Actions

Work Header

Another Mistake

Chapter Text

Suffice to say, I did not expect my day to go this way.

When the lady at the convention said she'd grant me a wish, I thought like a normal, balanced human being.

I just thought it was bullshit.

"Take me to my heroes then," my stupid mouth said, "Dean and Sam Winchester."

"Wish granted," she said. I rolled my eyes at her. I ignored the weird prickling I got under my skin, like bugs crawling all over. I shrugged it off, because that's what you do at things like this. You don't take it seriously.

Should've known that if something weird was ever gonna happen to me, it'd be at a Supernatural convention.

I went off to sleep that night, in the comfort of my bed, looking up to my bright splashed multicoloured ceiling, as usual. Dreamed of a '67 Impala, vampires and machetes. A normal night.

Except for the part when I woke up to find all of that gone.

Instead, looking down at me, were the bluest pair of eyes I'd ever seen, blue eyes that I recognized from the day before, when they had looked at me for a fraction of a second before moving on to the next fan in a sea of people.

And that voice. Impossible to forget when I had heard it say the funniest things not 12 hours before.

"Balthazar, what did you do?" Misha Collins said. Only, I'd learn later, it wasn't Misha after all.

Just someone who really really looked like him.

Chapter Text

Veronica remembered the first time her eyes had been witnesses to Misha Collins.

It had been all the way back in the Kripke years, when he was first introduced to the show. Up until that moment, her heart was divided strictly into three parts. The first part belonged solely to Dean Winchester. The second, completely identical to the first in size, belonged to dear Sammy. The third was mostly Bobby, but also included some minor characters from early seasons. But all of that changed the first episode of season 4, when, with little warning, Castiel was introduced, and the sparks blew what was left of Veronica's functional mind. With just a few keywords, whatever was left of Veronica's normal life, had been destroyed.

I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.

She had known new characters would be introduced, after all, it was a new season. But she had never fallen so hard, so quickly, for a new character. With the exception, perhaps, of the Winchester boys themselves. So when the screen cut to black and the credits rolled, she ran to the computer in her family's living room so fast, she had accidentally knocked off a lamp. But not even the sound of the shattering lightbulb could slow her pace. She turned it on, clicked on the google bar, and typed as quickly as she could those two words for the first time, completely oblivious how many times she would type those same words again over the next ten years of her life.

Misha Collins.

Her heart, instead of cutting up space from the already existing pieces, decided to grow. I have a feeling, Veronica thought, this one is a forever kind of deal. And so it was. Over the next few years, her heart proved to become more and more flexible with how it handled things. As she grew attached to the characters, she also grew attached to the actors. Jensen Ackles had joined Dean in the first piece of her heart. Jared Padalecki had joined Sam in the second one. Misha and Cas had always seemed to share the third piece, but this one also grew to love the other versions of Cas (God Cas, Leviathan Cas, Crazy Cas, Lucifer Cas, and so on). The final piece also grew violently, as other new characters were introduced. 

Veronica loved all of them as they came. Pamela, Jody, Gabriel, Charlie, Rowena, Crowley, Balthazar. As her love grew, so did the show, and inevitably, so did she. Her sister outgrew the show. So did most of her friends. But for some reason, no one, not her parents, not her siblings, not any of her friends or boyfriends or girlfriends, had been able to understand why Veronica could never stop. Veronica herself couldn't quite understand it. Regardless of rational thinking, Supernatural became her life. She never worked a shift during the hour the show aired, she had her Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter accounts all solely Supernatural focused.  She thought about Supernatural from the moment she woke up to the moment she fell asleep, and more often than not, Supernatural followed her to her dreams too. 

Supernatural was more than just a show to Veronica, it was everything

And yet, when she had announced her family and friends she had finally managed to save up enough money for a full weekend at the closest Supernatural convention, they were surprised. 

"Are you sure you want to spend that kind of money, Ronnie?" her older brother, Jeremy, had asked that day. He was the oldest of the family, and Veronica had gotten used to looking to him for advice over the years. However, Jer had never quite understood Veronica's addiction to the show. "Going to the city for a full weekend, it's a lot," he said.

Veronica did her best to think angry without reacting with anger. She understood what he meant. They weren't a family used to the big city. They lived in a nowhere town in a relatively unimportant state. The closest city was almost four hours away, and they had only visited once every few summers for a day or two. 

Still, why were they surprised? What exactly were they expecting her to do with the money she had been so obviously saving up in that piggy of hers? She had a full ride to college, her academic excellence and proficiency in sports had gotten her offers from more than one place nearby. She didn't need to save up money. Yet she did because she knew they were coming, and she was not going to pass up the chance to meet the men and women who had become her own religion. 

Besides, she wasn't like the rest of her family. She never wanted the stability their town provided. She wanted adventure, new places, and an open road. This was her chance. Her only chance, before reality caught up to her, as she knew it would eventually. 

So despite any protests by her family, that were very clearly expressed in the months between her buying her ticket and the weekend of the convention, when the time came, she packed up her bags and left. 

And she didn't regret it for a second. 

When Sunday rolled around, Veronica had so much merchandise coming back with her, so many memories, that she smiled the whole way back home. Before leaving, she had even gotten one of those weird readings from a woman who claimed to be magical at the convention. She was surprised to see her there, as she hadn't been there the first two days, and it didn't really seem like a popular destination. Especially when the main attraction on Sunday was the full panel, Jensen, Jared and Misha. She had been in such a good mood, however, that she figured she might as well get the whole convention experience. God only knew how long it would be before she could do something like that again, if she ever could. 

So she went with the woman, got a vague not really impressive reading on her future, and almost left the booth. Almost

It was the sign, a small one in comparison with the rest of the booth, all full of dark purple drapes, and dream catchers, and crystals. The booth was very flashy, and yet this one particular sign was nothing more than a small piece of cardboard shoved to the side that read 'Make a wish'. Veronica stared at it for a minute before deciding to ask about it. 

"How much to make a wish?" she asked, curiously. She had saved up a lot during the last few months, preparing for her reckless expending at the convention. Still, unreasonable prices existed. The woman looked at her, a strange look went through her face before clearing up with a smile, her eyes shining with excitement. 

"For you, my darling, free of charge," she answered. Veronica raised an eyebrow in her direction, questioning the woman's intentions. She might be a small town girl but she was still very intelligent. The woman, understanding her reaction, just shrugged and said, "I'm wrapping up after you leave so I don't mind."

"How does it work?" Veronica asked. The woman smiled and explained as Veronica walked closer to her. 

"You tell me your greatest wish," she said, "and I grant it." Veronica hesitated. It couldn't be that easy. Sensing her doubt, the woman spoke again. "What do you have to lose if it doesn't work? It's not like you're paying."

Veronica thought it over. The woman was right. She wouldn't exactly lose anything, and the whole thing was probably bullshit regardless. She thought of a wish, something ridiculous that was impossible to not notice if it did work out. She smiled as the idea formed. 

"Anything?" she asked, just to confirm. When the woman nodded, she smirked and said "Take me to my heroes then," at the woman's confusion, she went ahead and clarified, "Dean and Sam Winchester."

Recognition showed in her face. She smiled, her eyes lighting up at the challenge, before saying "Wish granted," and disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Veronica coughed a little, startled and accidentally swallowing up some of the smoke. She rolled her eyes once she noticed the woman was gone. Ridiculous, she thought to herself.  She turned around to leave the booth when a wind current caused her chills. She shrugged it off and started walking away. With every step away from the booth, she felt more and more conscious of a weird feeling of something new under her skin. It was if something previously dormant had been awoken and now was crawling all over her insides. However, after a few minutes, it faded, and the encounter was forgotten in the excitement of the rest of the day. 

As she went home, she had a fleeting thought about the woman, but it dissipated just as quickly as it had appeared, and Veronica's focus went back to replaying the video of the panel she had watched just a few hours ago. 

She got home okay, her mom and dad awake waiting for her, her siblings asleep or at their own houses. Once they realized she was fine, her parents went to sleep, and after bringing all her bags into her room, so did Veronica. She took those headphones she had gotten so used to over the years, turned up the music, and stared at the ceiling. She thought about the multiple splashes of paint in front of her, and she started to feel the adrenaline from the weekend slowly fade away, allowing for exhaustion to settle in. 

She drifted into a dreamland of adventures, hunting vampires in a Chevy Impala, chopping up heads, and most importantly, an open road. 

Safe to say, her life wasn't the same when she woke up. 

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester had enough surprises to last more than one lifetime. He didn't need another one. 

But when has he ever gotten what he wanted?

It all seemed well for a few days. Cas was back, his brother Sammy was fine, there were no immediate threats, the world wasn't ending, the King of Hell was too busy reorganizing hell for the thousandth time to plan anything. For almost a week, the worst of Dean's problems had been the looks his brother started giving him whenever Castiel walked in the room. Even Balthazar, who had always managed to annoy Dean with his presence, was behaving, wandering around the globe quietly. 

It was perfectly quiet. 

Due to his past experience with quiet, Dean wasn't exactly comfortable with all of it. Quiet, he had learned, was never good. Quiet, he knew, was usually followed by an apocalyptic storm. Quiet, he told Sam that day, was way too loud. 

"Everything is good, Dean," Sam had answered, "For once, the evil guys have better things to do than mess with us."

That was exactly what had Dean worried. "Yes, but what are these better things? When have the vampires and the ghosts and the shapeshifters ever had anything better to do than mess with us?" He asked frustrated that no one else seemed worried about this. "They're not the type to be quiet, Sammy, that's why we hunt them."

Sam had actually sighed as if Dean was a kid who couldn't quite understand. "The world just went through a shock, Dean," he said, "Humans are still trying to catch up. I imagine the monsters are shaken up too."

That was the last time Dean had even tried with his brother.  He didn't let his guard down, though. He kept watch for anything out of the ordinary. He would've talked to Cas about all of it, but lately, Castiel had been too busy teaching Jack the ropes of the human world. Sam and Dean helped, but angel types were better trying to get new people to understand things that for humans, they just were and therefore needed no explanation. 

And so Dean was left alone to worry. 

Sam didn't mean to dismiss his brother's worries, but he had his own things to worry about.

For instance, Dean's apparent need to find anything, no matter how ridiculous, to distract himself from confronting his feelings about his angel best friend.  Sam had seen it develop through the years. The profound bond Dean and Cas shared, it was fairly obvious why it was. For anyone and everyone, but Dean and Castiel. Sadly, it seemed Cas had been picking this habit too, with the slight difference that he actually had a new Nephilim to worry about. 

Too quiet, thought Sam, What's it gonna be next, Dean?  Too much sun?

Sam understood, of course, that in the last few years it would've been hard for them to work it out. They had gone from one apocalypse to another to another, and more often than not, one of them was dead or kidnapped or turned evil. Sam understood that in those conditions, talking wasn't a priority. 

But the world was fine, and they were all alive at the end of it, for once. If there was ever a time for the two of them to talk, it was now. And yet, they were both still too stubborn to sit down and work it out.

My brother, ladies and gentlemen, Sam said to himself, the most emotionally repressed human being in history.

Sam didn't get why they couldn't just talk. It wasn't that hard. When it had been him...

No, he stopped himself, Not going there again.

Sam sighed, and continued to watch his brother, hoping he would eventually realize the stupidity of his actions. 

Castiel had absolutely nothing to worry about. 

Jack was doing great. He was picking up things quickly, quicker than Castiel when he had first been introduced to humanity. Castiel had made an effort to teach Jack the basics of what his own father had taught him. 

"Don't step on that fish, Jack," Cas had told him one afternoon, "Big plans for that fish." Jack had nodded, and instead of moving on, the way someone else would've, he kneeled and submerged one of his hands on the water, almost but not quite touching the fish. 

Jack clearly took after his mother and not his father. The kindness in him, it was unlike anything Castiel had seen in humanity. And he couldn't help but feel a little proud of Jack, who had turned out to be the best adopted son Cas could've asked for. 

So what had once been his biggest worry, turned out to be nothing to worry about. And that wasn't the only thing going well in Castiel's life at the moment.

Heaven was organized, a clear hierarchy of power in place that was, for once, functional. Those who weren't in heaven, like Castiel and Balthazar, were free to live their lives, as long as no one was getting hurt. Crowley had the demons under control, Rowena had stopped killing, and Sam and Dean were alive and not evil. While the weird looks he got from Sam sometimes confused him, he wasn't worried.

All was well with the world. 

That was until one afternoon, Balthazar called. 

Everything was great that day, just like it had been for the past week. That morning, Sam and Castiel had been teaching Jack the basics of World War II, and that had lead to explaining the importance of weapons to human beings, which led to that afternoon, with Dean teaching Jack how to use a gun. Cas had been overseeing everything from afar, smiling as Jack took the gun and aimed at the bottle a few meters away. He was so focused on the two of them, he hadn't noticed his phone was ringing until Sam pointed it out. 

"Balthazar," he said, "How's France?" 

"Make it Germany," he answered, "French people have not gotten better over the years."

"Germany then," Sam raised his eyebrows and Castiel just shrugged. Balthazar had never been like other angels. 

"That's why I'm calling," Balthazar said. His voice changed to a more serious tone, "Something is happening Castiel."

Castiel smiled immediately disappeared. "What's wrong?" he asked. Sam got closer to Castiel when he saw the change in his voice. Castiel instinctively put the phone in speaker. 

"There's something weird happening a few miles from where I'm staying," he said, "Two days ago, a few teenagers went into this warehouse and disappeared. I went to see what had happened, but when I got there, the place was heavily warded."

"Demons?" asked Sam.

"Crowley is still too busy with hell to start on big plans, Sammy," Castiel hadn't noticed when Dean had approached but he was there now. Dean continued, "He's still calling every few days to complain about us killing one of his best organizers."

"It doesn't feel like demons," Balthazar confirmed, "There's lighting storms but no cattle mutilations, no sulfur around the place either." 

"Witches?" Castiel asked. There were not many things who knew enough to ward against angels, or powerful enough to bring lighting storms.

"I'll give Rowena a call," Sam said, "See if she's heard anything." 

Dean sighed, "I told you, Sam! I told you it was too quiet!" 

"It might be nothing, Dean," he answered, "Balthazar might just be exaggerating."

"I don't exaggerate, Sasquatch," Balthazar snapped through the phone, "I'm calling in a favor here to help me deal with the warding. I'll check it out tonight and get back to you."

"Be careful," spoke Jack for the first time. Balthazar's voice softened. Castiel had found Jack was everyone's soft spot.

"I will be, Nephil," he said, "Don't worry about me."

"Check in with us before going in there," Dean said, "We'll let you know what we can find."

"Give me a bell, mate," he said, before hanging up. Castiel saw Dean roll his eyes. 

"'Give me a bell' He couldn't just say we'll talk later?" he asked in annoyance.

"He's always liked the British better," Cas shrugged and turned to Sam, "Are you going to call Rowena?"

"Yeah, why don't you and Dean hit the books?" Sam suggested, "See if you can find anything on what this might mean."

Cas nodded. "Whatever this is," Dean spoke, "I don't like it."

Yes, Cas didn't like it either. Turns out, he had a reason. Later, after the warding was down, Balthazar called.

"This place is not exactly my cup of tea," Balthazar said, "I'm going to look around, but I don't like it." 

"Sam said Rowena hasn't heard anything," Cas told him, "Take care of yourself and call us afterward."

"I'll ring you," he said before hanging up. 

Balthazar didn't worry easy, and so Castiel, who didn't have anything to worry about, was now definitely worried. 

Balthazar was more than worried. Once he entered the warehouse, Balthazar was afraid. 

There was a force, something he had never felt before, in that warehouse. A presence he couldn't recognize. It was old, powerful, and Balthazar had no idea what he was getting into. But Castiel was a friend, and over the last few years, Balthazar had gotten close to the monkeys he had long ignored. He would never admit it out loud, but Sam and Dean had impressed him more than once in the time he knew them. 

Whatever this presence was, it was threatening the world he had started to like. It couldn't just be ignored. 

As it turns out, Balthazar would never get a chance to figure out what was that presence. Not long after he entered the warehouse, the temperature around him went from cold to warm to hot to tropical in less than a minute. Balthazar backed away, approaching the door he had used to come in, but it was closed. Every second, the temperature seemed to rise, to the point he was sweating, and he didn't know he was capable of that.

Bloody Hell, he thought. He turned away from the door, and looked at the center of the room. A light started growing, expanding more and more to the size of the warehouse. The brightness blinded him, the strength of the hot wind around him deafening. 

Suddenly there was quiet. Instinctively, Balthazar closed his eyes. 

Then everything exploded. 

When he opened his eyes again, the warehouse was gone, not a shred of evidence that it was ever there. In the center, where the light was, laid a girl sleeping. She seemed perfectly normal, nothing Supernatural about her. Except for the part where she destroyed a warehouse. 

Balthazar, not exactly clear on what to do, took a step back, and pulled his phone out. 

"Castiel," said Balthazar without waiting for the other side to start talking, "I have an unconscious, possibly powerful girl. What do I do?"

"Ehhhh," answered Jack, "Is she hurt?"

"Jack," Balthazar took a deep breath, "Where's Castiel?"

"He said something about meeting Metatron," he said, "I think he was trying to figure out what was it that you were investigating."

"Can you hand the phone to one of the Winchesters, please," Balthazar tried.

"Sam is with Charlie and Dean went out a few minutes ago to get pie," Jack said. 

"Well, what am I supposed to do with this girl then?" Balthazar complained to the skies. Jack listened, and couldn't help but answer.

"Why don't you bring her here?" he wondered, "If she's hurt, we can help. That's what Cas always says we should do." 

The kid had a point, but Balthazar had no idea whether that would be safe. He had no idea who this girl was or what she could do. What if something went wrong?

What would those monkeys do?, he asked himself. Leaving her there was a bad idea, and he couldn't try and kill her if it turned out she wasn't evil. 

Balthazar sighed and did exactly what Jack said. "Get ready, kid," Balthazar said through the phone, "I'm coming and I'm bearing gifts." Very slowly, Balthazar approached the girl. As carefully as he could, he picked the girl up and got ready to fly. This better work, he thought before disappearing in a flutter of wings. 

Jack hung up the phone and got up from the couch. They'd need a place to put the girl down once Balthazar arrived. As he moved a cushion to the corner, Dean came through the door of the bunker, followed closely by Cas. 

"Hey kid," said Dean.

"Hello," Jack answered before turning to Castiel, "Balthazar called. He's bringing gifts."

Dean and Castiel looked at each other. "Did he say what kind of gifts?" Castiel asked very slowly. 

"A girl," Jack said smiling. Just then, Balthazar appeared next to him. "Here," Jack said, "I tried to get the couch comfortable." 

"Wow, Balthazar," Dean said setting the pie down in a nearby table, "What the hell?"

Castiel slowly approached the girl. Jack, imitating Cas, approached the girl too. Castiel held a hand up, signaling Jack to not move any closer. He knelt down and examined the girl's face closely. As if aware of Castiel's closeness, the girl's eyes suddenly opened, and Jack held back a gasp. 

He had never seen silver irises before. Judging by their reactions, neither had the others. 

The girl blinked a couple of times before the color faded, leaving a pair of seemingly normal grey eyes. Something similar to recognition crossed the girl's face. 

Cas spoke slowly, and quietly. "Balthazar," he said, "What did you do?"

Chapter Text

Veronica's dreams had always been very vivid.

For as long as she could remember, Veronica dreamed. They used to be simpler. Flying like a bird, or running as a wolf. Over the years, her dreams changed. They were more elaborate, storylines rather than just actions. Not long after she started watching Supernatural, her dreams started to be hunts. She didn't mind. New hunts could always be made up. They were colourful, and bright, and felt real. Most of all, they all shared one thing. Freedom. Freedom to fly, to run, to hunt, to drive, to just be.

That's how Veronica realized this wasn't a dream. 

There was no feeling of freedom. It was the contrary, actually. She felt trapped like she couldn't breathe properly. She opened her eyes and what she saw only confirmed it. Not even she could imagine something so weird. Misha Collins was in front of her. He said something, but her brain didn't quite register it. He was very, very close and if she moved too much, their foreheads would bump. 

The idea caused her to blink a couple of times, choosing then to move very slowly. She could already feel the beginning of a headache forming from lack of proper sleep, and she did not need to make it worse by bumping her head with Misha's. Little by little, Misha started to move his head back. Once a path was clear, Veronica tried quickly getting up. Instead, a wave of dizziness caused her to fall right back into the couch, this time in a sitting position. She felt as if all her breath had been knocked off her at once. 

"I found her at the warehouse," a voice explained. Veronica took in her surroundings. The place looked like the Men of Letters bunker, and around her were the familiar faces of Misha, Jensen, Sebastian Roche, and the newest member of the show, Alex Calvert. "The place blew up, and she was right there at the center," Sebastian said. Veronica connected the dots, now knowing it was Sebastian who had spoken earlier. Still, his voice was weird. It didn't sound so much like Sebastian. It was more like his character in the show, Balthazar. 

"Warehouse?" Veronica asked, "How did I end up on a Warehouse?" 

"I care more about how did she end up here?" Jensen asked, looking at Sebastian. Veronica tilted her head, slightly confused. The situation was confusing, yes, but even weirder, why was Jensen talking and acting so much like, well, Dean?

"He called," Alex said, his voice different. "He didn't know what to do with her so I told him to bring her here," he said. 

"Listen, not that I don't want to hang out with you guys," Veronica said, "But why am I in the set of the Men of Letters bunker, of all places?" 

They all turned to look at her. "How do you know about the bunker?" Jensen asked harshly, "It's supposed to be secret."

Veronica raised an eyebrow before speaking. "Yes," she said, "It's supposed to be secret, in the show," she clarified, "I'm a fan. Of course I know about the bunker."

Before anyone could say anything, the door to the bunker opened, and Jared walked in. He turned, the door closing behind him, and he looked at the gathering. 

"What is going on?" he asked, "Who is she?"

There was only silence. No one talked, no one moved. Finally, silence being one of the things Veronica was never good at, she spoke. "Veronica," she said. All the eyes turned to her. "The name is Veronica," she finished. 

"She was at the warehouse," Sebastian repeated, "Right after it exploded."

"That doesn't make sense," Veronica said, slightly exasperated. This was not the way she ever expected meeting her idols would go. "I went to sleep last night in the comfort of my bed," she said, "And woke up in a completely different place with Misha's face," she waved a hand in his general direction, "Inches from mine." 

"Misha?" Jensen asked, "Who the hell is Misha?" Veronica looked at Jared, and then at Misha. 

They've gone insane, she thought, Or they're very high

Jared's eyes suddenly shined with recognition. "Misha?" he asked. Veronica nodded slowly, "Wasn't that Cas's name in Bizarro world?" he said, "The place we got zapped to where we were actors on a TV show?"

Jensen's face lit up with understanding. "Oh, yeah," he said, "The supernatural wasn't real."

"Yeah," Jared said. Veronica frowned. Were they messing with her? Did they think she wouldn't know what they were saying?

"And you were Polish," Jensen and Veronica said at the same time. They both turned to look at her surprised. She rolled her eyes. "I told you, I'm a fan," she said, "You think I wouldn't recognize the dialogue?" They looked at her confused. "That was part of Season 12's Episode 23. All Along The Watchtower," she explained, "When you go through the rift created by Jack's birth and meet Apocalypse world for the first time."

"Apocalypse world?" Jensen asked at the same time that Alex asked, "There was a rift created by my birth?"

Veronica closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her headache was getting worse and worse, and the game was not helping. Finally, Jared spoke. 

"Guys," he said, "I don't think Veronica is from around here." All eyes were on her. 

"Veronica," Misha, who had just been there taking it all in, spoke softly. "Yesterday," he started, "Did you by any chance meet anyone strange?" 

Veronica stared at him. Misha was speaking with his Castiel voice. Oh God, she thought, It's even better in person. Wait, what was his question?

Right. Strange. Veronica shook her, trying to remember. Suddenly a face came to mind. "The woman," she said, "At the booth at the conference."

"What did this woman say?" Jared asked, approaching her.

"Well, she said she'd grant me a wish," Veronica answered, thinking back to that conversation. 

Jensen spoke carefully, "What, exactly, did you ask for?"

Veronica went through the encounter in her head. What had she asked for? Suddenly, clarity came to her, and she couldn't believe it. Veronica struggled to breathe, thinking about everything that had happened since she had woken up. Impossible, she said to herself, It's just... impossible. 

She looked around her, her eyes wide open. She saw Dean's gun, the books at the bunker, the way they were all standing. Impossible, and yet...

Could it be?

"Oh God," Veronica spoke as if chocking on the words. "You," she said looking at Jensen. But then, it wasn't really Jensen, was it? She looked at Jared, noticing for the first time there was no beenie in sight. "And you," she said, "I wished to meet you, Sam and Dean Winchester."

 

Chapter Text

Veronica had stopped breathing. 

Jack didn't quite understand what was happening. For starters, he didn't understand how Veronica had just shown up after an explosion. He also didn't understand why she kept calling them by other names. He definitely didn't understand why Veronica would wish to meet Sam and Dean. And what was all this talk about other worlds?

One thing he did understand, though, was that humans needed to breathe. 

So when Veronica had stopped, Jack worried. He looked at Cas, hoping he would do something, but it seemed he was just as lost as Jack was. Jack then looked at Sam, who was already handing Veronica a brown paper bag. Without hesitation, Veronica took it and started breathing into it. With fascination, Jack sat next to her and observed how a simple paper bag helped her breathing normalize. 

Humans really were such interesting things. 

"Jack," Sam addressed him, "Do you mind staying here with Veronica for a little while?" he asked. Jack frowned slightly confused, why would he mind? Misinterpreting his expression, he continued, "She shouldn't be alone."

"Sure," Jack answered without hesitation.

"Guys," said Sam towards the others. After tilting his head slightly towards the kitchen, he started leaving the room. Jack had studied that gesture with Castiel a few days earlier. It was meant to indicate direction. In this case, Jack assumed, Sam was telling the others to follow him to the kitchen. One by one, the others did, leaving Jack alone with Veronica, who had managed to continue to breathe, now without the help of the brown paper bag.

Jack turned to Veronica and smiled. "Hello," he said. 

Veronica looked at him and smiled, "Hi Jack," she said. 

"How do you know our names?" Jack wondered innocently. He had been surprised when Veronica had immediately identified Sam and Dean. 

"It's a long story," Veronica replied. Jack scooted closer, settling in. He stared, waiting for her to start. Veronica, realizing that Jack was waiting on her, started talking.

"I'm not from around here," she said. 

"I noticed," Jack answered, "Something about a different world?"

"Yes," Veronica started, "I come from a different version of this earth," she said. "In my earth, the Supernatural isn't real," she explained, "It has no power."

"So how did you know about us?" Jack asked.

"In my world, the lives of the Winchester brothers is a TV Show," Veronica answered, "I'm a big fan of it."

"So our lives are all in a TV Show?" he asked, his eyes opened wide. This was all so fascinating. Jack had just discovered TV the day before. To think that his life was part of a show the way that Rick and Lori were just characters in The Walking Dead. 

"It's called Supernatural," Veronica said, shyly smiling. "Though I'm starting to notice some inconsistencies in the two stories." Veronica frowned, deep in thinking. For a reason he couldn't quite explain, he reached out and softly pushed a finger in between her eyebrows, effectively dissipating her frown. Veronica smiled wide, and Jack inevitably smiled too. Veronica looked really pretty when she smiled. 

"What kind of inconsistencies?" Jack asked, continuing the conversation. 

"Balthazar is alive, for starters," she said, chuckling. Jack raised his eyebrows in surprise. 

"Balthazar died?" Jack asked quietly, hoping no one in the kitchen could listen. 

"Yeah," Veronica answered, "All the way back in season six." 

"Who else?" Jack couldn't help himself. He didn't want Veronica to think he was badgering her, or trying to make her uncomfortable. But it was all so interesting. 

"Bobby," Veronica said. Jack gasped, but before he could say anything, Veronica continued. "There was also Charlie, Pamela, Crowley, Metatron, Kevin, Ellen, Jo, Gabriel..." Jack couldn't help himself and interrupted.

"Why does your show kill so many good people?!" he asked altered, looking at Veronica. She shrugged.

"It makes for good TV," she said, "Which of those are still alive?" she asked intrigued. 

"Well, Charlie is," Jack said, "So is Crowley, Bobby and Metatron," Jack went through the names. "I think that's it," he finished. Veronica seemed to think about that for a minute. 

"When did Gabriel die?" she asked. 

"I never met him," Jack answered, "But I heard he died during the apocalypse," he said, "Back when Lucifer was free."

"Interesting," she said. She was silent for a second before her head shot up, "Wait, Lucifer," she said, "Where is he?"

Jack looked at her stranged. "In the cage," he said softly. 

"Oh hell," she said, "How were you born then?" 

"Part of his essence was left in his vessel," Jack explained, "He found his way to my mother."

Veronica sighed. "This world is so much different than I expected," she said, "I wonder how many things from my world are made up and how many are real and just simply didn't happen here."

They were silent for what seemed like a long time before Jack spoke again. "So there's many versions of this earth?" Jack asked. Veronica stared at him for a few seconds before clearing her throat and speaking.

"Yes," she answered, "There are infinitive versions of this earth." 

"How does that work?" Jack asked fascinated. Veronica smiled and looked around. She leaned in a picked up a pen and a piece of paper from a nearby table. 

"I always wanted to explain this Flash style," she said excitement leaking through her words. Jack smiled, despite not understanding the reference. She drew a circle in the middle of the page. "Okay, so this is this earth, right? Your earth," she said. Next to it, she drew an identical circle. "This one," she pointed at the second circle, "is my earth." She then proceeded to draw a few more circles randomly positioned in the page. "Like our earths, there are many different ones," she said. She pointed at a different circle, "An earth were America was never colonized," she pointed at the next one, "One where the Nazis won World War II," she said before pointing to yet another circle, "One where all of us are evil," she explained. 

"All of these earths," she continued, "They inhabit the same space in their own universe," she said, "But they vibrate at a different frequency from each other, therefore not crossing each other."

"So how did you get here?" Jack asked curiously. 

"Somehow," Veronica explained, "There was enough power localized that created a rift," she said, "A rip in space and time that allowed me to cross to this earth."

"So you broke into my world?" Jack asked jokingly. Veronica laughed softly. 

"What?" she asked mocking him, "You gonna arrest me for it?" Jack laughed loudly. 

"I've been told it is sometimes necessary to break into places for the good of all," Jack said, the smirk in his face mirroring Veronica's. 

I hope you stay, Jack couldn't stop his thoughts from going in that direction. But then, he wasn't trying that hard. It'd be nice to have a friend of my own, he reasoned.

Meanwhile, with the grown-ups...

To say that Dean was frustrated was an understatement. 

"What the hell?" he said as soon as they entered the kitchen.

"I don't know, man" Sam helplessly answered.

"No, I mean, seriously, what the hell?" Dean said, "Are we saying we have a woman granting wishes, sending teenagers through worlds?" he asked sarcastically.

"I'm afraid is bigger than that" Castiel spoke seriously. Dean turned to look at him, wondering what was going on in his head. Cas had seemed distracted when Dean had found him outside the bunker earlier, and now, he seemed resigned for some reason. 

"What do you mean?" asked Sam. Dean waited impatiently for an explanation. Suffice to say, he didn't like the one he got.

"I went to see Metatron," Cas said. 

"What?" Dean asked clearly pissed off. Metatron was, after all, the bastard who had taken Castiel's grace, not to mention caused the angels to fall. And let's not forget of that time he killed Dean. "Cas," he said, "Why would you do that?" 

"Because, Dean," Castiel answered clearly tired, "He may be human now but he used to be the scribe of God." Dean prepared himself to argue but was interrupted before he got a chance.

"He's got a point, mate," Balthazar said, "If anybody would know about this, it'd be him."

"Okay," Sam said, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. Focus, he seemed to say. "What did you find out?" he asked.

"He told me the conditions you described, Balthazar," said Castiel tilting his head in the general direction of the mentioned, making eye contact, "Were written in another tablet."

"Wait, how many more are there?" Dean asked irritated, "I thought it was just Angels, Demons, and Leviathans."

"He wouldn't reveal the exact amount, but I think it's safe to assume it's more than that," said Cas. Dean snorted and mumbled quietly, Safe to assume, before rolling his eyes.

"From which tablet were the conditions from?" asked Sam, keeping an eye in his brother.

"He called it Traveler" answered Cas.

"Blimey, that girl?" Balthazar said surprised just as Dean had asked, "What the hell is a Traveler?"

"He said the exact words in the tablet say 'And the angels shall weep with envy as the traveler passes through, and there will be salvation'," said Castiel.

They were quiet for a minute, processing. Before Dean could ask what the hell that meant, Balthazar spoke.

"It's not a what, it's a who," he started answering Dean's question, "One person in between all the worlds who has the power to travel between them." 

"Wait, what about dreamwalkers?" Sam asked, "And Jack?"

"Dreamwalkers travel through worlds the way your mind dreams," Balthazar explained, "They're there, they see and they touch, but they're not actually there," he said, "Their actions cannot influence that world."

"And Jack is a Nephilim," Cas continued, "He can open doors but he needs direction from a dreamwalker," he seemed to think about that for a minute, "And doors go two ways," he said, "Wherever he opens a door, something can come through to our world too."

"Then this Traveler, what? Just does whatever it wants?" asked Dean.

"In a way, yes," said Castiel, "The Traveler can go to any world without opening a door, and it can affect that world in whatever way she sees fit."

"She?" Sam said, "So Veronica, she's this Traveler?"

"It would appear so" Cas said. 

"But what she described, it doesn't sound like it was her who did it, it sounds like it was the woman," Sam noted. Dean's hands gripped the nearest chair, his frustration starting to be visible.

"So who's the Traveler?" Dean asked, "The woman or Veronica?"

"The Traveler shouldn't be able to send anyone but herself through worlds," Balthazar clarified.

"Shouldn't?" Dean snorted, "Well that's comforting."

"But then, how could Veronica be the Traveler if she isn't aware of it?" Sam pointed out, "How could she travel through worlds without noticing?"

That seemed to quiet down for a bit, all of them deep in thinking. Balthazar was the first one to speak. "You said this world... What did you call it?"

"Bizarro world," answered Dean.

"Yes, this Bizarro world," Balthazar said, "You said it doesn't have the Supernatural?"

"Yeah, exactly," Sam said.

"Then it makes sense she wouldn't know," Balthazar thought out loud, "If there's no magic in her world, then her powers wouldn't work."

"But that still doesn't explain how is she here" Dean said.

"I don't know," Cas said, "But one thing is for sure, without a dreamwalker, Veronica is the only one who can get herself home." 

Dean finally saw a little light at the end of the tunnel. "That shouldn't be a problem, right?" Dean asked, hopeful.

Balthazar and Castiel exchanged a look. "What?" Dean asked, knowing that look, "What's wrong?"

"Veronica doesn't know about her powers," Cas said, "Getting her to the point where she can actually make the trip and survive..."

"It's gonna take time," Baltahzar finished.

"How much time?" Dean asked.

"It's impossible to say," Castiel answered.

"Well, then we train her, how hard can it be?" Sam asked, "You're already training Jack," he pointed out.

"Jack we can hide," Castiel said, "Veronica using her powers, it's gonna draw a lot of attention."

"The wrong kind," Balthazar clarified.

Sam sighed, and proceeded to say out loud what everyone was already thinking, "She'll be in danger."

"Well, that's just freaking perfect," Dean said, his knuckles turning white as he held the chair with everything he had, "Do me a favor, Sam," Dean let go of the chair harshly, making it jump a little, "Next time I say it's too quiet, pay attention."

Chapter Text

 Sam had heard some dumbass plans from Dean in his lifetime. Dean selling his soul to a demon was bad. Getting the mark of Cain was worse. And that was not counting the many times he had let others use him as a punching bag with no regard to his own life. 

Wow, Sam thought while going over the list in his mind, My brother really has a knack for this stuff.

Not telling Veronica about her powers, however, that was the dumbest one so far.

"She's going to find out eventually, Dean," Sam had tried reasoning with him.

"How, Sammy?" He had asked, "If we don't tell her, and we get her back to her earth where there's no magic, how would she find out?"

Sadly for him, Sam seemed to be the only one thinking straight. Castiel and Balthazar had both agreed with Dean, and the three of them had walked back to the living room before Sam had had a chance to argue.

He didn't exactly have issues with the lying, God knows he had done it enough times before. But, for some reason he couldn't pinpoint, lying this time felt very, very wrong.

"We're not sure how you got here," he heard Castiel say when Sam had finally managed to catch up with them, "But we can get you back to your earth."

"How?" Veronica asked looking up from the couch. Very wrong, thought Sam again. 

"If we can find a dreamwalker," Dean said, "Jack can open up a rift."

Veronica looked at them surprised before speaking. "How do you know that if Jack never opened the door to Apocalypse world?" she asked. 

Despite really not wanting to participate in lying to her, Sam spoke. "Jack had an encounter with a dreamwalker a while ago," Sam answered, "He opened a rift."

"Accidentally," Jack clarified, "And I didn't know what it even was when it happened." He looked at Castiel before speaking again. "I don't think I can do that again yet," he said. 

"We'll just have to focus your training more in your powers," Cas said, "Getting Veronica home is a priority." 

"Why?" Jack asked. As if suddenly realizing what he had said, he clarified, "I mean, she's not hurting anybody."

"People from other worlds influence our world in ways we can't anticipate," Balthazar explained, "They don't belong here. It's dangerous."

Another lie, Sam thought. If she wanted, he realized, Veronica could belong anywhere.

"It's okay, Jack," Veronica addressed him, sending a small smile in Jack's direction. Sam looked between them, a new thought going through his mind. Thinking about what could happen, he prayed silently. Please God, he said, Don't let Jack get a crush on her. Sam thought looking at the Nephilim. Last thing this dumb plan needs is a broken heart.

"Where do we start looking?" asked Jack with a sigh. 

"Well," Veronica started, "How did you open a rift last time?" she asked, "Who did you use?"

"Derek Swan," Dean said, "But he died a while ago."

"We could ask around online," Sam suggested.

"I don't think that'll be necessary," Veronica said, "Have you guys met Kaia Nieves yet?"

"Kaia who?" Dean asked. Veronica then proceeded to tell them about the dreamwalker who could only focus on one place, The Bad Place, she called it. "She's very powerful," Veronica had said, "But if you want to get through to her, you're gonna need one more person."

And so, despite Sam hating the plan. Despite them having nothing to go on but Veronica's knowledge of a TV Show. And despite Balthazar leaving as soon as he had a chance saying "He had done his part," Sam found himself with a Nephilim and a Traveler in the back seat of the Impala, with his brother on the wheel, on his way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Here I thought we were done making stupid plans that'd get us killed, Sam thought. 

Veronica was many things. Clueless wasn't one of them. 

She knew, as soon as the boys had come back from the kitchen, that something was off. 

It wasn't that it was obvious. She had a feeling that if she had been anyone else, they would've fooled her, no problem. But she wasn't. She was Veronica Rhodes, who lived and died for Supernatural. She had seen every single season more times that she could count. She knew all of their movements, the difference in their vocabulary, their facial expressions; and with all the discrepancies between their worlds, she knew things about them that they didn't know themselves. 

So of course she knew they were all lying to her. 

She reasoned, however, that whatever it was would come to light eventually. It always did with the Winchester boys. So instead of going crazy focusing on the negative part of it all, she chose to focus on the good. For instance, she was on her way to Sioux Falls.

JODY, her mind yelled, BOBBY.

She had to agree. Getting to meet more characters from her favourite show, not the actors but the actual characters, it was out of this world fantastic. Literally, she thought. Though apparently, she had to be careful. She thought back to Castiel's warning before they left. 

"You should restrain yourself from telling us about the show," he warned her, "It could affect our actions in ways we can't foresee." Veronica had just enough time to nod before Dean had honked, telling her to hurry up. 

I might not be able to tell them anything, she thought, but I can get them to tell me

"Hey Sam," Veronica said, "Can you tell me about you guys?" He turned to look at her, eyebrows raised. 

"I thought you knew everything," he said, mockingly. Veronica rolled her eyes. 

"There are obviously some differences between what I know and what happened to you," she explained, "Otherwise, you guys would know about Kaia already." Veronica kept quiet for a second before speaking again. "It might be important," she added, "In case there's a game changer I don't know about."

Sam nodded, accepting the explanation. "Where do you want me to start?" Veronica thought about for a minute before smiling. 

"'Dad's on a hunting trip and he hasn't been home in a few days,'" she quoted. Dean looked at her through the rearview mirror. She shrugged, "It's a very important line," she said.

It wasn't easy, getting them to talk about themselves so much, but she suspected they were willing to do anything to distract themselves from the problem at hand. Knowing them as well as she did, she only had to push the right buttons, and they had started talking. For the next 5 hours and some, Dean and Sam told her the highlights of everything that had happened since the Pilot, with Jack commenting from time to time. 

The Kripke years, Veronica found, were identical in both worlds. I guess that shouldn't really surprise me, she thought to herself. After that, there were changes from time to time. Small, in the grand scheme of things, but not unimportant. 

For instance, Castiel never killed Balthazar at the end of season six. Instead, he had locked him up where he couldn't interfere (a place from which the Winchesters had later rescued him). Bobby, Veronica realized, recovered from the gunshot wound to the head, therefore never dying. Besides a few hunts here and there, these changes didn't affect the storyline a great deal. 

The game changer, she discovered, came in Season 10. 

"Wait," Veronica interrupted Sam, "How did you say you cured Dean again?"

Sam, startled by the first interruption from Veronica since they started, seemed to come out of a daze. "A purification ritual," he answered, "With angel grace instead of purified blood," he said. 

"Holy crap," Veronica said, her eyes suddenly darting in different directions all at once, her mind working fast to try and figure out exactly how many things changed. "Holy crap," she said again. 

"What is it?" asked Dean, his attention still on the road, but his eyes went to the rearview mirror every few seconds, watching Veronica's reaction. 

"You cured him early," Veronica said softly, her mind still to busy to care about what she was saying. 

"What do you mean 'early'?" Sam asked, confused. Veronica forced herself to focus. Damn it, she thought, this is what Cas meant

"In my world," she said, choosing her next words carefully, "things went... differently." 

"How differently?" Dean asked. Veronica bit her lip, thinking. She couldn't exactly say everything that went down.

Curing Dean early meant that Charlie never found the Book of the Damned so she never died. Rowena never made the spell that freed the Darkness or had her binding spell broken. Amara never forced Chuck out of hiding, Cas never said yes to Lucifer, Metatron never sacrificed himself, Mary was never brought back.

Holy Crap, Veronica thought again. No Amara meant no sun almost dying, which meant no British Men of Letters, no killing of the Alpha Vampire, and no Colt. The Colt! Veronica thought alarmed, No Mary means it's still with that sonofabitch Ramiel!

She couldn't tell them that, though. Not after what happen last time with the Lance of Michael, she reasoned. She gasped realizing something, No Lance of Michael means Cas never said I love you!!!! 

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, Veronica and her mind screamed at the same time. 

"Damn," Veronica said out loud, "My head hurts."

"That bad?" Jack asked, tilting his head slightly. Veronica thought about that for a minute, and the shrugged.

"It depends how you look at it," she said, "Some horrible things happened but," Veronica thought about the boys saving Apocalypse world, reunited with Mary, and of course, episode 300th. She smiled, "Some very good things too." She sighed before continuing, "It doesn't matter, none of it happened so let's keep it that way."

"You good?" asked Dean after a while. Veronica looked up and smiled before nodding. "Good, cause we're here," he said. 

She turned her head quickly towards the window. He was right, of course, they were there. She'd recognize that house anywhere. 

"Listen," Dean said before turning off the car completely, "We are about to tell her that there are other versions of this world out there," he said, "Dial it back on the fangirling."

"Dean," Sam reprimanded him. Dean shook his head in his direction before speaking. 

"No, Sam," Dean said, "It's gonna bad enough as it is, no need to have Veronica give her a heart attack."

"I can behave, Dean," Veronica said, rolling her eyes, "Authorities love me." With that, she stepped out of the car and started walking towards the door with the Winchesters following closely from behind. Seemingly having heard the car, the door opened, and Sheriff Jody Mills came to welcome them.

"Look what the cat dragged in," Jody said, embracing the Winchester boys in a hug, "Trouble must be nearby."

"Hi Jody," said Dean smiling. Veronica smiled too. That was the first time she had seen Dean smiling in person. He looks even better in real life, she noticed. After a bit, Jody let go, turning around and seeing Jack and Veronica. 

"This must be Jack," she said approaching the Nephilim. Jack nodded enthusiastically before saying his trademarked Hello, his hand shooting up. He's so adorable, Veronica thought.

"And what's your name?" Jody asked, now close to Veronica. She straightened herself discreetly and smiled brightly. 

"I'm Veronica, Sheriff Mills," she said softly, her voice dripping with sweetness, "It's nice meeting you." Jody smiled in her direction before saying she shared the sentiment. Veronica did her best to ignore Sam and Dean's shocked faces. Take that, Winchesters, she thought, I'm a real charmer

"Come on in, then," Jody said, leading them all into the house. 

"How are the girls?" Sam asked. Jody chuckled. 

"They're good," she said, "Alex is working at the hospital, Patience is visiting her dad, and Claire's in school."

"Really?" asked Dean. 

"Well, she better be," Jody answered before sitting down in the recliner. Jack, Dean and Sam got comfortable in the couch. Veronica, not really sure what to do, sat in a nearby chair and kept quiet. "So," Jody started, "What brings you here?" she asked, and eyebrow raised. Sam and Dean exchanged a look, trying to decide who would be the one to break it to her. 

Jody sighed, recognizing that look. Veronica had heard that sigh before. That was the The kids spilled orange juice on the carpet sigh. It was the motherhood sigh. Though in Jody's case, Veronica assumed, it was more of a The boys freed an evil thing, again. Must be Tuesday sigh.

Tuesday!!!, her mind seemed to scream. No, Veronica struggled to restrain herself. No thinking about Mystery Spot, she thought, if you go down that route then...

HEAT OF THE MOMENT, her mind sang. Veronica just barely stopped herself from releasing a sigh. That's gonna stick for a while, she thought. 

Jody's voice pulled her back to the present. "What's wrong?" she asked. 

Sam sat forward before speaking, "We need Claire's help."

Jody shook her head, "I would do anything for you boys, you know that," she started, "But if you take Claire out on a hunt, I'll never get her to go back to school."

"And we understand that, we do, but," Sam started, "We need her."

"Why?" Jody asked, "Why her?" Sam looked over his shoulder towards Dean. 

"Well," Dean struggled to find the words, moving his hands around as if that would somehow help. "The thing is that," he started again before stopping. That's enough, Veronica thought, this is getting painful to watch

"I'm not from this universe," Veronica explained quickly. All eyes turned towards her. Reflectively, she almost shrank in herself. She took a deep breath, building her confidence back up before speaking again. "To get back to my home, Claire needs to meet a girl by the name of Kaia Nieves," she said. 

"Not from this universe?" Jody asked, looking at the boys, "Care to expand on that?" The boys looked at each other again, starting up the whole 'Well' and 'The thing is' dance again. Veronica refrained from rolling her eyes. Boys, she thought. 

"I come from a universe where the supernatural doesn't exist," Veronica spoke again, "I came here by accident and I need to get back." 

Jody stared at her for what seemed like an eternity. Veronica didn't back down. She waited patiently for Jody to finish measuring her up. She didn't relax until Jody sat back on the seat, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. With that action, everyone in the room seemed to suddenly fall down with exhaustion, as if they had held on their breaths for too long. 

"Okay," Jody decided, "Why does Claire need to meet this Kaia?"

"She's a dreamwalker," Jack answered, "With her help, I could open a rift to Veronica's world."

"A rift?" Jody asked. 

"It's like a door," Sam explained, "If we can get one open, Veronica can get back to her universe."

"I still don't see why it has to be Claire," Jody said, crossing her arms, "Boys," she started, "I don't mean to be difficult but Claire has had it harder than most," she said, "I don't need to make it even harder."

"It has to be her, Sheriff," Veronica said, "In my world, I've already seen how this plays out. Claire is the only one who can convince Kaia to help us."

Jody stayed silent for a few minutes before speaking again. "Is Claire safe?" Jody asked staring directly at Veronica, she tilted her head confused. "When it all plays out," Jody clarified, "Is Claire safe?"

Veronica smiled. "She will be," she answered. Just gotta keep her and Kaia from coming along, she silently added. After a few more minutes, Jody nodded. "You can talk to her over dinner," Jody said, "She should be back in a couple of hours."

"Thank you, Sheriff," Veronica said. Jody shook her head. 

"I think it's safe for you to call me Jody," she answered. Veronica smiled, nodding. Jody stood up then and smiled at the boys. "Who wants to help with dinner?" she asked. 

"Sam will," Dean volunteered, "I'm gonna go check on Bobby."

"Bring him over for supper," Jody said, "I think he misses calling you idjits."

Dean chuckled. "I will," he said, getting up and walking towards the door. He stopped before leaving, turning back around to look at Jody. She raised an eyebrow in his direction. "Thank you, Jody," he said, "Really." 

Jody smiled. "Hey," she said softly, "Just take care of my girl."

"Will do," Dean said, closing the door behind him. Jody started walking towards the kitchen before turning back to look at Sam. 

"You coming or what?" she said. Chuckling, Sam stood up and started off behind Jody. 

"You guys can go ahead and watch TV," he said before leaving, "I think Jody has Netflix."

Veronica moved over to the couch Jack was sitting on. "I don't know a lot of shows," Jack said, handing her the remote, "What's good?"

Veronica smiled wickedly. "Tell me, Jack," she started, excitement settling in, "Have you heard of a show called How I Met Your Mother?"

"No," he answered, tilting his head, "Is it good?"

Veronica's smile widened. "It's better than good," she said, playing the first episode of the show, "It's legend- wait for it- dary!"

Chapter Text

Jack was still getting used to catching the more subtle differences in humans.

For instance, Jack was used to most humans having two arms with two hands, two legs with two feet, and one big bulk putting it all together. He knew humans couldn't survive without a head, and that head was supported by a neck that was also attached to the bulk. The head had two eyes, two ears, one nose and one pair of lips. Those were common factors in humans.

Obvious differences he understood. Men had a long reproductive organ, while women's was mostly inside of their bodies. Women had breasts and men didn't. Women were generally cleaner looking, while men were usually on the scruffy side. Some people were smaller, some were taller, some were fatter. Some were dark, some were white, and a lot were somewhere in the middle. Some had long hair, some had short, some had none at all. Hair could be of any colour, yet it was usually yellow, brown, black or red.

Blonde, he reminded himself, not yellow.

These differences meant nothing to him, but in some cases, for humans, in meant everything.

He cared, however, about Veronica's differences.

She was normal, for the most part. Average height, not tall or short. Average weight, not skinny or fat. Average breasts, though maybe slightly larger. Jack wouldn't know, Dean was better at measuring through clothing. Her hips were wider than he was used to seeing, but not by much. In all ways, Veronica was mostly just average.

But then there were the little things, the most subtle parts of her that Jack couldn't stop thinking about once he had seen them. She had soft features, which made Jack think she looked a little younger than she probably was. Her hair was a dark brown, and it went straight down until it stopped a couple inches after her shoulders. Her eyes were a bit big for her face, the colour that same gray he had seen once she had blinked away the silver back at the bunker. Her lips were rosy, though they turned a lighter shade when she bit them.

Jack noticed she did that a lot, usually when she stared at something for a long time, though her eyes never really seemed focused on the thing she was looking at.

Human minds wander, Castiel had told him before, usually, a loud noise will suffice to get them to refocus.

Veronica's mind seems to wander a lot, Jack thought, I suppose I get it since my own mind seems to be wandering at the moment.

Castiel was right, a loud noise did suffice to get him back into focus. He turned towards Veronica and watched her laugh. He had seen it several times since they had started watching the show, and he found himself mesmerized every time. Veronica didn't laugh like others he had seen. When Veronica laughed, her whole body moved with her. Her feet stepped into different places, her hands came together towards her mouth as if she could somehow stop the very loud sounds she would make when laughing. Her upper body would come down as her lower parts would come up, almost clashing but not quite. She would then hold herself, as if trying to find air to breathe, despite the fact that there was plenty of air available.

Jack would smile every time he saw her like that. Veronica really looked free in a way he couldn't quite see most of the time.

Do humans usually become this acquainted with other people, or is this inappropriate? Jack wondered. He made plans to call Castiel and ask him since he would normally know what constituted normal behaviour now that he had mastered it.

He forced his attention back to the screen. He found he quite enjoyed the show, though he couldn't understand a lot of the jokes. Still, he thought looking back at Veronica, I'd watch this with her any day.

Unfortunately, Bobby was used to the boys keeping secrets. 

Idjits, he thought. Well-raised idjits, by him of course, but idjits nonetheless. He may be old, though he'd never admit it, but he was in no way, an idiot. 

When Dean had walked in his house with a six-pack of beer and a pie, he knew the boys had messed up again. Though getting them to tell him what was actually going on would take more than words, by the looks of it. 

"You look like hell, boy," Bobby said as Dean settled in one of the chairs, setting the pie down in the coffee table that was presently crowded by newspaper articles. 

"You too, old man," Dean answered, opening a couple of beers. He reached out and handed Bobby one of the bottles, "What were you working on?" he asked, grabbing the nearest article. 

"Vampire nest down in Carlsbad, New Mexico," he said, "Sent Roy and Walt to check it out."

Dean made a noise before taking a big gulp of his drink, "Roy and Walt, huh?" he said, "Good to know those two are still around to shoot us if Sam and I ever need it."

"As if dying was such a hardship for you two," Bobby replied.

Dean shrugged, "It's inconvenient," he said, "And shooting us wasn't exactly a painless way to go, you know?"

"Boo hoo princess," he said, "Now how about you tell me what brings your stinky ass to my house?"

"Can't a guy come over with beer and pie to hang out with you?" Dean asked, grabbing a fork from one of the kitchen drawers. 

"Sure he can," Bobby answered, "But since that has never happened before, I don't buy it." Dean chose that exact moment to shove a fork full of pie into his mouth. "Out with it, boy," Bobby said, "What's got your panties in a twist?"

Not bothering with swallowing first, Dean spoke. "Don't know what you're talking about, Bobby," he said, "Everything's quiet."

Bobby scoffed, "You and I both know things are never that quiet," he said. 

"I don't know what you want me to tell you, Bobby," Dean was so obviously lying, Bobby almost reached out to smack him, "We're all good."

"If you're so damn good," Bobby started, "Where's Sam?"

Dean stopped eating for a second, only to point at Bobby with his fork. "That reminds me," he said, "Jody says to come over for dinner tonight."

"Dinner?" Bobby asked suspiciously, "Why?"

Dean started fidgeting ever so slightly. There we go, Boby thought. "We have a..." Dean paused, seemingly trying to find the words, "a guest," he said finally. 

"What kind of guest?" Bobby asked, crossing his arms. Dean straightened as if suddenly enlightened. 

"Jack is there," Dean said smiling. 

"Uhum," Bobby said unimpressed. "And?" he asked. 

"What? Your grandson isn't enough for you?" Dean asked jokingly. Oh boy, Bobby thought, you really shit the bed this time, didn't you?

Since Dean was trying so hard to keep it a secret, Bobby decided to let it go for the moment. "What time is dinner at?" he asked, allowing for the change of conversation. Dean looked so obviously relieved Bobby rolled his eyes. He knew whatever mess the boys had gotten into this time, he'd find out at dinner. 

"Seven," Dean answered, digging in once again into his pie. Bobby drank from his beer, thinking. Whatever these two did, he thought, Jody and I can find out

This was shaping up to be one hell of a dinner. 

Chapter Text

Sam was starting to get frustrated with his brother.

He was an incredibly patient person, he had to be after everything they had gone through. But his patience was dangerously low as Dean told him in the phone that they needed to add Bobby to the list of people they were keeping the truth from. 

So there's Veronica, Sam went through the list in his mind, Jack, Jody, Claire, and now Bobby.  

"Dean," Sam said into the phone, "If anybody will know some way to figure this out, it's Bobby."

"No, Sam," Dean said back, ever so stubborn, "He's helped us enough times already. We put him in danger every single time, he can sit this one out."

Sam took a deep breath to calm himself down before answering, "It's Bobby, Dean," Sam tried to reason, "He doesn't like to sit things out."

"We got him shot," Dean barked, essentially shutting Sam up. He closed his eyes, thinking of Bobby in that hospital bed. He still had nightmares about it from time to time, the feeling that it was it, that they had lost Bobby for good. Dean continued talking, knowing he had won the fight, at least for now. "He's not getting involved in this Traveler mess."

"What did you tell him about her?" Sam asked, looking around to make sure he wasn't being overheard. 

"I'll figure something out," Dean answered. "How are things on your side?"

Sam rolled his eyes, "She's not a monster, Dean," Sam said, "She's just a girl."

"She's a freaking cosmic entity, Sam," Dean shot back, "The sooner we get rid of her, the better."

Sam sighed, knowing he had to tell Dean what he had started to notice. "Jack likes her," he said. 

"Jack likes everyone," Dean pointed out.

"No, Dean," Sam clarified, "Jack likes her likes her. He's attracted to her."

It was quiet on the other side for a second. "Damn it," Dean said, "Jack, damn it," Dean sighed, "Why can't we go back to the easy stuff? A wendigo?  A demon possession? Even another shapeshifter with a movie obsession it's better than this."

"Hard to think things were ever that easy," Sam added, "How long till you're here?"

"I'll get the old man and be on our way," Dean said, "See you in a minute."

Sam sighed. "Are you sure we're doing the right thing here, Dean?" Sam asked.

"I don't see any other way for this to go down," Dean answered, sounding as hopeless and defeated as Sam felt. 

"Dean says they'll be here in a minute," Sam said walking back into the kitchen after ending the call with his brother. 

"Good," Jody said, "Food's ready." 

"Do you need help?" Veronica asked, coming into the kitchen, closely followed by Jack. "I can set the table," she added. 

Jody turned to look at him, but Sam just shrugged. It was her house. "Sure," Jody said, "Plates are on that cupboard, forks and knives over there, glasses up there," she pointed at every place she mentioned before turning back to Sam. "Alex has the night shift, so she won't be eating with us," she added.

Sam stared at Jack as he followed Veronica around, occasionally helping her when she would let him. He's smiling a lot, Sam thought worried, maybe they shouldn't spend so much time together.

The front door opened then, and Claire's voice rang through the house as she yelled: "I'm home."

"In the kitchen!" Jody yelled back. Claire walked in and smiled when she noticed Sam. 

"What?" She said, "Hunting got too boring for you?" She mocked him. 

Sam rolled his eyes and smiled, "Figured it was time you met Jack," he half lied. Claire's attention turned to the pair as they walked back into the kitchen, their task done with. 

Veronica was chuckling at something Jack had said, one of her hands playing with her hair, her eyes avoiding his slightly. 

Crap, he thought, this is getting more complicated by the second

"And who's she?" Claire asked, snapping Sam back to the present. Veronica and Jack turned to look at her, a small smile playing on Veronica's lips as she recognized her. 

"I'm Veronica," she said, "Nice to meet you, Claire." 

"Why are you here?" Claire asked suspiciously. In her mind, she was hoping Jody hadn't taken another stray. 

Just then the front door opened, and Dean's voice rang through the house. "I'm starving!" He said.

"Let's go eat," said Sam, effectively defusing the situation before explanations were necessary. 

Reluctantly, Claire walked to the dining room, followed by Jody, who sent Sam a look that said let me tell her, before disappearing through the doorway, along with Jack and Veronica. 

At least the food will be good, he thought resigned to an awkward family dinner.

Veronica did not expect things to be so tense at the dinner table. 

She knew things weren't exactly Kosher, but it seemed things were slightly worse than she'd originally thought. 

For instance, Bobby didn't seem to know about her, as the first thing he had asked when he saw her was who the hell was she. Dean interrupted Veronica before she could get the explanation out of the way, answering a simple "She's a guest," before diving in the mashed potatoes.

Sam seemed to be watching Jack like a hawk, and even Jack, who was usually clueless to such things, seemed to noticed, causing him to be so clearly uncomfortable Veronica felt sorry for him. 

Then there were Jody and Claire, who kept giving looks to each other, seemingly fighting without actually talking. 

It was a very tense dinner. 

One thing you should know about Veronica: She doesn't handle tension very well. 

"So," she said, all heads suddenly looking at her as she broke the silence. She seemed to forget what she was about to say, settling for complimenting the food. "It's really good, Jody," she said, "Thanks."

Jody smiled, casting yet another glance at Claire before focusing on Veronica. "Thank you," she said, "It's not a problem." 

"Do you cook?" Jack asked her. Veronica smiled towards him, thankful. She couldn't break the silence all by herself. He smiled, understanding. 

God, she thought, why aren't there guys like that back in my world?

"Yes," she said, "My parents are usually busy working, and I'm the only one of my siblings who was ever any good at the kitchen," she chuckled remembering Jeremy's attempts at spaghetti, "I've been cooking for them almost my whole life." 

That seemed to spark a general interest at the table. "How many siblings do you have?" Jack asked, still the only one who seemed willing to talk, though the others had stopped silently talking to each other and were listening to the conversation. 

"4," she answered, "Two brothers and two sisters," she explained. "I'm the middle one," she added before anyone could ask.

"And you cook for all of them, every day?" Jody asked, curious. 

Veronica wasn't especially enjoying being the center of attention, but it was better than the tense silence, so she sucked it up and answered. "Not all of them every day," she said, "Jeremy, that's the oldest, he lives in his own apartment and only comes for dinner on Friday night. And Angelica, she's a year younger than me, has cheerleading practice every Tuesday and Thursday after school, so I don't worry about her then." 

"What about you?" Claire asked, grudgingly joining the conversation. "What do you do during the week?" 

"Well," Veronica started, "I graduated high school not too long ago, but I have volunteer work at the local TV Station on Wednesday nights, so my mom cooks those days, and I have my favourite TV Show every Thursday," she said. Claire seemed to try and gain as much information from Veronica as she could, as she then proceeded to ask her about her high school activities. "I was pretty active back in high school," Veronica answered, "Peer mentor, captain of the soccer team, the cheerleading team, and president of the student council."

Veronica shrugged their shocked looks. "I like being productive," she said as an explanation, even though that wasn't completely true. 

"How old are you?" Sam asked. As if realizing the question was a bit too forward, he added, "Sorry, you don't look like you should've just graduated."

"I'm 20, actually," Veronica answered, embarrassed.

"So you're stupid?" Claire asked. Sam quickly turned to look at her, Jody reprimanded her with a look, Dean chocked a little on his food, Jack frowned and Bobby just closed his eyes, as if restraining himself.

Veronica would've normally laughed it off, as this wasn't the first time something like this had happened. However, if she knew anything about Claire, she answered to strength. So instead of shrugging it off and biting down the stab of pain, the way she usually would, she stood a little taller and looked her straight in the eye as she spoke. "I was in a car accident when I was 14, and it was a few years before I could go back to school," she explained, the room suddenly quiet, Claire's smirk dying almost immediately. 

Jack looked around, waiting for someone to speak again, or explain, but no one did. "I'm sorry," Jack said, though he wasn't sure what he was apologizing for. "I don't understand," he said, a bit frustrated of being the only in the room who didn't instantly get it.

"Jack," Sam said, shaking his head. Veronica interrupted him before he could say anything else. 

"It's okay," she said, smiling reassuringly towards Sam before turning to Jack. She could answer simply, but maybe it was how much she loved his character, or maybe it was that he had been the only one to act naturally around her, or maybe it was just his general innocence, but Veronica decided to tell him the whole story. "Remember the brother I told you about earlier?" Veronica asked Jack, very aware of how close everyone was listening. 

Jack nodded before answering, "Jeremy, right?" he said. 

Veronica smiled nostalgically, she was starting to miss her brother. "Yes, him," she said. She took a deep breath before starting again, wondering if anybody else had noticed they had all stopped eating. "When he was younger, he had some... issues," she spoke relaxed as if she wasn't telling them about the worst time of her life. "He started school away from home, and he didn't handle responsibility very well back then. One night, my parents got held up at work. Angelica and I were supposed to stay over at a friend's house, but she got scared about sleeping away from home and I called my parents. Since they couldn't pick us up, they called Jeremy."

She paused, struggling not to fall into the memories as they fought their way to the surface. "He was pretty hammered when he showed up," she continued, "I realized it as soon as he came. And I should've said something," she sighed, "But I didn't. Angelica needed to get home, and I knew we couldn't wait for our parents. so we got in with him at the wheel. He wasn't in a good mood. I assume he wasn't happy about cutting his party short. Or maybe he's just a mean drunk, I don't really know. I haven't seen him drunk since that night," Veronica realized she was getting off topic. 

She shook her head to clear it before continuing, "Anyway," she said, "Angelica started talking about how much fun she had with her friend and I noticed she hadn't put on her seatbelt. I tried to get her to put it on herself, but she just wanted to keep talking. I tried asking Jeremy to pull over, but he just ignored me. So I undid my seatbelt and reached back to put on hers. I managed to do it before the truck hit," she said, the words almost hurting to come out. Some of them flinched and some took a sharp breath. Jack just stared, clinging to every word. 

"They didn't get too hurt," she clarified, "But I went through the windshield," she spoke almost robotically now, these words spoken many times before. "I was in pretty bad shape. Had a lot of surgeries just to repair the damage, and it took almost a month before my brain turned back on," she explained, "When I woke up, I was paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn't move, though I could feel everything," she pointed out, "Trust me, you do not want to be a paralytic who can actually feel the pain that paralyzed her."

She took a deep breath before she kept going, "It took a lot of those almost impossible to work, supposedly miraculous surgeries and even more physical therapy before the doctors were ready to give up," she said, "It had been two weeks after the latest surgery, and there were no results. Until one day, out of nowhere, I started healing." 

"What?" Jody asked, a little choked up on her own words. 

"I know," Veronica smiled, trying to lighten up things, "They called it a miracle. Within a year I was back to walking, and a year later I was running. It was insane," she said. "I still have some the occasional bit of pain, and there are some weird neurological side effects from the time I was a vegetable," she added, "But I'm good now." 

How do you even follow a conversation like that? 

"I'm sorry," Jack finally said, this time knowing he meant I'm sorry for what happened to you. There were still some words Veronica had said he couldn't quite understand, but he understood enough to know that what she had gone through had hard, and the fact that she was okay now was a testament to how strong she was. 

"I'm sorry too," Claire said, looking down at her food, "I was being an ass," she added. 

"I know," Veronica said, smiling, "I understand. You don't really like strangers."

Claire chuckled, "No, I guess I don't." 

Chapter Text

 Dean was not heartless. No matter what Sam's present look towards him indicated. 

"Dean," Sam reprimanded him, "How is that the thing you take away from her story?"

"How can I not, Sam?" he snapped, Sam had been judging and fighting him every second of the way and Dean was growing tired of it. "She was miraculously healed? We both know miracles are never just miracles!" 

"You two, lower your voices," Bobby told them, walking out of the house, followed by Jody. "The kids are asleep and you two whiny idjits don't need to wake them up."

"Along with the whole neighboorhood," Jody added.

"I was hoping you would just tell me what did you do this time," Bobby said, "But since that is clearly not the case, and you are dragging Claire with you, I'm putting my damn foot down."

"Bobby," Dean started, "I swear there's nothing..."

Sam interrupted him, tired of hiding something so important. If anybody needed to know, it was Bobby. "Veronica is not human," he hurried out. 

"Sammy!" Dean glared at him. 

"No shit, Sherlock," Bobby said, "Miracles don't just happen."

"What is she?" Jody asked, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow. She was pissed they didn't tell him this before, putting Claire at a higher risk than they had cared to inform her of. 

"Cas called her a Traveler," Dean said, his jaw tensed.

"We're not exactly sure what it means," Sam said, "We know she's powerful, and she can travel through worlds, but that's about it."

"And she's sleeping in my house?" Jody asked glancing back to her home, considering running in and getting Claire as far away as she could. 

 Bobby looked at them suspiciously, a piece of the puzzle not quite fitting in. "I'm not a fool, boys," Bobby said, "She wasn't lying back there. So how about you explain to me how in the whole speech of hers, she forgot to mention she was some kind of monster?" 

 "She's not a monster," Sam said, almost reflexively. After dinner, despite his mind telling him otherwise, he couldn't help but start liking the girl. "She's a cosmic entity," he clarified. 

 "A cosmic entity who just happened to be hanging out with you, for what, exactly?" Jody asked. 

 "We didn't lie before, Jody," Dean said, offended. "She's not from this world, we don't know how she got here and we do need Claire to get her back."

 "But Veronica told you all of that," Sam explained, embarrassed, "And she doesn't know."

 They were silent for a second before Bobby said "Balls!" and Jody smacked them both in the back of their heads. 

 "Of all the stupid things you've done," Bobby started, furious, "This takes the crown."

 "You're telling me that girl in there has no idea of who is she?" Jody asked, almost as angry as Bobby, "What she can do?"

 "Her world doesn't have magic," Dean said, "We can send her back without her ever finding out the truth."

 "That is a dumb plan," Bobby said. 

 "Thank you," Sam answered. Dean glared at Sam some more, you're not helping, he thought. 

 "You aren't any better, Sasquatch," Bobby shot back, "Keeping this from us," Bobby continued, "That was just plain stupid."

 "We're sorry, Bobby," Sam said, giving him that trademarked kicked puppy look. 

 "Yeah, sorry," Dean said, looking at the suddenly very interesting pavement. 

 "You can leave with Claire in the morning," Jody said, sighing, "If you call Donna and have her meet you wherever it is you're going."

 "Jody," Dean started, but she didn't let him continue. 

 "You lied to us," she said accusingly, "You are getting a babysitter."

 "Okay," Sam settled, "We'll call her in the morning."

 They went in the house then, Jody first, Bobby and Sam following closely behind. Dean stared after them, before looking at the phone in his hand. Talking with Sammy wasn't the reason he had gone out in the first place. 

"You coming?" Sam asked, looking back. Dean shooked his head. 

"I'm gonna check in with Cas," he said, giving a look to his brother that dared him to even raise the feelings issue after the shit he had just pulled. He should be thankful Dean wasn't kicking his ass for that. 

"Don't go in too late," Sam said, a knowing smile in his face before turning his back and going to crash at one of Jody's couches. Dean stared at the phone.

And stared. 

And stared. 

Stop being such a pussy, Winchester, he told himself before finally dialling Castiel's cell number.

He answered at the third ring. "Hello, Dean," he said. Dean closed his eyes, all the bravery he had mustered up suddenly gone. Not tonight, he told himself.

"Hey, Cas," he said back, his voice sounding broken, defeated. 

"What's wrong?" the angel asked. Dean could almost picture him outside of Jody's house with him, a frown on his face. 

"I can't sleep," Dean confessed to the phone. There was a silence before Castiel spoke again.

"Why not?" and Dean could see him tilting his head in that ridiculous way of his. 

"Because I'm a sharing a roof with something that could blow it up," Dean said, "Along with the rest of the world," Dean added. 

"She's not a something, Dean," Castiel's disapproval evident even through the phone. "I think you misunderstand the situation."

"You said she was very powerful," Dean pointed out, "Your exact words were The angels wept in envy."

"Jack is very powerful," Cas said, "Would you fear him the way you fear her?"

"I did," Dean said, ashamed of the memories. It took a while before Cas and Sam could get him to come around. Who can blame him, really? he said to himself, for the hundredth time, Jack is the son of Lucifer in the end.

"But you don't anymore," there was no doubt in Castiel's voice, no judgment. It wasn't an accusation or a question, it simply was. "The Traveler is dangerous, Dean," Cas continued, "But only in the way Jack is, or I am," he said. "We are powerful, but the Traveler is an individual, and it will all depend on the girl, not the role, not her power" he added, "You taught me that."

Okay, this conversation was going down a way that Dean simply couldn't go down. "So she's not a monster then?" Dean asked, thankful that Sam wasn't around to tell him I told you so. 

"No," Castiel said, "If anything, she's a good omen. The Traveler brings salvation with her," he explained, "We need to get her to her world, because she's in danger in ours, but she's not evil." 

Dean felt his muscles relax to that, a weight suddenly lifted off his shoulders. He had been so winded up lately, one apocalypse after another after another, he couldn't trust good things very easily. But if Cas said it was good, then Dean would trust that, even if just for now. 

"Thanks, Cas," Dean said, trying to show he was grateful without showing too much. 

He could almost hear Cas's smile, "Sleep well, Dean."

Hanging up, Dean turned around and walked into the house, hoping to catch some shut-eye, when a noise in the kitchen startled him. Slowly and silently, as sneaky as his father had taught him, he approached the kitchen. What he saw did not help to easy all the worries Cas had helped with not five minutes before.

It was Veronica, sifting through the drawers, and her hands were bleeding. 

"What the hell?" he asked, startling her. 

"Did I wake you?" she asked, breathing unsteady, "I didn't mean to make any noise, I just needed some gauze or something to stop the bleeding," she said, lifting her hands towards him.

"How did you do that?" he asked, opening a cabinet and taking out the first aid kit he was very familiar with. 

"I," Veronica started, before sighing, "I had a nightmare."

"A nightmare," Dean repeated suspiciously. 

"I had them a lot, after the accident," she explained softly, looking at him through big gray eyes. She looks so much smaller this way, Dean thought. 

"Bad enough for you to hurt yourself like this?" he asked, knowing all too well the power nightmares had over the unconscious body. He remembered, waking up sweating, his fingers bleeding from scratching the wall by his bed, memories of hell and Alastair keeping him awake at night. 

"It's been a while since it last happened," Veronica said, her voice not much more than a whisper, "I'm not used to being away from home." 

Dean cleaned up the wounds as he spoke, "I get it," he said, "I can't help, but I get it." 

Veronica smiled at him before yawning, "I think I'll try to get some more sleep now," she said. 

"Yeah," Dean smiled back. Maybe this girl wasn't so bad after all. "I should get some sleep too," he said. 

"Goodnight, Dean," she said before walking down the hallway. 

"Goodnight," he said softly, not sure if she heard him. Not too long after, his head hit the pillow of the improvised floor bed, and he was out. 

He dreamed of beaches and carnivals and saving little girls with bright gray eyes. 

Veronica had lots of habits. 

Some were relatively normal. For instance, she bit her lit when she was thinking hard. She flipped her hair back when she got a compliment. She moved a lot when laughing. She also tapped her foot whenever she was bored, and her knee would have a life of its own when she had a lot of energy restrained. 

She also had some that were not so normal, as far as she knew at least. For example, she sang songs softly in other languages whenever reading, something she had developed after the accident. She sometimes tripped with her own words due to how quickly she would talk. She'd especially talk fast whenever she was talking about something she was passionate about out, like Supernatural, or whenever she would finally crack a problem that would bother her for some time. She also bit the skin around her nails when she was nervous until her fingers would burn to the touch or bleed. And she played with her hair to avoid wandering off. 

Wandering off was the worse one of them all. 

Veronica would get lost in her own mind. She knew this would happen to a lot of people, she had seen it. But it wasn't until after the accident when the neurologist examined her closely, they realized how deep into her own mind she would go. 

Most people, they had told her, only wander off for a few minutes. Their concentration breaks off and they continue on as if nothing had happened. 

It wasn't the case with her. 

Veronica didn't just get lost. She disappeared. She'd go in for hours at a time, oblivious to any noises or movement around her. While most people's attention was divided between their surroundings and their own minds, Veronica would completely and effectively disconnect with the world around her.

After graduation, when she no longer had things to ground her concentration, it started to get worse. Veronica was no longer disappearing, she was trapped. She would go in for hours, and not come out until somebody forced her to.  Her family had to grab her by the shoulders and shake her out of it, or sometimes, in the really horrible days, she'd have to be slapped or physically harmed in some way in order to escape. It was harder when she was alone. With no one to get her out, she had to stop herself from ever even falling in. 

Since then, she had started to forcibly focus on more things around her. She struggled with being aware of her surroundings, the way most people could naturally. She repeated the words in her mind as she would hear them, to make sure she could catch them. She even had to pinch herself sometimes, as if to come out of a dream, to keep herself present. 

Lately, however, it was getting harder for her to do this. Pinching stopped being enough. Veronica started pulling her hair until it fell out, or she would make a fist and feel her nails dig into her skin. Part of why she wanted to go to the Supernatural Convention that led her to Sam and Dean was this. She knew that once she told her parents how bad it had gotten, she wouldn't be able to go away. 

You'd think she could just let go from time to time. Nothing wrong in wandering, right? But Veronica's constant fear kept her from letting go as much as she could. And even with everything she was doing, sometimes she wasn't able to keep her mind from sneaking in and swallowing her whole. 

This is why, in Veronica's opinion, Jinn were the scariest monsters in Supernatural. Secretly, she lived terrified she would someday get trapped inside for good, with no one to hear her screams. 

It was the morning of the last day of that convention that her skin finally broke and Veronica drew blood. As the red liquid dripped down her hands, she knew she couldn't keep it a secret much longer. However, when she saw her parents that last night, fear consumed her, and Veronica put it off. Suffice to say, the talk never happened. 

She didn't tell any of this to the Winchesters of course. So when Dean caught her looking for gauze in the kitchen one early morning, she had told him some story about a recurrent nightmare she used to have after the accident, talking as if she had just lived it again. 

It's not really a lie, Veronica thought. She did have a nightmare, and it was one of the reasons she had woken up alone in the unfamiliar room, just her and her threatening thoughts. It just wasn't why she was bleeding, and it wasn't the same nightmare as before. 

Her nightmares back then were about the crash. She would relive it, fast at first, and then slowly. She would remember how hard it was to breathe, feeling the shards of glass pierce her skin. She remembered the cries of her sister, the swear words from his brother, and the looming figure approaching her, a stranger in a black coat, looking down at her and smiling before it all went black. 

Those nightmares had gone on for weeks after the accident. This wasn't like that. 

As she walked back to the guest room Jody had shown her, she thought about the nightmare. She thought about the sizzling sound of her skin as the light touched her. She thought of the overwhelming pain as she burned, the all-consuming agonizing sensation as her whole body was swallowed by the bright white flame. She was burning, not by fire but by something else, something she couldn't just put out with water or stop in any way.

When she had woken up, she had a powerful feeling the light would only disappear once there was nothing else left for it to burn. It wouldn't stop until the last evidence of Veronica ever existing was gone. Before her thoughts could run wild in the darkness that surrounded her, she had dug her nails in, hoping to control it. 

It hadn't worked. The darkness kept growing, fighting her.

She pulled her hair, kicked at the metal bed frame, bit her cheek as hard as she could. Nothing worked. It hadn't been until she had grabbed the sharp letter opener on the desk by the door, after she had made cuts across her palms, that she felt herself regaining control. 

She had been very lucky she could think quickly, or maybe Dean was just tired and couldn't see through her. Regardless, as Veronica laid back on the bed, she found herself feeling guilty about lying to the oldest Winchester. They had done nothing but help her get back home. She missed her brothers, her sisters, her friends, her parents. 

She asked herself if anybody was missing her, before finally falling asleep. There were no more nightmares that night. 

Chapter Text

After the incident of the previous night, Veronica had been more careful than ever about wandering off. 

I just need to get home, she repeated the mantra in her head, I'll get home and have a family talk and we'll work this out, she thought. 

Meanwhile, Veronica made up a little game in her head, to keep herself present. Physical harm needed to be the last option whenever dealing with her issue, and so, for the rest of the time in Supernatural land, Veronica focused in making as many connections between her favourite TV show, and the reality that she was living. 

One thing that helped, Veronica found, was getting her characters to say as many of their famous trademarked lines as possible. Which is the only reason the following conversation happened.

They were leaving Jody's house, ready to go after Kaia Nieves. They all said their goodbyes and got in the car, Veronica doing her best to ignore the different way Jody was looking at her today. She's looking at me, she thought, the way she looked at Alex and Claire at the beginning.  

But that didn't make sense, because Veronica was not a Wayward child. She had a family, a home, people who loved her and missed her, people she needed to get back to. She was not lost, and she was not a victim of the Supernatural the way Alex and Claire had been. The way Patience was, the way Kaia would be. 

I wonder where Patience ended up in this universe, she wondered. She made a mental note of asking later, whenever Claire was not around to hear her. Claire knew Veronica was from another universe, but she had no idea what her connection with the Winchesters was, or how much she actually knew about Claire's life. 

Veronica was brought back to reality by Claire entering the car. "Hey, can we listen to some music?" Claire asked, closing the car door behind her. Veronica scooted closer to Jack, who was on her other side. 

"Sure," Dean said, "Sam, can you hand me the tapes?"

As Sam reached in the glove compartment for the box Veronica knew he'd find, she had an idea. A slightly evil idea, but a fun one nonetheless. And it was a good way to get Dean to say one of the most iconic lines in the show. 

"Can't we listen to something different?" she asked, acting innocent. Dean frowned. 

"Different how?" he asked suspiciously. 

"Well," Veronica said evilly, "Have you heard of Cardi B?" 

"Car what?" Dean asked. Before Veronica had a chance to say anything, Jack spoke. 

"Oh," he said, "She sings that song about liking things."

"Yeah," Claire said, holding back a laugh, "The one that says..."

"I like it like it like that," Veronica and Jack joined in as Claire sang the famous bit. 

"Oh yeah," Sam said, "I've heard that song."

"Yeah, no," Dean interrupted everyone's happy chatter about the rapper. Veronica didn't actually like Cardi B, but it would've been worth it if only to see Dean's reaction as his baby played that music. Sadly, he didn't bite. "We're not playing that," he said. 

"Dean," Sam started.

"No," he answered immediately, then he said the line that had Veronica's heart beating fast. Naturally and effortlessly, the way only Dean Winchester and Jensen Ackles could speak, Dean said "Driver picks the music, everybody else shut their cakehole," before turning the car's volume dial.

Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf blasted through the car as the Impala raced off the highway, leaving Sioux Falls behind. 

Jack was happy Sam thought it was a good idea to take him undercover. According to Castiel, undercover was usually fun work. 

They were now in Mankato, at a rehabilitation facility where, Veronica had told them, Kaia Nieves was. 

"She OD'd on amphetamines," she had explained, "She's in court-mandated rehab. She never knew her father, her mom died when she was twelve. She then lived with her aunt who then died of cancer. She ended up on the streets fending for herself until her arrest." 

After hearing her life story, Sam, Jack and Claire had gone undercover into the rehab facility, Jack and Claire as patients and Sam as a nurse, to look for the dreamwalker.

"I don't like scrubs," Dean had said when Sam had suggested the two go undercover. "And," he added, "Someone needs to babysit the guest here," he waved a hand toward Veronica, who looked at him offended. 

"I don't need babysitting," she said, "If anything I'm the most qualified to go in there considering I actually know who we are looking for." 

"You're not going in there," Dean said, "You are waiting out here with me for Donna to get here."

And so, Jack found himself in one of the facilities wings, looking for a dark skinned, dark haired, teenage girl wearing a military green shirt, jeans and a gray sweater.  

Pretty detailed description, Jack thought when Veronica told them, I wonder how important she is in her world

The room he was in was crowded, though it seemed like some of the people were leaving. An activity must have ended, Jack reasoned. 

"Found her yet?" Claire asked next to him. Jack frowned and shook his head, before setting his sight in a small figure mostly covered by a gray sweater. 

"I think that's her," he said walking towards the person he started to feel was more and more likely to be Kaia. He tapped her shoulder, calling for her attention. Once she turned around, he said "Hello," knowing immediately this was the girl they were looking for. 

"Hey," she said looking at him strangely. 

"I'm Jack," he said smiling. He looked around to introduce Claire but found she was not around. He finally saw her talking to Sam, not too far from where he was. 

"Kaia," she answered, calling his attention back to the purpose of them being there. "What's your poison?" she asked, her hands firmly gripping a styrofoam cup. He frowned, not understanding the question. "Why are you here?" she asked, clarifying. 

Jack stood a little straighter, knowing he was supposed to lie now. "I like..." for a second he couldn't think of anything, so he hesitantly said, "cocaine."

She raised an eyebrow like she didn't believe him. "Okay, Sweet Life," she said, "I don't know why you're really here for but I can't be your 'day one' buddy," she started walking away, before running into someone. 

Jack recognized her immediately. 

"Hi, Kaia," Veronica said, smiling at the girl. 

"Who are you?" Kaia asked suspiciously, moving away from her. Jack turned to look at Sam and Claire, who had only just noticed Veronica and were now rapidly approaching them. "How do you know my name?" she asked.

"I was a friend of Derek's," she said naturally, "He told me about you, said you were like him," she explained, before looking around and whispering softly, "A dreamwalker."

"What?" she asked, her voice a higher pitch than before. A sign that she's nervous, Jack remembered. 

"He said you were the most powerful he's ever known," Veronica kept talking, "And I need your help." 

"Look, I don't know what you think you know about dreamwalking," Kaia started, "But Derek's dead."

"I can help you," Veronica said, before making a gesture towards Jack, and the newly arrived Sam and Claire, "We can help you," she smiled, "We can get you out of here."

"How?" she asked, looking at them. Veronica straightened up and turned around. 

"Follow me," she said. Jack didn't think about it twice, following Veronica towards a nearby hallway. Sam and Claire looked at each other, confused, before following them. Realizing Kaia was still in the same place, Claire turned around and smiled at her. 

"You coming or what?" she said, "Unless you want to say here," she added before continuing to walk, Kaia now following closely behind. 

The hallway had cream-coloured walls, similar to the ones in the room they had been in, with multiple doors, all the same, strange blue colour. It wasn't a very good look, in Jack's opinion, but he had only recently been born, so maybe he wasn't the best to criticize interior design. 

As they walked, someone that Jack recognized as a counsellor, spotted them. 

"What...?" before he could say anything, Veronica spoke Jack's name and acting quickly, the way Cas had taught him, Jake reached out and pushed two fingers to the counsellor's forehead. He thought the word Sleep very strongly as he did, sending the man to the ground for a nap. He looked towards Veronica for approval and was happy when he saw her smiled. 

"Dude!" Claire said, stepping over the body. 

"What did you do?!" Kaia asked worriedly and surprised. 

"Don't worry, he's just sleeping," Jack answered, "You're not the only one with powers, you know?" he added, continuing to walk. They finally arrived at an exit door, which Veronica asked Jack to open. As he did, a metal chunk fell down. He stepped over it and held the door open for everyone else. 

"That door was triple locked!" Kaia said scared. 

"Was it?" Jack asked innocently. He didn't feel the difference. Once everyone was out, he closed the door behind him and found they were already in the parking lot. 

"What are you?" Kaia asked, stepping away from him. 

"That's a long story," Jack said smiling, "This way," he said towards where he knew the Impala was. 

"Yeah, no," Kaia said, "Thanks for breaking me out and all but I don't know who you are, I'm not going anywhere with you."

"We had a deal," Jack said frowning. Before he could say anything else, he felt the soft touch of a hand on his arm. He looked towards Veronica, who seemed to be perfectly calm. Trusting her friend, Jack relaxed, and let her talk. 

"That's okay," she said, "Listen, Kaia," she started, "I can help you get better. I can help you so you don't get hurt anymore."

Kaia looked at her suspiciously but seemingly attracted to the idea of accepting this help. "Why should I trust you?" she asked. 

Veronica smiled reassuringly, "Because I understand how terrifying it is to be trapped in a nightmare you can't escape from."

Something seemed to change in Kaia's expression then, causing her features to soften, and her body to relax slightly. Jack stared at Veronica impressed, just as Sam was, he noted. 

Claire, on the other hand, was staring at something behind them. "Eh, guys," she said, causing Jack to turn around just in time to see a very angry Dean approaching, with a blonde woman following closely behind. 

That must be Donna, Jack thought. 

"Oh, crap," Veronica said softly next to him. He looked at her, tilting his head confused. It was just Dean.

Wait, Jack thought, wasn't Veronica supposed to stay with Dean? 

"Where the hell did you go?" Dean asked angrily when he arrived. Veronica seemed to shrink a little under the angry stare of the oldest Winchester. Jack couldn't blame her. Nobody ever wanted to be on the wrong side of that stare. Even Claire, who by Jack's standards was a total badass, took a step back at the sight of that stare. 

"I went to get Kaia," she said in a small voice. 

"After we explicitly told you to stay with me?" Dean asked, already knowing the answer but making his point. Veronica shrank further, and Kaia, who had just relaxed with them, had started to tense up again. 

"Dean," Sam said, also noticing Kaia's reaction, "We can talk about this later," he started, "Hi, Donna," he said towards the woman with Dean. 

Donna smiled before speaking, "Hiya, Sam," she said, "We're in a bit of a pickle, aren't we?" she said as if she knew something others didn't. Sam looked at Dean, who was looking at Donna, his eyes no longer angry but careful. 

Was there something wrong? Jack asked himself. 

"Let's get to the car and get Veronica home, okay?" Dean said exasperatedly. 

Oh, Jack realized, Veronica's going home now

"How does this work?" Sam asked Veronica. 

"There are sacred sites, places where the walls between worlds are thinner," she explained, "With Kaia dreamwalking, Jack should be able to open a door to my home."

"Open a what now?" Kaia asked, shocked. 

"What kind of place is that?" Dean asked, ignoring Kaia. 

"I was thinking the Wind Caves," Veronica answered. 

"Let's roll," Dean said, starting to walk away. 

"No," Kaia said, her voice strong. 

Sam and Dean exchanged a look before Sam started talking. "Hey, Kaia, look, I'm sure this is a lot. But," Sam sighed, "Look, we need you. Okay? Veronica, she's not from around here. She's from another world, and if you can tell Jack where it is, then he can open a door."

Jack spoke then, softly, trying to imitate what Veronica had done earlier. "Kaia, we need you to dreamwalk for us, to use your gift."

Kaia looked at him, terrified. "It's not a gift. It's a curse," she said, "When Derek walked, he was free. He could go see beautiful things, to worlds that were paradises. I wish it was like that for me, but it's not. I only go to one place. The Bad Place. It's just... blood and death and monsters."

"Well, it sounds like a lifetime of bad dreams, but..." Dean started but was interrupted.

"Bad dreams?" Kaia asked. She walked towards him, quickly pulling up her sleeve. Jack heard some of them gasp. Through her arm, long scars from what looked like animal slashes decorated Kaia's skin. "When I get hurt over there," Kaia continued, "I don't wake up sweaty. I wake up bloody. This scar, it's not the only one," she pulled her sleeve down again, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

Everyone was quiet then, not knowing what to say. Jack looked at Veronica, hoping to see some answers, but Veronica was looking at Claire as if waiting for something. Not too long after, Claire took a step forward and spoke softly. 

"Me too," she said, "Look," Claire knelt down, unzipping the bottom of her pant leg, showing a scar in the shape of a bite, "Ghoul bite," she explained. Then she pulled her shirt down, showing some other scars in her shoulder, "Bar fight with a vampire," she continued, "He threw me through a window."

Kaia stared at Claire, at her scars, and just when Jack thought she would walk away, Veronica stepped forward. 

"I wasn't lying before, Kaia," she softly, "I can help you make it better, I can help you so that the Bad Place can't hurt you anymore."

"How?" she asked weakly. Veronica approached her, resting a hand on her shoulder.

"There are other worlds out there, beautiful places, and I know how to help you focus so you don't get stuck in the Bad Place anymore," she answered, "But only if you help me get home," she stopped for a second before continuing, "I have a family, Kaia. Brothers, sisters, parents. They need me. Right now they have no idea what happened to me," she said, "I can't not get back to them."

For the longest time, no one spoke. Jack couldn't stop thinking about Veronica and her family. He wanted her to stay, he really liked his friend, but Veronica clearly missed home, and he couldn't imagine how hard it must be on her family. He only knew Veronica for a few days and he already knew he would miss her when she was gone. How bad would it be if he had known her for years and she was suddenly gone?

After what seemed like forever, Kaia spoke. "I'll help you get home," she said, "But you have to help me too."

"You can count on me, Kaia," Veronica smiled reassuringly, "I'm not going anywhere without helping you."

Chapter Text

Veronica always wanted an adventure. 

Since she was a little girl, she was restless living the small town routine everybody else did. For her, it was giving up, it was going through the motions, it was living without being alive. 

Every chance she saw, she tried to have an adventure, even if it had been ridiculous to think about. That time when she was eight and her uncle wanted to travel the world? Veronica was ready to hop in with him. When her dad went on business trips out of town, she begged to accompany him, though it never worked. Even visiting her brother in college was not allowed. No matter how hard she tried, Veronica could not leave town unless her whole family did. 

Oh, she tried, many times. She was no stranger to trying to run away from home. She had tried hitchhiking, hot-wiring a car, simply just walking out of town. Nothing ever worked. Nobody picked her up, even after she held her thumb up for hours. The car she took, broke down as soon as the goodbye sign for the town was within eyesight. Walking, she tripped and fell, hurting her leg. 

It was ridiculous. So ridiculous, Veronica reasoned, it had to be an act of God. She was simply not allowed to leave home. After all those failed attempts, Veronica stopped trying, until the SPN convention came along. 

There was no God, no circumstance, that would stop her from meeting her everythings. It wasn't until the bus crossed town lines that she was able to relax. She rejoiced at the moment, finally away, finally in an adventure. 

However, Veronica did not hate her home. She loved her town, her family, more than anything. Including SPN. 

She loved going to the park in the afternoons, after school had ended, and seeing all those mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and uncles and grandparents and simply just family, playing, enjoying the life they all wanted to live. 

She loved going to the school plays, the community events, the solstice festivals, the pig races and hay mazes. She loved going to Mr. Tomson's candy story, Mrs. Lee's movie rental, and Genn's, for the best apple pie in the state. 

She loved her house, with its big white doors, and the never covered windows. She loved the kitchen, with only the most essential technology, so she would know how to cook from scratch without needing the help of machines more than necessary. She loved sitting in the porch with her dad watching the sunset, talking about some kind of world issue, until her mother would call her into the kitchen so they could both make something good, something sweet, and something healthy, as it was the tradition of the Rhodes family. 

Most of all, in that house, she loved her room. 

It had taken her entire life to get her room set up exactly the way it was. Her roof was painted in black, with bright paint splashes of many different colours from when Jer, Angelica, and she had gotten into a paint fight and accidentally painted the ceiling. She never painted over the colours, though she had every opportunity.

She had a perfectly organized closet, with all her clothes colour coded and very nicely folded, all her shoes clean, except for those white sneakers she always wore to play outside. She never bothered with those.

Her bed was always covered by her royal blue covers, her white pillows always at the top, the softer pillows they could find. The walls were cream coloured, almost like pearl, with at least a dozen shelves full of books, a collection that it had taken her years to assemble. Under her bed were three red boxes. Box number one had movies and CDs she had gotten over the years. Box number two had her supernatural merchandise. And box number three had memories. 

Not only photos, though photos occupied a big part of it, but also things. Like that rock that Jeremy threw at the beehive one summer, causing them all to be locked in the house for the rest of the day, trying to avoid the angry bees most of her siblings were allergic to. Or her team shirt her friends and she had made when they went into the intramural games at school, with the last name, number and the team name stitched to it. To this day, Veronica is a proud member of the "Cherry Pies" even if they didn't win every time. 

Veronica's life might not have been adventurous, the way she always wanted, but she was, by no means, unhappy. And now that she was living the adventure she always wanted, with the people she had always wanted to meet, she missed her home more than she ever thought possible. 

Veronica was tired. She was tired of barely being able to shower. She was tired of wearing guys clothes at least three sizes bigger than hers. She was tired of the nightmares that had gotten worse, the light spreading more and more every day.  

Most of all, Veronica was getting tired of trying to open doors. 

You'd think it'd be easier, what with all the people trying to get her home, but it was starting to seem it would be impossible for them to do it. None of them would admit it though. Not Jack or Claire or Kaia or herself. Not Sam, and definitely not Dean. But they all knew they could only keep trying so much.

They made it seem so easy in the show, Veronica thought tired after yet another try. They had gone through almost five different sacred sites, both Jack and Kaia getting right up to the edge without actually opening the door. It seemed they were cursed, always almost there, but never achieving it. They had one more sacred site to get to, and then they would officially be out of options. 

At least, Veronica reasoned, Kaia is getting better. After the first night, with Veronica helping her focus, and Jack showing her the possibilities, Kaia had started to control where she went when she dreamed, lasting less and less at the Bad Place every time. Turns out, all this time, what she needed was help from the right people. 

Shame that while Kaia healed, Veronica got worse. 

It wasn't the wandering. Funny enough, Veronica really was getting better with that as long as she kept herself distracted with the mission. No. It was the nightmares that were truly hurting Veronica. It had been the most exhausting week and a half of her life, and yet she was so terrified of the light in her dreams, she slept less and less every day. 

Not that any of them knew that, of course. But they all felt the changes in her behaviour. She wasn't as nice, or sweet as she had been at first. She wasn't as calm or collected. She was pale, with big dark bags under her eyes from no sleep. They might not have known about the nightmares, but they knew she wasn't sleeping properly. Veronica just assumed they thought it was because she wasn't getting home. 

The biggest problem, the most troubling issue with Veronica's sleepless week, was how volatile she had turned. They could all see it, and she could feel it. It was in the little things that annoyed her, the faces she would make when they would speak. Something was building up, and Veronica felt right about to explode. 

It wasn't a question of if, it was a question of when. 

The answer to that came after they arrived at the last place on their list. They were in The Garden of Gods, Colorado, known for the multiple connections Native American tribes felt with the place, travelling through it. If there was a place in their list that should work, this was it. 

Sam had been worried for days before they got to Colorado. After Veronica had started to change, Dean told him about the nightmare that day in Jody's house. Even without that information though, Sam recognized the symptoms of sleep deprivation, as he had been through it himself. Veronica had to be truly terrified of going to sleep if she was forcing herself to stay awake despite the nausea, the fatigue and how incredibly hard it becomes to concentrate. Sam still had a hard time remembering exactly what went down while his hallucinations of Lucifer kept him awake. 

Because of all this, Sam was not surprised by what happened when they got to the Garden of Gods. 

It was midday when they arrived, and they needed the place empty in order to have Jack and Kaia try. Donna had to go back to work a few days before, though not before scolding him and Dean for keeping secrets. They decided to go on the tour of the place to get an idea of where it would be the best place to open an interdimensional door. 

It was when Dean said this that Veronica finally cracked. 

"Why?" Veronica asked harshly. "It's not like it's going to work."

"You can't think that way," Jack had told her softly, also aware of her late moodiness. 

"Oh shut up," she yelled at him, "Just shut up for once," Jack flinched, and Sam saw Dean grip the wheel of the car tighter. "You always have something nice to say, always some good word," she continued lowering her voice, but her tone was in no way better. It was mockingly, almost purposely hurtful. "Maybe if you spent less time talking and trying to be such a good boy to prove you're not like your daddy, you would've sent me home already," she said, "But then again, you can't, can you? You're useless."

"Veronica!" Dean yelled, very much pissed off. Veronica turned to look at him, and her face made Sam flinch visibly. Through her tired expressions, there was rage. A fury that made Veronica look terrifyingly strong. As she looked at Dean, her eyes shined with that bright silver they had not seen since the first day, and smiled wickedly. 

Veronica seemed ready to surge forward and attack them, even in the small confines of the car, but before she had a chance, Jack frowning, raised his hand and put two fingers to her forehead. She fell back into the seat, deep in sleep. 

They were all quiet for a minute before Jack spoke, his voice awfully small in a way that hurt everyone's heart. They had all seen it, the way they had gotten closer through the days, before the lack of sleep really visibly affected Veronica. "She'll sleep until tonight, at least," he said. He closed his eyes and cleared his throat before continuing, "I suspect she'll be back to her usual self by then."

Sam exchanged a look with his brother before saying anything. "Listen, Jack," Sam started, "You must know she didn't mean any of it, right?"

"I know," Jack said, smiling a little, "Veronica talked to me a few days ago, when she was still her."

"She... did?" Sam asked, confused. Jack nodded before speaking again. 

"She said I had to wait until she was absolutely unbearable before I put her to sleep," he explained, "She said she wanted to try and last as long as she could without sleeping. She wanted to try and get home before she slept again."

"Did she say why?" Claire asked, holding Veronica's head with her shoulder.

"She said she was having nightmares," Jack said, getting out of the car and stretching. Sam and Dean looked at each other before getting out of the car. 

"So, wait," Dean said, talking over the hood of the car, as Jack was on Sam's side of the car. "You knew about it?"

"Yes," Jack said, "I think that was a good time to make her sleep, wasn't it?" he asked Dean. 

Dean chuckled, "Man, I would've put her to sleep days ago," he said, "You did good kid."

"Okay," Kaia said, "Veronica's sleeping, so what do we do?"

"Kaia is right," Claire said, smiling in her direction. They had also gotten closer in the last few days, "We can't exactly walk into a national park with an unconscious girl with us."

"You three stay here with her," Dean said, "We'll scout the place out and we can sneak in after closing."

"Okay," Jack said, sitting back in the car, "Can you bring us nougat?"

"Sure," Sam answered, walking behind his brother who was already on his way to the tourist line. Once they were out of earshot, Dean spoke, his voice serious.

"Did you see her eyes?" he asked a frown on his face. 

"The silver?" Sam said. 

"I don't like it," he noted, "What if the Traveler in her is breaking through?"

Sam thought about it for a minute. "It wouldn't be the worst thing," he finally realized.

Dean looked at him as if he had grown a second head. "She would find out we lied to her and that she has the power to blow us all to pieces," he pointed out, "How is that not the worst thing?"

"I mean," Sam started, "That would be bad, but Dean," he said, "We're running out of options here. Today is the last chance we have to send her home. If this doesn't work, we have to consider that she might be the only one who can get herself home."

"Damn it," Dean said after being quiet as they walked further into the park. The bright red rock formations seemed to swallow them whole, and Sam had to admit there was a beauty in this particular representation of nature. It was a reminder that despite everything they had done, nature was still as merciless and undisturbed as always.

Dean finally continued speaking. "I don't know, Sammy, I know Cas said she was supposed to be salvation and everything but you saw how she reacted back there, she was ready to pounce on me," Dean held the bridge of his nose with his fingers, his frown deepening. "And paradise, salvation, whatever, it always has sacrifices. The apocalypse, closing the gates of hell, they were supposed to end in some kind of paradise," Sam could see Dean's point on that one.

"I have nothing against the girl," he said, "Hell, I even like her. But it is still dangerous for her to practice her powers and we cannot afford to have a target on our backs again, not while we're training the kid."

"If tonight doesn't work, Dean," Sam said, "She will be stuck here until we find another way. Her powers seemed to be getting stronger the more she is here, she will find out unless we get her back soon."

"Then we better get to work," Dean answered, before walking more purposely towards the rocks, and starting to climb as others before he did. "We should try to find someplace high, away from prying eyes," he said, effectively ending the previous conversation. 

Still, Sam was not feeling good about tonight. 

Veronica had no dreams for the first time in more than a week. There were no feelings of freedom, but neither were there nightmares, so Veronica called that a win. 

She woke up slowly, becoming aware of her surroundings little by little. She remembered the terrible things she said to Jack and was horrified. How could she hurt him that way? There was no excuse, no matter how tired she was. 

She remembered turning towards Dean and feeling absolutely empty. There was no fight left in her. Then she figured she had fallen asleep, as she felt the same as she had the previous nights. She felt the light spreading, though it seemed to be struggling against something, not moving as quickly as she had seen in her nightmares before. She felt so much anger, coming from seemingly nowhere. She had no idea why she was angry, she just knew she was, and it was like adding coal to a fire. The light spread further, and she thought that was it, that was the time the light won. But suddenly, everything had gone black. The nightmare had stopped, and there was no more light that night. 

Before she could focus too much on that, she heard a noise nearby and forced her eyes open. She woke up to a bright night, a sky full of stars in ways she had only seen in movies. She could not figure out where one constellation started and where it ended, it was an endless ocean of lights. 

She sat up and looked around for a familiar face. That's when she realized what had woken her up. It was Claire and Kaia and they were very, very close. Veronica smiled. This is right, she thought, This is what would've happened if Dark Kaia had never killed Kaia.

As if suddenly realizing they weren't actually alone anymore, they both separated quickly, and Veronica was forced to hold back a chuckle. She did not want to embarrass them.

"Finally," Claire said, "You're awake. Took you long enough."

Maybe just a little embarrassment. "Oh please, don't worry about me," she said, "Continue with your smooching." She stood up, smiling, and walked away. She realized she did not know where she was going until she saw the figure she had come to know so well. 

"Hey," she said, shyly. She came to stand next to him, not quite brave enough to face him just yet. He was watching the stars, it seemed, and Veronica quietly accompanied him.

"Hello," Jack said, smiling. "How did you sleep?"

 Of course he's worried about you, you monster, her subconscious said. "Better than in a long time," she answered honestly, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," he said. Veronica took a deep breath and turned towards him. He, realizing she needed to see him properly, turned towards her as well. 

"Jack," she said softly, her voice dripping with remorse, "I'm so so sorry for what I said back in the car," she started, "I was so tired and I know it doesn't excuse how I lashed out but I am terribly sorry." 

"I understand," Jack said, "But you were right about something, I have not been trying as hard as I should."

Veronica was stunned into silence. It took her a bit before she could speak again. "Why?" she asked, not angry but curious. She knew that Jack was not bad, she knew there had to be a good reason.

Jack, of all things, blushed. "I," he started before sighing, "I don't want you gone," he said, "I know you have to, I'm just going to miss you." He lowered his head as if expecting her to be mad. Veronica smiled and with her right hand, she lifted his head up so he'd be looking at her. 

"I'm going to miss you too, Jack," she said. 

For an outsider, it might have been weird, how quickly they had become friends. But with them, it was easy. Jack was understanding and new to everything, and Veronica was sweet and shared everything with him. They had talked more to each other in the last week than Veronica had talked to most of her friends in months. Jack didn't just hear her, he actually listened and was attentive. 

It's impressive, really, what the attention of a pretty boy does to a girl's barriers. 

But more than that, Veronica and Jack had a connection that grew stronger by them just being nearby. There were moments, just as they were doing just then, that they were quiet. They were comfortable just sitting near the other. Knowing the other was present made breathing easier, almost as if the air itself was suddenly cleaner and lighter when the other was there. 

Veronica had tried her best not to get in too deep with the Nephilim, as she knew she'd eventually have to go home. Neither of them wanted a broken heart when they inevitably had to separate. There was also the fact that Jack was new to everything, and Veronica was not. She was never easy but she got around enough. Jack was pure and nice and sweet and Veronica thought it would be a much too cruel thing to do if she was to corrupt him or rob him of his innocence. 

Still, it was very hard to not hold his hand when they stood so close to each other, or just moving one step forward and have their lips enjoy the softest of touch. But she would not, she was not a heartbreaker, and that was the only thing that would come out of her making a move. 

Their moment was interrupted by the Winchesters approaching. They both walked carefully towards them, Dean limping a little in his left leg. 

"What happened?" she asked worriedly. Sam tried to hide a smile and failed. 

"He tried to make himself into spiderman and hurt his leg," he mocked him. Dean punched him in the shoulder. 

"I found a place, didn't I?" he answered. 

"How are you feeling?" Sam asked her. She smiled and looked at Jack.

"We're good," she said, "I think Jack putting me to sleep was the answer all along."

"Well, let's get going then," Dean said, "We have a door to open."

They walked mostly in silence, except for the odd comment on the distance they had to walk. Sam and Dean led the way, with Kaia and Claire following closely behind. Jack and Veronica walked more slowly, wanting to be together just a little while longer. It was an internal fight in Veronica's heart. She wanted to stay, she wanted to be with Jack and get to know more of her favourite characters more, but she also wanted to be home. She wanted to put little Penny to sleep, she wanted to cook that blueberry pie her mom and she had been planning for the weekend, and she wanted to beat her brothers Jeremy and Jess at Mario Kart, yet again. 

How do you choose between two great things?

"We have to climb," Sam said, "The place we found is between some rocks ahead but we won't get there without going up first."

"Jack, can you teleport?" Dean asked. 

"Sure," he answered, "Want me to take you? You shouldn't climb the way you are"

"Kid," Dean said, "I am buying so much nougat when we get back." Jack smiled and holding Dean's shoulder, he disappeared. Sam shook his head and started climbing. Veronica followed closely behind. She climbed a lot of trees as a kid, and while rocks were different, she had no problem getting to the top. Not too long after, Kaia and Claire had also gotten to the top, so they all walked to the place where Dean had initially fallen and carefully started to climb down. 

All but Veronica. She looked down and tilted her head, looking at things from another angle. Then, with no warning, she gathered her strength and jumped. 

Perfect landing, she thought smiling. She felt a small tug in her knee but after evaluating herself, she chalked it up to leftover from the accident. It happened from time to time, especially when she exerted herself physically. 

She finally looked up to find everyone staring at her. She shrugged and shook her hands in her pants, cleaning them up from dust. 

"Okay," Sam said, "We should be good now."

Veronica looked at Jack, who was already looking at her, and smiled sadly before nodding. Jack took a deep breath and extended his hand towards Kaia. She walked to him and held his hands. They finally closed their eyes and the cold breeze around them seemed to suddenly stop. 

She took a deep breath. It was time for her to go home. 

Chapter Text

Claire felt good for the first time in a long time. 

Don't misunderstand, she loved Jody. But hunting was always a complicated issue with her. And Claire loved hunting. 

Ever since her mom died, after Castiel disappeared taking her father with her, Claire needed to hunt. It was more than revenge or even justice. Her breathing was easier when she decapitated vampires. She saw clearer after she salted and burned a body. Her whole body outright relaxed after burying a silver knife deep into a shapeshifter's body. It was biologically satisfying to go out on a hunt. 

She could go a couple of weeks without it, but it wasn't long before Claire simply needed to hunt. 

It wasn't like that when she got back to Sioux Falls, not this time. 

She hadn't killed anything, yet she felt sincerely calm. It had been that way even during the hunt, and Claire could not ignore the reason why. 

She smiled to her side, where Kaia Nieves stood nervously. On impulse, she reached out and squeezed her hand reassuringly. Claire stepped forward and open the door before yelling out "I'm home" to Jody. 

"Hey," she heard Alex's voice answer, "How did it go?" she said as they came into the living room. She looked up from the book she was reading and stared at Kaia. "Hello," Alex said, smiling. 

"This is Kaia," Claire said. She waited until Alex looked down at their joined hands. "Is Jody around?"

"In her room," Alex answered, her smile wider than before. "Nice to meet you, Kaia," she said, "Welcome to the Mills Wayward House for girls who dealt with the supernatural and survived."

"I thought we agreed on Wayward Sisters," Claire noted

Alex shrugged, "I still liked Mills Wayward House better." Claire rolled her eyes before pulling Kaia with her to the hallway, towards Jody's room. 

"You think they'll be okay?" Kaia asked. Claire didn't have to ask to understand she was talking about the Impala that was on its way out of town. 

"I don't know, K," she answered, "But if anybody can get through this, it's the Winchesters," she said before opening Jody's room. 

"Hey, you're back," Jody said, lifting her eyes from the mess of clothes she was organizing. Her eyes turned to Kaia, raising an eyebrow. 

"Jody," Claire started, "This is Kaia Nieves," she said. She took a deep breath before continuing, "My girlfriend."

Dean felt bad for the kid. 

He knew what it was like to lose someone, more than most people. It is never easy. It's almost worse when you know the person is alive and well, just not with you anymore. 

Lisa and Ben came to mind, but Dean shoved them both to the back of his mind before it would affect him too badly. He had gotten a lot better at that over the years. He focused instead on the road ahead of them, an hour or so before they were back at the bunker. Nobody had said a word ever since they had dropped Kaia and Claire off at Jody's, safe and sound, and the silence in the car was making Dean nervous. That, and Sam's many worried looks towards to the back seat. Dean thought back to what happened at the Garden of the Gods. 

He was surprised and relieved when, after at least half an hour of them trying, Jack and Kaia had finally managed to open the door. A bright orange line floated in between them, a rip in their universe, allowing them to travel to the next one. At last, Dean thought, Veronica is going home. No matter how nice, or funny, or generally good the girl was, she needed to leave, and it was finally time. 

She smiled at them, before walking towards the light. She took a deep breath before reaching out and touching the rift.

The rift shined brighter for half a second before something coming from it threw them all back. A pulse, Sam had called it. Dean had quickly gotten up, checking to make sure everyone was okay. Before he could say anything, Sam yelled at a disoriented Jack to look out before grabbing him by the arm and pulling him towards him. Seconds later, just where Jack had been standing, rocks that could've easily squashed him fell down with a loud thud. 

They all stared at the place the rift had suddenly closed. "What the hell happened?" Dean had asked. 

"I don't understand," Jack had answered, frowning. "The door opened, I'm sure," he continued, "But when Veronica touched it..." he paused, getting his thoughts in order, "It was like something pushed back."

"Pushed back?" Sam had asked, helping Claire steady Kaia. It seemed Kaia and Jack had been the most affected.

"Something doesn't want her to go home," Claire had said. Dean turned to look at the girl. She had been quiet since she had been blown away by the pulse. 

"Are you okay?" Dean had asked her, surprised at himself when he realized he was genuinely worried for her. 

She made a chocked noise before talking, "I can't go home."

She lost everything, Dean thought, everyone who loved her. Dean could relate. He remembered what it was like, getting thrown into an entirely different life, leaving everything you knew behind, no choice in the matter. Even after everything, Dean would give anything not to feel that way again.

Through the rearview mirror, Dean witnessed a tear quietly falling down as Veronica stared at the window, her eyes emotionless.

He spent the rest of the drive thinking of something, anything to get her back home. 

Sam had no ideas.

Ever since they had gotten to the bunker, he had been researching any reasons as to why it didn't work, why Veronica could not cross. But neither the internet nor the extensive Men of Letters library had anything on the subject. He could not find anything that was strong enough to close down multidimensional travel. 

Except for Veronica. 

Not that there was much on the Traveler either. It was all mostly biblical metaphors and misguided representations. Sam knew they had to get the tablet on the Traveler, but he decided to wait until the next morning to call Cas and try and figure out how to get Metatron to give up the location of the tablet. 

Sam closed his laptop in frustration and thought back to after the door rejected them, when Veronica had fallen down by the car and emptied out her stomach. Sam had knelt down to try and help her as a reflex, a knee-jerk reaction. He was surprised when she had turned and fallen apart in his arms. Through the last week, Veronica had been undeniably strong. Even when she was sleep deprived, she had been intimidatingly tough. 

But at that moment, when there was no longer a chance of her getting back (as far as she knew), it was as if all the strings holding her together had suddenly snapped, and Veronica turned into the picture of desperation.

She needs to know, was all Sam could think about. She needs to know that there's another chance, that she can get herself home

He sighed, knowing Dean would never tell her. Sam drank the rest of his coffee and opened his laptop again.  

Veronica was hopeless. 

Veronica was in trance, walking towards the car. Her chest hurt, either from the blow or from her heart breaking, she wasn't sure. Regardless, it took the others getting in the car, waiting for the Veronica to hop in the Impala, for reality to come crashing down.  

It was as if a brick wall came down on Veronica. 

She wasn't going home. She couldn't go home. She would never be able to teach Penny how to make her favourite chocolate chip cookies, a secret recipe only Veronica knew. She'd never see Jess learning how to drive, or have his first girlfriend. She'd never see Angelica graduate high school, or Jer finding a girl who could put up with him and settle down. 

Mom, Veronica cried out silently, Dad.

There would be no more long drives around town, with no particular destination in mind. They wouldn't be together in the car, singing all the Queen songs, driving aimlessly, just for the sake of spending time together. No more clearing her mind with the empty fields and the soft bass of her father's voice as they travelled through the place they called home.

What would they think happened to her? Would they think she ran away? Left them without looking back? Would they think something bad had happened to her? Would they simply forget about her? 

Please, God, Veronica prayed, Why can't I go home? 

"Just let me go home," Veronica cried out towards the sky. She couldn't breathe. It was different than when she first arrived at the Supernatural world. It was as if her lungs were shut down, voluntarily not working anymore. She couldn't stop shaking, cold to her bones with fear. She fell on her knees and felt her entire body move forward. She knew what was about to happen before it did, but she felt so empty inside she did nothing to stop it. 

She hurled three times before puking everything she had eaten in the last 24 hours into the sidewalk. 

She blinked away the tears but others just replaced them immediately. She felt a hand on her back, reassuringly moving up and down. She turned and hugged closely however it was that was holding her. Normally, she wouldn't be comfortable this close to someone in the state she was in. But she had no strength left. It hadn't been until she had seen Baby that she had realized she never expected to not go back home. It had been so sudden, the thought that turned into the realization that turned into reality, all in the space of a minute. 

Veronica was conscious enough to realize it was Sam holding her, and in the safety of his arms, Veronica succumbed to the agony. 

The next few hours were a blur. She knew enough to know that they had all gotten in the car. She knew they had dropped the girls off as Jack carefully and slowly held her hand. She squeezed once. There was a certain comfort in knowing she would not lose her footing completely, not while Jack anchored her. 

She was aware of when the car finally stopped in Lebanon, Kansas, but she did not open her eyes. By then, they had assumed she had fallen asleep. She did not correct them. They put her in a guest room and let her sleep, but it was hours before the emotional exhaustion of the day finally allowed her to pass out. 

The light fought her all night. 

Chapter Text

"Any ideas?" Dean asked as he walked to his brother with a fresh cup of coffee. Sam had pulled an all-nighter trying to find answers that could get Veronica home. Dean had tried staying awake with him, but he hadn't had his four hours of sleep in days and his brother was better at research anyways.

Sam shook his head before speaking, "Every single recorded travel between worlds said the same thing. The Garden of the Gods should've worked."

"Yes, well, it didn't," Dean answered. He passed his hand through his face, frustrated. Sam looked at him, about to speak again, but Dean cut him off before he could say it again. "We are not telling her," he said.

Sam gave him his trademarked bitch face. "What exactly do you expect will happen here, Dean?" Sam asked, "We have no way to get her home, and the longer she's here the more her powers will manifest," he reasoned, "She will find out and she will be pissed when she realizes we knew."

Dean hated when his brother made sense. 

Despite what Sam thought, Dean wasn't holding on just for the sake of holding on. Dean had a genuine reason to want the Traveler to stay a secret. But how could Dean explain to Sam that he didn't want Veronica to be stuck in this world? 

Veronica had a life. A family, friends, a future. Her life was good just the way it was. Lately, Dean had been trying to save as many people as he could, and one way was to keep them in the dark for as long as he could. Push them away from them, even if they'd be useful, even if they belonged there. Because Dean belonged in the hunting life, but he wished it wasn't that way. 

It had only been after Jack that Dean had realized it. Dean didn't have a choice, just like Jack didn't. They grew up on the life. Sam had a choice, once upon a time, and he chose right. But Dean had gone and dragged him back until it was too late, until Sam was in it too. So many people were just dragged into the life, with no choice. How many people did he know that were forced to tangle with their world and gotten hurt because of it? Kevin, Henricksen, Adam, the Campbells. One way or another, this world hurt them, and they had no choice but to take it. 

But others had a choice. Alex had a choice and she chose right. She worked at the hospital and lived a good life, though she still helped Jody when she needed it. And it had almost gotten her killed not too long ago.

Claire had a choice and she chose wrong. She was almost bitten by a werewolf less than a year before, and that would've been another life the hunting life claimed.

Patience had a choice and she chose wrong. She almost lost her father over her powers, over the supernatural.

How many times had people chosen wrong, and almost died or did died, because of it? Bobby, Jody, Charlie, Ellen, Jo, Ash, Eileen, Kaia. 

Veronica doesn't need the chance to chose wrong. She deserves to live, Dean reasoned, and hunters, this life, it only ends bloody

"She's not in it, Sam," Dean finally said, doing his best to explain the battle going on inside his head. "She can live without being scared of the things in the dark," he added.

Sam's expression seemed to soften at that. "She deserves the choice, Dean," Sam said, "You know that, right?"

But what if she chooses wrong? Dean kept thinking.

Jack did not know if he should open the door.

He knew she was awake. He could feel it. But Castiel had recently explained him about boundaries and Jack was unsure whether opening the door would be surpassing them or not. 

Maybe just knocking would suffice, Jack thought. He lifted his hand to knock but before his knuckles could touch the door, it swung open.

"Hey," Veronica said softly. 

"Hey," Jack answered, suddenly unexplainably nervous. 

"I was on my way out," Veronica said, "Did you need something?" Jack shook his head and frowned. Where was she going? 

She nodded and started walking away. Jack followed her silently, trying to reorder his thoughts. 

"Where are you going?" Jack asked as they entered the living room. Veronica continued walking up the stairs. Sam and Dean were sitting by a table full of books and Sam's laptop. Jack recognized the setting and figured they were doing research. They looked at Jack, but he just shrugged. He had no idea what was going on either. Finally, once she was at the balcony, Veronica paused. She took a deep breath before speaking. 

"I just want to walk a little," she said softly, "I won't be long," she added opening the door and disappearing through it. Jack moved to follow her but was stopped. 

"Let her be," Sam said, his hand in the Nephilim's arm, holding Jack back. "She needs to be alone right now," he explained.

"Right," Jack answered, stopping himself. "I'm sure she'll be fine," he added. What if she isn't? Jack asked himself. He was worried, he realized. Worried about the safety of the human from another world. It didn't surprise him as much as it probably should've. He had, after all, never felt worried before. 

Then again, who would he feel worried about? Sam? Dean? Jack knew they could take care of themselves. Cas? He was an angel. Jack had no reason to worry. And Jack knew Veronica wasn't fragile. He still remembered Sam and Dean's faces when she had effortlessly jumped off the rocks at the Garden. 

Why was he so worried, then? He asked himself. He walked back to his room, his mind wandering over to Veronica more than once. He closed his door, looked around his room, and thought about it for a minute. It took him less than that to make a decision. 

Acting like a true Winchester, Jack sneaked out and discreetly followed.

Just to be safe, Jack thought.

Veronica stared at the large building, much similar to the one back home. The doors were open, though there was barely any light coming through. She knew there'd be someone because there always was, but that was not the reason she had stopped.

She took a deep breath before walking through the door.

She looked around the familiar layout, the large arches holding the structure in place, the fading light from the candles leading the way, the many long wooden benches, with the little books tucked in between. And there, in the middle of everything, the cross with God's son staring down at her.

She sat down in the first row, close to the middle of the aisle. She allowed her eyes to fall shut and drifted into her thoughts. It was maybe a few minutes later that she felt the presence. She opened her eyes to find Jack looking at her, his eyes curious.

He always seems curious, Veronica thought. Probably a side effect of being a toddler in the body of a young adult.

"Sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to disturb you."

"It's okay," Veronica said, "I just came to say goodbye."

Jack tilted his head adorably, "Why here?"

Veronica smiled with melancholy. "My family and I," she started, "We went to church every Sunday."

"Really?" Jack asked, surprised. She almost chuckled. Most people reacted that way when they found out. She knew she didn't come off as a churchgoer, especially with all her rambling on how great Lucifer is when he's possessing a rock star.

"I'm not really religious," Veronica explained, "I don't really care whether there's a God or not. But even if he does exist, he will not tell me what is right and wrong," she paused, looking over Jack's shoulder to Jesus in the cross. "I can decide that by myself."

"So why go then?" Jack asked.

"Well," she said, "My family thought different. Whatever my beliefs, the church is not only about God, not in my town. Sunday mass was about community, spending an hour together before going on with our days."

Veronica could almost taste Mrs. Gallagher chocolate chip cookies, the ones she brought to church every Sunday. She could almost hear the children's laughter, her siblings included, as they ran around the worn down park in the back of the building. She could almost feel the sense of togetherness, of unity and normality that any other time made her restless. But not there, not on Sundays.

"If there was a place for me to say goodbye to my home, this was it," Veronica added.

"I'm sorry," Jack said. Veronica shooked her head.

"It isn't your fault," she said, "You did what you could."

They were quiet for a bit, and Veronica used that time to say goodbye to all she did and all she could've done. She wouldn't stop looking for a way to get home, but she knew herself enough that she couldn't run on fumes, snapping at everybody until then. She had to live her life, even as she was trying to get back to it.

I will come back, she promised her family, I will not forget you.

She was about to stand up when Jack broke the silence. "Did you sing?" He asked. Veronica looked at him confused. "I heard that people sing in church," he clarified, "Did you sing?"

She smiled, "I did," she replied, "My voice isn't anything special so I was never really inclined to the choir, but I sang my little sister to sleep every night when she was sick. And my little brother, whenever he went on a crying fit."

"I don't know much about music," Jack said, "I only know what Dean plays in the car and what Sam and Cas put in the phone they gave me."

"I wonder if any of my artists are not in this world," Veronica said.

"Can you sing something?" Jack asked. As if realizing his words, he spoke again. "I was told distracting you might help, but if you don't feel good enough..."

Veronica interrupted before Jack could ramble on. "I get it," she said, "I don't mind. I like singing." She thought for a minute before settling for something soft and easy.

She took a deep breath and started.

Of all the money that e'er I spent, I've spent it in good company.

And all the harm that ever I did, alas it was to none but me.

And all I've done for want of wit, to memory now I can't recall.

So fill to me the parting glass. Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades that e'er I had, they're sorry for my going away.

And all the sweethearts that e'er I had, they'd wish me one more day to stay.

But since it falls unto my lot, that I should rise and you should not

I'll gently rise and softly call, good night and joy be with you all.

Jack was rendered speechless by the softness in Veronica's voice. It was in no way extraordinary, not in the way he had come to think of her, and yet even with all the broken tunes and failed marks, it was soothing. The only other time he remembered feeling so peaceful was in the warm and safety of his mother's body.

Jack, very slowly and very carefully, lifted his hand up to Veronica's face and wiped a tear as it made its way down her cheek. He didn't mean to upset her with his request. He had heard a lot of music, though most of it blurred together in his mind, and the same thing would happen with human voices, and yet Jack was very much aware of Veronica's. He had only been curious to see if there was the same difference when music was involved.

He wasn't wrong, but seeing Veronica sad, it made him regret his request.

"I'm sorry," he said. When Veronica didn't answer, he continued, "Do you want to go back to the bunker?" Veronica only nodded before standing up. Jack imitated her and started to walk, making sure Veronica was following. She was, though her head was down the entire way back.

Jack found himself wishing he could do something, anything to make it better.

Chapter Text

Veronica woke up early the next morning, well rested.

After coming back from the church, Veronica had asked Jack to put her to sleep, and so she had a dreamless night. She woke up, unable to return to bed, with too much energy in her body. And so she got up to do what she would usually do back home.

But first, she needed a shower.

Once she was cleaned, she got dressed in one of the boys old shirts but opted to use the only pants she had that fitted, the ones she had on when she travelled. She walked excitedly to the kitchen and opened the fridge, ready to cook a great breakfast for the boys. She frowned at the almost empty shelves. Besides beer and an old pie, there wasn't much. She hastily wrote a note and left it in the fridge for the boys to find. Out for groceries, it said. Be back soon. She quietly sneaked into Dean's room, grabbed his wallet, and just as quietly left the bunker. 

The Winchester might enjoy longer nights, but outside, the city of Lebanon was already awake and going about its day. It took quite a bit of walking for Veronica to get to town since the bunker was not exactly near the city, but due to the fact that she would not risk the wrath of the Dean if she dared get the Impala keys, she enjoyed the cold spring breeze and was thankful she had a good pair of sneakers to get her through. 

As she walked, she thought of all the things she could make the boys. For starters, she needed to make sure it fitted the Rhodes family tradition. No matter where she was, she was still a Rhodes, and therefore, she had to make something good, something sweet, and something healthy.

The sweet was the easiest. She entered the store and grabbed a box of nougat bars, a few eggs, some flour, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and baking powder. She remembered seeing a bar of butter in the fridge and she assumed salt would be easy enough to find in the Winchester home. Lucky for her, Jeremy loved nougat, so Veronica had lots of practice making vanilla cake with nougat. 

Jack will love this, Veronica thought. 

The good took a bit of thinking, but after going through all the Supernatural menu in her head, Veronica settled for stuffing the fridge with the basics and figure it out later. She already had eggs, so she moved on to get some bread, cheese and ham. She remembered Dean's love for bacon and proceeded to buy a couple of packages. It was then, where all the meaty not really healthy bits were, that she saw it. 

GROUND PORK

If she had been in a cartoon, a lightbulb would've lit up on her head. Suddenly, she knew exactly what to make the Winchesters. She picked up 3lb of pork and 3lb of ground beef in the meat aisle, then returned to where she had first grabbed the cheese and picked 3lb of American cheese. She continued with the rest of the groceries, deciding in the classic Caesar salad for the healthy part, praying the something good would be enough to get Dean to eat the something healthy. She walked her full cart to the cash register, not before picking up a hot sauce and an apple pie for Dean, as well as some Fritos for the last of the recipe, and paid with one of Dean's credit cards. 

"My dad is waiting in the car," she said to the cashier when she read over the name in the credit card, "It's his birthday and I'm trying to make him a surprise."

Whether it was Veronica's acting skills or the fact that it was too early in the morning for anybody to care, she successfully bought everything she needed and carried everything back. 

Despite all the exercise, Veronica was not at all deterred by the time she was back at the bunker. She went through the door, straight to the kitchen, and organized everything in the fridge and cabinets. By the time any of the boys were up, the something healthy was done, the something sweet was in the fridge, and the something good was almost cooked. 

 Unsurprisingly, it was Jack who was up first. 

"Morning," he said as he walked in. "How did you sleep?"

"Much better, thanks," she said as she set plates in the table. "Do you think they'll be long? I don't want to serve the food is it's gonna get cold."

"Sam won't be long, I heard the shower running," Jack answered, "Dean is like an angry bear. No use trying to wake him up."

"Well, I have freshly brewed coffee for him," she said, "I hope he doesn't take long."

"What's all this?" Sam asked, coming in. "You made food?"

"Well," Veronica started, "I told you I cooked a lot back home. Old habits die hard, I guess."

Sam looked around the perfectly set table. "How long have you been up?" he asked surprised. 

"A few hours," she answered shyly, "It's weird, I was never an early riser before, but here, I just have so much energy. I don't know what to do with it but cook."

Sam seemed to tense at that. "Energy?"

"Yea, like an itch that I can't quite scratch," Veronica explained, "You know, like I'm supposed to be doing something but I don't know what."

Sam frowned. It was a few minutes before he opened his mouth to speak, but was quickly interrupted by the arrival of a very sleepy and cranky Dean.

"Why is everyone awake so damn early?" he gruffed falling in a chair, not noticing the table. 

Jack reminded Dean he doesn't sleep much as Sam said, "The smell woke me up." 

"Sorry," Veronica told him. Realizing there was food, Dean took a deep breath, inhaling all the fantastic smells that now filled the kitchen. 

"I know that smell," he said, "Why do I know that smell?"

Veronica smiled. "Go on," she said to Sam and Jack, "Sit. I'll serve the food."

"Where's Cas?" Jack asked, taking a seat. 

"He's with Balthazar," Dean said, taking a big gulp of coffee. Veronica took a big serving spoon and carefully placed the heart attack in a plate in front of Dean. She served Sam and Jack as well, before serving them the salad. 

"I don't eat rabbit food," Dean complained. He jumped after a second and by the looks of it, Sam had kicked him under the table. 

Veronica chuckled. "Trust me, Dean, I thought about that. But you're gonna need that to balance out the main dish."

He looked at his food more closely. Veronica was certain of the moment he realized what it was when his whole face seemed to wake up and change to complete surprise. "Oh, no freaking way!" he said with the excitement of a little kid, "The Winchester Surprise?" 

"What?" Sam stared at his food, "How did you...?" 

Veronica explained before he could ask, "It's public knowledge back home. Figured you boys might like it."

"What's the Winchester Suprise?" Jack asked. 

"My mom used to make it," Dean answered, "It's a delicious family thing, though it gets even better with..."

"Hot sauce?" Veronica said, handing him the bottle she had bought. He looked up at her since she was the only one still standing, and Veronica was surprised by the sudden gratitude in Dean's eyes. 

However, it was Sam who spoke, "Thank you, Veronica," he said, "This is impressive."

"It was nothing," she dismissed it, "Enjoy it," as an afterthought, she added, "Don't fill yourselves too much, or you won't have space for dessert."

"Dessert?" Jack asked.

"I could get used to this," Dean said, digging in. The four made easy conversation through their meal, Veronica's cooking receiving praises every so often.

I could get used to this too, Veronica thought. The thought quickly vanished, as memories of days just like that one with her family came forward. She lost her place in the conversation and was only pulled up when Jack shook her shoulder. 

"What?" she asked, "Sorry, I got lost in thought."

"We were just saying we found a hunt nearby," Sam said, "So get this. Atwood, Kansas. A couple was found dead in a hotel room, bodies ripped to pieces. This is the third one they've had this month."

"Pureblood werewolf?" Veronica asked. Sam raised his eyebrows, "I know my lore," she said. 

"We don't know but that's what we need you and Jack to find out," Sam explained.

"Sam and I will go check it out," Dean said, "We want you two to do research."

"Sure," Veronica agreed. "I don't mind doing research. Jack and I can hold down the fort."

"Oh no," Dean said, "You are not going to be here unsupervised. Cas will take at least one more day with Balthazar and then he'll come home and keep an eye on you two."

"We don't need a babysitter," Veronica pointed out. 

"In the meantime," Dean continued on as if she hadn't spoken, "Charlie is coming over."

CHARLIE!!!!!!!!!! Veronica's mind screamed. She tried to keep herself cool, but there was no hiding the smile on her face. 

"Okay," she said, getting up to get the cake and the pie. "When is she getting here?" 

Just then, the sound of the door of the bunker being opened filled the room, followed by what was clearly Charlie's voice yelling, "I'm here, bitches!"

Veronica blinked several times, looking at the roof, to avoid the tears falling. As they made their way to the living room, the pie in Dean's hands, the cake left in the kitchen table, she could only think one thing. 

Charlie's alive

And she could swear her heart almost exploded with gratitude for whatever reason Chuck had to keep her that way in this universe. 

If there was anyone who did not deserve to die, she thought as she witnessed the red-haired girl for the first time in real life, it was Charlie

Chapter Text

Veronica loved the show. But more than that, she loved the cast, the crew, and the fans.

In the Supernatural fandom, she found a family she had never imagined could exist. Veronica loved her family, but secretly, she never quite felt like she belonged. She attributed the feeling to the fact that she was adopted, as she found out when she was ten. 

In the SPN family, however...

Veronica never felt alone. She didn't feel like an outsider. They all thought the same, felt the same. Every Thursday night, as the credits rolled, she would immerse herself in intense conversations from people all over the world through Instagram groups and Tumblr posts, careful always to not spoil the episode for people whose time zones hadn't allowed them to watch it yet. 

In a way, they behaved like a beehive. With Jared, Jensen and Misha fulfilling the role of Queen Bee, the fandom marched to the ends of the earth and further, the SPN army ready to attack whatever charitable cause, political issue, or harsh goodbye the actors asked their help with. 

The fandom felt together, moved together. There was synchrony to their actions and their power was undefeatable. 

Like when the premiere of Season 5 came, and Twitter was suddenly flooded by people talking about the show, the hashtag #LuciferIsComing trending, scaring Christians and therefore getting momentarily banished from the social network. 

And who could forget the legendary 2013 Mishapocalypse, in which the whole world was helpless as the fandom became Misha and took over the internet by endlessly reblogging Misha's iconic photo and manipulating thousands of gifs, sound files, posters, photos and screencaps to contain a reference to the mighty Overlord Collins. All Tumblr users not affiliated to Misha's minions or Supernatural fandom were extremely alarmed but unable to escape. It was a beautiful, glorious day. 

Don't even get Veronica started on the power of Destiel. No other ship compared, and no one could deny it. The fact that it had been 14 seasons and it was more powerful than ever, despite the writers never making it properly canon (at least so far, Veronica still had hope), the presence the couple had in the web just showed how dedicated the family was to the characters. 

Who in their right mind would not want to be part of something like this?

Veronica loved it, not only for the power but for the unity and sense of accomplishment and belonging she got by simply loving something she could not help loving even if she wanted to. It was as if Supernatural, and the family, was made exclusively for her. In SPN, she was accepted. Veronica was born to love Supernatural, and everything that came with it. 

And yet, for all that love, there was one time she almost broke off with it all.

People die. That was a fact of life. People die bloody frequently. That was Supernatural. She had come to terms with that all the way back in season one. However, in Veronica's opinion, anyone who was involved in Charlie's death deserved a fate worse than bloody. They needed to spend a year in the Cage, and maybe even then, it wouldn't be enough to satisfy her need for blood. 

Charlie was not only Veronica's favourite character, other than the boys. She was the first death that truly hurt her. Winchesters never really die, including Cas, so their deaths were not quite as painful the further into the show they were. Bobby's was a hard one, as was Kevin's, but they had been survivable. Charlie's, however...

Charlie's

She was the best friend Veronica always wanted and could never find, someone who understood her nerdiness and was badass, funny, and smart. She was her first girl crush, making Veronica realize and come to terms with her sexuality. 

She crazily and intensely loved Charlie, fictitious or not. And yes, that made Veronica slightly insane, but she owned it. 

The day Charlie died was the day Veronica's father, who had always been wary of the show and his daughter obsession with it, finally understood how deep her love for Supernatural really was. It was the day that, against her own promise, her own vow to never pick up a gun after her uncle was shot and killed, Veronica grabbed her father's hunting rifle, and shot the leaves of trees for four hours straight. She had only stopped when the woods by her house were engulfed by the darkness of the night, and the police had come to follow up on a noise complaint.

While shooting, Veronica imagined the leaves were Andrew Dabb's and Jeremy Carver's heads, wishing to inflict a small fraction of the pain she felt then. Her death had been so unnecessary, so pointless, Veronica kept thinking. Her girl had to die, and for what? So that Dean's storyline could move further? So that we could see how dark Dean really was with the Mark of Cain? There were so many other ways they could've done that, more effectively even. But killing Charlie...

It had been almost unforgivable.

It was only Dean's vengeance, the perfectly justified murder spree, that had saved her relationship with the show. That week where Veronica did not know what would happen, what Dean would do, was one of the longest of her life. For a week straight, the image of Charlie dead, bloody, in the bathtub haunted her, fueling up her anger. Veronica knew that if the writers screwed it up, that if they made the characters just move on as if her death was a meaningless as Veronica thought, then there'd be very little the world could do to stop her from burning down a house with all the writers in it.

I guess she was always a little intense.

But Dean's reaction had been perfectly done. It was how everyone reacted, what everyone wanted to do. It was blood, it was merciless, calm and collected murder, and Jensen had shown the exact emotions that the fans had gone through, his eyes reflecting the same desire for justice Veronica's eyes had.

The death was not in any way justified, but alas, Veronica's bloodthirst was satisfied. 

She stayed in the fandom, exactly where she belonged. And yet, to this day, Veronica should not under any circumstances be left alone in a room with the writers, as there was no guarantee they'd come out in one piece. 

So to see Charlie there, alive, breathing, and happy... Veronica could not contain herself. Charlie came down the stairs and as soon as she touched the ground, she surged forward and wrapped the redhead in her arms. You're alive, she kept thinking rejoiced, alive alive alive

Realizing Charlie did not know her, she quickly separated. "Sorry," she apologized, discreetly wiping a runaway tear, "It's just so nice to finally meet you."

"You must be the new girl," Charlie said, "Dean told me about you. He said you're from another world?"

Veronica nodded. She noticed Charlie's eyes shined with curiosity before speaking, "He said you're babysitting us?"

Charlie shrugged. "Don't worry, I'm not strict. We can stay up late watching Lord of the Rings."

"The extended versions?" Veronica asked excitedly. Charlie frowned. 

"What extended versions?" she asked. Veronica opened her mouth in shock. No way, she thought, no way this is different

"You're telling me you don't have the extended versions in this world?" she asked, not bothering to sugar coat or measure her words. 

"There are extended versions where you come from?" Charlie asked excitedly. Veronica nodded. Charlie grabbed her arm and looked at her as if she held the secrets to life. "Tell me everything." 

And so Veronica did. Everything she knew. Luckily for her, she had the movies memorized. Jack listened too, though she assumed he didn't understand all of the references she made as she told the story. Dean and Sam left not long after Charlie and Veronica settled. After finishing with Lord of the Rings, Veronica found herself spilling out everything from Supernatural, eventually getting to her death. 

"Damn," Charlie said, "I gotta thank God the boys found another way. I wouldn't have liked dying," after a minute she added, "again."

Veronica looked at her suspiciously. The way Charlie had said it, so casually. Veronica wondered. "Charlie," she said, "Do you know God?"

Charlie stared at her, "No," she said slowly, "Do you?" 

Oh oh, Veronica thought. 

STOP FIDGETING, her mind yelled. 

"You do, don't you?" Charlie asked surprised. 

"Not personally, no," Veronica said, hoping that would satisfy her. It didn't seem to, but Jack chose that moment to interrupt the conversation. 

Oh, thank you, God, she thought. Then that got her thinking. Hey, eh, God, she said in her mind, Are you around? Cause if you are, I don't really know what your situation is with the Winchesters and it might be helpful to know how much do they know about you being, well, Chuck

Veronica waited patiently. When nothing happened, she mentally shrugged. I guess he's not around in this world

"Is that one of Dean's shirts?" Jack asked, staring at her clothes. 

"Yeah," Veronica answered, "I don't really have much clothing in this world, or things in general," she explained, "I needed something to wear when I went out this morning for groceries."

"Wait," Charlie said, "They haven't bought you anything yet?" Veronica shook her head. Charlie rolled her eyes, "They probably forgot you are a girl and can't just use their hand-me-downs."

"Hand-me-downs have worked so far, but I'll need some stuff eventually," Veronica said, "I'll talk to them when they get back."

Charlie shook her head and smiled. "No need," she said, picking up her laptop, "Everything's online these days. Let's shop and then you can keep telling me about your world."

"I don't really have any money, Charlie," Veronica said. 

"Lucky for you, I stole enough from Roman Enterprises before I left that we won't have a problem," she answered, "Besides, I love online shopping."

Veronica chuckled, "Okay, where do we start?"

Three days later, Veronica had the slight suspicion they had gone a little overboard as they carried another load of boxes to the car. Since they couldn't exactly have things sent to the bunker, they were picking them up at a place in town. 

"You sure you don't need any help with that?" she asked Jack, who was carrying what Veronica realized was her bed. 

Yes, they bought her a bed. Like I said, a little overboard. 

"I'm good," Jack answered, showing no signs of being tired. 

"Get another one of the boxes," Charlie said as she passed by her pulling a little cart with three boxes with the Indigo stamp on the side. 

Maybe I shouldn't have bought so many books, Veronica thought. 

After another two hours, they managed to get everything in her room in the bunker, but Veronica was not bothering with organizing everything. She was satisfied once she hung her clothes, made her bed, and had her new laptop and phone set up. 

"Thank you, Charlie, really," Veronica said, smiling. Maybe she wasn't home, but this was as close as she was going to get for a while. And at the very least, her room now looked like home. 

"Don't mention it," Charlie answered. Before she could say anything else, her phone rang. "Hey Sam," Charlie said once she answered, "I'm putting you on speaker."

"So get this," Sam started. Veronica held back a chuckle. They were not kidding in the show with how often Sam said this. "Another couple was found dead this morning," he said.

"Can't be just one werewolf, it's too much damage," Charlie said. 

"I don't think it's a werewolf at all," Sam said, surprising them.

"What do you think it is?" Veronica asked.

"I don't know, but the way the bodies were destroyed," Sam continued, "It just doesn't scream werewolf. In fact, I think they did it to each other."

"To each other," Jack repeated, frowning. 

"The couples, by the looks of it, they weren't together for long but people around them said the last few days they just went crazy for each other," Sam explained.

"Like when Famine hit," Veronica said. 

"Exactly," Sam said, "But we know it's not the horseman."

"We'll research here, see if we can come up with something," Charlie said. 

"Do you mind staying with Jack and Veronica for longer, Charlie?" Sam asked, "Dean says Cas is on his way here to help with the case."

"The kids are alright," Charlie said, "I might visit more often now that I have more than smelly Winchesters to bring me here," she joked. 

"Yeah, alright," Sam chuckled, "Let me know if you find anything."

"We will," Charlie answered, hanging up. She turned to Veronica and Jack before speaking, "Let's hit the books!"

Dean did not like Cas's news, almost as much as he disliked the case he was working. 

"Red rivers and lighting showers? That does not sound good, Cas," Dean said passing a hand through his face. This whole Traveler business was getting harder and harder every day. 

"Balthazar and I have been through all the Middle East and most of Europe, Dean," Castiel said, "Whatever brought Veronica here is causing unnatural occurrences everywhere, just like Metatron said."

"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Dean said, "What do we do? How do we stop it?"

"I told you how, Dean," Cas said slowly, "There's an imbalance in our universe. We need to balance it."

Dean stayed quiet for a minute before cursing, "We're telling her, aren't we?"

"She needs to gain control of her powers, in case," Castiel confirmed, not needing to finish the sentence. In case whatever it is comes for her, Dean thought. 

"You'll be here?" Dean asked.

"I'll be there in a few hours," Cas answered. Dean ignored the way the thought of Cas being there comforted him. "Tell me about the case," Castiel continued. 

"It's weird, even for us," Dean said, "Five couples, two in the last week, all ripped to pieces."

"And you said it's not a werewolf? What about a witch?" Castiel asked.

"It's too much mayhem for a werewolf and Rowena scanned the city, no witchy activity," Dean answered, "Sam says it looks like the couples are doing it to themselves."

"The question is what is driving them to that," Cas completed his thought. Dean did not stop himself from smiling, as there was no one around to see. 

Before he could do or say something stupid, he proceeded to end the conversation. "I need some sleep," he said, though he knew he would not be sleeping for a while, "I'll see you tomorrow, Cas."

"Goodbye, Dean," he said before the call ended. Dean took a deep breath, settling himself. 

Then he marched towards his room and told his brother the words Sam had been wanting to hear for days now. 

"We're telling her," Dean announced, "As soon as we get back." 

He let himself fall down into his crappy motel bed and turning on the TV, ignoring the way Sam was smiling. Scooby Doo, he saw on the TV, Nice

On the other side of town, a couple was on their first date when a server approached them.

"How's everything?" The woman asked. The couple smiled. 

"Everything's good, thank you," The guy answered, his date not leaving his sights. The girl innocently blushed at his date's attention, and the server smiled at the potential there. 

Potential, she thought mockingly, As if she didn't already know the two were meant to be

"Have a nice evening," she said stepping away from the table. If the couple had turned around then, they would've seen the wicked smile in the server, and a flash of bright red as her fingers snapped. 

The next morning, the woman turned on the news to see the flash of the headline as it read "Another couple found suspiciously dead at apartment."

Ah, love, she thought, Always so all-consuming

Chapter Text

"Agents Medlocke and Gaines," the officer said as soon as he spotted them, "And who is this?"

"Agent Swift," Castiel answered flashing his badge, "They called me in now that the body count has risen."

"Well, I'm glad to know the big office is putting in the man-hours," the officer said, "We need all the help we can get."

"Crime scene same as the other ones?" Dean asked, walking under the police tape that blocked the entrance to the apartment. Castiel was quick to follow as he had learned from his years of experience that when it came to hunting, it was usually better to follow the lead of the Winchesters.

"Worse," the officer said as he guided them in, "The victims are Gary Crownwell and Rose Chatham. According to Rose's roommate, they met online a couple of days ago. Last night was their first date," he explained as they walked towards what Castiel assumed would be the room where the bodies were. As he walked in the room, however, Castiel realized that bodies was not the right word for what was left of the couple. 

The previously white walls of the bedroom were now decorated with splatters of blood. Ripped and bloody clothes were discarded around the bed, and in it, were the things Castiel had thought off as bodies. 

There was barely any skin left untouched. Where there was once the pale smooth surface Castiel had seen in the photos in the living room, Rose's body was now made up of patches of bare muscle and exposed bone by what it looked like human bite marks. Gary's body was nowhere better, and as Castiel approached the youngest Winchester, he noticed something unusual around the wounds of Gary's wrist. 

"Burn marks?" Castiel asked Sam, recognizing his thinking face. 

"Every victim has them," Sam replied, "They're not very extensive, barely a line around the bites, but they're intense enough to leave the skin charred." 

"Nothing I've ever seen can do something like that," Dean said, approaching them from behind. Castiel and Sam stood up, facing him. He lifted his notebook, the one he carried around when he was pretending to be a federal agent. "Got the name of the restaurant they went to last night, guess where it is?" he said. 

"Glede Street," Sam guessed angrily, "Please tell me this place had cameras."

"Sure hope so," Dean said, "I'm headed there now. You good here?"

"Yeah, I'll talk to their families, see if I can find out how's he's choosing them," Sam answered, "Take Castiel, maybe he can spot something about the street that we don't."

Dean grabbed Castiel by the shoulder and started to walk away, the angel allowing himself to be pulled the way he had gotten used to over the years. He followed Dean out of the gruesome scene, thinking he recognized the burn marks from somewhere. 

Back in the comfort of the car, Castiel allowed himself to follow Dean's example and relaxed, as the Winchester always did when entering the familiar Impala. After the news he brought, Dean had been distant and stressed. Castiel was thankful for the safety the car provided that Dean could melt away in the soft leather seats. 

He hated to interrupt that peace, especially when it came so scarce, but he knew they needed to focus on the case. "This Glede Street," Castiel said, recognizing the flow of the words in his tongue, "It's the only connection between the victims?" 

"Yeah," Dean frowned, "But in the weirdest of ways. The first couple bought some furniture at a shop there the week they died, the girl at the second scene worked at a clothing store there, one of the couples actually met on that street, bumped into each other or something," he said, "They were all in or around there a week before they died."

"But his couple was just there last night," Castiel pointed out. 

"Which means this thing is speeding up," Dean said, "So we better hurry and kill it before it does again."

And as they drove towards the famous street, Castiel wished he could remember why the street name was so familiar, and how it was connected to the burns. 

They were silent for a few moments after that, allowing the angel to focus on the music playing. So many years together had allowed Castiel to identify some songs that matched Dean's taste in music. He had even come to enjoy it, from time to time. He was so involved in the song he recognized as Simple Man, one of Dean's favourites, that he was almost startled when Dean spoke again. 

"So, Cas," he cleared his throat before continuing, "I've been meaning to talk to you about something."

"What is it, Dean?" Castiel asked, turning in his seat and giving Dean his undivided attention. 

"Well," Dean started. "I just, umm," Dean seemed to think about his words for a second, and the angel could not help but notice how his previously nervous expression turned hard as he went deeper into his thoughts.

"Dean?" Castiel asked, wishing to bring him back to that relaxed mood he had been in earlier. 

"Nothing, never mind," Dean mumbled, turning the music up and efficiently ending the conversation. Castiel held back a sigh. 

When would Dean ever learn that holding back would never turn out okay for the both of them?

Jack allowed himself to relax, even though he felt whatever was coming to them would be anything but relaxing. 

"This is a bad idea," Charlie said, fidgeting. 

"It's a great idea," Veronica replied, almost jumping in her seat from excitement. 

"It's a bad idea," Charlie repeated, "It's the kind of idea that always gets the characters in situations where they almost get killed."

"We'll be fine," Veronica answered, rolling her eyes. 

"It's a really bad idea, don't you think, Jack?" the redheaded asked him, pulling him away from him calmingly counting how many trucks they passed by.

"It's... an idea, I guess," Jack said, refusing to give in to one side or the other. The truth is, the idea was not the best, but he was also getting tired of research, and he wanted to talk to Castiel about the way he had started to feel around Veronica. 

"It's a bad idea," Charlie refuted, "Maybe we can still turn around."

Veronica let out an exasperated sigh, "C'mon Charlie, this is not the you I know," she complained, "You are brave, you are badass, and you always kick it in the ass," she continued, "The idea might be slightly bad, but you don't let Sam and Dean keep you on the bench like this. And besides," Veronica added, "It'll be fun, it'll be a thrill. Something stupid, something bad for you. Just something different."

"People can live a hundred years without really living for a minute," Charlie whispered, "I can't believe you just quoted Gilmore Girls at me. That's playing dirty, Rhodes," she said shaking her head. 

"That's the point, Bradbury," Veronica replied. "You know we'll be more helpful there, and if I stayed cooped up in that bunker one more second I was gonna hammer down the walls." 

After a minute or two, Charlie sighed, "I'm gonna regret this," she said, "Whatever the case, it's too late to turn back now."

Jack watched as they passed the sign that read Welcome to the city of Atwood, Kansas. "This is a bad idea," Charlie said one more time before stepping on the pedal and taking them directly to the Winchesters. 

Hopefully, Jack thought, They'll be in a good mood

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester did not think frowning was adorable. 

He did not. He was a hunter. An incredibly badass hunter. A very manly, tough, badass hunter. Monsters were afraid of him. He'd been to hell, heaven and purgatory. He did not think the angel next to him frowning was adorable. 

No way. 

He had done a pretty spectacular job of ignoring the looks Cas had been giving him since their not-so-much conversation in the car. He was doing an even better job of burying the memories that assaulted him when he almost spoke the words that had been plaguing him for years, even more so in the last few weeks. 

Back in the car, just as he had managed to get a sudden burst of bravery, he opened his mouth, ready to say it. To say the things he had been meaning to say for far too long. And then the images hit him, just as they had done every time before. 

"You see he has this weakness. He likes you."

"I was getting too close to the humans in my charge. You."

"I'm hunted. I rebelled. And I did it, all of it, for you, and you failed. You and your brother destroyed the world and I lost everything, for nothing."

"The very touch of you corrupts. When Castiel first laid a hand on you in hell, he was lost!"

 

The overwhelming spiral of guilt and shame had immediately shut up Dean, effectively reminding him of the reason he had been keeping quiet for so long. He had turned the music up and pushed those feelings down, back where they belonged. 

Ignoring Castiel's frowning was just one more thing he would have to deal with for the moment. 

Instead of focusing on his expression, Dean tried to find the reason behind it. "What's wrong?" he asked as they walked in the restaurant. 

"Something feels familiar," he answered cryptically. 

"Wow, what do you mean familiar?" Dean said, joining him in his frown. Before Castiel could answer, a server approached them.

"Table for two?" she asked, holding to a pair of menus. Dean reached for his badge and introduced himself as the FBI agent he was pretending to be since he first rolled into town.

"Do you recognize this couple?" Dean asked, showing her a photo of each of the victims. 

"Yes, I seated them yesterday. Hard to forget them, caused quite the commotion," she answered, "Why? What's going on?"

"They were found dead this morning," Dean explained, "Can we see the footage from last night?" he said pointing at the cameras in the ceiling corners. 

"O-Of course, this way," she said leading them to a room in the back.

"What kind of commotion was it?" Castiel spoke. Dean eyed him out of the corner of his eye. He had that face he made when the answer was right in front of him but he couldn't find it.

"Oh, they were all over each other," she said, "We had to ask them to leave, they were not nice about it." As they walked in the little room, a man in a suit much nicer than the one Dean was currently wearing looked up from screens displaying the tables. 

"Ah, yes," he said as they walked in, "I got the call. I got the footage all set up for you. They came at about 8 last night, stayed for an hour or so before we had to intervene."

"We'll take it from here," Dean said, essentially dismissing them. The server quickly left, presumably back to work. The man stayed for another minute until it was obvious they were waiting for him to go too. He grunted something about the government meddling and left begrudgingly. "Okay, let's see what we're dealing with," Dean said as he pressed play. 

The hour was mostly normal, Dean quickly fast forwarding to the commotion. When he was about to start, he noticed Cas wasn't looking at the recording. Instead, he was staring at the door the others had left through. 

"Hey, feathers, how about you focus on the job?" Dean said, bringing him closer to the screens.

"Yes, sorry," Castiel said, finally turning towards the recording. Dean shook his head and pressed play. The couple behaved like any other would on their first date, the way they had for the last hour that Dean had quickly looked over. At this point, however, their hands seemed to touch across the table, and in a matter of minutes, they were all over each other. Dean was surprised the restaurant had taken so long to separate them, since by the time the man they had just met approached them, Rose was sitting on Gary's lap kissing in ways that were certainly not appropriate for a restaurant and more common to the things Dean often witnessed in porn. 

"Woah, let me see that again," he said as he replayed the last second in which Rose was forcibly removed from the guy's lap and she had turned towards the man in the suit. "She seemed like such a sweet girl in the pictures," Dean said surprised as he saw her growl at the man before grabbing Gary's hand and marching off. "What would even make someone act like that? I mean, I've wanted to get laid but damn," he added. 

"Something must have caused it, they were pretty normal before," Castiel said, his frown deepening. "Go back to before the commotion," he asked. Dean hit rewind until Castiel suddenly grabbed his hand. "Stop," he said, "Play that."

Trying to see what Cas did, he played the video. It was half an hour earlier, long before they were no longer PG. Everything seemed normal. A server approached them, they had a quick conversation and then she left. It didn't seem all that...

"Wait, what was that?" Dean asked rewinding it again. As the server left, she snapped her fingers, causing a red spark to show and dissipate just as quickly as it had appeared. "I thought Rowena said it wasn't a witch," he said. 

"It's not," Castiel said, his voice deepening, "It's far worse. We need to go."

"Wait, what?" Dean asked as the angel held his shoulder and transported them out of there. Dean soon found himself back in the motel room he and his brother shared. "What the hell, Cas? What was that?" 

"Dean?" Sam said as soon as he saw him, "What happened? I thought you were at the restaurant."

"You and Dean need to get out of here," Castiel said, walking towards Dean's duffle bag at the end of one of the beds.

"Leave? Why?" Sam asked. Before they could get an answer, someone knocked on the door. 

Dean, being the closest one, opened the door, his gun safely pointing from the other side. He did not expect to be pushed aside as Charlie and Veronica walked in, followed closely by Jack. 

"What's up, bitches?" Charlie said, plopping down in the nearest bed. 

"What the hell are you three doing here?" Dean yelled. He was dealing with too many surprises at the same time and he was not known for having patience. 

"Told you it was a bad idea," Charlie said to Veronica, who just scoffed and smiled, sitting down near Charlie. 

"We got bored at the bunker and decided to tag along," Veronica said, "How's the hunt going? Any progress?" 

"You should not be here," Castiel said seriously, "It's too dangerous."

"We have Jack. We'll be fine," Veronica said, dismissing him. 

"It's not safe for any of you," he said, essentially shutting up everyone. 

"Do you know something we don't, Cas?" Sam asked, standing up from the chair he was in, "It's that why you brought Dean here?" 

"What you're hunting," he said, "It's something very old and very powerful and this many people hunting it is too dangerous."

"Well, then I'll stay. You can take the others back to the bunker," Dean said. 

"No way," Sam, Veronica and Charlie answered at the same time. 

"You're not staying behind alone, Dean," Sam said, "And we're not just leaving people to die, Castiel."

"How about you start by what's going on, Cas," Jack said nicely, serving as the voice of reason. Funny how a two-year-old could calm a room like that. 

"I should've realized earlier," Castiel started, "The street name, the way the bodies were destroyed, the burn marks. It was right there." 

"Okay, spit it out," Dean said, getting frustrated. 

"Her name is Voluptas, or Volupta, depending on where you are. But as I remember, her favorite name was always Hedone," the angel explained. 

"Hedone?" Veronica asked, "As in the daughter of Cupid and Psyche?" Everyone turned to stare at her. "I like Greek mythology," she shrugged. 

"She's the goddess of pleasure," Castiel continued, "The reason you talk about hedonism. But she went crazy a long time ago, and killed her parents for not allowing her to marry the one she wanted."

"Well, you'd think with their story, they'd be more understanding," Veronica said, "Forbidden love and all."

"Her grandmother, Aphrodite, banished her after that. For revenge, she comes back every few centuries, makes couples that would normally have fairly good love stories be overwhelmed with lust until they consume each other," he said. 

"Yeesh," Dean said, "That sounds horrible. How do we kill her?" 

"You don't," Castiel said, "I can banish her, with all of you very far away."

"C'mon Cas, you're not doing all the heavy lifting by yourself," Dean protested. 

"You don't understand," the angel continued frustrated, "Angels are not affected by her power, but once you are hooked there's nothing to stop it but her."

"Well, I can stay," Jack said just as Castiel shook his head. 

"You're half human," he said, "We're not taking the risk."

"Wait," Veronica spoke for the first time in a while, "Isn't banishing temporary?" 

"If we don't have the means to kill her," Sam explained, "There's not much we can do. I mean, we can't just have her killing people while we find something else, not at the rate she's going."

"We can't just put a band aid on the problem," Veronica protested, "There's gotta be something else we can do."

"You can't save everyone, Veronica," Jack said softly, knowing rule number one of being a hunter, "Sometimes, you can only save a few."

Veronica thought back to the pictures the Winchesters had sent of the crime scenes. They haunted her. Something that could do that couldn't just be left to walk away. She knew she'd never be able to come to terms with the plan, not after she had seen them defeat far worse things. 

Suddenly, that gave her the idea she was looking for. It was as if a lightbulb had turned on her head. 

"I have something," Veronica said, smiling, "You can't come, of course, but if we can pull this off, well, problem solved," she thought out loud, "Oh, I have just the thing."

And so, against what she previously believed, against what Castiel had warned her, she used her knowledge of the show. It was necessary, she thought, even if it was just this once. 

"What is it?" Sam asked, shooting a quick glance towards Dean. Veronica chose to ignore that since what they were about to face was not going to be in any way easy. 

But it is necessary, Veronica repeated herself. 

She took a deep breath and spoke the words she knew would cause more trouble that she could think about. She said, "I know where the Colt is." 

 

Chapter Text

Veronica was not a fan of silence. 

Back home, she had her trusty headphones to maintain a constant flux of noise nearby, with all kinds of music, during the most mundane of tasks. Cleaning her room, cooking, walking to school, taking the bus, waiting in line. Whenever she couldn't listen to music, she talked. She was never good at staying quiet during dinner, or during class, or anything, really. She was not good with silence. She needed to fill it, every time. Otherwise, she felt anxious, stressed, like there was something she needed to be doing. 

That is why, as soon as she said the words, she knew that it had been a terrible idea. The tense long minutes of silence were threatening whatever little sanity she had left. If someone didn't say something soon, she was gonna start singing and dancing, just to stop the quiet. 

After what felt like forever, and Veronica was picking a song to sing, Dean spoke.

"You know where the Colt is?" Dean asked, his voice barely containing his feelings. Whether it was anger or excitement or both, Veronica was not sure. 

"Why didn't you say something earlier?" Sam added, "I mean, the Colt. That's a pretty big thing to keep to yourself."

"Because Cas told me not to tell you about the things I know," Veronica explained, "And I didn't want to put you in danger."

"You shouldn't have told us," Castiel said, staring at her, "You could cause serious damage."

"I'm sorry," Veronica apologized, "But people are dying."

"She's right," Sam said, "People are dying," Sam turned to her, "Where are we going?"

"Not we," she answered quickly, "I'll go. I know exactly what to do and how to get it. You stay here and figure out where we can find Hedone." 

"Like hell you are," Dean said, "You are not going alone."

"You can't come," Veronica said, "I need to be quick, in and out. The thing I'm stealing it from, it has power over you, but I know what I'm dealing with. I can sneak in," she explained, "With a distraction, of course."

"This is a terrible idea," Dean said, passing his hand through his face, "I don't like it."

"I'm not asking for permission," Veronica said exasperated. She could handle herself, she did not need them underestimating her.

"What kind of distraction are you thinking of?" Jack asked, frowning. 

"Doesn't matter, cause it's not happening," Dean said. 

Veronica, ignoring him, answered Jack's question. "I need Crowley to come and talk to the guy," she said.

"Not happening," Dean said, "A little help here?" he asked his brother.

"If she can do it," Sam said.

"No, what the hell, Sam? Since when do we send civilians in secret missions?" Dean protested. 

"I'm not just a civilian," Veronica refuted, "I can handle myself. I'm going. I just need you to call Crowley and get him there."

"How do you know he'll help?" Charlie asked from the comfort of the bed. 

"How are you okay with this?" Dean asked her, getting angrier the more the rest ignored him.

"I trust her," she said simply, "I've gotten to know her these days. If she says she can do it, I believe her."

"Charlie does raise a fair point," Sam said, "How do you know he'll help?"

Veronica smiled. "Because," she said, "It's in his best interest that the thing that has the Colt dies. He just doesn't know it yet." 

Two hours later, Veronica finds herself waiting as Sam finishes the summoning of the King of Hell. Okay, Veronica, she thinks to herself, you've gotten this far. Now you just have to lie to the one true King of Hell. No biggie. 

Damn, Dean was right. What the hell was she thinking?

Too late, her mind answered. 

Veronica had to agree as she watched Sam set the contents of the bowl on fire. Time slowed down as she waited for their guest to appear, or at least it felt that way to Veronica.

"C'mon, Crowley," Dean, who had finally and very reluctantly accepted the plan, said, "Don't be a dick. We don't have the time."

"Really, Dean, has no one ever told you that patience is a virtue?" Veronica recognized the voice immediately and quickly turned towards it. "My, my," Crowley continued, "Quite the gathering, isn't it? To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"We need your help," Castiel said. 

"Now why would I help you?" Crowley said, "Need I remind you that thanks to your little group I find myself, yet again, trying to rearrange Hell. I do not appreciate the extra paperwork."

Okay, I got this, Veronica thought, I can do this. Just like the show. 

"I need something," Veronica said, bringing Crowley's attention to her, "I hear you're the guy to come if I wanna deal."

"And who is the newest member of Avengers Assemble?" he asked with a smirk in his face. 

"Veronica," she answered with a confidence that was not there, "But that's not important."

"Now, you see, that's not true," Crowley said, "You're with the Winchesters, asking me to make a deal. Your name holds great importance."

"Well, I've got another name for you," Veronica said, "Ramiel."

"No," Veronica heard Castiel say behind her. She knew, without turning around, that Castiel was frowning in her direction. Sorry Cas, Veronica thought, Couldn't let you stop me

"What a pick-up line," Crowley said, his eyebrows raised with interest, "Where does a little thing like you learn a name like that?"

"I know more than that," she said, continuing as if she wasn't shaking inside, "I know where he lives, and what you gave to him all those years ago."

"Who's Ramiel?" Dean whispered towards Cas, who was too busy staring at Veronica to answer. 

"How do you know?" Crowley asked, suspicious, "There were only three people in that room, and the extra was killed long ago."

"I know everything," Veronica said, "Including what Ramiel is planning." 

Crowley scoffed. "He is not planning anything," he said incredulous, "He doesn't care about hell."

Time to lie, Veronica thought. "Really?" she said smiling, "Are you so sure? Because I happen to know differently."

Crowley was quiet for a minute, seemingly figuring out whether there was any truth to what Veronica was saying. She focused on making sure her face gave nothing away. She channeled her inner Dean, her inner Sam, her season six Castiel, her Roman Enterprises Charlie, her badass Kevin. I might be just a human, Veronica thought to herself, but I know how his story ends

"Consider me intrigued," Crowley finally said, "What do you want in exchange for this... information?"

"I can offer better than information," Veronica said, "I can kill him."

"If you can do that," Crowley said, "Why would you need me?"

"I need you to get him out of his house," Veronica said, "While I grab what I need."

"Have you ever been in front of Ramiel?" Crowley asked, "He's a Prince of Hell, one of four, made directly by Lucifer." 

"And you are the King of Hell," Veronica said, "If anybody can distract him with conversation, it's you."

"What exactly do you want in his house that's worth... Ah," Crowley said, smiling, "You want the gun."

"You should've never given it to him in the first place," Veronica reproached him. 

"He was going to be King of Hell," Crowley replied, "I wanted to keep him happy."

"Giving him one of the only things that can kill him was stupid," she said, "The other gift would've been enough."

"Now, wait a minute," Crowley started before he was interrupted.

"We're wasting time," Dean said, "Are you gonna help or not?" 

"I suppose Ramiel dead wouldn't be the worst thing, all things considered," Crowley said after a moment, "I never liked having those Princes of Hell running around, all that power with no loyalty to the crown."

"Great, let's go," Dean said. 

"Dean," Veronica started, "We've talked about this. It's just me and Crowley."

Dean frowned. "I don't like it."

"See you later, Squirrel," Crowley said, snapping his fingers and sending him and Veronica away. 

"Son of a bitch," Dean said, once they were gone, "I told you this was a bad idea," he said to nobody and everybody. 

"When she gets back, we need to be ready," Sam said, "We need to find Hedone."

"That won't be hard," Charlie said, "Cas said something about the street, didn't you?" she said turning towards the angel. 

"Yes," he said, "Glede Street. It means pleasure in Old Norwegian."

"Old Norwegian?" Dean asked, "Isn't she Greek?"

"Originally, yes," Castiel said, "But she adopted many names through the years. Most simple translations. It was ignorant of me not to see it earlier."

"Cas," Jack spoke for the first time in a while, too busy worrying about Veronica to do much more. "Crowley called the thing they're going after a Prince of Hell. You seemed to recognize it?"

"Lucifer made them after he made Lilith," Castiel explained, his frown back, "Four of them, made to lead the armies of Hell in the battle against Heaven."

"Four of them?" Sam asked, "How come we haven't heard of them until now?"

"You did," Castiel said, "You just didn't know it was one."

"What are you talking about? When?" Sam asked.

"I believe you only ever called him the Yellow-eyed Demon," Castiel said.

"You're telling us Veronica is going up against something that took the Winchesters more than two decades to kill?" Charlie asked, shocked and terrified for whom had quickly become a friend. 

That was Dean's last straw, punching the nearest wall and yelling to the heavens, "SON OF A BITCH."

Chapter Text

"Well, that was easier than I thought," Veronica said, appearing out of nowhere in the hotel room she had found the Winchester the previous day. 

"You almost got me killed!" Crowley complained, shaking invisible dust from his shoulders.

"Pffft," Veronica said, smiling, "The Lance would not have hit you. I shot him before that."

"It was too close," Crowley replied, "I believe our business is done."

Veronica watched as Crowley snapped his fingers and disappeared. "Cry baby," she said jokingly before knocking on the door. 

"You're back," Jack said as soon as he opened the door, surging forward to hug her. Veronica welcomed him with open arms. It had only been a day, but she missed the Nephilim. She could not deny by now that she had developed a small crush for Jack, even if she could do nothing about it. 

No point in starting something that will inevitably end, Veronica reminded herself. 

Still, she allowed herself to enjoy the hug that ran a little long. 

"Finally," Sam said as he approached the open door, "Dean's been cranky since you left and I was getting really close to punching him."

"It was fine," Veronica said, rolling her eyes. It really had been fine. Crowley had served as the perfect distraction, and Veronica had quickly gone in, broken into the safe, taken the Colt, and gone out. Just in time to shoot Ramiel in the back as he surged forward with the Lance of Michael, intending to kill Crowley. "I suppose he never expected someone was stupid enough to try and steal from him," she said, shrugging. 

"Very stupid, incredibly stupid," Dean said, dragging her into the room. "You didn't tell us he was a fucking yellow-eyed demon!"

"You wouldn't have let me go if I did," Veronica said, "You barely let me go as it was."

"Even I was worried, V," Charlie said, coming to hug her. 

"I'm sorry," Veronica finally said, "But I did it," she said excitedly, "I got the Colt."

"Let me see her," Dean said, a child-like shine in his eyes. Veronica extended him the familiar gun. Dean took it, a wide smile taking over his face. "Ah. Welcome home, sweetheart," Dean said endearingly. 

"You guys figure out where this bitch is hiding?" Veronica asked, dropping in the nearest chair. She didn't want to admit it, but she was pretty tired. The adrenaline kept her going so far, but the stress of the last two days was finally catching up. 

"Not yet," Charlie said, "She's really good at hiding."

"We'll get her," Sam said, "Why don't you catch some sleep? You seem tired."

"Sleep sounds good," she said, "Jack, do you mind?" she asked him smiling shyly. She was still getting used to the Nephilim putting her to sleep. 

"Not at all," he smiled, following her to the bed. "Sleep well, V," he said before putting two fingers to her forehead and sending her into a deep dreamless sleep.

Jack was still not entirely familiar with human feelings. 

The way he figured, his angel side was developing well, which Castiel attributed to his father being so powerful. His human side, in comparison, was a little behind in class, as Sam had put it. So when he started to feel something unsettling in his stomach, he first suspected he had food poisoning. After examining himself, however, he realized he was in perfect health. 

As the days progressed, Jack started to notice a pattern. The weird feeling in his stomach grew more intense when he spent time with Veronica. After realizing this, he followed Sam's advice. If you ever have doubts, Sam had said, and we're not around, try and ask Google. Most of the time, it might help

So Jack sat with a computer and looked up his symptoms. According to the internet, Jack was either dying of some incurable disease (which he knew was not true as he hardly ever got sick), or he had something magazines called "a crush." 

After further research, Jack discovered a crush was "a strong feeling of romantic love for someone." Which is why he found himself asking to speak with Castiel, alone, while Sam focused on finding Hedone, and Dean played with his new gun. 

"Jack," Castiel said once they were out of the others' earshot, "Is something wrong?" 

"I don't think so," Jack said, "I just, do you know what a crush feels like?" 

"Being crushed?" Castiel asked confused, "I imagine quite horribly, why?" 

"No, not being crushed," Jack corrected him, "At least, I don't think that's how you're supposed to use it. A crush. According to the internet, that's whatever is causing my stomach to act weird."

"Your stomach?" Castiel said, "Are you sick? Why would you talk about being crushed if... Ah," Castiel paused, finally understanding, "You mean you're attracted to someone."

"Is this what attraction feels like?" Jack asked, frowning, "I don't get it. Dean always talks about this as if it was something good. Why would feeling like I'm going to vomit be good?"

"That's only one of the things, Jack," Castiel said. Now that he seemed aware of what they were talking about, Jack could see he was more confident in the conversation. "When you start liking someone, in a romantic way, you feel more than just indigestion."

"What else do you feel?" Jack asked. 

"Well," Castiel started, "Your heart will beat faster when you're with them. You feel nervous, like you need to impress them someway. You look at them differently." 

"Have you felt like that before?" Jack asked, curiously. 

Castiel smiled, "Yes," he said.

"What do you do?" Jack asked. 

"Well, Jack," Castiel said, "Courting, especially in human society, is a very complicated and conflicting process that requires a lot of patience. You can't force someone to like you," he gave the Nephilim a knowing look, "But Jack, I suspect Veronica already likes you."

"How did you know?" Jack said, surprised and slightly embarrassed. 

"Sam says it's obvious," Castiel said, "At least, that's what Dean told me. Maybe you should talk to her."

"Bad idea," Dean said, interrupting, "Sorry, kid, didn't mean to overhear. Just wanted to let you know we may have found a summoning spell for Hedone."

"Why do you think it's a bad idea?" Jack asked. 

"Trust me on this," Dean said, "You don't want to start something with someone you know will leave. It will only end in disaster, for both of you."

"I guess," Jack said, frowning, "You really think I shouldn't say anything?"

"I'm sure," Dean said, "Let's go kill us a goddess."

Back in the room, Jack found the others in the exact same way he had left them. Sam and Charlie were both sitting at the table in the small kitchen, both with their laptops out. From there, he could see to the beds through a decorative wall. Veronica was sitting on one of the beds, surrounded by opened books. Jack forced himself to look away, thinking of Dean's words.

He was right, Jack knew. He could forget sometimes, but Veronica would leave eventually, and he would lose his friend. He had no doubt that would be hard enough, but if his feelings developed more strongly, he couldn't begin to imagine what it'd be like to lose her then.

"The spell is pretty straightforward," Charlie said as they walked into the room, "Some chanting done by the right people and we've got ourselves a vengeful goddess."

"Right people?" Jack asked.

"It's a little tricky. It needs to be spoken in three languages at the same time. Greek, Latin, and English," Charlie said, "And it has to be spoken by, and I'm quoting here, 'A pure, a corrupted, and a sinner'," she read to them.

"Pure, that's gotta be a virgin, right?" Dean said, "Good thing the kid hasn't gone out much."

"Sinner," Sam said, "That'd be you, Dean."

"Thanks, Sammy," Dean scoffed, "What's corrupted supposed to be?"

"The in-between, I'd think," Veronica said, "Not quite a virgin but not as...," she struggled to find the right word, "Experienced," she said finally. 

"So what? He pulled out or something?" Dean said, causing Veronica to yell "Ew," Charlie to protest loudly and Sam to roll his eyes and ignore his brother.

"Corrupted," Castiel started, "is someone who engaged in forms of sexual activity but did not rupture the hymen," Dean and Jack looked at him confused, while Charlie and Veronica shivered. 

Sam was the one who, after doing a Tumblr worthy facepalm, explained saying very loudly, "Didn't put it in!" 

"Ah," Dean said, while Jack continued to frown in confusion, yet allowed the conversation to move on from the topic. 

"Well, that's easy," Veronica said. When the Winchesters stared at her, she rolled her eyes before answering to their unspoken question, "No, not me. Not even close," she chuckled, "I was talking about Charlie."

"Me?" Charlie said, "I mean, I don't know. I don't do guys but there was still other stuff..."

"She's correct," Castiel interrupted, "Your hymen is intact."

"You can tell that?!" Veronica and Charlie both asked, a little alarmed and a little embarrassed.

"Damn Cas, that's creepy," Dean said. 

"Whatever the case," Sam said, pointedly not looking at Castiel, "Dean, you take the Latin. Charlie can do the English and Jack will do the Greek."

"Jack knows Greek?" Veronica asked, impressed. Jack felt a little tug at his heart, and Castiel words played once again in his mind. Your heart will beat faster when you're with them. You feel nervous, like you need to impress them someway. 

Control yourself, Jack thought. 

"Yes, languages come easy to me," Jack answered, still bragging a little. 

"Let's get started then," Dean said. 

A few minutes later, Dean, Charlie, and Jack stood in the middle of the room, a perfect triangle, each with the paper with the incantation in the respective language. Jack looked at his, translating it in his head. 

"Ready?" Dean asked, looking at them. Once they both nodded, he signaled Charlie to start. 

"Hedone," they said, each in their respective language, "Goddess of pleasure, I summon you. Voluptas, daughter of the forbidden, I summon you," Jack noticed the lights flickering then, and knew they were in the right path, "Lust, vengeful sin, I summon you," they finished together. 

It was a second where they looked at each other before the things around them started to shake. 

"Here she comes," Dean said, grabbing the Colt and steadying it as much as he could. 

"HOW DARE YOU?!" a voice broke through the walls just before what looked like a woman showed where the three previously stood. "HOW DARE YOU CALL ON ME LIKE THIS?" the voice spoke again, though the mouth in the woman did not move. 

The woman, Jack noticed, was what one would consider beautiful. She had bright red hair that fell naturally to her waist, and a simple white dress that, Jack realized, looked very much like what Greek statues usually wore. 

"WHERE ARE THE SACRIFICES?" the voice continued as the woman slowly lifted her head to look at each of them. As she looked, recognition seemed to flash through her face as she stopped to look at Dean. "Hunters," the voice said more calmly this time, "And not any kind. The Winchesters," she said, her lips still unmoving. The woman barely moved her hand when Dean was thrown off balance. "Oh, this is going to be so much more fun," she said. This time, however, she showed them a wicked smiled, one that guaranteed that was not only a threat but a promise. 

Last thing Jack remembers after that it's the goddess snapping her fingers, and a big flash of red. 

Chapter Text

When the red light vanished, the goddess along with it, Dean was worried. 

As his consciousness returned, his mind went to a familiar alarmed place of Sammy, which quickly grew into SammyCas, and continued to grow until there were too many names for him to worry about and damn it if Dean wasn't right when he said there were too many people on the case. 

"Sammy," he called out, a part of him calming down as he opened his eyes and saw his baby brother helping Charlie up. He turned a little, searching for... Ah. Dean found himself breathing a little easier when he noticed Cas kneeled down not too far from him. 

Then he saw it. 

His heart skipped a beat as he realized Castiel was concentrated, in full angel mode, his hands extended in two different directions, his fingers touching two different foreheads. No no no, Dean's mind chanted worriedly. 

"Jack!" He heard himself calling, getting up quickly and walking towards Cas, "What's wrong? Are they...?" Dean started. 

"They're fine," Castiel quickly interrupted him. Dean immediately felt better. In the last ten seconds, he had aged thirty years, just out of worry for the two kids. "I'm struggling to wake them up, but they will. We have a situation," he explained, his voice dropping an octave as it usually did when he was especially serious. 

"No kidding," Dean said, "What the hell was that? I've never seen a minor god with that much power."

"Hedone is not like others you've encountered," Castiel answered, "She had many followers back in the day, and she had many more than the average for a Non-Judeo-Christian god. She still does."

"Ugh," Veronica said, finally waking up, "That hurt."

Jack also woke up then, suddenly straightening up, a confused face as he looked around the room.

"What happened?" he asked, turning to Veronica, "Are you okay?" he asked reaching out to comfort her. 

"No!" Castiel reacted, but it was too late. Jack's hand came in contact with Veronica's shoulder, and Dean understood what Cas had meant by "situation."

Veronica jumped back immediately, gasping as if she had run a marathon, her eyes wide and dark. Jack seemed frozen in place, completely still, except for the quick movement of his tongue darting out to lick his lips, and a predatory look in his eyes.  

Oh, hell, Dean thought, We should've left town

Veronica was struggling to focus on the conversation she knew the others were having. 

"What do we do? How do we stop it?" Sam asked. At least, Veronica thinks it was Sam. She couldn't quite catch all the words, a strong ringing in her ears, the sudden dryness of her mouth alarming. 

When Jack had touched her, Veronica had felt a jolt of electricity that seemed to spark something in her that she was not aware she possessed. It was as if a fire had been ignited, slowly burning away every part of her, a pleasurable prickling under her skin. Everything around her felt too much, her whole body suddenly oversensitized. She craved his touch, the one who had started it all. And logically, at the moment at least, she knew it was the spell, the thing that had killed the other couples. Hedone. But she did not care.

She was too busy thinking about the fire to care about much.

"Veronica," Dean said, grabbing her shoulders. She held back a scream. His touch felt wrong. Too heavy, too hot. It was not a nice, satisfying burn, the way Jack's was. This was painful, raw. "Do not get close to Jack, do you understand?" he said, forcing her to look at him. She cringed this time, his touch proving too much for her fragile state. 

He carefully let go before speaking again. "He will be in a different room," Dean said, "Do not try to find him. Same goes to you, kid," he said, turning towards Jack, "Don't get close to her."

Veronica fought through it enough to imitate Jack's gesture and nod. She saw as Castiel took Jack away, and felt a tug at her heart as they were separated. It's for our own safety, she reminded herself. She clung desperately to that one bit of rational thought and focused on ignoring the physical reactions her body was having to Jack's distance. 

That'd be the last rational thought Veronica would have that day.

Sam was thankful for Charlie's reasoning as he and his brother carefully approached the apartment. They had visited three of them already, but he felt this one was the one. He signaled his brother to cover him as he used his tools to unlock the door. Less than a minute later, they were in. As they cleared the rooms, looking for the goddess, he went over the incantation in his head. After the failure with Hedone, they had called Rowena, asking her to help with what Cas called "the infection."

He thought back to Jack and Veronica, both kept in different rooms, with Charlie guarding Veronica and Castiel with Jack. The Nephilim had seen less affected than Veronica, which only proved to Sam that whatever the Traveler was, it had more humanity than they thought. However, Sam knew that restraint could only last so long. Jack was half human, and he'd seen things with no humanity in them succumb to the pull that certain human necessities could have.

They had to hurry before it was too late. 

Rowena, thankfully, had been quite helpful. Once she knew what they were dealing with, she had modified the banishing spell Castiel had previously mentioned to instead bind the goddess. Hopefully, that, along with the Colt, would be enough to force the goddess to cure the kids. That assuming the spell worked. And that Charlie's findings were right, and the goddess was indeed residing in the apartment on top of one of the businesses in Glede street. 

"Sam!" he heard Dean yell from a different room before a distinctive crashing sound shook the thin walls. Sam ran to his brother, starting the chanting as soon as he saw the goddess. Hedone growled as she recognized some of the words, but Sam had her now. Once the spell was done, Dean pointed at her with the Colt, and Sam could see the temptation in his brother to use it.

"You're gonna end the spell," Dean said, angrily pointing the gun.

"Well, this is no fun," she answered, rolling her eyes. Now that she was bound, Sam realized, she seemed to be a lot more like the other gods they had faced over the years. "Why would I end it? You'll just kill me, assuming I'm not one of the only five things that gun can't kill."

"We're killing you anyway," Dean said, "But we can do it quick or slow, and that depends on you." 

"Fine," she said, rolling her eyes, "Take me to them then."

Dean and Sam shared a look. Too easy, Sam thought, and he could see his brother was thinking the same. But what could they do? They needed to save Jack and Veronica, and the only one who could do that was Hedone. 

"Let's go," he said to Dean, never taking her eyes from the goddess. 

"What are you doing here?" Charlie asked, hurrying to get out of the room to avoid Veronica from seeing Castiel. 

"I'm going to see Balthazar," he said.

"Now?!" Charlie asked alarmed. 

"Charlie," Castiel said, "I believe Dean has told you everything, hasn't he?"

She took a deep breath and remembered the earth-shattering conversation that had led her to babysit Veronica and Jack in the first place. "Yes," she answered, "World going nuts over Veronica, right?"

"Balthazar thinks he has something," Castiel said, "We need answers, quickly. And I believe Jack is under enough control that as long as Veronica stays where she is and he stays there, they'll be fine." 

"Are you sure?" Charlie asked, glancing nervously at the door. 

"No," Castiel said, "But we don't have much of a choice. Not with what's coming."

"Okay," Charlie said, "I'll keep Veronica still."

"Dean called and said they have the goddess. You just have to hold on for a while longer," Castiel said. 

"Yes, chief," she said jokingly. She heard the flutter of wings, and Castiel was gone. She walked back into the room and turned to where Veronica was not two minutes before. 

Shit, Charlie thought, staring at the empty bed.

Hedone hadn't had fun like this in centuries. 

Messing with Shakespeare's mind had been quite exhilarating, but since then, humans had turned awfully predictable when love and lust came into play. Give a man the right woman, and he would give up everything. Give a woman the wrong man, and they'd do anything. Create the right situation, with the right amount of people, and they'd never be the same again. 

When she started, Voluptas did not kill humans. She didn't value their lives, after all, why would she? No matter what she did, humans would always need her. She provided something not even that precious Christian God could, not until marriage anyway, and who had the time to wait that long? Back then, it was just about messing with Aphrodite's perfect plans. And then she discovered the lengths people would go to. 

It was incredibly satisfying to puppeteer people, these little creatures, into going to extremes for people they were meant to love. 

But even that got old. Humans, Hedone found after a while, were mostly the same every time. After watching that movie so many times, it gets boring. Whenever she thought about retiring, however, she would think of her own loved one, and the pain she went through when her own parents banished her to keep him away. By the time she had managed to return, he was long dead. And her parents, satisfied that her immortality would be left intact, were so surprised when she had murdered them in cold blood. That's where it should've ended. 

But Aphrodite just couldn't leave things alone, could she?

"Here's what I don't get," Samuel Winchester said to her, guarding her in the back seat of the car. Hedone tested the bounds once again, knowing they'd be weakened soon enough. And then, she'd leave, as she should've done, as she would've done, had she known what she was dealing with. 

Still, Hedone reasoned, their love story seemed so unbelievably boring, she just had to give it a little push. Make it fun. She didn't know she was dealing with a cosmic being then. She had learned long ago, humans were fair play. Celestials? Those were better to keep away. 

"What is that?" she asked, only mildly intrigued. 

"You killed your parents," he said, "You'd think you wouldn't be surprised when your grandmother banished you."

"That's the problem you're having?" Dean asked, rolling his eyes at his brother. 

"My grandmother didn't banish me," she growled, wishing she was free already to rip the youngest Winchester head off. "She locked me away for centuries," she said, unable to restrain herself from straightening the story, "By the time I got out, all anyone thought of me was that I was a sin, a way to doomed you to hell."

"So you kill couples to get revenge?" Dean said, "Yeah, right. Now I totally understand."

"Her family destroyed my everything, and I was the one to get locked up," she barked at them, the bound tightening around her. "I could've been happy with my love, but instead of simply being with him, I wasted time trying to get my parents' approval," Hedone felt a surge of power go through her, and she knew it'd be minutes before the last victims finally bowed down to her will. 

Twistedly, she chose to mess with more than one couple then. After all, with the legendary stories the brothers would go to have, how could she not? She took a deep unnecessary breath, and spoke. "That's where we are similar, you know?" she said with a fake softness, "Take my advice. Don't take too long, Winchester," the goddess said, looking at the window, not really clarifying which brother she was addressing. "He's waiting for you," she sang softly. 

Before either of the brothers had a chance to reply, Sam's phone began to ring. 

"Charlie," he said answering the call. 

"Sam," Charlie said, the desperation in her voice leaking through the phone, "You better hurry." 

"Dean," Sam said after ending the call, "Step on it." 

Veronica had never felt such a strong need for someone before. 

She couldn't think, she couldn't speak, even breathing was difficult. The only thing her mind could make out was need. Need for his hands, his lips, his closeness. Need for him

She laid in bed, rolling from side to side, trying to distract herself from the spell. She had tried everything. She focused on the repercussions, focused on her family, on the Winchesters words. Hell, she had even started reciting the entire dialogue of the Pilot on her head. It wasn't helping, it wasn't what she needed. Or rather who. 

She couldn't hold back any longer. There are worse ways to die, she half-reasoned before standing up and walking towards the door separating them, the spell clouding her judgment, her mind no longer hers. 

Jack had never felt so much like a guy until she had walked in. 

He was feeling it too, of course. The anticipation, the almost animalistic want going through his body, but he couldn't quite comprehend it, grasp it, until she came in. 

Where he once saw soft gray eyes, he could only see the darkness in them, a mirror image of his. Her hair, usually so well behaved, was now wild and messy from her running her hands through it. And that body... 

Jack whimpered and closed his eyes. Why had he never felt this way before? Is this what humans felt? Was this what Castiel was trying to explain? The other effects of attraction? 

Jack opened his eyes again and held back another whimper. How did humans ever get anything done feeling like this? 

Veronica walked past him, and sat on the bed, not too far from where Jack was. He took a deep breath, meaning for it to be calming, and instead filling his nostrils with her smell. The need was starting to build up, becoming unbearable, almost to the point that it was painful. 

Instinctively, he pushed a hand down in between his legs, where he had started to harden when Veronica had walked in. He let out a moan, causing Veronica to turn her face towards him. Seeing what he was doing, her eyes shot up to his, the gray now almost unrecognizable under all that lust. Before he could say anything, she was on top him, her legs wrapped around his waist, her hands on his hair. 

He only had a second to think that maybe it wasn't a good idea before her lips touched his. 

There wasn't a lot of thinking after that. 

Veronica was not used to being so forward. But she couldn't control herself. 

Walking in that room had been a mistake, she realized now. A little too late now that her lips were touching his. And damn, what a kiss. 

There was such a hunger behind it. For what he lacked in experience, Jack made up on enthusiasm. Their lips fit perfectly and they just couldn't get enough of each other. Separating wasn't an option, not anymore. There was just raw, unrestrained need. She stopped kissing him only to start traveling down his neck. She left soft kisses in his mandible, making her way to his jugular. She didn't hesitate before sucking harshly, making Jack moan loudly. 

Mine, her mind yelled, mine, mine, mine.

With a quick roll of her hips, essentially dry humping him, she felt Jack's undeniable reaction to her, making her moan. Finally, she thought, finally mine

The familiar noise of lights exploding caused her to open her eyes for a second, just in time to see Jack's eyes shine bright with that golden light she had seen in TV many times in her world. Before she could have a chance to say anything, Veronica was no longer sitting on Jack. She was laying down on his bed, with him on top of her, his lips making their way quickly through her neck. 

She gasped and moaned and whimpered, her neck a sensible spot, the fire she had previously felt quickly spreading. Her hands made their way to the end of Jack's shirt and stayed there for less than a second before she pulled it over his head, forcing him to separate and giving her time to breathe. It didn't take long for him to go back down, her hands now holding on to every bit of naked skin they could. 

Oh God, she thought, Why did I ever hold back?

Jack's hands had a life of their own. 

They were taking in anything, any bit of Veronica's he could touch. He took pleasure in all the different sounds she made, all because of him. He continued his work with her neck, silently hoping he would leave a mark. 

Mine, he couldn't stop thinking, mine, mine, mine

His hands didn't stop, quickly undoing the buttons of her shirt, making their way to the button of her jeans. He managed to get the zipper down and stood back to look at her. His hands softly made their way from her neck through every patch of skin visible, going over the simple black bra covering that which Jack was dying to reveal, all the way to the bit right before her laced red panties started. 

He barely had time to admire her before someone pulled him off. 

He fought the person restraining him, but couldn't manage to shake them off. Castiel, he realized. He heard him say something to Charlie before she started walking in Veronica's direction.

NO, his mind screamed as he watched her put cuffs on Veronica, MINE

When Jack's hands traveled to her pants, Veronica was suddenly thankful she had forgotten to do laundry and had run out of comfy underwear the day before. She was especially thankful to Charlie who had told her "You never know when you might get lucky," before adding a bundle of lace panties in the online shopping bag a week ago.

Touch me, Jack, she thought, what are you waiting for? 

"Cuff her!" she heard Castiel yell. Too startled by the sudden disappearance of Jack's weight from her body, she didn't react quickly enough. Before she could do anything to avoid it, her hands were cuffed to the wooden bars from the bed's headboard. 

The cuffs burned her skin, her whole being suddenly on fire. She fought the restraints, pulling on them again and again. She knew she must be hurting her wrists, but she didn't care. Only one thing mattered. 

Jack, she thought alarmed, JACK.

She spotted him then, by a far away corner. He was pushed against the wall, Castiel's body towering over him, holding him down, keeping him away from her. Fury surged through her veins, a fire fueled by the return of the need, no longer appeased by the previous encounter. A deep growl surged through her lips, causing Castiel to turn his head towards her, worry coloring his expression. 

"Call Sam!" yelled Castiel. Charlie grabbed her phone and hurried out the door, knowing she wouldn't be able to get a proper word out in the room. Veronica didn't care, she was focused on Castiel and Jack. 

Who did he think he was? Veronica asked herself irrationally, Who said he was worthy of touching her Jack? 

She growled again, louder, before spitting "Mine," acidly towards Castiel. She couldn't feel anything other than hatred towards the angel and need for the Nephilim. There were no other thoughts going through her head, no other feelings traveling through her body. It was all hate and love, hate and love

With a scream, she pulled with all her strength at the cuffs. Her right hand shot forward, breaking the wooden bar it was tied to. 

She felt a sharp stabbing pain in her wrist, but it quickly dissipated in a cloud of desire. She looked up to where Jack was and smiled ferociously. 

Jack was fighting with everything he had. Castiel was only managing due to his arm wrapped tightly in Jack's waist, and even that was failing. Jack's arms and legs waved frantically in multiple directions, trying to break free, his eyes focused on Veronica and Veronica only. 

With a sound that was almost feral, Jack surged forward. As he freed himself from Castiel's grip, Veronica pulled at the cuffs. The wood creaked before completely separating from the headboard, setting her free. 

"Wasn't that just adorable?" said an unfamiliar voice before sending Veronica and Jack to different sides of the room, an invisible force holding them back. 

They both screamed and growled, struggling, doing everything in their power to get to each other. But it was of no use. The goddess had arrived. 

"Fix them," ordered Dean, the Colt pointed directly at the beautiful woman. 

"Yeah yeah," she shook her hand dismissively, "Don't forget what I said, Winchester," said Hedone before smiling and snapping her fingers, disappearing. 

It was as if a fog had suddenly cleared from their minds. Jack and Veronica were both let go, and plummeted towards the floor, gasping as if there wasn't enough air in the room. 

"Here," Charlie said, handing Veronica a bottle of water. She drank it all in big gulps, as thirsty as if she had run a marathon. 

It was also a great way of avoiding eye contact with Jack. 

"Are you okay?" she heard Castiel ask Jack. In the corner of her eye, she saw Jack nod distracted. He was frowning, looking at the floor as if it held all the answers. 

Jack suddenly stood up. "I need a shower," he announced before walking towards the bathroom and harshly closing the door. Veronica flinched at the sound before releasing a sigh, quickly buttoning herself up. 

She closed her eyes hard, struggling to forget how good it had felt when their lips touched.

Jack's kisses made her feel more alive than she ever had.

She shook her head, dissipating those thoughts. She felt exhausted. Letting that sink in, she faded into a restless sleep. Without Jack's magical touch, the familiar light fought her for hours. Veronica barely had the strength to fight that night. 

Jack was very frustrated.

Where do we go from here? He asked himself. 

He was trying his hardest to ignore the guilt that settled down as Veronica's face when the spell had ended stayed engraved in his mind. 

She looked so disappointed.

How could he let himself go like that? How could he have taken advantage of Veronica when he knew she was not of sound mind? He was a Nephilim. He was not nearly as affected as a human would, and his judgment was still clouded. He knew Veronica's human mind had to have been entirely consumed by the spell. 

He should've been able to hold back. He should've been the rational one when she couldn't be. It was his responsibility. 

If he lost his one friend because he wasn't able to maintain control, he wouldn't be able to live with himself.

Where do we go from here? he repeated.

Chapter Text

When they would look back at the events of that hunt, and they would do it a lot in the following months, they would find an endless string of coincidences that led them to that exact point. 

Sam had only seen the articles about the deaths because Garth had sent them. Garth was only looking around in the first place because they were worried about what having Veronica in their world was doing. Castiel would only join them because he had gotten caught up with Balthazar for longer than he thought. Charlie was only babysitting because she had just broken up with someone and needed a distraction. 

If only Garth wasn't looking, or Cas had gone to the bunker instead of straight to the city. If it hadn't been Charlie babysitting. If Castiel didn't have to leave at the exact same moment Veronica stopped thinking. If Sam and Dean had found the goddess earlier.

If, if, if. If was one of those words that had the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. 

Maybe Jack and Veronica wouldn't have drifted apart after the Hedone fiasco. Maybe Jack wouldn't have walked to Veronica's room with the intention to apologize and found Castiel putting her to sleep instead of him. Maybe a million other things could have changed. 

With timelines, things were always tricky. There were always moments you could change, with only minimal backlash. Dean could wear a blue shirt instead of red. Cas could be two ss or one. Sam could be a doctor, instead of a lawyer. These are things that, if changed, would only alter their lives in the most unimportant details.

However, there were also fixed moments, things that, if done differently, would create a drastically different life for them. If Dean was cured later. If Cas was never captured by Naomi. If Sam's hair was short. If, if, if.

But those were other worlds, with other versions of themselves, who made different decisions. In this world, none of those changes happened. In this world, Dean Winchester found himself knocking on a girl's door to check on her, not knowing his life was about to change forever.

And this moment right here, ladies and gentlemen, this is the moment that changed their story. This is the moment that fixed the Winchesters' destiny to Veronica's. This is when it would be decided if this story would end, either tragically in flames, or in a happily ever after. 

In a different timeline, Castiel would sacrifice himself, for real this time, to never come back. 

In a different timeline, Dean would grow old, never quite giving up hunting, becoming the Bobby of the next generation, never forgetting the angel that raised him from perdition.

In a different timeline, Jessica would come back, and Sam would have the apple pie life he always wanted with the girl he thought he'd never see again. 

In a different timeline, Jack would rule heaven for eternity.

In a different timeline, Veronica would go home without ever hearing the world Traveler.

But that is not this one. 

In this timeline, Dean came into Veronica's room and asked, genuinely interested, "How are you holding up?"

"As good as can be expected, I guess," Veronica said, not bothering to get up from her bed. She had been blaring music, probably damaging her hearing, in order to drown out all thoughts Jack-related. Unsuccessfully. 

"Sam sent me to check up on you," Dean said, "Charlie left a little while ago. She wanted to say bye but..."

"But I wasn't exactly up for seeing anyone," she completed. She took a deep breath, sitting down, inviting Dean to come in. 

"You know we'll find her, right?" Dean said, "She'll pop up again, and we'll be there."

"I know," Veronica groaned, "But she'll kill more people before we can stop her for good. And..."

"And?" Dean encouraged, sitting in the edge of her bed.

"And Jack came in yesterday," she said, "Found Cas putting me to sleep."

"Yea, Cas said something like that before taking off," Dean scratched the back of his head, a nervous tick Veronica recognized. "This is kind of my fault," Dean added.

Veronica stared at him. "How is any of this your fault?" she asked.

"Before Hedone whammied you," Dean started, "He was talking to Cas about his feelings... for you."

Even then, Veronica couldn't stop the smile that overcame her face. It was quickly erased, however, a frown taking up the space. "I thought he reacted that way because he was as emotionally underdeveloped as you," she said, "If he was talking to Cas about it, why is he avoiding me like I gave him syphilis?"

"Because I told him not to start anything with you," Dean confessed, "If it was going to end anyway."

Veronica chuckled. "Funny," she said, "That's exactly what I was telling myself."

"What?" Dean said. Veronica shrugged. "That's a terrible idea," he told her.

Veronica knocked him in the shoulder a little, as if they were old friends. To her, I guess, it felt that way. "I know," she said, "I had a moment of stupidity. What's your excuse?"

"Afraid to see my kid growing?" he tried. Veronica laughed, knowing that was not it. 

"Or maybe," she started, "You were afraid that Jack would get his heart broken."

"That too," he said, rolling his eyes. "But really, don't be stupid. That kid has too much love for you to be stupid."

"I'll talk to him," she conceded, "But," she said, "You have to talk to Cas."

Dean almost fell off the bed surprised. How did she know? Veronica stifled a laugh. 

"What?" she said, "You think I wouldn't know?"

"Don't know what you're talking about," Dean said, standing up to walk towards the door. 

"Ah ah," Veronica ran to stop him, "You talk about my love life, I get to talk about yours."

"There's nothing to say," he said as he tried to pass her to get to the door. 

"Yeah, and Sam's favorite singer is Elvis," she said incredulous, "We both know you got it bad for Cas so sit down and talk."

"What're you talking about?" He said, taking a step back. Veronica scoffed and hurried to close the door, trapping Dean inside. 

"What? You think I'm gonna believe anything you say that will deny it?" She said, stepping forward, pointing an accusing finger towards the eldest Winchester, "I know you, Dean Winchester, more than you realize. And I've known since the first time I saw you two when I woke up here that the stuff of fanfics and fandom jokes was true," Dean, taken aback by her sudden change in behavior, plopped down in her bed, "So why aren't you with him?" 

It took him a minute or two of examining his surroundings to realize he would not be able to escape this time. And, if he was being honest with himself (for once), he wasn't really tempted to.

Maybe it was because of how exhausting it was becoming to keep as many things bottled up as he had been lately. 

Or maybe, it was the way Hedone's words kept repeating over and over in his head. He won't wait forever, Winchester. 

Or maybe, there was another reason he was not aware of, something that would sadly tarnish this moment forever. 

But more on that later.

"Even if what you said was true," he said, admitting defeat, "There's nothing to talk about. He doesn't know and will never know."

"Bullshit," Veronica said crossing her arms, "It's so obvious he already knows. He's just waiting for you to man the hell up and get over whatever Dean Winchester crap is keeping you from making a move."

"You think he knows?" Dean asked, unusually vulnerable. He cleared his throat and frowned, momentarily distracted by the way he was so easy talking with Veronica. Even Sam had difficulty getting anything out of him. 

That feeling didn't last long, though, gone by the time Veronica spoke again. "Dean, what exactly are you waiting for?" Veronica asked him. 

It was almost as if he couldn't physically hold it in anymore. Right then and there, Dean finally said the words that had been weighing him down for far too long. "It's my fault," Dean revealed, "Everything that's happened to him it's my fault."

"How is it your fault?" She asked confused.

"He fell because of me," he said. 

Veronica stared at him for the longest time, just waiting for him to realize the stupidity of what he had said. Dean stared at the floor, those thoughts he knew so well swirling around his head, speaking the truth he struggled with every day, creating a wall between him and his feelings. Veronica was perplexed. She knew, of course she knew, Dean was the king of self-loathing thoughts. But she never imagined he could be so blind.

"Wow," Veronica said, "You really are ridiculously self-absorbed."

"What the hell?" Dean said, startled by this reaction. 

"He didn't fall for you," Veronica said matter-of-factly, "You're not the reason," she scoffed incredulously, "You're just a happy consequence."

"What are you talking about?" Dean asked. Veronica looked at him like he was the biggest idiot she'd ever seen, "Well, how about you dumb it down for me," he said angrily.

"Winchesters," Veronica muttered before walking towards one of the newly installed shelves by her bed. "So many times getting knocked in the head must have damaged a few neurons," she muttered as she looked around for a second before pulling a book out and tossing it to Dean. 

Dean looked down at the cover. A girl with dark hair and tight leather clothing was doing a battle stance with a wip out. "Really, Veronica? I never pegged you for an S&M kind of girl," he mocked her. She rolled her eyes before taking the book from him.

"It's not that kind of book," she said flipping through the last pages, "It's the fourth book in a series," she explained, "This edition of City of Fallen Angels has an extra chapter in the end that hopefully will explain what I mean."

"Then why is the cover some chick in leather?" He asked. She rolled her eyes again. 

"That's Isabelle," she answered, "I'll give you the whole series for you to read later if you want," she continued, "Let me just find what I'm... There it is," she said finally stopping her flipping. 

She handed the book to him and pointed to the highlighted part. He looked down, but the words seemed messed up by the highlighter and it was giving him a headache. "How do you read it when the ink is damaged like that?" He asked squinting at the page. Veronica sighed and took the book from him. 

"Pay attention," she said looking at him one more time before looking down to the book. "'He thinks of the fall,'" she started reading, "'of angels tumbling forever in fire, and Icarus, who flew too close to the sun.'" Dean shuddered, this wasn't making him feel better. An image of Castiel falling in a blaze, burning and in pain as he was banished from heaven was seared into his mind. Veronica continued, forcing his thoughts away from the picture. "'He had thought of the agony of the Fall, the terror of it, but never that it might be joyful. Lucifer had not wanted to fall, but neither had he wanted to serve, and as Jace gathered Clary close against him, closer than he had ever thought they could be, he wondered if it was only in the act of falling that one could be truly free.'" 

Veronica closed the book and stared expectantly at Dean, eyebrows raised. He was confused. What was he supposed to see that she seemed to think it was so damn clear? 

"One more time," he said, "Like I'm five." 

Veronica grabbed his head desperately and forced him to look at her. "He didn't fall for you, Dean'" she spoke softly, truly as if she was speaking to a five-year-old, "He fell for freedom," she said, "Whether you love him how he wants you to, or you don't, he has a choice." 

"But," Dean started before Veronica forcibly shook his head, making him slightly dizzy. 

"You're not hearing me," she said, "Cas fell for you after he had already fallen," she paused, letting the words sink in, "He always liked you, but we're talking about leaving everything he's ever known," she slowly started to let go of his head, but he didn't move. "He didn't make that decision lightly, and he certainly didn't make it for you," Dean found himself gripping the sheets of the bed, holding on as he felt in the edge of a cliff, about to fall down. He could feel something building up, and Veronica's words slowly cleared the fog away, creating a crack in his well-built wall.

"He struggled with disobedience every time he made a decision," she continued, "And when he finally did let go, after discovering Uriel's messed up ways and talking to Anna, mind you," Dean looked up at that, "He felt freedom for the first time, and that is why he fell, that is why heaven hunted him down all those years ago and tried to put him back together into the good little soldier he was," Veronica said, "Knowing he could do more, be more, that he could right wrongs, Cas could never go back to the life of a servant of heaven. Not when he had a choice," Veronica smiled, finally stepping away, "Choice is a powerful thing, when it's unknown to you.

"And so Cas realized there was a world of possibilities out there. He chose his mission, not because of you, but because he finally had a morality made out of his own judgment. Not heaven's, not yours, not anyone else's."

Even then, Veronica felt Dean's mind fighting back. But she had slipped through, and there was no going back now. The wall was not enough to keep this passionate fan away. 

"How the two of you feel about each other, that was not born one day out of nowhere. It developed from the friendship you two already had, once Cas was a full individual, someone who wasn't ruled by anything other than himself," she said, finally softening her voice, "He chose you, you jackass, and you chose him long before then. So stop blaming yourself for every scratch in that angel and start healing each other."

Dean was silent, a frown on his face. But he did not seem mad. If Veronica was reading his expression correctly, as she usually did, he was confused. 

Understanding his need to process, as Dean always did with life-altering realizations, Veronica stood up to leave. 

Before walking out though, she leaned in and whispered one more thing. "You know what it's like to live without him, Dean," Veronica pointed out. And then, with no shame, she quoted one of her favorite fanfics. "In a world like ours, it's never or forever," she said, "Choose forever. What are you waiting for?"

Through the confusion he felt, Dean noticed Veronica leaving the room. A few minutes later she walked in again, with a bottle of some kind of alcohol in her hand. 

She handed him the bottle before speaking, "Room's all yours for the next few hours," he thanked her silently. He didn't think he could move without his head falling off his body. "And just so you know," she added, "I don't think he knew he was in love with you until Naomi tortured him." 

With that, she left the room and closed the door behind her, leaving Dean alone with his thoughts and a bottle of whiskey.

Not too long later, they would both look at that moment as the way their friendship got started. At least for a little while, before things changed. 

That day though, Sam was surprised, and kind of impressed, when Veronica walked into the kitchen and with a certainty in her voice declared "I fixed your brother." 

"Was he broken?" Sam asked jokingly. He was sitting with a cup of what she could only assume was some kind of tea, his laptop open in front of him. 

"Oh please, don't act like you didn't know. It's been a pinefest with those two for far too long," Sam smiled, making the connection, "It'll take a bit," she said, "But I got through."

Sam scoffed, incredulous. "Nobody has gotten through to Dean since..." He thought for a few seconds, "No one has actually gotten through to him." 

"Trust me on this one," Veronica smiled, her mind drifting off to that ocean of Destiel knowledge that occupied so much of her mind. 

"If you say so," Sam said, dismissing the possibility and looking back to the computer. 

"Caught a case?" Veronica asked, grabbing a cup and filling it with coffee before sitting down. 

"Yes, actually," Sam answered, "Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Two nights ago, a couple was found dead, throats ripped out, drained of blood."

"Vampires?" Veronica asked, taking a sip of her coffee. 

"That's what I'm thinking," Sam said. 

"We leave tomorrow morning?" Veronica wondered. Sam stared at her before shaking his head. 

"You shouldn't be coming with us, you know," he said, "You're not a hunter."

"Sam," Veronica rolled her eyes, "I've helped you guys with research already and I helped out on a hunt," she said, "I like reading but if I touch another book in this bunker I will burn it down." 

"Veronica..." Sam started. 

"No, Sam," Veronica interrupted, "I'm not stupid, you know," she said, "I know you're hiding something from me."

"What?" Sam looked startled. Veronica scoffed before answering. 

"You may not know me that well Sam, but I know you perfectly," she said, "I knew you were all hiding something the moment you came out of the kitchen that first day." 

Sam seemed lost for words. Veronica absorbed the confidence boost, Sam wasn't often without words. But he would be again in a few minutes.

"It's fine," she continued, "Whatever it is, I don't care. But I don't want to stay here anymore." 

"You don't want to know?" Sam asked cautiously. Veronica shook her head. 

"I trust you, even if you don't trust me," she answered. Sam relaxed, relief flooding his face. Veronica chuckled. 

"You still don't know how to hunt," Sam said, pointing a finger at her. 

"I know how to fight, how to shoot, and I probably have better aim than you do anyway," Veronica answered. Sam raised his eyebrows questioning that statement. Veronica shrugged, "My family likes guns."

"Fine," Sam said, giving up, "We'll wait till morning then. Dean's emotional hangover will be mostly gone and he'll be more tolerable." 

Just then, a faraway shout took their attention away from the conversation. They heard the words "Holy shit" clear as day before a door opened and Dean's running footsteps approached the kitchen. He stopped in the doorway, an image that neither Sam nor Veronica had never even imagined they'd see in their lifetimes.

Dean looked absolutely and undoubtedly joyful. His eyes shined with a hope Veronica had never seen, not even back in season one, and that was so rare she noticed even Sam had been stunned into silence. 

"Holy shit," he repeated, looking at Veronica. She, in turn, smiled as wide as she could, teeth and all, before handing him her phone, the call to Cas already ringing. Dean hastily took the phone from her hand before running out of the kitchen. 

"Holy shit," she heard next to her. She turned to look at Sam, who was looking at the place his brother had been not two seconds ago. "You did it," Sam said, incredulous, "You actually did it." 

Veronica chuckled before standing up to go to her room. She'd need to pack now that she was going on a hunt. "I am a lady of many talents, Samuel," she said before putting her now empty cup in the dishwasher and walking towards the door. 

"I might have to hire you to deal with my love life then," he said jokingly. 

My love life.

My love life.

Sam.

"Holy shit," Veronica whispered, her eyes rapidly watering. She had stopped walking and now looked as if she had seen a ghost. 

But it was worse, so much worse. 

How could she, of all people, forget? How could she not realize it before?

"What have I done?" She asked out loud, Sam quickly standing up, worry all over his face. That wouldn't last long, she thought, not after he realizes what I didn't

Overwhelming sadness overcame her as that one word rang through her head. It hadn't been spoken in so long, but it was now so loud. 

Gabriel.