Life Goes On
Disclaimer: See chapter 1
A/N: Thanks to Marie for the plot beta and Kelli for the technical beta.
If you're so inclined to celebrate Christmas, I hope it was a good one for you. I'll be with my friends on Saturday once The Big Thaw beings. Seriously, who did the Pacific Northwest piss off; cuz the weather has really been horrible for a couple of weeks now!
Thanks for reading; hope you liked this one!
When the sun shines life goes on
When the rain falls life goes on
When the sun shines or the rain falls life goes on.
When you're happy life goes on
When you're sad life goes on
When you're happy or you're sad if you're good or if you're bad life goes on
When you're laughing life goes on
When you're crying life goes on
If you're laughing or you're crying
If you're' living or you're dying life goes on.
- Elizabeth Quinn -
Sam met Kristine and his brother at the Sunflower Inn. He noticed his brother's quiet, almost timid behavior, but didn't comment. No one was particularly hungry, so they decided to get on the road and stop for food later. Sam drove the Impala while Kristine and Dean took the Maserati.
Dean didn't bother to turn the radio on and he didn't talk as mile after mile went by. Kristine put her hand on his thigh and he glanced at her, a tender expression on his face, but he said nothing. Three hours later, she suggested they turn off at the next exit and Dean didn't resist. She called Sam and they met up at a roadside bar. It wasn't particularly busy even though it was prime drinking time on a Friday night.
They ordered burgers and beers, then sat back to watch the crowd. Most of the customers seemed to be bikers and classic rock came from speakers in the ceiling. Sam tried to start a few conversations, but it was obvious that Dean didn't want to talk.
Sam thought that his brother had a nightmare and hoped that Kristine had been able to get through to him, but judging by his demeanor now, that didn't seem likely. He knew Dean's dreams were becoming more frequent and more vivid, but he refused to even admit he was having them let alone be willing to talk about them.
He remembered his own dreams; the ones about Jessica before his visions started. Dean had wanted him to talk about them, but he refused. Looking back, it probably would have been better if he'd taken his brother's advice and he wished he could find a way to say that to Dean now.
Sam hated that Dean was suffering and wouldn't let him help, not that it was unusual. Some things never change, Sam figured and while he wanted to be the one Dean turned to, he'd be grateful if Kristine could help him.
The waitress dropped off their drinks and Dean excused himself to go to the men's room.
"He okay?" Sam asked when he and Kristine were alone.
"Yeah, he just…He didn't sleep very well."
Kristine looked at Sam and he shrugged. "It's hard to hide them when we sleep in the same room every night. Did he talk to you about it?"
"Not really. And let me guess; he hasn't talked to you, either."
"No," Sam sighed. "He blows them off; says he doesn't remember."
"I don't think he does remember the specifics," Kristine said not wanting to betray Dean's confidence, not that he'd shared all that much information with her.
"I'm worried about him," Sam said.
"You know your brother. He'll come to you when he's ready."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, I know. But….Look, I don't know if I should say anything, but…"
"Don't say anything unless you're sure."
He looked at her. "Dean hesitated when he…when we were fighting Sebastian, Dean hesitated. It was like he didn't want to do it. I don't know if that's because of the nightmares, his memories, or what, but…."
"Are you worried he'll freeze on another job?"
"No. At least I don't think I am."
"Well, you know what I always say. Be patient; he'll talk when he's ready."
Spotting Dean on his way back, Sam sat back in his chair and changed the subject. If Dean suspected he'd been the topic of conversation, he didn't let on. He was a little more talkative after the food arrived, but not much.
They made it to Nashville during business hours on Saturday and Kristine sold the convertible to the exotic car dealer where Sebastian had purchased it originally. She knew she could get more for it selling it privately, but that would have required a more legal sale than she had the desire to deal with. The dealer in Nashville was legitimate, but not above making special deals when the situation warranted. Sebastian told her about him several days before.
They got to Mountain Ridge four hours after leaving Nashville and Ellen came out of the door when the Impala parked at the back of the estate house. She hugged Kristine first, then each of the brothers. Sometime during the drive Dean's mood had lightened and Ellen didn't notice that anything had been wrong.
Inside, over a light lunch, they caught Ellen up on what had happened.
"So, what's next? Summoning the demon and exorcising it?"
Kristine shrugged. "That was sort of the plan before. I'm not sure if we need to reassess."
"Well, at least in the meantime we can be relatively sure that Nicholas is safe from vampires," Ellen pointed out.
The others agreed.
"You'll be going to Charlotte, I assume?" Ellen asked.
"Yeah; I promised the boys I'd come and they expected Sam and Dean a couple days ago. They know we've been….busy," Kristine said.
"That's a nice way to put it," Ellen snorted.
Kristine and the Winchesters decided to wait until the next day to go to Charlotte, but they called and spent a lot of time talking to everyone there. Sam had already filled Bobby in on what happened in Oklahoma and neither one of them had come up with a way to safely get rid of the demon that was seemingly after Nicholas and other children like him.
Dean decided to spend the night at the cottage with Kristine. It was on the edge of the property and for years had been the home of the estate caretaker. For most of her lifetime it had been used as a guest house or storage and she took it over after her mother died.
Kristine made a quick check of the house, sure there would be no problems, then settled on the couch with Dean.
"It feels weird to be back here," Dean said putting his arm around Kristine's shoulders. "I never thought…."
She leaned against him. "Neither did I."
"How ya doin'? You haven't said much about the whole Sebastian thing."
"I was wrong," Kristine shrugged. "I couldn't trust him."
"Yeah, but that isn't what I meant. What he wanted to do –"
"He didn't do it. Nathaniel went out on a limb for me and you…You made sure he'd never come back." Kristine turned her eyes toward him, remembering what Sam had told her about Dean freezing. "You okay with how it turned out?"
Dean held her more securely. "You're safe, so yeah. Nice table turning, by the way."
Kristine smiled to herself. "Thanks. But honestly, babe, I'm not deflecting or ignoring what could have happened. It terrifies me; what could have happened….But it didn't and I'm not going to crawl under a rock because of a could have. At least not today. Tomorrow may bring something different.'
Dean brushed her head with a light kiss when she rested her head on his shoulder.
"How long do you think you and Sam can stick around?" she asked.
"A few days, at least. I don't know. I'd stay forever if I could, but –"
"Don't say that; we both know it isn't true." She looked at him again. "And I don't mean that in a cruel way. It's just facts."
"Maybe," Dean said. "Before. I'm not so sure now. But I need to find out what the angels have in mind for me and this whole apocalypse thing," Dean looked at her. "It's never easy, is it?"
Kristine smiled and touched his cheek. "What would be the fun in that?"
"So, you and Ellen okay?"
"Oh, yeah. We had it out on the phone and in the kitchen. And I'm sure she'll yell at me again, but we're fine."
"That's good. And you're not going to take off and be out of touch again, are you?"
Kristine ignored the slight condescension in Dean's tone. She deserved it. "No. I learned my lesson. It's not like I didn't know I was doing something stupid; I guess I just didn't care."
"I'm not that important," Dean said.
Kristine didn't think he'd intended to say it out loud. She sat up and looked him in the eyes. She saw none of the confidence that was usually in them and she put a hand to his cheek. "You're important to me."
Dean seemed to be searching her face and she moved closer to kiss him gently. They didn't bother moving from the couch and later, lying with Dean under an afghan, Kristine thought about how she felt being with him. She'd had a lot of sexual partners in her life, but no one made her feel the way Dean did.
Maybe having him around all the time some day wouldn't be such a bad idea.
With no decisions made about the next steps, Kristine and the Winchesters headed to Charlotte the next day. There wasn't a lot of serious talk once they arrived. Bobby was still there, but the primary focus of the day was to spend some fun time with the boys.
Sunday night, Kristine was sitting in the den when she heard Nicholas' footsteps on the hardwood floor in the hallway. Before she could react, the little boy had run into the room and climbed up on her lap. He was wearing Superman pajamas and smelled of soap.
"You had your bath, huh?" she helped him get situated.
"Yeah, Dean helped me. He said I could come to talk to you before I went to bed."
"Talk to me about what?"
"I messed up."
"What do you mean?"
"That man you was with. I didn't know he was a bad guy."
"Did Dean tell you –"
"Uh-uh. I didn't know at first, but now I do. I guess I got it wrong."
Kristine looked at Nicholas' face. His big blue eyes were so innocent and young, but somehow full of wisdom he shouldn't have. She hugged him and kissed the top of his head. "You didn't get anything wrong, sweetie."
"I shoulda known."
"You know what I think?"
"I think that things change. When you dream something, I don't think it's set in stone. Do you know what that means?"
Nicholas shook his head.
"Set in stone means something won't change. It can't change. Get it?"
"I think so, but…"
"You see things, either in your dreams or some other way, but that doesn't mean they can't change. I think whatever we did to make sure the vampires didn't attack me changed the ending. Does that make sense?"
"I can see things, but they might change, right?"
She smiled at him. "Yeah, that's right. But no matter what, none of it is your fault. No one expects you to know everything, okay?"
The little boy smiled at her. "Okay."
Kristine returned his smile. Sometimes it was so easy; why couldn't it always be?
Angelica walked into the room. "Hey, you. It's bedtime. You have school tomorrow."
"Aw, man!" Nicholas protested, but his face held the smile.
Kristine shook her head with a laugh and helped him slide off of her lap. "I'll see you in the morning, okay?"
"Goodnight, Kristine." He kissed her and headed off with Angelica.
"Is there any word on Tom?" Dean asked Bobby as the adults talked once the boys were tucked safely into bed.
"Yes and no. I haven't talked to him, but from what I've been able to find out, it seems likely he went into hiding."
"Because of the vampires?"
Bobby shrugged. "No word on Liam, though."
"And speaking of demons," Dean glanced around the table.
"Kek," Bobby nodded. "There's a lot of work to do before we go after him. If we go after him."
Sam agreed. "We need to know more than what we do now. But with the vampires out of the way, Nicholas and other kids like him should be safe."
"Kristine's stupid plan pays off," she grinned.
"Go ahead; get cocky," Dean said with a roll of his eyes.
She shrugged, but her grin didn't falter. After some more good-natured banter by everyone around the table, the guests took their leave. The Raines didn't have enough space for four additional people, so Kristine had rented rooms at a nearby hotel.
Just after midnight, Dean woke up from a nightmare. It wasn't as vivid as some of the other ones he'd had and he didn't wake Kristine. He went to the bathroom, then stood in the doorway watching Kristine sleep. Without Nathaniel, Kristine could very well be something he'd have to hunt now and…
Dean wiped a hand over his face. Moving quietly, he got dressed and left the room. He had more than a little need to talk to Sam; he didn't understand it exactly, but he wasn't going to fight it. He wasn't completely surprised, though, to see Castiel in the hallway.
"Time for a pep talk?" Dean asked, closing the door behind him.
"Hello, Dean," Castiel said. "Do you need a pep talk?"
"I was just going to see Sam."
The angel nodded. "This won't take long."
Dean sighed and nodded.
"Your friend, Tom, is safe. I can't tell you where he is, but you probably shouldn't look for him right now."
"What if we do?"
"He'll be in touch soon, so it might not matter. And the vampires," Castiel looked toward the closed room door. "Although a foolish plan, it seems to have had the desired effect. Kek will have a hard time convincing anyone else to work for him right now. That doesn't mean he won't find alternate means."
"I don't know anything for sure," Castiel said, earning him an eye roll from Dean. "But it stands to reason. And if it's true that he's taken up where Azazel left off, we will have to keep an eye on the situation."
"We as in you and me or, we as in the angels."
"The more eyes, the better."
"Are you all right?" Castiel asked after a moment.
Dean paused. The angel had never asked about his well-being before; at least not so directly. "I guess I…I could really use a day off, ya know? I've been back from Hell a few weeks and it's been non-stop drama. And Kristine…She could be a vampire right now! I just…"
Dean was surprised that Castiel not only moved toward him, but put a hand on his shoulder. The last time there'd been physical contact, he'd ended up in the past with his parents. This time, nothing happened, but he somehow felt calmer even though tears stung his eyes.
"I want to talk to my brother."
Castiel nodded. "Go ahead."
Dean walked past him, but looked back before knocking on Sam's door. Castiel was gone. He knocked on the door and when Sam opened it, it was clear he'd been sleeping.
"Something wrong?" he asked Dean with concern.
"Uh, no. Sorry it's so late, but I…I –"
Sam moved aside. "Come in."
Dean walked past him and stood nervously in the center of the room. Sam closed the door and looked at his brother, his head cocked to the side. "What's going on?"
"Um, we didn't talk about what happened with Sebastian and I want you to know that I know I froze. I can't explain it," Dean paused. He could, sort of, but he didn't want to. "It's not going to happen again."
"You wanted to tell me that now?" Sam asked. "What's really going on, Dean?"
Dean looked at him, then turned away and began to pace.
"Did you have a nightmare?" Sam asked.
When Dean turned around, he saw his brother sitting on the edge of the bed. He was surprised by the question, but not because he thought Sam didn't know. More than once Sam had been awake and by his bed when a dream ended; the more violent ones that caused him to cry out in his sleep. They'd not talked about Dean's dreams yet. So far, Sam had let it go when Dean blew them off.
"I really don't remember the dreams, Sammy," Dean said quietly.
"I believe you."
"But I remember the feelings. I don't know what I dreamed about tonight, but I woke up thinking about Sebastian and what happened with him. I know I hesitated, but I don't know why. You can trust me though, okay? I won't let you down in the field."
"Dean,' Sam hesitated. "Man, I didn't think you would. You've been out there already; there was just something personal about this job, that's all."
"It doesn't matter what I think. You have to trust me."
"I do," Sam said and stood up. "You've got my back; I know that."
Dean nodded. He still couldn't explain why he'd needed to tell Sam this, especially at midnight, but he felt better.
"I saw Castiel. He said Tom is safe."
"Where is he?"
"Cas doesn't know," he saw Sam's frustrated look. "I know; it's annoying."
"Yeah, but let's hope he's right about Tom."
Dean nodded. "Look, uh, I'll let you get back to sleep."
"You can stay if –"
"Thanks, but I'm okay now."
"All right. Hey, Bobby and I were talking and I'm gonna head to his place with him; do some research. Why don't you hang with Kristine for a few days and meet me later?"
"Yeah. You deserve a couple days off."
Dean looked at him sharply, but didn't say anything. He wasn't excited about Sam going off on his own, especially not after what had happened before….but Dean wasn't dead this time and Sam would stay with Bobby. And he really did want to spend a little time with Kristine.
Sam and Bobby stayed long enough the next day to say goodbye to Nicholas and Alex before they went to school. Kristine hugged Bobby, then went to the passenger side of the car where Dean was standing with his brother. She made sure they were done speaking before she approached and Dean left them alone.
"We're really okay?" Sam asked her.
She smiled up at him. "Absolutely."
He glanced to his brother and she followed his gaze. "Don't worry; I'll send him back to you soon."
"Take care of him; I'm a little worried."
Kristine didn't respond.
Although Nicholas and Alex went to school each day and still participated in their normal extracurricular activities, Kristine and Dean stayed around for a few more days before going back to Mountain Ridge. Dean and Sam talked at least once a day and when Sam came across something that looked like a job, Dean made plans to meet him.
His last night in Mountain Ridge, Dean and Kristine went to Mojo, the bar in town that her family owned. A local band was playing and plenty of people were glad to see Dean again. They talked to people, ate and drank for a few hours before heading back to the cottage.
Kristine started a fire and settled on the floor in front of it with a blanket and some pillows. Dean joined her with a couple of beers from the refrigerator. He sat with his back against the couch and Kristine leaned back against him, between his legs. There were a lot of things they could, and probably should, talk about, but with the lights down and music coming from the stereo, talking seemed unnecessary.
Dean thought about what he'd said to Kristine; about how he'd stay if he could. Technically, he supposed he could, but he'd been brought back for a reason. If he refused to keep playing the game, there would no doubt be repercussions. Despite that, he'd meant what he said. At least he thought he'd meant it. It's kind of hard to know for sure since it really wasn't something he could do.
But as he looked at Kristine and felt her against him, he wanted to mean it. Maybe that was just as good. He had sex with a lot of women, but Kristine was the only one he had a relationship with outside of sex and he liked it. He felt at home in Mountain Ridge; the estate, especially the cottage, was a place he could be happy.
Dean had just been about drifted off to sleep when he felt Kristine move next to him. He opened his eyes and watched as she slipped his t-shirt over her head before putting another log on the dying fire.
"Hey," he said, holding out a hand to her. "That's my shirt."
She snuggled back down next to him. "I know, but if I'm wearing it, you can't take it with you tomorrow."
"I could just take it off of you tonight," he said slipping a hand underneath the shirt.
"You think so, huh?"
Dean was surprised by how quickly she moved; she was on top of him with his arms playfully pinned to the floor before he realized what she was doing.
"I can still take you," he grinned.
"I'm betting on it."
Dean rolled her off of him and a moment later was looking down at her.
"What do you know?" she asked. "You were right.'
Later, after Kristine had reclaimed the t-shirt, she sat next to Dean with the blanket wrapped around them. "Can I talk to you about something?"
"Nothing serious, babe. Not tonight."
She smiled. "Less than five minutes; I promise."
"Can I stop you?"
Dean sighed. "Hit me."
Kristine considered her words for several moments. "I want you to promise me something."
Dean's face was serious. "I'm not going to like this."
"Your nightmares –"
"Just hear me out. Less than five minutes, remember?" She didn't wait for him to respond. "Talk to Sam about them. Don't shut him out."
Dean looked away, but she put her hand on his face and gently turned it toward her. "You have a little relationship rebuilding to do. Besides that, he loves you and he worries about you."
"He already feels guilty enough. I don't ever want to add to that; especially when there's nothing he can do."
"It's not about him being able to do anything; you'll work through this in your own way. But you need his support and he need to be able to offer it to you. It doesn't matter what you tell him or what you don't, for that matter. Not letting him in won't assuage his guilt and it will only allow his imagination to fill in the blanks. Talk to your brother, Dean."
He looked at her for a long time before he nodded slightly. She lay her head on his shoulder. "Was that so bad?"
Dean's only response was to hold her tighter and kiss her head tenderly.
"You take it easy, honey," Ellen said to Dean the next morning with a bear hug. "And come back soon."
Dean returned the hug. "I will. Thanks for breakfast."
"Try to keep an eye on Kristine this time," he said with a mischievous grin.
Ellen slapped his arm. "Go!"
Dean laughed, hugged her once more and then headed for the Impala, holding Kristine's hand.
Outside, they kissed tenderly. When Kristine pulled away, she put her hands on his face. "I adore you, Dean Winchester."
She said that to him every time he went away and his response was normally something humorous, but this time he looked into her eyes. "I adore you, too, Kristine Ryan."
She had to blink away her surprise.
"No more stupid plans, okay?"
Kristine smiled. "None that I won't tell you about first."
He shook his head. Sometimes you just had to take what you could get.
Dean knew that Sam was already at the restaurant when he pulled into the parking lot. They'd talked on the phone a lot while Dean was in North Carolina, but it seemed almost constant since he'd hit the road. Dean had even needed to use the car charger for his cell phone because he'd been on it so much.
They talked about the job Sam found; they talked about Tom, Liam and Kek. It didn't really matter what they talked about, it just made Dean feel better to be in contact with his brother. It probably wasn't unusual considering how they'd grown up and what they'd been through since; especially their recent separation.
Dean saw Sam sitting at a table near the entrance. His nose was stuck in a book, but as if he'd sensed Dean walking through the door, he looked up. It had been less than ten minutes since they'd spoken and Dean was surprised at his relief at being in the same room with him again.
Sam smiled as Dean walked toward him then flagged down a waitress. Dean had barely sat down before she brought him a beer. Now that they were in the same place, they didn't seem to have anything to say. It didn't matter; the silence was comfortable.
There was a long road ahead of them, but in the short-term Dean knew that Sam was worried about his nightmares and he was worried about Sam's powers and Ruby's influence over him. They'd get through it, though. They always did. And no matter what, they'd still be brothers.