liptonrm_fic: (spn jo-noafterglow)
[personal profile] liptonrm_fic
Title: Your Own Kind of Hero
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: If I’m making any money off of this it’d be news to me.
Author’s Note: This is set in the same series as More Than Just a Pretty Face and knowledge of the previous stories would be helpful. Spoilers through 5x10 ‘Abandon All Hope….’

Summary: Kat had to keep on moving, it was all she could do.



Kat saw her first dead body when she was six years old. Great-Grandpa Rod had always been ancient, a dusty, complaining figure who had scared Kat, just a little. But Mommy loved him, so Kat loved him too.

Her parents never took her to the hospital with them during those last days when he was so sick. They would leave her and Libby and April with Aunt Kate for hours and hours while they sat and waited for him to die.

Kat couldn’t remember if she cried when her parents came back from the hospital that last time, only the close comfort of her mother’s arms enveloping her in the wispy remains of perfume and grief.

Daddy insisted that they all go to the funeral, even baby April who couldn’t even walk yet, not really, only lurch from one sturdy object to another. Mommy had resisted, worried about them, her little girls, wanting to protect them.

“We can’t shield them forever, Kim,” Daddy said. “Better that they see it now, with us, then some other way. We can’t stop the world from turning.”

Daddy held Kat’s hand tight as they walked down the church aisle to the coffin sitting at its end. The body inside didn’t look like Great-Grandpa anymore. It didn’t look like anyone.

“He’s in a better place,” Daddy whispered when she looked away. Even then Kat wasn’t sure she believed him.

~~~

“So, you’re really gonna do it.” Kat plopped down on the motel room’s other bed. Their current room was better than some she and Jo had tramped through, but it was still grim enough, worn-down and water-stained. “You’re really gonna hook back up with your mom.”

“It’s either I go willingly or wait around for her to track us down and drag me away in shackles.” Jo grinned quicksilver over her shoulder as she shoved clothes into a duffle on the opposite bed. “This way at least you won’t have to put up with the Jo and Ellen Show live and in Dolby Surround Sound.”

“I’d still rather come with you.” Kat couldn’t stop herself from saying the words, from being a sulky brat. Jo was always doing this, disappearing into the sunset and leaving Kat behind. She hated being disposable.

Jo stilled, her hand halfway in her bag. “Yeah, I know.” She sighed and turned to sit down on the edge of the bed. “It’s just, my mom is tough to deal with on a good day, and now she’s hunting and freaking out about the Apocalypse and she still thinks I’m that kid in pigtails with scraped-up knees.” She scrubbed a hand through her hair. “It’ll be hard enough to convince her that I know what I’m doing. If I bring the new kid home from school with me all bets are off.”

“I’m not a puppy, or a civilian,” Kat retorted, blushing. She’d thought that after everything Jo saw her as an equal, a partner, not extra baggage.

Jo raised her hands placatingly. “I know, I know, you’re a hunter just like I am. You’ve certainly saved me more than enough times to prove it.” Jo grinned then grimaced, searching for the right words. “I, fuck, just give me some time with her, time to convince her that I’m an adult and she doesn’t need to worry.” The corner of Jo’s mouth twisted in on itself. “I need for her to believe in me.”

Kat nodded, anger melting into something that might, eventually, be acceptance. “I don’t know if I can do this without you,” she whispered. Her stomach curdled at the weakness of her words, the open neediness. But that didn’t make them any less true.

“Hey, no-” Jo frowned, her hand half-extended across the space between them. After a heartbeat her hand dropped and she nodded, resolving some inner debate. “I have something for you,” she said and reached over to her duffle, pulling it into her lap to rummage through it.

Kat breathed deep and tried to pull everything together. She looked up at the cracked ceiling, jagged shards of plaster that threatened to fall ever time a semi plowed by on the highway. Her chest ached, too proud to want Jo’s pity but too empty to turn it away.

“Here,” Jo said and Kat looked back down. A burst of late afternoon sun glowed through the curtained windows, sparking off the gold in Jo’s hair. “I want you to have this.” She held out her hand, a small knife balanced in it.

“I, no, I can’t,” Kat gasped. “That was your dad’s.”

“And he’d be proud to see it in such good hands.” Jo huffed when Kat didn’t move to accept it. She reached over and grabbed Kat’s hand, carefully placing the knife in her palm and curling her fingers around the hilt.

Kat slowly turned it over in her hands, its weight grounding her. “Thank you,” she said, emotions thick in her voice.

“You big sap.” Jo shifted from one bed to the other. Her arm wrapped around Kat’s waist and she laid her head on Kat’s shoulder. “You’d better remember to kick it in the ass when I’m gone.”

“I will,” Kat promised. She rested her head against Jo’s and, for a moment, let everything be.

~~~

Kat was in a county registrar’s office, suffering the plague of a million dust mites, when the call came in.

At some point during the long weeks of learning to hunt by herself she’d realized that she needed to get a job since she still hadn’t found the mythical money tree. She was, quite possibly, the world’s worst waitress and the only hustling skill she’d ever picked up was how to be the straight man in Jo’s con game.

It was blind luck that had kept her from going back to her family in Illinois, tail between her legs. Thanks to a helpful librarian she’d discovered that all kinds of places would pay good money for people who could find their way through old files scattered across municipal records offices, the cheaper the fee the better.

Which was how Kat ended up ensconced in a small, dim room surrounded by ledgers that hadn’t seen the light of day for longer than she’d been alive. And if she’d spent more time in the past month doing title searches than hunting evil, well, it was what it was. She tried not to feel the tendril of guilt that wormed its way through her stomach. After all, even hunters needed to eat.

The Dixie Chicks, who still weren’t ready to make nice, sang, muffled and jarring, from the back of Kat’s chair. She jerked and grabbed for her bag, nearly knocking a stack of yellowed papers over in the process. She had to get to her phone.

She breathed out, centering herself, it was Jo’s ringtone and she couldn’t let the other woman know how worried she’d been. She flipped the phone open. “Kat Tucker: Archivist Extraordinaire,” she said, her tone bright. It’d been forever since Jo’s last call.

Silence responded. Kat’s heartbeat picked up, panic starting to boil up from its low simmer. “Jo, are you there? Is everything okay?”

“I-” a deep voice crackled over the line. “No, I’m Bobby Singer. Jo wanted me to call if-” He stopped again, voice ragged.

Kat couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, screams lodged in her throat.

“I’ve got some bad news,” Bobby said, but Kat couldn’t hear him. She already knew.

~~~

The summer before Kat went to college, a constant state of war, both cold and hot, waged in the Tucker household. Suddenly, all of the petty, stupid things that had always driven Kat crazy were enough to start screaming death matches between her and her mother. Doors were slammed, names were called, and countless tears were shed before her dad pulled her aside one evening and handed her a dull brass key.

“Go up to the cabin, get out of your mom’s hair for a little bit. It’ll help,” he told her.

And he was right. The cabin was exactly what she needed, quiet and time to herself, freedom from the burden of everyone’s expectations and concerns. It was all great, right up to the second when she woke, gasping, panicked claustrophobia and a ghost whispering in her ear.

The next morning she loaded her dad’s old shotgun and trekked to the remains of an old fence way out at the edge of the property, hidden in a grown over field. She lined cans up on the rotting timber and started shooting. She fell into the rhythm of loading and firing, losing herself in the kick of the gun against her shoulder and the clink of hit after hit, the fall of one can after another.

Time passed and she came back to herself, the sun bright in her eyes and sweat dripping down her neck. Gunpowder burned in her nose and spent shells littered the ground by her feet. Everything seemed too sharp, the world almost too loud to bear.

Leaves rustled in the tree to her right. She turned without thinking, gun rising and firing, instinct and alarm twisted around each other.

Kat’s heart beat in her ears as she moved forward, the butt of the gun still snug against her shoulder. A squirrel lay against the tree’s largest root, bloody and still twitching.

Kat wheezed and doubled over. The gun fell from nerveless fingers and she vomited into the grass.

It was the first thing she’d ever killed. It hurt more than she could have imagined.

~~~

The flame flashed out, the summoning complete. Kat stood up and brushed off her knees. Now all she had to do was wait.

Howls sounded in the distance and then closer. Before too long the loud pop of explosions echoed around the abandoned barn, the booby traps going off one, two three. Silence beat for a moment and then the barn echoed with the sound of growls and snarls. Squat smears penned her in, the remains of a pack of hellhounds, still only half-visible, even after the ritual that should have brought them into clear focus.

Adrenaline spiked in Kat’s chest but she carefully regulated every breath, every movement. She wouldn’t give them the pleasure of her fear.

Finally, a hound snarled and leaped over her pathetic salt line. Kat’s gun came to her shoulder and she fired one shot after another, clean and automatic. Hounds whimpered and squealed, dropping with consecrated rounds in their heads and guts. They didn’t get back up.

One hound, the last, jumped and she fell under its weight, gun spinning across the dirt floor. It bit into her shoulder and she screamed. Her good hand struck out, Bill Harvelle’s knife cutting through the hound’s throat. She hacked at the mass above her until it didn’t move, until she was covered in the stink of sulfur and corpse.

She shoved, heaving the hellspawn’s dead weight off of her chest, and screamed again when invisible teeth tore out of her flesh. She struggled to her feet, wiping something that wasn’t blood off of her blade as she went.

“That’s for Jo,” she rasped, voice harsh in the silence.

Kat picked up her gun and walked out of the barn. Dawn glimmered on the horizon. It was going to be a long day.


~~~
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