"I think this might be where the demon is hiding out," Mia said, pointing to a red circle on a tattered map. "There's an abandoned shack out there. It's grown over with vines and people don't usually go around there; maybe a few kids at Halloween or on dares. Until recently it's been all in good fun, but I'd hate for a kid to wander up on it now."
"Man, this map is old," Dean commented, leaning over the table with a mouth full of food. A piece of BBQ pork fell from his lips and plopped onto the map in a stick mass of barbeque sauce. He stopped chewing and looked at Mia, an unamused look on her face.
"It was my father's," she stated flatly, keeping her irritation in check. Her green eyes closed, and she exhaled slowly through her nose. He hadn't meant any harm but still it got under her skin. He was so much more serious as a kid and she was beginning to wonder how much they'd changed in the years they had gone since speaking last.
"Keep your food in your mouth ya idjit," Bobby scolded. Dean leaned away from the table, chewing slowly in embarrassment. Sam shot him that look he knew too well and Dean decided to sit back and watch.
"Anyway," Mia continued, "I think this place is your best bet. My only question is; why is it stealing hearts? I mean, demons don't normally take body parts. Could this be something else?" Her attention turned to Bobby, hoping he would have an answer for her.
The older man scratched his grey streaked beard, not taking his eyes off the map. He could feel her eyes on him, waiting for his opinion. Waiting for answers that he didn't have. Sure, there were a few theories popping up in his head but none of them seemed too probable. His eyebrows raised, and his lips pursed as he exhaled. Mia knew the look. Bobby was stumped.
"How many people have gone missing?" Sam asked.
"Four this week," Mia said, glancing up at him.
"What about the police? Are they connecting the missing people?" Dean asked.
Mia looked at Dean beside her and Sam shifted a little. He felt like warning her about Dean, but he just crossed his arms. It wasn't his place.
Dean put his burger down and wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve, Sam pulling his lips into a thin line. What a heathen, he thought. Dean moved closer to Mia and Sam could see her muscles tense a little, her words lost on his lips for a moment before she spoke.
"No. They local police aren't too involved right now. They're sort of shrugging it off because the missing people were drug addicts and homeless people. No one that they deem worthy of looking into," she sighed, crossing her arms. Dean was standing so close she could smell the leather of his coat and the underlying scent of aftershave. She bit her lip, trying to focus but her eyes met Dean's and he gave her a crooked grin and she knew she was in trouble. The way he was looking at her and the feelings that sprang up at seeing him again, she had to wonder what would happen between them, if anything.
"Gotcha," Dean said, taking another bite. "Well, maybe we can get around without too much trouble then."
"There's a crossroad here; about a mile away. What if someone summoned a demon there and it never left? Just decided to hang out?" Sam straightened himself and asked Bobby, "I've never heard of it happening before, but is it possible?"
"Crossroads demons usually only come around long enough to get your soul and carry out their deal. Once it has what it wants, there's no need to stick around. Maybe whatever summoned it wasn't human. Or maybe it didn't have a soul to bargain with," Bobby mused.
"Like a witch?" Mia asked. "I mean, I wouldn't think a witch would need a demon but if one did and a demon showed up it might not have been too happy about not having a soul to take back with them."
"How convenient. Sam's dating a witch, aren't cha Sam?" Dean said, his grin turning from charming to malicious. "Why don't you call her up Sammy? I'm sure she could give us some insight here." His sarcastic tone was laced with venom. He hated the fact that his brother had a soft spot for the little hell bitch and he wasn't going to pass up a chance to take a shot at him for it.
"She was just trying to help," Sam returned, obviously tired of Dean's jabs at his past with Ruby. It wasn't any of his business who Sam decided to talk to.
"What? You're dating a witch?" Mia looked at him that time, her expression a mix of curiosity and disgust. How could he do that? They were raised as hunters. How could Sam be intimate with one of the creatures they hunted?
"Well actually she was a witch. Now she's a demon. Right Sammy? Bagged yourself a real hell cat," Dean replied, and Mia stepped back away from Sam. Surely not. He had to know that they were all liars and manipulators.
"No, it's not like that," Sam said, his eyes meeting Mia as his hands came up defensively. He adjusted his stance and exhaled deeply. Great. The first time they see each other in years and she thinks he's screwing a demon. "Ruby was a witch and yes, she's a demon but she said she could help Dean get out of his deal with another crossroads demon."
Mia's eyes dropped from Sam, shifting to Dean who looked none too pleased that Sam mentioned his deal. He'd stopped chewing and was giving Sam a death glare. Before she had a chance to ask he spoke again but she couldn't understand what he was talking about.
"But she can't help me Sam. She's a demon. We hunt her kind. She'd tell you whatever you want to hear so you won't kill her."
"Dammit boys, shut up," Bobby snapped, his patience grown too thin. "You two can argue about that crap later. For now, we have a demon to find and kill before it gets to anyone else." A grumbly sigh and some curse words and the conversation was back on track. For the most part.
Mia couldn't take her eyes off Dean. He'd made a deal with a demon. Did the creature have his soul? Did he lose years to it? And for what? So many question. Dean stopped eating, his eyes meeting Mia's and he hated what he saw there. Questioning. Pity. Sadness. He couldn't look any more.
"Well," she began, pulling her attention from Dean. "If you're dealing with a witch you might not have the time to draw an entrapment spell before the demon comes. You'll have to hope she's not guarding the place."
"That is assuming it's a witch at all," Sam said.
"Right. Anyway, you'll want to be prepared one way or another so if I were you, I'd take what you need for demons and witches."
"You're not coming with us?" Dean asked.
"No," Mia said evenly. "I gave up hunting a long time ago. Bobby just called in a favor. I held up my end, so this is as far as I go. The rest is up to you guys."
Dean almost couldn't believe his ears. He watched Sam's expression change from irritation to a soft understanding. Sam was fooling himself, but he wasn't fooling Dean. It didn't matter how much he said that being normal wasn't what he wanted anymore, Dean could see the way he looked at people who weren't hunters. He could see the longing in his eyes to be like them. Oblivious. Dean watched his brother eye Mia with a newfound kinship and Dean realized deep down that he wanted the same thing Sam did. A family. A stable place to call home. The big difference between the two men? Sam had a taste of that sort of life and transitioned so well to it. But could Dean? Change was hard and frankly, he didn't think he could ever really be able to integrate into a civilian life. Not when he knew that there were things going bump in the night and knocking off innocent humans.
"Alright boys, load up. Let's get this thing taken care of quick," Bobby grumbled, picking up the map and shaking off the barbecue mess before rolling it up.
"Yeah, Bobby doesn't wanna miss his soaps," Dean teased, masking the emotions only he knew he had. Bobby glared at Dean, obviously not amused, as he walked out of the dining room.
Mia sat alone at her kitchen table, twin handguns laying on the scarred wood. Green eyes traced the etching on their barrels and she felt the old itch. She leaned back from them, absently scratching her palm. She was doing it again. Sitting alone in the old farmhouse while other hunters risked their lives to keep her safe. Keep the citizens of the town safe.
Had she not done the same thing so many times before she wouldn't have given it a second thought. Sam and Dean Winchester would risk their lives, kill the demon, deal with whomever summoned it, and they'd leave town quietly. Most people wouldn't even know they'd passed through.
She'd felt guilt before at calling in hunters to clean up messes in her area. But that didn't stop her. She had a hard a fast rule about staying away from anything that ate hearts, sucked blood, or generally caused unnatural chaos. There had been guilt for the others, but nothing she couldn't live with. But with Sam and Dean it was different. She cared about them. They had history.
Her fingers wrapped around the cool metal of one of the handguns, feeling the familiar grip and the way it fit her hand perfectly. She found the corners of her mouth twitching into a smile at the weight of it and suddenly she knew; she couldn't let them risk their lives while she sat alone, waiting for them to return. Not now. Not this time. Not with the Winchesters.
"Dammit," she cursed, quickly loading the guns, packing some items into a duffel bag, and trotting out the door. I'm not back in the game, she told herself. This is it. One job, just one, and only because it's Sam and Dean. Just one more job, and I'm done all over again.
Mia slung the bag into the trunk of her cherry red Chevelle and hopped in, sending up a cloud of dust as she peeled out of the driveway. She didn't need a map to tell her where the shack was, she'd been up that way before a time or two before the demon came around. It wouldn't take twenty minutes to get there but Mia would make it in a lot less time than that.
The storm grew stronger as she drove, lightning getting ever closer and she remembered the night she'd spent as a kid tucked in close to Dean and Sam in that ugly blue bath tub. The Chevelle roared into the night and she arrived at the narrow dirt driveway that led into woods where the shack lay hidden from view. She pulled up next to the sleek black Impala, neither car able to make it down the deeply rutted dirt path.
Water cascaded through the ruts like rivers and she slung her bag over her shoulder and strode between them, keeping to the higher ground in the center. Lightning flashed as she entered a hollow of trees, their low branches arching over her head to create a sort of natural tunnel. She hated the closed in feel of it, but it kept back a good bit of the rain and that was good enough for her.
Ahead she could see candle light shuddering between slats of the dilapidated shack. Voices could be heard within and Mia slowed her pace considerably. She didn't want to interrupt if they were in the middle of something, so she hunkered down and moved slowly toward the shack. Finally she reached the door and peered in. They had just finished drawing their trap on the ceiling and Bobby snuffed out the candle.
All fell silent within the house, leaving only the sounds of nature and the storm. Mia froze, the footsteps in the shack stopped and somehow she felt very alone. Exposed. An unsettling silence fell over her and it seemed as though her head was in a bubble; all sounds on the outside garbled and muffled.
A twig behind her broke and her heart pounded in her ears. She swallowed hard, hand moving down to her gun but a deep sultry voice stopped her in her tracks.
"What do we have here?" it asked but Mia didn't want to turn and face it.
She knew it would look like a man. They most always looked like men. Well, men in the sense that they wore the face of a human. A meat suit they called it. A body, most likely a recently dead one, but it wasn't a person anymore. It wasn't human. She knew it would be staring at her with those blood red eyes and she didn't want to see it. Still she stood, slowly, and turned to the demon.
Had she not known what he was, had his red eyes not stared at her like fiery orbs in his skull, she might have thought him attractive. He was tall with tan skin, an easy smile, and hair so pale blonde it looked silver in the nearing flashes of lightning. His defined jaw was clean shaven and the suit he wore was black as the shadows and tailor made. It fit his lean frame perfectly.
Mia took a step back, nearer to the door but he was on her in a heartbeat. She tried to draw her weapon but he knocked it from her hand before grabbing her and spinning her back into his chest. The cold edge of a blade touched her throat and she knew she was done. He could cut her from ear to ear before anyone would be the wiser. But that didn't seem to be what he wanted.
"Call out your friends, love," he whispered in her ear, almost seductively, his breath hot on her flesh.
"No," she said firmly.
"Call them out," he repeated, slower this time, the blade biting into her flesh.
"Dean?" she called out, her voice breaking. She could almost hear the confusion in the silence of the shack but within seconds Dean, Sam, and Bobby were out the door, weapons drawn.
"Well, well, well. Looks like we got ourselves a little party, darlin'," the demon chuckled.
"Let her go," Dean demanded, pistol locked and loaded and aimed right between the demon's eyes.
"Now why on earth would I wanna go and do a thing like that? She's my insurance. You let me go, and I'll leave her a few miles down the road, fresh as a ripe peach."
"Not a chance, buddy," Dean growled. "Let her go right now and I'll put you down quick. But if you harm one hair on her head I'll drag your happy ass in here and make it nice and slow."
Sam shifted uncomfortably, readjusting his grip as his eyes shot worried glances between his brother and Mia. He couldn't take the chance of missing the demon and hitting Mia, but they couldn't just let him get away either.
The demon hid his body behind Mia as best he could, using her as a shield for his head and heart, only peering out from around her ebony hair. "Now that doesn't sound very sportin' of you Dean," the demon tsked. "I got as much right to live as you do."
"Bullshit," Dean snapped. "Mia, don't move," he warned a split second before firing off a round into the demon's exposed shoulder. The creature cried out, his body twisting away with the force of the hit.
Mia yelped and ducked, making a low escape as the demon regained his footing. He charged the last few feet to Dean, punching the hunter square in the jaw. Mia hopped onto the porch as Sam shot the demon in the side and with a roar the demon flicked his hand and Sam went reeling off the porch into the deep brush. Mia grabbed at Sam, calling his name into the thunder. Her hands grabbed at his shirt, but he slipped from her grasp, his anti-possession pendant catching on her fingers and breaking loose.
The demon's focus returned to Dean. Another blow to the face and Dean's brow split open, pouring blood into his eyes, blinding him. The demon grabbed Dean's gun and tossed it out into the mud where Mia scrambled to retrieve it.
Bobby slung holy water toward the demon, it's flesh searing and smoking as it screamed in pain. Mia pushed the mud-covered gun deep in her pocket and pulled her other pistol out, grabbing the bottle of holy water from Bobby's hand and dousing the muzzle before firing a shot at the demon. Again, he screamed and collapsed in the mud. His eyes flashed red and Dean moved closer.
The demon stood slowly, blood shimmering in the candle light from the open door. Sam had regained his footing and stood at the edge of the porch, nearly side by side with Mia, both of them with their weapons trailed on the red eyed demon. They were just wasting ammo. Their best bet was to get him into the shack, trap him, and exorcise him before he could escape.
Dean moved around to the back of the demon, nothing but a useless blade in his hand. The demon was writhing from the holy water coated bullet that was now lodged deep in his body, allowing Sam and Dean to drag him into the shack. Inside rain dripped through holes in the roof and candles flickered in the wind as it gusted through the slatted walls.
The demon growled at them, his handsome features contorted into pure evil. He glanced up at the demon trap above him, painted on what was left of the ceiling and he set his jaw, bearing his fangs in anger.
"Who summoned you?" Sam asked.
"Why should I tell you?"
"Just exorcise the son of a bitch," Dean said, wiping the blood from his face with his sleeve.
Sam hesitated, then began the ritual. The demon laughed and began chanting something in Latin. Sam's brow furrowed, and he recited the exorcism faster, but it was too late. The old building shook violently, wood and dust falling around them all. A board fell from the ceiling, breaking the seal that held the demon. Thick black smoke poured form the vessel's mouth, leaving the bloodied broken body behind as it flew out into the night. The candles flickered and went out, plunging them all into darkness.
The room fell quiet, only the sounds of them catching their breaths and the distant roll of thunder could be heard in the small space.
"Dammit," Dean cursed through gritted teeth, his voice followed up by something slamming on the floor.
"Is everyone alright?" Sam asked into the darkness and Bobby lit a match.
"Yeah," they all mumbled.
"Let's get this guy out of here. We can salt and burn him when the rain let's up," Mia sighed, holstering her weapon as she gazed upon the body of the handsome blonde man the demon had possessed. "We didn't send him back to hell but maybe it was enough to scare him out of town."
"Where's my gun?" Dean asked.
Mia pulled the muddy gun from her coat pocket, wiping it off with her sleeve as best she could before handing it to him. "You can clean it when we get back," she said. "Now I just need to find mine."
"Thanks," he mumbled. "We'll find it."
"Yeah," she said as they walked out into the rain.
Sam recovered the pistol to its owner and the group headed back to the road, a black cloud hovering over them.
Mia dried her hair with a towel as she entered the living room of the farmhouse, a warm fire crackling in the fireplace. Bobby slept in an armchair in the corner, an empty plate on the table beside him. Pizza boxes lay open on her coffee table where Dean had propped up his feet as he cleaned his gun by the firelight. Sam had turned a chair to better read in the darkness.
Dean noticed her before Sam did and greeted her with a tilt of his head. "Nice shower?" he asked sarcastically, knowing full well that the power had gone out right when she hopped in the shower.
"I think I used my body wash as shampoo," she said, plopping down beside him and grabbing a slice of pizza. She began to lean back but instead she slapped Dean's foot off the table.
He chuckled and continued cleaning his gun. When he was satisfied he set it on the coffee table beside hers. "Got yours cleaned up for ya'. We'll have to fire a couple test rounds tomorrow to make sure they work alright but that's all I can do for now."
"Thanks," she said, sitting back, her eyes falling on Sam. He glanced at her but quickly went back to reading. "I guess you found my office."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude," Sam said quickly, closing the book and beginning to stand.
"Calm down. It's fine," she said, holding a hand up to stop him. "Frankly I'm surprised you found anything of interest in there. I don't have much on hunting anymore."
"Aw that's alright. Sammy doesn't want to be a hunter anyway," Dean said, his smile lacking humor.
"Something wrong with that?" Mia asked, cocking her head to the side.
Dean's mouth dropped open and he searched for words. "I didn't…"
"It's ok," Mia said. "I've been given hell for quitting. I have to call in hunters to take care of monsters that I could take care of on my own. They talk behind my back; wonder how I could let other risk their lives for me." She picked the pepperoni on her pizza, eyes downcast but not really looking at anything.
"Is that why you followed us?" Sam asked quietly.
Mia didn't reply. She put the pizza back, away from the other slices, and sighed. "Something like that," she said, afraid that explaining the exact reason she went after them would make her sound crazy. They hadn't seen each other in years. She owed them nothing.
"There isn't anything wrong with stopping," Sam said.
"Tell the others that," Mia said, her eyes meeting his. "They treat me like I'm a traitor. Except Bobby."
"Why'd you stop? When we were kids you wanted to be a hunter just like I did," Dean asked, feeling uncomfortable with the way they were looking at one another.
"Dad never wanted this life for me. He only trained me so I'd know how to protect myself. He died a couple years back. I mean, it was bound to catch up with him. It catches up with everyone eventually. After that I had to make a choice. This is what I chose," she shrugged. Sam understood, she could tell. But Dean… he sipped his bear and stared into the fire. He didn't approve. She wrung her hands, feeling like somehow she'd let him down.
When they were kids they had such big plans. They'd kill all the monsters and be heroes. He'd helped her practice with a blade and she listened to him talk about being like his dad. Turning her back on the other hunters wasn't ideal but she could live with it. But disappointing Dean? For some reason that felt worse.
"Well, it's been a long day," she said, forcing a smile as she rose from the couch, grabbing a candle for light. "I'm going to bed. Sleep where you want but there's a couple of guest bedrooms upstairs at the end of the hall."
Dean let her walk away without a word but Sam couldn't let it settle on that. He stood, dropping the book on the chair to follow her up the stairs. He caught her before she opened her door.
"Hey," he said, "Sorry about Dean. He's… he's not been alright lately and it's getting to him."
Mia stopped, turning slowly to look up at Sam. Golden light flickered across his face and she could see the pain in his eyes. "It's about that deal he made with a demon, right?"
Sam chewed his lip. "I don't know how much he'd want me to say. It's nothing against you, really, I just don't feel like it's my business to tell. I just wanted to say I'm sorry. For the way the others treat you. It's not right."
"It's okay, Sam. I've been dealing with it for awhile now. It's nothing I can't handle but Dean…"
"Feels like you're letting him down. I know. He can be a pain sometimes but please don't take it personal. Like I said, he's just going through some stuff right now."
Mia sighed and nodded. "Alright. No hard feelings okay?"
"Thanks," he grinned, unsure of what to say next. Silence hung between them and he was tempted to say something about hooking up with Dean but he didn't want to come off like he was telling her what to do. Besides, maybe he wasn't giving his brother enough credit. Sure, he was bad about flings but he'd had a thing for her when they were kids so maybe… maybe this time might be different. "I'm going to get some rest. See you in the morning."
"Night," she said, wondering what the awkward pause was for. He walked down to one of the spare rooms and she looked down the stairs, firelight flickering across the hardwood. She bit her lip, wondering if she should go talk to Dean but she had no idea what she would even say to him. With a heavy sigh she closed the door and went to bed.
Sam leaned against the door of the spare bedroom. Dean most likely wouldn't try anything to night. There was a chance that they could get out of town without an incident. The demon was most likely gone, and they'd leave in the morning after disposing of the demon's vessel and head out for the next job. He ran his fingers through his hair, feeling a little relieved that they could keep contact with her without things getting weird.
He slipped his shirt over his head and laid it over the end of the bed. His hand went up to his chest, fingers searching for his pendant, but it was gone. For a moment his heart stopped. He picked up his shirt and shook it out, hoping to hear the pendant hit the floor but he heard nothing.
Within seconds he was knocking on Mia's door. The look of shock on her face when she answered reminded him that he was shirtless.
"I'm so sorry I just, um, candle? Do you, I need I candle. It's dark and I um, I think I lost my pendant," he stammered, motioning toward his room.
Mia took her candle and lit another, handing it to him with a little laugh. "Goodnight Sam," she said. He practically ran down the hall and Mia closed her door with a stifled giggle.
Sam looked all over for the pendant, but it was gone. He must have lost it at some point while they were fighting the demon. Should he tell Dean? Bobby maybe? One way or another he'd have to replace the pendant but there wasn't anything he could do about it tonight.
With a huff he put the candle on the bedside table, stripped off his pants and laid down. Figures danced across the popcorn ceiling as he drifted off to sleep. But his sleep wasn't restful. All night he tossed and turned, nightmares plaguing his dreams.
First it was his biggest fear. He was on his knees, Dean dead in his arms. The dream wasn't complicated. It didn't even last very long. He woke with a jolt, catching his breath as he calmed himself. This was Mia's house. He knew where he was and Dean still had time before his deal was up. It was okay. It was all okay.
Sam rolled to his side and blew out the candle. The thing was nearly burned down to nothing, wax drippings spilled out onto the plate it was set on. The room was plunged into darkness and he tried to go back to sleep.
The next dream was worse. He dreamt of a shadow in the corner of the room, swirling like a tangible mist. It glided toward him and into his mouth. He couldn't even stop it. His arms were trapped at his sides. It was as if he was in his body, but also outside of it, watching his eyes turn red. He watched his body get up and walk down the hall, quiet as a church mouse to go into Mia's room.
The door was unlocked and swung open easily at his touch, but he wasn't prepared for what he saw; Dean. Sam froze at the sight of his brother between Mia's legs. The next thing he knew he was standing in a pool of blood, Mia's naked body bloody, those pretty green eyes staring vacantly into space and a waterfall of blood spurting from Dean's throat.
His brother gripped his neck, blood pouring from between his fingers as he reached for Sam, his face twisted with pain and betrayal, but he couldn't choke out any words. He fell sputtering to the bed, dead, his body laying over Mia's legs.
Thick drops of blood dripped from the blade in Sam's fist but he felt nothing. Slowly his head turned to the vanity mirror and he found he was smiling.
This time Sam woke with a yell, his brother's name on his lips. The house was silent, and no one answered his call. He pushed his fingers through tangled hair, damp with sweat. The sky was becoming lighter with the rising sun and Sam gave up on sleep. He pulled on his clothes from the night before and tiptoed across the hall to Dean's room, but his brother wasn't there. The room was untouched and Sam's mind shot back to his dream.
It didn't make sense. He'd been a little worried about how they'd remain friends if Dean had hooked up with her, but the emotions that swirled through his mind made no sense. It was as if he could feel himself being consumed with jealously.
He swallowed hard and closed the door, passing Mia's as quickly as he could manage only to feel a surge of relief when he saw his brother passed out on the couch. Bobby was gone already, having only left a note pinned to Dean's shirt.
Got a call from an old friend needing some help on a case. Behave yourselves.
Sam crumpled the note in his fingers and went to the kitchen to make breakfast. He had to do something to get his mind off the terrible thoughts that lingered after his nightmares.