There's only one thing worse than realizing that those idiots who accosted you are something more important than FBI agents — and that's knowing that you knocked one out with your umbrella while he was trying to save you from stumbling into the dark.
Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine, but I'd make Dean wear his boots if they were. Always.
Rating: M ( Language, angst, adult situations and a spatula )
Spoilers: Technically, this takes place after "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" but there are references to things mentioned in later episodes. I'd say up to "Born Under a Bad Sign" to be safe.
Miscellaneous: This is the sequel to Gobsmacked.
Betas: My lovely brain twin, wenchpixie, once again lent this piece a sprinkling of pixie dust and it is much better for it — even though, alas, it will never be considered a ficlet. ysbail provided feedback regarding scenes which would help move the story, as well as forcing me to add some oomph to the Hillsworth boys. miconic was here in spirit, for I remembered the admonitions against commas. Everything that rocks in this piece is because of them. The mistakes? Those are all me.
They were not FBI agents.
Her first guess had been garden variety assholes – especially when the idiot in the leather jacket opened his mouth. You do know you shouldn't be walking around by yourself, don't you? Girls are getting killed! It was a perfect segue into the moves , setting her up as a damsel in distress so said idiot could swoop in and rescue her.
She might have let the whole thing go if the idiot hadn't looked so smug, like he was doing her a personal favor by showing up. Penny knew it was dangerous to be out by herself. Her study partners had left while she was still finishing up her part of the lab summary. Unless she wanted to spend the night in the lab, her only other option was to go home alone.
The idiot could have saved himself from one hell of a headache if he had just backed down after she told him to leave. Penny panicked when he didn't, a cold burning in her stomach which she used to recognize as fear. Her brothers were always telling her that blowhards backed down if you called them on it. She knew from experience that the ones who didn't were dangerous; the lost year had taught her that.
When that idiot ignored her anyway and continued walking in her direction, with a grin that said she was buying whatever he was selling, Penny figured she had given him fair warning. It was nothing to smack him in the mouth before following it up with a swing to his head.
She just didn't expect him to look so damn shocked.
It was a good swing – all those years pestering Daniel to teach her how to play baseball had been worth it. You didn't even have to be a psychic to figure out what the idiot was thinking; how some fucking bitch, some little chick who barely came up to the middle of his chest, had just hit him – twice – with an umbrella. He still looked just as stunned when his head bounced backwards into a tree and he slumped to the ground.
She was going to hit him a third time for good measure and run like hell up the steps to her apartment building but the idiot's partner showed up before Penny could get in another swing.
Penny had almost believed him when he introduced himself as an FBI agent – he'd flashed her a smile as bright as his badge underneath the streetlight – but he had already made the biggest mistake anyone could have made with a girl who grew up in a house full of Star Wars oldtimers. Their aliases sucked. She wouldn't have thought twice about his name being Agent Hamill until Agent Hamill tried to wake up Agent Ford by calling out his name. He smiled the whole damn time like he was pulling something over on her, like she wouldn't recognize the names when he used them together.
It was drunken logic and it wouldn't be the first time Penny Hillsworth was accosted by frat boys.
A theory the idiot shot down after he woke up when they started acting more like those guys who dressed up in the fake medieval armor and whacked themselves with duct-taped sticks in the quad on Saturday mornings. The only other conclusion was that they were harmless geeks, which Agent Ford confirmed by flirting with her about baseball. Giving her a phone number was the last nail in their coffin; she couldn't tell an FBI agent from anyone else in a crowd but why would someone on an undercover assignment give out a phone number to a complete stranger?
They were probably out playing Capture the Flag or something and decided to impress her before the rest of their band of merry dorks showed up, converging upon the smell of a real girl and getting in the way of their nerdy mojo.
She could never figure out why Agent Hamill had the fake badge, though.
Penny called the phone number the next day, part of her hoping that one of them would pick up, but it rang through to voice mail. This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates. She didn't leave a message but it cinched the geek theory. The coordinates were probably the drop-off point for the flag. When she couldn't find his name in the student directory, Penny knew it was over.
Until Joy was attacked four days later.
Lynn was a wreck. Penny knew she'd be a wreck, too, if her roommate was attacked right in front of her. She ditched classes and sat with her cousin in the hospital, always nearby until Joy's parents arrived and Lynn could breathe a little. Her brothers took shifts staying with them, running interference with reporters and the cops. There wasn't an FBI agent on the scene.
Penny got the story in bits and pieces, how Lynn and Joy had been walking across campus after a movie. There was a guy who started following them, coming out from behind a clump of trees near the Commons. Whispered things about vengeance and revenge and thinning the blood of his people. How they had been forgotten. He turned into a dog, just like the man had in that comic Penny used to read. Just like in the old stories Aunt Cece told us, Pen.
The police chalked it up to hysteria after they questioned Lynn and found out she was Wiccan. The only thing keeping Penny from kicking the jerk who called her cousin a New Age Looney was Joe. As much as she complained about being the youngest in a very large family, there was nothing that compared to an older brother stepping in and telling an asshole to back off. Joe's voice dropped to barely a whisper and suddenly the cop-in-charge was stumbling out an apology. It was too late. Lynn never told them the whole story, only kept saying that it was over and the police just didn't care enough to ask her why.
Lynn saved the rest of the story for later, after Joe left them at Lynn's apartment. Her brother wouldn't leave until Penny locked the door behind him and promised that she wouldn't go out until Daniel came to pick them up for breakfast; Penny wondered what short straw Daniel had drawn to get the morning shift and why her brothers were still keeping an eye on them now that Lynn was home. As soon as Joe left, Penny brought out a bottle of tequila and two shot glasses.
Getting her cousin drunk didn't change the story.
It only made it worse.
"I almos' died, Pen." Lynn's voice was so slurred, Penny had to lean forward just to make out the words. "It was goin' t' kill me. Stone cold dead." Her cousin's blue eyes widened and they slammed their glasses down on the coffee table in unison. "Until they showed up."
"They?" Penny began pouring another round of shots. She'd already exceeded her drinking limit, but she had her Lantus and her glucose meter and was eating a handful of chips between each shot. Maybe it wasn't the healthiest thing she should be doing and it might have been time to stop – but Penny had the feeling another round wasn't going to be enough.
Lynn nodded. "FBI."
"Th' police said th' FBI…" Penny shook her head. She had asked the question herself, the final test of Dean Winchester and his paged coordinates. "Not on th' case."
"Police are stupid," her cousin returned hotly. Penny's hand was shaking and tequila spilled past the rims of the shot glasses, splashing on the table. "Don' spill tha'. We need it," her cousin added.
"Did they hurt you?"
"You listenin' t' me, Penny? FBI saved us." Lynn leaned forward conspiratorially. "Saved me. Tall one wi' big hands? Hot!" She nodded vehemently. "Agent Hammy. Held me while short one saved Joy. Shot th' fucker dead wi' an iron bullet." It was a modern-day variant of the iron-tipped arrows that Mom said heroes used in her bedtime stories but the sting of the memory had nothing to do with Penny's loss.
I wish I could tell you that bedtime stories aren't true, Penny. But the world isn't like that.
Penny swallowed. "Was his name Ford?" The dark wasn't safe.
How do you know, Mommy?
"Yeah. Ford. Like president." Lynn's eyes were shining. "They saved me. Saved Joy. Hammy said it was monster. A pouka."
I saw something bad when I was your age. But I met someone who made the dark safe.
Penny was shaking. She had grown up with Lynn; Penny knew every one of Lynn's tells, could pick out when her cousin was flat-out lying or just exaggerating the truth to make it more dramatic. Things like poukas weren't supposed to exist outside of bedtime stories regardless of what her parents said or what her family was always taught to believe; that the dark wasn't safe. That there were people who stepped out of the shadows to rescue you when you needed it.
And when they're done saving you, it'll be too late to thank them. Because they'll slip right back into the night.
Lynn was staring at her, mouth slightly open. "You don' believe me, d' you? Can't explain it. No' scientific." Her gaze was accusatory.
"No," Penny returned, slamming down the shot. She'd hit the man who killed the monster terrorizing campus in the face with her fucking umbrella – and God alone knew how many girls had been saved because of Dean Winchester and Agent Hammy. Including her cousin. "I b'lieve you," she added, reaching over to squeeze her cousin's hand.
Lynn just looked at her and busted up laughing. "Don' look so serious. We're saved!" But Penny couldn't laugh with her.
FBI agents, my ass...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ellen gave them some space the moment they tromped through the front door, sending some beer and chili cheese fries their way. Jo began hovering around their table, eyeing him possessively when all he did was look over the chick at the table next to theirs. He didn't even try to talk to her, and he didn't return the redhead's smile.
Dean had fucked up things with Jo Harvelle.
If he could take back that night in the storeroom, right after she confronted him about stealing her gig with the killer clown, Dean would. After the whole speech about how it was the wrong place at the wrong time, he'd let the whiskey and his hands do the talking. Hadn't used anything but his hands – didn't even kiss her – and he wanted to tell her it was nothing personal, that all Dean wanted was to forget. He didn't want to hurt her – there was too much of that going around – but he didn't want her.
Not the way that she wanted him, like he was a prize to put up on her shelf.
If Sam knew what was going on, he'd get the lectures again about how he wasn't dealing with Dad. Maybe he wasn't dealing with it the way Geek Boy thought he should but Dean was still trying to feel something inside besides the cold. And maybe he should have chosen someone who wasn't Ellen Harvelle's daughter that night. God knew there were enough women passing through the Roadhouse at night, Hunters and those who knew about Hunters, that it would have been easy. Hell, he could pick up a chick while he was unconscious.
With Dad gone, he was forgetting all the little lessons – like Don't shit where you sleep, son. Maybe that was the price you paid when every single lesson was chucked out the window and you were supposed to forget the one thing that defined you. All the little lessons were falling by the wayside while Dean tried to figure out how the hell to save Sam instead of killing him.
"Been awhile since you boys been by." Ellen's husky voice broke into his thoughts and Dean looked up to see her standing next to their table, smiling with another round of beers. "Longer than we expected."
"Found a gig in the Windy City," Dean replied.
Sam nodded. "There was a pouka on a killing spree at the University of Chicago."
Ellen whistled. "Unseelie are bad business." Her brow furrowed. "You two went up against one alone?"
"We did our research!" Dean snapped. There was a reproach in her voice that he didn't like – his mother died when he was four. "We saved three girls," he added.
"I think the first one saved herself," Sam said with a snort.
"Don't go there, Sammy." But Dean knew that his little brother had been hoarding the story to tell someone and Ellen seemed to find Winchester tales more amusing than most people did. She always laughed at all the right parts, a great big bell of a laugh that filled more spaces than another woman's giggle. Made Dean wonder just how close she was to his dad.
"You should have seen Dean in action, Ellen. It was incredible." Sam leaned forward with that goddamn grin on his face. "He managed to be charming and it worked for about thirty seconds. Then the chick just hauled off on Dean and started beating him up with her umbrella. She would have brained him if I hadn't shown up."
"Screw you too, Sam." Dean took a swallow from his beer as Jo giggled behind him. He wondered if Jo would ever learn to laugh like her mother because there was nothing like a woman who laughed earthy and deep, like that chick in the Ebeneezer Scrooge sex dream. Sam didn't know what happened while Dean was knocked out cold and he never would. Geek Boy would just say it was Freudian or some other collegiate crap that would piss Dean off because the chick in the corset looked just like the chick with the umbrella.
"You're a real class act, Dean," Jo interjected. She reached a hand out to brush the cut on his forehead, eyes flickering to the bruise on his mouth. "You get these from the pouka or the girl?"
He ducked backwards, hoping like hell that Ellen wasn't catching on to what was going on between him and her daughter. "That would be the girl," Sam said, giving Dean another grin. "But we did manage to save two girls about three days ago."
"And we took out the little Unseelie freak," Dean added.
"Ever the conquering hero." Jo's voice was a purr and the look in her eyes kicked in the guilt all over again, especially when she added, "I have to do some organizing in the storeroom. Want to help me later?"
"I'd give you a discount on your tab," Ellen countered. She had no idea what her daughter liked to do in storerooms with Dean Winchester, even if it only happened once and he was drunker than God on absinthe. If she did, she wouldn't be giving him anything but a kick through the door and a dozen Hunters' guns on his ass.
Dean shook his head. "I think I've earned one night just to drink my beer." He shot Jo a grin. "Conquering heroes need to bask in their Glory but I bet Sam will help you if you ask him."
"Leave the boy alone, Jo." Ellen's laugh rumbled through her belly but then she saw the look on her daughter's face. The older woman frowned as she walked back behind the bar with an empty tray and she had a hard look in her eyes; she stared at Dean like he had just walked into the Roadhouse for the first time and she was trying to figure out what kind of trouble he had brought to her doorstep.
"If I wanted Sam's help, I'd have asked Sam," Jo returned stubbornly. Her voice dropped to a hiss. "We're going to have to talk about it sometime."
"Jo…" Dean was going to say more but his phone started to ring – probably that same damn number he didn't recognize – and Sam was sitting there staring at him with another grin on his face. "What the – " Dean snapped. "Who the hell keeps trying to call me?"
"One of the hundreds of women you've scammed across the country?" Sam smirked while Jo glared at him.
"I usually program their phone numbers in with different rings so I know which calls to…" Dean's voice trailed off as Jo's frown sharpened into a point. Shit. He had really screwed the pooch with Jo Harvelle. Dean wasn't sure how to make it right except to ignore her and hope she got the message. Dean flipped open the phone. "Who the fuck are you?"
"Agent Ford," a woman's cool voice replied. "You're as charming as ever."
"Still doesn't answer my question, sweetheart." Jo's body stiffened when he said it. So now she knows I'm talking to a chick… The blonde's entire face froze into a fake smile and she sauntered away with one withering glance over her shoulder.
"It's Penny," the voice said. "Penny Hillsworth."
"Are you shitting me?" Dean demanded.
"I must have hit you harder with that umbrella than I thought."
Dean chuckled in spite of himself. "Have you called to confess, Miss Hillsworth?" He caught Sam's eye after his little brother recoiled with a smug glance. She fucking memorized my phone number, Sammy! "Have you been interfering in another Federal investigation?" he added.
"I haven't been interfering with Federal investigations, period." Penny sighed. "Look, I don't know how to say this without just coming out and saying it."
Oh, shit… "Say what?"
Penny's breath came out in a huff. "I know you're not an FBI agent."
"Really?" Dean's jaw tightened and his little brother's eyes widened at the tone of his voice. Dean shifted the phone in his hand so he could snap it closed. "Why do you think that?"
"I don't know, Agent Han. You tell me why I wouldn't believe your half-assed FBI aliases." Dean could almost see the expression on her face, remembering the way her eyes flashed right before she swung her umbrella. "Is Agent Luke there, too?" Penny didn't wait for his answer. "I didn't call to argue with you, uh…"
"Then why did you call, Short Stuff?"
Dean almost thought the line was dead but he heard her breathing slowly, in and out, with a little ragged hitch that surprised him. "Did you just call me Short Stuff?"
"Little thing like you going to try and beat me up when I return your scarf?"
That actually made her laugh, a bright peal he remembered from the other Penelope. This whole thing was fucked, memories of a chick he didn't know based on some half-assed vision. "You're just going to have to return it and find out," she retorted, still laughing hard. It was a goddamn belly laugh and it made him want to watch her, to laugh right along with her instead of sitting in some goddamn roadhouse in Nebraska.
"So you're just checking up on your handiwork?" He smirked and brushed his lips with his free hand. "The mouth still looks like I had a run-in with a baseball bat and the freaking cut on my forehead is going to leave a scar. Feel better knowing I'm going to have a permanent reminder of the quality time we spent together?"
"No." Penny's voice was gentle. "I'm really sorry about that."
"Yeah, I could tell."
"I…" She sighed. "I know about the pouka."
Dean's stomach clenched. "Do you even know what a fucking pouka is?" Sam frowned, draining his beer bottle in one swallow.
"I do, actually. My mother made certain my brothers and I knew all of the old stories." Dean didn't like the way she said old stories, like she knew the world was a bigger place than most people thought. True believers get in the way, Dean. Always trying to catch a glimpse of the other world. Maybe she thought he would bring her there – wouldn't be the first time he met a chick who wanted to touch that danger by touching him.
"The girls you saved." Dean got the impression that she was forcing herself to go on because her breathing sped up and there was thump in his ear that was probably his own pulse jumping every time Penny Hillsworth opened her mouth. "One of them was my cousin." There was another noise, a small hiccup, and it sounded more like she wanted to run. "My mom died last year and I…went a little crazy. If Lynn died, I don't know what I'd do. She's not just my best friend…"
"Yes." There was a pause and another small hiccupping noise. "So I just wanted to say thank you for doing whatever it is you and your…partner…do." Penny took a deep breath.
"Of course I'm crying, you idiot!"
"Hey, not criticizing. Just…" He took a deep breath. "You're welcome."
"Okay." There was another pause and Dean heard a click as music started playing in the background. Some kind of classical crap that would probably get Sam's panties in a bunch but didn't do jack for him. But then it sounded like she was changing the channel and settled on an oldies station, humming "Yellow Submarine" to herself. At least it's not fucking Mozart. "Well," Penny added. "That's really why I called."
"To thank us for saving your cousin?"
"And to apologize for hitting you with my umbrella." Penny laughed again, a small sound in her throat that sounded like it was fighting with something else. "I mean it. You might have been able to catch the damn thing that night if I hadn't interfered."
"Girls hit me all the time," Dean replied and his smile wasn't forced.
"You say that like I should be surprised, Agent Han."
He chuckled. "Dean."
"I know. Dean Winchester, right?" She laughed. "Unless that's another alias."
"Nope." Dean started; the girl was smart. If she had some clue about what they did for a living, she probably figured out that aliases were part of the gig. "But you don't believe in leaving messages?" he asked.
"It wasn't an emergency. You had more important things to worry about than a phone call from the bitch with an umbrella."
"Things are a little slow right now," he replied. "Sam and I are copping some downtime."
"How did the two of you meet?"
"When Mom and Dad brought him home from the hospital." Dean heard her breath catch again. Chicks were a lot easier to read if you were standing next to them. "Sam is my little brother," he added. And her fucking eyes… He shook his head with a snap, trying to ignore the memory of them looking up into his while he screwed her. What the fuck…
"I should have known you were a big brother," she said with something that sounded suspiciously like a giggle. "You've got the whole I'm always right because I'm the oldest thing going for you. It's the swagger. Do they teach every older brother to walk like that when you're growing up?" And then Penny Hillsworth followed it up with a snort. "Maybe you should put your little brother on the phone so we can commiserate with each other."
"I bet your older brother is always threatening to kick your ass, Short Stuff." Sam looked at him like Dean had finally gone on a bender and wasn't coming back; this chat was going nowhere Dean had expected it to when she first asked for his phone number. They were having a fucking conversation and she knew the right things to say to keep it going, some weird girl with a scarf that still smelled like lilacs. "Might help him the next time you come after me with an umbrella."
"Daniel Hillsworth is the reason I hit you with the umbrella."
"Remind me to kick Danny's ass when I meet him, too. I'm going to have nightmares about pink umbrellas for the rest of my life."
"So I've ruined you for Mai Tais?"
"I wouldn't be caught dead with one of those sissy drinks." Dean was grinning again, not even realizing that Jo had come back to stand near the table until she slammed another bottle of beer in front of Sam and stared at him with Armageddon swirling in her eyes. "Hey, look…" he trailed off.
"I know," Penny said. "Monsters to kill, people to save. It's hard work being a hero." She sighed. "Thank you for saving my cousin. And please thank your brother for me."
"It's the family business, sweetheart."
"So it's just you and Sam?" There was another hiccup in his ear and Penny's voice was so tiny, he could barely hear the question. Penny didn't say anything after that, giving him a chance to talk but all he wanted to do was listen to her because she sounded like she understood what it meant, why it hurt so much because it was just him and Sam.
He probably should have said something but then Penny took a deep breath. "Goodbye, Dean," she said.
And she hung up on him.
Dean stared at his cell phone for about five seconds before he closed it. Sam snorted and popped open his third bottle of beer while Jo slid into the booth next to him, hands on the table in front of her as she stared across into Dean's face. "Payback's a bitch," Jo commented.
"So is karma," Sam added, glancing sideways at Jo. Dean didn't know who Sam was warning at that point.
Dean shrugged. "Chicks are fucking weird, Sammy."
"That's probably because you don't talk to them before you screw them," Jo retorted, but then her shoulders slumped and she looked like Penny Hillsworth had come up from behind and smacked her on the back of the head because there was a smile pasted on her face – an afterthought to make Dean feel better. The biggest lessons come from the smallest moments, Dean.
But maybe that was just wishful thinking. Dean stared down at the closed phone. He hadn't even said goodbye because he couldn't give her more than that; it might have been all that Penny Hillsworth was waiting for.
"Dean's an ass, Jo, and he's been a moody ass ever since we left Chicago. It's like he's twelve." His little brother's shaggy head rocked on his neck and he was flashing puppy dog eyes in her direction as Dean put his phone back into his pocket. "I'll help you clean out the storeroom," Sam added. "Least I can do after Dean's been such a jerk." His little brother didn't know what had happened but he probably suspected something.
"I'd like the help," the blonde returned, actually swatting Sammy with her bar towel. Jo's second smile was wistful and her eyes were full when she caught Dean watching her. "What? You got a problem with that?"
"No," he replied, returning the smile. Maybe he hadn't fucked up after all – or, at least, Jo was finally beginning to realize why Dean had screwed around with her in the first place. Jo's dad had died, too. My mom died last year and I…went a little crazy. And maybe a little insanity was just what you needed, made you feel like you still had something until you figured out what you really had. "Just trying to figure out how to get blood off of a goddamn scarf," Dean added.
"For starters," Sam pointed out, leaning across the table and gesturing with his half-empty beer, "You don't antagonize a girl with an umbrella." He nodded knowingly at Jo, who lowered her head with a smirk before she burst out laughing.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Her knees were propped up on his shoulders, the sweat from their skin mingling right where the back of her knees touched down. He slid his hands up her stomach and began brushing her breasts with his thumbs. Spiky hair brushed the inside of her thighs as his head bobbed forward and his breath was an electric shock that rippled all the way down to her curled toes.
"You're kind of sexy for a girl with a pink umbrella." He chuckled, the vibrations rumbling through her entire belly, and a pair of hazel eyes looked up into hers with that same goddamn smile that made her want to hit him in the first place.
"You're kind of sexy for an idiot in a leather jacket," she retorted, fingers twining into his hair as he chuckled again. And then his tongue was swirling and she was rocking, hands clutching his head. Crying out as he did the same thing he always did, listening to her whimper.
The gust of air from the overhead fan breezed against her, cooling the sweat at the crook of her elbows as she bent backwards; the spasm rippling though her entire body as she locked her ankles behind his neck. He always made her shudder, playing her until the only thing she wanted was him. "Fuck," she breathed.
"Don't have to tell me twice, sweetheart." He shifted up, sliding between her thighs like he'd practiced it all his life. Maybe he had because he could draw noises out of her just by breathing into her neck – whispering her name like it was an entreaty to some long-forgotten goddess – and he was always filling her past the point of bursting. She slammed her hips against his, listening to him breathe as their bodies met – digging nails into the muscles of his shoulder blades.
His lips were on her breasts until he brought his head up and claimed her mouth, slipping his tongue inside. He pulled his mouth away when she moaned into it. "I walked her home and she held my hand," he sang along with WJMK, a little breathless himself right before she gasped. Another tremor ran through her and after that the only sounds they could make drowned out the music playing in the background.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Penny woke up with her nightgown rolled up around her waist and a pillow bunched between her legs, one hand pressing it down as her body rocked against it. Penny bit her lip, moaning as she came, before sinking back against the mattress. She flung her arms out to either side and stared up into the ceiling fan. The air was cool against her thighs.
What was that?
She rolled over and slapped the snooze button on her alarm clock. It wasn't the first dream she'd had since talking to him on the phone but now Dean Winchester was singing I'm Into Something Good while he screwed her. She was messed up on so many levels her brother Patrick would have a field day. It was like she had been hit in the head and now her brain was trying to pick up the pieces, trying to make sense of the whole thing.
He didn't seem like the kind of guy who seduced girls with Herman's Hermits and he sure as hell didn't seem like the kind of guy who saw a bioengineering student as anything but the girl he sat next to in class – flashing her a smile like it was an apology before leaning over and looking at her answers on the biology test.
She hadn't had sex since she came off her sabbatical. A year of getting drunk and sleeping with anything that propositioned her just to feel something besides the numb pit that was in her chest all the time. Nothing was important but the feel of a warm body in her bed. So much skin and teeth and mouths and hands and it didn't matter to whom the fingers belonged, so long as they scratched and pumped and filled her up – and, if she was lucky, Penny would remember that she was supposed to be alive.
Now she lived like a monk. With a ruby vibrator.
And I need a goddamn cold shower.
Her phone rang as she padded across the bedroom carpet to the bathroom; the machine could get it. Penny turned on the water, feeling the warm spray against her hand before she pulled off her pajamas. She let the water pound onto her back, working deep into her muscles. When she turned around to reach for the shampoo, feeling water splash against her breasts, she remembered the dream where he was pressing her against the wet tiles and screwing her from behind.
It was her own damn fault for not making the water cold.
Penny stretched as she got out of the shower. She'd been sore for a couple of days – probably from playing racquetball with Tommy – and she knew if she didn't throw on her sweats and go jogging like she used to, she'd figure out another excuse as to why she didn't have to start up again.
It still felt like she was going through the motions.
Mr. Adams met her in the hallway, calling out hello as she stretched her legs. Muffin was as yippy as ever, barking the moment that Penny's foot came too close to the poodle. Penny flipped her hair up into a band, stuck her keys into her waist pack – along with everything she'd need in case her blood sugar became a problem – and followed the old man out the front door.
"So you don't believe in checking your messages?"
Penny stopped right in front of the blackest car she'd seen on the road in years, a big behemoth that probably guzzled more gas than Bill's old Mustang back in high school. Her eyes narrowed when a familiar grin came into focus. He was leaning against the side of the car with a container of coffee cups, probably a peace offering given the way he was waiting for her to walk towards him. His little brother was peering out the open window behind Dean's back.
"What the hell are you doing here?" It wasn't exactly the question Penny wanted to ask but it was all that her brain could muster.
"Wondering why you're standing there staring at me like an idiot while the coffee gets cold," he retorted. He must have guessed the next question because Dean Winchester shrugged his shoulders. "This might come as a surprise but Sammy can read. He remembered the name of your building."
Penny felt her mouth twitch. "Are you always like this?"
"Charming?" He grinned.
"The polite term is assertive," she replied. Sam snorted, leaning out the window and bursting into a grin. "You obviously can't trade him in, Sam," Penny added. Dean's face contorted before he shook his head. "But I'll let you in on a little secret. I like big brothers." She returned Sam's grin. "So maybe I'll just say you're welcome for the coffee and make you both breakfast."
"Pancakes?" And Dean Winchester asked it like he was six.
"Sure," Penny said. "As long as someone else flips them." Sam was smiling, rolling up the window as he locked the door.
"You can't use a freaking spatula?" Dean chuckled. If he saw the goose bumps forming along the length of her arm while she unlocked the front door to the building, he played the part of a gentleman and didn't say a damn thing about it.
"Nope." Penny looked back at him over her shoulder. "Tommy always makes me pancakes."
"Boyfriend?" That was Sam's voice. Penny was surprised he even fit through the doorway; his head was perilously close to bumping against one of the light fixtures.
"Big brother," she returned. "And he'll be coming over to say hello if your big brother doesn't stop watching my ass while I walk up the stairs." Dean chuckled again and didn't deny it. "Knowing Tommy, he'll bring the rest of them with him. Protecting their little sister is a group sport for the Hillsworth boys," Penny added.
She expected Dean to say something to that – about how he could defend himself so long as they weren't armed with power tools – while she unlocked her front door but his eyes hardened instead, a shadow flickering across his face. Sam was quiet too, until they were inside and he was trying to figure out how to sit on her couch without touching her laundry. The boy acted like he'd never seen a pair of underwear before, let alone an entire load of them.
Dean started rummaging through her cupboards after he set down the coffee; it didn't surprise her that he acted like he owned the place. He wasn't just assertive. Dean Winchester was a force that couldn't be denied.
And Penny couldn't be pissed at him, either; even when Dean swaggered around her kitchen looking for pancake mix. It was too funny watching Sam blush every time she grabbed another pair of panties and threw them into her laundry basket. "They're clean," she said, which made Dean cackle. Sam shot his brother a nasty glance and then smiled weakly at her, leaning back against the couch with his hands under his head.
By the time the basket was full, Dean had found the pancake mix and was setting a pan on the stove to warm up. Sam's eyes were closed and his breathing was slow when she walked into the kitchen and she wondered if they had made a stop to help someone else on the way to see her. Where did you rest when the dark wasn't safe? Dean cocked his head towards one of the picture magnets on the refrigerator. "All of them your brothers?"
"Yep." She pulled out some eggs and he was already grabbing them out of her hands before she turned around and shut the door. "Hey!" Penny snapped. "What part of me making you breakfast didn't you understand?"
"I'm not letting you near a spatula," Dean retorted, cracking an egg and grinning at her. Penny opened her mouth to say something but Dean was leaning down towards her. "You probably lied about not being able to flip pancakes just to lull me into a false sense of security."
"Why stop with a spatula when you've got an entire room of kitchen appliances at your disposal?" The look on his face as he tried to figure out if she was serious only made her laugh harder. When Dean Winchester's laugh hit his eyes, she stood up on her toes and brushed her lips against his before he could pick up a wooden spoon off the kitchen island.
His hand never made it to the spoon and then it didn't matter because his mixing bowl was getting pushed topsy-turvy against the wall and he was pulling her up by the waist and setting her on the counter. Penny's mouth opened with a sigh, breath against his, and she began scratching his chest lightly. He brought his hands up to her face, drawing it out long enough to recognize her heart beating against his.
She had forgotten what it was like to fall into someone with just a kiss.
"Fuck," he whispered against her mouth.
Penny pulled back. She probably looked just as dumbstruck as he did – kissing some man she barely knew because of the way his eyes looked when he was laughing. Maybe she should talk to Patrick; there had to be something in his books that could explain why she needed to brush Dean Winchester's cheek with her hand, how it was the most natural thing in the world to do. She swallowed. "Maybe we should wait until after breakfast."
Penny was proud of the fact that her voice almost sounded normal.
Dean snorted, face lighting up into his shit-eating grin when their eyes met. "You just want me to clean you up after you get all sticky."
"You're pretty cocky for someone who shows up unannounced on my doorstep," Penny retorted. "A girl's got to have her standards, Dean. Your pancakes might suck." And he looked so shocked when the words registered, like she'd hit him all over again with her umbrella, that the only thing she could do was laugh.
But Penny Hillsworth was pretty damn lucky Dean Winchester was there to save her again when she started slipping off the counter. Even if he laughed so loud that he woke up his little brother.
The title of the story is a song by Kate Bush. It was the best of all possible choices while still allowing me to reference the phrase "Something Good" without being an obvious reference to Herman's Hermits' I'm into Something Good. Plus, hello, Kate Bush!
Lantus is a common drug used to help treat diabetes.
Yes, this has become a 'verse. I am cursed…