It was about 2 am when you woke with a start, taking a moment to come to the realization that you were sitting with a book in your lap, waiting for the sound of the Impala's tires that would let you know your boys were home. It had been nearly a year since you left your place as a mythology professor's favorite assistant after looking up the required facts for one of the hunts they'd gone on in your hometown. After realizing what was actually going on, you couldn't just stay put in your little apartment and pretend like you weren't terrified of all of the things that could happen to you. The world was a much bigger and darker place than you had originally been led to believe. It had only been a few months before you developed feelings for the elder Winchester brother and learned that he harbored the same feelings for you. You'd been with them for so long, and you knew the kind of stuff that they faced on a regular basis. After all, you were one of their main knowledge bases now. As a rule, you stayed up and made sure they made it home safely. Dean always called you when the evil had been vanquished and gave an estimate as to when they'd be back. You never talked to them when they came home, preferring instead to roll over and pretend you were sleeping when Dean came in and slid into bed next to you, but you wouldn't be surprised if they knew-they were hunters, after all. Even so, you'd never spoken of it.

You let out an annoyed sigh, cursing your inability to stay awake as long as you needed to. Tonight was especially frustrating, being one of the few times that they came home much later than Dean said they would. You knew they were probably safe, but you also knew that what they'd been up against wasn't just the usual salt and burn, and that there were an infinite number of ways that things could have gone wrong. That coupled with the fact that you hadn't been able to sleep very well for the last few nights, up worrying again, had you on edge, frayed nerves and exhaustion taking their toll on you. The sound you heard next had you on your feet in a second, the sound of gravel crunching under the Impala's tires. They were home. It wasn't standard procedure, but tonight had been hell and you needed to see Dean, so you went to the window. What you saw was Sam's unmistakably tall form half-carrying, half-dragging a shape that could only be Dean toward the door. No. Nonononono.

You ran to the door, opening it as Sam got there. "He's okay." He said, answering the question before you could ask it, bringing Dean inside and setting him down on the couch. "Just knocked out. He'll be fine, I promise." Sam looked at you and offered a tired but reassuring smile. You knew you could trust Sam's judgement, seeing as he had been there, and was also the only person who you knew was just as invested in Dean's wellbeing as you were, but there was still a shadow of doubt in your mind. He was covered in dirt and cuts, face relaxed and smooth, making him seem so much younger and more vulnerable than you knew him to be. You blinked back tears and smiled back.

"Thanks, Sam." You replied, grateful that he chose to pretend that he didn't notice you were on the verge of bursting into tears. You were overwhelmed and tired and scared. You weren't born a hunter. You didn't even know about any of this until you'd already grown up. All you knew was that the man lying on the couch was the single most important thing in your life right now, and seeing him in a state that even looked like death was remarkably unnerving. Sam nodded at you, leaving to take a shower and give you and Dean some time alone. You sat on the couch next to his head, resting a hand on the side of his face and taking comfort in the steady rise and fall of his chest. He let out a low grumbling noise, blinking a few times before opening his eyes for good, green eyes searching your [e/c] ones.

"[y/n]? What're you doing up?" He asked, seeming a little confused for a moment before he realized where he was and what was happening, the fog of unconsciouness slowly dissipating.

You grinned, eyes spilling over, and pressed your forehead against his, impossibly happy to have confirmation that he was okay. "Hey, babe." You said softly.

Dean seemed alarmed at your tears and sat up, putting his hands on your shoulders. You were embarrassed at how hard it was to keep your emotions in check, and wouldn't meet his eyes. "What's wrong?" He asked, one hand reaching to gently tip your face so he could make eye contact. "[y/n], what happened?"

"I just..." You looked away, trying to stop the tears that were still flowing and get yourself under control, not wanting to worry him. You'd kept this bottled up for quite some some, but you were tired and emotionally spent, and you couldn't stop crying. "I worry about you when you're out." You finished, sobs starting to wrack your body. It had been a close call.

Dean let out a sharp breath and gathered you into his arms, wrapping himself around you and holding you close. You usually played things pretty close to your chest and he'd never seen you like this before, even in the long time you'd been together. "Hey, hey." He murmured soothingly, voice a low rumble in this chest that you could feel through his shirt. "It's okay. I'm okay." Your hands were fisted in his shirt as you cried yourself out, and when the sobs slowed down, he pressed a kiss to the top of your head. He was settled back against the couch, you slumped against his chest, his arms wrapped around you, one of his hands tracing idle patterns on your back. "You really don't have to wait up for us every night, babe." He said finally, not scolding or surprised, just calm and a little concerned.

There was a long pause before you spoke again. "I just always worry that something's going to happen and you aren't going to come home in one piece." You said finally. "I've seen you come through that door looking like all kinds of hell, and there's nothing I can do except sit here and try and get you the information you need and pray that nothing horrible will happen. And it's hard." You sniffled, turning your face more into his chest, listening carefully to his heartbeat. It was one of your favorite sounds. "I get scared for you, babe. I love you so much and I know that this is what you do and I'll never try and stop you, but...God, I just want you to be safe."

He didn't speak for a while, just held you and rubbed your back, chin resting on top of your head. After a bit, he sighed and kissed your temple. He hadn't realized just how much this was affecting you, but he couldn't fault you for any of the things you were thinking. He couldn't count the nights he'd spent as a kid, once he knew what his dad really did for a living, wondering if he was ever going to him again. They were all perfectly valid fears, and he knew that the thought of losing him was just as horrifying to you as losing you was to him. He pulled back, shifting you away from him just a bit so he could look you in the face. "I'm really sorry, [y/n]" He said softly, one hand cupping your cheek. "I never meant to put you through that."

You shook your head. "It's fine. Really, it is."

He held your face still and shook his head in return, slowly and deliberately as if to emphasize his point. "No, really, it isn't. You're one of the most important people in the world to me. I never meant for this to happen, alright? I love you. I love you so, so much. Hunting is important, but it's not worth this. Sam and I, we were forced into this. We didn't have a choice in how screwed up we got. I'm not going to do that to you." His tone was low and earnest, his eyes never leaving yours. "You're more important to me than hunting. And if you want me to stop...I will."

You felt like the air had been knocked out of your lungs. That was a massive choice he was putting in your hands. Right now, what you wanted more than anything was for him to never hunt again, to get a normal job and a normal life, and to settled down with you and be safe. But that wasn't a fair thing to ask of him and you knew it. It wasn't fair to him, it wasn't fair to Sam, and it wasn't fair to the hundreds of people who needed his help. You smiled slightly, understanding the amount of value he was placing on your relationship, and kissed him softly on the mouth before leaning back enough that you could press your forehead lightly against his. "Let's talk about it in the morning." You said, voice so quiet you almost couldn't hear it.

He smiled back at you and sealed his lips tenderly agaisnt yours. You could almost feel the love from this man being poured into you, and you held him close to you until the two of you broke apart. "We can do that." He stood, still keeping you close. "Come on. You need some sleep."