Author's Note: Okay so I heard two songs at work the other day. They both inspired me to write and after a little brainstorming with some lovely peeps, I decided to combine the two stories into a two part shorty. The first part was inspired by the song "Desperado" by the Eagles and the second part was inspired by the song "Take It Easy" also by the Eagles. These take place in season 5 at the beginning when the boys part ways. They are sitting in a park at a picnic table. Sam doesn't trust himself and neither does Dean. They part company.
Part I - Finding Yourself
It had been a decent day at Pansy's Pantry. Molli owned the small diner but still worked behind the counter every day. Big Jim had finished up about ten minutes ago and she had sent him home. They were only open for about 15 more minutes and she was just doing what little cleaning she could get away with while still technically being open. Maybe she could get away with closing early tonight. She went over to the large picture windows and scanned the street. Downtown was pretty quiet. Why not? She walked around to the door and pulled out her keys. Just as she was reaching for the lock, a young man walked up, hope in his eyes.
Molli sighed and looked him over. He seemed safe enough. "We're closing. Sorry." He frowned and then the little bit of hope that was in his face fell away. Molli was a sucker for the charity cases and he looked like one. She started opening the door again and called after him. "You can come in, but I have to warn you the grill is shut down."
"No problem. Thanks! A salad will be fine."
Molli hesitated for a moment and then threw the door wide enough for him. "Come on in, then, honey. Have a seat."
He squeezed past her and took up a seat at the counter. Molli watched him sit. His shoulders seemed weighed down with the weight of the world. She made her way back behind the counter and pulled out a menu. "You can order anything that doesn't involve cooking." She set the menu down in front of him.
He glanced briefly at it and then up at her. "What do you recommend?"
"Well... you said salad. The strawberry walnut salad is excellent with the homemade strawberry vinaigrette."
"Sold." He slid the menu across the counter back to her and smiled.
"How did you grow so big on rabbit food?"
"Oh, trust me. I get my fair share of greasy diner food." No sooner had he said it than he realized what he had said and started to back peddle. "I didn't mean..."
"Oh, sugar, it's fine. Anything to drink with the salad?"
"Sure thing." She turned and grabbed up a cup and saucer and slid a tray of tea bags and sugar packets down the counter toward him. Then she poured some hot water into a small pitcher and set it in front of him. "Just so you know, I have to lock up in about ten minutes."
"Oh. I guess I should get that to go, then."
"Oh no! You sit here as long as you like. I'll just need to lock the doors."
"You're ok locking yourself in here with a strange man?"
"I've always been gifted with the ability to read people. I think I'll be fine." She looked at him a moment. "Why? Are you having nefarious thoughts?"
He chuckled. "No ma'am. You're perfectly safe."
Molli smiled at him and then ducked into the kitchen to get his salad. She eyed him through the service window a few times. He seemed troubled of mind, and heavy of heart. She wondered what his story was. Seemed odd, a man that young sitting in a diner at this hour.
"So why aren't you sitting in a bar?" She called out to him.
"A bar? What do you mean?"
"I mean... a young man such as yourself usually drowns the love sick heart in alcohol... not vinaigrette."
"Love sick heart huh?"
"Told you, I can read people."
"Well, my heart isn't sick over a woman."
"But it is sick."
"You're good." He paused, staring into his tea. "My heart is sick over lost love but it's my brother."
"Ahhh... family. The love is stronger and the roots go deeper. You and your brother are close?"
He chuckled again and shook his head. "You could say that. We're tight in an almost codependent way."
Molli continued chopping things for the salad and nodded sagely. "Lose your parents at a young age?"
"How did you...?" He looked at her and she smirked at him and they both said at the same time "Good at reading people." They smiled at each other and she tossed her ingredients into a large bowl and got the dressing.
She came out of the kitchen and set his meal down. His eyes were a million miles away, reliving some memory or other. He finally looked up. "Mom died when I was just 6 months old. Dad passed a few years back."
"Brother older?" He nodded. "He sort of act like mom to you all these years?"
"You truly have a talent. Yes. He's protective. We travel almost constantly for work. We're stuck in the same car together, stay in the same motel rooms. We are almost constantly together. He definitely acts like a parent. He's practically had to be one since he was four. Watching out for me while dad was away on... work."
"Sounds like he really cares about you."
"That's why we had to split. I ... I screwed up pretty bad. People got hurt. A lot of people... he's lost his trust in me. Hell, I don't trust me."
Molli heard frustration and a bit of surrender in his voice. How could someone so young sound so old? He took a few bites of his salad with a sigh. "Well, if your brother really does care about you, he'll forgive you whatever it is you've done."
"I'm sure he will, with time, but it's the lack of trust he'll have trouble getting over."
"I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before. Not even sure why I feel compelled to tell you in the first place. When I was about your age, mid twenties, I was really into the party scene. My brother kept trying to tell me that if I continued down that road I'd hurt myself. Of course I never listened to him. Little did I know that my activities would lead to hurting someone else. I mean, no one ever thinks that what they do will hurt anyone.
"I was at one of many parties and had been indulging quite heavily. My boyfriend had been doing likewise. When it came time to go, we did. We never thought anything about it. Long story short, I lost control of the car on the way home. Gary died on the scene. I have had to live with that screw up my whole life. My brother was pissed and refused to talk to me for weeks.
"At first, I did the logical thing and tried to lose myself in drink. That so didn't work. I eventually closed in on myself. My brother wasn't talking to me and I pulled away from everyone else. Then one day out of the blue, Gary's family called. They wanted to let me know that they had forgiven me. I thought they were nuts and couldn't understand why they would do that.
"I wrote them off, but what they had done stuck with me and wouldn't let go. I eventually forgave myself and went back to my brother on my knees to plead his mercy. He also forgave me and told me he had done so ages ago."
"Why hadn't he contacted you?" The young man was completely wrapped up in her story.
"I asked him the same thing. He told me I needed to forgive myself first."
The young man frowned a bit, lost in his own thoughts. "What should I do? When I don't even trust myself?"
"That's for you to figure out. Just know that your brother's forgiveness isn't the only thing you need." She turned and left him to finish his salad and mull over his life.
Molli finished her cleaning while he sat. He had moved to a booth and sat staring out at the night beyond. Said he didn't feel right leaving her here alone. Who said chivalry was dead?
"I'm all set."
He looked up at her and smiled. "How much do I owe you?"
"Meal's on the house, sugar."
"And the therapy?"
Molli grinned. "I'm retired, but used to be a psychotherapist. I sort of fall back into it without thinking. Butting my nose into other people's business. Hope I didn't bother you."
"No, of course not. In fact you gave me quite a bit to think about. I feel like I owe you a copay."
Molli laughed. "If you listened, then that's payment enough." Molli unlocked the door and held it open for him and then turned and locked it up again. "Excuse me, um... oh my. I never got your name."
"Sam. You take care of yourself. You seem to be a caring and intelligent young man. Find yourself and then worry about your brother. I hope everything works out for you and to quote from one of my favorite songs 'your prison is walking through this world all alone' but know this, Sam: too often our lonely prisons are self inflicted. We don't have to walk alone."
Part II - Losing Yourself
Why did he come here? He shouldn't be here. It's like the car brought him here by itself. After Sammy had hitched a ride out of that park, Dean had gotten in the car and just drove. His mind had been a jumble of emotions. He hadn't known what to feel. He still didn't. He felt adrift. Felt like he had lost that little piece of control he liked to think he had.
He looked across the crowded floor toward the bar. The night's headliner was going to be dancing soon and the place was filling up. He could see Juice standing behind the bar serving up drinks. She rarely danced anymore. Thankfully she hadn't seen him. He really shouldn't be here.
He set his unfinished beer on the small table in front of him, along with a few wadded up bills, and tried to get out through the mass of people before Juice caught sight of him. He was pulling his keys out of his pocket to unlock the car door when he heard the crunch of boots on the gravel behind him.
"Hey Winchester, where do you think you're going?"
Shit. He had almost made it. He didn't turn around. "J."
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry. I don't know. I..." He leaned heavily on the hood of the Impala. He and J had had a few flings over the years. Some great sex and no questions. Whenever he was in town, they enjoyed each others company, and then he was gone again in the morning. They had agreed, mutually, that the last time needed to be the last time. She wanted to get on with her life and didn't want him just popping in unexpectedly. "I know we agreed..."
"I know we agreed, too. So why are you here?"
"I don't know. I'll go." He hung his head, giving it a shake. She came up behind him, grabbed his shoulders and turned him to her.
"What I meant was... what's wrong? What brought you here? What's going on?" She forced the eye contact that he had been avoiding and she stepped back when she saw his eyes. "Come on. Let's get a drink."
"I shouldn't. I ... don't want to go back in there."
"Take me home, then. I've got some beer. I even think there's some of that whiskey left from the last time you were here." Dean just stood there, torn. "Come on." She pulled the keys from his hand and unlocked the car. She crawled across the seat, waited for him to get in, then handed him his keys. "Home James."
Dean smirked and shook his head. On the drive to J's place, Dean could feel her eyes on him. He knew she could tell something was bothering him. He drove in silence, though. He didn't know what say about things. 'Yeah, so my brother is addicted to demon blood and he's become a menace to himself, me, and society.' Nah, that wouldn't fly. 'So, my brother kick started the apocalypse... how have you been doing?' Nope. And how much of all of this was his own fault? For not being there like he should have been for Sammy. For not seeing it when it was right in front of him. For not putting his foot down harder... sooner. Dean ran his hand down his face.
He pulled into her driveway and she hopped right out. He just sat there. Why was he here? She opened his door, took his hand, and pulled him from the car. "Come on, Dean. Since when does having a drink hurt you?" He grinned and let her lead him into the house. She pulled his jacket off, tossed it over the back of a chair, and then pushed him down onto the couch. "Be right back."
Dean could hear her in the kitchen, glass tinkling. She appeared before him, a glass of whiskey in one hand and the bottle in the other. She looked at him and then to her hands. Shrugging, she kept the glass for herself and handed the bottle to him.
"That bad, huh?"
"I've seen you better... and that includes the time you showed up at my door and bled out all over my carpet."
"I offered to make amends."
She smiled. "I remember." She curled up on the couch next to him and sipped at her drink.
They sat in silence for a moment. Nice thing about J, she didn't ask a billion questions or give you the third degree. After a heavy sigh, he began. "Sammy is messed up with some nasty shit. I don't know what more I can do. I mean... he seems like he's on the mend, but..."
He stared at the bottle in his hands. Juice reached over and took his hand in hers. "Sometimes there's nothing you can do. He may need to work through this on his own."
He sighed. "I guess." They sat there in silence for who knew how long.
He finally came back to himself and discovered the bottle he held in his hands was empty and he didn't even realize he had been drinking it. He set it on the small table in front of him. J was no longer on the couch. He glanced around. "J?" He looked at his watch. One in the morning. She probably had gone to bed. "Juice?"
"Yeah! Be right back!" She called from somewhere in the house.
He closed his eyes and let his head fall back on the couch. Suddenly feeling more tired than he had in years. He felt the couch shift as J returned. When he opened his eyes, she crawled toward him on the couch, naked.
"J, I don't think we should do this. I ..."
She straddled his lap and kissed him slow and easy. "Dean you need this. You need to take it easy before the dialogue in your head drives you crazy. You need to let Sam go, you need to let go of the car out front. You need to let go of your job. You need to let go of yourself."
"J, I can't do th-"
Juice put her finger to his lips. "Shhh. Yes you can. You need to forget about all of that. At least for tonight. Let it all go, Dean." She put her hands under his shirt and leaned in and kissed him again.
He was hesitant at first but she was right. He needed to drive it all out of his head. At least for the night. It turned out to be the roughest sex he'd had in years. He usually took it slow and easy, relishing every moment, not knowing when the chance would come again. But, apparently tonight, he tried driving the thoughts out of his head as he drove into J. She took him in, though. All of him. His pain. His doubt and uncertainty. His frustration. His anger.
They curled up on the couch, after, J holding him in her arms. He dozed off and slept the most peaceful sleep he'd had in ages. Waking about three hours later, he untangled himself from her, got dressed, and hunted around for a piece of paper.
Before leaving, he scrawled out a quick note: 'Thanks for saving me once again.'