Out of the Dark
Title: Out of the Dark
Rating: PG 13
Warnings: Eye damage
Characters: Katherine (Kat), Gavin, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, the ghosts of Roosevelt Asylum
Prompt: It’s a small role, but anything about Kat from the episode Asylum, how meeting the Winchesters changed her life.
Summary: Kat survives the night at the haunted Roosevelt Asylum, with some help.
Author's Notes: I enjoyed writing this quite a bit. I hadn’t thought much about this character, but when I re-watched the episode I discovered that she is pretty cool.
She had had her own flashlight. She'd insisted on that much at least, her own source of light.
She'd expected a movie, not a trip to the old asylum. Gavin had had to lie to get her there, and then he'd lied to keep her there. Just a minute, yeah, right. She hated Roosevelt already. Since the place had been abandoned, it had turned into a haven for drinking, mostly male stupidity, and the occasional Chicago area gang banger with a paint can. Not her idea of a fun night, since the Emergency Department wasn’t her party venue of choice. If she was going to get in trouble, she wanted it to be for something a lot more fun. Or important.
Then Gavin went off into the dark. Leaving her by herself. No idea who else might be in there, but he was having fun, and he didn’t want to leave. His safety and her safety? Apparently no big deal to him at the time. He didn’t even answer while she called him. She went into the dark to find him, and he went silent.
Then of course the flashlight went out, the light she'd relied on for a safety she knew was pretend but wanted anyway. She'd been already angry and terrified when she heard the first shot gun blast. She quit shaking the flashlight and found a room with a door still on it. The rotting mattress offered a hiding place, even if it smelled bad. She’d screamed when something pulled it off her. Embarrassing. Screaming didn’t do any good if someone really wanted to hurt you, not if there wasn’t someone nearby to help you. And Gavin sure didn’t count.
She was glad it had been Dean and Sam that found her. If one of the ghosts had found her first, she wasn’t sure she would ever have stopped screaming. Both men were good at what they did. Matter of fact and competent. Though pretty annoyed with her at first for being there at all, and she couldn’t blame them for that. What was it Dean had said—“Next time you see a horror movie, pay attention.” He’d added, “When someone tells you a place is haunted, don’t go in.”
He and Sam went in though. If they hadn’t, she didn’t know how she and Gavin would have survived. She might have ridden it out till morning, but she was pretty sure Gavin would have died. Not to mention, morning had been an awfully long way away right then.
She’d started screaming again when the ghost grabbed her and pulled her into the room, shutting the door behind them. She’d been able to hear Dean pound on the door as hard as he could, and she knew he’d never reach her before the ghost did. The horror with a stake pounded in its left eye. She’d thought maybe it wanted to make her like it was. That it would take the stake out of its eye, and then, well…. She’d lost it. Totally lost it then.
It took her a moment to listen to Sam. When she had though, he’d talked her through it. The ghost had said its piece. It hadn’t hurt her, had probably never wanted to hurt her. It had sounded afraid, and she didn’t want to think about what kind of thing could scare a ghost. When it was done, the door opened. She walked out on her own, holding onto calm with a clenched jaw, but she still walked out steady. Her father would have been proud. Gavin didn’t even notice.
Dean had gone off on his own to keep after whatever was there while Sam led her and Gavin out. If they hadn’t been there to take care of, Sam could have stayed with Dean and kept him safer. He hadn’t answered when she asked him why he chose this job. But then she hadn’t asked the real question, which was why was he helping them. Or anyone. Because this job was dangerous, and it couldn’t be like being a firefighter or a cop, where people knew and respected you for it and understood when you freaked out once in a while.
He hadn’t tried to leave them even when the doors wouldn’t open, not till Dean called and said he was trapped in the basement. Even then, Sam’d given her the shotgun, something he needed and could have used, but he left it with her so they’d have a chance of being safe.
She hadn’t been sure when she heard the gunfire in the basement if anyone of them would see morning. She put Gavin behind her and put their backs to a wall, and she waited. And maybe prayed when she wasn’t so scared she had to think about breathing. She’d done it though. She’d held it together. Nothing came to bother them. But if it had…if it had, she’d have dealt with it. Because she had to.
Crying and screaming and panicking wouldn’t save anybody. Fear wouldn’t get you through. Doing what had to be done would.
She’d never been so glad to see anyone as when Dean and Sam came back. Not uninjured, but they’d done the job. Whatever had been torturing the ghosts still there, was gone. Done in by fire and salt.
And, God, those poor people. They’d been experimented on in life, and then they couldn’t even get away when they were dead. They’d been trapped with the man who had done all that. She didn’t want to think about what else he might have done when he didn’t have to worry about killing them anymore. Dean hadn’t said much about the details, but he looked sick enough she knew it must have been bad. Those ghosts had waited for years because no one had figured out that they needed help. They weren’t recordings or memories. They talked, they interacted, they were scared.
She thought about that while she tried to help Sam and Dean find the other corpses. The bodies they could find had been laid to rest, and she really hoped that was all of them, that no one was left alone and tethered to that awful place.
By then the morning she hadn’t been sure she would see had lit the grounds. She said her goodbyes and thank yous, though she didn’t think any thank you was ever going to be big enough. She let Gavin walk her to his car, stiffening in his hug but not shoving him off because she could feel him still shaking.
She was angry. She couldn’t trust him. When they were in danger, he caved. He gave in, and she had to be strong for them both, and God, he’d gotten them INTO the damn mess. But he’d never intended anything but some imaginary fear and fake ghost stories. She knew him too well to hate him.
They hadn’t talked a lot after that. She thought of him as weak, and she tried to keep it out of her eyes, but he saw it. He was angry and hurt, and in the end he made fun of her to make up for it. Told the guys at school he took her out to Roosevelt to make out but she was too frigid to do anything. She guessed it was better than saying she was a slut.
It had all seemed so stupid by then. All those games in school, and none of it mattered. People suffered, and died, and who gave a fuck if you wore cool jeans or if someone passed notes about you. What mattered was who stood up for you when you were in real trouble. What mattered was who came into the dark after you and tried to get you out safe. Even if you were a stupid kid who shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
She studied. She knew she’d need it, all of it. The math, the science, the things you could set up. How to make fire happen, and how to make it as safe as you could. How people worked. What you could expect. And the stories, the folklore. What parts of it people might have made up and why. Which told her, though she kept it to herself, what parts might be true. She went after the grades too, because she wanted that respect. She’d be able to use it later. And though she didn’t want to admit it, she needed it now.
Her folks were happy, mostly. Her dad worried. He worried more when she wanted to go to the range all the time, when she wanted karate lessons, when she did ride-alongs at the fire station with her uncle as much as she could. Her dad took her aside and asked if Gavin had done something. She told him no, Gavin was just a jerk. The answer didn’t satisfy him, but it kept him from pounding Gavin’s face in.
Senior prom, she’d decided not to go. She went out to the graveyard to sit and think instead, and when the inevitable kids showed up, she found somewhere else to be. Gavin didn’t have a lot of fun that night, or that summer. Whenever he stepped out of line, a police officer or some other adult was there to see he got right back into line.
Kat found she didn’t care all that much. She had college coming up, an internship with the fire department, and not enough time to learn all the things she’d need. She had other people to bring out of the dark. Not because she was cool or tough, but because someone else had been there to bring her out. And because she was one of the few people who knew it needed doing.
It was hard. And the rewards were pretty quiet. But it would be enough.