Warnings: mild use of adult language
Summary: Post-Supernatural season 6 finale; Chloe Sullivan, who has been helping Castiel fight the war for souls, steps into Sam and Dean's lives and makes quite an impression.
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Dean's eyes bugged out of his skull and Sam's jaw fell open slightly.
"What the hell did you just say?" Dean demanded.
Chloe checked her watch. "The pizza should be here in five," she informed them. "Can I get either of you a beer? I've got some coronas," she murmured, heading for the kitchen.
The brothers looked at one another.
"Did she just say–"
"She was coming with us?" Dean finished. "Oh yeah, and hell no," he said, rising and heading after her.
He found Chloe in her kitchen, attempting to reach something in a cabinet over her head. She glanced over her shoulder when Dean walked in and smiled at him. "Awesome. Gimme a hand here?"
"You're not coming with us." He crossed his arms and planted his feet.
She rolled her eyes. "Fine, don't help me." She pulled a chair up from the small round table and set in front of the counter. Holding the back of it carefully she stepped onto it to reach the beer mugs. "And yes," she said as she successfully obtained three mugs, "I am coming with you. You need me."
Dean raised an eyebrow at her arrogance and the precarious way she was trying to lower herself from the chair with three mugs clutched in her arms, one in great danger of dropping to the floor. He walked over and took two of the mugs from her, setting them down on the island and turning around to find her just over an inch away. He forgot his comeback momentarily as she blushed and backed up a step. What, now she's shy? Two days ago she didn't mind laying one on me, he thought irritably at her inconsistency. "We don't need you," he said instead, giving her a threatening look.
Her eyes glanced at the doorway behind Dean and she lowered her voice, "Um, yes, yes you do."
"What do you mean?" his eyes narrowed.
This time her eyes darted away evasively and she ducked away from Dean for the fridge. Grabbing three bottles of corona, she proceeded to pop the caps with a bottle-opener as she spoke. "I'm worried for Sam."
"What? He seems fine. You–"
"I may have fixed it. I don't know."
"What do you mean 'you don't know?' You died! Doesn't that mean something?" he asked wildly.
Chloe took a deep breath and looked at him seriously. "Look–it's like I said, I've never done anything like that before. And I don't think anyone's ever experienced what Sam has before. That kind of damage…" she took a deep breath. "There's a chance it could manifest again."
"Manifest?" he echoed dubiously.
Her eyes darted toward the door a second time, not wanting Sam to overhear their conversation. "Look, the thing is that I just don't know. It makes me nervous. What happens if you get all the way across the country and suddenly he's back the way he was before I healed him?"
Dean swallowed nervously as the idea washed over them. It was true, there was nothing but time to tell them whether or not Sam was really going to be okay.
"It's just…well, for all I know I put a band-aid on the problem. That doesn't make it heal or stop it from getting infected. I just want to stick around for a while in case something goes wrong."
"And what happens if it does?"
She took a deep breath. "Well, then I do it again–"
"Die again? Look, I don't think–"
"And once it's over we find someone who can really help. Like Ariel."
"Ariel. The archangel of healing. I think she would be willing to help if I were the one asking," she said more to herself than to Dean. "But let's hope we don't have to do that."
"Uh, yeah," Dean said sarcastically. "I think I've had about enough of angels for the next couple of years, thanks."
She shot him a chastising look. "The point is, I need to tag along with you guys for a while. And yes, I'll be the first to admit I'm just tagging along. I'm not a hunter by any means. And I'll do my best to help when I can but otherwise stay out of your way. In the meantime, I'm going to be trying to figure out what's going on in Heaven." She paused for a moment then, as if suddenly aware of how strange that statement was, even for her.
"And what about–I dunno. Don't you have family and crap? People who are going to wonder what you're doing with two guys you know nothing about?"
For some reason, Dean noticed, Chloe got very closed off, her voice implying that should he question her further on the topic, he would regret it. "There's no one to miss me. I haven't been in touch with friends or family for a while." It was true. The last time she'd e-mailed Lois had been about a month ago. Lois didn't worry because she had been told that Chloe occasionally traveled to places without internet access. Still, she thought, I need to get back to her soon.
"And you're sure we're not going to be arrested for kidnapping a week from now?" he asked, clutching at excuses not to take her.
She grinned. "Pretty sure. But you could always brush up on your harmonica playing just in case," she teased.
Before Dean could retort, the phone rang and Chloe left him to answer it. "Hello?" she asked. "Yes, put it on my account and send it up. Thank you." She hung up. "Pizza's here," she called from the living room to Dean, who was still in the kitchen.
Shaking his head and muttering about all the ways this could go wrong, Dean joined Chloe and his brother, who was clacking away on the computer, the blonde leaning over his shoulder with interest. Sam looked up questioningly when Dean entered, but Dean just shoved his hands in his pockets and asked, "So what've you got?"
"Poltergeist in Florida, from the looks of it," he said.
Chloe smiled. "Ooh, I'll pack my swimsuit, then."
Two days later, Chloe was sitting in the backseat of the '67 Chevy Impala, ignoring the telephone lines streaming endlessly past her window, the sun setting in the background. Instead, she was deeply absorbed in something on her iPad. At a rapid pace she slid through window after window, eyes skimming each detail with an air of someone who was absorbing every last letter.
Sam eventually, as an excuse to turn down the blaring radio, turned around in his seat to ask what she was doing.
"Researching poltergeists," she said simply, without looking up.
He chuckled. "Really?"
The corner of her mouth twitched. "I was curious."
"What've you learned so far?"
"That the movie Poltergeist really wasn't quite as far off as one would think."
Sam smiled a little grimly. "Yeah. Well, I'll leave you to it, then," he said.
She nodded absently before he turned around.
Dean's eyes were on the road, but he listened to the brief exchange with interest. He glanced at her studious form in his rear-view mirror. "So what did you do before you were touched by an angel?" he asked with a trace of sarcasm.
He kept an eye on her reflection and raised an eyebrow at her unusual reaction to his question. She looked up from the iPad and blinked, her mouth opening and closing once before she answered.
"I…" she frowned. "Um, well, I was a reporter for a while."
"Like, newspaper or broadcast journalism?" Sam asked curiously.
"Newspaper. Definitely," she said with conviction. She paused thoughtfully. "And then for a while I worked for Queen Industries," she seemed to decide at length.
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Kind of an odd job leap, isn't it?"
She looked out the window. "I guess."
Dean was about to ask what made her change jobs, but caught the warning look on Sam's face just in time. And indeed, when he glanced at Chloe in the mirror again, there was a very distant expression on her face, her eyes staring unseeingly out at the landscape rolling by.
The brothers raised their eyebrows at one another and then let it go for the moment, though Dean stored away a mental note about her strange behavior regarding her past. The next time he and Sam were alone, he was going to have Sam do a little research on their blonde companion.
A road sign listing a few motels and their distance in miles caught Sam's attention and he checked his watch. "I say we grab some dinner and crash for the night," he said.
Chloe didn't say anything in the back, her attention far away, but Dean nodded and pulled off at the next exit.
They went to a diner for dinner, and Chloe listened intently as Sam and Dean discussed the upcoming case, in which there had been suspicious circumstances at a beach house. the previous owner had died due to what the authorities had labeled a "gas leak." The current owners complained of electrical and structural problems.
At the motel, while Chloe raised no eyebrows at the quality of their proposed residence, she did insist on paying for the rooms, saying she might as well, since she was the only one with a legitimate credit card. Not having much argument for that logic, the boys had given in rather quickly and allowed her to purchase two adjoining rooms.
To Sam and Dean's surprise, Chloe vanished into her room almost immediately, saying she would see them in the morning and to sleep well.
Once separated from her companions, Chloe breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn't realized how much she was subconsciously dreading questions about her past. When Dean asked what she used to do, it was like a montage of all the awful moments of the past couple of years flashed before her eyes. What did she used to do? The question made her cringe. She used to have almost. Almost was a wonderful and horrible thing at the same time. She was always almost where she wanted to be. Almost making a career at the Daily Planet. Almost married to a good man who loved her. Almost a hero. Almost happy.
She shook her head. She'd been doing a good thing since Castiel came into her life. Making up for past transgressions. She regretted that Castiel had gone so far off script, but things would turn out right; she was sure of it.
Nodding absently to herself in harmony with her now-ritualistic reassurances, Chloe sat down to her laptop and began the dreaded task of e-mailing Lois. She found she actually had an e-mail from Lois waiting on her.
When, when, when are you going to come home for a visit! I'm missing my cousin like crazy! It's almost like the dark years. You know, before I came to Smallville and we only saw each other on holidays. Dark years, Chloe. Dark years. I can tell Clark misses you, too, and Oliver actually asked me about you the last time I saw him. I didn't even realize you two had gotten to be such good friends. (Consider that last a question. When did you two get to be such good friends?)
Things at the Planet are good. Clark stood me up for a date. Jerk. And don't try telling me to give him a second chance. I will if he earns it. But until then he's going to have to do a lot of penance. I don't like being stood up.
Oh right…by the way I've decided I have a crush on Clark and he asked me out last week. Sorry, I forget what I have and haven't told you about. (It would help if you replied more often!)
Anyway, shit's been generally hitting the fan, and if my baby cousin doesn't get back to me soon, I'm going to be forced to conclude that you've been eaten by cannibals in South America. And then Clark will have to avenge your death, and we know how well THAT will go…
Mad Love, Lo
Chloe smiled a little guilty at her cousin's sarcasm. Obviously it had been longer than Chloe realized since she last contacted Lois. She couldn't say she was surprised by the new development Lois and Clark's relationship. That had been a long time coming.
Scanning through the rest of her inbox, Chloe realized that true to Lois's ominous hint, there was actually an e-mail from Oliver as well.
I'm still not sure where it is you've run off to, and the only thing stopping me from sending someone after you is that Lois assures me she hears from you and knows you're safe.
If this is really about your career as a journalist, you know I would get you a job closer to home in a heartbeat.
The team and I miss you. Let me know how you're doing, and we'll talk.
CEO Queen Industries
Chloe sighed when she reached the end of this particular correspondence. Thanks to Castiel's Vulcan Mind Meld, her friends didn't remember anything about her marriage to Jimmy, but they did remember her ill-fated relationship with Davis. She would never forget the look in Oliver's eyes when he asked her when she became one of the bad guys. Even though the team now believed that separating Davis from Doomsday had been successful, that didn't erase her guilt over what had really happened. She didn't have the stomach to go back and see the team's trusting, smiling faces. She was too ashamed.
Deciding not to decide whether she should respond to Oliver, she opened a reply to Lois's e-mail, her fingers hovering over the keyboard hesitantly. Breathing a sigh, she leaned her head on her hand, resting her elbow on the desk, trying to think of what to say.