After months of fine tuning ispiltthemilk and I are finally ready to share this with you all. We think. After all this time it kind of feels like pushing a baby bird out of the nest to see if it will fly. This was the first time we've written something together and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did writing it. Would love to know what you all think!

Not Our Emily

Staring out, the orange haze of the setting sun seemed to determine the mood of the slow moving swarm of people it reached. The sweltering heat stretched out, like a warm blanket, as though it was capable of muting the sounds below it. Cars inched along crowded highways as passersby hardly acknowledged one another on the street. Slow, exaggerated bells rang with the opening and closing of shop doors, barely drawing eyes to the new or lost occupants.

Emily blinked, bored as she stared ahead through the large picture window. The numbness in her hand, built up from the pressure of her chin resting in it, spread to her elbow as it sat at the coffeehouse counter. The sheen of sweat that covered her like a second skin caused her shirt to cling to her, creating an uncomfortable feeling.

The rain had been gone for over a month now, and with each of the passing days, eyes began to no longer question the sweet coming of falling release, but rather just how much longer they could continue to go on living this way. Emily was one of those people that hoped the rain would come back though she would deny it if you asked her. The rain held a sense of security that when she walked the busy streets to her old, broken down apartment she would be able to let her emotions show. It was the one time she allowed the tears to roll down her cheeks to let down the walls she had learned to build over the years. This past month had been different, she didn't get her beautiful release of tears like when the rains came, but instead had bottled them up.

The city was a new experience for Emily who had grown up in the mid-west where trees and natural beauty could be seen for miles. It was the kind of place you could go out and lay in the grass and on a clear night you could try to count the stars but you would run out of time before you would even get close. The city was different, there would be a random tree planted here or there but even they had small iron fences around them like they were being punished for disrupting the industrialized city. No one ever slept it seemed, the streets were always crowded, and she almost forgot what the night sky looked like.

She had no choice but to come here, she had fought tooth and nail to stay but his words were steadfast and final.

Emily had to go.

"Here," Dean cleared his throat to make sure his words came out strong and steady as he held out an envelope to Emily.

She readjusted the pack on her back and quirked her head to the side causing her bangs to cascade over her eyes. A smile pulled at the corner of Dean's lips, but the innocent girl, no woman, standing in front of him shouldn't be a part of something like this. He needed to get her to safety and that meant that she needed to get as far away from him as possible. The second anything supernatural knew about her she would be used against him, against both of them, and he wouldn't- couldn't- sit back and watch someone else he cared about pay a price he couldn't afford. He had been foolish enough to get involved with her in the first place. He should have never walked into that hardware store all those years ago because he wasn't just pushing her away from himself but tearing her away from his brother as well. It was the hardest decision he ever had to make and he second guessed himself for days before he finally confronted her about it. Sam had fought with him to the point it had gotten physical and he had just stood there and took it. Dean took every foul word Sam had to throw at him because he deserved it, it was the same thing he wished he could do to himself, he wasn't just breaking her heart he was breaking his own.

Emily stared at the envelope and when she made no move to take if from his hand he tucked it into the side pouch of her bag. She couldn't see his reasoning for her leaving, if something bad was coming for him, for them, she wanted to stay and fight. The Winchesters had wormed their way into her heart with their go-get-em attitudes and knee weakening smiles, and the thought of so easily losing all of it was more than terrifying. She had seen them fight their way through an army of demons and weasel their way out of any situation that arose. If he was sending her away, if he was so willing to just kick her to the curb, then it must be a fight he didn't think he was going to win and living in a world where Dean Winchester didn't exist was too much.

Dean swept the bangs from her eyes as he leaned in and placed a gentle, emotion filled kiss on her forehead. "Be good, Em. Be safe."

Emily watched a water droplet roll down the side of her glass reminding her very much of a tear and for a moment it was as if the glass was showing the emotions she couldn't. He had told her to be safe, to get on with her life, and do amazing things but what she heard was that she wasn't good enough. And she wasn't, not without the last name of Winchester -without the same tormented blood that ran through their veins- she would never come close.

She would never be to him, to either of them, what they were to each other. That much had been obvious from the moment her blue eyes landed on their faces. She remembered the way they held themselves. A definitive duo; a team; a family. Their stance, although different, complimented the other.

While Sam was usually a single footstep behind Dean, it was obvious he was considered to be his brother's equal. Sam slouched more than his sibling. His shoulders curled just slightly, as though they were burdened by an invisible weight that only he recognized. His legs, though longer than Dean's, didn't take a gait that one would have assumed. He slowed his pace, moving his limbs so that it mirrored the man he walked beside. His eyes watched their surroundings, giving off an uncertain, untrusting air. He was alert and aware of everything that happened, whether Dean knew it or not. There was an unmistakable respect that the younger Winchester held for the older, and it was recognizable in the small smirks he gave at the mention of lame jokes and attempts to pick up women. Sam accepted his brother for who he was, and the pride he had in being Dean's brother was almost evident in the way he looked whenever declaration of accomplishment came from the person he had been trying to please his entire life. If you didn't know the brothers for who they really were, it was easy to make the mistake that Sam was the one who held the sympathy for those around him. His face, and eyes would melt your fear and bring you to believe his argument, causing a guilt to rise in you that you didn't know could occur. Yet, if you were granted the ability to scratch further into the lives of the Winchester brothers, you would learn that the younger of the two was far more judgmental than the older. He held a high standard of what good was, and applied it to everyone he met. However, as the years went by, it was harder for Sam to rationalize and change his opinions. While being educated and digging, he sometimes forgot to read between the lines and research his surroundings as well as the evil they were up against.

Dean held himself high, an arrogance filling every room he walked into. He demanded attention without ever making a sound. Eyes shifted to take him in, immediately, all slowly dragging up and down his frame. The smirk that plagued his face almost permanently contradicted the hard eyes that immediately judged what or whoever they landed on first. His hands, which swung by his sides, the fingertips grazing along the rough fabric of his jackets, were set and always ready for the quick show of the gun tucked inside of them. Although he focused on fewer things at a time, the workings of his mind could almost be heard in the air around him. A softness would enter Dean when a kind smile or lack of threat occurred, bringing a full smile to his lips. His attention would be turned to whatever happened to grab it – and it would hold, as each word was accepted and heard. There was a slight sincerity behind each word that left his mouth, which brought an inexplicable trust for the stranger. He, although not admitting it, was humbled by the people that often surrounded him. The small bustling of the world, the lack of knowledge that plagued them, along with their noncommittal ways towards him brought a sense of belonging. Dean could relate to these people in a way he didn't yet know. He was capable to be one of them, working alongside them in their day to day routines, without a breath to tell him otherwise. Deep down, both Dean and the world knew he would slip in line with the others, living happily and content – not caring or demanding more. These were the people secretly craved – and for a brief moment, he was accepted.

Emily had been one of those people in one of those brief moments. She took them in with a kind smile and shift in her shoulders. Holding herself high, but without arrogance, she welcomed them into the store, not knowing that was just the beginning of what would be accepting them into her life. She remembered the realization – the destruction of the veil that had so perfectly shielded her from the reality of the world that the Winchesters resided in.

A hawk soared through the clear, cloudless skies, its wings stretched out as far as possible, letting the wind be its guide over the microscopic town consisting of only a couple thousand people at most. The middle of town held all it businesses; little mom and pop diners, the national bank, and its only school. As you broke away from the center of town the houses were scattered, some had acres of land with farms and others appearing as if they were right off of a postcard. It wasn't the type of place that attracted many tourists, in fact, the only people that ever stayed in the motel were passersby on their way to somewhere else.

Wehag Hardware sat next to the town's only gas station set back from the hustle and bustle. Dust would fly up in clouds as cars would drive over the dirt road and it was no different for the '67 Chevy Impala. The car came to a stop outside of the hardware store before its occupants made their way inside. Emily Morgan paid no attention to the new customers in the store as she continued to restock the shelves. She figured it was one of the regulars or even Mr. Sullivan who came in on Tuesdays, strolling up and down every aisle only to purchase a single honey stick that was displayed by the registers.

"Why can't something ever need hunting down in South Beach, these hole-in-the-wall towns are going to ruin baby's paint job." The man in the next aisle grumbled and Emily almost dropped the paint brush in her hand at the sound of his voice. This definitely wasn't someone who lived around here, for one the accent was all wrong, but it was more than that. His voice was alluring, drawing her in, and making her crave more.

"You're gonna want to splurge and get the one with the turtle wax," Emily stepped around the corner of the aisle, having overheard their conversation, and pointed to the container in the oldest Winchester's left hand. He looked ready to object and she wasn't usually one to argue with customers but there was something about him, an almost challenge in his eyes that she was willing to accept without a second thought. "Yeah, you'll pay about twice of what you would with the other one but you wash her up real good and apply a nice coat of wax next time it storms the rain will roll right off."

Dean Winchester's eyes flashed with interest at the young woman who stood in front of him. Her long brown locks were pulled back in a loose bun with random tendrils framing her heart shaped face. She wore no makeup, only the littered freckles over her nose, and was clad in jean shorts and a t-shirt with the hardware store's name on it. His eyes trailed down her legs that seemed to go on forever before dragging them slowly back up her body. "Say I needed oil," he motioned to the Impala out in the parking lot. A sense of all knowing power washed over him as a small smirk pulled at the corner of his lips. It was easy to tell a customer to buy the more expensive item but he was going to prove to her that she didn't know what she was talking about.

Emily followed his line of sight to the car before leaving the aisle and stepping out of sight. Dean nodded his head to his brother with a smug smile on his face in a way of saying that he had out witted the country girl that told him which wax to use. At least that was until she came back and handed him a quart of 10W-30. Dean slowly took the bottle and dug his heel into the top of his brother's foot as he started to snicker.

"Dad runs the local garage," Emily supplied with a shrug as she went back to restocking the shelves.

Sam had to bite the side of his cheek to keep his laughter in as he watched the associate turn the corner and go back to work. The expression on his brother's face was priceless, and though he tried to feign annoyance, there was a bit of admiration glistening in his eyes.

Emily was back behind the register when the brothers had gathered everything they were looking for and Dean set the items on the counter. Her fingers danced over the number pad as she typed in the price for each item before placing it at the bottom of a brown paper bag. As if she wasn't even standing there the Winchesters continued on with their conversation.

"Did you find out where Garrison used to live?" Dean questioned, opening a bag of peanut M&Ms and tossing a few in his mouth.

Sam handed Emily an unopened package so she could charge Dean for the one he so nonchalantly started eating but before the youngest Winchester could answer Emily spoke up, "Garrison? You're not talking about Liam, are you?"

Dean's hand stopped halfway to his mouth as Sam turned his attention to the cashier. "Yeah, did you know him?"

"Not really," she shook her head and gave Dean the total. "It's more of an old story that the teachers used to scare us with in school."

Emily took the folded up bills from Dean, who seemed more interested in the conversation now that she might have information about the case. "What did they say?"

"A man who doesn't know what kind of wax or oil to buy for his car and he's interested in ghost stories," she chided him as she handed over the paper bag. "If you asked me I'd say you needed more practice with casual conversation or do you not know what that is?"

Sam's eyes danced with amusement at the spitfire of a girl who was able to take whatever Dean threw at her and throw it right back. Dean shifted his shoulders, not liking having his feathers roughed. "Listen, sweetheart, I know everything there is to know about that car. I've rebuilt her from the ground up with my bare hands."

"Would you just be able to tell us where Mr. Garrison lived?" Sam questioned, cutting his brother off before he started showing her old scars. "We heard some of the story and were curious to check it out."

Emily bit her bottom lip and glanced out to the Impala with a small shake of her head, "You're not going to make it in that. Had a storm pass through few months back and the main road got washed out. Only way to the old Garrison house is through the back roads." She flashed Dean a sympathetic smile. "Wouldn't want to destroy the shocks on something you rebuilt with your bare hands."

"Thank you," Sam replied quickly, almost pushing his brother towards the exit.

Just as the bell above the door chimed she called out stopping them in their tracks. "If you give me a second to close up, I'll give you a lift."

Sam was surprised that Dean had agreed for the girl to take them to the supposed haunted house but said nothing as Dean made him ride in the middle of the bench seat. His long legs squished next to Dean who flashed him a smug smile at the uncomfortable expression on Sam's face. A flick of the wrist and the old clunker came to life with a puff of smoke out of the tail pipe. Emily backed out of the parking spot and started towards Mr. Garrison's house.

Dean glanced over to her out of the corner of his eye. She wasn't doing anything special, the wind from the rolled down window blew through the few tendrils of hair that had escaped her ponytail while she casually chatted to Sam with an easy smile on her face. She wasn't a soldier stuck in a war that couldn't be won and she didn't hold the answers to all of life's questions but Dean stared at her as if she was holding the universe together. She radiated with a beauty that wasn't easily found. Emily would never be found in one of those magazines Dean had stored in the bottom of his duffle but he couldn't take his eyes off of her. If he stared into her crystal blue orbs long enough he could see that her soul was barely sparking, longing for adventure, and waiting to be set on fire.

Dean's daydream was cut short as the truck pulled up the gravel driveway and came to a stop. Liam Garrison's house was built back in the eighteen hundreds and Emily had always thought it belonged somewhere else besides her dingy town. The cobblestone pathway was lined with bushes that at one point she assumed were pristinely clipped and tended to. Vines had crept up the side of the house over the years but it only added to the mysterious vibe it gave off. She had cut off the engine and pocked the keys as she got out of the cab, the gravel under her boots giving her away.

"Where do you think you're going?" Dean questioned as he glanced over his shoulder to see Emily following them up the pathway.

She stared at him for a moment, her hands in her back pockets, "Uh, inside? If you're going in there then so am I."

"Don't think so," Dean replied so quickly and with such a harsh clip in his voice it almost made her take a step back.

Sam stepped in and swept away the hostility like he had been doing for years, his eyes soft and full of compassion. "It's just after all the stories we've heard we wouldn't want something to happen to you."

"You're reporters, aren't you?" Without giving them a chance to answer she side stepped the wall of Sam and climbed the front steps. "So, let's get you your story."

Dean and Sam stayed on the pathway for a moment having a silent argument about bringing Emily along with them. Sam slouched a bit so he could be eye level with his brother, emotions flowing through him that they were supposed to protect innocents and not put them in the line of fire. Dean, on the other hand, stood at his full height arguing back that he wasn't a damn babysitter and he didn't want to bring her along in the first place.

"Dean, we don't even know if its here, what's the worst that can happen?"

Their argument would have continued if it wasn't for the sound of glass shattering inside the house. The brothers took off like a shot, barreling through the front door with guns at the ready. They swept the first two rooms like their father had taught them and came up empty. Dean shot Sam a glare out of the corner of his eye that this was exactly what he didn't want to happen. The Winchesters locked eyes for a brief second as Dean counted to three and opened the closed door, guns instantly aimed at Emily who hand a hand over her forehead.

"Are you okay? What happened?" Sam questioned, his eyes searching out every inch of the room for something supernatural.

Dean tucked his gun back in the waist of his jeans and gently pried her hand away to see the damage. He had seen much worse over the years but seeing a crack in her innocence had his chest tightening. He couldn't hide the confusion on his face as she smiled up at him through her lashes, a blush breaking out across her cheeks.

"I tripped over the carpet," she confessed and motioned to the slight bump in the area rug. "Tried to catch myself before I fell and knocked over the vase instead."

"Going to need to patch that up," Dean handed her a handkerchief to hold over the wound until he could clean it out. "You sure you're alright?"

She nodded, "Just a bruised ego. Can we leave the part of me being an ass out of your story?"

Dean smirked a bit as Sam continued to sweep the room for what she assumed was for their job. "I think we can do that. Why don't you wait out on the porch for us before you get blood everywhere."

"It's not that bad," she muttered under her breath but did as she was told. She could hear the two men arguing as she sat on the steps and rolled her eyes.

Emily jumped as the door slammed behind her and an angry Dean almost plowed her over as he descended the stairs heading straight for her truck. She glanced behind her a moment expecting Sam to come out after his brother but when he didn't she looked back to Dean who was already in the driver's seat of her pickup. "Well, are you coming or what? I don't have all day."

"I…" she looked back at the house one more time before walking down the pathway and getting into the passenger side of the truck. "Is everything okay?"

Dean didn't answer as he kept searching the cab of her truck, "Keys?"

Emily dug them out of her pocket and handed them over to him. He snatched them out of her hand a little rougher than needed and started the truck. The pickup truck was flying down the back roads so fast that Emily held onto the door handle to steady herself as Dean hit another bump in the road. Although he hadn't said anything since he backed out of Mr. Garrison's driveway she could see the anger behind his eyes. Figuring she needed to calm him down somehow she flicked on the radio, the strum of the guitar hitting Dean's ears.

"What no country?" He questioned, fighting hard to keep the scowl on his face as the classic rock filled the cab of the truck.

Emily snorted in amusement and shook her head, "What, just because I live in the middle of nowhere I have to listen to a specific kind of music?" Her eyes danced with amusement and as he glanced over to her for a brief second he forgot what he and Sam had argued about. "Take your next left, rock star." Dean raised an eyebrow in question but did as he was told. "I assume you don't want to go back and hangout with Sam so we can go chill by the lake for a bit."

Dean had stopped by the Impala for the first aid kit and cleaned her cut out, having to give her a few stitches so that it would heal properly and then stopped at a gas station and picked up a case of beer before getting back in the truck as if it was his own. Emily said nothing, as he kept her feet propped up on the dashboard, directing him down to the lake.

The soft lapping of water sounded with each small wave smacking against the green, algae covered rocks. Dark shadows from the evergreens across the wide lake cast down on the black water, illuminating the fact of the lowering sun as it matched the purple hued sky above them. Gentle waves rocked the aluminum boat that sat tied to an over hanging tree limb. There was a cold bite to the air that seemed strange for the humid, sweltering days it had followed. Frogs sang out, blending their melody with that of the soft music coming through the windows of the dust covered pick up that sat on the bank, over looking the water and small lightning bugs that floated in the air.

A light plink from a glass bottle falling to the ground sounded as Dean dropped his beer and grabbed a new one. "How's your head?" he questioned, not looking over at her. He couldn't chance getting lost in her crystal blue eyes again and he was still trying to figure out how this complete stranger had his heart speeding up at her mere presence. He met thousands of people over the years and not one of them had him feeling like this.

Emily's fingers lightly touched the sewn skin near her eye. "I think I'll live," she smiled, thankful for the concern. "You sure know a lot about stitching faces for a couple 'a reporters."

Adjusting his stance, Dean leaned against the grill of the truck once more. "Yeah, well let's just say we had a special kind of field training," he spoke with a bitter tone before tipping the cool liquid into his mouth.

An awkwardness filled the pit of Emily's stomach in the silence that followed. Leaning forward, she rested her elbows on her bare thighs and began picking at the sticker on her bottle. Watching Dean, Emily bit her lower lip. He was staring forward with a stiff, lowered brow while his jaw slowly moved with the clenching and unclenching of his teeth. Tensity rolled off of him like fast rain, flooding the area. It wasn't a common thing for her to see, let alone be familiar with. Inside, her head screamed for her to ask him about it; to dive deeper and understand what it was that had happened to create the void between the brothers. Yet, something held her back from doing so. He was still a stranger to her - a stranger who seemed to both trust and care about her even though he knew just as little as she did.

While she didn't understand, she knew that it was mutual. There was something about Dean that drew her in, made her want to force him to speak without stopping. She wanted to draw his eyes to hers and make him focus without blinking. The way his thumb had gently grazed her temple as he wiped away at blood that slowly dripped down her cheek. She had been amazed at the gentleness he had, considering he seemed anything but. He seemed almost invincible and fearless behind the tenderness he had used earlier. Deep down she wanted to see those sides combined.

The brothers had stayed in town for a few days and Emily couldn't say that she minded the company. Whatever they had been arguing about seemed to have been forgotten as they visited her at the store. Sam chatted about the paper they were writing about the Garrison house but it was Dean that watched her with an intensity she had never seen before. His eyes always found the bandage on her forehead and she could see the guilt swimming there. Sam left the hardware store with a quick farewell to Emily, turning the sign on the door to closed as he walked out per her request.

The sounds of the music around them faded away as Dean took a step closer, her breath catching in her throat as the scent of leather and something she couldn't quite place washed over her. Emily felt as if her heart was going to pound right out of her chest as her eyes flickered from his partially open mouth back to his eyes that were showing the war waging in his mind. He tilted his chin down at the same time she rose up on her tip toes, Emily not giving him a second to change his mind. Their lips met for the first time in a kiss that stopped the world from spinning. It was then they realized that it wasn't goodbye- it was only the beginning.

Emily thought of her green eyed hunter every second of every day and if there were moments between those times he would be on her mind then too. Dean Winchester was one of those people that you couldn't forget if you tried. She wasn't just attracted to him for his looks, though he wasn't lacking in that department either, she was attracted to him because of the person he was. It was his kindness to a complete stranger, his all knowing eyes that would starve her fears, and the way his smile put every single one of her insecurities to sleep. It was the way he could get her to laugh just when she needed it but most of all it was the way he had given her the ability to live. Not survive, not the simple task of taking a breath every morning, but to actually live in the moment- something she would have never found if she had been stuck in her hometown wishing on a star. Dean had broken down any wall she had ever built so she could feel the warmth of the sunshine even on a rainy day.

The bell on the door chimed alerting her to a customer entering and she pushed herself away from the counter. Emily washed her hands at the small sink with her back to the person and called over her shoulder in a monotone voice, "I'll be right with you."

"No rush," came the customer's reply, but it wasn't just any random guy that had wandered into the coffee shop. She would have recognized that voice anywhere, it still haunted her dreams, and her eyes began to fill with emotion. She took a minute to collect herself, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall because if he was here then so was his brother. The same brother that she was supposed to pretend to never want to see again, he hadn't just broken her heart he had shattered it into a million pieces before he shoved her out into the world alone with those same pieces still crushed in his hands.

She ripped a paper towel off and as she dried her hands she turned around, "Let me guess two large coffees; one black, one with milk, and some kind of pastry since we don't have pie."

"Em," Sam breathed out, surprised to see her after all these years. Her once long layered hair had been cut up above her shoulders, appearing to be lifeless. He thought about the last time he ever saw her, how her eyes swam with tears she refused to let fall, how his brother had been in a foul mood for months after. He noticed the same look in her eyes now as she moved around behind the counter filling the order she once herself would go get for the three of them. It was as if every memory of her was fighting to be front and center in his mind but the one that won out was the day she left everything she knew behind.

"Dean, she's innocent," Sam tried to explain, hoping to help the anger in his brother disappear.

The intensity of the look got in response made his insides scream. "It's not innocence, Sam, it's naivety. Taking her with us is a stupid idea."

Sighing, Sam shifted in his seat as the pulled up in front of Emily's house. "I agree, but she isn't going to back down. It's either she goes with us, or she goes on her own- not only hunting, but looking for us. At least if we take her with us, we can protect her."

They were supposed to be there to say goodbye with empty promises that they would keep in touch or swing back through but one look at the hopeful expression on her face had Dean caving. Every word he had just spewed to Sam was lost when he saw her crystal blue eyes singing with happiness. He wasn't sure how it happened or when but he did it, he was the reason there was a spring in her step and a smile on her face, and that was the best feeling he could have asked for.

Emily stood behind the opened door of the Impala, her bag hitched on her shoulder. Her house, the place she had lived all her life, stood out brightly against its background of green pastures. It was as though the picture in front of her stood out, knowing it was going to be a memory. Emily took a deep breath, stealing herself and gripping the strap to her bag tightly. She wasn't sad, not really; she knew her home would always be sitting there, waiting for her, just as bright then as it was now - capable of picking up where she was leaving off. Emily accepted what was next for her; understanding it wouldn't be easy by any means. Sam and Dean had been sure to tell her that, but their scare tactics failed them. She knew she was capable especially now if she wasn't before. There was nothing holding her to this small town with its predictability and consistent ritualistic lifestyle. There was no bitterness or hatred in her heart for the place she would no longer consider to be her home.

The trunk closed behind her and Sam appeared at her side. Her eyes didn't move from the front door that seemed to suddenly be a marker of her old and new lives. "You don't have to come, Emily," Sam's quiet voice drifted down to her. "This is your hometown, your neighbors, friends… You have a lot of people around you here, you have a normal life."

Smiling, Emily tipped her head and brushed her bangs behind her ears, her ponytail brushing along her covered shoulders. "No. I'm ready. Staying in this town isn't gonna do me any good. I'd probably just be sitting around and pining for something, you know?"

Sam chuckled and looked down at her. "Oh yeah? What's there to pine for? Updated soundtrack down at the hardware store?"

Emily's blue eyes latched onto Sam's as a bright smile rivaled his. "Fresh paved roads would be nice," she joked before looking back to the house. "But I think I'd be staring at the phone, waiting for a know-it-all giant to call and tell me some fascinating fact about something I didn't know existed. Or I'd just be staring out the window, waiting for some motor head to come speeding down the road, probably playing his music too loud and cursing small town simplicity." Sam's genuine laugh deepened her smile. "Really I'd just be sitting here, bored out of my mind, feeling alone. You guys are a part of me now. And after everything I've seen and learned, I'm gonna hold on to the two of you for dear life."

Emily was thankful for the chance to spread her wings, ready to see if she could fly, but it was more than that. Any future she could even imagine had Dean right there next to her, there wasn't one that didn't have him in it, and that alone gave her the courage to leave it all behind. Everything she had ever known, her comfort zone, all to be with a man that made her heart not only skip a beat but stop completely.

Sam remained by her side, looking ahead with her at the house, imaging her words coming to life. There was something that told him she would be a much bigger part than some normal ally. The way she had offered her life to them, accepting them into it with the honest compassion that radiated off of her. He knew the minute she drove them that first day that she was already committed to them. With Emily around it was like the incomplete puzzle was finally whole. There was the way she seemed to be able to get Dean to talk when Sam could only get him to yell. She listened to Sam and didn't judge, taking in his words with a trust and security that he felt had been missing for a while. Emily was the better parts of them both - the parts that had somehow disappeared and pushed the two of them apart. Sam found himself thankful that Emily had come into their lives at that point, believing she had a purpose in their lives; believing that their lives once again had a purpose on their own.

Sam pulled his wallet out as she set the cardboard carrier on the counter with four cups of coffee and a bag of baked goods next to it. She shook her head, refusing to take any money from him. "It's on me. Save it for something you really need. You know, you have to watch out for those credit card scams."

"Em…" Sam trailed off with a sigh and when she still wouldn't take any money from him he shoved a few bills into the tip jar. He wanted to stay and talk to her for hours, find out why she only looked like a shell of the woman he used to know, but he knew Dean was waiting impatiently in the car. Emily forced herself to smile, keeping the tears that stung her eyes at bay as he leaned over the counter and gave her a quick hug. "I miss you."

She nodded into his shoulder unable to speak in fear of her voice breaking and he let her go, carrying the coffee and goodies out to the car. Dean tapped his fingers along the top of the steering wheel to the beat of the music and snatched the bag out of Sam's hands the second he was inside. He greedily took a large bite of the apple turnover and didn't bother suppressing his groan of delight. Checking over his shoulder, he pulled out onto the busy street and headed off to find their motel.

"What's with you?" Dean asked, noticing the way Sam's shoulders were slumped more than usual. "Looks like you're sucking on a lemon over there."

Sam thought about telling Dean about Emily, wondering if he would turn the car around and go see her or if it would only cause more problems. His brother had been heartbroken whether Dean would ever admit it or not and it took quite some time to get over her, if he ever really had at all. Deciding it was for the best Sam tried to shake off his sullen expression the best he could, "Nothing, man."

"I don't know what you want from me!" Dean roared, the muscles in his neck strained and his face red with the emotions he wasn't able to contain. Every time he turned around something else was falling apart and he just couldn't take it anymore especially not from her, not from the one person that had put him back together in the first place.

"I want you!" Emily shouted back, her chest heaving from all the fighting they had been doing. Part of her was thankful Sam was out because if he was in the motel room with them Dean would have bottled up his emotions instead of laying it out for her. "I want your sarcastic comments and your constant need to listen to classic rock. I want all your mistakes and your triumphs. I want your tears and your smiles…I want everything, Dean, and I want it with you. I just want you, isn't that enough?"

Her words, so full of meaning, settled straight in his heart. No one had ever cared the way she did, there was always someone that came before him but not in Emily's eyes. He should have closed the space between them, wrapped his arms around her tiny frame and answer her question with a knee weakening kiss. He should have but the years of being a hunter had his father's voice resounding in his head. It was too dangerous and the thought of Emily ending up like his mother was too heart wrenching.

"No, it's not."

The moment Sam was out the door Emily excused herself and nearly ran out the rear exit. Leaning against the brick wall she tried to draw air into her lungs as tears streamed down her cheeks like razorblades. The unmistakable roar of the Impala's engine passed the alley and her heart clenched in her chest. It was easy to remember the good times when she was all alone and her bed was all too empty but just seeing Sam, knowing Dean was nearby, everything she had been trying to forget had come back. She had foolishly thought that time healed all wound but she was wrong. Her soul was left with the scars, the reminders of what used to be, and she would never be fully healed.

It was in her mind that she screamed at herself, willing, begging for her words to stop, praying for the end. But, as each word sliced through the air and swept over him with the intended force - the pressure started behind her eyes. Stoically he watched her, arms crossed, waiting for the final blow. With a tight jaw and unchanging energy, Dean waited, taking in every breath that she knew to be wasted on him. He had heard the speech before, from those who cared enough to be concerned and even those who were just angry with the truth he had placed in front of them.

And he let her yell and explode. It only made sense. He saw it coming, for weeks now. Like a ticking time bomb, her fuse had been getting shorter over time. Anger had been flashing in her blue eyes more and more until it settled there almost permanently. The addictive, enticing, and contagious smile that she so often wore had been missing; replaced by an angry scowl. Even her inputs on cases began to fade away behind abrasive motions and blatant brush offs. But it was for her own good. Keeping her away from the ever increasing danger that seemed to be more like a shadow than constant annoyance meant she would be safe.

If Dean admitted it to himself, he would take her lashing out and pained expressions every day - because at least she would be alive to do it. The hesitation that he had held on her announcement of wanting to join them hadn't been lost in the time leading up to now. His eyes had been casting furtive glances towards her starting the minute he had hopped in the driver's seat of her pickup. It wasn't because of the fact she was female. True, there wasn't as large a number in his 'field of work' as there were in others, but it wasn't that. Dean had respect for the women who took their guns and aimed at the true monsters of the world. They were tough. Strong. Powerful. Independent. The women who practiced hunting in the ways Dean knew were close to unbreakable.

Emily was no different. She held each of the qualities, and even with the small number of things she had witnessed, she, too, found herself to be unbreakable. It was the innocence that she had that concerned Dean. Regardless of which trait emerged as a shining element from within her, the innocence was always there. Dean knew the minute that innocence was broken, Emily would forever be lost; whether inside herself or lingering in whatever place it broke, either way she would never be the same.

Emily had gone back into the coffee shop feeling just as destroyed as when he told her to leave in the first place. A part of her wondered if Sam told Dean where she was and every time the little bell chimed above the door alerting her to a customer, butterflies filled her stomach expecting it to be him. He never came in that day, or the next, and by the end of the week Emily had started to rebuild that wall around her heart again. If he had cared, he would have come back for her, he would have stopped in to check that she was doing okay, but instead he had ignored her presence all together. Maybe it was better this way, maybe then she could finally get over the infamous Dean Winchester.

Seven years later

"Emily?"

She froze in her spot at the sound of his voice, taking her right back to that hardware store all those years ago. She almost didn't turn around, didn't want to disappoint herself when she realized it was all a dream, but there was this pull about him that she was never able to deny. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes for a moment before turning to see him standing there. "Dean."

"How are you?" He asked, genuinely wanting to know everything that she had done since the last time he saw her. "How's life treating you?"

Emily's gaze floated over to her son who was still happily building sandcastles. She had settled into her life as a banker's wife with a nine to five job and motherhood. She never thought this was where she would have ended up when she started her journey and she returned her attention to Dean, "It's been different."

"I've noticed," he commented, taking in every inch of her. Emily's styled curls were pinned back, makeup covered the blanket of freckles across her nose, and was dressed as if she worked in an office. And if he looked close enough he could still see the scar above her eyebrow from the day they first met. He wished he could say that her appearance was the only thing that changed but then he would be lying to himself. The innocence that he once stayed up at night worrying about had long since worn off and he couldn't help but think he was the reason behind it.

He was almost ready to apologize, to let out all the emotions he had kept bottled up over the years, and do anything to see that smile he dreamt about every night when she spoke up, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen over them. "Well, you take care of yourself, Dean."

"Yeah," he cleared his throat, swallowing the words that threatened to spill from his lips. If she wanted to walk away, he was going to let her, he owed her that much. "You too, Em."

Dean headed back to the Impala with his hands in his pockets and a small smile pulled at the corner of his lips when his thumb ran across the keychain she had given him. It wasn't much, some stupid bottle cap with the inscription of a no name town, but he still remembered the look in her eyes as she attached it to his keys. Dean had grumbled at the time, putting up a fight about defiling his baby, but deep down his heart was swelling.

"Momma," the little boy tugged on her hand that his pudgy fingers had a hold of. "Who was that?"

Emily glanced over her shoulder at Dean's retreating form, her eyes taking in every detail as if trying to recommit it to memory. She could see every scar, every defining muscle, hidden under his leather jacket. She could almost feel his callused hand brushing her old bangs, the same bangs that she had deliberately grown, out of her eyes before he would lean in and place a gentle, emotion filled kiss on her forehead. That was the good memories though, the ones that she liked to think about on a bright sunny day when she thought she was past it all, but then the rains would come bringing along with it the reasons it never worked in the first place. The harsh stares and the heart shattering words came back in suffocating waves leaving her struggling to breathe.

"Mom," he sighed dramatically and tugged on her hand again since she had yet to answer his question.

When she finally tore her eyes away from the hunter she forced a smile, "No one, baby, just someone I thought I knew."

That was the last time she saw Dean Winchester, she never looked back after that day and couldn't say she didn't regret it. There was only one man that held every piece of her heart and he stood at three feet nine inches with the most piercing blue eyes anyone had ever seen. It would be easy to say that she wished the Winchesters had never walked into that hardware store all those years ago. She imagined she would still be stuck back in her small town, dreams forgotten and soul crushed, staring out her bedroom window wondering what the rest of the world held for her. Along with the pain and heartache came the road less traveled, a road that let her explore who she was as a person, and for that she would always be thankful. Maybe it wasn't supposed to end this way, maybe somewhere along the way their cord had been clipped short leading them in different directions and to different destinies.

The sun started to set casting an orange glow over the town as she walked hand and hand down the sidewalk with her son. Dean Winchester would still flood her thoughts every second of everyday and no matter what happened in their lives she would always love him. He didn't just give her comfort; he gave her danger, freedom, and the chance to live a life she would never have been able to.

Sam met Dean on the sidewalk, handing him a cup of coffee, as he nodded down the road, "Was that who think it was?"

"Dean, stop," she pleaded, tears streaming down her cheeks as she shrieked again trying to squirm away from him.

His fingers never left her side as he tortured her with tickles, "Sorry, can't hear you." He laughed along with her, not ever feeling as alive as he did in that moment. He continued his assault for a few more seconds before looming over her on the bed, caging her in with his strong arms.

"What?" Emily questioned, searching his face as he stared at her with an intensity that a heat pooling between her legs. He leaned closer, barely ghosting his lips against hers at first until his kisses became hungrier. Dean Winchester didn't know what the definition of love was but if he had to he could make a pretty good guess.

Dean took a sip of his coffee as he headed for the driver's side of the Impala, "No." He glanced back down the road where he had seen her but she was already gone. "No, that wasn't our Emily."