Disclaimer: Alas, none of these characters belong to me, and neither does the universe they inhabit. I'm just borrowing them, and make no profit from this beyond my own entertainment.

This ficlet is a tag for Supernatural episode 2.12: Nightshifter and contains spoilers for that episode.

Summary: During the slow walk of fear toward safety, Sherri begins to join the dots.
Warning: This fic contains run-on sentences. These may leave readers feeling a little breathless, but that's the whole point. Honest.


She tried to close her ears to the sounds of continuing struggle behind them as they hurried out into the hallway, tried not to imagine how high her therapy bill was going to be after all this. Myfacethroatcutstillalivefightingkilling....

"I'm sorry," the tall one, Sam, muttered into her ear as he ushered her along, a reassuring presence all of a sudden, after the threat he'd seemed just minutes earlier. From fellow hostage to hostage taker to potential rapist and murderer to possible saviour, all in one day. God, she really needed a stiff drink. And maybe a rewind button on the whole day, so she could go back and just not get out of bed. Sam's voice was so low she could barely make out the words. "We just...we needed to know which was the real you."

Which was the real her? Panic bubbled back up and edged toward hysteria. She gulped a few quick breaths of air, tried to get a grip. Myfacethroatcutstillalive....

"My face." She heard a quaver in her voice, so much shriller than usual, felt bile rise in her throat at the memory. But no repeat performance of the fainting act she'd pulled, thank God. "My face, that was me, oh God, it looked like me, it was ?"

Myfacethroatcutstillalivefightingkilling.... If she was the real her, then what was that?

"It wasn't you. Don't worry about it." Sam shushed her vaguely and tried to hurry her along, his attention focused intently on their surroundings. The building was dark, creepy in a way she'd never known before in all the time she'd worked here, all kinds of unidentifiable and oddly sinister little noises away in the distance. Some not distant enough. How could she not worry about it? It was her face! Her face on a dead body that wasn't.

"I don't understand." Needed to understand. "My face, it's not ? that's not possible, how could ??"

Sam glanced at her. "Let's just get you out of here, okay?"

We believe you, that's why we're here, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you, and you're all in danger, and everything's going to be all right, and this is the last time you kill anybody....

The words danced around in her head and came together to make no real sense at all. And yet comprehension, of a kind, dawned anyway, pieces falling into place to form part of a picture. She'd always hated puzzles. "This is why you're here. Isn't it? That thing. That thing with my face. You were looking for it."

"Well, it didn't have your face at the time," Sam absent-mindedly murmured, paying more attention to where they were going and to those noises in the distance than to her. His voice was still so low she could barely make out the words, the need for quiet and caution thrumming off him in waves, and that disclaimer made even less sense than the dead girl ? thing ? with her face coming back to life in the first place.

And...the longer we just sit here, the longer he has to change, they'd said, back when all this started. The hell did that mean? She wanted to scream with the frustration of not understanding, with the fear, and the confinement, the lack of air conditioning, the scary noises in the dark, and the...the everything. Held the scream in, reminded herself to breathe.

They'd reached a corner and Sam put out an arm to hold her back as he peered cautiously around it, wary and concerned. "We didn't exactly plan for it to go down like this. I'm sorry."

More noises, less distant now. She caught herself drawing closer to Sam instinctively, fearful, thought again about that thing with her face. This is the last time you kill anybody and get her out of here. Maybe she'd been right the first time, about the hero. Both of them. She glanced behind her, back toward the office they'd just come out of. People had died here today and more still might, and, God, that was another potential hyperventilation thought right there. No way she could work here again, ever, after all this. "Will your brother be okay?" she found herself wondering aloud, voice wobbling still.

Sam glanced at her again, surprised, shot a quick look back down the hallway with just a hint of concern ghosting across his face, but nodded. "Dean can handle himself. Come on, it's clear."

Myfacethroatcutstillalive and allindangerlasttimeyoukillanyone and didn'thaveyourfaceatthetime, and maybe she would hyperventilate and faint again, after all, because what the hell was going on here? Why her, why here, why now, why any of it? Tears now, that she blinked back furiously because she needed to see where she was going, not that she could, not properly, in the dark, and her hands were shaking, her everything was shaking, but she followed where Sam led. Followed where Sam led and tried not to think about a dead body wearing her face and coming back to life and killing people, or trying to kill people, and Sam's brother fighting it off while Sam tried to get her to safety. Being locked up while people died. Tried not to think about how it was real and it was happening and it was here and now and everything bad, or about how this kind of thing didn't happen, not really, because it was. It was happening, and there was no not thinking about that.

Dean, Sam's brother, who she was allowed to think of as super hot again now she was almost, almost sure he was one of the good guys in spite of everything ? and it was a pretty big everything to be in spite of, with the hostage taking and the guns and all ? he was fighting the thing with her face, because this is the last time you kill anyone, and Sam, who was also kinda hot, and God, so tall, was helping her escape now, because you're all in danger and everything's going to be all right and get her out of here, and please God let it all be over soon, please let it be over soon, because it was real. It couldn't be real, but it was.

Sam stopped, very suddenly and very silently, and caught at her arm to stop her, too, finger to his lips. A noise, somewhere up ahead, and please God, not that thing again. Not that thing again, not that thing that wasn't the real her, not again?

"Cops," Sam mouthed, his voice a whisper with no breath behind it.

Cops? She didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and settled for neither, gaping at him with brain on overload. Cops meant safe. Right?

Sam gestured for her to go on without him, and she felt a stab of ice-cold fear, right down her spine, at the thought of losing her bodyguard when there was that thing. But the really hot one was taking care of that, wasn't he, fellow hostage to hostage taker to potential rapist and murderer to actual saviour and real live hero, and cops meant safe, and she just wanted to go home and cry. "You'll be all right now," Sam murmured by way of farewell, melting away into the shadows.

And then she was alone, and stumbled forward in the dark, almost crying with fear, to be greeted by armour-plated SWAT officers with rifles.


Making a statement for the police was hard. And the FBI? Impossible. They had a body wearing her face, a body wearing nothing but underwear and a shift, with its throat slit, the skin torn off one arm, and a silver letter opener in its heart. And she couldn't even tell anyone how relieved she was that it was dead, that the super hot hero really had taken care of it, not when the reaction they expected was horror and grief. Because they also had her full family history, birth records and everything, but still didn't believe her when she told them she had no identical twin sister, had never had an identical twin sister. 'How else did she explain it?' they wanted to know.

There was an easy answer to that one. She didn't explain it. She just knew what had happened, what she'd seen. There'd been a monster in that bank, all right. It had worn her face. It had killed people. And then she'd been saved, by a pair of unlikely heroes who were now all over the news, wanted for attempted bank robbery and for murders she was sure that thing had committed, not them. It had been real. It was real. But no one believed her.


? J. Browning, May 2007
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