The Job is Never Done
Disclaimer: See chapter 1
A/N: We've reached the end of another journey. Thanks for coming along with me and a little extra thanks for those who took the time to review either publicly or privately. Until next time….
People so seldom say I love you and then it's either too late or love goes. So when I tell you I love you, It doesn't mean I know you'll never go, Only that I wish you didn't have to.
Until this moment, I never understood how hard it was to lose something you never had.
Kristine, Bobby and the Winchesters were staying in Charlotte after a big celebratory dinner at the Raines' house that night. Even though there was another meal together planned for the next morning, Dean had a hard time saying goodnight to the boys. Angelica was already feeling very maternal toward them, but insisted that Dean tuck them in to bed that night.
There were enough bedrooms in the house that each boy could have had his own, but when asked, their opinion they'd insisted on sharing a room. Keith and Angelica had done some redecorating, but left most of the decisions for after the boys felt more at home. Dean smiled at Nicholas' glee when he saw the Cars themed bedspread that was on the bed obviously meant for him.
"You'll be here for breakfast tomorrow, right?" Alex asked as Dean sat on the edge of his bed while Nicholas got settled.
"Wouldn't miss it." Dean noticed the look of apprehension on the boy's face. "You know, Keith and Angelica listened to what we had to teach them. This place is just as safe as the estate."
Alex nodded and Dean realized his mood wasn't coming from fear.
"They have my cell phone number and I'm still gonna call you every week. Kristine is just two hours away if you need anything."
In addition to the formal arrangements that had to be made for Nicholas and Alex to live with them, Keith and Angelica had promised that the Winchesters and Kristine were welcome to visit the boys any time. They expressed a strong desire for the relationships between them to continue, knowing it would be best for the boys.
"Are you going back on the road after you leave here?"
"Probably pretty soon," Dean confirmed. "But remember what I told you. You can call me any time."
"Me too?" Nicholas asked from across the room.
Dean laughed. "Yeah, you, too. After you get permission from Keith and Angelica."
Kristine came out of the bathroom in the hotel room and saw Dean standing at the window, staring outside. She paused for a moment, then approached him and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her cheek against his back.
"They're gonna be okay," Kristine said softly after several minutes.
"You're probably right."
"I'll keep an eye on them. And my cousin will see them regularly, I'm sure. Her son is about the same age as Nicholas."
"I just feel like I'm leaving them in the lurch. Just like I'm leaving Sammy. You." Dean's voice was practically a whisper.
Kristine tightened her hold on him. After a moment she slipped in front of him and felt his arms circle around her. "Baby, we're all more worried about you than ourselves. We'll manage."
Dean didn't say anything, but a few moments later. he pulled away and disappeared into the bathroom. When Kristine heard the shower start, she knew he needed some time alone. She climbed into bed and when Dean joined her a while later, he held her close and stayed quiet. She didn't push him and it wasn't long before she heard an even cadence to his breathing. She let herself relax and fell asleep.
Breakfast the next morning was hard for Kristine and the hunters, but they concentrated on making it a fun time for Nicholas and Alex. Sam was more concerned about his brother than the boys; he could see behind Dean's façade and knew he wasn't nearly as positive as he seemed. Of course, he was glad the boys would have a home and that they'd be close to Kristine, but this was likely his final goodbye to them. Sam knew how his brother felt about them and could only imagine how hard leaving would be for him.
Dean handled it well and had the boys laughing as they left the restaurant. To anyone watching, it probably looked like a group of friends saying goodbye knowing they would be together again soon. There were no tears, only hugs and promises to call. Sam knew that Dean would keep his promise for as long as he could.
The Raines loaded the boys into their car and headed out of the parking lot as the others stood next to the Impala and waved. Once they were out of site, Dean's expression fell and he reached into his pocket for the car keys.
"Hey guys?" Sam took a few steps closer to Dean. "I, uh, well, Bobby and I decided something last night and…."
"What is it, Sam?" Dean asked, clearly not in the mood for a conversation.
'I'm gonna drive Kristine's car back to the estate, then head out to Bobby's with him."
Dean looked at him suspiciously. "Why? You find a job?"
"No. It'll give you guys a little time together; just the two of you."
Dean glanced at Kristine, then back to his brother.
"It's decided," Sam said before Dean could object. "Neither of you get a say in it. Go to the estate or go somewhere else, but I'm heading to Bobby's."
"Thanks, Sam," Kristine said, her voice soft.
They'd already put their things into the cars before leaving the hotel for breakfast, but when they went back some reshuffling had to be done. Kristine said goodbye to Bobby and quietly asked him to distract Dean for a few minutes so she could talk to Sam.
"Hey," she said as she handed over her car keys. "Thanks for this."
"Sure." He seemed uncomfortable.
"Sam…." Kristine glanced away, then looked him in the eye. "I know we've had several conversations about this while you were at the estate, but I need to know that you understand I want you to come back. I want you to stay in my life; no matter what happens."
"I know you say that, but…." Sam looked over her head toward his brother.
"I don't say what I don't mean," Kristine felt the tears welling in her eyes, but she managed not to let them fall even as she reached for Sam's hand. "You're family, Sam."
He looked back at her, his own tears now burning his eyes. Kristine made the first move; she put her arms around him and Sam returned the hug without hesitation.
Dean approached them a few moments later and after an affectionate glance at Sam, she walked over to the Impala. The brothers didn't really need to say anything to one another. They both knew that no matter how much Dean might want to stay with Kristine, he would be in South Dakota within a few days.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Dean joked.
Sam smiled. "That leaves the door pretty wide open."
Dean glanced around, then looked back to his brother. "Sam, look, I….I know you want to find a way out of this deal and I know I've had to pull you back a couple times from doing something….Promise me you won't do anything stupid while you're on your own."
"Come on, man. What could I do?"
Dean eyed him suspiciously and Sam laughed briefly. "I promise, okay?"
"I'll be there in a few days."
"Take your time."
"Call me if something comes up?"
"Dean, I'll be fine."
"Yeah, I know. I'll call tonight."
Sam knew that nothing he said would ease his brother's mind. Dean worried about him; it was hard to look out for him when they weren't together. A look full of unspoken affection passed between the brothers before they turned away from one another.
It wasn't often that they went their separate ways for more than a few hours and Sam had to admit, if only to himself, that he didn't especially like it. He was struck by how hard it was to drive away without his brother, even though he knew Dean would be with him again soon. Their time together was limited and as much as Sam liked Kristine and appreciated her love for Dean, he couldn't help but be a little resentful that she was taking precious days with Dean away from him.
There'd been a time when Sam had actually been jealous of their relationship; not just because he missed Jessica and the intimacy of what they'd had, but because he didn't want someone to come between him and Dean. They'd worked too hard to rebuild what they'd lost while Sam was at Stanford and Sam had come to realize how much he'd missed his brother. But he learned that Kristine had no intention of trying to come between then; even if she did, Dean wouldn't let it happen.
Dean waited until Sam and Bobby had driven off before he turned to Kristine. "Where do you want to go?"
She shrugged. "You have any ideas? I can make a lot of things happen. Hell, we could go to Europe for a few days if you wanted to."
"No," Dean shook his head. "I just want something simple."
"We could go back to the cottage."
"We could be interrupted there. I know Ellen can handle things, but…."
After a little thought and discussion, they decided to head to the coast. Kristine's cousin owned a house on the beach that, after a quick phone call, she agreed to let them use.
They agreed to spend four days together and while Dean drove, Kristine managed to rearrange all of her appointments at the clinic. She knew she was taking advantage of her boss and colleagues; she probably wasn't doing the best she could for her clients, either. This was an extraordinary circumstance, though, and she couldn't give up the next few days with Dean. And while she didn't want to dwell on that, she knew they were likely the last ones she would ever have with him.
The house wasn't huge or particularly fancy like Dean had been expecting, but it was nice and being right on the beach, was probably worth a fortune.
"You've been here before?" Dean asked once they were inside. He glanced around the big living room; the furniture was big and comfortable looking.
She nodded. "I don't spend much time with my family, but I have obligations. I do like Melissa, though, and with the boys in Charlotte, I suspect I'll be more in touch with her than before."
"I don't want to talk about the boys." He flopped down onto the couch in the living room.
"What do you want to do?" Kristine asked, sitting next to him.
Dean put his arm around her shoulders. "I'm sorry, darlin. I don't think I'm gonna be real good company."
"That's okay. I wasn't planning to be gone from home for more than a couple of days. I think I'll I run to the store for a few things and then bring back something for dinner."
Dean kissed her hair. "Thanks."
Kristine found Dean sleeping on the couch when she got back. He'd been restless the night before and hadn't been able to sleep. She put the Chinese food she'd brought for dinner in the refrigerator, took her bags to the bedroom, and then settled on the deck outside with a beer and a book she'd found on the bedside table.
The sun was just coming over the horizon the next morning when Kristine woke up. She was disoriented and stiff from sleeping on the padded lounge. There was a breeze coming up from the water, but the air was already humid and her skin felt gritty.
She stood up slowly and stretched, then made her way inside. Dean wasn't on the couch and she smelled coffee brewing in the kitchen. Not ready to be sociable yet, Kristine went to the bedroom and grabbed some clothes before moving into attached bathroom.
Dean was sitting on the edge of the bed when she'd finished showering.
She smiled. "Hey."
"Sorry I left you on the deck, but you were pretty out of it."
"It's okay. The shower worked out most of the knots and the mosquitoes were kind. When did you wake up?"
"Around midnight, but I didn't stay awake."
Dean shrugged. "Okay enough. I'm sorry about yesterday."
Kristine shook her head. "Let's just start fresh today, okay?"
Dean held out his hand and Kristine moved forward to take it. They didn't leave the bedroom until noon.
They stayed mostly at the house over the next couple of days, except for evening walks along the mostly private beach. Though the truth wasn't ever very far away, they managed not to think about how little time they had together or why it was ending.
Dean was awake early the day they were leaving the coast. He stood on the deck for a while, but moved down to the sand when the sun began to rise. He'd been the closest to happy as he'd ever been these last few days, but reality was coming in with the same force as the tide.
He'd talked to Sam at least once a day and was looking forward to seeing him again, even after so short a time apart, but he already missed Kristine. Dean didn't know if he'd see her again, but they were both operating on the premise that this was the end. He regretted things that wouldn't even be different if he wasn't going to die in less than a year. Things like not settling down with her; not having a family. He knew that he'd never have done that anyway, but knowing that he never could now bothered him.
Dean didn't hear her coming toward him, but he wasn't startled when she sat in the sand next to him. She rubbed his back and rested her head on his shoulder; he let his hand fall onto her leg. They sat quietly, watching the water. Dean made no move to get up, even when the waves began to reach his bare feet.
"Dean…." Kristine whispered into his ear a few moments later as the water flowed around them.
He knew they had to go, but he didn't want to move.
"Come on, babe," Kristine said as she stood up and held out her hand. Dean sighed and stood up, taking her hand as they headed into the house.
Kristine led him to the bedroom. She had something to tell him, but she wasn't ready to talk. She just wanted to touch him and to feel him touching her. Later, they lay in bed together, her head on his chest.
"We should get on the road soon," Dean said quietly, his voice full of sadness.
"Yeah, about that," Kristine began. "I'm not going with you."
"What do you mean?" he moved to look at her face.
"I only want happy memories of you there."
"How are you going to get home?"
"I'll rent a car."
"I'm not leaving you stranded here."
"I'm not stranded."
Dean settled back down next to her and pulled her close. "I'm not ready to say goodbye."
"We've never said goodbye before," Kristine whispered. "No reason to start now."
"Except that this time –"
"Don't say it."
"You sure you'll be able to get home okay?" Dean asked after a few minutes.
"Yeah; I'll be fine."
"I'm still gonna call, you know. And you'll still call me."
Dean seemed about to say something else, then he tossed aside the sheet. Kristine moved away from him and he got out of bed, heading toward the bathroom. While Dean showered, Kristine pulled on shorts and a t-shirt, then went into the kitchen to make coffee.
She was leaning against a counter, cup of coffee in hand, when he joined her. He turned down her offer of a cup, but didn't resist when she poured the rest of the pot into a commuter mug for him.
Standing next to the Impala a few minutes later, Dean caressed her hair. "You sure you'll be able to get home okay?"
He leaned down to kiss her.
"I adore you, Dean Winchester," she said looking into his eyes.
Dean was over a day's drive away from South Dakota, but he barely took time out for gas and coffee. He didn't want to stop; didn't want to stay in a motel. When he was too tired to drive and caffeine didn't help, he pulled into a rest stop and slept in the car. He wouldn't allow himself to feel anything, but the overwhelming desire to get to his brother wouldn't be denied.
Dean saw the relieved look on Sam's face when he walked into Bobby's house and was thankful his brother let him pretend he was all right. They didn't talk about Dean's last few days with Kristine or about his reckless drive to meet Sam. It wasn't long before they had a new job and with something to concentrate on, things gradually fell back into the Winchester version of normal.
Alex and Nicholas got used to their new home quickly and the more time that passed with no incidents, helped even Alex forget about the dark cloud hanging over his brother's head.
Kristine worked hard to keep herself on track. She and Ellen grew closer, but Kristine refused to talk to her about Dean.
Months later, without warning, Sam appeared at the main house of the estate. Kristine had had only a rough idea of when Dean's deal was due and when she opened the door to find Sam on the porch alone, she knew it was over.
Sam walked past her and into the house. They sat together on the couch, but it was a long time before either of them spoke.