Melissa turned over in her bed, half-asleep. She cuddled her pillow closer and closed her eyes, until her foot jerked, waking her back up again. She lay there, blinking, hating that feeling of being awoken by what she knew was just a physical reaction of her body to falling asleep. It didn't make it any less creepy to know that.
She flipped over to stare at the ceiling, and huffed a breath. A second later, she was staring into the glowing red eyes of a wizened brown face, inches from her own. She opened her mouth to scream, felt a dry hand go over her mouth and couldn't breathe, every muscle frozen.
The thing opened its mouth, fetid air escaping. It said, "You haven't been taking care of me. Feed me."
Lia said, "There's somebody knocking at the door, Alyssa."
"What's that, sweetie?" She looked up absently from the map she'd been perusing.
"There's. Somebody. Knocking. At. The. Door." Lia rolled her eyes, exasperated.
"Oh. Why didn't you answer it, then?"
"Past my bedtime. Going to bed. School in the morning."
"Say goodnight to Julius, then."
"He's already gone to bed."
Lia went past Alyssa; as she passed she touched the edge of the kitchen table, where Alyssa sat. There was another loud bang and rattle on the front door.
Lia and Alyssa both shouted at the same time, "Hold your horses!"
The thumping rattle ceased. Lia turned around enough to roll her eyes at Alyssa, and then went out of the kitchen, slippers scuffling.
Alyssa went to answer the door, rolling her arms and shoulders back, trying to work out tension. The scrying wasn't going well. At all.
She peered out the hole in the door, saw the broad chest of one man, wearing multiple layers of clothing against the cold, and the leather-covered shoulders of another man, looking away.
She opened the door.
"What can I do for you?"
"Hi. Um... are you Alyssa Blackwell?" The man who spoke had piercing hazel eyes under a broad forehead, and a mouth to match, taller by about a hands-length from his companion, who wasn't short, by any description.
He held out his hand, and said, "Sam Winchester. This is my brother, Dean. We're wondering if you could give us some information."
"The disappearance of Melissa Lloyd?"
"You... you're the sons of John Winchester, aren't you?"
Sam looked back to his brother. "Yes, that's right."
"A boggart? That's what this is?"
Sam turned the laptop to Dean, his finger tapping at the picture on the screen, over the top of it. "It has to be," he answered his brother.
"Looks like Gollum."
"Mmm." Sam turned the laptop back around. He looked up as Alyssa stepped up behind him. She leaned forward to place a cup of coffee beside his hand. She moved around the kitchen table to sit on the third chair parked between Sam and Dean.
"A boggart. Makes sense," she said.
Sam shook his head, eyebrows gathering up into a scrunch.
"Something wrong, Sam?" Dean asked.
"Hand me Dad's journal, will you?"
Dean handed it over, after digging into the knapsack at his feet.
Sam flipped through the pages.
Alyssa leaned forward. "What are you looking for?"
"I remember something... here it is. Our Dad," he looked up at Alyssa, "get this... he writes that boggarts are tied to places, all the things we already know about them, but that while he's heard stories, no hunter he's ever talked to has killed one."
"So?" Dean took the journal from Sam's hands.
Sam shrugged. "Well, he goes on." He pointed, for Dean's benefit, at a line. "Here. He says no one has seen a boggart since the turn of the century... I mean, not this last one. The one before. 1900. Every hunter thinks they are extinct."
Dean looked up. "It shredded her, Sam. That's not exactly what I'd call extinct."
Alyssa made a noise. Dean said, "Sorry."
She swallowed a couple of times, mouth turning down at the edges, but managed to croak out, "I'm fine."
Dean turned to Sam and leaned forward, shifting out his legs, and placing his elbows on the table. "So, does Dad give any information about how to get rid of it?"
Alyssa broke in before Sam can answer, placing her hand on the table between them. They both looked at her.
"You'll have to purify the house and land."
Sam said, each word weighed and cautious, "What's that mean?"
"I've never met a boggart, but we've -- I mean Julius and our wards -- have encountered a number of creatures. They're all susceptible to iron and salt. That's the way of them. They may be old, but the stories aren't false."
Dean shifted his eyes from Alyssa to look at Sam, as his brother said, "Yeah, got it. So... what do you recommend?" Dean nodded unconsciously at that, then shifted his gaze back to Alyssa.
"I'll tell you."
"That should be the last of it," Sam said, lowering a plank of the floor down by the tips of his fingers. Dean caught a final glimpse of the white linen bag within the gap underneath as the board snapped back into place.
Alyssa stood at the window, peering out the lace curtains by holding one aside with a finger. She held a poker down at her side with her other hand.
Dean went over to her. She dropped her hand and turned to him. Dean said, "It's not that I'm doubtful about this; if my dad trusted you enough to have your number in his book, then that means you're good in mine, but is this it? Really it?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. I've been thinking about what his journal said -- about how no hunter has ever killed one. Did that mean they've encountered them before?"
"I don't get what you're trying to say."
"There's nothing you can do, if you'll excuse my saying. This isn't something you can just kill. Maybe it's not supposed to be."
She took a step, lifting her arm to move him away from her. He turned to her as she went past, saying, "What are --"
Sam said, "Whoa."
Red eyes glittered at them from the corner of the room, where the shadows were darkest. It shuffled forward with a guttural hiss.
There was a moment filled with nothing but rapid breathing. Then, Dean said, "I take it back, that's nothing like Gollum."
Alyssa stepped forward, brushing off Dean's hand when he held it in front of her. He traded a wide-eyed glance with Sam.
"You don't belong here," Alyssa said. "We are banishing you."
The boggart hissed again. "I want my milk."
"This world can no longer hold you. The old ways are dying out. Cease. Or my children will find and end you. I'll offer you a blessing for your passing."
"That you may find in nature what you lack here. Your master is gone, through your actions, so quit this place. You're trapped here by the salt of the sea and the element of iron until you agree. When you do, we'll make you passage. You'll starve if you do not."
A slow blink put out the eerie red glow for a moment. Dean and Sam started edging toward Alyssa.
Another long moment of silence, long enough for Sam to mutter, "Alyssa... ". She didn't acknowledge.
The boggart said, "You smell like older magic."
"I should," she answered.
Dean said, tone shocked, with an edge of anger, "What?"
The boggart blinked again. It said, "I agree. Lead me to a new home."
"I still had the poker," Alyssa stated.
"Yeah, but --"
"Listen, Dean, you really have no idea what we deal with on a daily basis. A boggart with no one to feed it is not even a rock in our path."
"What are you, anyway?" The accusation in Dean's tone made Alyssa's mouth quirk, but then she grew serious.
"It's hard to explain. You don't need to know. Trust me, I know you have your secrets. You have to allow us to have ours."
Sam blew out a sigh, clapping his hands on his knees, before standing. "Thank you," he said, pointedly, giving Dean a narrow-eyed look.
"I'm not going to clean up any messes," Dean said, finally.
"I'm not asking you to," Alyssa answered.
Lia came through the living room, and stopped as she saw Sam and Dean. "Are you guys still here?"
Sam shook his head. "No, we're on our way. Thanks for everything."