Cougar Tales

Prologue and Chapter One

Author: Lily Zen

Rating: M

Warnings: None Yet


Notes:

(1) Cachorro de Zorro means "fox cub" in Spanish. It's not a real town.

(2)Also, here is some information on the Leyak, which is today's monster of choice.

"On Bali, a Leyak is a person who lives a seemingly normal life, except that at night he wanders on the cemetery where he steals the entrails of the corpses. If necessary, he will even take the entrails from sleeping people. These he uses to make a potion that allows him to change himself into a tiger.

They reputedly have the ability to change shape from a monkey to the demonlike figure of Rangda." (Encyclopedia Mythica).

Naturally, I am taking some creative liberties with this concept. Should be fun!

(3) Myrina Batea really is mythically rumored to have defeated the gods of Atlantis. She was an Amazon queen, and the title of Myrina was henceforth passed down to all great Amazon queens after her death. I am blending different mythologies together for a purpose which will all become clear much, much later on. Possibly in the next story—yes, I already have plans for a sequel.

(4) Morrigan and Macha really are fae deities. Together with their sister Badb, they are known as the Morrigna. They are a triple goddess aspect, mainly for war, though Macha is also a mother goddess. Morrigan is usually closely associated with sovereignty, hence why I've made her the fae queen. Badb or Badb Catha is often said to take the form of a crow during battles and fly overhead, confusing the soldiers with magic so that her favored side would win.

(5) This story takes place during season two, but doesn't really contain any spoilers for the season. There will be some angst-ridden Dean, but that's about it.

Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. That's Kripke's and assorted other folks.


Prologue

It all started back in Ireland generations before I was born. My ancestors were hunting monsters before Ford invented the Model T. At least that's what my Gran would say when I asked her about it. There may be some truth to that; who knows? All I know for sure is that every relative I've ever had died at the hands of a monster, and I probably will too.

"You go on then. Run, girl. You'll never escape the curse of the Kiernan name."

That's what my Gran said to me the night I threw two duffels in the trunk of my brand-new-to-me Jetta and left the family land in my tire tracks. I'm still not sure if there's an actual curse on my surname or if she was just being melodramatic. It is a fact though that all Kiernans die violently. Hell, even my Gran did.

I got the notice seven months ago…

Mary Beth Kiernan, the closest thing to a mother that I'd ever had, was found mauled by a cougar six feet from her back door.

Of course, that's just the official report. Cougars don't normally come so close to civilization to hunt, and they don't typically attack humans unless they're feeling threatened or if the human in question is already injured.

I haven't been able to go out to the family land yet. Couldn't bring myself to open up that can of worms—I even missed Gran's funeral. I had Gran's lawyer clean out the perishables from the house and lock everything up. As the last living Kiernan, everything goes to me.

I've been keeping an eye on the local papers though.

There've been three other cougar attacks since. One every other month.

I know there's a job out there. I feel it in my bones the same way I do when I know a storm's coming. Problem is that I don't know any other hunters. That was my Gran's department, and my father's—hell, even my Gramps'. It was a life I'd tried to avoid in so many different ways.

Now it looks like I'm going to have to take up the family mantle whether I want to or not. Hopefully my skills aren't too rusty.


Hunter Myrina Kiernan closed the door on her tiny Los Angeles studio apartment, and simultaneously closed the door on that phase of her life. She left the key with the building manager and headed outside where a U-Haul was parked by the curb.

It was goodbye city smog and lost in the crowd, hello small town.

Hunter lit up a cigarette once she slid in the driver's seat, brushed her sleek, urbanely cut hair behind her ear, and prayed that it wouldn't rain on the way to New Mexico.


Chapter One

She pulled into town at noon on a Sunday and had the benefit of making a scene. Everyone was leaving church—the God-fearing folk, anyway—and watched her U-Haul park itself on 2nd Street, outside of Chris Redwing's law office.

Chris came out with a huge grin on his dark Pueblo face, dressed in a suit way too fancy for such a small town. "Why, if it isn't little Miss Hunter, blowing into town like a tumbleweed! Never thought I'd see your pretty face again."

Hunter jumped out of the truck, a smile sliding over her features. "And what about you, College Kid? I thought you were leaving this place in your dust and never looking back?"

Man and woman locked eyes, remembering a time when they were just boy and girl, trading hot kisses in the back of a pick-up between frantic whispers of wishes and dreams.

"I went," Chris finally replied, running a hand over his short hair, "Did my time, had some fun, but in the end it just didn't suit me."

Hunter nodded because she did understand. At first L.A. had been exciting, but like any novelty, the fascination eventually wore off. She'd grown tired of the noise and the people and her dead-end job editing books. In a strange way, the case might have been a blessing.

Before an awkward silence could settle over the one-time sweethearts, Hunter cleared her throat. "I, uh, need to get the keys to Gran's place," she said. Chris looked startled by the abrupt subject change, and visibly shook himself back into business mode. "Oh, yeah, of course. Come on in while I get 'em," he replied.

She slipped past him into the small, air-conditioned office, breathing a short sigh of relief as the temperature dropped, and pretended not to notice that Chris Redwing was checking her out. "Damn, girl," he whistled, ruining her efforts, "You look great—haven't aged a day. I can still see you walking down the hall at school, grinning like the cat who got the cream 'cause you convinced Mr. Franklin to bump your grade up." He shook his head while he pulled an envelope out of his desk, laughing to himself, and shook out three keys. "Front door, back door, garage door."

Hunter nodded and took the keys, slipping them in her jacket pocket. "Thanks, Chris."

"No problem," he responded with that ever-present grin, "Oh, and don't forget your Gran."

"My Gran?"

Chris Redwing reached behind him and pulled what she'd thought was a vase off the shelf. "You didn't send the payment for internment," he told her, and she passed a hand over her hair in exasperation.

"Jesus, I knew I forgot something," she sighed, "Well, thanks for holding onto her for me."

"No problem. Figured you'd have to come get her things in order eventually. So, you stayin' for good or are you putting the house up on the market?" Chris asked while they ambled back out the door.

"I have some things to take care of first, but I think I'll be putting it up for sale after awhile," Hunter replied, "After all, it's just me, and I don't really need that kind of commitment."

"You Kiernans, always with your itchy feet," Chris sighed.


Hunter drove the U-Haul through the arches over the driveway after a treacherous journey up into the hills and parked in front of the garage. The house was new, built in the nineties to replace the old ramshackle place that had been there since the forties, in that pretty nouveau-pueblo style.

Gran had wanted something nicer after Pa passed on, so she'd liquidated his business, seeing no reason to hold onto something with no one to give it to, and hired contractors to build her dream home. The move into the new house had been a pain, what with Seth, Hunter's daddy, out of town on a job. Still, the two women had buckled down and done the heavy-lifting by themselves.

Hunter swung out of the truck and unlocked the front door, her grandmother's urn tucked under her arm. Feeling a strange sense of homecoming, she pushed open the thick front door and stepped inside.

It was eerily quiet, missing the noises Gran made as she puttered around the house, the hum of the air conditioner, the sound of the radio as Gran rocked out to Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead. Hunter sighed and set the urn down on the coffee table while she went to turn on the air.

Nothing looked any different from when she was twenty years old and hit the ground running like her ass was on fire. It looked like Gran could walk in at any minute and start in on her. "Hunter, you get your ass going on those dishes. I don't want to hear none of your feminist nonsense about gender stereotypes. Your daddy's been on the road for three months and deserves some rest. …Now, what'cha want for supper? I got fixings for chili or steak."

Hunter kicked off her shoes in the middle of the living room like it had the power to dispel the ghost of her grandmother from her mind, and stretched out on the cool leather couch just to rest a spell before she started bringing in her things.

She was out before her head hit the cushion.


The Winchesters didn't usually travel south for a gig. There were other hunters out that way and bigger fish to fry, but Ellen had asked so nicely. "This woman, Mary Beth Kiernan, she was a friend's momma. I feel I owe it to him to at least send somebody to check it out. Boys, I'm serious. I'd even go myself if I could get away from the Roadhouse for awhile."

So there they were, turning the Impala into the parking lot of La Playa Motel in Cachorro de Zorro, New Mexico. It was the only motel in town besides a family-owned bed and breakfast on the outskirts of town.

At one in the morning, the sleepy little town was all packed up and shut down besides a few rowdy taverns and the motel. Dean flicked Sam's nose to wake him up, and when his brother leveled a grumpy stare at him, grinned. "Fly on your nose," he said by way of excuse.

"Bullshit," Sam stated and sat up straight, "We here?"

"Yep," Dean replied, popping the 'p.' He looked around, unimpressed with his surroundings, and got out of the car. "I'll get us a room."

Sam got out of the car to stretch out sleeping limbs and a stiff back while he waited.

Dean was back ten minutes later, scowling.

"What's your problem?" Sam asked casually.

"Why do people always think we're gay?" Dean barked in lieu of answering, which made Sam laugh.

"Maybe it's 'cause you're just so damn pretty, Dean. Don't be mad at them—blame your genetics."

"Fuck you," the elder Winchester replied.

Sam just laughed harder. "Homophobe."

"Hey, I don't have any issues with gays. I just have issues with people thinking I'm gay. I like chicks. Pussy. People in a town this small start gossiping about the gay guys coming through, I won't be getting any, and that'll just put me in a shitty mood, Sammy. You don't want to be stuck in a car with me while I'm pissed off."

Knowing he couldn't reason with Dean on the subject, Sam shook his head and went to pull his things out of the trunk. They had some strange cougar killings to investigate.


Hunter woke up on the couch with a crick in her neck and the eerie sense that someone had been whispering in her ear while she'd been sleeping. Things like that had always happened to Hunter as far back as she could remember. She had learned to simply disregard them as a fanciful imagination.

She spent the morning unloading boxes from the truck and depositing them in their proper locations, pulling out her simplistic Ikea furniture and storing it in the garage, and then she showered, changed, and drove into Albuquerque to drop off the U-Haul.

There it was that Hunter hesitated, walking away from the store in Diesel jeans, an Express blazer, and heeled boots she'd got on clearance from Sak's. In other words, she looked every inch the rich, city-girl and nothing at all like anyone around her. She was unsure if she should just go pick up a rental or if it would be cheaper to buy a car.

Eventually she decided to think on it over lunch and headed down the street, following her nose towards deliciousness.

Then the wind shifted and the smell of mint, comfrey, and ginger invaded her senses. Hunter stopped in her tracks, her head turning without her direction, and when she opened her eyes again, she was staring at a small SUV with a Kia logo on the grill sitting in a pharmacy parking lot. The sticker price stated five thousand or best offer.

Used to her uncanny luck and thinking nothing of it, Hunter just grinned, sat down next to the SUV, and proceeded to dial the number.


The Winchesters had spent their first morning in Cachorro de Zorro in a completely different fashion from the Kiernan girl. They had gone around town interviewing the families of the deceased claiming they were from a wildlife foundation and snatched the autopsy reports from the nearby morgue.

It was early evening when they got around to the Kiernan case and made their way out to the house. Dean whistled as they started pulling up to the property. "Nice digs."

"Yeah," Sam replied, "According to the locals, the Kiernan family's been here for years, though they travel a lot as well. Carl Kiernan owned a local body shop until he died in '98—hunting accident. His wife, Mary Beth, sold the place and remodeled after. She's our vic. One son, Seth Kiernan, vanished in '04, pronounced dead in '05. And with that we come to Hunter Kiernan, twenty-five, purported wild child and sole inheritor. Just got back in town yesterday."

"And you know all this how?" Dean questioned.

"It's a small town, Dean. People talk, especially when wayward children come meandering home."

"And this Seth guy was a hunter?"

"Looks like. I don't know how else Ellen would know him."

"Alright. Well, let's do this then."

Both brothers stepped out of the car, eyeing the black Kia Sportage parked in the driveway, and listening to Metallica spill out of the house and shake the windows in their casings. A quick game of rock-paper-scissors decided who would knock on the door. Dean cursed under his breath when Sam won yet again and rang the doorbell. When a minute passed and no one answered, he pounded his fist on the door. Still no answer.

Then they both heard it, almost completely smothered by the rock music—the unmistakable sound of gunshots. They raced around to the back of the house, trampling Mary Beth's flower beds and leaping over the fence. Following the noise through a small area with long grass, they found a girl dressed in expensive jeans and a black silk tank top loading a shotgun with an ease that suggested long-familiarity.

Her stance was perfect as she took aim and shot the shit out of one of the cans hanging on a giant saguaro. When she was done, Sam noticed she was humming 'Enter Sandman' under her breath. He cleared his throat to get her attention and was rewarded with having the girl and gun swing towards him.

"Can I help you?" she asked in a contralto voice.

"Hunter Kiernan?" Sam asked, holding up his hands in the universal I'm-harmless gesture.

"Yes, that'd be me. Now who are you?" Despite the gun being pointed at them, her voice held a thread of humor in it.

"I'm Sam Kidd. This is Dean Cassidy. We're—"

She cut him off with raised brows. "Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? That's gotta be ironic."

"You've got no idea," Dean drawled with his hands held like Sam's, "We're from New Mexico Animal Control. Do you have time for some questions?"

"And can you put the gun down?" Sam added.

The girl laughed and lowered her weapon. "Sure thing."

It was then that the boys really had to opportunity to size up Hunter Kiernan, and they did so speculatively and perhaps with a small touch of male appreciation. She was moderately tall, around five-foot-seven, maybe eight, estimating that her heels were three inches high, and had a trim figure that still somehow managed to look lush and curvaceous in all the right ways. Her hair was such a dark brown that most people probably said it was black, cut short in a stylish angled bob. The girl had the peaches and cream skin one would expect of the Irish. Still, the most interesting thing about her was her eyes—her papers said they were hazel, but they were more gold than anything else.

"Come on," Hunter beckoned, "If you stop staring we can go sit in the nice air-conditioned house and have some tea. You can ask all the questions you want just as easily in there as out here. Besides, I gotta check on supper." She grabbed the box of shells she'd been using and loped off, as easy in her heels as most would be in sneakers.

Hunter didn't like being snuck up on, and she especially didn't like being surprised by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in her own back yard. As she walked, she surreptitiously reloaded her shotgun.

She wanted to get to the house for the protection it offered.

Every hunter worth a damn knew to lay salt lines, but Gran had gone one step up from that when she'd built the new house. The salt was built in now, trapped in thin tubes under the foundation and the floors—it was in every doorway throughout the house, and wrapped around the window casings in the walls. She'd even tested it a couple times. To top it off, there were protective seals and banishment wards on the inside of the walls.

The only supes sliding through her door weren't very common around those parts.

Hunter stepped over the threshold with an internal sigh of relief, and then she held her breath as Batman and Robin followed suit. The dark-haired one closed the door behind him with a smile.

"Have a seat, boys," Hunter nodded, indicating the kitchen table, "I'll be right back with that tea." Like she actually gave a damn about serving strangers some fucking tea. What she did give a damn about was that nobody had burst into flames upon entering the house. Still, there were things that could get through, and the prudent side of her wanted to take her shotgun into the kitchen with her.

…She set it just inside the doorway and contented herself with slipping a silver switchblade from its hiding spot in the bread box into her back pocket.

Hunter poured three glasses of sweet tea and checked on her small pot of chili. She brought Cassidy and Kid their drinks, held up her index finger, and took her glass with her into the living room so she could turn down the music.

"Alright," she said when she slumped into a chair and sipped her tea, "What ya'll want to ask me?"

"It's about the uh…cougar attack," Sam began slowly, "We understand this may be difficult for you, but we have to ask these things. There's lives at stake here."

"Mm-hm." Hunter nodded slowly. "Go ahead, then."

"You weren't here at the time of the attack, were you?" Dean asked her.

"Nope. I was still in L.A., and as you can see, we don't have many neighbors up here." In fact the closest neighbor was half-way down the hill, which was closer to a mountain than a hill. "I doubt you'll find any witnesses. Nobody else did."

"Did you see the condition of your grandmother's body prior to burial?" That time it was Sam who spoke.

"Nope. And she was cremated, not buried."

"Have you noticed anything odd around the house or yard?" Dean asked, "Cold spots, flickering lights, strange noises?"

And with that one question the alarm bells in her head shrieked once more and went silent. They were hunters.

Hunter relaxed back in her chair even more. "Ya'll shouldn't try to play a player," she told them and chuckled. They feigned confusion with furrowed brows and bemused smiles. "You're hunters."

Both men looked startled and suspicious by her matter-of-fact tone.

"It's cool," she continued, "I've got this. You can move on to the next big bad wolf. I won't even ask you for your real names, because I really don't give a shit. We've both got more important things to worry about." Just like that, Hunter stood up and moved to turn off the burner on the stove. "Really, guys, I appreciate you coming all this way to check it out, but it's kind of a family thing. Know what I mean?"

She stirred the chili on the stove, feeling momentarily bad that she wasn't going to offer them any. Gran would've had her hide. Reminding herself that Gran wasn't around, could never tear a strip out of her again, Hunter refocused on the men, eyebrows raised.

If anything, they looked gobsmacked. Hunter smiled widely, full lips curving upwards to show genuine enjoyment. "Let me walk you out."

It seemed that they stood automatically and she guided them each with a hand on their backs right out the front door. "You boys be careful now. Lots of dangerous monsters out there. Gives me the heebies." With that, Hunter shut the door behind them, turning the locks into place, and went to eat her chili.


"Did we just get booted off a case by a girl in Diesel jeans?" Dean asked when they were settled in the front seats of the Impala.

Sam snorted through his nose. "And how do you know they were Diesel jeans? Dean, you got some hobbies I don't know about?"

Dean casually punched his brother in the arm. "No. I was looking at her ass while she was walking. The label said 'Diesel.' There was this one girl, way back when…I kind of inadvertently found out that Diesel makes designer jeans from her. Shut up, Sam. Quit looking at me like that."

The younger Winchester just continued to stare at his brother like he'd just sung the lyrics to 'Copa Cabana.' Dean growled and started up the car, and they peeled out of the driveway and began the slow drive back down to normal altitudes.

"So are we dropping the case?" Sam asked.

"No way," Dean replied, "She may be a hunter's kid. Doesn't mean she can hunt, especially not in those shoes she was wearing." They both laughed then.


TBC…

I've been working on this for awhile, so I thought I should start posting it piece by piece. Curious about me? Follow me on Twitter: 0tigerlily0.