Not Half Bad
Thalia hadn't missed much. The car ride for the next hundred or so miles was fast and quiet. After the first hour of driving, AC/DC's "Back in Black" played through the speakers, at a reasonable volume. It was actually Sam's idea, as both he and Dean knew that it was her favorite rock album. For some reason that Sam couldn't fathom, she'd always found it relaxing.
Have a Drink on Me was what she woke up to, and she was tempted to nod her head to the beat as she opened her eyes. She let out an exhale. She didn't feel refreshed, but at least she no longer felt like she'd taken an axe to the chest. She was as awake as she'd ever be, given the circumstances.
She cleared her throat. "How long was I out?"
Without looking through the rear-view, Dean said, "Almost two hours now." Then, he cut the wheel and pulled them over onto the shoulder of the highway. "I need some fresh air."
All three of them got out, knowing he was definitely right about that. It was pitch dark, with only the headlights of the Impala as a consistent light source. The air was damp and smelled of fresh rain that had already come and gone.
They leaned on the guard rail, staring up at the cloudy night sky.
Dean spoke up. "So, what the hell are we supposed to do about this," he asked, making Thalia sigh. He looked at his brother, who had yet to say a word or even look at either of them. "'Cause I don't know about you Sam, but this is bullshit. She ain't the first demon we've trusted, and look where it always gets us."
Thalia's jaw clenched, her gut twisting. "Dean-"
"I'm sick and tired of being lied to and tricked," he continued. "All these goddamn surprises from people we think we should care about." His gaze was harsh as he stared at Thalia. "So what the hell are you? Demon? Human?! Are we supposed to care about you or-"
Something in her snapped. "I'm me! For the last fucking time, I'm me! I don't give a shit about being human or being a demon! Those labels don't mean shit to me! Just like how my own goddamn name didn't mean shit to me! I'm the same person you met when that witch hexed my bike and I'm the same fucking person now!"
"No, you're not," Sam said, his voice quiet. "You're not the same. You've changed. A lot. You treat us differently than you treat others. You started to trust us."
"I'm also a demon, too," she reminded.
He swallowed, looking down to stare at the road. "Dean and I…have experienced worse things. Hell, we've been worse things." He chuckled bitterly. "You heard what Jase said about demon blood. About the fucking apocalypse."
Dean was shaking his head, teeth gritted and frowning at him. "Sam-"
"I-I don't know what…what to think of it," he stammered. Then, he looked at Thalia. "To think of you. Dean made some…fair points. But…How do you even know you're a demon," he asked desperately. "The way you react to holy water isn't how a normal demon reacts. I mean, there was blood, yeah. But no smoke."
"I think it's safe to say there's nothing normal about me," she remarked, almost casually. "And I never really knew for sure. I've had conversations with demons in the past, but you know how they mess with your heads. I didn't want to believe them, any of them. But…Things just kept happening over the years...And by the time I met you guys, I already came to terms with it being a possibility." She shrugged. "And in the end, it doesn't matter to me either way."
Dean scoffed. "Bullshit. How can it not?"
Her response was said quietly and serenely, as if slowly realizing and coming to terms with something. "Because it literally makes no difference. I'm…I'm still me."
There was silence for a while. It was only ever broken by the sound of a passing semi, or excess rainwater falling from leaves in the woodlands behind them.
Thalia looked back, the comforting darkness of those woods beckoning to her. Her bike and a portion of her camping gear were still far away near the mountains. She would have to make do with what very little she had until she got there.
"Well," she eventually said. "Those woods look mighty cozy. You guys know me, I'll feel right at home in there." She swallowed, cringing slightly against the aftertaste of her own blood. "Before I figure out where to go next."
Sam instantly looked at her. "You're leaving?"
She pursed her lips. "If that's what's safest for me, if that's what I have to-"
"We're not gonna hurt you," he exclaimed incredulously.
"I never said you were-"
"Hell no, Thalia!"
She looked at Dean. "Excuse me," she all but demanded.
"Hell. No." He repeated. "You remember that conversation we had in the motel? You said you'd never skip out on us. Fucking own up to that." He scraped his fingers down his face with a conflicted groan. "I don't know what the hell to do with you. With-With any of this! And it looks like Sammy's in the same boat. You're a demon, and you shoulda told us sooner, goddamnit! But if you think we're gonna let you leave us in the dust, then think again."
Thalia shook her head, not believing what he was getting at. "You don't want me to leave?"
He chuckled humorlessly. "Oh, believe me. If we had wanted that, we woulda dumped your sorry ass on the highway a couple dozen miles ago."
She was staring at him, struggling to understand. "You drove over a hundred miles, without stopping, without a destination in mind…to figure out if that's what you wanted to do?"
"Driving helps me think, you both know that," he said. "And what else were we supposed to do? You looked like shit after drinking all that holy water."
Her tensed shoulders sagged, tension that she hadn't even realized she'd been holding. "You…guys still care about me."
"Come on, even you know that's a stupid question," he scoffed. "And Sammy still does, even if he hasn't said it. He's hopeless." Dean said this as if Sam wasn't standing right next to them. He had gone back to staring at the road, just listening to Dean and Thalia talk.
Suddenly, Dean felt very nearly infuriated. "When the hell are people gonna wrap their heads around the fact that family is the only thing that matters," he asked to no one in particular. "Look, Thalia. Whatever the hell you are or…or supposed to be…Dammit, I don't know, but we don't give up on family." He paused. "And neither will you. Demon crap be damned."
That's when Sam did something that surprised him and Thalia. He pushed against the guardrail, and walked away, with only the headlights guiding him down the shoulder.
The twisting in Thalia's gut finally released, as if her own body couldn't take it anymore. Something vicious and without mercy caught in her throat, and it wasn't blood this time. She also felt something wet in her eyes. A quiet huff escaped her, one that almost let every bit of her turmoil spill out of her. She bent forward, burying her face in her hands in the hopes of making any helplessness disappear.
She felt Dean's hand clap her shoulder, a casual gesture that she strangely felt comforted by. "Sam's had…girlfriend problems in the past. This whole half-and-half thing you got going on, though…That's a new one for him."
"I feel like this a new one for me, too," she grumbled.
"…Don't count him out just yet."
Dean's hand stayed on her shoulder. Eventually, she looked up, her eyes blurry as she stared at the road. She felt a tug, and she let Dean slowly pull her upright again, without a word.
At some point, her vision cleared, but her tumultuous emotions remained, just under the surface. She needed a distraction, just to help get her thoughts back in order. Though, that was a pipe dream. She honestly didn't know if she was even okay.
"What did…um…" She cleared her throat. "What was Jase going on about? A while ago, Sam had mentioned something about being addicted to demon blood in the past. Was that what Jase meant?"
Dean shook his head. "Believe it or not, that's a completely different thing. If you really wanna know, you gotta ask Sam. It's his business." He paused. "And I think that's why he's not mad whatsoever."
She shook her head, looking in Sam's direction. She could see his shadow, about a quarter mile down the road, leaning against the same guardrail they were. "I can't…I'm not good at emotions whatsoever, but…I can't get a read on him at all." She looked at Dean. "You really think you can convince me that he's not upset?"
"Oh, I didn't say that. He's beyond upset," Dean responded bluntly, causing Thalia to glare at him. "But like I said, that's a conversation for you and him to have." He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring half-smile. "Once he cools off, he might answer some of your questions."
She nodded once. "God, I hope so." She paused. "Another question…You guys were the ones who started the apocalypse?"
"We were also the ones who stopped it."
Thalia hummed and nodded, not the least bit perturbed. "Right on."
That made Dean bark out a laugh. "Who the hell reacts to something like that? God, you're weird."
They talked some more, at this point just to pass the time, patiently waiting on Sam. They talked a little about the apocalypse and some of the things that went down, with Dean being mindful to keep certain things vague. It circled back around to talking about the demons they'd encountered during that time, including an arrogant one with a British accent and a snarky attitude, as well as a couple others who either helped or hindered them along the way.
"Hey, wait, you drank holy water at Bobby's the one time," Dean suddenly remembered. "He always slips it in people's drinks when they come through the door. How come you were fine with that?"
"I wasn't," Thalia answered. "It still burned a tad. I always liken it to whiskey. Still, I can tolerate it most of the time. I don't know why today was different, though. Maybe I drank too much, or…Huh…Maybe there are different potencies of holy water."
"Never heard of that before," Dean said with a shrug. "But anything's possible, I guess." He blew out a puff of air. "All this shit's making my head spin. I'm exhausted."
She chuckled, picking at the dried blood on her shirt. "You're telling me. So, what's next for us?"
"I don't know. Look for a couple more jobs. Not much else to do with our lives."
"You know," she said slowly. "You don't have to hunt like your life depends on it."
"Hah," he said, but with no humor at all. "This is my life. Our life."
"So we tweak things a little," she suggested. "No sense in stopping hunting. Helping people, that's what we do. No one else is gonna do it. But…You ever think about just traveling around, seeing where the road takes you, all the while without a case to focus on?"
"What? Like what you do?" He shook his head. "For the first time in a long time, there's no apocalypse, no bullshit between Heaven and Hell, no vendettas, and all three of us are alive and…What else are we supposed to do except hunt?" He took a breath. "Sammy and I haven't done otherwise in a long-ass time."
"Not time like the present."
He exhaled, an exhausted flicker coming across his face. "Thal-"
"You'd be surprised at all the spooky, gruesome, crazy crap you find along the way, even without looking for it. Take me meeting you two for example."
He rolled his eyes at her. Then, he shook his head. "Anyway. What you do, it's…practically the same thing as hunting, anyways," he said, but his words faltered midway, as if something small had changed.
Thalia didn't notice. "If you say so."
Then, movement caught their eyes, and they looked in Sam's direction. They could see his shadow moving, getting closer. She took a breath, tension returning.
Dean lightly tapped her shoe with his boot. "Come on," he drawled. "Where's that confident, positive, Thalia attitude?"
She grimaced. "I don't think anyone has ever described me as positive. Have you met my cynical ass?"
He shrugged. "So the Winchesters have a different definition of the word 'positive'. Sue us. What'cha thinking?"
"Just trying to understand him as best I can," she muttered. "I'm so…attached to him at this point. I don't know if I could bear it…him looking at me different." Her mouth moved up and down, trying to get the words out. "I…He…If he wanted me gone...It'd hurt like hell, but I'd understand."
Dean was quiet, wondering how to respond to that while watching his brother approach the car. He could hear it in Thalia's voice, that Sam was the deciding factor, but that didn't matter to him. He knew his brother. And he knew Thalia.
"Thal," Dean said. "You're not homeless anymore."
She looked at him, her mouth a thin line. "Dean-"
Thalia snapped her gaze to Sam. He went over to them, stopping right beside her. She exhaled, finally allowing herself to feel a little more at ease.
She studied his body language. There was no hint of anger, disgust, or even derision in his eyes. Just a type of neutrality that Thalia recognized, and could even understand a little. His tension hadn't gone away completely, but she could tell he was levelheaded, no longer being plagued by whatever heavy emotions he'd let himself wallow in.
The question slipped past her lips. "You okay?"
Sam scoffed a little, as if he should be the one to ask her that. "I…think I will be." His tone was tired, but he didn't lie to her when he said it, and it was enough for her to feel just that tad bit of reassurance.
She didn't know what it would be like for her and Sam after this. This was a lot for both of them. There were so many questions hanging in the air, ones that they could ask and answer on their terms. She could only hope to take it one day at a time and see where it got them. The one thing that she did know, though, was that the road was calling their names.
"Alright," Dean said as they all got in the car. "No more chick-flick moments for a while. Time to get going." He started the ignition.
Sam was once again in the backseat with Thalia, making her raise a brow at him. "What did the front seat ever do to you," she joked.
He let out a short chuckle. "I just wanna make sure you're okay still, after everything that happened today."
He leaned towards her, planting the lightest of kisses against her jaw. Then the corner of her mouth, then her lips. He pulled away to lean back in his seat and stare out the window, an odd mix of uncertainty and care lingering between the two.
Thalia nodded once. She was fine with that for now. If Sam could be patient with her in the beginning of their relationship, then it was her turn to be patient with him now.
"Music time," Dean muttered, popping in another cassette.
"Hey, where're we going anyway," Sam asked.
Dean opened his mouth, but then he looked at Thalia through the rear-view. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking about the conversation they'd had only minutes ago. He was also thinking about how tired he was.
"You know," Dean said. "How about Thalia decides where our next case should be? I think it's safe to say she's gotta make it up to us."
She chuckled, grinning at him, understanding what he was getting at. "I don't know," she said. "Not a case, but, uh, you never know." She pointed down the highway. "There might be something in that general direction."
"General direction, it is," he said, and a comical smirk widened on his face when the music came on. It was another AC/DC album. Highway to Hell blared through the speakers.
Thalia couldn't help but laugh. "You're an asshole."
"Huh? Sorry, what, can't hear you," Dean hollered, pointing to the radio. "Hey! So if you're a half-demon, does that mean you got any cool powers?"
She laughed again, even more delighted when she caught a glimpse of Sam's shoulders twitching with laughter. She shook her head. "I don't know."
"Ooh, hang on." Dean suddenly turned the music down. He took out his cell from his pocket. "Gotta call Bobby. Where's your bike at and where do you want it towed? 'Cause I think we're headed in the opposite direction."
Her smile turned warm. She gave him rough coordinates, and said, "You can have it towed to the bunker."
That was where home was, after all.
And sitting in the backseat of the Impala wasn't half bad either.
Well, that's it. That's the end. I don't know if I'll ever make more Supernatural fics, but never say never. I'm rewatching the series as we speak, and we all know how plot bunnies work. Thank you for reading. I'd been wanting to write this story for far too long now. And I'm very happy I did. My editor and I hope you enjoyed.