Disclaimer: Not my characters.
A/N: Many thanks to Jan for beta'ing.
"For now we shall see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then shall I understand fully, even as I have been fully understood." 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13
A black curtain swept over her vision first, as it always did, followed by the familiar dull roar of the ocean in her ears.
The man was beautiful, though he bore scars hinting that he was no stranger to fighting. His shoulder-length blond hair was tousled and dirty, and his cheek marred with a crimson line. His mouth opened and closed, and Cas strained to hear what the stranger was trying to say. The image was clear, but his words were muffled by the sound of the ocean.
Then she saw the stranger stumble backwards as two round holes appeared, one after the other on his chest. The stranger didn't seem afraid, and she thought she could almost feel his anger.
Then he was falling, over the short brick wall, which she realized wasn't a wall but a ledge. Falling down through the air towards the sidewalk below.
And suddenly she was seeing through the stranger's eyes, a dark-haired woman staring down at him. And, next to her, a large sign spelling out the word Greystoke.
Cas blinked again. Now the only noise she heard was the steady tick-tock of the alarm clock on the bedside table and her own ragged breathing. In the dark, objects slowly came into focus, though waking up was less than comforting. She no longer felt safe in this motel room; it was time to move again. No sooner had she reached that decision than she realized that the periods between her moves were becoming progressively shorter. She had been here less than a fortnight, having picked the city for its sense of anonymity and her desire to lose herself in the crowd.
She knew her latest vision had very little to do with her – her visions rarely did – but she couldn't quite get rid of the unsettled feeling it left her with.
With a shudder, she remembered the last time she had attempted to change the outcome of one of her visions. Even now, almost a year later, she couldn't help wondering if her involvement had only made things worse.
She certainly hadn't helped, she thought bitterly. Abby had died, and now she was on the run for her life. Not for the first time, she wished she wasn't cursed with seeing visions.
"I'm not getting involved," she said to the darkness.
But as she closed her eyes to get a few more hours of sleep, she couldn't get the image of the blond stranger out of her mind. Abby's ghost, whether real or imagined, refused to leave her in peace either.
It doesn't have to end this way.
He watched the pretty redhead from his vantage point across the street. Lowering his newspaper, he let his eyes travel across her body, admiring the sway of her hips, the way her hair fell just short of her shoulders, the slight bounce to her step. He watched her enter the coffee shop where she worked and smiled.
Stella Di Fabrizi would have been surprised at how much he knew about her. In the three weeks he'd been studying her every move, he had found out not only her name but also her favorite color, the topping she preferred on her pizza, and that she'd just yesterday got a callback for an audition. It was almost a pity, he thought, that she wouldn't show up. He would have loved to see her on stage.
He checked his watch, then folded his newspaper and stood. There were a few final preparations before he could be with Stella.
A little over six hours later, Stella Di Fabrizi left the coffee shop and began the short walk home. She waved to Manny, the hot dog vendor on the corner, and smiled at Louis, the newseller over by the newsstand.
She was thinking about the callback when she arrived at her apartment building and wondering which of her leotards looked the best as she climbed the four flights of stairs to her floor.
As she unlocked the front door, a heavy force hit her from behind and propelled her into the apartment. She hardly had time to process what had happened when a cloth was pressed over her mouth and she passed out.
He stood, closed and locked the front door, then picked up Stella and carried her into the bedroom. After arranging her carefully on the bed, he took the time to admire her long dancer's legs before getting to work.
He opened his kit bag and took out a plastic bag and a pair of scissors. Laying them on the bed, he pulled on a pair of latex gloves, then knelt next to Stella. She didn't wake as he cut her hair and put it into the plastic bag.
Her hair really was her best feature, he thought wistfully. Such a deep red. It was right that he take it to remember her by.
Then he took out another plastic bag and covered Stella's head, tying it closed at her neck. She started to wake, so he sat on her chest and held her arms. Still weak from the chloroform, she didn't put up much of a struggle. To be sure, he waited a little while longer.
Now there was only one thing left to do. He slowly unbuttoned her blouse and picked up his scalpel.