I'm sorry about the really long wait, cupcakes.
Love you to crumbs cupcakes!
PS~ ANY THOUGHTS OR REVIEWS OR IDEAS WILL BE SO SO SO APPRECIATED!
"Alright Sammy-boy...Only one more time, ok? My arm's gettin' tired," I chuckled, winding my arm back in a few practice motions. Sammy, the massive black, white and red Bernese Mountain Dog I'd found in Blonde-Me's apartment, bounced around happily and wagged his tail.
"Ok then...Fetch!" I half grunted as I launched the blue tennis ball through the air. Sammy barked happily and galloped after the ball in the grass. His big head bobbed up and down, ears flying around as he went after the ball.
I'd left Connecticut a few days ago, with my new-but-not-new puppy, who wasn't really a puppy any more, sitting shotgun. We were in a large, green park in the middle of some mid-western state, Ohio, maybe, for Sammy to get his exercise. He was good in the car, but he chewed on his favorite bone when he was anxious.
As I watched Sammy run through the park, I smiled; it was beautiful. The sun was just starting to set, and the grass seemed to glow. I bit the inside of my cheek when I thought a particular thought; I wish Sam was here. Over the last week or so, I'd been trying to not think about him too much, but damn it that gentle giant with fantastic hair had a way of weasel int back into my head.
I spun around, instantly bringing a hand up to my head to push the curls away from my face. When my vision was unobscured, I was looking at a rather...pleasant sight.
Tall. Green eyes. Reddish hair. Killer kicks. A jawline that could cut glass. Overall, not too shabby.
"Hey," I said back, a polite and equally confused look on my face. "Er...Should I know you, or something? Or are you just really forward?" I half-laughed.
The man chuckled. "Well, which one gets me your number? And please note, 'attractive stalker' is also a title I'm willing to accept."
I smiled a little. "Flattered, so thank you. Taken, so goodbye!" I winked at the guy, spun on a heel and brought a hand to my lips. After one sharp whistle, Sammy came running back to me, the blue tennis ball in his mouth.
"Will I see you around here again?" The guy called to me.
"Doubt it!" I yelled back, smiling down at Sammy, who happily trotted next to me.
Once in the parking lot, I unlocked the passenger's door and gave my intelligent dog the hand signal to jump up onto the worn seat. I knelt down, one knee on the asphalt, to attach Sammy's collar to the puppy-seatbelt thing I picked up somewhere in Pennsylvania. I may forget my seatbelt half the time, but I'll be damned if my dog is going to die 'cause he'd not buckled in.
I glanced up briefly, then looked up again; something held my gaze. Through the driver's side window, I saw a man on the other side of the parking lot. He just stood there, letting the wind flap his tan coat around. All we did was stare at each other for a good seven seconds.
"Ah!" I yelped suddenly, curling in on myself just enough and slamming my hand to my left side. My palm pressed to my ribcage and my fingers dug into my flesh. Breathing through my teeth, I looked back to where tan-coat-man was standing. H tilted his head to one side, and for some reason, the movement really pissed me off.
With the shooting pain going down my left side, I used the open car door to get myself to my feet. I looked at tan-coat-man over the top of Bobby's Cougar, and glared at him through the curls that fell in my face. He just stared back at me.
A large SUV pulled out of its parking spot, breaking our staring contest for less than a second. When the big-ass car was gone, so was tan-coat-man. I looked around a few times, whipping my head to stare around the parking lot, but didn't see him anywhere.
Sammy's wet nose pressed against my leg through a hole that had ripped and worn right through my jeans. He made some sad whimpers, and pawed gently at my knee when I didn't move. I numbly raised my hand to rest in the middle of his warm, large head. He nuzzled into it.
"Hey boy...It's cool, Sam-Sam..." I said softly, finally reacting to him. I scratched his silky ears, and felt my way to the purple nylon collar around his neck. I tugged gently on it, pulling him from the car.
"C'mon Sammy...You're taking the back seat for a while," I mumbled, opening the back door. The Berner happily jumped in, and made himself at home. After his tail was clear, I shut the door.
Holding onto the car for support, I fell into the passenger's seat and pulled the door shut. I wanted to slide into the driver's seat, but I didn't make it that far. I keeled over; my face pressed into the material of the driver's seat as both my hands pressed and dug into my ribs. I bit down on my lip so hard I tasted blood. I was only seconds away from jabbing the knife on my belt into my calf just to focus on something different.
Just like that, it was gone.
Inhaling deeply, I held my eyes open wide, staring blankly at the back of the seat.
I'd felt pain in that area a few more times than I'd like to remember, but it was never like this. In the past, it was usually a painful tightness, like a sore muscle or something. This was like someone was pressing a white-hot brand to my side.
Breathing heavily, I turned so I was on my back on the seats. I pushed a hand up the bottom of my t-shirt, and felt my ribs for the thick scar that had graced my skin too many times.
"Trippy," I breathed out when my fingers brushed over nothing but plain, average skin.
I pushed myself up, and rubbed my neck; the slouched position hadn't been exactly kind to my neck. I swung a hand over the back of the seats, and felt through the air until Sammy's head was against my palm. I scratched his ears and let him lick my wrist while I turned on the car and peeled out of the parking lot at fifty-five miles per hour.
Why I always dreamed I was in the desert was beyond me; I had no idea, and frankly, I didn't care too much.
I tied my dark curls up in a ponytail, getting them off my neck. Then, I started walking. Nothing ever came easy in my dreams. Well, unless they were a particular kind of dream; Sam and I together, and doing something that didn't exactly require instructions. Most of the time, anyway.
Sand got in my Converse, and the sun beat down on my head mercilessly. I took off my hoodie, and let it drag behind me in the sand. I paused briefly and wiped sweat off my face. The heavy drops that came down my face got in my eyes and stung. Rubbing didn't make them feel any better; sand got in my eyes. When my hands went back to my sides, I squinted and looked around. Something usually happened by now, and the fact that nothing had was honestly starting to freak me out.
"Aelia?" I yelled, looking around the sand dunes. "Hey! Aelia? Anybody? Hel-loooooo! Somebody gonna answer me?"
As I yelled, I turned in a slow circle. I stopped when a quickly approaching speck appeared on the horizon. I brought a hand up to shield my eyes from the sun. "What the hell...?" I breathed out, squinting more.
My eyes abruptly widened, and I took off running. My sweatshirt was left behind in the sand as I hoofed it away from the funnel-shaped pillar of fire and clouds that was gaining on me. They looked like heavy, dark storm clouds swirling around sparking, uncontrollable fire. It made a loud roaring sound as it got closer to me; the heat from the fire seared into my back while the sun beat down on the rest of me.
My harsh breathing was bringing in dry air and sand. I'd made good on my promise to myself and started working out (some push-ups, crunches and other at-home stuff every day, and a good, hard run four times a week), but that was pretty useless now when I had conditions a triathlete would shy away from. Just when I wasn't sure how much more I could take, I saw something. In the streaky side of a sand dune, between the shades of brown, tan and reddish-orange, was a line of purple sand. Blended naturally into the side of the due was a bright, rich, vibrant purple. It may have just been a fluke, but with my messed up head, every little abnormality could mean a way back to a sane dream. Sliding in the sand from the sharp turn I took, I began to follow the purple streak of sand.
I let out a sharp scream when something flew past my ear. It lodged itself into the sand in front of me, and I got just a good enough look at it to push myself faster; it was a damn arrow. You know, the things the Native Americans shot at the cowboys? I was being chased by a fire and storm cloud tornado that shot arrows.
Arrows began to pierce the air around me, and bury themselves in the sand. My mind was in overdrive; I knew throwing a few zigs and zags into my running would make it harder for the fire-cloud-thing to hit me, but there was just too much. All I could do was follow the purple sand. It widened into the width of a sidewalk, which was a good thing, because the weird-ass tornado was kicking up all kinds of sand and practically blinding me. Now my lungs were burning, my throat and nose were burning, my eyes were burning, and all my exposed skin stung from having sand whipped at it.
I screamed again when an arrow grazed my arm. Blood came from the open gash; the thick liquid soothed the harsh stinging on my arm below the cut as it dripped down, but the gash itself got filled with sand and stung like a mother.
Then I saw it.
If I wasn't so out of breath I would have laughed. The streak of purple sand led to the side of a large sand dune. Going against the normal patterns in the sand, the radiant purple went up the side, and surrounded the wooden door built into the side of the sand.
It wasn't exactly easy to stop in sand; I ended up colliding with the door and cracking my nose on it. The cloud-fire-arrow-shooting tornado was roaring closer as I struggled to get the door open. It swung open unexpectedly, and I smacked myself in the face again.
I've never gone through a door so fast in my life. I threw myself in, and slammed the door shut as hard as I could. When I was sure I hadn't been followed, I looked around for a second. When I saw nothing as a threat, I succumbed to the various pains in my body.
Specifically, the piercing pain in my left side. A painful anguished scream left my lips as I collapsed to my knees, hands grabbing at my side. Breathing through my teeth, I looked down.
Blood as soaking my hands and t-shirt.
Cautiously, I moved my shaking hands to see the damage.
I thought I was going to puke.
An arrow had lodged itself in my ribs, a little more than five inches of it stuck out.
I grabbed the end of the arrow, and, with painful gasps, whimpers and swears, began to pull it from my torso. I know you're supposed to leave crap like that in, to stop the bleeding, I think, but if I die in my dreams, I woke up, right?
The arrow didn't seem to have an end. I kept pulling and pulling until finally I felt the pull of the sharpened end on the wrong side of my skin. I pulled just a little harder, and sighed in relief when it came out.
In the dim light of wherever the hell I was, I pressed one hand to the bloody hole in my side and the other held the arrow. It was cold; it was a freakin' metal arrow. There were groves dug into the smooth body of the arrow, and my thumb slid over them from the slick coating of blood. I squinted to try to see what the markings were, but with the combination of dim light and massive blood loss, I felt my head loll back as I passed out.
12 Hours Later
I scrolled down the webpage with one hand, and reached under the metal, outdoor bistro table with the other. Sammy greedily ate the shred of turkey from my palm; had had fallen out of my, now finished, sandwich. Once I wiped my slobbery palm on my pant leg, my full attention went back to the website up on my screen.
The laptop I was using was new. I'd sprung for it a few hours earlier, buying it with money gained by selling a lump of gold I'd created using a spell from my grimoire. When Dean learned about that spell, he asked why I didn't use it all the time. It was a mentally draining spell that used a large amount of precious ingredients, including 222 drops of blood from a virgin boy born during a blue moon (I had to break into a blood bank to get that). I'd gotten used to using Sam's laptop for research, but since the only Sam I had with me was nuzzling my legs under the table and lacked opposable thumbs, I needed my own gear.
The keys were still shiny, the outside was still smooth, and the large screen wasn't helping me decipher my dream at all. The tiny, spiral bound pocket notebook I'd bought a few counties back at a gas station held everything I'd gathered on dream symbolism.
desert : abandonment, loneliness/isolation
arrows : setting/reaching goals or targets
fire : being consumed by problems, passion or anger
door : new opportunities
I thought the massive programs university grunts set up for the public to decipher dreams were supposed to be helpful. Clearly, I was wrong.
A groan escaped my lips as I tilted my head back in frustration. Sammy nuzzled his head under my hand, making me smile. One of my hands scratched Sammy's silky ears, and the other pressed to my left side. There had been a dull, achy burn in my ribs since I woke up from my weird-ass dream. That wasn't the only development with my scared ribs since I woke up; there were some new appearances.
Also since I woke up, I'd been chasing a persistent, errant thought out of my head; Sam. Nothing more elaborate that, just Sam and everything about him. Just...Sam.
"What'd'ya think, boy?" I asked Sammy, who;d closed his eyes due to my ear-scratching. "Think I've punished the Winchesters enough?"
"Yeah..." I sighed, closing my laptop. "Yeah, I think it's time I get back to my human Sam too."
One call to Bobby and a seven hour drive later, I was in the same county as Sam and Dean. They had a particularly persistent ghoul in their sights, and had stopped leaving me countless calls and texts. A good few hours were spent tracking down the to 'FBI agents,' and once I had, I burned rubber getting to the farm on the outskirts of town.
With my sawed off by my side, and Sammy on the other, we sat back at by my borrowed Cougar, and the Impala, waiting for something to happened.
With Dean nursing a nasty head wound back in the shed, Sam was sprinting through the woods after a ghoul. Normally, they didn't cause too much of a problem, eating decomposed bodies and what not. But the ghoul Sam was chasing through the woods had been pretty busy for the last half a century; it killed upwards of twelve people a year, then waited half a decade before eating them.
After stopping, and firing once, Sam continued running. His pace faltered when several barks echoed through the forest, soon followed by a shrill, painful scream. The closer Sam got, the more confused he became.
The ghoul was on the ground, screaming, as a massive black, white and red dog violently shook his head while keeping its jaws locked on the ghoul's shoulder. Growling, the Berner released its iron grip just enough to let a slab of bloody, half-rotted flesh slip past his teeth. When he bit back down, there was a snap, then the ghoul screamed even louder.
Sam picked up the pace, readying his shotgun. As he took aim, there was a sharp whistle, paired with a firm Come! command. The dog darted away, leaving Sam to take off the ghoul's head with a single blast to the face.
Still breathing heavily from running what he guessed was more than a mile and a half, Sam looked towards where the dog had ran. The dog was currently wagging its tail wildly as he received words of praise and happy ear scratches from his owner, who made a look of distaste as she pulled ghoul flesh from the dog's purple nylon collar.
"Nikki?" Sam asked, shocked to see his petite, dark haired-...friend, while on a job in Iowa.
She turned and flashed Sam a closed lipped smile. Nikki ducked her head down slightly, raising a hand to tuck curls sheepishly behind her ear. "Hey Sam..." She said, glancing up at him with her big dark brown eyes.
Popping the empty shell from the shotgun, Sam, still confused, took a step forward. "What are you doing here?...Not that it isn't good to see you!" He added the last part quickly.
"Yeah, no, it's great to see you too," Nikki responded hastily, nodding as she spoke. "I, uh...I missed you," she finally admitted.
"I missed you too," Sam said honestly, realizing how cheesy he sounded. He took another step forward. "Dean too...We both missed you."
"I, er...I kinda need your help," Nikki said with a little, slightly embarrassed, frown.
"With what?" Sam asked, already in information gathering mode. "What are you hunting? Where is it?"
"It's more like...Rune identification," Nikki said slowly.
"Oh...Can I see them?" Sam asked, thinking he would be looking at a picture of symbols carved into a tree or rock.
"Sure," Nikki shrugged. She commanded Sammy to sit, which he did obediently. Much to Sam's surprise, Nikki turned her left side towards him, grabbed the hem of her canvas cargo jacket and lifted it up, bringing her faded hoodie and t-shirt with it.
Sam blinked twice, then swallowed. The revealed skin was the same magnificent olive-tan shade is was when they-... When exposed to the damp morning air, goose bumps prickled over her skin, which Sam watched expand and retract with her ribs and diaphragm. He couldn't help it when his gaze strayed to the soft curve of her exposed hips, or her slim stomach which was softened by a plush layer of burger and Chinese food fat. The raised scars from the Hellhound were the only imperfections on her exposed skin, but they were arguably one of Sam's favorite features of her's. She hadn't believed him when he told her, but shut up about it when he'd begun to pepper feather light kisses along the lines of over sensitive skin and tissue; to Sam, the long claw marks that cured over Nikki's stomach proud just how strong and resilient she was, but he didn't say a word about how he hated how they got there.
Nikki knew the exact moment Sam saw what she'd lifted her jacket and shirt for him to see in the first place. His features, which had lost a little bit of the boyish roundness, first contorted into a look of fear and worry; he saw the six inch long, inch wide, red, puffy and raised scar that stretched over Nikki's ribs. The second expression on Sam's face was unbridled curiosity. Nikki could almost hear his mind working behind his hazel-blue eyes; he took notice of the symbols that appeared to be branded into the pinkish scar. The third expression as the one that stuck, and was a mix between the first two.
Sam took several steps towards Nikki, and even held out a hand to touch the mark. She tried not to flinch, but when the branded scar was touched, it burned; Nikki involuntarily twitched away from Sam's hand, and it froze in the air at once.
The pair met eyes. Sam's sharp, kaleidoscope eyes of shades of blue, gold and green were filled with curiosity, worry and tenderness. Nikki looked back at him with chocolate brown eyes; they were guarded and strong, but under the intense kaleidoscope eyes, the soulful brown cracked and melted, showing fear and vulnerability.
The oddly intimate moment was broken by Dean, who was angrily thrashing out of the woods, head in one hand, shotgun in the other. Once out of the brush, the older Winchester blinked a few times to make sure he was seeing right, then smiled. "Hey Nik, when'd you get here?"
Dean's surprised, happy greeting fell on the two of many emotions. He frowned, and began to walk to the Impala. "Tell me all about it after I get sumthin' for my head...And that dog is not getting in my car," he grunted out.
It didn't take too long to get Sammy cleaned up; five minutes of him biting at the water that came from the hose behind the motel as enough to get the ghoul blood from his silky fur. He did that dog thing to dry off, shaking the water off from his nose to his tail. Once back in the motel room I'd rented, he promptly fell asleep on the doggy bed I tossed on the floor for him at the foot of my bed.
Sam wanted to jump right into the mark on my side, but Dean and I had other ideas. I wanted to relax and get a good night's sleep (since I woke up feeling exhausted from my dream last night, and every nap I'd taken since then), and Dean needed a good night of 'painkillers' (i.e. whisky) as a local bar.
So, after a good half hour of convincing, Dean rumbled out of the parking lot in the Impala and Sam and I were laid out on the single queen bed in the room. It was one of the adjoining-type rooms, connected to the one Sam and Dean rented next door, accessible through a pair of doors in the shared wall.
Sam was the big spoon, and I happily accepted the role of the little spoon. Both of us were half-asleep as the TV flashed unmatched light into the dark room. He drew circles with his thumb on thigh and I played with the fingers of the arm of his I was laying on. Sam's nose was buried in my hair, and I was nestled tights to his chest. Our legs were tangled up and our breathing was almost in sync.
"What are we?" I asked lazily, my half-lidded eyes watching a rerun of some 90s sitcom.
Sam sighed heavily before responding; his breath ruffled through my hair and down my neck, making me close my eyes, shiver, and scoot closer to him.
"Human," he sighed, pressing a kiss to the hair that covered my ear.
"Hunters," Sam added a moment later. The hand on my hip moved up to brush my hair away, then kissed my temple slowly. His forehead gently rested on the place he'd just kissed, angling his head to his lips hovered and brushed over my ear.
"Alone," he breathed.
As if on cue, Sammy let out a soft snort in his sleep from the dog bed on the floor.
Human Sam didn't even react to the sound, as if ignoring it would deny it existing.
Sam's breathed words and gentle (but firm) touches, along with the dim light and low TV volume was lulling me into a 'L word' clouded haze.
"Not totally alone," I remarked in lazy sarcasm, one corner of my mouth smirking up as Sam let out a lone amused chuckle. "And you know damn well what I mean, Sam Winchester."
My sharper tone made Sam stop moving. Moments later, he fell back to where he'd been, rather than hovering half-over me. His hand didn't return to my upper abdomen; instead, it rested on my upper abdomen, his thumb gently laid on the raised strip of skin that ran along my left side. The silence seemed to go on and on; Sam only brushed my mark now and then with the pad of his thumb.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly, returning his face to my hair. Sam's lips moved against my curls as he spoke. "For leaving you behind. I was trying to protect you...I'm sorry."
I smiled just a little. I moved a hand back, and somewhat awkwardly held the back of Sam's head, threading my fingers through his locks and pulling him towards me slightly. "You're supposed to do a lot of things, Sam...But protected me isn't one of them."
He mumbled Sorry into my hair one more time, then pressed a slow, open mouthed kiss to the nape of my neck.
It was one dull TV show cycle later that Sam spoke. "So...What do you wanna...be?"
I shrugged as much as I could when Sam had such a tight grip on me. "What do you wanna be?"
"Well, you're the girl...Don't you get to choose?"
"What kind of relationships have you had?"
"Normal ones, for the most part."
"My only long term relationship was with a demon who liked dudes better."
"So, no normal relationships for Nikki."
"I still say if falls to you."
"Jee, thanks...Hunters don't really have normal relationships, though..."
"No, they do not."
"And I'm a witch, so I don't really know how normal we can be."
"That's not a big deal...The witch thing. Not to me, anyway. You're not that different from a normal person."
"Tell that to the chanted bullets in my gun."
"Tell you 'bout them later. My point is, even by hunter standards, we can't have a normal...agreement."
"Oh, so we have an agreement now, not a relationship."
"Shut up! You know what I mean—Stop laughing!"
"Ok...Ok...So, if we want this—You want this, right?"
"Would I be ignoring the thing pressing against my leg if I didn't?"
"We're not talking about me! Just answer the question...And you know it's a compliment."
"Uh-huh, sure...But, yeah...I wanna do this."
"We're doing this, then."
"And what are we gonna call it?"
"You know that's not gonna be enough for Dean."
"He thinks we're doin' it now, so who cares what he says about it?"
"Eh...You're not wrong."
"We're doing this, then."
"You already said that."
"My answer's still the same...You?"
"Yeah...Still the same."
"Yeah...together. No titles yet, though."
"Why not, girlfriend?"
"Ew, don't say it like that!...It's gross and everyone thinks that we're gonna be all mushy then...I'm not mushy."
"So what am I to you if I'm not your boyfriend?"
"You're my...My Sam."
"Yup. And I'll be Your Nikki, but not in a misogynistic way, though."
"My Sam, My Nikki...Good."
"I'm good...You have anything in mind?"
"Oh, go on, My Sam."
"Well, My Nikki, Dean has a key to the room next door."
"He won't be back for a few hours, at least."
"Nobody's in the room on the other side of us, so we don't have to be quiet."
"Sammy can go in the next room, 'cause, I don't think I can do stuff to you in front of you large, overprotective dog watching."
"He's asleep, Sam."
"Oh, he'll are up, trust me."
"Fine...Send my sweet boy to Dean's room."
"If he's your sweet boy, what am I?"
"Well, you're still My Sam...But I'm going to need a...different, situation to give you anymore nicknames."
"Alright then, My Nikki."
"Wait—What if Dean brings a lady back?"
"Then he's gonna do it in front of the dog."
"I don't think your big brother will go along with that."
"He won't, but neither of us will be able to open the door to take him back."
"Why won't we be able to open the door? Exactly why. I need specifics."
"That'd ruin the surprise...But let me rephrase...I'll be too busy to open the door, and you won't he able to."
"And why wouldn't I be able to—" My eyes just about rolled back in my head as Sam finally put his hands back on me.