Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Author's Note: Because in my Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades AU, Ava's alive, and was still alive on the show when I began it. Now, not so much. So here's how I see her coming back and becoming the woman I have made her out to be.

She remembers her life before. Mother, father, white picket fence. She sometimes got in trouble in high school, ultimately dropped out of college, and eventually lost herself in the arms of a man she couldn't possibly see herself married to now.

But, to be fair, despite remembering nearly every detail, knowing that past, her past, existed, she can't actually imagine herself as a part of it at all.

For Ava, there's a before – that nebulous cloud of mundane memories – and a now – a husband with too sly a smirk and three kids with too perfect of faces to possibly be hers. Before and after. Now and then.

They don't talk about the in between. They don't mention the time she spent as a killer, holed up in some bass-ackwards cowboy town, playing games with unsuspecting visitors. They don't talk about her being a murderer, or being murdered. They don't talk about how she managed to come back. Or why.

But that doesn't keep her from thinking about it all the time, working to make sense out of the images flashing inside her head, pictures of people being torn apart by invisible beasts mingling in with candid snapshots of her children laughing, smiling.

Much of it she can't make out, like smeared ink blotting a page, chunks of information gone missing. Dean says it's probably trauma, memories too terrible to remember being wiped clean from her mind. But she knows it's guilt, her unconscious denial keeping her awful acts at bay.

But she does remember some things. Waking up in that deserted town, alone, frightened, only to have others come, others her age with her…gifts, or ones like them. She remembers thinking, when the game first began, this is all a dream, a terrible, terrible dream. She remembers pinching herself to wake up after the first kill, opening her eyes, not to a darkened room with her fiancé snoring by her side, but to a blood soaked dirt floor with a still oozing body stretched across it.

It could have been weeks, days, hell, it might have been mere hours before she finally understood what was happening to her. Weeks, days, or only hours more before she decided that she liked it.

The stronger her powers became, the more diverse and deadly, the wider her smile grew. At first she knew it was wrong, killing, even if only to survive, and enjoying it after all was said and done. But as time dragged on, each day becoming less harrowing, more a redundant war game, and her powers grew, a sadistic sort of creativity, a horrific sense of artistic impression, allowed her to forget about what she knew and concentrate solely on what she felt.

Powerful. Godlike. Accomplished and victorious.

By the time Sam showed up in her quiet little town – and she does clearly remember his arrival, her superb acting skills shining brightly as the game commenced – her only thoughts were of how long she should play with the mice, bat them around, before biting off their heads.

There's enough guilt now, she's sure, to make up for all that she didn't feel, couldn't feel, back then. Enough grief and hollow, broken apologies beating around inside her chest to make up for all that she neglected before. Yet no amount of grief or guilt could ever make up for the taking of all those lives, the joy had in doing so, the camaraderie felt with those called upon to do her dirty work.

She should have stayed dead. Clearly, it was what she deserved. The first time she mentioned that to Sam , in the dark quiet of the night as the lay among the tangled, sweaty sheets, he didn't argue, didn't say a word. And she'll always admire him for that, for his too brutal honesty.

How and why she did come back, they may never really know. Best guess is simple. Somehow, killing the demon had given her a second shot at life, allowed her to wake, spinal cord surprisingly intact, on that same floor where she had laid out so many others. Never mind the obvious flaw in this theory – why didn't the other children like them return as well?

The first few days after her rebirth, first few weeks really, were a blur, only bits and pieces registering on any conscious level. Sam had told her, time and time again, back when she felt compelled to ask, back before her now, about how he found her, alive and well, after going back to the town.

He'd known he died there, but had no real memory of it. He'd known that enough had registered within his psyche at the time to allow him to unflinchingly empty a clip into Jake, and the fact that all the memories surrounding that horrific desire were conveniently missing sent him on a bizarre scavenger hunt for the truth.

So he went back to the town, alone, feeding Dean some bullshit story about research and meeting with some expert, in the hopes that just seeing the place might jog his memory. It didn't. His final death throes were lost, gone the way of his death itself. But he did find Ava, curled into a little ball beside Andy's ripe and rotting body, a wide eyed stare plastered to her pale round face.

And he puled a gun on her, of course, considered shooting her then and there, because, really, she was already dead anyway. Or had been at least. But he couldn't do it, not being a killer engraved in his bones as deeply, it seemed, as being one was in hers.

He bought her story, once she was with it enough to talk, about being sorry and wrong, and terribly, terribly bad. Perhaps she'd been brainwashed, effectively indoctrinated into the demonic world. Perhaps she was just weak, too weak to resist the desire to live, and the power of the kill. Either way, she blamed herself. She begged him to kill her, in those first few days. Over and over again, she begged him to end the constant barrage of bloody images her fractured mind produced.

It was two days before he untied her, moderately convinced of her sincerity, and her lack of being a threat.

Four more days before until he was willing to touch her gently, hold her close, rock and shush away her tears as she sobbed and pleaded for forgiveness. For death.

The second week in, watching her feign sleep as he lied some more to his brother over the phone, he decided to trust her, not just believe her, but actually trust her. And that night they fucked, hard and messy, Sam's huge hands leaving finger-shaped bruises hooked around her arms.

There are times she can still feel the violent push and pull of him inside her, the warm sweetness of his saliva spilling down her throat. She has a small scar on her back from where a light switch jutted into her flesh as he slammed her against the wall. She's never told Dean where that scar came from, never told either of them what it signals for her – the first real and true, physical pain of her life, her now.

Sam had brought her back, in one night of pure passion. He touched her, caressed her, shoved her and licked her. He pawed at her and fingered her and split her wide open before straight up fucking her. He made her body move in ways she didn't know it could, made her nerves hum at frequencies she'd forgotten how to feel. Her flesh felt real and hot and malleable beneath his fingers and his breath. He made her heart pound so wildly that she had no choice but to acknowledge that, whether she wanted it to or not, it was still beating. Still, and again.

His hands strangled her arms, and it hurt, real and true, sharp and sudden, an absolute contrast to the undying dull ache in her chest she'd had since waking on that floor.

A slick, sweet wetness overtook her, pooling at her base, pouring from every pore, and she realized there was more to her than mere tears.

And it wasn't anything really. It wasn't the start of some beautiful relationship, the blossoming stage of young love. It was nothing more than lonely desperation, confused and frightened hands reaching out, grabbing, taking hold of whatever they could find. Because both their stories were intertwined, both their lives and destinies. Because they were two dead people, mysteriously alive, with no idea how to live.

The next day she sat inside the stuffy hotel room, smelling of cheap food and sweaty sex, as Sam talked his brother out of killing him outside. He'd lied to Dean for nearly two weeks, kept so much from him, and for no real reason other than an immature sense of much needed privacy. Yet, even after discovering all the details of Ava, her life and demise and all that fell between, one word from Sam was enough for his brother to trust this seemingly untrustworthy woman. And that was the greatest gift he ever gave her.

Because Sam's fingertips dancing over her skin may have been the thing that hit her reboot button, brought her back to life. But it was Dean who made that life worth living, gave her hope and joy and the sense of safety she so craved. He was the one who gave her love and comfort, and a hectic house full of sweet child squeals. He was, simply put, the one.

There are times, even now, years later, that she lies awake at night, thinking about that awful in between, about who and what she had been. Times when she wonders where that person went. Times where she contemplates, if that Ava came to be so easily, so quickly, so out of the blue, and left much the same, who's to say she won't come back just as suddenly, just as deadly?

There are times she lies awake at night, her husband mumbling dreamily by her side, her children sleeping peacefully down the hall, when she tries to picture herself as the killer she once was, the sadistic, maniacal warrior she was made to become. And too many times, when thinking those thoughts, she finds herself smiling contentedly, a flicker of excitement jolting up her spine as she lets those awful fantasies lull her into a deep and restful sleep.