He got onto the road back to Bobby’s place, driving fast, but even so it seemed the sun set faster than it should have and the darkness was absolute. Dean flipped on the lights, and felt his heart speed up as he approached the crossroads. “Stay with me, baby,” he whispered, and then, “No, baby, don’t break my heart,” as the engine rattled and the Impala rolled to a stop, dead center in the middle of the crossroads. “No. Dammit.” He slammed his hand against the steering wheel, and then stroked the dashboard in apology. “Not your fault, baby. Should’ve known something would want to fuck with me.”
He got out of the car and went to the trunk, opened the false bottom and got out a shotgun. He loaded it with salt pellets, looking around at the dark night, waiting for the beast or whatever was coming.
It wasn’t long before he felt the ground shaking beneath his feet — the slow, steady plod he had heard so many times in his dreams and on the mountain in New Hampshire. He tightened his grip on the shotgun and pointed it into the darkness, whispering, “Bring it,” as he put his finger on the trigger.
A dark shape humped up the road, with broad sloping shoulders and massive horns. Dean could hear it breathe, could hear it sniffing its way up the road, could hear the clop-clop sound of its hooves against the asphalt. Dean took a deep breath and raised the shotgun to his shoulder, telling himself not to fire until he was sure he would hit it.
A figure stepped in front of the shotgun, holding up her hands. “Don’t shoot.”
Dean tensed and moved his finger from the trigger. “Maya?”
Maya Fisher smiled at him with exasperation. “You were supposed to stay at Bobby’s.”
“I know,” Dean whispered. “I got restless. Maya, do you hear that — that thing out there?”
She turned and looked up the road, then put her hand over the muzzle of the shotgun. “You can’t hurt it with this, Dean.”
“Then what do I do?”
“You wait.” She moved out of the way to lean against the trunk with him. “Don’t move or speak when it comes close.”
“Is it blind?”
“It’s been in the dark for a very long time.”
Dean tried not to breathe loudly as he clutched the shotgun. Maya was calm beside him, warm and soft and smelling of peaches, and she wrapped a hand around his elbow in reassurance.
The beast humped closer, its great head winging back and forth as it snorted at the ground, and then it veered around the Impala on slow, heavy hooves. Dean’s eyes widened as he watched it pass — it had to be at least six feet of something bristly and stinking. He held his breath until the beast had passed the Impala and its footsteps faded away.
Dean sucked in a breath and said, “Jesus,” as he slumped against the car.
Maya quietly laughed. “Not quite.”
“How come it ignored me?”
“You’re wearing your amulet.” Dean touched the malachite amulet, and Maya said, “It protects those in physical danger.”
“Thanks,” Dean said. “For giving it to me, I mean. Thank you.”
“It’s what I’m here for.”
He looked at her, puzzled. “You’re a part of all this in ways I just don’t get, you know. How do you know Castiel?”
“I’m not an angel, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Yeah, I guess it is. He said sometimes you’re sisters, and sometimes you’re daughter, mother and grandmother. How does that even work?”
“Does it help if I said we’re usually referred to as maiden, mother and crone?” He looked at her blankly and she shrugged and dismissed it. “Never mind. Just trust that we have a vested interest in this world being okay. Now get back to Bobby’s before you get yourself killed.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Dean said and opened the driver’s side door. “Can I drop you anywhere?”
“No,” she said with amusement and in the blink of an eye was gone.
Dean let out his breath, told himself his life was no weirder than usual, and drove back to Bobby’s as fast as he could.
That was Sunday night. On Monday afternoon Dean heard the rattle of Bobby’s truck and went out onto the front porch to greet him and Sam, bursting with the need to tell them of his discoveries.
“You look better,” Bobby said with approval, and tilted his head, listening. “What’s that running?”
“I have the washing machine going. I’m washing your sheets.”
“Above and beyond,” Bobby said with wonder, grinned and gave Dean’s head a gentle shove. “So what did you get up to while we were out?”