Kate looked up at Sam, way up. The hunter was almost exactly a foot taller than she was, likely a hundred pounds heavier, and yet…yet she could tear him to pieces if she wanted to. Assuming he had no silver on him, she was fast enough, strong enough, and they both knew she was brutal enough, to rip him to shreds. So the way he was looking down at her with sympathy should have been funny. It wasn’t. It was miserable.
“I’ve got nothing,” she breathed. “And I can’t do this anymore. Turns out…” She let tears slip down her cheeks in defeat. “Turns out, it’s a lot harder to stab yourself with a silver knife than I thought. No matter how much you might want to. And I don’t know anybody else who is going to be able to stick a blade in my heart. But you. You know it’s for the best. You saw my sister. I don’t…I don’t want to be Tasha. What she became…that was my fault, and I don’t want to…It’s been months, and I just want it to be over.” She pressed her knife into Sam’s hand. “Thank you for coming when I called. Now, please. Do what I can’t.”
Dean was watching from a few feet away, she knew, ready to leap if it looked like she was going to go for Sam’s throat. If Sam wouldn’t do it, he would. She could count on that, at least.
But Sam was shaking his head. “Kate, we’ve got another option.”
So he would need convincing. Kate let a low growl develop in her throat as she prepared to attack him, then yelped as strong arms grabbed her from behind.
“Hey. Knock it off. We’re not interested in a suicide by cop move. Settle down,” Dean commanded.
She squirmed in his hold, finding him much stronger than she remembered. “You’re saying you won’t either?” This had not occurred to her. She had felt sure one of them…
“Yeah,” Sam sighed. “If we have to. You know we will. But, Kate, you still haven’t hurt anybody.”
“I want to!” she shrieked, then crumbled in Dean’s arms. He eased her to the ground gently, then let her go. “I want to,” she sobbed. “You don’t know what it’s like to have this monster in you all the time.”
The brothers exchanged looks. “Yeah,” Sam said again. “I think we both know exactly what that’s like. Look, Kate. If Plan B doesn’t work out, we’ll finish this. But there’s a family we know that can understand even better than we do exactly what you’re going through. We’ve already called them. Our buddy Garth and his wife Bess are on their way to pick you up, if you’ll go with them.”
“What? Like a foster family? Thanks, but I’m twenty-five years old, and I screwed up the last family I had.”
“No, Kate. They’re werewolves,” Dean said quietly, sitting on his heels beside her.
Her large eyes blinked at him.
“Lycanthropes,” Sam corrected. “They prefer lycanthropes.”
“Whatever,” Dean muttered. “Point is, they wolf out every moon too, and they have a hands-off-the-humans policy. Just like you do, but they support one another. You’ve been trying to go it alone, and that’s hard.”
“They’re a little…” Sam shrugged. “They’ll grow on you.”
Dean snickered. “Look out. Garth’s a hugger.”
Kate sniffed. Of all the things she had expected to happen when she called the Winchesters, this was not one of them.
Garth had chattered most of the drive, mostly about things Kate did not understand or care about, but she tried to be polite. She could tell already this was not going to work out, but she appreciated everyone’s effort, so she was going to force herself to give it a try. Garth was nice enough. A little weird, but who was she to judge what weird was? She snacked on deer hearts every other night, and twice a night during the week of a full moon. Being “on her cycle” had always made her hungry, and now the phrase had taken on a whole new meaning.
It was Bess who gave her hope.
Here was this lovely, sweet woman, who seemed like the perfect picture of human domesticity, and yet, she was clearly a werewolf. Kate could smell it. She found herself following Bess around in the first day or so, watching how she went about her chores, adored her quirky husband, doted on her father Jim, and made venison jerky with the meat brought back from hunts. Kate grew to understand that this had once been a much larger family, but that something awful had happened to break it in half, and she wanted to know the story. But she could see the pain in Jim’s eyes, and she knew she would just have to wait until someone felt like telling her.
In the meantime, Sam’s words were ringing true. To say Garth and Bess were growing on her was an understatement after the first week. She had done what she could to pitch in around the home, which was something of a commune for lycanthropes. She wore her silver with pride, taking comfort in its constant burn, reminding her that she was strong enough. And she came to not just admire but to truly love Garth and Bess. They were the kindest people she had ever met, and were not even human. In fact, Bess had never been human. Jim was a source of comfort for the entire family, and in spite of his sorrowful eyes, he had a gentle smile which Kate loved.
If only Tasha had known these people. Would things have gone differently? Or would Tasha have still craved power?
Thinking like that was a cyclical nightmare, so Bess told her. When she had opened up about her sister, Bess had seemed to understand all too well. She had suggested that Kate do her best to remember Tasha before she had lost her way, to smile when she thought of her sister instead of let the guilt and grief sink in. “And when you need to feel those things,” Bess had said, soothing Kate’s blond strands from her face, “that’s okay too. Just tell yourself you will feel them for a little while, then put them aside. You have to let yourself feel these things, but you can’t let them linger. You can’t let these feelings decide for you. You can’t let anything decide for you. We are strong women, Kate, and strong wolves. We are in control of ourselves. We will be sad, and hurt, and angry, but we will be that on our own terms. Do you understand?”
“I think so,” she sighed. “Bess, you and your family…you’ve been so good to me.”
A sweet smile brightened the older woman’s face, and she wrapped her arms around Kate tenderly. “Because you are good, Kate. When Garth got Dean’s call, it was the first thing he said. This one is good, Garth.”
“Dean said that?”
She nodded. “And he’s right. You are good. So it’s easy to be good to you. You’re one of us, Kate. No matter what, no matter where you go or what you decide to do. I’d like for you to stay with us permanently. I know Garth would like that too. But whatever you decide, just know that you are one of us. Kate Myers. How does that sound?”
It sounded wonderful. Unbelievable. But… “I like Kate Fitzgerald too.”
The smile on her face beamed. “Then let’s call you that. This is a new life, Kate. Everything you were is still there, but it doesn’t have any hold on you anymore. You can look at it all from a distance now, and know you’ve done some good things and you’ve done some things you wish you hadn’t had to do, and now you’re ready to start your new life. I’m proud of you. Garth’s proud of you; we all are.”
She was astonished by the feeling the words gave her. She had been on her own for so long, even before being bitten. “Thank you.”
Bess nodded. “Now, I have something for you. Garth picked it up, said he did plenty of research before getting it. Remember saying you wished you had a job to do, that you could contribute in a more meaningful way?”
“Yes,” she breathed.
From her bag, Bess took out a digital camcorder. “I have an idea. You told us about your interest in documentaries and in environmental activism. So I thought you could help with a project Garth and I are considering.”
Bess laughed. “My father and I have always enjoyed learning about the non-lycanthrope wolves in the area. They need as much protection as we can help them with. And we are the most natural choice for protectors of them. Would you like to help us create and publicize anonymous videos? Garth says he knows how to put content out on the internet without it leading back to us in any way. He knows so many useful things. But raising awareness of the needs of local wolves might be a project you could undertake, which would do a lot of good without you having to expose yourself-“
Kate’s arms pulled Bess into her with a force that nearly took the older lycanthrope’s breath away. “Yes! Yes, I’d love that!” Her tears were renewed, but this time it was relief and excitement which flowed down her cheeks. “Yes! I want to do something. I want to do this. Bess, you and Garth…I love you both so much. I’m so glad Sam and Dean gave me one last chance, and I’m so glad it was with you. This is exactly what I need.” She sighed happily, and did not let Bess go. “This home is exactly what I need.”
From the doorway, Garth nodded silently, and smiled to himself. He liked having a family, especially this one.