No rights to Supernatural.
The thought of angsty teen!Claire really appealed me.
Here's some story for you.
Thanks for reading and reviewing! You know, if you're into that kind of thing.
"You're too young be drinking," I call to the blonde.
She has the presence someone who grew up to fast, who should be allowed into sleazy clubs on this basis of her maturity and experience, but the slight babyish fullness of her cheeks, framed by silky, light-blonde hair, and obvious discomfort at her surroundings give her age away.
Her gaze flicks over to me and seems to give me, a stranger slouching in a bar stool, a quick once-over. She deems it safe to speak with me. I don't have an intimidating presence.
She lifts her hands and turns their backs toward me. X's are marked in black ink across them.
"I could say the same for you," she chides back, noticing the same young features in my face that I had in hers.
I lift my hands and show her the black marks we have in common. "Looks like we match," I comment. "You here to see the band?"
"Gargoyle Archetype? Not if they sound as good as their band name does."
I don't quite catch the words over the crowd and noise. "Sorry, what?"
The girl ambles over and sits in the seat beside me and leans in so I can hear her. "No," she summarizes. "I'm here for research."
"Is this really a place to get studying done?" I ponder.
"Not that kind of research," she assures me, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I'm kind of searching for someone."
"Who? I might have seen them."
"You wouldn't know them," she shakes her head.
"Wow. You suck at researching."
She laughs, resting her arms on the counter. "Fine. Two males. Tall. One of them's really tall. They're probably in a black Chevy Impala."
I frown at the description. "Why would you want to find them?"
"I think they might be able to give me information about my father," she explains.
"Why don't you just find your father?"
"I think I have a better chance at finding those two," she chuckles, as if sharing an inside joke with herself.
"Do you have names?"
She shakes her head. "No names. I barely remember their faces. I'm met them when I was about eleven. I'm seventeen now. Hence the x-es. That was the last time I saw my dad."
"Why the urge to go off looking for him?" I wonder.
"It's a long story," she says, and her tone implies that if she actually had a drink, she would've taken a large swig of it.
"I've got time," I tell her.
"I doubt you'd believe much of it."
She shakes her head stubbornly.
"Fine, let me tell you something instead," I offer. "I've shot at demons, the first time being when I was about thirteen, beheaded vampires by fifteen, and once, I watched a werewolf rip my mom's heart out of her chest."
She frowns at me. "That's not funny."
"I'm not trying to be."
She angles her head to glare at me skeptically. "Really?" she says doubtfully.
I shrug shamelessly. Her expression doesn't change.
"I might be able to help you find Sam and Dean," I add.
Her eyes widen up at me, startled.
"Is . . . is that their names?"
I frown. "You didn't learn their names."
"They didn't tell me what their names were," she revealed. "I may have heard it in passing, but it was so long ago. I don't remember."
"That's no excuse," I shrug. "I was supposed to forget about Dean entirely."
I can almost see the rush of confusion zooming around in Claire's mind.
"You going to tell me that story of yours now?"
She nods, with only a little hesitation.
"I'm Claire, by the way," she adds. "Claire Novak."
And she launches into the story.
It was fifteen at that point, a freshman in high school. My homework, more intimidating than any beast I've encountered so far, was momentarily forgotten at the surprising knock at the door.
The Novak house didn't get visitors often. One time way had a knock on the door, and it turned out to be my dad's best friend possessed by a demon. He held a knife to my throat. It wasn't one. Ever since, unexpected visits and the Novak women didn't mix well.
Understandably, my mom hesitated to answer the door.
"Check the peephole first," I suggest encouragingly. My mom and I had become quite the mother-daughter team ever since my dad left on . . . "business." We hadn't had exactly been in a decent frame of mind since dad left, so we really helped each other out.
My mom approached the door slowly. At the door, she lifted herself onto her toes.
And was promptly blown back off her feet.
The door swung on its hinges, knocking her to the ground. Even on the carpet, I could hear her head thunk against ground.
My hands flattened against the table and I spun to face the intruder.
It was my dad.
"Daddy?" I uttered before I could stop myself. I was fifteen. I should've grown out of that turn, but it's not like he was around so I could do so gradually.
"If it gives you comfort to think that," he said, and I automatically knew it's couldn't have been him. There was too much snark and condescension in his voice. It reminded me of that of the . . .
"Demon!" my mom shrieked.
"You know, I resent that assumption," the thing that looked like my dad points a finger with more sass than my dad ever had. "If I'm going to be a ghoul, you might as well acknowledge it."
He was wearing a black jacket and khaki pants, another thing that differentiated him from my dad. From the jacket pocket, he snatched out a knife and started toward my mom's fallen body.
"Stop!" I screamed, bolting up from the chair.
"Whoa, whoa, little girl," my dad-double cautioned, holding my mom down my the shoulder and putting the knife to her throat, as irony would have it. "Wait your turn."
"Get out of my house," I tried to say intimidatingly, but ended up sounding desperate and very much my age when I added a broken-sounding, "please."
"Well, since you said please," he started, and from his tone, dripping with so much more condescension that I can predict that this sentence wouldn't end well, he lifts the knife and plunges it into my mom's stomach.
I thought I heard my mom scream, but it was my throat that the cry ripped out of. I ran at the pair on the floor. The ghoul hovered the knife above my mom's eye, and I stopped, holding back the sobs in my throat.
"Only a stomach wound, sweetie," he said, and even though it was a term of twisted endearment rather than actual affection, it reminded me so much of my real dad that one sob escaped. I hoped the ghoul didn't notice. "Besides, if she dies now, it'll be less fun eating her."
My jaw slackened in horror.
"Now stay there," the ghoul requested, "and let me snack, and maybe I'll make her death a tad more painless."
That's not the kind of order I listen to.
I bolt down the hallway leading to the more obscure and less showy rooms. Bedroom, bathroom, that sort of deal. Like many American dads, my dad had guns hidden away. I burst into my parent's . . . my mom's . . . bedroom and make my way to the closet. I'm not sure my dad knew that I was aware that his rifle was hidden there, but it sure was useful now.
I didn't know much about ghouls. I didn't have much time to question whether or not they existed, because apparently, one was probably chewing my mom up. It led to the question, could a gun kill a ghoul? As far as killing went, I figure guns were a safe first go where trial and error was concerned.
I cocked the gun the way I'd seen people do on TV westerns. It didn't happen in point five seconds flat like it did there. I wrestled with the instrument for a while before I figured that it would shoot if I pulled the trigger.
I got to my feet, hugging the gun to my body, then sprinted back to the front of the house. I gasped at what I saw.
My mom's eyes were fluttering, so she was still alive, but her shoulder was a mess of blood and muscle and meat, the attached arm dangling and pathetic.
The ghoul spit to the side. "Told you to stay there, didn't I?" he said. "Now I think I'll drag this out."
I pointed the gun, trying to look threatening, but my face probably still registered my fear.
"Be careful with that, sweetie," he said patronizingly, using the word that made my heart throb. "You might hurt mama."
He was right. With my inexperience, if I managed to shoot the rifle off, it was probably just as likely that I'd hit my mom than hit the ghoul.
"Adam tried to be a hero, too, when we went after him," the ghoul said, digging its fingers into my mom's shoulder wound, making her whimper. The gun shook in my grasp. "I was chomping on his mom, too. Must be a thing. You two probably really get serious about mother's day presents."
I had no idea who Adam was, but I know I feel sorry for him. The implication was that he and his mom were eaten.
I was determined not to end up like Adam.
But I didn't want to shoot my mom, and if I get any closer, the ghoul might snatch me up.
"By the way, the two large Impala enthusiasts riding around with your dad, they kind of irked ghoulkind," he added, "they're next on our list. We're starting with people they might care about. Drawing them out, you know?"
"You know where my dad is?" I said softly.
"Fun fact, sweetie, I can only take the form of dead people," he smiled, lathering his hand with my mom's shoulder goo.
My heart fell into my stomach. I almost dropped the gun.
"He might be back by now," it shrugged. "Maybe just his meat suit, but whatever the case, I can take the body."
I was suddenly that much more confused.
"Nevertheless," it added, "if he is back, I plan to chomp him down nice and slow."
Its eyes glinted as it added, "And I plan to use your body to do it."
Aiming at the ghouls chest, I yanked the trigger.
Of course, I wasn't exactly a natural. The aim was inaccurate, even with the adrenaline of my emotions and determination not have my dad be under the impression that I'm killing him. Nevertheless, its face exploded with a burst of blood that covered up its expression, its head hearing back.
I wasn't sure, but I believed I was well into point blank range. There was enough power for the head to fly off.
I released the gun and it clattered to the ground. I nearly tripped over it as I rushed to my mother's side, pushing my "dad's" body away and kneeling next to her.
"Mom? Mom?" I said to her. Her eyes have since closed, which sent my pulse into a frenzy as I put two fingers to her neck to check for hers.
I didn't find one. I felt around for ten minutes or so before I let myself believe that she was dead. I may not have ended up look Adam, but my mom ended up like Adam's did.
I noticed the blood pooling around her shoulder for the first time, noted that I was kneeling in it, that my hands were covered in.
The sight of both of my parents' dead forms, me kneeling between them, released a wave of helpless upon me. Memories come with it. Me finding out Santa didn't exist when I was only five because they couldn't bear lying to me. Them teaching me about prayer and redemption because it was the most important thing to them. Us holding hands across the dinner table and saying grace over a meal my mom had mastered during my parents' supernaturally happy and lovingly Christ-centered marriage, which started collapsing with all that angel and demon stuff came into play. My dad giving up his family and his life as a man so I wouldn't have to, though I would've gladly taken that burden off of him, even when I was an eleven-year-old.
Memories played before me. Their lives flashed before my eyes, the part I knew of it.
Then I remembered, my dad might be dead.
Two tall Impala enthusiasts might've been out there with him.
Those guys who were with him when my dad came home after a year. I remembered them vaguely.
"And I decide to go out looking for him," she concludes, her expression seeming to hold back a tide.
I admire her strength as she told the story. She told the story as if it empowered her instead of broke her down. When my mom was killed, I wallowed for months in self-pity.
"I'm sorry about your parents," I tell her.
"I'm sorry about yours."
"Thanks," I smirk at her. We're in the similar situations, really. Dead moms. Absent fathers.
"I'm Ben," I decide to tell her. "Ben Braeden."
Claire rubs the back of her neck. "Hi, Ben."
"I'm looking for Sam and Dean, too," I reveal.
"What's your excuse?" she chuckles.
"My reasons aren't so heartfelt," I say. "Or maybe they are."
"I was supposed to forget about Dean," I tell her. "And I did. When your memories are wiped, they're wiped. I didn't forget Sam, though. If you connect some dots, Dean comes back into the picture."
"Why do you want to find this guy?"
I shrug. "He taught me how to hunt. I may not remember him doing it, but I had to have learned it somewhere, right? He was, from what I gather, like a . . . father to me."
"Where's your real dad?"
"Looks like we're both on the lookout for father figures," Claire notes. "I'm assuming you're the type who has hunted down some evil creatures along the way?"
A smile plays on the corners of Claire's lips. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"We join forces, wreak havoc on the evil forces of the country, and pay our dad and almost-dad a surprise visit?"