A/N: Thank you all for reading Fated. You're reviews were a treat and I'm glad you enjoyed.
So much for my happy ending, huh? Haha. You didn't think I'd leave you like that did you!? Shame, shame!
Be warned, this epilogue was written merely to incite a specific response from you. And is purely a bridge to get you all to Within Temptation. Meaning it was designed not to satisfy completely but to trigger. There will be a question you all will ask, that will be answered in the sequel so you will just have to read it to find out. I really did my research. It is completely possible, though not known to the public in general. The sequel is called Within Temptation. Thank you once again for reading.
So without further ado…
Dean played with the black beads on his wrist absently, as he watched a pink clad weather announcer prance around the screen of the TV set in front of him without actually seeing the television. His thoughts were repeating that night at the warehouse. Waking up to find Ariel barely breathing as the snake's venom worked its way through her system. They had stuffed her into the car, knowing very well that she would never make it to the hospital alive. When her laboured breathing ceased Brooke had started banging on her sister's chest with an intensity that screamed the desperation tearing into her heart. When they finally arrived at the hospital Dean had scooped Ariel's lifeless body into his arms and raced inside with Sam and Brooke. The pair were so hot on his tail that if he had paused for an instant they would have caused a pile up. The doctors had started working on Ariel immediately. Shocking her body with one electrically charged pulse after another, forcing air into her lungs through a small plastic bag that a nurse squeezed relentlessly as the doctor administered a small vile of anti-venom that she had taken far too long to retrieve. That moment still burned his eyes. He had stood there watching the scene from the hallway through the wired glass windows, completely helpless; in transfixed horror, hoping with his entire heart and soul that the line monitoring Ariel's pulse would move. The blaring sound of a flat line echoed in his mind until the shrilling sound was all he could hear.
Dean swallowed hard and before shaking his head, tearing his thoughts away from the vision of Ariel's lifeless body as he looked away from the television he had been watching without seeing it. "Yeah?"
"Thanks Sammy." Dean accepted the small white Styrofoam cup discarding the lid and drinking headily. After signing the small guest registrar manifest, Dean gave the checkout clerk a half smile and followed his brother out of the motel's front desk and into the parking lot, drinking his coffee as though it had been days, rather than hours, since he had had a cup.
Sam lagged his pace considerably as he looked over his shoulder, studying his brother's expression before he questioned, "How's Brooke?"
"Packing her car… Again." Dean shook his head somewhat disjointed. Brooke had packed and repacked her car three times this morning since getting back from the hospital. "Given the situation, she's okay."
"How are you doing?"
Dean wasn't even faintly fazed by his brother's question. The way Sam had been tiptoeing around him, he was surprised Sam hadn't asked sooner. Not that his answer would be different regardless of the circumstances. After taking another sip of the dark java in his cup, he set his jaw, forming his poker face and answered evenly. "I'm fine."
"Right." Sam's voice was ridden with sarcasm, but he continued walking around the bend in the parking lot. He knew in his gut Dean wasn't going to talk about it so there was little point in pushing his brother.
Dean glared at Sam as he drained the last drops of his coffee from the cup. Watching Brooke's mustang come into view as he followed Sam, Dean muttered sternly, "Drop it, okay?"
"Drop what?" Brooke's voice was muffled as she called from inside the trunk of her car.
Sam purposely averted his eyes from Dean, knowing the pissed expression his brother was directing towards him. Sam rounded the rear of Brooke's mustang and outstretched his hand, holding a Styrofoam cup toward the red-haired woman shifting through the trunk's contents. "Coffee?"
Brooke surfaced in record time, smiling brightly as she took the white cup from Sam's hand and flipped the thin plastic lid off, inhaling the rich scent of Columbian before she thanked him. "Merci beacoup mon ami."
"Looks like you're all packed." Dean leaned against the navy car frame overlooking the bag crammed trunk. He laughed slightly when he realized that the impala had way more trunk space.
"I wish! Still got some more crap in the room. I need a bigger trunk." Brooke joked, trying to lighten the mood that despite their best efforts managed to stay heavy. Having never enjoyed goodbyes Brooke was grasping at any straw she could find to keep herself from hopping into her car and peeling out of the parking lot.
Dean ran his hand through his spiky hair as he stared at his boots. Crossing one over the other as he leaned further against the mustang, studying the bottom of the boot he had just lifted, trying to find a way to verbalise the thoughts jumbling around his foggy mind. "You know Brooke, I'm-"
"Don't Dean." Brooke placed her coffee cup on the roof of her car as she moved towards the golden haired brunette, memorizing his boot tread. Ignoring Dean's look of surprise Brooke wrapped her arms around him, hugging him briskly, before she whispered, "It was good to see you again."
Dean watched his reflection in Brooke's blue eyes as she released him, smiling. Without saying a word about it she had managed to lay his conscience to rest and let him know they were still friends. "Take care, alright?"
"For sure." Brooke gave Dean a Cheshire smile, the irony of Dean giving her words of caution was too amusing to ignore. When he returned her smile—as though he had read her mind—Brooke rolled her eyes dramatically as she swatted his denim clad shoulder, but the gleam in her eyes was as light as her tone. "Stay in touch, Dean."
"Will do." Dean nodded curtly before tossing his coffee cup aside and heading off towards his nearly empty motel room. He wanted to load up as quickly as possible. That antsy feeling he had after a job was completed was already itching him like crazy.
Brooke snickered quietly as her attention left Dean's hurried retreat and settled on Sam who had placed his coffee on the roof of her car and was leaning against the navy paint with his hands in his jean pockets. "Sam-"
"Brooke-" Sam started to speak at the exact moment Brooke had effectively cutting her off as he spoke. After a mutual pause the pair laughed unconscientiously before Sam pulled his hands free of his pockets and gestured for Brooke to continue.
Brooke couldn't help smiling as she spoke quickly, hoping her discontent didn't leak through her words. "It was certainly interesting meeting you, Sam."
"Likewise." Sam nodded as he sniggered softly. Interesting was the perfect word to describe this whole ordeal. But he was still sorry to see their time together end. Brooke had proven to be very interesting to be around. "Take care, Brooke."
"Stay safe, Sammy." Brooke whispered softly as she edged on her tiptoes to brush her lips across Sam's. His slight intake of breath let her know he had been surprised by her action. She was too, but instead of trying to justify herself she smiled brightly before turning back towards her disarrayed trunk.
Sam rushed down the dirt trodden pathway leading back to the parking lot from his motel room. He was eager to put the duffel bag weighing his shoulder down into the impala and though he'd never admit it he was looking forward to getting back on the road. Recent events had made him crave a nice normal supernatural creature to hunt. Rounding the corner of the paint-peeling motel his eyes fixed on the open doorway that lead into Brooke and Ariel's room. Standing just within view was the lithe form of a young woman he was already starting to miss.
"So, where to now Sammy?" Ariel asked evenly as she braced herself against the motel's doorframe. She was careful not to let too much of her weight rest against her left shoulder. Despite the pain that still radiated from her shoulder it was hardly as bothersome as her cracked ribs, courtesy of her sister's frantic attempts to keep her in the world of the living, after the snake's venom had successfully blocked a third of the receptors in her diaphragm. Asides from the dozen or so stitches that lined her temple and shoulder, her only visible injury was the navy arm sling that kept her from aggravating her dislocated shoulder blade while it healed. The fang marks on her hand had bruised just as deeply as the mark of Meretseger that still marred her skin. Not that any of that really mattered. At least she was alive to feel the pain.
"What's in Georgia?" Ariel asked curiously, somewhat saddened Sam and Dean would be heading so far south. Though she knew they had to part ways, she didn't relish the idea of being thousands of miles apart.
"We might have picked up the trail of a vampire." A vampire that was feasting on the city of Canton like it was a bag of potato chips, but Sam decided to leave that last part out of the conversation. Instead he watched Ariel absently rub her fingers over the healing bruises on her hand. He suspected Ariel would continue to repeat the stroking motion, assuring herself that the wounds were healing, for some time. Eyeing the raven-haired girl in front of him, concern littered his voice as he questioned, "What about you?"
"We're heading home; apparently I need some R&R." Ariel answered evenly. She was hardly thrilled at the notion, but once Brooke had a destination in mind it was easier to just go along with it then butt heads with her sister for a few hours and wind up going there anyway.
"Sounds like fun."
Ariel rolled her eyes noticeably, letting the sarcasm in her voice echo through her reply. "Yeah, loads."
Sam chuckled to himself quietly before his hazel eyes locked with her green ones. "Keep in touch?"
"Promise." Ariel nodded and crossed her heart with her free hand sincerely. The soft smile she was wearing fell the moment Dean entered her peripheral vision. He was carrying a large duffel bag over his left shoulder, as though it weighted as much a bag of marshmallows.
Sam turned to see what had caught Ariel's attention and quickly stifled a laugh when he realized his brother was standing silently behind him watching Ariel, like he hadn't seen her in weeks despite Ariel awakening from her venom induced coma the previous morning. Clearing his throat noticeably Sam resettled his duffel bag shoulder strap before gesturing to the dark canvas bag and returning his attention to Ariel. "I better put these in the car. Be safe, Ari."
"You too, Sam." Ariel nodded, keeping her focus on Sam and not the spiked sandy blonde behind him. Sam shifted his duffel bag just enough to hug Ariel tightly before releasing her and doing an about-face, taking his brother's duffel bag easily and hurrying towards the parking lot somewhat. Once Sam was a few feet from her and Dean, Ariel spoke quietly. "Hey."
"I hear you're off to Canton." Ariel offered sheepishly. An uncomfortable quiet had managed to set in-between them that was thick with everything she wanted to say but wouldn't.
Dean nodded in confirmation and added glibly, "Brooke said you girls are headed home."
"Uh-huh. That we are."
Dean ran his fingers through his hair searching for something he would allow himself to say. Unspoken words burned in his throat, but he discarded them as quickly as he discarded every thought he had of taking her into his arms and letting his lips do all his talking for him. Dean shook himself mentally, forcing his mind back on the feeble pleasantries that would be all he would allow himself. "So this is goodbye, huh?"
"Yeah, guess so." Ariel flashed a brief smile that was so tight it looked more like a grimace before she started chewing on her bottom lip; circumspectly noting Dean's discomfort was a nagging as her own.
Dean returned Ariel's almost nonexistent smile. He spoke hastily, deciding that his stomach felt uneasy the longer this awkward moment dragged on. "Take care of yourself Ari."
"You too, Dean." Ariel forced the words through her clenched throat. She had successfully managed to speak without letting the tempest of her emotions wear in her tone. Though keeping her voice and words casual had been a trying task, she hadn't anticipated she would be able to get through the goodbyes without reaching for Dean, despite every nuance of her body telling her to do just that.
Dean nodded nattily before shifting to head towards the parking lot and Ariel breathed a sigh of relief and disappointment as she averted her eyes, not wanting to watch Dean walk away. Knowing there were so many things left unsaid between them only added to the pain edging its way into her mind at the realization that she would likely not see him again for a very long time—if ever. Meeting Dean had been a fluke, one that likely wouldn't repeat itself given their separate hunting grounds. Fate was as inexorable as it was ill-humoured. Regardless of her feelings, any hope of a relationship with the hazel-eyed hunter was fated at best. But that knowledge didn't ease the sting of her unshed tears.
Ariel shut her eyes against the flood of emotions that made her want to run after Dean, wrap him in her arms and kiss him until his taste was imprinted in her tongue. Her eyes jumped open when she felt two warm callused palms cup her face as Dean's warm lips covered hers hungrily. Ariel had been so focused on not allowing herself to act on her feelings she hadn't noticed Dean hadn't actually walked away from her. The sweet taste of his mouth was so intoxicating she swayed into his embrace, gripping his shirt collar with her free hand as he tilted her face, allowing him to claim her mouth as thoroughly as he had taken her heart. How long they kissed she knew not. Time lost its meaning when he touched her. But when he finally lifted his head, Ariel's knees felt like Jell-O and her mind was as soppy as pudding. Her voice shook as violently as her hands when she released his collar reluctantly. "Be careful."
"Always." Dean smirked jokingly as he released Ariel unhurriedly; wishing things could be different, yet accepting that they would never change in the same breath. He watched the cloudy green of Ariel's eyes and cursed the woman he couldn't have and would always want for having such a hold on him.
This time Ariel watched as Dean turned and walked away. Her heart sunk in her chest when she licked her lips and tasted Dean, knowing that taste would haunt her sleepless nights like a ghost that could never be laid to rest.
It took all of Dean's strength not to look back at the raven-haired woman standing in the motel's doorway. He rushed down the path to the parking lot; crossing the mustang and yanking open the impala's car door, allowing him just enough time to get in before he slammed the sun-heated metal shut. Shooting Brooke a smile before he turned the key to the ignition, reviving the engine to life, Dean watched Ariel watch him in the rear view mirror. Once Sam was inside and his door was closed Dean put the car into gear, took one last long look at the rear view mirror and pulled out of the parking lot, turning back onto the main access road that would lead back to highway eleven. Looking at his brother, shaking his head as Dean laughed, "That was one hell of a job."