the clock will strike

They wouldn't have tried to save her, not really, not when it actually came down to it. Bela knows this. It's not something that real people do, not in the real world.

The Winchester boys live in a world where there is black and white, where people can be saved. Bela lives in a world of greys where all time is borrowed and all salvation is strictly temporary, and where safety and happiness lasts for ten years until the bill comes due.

It really doesn't matter that they don't understand, that nobody will ever understand, that her parents kept their secrets well and that she kept her secrets badly: that Dean's very first assumption during the ghost ship business was that she'd deliberately killed someone, rather than some sort of accident like the girl who'd died. (And if he'd been right, what did it matter? He had looked at her and judged her and that was all.)

She's run out of hope now. The phone is dead. The clock's almost at midnight. Her heart is dry and shrunken in her chest

Has it been worth it? On the whole, yes. It has. She's lied and cheated and stolen, she's cozened and charmed, and she'd have killed if Sam and Dean had been that little bit more stupid than they were. And it would have been worth it. Nothing is more precious than life. Nothing is more desirable than living and everything that goes with it.

She doesn't believe in salvation, and so she won't break down and pray for mercy or cry for help. The universe doesn't work that way. Parents break their children and children kill their parents and anyone who believes otherwise . . . doesn't matter any more, really, because there are only a few seconds left and she has nothing left to offer to the demon who holds her bond.

For one short moment, when she'd had the Colt, she'd considered another way of ending things. After all, it didn't just kill, it destroyed. Presumably it would destroy the soul. No Hell (and there's no Heaven either, why dream?), just nothingness. It would be an end to pain. It would be an answer.

But ultimately she'd been too fond of living, and so she'd put her last few cards into the game and made the gamble.

She'd never liked losing.

She knows more about Hell than she's ever told the Winchester brothers. She has a good imagination. As she breathes in (and will this be her last breath?) she finds her eternal inner optimist turning forward again, bridging pain and fear to look towards the gains she'll make, the deals she'll barter, the future stretching in front of her.

She'll do whatever she must to survive.

Who knows? Perhaps she'll be good at being a demon.

But it's odd, how much she had been given ten years ago in exchange for a soul: then and now, a soul had always seemed a small thing to her, something easily bartered away for more valuable things.