10 YEARS LATER

LEBANON, KANSAS

The knock at the door surprises Dean enough to jolt him out of his alcohol-induced haze. Stumbling, he grabs for the gun on the kitchen table in front of him and steps over a fallen beer bottle to get to the dead-bolted door of the bunker. Passing the fridge, he cringes at the bent photograph held there by mismatched magnets depicting Krissy, Josephine, and Aiden, Dean himself with an arm slung around Krissy. Like a big goddamned family.

Sam'd put the picture up a few years ago, when it was taken. He hadn't taken it down, though, not even after the night Aiden died, keeled over and bleeding out from the bites on his neck. Not after the night Krissy spent curled in on herself in the kitchen refusing to talk to anyone. Not after the night she drove off by herself without letting Dean or anyone else know where she was headed.

Not even after the night Aiden came back, terse and tired but alive, and Dean had yanked Krissy into Sam's room to scream at her for what she'd done. Looking at her face that night, though, pinched and scared but so grateful, like selling her soul for Aiden's life was the greatest gift she'd ever gotten, he hadn't been able to get the words to come out. All he could do was shake her shoulder a bit before wrapping an arm around her like if he just held her tight enough none of any of it had to happen.

It did happen, though. All of it, exactly the way Dean thought it would. And even though they tried to kill the hellhounds before they could get to Krissy, even though he bargained and bartered with every demon he could get his hands on, none of it was enough to save the girl.

She got two years, and then they were gone, and that was two years ago, and now someone's knocking on his door.

With the gun steady in his hand, Dean takes a breath and opens the door. When he sees Krissy, hair scraped back in a ponytail and eyes bright, he doesn't even think to lower the gun because it's not her. And it can't be her, and it's never going to be her, and that's his fault somewhere in all this mess.

"Hiya."

"What the hell are you?" When he speaks, it comes out as a growl, and he has to cough to clear his throat.

"Dean, it's me," she answers, still with those big eyes, open and honest and he doesn't trust anything about her. "I swear. It's really me."

"Don't you dare," he starts in, but she makes a grab for the gun and somehow slips past him into the bunker, twisting out of the way. In a scramble, he tosses a chair at her and she catches it, dodging his fists (which would've been harder if he'd been a little less drunk).

"Dean!" she calls, holding the chair out like a shield. "Dean, it's me! It's Krissy!"

"Can't be," he says, conviction rotting through his tone as he steadies the gun again. "Not possible."

"It's- okay, your name is Dean Samuel Winchester," she barks out, hands out and open with the palms turned towards him, the proofs and truths falling fast from her, because even drunk Dean Winchester is a good shot. "You became a hunter because a demon killed your mom. You're about the closest thing I've got to a dad."

He pauses, for a moment, but when he jostles again she grabs for the silver knife in her belt. "Okay, okay, look," she says, just as hurriedly, slicing the edge of it against her arm to no effect but the sluice of a bit of blood. "Human, alright?" Backing towards the kitchen, she reaches behind her instinctively for the salt shaker, pours some in her hand and licks it off like a little kid.

Almost like he's buying it, but too used to the ways of life and loss to really believe, Dean slips a hand in his jacket for the flask of holy water and splashes her with it, to no effect. And then there's hope, there, a flighty thing that drifts between his eyes.

"You see?" says Krissy, smearing the droplets out of her face. Just as she's drying her cheeks with the edge of her jacket, he spritzes her with a bottle from behind the cabinet. "Ugh, what is that?"

"Borax." Dean grins, really grins.

"What the hell does Borax kill?"

"You don't wanna know," Dean answers, tossing the gun on the table and striding forward to swoop her into a bear hug, clinging to her the way he's been clinging to his sanity for the past couple of years, and she hangs on just as tightly.

"I don't know how I got out," she mumbles into his jacket. "If it was Cas, or…"

"I don't care," he says, sounding like he's never going to let go. "I don't care. You're here now." Her hand fists in the back of his jacket like she's trying to reassure herself of that.

Muffled against his shoulder, she says, "Not too quick on the gun work there, Eastwood. You got real old while I was gone."

"Yeah," he says after a moment, leaning his chin into her hair. "Yeah, I did."