Chapter 70: Saying Goodbye
Sam, Dean and Kelly stepped out of the fog without incident. A few steps behind, Bobby and Ellen followed. Hopping over the rails of the barrier, the small group of three walked towards the Impala. Sam and Dean moving along side by side with Kelly lagging a little behind. With his sleeve, Dean reached up and wiped across his brow, trying to clean away the dried blood of his cut as he nursed his headache. Kelly watched him with a worried eye as she followed them. She felt something hanging in the air, but was unsure of what. There was a tension between her and Dean, the same as there was between him and Sam. Something had to be decided now. We can't put it off for much longer. Behind her, she felt the sun beginning to peak over the flat South Dakotan horizon. It's warm rays to far away to strike her chilled body. She listened with sad acceptance as the boys feet ground to a stop on the dirt. Looking up, she realized that they were already at the Impala. Dean can't avoid telling the truth now. She thought. Chewing on her lower lip, she stuck her hands deep into her pockets. Time slowed down as Dean reached the driver's side door, yanking it open. It was then that Sam chose to open his mouth.
"You know when Jake saw me." He said. His gaze staring out at the sunrise, avoiding both of them. Dean shifted uncomfortably next to his little brother, knowing where this was going. Kelly came to a stop a few feet away from Sam, leaning against the trunk, her arms crossed over her chest. "It was like he saw a ghost." Dean let the car door swing shut as he turned to face Sam. The younger Winchester stared down at his hands. "I mean, hell, you guys heard him." He raised his eyes again, once again fixing them on the pink rays preceding the sunrise. "He said he killed me."
"Well, he was wrong." Dean said gruffly, sticking his hands deep in his pockets as he joined Sam in staring out at the misty horizon. He refused to glance at Kelly, if he did, Dean knew he'd give something away. Sammy never has to know. The words rang through his skull, unrelenting, even as he felt the promise beginning to slip and shatter against the truth.
Unconvinced, Sam's eyes moved to Kelly. "You said you'd healed me from a terrible wound." His words were coming out of his mouth slowly, like molasses. "But, from what you've told me, it takes two sacrifices to appeal to Mallt-y-Nos."
Kelly wet her lips and nodded. "Yes." She whispered.
"Who was the second sacrifice?" Sam asked. He looked down at her, at the tired bags sagging beneath her eyes, to the new bruises purpling her neck. He could feel her mind twist in the bond, felt her consider lying to him. He wasn't normally able to detect her lies, usually she covered her emotions too well, that or she masked the lie with others. "Was it Dean?"
"What kind of question is that?" Dean exploded. He glanced from one face to the next, his hands buried deep in his pockets. Trying to hide his shifting from foot to foot, he glared at Kelly from behind Sam's back.
There was a momentary pause and Sam watched Kelly consider her options. Her gaze swung restlessly from one man to the other. Biting her lip and running her fingers along her bruised side. She winced beneath Dean's hot gaze. Her mouth tightening into something resembling a smile.
"Kelly, I need to know the truth." Sam said.
Kelly looked up at Sam. She couldn't lie to him, she realized. He deserves to know the truth. Besides, he'd already figured it out for himself, he was just waiting for conformation. Staring into his soulful brown eyes, she sighed. "Yes." A pained expression crossed Dean's face, his lower lip trembled and he gazed at his brother solemnly.
Sam's eyes swung back to his brother. "What happened after I was stabbed?"
"We already told you." Dean said.
"Not everything." Sam shook his head. "Neither one of you has told me everything."
Dean stared at Sam for a few moments, listening to the soft sounds of birds chirping, hidden in the lush trees on the edge of the highway. His gaze moved to Kelly and he watched her shake her head. She wanted him to spill the beans, but Dean wasn't ready yet. I don't want him to know. The words pounded through his mind. I don't want him to know. Instead, he spread his hands.
"Sam," he said. "We just killed a demon." Thick moisture was gathering in the corners of his eyes. "Can't we celebrate for a minute?"
"Dean," Sam said patiently. "I just fished a knife out of my chest. It was buried in there." His fingers moved to where his blood had stained his shirt. "I could pass it off for the whole I'm immortal bit, but the thing didn't even hurt when it went it. Something's wrong and I don't know what. The pair of you are the only ones with the answers and I have to know, Dean. Did I die? Did you sell your soul for me like Dad did for you?"
A long moment of silence passed between the brothers and Sam found himself wishing that Dean would shake his head and say no. He wanted to believe that what had happened was the result of his bond with Kelly. He wanted to believe that was all it was. But a small part of his mind questioned it. Questioned everything. The knife blade in his chest should have hurt. It hadn't. The aches and pains he was feeling was normal, but it felt ghost like as if the nerve ends weren't connecting to his brain. He couldn't shove it to the back of his mind. Couldn't hide from it. The answer was staring him in the face. His heart sank into his stomach as he watched his brother nod.
"How long did you get?" Sam asked, his voice soft.
Dean smiled a sickly grin. "One year."
He heard Kelly's sharp intake of breath, glanced at her and saw tears gathering in the corners of her eyes. She was staring at him in horror. He hadn't told her either, had barely mentioned the deal. He remembered she'd promised to sit him down and discuss it, something he'd been anxiously hoping to avoid. He couldn't see her eyes because she'd looked away, staring intently at the ground as if she could sieve through each fleck of dirt. He saw her knuckles growing white as they wrapped around her arms. He'd hurt her. Good. Dean had allowed himself a moment of weakness before, but he couldn't now. I have to end it. I have to make her hate me as much as possible. The very idea made his stomach twist into knots. But this was the road I decided to walk and damn it I'm gonna walk it!
Sam was nodding, his eyes glazed with tears, shining in the early morning light.
"I got one year." Dean repeated.
Kelly stared at the floor, her fingers tightening on her sleeves. No! I don't accept this! Her eyes narrowed and hardened as she glanced at the boys again. I already swore that I'd try to get him out of it. I swore! And she would. Even if she had to sell what was left of her, she'd find a way.
"You shouldn't a done that." Sam said, his voice cracking with emotion. Anguish rolled through him like waves, moving in and out, but never giving him a moment's rest. He glanced over at Kelly and saw her nod. She was in agreement. We'll figure out a way to save him. "How could you do that?"
Kelly blinked, trying to keep her tears hidden behind her eyelashes. "How?" Her voice came out strangled. "How could you accept such a horrible deal?"
"It was the best one they offered." Dean said. He was trying to make light of the situation, trying and failing miserably.
"Dean?" Her voice was shaking, he could hear it. The way she said his name still gave him thrills. "Dean, why?" The horrible pain slipping into her voice made Sam turn and slide a comforting arm around Kelly's shoulders. She lifted her head, her brown gold eyes clear. She was trying to be strong. "How could you?"
He shut his eyes, shaking his head. "Don't get mad at me." He said. "Either of you!" The words were hard and jagged as they escaped from his mouth. "Don't you do that." He swallowed. "I was working with what I knew and I had to. I had to Sammy. Even Kelly understood." He heard her snort but it was more of a broken kind of sniffle. "I had to look out for you." His voice grew thick with pent up emotion. "That's my job!"
"And what do you think my job is?" Sam asked, facing off against his brother.
"Or mine?" Kelly asked.
"What?" Dean asked. He stared at both of them like they'd gone completely bonkers.
"You save my life." Sam said. "Over and over, I mean you sacrifice everything for me, don't you think I'd do the same for you?"
"It's the same for me, Dean." Kelly added, her voice soft and level as she gazed up at them. "You, both of you were there for me when I had nobody else." Her voice shook a little and her eyes grew sad, as if she was remembering better days. "You took me in, you practically raised me to be a hunter, not even knowing what I was. You never treated me like a freak." Her gaze softened. "You took care of me, protected me, even when you had no reason to. You always came for me, accepted me, loved me." Her hands went deep into her pockets and her brown-gold eyes remained focused on Dean. "You think I wouldn't give everything up for you?"
"I thought you already did." Dean said, his mouth curving into a pained smile. For somebody else. He was trying not to be bitter about the bond she shared with Sam, but it was difficult. Like my nose is always being rubbed in it. He knew that wasn't their fault, but it still hurt.
"Then, I'd give whatever I had left." Kelly said. Her eyes glaring at him, her hands crossing over her chest again. Sam's arm still around her shoulder.
"Dean," Sam said. "You're my big brother. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you."
"You're someone I love." Kelly added. "So, I stand by Sam." The depths of her golden brown eyes measured him, gently sifting through his emotions. She wanted to reach out and pull him into a hug, but she knew she couldn't. She didn't want to have to face the pain of his rejetion when he turned away. "There's nothing I wouldn't do."
"I don't care what it takes." Sam continued. "I'm gonna get you out of this."
"We're going to get you out of this." Kelly corrected. She glared at Dean fiercely.
Dean chuckled as Sam added. "I guess I'm gonna have to save your ass for a change."
"Yeah, and we'll do it whether you want us to or not!" Kelly added. Regaining some of her old spirit as she tossed her head, her dark eyes glittering in the darkness. Even after all her statements, she knew without a doubt what was coming next.
"All right." Dean sighed. "I doubt I could stop you without having to hogtying one of you to a bed post."
"And hang their underwear as a waving banner out of the Impala." Kelly said.
Dean whistled. "Well, that's something I'd really like to see. Cause we all know it'll be your underwear we're usin', Kelly." He chuckled. "After all, you're the only one here who buys them at Victoria's Secret."
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed. "That's seven kinds of indecent!"
"Actually, Sammy that's one kind of indecent." Dean smirked. "And our precious little scameroo was the one who suggested it. Maybe you should take up your argument with her dirty mind." His eyebrows rose suggestively over his sharp hazel eye, a genuine smile playing across his mouth. "Maybe it's her pink polka dot thongs making you nervous. You telling me you can't see those tethered from the Impala's antenna?"
Kelly frowned at Dean with pursed lips but her anger was all a façade, as she tried to cover her amusement. Covering her mouth with a smile she turned away from them. The casual banter making her throat tight. She swallowed, her mouth dry. Tongue flickering over her lips, wetting them, she resisted the urge to nibble on her fingers. I have to be straight with him. Kelly couldn't live her life in limbo. He's either dating me or he isn't. She swallowed again, knowing that after all the hurt she'd suffered this would be worse.
"If we're all done discussing my underwear." Kelly said in a slow voice. "Dean and I have a matter that we need to clear up." She glanced up at Sam. "Could we have some privacy?"
"Sure." Sam nodded, sliding into the Impala.
Dean swallowed. He'd known this was coming, but he wanted to put it off a while longer. To at least pretend that everything's normal, if only for a little while. But one glance at Kelly's determined face told Dean that he'd already run out of time. He sighed, rubbing the back of his head. I'll let her down easy. He'd done it to hundreds of girls before. But never one I really loved. He swallowed again, trying to loosen up his throat. He needed to sound cold, aloof, detached. Like he was avoiding her.
"What do you want?" He asked as she faced him. Inwardly, he cringed, that had been a little harsher than he'd intended. Still, he couldn't detect a flinch.
"There's a small hill just off the highway." Kelly said. She lifted her left hand to point up at a small rise, not too far away. I don't know why it has to be this way? She still wasn't sure what she'd done. Other than worked for the enemy. That was reason enough to hate her, she supposed.
Dean nodded. "Lead the way." He said.
They crossed the highway and hopped the barrier. Slowly climbing up the smooth low mound. Thick grass tickled their ankles as they strode up the hill. Kelly with her hands deep in her pockets, her hair touched by a crown of sunlight. Dean followed her silently, his own thoughts whirring in his mind. He didn't know what to expect, would she cry? Collapse into sobs? Beat him to death? What would she do when he was forced to say that they couldn't be together? He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to find out. But as they neared the summit of the small hill, and Kelly stepped onto the flat curve of the tiny mesa. Dean's thoughts were a whirr inside his mind, his heart thudding against his ribcage. He felt small and beaten, the way he had when Sam had questioned him about the demon deal. Why is everything taken from me? His mother, his father, and now Kelly. The demon had wanted the deal to torture him, well, he was going to let himself be tortured. I can't do much else.
Kelly slowed and came to a stop. She turned around to face him, her hands still deep in her pockets. The beams of the rising sun nearly in her eyes. She swallowed, summoning all her courage. "Do you still love me?" Kelly asked. Her hands tightening into fists in her pockets as she stared at him.
"No." Dean lied. He tried to keep his face smooth. "I did once, but not anymore."
Kelly bit her lip, she wouldn't ask why. She wouldn't. Slowly, she nodded. "So, that means you no longer wish to…."
"Continue our relationship?" Dean finished for her. "No, I'd like to start seeing other people." He was surprised by how easy the lies came. Maybe if I lie to myself enough, it'll be true. He thought. A pained smile tickled the edges of his mouth, but he kept his lips in a firm line. "I mean it was fun while it lasted…"
"I get it." Kelly said. Her voice was hard, on the verge of trembling. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes and she forced them back. Stepping towards her emotionless center. "So we're done?" She asked. "This is it?"
"Yeah." He replied. He stared at her face as she looked up at him. He could see the tears in her eyes, glimmering on the edges of her lashes. He wanted to wipe them away, to tell her that it had all been a big joke, that he didn't mean it. But he couldn't. Not without sacrificing Sam.
She looked down. "I love you, you know." She said. "I always have." She swallowed, and sucked in a deep breath. Then she faced him, her eyes brave, but Dean could see her lower lip trembling as her gaze met his.
"I know." He replied.
"And I always will." Her voice was firm as she stepped forward and put her hand on his chest, but as she leaned in to kiss him he took a step back. He couldn't. Hurt flooded her expression and she looked away from him. Moving back, she turned and cast a glance off of the small hill, out towards where Sam was sitting on the hood of the Impala. Dean watched as a small, sad, smile twisted on her lips. He knew that she blamed this on herself. He knew she thought that in choosing to help him save Sam, she had sacrificed their relationship. She believed that was the reason why he no longer wanted her, because she'd chosen Sam over him. But it wasn't true. He wished he could tell her that.
"I know." He repeated. "But it's time for both of us to move on."
Kelly swallowed and nodded curtly. She couldn't say goodbye. They weren't leaving him. We'll still be together. And that just made everything worse. Silently, she turned and walked down the hill towards Sam. She had made her bed and it was time she slept in it. There are always consequences. Sticking her hands deep in her pockets, she slid down the hill. Her boots slipping on the muddy embankment and she wiped away the tear that trickled down her cheek. She wouldn't stop loving him, she decided, even if he no longer wanted to be with her. I'm going to save him. She lifted her eyes to see Sam. When he saw her approach, he straightened up off of the Impala. She could feel the energy flow between them, and it was comforting. Kelly smiled and walked to his side. "Come on." She said. Grabbing the lapel of his jacket, she dragged him towards the passenger side door. "We've got work to do."
On the hill, Dean stood, watching them. He couldn't get rid of the lump in his throat or the jealousy twisting his stomach into knots. He watched as she grabbed Sam, knowing that was where he should be. He watched as she threw her arm conspiratorially around his brother's shoulders and swallowed. He'd made his decision and this had to be part of his punishment. Demon's have a sick sense of humor. Well, it was just something that he'd have to live with. Kelly Jones wasn't the only woman in the world. But she's still the only one you want. A traitorous voice hissed in the back of his mind. Dean raised his gaze and shook his head. He'd made his choice and now, he had to live with it. Dean shook his head. Starting now. He followed her footsteps down the hill. Behind him, the sun finally broke over the horizon and rose into the gray morning. It was a new day.
AN: Wow, that was a lot of work, and now this chapter of the story is closed. I think I feel a little sad deep inside. Thank you, for sticking with me the whole way through. I hope it made sense at the end and I hope that you enjoyed this race to the finish line. I would feel worse I think, if I was saying goodbye to Kelly completely. She's a character who grew on me as I was writing her and she's been a good friend. Again, thank you for reading my story and congratulations on making it to the end. As this is the last chapter I hope that you'll review.
But the adventures of Kelly Jones and the Winchesters aren't over. Remember to check out the continuation of this story in Grim Fate, the sequel to Down the Rabbit Hole.
Kelly Jones has problems: a Winchester is headed for hell, the other made immortal, and war is brewing. Now, with her replacement sent and Baba Yaga counting bullets, things are about to get worse this side of the Rabbit Hole.