A/N This is a one-off with Ren, has nothing to do with the series I've been posting and I had no intention of writing it at all. It's an idea that got stuck in my head and wouldn't go away until I put it down and got it posted - I've found myself dreaming about it, even, which is what pushed me over the edge to actually just post it. It does not fall within the timeline of the brief span I plan on her traveling with them.
In the end, Sam and I flanked it and Dean killed it. Before we reached that point, though, it had killed several people. When we got there, it was in the process of killing one more.
A five year old girl.
After the initial adrenaline-induced swearing and checking each other for injuries, we are all silent. Lost in our own thoughts. Drowning in guilt. Salt and burn the remains. Silent ride back to the motel. Quick shower, just long enough to scrape away the majority of the stench of blood.
The guys crash out, exhausted beyond all reasoning. I am so tired I have to remind myself to breathe, but sleep will not come.
Curled on my side, one hand on Dean's back. Grounding myself. A fragile tether keeping me from floating away into a vast ocean of self-loathing and grief.
I am supposed to be faster than these guys. I am supposed to be able to rely on faster reflexes, better senses. I have tried so hard to turn the curse of my birth into a positive somehow.
What has it done for me?
Exile from my people. Nearly put to death. Treading cautiously wherever we go so I don't attract attention. Attention that would put Sam and Dean in danger.
And now, I couldn't even save a five year old girl. So much for supernatural abilities.
Still I cannot sleep, but my thoughts are hazy. I am cold one minute and hot the next. I shift my eyes to look for an open window. Some explanation for the arctic chill I keep feeling. It is Fall and here in the Northern US the nights are bone-rattling cold.
My vision is blurry though and I can't see the edge of the bed, much less across the room to the windows.
I am not aware I am rubbing small designs into Dean's back. Not until he growls, "Ren, come on, knock it off. I'm trying to sleep here."
I can hear it in his voice. The accusation, the blame that just coasts the edges of his voice.
I am supposed to be stronger, faster, more agile, but I could not even save a child. I know it. He knows it. Sam does too and if he were awake he would probably be disgusted with me too.
I can't take it. I don't deserve the comfort of a warm bed. I can't stand the thought of endangering Sam and Dean any more than I already have. I have to get out of here before I get them killed too.
The accusation in Dean's voice combined with the thoughts of harm coming to either brother galvanizes my blood, launches me into action.
I roll towards the edge of the bed. I hear Dean speak, but cannot make out what he is saying. I feel him reach for me but easily dodge his hand.
I spare a bitter thought for how easy it was to dodge his grasp when I could not move fast enough when it really counted.
I see the girl's face in my mind again, hear her screams in my head. By the time I clear my vision, I am halfway across the parking lot of the motel. I don't remember walking out the door, hope I remembered to close it behind me.
I probably didn't, with my luck. Probably left it wide open for anything to get in and get the Winchesters.
Shit my feet are cold. Forgot my shoes. Something sharp in my left foot.
How did I get into the trees? Where am I going?
Oh right. The girl. Gotta save her. I forgot.
Except she died. Didn't she?
Maybe not. Maybe that was just a bad dream. Maybe I can still save her.
But then I see her face again. Hear the screams. The scent of blood clings to my nostrils. No. She is dead. And it is my fault.
But it's okay. I can hear something coming up behind me through the trees. I wasn't fast enough to save her, now I just need to not be fast enough to save myself. Whatever it is, I just need to be a step slower than it. Like I was with the girl. Yeah. I can do that.
I can feel it, right behind me, almost close enough to feel its breath. I don't know what it is, don't really care. The firm, painful grip on my shoulder spinning me around and then...
The world fades to black.
He was awake, wasn't sure when or if he would be able to sleep again. He tried to relax, though, let his breathing smooth out until it was deep and even.
He can feel her hand on his back, absently tracing circles and sigils against his skin. He knows she is probably taking comfort in the small contact, but his natural defensiveness of his personal space kicks in.
He asks her to stop, voice coming out harsher than he intends, strained as it is with stress and exhaustion.
The instant she breaks contact he regrets it, realizes she wasn't the only one taking comfort in contact with a warm living body. The devastation of losing an innocent life is not something that gets easier with time. Especially when it is a child.
He hears her cries in his head and his chest constricts painfully. He can feel the tears prickling his eyes.
But then Ren is rolling away, off the bed.
"Hey, you okay?" She doesn't answer, his skin prickles. Something isn't right. He reaches for her but she easily evades him, still not speaking.
He's off the bed right behind her, but she is already out the door. Closing it behind her. Walking out into the frigid night air in nothing more than shorts and a camisole.
"Shit, Sam! Something's wrong with Ren!" He scrambles into his jeans, throwing on boots but not bothering to tie them. He grabs his coat and darts out the door as the younger Hunter launches out of bed to follow suit.
She is across the lot at the tree-line when he reaches the front of the Impala.
He can see the distinct outline of her left foot on the asphalt starting just a few feet out from where he is standing.
He starts off at a run to close the distance, slows when he gets closer so he doesn't spook her.
He hears Sam not far behind him. He tries speaking to her, but there is no sign of recognition, no indication she hears him.
He takes in her body language - head bowed, shoulders slumped. She looks like she is walking in front of a firing squad.
He decides to risk it, he reaches out and grabs her shoulder. As he turns her, her eyes widen for a fraction of a moment and then roll back in her head. She drops as though someone has suddenly ripped all of her bones out of her body. Fear and adrenaline burst through him in an electric, tingling rush.
He manages to get an arm around her before she hits the ground, but just barely. He's lifting her then, feeling the heat radiating off her. She always runs hot, part of what she is, but this is different. Worse. More.
"She's feverish. Did it scratch her? Did you see?" Neither can remember seeing any wounds on her, momentarily holding onto the hope that this is illness and not toxins from the creature that should be a fading memory by now.
Sam runs ahead, thankful for something to do to help. He's only really dealt with Dean's fevers, and his father's once or twice when Dean was injured or sick himself and unable to help.
Sam is ready with cool, damp cloths by the time Dean returns with the still-limp form sweating and shivering in his arms. Every panted moan pulling at their already battered hearts.