A/N: Okay, so I couldn't stop myself. I started writing a sequel to Welcome to Paradise. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess. Anyway, these first few chapters may be a little slow. I really want to reintroduce Ty and explain where she's at now. Any suggestions are welcome on how to improve the fic. As always, I own squat. Supernatural belongs to the CW, "Welcome to the Jungle" is a Guns 'N Roses song and the lyrics in this first chapter are from "Head Like A Hole" by Nine Inch Nails. However, on the upside I own Ty, this fic, and my own very dirty, very in-need-of-much-rebuilding 1967 Impala. So, without further ado, here's chapter one.
Welcome To The Jungle
Chapter One: I'd Rather Die
like a hole.
black as your soul.
i'd rather die than give you control.
head like a hole.
black as your soul.
i'd rather die than give you control.
bow down before the one you serve.
you're going to get what you deserve.
bow down before the one you serve.
you're going to get what you deserve.
Ty flung herself to the ground, rolling across the dirt until she was in the relative safety of the shadow of a boulder. She peaked up over the rock at her adversary, but hastily pulled her head back down when her eyes found the barrel of a gun trained on her location. A bullet ricocheted off the rock a second after she ducked.
"Son a bitch!" Ty exclaimed.
When Ty had taken this job, she'd figured it would be an easy salt and burn. Who could have known that the ghost of a cowboy would have a gun that fired very real bullets? What the hell was up with that?
Of course, everything had been going just fine until Ty'd lost track of how many shots she had fired and found herself firing at the ghost with an empty clip. Hence that stop-drop-and roll. Ty flipped over so her back was against the rock and ejected the empty clip from her gun. Luckily she had extra rounds with her just in case. Foresight wasn't really Ty's thing these days so it was something of a minor miracle that she'd filled her pocket with spare iron rounds. Ty wrapped her fingers around a handful and began shoving them in the clip rapidly. She was sure Doc Holiday out there wasn't going to let her have too much of a breather.
Admittedly, this probably wasn't the best job for Ty to take on solo. The cowboy had a thing for girls. Well, uppity girls, anyway, of which Ty most assuredly was one. Apparently his chauvinism hadn't died with him and the angry spirit had taken to murdering girls who didn't "know their place." To top it off, no one really knew who the cowboy was. There were a lot of rumors as to his identity, but nothing certain. Still, Ty had figured that she'd be able to nail it down, dig up a grave and be done with it. She hadn't figured that her just showing up with a gun strapped to her hip, sporting her usual badass, tomboy attitude would piss this poltergeist off to no end. Apparently, Ty was the embodiment of everything a women should not be in this ghost's opinion. So, he'd taken it upon himself to teach her a lesson, one Ty wasn't particularly keen on learning.
"Done makin' a fuss, you brazen lil' slut?" the cowboy drawled, punctuating his question by spitting on the ground as if to emphasize his opinion of her.
He sounded closer than he'd been last Ty time had looked. Ty gave up on filling the clip and hoped that she wouldn't need more than five bullets. She jammed the clip back in the gun and cocked it, waiting.
"In your dreams." Ty snapped back, "When are you going to figure out your not near man enough to beat me?"
"Big words for a lil' girl hidin' behind a rock." the cowboy growled, "If you were a man I'd really kick the shit out o' you."
Ty smiled and snarked back, stealing a line from some TV show with Glenn Close she'd seen previews for earlier that week, "If you were a man, I'd be scared."
The cowboy snarled loudly in response. He sounded really close now. Ty couldn't wait any longer. She rolled out of her hiding place, coming up on one knee and taking aim at the same time. The cowboy was quick, whirling towards her, his gun whipping around to take aim on her. But before he could bring his arm all the way around, Ty was squeezing the trigger. The bullet exploded from her gun and hit dead on, smack in the chest. The cowboy staggered back and disappeared.
Ty let go of the breath she'd been holding and slowly climbed back to her feet. He'd be back soon. Maybe, just maybe she should rethink this before taking him on again. Ty sighed and rolled her eyes as she jammed her gun back into its holster. Regrouping and coming up with a plan was such a drag. It was much more fun to just go in there guns blazing and wing it, making things up as she went along. Ever since she'd gone on that hunt with the boys and cheated death, she found that she just didn't have it in her to worry about the consequences anymore. She'd done that. She'd felt herself paralyzed with fear. Hell, she'd even died. She'd faced it all and come out the other side of it. She'd faced down the freaking yellow-eyed demon for Pete's sake! How could some stupid spectral cowboy possibly scare her now?
Ty dragged her feet a little as she trudged out of the desert and back towards the highway where she'd left her car. She knew that she seemed reckless. Okay, so she was being reckless, but so far it had worked out perfectly fine for her. So maybe she'd earned a few war wounds, but hell, scars were cool. They were badges of honor, really. And so maybe she should have asked for help, especially on this last one, just punched one of those buttons in her phone that would connect her with Sam or Dean Winchester, but it was so damn hard to actually do it. She still remembered perfectly Dean's lectures on how she didn't know what she was doing, how it was too dangerous for her, and the last thing she wanted to do was prove him right in any way. Maybe she was being a little irrational about that because Dean hadn't voiced any of those sentiments following the completion of their hunt, but that didn't mean that those words were erased. They still existed in her memory, echoing back to her whenever she contemplated calling them. And yet, she might just have to swallow her pride and just call them on this one.
"What? And prove Wyatt Earp right? Prove that you need a man to take him down? Forget that!" Ty argued with herself, her hands curling into fists at her sides.
She just needed to think about this a little more, outsmart him. Guns blazing might not be the way to go this time. That didn't mean she couldn't handle it. It just meant that she needed to take a different approach. Nodding to herself, Ty picked up the pace the remaining distance to her car, ready to get the hell out of here for the night and resolved to do this on her own.
There was no way for Ty to know that hundreds of miles away, the decision was being taken out of her hands. Hundreds of miles from where Ty was antagonizing a homicidal undead cowboy, Dean and Sam were walking into the Roadhouse where Ellen was waiting for them. Rumors of a reckless blonde female hunter had made there way back to her through the network of hunters that came through her bar and Ellen knew that there was a chance that it was her girl they were talking about going off half-cocked against the forces of evil. Ellen had debated taking off for the Southwest and finding this girl herself. Then, if it turned out to be Jo doing these things, she could drag her home by the hair. She'd thought long and hard about it and finally decided that forcing Jo to give up hunting just wouldn't work. She'd already had that argument with her daughter and it had ended with Jo storming out and never coming back. Jo just had too much of her father in her. Trying to force her to do she didn't want to do would just result in a greater rift between them. So, Ellen had called Sam and Dean in the hopes that they might be able to succeed in bringing her girl home where she would not. Besides, those boys owed her a favor.
"Sam, Dean. I'm glad you're here." Ellen greeted the boys as they walked up to the bar.
"Ellen." Dean nodded, sliding onto a bar stool and accepting the beer Ellen placed on the bar in front of him.
Sam smiled his thanks also, but didn't touch his drink. Instead, he cut right to the chase, "You said you needed a favor?"
Ellen nodded, glad that they weren't going to waste any time, "There's been some talk about a blonde girl hunting things. They say she's throwing herself in harms way, going in guns blazing, and she's going to get herself killed."
"You think it's Jo?" Dean asked, setting his beer down, frowning.
"Well, I don't know. I haven't heard from her in weeks."
"Where?" Dean asked.
"Last I heard was Arizona." Ellen said.
Dean and Sam exchanged a look.
"What?" Ellen demanded, "What is it?"
"It might not be Jo." Sam said, turning back towards Ellen, "We...uh...crossed paths with a blonde hunter in Arizona a few months back. Her name's Ty."
Relief flashed across Ellen's face momentarily. It might be selfish, but the possibility that it wasn't her girl these guys were talking about and practically making bets on when she'd get wasted made it easier for her to breathe.
"Jo or not, someone's got to set this girl straight." Ellen finally said, setting both hands down flat on the bar and leaning forward for emphasis.
Dean took a last swig of his beer, slamming the bottle back down on the counter with finality, "Don't worry. We're on it."
With that, Dean stood and headed for the door. Sam nodded goodbye to Ellen as he hurriedly followed after. Dean hadn't really said or done anything to make Sam worried, but Sam knew that if this was Ty they were going after, Dean would be really upset. You wouldn't have known it from the no-nonsense way they had said goodbye months ago, but Sam knew that his brother had some pretty strong feelings for the rookie hunter. Dean had gone through a lot to save Ty's life, Sam could only imagine how his brother must feel if she was being so careless with it now.
"Hey, Dean! Wait!" Sam called, grabbing his brother's arm to stop him.
"Get off me, Sam." Dean snapped, shaking off Sam's hand and reaching for the Impala's door handle.
"Come on, Dean. If this is Ty..." Sam tried again.
"Sam!" Dean interrupted angrily, "We're not talking about this. Ty or Jo, I don't really give a shit. Let's just go."
Sam blinked in surprise at Dean's anger, not really expecting such a furious response. Dean took that moment of stunned silence to climb into the car and slam the door. Sam shook his head, knowing that Dean didn't really mean that, but also knowing that after that outburst it would be pointless to try and get anything out of Dean now. With a sigh, Sam moved around the car to get in the passenger side, mentally preparing for yet another pleasant ride with his older brother.
Meanwhile, the girl in question herself had just pulled off the road, turning off the engine and moving away from her car towards a road marker along the edge of the Carefree Highway. Ty didn't know why she kept coming here. Something about the spot just felt meaningful and time and again she found herself making the drive out here to the middle of nowhere just to sit under mile marker 27 and think. Reaching the sign, Ty reached out and ran a hand across it, staring at the bold white numbers on the green backing in the light of her flashlight. Ty's mind wandered back to that night with Sam and Dean, the course of events that one hunt had set in motion, eventually leading her to the present day. In retrospect, it didn't make sense. At the time she had been so sure that it had been fate; that it was all supposed to happen. Now it all looked like crazy happenstance. Why had Dean singled her out at that bar and why had she gone with him? What made Sam decide to argue for her against his brother? Why had Angela Hamilton possessed her when the summoning spell had been intended for Dean? So many questions that inevitably bubbled to the surface of Ty's thoughts when she came here and ultimately remained unanswered when she left. Ty liked to think that coming to this spot outside the city gave her a fresh perspective, but if she was honest with herself she still felt clueless when it came right down to it. Ty sighed heavily and retreated from the sign, backtracking to her car and settling down on the hood. She pulled her feet up to rest on the front bumper and draped her arms across her knees, her flashlight drooping to point at the ground and the darkness immediately swooping in to envelop the mile marker sign. Nights like this, when she found herself out here, she sometimes felt a little like that girl who'd wondered around the cemetery at night, looking for something out of the ordinary to latch onto. And yet she could never be that girl again, that naive, innocent girl who tentatively sought out evil while still feeling inwardly terrified of paying the price of finding it. Ty really couldn't explain it, but she sort of felt like something had snapped inside of her when that demon had let her burn on the ceiling. It was sort of like a revelation. After all the fear and worry she'd gone through, desperately trying to avoid letting Sam's vision become a reality, it had all happened anyway. It had been inevitable. So, if her actions ultimately didn't make a difference in her life and death, why not go out there and kick as much ass as possible in the time she still had?
With that in mind, Ty turned her attention back to the undead cowboy. How was she going to play this now that her Annie Oakley routine had blown up in her face? Ty had a few running theories on the cowboy's identity. Maybe she could get the drop on him and trick him into revealing which of the graves in the nearby cemetery was his if she surprised him. A new plan involving a disguise and a shovel began to formulate in Ty's mind. It wasn't a good plan, not by a long stretch, but it would do. Satisfied that she had a new course of action in mind for tomorrow night, Ty hopped down off her car's hood and moved back around to the driver's side door. Before opening the door and getting in, Ty pointed her flashlight at the mile marker sign one final time, staring at it for one last moment before she quickly got in and headed home. It was getting late and Ty could use a little sleep tonight.
Quality sleep had become something of a rarity for Ty lately. When she wasn't out hunting, she seemed to be tossing and turning all night, her troubled mind refusing to let her relax. It was a good thing that Ty had moved out of her parents' house and into an apartment, thus facilitating her staying out all night, trudging in around daybreak to catch a few restless hours of recuperative sleep before heading off to school and then work. It was almost like hunting had become an addiction and she needed it more than she needed rest. If she wasn't facing down the ghost of a cowboy, her mind was consumed with what else she could track down.
Ty punched up the volume on the radio, the load pulsing of the rock music pounding through her car. With the window down and the wind whipping through her hair (her A/C didn't work, so it was either that or die from the heat of the Arizona desert), Ty sped down the road towards her apartment complex. Ty couldn't care less at the moment that she was doing a good twenty-five miles over the speed limit. Ty had never cared much for cops, unable to muster any respect for their authority. Couple that with the way an unsuccessful night of hunting made her feel and Ty was pretty much looking for a fight. However, she barely saw another car on the road the whole way home and ended up pulling into her designated parking spot without any disturbances.
At this time of night, the fitness center in the complex was officially closed, however by now Ty had managed to sweet talk the right people and now knew where they left a spare key. Ty snatched the key from its hiding place, slipped inside and locked the door behind her. It was dark inside the room, but the emergency lights provided enough light for her to see by and Ty didn't want to attract the attention that turning on the rest of the lights would bring her. So without any further delay, Ty powered on one of the treadmills and turned the speed up high enough to make her sweat. She let her frustration pound out on the rapidly moving black tread with each drop of her shoe. She shut down her thoughts as much as possible, focusing on her breathing. A few times Ty found her mind wandering and had to increase her speed, but eventually she found herself pleasantly exhausted, ready to hit the showers and then her bed. Slipping back outside and locking up after her, Ty replaced the key where she'd found it and headed home. Ty's cats greeted her as she walked in, following her around the apartment until she shut herself in the bathroom to take a cool shower. Ty couldn't help but wonder what the boys were up to. They probably had a hunt of their own somewhere or maybe they were still trying to catch up with their dad and convince him that ditching them was really not the best of ideas. Despite her unwillingness to ask them for help, Ty missed them. And, for all his pigheadedness, she missed Dean especially. Ty sighed and shut the water off. She'd thought about this many times in the past few months. She just couldn't find a way to call Dean without making it seem like a) she needed his help with hunting because she was somehow not up to the task herself or b) she was a needy, desperate girl who needed a boyfriend to feel complete, something that was not only completely untrue, but that would certainly scare him off anyway. If only he would just call her...
Ty donned her pajamas and settled into bed, shutting off the light and punching her pillows until they were just how she liked them. With another sigh, Ty settled in and pulled the sheets up over her shoulders, letting her eyes slide shut. She was just falling into blissful slumber when Blue Oyster Cult shattered the quiet in her bedroom. Ty's eyes flew open and with a groan she groped for her phone on the nightstand.
"Who the hell is this?" she grumbled into the receiver without bothering to look at the caller ID. No one she knew could possibly be stupid enough to call her at this time of night.
"Well, I missed you, too. What's the matter? Did I wake you up, princess?"
Ty bolted upright, throwing back her covers. Her eyes were wide and her voice clearly communicated her shock at hearing Dean's humor-filled and yet slightly strained voice in her ear. Was it her imagination or did he sound kind of pissed off under that coating of smart ass?
"Dean?" Ty asked in surprise.
"Yeah." Dean confirmed, impatiently, "Hey, where are you?"
"Uh...Phoenix, why?" Ty asked, confused.
Why would Dean call her up in the middle of the night like this, wanting to know where she was? After not speaking at all for months, it just didn't make sense.
"Same address?" Dean asked, ignoring her question.
"No, I moved. Dean, what's going on?" Ty persisted, slightly annoyed that he had refused to answer her question the first time.
"We'll talk when we get there. What's the address?" Dean pressed, no longer hiding the fact that he was upset as his tone became markedly brusque and his words clipped.
Ty gave him the address, still confused. Why was Dean coming here, sounding like he was ready to break someone's nose? Ty was just about to ask him about it for a third time when she found herself faced with an abruptly ended call. He'd hung up on her!
"Ass." Ty growled at the phone, tossing it carelessly in the direction of the nightstand. Ty continued to grumble as she settled back into bed, "Wakes me up in the middle of the freaking night, sounds like he's ready to bite my head off for no reason, won't even tell me why he's calling out of the blue, and then doesn't even say bye. Better have a damn good reason for being such a dick."
Ty closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but found that what was once so near had vanished in the face of Dean and his annoying phone call. The knowledge that she would wake up and, no doubt, find Dean in her living room made it hard for her to sleep. Especially given the fact that she was already planning on knocking upside the head for being such a jerk. And why the heck was he coming out here anyway? Ty's mind refused to shut down and began to make a list of possible reasons why Dean Winchester would call her. Well, given his tone she supposed she could scratch booty call off the list.
Ty growled and punched her pillow in aggravation. So much for sleeping. Ty got up and trudged wearily back to her living room. She plopped down on the couch and flipped on the television, but her mind was hardly focused on the all-night marathon of Dr. Who on the Sci-fi Channel.
'Nope,' Ty thought with a wry twist of her lips, 'If the Winchesters are coming, I'll be waiting for them when they get here.'