John, Sam and Dean pull up to the dumpster behind the warehouse.
As they climb out of the ’67 Chevy Impala, they each look around acutely aware there could be eyes watching them from a distance. John lifts the lid of the industrial dumpster easily, his black t-shirt stretching across his muscular chest. John’s salt and pepper locks are the only indication he might be closer to forty than his physique suggests.
Dean, approaching the tail end of his teen years, is already almost as strong as his Dad. Sam, the youngest Winchester, has yet to hit puberty, however what he lacks in muscle he makes up for in height. Although four years younger than Dean, Sam is almost as tall as Dean. He is all knees and elbows at times resembling a colt learning to walk.
While holding the dumpster lid open, John squints peering into the refuse. With a “click” he flips on his black flashlight. “What the ...” before John can finish his statement Sam interjects, “Dad! Is that a person?” his shaky voice echoing in the empty lot.
“Dean,” John growls. Without hesitation, Dean jumps in the dumpster landing on the cardboard boxes and bags of trash.
Sprawled out in the garbage is a young girl. Her black straight hair is fanned out amongst the waste. Her almond shaped eyes are closed and she wears a pained expression. Her sharp cheekbones contrast her smooth caramel skin. Her clothes are ripped and bloodied. She is encrusted in dried blood, garbage and waste. A distressed cry escapes her lips. Broken from his trance, Dean lifts her in his arms. Refusing John’s help, he carefully jumps down from the dumpster in an attempt not to jar her.
“Is she ..?” Sam asks hesitantly scared to finish his sentence.
John assess the girl’s physical condition. A siren wails in the distance.
“Let’s move,” he says dropping the dumpster lid silently.
“Sammy, front seat,” John orders as Sam yanks the back door open for Dean letting him slide in the back before jumping in the front. He never rides in the front.
The young girl shifts slightly in Dean’s arms. Her jeans are ripped, unzipped and the button has been torn off. Her shirt is in tatters exposing bruising and dried blood. She smells terrible, but it doesn’t bother Dean. What bothers him is that someone threw her away, like garbage.
“DEAN!” John growls.
Dean looks up at John with a startled expression not realizing he was staring.
“Test her,” he says glancing back at his eldest, tearing his eyes away to watch the road. Dean shifts slightly reaching for the canvas bag next to him. He awkwardly pulls a knife from the bag trying not to jostle the girl. Holding her up with his left arm, he grips the knife in his right. With a hushed prayer he presses the knife against her skin. When nothing happens he exhales deeply.
“Negative on the silver,” he says in a calm voice careful to not betray the emotions rolling inside of him.
He tosses the knife back into the canvas bag and reaches for a small vial of water. Pulling the cork out with his teeth, he splashes a few drops over her exposed neck.
“Negative on the holy water,” he says tossing the small bottle back in the canvas bag.
John shakes his head running his hand through his hair. “Sammy call Ellen,” he says gruffly. Sam scrambles for his dad’s cell phone finding Ellen Harvelle in his contacts.
Sam offers the phone to John and he grabs it shakily.
“Ellen, it’s John,” he says sternly.
Sam peeks his head over the seat to stare at the girl. Despite all the jostling and the sirens, she is absolutely still.
“You know I wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t important. Can you meet me at the Silver Saddle Motel outside of Santa Fe?” he asks.
When John ceases talking, Dean wonders if Ellen hung up on him. Realizing she is still on the line, most likely chewing John out, John interrupts, “Ellen. We found a girl. I am in over my head,” he says.
“See you soon,” he says tossing the phone to Sam.
Dean shifts his gaze back down to the girl in his lap. Her eyes open suddenly and for a second he is staring at the bluest eyes he has ever seen.
Blue like the sky on a clear day
Blue like an endless ocean
Blue like a small fragile Robin’s egg
Blue like forget me not flowers
Not just one shade, but every shade. Her eyes look through Dean as if not registering him just before rolling back in her head. It happens so swiftly, Dean wonders if he imagined it.
He readjusts her lifeless form resting her head on his shoulder undisturbed by the smell and the stiff material of her clothes. John glances at Sam and then at Dean.
He presses his foot down on the accelerator as the Impala roars down the highway.
By the time they arrive at the motel, you are awake.
You came to in the car, finding the greenest eyes you have ever seen peering down at you with a questioning look. It was the last thing you saw before black spots peppered your vision and the blackness pulled you under.
The car quickly swings into a parking spot and shifts gears with a lurch. You close your eyes tightly feeling the walls of the car imprisoning you, suffocating you. As you begin to succumb to rising panic, you hear the opening and closing of car doors. You feel the awkward shifting of arms and legs as you are maneuvered out of the car. You hear a low “No” as the man holding you shakes his head. You curl deeper into yourself. You push the pain, still raw and fresh, down to the corners of your soul and grind your teeth.
A gangly boy opens the door to the motel room and you are gently deposited on a sofa while an older man peers into the parking lot before locking the door. You sit with your back straight staring at the small kitchenette set. The young man who carried you takes a seat leaning back in the chair staring at the ceiling. The young boy stands next to him, his hand hesitantly placed on the back of his chair. You glance at both of them assessing their relationship. Brothers. Your gaze is pulled to the man with his back against the motel door staring blankly into the room. Father.
A knock at the door pulls him from his stupor. He checks the peephole before removing the chain and unlocking the door. A woman with large brown eyes, brown hair and a plaid button down shirt walks in angrily. Mother? you think to yourself. She scowls at the older man, softening only when she sets eyes on the two boys.
You register her shock the minute she sees you. You haven’t inspected your injuries. The emotions would consume you. Swallow you whole. She pulls a chair from the kitchenette set and sits down in order to make eye contact with you scanning you from head to toe.
She glances over at the man, “John…” she says.
Without words, he understands. “Come on boys,” he says roughly.
John. You turn the name around in your head, wordlessly mouthing it feeling the pronunciation on your lips.
The youngest grabs his jacket and walks towards his dad. “Dean,” John says gruffly.
Dean. You envision the letters in your head whispering his name softly to yourself.
Dean finally stops staring at the ceiling and meets your gaze. His electric green eyes meet your periwinkle stare. You sit perfectly still holding your breath as if you were made of stone. Stone, I am stone.
“I will come back,” he says assertively staring at you intensely before grabbing his jacket and following his brother outside.
John nods at the woman and closes the door gently. She walks over and latches the chain.
She sits back down and takes a deep breath, her discomfort obvious.
“I am Ellen,” she says in a resigned tone. “That was John, his son Sam and his firstborn, Dean,” she says watching you warily.
You watch her assess you and realize she doesn’t know if understand English, or if you speak at all.
Your only response is a blink.
“Okay,” she says with a furrowed brow. “I am going to help you get cleaned up. I have a daughter around your age, so it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before,” she trails off wondering if this is futile.
“You are a mother?” you ask calmly. The words escape your lips unthinkingly.
Momentarily taken back, she looks at you skeptically and then a small smirk graces her lips. “Yeah. Her name is Jo, well Joanna” she says her eyes finding the corner of the motel.
You tilt your head observing her emotions. The breath she releases. The way she comforts herself by rubbing her legs. She is worried about her daughter. The emotions jar you and a deep crevice fractures the stony exterior you wrapped around your heart.
You rise standing in the middle of the room. Two queen beds occupy most of the bedroom. A canvas bag of clothes lays strewn to the side. As your gaze flits over a shotgun next to one of the beds, you keep your face impassive.
You notice a door ajar with white tile gleaming through the crack. The handful of steps to the bathroom are agony. Your muscles protest, but you make it inside and immediately lower the toilet seat to sit.
Ellen cautiously follows you, closing the door. Her expression softens just slightly at your discomfort. She pushes the shower curtain to the side fiddling with the handles. “Hot or cold?” she asks not bothering to look over her shoulder.
“Cold,” you answer. You steel yourself and clench your jaw lifting the remaining tatters of your shirt over your head. Your shoulders pop and there is a deep throb in your side. Your eyes scan over your chest and stomach, not really seeing. You aren’t ready to see yet.
Ellen stands as the tub begins to fill. She eyes the purple bruise along your ribcage and the bruises that resemble fingers on your arms. She scans the dried blood smeared across your chest and the cuts on your arms that are still red and angry.
“I-I will go get you a towel. You get in the water,” she says quickly rushing out of the bathroom. You ease the rest of your clothes off not bothering to pick them up off the floor.
Ellen comes back into the bathroom, relieved to find you in the tub. She carries two fluffy towels and a handful of travel size soaps.
She sets the towels on the sink and puts the soap on the ledge of the tub. She gathers your clothes and immediately puts them in a plastic bag.
The cold makes your skin pucker. Gooseflesh breaks out all over. The freezing water is a mercy. The thought of taking a warm bath after your confinement in the dumpster with rancid hot garbage makes your stomach lurch.
You gently lather soap between your fingers and wash your body.
“Do you want help washing your hair?” Ellen asks.
You eye her warily. The intense pain you felt removing your top would prevent you from thoroughly washing your hair. Clamping down your emotions you respond, “Please,” turning your back towards her.
She lathers the shampoo in her fingers massaging your scalp. As she begins to gently work through your tangles emotions begin to surface. She needs to stop. “That is enough,” you say curtly.
“You still have shampoo in your hair,” she says confused.
“I will rinse it out. The water is becoming warm anyway,” you say standing, adjusting the knobs to drain the tub and turn the showerhead on.
The cool water rinses the soap out of your hair. As droplets slide down your skin you begin to shake. You close your eyes clenching your fist burying the emotions deep within you. You take a steadying breath as you imagine steel. Steel. Shiny, cold and impenetrable. Steel doesn’t crack, you tell yourself as you turn off the water and reach for a towel.
As you dry off, you find yourself alone in the bathroom. John and his sons have returned and raised voices inform you John and Ellen have resumed their arguing.
A knock at the door interrupts your attempt to dry your hair. You open the door a crack. The shaggy haired boy’s brown eyes stare back at you. A flush blooms in his cheeks. “These are for you,” he says looking away handing you clothes. You stare at him blankly before taking the clothes and wordlessly closing the door.
You continue to dry your hair while examining the clothes. Jeans. Socks. Hiking Boots. Underwear. Bra. T-shirt. Knit Sweater.
You grip the sink in mortification. This is where they disappeared to while Ellen was helping you get cleaned up. Your hands begin to shake and you take a deep breath. Steel. Unyielding.
Your black hair begins to dry limply against your shoulder. You catch glimpses of your face and arms in the mirror. Despite the mild temperature, you pull on the heavy knit, grateful for its long sleeves.
You finger the heavy gray knit. Armor. The thought pleases you just for a second. You stand up straight ignoring the pain in your side and walk directly into the room where John and Ellen are engaged in a shouting match.
Sam is seated at the kitchen table watching Ellen and John argue. Dean’s arms are crossed as he leans against the wall. He is the only one who notices you have finally come out of the bathroom and pushes off the wall walking towards you purposefully.
John notices the movement and glances over to you. His eyes soften taking in your damp hair and the way the clothes hang off of you. Ellen closes her mouth pursing her lips.
She walks over to you and you cringe as she takes your hands in hers leading you towards the kitchen. She sits you next to Sam and you immediately pull your hands away squaring your shoulders. “Honey, what’s your name?” she asks in a soft tone.
“Azure” you say firmly.
“Azure, would you like to come home with me?” she asks.
You clench your jaw and stare at her intensely. You desperately try to control your breathing. She is trying to help. No, she pities you an ugly voice whispers.
Before you can say anything Dean interjects, “What? No, she is staying with us,” he says crossing his arms over his chest.
“Dean…” John warns.
“Dad. We found her,” he says his frustration growing.
“It isn’t finder’s keeper’s Dean,” Ellen bites back.
You watch the interaction with a furrowed brow. You glance towards the youngest boy, Sam. His head is propped up on his elbow watching the volleys between Dean and this woman. He notices you watching him, smiles and then rolls his eyes.
For a second, there is nothing funnier in the world. A tear slips out of your eye as you smile. Your smile turns into uncontrollable laughter. The pain in your side is becoming unbearable, but you continue laughing.
The dam is threatening to break. You stand abruptly gripping the table tightly willing yourself to hold on. Hold on or you’ll drown. Breathing heavily you can still hear Dean and Ellen bickering in the background.
Suddenly it becomes too much.
The wrenching pain of being thrown away like garbage. The physical pain of your injuries.
The dam breaks and waves of energy pulsate in your hands. At the last second you turn away from the group and hold your hands up towards the wall. With a crack, plaster and dust puff into the air. Spots dance in front of your eyes as your legs give out and you are hurtling to the floor.
Dean catches you just as your head is about to smack the ground. For the second time tonight, his eyes are the last thing you see before you lose consciousness.
You wake up swaddled in blankets. You begin to panic feeling the endless darkness until a cool breeze pulls your gaze to an open window. Desperate for fresh air, you hurl the covers off and quickly unhook the chain stepping outside into the breezy night.
You stand in the parking lot staring up at the stars taking huge gasps of air. That dumpster was supposed to be your grave.
You whirl around as the sound of footsteps grows closer and find yourself face to face with Dean.
He opens his mouth slightly, but before he can speak you ask, “Where are John and Ellen?” in a hasty tone.
“John is sleeping and Ellen got her own room for the night,” he says putting his hand in his pockets.
“She wants to take me away,” you say bluntly.
“I will never let that happen,” he says taking a step closer in an attempt to close the distance between the two of you.
You take a step back.
“I am a person,” you say shortly.
“What?” he asks looking at you confused.
“I am a person. I am not a thing you carry around,” you insist.
“No… of course not…” he stammers.
As a car door closes in the distance, you stare up at the sky again.
“Ellen should go home. To her daughter,” you say roughly.
“And you?” he asks softly.
You keep your face impassive as you filter through the few memories you have had since you woke up.
“I will stay with you,” you say solemnly and although you are sure there is no sound, you can almost hear the slam of the dumpster lid when they left you to die.
Sunshine flits through the curtains as you awake in the uncomfortably hot room. Hearing angry hushed voices arguing, you shift just slightly keeping your eyes closed.
“John Winchester you told me yourself you are in over your head,” Ellen spits out.
“Ellen. Thank you for coming. I will figure it out and I have your number if I don’t,” John answers with a dismissive tone.
The room is eerily silent before the front door closes a bit louder than necessary.
Ellen is gone.
You wait at least ten minutes before shifting again and slowly opening your eyes. You push off the suffocating blankets eager for the relief of cool air against your bare skin. You look down at your legs and realize you slept in jeans, although someone took off your hiking boots. You sit up slowly and then stand easing yourself out of bed. As you scan the room you notice you and John are alone. His back is turned towards you. Sam and Dean are gone, but their canvas bags with clothes strewn about are still in the corner with the shotgun you noticed last night.
John turns around barely glancing at you. “Go shower,” he orders.
You turn towards him your back straight, your face a mask of indifference. Noticing you haven’t moved from the bed, he meets your gaze. Staring at him you study his salt and pepper beard, his dark brown velvet eyes and thick lashes. The deep bags under his eyes suggest last night was the first night in weeks he has had a decent night’s sleep. He wears a fitted dark gray t-shirt, jeans, and boots. You continue to stare unflinching.
He clears his throat. “I mean, the shower is free if you need it. Sam and Dean will be back soon with breakfast and then we need to talk,” he says breaking away from your intense stare to haphazardly throw clothes in his own canvas bag.
You walk to the bathroom, shut the door and peel off your sticky jeans. You keep your eyes unfocused as you look in the mirror. As you lift your arms to remove your sweater a hiss escapes your lips. You pull your t-shirt up slightly and see a gruesome purple bruise. With Ellen gone, washing your hair is out of the question. You undress carefully and wrap one arm protectively around your ribcage as you turn the knobs. You adjust the water to cold and shower slowly, clenching your teeth through the pain in order to keep yourself from passing out. As you finish up and push the shower curtain to the side to grab a fresh towel, you notice clothes thrown indiscriminately over the bathroom sink.
The thought of John opening the bathroom door and flinging fresh clothes inside flits across your mind. You wince with every movement as you slide on fresh underwear, jean shorts a gray t-shirt and your hiking boots.
After attempting to hang your towel to dry, you exit the bathroom.
“Why are you holding your side?” John asks.
You look down realizing you are still hugging your torso. You lift the side of your shirt a few inches showing him the deep purple bruise on your rib cage.
“Damnit,” he curses under his breath.
“Sit. I will wrap it for you,” he says walking to the mini fridge pulling out two ice packs. He holds both ice packs in one hand while rummaging through the canvas bag and pulling out a beat up metallic white first aid kit.
He sets the ice packs and the kit on the table with a tinny ding that reverberates throughout the motel room. Flipping it open, he begins digging through it finding a long beige elastic wrap and large safety pins.
“Hold your shirt up,” he says roughly while unhooking the safety pins and putting them between his lips to free his hands.
He kneels next to your chair and you turn your body sideways allowing him better access to your torso. With a tight grip on the chair, you hold your shirt up as he lays a freezing cold ice pack on your ribcage.
“Hold that” he mumbles, safety pins still in his mouth as you struggle to hold one of the ice packs in place.
With both ice packs in place, he begins to wrap the elastic bandage across your slim ribcage. His hands shake resulting in a dressing that is too loose. It falls away from your skin and he curses under his breath realizing he will have to start over.
You release an exasperated breath, “I don’t bite John Winchester,” you say steadily glaring at him.
His eyes narrow as he looks up at you with an annoyed expression. You stare impassively at him ignoring the kick in your pulse. His glare turns into a hearty chuckle as he realizes those are the first words you have spoken to him and quickly begins re-wrapping your side with deft fingers.
You inhale relaxing slightly, ignoring the pain as the incongruity of the situation results in an amused tug at your lips.
The flicker of a smirk still graces your mouth as the door opens and Sam and Dean walk into the motel room.
Caught in mid-conversation, they set down the white bag covered in grease stains and brown paper bags with the logo of the local grocery store. Dean wears a black t-shirt under a red plaid button down with jeans and boots. The thought of all those layers is enough to make you sweat.
“Good Morning,” Dean says his eyes fluttering over John’s hands securing the bandage that now covers most of your torso.
“Good Morning,” you coolly.
Sam walks over to your chair. “How do you feel?” he asks with a bright smile. You look over your shoulder at the contents of the bags. “John said you were getting breakfast?” you ask lightly not answering his question.
“Did you boys pick up more salt?” John asks as he stands from his crouch.
“Yes, sir,” Dean responds.
“And the other … things?” John asks.
“We got all of it Dad,” Sam responds.
You shift back in your chair watching them unpack the groceries. You sit wordlessly observing the methodical way the three men unload and store their supplies. They have done this dozens of times, you think to yourself.
John begins brewing coffee as Sam unpacks the breakfast him and Dean picked up. Waves of nausea hit you at sight of breakfast burritos and donuts.
“Picked up some juice. Didn’t think you would be ready for solids. Can’t have you passing out again,” he says.
Falling into your arms.
The words are unsaid. You clench your jaw. “Thank you,” you say taking a deep breath. Weak. You are weak, an ugly voice hisses.
He sets a small box of orange juice in front of you. Before you can reach for it, he picks it up, opens it and sets it back down on the table. You stare at him as you reach for it taking a small sip.
Breakfast is a relatively quiet meal. Sam, Dean and John discuss Ellen’s departure.
You eye the glazed donuts wondering whether your stomach would hold it down. The pain in your side is manageable, but you aren’t sure the dressing will hold if you vomit and you don’t want John to have to rewrap it after just having done so.
“We stopped by the warehouse,” Dean says casually.
You don’t realize you were staring at the donut until Dean’s words cause you to sit up straight.
“You went back?” you ask with a slightly furrowed brow.
“Yeah,” he says glancing at John.
Dean picks up another donut and breaks off a small piece placing it on your napkin.
“What were you expecting?” you ask John unfeelingly.
“Cops?” he says hesitantly. He avoids your gaze and offers no additional explanation.
Lies, you think to yourself as you turn your gaze to the miniscule piece of donut. The glaze glistens and you wonder what it tastes like. Uncomfortable with Dean's perceptive gaze you shift in your seat slightly. He sees too much.
“We need to talk,” you say looking back up at John with a neutral expression, completely dismissing the bite-sized piece of donut.
Dean leans back in his chair as if settling in to listen.
You glance at Sam’s curious brown eyes.
You can’t talk to John with those eyes watching you. It is as if someone slammed a sledge hammer against the steel exterior you wrapped around your heart. It is still intact, but you can still feel the reverberations.
“Alone,” you say resolutely.
John shares a knowing glance with Dean. You watch him wipe his mouth and hands with his napkin.
He stands, tosses his napkin in the trash and grabs his keys. “Stay here. We will be back,” he says firmly.
Dean clenches his jaw visibly angered at being excluded. Your gaze passes through him as you follow John to the Impala.
John climbs in the driver’s seat situating himself behind the wheel. You sit up straight in the passenger seat eyeing the car’s interior. The cool black leather covering the bench. The tan dashboard and large steering wheel. It is immaculate.
Twenty minutes later, you and John are on the edge of the Santa Fe River Trail. He stops the car and climbs out of the driver’s seat. You slowly climb out of the passenger seat surprised to find him leaning casually against the trunk staring off into the distance.
Your eyes scan the open desert trail and mountains. This is not a conversation you could have had in the motel room even without Sam and Dean. Here the breeze will carry the words far away.
The car dips slightly as you gently lift yourself onto the trunk, shoulders straight and legs crossed at the ankles. You wait for John to scold you, but he never does. You wonder what could be weighing so heavily on his mind.
Minutes pass as the two of you sit in silence staring at the mountains.
“Azure…” he says crossing his arms over his chest. “There are things you should know before we decide what to … before you decide what you want to do,” he says never looking at your face.
“Sam, Dean and I hunt things. We hunt monsters: vampires, ghouls, shifters, werewolves, demons and whatever else is out there. We travel city-to-city saving people, hunting things, the family business. We live off fraudulent credit cards and cash from hustling pool. Sometimes we are FBI agents, cops, a concerned parent, a worried uncle, a lost son, whoever we need to be to get the information we need. Whatever it takes. The boys … their mom was killed by a yellow eyed demon. We have spent years hunting him … for revenge … for…” he trails off.
“For justice,” you finish as the breeze lifts your dark hair from your shoulders. It flutters in the wind. The spirits. They hear you John Winchester, you think to yourself.
He nods his head still staring at nothing.
“You need to know what you are getting yourself into before you make a decision. You have options,” he says.
Before you can stop yourself, a faint laugh escapes your lips. Not the uncontrollable laughter of a woman on the brink of hysteria, but a soft murmur that's barely audible. You shake your head at the word. Options. “I have very few options,” you say earnestly.
“What I did in the motel yesterday … that was not the first incident. A man took me from my parents and promised he would give them answers. They died and the true nightmare began. He took me to that warehouse to determine what triggered my episodes. He raped and tortured me, berated me, hurt others in front of me. Although I maintain almost complete control over my abilities, I had one episode while with him. It was enough to spur him on, but when despite his increased levels of brutality, I ceased exhibiting powers he threw me away and left me to die in that dumpster,” you say dispassionately.
John’s body tenses at your detached description of being callously used and discarded.
Silence settles over the two of you again. You drink in the view of the mountains before closing your eyes.
“I have nowhere to go. There is no one who will come for me,” you say begging your voice to remain steady while tamping down the rising emotions.
“Take me with you,” you say unfalteringly.
“Azure …” John begins.
“Listen to me,” you say opening your eyes focusing them intensely on his back. “Take me with you. Teach me how to fight and in return I will help you. Young scared mother, sister looking for her brother, frightened wife, high school student, reporter, nurse … I can be all of those,” you say firmly.
Your back is straight as you hold your breath watching John consider your offer. You can almost see the thoughts in his head. Strategizing. Plotting. An extra pair of hands. Access to information. Pool to hustle. Credit cards in your name. You don’t dare interrupt his thoughts by breathing; grateful he isn’t looking at you.
Your lungs burn as you await his response.
He shakes his head. “You can help. No fighting though. Sam, Dean and I will protect you," he says in an unwavering tone.
"Azure," he says standing to turn and face you, “This life…” he says gazing into your violet eyes.
You blink absorbing the determined set of his jaw and nod in silent understanding.
The life he lives.
His days are numbered.
John turns his back to you as the two of you sit in silence, putting space between the words said and unsaid.
He stares out into the distance as you sit cross legged on the Impala, eyes closed, letting the gentle breeze caress your skin.
“What was she like?” you ask in a steady tone.
John is engrossed with the view and silence stretches on. Just when you decide he won’t answer, his voice breaks the silence.
“Mary was so pretty. Full of love. She loved Dean so much. They were thick as thieves I used to say. I would come home from work and they would be in the kitchen laughing and singing and making dinner. Sammy would be in his crib. She loved Sammy too. He was such a good baby. He was just a baby when …” he trails off.
You stare at his back with perceptive eyes.
You uncross your legs and slide off of the car landing silently on the ground. John glances over at you.
“Come on,” you say dusting your hands off on your shorts, walking to the passenger door. A light breeze carries your hair in the wind.
If you stop moving forward, you will both fall apart.
John climbs in the driver’s seat
“When do I start?" you ask.
He glances at you with a grin. The ice pack has completely melted leaving half of your shirt wet clinging to your ribcage.
He turns his gaze back to the open road.
“Finding you …we were tracking a shifter,” he says with a straightforward tone. “You need clothes. More than what we picked out for you last night. You need ID cards, at least one. You will never pass for a Winchester. Pick a name. Sam and Dean can take you to get supplies while I try and pick up the trail,” he says.
You stare out the window.
Keeping your face blank, you can’t deny the excitement that unfurls within you like whips of smoke.
“I don’t know how much longer we will be here, so don’t get too comfy,” he says firmly gripping the steering wheel.
The Impala eats up the open road and soon you are back at the motel.
You walk in finding Sam seated at the table with his laptop. Dean is stretched out on one of the queen beds.
He asks “Where have you been?” as he jumps off the bed in one fluid motion.
You breeze passed him taking a seat at the kitchenette.
John gives a terse, “Out,” and leaves it at that.
“I am going to go back to the warehouse…” he begins.
“I already went back to the warehouse…” Dean interrupts.
“I want to see it for myself. Dean, you and Sam take Azure to the store. We only bought her clothes for a few nights. She is going to need more,” he says pulling his wallet out of his back pocket, handing Dean $400.
“I will change your bandage before we go,” he says dropping the keys to the Impala on the kitchen table and grabbing a second pair of keys from the top of the microwave.
“Sammy, you do it,” Dean says angrily not even looking at Sam.
Sam, hearing his name, looks up from his laptop and pulls out his earbuds. You sense the shift in the room and tilt your head signaling for him to follow you to the bathroom. He grabs the white first aid kit trailing behind you.
You sit on the counter of the sink compensating for the height difference. “They are arguing,” you say straight forwardly.
You lift your damp shirt exposing the skin from just under your bra to the band of your high-waisted jean shorts. “All the time,” Sam says taking a closer look at John’s earlier dressing.
He unhooks the safety pins setting them carefully on the counter. He begins unwrapping the elastic bandage. It immediately slackens falling away.
“Dad and Dean …are too alike … and I am …” he trails off unthinkingly.
Different. You think the word hanging between the two of you unspoken.
With the dressing removed he grimaces at your bruise.
He shakes his head. “You should really be resting, not shopping,” he says uncertainly.
You eye his shaggy hair practically falling into his eyes. His fingers gently prodding your rib cage. He is so young.
“It’s just a few hours. No ice pack this time” you say firmly.
“Alright. Let’s get you wrapped up then,” he says shaking his head.
Dean pounds on the door. “Sammy! What’s taking so long?” he yells.
“Almost done,” Sam shouts back.
He quickly wraps a dry bandage around your torso securing it with safety pins. His hands work faster than John’s and you wonder how many times he has had to do this for Dean. For John.
As the two of you walk out of the bathroom, you notice John is gone.
“Took the truck to the warehouse. C’mon,” Dean answers.
Dean’s mood immediately lightens once he is behind the wheel of the Impala. Sam offers you the front seat, but you insist on taking the back.
You sit up straight, cross legged, the leather of the Impala sticking against your bare legs.
You peer out the window as Dean drives to the mall.
The three of you climb out of the car walking towards the entrance.
“Remember. Nothing flashy,” Dean says.
You don't bother responding.
The women’s section is small. You check the size of the shirt you are currently wearing and buy four more in the same heather gray. The material of the women’s clothes is flimsy so you buy two button downs from the boys section: forest green and denim. You pick out three oversized razorback tank tops and two sets of sweatpants.
You finger the holes in the distressed denim shorts that hang off of your body. Although already ripped, they have a high waist which allows for a better range of movement. You buy a second pair in a smaller size and a pair of distressed black denim jeans. You grab bundles of underwear, socks and pick out the three bras. With the clothes John already purchased, you assume it is enough.
With your arms weighed down, you walk over to the jackets. A black leather jacket with a gray hoodie sewn inside attracts your attention.
“Get the jacket,” a voice behind you murmurs.
It is midsummer in New Mexico.
You turn around and stare at Dean. He wears a reserved expression, but his eyes are the same vibrant green.
You wordlessly grab your size and hand it to him along with the other clothes you are carrying.
You leave Dean seated at the register while you pick out a handful of personal items.
By the time you return he is half asleep in the chair waiting for you.
“Where is Sam?” you ask curtly.
“He is at the food court. I told him we would meet him there,” Dean says with a weary expression.
The cashier rings up your purchases handing you four large shopping bags. Dean takes all four as the two of you make your way to the food court.
You find Sam seated at a table chatting with a teen girl. She is petite with blonde hair and brown eyes. She wears a smoothie shack t-shirt with a nametag affixed to it.
When Sam notices the two of you approaching he stands as if he has been caught doing something he shouldn’t.
She gives him a curious looks and then notices Dean.
“Hey there Sammy. We are back. Who is your pretty friend?” he says giving her a smile you have never seen before.
“I am Alison,” she says beaming up at him. You stand silently not bothering to introduce yourself. Dean sits next to Alison leaving you to sit next to Sammy.
Sam realizing Dean is waiting for an introduction says, “This is my brother Dean and Azure,” glancing at you before returning his attention to Alison.
You stand abruptly. “I am going to get something to drink,” you say with a flat tone.
You look at Dean expectantly. The cashier handed him the change.
He notices your gaze and pulls out a ten dollar bill from his pocket.
You turn away from the table, but not before hearing Alison say “Your girlfriend is weird,” not even bothering to whisper.
You walk away before hearing Dean's response.
You return with a bottle of water.
“That’s it?” Dean asks awkwardly interrupting the conversation.
You stare at him impassively.
“You have barely eaten anything all day,” he says with an annoyed tone. “No wonder you keep passing out all the time,” Dean says unthinkingly.
“Dean…” Sam interjects.
You walk away from the table with all four shopping bags.
As you walk towards the Impala you notice you are being followed.
“Haven’t seen you around these parts,” a male voice catcalls.
You stop, flipping the voice through your mind like a rolodex and then dismissing it when you realize you don’t recognize it.
“Hey, I am talking to you,” the voice says angrily reaching for your arm and whirling you around.
In front of you stands a short stocky blonde man with brown eyes. You scan him up and down wondering why he feels he has the right to touch you.
Unimpressed you turn back around headed towards the Impala.
“Stuck up bitch,” he says pushing you between two parked cars.
His hand presses down painfully on your rib cage. You grit your teeth as you stare at the smile on his face.
“Looks like somebody already got rough with you. You must be into that,” he says grabbing at the hem of your t-shirt.
You drop the bags to free your arms and try to wedge them between your bodies to keep him away from you.
The pain in your side is still throbbing and although he is short you quickly realize he will overpower you.
You try and free yourself from his grip to keep him from dragging you further between the cars. He grabs the collar of your shirt ripping it down the front.
You don’t notice the man pulling his hand back until you are reeling from the blow. Your cheek is on fire. There is a wet sensation on your lip and you are on all fours staring at the asphalt, your hair forming a black curtain blocking your vision.
The dam begins to break as you struggle to hold on. Not here. Not now.
“Hey! What are you doing?” you hear a voice thunder.
Having left Alison shortly after your departure, Sam and Dean are quickly running towards you.
“Sammy!” Dean shouts as Sam helps you up scanning over your torn shirt, bruised cheek and split lip.
Your eyes flit to your attacker before Sam draws your attention back to him. “Azure. Look at me,” he says staring into your eyes checking your eyes to make sure you didn’t hit your head on the concrete.
“I am fine, Sam,” you say in an unnervingly calm voice. You blink at him a few times. Sam turns around and scowls when he sees Dean twist the stranger’s arm behind his back.
“Stay right here,” Sam says before running over to Dean and separating the two.
“Get out of here,” Sam says pushing the stranger in the chest grabbing the back of Dean’s shirt.
“Dean. Let’s go,” he says.
As Dean slides into the driver’s seat you sit in the front while Sam quickly tosses the shopping bags in the back and closes the door behind him.
You sit in the front seat taking deep breaths envisioning a stillness inside of you and finding a quiet calm.
“Azure…” Dean begins to apologize.
You iceberg blue eyes freeze the words on his lips.
As you walk into the motel you are surprised to find John sitting at the kitchenette with a tumbler of whiskey.
Your eyes widen a fraction in surprise. You assumed he would be gone longer.
He doesn’t immediately look at you when you walk into the room.
He is lost in thought.
Finally pulling himself from his stupor he looks up at your face.
His eyes turn murderous and you feel a chill run down your spine.
“What happened,” he asks dangerously.
“It was my fault,” Dean says from behind you.
“Dad, it was…” Sam begins.
“Sam. Go unload the car,” John interrupts harshly.
“I am going to ask one more time. What happened?” John demands.
You stand directly in front of him with an angry expression.
He can see the storm brewing in your indigo eyes as he stands. He takes your chin in his hand and tilts your face up to meet his eyes.
“You start training tomorrow,” he says in a deep voice before walking out the door.
Minutes later John slides behind the driver’s seat of his black pickup truck.
As if on autopilot, he drives to the dive bar he spotted the first night they rolled into town. He isn’t interested in whatever the bar has to offer, but is in desperate need of distance.
He shifts the truck into park and sighs deeply. His motions are slow as he climbs out of the truck feeling a bone deep weariness he is not accustomed to.
Walking into the bar, he scans the crowd of regulars and picks a polished wooden booth in the back. He lowers himself into the bench facing the door and signals to the bartender. "Whiskey and a beer,” he says over the low country music. Groups of people stand talking and playing pool.
As soon as the bartender sets down the shot glass he tosses it back, grimaces and then immediately orders another.
Images of the red mark on your cheekbone, your split lip, and your torn t-shirt play over and over again in his head.
You are another person he failed. He couldn’t protect Mary and he can't protect you.
Mary was like warm sunshine, but you are something else entirely. A specter, always watching and observing. Your blue eyes change colors like a kaleidoscope as you calculate and assess, the beautiful hues haunted from seeing and experiencing far more than any person should.
He takes a deep gulp of the cold beer not really tasting it as the bartender drops off his second shot.
John grimaces, this time at the sight of a young man in a brown leather jacket looking around the bar.
Dean spots his dad and makes his way to the back.
“You shouldn’t be here,” John says irritably.
“Neither should you,” Dean says accusatorily. “Look, I messed up,” Dean says apologetically.
“Damnit, Dean. How could you be so careless? I sent you to the mall. All you had to do was get her some clothes. Where were you?” John says projecting his own guilt.
John throws back his second shot, “What if it had been Sam who was jumped? Azure, she is…”
“Don’t,” Dean interrupts. “Don’t act like she is some little sister we picked up along the way. She is not a Winchester. She is not family,” he says angrily.
“I was going to say defenseless,” John says clenching his jaw.
“Then we do what we always do. We protect her. We keep her safe,” Dean says.
“You don’t understand,” John says shaking his head as if he could dislodge the painful memories.
“I couldn’t save your mother from that yellow eyed demon and she was twenty feet away. We can’t be with Azure every minute of every day and she knows it. She needs to learn how to protect herself,” John says with a determined tone.
John and Dean sit in silence, the music and chatter of regulars a backdrop to their thoughts.
John stares off into the distance wishing he could fight every battle for you. Wishing you didn’t have to learn how to defend yourself. Wishing he didn’t feel the irrational impulse to protect you as if you belonged to him.
“What would you have done if it were Sammy who got his ass kicked?” Dean asks pulling John from his contemplation.
“I would drop him off fifty miles from the motel and let him figure out how to make his own way back,” John says without thinking.
“Treat Azure the same way. You can’t pull punches with her. If you train her, you do it right,” he says intensely.
John takes another long drink of his beer.
He knows Dean is right.
Back at the Motel
You watch John walk out the door.
Minutes later Dean is grabbing the keys to the Impala heading for the parking lot.
You sit at the kitchenette setting your hands on the table to keep them from shaking.
Sam walks up to you and before he can open his mouth you say, “This wasn’t your fault,” in a stern voice.
“I should have been there. I shouldn’t have been at the food court …” he says guiltily.
You walk over to the bedroom searching for the first aid kit. You pick it up and walk to the bathroom setting it on the counter. Sam trails after you as you turn on the faucet. You lean over the sink, let the cold water run over your cut lip and then dry the area gently.
“Are we conjoined twins?” you ask while walking towards the motel mini fridge.
Sam squints his eyes at you in confusion. “What? No…” he stammers.
“Then you can’t possibly be with me every minute of every day,” you say grabbing an ice pack and turning towards him with a serious expression.
“John said I will start training tomorrow,” you say as you take a seat at the kitchen table.
“Lucky you,” Sam says sarcastically taking the seat next to you.
“Dad is a hard-ass. He insists on absolute obedience. Demands it really…” Sam explains.
You blink a few times wondering what training with John will be like. You push the thought away telling yourself you will find out soon enough. Living life as a victim isn’t an option.
“John mentioned you live off fraudulent credit cards and hustling pool,” you say steadily.
Sam’s eyes widen. “He told you?” he asks with a surprised tone.
“Yes. What else can you do?” you ask frankly.
“What do you mean?” Sam stutters.
“I mean what other ways can someone take money from someone?” you clarify.
“Well there is poker,” Sam says hesitantly.
“Poker. Teach me poker then,” you say not really asking.
A half smile crosses Sam’s lips. “I am not great at it. Dean is, but I can teach you the basics,” he says standing rummaging through the nightstand for a pack of cards.
Sam finds a deck and gingerly takes the cards out of the box. “Alright, first thing you need to know is that there are different types of poker…” Sam begins.
Hours later Dean and John return to the motel room.
You watch silently as they navigate the dark room.
John stumbles into the kitchen table before landing on the bed with a loud thud.
You assume Dean drove him home considering you can smell the beer on John from across the room. Dean maneuvers around the pitch-black room and unlaces John’s boots dropping them to the floor with a loud thunk.
John’s breathing becomes deep and you are certain he has fallen asleep.
Dean stands running his hand through the back of his hair before shedding his coat. As he walks over to your bed, you close your eyes. He stands very still, but you sense his presence as he watches you.
Soon the deep breaths you take to mask the fact that you are awake pull you into a deep sleep.
“Rise and Shine,” Dean’s voice booms. “Come on. Get up,” he says shaking your foot with his left hand, gripping a cup of coffee in his right.
Ten minutes later you emerge from the bathroom. Sam is handing Dean two handguns as Dean packs them along with ammunition into a small canvas duffel bag.
“Where are we going?” you ask.
“We are going to the shooting range,” Sam says as he continues to hand Dean bullets.
“It is hotter than hell out and I can’t risk you hitting a civilian, so like Sammy said, shooting range,” Dean says hefting the bag over his shoulder.
He gives you a cocky smile that immediately disappears when you glance at the rumpled sheets on the bed next to yours.
“John is busy,” Dean answers harshly.
You don’t bother replying as you walk towards the small kitchen. Lying on the table is a small rectangular plastic ID card.
“Oh yeah, he left your ID on the counter,” Sam says walking towards you.
You pick it up staring at a stranger’s face.
She has your high cheekbones, black straight hair, and caramel skin, but her eyes are brown. The name reads: Azure Monmonde.
He picked a name for you.
You furrow your eyebrows wondering when John had time to have it made.
“Azure Monmonde,” Sam says reading the name aloud over your shoulder.
The letters dance in front of you in script. Elegant swirling slopes.
“It kind of looks like you,” Sam says weakly.
“You're French,” Dean says hesitantly. “Your eyes… if anyone asks, colored contacts,” he says grabbing the keys.
“Come on,” he says motioning towards the door.
Shortly after arriving, Sam and Dean walk you through the essentials, helping you find a natural firing stance and managing the recoil. Without the elastic bandage across your torso, you are able to breathe deeply before pulling the trigger. Your side hurts, but you push aside the pain and focus.
As your aim improves, Dean steps into the booth next to yours. He fires a few rounds hitting the bull’s-eye every time. He begins to pack up noticing you and Sam are attracting attention. He taps Sam on the shoulder letting him know it is time to go.
Sam puts away the equipment as Dean heads towards the counter to pay.
You stand next to Dean while he digs his wallet out of his pocket fishing out twenty-dollar bills and making small talk with the older man behind the counter. As you stand at the counter you feel Sam tense and the sensation of being watched. You turn around and find a middle age man with a beard that almost reaches the middle of his chest.
He stares at your bruised face and split lip before dragging his eyes over your chest and legs, his gaze lingering at your hips.
“Hey pretty lad—” he begins to say until you cut him off.
“No.” you say rudely.
“What? Don’t feel like talk—” he tries to say before you interrupt him again.
“No.” you say again.
His expression hardens and you glare at him with cobalt eyes, your jaw clenched.
Dean quickly shoves the change back into his wallet and thanks the older gentleman before gently grabbing your forearm dragging you out the door.
“What was that?” he asks angrily as the three of you walk towards the Impala.
“What?” you ask neutrally.
“We need to keep a low profile. You could have just blown that guy off without being a huge bitch,” he says tossing the duffel bag in the backseat.
“Should I have just let him drag me out back?” you ask evenly.
Despite your casual tone, you can feel your emotions pounding against the dam.
“Sam and I were standing right there. Nothing was going to happen,” he say arms outstretched in frustration.
“I can’t rely on you,” you say calmly despite feeling like you are starting to drown.
“Damnit. I know,” Dean yells. “That is why we are training you,” he says with an angry expression, “But you were in a shooting range,” he shouts pointing towards the entrance. “What did you think was going to happen in a shooting range with cameras and a dozen guys with guns?” he asks with an exasperated tone.
You start to calm as you begin to understand.
“Could you at least try and not be so cold? You know, people skills?" he says angrily yanking the driver side door open.
“Azure …” Sam starts to say.
“He is right,” you say shortly giving Sam a blank look.
Dean’s temper cools as he and Sam decide where to eat lunch. He drives towards a roadhouse a few miles from the motel. The dim atmosphere offers a slight refuge from the scorching heat.
As the three of you slide into a booth you pick up a menu. You pretend to peruse the lunch options while replaying Dean’s words over and over in your head. You know he is right. You told John you could pretend to be all those things, but you never really considered what it might take to earn strangers' trust.
You take a deep breath practicing your breathing just like you did at the range and decide to work on your social skills. Starting now.
A curvy blonde waitress walks up to your table setting down coasters and glasses of ice water.
“What can I get y’all?” she asks.
“This is my first time here,” you say with a bright smile. “Do you have any favorites?” you ask blinking a few times the same way you noticed Alison looking at Dean.
She leans in closer to you in order to point out items on your menu. “The double cheeseburger is to die for, but if you are watching your waistline the turkey sandwich is pretty good. It is smoked here,” she says with a wink.
“That sounds delicious. I will have that,” you say injecting your voice with enthusiasm and giving her another smile.
“Good choice. You know what they say,” she says looking at Sam and Dean expectantly waiting for their order.
You have absolutely no idea what "they" say, but you smile anyway.
“I will have the cheeseburger,” Dean says ignoring the waitress, staring at you with an irritated expression.
“Um, I will have the turkey sandwich,” Sam says hesitantly.
As soon as the waitress walks away, Dean whispers, “What the hell was that?” with an angry look.
You drop your smile, ignoring his question and reach for your ice water.
The three of you rehash your lesson at the gun range while you eat. The waitress stops by and asks you if you like the turkey sandwich and gives you the name of a few other establishments to visit since you are “new” to town. For the most part she does all the talking. You nod and say “Oh, really?” a few times and it seems to be enough.
As she drops off the bill, you stand walking towards the ladies’ room.
You rest your forehead against the cool metal of the stall and take a deep breath. After splashing cold water on your wrists, you walk out of the bathroom and find two teens playing pool.
You watch them for a few minutes as they sink ball after ball evaluating the angles and executing the motions with fluid movements.
Pool, you think to yourself.
The three of you climb into the Impala after lunch. “There is a pool table back at the motel,” Sam shares. “I found it when I was taking a look around,” he says glancing at you and then at Dean.
After the incident at the shooting range, and your insistence that you not only learn how to play pool, but also how to hustle, Dean decides it is the best way to spend the rest of the afternoon.
You walk into the game room and it is even worse than Sam described.
Armchairs with stuffing and springs popping out occupy what might have been a decent rec room in the 90s. The pool table is missing billiard balls, but you run your hand over the smooth wood and feel a calming sensation wash over you.
You pick up pool easily. Your mind calculates the angles with precision and always plots your next shot. The motion comes naturally to you, however you listen attentively as Dean describes the intricacies of hustling, intent on absorbing every word.
“The key is not showing off. Win, but just barely. That way they think they can recoup their losses. You have to convince them to keep playing. Once they stop, it’s over,” he explains.
Hours later, the sun begins to set and the three of you decide to head back to the motel room. You find John at the table flipping through his journal with a beer at his side.
“Hey Dad,” Sam says taking a seat.
You stand, arms across casually draped across your chest wondering what kind of mood John is in today.
“Dean and I took Azure to the shooting range. She picked it up really fast,” Sam says enthusiastically.
Your face is immobile as you pray Sam doesn’t recount the confrontation at the shooting range.
He doesn’t mention it and continues to describe the remainder of the day.
“That’s great, Sam” John says with warm eyes giving him a heartfelt smile.
The tension inside of you releases slightly. John’s gaze shifts to your face.
His eyes settle on your lips and you force yourself to stand still instead of running your fingers over the abrasion.
He looks away with a guilty expression.
He planned on training you himself and then realized he couldn’t do it.
He swings his eyes over to Dean. “We need to talk,” he says with a serious look.
“Tell me what you saw when you went back to the warehouse,” John says roughly.
Dean takes a seat at the table next to Sam. “Not much. It looked pretty much undisturbed,” he says straightforwardly.
Your eyes narrow and you glance at John.
Dean notices your expression. “Shifters shed their skin in order to change form. That is why we were looking in the dumpster,” he explains giving you a concerned look.
“I see,” you say distantly.
Dean studies you pensively recalling the moment he first saw you.
“The problem is I can’t seem to pick up the trail. I hacked into the security cameras of a few popular spots here in town, but no retinal flare. I caught wind of a demon about fifty miles away. I am going to go exorcize it tonight and then we should take another look around before we move on. We should be here no more than two days. I have Bobby looking into a lead a few states over,” John says not meeting your eyes.
Dean opens his mouth to ask if he can go with, but changes his mind.
“Let's practice hustling pool tonight," you say.
“Think you’re ready?” he asks.
“Yes,” you say without hesitation.
“Alright then,” he says shrugging his shoulders.
“Dean, help me grab some stuff from the Impala,” John says motioning for them to continue the conversation outside. His eyes linger on your face before walking out the door.
John opens the trunk and begins pulling out bottles of holy water cramming them into a canvas duffel bag. “I don’t like the idea of you taking her to hustle pool so soon,” John says avoiding Dean’s eyes.
Dean shoves his hands in his pockets.
“Sammy and I will have eyes on her the whole time if it goes south,” he says.
“Alright. Just be careful. We don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves. We need to make sure that shifter has moved on before we high tail it out of here,” he says slamming the trunk of the Impala.
“Understood,” Dean says tersely as John walks to the black monster truck.
After silently sending up a prayer that there are no complications tonight, Dean walks back to the motel room.
Fifty Miles Outside of Santa Fe
“Well if it isn’t my favorite hunter, John Winchester,” the black-eyed demon spits out, viciously pulling against the rope of the chair.
John has restrained the demon and drawn a devil’s trap around the chair. The nearest home is fifteen miles away allowing him to perform the exorcism without interruption.
“I heard you have a new pet. Azure,” he says with a hiss.
“You keep her name out of your god-damn mouth,” John shouts.
“Oh hit a nerve did we? Tell me, does she call you Daddy? I see right through you John Winchester. Lust fills your eyes at the mere mention of her name. Such depravity,” the demon taunts.
“Stop it,” John yells.
“But she isn’t just another pretty young thing is she? She has abilities of her own,” he says knowingly.
“You don't know what you are talking about,” John says angrily.
“Do you? You just left her alone with your boys and didn’t even think twice about the sob story she told you. She must really be special,” he says suggestively.
“Enough,” John roars driving his demon blade into the man’s chest.
He hears an electric crackling and the demon slumps over no longer struggling against the restraints.
John tosses the blade to the side of the room. What has he done?
He had planned on exorcising the demon. He was going to send it to hell and calmly explain to the small town farmer that monsters exist.
He curses as he begins packing up his gear and cutting the restraints of the dead man still tied to the chair.
Dive Bar in Santa Fe
Dean sits at a booth sipping his beer as Sam fidgets in his seat.
“Stop fidgeting. I can see her from here,” Dean snaps. He takes another sip glancing at Azure sitting alone at the bar.
“Nobody is even looking her way. Fuck. I told her she should have worn that top,” Dean says crossly.
“That top was slutty. She doesn’t need it,” Sam says insistently.
Sam’s eyes widen slightly as John slides into the booth next to Dean. He looks disheveled and on edge.
“Where is Azure?” he growls before spotting her.
She is sitting alone at the bar with a long island iced tea in front of her.
She is wearing the same outfit she wore earlier, but somehow the thin gray t-shirt and denim shorts accentuate the curve of her hips and flat stomach. Her smooth black glossy hair falls over her back. Makeup covers the bruises on her face and her dark lashes contrast her crystal blue eyes. She looks luminous as she casts a look at the young man playing pool with his friends.
She is so stunning it is like someone punched John in the gut.
He stands from the booth.
“Dad, you are going to blow her cover,” Sam says in an urgent whisper.
John pivots slightly walking towards the other side of the bar. He takes a seat on the opposite end and orders a beer.
As soon as you hear John’s deep voice your eyes are drawn to him. He dips his head subtly in acknowledgement.
This has to work you think to yourself before you force yourself to smile.
You recall every word Dean said earlier. Eye contact, fluttering eyelashes, playing hard to get, mouth and lips.
The redhead playing pool at the table closest to you gives you a smile. You bat your eyelashes and pretend to look away while bringing the straw to your lips.
He is at your side before you can swallow a sip of the disgusting cocktail.
“Hey. You new around here?” asks saddling up next to you leaning on the bar.
“You could say that,” you say smiling coyly. “You seem like you really know your stuff,” you say as your eyes trail to the pool table.
“I could teach you how to play if you want,” he says eagerly.
“I’d like that,” you say slowly climbing out of the barstool. With his hand on your lower back; he leads you to the pool table. You keep your shoulders straight arming yourself with the thought of cold, smooth, impenetrable steel.
As he begins to show you how to play, he uses any excuse to place his hands on your body or stand behind you while you shoot.
“That is perfect,” he says eyeing your ass as you line up a shot and sink it perfectly.
“Well you are a great teacher,” you say as you stand and face him leaning back slightly onto the pool table.
Your skin crawls as he closes the distance between the two of you. “Oh yeah?” he asks huskily.
“Maybe we should make a bet?” you say eyeing him up and down the same way you have seen men drag their eyes over your body.
“What did you have in mind?” he asks.
“Maybe $100?” you say before turning away from him.
“$100?” he says scoffing.
You look at him over your shoulder. “Is that too much?” you ask innocently.
“No it isn’t too much,” he says shifting his eyes to see if anyone is eavesdropping.
He closes the distance between the two of you. “I just wouldn’t want to take advantage of you,” he whispers in your ear standing behind you, uncomfortably close.
You pour every ounce of determination into your actions as you turn your head slightly “I think I can handle it,” you say softly staring into his eyes unflinchingly.
He gives you a wide smile before racking the balls. The two of you play with more determination and you barely win. As you cozy up to him he hands over the $100 and you slide it into the pocket of your shorts.
You brace yourself for the hard part, convincing him to play again.
You apply chalk to the cue stick and flutter your eyelashes. “Play again?” you ask playfully.
The stranger laughs shaking his head side to side and you prepare yourself for his excuses.
“If you’re done with this guy, I'll play,” a voice says from behind you.
You turn around and find Dean standing behind you. Your pulse picks up as you stare at him.
“We aren’t done yet,” the stranger says possessively.
Dean gives you a nod and you turn around with a fake smile plastered on your lips.
The second game is shorter than the first as you sink ball after ball.
The stranger’s disposition becomes angry as he digs out his wallet and pulls a $100 bill out slamming it onto the pool table.
You take a deep breath, keeping your face neutral. Dean’s words play in your ears. He is going to be angry. He is going to feel like he has something to prove. He might feel like you owe him. Make sure you know where the bartender is and keep the exits in your line of sight. You are a pretty girl in a bar. Someone will step in if things go south. Trust me.
As you reach for the $100 bill the stranger grabs your arm. “I don’t like being hustled,” he says angrily, yanking your arm up and applying pressure to your wrist. “I think you still owe me,” he whispers, his eyes dipping to the $100 bill between your fingers and then lingering on your chest.
You glare at him and like the flip of a switch, take a pathetic step backwards and say, “You’re hurting me!” loudly.
You subtlety scan the room before turning back towards the man saying, “Please, let go of me,” in a frightened voice, eyes wide.
“Hey!” a voice booms.
From behind the bar you hear the bartender slam a glass down.
“The lady said you are hurting her. I think it’s time for you to go, Johnny,” he says stepping out from behind the bar.
“Fucking tease,” Johnny swears under his breath as he walks towards the exit.
Seconds later Dean is standing in front of you. “You okay?” he asks earnestly.
“You were right,” you say using the triangle to rack the balls avoiding his gaze.
You walk up to him and hand him a cue stick. “Play with me. It will look suspicious if we leave right away,” you say glancing past him to Sam.
Sam is standing next to an old jukebox with a group of teens chatting and blending in perfectly.
Your gaze swings back to the seat John occupied earlier. He looks lethal as he finishes the last swig of his beer and slams the glass down before walking out of the bar.
You feel a tiny dent in your steely exterior as you watch him leave. Dean's voice pulls you back to the game you have yet to play.
You laugh loudly at his inane comments as the two of you play two more rounds. As he guides you out of the bar with his arm around your waist you hope the two of you look like just another one night stand.
He pulls his arm away from you as soon as you cross the parking lot. Wordlessly sliding into the front seat you lean your head back and close your eyes focusing on the stillness inside of you.
Fifteen minutes later Sam slides into the backseat with a grin. “You did it!” he says excitedly. You give him a weak smile and realize he will never know what it cost you. You stare impassively out the windshield at the parking lot.
“You did good,” Dean says about to pat your leg and then deciding against it, rests his hand on the wheel.
“Let’s go home,” he says as the Impala roars to life.
You find the motel room empty with all the lights off. You watched John leave the bar, but he hasn’t made it back yet. Dean flips the lights on as you wordlessly grab your sweatpants and head to the bathroom.
As you walk out of the bathroom, you find Dean listening patiently while Sam tells him about the friends he made at the bar. You sink into the queen mattress feeling the cool sheets against your skin, drifting asleep to the sound of their voices.
“Azure. Wake up,” Dean says urgently. You glance at him with sleepy eyes. Dean is in his sweatpants and the blankets on the sofa are crumpled.
“John left,” he says holding a stapled note with your name written on it in script. You sit up straight. Dean sits on the edge of your bed and hands you the piece of paper. You trace your fingers over the curves of your name before tearing it open.
Found a case in Oklahoma. Stay with Sam and Dean. I will meet you at Bobby’s.
You reread the note. It slips from your fingers as you stand and walk wordlessly to the bathroom. You shut the door and grip the sink. You close your eyes. Suddenly you are back at the Santa Fe River Trail gazing at the mountains. You stand, an observer witnessing the conversation between you and John. You asked him to take you with him. Everything he said made it seem like he would take you with him. You clench your jaw and squeeze the porcelain sink.
He left you, an ugly voice whispers.
The pain is searing. You close your eyes as you contain it, burying it deep, suppressing the scorching agony under layers of steel. You take a deep breath and test whether your emotions are under control. Your pulse steadies and you find a pair of gray eyes staring back at you.
You exit the bathroom closing the door quietly behind you. Sam is still sleeping.
You find Dean on the sofa scanning the note. You sit next to him, back straight, legs tucked underneath you, vacantly staring at the door. “He does this sometimes,” Dean says softly.
His voice pulls you from your thoughts. “Who is Bobby?” you ask calmly.
“He is one of John’s friends. He is like an uncle. We stayed with him when…” Dean trails off.
You continue to stare blankly at the motel room, your eyes unfocused. You consider leaving even though John specifically told you to stay with Sam and Dean. You ask yourself how much you trust John and why. You clench your jaw and walk over to your duffel bag. Grabbing fresh clothes, you head to the bathroom overhearing Dean wake Sam.
Thirty minutes later the Impala is packed. Dean walks out of the motel office and slides behind the wheel. You stare at the map calculating the route to Sioux Falls. Fifteen hours. Your hasty departure delays your training. You have only shot a gun a handful of times at a shooting range and hustled pool once.
Sam was ecstatic to hear the three of you would be heading to Sioux Falls to visit Bobby. He pops in his earbuds making the drive uneventful as you and Dean sit in silence, consumed with your own thoughts. Anxious to get to Bobby’s, Dean drives through lunch. As the sun begins to dip, you use the map to locate a nearby motel.
Dean exits the highway and tells you to stay in the car while he rents a room.
You lean against the Impala watching the sunset intensely aware of John’s absence. Sam and Dean aren’t daunted and you wonder how much time they really spend with their dad.
Dean carries your bag to the motel room. He drops it with a thud and you scan the room unable to resist comparing it to the previous motel room, before John left.
“I call the bed,” Dean tells Sam falling onto one of the queen mattress with outstretched arms. He closes his eyes, exhausted from driving all day. Sam begins unpacking his laptop, plugging in the charger and trying to connect to the Internet. You decide to take another shower, this time focusing on washing off the dust and grime of the trip.
You emerge from the bathroom with damp hair, a tank top that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable as water drips down your back and a pair of shorts. You find Dean still sleeping on the bed and Sam typing furiously. “We ordered a pizza,” he says happily from the small kitchen table.
There is a knock at the door and you walk over to answer it.
A young man with two pizza boxes stands in front of you staring at the name on the ticket. “Pizza for Osborne?” he says glancing up at you. His face breaks into a smile as he admires your bright eyes, smooth caramel skin and dark hair. You are about to respond when the man’s smile evaporates and he is fiddling with the receipt stapled to the box.
In your peripheral vision, you see Dean leaning against the open door standing behind you as he hands the pizza man two twenty dollar bills, and tells him to keep the change. The delivery boy practically shoves the pizza at him while stuffing the bills into his pocket. Dean slams the door and you realize he is angry.
“What’s wrong?” you ask steadily.
“What were you thinking just answering the door without even checking to see who it is? What if had been a demon or worse?” he yells looking at you condescendingly. “Your parents should have taught you better than that,” he says setting the boxes on the table.
Your blood freezes. Your heart stops beating.
A second passes before Dean looks up at you. He opens his mouth to apologize, “Azure,” he says desperately.
“Don’t. Just. Stop,” you say staring at him dazed.
You yank the motel door open. In about thirty seconds, Dean is going to follow you. As you look around the empty motel block you see a ladder connected to a set of fire escape stairs. Hoisting yourself up the ladder, you find yourself on the roof of the motel. You sit down quietly, hugging your knees and staring at the hundreds of stars.You hear Dean calling your name, but you don’t respond. He thinks you are upset because of his comment about your parents.
What he doesn’t know is that you never had parents.
You never had a mom.
You never had a dad.
You never had a childhood.
The story you told John is only partially true. Men tortured you and left you for dead, except they didn’t take you from your parents. They took you from a facility dedicated to the research and development of organisms that are exact genetic copies.
John quietly shuts the driver’s side door of his black pickup reaching into the flatbed for his bag. Earlier this morning, he watched from a distance as you, Sam and Dean packed up the Impala and drove towards the interstate. Lying to you doesn’t feel right, but John can’t shake the nagging sensation that there is something at the warehouse he missed. He already checked the warehouse. Dean went back too, but both of you were looking for a shifter. That is no longer the case.
Since the exorcism, John thinks there is more to your story. He isn’t worried about Sam or Dean, but he would be lying if he said your reserved nature isn’t odd. Unnatural.
He would also be lying if he tried to deny the way he feels about you. God help him, you are the most beautiful person he has ever seen. The way you look at him makes him uncomfortable, as if you can see everything he is thinking and feeling. As long as he lives, he will never forget the second he saw you lying in the dumpster and the overwhelming need to keep you safe.
It wasn’t until after you were attacked at the mall, that he remembered no one can really protect the people they love.
He sends up a silent prayer hoping Bobby will continue to train you and reassures himself that the best form of protection he can offer is uncovering who or what you are.
As night turns to dawn you wake up to a stifling heat. You are soaked in sweat. Opening your eyes lazily, you realize you have fallen asleep on the roof of the motel. You climb down the fire escape dropping soundlessly to the ground. The motel room doors are identical and you struggle to remember the room number. Just as you are about to check with the office, Dean walks out of a room, keys in hand. He is wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday. His hair is disheveled and his eyes are bloodshot.
“Where have you been?” he yells.
You push past him walking into the cool air-conditioned room.
“Azure!” Sam yells.
A weak smile pulls at your lips as you head straight for the shower. Fifteen minutes later you are folding your dirty clothes.
“I am sorry,” you hear Dean’s voice say over your shoulder.
“I know,” you answer while packing your belongings.
“You should let me drive,” is all you say as you walk out of the motel room towards the Impala.
Dean reluctantly agrees since he has spent all night driving around looking for you. You offer no explanation and he doesn’t ask. He almost reconsiders when he discovers how unfamiliar you are behind the wheel. He tells himself the highway is practically a straight shot and he needs the sleep. Sam puts his headphones in his ears and in minutes Dean is asleep. His arms crossed over his chest as his chin dips lower. You scan the horizon enjoying the view and the silence.
It is practically nightfall by the time you reach Bobby’s.
Sam was more than happy to stretch his legs and put gas in the car or run into the gas station to buy water. Dean is still asleep. You consider waking him for directions, but Sam insists he knows the way. As you pull into a dilapidated junk yard you question whether Sam’s directions were accurate. Stepping out of the car, you stretch your legs and see an older bearded man in a worn baseball cap emerge from the house.
“Bobby!” Sam yells with a smile giving him a big hug.
You stand with your arms crossed silently assessing him.
“Where is Dean?” Bobby asks.
You step to the side as he peeks into the Impala and sees Dean asleep in the passenger seat.
“Let you drive then, did he?” Bobby asks finally meeting your gaze.
“Didn’t give me much of a voice,” you respond seriously.
Bobby’s expression cracks and suddenly he is laughing.
You look at him with narrowed eyes.
“John warned me about you,” he says with a cautious smile.
“You talked to John?” you ask quickly your pulse quickening.
“’Ice in her veins’ he said,” Bobby responds not answering your question.
“Let’s get inside where we can all talk,” Bobby says. He knocks on the passenger side window and Dean wakes with a start. He immediately looks at the empty driver’s seat and then in the back. Realizing the car is empty he grabs the door handle and finally notices Bobby.
“Good to see you Bobby,” he says giving him a hug.
“How’s it going?” Bobby asks patting him on the back.
“Damn, I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in a while,” Dean says rubbing his face.
“I am sure,” Bobby says glancing at you. “Let’s go inside. Supper’s on and we need to talk,” he says putting his arm around Sam’s shoulder leading the three of you inside.
You walk into the house taking in the stacks of books covering every surface. It isn’t cluttered, more like organized chaos. Weapons are neatly arranged in corners and the décor is too eccentric not to have a deeper meaning. It is clean and welcoming, but the home of a bachelor.
Bobby leads the three of you to the kitchen where a pot sits on the stove. Dean grabs two bottles of water from the fridge. He opens one not completely removing the top and hands it to you. You notice he seems completely at ease here.
“Need help Bobby?” Sam asks.
“Sure, use those long arms of yours and grab us four bowls would you?” he says motioning to a cupboard.
“Hope you like chili,” Bobby says eyeing you. When you don’t respond he turns back around shaking his head and ladling huge servings of chili into bowls. The four of you sit at a small table. As the boys tuck into their food you poke at it moving it around the bowl. After taking a few bites you notice Bobby glancing at Sam and Dean and then tensing just slightly.
“I talked to John a few days ago. Said the three of you would be headed up here,” he says causally.
You stare at him impassively wondering how much John told him.
“He is on a hunt in Oklahoma,” Bobby says taking a long sip of beer. “He wants the two of you attending the private high school here in town,” Bobby says taking another long sip.
In an instant, Dean is pushing himself away from the table. “What?” he shouts. “Bobby. No. I would be a senior. You know I am planning on taking the GED,” Dean says.
You glance at Sam who is eating his chili with rapt attention. Sam is smart for his age. He is lonely too. It is clear he doesn’t share his brother’s feelings. You look up and find Bobby’s gaze settled directly on you. You realize he anticipated Dean’s reaction as well as Sam’s, but you are a stranger.
Minutes pass before you ask, “What about me?” staring at him.
“John was supposed to train you,” he says firmly.
“He didn’t,” you say with a clenched jaw.
“I know. He asked me to,” Bobby says with an insightful look.
You narrow your eyes wondering again how much John told Bobby.
“Sam and Dean took me a shooting range and taught me how to hustle pool,” you say with a blank expression.
“Alright. Then we pick it up from there,” he says shoving chili around the bowl with his spoon.
“Okay,” you say stonily.
You stare at your food wondering when John will be back.
Sam helps Bobby pick up the kitchen while you and Dean grab the bags from the Impala. You can see the tension in Dean’s shoulders. He is irritated at the idea of attending school. You stare him unsure of what to say.
“What?” he asks angrily.
You look away and say nothing at all.
Bobby shows you to a small room with a tiny window. You prepare for bed, turn off the light and slide under the covers.The bedroom is dark and quiet compared to the motel room. Memories of the dumpster come rushing back as your emotions surface, rising quickly. You fling off the hot covers searching for the doorknob. As you turn the handle, the cool air and light streaming from down the hall offer immediate relief.
You walk silently down the hall and find Dean wide-awake on the sofa watching television.
You turn the corner and he immediately stands asking, “What’s wrong?” with an alarmed expression.
“Can’t sleep,” you say calmly.
“Me either,” he says sitting back down.
“Want to watch TV?” he asks gesturing towards the empty cushion.
You watch Dean flip through channels. You wonder if Bobby’s feels more like home to him. You sit next to Dean tucking your legs underneath you. Your eyes immediately become heavy and soon you are fast asleep.
Weak rays of sunlight penetrate the room as you wake. A pillow is tucked under your head and a light blanket is spread over you. You glance over at Dean and find him asleep on the other side of the couch. You flip the pillow over feeling the cool caress on your cheek and fall back asleep.
Bobby never asks why your bed is always made or why you and Dean sleep on the couch in the living room. He spares you from explaining the room is too small, too dark, and you can’t fall asleep alone anymore.
Three Days Later
The four of you quickly fall into a routine. Dean fixes cars in Bobby’s junkyard. Some days Sam helps, but he spends most of his time in the library. Bobby begins showing you different types of weapons and explains when to use which. When you aren’t training, you join Sam in the library reviewing passages from ancient texts.
The four of you reconvene every night for dinner. Sam, Dean and Bobby usually spend their nights talking about people you don’t know, but tonight is different. Sam glances anxiously between Dean and Bobby as you eat in silence. When everyone finishes, Bobby asks you and Sam to pick up the kitchen while he talks to Dean outside. You watch as Sam dries plates in silence putting the dishes back in cupboards in a daze. He furrows his brow and you realize school starts tomorrow. Sam is nervous and Dean still refuses to go.
You glance out the window and see Bobby talking to Dean. Dean’s arms are crossed over his chest. He is staring at the ground nodding every so often. As they make their way back to the house you turn away wondering what Bobby could have possibly said to convince him.
The next morning you walk into the kitchen eyeing Sam and Dean’s matching school uniforms: khaki pants and white polo t-shirts with a crest on them. Dean’s face is a combination of annoyed and resigned. Dean glances at you expecting a comment about his decision to attend or his uniform. When you silently stare back at him he turns to Sam.
“Ready?” he asks.
Sam’s face is uneasy as he places his dishes in the sink and grabs his backpack twisting it in his hands.
“Good luck Sammy,” you tell him without thinking.
He smiles back at you hesitantly.
“He doesn’t need it. Sammy’s a genius. I’m going to make him do my homework,” Dean says smiling at his little brother.
Sam grins and they make their way to the Impala.
Shortly after Sam and Dean leave, you and Bobby begin training for the day. You practice long range shooting and it is a strenuous day of setting up targets while you practice your aim. As the two of you break for water, one of Bobby’s landlines begins to ring. With a heavy sigh, he walks over from the kitchen table and answers.
“Yes. Sam? You’re sure? I will be right there,” he says before hanging up with a click.
“Sam got into a fight. He’s been suspended. Maybe even expelled. I have to go pick him up,” he says rubbing his hand over his beard.
Bobby wordlessly grabs his keys and heads to the door. “I’ll read until you get back,” you say closing the door gently behind him.
You look up from the heavy tome as the door slams and you hear Sam’s voice in the hallway.
“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” he says cutting a path towards the stairs.
“We will talk about it eventually. You broke a kid’s nose, Sam,” Bobby says harshly.
You hear Sam stomp up the stairs as Bobby walks towards the library. He takes off his hat and pinches the bridge of his nose.
He opens his eyes and finds you watching him. “I need to go back to the school and try and convince them not to expel him. We will pick up your training tomorrow,” he says.
“That bad?” you ask blankly.
“That bad,” Bobby says slapping his hat back on his head walking out the door.
Moments later you hear a loud clatter overhead.
“Shit,” Sam curses loudly.
You walk upstairs and find Sam in the bathroom with a first aid kit. He has removed his white polo and is standing in the bathroom in his undershirt. He is trying to bandage a deep cut near his right elbow. You watch him struggle as he tries to wrap the gauze around his still bleeding arm. He notices you standing in the doorway. You walk into the bathroom and sit on the counter next to the first aid kit, gently turning his arm to examine the cut.
“Deep cut,” you say quietly.
“Glass,” Sam responds.
You turn on the faucet and grab a piece of gauze, wetting it with cool water. You clean the area around the cut and then hold a fresh piece of gauze to staunch the bleeding. You sit quietly as the blood flow begins to slow.
“I didn’t start it,” Sam says softly.
You replace the blood soaked gauze and continue to apply pressure. The blood finally clots and you pull fresh gauze and tape from the first aid kit. As you cut strips of tape Sam continues, “Some guys asked about my parents. They said dad left because he couldn’t stand looking at his freak sons,” his voice full of anger.
Seconds pass before Sam says, “One of them pushed me and my elbow went through a fire extinguisher case. I broke the other one’s nose and they ran,” absentmindedly gazing into the corner of the bathroom.
You tape the gauze down securing it around his elbow.
“Why did he leave us? Why does he always leave?” Sam asks his voice breaking as he clenches his fist.
You pause and stare at him remembering the agony you felt when you found out John left. You were in the bathroom and just when you thought it would pull you apart you compartmentalized it. You hid it deep down where it couldn’t hurt you.
Sam is shaking and tears leak out of his eyes. He experiences every emotion at once: anger, fear and abandonment. He can’t bury his pain or confine it. It is consuming him and he is going to drown. You curse John for leaving and squeeze your eyes shut realizing you don’t have words to soothe Sam’s grief. You push yourself off of the bathroom counter and stand in front of him. You slowly wrap your arms around his torso. Suddenly his arms are around your shoulders and he is crying heavily soaking your shirt.
“I’m sorry,” you repeat softly.
You stand in the bathroom holding him unsure of how much time has passed. Eventually he detangles himself from your arms, splashes water on his face and gets in bed. You watch him close his eyes before shutting off the light and closing the door. You pause midway down the stairs when you hear Dean and Bobby talking.
“He got into a fight?” Dean says angrily.
“Yeah, I convinced the principal not to expel him. Apparently a teacher saw it and said two boys attacked Sam and he was just defending himself,” Bobby says shaking his head.
“Who was it?” Dean growls.
“Dean …” Bobby begins. “Let it go,” he says with a resigned expression.
“No! I want to know who …” Dean begins before you interrupt.
“Those boys told Sam John left because he couldn’t stand his two freak sons,” you say neutrally.
Dean’s gaze sweeps over your wet t-shirt and the light smudges of blood.
“I patched him up,” you answer.
Dean’s eyes soften and his expression becomes guilty.
“It’s been a long day. I am going to go sit,” Bobby says heading towards the living room.
You walk to the laundry room and change into a fresh shirt before heading back to the library.
An hour passes and it is relatively quiet. Dean is outside pretending to fix up an old truck while angrily tossing tools onto the worktable.
You walk into the living room and notice Bobby is asleep on the armchair next to the couch. He is wearing his boots so you crouch down and unlace his shoes. You slide them off and set them gently next to the chair. You grab a blanket from the couch and lay it over him before heading to the kitchen.
You find frozen lasagna and the directions look straightforward. You set the table and wait for the timer. As you set down dinner plates and forks, Dean walks into the kitchen.
“Where is Bobby?” Dean asks.
“Sleeping in the living room. He is exhausted,” you say unemotionally.
“Didn’t realize you knew how to cook,” Dean says.
“I don’t,” you say as the oven beeps and you grab a dishtowel to remove the dish from the oven.
Minutes later, Sam walks into the kitchen. Dean eyes Sam assessing his injuries and then pats his shoulder.
“He cooks every night,” you tell Dean abruptly. You don’t know why, but it bothers you. You weren’t going to say it, but the words escaped before you could reconsider.
Dean gives you a puzzled look. You turn around and begin cutting slices. “I’ll take care of it,” he says softly.
Bobby walks in as the three of you sit to eat.
“What’s this?” he asks patting the back of Sam’s head.
“Azure cooked,” Dean says standing to grab Bobby a plate.
Bobby settles into his chair with a large piece of lasagna in front of him.
“Azure and I were talking and it might not be a bad idea for Sam and I to take a few nights in the kitchen,” Dean says subtlety.
You narrow your eyes at Dean in confusion.
“Alright by me,” Bobby says. “I could use the help, but if you and Sam are terrible cooks we may have to look into carry out,” he says gruffly.
The three of them laugh and a smile tugs at your lips.
Three Days Earlier
John stuck around Santa Fe after the three of you left. He figured he would question the locals before heading out. John walks into the second roadhouse he has hit tonight. After spending hours at the bar nursing his beer, he still has no leads. He sits at the bar and eyes the bartender. She is blonde with soft curls. Much easier on the eyes than the bald portly bartender covering the other half of the bar.
“What can I get you?” she asks with a smile.
“Beer. Please,” John says with a smile.
As she turns to pour the beer, John scans the bar.
The bartender sets the glass down gently on a coaster. “Thank you,” John says with a smile. “Hey can I ask you a question?” he says innocuously.
She raises her eyebrows in response. He gives her a charming smile. “No, no I am trying to track down a family friend. She ran away and her dad thinks she is here. Have you seen a young woman with dark hair and blue eyes? She has light brown skin,” John finishes.
The waitress presses her lips into a thin line while thinking. “I did! Her and two boys came in here and ate lunch a few days ago. They were glaring at each other for a bit, but it didn’t seem like she was being held against her will. She was a pretty thing,” she says giving John a concerned look.
“Who was a pretty thing?” the portly bartender asks walking over while drying a glass.
“Tom, you remember those teens that came in for lunch the other day. Two boys and a girl. We were real slow. They ate, watched some kids play pool and then left,” she says.
“Oh, I would remember that pretty little thing any day. Those curves and that long black hair. She can play with my pool stick,” he says lewdly.
“Ew. Tom,” the bartender says in disgust. Tom shrugs and walks towards the opposite end of the bar.
John clenches his beer so tightly it is on the verge of shattering. He is envisioning bashing the man’s head against the bar.
“Don’t mind him,” she says as she shakes her head.
“This place really only caters to locals. Those teens and a pair of suits were the only newcomers we had in the past week,” she says wiping up spilled beer.
“Suits?” John asks.
“Yeah two guys. Suits in 100 degree weather, I kid you not. They stopped for lunch and acted like I didn’t even exist. Talked the whole time. One of them was all bent out of shape about how they were going to tell their boss they failed to retrieve the subject,” she says casually.
“They said all that, huh?” John prompts.
“I am telling you it was like I wasn’t even there. Ordered lunch, talked, paid in cash and left,” she says smiling at John.
“Did you happen to hear what company they worked for?” John asks carefully.
“Hydra. I think. I can’t be sure,” she says.
Her eyes peruse John’s salt and pepper beard and dark lashes. His smile is charming and he is broad shouldered. “You know, I would give you my number if you asked,” she says batting her lashes.
John glances at her soft curls and brown eyes. Images of your long black hair, kaleidoscope eyes and smooth caramel skin come rushing back to him.
He gives her a big smile, pulls a ten from his pocket and says, “Thanks, but I think I need to focus on that girl,” placing it on the counter.
Hydra. He repeats to himself.
Present Day – Bobby’s
Sam and Dean continue to attend school while Bobby trains you. Your routines are the same except you take turns cooking. Dean drains pasta in the sink as Sam stirs sauce on the stove. You sit at the table talking to Bobby about today’s lesson. Dean serves four bowls of spaghetti with sauce and huge pieces of garlic bread. You stand to get a bottle of water from the fridge and grab Bobby a beer. As the four of you sit down to eat, Sam talks nonstop about school. He smiles while talking about his classes and spends hours studying. He loves it, you think to yourself. You are grateful Sam wasn’t expelled and a smile tugs at your lips. Dean catches your eye and smiles as Sam continues to talk about class.
“And Dean is going to Homecoming …” Sam says.
Bobby clears his throat and asks, “Come again?” with a smile.
Dean ducks his head clearly uncomfortable. “It is a stupid dance. This girl Amy...,” he says casually.
“Not just any girl…” Sam begins.
“Sammy!” Dean interrupts.
“It’s not a big deal,” he says taking a long sip of water.
“Well, let me know if you need money for a suit or I don't know, if I need to sign something,” Bobby chuckles before turning back to his food.
Dean elbows Sam gently. Sam begins chatting about something else and only Bobby seems to be paying attention.
The weekend arrives and you wake up to the sound of Bobby’s phone ringing. With Sam and Bobby upstairs and Dean on the opposite end of the couch, you are the closest to the phone. You walk towards the phone and stare at it as it rings.
You finally answer, “Singer Residence” the words strange on your lips.
“Hi. Who is this?” a voice asks.
“Who is this?” you ask cautiously.
“This is Amy. Dean’s date for tonight,” she says before succumbing to a fit of coughing.
She stops coughing and then asks, “Can I talk to him?” in a raspy voice.
You walk back towards the couch. You shake Dean’s shoulder while saying his name.
“Dean,” you say softly. When he doesn’t stir you shake him harder.
“Dean” you say louder.
He opens his eyes and smiles at you. “Hey Beautiful,” he says sleepily.
You stare blankly at him trying to ignore your racing heart.
“Phone’s for you,” you say handing him the phone. You quickly walk to the bathroom giving him space.
You emerge from the shower and quickly throw on a t-shirt and shorts. As you make your way downstairs you hear Bobby’s voice from the kitchen. “I’m sorry to hear that son,” he says staring at Dean.
“Don’t worry about it Bobby,” Dean says quietly.
Bobby walks out of the kitchen and heads towards the library. You walk into the kitchen and ask “What happened?” while pouring yourself a mug of coffee.
“Amy called. She has the flu and can’t go to the dance tonight,” Dean says. His arms are crossed over his chest as he leans back in his seat. He stares out the window. His eyes lack their usual brilliance.
“You wanted to go,” you say softly. A statement not a question.
Dean shakes his head and stares at the kitchen table. “It’s stupid, but this was going to be my last chance. When I asked Amy I could barely breathe,” he says with a dejected smile.
“Dumb right?” he says rubbing his hands over his face. "Killed a werewolf, a vamp, a ghoul. Never been to a high school dance though. I just wanted it so bad," he says sadly.
You close your eyes remembering the day you asked John to take you with. Too scared to even breathe, you don’t know what you would have done if he said no. You clench your jaw as you wonder where he is and for the second time in days curse him for leaving you.
“If it is important to you, I will go with you,” you say gazing at Dean with aquamarine eyes.
Present Day - Early Morning
John doesn’t get anywhere researching Hydra, however gas station attendants and late night diner waitresses vividly remember two guys in suits. John follows their trail to Norfolk, Nebraska before it runs cold. He pulls to the side of the road, flips open his glove compartment and unfolds the map.
With a deep sigh he wonders what he is even chasing. Two men in suits? Two strangers in a small town? He replays the conversation with the bartender at the roadhouse in his head. Failure to return the subject. He eyes the map spotting a gas station a few miles up the road. He quickly folds the map returning it to the glove compartment with a click before revving up the engine.
The gas station is rundown. He pulls the handle, surprised when the door opens. He walks in and a bell chimes softly as the door closes. John makes his way to the back and pours himself a cup of coffee. It is no doubt burnt and two days old. He walks up to the cashier lazily. “Not much around these parts,” he says while slowly pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.
“Nope,” the grizzled gas station attendant answers still perusing his magazine.
“Would hate to get stranded out here with nothing for miles,” John says nonchalantly thumbing through the bills in his wallet.
The attendant pulls his gaze away from the magazine and gives John a curious look.
“Just meant you probably don’t see a lot of action,” John says with a grin.
“Hear plenty of action,” the attendant murmurs.
“What’s that?” John asks placing a twenty on the counter, entirely too much for one cup of coffee. The attendant glances down at the bill. “Gets pretty noisy ‘bout twenty miles north of here,” he mumbles.
“And what’s twenty miles north of here?” John asks.
The attendant glances down at the twenty-dollar bill and back up at John. John pulls another twenty-dollar bill out of his wallet and sets it on the counter.
“Research facility,” the attendant says before sliding the bills across the counter and cramming them into his pocket.
John quickly walks out of the gas station tossing the cup of coffee into the nearest trashcan.
Minutes pass and soon he is approaching a large one-story building. He leaves his truck just off the highway and grabs his gun and flashlight, continuing on foot. He approaches the facility in broad daylight with a story ready. Truck broke down.
He detects no activity. As he walks towards the double doors he notices an unusual symbol, a skull with tentacles. He walks into the dark building silently passing rooms with petri dishes, test tubes, and pipettes strewn about as if the lab was abandoned in haste. Walking further into the building he finds examination tables with computers and screens covered in dust. The building is quiet and hasn’t been occupied in a long time. As he turns the corner, he discovers a row of small nursery rooms, each exactly the same: pink wallpaper, crib, rocking chair and a small desk with a stool. Every room has damage, crumbling cinder block, broken glass and shards of splinters from cribs. Every room except the last room. It is in perfect condition. He clicks on his black flashlight and scans the room before walking inside. Rifling through the desk he finds a few scattered papers.
Incident Report # 214
AZURE continues to exhibit extraordinary control over her ability to manipulate energy. Although all of the subjects contain the same Caucasian/ Native American nuclei, AZURE is the only test subject of 63 births to live past the age of 10. As she reaches pubescence, she has displayed significant interest in mothers. AZURE has approached multiple female agents asking them if they are mothers.
Incident Report # 317
AZURE continues to grow. Her astonishing ability to suppress her power has resulted in additional experiments. Trials have begun to test and record the degree to which she can suppress her powers under extreme physical, emotional, and mental duress. Hydra is confident she will become a powerful weapon with proper assimilation training.
Incident Report # 472
Plans have begun to move AZURE to an alternate location. Hydra suspects the integrity of this facility has been compromised. I cannot record any additional details.
Incident Report # 473
Evacuation procedures are in affect. Agent Posthma’s eyes turned black. He was restrained and exorcised. Emergency protocol is being executed. I will resume my reports once the test subject has been successfully transferred.
John stands in silence envisioning the events after the last incident report.
Demons attacked the facility and kidnapped Azure. During her torture, Azure only revealed her abilities once. Impatient and deeming her a lost cause, they left her for dead in the dumpster.
Fuck, John thinks to himself. There is no way someone isn’t looking for her.
He pulls his gun from his waistband and quickly makes his way towards the exit,
Present Day - Bobby's House
“Why? Why would you do that?” Dean asks with a confused expression.
“Because you want to go,” you answer simply.
“Okay... Okay…” he says rubbing his hand over his mouth.
Bobby lends you a rusty pickup truck. When he tries to pull his wallet from his back pocket, you let him know you have money. Your movements are jerky behind the wheel, but you are almost at the mall. As you look in the rearview mirror, you notice a white sedan following you. The mall is a popular destination, especially on a Saturday, but you memorize the license plate anyway.
The automatic doors open as you approach the department store entrance. You scan the formal dresses and pick a white dress with wide sleeves that end at the elbow. The skirt falls to the floor. It is loose and your scars won’t show even with the plunging neckline. It reminds you of the dresses you’ve seen in Japanese prints at Bobby’s house.
You walk over to the register. The saleswoman gushes over the dress. “I have had my eye on this dress forever. It will look lovely with your skin tone. I am guessing you are headed to the dance tonight?” she asks.
“Yes,” you answer digging the bills out of your pocket.
“Well, you have fun sweetie!” she says excitedly as she hands you your change and places a garment bag around your dress. You drive back to Bobby’s continuously checking the rearview mirror, but the white sedan is nowhere in sight.
You shower, carefully cut the tags off of your dress and slide it on. As you take a deep breath you recall the night you hustled pool at the roadhouse. You became someone else then and you can become someone else now.
Sam sits on the last step of the stairs staring at his feet while Bobby and Dean stand in the entryway. Dean is wearing a charcoal gray suit with brown shoes. He fixes his cuffs while chatting with Bobby. Sam looks up at you as you walk down the stairs. Bobby turns towards the stairs and says, “Well, I am glad one of you cleans up well,” with a grin.
Dean gazes up at you with the same electric green eyes as the night you woke up in his arms.
“Ready?” you ask casually.
You rest your hand on Dean’s arm as the two of you walk towards the Impala. Dean opens the passenger door for you and minutes later you are headed towards the high school.
Upon your arrival, Dean’s friends and their dates quickly overcome you. Introductions are made and you are swiftly pulled into conversation. “Your dress looks lovely with your skin tone,” you tell a petite redhead next to you. “Thank you,” she says as she runs her hands over the tulle. The compliment leads to a group discussion regarding which department stores have the best dresses. As you smile and nod you look over you shoulder and find Dean smiling at you.
“Excuse me, Ladies,” he says interrupting politely and reaching for your hand. He leads you to the dance floor and a slow melody begins to play.
Dean places his hand on your hip as you rest your left hand on his shoulder. He cradles your right hand gently pulling you closer to him as you begin to sway to the music.
“Having fun?” you ask softly.
“Yes,” he says gazing down at you.
“Thank you,” he whispers in your ear resting his head gently against your temple.
“Azure, I need to tell you something …” Dean begins.
Your pulse begins to beat loudly in your ears as you straighten your back and give him a forced smile. “Excuse me. I am going to the ladies room,” you say letting your hand linger reassuringly on his chest.
You make your way down the hall and find the bathroom furthest from the dance floor. You walk into the bathroom and stare at your reflection in the mirror. Cornflower blue eyes, glossy black hair, glowing skin. You close your eyes wishing it was real, but it isn’t. As you grip the sink tightly, you hear footsteps. You turn around quickly and find yourself staring at John Winchester.
His dark hair is longer and unkempt. His salt and pepper beard hasn’t been trimmed in days. He wears a black t-shirt with jeans and boots. He looks the way you always remember him.
“John,” you whisper softly. It has only been days, but his name feels strange on your lips. “What are you doing here?” you ask feeling like you chest is being crushed.
“Azure… I had to see you… I had to make sure you are okay,” John says closing the distance between the two of you stopping just in front of you.
“Where were you?” you ask struggling to breathe staring into his dark eyes.
John looks away, “Azure,” he says his voice deep. “Azure, I know what you are,” pulling his gaze towards you with a guilt ridden eyes.
“Why? Why would you do that?” you ask feeling a grip like a vise around your heart.
“Azure… I had to protect you. I had to know what you are … to protect you…as best I can …” he says trailing off.
“Protect me? Protect me!” you say your voice shrill against the empty bathroom. “You should have taught me how to fight the day you found me in that dumpster instead of leaving,” you say heaving, struggling to breathe.
You feel agony, pain, and anger rise to the surface. All of the emotions you have suppressed pound against the steely exterior you wrapped around yourself. The injustice of being brought into this world and tested on like an animal. The wrath of being tortured by demons that would use you for their own crimes. The despair of being left behind by the one person you thought you could trust. The hopelessness of realizing you are in love with John Winchester.
They all come pouring out of you and it feels like every cell in your body is being pulled apart.
“You left me,” you mutter inaudibly as the pressure becomes greater.
“Azure, please …” John begins.
“You. Left. Me.” you say and suddenly you feel energy pulse in your hands. With a scream you throw the pulsating waves against the wall.
The wall explodes as pieces of brick and dust fly into the air. You and John are thrown back against the wall. You cough as the dust begins to settle and notice an eight-foot hole looking directly out onto the football field. Your hear footsteps and inaudible shouting over the ringing in your ears. You squint your eyes and peer at the hole seeing two people in black protective gear step silently over the bricks. You can hear someone faintly yelling your name in the distance.
“Azure,” John mumbles, his eyes are closed and he struggles to keep his head up.
You glance back at the two people walking slowly towards you. The Hydra insignia on their gear is unmistakable. You struggle to keep your eyes open as they flutter between John and the two people calmly approaching you.
You knees buckle as get to your feet. You take a step towards John and suddenly arms are restraining you, pulling you back towards the hole. You struggle against them uselessly throwing elbows. As John comes to he struggles to get to his feet while the other agent pushes him back against the wall.
"Azure!" he yells.
“John,” you scream desperately.
The agent almost has you over the threshold as Dean bursts through the bathroom door.
“Azure,” he yells with a look of rage on his face you have never seen before.
It is the last thing you see before you are knocked unconscious.
The sound of footsteps and shouting grows louder.
The agent restraining John steps away from him and nimbly walks backwards with his gun raised stepping over the rubble and disappearing through the eight-foot hole. John stumbles clutching the side of his head. In an instant, he is being pushed back against the wall again, this time by Dean.
“What happened?” Dean yells angrily.
John scans Dean’s suit with a confused look and comes to his senses. “Let’s go,” he says quickly flinging the bathroom door open. John and Dean slip unnoticed between the teachers and students running towards the exits. They hear sirens descend on the school as they cross the parking lot making their way towards John’s black truck. Dean jumps into the passenger seat as John revs up the engine.
“Dean… I wasn’t on a hunt in Oklahoma,” John says distractedly navigating out of the parking lot. “Shit,” he yells slamming his hand on the steering wheel. “How did we lose them so quickly?” John says with a growl shaking his head while merging onto the freeway. He scans the traffic for any vehicle that looks remotely suspicious. Your scream echoes in his brain.
“If you weren’t in Oklahoma, where were you?” Dean asks slipping out of his dusty ripped suit jacket scanning the other cars on the road.
“I hung back in Santa Fe and asked around about Azure,” John says distractedly.
“What? Why would you do that?” Dean shouts.
“Damnit Dean, I don’t have time to explain. Something about her story didn’t add up …” John continues.
“You don’t trust her?” Dean asks angrily.
“No. You don’t understand. She isn’t who she says she is. She isn’t what she says she is. She told me she was taken from her parents and tortured,” John says swerving just barely missing a sedan.
“You saw her injuries yourself,” Dean says with disbelief.
“She was abducted, but not from her family. She is a clone. Two suits showed up in Santa Fe about a week before we did. They work for an organization called Hydra. I followed their trail back to Nebraska and found a facility. It was abandoned, but there were reports. They were cloning little girls with special abilities. They were going to turn them into weapons. Demons attacked the facility and kidnapped Azure. It wasn’t men who did that to her, it was demons,” John says gripping the wheel his knuckles turning white.
“That can’t be true,” Dean says shaking his head.
“Dean, you know what’s out there,” John presses.
“She isn’t a clone. I would know,” Dean shouts.
“Dean ... the reports mention her by name,” John counters angrily.
“If you trust her why did you go poking around her past?” Dean yells.
“I was trying to protect her. I needed to know what she is. You wouldn’t understand. I had to know what we were up against ” John shouts back.
Dean shakes his head. It can’t be true. He closes his eyes as visions of you trying to escape the agent’s grip replay in his mind. As he opens his eyes, he notices a black SUV subtly weaving through traffic up ahead.
“John,” he says pointing towards the car.
John switches lanes and then takes his foot off the gas, driving just above the speed limit. He is close enough to trail the vehicle but also keeps enough distance to avoid suspicion. Minutes later the black SUV is just outside of Sioux Falls slowly pulling up to a large one story building. John kills the engine as he and Dean sit in darkness.
Two agents in protective gear jump out of the car. One of them exits the driver’s side door, gun raised scanning the perimeter. The second opens the door and hauls your limp form out of the car. Still unconscious, he roughly lifts your lifeless body over his shoulder. Dean puts his hand on the door handle ready to rush out just as John places his hand on his arm wordlessly stopping him.
“We can’t go in there guns blazing. We don’t know how many people are in there,” John says in a hushed whisper.
Minutes pass as the two agents disappear into the facility.
John unbuckles his seat belt and heads to the truck bed pulling out his weapons cache. He grabs a flashlight and a shotgun avoiding Dean’s gaze.
“I need you out here,” John says in a rigid tone.
“No,” Dean says loading a magazine into the handgun before tucking it into his waistband.
“Dean. That is order,” John growls.
Dean turns to face John. “No,” he says in an unyielding tone.
John scans Dean’s shirt and dusty pants recalling Azure’s silk white dress. “You were at a dance,” John says in an incredulous tone.
“Damnit are we really going to talk about that now while they are doing God knows what to her!” Dean yells.
John notices Dean’s heavy breathing, the way his trigger finger twitches, and the dangerous gleam in his eye. There is not a damn thing in this world that would stop him from going in there. If it weren’t for decades of self-restraint, John would be Dean’s mirror image. Fuck, John thinks to himself. Dean is in love with her. John shoves down the feelings of possessiveness and focuses.
Get her back alive and figure the rest out later.
Nothing else matters.
The pounding in your head is debilitating. You blink a few times and hear muffled voices. The pressure in your head is almost unbearable. You wince slightly as the voices slowly become sharper. You close your eyes tightly scanning through your memories, trying to identify the female voice that is assaulting your senses.
“The secondary facility was designed with more advanced safety protocols,” she says over the whirring of computers.
The department store attendant.
“In order to ensure test subjects remain property of Hydra, emergency evacuation procedures include a self destruct mode,” she continues.
A self-destruct mode to make sure you don’t fall into the hands of demons. Memories of your abduction dance through your head. Black smoke forcing its way down agents’ throats turning them against themselves.
Smashing their own heads against cinder blocks.
Vaulting from person to person while a man in a suit with a British accent stands calmly in front of you.
An unfamiliar voice pulls you back to the present.
“How did you find her?” a deep male voice asks.
“We followed her from Santa Fe to Sioux Falls. When she arrived we couldn’t pinpoint her location. My assignment was to befriend Sheriff Mills while working as a department store attendant. Sheriff Mills is overly paranoid and I was making very little progress until our test subject walked into the department store and purchased a formal dress,” she says.
You open your eyes and assess your surroundings. The small cell is a high tech prison. A wall of bulletproof glass separates you from the agents. The ventilation system currently pumps air into the small space, but other vents suggest a more intricate and sinister purpose.
The agents stand in the middle of a cluster of computers with blinking monitors. To the left a gurney with several restraints is prepped. They have started removing their helmets and some of their protective gear. You flex your hands surprised they haven’t restrained you. You let your hand wander to your thigh and find the small handgun holstered to your thigh. A computer begins beeping frantically. From a distance you see John and Dean enter the facility slowly with their weapons raised.
“We will have to eliminate her companions. They will come for her. They won’t stop,” the male agent says dispassionately.
No. Not Dean. Not John. You have never experienced panic to this degree. Your relationship with them will always make them vulnerable and they will always be your weakness. You can’t protect them. The anguish of knowing what you have to do leaves you screaming in searing pain.
Every emotion you have suppressed comes rising to the surface like a storm. Churning violently, the storm doesn’t consume you. For once, it becomes you. You lean your head back with arms outstretched and allow the energy to crackle around you.
Energy pulsates in your hands as you aim towards the glass and release blast after blast. The glass reverberates loudly with each shockwave.
“Damnit, we should have restrained her when she was unconscious,” the female agent shouts as she run towards the cell. She punches a code into the keypad while holding a dangerous looking baton that crackles with electricity. Just as the bulletproof glass retracts into the celling, you release a blast of energy that sends both agents flying. The male agent’s head slams against the computer with a sickening crack.
The female agent struggles to stand after being slammed into a computer. You pull your handgun from the folds of your skirt and shoot the female agent once in the thigh. She screams as she falls to the ground. You shoot her again in the shoulder.
You glance at her unconscious partner.
“What is the self destruct code?” you ask glaring at her.
She stares back at you in silence.
She screams when you wrap your hand around her thigh and squeeze causing blood to gush from her gunshot wound.
“You will kill us all,” she says between screams.
You lean in close to her ear and whisper, “That’s the point,” before squeezing her shoulder leaving her shrieking in agony.
John and Dean walk cautiously through the facility with their weapons raised until they hear an ear-splitting cry pierce the silence. Dean sends up a silent prayer as they sprint towards the screaming.
As both men barrel into the control room they find you standing over a computer typing furiously. Your white dressed is soak in blood. Your eyes are the color of glaciers, a stark contrast to your black wild hair.
They scan the room and notice both agents unconscious, one sitting in a pool of blood.
You stand slowly turning towards them. “You need to leave. This facility is going to explode,” you say calmly.
John steps towards you reaching for your hand.
You step back just inches from his reach.
“John,” you say gazing at him as your heart breaks. “I am not supposed to exist. I was never meant to be. You know this,” you say closing your eyes painfully.
“Azure…” Dean says staring at you in disbelief.
“Dean … the day I woke up in the Impala in your arms… I always knew it was going to end this way,” you say with a resigned expression.
John reaches for you again intent on dragging you from the facility. You step back and point your gun at him.
“Azure …” he says his voice breaking.
“John, please don’t make me shoot you,” you say your voice catching in your throat.
Your hands begin to shake as you try and keep the gun steady.
“I am not Mary and this is not your choice. This is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done,” you say purposefully.
“I am not leaving you,” Dean shouts.
“This is the way it has to be. You have to go now,” you tell John wordlessly begging him to understand.
You stare at him intensely. “I love you,” you mouth the words barely audible.
John nods unable to speak. His eyes are soft as he memorizes every detail of your face. He closes his eyes and when he opens them you recognize the determined set of his jaw.
“Dean,” John growls.
“What? No!” Dean says glancing between the two of you and then lunging for you.
Anticipating Dean’s desperate attempt, John is ready and wraps his arm around Dean’s chest dragging him backwards. Dean struggles against John they walk backwards out of the control room. Metallic doors slam sealing you inside as an automated voice says, “Facility will self destruct in two minutes” and begins counting down.
Dean pounds on the door screaming your name. John pulls him back. “Dean, we have to go now!” he shouts. With a pained expression he turns running through the empty halls towards the exit.
Just as John and Dean cross the parking lot a thunderous explosion silences the alarms.
Suddenly, a searing pain leaves John leaning against his truck unable to stand. The anguish feels like he is being torn apart from the inside. He screams through the torment feeling no longer whole.
Dean falls to his knees on the asphalt sobbing.
John and Dean make their way back to Bobby’s house. As soon as John pulls up Bobby opens the door, with a loud bang.
“What happened?” he asks with an alarmed expression glancing towards Dean who barrels passed him into the house.
John walks slowly around the car.
“She’s gone Bobby,” John says his eyes red.
“Get in here,” Bobby growls.
As Bobby and John walk into the house they hear the unmistakable sound of Dean throwing things upstairs.
John sits in a chair at the kitchen staring into the distance.
“John,” Bobby says.
When John doesn’t respond, Bobby repeats himself “JOHN,” he yells.
“Azure was a clone,” John says his gaze fixated on the opposite side of the kitchen.
“She was created by an organization called Hydra. They came for her at the dance. We followed them to a facility just outside of Sioux Falls. She …” John pauses unable to continue.
“She blew it up,” he says closing his eyes reliving the pain.
Bobby stares at John as minutes pass in silence.
“She told me she wasn’t Mary and that it was always going to end this way,” John continues.
A heavy crash from upstairs breaks the silence.
“And Dean?” Bobby asks.
“He was there for all of it. Wouldn’t stay outside… had to drag him away from her,” John says covering his eyes with his hand.
“Bobby …” John says his voice breaking.
Bobby slams his hand against the refrigerator. “Damnit,” he shouts.
Sam walks in with a confused expression. “What is going on?” he asks observing John’s distraught expression and Bobby’s angry look.
“Son, Azure …” Bobby begins.
“No,” Sam says shaking his head taking a step back.
“I am sorry,” Bobby says softly taking a step towards Sam.
“No!” Sam shouts running towards the front door out into the junkyard.
He sits on an old truck Dean has been working on and cries quietly.
Days pass and although Azure’s time at Bobby’s was short her absence is profoundly felt. Dean refuses to talk to John, blaming him for her death. Convinced he should have dragged her out of the facility, no matter her wishes. John stays at Bobby’s until Dean’s anger becomes too much. He leaves for a hunt not even bothering to tell Bobby where he is going, not that he cares. Bobby blames John, but for what he isn’t sure. Not even a damn body to bury, Bobby thinks to himself.
“Cas, can I ask you something?” Dean asks hesitantly.
“Of course, Dean,” Cas answers with his gravelly voice.
“Azure… is she in heaven?” Dean asks hesitantly, unsure he wants to know.
“She is. There was much debate amongst the angels as to whether to let her into heaven. There were many who objected to the way in which she was conceived. When I reminded them that was not Jesus also immaculately conceived, they relented and agreed to make an exception. Angels can be hypocritical at times,” Cas finishes noticing Dean is no longer paying attention.
“That.. that’s good Cas,” he says.
“Dean,” Cas says.
“Yeah, Cas?” Dean asks.
“I head you every time you prayed. The night you found her and pressed the silver knife against her skin. The night she was outside and you prayed she wouldn’t go home with Ellen. The incident at the mall when you saw her being attacked. The time you drove around all night praying you would find her after you lost your temper with her. The thanks you gave when she agreed to go to the dance with you. The prayer when you heard screaming in the facility and thought you were too late. She is happy Dean,” Cas explains.
“Thanks, Cas,” Dean says staring into his disheveled black hair and deep blue eyes so similar to yours.
“Castiel, do you have a second?” John asks tentatively.
“Of course,” Cas responds.
“Sam mentioned you might know what everyone’s heaven looks like?” John asks looking around as if not wanting to be heard.
“I do,” Cas answers.
“What’s hers like?” John asks staring at Cas with a starved expression.
“There weren’t very many happy memories to pick from…” Cas says solemnly.
John glances at the floor crestfallen.
“In her heaven, she is at the Santa Fe River Trail lying on the hood of the Impala staring at the night sky. It is a breathtaking view filled with stars. All of her best memories occurred in that car,” Cas explains.
John stares at Cas intensely.
“The night she woke up in Dean’s arms and realized she was no longer trapped in the dumpster. The excitement she felt when Sam and Dean promised to teach her how to play pool after lunch one day. The peaceful drive from Santa Fe to Sioux Falls with Dean sleeping and Sam in the backseat,” Castiel explains.
“That … that’s good,” John mumbles halfheartedly.
“Her favorite memory was with you though, John,” Cas adds.
“It was?” John asks with a confused tone.
Cas smiles at John. “Her heaven is the Santa Fe River Trail for a reason. The day she asked you to take her with you. You two sat on the Impala staring out at the desert trail and mountains. She could have sat there with you forever,” Cas says softly.
John smiles weakly and a small sense of peace washes over him.