A/N: Well, this is the final chapter. It was a pleasure writing this story and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. Please still feel free to let me know if there is anything you think could use improving. And, as always, I love to know when you like things the way they are, too. Please review. It keeps this little author's creative juices flowing and inspires new fics. Thanks to all you guys who've stuck with this one. 'Till next time.
I smile at Dean where he stands, still leaning against the door frame. His neck is the same dark purple that I'm sure mine is, but his eyes are bright and he doesn't act like he even notices the injury. I bet this is all just a part of a day's work for him. But what surprises me even more than Dean's nonchalance is Sam. He seemed okay, but I can't help but feel that he's putting on an act. No one could be okay after what he must have gone through. Just the short time Dean and I were with the demon was hell. I can't imagine the hours Sam was trapped with it. I wonder if maybe I should bring up my concern with Dean. I'm sure he's worried about him, too, judging from the way he frowned with concern while he talked to Sam on the phone, asked him what was wrong.
"Alright," Dean says suddenly, moving from his spot and approaching my bed, "Move over."
"What?" I protest, knowing that my current spot is one of the few that is actually comfortable on this crappy mattress.
"Come on, let me sit down." Dean continues, sitting next to me and nudging me over.
I wrinkle my nose at him, "Eww, you need a shower."
"Hey, you're no bed of roses yourself." Dean replies and I realize that he's right. I'm still wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Dean continues, raising an eyebrow, "I wouldn't mind sharing a shower, though."
I can't help but blush at his blatant suggestion, but I also can't deny that I actually wouldn't mind. I mean, even dirty and smelly, he's cute as hell. Dean chuckles and I wonder in a flash of horror if he knows what I'm thinking. I decide quickly to change the subject and hopefully distract him from any other embarrassing insights.
"So, Sam and I were thinking about maybe crashing here for a few days. Sound good to you?" I ask.
"Why not?" he shrugs, "Besides, I've got to make sure that story of yours is as flattering as possible."
I sit up a little straighter at the reminder of my whole reason for being here. Amazingly, I'd almost forgotten about that. I hadn't even taken my camera with me when we'd gone back for Sam. Rescuing him had just been more important and my story hadn't even crossed my mind. But now I should be working on that, not drooling over Dean. But damn is it easier to sit here and stare at him than work on my story. Dean Winchester must be the definition of the word distraction. Still, I'm a reporter and I do have a deadline approaching.
"About that, will you be my hero and get me my laptop?" I ask as sweetly as I can.
Dean heaves an extravagant sigh before getting back up, "Where is it?"
"My car." I say cheerfully, happy that I don't have to get up yet. I fish in my pockets and locate my keys, tossing them to Dean. While he's gone, my mind turns back to the events that have lead to this unlikely conclusion. Everything feels kind of different now somehow. Or maybe I'm different. It's hard to know, but I feel like maybe that close call has changed things in my life. With that thought in mind, I dig in my pocket again and this time I pull out my cell phone. I hit the speed dial for a number I haven't called in some time. The phone rings five times before the answering machine picks up. I don't know why I'm surprised since I haven't been on speaking terms with my mother for a long time now. That tends to happen when your mother disowns you. I wonder what it was exactly that pushed Mom over the edge. I know it all started after Dad died. Maybe it was when I decided to go away to school and to pay my own way by working as a bartender instead of asking Mom for help. What a disgrace I'd been to the family then. Or maybe it was when I graduated and told Mom I would be taking a job at Paranormal Monthly. Or maybe it was when we'd gotten in that huge fight and I'd accidentally said that I wished Mom had died instead of Dad. I hadn't meant it, not really. But it was said and I could never take it back. The beep of the answering machine startles me, "Oh…uh…hi, Mom. It's me, Lindy. I…uh…just wanted to say that, well, I'm okay. I…I hope that you're okay, too." I pause, wondering if I can make myself say something like 'I miss you' or 'I love you.' I can't seem to get either of those things out, so instead I say, "I guess that's it. Uh…bye."
The timing seems to work, too, since Deans walks in just as I'm saying bye and hanging up.
"Who's that?" he asks, plopping back down on the bed next to me and setting my computer on my lap.
"Nobody. Just left a message." I reply, setting the phone down on the nightstand next to Dean's weapons. I suddenly feel like I need a little distance so that I can clear my head a little bit. I slide out from under the covers and the laptop weighing me down, standing up, "I think I'll take a shower now."
"Your shower or mine?" Dean quips.
I don't reply because I honestly don't know what to say. I just don't feel like witty banter at this exact moment. The levity of what has happened has just started to really sink in so now I feel too serious and I'm too busy wondering what it would be like if someone had called my mom for me to say that I'd been found mysteriously dead in the middle of some ghost town. Would she even come to the funeral?
I jump when Dean appears in front of me, realizing that I've been staring at a spot on the ground. His hand on my arm is warm and comforting and when I look up at him, his eyes hold real concern. Funny that a guy I met in a bar a couple of days ago seems to care about me more than my own family.
"Tell me what's wrong." he says.
I shake my head. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to have some kind of stupid emotional talk where I end up crying and he ends up trying to reassure me while feeling extremely awkward. None of that will change anything or make me feel any better. No, what I want is to get over it and move on to better things. And who better to help me than Mr. Distraction himself?
So, I reach up and fist my hands in the collar of his shirt, pulling him down towards me. Dean looks a little confused, but he definitely doesn't fight me when I press my lips against his. In fact, it only takes a second for him to respond and deepen the kiss, mercifully forcing all coherent thoughts from my brain. Slowly, we pull apart.
"Wow." escapes my lips.
Dean grins, "Thanks."
I think briefly about what to do now, but only one thing seems very appealing. Besides, my hands are still fisted in his shirt, giving me the leverage to pull him back to me again. So, I do, possibly the best idea I've ever had.
"Don't you have a story to write?" Dean asks around kisses.
"Mmm…this is better." I admit.
"And your shower?"
"But I thought I smelled?"
I pause to glare at him, "Don't you ever shut up?"
Dean just shrugs, looking entirely too pleased with himself. But I don't care because with a face like that he could get away with murder in my book. And to top it all off, I'm suddenly feeling a little reckless because we could've died last night, but we didn't. That's a heady sensation and it makes my silly embarrassment and hesitation about Dean seem absolutely ridiculous. It makes me want to just forget it all and do what I've been thinking about doing since I spotted this 'hot hillbilly' in the bar.
I press another kiss against Dean's mouth, my hands lifting to his face. As I pull away, I back slowly towards my shitty mattress, my hands lingering on Dean's face until he's at arm's length, silently asking him to follow me. But I freeze at the look on Dean's face. He looks physically pained.
"Oh, god, Lindy." he groans, "You have no idea how much I want to continue this…"
"But." I supply, frowning.
"But," he agrees, "I'm leaving in a couple days. Now normally that wouldn't stop me, but…well, I like you and…"
I let myself flop down on the edge of my bed, crossing my arms across my chest, "And you don't want to love and leave a nice girl like me."
"Something like that." he nods.
I shake my head, laughing to myself at the stupid irony of it all. I glance up at Dean, "Well, Dean, how incredibly girly of you." Dean does a double take at that comment. Now, I laugh at him as I get up and push past him, "Guess I'll go take that shower now."
I'm disappointed, what can I say, but I feel a little better about everything when I hear Dean cursing himself under his breath before I close the bathroom door. I suppose I should be happy that he actually cares about my feelings. And I guess in the long run, I'll be glad of that, but still. How many guys that hot can I actually expect to come across in my line of work? And how many of those theoretical hot guys might I actually fall for? Because it's more than just physical attraction. I wouldn't have stuck around through all this if it was just that. I really care about Dean. I almost want to just drop everything and follow him wherever he goes. I mean, I report on what he hunts after all. It could work. I smirk at myself in the mirror. At least until he files a restraining order.
I carefully undress, trying not to aggravate my sore muscles. Being thrown into walls is just not good for a person. I'm just about to turn on the water and step into the shower when Dean's voice reaches me through the near paper-thin walls of this five-star establishment.
"Hey, Dad. Just wanted to let you know that Sammy's okay. Wish you would have called me back, though. Well, call me if you can. Anytime, okay? It'd be nice to know you're okay. Well, bye."
I feel bad for eavesdropping, but my reporter instincts start drawing conclusions from the conversation almost automatically. Here I am feeling sorry for myself because my mom won't answer my calls, Sam and Dean's Dad never even called them back when Dean told him that Sam was in trouble. What's going on there? Something big is up with these guys that they're not telling me. Maybe they still don't trust me or maybe they're trying to protect me or something. Either way, I still want to know what it is. If Sam and Dean are in trouble, I want to know what it is 'cause frankly I'm already pretty damned attached to them. I guess near-death experiences with demons will do that. But how to ask them about this?
I turn the water on and step into the shower, mind still buzzing. Here I'd thought this was all over, but maybe this was just a stop along the journey to something bigger for the Winchesters. Maybe that's why Dean's so against getting involved, why he thinks he has to leave me. I already don't like whatever this possible thing is.
I take a quick shower because my mind is too preoccupied to enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, now that I'm clean, I don't particularly want to put my dirty, sweaty clothes from yesterday back on. And I also don't really want to walk out there in a towel with Dean around, not after what just happened and the decision he's just made about us. Should I just ask him to get me some clothes? Let a boy pick my outfit, probably a bad idea. Man, this is really frustrating my plan to interrogate Dean about what he's not telling me.
The sound of a door closing alerts me to Sam's return, so I pause in my mental quest to find a way to get my clothes.
"Here's the stuff you wanted." Sam announces.
"Thanks, Sam." Dean says, "Now why don't you tell me what the hell's the matter."
Any ideas I might have had about not listening in to the rest of this conversation vanish.
"What are you talking about?"
"Something's up with you. Is it about that demon?"
"Dean, just leave me alone, okay?"
"No way, Sam. You've been dodging me about this since that thing with Bloody Mary. I know this is about how you feel responsible for Mom and Jessica's deaths. I also know that you're an idiot for thinking that, but apparently you're dumber than I thought."
"I don't want to talk about this."
"I don't care, Sam. You barely sleep and you barely eat as it is. If this demon has made you worse…"
"Dean!" Sam yells, making me take a step back from where I'm leaning against the door in surprise, "Stop."
"What do you want me to do, Sam? Sit by and watch this eat you alive? It wasn't your fault!" Dean snaps.
"How do you know?" Sam snaps back, "What do you know about it?"
"Well, why don't you tell me?"
"No! Leave me alone!"
"Damn it, Sammy…"
"Don't call me Sammy! I'm not a kid anymore, Dean!"
"Well, you're sure acting like one! Just tell me!"
There's silence for a minute that makes me itch with suspense. I wish I could see what's going on. Finally, Sam speaks again, but his voice is so quiet I almost can't hear him, "Dean, I can't. If I told you…well, that's just not an option for me right now, okay? I just need you to let this go."
"How can I let this go when you're letting it kill you?" Dean demands.
"It's not." Sam says and my gut screams at me that he's lying, "I'll be okay. I just…I need to focus on finding Dad and the demon."
"No, Dean. We can't talk about this anymore." Sam says with finality.
I hear Dean sigh in frustration, but he doesn't push it anymore. Maybe he's just biding his time, waiting for a better opportunity to call Sam on this. That's what I'd do. After an awkward moment of silence in which I wonder if I should do something, like remind them of my presence, Sam speaks.
"So, where's Lindy?" the mention of my name makes me think that I shouldn't magically appear. That would be too suspicious. They'd know I'm listening. So, I wait a little longer.
"Taking a shower." Dean replies.
"Oh." Sam says, "So, what are you going to do about her?"
Okay, I'd be crazy not to listen to this.
"What do you mean?" Dean says and I silently accuse him of hedging.
"I mean, you like her, right?"
Say yes, you're madly in love with me, I plead silently.
Dean sighs again, "Why don't you mind your own business, Sam?"
"Me? What about you butting in about Sarah the whole time we were there?"
"That was different. You needed to get laid. Still do, come to think of it."
"Yeah, well, you need to be in an actual relationship, Dean. With a nice girl who you don't have to lie to and you don't have to leave."
"Gee, thanks, Dr. Phil."
"I'm serious, Dean."
"What makes you think we don't have to leave her, Sammy? She's a reporter, not a hunter. She doesn't belong with us. It's too dangerous."
"She handled herself okay last night. Saved us, in fact."
Sam, you're an angel. I write a mental note to myself to hug Sam later.
"Sam, you know what I'm talking about. There's worse things out there that we have a habit of getting involved with."
"You think I don't know that? You think I don't know that whenever women get close to a Winchester, they end up dead?"
"Well, if you know that, then why the hell are you pushing this?"
"Because the track record has got to be broken. I want to believe that we can change that and that none of us have to be alone our whole lives. Is that what you want, Dean? Just you, me and Dad until we die?" Sam sounds in earnest, like he desperately needs Dean to prove to him that something else is possible.
"I'd be happy if I could trust that I'll have that much." Dean replies bitterly, "No, this is not a discussion I'm having."
"Besides, I don't think it's you the demon…" Sam begins.
"Hey! Don't you dare push me about this after you refused to talk to me about your problems. Until that demon is dust, the whole relationships and normal life stuff is not an option for me."
So that's it. I back up and sit down on the toilet seat. Dean's afraid to let anyone get to close because of what happened to his mom and whoever this Jessica girl is (I'm guessing someone Sam was pretty close to). I realize that the demon figure with the glowing eyes must be the demon that killed Dean's mom and that what it made us think happened to Sam must have been what happened to her. I remember being dragged across the ceiling, knowing what the demon had just done to Sam and I have to admit that I'm afraid of that. And yet, despite that fear, I still have feelings for Dean that won't be ignored. I was afraid of that fear demon last night, too, but I didn't leave him and everything turned out okay.
I can't sit in here any longer. So, I get up and unlock the door, peeking my head around it just a little bit, "Hey, guys? Can I have some clothes please?"
Both boys seem surprised by my voice, like they had forgotten I'm so close by. Then, they both start looking around for my clothes. I reach my hand out and gesture at my bag on the floor. Sam's closest, so he grabs it and hands it to me.
"Thanks." I say before quickly pulling the bag in and closing the door again.
I dress and brush my teeth and my hair before I make my appearance in the room. Sam and Dean have been fairly silent the whole time I've been doing this. When I emerge from the bathroom, I notice Sam has retreated through the adjoining door to their room and that Dean is missing. I gingerly approach Sam, afraid to do or say something stupid that will upset him.
"You're tea's on top of the TV and there's some bagels." Sam says.
"Thanks." I say, but I don't make a move to get them. Instead, I stand awkwardly near Sam, trying to think of something to say. He looks up at me questioningly, so I just spill my guts, "Sam, you guys only just met me and I know we went through this crazy stuff together and all, but…why do you like me?"
Sam smiles a little bit at my outburst, looking the most at ease I've seen him since before we entered Fort Tucker. He shrugs a little, "You like my brother enough to get strangled. And you let me drive your car. Oh, and you bought us a couple of meals yesterday. Plus, you saved my life."
"So, do you trust me?"
He's still smiling, which I take to be a good sign, "Yeah, I trust you, Lindy."
"And do you..." I lower my voice because I know how easy it is to hear through the bathroom walls, "do you think Dean and I might actually work?"
"He's an idiot, but if he were to ever be serious about a girl…well, I think you make more sense than anyone and I know he likes you."
I can't stop myself from hugging him. Besides, I owed him one from earlier.
"Thanks, Sam." I tell him.
I want to say that I don't believe he's responsible for anyone's deaths. I want to tell him that he's too great a guy for that to be true, but I feel that it's not my place, so I keep it to myself.
"I'm gone for five minutes and you try to steal my girl?"
I immediately release Sam from the hug and turn to see Dean standing in the doorway of the bathroom in clean clothes with damp hair. He's acting like nothing's happened, like everything's normal. I decide to play along with that since it's more pleasant anyway.
"Well, Sam is pretty cute…" I tease, putting on a thoughtful look.
"But absolutely no fun." Dean finishes for me.
He strides over and plants a quick kiss on my lips before moving to grab coffee and a bagel. I almost sigh at how relaxed and familiar that kiss felt. I could almost pretend we're a girlfriend and boyfriend or something. But definitions are too troublesome, so I just let it be what it is.
The next couple days go by in a bit of a blur. All of us play at everything being fine, none of us letting things get too serious. An unspoken agreement seems to hang between the three of us not to call any of the others on it, so we don't. I finish writing my article, finally, after only getting sidetracked a few times. One of which being when Dean caught me writing some extracurricular stuff. I was typing away and the clicking of the keys filled my ears, making me oblivious to his stealthy approach. It wasn't until he was standing behind me, looking curiously over my shoulder, that he announced his presence.
"What you writing?"
I jumped and immediately closed my laptop to prevent him from reading any further, but I already felt like I'd been caught red-handed.
"Holy shit, Dean! Don't do that!"
"What was that?" Dean continued, ignoring my admonishment.
"Nothing." I lied, but it had to be obvious by the way I was avoiding the topic that it was something.
"I saw my name, Lindy. You promised you'd keep our names out of the article." Dean accused, eyes narrowing suspiciously at my nervous behavior.
"That wasn't my article." I told him, blinking a few times in surprise at the accusation.
"Then, what was it?" Dean asked, clearly expecting a bullshit answer.
I looked down, a faint redness coming to my cheeks, "A story."
Dean opened his mouth to undoubtedly resume his accusations, but I forged onward, expecting this, "Not that kind of story. Like a story."
"What are you talking about?" Dean asked, frowning in confusion.
I continued to stare down at the comforter, picking at a loose thread, "I wrote a story about you and Sam from the Impala's point of view."
"Nevermind!" I snapped, immediately defensive, "It wasn't my article, that's all that matters."
Deans waited a few beats before broaching the silence, carefully venturing back to the topic, "Can I read it?"
A large mischievous grin slowly spread across his face. That grin worried me, so of course I immediately denied the request, "No way!"
"Ah, come on. It's my car. I know her better than anybody. Let me read it."
He'd pouted and complained until I'd finally given in, which had been an entirely bad move on my part. Now, even days later, there was no living down the fact that I'd indulged in a little drabble about how the car might feel about hauling two hot guys around, one of whom is obsessed about it. At least my article didn't meet with such mockery. Sam and Dean both seemed to approve of it, and I did leave their identities completely out of it, just like I'd promised. So, I e-mailed a copy to my boss and he replied very favorably. He thought it was excellent, just what the magazine needed. I was even getting another assignment. Which meant it was time to say goodbye because Sam and Dean had an assignment of their own that was taking them elsewhere.
"You know, I could probably tag along with you guys instead. I'm sure my boss would still be happy." I point out to Dean as we stand by the cars.
Dean shakes his head, smiling sadly.
"Much as I'd love to keep you along, I think it's probably a good idea for you to take your story and let us handle this."
"Is it about the demon?" I ask, the first I've said about the demon that I know they're after.
Dean looks surprised, "Yeah. I think it is. Hey, how did…?"
"I'm a serial eavesdropper." I confess with a guilty smile, hoping he won't hold it against me, "I've tried to quit, but I keep falling off the wagon."
"So, you're a reporter, a rookie demon fighter, and a spy." Dean remarks, "I should marry you."
"Now, Dean. That would require commitment." I point out, keeping my tone teasing. Dean nods, his smile a little sadder now. I'm not mad or anything. I get that he's got this important job to do that is too dangerous for him to let me in right now. I understand, really I do. But that doesn't mean I don't wish things could be different. Maybe someday things will be, "Look me up when all that's over?"
"Definitely." Dean agrees, "Hey, let me give you my number in case…I don't know, in case you need anything."
I pull out my phone and program in the number that Dean dictates to me. I can almost feel our time drawing to a close. Sam's coming out of the room with the last of their stuff, loading it in their car. I feel like I need to say something quickly to make sure that Dean knows how I feel about him, but I'm not sure what to say. I don't want to be all girly and stupid about this.
"Oh!" Dean says suddenly, moving towards Sam and taking one of the bags from his hands. He opens it as he returns to me, "I noticed you put these in my bag."
He pulls out the two daggers and the gun he'd lent to me and the next thing I know, he's putting them in my hands.
"I want you to keep these." he says, "You might need them."
"But…" I start to protest.
"Hey, I didn't spend all that time teaching you to use them just so you can get rusty again." he says.
I shake my head, not sure what to say, but I put the weapons in my car. I'll have to find a place to hide them, just in case I get pulled over or something, but I have to admit that I do feel a little better about having them. Just in case I run into something real. As soon as my hands are free again, I turn back to Dean.
"Dean, I…" I try to begin.
He cuts me off by pulling me into a kiss. I let him because I still don't really know what to say and he's a really good kisser.
"I don't really do goodbyes." he says when he pulls away from me.
"Well, just be careful, then. You'd better answer when I call you." I threaten, feeling slightly sick inside at the idea of something happening to him.
"I never miss a call from a pretty girl." Dean promises, grin back in place.
I just stare at him, silently praying to whatever higher powers there may be to look out for him and his family. Sam clears his throat pointedly, causing Dean to glance his way.
"Well, I have to go." he says.
"Yeah." I nod.
"Take care of yourself."
He starts backing away, moving around his car to the driver's side. I think about running after him, maybe just to kiss him one more time, but I don't. That's not the kind of goodbye I want. I want him to remember me as the cool, strong girl that can handle being with him and being without him. So, I just wave, at him and at Sam. Sam waves back.
"Bye, Lindy." he says, as he climbs in the passenger seat.
"Bye, Sam." I reply.
I let my hand fall back to my side and just stand and watch as Dean gets in and starts the engine. I can hear the boys talking as he backs the car out.
"Dude, did you just give her your phone number?"
"Yeah, so what?"
"Nothing. It's just…I've never seen you give a girl your phone number before."
"Shut up, Sam."
"You must really like her."
"Hope you do, too, 'cause I gave her your gun."
The rest of the discussion is lost to classic rock guitars and the roar of Dean's engine. I smile to myself. It's not a happy ending. Not for any of us. But it'll do for now.