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Alone

Chapter Text

There are two prevailing smells right now. Musty damp that seeps out of the walls and, of course, the copper on your blade. Lambs blood. Enough to cover the glint of silver in the sparse moonlight that shines through the dirt-encrusted windows. Enough that there's the occasional drip on the floor and you're not sure if it's a leaky pipe in the distance or a steady drip from your knife.

Around the next corner is where you see them. Two women. Both pretty, but you know it's not their looks that got them into this situation. They're hanging on hooks like meat in a butcher's shop and your stomach drops at the sight of them.

You make a sweep around the room first, checking corners and doorways that lead to other corridors, even going as far as shining a flashlight above you into the rafters overhead. Nothing. You'd be worried but then you finally reach them with two fingers pressed into their necks.

They're already dead.

Your whole body seems to tense with the disappointed sigh you let out. You'll come back for them, cut them down, and mutter your respects but not yet. There's not time yet. The damn thing is probably already out there, lurking under the cover of darkness, looking for its next victim.

But maybe not.

You don't drop your guard for a moment. The night is young, and you've been burned before by your assumptions. You know by now that monsters can be as unpredictable as the day is long.

There's nothing more you can do for these poor souls that hang next to you. Well, nothing except killing the bastard that bleed them dry. A happy daydream in exchange for a life never sat right with you. And cutting this bastard down wouldn’t bring them back but it would stop anyone else from becoming a blood bag. 

You chose one of the three doorways you haven't explored yet and start walking. There's a gracefulness in the way your heavy boots hit the floor, a practiced silence, almost delicate as you avoid the occasional puddles of dirty water pooling in the warped wooden floors.  

This is what you do best. This is what you have to do best. You’ve done this alone, for years now, and silence is your best weapon as well as your only defense. Especially when you see a soft blue glow in the distance.

Your stomach lurches as you fight to bury the adrenalin rushing through you. Slow and steady wins this race.

It takes everything to keep the course instead of charging but charging gets you dead. You sneak closer to the open stairwell and the source of the light until your backs against the wall giving you a moment to steady your heartbeat.

But it is just a moment, and then you slide yourself around the corner and come face to face with it. Glowing blue eyes piercing through the darkness to call you out.

As you stare into those eyes, a rattled breath in your lungs, silence suddenly flies out the window.

Your hand never let's go of the knife. It's a learned skill. Even while throwing punches, even while taking punches, your grip is like an iron vice because if you drop that knife then everything is over. And finally, after fighting for minutes that feel like hours, you land a kick that sends the thing flying a few feet before it lands on its back.

And then you're standing over it, fighting its hands that desperately try to hold you away but you're forcing your body weight forward with that bloody knife inches from his heart.

You're so close. Any moment now and it'll be done, you'll be able to breathe again.

Until that other pair of hands appear from nowhere dragging you away. The second pair of blue eyes. 

One hand wrapped around your chin holding you steady against the wall, enough to bruise, fingers tightening against your throat to deprive you of further oxygen.

You don't let go of your knife. Not until his other hand, glowing blue, curls itself over your forehead like a mother feeling for a temperature.


You open your eyes and there’s a white door in front of you with ‘9B’ painted in block gold lettering. Before you can begin to fathom what’s happened it swings open and someone jumps at you, arms wrapped around your neck pulling you closer, and shampoo that smells like peaches and cream invading your nostrils.

"Y/N, you made it!"

Chapter Text

It might be the drinks you've been sipping for the past few hours or the fact that you haven't eaten much of the meal in front of you, but either way you wink at your little sister and mutter under your breath as the waiter walks away, "bounce a nickel off that thing, right?"

She wrinkles her nose at you but there's laughter in her eyes, "you're such a perv."

You both suddenly dissolve into fits of giggles, like you have since you were kids when forming an in-joke or planning a masterful prank. You have matching laugh lines around your eyes as you laugh, and it ends with you both falling back against the leather booth seats and waggling your eyebrows at each other. You're not sure there's a better sound in the world than you both laughing together like this.

Even though you've spent the last few days with your sister, while you visit her and her new apartment, it feels like it's been years. It feels like long enough that your heart aches for seeing her again and you want nothing more than to soak up every second. When you'd first seen her, you'd felt like something was off, but you'd ignored it just as quickly because she was there in front of you. Her eyes sparkling, her hair wet from the shower and her sweatpants as ragged and worn as they had always been.

Now you're sitting in this tiny restaurant days later and nothing had changed. You were still constantly struck by the need to greedily hoard every joke and memorize every expression. It was a weirdness she had been constantly calling you out on, but you had no explanation. You'd just stare at her all doe-eyed and tell her you'd missed her.

"So this guy…" you begin almost feigning indifference. Almost.

She rolls her shoulders like the question might roll off her back with enough effort, a habit of hers you'd forgotten, "I'm just not ready for you to meet him and give him the third degree is all."

You scoff into your glass, hiding a grin, "I am not that bad."

"Not that bad? Not that… you do remember what happened to Scott, the poor schlub who actually dared ask me to prom?" She eyes you suspiciously like you're planning a repeat performance.

You remembered well enough. You, being five years older than your dear sister, had shown up at school to pick her up the following day, found the boy in question, and then proceeded to give him a very detailed lecture that touched on feminism, respect, and your sisters right to choose her prom date. But that also included your right to choose where to bury him if she came home upset or assaulted in any way. What Sophie hadn’t understood at the time was you weren’t just her sister, you were as much her mother and father too. 

You held up your hands in mock defeat, "so I was… overprotective. I'm practically a different person now."

And the strange thing was you were different, but you couldn't explain why. All you knew is that there was an insufferable gnawing in the pit of your stomach, like an itch you couldn't quite reach. You were older and wiser, but your sister? She was just the same as she had been years ago. It should have been off-putting that she'd remained a snapshot of a personality frozen in time while you had changed with the years, except you refused to see it. Instead, you allowed yourself to be convinced her new charmed life was the same as growth. The job she always wanted, the decent sized apartment not far from work, and now the so-called perfect guy. Well, the perfect guy she wouldn't introduce you to.

You reached out your hand across the table, like so many other times this weekend, suddenly needing physical contact with her. You ran your thumb over her knuckles drawing her in for a serious moment, "but promise me, next time I'm in town? I swear I'll be nice, I just want you to be happy."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't worry. I can't keep him away from my best big sister for too long."

"I'm your only big sister," you reminded, acting offended by drawing your hand back and placing it over your chest.

She raised her glass to your mocking, "wouldn't have it any other way, sis."

After a little more teasing about her mystery man, asking if he was the one and making sure he was treating her right, you decided to call it quits on the evening since it could only last so long. There was no way you were going to finish the food in front of you. The thought of eating it and letting it bloat you any further made you feel sick to even consider it. Not when you could feel the alcohol in your system buzzing away and, along with your sister's presence, it all made you feel light enough to float away if no one held on to you. It was one of those perfect early summer evenings. Warm enough that you didn't need a jacket but not so humid that everything felt sticky. How you'd got this lucky to be spending an evening like this you didn't know and frankly, you didn't want to question it.

You lured over the waiter again with what you thought was a charming smile but likely looked ridiculous on account of the alcohol in your system. "Can we get the check please?" you hummed. 

"You're already paying for a hotel room instead of staying with me, at least let me buy you dinner!" She whined suddenly giving you a flashback to her as a child. All pigtails and high-pitched squeals.

"Nah uh, short stack." You teased as you waved your card at the returning waiter.

It was after signing the receipt when you stood up and reached for your bag, that you noticed the hazy quality of the street lamps you could see through the windows. They were almost blurry and not in the you've-had-too-much-to drink way. Like there was something wrong with them like they were made of the wrong stuff or…

"Move it, some of us have work tomorrow." Sophie bumped your shoulder with hers snapping you back from wherever your mind wandered to. It was just the glass distorting the light, you decided. Although you made a conscious effort not to look at the lights again when you got outside, instead slipping an arm into Sophie's and hurrying her in the direction of the waiting taxi. Like you didn't want to risk finding out something wasn't right about the evening.

In the back of the cab, you laughed a few more times and made rushed plans for the 4th of July before the car stopped outside of an impressive apartment building, "text me when you're home," you insisted as she slipped out onto the sidewalk.

She pulled a face at you as you rolled down the window, and grandly gestured behind her, "erm, it's right there."

You rolled your eyes, "you know what I mean. When you're home and the door is locked. You know, when you're inside your home dummy."

"You're such a weirdo."

"Your favorite weirdo. Love you!" You nodded to the driver that he could carry on to your destination.

"Yeah love you too. Text me when you're inside your LOCKED hotel room, freak!" she called after the car as it pulled away. 

Your lips stretched into a grin as you sunk back into yet another seat, comfier than any taxi you remember but then again this was the city, maybe things were just nicer here. You lived outside of a small town across the country so you probably couldn't compare expectations for public transportation.

The breeze from the window you'd left open whirled about you as the cab rounded corners and avenues. You couldn't help smiling to yourself, amused by the cool air whipping your hair around your face, as a child might be.

"Do you want me to close that?" the driver asked into his rear-view mirror, unable to see your face and gauge if it was bothering you.

"Nah, I'm good." And you were. Really good. Comfortable. Happy and—


Cold. Why were you so cold?

Why was everything so much darker than you remembered? Your arms were heavy above you and your wrists stung from keeping your body suspended above the floor. The toes of your boots barely able to reach the concrete below. And that's when it happened. The flood of realization that you weren't, in fact, sitting in a comfortable cab on a warm summer evening but you were surrounded by darkness and a world of monsters. Something sharp was buried in your neck and you could hear movement. The weight of stormy footsteps and muffled voices.

That's when they appeared. One of them, the offensively tall one, immediately started working on the ropes that bound you to the ceiling while the shorter one, although still taller than you, lifted your head with the crook of his finger to take note of your fluttering eyelids while he gently pulled the IV needle from your neck. They were all sharp jawlines and strong eyes the pair of them. Close enough to be the only things in focus among the blurry world that was still coming back to you.

"She's alive, must have snapped out of it when we killed the son of a bitch. We've gotta get her out of here." He commanded his friend.

Your throat felt like it was burning, like sandpaper against a stone, and you rubbed at your neck to try to ease the feeling once your arms swung free from the ceiling, "both of them?"

"What?" they snapped in unison, surprised that you were even speaking.

"You killed both of them?" you croaked again but you didn't need to wait for their answer because you could see it now. A flash in the darkness, two glowing blue eyes appeared from nowhere and began approaching the three of you bringing on waves of Déjà vu.  Flashes of the hunt, finding the place, the dead girls, and nearly killing one of them only to be caught in their trap.

But both the men in front of you were seemingly unaware of the approaching danger while they focused on your face.  

You were weaker than normal. Drained of not just your blood but a vast amount of your strength, still your reactions were no less impressive in the face of impending danger. You yanked the blood-soaked knife from the man who had cut you down and elbowed the guy in front of you before launching yourself forward with every possible ounce of energy you had left. A grunt echoed off the walls for your effort, the noise catapulting you forward as much as the adrenaline until you felt the satisfying contact. The Djinn's face frozen in shock as his meal turned into his demise.

The blade dug into his chest but burrowed deeper into his heart as you fell forward, the weight of your body landing on top of the parasite with your hands trapped between you, still wrapped around the handle of the knife. For a moment you didn't breathe. You were motionless enough laying on top of him that you might be dead. Watching his face closely with your own, waiting for any sign that you hadn't killed the bastard.

When you were finally satisfied you rolled sideways off of the now-dead Djinn and gasped for air or hope, anything. Reeling in the truth that nothing had been real. Not your well-adjusted sister with her hopes and dreams or your arguably boring life as a mildly popular newspaper columnist, hidden in a cabin away from the world. No. She was still as dead as she had been before the Djinn sent you off to wonderland and you were still living a lonely and dangerous life hunting the scum you didn't even want on the bottom of your shoe.

That’s when you realized you were shaking. You'd almost allowed it. You'd been so happy to stay there watching her grow up that you ignored every red flag. There had been no fight in you, nothing tethering you to this reality full of violence and hard decisions. And now you'd been dragged back here, forced to carry on living, knowing what you could have had back there. You don't need to say it out loud to know the truth, you'd have happily died there, just like those girls before you.

But there was no time for the tears that threatened to spill over your cheeks, there was never time. You felt two pairs of strong hands lift you up as gently as possible. Gripping you and barely touching you at the same time.

"So you're a hunter?" the shorter one asked.

All you managed to grumble before the blood rushing to your head made everything dark again was, "good guess Columbo." 

Chapter Text

The usual protocol, after making sure the bad guy is toast, would have been to drop you at the hospital and haul ass out of town. Except you're a hunter. And Dean thinks they kind of owe you for saving their lives. Even if they also saved yours. It's a two for one deal, which means they still owe you. 

Sam helps him load you, all bruised and bloody, into the back of the Impala as usual. But he doesn't even flinch when Dean skips the turning that heads to the hospital. That only confirms that Sam agrees with his decision.  

It's only an hour to the bunker anyway and it's not like you're awake to argue any different.


The first thing that assaults you when you open your eyes is a violently fluorescent light. It hums above you like it was put there specifically to distract you from knowing what time of day it is. Your eyes sting in contrast to the darkness of sleep, so you wince and fling an arm over your face. 

The Djinn must have been draining you for a few days at least from how utterly empty you feel. As if being emotionally drained wasn't enough. Then there's the little matter of the two guys who have either kidnapped you or taken you to the weirdest back-alley hospital you've ever seen. Your free hand roams your body, fingers tracing your jeans and t-shirt to confirm they're still there, and a small sigh of relief escapes your lips. At least neither of them decided to play dress-up while you were passed out.

You manage to, not without groaning, shimmy your way into sitting position with your back leaning against the headboard for support. The bed you're sitting on looks military issue and now that your eyes have adjusted you can see the whole room is pretty retro to boot. The décor only adds to the million questions in your head, a list that begins and ends with how to get out of here.

That's when you notice the glass of water beside you, and thoughts of escape fly out the window while you start swallowing excessive mouthfuls. You know you should slow down but it might be the best damn thing you've ever tasted.

"Knock knock," the offensively tall one stands in the doorway, which you are surprised he can fit in, with a smile and a redundant greeting, since he did actually knock.

You swallow the mouthful of water you’re hoarding, feeling it slide down in a single solid, uncomfortable mass before you can clear your throat to make sure it works, "hello mystery kidnapper number one."

He cracks another smile and the smallest of chuckles, apparently you are amusing, "how you feeling?"

You bite back the sarcastic quip you want to reply with since the giant seems pretty gentle and he did kind of save your life. Even though he and his buddy didn't bother to finish a sweep of the building before cutting you down.

"Oh you know, pretty much terrible." You answer honestly. "But I guess I should thank you and your… partner?" you trail off leaving his interpretation of the word open.

He scrunches his face for a second, "no, no, it's not- Dean's my brother."

Bingo, you didn't even need to mention the vibe before he got defensive.

"So, Dean and…?" you ask with an encouraging smile as you nod your head in his direction. 

"Sam. I'm Sam Winchester."

You know that name, of course, you do. The Winchesters are well-known hunter's. Not always for the right reasons. But if there were trashy gossip magazines about the hunter lifestyle you could be sure that these guys would be on the front cover with some dumb expression and a headline like 'Winchesters save the world, after nearly ending it, again.' Oh God, and those books. These guys have the notoriety of killer Kardashians.

You can't help the curl at the corner of your mouth as you speak. "Sam Winchester? As in, end-of-the-world Supernatural books Sam Winchester?"

A scowl scrunches his face as he finally steps into the room, instead of just standing at the door watching you.  

"You've read those?" he asks, not hopefully, before adding, "I think you're going to be on bed rest for a few days." He sits at the end of the bed with more sympathy in his voice, his eyes running over your injuries.

"Girl's gotta do something between hunts, plus once I found out Bobby was in them…" you trail off again but this time it's the sudden lump in your throat at the mention of another good hunter gone too soon. Bobby had helped you out of some sticky messes once upon a time, either with information or, more commonly, working the phones as he’d done for a lot of you. 

But Bobby isn't the only reason that the thought of those books makes you nervously tap your fingers against your denim-covered thigh.

Shaking your head to clear the ghosts you realize you’ve left an awkward gap in the conversation, "sorry. Yeah. I've read them. And don't worry, I'll get out of your hair. I don't want to overstay my welcome."

Sam leans over and puts a hand lightly on your shoulder, enough to stop you, sensing that you were about to try and get up. "Any friend of Bobby's." He says with a sad smile. "Besides we have more than enough space for our nameless abductee."

You force a smile to try and be appreciative even though you're not digging his assumptions that you need help. "Where are my manners? I'm Y/N Y/L/N. I admit not as famous as the Winchesters."

He laughs at this but reaches out his hand for you to shake, "nice to meet you Y/N." It’s while your arm is outstretched and your hand still in his that you see just how raw your wrists are. Purple blooms from the red, where the last remaining blood in your body had been squeezed tight between ropes holding you up.

"Yeah, nice to meet you, Sam. Seriously though I just need to get my car and I can get gone."

You can see the crease in his brow like he's curious why you're so gung-ho to get out of here, but it melts away into more of that damn friendly concern of his, "listen it's late. Let me get you some more water and at least sleep it off here tonight, we can talk about it in the morning."

Talk about it in the morning? You're not sure what there is to talk about, injuries or not you'll be out of here, and why is Sam so insistent for you to stay anyway? Regardless of your questions, you nod in thanks as he takes your now empty glass for a refill. Maybe it's just your stubborn inability to accept help that's holding you back from being more receptive to the idea. Or maybe what you saw in fantasyland is still bothering you and clouding your already questionable judgment. But when Sam returns minutes later you thank him for the water anyway and after downing half of it, you collapse back onto the bed.

It's not the pain in your wrists that stops you from sleeping peacefully though, it's the smell of that shampoo you know from memory. The smell of peaches that just won't leave you alone.


The light is the same when you wake up again in the Winchester hideaway making you wonder if it was some form of punishment, or simply a forgotten lightswitch. By now you at least have figured you must be underground. There's nowhere else you could imagine that would need such constant light and, come to think of it, no windows.

The little rest you got has thankfully abated some of the aches but unfortunately exacerbated some of the pains. While it's not such a burden to move your arms anymore the rope burn is curiously more varied tones of deep red this morning. You find attempting to do anything with your hands makes you hiss at first until you manage to swallow the feeling.  

On further inspection of the room you're in there's a mirror hanging on the small closet, so you warily take the opportunity to see what you look like which, as expected, is not good. There's always those hunts that you can never look great after but right now you're not far off the complexion of a ghost. Not just pale but there's a vaguely translucent look about your skin, you suppose that's on account of the missing blood your body is still replenishing. As you run your hands over your face, expecting to touch something more akin to tissue paper than skin, you again wonder how long you were feeding those two monsters before the boys found you.

There's a fine line between being grateful that they did find you and still wondering how long you'd have lived in your head if they hadn't. Would it have felt like longer than it actually was? Would you have got to see Sophie married, your nieces and nephews running about the place? Die peacefully in your cabin in the woods?

Years after her death you would usually have entire days where you’d wake up, live your life, and go to sleep without a thought of her. Because if you thought about her every day you might not stop and if you didn't stop you might not go on. Now thanks to the Djinn you couldn't get her out of your head again. As if she was standing at the edge of your peripheral vision, always around a corner or in the back of the room but gone when you turned around.

As best you can you run your fingers through your hair trying to make some semblance of an effort before exploring this place. You have no idea who is here, and you'd like to make a slightly better impression on the Winchesters than when they found you near death. Nobody wants to be remembered as the dying victim. 

Despite yourself, a fleeting moment of anxiety stops you taking your first step out of the room. On the rare occasions that you’ve stayed somewhere with other people, it's squatting in a house or sharing a couple of motel rooms, however, this place? It's like a maze and it’s overwhelming enough that you almost want to wait for one of the brothers to come and find you.

But then you remember that you're thirsty, in need of a bathroom and in quite a bit of pain, in no particular order. Waiting about is for people without problems. 

At first, all you see are rows of corridors with identical wooden doors, all of which look like too many to explore without some guidance. Really all you'd like to do is find a shower but when you open the door next to yours to find an identical bedroom you quickly give up and figure you'll just have to ask, once you find some other signs of life that is.

Then you smell it. A heavenly scent that awakens the ravenous beast in your stomach. Food, glorious food. Helpfully it also gives you some indication of the time since it smells like breakfast. You're not sure what it is but you don't really care. You let your nose lead you like a cartoon character who floats towards a cooling pie. You barely feel your feet on the floor and somehow don't get lost, food being the best GPS there is.

Then you’re walking into a pretty damn impressive library. It looks like something designed in 50's with its leather chairs and wooden filing cabinets set against red brick and white stone. And yet it's all kind of lived in. Weapons in random corners, upturned half-read books strewn across tables and a flannel shirt hanging from one of the chairs.

"Morning sleepy head!" the too loud voice rouses you from your curiosity and you turn to see who you now know to be Dean Winchester sauntering over with two mugs and a smile on his face. He holds one out towards you and you ignore the protest from your wrists to take it and deeply inhale the smell of fresh coffee. Like you're in a commercial or something.

You take a sip before you answer with a "morning Dean." It’s almost uncomfortable to say since you haven't technically been introduced. He doesn't seem to notice though, instead he flashes you a grin at your acceptance of the coffee he brought you. 

Clearly, he doesn't realize how close you are asking him exactly how many flannel shirts he owns otherwise, he might not be so happy. It’s a valid question though, on account of the one he's wearing and the shirt you've seen already this morning. Not including the different flannel, you remember him wearing when they found you. "Is that breakfast I smell?"

This elicits another smirk. Apparently, he deems your appetite a good thing. That or he has weirdly enthusiastic emotions about breakfast food. "Don't get too excited, Sammy is cooking so it'll be 'healthy'" he shudders adding air quotes using just his tone of voice.

"God forbid", you mumble with a cocked eyebrow. Thankfully your facial expressions have not been diminished. "So, I take it he introduced me unless you regularly find random women wandering around the place?"

Dean takes a seat at the emptiest table and you follow his lead, plopping yourself down opposite him, "Radom women? Not so much. But yeah, he did. Y/N right? Sam said you knew Bobby."

Ther’s a recognizable sadness that creases his brow at the mention of the man, your fingers twitch around the mug in your hands while you decide if this is a reach out and comfort him kind of moment.

Since you officially met him moments ago you decide it wasn't.

"Yeah, good man, did Sam also mention I've read those super enlightening Supernatural books?"

Dean scowled much like Sam had done the previous night, "If there's one thing you don't mention in fight club it's those books." He emphasized like he couldn't even say the name.

You couldn't help but smile at his reaction and wink as the caffeine encourages you to goad him, "they're not all bad Dean, you're full frontal in them."

You don't catch his raised eyebrows since Sam chooses that moment to announce himself with plates of eggs and toast. You greedily look away from Dean to the food placed in front of you with a wider smile, "thanks Sam you really didn't have to."

"Yeah, we did," Dean interrupts gruffly before Sam can answer, "that Djinn could have got both of us before we realized."

The pieces fall into place. The insistence on you staying to recover. They feel like they owe you. You can write it off now as returning the favor and you can leave, back on the road with some fierce rope burn and the story of that time you met the famous Winchesters. Except, as you're using a slice of toast to funnel eggs into your mouth, you can't help the curiosity that slips out.

"So, what is this place?" 

Chapter Text

You've been staring at the page so long now that your eyes keep slipping in and out of focus, making the words blur together and forcing you to start the same paragraph… you've forgotten how many times.

It's not that you don't love a good bit of research. Well actually, you don't. You tolerate research. You like the part where you find the answer, sure. Who doesn't? And you're damn good at research, you've done enough in your time to have a spotty understanding of at least three dead languages and a few more still in use. But there's always this slump. This dull middling bit where you'd rather cry than read one more word in Latin. Or whatever it is on the page in front of you.

The research isn't even the worst part though. You couldn't fathom why you were even still here. Everything had been so simple to start with.

You'd eaten your eggs and then been introduced to Kevin, who apparently isn't a morning person and you're definitely not supposed to make fun of his hair when he's woken up hung over. Then they'd given you a cliff notes explanation of the place.

Men of letters. Secret societies. Legacies.

The last part almost had you snorting hot coffee out your nose. Of course, if anyone was going to be legacies to some defunct secret society of monster hunters, who also happen to have a magic library and an everything-proof bunker, well, of course, it was going to be the damn Winchesters.

Despite your curiosity about the place you'd surged forward with the conversation, asking for a ride had been dangling at the tip of your tongue when Sam had thrown you that look.

God, now you understood why his hair was so long. If he cut it how would he look like an actual puppy dog when he does those eyes?

Honestly, the Winchesters were a pain. Not like a gunshot to the gut pain but maybe a mosquito bite. In the end, it's not actually the pain that gets to you, it's the itch that you mindlessly scratch and before you even realize the bite is angry and bloated from how you've been working away at it.

We're worried about you, he had said. You were in a really bad shape when we found you. Oh and the kicker, just rest here while we do this hunt, a few days tops.

You guess that's the literal explanation of how you ended up here, bored and trapped and doing research, but it didn't explain what actually changed your mind. You'd been hunting alone for years. You'd nearly died a few times by now. Injuries weren't an unexpected surprise. Being hurt and still carrying on with your job certainly wasn't new.

You told yourself that maybe you'd just needed a few days in some place safe instead of a motel room with a chair rammed under the door handle and two weapons under your pillow. There was definitely something to be said for sleeping in the bunker with your knife on the cabinet beside your bed rather than under your head. Certainly, more comfortable at least.

But you'd let Sam talk you into it, of all people. You'd secretly always imagined that if you ever met Sam he would be the last person you'd be inclined to listen too about anything. Not that everything was all his fault but there had been times, especially sitting in lonely diners reading their story in that damn book, when you'd resented him. Just a little. Yet here you were falling for his bloody likeability and innocent little expressions, like-

Well, honestly. Like you'd have fallen for Sophie's.

You sigh, all big and dramatic, and Kevin doesn't miss a beat, "if you tell me you're bored one more time I'm going to hit you over the head with- with that tablet." He points at the one closest to him to hammer home his point.

"Look can't we just accept that Dean is stuck this way now and move on with our lives? Take him for a walk every day and give him some treats, I'm sure it'll be fine." You're grinning into the book, so pleased with yourself. As quickly as you were doubting your decision you're grateful that you stayed. If only, so you didn't miss out on one of the funniest situations you've ever heard of.

You can feel Kevin looking at you with an annoyed glare. That morning when you'd woke up he'd been perfectly normal, a little grumpy but normal. He'd sat and eaten with you and told you his 101 guide to being a prophet. Tablets, headaches, and angels. But then a few hours of 'tablet time' this morning, before Dean went canine, and he's a moody mess. Like the light had gone from his eyes.

Now he sighs but it's less whiny than yours had been. "It doesn't matter anyway, I think I found the answer and-"

"Thank god!" You interrupt with the slam of your book.

"-and," he continues pointedly, "it looks like the side effects should wear off on their own once the spell does. He's just got to wait it out."

He dials Sam to give him the good news, although from the muffles you can hear it sounds like Dean takes it as just news, rather than good. 

You get an idea and suddenly you can't stop yourself. You open the heavy book in front of you to any random page and wave at Kevin like you've found something, mouthing to speak to Dean.

He's reluctant as he hands you the phone, but he gives it to you anyway. Apparently passing the problem (you) over to Dean gets you off his case, at least momentarily.

You squint at the page as you hear Dean come on the phone with an angry, "what?"

"Oh, nothing I just found something in this book I was reading, and I wanted to tell you while you were still on the line. Seemed important but if you don't want to know?"

He grumbles something, and you hear Sam muttering something to him in the background before he gives in. Although not happily. "Sorry. What have you got?"

You're smiling again so you learn further into the book in case Kevin is still watching, "well it says here that-that there's a squirrel outside you window!"

Normally you'd be the first to admit that this wasn't the best joke you'd ever come up with, it's not even top twenty. But you end up in fits of cackles anyway because instead of him telling you that you're not funny, which you totally would have expected, you hear him practically bark, "WHAT?! A SQUIRREL? WHERE!?" And then there's the scraping of boots in the background signifying that he's jumped up and run across the room.

You're not sure you can breathe at first, or if you ever will again. You’re so utterly and completely amused with yourself. You're still laughing when there's finally silence on the other end of the phone. He sounds angry without saying a word, just the sound of his breathing is infuriated and honestly, you're not sure if he's angry you're making fun of him or angry that there's not actually a squirrel. That distinction only makes it funnier for a little longer than necessary.

Finally, your sides start aching and you have to grip the arm of your chair as you take in some huge gulps of air.

"Ok, ok I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Somehow panting out the words along with the last giggles that leave your lips.

"Yeah, that's real funny Y/N. How would you like it if you suddenly had the urge to pee against every goddamn tree you see?"

You bite your lower lip to stop yourself cracking up again and instead you bring your voice down, just an octave, and speak soothingly into the phone like you might to a baby or, say a dog. "Oh, come on Dean. Don't be mad. Good boys don't get all grumpy like this. And only good boys get scratched behind the ear until their leg twitches."

The dial tone echoes in your ear leaving you with a pleased smirk as you slide the phone back to Kevin.  

"So, do they ever have a normal hunt where it's like, a bad guy they already know how to kill, and they just do it and leave town. Or is it always like, oh let's talk to dogs this week?"

"Honestly, I don't even know anymore." And before you can continue the conversation any further you look up to see he's already staring at the tablet again with a frown etched into his face.


As it turns out once they know Dean will be ok, eventually, they don’t call in much for the rest of the hunt. You’re not sure if that’s also because you made the puppy mad but either way you grow very bored, very quickly.

TV does nothing for you. You’re beyond done with sleeping. Plus, with the steady stream of painkillers you’ve been doping yourself up for the past few days, you start to actually feel better. So then the boredom is even more noticeable. 

Not that you can admit to Sam that his 'resting’ idea worked.

You didn’t do well with being bored, never had. And although you were usually on the road alone you never allowed yourself to have nothing to do. You always found something to distract you or entertain yourself with. Except here in the bunker, you were trapped and climbing the walls.

“Come on Kevin, play with me,” you whined while you continuously drummed your hands on the table in front of him.

He has that look again. The look of annoyance mingled with, more annoyance? Whatever it was he wasn’t impressed. But you carried on in the desperate hope of having something to do.

“Come on you have been working so hard, you deserve a break, and I have three hours until I can take some more pain pills. Let’s do something fun. You do remember what fun is right?”

“Yes, I remember what fun is.” You can hear the frustration in his voice, but he looks at you again with a slightly softened look, maybe you’re getting through to him.

You sink your teeth into your lower lip to stop yourself smiling too big in case that changes his mind. “There he is. I knew underneath this prophet stuff you were the fun one. Come on I’ll do whatever you want. We can build a freaking tree house if you want. I don’t care.”

Kevin puts down his tablet and drums his fingers together like a supervillain and for a split second, you regret everything. 


You and Kevin discovered something about each other that afternoon. You were both incredibly competitive.

He hadn't been overly excited to step away from his tablet at first but then you'd broken out a pack of cards and started playing a myriad of games. Every time one of you won the other would be, very visibly but silently incensed. You had a habit of pouting, the most adult of responses to losing and Kevin? Kevin got this weird little twitch where his right eyelid would shake like he was about to implode.

But the competition fuelled you both to keep playing until he's gone to some random storage cupboard and come back, his arms laden with board games from the 50's with a raised eyebrow.

You won Monopoly and he was a fool to think it was going to go otherwise. Only an idiot buys Boardwalk. He won Chutes and Ladders, three times. And you'd grumbled about it just being luck, but he kept saying he was, "thrice lucky." He also won the Game of Life because you wasted your time going to college. Although no one could beat you in Risk, you'd patted his shoulder sympathetically when he lost and told him as much.

Before you knew it hours had passed by and the tension lines on Kevin's forehead had melted away, in fact, he looked like a normal kid rather than a prophet of the lord.

If only you both hadn't been so damn competitive.

Because you'd played everything, some things twice in a row, and you'd both eaten nothing but junk food and beer so now you're riding some crazy alcohol sugar high. That's the only excuse for how quickly everything becomes a bit, weird.

You don't even hear the bunker door open. Or the dull footsteps on the stairs or the duffel bags being dropped to the floor. How could you? You were running full pelt in any direction you could while Kevin counted loudly enough from the war room that the numbers followed you as you went.

Suddenly he stops, and you hear his friendly warning, "when I find you I'm going to stuff so many sleeping pills down your throat that you'll be out for a week!"

You think you're far enough away to risk replying with, "you've got to find me first, loser."

Your voice bounces off the walls as you slip inside the first door you see without daring to turn the lights on. Once your eyes adjust to the darkness inside you notice it's a storage room with high metal stacks filled with boxes of files and paperwork. You don't have time to roll your eyes at the endless supply of information the place has because your ear is pressed against the wood of the door listening for Kevin.

Nothing. You wonder if it's a trick of the bunker, swallowing Kevin's footsteps to allow him the ultimate of surprises but there's really nothing. You grin to yourself thinking that this is it, your final victory. 

You're so focused on waiting to be found that it takes a second to hear the other voice.

It's muffled and tough to hear like it's coming from in the walls, but it's definitely there. It's low and almost hopeless and it's- singing?

You take a step further into the room and it's an iota louder. Another step and you can just about hear the out of tune song pouring from the back wall of the closet.

"I'm Henry the Eighth, I am. Henry the Eighth I am, I am."

Your blood runs cold with realization. You'd know that voice anywhere. You've been running from it for years. You still remember the last time you heard it. The things it promised to do to you. The ways it would make you would suffer.

Thoughts of Kevin and the game vanish from your mind as you jump back, apparently making enough noise as your back hits the door for him to realize he's not alone and stop warbling.

"Kevin? Have you come back to play some more? It's been so dull without you." It's like boots against gravel. Low and rumbly and so British that you hate the whole stinking Island for a moment.

You reach for the light switch expecting to see his face but of course, you're alone. Just rows and rows of boxes. That is until you start to inspect the source of the noise, seeing the seams of the back wall that doesn't seem to be a wall at all.

After a minute you find the latch and pull it forward. The wall splits into two heaving doors that swing forward and out to the sides revealing a whole new room hidden behind dusty paperwork.

There's a moment where both of you adjust to what you're seeing. Your chest heaves as your heart feels like it's trying to escape your chest. Your body is so unable to decide between fight or flight that you remain frozen in the doorway, arms still spread between the two fake walls you just opened.

He reacts much quicker, a second of realization before he opens his filthy mouth again, this time not to sing a song. "Y/N Y/L/N. Well, aren't you a sight for sore eyes? Miss me, love?"

Chapter Text

It's actually fucking Crowley.

It's Crowley looking pathetic. Chained up with blood oozing down his face, over his hands, but he's still looking at you with that shit eating grin. The one that snaps you out of your stupor with the shiver of repulsion that shoots up your spine.

He doesn't wait for you to catch up, "well love, don't tell me the boys lured you into their after-school special?"

"No, I- They just- Actually I don't need to tell you a damn thing, do I?", you ask rhetorically trying to sound like anything except the scared little girl you feel like.

"They've got that way about them, haven't they? Hard to resist them when they’re the right amounts of pretty and surly, with none of the burden of brains." He's almost wistful as he feigns a faraway look for a moment. "Oh, go on, just between us girls, which one's taken your fancy? Moose or squirrel?"

You know he's trying to provoke you but strangely the longer you stand there the less frightened you feel. You even brave a few steps into the room as you flash a glance at the multitude of devils traps he's prey to.

Finally, you feel a smirk spread across your face. Victorious for finding him like this even if it wasn't your own doing. "Don't know what you're talking about Crowley, you're the one they have locked up in their... is sex dungeon the right definition?" You ask as you place a finger on your chin thoughtfully.

Apparently, the bite to your tone is what he's been looking for because his grin widens again, just as smarmy as ever.

"Y/N, Y/N, Y/N." He shakes his head like a parent who's not angry, just disappointed. "Take a word of advice, the Winchesters will cause you nothing but heartache love. More that sister of yours did."

A low growl rumbles from between your teeth as you close the gap between you both, bracing your arms on the table he sits at so calmly. "You don't get to speak about her. You don't even get to think about her. And while we're on the subject I'm not your love. Now, this isn't about the boys, or anyone else. This is about you and me." You spit the words at him with as much venom as there is in your veins although the anger is muddied with shame. At how quickly, easily, you allowed him to snap your patience.

"Well there's that spitfire I know and love," he emphasizes the word to your chagrin. "But you're right darling, let's talk about us. How long has it been? Six, seven years is it?"

Surprising even yourself you take a step back and bark out a laugh, hoping you can antagonize him as much as he is you, "it's been four since I saw you in this body anyway. But you're not still mad about Ogden, are you?" There's a jab of superiority in the way it rolls off your tongue.

He shrugs apparently nonchalant, "I've been alive centuries love, held longer grudges for a lot less. But you know as well as I do that this," he lazily lifts one finger and wags it between you both, "is personal darling."

You could bet he had held pettier grudges for longer, you wonder how many years more you'd have to run for him to forget. If he ever would.

The thought made you momentarily hopeless, you were so tired of running. "So, now what? What do you want from me?"  

The pause felt endless and vast. Expansive. It felt like enough that maybe he was genuinely considering the question. Maybe Crowley was tired of the game too.

"You know at first, even after all those months, I still didn't know whether to kill you or kiss you. What you did was a bloody work of art Y/N and you'd done it all without training. Imagine what I could do with you in a few centuries, decades even. But things are a little different now. Perhaps it's time I came clean?"

As you turned back to face him, from how you'd been pacing the room, you expected to see him with that faraway look again. Talking away to himself more than he was to you. He always did love the sound of his own voice.

However, what you actually see is his eyes boring into you from behind his casual façade. He's waiting, measured and patient to see your face when he opens his mouth again.

"You should ask Dean about hell. Admittedly he was only down there for four months but I'm sure he can imagine what seven years might do to someone. Oh sorry, my mistake, it's seven years next month, right?"

In an instant, you can taste the bile that coats your tongue where your stomach is trying to crawl its way out of your throat. Your face flushes red, anger visible in red splotches splayed across your cheeks. And your vision is watery. Blurred with tears that you can't seem to blink away, tears that you know are going to fall without your consent.

It can't be true., it just can’t. But the way you whisper in reply, the way your voice quivers, it's impossible to hide the doubt that seems to cling to every inch of your skin.

"You lying bastard. And if you're not lying, I'll kill you myself."

His lips twist into a genuine smile this time and he tosses you a slow, admonishing wink, "not if I kill you first, love."

 


 

When you make it back to the library, tears leaving glistening tracks down your cheeks, you see them all standing around looking so goddamn happy.

Kevin's cheeks are glowing from embarrassment but he's smiling as he tells them about your afternoon. Sam is laughing while Dean shakes his head with a hidden grin plastered on his face.

You're so glad you could trudge in and ruin this lovely moment for them.

"You're keeping the fucking king of hell, A FUCKING DEMON, locked up here?! DIDN'T THINK TO MENTION THAT BEFORE!?"

What starts as a threatening whisper becomes a scream. Echoing around the room, reverberating from brick to brick, as they all turn in slow motion to look at you, with varying looks of shock on their ridiculous faces.

Kevin looks terrified. It might be the sight of you, red-faced and crying, or the mention of Crowley, you'll never know. Sam's eyes bulge ridiculously before he opens his mouth like a guppy. And Dean? Well, Dean has the audacity to look confused more than anything.

"You spoke to him?" is the question that the latter chooses to go with.

You have you inhale deeply through your nose before you answer, otherwise, you might take your anger out on him instead of the demon who deserves it. You'd come out here intending to ask for a reason why you shouldn't kill Crowley, the big important reason they were keeping him like a pet instead of snuffing him out, but anger is blinding you now. It’s all you can manage to not lash out. 

"I don't think that really matters," you stutter over the air as it burns inside your empty chest. "I don't think any of it matters anymore. I-I need to go. So, you know what? It's been fun, a real dream. Thanks for the memories and all that."

You don't hang around for excuses or reactions. There's no point since it'll change nothing.  You're up the stairs and opening the bunker door, feeling fresh air hit your wet face, before there's any trace of sound behind you.

When someone does catch up it's not who you expect. It's not Kevin who you've spent the last few days with. It's not Sam who convinced you to stay in the first place.

It's two large hands that hold your shoulders in place as the second wave of nausea hits, making you wobble on your feet. It's a face you can't even see through the tears in your eyes. You can't remember that last time you felt anything so intensely, and luckily for you, it's a cocktail of fear, anger, and guilt that you're sipping on like a martini.  

He ducks his head looking for you behind the veil of emotion and somehow, he finds you. His green eyes locking onto yours and asking with no emotion of his own, "wanna talk about it?"

You almost say yes. God, you want to scream out. You want to unload everything, let it fall from your mouth at a million miles an hour and hope that speaking it out loud will lighten the load on your heart. But you shake your head instead. Scared that if you even part your lips to say 'no' the whole sorry story will tumble out on its own. And you can't do that to him, the famous Winchester you've known for less than a week. In fact, you can't do that to anyone. This is your and yours alone to bear.

He nods at you, understanding, and you think for a second, he's going to pull you into his arms and wrap you up. You're loath to admit how much you need it. To be held and physically comforted. To let yourself have a moment of pathetic weakness before the challenge ahead of you.

Except he doesn't, and he doesn't let on if he noticed you start to lean into his chest, instead just he tells you to, "get in the car."

You step backward as his arms fall, somehow steadying yourself on nothing at all as he dives into his jeans for his keys. Immediately you ride your emotional rollercoaster in the other direction, trying to escape him, finally finding your voice. "It's ok, I'll walk into town and hitch a ride from there."

"Don't be stupid sweetheart. Get in the goddamn car."

There's not really any arguing with him. He's already climbing in the driver's side when you manage to close your mouth, more protests dying on your lips.

Dumbfounded and, for once, obedient you follow.

You walk to the passenger's side and slide. Your forehead presses against the window as you look out at nothing in particular, waiting for your breathing to slow down. The rumble of the engine, the only sound between you, helpfully reminds you that you're leaving. That you're getting away from the demon on your ass. Not your troubles, but Crowley at least.

The sky slowly fades as Dean drives so fast you might be flying. The blue is stretching into hazy oranges and reds. It's nice to concentrate on that for a while and not everything else. Just to look at the little things. When the trees on the side of the road get further apart until there's none at all. The occasional bird or sometimes another car heading in the opposite direction.  

Eventually, you start to feel like you again, enough to rub your sleeves against your swollen eyes and you steal a glance at Dean. He looks entirely comfortable with one hand on the wheel. There's not an ounce of tension in his body as he concentrates on the road like he was born to sit in that seat. You realize the only other time you've been in this car you were passed out so there's something nice about experiencing it now, you figure for the last time. It's nice. Worn in like an old pair of jeans. And while you wouldn't give up the conveniences and comforts of your five-year-old pick up there was something about the Impala that you couldn’t quite put your finger on. It felt like that hug you'd been craving.

"I'm sorry about…" you begin, not sure where to take the sentence but feeling the need to say something. What part this were you sorry about? Screaming at them?

His eyes flick from the road to you. There's a flash of relief and you realise he'd probably been waiting for you to stop crying.

"Don't worry about it. It's kind of a situation with Crowley. I don't like it but we're trying to get information."

It doesn't feel like enough of a reason for you but it's none of your business either. They had no idea of your history with him and even if they did they still wouldn't have owed you a damn thing.

"Still. You guys helped me out and I went 50 shades of crazy. So, yeah, I'm sorry. I know it's a big ask but think you can tell Sam I'm sorry too?"

"Sure," he answers, letting his eyes look at you once more before returning to the road ahead.

You curl in on yourself a little bit more but there's a something inside you of that feels better. A tiny piece of the puzzle you're carrying around is fixed. If this is how you part ways with him, both the Winchesters, at least you can do it without too much remorse.

That's when you see it. The building where this had begun almost a week ago. The one you'd carefully scoped out and tracked the Djinn to, and nearly died in. The sky is peppered with darkness by now, transitioning from dusk to night and the building looks like any other. There's no sense of foreboding when you look at it. No purpose that makes you want to slip inside and find a monster.

Now that you know they're dead it's just another abandoned building sitting at the edge of another town.

Dean makes a non-committal noise as he acknowledges the place and you point to a dirt track just beyond it, "I'm parked around the back there."

What you're not prepared for is the sound of horror that comes out of his mouth then he parks, "what is that?"

"That’s my ride genius."

"It's so red," is the only answer he gives. Although you feel like it's not the color that he actually has a problem with.

You're sliding out of the Impala now, a small smile on your face despite yourself, "yes, so much easier to hide the blood when things get messy. And it has heated seats."

He's scowling, actually scowling and you find yourself offended, "I will not accept that look from a man with a cassette player in his car."

You hear him grumble about Baby being a classic, but you don't really pay attention as you automatically climb into the driver's side of your own car. Home envelops you like a blanket. It doesn't have to be a classic family heirloom of a car to be special, not to you. This might have been made in this decade but you'd spent more time here than any motel room, you felt safe here, safe and free.

Your eyes wander over everything you've missed. Your phone sitting dead in its dock. The bag in the back seat, clothes peeking out and half rummaged through. Your sunglasses stuffed into the cupholder. 

It's somehow a perfect moment. You allow yourself to forget, for this one minute, everything that happened in the last ninety.

You weren’t aware you’d closed your eyes to soak it all up but when you opened them again Dean is still standing there leaning against the hood of the Impala waiting. Seems he's not leaving without a goodbye.

"You've not known true joy until you're freezing from hunting a Wendigo all night and then this baby warms you up via your butt." You jump back down to earth patting your hand against the red hood as you make your way back to him.

He full on grimaces this time, "I'm good thanks."

A few feet away from him you stop and stare at the ground, watching your right foot making circles in the loose dirt. "So, I guess this is it?" You're not sure what there's left to say. You've apologized and said thank you enough for a lifetime.

"You wish."

You look up this time to see him with a cocky grin adorning his face as he grabs something out of his pocket. When it's in your hand you recognize it as a fake FBI business card, the same kind Bobby used to hand out like candy. Hell, maybe it is one of Bobby's. Except Dean has crossed out the number and hastily written a new one in. You assume his latest cell. 

"You need anything you call. Maybe just check in once in a while so we know you're still alive."

You swallow thickly wondering why the simple act of a phone number, his phone number, is making you run equal parts cold and warm. But you push that down for another day, or never, as you look back at him with a raised eyebrow and a playful pout.

"And why do I need to check in with you Dean? Because I'm a woman? Because women need to be kept an eye on? Or for the sake of equality will you be checking in with me as well?" You pat him patronizingly on the shoulder and narrow your eyes, "you know, so I know you and Sam are alive."

He holds his hands up defensively but you can see in his eyes that he’s in on the joke.

"Ok, ok. Deal." 

Chapter Text

Cold Oak, South Dakota. October 2007

Six months you'd been looking. Six grueling months with not a word, not a peep. You haven't hunted, barely slept more than thirty minutes at a time, only when your body absolutely refuses to drive another mile or take another step. Surviving on a diet of whatever is nearest the register when you fill up the gas.

But now you have a tip. If you could call it that. You hoped, beyond all doubt that it was, in fact, a cruel lie. The taunting of a demon bastard before he'd been sent back to hell. They're all such stellar liars you remind yourself that it can't be true. You just had to look harder.

You'd driven here anyway, white-knuckled.

Sixteen hours from Kentucky and you'd shaved three hours off of that with your foot down. Only pulling over twice to close your eyes before opening them just as quick. The demon's face was all you'd seen in sleep, his thin lips stretching over his teeth as they formed the words over and over again.

Your sweet little sister is lying in a ditch at Cold Oak.

You knew the lore about Cold Oak obviously. A lot of hunters did. The most haunted town in, well, anywhere. You almost smiled thinking about it remembering when Alex told you the story. He always whispered stories to you when neither of you could sleep, or when you were on a particularly long trip. As if he knew that he needed to pass it all on. As if he knew he knew that you'd outlive him. 

What you wouldn't give to have him with you now soothing your soul in that effortless way of his, without you even knowing.

Seeing the town felt more real than any muttered ghost story. Even from a distance, it looked like a place so steeped in darkness that you'd be surprised if it ever saw the sun. You could've sworn it wasn't this cold yet either, but you were still deathly chilled as you opened the car door. When your feet finally landed on the ground every hair on your body spiked. This was more than a story, this was the stuff of nightmares, hunter or not.

You only walked as far as the bell that sat in the empty town square. Even in the middle of the afternoon, you weren't sure what might try to come at you and you had no desire to stay longer than you needed to. Being here, ghost central, even the iron crowbar in your hands felt flimsy but you'd nodded to yourself as you begin to backtrack. A small slip of satisfaction. This town may have been haunted but there were no signs of this so-called ditch.

But of course, there wasn't. The ditch, if it existed, wouldn't be in the middle of town. 

So as dusk started to settle you wandered the fields set against the surrounding forest, the last vestiges of land between the town and trees. It didn't take long to find it. After all, a ditch is more than just a ditch when it's filled with dead bodies.

You've seen dead bodies before obviously but this? This is something else entirely. Bodies piled high like cast aside rag dolls. The smell assaults your nose. The sight is burned into your retinas, yet you cannot look away.

Some are twisted and broken beyond all recognition. Some have no fatal wounds on them at all and you might not think they were dead if they weren't already decomposing. You're surprised none are missing limbs, but you suppose even wild animals can sense the evil of this place.

Regardless of how they appeared to die they all have one thing in common, all of them were left here without a care. Every single one of them deserved better. For a few minutes, you don't know what to do but stare and mourn and curse the bastard responsible.

That goddamn yellow-eyed bastard.

You don't know what causes you to do it. It's not just to find her if she's in there, something deep in your gut drives you forward with a greater purpose. Unlike the monsters who did this, you are going to show these poor souls some fucking respect. 

You figure clinging to your humanity might be how you get through this. 

It's a quick trip back to your car for long industrial gloves you keep as part of your kit before you climb into the hole. It's more horrifying than you could have imagined, even while staring and looking at it. You search each one for a wallet or ID. Anything any of them might have on them. Anything that can help you find out who is being put to rest. 

It's backbreaking and after minutes you already have a thin film of sweat coating your skin. You work carefully of the distended dead, some already deep in the liquid stages of decomposing. But you grit your teeth and do it. Because nobody else will.

Eventually, you can't feel your jaw anymore for holding your flashlight between your teeth, so you make a temporary strap with your belt to attach it to your shoulder, using it and the moonlight to keep working. Every single body you move is checked, counted, salted and laid down with as much dignity as you can physically muster. You're turning what was a pile of castaways into neat rows of bodies, you figure it's the least they goddamn deserve.

A few hours in and you can't even smell the decay anymore even though it must be sticking to you like glue. The cold of the night is incapable of cutting through heat you’re radiating, due to the physical labor.  

It must be after midnight when you see it… her.

You're over halfway through your work when an arm tumbles out of the pile with a familiar watch attached. You bought it for her when she got accepted to Sarah Lawrence, her first choice for college. For you, time stands as still as the hands of that watch.

She'd thought she wouldn't get in, she'd worried and whined for weeks. So, when she did, like you'd assured her over and over that she would, you bought her the watch. It was the most expensive thing she owned but worth every penny because you were so damn proud of her that your chest nearly burst when she'd called you with the news.

As trembling, glove-covered fingers reach out and graze the gold strap you remember how whenever you'd ask her the time she'd respond with, "the fancy time is…" Somehow your lip curls at the memory even though your heart feels like it's drummed its last beat.  

The watch stopped at exactly 5:36 and there's a crack running through the glass of the face. You don't know how long ago but suddenly you know this small tidbit of information. The shining light that was your sister was snuffed out at 5:36. And like that you forget yourself, you forget your self-assigned task and the fact that you're standing in a ditch of the dead in the middle of the night. You push aside the body half covering her to look into her cloudy, lifeless eyes. They're still open, staring blankly into nothing. Not at you or the sky or anything. Your vision finally blurs as hot tears roll over your cheeks. They come silently and fast, mingling with the sweat that’s slicked on your skin as you hold your sister to your chest. No thought spared for the state of her, rigid and frozen in your arms.

There's no amount of time that you kneel there. Time is nothing anymore. You just stay there, stroking her cheek, her messy hair, running a finger over her rosebud lips like she might swat your hand away. You cry until you physically run out of tears. Until your own lips are chapped and dry from whispering rushed secrets and lengthy apologies. You're a hunter. You kill ghosts and ghouls and demons. You should have told her. Maybe she would have been better prepared for a world that did this to her. Maybe she'd be alive. You're so endlessly sorry.

But sorry isn't enough.

You carry your sister out of the open grave and lay her gingerly on the flat earth next to the pile of ID's you've collected so far. You close your eyes and press a kiss to her forehead, ignoring the feel of her mottled skin and instead remembering the last time you kissed her, while she was warm and golden and alive.

She was twenty-two years old. She'd barely taken her first steps into the world. 

You pick up the pace with the rest of the bodies, suddenly wanting to be done and out of this place forever. You don't bother to wipe your face or slow down when your muscles cry out in fatigue. When you've finished you sprinkle more salt, then lighter fluid, and then you light a match. One match for 137 bodies. Not that you watch them all burn. As soon as the fire is lit, and the job is done you collapse on the ground next to your sister. Gloves peeled off, torch ripped from your shoulder.

Just the moonlight and the dying fire illuminating your matching heart-shaped faces.

You sit with her until long after the fire dies down and the sun begins to rise.

Hours and hours. Like there might be something you'll forget if you rush. You tell her about Alex, the man she'd met as your friend, but you knew as your hunting partner. You tell her everything he taught you. That first case where he saved you and you, as stubborn as you were, refused to let him leave. Insisted he took you with him once you knew about the things that go bump in the night. You tell her about how he died and how you’d been there and again sorry falls from your lips for not being here for her. You talked until your throat protested and then some. Leaving no stone unturned, no story untold. Everything laid bare to the person who was, while living, your slice of normality, and would be, in death, the keeper of all your secrets.

You kissed her one more time before you started digging her grave, your lips whispering how proud you are of her. Telling her that she will always be loved. Never forgotten. 

Your shoulders protest as you dig but you're determined she will have a resting place all her own. It's harder than you thought it would be to put her in the hole. Tough to know you'll leave her in this dirt grave you've carved out for her. Your fingers are stiff as you liberally pour salt and lighter fluid over your baby sister.

But you will not allow her to become another twisted spirit in this godawful place. None of them will be.

Your nails cut into your own palms, enough to draw blood, as you watch the fire lick at her skin. She was too young. She was the best person you'd ever known. She was your anchor to your life before all of this. Before you were the sort of person that carried salt and guns and shoved knives into hearts on a regular basis. 

You could go crazy blaming yourself and Lord knows you'll spend the rest of your life, however long it is, carrying this burden. But with each shovel of earth that you pack on top of her ashes, you feel those aches in your muscles tighten. After watching two fires incinerating the innocent the only one left now is the burning fury in your gut. 

You want to rip and shred and burn your way through anything you can. You want to cause the kind of devastation that had been so carelessly bestowed upon 137 families, and you. The lone survivor of yours. 

And you know just where to look for justice because you've been surrounded by the smell all night. Amongst the death that taints the air is the answer, sulfur. The bitter perfume tainting the place like it’s imprinted on every blade of grass. 

You will get their justice. You will get your explanation.  

But while you stand at the foot of her grave with your fingers wrapped around the gold watch in your pocket the unavoidable truth crushes you. 

You won’t get your sister back. 

Chapter Text

"I need you to do me two favors," Crowley says reaching into his inside pocket. "First can you find this car for me?"

She picks up the scrap of paper Dean had scrawled his plate number on and smiles, "easy peasy." Then she's typing away, which utterly bores him, so he uses the lull to mention her loyalty. Her voice jumps higher and there's a twitch in her shoulders.

He knows exactly what's going on as he leans forward to ask, "that is of course if you're not playing both sides?"

She turns back and forces a smile on her face that borders on adoration for her king. And pride that she might be thinking as tactically as he is.

"Wouldn't you?"

He sits back again and smirks to himself. He doesn't want to answer and stroke her ego sitting in handcuffs.

"Now what about this other favor?"

He pauses for a moment, carefully choosing his next words. He'd thought about this on the ride over, obviously, and he was certain the room was warded so that little pimp Cas couldn't listen in. But the metal hanging from his wrists reminded him to not take any chances with the hardy boys being involved.  

"I need you to pass on a message for me. Tell my very dearest friends that I've seen the proverbial X on my favorite treasure map, and that she's been in contact with the Winchesters. I'd be very grateful if someone took care of it until I get these off, at least."

 

 


 

Two Months Later

His hands were surprisingly feather light across your back. You expected his usual bruising speed but instead, he was slow and mindful.

As light as his touch was you still hissed as he reached the base of the wound, the tips of his fingers brushing a particularly delicate spot. You were used to the sharp jab of his needle at this point but where his hands lingered now was already bruising.

"Keep still and maybe it wouldn't hurt."

You held an annoyed frown on your face even though he couldn't see it. He was helping you out after all. You tapped the cold table you were sitting on, "shut up. I bet I'm not as fussy as the dogs that normally sit here."

His laugh seems to travel along the length of the cut as finally ties the stitch off, "no, I just knock them out first."

You stretch your arms once you feel him back off, "maybe I'll let you knock me out next time if you buy me dinner first."

"I'll buy you dinner Saturday if you don't bust your stitches, deal?"

He starts carefully wrapping gauze around your abdomen to cover the cut that runs down the right side of your back and you sigh feigning an apology, "no dice buddy, I'm headed back East first thing in the morning."

This time he frowns but since you're still facing forward you miss it completely, "any chance you'll tell me where you're going this time?"

His nimble fingers finally finish wrapping you up and you hop off the table immediately, thankful to get off of the hard, unforgiving metal that was making your thighs numb, "if I did I'd have to kill you. But you have my word that I'll find some other nice, dashing vet to cut these bad boys out of me properly. Wouldn't want to make a mess of your superb handiwork."

He peels his gloves off and discards them before swiftly moving around the table, running the back of one of his hands down your cheek, "don't be mean or I'll have to give you a cone of shame."

You look up at him with a smile, rising up onto the balls of your feet to meet his face. Your lips hover dangerously close to his, close enough that you can feel his breath ghost over your mouth. Instead of pressing a kiss to him though you just whisper, "I'm always mean."

He groans in agreement as you lean back teasing him before he bends down to your level and takes the kiss instead. It's deep and needy but over quickly as you spread your hands flat against his chest. Not pushing but still stopping him, "not tonight. I'm an injured woman. Next time I'm in town though?"

Harry's a nice guy. Nice enough that he doesn't point out the fact that injuries have never stopped you before. He's also learned not to ask about where you got your injuries in the first place. And though he does still ask about what you do or where you're going sometimes he's never really mad that you don’t answer. You used to feel bad about coming into town like this and using him for medical assistance and sex, but he's never protested. Not even that time you were passing through a few years ago and saw him out on a date with some pretty redhead. He still smiled same as ever when you'd knocked on his door the next night, he could have turned you away, but he hadn't.

You'd never seen the redhead with him again though.

No, you'd stopped feeling bad about Harry a long time ago. He was a big boy and it wasn't like you were forcing him into anything he didn't show a sufficiently large amount of enthusiasm for.

Besides you had plenty of other things to punish yourself over.

He brought you out of your own head with another kiss, gentler but longer. Like he was just trying to savor what you tasted like before you left again.

You smiled when you finally pulled back, flashing him a wink and slipping two fingers into the back pocket of your jeans for the stack of bills you'd put there earlier. Before he could protest your face turned stern, "you know I always pay my medical bills."

It was later while you were sat drinking in the nearby bar, trying to imbibe enough alcohol so that you wouldn't need pain medication when your phone beeped.

You ever met the ghostfacers?

You've had enough to drink at this point that you shake your head first, and then remember you have to type back to engage in the conversation.

No Spengler, should I have?

You don't bother to lock your phone, instead opting to put it down in front of you while you tip your head back to enjoy the last mouthful of drink number six? Maybe it was seven? Either way, you signaled to the bartender for another when you saw a reply come in.

Nah, just wondering. And I'm clearly Venkman. You can be Tully.

You wrinkle your nose and then take a glimpse at yourself in the mirror behind the bar. You could admit you currently had the vague look of a typical drunk girl but still. Screw him.

Are you saying I'm not hot enough to be 80's style, Sigourney Weaver?

Regardless of what that dummy thought you knew you could pull it off and his validation was not required. To prove that you slipped your phone in your back pocket and ignored it when it beeped again.

This had been going on since you’d left all those months ago. You and Dean had developed this easy text friendship except you spoke about nothing of real importance. In fact, that rule is what the relationship was built on. You'd text each other dumb shit, like arguing about if Dr. Sexy should still be on TV (you say it should never have been on in the first place) or why pizza was superior to burgers (he says you're insane) but you never discuss the heavy subject matter. You both seemed to figure out early on that if you were still texting then you were still alive so that fulfilled the terms of your makeshift contract. The furthest you'd ever got to real life is firing off a quick 4am text like Salt and Burn done. Still alive.

But you never told him you were trying to find out if your little sister was rotting away in hell, even though he could probably help you out. And you never mentioned when you had to visit your Harry or a backstreet 'doctor' to get something stitched up. You didn’t even ask for help from his magic library on tough cases. You were pretty sure there was stuff he wasn't telling you either, so you figured it evened out. He was a Winchester after all, there was always something going on in his life.

You finish the new drink in front of you quickly and as you swallow the last mouthful you realize you’ve finally drunk enough to cross that line into tired-drunk. It was exactly what you were shooting for. You’d treated yourself to a motel room tonight and it would be a shame not to use it. The alcohol sloshing in your stomach made you forget the stitched cut down your back and promised you peaceful sleep. 

After settling up your tab you made a quick exit into the cool air, letting it sober you a little as goose bumps sprung up on every piece of skin the night could reach. You didn't bother rubbing them away, it was only a few minutes to your borrowed bed and the temperature was refreshing after the sticky heat of the bar. Instead of worrying about the cold you pulled your phone out again, finally reading his reply.

Course you are just didn't want to assume that just because you're a woman you'd want to be typecast as Sigourney.

You can practically see his self-satisfied smirk as you read it. Your cheeks flush as you climb the motel stairs and you write it off as the alcohol while you type a quick reply.

I taught you well grasshopper. 

You don't bother with changing when you get into your room, only just slipping off your boots and doing your usual routine of a chair under the door and a weapon under your pillow before curling up on the bed. As you lean over to put your phone on charge for the night you see another message but disappointingly it's from Harry.

Night Y/N. Let me know you get where you're going.

You roll your eyes before closing them to sleep.

 

 


 

 

The next day you're halfway to Columbus, Nebraska when your stomach rumbles loud enough to be heard over the engine. You take one hand off the wheel and put it over your stomach for a moment as if to commune with your hunger, "ok I get it. Let's eat."

Five minutes later you're off the freeway and parking as close to the diner as you can, ready to get your grub on. The place is pretty standard fare except, sliding into a booth and picking up a menu, you see that they claim to have the burgers in the state. You're tempted for a moment if only to text Dean and make him jealous, but then there's that word on the menu that jumps off of the page and gives you a firm yet loving slap, pancakes.

There's no self-control after that. Next thing you know the waitress is smiling at you with a pad in her hands and the words, "blueberry pancakes" come falling out of your mouth. It might be mid-afternoon, but pancake time was right about now.

You scoot further into the corner of the booth while you wait and pull your legs up under you as you take out your journal, going over the last few weeks. It's not that you think you missed something, but what if you missed something?

Weeks and weeks of cases are sandwiched between furious notes, sometimes they're no better than scribbles. Potential demon sightings. Possible connections to hell. So far nothing more solid than information but you weren't just looking for a history lesson. You were trying to find anything. Rituals, spells, a way in, anything.

You're so consumed in your own leather-bound world that you don't notice the man sitting a few booths down not letting his gaze linger too long but never really taking his eyes off you.

"She's a cutie, huh?"

The weather-worn waitress asks him with a nod in your direction as she pours him more coffee.

He looks up at her  with a smile sadistic enough that she steps back, "she's just what I've been looking for."

 

 


 

 

It's later than you'd planned to be rolling into town but between the pancakes that were so good you took pictures to treasure forever and the drive that you'd taken the time to actually enjoy, you weren't mad about the delay.

Besides the little motel by the strip mall still had the vacancy sign lit so you couldn't be that late. Or the motel was a complete dive, but honestly, as long as it had a pillow or two you'd be one happy hunter.

The guy at reception is lecherous with his stare when you walk in, but you throw him a glare that tells him to put it back in his pants. It's enough that he's actually apologetic as he promises you the best room he's got and hands you the key.

You're pleasantly surprised to find it's the secluded room furthest from the small office he sits in. Maybe with only one neighbor, you'd actually get some good shut-eye. Hell, if you were lucky nobody was staying next door and you'd sleep like a baby.

It turns out the room next to you was empty but not because you're lucky.

You reach for the light switch as you unlock your door and walk in, unfortunately, your hand never reaches it. A shadow that you didn't see in the darkness pushes its weight into your elbow forcing your arm to bend unnaturally into the wall between the door and the window. You're well practiced enough in being attacked to control the urge to scream, never wanting to give whatever it is the satisfaction. But before you can swing your other arm around a heavy hand grabs it and twists it high into your back, effectively pinning you against the now closed door.

Your chest is bursting, heaving against the wood as you test your captors hold on you, it's iron tight. They easily have 100 pounds on you and their entire body weight is being used to keep you in place.

You turn your head as much as you can but with the pressure from behind it just forces your cheek to flatten against the door as you bite out into the darkness, "what do you want?"

A woman's voice comes out of nowhere, "no spoilers but you're gonna be really grateful for this."

You're about to ask what 'this' is but your question is answered before it even finishes forming in your head. A new set of smaller hands, you assume the woman is an accomplice to whoever has you pinned in place, roughly forces a folded strip of leather between your teeth. The astringent taste of it fills your mouth making you gag against it.  

"I wouldn't spit that out if I were you, it's for your own good. Wouldn't want you biting your own tongue off quite yet."

You don't know what to expect, but you feel the back of a blade as the bottom half of your t-shirt is cut off revealing the gauze that had only been wrapped yesterday.

"This won't do at all." And then just like that the white bandages fall to the floor revealing the gash on the right side of your back, "oh honey, who hurt you?" There's a beat then she leans in, her lips barely touching the shell of your ear, "before me."

It's only when her hands slide over your hips, around your waist and unbutton your jeans that panic sets in. Festering in every muscle. She pulls at the denim to slide it down, just enough to give her access to the lower curve of you back.

"Well looky here." She runs a finger over it, black ink set against pale skin. "So, if this is the lock, I just need to find the right key."

You know what the leather is for now and though you don't make a sound yet your eyes bulge as you anticipate what's about to happen.

Maybe it's a defense mechanism but your mind suddenly clouds with the memory of getting the damn thing. You'd only been on the road with Alex for a few months, but you'd tussled with your first demon. Alex had explained, after exercising the thing, that it was time to get you inked if you wanted to avoid becoming a meat suit. Talismans were too easy to lose. You remember sitting in the tattoo parlor while he'd lifted his sleeve and shown the guy what you needed. The thing looked so burly on his bicep. You'd told them both you needed to sexy it up. When Alex asked you how you intended on doing that you laughed and told him you were going to get the worlds most useful tramp stamp.

You were still young then, and your pain threshold hadn't been what it is now. It's started fine, the tickle of pinpricks at first but the itchy pain had built until you were hissing and swearing like a sailor. Alex had ducked down next to you where you were lying on your front and he'd started teaching you the exorcism. Distracting you as much as possible. Explaining the Latin and making you repeat it over and over again. Anytime you tried to groan at the pain he'd snap at you to start from the top and by the time your new ink was being wrapped up you knew the words you needed to send a demon howling back to hell.

You're torn back into the dark hotel room by the smell of barbeque, meat cooking over hot coals, and the sound of sizzling flesh. The delay in your nerve endings as they try to protect you from this ordeal means that the smell and the sound reach you before the pain sets in. You wonder if you'll ever forget what you smell like as you cook.

And then the feeling finally registers. White hot and setting every inch of you aflame. You can feel every layer of skin as it's burned away. You scream into the back of your teeth as they bite down on the strip of material in your mouth. God help you, but you really are fucking grateful for it.

You're being held up now more than pinned against the wall. Pretty sure if they let go you'd collapse since every drop of energy you possess is being spent on screams. You've never heard anything so fraught as your own muffled begging, but you wonder if that's because you can feel the desperation in your heart for this to be over. But they aren't done. The heat at your back moves slightly like they're trying to erase something from a piece of paper, but they've missed a spot.

It feels like hours when the heat is finally pulled away from your charred flesh but in reality, it's been minutes. While the fire is gone you feel like the burn is still bubbling away with residual heat. You almost curse everything you've been through in the last decade. If you were still weak you'd surely have passed out from the pain by now but cruelly you're still awake. Beads of sweat crawling down your forehead and your knuckles white from the fists you've made to brace yourself.

They let you go and as predicted you fall apart. Your knees buckle, and you end up in a heap on the floor, shivering. The residual pain is nothing compared to act of having your tattoo burned from your skin but its still not pleasant either. 

"Honey it was not that bad, besides now comes the best part."

You look up. Your body is still shaking violently but there's absolute murder swirling in the depths of your eyes. Anger as raw as the skin on your back.

"Go fuck yourself, bitch."

She smiles down at you using the mask of the poor woman she's possessing, graying roots making way to sandy hair and matching gray eyes that reflect your snarl like a mirror.

"You know what, I think I'd rather fuck you. Demonically speaking that is."

You stop blinking as her head falls back and she opens her mouth. There's just frozen horror on your face. The last emotion you can control before the black smoke pours out of her mouth and beelines for yours. You clamp your lips together in a futile attempt to stop it happening but they magically spring open to welcome your new host.

You can taste decay and darkness and feel the smoke scorch your windpipe.

And then that's it. You're locked away. Your body continues to move but you are no longer pulling the strings.

She stands you up and cracks your neck from side to side, getting settled. Your mouth opens, and she speaks with a voice that sounds like you but isn't.

"I'll give her that it stings but did she really need to be so dramatic?"

Chapter Text

"Ohhh look at this, you've got another text message from Dean!" you sing song into the void of the empty warehouse. Of course, it wasn't you speaking it was the demon talking, to you, using your own mouth.

And of course, it was some dank, abandoned warehouse. Because demons are predictable as sin.

Not heard from you in a few days, check in at some point ok?

You could see the words on the screen and feel your hands holding the phone but try as you might you couldn't will your fingers to write a reply.

"Awww sweet. He's worried about you. Dean Winchester is on a mission to kill Abaddon and he's still worried about little ol' you. It makes you positively glow doesn't it?"

This was not the worst you'd endured of course. She'd spent the last four days plucking your deepest fears and secrets from inside your head and dangling them in from of you like bait. And since demons, thankfully, didn't require sleep she'd had so much time to play with you.

That was between the shopping trip she'd taken you on. Making you choose and hold all of the restraints, chains, tools. You could still feel the weight of each of them like she wanted you to still feel them in your hands. She wanted you scared.

"Did I hear a mention of Dean Winchester?" Panic ebbed at your soul with the familiar voice resonating from behind you. He'd been busy she'd said. He'd come when he could. And now he was here.

But the bitch inside of you, she turned your head and grinned gleefully at him, "my liege."

He looked so fucking pleased with himself as he walked towards you before caressing a thumb over your cheek.

You were sure you'd never be able to wash that off. 

If you survived that is, if not it wouldn't matter.

"My sweet Sophie. You've done so well finding your sister and getting her all locked up for me. How does it feel pet?"

"It's sickening my king. She's so fussy, constantly scratching at her cage or telling me she's sorry, but I do it all for you."

"And Oscar?"

You laughed but it was no laugh you'd ever heard before, let alone from your own mouth. It was harsh and, frankly, the epitome of evil. "He's gone to find me a pretty new meat suit so that we can give you this nice present all empty and human, just like you wanted."

You were pleading her not to do this. Don't kill anyone else, help me, stop him. It falls on deaf ears of course from the prison inside your head.

"She's scared of you sir."

He leaned in and stared into your eyes, all the better to address you directly.

"You should be scared Y/N. Once I've got your faithful little sister out of there the fun really begins love."

He stands straight again and returns to addressing Sophie. Your sister. The girl you'd held hands with, sang songs with, loved for as long as she lived and then some. The now demon currently possessing your body. "And what was that about Winchester?"

Your hand offers up your phone despite your desperate attempts to curl your fingers around it to keep it safe, "he keeps texting her. He's starting to worry that she hasn't text him back, but I wanted to wait for your orders, sir."

He pursues his lips, as he thumbs through the messages. "Hmmm. He didn't mention this to me and there's a lot here, he really is worried." If you didn't know any better you'd say that Crowley almost sounds hurt by this new information, but that's ridiculous. "No. Leave squirrel alone. I need him focused on big picture things. In fact…"

He drops your phone to the floor and pushes his Italian leather heel through the screen. You hear the electronics crack under the pressure and if your heart could sink it would. Your connection to the outside world, although tenuous, was gone. Your face smiles at the sound though, a fluttering giggle from your throat.

Oscar, in the big guy he's possessing, slams the doors as he returns then with an unconscious woman in his arms. He lays her down in front of you both for inspection.

"Ooh she is pretty," Sophie coos in your voice. "Do you like her Ozzy?"

He looks with black eyes that trail over you and shrugs a shoulder, "second best ain't bad."

Crowley laughs, "easy mate, she won't be pretty for long." Then he looks at you with malevolence marring his features, "time to come out now darling."

It's worse this time. You thought swallowing the demon was bad enough but expelling her? It felt like acid that had settled in every vein suddenly being ripped from you in one fell swoop.

But then the fantastic reward. Freedom.

You were on your knees, panting, recovering and weirdly resisting the urge to smile. You could move. Your muscles felt like your own again. Thoughts and feelings yours to control.

You wasted no time. Crowley was holding a hand out for the woman Sophie was now possessing to lift herself up with. For one perfect moment, you thought you had a shot. Maybe if you were quiet enough.

"Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas." It was a whisper from your lips that felt like a scream. Free will was giddying, bolstering your resolve, and arguably your stupidity.

"Really Y/N?" An invisible force wraps itself around your vocal chords as Crowley circles you. "I'm not chained up in the bunker anymore Y/N or did you simply forget what I can actually do. I'm the bloody king of hell and you thought you could exercise me?" He asks incredulously.

The tightness lets up and you understand that it's for you to answer, "not you, her."

Sophie turns her new head to you now but like everything you've experienced with her over the last few days, her rotten hatred was delivered with honey, not vinegar. "You're going to make me cry sis," she says dabbing at imaginary tears. "I thought you'd be happy for our little family reunion. Aren't you pleased to see me? And now I've gone and got myself a new body we can have that hug I know you've wanted ever since… oh gosh, ever since you burned my body and buried the ashes. Stole my watch too didn't ya?"  

She's in front of you now, inches from your face, smile as wide as it will stretch. "Don't worry I don't want the hunk of junk back. Not that you'll have much need for it either."

"Ladies, ladies. While this is more delicious than even I could have imagined I think Y/N and I have some matters to discuss."

Oscar nods and touches Sophie's arm to pull her away but she shakes it off. "My king you'll still let me come back and have some fun with her though? Before the end?"

"Of course, pet but first your sister and I have some unfinished business."

 


 

Unfinished business. What a joke.

This wasn't unfinished business. It was plain and simple, payback.

You'd known you had it coming of course. That one day the king of hell would get his grubby mitts on you and well, you'd be fucked. That's what happens when you don't finish what you started. It finishes with you.

The unfortunate thing was knowing that it wouldn't over for a while.

"It's much harder for me to do this to you really." He's pacing with that knife in his hands again.

You spit out the blood that is slowly filling up your mouth aiming as close as you can for his expensive shoes, "yeah, real heart of gold. Tearing you up inside is it?"

His lunge forward is unexpected from the villain you'd taken to be much more careful and considered in his actions. The knife is vertical as it traces your neck while he speaks.

"Actually, you impudent little maggot, no. I thought certain things that I've found myself dependent on recently might make this harder but I suppose revenge is such a human emotion isn't it?"

The blade slices into your skin now as it travels over your collarbone. You hiss as crimson starts rolling over your chest in thick, heavy trickles.

"But that's not what I meant. No, you see it's much easier to keep a demon alive. You? You're so fragile. If I was torturing you in hell there'd be no problem but alas we aren't there yet. Not that I want to be. Hell is just playing with your soul. I want you to experience this in mind and body and all that. I'm just going to have to be extra careful not to kill you too soon."

"How thoughtful. You should write Hallmark cards."

Deeper. It sinks deeper as it slices downwards. The wound it leaves stings in the musty air of this putrid hellhole. You swallow the pain after the initial hiss, he's going to have to work a lot harder to see you cry. 

As he pulls the knife away he looks at your skin and notices the cut is seeping enough that he can't see his efforts, so he presses his thumb roughly over the gash to wipe away the initial blood. His lips curls as he observes more blood rushing to surface.

The ooze covered thumb slips into his mouth and backs out with a pop, "delicious."

You sneer at him. Even from your rickety wooden chair, hands bound behind your back and chains heavy on your feet. Even as helpless as you are you distort your face in disgust at your captor.

He grabs at your chin, "there's a reason I haven't gagged that mouth or removed your tongue yet. I want to hear your clever quips love. I want to hear how funny you think you are and I want to turn your little comments into screams. You'll beg me to kill you in the end. But for now, I'm amused so don't pull faces love. It's rude. Use your words."

Now you know it's what he wants you should stop yourself instead of doing this dance with him. Except you also know how this will go. You know that no one knows you're here, no one even knew you were in this state. No one was looking for you and you could literally disappear without anyone batting an eyelid. Even if not in the hands of Crowley you were always going to be wiped out like this, silently and without fanfare.

So maybe sarcastic remarks were all you had left. If you were going exit stage left because of something Supernatural, like you knew you always would, then at the very least you'd go out as yourself.

"It's funny. I knew you were having problems in hell. Heard a woman had finally come to show your pretentious ass how to really be the big bad, but I had no idea that you'd stooped as low as vamps. Bloodsucking Crowley? Really?"

If you've hit a nerve he hides it well. His face stays the same, a mix of satisfaction and loathing that you want to punch right out of him.

"Oh spitfire, be still my heart." He presses the bloody knife flat against his heart in jest as if you thought Crowley had a heart. "Yes. That attitude is certainly going to make up for how slowly I have to take this."

"Gonna get started or just keep talking about it? Because there's no TV here and I get bored easy."

He steps back to his table of instruments in silence while you continue, "or is that your plan? Are you going to bore me to death? Because you got me, that's my Kryptonite. Just ask Kevin, before you know it you'll be doing anything to entertain me."

Crowley chuckles while he works, not looking back to you yet. "You mean all that time you've been talking to my new bestie and he didn't tell you? Kevin's dead. You could say he was touched by an angel."

You're struck silent. Disbelief that Dean didn't tell you and the news itself cutting into your chest worse than Crowley's blade. It can't be. Kevin was safe in the bunker. That's why he was in the bunker, locked up all snug and protected from the world.

Crowley stops looking through his toys after apparently finding what he wanted, "is that really all it takes to shut you up? Because if that's the case I have so much more gossip to share."

No. Crowley was lying you were sure of it. Sam and Dean wouldn't have let anything happen to Kevin. And Dean would have told you if it had. 

"Nah, I was just thinking about how desperate you are, pulling crap like that out of your ass."

He turns back to you with, surprisingly, brass knuckles on both hands. It seems a little barbaric for Crowley until he takes a step closer and you realize something.

They're yours.

Chapter Text

Despite having been strung up for the last week now, arms and legs stretched out by shackles compared to your once home on the rickety wooden chair, you somehow managed to drift into sleep.

Maybe not a comfortable sleep. But funnily enough, when your captor of four weeks leaves you with a promise of being back very soon, you take every opportunity you have to close your eyes and whisper silent prayers for mercy. Until your body collapses into exhausted rest.

At least after the first few days of being suspended like this, your arms had stopped burning from carrying your weight. Or maybe they still ached but you had been distracted by other fun things like Crowley's cat o’ nine tails playing fast and loose with the flesh of your back. Either way, ignorance is bliss.

If you were honest you could feel your resolve starting to crack. And it wasn't the physical torture that was breaking you. You still managed to convince him that you could take more. Hell, you moaned like Meg Ryan over a sandwich when Crowley used your body like a punching bag, crying out for more. When he spent an entire day leisurely ripping your toenails from your feet you'd told him, "nails grow but cocks don't." And then you winked at him, like the idiot you were and flashed a knowing glance at his crotch laughing. Even when he'd broken all twenty-seven bones in your left hand, one by one, you still managed to look at him and whisper, "wow, you suck at this."

You didn’t know how you were still fighting. Maybe it was all just becoming one big indiscriminate bundle of pain? But you had managed to keep on kicking and screaming, withstood it all with and many quips as you could. You were dying anyway, why let Crowley have all the fun?

It was the psychological games he was playing that were chipping away at your coat of armor and unfortunately, the bastard had worked it out.

At first, the mind games had started as a way for Crowley to take a break from the manual labor of torture. After all, this was revenge for what you’d done and you hadn’t had the ability to put pictures in peoples heads. Torture imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

So he’d avoided it at first, battering you and then putting any parts back together if he went too far. It was only when you reportedly tired him out that he started playing with your head. But as he'd got more intense and elaborate with what he made you see or things he told you, well he started to notice. He saw how sometimes you'd flinch at the mention of a name or if he raised two fingers to your forehead, more than with any tool he held in his hands.

It's not like you could help it. There were only so many times you could watch re-runs of your sister being tortured until she became a demon. You’d never forget how many times they'd whispered your name and used you to break her down all the faster.

Or when Crowley had forced you to live through her last few months on earth at an excruciating speed. All the things she'd gone through, the things she'd done to be sent to hell. The secrets and loneliness she'd kept from you. All of it sandwiched together and forced in front of your eyes.

But that was before he realized what the mind games did to you. Once he knew, that was when he got really creative. 

Whenever you passed out he started putting people in your head. Amplified nightmares based on your own secrets. You’d always thought your own conscience was capable of imagining up the worst things for the people you loved to say to you? No, Crowley was much better. 

Alex was there often. He'd spend hours detailing every single reason that his death was your fault. Talking through everything you’d done wrong in the four years you’d hunted together. Showing you every face you’d been unable to save, or as he put it, “not good enough to save.” He’d talk until he was spitting with anger, nose to nose and telling you he should have let you rot on that first case. 

That was to just the beginning.

Sometimes your mom came. It would always start as a dream, one of your favorite dreams in fact. Your first day of school. You'd run out to meet her, and your baby sister in her stroller and your mother would smile down at you. You'd talk all the way home about the friends you'd made, and she would reply with all the encouragement in the world. But with Crowley's help, there was a surprise. Because as many times as the dream repeated it always had his new twist ending. Your mother would end the day by killing you. 

"It's the only way to save everyone from the monster you’ll become. I have to make sure you don't hurt anyone."

She'd whisper it in your ear as she slit your throat. She'd mouth the words to you while she drowned you in the bath. Screach them as she wrapped her hands around your neck and chocked the life out of you. Over and over, a thousand times she'd kill you a thousand different ways with the same reason. She just couldn’t let you live to hurt people. 

You'd always wake up the same. No matter who was playing with you in your head, no matter what hallucination you woke up from, it was still Crowley's smug face beaming at you and asking you if you'd had sweet dreams.

So yes. With him gone you willingly fell to sleep, even if you only had minutes you’d take what you could. Dreamless nothingness. It was possibly the best you'd ever slept while suspended spread eagle in an abandoned warehouse.

Except when you did wake up however many hours later, he still wasn't back.

Everything was exactly as he'd left it. The same dried pools of blood on the floor, his chair still facing you, except empty.

When he left he'd told you he just had a little bureaucracy to deal with and he'd be back faster than you could blink but now you were left here in the cold wondering what sort of new game this was.

 


  

It must have been at least a full day, if not two when he popped up again. 

"Ding dong, the bitch is dead!" He sounded overjoyed, but you weren't stupid enough to hold out for mercy on account of his good news.

"What's tickling your tiny balls?" You just didn’t know when to stop.

He walked forward with his hands in his pockets as he spoke, like he was on his way somewhere else, "you mean besides the hardy boys finally learning to love me? Abaddon is dead, and the king is back." This was accompanied by some weak jazz hands. 

You were intrigued about the mention of the brothers, but it wasn’t the first time you’d heard their names and you really didn’t want to have to endure anything via a Winchester right now. So you persevered in trying to antagonize him instead, "so you admit that she kicked your limey ass off the throne and you only have it back now that she's dead? You know by default."

Hit me. You silently willed him. Cut me. Take off a finger, or all ten.

The blow didn't come.

Instead he stared at you trying to make a decision. And then he sighed all full of resignation.

"I've had a very trying day my little Inigo Montoya. I'm really not in the mood." You savagely bit your lower lip to stop a sigh of relief from escaping.

"But I know someone who is."

In struts your sister, on cue, in the same body that you'd seen her leave in weeks ago. She had a duffel bag on her shoulder and grin dancing across her lips.

She didn't take her eyes off of you as she whispered to her king, "thank you, sire."

Crowley almost looked regretful as he muttered back, "just don't kill her" before he was gone again.

 


 

Sam had only wandered to the kitchen after a few hours' sleep for some water. He had not expected to find Dean sitting in the library by the glow of his laptop.

"Why aren't you sleeping we only got in like 2 hours ago?"

Dean didn't even look up, he just carried on clicking away, face barely a foot from the screen. "Not tired, besides I've got work to do."

Sam felt the frown forming on his face for what seemed like the millionth time. He was worried about what the mark was doing to him and this behavior wasn't exactly making that go away, "well, what's up?"

"Y/N."

That peaks Sam's interest. He runs a hand through his hair as he sits down smoothing out his frown rather than any flyaways. "What about her? We haven't heard from her in what, like four months? I'm sure she's fine."

Dean did look up this time and with an almost grin on his face, "well thing is I've been talking to her for a while. Since she left actually. Just checking in and shooting the shit, but she always got back to me."

Sam can feel the smile tug at his lips as his brother talks and he nods knowingly for him to continue.

"Shut up man.'

"I didn't-"

"Whatever." Dean cuts off his brother and looks back to his laptop. "Point is I haven't heard from her since just before I got the blade. I mean I gave it a few days, in case it was a hunt or something, she's still MIA. One night it was all fine then poof nothing."

Sam had to admit that the timeline wasn't great but he was anxious to have his brother working again so soon after what he’d seen in that penthouse, "maybe she just changed her number. Come on Dean how many times do we change ours?"

Dean shook his head, "Nah dude. I've just got this bad feeling and with the whole Abaddon thing, I kind of pushed it aside.” Sam can see the creeping guilt on Dean’s face where he’s clearly been worried but ignoring it. As much as it pains him to see his stomach still lurches at how much this is an ‘old Dean’ reaction. “But I just traced her cell and last hit was just over a month ago, some Podunk warehouse about three hours away."

Just like that Dean’s on his feet and Sam can’t help the look of surprise on his face. As much as he was reassured at seeing a glimpse of his same old brother, the one from before the mark, Sam had kind of been hoping for some more sleep. "You wanna go now?"

"Yeah, put on your dancing shoes and let's boogie."

 


 

You've tried so hard. You've fought and clawed against everything to be resilient. Carry on the fight until your dying breath and all that. But the end was starting to look like more of a bitter pill than you'd ever imagined.

It shouldn't be like this, affect you like this. Sophie isn't even Sophie anymore. She's not even in Sophie's body. And yet the more time she spends  with you, twisting parts of you that shouldn't be twisted until they're unrecognizable, the more that her new body reverts back into Sophie. In your mind anyway.

You're laying now at least. You'd call it a small victory but there's the little fact that she only laid you down with plans to waterboard you. You've drowned or choked like you're downing, at least five times now. The first time she'd told you it was the closest to what her death felt like without actually killing you. Apparently, you'd put on a good show because she keeps doing it and telling you what a pretty sight it is to see you experience death.

There's something about being tortured by your demon sister that makes you beg for death a lot quicker than you had with Crowley.

"You've seen my last few months haven't you Y/N? You know, my last months on earth before a ghost tore my lungs out through my throat?" She lays down next to you drawing circles around the tender hole in your arm that she'd dug out only hours ago.

You nod. Not because you can't speak but you don't want to. All you can see is Sophie. Your Sophie. The Sophie whose scraped knees you’d kissed. Malice and your blood splattered on her face.

She giggles like she had while she'd been possessing you, "there are some secrets that even Crowley doesn't know about but don't worry sis, I can't keep them from you."

Suddenly her head rests in the crook of your neck and she snuggles against you. Despite the pain it causes to have her weight pressing into you and your litany of injuries you still instinctively pull against your bonds a little, trying to wrap your arms around her and pull her closer. "I was going to tell you before graduation since I was super excited about it, but I was scared of what you’d think what I was still in classes. So, I figured if I told you in my cap and gown you couldn't get mad. Sounds smart right?"

She moves to look up at you waiting for an answer, so you nod again until you feel her head resume its place at your neck.

"I was pregnant Y/N. I know, I know. How irresponsible of me! But at least I waited until the last semester. You do remember Clark right?"

Again, she looks up at you and you nod, except this time there's a silent tear that rolls down your face as you do.

"We'd been looking at apartments for after graduation. Honestly, with everything that was happening to me in my dreams, with ol' yellow eyes, all the things I thought I couldn't tell you. That baby and starting my life with him was just about all that kept me together. I must have been what, three or four months when I got zapped to Cold Oak."

You shake your head even though she doesn't ask you a question, this time needing to vocalize, "no. It's- It's not true. You would have told me Soph."

There's that giggle again, "I didn't tell you everything. I couldn't and besides, you left me. I thought I was going crazy. You let me think I was crazy." She sits up now and leans, on one hand, to look into your eyes, cocking her head as she does. "Did you know you were burning my dead baby when you burnt me up?"

The noise that comes out of you is animalistic, it's as heartbroken as much as it is loud. By comparison, your voice after making such a sound is frighteningly small, "please stop. Sophie, please. Just please remember. Remember for one minute how much I loved you. Still, love you."

She hops off the table and finds her favorite knife. It's a curved blade around a silver ring that she slips on her index finger and teases over your throat as she returns to the table.

"Love me? You're pathetic. I'm a demon because of you. I'm one of the things that you've hated and killed for over a decade and you still love me?" Her hand moves from your neck to your cheek. Besides bruises, your face is surprisingly unmarred so the feeling of a cold, sharp edge against the delicate skin makes your entire body stiffen.

"I know he said not to kill you, but I wonder how much he'll actually punish me if I do. I think it'd be worth a few years of torture to be the one to watch you die. It would be poetic. I could rip out your throat with my teeth and watch you bleed till your last drop."

The knife is barely there but it's enough to draw blood.

"And I could use your excuse when my king asks me why. I could say I did it all for love. Because when I kill you you'll take the elevator straight down beside me. And when I've finished suffering for disobeying him you'll still be all racked up so I can do this all over again. This fun we're having. Except in hell, I can kill you in a million different ways. Until the day your eyes are as black as mine bitch."  

You close your eyes tight against the wetness begging to be released. You wait for the blow or cut or bite. Whatever she decides to do to finish you. If this is how you go it might not be so bad to die with your sister. 

At least this will be over. You might be tortured for hundreds of years in hell but at least you wouldn't dream of escape. In hell, there’s no need to believe in hope.

Then there's a bang that rattles the building with noise. Your eyes spring open and you lift your head as much as you can to see light pouring in  from the double doors that lead outside. Dusky sunlight silhouettes two people and your mouth drops open against your chest.

One of them is offensively tall and the other? You call him dummy. 

They stride in, guns raised to Sophie, yelling at her furiously to back away. 

Sam runs over to you apparently horrified for only a second before he's untying you with speed and care.

And then Sophie blinks. Her eyes so black that they look like hollow windows to her skull and before you can react Dean is lunging forward from his warning stance. His gun tossed aside as he pulls something out from behind his back.

You don't see it, but you don't need to. He doesn't have the face of a man that is that going to give her a slap on the wrist. His features are contorted into a brutal tangle of anger like you’ve never seen. 

The "no!" you shout does nothing to deter him as he plunges his weapon, that you can't even begin to fathom is a piece of bone, into her heart. Your eyes wide as she flashes electric orange and burnt red.

Where your arms are now free you're no better off. You collapse back onto the table while Sam is still trying to release your ankles. You stare at the body that wasn't even her while "my sister,” falls pitifully from your mouth. 

The sobs are noisy this time and they vibrate your body violently as you curl in on yourself. Your grubby hair fans out over your face hiding you from the sight as best it can.

That's when Dean really looks at you for the first time. A pale lot of nothing painted bloody and bruised. The blade clatters to the floor and he bends down to you, his hand only daring to stroke your hair while you weep with your entire soul.

Sam is standing straight as an arrow now though, your still bound feet left forgotten. He’s frozen as he tries to stop replaying the image of Dean dropping the first blade without a second thought. 

Chapter Text

Dean is the one that picks you up off the table and carries you away from the blood-stained everything. Not that you were passed out, you just couldn't move on your own. Or wouldn't. Over four weeks in that place and you're reduced to a marionette that's had its strings cut.

Sam gets a blanket from the Impala before they leave the building since the physical torture you've endured has rendered you naked, if you didn't count the dried blood and open wounds that covered a significant amount. Not that you're cold. In fact, when you finally taste outside air again you feel like you might have a fever with the thick material wrapped around you and strong arms holding you against a chest that radiates heat.

It's only after Dean is tucking you into the back seat and carefully closing the car door that a strangled laugh escapes your lips.

Holy fuck, you were out.

The relief of being alive hits you like a wave. You'd been ready to die, you'd been right there, teetering dangerously at the edge just waiting for the push. Yet, here you were now, in the back of the Impala. Possibly the safest place you could be.

Say what you like about the Winchesters, but their timing was impeccable.

"Y/N?" Sam's worried eyes are searching your face from the passenger seat, his voice unsure, "we're going to take you to the hospital ok?"

You can feel the tear roll down your cheek as you look at him with a small appreciative smile, but you don't wipe it away. It's so rare your tears are happy.

"Thank you." It's for so much more than taking you to a hospital and your eyes flit to Dean's as he watches you in the rearview mirror, "really, thank you."

Dean makes a gruff noise instead of saying anything and Sam stays silent, watching you a minute more before he's satisfied and turns his body forward again.

"Oh but-" You almost don't say it. After having everything stripped away and being vulnerable for so long it's difficult to put yourself back there again so soon but the thought of not asking is just not an acceptable alternative. "If you guys don't mind can you take me to a hospital nearer the bunker? I don't want to be getting better a few miles down the road from this place."

In case he comes back for me, you finish in your head.

Dean answers like it wasn’t even a consideration. "What kind of monster leaves a person in Nebraska?"

 


 

It's three hours back to Smith County Memorial, which Dean insists is the top shelf in medical care although it's conveniently also the closest to the bunker. It's not like you're going to argue, the idea of being geographically closer to your liberators is incredibly comforting. Besides, he pulls off the drive in half that time using fading daylight as a cover for his speed.

When you get there Sam wants to tell the doctors that you're family so they can visit but you raise an eyebrow at him, "I look like one of the extras from Saw that didn't make it out, you know the only way you walk me in there and don't leave in handcuffs is if you flash them a badge."

He opens his mouth to argue but you're already talking in Dean's direction. "I need a gun and, if you've got any clever ideas, some way to hide a devil's trap in my room without the nurses giving me side eye."

Dean nods, “as soon as you’ve got a room, no point scaring them in the ER.” 

Sam sighs, not like you're a burden but rather he's frustrated with the whole situation. He gets out of the car though and plays his part like you'd all agreed. Not a minute later and he's scooped you into his arms.

It's dizzying being so high up, you're not sure how he stands it every day.

He gives you one last disapproving look and asks you if you're ready.

You nod with a brief smile that becomes a feigned sob. And then he's running into the ER entrance with you shaking in his arms and Dean bringing up the rear. Both of them a panicked mixture of angry and worried, calling out for help and playing the parts of FBI, who found this random woman, as perfectly as ever.

You're laid down on a gurney that appears as they magically do in hospitals and then there are hands pulling back the blanket over your body along with a collective, horrified gasp. It's enough to make you self-conscious. 

These people are medical professionals though and on their next out breaths, they're talking medical jargon, asking you your name and telling you that you'll be ok.

The last thing you see of the guys is their heads peeking above the nurse trying to talk to them, their gazes following you as you're carted away, all before they start lying through their teeth.

 


 

"Are you family?"

You hear the familiar words before you open your eyes as if they were what woke you from your medically induced sleep.

When you do look up the door to your room is slightly open and someone is standing there with their back to you while their hand lingers on the handle. He's wearing a white coat and so you can only assume this is your doctor.

"Uh- no. Torres, FBI. I'm one of the agents who brought her in. We are trying to locate her family in the meantime. Is there something they should know?"

The doctor glances into the room and you're quick enough closing your eyes that you still appear to be in restful slumber. When you dare to peak again his hands is slipping from the door handle as he turns back to Dean.

It's not weird that you know it’s Dean by the sound of his voice.

"We really need to speak to her family asap. There have been some concerns."

Dean half laughs at that and it brings a smile to your face. You can visualize his arrogant FBI look as he replies, "you mean besides how mangled she is?"

The doctor clears his throat. They probably don't get FBI in here a lot, and fake ones even less.

"Yes, besides that. Obviously, she has been through something traumatic but some of the staff have expressed, well, as I mentioned, concerns. Before she had her hand x-rayed she told our radiologist not to bother because she already knew what bones were broken, all twenty-seven. When our surgeon was discussing skin grafts with her she laughed at him and asked if she had enough 'good stuff' left. Other than an intimate knowledge of what has been done to her she refuses to discuss her ordeal in any other way, including with the local police who were here this morning. That’s not to mention the night terrors the nurses have had to wake her up from. We would expect to see post-traumatic stress in a case like this but repression on this scale is forcing us to make serious considerations about emergency detention in the psych ward, once she is ready to leave the ICU."

There's a beat of silence and if you didn’t know any better you’d think it’s there just for you to soak it all in.

"Listen doc, can I- why don't you see if I can get anything out of her? The last thing either of us wants to see is this kid in a straitjacket."

If the doctor is wondering why an FBI agent is so interested he doesn't show it,  instead you see his head nod, "I've just finished checking on her, she's still asleep following her surgery but please be my guest."

He starts walking away leaving the door ajar for Dean, but you hear him stop a few steps away, "she was right you know, it was all twenty-seven bones in her left hand. Every single one of them had a perfect break. That should be impossible."

Dean doesn't respond, just watches the man leave before walking in and closing the door. You don't bother to pretend to be asleep again, "so he thinks I'm loony tunes."

He looks at you with a grin before picking up your chart to take a look, "can you blame him? What sort of freak rattles off how many bones they've broken to get out of an x-ray?"

You shrug, smile, and sigh all at once. "Didn't want to waste their time. Besides he made me count it out as he did it, so the information is kind of permanently etched in there." The index finger on your remaining good hand taps gently at your forehead.

Dean doesn't notice it at first. He's looking through your chart with concern for the parts that he understands. You don't notice what you'd said either until he finally questions it, "he?"

You still hadn't decided if you were going to tell him this. Crowley had said they were working together now. Besties he’d said. They'd teamed up to kill Abaddon what if…?

God, you didn't want to think this of Dean, but the ugly thought crept into your head anyway. What if he gave you back?

Looking into those concerned green eyes of his made you feel dirty for entertaining it. But it was achingly difficult to separate Dean Winchester who you've become friends with, the one who saved you, twice, from Dean Winchester who had occasionally been in that warehouse with you muttering hate and bile while he talked about the most intimate thoughts you'd had in your loneliest moments.

He wouldn't. Why would he have saved you from that place only to give you back?

Crowley's voice echoed in your ears like he was in the room, "because wouldn't that be the most delicious torture yet?"

You shudder but force it away just as quickly. You're out and you're still you. And this is still Dean.

"My sister, well the demon, she had only been with me for a few days. She was uh- well she had been waiting her turn. She brought me to him, Crowley, and he- well the first month was just me and him."

"Crowley", he repeats the word like he's testing it out in his mouth. There's that face again. The bloodcurdling anger, the tense jaw, and stony features. The face he'd had as he plunged the blade, that bone, into your sisters - the demons - heart.

"He said you've been working with him but…" you find yourself chocking a little on the next words. In your head is one thing but saying it out loud? You can't find it in you to finish verbally even if your brain does. But please don't take me back.

The silence coming from him is unnerving so you tentatively reach out for him. Your hand touches his arm that, even covered in the material of his suit jacket, you think you can feel the rage rolling off him in waves. "Dean?"

He snaps his head to look at you and for a moment you feel like you're being pierced with his gaze. The sharpness is quickly withdrawn and replaced with something else you can't quite read. 

"I know this sounds crazy but it's ok. Crowley and I," you run your tongue over your suddenly dry lips, "we have a history and I've gotta take some of the blame for that." You motion to yourself, "This isn't completely undeserved."

"You're an idiot if you think you deserved this sweetheart."

You dip your head and smile to yourself. There's still so much that he doesn't know about you.

"Doesn't matter," you say all too cheery, too bright and false. "I need to figure out a story to keep me out a padded cell. If anything, 'tortured by a demon with a grudge' might get me an express ticket."

By the time you look at him again a sad smile is fading from his face.

"Well," he looks at your chart one last time, "Marcia Brady? Really?"

"She's got excellent insurance."

"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia." He says, and you can't work out if it's in jest or wistfully. "I came here to get you all suited up before I go."

"Go?" you try to cover the iota of fear in your voice with curiosity.

He hands you a gun that you hold in your hand appreciatively before slipping it under your pillow, while he takes out a can of paint. You cock your head as he shakes it.

"It's UV."

"Clever."

"More than just a pretty face. But yeah, erm Cas has got a bit of an angel problem he needs our help on."

You've heard of the famous Castiel even if you hadn't met him before. Another reminder that the Winchesters have done a lot for you considering how little you've been in their lives. So obviously, you weren't going to tell him that you're scared. Not while he's painting invisible devil's traps by the doors and window. Not when he's got a job to do, friends to help, a life that you don't really fit in to.

Of course, you don't need to say any of that because Dean, somehow he has even that covered.

"It's got me and Sammy in there. For, y'know, while we're out of town." He says handing you a new phone. 

You thumb through it as if to confirm what he said, but you end up rolling your eyes so far back you might lose them. "I am not calling you Batman."

"You know you want to." He says puffing out his chest.

"I really don't dummy."  You flash the phone at him showing him his new name but instead of cringing he laughs from the pit of his stomach. It makes you think about all those months that he was nothing but a memory and some words on his screen, how many times did you make him laugh like that?

That's when the door opens again, and Sam is there, all suited and booted like his brother. They must have dressed up just to get in here and see you.

"Hey Y/N, how you doing?"

It's so easy to swallow down a real answer and instead say, "dumb question jolly green, but I appreciate the concern."

You know the joke makes it easier for Sam to do that boyish smile of his and tell Dean they need to go. And smiling at Dean, all wide despite the bruises on your face, makes it easier for him to agree and say his goodbyes.

Clearly, you have no idea that Sam had been watching you with his brother for the last five minutes and you have no idea about the mark on Deans arm that's causing those bouts of anger. And you didn't ask about the blade or know about the angel problem or anything because that's not what you have.

You and Dean have a pair of phones and dumb jokes, and sometimes he saves your life. 

Chapter Text

Frankly, you're starting to think maybe you should be in the psych ward.

It was fine for the first week, even with whatever they were dealing with in angel town there was still an open line of communication.

You'd been surprised the first time he'd text you, sure, but it had been like normal. The day after he'd left, in the middle of the night, your new phone had buzzed and there it was.

You being a good girl and taking all your meds?

You rolled your eyes but smiled, all the same, lit up by only the blue glow of the screen as you awkwardly type back with one hand.

Of course. How else am I going to bag me a doctor and retire on my looks?

He'd been so serious when he'd left, they both had, but Dean had instigated the conversation and you both fell back into it so easily.

That’s my girl. 

For the next few days, it had gone back and forth about the dumb stuff. Even if it felt a little hollow now, knowing there were much bigger battles for him. It was just so damn nice that at least one person wasn't treating you differently. Only he spoke to you like it had never happened. It wasn't healthy but right now it was what you needed.

Maybe that's what he was doing too. Watching the world burn, sitting in the middle of the fire, and pretending it wasn't.

And then a week later you're being wheeled out of the ICU and your phone buzzes again.

I'm sorry sweetheart.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Needless to say, you freaked out. Within 30 seconds of being in your new room you broke the cardinal rule of texting, you called him. No answer.

You called again. No answer.

You called Sam. No, freaking, answer.

Saving the world, which you were pretty sure is what they were doing, is a full-time gig. You get that. You've not done it personally, but you can only imagine there's not a lot of downtime involved.

But answering the phone so someone knows you're still alive takes what, thirty seconds?

So now you're stuck in this bed for another week, since you've been told that's the absolute earliest they recommend discharging you, and you're watching videos of this 'Marv' guy bringing people back to life. And you just know, in your gut, that it's all connected. It wasn't hard to connect the dots from the limited information you had. Plus, Marv seemed like a pretty big bag of dicks.

That second week is when the stir crazy started setting in.

You don't sleep more than a few hours a night on account of the wonderful new recurring nightmare that involved your escape and recovery is all itself a dream and actually, Crowley and your sister still had you as their plaything. Every time you wake up from that little beauty you end up digging your fingers into the first wound you find on yourself in an attempt to cause yourself some pain. To make it all real.

Most people just pinch themselves but, go big or go home right?

In the days, when you're awake, you're trapped in your little white room like a lion in a cage. You don’t want to leave because then you'd have to leave your last vestige of sanity and safety, the gun Dean had left you. Yet staying inside the room was clearly turning you the kind of crazy that ends with you opening a motel and murdering your clientele in the showers. 

But you're not stupid, yet. You know that you need the time. You wake up every day of that second week a little stronger than the day before. And even though you've still got a cast on your arm and hand, bandages wrapped around various gashes and burns, and tremendously colourful bruising still panting your body, it takes that week before you think maybe, just maybe, you've finally got the strength to hunt down the Winchesters and kill them your damn self.

And if you leave early the nice doctors definitely won't be inclined to give you any pain medication to take with you.

When discharge day does finally arrive, you sign the paperwork so fast that you're not even sure you signed the right name. What does that matter though, a squiggle is a squiggle. You don't even flinch when you arrange a $700 cab fare to take you to Nebraska for your car. Better that than 3 transfers on the bus and honestly, the money is well spent to jump in a taxi at the hospital, fall asleep with the rumbling of the engine and wake up in the parking lot of that shitty motel where your nightmare began.

Thankfully it's getting late when you arrive which gives you a little safety net while breaking into your own vehicle. There's no time to appreciate having your wheels back once you manage it. As soon as you're inside you're starting it up and driving back the way you came. Is it technically advisable to drive when half your arm is in a cast from the elbow down? Probably not. But you're in the dark with no idea what to expect and the basic need of any hunter remains true always. You need wheels and weapons. 

It's after 10pm when you finally pull up to the bunker. You haven't even put it in Park before you find yourself banging the thick metal with your good hand. Screaming into the night until your throat is hoarse, all on the simple chance that you'll wake someone sleeping inside.

No one comes. And just like that, it's the end of day seven where you don't know what's going on with the Winchesters.

 


 

You fall asleep in the back of your pick up, surrounded by your entire life, changed into your own clothes and right-hand gripping your gun the entire night. The nightmares are different tonight, twists on old memories that feel like a lingering remnant of Crowley's hand.

First, it's you at Cold Oak, burning and burying your sister except for this time she's holding a tiny bundle in her arms and begging you not to as you do it.

Then it's the hunt that killed Alex. Your gun loaded with silver bullets and trained on the shifter that did it, until you drop it by your side and watch it happen, smiling into the mess that's made before you.

And then the cherry on the cake. It's you strung up in the warehouse until Sam and Dean come rushing in to save you, except it's a trap. You help the king of hell capture the Winchesters and stand idly by while they die.

There's a knock on the window as you wake you up panting, sweat-slicked across your brow and the air inside your car sticky with morning heat. It's not the knocking that wakes you up though it's the person shouting your name.

"Y/N!"

Your gun is pointed at the window in a reflex. Finger dancing over the trigger as your eyes adjust properly to daylight.

It's Sam. Floppy-haired, giant Sam. Red eyes and five o clock shadow and clothes that look like they've been worn a little too long.

A sigh of relief falls out of your mouth and you drop your gun to the floor as you jump out of the backseat. Before either of you know what's happening you're standing next to him, arms wrapped around him as best you can and his name a whisper on your lips.

When you feel his hands wrap around you that's when you jump back, arm swinging, and land a punch to his gut. After all, you had no hope of reaching his face.

You're still not at full strength, you know that, but he does you the courtesy of at least pretending to be winded by the blow as he asks, "what the hell?"

And then it all comes pouring out. A week of thinking they're both dead. Two weeks stuck in the hospital with nothing but your own shattered thoughts. Five years of not needing anyone else only for the Winchesters to be there five minutes before you care about them. 

"Don't worry Dean will be getting worse when I see him. Honestly, he sends me 'I'm sorry sweetheart' a week ago and then nothing. He's not answering, you don't answer. I spent the last week going grade-A certifiable thinking that the world was going down in flames while I ate pudding cups in a hospital gown. Thinking that you're both dead! And I know, I know I have no right to ask anything of you. You're the fucking Winchesters and you've got bigger shit going on but I at least- I at least thought we were friends. I'm not just some victim you guys leave in a random hospital and forget about you know? I mean I get it you guys have saved me, twice now, and I'm grateful I am but I'm a goddamn hunter too. I understand the life so yeah maybe it would have been nice if either one of you dicks answered when I called and maybe just said that you're ok."

Your chest is heaving dramatically making you feel like you're the female protagonist in some rom-com. It's a little ridiculous, an embarrassed blush rising on your cheeks, but you'd said it. Everything that you thought needed to be said. But you realize with Dean, not around you're going to have to say it all again.

"And where the hell is Dean anyway?"

That's when you look, really look at the man in front of you. His red eyes that look like the result of not sleeping for days. The clothes he hasn't changed because he hasn't stopped. And a wild look about him, like a man that's lost at sea. All pieces of the puzzle that you didn't really acknowledge.

"Dean's- Dean's dead."

You've forgotten how to breathe, it's the only thing you're absolutely sure of. And you continue without this knowledge until your lungs burn and your brain finally cries out with the information.

You don't have time to question why the news hits you like this. Why it seems to stop your heart beating and makes the phone in your back pocket feel like a lead weight that you can't carry anymore. 

There’s no time because something deep inside you has just been clawed out. 

And then you look at Sam again.

It's not relief this time but instinct when you reach out for him again, your good hand rubbing his back and you muttering into his shirt, "I'm so sorry Sam. I so, so sorry." You embrace him not just because you need it, something comforting and physical, but you think Sam needs it more. You think he might need something to hold all the pieces together and at this moment a hug is all you can think to give.

He understands what you're doing and instead of being tentative this time he fanatically returns the hug. He holds you so tight that you don't need to ask if this is the first piece of comfort he's had, you just know it is. 

You stay that way for a while, there's no time limit, no reason for you to stop holding each other. You're surrounded by silence and the smell of grass and trees and a Winchester. Not the one you need but the one you have. And the one that you can still help and support. You only break away when your legs start to feel unsteady for being still for so long, but you don't move far. Just one step back while you look up at him with a smile that tells him you're not leaving him.

His face flashes with something you think looks like guilt, but you don't understand what Sam could be feeling guilty about until he starts talking.

"I don't know how to tell you this, but I guess I need to so, I think Crowley has him."

"What?"

A breeze whips through the pair of you and Sam puts a hand on your shoulder, "please come inside, I'll tell you everything."

Even though you doubt that you want to know everything you nod dumbly and follow him into the bunker.

 


 

Three weeks later.

You're in the shadows with your gun in front of you, trained on the guy who you'd found pummelling Sam. As he lines a hammer up with Sam's knee you line your shot up with his heart, feeling your finger clench, riding the pressure of the trigger until the only thing between you and firing a bullet is the blood you can hear pumping in your ears. You're only waiting for him to raise his arm and give you a clear shot at his chest.

Then the room fills up with a tinny ringtone which makes mystery man sigh and tells Sam how lucky he is.

It's not until he is wandering outside the room that you relax your grip and slip inside, muttering to yourself about him being the lucky one.

Sam's eyes bulge out, shocked to see you, but his voice is relieved as he whispers, "Y/N what are you doing here?"

"I owed you one." You reply checking the handcuffs behind his back when you see the keys on the floor.

You work in silence after that, freeing Sam and taking his weight as you drag him outside the way you'd come in. Not taking your eyes off the door Sam's captor had left through as you do.

It's only once you're outside loading Sam into your truck that he asks again, "seriously how did you find me?"

You huff out a small, unimpressed sigh as you slide into the driver's seat and start the engine, "I know it's difficult to remember with this," you say waving the cast you were thrilled to finally be getting off in few weeks' time. "But I'm actually a pretty good hunter. Plus, that idiot didn't turn off your phone."

"I need to call Cas." He says suddenly at the mention of his cell while you put miles between you and Captain America back there.

"Why what's going on?" Your tone is far too casual for the answer he's about to give you.

He's all determined as he sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose, "Dean's a demon."

The car swerves before you register that you'd done it, choking out, "what?"

"I spoke to Crowley kept him talking and traced the call, but he said the mark... The mark changed him like it did Cain. Dean dies, and the mark protected him by turning him, his own soul into a demon."

A perverse rage bubbles under your fingertips and spreads down to your toes. Crowley. Again. First your sister. Then everything he'd done to you and now this. Now Dean. 

You were going to gut that sorry son of a bitch if it was the last thing you ever did.

"Where is he, Sam?" There's no room for argument in your tone but he tries it anyway.

"No, I'm calling Cas. You need to go back to the bunker and-"

"What I need is to help you bring in Dean. You're injured as it is, and Cas is running on borrowed time. You've got as many good hands as I do. Now, where is he?"

Sam reaches into his pocket for his phone as he tells you the last place he tracked them to. And you reply with your foot pressing harder on the gas pedal.

 


  

"I'm going to go load this up", he says leaving the motel room and you wave him away while you zip up your duffle.

"Boots on and we'll be heading out."

He's got a few minutes. Lacing your boots with one hand is not something you have got particularly good at and with the cast coming off soon you don't intend to spend time practicing.

You're finishing up your second when you hear it.

"He's… uncontrollable. Must be the mark."

You'd know that voice anywhere. It sends a shiver up your spine as much as it makes you see red.

"Anyway, Dean's your problem now - again, forever."

You're on your feet now, standing in the open doorway. Frozen only for a second before you're running, full pelt at the king of hell.

Unfortunately, Sam's good arm is around your waist before you can reach him, cooing in your ear, "hey, hey. "Y/N it's ok."

But you growl, not taking your eyes off Crowley, not stopping your arm reaching out to throttle him, "It's not ok. It never is with him. Sam, let me go."

Crowley looks at you with a grin but there's surprise behind his eyes, "calm down love I'm only trying to negotiate my finder's fee for handing you, Dean." He says it like you should be grateful. As if he didn't spend four weeks breaking you into nothing.

You grab at the demon knife from Sam's hand. The knife he had been putting away when he'd grabbed you and you swing it from your position pinned against Sam. Desperate to reach Crowley and see him bleed, "how about for a finder's fee, I kill you nice and quick instead of slow and painful?"

"Moose control your strumpet before I leave. You won't find him without me."

You can feel Sam tense. Making a quick decision he uses all of his strength to pull you away, pressing you against your own truck and forcing you to look at him, "I know you want to hurt him, I do. I want to let you do it and I promise you one day you can, but he's right, we need him right now. This is how we get Dean back."

You were still planning on giving Sam's hold the slip until he those last words came tumbling out. Sam needs Dean back. The world needs Dean back. And though you don't know why. You need Dean back.

You can't answer him because you're terrified you'll snap again. Instead, you close your eyes, resigned, and nod. You wait by the truck, demon knife tapping against your leg as you listen to Crowley and Sam hash out the details. The only thing that gets you through is keeping your eyes closed and imagining the knife at your side as you sink it into his chest. It's a beautiful enough daydream to bring a smile to your face.

 


 

You're not sure how Sam got you to agree with this. Whether it was his stupid puppy dog eyes or the fact that his plan had an ounce of sense to it. But somewhere deep inside you knew he was right, the stupid move was both of you going in there guns blazing.

So, you're playing the odds.

Sam is in there, with Dean and you're here, only wondering how it's going down. You're the backup because Dean is a demon, with the mark of Cain and the first blade. It seems pretty likely this is a backup situation.

That doesn't mean you're sitting around with your thumb up your ass though. You're loading devil trap bullets into your gun, checking on the holy water in your flask, anything you can to distract yourself. Preparing everything you might need to bring down a demon.

Even a demon like Dean.

Of course, it's the second that you look down at the time on your dash, noting how many minutes Sam has been in there when all hell breaks loose.

Sargent stupid is back and this time he's throwing something through the window of the bar. Seconds later as you see the smoke filling the place you put two and two together.

This asshole.

You move as quickly as you can but Sam is already coughing his way out the door as you reach Cole. He knocks Sam out and at the same time you lean back on one foot and launch a boot into his back.

He falls to his knees but still looks up at you like you're nothing but a distraction while you hiss, "what the fuck did you do?"

"What I had to," he answers as he sweeps your feet out from under you causing you to fall to the floor. Your head hits the concrete hard, not enough to render you unconscious but it knocks you for six.

Everything is kind of blurry as you struggle to regain control of your senses. All you can see is two fuzzy figures fighting along with grunts and the sounds of fists connecting. You attempt to sit up and steady yourself when you hear him. That voice that you recognize without being able to focus on the features. Except it's lower, darker and it settles in your stomach uncomfortably like a bad burrito.

"Dean!", it's the only thing you can think to do as your vision begins to piece itself back together. As you watch him pummel and taunt the poor schmuck who has no idea what he's gotten himself into.

And suddenly everything becomes clear as a bell when Dean with one hand pinning Cole down and the other holding the blade to his throat turns to you and breaks out into a grin, "oh I'll get to you sweetheart."

It's Sam that saves the day in the end, it always was going to be. You were too stunned to move. You were just the backup.

You're just about on your feet when he douses Dean in holy water and cuffs him just as fast.

"Stop. It’s over. It’s over.”

As you come up behind the pair Dean looks murderously at Sam and spits out through gritted teeth, "It's far from over Sammy."

And then he turns looks at you, black replacing emerald, and he winks. 

Chapter Text

Every time Dean screams or grunts from the injections being shoved into him you think the sound seeps into the very walls of the bunker. Or maybe it's just your skin that absorbs them. 

You'd screamed like that on more than one occasion. Beyond the point of snappy comebacks where it's not a conscious decision to make a noise. It's just pain escaping your body however it can. It didn't last long but every time he screamed like that you wondered how Sam was doing it because for you? Your pain was too fresh. Dean's screams made all the scars on your body tingle uncomfortably.

Sam only comes out occasionally but when he does you see a little bit more of him chipped away. Like the cure is taking directly from his humanity and passing it on to Dean. Even if that was the case you know Sam would continue. He's told you he's prepared to kill Dean if it doesn't work but you don't need to be a psychic to know he's lying through his teeth. He's only alluded to what cruelty Dean is spitting at him in there and you remind him that's not Dean, you make him say it over and over again before he goes back through the door.

That's not my brother.

It's not like you have an intimate knowledge of this situation. It's not like your own sister decided to mess with you like this. It's not like you still lie awake at night chanting over and over again.

That wasn't your sister.

From what Sam has told you it's getting near the end. Shit or bust. In a few short hours, Dean will either be human again or well, he won't be.

Expecting the home stretch to be the easy part is what makes it that much more shocking when, sitting in the library pouring yourself over the books and papers detailing the cure, the lights cut out. Not just where you are but every corridor that you can see is cast in the same red glow while an alarm blares in the background. You don't know what's happening, but you do know this can't be good.

You cautiously move across the room with the intention to head towards Sam's room. It seems like the safest place to start your search and figure out what catastrophe has caused the sudden lockdown.  

"Smart, Sam. Locking the place down. Doors won't open. I get it."

It's that deep, demon version of Dean's voice that flows from all directions making it impossible to know where he is. It stops you in your tracks, your hand stills on your gun as it's tucked in your jeans, you taste your heart in your throat.

He got out. 

"But here's the thing. I don't want to leave. Not till I find you."

You frown at the suggestion of a sick version of hide and seek. In your experience, the game has never ended well playing it in this bunker.

There's a clatter that you're sure Dean heard to since he pauses his taunts to listen, so you start to follow the sound hoping to reach Sam before Dean does.

"Sammy. You're just making this worse for yourself man. Oh and by the way you can blame yourself for me getting loose. All that blood you pumped into to make me human? Well, the less demon I was the less the cuffs worked."

You almost chuckle as you move. It was working and if you can get hold of him again it can finish working. He's becoming more human, more Dean.

"And that devil's trap? Well, I just walked right across it. It smarted. But still."

You do laugh at that one. You can't help it. It's such a delirious feeling that floods your brain that you let out one brief, victorious, "ha!" before you manage to clamp your hand over your mouth.

You almost think you've got away with it until you hear him again.

"Is that you Y/N? Well, well looks like we're having a two for one special." He pauses, and you can hear his footsteps, too close for comfort. "And everything must go."

Suddenly you're not walking back towards the library anymore. You're running in that practiced, silent way of yours in the opposite direction. You're moving practically sideways, your back against the wall and your eyes darting from side to side.

You want to say it makes it easier to run and hide when the lights return to normal and that dull alarm, that was dampening your hearing, goes off. But one the alarm is gone it’s replaced with a smashing in the distance. Metal against wood that you inherently begin to distance yourself from, that is until Sam's voice calls out over the noise.

"Dean! Stop that!"

Horror settles in your gut at the thought of what might have happened. Some door, somewhere, is still being smashed to pieces and it's likely the only thing holding Dean in or out. You finally settle on a direction heading towards the men. It's not a hard decision this time, no amount of fear is going to make you turn around again.

"I don't want to use this blade on you."

Your feet pick up their speed when Sam hollers again.

"Look if you come out of that room, I won't have a choice."

"Sam, no!" You find yourself shouting into the abyss. It doesn't stop them though. It doesn't stop the sound of their confrontation as it develops or the finality of wood splintering that tells you he's out of whatever room Sam lured him to.

You turn the next corner and then a hand wraps around your throat from behind, "well what do we have here?"

The fingers on your neck aren't squeezing hard enough to choke you, yet, but it's enough of an implied threat to stop you in your tracks and make your breath hitch.

"Dean."

Quick as a flash he spins you around to face him, your back is pressed into the wall as he switches out his hand at your throat for his forearm over your chest.

"Hiya sweetheart, did you miss me?"

Your defense mechanism cuts in when face to face with demon Dean, you smirk at him like it's all a game. Hoping it's all a game. "Like the sun misses the moon."

But Dean doesn't respond to the sarcasm in your tone, he takes everything nice and slow, cocking his head and running his tongue over his lower lip as he brushes a piece of hair out of your face with his free hand. His eyes are dark but not demon black. They're his green, but deeper like jade, laced with something else besides evil.  

He leans in and his lips graze the shell of your ear as his voice drawls leisurely, "honey I know how true that is. Crowley's been in that head of yours remember, I know exactly what you think about me."

That stops you, stops the snarky reply on the tip of your tongue. And he doesn't let the silence go unnoticed, pulling back to look you in the eyes as he continues your humiliation.

"How many times sweetheart? How many times on those lonely nights for all those months did you have to finish texting me with one hand because you were thinking about me? Thinking about me being there with you in those shitty motel room beds."

He's a demon. It's the demon talking. You dust off the mantra you thought you'd retired.

"Don't flatter yourself. I'd have fucked Crowley if I was desperate enough." You almost gag saying it.

Dean laughs at you like your attempt at standing up to him is just so adorable. You suppose it is. The fire in your belly isn't hated or anger, the emotions you normally rely on to kill monsters. It's hurt, betrayal and embarrassment. All those pesky things that make you vulnerable.

It's that vulnerability that makes you quiver when he runs a finger over your lips, "Oh he thought about it but apparently even the king of hell has standards."

That stings like a slap across the face. Not that Crowley might have spoken about you like that, you couldn't care less, it cuts you that Dean is the one saying this. Even though it's the demon in him there's a part of you that just can’t comprehend the difference. It's not some hallucination you'll wake up from, it's actually Dean physically holding you in place and letting these words come out.

"Plus, after what you did to him, well even I wouldn't be able to get it up after that."

You audibly gasp at his confession.

"That's right sweetheart, I know all your dirty little secrets. All the things you did. I'd be impressed if you hadn't given up on your calling. Seems like you did a damn fine job murdering folks."

"I didn't…" passes your lips almost breathlessly. He doesn't just know but he knows, and the demon side likes it. The twisted, perverted version of Dean, that will kill Sam if he gets the chance, is praising you for the blood on your hands.

"Hey, it's ok. I'm not gonna judge you sweetheart. In fact," you feel his breath ghost over your cheek, "it's kinda hot."

You almost give in. You almost melt right there. It would be so easy to fall into this demon’s arms who is so accepting of your past, with Deans face and voice and everything.

Well, everything except Dean.  

Another crash from somewhere in the distance saves you from yourself. Sam. The cure. All of it comes back to you like a bolt of lightning. It's may not be your finest moment of fighting prowess, but you do what any woman would with a man looming over her and only one good access point.

Your knee comes up faster than he can react, connecting with his groin a little harder than you intended. His face twists painfully as he takes a struggling step away from you, setting you free for just enough time to run. The only thing in your head is keeping one foot in front of the other. Make it to Sam, warn him.

Your head connects to the wall with a crunch that might be your skull splitting in two. You fall to the floor with a thud, trying to fathom what happened, not that you need to ask. In the next moment, Dean stands there looking at you, hands on his knees as he tells you a bedtime story before your world goes dark.

"I'm just going to go kill my brother with a hammer and then we'll try that again sweetheart."

 


 

The pounding in your head must be what wakes you up because it's brutal and insufferable. You've been carefully laid on a bed although, you note, not the bed you'd been calling your own for these past weeks of staying here. Once you groggily make your way out of the room you see a trickle of blood against the wall outside. Which explains that it was simply the closest bed to where you'd been knocked out. The sight of the blood itself makes you automatically raise your hand to your head to feel the sticky clump that's drying in your hair.

You feel dizzy just from standing and worse still trying to figure out who won the war. Good or evil?  

The bunker is eerily quiet. If you didn't know any better, you would think that nobody is home. Your entire, slow journey to the kitchen and not a sound. 

Every step makes your head ooze discomfort, but the kitchen holds the promise of water, and who knows, if you find somebody then maybe an answer or two.

When you find the kitchen as empty as everywhere else you pour yourself a glass, sipping it gently before you collapse into the nearest chair at the map table. Just taking a few moments for your brain and body all catch up with each other.

Sam comes down the stairs then, making you wonder why you didn’t hear the door of the bunker. Although you’re probably just distracted by the smell he brings with him. Hot and greasy meat. You know you must have been out for a while, but you definitely weren't out long enough that Sam is about to eat whatever monstrosity is in the paper bag.

"It worked?" you ask although it comes out more of a groan, whether it's your head or your own hunger you're not sure.

Sam smiles and it’s answer enough. He confirms though, making a grin spread across your face, "he's back."

"How? I mean, he was going to… he wanted to kill you." You can't completely erase grin as you ask but Sam doesn't seem to mind you grinning as you ask about his attempted assignation. He's still half smiling as he answers.

"Cass helped. We gave him the last dose and it worked." He shrugs holding the bag up, "and now I'm an enabler."

Sam's relief is evident in every word and movement. Every muscle seems to have been relieved of its tension. The determined, tightly wound man of the last few weeks has been completely erased.  

You start to feel that relief yourself. You'd been holding onto your own anxiety since back in the hospital. Yours sat in that sweet spot right between your shoulder blades which basically means your own arms have been a burden for weeks. Now there's this slow softening of the stress although, you're remiss to admit, it doesn't disappear completely.

"I'm really happy for you Sam. And Dean." It's not a lie but perhaps it's not the whole truth either.

Before he can open his mouth you're somehow, magically, on your feet, "I'm going to go sort my head out, take one of those very strong pills the doctors gave me and then I'm going to sleep for about five months. Go. Feed your brother.”

 


 

It didn't take you long to pack but that was true of anywhere. Some clothes here, a few weapons there, not forgetting a trip to the shower room for your things. Good skincare was hard to find without leaving it here and for one of them to inevitably steal.

Then came the actual leaving part.

Your original, totally cowardly, plan was to sneak out and leave a note. You'd actually tried writing it a few times but they all came out really sappy or sad and you wanted your departure to be neither. Then you considered just leaving, no note, maybe a call from the road. While a better plan in the short term that also seemed like a good way to make them angry, which is the last thing they need. 

So instead you sat in the library the next day, your duffel on the table, reading a lore book while you waited for whichever of them might find you first.

And God, did you hope it was Sam.

You still hadn't seen Dean since he threw you into a wall. Or the demon did. Whatever. It was all a messy blurry line between who did what. Although, as messy as it was, it had nothing to do with you trying to leave.

No, what he’d done wasn’t pushing you out the door, it was what he knew. Dean knew about your history now, all those things you'd done that made you ashamed to look in the mirror sometimes. The things that you had to swallow and push down whenever you held a knife in your hands. Dean knew it all, the worst parts of your soul, the reasons you would one day go to hell, and you couldn’t bear to see him look at you with that knowledge. 

"You're leaving." Thankfully it was Sam and it wasn't a question either. His tone was disappointed, sure, but he wasn't dumb enough to not piece together what was in front of him.

You snap the book in front of you shut as you look up, armed with the peppy cheer you'd been practicing for just such an occasion, "I've overstayed my welcome in your humble abode and it's time I was moving on."

He fakes a laugh, which seems harsher coupled with the unamused look on his face, "don't pretend this is about you not being welcome."

"I'm sorry Sam. I really am. I've just got to get out of here, you wouldn't understand."

Sam takes a seat opposite you, his face expectant yet empathetic at the same time. Like some giant Dr. Phil. "Y/N you're the only one that knows all of the things I've done to get Dean back, even the things you weren’t here for I told you about. Please, just try me."

When enough people ask you to open up eventually one of them gets through. And this one isn't anyone, it's Sam, the person you've spent every waking moment with searching for Dean. You haven't spent that much constant time with somebody else in, well around seven years, five months and, if you have your dates right, eleven days.

"Sam you'll do anything for your brother and he'll do anything for you. And people call you out on that for being a weakness but look at you both, still here because no matter what you two manage to save each other every damn time."

You take a steadying breath, but it does nothing but make your voice quake even more.

"I tried to keep my sister out of this life to protect her. We didn't grow up in it like you guys, we grew up in group homes and it sucked but we always had each other. As soon as I got my parent's life insurance at eighteen I bought a house and got a job and got my little sister out of care. I was a full-blown civilian, hell, I was a homeowner. Then when I finally learned that Casper wasn't such a friendly ghost she was going off to college. It was perfect timing, I went on the road with Alex, the guy who taught me everything, and she got to live a normal life. Hunting felt like the thing I'd always been missing but my sister was going to have a career and kids and everything she ever wanted. I was going to make sure of it."

Your eyes have been unfocused in front of you as your fingers trace over a knot in the table, but you raise your eyes to Sam. Now that the gates are open there's nothing to stop the flood.

"I always thought if I met the Winchesters I'd have a problem with you. Not that you deserved it, I get that but, my sister was one of the special children. Not that I knew anything about that until it was too late. When she turned twenty-two and it all started for her I'd been on the road almost four years. She had no idea what I did, and she was alone and she kept everything to herself. She thought she was going crazy. Then, poof. She was gone."

You have to look away now. His eyes are boring into you taking in every word and, smartly, not interrupting but you can't keep looking into them. Those endless pools of sympathy underneath a concerned brow. You don’t deserve it. 

"Took me months to find out about Cold Oak. I get there, and I find her, and all the rest of them, and… did you know they just left them all thrown in a ditch? All one hundred and thirty-eight of them. Every kid that got zapped there and killed just left to rot like they weren't even people. I burned them all, I couldn't leave them to become ghosts in that place. But see here's the whole point. Me? I was weak. I was stubborn and idealistic. I couldn't do it what you and Dean always find a way of doing. I couldn't find a way to bring her back and I couldn't make a deal. The idea of dealing with a demon made me want to swallow a bullet. So, I went dark instead, I'm talking off the reservation. I did things- well, let's just say I got my just desserts in that warehouse.” 

He grumbles at that and you know the same attempt Dean had made at telling you you’re wrong is itching to be spoken. But you hold a hand up to stop him. 

“I really did Sam, I deserved it. And Dean knows. He knows what I am and what I did. Crowley told him everything."

"Y/N…" Sam finally starts but you know there's nothing he could say that will change your mind.

You shake your head. "It's not like you're getting rid of me. I have a room now, I've got clothes I've left in there and everything. I don't care how many Playboy bunnies Dean has over, that's my room now. But you guys, you need to take a break and more than anything I need to get back to work."

With that, you stand up ignoring the heavy air that has settled into the room during your confessions, and unhappy to find the weight on your shoulders no lighter. 

"So, you're not even going to say goodbye to him? You're just going to run away?" You're a little taken aback by Sam's tone. He's angry at you. He's protecting his brother sure, you get that, but Sam is really angry at you for not saying goodbye. 

"It's better this way. Dean, he's-"

"Better for you. He need’s us right now Y/N. I think he needs you.” 

The words don't make sense in your head. What could Dean possibly need from you?

"No Sam. He needs you. Dean needs his brother."

Sam isn’t happy but he also can’t argue his way out of it. Sam was the one that saved Dean just like Sam always would. 

You pick up your bag and clap a hand to his shoulder, managing a weak smile, before you walk up to the door with him on your tail. 

"Look after each other, ok?" you say into the daylight as it hits your face, making you squint. 

Sam is pursuing his lips as you turn to take one last look at him, "I thought you said this wasn't goodbye?"

"It's not, just a reminder."

It’s unexpected when he leans in and wraps his arms around you in a hug that's almost bone crushing, especially considering his anger moments ago. But you curl into it and close your eyes anyway. Hugging them both if it were possible. 

"Tell him I'm sorry and I forgive him."

The last thing Sam says to you, as he finally lets you go is, "remind me, why can't you tell him yourself?"

You take backward steps towards your truck as your shrug, “I’m a coward I guess.” 

Chapter Text

Two months later

Normally you're a big fan of rain and not just because of your hopefully still secret obsession with The Notebook. On this hunt, being vampires of all things, rain is one of the most helpful gifts mother nature can give you.

The steady patter of heavy rainfall covers the sounds of your boots in the mud. The slickness that comes with being soaked to the skin means none of the bloodsuckers can get a real good grip while you fight them back. And above all else, once you're done beheading the lot of them, the rain washes away all your sins, all that blood.

Yes, you normally love the rain. Except for this time. Your wet clothes clinging tightly to you wouldn't normally be a problem, there's just the little matter of that bullet lodged inside you.

It's not exactly in an ideal position for you to perform the normal battleground surgery required for its removal. Sure, it's not life-threatening, as long as you stop the bleeding, but you're going to need some help in the long run.

You don't want to visit a hospital because that involves pesky things like 'questions', especially when guns are involved. Plus, you want a quick job, grip it and rip it. You want to get back on the road in search of your next job.

Working constantly has been incredibly therapeutic these last months. There's something purifying about being back on the road with nothing but cases to work, like the old days. And working provides wonderfully violent outlets for all that anger you harbor inside. It's not exactly healthy to transfer all your pent-up rage, at Crowley and your sister and the world, into killing monsters. It's effective of course but not healthy.

You're not sure if it's working long term, and you're not sure if you'll ever be truly healed but some nights you manage to sleep without nightmares. Some days you don't have any flashbacks from your month of fun trapped in that warehouse. And those odd days and nights of freedom are progress enough for now.

It's that small hope of getting better and needing to get back to work that sends you where you're going. The place you've avoided since you left. You've worked cases mere miles from there, but you always convinced yourself not to bother them. Slept in the back of your truck instead. It's not like you were curious about how they were or anything. It's not like you missed them.

But now here you are staring that heavy metal door in the face.

You fist pounds heavily on the reinforced steel as you try to shout over the rain, "strippergram, open up."

It's an agonizing few minutes before the door opens to reveal Dean grinning, "do I get to pick the song?"

He looks good. Better than he had the last time you saw him. He doesn't ask why you're here or slam the door in your face like he would be so justified in doing after your months of radio silence. He just smiles all the way to his eyes and looks you up and down, wet and shivering all the way to your toes.  

"Well, I'm sure you know the stripper song back catalog. But before I dance around for you I need a favor."

Maybe he is punishing you in his own way as he puts a finger on his chin, agonizingly slowly, more than aware that you're still standing in the wet, "I'm not really supposed to talk to strangers."

You flinch, even though he's joking, but luckily in the rain, it just looks like another chill running through you.

"Where are my manners, my names Buffy. I'm a vampire slayer, stripping is just a side gig." You hold out your hand to shake his, which he does but not without a small laugh at your choice of alias.

"Come on in Buffy, I think I have just the song for you."

You groan happily once you're inside the door, the warmth of the bunker enveloping you like a fluffy blanket. You're so happy to be out of the rain that you're completely ignoring Dean as he lists some of his favorite songs on his fingers, with an analysis of what makes each one a good choice for taking your clothes off.

It's only when he notices you limping down the stairs that his voice loses its amused lilt and he huffs, "seriously? Again? How are you still alive?"

You spin around at the bottom of the stairs, holding your hands up defensively, "this one was totally not my fault."

There's the eye roll you were expecting, you're half surprised it took this long, "what happened?"

"Get me a beer and promise me you won't laugh and maybe I'll tell you."

He obliges returning from the kitchen a minute later with two cold bottles and a straight face. He doesn't yet ask why you haven't sat down and with one sentence he doesn't need to.

"Ok, so I kind of got shot. In my ass."

Dean lasts all of ten seconds, maybe not even that, before he's laughing his ass off. Not literally like you of course. He laughs so deeply that he feels the need to wipe a pretend tear away when he finally stops. "I need to hear this story."

"Can I tell it while you're getting it out, please? Because it stings like a mother."

"It's still in there?" He seems surprised and his eyes flick briefly to your backside while his eyebrows shoot up, however you are starting to get frustrated.

"Of course, it is. It's not exactly an easy area for me to do it myself. I put something on it to stop the bleeding, but I require some assistance. If you would be so inclined?" You motion dramatically with your hand to the affected area.

"To go digging in your ass? You're asking me to boldly go where no man has ever gone before?"

You've fallen back into the teasing so easily that you can't help but grin with a faraway look in your eyes, "actually…"

He waves his hands in front of him, "ok, ok. I'll do it just stop talking."

Which is how you end up face down on your bed, wet jeans and underwear bunched around your ankles while Dean gets the first aid kit and the 'strong stuff'. You're lying there hoping that it's for disinfecting rather than his consumption when you hear the door open.

"Fuck, warn a guy next time."

You reach an arm behind you to tap the butt check that doesn't have a bullet encased in it, "don't tell me it's your first ass, Winchester?"

You can't see his face, but you hear a small groan, "you're funny. Why you don't you tell me how this happened while I get down to business."

"Oh, so professional. Must be all that Dr. Sexy you watch." You hiss as he peels the bloody bandage from your skin exposing it to air. "Careful, I would like to keep my butt looking this good. Anyway, I was a couple of towns over taking care of a vamp nest."

"Wait, you drove here?" he interrupts while he cleans up the dried blood, again more hissing from you.

"How do you think I got here? By wishing? And yes, it hurt like a bitch to sit on the whole way. Now stop interrupting me. As I was saying, it's all going fine, and by fine, I mean chop, chop, chop. I took out four of them when- HOLY FUCKING SHIT DEAN!"

His hands move away from you quickly with your sudden volume, so you shake your head. "I'm sorry, keep going but you talk about giving warnings?"

"You told me not to interrupt." He mutters as he leans over to resume his hunt for the bullet.

You grit your teeth, bearing down to take the pain. It's not your first time being shot so the sensation of having a bullet taken out is not new, but it is definitely the first time Dean has been the one taking it out of you. You don't, or can’t, speak again until you hear the bullet clink on the table, finally free, "well obviously interrupt me to say you're going to poke tweezers around, inside of me, and dig the thing out."

"What happened with the vamps?" He asks trying to keep you distracted while he's disinfecting you again.

You're on to his clever distraction ploy but you play along, talking through bared teeth and somehow managing to get the words out. Although in short, stunted sentences, "one of them. Hiding under bed. Must have been new. Tried to shoot me. Instead of going full vamp. Good for me. Bad for the junk. In my trunk."

Finally, he's putting a bandage over the wound and you let out a breath you didn't realize you'd been holding.

"Well that wasn't so bad was it?" he patronizes you sweetly while you, not so elegantly, try to roll off the bed in your half-naked state.

When you fail, to be elegant at least, and just end up in a heap you whine from the floor, "ok doctor you're done, get out so I can get dressed please."

Surprisingly he leaves without a comment about you staying undressed which allows you to, very carefully, change. When you join him again in the library it's the first time you notice the elephant in the room or the man mountain not in this one.

"Where's Sam?"

He smirks into his beer, apparently amused that you have only just now noticed the lack of Sam's presence. "He's on a milk run. I had some lore to look into."  

"Okay," you drag out the word as you get your previously opened beer and sit with him on the sofa, fidgeting awkwardly until you're in a comfortable position that doesn’t lean on the bullet hole. "Are you guys hunting separately a lot or…?"

He shifts a little in his seat, "no, like I said, just had some things to look into."

You don't want to push him since this is the first time you've seen or spoken to him in two months and if you're completely honest, you did miss him.

It's not like you hadn't thought about texting from the road. It's not like you didn't spend the first few weeks writing messages a couple of times a day only to delete them, because the longer you waited the more you had to say. But sitting here with him now you feel stupid and crazy. Stupid for not texting and crazy for leaving.

"So, you've got no time to hang out with little ol' me then since you've got all this important lore to look through?"

Then there's that voice again, the one that you always know is him even if he's not in the room. "Lucky for you sweetheart, I'm all done reading."

 


 

You'd watched TV for hours, never really settling on one thing. Something would be on for ten minutes and you'd argue over it the entire time until you changed channels and did it all over again. Somewhere along the way, he made you both grilled cheese and after that, you'd started drinking whiskey instead of beer. Doctors orders. Because you'd been shot, you deserved it.

Dean hadn't let that go either. He'd asked you multiple times to tell him exactly how it happened until, at one point, you'd acted it out for him. You think you really brought the character of Y/N to life, however, he said your vampire was a little one dimensional. That's when you heard the story of him being turned before, albeit briefly, so maybe that was why he was such a critic.

Not once did he look at you like you were a monster. In fact, every time he'd looked at you it had made you forget that monsters had ever existed.

Or maybe that was the whiskey.  

What you don't remember is falling asleep or how you got to your bed, which is where you woke up. Lying on your front with your limbs in all directions, looking like the chalk outline from Clue.

It's when you sit up and see Dean sitting in the chair in the corner, well slumped might be a better term, that you figure out how you got there.

"Hey dummy," you whisper as you gently shake his shoulder. It doesn't take much to wake him, you learn that Dean is a light sleeper as he shudders awake looking up at you with a dopey smile.

"Go lay down in your actual bed for a bit and I'll make pancakes."

"Pancakes?", his voice is thick with sleep. You've never heard it like that, all low and lazy.

"Mm-hmm. But you can't be comfortable like this, lie down, just for half an hour."  

You don't hang around to check he does as he's told or see the smile on his face get wider. You're already on your way to the kitchen to make some coffee in an attempt to eliminate your hangover before it really starts.  

It's strange how familiar you are with the place having not been here for months. But then they're both creatures of habit. The coffee is in the same place, above the sink. The rarely used ingredients like flour are in the back of the same cupboard they always are. The syrup is in the fridge next to the milk. All of these things you remember like you might remember in your own home. It's comfortable and warm to putter around with mixing bowls and heating skillets.

"Dean?" Sam's voice carries into the room and you lean out of the doorway and put on an entirely serious face. 

"Quiet, he's sleeping."

Sam's face lights up bright when he sees you and once he's down the stairs he picks you up in a quick but tight hello. "What are you doing here?"

"What does it look like? Making pancakes. You want some?"

"Sure, erm. But what about Dean?"

You finish whisking your batter, pulling out the whisk dramatically, like the TV chefs do, to check the consistency. "I told you he's sleeping." You neglect to mention that he’d fallen asleep in the chair in your room while you slept in the bed. That doesn't seem relevant.

"He's sleeping?"

You don't mean to look so exasperated at Sam but you're not sure why he's finding the scenario of you making pancakes in his kitchen while Dean sleeps so difficult to grasp.

"I rolled in last night with a minor little, teeny, tiny injury," you skilfully slip over the ass aspect, "and Dean patched me up. Then we hung out for a while. Had a little too much to drink, Dean fell asleep in a chair, so I told him to catch some shut-eye in his actual bed while I make pancakes. Coffee?"

You start pouring him some not waiting for an answer, but Sam is still preoccupied.

"Dean seems ok to you? Like he wasn't distracted or distant? Withdrawn maybe?"

"No. I mean his taste in TV is still terrible as ever, but he was fine. Why?"

Sam takes the coffee from you but immediately puts it down on the counter without taking a sip. That should be warning enough. "Dean's been getting worse, with the mark and some things that have happened. It's been almost a week. I haven't been able to get him to leave the bunker, he stays in his room or the library reading lore books and..."

"That's what he said he was doing when I got here, reading. But I asked him to take a break and we just hung out." Even as you're saying it you try to comb through any memories from last night. Any potential lingering weirdness that might be mark of Cain related. Is it weird that you come up with nothing? Dean was just Dean. Honestly, he was the same Dean who used to text you dumb one-liners after finishing a job. You joked and drank and besides the fact that he fell asleep in your room it was a pretty normal night.

"Sammy can I speak to you a minute?" Dean's voice appears from behind Sam and you both turn to see him standing there, arms crossed, looking pretty much terrifying. 

Sam steps out of the kitchen and they go far enough that you can't overhear them although the odd word does reach you. Not enough to make any sense though and after mere seconds you feel weird for trying to listen in, even unintentionally. Instead, you distract yourself by pouring out your first pancakes onto the hot griddle.

"Would you shut up I am not asking."

"But what if it makes a difference Dean. I mean she clearly-"

"You keep your mouth shut."

The end of their conversation is louder and more forceful than the rest. Loud enough that you couldn't help but hear the tail end before they both trudge back into the kitchen.

You try to break the tension as best you can, "coffee's in the pot Dean. Pancakes will be a few minutes."

Dean makes the sort of satisfied noise that only comes out of him at the mention of food and Sam's eyes bulge at his reaction, which earns him a nudge as Dean grabs a mug.

Ignoring them both you keep working, unaware of the silent continuation of their conversation taking place behind you. That is until you turn around with a stack of now cooked pancakes to find them giving each other the weirdest looks you're ever seen.

"Right. Not weird. Breakfast is up."

 


 

Sam has managed to avoid you for hours now, which is a testament to how insanely huge the bunker is, not his sneakiness. Sam cannot pull off sneaky. His height alone casts shadows you can see from miles away.

It’s later in the afternoon when you eventually find him in the electrical room of all places, reading.

"Hope you're not hiding from me?"

Amusingly he very almost falls off of his chair at the sound of your voice. Serves him right. "No, not hiding at all. I was just… what's up?"

You smirk as he gives up on trying to make an excuse. "I wanted to ask, erm, what you were saying this morning. How bad has he got?"

"I was hoping if I stayed out of the way he'd talk to you." 

"So, you were hiding?" You quickly counter.

Sam sighs, "yes but not from you."

He nods to another chair near him, silently inviting you to sit down. You do, but it somehow feels like when a teacher would ask to see you after class. You're automatically feeling guilty for something you haven't done.

"I'm worried about him Y/N. He's worried about him. That's why he's on this self-imposed lockdown."

You nod to yourself, "I get that, the mark isn't exactly known for sunshine and rainbows. But what does that have to do with me?"

Sam's face turns guilty like he's revealed a big secret, you find yourself rushing to reassure him, "you guys aren't as quiet as you think. I mean I only heard the tail end but I heard you mention asking me something?"

He runs his hand through his hair and you almost jibe him to stop fishing for compliments on his silky locks, but the air is thick in electrical. Sam is buzzing as much as the machines you're surrounded by.

"I can't really say. But just know that he cares about you."

"I know", you start aimlessly. "I care about him too."

He shakes his head, "no, you don't get it. I don't even think Dean gets it. When we still had the blade, I couldn't convince him to leave it here on a salt and burn. He practically slept with the damn thing in his arms, when he did sleep. But when we found you in that warehouse and he saw you… he just dropped it. Dropped it like it was a piece of junk he'd found at the side of the road. And last night you're here and suddenly he's sleeping again."

You still don't mention the fact that Dean slept in your room. It doesn't even cross your mind because you're so preoccupied with trying to work out what Sam is saying.

"What so you think I'm like some anti-mark or…?"

He looks at you with a mixture of disbelief and utter frustration. He looks at you like he's considering shaking some sense into you and only just resisting the urge. 

"No Y/N, I'm saying that you need to talk to Dean."

 


 

Sam's words repeat in your head as if you might understand them the more you replay them. You're so consumed with the puzzle that you're surprised to find yourself at Dean's door. It's open while he's sitting on his bed with his back against the wall, using his propped up leg to support the massive book he’s reading. You're never seen him so involved or concentrated in lore.

You sit at the end of the bed making it sink under you. It’s surprisingly comfortable to sit here considering the bullet hole. "Hey."

Despite your close proximity and weight on the bed, he looks at you like he had no idea you were there until that very second, "oh hey."

"I need to ask you something."

He nods, eyes returning to the lore in front of him, "shoot."

Even you're not expecting what comes out of your mouth next, but you know it's something that has been nagging at you for far longer than whatever Sam is getting at. 

"When-when I was in the hospital, before you, well, before you died. You text me that you were sorry. I guess I've been wondering what you were sorry about?"

He doesn't seem surprised at your question. He looks resigned to it like he's been waiting every day for you to ask. Even the answer itself seems like he's rehearsed it in his head a thousand times before. "That was when I started working with Crowley. He had the first blade and it was the only way I could kill Metatron. But after what he did to you, I thought…"

"You thought you owed me an apology for trying to save the world?" Your smile is small but it's there.

He shrugs, "well when you put it like that."

It’s not until that very second that you decide to try and push your luck since he seems so chatty, "what about this morning? I heard Sam tell you to ask me something?"

The last thing you expect is the reaction you get. He jumps up and takes a step back like the close quarters on the bed, with you, was suddenly too close for comfort. "We're not doing that."

You jump up yourself but only to maintain the conversation at eye level, "doing what exactly?"

"Asking you to stay. He's being an idiot and I'm not doing it like that." He doesn't seem to realize he's given you a somewhat coherent, actual truth.

"Asking me to stay?" You repeat, testing the words in your mouth to make sure they're what he just said. "Why would you ask me that? What do you mean you're not doing it like that?"

He's agitated now. You can see it's with himself for opening his mouth, but it doesn't stop his jaw setting tightly while he’s looking at you. "It doesn't matter. I know you probably want to get back on the road soon."

He's actually pushing you now. He has one hand on your shoulder and the other one is in front of you guiding you to the door.

Suddenly you find yourself fighting him, digging in your heels and trying to turn around against his arm, "what the hell? I never said anything about leaving yet."

"You never do, but I know how you like to up and leave." You don't need to look into his eyes to know he meant that exactly how it sounded.

Now you're angry. Maybe not mark of Cain angry but what he said pisses you off. Not just because he's got a point.

"I left because I had my own shit to deal with Dean. The whole fucking world doesn't revolve around you."

You slap your hand to your mouth hoping that will in some way stop what has already come out, guilt mixing with the anger in your belly. But you don't have time to dwell on your mistake because he snarls back at you.

"Didn't even bother to say goodbye though did ya, sweetheart?" The nickname has never sounded so cruel as it does at this moment. In fact, it’s never sounded cruel at all till now. Not even as a demon did his voice sound like it would psychically hurt you if it could.

You can't help yourself. The overwhelming need to retaliate because you're right and he's an idiot.

"Boo hoo, I didn't say goodbye. You went fucking deep space nine. I thought you were dead! And then when you're not dead and I'm supposed to be happy about it you're a demon telling me my worst nightmares. So yeah, I'm sorry that I couldn't face saying 'bye Dean' after that!" It sounds like the furthest thing from an apology, dripping in venom and sarcasm. And you're staring wide-eyed at him, taking big uneven breathes that move your entire chest, shocked by your own rage but letting the anger course through you unfettered all the same.

He rises to the challenge your eye contact makes. His lip twists but in something so opposite from a smile that you've no description for it. His arms raise in mock defense except there's no joke behind the movement.

"No worries honey. I didn't cry myself to sleep or anything. With your track record, I think I dodged a bullet."

The mere implication of your past is enough to wind you. It knocks you back, away from him, until you find just enough of your voice, "go fuck yourself, Dean."

You say his name like you want to leave no room for confusion that he'd gone too far and you were done. But as you make fast movements to finally leave the room you forget you've got into an argument with a man that has the mark of Cain imprinted on his soul.

He follows you, his voice booming down the corridor behind you, "that's it, sweetheart, get packing. It's too hard right?"

"Guys, what is going on?" Sam chooses the worst possible moment to investigate what has now become a shouting match.

"Oh, nothing. Guess what Sam? I'm going to be staying for a while."

Sam is unsure at your tone, eyes darting between you both still trying to catch up, but plays along anyway, "that's great. You're always welcome. Did he…?"

But before Sam can finish both yourself and Dean explode at the same time.

"LIKE HELL ARE YOU STAYING, I WANT YOU OUT!"

"I WOULDN'T GIVE YOU THE GODDAMN SATISFACTION OF WATCHING ME LEAVE!"

It lasts minutes. The silence is so tense that you can feel it like a physical barrier between you both. Sam stuck there as collateral damage.

Finally, he pulls away first, although it looks like a struggle for him to do so with his fists clenched and the veins in his neck beating furiously. Dean's eyes flare one more time before he turns and stomps back to his room, prompting you to do the same.

Both doors slam almost in unison.

 


 

You hadn't seen either of them for the rest of the day. Staying locked in your room with nothing but your resentment as it continues to bubble away beneath the surface. Mercifully you passed out eventually, exhausted from being so incensed.

When you wake up early and pad your way to the shower room even that is done with pounding, flat-footed steps as if you're hoping to wake him.

His door doesn't flinch.

Your bad mood ruins your shower. Where normally it might cure everything that ails you instead it only serves to become a competition. What can release more steam, the jets of hot water or you, from rage alone? 

The shower wins, and you grind your teeth on your way back to your room.

It's only as you almost walk past it that you notice Dean’s door is open now.

"Between what I did to Charlie, and what I'm doing to Y/N…"

Your name stops you dead.

"Charlie forgave you. Y/N will too. How about you forgive yourself?"

You hear Dean chuckle, although not happily. "Because I'm not exactly batting a thousand here, you know?"

Sam's voice rises enough that you don't have to lean into the doorframe any more than you already are.

"Yeah, I do know that but staying locked up in here, sitting on the ground, reading the same lore books over and over again it's not helping you. Pushing Y/N away, trying to push me away, that's not helping you either. You need to get back in the game for your own good. You can beat this Dean."

"Do you really believe that?"

You're not even a part of this conversation, but it still causes a physical ache inside of you. To hear the tragedy in Dean's voice, the self-loathing. It's too much. You start backing away as cautiously as you can, not for fear of being discovered but because you're terrified that you won't be able to stand it anymore and scream. That you'll march right into the room and try to slap some sense into Dean Winchester.

You double back to the shower room and stare at yourself in the mirror for the longest time, hands gripping the sink with white knuckles while you try to figure out what is wrong with you. What is making you this way? A walking emotional disaster. Your life used to be so simple. You hunted monsters and on rare occasions, you took a few days to cut loose. Your life was simple even if you were running from Crowley. It was black and white and nothing in between. And now you're constantly torn between a thousand different points on the emotional spectrum with no clue why.

Maybe it was obvious? Maybe there was some clear and huge reason in front of you that you couldn't see. Was everyone else laughing at you for being so oblivious?

You'd spent too much time on your own. That was it. The years of self-sufficiency have left you a social moron. You were missing the big clue because you hadn’t had to spot them in so long. 

There's a knock at the door that startles you so much that a squeak comes out. A goddamn squeak.

When you shake it off and open up Sam's there smiling as if you didn't just overhear the conversation he’d just had. Because of course, he doesn't know that you did.

"Hey, erm. We're going to head out this morning. Think we've caught a case."

You desperately try to sound the right amount of normal and interested, "oh?"

He seems to buy it, "yeah someone is taking people and leaving just their clothes."

"An R-rated monster? Think he's into live-action porn?"

Sam pulls a face. If you didn’t know any better you’d think it’s Deja-vu. But who knows, with the way you’re doubting your own social skills right now it could be indigestion. 

"Yeah, maybe. Listen, I would have asked but after last night I didn't think you'd want to tag along."

You know well enough to know that's not an initiation either.

"No, that's- I probably need to wait out my war wound for a bit. But I'll be here when you guys get back."

Sam smiles at that like it's the best news he's heard all morning.

 


 

The first day they'd been gone you hadn't known what to do with yourself, so, not dealing with boredom well, you'd washed all of your clothes. Down to every last sock. And not being able to settle one or the other you'd returned half to the dresser in your room and packed the other half neatly in your duffle.  

The second day you'd washed all the sheets in the place, even from the unused rooms, before making your bed last. Curling up into a freshly washed cocoon of comfort even though it was only mid-afternoon. You'd accidentally slipped into sleep and woken up in the early hours of the morning. Obviously, the only course of action then was to eat a bag of chips while sitting cross-legged on top of the map table. On top of the world. 

Because you could.

Having the place to yourself was kind of like Risky Business without all the prostitution.

And it turns out chores and lawless bunker life was a great distraction from the things you still can't figure out. Lying in bed watching Netflix for hours means you don't have to think about your fight with him. Driving to get a pizza before eating the entire thing and passing out in a cheese induced coma stops you remembering how hopeless he'd sounded before he left.

It's day three when Sam calls you to check in. He tells you that everything is fine and they’re starting to head home. Rather cryptically he also asks you to play some Taylor Swift when they arrive and he promises to explain later. 

But that was the morning and now it’s the afternoon. You only hear the rumble of the Impala in the distance because you’re outside washing your truck, something you’ve not been able to do in forever. Besides briefly looking into the general direction of the sound you don’t stop what you’re doing since everyone knows applying the wax is the most crucial part of the process. 

You’re still working when the engine shuts off and a car door slams. 

“Sorry I raided your supplies but I can wash Baby when I’m done here if you want?” 

You never get an answer.

Instead, Dean marches towards you, quickly closing the gap until he's there. In your personal space and forcing you to stand up straight against him. One calloused hand comes up to your cheek as you try to blink away those green eyes that are staring at you mercilessly, but it’s impossible because they fill your vision edge to edge. 

“You stayed.”

And because even inches from his face you’re oblivious till the bitter end you smirk at him, “duh.” 

There was no slow leaning down to you to warn you what was happening. First, there was nothing then there was him. His lips on yours. It's somehow bruising and gentle all at once. Those perfect lips of his are softer than you ever could have imagined and his tongue over yours, in your mouth, tasting you, takes your breath away. And that's before you catch up. When your brain finally comprehends that Dean is kissing you and kissing you good, you might add, you wrap an arm around his neck like you're hanging on for dear life. Which you kind of are as you move your mouth against his, heat pooling in your center. 

When you finally break apart, breathless, panting, grinning like the world's biggest idiot he somehow still has enough air left to form words.

"You're staying." He adds, in case the future was not properly encompassed in his previous statement.

"You asking?"

He smiles and honestly you’re not sure if your whole body is on fire, "nah, telling."

"If you think-"

You never finish the thought with his lips against yours again. As cliche as it sounds, it’s difficult to care. 

Because you get the joke now. The gag you kept missing. You're pretty sure this, kissing Dean, him kissing you? It was the cosmic punchline that kept going over your head. 

And if that wasn't funny enough you’ll later find out that Dean was inspired by going through puberty for the second time.