Hunting monsters hadn't prepared Dean Winchester for the one thing scarier than a girl and her umbrella — a six-pack of older brothers. Especially after the football...

Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine, but I'd make Dean wear his boots if they were. Always.
Pairing: Dean/OFC
Rating: M ( Language, angst, adult situations and a football )
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 Cloudbusting.

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.

You didn't get more apple pie than the Hillsworths.

They were supposed to be driving down to Raleigh, North Carolina. Sam had gotten a lead on some rare books in an estate sale, some old-time Crowley follower's occult research library. Most books in private collections were New Age crap these days but sometimes you got lucky and Dad taught them to always keep their eyes peeled for new tools they could use in their fight. Sometimes, Sam, you find what you need in the unlikeliest of places.

The job was all Sam had left. The job and Dean.

The only problem was that the map in Dean's head had replaced True North with Chicago – and sometime between making the decision at Harvelle's and pulling up in front of the Templeton Arms Apartments building, Dean had changed his mind. They were supposed to drop off the scarf, take the girl to breakfast and hit the road before lunchtime. Before Sam knew it, Dean was making breakfast and both of them were telling her stories about what it was like to grow up Winchester – the funny stuff – with both of them doing their best to see who could make Penny Hillsworth laugh harder.

When they finished, it was so late that Penny decided to take them out to lunch.

The look on Dean's face when Penny walked into some Indian place where her cousin worked was almost worth the detour to Chicago. Getting Dean to agree on Chinese was bad enough and every time Penny began recommending something on the menu, Dean started looking a little more white around the eyes when she explained what was in it. I'm not trying to kill you, Dean. It's chicken cooked in a clay oven. That kid over there is eating it. Sam already knew what he wanted; it'd been a long time since he had biryani.

Dean had neglected to tell Sam that Penny's cousin was one of the girls that they had rescued the night they killed the pouka. When some hot blonde with blue eyes sat down in the chair next to Penny and called him Agent Hammy, Sam was glad he was sitting down. The blonde wore Birkenstocks, a long paisley skirt and a t-shirt; typical college girl gear didn't change much no matter the school. With Lynn on break, there were two girls asking questions about the job and neither of them seemed particularly disbelieving of their answers. It was a relief not having to hide that but it felt strange, like the world had shifted left of center.

The shock didn't keep him from glaring at Dean every time he called Sam Agent Hammy but the food was good and Penny and Lynn were older versions of the normal girls he had hung out with at Stanford. Lynn had just started a Masters' program in Women's Studies and her enthusiasm was infectious. Penny was subdued when asked about her studies, explaining softly that she had taken some time off from school and was in the last semester of her Masters' work before starting a Doctorate program. She and Lynn flashed each other a look that made Dean stare at Penny thoughtfully, forgetting to make a crack about his food as he took another bite.

Sam felt out of the loop so he asked Penny what she was studying. It was bad enough when Dean stared at Penny like she was a girl from another planet after she answered that she studied cell and tissue engineering but it got worse when Dean decided to help Sam with the questions. Dean followed up with a question for Lynn, demanding to know if she was some tree-hugging hippie chick because she sure as hell dressed like one. When both girls smacked an arm for the hippie chick crack, Sam couldn't help but smile.

Sometime during dessert, when Dean was staring at his rice pudding with the same expression someone might have reserved for the Blob, Penny got a phone call from one of her brothers. The Hillsworth family had decided that they needed to throw one more family barbecue before Thanksgiving and the weather was too nice to ignore. Penny Hillsworth hadn't even finished asking the question before Dean looked at him with a cocky grin on his face. We can leave in the morning, right, Agent Hammy?

Dean still had that cocky grin on his face – except now it was slathered in barbecue sauce from the ribs he'd spent the last ten minutes practically inhaling and he still hadn't made a sizable dent in the meat piled on his paper plate. Sam raised an eyebrow. "Come on, Sam, free food. I'm starving!"

"That's your fault." Sam rolled his eyes. "You had some of the chicken and Penny was willing to share her vindaloo with you."

"It was lamb. I don't see why she laughed at me."

"You were going to order a hamburger at an Indian restaurant." Sam snorted. Dean's eyes flickered towards the swing set, where Penny and Lynn and Penny's brother Tommy were surrounded by nieces and nephews. He sighed. "I used to want that," Sam said softly. "With Jessica."

"Because nothing says true love like a bunch of squalling brats all asking you to push them on a swing at the same time." But Dean's smile was softer than his tone and he looked at Sam with a raised eyebrow of his own. Sam forgot, sometimes, that Dad used to apologize to Dean for not taking him to the park in the afternoons when he was tucking them in at night. Sam sure as hell didn't remember Dean just being a kid while they were growing up. There was always the mission.

It was all they ever had.

"There's nothing wrong in wanting an apple pie life, Dean." Sam chuckled as a ghost of a smile passed over his brother's face.

"Well, the food's kick ass," Dean admitted, inclining his head towards a picnic table overflowing with food. "And it's got a couple different kinds of pies besides apple. I was thinking of snagging myself a slice of the chocolate cream but the pumpkin's looking pretty tasty, too." He had the old goofy grin on his face that Sam remembered, like he just scammed a phone number off a waitress.

"Really? Because you look like you're getting ready to hit on someone," Sam retorted. His older brother didn't deny it but suddenly Dean's jaw was clenched and the new anger started replacing the relaxed drop of Dean's shoulders. "Jo told me about the storeroom," Sam added. "How you were both drunk." The blonde girl had given him more details than Sam wanted at the time but they'd both had so much beer at that point, it didn't matter. "How she wanted to help with Dad and things got out of hand."

"Not talking about it, Sam."

"You should at least talk to Jo about it." Sam sighed. "We have to try and work with the Harvelles. Dad would have wanted that." He didn't add that Dad probably wouldn't have wanted either of his sons screwing around with the girl.

"Can't take back what happened." Dean glanced at him sideways. "It's done now." That was pretty much what Jo had told Sam, too, but he remembered the hope in the girl's eyes all the same. And Sam wasn't blind. Dean didn't look at Jo Harvelle the way he smiled at Penny Hillsworth.

Penny was walking towards them, holding hands with Jenna. He'd met so many Hillsworths since they arrived that he couldn't say for certain – by the time they'd been introduced to Penny's father and six older brothers, even Dean's charm was starting to wear a little thin – but Sam thought the little girl was Patrick's youngest daughter. Jenna had spent most of the afternoon within arm's reach of Penny Hillsworth, peering at Dean from behind her aunt. When Penny plopped down on the blanket next to Sam, the little girl crawled almost immediately into her lap.

"Hey!" Penny said brightly. "Are you both having a good time?"

"Absolutely," Sam replied, sipping on his beer. Even though we should have been on the road six hours ago. "Joe cooks a mean set of ribs."

"He does indeed," she returned with a grin. "It's not much but after…" Penny's voice trailed off and she winked at Sam. They'd all made the decision at lunch not to tell the rest of the Hillsworths how Penny and Lynn met two Winchesters at the University of Chicago. Even if they didn't use their real last name for the introductions. "A day of free food and a break from the road was the best I could come up with on short notice," Penny added.

Almost on cue, Dean started eating his ribs again – and he was so messy about it the little girl could only stare at him, especially when Dean started making noises while he bit off the meat. But then Jenna's hand snaked out to steal a rib off of Dean's paper plate and she started imitating the noises he made.

Every single one.

Sam could only shake his head and laugh. Tommy Hillsworth watched Penny wrap her arms around Jenna's waist and rest her chin on her niece's head, an incredulous look on his face. Penny was oblivious to being watched, smiling at Dean when their eyes met. Dean was oblivious, too – making his noises more outrageous because Penny was paying attention.

It was probably the closest to an apple-pie life either of them would ever get, sitting on someone else's blanket while Dean made another man's daughter laugh.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

He was putting up with a lot of crap just to return one goddamn scarf – even got into an argument with Ellen when they were washing it back at the roadhouse but there was no way Dean was returning a scarf that smelled like the Snuggles bitch. He bought coffee in flavors that made Sam call him Eugene, got smacked in the arm by a wooden spoon when he wouldn't hand over a spatula and ate something called Tandoori that was cooked in fucking yogurt before getting his ass dragged to the Walton's family picnic.

But there was no way in hell Dean Winchester was playing touch football with every freaking Hillsworth in the Chicago metro area.

Penny was lucky she was getting her scarf back – especially after she dragged him into her old tree fort and just stared at him with a smile full of a challenge. The only thing that look made him want to do was push her up against the wall, lifting her up while her mouth opened underneath his with that same breathy sigh he knew she'd make the moment her heels lifted up from the ground.

Besides, Sam was already out there throwing passes, laughing with Lynn and Penny's brother Tommy like they were all old friends. He was the college boy. Probably played touch football with all of his geeky college friends when he wasn't drinking beer and listening to emo music. Dean had more important things to do.

He leaned down to kiss her but Penny ducked out from underneath his arm. "What the fuck?"

"You sure know how to sweet talk a girl," Penny said. She brought up a hand to wipe at his mouth. "You actually thought I'd let you kiss me when you're covered in barbecue sauce?" She licked her index finger delicately, keeping it in her mouth just a little too long. Pulling it out slowly as she looked up at him with her green eyes. "It's not even spicy, Dean."

Dean grinned. "You're going to have to do a lot better than that to get my ass out there, sweetheart."

Penny Hillsworth didn't back down from a challenge – Dean had figured that out when she walloped him with the umbrella but even now she wasn't quite going for broke. She stood up on the tips of her toes and plastered her mouth against his, her hands winding through his hair as he settled his hands against her waist. "I'll let you tackle me," Penny whispered against his lips.

"You've been planning on letting me tackle you since I put chocolate chips in your pancakes." Dean's voice was low and he nuzzled her neck.

Penny shivered. "Are you willing to take that chance?"

And that's when she brought out the big guns, mouth coming back to his – pulling his lower lip between hers and sucking on it gently as her nails scratched his chest. Damn girl didn't really even know him but she knew how to turn him inside out as easily as she breathed his name into his mouth. When he moaned, Dean knew he was screwed. "Right," he said sharply. "But you're only getting one fucking game out of me."

He knew that he'd left himself wide open for a smart-ass crack – could actually hear her draw in a breath as she got ready to let loose with how one fucking game was all she ever planned on giving someone like him – but all she did was touch his cheek with her hand. Dean was going to kiss her again but there was a shuffle outside of the door and he stepped away from her just in time for three figures to come barreling into the fort.

"Tommy was right," the tallest one said, ducking his head to get into the doorway. Bill, Dean remembered. "Innocent as pie." He was built like a boxer, even moved quick on his feet like he was ducking a punch. His hair was the exact same color as Penny's but his eyes were a much darker green. Bill grinned at Dean. "And here we thought Penny'd be having her way with you in the Love Shack. Staged a daring rescue and everything." Bill's voice was soft and Dean remembered that same look in his father's eyes. Don't mess with my family.

"Except you're the reason we call it that." Penny shook her head and only Dean was standing close enough to realize that she was blushing, otherwise he doubted her brothers would be so obliging to Dean Winchester given the warning they'd just relayed. "It's not Bill's Five-Fingered Love Shack because I brought a boy out here." She smiled sweetly. "I always liked The Magnificent Rosy Palm's Wank Emporium."

Bill snorted. "You two joining us for the game, little sister?"

"Absolutely," Penny replied, flouncing past Dean as she worked her way past her brothers. Her brothers looked surprised by her answer, which was weird as all hell, and Joe gave Dean a once-over like he didn't even know Dean's species. "Even if my side loses, Sam still owes me ten bucks," she added. Penny grinned at Dean over her shoulder before she squeezed past the bodies in front of the door.

"Son of a bitch!" It was Dean's turn to shake his head. He didn't know which of her brothers sighed but Bill's eyes met his and they both frowned in commiseration. He followed them out of the fort, watching her run ahead of them as a bunch of kids started chasing her – but that still didn't keep her from flashing another grin at him as Jenna grabbed her hand and pulled her to where the rest of her brothers were congregating.

Penny Hillsworth wasn't just getting tackled. She was going down.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Football was more than a Hillsworth family tradition.

It was a passion, instilled in them the moment they were able to toddle around the backyard and pass the ball between each other. And they played it whenever the occasion allowed – even during the winter; there was nothing like sliding between the two trees they called the end zone with snow stinging your face. Every family gathering ended in people taking sides, arguing over who was going to be quarterback and who was going to participate in the coin toss.

Penny was always on her mother's team, a good luck charm. Mom used to say that there was nothing she couldn't do with Penny at her side and Penny believed it so strongly she spent more time in the hospice than her apartment after Mom was admitted. The Hillsworth women stuck together. When Lynn's folks died in the accident and she moved in with them, they had three Hillsworth women on the team; because it really wasn't about the last name. Mom was all about spirit and inner strength. It doesn't matter how far you fall if your heart is true.

Penny fell farther than any of them after Mom died and some days it still felt like she was climbing her way out of the chasm.

It hurt – playing football again, knowing she wasn't going to hear her mother telling her to go left or dodge out of the way or come up from behind and hug her when Penny scored a touchdown. The way Tommy smiled at her when she squared off against him in the break took away some of the sting, along with the hugs she got from Lynn and Bobby when she joined their side. And it surprised the hell out of Penny when Sam Winchester told her that he had her back, so full of conviction that she wanted to reach over and squeeze his hand.

But her game was all over the place.

She was either too fast to catch a pass or too slow to get a tackle in before the ball was out of reach. Maybe Mom had known what Penny had spent every day learning for the last year; that Penny's good luck charm died of cancer in a hospice because even something as stupid as football no longer worked. When she noticed Dean had the ball and he grinned at her, Penny knew she could intercept his pass. All she had to do was jump in front of Tommy and grab the ball.

Dean Winchester threw like a quarterback.

The ball hit her so soundly on the forehead, Penny heard the connecting crack of leather against skin as she fell backwards. She would have hit the ground but two arms came from behind and damn if Sam Winchester hadn't caught her after all.

Dean started walking in their direction as Sam took her over to her blanket, looking more concerned than some guy she hit in the face with an umbrella had any cause to look about the girl who hit him, but Joe shook his head and pulled Dean back into the game. Crap. Penny wobbled, trying to get to Dean herself – she'd warned him that her brothers considered protecting their little sister a group sport and she'd seen their faces when only three of them barged into the fort – but Sam was insistent, tugging her along with those big hands Lynn talked about for hours.

Tommy trotted along beside them and Penny grabbed his shirt, pulled his ear down to her mouth. "It was my fault," she said. "You keep an eye on him." If anyone could figure it out, it would be her twin brother.

Sam actually chuckled at that. "Dean can take care of himself."

"One against six?" she retorted. Why was she so goddamn dizzy? She'd go back into the game and protect him herself if Sam Winchester would just let go of her. It wasn't Dean's fault she couldn't catch a football anymore.

Tommy looked at her. "We'll still get creamed, Pen. Two against five?" Penny stopped walking, heart beating against the coil of her ribcage. Dean Winchester mattered and he wasn't going in there alone. Her brother's eyes widened when she touched his arm and then he nodded.

"Dean's had worse odds," Sam said, his voice soft. Suddenly he was looking at her, too – like he didn't expect Penny Hillsworth's eyes to tear up at the idea of two good men fighting things under worse odds, things that could kill them. "You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah." Penny nodded, smiled up at them both. She was good at hiding behind a smile. "But I think I know how your brother felt after we first met."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Penny held an ice pack in her lap, staring out at the game with a frown on her face. Sam coughed, her eyes watching the flicker of his as he nodded into her lap. She sighed when he coughed a second time before slowly raising the ice pack to her head, holding it there with a grimace. "Thanks for catching me," she said.

"No problem."

"A chivalrous man would have knocked me out of harm's way instead of just saving me from falling flat on my ass." Penny grinned at him. "But I was pretty sloppy out there today."

"You play football a lot?" Sam shook his head. Penny Hillsworth didn't look like a tomboy, for all that she came downstairs that morning in sweats – obviously dressed to go on run. Even in the jeans Penny changed into for lunch, she was wearing a white shirt that Jess would have called cute – fitted almost like it was a corset, complete with metal stays up the front. Dean made a noise in his throat when he saw her and Sam elbowed him in the stomach before Dean could talk.

"Not since my mom died," Penny returned softly. "It's a family thing." She glanced at him. "You don't have to wait with me. You can play."

"I actually hate football," Sam confessed. One of Penny's brothers had come up behind Dean, pushing him out of the way to steal his interception. He winced. "Is that legal?"

"They should really leave him alone. I was slower than I used to be and I got hurt. My fault." Penny sighed. All of a sudden she was cupping her free hand around one side of her mouth. "Daniel Hillsworth, Mom would have you in time-out for that move!" Penny yelled. "Get off the field and send in a sub!"

Sam laughed in spite of himself, especially when Daniel nodded and started walking off the field – even extended his hand to Dean in an apology. "Time-out?" Sam asked.

"My mother was very particular about the way we did things."

"So i…was my dad." The words were out before Sam could stop them and Penny's green eyes widened when she looked into his face, the truth unveiled by a past tense he couldn't take back without the moment becoming even more awkward than it already was. She looked like she was going to say something, maybe apologize for what she had figured out or do the whole sympathy thing, but then Penny turned her eyes back out to the game. He watched her swallow.

"It's just you and Dean now, isn't it? Doing whatever it is the two of you do." Penny stiffened as Sam shifted. She set the ice pack on the blanket beside her, catching his eyes. "If the two of you ever need my help, I just want you to know that you can ask me." She looked back out towards the game. "You saved my cousin," she added softly.

"Penny…" Sam's throat hurt. "It's what we do."

"The family business," she said. "I don't have any romantic illusions about your life, Sam. It bites and I'm guessing there isn't a high life expectancy in your line of work but…" Penny trailed off, picking up the ice pack and shuffling it between her hands. "Have you ever met someone and it's like you're remembering that person instead of just getting to know them?"

"Yeah." He stared at his shoes. "Her name was Jess."

Penny was still shuffling the ice pack before setting it resolutely beside her. "Is it reincarnation? Or something else." Sam almost thought she was joking because she gave a little laugh, except her face looked too serious for it. "You ever find an explanation for it?" She was frowning.


Penny's mouth quirked up when she looked at him. "That's what I thought you were going to say." She leaned back on her hands, legs in front of her as she turned back towards the game. "Sometimes life sucks, Sam."

Sam snorted. "No arguments from me." They grinned at each other. "You want a beer or something?"


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Penny Hillsworth's goddamn brothers played football like they had a death wish. Most of them had been gunning for Dean the moment his throw connected with their little sister's head. Tommy watched his back, taking almost as many knocks as Dean did for his troubles. Dean decided if the rest of them sprouted wings or colored eyes, he was going all out but until then it didn't seem fair taking them down with moves he learned from Dad during a football game – but, fuck, it was tempting.

The sky opened up ten minutes after Tommy knocked him out of the way of the seventh freaking football to come arcing his way. The game was abandoned to get kids inside and save as much of the food as they could, Hillsworths rushing around him with smiles and plates full of food. Even Sam was helping them out, throwing buns into a big bowl Penny shoved into his hands. He was surprised at how the Hillsworths managed to get everything inside under five minutes, wet and bedraggled as they huddled in the kitchen and the hallway. Or how they laughed as the rain kept on pouring down.

Hell, he was surprised when Tommy and Sam started making plans on the way back to Penny's place. They decided to go out singing karaoke with Lynn Lucas, Sam taking Tommy up on his offer to spend the night at his apartment. They didn't even ask Dean or Penny to go out, just started making plans to meet up with Dean and Penny at breakfast like it was the most normal thing in the world for an older brother to set it up so Dean Winchester could take Penny Hillsworth home.

He thought the biggest surprise of the day would be Tommy grabbing his arm, holding him back as Penny and Sam tromped up the stairs to her apartment. Penny's laughter fell down towards them, staring at each other in the foyer. Dean was prepared for the warning. Even held his breath and waited for it, giving Tommy Hillsworth the opportunity to give the older brother's speech. You make Penny smile, Tommy said simply. And that's enough for me.

And that's exactly what he was planning on doing as soon as Sam got his duffel out of Penny's living room. Dean watched Sam take his own sweet time sorting out crap that was already in a freaking bag, thinking about all the ways he was going to screw Penny Hillsworth screaming sideways.

Penny Hillsworth had other plans. While Sam and her older brother were getting his things together, she was pushing Dean and some clean towels into a small bathroom with a shower. He grabbed her wrist and started pulling her inside but she flashed her eyes towards their brothers in the living room and shook her head. Told him he needed to get warm and dry himself off, maybe take a shower because he smelled like barbecue sauce.

She didn't take too kindly to being told she looked like a wet Chihuahua and Dean figured he was pretty damn lucky Penny was nowhere near an umbrella.

The water felt good when Dean finally settled into the shower, the hot spray pounding into his back. Muscles he normally didn't use were sore and he almost felt like he did after a hunt, just as wild inside with fingers itching to do something as his body fought against its aches. The steam from the shower was a welcome relief and he relaxed as the heat worked its way through the chill of the sudden storm.

He was rubbing a towel across his hair, another wrapped loosely around his waist, when someone knocked on the door. Dean couldn't hear anything but the sound of breathing on the other side and he opened the door slowly. Penny had a blanket draped around her, damp curls brushing her bare shoulders, and she shivered. "Hey," she said when their eyes met, blushing a little because it was pretty damn obvious she was as naked as he was underneath her afghan.


"Do you want some tea or hot chocolate?" she asked. Penny's free hand came forward and traced the outline of that scar he got from the chupacabra, across the left side of his chest and down to his right hip. "Maybe some coffee to help get warm?"

"I'm plenty warm. You?"

"Still a little chilly," Penny returned. "But it's nothing some Earl Grey and a spirited game of Scrabble wouldn't fix."

"Scrabble?" Even seeing the way Penny Hillsworth smirked at him, Dean couldn't keep from sputtering a little. "You picked the wrong damn Winchester if all you wanted was to play word games."

"What happened to giving me one fuck – "

He didn't let her finish, just reached down and picked her up. "You're getting more than one," Dean growled. Penny gave a little screech and somewhere between her feet resting on the floor and Dean flipping her over his shoulder, Penny lost her afghan. She yanked at his towel with both hands, hips shivering when he braced her with one arm. By the time he found her bedroom, there was nothing left to do but throw Penny Hillsworth onto the bed.

Fuck me…

His goddamn breath stuck in his throat when he saw her, all pale skin and green eyes – her body a white flame against the comforter. Dean pushed the memory of the last time that happened aside because it was nothing more than a dream anyway and it was just déjà vu when Penny Hillsworth looked up at him from where she was sprawled on the bed, grabbing his hands with her own and pulling him down with her. It was nothing to be surprised about and nothing that couldn't be explained.

And the way she was suddenly on her knees, a hand on either side of his face while she made feathery circles across the bridge of his nose with her mouth, was totally normal. So was the gasp Penny made when Dean tilted his head just enough to begin sucking on her right nipple – skin still damp from her shower with a spicy undertone that rolled across his tongue – while she braced the back of his neck with her left hand; the other digging into his shoulder when he slid a hand between her legs.

Every single reaction could be catalogued, a touch or a breath that brought the expected result, until their mouths met and all Dean Winchester wanted was to taste Penny Hillsworth, his tongue a live wire in her mouth. Penny shifted, bending sideways just enough to reach down, a smooth rhythm that kept time to his tongue thrusting against hers. Dean pulled her down with him, landing on their sides. His hips jerked while she gave a little moan into his mouth, breaking the kiss long enough to suck on his lip.

After that, it was all he could do to mumble the obvious question – and, even then, he didn't get far. "Penny?"

"It's okay, Dean," she whispered, kissing the side of his mouth softly for emphasis. "I mean, get one if you need it or you're worried but I'm taken care of." Penny looked deep into his eyes. "I'd understand if you…"

"I'm good." Dean's voice was gruff when he said it – and that surprised him, too. Not as much as realizing that he should be getting a condom anyway and ignoring the whole idea because his skin was thrumming with the need to be cradled inside of her – warm and thrusting and full; just her body surging against his, the something more he was never allowed to have on the road. I'm not saying you need to live like a monk, Dean, but you need to take precautions. Things you need to protect.

The way things ended up with the last girl who was something more wasn't a good omen.

But that didn't keep Dean from whispering Penny's name and pushing her backwards, stroking the length of her body from shoulder to waist as she bent up into his hand. He moved on top of her, hands cradling her face as she stroked his back with her hands; fingers kneading gently into his shoulder blades as she traced scars by touch and moving from one to the other like a soft blessing. Dean moved his mouth down past her neck, listening to her sigh, and her back arched again when his lips swept down her abdomen. He brought his mouth down, licking salty skin where her thigh met her hips, and he opened her thighs – one hand on each. She jumped when his tongue flickered against her.

Penny rocked against him, body undulating, but then her hands pulled at his hair and she exhaled a ragged breath. Her green eyes were wild. "I need to taste you," Penny said, voice low in her throat and fingers scratching into his shoulders. Dean actually swallowed, so much ache wrapped up in her eyes, and her desperation almost hurt – the way she grabbed onto his thighs as he swung his body around.

They were both falling.

Dean started pumping while she whimpered and held onto his thighs and he popped out of her mouth with a scream when she bucked underneath him. Whatever she whispered came out in a sing-song voice that made him keep using his tongue and his lips and his fingers until Penny stiffened, shuddering violently before sinking back into the mattress. "Oh, God," she sighed, her hands shaky as she brushed the hair on his thighs.

"Jesus," Dean murmured. "You're a little firecracker."

"But you didn't…" Penny's voice trailed off.

Dean grinned and kissed her thigh. "We're not done yet, sweetheart." He turned around and looked at her, cheeks flushed and hair flying around her hair like she was some fucking goddamn pixie – with her green-gold eyes and a mischievous look on her face when she smiled and began tugging on his hips to get him between her thighs. She drew him into her arms, pulling his mouth down to hers, and his head felt like she'd clocked him all over again, like he was spinning backwards when she swelled around him. He let his breath go.

Dean wasn't surprised when Penny leaned back on her elbows and her hips began working against his – slow at first while he leaned down to suck on her breasts, licking the skin between and marking a trail up the soft curve of her shoulder. She flung her arms around his neck when his mouth reached hers, ankles locked at the small of his back. Dean slowed down when she cried out, throwing her head back, but then she looked up at him. "I'm not going to break," Penny said.

Penny matched each push with a twist of her hips, pulling up off the bed and bracing herself with her thighs and her arms. There was nothing but her eyes looking into his and the way their bodies writhed together, faster and faster until the bed should have been spinning and he had no idea what the hell he was saying – only that it poured out of him with a shudder, the skin on her arms red where his fingers held her down, and his chest nearly cracked open when he realized he was smiling just like he used to smile when a woman bent her body to meet his in a dance as old as time.

It was so goddamn easy to fall, watching her eyes shimmer when he was inside of her – a mystery waiting to be discovered. Penny wound her fingers through his hair while she came and Dean stammered his reply into the curve of her neck as his orgasm slammed through him.

He probably should have said something after that; used a joke to lighten the mood because the last thing he wanted to be doing was pulling out of her, slow inch by slow inch. Dean wanted to hold onto the memory of whatever he told her, reaching out and pulling her towards him before he even realized what he was doing. He folded Penny Hillsworth into his arms and the curve of her back fit direct against his chest. He watched her hair rustle with each breath against her ear.

"Why did you come back?" Penny's voice was a whisper, one small ripple into the silence.

"Thought you might need your scarf."

"I've got other scarves, Dean." Penny splayed opened his fingers, intertwining them with hers, as his hand rested on her stomach. "Maybe you should keep it," she said.

"Maybe." Dean didn't say anything more when she let go of his hand, watching her hip twist as she turned around to face him. He waited until their eyes met. "It's not like I'm going to forget you. You scarred me for life. I guess I could keep it as a good luck charm." Dean grinned. "A ward against possessed umbrellas."

Penny managed a chuckle before looking away, one hand brushing against the bruise on her forehead. "I'm not going to forget you, either," she said. Dean didn't think it was possible for one voice to sound so tiny in someone's throat and he forgot how small she was until he brushed her clavicle with his hand to get her attention instead of just letting it end easy right there – with her body shifting to get up out of bed and a look in her eyes that said she'd be figuring out where he should sleep.

It was the wrong place and the wrong time all over again.

Dean leaned in and kissed her, knowing her hands would come up around his neck and Penny would sigh into his mouth and she wouldn't let go until it was time to come up for air.

Maybe he should have remembered the ghost of Cassie Robinson or the lessons his father taught him but he was sick of losing things – even a chance that he was probably going to fuck up because he was barely holding it together as it was and there was Sam and who the hell knew what the other side would be throwing their way and he didn't have time for emo crap and she deserved a hell of a lot more than Dean Winchester could ever give her but fuck anyone who tried to make him stop falling into her. And that was the biggest surprise of all.

"Dean." Penny's hand came up to brush his cheek when he pulled back. "Don't make – "

"You learn anything besides science in that fancy school?" Dean snapped. Her eyes narrowed. "Last time I checked, Chicago's on the way to lots of places," Dean added, one hand on her chin as she tried to look away. "We don't have a schedule that says Kill the banshee in Toledo by Friday, Penny. Got some leeway sometimes."

"Like when you decided to return my scarf?" Penny's eyes were wide, like he'd smacked her in the head with something more than a football. Sometimes college girls could be a little slow on the uptake.


"Where were you headed?"

"North Carolina."

She pushed him backwards against the mattress, hands on his shoulders. "Where were you coming from?" Penny didn't wait for his answer, straddling his thighs and leaning down to lick a stripe on his neck. He was getting hard all over again.

"Nebraska." His breath came out in a stutter.

"Remind me to thank the person who taught you how to read a map." She slid down a little when he arched underneath her. Penny shifted just enough, so that all he wanted to do was throw her backwards until she was biting and scratching and screaming his name. Green eyes widened and she pushed hard, breath a hiss and nails digging into shoulders and suddenly she was trembling around him.

"You should thank me for deciding to keep an eye on you." Dean brought his hands up to her breasts. He grinned up at her and maybe he had said the wrong thing because her eyes started to fucking sparkle when they looked right into his – so goddamn full he thought they'd spill over – but then Penny was kissing him, her hair falling forward around his face with a rush of lilacs.

What the hell am I doing?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dean and Penny were already waiting for them, sitting on the stoop of her apartment building, when Sam turned the corner – Tommy lived a block away and Lynn had met them on the walk to Penny's apartment building. The weather had turned cold sometime during the night and both of them were pink-cheeked from the wind. Dean was more relaxed than Sam had seen him in weeks, leaning back on his elbows and laughing at something that Penny was telling him.

Still not the old Dean but it was a real laugh.

Penny was on her feet as soon as she saw them, leaning down to help Dean up with her hand. His older brother's hazel eyes widened when she did but then Dean grabbed it and hitched himself up. "Damn." Tommy's voice was soft. "She hasn't looked like that in a long time."

Sam started. "Like what?"

Tommy's mouth quirked up. "Like my little sister."

There wasn't much Sam could say to that, except to return the half-smile because he was pretty much thinking the same thing about Dean. Lynn ran forward to grab Penny by the hand and started dragging her down the street, her blonde head leaning close to her cousin's brunette curls. "You're in trouble," Tommy said directly to Dean as they caught up to him. "Lynn's asking for details, man."

Dean scratched underneath his ear and Sam could only shake his head. "We don't need to be at that estate sale until Wednesday morning." Sam tried to make it sound casual as Dean moved in to walk beside him. "Seems to me like we should grab some rest while we can," Sam added.

"You do something to my little brother?" Dean asked, grinning at Tommy.

Sam chuckled. He couldn't believe he was saying it, either – and the way Dean's jaw worked, he knew that his older brother was waiting for the punch line. Sam had been all about the hunt since Dad died. Always the one who stayed focused. Always the one telling Dean that he had to deal with Dad's death; not once realizing that they were probably doing that in different ways.

"We've never really had time to take in the sights before." Sam grinned. "And we've got natives to show us around for a couple of days – where the best food is, which bars to avoid."

"I'll personally guarantee that Pen won't take you to Shedd's Aquarium. She still likes to rant about the shrimp." He leaned forward when he saw the look in Dean's eye. "And whatever you do, don't ask her about it." Tommy Hillsworth chuckled. "She's absolutely convinced her petition to 'Free the Fancy Shrimp' would have worked if she'd had more signatures. If there's a lost cause out there needing a champion, she'll do it."

"Nothing wrong with that," Sam said softly, remembering the look in her eyes when he mentioned the odds the Winchesters were up against. Penny and Lynn were waiting for them at the corner, still talking quickly to each other. "So I'm up for leaving on Tuesday morning if you are, Dean."

"Fuck that, Sammy." Dean's smile reached his eyes. "We'll leave after lunch. Hell, we could leave after dinner if I shag ass."

"You'll be shagging something," Sam retorted. Dean smacked him across the back of the head. "Jerk," Sam called as Dean sprinted towards the corner.

"Bitch," Dean returned over his shoulder – and all Sam could do was shake his head when Dean was suddenly at Penny's side and he said something to her that made both Penny and Lynn laugh. Penny actually bumped into Dean's arm with hers, a cute little move that Jess used to do whenever she was walking with Sam and she felt a little flirty. Dean bumped her back, hands in his pockets.

Sometimes, Sam, you find what you need in the unlikeliest of places.


The title is a song by the Throwing Muses. Far be it from me to deny the muse (or the Throwing Muses because they kick musical ass) when the lyrics include "Love that villain on the run, he's got me spinning 'round and falling on my head."

For some reason, my brain wants nothing more than to spend time in a happier place…so I'm dragging you all with me for awhile.