**Takes place directly after "Nephilim." I apologize about the spacing and quick shifts...my asterisk separators from Word didn't translate and I am still new at this whole posting on a website thing. Please enjoy! Feel free to review. I would enjoy the critique! Thanks so much!**
There were four people ahead of her in line. Tapping her foot slightly, she made to effort to continue everything her dad had taught her. Observe. Categorize. Manipulate if necessary. There were two boys, around her and Serra, her sister's age, and an older couple, both dressed in denim and leaning on each other, completely harmless. Grace made a face: they both reeked of potatoes.
Grace stepped forward again as the line shifted slightly and watched as the kid about her age put a twenty down on the counter. "Ten on seven," he said, pulling his collar up around his neck, "and this." He pushed a pile of food forward and the smaller boy next to him threw a cookie on top of the pile.
"Need another three bucks, guys," the attendant said, raising his eyebrows.
The teenager scrounged in his pockets for a few seconds and patted his jacket, shaking his head. "Uh," he said, searching the pile, "I'll take this out."
He put the six-pack of Coke back on the shelf next to him and smiled at the smaller kid. "Thanks," the little one said, grinning back at the taller boy.
Grace tapped her foot again, waiting for her turn to pay for their family's gas. She sighed again, for effect, and crossed her arms. As the attendant bagged up the boys' supplies, the older one, around Grace's age, glanced behind him and caught her eye. He was handsome, too. He smiled slightly from behind his popped collar. Grace could feel her sixteen-year-old face flush as she smiled back. Turning back to the attendant, the older boy took the bag and as he walked out the door with the smaller one tagging along behind him, he glanced at Grace again, winking this time.
Usually, she would look away, embarrassed, but Grace held her blue eyes locked with the boy's. There was a moment that she wanted to reach out her hand, just to make contact to see what he had seen through his eyes, but more than anything, she was enamored with the color alone.
They were green.
I woke up with a start, the room's dark details coming into focus. I was exhausted. Between my intense, realistic dreams and the fact that my newborn daughter was cluster feeding, I hadn't been able to get a solid sleep in weeks. I glanced down at the sleeping infant that lay on my chest, curled up and snoring lightly and touched her soft skin, breathing in the delicious baby scent.
She was perfect in every way possible. Her hair had begun to darken, ever so slightly, and her little bottom lip was curled in as she sucked lightly. I attempted to stand, balancing her on my chest as I leaned forward to pull myself out of the rocker I had fallen asleep in. It was almost two-thirty in the morning…maybe I could get another two-hour nap.
I laid Libby down in her crib and she stretched, raising her eyebrows and unfurling her little fists. I froze, staring at her, willing her to stay asleep. Libby let her body relax again and she fell back to sleep, her nose whistling as she breathed. I padded out of her room and walked back down the hall to the bedroom I shared with my husband.
Dean lay face down; the silhouette of his hair was the only discernible part of him in the moonlight. I walked across the room and rejoined him in bed, the heat from his body radiating towards mine. Dean was such a light sleeper; I didn't even bother trying not to wake him. Turning towards me, he smiled and whispered, "She go back down?"
"Yeah," I said, yawning and trying to get comfortable. "She's gotta grow out of this whole cluster thing. It's killing me."
Dean brought his arm out of the blankets and wrapped it around me. My hand automatically found The Mark of Cain on his arm as he settled back into sleep. I curled into his body, warming myself up after the chill of the house. Winter was on its way and the first winter in any new house was always interesting. Liberty's room was toasty warm, but it was the only vent in the house that would open to allow the furnace's heat through. I was happy with that, considering I had my very own hot water bottle lying next to me, but I knew we would have to throw some money at it before Christmas.
I sighed as I lay back into bed and closed my eyes, seeing the gas station again from my dream. My eyes popped back open and realized that it was an actual memory from my teenage years. Dean and I had met before, multiple times. I grinned, watching him in my mind's eye, winking and walking away.
Morning came for us Winchesters before the sun rose. Libby wailed from her crib, obviously hungry, again, and I struggled to stand. Dean beat me to it, rolling out of bed and padding down the hall towards Libby's room. She stopped crying almost immediately and I could hear his voice, deep and soothing, as it floated down the hall. I listened to him talk to her, smiling to myself. His voice traveled back towards our room as he brought Liberty to me in bed.
"Are you humming Metallica?" I asked, chuckling.
Dean raised his eyebrows at me and nodded. "Hell yes, I'm humming Metallica. It's soothing." He laid her in my arms and joined us on the bed. I pulled a pillow to prop Libby up and winced as she latched on. All the books lied: this never got easier or more comfortable.
She ate like she was starving, clenching her tiny fists and staring up at me. I watched her as Dean stroked her head. I could feel his eyes on me and I glanced down at him, grinning. "She's just so beautiful. I can't look away."
Gazing up at me with those piercing green eyes, his lips turned up in a hint of a smile. "I know the feeling."
It had been seven weeks of trying to get the hang of this whole motherhood thing. Dean was jogging along, right next to me, barely breaking a sweat. He seemed to be nailing fatherhood, just as he promised. I knew that basically raising Sam had prepared him for almost anything that Lib could throw at him, and for that, I was grateful for his father's bad parenting.
I leaned into my pillows; closing my eyes and listening to Libby suckle.
A few minutes went by uninterrupted, but then Dean's phone buzzed next to him on the nightstand. It startled Liberty awake and she glanced around, nervous. I soothed her as Dean shot me a look and raised his eyebrows. It was easier, these days, to hold most conversations one sided. I was a part of Dean's consciousness and could hear his thoughts as well as I could hear my own. Annoyed, he thought, What time is it?
I shook my head and answered, "About five in the morning." I looked back down at Libby as she nestled back into my chest. "It's probably Sam."
Dean rolled towards his phone and stared at the screen. Yep, he thought, what could he possibly want this early in the morning?
I shrugged, "He knows we'll be awake."
Libby flailed her tiny fists in the air as Dean answered his phone, "Hey, man. It's early. What's up?"
I didn't feel the need to eavesdrop on the brothers. I felt no urgency from Sam, which meant all was well. Going back to gazing at my daughter, Dean began his typical pace around the room as he was on the phone.
Minutes went by as he continued to walk around the room and then I heard his voice drop, serious and low, "How close?"
Glancing up at my husband, I could see the concern wash over his face as he spoke to Sam. I tuned in to the conversation as it continued, obviously needing my attention.
As Sam spoke, Dean absorbed his brother's words. I could hear them as they ran through Dean's brain. Jaeger called me a few minutes ago. They're headed down from Wisconsin, but moving fast. They could be here in the next couple of days, especially if they know we're here.
Dean closed his eyes at this information, "How many?"
I don't know. How many were in the coven? How many did you kill?
"I don't remember. Six? Maybe seven?"
How many did Jody kill? I took three or four.
Dean shrugged before answering as if Sam could see him, "I think the girls took one a piece. So what is that, eleven? Thirteen?"
Sam sighed from his end of the phone and ran his available hand through his hair. "So we're dealing with at least ten still. If they haven't turned more." He glanced at Serendipity, still sleeping on the bed across the room. She slept soundly, as she always did, no matter how much noise Sam made.
Dean's voice answered quietly, obviously trying to stay calm around Grace. Liberty was probably awake too. "Of course they've turned more. Especially if they've decided to hunt the hunters." Sam could tell Dean was pacing. He had begun the habit when The Mark of Cain was new and even though The Mark was no longer a problem, Dean continued his habit of pacing while on the phone. It seemed that it gave him something to do.
"Looks like we're never done, huh?" Sam tried to smile, "Should I pack?"
Dean hesitated. Sam knew the battle in Dean's mind was between killing what threatened his family and staying closed enough to protect them, especially with Libby being so tiny.
There was silence over the phone as Dean glanced up at me. He knew I heard the entire conversation and I shrugged at him. "Vampires?" I asked.
He nodded, moving the phone away from his face slightly. "A coven Sam and I got up in Wisconsin. We didn't get the whole thing though."
"And they're coming for you?"
Dean shrugged. "I'm pretty irresistible."
I smiled and closed my eyes. I knew he needed to go, especially considering I didn't want a coven of vampires hanging out in my hometown, so close to our baby girl. And deep down, I knew Dean was excited.
"You don't need my permission," I said, smiling at his comment.
Hesitating, smiling, and shifting his weight from foot to foot like a child, he raised his eyebrows. "So, can I go play?"
I laughed, "Yes. Go kill things."
He spoke back into the phone with a grin on his face, "Yeah, get to packing, Sammy. I'll swing by and pick you up in about twenty minutes." He pulled his duffle bag from the top shelf of our closet, throwing a pair of jeans in, "We'll meet them before they get here."
He hung up the phone and glanced at Liberty and I, still cuddled together on the bed. Dean stared, his thoughts now conflicting as he held two folded flannels above the duffle, You two gonna be okay?
"We'll be fine. They're just vampires. What's the worst that could happen?"
He chuckled at that and nodded, "That's true. I guess when you've been one and back, the rest is small potatoes."
I nodded, agreeing. My mind flashed the memory that I had seen in Dean from almost a decade ago, when he had been with Lisa, and he had almost bitten her and her son after turning to a vampire himself. "I'll have Serra come over and we'll make it a girls' weekend."
"Sounds awesome. Shouldn't be more than a few days." He went into the bathroom to grab his leather travel pack and threw it into the duffle with his clothes. Libby had fallen asleep with her mouth agape, a bit of drool was headed down her cheek. Dean leaned towards us and scooped her up gently. "I'll be back in a flash, kiddo." He nuzzled her, forehead to forehead, as he so often did, and leaned in to kiss me.
"I don't need to tell you to be careful," I said, touching his face as he laid Lib back in my arms, "because I assume you know that I'd take pleasure in salting and torching your corpse if you die."
Dean chucked and nodded. "I know you would."
And with that, he grabbed his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and with a final look and smile at the doorway, he was gone.
Later that day, a jovial knock on the door told me that Serendipity had arrived. I opened the door with Lib in my arms and Serra bounced in, handing me a case of beer and taking the baby. Libby cooed at her aunt and flapped her arms, excited to see her. I shut the door behind her and we began our man-free weekend.
Four microwave-bags of popcorn, almost an entire case of beer, twelve dirty diapers and a pizza later, Liberty was asleep in her play pen and Serra and I were deep into gossip mongering. Serendipity had been the one drinking the most, her words almost slurred together, but she was a happy drunk and I knew she was spending the night. I stuck to a beer an hour so I wouldn't have to worry about nursing Liberty.
The boys had checked in almost two hours ago, each calling us around ten that night. We talked for a bit, but Dean knew I was enjoying my time with my sister and was fine with being rushed off the phone. They were staying the night in one of their old school, by-the-hour motels somewhere outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, ready to take on the coven of vampires that Jaeger had called about.
Now, Serra was talking animatedly about her upcoming wedding to Sammy. It was going to be a small affair, just like mine had been, but she wanted to use the barn that was on the backside of me and Dean's property. We had been cleaning it up a bit; just to make sure nothing came down on us in the middle of their vows.
"I think I want Cas to marry us, too," she was saying, pointing with her bottle of beer, "he knows the guys the best and it was so fucking adorable when he made his speech about you and Dean." As I listened to her talk, I smiled, but the back of my mind was buzzing in a way that put me on alert. I glanced at the clock. It was just passed midnight. Libby would be waking up soon for her midnight meal, so I stood to warm the milk that was in the freezer.
I listened to Serra from the kitchen as she continued about the wedding. My muscle memory took over readying the bottle as I listened hard with my other senses. Something was coming.
I could hear them, but couldn't read their minds.
"Serra," I said, interrupting her. She stopped, hearing my tone, and stared at me, frozen in place. We both knew to trust my abilities and drunk or not, she abided by my voice.
Breaking through the silence, there was a solid knock on the front door. We exchanged a glance and I pointed to Liberty. Serra didn't hesitate. She padded to Lib, scooped her up and in seconds, she was throwing herself down the steps to our basement. Dean and I had spent weeks building a state-of-the-art panic room; impervious to anything we could throw at it, monsters and tornadoes included. It was the safest place for Liberty and that's where Serra was taking her. I could hear Liberty stir as Serra sealed the door with a keypad code. I approached the front door slowly as the doorknob turned.
The deadbolt was locked, holding the door shut, and I used the time to close my eyes to listen to whatever was outside. They weren't human, and there were a lot of them. Serendipity was back upstairs, tossing me a gun and an angel blade. I shoved the .38 Special into the back of my pants and held the blade at my side as I moved closer to the door. Through the window, I saw two faces appear over the sill in the door and they grinned as they made eye contact with me.
"There," one of them said, "she's right there."
"Take the door down," another growled, "he said she's an easy job."
One laughed farther back; "Maybe we can turn them both and just take them with us."
Serra's brain was moving almost too fast to discern individual thoughts. With the influx of adrenaline, she was immediately sober and ready for the fight. I knew I would be able to depend on her, especially when I heard her think, Vampires.
I nodded at her and took a deep breath. It was the first time we had dealt with a monster alone since discovering that I was a nephilim. This should be interesting.
The door shook as one of them threw their body against it. Being solid oak, it would take some effort to bring the entire door down, monster or not. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Serra steel herself as she loaded her gun. Unprepared for a vampire attack at our front door, we had none of the usual precautions…no dead man's blood, no machetes. We'd have to make do with silver bullets and our impervious angel blades.
The door splintered and cracked; the pressure of the amped up vamp too much for the wood to take. Another hit would be all it needed to come down. I closed my eyes, preparing myself for the fight. I wished Dean was here, if nothing else, so I could borrow The Mark of Cain.
Finally giving way, the door shattered and a vampire came barreling through, an evil grin spread over his face. "Oh, she's pretty, too." He glanced at my sister, growling under his breath, "so is the little one."
As I evaluated our situation, I was shocked to see so many vampires all at once. Even in our worst hunts, we had only dealt with three or four at a time. There had to be at least a dozen standing on our porch or in our living room. I knew I should be afraid, but there was no fear, only readiness to kick ass, and I knew Serra felt the same way. We were a perfect team. Moving slowly towards each other, blades out, we stood so we were back to back. I faced the biggest vamp, his fangs already lowering into his mouth as he smiled at me. "The Wife of Winchester," he said, his voice dripping with distain. "It's my pleasure to meet you."
"I wish I could say the same," I said, momentarily wondering how he knew who I was. "Get the fuck out of my house."
He laughed, then, though the sound was barely a laugh…more of a choking growl. Stopping, frozen in place as he took a breath through his nose, he turned towards the basement steps. "What is that?" he asked, taking a step towards the stairway, "holy shit, that's new blood," he said, lusting towards the doorway, "fresh meat."
I stepped into his path and squared my shoulders. "I'm only going to say it one more time," I snarled at him, knowing full well he could smell Libby, "get the fuck out of my house."
The others came in behind the leader, ready for a fight and I knew this was it. "Don't act so tough, little girl," he moved towards me, expecting me to take a step back. When I didn't, he lowered his head, taking a deep breath of my scent. It was the first time I saw a shadow of a doubt spread over his expression. I knew I didn't smell the same as my sister…after all, I was half angel.
"Who's first?" I asked.
A voice from behind the leader answered quietly, "Let's do this, bitch."
I moved faster than they expected me to and in one smooth motion, used the angel blade to slice his head from his body. The shock that radiated from the crowd was palpable. From the center of the living room, I saw Serra smile. She was ready. I turned and stared at him again from my place in the middle of the coven. Smiling I said, "Next."
The leader shot towards my sister, throwing himself at her neck, expecting to bite through her throat. She ripped the Colt 1911 out of her pants and rapid fired three shots, two into his chest and one straight through his left eye socket. He dropped with a thud onto the hardwood floor and she looked up at me as I took off his head. We both turned towards the remaining group of vampires.
"Anyone else?" we said together, not even breaking a sweat.
Chaos erupted in our living room and on the porch. I took on three vamps at once, each of them clawing and biting at me, hoping to tear flesh or break skin any way they could. I fought as if they were in slow motion, seeing their moves almost before they would happen. As a vampire would strike right, I would dodge left and swipe with my other hand, causing some sort of damage with the silver blade.
Serra was unstoppable as well, taking on one vampire at a time in rapid succession. She was an incredible shot; one bullet per bloodsucker and the 1911 stopped them in their tracks. As the vamps hit the ground, she would swing her left arm wide, taking off their heads for good measure as they hit the ground.
One by one, we moved our way through the vampires that had obvious plans to kill us. Quickly, we were down to the last two: Serra had one cornered on the floor by the couch on his knees. He held up his hands and begged to be allowed to live. The second vampire was female and was faster than I was, dodging each move I made, jumping over bodies and heads as they littered the house. She stood at the stairway to the basement mockingly.
"I still smell that new blood," she whispered. "Let's get you to open that door. I wanna smell her up close."
Watching from the corner of the room, Serra held her blade against the kneeling vampire's neck. "Are we questioning?"
From where I stood, I nodded silently. Serra held her prisoner in place as I continued to stare at the female as she moved closer to the stairs. As she took a step down, my voice was barely loud enough to hear. "I am going to tear you in half."
"If you can catch me," she said, taking another step. She knew I was out of bullets in my .38 and my angel blade was on the floor, at least eight feet away from me. I stood only inches from her, but had nothing to kill her with.
I could hear Serra concentrating on holding her prisoner in place. She was calm, in control, and as I listened, I realized that I was using powers the vampires didn't know I had. Glancing down at my hands, I smiled slightly. She snarled at me and made the move to bite me. Catching her by the hair with one hand, she tried to jump over me, but my grip on her hair made her jump into a long, graceful arch as she sailed over me, I brought her down, face first and knelt on her back, holding her to the floor. She continued the fight, turning to bite again, her fangs in full extension, bent on getting a piece of my flesh. I held her down, allowing her to turn her face towards mine. With my other hand, I held two fingers against her forehead and closed my eyes. Screaming in pain, she made inhuman sounds as I burned her from the inside. The room erupted into a bright white light as she fell to ash beneath me.
"Holy fuck," the last vampire said under his breath. He was gasping for air in fear. Serra pressed the angel blade against his neck harder; ensuring his position on the floor didn't change. I glanced at my sister, eyebrows up and she smiled.
"You good?" I asked, as I looked her over, checking for bites or scratches.
She nodded, "Yep. You?"
I agreed. I was perfectly fine. Finally turning our attention back to the lone vampire on the floor, I tilted my head, staring at him. His fangs had retracted and he was sweating, apprehension getting the best of him. "What the hell are you? He said it would be easy! He told us that we'd be in and out." It seemed that he was talking to himself more than he was addressing us, "He told us we'd kill you in minutes!"
"Who? Who told you?" I said, leaning down into his face, "Did someone hire you?"
Pressing his lips together, realizing that he was saying too much, the young vampire shook his head. Serendipity wiped her hair out of her face and pressed with the silver blade, cutting into his skin, smoke rising as it seared his flesh. He cried out in pain. "Who?" I demanded, standing above him, "Who hired you?"
He shook his head again, refusing to answer. Serra's chestnut eyes found mine and she raised her eyebrows. One more try?
I shook my head. The knife wasn't working. He wasn't scared enough yet. I raised my fingers to his forehead and his eyes followed my hand as it traveled above his face. "No, please. Wait."
Pausing, I pursed my lips. I couldn't read his mind…there was some sort of monster-wall that the vamp carried, not allowing me through. "Last chance," I said, "make it a good one."
"He called Victor last night," he spilled, speaking quickly, "told us that he would get the Winchesters to leave and that we could have you two." He gasped for air, trying to win me back, "When we got back, he'd pay us five grand."
I glanced at my sister. Serendipity had the same theory as I was developing, Jaeger, she thought, that bastard.
"But why?" I asked aloud, attempting to understand, "He's been a friend of the boys since they were in high school."
She shrugged, still needing no sound to communicate to me, I know, but Sam got the call this morning. It's like he knew they were looking for any chance for a hunt.
I nodded again. The timeline made sense. I stared at the vampire. He couldn't have been older than 20 when he was turned. His face was young, still lined with baby fat and freckles. He could have almost looked innocent, if I didn't know he was a bloodsucker. His brown eyes flicked back and forth between my sister and I. "How are you doing that?" he asked, his voice higher pitched than it should be.
"Don't worry about it," I muttered. I struggled to understand what we were facing. Jaeger had been a friend. Why had he turned against the Winchester family? The only thing that had changed in our relationship with the other hunter was…me.
Serra could see that I came to some sort of conclusion in my mind. She continued the conversation telepathically. What? What aren't I getting?
"It's me," I said, staring down at the vampire. "He couldn't do it himself because he wanted to keep the guys' trust. So he sent them."
To what? To kill you because you're half and half?
I nodded at my sister, shrugging. "The hunter has become the hunted."
The baby monitor lit up as Libby's tiny voice came through. She began to whimper and all three of us whipped towards the doorway of the basement steps. I turned back to the young vampire and his eyes had not broken the stare towards the panic room. Under his breath, he whispered, "Fresh blood," and his fangs descended slowly. He was bloodthirsty and I knew it was time to end the conversation.
His head landed with a thump on my newly refinished hardwood floor.
Putting Libby in the stroller after feeding her was the easiest way to keep her happy as we dragged the bodies and the heads of the vampires that we killed out into the field on the backside of our property. I had checked and rechecked that there were no windows within our line of sight as we stacked the bodies, preparing them for burning. Serra salted their corpses as well, just to be on the safe side and I lit the bonfire. We watched them burn silently, Libby cooing in her stroller as the sun rose over the tree line.
The reflection of the fire on our faces showed the grime and blood that was all over our faces. I watched Serra tie her hair back again, wiping her hands on her pants, and rolling her neck from side to side. I ran over the information that we had gathered from the young vampire in my head over and over. How Jaeger had discovered the truth about me, I would probably never know, but I knew that it wouldn't be the last time someone came after my family. If the truth about me was out, there was no telling how other hunters would react. I glanced at Liberty and continued the line of thought. If other hunters were after me, they would most likely come after my daughter as well.
"What are we going to tell the boys?" I asked, being the first to speak in over an hour.
Serra glanced at me raising her eyebrows. "We tell them exactly what happened," she answered, "they need to know that Jaeger lied."
I nodded, asking, "If he turned against us, who else is going to?" I shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my monkey pajama pants that I wore. "You know it's coming."
She only turned to look at me, staying silent and I knew her answer. She knew we would be hunted. I put my hands over my face, rubbing my eyes against the heat of the bonfire and turned away, walking towards the sunrise. "Gracie," she started, turning as well, her arms out, pleading, "you don't know that. There are hundreds of other hunters out there, and a lot of them know Dean and Sammy. Maybe we can convince them you're on our side."
"It's like we're living that stupid vampire story," I said, remembering how I felt months ago, having the same thought. "Gather witnesses, make a case. Prove that I'm no monster." I shook my head, "This is ridiculous. I shouldn't HAVE to make a case. I should be able to just live my life. I'm not even in the game anymore."
Serra smiled slightly. "Your kung-fu moves suggest otherwise."
I turned towards my sister and chuckled lightly, "I was pretty awesome. You were too. Kinda hot."
"Yeah," she said, agreeing, "too bad the boys didn't see."
I turned back towards the fire and wrinkled my nose. "I'll never get used to the smell of a crispy vamp." Serra nodded, agreeing. She and I walked towards the stroller and she grabbed the handle before I had a chance. As the fire turned to ash, I kicked the embers out with the mud surrounding the pit. I stomped them down for good measure as the sun broke through the trees. Together, we walked back up to the house, pushing Libby through the field in her stroller.
We both took showers in shifts, keeping an eye on Lib. While Serendipity was in the shower, I fit plywood against the front door's opening and began scrubbing the blood off the floor. The good thing about having fresh hardwood was how easily everything came clean. I would have to remember to compliment Dean and Sam on the seal of the wood.
I could hear the water shut off and the bathroom door open as Serra came out. Libby had given up and fallen asleep in her stroller, fully reclined. She clenched her little fists as drool ran down the side of her cheek. Serra came down stairs, two at a time and threw herself into the couch. She glanced around from her position on the pillows, and said, "Wow, that came clean!"
"I know! I was just thinking the same thing." As I turned to put the mop away, one of our phones began to vibrate on the table. "Who's is that?" I called from the laundry room.
Serra sat up and answered, "Yours!"
I walked back into the room and held out my hand. She tossed it to me as I sat down in my chair. I slid the unlock to answer and tilted my head, "Hi, honey," I said sarcastically, "how was YOUR night?"
Chuckling over the phone, Dean's voice was soft and happy, "Did Lib keep you up?"
I shook my head, pressing my lips together in a tight line, "No," I said, "the coven of fourteen vampires did."
Dean's entire demeanor changed and I could hear him stand from his sitting position on the bed. He growled into the phone as he answered, "What?"
I could hear Sam in the background, "What's the matter?" he asked, obviously near enough to Dean that I could overhear his voice. "Put her on speaker."
Shushing his brother, Dean refocused on me, "What are you talking about Grace?"
"I'm talking about the vampires that knocked down our brand new oak door and got blood all over my new floor," I said, annoyed more than anything at this point, "they came gunning for us because they heard from someone else that you were gone."
"What the fuck are you talking about? Vampires came to the house?" Dean said, still trying to wrap his mind around it.
"What?" came Sam's voice again, obviously listening to the conversation, "Put her on speaker, Dean!"
Dean pulled the phone away from his face and put me on speakerphone. I did the same, allowing Serra and I to tell the story together.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked; worry etched through his voice. I heard the springs of the bed shift as Dean sat down again.
Serra nodded in response as she ate another piece of pizza. "Yeah," I said, "we're fine."
"Start over," said Sam, sitting down next to Dean.
We told the boys about the battle, about the leader saying that we would be an easy kill and how they talked about trying to take us and turn us into bloodsuckers ourselves. "You should have seen her, Dean," Serendipity was saying with pride, "she had three vamps on her own, tossing them around like ragdolls."
"Nah," I said, smiling at my sister, "Sammy, your fiancé is pretty amazing too, hit every mark she aimed for."
"You two took on fourteen vampires at once," Sam repeated in disbelief, "by yourselves."
We nodded. "Like I've said before, Sammy," I explained, sounding as know-it-all as I could, "we actually held our own as hunters before we met you."
"What I wouldn't have given to see you two in action," Dean said, obviously relieved that we were okay. "Lib is okay?"
"She's fine," Serra said, "Gracie knew they were coming. She had me throw her in the panic room with two minutes to spare, easy."
Dean sighed, relaxing slightly. "Can you read them?"
I shook my head, answering quietly, "No, I can't." I took a deep breath, "That didn't stop me from finding out some stuff, though."
"Like that you're on a wild goose chase, Dean," I explained, getting down to the nitty gritty. "I'm pretty sure Jaeger hired them."
There was a pause from the other end of the phone as Sam and Dean exchanged glances. "What do you mean, Grace?" Dean asked, tension rising in his voice slightly.
"At the end, Serra had one on his knees. We pushed him for information to find out how they knew who we were and how they found us." I paused to take a breath, closing my eyes, reliving the scene. "He said someone called the leader, Victor last night."
Sam must have been on the edge of his seat. He practically begged, "And?"
"And this guy offered them five thousand dollars to come down here and kill us or turn us. This guy told the vamps that we would be easy kills and that you two would be out of the way."
Serra leaned forward, adding her own information; "We figure the call came in yesterday night from Jaeger. He told Sam about the vamps from Wisconsin." She glanced at me and I nodded. "He knows you two didn't finish that coven with Jody. He knew you would have wanted to finish them off."
"Sonofabitch," Dean said, getting up from the bed again and pacing around the room. He must have handed the phone to Sam because it was his voice that we heard next.
"We're packing and coming home," he said, already moving. "We'll be there by tonight."
I picked my phone up from the table, speaking loudly into the speaker, "Dean? Stop freaking out."
"I'm not freaking out!" he shouted from across the room, "I'm fucking pissed off!"
I smiled at Serra, rolling my eyes and shaking my head. Turning back to the phone, I spoke again, "Dean, being fucking pissed off isn't going to do anything except get you all worked up. Focus on one thing at a time. When you get home, we'll pay a visit to Jaeger and see how surprised he is to see us," I took a breath, "alive."
We could still hear Dean throwing stuff across the room and into his duffle bag as Sam spoke into the speaker, "Are you guys okay until we get home?"
Serra took over, "Yeah, we're fine. The door's busted down, but Gracie put some plywood up. And the floors came really clean, you two should be proud of your seal job on the wood."
Sam laughed, despite the situation. "I'm glad you've got your priorities in order," he said with a smile. "I'm gonna pack. I'll text when we leave."
"See you soon."
Dean slammed the leather satchel down on the bed as he shoved the rest of his clothes into his bag. "Why the fuck," he growled through gritted teeth, "can't we trust anyone anymore?"
Cleaning up the rest of his things, Sam turned to tilt his head at Dean, "I don't know, man. It's like since Bobby, we haven't been able to ally with anyone besides Jody."
"Well, I haven't exactly been a beaming ray of sunshine over the last year or so," he answered, still not looking up, "maybe it's because of my charming personality."
Sam puffed air out, ruffling his hair as he smiled at his brother's sarcasm. "It's not your fault, Dean. Shit happens."
"I know, Sam. I just don't want to isolate the girls because shit like this keeps happening." He finally looked up at his brother, his eyebrows furrowed and his jaw was set, "I don't want to punish them for loving idiots like us."
Sam only nodded, not really having anything to say. He watched at Dean zipped up his bag and threw it over his shoulder. "You ready?" Sam nodded again and followed Dean out of the motel room, glancing behind him for anything left behind. Satisfied, he closed the door behind him as the rumble from the Impala echoed off the building.
I was nursing Liberty as I heard the Impala turn off the interstate and begin its roll towards our house. Tuning in to Dean's brain, I could tell that he had calmed down after the seven-hour drive. Serra was making fried chicken and was in mid-egg wash as the plywood door opened and Sam walked through. He moved the plywood to lean up against the closet door and made a beeline to the kitchen and scooped Serra into a hug, egg yolk dripping down her elbow and onto the floor. I watched and smiled as he put her down and held her face with both of his hands, "Are you okay?" he said, face to face with my sister. She nodded and hugged him again, smiling as well.
I turned back to the doorway as I heard his telltale boots up the steps of our porch. Dean stood in the doorway, glancing at the frame and shaking his head. I tossed his duffle bag to the side and walked straight to Libby and me as I stood to hug him.
I hadn't realized it until I made contact with my husband that I had felt incomplete in his absence. He wrapped his arms around both Liberty and me and held us, the heat from his body coming through my shirt and Lib's blanket. Dean touched my face, inspecting for damage, and then touched his daughter, smiling gently. "Oh my God, I've felt like puking since I got off the phone with you."
I nodded, knowing the feeling. "We're okay. Promise."
He kept his hand on Libby's head as he glanced around. "They came through that door, huh? That fucker was heavy."
Serra chimed in from across the room, "It took them awhile. Four or five tries."
Dean nodded and raised his eyebrows, approving of his purchase. "It'll be steel next time."
Sam and Dean fixed the frame of the front door and hung the original door again until we could get a replacement. The boys sat down with plates of fried chicken near us on the couch and Dean handed me a piece. Libby was nursing again and I was bound to the couch until she was done. As we ate, the boys began discussing the action plan we would take against Jaeger.
"If we let him know that the girls are still alive, he'll be in the wind," Sam was saying, taking a swig of the beer he held, "If we're going to talk first, it needs to be a surprise on his front step."
I nodded. I knew it would be difficult for Dean to control himself around someone who hired the vamps to kill his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law, but the only way we could be certain that he was telling the truth would be for me to be in the same room as he was. If I could read him, we would know.
Libby cooed and flapped her hands, signaling her wrapping up her meal and I readjusted and stood, walking over to put her in the swing. I felt Dean's eyes on me as I walked across the room, and felt his focus turn away from Jaeger and redirect towards me. I turned back to him and smiled coyly, hearing his plans for later. "It's not like you went to Spain," I said, teasing. I sat back down next to him, taking his plate of chicken, "You were gone for one night."
Taking a bite, Dean threw me a roguish smile. That's one night I've gotta make up, now, he thought, waggling his eyebrows.
Serra waved off our one-sided conversation. "Oh, Jesus, you two. You wonder how you got knocked up. Enough."
I chuckled and flipped off my sister and took another piece of chicken from the plate. Sam shook his head and smiled, taking a breath. "Okay, so how do you want to run this?"
Dean leaned back in the couch, putting one of his arms behind his head as a pillow. "I think we sleep on it tonight and in the morning, bright and early, we pay that bastard a little visit."
"All of us?" I asked, gesturing at Libby. "If it comes to a fight, what happens with this one?"
Serra raised her eyebrows. "I can stay here with her," she offered, leaning forward, "I know you need to read Jaeger, so I want to make sure you get that chance."
Dean and Sam were already shaking their heads. Dean spoke, "No. We're staying together. Or we can call Cas, have him stay with the meatloaf," he said, "but I'm not separating you two. If something else comes by, we need to be together and fight back."
"Can Cas keep her alive for that long?" I asked, half joking, but half completely serious.
Dean turned towards me, his eyebrows lifting into his hairline, "Cas would rather die than let something happen to her. She'll be fine with him."
I nodded, knowing that was true. "Okay, I like that option then. I don't want her with us at Jaeger's."
Agreeing, Dean pulled out his phone and dialed. He held it to his ear, listening. Finally, he spoke, "Cas, it's me. We need a favor. Hit me back when you get a chance. Like tonight."
From the corner of the living room, Cas' voice came out of nowhere. "You never pray for me anymore," he said, completely deadpan. "I've really come to dislike technology."
Without looking up, Sam and Dean waved. I turned, surprised. "Hey Cas. Still can't get a lock on you."
"You're listening to human frequencies. You need to open to angelic ones as well," he said, striding across the room and standing over Liberty as she babbled to herself. He watched her emotionlessly and tilted his head, curious. "She is more human than not," Cas said pointedly. "I can only hear her on a human level."
I nodded, agreeing. "I know. I can pick up her emotions pretty well so far." I watched the angel observe my daughter, feeling with my abilities. Castiel didn't show sentiment the same way we did, but I could feel a fondness of her coming from the angel. Cas cared about Libby, and for that, I was grateful.
He turned back towards us on the couches and stood near the coffee table, expectant. "What favor?" he asked, putting his hands in the pockets of his trench coat.
Dean wiped his hands on his pants and pointed to Libby. "We need to take care of some stuff with another hunter. Did they tell you what happened?" he said, gesturing to Serra and I.
Castiel shook his head. "No, what happened?"
I closed my eyes and held out my hand for Cas to take. We could communicate telepathically, but it was much less draining on me when Cas made physical contact to hear the entire story. He took my hand, closed his eyes and seconds later, he opened them again, shocked at what he saw.
"You think Jaeger sent them?" Castiel said, his jaw setting in anger. We all nodded. He looked back down at Serendipity and me. "You did very well against them," he said, congratulating us, "fourteen. Impressive. Especially for still being half human." He glanced up at Serra and rested his hand on her shoulder, "Well done, Serendipity. You are truly an amazing shot."
Sam furrowed his eyebrows, "Jeeze, now I'm really jealous that I wasn't here to see you."
Cas tilted his head, confused. "Grace hasn't projected the story to you yet?"
I shook my head, bemused. "I didn't know that I could."
"Of course you can," he answered, mildly annoyed. "Read your own mind while touching someone. Play back the memories as if you were pulling them from someone else."
Making a face, I shrugged. "I'll have to practice."
Castiel took a step towards the boys. He held out his hands, eager to demonstrate. Dean and Sam both looked up at Cas from their positions on the couch. Cas wiggled his fingers. "I need to make contact with you to show Grace's story."
Dean made a face, agreeing, and held out his hand. Sam did the same and we watched as the brothers discovered our true fighting abilities.
A few seconds passed and Castiel released Sam and Dean's hands. The boys said nothing for a good thirty seconds as they processed what they saw. The Dean turned to me, laughed and rubbed his face. "I guess I don't have to worry about you anymore."
Running his fingers through his hair, Sam looked close to tears. "You guys, holy shit." He rubbed his face with his hands and took a ragged breath. "Holy shit," he repeated, unable to form words.
"I know," Serra said, smiling and patting his knee. "We're incredible."
Sam's thoughts were dangerously unstable and I glanced at Cas, feeling the turmoil of emotion pouring from my brother-in-law. The fight with the vampires really upset him and I knew it was because he wasn't here to stop it. I was surprised, actually, that Dean didn't react the same way, but being the fighter that Dean was, I knew he and I were now bonded in a completely new way. He knew I could hold my own when I needed to, but Sam was worried that Serra didn't have the same abilities as I did. Castiel watched Sam as well, and then placed his hand back on his shoulder.
"Sam, Serendipity would never walk into a fight that she can't control," Cas started, "and even if she was caught off guard, her instincts and reactions are much faster than most humans, even you. She's prepared." Sam didn't seem convinced. Cas took a breath and smiled, "She can handle herself."
Serra leaned towards her fiancé's face, pushing a strand of hair from his eyes. "Sammy," she said softly, "I'm not going anywhere." She touched his face, feeling his stubble from two days of traveling. "Come on," she said, standing and pulling him with her. "I'll fix you." He followed after picking up his backpack. Pausing at the door, Serra glanced at Dean. "What time are we picking you guys up tomorrow?"
"Shoot for four," he replied.
Serra nodded and led Sam out the door. "See you in the morning."
The door shut behind them and moments later, Serra's truck started up. They drove away and Dean turned back to Cas. "He okay?"
Castiel and I both nodded. "He's in shock at how violent the fight was. How close Serra was to being bitten," I took a breath, touching Dean's leg, "he'll be okay." I looked up at Cas, "Will you stay with Lib tomorrow morning? Or just stay through the night now?"
"You're going after Jaeger?"
"We just want to know the truth," Dean responded, defensive.
Cas tilted his head, "And what will you do when you find out?"
Dean stood and shrugged as he gathered paper plates from dinner to toss them out. "I dunno," he said, "I guess we'll find out."
I knew Castiel didn't approve, but at the same time, he understood, considering that he had seen how violent the fight had been and knew that we were closer than we should have been to death. "Yes," he said, "I will stay with Liberty."
"Thanks, buddy," Dean said from the kitchen. He continued his habit of cleaning up the kitchen as I walked towards Libby, who had fallen asleep in her swing. Cas watched as I unclipped her straps and pulled her from her blankets. She stirred only slightly and I held her close, swaying slightly from side to side to keep her content.
I could feel Castiel reaching out with his mind to feel the emotions I had while holding my daughter. He was curious how deeply dedicated I was to a creature that was so new. Turning slightly, I could sense him do the same thing towards Dean as he tidied up the countertop. As Cas realized that I was staring at him, he seemed embarrassed that he had been so focused. "It's okay, Cas. You can just ask."
"She's so small," he started, eyebrows knitting together, "and yet your entire world has shifted to place her in the center. Dean's as well."
I shrugged. "It's kinda what babies do," I said, glancing at Dean, who's interest had been piqued from the kitchen. "She's our whole world now. We made her."
A hint of a smile touched the edges of Castiel's lips. He lifted his hands slightly, "May I hold her?"
I adjusted my hold on Liberty and lay her in the angel's arms as Dean looked on, wiping his hands on a towel in the kitchen. I smiled at my husband as Cas' shoulders rounded towards Libby's face. He turned to sit on the couch behind him and leaned into the cushions.
Using the time that Cas held Liberty, I bent to pick up the boots and shoes that were littered across the living room floor and tossed them into the entry way closet. Dean came out of the kitchen, turning off the lights and standing in front of Cas. "You don't have to hold her all night, Cas. We can put her down. Although," Dean hesitated and glanced at his watch, "she'll probably be up in the next hour or so. She'll be hungry."
I folded a blanket that lay across the couch as I listened to the conversation. "No," Castiel was saying, "I would like to stay and hold her. Maybe even feed her." He looked up at Dean, almost pleading, "I don't sleep, so it's not as if she's upsetting a routine I have." Cas turned back to Lib's chubby face. "You may bed your wife. I'll watch over Liberty."
"You heard him, Gracie," Dean said, a grin plastered on his face, "I can bed you. Let's go."
I stood up and giggled. "Well then, by all means."
Cas flicked his blue eyes from Dean to me, and back again. "I've said something inappropriate."
Dean laughed as he started upstairs, "No, no. Perfectly appropriate. Come, wife!" I laughed and I stood in front of Cas and Libby.
"Are you sure, Cas?" He nodded while still staring at the baby in his arms. "Okay, there's a bottle in the fridge that needs to be warmed, but don't do it in the microwave. Warm it under the hot water from the sink. Gently."
Castiel nodded. "Yes. I understand."
"Alright," I said. "I'll take a shower and come back down to get her in a bit."
He only nodded again, completely immersed in our daughter.
I reached the top of the staircase and yawned. Dean was still chuckling to himself as I walked into our bedroom. Glancing up at me as he pulled off his shirt, he grinned and said, "Are you ready for me to bed you?"
I knew he was still laughing from Castiel's comment, but it had been almost two months since we had even been conscious long enough to consider being physical with each other. My c-section scar was still bright pink and Dean had been very careful to keep his affection PG. I missed his lingering touch, his fingers tracing the curves of my skin. I missed the heat from his body warming mine in all the right ways. I longed for his arms to wrap me in his strength.
As I stared at him in nothing but his jeans, I took a deep, shaky breath. I missed him. Watching me, I could feel his mood shift from joking to completely lucid. His lips parted, just enough to get my attention. I took a single step towards him and he closed the gap, wrapping his arms around my waist, pulling me into his warm skin. It was like being reunited after months of being separated. His fingers were in my hair, pushing me as close to him as he could be. Pulling away and gasping for air, his green eyes looked concerned. "Wait, baby, wait. Has it been long enough? Are you okay to do this?"
Lust rolled through me and I nodded, "Shut up," I said, pulling his face down again. He stepped back and pulled my tank top up, over my head and smiled. I unbuttoned his jeans and pushed them to the floor. We hadn't lost a step. Holding me up, off the ground, Dean leaned to pull the door closed and with a click, locked it. We fell into bed, smiling, and reintroduced ourselves.
Serra pulled her truck into the drive near the Bat Cave and put it in park. Sam had been quiet the entire ride home and Serra wasn't entirely sure why.
"You've gotta say something eventually," she said, pulling her keys and spinning them around her finger.
Glancing at her, Sam took a breath, coming out of his daze. "I had no idea how bad it was, Sere." He chanced a look at his soon-to-be-wife and made a face. "I wasn't here to protect you."
"We can take care of ourselves, Sammy. We did for years. Grace and I make a really good team, and now, with her angel thing, she can see shit coming."
"What happens," Sam argued, "when she's not with you?"
Serra shrugged, "The I improvise and kick ass on my own." She tilted her head, "Are you just freaking out because you've never had someone you cared about in the hunter life? You've never had someone else in this world with you?" She tilted her head, "Are you just getting a dose of the guilt your brother goes through every day?"
Serendipity took a breath, steeling herself for Sam's reaction when she spoke her mind. "Look," she adjusted her position on the bench seat and turned towards him, "Gracie has told me a lot about what she hears in Dean's mind. A lot. And most of it, before Libby, was worrying about Grace or worrying about you."
"Worrying about me," he repeated, making a face.
"Yes, asshat," she sighed, "you're his baby brother. He's had to watch you get possessed, followed around by Satan himself, drink demon blood, have a psychological wall break down and get killed over and over again. You've put your brother through the ringer."
Sam just stared at Serra, still confused.
"I think now that I'm around, you're starting to understand what Dean goes through on a semi-permanent basis. For him it's natural. He's been a father since you were six months old. This is what that kind of love and dedication feels like."
"It sucks," Sam said, sighing.
Serra nodded and raised her eyebrows. "Yep. Welcome to the real world."
They walked into the Bat Cave and Serra followed her ritual of stripping her clothes off one layer at a time. Her leather jacket found its way onto the back of one of the high-backed chairs, her boots and socks made a trail down the hall, and her belt and jeans landed somewhere outside of the kitchen. Sam smiled as he watched her walk to the kitchen in her undies and tank and pull out two bottles of beer. Closing the fridge door, she tilted a bottle towards him and raised her eyebrows.
He nodded and took her offering. They clinked the bottles together and each took a drink. "You feel better?" she asked, looking up at him.
Sam tilted his head. "Not really, but knowing you can kick that much bloodsucker ass kinda does it for me." He bent to kiss her, wrapping one arm around her waist and setting his beer down on the counter behind him.
Serendipity was quick to reciprocate, pulling him closer and wrapping both of her arms around his broad shoulders. The kissed passionately and Sam took her beer, put it next to his, and picked her up from the floor and put her on top of the counter. She pulled away, unbuttoning his flannel slowly, teasing. Undoing one button, then kissing him. Undoing another then biting his ear or his neck. It was almost more than Sam could take. His breathing became ragged and his arms tightened their grip around Serra's waist. He nuzzled her neck, pulling her close and pulled off her tank.
Finally, Serra was successful in taking off Sam's first layer. Predictably, there was another layer and Serra laughed. "Stop wearing so many clothes."
"Or I could just start stripping when I walk through the door," he replied, not missing a beat.
Serra bit down on his neck, just enough to get a gasp from Sam, "That's a great idea, do that."
Pulling her closer by her hips, Sam leaned in, between her legs and unhooked her bra, dropping it to the floor. It was over. They were all hands, pulling, teasing, and gentle biting and Sam carried her across the room towards the couch in the library. She wrapped her legs around his waist, not losing momentum. He got to the edge of the couch and dropped her down, losing his pants and joining her.
I was sweaty and out of breath and Dean panted next to me as he pushed my hair out of his face. I rolled to kiss him deeply, and he wrapped one arm around my shoulders as I lay on his chest. "I swear to God, Winchester," I gasped, "if you knocked me up again, I'll kill you."
Dean laughed and took a deep breath as I calmed my breathing. "Nah," Dean said, "Lib's still on the boob. You're fine."
I laughed, not entirely convinced, but I was too enamored with my husband to care at the moment. He rolled off the bed, heading to the bathroom that was connected to our master suite and turned on the shower. "You know," he said over the sound of the water, "we could just have Cas move in and we'd have permanent child care."
Rolling to my stomach tenderly, I watched Dean walk in and out of the bathroom as he gathered a towel and a new bar of soap from the linen closet near the door. "I don't know if he would go for that."
Dean gave me a tired grin, "You never know," he said. He could live in the basement." He felt the water for the temperature and shrugged. "We could have a basement angel."
Standing, I picked up our clothes, littered across the bedroom. "He does seem to love Lib, doesn't he?"
Nodding, Dean turned to get into the shower. I tossed the clothes into the hamper and as Dean shut the curtain to the shower, I stepped in with him. He grinned at me as I closed the curtain. "Oh, now it's a party," he said.
I grinned and raised my eyebrows, "The great state of Kansas is at the height of a drought, sir," I kissed him and let the spray hit my back, "I'm helping conserve water."
"That's a good answer," he replied, wrapping himself around me again.
Twenty minutes later, I walked back downstairs, smiling when I got to the bottom and seeing Cas walking a cooing Liberty around the room. He was talking to her in hushed, rough tones, his gravelly voice telling her about wildflowers and bees in Tuscany.
"If you go at the right time, tiny Winchester," he was saying, "all of the colors of the rainbow are seen on the same hills."
Liberty raspberried in response, flapping her arms, delighted.
"I feel the same way," Castiel said, smiling gently. He turned, sensing my pleasure at watching the two of them and flushed, embarrassed. "I was describing the hills of Italy," he said quickly, "she has experienced very little so far in her life."
Laughing, I reached for her. She saw me and stretched her tiny arms towards me as well. "I'm glad you're catching her up," I told Cas. "Thanks for watching her."
Cas nodded, "I enjoyed my time with her. I'll be back in the morning."
With that, he disappeared with a swoosh of his wings.
I walked Libby upstairs as she nuzzled into my chest, cuddling as she did when I held her against my chest. I got to our bedroom and whispered, "Let's say goodnight to Daddy."
Dean lay on our bed; face down, in his boxers. He heard me come in with our daughter and he rolled with his hands in the air. "Come here, beautiful," he said. She saw Dean and squealed, kicking her legs and flexing her fingers. I handed her to Dean, picked my towel up off the floor and wrapped my hair with it.
He laid Liberty on his bare chest, stroking her hair and talking to her in a low voice. She did her best to hold her head up to stare at him, green eyes on green. "Hey, there Libby girl," Dean was saying, "Were you just touched by an angel?" I chuckled under my breath as he continued. "It's a good thing mom's 50/50…you're used to it already."
I hung the towel on the hook behind the door and turned off the lights as I joined them on the bed. I watched Dean with our daughter and fell even deeper in love with him than I already was. He was a natural at everything he did. I laid back on the pillows and tried to untangle my wet hair with my fingers, gave up, and closed my eyes. In the corner of my subconscious, I could hear Dean start humming Smoke on the Water as I drifted off to sleep.
Dean was waking me again before I knew it. It was still dark, but I knew it was time to get up for our trek to Jaeger's. Liberty was asleep in the middle of our bed, arms above her head in a perfect baby-lay. Dean padded around the room, gathering everything we needed for the day and I struggled to drag myself up.
I pulled on my jeans and looked for a top while Dean pulled extra ammo from the top of our closet. He also tossed me another angel blade and my .38. I put the blade in the ankle holster inside my boot and pulled on one of Dean's old shoulder holsters for the .38. Bending to kiss Liberty on the forehead, I adjusted the pillows on either side of her to keep her from rolling and stroked her hair. Dean kissed her head as well and whispered to her as I put on a flannel and a jacket. We grabbed our bags and headed downstairs.
Castiel was already standing in the middle of the living room, waiting for us to appear. "Hey, Cas," I yawned, "thanks for being here."
He nodded in acknowledgment. "You're welcome, Grace, but I feel the need to remind you that if I am here with Liberty, that means I am unavailable for you, should you need me."
"I know, Cas, thanks. It's okay. I think we'll be fine," I said, eyeing Dean as he walked past me. "I don't think Jaeger will be anything we can't handle."
Under his breath, Dean commented, "Especially after taking care of a coven of vamps."
Castiel pursed his lips. "Agreed."
"Lib's upstairs in our bed," I said as Dean opened the door, "she'll wake up hungry, but I there's a bunch of fresh bottles in the fridge. If you have to, go to the frozen milk on the top shelf of the freezer. Warm it all the same way." Dean was herding me out the door, so I spoke quickly, "She'll nap twice…once in the morning, once in the afternoon. Call if you need anything!"
Cas nodded and smiled as Dean closed the door behind us. Right on time, Serra and Sam pulled up in her truck. "You ready?" Sam called out the window.
Dean nodded, "Yeah, let's go get this sonofabitch."
Serra and Sam closed up the truck and we all headed towards the Impala. Dean hesitated, thinking about his plan of action. "You think we should take Baby? Or will he know we're coming?"
I shrugged at him and glanced at Sam, "I dunno, you guys know him a lot better than we do."
Sam frowned, raising his eyebrows in thought. "If we come up in the Impala, maybe he'll think we're there to talk shop? He did send us after the coven. Maybe he'll think we're just coming to grab a beer with him or something."
Dean looked from me to Serra. She shrugged and nodded, "That sounds about right. He won't know we're with you guys, I mean, unless he's staring down the highway with a scope."
Chuckling, Sam answered, "It's a distinct possibility."
"Impala," I said with finality. "He'll be paranoid if a bright purple Chevelle comes up his driveway."
Dean nodded and opened the door to his car. We got in, steeling ourselves for a fight.
It only took us about an hour to travel the seventy miles between our house and Jaeger's. Dean slowed to a crawl as we got off the highway and turned onto private land. He and Sam had briefed Serra and I about Jaeger and his over confident nature. I planned on using that to our advantage, if necessary. Stopping the car, Dean looked over at me in the passenger seat. "Here's you chance, Blondie. What can you hear?"
I closed my eyes and listened, extending myself as far as I could towards the house. I could sense at least two people inside, calm and relaxed. There was no fear of the Impala nor from any of its passengers. I didn't feel that he even knew we were there.
Shaking my head, I glanced back at Dean. "Nothing. He doesn't know we're here." I closed my eyes again, feeling as much as I could, "He's talking to someone, though. I can't get a good read on the other person, though. It's like there's a wall."
"Another vampire?" Serra asked from the back seat. "You couldn't hear their thoughts the other night, either."
I tilted my head, "Maybe," I said, taking a deep breath. "I can't be sure from here. I don't know what I'm looking for."
Dean began the trek down the dirt road to Jaeger's front door and I heard the telltale sounds of loading pistols from the back seat. I turned to evaluate my sister. Her thoughts were calm and her heart rate was relaxed. She looked up and smiled at me, barely feeling the nerves of the oncoming confrontation. Dean was at ease as well, his breathing was normal and his eyes flitted back and forth from me to the road ahead of him.
Sam was a different story. He was full of anxiety as he loaded his weapon and glanced at his fiancé. I knew he was worried about Serendipity, and since our vampire fight, his protective instincts had increased exponentially. I wondered if it would have just been simpler to leave him out of the truth about what happened that night. Serra put a hand on his thigh, feeling his apprehension as well but she grinned. She whispered something in his ear that I accidentally heard, being so emotionally extended. "I found a couple of bite marks on my neck," she told him, "under my hair."
Sam's lips turned in a sly smile and he flushed, a slight redness rushing to his face. Sam leaned back towards Serra and I tried not to listen, but as tuned up as I was, I could hear everyone's thoughts as clearly as my own. "I'll put some more there, later," he growled into her ear and she giggled.
I shook my head and said, "Alright, calm down back there." Sam and Serra cleared their throats and continued loading guns. Sam's anxiety seemed to lessen and we pulled in front of the house.
The boys approached the house first: Dean's gun was loaded and shoved into the back of his jeans. Sam held his gun behind his back, ready for anything. We stood behind them, hiding ourselves behind the size of our mates. My angel blade was hidden up my jacket sleeve and Serendipity had her 1911 in her hand, ready for a fight.
Dean glanced behind him and lifted his eyebrows at me, Ready? I nodded. Turning back to the door and leaning forward, he thudded his fist on the door, "Jaeger?" he shouted. "You home?"
The curtains moved slightly as Jaeger's face came to the window. He saw Dean and Sam's faces and his eyes went wide. "He's scared," I whispered to Dean's back. "He just thought, 'holy shit.'"
He nodded to acknowledge me and popped his neck. Come on out, you bastard. Otherwise I'm coming in. For a moment, I pitied Jaeger. Dean was tender with me and Liberty, but when someone crossed him…well, there was no coming back from that.
We heard the sounds of locks being undone and chains being removed. The door came open the tiniest bit and Jaeger peeked through the tiny crack. "Hey, Dean, man," he said nervously, "Hiya, Sam. What's going on? You, uh, you get those vamps already?"
"Why don't you invite us in and we'll tell you all about it," Dean growled, taking a step towards the door. Jaeger backed away and his thoughts raced, searching for anything to say to my husband to make him slow down. As Dean approached, he stepped to the side to reveal me standing behind him.
Jaeger and I made eye contact and I heard only one thought, How the fuck are you still breathing?
Dean turned to gauge my reaction. I set my jaw, gritting my teeth and nodded once at him. That was enough for Dean. Slamming the door open with a blade in his hand, Jaeger scrambled away from him as he strode into the room. As soon as he was in, Sam was right behind him, ready to assist. Serra and I followed and I searched for the second body that I knew was in the house with him. I was beginning to think that Serra was right…I could almost smell him. Another vampire.
"No, no, no," Dean was saying, "don't leave so soon, Jaeger. We just got here." Jaeger scrambled away from him, tripping over a rug to reveal the Devil's Trap painted beneath it. Jaeger's movements were sporadic, panicked. Shit, shit, shit, he was thinking, fourteen! I sent fourteen.
"Dean," I said, "he's panicked. Doesn't understand how we're alive because he sent fourteen."
Whipping around to face the other hunter, Dean rushed him and threw everything into the punch that sent Jaeger to the ground. Standing above him, Sam was examining the room. "Where's the other vamp?" Sam demanded, getting into fight mode, "We know he's here."
"Fuck you," Jaeger spat, wiping the blood from his nose as he tried to get up.
Using the toe of his boot, Dean turned Jaeger's face towards him, "Watch your mouth. You'll want to stay conscious for the line of questions we've got set up."
Dean glared at Jaeger as he glanced around nervously at the four of us. Sam started first, "What the hell were you thinking? Why did you send the coven to kill them?"
Jaeger was already shaking his head, unwilling to say what was on his mind. We're hunters, fucktards. You're married to a freak.
"He called you a very unkind word. And called me a freak," I said, deadpan. I watched as surprise took over Jaeger's face, "It's really an accurate description," I continued, "I am a freak of nature. There's only one of me, you know."
He was shaking his head in disbelief, "You can read minds?"
"I can do a lot more than that," I answered, smiling. Cas was right. The more I allowed my abilities to take control of my body and mind, the more I could do with them. I pointed to the back of the house, "The other vampire is in the back, trying to get the storm cellar open."
Sam took off towards the back of the house and I could hear a scuffle as Sam overtook the other vampire. A crash and broken glass suggested that Sam had put his head through a window. Moments later, Sam was dragging an unconscious vampire back into the main living space, Jaeger's face white with terror.
"Look, man. Dean," he pleaded as he turned back towards my husband, "please. I'm just trying to make an honest buck or two."
"Someone hired you to kill her?" he asked, disbelieving. "Who?" Pinching his lips together into a tight line, Jaeger shook his head. Serra took a step forward, raising her Colt to Jaeger's face. Dean nodded his approval and turned back to the hunter on the floor. "Who, Jaeger? Answer in thirty or I'll let her start with your knees." Serra shifted her aim to Jaeger's left leg. "She's a good shot, so you'll need some kind of surgery after the bullet rips through your patella."
I don't know his name, he thought, desperately, he's called a bunch of us.
I sighed, "If you said it out loud, I wouldn't have to translate for you." Dean shot me a look. I gestured to the man on the ground, "He doesn't know his name. Says that the guy called a bunch of hunters."
Sam gestured with his gun. "Get on with it," he said, "get to the details."
The vampire stirred from across the room and Sam walked towards him, handcuffing him to the radiator and pulling out a medical injector from his interior pocket. Serra watched him and shook her head, "Wait, Sammy. Gracie's got him."
I nodded at Sam, walking towards the vampire at his feet. I smiled sarcastically at him, saying, "I can burn you to death from the inside. Please don't move. We'd like to question you next."
Serra snorted from her position near Jaeger, "You sound like a flight attendant."
Jaeger sat up, facing Dean, "Look, Dean," he began, beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead, "this guy called about a week ago. He knew everything about me…where I lived, who I talked to, what I ate for dinner. The dude knew how I peed, man."
"He told me about her," he continued, glancing up at me, "said that she was a problem. That she upset the balance between heaven and hell."
"Upset the balance?" Sam asked, making a face, "What the hell does that even mean?"
Jaeger shook his head, "I don't know, but he said that the angels were siding with the Winchesters and it was an unfair situation."
"This is fucking ridiculous," Dean muttered, "get to the point. You tried to kill my wife." Dean paused, making a face. "My daughter was there."
For the first time, Jaeger seemed genuinely surprised, "Daughter?" His eyes flicked from Dean to me and back, "Since when do you have a kid?"
"Since about seven weeks ago," Dean said, dangerously low, "and she was there. Fourteen fucking vampires were in my house, near my newborn daughter."
Jaeger was shaking. "Dean. Please."
"Dean…" Sam warned, "get a name."
"I don't know his name!" Jaeger shouted, "I don't know anything else about him! He was going to pay me fifteen grand to get the job done."
The vampire turned and snarled at Jaeger, "Fifteen? You told us he was paying you ten."
"Oh, the truth comes out," Dean said, pulling out his angel blade and using it to pull Jaeger's chin up. Blood dripped from the end of the knife, making a splatter pattern across his shirt. The vampire gasped as the smell of the blood hit the air. "Be careful, man. I heard the smell of this stuff really drives 'em wild."
I backed away slightly from the bloodthirsty creature at my feet. The fear rolling out of Jaeger's mind was uncontrolled. There was no more information to get from him. He was useless. I took another step back from the vamp as he lunged at Jaeger. "Wait!" Jaeger cried, "wait, he…he had an accent! Like a British accent!"
"Stop," I said, halting the vampire in his tracks, "an accent?"
Pleased that he had given information that seemed valuable, the hunter smiled. "Yeah, yeah, like a British or Scottish accent. But I never met him. Not face to face."
Sam tilted his head, thinking the same line of thought as Dean that I didn't understand. They both thought one word at the same time, Crowley.
"Who the hell is Crowley?" I asked, looking from brother to brother. "Another hunter?"
Dean brought Crowley's face into his mind and I tilted my head. I had no recollection of the man whatsoever. I shook my head, "I need more, Dean."
"He's the King of Hell," Sam said, "we go way back."
"He's the Devil?"
Dean shook his head and held out his hand. I took it and watched the memories fly by…memories of Dean as a demon, together with Crowley. He showed me The Mark of Cain and The First Blade, Crowley smiling and drinking with him. I knew the basis of Dean's short time as a demon, but I had no idea that he had been close to this man in the suit.
"Crowley hired you to kill us?" Serra asked, doubtful. "Why?"
Jaeger shrugged, "I have no idea."
Dean threw me a look and sighed. "Then you're no good to me," he said. Dean gestured to him and walked away. The vampire quivered from my hold on his impulse. I turned away from him, letting his brain have free range. The bloodlust returned and the vampire attacked with a vengeance. As he fed on Jaeger, I reached out to his head and closed my eyes. Dean turned back to us and watched as the vampire burned from the inside and lit the room in a blinding light. Jaeger's screams died down and Sam stepped forward to take over. "I got him, Sere."
"No you don't," she said. "He hired fourteen vamps to kill us. I think I'll kill him, thanks."
Still conscious, his eyes went wide as she fired three times. Once into his chest and twice into his brain, silencing his panic with finality.
Serra lowered her gun and took a deep breath. Without a word, she turned on her heel and walked back out of the house.
We drove the seventy miles back to our house in silence, immersed in our own thoughts. I was listening to Dean as he ran through the possibilities of why Crowley would want my head on a platter and he kept coming to the same conclusion: the boys had given The First Blade to Castiel to hide instead of Crowley. There had been some type of betrayal that wasn't entirely sure that I understood.
Sam's thinking was the same linear path as his brother's and I couldn't help but wonder if it had to do with me as well. My family had a history of making bad decisions when it came to our futures, and when we were figuring out how I came into existence in Louisiana on our honeymoon last year, I had read about my mother considering making a Crossroads Deal in order to conceive me. Crowley had begun his career as a Crossroads Demon. It couldn't be just a coincidence.
Serra reached her hand over the seat behind me and put her hand on my shoulder, bare except for my tank top. The connection was immediate: my sister's thoughts flowed through my brain as a steady stream of consciousness. We could communicate completely telepathically now; even my thoughts could cross into her mind.
I remember reading about Mom thinking about making a deal with a Crossroads Demon in Dad's journal, Serra thought. What if it's the same guy? Do you remember his name?
I shook my head, No. I just remember the Crossroads part. Mom and Dad made some piss poor decisions.
I know, Serra agreed, but if this is the guy that wants you dead, it seems weird that he would target us for something that was decades ago.
That was decades ago, yeah, but the most recent betrayal was right before we met the boys. Serra was confused and I realized that she couldn't hear what Sam and Dean were thinking. The Crossroads deal isn't what the boys are thinking about. They don't know anything about it. Apparently, Crowley is pissed at Dean because he gave Cas The First Blade instead of him. Now, taking it out on us seems like the easiest thing to do.
A jolt of realization hit Serra's mind, the pieces falling into place. What, so he's gonna kill you to get back at Dean?
Pretty much, I agreed. Considering that the vamps didn't know about Liberty, I don't think Crowley does either. That's a piece of the puzzle that we need to keep to ourselves. If Crowley gets a hold of that information, Dean will declare war.
Serra nodded, taking her hand away from my shoulder. Dean caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and gestured with his head, "Are you two trading secrets about us?"
Shaking my head, I replied, "Nah, we're trying to figure out what Crowley would want with the two of us. You and Sammy are on the right path, though, I think. The First Blade seems to be a touchy situation with everyone, but until I can get a read on this guy, I'm not going to be able to know the truth."
"You're not going to be anywhere close to Crowley," Dean said, a low growl. "This bastard has gone a step too far. Take it out on me anytime you want, but get my wife and kid involved and we're gonna have some problems."
I sighed, allowing Dean to have his moment of vengeance, but I knew deep down that he needed us in the fight that was coming. We rolled into the dirt road that led up to our house and Dean parked the Impala next to Serra's truck. Cas was sitting in the rocker on the porch with Liberty in his arms, obviously knowing that we were approaching.
Dean grabbed the bags out of the trunk and I jogged up the steps and reached for my daughter. Castiel was beaming; so happy with his ability to care for a human infant. Lib squealed in delight at seeing me, flexing her fingers and opening her mouth, spittle hanging from her bottom lip. "Hi, pretty girl!" I greeted her, "Cas did a good job! You're so happy!"
Castiel nodded in appreciation. "She is challenging at times," he said, his eyebrows furrowed in seriousness, "I am unable to discern the difference in having a soiled diaper and hunger. She is unable to tell me what she needs. I spent a lot of time guessing."
Dean clapped him on the back as he climbed the steps behind him, "Yeah, welcome to parenthood," he chuckled. "You'll spend the next eighteen years guessing."
"Thanks Cas," I said, bouncing Libby as Dean took the bags inside.
He nodded once in response and raised his eyebrows. "Jaeger?"
I shook my head, flashing through the memories for Castiel's benefit. He watched quietly as I sent the images through his brain. When I was finished, his blue eyes pierced through mine. "What, Cas?"
"Crowley hired Jaeger?"
I nodded, wiping Liberty's spittle off of my chest, "That's what we thought, too. Why?" I glanced back up towards the angel, but with a swoosh of his wings, he was gone.
Serra and Sam had thrown their own duffels into the bed of her truck. From the ground, Serra called, "Where'd Cas go?"
Shrugging, I answered over Libby's squeals, "I dunno. He asked about Crowley hiring the Jaeger-slash-the-vampires and I agreed with him and he was gone."
Sam glanced from me to my sister and raised his eyebrows, "Should we be concerned?"
"I hope not," I said as Dean came out onto the porch. He came up behind me and took Liberty from my arms as she kicked and sucked on her fist. I turned towards my husband. "Should we be concerned that Cas jumped ship after we brought up Crowley?"
"You told him?"
Nodding, I put my hands on my hips, "Yeah, I fed him memories."
Dean hesitated, using the time to stare and smile at Lib. "What did he do?"
Sam and Serra headed back to the Bat Cave soon after that and I followed Dean and Libby into the house, the screen door slamming behind me. Dean held Libby against his hip, her chubby face towards me as he threw empty baby bottles into the sink. He opened the fridge, grabbed a beer and opened it at the bottle opener near the garage door with one hand.
"There any more milk in the freezer?" I asked, picking up the rattle I had stepped on and threw it into Libby's toy basket. Dean glanced up at me and set his beer on the countertop, turning to open the freezer.
He shook his head, "Nope. Hungry hippo today."
"Awesome," I said sarcastically. I am getting really tired of nursing.
Dean picked up his beer and walked out into the living room and sat in the chair opposite me. He leaned Lib against his chest, still facing away from him so she could see me, and allowed her to inspect his fingers. Leaning back in the chair, he took a swig of beer and tilted his head as Libby began gnawing on his thumb. "Tell me about your dad making a deal."
The question caught me off guard, which was hard to do. I watched Liberty momentarily before I answered, remembering the week of my twentieth birthday. The week my family had been torn apart more than it could ever come back from: the week we lost our father.
Dean was patient with me as I flashed to the past. It would be easier if I had stood and walked across the room and simply fed him the memories I was reliving, but I could sense that Dean wanted to hear me tell it. He wasn't looking to be cruel, but I knew that walking through the story with my husband, we would be able to stitch together our two lifelines. I knew, especially after the dream I had recently, that our lives intertwined decades ago, if only for a wink.
"I didn't know it then," I started, smiling at Liberty as she reacted to the sound of my voice, "but I know Dad made a deal and got twenty years for it to play out." Dean scooted farther into the pillows of the chair, preparing to hear my story. He pulled Libby up against him and cradled her into his body, gently stroking the bottoms of her tiny feet absentmindedly. She was fighting sleep, but against the warmth of her Daddy, the fight was already lost.
Continuing, I leaned back, too, closing my eyes. "The only thing I knew for sure before I read the journals was that Mom had a really hard time getting pregnant with me. I was conceived by 'the grace of God,' as you remember from last year." Dean nodded, following along. "Reading the journals, I figured out that Mom almost died giving birth to me, and I'm guessing that's when he made the deal."
"Come on out, fucker!" Truman Browning shouted at the top of his lungs. He clenched his fists with rage and felt the tightness of the plastic hospital bracelet against his wrist, reminding him how little time he had, "I know the spell works!"
"Such language, Mr. Browning," a voice came over the mist, "you'll wake the bloody neighborhood."
Tru whipped around, straining to see through the darkness. "Show yourself," he said into the night. "I don't have all fucking night."
A man stepped into the light of the streetlamp and smiled coyly. "It's nice to meet you. I've heard so much about the Browning family already."
"Skip the bullshit, I'm out of time," he spat, hating himself for going this far. "Are you here to make a deal or not?"
The bearded man tilted his head, curious. "That's what I do," he purred. "I like that we got right to the point, skipping all of the pleasantries." He clicked his tongue, disappointed. Sighing, he asked, "What kind of deal can I interest you in?"
"Save my wife and child."
The man smiled and took a step closer. Truman backed up, unwilling to be that close to a monster. All his life, he had done everything in his power to avoid interactions like the one he had chosen tonight. Being involved in a deal with the devil was hardly something to be proud of, but here he was. Tru was hunter, like his father before him, but the lives of his wife and unborn child hung in the balance. He was desperate. "Two lives," the demon said, putting his hands in his pants pocket, "will be difficult to pull off."
"I don't care how hard it will be," Tru pleaded, "please. Just let them both live."
The demon in the suit took one last step towards Truman, a smile visible in the moonlight, "I'm sure we can work something out."
The moon crept across the sky as they discussed the details of the contract. Truman had no idea how complicated it was to make a deal with a Crossroads Demon, but he was quickly learning the ropes. The bearded demon finally smiled, "I think we have the details worked out. Your wife gets another ten years, testing the Fates, might I add, and your daughter can live until a ripe old age. Untouched by me." Truman nodded as the demon described the details of the contract, agreeing to the painful facet of his wife's early demise. "Then it's just the issue of your payment," he said, smiling.
The demon grinned, doubling over with sarcastic laughter, "Are you kidding? My typical contracts are ten!"
"If you don't like it, give my wife back her time and switch it with mine," Tru answered. "My daughter will need someone to take care of her."
"No deal. Your little wife should have died at least twice already, and she always seems to weasel her way out," he said, stern. "No deal. Evangeline gets ten more years, and then she's mine."
"Then I get at least twenty," Truman replied, holding his ground. "Twenty years to make sure she's taken care of before I'm gone."
The Crossroads Demon took a deep breath and evaluated Truman. "Fine. Ten for Evie and twenty for you."
Tru took a deep, ragged breath, holding back a sob, but nodded, agreeing to the terms. He held out his hand. "Deal," he said quietly.
The demon smiled, extending his hand as well. There was a flash of light as they shook hands and words, carved into Truman's flesh, crawled up his arm as he gasped in pain. "The deals of the contract are spelled out for you there."
Glaring, Truman set his jaw. "It was a…pleasure, I suppose, mister…"
"Crowley," the demon grinned, "King of the Crossroads."
Truman's 1971 Chevelle squealed to a stop in the handicapped parking spot he pulled into and barely taking the time to slam the door behind him, he broke out into a run towards the hospital doors. The elevator was taking too long, so he bounded up the emergency exit steps, two at a time and went barreling past the nurses of the maternity ward.
He skidded to a stop outside of his wife's room, where she looked up and smiled at him, holding a tiny creature, wrapped in pink blankets. Sweaty and gasping for air, he said only one word, "Evangeline."
"Grace," she said, looking up at him with tears in her eyes. "This is Grace."
Gently, Tru walked around the bed to get closer to his wife. He touched her face with both of his hands, tears coming to his eyes. "You're okay."
Evangeline nodded, weeping as well, "During surgery, the doctor told me that the bleeding stopped. He said it was a miracle."
His eyes flicked to his exposed arm, remembering the words that had scrawled up them, not fifteen minutes before. They were no where to be found, but Truman knew that they would be etched there, under his skin, for the next twenty years, reminding him of the deal he made with Crowley. He vowed right then and there, that his wife and daughter would never discover what he had done. It went against everything he was as a hunter…and Evangeline would never forgive him for it.
"It was a miracle, Evie," he said, a tear dripping down onto the baby's head. "She's a miracle, too."
"By the grace of God," Evangeline whispered. She kissed her newborn daughter's face as Truman leaned down to hug the both of them. "She's perfect."
Years passed quickly for the Browning family. Too quickly in Truman's eyes, considering the deal he made with the Crossroads Demon was always in the back of his mind. Evangeline got pregnant again, this time, the pregnancy was completely a surprise, and he was blessed with his lucky charm, Serendipity, when Grace turned five. He watched his daughters grow, and though he tried to avoid it, they both quickly learned everything there was to know about being hunters and how to defend themselves as well. Grace could shoot what she aimed for, dismantle and reassemble a gun, identify and fight too many monsters to list and live on the road with the best of them before she was seven years old. Serendipity was quick to catch on as well, a faster draw than Grace and a more accurate shot.
Nine years passed like a flash and Truman became more and more paranoid as time went on. He knew Evie's days were numbered and over and over again, he berated himself for being so stupid to make a deal with his wife's life without telling her. It seemed so unfair now, losing her when the girls were so young. Serra was only five, just beginning school and doing her best to fit in with the rest of the kindergartners in Lawrence, Kansas. Evie noticed a shift in his personality and was hesitant to bring it up, knowing somewhere in the back of her mind, what Tru had done that night in June, the night of Grace's birth.
She finally brought it up one night after the girls were tucked in bed, in the upstairs bedrooms of their new house. "Tru?"
He husband turned to look at her, still stirring the pot of water on the stove. He was adding salt in abundance while he stirred, lowering the flame on the pot to simmer. "Yeah, Eve?"
Evangeline sat on the barstool behind her, facing her husband, searching for the words. "I wanted you to know how much I love you."
Putting the wooden spoon down on the counter next to him, he smiled gently and walked to where Evie was perched. He reached for her face with both of his hands, kissing her tenderly. "I love you, too," he said, his eyes searching hers for the true meaning of her words.
"Everything you did for us," Evie continued, "it was for the good of the girls."
Truman nodded slowly, realizing that Evangeline must know. He hadn't a clue how she found out…he wasn't even writing in the hunt journals anymore, for fear that she would read something about her upcoming fate. "Everything," he whispered, tears coming to his eyes.
"You'll be okay," Evangeline continued, "and Gracie and Serra will be fine. They're so smart. And they can take care of themselves, if they have to."
Nodding again, Truman sobbed as he wrapped his wife into an embrace, "I'm so sorry, Evie."
"I know," she whispered back, "it's okay. It'll be okay."
Watching from the top of the stairs, Grace furrowed her eyebrows. She silently stood at the banister rail and watched her parents hug and cry. The emotions from both of them was almost more than she could bear, her eyes filling with uncontrolled tears…the fear she felt wasn't hers: it rolled off of her father in waves.
"When are they coming?" Evie asked into Tru's shoulder, still embracing. Unwilling to answer, he only hugged her tighter. "Not long, then?" Evangeline pulled away and tilted her head at her husband, "Less than a year?"
Truman only nodded, another tear dripping down his cheek.
"Okay," Evie sighed. "Okay. It'll be fine. We'll be fine." She wiped her face and turned away from Truman. "We'll spend as long as we can together, we'll prep the girls as much as we can; teach them everything we know. And we'll write it down."
He stayed silent, listening to the calm, comforting words from his wife. She glanced up at him, suspicious. "What else aren't you telling, Tru?"
His eyes watered again, "Please forgive me."
"What Tru? Tell me."
Covering his face with his hands, he leaned on the counter as he answered, "They'll take me, too."
Evangeline stared at her husband in disbelief. "When?" she managed, her forehead creasing in confusion. He hesitated again and she demanded, firmer this time, "When, Truman? How much longer do you get?"
"Another ten," he whispered.
"Our girls will be orphans?" Evie asked, covering her mouth, "Serra will only be fifteen, Tru."
He cried openly then and Grace used the opportunity to move as quietly as she could back to her room, tears coming to her eyes. Her parents would die, sooner than she expected. She and Serendipity would be alone, having no other living family. She promised herself then and there: she wouldn't grow up to be a hunter, she decided. The tragedies that the Browning family faced would stop with her parents. I won't be like them, she thought, angry, and I won't let Serra either. We're out.
Moments later, she could hear her mother climb the flight of stairs, hearing the telltale squeak of the top step. She came down the hall and peeked into Grace's room. "I love you, Gracie. More than anything I love you girls."
Feigning sleep, Grace didn't respond, but held her position on her side, facing away from the door. A tear dripped onto her pillow silently, and she fought the urge to run to her mother. Her mother couldn't know that she knew about her parents' fate. It would destroy her. Grace mouthed, "I love you too, Momma," as the ray of light disappeared as her mother closed her bedroom door.
Six months later, at a rest stop in Idaho, Serra and Grace heard their mother scream from the woods. Running as fast as they could back towards their family's car, Grace saw her father fall to his knees and weep openly, covering his face with his hands. Grace knew immediately what had happened and turned to hug Serra tightly. She closed her eyes and stood with her sister, burying the feelings she experienced, forcing the new memories as far away as she could.
The first time Truman left the girls alone, Grace was twelve and Serra was seven. They were staying at a cabin in the woods of Montana, hunting a pack of werewolves that had ravaged the nearby town. Truman began his speech about safety, handing Grace his .38 Special and Serra a six-inch deer knife. "Girls, I know this is the first time you've been left alone on a hunt, but if this pack catches wind of you two, they chase and kill first. They know kids are easy prey."
Grace nodded, checking the rounds in the .38. "I know, Daddy."
Sitting next to her on the couch, Serra nodded as well. "We'll be okay." Grace nodded, standing protectively next to her sister.
"Shoot first," Tru said, staring into his eldest daughter's eyes.
She answered reflexively, "ask questions later."
Together, they finished, "And take care of Serra."
With that, her father grabbed his backpack and headed out the door. "I love you two," he said, shutting it behind him. "Bolt the door, Gracie."
She obliged, turning the deadbolt and shutting the hotel lock at the top. She listened as her father's footsteps pounded away. The Chevelle started up and peeled out in the dirt, spraying tiny rocks against the wooden door. Gracie listened as her father drove away and she glanced at her sister. "Come on, Sere," she said, reaching for her sister's hand. "I'm hungry."
"Daddy said to stay put," Serra responded, setting the knife on the table.
Grace tilted her head, making a face, "Then he should have stayed with us." She unlocked the door and grabbed her bag, "Come on. There's a diner about a mile from here. I'll get you some mac and cheese and ice cream."
Serra thought for a few seconds and nodded. "Deal," she said, walking out of the cabin, "but if Dad asks, we were here the whole time."
"Of course we were," Grace responded, locking the door behind her and stuffing the .38 into her satchel. "I'm not stupid."
The girls headed down the same road that their father drove off down, holding hands. Grace let her senses take charge as her sister's thoughts finished running through Grace's brain. It was only recently that she could hear Serra through touch, and momentarily she wondered if their father knew about it, and if he would have hunted her, if she weren't his daughter. Serra was the only one she could hear, and pleading with herself on a daily basis, she prayed that Serra would remain the only one.
They arrived at the diner twenty minutes later and walked passed a black car that looked a lot like her father's. She furrowed her brow momentarily, wondering what kind of Chevy it was, and they climbed the steps to the diner together. A bell above Serra's head rang as they walked through the door and the hostess walked up to them, smiling with yellow teeth. Grace made a face as she greeted them.
"Hi, sweetheart," the hostess said, too close. "Where're your parents?"
Serra sighed. This happened constantly, people questioning why two girls under thirteen would be out by themselves. "Our mother's dead," Serra spat, "and Dad's on a hunt. Can we be seated, please?"
Grace smiled apologetically. "Sorry," she whispered as Serra began her walk to the empty booth in the back of the restaurant. "She's angry a lot."
The hostess returned my smile and patted my shoulder. "It's okay, honey. I'll bring you some pop."
"Thanks," I said, sitting down with my sister. As soon as she was out of earshot, I whispered to Serra, "You've gotta tone it down. There's a fine line between bitchy and needy. We want free food, not social services."
Serra nodded at me, rolling her eyes. "I know where the line is," she whispered back. "Let me do my thing."
Grace pressed her lips together, struggling to be patient with her little sister. Getting a free meal was easier when Serra was younger. They were getting to the point where Grace was almost old enough to hold a job (at least it looked like she was: developing early wasn't exactly her fault) and Serra was getting to that bratty pre-teen stage. This, Grace knew, would be the most challenging part of their lives: too young to be completely independent, but too old to manipulate for handouts.
A tall man with dark hair and eyes in jeans and a flannel walked by, two boys similar to Grace and Serra's age trailing behind him. Grace watched them move with the same quick eye flicks and careful observation that Grace had learned from leading a hunter's life with her father. They stopped at the counter to pay for their food, the older boy glancing around while he waited. He reached up to smooth the back of his hair and Grace caught a glimpse of a small revolver shoved into the back of his pants, under his jacket. She moved closer to her sister protectively. If other hunters were in town, this was a bigger werewolf pack than her father had anticipated.
The younger boy checked his pockets and searched around on the floor next to him. He was looking for something. He leaned towards his brother, whispering into his ear and then pointed back to the booth they came from. The father finished paying and turned to leave. The older boy gestured with his thumb to the back of the restaurant and the father nodded. He turned towards the door, heading to wait outside for his eldest son. As the boy strode past, Grace smiled gently at him. It was rare to see two families of hunters in such close proximity to each other. He caught her eye, gave her the once-over that she expected and winked as he brushed by.
Serra caught their interaction, though it happened so quickly, and made a face. "Ew, why are you smiling at that kid?"
"Because he's cute," Grace replied, pushing her sister away. "You're too young to understand."
"Gimme a break," she said under her breath. "He's just looking at your boobs."
He walked past again, glancing towards Grace again, carrying the Lego-created car that his brother had obviously left behind. Grace followed his gaze, blinking her blue eyes. She had seen plenty of other boys that she found attractive, but never did she feel drawn to one as she did to him. Almost looking like he wanted to stop and greet her, he hesitated, pulling the collar of his denim jacket around his neck. He took another step, but Grace and Serra's waitress appeared, throwing off his line of sight. He lost his nerve, turned on a booted heel and was gone out the door before Grace had a chance to do anything.
"What can I get you ladies?" the waitress said, getting out a notepad.
Grace sighed the breath she was holding and went back to staring at the menu as Serra gave her order. The bell jingled again as the smaller boy followed his brother out of the restaurant and they both climbed into the black Chevy that Serra and Grace had passed on the way in. With a rumble, the engine started up and Grace watched through the window as it pulled away.
Dean tilted his head at me, setting his empty beer bottle down on the table next to him. Libby was asleep in his arm, lying back with her arms draped over her head, snoring slightly.
"Your parents were both gone by the time you were twenty," he said, shaking his head, "So, I'm guessing that your dad got twenty years on the contract?"
I nodded, laying my head back on the couch cushion behind me. "I guess," I said, "but again, neither one of them wrote the details down. I'm just guessing, from what I remember about what I heard from my dad's thoughts. I remember Mom being taken in Idaho, but until recently, I didn't remember why. It's like I blocked it out."
Dean nodded, "That's a lot of shit to deal with when you're ten," he said quietly. "I can't believe that he bargained with her life."
I shrugged. "Honestly, babe. If I knew that Lib would be safe, I would probably throw you into the deal too." I took a deep breath, raising my shoulders into a slow shrug. "Whatever it took to keep her safe."
He sighed, glancing down at our sleeping daughter. "It's amazing what parents will do for their kids, right?" Looking back up to me, he grimaced, "Mine burned to death on the ceiling because she wouldn't walk away from the demon in Sam's room."
Tears came to my eyes, picturing it. Dean hadn't seen his mother die, but he had seen Sam's old girlfriend go through the same horrendous death and I knew he painted the picture in his mind with what he saw over ten years ago. I watched his memories as they flipped through his mind. Holding a six-month-old Sam while he watched his home burn. Seeing his father collapse to his knees, much the same way mine had when the Hell Hounds came to collect my mother. My husband and I shared so many similarities in our past. Glancing at Liberty, I remembered the promise I made to myself when I was ten. I'll never be a hunter. I'll never put my kids through what my parents put us through. I'll get out.
I was so disappointed with myself. I had failed miserably, and I hoped with every fiber of my being that I wouldn't put Liberty through the same turmoil and emotional trauma that our parents had put Dean and I through. It had to end with us.
"So if your dad fronted his own soul to Crowley in addition to your mom's, how did he collect?" Dean asked, adjusting Liberty's position, pulling her up onto his chest, belly down. She curled into him; the warmth from his body was comforting. "Did he send the Hell Hounds? Or did Crowley show up himself?"
I was shaking my head before he finished the question. "They never got the chance," I said, it was the week of my twentieth birthday, and the apocalypse had begun. There were flash floods and random F5 tornadoes. Earthquakes in the middle of Nebraska. Shit was going down," I said.
Dean nodded, remembering. "Yeah, I remember. I was there."
I chuckled. "Yeah. My dad was never great at hand-to-hand combat. Things always got kinda messy when he brought out a blade." I took a breath and pulled my legs under me, curling into the couch. "My dad tangled with this demon outside of Lubbock, Texas because he refused to try to fight back. I kept having a vision of him killing my dad, and every time I tried to change the outcome, something would shift and the dream would change slightly, but I would see it all over again. This guy was tall and dark. Not at all like what you showed me Crowley looking like."
"You sure about this?" the tall demon smiled serenely. "This end while your daughters watch?"
Tru glanced towards the hilltop where Grace and Serra stood, shouting at him to join them. "Dad, come on! Let's just get out of here!" Grace yelled, pounding on the roof of the car. "Dad!"
Truman ignored his daughter, refusing to make eye contact. He knew that she had already seen his ending, and she tried over and over to change his fate, but he continued along the path she had seen, fighting demon after demon. Grace was an amazing fighter herself, using her intelligence and quick wit to get out of most dangerous situations. Serra had started the car, opening the door to the Chevelle for Grace. "Grace, let's go!" Serra yelled to her sister, "Get in the car!"
"Not without Dad!" she yelled back, panic taking hold. This was it. This was the scene that Grace had dreamt over and over for the past two weeks. Her father would die tonight if she didn't do something about it.
"You can't change his fate," Serra said over the wind and thunder, "you've tried. We've tried, Gracie!"
Grace shook her head, unwilling to believe as Truman walked willingly towards the demon. He ignored his daughter's plea and continued to ignore her as the storm began to rage. Lightning struck the telephone pole behind the bar where they were parked and Grace shielded her eyes from the electricity that shot down the pole. "Dad! Let it go! Walk away!"
Taking another lunge at the demon, Tru continued to ignore her, waving his hand for her to go on without him. "Go, Grace! Go with your sister!"
"Yes, go, little Gracie. I'll take good care of your Daddy," the Crossroads Demon purred, smiling again as his blade sank into Tru's chest.
"Dad!" she shouted once more as thunder erupted into the night. She pulled her gun from the holster across her shoulders and aimed, firing twice into the demon's chest, knowing full well that all she was doing was killing the innocent that had been taken by the demon when he was possessed. The distraction was long enough for Truman to glance back at his daughters. Grace's eyes filled with tears, knowing this was the last time her father would ever look at her. "Daddy, no," she whispered as the demon's blade shined into the night as he pulled it from his chest, causing him to crumble to the ground. She fought the urge she had to run at the demon, guns blazing. Serra sobbed next to her revving the car, trying to convince Grace to sit and close the door.
As their father bled to death, lightning struck again, hitting the tallest thing in the parking lot: the demon that stood over their father's body. Burning from the magnitude of the electricity that jolted through his body, the demon dropped on the spot, being destroyed from above. Another man appeared, as if from nowhere, his hands in the pockets of his suit pants, watching the girls speed away.
Falling into the car and slamming the door, Serra peeled out, sobbing, leaving their father behind. Grace cried too, letting the gun fall out of her hands to the floor of the Chevelle. They were alone.
Doing her best to keep Serra focused after their father was killed was difficult. She got into trouble at school constantly and her grades slipped. Grace fought with her on a daily basis, trying to get her to see that there was life beyond what they were dealing with and they had to be ready for it. "I'm going to school, too, Sere," she was saying one night after another phone call home from the school made Grace leave her job at the restaurant early, "you can't keep picking fights with any asshole that walks by! I have to make a living to feed us!"
"You can't control me, Gracie. You can't replace mom or dad."
Grace rolled her eyes, "I'm not trying to replace them. Stop being a bitch about it," she shot at her sister, slamming her hand on the counter in front of her. "I'm trying to keep us alive."
Serra shook her head and walked out of the kitchen, intent on hiding in her room and waiting for Grace to apologize, just like she always did. This time, Grace surprised her, standing in her path, blocking her exit out of the kitchen. "Move," she said, low and angry.
"Make me," Grace said, crossing her arms and tilting her head.
Setting her jaw, Serra pushed her sister with her right arm as Grace countered and spun her into a police hold, taking her arms and pinning them behind her back. She held her momentarily, long enough to get Serra to go limp. Letting go, Grace anticipated the next move, a full-fisted swing as Serra turned on the ball of her foot and lunged at her. Sidestepping the punch and turning to meet the next; an uppercut from her left hand, Grace grabbed her fist and spun her sister again, using her momentum to flip her to the ground.
"You're not going to win, fighting me," Grace said, barely above a whisper as she stood above Serra.
The younger sister pulled herself from the ground and pushed her hair out of her face, "Of course I'm not. You can read my mind like some kind of freak."
Breaking eye contact with her sister, she shook her head. "Come on, Serra. I know this is just you coping, but you have got to suck it up and finish school. We agreed. We're done hunting. You said we're done hunting." She took a ragged breath and pushed her blonde hair out of her face, staring at her little sister. "If we're done hunting, we're gonna have to figure out how to live normal lives. And you're gonna have to cope a different way. I can't afford therapy for you."
Serra looked away, crossing her arms and staring at the photos that lined the walls. Their mother, smiling and happy; hugging their father the day of their wedding. Grace and Serra, doe eyed and innocent, before their parents were killed. Holding up the keys to the new house, the day they closed escrow on a permanent home.
As her eyes filled with tears, she glanced at her big sister. "You're not a freak," Serra whispered.
Glancing down to her little sister, Grace smiled weakly. She nodded. "Yeah, I am."
Serra closed the gap between them and wrapped her arms around Grace's waist in their traditional hug. Grace reciprocated, wrapping her arms around Serra's shoulders. "I love you anyway," Serra said into her shoulder.
"I know, kiddo," Grace whispered. "I love you back." Serra pulled away and the girls both wiped their faces. "What was this fight about?"
Serra shrugged, "It actually wasn't my fight. There's this prick at school that picks on a bunch of geeks in between classes. He tried calling out the new kid a few times and I tripped him as he walked by." Serra smiled at the memory of this afternoon. "He got up all fast and was about to hit me and one of his friends is like 'you can't hit a girl!' and I tried to get him to, but he backed away."
"Who's the new kid?" Grace asked, not batting an eye to Serra's attempt to fight a bully.
She shrugged, "I dunno. Long hair. Kinda goofy looking. His pants and shoes are pass-me-downs. They're way too big for him. He looks sloppy."
Grace raised an eyebrow and gestured at Serra. "Because your clothes are obviously brand new."
"They look better than his, anyway," she snapped, adjusting her Indian motorcycle shirt that she had stolen from Grace. "Mine's vintage."
Rolling her eyes, Grace took a bite of the sandwich that she had been making before their fight, "Whatever. Did the prick kid end up getting his fight?"
Nodding, Serra took a drink of Diet Coke, "Yeah. Didn't last long though. The new kid may dress like a street urchin, but he got moves."
Confused, Grace asked, "Moves?"
"Yeah," Serra said, turning to walk out of the kitchen, "the little nerd can fight almost as well as we can." She turned and thought for a minute. "He tried to talk to me earlier this week, but I wasn't interested until today."
"Spicy," Grace replied. "You ask for the nerd's number?" She smiled, coy.
Serra shook her head. "Nah, his brother and dad showed up in some black Chevy. A friend told me they move around a lot. Looks like he won't be back."
"We used to know the feeling."
Dean stood, holding Liberty out to me, and he stretched and popped his back. He followed me up the stairs and I laid Libby down, gently, in her crib. She was exhausted from her day with Cas, which led me to believe that she hadn't napped the way I had anticipated. Maybe she would sleep through the night.
Telling Dean about my past had brought up memories that I hadn't thought of in years. Mostly, it was just from lack of use, not forcibly pushing them out of my mind. I remembered weird little details, like how Serra would drink Diet Coke from a can, but hated when it started to get lukewarm. How she would brush her teeth before she ate breakfast or when she would flip her hair from side to side to try and get the center part out of her chestnut hair.
I had a new appreciation for my sister, seeing her through my twenty-year-old mind's eye. She was affected by our parents' deaths more than I had been and I didn't know if it was because of her age or her temperament, or the fact that I was half angel, but I knew that I didn't spend long enough allowing her to grieve.
I glanced up at Dean, who was getting undressed, ready for bed, and I tilted my head, preparing to ask about his past.
"When it was just you two," I began, "did you and Sammy fight a lot?"
Dean let out a puff of air, very similar to Sam when he played for time, "Define 'a lot.'"
"Did you bicker? Did it ever come to blows?"
Dean stared at me, his green eyes full of sadness. "Yeah. More than we should have."
"Why do you think that is?"
He reached up and scratched at his scalp, thinking. "Sammy and I are really different people," he said, taking a breath, "and a lot of the time, we didn't see eye to eye on how to handle things." He closed his eyes, "I would tell him what he should do, but most of the time, he did the opposite, sometimes just to spite me."
I thought about the memories that I had seen in Dean. There were many times that Sam would disobey Dean, just because he could, like following after Ruby, the demon, or disagreeing about what to do when it came to following orders from their father. The brothers had parted ways on many occasions, but they always seemed to find their way back to each other, just like Serra and I.
I walked over to Dean, putting a hand on his chest and reaching up to kiss him tenderly. "You are exactly what you needed to be with Sam," I said, putting an arm over Dean's bare shoulder. "Sam is lucky that he had you as a big brother."
"He'd probably argue with that on some level," Dean said quietly, smiling. He swallowed, anticipation getting the best of him. We hadn't spent too much time being this close since Liberty was born. Slowly, Dean lowered his head to kiss me again, his arms finding their way around my waist. He held me in place as we kissed, slow and passionate. He broke away and trailed his lips down my neck, the scruff on his face just long enough to tickle my ear. I closed my eyes and he kissed my neck, getting my heart rate to jump. I breathed faster as I felt the warmth of his mouth against my skin and I pulled myself tighter against his chest.
Dean took his time with me, slowly moving us to our bed, pulling my shirt off and kissing the now exposed skin underneath. He held my arms up, above my head as he laid me on the bed, pinning my arms in place so I was powerless against him. Using the weight of his body, he held me down as he trailed his kisses all over my body. Closing my eyes, there was nothing I could do, nor did I want to, so I breathed him in as he pulled off my pants.
There was nothing stopping us now. Dean threw caution to the wind as he joined me on the bed, still holding my arms up with one hand. With his other hand, he pulled my hips into place and we moved together, breathing hard.
We made love that night as we never had before; bonded through loss in our past. It was difficult, having his thoughts so constantly exposed to me, but mine still mostly a mystery to him. I forgot on a regular basis that he couldn't hear me the same way I could hear him. I made it a point to remember to speak more freely about what I was thinking and to include him in my thought process on a more regular basis. Especially if this was how I was rewarded.
Dean rolled off of me, panting and finally let go of my arms. Immediately, I rolled to lay on his chest, unwilling to be away from him at all. I gazed up at him, his eyes finding mine, and he smiled. "I love you," he whispered, kissing my forehead.
I smiled back. Hearing him admit it out loud was a treasure to me. He knew I could hear him think it on a regular basis, but hearing his low, deep voice say the words out loud…it meant something completely different. "I love you back," I said, stroking his hair.
We fell asleep in the position we were in and in the wee hours of the dawn, Libby finally awoke, crying and hungry. I rolled over in bed, realizing that it was almost six o'clock in the morning and smiled. "She slept all night," I whispered to Dean, rubbing my face. "First time ever."
Dean chuckled under his breath as he rubbed sleep from his eyes. He turned to look at me, grinning, his hair pushed into an adorable cowlick at the top of his head. "I'm telling you, we need a basement angel."
I laughed as I got up from bed, fumbling in the shadows for a robe. Liberty was more insistent now, crying louder. "I'm coming, baby girl," I said under my breath, "I'm coming.
I walked into Liberty's room and scooped her up, smiling and congratulating her on a job well done. "What a big girl," I was saying, "sleeping all night in your own bed."
"Yes, what a big girl," a voice answered from the shadows, "Mummy is so proud."
I whipped around, straining to see into the dark. It was rare that someone could get the drop on me, and having the balls to step foot into our house, especially with Dean home, well. It was surprising to say the least. "Who the hell are you?" I growled, holding Libby close against my chest, "get the fuck out of my house."
The man in the suit stepped forward, his hands in his pants pockets. He seemed overly calm, too confident. He ignored my question and comment and took another step forward. "The Winchesters have been a bee in my bonnet for far too long. Quite honestly, the little incident with The First Blade pushed me over the edge…and then when I found out that Not Moose was married to you…it was a happenstance too sweet to walk away from."
My interest was piqued and I had no impulse to attack him. I needed to know more. "You're Crowley," I said as he took a final step into the lamplight. His face was illuminated just enough to see the wry smile on his face as I acknowledged his name.
"Hello, Ms. Browning," he purred. "Your family owes me a soul." He reached for my daughter and the room went still, time slowing down. I watched as Crowley's hand got closer to Liberty and I turned to look at him and turned my body slightly, keeping Lib out of Crowley's reach. The room illuminated into blinding blue light and the ground shook beneath me. I pulled Libby closer as I closed my eyes and covered her face. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of Libby's dark room, a darkened burn spot on the carpet where Crowley had been. I could hear Dean's footsteps pounding down the hall, coming to see what had happened.
"Grace!" he shouted, reaching the doorway. The lights in the hall continued to flicker as I turned to see my husband, shirtless, out of breath. "Grace? Are you okay? What the hell happened?"
I looked around the room, expecting to still see Crowley crouching in the shadows. I glanced down at Lib and touched her face. She was unscathed but still teary, weary from still being hungry. I couldn't seem to form words and my heart was pounding out of my chest…I glanced up at Dean, shaking my head.
"Gracie. Words. I need words," Dean said, touching my face gently.
I stared at him, my eyes wide. "Crowley," I finally said.
Dean took a step back, his eyes surveying the room quickly. He saw the burn spot on the carpet in front of me and his mouth dropped open. "Crowley? Crowley was here?"
I nodded and reached out with my hand. I still couldn't speak, and needed to make sure that Dean didn't miss any of the details of my interaction with Crowley. My husband moved closer and I touched his bare shoulder, closing my eyes. I tried what Castiel had described to me, seeing my memories flash across my brain and I pushed them towards Dean. He watched me, confused at first, and I must have succeeded in sending him something, because his eyebrows furrowed and he watched the scene, his green eyes staring off into the empty room.
Seconds passed and I could feel Liberty nuzzling my chest, looking for breakfast, as Dean took a step back from me, blinking. He glanced at my face and raised his eyebrows, "'Your family owes me a soul?' What does that mean, Grace?"
"My dad's Crossroads Deal," I slurred, "must've been with Crowley."
Dean closed his eyes, doing his best to stay calm. The anger that poured from him was a little terrifying. Crowley had broken a cardinal rule: he had been in our daughter's nursery. I knew Dean was flashing back in his head to the yellow-eyed demon being in Sam's nursery almost thirty years ago. I remained silent and listened to Dean rage on.
We went on red alert: Dean and I spent the afternoon locking down our house, painting sigils under picture frames and on the backs of rugs, attempting to fortify our house against Crowley reappearing. I had no idea what I had done to him or how I banished him, but I knew that whatever I had done only succeeded in angering him. Dean and I both knew he would be back; it was only a matter of time.
After telling Serra and Sam about Crowley's visit, the two of them revisited protecting the Bat Cave, though it was probably the safest place to be. Serra offered to have the three of us stay there with the two of them, but we knew we could handle Crowley. My only concern was for Liberty. She was attached to me constantly and I never left her in her room alone. Dean brought her to bed with us each night and when she napped, she was in her swing in the living room, centered on a giant purple rug with a Devils' Trap painted on the back.
A couple of weeks passed and we wrapped up the final plans for Serra and Sam's wedding. It was going to be a small affair…most of our friends were dead anyway. Our barn had been cleaned and decorated with white candles and twinkle lights, and Castiel had decided to officiate again.
Serra stared at her simple lace dress laid out on Dean's side of the bed and held our mother's turquoise against it as she spoke, her voice quiet and thoughtful. "We don't have anyone else," she said sadly. "It's just us."
I turned, folding Liberty's blankets, fresh from the dryer. "I know, kiddo. It kinda always has been." I stacked the last blanket on the pile and looked down at my sister. "Now, at least, we have the boys. And Lib." I smiled as best as I could, "And Cas."
She nodded, agreeing. "Weddings are supposed to be big."
I tilted my head and sat down next to my sister. I put my hand on hers, still pairing the turquoise necklace with her dress. "Families are supposed to be alive."
Serra nodded once more, finally looking up at me. "How could they do this to us?" she asked, rare tears forming in her eyes, "How could they just abandon us like that?"
Staring down at the lace of Serra's dress, I was surprised that she was bringing up our parents' deaths. She knew just as well as I did that they tried…surviving had always been the priority, but keeping us safe had been a bigger one. I took a deep breath, steadying myself for the deeper direction this conversation was headed. "If Dad hadn't made that deal, I wouldn't be alive. Mom wouldn't have lived and you would have never been born, Sere. Everything happens—"
"Don't give me that 'everything happens for a reason' crap," she said, interrupting me, "Lucia said that we were destined to meet the boys. That it was Fate for you and Dean to be together. If that were the case, we would have lived, regardless of any deal that Mom or Dad may have made. Fate is Fate. We still would have ended up here."
I was shaking my head. "It's only Fate because the ending is written. The deals and decisions had to be made to continue Mom down the correct path."
Serra was on her feet, pacing around the bedroom. Her hands were on her hips, her face was flushed and every time she gestured, the protective charm bracelet she always wore jingled from her wrist. "It's bullshit. Fate is bullshit. Mom and Dad should still be alive. We should still have our friends. Emery should still be here, ready to take care of us at a moment's notice."
She made another circle around the room, her back towards me, as I contained my shock that she brought up our mother's best friend. Emery had watched us over and over when our parents took off on a hunt and was the woman that made our pre-teen lives possible. Emery had been the lifesaver that taught us more about domestic survival that our parents ever could have. When the apocalypse began, she was the first causality that affected us on a personal level. Our lives had been torn apart on too many occasions to count, but Em was always there, making sure that we would wake up the next morning. Losing her had been devastating. One of the biggest fights Serra and I had ever been through together had been about burying Emery. We discussed cremating her, salting and burning her corpse, but Serra wanted to bury her in tact.
"We can't run the risk of her coming back," I told Serra the night after Emery's death. "We need to follow protocol."
"Fuck protocol," Serendipity had screamed at me, "we have no one, Grace! No one is left! Don't you want to be able to visit her? To know she's there, beneath your feet?"
I had shaken my head, knowing it was too high risk, especially at the height of the end of the world. "No, Sere. She's with us as long as we hold her inside—"
"You know, what, Grace? Fuck you."
That night I had watched my sister drive away in her hand-me-down-Acura. She refused to answer voicemails and texts and had been gone two weeks before she drove up back up our driveway, climbed our stairs, and crawled into bed with me. We had never mentioned Emery's name again.
I took a deep breath, trying to grasp what Serra's real fear was. Whenever we fought, it was over something deeper, and I knew this instance was no exception. "Are you upset because there's no one left to celebrate with us? That your wedding to Sam is almost a secret?"
She turned suddenly and I wondered momentarily if she would throw something at me, but she glanced at the bed, and upon seeing Liberty laying there, kicking her feet and cooing to herself, she crumbled into our mother's fluffed reading chair in the corner, put her hands over her face and pulled her legs up to her chest. "I'm sad, Gracie. I'm sad that we're just repeating the past." Serra rubbed her eyes and tossed her hair to the other side. "I'm sad that Lib has no grandparents. I'm sad that there aren't even enough people in our family to have to make reservations at a restaurant for our reception dinner."
I watched my sister cry and welled up myself as I crossed the room and sat on the armrest, pulling her hair away from her face. "That's why we make it count, kiddo," I said quietly. "We pull ourselves out of the game as much as we can to preserve what we have." I sniffed and smiled as I continued, "You can Sam can get busy making our family bigger and we'll treasure what we have."
"Oh, God, babies," Serra laughed, "What would I do with a girl?"
"Give her to me and try again," I said.
We giggled together and Serra took a ragged breath. She looked up at me and smiled weakly. "No one else can die," she whispered. "I can't handle any more death."
I hugged my sister close and lowered my voice. "We're not going anywhere," I promised.
The next morning, Serra and I woke up in bed together with Liberty in the middle. Sam and Dean had promised to stay either out in the barn or at the Bat Cave, attempting to preserve some nostalgia and tradition when it came to seeing the bride before the wedding. Dean had cheated, tiptoeing in during the night to check on us. I heard him sneak in, carrying his boots and walking across the hardwood in just his socks. I rolled to smile at him as he leaned over a sleeping Serra to kiss Libby. I had fallen asleep almost immediately again after he left, and Serra stayed sprawled on her stomach, her pillow almost on top of her head.
Libby had taken to sleeping through the night, especially when between Dean and I. She was in heaven with her auntie by her side and made it her mission to get as close as possible to Serra during the night. Serra woke up in the morning with Lib tangled in her hair and sucking on her hand. "Hi little girl," she said, clearing the sleep from her voice, "can I have my hair back please?"
Liberty complied, releasing the strands of her chestnut hair, but refusing to give up her arm. I giggled as I watched Serendipity wrestle with her, pretending to try to pull her arm from Lib's grasp. A wide grin was plastered across my daughter's face as she played with her favorite playmate and for the first time, Serra and I both heard Liberty giggle.
"What was that?" Serra laughed, wide eyed, glancing at me. "A giggle from the meatloaf?"
Serra teased her again, lifting her arm away from Libby's face; then allowing her to gnaw on her arm again. Another giggle. "Oh my God, Serra. That's the first real laugh from her!"
We were all laughing then, big belly laughs from Libby and giggles from us as we teased her with our fingers and her toys. She was sucking on Serra's charm bracelet as my phone began to vibrate on the nightstand next to me.
I picked up the phone and, still laughing, I answered, "Hi baby. You should hear Lib right now. She's laughing."
Dean's voice came over the other end of the speaker. "Of course she is," he said sarcastically. "The second night in her life that I've been away from her and she decides that she's ready to date."
I laughed at Dean's comment and pulled a charm out of Libby's mouth. Serra switched arms so Lib didn't pull off her bracelet and continued to make her giggle. "Here, listen," I said as I held out the phone, putting it on speaker.
Dean was quiet on the other end, listening hard to his daughter. She complied, laughing hard when Serra got close to her face, tickling her cubby cheeks with her hair. "That's amazing," Dean said, coming through the speakerphone. Liberty froze in place upon hearing Dean and looked around, expecting to see him.
"She heard you," Serra said, "she's looking around for you."
"Hi baby girl," Dean said, "keeping everyone in line?"
Liberty kicked her feet and answered by waving her one of her fists in the air and cooing. She held tightly onto Serra's arm with the other hand and continued to giggle.
I put the phone back to my cheek and smiled, "She's too smart for her own good," I said. "How'd it go? You guys drink until you passed out?"
"I don't pass out," Dean said, smiling. "Sam was close, though."
"Jesus," I said, laughing. "Cas will be here by four," I said, changing subjects. "Can you two stay entertained until then?"
"I don't think that will be a problem," he said, taking a drink of coffee. "I got called in to the shop. I'm gonna drag Sam with me and then we'll head to the barn around 3:30."
"Why did you get called in?" I asked, concerned, "They know your brother's getting married today, right?"
Dean took another sip of coffee before answering, "Yeah, they told me not to come in, but the GTO I've got in the paint stall got coated in the wrong primer base and that new kid is freaking out, thinking I'm gonna beat him or something."
I raised my eyebrows, "Aren't you?"
"Nah," he said, chuckling. "Just means I get to keep the Goat longer."
I glanced behind me as I heard Serra telling Liberty to stop chewing on her charms. She took off the bracelet and set it on my nightstand, out of Libby's reach, then continued playing with her on the bed.
I turned back to the phone and said; "We'll see you then. Make sure you remember Serra's ring."
Dean agreed, "Trust me, Sam has been hounding me all day. It's like he wants to get married or something."
Laughing, I hung up the phone. I opened the top drawer to my dresser and brought out the simple platinum band that Serra would be giving to Sam later that day. It was almost identical to Dean's; the only difference was the engraving on the inside of the ring. I held the ring up to my face and smiled, reading the inscription again, even though I had it memorized: Surviving with you is better than living without.
Serra scooped Libby up and headed out of the room, down the hall, talking about a soggy diaper as she walked. I snapped the ring box closed again and put on slippers and headed downstairs to make some coffee. Serra's protective totem bracelet lay, untouched and forgotten, there on my nightstand. She was left unprotected and neither one of us had noticed.
The day continued without another mention of Emery or about how small our family was. Serra had moved on, knowing that there was so much more to our lives, now that the boys had become intertwined in our destinies. I knew how happy she would be and I wasn't worried.
We relaxed most of the afternoon, sitting on the front porch and taking turns feeding and holding Liberty. While I was nursing her, Serra glanced over at me and tilted her head, "Do you want more kids?"
I shrugged, watching Lib as she closed her eyes, completely at ease, close to sleep. "I don't know," I said, thinking before answering. "We didn't plan on this one, but Dean loves her and seems to be right in his element." I turned to look at Serendipity, "Dean teased me once about keeping me pregnant to keep me at home. 'Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen' I think were his exact words."
"So he wants more," she said, smiling, "don't you think?"
Nodding, I agreed. "Both of us have siblings," I began, "so I think he wants at least one more. But the way he talks…"
Serra smiled, "I never would have guessed. I think Sam is going to be more difficult to convince."
"Really? You think so?"
Leaning back in the rocker, she nodded, "Yeah, I mean, Dean was the one raising Sam. Dean took care of him from the beginning, feeding him, making sure he was safe. He told me once that Dean didn't eat sometimes to make sure that he did."
A corner of my mouth tilted into a soft smile, knowing it was true. I was convinced that Dean had such an appreciation for food because he didn't have the opportunity to do so as a kid. Dean's priority was Sam and if Sam ate that day, it was enough for him.
"Are you ready for kids?" I asked Serra as Liberty fell asleep, limp in my arms. I adjusted my tank and flannel, pulling the strap back to my shoulder and I turned her so she lay against my chest.
Serra watched as I pulled Lib up to my shoulder and pat her back gently. "I dunno. I mean, I'm barely out of school and I just got my job. And Sam is just getting into school, finally figuring out what he wants to do. I think we're both happy being the auntie and uncle right now." She paused, smiling as Libby burped against my shoulder, "But who knows, right? I never thought we'd be getting married so soon. And I've never been happier."
I knew that was true. Serra finally had enough comfort in her life that she could afford these luxuries like getting married and being happy. We were finally getting to the point where we were normal. She glanced at her phone and smiled, "I think it might be time to start getting ready."
I grinned at my sister, "You're getting married today."
"I'm getting married today!"
Serra was beautiful. He dark hair was pulled slightly back, out of her face, into tiny braids that were clipped back, with loose curls that fell all the way to her back. She turned so that I could zip the back of her lace dress and I readjusted her hair. She had decided to wear the turquoise as a bracelet, wrapping the necklace around her wrist three times and pairing it with her engagement ring on her right hand. She wore my earrings; the tiny diamonds that hung from dainty chains danced around her shoulders. As she turned towards me, I tilted my head and my eyes filled with tears. I moved towards her, holding our mother's veil in my hands, ready to clip it into my sister's hair. She held her head back and I clipped it to the braids and spread it across her shoulders.
"You look incredible," I said, wiping my face. "Sam is just going to die."
She sniffled slightly, grinning. "Yeah he is," she agreed, looking at herself in the mirror. "You look pretty good, yourself."
Glancing into the mirror in front of Serra, I smiled. "Yeah I do."
Liberty was still sleepy, struggling to stay conscious. Serra had gotten a tiny peach dress for her with tiny suede cowboy boots. We accessorized her with a teal, flowered headband, which Libby was trying her hardest to remove. I sat on the bed, pulling on my new cowboy boots that matched Serra's then we stood together in front of the camera and smiled, holding Libby between us as the flash of the camera told us it had successfully taken a picture.
We walked down the stairwell, intending to take Serra's truck to the middle of the field behind our house, where the barn was. Instead, Dean waited at the bottom of our porch, the doors of the Impala open like a limousine, intent on driving us there himself.
He was handsome in black pants and his white suit shirt, the sleeves rolled up and casual, typical of my husband's personality. "Hello, ladies. Your ride is here."
Liberty squealed when she saw him, flapping her hands, almost successful in taking off her headband. He reached out for her, his eyes lighting up when he saw how adorable she looked, dressed in her bridesmaid's outfit. "You are the prettiest little thing," he said quietly, kissing her forehead and adjusting her headband. Holding his daughter, he stared at the both of us, smiling. "Sam's over there already, waiting for you. Cas is keeping him company."
Serra ducked into the front of the Impala, pulling her veil in behind her. "You look amazing, Serra," Dean said, closing the door behind her, then reaching to kiss me, "and you," he said, hesitating and grinning, "was that dress expensive?"
I shook my head, "Not really, why?"
"Because I'm going to rip it off of you later."
I smiled, coy. "You'd better." I got into the car, glancing at the bench seat next to me, "You haven't put her seat in here yet?"
Dean handed Lib over and shut the door as he chuckled, "I don't want the seats to get all creased. We'll put her seat in your Chevelle."
"Way to go, Dad," Serra said, laughing.
Serendipity had been banished from our barn about two weeks ago and I spent majority of my free time here, cleaning out the cobwebs and the dust, just for my sister and her soon-to-be-groom. I emptied a craft store of their white candles, and now, smiling, I could see the glow from them as we approached from across the field at dusk. I had given Castiel the job of lighting the candles and the twinkle lights before we arrived to surprise Serra and I could see from afar that he had held up his end of the deal.
Dean parked the Impala in front of the barn, next to Sam's freshly painted blue El Camino and he walked around the car to open the door for Serra. She climbed out of the car and I could see the sparkle of tears in her eyes as she absorbed the glow from the barn. Dean pulled my door open as well, helping Libby and me out of the back seat. I snapped a few pictures of Serra as she approached the barn, still in awe.
"Grace," she whispered, grinning, "this is amazing." She flicked her eyes towards me and pointed, "How many candles do you have in there?"
I shrugged, "I don't know. I lost count after one hundred." I reached for Serra's hand, holding out Sam's ring. "Here. Don't lose it now." She took it, clutching it in her fist as we waited.
Dean pushed the barn door open and walked down the aisle in the center of the room, his boot steps echoing across the open area. I had given him the camera to take pictures of Serra and I as we walked down to meet he and Sam. Libby seemed amazed at the glow that filled the space; her green eyes were wide with amazement.
The amount of happiness I could feel from my little family was almost more than I could take. I was so grateful that we had made it this far; that we had survived so much and found men that could care for us in the ways that we needed. I glimpsed at my sister, but she only had eyes for Sammy as we walked down the aisle. I followed her line of sight and tears welled in my eyes as I watched Sam struggle to hold it together. Dean winked at me and I wiped my face with my other hand, hoping that I wasn't smearing my make up.
Standing at the end of the aisle, a dozen or so candles lit the area where Sam stood, waiting for his bride. He stepped forward to take her hand and Libby and I joined Dean to the side of them. He took my hand, squeezing once, and snapped a few more pictures.
Sam was handsome in a dark blue button up and black slacks. He hadn't rolled his sleeves like his brother, but attempted to stay as put together as he could. Castiel stood at attention, as usual, but wore the white shirt I had picked for him. He and Dean were dressed similarly, but Cas would never have the same relaxed stance that my husband had so carefully mastered.
Castiel leaned over to me and nodded knowingly. "I lit all of them with one try," he whispered. "I decided that efficiency was the way to go."
I nodded back, my eyebrows raised. "Good job, Cas. Marry them now."
His attention turned back to my sister and brother-in-law and Dean chuckled behind me. Clearing his throat, he smiled and took a breath. "We are here to honor Sam and Serendipity's love for each other," he began in a soft voice. Libby cooed from my arms, listening to Cas' voice intently. He continued, smiling at my daughter and waving with one finger at her. "Fate brought Dean and Grace together, but love solidified your relationship. There was no need for destiny to be involved…you are meant to be together because of your caring, understanding and passion for each other. We are here to celebrate the union of two souls."
Serra giggled and turned towards Sam, listening to the rest of Castiel's speech. "Serendipity, do you take Sam to be your husband, to have and to hold, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and to love and cherish for as long as you both shall live?"
Smiling and nodding, Serra tilted her head, trying to hold back her tears, "Yes," she said quietly as she slipped the ring on Sam's finger, "I do."
Castiel continued to Sam. "Do you, Sam, take Serra to be your wife, to have and to hold, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and to love and cherish for as long as you both shall live?"
Sam had tears in his eyes as well, holding Serra's hands and nodding. "I do," he said, taking a ragged breath and wiping his face as he slipped the antique diamond band on her finger.
"Then by the power vested in me by our Holy Father, I declare you bonded for life," Castiel said with a grin that crinkled his blue eyes. "You may, of course, kiss your wife."
Dean snapped more pictures as I clapped for my sister and her new husband. Libby flailed as well, making high-pitched squeals as I laughed. Sam and Serra were locked in an embrace, oblivious to the fact that we were standing there, watching. Turning towards me, Dean wrapped his arms around Lib and I and hugged us tightly. "You're really stuck with us now," he whispered into my ear. I grinned and nodded.
Dinner went by too quickly and the night ended too early. Sam drove Serra towards the hotel he had gotten for their wedding night and he glanced at his new bride. "We're married," he said, grinning.
"Yeah, there's no escaping me now," Serra said, undoing some of the braids from her hair as the wind blew through the open windows. She unclipped her mother's veil and rolled it gently into a ball and placed it into the glove box for safekeeping. Doing the same for her bracelet and earrings, she was free of all of the borrowed pieces from Grace. Looking down at her empty wrist, she furrowed her eyebrows and tilted her head.
Noticing her silence, Sam raised his eyebrows, asking, "What's the matter?"
Serra shook her head, dismissing Sam's question. "Nothing, I just noticed that I'm not wearing my bracelet."
"You just took it off," he said, making a face.
Serra rolled her eyes and shook her head. "No, my silver one with all the protective charms. I always have it on…" she paused, remembering, "oh, yeah, Libby started chewing on it this morning. I took it off so she wouldn't choke on it. It's at Grace and Dean's."
"No biggie, then," Sam said, putting a hand on her thigh. "We can think about other things," his fingers toyed with the hem of her lace wedding dress. "Like how quickly I can get that dress off of you."
At the stoplight, Serra reached over to kiss him, holding his face with both of her hands. Wrapped around each other, the green light went unnoticed and a beep from a car behind them brought the newlywed couple back to the present. Sam chuckled as he hit the gas pedal and continued to their destination.
The hotel was just outside of town. Serra smiled as they approached the lobby, her boot steps echoing through the marble entryway. They checked in, barely contained, grabbed the hotel key and made a break for the elevators at the end of the hall.
Serra was all over him, then, unbuttoning his shirt before the doors of the elevators closed. Sam was unzipping the back of her dress by the time the elevator dinged for the second floor. He picked her up into a fireman's carry as the third floor passed them by and when they reached their level at floor number four, Serra's arms were wrapped around Sam's neck, pulling herself closer to her new husband. He fumbled for the key to their room, slammed the door open and almost fell across the threshold. As soon as the door shut behind them, their hands couldn't move fast enough. Sam tossed Serra on the bed and reached for her new cowboy boots, pulling them off, one at a time and tossing them across the room.
Grinning, Serra lay on the bed and waited for Sam to join her. He pinned her down, using one arm to pull the zipper of her dress down the rest of the way. She wiggled enough to get free of the lace, helping Sam tear it off, tugging it over her head. He threw the dress across the room to join the boots. Serra's fingers fumbled at the buttons of Sam's shirt as he kissed her neck and pulled her hair to the side, exploring her ear and clavicle with his tongue. Their breathing became ragged, not seemingly moving fast enough. Serra finally succeeded in pulling his shirt off, dropping it on the floor next to the bed and wrapping her arms around his shoulders, drawing him closer.
The muscles in Sam's arms flexed and Serra's fingers traced along the lines of his biceps; her nails digging into the skin of his arms. She rolled him, pushing him down onto the bed and pulled off his belt and pants with very little effort. She straddled him in only her bra and breathing heavily, Sam watched as she let it drop to the floor as well.
Sam knew Serra was the most beautiful creature that he had ever seen, but seeing her in this new light, knowing she was his forever changed him slightly. He took a moment to just stare, his fingers tracing the outline of the roses and pistol tattooed into her hip and thigh, like a gunslinger. There were scars across her stomach from knife fights and monster claws, a bullet wound on her side and more tattoos across her shoulders and back. Both of his hands followed the curve of her body, feeling the warmth and softness of her skin, and she leaned forward to kiss him deeply again.
Without any effort, Sam pulled Serra into another roll, flipping her so she looked up at him from the bed. He curved around her, his hands adjusting her position on the bed. He held her hips as he bit down slightly on her neck, a gasp escaping from Serra's mouth. They found a rhythm and became one; husband and wife, well into the night.
"Good morning, Mrs. Winchester," Sam whispered into Serra's ear as the sun peeked through the sheer curtains the next morning. Sam adjusted slightly to get closer to his still-sleeping wife. "Are you awake yet?"
"No," Serra said, muffled as she spoke into her pillow. She turned her face towards him and smiled slightly. "Why are we awake already?"
He smiled seductively. "I function well in the morning," he said, flirtatious, "you know that."
Serra rolled away from him, covering up with the sheet. She grumbled something about being early and Sam smiled and shook his head. "You're missing out," he said.
"Coffee," she said, still muffled. "Then maybe."
Sam chuckled again, getting to his feet. "Anything else, wife?"
She shook her head from the position she held on the bed. Sam grabbed the room key and put it in the pocket of his pajama pants as he pulled on a sweatshirt and his boots. "I'll go downstairs to the café they have in the lobby. Good enough?"
Another grunt from Serra.
He padded to the door and she listened to it close. Whipping the covers back and moving as quickly as she could, she grabbed sweats, a flannel and Sam's keys. She threw on the cowboy boots from the ceremony and grabbed her phone and with a glance in the mirror, she smiled slightly at her reflection. Running fingers through her still-mostly-braided hair, she grinned menacingly. "Hello, love," she said into the mirror. She blinked once and Serra's warm chestnut eyes became crimson in an instant. "Let's go howl at that moon," she said as she walked out the door and down the hall, letting the hotel room door click behind her.
After the wedding, Dean drove us back to the house, I changed and fed Liberty and put her down in the center of our bed (which was still centered in a Devil's trap) and came back down to Dean in the living room. He had already unbuttoned his dress shirt and his head was leaning back on the cushions of the couch. I walked to the fridge, grabbed two bottles of beer, popped them open, and with a poof from my bridesmaid's dress, I collapsed next to Dean, leaning into his chest.
He took the beer I offered him and kissed me on the head as I got comfortable. "I can't believe Sammy is married," he said, chuckling quietly. "I mean, he probably thought the same thing about me when we got married, but shit. My little brother. Married."
I nodded against his chest, agreeing. "I know. I feel the same about Serra. She's still so young…and can be such a bitch," I said, laughing. "Sam's gonna have a hell of a time keeping her content."
Dean took a drink, hiding his smile with the bottle, "Sounds a little like my current situation."
I hit his thigh with my fist, getting another laugh from Dean. "You don't know how good you have it," I replied to him sarcastically, "you're lucky to have me, Mr. Winchester."
"I know it," he whispered and leaned forward to kiss my head again. I turned towards him this time, meeting his beautiful face and kissing him deeply. Slowly, he put the bottle of beer he was holding on the table next to him and turned to get more comfortable. He took mine as well and after setting it down, he cupped my face with both of his hands as I adjusted to lie on his chest. We turned and got more comfortable on the couch and Dean's hands found the zipper on the side of my dress. Without missing a beat, he had it unzipped and pulled it up over my head, dropping it on the floor next to him.
We hadn't made love on the couch of our new house yet, and honestly, I couldn't imagine why. The close quarters of the cushions kept us tangled up in each other. I straddled him, my legs folded to the sides of his hips, his arms wrapped around my waist and mine around his shoulders. Out of breath and grinning after ecstasy, Dean and I both fell to the cushions, still wrapped around each other.
"I'm glad Cas hasn't just shown up during one of these little interludes for a while," Dean said, smiling as he turned so we spooned on the width of the couch.
I chuckled at the memory of the first time Castiel had appeared without warning into our bedroom. Having no sense of awkwardness or embarrassment, he had stood and stared momentarily when he realized that we had been having sex. Dean had been the one to realize he was standing in the middle of our bedroom and laughed when Cas didn't seem to understand what was happening. "Cas," I remembered Dean saying, "a couple needs their privacy in their bedroom. Boundaries, man."
Nodding and understanding, he had disappeared without a word. It had happened two other times throughout our relationship, once at the Bat Cave in the library and once in a hotel, out in the middle of Kansas. Castiel had appeared when we were at the height of our passion, but again, he was neither embarrassed nor worried about seeing what he saw. If anything, he had been curious.
"I think he needs to get laid," I said, resting my face on Dean's bicep, curved around my shoulders.
Dean laughed quietly. "That is the truth," he said, kissing the back of my neck.
From upstairs, we could hear the beginnings of Libby stirring. She had woken up alone, and lately, she hadn't been by herself while sleeping. We would probably regret this sleeping arrangement in the future, but for now, we knew she was safe when she was with us.
"She hungry again?" Dean asked from behind me. "That girl is a bottomless pit."
Sitting up on the couch, I bent to pick up my dress and under garments. "Honestly, I don't think I'm keeping up with her. She's eating more than I can provide," I said, shrugging. "We have to transition her to formula soon."
Dean sat up behind me, nodding. "It's okay, we don't have to pay mortgage every month, right?" I rolled my eyes at his sarcasm, "And we don't need to eat, so it's all good."
"You're a house manager, now," I said, getting up. "You're making the big money. I think you can provide for your daughter to get enough food when she wants it."
"I guess," Dean said, smiling as he followed me up the stairs. "She's just so needy."
Laughing, I got to the bed, and teary, Libby turned her head to look at me, almost irritated that it took so long for me to get upstairs. I picked her up and she nuzzled my chest, wiping her face. I sat on the bed, getting comfortable and set up to nurse again. Dean lay down next to us, his arm across his face. Kicking her feet at the excitement of getting a second dinner, Liberty kicked Dean in the temple and I laughed at his reaction.
He rolled, smiling, and looked up at his daughter. "Listen, meatloaf, I had claim on your mother first, so I'm head dictator around here." Libby smiled as she nursed, obviously loving the attention Dean was giving her. "Don't try and smile your way out of this," Dean was saying, his eyebrows up in mock seriousness. Lib kicked again, her tiny foot hitting Dean right in the eye. "Oh, nice shot," he said, rolling over in defeat. She squealed in delight, then immediately went back to eating.
I smiled, watching them interact. There was a tenderness and dedication to Lib that I didn't see even with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted another child with Dean, just so that I could see the kind of people they would turn out to be when they had a father as dedicated as Dean was.
Predictably, Libby fell asleep on me and I rolled her to the side, covering her with her little blanket. Dean reached up and turned off the light and reached around Liberty to hold my hand behind her. We fell asleep soon after that; the excitement of the day finally getting to us.
Gasping, Grace sat up in bed and froze, listening with every fiber of her being. Dean moved slowly, unwilling to distract her from whatever she was listening to. He knew that whatever had alerted her from the deep sleep she had been in was enough to be worried about. Glancing at Liberty next to him, he breathed a little easier seeing his daughter's belly rise and fall with each breath she took. Again, he moved his eyes to his wife and waited, completely silent.
Every once and awhile, Dean noticed that Grace took on an inhuman stillness; much like Cas did when he was on alert. It reminded him that she was not entirely human and it was those moments that he was in awe of her.
Slowly, she seemed to relax, though she was still trying to tune in to another mind. She breathed slowly, her blue eyes gazing off into an unseen distance.
Finally, Dean decided to speak, "Grace?"
I turned and came back to Dean and Liberty, lying in bed next to me. I was unable to form words…the vision I had dreamed seemed too real to dismiss. I hadn't had a vision in months, not since before Libby was born. I had seen Serra and Sam, wrapped in each other on the night of their wedding. She had fallen asleep, facing away from Sam, as per usual, wrapped in a sheet. Sam spread out next to her, sleep taking him quickly as well. I seemed to watch from the corner of the room as a red smoke filled the room through the air conditioning vent from above the bed. It hesitated above the bed, then, as if it made a decision, entered Serra's face through her mouth and nose.
Dean's emotions were on the rise; I had yet to answer him. I replayed the vision over and over in my mind and finally looked at my husband. "Serra," I said.
Shifting position, Dean tilted his head, narrowing his eyes. "Serra what?"
"Possessed," was all I could manage.
He didn't hesitate. Dean was out of bed, striding across the room to the table under the window and was picking up his phone in a matter of seconds. He listened to the ring over and over and finally, he threw the phone down on the bed, frustrated. "He's not answering." Dean walked back over to me and held out his hand. "Show me," he said.
I took his hand and concentrated on what I had seen. Pushing it towards Dean, I walked through the scene again, the red smoke filling his mind as we both watched. He took a ragged breath and furrowed his eyebrows. "Crowley," was all he said.
Sam and Serra hadn't decided on a hotel before they left last night and considering they were both adults with phones, it hadn't occurred to us to ask once they got there. I had no idea where my sister was, but I knew that we needed to figure it out in a hurry.
Sam took the cups, filled with hot coffee, from the countertop and nodded his thanks to the café attendant. "I'll put it on your charge," he said as Sam walked away.
"Thanks," Sam replied, "424."
The server nodded and Sam headed back towards the elevators to get back to his new bride. As the elevator climbed, he smiled at the memory of the wedding yesterday and the night that followed. Serra had never been more beautiful than she had been last night. Glancing down at his hand, he tapped the side of the cup with his finger, listening for the tap of platinum on plastic. He smiled, hearing his wedding ring and as the doors of the elevator opened, he took a deep breath, completely at ease.
Stacking the cups on top of each other and balancing them as he fumbled for the room key, he opened the door and quietly walked into the hotel room that he shared with his wife. The mountain of blankets told him that she was still sleeping and very quietly, he walked towards her side of the bed. "Serra, I've got coffee," Sam whispered, trying to wake her up as gently as he could. "Babe?"
Bending down, he realized that Serra was not at the bottom of the pile. Confused, he looked around the room, "Serra?" he called, heading towards the bathroom. "You in there?"
The lights were off in the bathroom and she was nowhere to be found. He looked down at the desk in the corner of the room and saw that her phone and his keys were gone. He tilted his head, pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed her number. Listening to the ring, he waited, but her voice came up automatically, telling him to leave a message and hopefully, she would get back to him.
Frustrated, Sam held the phone and stood in the middle of the room. Where was she that she needed my keys?
He pursed his lips and hesitating long enough to make a decision, he pushed 'call' on his touch screen. The phone rang from the other end once and immediately, the other end picked up. "Sammy?" came Dean's voice, answering Grace's phone.
"Hi," he said, not really knowing how to continue to his brother.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked, his voice worried, "Grace had a dream."
Sammy turned in his spot, looking around the room of his hotel. Serra's wedding dress was still on the floor, crumbled in the pile where he had thrown it the night before, wrapped in passion. He closed his eyes, attempting to put together what Dean had just said. "What?" he asked, "What kind of dream?"
Dean took a deep breath and stared at his wife. "She saw Serra get possessed."
Panic gripped Sam as his brother took a breath, "Possessed? How? By what?"
Grace held out her hand for the phone, ready to talk. Dean gave it to her, sitting down on her side of the bed and glancing behind them at their sleeping daughter. "Hi, Sam," Grace began, her voice shaky and nervous, the dream still fresh in her mind, "she's gone, isn't she." It wasn't a question.
Sam nodded, the realization of the seriousness of the situation gripping his entire body. "I went downstairs to get us coffee."
"He came into her sometime during the night," Grace explained, sounding on the edge of tears. "I don't know how. She has a protective amulet bracelet…" Dean was holding the silver charm bracelet up, showing Grace and she closed her eyes at the comprehension dawning on her. Serra had taken it off when Libby was chewing on the charms. "Never mind, her bracelet is here. She took it off when she was playing with Lib yesterday." Grace closed her eyes, tears falling down her cheeks. "It's like he was waiting for it."
"Who?" Sam asked, almost unwilling to hear the answer.
"Crowley," Grace answered. "Crowley took her."
Crowley drove Sam's El Camino down the highway, flying away from the hotel that Serra and Sam had shared on the night of their wedding. The internal battle that raged on in the body he had taken was one of the strongest that he had ever put up with. Serra wasn't letting go of her body or mind without a fight.
Get the fuck out of my body, she thought, trying to think of the words to the exorcism verse that Grace knew so well. Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus—she began, but Crowley silenced her with a thought.
Her thoughts were strangled; she was unable to do anything while locked in her own body, sharing it with this Crossroads Reject.
"'Crossroads Reject'?" Crowley said, Serra's voice echoing through the cabin of the El Camino, "As creative as that sounds, you're addressing the King of Hell, darling."
Bite me, Serra thought, still fighting with all her might to push Crowley out of her body.
The girl's phone rang again. Crowley looked down at the screen and smiled. "Your sister is a determined one, isn't she?" he said, smiling. "Annoying to have that much interaction between siblings."
Get used to it, Serra thought. She'll be up your ass 'til this is over.
"As much as I would enjoy that, I'm sure," Crowley purred, "I'm really more interested in obtaining your niece to really drive my many points home. She's the best way to get my soul from the Browning sisters and to royally piss off Moose and Squirrel. So until the rest of the Winchester clan comes crawling out of the shadows, I suppose you'll have to do."
Suddenly, there was a moment of control as Serra gained her body back, braking hard and screeching to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. The rage she felt at that moment in time was almost enough to throw Crowley from her body. "Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritu, omnis satanica potestas omnis incursio." Serendipity took a deep breath, intending to send Crowley back to Hell. She was already halfway done drawing a Devil's Trap in the dirt where she had screeched to a stop as she felt herself lose control again.
She could hear the incoming semi-truck coming around the corner as Crowley took over. Crowley forced her out into the center of the highway, facing the oncoming big-rig as Serra struggled to move her body out of the way.
"Let me make one thing perfectly clear to you, new Mrs. Winchester," Crowley said, holding her in place as the truck began honking furiously on the two-lane highway. "I control your body. If you want it to survive the next few days, you will bend to my will and you will go quietly."
Serra was panicking, still attempting to regain control of her body and move out of the way on the oncoming semi. With only seconds left, she finally decided to go limp, allowing Crowley to have full control of her mind and body. The truck attempted to curve around Serra, its brakes screeching as it tried to avoid Serra. Crowley stepped to the side, moving her body out of the way, and heading back to the El Camino as if nothing happened. He got into the car, put it back in drive and peeled out, back onto the highway.
"I need to go after Serra," I was saying, pacing around the living room. Dean watched me pace, holding Libby as I tried not to panic. My sister was possessed by the King of Hell and none of us knew what he had in store for her.
Dean was shaking his head, bouncing a fussy Libby as he watched me pace around the room. I laid out weapons of all sorts across the dining room table, wrapping up with setting Serra's matching silver on black engraved .45 Colt 1911s side by side on the table. I touched the guns tenderly, thinking how if my sister knew that on her honeymoon she would have needed them, she would have been pissed about leaving them behind. I flashed to the memory of our father giving them to her on her 13th birthday, warning her that the kick was more than most people could take. Serra only saw it as a challenge.
There was a final box at the bottom of the duffle and I only stared at it, unwilling to commit to bringing it out. Our father had done the same for me on my 13th birthday, saying that I would always need to protect my sister and that this would help. I was always uneasy about bringing the gun out, worried that I would end up doing something I would regret.
Watching me, Dean switched Libby to his other hip and slowly walked towards the dining room table. I glanced up at him, knowing that he had never seen my most deadly weapons (besides myself, of course.) Serra was the only one in the world that I could credit as being a better shot than I was. I bent to take the engraved box carrying my own .45 Colt custom engraved Desert Eagle with mother-of-pearl grip. I opened the box and pulled out the handgun, automatically checking the clip and sliding it back into place. I set it on the table next to Serra's twins and stood back to stare.
I followed Dean's stare towards my gun on the table. He was smiling in an ironic way. "That's your .45?" I looked up at him and nodded silently. "That's interesting that you only have one."
Shrugging, I turned away from the table again, getting out a case of specialty ammo from the weapons duffel. The bullets were stamped with a handmade Devil's Trap engraving and were filled with black powder and salt, my own design. "Yeah, my dad got it for me when I was thirteen. Got it at a pawnshop somewhere in Iowa, I guess. He said I was a good enough shot that I only needed one."
Walking back across the living room, Dean opened the gun safe that was hidden in our floorboards. He pulled a gun from the safe, unwrapped it from the microfiber cloth and set it on the table next to mine. They were identical. Furrowing my eyebrows, I inspected each weapon and stared back up at my husband. "Where did you get that?"
"Bought it from a pawnshop somewhere in Iowa when I was sixteen. The guy told me I was probably a good enough shot that I only needed one."
I shook my head and picked up both of the beautiful weapons. The heft was just right; they were equally balanced, perfectly complimentary and felt right together. I smiled lightly at Dean. "There's no telling what else connects our paths."
Liberty reached for me as I kissed Dean on the cheek. I took the baby, turned and began pacing around the living room again. Serra could be anywhere and until I got on the road after her, I wouldn't be anywhere close to calm.
"We need to figure out a plan," I was saying. "Did Sam rent a car?"
Dean shrugged, "Honestly, he probably stole one to get here faster. He'll probably get here in the next few minutes."
"What are we going to do with Liberty? I feel like we may need Cas wherever we are when it comes down to it."
Dean nodded, agreeing with me. "I got someone we can ask."
I raised my eyebrows, gesturing to his phone on the table in front of me. "Make the call."
"It's been too long since I heard from you boys," a female voice said over the speaker. "I should wring the both of your necks."
"I know, Jody, I'm sorry. Life just kinda…" Dean glanced at me and smiled, "took off."
"Took off?" she said, lecturing. "What could have possibly happened to take almost a year between phone calls?"
Dean hesitated, making a face. "I got married and had a baby?"
There was silence over the line, as this woman, Jody, seemed to process what Dean had said. "You did what now?"
Chuckling, Dean ran a hand over his hair and rubbed the back of his neck, almost embarrassed. "You heard me, Jody. Her name is Grace," he said, looking up at me and nodding towards the phone.
"Hi, Jody," I said, trying my best to smile and sound as if my sister wasn't possessed by the King of Hell.
Jody clicked her tongue over the line and I could tell she was smiling, "It's nice to meet you, honey. How in the hell did you tame that boy?"
I shrugged, "I didn't, really."
"And a baby? When do I get to meet her? Him?"
"Her," Dean said, taking over again, sensing my distress level. "Her name is Liberty. And you can come by and meet her sooner rather than later."
Jody sighed into the phone and paused, taking a deep breath, "The names on these ladies. It sounds like you're surrounded by beautiful women, Dean."
"Seriously, Jody. Come by. What are you doing today?"
She seemed to be caught off guard, but not flustered. "Today? Are you in town?"
Hesitating, Dean made another face. "No. We're in Lawrence. We kind of have a problem."
"You're telling me that you waited almost a year to call me, but the only reason you're calling me is because you need me for something?" she asked, her tone remarkably firm, "Is that what you're saying, Winchester?"
Jody sighed, "What do you need, son?"
Dean took a deep breath, knowing he could count on this woman, Jody. As far as I was concerned, she sounded like Dean's mother, so I was perfectly at ease with whatever Dean and Jody decided on, considering the more time we wasted coming up with a plan, the farther into the wind Serra would be.
I had calls out to several of my old hunting buddies, trying to get a lock on the GPS of her phone or any sightings of the bright blue El Camino that Sam normally drove. No one had been able to help, and now, an hour after figuring out that Serra had been possessed, we were no closer to bringing her home.
"Thanks, Jody. We owe you, big time."
"I know you do. I'll see you guys soon."
Dean hung up the phone and said, "She'll be here within the afternoon. She's coming form Sioux Falls, but she's a Sherriff with the Sioux Falls Sherriff's department and can take a Highway Patrol car and break all the speed limits." Dean raised his eyebrows, hoping for a smile from me. When I simply stared back, he closed his mouth and made a tight line with his lips.
"How long?" I said, not in the mood for smiling.
"She'll be here in about four and a half hours."
I was already pacing around the room again, shaking my head. "That's too long, Dean. Serra could be anywhere."
"That's the shortest amount of time I could get you, honey," he said, shrugging. "I know you're worried, but there's nothing else I can do to make her get here faster."
I stood, rolling my head from side to side, popping the tension that had gathered there in the last hour or so. Handing Libby to him, I turned on my heel and began gathering ammunition and stuffing it into my messenger bag. I grabbed Serra's guns and my own pearl handled .45 and turned to face my husband. "You wait for Jody," I said, "I'm going after my sister."
Dean put Libby into her swing and snapped the buckle, coming over to the table to face me. "If you think I'm letting you go out there by yourself—"
"What, Dean?" I said, challenging him, "What are you going to do to stop me?"
His expression was almost as if I had physically hit him. The color left his face and he tilted his head slightly, gazing at me with his pale green eyes. "I can't stop you, Grace. I won't," he said quietly, "because I know what it's like worrying about your sibling, knowing that they're out there, but there's nothing you can do. But if you go by yourself into a trap that Crowley has set, I don't know what I would do."
"I can handle Crowley."
"I have no doubts that you can, but to what cost?" Dean argued, still leaning on the table full of weapons. "What happens when he comes after you? What if he possesses you? Or stabs Serra to get you to do something?"
I broke eye contact, staring down Dean's matching .45. "I can't risk waiting, Dean. What if I lose her?"
"What if Lib loses you?"
I stared at Dean, unwilling to admit that he was right, but also still unwilling to back down from the fight. I turned to stare at our daughter, babbling to herself in her swing. I shook my head, still unable to wait. "I can't Dean. I have to go after her."
"I know," Dean said, in almost a whisper. "You catch up to her. Observe and tail. Don't interact. I'll wait for Sam and Jody. Then we'll come find you."
Crossing the living room, I picked up my purse, threw the rest of the ammo from the table into it, wound up my phone charger and stuffed it into my pocket, grabbed the turquoise flannel I loved so much and walked around the table to hug Dean. "I'll be in contact."
"You'd better be," he said, hesitant to release me. "Turn on the GPS in your phone."
As I pulled on my boots, I took out my phone and allowed Dean to do what he needed to do with my phone. "All set?" I asked, standing up next to him.
"Yeah," he handed it back to me and I stuffed it back into my jeans pocket. We stared at each other, hesitating. Finally, he reached for my face and took a breath. "Use what you know. Keep him out." I nodded into his hand, knowing he was referring to Crowley and the powers I possessed. "I love you."
I smiled, smug. "I know," I said, kissing him and turning on my heel with my purse and the messenger bag full of weapons. I bent to kiss Liberty and took a deep breath, inhaling her scent. "I love you, meatloaf. Be a good girl."
With a final glance, I walked out the door. I pulled out the keys to my Chevelle and glanced at the house. I shouted, "There's formula in the cabinet!" to Dean, hoping he would hear me.
The screen door opened and he squinted into the sun. "I know, I found it yesterday. Cheater."
Ducking into my car, I revved the engine, threw it into reverse and peeled out down the driveway, throwing gravel out behind me. The radio came on, syncing with my phone, and automatically, "Highway to Hell" began to pound out of my speakers.
Get ready, Crowley. I'm coming.
Sitting at a diner, surrounded by people, Crowley sipped his coffee, waiting for the elder Browning sister to show, just as he knew she would. There wasn't a snowball's chance that she would be stupid enough to bring the…baby with her, which meant Not Moose would stay until they found someone to keep her. The Winchesters, though annoying, were very predictable. Protect the family at all cost. Crowley knew them well, and anticipated the Browning sisters to be very similar; especially considering the deal their father had made, decades earlier to protect their mother and the sister.
Once Moose and Squirrel joined Blondie to "rescue" the Little Sister, the baby would be alone long enough to take.
I hope you realize that I am going to Scooby-Doo your plan as soon as my sister gets close enough, Serra thought. I can hear your plan, asshat.
Crowley smiled, pinky up, sipping his coffee as he listened to the internal monologue coming from his hostess. He didn't bother responding, but merely put up with her incessant need to dialog.
This whole plan is bullshit anyway. Taking over my body? Do you really think that Grace is going to hesitate when she sees me? She knows well enough to sacrifice me in order to kill you.
"If she's anything like your father, you're probably right," Crowley said. "So quick to sacrifice your mother to save her."
If saving Liberty means killing me, then so be it. At least you'll go down with me, Serra thought.
"We'll see," Crowley said, taking another sip.
I drove faster than I had driven in years. The Chevelle had no trouble keeping up; the engine roared across the open highway. My mind was open, searching for Serra's mental footprint as I drove. My instincts told me that I was headed in the right direction, but I had no way to prove it. I was essentially driving blind until I heard from one of the boys or caught a scent of my sister.
Being so open had its disadvantages as well. I could hear everyone. Mailmen, other drivers on the road, truckers I passed, and the occasional child, in the backseat on a road trip with their family. I focused on tuning them out, concentrating only on Serra's familiarity.
"I could really use a hand, Cas," I said aloud, not knowing if he would hear me or not.
The next thing I knew, he was sitting in the passenger seat next to me, squinting out through the windshield, his blue eyes unfocused and staring out at the highway.
"At least you're headed in the right direction," he said as if he had been sitting there the entire time. "If you wanted to speed things up, you could have asked earlier."
"If you know that Crowley's got her, why didn't you show up sooner?" I said, instantly angry. "Where have you been?"
Castiel stared at me, his eyebrows furrowed in what I could only imagine was anger, "As I've told the boys on numerous occasions, I am not at their, or your, beck and call. I do have a job, trying to put Heaven back together. We had a Civil War. And the apocalypse…then there was that leviathan debacle..." He turned to stare out the window again, "It's not always about the Winchester family."
I sighed and rolled my eyes, still driving too fast. "Oh, forgive me, your Holiness."
"You're forgiven," Cas said, glancing at me, completely missing my sarcasm, "of course."
I snuck a peek at Castiel and shook my head, "Okay, so where is she?"
He sat, silent, for more than a few minutes as I tore down the highway. "She's close," he said, listening to something unheard by me, "and she's putting up quite a good fight."
I nodded, knowing Serendipity wouldn't give up easily. Even is Crowley continued to possess her, she would take it upon herself to make him as miserable as she could while he took control of her body. I just hoped that she would keep her own thoughts to herself, namely the only secret weapon we had: me.
When it came down to it, there would be a fight. I knew Crowley was after the one thing that could hurt all of us the most: Liberty. There had to be a way to get him out of Serra's body and into the air long enough to destroy him, I just had no idea how to do that.
Cas seemed to be listening to each thought I had, because he tilted his head and took a breath. "There are ways," he began, "holding him in place is going to be the hardest part. We need to be able to trap him before he's able to possess anyone else, or take off after Liberty."
"The boys are both tattooed…they're safe, right?"
"The only one left is me, but I can just draw it on my arm or something before I get there," I said, shrugging.
"You won't need to," Cas responded calmly.
I glanced towards my passenger, confused. "What do you mean? We want him to possess me?"
"You misunderstand," he said. "You're half angel. Crowley will be unable to possess you, and I feel the same about Liberty. She probably has enough of you in her to protect her."
I could feel my body relax slightly. Finally, something seemed to be going our way. "Okay, so how to we flush him out of Serra, trap him and keep him out of her so he doesn't use her as a shield?"
Castiel only stared out the window, hesitant to answer.
My memories flashed to the bullets imprinted with the Devils' Trap. They would be enough to keep Crowley out. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Castiel nod. Turning to stare at him, I pressed my lips together in a tight line.
"I'm going to have to shoot my sister, aren't I." It wasn't a question.
Castiel turned to watch me intently, gauging my reaction. My eyes found the road again and I sighed. "Well," I said, "it's not the first time."
For the last three hours or so, Serra had been doing everything she could to hold back her own thoughts and feelings from Crowley while he possessed her. The less he knew about their family, the more easily Grace would be able to get the drop on him. Being stubborn was one of Serra's strongest suits but after finally giving in to Crowley's demands after the semi truck incident, she was more cooperative, or so he thought.
Observe. Categorize. Manipulate if necessary. Serra's father's words echoed in her mind over and over as Crowley's thoughts continued to flood her mind. More and more, Serendipity gave Crowley the illusion of control, but more and more, she was regaining her body. Manipulate if necessary. It was the biggest con that she would ever pull, if it worked.
Crowley had given up on his cup of coffee and they got back into Sam's El Camino and headed back out onto the highway. They drove to an open field, across from a cemetery, and they stepped into the bright afternoon sun. Observe. Categorize. Manipulate.
Serra glanced at her boots in the dirt and did her best to get Crowley to look around the entire field so she could get a feel for what was in store. "Your sister is close," he said under his breath. "Very close."
Oh, good. We can start the party early, then, Serra thought. Are you as excited as me?
"I hardly think this is something that you should be excited about," Crowley said, allowing Serra to pace him around the field, slowly, taking in all of the sights. "We're simply getting closer to your oncoming demise, little one."
Uh-huh, Serra said, holding him in monologue. It's just something I've never done before. You know, new things get me kind of excited.
Crowley made another loop around the field, his hands behind his back, completely at ease. "I'm glad you feel that way," he murmured. There was a very distant rumble of an engine, barely discernible to even Crowley. Looking up, into the distance, Crowley listened.
She was still miles away, but that was definitely the elder Browning sister. Crowley smiled to himself, victory over the Winchesters was only hours away.
"We're close to her, I know it," I said, frustrated. We made another u-turn, going back the way we had come only moments before. "I just can't pin her down!" I glanced at Cas, frustration getting the best of me. "It's like they keep moving around! I can't get a solid lock on her."
Cas pulled my phone out of my purse and held it up. "She has moved," Castiel said quietly. "I agree with your initial thought process though, I see them in a field with a cemetery as well."
I don't know why I was shocked. I knew Castiel could hear my thoughts and see the images that I was seeing in my mind's eye, but having someone in your brain after you've spent years in other peoples' is always a bit disconcerting. "Okay, so where's the cemetery we can both see?"
He bent and dug the phone out of my purse. "We could ask your phone? What is her name? Geri?"
I laughed at Castiel, grateful for the levity of the situation. "Sure, her name can be Geri. Just bring up the map of the area so I can find a highway that heads the direction I want to go." I took the phone after pulling off the highway and searched as quickly as I could for any easy route through the farmlands that led to a cemetery and fields. As I typed into the map feature of my phone, it began to ring, and Dean and Liberty's picture appeared on the screen.
"What's up?" I asked, sliding the unlock to answer him.
"Where are you?" his voice came, gruff and serious, "we're on our way."
I glanced at the radio, checking the time. It had only been about an hour. "Where's Lib? I thought you were going to wait for Jody?"
"We did. She pulled a favor and had a friend drop her in the middle of our field," he said. He paused, enjoying my confusion, "her buddy is an air news and traffic reporter, with a chopper."
"Good friend," I sighed, laughing quietly. "We're off the side of highway 59, headed north. I'm trying to figure out where a cemetery surrounded by fields would be. Cas and I can both see her in a field near a cemetery."
Dean shot a look to his brother as they got into the Impala. "A cemetery?" he asked, still staring at Sam. "Sutton is close. Only about twenty minutes from here."
"You know the cemetery? Is it close to fields? Farmland?" I asked, my excitement getting the better of me. Of course Dean would know where the cemetery was.
Sam was shaking his head, nervous. Dean held the phone out as he spoke with his wife, "Yeah, I'd say we know where it is. It's where Sam put Lucifer back in the cage."
I was silent, not really comprehending the gravity of the situation. My sister was the only thing I really cared about at this moment and I was bent on getting to her as fast as I could. Castiel chanced a look at me after Dean reminded him of the battle.
"I don't think it means anything that he has chosen that location," Cas said quietly. "I don't even know if he knows that's where that battle went down." Taking a breath, he tilted his head, still lost in thought. "I really believe that it was simply the closest location that he felt comfortable in, that he also knew we would be uncomfortable."
"Whatever," I said, turning the Chevelle back around, doing a u-turn in the middle of the highway and rejoining the flow of traffic. "Meet us there."
Dean and Sam peeled out of the driveway with Jody and Liberty looking on.
Crowley smiled, feeling that the Winchesters were getting closer. He was breathing slowly, comfortable in Serra's body. "Though she is tiny, she is fierce," he quoted, smiling to himself.
Of course I'm fierce. I've had to be all my life, Serra thought furiously, grateful for more distraction as she led her boots in a continuing pattern in the dirt. Doing her best to keep quiet about her plan, she dragged her boots slightly as she walked. It's monsters like you that make people like me, she said, internally smiling. Just wait until Grace gets here. She's gonna show you what the Brownings are really made of.
"Of course," Crowley purred, content on allowing Serra to think she was going to survive the next few hours. "Just wait until you see what I'm made of," he answered.
The rumble Crowley detected earlier finally was gaining closer proximity. "It seems that your sister and that trench-coated abomination have finally figured out where we are." He took a deep breath, smiling slightly. "Get ready, princess. I truly apologize for the damage we may cause to your body. It's a very nice one. One of the nicest I've had the pleasure of riding in."
Oh, gee. Thank you, Serra said, rolling her eyes internally, really, you're too kind.
Serra took the remaining steps of her pattern and watched the Chevelle drive into the field at a crawl. Sighing with relief, she grinned. Finally.
Grace opened the door to the Chevelle and Cas joined her in front of the hood. "Serra?" Grace called, cautious.
"Hello, Castiel," Crowley purred. "So nice to see you again."
Dean pushed the Impala to its limits as he screamed down the highway towards Sutton Cemetery. Sam was a nervous wreck, spinning his new wedding ring around his finger repeatedly, staring out the window. "It's gonna be okay, Sammy," Dean said over the roar of the engine. "She'll be okay. Your girl is tough."
Silently, Sam nodded next to him.
Looking back to the road, Dean pushed the Impala harder. "Come on, Baby. Don't fail me now."
I watched as Crowley moved my sister's body closer one-step at a time. It was the oddest thing I had ever seen…Serra was standing in front of me, but it was like a watching a bad copy of her. She moved stiffly, her posture was awkward and she tried to put her hands in her pockets, but her pockets were too small. She settled for crossing her arms across her chest, the outline of her horseshoe and lace tattoo visible on the backside of her forearm. I was seeing Serra, but not Serra. I didn't really know how to proceed.
"Lucky, are you okay?" I asked, taking a step towards her.
She smiled, Crowley's language patterns coming out of her mouth, "Lucky? That's cute. She doesn't seem so fortuitous at the moment, now does she?"
Cas took a step towards me, his thoughts pushing their way into my head. Look at the ground, he thought, look what she did.
There, on the ground, drawn in the mud, was a giant Devil's trap. Serra was a genius and obviously still a little in control of her body. It wouldn't last long, but it would hold enough until we figured out how to deal with Crowley.
I could hear the Impala on the highway, making its way closer to us and I smiled, getting my confidence back. Our husbands were here, united, and I knew, then and there, that we would win.
Dean's door slammed shut and Sam was behind me in seconds, breathing hard and pushing his hair out of his face. "Serra!" he yelled, his emotions getting the best of him, "Serra!"
Standing slightly in front of me, Dean had his gun out, ready for whatever might come next.
"Isn't this quaint," Crowley began, having all of our attention, "all of the Winchesters all in one place. I hear congratulations are in order, Moose."
"Get out of her," Sam said, taking another step forward.
Crowley nodded slowly, his eyebrows raised, "All in good time," he said. "I have plans for Grace and Not Moose. I've heard you've procreated."
I knew Serra had control of her mind when images began flooding through my brain while Crowley spoke; pictures of Liberty, Crowley and the nursery floated through my mind, painting a picture of Crowley's plan. I watched momentarily and then reached for Dean's hand. Glancing down at me, he raised his eyebrows. I grabbed his hand, pushed the vision at him and waited for comprehension to dawn on him. He caught on quickly and shook his head. Fury radiated from my husband, knowing that Crowley was after our daughter.
"Come on, Crowley," I said mockingly, stepping around Dean. I was calm, but angrier than I had ever been. "Come on out and play."
Crowley smiled at the sound of my voice, "Oh, love. It sounds like you're upset with me." He took a step forward, closer to me. I took one more step and waited. Mockingly, I gestured to him, using one finger to beckon him closer.
I watched as Serra opened her mouth as if she was going to yawn and red smoke circled around her as it came pouring out of her mouth. I had to get the timing perfect. I pulled my gun, taking the safety off, and aiming it at my sister. The last of Crowley's red smoke came out of her mouth and I stared hard at my sister, willing her to hear me.
I'm sorry. Don't move.
Serra and I locked eyes as the red smoke circled around her once more and made the attempt to fly towards me. Crowley was stuck in the Devil's trap that Serra had drawn with her boot while Crowley still possessed her body. The smoke was panicked, flying around the trap over and over again. The boys held their positions as I locked my aim.
Closing her eyes, Serra nodded once. I pulled the trigger.
She took it like a champ, the shot echoing through the fields as the pentagram-stamped bullet pierced her left thigh. Serra hit the ground, landing in the mud beneath her. The red smoke had already begun its attempt to reenter Serra's body, but the bullet that I shot into her thigh kept Crowley circling.
"Go, Cas!" Dean yelled, as he and Sam headed towards Serra, still lying in the center of the trap. Very carefully not to disturb the lines of the trap, Sam bent and scooped his wife from the mud, blood pouring from the wound in her thigh. Castiel, hearing Dean's command, moved towards the circle, closed his eyes and began a chant that I had never heard.
"Priinceps gloriosissime caelestis, militia, sancte Michhael Archangele, defede nos in paraelio et colluctatione, quae nobis…" he began. I headed to the trap as well, pushing hard on my sister's thigh with my hand, trying to slow the bleeding. I couldn't heal her until the fight was over; she would be left undefended from possession again. On our way out of the trap, I tripped on a stone and dragged my boot across the line in the mud connecting the sigils, keeping Crowley in the circle.
"Shit," I said, attempting to redraw it as quickly as I could. It was too late. Crowley's red smoke was out, circling around me, the only unmarked person left in the group. I could feel him pushing against my walls, demanding to be let in.
I could hear Castiel still chanting as a thought occurred to me. Dean was yelling, and Sam was running as he carried a bleeding Serra towards the Impala and I stood, waiting to allow Crowley to take me.
"Wait, Gracie, what are you doing?" Dean yelled, noticing that I wasn't running with them anymore. Crowley circled me, and I winked at Dean. "Grace? No!"
I put my head back, opening my mouth. Crowley came into me, taking control of my body as I was yelling to Serra in my mind. Shoot me, Lucky. Lock him in me! I have a plan.
I could hear Serra yelling at Sam to slow down. "Wait! Wait!" she was yelling, "Dean, I need a gun!"
Turning and without hesitation, knowing that Serra knew my plan, Dean tossed his .45 to Serra as Crowley entered my body completely. I smiled as Serra caught the gun, Sam turned and from her position in his arms, she fired.
The bullet entered my thigh, in much the same place that it entered Serra's. The pain was less that I had anticipated and I even managed to stay on my feet. Crowley attempted to take over my body, demanding to use my voice and to allow him to take my brain. I smiled because I had no desire to bend to his will. It was like having anyone else in my brain…after seventeen years of reading other people's minds, I was used to the company.
I hope you like it in here, I thought, because your plans of heading towards my daughter? Well, that's not going to work out for you.
The fury that rattled through my head was entertaining. Crowley had barely enough control to have his own independent thoughts. You trapped me in your own body? He asked. Why? What do you hope to accomplish?
I smiled. "I'm a nephilim," I said aloud. "Only half human. The other half can burn you from the inside out."
There was a long pause in my mind as the King of Hell's internal battle raged on. Dean stood in front of Sam and Serra, still putting pressure on her leg. Castiel had stopped his chant, the plan shifting considerably as I allowed Crowley in. Then what happens to you, love? What happens to your human body as you burn me?
I took a deep breath as my family looked on. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, "I'm a Winchester. I'll improvise."
I could feel the heat as it radiated from somewhere deep inside me, like my soul itself was on fire. Crowley was in pain, but refused to acknowledge it. "Grace!" I could hear Serra scream. I had no idea what I looked like from the outside, but I knew this might not go as I had planned.
Sam held Serra as Dean put his entire body into holding off the bleeding coming from the open wound on her thigh. Castiel backed towards them as Grace closed her eyes. "Cas? Is she gonna be okay?" Dean said, fighting with himself about going after Grace. "What is she doing?"
"She's going to destroy him," Cas said simply. "I have no idea how this will go. I've never experienced it happening before."
"She's gonna burn him, like she did with the vamps," Serra said, her teeth clamped together in pain. "She told me right before he took her."
Sam took over as Dean released Serra's thigh, wiping her blood on his shirt. Dean was close to panic, watching his wife stand perfectly still while she dealt with the demon from the inside. He had no idea what was happening, but he knew she wouldn't go down without a fight.
"Come on, baby," he whispered, watching intently. "Don't break my heart."
If it had been night, the sky would have lit up for miles, the light coming from Grace's every orifice was so intensely bright. Dean shielded his eyes with his hand, taking a step towards a still-bleeding Grace, as she stood in the center of the Devil's trap, still semi-drawn in the mud. Castiel stood in front of Dean, Sam and Serra as a siren-like, high pitched sound emanated from Grace.
"What is that?" Serra screamed, putting her hands over her ears, "Is that Grace?"
"Yes," Cas shouted. "It's Grace's true voice! Close your eyes, cover your ears!"
The windows of all of the cars shattered around them, exploding glass flew everywhere. Castiel stepped in front of my family, blocking them from the light and sound as much as he could. The earth beneath our feet began to shake and I struggled to stay in control. Crowley's mind was screaming, writhing in pain as I continued the assault. With a final push from my mind, I dropped to my knees and opened my mouth, looking as if I would be sick.
Whatever was left of Crowley came pouring out of my mouth and lit the wet grass on fire, smoldering slightly and sending gray smoke into the air. The liquid was black, forming a puddle in the mud before it bubbled and seeped through the earth, leaving a burned hole in the ground. I gasped for air, my entire body shaking from the effort of battling with the King of Hell. As the world around us stilled, Castiel stepped to the side and everyone watched me with trepidation.
Dean was the first to break ranks, running towards me and throwing himself on the ground. "Grace?" he asked quietly, almost afraid to touch me, "Gracie, talk to me."
I had no ability to speak yet and only shook my head, still on my hands and knees in the cold mud. I leaned back on my knees, pulled my hands from the muck and sat, attempting to straighten out my wounded leg. I felt very little pain, still in shock from what had just happened. "Grace!" I heard Serra from her place on the hood of the Impala. "Are you okay?"
Nodding ever so slightly, I looked up at my sister. You? I thought at her.
Smiling with tears in her eyes, she nodded once back to me.
I don't remember what happened next, but I woke up in Dean's arms, Castiel's hand on my thigh, healing me. He pulled the bullet from my leg and handed it to Serendipity. She noticed that I was awake and she smiled, holding up both pentagram-stamped bullets. "Look, sis. We're twins."
Dean glanced down at me and his eyes searched my face, looking for any sign that I was in pain. I smiled lightly at him and looked back at Serra. "You always wanted to be twins," I whispered, the sound rough and strangled.
After hugging me tightly, Dean set me gently on the hood of the Impala next to Serra. "You're insane," he said, staring into my eyes.
Serra laughed, obviously happy to be free of Crowley and healed, thanks to Cas. "She had a plan," she said, defending me. "I could hear her the whole time."
Sam turned to glance at me, his eyebrows furrowed. "You could hear her?"
She nodded, holding both bullets. "Yeah, as soon as I told her about Crowley's plan to take Lib, it's like we were linked. I could hear every thought she had, and I'm pretty sure it was a two lane street."
I agreed with her, nodding once. "It's like you were in my brain."
Sam grinned, "You guys could have let us into the loop."
"We couldn't say it out loud. Crowley didn't know about Grace."
Surprised, Sam turned to look at his wife, "Didn't know? What do you mean? You held that information from him while he was possessing you?"
"Of course I did. What, do you think I'm a pushover?" Serra accused, "Jesus, it's like you don't know me at all."
Dean held me close, still dealing with the concern that had taken hold during the fight with Crowley. "I thought I was about to be a single father," he said, his face buried in my hair. "Stop doing that to me."
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, tears coming to my eyes. I knew it had been a close one and the look on Castiel's face told me that he knew the same. Neither one of us had known what would happen if I tried to destroy Crowley from within me. It all ended fine, of course, but there were a few seconds that I didn't know if I was coming home with my family.
Serra put a hand on my back as she used her other arm to wrap around Sam. I reached backwards to hold her hand while keeping my other arm around Dean. Another close call under our belt and one more demon destroyed. I looked up without shifting my position to stare at the bubbling hole in the mud. Smoke still rose from the center of it, ominous and full of pain. I closed my eyes, unwilling to stare any longer.
We collectively calmed down and Serra stood gingerly, her leg obviously still sore from where the bullet had been. She looked at her jeans, making a face. "I loved these jeans," she said quietly. Her eyes went wide, suddenly, and she undid the button and zipper and pulled down her jeans, searching for something.
Dean happened to notice her movements and raising his eyebrows, he said, "Giving away free shows, there, Lucky?"
Sam stood in front of her, blocking her from Dean's path, "Come on, man," he said, shaking his head at his brother. He turned towards his wife, "What are you doing?"
"There better not be a goddammed scar through the lace and roses on my hip," Serra said through her locked jaw. "Grace, I swear, if you shot me through that tattoo…" she faded away as she fought with her jeans. I moved closer, trying not to smile at her frustration. She locked eyes with me, pressing her lips together, "I swear, end of days." Finally, she succeeded in pulling her jeans down enough to see that her tattoo was unharmed, the lace and roses surrounding the Colt Peacemaker on her hip and thigh remained intact. She stared at me, relaxing her face only slightly. "You're really lucky, sister. I would have murdered you in the darkness."
"You're kinda scary when you're pissed," Dean said, stepping away from her, standing behind me. We headed back to the car, Castiel hesitating behind us. "Everything okay, Cas?" Dean asked, waiting.
Hesitating only a minute longer, Castiel turned and nodded, still with the look of seriousness on his face. "The world sounds different," he said. "Crowley left quite an imprint on his surroundings when he was alive."
"He's dead, then," Sam said, putting an arm around Serra's shoulder. "For sure?"
"Dead might not be the correct adjective," Cas answered, tilting his head. "He was dead before. He's more accurately described as 'destroyed' now."
"Thanks for clearing that up for us," Dean said, dryly.
As we approached the cars, I shook my head, looking at the glass on the ground. "Shit," I said under my breath. The only windows left were the back windows on the Impala and the windshield on my Chevelle. The El Camino had all of its windows blown out. The glass was piled in the mud and on the seats. I chanced a look at Dean and he was shaking his head, staring at the Impala. "I'm so sorry, Dean."
He looked at me, swallowing hard, and shook his head. "It's not your fault, baby. You took care of Crowley. If this is all it cost…" He wrapped his arm around me again, "Then it was worth it."
The drive back to the house felt longer than it should. Serra drove the Chevelle back, Sam followed her in the El Camino and Dean and I brought up the rear in the Impala. I hadn't been in the seat two minutes before I fell asleep, curled up in a ball, doing my best to absorb Dean's heat.
Dean parked the Impala next to Sam and Serra in the dirt of our driveway and carried me inside, still shaky, exhausted and in and out of consciousness. He laid me on the couch and I passed out again almost immediately. Then, Dean walked towards Jody, who was holding Liberty, trying to get her to sleep.
"Everyone alright?" Jody said, eyeing a sleeping Grace on the couch.
Dean nodded slowly, taking his daughter and nuzzling her forehead. He sighed as he stared at his wife, asleep on the couch. "I think so."
"You think so?" Jody asked, walking towards Grace. She reached out to feel her head and looked around for a blanket. "What the hell happened, Dean? She's shaking."
Serra climbed the porch steps and trudged into the house, barely able to hold the screen door for Sam. Jody looked up and grinned, seeing Sam still in one piece. "Sammy," she said, walking over to him, "everyone looks beat. You okay?"
Running a hand through his hair, Sam nodded, raising his eyebrows. "Yeah, I think so." He paused, glancing at Serra, who was standing over Grace. "Jody, I'd like you to meet my wife, Serendipity."
Serra turned upon hearing her name and walked straight to Jody. "Thank you for staying with my niece," she said, not hesitating, wrapping Jody into a bear hug. "You probably saved her life today."
Jody hugged Serra tightly back, smoothing her long hair. "Oh, sweetie. It's nice to meet you. You're very welcome." She held Serra by the shoulders as she took a long look at her. "You're so beautiful, honey. Congratulations."
"Oh, yeah," Serra sighed, "we got married. Shit. That feels like months ago."
Sam rubbed his face, "Hell yes it does. God, was that yesterday?"
Only nodding, his new wife nodded her head. "I need a shower. A very long shower," she said, smiling once more at Jody. "I'll be back in, like an hour."
Dean smiled lightly at his sister-in-law and gestured upstairs. "Grace just did a load of laundry. It's still on the bed. Dig through and grab what you want."
Nodding her thanks, Serra gave a longing look towards Sam, kissed him lightly on the cheek, and dragged herself upstairs.
Taking off the bloody, muddy flannel he wore with one arm while still holding his daughter, Dean headed towards the rocker in the living room and collapsed into it. He centered Libby in the middle of his chest and she succumbed to sleep. Resting his head on the back of the chair, he waved at the chair next to him. Jody took the invitation and came to sit next to him, a wistful smile on her face.
"You're a natural, Dean," she said, rubbing Liberty's back lightly. "She's just perfect."
Dean nodded, closing his eyes. The weight of the day was finally hitting him as he stared lovingly at a still unconscious Grace. "Yeah, she is. So is her mother."
Jody glanced behind her and upon seeing Grace again; she turned back to Dean, her eyebrows creased in concern. "Is she okay? Should we be taking her somewhere?"
He shook his head; watching Sam walk to the kitchen, wash his hands and face, and take three bottles of beer out of the fridge. "I don't think so," Dean began, "Cas healed her up nicely, but she's just…She's spent."
Sam handed Jody and Dean a bottle each. "I just can't believe you boys are family men now," she said, nodding her thanks as Sam sat on the floor, stretching out and laying down. Jody turned serious, watching Dean carefully. "What happened out there, Dean? You guys just took off and honestly, I didn't know if I'd see any of you again."
He looked down at Liberty before answering. "I know, Jody, I'm sorry. We had to move. Crowley…you remember Crowley?" Jody nodded, so Dean continued, "Crowley possessed Serra last night, intending on getting Liberty. Long story short? Their dad made a Crossroads deal decades ago and another demon killed him before Crowley got the soul. Then, not knowing we had the connection, I gave Cas The First Blade instead of him years ago, double crossing him, and I guess he was still pretty pissed." Dean took a deep breath and shrugged. "Shit went down. Hard."
Sam sat up on the floor, rubbing his face. Jody glanced at him, worry etched in the lines on her face. "And where does Grace fit in to all of this?" Jody asked.
"Serra and Grace are sisters," Sam began, taking over the story. "It was their dad that made the deal, trying to save their mom and Grace when she was born." Struggling to stay focused on the story, he took another swig of beer and continued. "We found out last year that Grace is a nephilim," Jody's face turned confused and Sam anticipated the question. "It means she's half human and half angel," he said.
"Half angel?" Jody repeated, raising her eyebrows. "How does that even happen?"
Dean was smiling at how ridiculous it all sounded. "It means that her mom couldn't get knocked up on her own, she prayed and allowed an angel to use her as a vessel to help her conceive Grace." He took a drink from the bottle he held and sighed. "Grace has all these abilities and I think she's only starting to really know what she can do."
Agreeing, Sam nodded. "She can read minds, can see visions of the future and predict movements before they're made, but only when she concentrates. It used to be just psychic by touch, remember?" Sam asked, glancing up at Dean. "Back when life was simple?"
"Simple?" Jody asked. "Being a psychic was simple?"
Dean nodded, smiling. "Surprisingly, yeah. That was the simple ability." He sighed again, leaning his head forward to smell Libby's head. "Now she can smite with the best of them."
"Yeah, smite. She touches something she wants to destroy and she can burn them from the inside. It's a little terrifying," Dean finished, taking another drink.
"The girls took on fourteen vampires alone a few weeks back," Sam said, staring at Jody, deadpan. "Killed them all."
Choking on her beer, Jody covered her mouth in surprise and gawked at Sam. "Alone?" she finally spit out. "Unbelievable."
"Yeah, and last night, Grace took on Crowley. Alone."
Jody looked from Dean to Sam and back to Dean again. "I thought you said Crowley possessed Serra?"
Dean nodded, "He did. Grace coaxed him out of her body, shot her in the leg with a Devil's trap imprinted bullet and locked him out of Serra's body. Then she took him in, Serra shot Grace, locking him in Grace's body and she burned him up. From the inside." Jody stared at Dean, unbelieving. He paused and then grinned ironically. "Yeah. Lemme tell you, watching it happen was worse than listening to it after the fact."
Shaking his head, Sam laid back down on the carpet and put his arm over his face. A silence fell in the living room of Dean and Grace's house and they listened to Libby and Grace sleep. Jody got up from her chair and started getting things out of the pantry to cook…hamburger meat, breadcrumbs, pasta, and spaghetti sauce. She busied herself by rolling meatballs to bake and put water on to boil for the pasta. "Well, I know one thing, y'all have plenty of room, so I'm staying here until you get yourselves back on your feet. I'll help take care of that beautiful baby and you can get your women put back together."
"Jody, you don't have to do that," Dean was saying as he stood and walked over to the kitchen, Liberty still in his arms. "If you need to get back…"
"Bite your tongue, boy," Jody snapped. "I don't know anything about your girls and I intend on learning. Right now, you don't have a choice, Winchester."
"Yes, ma'am," Dean answered quietly. He turned back to his sleeping wife and felt her face. She was still cold.
Looking towards Dean and Grace, Sam opened his eyes and questioned Dean, "Is she okay?"
"I don't know. Cas said she was, but…" Dean faded away and leaned towards his wife, listening to her breathe. "She's breathing, but she's cold and shaking still."
"She puked out the King of Hell, Dean," Sam said quietly, "I think she's allowed to be a little tired."
Dean nodded, still staring at his wife. "I'll give her until the morning. Then I'm calling Cas."
Jody's meal of spaghetti and meatballs was ready soon thereafter and Liberty sat with Jody as the Winchesters ate hungrily. Serra had finally emerged from her shower, her hair wrapped in a towel and dressed in Grace's college sweatshirt and favorite red monkey pants. She threw herself down at the large dining room table and held her head with her hands.
Sammy reached out and rubbed her back, asking quietly, "How do you feel?"
"Better," Serra said from behind her hands, "I'm exhausted, but at least I feel clean again. Having a demon rattle around inside of you for two hours really messes with you." She looked up from her hands and sniffed. "What is that? I'm starving."
"I'll bet," Jody said, serving her a plateful of food. Serra took it gratefully and smiled lightly.
"Thank you," Serra said, glancing behind her towards the couch at her sister. "Has she been awake?"
Dean and Sam both shook their heads, their mouths full of spaghetti. Jody answered, "She's breathing, so Dean's giving her a full nights' sleep and we'll see how she is in the morning."
"What happens if she's not better in the morning? It's not like we can take her to the hospital." Serra made a face, "Yeah, my sister destroyed the King of Hell last night? She needs medical attention." She shook her head and took a bite. "We would sound insane."
"I'm talking about calling Cas again," Dean said, swallowing and glancing at Libby as she hit the table with a spoon. "If she's not back by morning, we'll have him come back and heal her again."
Jody bounced the baby on her knee, smiling at her while she continued hitting the table, "Have you considered that she just needs some time?" She looked up at the family and raised her eyebrows. "I mean, think about it, she battled internally with Crowley. That would have taken it out of anyone."
Serra was spoke through her mouthful of food. "She blew out the windows on the cars."
"You're kidding," Jody said. "How?"
Dean gestured as he spoke, describing what they saw, "She stood there, frozen, and then we hear this high-pitched siren sound and the ground shook…" he paused, reliving it. "She lit up the sky in the middle of the day."
"Then she collapsed," Sam said, staring off into the room absentmindedly. "Crowley came pouring out of her and she passed out."
"It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen," Serra said, "and I've seen a lot of shit."
Dean nodded, agreeing. "Yeah, I think it's up there with us, too." He glanced at Sam, who took another bite and nodded as well.
Turning, they all stared at Grace, still in the same position she had been since Dean put her down. "She's tough," Serendipity said quietly, "she'll pull through."
Sam reached across the table to Serra's hand. "You're okay, though, right?"
Smiling through her food, Serra nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just hungry. And tired."
Dean fell asleep immediately after showering that night with Liberty snoring next to him. He had carried Grace up the stairs as Jody followed with Libby and she had watched over the both of them while Dean had been in the bathroom. He dressed, came out and lay down next to the girls. He was snoring before Jody had bid him goodnight. Turning off the lights and closing the door, Jody walked slowly down the steps and found Serra and Sam attempting to gather their things to leave.
"Where do you think you two are going?" Jody said, crossing her arms. "Everyone needs to stay under one roof tonight, just to be safe."
Sam looked as though he wanted to argue, but gave up before words were even out of his mouth. "Yeah, okay," he said, rubbing his face again. Serra headed downstairs to the basement where Grace and Dean had included a bathroom and guest room as part of the locked-down panic room. Serra slid the panic room's airtight door all the way open and slid the curtain to let Sam in. She closed the curtain behind him and yelled, "Goodnight, Jody! Thanks for dinner!"
Jody smiled as she walked down the hall to the fourth bedroom on the main floor of the house. She sat in the armchair in the corner, smiled to herself and shut her eyes.
Dean met the morning feeling slightly hung over. Libby had slept through the night again, playing with her toes happily when Dean rolled to face her. "Hi baby girl," he whispered. She wiggled next to him and reached for his face. "How's your momma?"
Reaching across the bed, over Libby, Dean felt Grace's face again. She was warmer than last night and breathing calmly. She was still filthy, covered in grime from the battle with Crowley. Feeling his touch, Grace's eyes fluttered open and she looked around the room, confused.
"Gracie?" Dean asked quietly, "Can you hear me, honey?"
Opening my eyes hurt. Everything hurt. It was as if the light from the window itself hurt when it touched my skin. Dean's voice was in my head, running through thoughts a mile a minute. He seemed louder than normal and I had a hard time discerning what he was saying with his voice versus what he was saying with his mind. "What?" I said; my voice hoarse. "Stop thinking so much."
He smiled and sighed with relief. "You've been sleeping for about eighteen hours," Dean said, still touching my face, which hurt too. I pulled away slightly, trying to get his face to focus.
"What?" I said, still hearing more of his internal voice than his speaking voice.
Nodding, he smiled weakly. "We were getting worried."
With some effort, I sat up and attempted to look around. It was as if the volume on everything was turned up to max. "Why is everything so loud?" I whispered, holding my head. "I can't hear you."
Dean stood and walked to my side of the bed, his eyes narrowed as he watched me. "Loud?" he asked, trying to speak softly. "What do you mean? What are you hearing?"
I looked at him, my head throbbing and tried to figure out what I was listening to. From our bedroom, I could hear Serra's thoughts and even Sam's as they slept downstairs. There was a voice I was unfamiliar with, also in the house, that I could only assume was Jody's. I stared at Dean with my eyes half closed, trying to keep out the light. "Everything," I whispered. "I can hear everything."
Liberty heard my voice and turned her head to stare at me, her mouth agape with a giant smile and she flapped her hands happily. I reached for her, my body relaxing ever so slightly. Making contact, colors and images floated across my mind, including Dean's and my face. I gasped and pulled my hand away from Lib, her feet kicking excitedly. She raspberried as I stared at her, perplexed as to what I was seeing.
"What's the matter?" Dean asked, sitting next to me.
I glanced at him, my pain momentarily forgotten as I stared at our daughter. "I'm pretty sure I just saw what she was thinking."
Dean's eyes went wide and he smiled for the first time in what seemed like weeks. "What? What did you see?"
I reached out my hand and waited for his. Once we made contact, I pushed the memory of what I had seen through Liberty's mind. Taking a deep, ragged breath, Dean gazed off into the distance and a smile crept across his face. The scene ended and he looked up at me, surprise written all over his face. "That's what she showed you?"
I nodded and turned towards Lib again, smiling. "Hi gorgeous," I said, picking her up off the bed. I held her and she lay her head on my shoulder, cuddling with me, obviously missing me. "I'm not going anywhere for awhile, baby girl. Don't you worry."
Dean touched my leg, below the hole in my jeans from where Serra shot me the day before. "How do you feel? Aside from everything being loud?"
With his arm exposed, I automatically reached for The Mark of Cain, attempting to put myself back together again. I felt like I had been torn apart from the inside. Castiel's repairs last night had been only on the physical aspect of my body. My emotions and mental state were still questionable. I felt on the verge of tears and incredibly angry all at the same time. Pair that with the voices I could hear from everyone in the house and I was about a buckle away from a full-fledged straight jacket.
The Mark made me feel better almost instantly, but again, it was purely the physical nature of my injuries that it repaired. I still felt unstable and close to breaking down. Dean spoke then, his voice deep and comforting. "You saved our lives yesterday," he began, staring into my eyes, "I never imagined that you would be able to pull something like that off."
I raised my eyebrows, doubtful that I did completely.
He continued anyway, knowing full well that I wanted to argue with him. "You coulda' died yesterday, Grace, and honestly, I think Cas is surprised that you didn't."
I listened to him speak and was instantly lost in the memories from the day before. I remembered telling Serra telepathically to shoot me and trap Crowley in my body. I remembered collapsing on my hands and knees and that…liquid…pouring out of me. I remembered the pain from the bullet wound in my thigh, and I remembered thinking, 'this is it.'
I stared at Dean a pieced together what I saw after I passed out in the cold mud. There were voices and people surrounding me on the floor, but it was a floor I was on, not the mud. There were faces of people I remembered from Dean's memories and there were faces from my own past…my mother and father, Dean's parents. Bobby. Ellen. Jo. I stared at Dean, seeing their faces flash through my mind again, and I took a deep breath, putting the pieces together.
"I did, Dean," I whispered.
He stared at me and shook his head. "You did what?"
"Die," I said, swallowing. "I died. I remember seeing my parents," glancing up at Dean, I hesitated, "and yours. And Bobby, Ellen and Jo." I took a breath, tilting my head. "I woke up on the floor somewhere and they were all staring at me, horrified that I was there."
Dean gaped at me, no sound coming from him whatsoever. I patted Liberty's back as she continued to nestle into my neck, trying her best to be as close as she could to me. I gave Dean the time he needed to cope with the information that I gave him and remembered their faces. Our mothers had both shaken their heads, unwilling to accept the fact that it should have been my time to join them. Closing my eyes, I watched my memories from the previous day, still as vivid as they had been then.
Lucia, the angel that had helped my mother conceive me, was there was well, shaking her head with the rest of them. "You don't belong here, Grace," she murmured, touching my face tenderly. "You belong with your husband and child. Go back to them."
I said nothing, only watched, wide-eyed and teary. Lucia closed her eyes and the next thing I realized, Castiel was holding his hand to my forehead, attempting to heal my body as I lay in the mud. I could feel ribs pulling themselves back together and my thigh muscles weaving themselves whole again. The bullet Serra had shot me with landed next to my leg in the mud and bending to pick it up, Castiel seemed happy with his success.
In real time, Dean still sat next to me, silent as he stared at me. I turned my head, time moving slowly, and I attempted to focus on only him, trying to tune out the other voices I heard throughout the house. "I'm not dead, though, Dean. I'm here. They pushed me back," I said, leaning towards him, again, my movements seemed slow, exaggerated.
He leaned towards me as well, cupping my face with his calloused hand and kissed me. I closed my eyes, breathing him in, the feel of his lips and scruff against my face was almost more than I could take. Everything I was experiencing was intensified and Dean was no exception. Tears leaked down my face as he pulled away, opening his eyes and gazing at me. "That's good they sent you back," he said, responding to my comment that felt already like days ago, "because I would have come after you to drag you home."
I smiled weakly, hearing my sister stir from below us. Her thoughts became coherent and I knew she had found consciousness. Dean continued to look at me, wondering, I'm sure, how crazy I was now that I was back from the dead.
"I'm hungry," I ventured, attempting to stand. Dean stood, offering his hand to help Liberty and me up off the bed.
"Jody's here," he said. "She said she was staying until everyone got back on their feet."
"Oh, thank God," I said, chuckling lightly, "That might be awhile."
Slowly, we moved downstairs towards the kitchen. Jody was mixing batter in a bowl while pouring five cups of coffee. She darted back and forth across the kitchen, minding bacon and pancakes as well. Dean's face lit up, the smell of bacon hitting him as he led me into the living room.
"She lives," he announced, sitting me in the rocker with Liberty. She nuzzled my chest, looking for breakfast as well. I sat and allowed her to nurse and Jody came out of the kitchen, a smile lit up across her face.
"Oh, honey," she said, bringing me a cup of coffee. "I'm so glad you're okay."
I nodded, grateful for the caffeine. "Thank you," I said, taking the mug, "I am too."
She wrapped herself around me, careful of Libby and the mug of coffee I held. "It's so nice to finally meet you when you're conscious."
"For sure," I said, hugging her back, "thank you for staying with Lib. You saved us."
"That's not what I hear," Jody said, patting Dean on the shoulder. "From what the boys tell me, you're the hero in the tale."
Already shaking my head, I disagreed, "No, my sister handled Crowley for a lot longer than I did."
"Hell yeah, I did," Serra's voice came up the steps from behind me, climbing the steps slower than I was used to hearing her move. "Dude was all up in my brain."
Dean handed her a cup of coffee and she smiled gratefully. "Oh, God. Coffee. Thank you."
Sam came up behind her on the stairs, hesitating on the top step, waiting for her to move so he could walk passed. "Hey, Grace," Sam greeted me, "you're okay?"
I nodded at him, smiling weakly. "I guess," I said, shrugging. "Everything hurts and everyone is so loud."
Sam made a face, "Loud?"
"Yeah," I said, closing my eyes, "I can hear your thoughts like you're yelling."
"Oh, man," he said quietly, "you think your abilities got turned up after the fight? Or during?"
Dean nodded, agreeing with Sam's explanation. "She used everything she had killing Crowley," he began. "It had to have tuned you up, using that much juice."
I said nothing, simply looking down at Libby and nodding.
Serra walked over to me, pushing Sam out of the way. She said nothing; simply collapsed onto my shoulders from behind the chair I sat in with Lib and wrapped her arms around my neck. I used one of my arms to cling to her as well, closing my eyes and listening to her thoughts. We exchanged a conversation without effort, our thoughts moving in and out of our minds as quickly as if we spoke the exchange.
Holy shit, Grace. I thought you died.
I did, Sere. Everyone pushed me back when Cas healed me.
You died? How do you know?
I saw mom and dad. Serra was surprised when I thought about them, pulling away only slightly. She continued to listen as I continued our conversation. I saw Dean and Sam's parents, too. And Bobby and Ellen and Jo. Lucia was the one who sent me back.
Are you okay?
Yeah. I am now. Are you?
Of course I am.
She kissed me on the temple as she stood up all the way, exiting out of our conversation. Touching Lib's face lightly, she smiled at her and made a face as she suckled. "I thought you were giving up breast feeding her?"
I shrugged, not caring. "Whatever. She's happy. I'm already in so much pain, I can't even feel her, so that makes me happy, too."
Serra turned suddenly, her attention shifting quickly. "Jody, you goddess," she said, moving towards the kitchen. "You made bacon?"
Jody didn't even bother answering and instead, shoved a plate with bacon and pancakes towards Serra, who took it and sat at the table eagerly. "Can we keep you?" she said, stuffing a piece of bacon in her mouth, "Grace won't cook for me anymore."
"You're a grown-ass adult. You can make your own bacon," I said with my eyes closed. Dean walked past her and made a plate for me. I only knew he planned on giving it to me because I could hear his thoughts so vividly. He walked back to me, gave me the plate and turned back to the kitchen, holding a piece of bacon in his mouth while he made himself a plate.
Everything seemed so normal and calm, especially after the battle that raged yesterday. Looking around the room, I couldn't shake the feeling I had that I was damaged somehow. I couldn't turn down the voices in my head and it hurt to simply exist. For the first time since discovering my abilities and realizing that I was a nephilim, I was afraid of my abilities.
No one else seemed to be worried about the way I was acting, so they continued about their day, and I spent much of my time watching, seeing the world in slow motion. Dean was even called in to the mechanics shop that afternoon, where he worked full time as house manager. Serra hung out with me while Sam attempted to clean the glass out of the cars parked in front of our house.
Months passed uneventfully and I still felt broken. Jody picked up most of the housework that I left behind while going through the motions of going to work and caring for Liberty.
One afternoon, Jody was consumed with laundry and Serra fell asleep on the couch next to me and I was left alone with Liberty. The cold chill of winter fell around the house, looking more and more like it would start to snow. Getting up slowly, I walked upstairs to Liberty's room and changed her diaper and bundled her in her warmest clothes. I did the same, wrapping myself in Dean's leather jacket and my fur lined boots and headed back downstairs. I wrapped both Libby and I in a giant blanket and stepped out into the cold.
I had no idea where I was going, but I knew that in order to stay sane, I needed the time away from everyone. I slipped past Sam, bent at the waist, attempting to ShopVac the rest of the glass out of the back seat. Soon, I found myself walking with Liberty out into our open field, the grass and wheat brown in the winter cold. When I reached the middle point of our field, I turned slowly on the spot, listening to the still of the winter air. My breath steamed in front of me and Libby's little red nose peeked out from her parka and blanket.
Content that I was alone with my daughter, I sat, pleased that I had found a place where no thoughts entered my mind except my own. We sat in the cold, listening to the sound of Liberty kicking her feet and babbling to herself. I closed my eyes; waiting for what I knew was coming. When I opened them again, I stared up to the sky, smiling lightly, as the first snowfall of the year drifted down to us. Liberty froze, mesmerized at the white flakes drifting across the sky above her.
I had no idea how long we sat there, staring out at the sky and the field, but eventually, I heard the telling rumble of the Impala pulling into the dirt road that led to our house. I could still hear Dean's thoughts as clearly as he was sitting right next to me and I knew he was consumed with seeing Liberty and I again.
We waited, still watching the snow. It wasn't enough to stick to the ground (being the first snowfall was difficult) but it was enough to be calming for me and entertaining for Lib. I could hear Dean go through confusion and panic as he searched for Liberty and I throughout the house. I knew Jody had seen us make the trip out here and I had seen her head peek through the kitchen window multiple times, but to Dean, the fear was always close to the surface. I heard Jody calm him, direct him, and soon enough, his boots crunched their way through the frozen wheat.
Wordlessly, he sat next to us, looking up into the sky as I did. Squinting into a light smile, he pulled his collar around his neck and glanced at me. Hi, beautiful, came his old greeting in his familiar and soothing thought.
I looked at him with a sideways gaze, and I responded automatically, "Hey, stranger."
All of the emotions that I carried with me over the past forty-eight hours came pouring out at that moment and I gasped as sobs rocked my body. Still silent, Dean wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me into his chest as I clutched Liberty closer to my body. I cried. Fat, ugly tears streamed down my face and I let everything out as he held me.
Liberty stared up at me, concern washing over her chubby face. One of my tears fell to her cheek and her tiny eyebrows furrowed, sadness taking her as well. She wailed into the snowfall and I tried to calm down, worried about upsetting her further.
Dean smiled, unconcerned that I had upset her. He began singing, his voice quiet in the field.
Hey Jude, don't make it bad,
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart,
then you can start to make it better.
I cried silently, wiping my face with my hand, listening to Dean as he held us. Libby stopped crying to listen, and we watched the snow continue to fall.
Long after he finished the song, we sat, still in the field. Finally, he took a breath, ready to speak. "It's quiet out here."
He nodded, understanding. "We'll figure this out," he said, still quiet.
"I know." I stared down at Libby, asleep after Dean's lullaby. "This was the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the mud."
Dean glanced at me, confused.
"I almost missed her first snowfall."
"But you didn't."
"No," I said, shaking my head, smiling lightly. "I didn't."
Slowly, we walked back inside, greeted by a cup of coffee waiting on the counter, compliments of Jody. Dean smiled at the mugs as they steamed while I put unwrapped Libby from her winter clothes and set her on her blanket in the middle of the rug. She played with her toes as I joined Dean in the kitchen. He glanced, sidelong at me. "We got a basement angel," he said, a smirk hidden behind his coffee cup as he took a sip.
Serra stirred on the couch, hearing our voices and sat up tentatively. She held her head as if it hurt and I reached out with my mind to see if she was in pain. You have a headache?
She nodded, glancing at me. I hosted the King of Hell. It's probably still affecting me.
I smiled, agreeing.
Sam came in, stomping his boots off before he stepped over the threshold. "It's cold," he said, tugging off his muddy boots. Dean acknowledged with a nod as Sam continued, "Are you off this weekend? I'll put the Impala in the barn if you want."
"Yeah, that'd work, thanks."
Sam walked over to the couch and glanced at Serra. "How you doing?" he asked, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
"I've been better, but surviving." She pointed at me, her eyebrows furrowed, looking concerned. "Grace says we're loud."
"From the battle with Crowley still?"
I nodded, unwilling to hear the vibration of my own voice echo through my brain.
Sam leaned back on the cushions and rubbed his face. "We need a vacation."
There was a silence as Dean and I each sipped from our mugs. Jody nodded in agreement. She was still planning on staying through the holidays and helping out where she could, but she had to return to Sioux Falls for a couple of days to pack properly and to file her leave of absence with the Sheriff's Department there.
"Here's the plan," Serra began. "Sammy and I will stay with Lib for a few days until Jody gets back. You and Dean need to take off…reconnect…because honestly, it's a little sad how exhausted you both look and how little free time you've had with each other since Lib has been here." Dean opened his mouth to argue, but Serra cut him off. "Forget it, Dean. Seriously. Go upstairs and pack. Then just…go."
We both hesitated, unwilling to leave Liberty so soon after the battle with Crowley. We glanced at each other and I narrowed my eyes, trying to stem the flow of thoughts that came from Dean all at once. Dean took the lead, taking a breath and shaking his head at Serra. "I don't know…" he began, "she's a lot of work."
Serra's face went deadpan and she tilted her head at him, annoyed. "What. The certificated NICU nurse can't take care of a perfectly healthy baby?"
"That's not what I meant," Dean replied, rubbing his neck.
Waiting, she threw her hair to the other side of her head as she so often did and raised her eyebrows. "What then?"
Dean's eyes flicked to his brother and then back to Serendipity. "Sam can't take care of a cactus."
It was the first time I laughed since our return from the fight with Crowley. It really hurt, but it was completely worth it, considering the betrayed look on Sam's face.
"I can take care of her!" Sam said, his voice raised in a defensive tone.
Dean scoffed at his brother. "Have you ever even held her?"
"I held her after she came home from the hospital!"
"Yeah, heavily supervised and terrified the entire time," Dean replied, walking over to scoop Liberty off the rug and bouncing her. He stepped over to Sam, lifted his eyebrows and waited expectantly for Sam to unfold his arms.
"What?" Sam said, staring up at his brother.
"Open your arms, asshat."
Begrudgingly, Sam complied. Gently, Dean put Liberty in his arms and backed away, pulling his phone out of his pocket. "What are you doing?" Sam asked, sitting stiff and uncomfortably with Libby babbling in his arms.
"Documenting the fact that her uncle actually held her while she was still an infant," Dean answered, backing up and taking a picture. Serra leaned in to the shot and grinned, sticking her thumb in the air.
Watching from the kitchen, Jody had her hand over her mouth and watery eyes. She laughed from behind her hand and shook her head, weepy with pride. Dean glanced over at her and his smile faltered as he realized she was crying. "What's wrong, Jody?"
"I'm just so happy for you boys," she said, wiping her face. "God, I wish Bobby could see you. He'd be a blubbery mess."
Smiling back at Jody, Dean nodded, saying, "I know he would."
Dean finally agreed to the arrangement as we watched the chopper touchdown in our field, ready to pick up Jody. She would drive her police cruiser back in a few days, ready to help around the house and move into our basement apartment, taking over caring for Liberty for Sam and Serra when she returned. She blew kisses as she climbed into the helicopter and Sam and Dean both raised their hands in farewell. Serra carried Lib and she waved the baby's chubby fist towards Jody as she slammed the door shut.
I watched from the porch, waving and doing my best to stay sane. Nothing had quieted in my brain and I still struggled with the most mundane of activities. It was as if my mind and the rest of my body refused to communicate. I had tripped multiple times and cut myself on Liberty's formula can twice.
"Come on, beautiful," Dean said, pulling me by the shoulder carefully. "Let's go finish packing and get the hell out of here for a couple of days."
I nodded, moving slowly. Serra followed close behind, watching my steps to make sure I didn't trip again. Sammy closed the back door, turning up the furnace as he locked the door. "You guys want me to call someone about the heat?"
Dean turned and nodded. "Yeah, I tried looking at it a couple of times, but I think it's just so old that it's not really responding to the typical fixes."
Agreeing, I only nodded, still staying as silent as I could be. Sam watched and said, "I've got a friend at school in the heating and air conditioning business. He could probably come out and take a look."
Already halfway up the flight of stairs, Dean shouted, "Yeah, great. Get some space heaters if you need to, just keep Lib warm."
Serra plopped down on the couch, Liberty in her arms, a bottle in her hands. "Lib's a hungry hippo again," she said, talking mostly to the baby. "Yes she is! Fatso's hungry again!"
I smiled, watching my sister and my daughter interact. I was so incredibly grateful for my family. I was completely useless, my mental walls falling down around me. Castiel was due any minute at our front door to see if he could help before Dean and I left on our getaway. I turned, sensing him before he appeared. Hi, Cas, I thought as he materialized in the middle of the living room. How's it going?
You're still not complete, he thought by way of greeting. Your mental state is shaky at best.
That's putting it mildly, I thought back, raising my eyebrows slightly.
Serra noticed Castiel standing in the middle of the room, obviously interacting telepathically with me. She sighed and raised her eyebrows sarcastically. "You know, it's not nice to hold a conversation in secret with other people in the room."
"Hello, Serendipity," he greeted her, stoic as ever, "your sister is very emotionally damaged."
"You think?" she said, making a face. "We're sending her and Dean off together to try and get her brain right. She's a mother. She needs to step it up."
Annoyed, I made a face at Serra, but still unwilling to make any extra noise, I refrained from speaking. Castiel turned back to me, reaching out to touch me again. "I want to try something," he said, making contact.
His touch forced my eyes closed and it took everything I was to stay on my feet. I could feel a slow burn in the same place in my chest as I felt when I burned Crowley from inside my own body. It wasn't painful, but the heat was radiating through my limbs and tingling through my mind as I still struggled to stand.
In the distance, I could hear Dean's voice, worried. Unable to distinguish the words that he spoke, I simply ignored him. Serra's voice joined the confusion in the distance and then I felt Sam and Dean each taking one of my shoulders and lowering me to the ground. Cas continued to explore the center of my body, almost as if he was taking out pieces, inspecting them, and putting them back properly went. I could feel Dean hovering above me, still speaking but it was as if I was under water, knowing he was there, but I was powerless to interact with him.
Slowly, I was able to feel presences the way I was able to before the battle with Crowley. I could feel Libby first; her heartbeat and happy babbling entered the back of my mind first. Dean's strong, calm personality showed up in the back of my mind next, his voice soothing and deep. Serra was next; her forever-familiar hum was simple and comforting. Sam and Jody were last on my radar, joining the ranks of my family's presence in my mind. I had chosen years ago not to push into Sam's mind, allowing him to stay private in his thoughts. Jody was new, so I was unfamiliar with her imprint in my mind, though I still knew she was there.
Castiel took a step backwards, away from me. He was flushed and sweaty, his hair disheveled and his normally piercing blue eyes were slightly bloodshot from exhaustion.
"Cas, are you okay?" Dean asked as Cas backed away from me, looking as though he may pass out. "Sit down, man. There's a couch behind you."
He complied. It was a rarity to see Castiel seated anywhere. He was usually much more comfortable standing wherever we were, stoic and still as normal. As I lay on the carpet, staring up at the ceiling, the incessant noise that I had been experiencing for the last twenty-four hours was gone and I felt pretty close to normal.
"Castiel, what did you do?" I asked, feeling my face and sitting up carefully.
He took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself. "I balanced your grace," he said, simply.
I shook my head, still sitting on the floor. "Balanced my grace?" I asked, "What does that even mean?"
Closing his eyes to explain, he continued, "Your grace was damaged during the battle. Using it to destroy a creature such as Crowley did not allow you to heal the same way as you normally would have." Cas took another breath, trying his best to control himself, "I pushed my grace towards you, allowing you to…borrow it, so to speak."
"I borrowed your grace?" Shaking my head, I stood, Dean ready to catch me as I pulled myself to my full height. "That doesn't seem right, Cas. Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine," he responded, wiping his face. "My grace was intact. I will fully heal from balancing yours."
"It's like jumping a car," Dean said quietly. I turned towards him, ready to hear his simplified explanation. "He had a full battery. He jumped yours to get you started again."
"Yes," Castiel said. "Essentially. It will take some time for me to heal, but I'll be fine."
Without hesitation, I walked to Cas and wrapped him in a hug. He froze, then relaxed slightly and reciprocated. "Thank you," I whispered in his ear. I felt Serra shift as she stood, handed Dean the baby, and threw herself on top of me, hugging Cas and I together.
Dean and I stood in out in the snow, throwing our bags into the back of Serra's truck. All of the windows were delayed in the storm, somewhere in Indianapolis and wouldn't be delivered until after the holidays. I had offered to rent a car, but Serra wouldn't hear of it and threw her keys across the living room to me. "You saved all of us. The least I can do is let you drive my truck. Besides, it's snowing," she said, "you don't want to be driving across Kansas in a Corolla."
Den chuckled and nodded, "Thanks, Sere." He waggled his eyebrows at me. "You ready to run away with me?"
I smiled at my husband, excitement rattling through me as I nodded. "Hell yes," I said, turning to kiss Liberty's head. I looked up at my brother-in-law and grinned. "Fatherhood looks good on you," I murmured to him. His cheeks flushed and he glanced over at Serra, hugging Dean good-bye.
"We'll see," he responded quietly. I grinned at him and bent to kiss my daughter again, wiping her drool off of Sam's arm.
Turning away from him, I held my arms out to Serra. "See you in a couple of days, kiddo."
She wrapped herself around me, bear hugging me around my waist. I reciprocated by hugging her around the shoulders. "Be careful out there."
"Be careful in here," I said, "You take care of my girl."
Serra looked up and made a face. "Like it's a problem. Be home soon?"
"Couple of days," I said, nodding.
Dean grabbed my hand and pulled, heading towards the door. I glanced back at Libby once more as the screen door closed behind me. "I love you, Lib!"
Opening the door for me, Dean stood and gestured to the passenger seat of Serra's truck. I shook my finger at him, "Oh, no, no, no. You may be the driver when we take the Impala, but when we're taking my sister's truck, I get to drive. At least for awhile."
Dean grinned at me, "Oh yeah? Says who?"
"Says me," I responded as Dean leaned towards me, intent on kissing me. "Forget it!" I said, pulling away. "You can't seduce your way into making me give you the keys."
Still smiling, he pulled me towards him, reaching for the keys as he kissed my neck and wrapped his arms around me. I breathed deeply, still holding the keys out of his reach. Exhaling and moving his trail of kisses closer to my mouth, I shook my head, still resistant.
I broke away, headed towards the driver's seat and climbed in. Slamming the door and starting the engine, I watched Dean climb in next to me and glance my way. "I'm gonna have to step up my game," he said, tilting his head.
"You are indeed. I can resist your urges," I said, mocking. "Where to, Romeo?"
He held his hand out, hovering over the dash. "You're behind the wheel," he said. "You tell me."
Smiling, I put the truck in drive and headed out towards the highway.
Sam stared down at the baby in his arms then glanced up at his wife, cleaning up in the kitchen. She added formula powder and warm water to a bottle, screwed the top on and shook it, only then realizing that Sam was watching her. "Hello, lover," she purred, posing for him. "Wanna…feed the baby?"
Chuckling, Sam nodded and reached for the bottle as she walked around the counter towards him. They both sat on the couch and Serra brought a pillow around for Sam to rest his arm on while he supported Libby's head. She was excited about her lunch; flapping her arms and cooing. Immediately, she began sucking, holding onto Sam's fingers as he held the bottle.
Watching him, Serra smiled. She combed Lib's hair with her fingers as she watched her niece eat, then, feeling his eyes on her, caught Sam staring.
"What?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
Shaking his head, he made a face. "Nothing," he responded. "Grace just called me 'father material' before she left. I was just thinking about it."
"Oh really?" Serra said, nuzzling his neck. "We've been married fifteen minutes and already we're talking about fatherhood?" Sam chuckled and looked back down at Liberty as Serra rotated the bottle in Sam's fingers. He glanced at her, questioning, and she said, "It keeps the nipple round so she keeps getting food." They were silent for a moment, each lost in their own thoughts and Serra took another breath. "I don't know if we're ready for kids."
Sam nodded, agreeing. "I don't think Dean was either, but here we are."
"What does that mean?"
Staring into her eyes, he smiled gently. "It just means that we would handle it," he said quietly. "I'm not saying I want kids right now, I'm just saying that we're an awesome team. We'd get it done."
Serra smiled and kissed Libby's forehead. "Of course we would," she whispered. She looked back into Sam's eyes and kissed him gently. Pulling away, she took a deep breath. "I want a puppy first anyway."
He kissed her on the nose and chuckled. "That's the kind of baby I'm ready for."
There was a lake near about two hours outside of Lawrence that our parents had taken us to when we moved to Kansas, many years ago. Living in Portland, Oregon for the first part of our lives, we had been shrouded in trees, surrounded by water. Moving us across the country, into Middle America had been a culture shock, and Serra and I had been out of our element in the middle of farmland filled with wheat and corn. Dad took us to the closest thing he could find: Wilson Lake had been a calming place where, although they had no trees, it had water and we could fish in the summer and camp in cabins during the winter. It was where I was headed with Dean.
The early snow fell quietly along the highway and Serra's truck had no problems keeping a grip on the road. I was elated to finally feel like myself again, and even though I was only mentally anguished for about a day, it had been impossible to function during that time.
From the passenger seat, Dean reached over to hold my hand, electricity flowing through my arm upon his touch. It was nice, knowing that we still had such an attraction, such a raw need for each other, even though we were married with a child. That had been what I worried about the most…Liberty being unplanned, I feared that Dean would lose interest. I should have known better. I should have never doubted him. We were linked in ways deeper than most people could ever be linked with their mates.
We drove in silence for a long time, just enjoying each other's company, and finally, I turned onto the tiny state road that led to Wilson Lake and Dean turned to read the sign as we passed it.
"Wilson State Park?" he asked, smiling. "Where have you taken me?"
I glanced at him and gestured to the canyons and hills around us. "It's pretty, right? I mean, it's prettier in the spring, but I don't plan on being outside much." I turned to raise my eyebrows at him suggestively.
"Do your plans involve pie?" he said, trying to be serious.
"They can," I answered immediately. I pulled the truck into the parking lot at the visitor's center and leaned over to Dean. "I'll be right back," I said, kissing him tenderly.
I jumped down from the truck and hurried inside, out of the cold. Minutes later, I had keys in my hand for cabin number 29 and climbed back into the truck. I started the engine, pulled back out onto the road and together; we found the correct number, curving around the lake. Dean opened his door, took a deep breath and stretched, his arms pulling his shirt and jacket up high enough that I caught a glimpse of his stomach; that delicious muscular definition teasing me as his arms came back down towards his sides.
He caught me staring and smiled lightly. There was a long moment of locked eyes and in one motion; we were closing the gap and embracing, the heat from Dean's body reminding me of younger days; still single and nervous, on a pie date, years ago.
Forgetting the bags in the back seat, he took the keys from my hand and fumbled with the door on Cabin 29. Finally, he pushed the door open and unzipped my coat, throwing it to the floor. "I feel a little guilty," he said between kisses.
"For what?" I gasped, wrapping my arms around him, pulling him closer.
Dean pulled away and laughed. "Sam is stuck at home with his brand new wife, watching our kid," he kissed me again, "and I'm the one about to get laid."
I giggled too, breaking contact for long enough to take a breath. "They can screw when she goes to sleep," I said. "They'll probably do it in our bed, too."
"Ugh," Dean said, pulling off his flannel, "don't say things like that. It'll ruin the mood."
We were at it like teenagers. I couldn't get enough of him. I had flashes of when we first met, being together after our date, tearing at each other clothes and being connected cosmically. I smiled as I kissed Dean, remembering how it felt to be with him the first time. I remembered being so nervous, wondering if I would be enough for him, hoping that he would be as attracted to me as I was to him. I knew, even back then, after touching him, that I was enough. Being able to read his thoughts, to feel his emotions…knowing that he was dedicated to me from that day on was more than satisfying, it gave me purpose. I would always have my sister, but now I had a family.
Here we were, almost two years later, and Dean's dedication to me hadn't changed. If anything, it was stronger than ever and more passionate than before. Love poured out of him and dedication flowed through him. He was mine and I was his.
Dean pulled off my sweater and dropped it behind me, tugging at the tank I wore underneath. Carefully, he took it off, my necklaces and earrings dropping down through the neck of my shirt, bouncing against my chest. Dean smiled as I did the same to him, attempting to get his undershirt off, over his head, but I couldn't reach, so laughing, I gave up. He pulled it off the rest of the way as I worked on his pants, still kissing his neck.
He held me steady and backed me up towards the bed, laying me down gently as he kissed my body. He paused, looking deeply into my eyes and shook his head slightly.
"What?" I asked, confused. I didn't wait for an answer. Instead, I tuned into his mind, listening to him think about me.
His thoughts drifted to pie and our first date. He remembered tracing the swallows and the sugar skull that were tattooed on my body with his fingers, memorizing my features. Now, his touch found our skeleton key and lock that were etched into my side, the horseshoe and four-leaf clover that represented Serendipity and the tiny pink heart on my forearm that represented Liberty. Slowly, his fingers found the white, faded stretch marks below my belly button created by our daughter.
"I can't believe that you're my wife," he said quietly. "I never, in my life, did I ever think I deserved to be this happy."
I held Dean's face with both of my hands, bringing him closer to me. "How would you ever think you didn't deserve to be happy?"
"Think about the things I've done, Grace. The people I've killed." He paused, looking away from me, embarrassed. "I shouldn't be allowed to be happy."
I kissed him, pushing the love I felt for him into his mind and taking his guilt from him. He reciprocated, his shoulders lowering towards me, his muscles flexing as he leaned over my body. "I'm not going to listen to words like that anymore," I said, running my fingers through his hair, "you are my husband, and Libby's father. Those, alone, are reasons you deserve to be happy."
I pushed him down onto the bed and straddled his waist. The cosmic energy that we had felt right from the beginning still flowed through us as we made love. As we developed a rhythm, I thought about being a nephilim and how much more I could experience because of it. Momentarily, I wondered if that was why being with Dean was so much more intense than being with any other man. We had been drawn together for a reason. I knew he felt the same way because when we were together, there was nothing else.
Hours later, we listened to the winter wind as it began to howl across the lake and we spent the entire night wrapped in each other's arms.
Serra walked past Sam in just her shorts and bra as she closed up the house and turned off the lights. He shook his head, smiling, thinking about how she would prefer being naked all the time, but years ago, Grace had implemented a no-belly rule about the downstairs living space. If I can see your belly, you'd better be upstairs; she would say as Serra would walk passed her in the kitchen at the old house. Serra would mock her sister, they would laugh, and the entire process would begin again the next night.
This time, Sam's lingering stare caught Serra's attention for a different reason. "Libby won't be up again tonight," she was saying as she came around the corner of the counter. "She sleeps through the night now."
"Oh yeah?" Sam asked as she stood in front of him. He reached out for her hips and pulled her down to kiss him. "I don't know, though. Aren't we supposed to be, like, on alert or something?"
Serra laughed. "Trust me, she's not going to starve." She kissed him again, holding onto his face with her hands. "I put one of Grace's shirts in her crib with her. She's all cuddled up with it and I'm betting that she'll be happy all night with it."
She leaned in again, kissing him deeply, moving to straddle him on the couch. "You know," Serra said, in between breaths, "we have only consummated this marriage once." Another kiss. "That upsets me."
Sam chuckled and pulled her against him, his hands sliding down her back. "I tried the next morning, but you were already gone."
"Possessed. Not my fault," Serra began unbuttoning Sam's shirt and pulling it down around his shoulders, pinning his arms behind his back as she tugged at his earlobe with her teeth. He moved his head towards her, trying to push her back and kiss her, but she stayed out of his reach and continued her assault on his neck and ear.
Sam groaned, wanting to fight back, but feigned resistance against his flannel. Serra moved closer to him, her thighs holding his legs in place, her Peacemaker tattoo aimed directly at his hips. He closed his eyes, enjoying every moment as she repositioned.
Finally trailing her bites and kisses along his jaw line, Serra found his mouth and they kissed deeply, sighing in contentment at the contact. She let go of the shirt she was holding, pushing it down all the way, and he freed his arm, pulling it out of the sleeve and wrapping it around Serra's waist. The other arm followed quickly, the muscles in his bicep tensed in anticipation.
With his arms free, he rolled her onto the couch roughly, ripping his white undershirt off, over his head, and dropping it to the side of the couch without a second thought. Now, skin on skin, Sam attacked, starting low, teasing the waistline of her panties and pulled them off as he kissed the topmost roses inked across her skin. He followed a trail up her abdomen, across her ribs and chest, over her bra and onto her neck. Breathing heavily, he nuzzled into her neck and ear, his breath hot against her hair.
In the furthermost corner of her brain, Serra wondered if Dean and Grace had used this couch for the same purpose and smiled wistfully to herself as Sam found a sweet spot against her neck and she groaned with pleasure, her thoughts forgotten. From under Sam, she did her best to free him from his jeans, but his position and his attack on her senses made it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Finally, he assisted, pulling his pants down past his hips and kicking them to the floor.
Serra's fingers found his shoulders, her nails pressing into the muscles, tense on his back as they moved together as one. She pulled herself closer, wrapping her arms and one of her legs around Sam and couldn't help smiling as they made love. Opening her eyes, looking directly into Sam's, she had never felt more alive, more connected to one person and she knew the rest of her life held the same passion and fierce love that she and Sam were experiencing tonight. He pressed harder and together, they found elation as their breathing peaked and Serra was left, gasping for air.
Opening his eyes, Sam stared down at his wife and smiled, softly brushing a strand of hair out of her face and kissing her forehead tenderly. Serra grinned back, reaching to kiss Sam and he obliged, dipping his head to kiss her lips. Slowly, Sam pulled himself up and simply rolled off the couch, lying on the carpet next to Serra on the couch.
"I'm…" he started, still out of breath, "I can't…"
"I know," Serra answered. "Me too."
He held out his hand, resting it on her arm and she reached across her chest, taking it. Their wedding rings clinked together as they made contact and Serra giggled from her position on the couch. "Oh, my God. We got married."
Sam chuckled and nodded from the floor. "It just hit me, too."
Dean woke first, as usual, and continued to lie in bed, just watching Grace sleep. She slept calmly, her breathing rhythmic and comforting. There was no visible damage this time, from her battle with Crowley. All of her injuries had been emotional and internal. Dean was grateful, yet again, for Cas and his ability to heal his wife. Just the little time she had spent unable to function as herself had terrified him; it was awful to see her struggle as hard as she had.
Wanting to touch her, but unwilling to wake her, Dean rolled closer to her instead. He took a deep breath, taking her in as much as he could. Her features were perfect, right down to the curve of her lips and the length of her eyelashes. They all were almost identical to Liberty's and the more he stared, the more similarities he found between his wife and his daughter. The thought of Libby made him smile and he realized how badly he wanted more kids, if nothing else, to see the beauty of his wife live on in the tiny creatures she produced. Liberty was perfect and he had no doubt in his mind that any other child he conceived with his wife would be equally perfect.
She stirred then, her eyes squinting closed and stretching with her legs. She turned towards Dean and opened her blue eyes.
"Hi, beautiful," came Dean's long standing greeting, his deep voice soft in the filtered light of the morning.
The corners of my mouth couldn't help but turn slightly up into a smile. "Hey, stranger," came my automatic reply.
I rolled towards Dean, resting my head on his shoulder as he moved towards me. "How do you feel?" he asked, his fingers toying with the ends of my hair.
I nodded into his skin, "I feel almost normal," I said. "You're still louder than you should be, but I'm starting to wonder if I just leveled up or something."
He nodded, happy with my answer. Looking back at the ceiling, he smiled lightly, saying, "I miss Lib."
I laughed quietly, agreeing with him. "Isn't that something? We beg to get away and then one night later, we can't wait to get back to her."
"Yeah, who'd a thunk?" he said, kissing my forehead. "Have I knocked you up again, yet?"
"You'd better not have," I said, pushing him away. "Liberty is barely breastfeeding anymore and I start my new pills on Sunday."
"Like they really matter?" he asked, dodging the sudden swing of my arm. "Come on, Gracie," he said, laughing. "How long until there's another 'oh, shit' moment? You being half and half and this?" he said, holding up his right arm, showing the faded Mark of Cain, "We're a perfect storm and you know it."
"So what, we stop having sex?"
Dean shook his head, smiling lightly. "That's not what I'm saying at all," he took a breath. "Trust me." He turned towards me and lifted his head up onto his hand. "I just know that it'll happen again. I don't want you to go through what you went through with Lib…the not knowing what I wanted…" he faded off, not really making a point.
I furrowed my eyebrows, confused. Tapping into his mind, I tried to piece together the endgame of what he was saying. I want more.
"You want more kids," I said, finally understanding.
He took another deep breath and nodded at me. "I never want Lib to be alone."
"She's never going to be alone, Dean," I said. "We're not going anywhere."
"Someday we will. Or at least I will," he replied, shrugging, "and I want her to have someone to go on with. No matter what, it was always me and Sam." He paused, touching my shoulder lightly, "and it was always you and Serra. No matter what, we always had each other."
I stared at Dean, knowing that he was speaking the truth. "And I'm not saying I don't want more," I replied, touching his face, "I'm just saying that even before Lib, I wanted more time with you. I hate sharing you."
Dean smiled, moving closer to me. "You know," he started quietly, kissing me, "there's enough of me to go around."
"Oh, don't I know it," I said, wrapping my arms around him. "But I want to make sure that we're not rushing into anything. I want to make sure we enjoy the kid we have, and we raise her right."
"You're her mother," Dean responded automatically, "she'll be raised perfectly."
"I'll make you a deal," I said, breaking contact with my husband and staring into his beautiful pale green eyes. "We'll go on like we planned, with Liberty. We'll go for more when she's a little older, or if one of your boys manages to find his way through again, it'll be fate."
"They're powerful swimmers," he said coyly.
"Lib's proof of that."
Sam awoke on the carpet with Serra draped across him. The baby monitor was lying next to his head, Libby's voice coming through the other end, happily talking to herself as she greeted the day. Sam turned his head to listen to his niece and smiled.
Dean had been like a dad to him growing up, but he resisted ever admitting that to his brother. It seemed that Dean already put enough pressure on himself to do what he felt was best for Sam no matter what, and his protective nature was enough to always ensure that Sam felt loved. There had been times, Sam was sure, that Dean had gone without eating to make sure he did. The more he thought about it, his brother had been a father for a lot longer than he ever gave him credit for.
Libby continued to play in her crib and Sam did his best not to move so Serra could continue to sleep, but the carpet was not as soft as it had been last night and his hips were starting to go numb. Very carefully, Sam pulled himself out from under his wife, laying her head gently on the carpet where his shoulder had been. Padding around the living room, he searched for the rest of his clothes and pulled them on as he climbed the steps to the second floor.
"Good morning, sunshine," Sam greeted her, his whisper coming through the baby monitor next to Serra's head. "Such a big girl, sleeping all night."
Serra stirred, hearing Sam's voice so close to her head. She smiled gently, understanding that he was talking to the baby, scooping her from her crib and walking her around the room. Serra only rolled closer to the monitor, listening hard to her new husband as he interacted with Liberty.
"How one little girl can pee so much…" Sam was saying as Serra heard the telltale rip of Libby's diaper being changed. "Jesus."
Serra laughed as she listened to Sam talk to the infant, getting squeals and coos as the conversation progressed. "Just wait until your Daddy sees you. I think you grew just overnight."
A new diaper was on and Sam was walking her around her room, talking about the photos on the wall and the colors that he saw. "Look, Lib, here's right after you were born. Momma was still hobbling around then. Daddy and me finished up the new porch and carved your initials in the banister on the steps. I forgot to show you that."
She heard Sam and Libby come out of her room and head for the steps, Sam still talking to her the entire way down. "I'm sure Auntie Lucky knows where the new can of formula is…" he was saying, holding her like a football, his hand wrapped around her feet. "She'd better, or I guess I'm going to the store."
As they made it to the bottom of the steps, Sam and Serra locked eyes and Serra grinned. "Don't get any ideas, there, buddy boy. I'm still on the pill and my benefits are still in probation."
Sam chuckled. "We can just borrow this one," he said, gesturing to Liberty. "And then, we can give her back."
"That's more like it," Serra said, getting up and stretching. Libby kicked her feet and squealed at the sight of her aunt, reaching slightly for her. "Hi baby girl," she greeted Liberty. "Are you hungry?"
The state park's lake was frozen over and snow fell gently as Dean opened the door to their small cabin and looked out over the ice. He could see why Grace felt comfortable here. It was almost completely free of other people and the silence was deafening. Dean knew that Grace heard his thoughts more often than not these days and other people's thoughts were just below the surface of Grace's protective bubble that she created around herself. She was never alone. This place at least gave the illusion of solitude.
I came up behind Dean and smiled, touching his shoulder, and nodded, agreeing with his thoughts about the lake. "Yeah, it's quiet," I said. "It's nice."
Dean nodded and held the door open for me. I padded down the steps and walked out into the snow, my footprints showing the pavement below. As I watched my husband close the door behind us, I smiled to myself and thought about how lucky we were. Another day, another survival.
We walked hand in hand, just listening to the nothingness that fell with the snow. We had come so far since first meeting in that bar, almost two years ago. We had dated, married, accidentally procreated, sold and bought a house, and witnessed my sister and his brother wed. Scattered among the memories were also terrifying experiences that brought us closer and unified the family in ways that normal people would never understand. We were bonded through the art of surviving; making it through situations that would make the every-man cower. Dean says, 'What doesn't kill me should probably run, because now I'm fucking pissed,' and it's true. There's not much that would stop us.
We still had another night of nothingness and we used it wisely; a fire burned in the hearth that night as we made love by firelight. Dean's passion had not ebbed in the slightest; his touch was electrifying and burned though to my very soul.
I was torn between wanting to stay with him forever in this cabin and wanting to see our daughter again, to hold her and smell her baby-fine blonde locks. It was almost as if our situation was reversed that night as he stared into my eyes and combed his fingers through my hair. "I miss her, too," he said quietly, smiling gently.
"So you can read my mind," I replied quietly, smiling.
Nodding, he returned my gentle smile. "We'll leave in the morning," he kissed me tenderly and cupped my face with his hand.
I agreed, holding his hand against my face. "Good. Being without her makes it hard to breathe."
"I know the feeling," he said, his forehead against mine. "Trust me."
Sam checked the barn for leaks and pulled the tarp tighter over Grace's Chevelle and Dean's Impala as the late autumn storm worsened. The snow came down, heavy and quiet, forming a blanket over Dean and Grace's property. Looking out into the field that he and Serra had walked into as husband only days ago, a wistful smile took Sam's face. He couldn't wait for the holidays to begin with his new family. Then, once Jody got back, he and Serra could finally head out for a real honeymoon.
Glancing back at the field once more as he trudged across the snow, he saw that a "for sale" sign hung from the farmhouse back behind Dean and Grace's barn. He had seen the house before, it was a smaller version of his brother's house, but it needed far less work and it looked like it was ready to be moved into right away. Sam stared for a moment longer and instead of heading back to Serra and Liberty; he turned and impulsively walked towards the house for sale behind the barn.
Minutes later, he climbed the porch and tilted his head to see if he had a visual of Dean and Grace's house from where he stood. There were trees blocking the property, the roofline of the bigger house just visible over the aged ash trees. The barn was barely seen as well, the faded red paint hidden by the woods behind the house. Sam brought his attention back to the front door and smiled. He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.
An elderly woman answered the door, her body withered by age. "Hello?" she asked, adjusting her glasses and staring up at Sam. "Can I help you, young man?"
"Hi, sorry, I don't mean to bother you. My brother and his wife just bought the house down the way there about a month ago," he began, pointing towards the house, "and my wife and I just got married. We're thinking about buying a place close by and yours just happens to be for sale."
"How lovely," she said, opening the door to Sam, gesturing for him to enter, "that you want to be close to your family."
"We're a pretty close group," he said with a sly smile, taking the door from the woman's grasp and following her inside.
She took her time getting to her chair at the far end of the living room, then tenderly sat, her bones creaking as she did so. "My husband passed years ago and my children and grandchildren have been helping me take care of this old place," she said. "But really, it's getting to be too much, so I'm moving in with my daughter and her family after the holidays."
"May I ask how much you're selling it for? I'm really interested in it," Sam said, glancing around at the new counters and the refinished hardwood floors. The place was in very good condition and he was itching to look around more.
"We have it listed for two hundred and two thousand," she replied. "I didn't catch your name, honey?"
"Sam," he said, smiling and walking towards her, "Sam Winchester."
She took his hand and shook it, strength still in her grip. "It's wonderful to meet you, Sam. My name is Henrietta Jacobson. I grew up on this land. My great-granddaddy worked this farm for decades as a freed slave. This was our home."
"That's amazing," Sam said, smiling. "I'm surprised you're selling the place with so much history."
Henrietta leaned back in her seat, smiling gently at Sam. She gestured to the couch next to her. "Please, sit," she said, taking a breath. "It's just time for a new family to make their history here. The farm was sold off, piece at a time. That barn back there is part of the Big House. My initials are carved in the hayloft."
"My wife and I got married in the barn," he replied, smiling. "My brother got it in the house sale."
"The Big House."
Sam nodded, "The Big House."
Henrietta spent the next twenty minutes or so talking to Sam about the history of the property and leading him on a tour of the house. More and more, Sam knew it was where he and Serra could begin their lives. "Mrs. Jacobson?" Sam asked as he helped her to her chair, "Would you mind if I went to get my wife to show her the house?"
"Not at all, honey. Not at all."
Sam was out the door and running across the snow with excitement. He came barging into the kitchen as Serra bounced the baby throughout the house. Libby had a red face and tears down her cheeks, obviously she had been crying.
Serra turned at Sam's sudden entrance and Libby stopped crying, staring at her uncle. "What, Sam?" Serra said, suddenly worried.
"The house behind the barn is for sale. There's a tiny old lady that lives there and her family used to own the entire farm. Come look at it," Sam said, barely breathing in anticipation.
Glancing around, Serra nodded. "Yeah, okay! I need pants." She dug around in the pile of laundry on the floor next to the mudroom. "How much do they want for it?"
"Two-oh-two," Sam replied, taking Liberty from Serra so she could pull on her pants and boots.
Serra stared up at Sam, her eyes wide with surprise. "We could almost pay cash for that."
"I know," Sam said, smiling. "Between the cash you have from your parents and the cash Grace gave you from the other house…"
"We could just buy it outright."
Sam nodded. "But it's up to you. It's your money. I have nothing to bring to the table."
Making a face, Serra said sarcastically, rolling her eyes, "But honey, it's our money now."
"Ha, ha," Sam said, gesturing. "Hurry up, I don't want her to die before we sign anything."
"Is she that old?" Serra asked, pulling on her other boot and throwing a blanket at Sam so he could wrap Liberty up.
"Kinda," he said, swaddling his niece. "Why is she crying?"
Shaking her head, Serra said, "Honestly, I think she just misses Grace and Dean. She's not hungry and she just woke up. Clean diaper. All her boxes are checked. She's just mad."
Sam nodded as he offered Libby his index finger. She took it and immediately put it in her mouth, sucking on it and watching Sam. "I'm sorry, honey," he was saying. "Mom and Dad will be home soon."
"Okay, let's go," Serra said, pushing Sam out the door as she threw a hat on Liberty. Together, they walked across the snowy field and up Henrietta's porch.
"Mrs. Jacobson?" Sam said, knocking lightly on the door. He tried the knob and pushed the door open gently. "Mrs. Jacobson?" he asked again, taking a step into the house.
"Hello, again, Sam!" she said, hobbling through the living room to greet them. "Oh, honey, she's beautiful!" Henrietta reached out slowly to Liberty and touched her face lightly. "How old is she?"
Serra stepped forward, smiling. "She's almost two months."
"Congratulations to you both. She's perfect," Henrietta said, still grinning at Liberty. "What did you name her?"
"Oh, she's not ours," Serra said, still smiling. "Her name is Liberty, but she's my sister's. We're just babysitting while they took a two-night reconnect trip."
"Well," Henrietta said, "ain't that the most perfect name ever." She took a step back, still eyeing the baby and grinning at her. "Ain't you just beautiful with those green eyes," she said. Finally, Henrietta turned towards Serra. "Hello, honey. Are you Sam's wife?"
Serra took her extended hand. "Yes," she answered, smiling, "my name is Serendipity."
"It's wonderful to meet you, honey. Such lovely names." Henrietta turned and headed back to her chair. "If you don't mind, I need to rest my bones. Your adorable man already toured through the house. You're welcome to do the same."
Serra smiled and turned on her heel, glancing around and nodding. "Thank you," she said, heading towards the kitchen and throwing a look to Sam. She mouthed, "New countertops," and gave a thumbs up. Sam nodded and grinned. They spent about ten minutes walking through the house and upstairs, in the third bedroom; Serra turned to her husband and clapped her hands together. "Holy shit, Sam. Look at this place. We would be able to just move in! We wouldn't have to do anything!"
"I know! It's in great shape!"
Tilting her head, Serra then made a face. "How do you think Dean would feel if we moved into the house that used to be a part of his property? So close?"
Sam shook his head. "We've been together most of our lives. Why separate now?" He pursed his lips, bouncing Libby as she started to fuss again. "What about Grace? Would we be too close for her?"
Serra was shaking her head before he finished the sentence. "We've never been apart. I think it would hurt her if I tried to move away."
"So we're going for it."
"We're going for it," she said, grinning. "A real house."
The pair made their way back down the stairs, Sammy still holding Liberty in his arms. Serra traced her hand down the banister as she walked, marveling at the detail in the wood. "Mrs. Jacobson?" she called as they made it downstairs. "We'd like to make an offer on your house."
Henrietta's face lit up and she smiled broadly at the Winchesters. "I would love to have a sweet couple like you here. I was so worried that some developer would come through here and destroy my home. You won't though, will you?"
Sam and Serra shook their head in tandem. "Never," Sammy replied. "The entire farm would be back together in the same family name, Mrs. Jacobson. We're all Winchesters."
"Let me call my son," she said, still smiling. "He's handling the house."
They waited patiently, having coffee with Henrietta, talking about the family history while they waited. About thirty minutes passed and there was a knock as the front door opened. A tall, older gentleman walked through the door, smiling at them as he walked in. "Hey, Mama," he greeted, walking over to Henrietta. He kissed her on the cheek and then turned, extending his hand to Sam, "Hi, I'm Micah," he said, his voice soothing. "I hear you're interested in the house."
"Yes," Sam said, shaking his hand. "We are. This is my wife, Serra." Serra stepped forward and shook his hand as well.
"And who is this beauty?" Micah leaned forward to touch Libby's arm. She squealed in delight, kicking her feet as Sam held her.
"Her name is Libby. She's my sister and brother-in-law's daughter. We're babysitting this weekend," Serra answered, smiling at her niece.
Henrietta clicked her tongue and smiled. "Micah, ain't she beautiful? Her mama and daddy bought the Big House last month."
"So you'd all be together," Micah said, raising his eyebrows, "on the same old property lines?"
Sam nodded. "That's the idea."
He grinned at Sam, nodding his approval. "I like that. All the family together. Makes you stronger."
"Yes, sir," Sam agreed.
"Let's get some papers together," Micah said, shaking Sam's hand once again.
The next morning, Dean and I woke up together and stayed huddled in the warmth of the bed. There was a scratching sound up against the door of the cabin and I stared at Dean, shrugging when he questioned me, What is that?
"I have no idea," I answered, "I can't hear any thoughts."
Cautiously, always on alert, Dean stood and grabbed his gun from the drawer of the nightstand. He padded over to the door, naked except for his boxers and slowly, opened the door. A ball of snow rolled through the entryway, tumbling as it tried to stand. "What the hell?" Dean said, stepping back.
"Oh my God, it's a dog!" I said, standing and wrapping myself in a blanket against the cold. The dog tried again to stand and shake the snow from its fur, but it was so matted with ice, the poor thing was unsuccessful. I stooped to allow the dog to smell my hand and it approached slowly, bogged down by the snow matted to its fur. "Poor thing!" I cried, bending down to its level. "It's just a puppy. Look!"
Dean tilted his head, hesitant. "Come on, Grace. Let's just take it up to the visitor center."
"He's just a baby," I replied, completely ignoring his comment. "No tags or collar." I glanced up at my husband, "He's all alone!"
"You're kidding, right?" Dean stared at me, his eyebrows up and his arms crossed, "A newborn and a puppy in the same calendar year?"
I made a face, "Alright, fine. We'll thaw him out and bring him up to the visitor center." A thought occurred to me, thinking of my sister. "If no one claims him at the visitor's center…Serra has always wanted a dog."
"Oh, Jesus. The two of them…" Dean said, pulling a shirt on. "Sam fucking loves dogs."
I smiled at my husband, knowing that he had already given in. I glanced down at the puppy. He was already looking better now that the snow had begun melting in the heat of our cabin and he bounded around the room, smelling Dean's boots and my duffel bag.
I got dressed, gave him the rest of the French bread that we had for dinner the night before and carried him to the truck after Dean packed us up. We drove through the snow to the visitor's center and they claimed to never have seen the black lab puppy before. "There isn't anyone for miles around here," the park ranger told me. "He's out here all alone. We can take him to the shelter if you want."
"Nah," I said, "I'll take him home."
Dean took the driver's seat this time as we headed slowly down the highway; the plow had not made a fresh path on the road yet this morning. I held the puppy on my lap, texting my sister to let her know we were on our way back. I smiled over at Dean and he shook his head. "What are you grinning for?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Nothing," I said, grinning.
He couldn't hide the smile on his face as he tried to be stern, "Can't believe it. Bringing home a dog. Wouldn't have happened in Baby."
I shook my head at him, making a face. "Yeah, right. Like you would have been able to argue with me."
Dean remained silent, but reached over to pet the dog on my lap. He thumped his tail on my leg and licked Dean's fingers. "I refuse to acknowledge anything," Dean said, still unable to hide his grin.
Serendipity put Libby down as quietly as she could in her swing. She had finally fallen asleep and Serra hoped the swing would keep her asleep this time. After successfully buckling Liberty in, Serra slumped into the couch, landing right next to Sam. "Finally," she said quietly. "That kid!"
Sam chuckled as he leaned his head back. His mind was swimming…they had submitted the request for purchase to the bank as soon as Mrs. Jacobson and Micah had signed on the dotted line. Between Serra's savings and the money from the sale of their first house, Sam and Serra had been able to almost buy the house outright, fronting more than one hundred and ten thousand dollars. The bank had been pleased, eager to finance a nurse and a student for a loan of one hundred thousand. Escrow on the Small House would close in fifteen days. Sam and Serra would own property. He was simply in disbelief.
Glancing towards his wife, he put a hand on her thigh and smiled. "Can you believe this afternoon?" Serra's phone beeped from the coffee table and she shook her head in amazement as she reached for her phone.
"Not even," she said, clicking her screen off. "They're headed back. About three hours out, Grace says. The snow hasn't been plowed yet."
Sam nodded in acknowledgement as he watched his niece snore from her swing. Serra leaned towards him, playing with the buttons on his flannel. "That means we have three hours to entertain ourselves."
He gestured to the baby, asleep in the swing. "We can't do anything down here!" he whispered, mockingly shocked at Serra's advances. "Libby will wake up and stare at me. Her eyes are Dean's eyes, and it'll end up like Dean watching."
"You're impossible," Serra said, not giving up and straddling her husband, pinning him to the couch. "Come on," she said, kissing his neck. "We just bought a house." Another kiss. "Together." A tiny nibble on his earlobe. "As husband and wife."
Taking a deep breath, trying to withstand her advances, Sam closed his eyes and smiling, shook his head. "Serra, what if she wakes up? We can't have sex in front of the baby."
"She's not even a year old, Sam. She won't know what's happening." He held his ground, staring at her with his hazel eyes. "The kitchen," Serra said, changing direction. "They kitchen is out of her line of sight. Let's use the counter."
"The counter that is in Dean's kitchen?"
"Did I marry a complete prude?" Serra said, sitting back and staring at Sam with her eyebrows raised. "What happened to fucking me every chance you got?"
Sam puffed out the breath that he was holding, got up and dead bolted the front door and pulled the hotel lock across the top. He walked by the curtains and tugged them shut and turned on the baby monitor. Without another word, he ran upstairs and switched the monitors, putting the receiver in front of the swing and attaching the other end to his collar. Then, he marched over to Serra and picked her up into a fireman's carry and brought her upstairs, Serra laughing the entire way.
They got to the top of the stairs and turned towards Grace and Dean's room, walking in with purpose, and tossing Serra onto the king sized bed that normally Dean shared with his wife. She landed with a grin on her face as Sam took the baby monitor and set it on the dresser next to him and then wasted no more time in ripping off his shirt and leaned into Serra, pushing her down. Attacking her neck, she laughed again and wrapped her arms around Sam's shirtless back.
"About time," she gasped as he nuzzled her neck. "I was worried there for a minute about my life choices."
"Shut up," Sam growled and kissed her fiercely. He brought her closer, bringing her into a sitting position and pulled off her shirt and bra. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled his hands through her long auburn hair. Serra tore his belt off, pulling his jeans down with it and he adjusted so she could drop them on the floor behind her.
They spent the next hour and a half ravaging each other, their breath heavy and their bodies covered with a sheen of sweat, even though it was snowing outside. Throwing himself to the side of the bed, Sam lay back, trying to catch his breath and Serra giggled next to him. "We're gonna," she gasped, "have to change these sheets."
"And maybe," Sam answered, chuckling too, "burn the mattress."
They lay silently for awhile, listening to each other breathe and slowly, Sam stood and pulled on his pants. He walked to the window and watched the snowfall as Serra stared at his back. "What's up, husband?"
Sam shook his head, watching the snow gather at the base of the windows. He turned back towards her and shrugged. "I just never thought I'd get back here again."
"Where?" Serra asked, sitting up in bed.
"Happy," Sam answered simply.
She rolled out of bed to join him in front of the window. Reaching up to him, she cupped his face with both of her hands. Sam leaned lower to kiss her and she pushed his hair out of his face. "You deserve to be happy," she said quietly. "We all do."
Sam nodded quietly and held her face as they kissed again. "I will always be grateful to Dean for bringing Grace home." Serra smiled as she stared into his eyes, "They brought me to you."
Libby woke soon after, her wailing voice tinny through the baby monitor. Serra got dressed and walked downstairs to comfort her. She changed her, fed her, and they were cuddled together on the couch, watching "The Little Mermaid" when the front door tried to open and Grace's voice came through the crack.
"Ugh, Serra?" I said, realizing that the hotel lock was on the front door, not letting me through, "come let me in please. It's cold out here."
Sam beat her to it, jogging to the door and closing it again slightly to pull the lock off. "Sorry," he said, smiling lightly. He tilted his head, watching me come in with the bundle that wiggled against my chest. "What is that?" he asked, his eyebrows raised in curiosity.
"A surprise," I answered, grinning. "Serra, look."
Leaning down, I set the black lab on the floor and he ran into the living room, smelling everything as he ran past. Serra was standing by that time, watching with interest. Holding Liberty, she ran over to me and yelled, "Is that a puppy?"
I nodded, taking my daughter from her arms. She flapped her hands and kicked as I smothered her with kisses. I turned back towards my sister who was watching the puppy with elation. "Where? Where did you get him?"
"He was scratching at our door," I said, still kissing Liberty, "and I convinced Dean to let us take him home."
Serra was on the floor, watching the puppy with her hands over her face. "He's adorable," she gasped, holding her hands out for him to come sniff her. "Sammy, look. He's so cute."
Dean trudged in, lifting his eyebrows at Sam on his way in. "Yeah, so cute. He cried the last hour of the trip."
"He's just a baby," I said, shaking my head at my husband. "You'd cry too."
Rolling his eyes, Dean set the luggage down and reached for Libby. "Hey, Meatloaf!" he greeted her, grinning. She squeaked upon seeing her daddy, babbling straight to his face as if she was telling him about her weekend without him. "Is that so?" he was asking, nodding away as she continued. "Well, we'll just have to keep a closer eye on Aunt Lucky and Uncle Sammy. Gotta keep them in line, we do."
Liberty must have agreed, because she kicked her chubby legs a final time and raspberried as Dean held her against his chest. The puppy found Serra's lap and was licking her all over her face as she giggled. "Are you keeping him?"
Sam and Serra stared at me and waited for an answer, both smiling expectantly. "Actually," I started, glancing at Dean, "I brought him home for you."
Serra's eyes lit up and she glanced at Sam. "You did?" Serra looked from the puppy back to me and tears filled her eyes. "You brought me a puppy?"
"It's not like we can keep him," I said, shrugging. "We don't have fences and balancing an infant and a puppy at the same time is not the smartest move."
Serra ruffled his ears and scratched his back as he lay in her lap, still thumping his tail. "Well it's a good thing we bought a house today, then."
I gawked at my sister, disbelief hitting me as I glanced to Sam's face. He was grinning and nodding as Dean clapped his brother on the back. "You're kidding," Dean said, still smiling. "Where?"
Stepping to the kitchen, Sam simply pointed out the window.
The rest of the family moved to where Sam stood and stared. "What? The smaller house that used to be on the property?"
Nodding, Serra grinned at me. "Yeah, the little old lady that lives there is selling and moving in with her daughter. Sam went to go talk to her today and she let us tour. We signed the papers today. We're closing escrow in fifteen days."
I swooped down to my sister's level and wrapped her in a hug. "Oh my God! Congratulations!" Dean hugged Sam as well and I smiled as I let my sister go. The puppy tugged at my ponytail, wagging his entire body as he played. "New house, new marriage, new dog. Unbelievable."
Sitting down next to my sister, I reached for Liberty. Dean handed her off as he walked to the fridge, grabbing a six-pack of beer and bringing it to the counter, popping four bottles in a row. "Congratulations, you guys," he said, handing each of us a bottle. He held up the bottle and we tapped the glass together, each taking a drink. Serra held the puppy to Libby and she batted at his nose. The puppy wagged his tail harder, trying to lick Liberty's face.
"Did they just become best friends?" Sam said, chuckling.
"Fine with me," Dean said. "Maybe he can take her to prom."
Sam chuckled, taking a drink of his beer. "That would work better than you waiting for Lib and her boyfriend on the porch with your .45 in the dark."
Dean turned slowly and glared at his brother. Deadpan, he said, "Don't you say that word to me."
Confused, Sam glanced at Dean as I started to laugh. "What word?" he asked, completely at a loss.
"You said 'boyfriend,'" I laughed, still holding Liberty on the floor next to the puppy. "He about took my head off the other day when I asked when she would be allowed to date."
Dean pointed his bottle at me on the floor and said, "That word's not okay, either."
Standing and brushing herself off, Serra sighed dramatically and hugged Dean, "I'm with you, brother. She is hereby banished from all socialization with boys."
"Good luck with that," I said, smiling. "She'll just sneak out, you know."
"That's why my place is on the porch from her thirteenth birthday on."
I shook my head, moving towards Dean and hugging him. "You're hopeless," I said, reaching up to kiss him. I glanced around the room; taking in the love my family had for each other and took a deep breath. If only our parents could see us now, figuring out our lives, one step at a time, together. I smiled, watching my sister and her new husband, kissed my daughter on the head and leaned into my husband's chest. We had it all because we had it together.