CLAIRE--

The taxi stopped in front of a smallish cabin, a lady with dark short hair came out, a slight frown on her face. Claire hesitated in the back, looking up at the taxi driver who was looking back at her in the rearview mirror, “you okay, miss?” Claire mustered something that she hoped would pass for a smile before giving him a nod. With that nod, the driver turned off the engine and stepped out of the car, moving to her side of the car to open her door.

The dark-haired woman took a few steps away from the door before stopping herself, her arms hung at her sides for a few beats before she crossed her arms. Claire glanced over at her one more time, wondering if this was the woman that they had told her about.

The driver opened the door, Claire returned her attention to him, another watery smile as she stepped out, tugging her backpack close to her body. He bobbed his head, moving to the trunk to grab her knapsack. “Here you go.” Claire patted at her pockets, parting her lips to apologize for not having money, but he cut her off quickly with a raised hand. “They already paid me,” he rumbled with a duck of his head. Claire gave a more genuine smile this time, she wasn’t sure what was expected of her now as she took the knapsack off of his hands.

“Miss?”

She looked up at him with a curious look.

“Ah…” He gave her a quirk of his lips, “take care of yourself.”

Claire bobbed her head in thanks, scooting past him toward the lady at the cabin. She took a few tentative steps, unsure what was expected of her. She never was one for small talk, and right now, everything still felt too big for her. Her mother had just died, Castiel and the brothers had sent her on, and….

She had nothing to fight for.

“Claire?” The woman spoke, Claire froze with a bob of her head, “I’m Jody.” The dark hair woman chuckled, “I know this ain’t much, but… welcome home.”


Home?

Claire looked at the cabin for a moment before returning her attention to Jody, a little twist of her lips while gripping her knapsack closer. “Um,” she murmured, not sure what to say, “thanks.” Her eyes flicked down to her feet.

Jody took a step back, “com’on. We’ve got a room for you,” she grinned toward the cabin, “like I said, it ain’t much. The boys are looking at getting me a bigger place.” She made a little noise that sounded like a laugh, “they keep sending me people that need…” She trailed off as if she was trying to choose her words, or if she didn’t feel like talking.

Claire looked up at Jody and the cabin, “healing,” she bobbed her head half-heartedly. “They told you my story did they?”

Jody shook her head, “no. Castiel said you’d tell me when you were ready.” She put up her hands, “no pressure.” A gesture to the cabin, she lifted her eyebrows.

Claire gave a watery smile, hefting the knapsack with a slow nod. Castiel had pulled the strings, of course. He wouldn’t have let her keep running in the streets…. Well, neither would the brothers. “Thanks,” she gave a soft chuckle as she followed Jody into the cabin.


When they entered, there was a girl about Claire’s age, maybe a bit younger on the couch with a book. Jody pointed at her, “Alex.” The girl looked up from her book, a curious little expression on her face before returning back to the book. “Alex, this is a Claire,” there was a note in her voice that made the girl look up again, she nodded with a little wave of her hand. Jody looked over at Claire, “that thing you said earlier? Same for her,” Jody walked over to Alex, touching her on top of the head, it was a tender gesture.

Claire shifted on her feet, an awkward nod, “hi Alex,” she lifted a hand before dropping it. “I…” She trailed off, frowning as she tried to think of what to say, “um, I’m beat.” She looked around, “can I go to bed?”

An expression passed on Jody’s face before it cleared and she chose a neutral smile. “Sure,” she made a gesture, “com’on,” she moved away from Alex who returned her attention immediately to the book. Jody said nothing as she crossed the space to a small hallway on her left, she paused before turning. “The kitchen’s there,” she pointed a bit to her right, “I’ve got chili on the stove if you get hungry, cornbread too.” With that, she turned left and passed a door, opening another, “bathroom. We only have one right now,” a note of regret in her voice as she continued. “Here,” she came to a stop, opening another door.

Claire almost bumped into her, there were some pictures on the walls that had caught Claire’s attention. Jody, some man and a little boy, the Winchester brothers, some old guy, more of that little boy, she wanted to ask, but didn’t want to talk more. “Um,” Claire tugged the knapsack to her chest, “sorry.”

Jody said nothing, pushing the door further, “if you need me, just holler.” With that, she took a step backwards, letting Claire have the space.

Claire bobbed her head again, stepping past her into the room – it really wasn’t much. A small twin bed, a set of drawers, and a makeshift nightstand with a lamp; there were a few blankets and pillows piled on the top. “Um,” she turned around and looked at Jody, “thanks.”


=======


Claire took in a deep breath after Donna whirled out of the room, it was as if a tornado had hit her and left within seconds. She closed her eyes then opened them, reminding herself that Donna always meant well, even when she grated on everyone’s nerves. “Wow,” she finally murmured to herself while dropping the knapsack on one of the beds in the small room. It was empty for now, but then again, Claire never claimed one of the rooms as hers, even with the den moms insisting that she should. It was just…

She didn’t need anything permanent right now.

“Tell me you know what you’re doing with me, Cas,” she muttered as she rolled her eyes skyward before unzipping the knapsack to remove a stuffed animal. Sure, it was a stupid little grumpy cat, but it meant something more nowadays than it had a while ago. She gave the stuffed animal a quick hug before propping it among the bright yellow pillows – she was willing to bet the farm that Donna did the decorating around here.

“Claire!” Donna hollered from some other room, “Jodio is pulling up! You gotta see us in action!”

Claire took in another deep breath, tossing another eyeroll up to the ceiling before she affixed a smile. Dean did say she would have to fake it until she made it. “Coming!” She called out to Donna, glancing back at the stuffed animal before she tugged a bit on her oversized coat, cleaning herself up a little as she walked out of the room.