Okay, so I'm back. I was feeling uninspired and a little melancholy, but when you're a poor college student you have a lot of time on your hands to think when you should be working on papers. I still have no idea where I'm going with this right now, but that pretty much reflects my entire life. See? I told you I have the winter blues.

Anyway, this is a continuation of "The Long Way Around" because I couldn't think of anything new to write. If you haven't read the story, you might want to because plotlines and characters refer back to it a lot. I hope it doesn't seem stale or recycled, because after this I'm going to be going back with a story about Dean's accident and the days following and then a series of vignettes revolving around his recovery, transition to life in Lawrence and his relationship with Natalie. Don't ask me why I'm starting with the sequel instead of the beginning, I have no idea. I was in a whimsical mood and the middle is usually where I jump into my messes anyway, all smiles and headfirst.

So without further delay, I give you the first chapter. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 1

Dean absolutely hated Midwest heat. It was the middle of September, but the air still clung heavily and it seemed that the only relief one could find was in a frosted mug of beer. He had actually considered stopping at Patty's to sit down at the counter with one, but he was needed somewhere else. Besides, he didn't want a lot of people knowing he was in town.

With a mournful glance at the little diner, he drove away from Main Street and headed in the direction of the hospital. He knew the way well. He'd spent a month there after being transferred from St. Louis and another handful of months in and out for physical therapy and appointments.

He pulled into the parking lot and glared at the spiteful building. If he'd had his way it would've been salted, burned, and condemned to hell as soon as he cleared its doors for good, but he didn't need arson added to his record and spouting Latin in front of its sliding doors would've earned him a trip back inside to the psych ward.

Sighing heavily, Dean killed the engine and sat back to look at his reflection in the rearview mirror. He was thirty-four now, but looked little older than the twenty-eight year old he'd been when he'd first come home. Crow's feet around his eyes were more prominent now but that was probably due more to lack of sleep than age. But other than that, he had aged little. Actually, with his summer tan and the dusting of darkened freckles giving him a boyish appearance, he looked better than his pale and broken twenty-eight year old self.

Giving his hair a reckless swipe, he opened the car door and slid out, grimacing as he bent his left leg from under the wheel. The rest of his body groaned in protest from being in the same position for so long and once standing he shed his outer shirt and threw it back on the seat.

Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he trudged against the sizzling pavement to the hospital entrance. He shuddered involuntarily against the soothing effects of the air conditioning as soon a got inside the doors and wondered what might happen to him if he just lay down on the tiled floor spread-eagled. He looked around and was met with a sympathetic smile from the girl at the desk.

"This heat wave we're having is supposed to last at least for another week," she said as he gave her a grin and sauntered over. "You here for an appointment?"

"Huh? Uh, no," he sputtered looking down at his leg. "Old…football injury. Can you tell me where Sam Winchester's room is?"

Looking nonplussed at her mistake, the girl looked down at a list and said, "213," without looking up.

Frowning, and feeling slightly self conscious now, he murmured his thanks and turned away without so mush as asking for her number, but brightened when he saw a familiar figure at the coffee dispenser.

"Missouri!" he called.

She spun around and broke into a smile and waited for him to walk over. He took the two steaming cups of coffee, set them down and threw an arm around her and kissed her forehead in a rare act of affection he reserved only for her. She returned the hug just and fiercely and then pulled back and began examining him. "Dean, baby, you look like hell!" She touched his stubbled cheek and tsked before continuing her tirade. "And when was the last time you touched a razor? Good Lord, three years away from me and you turn back into John Winchester's spawn. Cheeks like sandpaper. Never get any loving if you scrape the skin off the girl's cheek."

"I'm fine," Dean interrupted, but the fondness in his eyes for the woman he considered his surrogate mother betrayed the gruffness in his voice.

"Well, she sighed handing him the cups. "Might as well make yourself useful."

He took them and began sipping out of one and she slapped the back of his head. Boy, those are for your daddy and brother. Get your own."

He shrugged and Missouri sighed again in exasperation.

oooooooOOOOooooooo

Missouri left Dean at Sam's door while she went to look for John in the cafeteria. The moment Dean stepped into the room and saw his brother's leg casted and elevated, a huge grin split his face.

"Shut up, you jerk," Sammy groused.

"That's what you get for tossing me out a window," Dean said matter of factly. "Karma's a bitch, Sammy. And it comes around."

He took another sip from his brother's coffee and then handed it to him. Sam glared at him. "You drive all the way from Shrevesport in less than… thirteen hours to bust my ass?"

"I drove all the way from Shrevesport in less than thirteen hours because Dad left me a voice message saying you'd been hurt," Dean replied indignantly. "It wasn't until I'd been on the road for six hours before I got a hold of him again and he told me all you had was a lousy broken leg. It's almost ten in the morning and I haven't had breakfast yet."

"And coffee apparently," Sam noted watching him start sucking on their dad's cup of joe. "It's good to see you man."

Dean smiled and clapped his shoulder. "Been to long. I was still in Biloxi the last time we saw each other. That was six months ago."

"Maybe you should just come back here every once in awhile," Sam hinted, punching him good naturedly in the stomach. "Then Dad and I wouldn't have to drag our asses to whatever swamp or bayou you're squatting in."

"Well, you got me here now and I expect that beer you promised if I ever came through," Dean said pointing a finger at him. "When do you spring this joint?"

"Later today. They kept me overnight because of the concussion."

"Dean."

He turned around and grinned. "Dad."

John Winchester put on an identical grin and gave him a hearty slap on the back. "Hey son."

Dean held out his coffee and John took it and frowned and rolled his eyes at the half drank beverage. "You look like hell," he stated. "Go back to Missouri's and sleep it off."

"I only look like hell because of misinforming phone calls."

"Sorry."

"I'll go back to the house with you," Missouri piped up from John's side. "I've already spent enough time here before."

"Amen," Dean agreed. "I'll see you guys later."

"Later," John and Sam said in unison.

oooooooOOOOooooooo

"What happened anyway?" Dean asked pulling onto Missouri's street. They were out in the woods next to the cemetery hunting some spirit. Threw Sam against the tree and snapped his leg clean in two."

"Could've been worse I suppose."

"Mmm. Good thing your Daddy was there." She glanced at Dean. "That's why you should never hunt alone."

Dean kept his eyes on the road and tapped his fingers in time to the music coming from the tape deck.

"Dean."

"I hung up my salt gun a long ago you know that."

"Don't b.s. me boy," Missouri snapped.

Dean sighed as he pulled into her drive. "I can't just ignore what I see going on around me," said setting the emergency brake and yanking the keys out of the ignition.

"Dean, you cannot be hunting alone," Missouri insisted following him out of the car and to the trunk. "It's not safe-"

"It's never safe, even with someone watching my back," he answered grabbing his bag from amidst the weapons. Someone had always gotten hurt on a hunt and I don't remember Dad and Sammy having a pillow for me to land on when I fell three stories. Besides, we've all hunted alone before."

"Because you're a family of idiots," Missouri countered. She put a hand on his arm. "And you didn't have a handicap. Whether you like it or not that leg is a liability. You need someone."

"Yeah, well, the Winchesters haven't been welcome in the hunters' circle for a long time." Dean smiled cockily. "I'm wanted on both sides of the law."

"Dean, this isn't funny."

"Can we please just save this for another time?" he begged slamming the trunk lid down. "I'm tired."

Missouri crossed her arms and looked away. "Fine."

Dean smiled at her and offered his arm in peace. She rolled her eyes and took it and they started through the yard arm in arm. He stopped halfway though and just looked at the house. No one passing by could ever imagine that just three years ago it had been nearly destroyed. Everything looked calm and peaceful and the way he had remembered it before and he was glad. In many ways, this house had been more of a home than the won his family had lived in across town, and it was nice to know it was still there even though he hadn't returned since leaving.

"You okay?" Missouri asked concerned.

"Yeah, jus tired," he said still looking at the house.

Missouri smiled and tugged on him. "Let's go in."

I know it's not very long for a first chapter, but reviews are love.