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Agnus Dei

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Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

 

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

 

- Roman Rite Mass, based on Syrian chanting custom.

*.*.*

CHAPTER ONE

La Push, present day.

Ellie could feel eyes on her when she walked into the diner. She didn't react to it. It was normal in podunk little towns like this. If her brothers were with her, they'd assume that they were just tourists passing through. She'd either be assumed as one of their girlfriends, or they'd be assumed to be dating each other. People never seemed to come to the conclusion they were siblings. She didn't blame them. There was little family resemblance, even between Sam and Dean, who had at least shared both their parents. She'd only had John to make her part of the Winchester gene pool. It was a joke she and Adam had shared; part of the Winchester club, but not quite Winchester enough for it to matter.

It was never a particularly funny joke.

And now you got no one, she reminded herself as she sat down in a booth and scanned the menu. A waitress came around after a few minutes.

"Hey sweetie, can I getcha something?"

She was a short woman, middle aged, dark threaded with silver and tied back. Her face didn't look too old, but her hands were a different story. They were battered and old. Her nametag said Annette.

Ellie took all this in as she returned the waitress' friendly smile. "I'll have the pie, thanks. And whatever coffee you got brewin' right now'd be real nice."

"Coming right up. You not waiting on anyone?"

Girls travelling by themselves were always suspicious, especially if they were polite. People started assuming she was running from a dangerous boyfriend, or maybe even her daddy. She'd been asked more than once, even slipped numbers for Women's Refuge a few times. It was nice but it didn't help none. She wasn't running from anyone who would chase her. No human, anyway. She still wasn't too sure where she stood on the supernatural hit list.

"Naw," she said. "I'm good. Can I get cream with the pie please?"

"Sure thing."

Ellie forced herself to relax instead of sweeping the restaurant. She wanted to look like she was stopping in for some food, not casing the damn joint. If she looked twitchy they'd get all sympathetic. Poor little girl running from home.

Poor little girl hadn't had a home to run from since she was sixteen years old. Not unless you counted a black Impala, which she did, but most other people didn't.

"Is there a motel 'round here?" Ellie asked Annette when the waitress returned with her coffee and pie. "I'm lookin' to stay a while."

"There's a few nice ones in Forks," Annette said. "Town a few miles back, you probably passed through it on your way."

"Nothin' here?"

"There's some cabins. Just outta town. Nothing big."

"I ain't big myself." Ellie smiled at her pleasantly, just an innocent slow-talking girl from outta town.

"Alright." Annette produced a pen from her apron and pulled a napkin over, bending down to draw a crude map. "It's fairly easy to get there, but you're pretty much right in the woods, so be careful. We got some big wildlife around here."

"I will be. Thank you, ma'am." Ellie tucked the napkin into the breast pocket of her shirt and smiled real big again.

Annette seemed reassured and moved away with a you're welcome, sweetie.

The pie was real good. Dean woulda loved it.

Dean's in Purgatory, she reminded herself crossly. Don't you go thinkin' about that.

She ate every bite and bought another one to go, feeling kinda lonely. She'd been travelling by Greyhound from main cities, but she'd stolen a little old Mazda that Dean would've hated on sight when she was in Seattle. It was beat up and none too pretty, an ugly green that got uglier the more you looked at the thing, but it had an iPod dock and it ran on the smell of an oily rag so she wasn't complaining too much.

She did miss having a real car though. Hopefully Sam was taking good care of Dean's baby.

She drove out carefully, easing the little ugly thing around potholes that would have been hell on the teeny tiny tyres. The woods closed in and swallowed the houses whole after a few miles. She had to check Annette's map to make sure she was still on the right track.

The turn off was a gravel road that she jolted over with a wince and a few words that would have made her old pastor blush. She was seriously doubting Annette's credibility when she finally rounded the last corner and found a big old house with faded yellow shutters. Behind it, the driveway continued. She assumed that whoever owned the cabins lived here.

Parking up beside the house, she bounded up the steps and knocked. Habit made her sniff quickly for sulfur, and had her eyes darting 'round for unusual plants or signs of anything untoward.

So far, so good. She patted the hex bag in her jeans for luck as she waited.

The door opened and a grumpy-looking man was glaring down at her.

"Can I help ya?" he demanded in a way that let her know he was really hoping he couldn't.

"Yessir. I heard from a woman named Annette that there was cabins out this way for rent," she said brightly. "I'd like one, please."

He grunted. "For how long?"

"A week." She could always bail out early if she had to.

"Fine." He rummaged behind the door and held out a key. "A hundred. If you leave early you can get some back."

Frowning at his attitude, Ellie pulled out her wallet and handed over a few bills. "That oughta do it."

He pocketed them. "I don't do the cooking, there's all the facilities there. No cable. And if you break anything, you bought it, so don't break nothing. Got it?"

She kind of wanted to smack the geezer. "Yessir." Ellie held her hand out for the key.

"Cabin number two," he sniffed as he let it drop into her hand. "You don't leave before I check for damages."

"I got it." Ellie turned and walked away before she could be berated any more. "Small things, Eleanor, small minds," she muttered to herself as she got back into the car and eased it around the house and around another corner. The cabins came into view, each with its own little driveway and parked area. They were podunk little things but they were perfect for what she wanted. No one would bother her here. Probably not even that cranky owner.

She parked up and grabbed her worn duffel bag, slinging it over her shoulder. The cabins looked to be in better shape than the actual house, which had peeling paint. This was all wood, stained dark, with a dark green tin roof. It almost blended in with the woods behind it. She looked at her ugly car and wished it was the same muted green, but it'd do. No one was gonna report a car like that stolen.

The interior was dusty and clearly hadn't been used for a while. Ellie sneezed, then dropped her duffel bag and rummaged for the salt.

Never too early to set up her perimeter.

*.*.*

Louisiana,

2007.

Sam and Dean found Ellie when she was sixteen. She'd already been on her own for a year. Her momma had been killed by monsters who were messing around in town. Ellie had shot the one that came after her with her daddy's gun and gone to ground. John had left the gun for a reason, apparently. Whatever had killed her momma hadn't taken the bullet like a man woulda. It was fast and she had to shoot a lot to get it down. She didn't have her momma's phone and her dad's number wasn't on speed dial on hers, so she tried looking him up, but no John Winchester was her John Winchester. She left town with some cash from the emergency card her mom had given her, before it could be cancelled, on a Greyhound.

She went to a city, because it made sense to go to a place with a lotta people, and she squatted in an empty building with some questionable people and kept her daddy's gun close. She got a job with some even more questionable people. It was rough, but she had to survive somehow. They left her alone for the most part when she wasn't running their drugs around. She was scrawny and scrappy and she knew how to fight. She'd once had a whole shelf of trophies and medals to prove it. But that was before.

She saved her bullets. She had a few boxes of them in her duffel but that wouldn't last long if she used them all.

Eventually she moved into a crappy apartment with a user, one of the other runners who had gotten sucked into the life. She padlocked her door inside when she was home and outside when she left. Her window was boarded up, had been when she moved in, so that was okay.

One day her disgusting roomie was all of a sudden sober. Ellie didn't trust it. She tucked her gun into her waistband and stuffed her remaining cash - it was always cash with the dealers - into her bra.

She almost made it to the door.

Turned out that whatever it was she had shot had tracked her down after all this time, and it was pissed. She was knocked out. When she woke up she wasn't even in the city anymore. She was on her way to God-knew-where in a fancy car and her assailant was wearing a different face yet again. Her feet were tied and her door was kiddy-locked. The monster warned her not to try and crash them, because it would survive and she wouldn't.

They were going to meet up with others. And then they were gonna take her somewhere and sell her off. That was all she got before it got annoyed at her questions and smacked her across the face with the meaty paw of the man it had turned into.

She shut up after that.

They ended up in a motel, of all places. She had expected something more sinister. Apparently monsters needed sleep too. She was tied to a chair and left, dehydrated and weak from not eating for possibly several days, while two of them went out for food and one of them watched.

"Please lemme go," she had begged. She usually had more pride but she was sixteen and scared and she didn't want to be sold off.

It had told her to shut up, little bitch, and gone back to watching out the window.

Then it happened.

She was weak by this point and couldn't really follow what was going on exactly, but the windows shattered and guns fired and it was dead on the floor with two men pointing guns at it. The tall man stared at her with wide eyes while the other one moved around the room, checking the perimeter.

"Dean," he hissed.

The shorter one - Dean - lowered his gun and walked towards her. She cringed back from him, because what if they were going to sell her too?

Water hit her face unexpectedly, making her splutter, and then before she could recover he had pulled a knife on her and slashed her arm. She cried out in shock.

"She's clean," he said to the other one. He turned back to her. "Who are you?"

She couldn't answer with her teeth chattering in her mouth like that.

"I asked you a question!" he snarled, advancing on her again.

"Dean-" the tall one warned.

"Stay the hell away from me!" Ellie tried to scream, but her throat was so dry that it came out all hoarse and strangled. She felt herself start to cry, though how she had any water left in her body was beyond her.

He clenched his jaw and turned away, directing the other one towards her with a jerk of his head.

This one approached slowly, hands up peacably. "You're Ellie, right? I'm Sam. I'm gonna get you out of here. I'm going to come around behind you and cut your hands loose, but I need you to stay calm, because if you try to run they might catch you again before we get them. Can you do that for me?"

Ellie nodded, still trembling and with her instincts screaming that letting another man with a knife near her right now was VERY BAD.

"Sorry about Dean," he said in the same calm voice as he moved behind her. She felt tugging on the ropes around her wrists. "We had to check that you were… well, you."

The pressure eased and her wrists were free. She stifled a groan as the blood flowed back into them, gingerly bringing them around into her lap so she could try and massage them with bloodless fingers.

Sam got to work on her ankles.

"How many of them are there?" Dean demanded.

"T-three," she managed. "Or two n-now I guess."

"How long ago did they leave?"

She sniffed and glared at him. "I didn't exactly h-have a damn timer."

"Dean," Sam said again warningly as he cut through the last of her bonds. He unfolded himself and reached toward her unexpectedly, making her flinch again, but he was just looking at the cut Dean had made on her arm. "It's not deep. Here." He turned and ripped a strip off one of the cheap bed sheets, tying it neatly around her arm.

"Don't baby her," Dean snapped.

"Don't be such a dick," Sam responded. "I know you're not happy about this, but you have to deal with it."

"I am!"

"Happy about what?" Ellie asked, lead settling in her stomach as she awaited some terrible answer.

"Nothing," Dean replied shortly. "We'll explain when we're on the road, okay?"

She frowned. "You're taking me with you?"

"We're taking you someplace safe," Sam explained. "We know about your mom. You don't have anywhere to go, right?"

Ellie stared at him. "How the hell do you know about my mom? How do you know who I am? Who are you people?"

"We're-" Sam started to say, but he was interrupted by Dean calling his name and the door slamming open, announcing the arrival of the remaining monsters.

She couldn't look away as Dean and Sam shot them down. The monsters looked disturbingly human as they fell to the ground, still in the skins they had stolen.

"Let's move before the cops get here," Dean commanded. He looked at her almost reluctantly. "Can you walk?"

Ellie stood up shakily and took a step, almost falling before Sam caught her and slung her arm around his shoulders.

"Thanks," she muttered.

He helped her across the tiny lot to where a black Impala was sitting, settling her in the back before climbing into the passenger seat himself. Dean, unsurprisingly, was the driver as they peeled out of the lot like it was catching fire.

"What's goin' on?" Ellie demanded. "Are you and your boyfriend just some kind of weird vigilantes or what?"

Dean groaned. "For Christ's sake, we're not dating, we're brothers."

"Actually," Sam began.

"Sammy," Dean warned.

Sam gave him a look and turned to her to continue. "We're… kind of… your brothers."

She gaped at him. "I'll be honest," she said, "That's not where I saw this headin' when you said actually. I don't have brothers. I don't have siblings."

"Well, now you do." Sam shrugged. "John Winchester's your dad, right?"

"We don't know that for sure," Dean interjected.

Ellie frowned. "Well yeah, he's my dad. He ain't around much though."

"He was our dad too."

"Was?"

Sam looked away.

Dean smiled mockingly at her in the rear view mirror. "Welcome to the family, sweetheart. Life expectancy is low."