Author's Note: Ah, time continuum. Lessee here. This takes place directly after Season Five episode "The End" where Dean and Sam have reunited. Aaaand that's all, folks!
The rain came down in sheets, and the last thing Dean Winchester wanted was to be out in it. But at least it would wash the blood out of his clothes. He rolled the last body off the end of the dock into the river and waited until it disappeared under the dark water.
"I freakin' hate New Jersey, man," he griped to his brother as they stood for a moment, looking down at the river that now concealed five mutilated corpses.
Sam brooded. Well, of course he did. He was Sam, wasn't he? But he seemed broodier than usual. Had been ever since they hooked up again. Dean would bet anything he kept going over what Lucifer said in his head, the thing about being his true vessel and all that crap. It didn't matter, because there was no way in hell he was gonna let the Devil wear his brother like a cheap tux. Not gonna happen.
"Let's go, dude," Dean said, slapping Sam on the shoulder. "If I get any wetter I'm gonna melt. Besides, I'm starving."
"You're always starving," Sam replied, turning away from the river and keeping pace with Dean as they left the pier.
"And your point is?"
Sam huffed and almost smiled before hunching his shoulders against the icy rain trickling under his collar. "That was a kinda weird hunt," he observed after a minute.
"I know. Harpies? What's up with that?" Dean squinted against the rain up at the buildings they passed. If by some very small chance they had missed one, he didn't want to be caught off guard.
"We haven't dealt with harpies in, like, what? Fifteen years?"
"Something like that," Dean replied with a nod. "Dad went after that nest in Omaha a couple of weeks before school started."
"Yeah." Sam sighed and fell silent. He suddenly turned slightly to look at Dean. "I could really go for a beer."
Dean flashed him a grin. "You know I'm always up for it."
They finally reached the car. Sam went ahead and folded into the passenger side while Dean stowed the duffel. As he eased into the driver's seat, Dean winced at the squeak of his wet clothes against the leather upholstery. He'd have to clean it up when they got back to the motel. Neither made any attempt to continue the conversation as they pulled away from the wharfs and headed back into town.
Despite the weather, he wasn't really paying much attention to the road in front of him. It was past midnight; hardly anyone was out. So when the teenaged girl ran into the road almost directly in front of him, it took Dean a second to react. With an unmanly yelp of surprise (which he would vehemently deny later), he slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed slightly as it skidded to a halt, so close to the girl she slapped her hands on the hood on instinct.
"Holy shit, man!" Sam croaked. For a second, the brothers stared out at the girl, who was staring back at them, pale blonde hair dripping into huge, gray eyes. Then she suddenly whipped her head back in the direction she had come from.
Two men appeared from between the buildings and started towards the girl. She twisted and tried to make a run for it, but collapsed on her hands and knees with a cry. Dean was out of the Impala before he could think twice, reaching for the .45 under his jacket. A glance out the corner of his eyes showed Sam already out and kneeling beside the girl, one long arm around her shoulders and his own gun in hand.
Dean stalked towards the men, lifting his pistol. "Back off," he snarled, setting himself between the girl and her pursuers. He could hear her quick, frightened gasps and Sam's low murmur.
The men came to halt, looking Dean up and down. One stepped forward. "Give us the girl," he growled.
Dean sighted down the barrel of his gun. "I don't think so."
The men bared their teeth eagerly and lunged forward. Dean stepped backwards and his finger tightened on the trigger when the girl cried out behind him.
"Exorcizo te, creatura aquae! In nomine dei patris omnipotentes!"
The men both recoiled, steam rising from their feet as they scrambled to get out of the puddle they had been standing in. Their eyes flickered to solid black and Dean sprang backwards with a curse. Demons. Gun still raised, he half-turned to get a look behind him.
The girl was leaning away from the shelter of Sam's arm, her hand plunged in the same puddle the demons had been standing in. She had blessed the water, Dean realized. How had she done it without a rosary? It didn't matter at the moment.
"Get her in the car," Dean ordered his brother tersely. Sam gathered the girl in his arms and bundled them both into the back seat. The demons advanced around the puddle of holy water, snarling in anger. Dean pumped two bullets into each of their chests purely on principle, all too aware that the plain metal did nothing. Taking the chance, he turned his back and bolted for the driver's side, flinging himself in and shifting the car into drive.
Dean stomped the gas pedal, wheels spinning before finally gaining purchase on the rain-slick asphalt. He clipped the taller of the two demons as he sped away, allowing himself a tight smile. He glanced in the rear view mirror.
"She okay, Sammy?" he demanded.
"I'm fine," the girl gasped, not moving from where she was slumped against Sam. "I'm all right."
"Damn, kid, what the hell was that about?" Dean demanded.
She squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered. "I—" she began, but faltered.
"It's okay, we know about demons," Sam told her quickly.
She gulped. "They—they're trying to kill me."
"We got that," Dean said dryly. "Why?"
"I have something they want," she replied wearily.
"Don't worry," Sam assured her. "You're safe now. We're gonna take care of you."
She nodded and relaxed further against Sam's side. "I know," she whispered. Dean glanced back again, first to make sure that they weren't being followed and second to check on the girl.
"Sam?" he asked.
"She passed out," Sam replied, lifting his fingers from the pulse point on her throat. "She's in pretty bad shape, Dean."
"Yeah. I don't think those two picked up our trail," Dean went on. "But we shouldn't risk it. I'm gonna take the long way back to the motel."
"We should pick up some food, too," Sam added. Dean frowned through the mirror at his brother. Catching Dean's expression, Sam elaborated, "She's all bones, Dean. It looks like she hasn't eaten in weeks."
"Okay. We'll stop somewhere for takeout." Dean set his jaw and stared out at the gray-curtained world outside the Impala. He really, really hated demons. He drove aimlessly around downtown Camden for over an hour, stopping at a twenty-four hour greasy spoon diner, before finally parking in front of their motel room door. The kid slept the entire time.
Sam carefully carried her into the room, setting her gently on the nearest bed and began checking her for injuries. She had stopped shivering sometime during the drive, thanks to Dean cranking the heat to uncomfortable levels. As Sam tended to the girl, Dean circled the room, packing up their scattered clothing and equipment, just in case they needed to make a fast exit. They didn't want to leave any evidence behind.
"Dean, bring me the first aid kit," Sam instructed. As Dean joined him by the bedside with the plastic case in hand, Dean grimaced at what he saw. The girl's arms and torso were covered in bruises and scrapes. There was a pattern that definitely resembled finger marks disappearing beneath her camisole, which Sam had left on to preserve her modesty.
But Sam was more concerned about the girl's feet. As he eased the first shoe free, it revealed her sock splotchy with blood at toe and heel. The other foot was just as bad. Sam ordered Dean to get warm water and began to carefully cut the blood-soaked material away. The skin had been worn completely away, leaving patches of raw, weeping flesh.
"That is just wrong," Dean said as he watched Sam secure the last bit of gauze. "How is that even possible?"
"She's been walking for a long time," Sam observed. "My guess is she's not from around here. She was scared and she ran. Who knows how long those demons were chasing her?" Finished with his ministrations, Sam covered the girl with a blanket and settled at the table with his laptop.
"What're you doing?" Dean demanded, fishing out his portion of the food. He'd lost his appetite the minute he'd seen the girl's injuries, but he knew it'd been at least eight hours since his last meal and he couldn't run on empty forever.
"Searching missing persons reports of girls matching her description. Someone might be looking for her."
Dean glanced at their guest. "I hope so," he murmured. He ate stoically and mechanically while Sam worked. After what seemed like hours, Sam finally straightened. "Got something?" Dean asked, setting his unfinished food aside.
"Maybe. There was a report submitted two weeks ago. Mallory Graves, nineteen, disappeared from the campus of University of Detroit Mercy. Check out the picture."
The girl on the computer screen bore a passing resemblance to the girl sleeping a few feet away from the brothers, except she was smiling, uninjured, and looked a few pounds heavier. "That...could be her," Dean said slowly. "Detroit? That's, like, six hundred miles."
Sam shrugged. "It's a long shot. I'll keep looking."
Dean glanced at the girl and stiffened. "Don't bother. I think she's waking up."
The girl was tossing silently, her expression twisted and frightened. Sam got up hurriedly and Dean, knowing his brother was the more empathic of the pair, let him go. Crouching next to the bed so as not to loom over the girl, Sam laid a large hand on her shoulder and shook her gently.
"Hey, hey, it's okay," he murmured. "You're all right. You're safe. No one's going to hurt you."
Her eyes flew open with a gasp and she recoiled from Sam so quickly she almost fell off the bed. Sam rocked back on his heels, lifting his hands to show they were empty. She relaxed almost instantly, her breathing returning to normal.
"Oh," she said in a tiny voice. "Hi."
"Hi," Sam replied. "You okay?"
She nodded, tucking a strand of hair behind one ear. "Yeah."
"What's your name?"
She chewed on her lower lip for a second. "Mal," she replied at length.
Dean perked up. "Mallory?" he guessed. "From Detroit?"
The girl looked confused, but not scared or nervous. "How'd you know that?"
"We checked missing persons," Sam explained.
"Oh," she said again. Her gaze wandered off into nothing, her eyes growing unfocused. Sam moved so he was in her field of vision.
"Hey, can we ask you a couple of questions?"
She blinked, coming abruptly back to the present. "Uh, yeah, I guess."
"The demons, did this all start when you disappeared, two weeks ago?"
Mallory shook her head. "No. First it was the guy who grabbed me on the way home from school. He had me in his basement for a while, I dunno how long. Then..." she trailed off. Clearing her throat, she started again. "Then the demons came."
"Shit," Dean muttered in sympathy. Kid couldn't catch a break. She'd gone from human monsters to real monsters and he had the feeling things were just getting started.
"You told us in the car that you had something the demons wanted," Sam pressed, his voice gentle. "Can you tell us what that is?"
She shook her head. "I don't know," she replied, sounding unutterably tired. Sam frowned.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know if I should," she said, her voice rapidly losing strength. "But she's awake. She wants to talk to you."
Sam glanced at Dean, who was busy staring at the girl. Her shoulders slumped and her head lolled forward. Then she abruptly straightened. Her expression was now hard and emotionless.
"Dean, Sam, we don't have much time," she said. Her voice had dropped nearly half an octave.
Dean jumped to his feet. He knew instinctively that this was no longer Mallory Graves from Detroit. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded. The girl turned her head to look at Dean. Her eyes were dark and fathomless, unspeakably ancient and completely alien in her young face.
Dean suddenly found it hard to breathe. The color was wrong but the look in those eyes was piercingly familiar. So when she spoke again, he wasn't completely surprised.
"My name is Amitiel. I am an angel."