Disclaimer: Don't own them. And it makes me sad.
Author's Note: This is my first posted Supernatural fic. The idea popped into my head this afternoon at the store and I just had to write it. My beta is out of town, so any mistakes that you see are solely mine.
He comes staggering through the white, a hunched silhouette that fights its way through raging winds. She sees him from her spot in front of the window. Putting down her needles and yarn, she has just enough time to fill up the kettle and set it on the stove to boil before there's pounding on the door.
He says his name is John Winchester. And it suits him.
Something about the lines on his face, the grey in his almost beard, and the fierceness in his hazel eyes fits well with gun powder, long barrels, and desert dust. She ushers him inside, fighting to close the door against the torrent of snow and wind behind him. He tries to help, but she points him towards the hearth where he can warm up by the fire.
They don't talk much. She fixes the both of them coffee after he strips down and is wrapped in her favorite quilt. He stares at the flames, thoughts in another place while she draws him a bath.
It isn't until the color returns to his skin and she's showing him to the only spare room of her one story home that he asks her name.
"Ceres." She answers. He frowns a little, but is obviously too exhausted to think too hard about why the name should bother him. He crawls into the bed with a satisfied groan and she quietly says goodnight.
He's stubborn. She could tell that right off the bat.
It's going to be awhile before he's ready to move on.
In the morning she offers him thick slices of homemade bread with wild honey drizzled on top. He goes through almost a whole loaf and several cups of coffee before she starts with the questions.
He doesn't remember much. Just the cold, then the numb. Says he saw her lights off in the distance and homed right in. All he has are the clothes on his back and a mind that's as whitewashed as the blizzard outside.
"It'll come back in do time." She reaches across the table and pats his hand. "It always does."
He doesn't seem convinced. But she knows that in this place, nothing stays lost forever.
The storm keeps going.
He watches it from the bay windows, the same ones she watched his approach from, with crossed arms and a frown.
"When's it going to pass on, Ceres? It's been days and it hasn't let up."
She looks up from the almost finished wool hat in her hands. "I guess whenever you're ready to pass on, John."
His shoulders tense for a moment before he turns to the fireplace and throws on another log.
She goes back to her knitting, humming under her breath and watching him out the corner of her eyes.
During the evenings they sit at the kitchen table with a deck of cards and a bottle of wine that's as red as blood. She coaxes him along as his history returns. It's a sad tale, the things he remembers, and more times then not they retire with wet cheeks and runny noses that have nothing to do with the stinging cold.
"I have sons." He says on the fourth night. "I don't know their names or their faces. But I know I did something so that they could go on. Something that broke all of us."
She pulls a ten of hearts from her hand, hits his nine before throwing down her last card. "Rummy."
The misty look in his eyes clears and he curses slightly under his breath. "I'll stay up all night if it means I beat you."
She smiles. "Then you'd better get on you knees and start your prayers, Winchester. And another pot of Joe."
He winks, takes another sip of wine and grabs up the cards to be shuffled. She swallows the lump in her throat.
His time is almost up and she's ashamed to admit that she's going to be said to see him go.
One night she hears him cry out. She's out of her bed and across the hall before she's even fully awake, her hand on his brow to calm him through desperate pants that match her heartbeat.
"What is this place?" He asks once the sweat starts to dry.
"It's a place of rest."
His eyes are heavy with fatigue and she watches the lids flutter as he fights it.
"Just let it go, John. That's all you have to do."
He nods, turns into her caress and heaves out a sigh.
"Been so long since I could."
He's asleep again as soon as the words are said, so he doesn't notice her tears.
In the morning all is quiet. The wind is no longer whistling through the weak spots in the walls and she lays in bed listening to the stillness, not willing to get up and do what needs to be done.
But eventually she does, washes up and dresses. Stokes up the coals in the oven and puts in more wood while the water boils. John appears in the doorway, as relaxed as she's ever seen him, his shoulders no longer weighed down by burdens he now realizes he had.
"I think it's about time I go on my way."
She nods, gives him a weak smile. "I think you're right."
They eat in silence and it reminds her of the first night. Only this time she gives him his last cup of wine. It stains his lips when he's done and she chuckles a little while handing him the hat, gloves, and scarf she made for him.
"The path is already there for you. Stick to it and you'll find your place."
He reaches for the handle of the door, but pauses to look back at her.
"I remember reading the Koran. You were in it."
She smiles, ignores the urge to flex her back muscles and give him further proof. But he must see something in the shadow cast behind her because he stares long and hard at it before turning his gaze back to her.
"You'll take care of my boys, won't you? Whenever they get here?"
"Hopefully later then sooner."
He nods, adjusts his hat one last time and pulls open the door. The light blinds them both, but he only hesitates a little before stepping out and following the already shoveled road, boots crunching on patches of ice. She watches until he disappears over the horizon, alone again but content, before closing the door and moving to the chair to finish up her knitting.
It wouldn't be long until the next lost soul comes her way.
The war that John started but was never able to finish rages on. She watches from her windows as the cold blows in more and more often. Helps those that can be, and waits for the end.
When it comes, she's prepared. Counts her bags of flour and mason jars full of honey, stacks more wood by the door, and spreads fresh sheets on the twin beds in the spare room.
Renewal, the air sings around her. But she already knows. Has seen it more times then she could count and knows how to be prepared.
The next few months are going to busy ones.
They come staggering through the white, hunched silhouettes that fight their way through ragging winds. She sees them from her spot in front of the window. Putting down her needles and yarn, she has just enough time to fill up the kettle and set it on the stove to boil before there's pounding on the door.
They say their names are Dean and Samuel Winchester.
And it suits them just fine.