A/N: Sorry for the delay... I was shocked and horrified to find this one hadn't been updated since December. Back injuries and scatterbrained muses suck.
You all can thank FloatingAboveParis for the sweet note she sent asking for more Sam and Halley. Her kind words motivated me to get a jump on finishing a few things I had started. This isn't as sexy as she hinted she wanted to see...but we're getting there. I promise.
Keep an eye out for a sexy OS featuring this pair tentatively titled Through Her Eyes. Steph says it'll make you cry and melt your computer screens - and that's just what I've got so far!
Winchester hugs for stephaniew who has her own special way of encouraging me and bringing me home. A talented writer in her own right, she's put aside time to help wrangle my muse and soothe my rumpled confidence.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.
Chapter Four: Running on Empty
It's nights like tonight that I almost understand my brother's love for the grip of tires on asphalt. It's not often I drive, even though Dean lets me behind the wheel significantly more often than he does Jo. Right now, with Halley sitting silently in the passenger seat staring out the window, watching the lines on the road steadily pass by is almost comforting.
It's getting late. There's no telling she's exhausted. I know we'll need to stop soon so she can sleep, but I want to get as far we can tonight. Everything in me - maybe it's the last remaining traces of Demon blood I won't ever be able to escape - says this thing is on the move.
I get off the exit for a small town. A place where I think we'll be off the radar. Better we don't draw attention to ourselves. Shifting the car into park at the office of a tiny motel, careful to leave it by the big picture window where I can keep an eye out, I turn to my duffle in the back seat.
Glancing at Halley, I debate whether or not to give her a weapon. She seems so fragile and lost sitting next to me. I slip a gun into the waist of my jeans at the small of my back and slide a knife into my boot for good measure. You can never be too careful.
I swallow, my hands resting on the steering wheel. I don't look at her. "This should only take a couple minutes," I say. "Stay in the car and lock the doors behind me. If you see anything strange, honk the horn."
From the corner of my eye, I see her nod and move to get out. I'm stopped by her hand grabbing mine. She tries to force a smile, a pale pink blush staining her cheeks. "Thank you," she says softly.
My head drops back against the headrest. "Don't, Halley," I manage, my voice shaky. "If it wasn't for me, you'd..."
"Be dead already," she finishes quietly. "You didn't have to come back, Sam. You've said there are more of your kind. You could've..."
"No," I tell her, shaking my head. "I couldn't. It had to be me. I had to fix this."
She squeezes my hand. "And you will."
I nod, hoping she's right and afraid she isn't. I make my way to the office, unable to keep from looking back at the car as I walk in. She really is something else and it brings a smile - a real one - to my lips.
Inside, the manager looks like he's about to roast. Sweat drips down his wrinkled brow and he blots it away with an old handkerchief. "You might wanna stay somewhere else, son. The AC here is busted."
I frown and look back at the car. She's tired. I am, too. The next closest motel is probably at least another hour away.
The old man grins. "She pushin' you to stop?" he asks, nodding to the Jeep.
I rub my hand over the back of my neck, feeling my cheeks redden as my eyes drop to the floor. The way he looks at me makes me uncomfortable, not that I'm terribly comfortable with the situation to begin with.
"Gotta be a woman. You haven't stopped looking at that truck since you came in here," he says. Shuffling, he turns to the keys hooked on the wall behind him.
While his back is turned, I look out the window. Definitely a woman...but no explanation for the warmth in my chest since I found her. She should want nothing to do with me and yet she's here despite everything that happened before.
"It's not much," his voice lures me back, "but it's clean. I'll give you one close to the ice machine and knock $10 off the rate."
Pulling out my wallet, I drop the bills on the counter and sign the paperwork. I catch myself almost writing one of the aliases Dean and I have used before quickly throwing the extra letter on the end to make one feminine. This would be interesting.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Supernatural ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The owner really wasn't kidding when he said it was hot. The room has to be close to 85 degrees. My t-shirt clings to my skin and I'm debating how much I can take off without making Halley uncomfortable.
She sits on the end of one of the beds and slips out of her shoes, watching while I prep the room. Salt on the window sills and in front of the door. Iron stakes laid along the rocky, white lines. Dean and I had no idea what would work, so I did both.
Her long hair is still up and she's twisted it off of her neck. She steps into the bathroom and comes out with a damp washcloth. She strokes it over her face and places it on the back of her neck.
Spotting the bucket, I smile because I can at least help make her a little more comfortable. "I'll go get some ice," I tell her. "And I'll see if I can find something to drink."
She nods in agreement and leans back on her pillow. I open my mouth to speak and she silences me. "I know, Sam," she says. "Stay here and lock the door behind you."
For some reason, her words make me grin as I walk outside with the bucket. I head around the corner into the dimly lit alcove by the stairs and survey the contents of the vending machine. It occurs to me that I hadn't asked what she liked and I curse under my breath, wishing I was smooth like Dean.
Deciding on one diet and one regular, I feed dollar bills into the soda machine before turning to the snacks. Something salty and something sweet. Covering all the bases, I cram a bag of M&M's into my pocket and catch the edge of the bag of chips against the bucket. Finally turning to the ice, I open the freezer and sigh as a cool wall of air hits my face.
I'm scooping ice when I hear a scream and shattering glass. Racing back to the room, I see Halley pinned to the wall. The glow from the broken lamp casts an eerie shadow of the demon across the wall, making the smokey black aura that surrounds him grow larger and more threatening as he raises his arm. She slides up the wall with his motion, squirming and clawing at the invisible hands around her throat.
I freeze. It reminds me of Jessica. Reminds me of time I spent in the cage as Michael and Lucifer's plaything. Pain rips sharply through my temple and I double over. Fighting - for Halley's life as well as my own - I reach into my boot, my fingers wrapping around the hilt of the knife. I thrust blindly and red light fills the room.
Unsteady on my feet, I'm not sure how but I manage to catch her and keep her from tumbling to the floor. She clings to me, her arms winding around my neck. I feel her tears through my already damp shirt.
For a few minutes, I just hold her. She smells like powder and sunshine. The gentle curves of her frame melt into me and I swallow, gritting my teeth as the memory of watching her climax in the bathroom mirror slams into my consciousness.
Suddenly, holding her feels wrong. Dirty. Not because of her, but because of what I did. How I violated her. Clearing my throat, I release her. I keep her at arm's length hoping - praying - she doesn't feel my shame and disgust.
"We can't stay here," I say, forcing my vocal chords to work. "It isn't safe." In spite of everything I'm feeling, the look she gives me - the purity of her trust - makes me draw her back to my chest all over again. My fingers grip the nape of her neck, the weight of her braid heavy against the back of my hand. I know I should - that I have to - but I can't let her go. I can't bring myself to deny her the comfort she seeks.
Minutes pass. It's both forever and somehow not long enough. "Halley," I say finally, stroking my hand over her hair and forcing her to look at me. Bright blue eyes stare up at me and I get lost in them. I want to kiss her. I almost kiss her. "We've gotta go."
She nods silently, her hands twisting in the hem of her shirt. Brushing the tears from her cheeks, she gives me a weak smile. It breaks my heart. More than I've ever wanted to help anyone else I've ever met, I want to help her. I want to end this.
We get back in the Jeep and drive. Tires meet the pavement and her soft sobs fill the air. I can't ignore them, so I reach across the console and slip my hand into hers.
"I don't know how long I can do this..." she tells me.
I take a deep breath. I'm not sure how long I can do it either. How long I can feel this...helpless. "Try to get some rest. Hopefully Dean and Jo will find something."
Tears shimmer in the moonlight as she closes her eyes. She continues to hold my hand, entwining our fingers. It takes a while, but her grip slackens and the tremble of her shoulders stops. She doesn't awaken when I withdraw my touch, nor does she stir when I get out of the truck and head into the office of another motel.
Halley's featherlight in my arms as I carry her to the room. Without turning on the light, I shift her weight and draw back the covers on the bed furthest from the door. Laying her down, I quietly remove her shoes and tuck her beneath the sheet.
Sitting on the edge of the mattress, I watch as she hugs herself in her sleep. She looks like an angel. It's like some cosmic joke. That someone so sweet - so innocent - could ever end up with someone as damaged as me is absurd. I don't have a chance. Not that it really matters. I won't be around long enough to find out.
I press a gentle kiss to her forehead before slipping out of my boots and flopping on the other bed. I remain alert. Sleep doesn't find me easily these days and, when it does, it's consumed by nightmares. And tonight's been enough of a nightmare without visions of Hell.