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Saturday's Child Pt 3

November 21st, 2006 (09:23 am)
current location: desk, bedroom
current mood: cheerful

Saturday's Child Part 3

Author: Linda Atkinson

Fandom: Supernatural

Pairing: John/Dean

Warnings:  Violence in this part. AU.  Gender Swap (John); Slash and Het John/Dean; M-Preg (John pregnant.)

 

Dean cradled the phone in one hand, staring at Sam. His brother was reading through the papers he had found in the trashcan, and his express grew grimmer as he read farther. Dean mumbled something to Missouri then snapped the phone closed. Sam ran his hand through his hair and let the pages drop to the floor. "Dean, if Dad does this…he'll die. Some of the herbs that the website recommended are deadly poison. Not to mention doing that with a coat hanger. God, we've got to find him."

 

"It's been less that an hour, Dad can't have gotten far." Dean said desperately. Sam rolled his eyes.

 

"Come on, Dean, this is Dad we're talking about. An hour's plenty of time. If he doesn't want us to find him, we won't."

 

"Well, we've got to. Even if he doesn't do…that, he'll die anyway.  Let's search his room. I know that he has that metal lockbox, the one he keeps fake ids and credit cards in. If we got very lucky maybe he forgot to take it. Or at least, he left the box and only took new id. We can track him from credit card receipts that way.  I'll go get the box and you start hacking hotel sites looking for credit card charges under John Cahill." Before Dean disappeared down the hall the yelled over his shoulder, "And run the license plate on the truck, look for accident reports and the like."

 

 

John sat huddled over the table in a small diner, just outside of Merritt, Kansas. The town was just a few miles outside of Chelsea on the freeway to Lawrence. He had pulled over after his stop at the herbalist's shop in Merritt.  His hands had been shaking so badly that he couldn't drive anymore. A silver bag lay nestled on the bench beside him, and John kept glancing at it as if it might come alive at any second. Carefully, John unfolded the pages he had printed off the internet shuddering at the simple, black-line drawings. He kept the pages half folded so that no one could see them, and he flinched hurriedly folding them up when the waitress came by to top off his coffee.

 

Rubbing his hand over his eyes John picked up the check, gathered the bag and walked to the cashier. The same waitress who had served his coffee took the check. "You okay, Hon?" she asked. John offered her what he hoped was a smile, but assumed he failed miserably at her pained expression. Shoving the change in his pocket he walked out to the truck. He had been careful, so far, not to use his credit cards, and he had collected two new ids with their own credit cards on the way out. Dean would be able to track him, John had no doubt; he had ground that ability into his older son at a very early age.  It was just a matter of when, not if, the boys found him. He only hoped that he had time to do what he had to do.  Dean would probably hate him for the rest of his life, after it was done, but John didn't have the strength to do it all over again. It might have been a tough life, but the boys were raised and self-sufficient. He couldn't bring another child into all this. 

 

Oddly enough the idea that John would bear the child and give birth to it was not overwhelmingly strange to him. In the past twenty-three years he'd seen stranger things.

Even the idea that his own son was the baby's father was not that strange. John wasn't extremely worried that the baby might be damaged; he had looked up information on the internet and since their family was free of any congenital defects John was reasonably sure that the baby was normal.  At least as normal as any Winchester got. He had been somewhat concerned that the baby might be part demon, but he had figured out that he had one period before he got pregnant so he hadn't gotten that way when Dean was possessed. So for better or worse the baby was all his and Dean's.

 

Tugging the collar of his jacket closer around his neck John headed out to his truck. He glanced up and down the street, it was close to dusk, and the wind had picked up. His truck was parked at the back of the lot, now swallowed in deep shadows and John hesitated.  He shivered reaching into his pocket and wrapping his fingers about the butt of the gun concealed there.  Nothing stirred in the lot, and John heaved a sigh of relief. He opened the door, and then frowned; a parking ticket was tucked under the windshield wiper. Cursing John pulled the ticket out and shoved it into the glove compartment. He patted his pockets down and pulled out the keys.

 

Suddenly a darker shadow disentangled itself from the brick wall of the building. John barely had time to turn around in the seat when a pair of strong hands seized his jacket and jerked him out of the truck. Then he was flying through the air, his back striking with wall with numbing force. Gasping John tried to tuck his body, doubling over so that his upper body covered his belly. He felt a sudden, fierce wave of protectiveness toward his unborn child washing over him. In that instant John knew that he could never kill the baby. Now it looked as if something or someone else was going to do it for him.

 

Two figures loomed over John, jerking him over onto his back. The two men were huge, clad in jeans and black leather. The taller of the two men had his head shaved, and John could smell the sour scent of sweat, and unwashed skin as he bent over grasping John's arm, wrenching him up.

 

"Get up," he said, his voice a deep growl; his eyes flashed yellow in the deepening twilight. John went limp, making it as difficult as possible for his two attackers to drag him to his feet.  "Get up or I won't wait for her--I'll rip that little bitch out of your belly right here."

 

The other man grasped his partner's arm. "You'd better wait or she'll make you pay for it. This is her right, sent down by Him. She won't take you interfering with that lightly."

Shrugging his associate's arm off the bigger man bent over grasping at the front of John's jacket. John went limp yet again, letting his body become dead weight. The man kicked him once in the hip.

 

John rolled over letting his arms flop in the dust on the asphalt. He forced the two men to drag him upright, shuffling in the dirt as much as possible. Even after they had wrestled him to his feet, John shuffled along, leaving as clear a trail in the dirt as possible. A blind man should be able to track him, and Dean certainly wasn't blind.

 

 

Dean was pacing the living room behind the sofa as Sam scanned line after of line of traffic reports.  He had been disgusted when his younger brother had told him just how many accident reports had been filed at the DMV that day. Sam grunted rubbing his eyes then glanced back at Dean.  "No accident reports. I'm going over any reports relating to the truck's license plate that I can…wait…dude, we scored. Dad got a parking ticket at Granny's Diner in Merritt at five-fifteen this afternoon. That's was just about thirty minutes ago. He might still be in the diner."

 

Dean looked like he might faint from relief. "Let's go." Dean pulled on a jacket as he opened the door to the closet. He pulled the weapons bag out and tucked a sheathed hunting knife into the waistband of his jeans, and his dad's Glock into his jacket pocket. Sam followed behind juggling the laptop and the shot gun Dean tossed him.

 

"Do you really think we need this much fire-power to get Dad back here?" Sam asked sarcastically. Dean shot him a look. Sam shrugged and grinned.

 

"No, I don't, I can handle Dad." Dean said snidely. "Missy said that we weren't the only ones looking for him. The fire-power is just in case they find him first, and we have to take him away from them."

 

Sam laid the shot gun across the dashboard and tossed the box of salt-packet shells on the floor at his feet. He opened the laptop as Dean started the Impala.  The engine gunned and the car roared onto the road to Merritt.

 

The Impala pulled into the parking lot of Granny's Diner just fifteen minutes later. Dean got out of the car scanning the lot, trying to distinguish the colors of the vehicles under the sickly glow of the orange Halogen security lights.  Finally, his eyes settled on the black, '86 GMC truck in the far corner of the lot. Dean hissed a curse under his breath; Dad must have been out of his mind if he had walled himself in like that, with no escape route. He quickly crossed the lot, and found the driver's side door slightly ajar, the truck keys lying on the floor just under the seat. "They got him." Dean said to Sam desperately looking around the parking lot to the surrounding buildings.

 

"How can you tell?" Sam asked. He walked over as Dean tucked the keys to their dad's truck into his jacket pocket. Dean rose to his feet studying the ground around the truck and moving back to the wall. He crouched down fingers tracing over the scuff marks in the thick layer of dirt on the asphalt beside the brick wall of the adjacent building.  Dean looked back at his brother.

 

"Dad would have never have left the keys in the truck like that unless something jumped him." Dean motioned to the dirt. "He was here, lying on the ground, and I'll bet he didn't get that way voluntarily. Something took him. But he made a mess. There's a shit-load of footprints and scuff marks. He left a trail."

 

 

 

John lay on the cold cement floor of the abandoned warehouse. His hands were duct-taped behind his back, and his arms ached. Panting he tried to rise to his feet, but his knees wouldn't hold. There was nowhere to go anyway. The two men who had brought him to the warehouse had dumped him in the freight pen and padlocked it shut. With his hands bound he couldn't pick the lock. The only thing that was going remotely in his favor was the fact that they had left him pretty much alone.  He had no illusions that they had forgotten him, only that they were letting him stew, waiting for someone more important, waiting for him to break. In any case, they were waiting. That was bound to change, and probably soon.

 

As if they had read his thoughts, the door to the room swung inward. The taller of the two men appeared. He unlocked the gate to the pen and sauntered inside. Walking over he stopped looking down at John. He smiled at John then twisted his thick-fingered hand into the fabric of John's shirt and jerked him to his feet. The duct tape ripped and John brought his hands around grasping at his captor's arm, but he didn’t bother trying to resist further. He shuffled along behind his captor silently. The shorter man slammed the door. "Jake," he hissed. "Meg is waiting in the warehouse."

 

Jake grunted a sound that might have been assent, and jerked John's arm, turning him towards a second door. Without warning John was shoved into a brightly lit room. At both ends of the room were doors, one on a ramp leading to a loading area, the other leading out into the parking lot. John could see the thin strip of deep shadow marking the alley way. Along the far wall was a gleaming stainless steel table. Beside the table stood a figure, a small blond woman who looked to be no older than Sammy.

 

The woman smiled at John. She sauntered over to where he stood, and then stroked the length of his arm, fingers resting lightly on his biceps. John sneered at her and she laughed, the sound as clear as a bell ringing. "So this is the great John Winchester. Truthfully I expected a much bigger man—but then you're not exactly a man now are you?"

 

"Cut the bullshit, bitch. Don't try to pull that psychobabble crap with me. I've heard it all before, and you don't impress me."

 

"Oh, but I will make an impression on you, Johnny. I will, and you know what? I'll even let you hang around here long enough for that pretty son of yours to find your body. What do think he'll do when he walks in and finds you bled dry like a stuck pig, with the baby he put inside you scraped out on the cement? How do you think he's going to feel about you when he believes that you did it to yourself?" Meg grinned at him, and John smiled letting his body go lax, not reacting to her touch.

 

Meg squeezed his arm, John winced, and she slid closer letting her hand trail down his chest, cupping one of his breasts. She squeezed, pinching his nipple between her thumb and forefinger. John didn't move, but his eyes flicked at the two men. They were both watching the interaction with avid attention. He smirked at them.

           

"If you're hoping for a little lesbian action, forget it. I don’t find your boss the least bit attractive. Maybe it’s a prejudice of mine, but I don't fuck nasty, little demon bitches."  John said cringing a little when Meg's fingernails dug into his tender flesh. A crimson stain welled up, blossoming on the front of his tee-shirt.

 

Without pausing Meg turned, dropping her hand and smiling up at John as if he had not spoken. "I could make it easy on you, Johnny. If you don't fight, I'll let you live. Just let me take the baby nice and quick, and you go back to Dean. I'll even take the memory away—from him, at least. I want you to know what you sacrificed."

 

"Go to hell," John snapped and she slapped him, the sound of the blow echoing in the empty room.

 

"If I do, I'll take you with me," she said laughing.  Meg lifted a hand and John found himself propelled through the air, coming to rest on the stainless steel table. His arms were jerked above his head by unseen hands, his body penned by invisible bonds. He cried out struggling as much as he was able. Meg stalked to the side of the table working her hands into the waistband of John's jeans. The buttons popped one at a time, until she could work the jeans over his hips and down his legs. It took a few minutes for her to tug his boots free and toss them onto the floor. His jeans followed and then his boxers. He shivered as the cold air crawled across his heated skin.

 

She picked up the twisted piece of metal lying on the end of the table. "You should have taken the easy way out, Johnny.  I liked to say this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you, but we both know that's a lie. This is going to hurt like hell. Hold his legs open." She snapped at Jake. Obediently he walked to the end of the table, grabbed John's legs and jerked them out strait holding them open. His ankles ground against the table and John flinched. He tried to break Jake's grip on his legs, but the man's hands were like iron bars.

 

Suddenly the room boomed with the echoing sound of one of the doors banging open. The figures around the table froze. Meg jerked back as a single shot blasted the air. Jake spun around, blood jetting out of a hole in his forehead, and hit the floor. She screamed raising the twisted metal towards John's neck. The door on the other side of the room slammed open and a shot gun blast cut through the silence. The rock salt hit Meg dead center in her chest. She was lifted off her feet, and slung through the air hitting the floor hard. She rolled, coming to her knees and tilted her head back. A cloud of black smoke gushed out of her mouth as the demon fled the girl's body. She sank back to the ground, bleeding from the gunshot wound.

 

Sam was barely aware of the sound of gun fire as Dean put down the other demon. He scurried over to the girl gasping for breath on the floor. Quickly Sam bent down cradling the girl's head in one hand as he checked the wound to her chest. She coughed, breath rattling in her throat, and Sam knew she was dying. "I'm sorry," he said but the words sounded so inadequate in his own ears, how must they sound to her. She shook her head.

 

"Don't be. I'd rather be dead that have that thing in me again." She tried to look around. "Is he okay—the man?"

 

Sam nodded. "Yeah, my dad's okay. You didn't --it didn’t hurt him."

 

"Good," she sighed closing her eyes. Then her head went limp in Sam's hand, and he gently lowered her to the floor. Sam looked away, glancing at Dean and their father. Dean had John's shirt twisted in his fists, John's body pressed back against the wall.

 

Dean stepped forward sliding a leg between his father's knees pressing him back. He leaned in his mouth catching John's lips. The kiss was long and brutally hard.  Dean jerked his head away snarling at John. "When I saw that bastard had his hands all over you…even if he wasn't a demon I would have killed him."

 

John's hand drifted over Dean's chest pushing gently at first and them more insistently, but Dean released his grip on John's shirt and caught his wrists forcing them to the wall, leaning in to press another kiss on him.  John pulled away from Dean's mouth. "Dean let me go. I want to get my pants on at least."

 

"Hell no," Dean snapped forcing his mouth back against John's, working John's lips open with his tongue. Finally he said, "I want you to understand completely that this is never happening again. Do you get it?"

 

Bristling John jerked his wrists managing to free one arm. He shoved at Dean, but before he could speak Dean leaned in again letting his knee come to rest against John's groin, the minute threat not lost on either of them. John grinned. "Don't forget that doesn't work on me now."

 

Dean brought his knee up, sliding, stroking between John's legs. "Yeah, but that does." John's eyes slid closed, his mouth dropping open with his indrawn breath. Dean kissed him again sliding his tongue inside. John tried to push against Dean's chest, but Dean managed to grab his wrists again, pressing his thumbs against the pulse points, feeling for the junction of the veins. John's eyes snapped open, his face flushed and damp with sweat.  He shuddered as Dean hissed against his mouth, "I'm telling you, John, it doesn't happen again."

 

Sam averted his eyes, but smile crept over his face. That was really interesting. So Dad got off on being held down. He'd have to make sure that Dean got a hold of that little tidbit of information.

 

John wrestled his clothes back on while Sam and Dean dragged the three bodies into the center of the large cement floor. Hopefully the fire wouldn't spread when they burned them.  Sam went out to the car and returned with a canister of rock salt and a gasoline can. Dean flipped the three bodies over, stacking them like wood. He broke a couple of crates for kindling and placed them around the pile of flesh. Sam made sure to soak the kindling down with the gasoline as well.

 

The scent of burning flesh filled the room. John tried to move away from the fire, as much as possible but every time he took a step Dean penned him with a gaze. John sighed. His face paled as another wave of odor hit him. Finally, he retched. Dean nodded to his bother. "Sammy, take Dad out to the car. I'll finish this up."

           

John frowned growling at Dean. "I am not a five year old. I do not need to be taken out to the car. I've been doing this…." Suddenly, a breeze drifted through the warehouse sending smoke billowing into John's face. He gagged. Sam gently took their father by his arm marching John to the exit. He pushed the door open, and leaned John against the jam. John panted, fighting a losing battle with his stomach. Fortunately, he hadn't eaten anything all afternoon, so there was not much to come up. John leaned over bracing his palms against his thighs and let go.

 

When the bodies had burned down to ashes and bits of bone Dean and Sam closed the doors and followed their father into the parking lot. Dean tossed Sam the keys to the Impala, taking John's keys out of his pocket. John reached for the keys, but Dean snagged them back. "No, I'm driving."

 

John pulled up short. "Look, boy, I don't know where this sudden, annoying stubborn streak is coming from, but you are way out of line."

 

Dean turned on him, "You don't know where it comes from, just take a look in the mirror when we get home.  Better yet I'll tell you where it came from. You wanted a good soldier, and you got one.  I'm not a self made man, John. You got what you made, and now it's going to come back and bite you on the ass. Because I don't like it when my pregnant lover decides to head off to parts unknown and kill my kid."

 

"I'm not…" John paused. What could he say? I'm not pregnant, that obviously was not true, he was. "I'm not your lover."

 

"Oh, maybe I haven't been making myself clear in that regard--although after the past few nights I'd think it was evident, even to someone as mean-assed stubborn as you, John. But as soon as we get home, I'll clarify that point--a few times." Dean held his ground, and held his breath waiting to see if his father was going to call his bluff. Dad had taught him to play poker, and John often said Dean could run a bluff better than almost any man, except John always knew when he was lying.  But Dean's luck held John just marched around the truck and slid into the passenger side of the cab.  Dean settled behind the wheel and followed the Impala out of the parking lot. "We're going home tonight. Tomorrow we're going to Missouri's. She needs to talk to us."

 

John shot Dean a glance out of the corner of his eye. Then smiled to himself. His son had just grown up a whole lot more in that few minutes. John felt more at peace with himself than he had since this whole thing began.  He leaned down, turning on the radio. With a glance John caught Dean staring at him out of his peripheral vision. Finally, he mumbled. "Yeah, whatever you say." The grin that broke Dean's face was worth swallowing his pride.

 

 

Missouri was standing in the door of the house when Sam pulled the Impala into the driveway. Dean parked the truck on the curb and John slid out of the passenger side door. John was walking a little stiffly. Dean hadn't been kidding about clarifying the point that he was John's lover. John had fallen asleep with Dean still plowing the field, so to speak. He didn't bother trying to argue with Dean about it anymore. In an odd way it was a relief to him that Dean was taking a stand, even if it was annoying as hell, and sticking to it.  John slung his duffle bag over a shoulder and headed for the house.

 

Missy rushed out grabbing Sam as he dropped his bags on the porch. Sam buried his face in her hair, inhaling her clean, warm scent. "Oh god, I've missed you." He whispered. She touched his face pulling him down for a quick peck on the cheek.

 

"Oh, baby. I've missed you too." She waved Dean and John over. "Boys come on, in. I know that you're tired and hungry. Dinner'll be ready in no time. I'll get you all settled. John sit down." He leaned in a kissed her on the cheek, and Dean kissed her on the other side.  "Come on in; let's get you off your feet."

 

Grinning John held the door open. "Missouri, I'm eight weeks pregnant, not eight months. I think I can make it across the room with a duffle bag."    He followed her to the spare room. Carefully he placed the duffle bag in the closet with the idea that he would unpack late. Dean dumped his bag into the closet as well. If Missy thought that there was anything odd about Dean sharing the room with John she showed no sign of it.

 

"Sam, I've got you all set up in the den. There's a closet in there for you to unpack your things." She motioned him to the other room. "What I have to say can wait for a little while. Let's have supper on the back porch. It's nice out there in the evening."

 

They sat around the table after the meal was done, iced tea glasses sweating in the last heat of the day. John finished the glass and she smiled. He had felt a little on edge coming here, wondering what she might think about him, and Dean. But she was as warm and wonderfully comforting as she had been so many years ago when a younger, confused and clueless man had shown up on her doorstep carrying a baby in one arm and a toddler in the other.

           

It was Dean who finally broached the subject of the baby, and what Missouri had said to him on the phone. She dropped her gaze to the table then drew a deep breath. "I called you because I couldn't let your Daddy do that terrible thing. I hope that foolishness is all over with John Winchester."

 

He smiled softly at her. "Yes, Ma'am it is."

 

"Good because it came to me that this child is the only thing that can stand in the gap when the last battle with this demon comes. You won't destroy it, John and neither will these two fine young men. You can't that is how it's survived for so long. No one born of a mortal woman can defeat it. It is outside the laws of nature and the only one who can destroy such a thing is someone outside the laws of nature themselves-- a child born not of a mortal woman."

 

"Then why would it do this to me, knowing that if I got pregnant the kid could destroy it?'

 

"Things fall apart, John. You know that better than any of us. The center does not always hold—not for them any more than for us." She sighed, pulling the pitcher over and pouring more tea into her glass. She sipped a little. "Not to be melodramatic or anything, think of it in terms of balance. Life and death, joy and sorrow, hope and despair they're all two sides of the same coin. If you never had pain you wouldn't know how good pleasure felt. If we didn't die we wouldn't value life so much. Well, there is a balance there between good and evil, us and them if you prefer. They can't muddle that balance any more than we can. The evil in this world is growing fast, too many good people willing to look the other, too much apathy, I guess. This baby will stem that tide. But you'll never destroy all the evil—no more than they can destroy everything that is good.

It just balance, that's all."

           

Dean grunted, "Are you telling me that Dad is carrying little Anakin in there?"

 

Missouri tossed a napkin at him. "Don't start any of that foolishness with me, young man. This little girl will be a powerful warrior for good." 

 

John leaned forward. "So the baby is a girl? You've said that twice now, so did the demons who got a hold of me. They called it a little bitch." Missouri nodded.

 

Dean frowned, "Are you sure. I mean, it's a Winchester. Dad had two boys. I always figured that my first born would be a son…"

 

"Oh honey," Missouri said smiling. "Just because you didn’t put the stem on the apple doesn't mean the fruit is no good." Dean flushed and John cracked up laughing.

 

She pushed her chair back motioning for John to follow. "You boys clear the table and wash the dishes. Your Daddy and I are going to take a little walk."

 

They wandered through the backyard, stopping at the wooden latticework surrounding Missy's rose garden. She leaned over plucking a few dead leaves off one the massive old plants. The red blossoms trembled in the gentle breeze.  John leaned against the wood slats letting his fingers trail over the velvety soft petals. Missouri turned to him. "John, guilt is a terrible thing. It makes you fear things that aren't even real. What ever this is between you and Dean, don't let guilt ruin it."

 

"He's my son, Missy. You don't have any idea what's been happening between the two of us."

 

Grinning she touched his arm lightly. "Considering that you're pregnant, and that only happens one way. I'd say I have a fairly good idea."

 

John had the good grace to blush. "It's wrong, it’s a sin…"

 

"Oh Lord John, you haven't put much stock in sin or sanctity this far. Don't get over pious on me. You're just mad that you're not the one in control anymore.  So he's your son? He's not a child; he can make up his own mind. Besides it's been made up for both of you. Don't let your guilt eat you alive. It'll hurt him more than this…will."

 

Anger colored his face then, and John straightened suddenly turning on her. "So I'm just supposed to settle down, play good little wife and mommy?"

           

She didn't back down. "In case you've forgotten what happened twenty-three years ago, what's still happening today—we're not playing anything. It's not a game, you've been given a role in this, maybe not the one you envisioned, but a very important role. You raised two warriors for good, and you raised them to be extremely good at their jobs. Now you're going to raise another one—but your part in the war is behind the lines now. The boys can handle it in the meantime…"

 

"Goddammit it, Missy…" John spat out. She spun around on her heel and slapped him hard across the face. He jerked back--eyes wide.

 

'That's for blasphemy. Now listen to me John. I have someone coming over here tomorrow. Her name is Coloma Darkhorse. She's a Cherokee medicine woman, and a mid-wife. She has been a hunter, too. So she knows about this, about you. She's going to attend to you while you're pregnant, and deliver the baby.  I've already found a place for you and the boys to live. We're going over there, all of us. We're going to salt the doors and windows, draw protection symbols over all of them and bless the place to the nines.  After that the boys can go back to Chelsea and pick the rest of your things up. "

 

"Yes, Ma'am, " John said sighing. Trying to fight Missouri was like trying to hold a tsunami in a teacup. It just made his head ache even thinking about it. They walked back to the house.

 

 

After they had gone to bed that night, Missy lay in her bed grinning. She had missed the Winchesters, trouble and all. But they were good folk, family and she loved them. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.

 

Later Missouri came awake in the darkness, ears straining for the sounds that had disturbed her.  There is was a squeak, and a tap on the wall. She reached for the rosary she kept by the bedside, hoping she wouldn’t need the .38 in the drawer. Then she relaxed when she heard the sound more clearly—not half muddled by sleep and confusion.  The sound was coming from the spare room. It was the springs on the bed squeaking rhythmically, slowly, at first, but gaining more speed after a few minutes. Every few minutes the squealing changed rhythm and the headboard tapped the wall. Missouri felt her face grow warm. But she smiled in the darkness and lay her head back down.

 

TBC