ever agree to going easy on you, would be sure to make an example of you. Where does that leave your brother now?
He changed his route without making a conscious decision. He screeched to a stop in front of that ratty old motel. He knew it was a longshot, was pretty sure that those boys were smart enough to have gotten as far from there as they could, but it was the only card he had to play. Maybe, just maybe, if he convinced Dean to come in with him he could find a way to smooth things over. There had to be a way.
His pounding on the door didn’t produce an answer. He kicked an empty bottle in frustration, the sound of it shattering against the concrete of the pool only served to tighten the knot in his gut. They could be anywhere by now, they could be dead, and there was nothing he could do about it.
“Are you Mr. Cohen?” He jerked at the sound of that quiet voice and glanced over. A dark-haired girl timidly stared up at him, the door to room seven cracked open behind her.
“Yes I am.” He struggled to keep his voice steady. He didn’t want to scare the poor girl off before he found out what she knew.
“They left something for you.” She held up a folded over flyer for one of the strip clubs that dotted the neighboring streets. On the back was a message written in a hurried scrawl. ‘Sorry we had to take off like this. Thanks for everything. D + S.’
Sandy pinched the bridge of his nose and took a few deep breaths. Somehow the note made everything worse. “Did the tell you where they were going?” he asked when he finally got himself back under control.
The girl shook her head. “No, they didn’t want me to get in trouble. But-” Her dark eyes brightened and she smiled, something like hero worship in her face. “I’m sure they’ll be okay. They can do anything.”
He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to laugh or cry. “I’m sure they will be,” he replied even though he was nothing of the kind.
As much as he wanted to tear the state apart looking for them Sandy had other kids who were depending on him, other families who desperately needed his help, so he went in to work and focused on the problems he could solve. His assistant promised to immediately inform him if there was any movement on the Winchester situation. He had to let that be enough.
The first thing he did when he got home was to hug Seth for an extra-long time, no matter how much he wriggled and grouched that he was too old for hugs from his dad. Sandy begged off whatever charity event the rich and pointless had organized to keep themselves entertained this week and spent the evening with his son. He happily listened to Seth chatter on and on about some superhero he’d never heard of and gleefully let himself be slaughtered on the latest video game. He could listen to Seth babble and laugh forever.
Kirsten got home at a reasonable time and they were both able to tuck Seth in, to let him know that he was loved and safe. Later she came to find him in the kitchen, all of the make-up scrubbed off of her face and wrapped in a robe she’d had for years. He was struck again, always, by how beautiful she was.
“What’s wrong, Sandy?” she asked softly, tiny worry lines radiating from the edges of her eyes.
He sighed and leaned against the counter, a glass forgotten by his hand. “There was a kid at work, a client. He had a kid brother he was taking care of and they both disappeared.” He scrubbed tiredly at his eyes. “I tried to help them, I really did.”
“Oh, Sandy.” Her voice was endlessly sympathetic. “You can’t save everybody.”
He barked a short, bitter laugh. “I know.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “But with some kids knowing that isn’t enough. It shouldn’t be enough.”
She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. He leaned into her and let himself be comforted by the only person who ever really could.
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