Slivers of heavy eyelids struggled to open and latch upon any image. With each slow breath, Dean struggled to regain focus on an opalescent world. A small murmur parted his lips as his head rolled the grogginess away. Slowly, color started to emerge from the milk white and his muddled sight was like sidewalk chalk after a pouring rain. Yet, Dean didn't need to have clear vision to appreciate the form before him. A sweet set smile spread over his lips. Woozily, he forced his hand to cup and caress the gentleness of her cheek. His hand felt wetness beneath it. The sensation of his right hand upon her face, welled more tears from her eyes. A relief smile tugged upon the frown on her plump lips.

Attempting to hold back a sniffle, her voice unsuccessfully hid the worry for him. She cupped her hand over his while her other hand brushed his forehead gently. Her voice tried to unsuccessfully hide her worry for him. "Do you have to scare me all the time!" The cadence cracked when a moment passed without answer. "Are you with me?" A thickness coated her throat, but she managed to eek out, "Please."

"Hey, I'm okay to just need to rest up. I was more worried about you." He spoke slowly and flashed the award-winning cocky grin like only Dean Winchester could. "Are you okay?"

"Am I okay!!! Are you okay! Sam told me that you were going to be fine, but you have been out for so many hours...that.." Emotion stole her voice and a loud sob grappled at her throat. He moved his finger beneath her hand. She wrapped her fingers into his.

"I'm fine... just a little fuzzy." He shook his head to ward off some of the haze, but the world was still off focus. He tried to pull himself up, but the ache in his ribs reminded him to go slow. The pain helped to clear his head enough now to notice he was resting in the backseat of the Impala and his brother's absence. He couldn't help the automatic alarm in his voice "Where's Sam!?" This concern grew even more when he noticed the blaze burning behind him.

Aurora's farmhouse had been lit ablaze and the first floor had been engulfed by flames. "What the hell is that?!! Where's SAMMY!" Despite that Dean wasn't sure if the fire was part of the haziness to his mind, he couldn't help freaking out a bit when Sam was concerned..

Aurora found amusement in Dean's confusion. "Sam's fine. He is taking care of things."

"What things?!"

"He is ditching the sheriff's car and getting my truck."

"What?" A bit of concern still flavored his words.

"Spare key! Okay! Don't get your panties in a wad." Her tone was the polar opposite of her body language as she still provided attention and affection to Dean. A much softer understanding tone slipped in when she saw the anxiety in Dean's eyes. "Sam's fine.. really, he's okay. Sam and I have been busy while you were napping. We kind of had some messes... besides your injuries..Are you sure you are okay???"

"I'll live... I think."

"That's not funny...still not funny. Sam figured there was not way to explain how the sheriff and those things ended up dead in my house, so we figured we would destroy the evidence that I was still alive."

Dean looked at her oddly. Somehow her saying this place and she wouldn't exisit anymore bothered him.

"Well, if you can think of a better way to get rid of three bodies, you can let me know, Mr. Peabody."

There it was, the snark that he thought might match his own. His lips curled in a deeper smirk and his other hand grasped the hand that caressed his forehead. He brought the encased hand to his lips and planted a gentle kiss upon it.

Her shoulders loosened, but he knew the confusion within her had been deepened the past days. His satisfaction grew as he felt empowered by the reaction he could cause within her. Dean's fogginess lessened and his voice floated back to the subtle nuances that she knew well. "You sure about this?"

"I'm not sure about anything, but I'm sure that I can't stay here anymore…. I just…..I don't have anything here... I guess I didn't really have anything after Philip died…… I just don't think I have anything here for me. And after what I did…. I can't go back in that house…those…...Brooke's eyes…...she." Her body shook with remorse and shock of a first kill.

"Hey...what do you think you could do now?"

"I might find a way to help somehow."

Dean snickered at envisioning Aurora as a hunter, possibly the world's worst hunter ever. "I don't think our gig is quite what the world has in mind for you." He fought hard to not be critical of her newfound plan, but the idea of her going into the business was alarming. "Otherwise it could be bad for the rest of us."

In some strange way, she seemed to understand the ideas in Dean's mind. "Believe me, I have no intention of ever doing anything like that ever again." Her face grew sadder and drifted to a place that he recognized too well. It'd been that place that drew them both together. He tried to push his body up from his abdomen.

"Careful!" Her hands let go of him as she fidgeted to ease him up.

"It's my leg. I ain't Dead."

"Don't joke about that..." Her voice grew softer with pain, sorrow, and worry. "If you had..."

It felt alien strange to Dean that anyone would miss his presence. The softness and rarest side of Dean spilled out."Hey.."

He didn't find time to finish his sentence, as Aurora leaned forward and kissed him passionately. Pain seared in his leg, but he met the ardor in her lips in typical full throttle fashion.

A pleased groan and a pain grunt alternated from him, not that he wanted her to stop. Finally, the angle of his leg caused a louder groan. She startled back.

"Oh, God! I'm so sorry!"

"I wasn't complaining. But kissing a man like that when he is down... that's not playing fair. Tease.."

"Something tells me you don't play fair!"

He tilted his head in a cocky fashion and flashed the patented concupiscent smile. "Who me?" His hand was already in her hair and pulling her back to his lips.

For a few seconds their lips grazed lightly and playfully. She laughed and her hands cupped around his face. "You know, you are totally screwy and messed up!" She said humorously.

"Hmmm.. good... So are you." With that they locked lips again. They forgot everything, but the sensation of connection between them. Suddenly, Dean was more aware of his surroundings. His head was clearing and he realized she was trying to say goodbye.

She broke away and turned her face away from him. Her hands covered her lips quivering good-bye to him. His hand still rested upon the side of her face. "Hey, you know, everyone is going to think you died in the blaze. You're free to do whatever you want."

"You're trying to make this easier aren't you?" Whatever hold she had over her emotions faded. A tear fell down her vermillion stained cheek.

Dean some quickly wiped it away as his hand moved to cup her face and turn her towards him.

He pulled her to him, feeling her tremble in his arms. His eyes focusing on the blaze behind him. Yet another fire destroyed a place that felt like a home to him. The universe gave him a taste of what he had always dreamed of- a home. He wanted it so badly and fell into so easily- that feeling of security. He knew he cared about this woman in a way he had never experienced before, but didn't know what to call it. For the moment, it was enough to know he felt comfortable in his own skin. He was thankful she had given him the one thing he never expected- a sense of belonging. For one time Dean Winchester was good enough in the eyes of another. The comfort of that warmed him and pained him. "I want you to live. Be happy and have all the things you ever wanted."

She wasn't trying to hold back anything anymore. Her face was full of tears- goodbye, pain, regret, and longing for some happiness that she could never seem to find. "If I could have what I want…you would..." Her words were stopped as she stifled a sob.

"Hey...I... you have to do something for me... I want you to have something I can never have..." Dean lied to himself as his wish was not only something he could have, but really didn't believe he deserved it. "You deserve to be happy...I want you to find someone and be happy for me. Have kids...a house... a life..." Dean found himself drifting to a place he didn't want to go. A normal life was not the one this world had afforded him. He wasn't going to fool himself that he could have happiness or normalcy in the life fate had chosen. Somehow the thought of Aurora living a good life, gave him some small comfort of knowing he had given someone a life he or Sam could not give themselves. Sometimes, the people they saved was all they had to keep them going. But, this one was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring. "Promise me!"

"I want you to be happy too...I can't promise."

"I don't have alot of time anymore. I know it sounds stupid, but I want to leave some good things behind. Sam is one and knowing you are going to be okay will be another one. If one day.. Sammy..if he needs a friend...Can you be there for him?" He crackled, imagining his brother alone for the first time. Finally, admitting the pain he was going to cause to Sam.

Words failed her and her head jiggled. Longing for him threatened to break was all she had left. "Promise me you'll take care of yourself and Sam." Her hand cupped his stubble chin once more. "You know… your brother Sam; he's not the only one worth it. You gave me back my humanity when I thought it was worthless. And you... both you and Sam give so openly and bravely without expectations. And I have a soft spot for you in particular."

Again, Dean felt awestruck that somehow another person found him so worthy. He was even more amazed that another person kept him as off guard as Aurora had. His mind raced to find some comment to stop the heightened emotions from boiling.

Again, time to think was short as Aurora's lips latched upon his again. Forcing her lips to say goodbye when voices would not dare speak, she regretted what she didn't want to happen.

They both faded into the comfort of that moment of their lips, letting nothing but the raw energy between them ebb and flow. Neither knew how long they stayed that way, allowing their lips to say all the things that words cannot. A strange light sorrow encased them as the longing in their lips was apparent.

"AHEM!" sounded loudly, but they refused to stop. Sam chuckled seeing the tender exchange between Aurora and Dean. He hated to interrupt, but they needed to move on before someone found the fire. Sam added Aurora to the list of things for Dean to explain. But this time, he had his own experience to answer for. Maybe for one time, this time, it would be best not to know or explain. It was akward and uncomfortable enough for him to think about what happened in that barn, much less explain it to Dean. He anticipated one day, Dean saying something derrogatory in an attempt to be humorous. He wondered what part of the gutter garden Dean would put the idea of three women. Abandoning his need to share or know, Sam coughed louder "AHEM!"

Aurora broke away and quickly shuffled her frame to the Impala's door. Leaving Dean in the backseat, she paused for several seconds to stare at him as if she was etching everything about the man that had possibly messed up her life more or had possibly made if full in some strange way. All she knew was the heaviness she felt was just as poignant and defeating as losing Philip. Hopping out, she walked past Sam and grasped Sam hand without uttering a word. She had no words left.

"Yeah, I'll take care of us both and you're welcome." Sam understood instantly.

"Thanks..." She managed to meek out.

In that moment, Sam smiled, knowing that finally Aurora's walls were broken down. And the time he spent with her patching up Dean had given him the sense perhaps a bit of Dean's walls were exposed too. For whatever reason, Dean now had more to regret.

He walked with her towards her truck, but she stopped him halway. "One day, when he needs some strength, when he is most afraid- remind him that he's worth it."

A chuckle passed Sam's lips. "Yeah he forgets that too damn often."

"Hey, Sam...if you ever need me for anything?"

"Thanks. You may be sorry you ever offered."

"Never."

Sam wanted to say something profound to this woman, but instead, she took the keys from Sam's extended hand and staggered to her truck.

Sam let her go and returned to his brother to go about their own journey. He hopped in the driver seat, adjusted the mirror to view Dean and not the open road, and then inserted the key. Out of the side mirror he glanced back at the blaze and the strange woman. He was glad they had crossed paths with her, feeling more was at work here than any scheme he had to save Dean. He waited briefly, saying thanks in his mind.

Aurora climbed in her own truck and closed her eyes. Refusing to look at Impala, she waited until she heard the engine roar and gears shuffle into place. She opened her closed eyes to watch the tail lights of the car fade down the road that she had traveled many times. Her eyes locked upon the staring face of Dean as he watched her fade into the distance. An outpouring of emotions fell from her. She didn't know if she could make it in this world now. The man that was leaving her had changed her view of the world and the bitterness of loss was strong. With regret, she started her engine turned down the opposite way.

Dean stared at the tail lights of Aurora truck fading away from him. He quietly sat controlling his breathing. She reminded him of something painful for his family in a world in which a normal life couldn't exist for him. It wasn't fair to either of them. But with the short time he had left all he could give was a year. Now, that year seemed shorter and not enough. It wasn't fair that this world kept reminding him of the things he was leaving behind. Sam was more than enough to make his heart lurch, knowing he was leaving his brother alone. But in a short period of time, the universe had show him the possibliies of love: A woman, Aurora, who could love him and a son, Ben, who could have been his. He quietly thought they both should have been his. And these thoughts were killing him more than any blade or gun ever could.

The backseat had grown so quiet, Sam shifted uncomfortably. Sam had been worried during this hunt about his brother. The quietness in the backseat held Sam in apprehension to speak and he wanted to wait for Dean to open up. It seemed to be the wrong time to ask. But Sam had made up his mind that whatever time they had left, he wasn't going to leave anything unsaid. "So, when he first got into town, something was bothering you. I want..."

"Sammy, can you promise me something," Dean finally turned away from the rearview window and stared at his brother. "When I'm gone, you promise me……. you'll make a life for yourself." A slight crackle of remorse reflected in Dean's speech. "I want you to have a normal life, Sam. I want…I want you to be happy to."

"Dean, don't say things like that! I'll find a way to save you!" Sam's voice was caught between bitterness and mourning. It was going to be a hard year. It was like every day some small part of Sam felt a loss that had not yet occurred. "I promise to save YOU and NOTHING else." Sam waited for an arguement.

Dean's lip jutted and quivered. He didn't think

he was capable of many more words and definitely wasn't capable of handling any more emotions this day.

A smile spread across Sam's face knowing what his brother was trying to do. He knew the most profound thing to say to his brother at this moment- one flavored with the Dean Winchester emo deflextion handbook. "I plan to be behind you in line when we're 82 buying rock salt, bullets, and Depends." Sam glanced at his brother in the rearview mirror.

Seeing his brother's hand wiping at his face before he is lowered his head and nodded. Sam grew concern for a second, but the sound of his brother's laughter spilled out from Sam's last comment. When Dean raised his head, only one word could respond to that. "BITCH!"

"Jerk!" Sam laughed. Soon both brothers were laughing heartily at the idea of geriatric Winchester's still fighting the good fight.

-x-x-x-x-x -----THE END-----x-x—xx-x-x