After a week in the cabin, I could see Dean was ready to start climbing the walls. It wasn't like we weren't trying to find anything that might help locate the prophet, or stop Crowley, or even provide a little light entertainment, but every spell and ritual Bobby had had failed on all counts, and Cas was, for some angelic reason of his own, refusing to answer even Dean's self-consciously muttered requests for a pow-wow.
So, when he hunched over the laptop and said, "Look at this," we all looked up.
"What?" Sam asked suspiciously.
"Heart ripped out," Dean told him, his gaze focussed on the screen. "And missing."
"Wrong time of the month," Dean said, brows pulling together as he kept reading.
"Let's go," Sam said, with a shrug to Lauren that plainly said, better he's out on the road than cooped up in here. From her wry return expression, I think she agreed.
"Terry, grab whatever you need," Dean said, closing the laptop and picking it up.
I stopped, Sam froze and both Lauren and Bobby looked up.
"You're coming," Dean said with a shrug.
Sam looked at him. "Could I have a word – outside?"
Dean looked at him for a steady moment and set the laptop down, following Sam out onto the porch. There was a rumble of voices, rising and falling, beyond the closed door.
Bobby looked over at me. "What's this about?"
"I don't know," I told him. The last few days hadn't been anything out of the ordinary, really. After my moment of bravery, it'd been a kind of mutual but unspoken decision to not go into it any more deeply, and things between us had been pretty much as they'd always been.
Neither brother had asked me anything further about the time I'd spent as Crowley's prisoner. I'd caught Bobby looking at me thoughtfully once or twice, but he hadn't said anything either. If it hadn't been for Lauren's discreet but persistent campaign to get me to try to remember what'd happened, I would've said that everyone was happy enough with it remaining a blank spot in our collective past.
"Then we're good," Dean said over his shoulder as the door flew open and he came back inside.
Sam didn't reply, his gaze cutting to Lauren as he headed for their room. She got up and followed him upstairs and I thought about what I should take for a round trip to Michigan. Warm stuff, I decided, slowly walking up the stairs.
"What's the story on the missing heart?" I heard Bobby ask Dean as I reached the landing. I couldn't make out his answer but figured I'd get the whole picture once we were on the way.
A few minutes later, as I was deciding between two pairs of identical jeans, he came into the bedroom, grabbing his duffle bag from behind the door.
"What's going on?" I asked, putting the first pair of jeans into my backpack.
"Nothing," he said, a little bit defensively, no doubt from having to justify the decision to both Sam and Bobby already. "I just think you'll be safer with us than here."
I hadn't really considered it. The cabin was warded and painted up with sigils against angels and demons from chimney top to ground level.
"What? I'm not – that's –" he said, not looking at me as he shoved clothes into his bag.
"That's not all it is."
He looked across the room and his shoulders slumped as he gave up the pretence of not having anything else on his mind. "No," he agreed unwillingly, zipping up the bag with unnecessary violence and taking it to drop by the door. He walked over to me.
"That's not all it is. I'm not coming back here to find you gone again," he said, his face stony with determination. "Not happening."
"I think it'd be alright –" I started to say, my concern for the look in his eyes warring madly with a delighted tingle that he was feeling so protective.
"You haven't told me the whole story, Terry," he cut me off and my little tingle vanished instantly.
"I have –"
"Not even close," he said, shaking his head. "I sleep right next to you, you know."
"I don't remember what happens in the nightmares when I wake up," I said, looking at the floor. I'd woken a few times – oh, alright, a lot of times – in the night over the last week, and sometimes Dean had been awake, or woken by me, and sometimes it seemed like he wasn't. It wasn't entirely true, but I couldn't begin to think of an upside to reliving all that stuff and when I thought about saying it – out loud and to someone – I usually got an icy sweat. Didn't really seem like a good idea, is all.
He was watching me and I made myself look up, meet his eyes. After a moment, he took a step closer. "You know, sooner or later, we're gonna have to talk about this," he said quietly.
"Aren't you the guy who doesn't think talking about stuff helps?"
He snorted softly. "That's only for me," he told me, his mouth lifting to one side. "Doesn't apply to anyone else."
For a moment, I wanted to challenge him. Quid pro quo, or something along those lines. I let it go because there was a case in Michigan and we were packed and ready to go, but I decided to keep that option open.
"Sam'll be waiting," I said instead, and picked up my backpack.
"We should find a place that's not so far to one side of the country," I said, getting out of the Impala and stretching out my stiff back and neck.
Dean closed and locked the car door, glancing at me. "Yeah, right, I'll just cash in one of the hedge funds and buy us something nice in the middle."
I sighed and grabbed my bag. He was right of course, they were still living mostly off scammed credit cards and Bobby's inheritance and it meant there was enough money for food and gas and the cheapest of motels, but that was about it.
"So what else takes the heart and leaves the rest?" Sam asked hurriedly, following us into our room and running salt around the room's perimeter as soon as the door was shut.
"Some spells, some sacrifices," I muttered, feeling the long drive as I crossed to the table. I'd spent a lot of the time reading through the stuff Lauren had given us and there weren't really any answers there. "Not much else."
"What do you guys want?" Dean asked, turning back to the door when he'd dumped his gear.
"Fresh – stuff," Sam said. "Salad, something decent."
I shrugged. I was hungry but after a day spent doing nothing but sitting on my ass, I wasn't that hungry and I had no special feelings about it.
"Burgers it is," he said, turning and opening the door, and heading back to the car.
I looked at Sam and offered a rueful smile. "You want something different, you have to get it yourself," I said, parroting Dean.
"Yeah," Sam retorted, running both hands through his hair to push it back. "Like I get the Impala except under duress."
"I should've brought that book," I said suddenly.
"Lauren had a book by the society she's chasing – it was all about werewolves."
"It's not a werewolf," Sam told me. "The attack was two weeks before the full moon."
"Oh." I walked over to the bed and flopped backwards onto it, wondering how much sleep I'd get tonight. I seemed to sleep better in the car than I did in the comfort of a bed.
"Terry," Sam said, swivelling around in the chair by the table to look over at me.
"If you want to talk about anything, I mean, if you're having nightmares and you wanted to tell someone…" he trailed off, waving a hand in the air.
I propped myself up on my elbows and looked at him. "Thanks, for the thought, Sam, but I don't remember enough to talk about."
I could see he wanted very much to contradict what I'd just said, and I wondered what the heck Dean'd been telling him. It was more than a little aggravating considering neither of them were big on telling anyone what happened to them. Sam looked away, obviously realising he couldn't contradict what I'd said without calling me a liar. He must've known the feeling, between his reluctance to talk to his brother after Jess' death and Dean's flat refusal to talk about Hell when he'd gotten back, it wasn't like the pair of them hadn't had a load of practice.
"We care, okay?"
"I know you do," I said, shoving myself upright. "It's just that there isn't much there, a few images, that kind of thing. I wouldn't know how to talk about it."
"Dean said the nightmares are getting worse," Sam said uncomfortably. "More frequent."
He would know, I thought, a little bit alarmed by the fact that he was noticing.
"Not really, I don't think they are," I lied straight out to him. "How are you going with your memories?"
He gave me a sour look. "I talked about them, to Lauren, and to Dean."
"Oh yeah," I said, remembering when he'd told me that.
"And yeah, before you clam up again, it helped," he said. "You saw it, Terry, you know how hard it was to accept everything."
I looked down at my hands, linking them together on my lap. I did know. I also knew that a lot of the mess that had been a mix of memories and guilt and shame had come from what he'd done. It didn't apply here, I thought. I hadn't done anything but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently with the wrong sigil carved into my back, I added. It wasn't the choices I'd made that was keeping my mouth shut about it all. It was…I frowned a bit. I wasn't sure it was, except that even the thought of talking about it felt like contemplating taking my clothes and skin off and parading around in Times Square for everyone to stare. Not that they would, probably, I reconsidered the image…but you know what I mean.
"Sam, if there was anything that I could drag out that meant anything, I'd tell you," I said slowly.
I heard a gusting noise from the table and sneaked a look. He was looking at his laptop.
"Alright, creatures that take the heart only," he said, giving up and opening it.
Unfortunately, all my poo-poohing of the nightmare factor was kind of undone when I woke up several hours later, breathing as if I'd run a twenty-mile marathon and sweating enough to soak my side of the bed through completely.
"Terry, whoa," Dean said, grabbing my waving hands and wrapping his arms around me to keep us both safe from being randomly hit until the last of the images faded out from behind my eyes. "Come on, it's okay, nothing here, alright?"
"Okay," he said, letting go a little. "You're soaked."
I looked down and couldn't disagree. "I – I need a shower."
Normally, a statement like that would've gotten an instant and enthusiastic suggestion to join me, but not tonight. Dean got up, hunting around the room for alternative bedding, I think, as I walked into the bathroom, turned on the shower and got underneath it.
You're supposed to forget the pain of childbirth, I guess so that you keep having kids and the population doesn't decline to zero. That was kind of what was happening to me, I think. Most of the time, I would just forget it. It wasn't like a current or open or healing wound that demands attention all the time. But when my subconscious or unconscious or whatever the heck you called it had free rein, it came back. I honestly didn't see how talking about it would help. All I could do was describe what had gone on, in another place, and what would that do – exactly? Aside from make it more vivid and painful, I mean?
The worst thing about night terrors is that all that sweating chills you after a while and I turned the taps hotter and hotter, trying to get rid of it. When I thought I was warm enough, I got out and grabbed a towel, drying off and being quite careful to not look at the mirror, then walked back into the room.
Dean had remade the bed, a skill I wouldn't have automatically thought he'd have, but on thinking about it, I guess he'd had a lot of practice half-raising his brother through motels and hotels across the country. Kids get sick a lot more than adults.
Climbing into it, I was relieved when he opened his arms, offering the heat of his body and the safe feeling I was craving, without asking anything or even saying anything other than, "You alright?"
I nodded against his shoulder and closed my eyes, hoping that there would be no round two tonight.
Dean looked around at the crowded scene with a carefully neutral expression. The second attack had occurred in the early hours of this morning, and Sam had picked it up on the scanner, directing his brother through the U-M's buildings and grounds to the campus boundary where rows of small, cheap apartment blocks lined one side of the perimeter road.
"What the hell?"
There were students – or I guessed they were students, in every direction, surrounding the police vehicles and the long black wagon of the ME's office and being kept back from the open scene by several harassed-looking policemen trying to stretch yellow and black crime tape. I felt myself recoil slightly as I saw some of the students filming the scene, their video cameras and phones following every person at the back parking lot of the nearest apartment block.
"Stay here," Dean said, yanking at his shirt collar and tie as he got out of the car.
He didn't have to say it twice, I had no intention of going out there, not even to mingle with the crowd. The body was barely visible, a sheet-covered mound down the lot near the rear door of the building. A couple of people in bright vests were combing the taped-off area and setting little plastic markers down here and there.
Dean and Sam walked over to the nearest uniformed policeman and held up their identification badges, both looking confident and easy, probably because of their years of practise at lying through their teeth.
Through the partially opened window next to me, I heard one of the kids say, "Look, look, look. Starsky and Hutch." He laughed and the boy next to him shook his head.
"Rissoli and Isles," he corrected his friend.
I felt like hitting both in the back of their empty, air-filled heads.
The first one lifted his camera and panned down the lot, filming the brothers as they walked to the detective on the case and I saw a girl stop close to them.
"Who'd he say?" the boy asked. She shook her head and looked at me through the window. I looked away, slouching down a bit further in the seat.
The trio left a few minutes later, and I couldn't help but wonder if they'd even noticed that lying there in that lot, dead, with his heart torn out presumably, was a young man. From the avid looks and casual conversation of the other students standing around, it didn't seem all that likely.
The driver's door opened abruptly and Dean slid in, starting the car.
"Interviewing a witness," he said, glancing back to look through the rear window. "We'll follow the body, talk to the ME."
"Was it an animal attack?"
"Well," he hedged, easing the Impala out between the dwindling crowds of people. "Whatever it was, it didn't bother with a knife."
"Skinwalkers eat the hearts, don't they?" I frowned, trying to remember the details from episodes past.
"Usually straight out of the body," Dean said, provoking a stomach-turning image. "They don't get it to go."
"How's Sam getting back?"
"Getting a ride with one of the cops."
He seemed impatient and I stopped questioning him.
The parking lot at the back of the hospital was small and enclosed by buildings and I got out of the car and followed Dean across it to a half-glass door marked Medical Examiner, Washtenaw County. Inside it was cool and sterile-smelling, vinyl floors and tiled walls and that pocked-looking board that most buildings seem to use now as a false ceiling, inset light panels and smoke alarms installed periodically down the length of the hall.
It was the first time I'd been inside a morgue and the experience wasn't as creepy as I'd thought it would be but the smells were a bit much. It wasn't that they were strong either, quite the opposite. It was that with each wafting movement of air in the building, I was telling myself I was smelling dead bodies. Gah. Too much imagination, again.
"Doc in?" Dean asked an orderly, flashing his badge at him.
The orderly jerked his head back up the corridor. "First office on the right."
The medical examiner for the county was a man in his sixties, reading at his desk when we entered, a thick baloney and ketchup sandwich clutched in one hand. The sight alone made my stomach turn over and I spent the time in there looking at the floor as Dean asked his questions. I mean, come on, baloney and ketchup!
We came out into the open air and nearly ran into Sam.
"Not unless you wanna put an APB on Rocky Raccoon," Dean commented sourly. "We'll canvas the neighbours after we get something to eat."
Sam looked quizzically at me as we followed him to the car. I said, "The medical examiner said the ribcage was broken open, the heart torn out. No cutting tools used."
I stayed in the motel room when they left to go to interview the student body, typing in combination after combination of search queries, scanning the thousands of (mostly irrelevant) hits that were returned after each one. I hadn't actually bought that there would be much of real value on the internet when I'd been watching the show, the nature of the world wide web being what it is and all, but I have to admit it did offer a little more in this world than in mine.
The knock at the door almost sent me to the floor, being both unexpected and coming right in the middle of reading about a particularly gruesome series of murders in the late fifties. Sucking in a very deep breath, I scurried over to the room's door and warily put my eye to the peep hole. A man stood there, very well dressed in an old-fashioned and crisply tailored suit with a soft woollen overcoat over it and a fedora hat on his head. Definitely not a Jehovah's Witness and way too overdressed for anyone else I could think who might canvassing a cheap motel's rooms in the middle of the day.
There was a thick, black marker sitting on the table and I ran back for it, drawing two devil's traps, the first on the back of the door and the second on the floor just inside of it. Yeah, I really took this stuff seriously now and I was getting pretty darned fast at drawing the necessary doodles!
"Who is it?" I asked, leaving the door closed.
On the other side of the door, he cleared his throat. "My name is Dominic Wickfield," he said, his voice educated and smooth. "I believe that we are hunting the same thing."
Another hunter, I thought disbelievingly. Dressed like that?
"You got any identification?" It was a lame thing to say but I couldn't think of anything else. I was actually wishing I'd pretended not to be home.
Through the peep-hole I saw him reach into his suit coat, and pull out a card. I went back to the table and dragged a chair to the door, tilting it over with the back just under the door handle as I unlocked and eased the door open a fraction. The chain jingled and the edge of the clean, white card slid through the gap.
On one side, it had printed the name he'd given me and an address. On the other, embossed in silver foil, was the unicursal hexagram that marked the books that Lauren said were the works of the secret Order of the Men of Letters.
Well, now I had no idea what to do. If it was legit, and I couldn't think how anyone, not even Crowley's demons could scam this up in the time they'd had, then I really – we really – needed to talk to him. Not to mention that he might actually know what was killing people here.
On the other hand, if it was a ruse, and I fell for it, and something happened, Dean would probably kill me himself.
"What do you think we're hunting?"
"A rare beast, my dear," he said, his tone just short of patronising. "A very rare beast. A purebred line of werewolf."
I looked at the card, the floor and the door in quick succession. "Werewolves don't change without the full moon and the victims were killed in the waxing phases."
He chuckled. "Unfortunately, that's not entirely true. The purebred has abilities that far exceed a fifth or more generational lycanthrope by many factors."
Darn. Darn. Darn. Why do these things happen when the brothers aren't around, I asked myself futilely. I tried not to think about regretting it, and opened the door, moving the chair back.
"May I come in?" he asked. Without the distortions of the fish-eye lens of the peep-hole, he looked to be in his mid-thirties, maybe, dark hair tidily cut. Whiskey-brown eyes met mine in polite query and I nodded ungraciously, stepping back and opening the door wider to let him through.
He crossed the salt line and the traps without a problem and looked around the room, his expression suggesting that he smelled something bad.
"Your digs are very discreet," he told me and I felt my mouth turn down.
"Our digs are what we can afford."
"Coffee?" I closed the door, locked it and pushed the line of salt back against the bottom edge. There was no way we were getting our deposit back for this mess now anyway.
"Yes, thank you." He was taking off his overcoat as I walked to the tiny kitchen counter and he hung over the arm of the sofa. "You haven't heard of the purebred variation before?"
"I'm not a hunter," I told him, spooning grounds into the coffee maker and filling it with water.
"Oh, are you studying for the Order?"
"No," I told him, turning back. "I only recently heard of the Order. We've been looking for you guys."
"Looking for us?" he asked. "Why?"
"It's a long story," I said, waving a hand at the table. "So what's up with these purebreds?"
It was almost two hours later when I heard the rumble of the Impala coming into the motel's lot and I saw Dominic twitch uncomfortably as he did too.
"These are the Hunters?" he asked me and I nodded, a bit suspicious when I saw he was nervous.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing," he said, a bit too airily, if you know what I mean. "I haven't had much to do with Hunters, that's all." He looked at the door. "Not my end of the playing field."
"Well, they won't bite," I said, adding 'much' to myself.
The door opened and Dean's gun was in his hand before he'd even crossed the threshold, his gaze touching on me and focussing on Dominic.
"The hell is this?" he demanded, taking a long stride into the room and closer to the table. "Terry, move."
"Dean, wait a minute," I started to say, looking nervously at Sam who came in behind his brother and closed the door. Sam gave me a tiny shake of the head.
"Who are you?" he asked the man, taking another step closer.
"Gentlemen, my name is Dominic Wickfield," Dominic said, his eyes fixed on the end of the barrel. "I'm a Legacy of the Order of the Men of Letters."
"Dean –" Sam moved up beside his brother. "That's the Order Lauren's looking for."
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"He came to tell us about the werewolf that's hunting here," I said from the bathroom door. "He's not a demon, angel or monster."
I knew he'd seen the devil's trap when he'd come in. He doesn't miss anything in his surroundings, no matter what the aggravation. The uncocking of the hammer of his gun was very loud in the silence of the room.
"It's not a werewolf," Dean asserted. "Moon wasn't full on the first two attacks."
Dominic swallowed a couple of times, and picked up his cold cup of coffee, possibly needing to wash out the dryness in his mouth and throat. I could've used something for that too.
"It is," he said. "But it's a rare form."
The gun stayed in his hand as he sat down at the table.
"There's no need for firearms, Mr –?" Dominic said, staring down at it.
Dean looked at his brother, and Sam cleared his throat. "Winchester, that's my brother, Dean. I'm Sam."
"Yeah," Dean said, scowling at him, his grip tightening on the gun. "Really. Why?"
"Oh, it's just that – uh, your family was in the Kansas branch for a long time," Dominic explained hurriedly. "And of course, the exploits of the Winchesters have made very exciting reading in the last few years."
I could see that both of them were thinking of Chuck's books, and I walked to the table. "Apparently, the – um – Men of Letters are kind of scholars," I told the brothers. "They study the supernatural and collect knowledge and lore about it."
"That so?" Dean seemed unimpressed.
"It is, indeed, so," Dominic said. "The lycanthrope you are hunting, in this instance, is a purebred. One bitten within four generations of the first of Eve's children. It can transform by will alone, at any phase of the moon. And it can control its hunger, even live off animals if it needs to."
Sam sat down at the table and looked at Dean. "Explains the first two kills."
"The moon is full, and the purebred has bitten and failed to kill," Wickfield continued. "The new werewolf probably doesn't know anything about what's happening to it."
"Another kid died last night," Dean said flatly. "How do we find it?"
I found out why Dean'd been so prickly and predatory when they'd come in after Wickfield had left.
"Terry," Sam said, drawing me into the kitchenette as Dean lifted his gear bag onto the bed and looked for silver bullets. "We ran into a demon."
"Oh?" I said inanely, my brain frantically scrambling in circles to come up with something to deflect the course of the conversation I could see he was ready to have.
He gave me an impatient look. "Had a lot to say about Crowley and you." He jerked his head toward his brother, whose shoulders were still stiff with tension. "He knows. Okay?"
"You too, I guess," I said, looking at the floor at our feet.
"You should've told us, or Dean at least," Sam said. "We would've understood."
I shook my head. I knew they'd have understood. "You remember how you saw me, back – um – after the whole Titanic thing, Sam?"
He nodded, a little puzzled.
"I wanted to be like that," I admitted in a low voice. "And I'm not. I'm not…any of those things."
"You are," he contradicted me gently. "Maybe you don't see that, but, uh, we kind of like you the way you are, you know."
"Sam, you ready?" Dean turned to look at us, and Sam walked past me.
"Stay here," Dean said to me, his face expressionless. "Don't let anyone in. At all."
I sighed as I nodded meekly. It hadn't been a mistake to let Dominic in, and he knew it, but he was too pissed at the moment to acknowledge that.
The door closed behind them, and I put the chain on and pushed the salt line back and then went to the bed and flopped back onto it. Lauren was going to be spitting that she hadn't met the guy, but we had a contact now, at least. And she would have a lot more luck tracking them down with an address and phone number.
It appeared that the Winchesters had a connection with the society dating back a long way. Their grandfather had been about to be initiated when he'd disappeared, the whole Kansas branch wiped out, by a demon, Wickfield had said. I rolled onto my stomach and wondered if Dean and Sam would want to search them out, discover their history. More knowledge couldn't be a bad thing, not with Crowley in possession of the tablet.
Darn, it was something I'd wanted to ask the guy, what the Order knew about the tablets and what might be on them. It seemed like a good bet that they were expressly designed to help humans wipe out – or at least, deal – with Heaven and Hell. But how, exactly?
He was coming back, in the morning, he'd said. With documents verifying what he'd told the brothers. I reached out for my notebook and added the question, hoping it would help me remember it for that conversation.
What I'd told Sam was a very short version of the truth, I guess. Since I'd gotten back from my own world, I'd wanted to be different. You know, braver, more together, more like the woman Sam had told me about. Under Crowley's less-than-gentle persuasive techniques, I'd realised that I wasn't, and never could be that person. I cry at sad movies. I cry when I stub my darned toe, sometimes. I'm not brave and I'm not strong and if Crowley had been after information instead of trying to figure out how to get hold of the supposed 'power' I had, I'm sure I'd have spilled whatever he wanted to know almost immediately.
It's not a great thing, to see yourself as you really are, all the flaws, the pettiness that I guess most everyone has in small bursts, the mistakes and the bad choices I'd made in my relatively short life and the weaknesses, laid out end to end and not be able to justify them or tell myself it was just a bad day. Since I'd found myself in Vancouver, I couldn't stop remembering how unexceptional I really was. I didn't want to tell anyone else that.
I was half-asleep on the bed when they got back, Sam's voice strident.
"Dean, you sure you're okay?"
"Dammit, Sammy, if you ask me that one more time –" Dean growled, dumping his bag by the table and going to the fridge.
"Wha' happened?" I asked Sam, looking blearily from him to Dean.
"He let the monster go," Sam said shortly, following Dean to the fridge and taking the beer handed to him without looking at it. "I mean, it's just not like –"
"Sam, one more word and I'll shoot you, then go an' hunt her down," Dean warned his brother as he opened the bottle and let half of it run down his throat. "Let it go."
"But you don't do that –"
"Out," Dean said, striding back to the door and throwing it open. "Now. See you in the morning."
"But…" Sam trailed off as he carried his beer out of the room.
"What happened?" I asked Dean again and he shook his head, dropping into the small armchair and tipping his head and closing his eyes.
"A mess," he said. "That's what happened."
I got up and went to the bathroom, splashing cold water on my face to get a bit more awake, finger-combing my hair, waiting for him to assemble the events of the afternoon in his head for himself.
It was dark out, but not late and my stomach rumbled a little, reminding me that I hadn't had lunch either.
Dean was staring into the middle distance when I returned to the main room, and I sat down on the sofa opposite him, just raising one eyebrow when his gaze refocussed and he looked at me.
"The purebred was a professor," he said, looking down at the bottle in his hand, his expression almost surprised at the sight of it. "Same as what that dude said. He took the first two vics and bit a kid but let him go. The kid killed the next vic and then it got all messed up with the kid's room-mate and his girlfriend."
"Messed up?" I couldn't quite get what he meant by that…and how it fit with Sam's disbelief when they'd gotten in.
"Uh, well, the first kid bitten, bit his room-mate who had a crush on the girl," he said, then shook his head, tipping up the bottle and swallowing half of it down. "A mess. The whole thing was on video and she was long gone by the time we got there and saw it."
"But you didn't chase her?"
"No," he agreed absently, finishing the bottle and getting up. "I –"
He stopped talking for a minute, leaning against the counter and looking out the window. "No, she killed the second kid, the room-mate. She said she knew we weren't FBI. I don't think she knew what we were, but she knew we were looking for them. She said she wouldn't kill again."
I understood why Sam had been so doubtful of the decision. I don't think I'd ever seen him make a conscious decision to let a monster go, without being convinced of it first by his brother. He seemed about to say something else, then he turned back to the room.
"I'm starving, you want something to eat?" he asked, not looking at me as he collected keys, coat and phone from the table.
"Yeah, I'm hungry too."
I nodded and watched him go out. The elephant was standing there, large as life and twice as ugly, and I wondered why he hadn't mentioned the demon.
It was about midnight, and dinner, the post-mortem of the job with Sam, an hour's worth of mindless tv and several attempts to get to sleep had come and gone when I heard Dean's breathing change in the dark room.
He was lying on the bed, but far away, right over on his side. I hadn't been sure what to do about that, so I'd stayed on my side, lying on my side and listening in the dark. Cowardly, huh?
I felt the mattress lift as he got up, turning my head a bit to see him cross to the window, lift an edge of the curtain and look out. Silhouetted against the lights in the parking lot, the motel's red Vacancy sign outlined his profile.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, his voice soft but perfectly understandable. And obviously fully aware that I wasn't sleeping any more than he was.
"I couldn't make it come out," I said, sitting up and leaning back against the headboard.
He stayed by the window and I couldn't see his expression, couldn't even tell from the way he leaned against the glass what he was thinking or feeling. He didn't say anything for a long time, then he turned and sat on the arm of the sofa, still by the window, head bowed.
"Hell's time is different," he said. "You knew that?"
"At first, when I was down there, I kept trying to deal, you know?" he said. There was a soft snort from him, not one that sounded like he was laughing. "I don't know why. There was no one there to see if I kept it all together or if I fell apart, but I tried to…uh, I tried not to fall apart."
I started shivering, knowing exactly what he meant by that. The old Trek line snaked through my thoughts – resistance is futile – and Crowley had certainly given weight to that melodramatic old saw.
"After awhile I didn't know how long I'd been down there," he continued quietly. "I couldn't remember anything except how it felt. How bad it all felt."
"Alastair was there, all the time." He shifted a little, his head turning a bit further away. "I didn't know why then, he told me about the first Seal later, but every minute, it felt like there was less and less of me, and more and more like something had…"
I heard his deeply indrawn breath. "Anyway…after a while, I couldn't tell what was up and what was down and…I couldn't remember why I was there, or who I was, or even anyone I'd ever cared about."
"I gave up and I said 'yes' and I got off."
I saw him turn his head, to the room, to the bed maybe. I don't know if he could see me, all hunched up against the pillows, my arms wrapped around my knees as I watched him.
"It felt – it still feels – like I got smashed into a million pieces, Terry," he said, his voice low and deep and almost toneless. "I couldn't find all the pieces and I don't think I ever will. Some things just got lost and…"
"Yeah," I said as I tucked my face into my arms. That's what it felt like. No one had been trying to break me, not who I was or how I thought of myself, but it'd been one of the side-effects of being immersed in the demon's pain and control anyway.
"All those years," he said. "I thought I was…evil. I thought I'd…changed."
I lifted my head to look at him. "But you hadn't, not really."
"No," he said, his breath escaping in a long sigh. "No, I was just…bent. Couldn't see the things that I'd, uh, liked, you know, about myself…"
It was something I'd longed for him to realise, when I'd been watching the show. Something I'd wished I could tell him. When he'd been raised by Cas, nearly all the sass had been burned out of him, the cockiness of the young man who'd been dragged down by hellhounds had been wiped out. But not the human part. Not the man who would die for anyone under his protection. Not the man who, no matter how tired and heart-sick he was, would just keep on fighting.
I thought about that. For all I could see that I was never going to be a heroine in the classic sense – and in my mind's eye that was strong, brave, competent, quick-witted, able to drop a zinger even in the middle of torture and always looking like a million dollars no matter how much blood and dirt there was – for all that I could see my issues and insecurities and doubts and weaknesses in blazing neon, nothing that Crowley had done had changed who I was, not really. He'd made me a bit more afraid, I thought, looking over my feelings carefully. But I'd been pretty much of a scaredy cat to begin with so it wasn't that noticeable.
"The thing is, Terry," he continued, a bit more hesitantly. "When I got back, Sam and me, there was a lot of stuff we didn't – it wasn't clear what was going on. I kept secrets from him and he was – he was keeping them from me – and it didn't seem like we'd ever – I'd ever find that..." he trailed off but I could fill in the blanks for what he couldn't say aloud.
Sam had been drinking Ruby's blood and keeping it a secret, I remembered. Dean had spent most of the time trying to convince himself that it was all good between them, even when he was pretty sure at gut level that it wasn't and possibly never would be again.
"I can't take any more lies – from anyone," he said, and for the first time, he sounded unsure of himself.
And you know, I'd known that about him, from the very first season. He needed someone to trust, and even with all the improvements in his relationship with his brother, those original foundations of family and trust were still not back. Not firm. I felt a huge wash of shame flood through me.
"Did you mean what you said?"
He didn't have to specify what he was talking about. I nodded. "Yes, I meant it."
"Then no more lies, okay?" he said, the plea right there out in the open. "Whatever it is, if it's the truth, I can take it – but lies…lies just eat at me."
"I promise," I told him, tears squeezing through my lashes as I tried to see it from his perspective, the way it would've looked to him. He had a strong sense of right and wrong, maybe stronger than anyone I'd ever known, in real life in my own world or anywhere else. Knowing he was being lied to…I swallowed against the tightness in my throat and wished I'd been able to see that before I started.
He got up and walked back to the bed, sitting down on the edge. In the very dim light that came between the edges of the curtain, I could make out the curve of brow and cheekbone against the darkness of the room.
"How did you…um…how did you find those…pieces…that you liked?" I asked, a bit nervously. I wasn't sure how much damage I'd really done between us. He wasn't moving closer, although he had to have heard the thickness in my voice.
There was a soft exhale, and then he said, "Oh, there was this chick," he said, very lightly. "Told me she loved me so much she couldn't breathe from it."
I held my breath at that point.
"Figured there must be some things that were alright," he continued, and he did move closer then, the mattress dipping under his weight as he shifted to the centre. "If she could feel like that."
"Don't," he said, shaking his head, his voice dropping to a whisper. "Don't say you're sorry…I know how it is, Terry, just tell me it won't happen again."
"No, never again."
"Alright." He was close enough now that I could feel his breath against my skin. "Say it out loud, once. Get it out of your head."
I looked away. "You won't like it."
The snort from behind me had about the same level of non-amusement as the previous one. "So far, I'm batting zero for a thousand on what I'm not liking," he told me, his tone bitter. "But if you don't face it, at least once, it'll just stay in there and you'll never be free of it."
I pondered that. He had the experience to know, I thought uneasily. I drew in a deep breath and wondered where to start.
"I think it was Hell," I said, closing my eyes.
I probably talked for about an hour. Halfway through, I could feel the tension radiating from him and I stopped. He made a very deliberate attempt to shed it, inching closer and putting his arms around me. Neither of us felt like sleeping afterwards and there was a new feeling between us, anger and other emotions that have no place between two people but sometimes are there anyway. Somehow, as we took each other, all of that disappeared. I don't know how it worked. Only that later, near dawn, when sleep seemed like a much more likely prospect, I lay next to him and thought that we'd gotten rid of the last lingering doubts, or uncertainties, or worries or whatever you wanted to call them, about each other.
Dominic turned up, as promised, in the morning. He looked, if anything, more dapper and perfectly coiffed than he had the day before, and I could feel Dean's hackles rising slightly as he opened the door to the room and stepped back to let the man enter.
I poured a coffee for him as he sat at the table next to Sam and set it down on the table.
"I was able to contact my colleagues," he said, picking up the cup and sipping from it. I thought he might've wanted to lift his pinky up in the air, but decided against it in the face of the two men sitting to either side of him, neither of whom looked like they were in the mood for anything but business and only business. "They gave me leave to tell you about the history of the Order and our purposes, since, in the usual course of events, you both would have become Legacies in your own right."
"What is a Legacy?" Sam asked him, partly to divert his brother's impatience, I think. "And why us?"
"A Legacy is a fully initiated member of the Men of Letters, a scholar of the study of the supernatural," Dominic said, a touch too self-importantly for me to feel comfortable. I wondered if all the Legacies of the Order felt the same way, or projected that air of being superior to the rest of humanity. Remembering Lauren's recollections of the visits they'd paid to her family, I doubted they could all be this pompous.
"The Men of Letters was chartered more than nine hundred years ago," he continued, looking from one brother to the other. "It was formed in a time when most of the population believed and had encounters with the shadow world quite frequently, and the Church was just beginning to flex its muscle so far as teaching and ruling was concerned. Begun in secret, a group of men collected everything they could find on the mythology that was already starting to surround many of the creatures in the world, on the artefacts and items that had been used by heroes and demi-gods and sorcerers to work magic in our world –"
"Yeah," Dean interrupted. "So you're librarians."
Dominic didn't seem to take offence at the underlying derision. "We are, at the most basic level, just that."
"At first, back in those days, the division between the Legacies of the Order and the Hunters and the Collectors was a blurred one," he continued. "It was only after the sixteenth century that the lines were more clearly drawn, and the Legacies were left to study the information brought to them, in the safety of their fortresses."
"Fortresses?" Sam asked dubiously.
"As it is now, the Order has six branches," Wickfield told them. "There is one other in this country, the rest are on the other continents. They are located close to the fields they specialise in, you see?"
"What happened to the Kansas cell?" Dean asked.
"We're not entirely sure of that ourselves," the Legacy admitted unwillingly.
"But that was the one our – uh – grandfather was in, right?" Sam questioned.
"That's correct," Dominic said. "Your grandfather, Henry Winchester, son of Franklin Winchester, who was son of Clarence Winchester, was almost at Initiate level when their location was attacked."
"By a demon," Dean said flatly.
"By a Knight of Hell," Dominic corrected, picking up his cup again. "The attack was covered up as a fire, but the bodies weren't burned." He waved his hand at Sam's laptop, sitting to one side of the table. "Look it up if you don't believe me."
Sam opened the laptop, and brought up the search screen. "A name?"
"David Ackers," Dominic told him clearly. Sam typed it in.
"August 12, 1958. A tragic fire at a gentlemen's club. Uh, 242 Gaines Street, Selina, Kansas. Larry Ganem, David Ackers, Ted Bowen, and Albert Magnus – all deceased," he read from the article that came up, glancing at Dean.
"That was no fire," Wickfield said. "Albert Magnus."
"Catchy handle." Dean looked at him blandly.
"No, no, it's an alias," Wickfield said distractedly. "We use it when we need to travel incognito."
"So not a real person," Sam extrapolated. "You said there five Legacies in the building."
"I can't believe no one looked at this," Dominic said, his perfect composure gone as he looked at the screen. I didn't think he was listening to Sam. "I have to get back to Boston."
"No, wait a minute," Dean said, half-rising as Dominic pushed his chair out and got up. "You're not going anywhere until we get some answers."
"You don't understand," Wickfield said, looking at him. "We didn't get this report, one of the Legacies may still be alive, and we must find him."
"Yeah, you and us both," Dean argued. "What happened to Henry?"
"We don't know. He wasn't there when we came to bury the dead and shut down the bunker. We never saw or heard from him again."
"What makes you so sure that it was a demon, a-a-Knight of Hell?" Sam demanded. "If no one knows what really happened?"
"Ackers and Ganem were working with a priest," Dominic said. "In tandem with an affiliated Hunter called Josie Sands. Two days before Henry's initiation, we received word that Josie Sands had just killed two people. Her record was impeccable. She would not have done that. We believe that was when she was possessed by a Knight named Abaddon who had been instructed by Lucifer to destroy the Order completely. She just started with the Kansas branch."
He backed away from the table. "Look, I understand that this is all news to you, and no doubt quite a lot to take in, but my being will not enable your more speedy comprehension and I must return to my superiors and let them know about this." He looked at Dean. "You have a way to contact me, and I will find you and continue this conversation, but not now."
Dean's eyes were on him, narrowed and calculating the advantages and disadvantages of keeping him here or letting him go. Finally, he nodded and I saw Sam sag a little in his chair, relieved that the confrontation wasn't going to occur.
"You better stay in touch," Dean said softly to Wickfield. "Or we'll be looking for you."
I watched as Dominic smiled and gulped at the same time, reaching behind him for the door handle, fumbling with it for a moment and then extracting himself from the room.
Dean turned to look at Sam. "You ready to go?"
Sam nodded. "The bug's in his coat," he said and I felt my eyes widen comically.
"You're tracking him?"
Dean turned to me and grinned, delight in his voice. "Sam's idea."
We packed up in short order and got in the car, all of us feeling relieved as Dean turned west and we headed for the cabin.
Bobby dished out the gloopy-looking stew into the bowls I was holding for him.
"You should've told us, Therese," he said, under his breath.
"I know," I answered, a bit shortly. "I should've."
"You gunna let Lauren do that hypnosis crap on you now?"
I shook my head. "I remember it and I told Dean. And that was enough."
"Nothin' we can use about what Crowley's doing?" he asked, not surprisingly.
"No, he was trying to find a way to use my soul," I said. "He didn't even mention the tablets or anything else."
He let it go as I turned away and carried the bowls to the table, setting them down in front of the two men and half-angel sitting there.
"He's been in Boston for the last three days," Sam said, glancing at the laptop's screen. "But we can't get pinpoint a location."
"Warding," Bobby offered through a mouthful of food. "Around their secret headquarters."
"That seems most likely," Lauren agreed. "I found four references to Abaddon, and one to Knights of Hell in my family's archives. A Fallen Angel, one of Lucifer's cadre. Very powerful."
"Like Azazel?" Sam asked, picking up a thick hunk of bread from the tray in the centre of the table.
"Worse." She shrugged.
"Good times," Dean remarked. "Any luck on the four Legacies who bought it?"
"Maybe, the bodies of the three and Albert Magnus were interred in Benoit," she said. "If Magnus was an alias, maybe there's something other than a body in that grave."
"Grave-digging," Dean sighed. "Awesome."
"How long to Benoit?" Sam looked at him.
"About eighteen hours," he said. "Crap, not even a day's break between?"
"Do we have time to take a break?"
"No," Bobby answered for Dean. "You boys are involved with this and the sooner we figure it out, the better it'll be."
"We?" Dean looked across at the old man.
"We're at a dead end with the tablets, no trace of Kevin, nothing from the King of Hell in the last four weeks," Bobby said reasonably, waving his bread for emphasis. "Might as well give you a hand."
"Come here, and help me forget that we're getting back in the car and doing another two days of driving in eight hours," Dean said loudly from the bed as I rummaged through the contents of my bag.
He'd been right. I hated to admit it but I hadn't had a nightmare about Hell since I'd told him. Of course, I wasn't about to let him know he'd been right, but I was glad that he had. Closing my eyes and thinking about it, I was glad to be here. Glad to be right here, in this room, listening to the impatient sounds he was making.
Looking down at the dispenser pack in my hands, I suddenly realised that all the small pills it'd contained were gone. When was the last time I'd taken one? I couldn't remember. Days ago? Weeks ago? With everything that'd happened in the last couple of weeks, had I even remembered them when I'd gotten back?
I was staring at the pack in a cotton-wool shroud of disbelief when he came up behind me and I jumped when his hands settled on my shoulders.
"What's wrong?" he asked, his expression changing instantly to concern.
No more lies, I'd promised. I laughed nervously, looking back down at the pack.
"Uh, funny thing," I said. "Well not so much funny as…um…"
End of Crossing Over.
Author's Note: Terry's story is continued in Crossing Wires, where Dean, Sam, Bobby, Lauren and Terry discover a whole other world of supernatural help and Crowley steps up his search for the tablets and all sorts of other things happen to confuse, test, terrify and bemuse our heroes. I hope you enjoyed this story! I had a great deal of fun writing it, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next! By the way, just because the story's completed doesn't mean that I don't want to hear what you thought of it! If you enjoyed this tale, let me know, writers crave feedback!