Title: By Lachesis' Measure

Fandom: "Supernatural"/modern-day AU "The Magnificent Seven"

Disclaimer: not my characters, anyone you recognize; just for fun.

Warnings: pre-series for "Supernatural"; spoilers for season two

Pairings: Ellen/Bill

Rating: PG13

Wordcount: 1170

Notes: "Lachesis" is the Greek Fate who measures the thread of life.


He storms into the Roadhouse one blustery winter day, covered in snow and snarling. Behind him trails another man—taller, broader—muttering something about bull-headed pride. She looks up, poised to welcome them—like she welcomes everyone into her saloon—but the first man's thunderous expression silences her.

Without being told, Jo darts outta sight. Bill isn't home at the moment; off huntin' with John and some of the boys, he'll be back Friday at the latest. It's just her and Jo, not countin' the various hunters, so Ellen reaches for her shotgun, keeps her hand on it as the first man storms to a table in the back and the taller one comes up to her.

"Excuse 'im, ma'am," he says, blue eyes twinklin' and just a bit sad. "He's had a rough year."

Ellen smiles her forgiveness and asks, "What can I get you, sugar?"

He smirks, nods, knows he's been caught. Ellen knows a flirt when she sees one. "Whiskey, please."

She serves him and he tips an imaginary hat, carries the two glasses to his friend's table. Ellen watches 'em for a second before turnin' back to the never-endin' chores.

o0o

They stay for hours, silently nursin' their whiskey. Customers come and go; none speak to the two men. She covertly studies 'em: the first, the angry one, has dark blond hair shorn close, though a few errant bangs flip into his face. She didn't really see his eyes when he first stormed in, but now that she has time, she notices that they're a hard green. A dangerous green.

Reminds her of John Winchester, this man does. And that nearly frightens her.

The other, flirt with melancholy eyes, is gorgeous; reminds her of her Bill. Taller than Bill, though, and broader. She mentally measures him—maybe even bigger'n John. Dangerous, too. Perhaps more dangerous than his friend.

Jo peeks back into the main-room and Ellen shakes her head. Jo returns to the back, doin' whatever she was doin'. Ellen smiles, watchin' her little girl slip back down the hall. Adorable. Looks like Bill. Once Bill gets back, Ellen decides, they'll get back to havin' more kids.

Blondie slams down his glass and Ellen pulls her attention back to him. Flirt quirks a brow and says something softly. Blondie snarls in reply.

Ellen sighs.

o0o

Closin' comes and goes. Flirt asks if she has any rooms available; he's got more'n enough cash to pay the night. Thing is, he explains, they're sorta in the middle'a nowhere and they're both too smashed to drive. Not to mention, it'll start snowin' again any minute now.

Ellen raises a brow and Flirt pulls out a set of puppy-eyes equal to Jo's. To her shame, even Ellen—married to the best man in the world for nigh on twelve years now—isn't immune to Flirt's charm. She caves like a house of cards.

"One night," she says firmly. "Hundred dollars for the both'a ya." She feels a bit guilty for chargin' 'im for what she gives freely to friends, but—he's dangerous. They both are. Remind her of hunters, except they're not, because she knows most of 'em.

Flirt helps his friend up and she leads the way to the room, slightly uneasy with 'em at her back, where she can't see what they're up to. Which is silly, she knows. They wouldn't try anythin' here, on her own ground. Plus, Flirt doesn't seem the type to hurt women.

Flirt thanks her, lowering Blondie onto one of the beds, the one further from the door. She smiles and backs away, leavin' the door slightly ajar.

Time to finish cleanin' and put Jo to bed, then try sleepin' herself.

o0o

She's behind the bar early next mornin', doin' minor things. Flirt drags himself outta bed first and sags on a stool, smiles winnin'ly at her. "May I please have somethin' to eat, ma'am?" he drawls, blue eyes just twinklin' away.

"Don't serve breakfast, sugar," she tells him with a grin. "There're some diners a few dozen miles on up the road, though."

He droops, nearly poutin'. "And here I was, hopin' for some of what must surely be the best hotcakes this side of the Mississippi."

That startles a laugh out of her and she shakes her head. He's a flirt, alright. Cute, too. "Gather up your friend," she suggests, pourin' him a glass of water. "Then get 'im fed before the whiskey eats a hole in his intestines."

He laughs now, though to her it sounds a mite desperate, and shot through with sadness. "Isn't whiskey been fermented yet that could defeat Chris Larabee."

Larabee—that name pings somethin' in her memory, but Flirt continues on with, "You're right, ma'am. Best gather him up and get gone." He stands, tilts an imaginary hat again. "Places to be."

She watches him saunter to the back, eyes trailin' along his body—mighty fine specimen, he is. Nearly Bill's equal. She sure hopes Bill gets home early this hunt.

"Mama!" Jo exclaims, rushin' in. "There's some deer out back!" Jo whirls around and runs full-tilt towards the back door, and Ellen has to beat the speed of light before Jo gets outside in the freezing wind dressed in nothin' but her PJ's—an old shirt of Bill's that's no match for December weather.

"Put on some real clothes, honey," Ellen says, swingin' up her daughter into her arms. Jo's too big for this, nearin' seven, but she snuggles close anyway. "And a couple of jackets. Don't forget mittens. Then come back, let me inspect, and we'll go see if the deer are still here. 'kay?"

Jo pouts but nods and Ellen lets her down. Jo hustles off, always eager to meet new animals. She shares that with her Uncle Freddy, Ellen's youngest brother. Reminds Ellen that she needs to call up Freddy, see how he's been gettin' on with that spitfire wife of his. Been too long since they talked.

She's enterin' the main-room when Flirt comes in, draggin' Blondie—Chris—with him. "Thank you for the room, ma'am," Flirt says. "Mighty kind of you."

Chris grunts somethin' Ellen decides to interpret as his thanks.

"Be careful in the snow, now, ya hear?" she says and Flirt nods.

"Ma'am, you have no need to worry 'bout us." His smile is wide open as the sky, but his eyes tell her otherwise. These boys—men—need someone to worry 'bout them. But Ellen's life is full; she's got no room for 'em.

Jo sprints back in—again—bundled up like they live in Alaska and Flirt slips out the door, Chris beside him.

She checks Jo over, determines she's wearin' enough layers for such a wintry day, and takes her daughter out to watch the deer.

Bill'll be home soon. She's got no need to wonder about those men, the shadows in their eyes, or the emptiness of Flirt's laughter. Even if she could tell that it used to be golden and full of joy.