::What a ride. This is the last chapter of Ashes and it was amazingly fun to write. I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to hear what you think. Please leave a review! Coming up, I have a couple of fun stories that are still on the Winchester Ranch timeline, but are not nearly as serious as this story arc. I hope you'll stick around. We'll have some fun.
Love and internetty hugs,
"Well, that was a letdown," I whispered, taking a deep breath and dusting off my hands as I looked up at Crowley. "I guess this is it," I continued, staring the demon down. "We go our separate ways and you never contact my family again."
"Where's the fun in that?" Crowley replied, a wry grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Approaching him slowly, I took a breath through my nose. "Go ahead and doubt me, Crowley. If I catch wind that you're anywhere near my family, truce is off."
Rolling his eyes, Crowley sighed heavily. "Truce," he repeated, shaking his head. "I miss the old days, back when we never stopped trying to kill each other, or when I got to wear you like my favorite dinner jacket." He gave me a once over and smiled wickedly. "So far, you've been my favorite meat suit. I'll always hold a special place in my heart for my dear Serendipity."
I feigned a gagging face and involuntarily shuddered. "God, I need a shower," I muttered under my breath. "Grace?" I turned, asking the air around me. "I'd like to come back to Wisconsin, now."
Without another moment's hesitation, a spiraling orange oval opened next to me, patiently waiting. "See you around, Crowley. Just know, I'm always packin', especially after this whole escapade."
"Noted," his accented drawl came behind me. "Give your sister my warm regards."
"And you saw everyone together," I repeated for what seemed like the twelfth time. "All the kids? They're all safe?"
Grace turned and rolled her eyes, nodding again. "Yes," she answered, amazingly still patient with my endless line of questioning. "They're all together in the panic room with Jody and Bill, who, by the way, had an open bottle of wine when I bounced to check on them." She smiled and raised her eyebrows. "They seem to be pretty comfortable with each other."
I made a face but shrugged, dismissing it. "I wanna go home to my babies," I muttered. "Let's get the fuck out of here."
We were packed up and ready to go in a matter of twenty minutes, waiting impatiently for Dean and Grace so we could get on the road. It seemed like the had been hugging or making out for the last half hour or so, and I was getting a little sick of it.
"What's the matter with you?" Sammy asked as he raised his eyebrows. "You've been staring at them longer than necessary."
"I wanna go," I whined, turning towards my husband. "They can make out when we get home."
Sam turned to smile at his brother and my sister, still locked in their embrace as Tulley and Santiago started their engines to get back on the road. He shrugged, smirking as he turned back to me, "I dunno, it's kinda cute," he commented quietly. "He thought she was dead about a week ago."
"Yeah, well," I clicked my tongue. "They can do whatever they want when we get back to Lawrence."
Grace turned to me and shook her head, rolling her eyes for effect. "We're going, we're going," she muttered, untangling herself from Dean. He took her hand as she led him back towards the Chevelle and as I squinted into the sunlight, I was certain I caught an opalescent glow from something towering above her. I took a deep breath as I strained to see it again, but I knew that seeing Grace's wings wasn't something I'd be able to do every time I looked.
It was pitch black when we pulled up into the gravel driveway in front of Grace and Dean's house, just after two in the morning. I threw myself from the car and ran up the steps, two at a time, to get inside to my kids. There was nothing that would separate me from them again, without our permission.
Punching in the code to the panic room, I tiptoed into the darkness and used the screen of my phone to see where I was going. There were blow up mattresses everywhere, with kids piled up on top of each other and blankets strewn about as if they had attempted a fort, but failed miserably. Tiptoeing towards the back of the room, I smiled at Jody, who had opened her eyes enough to see that it was me.
"Made it home fast," she commented, smiling gently.
I nodded, finally seeing Levi and Charlie, sleeping together on a twin air mattress near the right side of the room. Lee was curled around his baby sister, snoring softly. "Yeah," I whispered, "new record."
Softly, I made it to my kids' mattress and bent to touch each of their faces. I didn't expect them to wake, but almost immediately, Levi and Charlotte both opened their eyes and stared right at me. I smiled down at them, brushing their hair out of their faces, and leaning close. "Hey, guys," I greeted, bending down to kiss them. "I wanted to kiss you goodnight now that I'm home."
Charlie smiled widely at me, but then almost immediately fell back to sleep. Levi, however, narrowed his eyes and asked, "You're really here?"
I nodded slowly. "I'm here, kiddo," I answered and held open my arms as my son climbed into my lap. Together, we sat on the rug, against the wall of the cement basement, and I breathed in my kid's scent, promising myself that this whole thing would never happen again. We would never again be caught unaware.
"Where's everyone else?" he asked.
"They're still upstairs. I ran in so I could see you," I replied, tilting my head to see Lee's face more clearly. "Daddy is outside with Auntie Grace and Uncle Dean still, probably unloading."
Levi grinned suddenly, "Auntie Grace appeared here, twice!" he whispered excitedly. "She can appear and disappear!"
I smiled and nodded, holding my son close to my chest. "Yeah," I agreed. "She finally figured out how to use her abilities all the way." Pulling his arms free, Levi wrapped himself around me, breathing deeply. "I missed you so much."
"Me too, Momma," Lee whispered into my hair. "But you're home now. And we're all together."
I took a deep, ragged breath and nodded. "And that's the way it's going to stay." I kissed the top of his head and took another breath. "You're stuck with me, kiddo."
Once Everett had realized that we were home, he had snuck up the basement steps and found his way into the living room. Grace had noticed first and smiled gently at him, nodding her permission for him to be up. I turned to see my son, looking skinnier than I had ever seen him, but alive.
Immediately, my resolve was gone and threw myself to him, dropping to my knees and wrapping him in a tight hug. "Oh my god, I'm happy to see you, kid," I whispered into his hair, long and blond. "Are you okay? Did she hurt you?"
Everett shook his head into my shoulder as Grace looked on. "No," he answered, "not any more than I hurt her."
I pulled my son back by the shoulders to stare into his bright blue eyes. He had changed while he was gone; his voice was stronger and his face was harder. He looked like he had aged a couple of years, though it had only been…well. It had been close to eight months that he had been gone.
"I'm sorry, Ev," I said quietly. "I'm sorry she had you for so long. I'm sorry we couldn't get to you."
Nodding slowly, Everett shrugged. "It's not like you weren't trying," he answered. "I could hear Momma. I knew you were coming."
I agreed, glancing back at Grace. "I don't know why I'm even surprised anymore," I muttered, getting to my feet. "It's good to have you home."
It was almost four in the morning before we got everyone back in bed and settled. Sam and Serra had taken Levi and Charlotte home for the first time in months and after closing the door to the basement, I turned to stare at my husband.
He was standing in the kitchen, leaning on the island with his arms outstretched and his head hanging as if he was stretching out his neck. Sighing, he stood up to his full height and rerolled a sleeve of his flannel. Finally, Dean took a breath and licked his lips, and turned to stare at me.
Without saying a word, I walked towards my husband and wrapped myself around him, burying my face in the crook of his neck and breathing in his scent. Dean reciprocated immediately, wrapping his arms around my waist and picking me up from the floor. We kissed deeply and the lights above us flickered.
He broke away and glanced up, smiling wistfully. "You're gonna have to get that under control," he whispered. "This old house isn't gonna be able to handle you gettin' all excited all the time."
I grinned, staring up at the ceiling. "I'll figure it out," I laughed, "I think the bigger question is gonna be if you can handle me gettin' all excited all the time."
"Oh, honey," Dean winked at me, forcing a giggle from me. "I look forward to it."
My kids were safe. My nieces and nephew were safe. I was home with my husband and we watched our son and daughter sleep from the doorway of Levi's bedroom. For the first time in months, I was starting to breathe easier. I turned towards Sammy silently and took a slow breath, staring at the beautiful profile of his face. He smiled lightly, watching the kids as they slept, forcing his dimples to show. Somehow, we had made it through this. I couldn't believe it.
I reached out gently, feeling for the tips of his fingers and he did the same immediately, linking our fingers together in the space between. Slowly, I turned, keeping Sammy's fingers linked in mine over my shoulder and gently pulled him down the hall towards our bedroom. As the door clicked shut behind him, I took a deep breath and sighed. All was well.