The next case they went on came and went like smoke. I stayed behind on that one under the guise of "research" and "holding down the fort." Dean didn't like that I stayed, but I also think he didn't want to risk being alone with Jack. Sam understood a little more. He was alright with bringing Jack along, though. It was an odd contrast.
It also didn't stop any of them from texting or calling me with questions – On the case, if I was OK, and how to deal with each other.
"Hey, what looks like a ghost, acts like a revenant, but leaves a body and isn't any of those?" Dean. I'd asked him if an evil twin was an option. He told me to knock it off.
"Hey, just checking in. How're you doing?" Sam. Always kind. Always understanding. Always sympathetic. Sometimes the sympathy stung more. I'm fine, Sam.
"Kylie, I need some advice." Jack. His voice was slightly hushed. "There is a man in front of me being angry about sauerkraut on a hotdog. He is causing a longer wait. What if Dean blames me for the wait on his hotdog? What if he also wishes for extra sauerkraut?" I told him that Dean didn't like that stuff and to just tell him that the guy before Jack had been an ass. "I don't think that terminology will go over well." Then just tell him the honest truth.
"Hey kiddo, how're you doing? Got an answer for me yet?" Dean again. I was in my twenties now, but I was still "kiddo" to him. I asked him what the victims had in common. "They all went to the same therapist. Something about… catharsis?" It's the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. I fought back the urge to tell him they all needed some catharsis in their lives. "Great. Sam is going to be all over this one." Have fun at hunt-mandated therapy, Dean.
"Hey Kylie…" Sam. He sounded emotionally distressed, but in a reserved way; as though a lot of hard emotions were waiting to explode from just under the surface. Are you OK? "I… It's Dean." It's always Dean. "We were trying to get information from the therapist and I know that Dean was just trying to bait me for the woman so that I can get a look around, but… I just…" It was about Mary. Of course it would be about Mary. I asked again if he was OK. "Yes and no. I was just hoping, you know? Maybe he'd benefit from a little of this. Maybe he'd try to see my point of view." All I could think was the catharsis again, and how they all needed it. Sam and Dean needed it for different reasons about Mary. Jack needed it for Kelly and his lineage and to deal with how the brothers perceived him and how he perceived himself and so much more. I refused to acknowledge that I probably needed it too. "Um… I'm gonna call you back." Sam's tone changed. What is it? What happened? "Shapeshifter therapist." That would definitely answer Dean's riddle.
"What does simpatico mean?" Jack. He sounded like that wasn't the question he wanted to lead with, but the one he felt most comfortable with. It's Spanish. It means you guys are like friends and that you get along easily. "Oh. Dean said that we were simpatico." Are you? "I think he was using it as a lie to the therapist woman." I didn't bother saying that it was probably true. That would just be kicking him while he was down. "I want to ask the woman something, but I don't know if it is a good idea. I think that Dean would be disappointed if I did this." Well what is it? "I wish to ask the therapist to shift into my mother." My breath caught a little. I could imagine a different scenario, if our places were reverse. I want to ask if she would shift into Castiel. Into Crowley. Into Kevin. Into Rowena. Into my own mother or father or brothers. "Do you think that this would be OK?" I didn't even hesitate before telling him yes. Who cares what Dean and Sam think? This is for you. This is what will help you best. You deserve the chance to talk to your mother and say goodbye, or hello, or whatever you feel like you need to say or need to hear. Do it. "Thank you." He sounded better after hearing my reassurance. "I… I will after we have finished with the other shapeshifter. Thank you. I needed to hear those words, I believe. How are you?" I'm doing what I can. Don't worry about me, though. Talk with Mia.
"Hey, I need a favor. Can you get be a quick background check?" Dean. "The name is Tom Callup." Tom Callup had five cats, a small home, and seemed to have lived there all his life. No weird about him. Dean was going to check him with a silver dollar just in case. "And Mia Vallens." The therapist. No weird around her in general, besides the fact that she had no history until about five years before her practice took off. But that was expected for a shapeshifter. Other than that, no weird deaths or instances up until this point. Lots of good reviews around her practice. Lots of talk about catharsis again. She seemed pretty clean. "Thanks. You doing OK?" I'm fine, Dean.
"Can you run background on John Driscoll?" Sam. The guy was a long-term resident of the town. Started going to Mia for therapy a few weeks ago. No wife or kids. There was a significant change in his spending habits about a week or so ago; he'd transferred a fair amount of money into a different account. The guy had a cellphone, though. Sam was certain that was him, he just wanted to double-check. "Can you get me a trace on his phone?" Of course I can, the guy has his location services on. I gave him a current location address after a few minutes and told him I'd update him if it moved. "Thanks. You still doing good?" Yeah Sam. I'm fine.
"Did Sam call you?" Dean. Yeah, Sam called. He wanted the location of the guy's cell. "And you sent him there?" Yes, I did. "Can you track his cell phone for me?" He's still at the address. I bet he's about to call you. "Yeah, I've got an incoming call from him now. Are you on your way here?" No. I'm states away. Why would I be coming? "Look, I may need backup. Where are you now?" The Bunker. Where I have been this entire time. Are you OK? "I'm gonna answer Sam." Weird.
"Kylie!" Dean's voice, sharp an insistent. It was the next day. "Are you alright?" I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be? "I… I'll explain when we get back. Are you coming to Wisconsin right now?" No. I was waiting to see how it all went today. What's wrong? "Long story incredibly short, the bad shifter is dead and he was going for a TPK." You know D&D terminology? "Shut up. Did you not hear the part where a shifter impersonated me to try and kill you too?" I heard it. "Is that not problematic to you?!" Are you alive? "Yeah." Is Sam alive? "Yeah." Is Jack alive? "Yeah." Then it's not problematic. I'll give you all the salt and silver exam when you get back, though. "You're way too calm about this." Someone has to be. Did you reach catharsis? "Shut up." You're smiling. I can hear it. "Whatever, nerd. We're on our way back. Be normal when we get there." Can do, therapy man.
"Hey, we're about halfway back." Sam. He seemed less distressed now. "How're you?" I'm pretty good. "I think you freaked Dean out a little bit from taking the shapeshifter news so calmly." What did he expect? For me to freak out myself? "I think he expected just a little more emotion. In all honesty, I did too. Are you OK?" I'm fine, Sam. I promise.
I'm sitting in the Bunker alone, working on research and trying to keep myself distracted. I'm keeping my brain off of the constant thought that I'm too useless to go on a hunt, too useless to tell when it's a shapeshifter instead of Dean, and too useless to have figured out it was shapeshifters in the first place. I was still useless. I was trying and trying to not be by keeping myself awake and fighting and training and researching and doing whatever else might make me feel less useless.
I'm trying to stop being useless. I'm trying to stop being broken, like Dean said. I'm trying to stop being weak and scared and easily to destroy but in all honesty that felt like the tallest order I could ever imagine and I wasn't certain if I would ever be able to achieve it. I felt like I was Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill that I would never get to the top. The weight of everything I was trying to accomplish – of trying to get back to who I was – it felt like an impossible task.
I would never be who I was, and I couldn't accept that.
I pushed those thoughts aside, seeing my phone ring again. It was Jack.
"I was wondering as to how you were doing." His voice sounded flat and uncertain as he spoke. I raised an eyebrow.
"Sam put you up to this?"
"You're a bad liar."
"I promise you I'm fine, Jack."
"That is not what you said last time." His voice was a little more hushed when he spoke. He was trying to respect my privacy. "If something is wrong, you can tell me." This sounded more sincere.
"I said that how I was doing wasn't important. There's a difference between that and not fine."
"There is also a difference between that and fine." He pointed out.
"Well, I assure you that if something was seriously wrong I'd tell you guys." I replied. Jack thought for a moment. I could hear some whispering on his end.
"Dean says that that is a lie." He replied. I heard a slightly louder and more familiar "dammit" in the background after that. "I believe I have made a mistake." I smiled a little bit.
"I'll see you guys when you get back." I said. "Don't get in too much trouble."
"Alright." Jack agreed. I hung up on him resolutely, the same two words ringing in the back of my head. I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine.
Then another word: catharsis.
Who the hell needs catharsis, though? I was fine. I was perfectly fine.