Author's Notes: Okay. So. I know this crap, but I find it oddly entertaining anyway. And I haven't written anything Supernatural for so long, I felt like I was going to explode.

Who's stoked for the new season? Say aye!

AYE.

Something to Lose

For Apple

Who gave me Tiger but took away my summer homework.

Thanks.

"There's someone at the door," Debbie told her excitedly, perfect white teeth gleaming beneath her darkened lips. "At first I thought it was Sarah's new boyfriend but he's asking for you."

Jo frowned, glancing in annoyance at her watch. 7:00 P.M. She wasn't meeting Alex until eight. No messages on her phone; he always called when there was a change of plan.

She glanced down at her sweatpants and ratty tank top and sighed despairingly. "Did he look important?" She asked as she climbed to her feet.

Debbie shook her head. "Our age, maybe a couple years older. Anyway, he's wearing jeans."

Jo shoved her pencil through her hair and glanced at her face in the mirror; minimal makeup, a hurried bun perched on the top of her head, and one of two earrings. On her way to the door she unhooked the sole survivor of her six-hour study session and prayed her perfume hadn't worn off.

The last face she expected to see on the opposite side of the door was Dean's, stance relaxed, mouth working casually at the edges and eyebrows raised in pleasure.

She stood dumbly for a moment before he laughed quietly and asked, "Can I come in?"

"My boyfriend is coming to pick me up in an hour," she replied, instead of answering the question. "I have to get ready."

But he just kept smiling. "So can I come in?"

Jo studied him for a minute, mind working over all the reasons he might have decided to track her down and stop by for a chat. It hardly seemed like Dean, to put so much effort into one girl—even if she was the daughter of his father's best friend.

She opened her mouth to speak, but Debbie's voice filled the silence before she got a chance. "Hi," she greeted cheerfully, all lip gloss and tight jeans. "I'm Jo's roommate. Debbie. And you are?"

"Dean," he answered at the same time Jo said, "Leaving."

He looked at her, eyebrow raised, and then turned his attention back to her roommate. "I'm Dean," he repeated. "It's nice to meet you, Debbie. Are you, by any chance, from Montgomery?"

She smiled, eyes lighting. "Why, yes I am. How did you know?"

"I've spent a lot of time down there—family business—and I could tell by your beautiful accent."

Debbie laughed, charmed; this being Boston she didn't get a whole lot of compliments concerning her long ah sounds and soft-spoken Do ya'll want a soda pop?

Jo rolled her eyes, inserting snidely, "What about that family business, Dean?"

But it was too late; Debbie was already opening the door and ushering Dean inside, offering him lemonade and her hand in marriage. He declined politely, sending Jo a triumphant look as he settled on the couch.

"So what brings you to Boston?" Debbie was asking, pouring herself a glass of water.

"Oh, I was just in the area," Dean answered with a smile. "And as I knew Jo was going to school down here, I wanted to drop in. We haven't seen each other in a long time." Here his gazed dropped to hers and she looked away, unprepared for the quiet accusation. The smoldering gaze was usually Sam's deal.

Debbie smiled motherly at him. "Well, I'll let you two catch up then," she offered kindly. "Alex will be here at eight, but if you wanted to stay the night I'm sure you could take the couch." She looked hopeful.

"That won't be necessary," Jo answered for him. "He won't be in town long, I'll bet. Get on, get off, get out – that's Dean in a nutshell."

He looked a little stung and Debbie raised her eyebrows as she left them, shooting Jo a quick thumbs-up behind Dean's back. In the silence Jo decided he must like torturing her; she'd spent months harboring secret fantasies of him showing up at her door—much like now—and had only just begun moving on.

The dreams had begun to fade when she'd made the decision to stop hunting. She still pretended this was significant.

"So what do you want, Dean?" She asked coolly. "I'm not hunting anymore, so I can't help you if that's what you're after."

"As it so happens," he answered cheerfully, "I'm not hunting anymore either."

She scoffed, eyebrows shooting into her hairline. "Is that so?" She laughed. "Let me guess. Sam's just gone back to college and you decided you were tired of the hunt and wanted the apple-pie, white-picket-fence life instead?"

His expression was sober. "I hope Sam's gone back to college. If he hasn't, I'll kick his sorry ass."

Jo choked on her own tongue, sitting up straighter in her chair. "You mean you don't know?" She asked incredulously. "You, Dean Winchester, Big Brother of the Year?"

That teased a smile. "That sounds about right. I haven't seen him since December." Dean looked suddenly pained. "Look, can we not talk about that?"

She took pity. She'd never really been able to deny him, anyway. "Fine. Why don't you tell me why you're here?"

"I wanted to see you again, before . . ." he trailed off, forcing a smile. "I wanted to see you again."

She regarded him suspiciously, her heart treading very carefully. Sentimental-Dean was always followed very close by Tear-Your-Heart-Out-Dean (who was often shadowed by Self-Destructive-Dean). "I don't understand," she told him honestly. "It's been almost a year, Dean. My God. The last time I saw you, your possessed brother tried to kill me, and you left with nothing but an—untrue, I might add—'I'll call you'." She cocked her head, honestly curious.

He took a deep breath. "Things have changed." He looked away, and she found herself saying suddenly, "Dean, about what happened."

"You're really this mad I didn't call you?" He asked, amused.

Jo laughed. "Not that. I meant—I meant what happened with . . . my mom. And the Demon." She fought sudden tears in her eyes, mind flashing through all her imaginings—Ash dead, home dead, Mom at the very doorway to hell. "Thank-you. For keeping an eye on her."

"I'm sorry about Ash," he said, sincerely.

"Me too."

His hand had found hers suddenly. She glanced down at their entwined fingers and murmured distantly, "I should get ready, Alex will be here . . ."

The last place she wanted to be was dinner with Alex.

She looked up. "Dean," she whispered, "Why are you here?"

"I told you," he answered, confused. "I wanted to see you, Jo."

Her heart trilled as he said her name. She shook her head. "But why?"

Dean didn't answer for a second, just looked at her. "There's something I need to tell you," he began, "But I don't think I should do it before you're about to go out on a date."

"Is it important?"

"Well," he smirked a bit, "Sam cried."

She grinned at him as she stood (regretfully releasing his hand), "Sam cries about everything."

He sobered. "Can I meet you for coffee tomorrow?" At her hesitation, he added, "Jo. One cup. Then I'll be out of your hair. You don't even have to drink it."

She sighed. "Fine. But you're paying." She started back towards the bathroom to shower and then paused. "Dean," she said, looking slightly over her shoulder. "You can crash on the couch if you need to."

But she knew he wouldn't. He may have come all this way to see her, but Dean was still Dean. He'd crash in a bed or nowhere at all.

----

They met at Al's, her favorite café near school. She ordered a cup of coffee and a cressaunt with butter; he had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a chocolate chip cookie.

"Okay, you have this little roll and my small coffee to explain things," she told him, but her words had none of the bite they'd possessed the night before. Instead she smiled a little, teasing.

Dean twisted his napkin in his lap, eyes glued to the table. "I need a favor," he began, and just like that, her heart dropped.

She snorted. "Of course you do," she interrupted coldly. "God, I can't believe I let myself think you came here for anything else—"

"Jo, let me explain—"

"I told you, I don't hunt anymore. And I'm not going to be part of any of your schemes or—or whatever else it is you're involved in. I'm done with that, okay? I have a nice little life now—"

"With Alex," he sneered. "So I gathered."

"Yes," she snapped, "with Alex. Excuse me if I fell for a three-bedroom flat and a B.A. in English over a five-seat Impala and a degree from North Springs High School."

He raised his eyebrows and snarled, "Yeah. How stupid of me to let saving people get a front seat to secondary education!"

"Oh, don't give me that self-sacrificing act," she retorted. "It's never been about the people."

"Oh yeah? Tell me, Jo, since you apparently know better then I do, what is it about?"

"Sam," she answered instantly. "You're Dad. Proving that you're the good son." She stood up and leaned toward him, poking at his chest with her finger. "You're just like he was! Obsessed. And you're going to get someone killed, just the way that he did."

"I don't think so," he hissed. "That'll be pretty impossible since I'm going to be dead in six months."

She fell back against her seat, jaw slack, eyes wide, heart frozen. Her hand remained half-heartedly extended in front of her, hand hanging limply at the end of her wrist. "Dead . . .?"She asked weakly after a few minutes of stunned silence. "What makes you think . . .?"

Dean closed his eyes. "Well, six months ago I had a year, and six plus six is twelve, and there are twelve months in one year." He smiled tiredly. "See? A high school degree will get you somewhere."

She didn't answer as his words sunk into her skull; she could merely stare, drinking in the sight of him. "Why?" She whispered. "What could possibly make you decide to—to—"

"Sell my soul?"

She whimpered.

"It was Sam, Jo. He was—and I—I couldn't—" His voice caught. "You understand that, don't you? It was Sam."

And then suddenly he was talking, words pouring across his lips so fast she had to struggle to catch them all. "I don't regret it, Jo. I don't. How can I? Sam is alive, alive, and I'm not sorry. Maybe I'll even see Dad down there, who knows? But I wanted to see you, one last time, because things are shitty between us and I didn't want them to—to end that way."

"And because you need a favor," she heard herself say.

"It's a simple one," he answered. "You might even enjoy doing it." She raised her eyebrows, still too stunned to answer. His voice was soft. "Keep an eye on him, that's all."

And suddenly she was crying.

Not the cute crying, either, but big crying, snot-all-over-your-face crying, and he moved to hug her but she was hitting him across his chest instead and he let her because he knew—how could he not know?—and she hated him for it, hated him, hated him, hated him.

But her anger disintegrated with every punch and soon she was merely leaning against him, energy spent, eyes closed and shoulders sagging.

"I'm sorry," he murmured. "I never wanted to hurt anybody."

"Well, you suck at it," she muttered, and felt his laughter beneath her cheek. Then she looked at him. "Now what?" She asked. "What are your plans for the next half-year?"

He smiled. "I've always wanted to meet a girl's parents," he teased, "preferably before we break up and not in a back alley somewhere."

She tried to smile. " You've met my parents," she answered distractedly, and almost didn't notice the sudden tension. She sighed tiredly. "That might have come out wrong."

She felt his hands in her hair. "Jo," he began, tipping her face upwards.

"No," she interrupted, stepping away from him firmly. "Dean. No."

He simply looked at her and she thought of Alex, carefully guiding her through doors and pulling out chairs. "Jo," he said again.

"This isn't fair. You're dying, Dean."

"Then I have nothing to lose."

She shook her head, grabbing her purse off of her chair. "Well I do," she whispered. Then, "I'll look after Sam. Good luck."

She fled.

----

Alex said she was acting strangely; Debbie told her she was experiencing "winter depression"; Sarah was convinced she had mono.

Her mother carefully avoided mentioning Dean in her calls, but filled them rather with talk of Ash's funeral, of rebuilding the Roadhouse, of daily mundane things to fill the silences.

She thought: God, he's dying.

She managed for a month before breaking down.

"Sam," she said.

His reply was startled, but she could hear the weariness in his voice. "Jo? I didn't expect to hear your voice, after . . ."

"I want to talk about Dean," she demanded, running over him. "What are you doing to help him?"

Sam paused. "How long have you known?"

Her voice was delirious. "What does that matter? What the fuck does that matter? What are you doing, Sam?"

"I'm doing everything I can, Jo."

"Like what?"

"Reading. Calling Dad's old friends. Getting in touch with contacts. Jesus, the only thing I haven't done is called back that demon and told her to take my life for Dean's! And the only thing that's stopping me is that I know he'd go right back and switch us again."

The words are out of her mouth before she can stop them. "What about me? We wouldn't have to tell him."

"Shut up, Jo. You know that wouldn't work. They want Dean's soul more than they could ever want yours."

"There has to be something! How can you be so calm? Don't you even care?"

"Care? Care? Fuck you, Jo! I've been running myself dead for the passed half year. And where have you been? Sitting pretty at college. Did you even come back when you heard what Dean had been through? What your mom had been through?"

"Fuck you, Sam."

"Don't play tragic little girl with me. I don't care how you feel about Dean dying, okay? I don't give a shit. All I care about is trying to save my brother."

"It's your fault he's dying in the first place!" She sounded hysterical, screaming into the phone. "He's always put you first because he has no sense of self-worth and you've let him! You and your father both, you just fed that insecurity all these years and now you're surprised something like this is happening?"

"You don't know shit about Dean and I. Don't pretend you do."

And then her voice was deadened. Tired. "Fix it, Sam," she begged. "Just fix it."

"Jo," he murmured, quiet and afraid, "I don't know if I can."

----

She tracked him down to a small town in—of all places—Albuquerque. He was living in a small Best Western under the name Gomez Adams.

She knocked firmly, mind already made, intentions clear. She'd decided the minute the idea came into her mind; if she couldn't save all of Dean she could preserve a small part of him.

Alex didn't understand. She hadn't expected him to and wasn't all that sorry when he left.

He opened the door and looked startled. "Jo?" He asked. "What are you doing here?"

She smiled dryly. "I wanted to see you," she answered, repeating his words. "See, I have this favor to ask."

And before he could answer, she launched herself at him, mouth on his, hands fisted in his shirt. He let her kiss him for a few minutes, stumbling back into the room, before pulling away. "What the . . .? What are you doing?"

"Dean," she said slowly, "when you came to see me, you said you have nothing to lose."

"And you told me that you do," he reminded her pointedly.

She nodded. "I stand by that. But I'm not losing what I thought I was losing. I thought—I thought Alex and school and the life I was trying to build, I thought that was all I had to lose. But there's so much more than that." She couldn't look at him. "I don't want you to die," she whispered, and tried not to whimper when he took her hand, "and maybe—maybe, if Sam and I look hard enough, you won't have to. But," she spoke over the beginnings of an interruptions, "I have to be realistic, don't I? You could die. You could. It's a very real possibility. In fact, right now, it's pretty set that you will."

She kept her eyes on the floor. "Dean. I don't—look, I'm not saying that I'm in love with you or anything, because I just don't think we're at a point in our relationship where one of us can really, purely, without restraint, love the other. I mean, we're really bad at the whole boy-girl interaction thing, don't you think?"

He laughed his agreement, running his knuckles down her arm. "But I don't want to live without you," she continued softly, and his hand stilled. "That is . . . if there's a world without a part of you in it, well . . . I don't want to live there. So, I . . . I was hoping you could do me a favor."

Dean looked completely bewildered by this point and joked cautiously, "What do you want, a pint of my blood or something? I didn't know you were into that sort of thing."

Jo sent him a look. "Sleep with me," she half-commanded. His eyebrows shot up.

"I don't have anything with me," he told her plainly. "I wasn't expecting you—or this."

She took a deep breath. "That's okay," she said, and finally looked up. "I didn't want you to wear one."

The silence that followed could have drained an ocean. They stared at one another, Dean's jaw slack and eyes wide. She felt vague satisfaction in having shocked him into silence but could hardly enjoy it over the nerves bubbling in her chest and stomach. "Are you sure?" He asked quietly. "Jo, that's—I don't—are you sure?"

"Yes," she said instantly.

"I don't know what to say."

"Not much of anything," she told him, extending onto her toes and hovering a mere half-inch from his lips. He seemed to hesitate and then crashed down on her.

----

She came at midnight of the last day, not wasting even a second. Dean was expecting her; he lay stretched on the bed he'd shared with Jo for the passed three months with a half-grin on his mouth.

"Are you ready?" She asked, smiling like a Cheshire cat. "Your year is up, Dean-O."

He stood, stance relaxed, and let her circle him, predatory. "Would you care if I wasn't?"

"Not even a little."

They kissed.

----

He was born on the 17th. Jo brought him home to her mother's and ignored the sad complaints of the hunters in the bar, complaining they couldn't hit on a new mother with a good conscience.

Sam visited often; generally for the weekend. Jo almost enjoyed teasing him, keeping his head small from all the catcalls and hoots of the women who came through the Roadhouse. And anyway, she had a promise to fulfill.

"Oh, he's got the most beautiful little face! What's his name, honey?" One woman asked, tickling the little boy's stomach.

"Dean," Jo answered with a slight, sad smile. "After his father."