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Sensitive Souls are the Strongest

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Chapter One   

Sam packed his third and last pair of jeans into the duffel bag, moving on then to his sparse possessions. Packing had become second nature to Sam, so he was able to think as he filled the bag. The whole house was ghastly quiet. Everyone had barely spoken two words to each other since the fight two days earlier. Sam ran his father’s words in his mind over and over again. If you leave, Sam, do not come back. Sam could hear his father and Dean in the kitchen, discussing in low tones their next hunt. Sam felt a strange longing to go in there with them and help them with planning, but a soft knock at the door broke Sam of his thoughts. Sam jumped, then smiled and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that it was just his little sister.

“Hey, Cricket. Come on in.”

            Eight year old Evy was dressed in pink coveralls, a white tshirt, and light blue sneakers. She was clutching in her hands her stuffed cat, Squish, which Sam had given her the day she’d been born. Squish was old and battered and missing an eye, but Evy loved him. She held him as she slept, as she played, as she traveled with the family. She was holding him close to her now as she walked in and climbed up the edge of Sam’s bed. She didn’t say anything, just watched Sam as he packed. Sam kept one eye on what he was doing and one eye on Evy.

            She was deeply depressed, that much was evident. Her normally cheerful disposition was gone, and she looked scared and lonely. She had been crying, probably alone in her room to avoid reigniting the feud between her father and brothers. Sam felt his heart start to ache. From the day of her birth, Evy had been attached to Sam at the hip. Her quiet, shy nature was at odds with the eldest two members of the family. Though Sam felt certain that John and Dean loved Evy, they seemed oblivious to the fact that Evy was a sensitive little girl who needed constant reassurance. Throughout her whole life, Sam had been the one she came to when she was scared, hurt, upset, or just in need of a little attention. Evy was the only one in the house Sam felt completely guilty about leaving. John had basically driven him away. Sam loved Dean, and didn’t want to hurt him, but Dean didn’t really understand his need for a different life. If it came down to it, Dean would side with Dad. Unable to stand the silence any longer, Sam stopped packing and bent down to Evy’s eye level. He grabbed her chin gently and made her look at him.

“Talk to me.” Sam said. Though it was phrased like a command, Sam’s voice was soft and gentle.

A clearly brokenhearted Evy responded in almost a whisper, “Do you have to leave?”

            Evy’s voice hit Sam like a truck. She was terrified. The tears started to fall again, and Sam tried to wipe them away from her face as he talked.

“Oh, Cricket. We talked about this. I have to go.”  Sam told her.

            Evy started crying again, harder, and she reached out and wrapped her arms around Sam’s neck. Sam picked her up and put her in his lap, sitting on the edge of the bed with her. He rocked her, shushing her and rubbing her back to calm her, much as he had done when she was an infant. Though Evy calmed down a little, she was still on edge and highly upset. Sam wiped her face again, brushing tears away with the back of his thumb. When she had finally stopped crying completely, Sam asked her,

“Hey, do you know how much I love you?”

For the first time in two days, Evy smiled. She nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“Yeah? How much?” Sam asked her, smiling.

“To the moon and back.”

            Evy’s small and innocent answer made Sam laugh. Sam had told her that multiple times a day, every day, since she was old enough to recognize him and this was the first time she had ever answered him.

“That’s right, kiddo. To the moon and back.” Sam brushed back a stray hair on her head. “And I promise, I’ll call while I’m on the road and the second I’m settled in at Stanford. I’ll try and write you too. And you can call me every night if you want. This changes nothing, Cricket. I’m still your brother and I still love you more than anything else in the whole world. Okay?”

            Evy said nothing, just grabbed Sam’s jacket and buried herself deeper into it. Sam sighed and looked at the clock on the wall. He realized that if he sat here much longer, holding a crying Evy, he might never be able to leave. Sam picked her up and put her back down gently, then picked up his bags and headed for the front door. Evy was following behind him, dragging Squish with her. When they reached the kitchen Sam put his bags down, and shared a short, brief goodbye with John and Dean.

“Bye, guys.”

            John said nothing, and Dean just waved briefly at him. Sam turned back to Evy, who was waiting underneath him holding onto his leg. Sam picked her up again and told her sincerely,

“I love you, Cricket.”

Evy then asked Sam a question that made his heart stop for a moment. “Will I ever see you again?”

            Though this thought had not occurred to Sam, he realized that with John’s iron fist on the family, and Dean’s own attitude towards him at the moment, there was a real possibility that he might not be able to. Sam gave John an imploring look. Though John didn’t look up, he seemed to sense what Sam wanted to say. John shocked everyone with what he said next.

“You’ll see him again, little one. I promise.”

            Sam felt Evy relax in his arms. She started wiggling to get down, so Sam set her back on the floor. With a quick “Wait here, Sammy”, she turned and ran back down the hall. Sam turned to John, grateful at his father’s unexpected show of generosity.

“Thank you, dad.”

John never looked up from what he was working on. “I’m not going to punish her for something that’s entirely your doing, Sam.”

Sam’s heart dropped. He knew it was too good to be true. “So that was just to get her to stop crying for the moment. You’re gonna keep her from me.”

John finally looked up from the table. “That’s entirely up to you, Sam. You want to see her, you’re gonna have to make the effort.”

            Before Sam could respond, Evy came running back into the room. She handed Sam a folded piece of paper, which he opened and examined. It was a crayon drawing with two stick figures, a larger one and a smaller one. The larger one was labeled ‘Sammy’ and the little one was labeled ‘Evy’. At the bottom was a message of ‘Love you Sammy’. Sam fought back tears of his own now. He had never been apart from Evy longer than a day. How was he going to do this? Would she be okay? Smiling to hide his worry, Sam told her,

“It’s beautiful. Just like you.” And with that, Sam got his first genuine smile from her in day. He decided to end on a high note. “Give me the absolute biggest hug you can.”

Evy happily obliged, grabbing Sam’s middle and squeezing as hard as she could.

“You’re gonna miss your bus, Sammy.”

            Sam fought the urge to tell John to go screw himself, not wanting to mess up the opportunity to see Evy that John had given him. Evy let him go, and Sam bent down to kiss her forehead one more time.

“I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”

            Evy nodded and smiled. She gave him a whispered “Okay, Sammy”, and Sam finally started walking towards the front door. He was doing it. He was really leaving; leaving behind everything, everything about the life he hated, including the person he loved the most.

“Sammy?”

            Damn it, Sammy thought. He’d been so close. Hoping that she wasn’t crying again, because he doubted that he’d be able to leave if she was, Sam turned back around.

“Yeah, sweetie?”

Evy gave him a sweet smile. “I love you, too.”

Relieved, Sam smiled, blew her a kiss, and walked out the front door.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

            Sam paced back and forth outside the small Greyhound station, unable to stand still without bouncing on the balls of his feet. Evy was on her way, and was due any minute. Evy was now nine years old, and it had been nearly five months since Sam had seen her. He had seen her for three days at Christmas time, but not since. Evy hadn’t cried during that visit, a relief for Sam, but she had refused to let him go and clung to him tightly. When it had come time for Sam to leave, they had shared a hug, and Sam had come back to Stanford with a smile on his face.

            An even bigger surprise had come a few months later, at the end of April. Evy had called Sam one night after he’d gotten out of class, begging to come and stay with him for the summer. Sam had desperately wanted to say yes, but told Evy that she had to talk to dad. Sam had been sure he hadn’t heard her correctly when she claimed that it had been John’s idea. After checking the claim with John, Sam had told Evy to pack her bags. She was coming to California.

“Yay!”

            The excited squeal from Evy had brought a smile to Sam, and he felt happier than he had all year. But then the worrying had started. How was he going to do this? Would the university even allow Sam to keep Evy on campus? Thankfully, the answer to the second question had been yes, though he would have to move into the family dorms for the summer. Sam had spent most of the last two weeks studying for his exams and moving out of his own dorm. Now that it was time, all Sam could think about was seeing Evy again.

            Sam saw the ticket agent waving him over. He made his way to the ticket counter. The agent was an older woman in her sixties, and had patiently put up with Sam asking five times in the last half hour where Evy’s bus was. When he got to the counter, she was hanging  up the phone and had a smile on her face.

“I just heard from the dispatcher, sweetheart. That bus just left it’s last stop before here. It’ll be here in about fifteen minutes.”

Sam broke into a wide grin. “Thank you.” he told her. He ran his hands through his hair. “Thank you.” he said again.

The ticket lady laughed. “You’re welcome, honey. Let me guess. You’re waiting for your…” After a dramatic pause she guessed, “…girlfriend?”

It was Sam’s turn to laugh. “Not quite. She did steal my heart though. I’m waiting on my little sister.”

The ticket lady was surprised. “Wow. How long is she staying with you?”

“All summer.” Sam said. “Until the middle of August.”

“That’s great.” She said, smiling. She held out her hand to Sam. “I’m Barbie.”

“Sam.” Sam responded, shaking her hand. “Thanks again for putting up with me.”

Barbie laughed. “Sweetie, let me tell you something. I’ve been doing this job at this counter for twenty-five years. I can spot someone waiting for someone they love a mile away. It’s my favorite part of my job.”

“I bet.” Sam said.

“How old is your sister?” Barbie asked suddenly.

“Nine.” Sam answered, eyebrows raised at the unexpected question.

“Hmm.” Barbie said, brow furrowed as she seemed to be thinking about something. She reached behind the counter. “She might be a little old for these, but why don’t you give them to her?”

            Barbie handed Sam a small plastic Greyhound bus, and a stuffed black bear wearing the uniform of a Greyhound driver. Sam smiled; Evy didn’t have a lot that was just hers. A lot of her toys were hand-me-downs from Sam and Dean. A good portion of her clothes had been too. Sam had, more than once, used his own cash, whenever and wherever he was able to get it, to get Evy some small toy or book that was just for her. Evy treasured everything that Sam had ever given her.

“Thank you.” Sam told her. “She’ll love it.”

Barbie was watching the front door and laughing now. “Speaking of…”

“Sammy!”

            Sam heard his name before he saw Evy. When he did spot her, she was running across the nearly empty bus station. She carried a small black duffel bag and a backpack, which she dropped a few feet away from Sam to jump into his arms. Sam picked her up and held her, whispering a breathless, “Oh, I missed you.” Sam helped her pick up her bag; introduced her to Barbie and gave her the toys, which Evy thanked Barbie thoughtfully for; then helped her to the car.

            They drove a few miles to Sam’s favorite diner. As they ate lunch and rode back to the dorm, Evy talked the entire time. She asked Sam question after question about his life at Stanford and in California. Sam took notice, however, that she distinctly avoided talking about life at home. He avoided the temptation to try and force her to talk; they both desperately needed a break, and he had all summer to find out how she was truly doing back home without him.

            A few hours later, Sam was watching the clock again, this time waiting on someone else. When the clock read 6:00, Sam decided to finally tell Evy that he had invited someone over for dinner. Evy was at Sam’s table, writing in her journal. Sam sat in front of her and asked her to listen to him for a minute. He gently closed her journal. He explained to her that he had invited someone else over for dinner. Evy was usually extremely shy, so her rather apprehensive reaction was no surprise to Sam.

“Who’s coming?” she asked quietly.

“A friend of mine. Her name is Jessica.” Sam brushed away a stray piece of Evy’s hair. “She’s really nice. You’ll like her, I promise. And she’s really excited to meet you.”

“Really?” Evy asked, doubtful.

            She wasn’t really worried about whether she would like Jess. She was worried whether Jess would like her, and she told Sam so. Sam had expected this, but acted as though it was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard.

“Are you crazy?” he asked. “Why wouldn’t she like you? You’re smart, you’re cute, you’re funny…” As Sam said that, he tickled her torso lightly, drawing a laugh out of her. “She’ll love you, Cricket.”

            Before Sam could say anything else, there was a knock at the door. Evy watched carefully as Sam answered it. Evy sat at the table quietly, holding the teddy bear that Sam and Barbie had given her at the station earlier. Sam greeted Jessica warmly, taking the bag from her that she had in her hand. He kissed her on the cheek and helped her take off her jacket. They talked for a minute, before Jessica spotted Evy sitting at the table. She approached Evy slowly, as Sam had warned her earlier that Evy was shy.

“Hi.” she said. “I’m Jess.”

“I’m Evy.” Evy answered quietly. Sam was right, Jess did seem to be really nice.

Jessica sighed. “You know, I’m gonna have to kick your brother’s butt. He lied to me.”

“What?” Evy and Sam asked at the same time.

“Yep. He said that you were the cutest kid he’d ever seen. He didn’t tell me you were the cutest kid in the world.” Jess answered.

            Evy blushed and smiled at the compliment. The three of them ate a meager dinner together, spending most of it coming up with a name for Evy’s new bear. Sam had championed Scooter and Jess had suggested Scout. In the end, Evy had ignored both of them and settled on Beanie. Jess had brought Pinocchio, which Sam had hinted to her was Evy’s favorite movie. They had watched it together, Evy snuggled up to Sam on one side, Jess on the other. When the credits were rolling, Sam turned off the movie and declared that it was time for bed.

“’M not sleepy.” Evy weakly protested, yawning as she did so.

Sam laughed. “I can see that.”

Evy yawned again, and realized it was a losing fight. “Okay.” She jumped off the couch and yawned once more, turning to Jess before she did. “Good night, Jess.”

“Good night, sweetie.”

            Evy shocked both Jess and Sam when she hugged Jess around the waist and kissed her on the cheek. Sam told her to go into the bathroom to get a shower and get her PJ’s on. Once they heard the shower running, Sam wrapped both arms around Jess.

“Thank you.” he said gratefully.

“For what?” Jess asked.

“Being you.” Sam replied, kissing her gently. “She loves you.”

“Sam, she’s so cute.” Jess said. “She’s absolutely adorable.”

“Yeah…” Sam said, looking towards the bathroom.

“Why do you look so worried?” Jess asked.

Sam sighed. “I don’t know. She just seems…different. She seems sad, more withdrawn than normal. I wish she’d tell me what’s wrong.”

“Are you sure something is? Are you sure you’re not just finding something to worry about that isn’t there?” Jess asked kindly. “Maybe you should give it a couple days. If she doesn’t get any better, then you can ask her outright.”

Sam decided that Jess was right. Arms still around her middle, he smiled. “You’re right. What would I do without you?”

“You don’t want to find out.” Jess replied. “Wait, what are you planning to do with her while you take your last final tomorrow?”

“I got permission for her to sit in the room with us.”

Jess stared open mouthed at Sam. “Sam. She’s nine. She’ll be bored out of her skull. Why don’t I come back over here and babysit while you take your test?”

“You’d do that?”

“Of course. We can get to know each other better. It’ll be fun.” Jess assured him.

“Okay. Thanks, babe.”

“You’re welcome.” Jess answered. “Now give me a kiss so I can go to bed.”

            Sam happily obliged, pulling her in for a long, passionate kiss. The water in the shower stopped, and Jess turned and left. Evy came out a few minutes later, showered, changed, hair and teeth brushed. Sam had set her up in the small back room of the dorm. It was more like a cupboard, but Sam had fixed it up as much as he could to make it Evy’s own. Evy eagerly climbed into the bed, still clutching the bear from the bus station. Sam pulled the blanket up to her, preparing to tuck her in.

“Hey, Sammy?” 

“Yes, Cricket?”

“What are we gonna do this summer?” Evy asked.

            Sam was surprised, then kicked himself mentally. He’d spent all of the last two weeks preparing for Evy to come, but hadn’t planned a single activity. He thought about telling her the truth, but his big brother instinct took over, so he decided to play it like an adventure.

“Well,” he said as he sat on the edge of her bed, “I have one more exam to take tomorrow. That’s going to take me about two hours. After that, other than working every Thursday night, I am all yours all summer.”

“Where am I gonna go while you take your exam?” Evy asked.

“Jessica’s going to stay over here with you.” Sam explained. “Probably while I’m working too.”

“Is Jess your girlfriend?” Evy asked.

“Yep.” Sam said, and couldn’t help the smirk that came to his face. “What do you think?”

“I like her.” Evy declared. “She’s a lot of fun.”

“Good.” Sam breathed a sigh of relief. He’d known that Evy liked Jess based on her reactions earlier, but it was still good to hear her say it. “She liked you too. A lot. She might be spending a lot of time with us this summer. Is that okay?” Evy nodded.

“Okay.” Sam looked around the small room then realized something. “Hey, where’s Squish?”

            For the first time that day, Evy looked truly sad. She frowned and looked away from Sam towards the wall. She began absentmindedly picking at Beanie’s ears, the way she used to do with Squish’s when she was upset.

“Cricket, what happened?” Sam asked gently.

            Evy relayed the story tearfully, and Sam felt his heart crumbling. A few months earlier, right after Sam had left, John had picked her up early from school. He and Dean had packed up the sparse apartment they were living in at the time and Evy was told they were moving again. They drove a few hours, until John had finally gotten them a room. John had ordered Evy and Dean to bed, but when she’d asked for Squish, John had told her that he didn’t pack him. Evy had begged him to go back and get the well-worn cat, but John had refused, claiming that they needed the room in the Impala and that she was “too old for a stuffed animal anyway”.

            Sam fought the urge to swear loudly. He runs a hand through his hair, trying to collect his thoughts. He was happy to be at Stanford, away from the life of constantly moving and relocating, but a massive, crushing guilt had also been plaguing him. Evy had always been even more sensitive than he was, and he wished that she didn’t have to deal with everything that he went through. Sam saw that Evy was about to cry again. As he’d done so many times before, Sam grabbed her chin and turned it to him gently.

“Talk to me.” he said gently.

Evy sniffed. “He was my only friend other than you.”

Sam wrapped Evy in a hug, and she buried her head in his jacket. “You’re here with me now. We’re gonna have a great summer, okay?”

Evy nodded. “M’kay.” she said, her voice muffled by his shirt.

“Alright, kiddo. Time to go to sleep.”

            Evy let go of Sam, laid down and took Beanie again. Sam tucked her back in. He tickled her a little to make her smile, then kissed her forehead and stood up.

“Good night, Cricket. I love you.”

“Love you too, Bobo.”

            Sam laughed at “Bobo”. She only called him that when they were alone. Sam turned off the small lamp next to the bed. Evy had already closed her eyes, so Sam tiptoed out of the room. Standing in the doorway, Sam turned around to face her again. He smiled; he hadn’t realized how much he missed her until she was back with him.

“I’ve got you, Cricket.” he whispered.

            Sam walked into the dorm room, calling for Evy and Jess. His last final had been easier than expected, and he was in a great mood. He had his mail in his hand, and searches through it, calling Evy and Jess again. Just when he was about to give up, he spotted a note on the fridge with his name.

Took the soccer ball and took Evy to the Quad. It’s too pretty a day to be inside. –Jess

            Sam smiled and headed outside. Evy was running around the quad, kicking the ball around, then running to try and catch it. Jess was sitting on a bench, watching her and holding Beanie in her lap. Sam snuck up behind Jess and whispered in her ear.

“Boo.”

Jess jumped. “Sam!” she said, pretending to be annoyed.

“Hey.” Sam greeted her. “How’d it go today?”

“It went great.” Jess said. “We had a blast.”

“Oh, yeah?” Sam said. “What’d you do?”

Jess’s wicked grin worried Sam a little. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” Sam laughed, and took another look at Evy. But Jess turned serious. “She’s a great kid, Sam. But she doesn’t seem to know what to do when someone’s paying attention to her.”

Sam sighed. “Yeah. I don’t think she’s used to anyone paying attention to her but me.”

Jess took Sam’s hand, and Sam noticed she was smiling. “You know, you’re more than a good big brother.”

“What do you mean?” Sam asked.

Jess answered ominously, “Look, I know you don’t like taking about your family, and I’m not saying this to make you angry or upset. But it needs to be said, okay?”

Sam, alarmed at her sudden shift in attitude, turned towards her. “Just say it, sweetie.”

“Well, the best way I can put it is this. I’ve always believed in the saying that ‘the first man a girl falls in love with is her daddy’. But I think, in her case, it’s her brother. Sam, you’re the best thing that ever happened to her.”

            Sam was stunned by Jess’s compliment. He pretended to blow it off with a wave of his hand and a smile, but the truth was he took it to heart. It felt amazing to have someone acknowledge what he’d done for Evy, even if it wasn’t John or Dean like he wanted. Before Jess could respond, Evy finally noticed Sam and ran over to him.

            Over the course of the next few weeks, Evy and Sam did have a wonderful summer. Sam spent most of his time with Evy, the only exception being when he worked Thursday nights at the student center desk. Jess babysat then, and over the course of the summer, the two of them became very close. At one point, Jess confessed to Evy that she’d always wanted a little sister. Evy had told her, quite seriously, that if Jess would be her big sister, she would be her little sister. Most importantly, Evy was, for the first time since Sam left for Stanford, completely at peace.

            But everything good eventually comes to an end, and on August first, Sam informed Evy that it was almost time for her to go home. Though she didn’t fight him, Sam could tell she was disappointed. He surprised her when he told her that they’d be driving back together. Evy had assumed that Sam wouldn’t want to see John or Dean, so she’d be taking the bus back to her father and older brother. It was a three day trip, and Sam promised he was planning to take his time getting back.  Evy cheered up a little, though Sam couldn’t help but wonder if something was still on her mind.

            At a café on the halfway point home, Sam finally found out what was bothering Evy. She had started out the trip cheerful like normal, but had grown increasingly withdrawn and quiet. Evy was picking at a grilled cheese sandwich. Sam used his old tried-and-true method to get her to let him in. He took her hand and told her gently,

“Hey. Talk to me.”

Evy looked back at Sam, but she seemed afraid of something. She took a deep breath and said, “I want to ask you for something.” “Okay. What is it?” Sam asked.

Evy swallowed and looked away, unable to meet his eyes. “I want to come live with you.”

            Sam was speechless. His first instinct was to turn her down, as John would almost certainly never allow it. But Sam also realized that, as much as she loved him, Evy loved John and Dean too, and wouldn’t want to hurt them by leaving without a very good reason. Was something going on that Sam didn’t know about?

“Why do you want to come live with me, Cricket?”

Evy tried to get away with a simple explanation. “Because I miss you.”

“Well, I miss you too, Cricket.” Sam replied. “But I can’t really keep you. Is something else going on?”

            Evy was near tears but, finally, after two months of trying to get her to talk about what was going on at home, Sam got the full story. Apparently, after her ninth birthday, John had decided that Evy was old enough to be left alone at home. With Dean and John hunting more often, she was spending the majority of her time by herself. No matter how many times she had tried to explain to John that she hated being alone, or begged to just go to Bobby’s or pastor Jim’s, John just said no. He would leave her at home alone, only calling to make sure that she was home when she was supposed to be.

“I just don’t want to be alone anymore.” Evy said earnestly.

            Sam took a few moments before answering. He remembered all too well the lonely feeling he had growing up when Dad and Dean would leave him to go on a hunt. But that hadn’t happened often, and only once Sam and Dean were older. Evy was the only child at home now, and it looked like John was just pushing her aside when he left for a hunt. But would Sam be able to take care of her at Stanford permanently? Watching Evy’s face removed all doubt of what he needed to do. She was lonely, desperately lonely, and just wanted someone to care for her. She deserved that, and much more. Sam took her hand in his.

“I’ll talk to Dad and Dean, honey. I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll talk to them when I drop you off.”

            Evy finally smiled, and they spent the rest of the ride in relatively good spirits. But Sam, in the back of his mind, was secretly dreading the conversation with John. When they finally pulled up to the house the following afternoon, John was out front waiting for them. Evy, despite the conversation the day before, was excited to see him. She jumped out of Sam’s car before he even turned it off, running to John and wrapping her arms around his middle.

“Hey, little one, I missed you.” John said.

“Hi, Daddy. I missed you too.”

“Dean’s inside waiting for you. Why don’t you go see him?” John suggested.

“Okay.” Evy let go of John and turned back to Sam, who was leaning against the car.

“I’ll be in in a minute.”

            Evy relaxed, running inside to go meet Dean. John turned back to Sam and thanked him for keeping Evy for the summer. He explained that he had been on one hunt and it was just easier keeping her in one place. Sam bit back a retort, and asked John if he could come in and talk to him and Dean about something. John, thinking that Sam wanted to try and reconcile, readily agreed. Evy was sitting at the kitchen table in Dean’s lap, telling him about the summer she’d

had with Sammy. She immediately stopped talking when John and Sam entered the room. John stood at the other end of the table, opposite Dean and Evy, while Sam waited next to the refrigerator. After a long, awkward silence, John asked the both of them why they had long faces. Evy, bravely in Sam’s mind, spoke up first.

“I want to go live with Sammy.”

            John’s pleasant demeanor at seeing Evy again immediately dropped. He looked to Sam and Evy in turn, and Sam started to get worried. Dean instinctively put a protective hand on Evy’s shoulder.

“You what?” John asked angrily, his voice rising steadily.

Evy told him again in a small, frightened squeak, “I wanna go live with Sammy.”

John rounded on Sam. “Did you give her the idea for this?”

“No, Dad, she asked me on the way back here. I had no idea before she asked me. I told her she had to talk to you.” Sam answered.

            John said nothing at first. He seemed angry beyond reason, and even Dean was worried. He pulled Evy closer to him, almost as if to protect her. Though he had never thought he’d have to protect her from John. Dean surprised everyone with what he had to say next.

“It might not be a bad idea, Dad.”

John now rounded on Dean. “And what is that supposed to mean?”

Evy shrunk back even more against Dean, who continued to explain. “She hates being left alone, Dad. Despite how we feel about Sammy leaving, he’ll look out for her. It’ll be easier on her and us…”

“NO!” John suddenly shouted. Evy let out a terrified squeak, and John again turned to Sam. “You broke up this family. Now you’re trying to take another piece of it. The answer is no. It’s time for you to go.” He now focused his attention on Evy. “Evelyn, say goodbye to your brother and go to your room.”

            Evy didn’t move. She couldn’t. She just continued to sit there on Dean’s lap, a completely crushed and devastated look on her face. Sam realized that if he didn’t act fast, there was a good chance that he may never see Evy again. Evy climbed down off of Dean’s lap and started to come to Sam. Before she hugged him, Sam stopped her. He crouched down so that he was at eye level, pulled his car keys out of his pocket, and handed them to her.

“Go back to my car.” Sam told her. “Look in the glove box. There’s a yellow envelope in there I want you to bring to me. Okay?”

            Evy nodded and ran back out to the car. A few seconds later, she was back, and handed the envelope to Sam. Sam thanked her, and told her to go back out to the car, promising to follow her out in a few minutes. Evy seemed unsure, as John was still looking angry. Sam faked a smile and promised her that “It’ll be okay, Cricket.” Evy decided to trust him and walked out. Sam wished that he believed what he told her himself. John, who had been standing silently, amazed at the defiance being shown by both of them, had said nothing since telling Evy to go to her room. That shocked silence wore off the second that they heard Evy shut the front door.

“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” John asked, almost in a whisper.

            Sam took a deep breath and closed his eyes to gather his courage. He had always been slightly afraid of his father, but he knew he had to stand up to him now. The possible consequences to Evy if he didn’t were too much for Sam to consider.

“Dad, these are guardianship papers. If you don’t sign them and let me take Evy tonight, I’m calling CPS.”

            Complete silence fell. Dean, who had been somewhat on Sam’s side, was now as angry as his father. He had never imagined that Sam would try to hurt his father this way, no matter how bad their relationship might be. All three of them knew what would happen if Sam called CPS. Evy would be lost, possibly to all of them, likely forever. There was a better than average shot that John would go to jail. John realized that he was about to lose this argument, but he did not want to give up easily.

“If you leave now, I’ll let you see her whenever you want and forget about this.”

“No, dad.” Sam said. “Sign the papers and let me take Evy, or I’m calling CPS and taking her by force. I won’t tell them what you and Dean do, but I will tell them I know that Evy’s being left alone for days at a time.”

“You had these with you and you honestly expect me to believe you didn’t plan for this?” John asked.

Sam sighed. “Dad, yes, I had a feeling that something like this was going to happen. But I’ve had these since a week after I left for Stanford. Evy didn’t know until now that I had them.”

“And just how do you plan to go to school in California and have Evy taken from me here?” John asked.

“I can take a semester off for a family situation if I need to.” Sam answered simply.

John tried a last ditch effort. “You are nineteen, Sam. You’re still a kid yourself. How exactly do you plan to take care of a nine year old girl?”

“At least I’ll be there to do it, dad.” Sam reminded him harshly.

            John reluctantly realized that Sam was right. He felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. He loved Evy, and she was an amazing kid, but taking care of her had become harder than he’d ever imagined. John turned around, unable to face Sam now. Sam realized that John was hurt. The part of him that was John’s son was sorry for that. But the part of him that was Evy’s brother won out.

“Why are you doing this?” John asked.

“Dad, I swear to you, she asked me for this. But Dean was right. She’s lonely. This isn’t about hurting you, it’s about doing what’s best for her.”

            That seemed to convince John, although it was obvious to Sam that he was far from okay with it. John turned around and quickly signed Sam’s papers, and handed them back to him. Sam wanted to thank John, but didn’t get the chance. John’s next words transformed Sam to the fight from months earlier when he’d left for Stanford.

“I’ll be back in an hour. You and Evy need to be gone by then. Get the rest of her clothes and go.”

            Sam, knowing there was no more fight to be had, simply nodded. Dean got up, glared at Sam, and followed John out the door. When he heard the Impala start up and drive away, Sam walked out behind the two of them. Evy was still standing by Sam’s car, though now there were fresh tears running down her face. Concerned, Sam asked her,

“Hey, Cricket, why are you crying? What’s wrong?”

Evy wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her shirt. “I tried to give Daddy a hug when he came out, but he pushed me away and wouldn’t say anything.” she told Sam. “What happened?”

“Come here.”

            Sam opened the passenger side door, and Evy climbed inside. She turned towards him, still wiping tears away from her face. Sam took over, wiping her tears away with his thumb the best he could. He recapped for her the conversation that he’d had with John. He told her that they had an hour to get her clothes and any other stuff she had, then they had to head back to Stanford. “Daddy hates me now.” Evy said mournfully.

“No!” Sam said firmly. He took both of Evy’s hands. “No. Listen to me. He’s angry at me, not you. When we get back to Stanford, we’ll call him. He’ll be less angry then. Okay?”

            Sam seriously doubted this, but he was desperate to get Evy to calm down so that they could get moving. Evy didn’t respond to Sam, just leaned against the passenger seat and started crying again.

“Hey, Cricket, look at me.” Evy did, her watery eyes hurting Sam’s heart. “I promise you, no matter what, you and I are gonna be okay. It won’t be easy, but I promise, I will never, ever leave you. I love you, okay?”

            Evy nodded her understanding, but she was still crying. Sam picked her up and traded places with her on the passenger seat. He held her for a few minutes, trying to calm her and stem her tears. Checking the clock, Sam realized they only had thirty five minutes left. As much as his heart was breaking for Evy, he wanted to be long gone before John came back. “Come on, kiddo. Let’s start packing.”

            It turned out that Evy’s sparse belongings were easily packed into one more bag. She had a few books, a couple of toys, and a handful of changes of clothes. Sam made a mental note to  save a little from each of his paychecks for the next few weeks and take her to Goodwill when he got the chance. As Sam placed her bag in the back seat, Evy climbed into the car and buckled up, clutching Beanie close to her.

            Sam had planned to drive all night to put as much difference between them and John as possible, but Evy started yawning around fifty miles away. Sam got them a room and fed Evy, and as she was reading through one of the books he had packed, Sam took the cordless phone from the room and sat right outside the door.

            The clock read 7:45, and Sam got to work. To his surprise, if he had a dependent, his scholarship covered both family housing and her using his meal plan. He just had to give a copy of Evy’s guardianship paperwork to the scholarship and housing office. He was also able to pick up another night at the student desk, Saturday nights, which Sam calculated would give him enough for groceries, school supplies, or anything else that Evy might need. He discovered that elementary schools in the area didn’t start for another couple of weeks, meaning that he and Evy would have a few days to get settled into a routine before enrolling her in school. Feeling relieved that his material worries were behind him, at least for the moment, Sam finally called Jess.

“Hey.” Jess answered. “How was your trip?”

Sam laughed humorlessly. “It was, um…eventful.”

Jess immediately picked up that something was wrong. “What happened?”

“Evy’s coming back to Stanford with me.” Sam answered. “Permanently.”

Jess was shocked. “What? Why?”

“Well, basically, I got into a fight with my dad over the way he treats her.” Sam explained.

“What do you mean?” Jess asked.

            Sam recapped Evy’s request, the argument with John, and the phone calls he’d made after getting back to the motel. Jess said nothing for a moment, and Sam was worried she was upset. Jess asked whether Evy was alright. Realizing that he hadn’t checked on her, Sam opened the motel door and looked in. Evy was still laying on the bed, though her back was now turned to the door; Sam guessed that she was sleeping.

“How’s she doing?” Jess finally asked.

Sam closed the motel room door quietly before answering. “She’s hurt, but she wanted this. I think she’s relieved.” Sam ran a hand through his hair. “You’ve been kind of quiet. Are you upset I didn’t talk to you first?”

Jess laughed. “No. I get it. She needs you. Actually, I was wondering how you felt about me moving in with you so you have some help.”

Sam was stunned. “Are you sure?” he asked. “That’s a big step. I don’t want you to make a decision like that because you feel like you have to.”

“Well, you’ll be happy to know then, that I’ve been thinking about this since that first night that the three of us spent together.” Jess said.

Sam was smiling for the first time that day. “I love you. Thank you.” he said.

            They talked a few more minutes, ended their conversation, and Sam stayed outside for a moment. For the first time, he started to think that maybe he might just be able to do this. Sam headed back inside, hung up the phone, and checked on Evy. She was indeed sleeping, her breaths long and slow. Sam took the book from her gently, marked her page for her, and set it on the nightstand. He gently pulled her shoes off her feet, deciding against making her wake up to get her PJs on. He’d wake her up thirty minutes earlier than he’d planned so that she could get a shower and get dressed. He placed Beanie, whom Evy had put onto a pillow next to her, into Evy’s arms, and pulled the blanket up to Evy’s chest. Sam brushed her hair out of her face and kissed her forehead.

“Good night, Cricket. Sweet dreams.”

            Sam turned out the light next to the bed, climbed into his own, and was soon sleeping just as peacefully as Evy.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

Fluff Break #1

“No. My Sammy.”

            Eighteen month old Evy grabbed her brother’s arm again, desperate to protect Sammy from Dean, who threatened to take Sammy from her. Sammy sighed in frustration. He was trying to brush Evy’s hair, but Dean was determined to rile her up and make it impossible. Dean laughed, and tried again to wrap his arms around Sammy’s neck. Evy giggled, pushing Dean’s hand away again.
“He’s my brother too!” Dean protested.

“No. My Sammy.” Evy stubbornly repeated, wrapping both arms around Sammy’s neck to prevent Dean from getting Sammy.

            Sam gave up brushing Evy’s hair. Evy loved Sam brushing her hair, so if Dean had not been in the room, she most likely would have been sitting still, maybe giggling, and might have even fallen asleep and taken her afternoon nap. Sam put the hairbrush on the floor next to him, and pulled Evy gently from his neck.

“Tell him, Cricket. What’s my name?”

Evy giggled, looked back towards Dean, and grabbed Sammy’s neck again. “My Sammy.”

Dean sighed, pretending to be defeated. “Alright. You win. Your Sammy.”

            Dean stood up, knowing that Sam needed to get Evy into bed for her nap. Evy surprised him, though, when she put her little toddler arms up in the air and begged him to pick her up. Dean pulled her out of Sam’s lap, and Evy wrapped both arms around Dean’s neck.

“My Deanie.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

Three Years Later

“I don’t know about this, Jess.”

Jess, who was holding a hairpin in her teeth as she did Evy’s hair, asked, “You don’t know about what?” “Going to this party. I’ll be the youngest kid there.”

Jess took the hairpin out and inserted it in her hair. “Honey, you’ve been the youngest kid at the school since you started there. Is something else bothering you?”

Evy sighed. “Yeah. I guess I’m just nervous.” “Evelyn Abigail Winchester, look at me.”

            Evy smiled at Jess’ use of what she called Sam’s “I mean business, young lady” tone. Evy didn’t hear it much, but when she did, she knew to pay attention. Jess grabbed her shoulders and tried her own, as Sam put it, “Listen to me or you’ll regret it” tone.

“First of all, you need to go to this party, because the likelihood of Sam being okay with you doing something like this again when you’re older is slim to none.” Jess said. The mention of Sam being overprotective drew a laugh out of Evy. “Secondly, you will have a good time. There’ll be seventh and eighth graders there, so you’ll meet kids your own age. As long as you try, you’ll make a friend. Just don’t spend all your time standing against the wall, okay?” Evy nodded. “And finally, once you get back, if you promise to tell me all about it when you get back, I’ll tell you all about mine and Sam’s night.”

“Deal.” Evy said. “Thanks, Jess.” “You’re welcome, sweetie.” Jess gave her a quick hug, then turned her around to look in the mirror. “What do you think?”

            Evy was taken aback. Jess had curled her long light brown hair, and helped her dress in a pretty knee-length pink dress and sweater. Evy was smiling. She didn’t get to dress up often, and she looked beautiful. Jess suddenly remembered something.

“You’re missing something. I’ll be right back.”

            Evy watched her leave, and couldn’t help but turn around and watch herself in the mirror. She heard Sam in the kitchen, arguing with Jess about whether or not to go to the Stanford dorm Halloween party that night. Evy laughed; avoiding big social occasions was definitely a Winchester family trait. But Evy had taken a chance coming to live with Sam in the first place, and once Sam had given her permission to attend the Halloween party, she had made up her mind to try it again.

            Evy had been living with Sam and Jess for just over three years now, and she’d been flourishing ever since. When she’d arrived, she’d been starting the fourth grade. Sam had enrolled her in the local elementary school, but two weeks later, Sam had been called in for a parent teacher conference. The principal had recommended that Evy take an aptitude test. The results had blown everyone away, Evy included. She’d tested on the level of a tenth grader. Evy had always found school to be ridiculously easy, and now it made sense why. With the principal’s encouragement, Evy had been able to enroll at the local private school as a tenth grader with a full scholarship. School was finally something that Evy looked forward to, something that challenged and intrigued her. Now, at age twelve, she was two months into her senior year of high school. But that came with a major disadvantage. Evy was the youngest child in her grade. It often made her feel left out, and made it hard for her to make any friends that she might want to see outside of school. Sam and Jess had tried to find activities with kids her own age for her to participate in, but it didn’t always turn out the way they wanted. Right now, though, Evy felt like tonight would be different. Before she could think on it any more, Jess came back in.

“This will be perfect.” Jess said, smiling.

            Before Evy knew it, Jess was putting an old pearl necklace around Evy’s neck. Evy was shocked; this necklace had belonged to Jess’s grandmother, and Evy had only seen her wear it twice.

“Jess…” Evy started, but was cut off.

“Don’t you dare tell me you can’t.” Jess started. “My grandma would’ve wanted this. She would have loved you. She wouldn’t have wanted this old thing to sit in the closet collecting dust.”

            Evy’s eyes sparkled with tears. Even though she’d now lived with Jess for years, it was still an unfamiliar feeling at times when someone other than Sam paid her any attention. Evy wanted to say ‘thank you’, but found herself unable to speak. Instead she grabbed Jess around the waist.

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Jess said.

“Evy!” Sam’s voice suddenly broke up Evy and Jess’s bonding moment. “Time to go!”

“Let’s get out there.” Jess said, and Evy followed her into the main room with Sam.

            Sam was in the living room chatting with Mrs. Jackson, her school principal and fellow parent at the school. Even though the party was at Evy’s school, and not at one of her classmate’s houses, Sam had only allowed her to go without him and/or Jess chaperoning when he’d cleared the details with Mrs. Jackson. Mrs. Jackson, who had been dealing with Sam’s overprotectiveness since Evy had first arrived at the school, had offered to take her to the party, and, unknown to Evy, offered to “keep an eye on her myself”. Sam was chuckling at something Mrs. Jackson was saying when Evy walked in. Sam, who had not been allowed to see Evy in the hour and a half that Jess had been working on her, suddenly stopped and stared.

“Wow.” he said under his breath.

“Well?” Evy asked, hoping that was a good and not a bad “wow”.

Sam seemed to get a hold of himself.  “You look great, honey.” Sam walked to her and kissed her hand. “Go have fun.”

            Evy blushed at the compliment from Sam, and even more when Mrs. Jackson complimented her too. She said goodbye to Sam and Jess, and Sam watched the door long after it had closed. Jess tapped him on the shoulder.

“I do good work, huh?” she asked with a grin.

“You do.” Sam said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

“Then why do you look so sad?” Jess asked.

Sam sighed. He knew it was silly, but he couldn’t help it. “Because she’s not a baby anymore.”

Jess wrapped her arms around him, and Sam closed his around her. “You’re gonna be a great dad one day.”

Sam’s mischevious smirk made Jess have to bite back a laugh. “You know, Evy’ll be gone for a few hours. We could go practice…”

“Nice try.” Jess said, uncurling herself from Sam, unsure if she’d be able to resist him much longer. “But I convinced her to go, you’re going too. Now suck it up and go get ready.”

Sam laughed, defeated. “Yes, mam.”

            After two more rounds of “Do I have to go?” and two frustrated answers of “Yes, Sam” from Jess, they were on the way to their own party. Sam and Evy both had a good time, and both were later thanking Jess for making them go. The three of them stayed up late talking, until Sam realized with a start that it was 11:30. He sent Evy to bed, and within a half hour he and Jess were asleep as well.

            A few hours later, Sam was woken out of sleep by the sound of someone walking around in the apartment. He felt Jess next to him, so his first thought was that it was Evy going to the bathroom or getting some water. He was turning over to go back to sleep when an alarming thought struck him. Those footsteps were too heavy to be Evy. Evy’s footsteps were light and quick. These seemed to belong to someone much bigger. With barely suppressed panic, Sam grabbed the baseball bat he kept under the bed and crept in the direction of the footsteps.

            Before Sam could spot the intruder, he felt himself knocked to the ground. He wrestled his attacker for a few seconds, then realized with a start that it wasn’t a stranger at all.

“Dean?”

Dean laughed. “Hey, little brother.” “You scared the crap out of me!” Sam protested.

“That’s because you’re out of practice.” Dean said.

Sam effortlessly flipped Dean over.

“Guess not.” Dean said.

“Sam?”

Damn it. Sam cursed to himself. Jess was awake.

            As Sam introduced Jess to Dean, Evy was stirred awake by the sound of voices in the other room. She recognized the voices of Jess and Sam, but there was a third she didn’t recognize. It sounded familiar, but she couldn’t place it right away. Sam sounded annoyed, but not alarmed, so Evy climbed out of bed to see what was going on. When she finally saw who the strange voice belonged to, Evy was stunned.

“Dean?”

            The sight of her other big brother was enough to make Evy wonder if she was dreaming. She had talked to Dean once a week since she’d moved in with Sam, but she had not seen him in person since that night in the kitchen over three years ago. Evy was too stunned to move. Dean felt the same as Evy. He had talked to her, but had not seen her. She had grown almost a foot, and looked stunningly like her mother. Dean cringed slightly as he thought of Evy’s mother, Missy, a caring, loving woman that John had dated briefly the year before Evy was born. It was with Missy that Dean and Sam had gotten their first taste of a real family life. Dean had been thirteen at the time, Sam nine. Missy had taken care of Dean and Sam while John hunted, and made their lives as normal as they’d ever been up until that point. Missy had died from complications after Evy’s birth, and Dean missed her at times almost as much as he did his own mother. Dean finally smiled.

“Hey, baby girl.”

            Evy’s trance was broken, and she walked across the room to Dean. They shared a hug, and for the first time in years, Evy felt complete. It was only when she let Dean go and the awkward silence resumed that Evy realized there was something terribly wrong. She then realized someone was missing.

“Dean, where’s Dad?”

Dean, ever the overprotective brother, tried to hide from Evy that something was wrong. “Dad’s fine, sweetie. I came to talk to Sam about something.”

“You came all the way to California after three years just to talk to Sam about something?” Evy asked suspiciously, raising an eyebrow in a way that creepily reminded Dean of his father.

“Uh, yeah.” Dean said, looking to Sam unsuccessfully for some help. “Excuse us, ladies.”

“No, Dean.” Sam answered, putting an arm around Jess. “Anything you have to tell me can be said in front of Jess and Evy.”

Dean sighed in frustration. “Fine. Dad hasn’t been home in a few days.”

Sam tensed a little, but otherwise showed no sign of being worried. “So, he’s working overtime on a Miller Time shift. He’ll be in eventually.”

“He’s on a hunting trip,” Dean said, frustrated, “and he hasn’t been home in a few days.”

            Evy didn’t know what to say. John had gone on hunting trips and not checked in before. It had not been at all uncommon for him to not call for days at a time. But if Dean had come all this way, after this long, looking for help in searching out Dad, something really must be wrong. Sam asked Jess to excuse him and headed into the hall with Dean. Evy started to follow too, but was stopped by Sam before even reaching the door.

“Stay in here with Jess.” Sam said.

“Sam, come on.” Evy protested. “He’s my dad too.” “I know that Cricket, but…” Sam stopped, realizing that he didn’t really have a good reason to exclude her. “…Jess is scared.” he tried weakly.

“Don’t put me in this!” Jess called from the other side of the room.

            Sam shot her a can you please help me out kind of look, but Jess just shook her head. Jess usually followed Sam’s lead when dealing with Evy, but if she thought he was being unfair, or babying Evy for no good reason, she never failed to voice her opinion. Evy crossed her arms across her chest, a smug told you so look on her face.

“Fine.” Sam said, defeated. “Let’s go.”

            Evy followed Sam and Dean into the hallway, listening to their conversation about John. Evy was starting to wish that she had done what Sam said and just stayed inside with Jess. Dean hadn’t seen John in days, and John wasn’t responding to any texts or phone calls. Listening to Sam and Dean drudged up feelings that Evy had long since thought buried. Feelings of abandonment, of wondering whether she was good enough, of wondering whether or not John cared about her. Before she could bury herself too deep in her own thoughts though, Sam had grabbed her arm.

“Hey, Cricket? Did you hear a word I just said?”

“Um, no.” Evy admitted. “Sorry.”

Sam sighed. “Come on.” Sam led her back to the apartment, while Dean waited by the Impala. “I said, Dean and I are going to look for Dad.”

“Okay. When do we leave?” Evy asked.

            Sam stopped cold right outside the door of the apartment. He bent down and faced Evy, his face full of regret. He knew she would hate what he was about to say, but there was no way he would allow her to do this.

“No. You’re not coming.” he told her firmly. “You’re gonna stay here with Jess.”

Didn’t we just have this discussion? Evy couldn’t help but think. “Sam…”

“NO!” Sam almost shouted, and immediately regretted it. It was incredibly early, he was tired, and he was worried. “Evy, listen to me. We don’t know where Dad is, what he’s doing, or why he hasn’t been in touch with Dean. I need to know that you’re here so I’m not worrying about you too.”

            Evy normally didn’t fight Sam on much of anything, but she felt Sam was babying her here. As conflicted as her relationship with John was, he was still her father and she still loved him. For Sam to keep her in the apartment when he and Dean got to hunt for John was completely unfair. Evy thought briefly about talking to Jess, believing she could get Sam to change his mind. Sam seemed to be able to tell what she was thinking.

“Don’t even think about talking to Jess.” Sam said firmly. “She won’t get me to change my mind. You’re staying here.”

Evy made a face, crossed her arms again, and looked away from Sam.

“Hey.” Sam said, taking Evy’s chin in his hand and turning her face towards him. “I don’t want you to tell Jess anything about what might really be going on with Dad.” “I wouldn’t do that.” Evy said.

            Evy was angry, something so foreign to her normally sweet, loving disposition that Sam had to fight the need to apologize. He had to keep her safe, and bringing her along when they didn’t know what to expect was not the way to do it. Evy was still refusing to look at him, and asked if she could go say goodbye to Dean. Sam gave her permission, reminding her before she left not to ask Dean if she could go either. Evy stalked off back towards the Impala.

            Sam walked into the apartment and started to explain to Jess what was going on while he packed a bag. Jess was skeptical, wondering why after having no contact with his father for so long Sam was suddenly so ready to leave and go look for him. Before Sam could answer her objection, Evy came back inside. She shut the door and walked back towards her room, not looking at either Sam or Jess. Jess, not used to anywhere near that kind of behavior from Evy, turned to Sam.

“What’s wrong with her?” she asked, concerned.

Sam sighed. “She wants to go with me and Dean. I told her no.”

“Why?” Jess asked. “He’s her father too.”

Sam was annoyed now. “I know that, Jess!” he said as he put a shirt into the bag. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. Look, I don’t want her going because I don’t know if Dad’s okay. If me and Dean get up to the cabin and find out that he isn’t, I don’t want her there.” Sam expected Jess to continue arguing with him, but she surprised him. “Okay. You’re right.”

Sam, relieved, thanked her. “Please just keep her distracted. But if she wants to talk, I’ve got my cell.”

“Okay.” Jess said. “Are you okay?”

Sam was sealing up the bag and preparing to leave. “I don’t know.” he answered honestly. “We’ll see.”

“Alright.” Jess answered. She looked towards Evy’s room. “Make sure you talk to her before you leave. And don’t come down on her for storming in. She’s hurting too.”

“I know.” Sam said.

            Sam walked to the doorway of Evy’s room, standing there for a moment before going in. Evy was lying on her bed, turned away from him towards the wall. Sam at first thought she was sleeping again, and considered leaving after writing her a note saying to call him when she got up. But then Sam saw her move her arms, as though she was squeezing something. Beanie, Sam thought briefly. She was cuddling Beanie.

“I know you’re not sleeping.” Sam said.

            Evy turned to face him, and Sam saw that she’d started crying. Sam walked inside and sat on the edge of her bed, cursing himself now for agreeing to go with Dean. But he knew that if he didn’t, he would eventually regret it.

“Please let me go.” Evy whispered.

“Oh, Cricket.” Sam said. “No. I’m sorry, it’s too dangerous.”

Evy frowned, but nodded. “Okay.” she said, wiping her eyes.

Her lack of argument struck Sam. “Is something else bothering you? Other than not going?”

Evy was silent for a moment, but finally admitted, “I don’t want you to start hunting again.”

“Hey, listen to me.” Sam said. Evy looked up. “I am not leaving permanently. I am not going to start hunting again. I’m just leaving for the weekend. I’ll be back for my interview on Monday, and you’ll see me when you get home from school.”

“Promise?” Evy asked.

“Promise.” Sam said. “I’m just going to find Dad. But whether we find him or not, I’ll be back. I swear. Okay?”

Evy finally smiled. “Okay. I’m sorry I got mad at you.” “Don’t be sorry, Cricket.” Sam checked the clock next to the bed. It was 4:57am, and Evy had been up since before 4. “Why don’t you go back to bed?”

“I will.” Evy said, yawning. “I love you, Sammy.”

“I love you, too, Cricket. So much.”

            Sam stood up and kissed her forehead, then, even though she had long been too big for this, tucked her back in. As Sam walked out, Evy stopped him at the door.

“Sammy?”

Sam turned back around to face her. “Yeah?”

Evy bit her lip, unsure about what she was about to ask. “If you do find Dad…”

“Yeah?” Sam prompted when she didn’t say anything. “Make him call me?”

Sam nodded. “You got it.”

            Sam watched her turn over and go back to sleep. He went to kiss Jess goodbye, promising to call her when he and Dean stopped that night. Sam headed out towards Dean. He knew this weekend was going to change his life, no matter how it turned out. He just hoped that the change wouldn’t be one that he’d live to regret.

            Sam had been in the Impala with Dean for twelve hours now. They were no closer to finding John than they had been when they’d started, and Sam was really starting to regret leaving Evy and Jess. Today was Saturday, one of the rare Saturdays that he didn’t have to do anything or be anywhere. He had been looking forward to spending some quality time with his “girls”, as he called them, and now he was trekking all over creation with Dean on a search that may very well turn up nothing. As they drove that night, Sam picked up his cell phone and called them. Jess picked up, and Sam talked to her for a few minutes before asking about Evy. Evy took the phone from Jess.

“Hi, Sammy.”

“Hey, Cricket.” Sam said, surprised. “You sound happy. Did you have fun with Jess today?” “Yeah.” Evy said. She talked for a couple minutes about what she and Jess did that day, then asked what was really on her mind. “Did you guys find Dad?”

“No, Cricket. I’m sorry.” When Evy didn’t respond, Sam decided to change the subject. “Did you finish your book report?”

“Sammy, I finished that the night before the party.” Evy answered. “That’s right! Sorry, Cricket, I forgot.” Sam said. “Okay, you got an hour. Start getting ready for bed, okay?”

“Um, Jess and I were going to watch a movie. Can I finish it and go to bed?”

“Which movie?” Sam asked.

“Finding Nemo.” Evy answered.

Sam groaned. “You’ve seen Finding Nemo five thousand times.”

“Please, Sammy?” Evy begged.

“Fine.” Sam answered grudgingly. “If I say no Jess’ll just let you watch it in bed anyway.” A giggle from Jess told Sam that he was right. “It’s 9:30. I want you asleep by twelve.”

“Okay, Sammy. I love you.” “Love you too, Cricket. Good night.” A tap on his shoulder caught Sam’s attention. Dean was pointing at himself and waving. “Dean says hi.”

“Hi, Dean.” Evy replied. “Good night, Sammy.”

“Night, sweetie.” Sam repeated, hanging up the phone.

            Sam hung up the phone with a heavy heart. It was the first time he had talked to Jess and Evy since he and Dean had left, and he missed them terribly. He found himself wondering how John had possibly gone so long without talking to her. As he leaned back in the seat, Sam felt a pair of eyes on him. Dean was watching him closely. “What?” he asked.

“Nothing.” Dean said. “I just didn’t realize how much of a dad you’d become.”

Sam fought to keep his anger in check. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, Sam. It was a compliment…” Dean said, trying to stave off another argument.

A thought occurred to Sam. “Dean, is part of this trip to confront me about what happened with Evy?”

“No!” Dean said vehemently.

“So Dad’s not looking to ream me for taking Evy?” Sam asked again.

“Sam…”” Dean began impatiently. “...I don’t know what dad wants, because again, I haven’t seen him.”

“Does he hate me?”

The question shocked Dean so much that he nearly drove the Impala off the road. “No.” he responded. “Dad doesn’t hate you.”

“Are you sure?” Sam asked, unsure whether to believe him or not.

“Yes.” Dean answered. “In fact, he came around a few weeks after you and Evy left. He realized that it was the best thing for her.”

Now Sam was angry. “He what? If he realized that, why didn’t he ever call us?” Sam’s voice was slowly rising. “Why didn’t he at least try to stay in Evy’s life somehow?”

“He wrote to her…” Dean said, trying weakly to defend John.

“Two postcards and three birthday cards do not constitute a relationship, Dean.” Sam huffed. “She spent the first two weeks she lived with me crying because she thought dad hated her.”

Dean was shocked. “What? Dad doesn’t hate her.” “Well, what else was she supposed to think, Dean!?” Sam asked, temper still rising. “She was a nine year old girl. Not talking to me is one thing, but hurting her like that was low. Really low.”

            Dean wanted to respond, wanted desperately to defend John, but he couldn’t. Sam was right. The truth was that he had been after John constantly in the last few years to at least call Evy, but John had steadfastly refused. Dean could never see why. Sam had been an adult when he left the house. It had been hard, but it had been Sam’s choice, and Dean had made peace with that long ago. Though Dean had never said it, John had driven Evy away. After Sam had left for Stanford, Evy had begged him not to leave her alone. Dean had offered to take her with him or drop her off at Bobby’s or pastor Jim’s before leaving on his own hunts. But John had made him leave her, made him be the one to deal with the tears and the misery of staying alone. All Evy had wanted was a family. And, to Dean’s relief, she’d found it with Sam and Jess.

“You’re right.” Dean admitted. “You’re right. So please, help me find Dad, and I promise you can rip into him all you want.”

            Sam was surprised at Dean’s response, but happy to finally be validated. He nodded and stared out the window for a moment, then turned to Dean with a smile.

“Thanks, Jerk.”

“You’re welcome, bitch.”

            Inside Sam and Jess’s apartment the following night, Jess and Evy sat curled up next to each other on the bed. A bowl of popcorn, half eaten, sat between them. All the lights were out, except for the TV; Jess and Evy were absorbed in an old black and white scary movie that Jess had found while channel surfing. They didn’t even know the name of it, but for the last half hour it had been sucking all their attention away from the world. Neither of them had even talked, which in itself was unusual; had Sam been there, he no doubt would have joked that he needed to do this more often. A jumpscare happened in the movie, and although Evy had her own blanket, she jumped and ended up in Jess’s arms. The popcorn spilled between them, causing them both to laugh. Jess flipped on the light.

“Maybe that’s enough for tonight.” Jess suggested.

“No! I like it.” Evy said, still giggling. “Let’s keep going.”

“Sam will flip out if he finds out.” Jess said.

“I won’t tell if you don’t.” Evy promised.

            Jess opened her mouth to say something else, but the phone rang on the wall behind them. Evy jumped again. “Maybe you’re right.” she said, giggling even harder.

Jess picked up the phone, tickling Evy as she did so. “Hello.” Jess was smiling as she heard Sam’s voice. “Yeah, she’s right here.” Jess handed Evy the phone, but not before covering the mouthpiece and whispering furious instructions to Evy. “DO NOT tell your brother we were watching a scary movie.”

Evy laughed silently, but made a lock and key motion before taking the phone. “Hi, Sammy.” she said, with a barely suppressed giggle.

“What are you laughing at?” Sam asked.

Evy quickly answered, “Jess was making faces at me.”

“Uh-huh.” Sam said, deciding not to press the issue. He didn’t really want to know what they were up to. He bit back a laugh when he heard Jess say in the background “I’ll show you faces.” “So what have you two been up to today?”

Evy gave him a brief recap before asking, “Did you find Daddy?”

Sam told her sadly, “No, we didn’t. I’m sorry, sweetie.”

Evy bit her lip to keep from crying. “Okay.”

“We’ll find him, Cricket.” Sam assured her. “We’ll find him.”

“Okay.” Evy repeated.

“I’m on the way back to Stanford now.” Sam said, faking a brighter tone to try and cheer her up. “I don’t know if I’ll see you before you go to school, but we can go out for ice cream tomorrow night if you want.”

“Sounds great.” Evy answered flatly. “Good night, Sammy.”

“Good night, Cricket. I love you.” Sam said, disappointed. Sam and Jess made a decent living between the two of them, but they were on a tight budget and going out for ice cream was a rare treat.

“Love you.” Evy handed the phone back to Jess, who waited until Evy was in the bathroom with the door shut before saying anything.

“Hey, you.” Jess asked.

“Hey, beautiful.” Sam answered. “How’s she doing?”

“She’s worried. But she’s trying to hide it.” Jess said. “Are you any closer to finding your dad?”

“No.” Sam answered. “We’re not. Dean’s going to keep looking.”

“Sam, your interview’s tomorrow.” Jess said. “I know you’re worried about your dad, but if you miss this…” “I’m not going to miss it. We’re on the way back now. We should be there in about three hours.” Sam said.

“Okay.” Jess said, relieved. “Hurry home. Your girls miss you.”

“I miss you, too. So much.” Sam said. “I love you.”

“Love you more.” Jess said, smirking.

“You win.” Sam said, laughing. “See you soon.”

“Good night, love.”

“Good night.”

            While Jess was hanging up with Sam, Evy stood in the bathroom brushing her teeth. John was in the forefront of her mind. Though she had gotten very limited contact from him in the last three years, Evy wanted to know if he was okay. Even though Evy wasn’t sure whether or not John still cared about her, Evy still cared about him. As she finished brushing her teeth, a vision came to her mind. She didn’t know if it was a memory or just something her mind conjured up, but she found comfort in it. She was three or four, and was crying over something. John picked her up and held her tight to him, rocking her back and forth, telling her over and over again that he loved her and that she would be okay. Whether or not the “memory” was real, it was one of the only times that Evy remembered her and John having any kind of a close moment. A tear came to Evy’s eye, but before it fell, she was shaken out of her thoughts by Jess, who knocked at the door.

“Hey, sweetheart, you okay?” Jess asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll be out in a second.”

            Evy quickly opened the door and walked out, telling Jess good night as she climbed into her bed. She fell asleep quickly, but soon found herself somewhere else. She was in a dark room, and couldn’t see anything else around her. Suddenly she was surrounded by flames on all sides. Evy was screaming, but there was no sound coming out; she knew that there was someone else in the room with her, but she couldn’t see or hear them. She was alone, she was sure that she would die here…

“Evy! Baby, wake up!”

            Suddenly Evy was able to make sound again, but instead of screaming, she found herself gasping for air. She felt a familiar set of arms enclose around her, and realized that it was Jess trying to comfort her. Evy clung to her for a second, afraid that if she let go, she’d be right back in that room again, trapped and fearing for her life. Jess pushed Evy away from her slightly, but kept her at arms reach.

“Are you okay?” Jess asked, concerned.

Evy found that she was hoarse. “I…I had a….” Evy gulped, trying to get her voice back. “I had a bad dream.”

“I’ll say.” Jess said, trying to calm the shaking Evy. “You were screaming. Do you want to talk about it?”

Evy vigorously shook her head. “No. Is Sam home yet?”

“Not yet, sweetie. You only went to bed about forty five minutes ago.” Jess looked at the clock. Sam wouldn’t be home for at least another two hours. Desperate to try something, she decided to attempt something she’d seen Sam do before. “You want to come sleep with me? At least until Sam gets home?”

            Evy suddenly found herself desperate not to be alone, and readily agreed. She followed Jess into the main room, crawling onto the bed on the side Sam usually slept on. Jess climbed in beside her, deeply disturbed. Evy had had nightmares before, but never this bad. She was still shaking slightly from the dream, so Jess reached over and scratched her back, something she’d seen Sam do to calm her down. Evy seemed to relax a little, and Jess wished silently for Sam to hurry up and get home. Evy was grateful for Jess’s attempt at comfort, as little as it actually provided; the dream had deeply disturbed her, and she wanted nothing more than for Sam to get home so she’d feel safe again. But Jess’s hand moving slowly and methodically across her back was soothing, and soon she was falling into a deep sleep.

            Jess’ hand suddenly stiffened against Evy’s back. She clutched a handful of Evy’s shirt, as if she had to keep a hold on her. Evy turned to look at Jess. Once she was flat on her back, Jess started to slide slowly away from her. Evy tried to turn around, but found that she was completely paralyzed. Evy knew there was someone else in the room, even though she couldn’t see them. Jess was sliding up the wall slowly, until finally she landed on the ceiling, her eyes staring down wide in horror. Evy tried to move, but the harder she struggled, the harder her invisible bonds held her down. Eventually, Jess was directly above her, and all that Evy could see was the terrified look on Jess’ face.

            Evy screamed. She screamed as hard as she could, as loud as she could, for as long as she could. She screamed for Sam, screamed for the neighbors, screamed for Jess to please stay awake, but it made no difference. She could hear herself screaming in her head, but no sound was coming out. It was her nightmare in reverse. She could hear herself screaming this time, but no one else could.

            Evy felt tears streaming down her cheeks, and she continued to stare at Jess. Jess was alive for a few minutes, and Evy desperately wanted to tell her at least that she loved her. Whoever, or whatever, it was in the room with them, stayed there until, in a moment that would stay etched in Evy’s memory for the rest of her life, Jess finally died. Even though she was now alone, Evy still couldn’t move. She continued to scream. How long she screamed, she didn’t know, but it felt like days. She screamed long and hard until she passed out.

            Evy was startled awake by the sound of the door opening. She heard Sam calling quietly for Jess, probably hoping not to wake her. Evy tried calling for Sam, but it didn’t work. Evy heard the shower running, so, hoping that everything was just a terrible dream, she kept her eyes shut tight. She felt Sam lean over her to check on her, felt him pull the blanket closer to her, and kiss her forehead. She heard him whisper “I missed you, kid.” Evy wanted desperately to reach out and grab Sam, but she still couldn’t move. She felt Sam lie down on the foot of the bed, probably waiting on Jess to get out of the shower. A few seconds later, the world as she knew it stopped.

“NO!” Sam started screaming. “No! Jess! Jess!!”

            Evy’s paralysis broke as quickly as it had started. Jess was still on the ceiling as she had been before, and was bleeding now. A split second later, flames had engulfed the ceiling. Evy started to scream along with Sam, but felt herself lifted and carried out of the house. She was standing on the street before she realized that it was Dean.

“Evy, stay here. I’m going back for Sam.”

            Without another word, Dean ran back inside and dragged out Sam. Sam was still screaming as the firefighters pulled up to the apartment. He only stopped screaming when he saw Evy sitting on the hood of the Impala with Dean. Dean was attempting to comfort her, but it wasn’t working; Evy was shivering and crying steadily. Sam made his way over to her. Evy grabbed him and held on. A paramedic came over and tried to examine Evy, but she refused to let go of Sam. Sam waved him away and turned to Dean.

“Dean, do you have a blanket in the car? She’s freezing.” Sam asked.

“Yeah.”

            Dean pulled the blanket out and handed it to Sam. The three of them stayed there until early the next morning, when the firefighters and student had long sense left. The three of them stayed on campus for the next week. Dean worried about both of them. They went to Jess’s funeral, and Sam packed up his apartment with the help of Jess’s family. Evy stayed in shock, not talking much and only eating a little. Sam tried coping himself by taking care of Evy, but it didn’t work. Both of them were simply wandering through the days, trying to get through them. Five days after Jess’s death, and two days after her funeral, Sam left with Dean to get some dinner. While they were gone, Evy was lying down, attempting to get some real sleep. Everything that had happened in the apartment was looping over and over in her head. She shook her head hard in a desperate attempt to stop thinking about it, and fell into a fitful sleep.

            Meanwhile, just outside, Sam and Dean had arrived with dinner. Dean parked the car, but Sam asked him to wait before going inside. Dean waited patiently, but it was almost a full minute before Sam spoke.

“We’re not taking Evy to Bobby’s.” Sam said. Dean’s mouth fell open; that was the only full conversation that he and Sam had had all week. Sam continued. “I talked to her school. I can get her schoolwork and she can do it on the road.”

“I don’t know, Sammy.” Dean explained. “We have no idea what we’re going to run into.”

“It’s just as dangerous for us as it is for her.” Sam argued. “I’m not leaving her behind.”

“I’m not taking a twelve year old girl on this trip.” Dean said.

“Too bad.” Sam said. “You’re leaving with both of us, or you’re not leaving with either of us.”

“This isn’t what dad would want.” Dean said.

“I don’t give a damn what dad wants.” Sam declared. “For the last time, I’m doing what’s best for Evy before I worry about what dad wants.”

“Are you sure she can handle this?” Dean asked after a slight pause.

Sam smiled, realizing he was getting through to Dean. “Evy’s a lot stronger than you or Dad give her credit for.”

            Dean sighed, giving in. He really didn’t want to take Evy with them. Not because he didn’t care about her, but because he did. Evy was still a little kid. Dean appreciated that Sam had faith in her, but Evy had left because she had such a hard time with the life of a hunter. Before Dean had a chance to think anything more about it, an ear splitting scream came from inside the apartment. Sam and Dean jumped out of the car and ran inside, Dean with his gun drawn. They found Evy lying on the bed, kicking and screaming, having a nightmare. Dean walked and checked the rest of the apartment while Sam worked on waking up Evy.

“Evy, wake up. Wake up, honey.”

Evy continued to kick in her sleep, narrowly avoiding kicking Sam in the stomach. “EVY!” Sam finally screamed.

            Evy woke up, crying and nearly hyperventilating. She fought Sam at first, until he continued to call her name. When she finally realized that it was him, Evy collapsed, crying and sobbing into Sam’s arms. Sam held her, attempting in vain to comfort her. A frightening thought occurred to Sam. He realized that he had not yet asked Evy about what happened at the apartment. Evy had been asleep when he got home, but had she seen more than he thought? When she had finally calmed down enough to talk, Sam sat her up. Dean brought in a glass of water, which Evy accepted with shaking hands. Sam finally asked her,

“Honey, what happened?”

            Evy grabbed Beanie, one of the few things that Sam had been able to save from the apartment. She kept a hand on Sam’s shirt, and kept repeating over and over again,

“I’m sorry, Sammy. I’m so sorry.”

“Cricket, please talk to me. Sorry for what? What is going on?” Sam said.

“I saw it.” Evy answered tearfully.

“Saw what?” Sam asks, though he had a frightening feeling he already knew.

Evy pulled away from Sam and practically screamed. “I saw what happened to Jess. I wasn’t asleep. I saw all of it.”

            A rush of emotions threatened to overwhelm Sam at that moment. Anger-at the demon, for killing Jess, at Dean, for dragging him back into this life when he’d worked so hard to get out and stay out, at Jess, for leaving him, and at Evy, for not telling him this earlier. Grief, for Jess, for the life he’d worked so hard to build, and for his mother, who Sam missed now more than ever. But when Sam looked at Evy, the only thing he felt was an overwhelming urge to comfort and protect her. For the last three years, his life had revolved around her and Jess. Now that Jess was gone, he realized that if he wanted to get through this, he had to redouble his efforts and focus on Evy.

“I’m so sorry, Sammy. He locked me down on the bed. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk. I tried to call out for somebody, but I couldn’t. I tried to help her, Sammy, I tried so hard…” Evy was starting to hyperventilate again.

Sam grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him. His expression was stern but compassionate and caring. “Listen to me. Okay? This is not your fault. You did everything you could to save Jess. There’s nothing else you could have done. Do you understand me, Cricket?”

Evy nodded. “I miss her so much, Sam.”

            Sam’s heart was broken all over again. Jess had been the closest thing Evy had ever had to a mom, and now she was gone. Jess and Evy had been close, and Sam felt guilty for concentrating on himself all week. Evy wiped away a tear with the sleeve of her pajama shirt. Sam grabbed her and embraced her, holding on to her tightly. “I know, baby. I miss her too.”

            Half an hour later, Evy had stopped crying, and was lying on the bed with her head in Sam’s lap. She was exhausted, but was fighting sleep. Sam stroked her hair, just as he had when she was little, calming her and him at the same time. Sniffling, Evy finally sat up and asked Sam the question that had been bothering her all week. “What happens now?”

Sam sighed. “Well, Dean and I were talking about that. We’re going to search for dad.” he explained. He felt Evy tense up, but he continued on. “We were talking about sending you to Bobby’s.”

“Sam, please don’t…” Evy begged; tears threatened to spill over again. “Relax.” Sam said. “You can stay with us. I talked to your school, they’re going to give me your work for the semester and I’ll mail it back to them.”

“I can go with you guys?” she asked. “We’re not splitting up?”

“No. There’s been enough of that.” Sam said. “There’s are rules, though.”

“Okay.” Evy said. “What rules?”

“You have to keep your grades up. I know you only have a semester and a half, but no senioritis. You can work at a normal pace if you want, and finish in May, but if you work quicker, you’ll be done. We’ll talk about when I get your work from school. Okay?”

Evy nodded. “Okay.” she said quietly.

“I’m serious about this. I’ll give you one warning, but your grades start going down because you’re not doing your work, you go to Bobby’s and stay there at least until you graduate.” Sam warned.

Evy nodded. “Can I help you and Dean?”

            Sam took a long time to answer, and Evy waited patiently. She honestly expected him to say no, and was fine with it if he did. She wanted the three of them to stay together, and right now, that was all that mattered. Which made what Sam said next surprising.

“Until you’re done with school, it comes first.” Sam said. “But yes, Dean and I will start training you. Which brings me to my second rule. Dean’s in charge just as much as I have been for the last three years. He tells you to do something, I expect you to listen to him just like you do me. Okay?”

“Okay.” Evy said.

 Sam sighed. “Are you sure you still want to wait on college?”

Evy nodded. “Eighteen.” she said simply.

“Alright.” Sam said. “I guess that settles it. Any more questions?”

Evy was just as thoughtful with her last question as Sam was with his response. After a few seconds she asked, “Are we gonna be okay?”

“Yes.” Sam said, without hesitation this time. “I can’t promise nothing will happen, but we’ll be fine as long as we stick together.

            Evy smiled for the first time in a week. Sam might be overprotective and, as Jess used to put it, a “worrywart” at times, but there was no doubt whatsoever that Sam loved her. Her relationship with John was less solid, and as much as she loved Dean, he was too willing to stand behind John’s decisions for Evy to rely on him. But Evy took honest comfort in Sam’s words. We’ll be fine as long as we stick together. Evy’s stomach started to rumble loudly, which Dean, who had been listening at the door, took as his cue to come in.

“I have pancakes. They’re getting cold, come on.”

            Evy jumped off the bed and started to follow Dean, before grabbing Sam around the middle. Sam squeezed her as hard as he could.

“I love you, Cricket. I love you so much.”

“Love you too, Sammy.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

            Sam burst through the emergency room door, Dean directly behind him, a very sick Evy squirming in his arms. Earlier in the evening, after leaving Evy in the motel room reading a book while they went out to get some dinner, Sam and Dean had come back to find Evy lying down on the bed with all the lights off. Though they had been gone no more than thirty minutes, Evy had gone from completely healthy to having a high fever, a blinding headache, and, in her words when Sam asked, “everything” hurt.

            Evy heard other voices in the room, but kept her face buried in Sam’s jacket. She felt Sam put her down on an exam table. She whimpered, and kept a tight hold on Sam; Sam held her hand and stayed as close as he could while the doctor and nurse examined Evy. Sam tried to comfort her, but it was in vain. Evy was shaking and scared. There was nothing anyone could do, and it was tearing at Sam’s heart. When the doctor left to admit Evy, Sam bent down at the side of the exam bed.

“You’re going to be okay, Cricket.” he said softly, trying not to hurt her head any more than it already was.

“Did I get attacked by the Shtriga?” she asked. “Am I sick with what the other kids have?”

“It looks like it.” Sam answered.

“But that doesn’t make sense.” Evy objected. “If I am, why am I awake?”

“I don’t know, honey.” Sam answered. “Don’t worry about it right….”

            Before Sam could finish his thought, Evy’s headache suddenly spiked, and she felt as if someone was shoving a rod through her head. She screamed and passed out. Evy landed in a deep coma. Sam refused to leave her bedside, and Dean was checking on her constantly while working on the case. While Dean was out of the room, Sam took advantage of their privacy to talk to her. He felt a deep pit in his stomach from worry, and he was fighting back tears. Sam took a deep breath to steady himself, then took Evy’s hand.

“Hey, Cricket. I know you feel bad, but I need you to fight, okay?” Sam swallowed a painful lump in his throat. “I need you to get better. Fight this. I love you, kiddo. More than anything. So come back, okay?”

            Sam stood up, kissed Evy’s forehead, and looked at her closely for another few moments before leaving to get a cup of coffee. What he didn’t know was that Evy was sitting on the bed listening to him, and that she could hear and see everything that was going on. Evy felt sick just like she had before losing consciousness, but it was bearable now. As Sam talked, Evy had tried to grab his hand, but found that she couldn’t touch him.

“I’m here, Sammy.” she whispered.

            Evy wanted more than anything to reach over and hug Sam, but she resisted. When Sam left to go get coffee, Evy noticed that there was a tear running down his cheek. Though Sam’s visit didn’t surprise her, two other visits later that night did. Sam stayed a little while longer, until Dean came back to the hospital and made him go back to the hotel to get some sleep. Sam refused to go until Dean promised that he wouldn’t leave. Sam left for the motel, saying a quick “Goodnight” and “I love you, Cricket” before he left. As Sam walked out, Evy felt a tear slipping down her cheek. Out of habit more than anything, Evy wanted Sam to stay with her. She was scared and his presence comforted her. But Sam didn’t know that Evy could see and hear him, and she understood he needed his rest. So Evy turned towards Dean, who was now camped out next to her bed.

            Dean looked slightly uncomfortable, but settled into his protective big brother stance. He kept a close on Evy, but was worried about her too. Evy sat on the bed, trying to shove the awkward feeling of sitting next to her own body away, and watched Dean watch her. She smiled. Dean had never been quite sure of how to handle himself around her. Evy had never doubted that Dean loved her, but she was also certain that he saw her as nothing more than a fragile child. Evy was afraid that, with the condition she was in now, he would see her that way forever. Evy checked the clock on the wall. When she remembered the date, she gasped. It was three o’clock in the morning; her thirteenth birthday.

“Happy birthday, kiddo.” Evy was shaken back to reality by the sound of Dean’s voice. “Hell of a way to celebrate, huh?” Evy laughed, but of course Dean didn’t hear her. “I, um, wanted to tell you something. You’ve really impressed me the last few months. I always knew you were smart, smarter than any of us, but I never realized how strong and brave you were.”

Evy was stunned by the compliment, but Dean wasn’t finished. 

“You know, when you were little, I wasn’t sure that hunting was for you. So when you asked Dad about going to live with Sam, I thought it was the best thing for all of us. But we missed you. You brought the light and the laughter to the house, baby girl. And with you gone, me and dad realized we had forgotten that. I’m sorry, sweetie.”

            Dean was near tears now. Evy was crying herself. She knew Dean loved her, but she had never realized how deeply he cared about her too. Dean reached over and held Evy’s hand, brushing stray hairs out of her face. Evy was sweating, so Dean took a washcloth that Sam had left on the nightstand next to the bed, walked over to the sink, and soaked it in cold water. After wringing the excess out, Dean sat on the edge of her bed and pressed the cloth gently to her forehead.

“Good night, kiddo.”

            Dean kissed Evy on the cheek, then got back into the chair next to the bed. He was soon asleep, and Evy attempted to sleep herself. But soon after Dean had fallen asleep, and the hall was all but abandoned, another visitor came to the door. Evy didn’t recognize him at first, as the lights in the room had long since turned out. She knew it wasn’t Sam, as the visitor was too short. Sam had to duck before coming in. He was also older than both Sam and Dean. As he approached the bed, Evy’s breath caught in her throat as recognition dawned on her.

“Daddy?”

            But of course John couldn’t hear her, and just moved closer to the bed. The moonlight shining through the window allowed Evy to get a good look at her father’s face. He looked years older than she remembered. John was standing right next to her, and it was the closest the two of them had been in nearly four years, and Evy wanted to scream to try and get his attention. John didn’t say anything, didn’t move for a few moments, just grabbed her hand and held it. Desperate for some kind of contact, Evy placed her hand on top of his. John made no indication that he felt her touch, and just continued to stare at her as though he wanted to tell her something and couldn’t. After a minute or two, John kissed his middle and index finger, placed it on her forehead, and left.

“Daddy, come back…” Evy said mournfully, but John just continued to move briskly.

“He can’t hear you.”

            Evy screamed. A female voice that she didn’t recognize spoke behind her. She turned to see a woman with jet black hair, wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and a bright green jacket. Evy’s heart was racing from the sudden fright, but one thought couldn’t help but slip out.

“Can you see me?” she asked.

“Yes.” the woman said. “My name is Elizabeth.”

“Are you…Wha…What’s going on?” Evy asked.

“I’m a Reaper.” Elizabeth explained calmly. “I’ve come to take you away.”

            Evy’s heart dropped. She had been afraid of this. She felt as if it was becoming harder and harder to fight, harder and harder to stay awake and hold on. Evy turned and looked back at Dean, keeping Sammy in the back of her mind too. Dean was sleeping soundly and keeping a tight hold on her hand.

“Your brothers will be fine.” Elizabeth tried to comfort Evy, extending a hand to invite Evy to come with her. “But you need to come with me now.”

“No.”

Evy’s refusal was so soft, so whispered that Elizabeth wasn’t sure she heard her correctly. “What?”

“I said no.” Evy told her firmly. “I’m not going with you. Go away and leave me alone.”

            Something extraordinary happened then. Elizabeth started backing away from Evy slowly, though Evy saw she wasn’t backing away by her own choice. She continued to back away, and eventually disappeared entirely. Evy was left stunned. Had she just fought off a Reaper by sheer willpower? She suddenly felt stronger, and got another idea. If she fought off the Reaper that way, could she get back into her body the same way? She decided to see if Dean would leave before trying. If something did go wrong, she didn’t want Dean to be there.

            Evy looked out the window to see the sun coming up, and Sammy coming up the sidewalk. He looked excited, but not in a good way. Sam came in and woke up Dean. She listened as Sam asked whether anything has changed. When Dean told him no, Sam told him that Asher, the son of the woman who owned the motel they were staying in, had been attacked the night before. This seemed to give Dean an idea. Both of them turned to Evy and said goodbye, then left.

            When they had left, Evy realized that she was exhausted. She laid down on the bed, then, remembering that she had to say out loud that she didn’t want to go with Tessa, she spoke to no one in particular.

“I want to wake up.”

            Evy finally fell asleep. When she woke up, she could tell that hours had passed based on the sun going down, although it felt like a mere minute to her. The room was blurry for a moment, then came into focus. Evy was weak and didn’t want to move. Her headache was gone, but she was still tired. She could hear Dean’s voice in the background, talking to a doctor about her condition.

“Doc is she okay? She’s the only kid who hasn’t woken up yet.”

The doctor, one that Evy didn’t recognize, told Dean to stop worrying. “Her fever is almost gone. She was the last one to get sick, so it makes sense that she’d be the last one to wake up. She’ll probably sleep for a couple days. She’s been through a lot, and even though she’s not sick anymore, she still needs time to heal.”

Evy decided to call Dean before the doctor said anymore. “Dean.”

            Dean, startled by Evy’s voice, ran over to her. He instinctively checked her forehead with the back of his hand, and when he found that it was cool, he smiled.

“Hey, kiddo. How you feeling?” he asked.

“Okay.” she answered. She realized that she hadn’t seen Sam yet. “Where’s Sammy?”

“He went to get some coffee.” Dean said. “You want me to go get him?”

            Evy asked Dean what happened with the Shtriga, and he gave her a brief overview, but Evy wasn’t really listening. She had Elizabeth in the back of her mind. She knew that she should tell Dean about her, but decided to hold off. She thought of something else to ask him.

“Hey, Dean?”

“Yeah, kiddo.” Dean said.

“Was Daddy here?”

The question shocked and saddened Dean. “No, sweetie. I’m sorry. Sam and I both tried to call him, but he hasn’t been here.”

            It was hard for Evy to hide her disappointment. Maybe seeing John had just been a fever induced dream. She nodded, turning away from Dean trying to hide the tears she felt prickling on the edge of her eyes. Wiping them away, she attempted to sit up on the bed. Dean assisted her, and by the time she was fully sitting up, she was almost knocked down again. She laughed, but the sound was muffled from the jacket that was shoved in her face.

“Sammy, let me go, you’re squishing me.”

            Sam had come back in the room with two cups of coffee, and when he saw Evy sitting up, he had slammed them down on the tray table next to the bed and scooped her into a tight hug before Evy had even fully taken in that he was there. Sam released her from the hug, but checked her fever again, kissed her forehead, chuckled, then checked her fever one more time. He tried to hug her again, but Evy pushed him away gently.

“Sammy, I’m okay.” she said, still laughing.

“Sorry, Cricket.” Sam said. “Just making sure. You kind of scared us.”

“When can I leave?” Evy asked.

“They’re gonna keep you one more day.” Dean said. “Just for observation.”

“Okay.” Evy answered.

“Hey, Cricket, I’ve got something for you.” Sam said suddenly.

            Evy watched as Sam pulled his backpack out form under her bed. He dug around in it for a minute before handing her an envelope. It was white, with the name Stony Brook High School across it. It was addressed to ‘Family of Evelyn Abigail Winchester’. Evy opened the envelope and reached in to pull out a single piece of paper. Evy mouth opened in surprise, and she covered it with her hand. Where a few moments earlier tears had threatened to fall from frustration, now she could barely hold in her excitement. She glanced over at Sam, who was beaming ear to ear. He had just handed her her high school diploma.

“I’m very proud of you.” Sam said.

“What’s going on?” Dean asked.

            Evy, who was still too in shock to talk, handed Dean her diploma.  Dean, surprised, took it from her and held it in his hands for a moment. He echoed Sam, telling Evy how proud he was of her. But a thought occurred to Dean that dampened his spirts.

“So what’s next?” Dean asked. “Now that you’re done with school?”

Evy sighed and looked up at Sam. “Sam and I talked about that.” she said. “I want to go to college, but I want to wait until I’m eighteen.”

Dean raised an eyebrow and looked over at Sam. “I’m surprised you agreed with that.”

Sam, who was now sitting on the bed next to Evy, nodded. “I didn’t want to at first. I’d rather her go to school now.” Sam looked at Evy for a moment, but she just smiled and shook her head. “But I get it. She’s been the youngest person in her grade for the last three years, and she’s got some more growing up to do.”

            As Sam talked, he brushed her hair away from her face, and Evy leaned into side. As Sam held her for a moment, Dean felt a twinge of both jealousy and regret. He wanted to be that close to Evy, and while they’d been making progress on that in the last few months, they still weren’t quite there. Before Dean could think about it anymore, a loud rumble from Evy’s bed surprised him. Evy blushed.

“Um…” she said.

“Either there’s a bear in here somewhere,” Sam began, “or you’re hungry.”

Evy laughed and scrunched her face at Sam’s joke. Dean was looking at him the same way.

“What?” Sam asked.

“And you say my jokes are bad.” Dean said.

“What are you talking about? Evy laughed.” Sam argued.

Evy was still laughing. “It was pretty bad, Sammy.”

Sam huffed in feigned exasperation. “Fine.” he said.

Dean started to get up. “I’ll go get some real dinner. No hospital food.” he said. “Are you sandwich hungry or pancakes and bacon hungry?”

“I’m pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, everything hungry.” Evy said.

Dean chuckled again. “You got it, kiddo. I’ll be back soon.”

“Wait, Dean.” Evy said, pushing herself up on the bed a little farther. Turning to Sam, she asked, “Sammy, can you get it? I want to talk to Dean about something.”

            Sam and Dean were both taken by surprise. Evy had always been attached to Sam, and very rarely asked for Dean. But Sam agreed, taking the keys from Dean and heading out the door of the hospital with one last hug and kiss for Evy. When he was gone, Dean sat back down beside her.

“What’s up?”

Evy leaned back against the end of the bed and looked at him for a long moment before speaking. “I heard everything you said to me last night.”

“You did?” Dean asked.

Evy nodded. “I love you too, Dean.” Before Dean could respond, she continued. “You know, when I was little, I wasn’t sure whether or not you liked me.”

Dean was stunned. “Kiddo, I love you…” Evy interrupted. “I know you love me, Dean. I’ve never doubted that. But I wasn’t sure whether or not you liked me. Me and Sam were so different from you and dad that I wasn’t sure if you really wanted me around.”

Dean felt a pang of guilt. “I’m sorry, sweetie.” When Evy smiled, Dean reached over and took her hand. “I meant what I said. You’ve really impressed me since you came on the road with me and Sam. The way you’ve picked up on this life like you been doing it forever. I’m just sorry I never saw your potential before.”

Evy squeezed Dean’s hand in appreciation. “I forgive you.” she said. Evy decided to ask Dean about what she had been fearing ever since the search for John began. “Dean, I’m worried that if we find Dad, he’s gonna try and separate us…”

“Not gonna happen.” Dean assured her. “I won’t let him. You’re stuck with us, kiddo.”

“Promise?” she asked.

“Promise.”

            Evy smiled and nodded, deciding to trust Dean. She had been worried that, should they find John and he refused to allow her to be with them on the hunt for the yellow-eyed demon, that Dean would go along with him and it would lead to the family dividing again. But if both Sam and Dean were on her side, she didn’t see how John could possibly send her away. Before she could say anything else, Sam arrived with not only the food, but a cake and a present for her birthday too. The three of them ate dinner together, talking and enjoying themselves for the first time in days. When Evy went to sleep that night, she slept peacefully and dreamlessly.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

Fluff Break #2

“The end.”

            Sam closed the book for the third time in a row. Six month old Evy reached up and tapped it, signaling she wanted him to read it to her again. Sam laughed and put the book to the side, picking her up and sitting her on his lap.

“Time for bed, Bug.”

 Evy scrunched her nose in displeasure, pointing towards the book again.

Sam bit back another laugh. “No. You should have been asleep an hour ago.”

            As if to confirm that Sam was right, Evy yawned and leaned into Sam’s chest. She reached over and grabbed the children’s book Sam had been reading to her. Sam snuggled her for a moment, then lifted her up and put her into the small makeshift crib that she slept in every night. Her actual crib had been left behind at one of their many hotel rooms when John had decided to stop packing it. Sam had been forced to try different things ever since. Evy sometimes slept in the bed with him, but when he could, he made her own space. This time he had taken an old laundry basket and folded blankets into it. Sam laid her down, pulling her blanket over her. He put the book he’d been reading her on one side and Squish, her stuffed cat, on the other side. Sam turned out the lights in the room and kissed her.

“Good night, Bug. I love you.”             Evy cooed in response, offering Sam a smile in return. Sam laughed, adjusting her blankets.

“You are too cute.”

Evy turned to look at the book sitting next to her. “Cricket.” she said loudly and clearly.

            Sam was shocked. Had Evy just spoken her first word? Surely he had heard wrong. He and Dean had been trying to get her to talk for over a month, but Evy had stubbornly refused to say anything. Until now.

“What did you say?” Sam asked.

“Cricket.” Evy said clearly again.

            Sam lifted her out of the basket, laughing, and got off the bed to spin her around in his arms. Evy giggled and hung on to Sam’s shirt, repeating “Cricket” over and over. Sam snuggled her again, before something occurred to him. Where did she get cricket from? It hit Sam in a moment of clarity that made him think Duh, Sam. He picked up the book he’d been reading her. It was a children’s storybook version of Pinocchio, with a picture of Jiminy Cricket on the cover. Evy tapped the book again.

“Cricket.”

“Okay, you win.” Sam said. “One more time.”

            Sam sat back on the bed, Indian style, and put Evy back on his lap. He checked the clock; Dad and Dean wouldn’t be back for another couple of hours. He thought about calling them, telling them about what had just happened, but decided not to. He also decided that when she did eventually speak in front of them, he would act totally surprised. Sam had become Evy’s de facto parent in the months since her birth. Dad was always gone on a hunt, and Dean was usually with him. While he loved Evy more than anything, he sometimes resented always being left behind. This moment, the happiest he’d had in months, Sam decided to keep to himself. Before he started reading again, Sam snuggled Evy one more time.

“I love you, Cricket.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

            Evy sat at the table in the motel room, the voices of Sam, Dean, and John all blending together. John had been with them for a few hours, and already they were arguing. Though Evy had hugged John when she’d seen him, she hadn’t said much to him since. John had been discussing hunting the yellow-eyed demon, and had made an off-handed comment about sending her to Bobby’s while he, Sam, and Dean completed the fight. Evy’s heart had dropped to her stomach. He was doing exactly what she’d been afraid of. But Dean’s response had shocked everyone.

“Stop right there, Dad. Evy’s not going anywhere. She stays with us. You send her away, me and Sam are gone too. You’re on your own.”

            Though John had most definitely not been a fan of Dean standing up to him, he’d realized that the three of them were now one unit, and he would not be able to break them apart. Now, as the three of them were talking, Evy concentrated on sorting out her conflicting feelings. She was glad to see John, and glad that he was alive, but she was angry. Angrier than she could ever remember being. Nearly no contact with her for almost four years, and he just shows up out of nowhere expecting her to follow his orders without question? Evy could tell that they were arguing again over keeping her with them, and she fought the urge to get up and run out of the room. Before she could say or think anything else, she was startled out of her thoughts by Dean. He had left the kitchenette where he had been standing and come over to her. He placed a ten dollar bill in her hand.

“Go to that hot dog stand down the road. Get some dinner. We need to talk alone.” he told her.

Evy nodded. “Thanks.” she whispered.

            Dean winked, and the three men watched as Evy left the room. Evy had been at the hot dog stand for around a half hour, picking at her food, when she saw John walking towards her. He approached her, hands in his pocket, a strange look on his face that Evy couldn’t quite make out. Was it regret? Sadness? Remorse? All three?

“Can I join you?” John asked.

Evy nodded. “Sure.”

            John sat across from her, holding his hands together in front of him. It was something he did when he was struggling with what to say. Evy wasn’t used to this. She fought the urge to grin.

“So, Dean sent you out of the room because he was catching me up on everything that you’ve done since you’ve been with them.”

Crap. Evy thought. What was Dean thinking?

“And Sam told me what happened when Jess died.”

            Evy looked away from John when he said that. She didn’t like talking about Jess, and she was still too sore at John to be okay with him bringing it up.

“Little one, I’m sorry. I would have done anything to protect you from that. And I’m proud of you.”

            Evy couldn’t have heard him right. John’s approval was something that all three of his children had sought their entire lives. It was something that seemed to constantly allude them. Evy looked back at him, mouth agape with surprise.

“Thank you, Daddy.” she whispered.

A pained look finally came to John’s face. “Honey, why won’t you talk to me?”

Are you kidding? Evy bit back. “I don’t really know what to say.” she answered honestly. After an awkward moment, she looked back at him and asked, voice full of hurt, “Daddy, why haven’t you answered me all this time?”

“We talked about that last night…” John started.

“I’m not talking about the last few months.” Evy cut him off angrily. “I’m talking about the last four years. I thought you hated me.”

            John’s heart ached as he watched his baby girl pouring her heart out to him. He realized that, as badly as he’d hurt Sam and Dean the last few months, he’d hurt Evy the most. He’d been hurt when she left him to live with Sam, but he’d realized after thinking it over for a few days that she hadn’t done it out of malice. She’d only wanted a family, and she’d been trying to tell him that in her own way the entire year Sam had been gone. He hadn’t listened to her, and had driven her away. It was his own fault she had been gone.

“Honey, I’m sorry. After you left, I thought it was a good idea to leave you alone, like I’d done with Sam. I was just trying to keep you safe. But I never once hated you. Not once.” John reached out to take her hand. “Forgive me, little one.”

            Evy debated it. Did he really mean his apology? Was he just stalling, hoping to get her in his good graces? When she realized that that didn’t sound like John at all, she decided to take a chance and see where this would go.

“Of course I do. I love you, daddy.”

John smiled. “I love you too, baby girl.”             Evy walked around the bench, grabbed John around the neck and held him tight. For the first time in years, John held his daughter. He had forgotten the peace, the contentment, the joy she had brought him for the first few years of her life. He wondered how on earth he’d ever  gotten along in life without it. Evy let him go, then decided to do something she’d been considering for a few weeks.

“Daddy? Can I tell you something I haven’t told Sam and Dean?”

His curiosity peaked, John furrowed his brow in surprise. “Sure, honey.”

            Evy took a deep breath and proceeded to tell John the whole, unbiased story about the Shtriga and Elizabeth the Reaper and being awake and fully aware while in the coma. When she was done, John was looking at her in a way that Evy had never seen before. A mixture of surprise, concern, admiration, and….was that fear? Evy was uncertain whether the long silence meant bad or good for her.

“Daddy?” she asked. “Do you know what it means? I was a little afraid to talk to Sam and Dean about it.”

“Why?” John asked. That surprised him almost as much as her story did.

Evy laughed. “They’re a little…let’s just say overprotective is a bit of an understatement.”

John chuckled. “And I’m not?”

Evy bit her lip when the retort You haven’t been in my life enough to be overprotective came to mind. “Well? What do you think?”

“So, let me get this straight.” John began. “You fought off a reaper just by telling her to go away?”

Evy nodded.

“I think…” John started, finding a way to phrase his thoughts carefully. “I think it tells me that you’re much stronger than I ever gave you credit for.”

Evy was not quite sure how to take that. “Okay…” John abruptly changed the subject. “Why don’t we go back to the room?” he asked.

            Evy agreed, and the two of them headed back to the motel room. Over the next few days, although they were trapped in what Dean referred to as “serious crap”, he stopped trying to send her away. He still worried over her, but treated her more like the hunter she was quickly becoming. Evy was beaming when he told her at one point that her skills were becoming comparable to that of her brothers. Evy had started to see hope that they might actually be able to build a somewhat solid relationship.

            Then the unthinkable happened. The four of them were finally able to confront Azazel, and had the ability to end the entire hunt, to start a normal life if they wanted. Evy and Dean were pinned up against a wall. Dean was hurt, and badly, and Evy had been slammed into the wall so hard that she was having a hard time focusing. Her vision was blurring and she was slipping in and out of consciousness. She saw John, who had been possessed by Azazel, lying on the floor begging Sam to kill him. She wanted to beg Sam not to, but a burst of pain in her head prevented it. She moaned in pain, but the sound was drowned out when Azazel left John’s body.

            The next thing she felt was Sam lifting her into the backseat of the Impala, sitting her in the middle seat next to Dean. John sat in the front passenger seat, while Sam proceeded to drive them all to the hospital. Though she was still having a hard time staying conscious, Dean was hurt worse than she was, so she used what little energy she had left keeping Dean awake until Sam arrived at the hospital. She heard the two of them arguing in the front seat, but between the bickering, the pain and fuzziness in her head, and her efforts to keep Dean awake, Evy couldn’t help but feel the slightest bit of happiness at the thought that her family was finally back together. Evy checked on Dean, and was not surprised to find him asleep again. Evy grabbed the closest corner of his jacket and shook it as hard as she could.

“Dean, come on, stay awake…”

            Before she finished her thought, Evy’s entire world went dark. She saw a flash of bright, brilliant light, heard a loud screeching noise, and then nothing. When she awoke what seemed like only a few seconds later, she was in a strange bed, with strange beeps and other sounds all around her. Evy jumped, frightened at the unfamiliar surroundings; she had just started to look around to get her bearings when she felt a familiar hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, Cricket, it’s just me.” Sam had been sleeping beside her and woken up at the sound of her jump.

“Sammy? Where are we?” she asked.

“Shhh. Don’t move too much. You’ve got a concussion.” Sam said, gently pushing her back down on the bed. “You’re in the hospital.”

“Ow.” Evy said. Her head was aching so badly she felt it would be torn apart. “What happened?”

“We were in a car accident.” Sam said.

We? Evy thought, before remembering. Her eyes flew open wide in fear. “Dad? Dean?”

“Dad’s okay. He’s in his own room. Dean…”

The pained look on Sam’s face made Evy’s heart race in panic. “Sam. Is he…?”

“Dean’s alive.” Sam said. “But he’s in a coma. He’s hurt bad.”

“I want to see him.” Evy said quickly. “I want to see him, Sammy.”

“Okay. Come on.”

            Sam put Evy into a wheelchair that the nurses had brought for her and wheeled her down to Dean’s room. The two were there for barely three minutes before a doctor came in and told Sam and Evy that John was awake. The doctor briefed them on Dean’s condition, and Sam prepared to go see him.

“You wanna stay here or go with me to see dad?”

“I’ll stay here.” she said. “I want to talk to him. Alone.”

Sam nodded. “Okay.” He stood up and kissed the top of her head. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

Evy suddenly felt a sharp pang of guilt. “Sammy? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Cricket. Just some cuts and bruises.” Sam assured her. “I’ll be back.”

“Okay.” Evy whispered.

            Sam turned to leave, and Evy watched his retreating form until he was out of sight. She turned back around to face Dean’s near lifeless body. Fear threatened to overtake her, but she refused to let it win. Dean needed her now. She had a feeling that Dean could her, just like she could hear him when she fought off Elizabeth. Evy grabbed Dean’s hand and started to plead with him.

“Listen, Dean. I came back for you. I need you to do the same for me, okay? Don’t leave us, Dean. Please. I can’t keep the peace with Sam and Dad without you. So I need you to wake up.”

            Evy held onto Dean’s hand, but when her head began to throb again, she squeezed a little harder and shut her eyes tight. She put Dean’s hand to her forehead. In the corner of the room, although she couldn’t see him, Dean was watching her closely. When she’d touched his hand, Dean had felt it, and had jumped back in surprise. It had been his first real contact with the physical world since he’d become aware of what was happening with him. Dean wanted to walk over and hug her, but instead settled for talking to her too.

“I’m trying, baby girl. I’m trying.”

A voice from the doorway startled both Dean and Evy. “Hi, sweetie.”

Evy jumped and looked up, relieved to see that it was John. “Hi, daddy.”

“You okay?” he asked, moving to stand on the edge of Dean’s bed, next to her.

“Yeah.” Evy said. The throbbing in her head finally subsided. “Where’s Sammy?”

“I sent him out to get a few things.” John said. “Honey, you look pale. Why don’t you go back to your room and get some rest?”

            Evy’s first instinct was to say no. She wanted to stay with Dean, stay there until he woke up. But she did feel terrible. The last thing she wanted was to be alone, though.

“Can I go back with you?” she asked. “I don’t want to be alone.”

John smiled sadly. He knew she hadn’t meant to make him feel guilty, but she couldn’t have done a better job if she had tried. “Sure, little one. Let’s go.”

            John wheeled her back to his room and assisted her onto the bed next to him. He marveled in the back of his mind that she still wanted anything to do with him, much less wanted to sit with him. John asked when she was settled next to him,

“Honey, tell me something. Were you happy with Sammy?”

Evy, who had finally laid down and closed her eyes to go to sleep, was thrown by the question. “What?”

“Were you happy?” John repeated.

“Yeah, daddy. I was.” Evy answered after a brief silence. “The three of us were.”

“You were really close with Jess, huh?” John asked.

Evy swallowed painfully. “Yeah. I was.” Evy suddenly remembered something. “I loved her. She was the closest thing to a mom I’ll ever have.”

            John looked down at Evy, distant memories playing in his mind. He had loved Evy’s mom Maria genuinely, but Sam and Dean’s mom Mary had been the love of his life. John hugged Evy close to his side, and she held onto him just as closely. “Why don’t you tell me about her?” John asked.

“About Jess?” Evy asked, lifting her face from John’s chest. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I didn’t know her. What was she like?” John asked.

Evy smiled. “Tell you what. I’ll tell you about Jess if you tell me about mom.”

“Deal.”

            For the next few minutes, the two of them were absorbed in each other’s stories. Evy told him every funny story about Jess she could think of, and soon they were both laughing so hard that tears were running down their cheeks. Evy didn’t know how long they sat like that, talking and laughing and just enjoying each other’s company, but she wished that it would last forever. Before John could hold up his end of the bargain, however, Sam came back into the room. He went to the window, quiet, and Evy stopped laughing immediately. Sam was furious about something, and she was afraid that the relative peace she had made with John was about to be shattered. She was right.

“You’re quiet.” John remarked, one arm still around Evy.

“Sammy, what’s wrong?” she asked, sitting up.

            Sam turned around and faced John, face contorted in anger. He ignored Evy’s question and threw John’s list back in his face.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?” he asked.

“What are you talking about?” John said.

“The stuff on your list.” Sam said. “You don’t use it to protect yourself from a demon, you use it to summon one.”

            Evy’s heart dropped. Even with her hurt and Dean dying, John won’t break from the hunt. All her old doubts were resurfacing. Evy scooted off the bed and back into her chair. Sam and John’s argument was devolving into a shouting match, and it was causing her more pain than her head injury was. Before she could stop herself, Evy was shouting angrily,

“Will you two please STOP FIGHTING!?”

            Both John and Sam were stunned and stared at Evy. She had always been timid, and neither of them had ever really seen her stand up to anyone. But Evy wasn’t done.

“Dean is dying, and you two are standing there, fighting. Just like always. If I was Dean, I wouldn’t want to wake up, either.”

            Evy left, wheeling herself out of John’s room as fast as she could. She started to head back to her own room, but stopped at Dean’s when she passed it. She wheeled herself inside, sitting next to him. Anger was still coursing through her. She said nothing for a moment, then pleaded with Dean,

“Dean. Please, please wake up. We’re gonna fall apart without you.”

            Evy grabbed Dean’s arm and pulled his hand to her. She held it and eventually fell asleep. Some time later, she awoke at the sound of a loud gasp. Sam was there too, sitting on the edge of Dean’s bed. Sam was screaming for a doctor. She realized that the gasp she had heard had come from Dean. He was awake. The doctor examined him, proclaimed him healthy, and left the three of them alone. Evy hugged Dean tightly for a few minutes, before Dean remarked that he was hungry. Evy remembered that Sam had put her backpack in her room, and she asked Dean if he wanted the M and M’s she had hidden in there. Dean accepted, and Evy headed to her room to get them. She found she could walk okay without the wheelchair now, so she made the slow trek down the hall. When she was just inside the door, John came in behind her.

“Hey, sweetie.”

The smile Evy had been wearing just moments before vanished as she turned to face her father. “Hi, daddy.”

“Sit down for a minute. I’ve got some things to say to you.” he said.

            Evy sat on the edge of her bed, bracing herself for the lecture she was sure was coming. Hoping to take some of the pressure off of her, Evy started to apologize, but John cut her off.

“You don’t need to apologize, sweetie. You were right.”

Evy’s mouth dropped open. Did she just get away with yelling at her father?

John chuckled. “You heard me right. Me and Sammy are always fighting at the wrong time. You and Dean have always done a great job letting us know that.”

Evy smiled slightly and brushed her hair behind her ear. “Thanks, Daddy.”

            John moved from the doorframe across the room over to Evy’s bed. He sat down beside her, collecting his thoughts before he spoke. Evy waited patiently, unsure what was about to happen. When John did finally speak, it was with a surprisingly gentle tone, gentler than any one Evy remembered him using before. “You know, when you were born. I was scared.” Evy raised a skeptical eyebrow and John chuckled. “You heard me right. I was scared. After a combined twenty-four years of taking care of two boys, I had no idea how to even begin taking care of a little girl. Then, about thirty minutes after you were born, your mom died.”

Evy knew she shouldn’t stop John, but she had to know. “How did she die?”

“She had a brain aneurysm the doctors didn’t know about.” John explained simply. Evy nodded, and John continued. “It took another couple hours before I could make myself get up to the nursery to see you. I was hurt, I was angry, and…truth is, I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to see you. I wasn’t sure I wanted to raise another child without a mother.”

Evy looked a little hurt by John’s admission, but she said nothing and let him continue.

“But the second I held you, you stopped crying. Your eyes were wide open, and you looked at me with this completely trusting, peaceful look in your eye. I knew I couldn’t give you up.” John said.

            Evy smiled; John was being more honest with her now than he’d ever been before. But his tone turned decidedly more somber.

“I tried, little one. But by the time you came along, I just was so tired. And that’s no excuse, I know, but I just didn’t have the energy to keep shuffling you around from place to place like I did with your brothers. That’s why I told you the truth so early.”

            Evy flinched. She remembered the night John was talking about all too well. She had been three, almost four, and Sam had been away on what she knew now was a hunt. He’d been gone for over a week, and Evy had been asking both John and Dean when he would be home. Tired of hearing her ask, and hoping it would help her understand, John had told her the truth of what it was he did and what Sam was doing. That had led to one of the biggest fights the family had ever had. Even Dean had stood up to John, telling him how wrong it was to take Evy’s childhood from her. And when Sam had returned a few hours later, to a scared and sobbing Evy, he had screamed more than Evy had ever heard before or since. Evy had a feeling that, had he known a way then to get away with it, he would have taken Evy and run that night. The fight was her first clear memory. A single tear slipped down her cheek, which made John’s heart ache for her. But he continued on.

“But I shouldn’t have done that. I should have let you have a childhood. I was more concerned about keeping you alive than I was about making sure you were okay.” Evy had been looking away from John, but he grabbed her chin gently and made her look at him. “You asked me why I didn’t talk to you after you left with Sam. The true reason is that I knew I had driven you away. I knew I’d hurt you. And even after everything I’ve ever hunted, that scared me worse than anything. I thought if I didn’t talk to you, I wouldn’t have to face that.”

“Daddy, please…” Evy was sobbing softly now.

John pulled her in for a hug. “Little one, I’m so sorry. I love you so much. I’m so sorry.”

“I love you too, Daddy. It’s okay. I forgive you.”

            When Evy told John that she forgave him, John let out a breath that he didn’t know he’d been holding. He held Evy as long as she allowed him to, and for a few minutes nothing mattered but the two of them together. When Evy yawned, John realized it was time for him to go.

“Why don’t you get some sleep, honey?”

Evy shook her head. “I don’t wanna.” she said with a little pout that made John laugh.

“Look.” John said, pushing her up slightly to look at him. “I know you’ve grown up in a flash. But let me be your dad this one time, please.”

Evy smiled. “Okay, daddy.”

“Good girl.” John said, reaching over to pull the blankets back on her bed. Evy laid down and John tucked her in, leaning over to kiss her forehead. “Sleep tight, little one.”

“I love you, daddy.”

“I love you too.”

            John turned around and walked out of the room, turning around in the doorway to take one more look at Evy. Evy hadn’t realized how tired she actually was, because the second she was lying down, her eyes seemed to close on their own. For the first time in weeks, she fell asleep content and at peace. Just as she was beginning to drift off to sleep, a thought hit her like brick wall. I came in here to get Dean his M and M’s. Sighing, Evy reluctantly climbed out of bed and went to retrieve them. A sound from the loudspeaker made Evy’s heart lodge in her throat.

“Code blue, room 405. Code blue, room 405.”

            Evy ran into the hallway as quickly as she could. It was hard to breathe, hard to think. Time seemed to crawl, she couldn’t make it to the door fast enough. When she turned to the right, she saw Sam and Dean waiting outside John’s room. Evy walked over to join them. She stood between Sam and Dean, watching as the doctors worked on a now flatling John. Come on daddy, come on, she thought, trying to will him back to life. We just made up, don’t do this.

“Alright, that’s it. Time of death 10:41am.”

“No.” Evy whispered. “No, no, no, no, no.”

            Sam, whose knees went weak beneath him when John was declared dead, instinctively grabbed Evy and wrapped her in his arms. Evy sobbed into Sam’s jacket, and held on as Sam led her back to Dean’s room. All three of them were numb, and said nothing for the rest of the night. The next few days went by in a haze. She, Sam, and Dean buried John, and the three of them headed to Bobby’s for some needed time off.

            When Bobby picked them all up, Dean sat up front in the passenger seat, staring out the window and not talking, while Sam sat in the back with Evy. Evy, still feeling confused, hurt, and scared, laid down with her head in Sam’s lap. Sam wrapped her up with a blanket Bobby kept in the backseat, stroking her hair to try and keep her calm. Evy grabbed his other arm and hugged it, looking up into Sam’s face as they travelled. She then looked over at Dean and Bobby, neither of whom had said a word since they’d moved. Evy made up her mind to keep the four of them together, no matter what. She could not, and would not, allow what was left of her family to crumble.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

            It seemed impossible. Of all the things that Evy had seen in the last months while on the road with her brothers, this seemed the most impossible of all. It had been six days since Evy, Bobby, and Dean had found Sam in that little backwater abandoned town in Colorado. Six days since she had watched Sam get knifed in the back. Six days since she’d stood behind Dean, frozen in horror watching Dean hold Sam as he…

            No. Evy shook her head hard and got up to get dressed. She had refused to admit it so far, and she wouldn’t do it now. Evy hadn’t talked in six days, not since she’d gotten back to Bobby’s with Sam that night. Dean had become withdrawn too, only talking to her to ask if she was okay. Evy had just shrugged every time he asked, and after the third day he’d given up. Bobby had tried harder, practically dragging her out of her room to come down and eat something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He hadn’t asked her all week whether or not she was alright, just made sure that she ate something and asking her whether she wanted to help him at all in the auto yard.

            Evy had avoided Bobby’s front room like it would catch fire if she went anywhere near it. Bobby had noticed, but didn’t say anything. Evy had been traumatized by what she’d seen with Sam, and Bobby was afraid if he made her face the truth before he was ready she’d just withdraw into herself even more. When Bobby woke up the morning of the sixth day, he was surprised to find Evy not in her room where she normally was. He set off to find her.

            Bobby found Evy a few minutes later, sitting outside in the passenger seat of an old Toyota that had been towed to him the night before. She was holding something in her hand that Bobby couldn’t quite make out from the front door. He slowly made his way over to her, partially hoping and dreading the conversation that was about to happen would lead to Evy finally facing what was happening. It was bad enough watching Dean destroy himself, Bobby didn’t know if he’d be able to handle it if Evy did the same.

            Bobby reached the passenger door and leaned over it to look at her. If Evy heard him, she didn’t acknowledge it, just continued to stare at what was in her hand. Bobby saw that it was a photo, one of the few that he kept on the wall of his house. It had been taken three or four years before Sam left for college. Evy was four or five; how old exactly, Bobby couldn’t remember. Sam was holding her in his arms, tickling her. She’d been giggling so hard that she’d started to hiccup, and Sam had been laughing almost as hard himself. Bobby smiled as he remembered the day.

Eight Years Earlier

            Bobby came in to the living room with his arms full of the groceries he had just been to get in town. He was exhausted. Sam and Evy had been with him for three days now. Five year old Evy, like normal, had been good, but for the first day had been unnaturally quiet. She had woken up that night with a 102 fever, and Bobby and Sam had spent the second day taking care of a sick Evy. She had recovered remarkably fast, and by that evening the fever was almost entirely gone. She had fallen asleep with Sam that night, and woken up the second day with only a mild case of the sniffles.

            Now it was the third day, and Evy was back to her normal, talkative, exploratory self. She had spent the first part of the morning with Sam, who was trying to prepare her for kindergarten that fall by teaching her the basics. Today had been her alphabet, which she’d picked up remarkably fast. After only an hour and a half, she had come running out to Bobby to recite to him, and had been promptly rewarded with hugs and kisses and praise from Bobby. Sam got up off the couch to help Bobby put away the groceries, when Evy came in, looking at both of them with the biggest, saddest eyes Bobby had ever seen. Tears were streaming down her face.

“Sammy.” she said sadly.

Sam, who had been standing at the kitchen cupboard with his back to Evy, turned around to find her. “Hey, Cricket, what’s wrong?”

            Evy answered by running to Sam and barreling into his side, still crying. Sam picked her up, confused and concerned, and tried to comfort her. He bounced her up and down on his hip, walked around the kitchen with her, and even sang to her. Despite all this, it still took almost five minutes before she was calm enough to talk. Sam set her on the kitchen table, her legs dangling over the side. Sam examined her briefly, thinking that she was hurt.

“Baitfish, what happened, honey? Are you sick again?” “No.” Evy said, rubbing her eyes with her fist. “I called Daddy.” “Why?” Bobby asked. “Why did you call him?”

What Evy said next was so innocent, so sad, and so full of hurt that it ripped up Bobby’s heart. “I just wanted my daddy.”

Sam sighed and rubbed his nose, trying to hold back the fury he was feeling. “What did he say, Cricket?” he asked, having a bad feeling it was something very insensitive.

 “He yelled at me. Told me not to call him unless it was an emergency. Said that he’d call later tonight.” Evy reached out for Sam, wanting to be held again.

            Sam obliged, picking her up and holding her close to him. She buried her face on his shoulder, and Sam shot Bobby a look that clearly said Do you believe this? Bobby was thinking to himself John, you damn fool idjit. You keep treating this kid like this and you’re gonna lose her. Sam continued to try and comfort Evy, before Bobby noticed that a grin had crossed his face. Before he could ask what Sam was grinning at, Sam sat at one of the chairs on the kitchen table.

“Hey, Cricket. Did you know there’s a monster in here?”

            Bobby’s hunter instincts kicked on when Sam said that, but there was no way a monster was in the house and Bobby didn’t know it, so curiosity took over. Little Evy immediately sat up and looked at Sam fearfully.

“What? Where?”

            Sam pulled one hand out, hooking his five fingers like a claw. He moved it in a circle slowly a couple of times, Evy keeping her watery eyes on it the entire time. Sam suddenly lunged for her stomach, making Evy double over in giggles. He moved from her stomach, to her neck, to her sides, and soon Sam was laughing just as much as Evy. Both were so consumed that they didn’t hear the shutter of Bobby’s camera. Bobby finished putting the groceries away then took his own turn entertaining Evy.

            Bobby let the silence stretch between them for a couple minutes, then decided to try and break the ice.

“You know you keep staring at that, you’ll go blind.” he said.

            Bobby’s attempt at humor earned him a small smile but nothing more. He sighed; this was going to be harder than he thought. Bobby walked around so that he was directly in front of her. Though it was hard to do with his advancing age, he crouched down so he was right below her eye level.

“Baitfish, please talk to me.”

Evy looked like she wanted to cry, but said nothing.

Bobby got an idea. “If I guess the way you’re feeling, will you talk to me?”

Evy again said nothing, but didn’t protest.

“I think you miss your brother something awful.” Bobby said, feeling stupid for being so obvious.

            Evy shifted in her seat, and Bobby realized that wasn’t the whole story. What else could it be? Bobby wondered to himself. Then it clicked.

“Maybe your daddy a little bit too.”

            Bingo, Bobby thought when a tear finally fell down Evy’s cheek. As badly as Bobby hated seeing Evy suffer, it broke his heart to see that beautiful little girl he’d come to love as his own lose herself in her misery. He wished that he could take away the pain she was feeling, or bring Sam back just so she’d be her normal, happy self again. But neither of those things could happen.

“Ah, Baitfish, I know you miss them. And I know right now it seems like nothing’ll ever be okay again. It’s probably not much comfort, but I’m here for you, sweetie. We’ll get through this together. Not matter how long it takes, we’ll get through this.”

            As Bobby talked, Sam’s words from two years earlier in the motel room echoed in Evy’s ears. We’ll be fine as long as we stick together. Bobby waited patiently for her to say something, and when she didn’t, Bobby was afraid that he hadn’t gotten through to her. But when she did speak, her voice was so full of pain that Bobby’s own heart felt like it was shattering.

“I miss him, Bobby.”

            Evy’s voice was hoarse from so many days of not using it. Each word she said only made her cry harder. Bobby unconsciously mimicked Sam for a moment when he took his thumb and wiped the tears away that were coming faster and faster. As Bobby was saying “I know, Baitfish”, Evy uncurled herself from the front seat and wrapped her arms around Bobby’s neck. Evy was sobbing so hard that they were both shaking. Bobby tried to comfort her, but it seemed to be of no use; Evy just continued to sob. When she finally did calm down, Bobby, still holding her, suggested that the two for ice cream. Evy laughed sadly, and pulled away from Bobby, wiping her face.

“Thanks. Maybe later.” she said. “I’m gonna go talk to Sammy.”

            Bobby was surprised, but stood up so she could get by him. He watched her walk into the house slowly, and closed the door of the Toyota. He took a deep breath and let it out, hopeful that they were finally making progress.

            Evy walked inside, closing the door behind her softly. Dean was nowhere around, and for that she was grateful. She needed to talk to Sammy, but wanted to do it alone. Evy turned into Bobby’s guest room, and for the first time in a week, took a long look at Sammy. He seemed to be sleeping. His head was turned to one side and he had a hand on his chest. Cautiously she approached the bed, sitting on the edge of it, and started to talk to him.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been here, Sammy.” she started. Her chest constricted as she talked, forcing her to take deep breaths. “I just couldn’t believe you were really gone. I thought if I didn’t come…” Evy stopped talking when she realized how much she sounded like John. “I’m sorry, Sammy. I love you. I miss you so much.”

            Evy let out another sob, and took Sammy’s hand. She put it to her cheek, and received a shock when she realized how cold it was. Her tears, which she had finally managed to stop, flowed freely again.

“Please come back, Sammy. Please….”

            Still keeping a tight hold on Sam’s hand, Evy put her face on the bed, crying and repeating her plea for Sam to come back. Dean, who was in the hallway listening, was wiping away a tear of his own and fighting the urge to go in and tell her to leave. He was only able to listen to her sobbing for another minute or two, then made up his mind about what he’d been considering all week. Dean left the house quickly. When Bobby came back inside a few minutes later, he found Dean gone and Evy sleeping on Sam’s bed. Bobby picked her up and took her down the hall to the guest room, which had become her de facto bedroom when she wasn’t travelling with Sam and Dean. As he tucked her in, he kissed her forehead and repeated his promise to look after her.

            A few hours later, Evy felt herself being shaken awake. As she hadn’t known she had fallen asleep in the first place, she was disoriented and confused. But whoever was shaking her wouldn’t stop.

“Evy, wake up. Come on.”

            Evy suddenly recognized Dean’s voice and sat up. Was he…happy? Dean hadn’t so much as smiled since Sammy went missing from that diner. What could he possibly be so excited about? Evy sat up and asked him groggily,

“Dean? What’s going on?”

“Come to the kitchen with me.” Dean said. “Come on. I have a surprise for you.”

            In spite of herself, Evy was intrigued and followed Dean. Her face felt puffy; she realized that she must have cried herself to sleep earlier while talking to Sammy. She made a mental note to thank Bobby for putting her to bed, before Dean stopped her. He placed a finger to his lips, and pointed inside the kitchen. Someone else was sitting at the kitchen table. Evy’s mouth dropped open and she looked to Dean.

“Sammy?” she whispered.

Dean, still grinning, nodded.

Evy grabbed Dean and pulled him aside, out of Sam’s eyeline. “Are you sure?”

“It’s him, kiddo. He’s back.”

“How?” Evy asked.

Dean avoided the question the best way he could. “Does it matter?”

Evy was so shocked that she didn’t notice Dean’s avoidance. “Is he okay?”

“He’s a little sore, so be careful when you hug him.” Dean answered.

Evy looked briefly back at Sam. “It’s really him?” Evy asked. “I’m not dreaming?”

“You’re not dreaming.” Dean answered.

Evy turned away from Dean and walked into the kitchen, next to Sam who was wolfing down a sandwich. “Sammy?” she whispered.

Sam turned to her and smiled. “Hey, Cricket.”

Despite Dean’s warning, Evy barreled into Sam’s side, hanging on for dear life. “Sammy.”

Painful as it was, Sam held her tightly. After a few seconds, he told her gently, “You got to let me go, baby. My back hurts, I can’t hold on to you too long.”

“Sorry.” Evy said, letting him go reluctantly. She wiped away some tears, but, needing a little more physical contact with him, grabbed his neck and kissed his cheek. “Sammy.”

“Hey, why were you asleep at seven o’clock?” Sam asked, pulling her away from him. “Are you sick?”

“No. I’m just tired.” she answered. She then realized that someone was missing. “Where’s Bobby?”

“He left for a hunt.” Dean answered. “That’s why I woke you up. We’re going to join him.”

Evy nodded, but was not willing to leave Sam. She took his hand and squeezed tight.

“Don’t worry, Cricket.” Sam assured her, patting her hand. “I’ll be right here.”

            Evy smiled and went to get her stuff. She had never really unpacked, so it didn’t take long, and less than ten minutes later, the three of them were in the car headed to meet Bobby. Evy squeezed in the middle of the front seat between the two of them, and started chattering nonstop. Dean prayed she wouldn’t say anything about Sam being dead, but Evy seemed to sense that she shouldn’t. When they pulled up to meet Bobby, Evy stuck close to Sam. Much to Dean’s relief, she didn’t say anything when Bobby opened the door, even though Bobby’s mouth was practically dragging the floor.

            The four of them stayed in the house for a few minutes, before Bobby asked Dean to come outside with him. Evy didn’t think much about it, just sat at the table helping Sam with the research he was doing. A minute later, Sam asked her,

“Hey, Cricket, would you go back to the car for me and bring my backpack in please?”

“Sure, Sammy.” Evy replied happily.

            Before leaving, Evy kissed Sam’s cheek again, making him smile. She headed back to the Impala, but was stopped when she heard the sound of Bobby shouting. Thinking that something was wrong, Evy followed the sound of his voice, but was startled when she heard Dean explaining something to Bobby. As Evy got closer, she couldn’t believe what she heard.

“You did WHAT?!?” she shouted.

Neither Dean nor Bobby had heard Evy come up behind them, so they both jumped. Dean asked her angrily, “Why are you eavesdropping on us?”

Evy couldn’t believe he was actually attempting to yell at her right then. Crossing her arms across her chest, she explained in a huff, “Sammy sent me out here to get his backpack from the car. I heard Bobby yelling and came to check on him. Any other questions?” Dean looked down at the ground, Evy having just eliminated any reason to chew her out. “Dean, what did you do?”

When Dean started to stammer, Bobby took over. “Your idjit brother sold his soul to bring Sam back. He’s only got a year to live.”

            Evy felt as though she’d been punched in the gut. Whereas Dean had been attempting to explain himself the Bobby just a few moments earlier, the pain and betrayal he saw in Evy’s eyes was too much for him. He tried to reach out and hug her, but she backed away from him as though he’d hit her.

“Don’t.” she told him, practically foaming at the mouth in anger.

“You wanted Sammy back too.” Dean said, attempting a weak defense.

“Not if it means losing you too, Dean! Not if it means I just have to go through this again in a year! Dad gave himself up for you, you gave yourself up for Sam, when does this end?” Evy screamed at Dean, shaking uncontrollably, then started to stomp off towards the Impala.

“Evy.” Dean said to her retreating form. She stopped, but didn’t turn back to him. “Please don’t tell Sam.”

            Evy said nothing in response, just turned and marched over to the Impala and back inside the house. She didn’t tell Sam, but Sam noticed later that the mood between Evy and Dean had changed. Evy deliberately kept her distance from Dean, as the group discussed heading to Wyoming to see what was going on with the huge Devil’s Trap. In the car later that night on the way to Wyoming, Sam decided to find out what was happening. When they hit a stretch of road they had to travel on for over thirty miles, he figured that was the best time.

“Okay.” he said, putting down the map in his lap. “What’s going on with you two?”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked.

            Sam looked at Dean, then to Evy in the backseat. Evy had her arms crossed over her chest and was looking out the window. Dean was gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were white. Sam knew for a fact that the only time Evy had been away from him all day was when he’d sent her out to get his backpack, so he concluded that she and Dean must have had a fight about something then.

“Evy, you couldn’t stop talking the entire time we were going to Bobby’s. Now you haven’t said a word in hours. And Dean, you’re about to pull the leather off the steering wheel. Now what did you two fight about?” he asked.

“We didn’t fight, Sammy.” Evy suddenly said from the backseat. “We both took turns sitting with you last week while you were hurt. We didn’t get a lot sleep. We’re just tired.”

            Dean was throwing Evy warning glances from the front seat. Evy noticed and blatantly ignored them, while Sam noticed and debated whether or not to call their bluff. When he asked again and was met with a resounding “NO!” from both of them, Sam realized it would be like pulling teeth right now to find out what was wrong.

“Oooookay.” he said. “That’s not suspicious at all.”

            Though Sam didn’t even come close to believing their claim that nothing was wrong, he decided to drop it for the moment. When the group stopped later for gas, his curiosity was peaked even more when Evy suddenly decided to change cars and go the rest of the way to Wyoming with Bobby and Ellen. When they finally arrived at the cemetery, Bobby told her to wait a second before getting out of the car. Without a word of explanation to Ellen, Bobby turned and talked to Evy firmly.

“Listen. I know you’re mad at Dean. I don’t blame you. What he did was selfish and stupid and reckless. But we all need to focus right now. I need you to put this behind you for the moment. I promise you, after this, if you still want to, I’ll hold Dean down while you kick his ass from her to next month and back again.”

Evy cracked a smile, as though she’d just been told she could eat desert for dinner if she wanted. “Promise?”

“Promise.” Bobby said.

“Deal.”

            Evy climbed out of the car and walked into the graveyard with everyone, her feud with Dean temporarily forgotten. She stayed behind Bobby as they went to fight Jake, the soldier who had knifed Sam in the back a week earlier. She watched as Jake ordered Ellen to put a gun to her own head. Before she had a chance to try to help Ellen, she heard him order Bobby to “knock the kid out.” One hard slam to the back of her head, and Evy was in darkness. When she awoke, it was to Bobby lightly slapping her in the face.

“Come on Baitfish, wake up.”

“I’m up, I’m up.” she said groggily, dragging herself up on her elbows. “Quit hitting me.”

“I’m so sorry, kid.” Bobby said. “Are you okay?”

“I think so.” she said. “Head hurts a little.”

            Before Bobby could respond, she saw that he was staring open mouthed at something. She suddenly became aware that there was someone else in the graveyard with them, someone who hadn’t been there before she was knocked out. Evy turned to see what Bobby was staring at, and found herself looking straight into the eyes of her father.

            John said nothing, just smiled genuinely at her. Evy’s eyes filled with tears, and she stared back at him. John suddenly turned to look at Sam and Dean, and before Evy was even able to take her next breath, John was gone. When Bobby had recovered from the shock, he continued to fuss over her and ask whether she was okay. Evy quietly said yes, her mind still stuck trying to process what it was she had just seen. When Bobby apologized again, Evy simply whispered “it’s okay” before walking over towards Sam and Dean, who were talking heatedly next to the Impala. As she approached, she heard Dean telling Sam to “talk to her, please. She’ll listen to you.” “About this?” Evy asked, loudly so they knew she was coming. “No, she probably won’t.”

As Evy stepped between the two of them, Dean attempted to lighten the mood. “We’re gonna have to start putting a bell around your neck.”

“It’s not funny, Dean.” Evy said, more hurt than anger in her voice now.

“I know, baby girl, I know.” Dean said.

“So, what happens now?” Evy asked. “How exactly does your deal work?”

“I get a year to live in exchange for Sammy.” Dean explained. “If we try to get out of it…”

“Sammy dies.” Evy finished.

Dean nodded, unsure what else to say.

Evy sighed. “Dean, I don’t want to be mad at you. Especially if you don’t have that much longer. But I’m scared. Guys, we just lost Dad, then Sam, now…”

            Evy pointed towards Dean as her voice started to break. Sam tried to comfort her by putting an arm around her shoulder. Evy took a few breaths to try and steady herself. Her heart was beating fast, and she was fighting panic. When finally she could speak again, she looked to the ground and spoke to both of them.

“Look, I’m not mad at you, Dean. I never really was. But I need you two to promise me something.” Evy said.

Sam and Dean both looked at each other, surprised, then back to Evy.

“What, honey?” Sam said, speaking for the first time.

Evy started with Dean. “You. You let us try to find a way to help you without killing Sammy. But if it doesn’t work,” Evy turned to Sam, “you don’t try the same thing to help Dean.” When neither Sam or Dean said anything, Evy decided to cinch the deal. “And if you don’t promise this, I will promise you something. I’ll do it too.”

“The hell you will!” Dean yelled, while at the same time Sam was reprimanding her, “Evy!”

“NO!” Evy screamed above the both of them. “No, you two. This is it. I’m just as much a part of this family as you. You two don’t get to sacrifice for each other and then not expect me to do the same. So that’s the deal. The self-sacrifice ends now or it includes me too.”

            Though neither Sam nor Dean wanted to, both of them muttered “fine”. After a moment or two of awkward silence, Dean started to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Evy asked.

Dean turned to look at her. “You. You’re as stubborn as Dad.”

Evy laughed and suddenly wrapped Dean in a hug. “What’s this for?” he asked.

Arms still wrapped around Dean, Evy looked up at him and smiled. “I love you, Deanie.”

Dean laughed. Anyone other than Evy who called him “Deanie” was likely to get socked in the face. “I love you too, baby girl.”

As Dean was holding on to Evy, Bobby walked up behind them. “Well, I guess you don’t me to hold him down, huh?”

Evy laughed and turned to Bobby. “Raincheck?”

“Anytime.” Bobby responded.

“So, wait. What happened between the time I passed out and the time I woke up? What was dad doing here?” Evy asked.

 

            Ellen began to describe the story in detail for her. As Evy listened, she kept one arm wrapped around Dean’s waist and her other hand held in Sammy’s. Though she was still scared for Dean, the three of them were back together, at least for the moment. That would have to be enough for now.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

Fluff Break #3

“Daddy?”

            John cursed himself. He and Bobby had just returned from a hunt, and he had only gone in to check on three year old Evy. It was late; how late he didn’t know exactly know, but he knew that Evy should have been asleep for hours. Then he realized what it was keeping her awake. Outside a thunderstorm was in full swing, and Evy had never been able to sleep through them. John felt a little better; at least he hadn’t woken her out of a sound sleep.

“Hey, little one. You okay?” John asked, moving to sit next to her.

“Can’t sleep.” Evy said, sitting up to face him.

            Even as she said it, she was rubbing her eyes. When she felt the dip in the bed where John was now sitting, she leaned over and buried her face in his lap. John was lost. Evy’s attachment to Sam usually meant she went to him for comfort. Rarely did she want him. Even right now, he seemed to be a convenient choice rather than who she really wanted.

“Why didn’t you go to Sam’s room?” John asked. “The storm’s been going on a while.”

“Sammy didn’t feel good when he went to bed. Dean said he was sick. I didn’t want to wake him up.” Evy said.

            John was amazed. Even at three Evy seemed to sense things in other people that most three year olds wouldn’t. Don’t wake someone who’s sick when they’re sleeping, for example. Evy was still sitting awkwardly with her head in John’s lap, waiting on him to do something. Still stuck, John decided to try what used to work when Dean and Sam were little and afraid of something.

“You want to sleep with me? Downstairs?”

            Evy nodded, and John picked her up, carrying her downstairs with him to sleep in the recliner in Bobby’s living room. Evy was asleep before they were even downstairs. Very, very carefully, John pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and sat down. He popped the button on the side of the chair that allowed them to recline, and got into a somewhat comfortable position. John wrapped the blanket over them. When he was finally settled, Evy’s head was the only thing he could see of her. The rest of her was underneath the blanket. Her breathing was long and slow, and she was totally at peace. John was surprised to find that, for once, he was too. All the horrors he saw on the road, the pain he felt for the loss of Mary and Missy, the drive for revenge; he didn’t care about any of that right now. All he cared about right now was the little girl sleeping on top of him right now, who was comforted by the sound of his beating heart. John watched her sleep for a minute, then kissed the top of her head softly.

“Good night, little one. Daddy loves you.”

            Evy stirred a little, but didn’t wake. John wrapped both arms around her, finally drifting off to sleep himself.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten

            Evy stood in the field, completely alone. It was a beautiful cloudless day, but she was scared. She looked towards the horizon, calling for Sam and Dean, but they were nowhere in sight. Then, way off in the distance, she saw them, staring at her but not moving. Evy smiled, relieved, but that relief was short lived. Suddenly Sam collapsed to his knees, and Dean was being thrown around like a rag doll. Evy screamed, trying to get to them, but found that the more she ran, the further away from them she got. All she could do was stand there, watching both of them get murdered in front of her eyes.

            Evy snapped awake, gasping for breath. She realized after a few seconds that she was in her bedroom at Bobby’s, not in the field she’d been in just moments earlier. At lease I wasn’t screaming this time, she thought when she realized no one was in the room with her. Evy checked the clock and saw that it was after 9am. Despite waking up the way she had, she felt rested. She got up and got dressed, then headed down to the kitchen.

            When Evy spotted Sam standing at the stove, she smiled. She couldn’t believe that it had slipped her mind, but it was her seventeenth birthday. She felt her stomach rumble and licked her lips. Walking into the kitchen, she asked Sam excitedly,

“Is that what I think it is?”

Sam turned around with an ear to ear grin on his face. “Hey, kiddo. Happy birthday!”

“Thanks.” she responded, walking over to look.

            Sam wrapped an arm around her waist, and Evy hugged him back, squeezing him a little harder than normal because of the dream. Sam noticed, and asked her as she went to sit down,

“Did you have the dream again?”

Evy sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She waited a few seconds before answering simply “Yeah.”

            Sam plated the pancake he had just finished making and placed it in front of her. Evy smiled again. He had made her what used to be her favorite breakfast: cinnamon pancakes. He grabbed Bobby’s maple syrup from the cupboard behind him and sat down to join her.

“You haven’t made me cinnamon pancakes since…” Evy stopped. She had been about to say “since Jess”, but covered with “…since Stanford.”

Sam nodded sadly. “Eat up, Cricket.”

Before either of them could say anything else, Dean’s voice thundered in the doorway. “Hey, birthday girl.”

“Hey.” Evy greeted him.

            As Dean ruffled her hair, he went to grab a pancake from the plate. Evy slapped his hand away. Sam had only made four, and she intended to eat every one of them, minus the one Sam had taken for himself.

“Get your own.”

Dean laughed and looked to Sam. “Have you told her yet?”

Sam smiled. “No. I was waiting for you.”

“Told me what?” Evy asked them, suspicious.

“Well,” Sam started slowly, wanting to savor the moment as much as possible. “we decided that, for your birthday, you get to pick where we go next. It doesn’t have to be for a case, just anywhere you want to go.”

Evy was so surprised her mouth hung open. “Wow. Really?”

Dean nodded. “Yep. Anywhere you want.”             Evy was stumped. She’s loved travelling with Sam and Dean. As scary as some of the cases they had worked on were, seeing new places had always thrilled her. She couldn’t think right off of a place she wanted to go.

“Can I think about it?” Evy asked. “Tell you at dinner?”

            Sam and Dean readily agreed with her plan, and everyone went on about their day. As lunchtime approached, Evy went in to make herself a sandwich. Normally, she would have been helping Sam with research on either a case or helping to stop the oncoming apocalypse, but Sam had insisted she take the day off. She had attempted to argue that he and Dean never took a day off for their birthday, but Sam had playfully threatened to ground her if she didn’t do it. After Evy ate her lunch, she noticed that Bobby was out of some groceries. Wanting a bit of time to herself, she approached him where he was working in the auto yard.

“Hey, Bobby. You’re out of some groceries. Want me to go get them for you?” she asked.

Bobby chuckled. “Do you actually want to or do you just want some time to yourself?”

Evy grinned sheepishly. “Maybe a little of both?”

“Go on, Baitfish. You know where the grocery money’s at.” Bobby said, laughing. “Tell one of your brothers where you’re going.”

“’Kay. Thanks, Bobby.”

            Evy kissed his cheek and Bobby nodded appreciatively. Bobby watched as she ran back towards the house, feeling a rush of affection beneath his big burly exterior. As much as he loved Sam and Dean, Evy had a place in his heart that no one else could ever fill. Bobby turned back to work on the car. Back inside the house, Evy grabbed some of the cash that Bobby kept in the desk drawer. She put it in one pocket of the jeans she was wearing, then ran upstairs to grab her own money out of her backpack. It wasn’t much, but enough for Evy to get something for herself. She grabbed her coat and ran back downstairs to the kitchen, where Sam had books and papers spread out all over the kitchen.

“Hey, Sammy. I’m going into town to get some groceries for Bobby.”

Sam looked up from the book he was studying. “Okay. Dean’s upstairs. I’m sure he’ll give you the Impala keys if you ask.”

“Nah. I’ll walk.” she said.

“Alright. Have fun. Be back by dinnertime.” Sam said.

“’Kay. Bye, Sammy.” Evy said.

“Bye, Cricket.”

            The day was a bit nippy, but Evy enjoyed it. She took a deep breath, invigorated by the cold air entering her lungs. It had been a hard few months, and for the first time, Evy found that she was enjoying herself with no strings attached. No feeling guilty for laughing because Dean was dead and in hell. No feeling angry or betrayed because Sam left her behind at Bobby’s while he went off to fight without her. No feeling stupid for not confronting Sam after he came back about how she felt. All she had to do, at least for the moment, was enjoy the day. It was around a fifteen minute walk into town, and Evy took in her surroundings. At one point, an amusing thought crossed her mind. Alaska. That’s where I’ll pick. Evy laughed out loud, no one to hear her but the birds, thinking about Dean’s reaction when she told him at dinner that night.

            Once she was in town, Evy decided to go to the bookstore and look around a little before going to the grocery store. She shot Sam a text to let him know her plan. Going to the bookstore and maybe the park before grocery store. Be back before dinner. She had been in the bookstore about five minutes before she got an answer. Okay. Be careful and have fun. Love you Cricket. Evy responded with a simple <3 and continued on about her day. She wandered around the bookstore for a couple hours, bought herself a couple of things, and then headed to the park. She stayed there a while, reading and people watching, then headed to the grocery store and back to Bobby’s.

            All was well until about five minutes out from Bobby’s house. The sun was just beginning to go down, and Evy had a hand in her pocket to text Sam that she was on her way. But a nasty feeling in the pit of her stomach stopped her from doing that, and she instead put her hand on the knife she always carried with her.

“Evelyn Winchester.”

            Evy jumped, knife in hand. She sees who the voice belongs to; a woman, just slightly taller than she was, in a bright red dress and black hair. Evy had never seen her before, but she somehow felt familiar. Evy tried to hide her fear when she spoke.

“Who are you?”

The woman smiled and shook her head. “It’s a shame you don’t recognize me. But you will.”

Evy responded in a barely suppressed panic, “My brothers are right around the corner. I scream, they come running. Now tell me what you want.

The woman laughed. “Your brother is in the house. He and Sam are planning your surprise party as we speak. You’re just far away right now that they won’t hear you. Dean got out of his deal and made me look bad. I cannot allow him to get away with that.” It finally clicked in Evy’s mind who she was dealing with. “Lillith.”

Lillith laughed. “Yes, you really are quite smart.”

“What do you want?” Evy asked. Lillith was walking around in a circle slowly. Evy kept her eyes on her the entire time. “Are you here to kill me?”

“If that happens that’ll be a bonus.” Lillith said, smiling maniacally.

Evy’s grip on her knife tightened, but she showed no other visible signs of panic. “What are you talking about?”

            Before Evy could question Lillith further, a sickening growl behind her finally made her take her eyes off Lillith. Though she heard the growl, she couldn’t see anything. She noticed tiny dents in the sand around her, and followed them warily. Before she could react, Evy felt something powerful jump on top of her and knock her down. She was dragged a little, and then flipped over. A powerful bite on her shin caused her to scream. She clasped a hand there, trying to stop the bleeding, but a powerful jump directly on her other leg, followed by a sickening snap made her scream again. Her other leg was broken. Evy continued to scream, but no one was coming. Another powerful bite, this time on her arm, and Evy started to lose the fight. She could see the ground around her was stained red, and as she lost consciousness, she realized it was her own blood. Her last before she couldn’t think anymore was I’m being attacked by a hellhound, why aren’t I dead yet?

            Back inside Bobby’s house, it was getting close to dinnertime, and Sam was getting worried. Evy was never late, and he tried to share his concerns with Bobby and Dean as they continued to set up for the surprise party. Both of them had told Sam not to worry, that Evy was probably just enjoying her time to herself and would be home before long. But when the clock hit 5:30, and the sun was starting to go down, with no text or call from Evy, Dean had decided Sam had a point. When they called her and got her voicemail, Dean grabbed the keys to the Impala and he and Sam practically ran to the car.

“Bobby will you stay here in case she comes back?” Sam asked, but hardly waiting for a response before he ran out with Dean.

            Sam and Dean were gone for only a few minutes when they found Evy, though the minutes seemed to drag on and on. They found her on the side of the road lying unconscious. Sam jumped out of the car, and after a half second of stunned horror at the amount of blood on the ground, kneeled by her side to check her pulse.

“Sammy?” Dean asked, standing behind him, fear threatening to choke him.

“Come on, Cricket, come on.” When Sam felt a faint but steady heartbeat, he went into action. “She’s alive, Dean. Barely. Let’s go.”

            Dean jumped back behind the wheel as Sam picked up Evy as quickly and carefully as possible and got in the front seat with her. At Sam’s sudden and jerky movements picking her up, Evy woke up and let out a wail that set Sam on edge. He gripped her slightly tighter and tried to calm her, but it was useless.

“Hold on, baby, you’ll be fine.” he said. “Hold on.”

            Evy continued to cry and moan, Sam keeping as tight a hold on her as he could without hurting her further. Evy was fisting Sam’s jacket in one hand, and Sam realized that she wasn’t just holding on to him, she was trying to pull him towards her to tell him something.

“Calm down, honey, we’re almost home. Just hang on.”

Evy said two words clearly and plainly, and they made both Sam and Dean stop cold. “Lillith. Hound.”

            Realization dawned on them both at the same time. They looked at each other, fear and guilt making them both sick to their stomachs. It seemed impossible, but it was clearly true. Lillith has attacked Evy as revenge on Dean for escaping from hell. Evy cried again, gripping Sam’s shirt even tighter, and Sam’s attention was turned right back to her. Dean parked the car in Bobby’s yard and went around to open Sam’s door. When they carried her inside, Bobby stopped short at the sight. Evy was still clinging to Sam. She was a bloody mess, and a lot of the blood had made it to Sam. Bobby cleared the way for Sam to set her on the couch.

“What in the hell happened to her?” he asked.

            Sam set Evy down as gently as he could, while Dean ran to the kitchen to get the medical kit. Bobby followed Dean, and Dean filled him in on what they’d been able to piece together so far. Bobby was in disbelief, but put away his curiosity for the moment to help Sam and Dean patch up Evy. Dean grabbed the kit and went back to Evy, who was still crying steadily. He put down the med kit and realized that he had no idea where to start. Evy’s leg was broken, one shoulder was dislocated, she had one nasty bite on her shin and one on her arm, and she was covered in deep scratches and cuts. Bobby suggested starting with her leg and putting her elbow in place, then working on the cuts and scratches, a plan which Dean decided to follow. As he prepared to go to work, Sam made his own suggestion.

“Dean, she’s hurt bad. Maybe we should go to the hospital.”

This gave Bobby an idea. “Dean, you start working on her. I’ve got a hunter friend a couple towns over who’s also a doctor. I’ll go get him. We won’t have to come up with a story for him.”

            Bobby left and Dean began at Evy’s shoulder. Though her crying had tapered off, Evy was clearly still in pain. She was letting out whimpers and grunts and shaking so hard that the couch was shaking too. Dean felt stupid telling her this, but wouldn’t have felt right if he didn’t.

“Hey, kiddo, I need you to hold still for me, okay? I’m gonna fix your shoulder and it’s gonna hurt.”

Evy looked up at him fearfully, then darted her eyes around the room. “Sammy.”

Sam, who had been preparing to help Dean by starting on the splint for Evy’s leg, dropped the supplies in his hand and moved to her side. “What is it, baby?”

“It hurrrrtttttssss….” Evy cried, reaching out to Sam with the hand on her bitten, but somewhat whole, arm.

            Sam took her hand gingerly. He had never regretted picking up the hunting life again more than he did right now. In the back of his mind, for a brief moment, he saw the brokenhearted eight year old little girl crying for him because he was leaving for Stanford. Sam stroked her hair and attempted to comfort her, his heart breaking in pieces because it was impossible. But he was determined to try anyway.

“I know, baby. I know it hurts. But Dean’s patching you up. Bobby’s gone to get some help. I’m right here, okay? I’m not leaving you.”

Sam looked to Dean, apologetic for not helping him fix Evy, but Dean nodded his head. “Keep her still.” he said simply, moving behind Evy to fix her shoulder.

            As Dean got into position behind her and began to count to three, Sam grabbed Evy into a tight hug by wrapping his arms around her neck. He held her as tightly as he could without suffocating her. Evy buried her face in his shirt, and when Dean reached three, there was a sickening snap as her shoulder went back into place. Evy let out a scream, muffled by Sam’s shirt but still bone chilling, that sent a shiver of guilt throughout Dean. He fought to continue working, even with the lump that was forming in his throat. It should be him, not Evy, suffering for escaping from hell. But now was not the time to wallow in guilt or pity. Evy was suffering and he had a job to do.

            The next hour dragged on and on for everyone in the room. After Dean repaired her shoulder and splinted her leg, he got to work on the bites and cuts. Evy continued to cry, but kept relatively still as long as she could feel Sam holding her. Sam tried to comfort her, assure her she would be okay. Dean was nearly done, working on the last of Evy’s cuts. Sam was sitting behind her, holding her. Evy’s wails had gone down to a steady groan when Bobby returned with the doctor.

            The doctor wasted no time with introductions, just asked Dean to move aside so he could examine Evy himself. Dean reluctantly agreed, but hovered just behind Sam, who was still holding on to Evy and trying to comfort her. Dean watched as the doctor checked her wounds, disinfected them, bandaged them, and put a full cast on her leg. In the process, he introduced himself as Jim Reddicker, a longtime friend of Bobby’s. Normally, Sam and Dean and even Evy would have been fascinated with another hunter that they’d never met before, but right now they just didn’t care. Jim gave Evy a couple of painkillers and a sleeping pill. She was asleep quickly, then Jim led a very worried Sam, Dean, and Bobby into the kitchen.

“Okay. Here’s the deal.” he said. “I don’t know how the hell she’s still alive, much less how she’s stayed conscious this long. Most patients who’ve lost half that amount of blood with those kinds of injuries just wouldn’t have been able to stay alive.” Jim waited while the three of them took a moment to absorb what he was telling them, then asked, “Do you guys really want the truth?”

No one answered, but all three looked at him, waiting.

“Dean, you did great splinting her leg and shoulder and stitching her up. But she’s not going to get over this quickly, guys. It was a clean break as far as her leg goes. That should heal up fine. But it’s those bites that have got me worried. They’re deep. Deeper than any other bite I’ve ever seen. That one on her leg was the worst. The damn thing not only broke the skin, it bit off part of her muscle.” Jim explained.

“Damn it.” Sam cursed softly, running a hand through his hair and turning away from them.

“What does that mean?” Dean asked.

Jim told him sadly, “It means this. Evy won’t walk for a little while. Even with painkillers, it’ll hurt too much. But if she does walk again, it’ll be with at least a limp, if not a cane.”

“I will KILL THIS BITCH!” Dean suddenly shouted, so loudly that everyone in the room jumped.

“Watch it, son.” Bobby said. “She’s finally sleeping.”

“I’m with you.” Sam said, looking every bit as angry as Dean, maybe even more.

“Guys, listen to me.” Jim said. “I get it. I’ve just met Evy today and I’d like to get my hands on whoever did this to her. But right now, she needs you guys to support her. You need to decide what’s more important-going after them or being here for her.”

            Jim’s words made an impact on both boys, most noticeably Sam, who walked back into the front room with Evy when he heard her whimpering and crying again. Dean heard Sam talking to her, murmuring that everything was going to be okay, that she’d be fine, that he was there and wouldn’t leave her. He turned on his heel and walked out the door in frustration, and even Bobby was too dumbfounded to speak.

“Bobby.” Jim said. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning. Call me if she gets worse, okay?”

            Outside, Dean felt like he was going to explode. He was angry, but most of all he felt guilty. He had had his doubts about Evy joining him and Sam when they’d first left from Stanford, but she’d quickly proven herself to him. She picked up on the basics of hunting faster than anyone he’d ever seen. She was a master at research, and could put things together faster than either of her brothers. She was an able shot and a capable fighter, and more than once over the past four years, she had gotten one or both of her brothers out a tight spot. Dean had more than once thought that, should she decide to continue hunting, she would eventually be better at it than her father, brothers, and Bobby combined.

            But it looked like, because of him, all that would now change. Had he just stayed in Hell, where he was supposed to be anyway, Evy would be most likely be fine right now. Damn Cass for pulling him out.

That’s it. Dean thought. Cass.

            He kicked himself mentally for not thinking of it before. Why hadn’t he thought of Cass? Dean checked his watch, and realized that they’d found Evy a little over four hours ago. Four hours that she may not have had to suffer. Dean cursed himself, and started calling for Cass. Cass appeared after a few minutes.

“Cass, we need your help. Evy’s been attacked. She’s hurt bad, Cass.”

“Attacked how?” Cass asked.

“A hellhound.” Dean said.

“A hellhound?” Cass repeated, and Dean noted that the normally stoic Cass looked rattled. “And she’s still alive?”

“Yes.” Dean said. “Cass, please….” “Take me to her.”

            Dean led Cass into the house, into the living room where Sam was still sitting with and holding Evy. She had fallen back asleep, so Dean tiptoed inside with Cass following close behind. Sam and Bobby were surprised, but as relieved as Dean. Cass stood next to Evy, moving to heal her. He placed two fingers on her forehead, then suddenly stopped, withdrawing his fingers as though he’d been burned.

“No.” he said, looking down at Evy. “It can’t be.”

            Sam and Dean looked at each other, puzzled. Cass was usually the one who explained thing to them when they were stumped; they were not used to him being the one looking lost. “Cass?” Dean asked. “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you healing her?”

            Cass didn’t respond, just placed his entire palm against Evy’s head, as though checking her temperature. He withdrew his hand, and looked at Evy as if he’d never seen her before. Sam saw in Cass a mix of astonishment and….was that regret? In an uncharacteristic display of affection, Cass patted Evy’s hand, squeezed it, and smiled. It was so out of character for him that Dean and Sam were startled into silence. Cass turned back to them, sadness lacing his voice as he explained to them the true nature of Evy’s condition.

“I can’t heal her.”

“What?” Dean asked. “Why?”

“It’ll kill her.” Cass explained.

When he offered no further explanation, Sam prodded him to continue. “Cass, what do you mean it’ll kill her?”

Cass sighed. “Evy is a Sensitive.” At the confused looks on the faces of Sam, Dean, and Bobby, Cass attempted to explain. “Sensitives are both incredibly strong and sensitive at the same time. Their emotions are intense. They feel things much more keenly than normal people do. But what really sets them apart is their will to survive. No matter what a Sensitive goes through, they can survive anything-as long as they want to.”

Sam’s jaw was nearly on the floor. “Are you saying that as long as she wants to live, she will? Nothing will kill her?”

“Yes.” Cass answered simply.

“I don’t get it.” Dean said. “If she can survive anything, why can’t you heal her? She’s in pain, Cass.”

“I know.” Cass told him patiently. “Believe me, Dean, if I could heal her, I would. But Evy’s soul is, for lack of a better word, elastic. She can survive anything physical, but when she goes through something emotional, it causes her soul to stretch. In extreme cases, a Sensitive’s soul can become detached from them. It can cause them to lose their minds.” Both Sam and Dean looked at each other at this point; they had both put her through more than anyone should have to go through. But Cass wasn’t done. “One of the only things that can kill a Sensitive outright is healing from an angel. There’s so much energy involved that it overwhelms their soul and their willingness to live. If I try and heal her, she’ll die right away.”

            Everyone in the room was stunned by the new information. Sam held Evy slightly tighter. Dean stared at her, his mind rolling through all the times that Evy had impressed him through the years. Bobby was shaken too, but a question was burning in his mind. “Why haven’t I ever heard of Sensitives?” Bobby asked. “I’ve never seen or heard any lore about them at all.”

“Sensitives are incredibly rare.” Cass answered. “Only one is born every fifty years. No one is sure why they are the way they are, or why they’re so rare. Even angels revere Sensitives as special.” Cass looked back to Evy and sighed. “Evy’s recovery will be slow and painful. But as long as you three support her, she should make it through this.”

            Due to the heavy medication Jim gave Evy, she slept through most of the first two days after her attack. When she did awaken on the second day, they were met with a new problem. Despite Sam and Jim constantly checking Evy’s bites and cuts, she got a powerful infection. She had a high fever, high enough that she was delirious. Sam and Dean both found themselves sleeping at her bedside, and after two days of no sleep for either of them, agreed to take turns.

            Early in the morning exactly a week after the attack, Evy’s fever finally broke. For the first time in seven days, she woke up with a fairly clear mind. She turned her head slightly and saw Sam sleeping in a chair beside her. When she tried to push herself up, a shooting pain in her arm caused her to groan. It was this groan that woke up Sam, who gently pushed her back down.

“Hey, Cricket. Take it easy, kiddo.”

“Sam? What happened?” Evy asked.

“Uh…” Sam was unsure how to answer. He had not thought about how much to tell her when she woke up, because he had been so worried about whether she would or not. “How much do you remember?”

Evy thought about it for a second before answering. “I remember Lillith attacking me. You and Dean picking me up. I don’t remember much after that. How long has it been?”

Sam sighed. “That was a week ago, honey.”

Evy was stunned. “A week?” “Yep.” Sam nodded. “You’ve been in and out of consciousness for a week. You got an infection a few days ago. But it looks like that’s passed now.” Sam reached over and laid a head against her forehead, relieved to find it was cool now.

“So, what’s wrong with me? What happened after Lillith attacked me?” Evy asked.

“Well, you’ve got a broken leg, your shoulder was dislocated, and you had a big bite on your arm and your leg.” Sam said. “How do they feel?”

“Sore.” Evy said honestly. “I remember Bobby saying something about a doctor. Was I in a hospital?”

“Uh, no.” Sam answered. “That was Jim Reddicker. He’s a friend of Bobby’s. He’s a hunter and a doctor. He’s been here every day to check on you.” “What did he say?” Evy asked.

Sam bit his bottom lip, something he only did when he wanted to hold something back from her.

“Sam?” she insisted. “What are you not telling me?”

            Evy’s heart dropped. She had not seen Sam so worried since she’d been in the coma after being attacked by the Shtriga. Sam took her hand and told her the truth.

“The leg you broke should heal fine. But the bite messed up the muscle in the back of your other leg honey. It’s going to affect the way you walk for a while.”

 

 

            The crushed look on Evy’s face made Sam’s decision for him about whether or not to tell her the entire story. Evy hardly ever opened up to anyone except Sam, and he hoped she would do it now. He knew she was scared, and he wanted to comfort her, let her know that he’d be there for her, that he’d never leave her.

“You want to talk about it?” he asked.

Evy shook her head. “No.”

Sam evaluated her mood. She didn’t seem upset; more in shock than anything else.

Evy noticed him looking. “Maybe later, Sam. Not now. Right now I’m starving. Help me get downstairs please.”

“Okay, sweetie.” Sam said. “Come on.”

            Sam got the crutches that Jim had left for her, and helped her get down the stairs. It was a slow journey, and Evy couldn’t help but hide her frustration. Sam tried to let her lean on him for support, but she none too gently pushed him aside. They reached the kitchen, and found a surprised Bobby and Dean eating breakfast.

“Well hey there, Baitfish.” Bobby said, grinning. “How you feeling?”

“Hey.” Evy answered, smiling.

Dean, whose back had been turned when she entered, suddenly shot up from the table. “Evy.” he breathed, hugging her tightly.

Evy grimaced and pulled away from him. “Ow. Dean, let me go.”

Dean pulled back quickly. “Sorry. Did I hurt you?”

“Calm down.” Evy laughed. “I’m still pretty tender, but I’m okay. Just hungry.”                           

“Alright.” Dean said. “Why don’t you sit down? We’ll make you something.”

“I want to do it.” Evy said immediately.

“Cricket, let Dean help you. You need to rest.” Sam insisted.

Evy suddenly banged her hands on the table. “I’ve been resting for a week!” she yelled. “I need to do this.” A few seconds of complete stillness and silence at the uncharacteristic outburst later, and Evy softened. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, kiddo.” Dean said, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. “Together?”

Evy nodded. “Together.”

            The two of them worked together and made Evy’s breakfast. As she sat down to eat, Jim came back, and stared at Evy for a moment before speaking.

“Do you remember me?” Jim asked as he sat down to examine her.

“I think so.” Evy said. “You’ve been helping take care of me this week, right?”

“Right.” Jim said, smiling. “I’m Jim. How you feeling?”

“Okay.” Evy answered. “Sore.”

“I’m not surprised.” Jim answered. “What’s your pain been like today? Scale of one to ten?”

Evy shrugged. “Four? If I’m doing something, I can tune it out.”

            Jim nodded. Evy did seem better. Her color had returned, and her temperature was down to normal. He adjusted her medication, instructing her to call him if she needed to. Evy asked about walking around and working. Jim chuckled, looking over to Bobby.

“You were right. She is stubborn as an ox.” Jim turned back to Evy. “Stick to research while you’re on the cast. After that, you’re gonna have to get used to walking again, so take your time, okay?”

Evy was reluctant to agree, but did. “Okay.” Jim smiled. “I have to say, I think you’re the strongest patient I’ve ever had. I just can’t believe how quickly you’ve gotten better.”

Evy smiled. “Thanks.” she said.

              Later that night, despite Jim’s warning to take it easy, Evy was struggling to get around the house. As she tried to get up the stairs on her crutches, a sudden shooting pain in her leg caused her to yell and lose her balance. The sound was enough to bring Sam running, who, despite her protests that she was fine, pulled her up and away from the staircase and back into the living room. By the time they were seated, Evy was crying tears of frustration and leaning into Sam, sobbing again.

“Are you hurting worse?” he asked, concerned. “Do you want me to call Jim back?”

Evy, still crying, just shook her head. “Then what? Come on, honey, talk to me. You’re scaring me.” Sam said.

Evy leaned back and away from Sam slightly. “I’m just frustrated. I feel like I can’t help you guys anymore and that scares me.”

Sam’s eyes grew wide at this. “What? Are you kidding me?” Sam leaned forward and took her hand, making Evy look directly into his eyes. “If you think that there is any way me and Dean would have been able to make it this far without you, you’re crazy. Sweetie, you’ve done so much for us, let us help you now.”

Evy actually smiled this time. “You mean that?”

“Yes.” Sam said firmly. “Dean and I would be lost without you.”

Evy leaned forward so Sam could wrap his arms around her again. “I love you, Sammy.”

“I love you, too, Cricket. So much.” He held her for a minute, then promised, “You’re not alone in this. We’ll help you get through it. Me, Dean, Bobby, we’re all here for you. You know that, right?” “I know.” Evy said. “I know.”

“You’re awake.”

              A new voice was suddenly in the room with them, and Evy squealed and jumped, holding onto Sam as she did so. She laughed in relief when she saw it was just Cass. Sam laughed nervously; he had not yet told her everything about her attack. Before he could say anything, Evy asked the question he had hoped she wouldn’t. “Yeah, I’m awake.” she said. “Cass, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.” he answered.

“I’m not trying to be impatient here, but…” Evy pushed herself up so that she was sitting on the edge of the couch, “Why haven’t you healed me?”

Cass looked at Sam, a clear look of annoyance on his face. “You haven’t told her.” he accused.

Sam sighed. He’d really hoped to have this conversation later. “No.”

Evy looked back and forth between Sam and Cass. “Haven’t told me what?” she asked. “Sam, what’s going on?”

Sam glared at Cass for a moment before speaking. “Would you ask Dean and Bobby to come in here please? They need to be a part of this conversation too.”

“Of course.” Cass said. Less than three seconds later, all three of them were back; Cass had one hand on Bobby’s shoulder and one on Dean’s.

“Damn it, Cass!” Dean said angrily. “Little warning next time, please!”

“Yeah.” Bobby grumbled, agreeing with Dean.

Evy would normally have laughed at the sight of Dean and Bobby appearing in front of her out of nowhere, but she was beginning to get annoyed. “What is going on? What are you guys hiding from me?”

Dean and Bobby jumped; they hadn’t even seen that Evy was in the room.

Sam intervened. “Guys, we’re about to tell Evy why Cass couldn’t heal her from the attack.”

              Both of them stopped glaring at Cass and had guilty looks on their faces. Evy demanded again that they tell her what was going on. Sam asked Cass to explain, as he, Dean, and Bobby were still having difficulty wrapping their minds around it. Cass explained in detail to Evy about her being a Sensitive, what it meant, and emphasized how special it made her. Evy said nothing, but her mouth gradually got bigger in surprise as Cass talked. When he was finished, Evy was in shock. She stared at Cass, as if he’d just unveiled the secrets of the universe to her. Sam, worried, grabbed her shoulder and shook her gently.

“Cricket? You okay?” he asked.

Evy nodded. “Oh my God.” she said quietly. “I knew it.”

It was Dean’s turn to be surprised. “What do you mean, you knew?”

Evy snapped out of her shock at the sound of Dean’s voice. “I didn’t know the details like I do now, but I knew something was…different about me.” “Cricket, what do you mean?” Sam pressed. “How did you know?”

Evy took a deep breath. It was time to reveal the only secret she’d ever kept from the three of them. “When I was in the coma, after being attacked by the Shtriga, a Reaper came after me. She tried to take me. I told her no, and she disappeared. Later that night, I said that I wanted to wake up. Twelve hours later, I did.”

“Why didn’t you tell us about this?” Sam asked.

“I didn’t know what to make of it.” Evy answered. “And Dad came back right after that. I asked him what he thought of it.”

“What did Dad say?” Sam asked.

“That…” An unexpected lump formed in Evy’s throat at the memory. “That I was stronger than he gave me credit for.”

“He was right about that.” Dean remarked.

Evy looked at Dean and smiled. “Thanks.” she said simply.

“I’m sorry.” Cass said. He seemed not just apologetic, but sad as well. “I wish that I could heal you. Your recovery is going to be long and hard.”

“But we’ll all be here.” Sam repeated. “We’ll all be here for you. No matter what.”

              Evy took in the four men standing around her, a newfound appreciation for them forming in her heart. She felt better about facing what was ahead of her with them beside her.

“Thanks guys.” She said simply. “Thanks.”

              Unfortunately, Sam took his promise to Evy a little too literally. Over the next week, Evy worked to be able to walk on her own with the crutches. She was able to go short distances before it became too much and she had to sit down. Jim encouraged her to continue trying, that the walking was building her muscle back up. After a few days, she was able to get to the kitchen and a little ways into the salvage yard before stopping. A week after their conversation in the living room and two weeks after her attack, Evy approached Bobby with a surprising request.

“You want me to what?” Bobby asked.

“Find Sam and Dean a case. Please, Bobby.” Evy begged. “I tried to do it myself, but they wouldn’t go.”

“Why do you want them to go so badly?” Bobby asked.

Evy sighed. “Because Sam is babying me and won’t let me do anything, and Dean won’t stop apologizing.”

Bobby laughed. “They love you, Baitfish. But I’ll try to get them something. I take it that means you don’t want to go with them?”

Evy looked slightly guilty and shook her head. “No. I’d rather stay with you.”

Bobby nodded. “Alright, Baitfish. You can stay as long as you want. You know that.”               Evy sighed in relief. She had honestly been expecting Bobby to either tell her she was being silly or that she would have to go back out with them. As much as she hated to be away from Sam and Dean, she felt some distance from them would help her recover faster. Evy thanked Bobby again, walked over to give him a hug, and turned to go back into the house.

              Bobby watched as Evy limped away back towards the house. He smiled; Evy continued to amaze him every time he saw her. He was astounded at her strength, and was proud to call her, as he told others, “his baby girl”. For the first time in a long time, Bobby found himself regretting his decision not to have his own kids. But you do have them, an inner voice told him, and one of them needs you now. Bobby just shook his head and kept working. He found a case for Sam and Dean fairly quickly, and the next day they were, although very reluctantly, on their way out. After double checking that everything was in the car, Sam closed the door and faced Evy.

“Are you sure you’re okay with us leaving?” he asked her for what seemed to Evy like the millionth time.

Evy said, with not a little impatience, “Yes, Sammy, I’ll be fine. I want you guys on the road figuring out where Lillith is. Okay?”

Sam nodded. “Okay, Cricket. Pro,mise me you’ll call. At least once a day. Please?”

“Okay, Sammy.” Evy said. “Promise.”               Sam wrapped Evy into a hug, and Evy found herself wishing for a moment that she didn’t have to let him go. This was the first time since Sam had left to begin Stanford that they would be separated for longer than a few days. When Sam finally did let her go, with a “Love you, Cricket” and a kiss on the ch,eek, he went to sit in the Impala while Dean took his turn with Evy. Just as Evy expected, Dean couldn’t look her in the eye, but kept his eye on her leg, mostly the one with the cast.

“I’m so sorry, baby girl.”

              Evy sighed. She had spent all week explaining to Dean that she didn’t blame him for her attack, but he didn’t believe her. This marked his eight apology in a week, so Eyv decided to try something different.

“Dean, I want you to promise me something.”

Dean raised an eyebrow in surprise, but was happy she finally didn’t try to disagree with him. “Of course, kiddo. Anything.”

“Dean, if you’re really sorry, kill her.” Evy told him, in a tone so dark that Dean didn’t recognize her for a second. “Don’t send her back to hell. Kill her. Don’t let her hurt anyone else.”

Dean nodded. “You got it.”

              Evy hugged Dean, nearly as hard as she had Sam. They said their “I love you”s and Dean climbed into the car and left. Evy watched them until she couldn’t see the Impala anymore. When they were gone, Evy headed back into the house to help Bobby any way she could. It was painful to think about, but she had to find a way to keep her mind off the fact that she would be sidelined there at Bobby’s, possibly for months.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven

              Evy sat in the waiting room of the hospital, her heart beating loud in her chest with worry. She was having a hard time focusing on anything other than seeing Bobby again. Evy had always loved Bobby, but over the last few months they had become closer than ever. Evy felt as if she was having the type of relationship with Bobby that she’d always wished she’d had with John. Now, in the face of possibly losing him, all she wanted was for Sam and Dean to come back quickly so that she wouldn’t be alone. Before she had the chance to worry about it any more, a doctor came out into the waiting room.

“Robert Singer?”

Evy jumped over and headed to the doctor. “How is he?” she asked.

“He’s alive, but he’s still unconscious.” the doctor explained.

“I want to see him.” Evy said right away, starting to walk away from the doctor, thinking that he would step in front of her and lead the way. When he didn’t, Evy turned to find the doctor staring at her. “Doctor…?”

“Are you alright?” he asked, concerned. “You’re limping.”

              Evy bit back a sharp response. Not out of fear of saying something she’d regret, but because she didn’t have time for this. She had to get to Bobby. She had learned to block out staring and comments about her limping, and most of the time she didn’t even think about. But the doctor didn’t know, so she tried her best to be as patient with him as she could possibly be.

“It’s an old injury.” she explained. “I’m fine. Doctor, please, where’s Bobby?”

The doctor seemed reluctant, but nodded. “This way. Come on.”

              The doctor led Evy down the hall to a hospital room. A nurse was there, examining Bobby, and when Evy and the doctor walked in, she greeted them with a warm smile. Evy didn’t respond to her, just walked next to Bobby’s bed. She fought back tears, and grabbed his hand for a moment, before taking the chair off the wall and pulling it next to Bobby’s bed. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, remembering that she still had not updated Sam and Dean.

I’m in Bobby’s room now. He’s still unconscious, but stable. When will you guys be back?

              When she finished the message, Evy put her phone to the side. She settled back in the chair, and for the first time she realized just how tired she actually was. Evy looked at Bobby again and gave him a pep talk before going to sleep.

“Alright, buddy. You have to pull through this, whether you want to or not. You’re the only dad I have now, and I won’t forgive you if you leave me too. I love you, Bobby.”

              Just as Evy was about to go back to sleep her phone dinged. It was Sam. On the way back now. We’ve got some things to talk about. Call us if stuff gets worse. Love you Cricket. Evy responded with a quick Love you too and closed her eyes attempting to sleep. Her mind ran over the last few hours. The worst of it rang in her ears and made her heart ache-Bobby telling Sam to lose his number “if we make it out of this”. She heard her father’s voice echoing virtually the same thing years earlier. Evy wanted more than anything to wake Bobby and ask him if he really meant it, but realized that she can’t stand the possibility that he might have. So, rather than face that possibility, Evy finally drifted off to sleep.

              Dean and Sam returned some time later. When they walked in, they accidentally woke Evy, who was surprised to see Bobby awake on the bed. Sam and Dean started to talk about what had happened while they were exploring John’s old storage unit, but Evy’s mind was on something else. She had previously decided that she wanted to go back on the road with Sam and Dean, but she was now rethinking that possibility. Bobby would need help now, more so than ever. Evy felt like she owed him after helping her get over her attack. Evy had had nightmares, sometimes multiple ones a night, and Bobby had been there every single time she’d woken up. He’d sat there with her, assuring her she was okay and that he was there for her. He had encouraged her after her cast had come off to walk at her own pace, and not rush her recovery. He had never allowed her to get lax, however; if she wasn’t working on getting better, she was doing research, sometimes for him, sometimes for Sam and Dean, sometimes for other hunters that she’d never met before. She was always focusing on getting better, or working. Because of that, Evy had gotten to the point she was at. She was still in pain most days, mostly in the back of her bitten leg, but if she was working and focused on something, most of the time she could block it out. Sam’s voice shook her out of her thoughts. He was standing next to her, looking down at her, obviously waiting on her to answer a question that she hadn’t heard.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear you.” Evy admitted.

“I asked if you were ready to come back out with us.” Sam asked.

Evy felt a stab of guilt when she saw that Sam looked excited at the possibility of having her back. “No.” she whispered. “I’m sorry, Sammy. No. At least not until Bobby’s better.”

Evy barely had time to register the disappointment on Sam’s face before Bobby protested. “The hell you’re staying behind!” he reprimanded her sharply. “You need to go back out with them, Baitfish.”

“Bobby!” Evy cut him off, and in an unusual display of stubbornness, told him “Don’t argue with me. It won’t do any good.”

              Sam and Dean were wide eyed in surprise at Evy’s statement of defiance. Sam, who only a moment earlier been so disappointed that she wasn’t coming back out with them, was now fighting back a smile. Dean wasn’t bothering to hide his. Bobby attempted to use his best parental authority voice, but found that it was too late now.

“You are not staying.” he declared. “You’re leaving when they do. You’re ready, and you’re going.”

“Get up and make me leave, old man.” Evy retorted.

              Dean actually snorted at that, and Sam chuckled. After shooting them both nasty looks, Bobby turned back to Evy, eyes narrowed in mock scorn. Evy was decidedly unafraid, and showed it with a lopsided grin that she only got when being mischievous.

“You know,” Bobby said, eyes locked on Evy, “you used to be a sweet kid.”

              Evy got off the chair slowly, walked to the edge of Bobby’s bed, and stood next to it for a moment before speaking. She leaned on the bed with her hands and grinned so hard that Bobby couldn’t help but smile himself.

“What are you talking about?” Evy asked. “I’m adorable.”

Bobby laughed as Evy kissed his cheek. “I love you, kid.”

“I love you, too.” Evy stood up. “I’m gonna stay with them tonight and come back in the morning.”

“Alright, Baitfish. Sleep tight.”

Dean said goodbye to Bobby and turned to leave, Evy following close behind him. When she heard Bobby call Sam back, she stayed next to the door to listen. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard Bobby tell Sam that “it was the demon talking.” So Bobby hadn’t meant what he said, and he wasn’t chasing Sam away. Evy followed Sam and Dean down to the parking lot, where the conversation got decidedly less upbeat than it had been in Bobby’s room.

“Do you have something to say to me, Dean?”

              Evy’s heart sank. The confrontation she had been dreading for the last year was about to happen. Evy half listened to what Dean told Sam, but mostly rolled over in her mind the last year. She didn’t respond to what Dean told Sam, but found herself wiping tears away. As Dean talked, she tried to sort out her own feelings, as she had no doubt that Sam would want to talk to her next. She had a brief flashback to the night that the entire situation blew out of control.

              Evy sat in Bobby’s living room, relieved that Sam had stopped screaming, at least temporarily. Dean had forbidden her from going anywhere near the bunker, afraid that Sam would be successful in convincing her to let him go. Evy had no problem with that, as she wasn’t able to loot at Sam at the moment anyway. While she had spent the last few months pretending everything was okay, she realized that she had actually been deeply hurt by him. He had left almost as soon as they’d buried Dean, and gone off to do only he knew what. He had left her at Bobby’s, and only had minimal contact with her the entire four months Dean had been gone. Evy had wanted to confront Sam many times about his behavior, but, not wanting to put Dean through any more than he’d already been through, had just pretended that everything was okay and moved on. Then, when she’d been attacked by Lillith, she had been distracted by finding out she was and trying to learn more about it.

              Now Evy realized that that had been a big mistake. She felt guilty. She didn’t know exactly when Sam had started using the demon blood, but she’d had a feeling it had been while he was gone after Dean had died. Maybe if she had said something to Dean in the first few weeks that she had been on the road with them after Dean’s return, or said something to Bobby, maybe things would be different now. She had said something to Dean about her feelings the night before, and Dean had tried to assure her that “It’s not your fault, kiddo. It’s not your fault.” She hadn’t said anything since then, but she still felt responsible.

              Before Evy could think anything more about it, she sees Sam suddenly run out the front door. Evy followed behind him, cursing herself for moving so much slower than him. When she did catch up with Sam, she stopped, panicked. Bobby was holding a gun on Sam, trying to persuade him to come back inside on his own so he wouldn’t have to use it. Evy approached slowly, hands up in the air so as not to startle Bobby.

“Sammy. Please come back. We’re trying to help you.”

              Sam looked hesitant for a moment. Bobby was holding his breath, hoping that Evy could get Sam to do what he couldn’t. But before either of them knew what was happening, Bobby was lying on the ground, unconscious, and Evy was next to him, nursing a now split lip. Sam had knocked her down. The fact that he’d done that shocked her more than the fall did. Evy took one last look at Sam. She thought, for a split second, that she saw a glimpse of the old Sammy, the one that held her tight that night years earlier before they left together for Stanford. Before she got a chance to try and beg him to come back again, Sam was gone.

              Evy shifted uncomfortably, her emotions still jumbled. What she couldn’t get past was the fact that Sam left her. She could get past the demon blood loss, get past the fact that he was with Ruby, get past the lies. Sam had already apologized, more than once, for knocking her down. She honestly didn’t care about that. She had suffered far worse things than a split lip, and it barely even phased her. Now, as she heard Sam tell Dean again, “I’m sorry.” she prepared to tell Sam, finally, exactly how she felt. Dean started to turn and head into the car, but Evy grabbed his hand, pleading silently for him not to leave. Dean leaned back against the car again. Sam, who was near tears now, asked Evy the same question he’d asked Dean.

“Cricket? Is there anything you want to tell me?”

Evy, who had been staring at the ground as Dean and Sam talked, looked up for the first time. “Do you remember what you told me that night that we left for Stanford together?”

Sam was thrown by the question. “What? What do you mean?”

“You told me you’d never leave me.” Evy said, and the effect on Sam was instantaneous. He looked as though Evy had reached over and slapped him in the face. Evy continued while he was still too stunned to talk. “When you, and Dad, and Dean, weren’t talking, I used to wonder if they still cared about me. But I never, never, doubted that you did. Not until now.”

              Evy looked away from Sam and back down at the ground. She was crying herself now. Sam was rocking back and forth on the heel of his feet. Evy knew he was fighting the urge to hug her, probably because he wasn’t sure whether or not she’d push him away. Evy wasn’t sure herself at that point. Evy felt Dean place a hand on her back, and it had the effect of restoring her courage. Evy looked back up at Sam and finally confessed what was really on her mind.

“But what really bothers me…” Evy said, wiping tears away from her face. What she said next tore Sam’s heart into pieces. “You left me. You left me, Sammy. Not once, but over and over. Dean was dead. Dad was dead. I needed you more than ever. And you waited until I was asleep and dumped me at Bobby’s without even saying goodbye. Then you left me and Dean for Ruby. And now I can’t help but wonder when you’re going to leave us again.”

“Cricket…” Sam said, reaching out a hand to try and comfort her.

              Evy pulled back from Sam. She didn’t pull back sharply, but enough that it made Sam realize that he had damaged his relationship with her, most likely permanently. That thought brought tears to Sam’s own eyes now.

“What can I do?” he asked, hearbroken.

“Nothing, Sammy.” Evy answered. “Nothing.”

              Evy turned and walked back towards the Impala. She climbed into the front passenger seat, buckled her seatbelt, and turned so that she was facing the window. Dean climbed in beside her. He said nothing, just started the car and drove away. A mile down the road, Dean was startled to hear a soft sniffling sound from Evy’s seat. Dean looked over at Evy’s seat and saw she was crying softly. Dean reached over and took her hand. Evy looked at him, her big watery eyes a stark reminder to Dean of what he called Sam’s “puppy eyes”.

“Come here.” Dean said quietly.

              Evy unbuckled her seatbelt and moved over so she was sitting next to Dean. Dean put one arm around her shoulder while continuing to drive with the other. Evy wrapped both arms around Dean’s waist, and the two sat like that until Dean found them a room. Neither quite knew what to say, so both went to bed without saying anything. As Evy drifted off to sleep, she found herself wondering if her relationship with Sam would ever be the same again. That thought was enough to start her crying again, and she cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

Fluff Break #4

              Bobby shut the book in front of him in frustration. No matter how hard he had been trying, he couldn’t find an answer to what had been killing people a few states over. Just as he picked up the phone to call the hunter who needed the info he was looking for, a knock at his door startled him. Though it was only ten at night, so it wasn’t too late, Bobby was still nervous. He hadn’t been expecting anyone, and he hardly ever got social visitors. Bobby approached the door cautiously. His tense shoulders dropped in relief when he saw who it was at the door.

“You ‘bout scared the crap out of me, Winchester.”

“Sorry, Singer.”

              John Winchester stood at the door, a weary, broken smile on his face. Though he was a good four inches taller than Bobby, John knew that he didn’t intimidate the older man one bit. Bobby shook his head and allowed John to come in. Behind John came fourteen year old Dean and ten year old Sam, who was holding in his arms the newest Winchester, five month old Evelyn. When Bobby closed the door, Sam was offering the baby to him.

“You wanna hold her, uncle Bobby?”

              Bobby’s first instinct was to decline. Though he now had experience taking care of kids with Sam and Dean, they had both been older when John first met them. Bobby had never once taken care of a baby, much less one that wasn’t walking or talking yet. But, Bobby thought to himself, damn if she wasn’t the cutest kid he’d seen in a long time. She was awake, wasn’t crying, and was looking at him with the biggest damn puppy eyes he’d ever seen. Five months old and she already had the puppy eyes that Sam had worked on for years. So, before he could protest, Bobby found himself reaching for the baby.

“Sam, Dean, start getting ready for bed.” John said.

“Yes, sir.” Dean said, heading upstairs with one of the bags they had brought in from the car.

“But dad…” Sam started, but was cut off by John.

“Sam, go upstairs, get yourself ready for bed. I’ll bring Evy up in a few minutes, you can put her to sleep then.” John pointed up the stairs and a very disappointed Sam started up them.

“What was all that about?” Bobby asked, looking up from Evy for the first time since they’d all come inside.

John smiled. “It seems that little miss sunshine there will not fall asleep for anyone but Sammy.”

Bobby laughed. “Really?” John found a seat on Bobby’s couch and ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah.” John looked back to Bobby and smiled. “Every time I try or Dean tries she either screams her head off or just sits there and stares at you until Sam gets there.”

“What are you laughing at?” Bobby asked as he went over to join John.

“You with a baby.” John answered. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

“Screw you, Winchester.” Bobby said.

              Bobby propped his leg up on the coffee table awkwardly and sat Evy against them. Evy watched him closely, and John grinned. Bobby had seen Evy once before, but not since she was born. Evy settled back and continued to stare at Bobby. Bobby then made a statement that would stick around forever.

“Well you ain’t no bigger than a piece of fish bait, are you?”

John snorted. “Yeah, that won’t stick around.”

              Bobby made another face at John, then turned back to Evy, who was now attempting peek-a-boo with him. That continued for a few more minutes until an impatient and protective Sam came back downstairs, now in PJs.

“She needs to go to sleep, dad.”

“Sam…” a tired and impatient John started to say.

              Bobby knew Sam was right, and in an attempt to defuse what could turn into a stick situation, jumped in.

“It’s all right, Sam. You can come get her.”

              Sam smiled and made his way into the room. Before he took Evy from Bobby, Bobby picked her up and took a good long look at her one more time. Damn it, Bobby thought. Less than thirty minutes and this kid’s already got me by the balls. Bobby kissed her cheek and tickled her, eliciting a belly laugh that made Bobby smile too.

“Good night, Sam. Good night, Baitfish.”              

Ignoring the crinkled noses on the faces of Sam and John, Bobby stood up to go into the kitchen and make himself something to eat. A thought crossed his mind, one that would never share with John. Guess you got three kids now, Singer. Shaking his head, Bobby proceeded to make himself a sandwich, wondering what he was going to do the next day with Evy when she woke up.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen

              Evy stood leaning against the side of the Impala, passively listening to Sam talk with Bobby. They were saying goodbye, and Evy wanted nothing more than to pin Sam down and prevent him from leaving. But she knew she couldn’t do that. Sam had to face Lucifer, had to fight him and end the upcoming Apocalypse. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. she thought to herself. Evy heard Sam ask Dean and Bobby to give the two of them a few minutes alone. Sam walked around the side of the car and stood next to her, but Evy found herself unable to look him in the eye. She knew it was going to be the last time, possibly forever, that she’d talk to him, and she wasn’t ready to face that yet. Sam grabbed her chin and gently pulled her face up to look at him.

“Talk to me, please.”

              Evy couldn’t take his attempt at comforting her and shook her head, turning away from him again. Sam sighed heavily; he had known this was coming, but had not looked forward to it. He tried again to reach her.

“Cricket, I’m sorry. I don’t want to do this, but I don’t see much choice in it.”

Evy turned to face him. “I’m not mad at you, Sammy.”

“You’re not?” Sam asked, surprised.

“No.”

              Sam noticed she was crying, and had a brief flashback to the night he left for Stanford the first time. Evy gave him a sad smile.

“No, I’m not mad at you. I’m proud of you.”

“You’re…” Sam wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. “You’re proud of me?”

Evy nodded. “Yeah. This is a brave thing you’re doing, and I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, honey.” Sam said. He was stunned.

“I feel like I just got you back.” Evy said, her voice breaking.

              Sam nodded, not quite sure how to respond. It had been a few months since the confrontation while Bobby was in the hospital. Though Evy had eventually forgiven him, Sam had never stopped feeling guilty over deserting her. He had sworn to her that he’d never do it again, and now he found himself breaking his own promise. Sam opened his mouth to tell her “I’m sorry, baby” for what felt like the millionth time, Evy suddenly wrapped both arms around his waist and squeezed him. Sam could feel her shaking, and his resolve crumbling. He took a breath, and got down on his knees in order to talk to her face to face.

“I love you, Cricket. No matter what, I love you more than anything else. You know that, right?”

Evy nodded, unable to say anything because of the growing lump in her throat.

“I’m so proud of you, Cricket. You’re so strong.”

              Sam brushed back a stray hair out of Evy’s face. Evy smiled at the compliment, but still didn’t say anything. As he’d done many times before, Sam took his thumb and wiped the tears away that were still streaming down her face.

“I want you to promise me that no matter what happens today, you’ll keep going. Live your life. Go to school when you’re ready. Meet a guy, get married. I don’t care, just do what you want to do. Okay?”

“Okay, Sammy.” Evy nodded. “I promise.”

“Okay. I love you, kiddo.”

“I love you, too.” Evy said, embracing Sam again.

              As she and Sam hugged, Evy looked towards the building where Sam and Dean were about to go confront Lucifer. Evy felt guilt eating at her over what she was about to do, but just as Sam felt he had to go confront Lucifer, she had to do this as well.

“Hey, Sammy?” “Yeah.” Sam said, pulling back from her.

“I’m sorry.” she said pitifully.

“Sorry for what?” Sam asked.

Evy glanced towards the building and back again. “I can’t go. I can’t watch this. I’m sorry.”

              Sam shushed her, placing a hand on the side of her face to calm her. Evy grabbed his hand with both of hers, trying to hold onto him for a few more precious seconds. Sam kissed her forehead gently.

“It’s okay, Cricket. It’s okay.”

              As Sam left to go prepare for the confrontation, Evy felt painfully guilty about not going with him. She realized that, if their positions were reversed, he wouldn’t leave her side. She felt that way as she watched Sam and Dean leave, and stood down below in the street with Cass and Bobby waiting on them to come out. Bobby attempted to comfort her, but Evy didn’t respond. She didn’t even realize it, but she was holding her breath, waiting on Sam to come out. Her heart ached when, after a bright flash of light, Dean came out alone. She walked along down the street with the group, silently agreeing with Cass and Bobby, who claimed that there was no other reason to keep fighting. Dean eventually put her back into the Impala, where Evy laid down in the backseat. She was aware of Dean having a conversation with someone, but her mind was far away, thinking about happier times. Mostly happier times with Sam and Jess at Stanford, the last time she remembered being perfectly at peace with her life. Dean hung up the phone and turned to her.

“Hey, kiddo. We’re heading to Lawrence. You want to sit up front with me?”

              Evy shook her head no. She couldn’t even look at the front passenger seat, feeling like Sam should be there. She just stared out the window. Dean sighed and nodded. He could see Evy starting to shut down, the same way she had when Sam had been killed years earlier. But Dean had to get to Stull, so he turned around to start the trip. Evy reached down under Sam’s seat, pulling out the blanket she kept there, wrapped herself up and drifted off into a fitful sleep.

              Evy awoke a few hours later, when Dean blasted the radio. She had been dreaming about Sam, and for a split second was confused about why Sam wasn’t there. When she remembered, Evy forced herself to get up and look around. Dean had arrived at Stull Cemetery, and Evy’s heart stopped for a second when she saw Lucifer, now possessing Sam, staring at the car coming into the graveyard. When Dean stopped the car, he grabbed her arm before getting out.

“You can get out,” he said, “but stay close to me, okay?”

              Evy nodded and stepped out with Dean. She stayed close to the car. She couldn’t remember ever being so afraid. It broke her heart; normally when she was scared, her first thought would be to go to Sam. But here he was, in a way, standing right in front of her, and Evy couldn’t go to him. The monster in front of them had Sam’s body, Sam’s voice, even some of Sam’s same behaviors; but it was not Sam. When Dean was unsuccessful reaching Sam, Evy gathered her courage and attempted it herself. She stepped away from the car and folded her arms across her chest.

“Sammy.” Lucifer, Dean, and Michael all turned towards her expectantly. Evy had eyes only on Sam. “Listen to me. I love you. Please fight him. You’re strong too, okay? You can beat him, Sammy.”

              Lucifer smiled at her, but it was far from the warm, caring smile that Sam often gave her. It sent a chill up her spine, and she could see he was about to reply to her when a loud call came out from the other side of the cemetery.

“Hey! Assbutt!”

              Castiel suddenly came from around the corner, throwing something towards Michael. Evy, who was now standing closest to Michael, ducked with her arms on top of her head. Michael’s scream, then an eerie silence.

“Assbutt?” Dean asked Cass. Had the situation not been so literally earth shattering at that moment, Evy might have laughed.

“He’ll be back. And upset. But you’ve got your five minutes.” Castiel responded.

              Evy smiled at him in gratitude. Castiel had always hated hurting other angels, and he’d done that just so she and Dean could talk to Sam. Castiel was smiling back at her when she heard Lucifer’s chilling voice all over again.

“Castiel. Did you just Molotov my brother with holy fire?”

Evy felt another surge of fear. Castiel was backing away from Michael slowly, and when he answered, his voice shook. “Uh, no.”

              Before Eyv could process it, Lucifer had snapped his fingers and disintegrated Cass. Evy stood frozen and shaking in fear. Lucifer turned to Dean and spoke again, the evil in his voice sending shivers down Evy’s spine.

“You know. I tried to be nice. For Sammy’s sake.” Lucifer took a hold of Dean’s shirt and pulled him close. “But you, and the little brat over there, have been nothing but a pain in my ass.”   

              Lucifer hauled off and landed a mighty punch on Dean’s face, knocking him to the ground. Evy shouted in fear, not used to the feeling of someone knocking Dean down. Usually it was the other way around. A shot rang off, and suddenly Lucifer was bleeding from the chest; he turned around, and another shot hit him. Bobby was holding his gun and shrugging, as if saying well, it was worth a try. But directly after that, Bobby’s neck spun, the bones snapping, and Bobby hit the ground, dead.

“NO!” Dean and Evy shouted at the same time.

              Evy’s trance broke, and she tried to run to Bobby, but before she’d taken her second step, she was being hurled backwards through the air and slammed into the side of the Impala. She was unable to move, and the more she struggled, the tighter her invisible bonds became.  Lucifer seemed to be holding Dean in place too as he walked around to face Evy. He crouched in front of her, seeming to study her for a moment. She fought the urge to spit in his face when Lucifer started stroking her cheek, reminding herself that, even though he couldn’t speak to her, this was still Sam in front of her. Suddenly Lucifer sighed and started to speak to her.

“You know, you’re brother’s in here right now.” He said coldly. “He’s screaming at me, trying to get me to tell you something, but I’m not sure if I should. Do you want to hear it?”

              Evy debated it. He would no doubt lie to her. But if Sam really was trying to tell her something, and she didn’t hear him, she knew she’d regret it. She could hear Dean struggling a few feet away from her, but she couldn’t worry about him right now.

“If he wants to tell me something so bad, let him tell me.” Evy said.

Lucifer laughed. “Nice try, kid. Not happening. You want to know or not?”

“What is it?” she asked quietly, her hateful glare not softening at all.

              Lucifer sighed. In his own twisted, twisted way, he was trying to help her. Even Lucifer could see that Evy was special. He knew what she was, and for some odd reason, unknown even to him, he had no desire to really hurt her. So he started with what Sam really did want her to know.

“He cares about you. He does.”

Evy bit back a retort of I know that, you evil son a bitch.

“But he is done with you.” Lucifer said cruelly. “You are nothing more to him than a whiny child who has been a thorn in his side since you were born.”

              For a moment, a brief moment, Evy allowed a flash of hurt to cross her face. She could hear Dean screaming at her not to listen to him, but the thought that Sam might actually feel that way devastated her. But one look in Lucifer’s eyes told her what she needed to know.

“You’re lying. Sammy loves me.”

Lucifer laughed cruelly. “I might not be able to kill you,” he said, leaning so close to Evy’s face that she could feel his breath, “but when I’m done with your brother over there, I’m gonna make you wish you were dead.”

              With that, Lucifer started to attack Dean viciously. Evy screamed and screamed, begging him to stop, but the attack seemed to go on forever. Dean wasn’t fighting back, just as afraid as Evy was of hurting Sam. In a last ditch, desperate attempt, Evy tried reaching Sam. She screamed at the top of her lungs,

“Sammy, please! Let him go! Please!”

              Suddenly Sam stopped, his fist in the air above Dean. He stayed frozen for a moment, and Evy stole a glance at Dean. She shuddered at the extent of his injuries, and a paralyzing feeling of helplessness seized her. Before she could say or do anything else, though, she felt her invisible bonds tying her to the car come loose. Evy scrambled towards Dean and grabbed his arm, holding on tight. Dean was weak, but he squeezed her hand. Sam was struggling to get control of himself. When he did, he opened the portal and turned around to take one last look at Evy.

“I love you.” Evy mouthed to him, unable to speak.

              Sam nodded and started to respond, before Michael jumped on him and started to wrestle him away. Evy clutched Dean tightly, while they both stared in horrified fascination at Sam falling into the hole with Michael. The hole closed, and Sam was gone.

              Evy slipped back into a state of shock. She crawled over with Dean to where Sam had fallen, and the two of them stared down at it for what seemed like hours. Evy was in such shock that when Cass suddenly appeared behind them and cured Dean, she didn’t move. Dean finally coaxed her back to the Impala, where she climbed back into the backseat, drifting off to sleep again.

              Evy woke a few hours later. She felt arms around her, lifting her up, and for one brief, glorious moment, she thought it was Sam. When she realized it wasn’t, she jumped.

“Calm down, kiddo, it’s just me.” Dean said, laying her down in an unfamiliar bed.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“We’re at Lisa’s, honey. Go to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.” Dean said, pulling a blanket close to her.

Without thinking, Evy whispered, “Sammy.”

              Dean stopped cold. His heart was aching, not only for himself, but for Evy too. He knew that she would be a wreck for the next few days, at least, and he hated that a part of him was grateful for it. It gave him a much needed distraction, something to do to keep his mind off the loss of his baby brother. Voice breaking, he told her,

“Sammy’s gone, kiddo.”

              Dean expected her to cry again, but instead she just nodded and pulled the blanket closer to her. She told Dean that she was going to sleep. Dean whispered “Good night, kiddo” to her and left the room. He was worried about her, but hoped that she would talk when she was ready. After Dean left, flashbacks began to run through Evy’s head. The sound of Sam’s laugh. The feeling of sitting in his lap, giggling as he tickled her. Being no older than three and Sam picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder for a piggyback ride. Hugging and kissing her and telling her he loved her. Holding her close when she was crying. She cried herself to sleep, bittersweet memories lingering on the edge of her brain and broken heart. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen

              The sound of Evy’s laughter rang through the kitchen, and it was music to Dean’s ears. It had been exactly three weeks since the confrontation at Stull Cemetery, and Evy was doing great. Dean had expected her to have a hard time adjusting to living life at Lisa’s, but the opposite seemed to be true. After a couple of days of being a bit standoffish, Evy had begun to interact more and more with Lisa and Ben. She had even begun looking for a job to occupy her time. Dean had brought up the idea a week after arriving about applying to colleges. Evy’s only response had been a short “no, not yet” and an abrupt change of subject. Later, feeling slightly guilty, she’d approached Dean and explained that she wanted to go, but just wasn’t ready. With Sam gone, the last thing she wanted to do was move away from him too. She’d promised to tell him when she did feel ready, and they’d do it together. Dean had nodded, hugged her, and promised her again that they would be okay.

“Evy, will you help me finish my science project?” Ben asked as Evy got up to take her plate to the sink.

“Sure thing, short stuff.” Evy answered, ruffling Ben’s hair. Turning to Lisa, she asked, “You need help cleaning up?”

“Please.” Lisa answered. “Help him finish that thing before bedtime.”

              Evy laughed again and let Ben lead her up the stairs. Dean watched them go, then helped Lisa clear the table. When they approached the sink to start on the dishes, Lisa remarked,

“She is doing so much better.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah. I was worried about her for a minute.”

Lisa laughed. “Just a minute?”

Grinning, Dean answered, “Okay. Her whole life.”

“You’re gonna make a great dad one day.” Lisa said, one hand on the counter and one on her hip.

Dean grabbed Lisa around the waist, pulling her close. “Thank you.” He said sincerely.

“For what?” Lisa asked.

“Letting us both stay here.” Dean answered.

Lisa cracked a grin. “Hey, she keeps babysitting Ben for free, she can stay as long as she wants.”

Dean chuckled, but told her again, “Seriously. I don’t know where we’d be right now if it weren’t for you.”

              Lisa and Dean shared a kiss, then proceeded to work on the dishes. They worked slowly, Dean splashing water on Lisa when she wasn’t looking. Twenty minutes later, they were all done, and were heading upstairs when the phone rang. Lisa picked it up, and was surprised when a man on the other end asked for Evy. Lisa told Dean she’d be right up, and took the phone to an equally surprised Evy.

“Hello?...Oh, hi, Peter….Sure, I’d love to….9am, okay….Thank you!....Oh, sure….” Evy blushed, and Lisa grinned at her, intrigued. “Um, yeah. I’d like that….I’ll meet you there…Okay, you too. Bye.” Evy hung up the phone and handed it back to Lisa.

“What was that?” Lisa asked.

Evy, grinning, turned to Ben. “I’ll be right back, okay, buddy.” “Okay.” Ben answered.

Evy and Lisa walked into the bedroom that Lisa and Dean shared. “I got the job.” Evy said.

“The one at the bookstore?” Lisa asked.

Evy nodded.

“Okay, that sounded like more than a job offer.” Lisa remarked.

If possible, Evy blushed even deeper. “He asked me out.” Lisa’s mouth dropped open. “The guy that interviewed you?”

Evy nodded again. “Is that weird?”

Lisa shrugged and answered matter of factly, “Well, he was cute. Are you going?” Evy didn’t answer at first. “I want to.” She admitted. “But…” “You don’t want to tell Dean?” Lisa guessed.

“Exactly.” Evy said.

“Don’t worry.” Lisa said. “I’ll cover for you. Tell Dean you’re working all day.” Evy smiled. “Thanks, Lisa.”

              Evy and Lisa walked back out into the hallway, giggling about Evy’s upcoming date, when they were met by Dean. Evy and Lisa were so absorbed in their own conversation that they both collided with Dean. Dean asked them,

“Hey, what are you two doing?”

Evy and Lisa giggled again. Lisa covered with, “Evy got the job at the bookstore.” “That’s great, kiddo!” Dean said, clapping her shoulder. “You excited?”

Evy turned to look at Lisa, still smirking. “Yeah.” She said, nodding. She started to walk back towards Ben’s room. “Really, really, really excited.”

              Lisa was laughing again, and Dean was about to ask if something was going on, before something caught his attention. Evy had taken her phone off. In the space of less than five seconds, Dean watched her go from excited to devastated. Lisa noticed too, and she and Dean looked at each other, unsure what to do.

“What’s wrong, kiddo?”

              Evy turned her phone around for him to see, and Dean’s heart broke all over again. He had thought that Evy was doing so good, but obviously she was hurting more than she was letting him see. The name “Sammy” was emblazoned on the front of her phone, and it was still ringing. Evy had gotten so excited about her new job that she’d tried to call Sam, forgetting temporarily that he wouldn’t be there. Dean reached an arm out to comfort her, but Evy just shook her head and pushed him away. Tears were brimming on the edge of her eyes. She turned away from them and towards the wall for a second, then back around.

“I’m going to bed.” She said simply, walking past the two of them.

“Okay, kiddo.” Dean said quietly. “Good night.”

              Evy quickly went into the bedroom at the far end of the hall. Dean wished he could do something, say something, anything, to make her feel better, but he knew it would do no good. While she wouldn’t turn him away, he knew she wouldn’t talk to him right now. Lisa grabbed his arm to try and tell him that everything would be okay in the morning, but the moment was broken by Ben’s voice.

“Where’s Evy?” he said. “She’s supposed to help me.”

“Ben….” Dean started, annoyed; he had more important things on his mind. He stopped, though, realizing that this wasn’t Ben’s fault. Taking a deep breath, he turned back to Ben. “Evy’s not feeling good. Come on, I’ll help you.”

              Back in her room, Evy had laid down on her bed without changing clothes. She still had her phone out, flipping through pictures that she’d taken. One of them in particular caught her attention. She had taken it a few weeks before Sam had taken his tumble with Lucifer. They were in yet another crappy side of the road diner, but unlike most nights, they weren’t talking about anything supernatural related. Dean had cracked some sort of stupid joke, and Evy had started laughing, which had started Sam laughing, and they’d all been unable to stop the entire night. Laughter had become rare in the weeks leading up to Sam’s….Evy still wasn’t sure whether or not to call it Sam’s death. Evy changed the background on her phone to Sam’s photo, then placed it on her nightstand so she could look at it. As she laid down and stared at it, she could almost hear and feel Sam in the room with her. Hear him telling her good night, and feel his long, strong arms folding her into a hug. Feeling more tears brimming on the edge of her eyes, Evy whispered a sad,

“Good night, Sammy. I love you.”

              The next morning, everyone was going about their normal routine, getting ready for jobs and school. Ben’s bus was due at the house in fifteen minutes. Lisa called up the stairs, reminding him to be at the front door waiting in no more than five minutes. When he did come back down the stairs, Ben approached Dean, concerned.

“There’s something wrong with Evy.” He said simply.

Dean’s heart sank. “What do you mean?”

“I heard her crying when I came out from brushing my teeth.” Ben explained. “I knocked on her door but she didn’t answer. I went in to check on her and she was sitting on her bed like she’s scared of something. I asked her if she was okay and if she wanted me to come get you.”

“Okay. What did she say?” Dean asked.

Ben shuffled, unsure how to tell him the rest of it.

“Ben, what did she say?”

“She didn’t know who I was.” Ben explained, and sounded slightly hurt. “She said, ‘Who are you?’”

              Dean looked upstairs sadly. He had never dreaded talking to anyone more than he did right now. Absentmindedly, Dean told Ben to have a good day at school, then walked silently up the stairs towards Evy’s room. Sure enough, Evy was sitting on her bed, just as Ben had described, looking around the room wildly. Dean asked her from the doorway,

“Hey, kiddo, you okay?”

              Evy jumped at the sound of Dean’s voice. She didn’t seem to recognize him at first. Dean approached her slowly, not wanting to scare her even more than she already was. She didn’t back away from him, which Dean took as a good sign.

“Dean?” she asked quietly.

Relieved, Dean finally sat at the edge of her bed. “Yeah, baby, it’s me.”

“Dean, where are we?” Evy asked.

Totally confused now, Dean had no idea what to do. “What are you talking about, sweetie? We’re at Lisa and Ben’s.”

Evy asked him something that totally floored Dean. “Where’s Daddy?”

Dean was unable to think of another explanation for the out of left field question. “Honey, how old are you?”

“Eighteen.” Evy answered.

“Dean, can I talk to you in the hallway?”

              Dean was slightly annoyed by Lisa’s interruption, but as he couldn’t figure out what to do about Evy right this second, Dean followed her. Lisa didn’t waste time.

“We need to take her to the hospital. Now.”

“This might be something supernatural. I should call Bobby.” Dean objected.

“Dean, I really don’t think it is. I think she’s having some kind of breakdown.” Lisa said.

Dean sighed, looking back in towards Evy.

“Think about it. Think about what Castiel said when she was attacked.”

Dean realized she was right, though he didn’t want to admit it. “Oh, baby…” he said quietly, though not so quietly that Lisa didn’t hear him.

“Hey.” Lisa said, grabbing Dean’s face and making him look at her. “Don’t panic, okay? She needs help. More than you can give her. But let’s take her to the hospital and find out what’s going on, okay?”

              Dean stared at her, grateful that he had opened up to her about everything. Dean walked back into Evy’s room, helped her out to the car, and drove her to the hospital. The three of them spent all day there, with Evy being examined by a couple different doctors. She got no better throughout the day. Around three, Lisa left to get Ben from school, and Dean was alone. He paced the entire hospital floor, and just as he was about to demand to see Evy, a nurse came to retrieve him. She led him down the hall to an office. The office was marked, “Dr. Kennedy, Head of Mental Health.” The doctor reminded Dean of his father. An older man, face full of facial hair, deep voice that immediately caught the attention of whoever was in the room with them. “Mr. Winchester?” he asked, holding out a hand towards Dean.

“Yeah.” Dean said, shaking his hand. “Call me Dean.”

“Alright, Dean.” The doctor answered, sitting down at the chair behind his desk. “I’m Allen.”

“What’s going on with my sister?” Dean asked immediately. “We’ve been here all day. I haven’t heard anything…” “I’ve just examined her.” Dr. Kennedy said. “I’m sorry about not coming to talk to you. I promise I will explain, but I need to ask you a couple questions first.”

“Okay.” Dean said, waiting.

“Did Evelyn have any kind of severe trauma in her life recently?” Dr. Kennedy asked.

That’s the understatement of a lifetime, Dean thought to himself. He decided to answer as simply as he could. “Our brother died in front of her. He and Evy were really close.”

“Was his name Sam?” Dr. Kennedy asked. At Dean’s look of surprise, Dr. Kennedy explained, “She’s been asking about Sammy.”

Dean nodded sadly. “Yeah, his name was Sam.”

“I see.” Dr. Kennedy said. He leaned forward slightly to speak to Dean. “I’ve never seen a case like your sister’s.”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked.

Dr. Kennedy sighed and did his best to explain. “Evy remembers who she is and who you are. She remembers Sam. But she doesn’t seem to remember anything that’s happened to you guys. But that doesn’t seem to last; she’ll remember the details later.”

“I don’t quite understand.” Dean asked. “Is she sick or not?”

“Let me give you an example. When I asked Evy about Sam earlier, she told me she didn’t know where he was and that she wanted to see him. Later, I asked her the same question, and she said she knew Sam was dead but she couldn’t remember how.” “Okay.” Dean said, nodding. After wrapping his mind around what he had just been told, he asked, “What do we do?”

“I’m really sorry about this, but the only treatment I see right now is long term hospitalization.” Dr. Kennedy said.

              Dean felt like he’d been punched in the gut. Sam had been gone less than a month. Though he loved Ben and Lisa, Evy was keeping him feeling halfway normal. Evy had been raised by Sam, and it showed in everything she did. She looked like Sam, they had many of the same mannerisms, and they had a similar personality. Dean hoped, in the back of his mind, that taking care of Evy would help him fill the void left by Sam. Now it seemed that he might not have Evy anymore either.

“Dean?” Dr. Kennedy asked. “Are you alright?”

“There’s no other option?” Dean asked, his heart pounding in his chest with dread.

“I understand your reluctance.” Dr. Kennedy said. “I do. But you need to understand that if you take Evy home, she may not get better. She’ll probably get worse. For a while, she’s going to need constant psychiatric care. We can keep her here at the hospital if you’re worried about the distance. We have a great department here.”

“I believe you.” Dean said. “And this might sound selfish, but I’m just worried about how she’s going to do away from me. We’re the only family each other has.”

“I get it.” Dr. Kennedy said. “I do. My mom died when I was ten, my dad when I was twelve. I get you want her to know you’re there for her. That’s the great thing about keeping her here. The visiting hours aren’t restrictive. Family members can come at any point, so you can see here any time you want. You can be active in any decisions about her care, and we will call you the second her condition changes.”

Before Dean could say anything else, a nurse came in. “Dr. Kennedy?” “Yes?” “Evelyn’s awake. She seems to be having a lucid moment, and she’s begging for her brother.” The nurse told them.

              Dean didn’t need to be told twice. He hopped out of the chair he was in and followed the nurse to an exam room down the hall. Evy was sitting on the bed, looking as sad and forlorn as she had earlier that morning, although she no longer looked as confused. She was hugging a pillow, and she was crying softly. Dean approached her slowly.

“Hey, kiddo.”

Evy didn’t say anything at first.

“Baby?” Dean said, sitting down next to her on the bed. Evy was silent a few seconds longer, then finally looked up at Dean from the pillow. “What’s going on?” she asked quietly.

Dean suppressed a sigh and closed his eyes. When he opened them, Evy was still staring at him, searching him for answers. “What do you remember?”

Evy swallowed. “Everything. I mean what’s going on with me?”

              Tears were threatening to fall from Dean’s eyes, but he fought them. He pushed a hair away from Evy’s face, and Evy waited for him to say something. Though it shattered his heart to admit it, Dean broke the news to her.

“You’re sick, honey.” “Sick how?” Evy asked, sounding more like a child than Dean had heard in a long time.

“Well,” Dean said, sliding a little closer to her, “it looks like you’re having a hard time with figuring out what’s real and what’s not.”

              Evy took the news and looked away from Dean. Dean asked Dr. Kennedy and the nurse, who had been waiting on the other end of the room, to give them a few minutes alone. Both left, and Evy hugged the pillow a little bit tighter. Neither of them said anything at first.

“What do we do now?” Evy said, breaking the silence for the first time in almost five minutes.

              Dean wished more than ever for Sam to be there. He had been the only one in Evy’s short life that could really calm her when things were bad. She believed Dean when he assured her that everything would be okay, but Sam was the only one who could really get her to feel better. Dean wished that it was Sam telling her what he was about to say. But if Sam was here, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, Dean couldn’t help but think.

“You’re gonna have to stay here in the hospital for a while, honey.”

Evy had been afraid before, but she was alarmed now. “What do you mean?”

“That’s the only way to get you better.” Dean explained.

              Evy started shaking now. Dean grabbed her and pulled her into a hug, hoping to comfort himself as much as her. When she was finally calm, Dean expected her to protest, to cry, to say she was fine, something; but she didn’t do any of that. Instead she looked at Dean, resigned to her fate. Dean wasn’t sure what was worse, her knowing that he was right, or her not fighting him on it.

“How long do I have to stay?” she asked.

“I don’t know, kiddo.” Dean said. Trying to lighten the situation, at least a little bit, “The doctors tell me they’ve never seen a case like yours.”

Evy smiled a little, but Dean could see the fear in her face.

“Tell me what you’re thinking, kiddo.” Dean pressed gently.

Evy took a shuddering breath, finally releasing her death grip on the pillow. Looking up at Dean, she admitted, “I’m scared, Dean.” She said, her voice breaking. “I feel like I’m slipping away.”

“Hey. Hey, hey. Come here.” Dean grabbed her and pulled her in to a tight hug.

              Evy started sobbing, big, wracking sobs that shook Dean and her. Dean suddenly got an idea, and pulled out an old photo that he kept in his wallet of him, her, and Sam. Dean gently pulled her away from him after her sobs died down, and placed the photo in her hands.

“Hold on to this, okay?” he said, wiping away the still spilling tears from her cheeks. Evy took it from him and stared at it. “When you start feeling that way, if I’m not here, take it out and hold on to it as tight as you can, okay?”

Evy suddenly became frightened again. “You’re coming back, right?” she asked, panic in her voice. “You’re not leaving me here alone?”

“No, baby, no.” Dean answered. “No, I’ll be here to see you all the time okay? Every day if you want me to. I’m not leaving you, baby.”

Evy breathed a sigh of relief and nodded, showing she understood. “I probably shouldn’t say anything about what really happened to Sammy, right?”

Dean hated having to say it, but he realized she was right. “Right.” He answered. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“What should I say if I get asked?” Evy asked. “We should probably have the same story.”

              They talked about it for a moment, and settled on a story. Sam had died when he’d gotten mugged one night. He and Evy had been together, and when the mugger had pulled a gun on Evy, Sam had jumped in front of it. Just as they were wrapping up their conversation, Dr. Kennedy and the nurse came back.

“We’re ready to admit Evy.” Dr. Kennedy said. “Are you ready?” he asked her kindly.

“I guess.” Evy said. “Can my brother stay?”

“As long as you want him to.” Dr. Kennedy assured her.

              Dean did stay. He filled out the paperwork he needed to for Evy to be admitted, reviewed the program Dr. Kennedy wanted her to follow while there, looked at the room she would be staying in, and comforted her when she broke down again. Dean didn’t leave until very late that night, when Evy was finally asleep. He’d been at the hospital over eighteen hours, and he was exhausted. Physically and mentally. Dean checked the clock in his truck. It was half past twelve in the morning. He checked his phone and saw twelve messages from Lisa. All of them were texts with different variances of what’s going on? Call me. Dean answered her, telling her simply I’m on the way home. We’ll talk when I get there. Dean tucked his phone away back in his pocket, and drove back towards the house.

              He tried not to focus on his feelings at the moment, because he was afraid if he did he’d crash his truck. It had finally happened. Hunting had taken everything from him. Absolutely everything. His dad was gone. Sam was dead. He wasn’t talking to Cass and Bobby. And now Evy. She wasn’t dead, but she wasn’t exactly alive either. Dean wanted to die. He could not really remember ever being suicidal before, but he was now. Only his promise to Sam to live a normal life and the fact that Evy needed him kept him from acting on it. As Dean pulled into the driveway, he tried to swallow to dull the pain, the gut wrenching pain that threatened to swallow him. Taking a deep breath, he walked into the house to tell Lisa what had happened.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen

Eleven Months Later

              It had been five weeks since she’d been released from the hospital, and Evy believed that what she was going through right now was crazier than anything she’d been through in the last year. Sam was back. Dean said nothing as he drove towards Bobby’s, and neither did Evy. Evy knew the silence was uncomfortable for Ben and Lisa in the backseat, but she didn’t care. It was just too much.

              She was thrilled that Sam was back, but she was also furious. He had let it slip that he’d been back all year. When he’d said that, Evy had jumped, ready to punch him in the nose; Dean had held her back. When Sam had apologized, Evy had held back from him that she’d been in the hospital. She was grateful Dean had taken the hint and not said anything. As furious as she was with him, Evy didn’t want to make him feel guilty, at least not right now, and possibly drive him away again.

              But something else was bothering her. Sam was different, though she couldn’t put her finger on exactly how. Sam had always been very affectionate with her, giving her unsolicited hugs and kisses all the time. It was part of the reason that she had always been closer to him than John and Dean. Though John and Dean did hug her and tell her they loved her, Sam seemed to sense when she needed attention, sometimes even before she realized it. But in the few hours since he’d been back, Sam had only hugged her once. He seemed distant, like he didn’t want to get to close to her, and that hurt. It hurt her heart. She had dreamed this so many times in the last months, and in the dream, Sam had always been just the way he was before.

               Evy was shaken out of her thoughts when Dean pulled up to Bobby’s. Suddenly her problem with Sam was far away; all she wanted was to grab Bobby and give him a hug. As Dean helped Ben and Lisa out of the car, Evy ran up to Bobby’s front door, knocking frantically. When Bobby finally opened the door, he barely had a word out before Evy’s arms were wrapped around his neck tightly.

“Hey, Baitfish.” Bobby greeted her, barely above a whisper.

“Bobby.” That was all Evy could say.

              Dean came up behind them, followed by Ben and Lisa, with Sam at the rear. Dean gave Evy a minute to be with Bobby. He couldn’t help but smile; this was the happiest he had seen her in over a year. Gently, he placed a hand on Evy’s shoulder.

“We’ll be here for a little while, kiddo.” He said. “Let the man breathe.”

              She didn’t want to, but Evy let Bobby go. She helped Ben and Lisa get settled upstairs, as Dean, Sam, and Bobby went to the front room to talk. She went to the bathroom and splashed water on her face, when a shout from downstairs suddenly startled her.

“Evy!”

              Evy ran downstairs, where Dean was now angrily standing in the kitchen doorway looking down at Sam and Bobby. She’d known that Dean wasn’t happy with Sam, but why were they fighting again? What could possibly be going on now?

“Tell her.” Dean said simply, looking at Bobby.

“Dean…” Bobby said, regret mixed with a slight twinge of anger in her voice.

“Tell. Her.” Dean said, quietly and dangerously. “She deserves to know.”

“Dean, why are you dragging her…?” Sam started.

“Will someone please just tell me what’s going on?” Evy broke in impatiently.

Dean decided to take the lead. “Bobby knew.” He said.

Evy’s heart sank. “Bobby knew what?” she asked, though she had a feeling she already knew what he was about to say.

“He knew that Sam was back. The whole time. The whole year.” Dean responded.

              Evy stared at all of them in horror. She had been hurt by Sam before, but never Bobby. Bobby had been the one person in her life that had never hurt her. She had always secretly wished that he were her father. Was it possible that he had really done this?
“Is that true?” Evy asked. The hurt in her tone was evident to everyone.

Bobby sighed. “Baitfish…”

Evy turned to Dean. “Did you tell them?” she asked.

“Nope.” Dean replied just as angrily. “But I think you should now.”

“Tell us what?” Sam asked, leaning against the kitchen sink.

Evy was now just as angry as Dean, possibly even more. “Do you two have any idea what I’ve been through this past year?”

“Baitfish…” Bobby tried again, but she wouldn’t have it.
“No!” Evy said, so angry she was shaking. “Bobby, don’t. Do you know why you haven’t heard from me or Dean in a year?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “I’ve been in the hospital for the last year.”

“The hospital? Why?” Sam asked, still leaning on the sink.

              Evy threw him an angry glare that would have withered the old Sam. She took note that it didn’t. He continued to lean on the counter, looking curious at the proceedings, rather than concerned or sorry like she expected.

“Because of you.” She said. “I had a nervous breakdown after I thought we lost you.”

For the first time, Sam did appear to be at least a little sorry. “Honey, I’m sorry…”
Evy exploded. “You’re sorry!?! Sorry!? Dean had to have me committed because of you!” Evy turned her fury on Bobby. “And you knew the whole time? Didn’t you care about us at all?”

“Of course I did. I always have…” Bobby started, but faltered when he realized that the defense he’d given Dean of “You were out of hunting” was very weak when it came to Evy.

“Nice job showing it, Bobby. One phone call and you could have saved me and Dean a lot of heartache.” Evy turned to Dean, suddenly too overcome by the whole situation. “I’m going for a walk.”
Dean really didn’t want her leaving, but knew she couldn’t stay in the house right now. “Okay, kiddo. Stay close and take your phone.”

              Evy didn’t answer him, just went to the front door, grabbed her jacket from the hook by the door, and ran outside. She was gone a little while, only coming back once it was really dark. She stayed behind with Ben and Lisa while Sam and Dean went out on a hunt. She continued giving Bobby the silent treatment, spending most of her time with Ben. When Dean returned, she left with him, still not talking to either Sam or Bobby. The family was together and happy for a few weeks, until Sam called and requested Dean’s help on a hunt. Evy flatly refused to go, again staying behind with Ben and Lisa. But she could see the writing on the wall. As much as Dean protested it, she could see that he was leaning back towards hunting. Her prediction came true when Dean knocked on her door one night.

“Hey, kiddo, can I come in?” he asked, standing in the doorway of her room.

“Sure.” Evy said, smiling.

Dean walked in and looked around. “The room’s looking good.”

“Thanks.” She said.

Dean sat on the edge of her bed and sighed. “I need to talk to you.”

Evy sat next to him, knees folded up on the bed. “I’m listening.”

              Dean took a moment to prepare, and Evy waited patiently. She really didn’t want to have the conversation that she knew was coming, but now there was no way to avoid it. Dean seemed as reluctant to talk as she did.

“I’m going back on the road with Sam.” Dean said, carefully gauging her reaction.

Evy bit her lip and nodded. “Okay.”

“I need to know what you want to do.” Dean said. “Lisa said you can stay here with her if you want.”

              Suddenly Evy wasn’t altogether sure what she wanted. She didn’t want to separate from Dean. He was the only family she had left that she trusted. She loved Lisa and Ben, but she felt like an intrusion staying with them without Dean. She studied the blanket on her bed carefully, and fought back the tears she felt coming. Dean waited patiently, and Evy lifted her head finally.

“I want to go with you. I do. But…” Evy choked, not sure what exactly to say.

“But what?” Dean asked gently. “Tell me, honey.”
Evy sighed. “I don’t trust Sam.” She said, finally saying it out loud.

“I don’t either.” Dean said, making Evy snap her head up in surprise. “I don’t. But I trust the Campbells even less, and I’d rather he was out there hunting with us than with them.”

Evy nodded, not really wanting to admit the other thing stopping her.
“Do you trust me?” Dean asked, reaching over to take her hand.

“Of course I do.” Evy said.

“There you go. You don’t have to trust Sam. Just trust me.” Dean said, squeezing her hand. “If he says or does anything that makes you uneasy, just let me know. I’ll even get you a separate room if you want.”

So Dean really did want her to go. She smiled. “You don’t have to get me another room.”

Dean lit up, hoping she was accepting. “Is that a yes?” he asked. When she didn’t answer, Dean told her, “Look, honey, I’m not going to force you. If you’d rather stay here, I won’t be mad. I’ll call you every single day and come back any chance I get. But I do want you back out there with me. I do trust you. It doesn’t feel right being out there without you.”
Dean’s words were making the tears she’d fought so hard to control spill over. “Dean…”
“Hey, it’s okay.” He said, “If you don’t want to…”

“It’s not that.” Evy said, taking a pointed look over at her nightstand, where her medication was kept, then back to Dean. “I don’t know if I’m strong enough.” She admitted.

“Come here.” Dean said, pulling her over to him and wrapping an arm around her shoulder. Evy sobbed softly as Dean rubbed her arm. “Listen to me. Are you listening?” He asked, tickling her sides a little.

Evy laughed in spite of herself, and nodded, unable to talk.

“You are the strongest Winchester of all of us. You could have let the Shtriga beat you and you didn’t. You could have let that reaper beat you and you didn’t. You pulled me back from the brink after that accident. You could’ve let Lillith beat you and you didn’t. You could have let this thing…” Dean pointed towards the same medication that had her doubting herself earlier, “beat you and you didn’t. If you can beat all of that, you are definitely strong enough for this. Okay?”

Evy wrapped her arms around his middle and squeezed tightly. “Okay.” She said, muffled by his shirt.

“And you don’t have to hunt. You can stay in the room and do research. We’ll take trips between hunts. If it does become too much, tell me and we’ll all stop and rest until you’re ready to go again. Deal?” Dean asked.

Evy sat up, and Dean was relieved to see she was smiling. “Deal.” She said, wiping the last of her tears away.

“So does that mean yes?” Dean asked again.

“Yes.” Evy said, nodding.

“Yes!” Dean said, faking a cheer. Evy giggled, a sound which lifted Dean’s heart. “Why don’t you start packing? We’re gonna leave in the morning.”

Evy nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay.” Dean stood up and ruffled her hair, then leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “I love you, kiddo. We’ll be alright.”
“I know, Deanie. I love you too.”

              Dean left smiling at the use of his nickname. Evy watched him go, then looked around at her room. So she was going back into her old life. She could hardly believe it, but she was. It wouldn’t be exactly the same as it was before, but maybe it would be okay. A thought occurred to Evy. Maybe there was a way to make it a little better. Evy took her phone out of her pocket and dialed Bobby’s number. He answered on the second ring, obviously shocked that she was calling. They hadn’t talked since she’d confronted him in the kitchen.

“Hey, Baitfish.”

“Hi, Bobby.” She said. An awkward silence later, and she started the conversation they needed to have. “I’m sorry, Bobby.”
“For what?” he asked.

“Staying mad at you.” Evy said. “I get why you didn’t tell me and Dean about Sam. And you didn’t know where I was. It wasn’t fair to blame you for that.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Baitfish. You’re my favorite girl, you know that.” Bobby said, making her smile. She really had missed his comfort this past year. “How you doing?”

Evy sighed. “I’m going back on the road with Dean and Sam.”

“Really?” Bobby asked. “Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

“No.” Evy answered honestly. “But Dean promised to take it slow, and I don’t want to be separated from him.”

“What about Sam?” Bobby asked. “You don’t sound too thrilled to be back with him.”

Evy sighed. “Bobby, does he seem different to you?”

“Different how?”

“I don’t know how to explain it.” Evy said. “He just doesn’t seem like himself. He seems distant.”

“Well, honey, he was in hell for at least a little while.” Bobby said. “I don’t have first hand knowledge, but I imagine that changes you.”
“Dean didn’t become distant when he got back.” Evy argued. “At least not with me.”

“Maybe people just react differently.” Bobby suggested. “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Baitfish. I’m sure he’s probably just adjusting to being back with you and Dean. Give him some more time.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.” Evy said. “Hey, Bobby?”

“Yeah?”

“You know I love you, right?” Evy asked.

Though she couldn’t see him, Evy knew she’d made him smile. “I love you, too, Baitfish. Don’t tell those stinking brothers of yours.”

Evy laughed. “I won’t. I’ll call you in a couple days. Good night.”

“Good night, Baitfish.”

              Evy hung up, feeling slightly better. She had Bobby back, even though she’d never really lost him. Looking around, she started to pack. She was almost done when she came across a photo. It was the one that Dean had given her when she’d gone into the hospital. It had been taken on her sixteenth birthday, exactly one year before her attack from Lillith. Dean was on her left, one arm around her shoulder, Sam on her right, both arms wrapped around her neck. There was a cake in the middle with a big 16 on it, and a couple presents over to the side. She remembered the day well. She’d felt warm, loved, and complete. Looking at Sam, Evy ran a finger down the side of his face.

“Come back to me, Sammy.” She whispered.

              Evy put the photo in her pocket and finally went to bed.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen

              The scream coming from Sam was heartbreaking, but Evy couldn’t do anything about it. They were finally about to find out what was wrong with Sam, why he seemed so different. He had butted heads with both her and Dean. He was more stubborn and, there was no other word for it, meaner than she’d ever seen him. Dean often complained about having to reign him in when they were on a hunt, which had surprised Evy more than anything else. Sam was usually the one checking Dean. Finally, Sam stopped screaming, and Evy waited patiently to hear what Cas had to say. What he did say left her in shock.

“His soul is gone?” Evy asked. “How has he gotten by without it?”

“The soul isn’t necessary for physical survival.” Cass explained. “He’s quite healthy physically.”

“What I mean is…” Evy said, “how has what happened to me not happened to him?”

Cas stopped fixing his sleeves as he’d been doing and looked at her sadly. “Your soul wasn’t gone.” He said patiently. “Yours was damaged. Severely. It took a long time, but it eventually healed. Sam’s isn’t in him at all.”

              Evy nodded her understanding just as Sam spoke up. He and Dean argued briefly, then they headed out to the Campbells. The next weeks revolved around adjusting to Sam’s newly discovered ‘condition’. Evy talked even less to Sam than she had before, only talking when working with him on a case. While out with Dean getting them dinner one night, Dean decided to broach the subject of Sam with her.

“Anything you wanna talk about, kiddo?” he asked gently, as the two of them sat eating their dinner in the Impala.

“No.” Evy answered quickly.

“You sure?” Dean pressed. “Nothing? Because this whole thing with Sam is blowing my mind.” Evy sighed. She knew he was going to press her until she talked. Turning to him, she said, “I knew something was wrong with him the second he came back.”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked, taking a sip of his soda.

“Are you telling me you didn’t suspect anything?” Evy asked. “If you didn’t, why did you tell me you didn’t trust him?”

“Alright, maybe I did. But what made you not trust him?” Dean asked.

“Think about it. If Sam had come back whole, and found out that I’d been put in the hospital because of him, do you think he would have stopped apologizing?”

“Good point.” Dean conceded.

“And…” Evy started and stopped.

“What?” Dean asked.

“It sounds stupid.” Evy said quietly, not looking at Dean.

Dean grabbed a fry out of Evy’s dinner. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“Hey!” Evy said, slapping his hand, but smiling. She sighed again, this time much heavier. “He hasn’t called me Cricket.”

“What?” Dean asked.

“He hasn’t called me Cricket.” Evy said. “He’s the only one I let call me that. He usually does it to try to make me smile. And I haven’t heard it once since he got back.”

Dean frowned. He’d not even realized it, but Evy was right. “I’m sorry, kiddo.”

Evy seemed to have suddenly lost her appetite. There was a long pause before she finally said, “I hoped I was wrong. I really hoped I was wrong. But I knew it was too good to be true.”

“Hey.” Dean said, grabbing her attention. “We’ll figure this out, okay? Don’t we always?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Evy answered.

“Well, there you go.” Dean said. When Evy smiled, he told her sincerely, “You know, I couldn’t have gotten through this without you.”

Evy blushed slightly. “Really? I wasn’t exactly in pro form there for a while.”

“When Sam took that plunge,” Dean began, looking down and picking at his food, “I was numb. I didn’t think I really had anything to live for. If you hadn’t been there, I might have driven Baby off a cliff.” Evy listened to him intently, and Dean looked her in the eye appreciatively. “But watching you get better and better, even when you had some setbacks, showed me that I could get through this too.”

Evy smiled again. “I missed Sammy so bad there were days I didn’t want to get better. I wanted to stay in that hospital for the rest of my life. I even thought about calling a reaper and asking them to take me. But I got better for you. Because I knew you needed me as much as I needed you. Knowing you were gonna be there when I got to go home was what kept me going.”

Dean had tears glistening on the edge of his eyes. “Alright. Enough chick flick moments. Come here and give me a hug.”

Evy leaned over and hugged him, holding on good and tight. “I love you, Dean.” “Love you more, kiddo.” When she leaned back into her seat, he prepared to go. “You ready to go back?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

              Evy did feel better after her talk with Dean. Although things were still very tense, and she still didn’t want to be close to Sam, she felt everything would be okay in the end. That was, until, a few days later, when, while sitting at a park bench, Sam made a speech that reignited her fury.

“Look, I don’t know if how I am is better or worse. It’s different. You get the job done and nothing really hurts. It’s not the worst thing. But I’ve been thinking. I was that other Sam for a long time, and it was…It was kind of harder. But there are also things about it I remember that…Let’s just say, I should probably go back to being him.”

“That’s very interesting.” Dean replied. “It’s a step.”

“That’s crap!” Evy suddenly said, startling both of them.

Dean looked shocked, and for the first time since coming back, Sam seemed hurt by something Evy said.

“First of all, you’re right. You are different. You’re a lot worse. But “you get the job done and nothing really hurts?” Are you kidding me? How do you think it makes me and Dean feel? We’ve wanted Sammy, the real Sammy, back every day since you jumped in that hole. It hurts us to see you walking around, looking and sounding like Sammy.” Evy was so upset she’d started to shake, but when Dean attempted to comfort her, she snarled at him. “Dean, leave me alone!” Dean drew back sharply and let her continue. “But that’s the big difference between you and the real Sammy. He would have cared a lot more about the fact he was hurting the two of us than he would have cared about himself.”

              Sam seemed like he wanted to say something to that, but couldn’t. Evy didn’t give him the chance. She jumped up from the table and stomped back to the Impala. Dean was secretly relieved. He knew that Evy had been simmering in resentment towards him for weeks, and that she needed to confront him. After staying a moment to let an uncomfortable silence simmer between him and Sam, Dean left and went to join Evy in the Impala. He picked up her water bottle that she’d been drinking and handed it to her. She was wiping tears away from her face, and chugged the water that Dean handed to her. He gave her a moment to collect her thoughts, before sitting in the backseat with her. She leaned into Dean’s side, and Dean took over wiping her tears for her.

“What’re you thinking about?” he asked quietly.

Sobbing a little more, Evy said, “I miss him so bad, Dean.”

“I know, kiddo. I miss him too.” Dean said.

“I thought it would be better with him here, even after we found out about his soul.” Evy said. “But I think it hurts worse knowing he’s here and doesn’t care.”

              Evy’s voice broke on the words “doesn’t care” and she cried even worse. Dean realized that she had never really grieved Sam, and he wished he had thought of that fact before dragging her back on the road with the two of them. He knew she only came because of him, and he regretted it now. Evy cried for a long time, and thankfully Sam had taken the hint and stayed away. When her crying finally died down to just the occasional sniffle, Dean gently urged her to sit up.

“If you don’t want to stay, you don’t have to.” Dean assured her. “It’s okay.”

Evy thought about it first. She answered slowly as she wiped her face again. “I don’t want to go permanently.” She said, taking a napkin that Dean offered her and blowing her nose. “Can I go to Bobby’s for a few days?”

“Absolutely.” Dean said. “You want me to take you or put you on the bus?”

“Bus, please.” Evy said, not wanting to sit for a long trip with Sam.

“Okay. I’ll send you tonight.” Dean said. “Let’s go back to the hotel and get your stuff.”

              Dean drove her to the hotel, then to the bus station, texting Sam to stay away in the meantime. Dean half expected a text asking if she was okay, but all he got back was an “okay”. When he read that response, he felt a little prick in his heart. He saw what Evy was saying now. It was harder having half of Sam around than it was while he was gone. Dean put her on the last bus to Bobby’s, promising to pick her up in a few days.

              Bobby’s proved to be the break that Evy needed. Bobby kept her busy, but not busy enough that she didn’t get the rest she needed. The days at Bobby’s were long and peaceful, and Evy was taken back to the time of being a little kid. Dean called to check on her every day, and she felt more content than she had in a long time. She was even okay when Sam and Dean came back, closer to finding Sam’s soul. When Dean told the three of them how he planned to do it, Evy was skeptical to say the least.

“You have to be death for a day? How does that even work?” she asked.

“I put the ring on and take people when it’s their time for twenty four hours. I do that, Death goes to hell to get Sam’s soul.” Dean explained.

              Sam, unsurprisingly, was against the whole thing. They had been warned that shoving Sam’s soul back into his body could kill him or make him go crazy. A spiteful part of Evy couldn’t help but think it would serve you right if you did go crazy, but as badly as she might have wanted to, she didn’t utter that thought out loud. Though she could see Sam’s point of view in the matter, mainly that if things went wrong he would be the one to suffer, the fact remained that she wanted her brother back. Just as she was about to voice her thought, she saw Sam start to head out the door.

              Dean and Bobby headed out behind Sam, with Evy right behind Bobby. She cursed herself for still moving slower than the three of them, as she still had a slight limp from the attack by Lillith. When they found Sam, he had been searching the area where Dean had buried Death’s ring.

“Looking for this?” Dean asked, holding up the ring.

“No. Just out taking a walk.” Sam said.

“Sam. I’m your brother. I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.” Dean assured him.

Evy secretly thought if only it was that easy, Dean. But she was surprised when Sam seemed to accept it.

“Okay, Dean. I’m trusting you. Barely. Just don’t screw it up.”

              As Dean walked away, he whispered to Bobby and Evy “watch him”. Bobby watched Sam closely for a second, then turned and started to walk back to the house. Sam stayed behind for a moment, he and Evy sharing an uncomfortable silence. Evy finally shifted and turned to him.

“Thank you.” She said quietly.

              Sam said nothing, just walked back towards the house with Bobby. Evy followed, heading to the kitchen to make herself some dinner. She avoided Sam again, but found herself unable to concentrate on anything. After she ate, she went to her room and found her old journal, which she hadn’t used in years. She read the old entries front to back, their content making her realize that what Dean and the old Sam had been telling her for years was right. She was strong. She was brave. She was able to get through anything. A knock at her door startled her. Expecting it to be Bobby, she started to yell “It’s open”, but her words died in her throat when she saw the visitor. “Sammy.” She said, immediately sitting up.

“Hey.” He said, walking in slowly. He had two cups in his hand. “Can I come in?”

“Um, yeah, sure.” She said, closing her journal and turning to look at him. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to the mugs.

“A peace offering.” He said, handing one of the mugs to her. Curiously, she took a sip. “Hot chocolate?” she asked.

“Yeah. You still love it like you used to, right?” he asked.

“Yeah, I do.” She said, smiling. “I haven’t had it in a long time though. At least not the way you make it.” “See, I still remember some things.” He smiled and took the chair that Evy kept in the room. “Look, I wanted to say I’m sorry.”

“For what?” she asked, not adding the are you sure you really know what that means? that was in the back of her mind.

“What you said at the park that day. You were right.” He admitted, taking a sip of the hot chocolate in his mug and urging her to do the same. “Come on, it’s cold out.” He said, reminding her more of the old Sammy than he had in a long time. When she did take a sip, he continued. “Look, I may not feel the same way about you that the old Sammy did, but I remember everything. Everything. All the memories he had of you, I know he loved you a lot.” Evy started to choke on a lump in her throat, and Sam took the cup from her. “Look, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to make you upset. I just wanted you to know that I get it, that I understand why you miss him. But I think a lot of you too.”

“You do?” Evy asked, surprised. “Yeah. You’re a smart kid. You’re strong. Some of the stuff you’ve done as a kid would’ve scared adults twice your age away.” Evy smiled, and took her cup back from Sam for another sip. “Look, what I’m trying to ask is,” he offered her one hand, “truce?”

Evy thought what the hell? And took his hand. “Truce.”

“Alright. Finish this.” Sam said, pointing at her cup.

Evy nodded, then realized she was incredibly sleepy. “Okay.” She said, letting out a massive yawn.

“Or, maybe not.” Sam said. “Why don’t you go to bed?”

“I think I might do that.” She said. “I felt fine when I came in here. I don’t know why,” another yawn, “I got so sleepy all of a sudden.”

“I’ll take these and stick them in the microwave.” Sam offered. You can heat it up when you wake up.”

“Okay.” She said, watching him as he headed out the door.

              Evy’s last conscious thought was you idiot. He drugged you. Looking at the clock on the wall, she saw it was eight PM. She wanted to call out for Bobby, but before she could, the world went black around her. She woke hours later to Dean standing over her bed calling her name.

“Evy, wake up. Wake up, baby.”

              Evy sat up and immediately regretted it. The room was not quite into focus yet, and her head was pounding. Dean steadied her, asking her for what she was sure was the thousandth time if she was okay. Evy gave a barely perceptible nod, and the throbbing in her head started to dissipate.

“Here.” Dean said, offering her a water bottle. “You had me worried there for a minute. You sure you’re okay? You don’t look so good.”

Remembering the time when she went to sleep, Evy asked him, “What time is it?”

“Almost noon.” Dean responded. “Bobby said you were asleep when he came to check on you at nine-thirty. Said you looked like you’d been asleep for a while.” “Sam drugged me.” Evy told him.

“WHAT?” Dean asked, almost yelling.

“He came into my room last night about seven forty five. Had two mugs of hot chocolate and a fake apology to give me.” Evy said. “Geez, I feel so stupid taking anything from him.”

“Don’t feel bad. You ain’t the only one he went after last night.” Bobby had suddenly appeared in the doorway.

“What do you mean?” Evy asked. “What happened?”

“Sam tried to kill Bobby last night. That’s probably why he drugged you-so you wouldn’t be able to stop him.” Dean said.

“That makes sense then why you didn’t hear all the ruckus and stuff going on downstairs. You slept like a baby last night.” Bobby said, impressed.

“Yeah, just wish I felt like one.” Evy said. “Wait, I don’t get it. Why did Sam try to kill you?”

“He was trying to stop me from putting his soul back.” Dean explained. At Evy’s puzzled look, Dean said, “That’s a long story. Come on, let’s get something to eat.”

Evy climbed off the bed and headed downstairs with the two of them. “So, did you do it? Did you get Sam’s soul back?”

“Yeah.” Dean said, trying to keep his voice neutral.

It didn’t work. Evy didn’t miss the note of panic. She grabbed Dean’s shoulder and turned him around. “Tell me.”

Dean sighed, wishing he didn’t have to put her through more than she’d already dealt with. “He’s in the bunker. It’s been a few hours since I got back. He’s got his soul back, but he hasn’t woken up.” “Is he going to?” Evy asked, slightly alarmed.

“We don’t know, honey.” Dean said. “You should prepare yourself…”

“Dean, he’s been gone for over a year.” Evy said, not without a slight bite in her words. “If he wakes up and is okay, great. But honestly, if he doesn’t, we tried. We go back to you and me and the world, our world, moves on.”

Dean was shocked. “Do you really feel that way?”

Evy sighed and closed her eyes for a moment, wishing she did really feel that way. “No.” she admitted softly. “No, I want him back, Dean. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle losing him again…”

“Hey.” Dean said, grabbing both her shoulders. “We will not lose him again. Okay? He’s just been through something that no one else in the entire world has ever been through. It’s gonna take him some time to heal, but Sammy’ll come back to us. Okay?”

Evy smiled. “Okay.” She glanced in the direction of the bunker. “Can I go see him?” “Eat first.” Dean said, keeping one arm on her shoulder as he led her to the kitchen.

              Evy laughed. She couldn’t help it; though she was used to listening to Dean, even now as an adult, there were times she couldn’t take him seriously when he told her what to do. Sometimes when he tried to convey authority, he just conveyed….goofiness was the best word she could think of.

“What’s so funny?” Dean asked as they reached the kitchen.

Grinning, Evy went to the table where she saw there was leftover spaghetti and meatballs that she made for dinner the night before. “Your face.” Evy responded as she grabbed a plate from the cupboard. Dean stopped cold. “My face? What’s wrong with my face?”

Evy grabbed a meatball off her plate and promptly smeared Dean’s cheek with it. “There’s spaghetti sauce all over it.” She said with barely suppressed giggles.

              Bobby had walked in as they were talking, and snorted at Evy’s childish trick. Dean wanted to pretend to be mad, but it had been just the release he needed. He found himself start to laugh, then laugh harder, and then laugh even harder. His laughter was contagious, and soon Bobby and Evy were laughing the same way. Before the end of that first night, the three of them were barely able to look at each other without laughing.

              Though the mood in the house was still somber, it was considerably lightened after that first night. Evy constantly checked on Sam, and Dean and Bobby mostly left her alone. It was during one of these times that Evy finally heard the sound they’d all been waiting for. After trying again, unsuccessfully, to get Sam to wake up, Evy turned to leave the bunker, her heart slowly breaking with the realization that Sam might never wake up.

“Cricket?”

              Evy’s heart beat frantically in her chest. She was afraid to turn around, afraid that she had just wished to hear her nickname again. But slowly she did turn around, and a smile slowly lit up her face. Sam was sitting up, looking at her, dazed and confused. Evy stayed frozen to the spot with her hands in front of her mouth in shock.

“Sammy?” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Cricket? Are you okay?”    

He said it again. It’s really him. Evy thought and dived to the bed, wrapping both arms around his waist. Sam held her just as tightly, rocking her slightly, and kissed the top of her head. The shock for both of them was wearing off, replaced with pure, unabashed joy. Neither wanted to let the other go, and for a long time, they didn’t. Finally, Evy sat back, wiping away tears of joy.

“You okay?” Sam asked again. “Those are happy tears, right?”

Evy laughed. “Definitely.”

Sam brushed back a few stray hairs from her face. “How are you, baby?” “Better now.” Evy said simply, squeezing his waist again.

Sam nodded. He wanted to talk to her more, but Evy wasn’t the only person he wanted to see. “Where’s Dean and Bobby?”

“Upstairs. Come on.” Evy said, taking his hand to lead him upstairs.

              Sam, Dean, and Bobby had their reunion, and stayed around the house another day. Evy clung to Sam tightly, so she missed the tension between Sam and Bobby that she otherwise would have been tuned into. Evy decided not to tell him most of what had happened the previous year, and again Dean took her lead. The three of them left on a hunt the following day. Evy climbed into the back, keeping her eye on Sam practically the entire time. After arriving at the motel that night, Dean went out to do some investigation. Sam caught Evy staring at him again and laughed.

“Cricket, I’m not going anywhere.” He said.

Evy walked over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Just making sure.” She said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “I’m going to stretch my legs. Be back soon.”

“Okay. Be safe.” Sam said.

              Evy left for her walk, her mind and heart finally feeling at peace for the first time in forever. Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Maybe everything really would be okay. She passed a used bookstore on the road, and couldn’t help but stop and go in. Thirty minutes later, she walked back to the room. Before she had even shut the door all the way, Sam had grabbed her and pulled her into a tight hug.

“Cricket, I am so, so sorry.” He said.

“Sorry for what, Sammy?” Evy asked, genuinely confused.

“Cass told me about you being in the hospital.” Sam explained. “I’m sorry, kiddo. I’m so sorry.”

              Evy sighed deeply but hugged him back. Cass was still standing on the other side of the room, watching the two of them with a neutral look. When Sam let her go, Evy glared at Cass.

“You’re upset.” Cass observed.

“Yep.” Evy said, placing the bag on the table next to the door.

“Sam asked me what he missed over the last year. I didn’t want to lie to him.” Cass explained.

“Cass, I didn’t want him to know!” Evy said, exasperated.

“Wait, why not?” Sam asked.

“Because I didn’t want you feeling guilty for something that wasn’t your fault.” She answered, sitting on the bed and running a hand through her hair. “Look, one night about three weeks after you went into the cage, I got a job. I got so excited that I tried to call you and tell you. The phone rang six or seven times before I realized you weren’t going to answer.”

“Oh, Cricket.” Sam said quietly.

“The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t remember where I was or where you were. Dean took me to the hospital and I stayed there until a couple weeks before…” Evy stopped when she noticed Sam looked ready to cry. “Sammy, please, it wasn’t your fault.”

“Are you okay?” Sam asked earnestly. “Really?”

“Yes.” Evy said. “Yes, I promise I’m fine now. I have some medication I have to take every day, but other than that, I’m perfectly healthy.” Sam looked at her for a moment, then nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay.” Evy said, letting out a breath of relief. “I got something for you while I was out.”

              Evy went back to her bag on the table, pulled out the book she’d bought for Sam, and handed it to him. She felt relieved that he finally knew the truth, but despite trying to convince him otherwise, Evy knew Sam still felt guilty. Before she had a chance to think anything more about it, Dean came back to the room. The discussion shelved for the moment, Evy turned her attention back to the hunt.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen

Fluff Break #5

              John Winchester liked to think of himself as a pretty smart man. He liked to believe that he was brave too. Give him a monster to kill, a bad guy to punch, and he was good. But right now, he was being taken down by a whining, crying eight month old little girl. John was stumped. He was kicking himself for not allowing eleven year old Sammy to give him directions before leaving for the night. Sam was the one who normally took care of Evy, but John had decided to reward him and fifteen year old Dean and allow them to go to a movie together. The idea had been to allow them to spend some time together, doing something other than dealing with a hunt,  while John got to spend some quality time with Evy. But that was definitely not working out the way he’d planned. Why hadn’t he just allowed Sam to talk when he’d left?

              Pride. John’s brain told him. It was your stupid damn pride.

              Now Evy was miserable, and John just couldn’t understand why. She’d been fed, bathed, changed, cuddled, played with, cuddled again, and she just wouldn’t stop crying. John was desperate now. He then noticed that Evy had a hand in her mouth, and the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. She only sucks her thumb when she’s sleeping.

“She’s teething, you idiot.” John said to himself.

              At the sound of her father’s voice doing something other than begging her to stop crying, Evy’s whines calmed down, but her tears kept coming. Now that John had figured out the problem, he realized that there was a new one. He’d known that Evy was teething, but he couldn’t remember what Sam did to calm her down when she got fussy because of it. As if Sam himself had heard John’s question, John spotted a note on the refrigerator with “Dad” written across it in Sam’s neat script.

Dad, if she gets fussy and starts putting a hand in her mouth, there’s a pacifier for her in the freezer. It makes her mouth stop hurting. -Sam

              John thought back to earlier in the night when Sam had been leaving with Dean and trying to give John directions. He now regretted telling Sam “I’m her father, Sammy, not a babysitter. I got this.” Sam had looked frustrated for a moment, but hadn’t argued; he’d just gone to his room to get ready. He must have written the note then. For once, John was glad Sam hadn’t listened to him. He made a mental note not only to thank Sam when he got home, but to apologize as well. Heeding Sam’s directions, John headed to the freezer, holding Evy in one arm as he did so. Sure enough, the pacifier was there, sitting right in the middle to catch John’s eye. John picked it up and started to put it in Evy’s mouth. As if to say about time, Dad, Evy grabbed it from him and stuffed it in her own mouth. Silence fell immediately.

Bless you Sammy. “How’s that, little one?” John asked.

“Daddy!”

              John was so startled that he said nothing for nearly a full twenty seconds. Evy watched him intently, her expression neutral. She seemed to be gauging his reaction to what she’d just done.

“What did you say?” John asked, nearly breathless.

“Daddy!” Evy repeated, clear as day.

              John almost wept with joy. Evy had been talking for weeks. Her first word had, not surprisingly, been ‘Sammy’, which she’d quickly followed with ‘Dee’, ‘Beebee’, and an assortment of other words that she’d picked up. Daddy was new. John had known it would come one day, but he’d started to lose hope. Evy offered him a smile, and put her hands to her face for a few moments before taking them away. John smiled. After all the struggle of the afternoon, now she wanted to play. Despite being tired, John happily obliged, playing with her, tickling her, doing anything he could to make her laugh or smile.

“I love you so much, little one.”

              All too soon, the front door opened, and Dean and Sam came inside. When Evy’s face lit up at the sight of Sam in the doorway, John couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealously. He wanted her to look at him that way. Sam cuddled her a moment, holding her close to his chest.

“Time for bed, Cricket.” Sam announced.

“Goodnight, kiddo.” Dean said, kissing her cheek.

“Goodnight, little one.” John said.

“Daddy!” Evy said, holding her hands out towards him.

              A stunned Sam leaned over so she could get closer to John. Evy grabbed his cheeks in both her chubby little hands and planted a sloppy, wet kiss just next to his eye. John chuckled and kissed her cheek, wishing her good night again. Sam took Evy into the room they shared, praising her on her new word the whole way. John got up and headed to bed himself; they were leaving on a hunt in the morning. His heart felt lighter and more content than it had been in months, and for once he had no nightmares, just dreams where, in the background, he could hear Evy happily chanting ‘Daddy!’.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen

              It had been a full three weeks, and Evy had hoped, prayed even, that the pain would lessen. But it didn’t. So she kept typing away at her laptop, keeping her mind focused on the project that had consumed her for the last two and a half of those three weeks. Sam and Dean had tried to get her to talk, but she wouldn’t. All she told them was that she was working on a surprise for them.

              As she worked, Evy thought about their life the last for the last few weeks. Bobby had died and it was as if all the joy, what little there had been of it, had been sucked out of the lives of her and her brothers. She had thought, as with Sam and Dean, that losing Bobby was just not possible. And now, with Cass gone too, the world suddenly seemed a thousand times scarier than she’d ever remembered it.

              Though she had been planning this for a while, ever since Cass had betrayed them and hurt Sam a few months earlier, it was Bobby’s death that had made her finally decide to take the plunge. She was twenty; it was well past time. She dreaded the conversation with her brothers about it, because the last time a Winchester had tried to leave the family business, it had resulted in a schism that had nearly torn all of them apart forever. But she could not keep putting this off. She also couldn’t leave them with nothing, so she kept working.

              Flashbacks of Bobby in the hospital floated to the surface of her mind. Being in the backseat of the van with him after going after Dick Roman and realizing he had been shot. Screaming at Dean to find a hospital. Holding Bobby’s hand as Sam tried to keep him alive. Waiting for what felt like forever for Bobby to wake up. Getting desperate at one point and finding an empty storage closet to pray to Cass to come heal him. Of course, that hadn’t worked, and hours later, she, Sam, and Dean had been next to Bobby’s bedside when he took his last breath.

              Evy often thought of Bobby as her father, but Bobby’s death had been drastically different from her father’s. Though she’d loved John with all her heart, she just didn’t feel anywhere near as close to him as she had to Bobby. She’d felt upset when John died, but she had been able to move on. With Bobby, a deep, profound ache for him still existed, even weeks after his death. She longed to hear his voice, wrap her arms around his neck and squeeze, and tell him she loved him. She missed his scent, the scratchy feeling of his beard on her cheek when she hugged him, the sound of his endearing “idjit”, and a million other things that she hadn’t thought about until after he’d died. Her words at the funeral that she, Sam, and Dean had held for Bobby also floated in her mind, and she felt proud of herself for being able to say something so fitting.

“You told me once, after Lillith attacked me and I was living with you, that we had made you regret not having kids.” Evy had said. “That you wanted to be the best substitute father you could. But here’s the thing, Bobby. You weren’t a sub. We’d be lost without you.”

              So, somewhat to block out the pain and somewhat to help her move on, Evy kept working, Sam and Dean came back, where she was still feverishly working, though she did tell them that she was almost done and would be able to show them later that night. Sam forced her to stop and eat some dinner. When she finally finished, the clock was reading 10:30pm. Sam and Dean were heading to bed, but came to her when she begged them to. Evy opened her laptop and sat in the middle of Sam and Dean.

“Okay, this is what I’ve been working on.” Evy said.

              She clicked on an icon in the middle of her screen marked “Winchester Adventures”. When it opened, a simple search bar appeared, and there was a picture in the background of John, Sam, Dean, and Evy taken years earlier. There were tabs marked ‘JW Journal’, ‘Bobby’, ‘Hunts’, ‘Untranslated’, ‘Family Stuff’, and finally ‘Add More’. Dean looked lost, but Sam’s mouth was practically dragging the floor.

“Cricket, what is this?” he asked, astonished.

“Well, basically, everything that we’ve ever done.” She said. “Come on, I’ll show you.”               Evy demonstrated ‘Winchester Adventures’ to them. It was a simple database program. She had scanned each page of John’s journal and typed out what was on them. Bobby had made copies of every lore book he’d owned, and had written translations on all the copies. Evy had scanned all the original pages, retyped Bobby’s translations and any notes that he’d made. She had also scanned anything Bobby had that was untranslated, which wasn’t much. She had included notes on all the hunts they had been on together, from the time that she’d joined Sam and Dean on the road way back at Stanford. The notes were thorough and meticulous. They included the town they had visited, the dates they’d been there, what they’d been hunting, what they’d done to take care of whatever they were hunting, and how they’d reached the conclusion of what they needed to do. Finally, she had included all the photos they owned, with a small caption that included who was in the photo, when it was taken, and, if she knew, what was going on. She showed Sam how to add information to the program, and by the time she was finished, both of them were nearly speechless.

“I figured this would help us find stuff a lot faster.” Evy said, unsure how to gauge their speechless reactions.

Dean was the first to speak. “This is great, kiddo.” He said, clapping a hand on her shoulder.

Sam looked pleased, but he had said nothing so far.

“Sammy?” Evy asked.

Sam looked at her thoughtfully. “What are you not telling us?” he asked.

              Dean started to ask Sam what he was talking about, but Evy just sighed. She should have known better than to think that she could hide something like this from Sam. She got up from the couch they were all sitting on, went over to the corner of the room, and pulled out a folded piece of paper she’d been keeping in her backpack. Nervously, she handed it to Sam, who unfolded it and read it several times. Both Evy and Dean watched as Sam’s expression went from suspicious to curious to dumbfounded in a matter of half a minute. When Sam stopped reading, he held the letter tight in his hand, and stared at Evy with his mouth hanging slightly open.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Sam asked.

“Tell us what?” Dean asked, still confused.

              Sam handed him the letter, never taking his eyes off Evy. Dean read it over, his expression the same as Sam’s. Dean read it just as many times as Sam did. Evy had not only been accepted to Princeton University, she had been given a full scholarship with all her living expenses paid. Dean now stared at Evy too, waiting for an explanation.

“I start in the spring.” She said, wishing that they’d say something to break the tension in the room.

              Suddenly Sam did something he’d done thousands of times in her life. He jumped off the couch and grabbed her in a tight bear hug. Evy laughed, squeezing him back. She had figured Sam would be ecstatic, if not over the moon happy. But it had been Dean’s reaction that worried her. She’d wondered whether or not to even tell Sam and Dean together. Dean’s face was still indecipherable, so when Sam let her go, she walked over to him.

“Dean?”

“I’m so proud of you, kid.” Dean said, pulling her in for a hug too, though his was nowhere near as exuberant as Sam’s.

“You’re not mad?” Evy asked, her question muffled from the way she’d buried her face into his shirt.

Surprised, Dean pulled her away from him slightly. “Why the hell would I be mad at you?”

Evy gave him a slightly guilty smile. “You and Dad were mad when Sam left…”

Dean closed his eyes, trying to shut out the unpleasant memory. He wrapped his arms around Evy again. “Listen to me.” He said, pulling her close. “It was a mistake shutting Sam out. For me and Dad. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, me and Sam are here for you. I’m not making that mistake again. Got it?”

“Got it.” Evy said, her arms wrapped around Dean’s waist. “I love you, Deanie.”

“Love you too, kiddo.” Dean replied. “I love you too.”

              Sam, who had been watching from the other side of the room, joined them in a group hug. Evy felt a new rush of emotions now that she wasn’t worried about Dean’s reaction. She was excited for her new life, and scared to start it too. She was happy that Sam and Dean were okay with it, but she was sad to leave them. She still had a few months to worry about it though, and she intended to make the most of it.

“Enough chick flick moments.” She said, moving away from Dean. “Let’s get back to work.”

              And work she did. Evy worked the few months after that with a determination that Sam and Dean had never seen before. She went through cycles of excitedly planning for her new life at Princeton, to dreading leaving Sam and Dean, back to planning. They made two visits to Princeton in the months before she started, and the time came faster than anyone had anticipated.

              A stumbling block came when, two weeks before she was supposed to leave, Sam was admitted into the hospital after a car accident. A very exhausted Sam tried to get her to pack, as she was supposed to leave in five days. Evy assured him she was already packed, but Sam wouldn’t hear it.

“Cricket, you need to be worrying more about yourself right now.” He insisted.

“Sammy, I told you, I’m already packed. You need someone here with you. Someone who understands what you’re going through.” Evy told him, stubbornly refusing to move.

Because he was so tired, Sam did something he almost never did to Evy. He snapped at her. “Understand? There’s no way you understand this…” he started and stopped when he saw the look of fury that crossed Evy’s face.

“I don’t understand this?” she said quietly. “I don’t understand what it’s like for your own brain to be attacking you? Really, Sammy?”

Sam felt terrible. “I’m sorry, Cricket.” He said quietly. “I just feel so tried.” “I know, Sammy.” She said, moving over to sit next to him on the bed. “I wish I could help you get some sleep.”

“You’re helping me right now, Cricket.” Sam assured her. “Talk to me.”

Evy sighed. “You want to talk about me right now?”

“Always.” Sam answered. “How you feeling?” Evy sighed. “Nervous. Excited. Scared. Happy. Emotional.” she answered, laughing as she finished that thought.

Sam nodded. “I remember well.” he said. “What scares you?”

Evy thought carefully for a moment before answering. “Honestly? Being away from you and Dean for so long.”

“Hey. You are going to get so sick of hearing from us. We will call you every day.” Sam said, squeezing her hand. When Evy made a face, he laughed. “Just because we call, doesn’t mean you have to answer every time.” he reminded her.

“Are you gonna hold Dean down when I don’t answer him?” Evy asked.

It was Sam’s turn to chuckle. “Good point.” he said. “All I’m saying is, just like when I went to Stanford, just because I’m not with you doesn’t mean I won’t be there for you. And we’ll visit. As much as we can. Okay?”

Evy smiled, genuinely comforted. “Okay, Sammy.”

“Is anything else bothering you?” Sam asked. “Are you scared of the work?” Evy shook her head firmly. “Nope. I’ve never been worried about that.” she said. She looked at Sam for a long moment before answering, “You taught me that.”

“Taught you what?” Sam asked.

“That I can do anything.” Evy answered.

Sam wasn’t sure how to respond to that, but thankfully Dean came back before he had to. “You ready, kiddo?”

“Yeah.” Evy said. She turned back to Sam and kissed him on the cheek. “Good night, Sammy.”

“Good night, Cricket.” Sam said. “I love you.” “Love you more.” Evy called as she went out the door, not giving him a chance to respond before she was gone.

              Thankfully, Sam was able to leave the hospital the day before Evy left for Princeton. Cass had come back and sacrificed himself for Sam, but Evy had no time to take Cass’s sudden appearance in. Dean and Sam had wanted to drive her there, but Evy had convinced them to put her on a bus. Being away from the hunt for Dick Roman for any amount of time would only make him stronger, she’d said. So, they stood in the bus station that day, making small talk, until all too soon Evy’s bus was called.

“This is it, guys.” she said, turning to them.

              For the first time ever, Dean beat Sam to the punch when it came to hugging Evy. He didn’t let her go as he talked.

“You call us. Every stop. Let us know where you are and how long until your next stop. I don’t care what time it is. Got it?” he said.

“Got it.” Evy said, holding him tight.

“I knew you’d argue with me about it…” Dean said, still holding on to her. “So I hid some cash in your bag. Use it if you need it, okay?”

Evy laughed. “Okay.” Evy squeezed him again. “I love you, Deanie.”

“I love you too, kiddo.” Dean said, finally letting her go with a kiss on her cheek.

              Evy turned to Sam. This was the goodbye she’d been dreading the most. Sam was everything to her. Brother, best friend, father, protector, guardian. Her heart ached at the thought of leaving him. She saw tears shining in his eyes, and knew he was fighting to hold them back. Just as she opened her mouth to say something, Sam grabbed her in a hug.

“I’m so proud of you.” he whispered, his long arms wrapping all the way around Evy.

“I love you, Sammy.” she said. The final boarding call for Evy’s bus came over the speaker. Knowing if she stayed any longer she’d miss her bus, Evy pushed away from Sam. “I got to go.” she said.

              Reluctantly, Sam let her go and watched as she went over to her bus. Evy climbed inside, sat in the front seat directly behind the driver, and waved at the two of them. She could see Sam had allowed one tear to escape. Sam and Dean stayed where they were until the bus was out of sight, then walked back to the car and drove away. Evy sat back in her seat, looking at all the photos on her phone, allowing her tears to escape now too. She thought the entire trip about her life, the people she loved, where she was and how far she’d come to get there. Though there was no telling what the road ahead had for her, she knew that, with her own strength, and her brothers behind her, she’d be able to face anything.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen

              Evy pulled up to the bunker, relieved that her trip was finally drawing to a close. She had hit unbelievable traffic on the way, and had been delayed for hours. She had been working on surprising Sam and Dean with a visit, hoping that she would catch them at a good time. She had seen them quite a few times over the past three years, but the visits had never lasted longer than three or four days before she had to hit the road again and get back to Princeton. Now, she was excited. She had worked her schedule around so that she had nearly three weeks to spend with them.

              Evy had not hunted at all in the time she’d been gone. Mostly at Sam’s insistence, she had focused almost completely on her schoolwork. She had wanted to get a job to take care of herself, but again Sam had told her no; he sent her enough every month to buy groceries. Everything else had been covered by her scholarship. It was that dedication to her studies that had led to the reason for this surprise visit. In her pocket, Evy had a letter announcing that, if she passed all her classes that upcoming semester, she would be eligible to graduate with a Master’s in Paranormal Studies. She had thought about, when she left for Princeton, taking her time and taking summers and breaks off, but instead, she had doubled up on classes, and taken winter and summer classes in order to graduate early. So, as much as it had hurt her to be away from Sam and Dean while most of her classmates were at their own homes, it was now worth it. Five more months and she’d be home. Permanently.

              Evy sat in her car for a moment before going in. Sam and Dean had been through a lot in the previous three years, and Evy still felt a twinge of guilt that she hadn’t been there for most of it. They had found Kevin, who Evy had still never met in person. Then Dean had disappeared for a year after defeating Dick Roman. Evy had constantly wondered what happened to him, and she’d only seen Sam twice in person that year-once at Christmas when he’d come to visit her in school, and once that summer when she’d flown down to Texas to see him. Then Dean had come back, Sam had gone through the trials that had nearly killed him, and they had found the bunker. Dean had kept her updated on everything. At times he’d done too good of a job on that; Evy noticed that he was ending a lot of phone calls with “Don’t worry, kiddo, everything’s okay.”

              Then had come the call she’d been dreading. The one Dean didn’t end with “everything’s okay.” Sam was in the hospital, in a coma, and wasn’t likely to wake up. Evy had driven all night to get to him, and stayed until four days later when he’d been released from the hospital. Evy knew that Dean had done something to bring Sam back, but the fact that he didn’t tell her exactly what made Evy realize she’d better not ask him. If Dean wasn’t forthcoming about it, she knew that the answer would either piss her off, piss Sam off, or both. Sam was back, and she didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

              But all that was on the backburner for now. Now she was home, with both her overprotective brothers and her overprotective angel, and it was time to tell them she was here. Evy took the keys out of the ignition, and decided to leave her bag in the car for now. Putting her keys in her pocket, she walked inside the bunker as quietly as she could. The sheer size of it still took her breath away. The front room alone was bigger than any motel room that she, Sam, or Dean had ever stayed in together. The thing went on for what seemed like miles. When Evy had last visited, for two days after Sam had been released from the hospital, she had attempted to take in every room, but found the task impossible. She’d suggested to Sam that he use the “Winchester Adventures” program to keep track of exactly what was in what room, but Sam had none too gently hinted that that would be her job whenever she returned. Evy cracked a grin when she realized that no one had come out to greet her yet. That thought was interrupted by the all too familiar sound of a gun being cocked.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?”

              Sammy. Instinctively, Evy had thrown up both her hands and turned around slowly. She laughed at the change of expression on Sam’s face. She wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t recognized her. She had cut her hair since she’d last seen him, and changed the color from her natural dark brown to a dark red. He was so stunned that he didn’t lower the gun right away.

“Hi, Sammy.” she said.

“Cricket?” he said quietly in disbelief.

              Evy laughed and nodded. Sam finally lowered the gun, putting it on the table next to him and grabbing her in a hug. Evy chuckled to herself when she realized that although Sam must’ve hugged her close to a million times in her life, she never got tired of the feelings she experienced when he held her close like this. She felt warm, safe, and loved. Loved more than anything or anyone else in the world.

“Cricket, what are you doing here?” Sam asked as he kissed the top of her head. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, Sammy, I’m fine.” she said, pulling away from him slightly.

“Hey, Sammy, who’s the chick…”

              Dean had walked in, and Evy turned around to face him. His expression was just as shocked as Sam’s when he realized who it was. Evy let go of Sam and ran to Dean before Dean had a chance to say anything. Dean held her for a minute before asking the same question that Sam had asked.

“What are you doing here? Are you okay?” he asked.

Evy laughed again. “You two are awfully suspicious. I came to surprise you. But I can always go back to Princeton…”

“No way.” Dean said, grabbing her again. “I see that’s not the only surprise you have.” he said, carding his hand through her hair.

“Yeah….” Evy replied. “What do you think?”

Dean made a face, and Evy got worried for a split second. Then that face turned into a warm smile again.

“You look great, kiddo.” he said.

“Sammy?”

“You’re beautiful.” Sam said without a pause. “How long can you stay?”

“You two are stuck with me for the next two weeks and five days.” Evy said, pushing herself up so she was sitting on the map table.

Both Sam and Dean’s mouths fell open. “Why so long?” Sam asked. “You don’t have any classes?”

“Yeah, that’s your other surprise.” Evy said, reaching in her pocket to pull out her graduation letter.

“Three surprises in one day?” Dean asked.

“Yep.” Evy handed the letter to Sam, who read it out loud to Dean.

“Ms. Winchester, We are pleased to inform you that should you pass all your classes this upcoming term, you will be eligible to…” Sam stopped reading for a moment, attempting to process the new information. “…to graduate at the end of the Spring semester with a Master’s degree in Paranormal Studies.”

              The look on Sam and Dean’s faces made Evy have to suppress a belly laugh. She waited a moment for them to say something, but when they didn’t, she decided to.

“I think I finally achieved the impossible.” she said.

“What do you mean?” Dean asked.

“I made you both speechless.”

              Dean and Sam laughed, and at that moment, a young boy, who Evy thought couldn’t have been more than eighteen, walked in. He held a book in his hand, and started to say something to Sam and Dean, when he spotted the pretty redheaded girl sitting on the table smiling. Kevin started stuttering when he saw Evy. It was clear to everyone in the room that Kevin liked Evy.

“Hi.” Evy said, smiling at him. “You must be Kevin.”

“Uh…uh…yeah.” he said, standing in place. “I’m Evy.” she said, waving at him. “I’m gonna be staying a few days.”

“Um, um….okay.” Kevin said, and Evy fought another laugh when she saw he was blushing.

“Kevin, what were you about to say?” Dean asked, and Kevin pulled Dean over to a different table.

Evy grabbed Sam’s hand to get his attention.

“Yeah, Cricket?” he asked.

“Sammy, I’m starving.” She said.

“What do you want for dinner?” he asked.

“That’s easy.” Dean said, having finished with Kevin and walked back over to them. “Pizza.”

Evy smiled. “You read my mind.” she said.

“Alright. Come on, let’s go.” Sam said. Turning to Kevin, he asked, “Kevin, you wanna come?”

“Um...” he stuttered. “I don’t want to intrude….” “I’m not taking no for an answer!” Evy said over Sam’s shoulder.

              Dinner that night was the most relaxed Evy had been in months. They talked, not about hunting, but about everyday things. Evy told them about her life at Princeton, including one subject that visibly irked Dean.

“Since when do you have a boyfriend?” Dean asked. “And why the hell haven’t we met him?”

              Evy looked up at Sam, who was sitting next to her.  He too seemed curious, though not upset. Evy was smiling, and stirred her water with her straw before replying. She noticed that Kevin had gone quiet and couldn’t look at her without blushing. She decided against saying anything. She thought about changing the subject, but knew that Dean wouldn’t allow it either way. So she told them both the truth.

“His name is Jackson. We’ve actually been together for…a while.” Evy said, taking another bite of her pizza.

“And how long exactly is a while?” Sam asked.

Evy sighed and looked down at the table. “Both of you promise me you won’t be mad.”

“We won’t be, sweetie.” Sam assured her, even though Dean had opened his mouth to protest.

Evy looked at both of them and confessed, “We’ve been together since right after I started at Princeton.” When neither Sam or Dean said anything, she continued. “And he’s met Jody, Charlie, Cass, Claire, and Alex.”

Sam asked, slightly hurt, “Cricket, why wouldn’t you tell us?”

“Sammy, I’m sorry.” Evy said sincerely. “I wasn’t trying to hide it from you. But it seemed like every time I would start to, something else would happen. The first time I was going to bring him to meet you guys, you called and said Dean was missing. The second time was right after you told me about Amelia. The third time was when Dean told me you were about to go complete the third trial.”

Sam and Dean nodded, she actually had a point.

“But the good news is, he’ll be here tomorrow.” Evy said, taking another bite of her pizza. “So I don’t care if you guys hunt the rest of the time I’m here, I want you to meet me at the coffee shop in town tomorrow night.”

“Oh, you better believe we’ll be there.” Dean said, his eyes lighting up with unspoken ideas.

Evy decided to nip his ideas in the bud. “Dean, you’re going to be nice to him. Okay?” “Oh, I’ll be nice.” Dean said. “Promise you I won’t do anything to him.” “Or say anything weird to him.” Evy clarified. “I mean it, Dean. Don’t scare him off.” When Dean said nothing, Evy turned to Kevin. “That’s it. Kevin, you’re coming too. I can see I’m going to need some backup.” “Why aren’t you warning Sam?” Dean noted.

“Because I don’t have to warn Sam not to do anything crazy.” she said.

Sam smirked next to her in evident triumph.

“What are you smirking at, bitch?” Dean asked.

“Apparently I’m not as big a jerk as you, jerk.” Sam responded.

“That doesn’t mean the same thing doesn’t go for you.” Evy said. “Either one of you says or does something I don’t like, I’ll make the monsters we’ve hunted seem like a walk in the park. Got it?”

“Got it.” They both responded at the same time.

“Good.” Evy let out a long sigh. “Come on, let’s go back to the bunker. I’m falling asleep here.”

               `The four of them headed back to the bunker, where Evy promptly headed to bed. The next morning, as Sam and Dean sat in the kitchen eating their breakfast, they were both shocked when they heard singing coming from down the hall.

“If I just breathe, let it fill the space between, I’ll know, everything is all right.” Evy came into the kitchen and headed to the coffeepot, still singing at the top of her lungs, ear to ear grin on her face. “Breathe, every little piece of me, you’ll see, everything is all right, if I just breathe.” She stopped singing as she turned to face Dean and Sam. “Morning, guys.”

Sam chuckled. “You’re in a good mood.”

“Yep.” She said as she finished filling her thermos. She kissed Sam and Dean both on the cheek.

“Care to share?” Dean asked. “You’ve never exactly been a morning person.”

“Sure, why not?” Evy said. “Jack got here early. I’m going to meet him in a minute. We’re gonna spend the day together before we all meet up tonight.”

              Dean started to object, but Evy was already heading out the door. Sam wished her a good day, and Evy headed out towards town. Her heart felt lighter than it had in years. Jack was here, her family was back together, and her life was finally in place. Everything really was, as her favorite song said, all right.

              Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long. Evy pulled up to the café Jack had asked her to meet him at, and walked inside. She spotted Jack over in the corner, and started to run to him, until she saw that he wasn’t alone. A familiar looking brunette woman sat with him, laughing at something he was saying. When Evy headed towards them, it suddenly dawned on her who the woman was. “Casey?” she said.

The woman turned around, her identity confirmed. “Hey, girl. Surprise!” she said, getting up to hug her.

“Hi, what are you doing here?” Evy asked, hugging her back.

“Hey, sweetie.” Jack said quietly, offering her a hug and kiss, which Evy returned as well. “We need to talk to you.”

              Evy’s heart suddenly lodged in her throat. She didn’t like Jack’s tone, and Casey was suddenly looking guilty too. Evy quietly took a chair on the other side of the table, and a waitress came over to ask Evy if she wanted anything. Evy requested a glass of ice water. Once the waitress had scampered off, Evy turned back to the two people in front of her. Casey had been her roommate for the last year and a half, and had turned into her best friend. Evy waited for an explanation. There was an awkward silence, and Jack started to talk.

“Sweetheart, I need to tell you something. We need to tell you something.” Jack said.

“Okay. You two are scaring me. What’s going on?” Evy said, though she had a sick feeling she knew what it was already.

Jack took a breath and finally told her. “Casey and I are together.”

I cannot have heard that right. Evy thought. “What do you mean, you two are together?”

Casey took over from there. “We’re together. We’re a couple. We have been for a few months now.”

              Evy’s brain seemed to stall. She just could not process what the two of them were telling her. No one said anything, and once the shock wore off, the famous Winchester temper started to take over. The waitress came over, and Evy thanked her with gritted teeth. She didn’t drink the water though; she just sat there stirring it with the straw.

“Why?” she finally asked quietly, not looking at either of them.

“Sweetie…” Jack started.

“Don’t call me that.” Evy responded bitterly, finally looking at him with a hateful glare.

“Evy, we’re sorry. We didn’t want to hurt you.” Casey said.

“You didn’t want to hurt me?” Evy said, voice getting noticeably louder with every word. “My best friend and my boyfriend are sleeping together, and the two of you didn’t want to hurt me? How long has this been…” Before Evy could finish her question, the answer hit her. “Oh, my God. You two started this when my brother was in the coma, didn’t you?”

Both looked at each other, guilt clearly etched on their faces.

“Wow. I am so stupid.” Evy said, burying her face in her hands. “I actually felt guilty for not spending enough time with you.” she said to Jack.

“It started before your brother was in the coma.” Jack confessed. “What? When?” Evy demanded.

“It started when you went to see your brother in Texas.” he said.

Evy’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. “That was almost two years ago. We’ve only been together for two and a half.” She turned to Casey. “You’ve been sleeping with him the entire time we’ve been friends.”

It wasn’t a question, so Casey just nodded.

“Wow.” Evy laughed humorlessly. She got up and started to head out the door, her water having not been touched. “You guys sure came a long way just to humiliate me.”

“We didn’t come to humiliate you.” Jack said. “We came because we just got tired of lying to you.” “Wait.” Evy noticed something on Casey’s hand. “Why did you come all the way here? Why not wait until I got back to Prinecton?”

If possible, Casey looked even more guilty.

“We’re on the way to see my family.” Jack explained. “I asked Casey to marry me last night. We’re engaged.” “Wow.” Evy breathed out, blinking back tears as she gripped the table to steady herself. The first tear slipped down her cheek. “Wow.”

“Evy, I’m sorry…” Jack started to say.

              Evy chose to ignore him, getting up and starting to walk to the door. But, unknown to him, Jack got stupid and grabbed her shoulder. Evy, who was normally the calmest and most collected of her siblings, suddenly did something that would have astounded both her brothers had they been there. When she felt Jack’s hand on her shoulder, she turned around and punched him in the nose as hard as she could. Casey jumped up, shocked, and went to check on him. Jack was sitting up with a bloody nose. The waitress came back over to the table, offering to call the police.

“No.” Jack said, to everyone’s surprise. “No, let her go. I deserved it.”

              Evy didn’t waste time; she turned on her heel and ran to her car. She sped back towards the bunker, wiping tears away as she drove. She reached the bunker in a blur, flung open the door and ran down the stairs. Sam was in the front room, presumably researching cases. When she came in the door, he checked his watch to be sure that he and Dean weren’t late.

“Hey, you’re home early…” he started to comment, and stopped when he saw her face. “Cricket, what’s wrong?”

              Evy said nothing, just started sobbing, and Sam immediately got up and swept her in his arms. She cried inconsolably for several minutes, until she was finally calm enough Sam led her to a chair and sat her down. Sam knelt down in front of her. Though her sobbing had stopped, she was still crying, and Sam reached up and wiped tears away with his thumb, just like he’d done when she was little.

“Cricket, please tell me what’s going on.” he asked gently. “Talk to me.”               The story came out in pieces, amidst broken sobs and even more tears. When she had finally gotten the whole story out, Sam sat in a stunned silence for a minute before murmuring “Wow.” Her tears had finally stopped, at least for the moment, but she still appeared miserable. Sam wrapped her in another hug, unsure of how to help her this time. Until he got an idea.

“Come on.” he said, pulling her arm and leading her down the hall.

              Evy had no clue where he was leading her to, but she complied; he led her down the hallway and into his room, where he sat her up on the bed. He started Netflix on his TV and handed her the remote. She smiled, picked out a movie that she’d never seen, a comedy, and settled back while Sam went into the kitchen. He came back several minutes later with two heaping bowls of chocolate ice cream. He handed her one, and she couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face. They finished the first movie and were about to start the second when Dean walked in.

“Hey, I thought we were all going…” he stopped talking immediately when he saw Evy, who was cuddled next to Sammy, with her red rimmed bleary eyes. “What the hell happened?” he asked.

Evy gave him the abridged version, pushing herself up to a sitting position. “Jack dumped me.”

she said, wiping her eyes again.

Sam reached over and rubbed her back gently, but Dean’s temper flared up. “What? Why?”

“He’s been sleeping with my best friend.” Evy said, and her voice broke a little.

Dean had to stop himself from shouting. “That son of a bitch.” The sight of Evy in pain, so clearly heartbroken, activated every big brother instinct he had. “I’m gonna lay his ass flat on the ground.”

Realizing that she had left that part of the story out when talking to Sammy about it, she smiled. “I, um, kinda already did that.”

“You what?” Sam and Dean asked at the same time.

“Yeah. I punched him right before I left the café.” she said.

Sam was too stunned to speak, but Dean was clearly proud. “Did you put your weight behind it?”

Evy nodded. “I bloodied his nose.”

“That’s my girl.” Dean said proudly, walking over to give her a hug. “Dean, what if he calls the cops?” Sam asked, worried.

“The waitress at the café tried.” Evy told him from over Dean’s shoulder. “Jack told them not to. Said he deserved it.” “Well, at least he wasn’t stupid about one thing.” Dean answered. “Even if he was about giving you up.” Evy squeezed Dean a bit tighter and buried her face in his shoulder. “Thanks, Deanie.” she whispered.

“Anytime, kiddo.” Evy let him go. Dean stroked her hair and cheek for a moment before asking, “How’d you meet this jerk?”

Evy smiled again, but this time there was no humor behind it. “He wasn’t a jerk when I met him.” she said. She leaned back against the headboard on Sam’s bed, and took a deep breath before telling them the story. “When you were in purgatory and Sam was drifting around, there were nights I missed the two of you so bad that all I could do was cry.”

“Oh, Cricket.” Sam said quietly.

Evy continued on. “Jack came over one night to borrow some notes that he’d missed in class. He saw I’d been crying and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t really want to talk about it, so he talked about anything else he could think of to get me to laugh. I finally told him that I had one brother that had gone missing and one that was drifting. He came over every night after that for more than two months. He called and texted me all the time, reminding me I could talk to him any time I wanted.”

“Cricket, I’m sorry.” Sam said, brushing back a stray piece of her hair. “For everything.”

“They told me today that he started seeing Casey when I came to see you and Amelia in Texas.” Evy told him.

Sam had a nearly identical reaction to that revelation as Evy’s had been. “That was, what, two years ago?”

“Yep.” Evy said angrily. “So, as grateful as I am that he was there for me when I needed him, I wish he was here so I could punch him again. I feel so stupid, letting him lead me on like that for two years.”

“Hey.” Sam said, grabbing her hand. “Listen to me. The last thing you are is stupid. The stupid one here is the two of them. None of this is on you, okay?”

Evy sniffed and nodded. “Okay, Sammy.”

“What do you want for dinner?” Dean asked. “Your choice. Whatever you want.”

Evy thought about it for a moment before responding, “Breakfast.” she said.

“I like the way you think.” Dean said.

              They worked together to make dinner, and eventually Kevin came in to join them. Sam and Dean did everything they could to keep her laughing, including Dean lightly teasing her out of Kevin’s earshot about the fact that Kevin so clearly had a crush on her. By the time she was headed to bed, she had all but completely put Jack and Casey out of her mind. She knew it would be awkward going back to Princeton, as she would have to make arrangements to move out when she got there, but for right now, she had two and a half more weeks with Sam and Dean, and she intended to make the most of it. But, as she had been afraid it would, everything went to hell.

              Sam and Dean left on a hunt, leaving Evy alone in the bunker with Kevin. They had offered to let her go with them, but Evy couldn’t quite stomach the idea of hunting again. She spent the time exploring the bunker, taking in what it had to offer. When Sam and Dean came back home, they caught her up on the case, but Evy had her mind on Sam. There was something…off about him. She couldn’t place it, but he was different. Five days after arriving, Evy finally found out why. Sam had left on a beer run hours earlier. Evy had been a little hurt when he didn’t ask her to go with him, but she hadn’t said anything. When he arrived home later, Dean asked her to meet him in his room because they needed to talk alone. Evy couldn’t believe what she heard.

“YOU DID WHAT?” Evy shouted.

“Shhh. Stop yelling, I don’t want Kevin to know.” Dean said.

Infuriated, Evy walked around the room for a moment, before finally going to the wall and folding her arms against her chest. “You let an angel possess Sam? How did you even do that?” she asked.

Dean swallowed. “I tricked him into it.” “Dean…” she said, shaking her head.

“It was the only way to save him.” Dean said.

That stopped the objection that had suddenly risen in Evy’s throat.

“Listen, there’s a problem.” Dean said.

Another one?” Evy asked. “Besides the fact that Sam’s gonna kill you when he finds out?”

“Yeah. Besides that.” Dean said. “The angel possessing Sam isn’t who he said he was. He told me his name was Ezekiel. Cass vouched for him, but Ezekiel died when the angels fell.”

“So who’s in Sam?” Evy asked, alarmed.

“I don’t know.” Dean said. “Whoever it is, I’m gonna find out.” “How?”

“Kevin found a spell. I can disable the angel in Sam for a minute and tell him what’s going on.” Dean explained. “Hopefully if Sam knows there’s an angel in him he can find out who it is himself.”

Evy continued standing against the wall shaking her head.

“Look, I want you there when I tell him.” Dean said. “That’s why I told you first.” “No.” Evy firmly refused. “No way.”

“Kiddo, please…” Dean started to beg.

“No, Dean.” Evy refused again. She ran her hand through her hair in frustration. “Look, I’m not mad at you, but I’m not happy with you either. Sam is going to explode when he finds out, and I’m not sticking around for that.”

 “You’re not leaving…” Dean asked, and looked devastated at the very thought.

              Evy had been thinking about it, but at the crushed look on Dean’s face, she decided not to. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes in frustration. She had wanted, so bad, to come back and just see her brothers for a few days, and now, just like normal, everything was going wrong. She had gotten so used to getting what she was sure was Dean’s watered down versions of everything, that she had forgotten what it felt like to be in the thick of the drama. Though she sometimes missed going after monsters with them, she did not miss the fighting that sometimes occurred between them. It looked like this was one of those times.

“No.” she finally said, opening her eyes after a long pause. “No, I’m not leaving. I’ll get a room in town for the night. But you have to tell Sam. Tonight. Because if I come back tomorrow morning and you haven’t done it, I will. He needs to know, Dean.”

Dean nodded. “Okay. Just be careful. Please.”

“I will.” Evy promised. “I’ll text you when I have the room and call you before I go to bed.”

“Alright. Good night, kiddo.”

“Good night, Dean.” Evy said.

              She started to go out the door, but suddenly turned back and went back to Dean. She wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed. Dean held her as tight as she did him.

“I know you meant well.” Evy said. “I’m not mad at you. I’m not. But enough lying. Sam needs to know the truth.” “I know.” Dean said. “I’m just afraid he’s gonna leave when he finds out.” “I don’t think he will. We’ve been through worse than this. But even if he does, I’m still here. Okay?”

“Thanks, kiddo.” Dean said. “Thanks.”

              Evy squeezed Dean tightly one more time, kissed his cheek and started out the door. She stood in the doorway to his room and offered him an everything will be okay, I promise type of smile, which he returned, though she knew that, at this point, neither of them truly felt that way. Evy left the bunker after a brief, perfunctory goodbye with Kevin, piled in her car and headed back towards town. A deep sense of impending doom bothered her the entire way, but she did her best to try to ignore it. She stopped and got a fast food burger, found the lone motel in town, checked in, went into the room, and laid down on the bed. Just when she was about to close her eyes to take a nap, her cell phone and the phone to the room rang simultaneously. Groaning, she sat up and answered the motel phone first. “Hello?” she said.

“Ms. Winchester, I’m sorry to bother you. This is the front desk manager. There’s a gentleman here named Sam Winchester asking to see you.”

“It’s okay, he can come down.” Evy said, surprised. Her desire for a nap was suddenly forgotten.

“Yes, m’am. He’ll be right there.” the front desk manager said.

              Evy sat up and waited. She checked the clock and realized it had only been a little over an hour since she’d left Dean. She glanced at her phone and spotted a missed call from him. Figuring that he was calling to tell her Sam was on his way, she decided to wait to call him until that night. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.

“It’s open, Sammy.”

Sam walked in and spotted her on the bed. “Hi, Cricket.”

“Hey.” Evy answered. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Dean told me you’d left and gotten a room.” Sam said. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just figured you and Dean would be fighting tonight, so I got out of the bunker.” Evy explained.

“Yeah.” Sam said darkly, walking over to sit on the edge of the bed.

“I take it that means he talked to you.” Evy said.

Sam nodded, running a hand through his hair. “What the hell, Cricket?”

“Hey, don’t get mad at me!” Evy said defensively. “I didn’t know anything about it until he told me about an hour ago.”

“No, I know.” Sam explained. “I’m not mad at you. I mean what the hell was Dean thinking?”

“He was trying to save your life.” Evy said.

“Yeah, that’s the problem.” Sam replied. “He saved my life by lying to me about something huge like this.”

“What would you have said if he told you the truth?” Evy asked, fearful that she already knew the answer.

“I would have said no.” Sam said. .

Yeah, that’s the problem. Evy thought, though she didn’t say it.

“Look, I don’t want to really go back to the bunker.” Sam said. “You mind if I stay here with you?”

“Sure.” Evy said. She really wanted to be alone, but felt terrible about turning him away. She was suddenly exhausted. “I was gonna take a nap though.” she said, yawning.

“Okay.” Sam said. “I’ll just watch a little TV. Maybe order some pizza.”

Evy nodded, still yawning. “’Kay, Sammy.” she said as she turned to lay down on the bed.

              Evy had a deep, dreamless sleep, but when she woke up, she was hazy. She shook her head to clear it, and realized immediately that she was in the front passenger seat of the Impala. And the Impala was moving. What the…? Evy thought as she sat up. Sam was driving, and she could see she had been asleep for hours. It had been a little after ;one when Sam had come to join her at the motel, and it was pitch black outside now. When Evy tried to pull her hands to her face, she realized with a start that she was tied up.

“Sammy?” she asked, frightened. “Sammy, what’s happening?”

Sam said nothing, just continued to stare out the windshield and drive.

“Sammy, what’s…” the answer came to her quickly, and her heart dropped into her stomach like a stone. “You’re not Sammy, are you?”

“No.” the fake Sam said. “I am not.”

              Evy fought off panic and forced herself to remain calm. She took a few steadying breaths and cursed herself mentally when a single tear slipped down her cheek. She wanted more than anything to reach up and wipe that tear away, but she was still tied up. She turned her face away, but whoever Sammy really was right now didn’t miss that. Though it was late at night and there was no one around them, the car slowed significantly when she turned away. “Please do not be frightened.” Ezekiel said. “I am not going to harm you.”

Despite her fear, Evy laughed bitterly. “Yeah. Tying me up and kidnapping me is the best way to show me that.”

Fake Sam sighed. “I was afraid you would not come with me otherwise.” he explained. “I’m sorry I had to trick you.”

Knowing it was no use hiding it now, Evy’s lip trembled and she asked with a broken voice, “Is Sammy dead?”

              Ezekiel slowed the car down to a crawl and finally pulled over to the corner. Evy continued to stare out the window, unable to look at whoever it was in the car with her. Her heart hurt, and she wanted Sammy more than ever. The thought of him being gone caused her to cry harder, and she found that she didn’t care now.

“Please listen to me.” Ezekiel said. “Sam is not dead.”

              That answer was enough to make Evy forget about trying not to look at him. She turned and looked him in the eye. She immediately regretted it. Despite knowing for a fact that it wasn’t Sam looking at her, his constantly worry-filled hazel eyes seemed to pierce her with their intensity. A small part of her wanted to reach out and hug Sam, and she had to stop herself. He’s not Sammy, she reminded herself. Collecting herself, she asked,

“He’s not?”

“No.” Fake Sam answered. “He’s alive. I have him tucked away in a corner of his mind. He thinks he’s working a case with Dean.”

“Has it ever been Sam?” Evy asked.

“I don’t understand.” Ezekiel asked.

“Did he ever really wake up from that coma?” Evy clarified. “Has he been around at all?”

Fake Sam looked…was that guilt? Evy wondered. He looked down towards the floor for a moment, then back at her, before responding with a sad, “No.”

“So...” Evy said, her emotions threatening to overtake her. “The other night, with Jack. That wasn’t Sammy trying to make me feel better….”

“I was trying to comfort you.” Ezekiel said. “You seemed to be in pain, and I wanted to, as you say, make you feel better.”

It was becoming harder and harder for Evy to not cry. “Well, I have to hand it to you.” she said. “I know Sammy better than anyone else. You sure fooled me.”

“If you want,” Ezekiel said, “I will untie you now.”

“Too late.” Evy said. She had untied herself, and showed him both her hands to prove it.

Ezekiel smiled. “You really are quite clever.” he remarked.

Despite the circumstances, she smiled. “Thank you.”

“There’s something you should know.” Ezekiel said. “Though I created the scenario running in your brother’s head right now, he is in control of it. He makes the decisions. I have all his memories, all his emotions.”

“What’s your point?” Evy asked, rubbing her wrists where they had been bound.

“My point is this.” Ezekiel said. “You are very precious to your brother. He loves you more than anything else. He is very proud of you.”

“I know that.” Evy said, slightly softer than she had been before, and another tear slipped down her cheek.

“I do not intend to occupy your brother forever.” Ezekiel said. “I will leave as soon as he is fully recovered. But that will take time.”

              Evy said nothing at first, just regarded the faux Sam in front of her for a moment. He seemed genuine, but the fact remained that he wasn’t Sammy. What she needed at that moment was her brother, telling her that everything would be okay. His words from long before echoed in her mind. We’ll be okay as long as we stick together. Suddenly, her emotional brain cleared, and a frightening thought came to her mind. 

“What did you do?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” Ezekiel asked.

“I know Sammy.” Evy said. “I know what he does and how he acts when he’s done something that he’s not proud of. So what did you do?”

Another frightening thought occurred to her. “Is Dean…?”

“Dean is fine.” Ezekiel said. “Don’t worry.”

“And Kevin?”

Ezekiel actually flinched, and Evy finally put the pieces together. “So you killed Kevin, and took me, and Sam.” Evy actually laughed. “You know you’re a dead man walking, right?”

“I will not harm you.”

“Yeah, good luck using that excuse when Dean and Cass catches up with you.” Evy remarked. “And what’s to stop me from jumping out of the car right now?”

“The fact that although I haven’t killed your brother, I will if you escape.”

              Evy felt as if a cold hand was now taking ahold of her heart. She saw that he was serious, and after a long silence, she said quietly,

“Are you going to kill me too?”

“No.” Ezekiel said. “No, as I said, I will not harm you. But if you leave my presence, I will kill your brother.”

“Don’t hurt him.” Evy said. “Please. I’ll stay with you, just please, leave Sammy alone.”               Ezekiel nodded and turned towards the steering wheel again. He started the car and continued to drive. Where they were going or how long it would be until they got there she didn’t know. Evy was sure by now that Dean and Cass were looking for her. But with no phone, and no way of reaching out to Cass without alerting whoever it was that was driving, Evy leaned back against the passenger side door and stared outside. Her mind drifted in a few different directions. She thought about her father and brothers, her few hazy memories she had in the early days before she had ever even heard of hunting. She thought of her days at Stanford with Sam and Jess. She had never told anyone this, but while she had lived there, in order to help soothe her pain about her absent father, she had thought of Sam as her father and Jess as her mother. Dean had been some long lost hero brother off fighting the monsters in a distant part of the world. She thought about her life on the road with Sam and Dean. How much the three of them had been through and still come out of it all truly amazed her. Jess dying. Elizabeth the Reaper.  John’s death. Sam’s first death. Dean’s hell deal. Sam going to hell and coming back a shell of himself. Sam losing his mind after getting his soul back. Bobby’s death. Her attack by Lillith, which probably had the longest far reaching physical consequences of everything that had ever happened to her. She still walked with a bit of a limp. She still had days where there was pain in the back of her leg and arm. And it was on those days where, even if she could fool her brothers that everything was okay, Cass still looked at her with so much guilt and sadness. As if on cue, her leg began to throb; she reached back and rubbed it without thought.

“You are in pain?” Ezekiel suddenly said, breaking her out of her thoughts.

Annoyed slightly at being broken out of her trance, Evy answered curtly, “I’m fine.”

“Your leg is bothering you?” he asked, slowing the car down. Was he actually concerned? “Leave me alone.” she said. “What do you care anyways?”

Ezekiel sighed. “I told you, Cricket, I’m not going to harm you.” he said patiently.

“Don’t call me that!” she said sharply, looking up from her seat. “Only Sammy can call me that.”

“Very well.” Ezekiel said, though he clearly was not happy. “I’m sorry, it seemed to calm you before…”

“Just…” Evy realized she would get nowhere snapping at him. She took a deep breath to calm herself. “I just don’t like anyone other than Sammy to call me that.”

“I understand.” Ezekiel said. “I am sorry. It is not my desire to cause you any pain.”

Evy leaned back against the passenger seat again. She looked out the window for a few moments before saying, “May I ask you something?”

“Of course.” Ezekiel answered.

“You seem very…..kind.” Evy observed. “Why are you doing this?” she asked, her voice breaking.

              Ezekiel sighed deeply, putting his hand on the steering wheel in much the same way that Sam used to do when he was driving. It hurt Evy’s heart to see it, but she said nothing. She just waited patiently for him to say something. It took what felt like a long time, but finally Ezekiel started talking.

“A long time ago, I made a mistake.” Ezekiel said slowly. “A terrible mistake. I’ve been paying for it ever since. I have a chance to redeem myself now, and I’m going to take it.”

              Evy listened to what Ezekiel was saying, and surprised him when her reaction was to start chuckling.

“You find my story humorous?” Ezekiel asked, a mixture of curiosity and hurtin his voice.

“No.” Evy answered. “I find it humorous how much like Sam you actually are.” At Ezekiel’s puzzled expression, she explained while looking away and thinking about her wayward brother again, “when I was little and had a hard time understanding something, he’d make it into a story. Then he’d help me fill in the blanks on my own.”

“I see.” Ezekiel said, cracking a grin for the first time. “Did it help?”

“Sometimes.” Evy smiled. “Sometimes I’d pretend I didn’t understand just so he’d hold me or talk to me.” “He knew.” Ezekiel told her.

“He knew what?” Evy asked.

“He knew that’s  what you were doing.” Ezekiel explained as they turned a corner on the dark, desolate road. “He knew and didn’t care. He loved being close with you, holding and comforting you.” Ezekiel looked at her for a moment, taking in her surprise at hearing that Sam figured out her secret. “You are much more like Sam’s child than his sister.”

“Yeah, that seems to be a Winchester family trait.” Evy remarked dryly. “Dean raised Sam, Sam raised me.”

Ezekiel nodded. “You are very fortunate to have them.”

“I know.” she said. “I know.”

              The car lapsed into silence once again. Ezekiel drove for another half hour or so, before pulling up to a house in a nice neighborhood. Evy was frightened when she realized that she had no idea where they were. She believed Ezekiel when he said that he didn’t want to hurt her. But she also believed him when he said he’d hurt Sam if she left. Though she hadn’t asked him outright, she figured that he had taken her in order to stop Dean from coming after him. Whatever he was doing here at the house, he wanted privacy. When he finally stopped the car, Ezekiel turned to her.

“I need you to stay in the car.”

“Why?” Evy asked. “What are you going to do?” “That is none of your concern.” Ezekiel said. “Stay here.”

“You trust me not to run?” Evy asked.

“Yes.” Ezekiel said. “Please, just stay in the car.”

“Why?” Evy asked. “What are you going to do?” she repeated.

“I don’t want you to see this.” Ezekiel said. “However you feel about me right now, I do not want you to see your brother do what he’s about to do. I don’t want that in your head.”

              Evy wanted to fight him. She wanted to spit in his face, push him, run out of the car, scream for Cass. She wanted to argue that she had seen Sam kill before, and that he didn’t need to protect her from that. But instead, for reasons that boggled her mind, she found herself nodding and not arguing with him.

“I’ll stay in the car.” she whispered, finding it painful to look in Sammy’s eyes, but unable to look away.

“Thank you.” he said. “I may be awhile. You should rest.”

“I’m hungry.” Evy said, unable to stop herself.

“When I am finished here,” Ezekiel said, “we will get something to eat.”

              Evy nodded, and leaned back in the seat to wait for him. She didn’t know how long she was in there, but it felt like hours. She was so deeply buried in her own thoughts that when the passenger side door opened, she nearly screamed.

“Evelyn.” a familiar deep voice greeted her. “Are you all right?”

“Cass!” Evy said, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Cass comforted her for a second before another familiar voice met her ears. “Hey, kiddo, you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Evy said as she flung one arm around Dean’s neck too. “Dean, it’s not Sammy.” “I know.” Dean said simply.

“No, I mean….” Evy pulled away from Dean and wiped a tear away from her eye. “I mean it’s never been Sammy. It’s been Ezekiel the whole time.”

“What?” Dean asked. “How did you know that?”

“He told me.” Evy answered.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Cass asked. “He didn’t hurt you?”

“I’m fine.” Evy repeated. “Alright, come on.” Dean said. “We’re going in to get him.”

“NO!” Evy said. “No, I have to stay in the car. He said if I didn’t he’d kill Sammy.”

“Baby, we’ll get to him before he does anything to Sammy…” Dean said.

“No, Dean!” Evy insisted. “I’m not taking that type of chance. I’m staying out here.”

Dean sighed. “Okay.” he said, and kissed her forehead. “We’ll be back.”

              Evy nodded, and watched them walk inside. A few minutes later, they came out. Dean was in front and headed for the Impala. He opened the driver’s side door and sat down, putting the key in the ignition and starting the car. Cass came to the backseat and started to put Sam inside, but Evy stopped him.

“Cass, do you mind taking him in your car?” she asked.

Cass stopped what he was doing and looked at her for a long moment before responding. “Crowley will have to go with you and Dean.”               A still handcuffed Crowley was standing in the back. Evy glared at him. Dean watched tensely as the two of them stared each other down. Crowley made no secret of the fact that he admired Evy. Crowley had attempted to kidnap her from Sam and Dean once. They had only gotten a few miles away before Sam and Dean found Crowley tied up on the side of the road, a grinning in triumph Evy standing next to him. Ever since, Crowley had kept a respectful distance from Evy, even trying to recruit her at times. Evy’s glare turned into a snarky scowl.

“I can handle him.” she said.

“Very well.” Cass said, and closed the door to drag Ezekiel over to his car.

Crowley climbed into the backseat directly behind Dean. “Guess you really do like me, huh?”

Evy sat up perfectly straight and didn’t so much as blink. “You so much as look at me wrong, I’ll make you wish you were dead.”

Crowley laughed. “I love you too, darling.”

              Evy scowled, but turned around in her seat and looked out the window as the Impala drove closer to the spot Crowley pointed out to them. Dean gave her a brief talk about what it was they were planning to do. He gave Evy the opportunity to take the Impala and go back to the bunker, but she refused. Dean tried to make her do it, but Eyv told him to “make me” and turned to Crowley and told him to “get to work”.

              The next few hours tore and shredded at Evy’s heart, as Sam was basically tortured in front of her in order to cast out the angel inside of him. Dean watched her carefully. She was clearly emotional, but pushing all those emotions down in order to be there for Sam. She flinched whenever Sam would start screaming, but she did not look away. As Crowley shoved another needle into Sam’s brain, his seventeenth by Evy’s count, she had finally had enough and turned to leave the room. Cass followed her out.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

Evy laughed bitterly. “No.” she said.

“Sorry.” Cass said. “Guess that was a dumb question.”

“No, I’m sorry.” Evy said. “I just can’t….watch….” Evy pointed back towards the room where Sam was being held, and where his shouts were still coming through, and Cass noticed a tear escaping from the corner of her eye.

“Me neither.” Dean said. He had come to join them, and upon seeing Evy start to break down, he had grabbed her and embraced her.

              Dean and Cass made some small talk, while Evy kept hold of Dean’s shirt the entire time. Eventually Crowley called them all back inside. They came up with a plan to get the angel, whose name was revealed as Gadreel, out of Sam. Though Evy was, to say the least, uncomfortable with the plan, she went along with it, and eventually a fully awake Sam greeted her. “Cricket?” he asked, amazed. “What are you doing here?”

Evy laughed as she helped Sam up. “That’s a long story, Sammy. Let’s get out of here and I’ll tell you, okay?”

              Everyone piled to cars, Cass, Sam, and Evy all riding together, while Dean drove the Impala. Sam was mostly aware of everything that had happened, but there were still fuzzy pieces to his memory. He asked Evy about Jack, and she gave him the shortened version; she didn’t want him dealing with that in his already fragile state. Eventually, after making it back to Lebanon, Dean texted Sam and asked him to meet at the bridge in town. Though it was raining, they all piled out of their respective cars and met on the bridge. Evy stood next to Sam, as Cass healed him briefly. Sam appeared to be better, but Cass informed him that it would take time to fully heal him before walking off and away from the three of them. No one said anything at first, until Dean broke the silence.

“Alright, come on. Let me have it.”

Sam looked at him with a glare. “What do you want me to say? That I’m pissed? Okay. I’m pissed.”

              Evy said nothing as the two of them talked, just looked down at the pier. She was conflicted. She completely understood Dean’s decision to save Sammy the way he did. Even though she knew it was wrong, she felt grateful that he’d had the gumption to do it. If he hadn’t, Sam wouldn’t be there right then. But she also understood Sam being pissed off. No matter what was going on, it wasn’t okay to trick Sam into this.

“Cricket?” Sam’s voice suddenly snapped Evy out of her thoughts. “Yeah?”

“I said, what do you think?” He asked. “Did you know Dean did this?”

“No.” Evy answered. “Not until right before Gadreel took me.”

Sam nodded and started to say something else to Dean, but Evy wasn’t finished. “But I’m not sorry that he did.” She felt Sam looking at her before she saw him. As much as it hurt, she looked up to him. “Look, I get it. You have every right to be pissed at Dean. But I’m glad he did what he did. I’d rather have you alive and pissed off than….”

              Evy stopped; even the mere mention of what might have happened to Sam was too much. She stepped apart from them and went over to Cass, who placed a hand on her shoulder to try and comfort her. A few minutes later, Dean climbed into the Impala and drove away. Cass, Sam, and Evy drove back to the bunker, no one saying much of anything. When they arrived, Evy went straight to her room and got ready for bed. She had four more days before having to be back at school, and intended to use all of it, despite knowing that it would be tense. When she was ready to go to sleep, she walked back out into the main room of the bunker, where Sam was sitting at the map table, a glass of whiskey in his hand. She was worried he was upset with her about what she’d said on the bridge, so she stayed back cautiously.

“Good night, Sammy.”

Sam turned to her, and, to her relief, smiled. “Good night, Cricket.”

Wanting to make sure, she asked, “Are you mad at me, Sammy?”

Sam seemed surprised. “Mad at you for what?”

Evy walked closer to him, leaning against the edge of the map table. “For what I said on the bridge.”

Sam gave a heavy sigh and put his glass down. He looked at Evy for a long moment before answering. “No, honey. I’m not mad at you.” Sam assured her.

              Evy walked over to him and wrapped both arms around his neck. Sam patted her arm as she kissed the top of his head.

“I’m glad you’re okay.” Evy whispered.

“I’m fine, Cricket.” Sam answered. “I’m okay.”

“Alright.” Evy answered, turning to go back to her room. “What about you?” Sam asked.

Evy went back over to him. “What do you mean?”

“I’m starting to get my memories back. I remember what happened with Jack.” Sam answered.

“Oh.” Evy had all but forgotten about Jack in all the stress surrounding Sam and Gadreel. She walked back over to Sam. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry, Cricket.” Sam said. “I wish that had worked out for you. I really do.”

“Thanks.” Evy said, sighing. “I just wish I had introduced him to you guys earlier. You might have spotted something I didn’t.” “Why didn’t you?” Sam asked.

“Honestly?” Evy said. She took a deep breath before answering. “I loved Jack. I really did. But I wanted to be sure about him before I introduced him to you and Dean.”

“Two years? You weren’t sure by then?” Sam asked.

“Guess not.” Evy replied bitterly.

“It’ll be okay, Cricket.”

Evy looked at him and smiled. It seemed to be Sam’s second nature to try and make her feel better, even when he felt lousy himself. “I know.” she replied. “I’m not really worried about Jack.”

“What then…?” Sam asked, until Evy shot him a meaningful You have to be kidding me look. “Dean left on his own.”

“You didn’t stop him.” Evy  pointed out. “In fact, you told him to go.”

“Evy…” Sam started.

“No, Sammy, please just listen to me, okay?” Sam stopped talking and waited patiently. Evy held his hand and all but pleaded with him. “I meant it when I said I understood. I do get why you would be upset with Dean. But nothing ever gets fixed with us when we’re apart. Nothing. And I have to go back to school in a couple days, so please just promise me you’ll try to work this out.”

Sam sighed. “Alright, kiddo. I’ll try.” Sam had looked away from her as she talked, but Evy squeezed his hand a bit tighter, causing him to look back up at her. He was surprised to find her smiling.

“Don’t tell me you’ll try just to make me feel better. I really want you to try to talk to Dean.” she pressed.

              Sam laughed. She had him pegged one hundred percent. He had only made the promise in the hopes of making her feel somewhat better. But Dean had crossed a line that Sam didn’t know if he could forgive. Still, he resolved, for Evy’s sake, he would try. Eventually.

“I’ll try, Cricket. I promise.”

              Evy, deciding that she believed him, hugged him again. She headed down the hall to her bed. She laid down, her mind and heart focused on her faraway brother. She pulled the blanket over her, then reached to her nightstand for her phone. She quickly typed a message to Dean.

Goodnight, Dean. I love you.

              Not really expecting an answer, Evy turned over and went to sleep. She spent the next couple of days with Sam and Cass before hitting the road back to Princeton. She continued to text Dean along the way, letting him know where she was and how far she was from Princeton. When she pulled into her dorm late at night the day after leaving the bunker, she sat in her car for a long time before exiting. She had her phone in her hand, preparing to tell Sam and Dean that she was back. But she knew that wasn’t’ enough. So she began to text Sam, Dean, and Cass all at the same time.

I made it back. About to go into the dorm now. But I’ve got some things to say to you guys. Dean, I know you think you’re protecting me and Sammy by staying away. You aren’t. Don’t be so stubborn. Talk to us. Sammy, same for you. I know you’re mad, but like I said the other night, nothing ever gets solved when we’re apart. Cass, I can’t be there, so you need to help them. If you guys are still fighting by the time I graduate, then I’m not coming home. I’ll stay here at Princeton and figure out what to do from there. I love you guys, all three of you, more than anything else, but if I can’t have you all together, then I won’t come back. Good night, guys.

              Evy sent the message, then, without waiting for any kind of a reply, turned and went inside her dorm.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty

Fluff Break #6

              Evy laid in bed, her misery threatening to overtake her. Daddy was on a hunt, and Dean had left the house earlier to “get your Christmas present”. Evy hated being alone, especially in a dark house, so Dean had left a nightlight and the radio on. Evy normally loved Christmas music, but not this year. Now that she was alone, the one thing she wanted for Christmas, and couldn’t have, was making her cry all over again. Sammy had been gone now for five months, and Evy missed him more and more every day. She had cried for a solid day after he left, until Daddy had told her to “get over it”, and after that she had cried herself to sleep every night for a week. Dean had tried to fill in the void left by Sam. He read to her every night like Sam had, he hugged and kissed her more than he had before, and he tried as much as he could to soothe her fears. Evy appreciated him trying, but Dean just wasn’t Sammy. Sammy made her feel loved and safe, and no matter how hard Dean tried, he just couldn’t do both at the same time.      

              Thinking about Sammy now, Evy felt tears welling up in her eyes. She wanted him, and she wanted him here badly. She wanted him to wrap his arms around her and hold her tight, tell her everything was going to be okay. She wanted to sit in his lap and lay her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as she fell asleep. She’d never had Christmas without him, and she didn’t know how she’d be able to do it now. Since no one was in the house at the moment, Evy allowed her tears to flow freely. She clutched Squish to her chest, and cried bitterly. She cried for what felt like forever, and eventually she just became too tired to cry.

              She heard the front door open, and heard Dean talking to someone in a very low voice, probably hoping not to wake her up. Not wanting Dean to know she’d been awake crying the entire time he’d been gone, Evy quickly wiped her face and closed her eyes. She heard the door to her bedroom open, and Dean step in, walking to the side of her bed. Dean gently shook her to wake her up, and Evy made a big show of yawning to make him think he’d done just that.

“Hey, wake up, kiddo. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“Dean?” Evy asked. “What’s going on?”

“Come on, kiddo, wake up. I’ve got something for you.”

              Dean reached over and turned on the light on her nightstand. Evy slowly sat up and propped herself against the wall. Dean mistook her red and puffy eyes for sleepy eyes, and Evy was grateful. She waited patiently. As miserable as she felt, Dean’s wide grin made her smile. He had obviously done something big for her, and had tried really hard to make her smile.

“Okay, you awake now?” Dean asked.

Evy nodded eagerly. She was surprised to find that she actually wanted to see what it was that had Dean so excited.

“Okay. Close your eyes.” Dean said. “No peeking.”

Evy glared at him. “Dean, my eyes were closed.”

Dean laughed. “I know, kiddo. Just humor me, please.” Evy smiled and did as Dean said, closing her eyes tightly.

“How many fingers am I holding up?” Dean asked.

Evy giggled. “I don’t know.”

“Alright.” Dean said, satisfied that her eyes were shut.

              Evy heard Dean walk away a few steps. She heard him walk back towards her and put something on her bed. She bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing again, and kept her eyes shut tight.

“Open up, kiddo.” Dean said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

              Evy opened her eyes slowly. She had felt someone sit down on her bed, and assumed it was Dean. But it wasn’t. Evy sat in shock for a few seconds, thinking that she was dreaming. This couldn’t be real; could it?

“Hey, Cricket.”

“Sammy!” Evy shouted, jumping into his arms so quickly that she nearly knocked him backwards.

              Sam laughed as he wrapped Evy in a hug. He had been resistant to this idea from the time Dean presented it to him. But right now, after seeing the way Evy’s face had lit up, Sam was grateful that he’d had sense enough now to listen to him. As he rocked Evy from left to right, he looked over her shoulder and mouthed “thank you” to Dean. Evy pulled away from him slightly, looked at his face, smiled even bigger, and hugged him again.

“Sammy.” Evy breathed into his shoulder.

“I’m here, baby.” Sam said. “I’m here.”

              When Evy had finally calmed down somewhat, she pulled away from him again, but stayed firmly in his lap. Evy had tears streaming down her face again, though this time they were clearly tears of joy rather than misery. Evy finally spoke.

“I thought Daddy said you couldn’t come back for Christmas.” she said.

“He changed his mind, kiddo.” Dean spoke up quickly when Sam hesitated.

              Evy doubted that. Her father was stubborn, and he had been very, very angry when Sam left. He had allowed Evy to continue to talk to Sam, but Evy was a smart kid. She knew Daddy wasn’t doing that out of the goodness of his heart. She knew he only allowed it in order to keep her from crying all the time. But she had chosen not to say that, for fear of her privilege of talking to Sammy being taken away. Evy chose not to say anything to Dean now either, instead choosing to just enjoy the time she had with Sammy.

“When do  you have to go back, Sammy?” she asked.

“I’ll be here until the 27th, Cricket.” Sam answered, brushing her hair away from her face.

              So she had Sammy for two days. That wasn’t very long, but she planned to make the most of it. Evy leaned into him again, wanting to hold him down so that he couldn’t leave again. Sam rubbed small circles into her back, trying to relax her.

“You need to get some sleep, Cricket.” Sam said. “I’ll be here in the morning.”

Evy sat up again. “Sleep in here with me, Sammy. Please.”

              Sam thought about telling her no, that she needed to get some sleep so she’d be well rested before Santa got there, but Evy’s big, pleading eyes tugged at his heartstrings. He had planned on helping Dean set up the meager Christmas that they had worked together to accomplish. But when Sam glanced at Dean, he saw Dean nodding his head, and Sam smiled.

“Alright, Cricket. But you have to go to sleep, okay?”

“Okay, Sammy.” Evy said.

“I’m gonna go get in my pajamas and I’ll be right back.”

              Evy nodded and hugged Sam again before he left. When Sam was gone, Dean came over to kiss her goodnight, and Evy wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for the tightest hug she’d ever given him.

“Thank you, Deanie. You’re the best.” Evy said.

Dean’s heart leapt inside his chest and he squeezed Evy. Anything to make her smile. “You’re welcome, kiddo. I love you.”

“Love you too.” Evy said sincerely.

              Sam was soon back, changed from the jeans, tshirt, and jacket that he’d been in before to a dark blue shirt and black sweatpants. He’d taken a quick shower, and as he climbed into the bed next to Evy, she crawled over and cuddled into his side. She laid her head against his chest so that she could hear the steady thump thump thump of his heart. Sam wrapped his arms around her, kissed the top of her head tenderly, and whispered “Good night, Cricket.” Evy didn’t respond; she was already drifting into a peaceful sleep, safe and secure and loved in the arms of her big brother. Maybe, Evy thought as she drifted off to sleep, just maybe, everything really would be okay.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-One

              Evy turned over in bed, immediately cursing herself for making that mistake. Her stomach swirled, her head throbbed, and she was blazing hot and icy cold at the same time. She had a raging flu, and had been suffering from it for four days. Sam had made her go to the emergency room the second day she’d been sick, and had been very frustrated when the doctor sent her home with nothing more than orders of bedrest and plenty of fluid. Evy had been relieved, as the last thing she wanted was to stay in the hospital when, as she reminded Sam, she was “pretty much indestructible”. She slowly got up and made her way to the bathroom nearest her room. The journey was only a couple hundred feet, but it felt like miles to her. The motion of moving there also caused her stomach to churn more, which meant that by the time she reached the bathroom, she was promptly on the floor, leaning against the toilet, vomiting. The sound of her retching had immediately brought Sam running. He knelt down beside her, kept her hair pulled back for her with one hand, while rubbing her back in small soothing circles with the other. Evy vomited steadily for just under a minute, but it left her feeling weak and disoriented. As she sat on the bathroom floor, breathing heavily, she was only vaguely aware of Sam talking to someone. She leaned against Sam when she felt she wasn’t going to be sick anymore, and felt herself shaking against him. Sam sat down with her, leaning against the bathroom wall as she laid her head down against his side. Suddenly Dean walked in and handed Sam a bottle. Sam put it towards Evy’s lips and gently urged her to drink. Evy gingerly took a few sips, but her throat now burned so badly that even the icy cold Powerade was making it hurt. When she had drunk all that she could stand, Sam handed the bottle back to Dean and turned to Evy.

“You ready to go back to bed?” Sam asked softly, stroking her hair.

She had come into the bathroom to attempt to take a bath, but that plan was quickly abandoned. “No.” she whispered, both hands clutching her forehead tightly. “I wanted to try to eat something.”

“Okay. Come on.” Sam said. “I’ll help you get to the kitchen and make you a little soup. Sound good?”

              Very, very gingerly, Sam helped her up and led her back down the hall towards the kitchen. Dean had placed her Powerade on the kitchen table, along with two of the pills the doctor had given her for her flu. Sam sat her down and moved towards the stove to prepare her soup. Dean sat with her, attempting to comfort her as she waited for Sam to place the bowl in front of her. He helped her eat a couple of saltine crackers and take her pills. Evy noted that, although she was now twenty-five, almost twenty-six, both her brothers were treating her as if she were twenty years younger than that. Both were super gentle with her, and she was thankful for them. After her pills had finally gone down, she laid her head on Dean’s shoulder, waiting patiently for Sam to finish what he was doing. Her head started to ease a little, and by the time Sam set the bowl in front of her, she was feeling slightly better. Cass suddenly appeared behind them.

“Evy?” he asked. “You are still not well?”

“No, Cass.” she answered, barely above a whisper.

              Evy turned her head to look at him a moment, and flashed him a weak smile when he appeared guilt stricken. She knew Cass wanted more than anything to heal her, but he couldn’t. She knew he wanted to help her in some way, and when she suddenly shivered, she got an idea. “Cass? Would you go to my room and bring the blanket off my desk chair for me?” she asked. “The one with the sleeves?”

“Of course.” he answered, walking down the hallway quickly.

Evy smiled and took a cautious bite of the soup bowl in front of her. “I think he’s more overprotective of me than you two combined.”

              Sam and Dean both laughed, but there was very little humor behind it. They were both incredibly worried about her. She couldn’t die from this flu, they knew that, but to see her hurting and feeling so bad made both their hearts ache painfully. Cass came back in with her blue Snuggie, wrapping it around her. Cass sat on her left side, Dean on her right, and Sam across from her. All three of them watched her carefully. Evy finished nearly her whole soup bowl, and was pleased to find that she didn’t feel any more nauseous than she had been before. She felt slightly stronger, and when she gave the bowl back to Sam, she stood up.

“I’m going to get a shower.” she said.

“Okay. Be careful, Cricket.”

              Evy nodded and proceeded to the bathroom slowly. The shower turned out to work miracles on her sore and stiff muscles, which had gotten that way from nearly three days lying in bed. She stayed in a long time, allowing the warm water to completely overtake her, and she found herself smiling. When finally the water started to cool, she stepped out and got dressed slowly. Though she still felt miserable, the shower had helped immensely. Her stomach no longer felt like a roller coaster, her head was now only slightly fuzzy rather than exceedingly painful, and she could walk without her legs feeling like jelly. Sam, unsurprisingly, was waiting in her room when she stepped out.

“Hey.” he said. “You’re looking better.”

“I feel a lot better.” Evy said, as she towel dried her hair some more.

“Good.” Sam said, checking her forehead again. His smile at seeing her doing better turned back into a frown. “Your temperature’s still high though.”

“I’m gonna lay back down.” Evy said. “Maybe watch a movie.”

“You want to go to my room?” she asked.

Evy smiled. “On one condition.” she said.

“What’s that?” Sam asked. Evy walked over to her dresser and pulled her hairbrush from it, then handed it to him. Sam smiled. “Deal.”

              She walked down the hall with him, much easier than she had that morning. When they reached his room, Sam grabbed his remote and handed it to her, then sat down on the bed first. Evy got in next to him, and sat as she picked the movie. Sam groaned when her selection of Finding Dory was started, but said nothing. He brushed her hair a few minutes, and when he was done, Evy laid down so that she was using his legs as a pillow. Sam stroked her hair gently as she continued to watch the movie, and before it was at the halfway point, Evy’s breathing was long and drawn out. Sam confirmed she was sleeping, and gently got up, placing a pillow under her head and pulling the blanket over her. He watched her for a long moment, before leaning over and kissing her forehead gently.

“Sleep tight, Cricket.”

              The rest of the afternoon proceeded uneventfully. Sam and Dean had both agreed not to take any cases until Evy had recovered, so they ended up watching a game on Dean’s laptop. When Cass popped in in the middle of it, neither of them really moved; they were so used to him doing that that it hardly phased them. Cass said nothing to either of them as he moved briskly down the hall. A few seconds later, a frightened shout from Sam’s room brought them both running.

“Sam! Dean! Get in here now!”

              When Sam and Dean reached the door of Sam’s bedroom, both stopped mid-stride. Evy’s skin had turned a bright shade of red, and she was convulsing. Cass had thrown the blanket off of her, and when he touched her arm to try and shake her awake, he drew it back sharply. He showed his hand to Sam and Dean, and both were appalled at the sight. Cass’s hand was blistered, and covered in what looked to Sam to be second degree burns at least. Before Sam could say anything, though, everything stopped. Evy stopped convulsing on the bed and lay still; the clock on Sam’s wall stopped ticking, and it seemed as if the air had stopped.

“Hey, guys.”

              All three men jumped at the unfamiliar voice. Sam and Dean drew their guns, and Cass drew his angel blade. But standing behind where Sam and Dean had been only moments ago was someone none of them thought they’d ever see again.

“Chuck?” Dean asked.

              Chuck looked exactly the same as the last time Dean had seen him. Average height, brown curly hair, green jacket, khaki pants, and sneakers. He was smiling, and after they were over the initial shock, Dean breathed a sigh of cautious relief. Maybe Chuck showing up was a good thing. While Cass may not have been able to heal Evy, Chuck probably could. Both Sam and Dean holstered their weapons. Cass had already done so.

“In the flesh.” Chuck answered.

“Chuck, listen, please, you gotta help Evy….” Sam started.

Chuck held up a hand to stop Sam talking. “That’s what I came to talk to you guys about.” he said. “I can’t heal her.”

Dean’s cautious optimism quickly flipped to anger. “Well then, why did you come?” he asked.

Chuck looked at both of them sadly. “I came to help you say good-bye.”

              Evy felt a chill, and reached down to pull her blanket tighter to her. The only thing she felt, however, was air. Evy opened her eyes slowly, expecting to see the dark red comforter and sheets of Sam’s bed. Instead she found something that made her woke her immediately.

              She was lying on the ground.

              Evy jumped up quickly, her old hunter instincts reactivated immediately. Before she could fully take in her surroundings however, she realized something else. She wasn’t sick. In fact, she felt better than she had in years. Despite the fact that she wasn’t where she was supposed to be, Evy felt a smile beginning at the corners of her mouth. She took a deep breath, relishing in the lack of nausea or headache.

“Hi, Evy.”

              Evy shrieked and turned around. She hadn’t been aware of anyone else there with her. But before her stood a friendly familiar face. Evy breathed a sigh of relief.

“Hi, Chuck.” she said, smiling.

              Evy walked over and hugged him. Though Chuck gladly hugged her back, she could feel that it was tense and awkward; something was going on. Something bad. Evy held Chuck a moment or two longer, then let him go. The look on his face, a mix of hurt, pain, guilt, and regret all rolled into one confirmed Evy’s fear. Evy stepped back from him.

“Chuck, what’s wrong?” she asked.

Chuck sighed. “Come on.” he said. “Let’s take a walk.”

              Back at the bunker, Chuck was still standing with Sam, Dean, and Cass. No one had said anything since he told them the reason for his visit, and Chuck didn’t rush them. He realized that he’d just dropped an anvil on them, and he wanted to give them a minute to process.

“Say goodbye?” Cass was, of course, the one to break the silence. “What do you mean?”

Chuck took a deep breath. “Let’s have a seat, guys.” Sam cast a worried look at Evy, who was sitting completely still on the bed. “She’s still alive, Sam. I’ve stopped time temporarily to give us a chance to talk.”

“Stopped time?” Dean asked.

Chuck simply nodded. “Yep. Cool, huh?” he said, attempting to lighten the mood at least a little.

“What’s going on?” Sam asked, taking a seat on the bed. “What’s wrong with her?”

Chuck sighed again. “Evy is sick, guys. Really sick.” At the exasperated expressions on Dean and Sam’s face, he raised a hand. “Please, just let me finissth. Do you remember what Cass told you when Evy was attacked by Lillith?”

“She’s a Sensitive.” Cass replied.

“That’s right.” Chuck said. “I’m about to tell you guys a secret that only me and Michael ever knew the complete answer to. So it cannot leave this room, okay?”

Dean was fuming, and Sam was worried, but both slowly nodded.

“Sensitives do have a specific purpose. They’re designed to absorb all the excess suffering in the world.” Chuck explained.

“Excuse me?” Dean asked. “They take in all the excess hurt and pain that the world goes through. That’s why they’re so physically strong but emotionally fragile. The emotion that they deal with on a daily basis is too much for normal people to handle.” Chuck said. “Their increased physical strength and will to survive is a way to compensate for the fragility of their soul.”

Sam seemed to be trying to soak in what Chuck was telling them, still sitting quietly on the edge of the bed, but Dean was struggling. “So what? Sensitives are basically like giant emotional Sham-Wows?”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Chuck snickered. “That’s one way to put it, I guess. But understand, Dean. Without Sensitives, as painful as life can be now, everything would be unbearable without them. Getting a papercut would be the equivalent of chopping off an entire hand.”

“What does this have to do with Evy?” Sam asked for the first time. “She’s not emotionally sick right now. She’s literally boiling from the inside out.”

“I know.” Chuck said sadly. “Sensitives are also designed to hold back catastrophic disasters. In Evy’s case, she’s basically an incubator. She’s the only thing keeping a global pandemic from occurring.”

“So take it out of her.” Dean said. “Destroy it.”

“If I do that,” Chuck said, “it won’t stop it. It will only delay the epidemic from happening. And Evy’s already been infected with the disease. Removing the epidemic won’t cure her. There is no cure. There’s only one way to stop it from happening completely.”

“What’s that?” Sam asked.

              Chuck looked at Sam, his heart aching for him. He could tell Sam loved Evy, and he did not want to do this to the man. The Winchester brothers truly had been through enough in their lives. Chuck did not want to make them suffer more. But, then again, he had never pictured getting as close to them as he had. Chuck swallowed hard against the lump forming in his throat.

“Evy has to die.”

              Evy was now sitting on a park bench, Chuck sitting beside her, her brain spinning over what Chuck had just told her. She couldn’t possibly be responsible for this. There was no way. No. No way. This was not happening.

“So…” Evy said slowly, “…if I don’t choose to die, millions of people die instead of me?”

“I’m afraid so.” Chuck said quietly. “Your body is the only thing holding back the dam. But it can’t hold it back forever. Once you get too weak to contain it, the virus escapes, and the epidemic starts.”

“Has this happened before?” Evy asked, not really sure she wanted to know the answer.

“Yes.” he answered simply. “A few times. Most of the time, the Sensitives chose to die rather than risk the rest of the planet dying with. But two times the Sensitives refused to die were in 1300 and 1918.”

Evy’s eyes grew wide. “The Black Death and the Spanish flu?”

Chuck nodded slowly.

“What happens to me if I refuse?” Evy asked, though she knew in her heart that wasn’t going to happen.

“There’s no cure for this.” Chuck explained. “You’ll simply feel sick for the rest of your life, however long that might end up being. You’ll suffer, a lot.”

Evy’s eyes welled with tears. “Why me?”

Chuck smiled. “The eternal question.” he remarked. “But in your case, it’s because I knew you were strong enough for it.”

              Evy felt a deep, painful pit in her stomach. She didn’t want to die. She was finally at peace with her life. She had graduated from college just a few years earlier, and at twenty-five, she was the youngest professor in University of Kansas at Topeka history. She had not completely gotten out of hunting, helping Sam and Dean occasionally while she was on breaks, but she finally felt as if she had a balance to her life. Thinking of Sam and Dean brought another load of tears to Evy’s eyes, and caused the ones she’d been holding back to finally spill out. Hurting them by leaving them was a thought that made her sicker than the flu ever had. She loved them both so much it was painful at times. Especially Sam. Protecting her and comforting her had been Sam’s number one goal in life, and she knew it was going to kill him if she died. Dean would most likely turn bitter and angry to the world, even more so than he tended to be sometimes. That thought hurt Evy’s heart. She finally put both her hands in front of her face, leaned forward, and started to weep. She felt Chuck place a hand on her back and pat it gently. After a moment, though, he was gently trying to pull her up.

“Evy. Look up. There’s someone here to see you.”

              Evy glared at him for a moment, until she realized that there was indeed someone else there with them. She looked from the eyes of Chuck straight into the eyes of Bobby Singer and John Winchester. Her mouth hung open for a moment, until Bobby finally broke the silence.

“Hey, Baitfish.” he said, his mouth breaking into a warm smile as he opened his arms to invite her for a hug.

“Bobby!” she exclaimed, jumping from the seat into Bobby’s arms. “Daddy!”

              Both men kept a tight hold on her. Evy couldn’t bear the thought of letting them go. She had forgotten how much she missed them until just now. Bobby smelled exactly as she’d remembered him. A mix of Old Spice and whiskey. John seemed more gentle than Evy remembered him. For the first time ever, Bobby let her go first, followed by John. John looked at her the longest, running his hand through her long, wavy brown hair.

“You grew up so beautiful.” he said.

“I miss you, Daddy.” Evy said, touching a hand to his face, still unable to believe that he was actually there. “I miss you too, little one.” John said, wrapping her into another hug.

Bobby turned to Chuck. “Can we have a little privacy?”

“Sure.” Chuck said, walking to the other side of the park.

              When Chuck was gone, Evy sat back down on the bench. John sat on one side of her, Bobby on the other. John put an arm around her shoulder, while Bobby held her hand tightly in his.

“I guess you guys know what’s going on?” Evy asked.

John and Bobby both nodded, but didn’t reply.

A brief pause before Evy asked them both, “What should I do?”

“We can’t make that decision for you, Baitfish.” Bobby said. “That’s all up to you.”

“Did it hurt?” she asked them both.

“What?” John asked.

Evy fixed her big brown eyes on him. “Dying.” she whispered.

“Quicker than falling asleep.” Bobby answered, as John shook his head.

“What happens, you know…after?” she asked.

Chuck had appeared before them again. “You’ll come back here.” Chuck said.

“Will I be alone?” she asked.

“No.” John answered. “This is a park I used to take Sam and Dean to when they were little. Our house is a little ways down there.” he said, pointing down the street. “Your mom lives across the street from me and Mary.”

“Mom?” Evy asked. “Can I meet her?”

“Not yet.” John said.

“And I’ll be here too.” Bobby said. “My heaven’s right next to yours. It’s not usually done this way, but you can come through and see me anytime you want.”

Evy looked to Chuck, who was nodding in confirmation. “That’s right.”

              Evy took a shaky breath. She knew what she had to do. She’d never be able to live with herself if millions of people died instead of her. And the thought of suffering like this for the rest of her life, when she could come here and live in peace; the decision was practically already made. But one thing was holding her back.

“Chuck?” Chuck knelt down in front of her, concern showing in his kind face. “Do I have to come right away? Can I say goodbye to Sam and Dean first?”

Chuck thought it over for a moment and answered, “Sure. I can’t cure you, but I can slow the sickness down some. You’ll still feel horrible, but I can give you, say, six hours? How’s that sound?”

“Like not enough time.” Evy answered honestly. “But I’ll take it.”

Chuck nodded. “Okay.” Chuck put an affectionate hand to her cheek. “This is a brave thing you’re doing.”

Bobby and John nodded in agreement.

“Wait.” Evy said as Chuck got up. “If I’ve only got a few hours, I don’t want to waste it telling Sam and Dean about this. Can you talk to them…?”

“I’ve been doing that as we’ve been talking.” Chuck explained simply.

“What? How?” Evy said.

Chuck shrugged and pointed to himself, as if to say Um, hello?.

“Right.” Evy smield. “I guess the whole two places at the same time isn’t really a big deal for you.”

Chuck smiled, and placed a hand on her shoulder, preparing to send her back to the bunker.

“You son of a bitch!” Dean was yelling. “No way. She’s not dying.”

“It’s her choice, Dean.” Chuck explained patiently. “And she’s already made it.”

“What do you mean?” Dean asked.

“I’ve been talking to Evy at the same time I’ve been talking to you.” Chuck said. “She knows everything that’s going on. She’s made her choice.”

“Well, that’s just too damn bad!” Dean declared. “She can’t!”

“She can. And she will, Dean.” Chuck said. “Now, I’ve already told her that I can slow the sickness down and give her six hours with you two. But she doesn’t want to come back unless you both agree not to fight her on her choice.”

“Tell her to come back.” Sam answered. He had been listening from the edge of the bed, keeping an eye on Evy’s still form the entire time. “We won’t fight her.” he said, as a tear slipped down his cheek. “The hell we won’t!” Dean exclaimed angrily. “How can you let her do this?” “The whole world will die if we don’t, Dean.” Sam said quietly.

“I don’t give a damn about the whole world!” Dean shouted.

“Neither do I, Dean!” Sam exclaimed, suddenly jumping up from the bed, fists clenched, standing toe to toe with Dean. “Neither do I. If the whole world had to die to save her, I’d take that in a heartbeat.” “Then why are you agreeing to this?” Dean asked, his emotional temper suddenly tapered a bit by Sam’s sudden outburst.

“Didn’t you hear Chuck?” Sam asked. “If she stays alive, she will suffer, Dean. She will stay this way for the rest of her life, which in her case, could be forever.” Sam’s voice broke as he continued. “We have to...” Sam shut his eyes tightly. When he opened them again, more tears were streaming down. “We have to let her go.” he whispered.

              The tears coming down Sam’s face took any anger and defiance Dean had been feeling and replaced it with despair. Evy would be dead later that day. All the effort he and Sam had spent keeping her safe was for nothing. He didn’t reply, just ran a hand across his face in an effort to keep his own tears at bay, at least for now. He simply nodded, and turned to tell Chuck to let Evy come back. But Chuck was nowhere to be found. He had already left.

“Sammy. Dean.”

              Both boys turned back to Sam’s bed, where Evy was lying there looking at them. Sam flew to her side, checking her temperature. In a cruel twist, her fever was almost gone. She seemed to be nearly back to normal. Sam grabbed her into a crushing hug.

“Sammy.” she said patiently, wrapping an arm around him. “Sammy, I’ve got six hours. Don’t suffocate me first.”

              Despite himself, Sam chuckled and pulled away from her. Evy grabbed his hand and held it to her face for a moment. Her bottom lip trembled, but she held back the tears that threatened to fall. She’d be damned if she was going to spend her last few hours crying. So instead she reached a hand to Sammy’s face and wiped the tears she saw there.

“Don’t cry, Sammy.” she whispered. “Please.”

Sam smiled, though there was no happiness in that smile. “What do you want to do?” he asked.

Evy answered sadly, “Just stay here with me. Don’t leave me, please.”

“Not a chance.” Sam said. “Never.”

              The next four and a half hours went by far too fast for both Sam and Dean. Sam sat on the bed with Evy, just as he’d done right before she’d gone to sleep earlier-him leaning against the headboard, Evy leaning against him. She got weaker and weaker as the time passed, but her fever, headache, and nausea did not return. Sam read to her, held her close, rocked her, did everything he could to try and soothe her fears. But the entire time, Sam’s fear was growing. The lump in his throat was growing increasingly painful, and his heart was threatening to beat out of his chest. Finally, Sam could take no more.

“Hey, baby.” he said. “You awake?”

“Yeah.” Evy said quietly.

“Listen, I’ll be back, okay? I need to step outside for a minute.” he said.

Evy nodded slowly. “Okay, Sammy.”

“Cass? Would you sit with her, please? I’ll be back.” Sam asked.

Cass, who had been sitting in a chair on the other side of the room the entire time, walked over to them. “Of course.” he said gently.

              Sam got up quickly and practically ran out of the room. He ran out to the kitchen, where he stood for a moment, his chest heaving up and down. The pain threatened to crush him, but Sam had to hang on. Evy only had a little while longer. He had to be strong for her. As he fought to regain his composure, the only thought that kept crossing him mind was damn it, it’s not fair. It wasn’t fair that, after everything he and Dean had done for the world, they had to give up Evy. Evy was his baby. Sam’s baby. Ever since the day she was born, it had been him who had taken care of her. He’d soothed her hurts and her fears. He’d held her close and made her feel safe. He’d even raised her when he needed to. Why should he have to give her up?

“Sam?”

Sam turned to the kitchen doorway to see Cass standing there. “Cass, what are you doing….?” he asked angrily.

“Dean’s sitting with Evy.” Cass said. “He asked me to come check on you.” Cass moved in closer to Sam. “Are you all right?”

“No.” Sam said bitterly, turning to lean against the counter. “No, Cass, I’m not.”

Cass frowned, unsure of what to say.

“Why, Cass? Why us? Why….why her?” Sam asked, the tears he’d tried to block starting to come now. “She’s the most innocent of all of us, Cass. Why?”

“I don’t know, Sam.” Cass said. “I wish I could trade myself for her.”

“Yeah.” Sam said. “I wish the same thing.”

“Sam…” Cass started, “I wish I knew what to say to you. What to say to Dean, to Evy. But there’s nothing I can say or do to make this better for you. But I do know this. You’re incredibly blessed to have this time with her to say goodbye.”

“Funny.” Sam said. “This feels like the opposite of blessed.”

“Another thing I’ve learned, Sam, especially working with the three of you, is that death is not always the end.” Cass said.

“Cass…” Sam began, exasperated. He did not want to be comforted at the moment. “Cass, right now I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest and stomped on. So, please, please don’t try to offer me empty comfort right now.”

              Cass started to say something else, but was cut off by the sound of loud coughing and shouting coming from Sam’s room. Sam and Cass rushed back to the bedroom, where Dean was holding and rubbing the back of a clearly distressed Evy. She was coughing violently, and was flushed and sweating. Sam practically dived back to the bed, and after a few more seconds of coughing hard, she groaned in pain.

“Cricket? Honey, talk to me.” Sam said. He checked the clock on the wall. Fifty minutes to go.

“Sammy.” she said, weakly grasping for his hand.

“Talk to me, honey. What do you need?” Sam asked. He was desperate for something, anything he could do, to make it better for her.

She groaned in pain again before answering. Her answer was so weak and pitiful that it caused Sam’s heart to crack and bleed. “Just hold me, Sammy. Don’t go.”

“I won’t.” Sam said, kissing the top of her head again. “I’m sorry, Cricket. I won’t leave you again.”

              Sam positioned himself so that he was sitting directly behind Evy. He wrapped both his arms around her neck and held her as tightly as he could. Dean sat on the other side of the bed, holding her hand, and Cass stood at the foot of the bed. Everyone was mostly silent. The only sound in the room was Sam murmuring to Evy that she’d be okay. Once the clock hit the twenty minute mark, Evy suddenly took all the little bit of strength she had to push herself up.

“Guys, we need to talk.” She said.

“Kiddo, save your strength.” Dean gently admonished.

“No, Dean. It won’t do any good, so we have to do this now.” she said. “Please. All of you, just listen to me.”

“What is it, Cricket?” Sam asked, though he was absolutely certain that he didn’t want to hear this.

Sam was scratching her back, something that had always calmed her, and it helped now. “I need you guys to promise me a couple things.”

“What, kiddo?” Dean asked.

Evy took a shaky breath and squeezed Dean’s hand. “Promise me this won’t split you two up. That you’ll stay together. Keep fighting.”

              Sam and Dean took a long look at each other. This was ripping the heart out of both of them, especially Sam, and they both seemed to have come to the conclusion that Evy’s death would be it for their hunting days. But Evy had only fifteen minutes to live. Neither of them were going to shatter her hopes right then.

“We promise, kiddo. We won’t split up.” Dean said.

“Don’t tell me that just to make me feel better.” she said. “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.”

Sam suppressed a sob, but managed to tell her in a broken voice, “We promise, Cricket.”

Evy nodded, satisfied that they weren’t going to break their promise to her. So she turned to Cass. “Cass, they’re gonna need you now more than ever. Promise me you’ll take care of them.”

Cass nodded. He looked almost as sad as Sam and Dean did. “Of course I will.”

“Thank you.” Evy’s eyes were welling up with tears. She glanced at the clock. Twelve more minutes to go. “Guys, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what, Cricket?” Sam said, genuinely confused. What could she possibly have to be sorry about?

Evy’s lip trembled and her voice broke as she answered. She sounded like a sad, brokenhearted child. “Leaving you. I don’t want to, but…”

“Hey.” Sam said, pulling her back to him in another hug. “You have nothing, nothing, to be sorry for. Do you understand me?”

Evy nodded, but for the first time since waking up, she was sobbing openly. “I love you guys.” she said brokenly.

“We love you too, baby girl.” Dean said. He was holding Evy’s hand tightly, and finally had his own tears streaming down his face.

“Love you, Cricket.” Sam said.

              For the millionth time in her life, he found himself cuddling her close, but this time was different. Sam knew it would be the last time, and that thought made his breath catch in his chest. He couldn’t breathe, and he felt sure that when Evy took her last breath, he would too. The clock continued to tick, and they continued to sit there, Sam holding Evy close to him, Dean holding her hand, and Cass just standing by looking helpless. When the clock hit the two minute mark, Evy spoke again.

“Sammy?” Sam swallowed, his voice barely audible. “Yeah, Cricket?” “Sing to me?”

            Sam nodded, and began the lullaby he’d sung to her as a baby. Tears trickled down all three men’s faces and Evy’s. Evy closed her eyes slowly, her ear leaning on Sam’s chest, the sound of his voice and the steady thump of his heartbeat putting her to sleep. Ninety seconds later, as Sam continued to sing and hold her, Evelyn Abigail Winchester took her last breath of life.

Chapter Text

 

              It had been two full weeks since Evy’s death, and the pain in Sam’s heart was still threatening to crush him. Evy’s funeral had been the single hardest thing he’d ever done in his life. Right after Evy had died, Sam had refused to let her go. He’d held onto her and sobbed bitterly. Dean had stayed there with them, remaining frustratingly stoic about the whole thing. Sam had cried himself to sleep holding on to Evy, and woken up to find that she’d been moved to her own room by Cass and Dean. The next few days had gone by in a haze. They’d held Evy’s funeral in the woods behind the bunker. No one had said a word as her body burned. There was nothing to say. Nothing seemed good enough. Evy had been the world to Sam and Dean. Cass had loved her almost as much as they had. She deserved the best, and none of them had been able to give her that.

              Now, Sam stood outside the door of his room. He hadn’t slept in his own bed in two weeks. He hadn’t been able to face the place where Evy had taken her last breath. He missed her so much that it felt like a hole had been punched in his chest. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to move, it hurt to think. He thought about something Evy had told him once, years earlier. When he’d been in Hell. She had tried to call him one night and the phone had rung, over and over, before she’d realized that he wasn’t going to answer. He understood what she meant now. It seemed so unnatural, so wrong, to think that she wasn’t there, that Sam wasn’t able to wrap his mind around it fully. Taking a deep breath, Sam turned the knob on the door of his room and walked in.

              It looked exactly like he’d remembered it. The sheets were still pulled back, as if someone had been sleeping in the bed and not made it when they’d gotten up. Sam sat on the bed and grabbed the photo he kept on his nightstand. It was one of Evy that had been taken the year she’d moved with him to Stanford. Jess had taken it. It was Evy’s tenth birthday party, and she had her arms around his neck. Sam remembered the day well. Evy had spent most of it crying because she hadn’t heard from John. Sam had planned a small party that night for the three of them, but when Jess had seen how upset she was, she had single-handedly gone out and gotten balloons, decorations, games, a cake, and ice cream. As Sam took Evy to lunch that afternoon, Jess had stayed behind and decorated the entire apartment. They’d spent the entire day focused on her, and Sam hadn’t seen the tears from being ignored by John come back. Sam smiled at the memory, but longed for the day when he could think of Evy without it hurting so much.

              Something in the corner of his room caught his eye. It was sitting propped up against a wall. Sam put the photo down on his bed, carefully approaching the corner. He cautiously picked up the small case. It was a DVD, marked Sam and Dean. There was a small note inside, which Sam opened.

Sammy, watch this. Love, Cricket

              Sam gasped. It couldn’t be. Could it? He quickly walked down the hall to Dean’s room, who was packing to leave for a hunt. Sam showed him the DVD, and they walked back into the main room to watch it. Sam’s heart was thumping hard in his chest as he watched Dean put the disc into his laptop. They watched as it started up, and both of them stopped breathing for a split second when Evy’s face filled the screen. She adjusted the camera a little before beginning to speak. She looked about three years younger, and Sam recognized the room as her dorm room at Princeton. Evy smiled before starting to talk.

“Hey, guys.” she said. She sighed and looked down before continuing to speak. “So, this sounds pretty cliché, but if you’re, um, watching this, then it means…” She looked to the floor and then back up sadly. “It means I’m dead.”               Sam felt his heart twist painfully at hearing that. It had been hard enough to admit to himself that Evy was gone, but to hear her say it too…it was all just too much. Sam wanted to run and scream, but felt himself compelled to hear more. So he stayed seated where he was and listened to her.

“So, in case you’re wondering when I did this, it’s about…” Evy checked something on the wall behind her, “…one in the morning the night I came back to Princeton after we had that big argument on the bridge. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to make this video.” Evy paused again before speaking. She seemed to be collecting her thoughts. “I want you guys to know something. There’s another video at the end of this one that I want you guys to see. I made it a few weeks ago, when I thought Jack was going to propose. It was meant to be shown at my wedding, but I guess that’s not going to happen now. But before I show you that, I have some things to say to you. And I need you to listen to me.”

              Sam and Dean looked at each other thoughtfully. Had she known what was going to happen? How had they gotten the video? Had she had it the whole time? All of these were really good questions, but right now Sam and Dean cared nothing about answering them. Both looked back towards the screen to hear what she had to say.

“I’m gonna start with you, Dean. I know you. Whatever happened to me, you somehow blame yourself for it. Don’t. I know you did whatever you could to save me. You’ve always done that, Dean-protected me and Sammy as much as you could. You’ve always made us feel safe. I love you, Deanie. Always.”

Dean was wiping tears away from his face, a sight that had become all too common in the bunker over the last two weeks.

“And now you, Sammy. Same goes for you. I know you tried. Whatever happened, I know you did the best you could to save me. And that you’re feeling guilty. Don’t. It wasn’t your fault, Sammy. But you need to know. Even when we weren’t talking to Daddy and Dean, I never felt alone. You’ve never made me doubt that I was loved and cared for. I always knew you loved me. And I want you to know, Sammy, I love you too. More than anything. I always have. I always will. No matter where I am, Sammy, whether I’m with you in person or not, I’m always right here.” Evy pointed to her heart.

              Sam was crying hard now. Dean grabbed his arm to try and calm him a little, but Sam pulled away and cried for a minute into his hands. He missed Evy so badly. Hearing her voice, seeing her face, telling her he loved her. A few seconds later, she continued speaking.

“All right guys, enough chick flick moments.” Evy said, laughing gently. “I’m gonna go now. Watch this for me, guys. Dean, no complaining about the music. Good night, guys. Love you.”

For all those times you stood by me

              It was a music video. The first photo was of Sam and Evy on her first day of school. Sam held her hand as Evy grinned. Two of her teeth were missing. She had lost them a week earlier when she’d fallen down the steps. Sam smiled at the memory. He had heard her fall down and run to her, expecting her to burst out in tears. Instead, he’d found her giggling, holding her teeth in her hand. He could hear her now.

“Look, Sammy! I lost my first teef!”

For all the truth you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

              The next photo was of Dean and Evy, taken a couple of weeks after Sam had left for Stanford. Dean held her in his lap, tickling her as hard as he could.

For all the wrong that you made right

For every dream you made come true

For all the love I found in you

              Christmas Eve when Evy was eight years old. Sam had just gotten back to the house they lived in at the time. They were sitting on Evy’s bed, Evy buried in Sam’s arms.                      

I’ll be forever thankful baby

You’re the one who held me up

              Standing outside the hospital right after Evy had been released when she’d been attacked by the Shtriga. Evy sat on the hood of the Impala. Dean was on her left side, Sam on her right. Sam had an arm around her shoulder, and Dean was holding her hand.

Never let me fall

              Sam was teaching a six year old Evy how to ride a bike. He had one hand on the seat, and Evy was waving it away. She wanted to do it herself.

You’re the one who saw me through, through it all

              Bobby was holding a baby Evy. She was six months old, and her face was contorting in an open wail. Bobby looked confused, and held Evy a few feet in front of him as if she was a bomb.

You were my strength when I was weak

              Evy in the hospital at age six after having her appendix removed. She was lying on a hospital bed, Sam, Dean, John, and Bobby standing all above her.

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

              Sam, Jess, and Evy the night she’d come to Stanford to live with them.

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

              Evy’s first day of high school. She was ten, and Sam was leading her up to the door. That one took Sam by surprise; he’d never known Jess had taken it.

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘cause you believed

              Evy sat in Sam’s lap, age two, watching intently as he read to her.

I’m everything I am because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly

You touched my hand I could touch the sky

              Sam was throwing a baby Evy gently up into the air. She was mid-air, and had a grin on her face, as Sam waited right below her to catch her.

I lost my faith, you gave it back to me

              Bobby hugging Evy as she left to hit the road with Sam and Dean for the first time after Lillith had attacked her.

You said no star was out of reach

              The three of them sat on the back of the Impala, looking up at the stars.

You stood by me and I stood tall

              Evy riding piggyback on Sam’s shoulders, age three, as they watched a fireworks show.

I had your love I had it all

              Dean holding a crying Evy at the same fireworks show, after she’d fallen off Sam’s shoulder and hit the ground.

I’m grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don’t know that much

But I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you

              Two year old Evy sitting between Sam and Dean on the couch at Bobby’s house. Sam sat on her left, tickling her, while Dean sat on her right, doing the same.

You were my strength when I was weak

              Sam hugging Evy, who sat on Bobby’s couch a couple days after she’d started to recover from Lillith’s attack. She had a sling on her arm and a cast on her leg, but it was the first time Sam had seen her smile all week.

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

 You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

              Dean holding a baby Evy, bouncing her on his hip as he pointed out something to her above them in the sky.

You gave me faith ‘cause you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me

              Sam holding Evy’s hand as they walked down the street. He didn’t remember how old she was, but she looked to be about five or six.

You were always there for me

              Evy taking her first steps, towards Sam, with Dean standing right behind him.

The tender wind that carried me

              Sam putting a sleeping Evy down for sleep.

A light in the dark shining your love into my life

You’ve been my inspiration

              Evy’s graduation photo from Princeton. Sam on her left, Dean on her right. This was the most recent one of the bunch, taken only a couple years before.

Through the lies you were the truth

              Sam holding a distraught Evy on the couch of their small house, the night that John had told her the truth about the supernatural. Evy was clinging to him, and Sam was wiping tears from her face with a Kleenex. This was another photo that Sam didn’t remember having been taken. Dean must have done it without Sam knowing.

My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak

              Jim Reddicker, who Sam hadn’t thought about in years, taking Evy’s cast off after Lillith’s attack. Sam and Dean hadn’t been there, but Bobby had taken the photo and given it to them when they’d gotten back.

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

              Another of Evy on her first day of school. This time she was running towards Dean as he picked her up.

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

              Sam lifting Evy up to throw a basketball into a hoop, while Dean stood behind them pretending to block her and take it away from her.

You gave me faith ‘cause you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me

I’m everything I am because you loved me

              The photos blended into a video clip. Evy was a couple years older, but the same thing was happening. Sam was holding her up, and when she made the shot into the net, she held her arms up in a cheer. Sam laughed and turned her around. He kissed her cheek. Dean, who had been behind the camera, could be seen in the form of hand at the corner of the screen. Evy giggled, kissed both her hands, and blew him an air kiss. The video slowed a bit, and when the music stopped, she faded slowly to black.

              Sam and Dean sat in stunned silence for a moment. They had both stopped crying, but were numb with shock. When the video completely ended and closed on Dean’s laptop, Dean took it and walked into the kitchen, leaving Sam sitting and staring at the floor. Dean came back in a few minutes later and found Sam sitting in the same spot. He took a seat in front of Sam.

“Sam.” he said. “Listen. I’ve got a hunt in Tacoma. Nest of vampires. I need your help.”

“No.” Sam said simply.

“Yes.” Dean replied. “Sam, listen to me. She’s gone. I know she’s gone, and I know it hurts. Like you said to me when Dad dies, it hurts so bad you can’t stand it. But you cannot sit here for the rest of your life. She wouldn’t want that.” Sam swallowed hard. “I just can’t….”

“You can.” Dean said. “Come on. You can. I’ll be here with you. You’ve got me, you got Cass. And like she said, she’s right here.” Dean pointed towards Sam’s chest the same way Evy had done. Sam sat in silence for a minute, before Dean spoke again. “Come on. What do you say?”

              Sam took a ragged breath. Though it hurt, and probably would forever, he knew Dean was right. Sitting in the bunker letting himself wallow in pity would have hurt Evy more than the illness that had killed her did. He took a couple more deep breaths before answering him.

“Let’s go.” Sam nodded. “Come on. Let’s go.”