A/N: The further adventures of Dean Winchester and OC Jane Downey in the That Picture universe. Set sometime in Season 4, between That Picture and While They Dance On A Pin.
On a normal day, waking up with Dean Winchester beside me is a high point. A highlight of the day, any day. But this isn't a normal day. Not many of them have been since his return from Hell. On days like this, I wake up angry that I don't know how to help him find normal again.
On a normal day, I wake up with his heavy, strong, protective arms wrapped around my middle, his hot, even breath on the back of my neck. His comforting warmth surrounding me with a feeling of safety; his unique scent easing my ascent into consciousness.
But not this time. In this moment, in the darkest hour just before the world acknowledges a new day, he is not strong. His breathing comes in gasps and uneven panting. His warmth is stolen by the sheen of sweat covering his shaking body. His arms cling, not in an effort to protect me, but in a need to feel protected.
Realizing he is trapped in yet another of the nightmares we all pretend he doesn't have, I look over to the bed to my right, into the worried, sleepy eyes of his brother. I shake my head, raise my brows, hope for an answer tonight that he didn't have the last time. Sam can only shrug, exhale. No new answers, just the same old question. How do we help Dean?
"Dean. Dean. It's all right, baby," I begin to whisper as I roll in his grasp. "Shh, Dean. It's okay. I'm here."
"No, not here. Please, not here," he murmurs, pushing me away slightly, but not really letting go. "Not real."
"Sam? Have you heard this before?" I whisper, knowing my best friend can hear me. These motel rooms afford precious little privacy, and, at least at this second, I'm grateful the beds are so close together. My boys always manage to have me between the two of them, always protected. But this new addition to Dean's nightmare vocabulary has me worried all over again. Usually he just repeats no and please. This time he seems to be struggling with his own reality.
I stroke his face, smooth his hair, whisper his name, anything I think might be soothing or relaxing to him. He's so tense that his muscles are straining, contracted painfully, using his own strength against him.
"Dean, please wake up. Just open your eyes," I say a little louder. I hear Sam start to move around on his bed. He will only let this go on for so long before he has to do something, anything, to try to help his brother. There's still a strain in their relationship, an unfamiliar distance that even Sam's absence for all those years at Stanford couldn't match. But, God, Sam needs Dean to be okay. Almost as much as I do.
Dean rolls on his back, props himself up against the headboard with jerking movement, as though he can feel the worried tension around him. He's struggling to surface but is not fully freed from the dream. I crawl on his lap and lean forward to hold him tight, hoping to bring him comfort with just the closeness. Maybe I can ease his return to this reality, the reality I need him to hold onto. I'm straddling him, which on a normal day would be a thing I wouldn't do with Sam in the room, at least not this intimately. These aren't normal days.
Dean stirs, opens his eyes, and sees me staring worriedly. "Not here, Jay. Please don't be here," says so quietly, eyes glassy with tears that threaten to fall down the face of the strongest man I've ever known. What the hell is he seeing through those beautiful eyes?
"Oh, my God," Sam groans, a sad sound. "Jay, it's hell. He's in hell," he explains, my expression clearly as disbelieving as I feel.
"Dean! Dean, wake up! Wake up now, baby, please," I plead, growing frantic, desperate to get him away from that, from there, to rescue him in a way I was unable to before. "Please, look at me!"
"Jane, calm down," Sam says as he swings his legs over the edge of his bed, tossing the covers aside. Like me, he's dressed as I suppose most hunters dress to sleep: comfortable but still prepared to run or fight. No badass wants to be embarrassed by running bare-assed down a busy street. He, like Dean, is wearing a tee shirt, dry white to Dean's sweat-drenched gray, with gym shorts on as a concession to my presence. When they're alone, when I'm not on a hunt, I know he rocks his boxer briefs like Dean is currently doing. They just keep their jeans close at hand. Big bro is not in love with the idea of his little bro parading his package around the room with me in it, though. I myself am wearing a small, tight, tee shirt and fleece running shorts. Dean wants me covered, but he likes to feel my skin. When it's cold, he just has to deal with sweats, but when it's warm I don't mind complying with his wishes. Not even a little bit.
"I can't calm down, Sammy. We have to wake him up!" I'm a little louder than I'd planned, but it gets the job done. Dean's eyes become more focused. I think he really sees me now.
"Yeah, baby, it's me. You awake now?"
"Uh, yeah. What?"
"You were… restless. It was really hard to wake you up, Dean."
"She tried, man. You just kept muttering, but you wouldn't wake up, not really."
Dean looks over to Sam, seeming to be surprised when he hears his brother's voice. He's awake, but still not completely in touch with his surroundings. This is so unlike him that my fear for him is not yet completely eased.
"I'm fine." He's not fine. It's just what they say.
"I'm fine, Sam!"
"Dean. Stop. You're not fine," I tell him, folding my hands around his neck, cradling his head. I want him to look at me.
"Jay…" He tries to roll his face away from mine, to break eye contact.
"No, Dean. It's time we talk about this. You can't keep doing this. You're so tired. Talk about it, baby. Maybe it will help with the nightmares."
"I'm not having nightmares."
"Bullshit, Dean," Sam challenges.
"What did you say?" This time he's successful in whipping his head away from me. Sammy just got the bitch face.
"I said I call bullshit. You are having nightmares. Nearly every night. She won't say anything, she won't let me say anything. Until now. You were terrified, Dean. What the hell was happening to you?"
"Hell! Hell was happening!" What-" He grips tightly to my hips and lets it out. "It was always you. The two of you,' he whispers. "They used you both against me. I tried to remember that it couldn't be you, when I left you were both alive, that they were fucking with my head. But it sounded so much like you. Every damn time, it sounded just like you. Sam, I've heard you cry since you were born. And Jay, God, I couldn't forget what it sounds like when you scream in pain if I tried. That time when the witch cut you, that sound…"
"Dean, we weren't there. We were never there," his brother assures him. Pain and relief battle for place on Sams' face. I know how he feels. To hear the agonies he suffered does not bring comfort, but knowing what has caused him to suffer night after night… Well, at least now we understand a little more of what we're seeing.
"I know that. I do, I know it. But in my memories, it's still real there." He looks lost and young. This isn't the first time he's spoken about his experience in hell. He opened up only just a bit to Sam. He's told me smaller aspects of his time there. This is different. He's never mentioned us being there before. He's becoming agitated, restless. He wants to move, but I can't let him go.
"I'm here, Dean. Not there. Never there. I'm right here with you. Can't you feel me. You're holding me, I'm holding you. I'm here."
His arms like steel wrap around me, pull me tighter, kissing my neck, hands spread over the small of my back. He needs me. He needs what he will only take from me. I kiss him deeply, and he becomes demanding, rough. All thought of Sam's presence four feet away are nearly gone, incidental, not important. He needs closeness, he needs reality, he needs release, and I'm offering all of it. I hear Sammy get up and grab the car keys before he slips out the door.
"The torture. It was always your face on the table. Always your voice screaming for mercy," Dean continues, unable to stop the revelations now that he's let them peek out from behind the wall he created to contain them. Holding me ever closer, he kisses me between each sentence, drawing every breath against my skin.
"It wasn't me," I try again and again to reassure him, tears in my eyes but not in my voice. He can't feel the pain I feel, I won't let him. He has enough of his own. Right now, I will only give him the strength he needs.
"Your skin was slick with blood, ripped to shreds. It was always you, Jay."
"You feel my skin right now? It's under your fingertips right at this moment. Not then, not there. Here," I tell him, pulling back to allow him to run his hands over me.
"Slick, blood," he murmurs, losing himself to the past again.
"No! Not blood. Sweat. You make my pulse race, you make me sweat just being close to you. Do you hear my voice, Dean?"
"Screaming, every day."
"Not screaming anything right now. But your touch can make me scream your name. From the roof, baby, it's that good. The people next door hear me. Sammy hates it," I whisper against his jaw, smiling at the thought of Sam's perpetual discomfort with Dean's and my active and quite vocal sex life.
"Jay, I'm sorry."
"Why? Why are you apologizing?"
"All this," he explains with baleful eyes and mournful tone. He pulls away enough to look me in the eyes again. "It's so much more than you signed up for."
I huff, exasperated, right in his face. "You think so? You think this is more than I can handle? I survived four months of you actually being in hell, Dean. I can ride out some nightmares."
"No. Shut up. This is not too much. You will never be more than I can handle. Do you understand?" I ask, roughly capturing his mouth before he can speak. I have to show him, in a language he understands so well, that he's mine. Just mine. I'm not losing him to hell, or his past, or himself. He's mine. And I'm his.
A/N: I was going to make this a one shot, but decided to end part one here. My question is, "To smut or not to smut?" I've been able to keep this series rated T, and I don't want to lose any of my precious few readers. So, drop a line with your thoughts
Also, the next chapter of WTDOAP is following close behind this rabid plot bunny. I finished yearbook, so I have time to write again!