Author's Notes: Many many thanks to jadeanime: friend, muse, beta reader, and ever valorous Tester of my Cooking. That being said, this is my first fic to actually post. I'm still pretty new to writing in general, so I'm always open to constructive criticism, especially if it concerns staying true to Dresden's character. In any case, I hope you guys enjoy this :)
For anyone that hasn't seen Supernatural: Supernatural is a show on the CW that's closing in on the end of it's third season. Naturally, I can't throw in the entire back story without boring most people to tears, but I promise to do my best to squeeze vital information into later chapters. This includes a bit of history on Sam and Dean, as well as Bella, though there hasn't been much information revealed on her character in the show either. Feel free to message me with any questions concerning it.
Human life is full of choices. Some of them are paltry, others are pivotal. Choices such as: white wine or red? Paper or plastic? Are you mad enough to rear-end the guy that cut you off?
Are there any circumstances that justify a man hitting a woman?
Dean pondered this last question intently as he stared down at the rain soaked beauty on his motel room doorstep. Bella Talbot, professional thief and backstabber extraordinaire stood without shelter, hands plunged deep within the pockets of her trench coat. However her blonde hair had been previously styled, it was now a matted mess around her face, and her shoes, easily worth more than the Impala, were carelessly caked with mud. She stared back at Dean unwaveringly, the dark circles under her eyes undermining the efforts of whatever make up still clung against the downpour. She shivered despite her defiant stare, and shifted nervously from foot to foot.
All in all she looked wretched and pitiful. Dean was not fooled.
"I need your help," she said.
"I need my gun."
Her eyes fell to the pavement at that. "I-I don't have it."
Dean nodded abruptly. "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. See ya, Bella."
The thief darted forward and blocked the door with her body, stopping it mid slam. "Dean…please. You have every reason to refuse me, I know, but I don't have anywhere else to go."
Dean was not a tall man; therefore it didn't take much effort on his part to put his nose inches from hers. "You're right," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. The anger it carried caused a deep rumble in his chest. "I do have every reason to refuse you. I also have every reason to shoot you where you stand, but I'm not doing that either. Consider that last one a stroke of luck and leave. Now."
Sam slid into view over Dean's shoulder, hands effectively hidden behind his brother; holding a gun most likely. "Dean? What's going on?"
"Apparently Bella here has decided that she needs our help."
Sam's forehead wrinkled in confusion and he leaned a bit to the side to get a better view. Ever the opportunist, Dean had shifted his weight against the door, pinning Bella beneath it. She gave Sam a wry smile and nodded in greeting.
"Dean…maybe we should let her in."
He shot Sam a look of disgust, "What? Are you freaking kidding me? I'm not letting her in here. We've fallen for that one too many times. You know as well as I do, that if we let her in, she's gonna give us some sob story about how someone's chasing her, or trying to kill her. Then we're gonna fall for it, and end up being her puppets in another big," he waved his free hand over his head as he searched for a word, "heist or something. Again."
Sam looked to the woman and cocked a questioning eyebrow.
Bella shrugged, "Someone's trying to kill me."
Dean smirked and swung his hand in her direction as if to say: See?
"I still think we should at least listen to her."
"Sorry, not this time, Sammy. Unless it involves getting the Colt back, I'm done with this one." Dean made a move to start pushing Bella out the door.
Sam sighed, "Yeah, but Dean…if for some reason she is telling the truth, and whoever's after her does kill her, then it's going to be that much harder to get the Colt back."
Dean halted at that, his shoulders tensing as he visibly struggled against Sam's logic. There was a moment of silence that drug on, steadily raising the tension level of the room. Sam believed that he could almost see the wheels in Dean's head turning frantically as he fought with his brother's words. Finally, he threw his hands up in defeat and shoved away from the door, causing Bella to let out an uncomfortable, "Oof!"
"Whatever, you win, Sammy. But!" he whirled and poked a finger in Sam's chest, "I know I'm right about this. When she proves me right you owe me a beer," He strode over and flopped onto the nearest of the two beds, running a hand through his close-cropped hair. "Make that twelve beers."
Bella came in the rest of the way and closed the door behind her with quiet dignity, nodding silent thanks to Sam. Sam, who really had been holding a gun the whole time, used it to motion her toward the room's only chair. He stepped back a bit as she slipped past, not willing to turn his back on her just yet…or probably ever.
There was much in the way of shifting and grunting and glaring while everyone settled in. Eventually their efforts resulted in Sam and Dean (both armed now) sitting at the end of their respective beds, staring crossly at Bella, who sat in an armless chair, ankles crossed, with her hands primly folded in her lap. Silence reigned for a time, each waiting for the other to start the conversation. Finally it was Dean that spoke up. "Soooo…someone's trying to kill you. Care to elaborate on that?"
Bella sighed and pushed a stray clump of hair behind one ear. "It isn't a horribly complicated story. A decade or so ago a…collector of sorts was killed by his ward. The murderer stole one of his finer pieces and made off with it. A friend of the deceased asked that I reacquire said artifact. Sadly, however, I was caught." Her lips pursed at the end of the last sentence and she cast a pensive gaze to the side.
Sam chimed in, "Uh huh, so this collector that was killed, he had a taste for…"
"Artifacts of a unique and supernatural origin, yes," she confirmed.
Dean somehow managed to make a cough sound derisive, "Yeah, and we can assume that you still managed to make it out with the 'item' in your possession?" When she nodded he went on, "Pardon me for putting a little faith in you, but you've never seemed to have trouble evading your…victims before."
Bella laughed at that, probably louder than she should have. It wasn't feminine, refined, seductive, nor was it any of the other things the brothers had come to expect of her. It was more of a bark, a sudden release of nervous tension that might have been called a laugh for lack of a better word. That didn't mean, however, that it wasn't full of sarcasm. "Victims? Meaning you?" She chuckled at that, "Oh Dean, you're sweet. You might be good with your little gun, but evading you is certainly not a problem when the need arises. This man, on the other hand, he has methods much like my own for tracking and it makes running…difficult, to put it lightly."
Oddly enough, the logical side of Dean's brain won the argument raging inside his head. It informed the gun wielding side of his brain that silence was better than shooting at this point. If nothing else, he needed to wait for a better reason for violence, or he'd end up suffering Sam's whining for God knew how long. Somehow that seemed worse then listening to Bella for a few more minutes, so he resigned himself to his evilest glare and remained mute.
A few feet away, Sam recognized the set of his brother's jaw as evidence that he was having another "shoot or shut up" argument internally and decided it was best that he keep the conversation rolling. "Ok, so what you're saying here basically is that he uses Ouija boards and such the same as you do?"
The thief shook her head, "No, much as it pains me to admit, his methods are far more advanced than mine, and much more accurate. That's why I said that I have nowhere else to go. He's already found me in one of my safe houses, and, frankly, I need a protector with experience in the preternatural."
Dean shot to his feet. "A protector? Do you honestly expect us to fight for you? You're out of your freaking mind, lady," he began to stalk around the room, absently taking a swig from a half-finished beer on the bedside table. "I'm way more likely to hogtie you and put you out on the curb with a pretty red bow on your head."
"I'm serious, Sammy, now where'd you pack my rope? Is it in my car?" Dean headed for the door.
Bella lazily raised her eyebrows, "I'd be willing to get the Colt back for you…"
The room fell into silence again. Bella of course waited patiently, a slight smile on her lips. Dean had stopped moving, but his back was still to them, beer in limbo somewhere in front of his face. Sam stared at the floor, shaggy brown hair falling forward to hide his expression. For several moments, all that could be heard was the ticking of an old wind up clock stashed in a back corner. Finally, it was Sam's quiet voice that spoke up.
"Do you really expect us to believe that?"
"In a word: yes. It's no secret that I do love money, but it really doesn't do me much good if I'm not around to spend it. I won't lie, it wouldn't be terribly simple to retrieve, but I both could, and would, be very willing to return it to you in exchange for your protection."
Dean turned his head to the side but didn't quite look at them, "When's he coming?"
A lamp near the door began to flicker slightly and Bella's eyes widened. "Um…now."
The brothers exchanged puzzled glances and Dean put his back to the wall beside the room's only window, moving the curtain aside slightly with his gun. Outside, the fluorescent bulbs that lit the motel's walkway were buzzing and winking spastically, making it hard for his eyes to focus on anything. Closer to the street, the vacancy sign was jerking convulsively in a wind that had come out of nowhere. A chill slithered down Dean's spine and coiled somewhere in the pit of his stomach…there weren't many things he'd encountered that caused environmental disturbances like this.
"Jesus, Bella!" he snarled, "You didn't tell us you had a damn demon after you."
Sam's head shot up in surprise at that and he turned accusing eyes to Bella, who had retreated into the furthest corner and crouched with a small knife raised.
"That's because he isn't," she almost had to yell to be heard. Somewhere beyond the window, they could hear little explosions of shattered glass drawing steadily closer. The light bulbs outside had begun exploding one by one, going down the row toward their room. "And put those guns away, they won't do you any good. You need something older. Is your shotgun in here?"
"Yeah," said Sam, "but it's loaded with rock salt right now."
"It doesn't matter, it can still hurt him at least, just grab it!"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Dean demanded, he looked like he was about to say something else, but an odd creaking noise cut him off. He leaned in closer to the window, eyebrows meeting somewhere at the top of his nose as he strained to hear where the noise had come from. Quietly, almost imperceptibly the noise sounded again and Dean's eyes jerked wide in near panic. "Shit! Get down!"
He was already running before he'd finished the last two words. Sam and Bella had knelt between the room's two beds, quickly shifting through the brothers' assortment of weapons. Dean ran for them and leaped, becoming airborne over the bed just as the window behind him exploded into a thousand shards of razor-edged glass.
Sam's head poked up from behind the mattress at the explosion. He turned white at the sight of so many tiny blades zipping toward his head and immediately dove for the floor, pulling Bella down with him. A half second later Dean landed on top of the couple, shielding them both as best he could with his own body. Sam ended up with his head shoved most of the way under the bed, his brother's breathing ragged on the back of his neck.
All around them, pieces of the window fell in an odd parody of the rain falling outside. The gentle tinkling sounds it made were deceptively harmless, but Sam heard Dean let out a hissing grunt, quickly followed by something warm and wet trickling onto the back of his neck. Sam flinched at that, praying that Dean's leather jacket protected him from the worst of the glass.
It was all over in a matter of moments. The room's sole lamp had been broken at some point, and the Winchester's room was now covered in tiny bits of glass twinkling innocently in the moonlight. Rain pattered mutely against the carpet, and one curtain still clung precariously to its rod, blowing forlornly in the now gentle breeze.
Dean got up slowly, painfully, gun cocked and pointed toward the ceiling. "Sammy, you ok?" he asked softly, his whisper still too loud in the silence of the room.
"I've been better."
"Good enough," he scanned the room quickly, still crouching behind the bed for cover. Sam was soon on his knees beside him, quietly reloading the shotgun. Both scanned the room quickly but nothing moved. The door remained closed, the window empty. There was no crunching of footsteps on the glass.
Which is why it was such a surprise when someone spoke from behind them.