Finding human organs in jars is not an altogether uncommon occurrence when poking around the recesses of America’s abandoned asylums and hospitals. Bumping into a cabinet upon which two such jars, the formalin long since dried out, rests at 4 in the morning is slightly unnerving. This happened to me at Tuscaloosa’s Bryce State Hospital some time back, as I was searching around for those middle-of-the-night photographs to kill time until civil twilight broke. After first light, I got so caught up in shooting a brand-new (to me) Kirkbride building that I completely forgot about the jars of organs - until it was almost time to go, at which point, I returned to grab a few captures. Here’s one of them.
“John Servati, a member of the University of Alabama swimming and diving team, died Monday night at DCH Regional Medical Center as a result of injuries sustained at a house off campus during the storms that swept through the Tuscaloosa area.” -University of Alabama Athletics
Corridor at Bryce State Hospital, a Kirkbride Plan asylum down in Tuscaloosa, AL. When this building was abandoned, a lot of artifacts were abandoned with it; gurneys and furniture fill some of the hallways, and there are offices that are basically still set up - some parts of the building still have power running to them!
“You should tell him,” Sam says, his voice barely louder than the hum of the vending machines.
There at a shit motel in Tuscaloosa, killing time until the moon rises. Cas went to check if their suspect really is a werewolf; he’s been gone about two hours, and Dean has spent most of that pacing the path that runs the length of the rooms.
“Sammy,” Dean says tiredly.
“I just – it’s been, what –? Ten years?”
Dean sighs, shifting his weight from foot to foot. His legs are restless, want to keep moving, but Sam is blocking the path, so Dean just stares at him instead. He has a handful of gray hair now; the sodium-light shadows are washing them out, but Dean has seen him frowning at them in the mirror. Dean is almost forty-two, and he feels every day of it in his knees and the small of his back. In his twenties he jumped from one job to the next; now he needs two or three days of rest before he can head out again.
“I guess,” he says finally, frowning out at the parking lot, where a sluggish, summer wind is irritating the trees. “Have you known all this time?”
Sam leans his shoulder against the ice machine, dulling its rattle a little. “I wasn’t sure until that purgatory thing with Crowley. Man, I know you hate to be wrong, but I’ve never seen you so desperate to be right.”
Dean shrugs. Sam and Bobby’s doubts had hurt like a knife between the ribs, but he hadn’t understood why, not really. He didn’t figure it out until he came back from purgatory alone and spend the next few months feeling like he was missing a limb.
“He feels the same way,” Sam says.
“Even if he does, it’s – he’s an angel.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
Dean snorts. “Bullshit.”
“When’s the last time he went to heaven?”
Dean hesitates; it was about a month after they finished up fighting the darkness, and that was three or four years ago. Some of the angels had wanted Dean and Sam’s heads for unleashing it in the first place, and Cas had gone up there to tell them to lay off.
“Whatever,” he says, shrugging again. “Like you said, it’s been ten years. I probably missed my window.”
“It’s never too late.”
“Sammy,” Dean starts, but then his phone buzzes in his pocket. “That’s Cas. Fucking took him long enough.”
Cas is waiting outside the room when they get back; Sam lets himself inside, then shuts the door while Dean is still reaching for the handle.
“Is he okay?” Cas asks.
“Yeah, he’s – can I talk to you for a sec?”
Nothing comes out; they just stand there for a second, the wind chugging around them, thick as soup.
“Dean,” Cas says, his mouth tugging with concern. “What’s up?”
Dean smiles a little, at how human he sounds. There’s no mistaking what he is, not with his otherworldly edge, or the way he gives off heat like a furnace, or the way the air around him almost crackles, like all that heavenly might is trying to escape. But he dresses like a hunter now, and he more or less lives at the bunker, and he’ll eat food if Dean cooks it, says it tastes less like molecules when it comes out of Dean’s kitchen.
Dean’s never been great with words, so he takes Cas’ face in both hands, rubbing his thumb at the corner of Cas’ mouth before he leans in and kisses him. Cas makes a soft, inspiring noise into it, and he wraps both arms around Dean’s waist, pulling him closer. The wind rustles the collar of Cas’ coat. Cas tucks one hand under Dean’s shirts, holds it at the small of Dean’s back.
My favorite shot from my session with one of my best friends @themistergatsby yesterday! If you’re in Huntsville/Birmingham/Tuscaloosa and need a photographer (graduation photos, probates, weddings, headshots, etc.) definitely contact him!
Why Alabama? This is why Alabama. This is watching the most unbelievable sunrise on the top floor of a parking garage. This is staying up all night getting to know some truly amazing people. This is living in a new state and being able to call it home. This is watching this view knowing it’s THE FIRST GAME DAY OF THE SEASON. This is everything. This is my life. This is Alabama. And I couldn’t be happier.