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How the Other Side Lives

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            When she met Sam in Vegas, she took it as a sign. She’d needed a sign, desperately, had been PRAYING for a sign, and then just like that: she had turned around and Sam Winchester had been right there.

            Her parents had both been killed in a car accident and she’d come to Vegas in order to spread their ashes per their request. The day of the funeral, dressed in black from head to toe and a complete hole in her heart that she had lost the only family she had left, she’d gotten the invitation in the mail. The invitation to her high school reunion, to a place and a time filled with people and memories she didn’t ever want to have to think about ever again.

            She and her mom had talked about it, actually, only a few weeks before, that the time had to be coming up and whether or not Becky would go. Her mom had wanted her to, to show that she was doing well despite what everyone there had ever said about her, all the years of solitude she had suffered through in those walls, the bullying and loneliness that left her sobbing in her mother’s arms wondering what was so wrong with her that she couldn’t even find a single person to be friends with.

            Even other outcasts wouldn’t befriend her for fear of being targeted by those same bullies. The people that were nice to her were only nice for as long as it took to get whatever it was they wanted from Becky, whether it be a laugh or a homework assignment. When other people were out with friends or at parties, Becky became friends with her parents instead, a weekly movie night where she actually did have fun, even if it wasn’t what she wanted.

            Then her parents were killed and she was facing down a reunion with those same awful, fake people who were nice-nasty and as cruel as any of the demons Sam and Dean had ever encountered. A reunion where she was suppose to talk about what all in her life had changed and how well things were going for her, and what did she have? Really? Her only family was now dead. Her mom who had been her best friend was dead. Her boyfriend, the famous author, dumped her with no real explanation as to why, and she had a job she was good at but absolutely hated with every fiber of her being and a boss that was a complete bitch to her.

            Great job. A real success. Way to go, Becky, you really showed them.

            She’d complained about this much in passing to Guy, the cute, albeit incredibly gay guy she’d met in the book store, only joking when she told him she wished life could be more fairy tale like, that she could have a Cinderella moment, so that for one night she could pretend her life wasn’t absolute crap, and could put on an act for one night to go to the reunion, show up with a Prince Charming on her arm and show everyone there that she wasn’t as pathetic as she knew she was. One night, a dream.

            She hadn’t known he was a Wiccan, certainly hadn’t know he’d turn out to be a demon, she’d just been saying the truth out loud so she wouldn’t end up screaming. He’d only offered her the thing she asked for, that he could give her the one night, a guy to actually truly care about her to take her to the reunion, to rub it in the faces of everyone who ever mocked her, which, let’s face it, was everyone in the school. Then, like Cinderella, it would be over. Her life would go back to normal, she would have proved them all wrong, and maybe in doing that, it would make the still fresh loss of her parents not hurt quite so much. She had no one else, now.

            She’d thought God was answering her prayers, showing mercy, that he was giving her a sign that she could rise above what her life had become and that she could fix it. She needed to fix it. For this to go perfect, for something to be perfect for once until this hole no longer felt like it was consuming her, until she didn’t feel so achingly lonely anymore.

            If she had been in the car with her parents during the crash… she knew the world would mourn for them, but she could think of no one that would actually mourn for her, and that hurt so much. To be invisible in her grief, to have no one to comfort her, to not have a friend to wrap their arms around her and tell her that she would get through it, that she would survive.

            She had the Cinderella potion with her when she’d gone to Vegas to spread her parent’s ashes. When she first saw Sam, she thought he was a figment of her imagination, a mirage. Then she thought God really was answering her prayers, because what could be a more perfect solution to her current dilemma than the very guy of her dreams. She’d have actually been thrilled to have run into Chuck again, for him to be her date, and for the two of them to reconcile and get back together now that the Apocalypse was over. That could have been her happy ending, a happy ending that didn’t need the Cinderella potion.

            Sam’s appearance in her life was a sign, it had to be a sign, please God, let him be a sign that I don’t have to go through this on my own and that my life will get better.

            It, of course, had been a complete disaster. In her grief and desperation for something to cling to, her head got all turned around and like she wasn’t even in control of her own actions. She could see what she was doing, but it was like she also had no control over it and couldn’t stop herself.

            Sam had been her salvation, though. He might have wanted her dead after this last time, but her desperate actions made her realize she couldn’t go through this alone, that things had to change or else it would destroy Becky.

            Grief counseling had done wonders for her. Then basic counseling, helping her deal with her own insecurities and learn how to interact more normally with other people despite her deeply ingrained insecurities that came from a lifetime of being the butt of other people’s jokes, from meeting people that befriended you with the sole goal of being able to stab you in the back later and laugh at your pain.

            Becky was willing to befriend anyone, to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. It was just the way she was, and she knew well enough never to judge someone by first appearance. She was a perfect example, really. So were Dean and Sam. She was actually smart and completely loyal; people never saw past the socially awkward and insecure part, though. She would make an excellent friend for someone, if only someone would be an excellent friend for her. Someone to really like her for her.

            So, she decided if she was going to break free of old patterns and her old life and move on, she really had to do a complete turn over. She moved to a new town, got a new job, a new apartment. She was settling in, still going to counseling, and reading books that would help her become a better person.

When the first package arrived on her doorstep, she’d thought it was from Chuck. It was weird, because they hadn’t spoken since they broke up, and the books had stopped being published with Swan Song. In the package had been a series of manuscripts, of Winchester Gospels. Winchesters Gospels that took place after Swan Song, books that weren’t even published.

She hadn’t even known what to do with the books. She designed her own covers and had them bound together each time a new one arrived, clearing space on her shelves next to the others so that the collection remained complete. She even got in touch with the publishers about continuing to produce the books. The most recent books had come with a letter explaining that the world needed these books. Well, okay. She didn’t know why Chuck wasn’t getting them published himself since he was the writer, but he’d weirdly enough written himself out of the books in Swan Song, maybe because it was too meta for the author to do a self-insert, even if it were true.

She knew getting sucked back up into Supernatural would be unhealthy for her though, a way to backslide back into her old patterns and bad memories and no, no, no. Other hobbies were suggested to her, other fandoms.

It was how she met Charlie, actually, at an outdoor screening of the Avengers movie. Charlie Bradbury, a red-headed tech girl with a love for all sorts of great fandoms, really, ranging from TV and movies to computers to books, comics, and games. And she liked Becky, like, really liked her, they got on like a house on fire. And it was while they were out perusing an arts and crafts show with frozen coffees that Becky realized with a start that she had a friend.

Like, an actual for real friend. They had movie nights and met each other on their lunch breaks at the little deli between their workplaces. They hung out and talked and laughed and joked and… and suddenly Becky had someone in her life that would miss her if she were suddenly gone.

God, Sam really had been sent to her to help turn her life around, just not the way she had expected. He may hate her, but she couldn’t thank him enough, even if she would never see him again.

She also couldn’t wait to get to the books that followed the Winchesters current adventures, at present the books were still only taking place during the civil war in Heaven and Cas’ ill-conceived alliance with Crowley, which was so totally not gonna end well, she could tell you that right away. And she was pretty sure she remembered the news reports of the really hot guy showing up to cause miracles and smite the wicked before the reports had just died off. She had a lot of catching up to do as far as their story went.

She hoped getting the books meant that they were still alive. Hopefully, Dean and Castiel had made up as well. While, in her heart of hearts, she still shipped the Sam and Dean from the book verse, when she thought of them as fictional characters, she also thought that maybe, if Dean were ever going to get a happy ending, it might very well be in the very last place he expected to find it: with an angel.

She liked that she was able to see the books in two lights: both as fiction and non-fiction. She could ship Sam and Dean in her head the way she wanted to see them and how she imagined they would act, while in reality, well, having met them, she knew she had a better chance of ending up with Sam than Sam and Dean had of ending up with each other. She really thought Dean and Cas could be together, if only they would realize how they felt about the other. If they survived the civil war and betrayal and all.

It had actually even been kind of amazing when Charlie had stayed for the weekend over at Becky’s during a snowstorm that kept them away from work, when Charlie had discovered Becky’s collection of Supernatural books, and for once, it was Becky introducing Charlie to something that the red-head seemed oddly fascinated with. Becky never would have taken Charlie for a fan of those type books, but the techie had a very broad range of interests and likes, and hey, the more fans of the series the better, especially now that the books were going to be printed again, thanks to Becky.

Not that she’d told Charlie about that, it would be hard to explain, what with the books being mysteriously delivered to her door and all.

“Can I borrow these?” Charlie had questioned, indicating the stack of books with her head as her fingers flew over the keys of her laptop. “I’m ordering my own copies, but in the meantime till they get here?”

Becky shrugged, happy to comply. “Yeah, sure. You can even read them while you’re here.” She motioned to the apartment around them. “The power’s down and the generator is only powering the kitchen right now, so reading is an awesome way to pass the time if you want.” A shrug. “I haven’t read the latest ones yet, actually.”

Like, not even kidding, Charlie up and ordered ALL the books right then and there with this maniacal grin on her face like she had hit the jackpot. Becky didn’t really get why she was so excited, but hey, new fandoms were always new and exciting, right?

They spent the weekend curled on opposite ends of Becky’s couch reading Supernatural, and actually, it was a lot nicer than Becky ever thought it could be. To be apart of Supernatural again, with some one else, go figure, and to enjoy it strictly as fans, rather than, y’know, knowing that all these stories were actually true.

Becky was just glad her full name had never been used in the books, just her first name. Becky was a common enough name. She’d known a Katie Bell, but that didn’t mean the girl went to Hogwarts.

Winter became Spring and it probably shouldn’t have surprised Becky that Charlie would be an immediate and hardcore Dean/Cas shipper rather than a Sam/Dean girl. Like, she was a maniacal shipper. It almost seemed to pain Charlie that she was unable to give Dean crap about his interactions with the angel.

“Omigawd,” the red head gasped. Becky glanced up from where she was painting a canvas to decorate a particular spot on her wall. “He’s gonna get so much crap for this,” Charlie declared.

Becky glanced to see which book she was reading. “Who is? About what?”

“Dean. All this blatant flirting with Cas. All the eye sex. I mean really. Omigawd, you. Just. Wait. He’s never gonna hear the end of it.”

Tucking her hair behind her ear, Becky returned to her painting, carefully outlining the owl in the corner. “Actually, Dean doesn’t get called on it much,” she told her. “It gets brought up, occasionally poked fun at, but never really in seriousness. It’s always mentioned in passing, but they haven’t been forced to actually focus on what’s between them and give it a name. Even after they’ve been friends for how long?”

“Seven years,” Charlie answered absently, her focus already on the book in her hands.

Becky looked up sharply, blinking rapidly. Charlie seemed to realize her own mistake and barked out a laugh.

“Listen to me. Seven years. Ha! Where’d I get that number? God, I can’t brain today.” She placed a bookmark in the pages and rose from the couch. “I need more coffee.”

The blonde watched the other female make her way into the kitchen, internally doing that math herself. If the boys were still alive, and Dean and Cas were still friends, Charlie’s sleep-addled math actually wasn’t far off the mark. God, had they really been friends that long? Wow, now that she thought about it, after that long, yeah, they really needed to get their heads out of their asses and get together if they hadn’t already.

God, she really wanted the more current books to get to her quickly so she could read the stories taking place currently rather than what happened a few years back.

When Becky came back to sit on the couch, she got into a heated text conversation with someone that left her grinning like the Cheshire Cat, occasionally commenting out loud with scoffs and snorts.

“Who’s that?” the blonde asked, setting her paintbrush aside.

“My handmaiden,” answered the red-head simply, causing Becky to blink with a start and frown in confusion. Charlie waved a hand dismissively. “It’s a joke. Friend of mine that ended up going to a LARP event with me one weekend. They ended up being my hand-maiden while they were there, so we could stick together.”

Charlie nodded. “Oh, you told me about that. Moondoor, right?”

“Still reigning queen, bitches.” They both laughed.

It was definitely a sign from God she was getting. Or signs. There was no other way to explain her life anymore other than divine steering. Why God would chose to take an active role in one miserable fangirl’s life, she had no idea, but there really was no way to explain the complete turn around she’d gone through. Yes, the grief counseling and further counseling had done her wonders, but seriously, mysterious packages containing the Winchester gospels being delivered to her and for her to actually succeed in getting them published? For her to now have this AMAZING friend who would rip someone a new one if they got rude with Becky in her presence?

It had to be divine intervention. She had no idea how or why, but that was what she was chalking it up as, and considering she had met the heroes of the world and dated a Prophet of the Lord, it was hardly the craziest thing she’d ever heard happen.

~*~

The next package of manuscripts came with manilla envelope filled with newspaper clippings and some printouts. A series of victims across the U.S. that finally led to her town, the connection being linked to a traveling historical display, and one of the items that had to be in it.

It was a job. As in, a Sam and Dean Winchester-type job.

But, holy shit, how was she suppose to get it to them, and God knew she was the LAST person on the face of the planet they would ever want to see after what happened last time, not that she could explain, not that they would ever think she was anything other than a freak. She knew they thought so, and God, did that hurt, especially when she held them in such high regard, even Dean, but she also understood why, too. They never got to see past the fangirl, past the obsessed freak out of touch with reality. Forgive her if the first time they’d met it had been right after she’d found out her absolute favorite book series and it’s characters was real.

Sam would be excited, too, if he met Harry Potter! Then, there had been the Supernatural convention, and really, she had thought she was doing a good thing, that it would be nice for the boys to see how many fans they had and that there were people cheering them on, even if they didn’t actually know they were real. And then that last time… God, that had been a disaster. Talk about not coping with loss.

She’d latched onto Sam like he was a life raft keeping her from drowning. Not that he knew the details, he just saw her actions, and yeah, she looked psychotic. It was hard to separate in her head sometimes that despite the fact that she knew the boys’ personalities, cared for them like they were members of her own family, though she was achingly familiar with both of them… they didn’t know her at all. They’d met in brief passing and none of the encounters had done anything to leave a good impression of her in their minds.

So she couldn’t exactly hunt them down now to pass on the job, and God only knew where they were or if they could get there in the time span the exhibit would be in town. Which left her where, exactly? The packages were a sign, a direction her life was suppose to go, a direction that now included a hunt.

She couldn’t even try to hunt down Bobby and pass the hunt on through him. Bobby was an excellent hunter, and she had no doubt if she went to him, even anonymously, that it would lead the boys to her, and well, yeah, that just wasn’t going to happen.

Calling in sick so she could do research on the items in the exhibit had been the only logical solution. She got paid for her work with the books, royalties, so it wasn’t like she was losing money.

Someone had already died since the exhibit got to town. She’d fixed her hair, put on her best dress suit, acquired a fake FBI badge and ID, and then had gone straight to the coroner’s office to fake it like a porn star.

Acting like she knew what the hell she was doing was actually easier than she expected. She’d done well working the case with Sam before, and she had all the books to pull on for what to do in any given situation.

The boys had it easy, really, they could tag team people to get through a situation, alternating bad cop and good cop, puppy dog eyes from Sam, then ‘I don’t have time for your bullshit’ from Dean, or whatever other tactics they needed to get what they wanted. She tried to keep her flirting to a minimal as, let’s face it, it wasn’t her strong point. She could play the hell out of a research assistant sent to retrieve texts for a professor though.

By the time night fell, the hard part came. Reading the books about all of Sam and Dean’s B & E’s was one thing, trying to pull them off yourself was, well, another. She didn’t have their height or body strength, so trying to stealthfully climb in through on open window and then drop quietly to the floor hand landed her in an ungraceful heap, flat on her back and feet in the air, while her head throbbed from where it had acquainted itself with the ground. That settled it, she was getting a gym membership and taking up running. She probably should have already, because you never really knew when the zombie apocalypse was gonna strike, and everyone knew it was the slow ones that got eaten first.

She was dressed in black from head to toe, black cap on to try and hide the blonde of her hair and gloves on to make sure she never left finger prints. She’d started out with a utility belt of sorts for this case, but ended up with a small backpack instead. The boys usually carried a duffel, so her small back purse was fine, right? She looked like a regular cat burglar.

The case actually wasn’t bad, she wouldn’t have to desecrate graves or salt and burn the bones of some poor soul. All she had to do was find the cursed object, a noose in this case, and douse it with salt and holy water, then recite a purging passage over it to break the curse on it. She was okay with this, the college wouldn’t lose any money from the exhibit, the owners of the pieces wouldn’t lose any of the collection they were allowing to go on tour for educational purposes, and once she was finished, people would stop dying simply for having come in contact with the item.

And she did the job like a complete pro. Okay, so there had been a close call when she’d had to get away from the night watchman, er, watchmen, and alright, so maybe she’d ended up having to scramble up a tree like scared cat and wait there in the branches until they finally gave up looking for her, but hey! It was nice to know in the case of zombies, her running skills were already pretty decent! And she had gotten the job done, so she was calling this hunt a success… and wondering how the hell Sam and Dean managed to do this all the time when she finally managed to crawl into bed in the wee hours of the morning. They could manage on some four hours of sleep a night regularly. She’d destroy the world herself if she had to do that.

~*~

“You look awfully like the cat that ate the canary today,” Charlie commented at lunch the next day, brow arched. “Circles under your eyes and a pleased smile on that face.” She regarded the blonde as Becky bit back a smile and pushed around her salad with her fork. Charlie let out a scandalized gasp that made Becky meet her eyes again, the other woman leaned forward to whisper, “Becky Rosen! Did you spend your night getting sexed up in a way that would put Dean Winchester to shame?”

The blonde barked with laughter, choking on her drink and nearly spewing it out. “What?! No! Don’t be absurd. I just was wired last night and couldn’t sleep. Ended up going for a jog.”

Charlie sat back in her seat. “You jog?”

“I’m taking it up. You know, in case of zombie apocalypse.”

The red head waved her off. “Have your jogging. I’ll keep my stockpile of authentic replicated weaponry and take my chances. The force is strong with me and I’ve been known to be rather kickass a time or two myself.”

Then something Charlie had said registered with Becky, making her frown and tilt her head to the side. “Wait. You said ‘Dean Winchester’? The boys’ last name isn’t ever given in the books, is it?”

Charlie blinked, her face going blank. “Isn’t it? I know I read it somewhere.” Becky opened her mouth, but Charlie shrugged and waved a hand. “You better not be getting mind blowing, all-night long sex and withholding the details from me, B. Weren’t you taught to share?”

They both laughed then and slipped back into animated conversation as their lunch break continued, the two of them grinning as they talked.

~*~

Things turned bad- and she knew they would, that they had to, as all things in her life always did- a couple of days later at movie night. The pizza had just gotten there, the drinks were ready, and Star Trek: First Contact was waiting for them. Becky was already comfortably on the couch, and Charlie still puttering around the kitchen when someone knocked on the door. Both girls looked, Charlie frowning in confusion.

The red head moved over to look out the eye-peep. Her reaction was weird. She gasped and spun around as if bracing the door closed, a swear coming out as her gaze locked onto where Becky was still sitting on the couch. The blonde moved to stand, worried what was wrong.

“No!” exclaimed Charlie, hand out to stop her best friend. “Everything’s fine, totally fine, just some friends who never call to warn a person before coming by!” The last part she said loudly in order to be heard by whoever was on the other side of the door. Someone one the other side said something, a muffled ‘Sorry!’ coming through. Her smiled wobbled nervously on her pale face. “I’ll, uh, just go talk to them and be right back. You can start the movie, if you want.”

She opened the door just enough for her to squeeze through it and out into the hall. Before the door shut, a male voice asked, “We interrupt a date or somethin’?” and Becky missed Charlie’s hissing reply.

She sat on the couch nervously, a bad feeling swimming in the pit of her stomach like the night the cops had called about her parents. She’d known that night, too, that something was wrong, an unease settling over her, she just hadn’t known why until the phone call. Now, something else was wrong, but compulsively, she got up and crossed the apartment to peer through the eye-peek.

A gasp escaped her, hand coming up to cover her mouth. There in the hallway, were Sam and Dean Winchester, talking as easy as you please, to Charlie. Sam and Charlie had their head bent together, going over some paperwork in a file folder, while Dean explained and talked with his hands in low tones.

What the hell was going on? How did Charlie know Dean and Sam? How long had she known them? What the hell was going on and why were they here?

Oh God, if they found out she was there, that would be nine circles of Hell-type bad. Or worse still, what if they found out about the books? That they were still getting published and that their favorite person was the one responsible? She knew they had warned Chuck about not publishing the books anymore, which would maybe explain why they were being sent to her if Chuck was the one sending them to her. That way if the boys found out, it led irate Winchesters to her door rather than to the nervous author. Well, that was just a dirty trick!

Becky was leaning against the back of the couch with her arms folded by the time Charlie made her way back into the apartment, folder still in hand. She carefully closed the door behind her so that Becky never got a glimpse of the two men in the hallway, which was probably a good thing considering how less than thrilled the two would be at seeing her.

The techie held up the file. “Sorry. They had some things they needed my help with and just wanted to drop this file off for me to take a look at.”

“How exactly do you know Sam and Dean Winchester, like, in reality?” Charlie froze where she stood. Becky shifted. “I mean, has this been some bizarre elaborate prank? It has to be a prank, because how else would I make a kickass friend unless it were a joke that hadn’t come to its completion yet?”

Charlie was blinking rapidly, hand raised as she tried to wrap her head around sudden turn of events. “Wait. What? You know the Winchesters? Like, in reality? For reals? How?”

Becky threw out a hand toward the door. “How else would I know who they are? How do I know them? How do you know them?”

Her friend had drifted closer a handful of steps, utter confusion on her face. “I helped them fight the Leviathans and Dick Roman about a year ago, and then we ran into each other again when they were working a case that lead them to Moondoor. Dean is my handmaiden!

“The handmaiden you’re texting all the time?”

“The same! We’re friends now; I help them out. They’re here on a case and wanted me to look into something. B, how do you know them?”

The blonde pointed toward the laden down bookcase against the wall. “I’m the Becky in the books! The only reason I didn’t get cut out of the story was because it was about the Michael Sword and plot relevant! Trust me, the Winchesters and I aren’t friends, after that last fiasco, they probably hate me.”

Charlie seemed even more confused, moving into the kitchen to grab a can of Pepsi, the folder the boys had given her on the counter. “What? Why would they hate you? Why didn’t you tell me you knew them?”

“Would you have believed me? You thought I was just another fan of the books. You’d never even heard of the books before you met me, even though you had met them in real life.”

Charlie nodded her consent at that point. “Valid point is valid, but still, why would they hate you over you getting excited to meet them in real life?”

Sighing heavily, Becky leaned back against the couch tiredly. “I met them again at the first ever Supernatural convention, that plot line didn’t make it into the books because it was broke the fourth wall too much. Then I met them again a few years ago.” She glanced up to meet her friend’s gaze. “Remember how I went to Vegas to spread my parents ashes and ended up married to some guy and then annulling it?”

The red head nodded. “Before you went into grief counseling. You said you both were out of your minds that weekend. Got it annulled once you sobered up.”

A bitter laugh escaped Becky and she dropped her gaze. “Oh we were out of our minds alright. Sam was the guy.” Charlie gasped in shock, and Becky went on to explain the exact details of what really happened that weekend, fidgeting nervously during her confession. “So, yeah, that’s the last they saw of me, and if they saw me again it would be a bad, bad day.”

They were situated on the couch now, legs crossed and facing each other. Brows furrowed together and head angled to the side, Charlie stated, “Yeah, but even they didn’t get the whole story. Sam and Dean have no idea what a bad place you were in. I mean, to them, yeah, you seemed psychotic, no offense, but in reality, you were in a really, really bad place and they kept you alive and got you to seek help after losing the only family you had left. It was bad, sure, but it could have been worse. I’m sure if they knew the full details-“

“NO!” Becky cried out, startling her friend. “You can’t tell them! They can’t know I live in this town, or that we’re friends, hell, they can’t know that we know each other. I’m a memory they’d probably rather not have to think about again, and any connection you have to me will only work to your disadvantage.” She cleared her throat, dropping her gaze. “That time in Vegas wasn’t the end of the things I’ve done they’d be pissed at me about.”

Charlie’s eyebrows rose in surprise almost to her hairline. “What else have you done?”

Tongue darting out over her bottom lip, Becky let her gaze drift to where the Supernatural books were all neatly lined up on Charlie’s books shelves. “I’m sort of the reason the books are still being published even though the boys didn’t want them to?”

“You what?”

She sighed heavily, explaining in a rush. “The books just started getting mysteriously delivered to my door one day with no return address! I kept them at first, until they came with a letter explaining that they needed to be published and who I needed to contact in order to get it done. I can’t figure out why Chuck would send them to me to publish, and don’t know why it would be anyone else, but then I met you, too, and my life was actually going good for once, and then this,” she exclaimed, hand sweeping toward the door accusingly, “and I don’t know why or how all these things have happened, but you know, it was like Divine intervention on my behalf for once, and if the Winchesters find me-“

Charlie frowned, straightening defensively. “You don’t really think they’d hurt you, do you, Becky? Dean and Sam would never-“

No, but I can’t stand the way I know they’ll look at me, either, that hurts more.”

Silence settled over them then, neither looking at the other as they tried to mull over this sudden convergence of double-lives and where that left them as friends. Becky broke the silence first, more for a change in subject than anything.

“So what did the boys bring you that they need your help with? What kind of help?”

“Research,” Charlie said, reaching over to retrieve the file from the coffee table. “They think there’s another player in town. A friend of theirs, Garth, sent them here on a case, but then when they went to work it, they’re weren’t any signs of anything being wrong, so they wanted me to backtrack and see if Garth’s information on the item in question was wrong or if someone had really already worked the case.”

Becky stilled. “A case involving the exhibit over at the college right now?”

Charlie looked at the paperwork in front of her, reading it over. “Uh, yeah, looks like.” She glanced up. “How did you know?”

Becky sunk down in her seat, hugging a pillow to her chest tightly. “…I worked the case.”

“You have got to be kidding.”

“The day I looked so tired and you teased me about all night sex? I’d been up half the night over at the college.”

“You’re the hunter in town? Shut the front door!”

The blonde rapidly shook her head. “No, no, no. I am not a hunter, okay? Let’s be clear on that. So not a hunter. The information came to me with the last manuscripts, and for obvious reasons, I couldn’t pass it on to Sam and Dean. I happen to live here, so I looked into myself. It was easy enough to take care of and that was it.”

Charlie whistled. “Good thing you didn’t wait till the next night to do the job, you’d have run straight into the Winchesters.”

That would have been a disaster.” She scoffed and shook her head, trying to imagine that scenario. “God, I can only imagine how mad they’d be, some rookie fangirl sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong and risking getting herself killed.”

“But you did the job,” Charlie pointed out.

Her friend shrugged. “I did the job. I still don’t know why it came to me, but I did the job.”

The red head shrugged. “Then I’ll just tell the boys it looks like someone beat them to the punch.”

Becky chanced a glance at her, their eyes meeting and locking. “And where does that leave us?”

The other woman cocked her head. “Better off than before, I guess? Now you know why I’m cackling so hard over the books because I really am going to give the boys crap over them. So, wait, if your adventures with the boys are in the books, or even just the one, does that mean I’m in the books as well?”

Becky shrugged. “Maybe? I haven’t gotten the books that far in the story yet. I just got to the part where Cas absorbs all the souls in Purgatory, and I already can tell it’s going to bite him in the ass. If what you did was closely tied to the main story arc, then yeah, probably you’ll end up in the books. Who are the Leviathans and, well, I’ve heard of Dick Roman from the news and all, though not lately. Are you saying he was evil?”

They spent the rest of the night talking, Charlie telling Becky about her encounter with the Winchesters and the hand she had in helping save the world, then when their lives crossed paths again with the LARPing fiasco. Now they stayed in contact, though when Becky asked, Charlie couldn’t really tell her anything about Cas. He’d last come to the Winchesters in order to get help in rescuing another angel that had been captured by Crowley, and said angel apparently didn’t make it. Last Dean had seen him, Cas had taken his brother’s body back to Heaven and had been MIA since, not answering prayers or anything.

Charlie didn’t actually know what had happened between what Becky had read so far in the books or how Dean and Cas somehow end up in Purgatory together after the fight with Dick Roman, knew that they both got out, and then that things had been both good and weird between them, but for whatever reason, Dean couldn’t really talk about it. Charlie had tried to tease him about it, and he’d assured her that it was something he’d learned in dealing with angels: you never knew who was listening in, and with what they were dealing with currently, the less he said, the better.

And that was it, really. Life back to normal, except now they could both talk about the Winchesters like mutual friends, and Becky could talk to Charlie about things with the books and what was going on with publishing, or Charlie could tell Becky about conversations she had with the Winchesters if they asked for her help on a case.

It was life, a little less ordinary, but life. And, really, they were both inclined to agree that they’d been led to one another, and the Winchesters. If reading the books had taught them anything, well, it that there were much bigger players at work than just them. And hey, they were fine with that, totally fine.

Until the next manuscripts showed up, with yet another case included as well.

It sat in the center of the dining table, both girls eyeing the envelope suspiciously. Charlie rose and walked into Becky’s kitchen.

“This calls for tea. This definitely calls for tea.”

“This might call for something stronger than tea,” Becky called back. “Is there soda in the fridge?”

The red head swiveled her head around to regard her. “I am not giving you that much sugar. We have to figure this out.”

“You don’t think I’m suppose to work the case again, do you?” Becky asked, a twinge of panic to her voice. “Not a hunter! So I dated a prophet, and well, was married to a hunter for, like, a short period, but that does not make me a hunter! So does not!”

Charlie held up a hand. “B, relax. We’ll figure this out. We haven’t even looked at the case, yet. Who knows, maybe we can pass it off to the boys, or, I dunno. I can call Garth since they gave me his number, pass it on to him, and he can pass it on to whatever hunters are closest to the area.”

“How are you going to explain it to them that you found it?”

The red head looked affronted, pointing to herself. “Genius.” She moved to stand by the table again, pulling the file towards her and flicking it open. “I probably could have found loads of cases by now had I been looking for them, I just wasn’t going out… of my… way… Hm.”

Becky stood up, moving into the kitchen as the kettle started to whistle. “Hm?” she echoed. “What ‘hm’?”

“Think I know why it’s coming to you, at least.” She turned and held up a newspaper article. “It’s local, just like last time. You are the closest person, apparently, to look into it.” She set the paper down again, spreading the pieces of paper out to look at. “A couple killed after they left a charity event for the children’s hospital. No sign of forced entry. Nothing stolen that they can tell, but house trashed, so who knows. Police baffled.”

“That definitely sounds like a Sam and Dean case,” Becky commented, handing the other girl her mug of tea.

“Mm, can’t see how, it wasn’t an auction or anything. So it’s not like they bought something there that was cursed and took it home with them. In fact, they were the biggest supporters of the hospital, donating not only money but time into it. Getting them killed will probably leave the hospital scrambling for new sponsors.”

“So then why are they dead?”

“I just opened the file; I have no idea.” She closed it again. “But, I will call Garth and pass along the tip. Once we figure out why they were killed. I can’t send him a case where my only lead that it’s actually a case is that it was hand delivered to either one of us.”

Which lead them to research why that particular couple.

…which lead to them dressing as Crime Scene Investigators so they could get in the house to do a ‘final sweep’ of the place after Charlie hacked into their systems to see what they had already catalogued and filed.

“Okay, you’re the expert here,” Charlie stated when they were past police tape and alone in the house. “What do we do now?”

Blue gloves already on, Becky knelt to dig through her bag. “You’ve read a good chunk of the books. Start with the basics. Here.” She tossed her a handheld device. “Do a sweep for EMF. You said the reports didn’t have anything about sulfur, right?”

Booting up the contraption, Charlie began a slow circle around the living room where the couple had been killed. “Uh, yeah. No signs of demonic activity.”

“That they picked up. Okay. I’ll look for anything with symbols on it that could be curse or something. Reports didn’t mention anything that could be a hex bag, did they?”

“No witchy devices.” She paused in her scan. “Though, then again,” her eyes swept the room and the blood stains in the carpet and on the furniture. “Given the way they were killed, I highly doubt a hex bag would have garnered any notice from them. They were probably looking for how the perp got in, got out, and what weapons they used that caused this much arterial spray.”

Becky had been carefully keeping her eyes away from the large bloodstain in the middle of the room. She had no idea how hunters got so desensitized to be able to make jokes about this stuff, but she was beginning to think it was the only way to do the job.

“Anybody else to do with that hospital die anytime recently?”

“A few of the other donators. One of a heart attack, the other in a car accident, nothing like this. The head nurse died at the hospital about a year ago.”

Becky paused frowning, then swiveled her head around to regard the red head. “But increasing in violent nature,” she murmured. “How’d the nurse die?”

Charlie met her gaze from across the room. “All honesty? Looks like a Leviathan attack, and the Winchesters put down the chompy double. Leviathans originally tryied to get seated not only in positions of power but in places they could find an easy meal as well.”

“So definitely a violent death, then, right?”

The EMF meter falling to her side, Charlie angled her head. “You’re thinking vengeful spirit?” She held up the device and waggled it. “How come it’s not going off then?”

The blonde shrugged, adjusting the bib of her cap on her head. “We haven’t found what brought the spirit home with them or where she got in if it wasn’t an item?”

Charlie sighed, face morphing into one of dread. “We’re probably going to be digging up a grave tonight, aren’t we?”

“Better than a witch,” Becky shrugged. “At least this way, all we have to do it salt and burn the bones if that’s the case. If it was a witch, we’d have to kill the person.”

It was a vengeful spirit, in fact. A nurse furious that after all the time and effort and hours nurses were putting into the hospital, keeping it running and being their for patients, it was forever the patrons of the hospital ending up in the papers rather than the staff, or even the patients and volunteers. It was the people throwing around a lot of money in order to get a tax break that were being sung as heroes.

Also, digging a perfect grave? So not as easy as Dean and Sam made it sound! The next day, both girls were exhausted and had hands covered in blisters. Charlie had multicolored bandages all over her hands and fingers, bemoaning that her fingers were the tools of her trade, she needed them like a surgeon needed his hands, dammit, and next case that came their way, they were sending it to Garth, she didn’t care if it was something happening right next door!

Except, of course, that didn’t happen either. Which, in retrospect, was actually a good thing.

Students started dying at the university. Dry land drownings within the college halls. That one, at least was a pretty straight forward case. A painting had been donated to the college of a mermaid on a rocky outcropping looking out to sea, the little cliff side village in the distance and ship coming to shore. The painting was the final work of a girl who had committed suicide through drowning after years of bullying, and now her spirit was apparently going after students that used bullying tactics with others.

They just had to sneak in, steal the painting, and then destroy it. After her little romp around campus last time, Becky was even more familiar with the grounds this time, so that getting in to the painting was almost easy.

The problem came when, as they were stealing it, another person clad all in black showed up. Another female thief joining the show. Which made no sense, the painting wasn’t actually worth anything as far as Becky knew, it had been donated as part of an anti-bullying sentiment within the local area, that the life that had created such beautiful artwork was gone because of the words used by other people.

Charlie and the newcomer ended up in a stand-off, both pointing tazers at the other one until Becky drew and pointed her own as well.

“You’ve come to steal a painting with no monetary value?” Becky asked.

The woman’s green eyes seemed to glow in the darkness, standing out in sharp contrast from the dark of her hair and her clothes.

“I could ask you the same thing,” she said evenly. “What do you want with it?”

“No disrespect to the dead,” Charlie spoke up, “but we plan to destroy it, actually.”

The woman stiffened more than she already had been. “Destroy it?” she echoed, voice louder than she meant so that it was amplified down the hallway in a way that made the other girls gringe. Then she did something very strange: she relaxed her posture, lowering her weapon to her side. “You’re hunters, aren’t you?”

The two other women exchanged a glance uncertainly before lowering their weapons as well. “You could say that. You, too?”

The woman nodded, then tipped her head toward the painting. “The girl’s family brought the painting to my gallery, wanting to see if I could help in getting it displayed with an anti-bullying sentiment, make people aware that certain behavior is not acceptable and has life long consequences, even just the words you speak. The gallery, in turn, approached the college. I’ve actually had a problem similar to this before with a piece that came through our hands, so when people started dying, it was easy to put two and two together and come up with cursed object. I’m here to destroy it as well.”

Blinking in surprise, Becky and Charlie regarded each other, communicating silently in hand gestures and shoulder shrugs before they both turned back to the dark haired woman.

“Are you Sarah?” they asked in unison.

The woman blinked with a start. “How could you know that?”

“Sam’s Sarah?” Becky pressed. “Sarah Blake?”

Emerald eyes flicked to each of them. “You two have a lot of explaining to do, but we really need to get this painting taken care of first.”

Together the three of them got the painting and got away from campus grounds with it, taking it to an empty parking lot to destroy, salt, and burn, before heading off back to Charlie’s apartment, the three of them sitting around the dining room table with cups of tea before anyone really spoke.

“So,” began Charlie carefully, eyes finding Sarah’s across the table. “You are Sarah Blake, right?”

The dark haired woman nodded. “Yeah, though, I’m not Sam’s Sarah, if we’re talking Sam Winchester. I haven’t seen him in years, so I-“

“You’re in the books,” Becky interjected.

Green eyes met hers. “Books?”

“Yeah, books,” Becky confirmed, before taking in a deep breath and letting it out in a long sigh. They had a lot of explaining to do.