Anna stands in the bathroom doorway slowly brushing out her long hair as she watches John get dressed. A small smile plays around her lips as he buttons his shirt then stands to tuck it into his jeans. His body may be out of her sight but it’s certainly not out of her mind. When he looks up to see her eyes on him he grins and crosses the room to take her in his arms.
“I’m trying to get ready,” she protests softly but slides her arms around his neck and lifts her face to him in invitation.
“You’re beautiful,” he murmurs, his eyes drinking her in. She looks essentially the same as when he met her more than six years ago despite the literal Hell she’s been through. There are a few more lines around her eyes and mouth and her body is firmer with muscle from long hours of training. But the only really significant difference is the 20 pound weight loss that took place while she was in a comatose state. He still thinks she’s too thin but he certainly can’t argue with the pleasing way she fills out her jeans. His grin widens.
She traces his lips with a fingertip. “You’re thinking naughty thoughts,” she murmurs, her eyes sparkling.
As if to confirm it he dips his head down and kisses her softly. Their tongues dance lightly together and she loves the way his beard and mustache tickle her skin. She tosses the brush heedlessly aside and runs her hands through his thick dark hair, pressing her body tightly against him. With a growl in the back of his throat he lifts her and carries her to the bed.
They lie together kissing hungrily, their bodies on fire with mutual need. His hands caress her through her clothes and she arches into him as his mouth moves down her throat. But when he starts to unbutton her blouse she grabs his hand to stop him.
“We…have to…meet…Dean and…Ladona,” she pants.
He drops his face onto her chest with a groan. His voice is muffled as he answers, “I know. Damn.”
She laughs and he raises his head to look into her face questioningly. She touches his cheek softly, her eyes dancing. “Aren’t you supposed to get tired of me now that we’re a boring old married couple?”
The dark desire in his eyes makes her shiver but he answers blandly, “Oh, I’m already tired of you. Just didn’t wanna hurt your feelings.”
They laugh together as she continues to stroke his bearded cheek. “Ah, I see. So the shower this morning was just…charity?”
He shrugs. “What can I say? It’s not in me to refuse a lady.”
She pulls him down into a thorough kiss. “Did I mention how absolutely mind blowing that was? I practically ate my own arm!”
She laughs but he doesn’t join her this time. His eyes fill with concern as he asks, “Are you really okay?”
“Yeah. I just…” She blows out her breath and shakes her head. “I just really got carried away I guess.” She looks away then forces her gaze back to John’s. She’s been wondering whether she should tell him and now seems like an opportune time. “I…this isn’t the first time I’ve hurt myself worse than I thought. This is the first time I didn’t feel anything at all but…” She smiles mischievously. “I attribute that to excessive distraction.”
He looks more upset than she expected. His mind races to all the times he injured her during training…is that what she’s talking about? “How often does this happen?” he asks sharply.
Oh, he’s definitely not taking this well. She shrugs and drops her eyes. “Only a few times,” she says evasively. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
He grasps her chin gently and forces her to meet his gaze. “How often, Anna?”
Tears shine in her eyes. “A lot,” she finally admits.
“How often when I hurt you in training and you said it wasn’t that bad were you lying?” he says furiously.
She gulps. She’s tempted to lie again but suspects it’ll be better if she just comes clean. “A…a lot.”
He looks both stunned and angry. Then an even more horrible thought occurs to him. “And what about in bed?” he whispers.
She smiles and touches his cheek. “Never in bed, darling.”
“Until today,” he snaps and rolls away from her.
She sits up and runs her fingers through her hair. He’s pacing angrily and she knows it’ll do no good to talk to him when he’s like this. She watches him, feeling utterly miserable and wishing to Heaven she’d just kept her mouth shut. Why exactly did she think telling him was a good idea?
He stops in front of her and yanks her roughly to her feet. But his hand caressing her face is feather soft. “I broke your cheek that day, didn’t I?” he asks.
The pain in his eyes and voice is too much and she turns away. It happened a few weeks into her combat training. They were practicing hand to hand fighting and she didn’t duck when she should have. John came at her with a slow roundhouse kick and she took the blow full in the face. Next thing she knew she was sprawled on the hard ground and it felt like the side of her head had exploded. John was at her side in an instant, apologizing and asking if she was all right. She checked for loose teeth and, finding none, nodded even though it made the world all swimmy to do so.
“Yes,” she softly answers his question after several minutes. “I didn’t realize it for a couple of hours. The pain just wouldn’t go away and you were gone to town so I went to
John’s voice pulls Anna out of her reverie. “Why didn’t you tell me?” His anguish rips at her heart.
She turns to face him. “Because I knew you’d blame yourself,” she answers softly. “But it’s not about you. It’s just…” She sighs. “I talked to
But he’s backing away from her shaking his head. “No, I won’t allow you to be hurt anymore.”
Anger flashes through her like lightning and she advances on him, her green eyes ablaze. She keeps her voice low so as not to advertise their argument to Dean and Ladona next door but he feels the hot fury in it. “You don’t own me, John Winchester! You don’t tell me what to do and you sure as hell don’t ‘allow’ anything! If that’s the kind of wife you want then this marriage is over and you can go to-”
“Hell?” he interrupts softly, his own eyes flashing. “No thanks, babe, I’ve already been there,” he spits.
“Well, so have I!” She stands staring at him, her breath coming in sharp angry gasps. His words took the wind out of her sails though and she doesn’t know what else to say. What else is there anyway? Either he accepts her or not but she’s not going to be relegated to being “the little woman” who stays home to cook and clean while her husband risks his life. She smiles thinly. Actually, that reminds her that she does have something else to say. Poking him in the chest with one finger she hisses, “And in all your concern about protecting me have you forgotten it’s you who decides when we die? So who needs protecting now?”
She sees she hit her mark as his eyes widen in shock but whirls and stomps into the bathroom before he can respond, slamming the door behind her. She considers locking it but decides not to. John’s likely to break the damn thing down if she does. Stubborn bastard! She paces angrily in the small space, trying to get a handle on her temper. How dare he treat her like any of this is even her fault when he’s the reason she went to Hell in the first place!?!
John stands with his eyes closed and his fists clenched. Anna’s last words were like cold water thrown in his face. He knows she’s right, about that and about him refusing to train her if he’d realized her injuries were more serious than she let on. But he also knows it wasn’t his decision to make. She was coming into the field one way or another and the only safe thing to do was teach her how to hunt.
He smiles ruefully. God, she’s beautiful in her anger! Her fiery red hair, her snapping eyes, her slightly flushed cheeks. He has the sudden overwhelming urge to kick open the door between them and make love to her on the bathroom floor. He actually pictures doing just that for a moment before gathering himself and knocking gently instead.
Anna stands looking at the door indecisively. Should she open it? Is he really not angry or just…just what, she thinks disgustedly. Trying to draw me out? Trick me into revealing myself? She rolls her eyes at such paranoid thoughts, grasps the handle firmly, and pulls the door open.
“I’m sorry,” he says immediately, forcing his eyes to remain on her face even as he aches to touch her body.
She studies him for a moment with narrowed eyes. Is it just her imagination or…no, it’s definitely not her imagination. Her own body is responding to the dark desire in his eyes. They haven’t had many real fights so she’s not sure if it’s normal to go from fury to lust like this.
He sees the confusion in her eyes and stops trying to fight his desire. She doesn’t protest when he gently pulls her into his arms but places a hand against his chest when he tries to kiss her. “John.” Her voice is thick with need but there are things that must be said before they go any further. “I…I am sorry about not telling you the truth. I hated keeping that from you. But you need to know that I wasn’t trying to hurt you. And…after I understood the problem I started being much more careful, paying closer attention to any pain I felt. I can take a lot more than most and I just…have to be vigilant.” She shrugs. “Today was an anomaly. I got carried away.”
He caresses her cheek softly, the one he broke without even knowing. “I shouldn’t have overreacted like that. I wish you’d told me the truth but…you’re right. I wouldn’t have taken it any better then.” He smiles sadly. “I just don’t want you to be hurt anymore after all you’ve suffered. And to know I hurt you-”
She silences him with her fingers across his lips. “John, everyone gets injured during training.” She smiles ironically. “You can’t very well learn how to fight without taking a few punches and kicks. And I think I gave out a few good ones myself. There were days when you were the one sporting bruises if I remember correctly.”
He chuckles. “Yeah, you hit damn hard for such a small woman.”
She smacks him playfully on the chest. “At least I didn’t shoot you,” she replies archly. “And, believe me, there were days when I was sorely tempted.” She caresses his cheek. “How about we just not keep any more secrets from each other?” She immediately feels a twinge of guilt thinking of the confidence she and Skye agreed to keep for Ladona. But that’s not really what we’re talking about, she tells herself, so it doesn’t count.
He hesitates the merest fraction of a second before nodding agreement. “Deal.” There are a couple of secrets involving Skye he’s never shared with her or anyone else. He tells himself those are necessary to keep though. Revealing them would have nothing but negative consequences and cause their loved ones unneeded pain. Still, he feels guilty making a promise he can’t fully keep.
“You have to promise me one more thing,” she says and he can tell by her expression it’s something he won’t like but he just raises his eyebrows questioningly. “You can’t worry about me getting hurt.” He starts to protest but she silences him with her fingers again. “No, listen. If you get distracted thinking about my safety during a hunt you’ll get both of us killed.” She smiles and traces his lips with a fingertip. “And the absolute last thing I want is for you to be afraid to make love to me passionately. I promise not to lose control again and hurt myself. So…deal?”
He searches her face. This is not a promise he wants to make. How can he not worry? Yet he knows she’s right; he’s even considered what would happen if he got distracted worrying about her during a hunt. Which is one of the reasons he’s kept her mostly sheltered up ‘til now.
She can see how torn he is but refuses to drop her gaze. If he can’t at least promise to try then they have a problem that might well be insurmountable. Because she can’t endanger him but she also can’t be apart from him.
Finally he nods reluctantly. “I’ll try my best, love. That’s all I can promise.”
Relief washes over her. “Good enough.” Then she kisses him, pressing her body against him.
He buries his hands in her silky hair as their tongues dance together. His need for her is obvious but time’s up. They part reluctantly, both breathing hard.
“Damn kids,” she murmurs, only half kidding.
He grins. “Later.” She shivers at the promise in his voice and eyes but can only nod. He touches her hair softly. “You need to find your brush, sweetie. I messed up your hair.”
“It was well worth it.” She winks at him then goes in search of her brush.
He watches her, a heaviness settling around his heart. He’s even more afraid now than he was earlier. But he consoles himself with the fact that Dean and Ladona are both experienced hunters and they’re here to help now.
Celeste stands at the edge of the trees in the cold morning air watching. She’s good at that; she’s had centuries of practice although she looks no older than 35. Her forest green hooded cloak conceals all but her corpse white hands holding it closed. She blends perfectly into the trees but even without such concealment her glamour makes her invisible to anyone who cares to look. And those she watches most assuredly are not looking.
The two men and two women sitting comfortably in a booth in the warmth of the diner seem no different than any other tourists on the surface. But she sensed him the moment he entered town and had to come see with her own eyes, had to make sure. Her discreet inquiries told her he’s using a different name. She smiles coldly. Not that names matter. She knew the moment she set eyes on him that it was the same man. Twenty years older of course…but neither names nor the passage of time can mask an aura.
She looks hatefully at the bearded man. Because of him her god was driven into slumber weeks earlier than planned 20 years ago. Because of him her god awakened weak from lack of sustenance. Because of him her people have had to provide additional sacrifices this time…sacrifices that have not gone unnoticed.
Her mouth twists into a snarl. And because of him her beautiful face is marked forever. She was glad to take the blow intended to kill her god…but the scar along her cheek that magic can conceal but not erase has been a constant reminder of this man who, for the first time in her god’s long life, threatened his existence.
Now he will pay and in the most precious currency imaginable.
She whirls and disappears into the trees, leaving no trace whatsoever of her presence. Her journey to the cave is short, aided by her magic. She pulls off the cloak as she enters the chamber where her god resides. Sinking to one knee, she bows her head and waits for him to acknowledge her presence.
“Arise, my follower.” His voice is resonant yet soft, like an iron fist encased in a velvet glove. She shivers slightly at the image as she obeys his command.
His burning eyes search the darkness behind her. “Where is my sacrifice?” he demands.
Before the storm clouds gathered on his brow can be let loose she quickly explains, “He is back, my god. The man who…” Her voice trails off and her hand moves unconsciously to the ugly scar on her face.
The god’s eyes narrow. “Is he aware of my return?” For the first time it occurs to him that the taking of so many sacrifices in such a short time may have been unwise but he quickly dismisses the idea. Gods do not make mistakes.
“I believe so,” she says softly. “But I have excellent news.”
He tilts his head slightly to study her flushed face. She obviously hurried to bring him this news so it must be good indeed. With a wave of his hand he responds, “Proceed.”
She smiles. “He brings others this time. No doubt to assist him.”
The god’s eyebrows draw together. “This is excellent news?” His tone is low and threatening.
“No, my god. The good news is that two of them are women. One is a witch. And the other…” She pauses for effect then delivers the coup de grace. “The other is his wife.”
The god’s eyes widen then a slow smile spreads across his face. “This truly is excellent news, my beauty.” He turns and begins to pace. When he faces her again he is laughing. “You are indeed my most loyal follower. And you above all others will be rewarded for your service.”Smiling, she bows her head deferentially. But her heart sings at her god’s praise. Perhaps this time…she scarcely allows herself to hope but…perhaps this time he will choose her as his mate.