The past never stays behind you…
Supernatural, Dean, Samuel and John Winchester are the property in part and whole of Eric Kripke and the WB and/or CW.
Ariel and Brooke Cooper however are characters created and written by the author for the author's explicit purposes alone.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author.
Chapter One– Brooking Disappointment
"Doesn't sound like you need a new fan belt, Miss." The lanky, blue shirted garage clerk called up to her from under the crud covered ford pickup he was working under.
Brooke Cooper was madder than hell. The only thing she hated worse than small towns was small town mentalities. She knew exactly what was wrong with her car - she was holding the broken belt - but naturally what could she, a mere woman, know about cars?
"That's funny, I don't recall asking you your opinion." Irritation clearly radiated through her voice as she turned her head to better face the clerk. The motion sent what little light was filtering through the service department's door down her red hair, illuminating it like a flame. She readjusted her black tank top over her jeans and braced herself against the yellowed pickup. "I asked if you had a fifteen inch fan belt."
Ariel bit her bottom lip to keep a chuckle from escaping. Her sister was many things, but patient was not one of them. Brooke had the tendency to live up to the stereotypical red head with a fiery temper. She glanced back at the grease-covered clerk - the name 'Rich' was stitched into his uniform, and his dirty blonde hair had matted from the heat in the musty garage. Like most service stations of its kind it reeked of sweat and discarded oil. The exposed metal siding had corroded over the years of obvious neglect and the windows were covered with so many layers of dirt that the sunrays couldn't penetrate through it. The room was as skanky as the man himself.
With each passing breath she could see her sister's tolerance waning. Brooke may only be a slender five foot seven, but with three inch heeled boots clicking like a time bomb… she could go toe to toe with any man.
"Well have fun with that," she muttered as she headed for the exit. "You want anything from the diner? I'm starving."
"Surprise me," was spoken to a deft ear. Ariel was already gone. Ever since they had pulled into Red Bridge, she had been in a world of her own. Brooke's steely gaze fixed on the yellowed grey spotted pickup and hoped it was just the rain.
The clouds were starting to clear, finally. Northern Ontario's greatest asset was its continuous wilderness and clear lakes, and this town was no exception. It had been raining since they'd pulled into Red Bridge: a little town of four hundred people at best.
Sam and Dean had already checked into the motel, a rather unremarkable building that's only claim to fame was a large fish motif on the vacancy sign. The room didn't fair much better then the sign. Blue and grey walls that may have been white in another life added to the dysphemistic décor. It never ceased to amaze Sam how badly most of these motels were decorated.
The sound of a boot against the door brought Sam off of that thought train.
"Sam move your ass, these are exactly pillows!" Before the last words left Dean's mouth, the door swung open.
"Thank you," Dean griped as he headed toward the battered table and dumped the inundated duffle bags on it.
"Rain stopped." Sam gestured toward the ill-chosen window facing the main access road.
Go figure, Dean thought to himself. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Their Dad had been AWOL since checking out of the hospital a few months ago and, aside from a rather lame voice message, hadn't gotten back in touch with them. He felt like he was back at square one all over again. Frustration raced through him; he had to get out of there, clear his head, put something in his stomach. "I'm going to grab something to eat at that diner up the street. You want anything?"
"Surprise me," muttered Sam as he ran his fingers through his hair, "I'm going to get cleaned up." The never-ending hours on the road always left him feeling stale. Nothing a shower couldn't fix. Sam's words were followed by the sound of the small bathroom door slamming shut. Dean cuffed the collar of his leather jacket as he walked back into the rain-chilled air.
The Silver Spoon diner looked like it had been quite the place during its hay day. About three or four decades ago. Red and white chequered linoleum tiles hugged the room, and worn white counters and mottled red swivel stools were a throw back to a different era. Nothing noteworthy in the slightest, with the exception of the raven-haired beauty at the end of the counter. She was wearing a faded brown t-shirt with a gold lettered logo on it under a fitted denim jacket, as well as dark washed jeans and a pair of tan sneakers. Her posture echoed the petulance etched in her expression.
"What part of 'I'm not interested', isn't clear?" Ariel had all but told this close talking guppy to get the hell away from her, but he wasn't taking the hint. "I know how hard it is to come up to a complete stranger and try to make a connection, but please, for your own sake, understand that this is not going to happen." Her words were only met with a lame your playing hard to get speech. Just at the point when she was considering ramming a fork down his throat, the chatter stopped.
"Sorry I'm late. Roads are a mess out there."
She whipped her head around so fast she sent her back length hair flooding over her shoulders. Her eyes were treated to an aphrodisiacal half-smile.
"Thanks for keeping her entertained for me." Dean waited for his words to sink in, but his patience failed. He gestured to the seat adjacent the green-eyed girl. "You're in my seat."
An agitated snort was the man's only reply as he shifted himself out of the chair. Embittered by his clear defeat, he slothfully moved toward the back of the diner, leaving the chair vacant. Dean didn't even hesitate to set himself upon it.
Ariel gave him a somewhat systematic look over. The navy shirt with rain soaked blue jeans and brown leather jacket didn't reveal anything about the man who had just managed to effectively situate himself in a rather transfixing position alongside her. Well worn brown leather boots didn't offer any clue as to his identity. Around his neck, he wore an interesting gold coloured Egyptian protection symbol. Not your average accessory of choice, but despite his ordinary appearance there was nothing typical about him. Especially with that devil-may-care grin on his face.
"Do that often?" Humour glittered in her eyes and softened the line of her jaw.
"Rescue the damsel in distress? All the time. I'm Dean, by the way."
Sam emerged from the shower towel clad, soaking wet. He reached into the murky blue duffle bag on the table and grabbed the first clean clothes he could find. Making a mental note to find a laundry mat he dried and dressed with a speed worthy of the rumble in his stomach. Sam zipped up his dark-brown hooded sweatshirt over his green jersey and bolted out of the motel room, heading straight to the diner. Fortunately, the rain that threatened to return at a moments notice had remained at bay.
The entrance chime caught Ariel's attention for some reason and the smile she had been wearing since meeting Dean fell the minute she saw him walk threw the door.
"Sam? Sam, is that you?" Shock and disbelief coursed through each word. She leaped out of her chair and bolted towards him before Dean had enough time to turn and see the look on his brother's face.
It had been well over a year since Ariel had seen Sam. There was something so different about him, a maturity and disquiet beneath the surface that he hadn't had at Stanford. "You've certainly changed. But you still refuse to get your haircut I see. God, Sam it's good to see you!"
"Ariel." His words were followed by a warm smile that reminded him of how much he had missed her. "It's been a long time."
Tears welled in her eyes, intensifying their colour to a deep emerald. "Sam, I… I'm so sorry about Jess…I know how much she meant to you," tears choked the rest of her words.
He reached out and wrapped his arms around her. She squeezed him tight, allowing the hug to say all she couldn't bring herself to speak.
At five foot five, there was nearly a foot in height difference between her and Sam's six foot four frame, so when he straightened he lifted her off the floor and held her there for a moment. When her feet touched the floor again, he released her and she wiped at her spent tears with her sleeve.
"You know, I forgot what a shrimp you are." He followed his words with a smile that could melt the arctic itself and held his hand a few inches above her head.
She slapped at his outstretched hand and gave him a rather quick simper.
"Very funny, Sam. What are you doing here?" She shook her head, realizing that wasn't the question she needed answered. "Where have you been? I was starting to think you fell off of the face of the earth."
Sam's first response was to dodge the questions. He ran his hand up the nape of his neck and tried to measure the amount of truth he could acceptably give her. The look in her eyes made him think better of it. He had never had the heart to conceal anything from her. "Just passing through. We've kind of been all over."
Sam gestured towards a rather bewildered looking Dean. "I see you've already met my brother, Dean."
Ariel's mouth dropped with an alarming speed and her face started to turn carmine before she even turned her head to meet his gaze. "Your Sam's brother."
"You don't have to look so stunned."
"I'm uh…it's just Sam described you a little…differently, that's all."
"Described me how?" Dean shot his brother an abrasive look before bringing his attention back to the green-eyed woman staring at him as if they hadn't just spent the last thirty minutes flirting shamelessly.
"It doesn't matter. So you're Dean Winchester." The moment his name left her lips she got an odd feeling she had heard it before. She stared at him for a moment, tilting her head slightly, trying to remember. He gave her an ear-to-ear grin. He clearly did not mind the rather frank appraisal she was giving him. "On second thought, you're exactly as he described you."
Brooke slammed the hood of her sixty-eight mustang down so hard she felt the car rock. It had taken her forty-five minutes to get that dimwitted fool to sell her the correct fan belt. She wiped her hands off on an old orange cloth and wiped her fingerprints off the hood. The rain had at the very least washed the dirt off her baby, leaving nothing but a shiny navy blue paint job. She grabbed her beaten metal toolbox off the dirt shoulder and walked towards the trunk, throwing everything in with unerring accuracy.
After locking the trunk, she looked at her watch. There was no way Ariel and her could make it to Jacko Point before sunset. In such a small town, pulling up in the middle of the night would bring them unwanted attention. Reaching into her pocket, she yanked out her keys as she settled herself into the driver's seat. Trying to remember if she had seen a motel sign on her walk to the service station, she inserted her key and turned over the engine. The car roared with renewed life, causing a somewhat fleeting grin to brush her lips.
"It's my fault," Ariel was saying, "I never got your cell number." In their four years at Stanford Ariel hadn't once needed to use the number or email address. They'd seen each other everyday, and she'd had his apartment phone number for emergencies. It had only been after the fire that she had regretted not writing it down. She hadn't expected to be away from Stanford for so long.
The night Brooke had come for her, she'd just packed, left a note for Sam and Jess on their door telling them she would be back in a week, and absconded. She had come back only to find Jess had died in an electrical fire and Sam had taken off with his brother to get over the tragedy. And that was it. No goodbyes and no contact until now.
Dean couldn't hold back his curiosity anymore. "Sorry to interrupt,"
"No you're not," Sam shot back at him.
"Shut up!" Dean glared at his brother. "How exactly do you two know each other?"
Smiling softly at Sam, Ariel remembered their first meeting. "We've been friends since our first day of classes. We had myth and mythology together first period. We wound up debating the validity of vampire lore."
"Debating? Ari, you browbeat me into sufferance!" Sam didn't keep the mild shock from his voice at her recounting.
"You deserved it! I don't know why you took the class if you didn't believe at least in part that there are things out there." She went to take a sip of her coffee and, realizing it was still to hot to drink, she placed in back on the marred table and continued her story as though there had been no injection from Sam. "Anyway we hit it off and started hanging out after that. Of course him falling for my roommate didn't hurt."
"Jessica was your roommate?"
"Yeah, for the first two years, then she and Sam took over the apartment and I bunked with Sam's old roomy."
Dean looked at his brother with a degree of curiosity. He had wondered how the two of them had met. Sam looked at Ariel with a level of sadness hidden under his elation at seeing her again. She was bringing Jess back into his mind. Dean could see it in his expression.
Sam couldn't help but remember the day he and Jessica had 'decided' to live together. Ariel had gotten so fed up with him eating her cereal she had dragged the two of them out of bed, sat them on the couch, and before either had had a chance to speak, Ariel had announced she was packed. If he had only known what was going to happen, he would have walked straight out of Jessica's life at that very moment. Regret and grief started retching at his chest. Sam had gotten over losing Jessica. He had even been able to forgive himself for her death, but that didn't stop his heart from hurting every once and while. He started to wonder if anything would.
Ariel couldn't bare the look of unhappiness in Sam's eyes. She could feel his pain as though she had suffered his lost. Acutely aware of Dean's concern for his brother, she thought carefully about her choice of words before speaking.
"Just because you feel grief over her loss doesn't mean you haven't let go." She stared into her coffee cup, seeing only the colour of his eyes, then back at the man who reminded her of a different life. A life she knew she could never have again. Things were too different. She was too different. "It just means you haven't forgotten the love you had."
Sam's eyebrows started to furrow as he looked at his friend as though he had never seen her before. Ariel had always been intuitive, but that was far too accurate, even for her. It was at that moment he realized she wasn't the same girl he had befriended at Stanford. Her eyes were wistful. "I'm not the only one who's changed."
"No. You're not." Ariel smiled to herself. If only he knew how much she had changed.
"Your orders are ready," The Silver Spoon's only waitress called toward them. She walked towards the table holding four white paper bags that only brought out the vividness of her red uniform. A white pill hat and apron completed the outfit.
"I should go. Brooke's probably looking for me." Ariel was out of her chair before the waitress made it to their table. She flashed the waitress a quick smile and took her two bags, placing the other two on the table.
"If you boys are still around, I'll be in here for breakfast before we leave tomorrow, around seven."
"Okay, seven it is." Dean said with a grin that screamed of false innocence.
Sam looked at Dean, surprise evident in his voice. "You do realize she means seven in the morning, right?"
An annoyed scowl was Dean's only response.
Shaking her head, Ariel reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a small black note book and pen. With remarkable speed she jotted down her phone number and email address on a blank page, tore it from the book and placed it on the table directly in front of them.
"Just in case you boys over sleep." She winked at Sam and flashed Dean an encouraging smile before heading toward the exit.
"You know there's only one motel in this town, we might as well just walk with you." Dean's words stopped her in her tracks. She turned back to face him, causing her hair to fall on to her face. Using her hand to brush the hair away she couldn't help but return the smile he was giving her.
Dean stared at Ariel for a moment and tried to pin down what was so appealing about her to him.
"I'm headed to the service station actually, but you're more then welcome to keep me company."
Realizing instantly what had been going on before he had entered the diner, Sam ran his hand through his chestnut hair and averted his eyes.
"Yeah, okay this is awkward. I'm just going to go back to the room." Standing quickly and picking up the remaining two bags off the table he headed towards the door, passing a rather embarrassed looking Ariel.
"Night Sammy." Ariel allowed herself to over stress the latter part, knowing the nickname would annoy him.
"Sam." He called back from the doorway.
"What ever you say Sugar."
"Fine. I give up!" Sam said, shaking his head in exasperation. He pushed the grey metal and plain glass door open and walked through it.
"Sugar?" Dean lifted one caramel coloured eye brow suspiciously.
"So sweet he'll make your teeth rot. He hates it. Almost as much as Sammy." She couldn't help but smirk. Sam was so very particular about his name.
"I'll have to keep that in mind."
"Excuse me, Rich, have you seen my sister? The red head?"
"She left a couple of hours ago, but she'll be back. She needs a new alternator." Rich wiped his hands on a grease covered jiffy cloth. The action was pointless; the cloth couldn't hold anymore oil then it already did.
"I thought she just needed a fan belt?" Ariel didn't bother to hide the doubt that audibly underlined her question.
"That's what she thought too. She'll be back." Rich smiled, revealing his tobacco stained teeth, and headed back into the garage.
"Is your sister any good with cars?" Dean's curiosity was underscored by his raised brows.
"The best. She's probably already fixed the stupid thing and headed to the motel."
"You know, they make cell phones for this very reason."
With a twist of her lips she said, "Ha ha. Very cute."
"Well I try to be." His words were preceded by an extremely cocky smile.
Ariel decided against retorting, knowing that was exactly what he expected her to do. Instead she just shook her head, sending strands of midnight to stick to her mouth.
Without thinking, Dean brushed the wayward strands of her hair aside and tucked them behind her ear. Emerald eyes glued to his, staring at him with a faintly mystified look.
What was is it about him that was making her so scattered? At this point it was taking all of Ariel's energy to focus on the reason she was in Red Bridge. It wasn't like her to get distracted! He's Sam's brother, she repeated in her mind every time she started thinking about osculation of any form. The fact that he kept looking at her like she was concentrated sun shine didn't help.
The piercing sound of her cell phone brought Ariel back to her senses in a flash. She reached for her back pocket and yanked out the shrieking contraption, glancing at the caller display before opening the shell.
"Brooke, where are you?"
"Motel. Are you at the diner?
"Service station. Don't worry I have your food." Disappointment ringing clear through her voice, she flipped the thin silver coloured phone shut and looked at the golden haired man standing in front of her in the waning sunlight. "I have to go."
He gestured towards the dirt road they had just taken and smiled. They started to walk back towards the motel in relative silence.
The line was dead. Brooke looked at her cell phone, wondering why her sister had been in such a hurry to end the call, and flipped it shut and placed it back on the dinged sea blue night stand. Great, Brooke thought to herself as she wrapped the pale blue towel firmly around herself, I'm staying at a fish motel. She stared at the three foot rainbow trout nailed to the dingy blue and grey walls. Two queen sized beds sat below either side of the mounted fish on the wall.
Tying her freshly washed hair into a braid reaching just past her shoulder, she gave the room a quick scan, pausing at the window. At first she thought she was seeing things, so she moved closer to the window and pulled the faded blue curtains away completely. There, sitting in the parking lot, was her little sister, talking to some guy on the hood of a black sixty-seven Chevy Impala. With Kansas license plates.
"Oh my God!" The incredulity of seeing something she knew couldn't be possible was enough to send her barrelling towards the door. Grabbing at her boots, she tried desperately to stay calm, only pausing long enough to fasten the buckles securely to her feet before she stamped out the door.
"Dean Winchester, you get the hell away from my sister!"