Cowboy Smile

She wasn't the kind of girl you'd expect sitting behind the desk of the Hoedown Motel.

NOTE: This is an abandoned WIP. I have no intentions of finishing the story, for reasons I explain at the end of Chapter Two. For all that, it's a cool little story - even if it ends rather abruptly - and I didn't want it languishing forever on my hard drive.

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, sex, mild violence and a little gore )
Spoilers: Mentions characters up to "Hollywood Babylon."
Miscellaneous: This was written for the Beginnings challenge at spn-het-love. ysbail once again provided the push I needed to make the plot internally consistent while making me laugh. Beta(s): noirbabalon tuned into the wavelength of the characters and pointed out things I needed to tweak. misskatieleigh kicked my muse in the ass and ensured that I put the "original" back into my OFC and read more passing e-mails about this than I should admit in public. Everything in this story that rocks is because of them. The mistakes? Those are all me. Especially in Chapter Two, which was posted as I found it on my hard drive.

Chapter Two: He seemed so glad to see a woman in the flesh

Dean could mess up a gig even when he wasn't thinking with his downstairs brain.

Sam had lost count of the number of times that Dean had ended up being a total smart-ass to the person they were trying to interrogate and it wasn't the first time Dean had left Sam alone while he ran off with his shotgun like the fate of the world rested on his shoulders. But all bets were off when a pretty girl was thrown into the equation – and Sam would never put it past Dean to come up with new ways to screw things up.


It might have been nice to question the girl or get an EMF sweep of the house under their belts before Dean ran off half-cocked, hollering something over his shoulder about keeping an eye on the grandmother. He felt like a giant dork, sitting hunched over on a chair that was too small for him and trying to make conversation with the girl's grandmother while WWF Smackdown played in the background.

Even the Undertaker's battle cry couldn't drown out the rattling walls.

Sam sipped on his hot chocolate, the rum burning down his throat along with the flush creeping up his cheeks.

He looked up to find Nana smiling. She was sitting across from him in the biggest rocking chair Sam had ever seen, her feet propped up on an ottoman. Nana was wearing slippers and a thin cotton robe that skimmed her knees above a full-length white nightgown, watching him with the same color eyes as her granddaughter.

"I'm…really sorry," Sam managed. She rocked slowly in the chair, its rails clicking on the wooden floor. "He was supposed to…"

"It sounds like Bethany's no worse for the wear," she returned with another slow smile. Sam's cheeks felt like they were frozen when he grimaced back at her. "Don't fret, boy. Those two have been circling each other like itchy cats since he dragged her onto the porch," she added. Nana gestured to the bottle on the coffee table between their chairs. "Best have some more rum. If she's anything like her mama was, we're going to need it." She glanced at him sideways, mouth quirking up into a smile when a keening noise – long vowels stretched into a breathy scream – began battling with the World Wrestling Federation and reached for the bottle.

He scowled, recognizing Dean's name somewhere in the sound, and took the bottle from Nana's hand. Dean hadn't even used another name when he introduced her, just Nana. It suited her, with her thick white braid and the way she made him feel at home the moment he walked into her living room and handed him a mug of hot chocolate spiked with rum. The towel she handed him to dry off from the rain was still warm on his lap and it smelled freshly laundered.

It was the first time in months where he was sitting in a room that didn't smell antiseptic – her rambling house was a damn sight more comfortable than the motel, with its walls covered with yellow lassos and red cowboy hats on a blue background. Sam had felt like he was back in kindergarten and there was no way in hell he wanted to sleep in a room with matching red and yellow striped bedspreads on both beds and blue lampshades on its nightstands. The only draw to the Hoedown Motel was its check-in girl and Dean was the one who followed her out of the bar.

There didn't seem to be an overwhelming population of cute, well-read chicks in Bula – not that Sam was looking to get back on the horse any time soon.

But it was annoying as hell that Dean kept taking side trips after San Francisco, trying to help Sam 'get over' Madison by getting laid and getting back on the horse enough for both of them. Hello Kitty probably would have been Dean's second choice if Beth hadn't returned his smile.

And Dean just didn't get it. Madison hadn't been just about the sex and it wasn't that he tried to save her and failed – another girl lost because she was unlucky enough to hook up with Sam Winchester. He wasn't going to trust that need to connect with anyone again but at least he knew what he was losing. Dean's idea of connecting with someone was screwing her hard enough to rock a trailer, making her scream loud enough for her grandmother to crack jokes about it.

Sam wanted to tell Nana something, make another apology or explain that Dean didn't screw every granddaughter he came across, but all Sam could do was sip his hot chocolate and hope that Dean was getting a quickie. He tried concentrating on the TV, one finger picking at a threadbare spot on his armchair, but the thump of the mattress upstairs was acting in counterpoint to the grunts from the wrestlers.

Nana didn't say a word either, watching Smackdown with narrowed eyes; she stayed focused on her small television until the commercial. "You hungry, boy?" She asked the question like she expected the answer to be 'yes' and was off the chair and in the kitchen before Sam could open his mouth. Nana was handing him a plate with a big slice of chocolate cake on it, chuckling low in her throat, by the time the show started up again.

"Thank you," he said, returning her smile. "And it's Sam."

Nana snorted. "You've got spunk. I like you, Sam-boy." But a shadow crossed her face when her granddaughter's voice was suddenly joined by Dean's, the crack of the headboard against the wall clattering downstairs. "You and your brother don't have a place to hang your boots, do you?"

The closest thing they probably had was Missouri's place back in Lawrence, another cozy little house filled with old furniture and smelling like someone had spent an afternoon baking cookies. "No, ma'am," Sam answered. She sighed and leaned back in her rocker. "We've been traveling around since I was little," he added. "For my dad's job."

"Drifter blood." Nana drained her cup and set it sharply on the coffee table. The noise from upstairs had stopped. "No offense meant. It's probably the rum talking now but Hughes women love their drifters. They're not so kind to us, though. Even if one gave us Bethany." Her eyes softened. "Good thing she's not sitting next to you listening to me jabber. Sometimes, I think I embarrass her when I speak my mind."

Sam swallowed. Dean hadn't had a lot of time to tell him much, just some code on the phone about a ghost that had attacked Beth followed by directions to the house. Sam couldn't stop grinning at her during Dean's disjointed explanation about why Sam needed to be there for backup. Nana didn't buy a word of it until her granddaughter roared 'Come and get me now, you dead bastard' and Dean barreled out of the living room. Nana's face had gone white – she was still pale, underneath the bright red spots on her cheeks from the rum.

There just wasn't a good way to tell Nana that her granddaughter was being haunted – not without coming across like a lunatic – but the way she kept cracking jokes made Sam wonder if she'd believe him anyway. She never once circled the conversation back to the dead bastard her granddaughter was screaming at before the mattress started squeaking.

"Dean and I won't let anything happen to her, uh…"

"Dean is it?" Nana turned back to look at the television, eyes hard. "Anything else you're sitting there not telling me, Sam-boy?" She shifted on the touch, pouring rum into her mug and slamming it straight before she continued. "Like why two drifters are going out of their way to protect my flesh and blood from some drunk yoo-hoo? Bethany's been dealing with drunks for years."

"It's what we do." There wasn't enough rum left in the bottle to explain exactly what they did but Nana was sharp, her disbelief glaring right out of her eyes; her hands were tight around the arms of her rocking chair. Sam recognized that same stance from nature shows, a wolf protecting her young right before going for the throat.

Maybe she doesn't really know she's changing. You know maybe, maybe when the creature takes over, she blacks out.

Sam shook his head sharply. Nana watched him place a forkful of cake into his mouth and chew, his motions mechanical. A quick swallow of rum-laced hot chocolate washed it down.

"We're smack dab in the middle of old Comanche lands," she said. "The West is full of legends. Bula even has a few." Nana cocked her head. "That why you're here? Two fools following the tail of some old legend?"

"We're here for the Ladies' Man Festival." It was the best answer he could give; it even had enough of the truth wrapped in it for Sam not to feel guilty about lying to someone's grandmother.

"That explains the racket." She chuckled when the shower started going upstairs, followed by a dull thump, and shook her head. "Looks like your brother's trying to steal the title from Percival Watts."

"Percival Watts?" Sam's cheeks burned. It was better than sitting there trying to figure out what the hell Dean was doing to Beth – probably some half-assed line about needing to clean her up. He shook his head sharply.

Nana's eyes were gentle when she nodded. "He was the original Ladies' Man here in Bula. A bounty hunter who rode the trails in Texas, New Mexico and southern Colorado. Towns he visited were said to have been blessed with a bumper crop of red-haired babies, marking his passage about nine months after he rolled in."

"Was he a good bounty hunter?"

"Bethany would be the one to ask," Nana observed. "She's spent the last six months researching nothing but Percival Watts." She leaned over to add some more rum into both of their cups. "Of course, she's a mite busy right now." Nana chuckled, setting down the bottle and fingering the end of her braid. "Let's hope she's not completely hoarse once your brother's done with her." Her eyes darkened. "You boys aren't staying because of the Ladies' Man Festival, are you?"

"No." Sam's throat ached. It shouldn't have bothered him, the way she was watching him. If Dean hadn't seen the ghost himself, they'd have puttered around town square for a couple of hours in the morning until Dean got bored making fun of the whole thing and decided to continue on to New Mexico. "We're not."

Nana didn't say anything to that but she picked up her cup of rum and swallowed it down. Her eyes had the same wild look in them that Sam saw every time Dean clenched his jaw and told Sam nothing was wrong.

Bethany Amelia Hughes kissed like he was the last man on earth, holding tight as Dean pushed her against the cold tiles.

The water showered down on both of them – warm drops turning cold the longer he thrust up inside her, her feet hooked into his thighs as they rocked hip to hip. Beth's hands never stopped moving, digging into the muscles on his back or holding onto his arms while he tipped his head down to suck on her breasts; her low moan filled the small space when he took a nipple between his teeth and flicked it with his tongue, her entire body shuddering as her pulse fluttered around him.

Her hands moved up to his hair, tangling tight as she drew his mouth away from her breasts. Beth brought her lips down on his, teasing past them with her darting tongue before opening herself completely. The way she groaned into him, spreading her thighs wide when Dean started to push harder, was enough to spark sharp waves that rippled through his belly. She was slick and taut and rolling against him as fiercely as she could, back slapping into the tiles behind her as her ankles pressed into his thighs and her elbows stiffened.

"You going to come for me, sweetheart?"

"As many times as you make me," she breathed. Beth leaned her head back and braced her hands on his arms, hips bucking to accentuate every syllable. "But those who dance must pay the fiddler."

Whatever he was going to say got swallowed whole by the pressure building up and spreading through him; Dean was lost in the goose bumps rising on her thighs and her arms as her breasts pushed into his chest – groaning into her neck as he slammed her against the tiles and pinned her there. That didn't keep Beth's hips from crashing into his, drawing him in and out of her pussy until he roared into her and she cried out his name so loudly the people getting their room ready in Hell could hear them.

Cold water splashed on his back, making him shiver every time a drop touched the scratches Beth had left there.

Beth was still kissing him as he lifted her up by the hips, her legs sliding slowly down his until her feet were resting on the bottom of the tub. Dean hissed into her mouth as she slipped off the condom, reaching around his back and depositing it somewhere outside the shelter of the shower curtain.

"You don't believe in personal boundaries, do you?"

"You didn't figure that out when I was standing there naked with my rifle?" Beth grinned at him, soap in one hand as she started lathering it up on his chest, but the ghost was still in her eyes no matter how many times she kissed him.

"I just figured you were happy to see me."

"I…" She shivered. "I was." Beth's hand slipped down into his. "It's not every day a bona fide knight in shining armor stumbles into the front lobby with his baby brother and a shotgun full of rock salt."

"There's no way you could have recognized me with my shotgun in the car." Dean said it mildly, pitching it as a joke because Beth had started trembling. "Hey," he added, brushing one thumb down her cheek when she tilted up her head. Most of the color had drained from Beth's face, making her freckles stand out, and dark hair dripped around her shoulders. She looked like she'd just seen Percival Watts all over again, down to the wet hair and that rabbit-scared look in her eyes.

"You…" He gulped a mouthful of cold water from the shower. "You're handling this thing pretty well."

"Because it's real brave to keep screwing the man who's keeping me safe," Beth retorted. "You really do like telling me stories, don't you? Only this one has me turning into some kind of heroine instead of the yoo-hoo who works in her family's motel writing bad romance novels."

"You're the…yoo-hoo…that grabbed her gun to protect her grandmother." It sounded stupid even when it was inside of his head and there was no way in hell he was touching the romance novel thing with a ten foot pole; it explained why Beth had that stupid idea about him being a good man. "That took – "

Beth draped her arms around his neck and hitched herself up, cutting him off with a desperate kiss that made his stomach jerk. Dean slammed her against the tiles again, getting ready to leave another wet trail across her breasts before pounding inside her, but she pulled back with a small sigh. "All it took was the rum Nana used to spike my hot cocoa, Dean." She lowered her head. "There's no telling what you'll do with half a bottle inside your belly."

"So what you're really trying to tell me, Bethany, is that you're only screwing me because you're drunk?"

She didn't answer immediately, unfolding her arms and rubbing him all over with the bar of soap she still held tightly in her right hand. Beth gave another tiny sigh, wrapping soapy fingers around his length with a lopsided little smile, and he pinned her arms behind her back with his own just to get her to stop because otherwise they'd hit round three before Sam finished whatever snack Nana was forcing him to eat. Dean had finished off two pieces of cake and a ham sandwich before Sam had showed up with the car.

"I guess you're going to have to wait to find out," Beth said. She was still trembling but the smile she gave him wasn't forced. "After you sort out this whole Percival Watts thing, I'll be thanking you properly for ignoring all those girls in wet t-shirts just to spend some time with me."

Dean leaned down to pluck another kiss out of her, bending her backwards as his tongue picked up speed. She smelled clean and all he wanted to do was throw her back down onto her bed and chase that scent across her skin, some check-in girl he met in another weird ass motel. But she was shaking and damn if that didn't make him want to protect her, to tell her everything was going to be okay because he and Sam were going to find that bastard's bones and burn them until Percival Watts was nothing but ash.

"I better get to work," he said softly.

Beth didn't say anything to that, either – just gave a small nod and reached behind him to turn off the water. She pulled back the shower curtain, stepping out gracefully and reaching for one of the towels she'd set out on the counter. Beth handed it right to him, ignoring the fact that she stood there shivering while he set his feet on the bathmat.

It only seemed chivalrous to dry her off first.

Nana was telling Sam Winchester the story about the tadpoles, the ones she rescued from the pond out back and tried to grow in a fish tank because Uncle Walter was threatening to have it seeded with fish – an old-fashioned swimming hole that was supposed to add 'down-home ambiance' to the motel. It wasn't the first stupid idea he'd come up with and, given his marketing skills, it sure as hell wouldn't be the last. Uncle Walter had no business acumen but that didn't keep him from telling anyone who would listen that Beth's degree gave her delusions of grandeur – that it wasn't worth the paper it was printed on without the benefit of 'practical experience.'

She wasn't the one egging on high school kids for cheap publicity.

Beth shook her head sharply, eyes focusing on her grandma's rocking chair. Nana had Sam bending over the coffee table to look at the photo album that she flipped through on her lap, fingers brushing against the plastic covering up the pictures. "And here's Bethany skinny-dipping with a jar to get her tadpoles." Nana chuckled, whipping her eyes towards the hallway. "She always did have a habit of shucking off her clothes on the tiniest whim."

"Nana!" Beth leaned up against the hallway arch. "The poor boy doesn't want to see pictures of my bare bottom."

"The poor boy's been bright red since you started yowling," Nana retorted, gently closing the photo album despite all the fire in her voice. She shifted in her rocking chair, pulling her robe tightly around her stomach and holding it with her arms. "Pictures of your bare bottom are nothing compared to that, Bethany Amelia Hughes," Nana added. There was a gleam in her eye that made Beth grin impudently.

The Winchesters probably thought they were both a little crazy, careening from one thought to the next because of the rum. They were really in for it when she and Nana reached the boiling point and they started giggling like little girls.

But she didn't feel much like laughing. Nana had left windows open again and the air outside was cool from the storm, the breeze blowing through her like she was just a shadow, and Beth was nowhere near warm now that Dean was no longer touching her. She pulled the sleeves of her sweatshirt down around her hands, bunching them up into fists to keep the elastic in place, but she answered Nana's frank stare with a smile of her own. "I'm just following my grandma's advice," Beth said softly.

She was going to take Dean Winchester to her bed again, when all of this was over, and there was no shame in the wanting.

Even Nana hadn't been alone long when Grandpa died, taking on with Millard at the Four Sisters Café. Nana never let anyone make her feel shame for that, even with half the town thinking that she was too old to be sparking with a man half her age – telling Beth to climb back up into the tree after Ryan Colefield had left her the week before the wedding; if she closed her eyes, Beth could feel one hand trembling as Nana stroked her hair – all those whispers that everything would work itself out the way that it was meant to if she had a little faith.

But there was the problem of manners.

"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you, Sam," Beth said softly. "Nana's always telling me not to be so enthusiastic about things." She shivered again, moving as far away from the window as she could. The cold was getting worse, icy fingers in her belly where that thing had blustered through her with an angry wail. She wasn't going to breathe a word about that while Nana was sitting there watching her with hooded eyes, sipping rum out of her mug.

Whatever dark things Nana was thinking only got worse when Dean plopped down next to Beth on the couch, making no attempt to hide his shotgun full of rock salt. Sam's blue-green eyes went wide when Beth reached back and pulled the comforter off the couch. He leaned forward and handed her a mug full of rum before Beth had tucked her feet underneath the fold, shooting Dean a look. If they'd been playing poker, it would have been one hell of tell.

And all of that was underscored by the dark look in Nana's eyes, like she was getting ready to propel herself out of her rocker straight at Dean. But her grandma just pulled the robe tighter and looked at her expectantly before rolling her eyes and turning that gaze on Dean. "Your parents ever teach you good manners, boy?" she asked.


Beth blinked. The grin never even made an appearance.

"Shouldn't I be the one sitting with a shotgun on my lap?" Nana's voice was light and there was something like a smile flickering across her face.

"Just making sure we have something to scare off that drunk who accosted Bethany," Dean answered matter-of-factly. Beth didn't imagine the second look that passed between Dean and his baby brother. "In case he comes back to finish what he started."

Nana's mouth twisted. "I know whatever attacked my granddaughter wasn't a drunk." She took another sip from her mug. "And none of us are going anywhere until you all tell an old woman what's going on, Dean."

He had the grace to flush when caught in a lie by a grandma but he kept his mouth shut, glaring at Sam like he'd given away more than a name. Neither one of them knew that Nana could sniff out a falsehood faster than a bloodhound. And she already believed in ghosts. Walt doesn't believe me, Bethany, but I saw the little boy again – standing right where you are now. Beth was the one who thought that Nana was cute about it, keeping witch's balls in every window of her bedroom and hanging the biggest dream catcher Beth had ever seen over her bed.

Nana's superstitions were just supposed to be stories she told to her friends in college, things they laughed about over dinner.

"I…" Her voice trailed off. "Nana – "

"I should be the one to tell her." Dean's voice was sharp and his mouth set like he wasn't expecting an argument.

"Why the hell should you be the one to tell her?" Beth folded her arms tight across her stomach. It's not that she minded the protective tone – Dean Winchester had earned the right after he picked her up from a muddy road and let her bawl on his jacket – but Bethany Amelia Hughes had never liked being told what to do no matter how pretty the man was. "Last time I checked, Nana was my grandma."

"I don't care who tells me," Nana interrupted with a hissing whisper, her eyes as wild as the day they found out Mama had left with her new man. "All I know is some drifter dragged my Bethany onto the porch and both of them looked like they'd just seen a ghost when they stumbled through my front door."

It was Beth's turn to share a startled look with Dean Winchester because his baby brother reached over and put a hand on Nana's arm. "They did," Sam Winchester said, in a voice as calm as Grandpa had used whenever she scraped her knee or an elbow and he was keeping her from crying. Dean's mouth hung open, shutting with an abrupt snap as his jaw worked. "It's…what we do, Nana," Sam added. "Saving people."

There wasn't a lie anywhere in his blue-green eyes.

"Do you think I'm some foolish country hick, Sam-boy?" Nana looked into her mug with a half-broken slump in her shoulders, running one finger along the mouth of the cup. It was Mama and it was Grandpa and it was everyone else they'd lost all rolled into one because Beth was all that Nana had left. The only thing keeping Beth from hopping off the couch and rushing to Nana's side was the ragged way Nana's breath worked, pulling the same sound out of her with a stitch in her side that hurt.


"I was hoping you weren't going to say that." Nana frowned, taking another swallow from her cup before slamming it on the coffee table. When she poured more rum into the mug, Dean nudged Beth's foot with his boot and shot Beth a grin that lasted all of five seconds before his expression changed and he was back to eyeing the room like he was waiting for an excuse to cock his shotgun.

She swallowed. Nana's hand was shaking but the way Nana squared her shoulders when their eyes met made Beth feel guilty for wishing that she was dragging Dean Winchester upstairs and pulling him with her back into her big bed just to stay warm. Beth took another gulp of rum from her mug.

It was going to be a long night.

Nana was taking the news better than Sam thought she would. The only outward sign of distress was the way her hand shook when she poured rum back into her mug, followed by a look at her granddaughter that made Sam squeeze the hand on Nana's arm. It was the wolf all over again, trying to figure out a way to take out anything that threatened her young, and it reminded him of Dad. There was no line John Winchester hadn't crossed for his sons.

"Guess the joke's on Walt. He said I was just seeing things every time I saw that little Indian boy in the kitchen." She set down her mug and patted his hand before pulling hers away, sucking in a breath. Nana's eyes settled on Dean's shotgun. "But there's a world of difference between Bethany's ghost and mine if you're sitting there with a gun. Those things work on ghosts?"

"Not usually." Dean's voice was rough, sounding like sandpaper in his throat.

"I don't see anything different with your shotgun than mine," Nana retorted. She was on her feet before Sam could stop her. "And you're an idiot if you think I'm going to sit here and do nothing while the thing that attacked my granddaughter is out there." The steel in her voice made Dean close his mouth and lower his head and even Sam was willing to let her help, both of them trained to obey every order snapped in that tone. "I'm going for my gun."

"No you're not, Nana." Beth sat up straight on the couch, the afghan falling around her waist enough for Sam to see the NYU logo on her sweatshirt. "Dean's got rock salt in his gun. Bullets won't work." She was still holding her elbows tight against her body but her mug of rum trembled in her hands. "And Sam said this is what they do. Granpda was always saying to trust our hunt to a Winchester." Beth's face lit up in a smile and the afghan moved near her foot, pushing out to brush against Dean's boot. "We've got two."

"It doesn't exactly engender good faith knowing they're named after a rifle." Nana snorted but her smile when Dean suddenly started scratching underneath his ear was enough; Sam didn't realize he was holding his breath until he exhaled. Nana sat back in her chair, picking up her mug. "Guess there's nothing to do but finish off the rum," she added, draining her mug.

"Two drunk Texas girls aren't really going to help," Beth retorted. She rubbed hard up and down her arms. "Can we close some of the windows?" Her teeth were actually chattering and she pulled the afghan up over her arms. "I think I caught a chill."

"Must have been all that time you spent in the shower." Nana's tone was light as she got up out of the rocking chair, closing the nearest window. She touched her hand to Beth's shoulder and frowned until Beth smiled up at her. "You're shaking like a dog on the scent. I'm making you more hot chocolate." Nana turned on her heel and walked briskly into the kitchen.

Beth's smile disappeared and a hand shot out from underneath the afghan to grab Dean's arm. He jumped back when her hand touched down on bare skin. "Shit!" It came out as a hiss. "How long have you been freezing your ass off, Bethany?"

"It's gotten worse since we…came downstairs," she stammered. "I think it's because of Percival Watts."

"The bounty hunter?" Sam asked.

Beth nodded, dark eyes flickering to the kitchen where her grandmother was humming loudly to herself. "I didn't want to say anything in front of Nana because she'll worry too much about it." She looked down where Dean was rubbing her hand, both of them realizing it at the same time. Sam snorted when Dean pulled a stretching yawn to move his hand away.

"We should probably start at the beginning," Sam said, grinning at Dean. "Before Dean took matters into his own hands."

"Beth got attacked by Percival Watts after she left the bar." Dean frowned, but the look he flashed towards Sam let him know that Dean was deliberately ignoring the jab. Sam had an earful coming about it the moment they were alone. "I didn't make it in time. The damn thing was caterwauling about her never leaving him and it knocked her down when she started to run."

Beth was shaking underneath her afghan. "It blew right through me."

Sam grabbed the blanket on the back of his chair and threw it on top of her, trying to remain calm as he tucked it around her arms. "What do you mean blew right through you?" It was a start, something to research while Dean kept guard over the girl. And if he could keep her talking, it would help to calm her down – help conserve her energy enough to keep her warm.

"He rammed into me. When…" She shook her head sharply. "When I started getting up, I rolled onto my back and it felt…" Beth sighed. "It felt like an icicle burst through my belly and I thought I saw a shadow of him looking down at me. His smile…"

"And you've been cold ever since?" Sam asked softly. It wasn't unusual for ghosts to change temperatures as part of their manifestation – if the thing had actually rammed itself inside of her, it might have left something residual behind. But he'd never heard of a ghost leaving something inside of someone before. Dean's face was so white, Sam couldn't even see the freckles, and his jaw clenched.



Yes, I researched the World Wrestling Federation for this. The things I do for the fandom… If you knew how big a sacrifice I have just made for all of you. You have no idea.

The Star Trek combat music. Seriously. You know the background music I'm talking about. It should SO be in a porn movie. And Dean would totally screw to it.

"Those who dance must pay the fiddler" is a quote from Laura Ingalls Wilder. It always struck me that a literary girl like Beth would know it. (Plus, it's also quoted by my favorite character in Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.)

I did my best to research the area to determine if tadpoles were plausible. The pictures I was able to uncover for Bailey County, where Bula is located, do show trees with scrub and not a desert. Unfortunately, I was having a hard time researching the weather patterns in the area for moisture but the number of trees in pictures of neighboring communities at least point to the possibility of tadpoles. There are also some fishing areas in the county, so...I kept the tadpoles. If there are no tadpoles in the county, I'll be suitably distraught.

As for calling amnesty on this WIP... I just didn't connect with Beth the way that I wanted to - she always seemed uneven to me when I was writing her, which came out specifically in this chapter. I had originally intended this to be the beginning of a three-story 'verse. There were several themes about Dean and Sam that I wanted to write and this was supposed to be the story where I did. But then I had the Beth problem - and the stories I had planned didn't seem to address what I really wanted to say. I was using the wrong character as the narrator and I had started the story too late.

And so I set the story aside.

I know it seems like all I'm doing lately is posting my unfinished work. I'm doing it to help clear my brain - I just have too many WIPs that I want to finish and this one isn't on the list. But what I said up there is true: I was using the wrong character and I had started the story too late. I might not have found my hook with Beth, but she is the spiritual predecessor of a bare-foot Kentucky farm girl that I like to call Alice Meeks. And she is the right character and her story starts exactly where it needs to. Your Sorrow for Another Coin is everything that Cowboy Smile is not.

It did have a kick-ass case file, though.