For my b-e-a-utiful reviewers: XKaterinaNightingaleX, grapejuice101, Amara Rose 4 Ever, Carver Edlund and Hope of Darkness
Adiana awoke from a sound sleep feeling oddly well rested. She had just been so exhausted and overwhelmed. No dreams had troubled her last night, and she woke ready to consider the problem at hand. She covered a yawn with the back of her hand and stretched out her toes. Sam sounded asleep, although she couldn't be positive when he had his back to her. Dean was sleeping for sure. His breathing was slow and quiet in her ear, and his body held none of the tension she had felt last night before she fell asleep. It was the perfect time to do some serious thinking.
First things first then. She was almost certain that the boys knew what this creature that kept showing up was. How did she know that? Well, for one, Sam had gotten this shifty look on his face when she was talking about it yesterday and was throwing glances at Dean when he thought she wasn't looking. Her second piece of evidence was that blade Dean had brought into the dream. She had never seen it, and she had been walked through their entire inventory of weapons back when they'd been teaching her about hunting. Besides that, every creature had a specific weakness or weapon to take it down. If Dean hadn't known what could hurt the creature, he would have taken something general like plain iron or silver, which could kill lots of monsters. She frowned, lightly sliding her fingers over Dean's hand at her waist. So why weren't they telling her what it was if they knew? Her best guess on that front came from what the creature had told her. It felt secure knowing that Adiana didn't have a clue what it was. That knowledge could potentially be used to destroy it, so that wasn't exactly surprising. In sum, the boys were trying to protect her. Fine. That sounded like them. Only problem was, she needed to know. It mattered to her, now more than ever. She would never be able to make the decision that had been set before her until she knew what that woman was.
Okay, so she had to figure out what the creature was, and the boys already had that information. Second problem. How was she going to find out? Out of the two Winchesters, Sam was the one most likely to tell her. He seemed like he wanted to tell her already, but Dean had likely bullied him into silence. If she got Sam alone, she might be able to weasel the truth out of him. However, she had the impression that Dean wasn't going to leave her side long enough for that to happen. If she woke him up now – but no, that might make too much noise and wake Dean, too. Next option, confront Dean. That could go two ways. She could conceivably make him see it her way. On the other hand, he could completely shut her down. He was worried enough as it was. Third option, she figured it out by herself. With all that she had seen in her dream, she had a lot more to go on now. The fire she had already known about, but not those wings. Plus, the woman had given her a riddle. What had it been exactly? Something about being old and smoke and flame. Adiana bit on the inside of her lip and stared at the pattern on Sam's blanket as she thought hard. The woman had said so much, and she couldn't remember it all exactly. She'd have to come back to that riddle. The blade could be another hint. If Dean had it in a dream, he must also have the real thing, and he would keep it close.
Slowly, Adiana slipped from Dean's grasp. No movement. Excellent. So where would Dean keep this blade? Somewhere close, where he could get to it quickly. She checked the bedside table. Too easy. His coat, maybe? Her feet were silent on the carpet as she crept over to the chair he had slung his jacket over. There was a penknife in the pockets, but not the blade. Travel bag? That one she hovered over for a few minutes. Going through his bag felt like an invasion of privacy, but she had to know. She slid open the zipper and rummaged around. Clothing, razor, John's journal, handcuffs, shotgun… Lots of things, but not one of them was the blade he'd had. Hang on, but what was this?
From the bottom of the canvas bag, she drew out an old, faded shirt. It wasn't the shirt that had interested her. What interested her was that there was something folded inside the shirt, and that something felt like a folder full of papers. What are you hiding, Dean? Adiana glanced over at Dean. He still hadn't moved. A quick look. She would take one look and if it had nothing to do with her, she'd put it away and apologize to him later. She unfolded the shirt and pulled a thick manila folder out. It wasn't labeled. Of course not. No one labeled folders they were trying to keep secret. One of her hands hovered over the cover. Should she? If he wanted her to know what was in here, he wouldn't be trying so hard to hide it. Unless it wasn't her he was hiding it from? Her stomach was bubbling as though she'd swallowed something unpleasant. She couldn't do it. Feeling disgusted with herself for even getting this far, she went to shove the folder back into the shirt when one of the papers slipped part of the way out. Her eyes caught it before she could think twice, and they widened. The piece of paper was part of a map on which one town had been circled: Independence, Kansas. Her gaze traveled up to Dean's back and to the paper again. That's when she made her decision. She sat back and opened the folder.
Sam was the first one to wake up, after sleeping in much past their usual early wakeup time. Adiana figured he'd probably been up late last night. Considering what she knew about Sam, being up late consisted of him worrying. When she heard the bed springs creaking, she glanced over just in time to note that the first thing Sam did was check the bed where he thought she'd be. It made her smile softly and just a touch sadly.
"Good morning," she greeted quietly from her spot on the couch, so that he wouldn't panic even for a moment when he saw her gone.
"Hey." He sat up in bed and rolled his shoulders, stretching them. He gave a nod towards her laptop. "What have you been doing?"
"I think I found us a case. Come see." She put a hand on the seat cushion beside her. Sam got out of his bed and came over to the couch. Once he had sat down, she turned the laptop screen so that he could see. The screen showed two pictures in a newspaper article. One of the pictures was of a young woman's face. She had long brown hair and green eyes with a distant gaze. The other picture was of a man with a large mustache and a hard look. "Okay, so there's this couple, Ryan and Emma Ford. Three days ago, the police get a phone call from a friend of Ryan's telling them that they need to come to the Ford residence ASAP. They get there and find this." She brought up another page, this one from a police database. This one was a photo of the house, small but pretty and right on a beach. "See those?" She pointed at indentations in the sand. "Those are drag marks. There's blood in there too, apparently. They lead all the way from the Fords' bedroom to the water. The blood is Ryan's. They had it tested. They also dragged the harbor for his body and found nothing. There were no signs of forced entry. Oh, and his wife? She's missing.
"'So what?' you say. His wife killed him, dumped him and took off. That's the general suspicion, after all. It makes sense. There's nothing supernatural about this." She leaned back and held up a finger. "But, wait. There's more. Check this out." She touched a few keys and yet another picture popped up. This one was a close-up of the drag marks in the sand. "So, if someone is dragging Ryan down to the water, they're gonna leave footprints in the sand. If they're smart, they'll cover them up, but look." She gestured to the sand on the right of the marks. "On this side you see a partial footprint. That's not the killer's. It's Ryan's. I checked all along the marks and that side is just imprints left from people on the beach. No one did anything on that side at all. No clean up. Nothing. Then there's the left side." A few keys clacked and the screen zoomed in. Sam's eyebrows furrowed.
"What is that?" he asked. Adiana shrugged.
"That's the big question. They're not mentioned in the papers, and the police don't know either. On the report, someone wrote down 'possible animal tracks' with a big question mark. Of course, an animal on the beach wouldn't be unheard of, but there were a few of these inside the house in blood." They both stared at the imprint. It was curved along both sides, but longer on one with small bumps connecting the two sides. Finally, Adiana shook her head. "So anyway, there's that. Then, there's this." She pulled up a picture of Ryan and Emma standing next to each other. "I mean, look at them. Ryan is this huge, beefy guy and Emma's gotta be what… maybe five feet and skinny. Like I wish I was that skinny." She squinted at the picture. "Basically, there is no way she is dragging him all the way from the second floor of their house to the water and out far enough that she was sure his body wasn't going to wind up on shore. And there would be a much better attempt at covering this up if it was pre-meditated with a secret lover or hired assassin, right?"
"Right. Yeah, it's definitely weird," Sam agreed. "Do you mind, if I—" He held out a hand toward the laptop.
"In one second. I haven't told you the best part. Since this was looking weird and all, I did some digging. Luckily, this is an old, historic town, so they have online newspaper archives. A lot of the older papers have been damaged, but this one was mostly okay…" She began going through the links. "Where are you.. Ah, here." She stopped. "This article's from eighteen fifty-three. Elizabeth Michaels was accused of murdering her husband George. Allegedly, she killed him in their house and dragged him down to the water. No body was ever found, and Elizabeth was already gone when someone found the place. Oh, and they also owned a beachfront property. The story caused quite a sensation. Okay, now you can have the laptop."
Adiana handed the laptop over and leaned back against the armrest while Sam went through everything she had pulled. She was a little proud of herself for finding it. Of course, it was probably nothing for Sam. He was the one who taught her how to hack into all this stuff.
"Well, it looks like a lead," he said at long last.
"But… what?" Sam, for his part, did appear genuinely confused. Adiana's eyebrows rose.
"But, Adiana, we can't take this case right now," she said in a poor imitation of Sam's voice. "We'll have to give it to someone else. I'm worried about you. Dean's worried about you. We can't let you out on a dangerous case. Something might happen, and I won't be able to stop it." Sam was just staring at her, and Adiana's shoulders drooped. "I'm sorry. That was really insensitive of me. It's only—"
"No, I get it. It's just that, I wasn't going to say any of that. I think we should take the case."
"Yeah." Adiana crossed her legs on the couch and squinted at him.
"Yeah," Sam said with an almost laugh. "For real."
"Well, thanks." He nodded and went back to reading through the old article, but despite the small smile on his lips, Adiana didn't think he looked quite as happy as he had before. She nearly told him then, but she didn't. Instead, she leaned on his arm, skimming the article again. "The way they word this, it's like they're so surprised. Not that I think she did it, but still."
"You know, most people back then didn't believe in female killers. Not in picket-fence, little towns."
"Sexist bastards," Adiana mumbled under her breath. "I could take out a whole town if I wanted to."
"All right there, Mrs. Fisher," said Sam, smiling indulgently. He closed the laptop and handed it back to her. She straightened up.
"Excuse me?" She jabbed him lightly in the side with her finger so he jumped.
"You don't think I could plan a murder spree?"
"I don't know." Now he was actually grinning. Excellent. She leapt at him, knocking him down on the couch. It was true that he could have easily held her off, but he'd obviously not been expecting an attack. She smiled impishly down on him with one of her hands on either of his shoulders.
"Sam Winchester, I will strangle you right here and now." Sam's eyebrows rose, but instead of pushing her off, he folded his arms across his chest.
"Can't. You've got a witness."
"Who?" She followed Sam's gaze over to Dean. She rolled her eyes. "Oh please, he's not even awake."
"I'll wake him up."
"How? You can't get to him."
"And I'll cover your mouth." She raised a warning hand.
"You're going to use one hand to strangle me?" Adiana opened her mouth and shut it. She bit the inside of her lip and thought. Then, her lips curved into a smile.
"They'll throw out your witness." Sam's forehead wrinkled when he frowned.
"He's a wanted criminal with much worse charges then mine. His testimony will never stand in court. Take that." She poked him in the chest. "I'm walking, Mr. Lawyer."
"What, so I leave you two alone for a few minutes and this turns into a Law and Order?" Adiana shifted back from Sam and peaked over at Dean. He hadn't got out of bed, but he had rolled over and his eyes were open. He winked. Irked, Adiana stuck her tongue out at him. He grinned cheekily. "That's real cute." He ducked under his pillow, off which the couch cushion Adiana had thrown bounced harmlessly.
"Okay, get out from under that pillow before I change my mind about throwing something else," Adiana granted, tapping one of her feet on the floor. "We're going." Dean peeked out from under the pillow, and then lifted his head when he saw that no more cushions were going to be thrown at him. Adiana had picked up her laptop and was putting it in her bag, while Sam made his way over to bathroom. Dean sat up and slung his legs over the edge of the bed.
"On that case?" Adiana slung his bag up on the end of the bed and pulled out some clothes, making extra sure that he saw her rifling up everything inside.
"How long exactly have you been awake?"
"Adiana, we've got bigger fish to fry than-"
"That's the thing about fish, Dean. The bigger they are, the longer they need to fry." She set the clothes down next to him and kissed his cheek. "So right now, I'd rather focus on the little fish, okay? Hey." She put her finger under his chin, forcing his gaze towards her. "Please?"
"All right," agreed Dean, after consideration. Adiana kissed him on the lips this time.
"Sure." Dean stood up and picked up the clothes she'd placed beside him. "Alright, Sammy, you can stop staring yourself down in the mirror. I'm still the handsome one, and I need to use the shower." Sam poked his head out of the bathroom door. His lips were turned down in a scowl. He pulled the toothbrush from his mouth.
"You're a friggin' jerk sometimes. You know that?" As they started arguing, Adiana shook her head. Oh, boys. There was little use stopping this argument, and in the weirdest way, it made her smile. She started to zip up Dean's bag. It was almost like things had already gone back to normal. Her hand rested on the bag when it was closed, and her gaze clouded slightly. Almost.