THE ROAD SO FAR: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/collection?id=2313849
Warning: this story is kind of uncomfortable JUST SAYING and it switches perspectives a bit. It'll become clearer when you read.
So we end up in New York. Because apparently even the hypothetical apocalypse can wait. Because even being a vessel can wait. I haven’t really asked Ruby about it yet, but I’m not sure I want to.
We’re in a scuzzy motel in a bad neighborhood. I lie down and wait to fall asleep, but sleep never comes. Instead, there’s just Azrael, who’s sitting in a corner of the room, staring at a wall. My sister and Wes are passed out. Fast asleep.
“Hi,” I say, dropping down onto the couch next to him. I don’t even want to know what’s on this sofa, but I get a bad feeling about the cushions.
He looks over at me. “Hello. I wanted to talk to you, Jessica…”
“Jess,” I say. “It’s Jess.”
“Right. Jess. Is something wrong?” It almost sounds like there’s emotions in his voice – concern, maybe?
“I can’t sleep.”
He shakes his head slowly. “Your time in Hell has changed you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I say, and then I grab a coat, get up, and slam the door behind me.
I don’t end up in the motel hallway. I’m somewhere else. It’s a bright white room with more ornate decorations than I can ever remember seeing. I went from disgusting to rich in three seconds flat, and I’m not sure what’s going on.
“Jessica Winchester. Well, well, well.”
I turn around to see a man in a suit with a thin black tie staring at me. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. It makes me uncomfortable, and I shift nervously on the floor, looking around. There’s no one else here with us, though.
“Who are you?”
He laughs. “My name is Zachariah.”
“Great.” I’m trying to not act as afraid as I am, but I think the fear is evident in my voice. It’s shaking a little bit. “Where am I?”
“That’s not of import, Jessica. I have only one thing to say to you.”
“Go to Hell? Hope not, because it’s not very creative. I’ve already been, and trust me – it’s not that bad.”
“Very funny,” he says in a way that makes it obvious that he’s anything but amused. “No. Jessica, I want you to say yes.”
“Yes? What the hell are you talking about?”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Jessica. And we have all the time in the world to wait.”
Yes? What could he – oh. He wants me to say yes. Yes to being a vessel. And I don’t even know whose.
“F-ck you,” I say instead, because that seems like a reasonable substitute. “I’m not saying anything.”
“Michael will not be pleased,” Zachariah says. It only takes a second for what he’s said to sink in: I’m Michael’s vessel. Which means that Ruby…
And all of a sudden, there’s a pain in my stomach, and I fall to the ground. I look up to say, “What did you do to me?” but all that comes out is a choke, and blood drips out my mouth and stains the perfectly white marble floors. An imperfection. A flaw in the wholesome beauty. But this is no heaven.
“You’re suffering from a sudden onset of stage IV stomach cancer. Unfortunate, isn’t it?”
“You won’t kill me,” I choke out between bloodied globules of spit.
“I have something else to show you,” he says. “This is your sister, am I correct?” He hits a button on a tiny remote in his pocket, and then a TV screen opens up from the wall. I watch slowly as I see Ruby’s sleeping figure. Az is still perched on a sofa in the corner.
Suddenly, hellhounds appear, and I hear Ruby start to scream as she wakes up.
“You wouldn’t want precious Ruby to go to Hell, now, would you?”
“You can’t –” I choke.
“That’s what you think. But you can stop it. All you have to do is say one little word.” He grins, and it sends shivers up my spine. “Just say it, Jessica.”
I close my eyes, take a deep breath. “Yes,” I whisper.
There’s a sudden flash of light as a victorious smile spreads across Zachariah’s face, and then I am blinded – can’t feel anything, can’t see. Can’t even hear, because there’s a screeching noise. Everything is too overwhelming, and all of a sudden, I just want to hide and never come out again. Find somewhere safe. Because it’s not safe out here anymore.
Something. I close my eyes, because it feels like there’s a particle of debris lodged in them, but after blinking a few times, it’s still there. In fact, the more I blink, the further in my head it gets. Until I feel like it’s right in the middle of my brain. A splinter lodged there. I must be dreaming, because I’m not dead yet. Or maybe I –
I am in the hotel room, and Ruby has not moved from where she was when Jessica left the room.
Since I left the room. I must keep that straight in my mind. Strolling over to the other side of the room, I see Azrael in his vessel. He has chosen someone who looks rather weak, and I can’t help but wonder why he chose this young man.
It isn’t really of any import to me, though. I seat myself on the couch near Azrael.
“Jess,” he starts.
“Hello,” I say. Then I blink.
He moves from one side of the couch and ends up nearer my side than I feel completely comfortable with. Last time we saw each other, we were engaged in fisticuffs. Since then, I have not spoken to him – my younger brother.
He puts one arm around my shoulders very gently, as if meant to comfort, and puts his other hand on my leg. I feel too much concern with his actions and their meanings, and I stand up almost immediately. Then, I realize that this may be out of character for Jessica, so I quickly apologize. “Sorry,” I say. “I’m just…”
Leaning back on the couch, he shakes his head lightly, his brow furrowed. “No, I apologize.” But his apology – despite its intended delivery to Jessica, for whom he seems to have more than platonic feelings – seems false.
“It is fine,” I say.
He gives me the strangest look, something near recognition passing on his face. “Are you…” Then, he pauses and shakes his head. “Never mind.”
As it turns out – something that I had not anticipated – Jessica, her sister, and their overly muscular friend are in New York to “work a case,” as Ruby says. It involves something to do with popular media, but I wasn’t paying any particular attention to Ruby speaking. I was too busy looking for the Colt. They must be keeping it somewhere in here.
That night, Ruby comes back and slams the door loudly. I look up. “What’s wrong?”
She sighs and hurls herself onto one of the beds. Wes is notably absent. “Wes is pissed off. And so am I.”
“Why?” Even though I could care less about her petty human concerns.
“He found out about what I did to get that room at the motel.” When no recognition registers on my face, she continues. “The room where you died. In Westerville.”
“Right. What is it, exactly, that you did?”
She rolls her eyes. “Grow up, Jess. And the guy who works at the motel desk.”
“You ‘did’ the guy who works at the motel desk?” I don’t understand what that means, but I try and repeat it like I grasp the significance of her slang-ridden sentences.
She laughs. “This is almost like when we were kids. Back when you hadn’t slept with more guys than I had. And remember how I’d tell you when I made out with Tommy?”
I have no recollection of this event, but I nod uncomfortably.
“Motel guy was disgusting, by the way. He was a sloppy kisser, and the sex was horrible. He…” She pauses. “He smelled bad. He was just gross.”
I don’t know what Jessica would say in this situation, so I end up going with, “What was it like?”
“What was WHAT like?”
“Getting to know each other in the…er, biblical sense.”
“What? The sex? Jess, come on – you’ve had more sex than I have.”
One thing that I know about Jessica is that she hasn’t. In fact, leaving Hell has healed all her wounds. And that includes…
“Ruby, when I got pulled out of Hell, all my scars and cuts were healed.”
She looks at me until some understanding flashes across her face. “You mean,” she says, choking back a laugh, “that you’re still a virgin?”
I feel my face flush involuntarily, and I cross my arms.
“Don’t play the innocent angel,” she says, laughing, and I realize that she may be suspicious of my portrayal of Jessica. Is she, as they say, “onto me?”
I feel Michael’s grip slip for a moment, and I lean forward, opening my mouth to speak to Ruby. Sh-t. I have to tell her what’s going on – and fast, before Mikey decides it’s time to take over again.
Just in time, I catch Jessica and stop her from speaking. I cannot let her spoil this. It’s my best chance.
“Why don’t you just get it over with?” Ruby asks, and I realize that she has returned to the topic of sex. Then, in a more conspiratorial whisper: “Az seems more than willing to help.”
I feel extraordinarily uncomfortable and manage to change the topic. “So what happened with you and Wes, other than that?”
“Well, remember how I told you about that stupid modeling school thing? With all those b-tches getting older instead of looking younger? Well, we were there doing a preliminary investigation, and Wes started getting way too friendly. With all the models. Not just one or two, but he started freaking hitting on all of them!” She throws her hands up in frustration.
“Did you get any information?”
“You mean, did ‘Agents Scully and Mulder’ get any information?” She tosses a very false looking FBI badge at me. “No. F-cking Wes only had these badges, and you can bet that they weren’t buying this for a minute. She groans and flops backwards on the bed again. “So we’re going to have to go with Plan B.”
“’Plan B?’” I repeat. I remember that she had been discussing something of the sort with me, but I am not clear on the details.
“We’re going undercover,” she says. “As models.”
I’m not quite sure what “models” do, but it sounds dramatic. So when Ruby goes to the restroom, I pick up a magazine off the table and open it, hoping that this brightly-colored issue will explain the ins and outs of popular culture to me. It’s filled with more useless drivel than I can bear: “How to Get Your Guy in 10 Days,” “How to Tell if He Likes it.” I’m only halfway through the second article when Ruby reappears from the restroom.
“Are you reading SEVENTEEN?”
I close it quickly, look at the cover, see that I am, and respond (in what I think is Jessica fashion), “No.”
She snatches it away. “You liar!” And then she opens it to the page I had marked. “Are you reading the sex ed section?”
This time, it is not my interest in imitating Jessica that causes me to say no.