The next morning, Jaime slid out from under Sam's arm causing him to mutter and roll over in his sleep, before she slipped on her dressing gown and padded silently down the stairs. Thankfully, her uncle Scott had had a business meeting out of town the night before and having had too much to drink had stayed over in a hotel for the night, meaning he had no idea of the drama that had unfolded in his absence, saving Jaime from lying to him. Right now, she wasn't sure she was in any fit state to come up with an adequate lie, or even pretend to him that everything was fine.
Pushing open the kitchen door, Jaime blinked in surprise at the sight of Dean sitting freshly showered and wide awake at the table. He smiled at her knowingly as she entered, and she scowled as she headed towards the coffeepot.
"Y'know, if you keep looking this smug all the time, you're going to get wrinkles."
He laughed, getting up so he could put some waffles into the toaster for her, and reaching across easily for his own mug of java.
"So, how are you feeling this morning? I see you have a nice shiner there."
Jaime gingerly pressed the large, swollen bruise on her left cheekbone and winced.
"Oh yeah. You'd never believe I was a beauty contest finalist, huh?" She shook her head and through Dean a half smile as she slid into one of the counter chairs.
"Jim told me he rigged the contest, you know. I always knew I couldn't win on my own."
Dean shrugged, looking nonplussed.
"Who cares? There's nothing hotter than a woman who knows how to fight." He took a sip of his coffee, and added almost as an afterthought. "And looks as good as you do in skin-tight jeans."
Jaime laughed, grabbing the waffles from the toaster as they popped and licking her fingers afterwards, savouring the sweet taste. Perching on her chair once more, she pushed some of the waffles onto Dean's plate before she poured syrup on her own and started to eat. After a while, she looked up to see Dean watching her, and slowly she lowered her fork, looking bemused.
His eyes gazed into her own.
"So, now that the monster is dead, are you still who you thought you were?"
Jaime paused then sighed, wiping at her mouth with a napkin before wrapping her suddenly cold fingers around her coffee mug.
"I think it's too soon to tell. I guess I feel less aimless than I expected, and more relieved, but I have so much free time now, and no purpose. So where do I go from here?" She sighed. "And what with the Sam thing. . ."
Dean quirked an amused eyebrow.
"The 'Sam thing'?"
Jaime hunched her shoulders and looked darkly thoughtful.
"Well, it's not going to work, is it? Not when you two have your own monster to fight."
She smiled at him then reached out a hand to cover his on the tabletop.
"Thanks for agreeing to help me, Dean."
The smile slowly faded from his face and his eyes grew serious but before he could speak, a sleep-tousled Sam entered the room, kissing the top of Jaime's head before falling into a seat and nabbing one of her waffles.
Jaime swatted at him playfully, the tension of the last few minutes forgotten as he smiled at her, his eyes dark with sleep.
Rising to grab him some juice, Jaime squeezed Sam's shoulder tenderly as a sad sense of foreboding filled her. She'd always known they would have to leave, of course, and she'd been well aware of that when she'd allowed herself to fall for Sam. Or, at least, to admit she'd fallen for him. But now the moment was here, she didn't want to let him go. It seemed somehow unfair to finally end one era of her life, only to have the possibility of a new, positive one taken away from her. Squaring her shoulders and trying not to let the grief overwhelm her, Jaime placed the juice before Sam before leaning against the kitchen counter.
"So, what's the plan, boys? I imagine you'll have to be leaving soon."
Sam's eyes darkened and he looked to Dean, that small gesture making Jaime's heart ache even more. Even when she knew he wanted to stay more than anything, he looked to Dean for approval.
Dean pushed his plate away and swallowed his mouthful of waffle ad coffee, before leaning back in his chair, looking relaxed.
"Actually, I got a hold of dad this morning, and he mentioned that he wanted us to collect some information from an old friend of his. He's on the other side of the country, so I'm looking at a long drive here; maybe a week altogether with plenty of stops to check out the local scene." He grinned wickedly, and Jaime couldn't help but smile at his cheek.
"And I was thinking that since this is just a boring mission for information, no hunting, well, why don't I just go whilst you stay here, Sam?"
At his brother's shocked looked, Dean smiled.
"I could take it easy, maybe make a mini vacation out of the travel; stretch it out to two weeks, whilst you stay here. With Jaime."
Jaime's heart beat faster and she tried desperately to keep the naked hope and want from her face. She knew that eventually Sam would have to leave, of course, knowing exactly what it was like to be driven by a need of revenge and a sense of responsibility.
Sam gazed at the tabletop with dark, troubled eyes before glancing quickly at Jaime and then turning his eyes to Dean.
"You're sure this trip is all business; no hunting?"
Dean stretched, looking relaxed.
"Nothing but dull information gathering, and plenty of late-night fun."
A slow smile began to creep across Sam's face until he was beaming openly, the honest smile making him look young and boyish.
"Well, ok then."
Jaime beamed, leaning down around his shoulders to hug him tightly and taking the chance to whisper softly into his ear. "I promise you won't regret it."
Straightening, Jaime looked to Dean.
"When do you intend to head out?"
He stood with a small stretch and a cocky tilt of the head.
"Why? Eager to be rid of me?"
At Jaime's genuinely shocked expression, he laughed.
"I'm just playing, J. I do, in fact, intend to leave this morning. I just need to finish loading the car, and then I'm done."
Knowing that the brothers would need to discuss a few things in private, Jaime nodded, offering her assistance in anyway, before excusing herself. She waited in the living room, her heart feeling light in her chest, until she heard movement in the hall and padded out to see Dean loading up the Impala.
Stepping out into the California sunshine, Jaime watched Dean silently, a thoughtful look on her face. Once he'd finished lifting the last bag into the trunk, Dean turned to her with a lazy smile.
"I guess you finished sorting things out with Sam, right?"
He nodded. "He's a little anxious at us being separated, but I can tell how happy he is to have the chance to stay. To vacation, and get to know you better."
Jaime nodded and looked away, staring out at the pale blue sky for a moment before turning back to Dean with a small sigh.
"I don't know what to say, Dean, other than 'thank you'".
He smiled, shrugging his shoulders gracefully.
Jaime shook her head, stepping closer to him and looking into his eyes honestly.
"It doesn't feel like it. If you hadn't agreed to help me, I probably wouldn't have survived this particular hunt, and if it wasn't for you whooping my ass, I wouldn't have given things a shot with Sam."
"Well, don't thank me too much for the latter; I'm still a little sore I was second best."
Jaime chuckled and punched him on the arm gently.
"Hey, you had your chance!"
"That I did."
They looked at each other as time stretched onwards and then Jaime stepped forwards and enveloped him in a close hug.
"When you come back in two weeks to collect Sam, it won't just be him I miss when you both leave."
Dean gave her a tender squeeze before letting her go and smiling into your eyes.
"Remember that night on the road, when I said you'd never be alone? I meant it, Jaime. We're only ever a phonecall away." He shrugged. "Ok, and probably an epic drive, too, but you know what I mean."
"That I do, yes."
Dean opened the Impala door and slid into the driver's seat. Jaime closed the door for him and smiled down into his eyes as he rested his elbow our the window and gazed up at her.
"And once you start hunting again, maybe you can repay the favour."
Jaime laughed. "Oh, so you know I'll get back into the business?" Her voice was light with irony.
He nodded, giving her that now familiar cocky grin.
"Jaime, I've seen you fight. I know you. You'll be back slaughtering nasties in no time,"
She laughed, leaning down to kiss his cheek before remembering something from last night, and reaching into her robe's pocket.
"I've been meaning to give this to you." She handed him the amulet they'd found back at Jim's house the night before. "Get your information guy to check it out, ok? It might be useful for future hunts."
He nodded, slipping the amulet into the glove-box easily.
"Now, get out of here, you! I'll see you in two weeks." Jaime grinned and tapped the side of the Impala lightly with an open palm.
Smiling, Dean put the car into reverse to back out, before pulling away from the house with a small spray of gravel. He called out of the window as he drove off.
"Say bye to Sammy for me!"
And then he was gone.
Jaime wrapped her arms around herself, a small smile on her face as she breathed in the crisp morning air, slightly salty from the sea breeze travelling inwards. Then she turned back to the house, her footsteps light.
He might have to leave her life in two weeks, possibly for good, but Jaime had been given the chance to prove to Sam that there was something worthwhile to come back to; something worth living for once his own monster was dead, once his own battle was over.
And Jaime had every intention of taking full advantage of that.