California. Dean had never really understood the place, It was fake, so full of everyone trying to be better than the next person and they were more than willing to crawl over the top of each other to do it. Nowhere was that more apparent than in Los Angeles. City of Angels as it was called. Dean wouldn't have been surprised to discover that those angel's had all had boob jobs and their teeth capped for that "perfect" Hollywood smile.

It was unnatural as the underbelly of this city that the good citizens tried to ignore, turning a blind eye to the murders, the disappearances, all the dirty little things that hid in the shadows or came out at night to hunt and kill.

Dean had only come to California to check on his brother, Sam. Wanting to know he was safe, that he was doing ok at Stanford. It still hurt to think of the night Sam had left, walking out on Dean and his father, walking out on their life because he wanted "normal". What the hell was normal anyway? Why was the need for a normal life so important, that Sam had turned his back on his brother, tearing his heart out in the process?

Dean was pretty sure he'd never understand. He wouldn't have even been in Palo Alto, if it hadn't been for the sighting of a Bruja. Dean had managed to take the bitch down, but not before she had killed a number of street kids. It hadn't been the result Dean had wanted, but at least he'd saved others from suffering the same fate and not long afterwards, he'd gotten wind of a series of disappearances in LA that had sounded like his sort of thing. Dean had only been hunting alone for a couple of months, since Sam had fled to college and the Winchester family had torn open at the seams. He was pretty sure his father hadn't meant to make Dean feel rejected when he suggested he hunt alone…but that was exactly how it had felt. Like he wasn't good enough anymore to hunt with his father, like the very sight of him was enough to remind John of how Dean had failed as a brother and was somehow responsible for Sam leaving.

Even now, standing in a room full of people, Dean felt alone. It was some stupid LA style hobnob event, where everyone who was anyone was ass kissing and making themselves seen by those who mattered. Those who didn't matter? Tried even harder to be noticed.

Except for Dean…and one other guy he'd spotted earlier. Tall, dark haired and yeah, he was handsome son of a bitch, but Dean could tell he wasn't comfortable around this crowd. Maybe he really did bat for the other team? Although judging by the way he reacted when some Hollywood type gave him a card? Changed Dean's mind on that too.

Ok, so if the guy wasn't here to schmooze the LA types…why was he here? The pretty blonde he had come in with? She looked more Midwest than Mae West….obviously someone who had come to Hollywood with a dream and found it a nightmare.

Dean turned back to the crowd, just watching, keeping it low key, but turning on the charm if anyone looked his way. Hey, he could do Hollywood…he had a car full of fake ID's…how was this anything else but another acting gig, being someone he wasn't?

Then Dean spots her. She's stunning. It's the only word that comes to mind as he lays eyes on the most beautiful woman in the room. Long, straight brunette hair…a rack to die for and well, this girl knew how to look after herself because her body is curved in all the right places. Her skin is flawless, her eyes sparkling with a zest for life and ambition. Oh yeah…this girl knows what she wants in life.

Dean watches her as she plays the crowd, knowing who to talk to, who to put on a show for. He guesses she was a cheerleader in high school, the confidence factor is a dead giveaway. This girl knows how to draw attention to herself and lives for the limelight.

But as he watches her with a hunter's attention to detail, there are things Dean sees that he knows no-one else does. Little things. Like the way she sneaks a few of those ridiculously small sandwiches into her handbag. The way her dress is spotless, but well maintained…she's worn it more than once and that is unheard of in LA.

Another aspiring actress and by the looks of it, she hasn't gotten her break yet. That makes her perfect fodder for Dean's target if she's at this party. The hostess' name, had popped frequently in regards to all the missing women along with some guy called Russell Winters. Lots of money, a golden boy of the city….and by all accounts in the underworld…a vampire. Something that's supposed to be extinct and sure as hell will be if Dean gets his way.

Right now, she's deep in conversation with the tall dark and handsome guy Dean saw earlier. Judging by the way she looked when they saw each other? They've met before. Friends? Maybe…it's hard to tell even after she blows the guy off to schmooze a couple of producers.

" My god, your beautiful…"

" Excuse me?" Dean scowls, not liking the fact those words came from a guy's mouth.

He finds a card thrust in his face. " You're a model."

" Uh…yeah…just done a spread in GQ, last month." Dean shrugged, turning the charm up by a thousand watts as he was put on the spot.

" I knew it. It's the lips….maybe the eyes. Such a beautiful man. If you need an agent, call me. I'm Oliver. Ask anyone. I'm a fierce animal…I can get you into any show you'd like. TV, movies…whatever your pleasure. I'm your agent as soon as you call me." Oliver was smooth…too smooth for Dean as the guy gave him the once over with seductive eyes.

" Thanks, Oliver…I'll keep that in mind." Dean gave him a dazzling smile, then slipped away to grab yet another expensive imported beer. As he stood by the buffet table, his elbows connected with someone, almost upending their wineglass over them. " Oh hey, I'm sorry.."

" Do you realize how much this dress co-" The words dried up in Cordelia's throat as she locked eyes with the most handsome guy she'd seen in the room…apart from Angel, but hey, he was vampire and Buffy's ex therefore so not in the running.

" Can I get you another glass?" Dean offered, his voice soft and polite. It was his usual MO to turn on the bad boy smirk and attitude, watching the women fall for his act hook, line and sinker. But Dean had been watching this girl…he knew she would see right through that. " I mean, it's the least I can do since I almost made a complete idiot of myself there."

" So you know Margo?" Cordelia asked, wondering if this fine specimen was connected? How lucky would that be? Finding a hottie like this who could also help her get a foot in the door?

" Margo? Oh..right..Margo. Uh, yeah, I mean everyone knows, Margo, right?" He gave her a genuine smile and watched the way her pupils dilated. Oh yeah…even when he was sincere, he had it. " I'm Dean by the way…Dean Winchester."

" Like the rifle?"

" Yeah, like the rifle. But meaner." He couldn't resist saying that, giving her more of his patented smirk in the process. Dean flinched inwardly as he saw the slight roll of her eyes. Damn…he'd pegged her right the first time, she knew a player when she saw one.

" Cordelia Chase." She offered in return, before she gave him a sympathetic smile. " Keep trying, Dean…it might work for the next girl you accidentally bump into. If she's desperate, that is."

Dean had been slapped, kicked, even dropped with a pretty solid left hook before by a farm girl he'd tried to pick up in Ohio. But the cutting way Cordelia had shot him down hurt more…simply because for once, Dean hadn't been openly trying to pick up. He'd just slipped up out of habit. Chalking it up to experience, Dean drained his beer and decided to call it a night. There was nothing here that was a solid lead for him. Maybe he needed to dig a little more, see what surfaced? Casting one last regretful look in Cordelia's direction, Dean left the party, still kicking himself for blowing that chance.

It only took day for Dean to get the lead he needed and in that time, Russell Winters claimed another victim…a girl called Tina, little miss Midwest that Dean had seen at the party. At first, he'd thought the dark haired guy she'd been with was involved…but it turned out his was just some guy trying to help out.

Not that Dean really cared who the guy was. He had what he needed…Winter's address. Now all he had to do was slip in, behead the guy and get out before he was found out. Nice and simple.

It had been tricky avoiding the hired muscle Winters kept on hand as Dean made his way through the grounds and up to the house, but Dean was a hunter, well schooled in the art of stealth by his ex-marine father. Slipping into shadows, staying as still as a statue as someone passed within inches of him, was second nature for a Winchester.

Taking out the power to the house was easy. A nice home made explosive that Dean had rigged just for this occasion took care of the job. He'd have enough time to get inside and get close to Winters before it blew….then it would be all over for the nasty freaking blood sucker before he knew what hit him.

Dean slipped into the building, a machete in his hand, his favorite .45 tucked down the back of his jeans for back up as well as a flask of holy water in his jacket pocket.

It was easy to get to the second floor, following the sound of Winters voice. Dean lay in wait for the guy, hearing him approach, chasing some girl that was obviously going to be the guy's next meal.

As soon as the lights blew, just as Dean had planned, he stepped out, easily spotting the tall figure in the dark. " Russell Winters."

" Angel?" Cordelia turned towards his voice hopefully, the surprise showing clearly as her eyes widened at the sight of Dean standing there.

" Not exactly…but thanks for the compliment.." Dean grinned, mistaking Cordelia's use of name, for a description. He held the machete easily, his footwork light and cautious as he moved closer.

" Who the hell are you?" Winters snapped, pissed off at having his meal interrupted by this person.

" Name's Dean Winchester. " Dean told him, watching the guy's every move.

" Friend of yours?" Winters asked Cordelia, nodding in Dean's direction.

" No…but if he gets me out of this? I might be convinced to have drinks with him.' Cordelia said shakily, trying to sound more confident than she felt right now. Who the hell was this guy? Some friend of Buffy? Some idiot that thought he was a slayer?

Dean moved quickly, with the ease of a hunter, fluid and dangerous, his machete sweeping up towards Winters head. But the attack came to an abrupt halt as Winters grabbed Dean's wrist with one hand and his throat in the other. Dean was thrown backwards, slamming into the wall with enough force to drive the air from his lungs and make his head rattle before he hit the floor. Forcing himself upright again, he stumbled forward, pulling the flask of holy water from his jacket then throwing it at Winters. The flask shattered, searing the face of the vampire as he screamed in agony.

" Dean!" Cordelia screamed.

Dean saw two of Winters hired goons running up the stairs, guns already drawn. He reached for his own gun as a slug caught him high in the shoulder and spun him towards the balustrade. Fear rippled through Dean as he felt the balustrade behind him crack, then give way. He reached out blindly, finding Cordelia's hand and dragging her with him as he fell, bullets whistling past the pair, but not finding their targets. Pulling Cordelia close to him as he realized they were both going down, Dean smashed into the ground hard, breaking Cordelia's fall and a couple of ribs in the process. The world faded out for a second, before he felt someone pulling him to his feet and everything snapped back into focus. " Go!" He barked, realizing it was Cordelia and that they were still under fire.

Dean was able to get outside without taking another hit, indicating towards the northern wall of the grounds. " My car's on the other side of that. Come on." He ran with Cordelia beside him, all but dragging him along as he held his ribs and tried not to think of the pain he was in.

" What the hell were you thinking?" Cordelia yelled, shocked at what had just happened, but her voice full of concern for Dean. " That guy was a vampire! But you already knew that, didn't you? Who the hell are you?"

" I already told you…Dean Winchester. It's kind of my job to hunt those things. Family business you could say." They paused beside a grappling hook and rope that was slung over the wall. " Go…I'll cover you."

Cordelia scrambled up the rope and dropped down the other side, landing easily. She looked back at the wall, wondering if Dean was going to be able to scale the wall with his wound. A moment later, he appeared and landed with a awkward crouch, his face folding up in pain as his broken ribs grated. A steady drip of blood was oozing from his right arm where the bullet had caught his shoulder. Cordelia helped Dean to his feet. " You need a doctor. Give me the keys…I'll drive."

" I'm fine…and no-one drives my car, except me. No offense." Dean let Cordelia help him around to the driver's door before she climbed in the passenger's side. He focused on the road, on Cordelia's voice as they drove. Anything but the pain and the numbness creeping down his right arm.

" Take a right here. Hollywood Community Hospital is just a few minutes away…are you gonna be able to make it?" Cordelia searched Dean's eyes, well aware of how he was pale, how he got shakier with each breath he took.

" Yeah, I'm good. I've driven with worse." Dean told her, although it wasn't strictly true. He'd driven with bullet wounds…busted ribs even. But not both before. Usually it was Dad behind the wheel, Dean laid out across the backseat with Sammy hovering from the front seat, trying to keep Dean calm and not panic himself. For a moment, Dean wished his brother was here to watch his back.

They got to the hospital without incident, Dean managing to get himself from the car and towards the ER before he collapsed, his right side now dark with his own blood.

" Help! I need help here!" Cordelia screamed, cradling Dean's head in her lap until a pair of orderlies with a gurney appeared and helped them inside. She stayed with Dean while they took him into a cubicle, holding his hand. " You're gonna be ok…they'll take good care of you here."

Dean nodded before he let his head fall back to the gurney and closed his eyes, too tired to do anything anymore. His jacket was removed and handed to Cordelia before she was asked to wait outside.

Sitting down in the waiting area, Cordelia hugged the jacket to her chest, noting that it smelt of blood and aftershave and just… Dean. It still amazed her as she replayed the events through her head. Dean appearing like some knight in leather armour, cocky, like she had seen at the party…but lethal when he moved. Cordelia had grown up in Sunnydale. She'd fought side by side with Angel and Buffy, had watched Giles take down any number of vampires. Cordelia knew how a person moved when they were trained to fight…and she'd seen that in Dean. There'd been a gleam in his eye that told her he was anything but a novice. So who was he? Was he serious about it being the family business --his job—to hunt vampires? Who would want that as a job? Especially when they were that cute? Dean should have had any number of options open to him other than hunting vampires for a living. There was a more to this guy than Cordelia would have ever picked when she spoke to him at the party. Digging through his pockets, she found his wallet and cellphone. The wallet held Dean's license, several credit cards plus medical insurance in different names and almost a hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills.

Flipping open his phone, Cordelia accessed his address book, hoping that Dean wouldn't freak out about what she was doing. Abigail, Bobby, Britney ( not Spears, Cordelia hoped) Denise, Diana….aha, Dad. Hitting the dial button, Cordelia hoped someone would pick up…and that she would know what to say.

This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If this is an emergency, call my son, Dean at 866-907-3235. He can help."

Great. Voicemail. Cordelia took a breath to calm herself and figured she'd leave a message anyway. Maybe the guy still checked them? " Hi…my name's Cordelia Chase and you don't know me." Oh that was smooth…Cordelia could have kicked herself. " Look, I'm calling because your son, Dean? He's hurt… He's at Hollywood Community Hospital. Um…bye." She hung up, not knowing if that message would even get through. Should she try someone else? It wasn't as if she could even call Angel, the one person in this town she knew. She didn't have his number…or even an address of where he lived. Looking through the list again, there were so many names that she had no idea which one to try. Finally, one stood out. Pastor Jim Murphy. Letting the number dial, she was relieved when a kind voice answered.

"Hello?"

" Hi….my name's Cordelia Chase. I'm trying to get hold of the family of Dean Winchester?"

"What's happened? Is he alright?"

" I think he's going to be ok. No-one's told me anything yet. Look, he's at Hollywood Community Hospital. I tried calling his father, but it was only voice mail." Cordelia heard the Pastor mutter something under his breath about someone called John, before he spoke to her again.

" I know who to contact. Thank you for calling Miss Chase."

The call ended and Cordelia slid the phone back into Dean's jacket, hoping she had done the right thing.

It had been three hours since Cordelia had been told that Dean would be alright. She was by his bedside, watching him sleep, noting how peaceful he looked, how damn hot his lips were, the way his long eyelashes feathered across his cheeks. He was so young, only a few years older than her if the birthday on his license was correct. Only twenty four years old.

Cordelia was exhausted, her back aching from the hellish chairs in the waiting room and now the one she had sat in beside his bed.

Footsteps sounded behind her and she heard a deep voice breathe a relieved, " Dean…"

Turning in her chair, Cordelia looked at the young man who had appeared in the doorway, his eyes sweeping over Dean and noting each bandage, each wound as his Adam's apple worked overtime. The guy was trying not to get emotional…and if this was Pastor Jim? Cordelia was so going to start going to church more often.

" Are you Cordelia?" The guy asked, finally noticing her.

" Yeah. Hi." Cordelia stood up, offering a smile.

" I'm Sam. Dean's brother." He was huge, towering in the doorway like some giant, all legs and arms. Cordelia tried to see Dean in this gangly young guy standing in front of her and finally found it in the eyes.

" Sammy?" Dean's voice was tired and sounded slightly confused as he finally woke up. He tried sitting up before the pain forced him to give up, looking at his baby brother, a smile venturing forward as Dean realized that it wasn't a dream. " Man, it's good to see you! How the hell-?"

" Cordelia called Pastor Jim. He told me to get over here…so here I am. What the hell were you doing, Dean? What happened?" Sam demanded, sitting on the bed but careful not to hurt Dean.

" What do you think I was doing? I was hunting, Sam." Dean snapped, frowning.

" He was saving me…from a vampire." Cordelia cut in, wanting to defend Dean. The guy had saved her ass, dammit, there was no need to make him feel bad about something like that. This was why Cordelia was glad she was an only child.

" A vampire?" Sam sounded impressed. " I thought Dad said they were extinct?"

" Pfffftt! I wish!" Cordelia snorted. She paused as the Winchester boys looked at her. " What? I grew up in vampire Central. Trust me…vampires are far from extinct."

Dean shared a look with his brother that Cordelia couldn't read, before he turned the conversation towards something more normal. " So Sammy…how's college?"

" It's Sam…and it's going well. I'm thinking of asking Jess to move in with me."

" Jess?"

" My girlfriend, Dean. I told you about her the last time you called me."

" Oh right…her. I thought maybe things had changed." Dean shrugged.

" You mean you thought I might have gotten bored already." Sam snapped. " I'm not like you, Dean. Jess and I are a couple…I might even marry her yet."

" Marriage?" Dean squawked, clearly horrified. " You're just a kid, Sam! What the hell kind of talk is that? What? You planning for the white picket fence too? Two point four kids?"

" What if I am? I'm twenty years old, Dean. I'm studying pre-law…I'm living a normal life. You should try it sometime." Sam argued.

" No thanks…I'd go insane within five minutes." Dean shot back at him.

Cordelia watched the pair, feeling like she was intruding and wondering if it was time for her to slip away and leave them to talk this out? Before she had the chance, Sam was standing up, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation. " This is why I left, Dean! You and Dad never understood me wanting this." He paused, taking a breath to calm himself. " Look, I have to get back to Stanford…I've got an important class tomorrow I should be studying for. You gonna be ok?"

Dean shrugged, then crossed his arms over his chest, ignoring the pull on his shoulder. " I'm fine. Go. I'll call in before I leave Cali, ok? Say hi to Jess for me."

" Sure." Sam laid a hand on his brother's arm. " It was good to see you, Dean, don't be a stranger, ok?"

Dean shrugged off the touch but the move was playful. " Go on… get out of here, you jerk."

" Bitch." Sam said quietly, a smile on his face as he turned to Cordelia. " Thanks again for the call, Cordelia. It was nice meeting you."

" Yeah…you too, Sam." Cordelia said, surprised at the fact he was leaving already. What was with guys? They always had to play things low key and act macho. " So….." Cordelia looked over at Dean and for a moment, thought she saw sadness and a distinct look of loneliness before the walls snapped up and Dean was indifferent. " I should be going too. I need a shower like you wouldn't believe…not to mention a few hours sleep that involve me being horizontal and not curled up in a chair possibly designed by the Spanish Inquisition."

" Yeah…you've done enough, really. It was nice of you to stay as long as you did." Dean nodded, already steeling himself for Cordelia's departure.

" Hey.." Cordelia sat down beside him and placed her hand over Dean's. " I'm coming back, you know. You don't get rid of me that easily. It's not everyday a girl gets rescued by a handsome guy. What sort of a service would I be doing womankind if I walked away from that?"

Dean studied her eyes as if he was looking to see if she was genuine. Finally the tension left his body and he gave Cordelia the beginnings of a real smile. " You'll be back later, huh?"

" I said so, didn't I? You want me to bring you anything?"

" Peanut M&M's? " Dean ventured, little boy hope burning in his hazel eyes so brightly that Cordelia found herself unable to breathe for a moment. God, he was beautiful.

" Peanut M&M's it is then." She stared at him for a moment, drowning in his eyes before she found herself leaning forward to brush her lips against Dean's. There was so much heat and softness in the kiss. Cordelia felt Dean place a hand gently behind her head, his fingers softly brushing the nape of her neck as he deepened the kiss. It was everything Cordelia had wanted and more. This was no horny high school jock hoping to score third base. No Xander Harris, all raging hormones and smart mouth desperately trying to prove something. This was soft, gentle, a practiced tongue from someone who knew how to kiss and was unafraid to show it. Who had nothing to prove and was self assured of his ability…but underneath it all, there was the sense of seeking something, hoping for something.

If you asked Cordelia when it was that she fell for Dean Winchester, she would tell you it was that day in the hospital when she kissed him and he laid himself bare to her.

" I should go." Cordelia said regretfully as they finally pulled apart. Her skin was flushed, her lips swollen and deep red. As she left, Cordelia paused in the doorway and turned back to Dean. " By the way…when you get out of here? You so owe me dinner, pal."

Dean laughed softly, watching her leave and counting the hours until she returned.

The End….. or is it?