He doesn't fit, that's what Amanda notices. He's trying, shoulders hunched, standing near the back of the crowd, but the neighbors can't seem to help shifting away from him. He glances at the family, a teenaged girl holding a baby and their father being treated by paramedics, and looks away; he stares at her a moment, looks down when she meets his gaze.
If he's a Watcher, he's the worst she's ever seen. If he's not a Watcher...
He starts moving, backing away from the people gathered across from the burning house. She watches him go; he turns once to look at the house, and the fire shows her the lines of exhaustion and sorrow on his face. Exhaustion, sorrow, and knowledge: that's all Amanda needs. Everything she's seeing tells her this fire is unnatural, and she needs to know what caused it, what might be trying to kill the teenaged pre-Immortal she's been asked to check on. She falls back as well, until she's standing in front of him on the sidewalk, blocking his path. "You're not a Watcher," she says.
He's looking at her with a kind of cautious curiosity. "Lady," he says, "I don't know what that is." His voice is rough, like he hasn't spoken much in the last few days.
"But you know what happened here."
He shrugs. "Electrical fault, is my guess."
"You aren't here because of some faulty wiring."
He meets her eyes. "We're attracting attention," is all he says.
She takes a step back so that she can scan the crowd; it's an interesting comment, even if he's wrong. And then she sees them -- a man, then a woman, something odd about their bodies, something not quite there in their faces, and all of Amanda's instincts are telling her to get away from this. It's not the Game, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous.
"Walk with me," she says. Down the block, around the corner toward her car, but there are three of them waiting, different faces but the same black and vacant eyes, the same awkward stance, as if they weren't used to their bodies yet, the same promise of violence in their hands. Amanda sees the gun -- and she has no intention of getting killed tonight, even temporarily, and is going to tell Duncan that he can run his own damn errands from now on -- and has her sword out and swinging, only to be knocked off-balance.
"They're human," her companion says. She shakes his hand off and raises the sword to point at the central figure's throat; that’s the one with the gun.
"John's right," the thing in the woman says. "All you can do with that is kill an innocent."
"You don't know who taught me," Amanda says. "I can do a lot more than use a sword." She hasn't seen a possession in three hundred years, but it's not something she'll ever forget. The Hebrew rolls off her tongue, even now, and she would swear that she can smell the herbs drying in Rebecca's kitchen and the musty vellum of the books open on the table, hear the candles spatter and the rain pound against the roof. Things older than us, Rebecca had told her, Older and more dangerous, and you may meet one someday, if you live long enough. And the rest is just another kind of healing: look, child, it isn't difficult.
She can't afford to blink back tears until she sees the smoke come out, black and soft like a Quickening in negative, and this time when the man beside her grabs her arm she lets him pull her into a run. They stop at a truck, and she climbs in, no questions, as the tires squeal and they drive away.
Nothing follows them. She watches him drive, watches him check the mirror; her fingers brush over symbols scratched into the inside of the door. John, she thinks: the demon named him John. "Are you going to tell me why you're being chased by demons, John? What they want with that family?"
"How do you know they weren't looking for you?"
She raises an eyebrow; he glances over, then back at the road.
"Are you going to tell me why you have a sword sewn into your coat?" he asks. There's a little amusement in his voice now, and his face is starting to relax. A handsome man, and a mystery. A very handsome man -- and in retrospect, it's possible that she should be paying a different kind of attention, because when he yanks at the wheel and hits the brakes she's completely unprepared to sit up from bracing herself against the dashboard and find him pointing a gun at her.
"Hey!" she says. "Did you miss the part where I just saved you from three of those things? I'm on your side, here!"
"I don't know that."
She takes a deep breath. "Okay. Well, can you admit that I'm not on their side?" The gun is probably a sign that he doesn't know what she is, but she's not about to stake her head on that, and besides, she likes this coat. Bullet holes are impossible to patch neatly.
"What were you doing back there?" he asks.
"Look," she says. "John. Whoever you are. My name's Amanda. I was doing a favor for a friend, checking on the girl there. I don't know anything about the--"
"The foster-daughter?" he asks. "The teenager?"
He sounds surprised, so she presses him. "Why not put the gun away, so we can talk about this?"
He grins. "I'd rather keep it -- I've seen how fast you are. Why a sword?"
"There are some things you need a sword to kill," she says. It's not a lie, after all.
He's watching her carefully, and it's a little late for her to look harmless now, so she meets his eyes and waits. "The girl -- is she dangerous?"
Amanda considers for a moment. The girl's a fifteen-year-old pre-Immortal who already has a juvenile criminal record; she's not exactly harmless. "Not at the moment."
"But you'll be keeping an eye on her."
"Someone will be."
And that, strangely enough, seems to work on him: she can see him make the decision, even though he doesn't move the gun. "Get out," he says.
"You aren't going to leave me here," she says. "Really? The least you could do is drive me back to my car."
"Get out," he says, "and stand by the door."
She sighs. He gets out as well, comes around the truck to pat her down. He's professional about it, at least. She turns around when he's done to see him holding her lockpicks, three small bugs and the miniature camera and receiver set she was planning to hide in the girl's bedroom. Her sword is about two feet away, leaning against the wheel.
The gun is nowhere to be seen. He must realize his mistake as soon as she smiles, because he smiles back a little nervously. "John," she says, "you understand that the only reason I haven't just kicked my tools out of your hands is because you know the difference between patting a girl down and feeling her up."
"Hunh," he says.
She smiles a little wider. "May I have my tools back?" And as he reaches out to hand them over she steps forward, right into his personal space, and sure, it's cheating because his hands are full but she still gets the gun out of his holster before he can grab it himself. "I don't like guns," she says. "And I really don't like it when people point them at me. I really, really don't like it when they happen to be people I've just helped. Are we clear about this, John?"
He clears his throat. "We're clear."
"Good," she says. They're very close. His eyes flick to her mouth; she can feel her heart beating. Her lips open slightly; his eyes are dark. When she leans forward to brush her lips over his she can feel him holding back, uncertain, just for a moment; he responds when she deepens the kiss, pulling her closer, dropping the camera and lock-picks to the ground.
When they break apart, he offers her a rueful grin. "Am I about to get a knee to the balls?"
"You could drive me back to my hotel, instead," she tells him.
The truck is quiet, aside from her directions and his acknowledgements. Her heart is still beating a little fast, and she can feel the warmth in her belly. He glances at her, now and then, as he drives, curiosity and something else.
"Well," she says, when they reach the hotel, and knows he's going to follow her even before she hears him snarling at the parking valet. But his footsteps stop just inside the door and she turns and watches him, muddy boots and dark dusty jeans in an expanse of anonymous gilt and marble, until he squares his shoulders and meets her eyes.
Across the lobby and up the elevator, and the door clicks behind them. She barely has a chance to scan the room -- her tells are all undisturbed -- before he's on her and she slams against the wall, his mouth against hers, sword in her coat digging into her hip. She pushes back, walks him further into the room. Her coat clanks when it hits the carpet; her fingers are busy unbuckling his shoulder holster -- two guns and a knife, so far, and what does this man do? -- and she gasps when his hands graze the skin at her waist.
Her shirt is on the floor as well by the time they hit the bed and if she thought having his hands on her skin was something it's nothing compared to what happens when his mouth touches the fabric of her bra: she arches up against him, against the rough lace and the tongue behind it, and god how long has it been? He mutters something she doesn't catch and presses her back down, covering the other breast with his hand, feeling the nipple, until she's squirming underneath him. He raises his head, then, with a quick grin, and she pulls a little at his hair until he lets her up; she rolls them over and sets to work getting his shirt off, first the button-down and then the t-shirt underneath it. She pauses, lets her fingers trace the scars on his torso; his eyes are shadowed again, so she leans down to kiss him, slow and sweet. Whatever he does, it's dangerous, and he's not young and he's alone; she's struck by premature grief at the thought of his mortality, of the day when he won't be faster than whatever he's facing. Then his hands are on her back, unhooking her bra, and there's only the present: his cheek rough with stubble as he kisses her throat, his skin against hers, the inevitable awkwardness as they both struggle out of their boots and jeans, and he gasps, "I don't have a--"
"It's all right," she says.
His mind is still working, she can see it in his eyes. Then she can see thought fading as she runs her hands over his skin, as she settles him above her and takes him in. He rocks against her, slow at first then faster, building a rhythm, and she's lifting up to meet him, her hands at his shoulders, in his hair, brushing his cheek. He nips gently at her thumb and she lifts her head up to kiss him again. When she opens her eyes his are closed, his face is drawn; twice, then three times, and he collapses against her.
She runs her fingers over his arm: a tattoo there, if not the one she first expected. His eyes are clearing, and he lifts himself off her and lies on his side. "I don't... ah..." He clears his throat; an embarrassed smile is making the lines crinkle around his eyes. "My full name's John Winchester."
She rolls over to smile back at him. "Amanda Darrieux. Pleased to meet you, John."
He manages a creaky laugh. "Amanda." He lays a hand on her hip to pull himself a little closer, and kisses her again: quiet, this time, less desperate. She murmurs in the back of her throat as his hands begin to move down her body, followed by his mouth, until she's gasping again and clutching the bedspread and the pleasure's almost too much to bear before it breaks.
She comes down to find him watching her. "You have so few scars," he says.
"Is that a question?"
His mouth twists. "No questions."
"Unless, of course," she pushes him over, onto his back, straddling him, "you'd care to share some answers?" She leans down and kisses him. It's comfortable now, slow, she can feel the pressure building inside her again too as she moves above him.
When they're done he holds her against him. "I should go," he says.
"Stay," she tells him. "You'll need to drive me back to my car in the morning."
He's on the verge of sleep as it is; it's all she can do to move him enough to get him under the sheets and blanket. He puts her arms around her again. "I'm hunting a demon," he says into her hair. "Not like those, older. Older and stronger." His voice is almost too low to hear.
She lifts her head to answer, but his eyes are closed, and his breathing is even. In the morning, Amanda thinks, before he leaves, she'll write out Rebecca's incantation for him. She'll leave a few names for him, too; not much, but it might help.
Thanks to Celli and Killa for beta-reading. Any remaining mistakes are all mine; they both tried mightily to make this story better. Written for the "Get John Laid" ficathon. All recognizable characters and elements are the property of their respective creators. I make no claim to ownership of or profit from previously copyrighted materials. Original elements are my own.