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Migratory Paths by dee
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Author's Notes:
Thanks to Brenda, always, for kicking my ass when I need it, even if she made me spell everything American and doesn't feel the Olga-love. *G*
NOTES: There are visual aids for Olga and (should anyone need them) the Winchesters.
- Dean and Sam Winchester roam around the United States, finding and killing evil phenomena and looking for their missing father, not flinching from a little mayhem or impersonating officers of the law where necessary. Dean's an old-skool shit-kicker, but Sam has prophetic dreams and various other odd tele-powers.
- Olga is an "Other" (supernatural being) and member of the Night Watch (warriors against the Dark). She's something of a mystery, but has certainly been alive a goodly long time, working with her Moscow boss, Geser. She was turned into a stuffed owl for sixty years for heinous crimes unspecified, but turned back when she was assigned as partner/protector to Anton Gorodetsky, a troubled Seer.

=====

She was seated next to the most boring man in existence on the flight from Moscow. It had taken her exactly thirty seconds to figure that one out, and fortunately she hadn't said anything more to him than, "Olga," so she had pretended not to understand English.

She didn't want to talk to him, anyway. He was sure to ask something along the lines of, "Why are you leaving Russia?" and she couldn't be bothered making up a lie. She certainly wasn't going to admit that it was because of Anton. Not out loud. Not until doing so would get her laid.

So she drank vodka, and watched a movie, and drew pictures from her memory - a Tang dancing girl, a hawk on the wing over the steppes, a Janissary sword - drank more vodka, and was still awake when the sun rose to show land approaching, far below.

"Welcome to the New World," she whispered against the glass, her breath fogging it.



She was met off the flight by a little slip of a girl who introduced herself as Laurel, and plainly didn't know what to make of Olga, who was wearing her sunglasses even inside and was still in the unfortunate space between still drunk and hung-over. "You work for Christopher?" Olga asked, more or less leading the way through the airport.

"Yes, I do. Uh, ma'am, luggage collection is this way."

"Haven't got any." Olga settled the strap of her backpack more securely against her shoulder. "A good guy, Christopher."

"You know him?"

"I've met him." Portugal. During that fucking debacle that landed half the city in the sea. Before this chit was born, Olga'd bet hard currency on it, and she doubted Chris had ever talked about it.

Laurel had a car, a little red Western thing with a streamlined silhouette and absolutely no soul. Olga toyed with the idea that she'd died and was stuck in purgatory. Bland. Boring. She missed Moscow already like the sharp bite of winter. "He'd like to meet with you, if you're not too tired," Laurel told her, as Olga slung her pack into the back and herself into the passenger seat.

"Sleep is for the young," Olga said, and wished she had more vodka.



Since Portugal, Christopher had acquired a business suit, a slick corporate office and a limp. He greeted her with a handshake and, "What the hell happened in Moscow?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." She kicked her bag under his desk and dropped her sunglasses on his blotter. "Vodka, water, coffee. In that order or all at once, I don't care."

She got all three; Chris just had coffee. She put her booted feet up on his desk and he practiced his putting in the corner. She told him what happened in Moscow. He didn't believe her.

"Anyway," she said at the end, "so here I am. What have you got for me? Geser wasn't too forthcoming on the details." Geser hadn't wanted her to leave. Tough luck for Geser.

"That's because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with you." Chris grinned, shrugged. "But if the Great Olga wanted to come here, I wasn't going to say no." He took his seat behind his desk, balancing his putter on his palm. "First time in the States?"

"Yes."

"Felt like a change?"

"Something like that."

He tapped a closed file on his desk with the putter. "For now," he said, "I want you to be my gofer girl. I'll put you somewhere eventually, but I have a traveling problem."

"Oh?" she said, bored already. She shouldn't have left.

"They're called Winchester. I want them to stop being a headache, and start being an asset."



Chris gave her a car and a lot of maps. They drove on the right side of the road over here; they also had road rules. She solemnly swore to be circumspect, and shoved the rest of the paperwork Laurel gave her into the glove compartment.

"Massachusetts," Chris said. "Somewhere. I'll let you know if we hear anything." That was about it; the vaguest set of job instructions she'd ever had, and she'd worked with Geser for over two hundred years.

So she drove. It was interesting, the whole American thing. The radio was an experience all of its own. The music, the places, the cars all the time. She felt like she had to be on her best fucking behavior. "I shouldn't have left," she thought every second beat. Anton fucking Gorodetsky.

There was a hotel when she finally got tired, and she went in belligerent and came out perplexed and with keys. This place, it was nothing like home.

She thought maybe she could get used to it.



She had absolutely no reason to expect "I'm looking for two guys, Dean and Sam," to get her anywhere, until it got her, "Dunno, but two guys just came into town."

Well then.

She chased them down in a local bar, slid into the third seat at the table along with a new round of beers, saying, "Let me," and flipping her ID open even as the tall one said, "Uh, who the hell are--"

He shut up around then. ("We'll set you up with FBI tags," Chris had said. "It's how we operate. Slip through the cracks, mostly. Don't make fucking waves for me, y'hear?")

The other one, the one with the leather jacket and the ready grin, said, "Sorry, ma'am. What can we do for you?"

Olga shoved their beers towards them, despite the fact they weren't quite finished their old ones, and picked up her own (vodka was expensive here, and besides, when in Rome...). "You'd be Dean Winchester, then," she said, took a sip, pointing with her little finger, "so that'd be Sam."

Sam looked stony; Dean looked deeply and sincerely baffled. "Don't know what you're talking about."

Everyone acted in this country. Constantly performing. Some Hollywood thing? And the beer was fucking awful. She set it down and pushed it into the middle of the table. "Look, have that if you want, I need a proper drink."

They did a runner while she was at the bar, of course. "Boys in the corner still there?" she asked, as the tender handed over her vodka, and when he glanced over her shoulder and shook his head, Olga smiled.

So Christopher had stressed subtlety. Christopher wasn't here. This was her gig. So long as it worked out, it was all good. Olga might not always get what she set out for - a certain recent notable example sprang immediately to mind - but she was determined to get this.


*


Their exit from the bar might've been silent, but once they'd thrown everything into the car and slammed the doors, Dean laid down enough rubber to make heads pop up in the window of the diner across the street. He'd hit fourth gear by the city limits, and didn't show any signs of stopping in the next few hours. That plan was fine with Sam.

"She knew our names," he said. "Man, you're supposed to be dead."

Grim silence. You could break things on the hard line of Dean's jaw.

Sam slumped down in his seat, hands over his face. "Maybe it was nothing," he muttered into his palms. "Routine."

A scornful snort from Dean. Unspoken: Yeah, you really think that?

No, he didn't really think that. Which was good, because that meant they hadn't, actually, fucked up by taking flight like skittish pigeons.

"Hey," Dean said, and Sam let his hands drop, looked over. Dean glanced sideways, just a flicker of eyes. "Why were you so snippy at her?"

Sam frowned. "What?"

"When she sat down. You just about bit her head off. I thought Mr. Politeness Himself was on the rag or something."

Sam smacked his brother's shoulder, but it was half-hearted. "I don't know," he said, trying to think, running the memory again in his head. A twitchy feeling, a chill along his spine, and when he'd looked up, she was right there. "I just didn't like the look of her."

Dean snorted again. "She wasn't the hottest thing in the place, I'll give you that."

Yeah, well, Dean would think that. She'd had a sharp face. Heavy features. Wild tangle of curly, dark hair. Not classically pretty at all, so of course Dean's eyes had slid right past her. Not a shred of vulnerability about her, but maybe that came with the badge. How old had she been? Hard to tell; Sam couldn't decide. "Did you catch the name on her ID?" he asked.

Dean shook his head. "Something long and jaw-breaking."

Foreign, maybe. "She had an accent," he realized. Pretty faint - Sam'd bet she'd been speaking English for a long time - but it was there. Eastern European, maybe. "Russian, I think." They'd had a guest speaker from somewhere in the old Soviet Republic once back at school. He'd sounded a bit like her.

"So?"

He'd been fumbling around the edges of something, but now it came clear. "I don't think she's really FBI."

A longer glance from Dean this time, just to convey the weight of his 'dude, what?' look. "The Cold War's over, you know."

Sam pulled a face and sat up straighter. "Not just the accent. She didn't act like a Fed. You think they let them go running around if they fall for stunts like we just pulled? Dean, we walked away from her. And she was on her own; don't they work in pairs, at least?"

"You watch too much TV," Dean said dismissively, but Sam could tell from the crease between his eyebrows that he was thinking about it. So Sam kept quiet and let him mull. It earned him another whiplash glance and, "She had the ID, man."

"We have the ID. You keeping secrets, Agent Winchester?"

Dean smirked at the road. "Yeah, OK. So maybe she wasn't FBI."

"But why's she wanna talk to us?" Sam finished, tapping fingers against his knee. Shadows were flying past outside the car, murky as his mind. He ran the memory again. There was something he was missing. Something that'd make it make sense.

"Whoever she is," Dean said, shifting down to overtake a truck, "she's behind us now."



Two days later, they were in a diner, just finishing up with dinner and arguing about whether a sufficiently violent death could displace a spirit in time as well as place (and therefore whether the incident could be the fault of someone who hadn't even died yet). Dean, rolling his eyes out the window, suddenly yelped, "Shit!" and earned himself a glare from the family of four two tables over.

Sam looked out the window - the glint of a silver sedan, and taillights. "What?"

"The spook," Dean spat, levering himself up to wrench his wallet out of his back pocket. "Fake spook. What the fuck ever. Come on."

Sam grabbed their stuff as Dean threw money down next to his mostly empty plate. Sam felt the chill down his spine, the same one he'd had when she'd found them before, and realized he'd had it for a while now.

They spilled out onto the sidewalk, Dean taking two steps out into the road to clear the parked cars. Down the street, in the gathering gloom, the silver car took a nonchalant right, disappearing behind a block of dark shops. The night was quiet and still, and Sam would feel a little ridiculous, if the skin on the back of his neck wasn't still crawling.

"You sure?" he said, pretty much unnecessarily, as he threw Dean his jacket.

"Yeah," Dean said, shrugging it on. He looked about the grumpiest Sam had ever seen him, and that included the time someone had keyed the Impala. "I looked her full in the face. It was like she expected to see me."

"She followed us." Again unnecessary, but it needed to be said, because how? How the fuck had she done it? "So now what?"

Dean braced one heel on the curb, shoving his hands in his pockets. "We got a job here."

They did. One girl dead, two others in hospital. "But--"

"I'm not running again, Sam." Dean 'belligerence should have been my middle name' Winchester had spoken. He kicked at the gutter. "If she can track us like that, not much point in running, anyway. We'd do better to find out who she is and what she wants."

Sam agreed, pretty much. "But what if she is actually a Fed? What if we end up arrested?"

Dean flashed that black-humored smirk. "If she can find us, she can damn well find Dad, and he can bail us out."



They flipped a coin next morning; Dean got the task of looking up the fake spook, Sam got the local job. An incident at a local swimming hole where everything had gone horribly and inexplicably wrong. One girl dead, two of her friends in hospital. A whole lot of witnesses with incredibly jumbled stories.

The obvious answers were a selkie or water creature of some description - despite the fact no one saw anything that could be construed as one, it was still a possibility - or the always reliable ghost option. Either of them left evidence, a trail that could be traced. A history of similar events, or an incident that had forged the haunting. But they'd looked yesterday, and found nothing (hence the argument that had been interrupted by their follower's unexpected return).

There was always something to be found, Sam told himself. They just weren't looking hard enough, or in the right places. He'd do better without Dean anyway, or at least without him kicking at Sam's ankle every fifteen minutes and thinking up some new angle.

He ran every search he could think of on the news archives, then went through the obits with a fine-tooth comb. He even, with the help of a bored and helpful junior librarian, found a hand bound collection of local folktales that had a whole lot of stuff that was really interesting, and entirely unrelated (though by the sounds of it, they should swing by the Town Hall just on general principle; save themselves having to come back this way again).

By the time his phone vibrated, halfway through the afternoon, Sam had a page of notes with increasing numbers of question marks at the end of each line, and absolutely nothing even close to a concrete lead.

He stacked the books up neatly and gave the junior librarian a friendly wave as he left - she had been very helpful - and waited until he was outside to call Dean back.

"Dude, you couldn't answer?"

"You were worried? I was in the library, man. A river spirit can hardly push shelves over on me."

"Oh, hey, so I'm right about the spirit?"

Sam shrugged, squinting up at the next building (wondering if it was the town hall) as he turned down the street and started walking. "If you are, she's either the least bloodthirsty one ever, or she's new to the area." He kicked at a can. "But there's nothing else. Nothing."

"It happens."

"Yeah, well. How'd you do?"

"Much better, of course."

Sam pulled a face, knowing that Dean would know it was there even though he couldn't see it.

"You were right, by the way, our friend's no Fed. I don't know what the hell she is, though. The car seems to be registered to some bunch who have a connection to the FBI, but aren't official. It gets complicated, so I'll spare you the details--"

"Ha. Ha."

"--but the bottom line is that she has no right to flash that badge, and that? Makes us even."

Sam cut across a vacant lot, the grass long and damp around his ankles. "But how did she track us?"

"When we get our hands on her, that's the first thing I intend to shake out of her."

Ordinarily, Sam would chide his brother for thinking with his fists; on this occasion he felt too similarly to start throwing stones.

"Anyway, where are you?"

"On my way back to the swimming hole." He paused to let a car go past before crossing a road.

An impatient noise down the phone. "We went over it, Sammy."

"Then we must have missed something, Dean."

Dean was rolling his eyes; Sam could tell. "Fine. I'll meet you there."



The swimming hole was an absolutely beautiful spot, sheltered and shaded and far enough from the town to be quiet while close enough to be convenient. There was no one else there. A tire dangled patiently from a rope knotted around an overhanging branch. The muddy bank slewed down into the undisturbed, calm green water.

Sam stayed clear of it and the trees. Better safe than dead. He stood at the top of the bank, scanning the waterline for the sort of tangled snags water creatures liked. Some variety of mermaid, perhaps a selkie or an undine. Or a critter: a grindylow, a kelpie. Maybe even a bunyip, it'd be a good spot for one.

He scratched at the back of his neck, then thought, Chill, and turned so fast the scenery blurred.

She was standing just inside the surrounding trees, watching him, hands in the pockets of her jeans. She wasn't armed, but neither was Sam, and all the hair on his body seemed to be trying to stand on end, something screaming at him, and he didn't know why.

She took two steps forward, and he took two back. "Who the hell are you?" he demanded. Like he had the first time, before she'd cut him off.

This time, she answered. "I'm Olga."

Like that explained everything.

"Why are you following us?" he asked. She wasn't doing anything threatening. He wasn't at all reassured. In fact, if he got any more tense, he was going to have trouble moving, but he couldn't seem to relax, no matter how hard he willed himself to.

"I'm not," she said.

Sam let the skepticism drip off his words. "Oh, really?"

"I'm following you."

The words tightened across the back of his head like the precursor to pain. "Why?"

"Why do you think?" She answered fast, not giving him any leeway. A step forward; a step back, his feel almost skidding in mud. "Why are you here, Sam?"

"I--" She wasn't at all threatening, hands still in her pockets, tone easy, eyes not hard but nowhere near soft, practically a foot shorter than him with no suspicious resemblance to Lara Croft. Not at all threatening, except that she was. Except that there was this feeling like she was holding something over his head.

She let it fall. "You can see it. What happened here. If you try."

Pain. He thought he'd become a little accustomed to it, could work through it, but this went through his head like a metal spike. He was on his knees in the mud and she hadn't moved, but there were smeared shadows all around them, like the memory of people.

"Sam!" It was a bellow, and Sam blinked hard, pushing aside shards of light as Dean burst out of the trees, gun coming up and firing in the next moment.

Time congealed. Sam's head hurt. Without even looking, the woman - Olga - turned sideways, the bullet whipping through the space her shoulder had occupied. She took a step back, starting to fade. By the time her foot landed, she was gone.

Time snapped back. The bullet snapped through a branch and sent it crashing into the swimming hole, shattering the calm. Sam crumpled forward, fists on the ground to keep his forehead out of the mud. Dean crouched down beside him. "Sam, you alright?" One hand on Sam's shoulder; the other still held the gun, pointed low and ready.

Sam nodded; his vision was clearing as he blinked hard, looking up. There was absolutely nothing where Olga had been save for her footprints in the mud. "That was her," he said.

"What did she do to you?" Dean's hand tilted his chin up, twisting his head this way and that.

Looking for blood, Sam realized. He winced. "I don't know. Nothing. Ow, quit it, my head hurts." He smacked Dean's hand away, leaving a smear of mud on his brother's wrist. "Olga," he said, getting up on one knee. "Her name's Olga."

"Thanks for the introduction," Dean said, getting his shoulder under Sam's, helping him fully upright. "What was she doing here?"

Sam blinked, afterimages still chasing each other across reality. "Following me," he said vaguely. "She said... she said I could see what happened here, if I tried."

"And can you?"

"Maybe." Sam frowned down at the swimming hole, at the faint ripples still outlining the fallen branch. "It wasn't a creature."

Dean was getting very good at taking things in stride. He didn't even ask questions any more, which was good, because Sam wasn't entirely sure how he knew this. That hadn't been quite like his usual visions. "A ghost, then," was all his brother said.

Sam shook his head, and only winced a little. It was fading. "Not that either."

"Then what?"

He shrugged. "Something else."

Dean gave him a long, steady look. "Gee, thanks, Sam."

Sam smacked his shoulder, leaving muddy knuckle marks. Dean thumbed the safety back on the gun.


*


Sam was quiet in the car. He'd washed the mud off his hands in the swimming hole, ignoring Dean's declarations that if something pulled him in, he could just drown.

"I told you," he called back up the bank, wiping his hands on his jeans, "there's nothing in there."

Arguing with a psychic was the least satisfying part of Dean's job. Doubly so when it was his brother.

Sam wasn't just quiet, he was grim, with that jut to his chin that meant he was thinking hard about something - around and around in circles, like he did - and he wouldn't be talking until he figured it out or needed more input. Which was pretty much fine with Dean, because every thirty seconds he was coming back to some variation of: Dude, she dodged it like she was something out of the Matrix, and then she just fucking disappeared.

She wasn't a ghost. Couldn't be. Except that she'd disappeared, right in front of his eyes.

"So." When Sam finally spoke, it was out of the blue and made Dean flinch, but he covered it by hitting the indicator, glancing over at Sam. "What's 'a connection with the FBI but not official' mean?"

Dean twitched his lip. "Don't really know, actually. Everyone was sounding slightly confused about it, but I didn't want to sound too interested in case they started asking why I cared."

"If she belongs to some sort of organization," Sam started.

And Dean finished, "Then are they all like her? Whatever she is." He glanced sidelong at Sam, still grim. "And what does she want with you?" Nothing from the passenger seat, so he added, "What did she say to you?"

"What I told you," Sam responded, curt.

They pulled up outside the motel, and in the silence after the engine died, Dean said, "She's Olga; she's following you; you can see things, if you try."

Sam tilted his head back against the headrest, staring at the ceiling of the car. "Something else."

"Yeah?"

Dean wanted Sam to look at him - that would mean he'd sorted this out in his head, was ready to let Dean in - but he just kept staring up. "When I asked her why she was here, she said, 'Why do you think?'"

"Well," Dean said. "Why do you think?"

No immediate answer. Sam flung off his seatbelt, got out of the car. When both their doors were closed and Dean was drumming his fingers on the roof of the car, Sam said, facing into the wind, hands in his back pockets, "She wants me to be something. Become something. Something different."

"You are something different," Dean pointed out.

Sam looked at him then, but there was nothing inclusionary in it. "No. Not like this."



There was a full-length mirror on the wall beside Dean's bed, and despite Sam saying it was good feng shui or some shit, it wigged Dean out a little. Even more so when he rolled over in the middle of the night and saw, reflected in it, that woman sitting at the little motel-room table in the corner.

He yelled, and flipped back over, knife in hand, but the chair, pushed back from the table, was entirely empty in the dim-lit room. Sam lurched up from his bed as Dean looked over at the mirror - she was there - and when Dean looked back, Sam was over at the table. Dean got out of bed, his brother a blur of shadowed monochrome movement in his peripheral vision, and by the time he was standing, they had a situation on their hands.

She was on her knees and Sam had a fistful of her hair and the barrel of his gun against her temple. Dean had seen her just melt away into nothing, and three seconds ago he'd have sworn she wasn't there entirely, but she wasn't looking any less solid now, starting up at Sam with hard eyes. Dean would admire her guts if he wasn't trying to think of ways to talk Sam out of a murder charge. Even if she wasn't a Fed, someone was going to miss her.

"Shooting me won't help anything," she said evenly, and Dean felt like laughing, like saying, 'I try to tell him that all the time.' There was hysteria on his tongue, and he couldn't shake the feeling that it might not help, but if Sam pulled that trigger it would change everything. He couldn't think why, since they dispatched eldritch shit every day, and she was definitely that, whatever else she was.

Seconds ticked by, and Sam's hand didn't even twitch, and neither did she. If Dean hadn't been watching so closely, he probably would have missed Sam's knuckles loosening in her hair, and it would have come entirely as a surprise when he stepped back from her, uncocking the gun.

"Dean," he said, "this is Olga. Olga, my brother Dean."

Still on her knees, she looked at him, her face sharp in a way that made him think of avian predators. Dean flashed a tight smile, saluted her with the knife. "Hi."



It was only half-past midnight, and the tavern out at the crossroads was still open and serving, which was just as well, because Dean didn't know about anyone else, but he needed a drink. Olga came up to the bar with him, scanning the spirits and pulling an expressive face before ordering a double shot of topshelf Russian vodka. She offered to buy the round, and smirked when Dean said they could look after themselves.

She'd been the one to suggest going out, going somewhere else, and had objected when Dean said he was coming along. Not strenuously, just a shake of her head, and, "It might be best if Sam and I talk alone first; this is a complicated matter, and not your business." Almost kind, like she was saving him trouble.

Sam wasn't impressed, as grim as he'd been all day. "What happens to me is more his business than it is yours," he'd stated, shrugging his shirt on. "He's coming."

Back at the table, with a beer in front of him, Sam said, "So, what am I?"

Olga took a sip of her vodka, with more of a smile than a wince. "We," she said, "are Others. Something beyond normal. Magic, perhaps. We have abilities - gifts - far beyond what the average human can achieve. We manifest when we need to, and are Other from then on, influenced by the energy of which side we choose."

"Side?" Dean asked.

She glanced at him. "Light or Dark. The two opposing forces in the world. The forces we represent. That we fight for, if we're of the Night or Day Watch. It's a choice we all make, one that cannot be unmade." She was watching Sam, but Sam was watching the table, or his beer glass. "There are many sorts of Others, we're all a little different," she said, tone lighter. "They call me a sorceress. I have a friend who can turn into a tiger."

Dean would be perfectly happy, thanks, if his brother didn't have great big claws and teeth when he was mad at him. He glanced over at Sam, still concentrating on his beer glass. "So what am I?" Sam asked his beer.

"Hard to say," Olga responded. "You'll develop your own powers. But I suspect you're a sort of seer."

There was silence, and Dean shifted in his chair. "So you stalked us across two states just to tell him this? How did you do that, by the way?"

Another glance, and Dean loved the feeling like he was just a distraction from the main event, no really. "A basic spell. Saliva on the beer glass." Dean pulled a face; that was sort of gross. "I'm good at what I do," she added. No bravado, just the facts. Dean could almost appreciate that, one professional to another.

"You didn't answer the question," Sam said, looking up from his beer to skewer Olga with that stare of his (except Olga didn't seem too skewered). "Why go to all this trouble?"

She drank some more vodka, perhaps buying time to think. "I was sent to find you," she said, setting the glass down again. "By the coordinator of the Night Watch in this country; he's an old friend, I'm doing him a favour. You're an Other, Sam, and the fate of our kind is every Other's concern, especially that of an emerging one."

"You wanted me to be on your side." Sam threw it across the table like a challenge.

"And aren't you?" She tossed it back.

"No," he said. Her eyebrows lifted, and he added, "I don't want it. I don't want to be an Other."

"But you are," she said.

Sam shook his head. "I choose what I am. What I do. My choice."



"My choice," she repeated, when they were waiting outside for Sam to use the bathroom before they headed back to the motel. She was leaning against the veranda support of the tavern, her hair a gilded tangle under the streetlight. "Bloody seers," she said.

Dean leant against the front of the Impala, hands in his pockets. "You know another one?" he asked. Just making conversation. Just curious. Just out of his depth.

"Yeah, I know another one. In Moscow. His name's Anton." She started laughing, but Dean didn't get it, so he stayed quiet. She didn't quite stop laughing before she added, "I've known a few. They're always the most bloody-minded fuckers."

That drew a short snap of laughter out of Dean. "Yeah, well," he said. "Sam's hard to beat for stubbornness."

Olga grinned. "But they do tend to be Light, I'll give them that."

Light versus dark. Wasn't that the story of their lives? "Sam couldn't have been anything else."

"You'd be surprised," Olga said, shifting against the pillar. "It's a moment of balance, the choice. No matter what you think, in that moment, it could go either way."

Dean looked down, thinking of Olga on her knees and Sam's finger on the trigger. He kicked at the dirt. "Were you-- I mean." He paused, looked up at her, the heavy lines of her face in the long shadows. "You aren't afraid of dying, are you?"

"I've lived a long time," she said. "I've breathed many times and thought it was my last, and nearly seen the whole world end at least half a dozen times. There's little left to hold fear over me." She grinned. "Then again, I would have said that about surprises too, but seems there's still a few of those around."

Sam came out of the tavern, tread heavy on the veranda. "At the swimming hole," he said without preamble, "you said I could see."

"What did you see?" Olga asked.

"A shadow," Sam said. "Sort of looming over them."

"A curse," Olga diagnosed. "A sort of spell, cast by a witch. Usually not fatal, or if they are, we catch them before they go this far. Someone slipped up." She pushed off the pillar. "You should get back. Get some sleep. We've work to do in the morning."


*


She met them at the hospital the next morning, and Dean talked them in to see the two survivors. He was really quite good at that, but when Olga told him that, he just grunted and said, "Couldn't you just do your disappearing thing?"

"The Gloom's usually more trouble than it's worth," she responded, glancing into rooms as they passed them. "And if I took you in, you'd die."

She waited in the hall while they went in to talk to the girls. ("Human interaction isn't actually my specialty," she said, and Dean said, "No, really?" and Sam smacked his shoulder.) She watched through the window, unable to hear a thing. They obviously knew what they were doing. Sam would make a damn good officer of the Night Watch. Except, of course, that he was on this denial kick. He'd get over that.

At least he'd chosen the Light. Olga rubbed at her forehead. At least.

She found a chair and a magazine. Fifteen minutes later, when they came back out, she looked up and said, "Did you know Britney's pregnant again?"

Dean said, "What?"

Sam said, "We've got a lead, come on."

Olga looked down at the magazine. "Who the hell is Britney, anyway?"



The girls were popular, cheerleaders. (And Dean had to explain that to her as well, while he was explaining who Britney Spears was - "Where the hell have you been?" he demanded, and looked baffled when she replied, truthfully, "In a box in a dark cupboard.") By the sounds of things they probably weren't the nicest girls in the world, which explained why one of their classmates had put the curse on them.

"Could this chick - what was her name? - yeah, Anna. Could she be the witch?" Dean asked, looking at Olga in the rearview.

"Maybe," she allowed. "But more likely she went to a licensed witch and paid for it."

"You license them?"

Olga looked at the back of Sam's ear, the smallest slice of profile she could see from her seat in the back. "Others are what they are, Light or Dark. We're formed by the energy of humans. We don't police humanity, and they're capable of all manner of good and evil."

She'd told him, before she'd left them at the motel the night before, that denial wouldn't do him any good.

"It's not denial," he'd said, and Dean had snorted and gone inside, leaving the door open. Sam set his jaw. "I just want to be human."

Olga had, actually, tried not to laugh. "Is this some Seer thing? This fixation with humanity?"

He'd just glared, and gone inside, closing the door just short of a slam. Which was probably just as well, or otherwise she might actually have told him how well wanting to be human had worked out for Anton.

She felt so old, looking at Sam. But, really, who was she to tell him how the world worked? He had time to make his own mistakes, and she didn't think Dean would let him go easy, so maybe he'd be fine.

Still.

"There are some things you have to accept," she said, as they waited in a café for school to let out. "And things you have to learn. Things that could kill you if you aren't careful."

"Like what?" Sam challenged.

"The Gloom," she said. "Your abilities."

He stirred his coffee. "The minimum," he allowed, though it sounded more like a demand.

She smiled, something like nostalgia, remembering Anton bolshy and in her face, ignoring her, having it his way. Well, hell, why not? Maybe he could pull this off. Maybe he could walk some line. She'd seen weirder things. She'd seen the world change. Maybe he should at least be given the chance.

Christopher wouldn't like it. Christopher wanted him leashed to the side of good. Christopher could whistle for it. Sometimes she wondered if they completely missed the point of the world, people like him and Geser, analyzing it from their offices like it was a game of chess.

Besides, if Olga had been in the habit of caring what people wanted of her, she wouldn't have wound up encased in feathers and missing everything after Stalin.

"I can teach you to channel the visions a little." Tricks of Anton's, and basic sorcery discipline. Easy enough. "And how to step out of the Gloom, but not in." Damned if she'd lose this one that way.

He nodded, once. "Deal."

They had time; she got started. Dean, she was almost surprised to see, took notes in a small, hidebound notebook. When Sam quirked a quizzical eyebrow at him, he said, "Man, Dad's going to want to know about this shit."

Later, they sent Dean to go chat up schoolgirls, and sitting in the car (Dean's ridiculously American car), she took Sam into the Gloom. Shadows stretched, the sun a shrouded spotlight, everything the thick blue of dusk and etched with the menacing drone of mosquitoes.

"What is this place?"

The one question that, in all her years, Olga hadn't managed to find an answer for. "The shadow behind the world," she suggested. "The place we come from, maybe. Stay here too long, and it will take you." He turned and looked at her. "You'll die."

"Why?"

She thought about it. "No humans, perhaps." She gestured down the empty, shadowed street in front of them. "They are our power. We are nothing without them."

He nodded, and she felt a little as though she'd just proved something. She hid her smile, and showed him how to step out again, into the light.

Where Dean flinched, pulling the car door open, and as he threw himself into the driver's seat, said, "Jesus fuck that's freaky. Can't you ring a fucking bell or something?"

"What have you got?" Sam asked, ignoring his brother.

"Address of the witch," Dean said. "Next town over."

"What's it called?" Olga asked, pulling out her phone and bringing up the directory of Night Watch stations.



The house was just like every other one in the street, absolutely normal. Olga had made the call when they hit the city limits, and by the time they arrived, there was a van parked in the street, and the front door of the house was open. As they got out of the car, a middle-aged woman came down the front steps.

"Olga?" she said, and smiled, holding out her hand. "I'm Margaret, it's a pleasure to finally meet you." She glanced over at the Winchester brothers, standing by the car, then looked back at Olga. "Thanks for the tip. Everything's in hand. We're processing the arrest now. Would you like to...?" She gestured up at the house.

"No," Olga said. "No, thanks. You go ahead, I'll be along in a few minutes."

Margaret nodded, smiled again, and headed back inside.

Olga turned to the boys. Dean was staring off down the street, squinting in the sunlight. Sam was almost glaring at her. She smiled at him. He said, "That's it?"

"That's it," she said, still smiling. "The Watch will handle it. Not your business, is it?"

Sam was, she thought, grinding his teeth. Dean looked like he was possibly trying not to smirk. "Fine," Sam spat. "We'll be going, then."

He grabbed the keys from his brother's hand, and stalked around the far side of the car, slamming the driver's side door behind him. Dean offered her a smile, which Olga returned, as he opened his door. "See you around," he suggested.

"Perhaps," she allowed.

As they drove off, Margaret appeared on the porch again, cell phone in hand. "Um, Olga?" she called, and Olga turned, coming up the path. "It's Christopher in New York," Margaret said, holding out the phone. "We rang to report the arrest, and he wants to talk to you."

"I'm sure he does," Olga said, taking the phone. She could hear Chris yelling before she even got the phone to her ear, and smiled. This was familiar. This was almost like home.

Maybe she could get used to it here after all.