Life is so much easier when Mirra doesn't need to leave her damn hotel room, but it's fairly difficult for people you meet online to trust your information unless they see you in person. It's stupid, really, because she hates leaving her car, hates leaving the safety of a pristine room, hates having to go out into the filthy disgusting public, depraved and lunatic and ignorant people swarming around her, but there are some things that require a face-to-face meeting even in her own opinion.
Fucking Hunters. Fucking bars.
Why the hell the person on the other end of the internet connection had insisted on meeting in this dive, she'll never know. Fortunately, she's dressed appropriately. Unfortunately, intending to look dowdy in comparison to other women, and realizing that there are no other women, well that's just exactly just how Mirra's luck fucking works.
There's a knife strapped to her her forearm, another tucked in her boot, one on the inside of her thigh. There's another in the small of her back, harder to get to but easy enough to locate if need be. Even with all the blades at her disposal and the fact that she's not nearly drunk enough to be in this seedy bar by herself, Mirra doesn't feel safe.
"Double vodka and water," She tells the bartender. "Lime, if you've got it." Sitting delicately on the edge of the bar stool, she barely manages not to flinch when someone sits down next to her. The guy, wearing a scuffed brown leather jacket, orders a beer and doesn't look at her, not even casually.
"Four bucks," The bartender says, smacking her drink down in front of her.
"I got it," The guy next to her says, tossing a bill towards the bartender, finally turning to face her.
I can pay for my own drinks, Mirra almost snarls at him, and barely manages to stop herself. Instead, she forces a smile on her face and says "Thank you," while hoping that this guy is the one she came here to see. If not, she's going to have to ditch him-- and she's not about to hang out in this creepy little small-town dump any longer than she needs to.
He studies her for a second, picking up his beer and raising it to his lips for a long, intense swallow.
And, right, okay, the first thing Mirra had noticed about him was the leather jacket, but the second thing she notices is that he has absolutely beautiful hands, well-manicured, the nails clipped short and squared off, not a jagged edge to be seen. It's hard not to admire them, the way his fingers curl so casually around the bottle, condensation making his skin look a little softer, a little more touchable. He's wearing a ring on his right hand, a thin band that clinks softly against the glass when he picks up the bottle.
Handsome guy in a bar - he's handsome, almost pretty, but clearly not trying to be. "You come here often?" He asks, which shuts down her last hope that he's a hunter, here to get some information and leave.
"No," She replies, shaking her head a little bit too emphatically, her ponytail bouncing a little. "I have never been here before and I doubt I'll ever come back. What's your name?"
"Dean," He says, and the cocky little smile that accompanies his name is almost too much. "What's yours?"
"Briar," She says, the name she'd already decided on using instead of her real name. The vodka is soothing on her tongue, even though Mirra can't figure out what she's doing talking to this guy? It's pretty obvious that he isn't interested in her mind --
And there's a twinge in the back of her mind, something she can't really put a finger on, just a vague feeling that something's wrong. Her fingers clench uncomfortably tight around the cool glass, squeezing tight enough that her knuckles go white. There's a saltshaker on the bar, presumably to assist with anyone stupid enough to do shots of tequila, but it's about half full so she pockets it. Nobody notices, not even Dean, who is busy drinking his beer and smiling at her.
The thin, tremulous hold she has on reality shatters, and then ---
"Fuck," Mirra says, and then she grabs her purse and heads for the door, drink spilling over the counter, spreading in a pool on the scarred wooden floor. She's scared out of her fucking mind. Something bad, something bad is coming; it's coming now and it's coming fast, and she needs to get the fuck out of the bar. The saltshaker is in her pocket, she turns it upside down, crystals spilling haphazardly into her palm. She needs to leave ---
"Are you okay?" Dean says, still behind her, his hand wrapped tight around her wrist, sliding towards her elbow. He has strong hands, callused and strangely gentle.
"Dean," Mirra says, looking over her shoulder. The parking lot doesn't feel safe to her, but Dean looks serious all of a sudden, not flirting even a little bit.
"Uh, look -- Briar, if you're... in some kind of trouble," He says.
"We both are," Mirra says honestly, and then she throws a handful of salt over his shoulder, his shout of surprise drowned out by the screech of rage that the phantom behind him makes as it disappears.
And then it turns out that Dean is, in fact, the hunter she was supposed to meet in the bar.
"Don't you have better places to meet people?" She hisses at him, crouched underneath a bush - and it smells like wet earth and rain and a thousand other outdoorsy things that Mirra hates. "IHOP. We could have gone for some fucking pancakes, Dean, nobody gets fucking hunted down by the Wild Hunt at IHOP!"
"Why don't you just tell me how to kill it?" Dean asks, not bothering to look at her as he reloaded his gun. He's quick and efficient, not a single wasted movement. He's also flipping through a book, something old with the pages falling out, and he either knows what he's looking for or he's not reading any of the words.
"The ghosts are easy," Mirra says. "Find their bodies, salt and burn them - but for fuck's sake, will you stop that - you can't go up against the Wild Hunt, Dean, they'll tear you apart -- will you just give me that," and he tells her to shut up, and she calls him an idiot, and then everything promptly goes to hell.
The third time he saves her life, Mirra doesn't say anything, but Dean gives her a look and she thinks that maybe he's more used to working with someone else than she'd originally thought.
"You are a first-class a bitch," he says, when they've managed to make it back to his car, which has an arsenal in the trunk and a shitload of things Mirra's never even heard of. Strangely enough, his voice is almost fond.
"You're a moron," she replies absently, rummaging through the books in the back seat and trying to pretend that she doesn't know Dean is staring at her ass. "Also, where did you get all of this? I can't believe you needed my help to understand..." When she turns around, Dean is incredulous.
"I don't know Latin," He says. "Or any of that other shit." which obviously explains why he has the books in the first place.
"Right," Mirra rolls her eyes and thinks, we just need to get out of this alive, and then you'll never see him again.
Her luck, as it is, means that they probably don't have much more time before whatever they're looking for comes to find them, but Mirra thinks she's got the whole thing figured out.
"Tell me you have good news," Dean growls. He looks good wearing a thin layer of grit, his skin shining a bit with sweat. Mirra decides not to notice this.
Somehow, they don't die during the course of the next five hours.
"I just wanted to say thank you," Mirra says, carefully wiping a damp cloth over the cut on Dean's hand.
"Well, I guess I can't help it when there's a damsel in distress to save," He replies, flirting a little bit, his hand jerking back as she dabs at the edge of the jagged gash.
"I appreciated it," she says. "A lot," and then she puts away the cloth, grabbing some disinfectant and cleaning the cut itself. For one of a hundred thousand possible reasons, Dean sits patiently and lets her, a tiny grimace of pain on his face whenever she pokes at a particularly tender area.
He has nice hands, broad and with long, tapered fingers. She's well acquainted with his hands, having had to hold them as they ran for their fucking lives (eight times and counting). His hands have held her up, dragged her back from the edge of a precipice (twice), his hands have also squeezed bruises into her arms, holding on far too tightly (just the once, but that was enough). She can feel the smooth skin on the back of his hands give way to calluses, tough skin and a well-worn, comfortable feel that she knows comes only from what he does as a living.
"How did you know all of that stuff?" He asks, finally, a tiny crease between his brows.
"Research," Mirra replies almost absently as she smooths a salve down over the wound. It'll heal, and probably without scarring, but she can't be certain. She tapes it up, realizing belatedly how close they are. Dean doesn't say anything when she jerks away, dropping his wounded hand back into his lap.
"So, what, you just Googled it?" Dean asks.
"My name is Mirra," she says, stepping a little bit closer to him.
He's sitting in a loose sprawl, his hands palm-upward on his lap, and he looks up at her completely unsurprised, calm and a little amused. "Yeah, you never struck me as a Briar," he replies easily, raising his right hand - the one without the cut - to tug very gently on her sleeve, drawing her a little bit closer. "But my name really is Dean."
"Yeah, I know," Mirra says impatiently, and then he's drawing her closer, her arms braced on the back of the chair, not-quite sitting in his lap. He looks up at her with an infuriatingly smug look on his face, like he knows how fucking pretty he is, like he knows how much she loves the way he had picked her up and thrown her out of the way -- like he knows everything about her and he thinks he's just awesome. "You're annoyingly smug," She tells him.
"Shut up," he says, and then he kisses her.
Dean whispers obscenities into the curve of her lips, and it's almost endearing how much the words that come out of his mouth in the muttered spaces between kisses are not reflected at all in the gentleness of his touch. The juxtaposition is strange and a little bit exciting, like the way his hands span her waist, thumbs pressing into her flesh, his palms warm against her skin and a little sweaty.
It's 5:15 AM and the sun's not yet rising; Dean falls out of bed, tripping over a wayward shoe as he tries to get to his phone and swearing loudly. Mirra sits up in the bed, drawing her knees to her chest, and listens to him mumble "'Ello," into the receiver, sounding about as grumpily tired as she feels. A half-second later and he's all the way awake, back straight and eyes wide as he pulls his pants on one-handed, silent as he listens to whoever is one the other end. "Yeah," he says, once, and then he grabs a pen from the side table and starts writing. "Yes, sir."
Three minutes later he hangs up, without saying another word, still writing. "I'm going to have to go," he says, not looking up at her.
"Job?" She asks, covering a yawn with the back of her hand and kicking off the sheets. Her laptop is still on so she just opens a fresh window and says "Give me what you've got, I'll see what I can dig up."
Dean watches her with a small smile on his face. "You sure you don't want to put some clothes on?"
"I'm going back to bed in ten minutes," Mirra replies, looking up. "Give me what you've got or I'm going to bed now," and Dean starts rattling off names and dates. There isn't much information, but she's fairly certain that he's only dealing with a particularily vicious spirit.
Nine minutes and forty-eight seconds later, Dean drags her away from the computer and tosses her back onto the bed, pinning her wrists over her head and kissing her almost luxuriously. It's a goodbye kiss. Mirra is okay with that.
Even with cuts and bruises all over and a bandage on his hand from a cut that's all Mirra's fault, on Dean it's just another battle scar among many. Mirra has a tiny scrape on one knee andbruises on her hips, purpling up blue and black. "You bruise easily," he murmurs, lips brushing softly over the shape of his hand emblazoned on her skin. He fits his hands over the bruises, as if to make sure they're his.
"Yeah," Mirra agrees.
The next kiss goodbye is shorter, sweeter. "It's been fun," Dean says as he pulls on his jacket, checks his pockets his wallet and his keys. There are a lot of other things that he could have said to make this moment a little less awkward, but they are all lies, and Mirra appreciates his honesty if nothing else.
"Yeah," Mirra says again.
At 5:30 AM Dean leaves, Mirra crawls back into the bed and pulls the sheets over her head, and the sun tries to rise despite the overwhelming blanket of fog. When she wakes up two hours later, it's with a sour taste in her mouth and the knowledge that she's needed in Mississippi, of all the godforsaken places. She has been to Mississippi twice, and it is the closest place to hell that she can imagine on this earth.
Of course, Mirra thinks, lacing up her boots as she prepares to leave. That's just my fucking luck, isn't it? She grabs her keys and heads out the door.
(In her purse there is a carefully folded piece of notebook paper, a shaky hand print drawn in blue pen, whorls drawn in for fingerprints. Underneath it the only other thing on the page is a phone number, 866 907 3235. Mirra stares at it for a few moments. 905 555 7177, ask for Briar Washington ---M, she texts to the number, and then she saves it in her contacts as 'Moron / Hunter' and throws the paper in the trash.)