This story takes place between eps 6.16 and 6.17. SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't gotten to ep 6.16, I don't want to spoil anything for you. You can consider this story to be taking place in an alternate universe. And, I do not own anything, I am just borrowing.

If you are enjoying this story, let your SPN friends know! The more fans, the more I write. ;) Enjoy!

Dakota slung her jacket over her arm as she walked to her car. The night was warmer than usual for Bedford at this time of year. Yawning hugely, she unlocked her car door and climbed in. Working at Burger World in the evenings and carrying a full load at Cleveland State was taking its toll. She gave a small wave across the parking lot at her shift leader, Kurt, as he pulled out of the parking lot. Kurt was constantly asking her out. He was cute enough but Dakota had too much on her plate as it was.

She was exhausted from her shift and worrying about her upcoming paper on linear string theory as she backed out of her parking space. Dakota heard a strange grinding that seemed to be coming from the passenger's side of her car. Stopping, she got out and checked her tire. It wasn't flat and she couldn't see any damage that might be causing the strange sound.

"Great, just what I need." Her sparse savings account wouldn't hold up against a major car repair.

Suddenly, there was a brilliant blue-white light coming from behind her, illuminating the entire lot. She whirled around to see its source barreling in her direction. The metallic squeal and roaring engine were deafening. Screaming, Dakota ran toward the building but it was too late. The rumbling monster caught up to her and left her chewed and mangled body on the sidewalk, under a sign advertising "fresh, never frozen beef".

The woman pulled her non-descript rental sedan into a parking space at the motel. The muscle car sitting to her left caused an ache of longing in her chest. Powerful, even when still, it refused to go unnoticed even by those who could never appreciate its true beauty. Even seen through her peripheral vision, its lines made her heart flutter. Its presence reminded her of a simpler time in her life. She wanted to take a longer look but the red door of room number twenty-three demanded her attention.

As she opened the car door, the Indian summer breeze blew the smell of freshly mowed grass and decomposing leaves across her face. She inhaled deeply but the scent was not enough to stop her pulse from pounding frantically. She didn't want to get out of the car. Her instincts all but glued her to the seat. Her mind was screaming that this was crazy and she should drive away now. But her soul knew that the path she had chosen to follow was one way only. There was no going back. Mentally calling herself a coward, she climbed out of the car, walked the seven steps to the door brusquely, and then hesitated. Would they believe her? What would she do if they didn't? What would she do if they did? Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door, with a mixture of apprehension and hope lodged deep inside her chest. Destiny awaited on the other side.

Dean was lying across the small double bed, feet dangling off the corner, dozing. The last case they had tackled wasn't particularly difficult but it was tiring. There's something to be said for physical exhaustion to keep you from thinking too much. It had been days since he had been in a bed and even longer since he'd had more than a couple of hours sleep at once. After a few drinks, he could feel the fog of intoxication and exhaustion. He let it take him, grateful for the escape.

Sam, on the other hand, was wired. He cleaned his shotgun with enthusiasm, excited with their success. This job was just what he had needed. There had been lots of hack and slash, not so much thinking. Every time his attention wasn't occupied, the feeling he had been plagued with came back. It wasn't a coherent thought as much as it was an itch in his subconscious. Something big was coming. Sam didn't know whether it was good or bad but it was going to be game changing.

He hadn't mentioned any of this to Dean. He would probably freak out and worry that Sammy was using his "psychic crap" or that he was scratching at the "wall". This was more intuition than anything relating to his former abilities or potentially debilitating memories. He sighed and returned to the mindless task in front of him.

There was a quiet knock at the door. Sam glanced at Dean, who snored softly, wondering if he should wake him. It's possible that one of the vamps had escaped the slaughter. But why would vamps knock? Another soft tap beckoned. Sam picked up his .45 and decided to greet their visitor alone. If it was bad news on the other side, Dean would know soon enough.

Sam pulled open the door, surprised at who was on the other side. The woman looked at him with a mixture of astonishment and trepidation, "Sam Winchester?" she inquired quietly.

"Who wants to know?" He was startled that she seemed to know who he was. She didn't look like a cop or a fed.

"Castiel sent me here to see you and your brother. I will gladly answer all your questions and take all the standard demon tests but I think it best if I come inside."

Sam was stunned. She knew Cass and apparently knew the truth about what they did. She didn't look like a hunter. He opened the door to let her in. Before he could turn around to begin questioning her, he heard Dean cock his gun. Before Sam could yell at him to stop, she was wrestling with Dean and much to Sam's surprise, she was winning. This mystery woman then abruptly stomped on Dean's instep, grabbed his arm pinned it behind his back as he went to the ground and took his pistol from him. Dean's curses were muffled and his own firearm was pointed at the back of his head as he lay on the hotel carpet.

As Sam gawked, she let Dean up and handed him the weapon. "I wouldn't advise you do that again. I could have really hurt you." Turning her attention to Sam, she spoke with authority, "Sam, I have been sent here by Cass. If you call him, he will confirm what I have told you. Bobby Singer can also vouch for me. Please hand me your flask of holy water and a silver knife so I can prove to you I am not possessed or a shape shifter."

Who was this woman? Sam handed her his silver dagger and flask. She took a swig and proceeded to slice her forearm with the knife. "Satisfied?" Her tone again filled with conviction.

He was indeed satisfied. Sam knew that she was the "game change" he had been sensing. Taking a moment to actually look at her, she was quite beautiful. Her dark auburn hair was cut severely short, but it suited her somewhat angular face. She carried her voluptuous but muscular frame with grace, an almost regal dignity. She dressed simply in jeans and a t-shirt which neither accentuated nor detracted from her figure. But her most startling feature had to be her eyes. They were a shade of indigo he had never seen before, the color of the sky right before dusk. They were perfectly shaped, framed by dark lashes, intense and bottomless. He could see straight into her soul. And what he saw there made him shiver. Yes, she was the "itch" in his subconscious, and things were definitely about to change.

She sat on the bed where Dean had been sleeping, bandaging the self-inflicted cut that proved she wasn't a shape shifter. As he watched, Dean noticed that she worked with precision, like she had done the exact same procedure a thousand times. Sam was on the phone with Bobby, finding out what he knew about their visitor. Dean had already "called" Cass but he had yet to respond. His foot was aching where she had smashed it. If he was being honest with himself, he had underestimated this girl and she got the drop on him. Her move was excellent but he wasn't about to admit that to her or anyone else.

"Who are you, lady?" He could smother his curiosity no longer, "How do you know about us?"

She didn't look up from her arm and said simply, "I have already told you that. Cass sent me."

Sam interrupted before he could ask any more questions, "She checks out, Dean," He had the nerve to look relieved. Dean was hoping to have an excuse to teach this girl some manners.

"You never answered my question. Who are you?" His patience was starting to wear thin, the lack of sleep making him edgy. Sam grinned at her. He actually seemed amused. What was going on with him anyway?

"So, Bobby says your name is Raven." Sam interjected.

Dean couldn't help but make a Poe joke to himself. What kind of stupid name was Raven?

She gave Sam a half smile while closing up the rather sophisticated first-aid kit she had brought with her, "I never said Raven was my name. I told Bobby he could call me that. I would rather not reveal anymore about myself that is absolutely necessary."

Dean pounced, "Why? What are you hiding?"

She shot him a glare of loathing and brusquely replied, "Nothing. Merely protecting those I love. Doing what we do, innocent bystanders invariably get caught in the cross fire."

"So you're a hunter? How long have you been on the job?" Dean was going to get at least one of his questions answered to his satisfaction.

"I've been hunting for about three years now. I worked with Bobby on a Wendigo case in North Dakota about a year and a half ago. He called me again about 6 months ago to deal with a small vamp nest in Wyoming that he couldn't find anyone else to take. "

Sam nodded, "That's what Bobby said. He was really impressed with her, Dean. Said she was one of the best he'd ever seen."

Dean smirked and shook his head, "Yeah, right. Three years isn't nearly enough time to become remotely good at this."

Again, Raven shot him a contemptuous look. "You don't know the first thing about me, Dean Winchester. Do not presume that I am not excellent at what I do because I don't have years of experience. I am a certified NRA sharpshooter with distinction, have black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido, can read Latin, Enochian, Aramaic, Sanskrit and a half dozen other languages… oh and there's the fact that I put your ass on the floor with very little effort."

Dean got to his feet and Raven reacted in kind. Dean looked at her with open revulsion. The look was returned, her dark blue eyes frigid. As he stared her down, something flickered underneath her cool glare. Dean felt his stomach clench and his heart race. What the hell was happening? She lowered her head, breaking contact and clearing her throat. He was grateful the connection was gone and his reaction to it confused him. The feelings created by her intense eyes were uncomfortable, making his suspicion of Raven even greater.

Raven looked down at her feet, trying to stop the swimming in her head. Dean's smoldering gaze caused a cold sweat on her brow and goose pimples… well, everywhere. What the heck was that? There was no doubt that Dean detested her and the feeling was quickly becoming mutual. But there was a spark that had passed between them. The question was... what did it mean?