A/N: If anyone is still reading, I'm sorry it's taken so long. I got a review and I realized it's been A LONG time and I decided just to sit down and write and not get up until the story is over. So here it is, for better or for worse. It deserved an ending. Even one short and sweet like this.
Chapter 38 - It's about time
"Hit the bitch where it hurts." Liri said with a voice far softer than anyone had expected. Then as though she sensed the question beaming from her listeners she took a deep breath and continued. "Her heart. That's what she craves. She seeks the hearts of those in love, those who hide their love from others. She hates them for squandering the very thing she can never have and she punishes them by posing as their beloved and killing them and stealing their heart. In theory if you can slow her down, cause her pain so she can't speed walk her way to killing us before we shoot her, we can kill her."
"In theory?" Dean questioned sharply. The plan was to go into the woods and hunt down the bithae with a theory? That didn't seem like a strong enough incentive to risk all of their lives. Least of all Ariel's. After all the bithae wanted to kill her above all else.
Liri watched Dean with a slightly pensive expression. She knew how torn he felt about this plan. She could feel it. And with any luck the bithae would too. "In theory."
Brooke decided to join the conversation despite being relatively silent up to that point. "And with what do you purpose we shoot her with, you said no ordinary bullet will do the job."
"Rose gold." Liri said with a smile as she handed a single bullet to Brooke. The buckshot looked more like a rosy copper than gold, but it was the purest rose gold she could find. Quite a feet considering with the exception of this small specimen the concept of rose gold being pure at all was ridiculous. "Very special rose gold."
"I don't like this at all." Sam muttered to himself, but considering this was the best plan anyone had yet to come up with it didn't really matter what he thought. "Let's get this over with."
"I don't think this is a good idea."
Ariel rubbed her head violently trying with what every fiber of her being to ease the pain that pulsated through her temples. Deep breathes. You can do this. You have to.
Her mind was glued on the final the discussion the five of them had at the motel before venturing out to this godforsaken forest. And the single rose gold bullet that Brooke was carrying. Ariel looked out into the darkness hoping to catch a glimpse of her sister. There was nothing but the outlines of trees and the light glimmer of stars overhead. It was hard not to feel lonely and exposed in the shadows.
"We're all here Ari. Just focus." Ariel heard Liri's voice loud and clear in her mind though she knew she hadn't spoken a word. There was a strong wind just then, a wind so strong brush and dust were picked up and moved about in a violent tempest. Once the wind died down enough that it was save to open her eyes Ariel was treated to a welcomed sight. Dean was standing not far from her. She could make out his perfect features in the dim light. And there it was, that smile that melted her very soul.
"Are you all right?" Dean asked quietly. He moved so slowly towards Ariel that his footsteps didn't disturb the ground. "I couldn't see you."
"I'm doing to be fine." Ariel whispered. Her right hand quickly wrapped around the small pendant draped around her neck and her eyes shut instantly. Before she could so much as breathe a shot ran through the air. Her eyes snapped opened and Dean was gone. Not surprisingly, the bithae had once again appeared to her as Dean. This time they had been prepared.
"I missed!" Sam shouted, thoroughly upset with himself. He had a perfect shot yet the moment the bullet had left the gun the creature had vanished into clouded storm.
Brooke saw the creature materialize in front of her sister almost as quickly as it had disappeared. "There she is."
Brooke and Dean shot in unison yet once again the creature was gone before the bullet hit. Ariel stood very still knowing that one poorly selected position would end with her colliding with a bullet.
"Kept firing!" Liri screamed above the roar of gunfire. She knew what would happen if they let the bithae get close enough to Ariel touch her. She also knew Ariel had been so jarred by the flare of bullets that she wasn't keeping up her end. "Help us out here Ariel!"
Ariel shut her eyes once again. Focusing her energy not on the sounds around her or even the rush of the wind that ripped at her clothes, but on Dean. Images flashed through her mind like her own personal ammunition. Memories of the times they had spent, their first meeting in that diner what seemed like a lifetime ago. Their first kiss, the first time Ariel had shared her empathic gift with another person. The way her heart leaped at the very thought of him. The intoxicating feeling of waking up in his arms and the overwhelming dominance of one single understanding surrounded her. Love. She loved Dean with every facet of her heart and mind. And just this once, just for this moment she stopped rationalizing it, or denying it. She just felt.
"I don't know what she's doing but it's working!" Sam cried over the barrel of his shotgun. Pausing only to reload his munitions he marvelled as what had once been a whirl of wind and brush was now a tangible creature.
Though the bithae was still moving faster than the bullets she was no longer disappearing and reappearing in circles around Ariel, merely dodging the bullets that constantly assailed it. Liri moved quickly towards Dean and grabbed his shoulder. She used every ounce of her strength to find and project each complicated and overwhelming emotion and memory surrounding Ariel she could find in his mind. The bithae paused, looking toward the source of the emissions and in that very instant two shots ripped through the creature's torso. As though reminded of its purpose for being there the bithae turned back to Ariel despite the pain that was racking through its body and grabbed onto its target. Ariel screamed in pain as the creature's slicing crawls took hold. In that moment her heart stopped. This is it. It's over. Once again she remembered that fateful night in the warehouse where she had willing traded her life for her family. She hated knowing that she would be subjecting them to the same terrible sight she had once endured. That helpless feeling that overcame you as you watched someone you love slip away into death's cold embrace was all too familiar. Searing pain carved through her chest as the bithae made it's way to her heart. Yet it was not pain that made her cry out. The simple burning truth that she concealed behind layers of logic and fear remained. Ariel Cooper was in love with Dean Winchester, and she was about to die without truly admitting it to herself or him.
The bithae stood over Ariel in a twisted sort of awe. In all the years and with all the hearts that had been held in its hands, not one had been able to articulate in thoughts, emotions and images how deeply their love cut them to their soul. And that was the point that moment when death was on their doorsteps that that love truly beamed. It was sickening, like a fowl stench love overflowed in their hearts.
"Now or never!" Liri screamed with what little strength she still possessed. "Shoot it!"
Brooke dropped the shotgun she had loaded with regular buckshots and in the same motion she pulled a silver double barrel gun up to her chest. She braced the gun and took aim in record time and fired. A blast of gold cut through the air unlike anything she had ever seen. Brooke's breath held as the small bullet pierced through the bithae's snow-white skin. Center mass. A perfect kill shot. And she waited.
Nothing. The bithae still hovered over her sister's still form, crawls at her chest as though nothing had happened.
"Ariel!" Dean and Sam shouted in unison. Rushing towards her in concert. Brooke stood silent, unsure what to do other than stare and will the bullet to work.
Dean was the first to reach Ariel and the creature. If his heart was still beating, he didn't feel it. His only thoughts were of Ariel and with every step he prayed like never before that it was not too late. And then he saw it. A small gold circular wound glimmering in the moonlight like a firecracker. The bithae's eyes shifted from white to black and back again simultaneously. Without thought his hands took firm hold of Ariel and with every bit of strength that resonated in his body he pulled her from the bithae's grip. Ariel was in his arms before he realized what he had done and Sam's tight fist was on his back pulling Dean away from the creature.
Brooke watched in horror as the creature began to glow like a melting pot. Each vein revealed as the rose gold worked slowly throughout its still white form. And just as Sam pulled Dean and Ariel clear of the glow the entire area was alit with flames as the creature imploded. The blast knocked Brooke on her back several feet away from where she had once stood. After the white light of the explosion there was nothing but darkness once again and a quiet previously unmatched. And then there was nothing at all.
Liri smiled sweetly at Ariel in a fashion that neither thought possible. After a week of dealing with Brooke's frantic worry for her sister, Sam's silent turmoil as he questioned every move they had taken wondering if it had been enough and Dean's emotionally driven pacing, Liri was so thankful Ariel was awake.
It took Ariel a few moments to realize she was lying in a bed back at the motel. Her head ached so badly she was certain it was cracked open, but upon a brief search with her fingers she was relieved to know it was intact. Ariel used her arms to slowly prop herself up and despite the pain burning at her head she felt fairly good. Was it all a dream?
"Nope. It happened. It came, we saw, you conquered. I'm impressed." Liri smirked as she moved off the bed Ariel was still occupying. Sensing Ariel's thoughts were a good sign she was going to be just fine. Ariel had healed sufficiently from the bithae's attack and Liri had a club to run. No time for wasted pleasantries. "Give me a call when you're back in Canada, Archer. We miss you at the Playhouse."
Without another word Liri had grabbed her jacket from the chair by the door and left swiftly through it leaving Ariel alone trying to piece her memory back together. She remembered the bithae's cold gaze piercing through her soul and its sharp crawls ripped through her tender flesh. Staying on her left elbow she examined her chest with her right hand and found several small cuts surrounding her heart. Yet they seemed to healing very well. In fact touching them barely hurt at all. Ariel remembered being pulled from the creature's grasp and held tightly in Dean's arms. She had tried to tell him how she felt then, but her lips hadn't the strength to part yet alone speak. That was the extent of her recollection. Ariel twisted off the bed careful not to move too quickly, unsure of what her body was capable of at the moment. Tentatively she got to her feet and made her way to the bathroom. Moments later she had successfully gotten to the shower and much to her surprise she felt absolutely fine, minus the now subsiding head ache.
Dean swallowed the last of his coffee as he pushed through the motel door. He couldn't stand sitting around at the diner waiting. Yet that's exactly what Liri had insisted on for last week or so. Everyday she'd come in and rub a purple goop on Ariel's chest and forehead that smelled like a rotting cat's ass. Without fail she had shoed Sam, Brooke and himself out to eat three times a day with orders not to return until she called. Today he just couldn't wait. If nothing else the goop seemed to helping Ariel. Her wounds were all but heeled and her colour had returned. A chill always braced his spine when he thought of how pail she had been that night the bithae was destroyed. She had almost been as white as the creature itself. He tossed his empty cup in the trash by the door and saw Ariel sitting at the small table by the window. Beautiful and healthy and perfect just the way she was every time he pictured her in his mind. His smile vanished just as quickly as it appeared when he turned to look at the bed where she had been day and night for a week. She wasn't there. His eyes snapped back to the figure sitting by the window, the figure he had sworn was only his imagination keeping his sane. Ariel rose from the table slowly, not sure what was running through Dean's mind as he smiled, frowned and then went pale only to look at her as through she were an apparition.
"Ariel?" Dean couldn't hide the shock in his voice, no more than he could prevent his feet from taking him to Ariel's side. Before she could speak he wrapped his arms around her back and lifted her into his arms. He held her there, close to his heart letting his body register her weight in his arms before he'd let himself believe. She was fine. Perfectly fine. Better than fine, she was in his arms.
"Is it over?" Ariel whispered softly.
Dean released her reluctantly, keeping his hands light on her shoulders. "Yes."
"I love you, Dean. I love you and I know that that's insane because of the life we have to lead, but I love you." Ariel shuddered, she had promised herself in those quite moments when she thought she was going to die that she'd tell him, no matter how fast that made him run in the other direction. She couldn't go to her deathbed without admitting the truth to both of them. "And I didn't want to tell you, I didn't want to admit it because I was so certain that if I said it and meant it, it would hurt that much more when you're gone."
Dean framed Ariel's face in his hands and kissed her with every ounce of fervent passion that burned through his veins. Her head fell back against the onslaught of his kisses and her hands grasped the cold leather of his jacket to keep from falling even as his arms wrapped around her waist. There he was, holding the one woman who managed to reach past the layers of bullshit that he had concocted down to the very depths of his soul. She could see through it all and yet she was still there. Loving him. In his arms, where he knew she'd always belong because he needed as much as the air he was breathing. Dean pulled back just enough to look into her eyes, ripe with the very emotion he had feared within himself. An almost devilish smile formed across his lips as he spoke slowly. "Ariel, I told you. I'm not going anywhere."