Author Topic: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)  (Read 107 times)

Ayden

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A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« on: August 28, 2012, 03:16:02 PM »
The bed was strange. The room was full of unfamiliar shadows. The house made strange noises. But none of these were the true reason why, barely three hours after falling to sleep, Ayden was awake again, dressed, staring out the window into the dawn over the scrap yard that seemed to surround the blue house she'd been brought to. She'd managed a couple of hours, but there had been nothing to keep the nightmares at bay, no one there to hold back the darkness and give her peace a little while longer. She felt raw, frayed around the edges, startled by every little creak or groan from the floorboards or walls, certain that it was the angels returning for her.

When, after almost an hour of watching the sun rise, she realised she couldn't stay in here forever, that the residents of the house would be rising any time soon, Ayden drew herself away from the window, pulling on her college sweatshirt as she made her way to the door. The house was quiet still, the upstairs corridor coming to life with the sounds of sleeping breath behind doors as she crept past, making barely any sound on the stairs. She needed fresh air, to feel the sun and appreciate that it was real, and her feet took her straight to the side door by the kitchen without noticing if anyone was still up down here. And there, out in what had to be where Bobby fixed what could be fixed before selling it on, was a sight she hadn't seen in years.

There, sleek and dark and shining in the gentle gold of the dawning sun, was the first good impression John Winchester had made on her twelve-year old self. A '67 Chevy Impala, beautifully maintained; the car that had inspired her to find and buy her own car, back in Madison. A car she hadn't seen since she was thirteen. She'd thought he'd gotten rid of it; he must have given it to Dean or Sam instead. Unexpectedly, Ayden felt tears prick her eyes, even as a small smile touched her lips. She reached out, laying soft fingers against the gorgeous car's hood, murmuring a quiet greeting to the Impala. "Hey, baby."

As for Dean, he had just as much trouble sleeping, but for different reasons. He'd crashed on the couch, hoping to catch a few hours' sleep before the house started to wake, but after an hour or so of tossing and turning, he'd given up. Lying there on the couch, he'd gone over the events of the last few days, over and over in his head, trying to sort out what the options were and still coming out with the same solution to the problem - saying yes. But saying yes to Michael meant Sam saying yes to Lucifer and more than likely killing each other. It was a solution that no one wanted; it was a worst case scenario, a last resort, but Dean wasn't seeing many alternatives.

He heard movement upstairs, light footsteps on the stairs, and he knew without doubt that his newfound sister was having as much trouble sleeping as he was. He listened as she moved quietly through the house, tracking her footsteps in his head, down the stairs, through the house to the back door near the kitchen, and out into the yard. He wasn't afraid of her going anywhere, as there was nowhere to go, and she'd come here for protection. He wasn't afraid of any harm coming to her, so long as she stayed close. He heard the door bang quietly shut and frowned thoughtfully. It seemed as good a time as any to meet his baby sister. He had to do it sooner or later, and he wouldn't have to worry about competition from Sam or dirty looks from Ellen or Bobby to egg him on.

After a while, he shoved a hand through his hair and dropped his feet to the floor, moving just as quietly through the house to the kitchen, where he poured two cups of coffee and slipped out the back door to have a Folgers moment with a girl who was as much a stranger as his flesh and blood.

What greeted him when he stepped from the house was a scene that most men who were a little precious about their cars might have objected to. Ayden was on the far side of the Impala, her back to him as she leaned against the hood comfortably. One hand was tucked into her sweater; the other stretched out on the shining paintwork, fingertips gently stroking the car as she talked, oblivious to her new audience. "Kinda figures you'd still be going strong," she was saying, speaking to the car as Dean stepped out into the freshness of the morning. "I never got why he switched up to that monster truck, but then I didn't really know about the others then. All I knew was that his cool car was gone. Probably just as well - I don't think he would have forgiven me for bleeding all over you, baby."

But Dean wasn't most men. Though his baby was his most precious possession, he noticed how she touched the hood with an almost loving caress; how she talked to her with familiar fondness, as though she was an old friend. Dean realized this was not the first time she'd met his baby, and she felt a pang of jealousy or envy, wondering just what kind of relationship she'd had with his - no, their - father. Be polite, Dean, he told himself, reminded of what Ellen had told him. He came up quietly, a cup of coffee in each hand. "She's a beauty, isn't she?" he asked, making idle conversation to start them off. "I found her in a used car lot back in Lawrence. Dad wanted a van, but..." He shrugged his shoulders before handing her a cup of coffee, black.

Ayden's reaction would have been funny if it hadn't been so heartbreaking. She jumped, a gasp tearing its way from her throat as she lurched out of her lean to spin about and face Dean, green eyes wide with fright and wary shock. Zachariah had done quite a number on her if even a gentle greeting like that could frighten the girl. Realising that Dean wasn't about to make her start spontaneously bleeding or yell at her for abusing his car, she drew in a shaky breath, forcing herself to calm down as her hand wrapped about the offered cup. "Thank you," she managed, remembering her manners in lieu of anything else to say. Her eyes turned back to the Impala, red-rimmed and dark with fatigued bruises. "Is that why he got the truck in the end?" she asked curiously, grateful for the segue into conversation that wasn't too heavy. "Because he didn't want her?"

Dean smiled, both at the memory her question triggered and just out of pure instinct. Whether he realized it or not, he was, by instinct and by habit, a protector of those he deemed needing protecting. Whatever his personal feelings in the matter might be, it was plain to see that she was frightened and needed someone with a calm demeanor to make her feel safe and welcome. "No, because I turned sixteen and wanted to drive. I used to take her out without his permission, and he finally just let me have her." He sipped at his coffee, slanting a glance at the sky as the sun rose over the piles of scrap metal in Bobby's yard. "Here's to another sunrise," he said, lifting his cup in celebration. No one knew that he secretly thanked a God he only half believed every morning at sunrise for another day.

"So I guess it was a fluke those two times he had her when he came to Windom," Ayden murmured thoughtfully. She was relieved by his smile, reassured that the big brother who'd been conspicuous by his absence the night before wasn't actively avoiding her. She even managed to raise a wan smile at his description of wearing their father down. But it didn't last. His benediction to the rising sun wiped the smile clean from her face, and she hurriedly ducked her head, hiding behind the fall of brown hair as her throat tightened. There was one person who'd never see another sunrise again, and the loss was like a brand on her heart. It would take a long time to be able to feel anything but pain at such thoughts.
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Ayden

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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 03:21:51 PM »
Sharp eyes looked her over, noticing the signs of weariness, of grief, of too much crying. He looked back and found her hiding behind a curtain of brown hair and frowned, wondering if it was something he'd said, wondering if there was anything he could possibly say that wouldn't cause her to feel the pain of loss so intensely, remembering his own pain, only slightly diminished with the passage of time. They say time heals all wounds, but Dean knew that wasn't really true. It only made them easier to bear. "I'm sorry about your mom. Zachariah is a dick and he's gonna pay for what he did."

It was the right thing to say, giving her something to hold onto, something to be angry about rather than dissolving into tears for the umpteenth time. "I want to watch," she said quietly, the fierce burn in her tone startling from someone who seemed so very fragile in that moment. She lifted her coffee cup to her lips, taking a sip and managing not to make a face. It wasn't his fault he hadn't added any sugar. "He didn't tell you anything about me, did he?" she said quietly, staring at the rows of tools and spare parts that lined the walls of the lean-to. "John. He just ... hid me away like some big dark secret he was ashamed of."

A small, almost pleased, smile touched Dean's lips at her reply to his promise. There was definitely a Winchester in there somewhere. Where Sam might have said no and insisted she stay as far away from Zachariah as possible, Dean understood the need for retribution. He'd been the one who'd killed Azazel, avenging both his mother and father's deaths. He'd been the one who'd killed Ruby, and he wanted to be the one to kill Zachariah. "I promise you when the time comes, you'll be there to see it."

He wasn't sure if it was a promise he'd be able to keep, and he knew the others might not think it a wise decision, but more than anyone else, he understood how important it was to her. That promise hung between them a moment before she spoke again, and he frowned as she turned the conversation back toward their father. "No, he never told us. If it's any comfort, I don't think he was ashamed of you, Ayden." Yes, he knew her name, and Ellen would be proud of him for using it. "I think he was just trying to protect you, to keep you from all this."

"It didn't work." Shifting her cup first from one hand, then to the other, Ayden rolled her sleeves to her elbows, turning her arms to show Dean the silvery-white lines of the two scars that marked her inner wrists. It had been five years since John's attempts to protect his daughter and her mother had come to nothing, but the scars remained. "I was fourteen when the monsters under my bed came back to get me for what he did to their father."

He flicked a glance to her arms, the shadow of a frown crossing his face, green eyes flashing with contempt for those who'd hurt her, whoever or whatever they were. Whether she was a stranger or not didn't matter, he'd dedicated his life to helping people and protecting them from the darkness few even knew existed, and his heart flared with anger and hatred and the desire, not only for vengeance, but justice. "They tried to bleed you out. What were they? Did he kill them?"

She shrugged, long since having come to terms with her first encounter with the truly scary. "He said they were ghouls," she told her brother quietly, curling both hands to the coffee cup once again. "Only they looked just like my best friend and her dad. He locked us down for three days after one of the local cops was killed, and he killed one of them when they tried to get into the house. And then he said it was all clear." She shook her head, remembering the betrayal of that premature reassurance only too well.

"After school the next day? I walked straight to my best friend's house to find out how "sick" she really was, and her father strapped me to a kitchen table and opened my veins. Dad killed him, but ..." Again, she shook her head, not really wanting to go back to the months that had followed. "I got time on a psych ward for that. Because, you know, all suicidal fourteen-year olds know exactly how to cut their own wrists cleanly."

Dean sensed some bitterness in her voice, partly aimed at John for not preparing her for the weirdness that he should have known would eventually intrude on her life and partly aimed at those who had not believed her and had blamed her for what had happened, not having the experience to understand she'd been telling the truth. He shook his head, frown deepening, the first thought crossing his mind, If only Dad had called, if only I'd been there. He wasn't sure how she'd react to his thoughts, to his gut feelings and reactions, but if there was going to be any bond forged between them, he wasn't going to start the relationship off by lying.

"He should have told you. He should have told us. He should have known he couldn't keep you in a gilded cage forever. This sh*t always comes for you eventually. I'm sorry you got dragged into this." It was Dean's turn to look away, turning his back to her as he contemplated the sunrise or his memory of his father, anger mingled with grief. He didn't want to be angry with him anymore. What was done was done, but sometimes it seemed anger was all he had left.

Ayden's gaze flickered skittishly to Dean and away again. She'd opened up more to him in ten minutes than she'd done for Sam in the hour he'd spent with her the night before, and couldn't help wondering why that was. Dean wasn't exactly being the warm big brother she'd always wanted, but the calm quiet, the listening without judging ... she needed that. How did he know? "He told me later," she heard herself say, not wanting to paint their father as the selfish man she believed him to be, not wanting to mar any memories Dean might have of the man. "On my fifteenth birthday, he answered almost all my questions. Gave me this, too."

Her hand rose to pull the necklace she always wore out from beneath the neck of her sweater, the twin charms that stood together as protection from possession sparkling against her fingers. "And he told me about you and Sam." A quiet snort of laughter betrayed that she wasn't as far gone in grief as she seemed. "I resented you so much. He was so proud of you, had so much good to say about you. And the way he talked about Sam, man ... And then there was me. The girl who wasn't even allowed to call her brothers because Daddy said no. He really laid that one down."

Of course, he did, Dean thought as he glanced to the protective charms that hung from a cord around her neck. It was more than he did for me, he thought with a twinge of jealousy, but then maybe he hadn't known about the charms until it was too late. "I bet he was," Dean remarked bitterly, believing he was never good enough in his father's eyes, never quite up to par as a hunter. Sam, now that was another subject. Despite all of John's apparent disapproval of his youngest son, Dean believed John was secretly proud of Sam for having the courage to try and break away from this life and make a life of his own.

"Yeah, well..." Dean took a lean against the side of the Impala and lifted his mug to his lips. "He didn't exactly gush about you either." He took a swallow of his coffee, the caffeine from the bitter liquid reviving him from weariness enough to get through at least another few hours without sleep. "If I'd known, I'd have been there, you know."

What did this tell her? That daddy issues ran in the family, or that for all John's trying, he'd let down all three of his children badly; Ayden wasn't sure which was worse. Dean's assurance that he would have been there for her if he'd known brought a shatteringly vulnerable look to her face, emphasising how young she was in comparison with her battle-hardened brothers. "I wish you had been," she told him softly. "Even before I knew about you, I'd have given anything to have someone looking out for me." She drew in a sharp breath, taking the plunge to lean back against the Impala beside him. "Look, I know I called at a bad time. Something big's going down and the last thing you need is me making things worse, but, for what it's worth ... thank you for being here now."
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Ayden

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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 03:25:29 PM »
He turned a surprised glance her way, one brow arched the way it always did when something took him offguard. I would have, too, he thought to himself, knowing without a doubt that had he known, he would have protected her with his life, just as he had Sam. She was a Winchester, after all. There was no reprimand when she took a lean beside him against the Impala, no more than he would have scolded Sam or Bobby or Ellen. He shrugged his shoulders and took another swallow of his coffee. "That's what family is for," he told her simply. No other explanation was necessary. In truth, there was no good time, and she clearly needed their help.

She held the silence for a long time, trying to come up with some way to get them both out of what could turn into something maudlin and uncomfortable very easily, sipping at her coffee as various lines rambled through her mind at varying speeds. The one that eventually made it to her lips was the one she expected the worst reaction from, though. "You are Dean, right? I haven't just made a connection with the mailman or Bobby's illegitimate love-child who lives in the cellar, have I?"

Unlike Sam, he didn't offer any false sense of security, no coddling, no patronizing, no soft soothing words. What she got with Dean was the blunt, honest truth, and promises he'd die trying to keep. Dean snorted at her question, amused at the very thought of Bobby having a love child stashed away somewhere without Ellen knowing about it. "No, I'm Dean. Live and in the flesh."

Her relief at not sparking a snapping reply with her obtuse groping for clarification brought the first truly genuine smile to Ayden's face as she looked at Dean properly in the gentle warmth of the rising sun. Her hand reached out, offering her palm to him. "Hi, I'm Ayden," she introduced herself properly. "Nice to meet you. Sorry I didn't hug, seems like I need to earn that right."

There was that eyebrow again, arching upwards at her formal introduction. He wasn't Sam; he wasn't the huggy type. Ellen was about the only one Dean ever showed any physical affection for, and even that was rare. He shifted the coffee mug to his left hand and reached to wrap his right hand around hers. "Nice to meet you, Ayden. Welcome to the family."

Her smile lingered longer than she would have expected, warming the pale cast of her features in the unflattering glare of sunlight as she squeezed her fingers around his hand, curiously aware of the callouses that marked his palm and fingers against the relatively smooth surface of her own skin. "Thanks, big bird." The cheeky nickname just slipped out, but she wasn't going to pull it back. Sam had already ended up being labelled "beanstalk", and that was going to stick. Chances were, even if Dean objected, he was going to be "big bird" until the day he died.

He snorted again, chuckling sarcastically. "I may be tall, but I'm not yellow." Whether he meant the color yellow or a euphemism for cowardice, he didn't say, allowing her to take him literally or figuratively or both. He retracted his hand and took another swallow of coffee, wincing at the taste of it and making a derisive sound that hinted at his displeasure. "This isn't coffee. It's sludge. Wanna go for a ride?" he asked, his face brightening at the very thought of getting away from the house for a while and taking her for a ride in his baby, not to mention picking up something that actually tasted like coffee.

Ayden's face brightened right along with his, her eyes flicking to the Impala excitedly for a moment. "Seriously? Either you take me for a drive, or I'm gonna hotwire her, and I don't think Sam would like it if you had to shoot me for stealing your baby." Humor like that proved she was one of them - who else could make a joke of being gunned down by their own brother for joyriding?

He chuckled, his mood lightening a little. Maybe Ellen was right. Maybe she was good for him, somehow. "Keep talking nice to me and one of these days, I might even let you drive." Now, that would be something to be proud of. Dean didn't even trust Sam with his baby half the time. He pushed off the Impala, hoping no one was up yet to want to tag along or talk them out of going. They wouldn't be gone long, and he'd take the necessary precautions. "I'll just be a minute." He reached for her cup, assuming she'd had enough sludge, as well. He wasn't going anywhere until he had his keys, wallet, jacket, and sidearm.

She'd barely drunk a quarter of the coffee he'd brought out, her sweet tooth not able to cope with the bitter aftertaste very well, giving up the cup without a second thought. It was easy to forget for a little while that the bottom of her world had fallen through, with the prospect of riding in this Impala again, and to her surprise, Ayden realised she was actually looking forward to spending a little more time with the intimidating half of the Winchester brothers. "I'm not going anywhere." Quite literally, as it turned out.

He started back toward the house, resisting the urge to look back over his shoulder to make sure she was still safely standing there, before juggling both coffee cups in one hand to maneuver the door open and slip back inside. He didn't bother to leave a note; he never did. They knew him well enough to know that if they woke to find him, Ayden, and the Impala missing, they'd put two and two together, and he'd bring back a dozen doughnuts as compensation for worrying them.

Hands deep in her pockets, Ayden bounced on the balls of her feet as she waited, chewing on the inside of her cheek. Left alone, her thoughts turned to her mother, and John, and the family neither of them had wanted her to meet or know. Better late than never.

As promised, Dean wasn't gone long, grateful not to have run into anyone before making his escape. He had on a worn leather jacket that had once belonged to his dad, an automatic hastily shoved in one pocket, twirling his car keys around his left index finger. The gravel crunched beneath his boots, the sun setting the sky ablaze. For the first time in days, there was a light in his eyes that hadn't been there before. He unlocked the driver's side door and reached over to pop the lock on the passenger side. "Hop in."

She didn't need telling twice, clearly more excited by the prospect of the drive than most girls her age would be. Who would have thought that Dean's car would be the means to start forging a link with his long-lost little sister? Unable to hide the impish delight in her eyes, Ayden did indeed 'hop' into the front seat, drawing the door shut with reverent car before running a hand over the dash. "Aww, dude, she even smells the same as I remember!"

"She's my baby," he grinned, obviously fond of the car and proud of the way he took care of her. "Dad wanted a van. Thought it was more practical, but I talked him into this one." If she knew how long John had had the Impala and did the math, she'd be able to figure out there was no logical way Dean could have possibly been there when his father picked out the car. He inserted the key in the ignition and turned the engine over, smiling as he listened to her purr. "Have you ever heard a sweeter sound than that?" Even been than making a woman moan, he thought. Well, almost.
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Ayden

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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 03:29:48 PM »
Of course, John hadn't filled Ayden in on some of the finer points of his lifetime, so she had assumed from Dean's comments that he had helped their dad pick the car when he was a kid. Hooking one arm over the back of the bench seat, her hand buried in her hair, she closed her eyes, smiling as she listened to the engine rev up. "Just one sound is sweeter," she told him, the impish mischief lighting up her eyes as she opened them once again. "My baby's purring beats yours, any day."

A face peeked out a window upon hearing the engine start up, but no one came outside to stop them from leaving. Dean arched a brow at his passenger as he put the car in drive. "Your baby? Please. What do you drive? A Lovebug?" He chuckled, imagining her in a girlie car, probably painted pink with flowers on the side.

Ayden snorted, seemingly offended by his patronising assumption about her preferences. "Please," she chuckled back at him, diving head first into the conversation with the ease she'd learned since her ghoul attack. If you're easy with people, they're easy with you, simple as. "I'm so not a Lovebug kinda girl. Try again, big bird, you're way off the mark."

"Listen, squirt, if you're gonna dish it out, you better be able to take it." He returned the favor, dubbing her with her own nickname, at least until he thought of a better one. "So, out with it. What's your sweet ride? Cobalt? Camaro?" Funny how he only mentioned Chevys, as if there was no other brand of car worth mentioning. He darted a glance into the rearview mirror as he backed out of the spot where he'd parked the Impala and swung her around to head down the drive toward the road.

"Warmer." She grinned, enjoying the back and forth, able to forget in the midst of this banter just what it was that had brought her here to this moment in space and time. She didn't even object to the nickname, taking it like a man, or in this case, little sister who wouldn't stand a chance in a hands down wrestling match with her big brother. "Try '71 Impala. Convertible. Red." The grin widened, just waiting for the reaction. Someone who loved his car this much had to appreciate hers, right?

Dean whistled in appreciation, duly impressed with her taste in vehicles, sight unseen. "71, huh?" He smirked. "Not a bad year. Mind if I take a peek beneath the hood sometime?"

"Sure, knock yourself out," was Ayden's trusting response. "She's still in Windom, but I'll bet you're used to sticking your neck out further than that, right?" Truth was, she knew her car needed seeing to by someone who knew their way around cars, but she just couldn't afford it. Between living costs, and gas, and books, and helping her mom with the rent, there was only so far her meager little salary from the diner could go. Her baby was suffering because of it.

"Windom's not that far." But she already knew that from the road trip she'd just taken with Bobby to get here. Couple of hours, tops. "What kind of condition is she in?" Dean wasn't about to pass up any chance he had to play grease monkey. Cars were his first love. If he hadn't become a hunter, there was a good chance he might have ended up an auto mechanic. He pulled out onto the road heading in the direction of town, toward a particular place that was an old favorite of his.

Ayden couldn't help looking a little guilty. She knew she didn't exactly treat her car well right now. "She ... Well, she rattles," she admitted awkwardly. "The fanbelt squeals, I'm lucky if the footbrake works at all in the rain, I need to get the exhaust replaced ... you name it, that's what's wrong with her." She shrugged, shaking her head. "Try fixing all that on weekend pay from a crappy diner. I'm damn lucky she survived the 6 hour trip from Madison to Windom."

The streets in town ran north-south and east-west, like a grid. Dean's destination lie not far from the Downtown Historic District - a donut shop called Daylight Donuts. As far as Dean was concerned, they had the best donuts in town - and Dean had eaten a LOT of donuts - and the coffee wasn't half bad either. "I can fix her up for you," he promised, flashing her the patented Dean Winchester grin, eye crinkles and all. In fact, he'd like nothing better than to forget about the Apocalypse for a while and work on a good old fashioned Chevy engine. "You found her in Wisconsin?" he asked, turning back to the road. Wisconsin held a special place in Dean's heart, but it was something he'd never told anyone about, not even Sam.

The grin was a nice surprise, startling Ayden into answering it with one of her own, though she produced a smile that was nothing like the Winchesters'. It was all her, all from her mother - the only similarity was the crinkle of green eyes as they sparkled with amusement. "Uh, yeah, in Madison," she nodded, scratching her fingers through her hair as they spoke. "I'm in college there, and it never occurred to me that I'd need a car until I actually hit Wisconsin. The journey to visit Windom from there costs a bomb by train or bus."

"Which college?" he asked, taking more than a casual, curious interest in her connection with Wisconsin, for some odd reason. "I know somebody there," he added, so that she didn't think he was just being nosy. Of course, Wisconsin was a pretty big state, and the chances they knew the same people were miniscule, at best. He'd been too busy to think about Wisconsin for a while, but now that she'd mentioned it, his mind wandered back there. He stopped the car at a traffic light for a moment, before moving on. Thankfully, it was early enough in the morning that they wouldn't have to deal with too much traffic going in and out of town.

"University of Wisconsin, Center of Humanities," Ayden told him, not really thinking anything of the query. After all, he knew next to nothing about her, it stood to reason he might be interested in where she was in her life. "Sophomore year. Why, do you know someone who goes there?" There was an engaging thought - perhaps she knew someone he knew. Hot on the heels of that thought was ... How does he know someone in Wisconsin when he lives in South Dakota?

"What are you studying?" Center of Humanities meant nothing to him. He hadn't even graduated from high school, opting to quit and get his GED. He might not have even done that much, if John hadn't insisted. Dean figured there wasn't much high school could teach him about hunting monsters. Besides, he'd hated school. Moving from one place to another didn't allow him much time to get settled and make friends and after a while, he'd stopped trying. What did he have in common with kids his own age anyway? While they were worrying about pimples and girls, he was worrying about monsters. And girls.

"I did once. Sorta," he replied, frowning a little at a memory that was poking at his brain. Someone he hadn't thought of or spoken to in years. "Well, not that goes there. That lives there. But it's a big state, so..." he shrugged, realizing it was highly unlikely that they knew each other. They weren't even close in age.
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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 03:33:41 PM »
And there was a kicker of a question, so innocent and yet one she couldn't answer without thinking of her all-too-recent loss. Ayden's throat tightened for a moment as she looked away, swallowing against the urge to cry, amazed at the sting of tears in her eyes. Hadn't she already cried herself out? "Uh ... I'm taking Pre-Med," she managed, forcing herself to keep going through the uncomfortably sensation closing her throat, trying not to dwell on her mother being the inspiration for that choice. "But they don't offer it as a major, so I'm studying European History and Folklore, too."

She cleared her throat, pleased with herself for not breaking down. "Where's your friend live?" she found herself asking, grasping onto something that would urge her back toward grief. "I've been on a couple of day trips, I might have passed through."

He stopped the car at another crossroads, waiting for the light to turn green. He'd met so many people over the years, some whose names and faces stood out more than others. He'd crisscrossed the country multiple times doing numerous hunts. He and Sam had been to nearly every one of the continental fifty states at one time or another, but a few were remembered better than the others.

He glanced over, relaxing a little as he waited for the light, noticing that she'd turned away at his question as if it made her uncomfortable for some reason, and he wondered if he'd trigged a memory in her, as well. He was going to have to be careful what he said, and he had a bad habit of saying the first thing that came to mind. "Sam went to Stanford for a few years to study law," he said, making conversation. He turned back to the road as the light turned and pulled forward. "Doesn't matter," he answered nonchalantly. "We're almost there."

Drawing herself back under control was a painful, gradual process, but Dean gave her that time, where perhaps Sam would not have done. Already, Ayden was beginning to note the differences between her brothers, though they both had more than enough about them to be deeply important to her from here on in. Dean seemed to know the value of not studying a moment in-depth; Sam had already proved he could reduce her to cathartic tears with the right comment in the right place the night before.

When she looked up, Ayden was calm and collected again, offering a half-smile of apology. "Sorry, I, uh ... I started Pre-Med because of my mom," she explained quickly, rushing through the explanation before shifting her attention. "Why didn't Sam stay at Stanford? I'm guessing with all the illegal you guys do, having a lawyer in the family would be a good thing."

Same reason I became a hunter, he thought. Because of my mom. He made no comment regarding her mother, knowing instinctively that it was a touchy subject and rightfully so. Maybe she'd want to talk about it later, but not now. It was too soon. He thought she'd be better off talking to Sam or Ellen about it anyway. He didn't think he was very good at offering comfort, choosing to accept her answer at face value and not question it further, never knowing that might be exactly what she needed at the moment. Her question brought a small thoughtful frown to Dean's face, and he wondered if that wasn't a question better asked Sam. There were two different sides to that story - his and Sam's.

He figured the best answer, as always, was the honest one, even if it was the more difficult explanation. "Dad went missing a few years ago, and I went to Sam for help finding him. Long story short, some sh*t went down and he never went back." He left the part out about Jessica and the demons, at least, for now. He knew she needed to know these things at some point, but she'd had enough of a shock for now.

Her brow furrowed lightly as she considered this, wondering just what "sh*t" had gone down to make Sam, who seemed like the sort of person who could obssessively follow something through right to the end and damn anyone else's opinion, change his mind about a career in law. But another thought overrode it. "When did Dad go missing?" she asked quietly, remembering the birthdays John had missed despite promising to make it up to her if he missed her sixteenth.

Dean shrugged again, not really wanting to talk about that time. It wasn't long after that John had died, sacrificing his life for his eldest son's, and though it had been a few years, it was still painful. "Couple of years ago. He was hunting the demon that..." He broke off, realizing that talking about Mary's death would only upset her, so soon after her own mother had died. "It doesn't matter what he was hunting. We're always hunting something." Grateful to have finally arrived at the bright and cheerily-painted donut shop with the yellow and blue sign that read "Daylight Donuts", Dean pulled into the parking lot. "We're here."

Realising she'd wandered into territory that wasn't hers to talk about, regardless of the fact that they shared a father, Ayden didn't press the point. She didn't even apologise, sensing that another apology might earn her a less than polite answer. Instead, she tipped her head to look at the bright sign, a wry smile touching her lips. "Sure they're open? It's, like, only just daylight."

"They're open," Dean assured her as he pulled the Impala into a spot. This early in the morning, the parking lot was mostly empty, and the donuts would be fresh - as fresh as the girls who served the donuts.

"I guess you must come here a lot, if you know they're open before -" Ayden checked her watch, peeling her sleeve back from her wrist to do so, "- before seven a.m." She flicked a glance over to Dean, seeing for the first time the signs of fatigue in him. "Did you even go to sleep yet?"

"I slept a little," he lied, shifting the car into park and pulling the keys from the ignition. He hadn't really slept much, if at all, and was overdue for a good night's sleep, but right now, sleep was a luxury he couldn't afford. "Besides, who are you to talk? I'm guessing you got maybe three hours, if that." It wasn't said in an accusatory way; he was merely stating the facts. "Come on. I'll introduce you to the girls." He pushed open the driver's side door and climbed out, taking a moment to stretch in the morning sun.

"I'm a woman in an emotional state, I'm allowed to be unreasonable," was Ayden's sassy, smiling reply, hiding the defensive sting of having her bad night's sleep pointed out to her. She climbed out of the Impala, letting her fingers linger against the silvered edging before she shut the door behind her. "The girls, huh?" Dean's new baby sister flashed him a grin that was a little too knowing for a nineteen-year old, and far too teasing. Being an only child had evidently made her grow up almost as fast as he had. "Should I wait out here? I wouldn't want to cramp your style, or anything."

"Trust me, you aren't cramping anything," he grinned over at her a little mischievously, like he knew something she didn't. He pocketed the car keys in his jacket and started toward the donut shop at an easy-going pace. "I'm addicted to this place. Best coffee and donuts in town." He waited for her to catch up with him before pulling open the door for her and following her inside.

It said a lot for the aura of calm safety that Dean was able to project around Ayden that she felt absolutely no fear or apprehension in being out of the Impala or away from the safety of the salvage yard that she had expected to feel. She skipped easily to his side without a second thought, sliding her hands back into the pockets of her sweater as she stepped in through the door. Her eyes went straight to the "girls" behind the counter, and she laughed for the second time - a deep, genuine belly-laugh that lit up her face as she looked back at him. "I stand corrected."
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Ayden

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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 03:37:19 PM »
There were several "girls" wandering around behind the counter, getting ready for the usual morning crowd to hit the shop on their way to work - all of them looked somewhere around Ellen's age and all of them smiled when they saw Dean walk in the door. "Morning, sweetie! You want the usual?" one asked as a little bell rang over the door to announce their arrival.

"Not today, Sandy," Dean replied, one hand reaching for the small of Ayden's back to guide her toward the counter. "I have a guest today."

The surprise that touched Ayden's face on feeling her brother's hand on her back was obvious, but quickly smoothed away by a reassured smile. So he wasn't so completely weirded out by her that he couldn't even stomach crossing that personal boundary. He just didn't do overt gestures of affection. "Hi," she greeted Sandy as she was steered toward the counter. "I don't really count as a guest. Um, morning!"

The one whose nametag read "Sandra" glanced from Dean to Ayden. "New girlfriend?" she asked, with a warm smile to Ayden.

"You're up early today," another piped in. "Where's that overgrown brother of yours? Still sleeping?"

"Three's a crowd!" Sandra remarked to the other.

Dean smirked. "Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but she's not my girlfriend. She's..." And there it was - the moment of truth. Did he dare tell them who Ayden really was or should he tell a little while lie? Dean frowned, unsure how to complete the statement.

Ayden was just as much at a loss as he was. She didn't want to just announce herself as family in his hometown, guessing that would give rise to all kinds of questions from people who'd known him for years. She purposely didn't look at Dean, or his multiple girlfriends behind the counter, turning her eyes to the display of donuts, radiating I'm not here I'm not listening for all she was worth.

The second - whose name tag read "Janet" - seemed to sense a moment of awkwardness and smiled reassuringly to them both. "Nevermind, sugar. It's none of our business. What can we get you?" Sandy was already pouring Dean his usual cup of coffee, strong and black.

Spoken to directly, Ayden pulled herself out of her attempt to become wallpaper to manage a shy smile for Janet. "Uh, a black coffee with too much sugar?" she asked hopefully, her fingers already digging into her pocket for her wallet. A lifetime of paying for herself meant her wallet was always on her person, and her idea of a treat? Was usually the cheapest thing in the shop.

"Oh!" exclaimed a third as she hurried out of the kitchen upon hearing a familiar voice. "Dean! I have something for you." She grinned from ear to ear. "And don't you let that brother of yours get anywhere near it. He can come in and get his own if he wants some." There was a small bustle of action behind the counter as the third woman - whose nametag read Wanda - hurried back into the kitchen, all aflutter with excitement.

Dean scowled at Ayden when she pulled her wallet out. "It's on me," he insisted, arching a brow at Wanda as she rushed into the kitchen.

Janet leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially. "It's a pie," she whispered, pressing a finger against her lips to make sure Wanda's surprise was kept intact. "Shh."

Meanwhile, Sandy was pouring a second cup of coffee to Ayden's liking, adding sugar liberally. "Say when, dear!"

Guilt touched Ayden's face as Dean scowled at her, but she was reluctant to put her wallet away. "I can afford it," she began, cut off when Sandy caught her attention. She had no idea when the woman had begun to put sugar in, but after four spoons, she grinned. "I'll be good and say when now." A faint shrug lifted one shoulder up and dropped it down again, unashamed of her sweet tooth.

"Pie?" Dean echoed quietly, looking confused.

"Shh!" Janet reiterated quietly. "It's supposed to be a surprise. Look surprised!"

"Uh, but..." Dean started, not sure he had enough money in his wallet for pie and donuts and coffee.

But before he could argue the matter, Wanda had returned with a small carton in her hands, a big grin on her face. "This is for you. I made it myself."

Sandy rolled her eyes and muttered, "Girl crush," while Janet elbowed Sandy for butting in. "Hope it's not burnt," Sandy added, narrowing her eyes at Janet for elbowing her. "What?"

It was impossible to watch all this back and forth banter without giggling, and Ayden was just tired enough not to even try to keep a straight face for her brother's peace of mind. Not that it was a surprise to find that Dean seemed to have a fanclub consisting of older women; she was objective enough to appreciate that both her formerly unknown brothers were handsome men, and no doubt Dean attracted women of all ages and types. The fact that he was being mothered with food here was priceless.

Dean reached for the carton, the contents of which Wanda seemed overjoyed to have made for him and as they brushed fingers, she blushed profusely, smiling from ear to ear, and hurried back away to the kitchen, girl squealing all the way. Just because she was fifty didn't mean she couldn't appreciate a pretty face when she saw one. Besides he'd always been friendly and polite, and she just couldn't help but like him. There was a roll of eyes from Sandy, and Janet just burst into laughter.

"You should go and kiss her," Ayden heard herself suggest with a grin, tucking her arms over her chest comfortably as she looked up at Dean. "I think she'd probably jump at the chance for a little mouth to mouth after she passes out from squeaky joy."

"Kiss... what?!" Dean exclaimed, glancing after the squealing woman looking thoroughly confused.

"It's an apple pie," Janet told him, nodding her head knowingly.

"I told her she should have made cherry, but she just wouldn't listen," broke in Sandy.

"Uh... apple is fine," Dean replied, tossing a look to Ayden that said, Help me. "I just want a cup of coffee and a dozen donuts!" he said, blowing out an exasperated breath.
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Ayden

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Re: A Folgers Moment (AU Backstory)
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 03:42:36 PM »
Nodding to herself, unable to wipe the grin from her face, Ayden couldn't resist the urge to reach over and tweak Dean's nose as he turned to her. "You're kinda cute when you're flustered, big bird," she teased, genuinely at ease finally in the face of his struggle with his Daylight Donuts' ladies. She looked back at the two women remaining behind the counter. "Is he always this easy to embarrass?"

Dean narrowed his eyes at Ayden, his expression alone warning her not to push her luck.

"Big Bird!" Janet cackled. "Would that make Sam Snuffleupagus?" Oh, that just struck her funny and she dissolved into girlish giggles.

As flustered as Dean was, the thought of Sam as a woolly mammoth made him smirk. The little bell on the door jingled as the morning crowd started to file in.

"Get the man his donuts!" Sandy scolded, tossing a smile to the customer who'd come in behind them. "Can I help you?"

If there was one thing the Winchesters had never had to deal with, it was a normal younger sibling. Unfortunately for Dean, Ayden was also pretty sassy and more than happy to push her luck when it came to teasing anyone. He was just going to have to get used to it. She laughed at Janet's rejoinder. "You know, I think he is," she grinned, nudging Dean impishly, one bony elbow saying hello to his ribs not exactly gently. "Whaddya think?"

Dean oofed audibly when Ayden's elbow met with his ribs, but thankfully, he didn't drop the pie. "I think you're having a little too much fun at my expense, that's what I think."

Janet snorted at Dean's reply and turned to snatch up a box and fill it with an assortment of donuts, adding a couple of extra, just because. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you two were siblings," she remarked casually as she went about plucking up this donut and that and setting it in the box.

"Welcome to the world having a little sister," was Ayden's answer to her brother, without realising that she'd confirmed Janet's casually searching comment until it was too late. Her smile was half-apology to Dean, and half-pride to Janet for being able to call herself his sister. "I'm this week's surprise guest star on the sitcom of Dean and Sam," she explained to the woman with a shrug.

"That makes two of us," Janet remarked, with a grin as she turned back around and set the box on the counter to close the lid. "I could have guessed. You two have the same eyes." She closed the box and rang up a dozen donuts and two cups of coffee, letting them have the extra donuts for free, and of course, the pie.

"Think so?" Dean asked, glancing to Ayden a moment, before shoving a hand in his jeans pocket for his wallet, pulling out a ten dollar bill and handing it to Janet.

The expression on Dean's face was mirrored by Ayden as she met his glance, both of them looking at each other's eyes with the same shade of surprised curiosity sparked off by Janet's comment. And, of course, it had distracted her from objecting to being paid for. "Hey ..." Her protest was mild, but a little defensive. It was going to take a while to get used to being looked after. "I'm not bankrupt, you know."

"Yeah, well... Neither am I," was his amazing comeback, obviously still a bit flustered by the women or maybe just embarrassed because it had happened in front of Ayden. "Can you grab the coffee?" he asked as he reached for the box of donuts, piling it under the pie.

Janet tossed a wink at Ayden. "Nice to meet you, sweetheart. We'll see you both soon!" Though she hadn't gotten a name from the girl, it didn't really matter. She'd be sweetheart or honey or sugar, no matter her name.

"Sure." Reluctantly tucking her wallet away finally, Ayden nodded, reaching out to take the two cups from the counter. She offered a smile to Janet and Sandy as she stepped back from the counter. "Thank you - it was nice to meet you, too!" Turning her back on the overly-friendly women, her smile faded into a slightly overwhelmed grimace. That had been a little bit too normal, given the last twenty-four hours.

"See you later, Dean!" came the voice from beyond - that of Wanda in the kitchen, followed by a giggle.

Unable to wave back, he simply offered a slightly awkward smile and started toward the door with his baked goods in hand. "Later, ladies! Try not to miss me too much." He pushed the door open with a hip and out he went into the morning sunshine.

Catching the door on her elbow to follow Dean out, Ayden found herself laughing again at Wanda's goodbye. "Seriously, dude, you'd make her day with a smooch," she informed her brother, skipping to walk at his side, balancing one paper cup on top of the other in one hand. "You'd probably get free everything everytime you go in there!"

That got his attention and he stopped in his tracks, glancing back at the donut shop. "Free, really? You think so?" He seemed to consider that for a moment, before shaking his head and continuing on toward the Impala. "No, I can't. It's just too weird."

"Well, you just got free pie, and you didn't even have to make eye contact," she pointed out with a half-grin. "Uh ... sorry I dropped the sister-bomb. It just kinda slipped out, I didn't do it on purpose. I get that it must be weird for you guys to even know I exist, let alone have to put up with me right here on top of you."

"It's not weird, Ayden," he contradicted, setting the two boxes on top the roof of the Impala so he could fish the keys out of his pocket and open the door. "It's just..." He frowned, at a sudden lack for words, glancing to her with a concerned frown. "Okay, so, it's a little weird. That doesn't mean you aren't welcome here."

She nodded, avoiding looking him in the eye as her own grew wet once again. Was she ever going to stop crying? "I appreciate it," she said quietly, silencing herself by biting hard into her lower lip, turning to look across the street. It was bad enough feeling as though her heart was gaping open and bleeding, but she felt guilty for being a mess and awkwardly embarrassed by all the crying. It was a bad combination, and that was even before she factored in the anger simmering under the surface. "I'll try not to get in the way."

He sighed, turning toward her, leaving the boxes on top the roof. With any luck, they'd stay there. "Look, I... I'm not very good at this, but I promise you're not in the way, okay?" He wasn't quite sure what else to say. Should he tell her he understood how she felt because he'd lost his own mother, too? There was a connection there somewhere, something Sam would never understand because Sam didn't remember what it was to have a mother. The only mother Sam had ever known had been Ellen, and while Dean loved Ellen and appreciated everything she'd done for him, memories of his real mother kept him up at night sometimes - or memories of how she'd died. "I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn't. It just gets a little easier. You're gonna be okay, Ayden. I promise. You're not alone, okay?"

Green eyes that were so much like his own, so much like Sam's, turned toward him, dark with unfathomable pain, raw and shining with unshed tears. But she wasn't crying. Ayden had as much control over her emotions as her brothers did with less experience, less need for such control. She nodded slowly, unable to find words to answer his reassurance that could possibly describe how much she was hurting right now. She turned, setting the cups on the Impala's roof beside the boxes, and stepped into a hug that held on without crushing or clinging. She just needed that contact for a moment, whether or not he was ready or comfortable. "Thanks, Dean."

His fingers twitched around the car keys, instincts telling him to reach out and touch her or maybe even give her a hug, but he held himself back. Not here, not now. Not in the middle of a donut shop parking lot. Maybe later. But then she was making the decision for him, pressing a hug on him, like Sam used to do when he was little and like Dad never did. He hesitated a moment before awkwardly hugging her back, letting down his defenses for a moment and opening his heart to her.

How should he reply to that? You're welcome? No problem? It's okay? There was no reply that seemed sufficient. "You don't have to thank me. You're family." He felt that old familiar pain of guilt wrench his heart and wondered how much she'd thank him when she found out it was his fault her mother was dead.

He couldn't have known how much those two little words meant to the young woman holding on for dear life. You're family. Ayden had see-sawed from family to all alone and back to family again, all in the space of less than twelve hours, and it remained to be seen just how deeply that would affect her. But for now, at least, she seemed content to hug and be hugged, to tease and play, and settle into her new role of baby sister with enviable ease. Ellen had been right, after all. Ten minutes and a Folgers moment with Dean, and Ayden was safe again. Now all they had to do was keep her that way.

[size=9]((Thanks to Dean's player yet again - just keeps getting better!))[/size]
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