(this chapter contains a scene of violence)
It was just after seven in the morning when Dean decided to pull the impala to a nearby gas station off on the highway. The place looked deserted as far as the brothers could tell which was perfect considering they’d planned on looting the place for food and fuel. Sarah and Kay awoke to the growling noise of their stomachs, neither of them had eaten anything since yesterday morning and they were too exhausted from hunger to continue any further. Before the girls could step out the car and stretch their legs, Sam and Dean took it upon themselves to secure the area and make sure there were no zombies around.
The windows of the station had been shattered, phone hanging off the hook in the booth while inside chip bags and beverages were scattered about the floor. Sam checked the counter when he couldn’t see anyone in the back; the radio had been left blaring behind the register. The endless reports of brutal attacks expanding nationwide compelled the atmosphere.
Dean carefully observed the bathroom and the janitor’s room, which left no signs of life. He then shuffled towards the refrigerated shelves and grabbed a couple cases of beer, soft drinks and water, as Sam was filling a bag of sandwiches, treats and chips, Dean favored corn nuts these days. There was a small rack carrying t-shirts which he also grabbed for Kay, walking around in hospital scrubs covered in dried blood was not fun. For emergencies, Sam managed to find a first aid kit and some bandages for the patch up session they were all planning to have as soon as they found a place to settle for the night. It was going to be a long drive ahead of them.
Outside at the pump, Sarah stepped out to fill the tank of the impala while she patiently waited for the boys. Kay was on the lookout, windows rolled down slightly low enough in case she needed to get everyone’s attention. Just as Sarah finished with the pump, a man in store clerk’s shirt emerged from the open garage and started shambling quickly towards the unsuspecting brunette nibbling on her nails. From far off he seemed normal in appearance, lean frame, and bald spot at the top of his head; the closer he reached the impala the more Kay realized his neck and stomach had been shredded. He was a zombie.
“Sarah, look out!” Kay screamed at her friend, who luckily dodged the man’s teeth just as he lunged at the girl pinning her on top of the hood.
“A little help over here!” she frantically shouted, using her elbow to keep the zombie’s jaws at bay.
Kay and Sarah’s screams immediately alerted the brothers as they scurried out the shop cocking their guns. The zombie was scuffling with Sarah on against the impala, his blood-stained back exposed for a clear shot.
“Kay, stay in the car!” Dean ordered the empath, hurrying towards the distressed girl’s aid. “Sarah, can you hold up his head? I won’t be able to take out this sucker’s brain otherwise!”
“Easier said than done!” Sarah shouted back, struggling to wrap her small hands around his ripped throat and lifting him off her chest with the strength she could assemble. “Here!” she cried, at the shrieking dead creature desperately trying to bite any exposed flesh he could see. “Just shoot him already!”
The air ruptured like thunder as a bullet lodged out of Dean’s Taurus handgun and darted straight into the zombie’s cranium. Poor Sarah was covered in chunky, red brain matter after the shot managed to explode its head like a watermelon. Stunned, she began tossing pieces off her hair and clothes as Sam jogged up to her.
“Gee thanks.” Sarah snorted sourly at Dean, pulling a strand of chunks of the top of her head.
“Anytime, sweetheart.” chuckled the young hunter; proudly winking at her.
“Sarah, are you alright?” Sam asked eagerly, clamping his hands on her shoulder and rubbing them.
She bitterly pursed her lips. “Oh I’m fine. I’ll be living in the shower for a week that’s all, if we ever find one.”
“You know he didn’t mean to.” encouraged the taller Winchester, politely plucking off more goo from Sarah’s hair. “We’ve got dry clean sweatpants and shirts in a duffel bag behind Dean’s seat. Hopefully we’ll find someplace to settle in soon, the radio say’s the virus is spreading fast and I don’t know if we can outrun it for long.”
Sarah nodded, throwing him a half-grin as she collapsed against his chest. “We’ll figure something out,” she said lightly. “Oh did you guys manage to find your brother?”
Sam’s expression was grave as he brushed her hair behind her ear. Sarah figured the worst. “We did find Adam…but something else took him over.” There was anger in his voice, which worried Sarah. “Dean says he’ll be alright…that we’ll have to trust whatever has him to bring him back in one piece. But I’m so worried…for all we know Adam could be trapped or worse.”
“Sam, don’t think like that.” Sarah whispered softly, giving his shoulder a gentle squeeze. “You’ll see him again… I’m sure he’s probably looking for both of you right now.”
“Common, move it!” Dean ordered the embracing couple back into the safety of the impala, and he tossed the bags of supplies to Kay. “We don’t wanna kill anymore daylight out here in case our friend wasn’t alone. Gotta long drive a head of us.”
The group of four traveled further out along the highway, most of what they saw along the road was farmlands and livestock. Strangely enough the world somehow felt empty…not a soul in sight which seemed scarier than actually being cornered by a vicious undead crowd. It was hours before Sam and Dean noticed a sign for a country ranch, parking the car in a dirt driveway to a two story house. Though the lights were off and the door wide open, the boys figured it vacant…no one was around. Like the routine before, they got out the car armed strolling up the stairs and into the house.
Sarah didn’t want to take her chances, huddling inside the car with Kay. She’d flipped open her cell phone, hoping to call her father, but the line had been disconnected. Unfortunately for the empath, all her family was long dead and the only places she called home were either Corbin’s Auto Garage or Sarah’s mansion. She had no other friends besides Sarah Blake and now lately she’d become attached to Dean Winchester, the first man she’d ever felt close to. While the boys were stalking the house, Kay folded her hands together and began to spout a prayer in her mind for their safe return.
Two minutes later, Sam and Dean emerged from the front door then shuffled through the tall grass checking the back yard and the shed. When they were confident of their surroundings, the brothers returned to the impala, assisting the young women unloading their food and supplies into the lit house. There were a couple guest rooms up the stairs and on room across the kitchen beside the basement, which had been cleared out. Kay puttered at the counter with the bags of food, tossing beverages and sandwiches in the fridge. Someone had lain out a freshly cover plate of dinner leftovers, along with a carton of milk and some butter. Just thinking about food was making her appetite sore.
Sarah doted upstairs, looking for a room to settle in, as luck would have it the family that briefly lived in the house had a couple daughters a little younger than her and Kay. There were some shirts, jeans and underwear still shoved in the dowers, had they not fit when Sarah tried them on she would have been crazy walking around in soiled clothes. Sam and Dean followed the delighted young woman upstairs to take up residence in the parent’s room across the hall. There were two bathrooms, one in the Winchester’s room and the other across from the basement, both with a bathtub and shower.
While Sam and Dean used the first aid kit in the living room to patch themselves up from the fight at the hospital, the girls took the opportunity to wash up and change before they sat down to have a meal. Sam was curious to know any recent updates of the outbreak since it began last night, switching the television on and changing the channel to a news stations.
“Confirmed it is not an isolated incident,” the blond newswoman said at the desk, with a screen beside her head displaying a camera-shot view of the chaos. “As of last night a strange viral infection broke out into the streets of New York, spreading a nationwide panic throughout the United Sates. Witnesses have claimed the virus not only kills the host but also…resurrects the deceased victim shortly after, causing the victim to act on violent, cannibalistic rage. No word as of yet as to what this virus is, but we’ll be hearing from the president’s statement later tonight.”
“This is bad,” Sam imputed, lowering the volume out of earshot. “That virus is gonna kill and turn everyone…unless we figure out a way to stop it.”
Dean leaned back against the couch, popping his boots up onto the coffee table. “Yah well, got any bight ideas Point-Dexter?”
“I think we should start by finding this demon Pestilence mentioned back at Little Falls.” suggested the younger Winchester brother. “If we find him…maybe we can figure out who was really behind the attack at the hospital….the person responsible for torturing Kay and resurrecting Pestilences powers.”
“Page me when you do, cause we’re looking in for a needle in a haystack Sam.” bellowed the older Winchester brother, who’d grabbed a couple beers from the kitchen and offer one to Sam. “I mean we don’t even know who this demon is and in case you haven’t noticed…our traveling party just got a little crowded.”
“Isn’t there a way we can get in touch with Cas? Maybe he could stay with the girls while we look for answers.”
“Right, because it just so happens I’m carrying the Cas-Bat signal in my pocket.” Dean scrutinized his brother, taking a swig of his beer. “Sammy he’s not gonna help. Don’t you think if he gave a damn about us by now, we wouldn’t be looting stores and holding up in some poor bastard’s home like a couple of friggin refugees? No our best shot right now…is waiting for Adam and Michael to meet us here.”
“Dean we don’t even know where Michael is.” Sam stressed. “For all we know…he could’ve been working with Pestilence. After all that he’s done to us in the past…suddenly you wanna go on blind faith in the guy?”
Dean scowled leaning over his knees, rubbing his temple. “Look I’m not saying I trust the jackass but he did save our lives plus Kay’s. I don’t know man…believe I’d be more than willing to put a bullet in that guy’s head but…the way he’s protective of Kay… it’s like he’s really trying to help her, Sam.”
“I hope you’re right.” Sam pressed, spotting Sarah strolling down the stairs into the living room dressed in clean clothes.
“Hey, where’s Kay?” she said eagerly. “I’m starved.”
“We’re right behind you, sweetheart.” Dean said hastily, shuffling into the kitchen with Sam.
Later that night after a hearty dinner of turkey sandwiches, pop and chips, the gang decided to settle in, taking precautions with Sam taking the first shift on guard duty. He couldn’t sleep since the plague started, making him the group’s best candidate for the job. Dean offered his room to Kay; while he took the couch next to his brother’s post. He felt more at ease knowing the empath would be safer upstairs than on the main floor in case something got through the front doors. Tomorrow they could board up the windows and back door for security measures, the basement already had an emergency escape.
Kay Forster was restless though she refused to be a bother to anyone since her latest empathic attack. She was terrified to sleep thinking the Winchesters were below risking their lives for her and Sarah. Every time she blinked at her reflection in the mirror rinsing her face, the image of the patient who grabbed her back in the hospital room made her shudder. Even now the memory of his brutally torn face, and snapping jaws caked in blood begging to chomp on her throat haunted her. To top it all off blacking out while enduring a painfully vicious seizure was not something she cared to experience again.
Turning off the light in the bathroom, Kay strolled towards the night table next to the bed where she picked up a photo graph of a middle aged married could, holding each other next to a palm tree. For a second she pictured herself there…standing in the arms of the man who saved her life more than once. Lately all she could think about beside the pain of her supernatural ability was the sly yet kind smile of Dean Winchester. He made her feel safe and normal even under the most drastic of circumstances. There was something hidden in his green eyes…something deep and alluring which had drawn Kay’s attention the first moment she looked into them.
Lost in her thoughts, the sudden knock at the bedroom door startled Kay enough to drop the picture frame. “Kay?” it was him, the person that made her heart skip a beat ever moment his voice spoke to her.
“Just a second!” Kay called nervously placing the picture back and the mantle and wrapping the housecoat, she found on the bathroom door, tightly around her slender little body. As glad as she was to have him waiting outside her door…the idea of being alone in a bedroom made her uneasy; she quickly answered. “Hey.”
Dean politely waited for her to back up before he entered. “Hey, I didn’t wake you or anything did I?”
“No!” she cried excitably, nervously rubbing the back of her neck. “I was just…brushing my teeth. Is…everything okay downstairs?” Quickly she reprised herself, as that last part sounded scandalous. “What I mean is…you and Sam haven’t seen any other monsters yet…have you?”
“Not yet but I suspect we’ll be okay here.” Dean encouraged, taking in the collected Christianity of the room with a large crucifix displayed on the wall above the bed. “I just…well I sorta happened along up here and thought I’d come and check on you…see if there was anything you need.”
Kay smiled and nodded gratefully. “No I’m fine thanks.” she said, clasping her hands in front of her. To the young man, this girl seemed to be acting pretty conspicuous. Before the tension in the room got even more awkward between them, Kay decided to break the ice on a subject that had been nudging at her since they were on the road. “So… I never knew you had a son.”
Dean turned to Kay instantly, face flushed in surprise and a little guilt. “You overheard that?”
“I accidentally picked up a little of the conversation you had in the car with Sam.” She confessed, settling on the corner of the bed. “Sorry I didn’t mean to pry…guess I was just curious.”
A lighthearted chuckled escaped his lips. “Yah he’s something that kid. I get goosebumps just thinking about him…worrying if he’s okay.”
“Do you…have a picture of him?”
“Yah, right here.” Dean gestured pulling a photo from the wallet in his jacket and handing it to Kay. “That’s my man Ben, god he’s so grown up.”
The empath girl smiled at the little boy dressed in white outfit hugging a pretty older woman with dark hair and eyes. Ben looked as if he’d proudly won a karate match, excitedly holding a yellow belt in his hands. He looked exactly like his dad in that moment, proud and strong, though the empath girl couldn’t help thinking of the woman embracing Dean’s son.
“How old is he now?” she asked, tenderly looking back into Dean’s eyes.
“He’s nine and one hell of a tough guy,” Dean snickered. “When I first met him…he was eating cake while scoping out chics in his birthday Bounce.”
“You mean…you didn’t know about him before?” the blunt question made Kay shyly look away. “I’m sorry; you don’t have to tell me if…you don’t want to.”
“No it’s cool,” Dean assured the young woman taking the picture from her. “I found out about him shortly after I got back together with Lisa…his mother. Though when I confronted her about Ben the first time I saw him, she denied I was his father. Couldn’t blame her though…she was scared…scared I’d let him down somehow.”
“So you’re…still together with Lisa then?” Kay’s fascination with Dean’s life almost made him felt intimidated. This was the first time he’d ever had a real conversation with a woman without the quirky jokes and lames pickup lines and didn’t consider intimacy as the end result. This girl was unique to him, and not just because she was an empath…there was something pure about Kay that seemed to warm Dean’s cheeks.
“It’s complicated.” he told her heavily, folding the photo back in his wallet. “Lisa and I…it’s difficult to say exactly because I feel like we’re on different pages… if that makes sense. I mean I care about her…guess I’ll always have feelings for the mother of my son but…”
When Kay’s heart pounded vibrantly in her chest…it almost felt like pieces of her rib cage shattered with each beat. The emotions lingering off the young hunter beguiled her…confused her because it was so cluttered to make sense of anything. The only thing Kay was sure about…was how much it hurt to be so close to this man and yet…so far at the same time.
“That’s the thing about affection,” she said gently, eye’s grieved. “It’s always going to be complicated…even love.”
“Well it’s late,” Dean said quickly glancing at his watch, “I better get back downstairs and take over for Sam… You should rest, Kay.”
The empath girl shook her head. “I can’t sleep…I feel like if I close my eyes right now I won’t wake up.” Kay timidly covered her face. “I wish I knew... I wish someone could tell me everything is going to be okay… that whoever is trying to get me…won’t be able to find me.”
Dean immediately seated himself next to Kay, taking her hands in his. “Nothing’s gonna happen to you, Kay… not as long as Sammy and I are here with you.” His voice was so soft and alluring with every word. “I can’t predict what tomorrow is gonna bring…and I’ve never really been good at the sentimental speeches but… but the one thing I am sure about…is that you can always count on us.”
The empath girl swallowed hard, staring agonizingly back into his eyes. Slowly Dean brought up his hand and softly caressed her dark hair away from her check. “Dean…do you think you could…stay here until I fall asleep?”
The young man waited tentatively before answering and replied. “Sure…I’ll stick around for a bit.”
Climbing into the covers, Kay offered Dean a spot on the bed beside side her. Though she was a little nervous when he plopped down next to her, on top of the comforter, the empath felt secure that he’d be a gentleman while he laid down inches from her. As the hour wore thin, Kay’s eye lids grew heavier before the blackness blinded her view of his handsome, kind face.