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An Ounce of Courage

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Greencastle, Indiana

Running. Always running.

Ever since waking up five minutes ago, running had been the only thing she'd been able to do. Surrounded by grass that looked straight out of Jurassic Park, she hadn't slowed down yet. If she did, she was dead. She could hear in the back of her mind Don't go into the long grass! echoing through her thoughts. Which raised a good question. What do you do if you woke up in the long grass? It's not like she'd come here on purpose!

She found herself briefly wishing she could watch that movie again. One more time. It was good.

If only she hadn't picked up that damn ring. It had shown up out of nowhere on her table, and she'd picked it up simply out of curiosity. Where had it come from? Was there someone in her house?

Deep inside, she had been hoping that it had been a surprise engagement ring from the man she’d been seeing over the last three years. He seemed to be building up to it slowly, asking her about what she wanted in the future, telling her his dreams and sharing in hers. She got a warm feeling inside whenever he came over. The last half of the year she felt like he’d wanted to ask her something important, and her mind leaped to engagement the second she laid eyes on the beautiful golden ring.

It had three sections, two bands of gold twisting around a central band of diamonds in the middle. She had never seen such a beautifully crafted piece of jewelry, and her heart raced that it might have been made just for her.

The second she'd picked it up though, she was hurled through the air, the ring appearing on her finger as though by magic. The last she heard was "You’ll never take him from me!" right before she'd been slammed into the wall, blacking out.

And she'd woken to a nightmare.

She heard it closing in, each moment bringing her closer to her doom. Cursing, she grabbed her pink flip-phone out of her pocket. She'd forgotten that she'd picked it up before going into the dining room. Trying to dial while running at breakneck speeds ended up being one of the hardest things she'd ever done. She finally managed to get her sister's number up on the phone and hit the call button.

Ring...

"Please, please... pick up," she prayed under her breath. Spotting a tree up ahead, she dove under lower hanging branches, hoping to shake her pursuit, hiding in the brush. She ducked down. She could still hear it crashing around outside of the branches, searching for her.

"Hello?” A voice came over the phone.

"JENNY!" Gasping for breath, she dared to peer out of the brush. A massive paw swiped at her past the branches, black as night. A sharp claw snagged her arm, slashing straight through her jacket to the bone.

"Katie, is everything alright? Where are you?"

Choking on her own breath, she managed to get out, "I don't know, all I can see is grass and trees. The grass... it's taller than me! It's after me, I can't get away!"

"What's after you? The grass?"

"I dunno what it is," she whimpered, closing her eyes as it clawed at her legs. She grabbed onto the branch next to her head, trying to pull herself farther in, away from the claws and the creatures piercing eyes. The two toned eyes seemed to peer into her soul. She reached the trunk of the tree, grabbing a branch and hauling herself away from the ground. Maybe if she could get high enough...

"Did you call 911?"

"It's.... it's a cat, I think." She cried out again when it caught her leg, pulling her from the branch. It crept farther into the darkness of the tree, looming over her. "It's bigger than the house. Jenny! Help--" The phone fell from her hand when the creature pushed down with its paw. She screamed.

"....What? Katie, where are you?

"Katie? Answer me!"

"KATIE!"


Stratton, Nebraska

On a rare morning without a job, Dean Winchester found himself sitting outside, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. These occasions were so few and far between these days, they were supposed to be savored. Trying to stop the apocalypse from happening was incredibly consuming, taking up his and Sam's lives completely these days.

Yet here he was, no signs or omens or portents being reported, no seals breaking. The angels were quiet for the first time in months. He supposed they were busy being led on a merry chase by Anna, whom he'd helped escape from them right before their last case. He enjoyed the idea of Uriel on a wild goose chase, but felt bad for Castiel. The nerdy little angel actually seemed to care about the humans he was helping out. Uriel on the other hand seemed to only think about what he could smite next.

It was just so damn peaceful he didn't know what to do with himself. He hated every second of it.

Give him a case over this peace and quiet any day.

Their last job was finished, on a partially bad note. They'd saved the son, but not before the uncle had been killed by the crazy psycho bitch. And Dean couldn't help but compare himself to those shut in children, who'd never seen the sun and never known love or family. Raised like wild animals, they'd acted the same way. He hadn't been raised that way, but given the chance in hell, he'd become worse. His stomach tightened at the memories that thought brought back to him. Desperate for a distraction from these thoughts, he turned back to the newspaper he'd been combing for a job. He just needed to keep going, keep his head down and do the job the way Dad had taught him.

He hadn't seen Sam yet that morning. The kid was probably off running or some other fitness crap. Sam was becoming more of a health nut every day. Dean couldn't imagine giving up his bacon cheeseburgers for the health shakes he saw his brother eating on a regular basis. Gross.

So far that morning nothing in the newspaper had jumped out as a possible job. All he'd seen so far was the normal murder and disappearances. Nothing dark or shady going on, suspects already found for all of them. There were a few missing people reports as well, nothing outside of the normal for the area. He sighed, pushing away the paper. Was it so bad to hope for another job so soon? Anything to keep his mind off his memories from hell… and think about what he’d told Sam after their last job...

Lost in his thoughts, he didn't hear Sam coming up behind him until his kid brother dropped his laptop in front of Dean and sat down in one of the seats, arms crossed. Dean glanced up from his coffee. "What, no hello?"

Sam threw a bitchface Dean’s way at the attitude. "Thought you'd be happy. I found us a case.”

"Hmm?" Dean leaned forward, eagerly scanning the page the laptop was on quickly. If he had a case to distract himself from what a failure he was these days...

"So, in the article, a girl disappeared out of Greencastle, Indiana yesterday afternoon. No sign of a struggle, no signs of abduction, and her car is still at the house.” Sam said while Dean was reading through.

"Yeah, so? Girls disappear all the time. Doesn't mean it's our kind of thing. For all we know she could have gone on a hike cross country." Dean was still scrolling skeptically though the article, doubtful that finding a job would be this easy. He skimmed the paragraphs briefly.

Sam continued on while his brother was reading through the information. "Well, just wait till you get to the bottom. She was on the phone with her sister right when she disappeared. Her sister heard everything up until the phone call was dropped. And her sister - Jenny - said that right before the call cut out, she was screaming that she was being attacked by a cat." He met Dean’s surprised look at this.

Dean arched his eyes skeptically at Sam. "Killer cat? Did a tiger escape from the zoo?"

Sam leaned over and grabbed the laptop from Dean. He scrolled to the bottom of the article. "A killer kitty the size of a house."

Dean stared at the screen. "She's sure that's what she heard?"

"Yup."

"Sounds like our kinda thing."

"Yup."

Dean grinned. "What are we waiting for? We can be there by tomorrow." He grabbed his coffee and newspaper and was halfway to the Impala before Sam could grab his laptop to follow.


Greencastle, Indiana

"Hello, I'm Special Agent Osborne, this is my partner, Special Agent Wylde. We were hoping to ask you a few questions about your sister's disappearance the other day."

The small redhead glanced up at the two men standing next to her table. She seemed to be in fairly good condition from what Sam could see, all things considered. The girl put down the tissue she'd been wiping her eyes with and gave Dean a glare.

"Haven't I answered enough questions today? Why does the FBI care about what happened to my sister?" She turned away from the brothers, blowing her nose angrily.

Sam stepped in before Dean could upset the girl more. Sometimes he couldn't figure out how his brother managed to piss off people so quickly. It was practically his special talent. Luckily for Dean, Sam had much better 'people skills.' Sam had no idea what Dean would do without him sometimes.

"Ma'am, we just want to help. If there's anything you can tell us about how your sister disappeared, anything at all..."

She met his eyes uncertainly. Long wet trails down her cheeks reflected in the sunlight. Sam reached forward, gently taking her free hand in his. He gave her his most sympathetic expression, vaguely away that Dean had quietly left the two of them alone. Probably for the best, Sam thought, amused by his brother's continued aversion to anything approaching 'touchy, feely crap.'

After a long, thoughtful silence, she began to speak. "I can't tell you much more than the police can. I know that she went home. After that, I got the call a few hours later. She was so... scared. I've never heard her sound more terrified. Nothing made sense!" She gave a gasp, losing her voice to hiccups. She buried her head back in the tissue.

Sam gave her a few moments to recover. His heart went out to the poor girl, having to listen to her sister right before she disappeared, or died. He knew how it felt to go through such a traumatic experience. It wasn't something that you could just get over.

Finally catching her breath again, she started talking again. "She said... she said she was surrounded by grass as tall as she was. Maybe... some kind of field somewhere. And there was something after her. I heard her scream. I think she dropped the phone then, because she stopped answering me. But I could hear..." She closed her eyes, scrunching them shut determinedly. "It sounded like something was tearing her apart...." She reopened her eyes, catching Sam's gaze. "And that's not the strangest part."

"What is?"

"The police, they tracked her cell phone's GPS signal for the hour before she stopped answering my calls." She stared down at the table, fiddling with her tissue. "It never left her backyard. They said it still reads that it's coming from there, but they looked all over. There was NOTHING! No cell phone, no signs of a struggle, nothing that says she was ever there." She resumed crying, sniffling into her tissue.

Sam let her hand go, and wrapped his arm around her shoulder to give her a little comfort. "We're going to do everything we can to find her. You have my word."

He met Dean outside of the little café she was sitting in. Dean was leaning against a lamppost, hands stuffed into his pockets, looking casual.

"So, anything new?" Dean asked as they walked back to the Impala.

"Yea, actually." Sam put his hand on the driver’s side door handle and glanced over the roof of the car at his older brother. "The girls’ cell phone is still active, and the cops tracked the GPS signal back to her house. Out in the yard, actually. They found nothing there."

Dean gave a smile at that. "Sounds like the place to be is at her house."

Sam opened the door. "What are you waiting for, then?" He hid a grin at Dean's disgruntled look as he got in and started up the car.