"Do you ever stop talking?" couldn't have been the first thing he'd ever said to her, but maybe it was, given that he could hardly get a word in edgewise when she got going.

"Wait, say that again," she said, brown eyes gleaming at him through messy hair when he finally dragged his gaze from her hands, sure that one of them was ready to fly at his face for his rudeness.

"What? No." Bad enough he'd said it once. Bad enough she could apparently talk 24/7 and hear everything he muttered.

"No, it's what we need for #12! 'A question phrased so that it clearly expects the answer "no."' Now all we have to do is translate it into Latin."

He relaxed a little; her tone was the give-away, bright and cheerful, and not pissed. Or if she was pissed, then she wasn't going to sulk about it; she might just get him back some other way, though, so he'd have to stay sharp. "Piece of cake," he grinned, and she grinned back.

Of course she wouldn't let him have the last word. "Yeah, you're a genius. And I guess I am too, for partnering up with you."

*

There was no escaping this girl. Once he'd figured out what everything she was saying boiled down to - want to come over and finish this Latin homework with me? - he'd refused, just shaking his head, because, honestly, he was curious about whether the fact that she talked non-stop meant that body language was a total mystery to her.

Apparently, it wasn't, because she cut herself off so abruptly Dean thought for a split-second that he'd gone deaf. "Sorry," he said, looking at the way she focused over his shoulder and started to chew on one of her nails. "My little brother's got soccer practice, and I gotta take him to the field, keep an eye on him." He scratched the back of his neck when her eyes drifted back toward his face. "You know."

She laughed suddenly around the finger in her mouth, low and sweet, and he started to smile before he caught himself. "What's so funny?"

"Nothing, nothing," she said, holding her hands up in front of her like she was shooing him away. "I'll see you around, Catullus."

*

"Where the hell is this place, Sammy?" Dean said, looking in vain for a street sign.

"It's Sam," Sammy said, like that was the really pressing issue at hand.

"Where -"

"I dunno. It's called West Field, so maybe . . . west?"

"And which way would that be, Magellan?"

"I told Dad Scott's mom could take me, but nooooo. Like there's going to be some ambush in the middle of practice." Sammy made a big production of adjusting his flimsy little shin-guards.

"Sam." Dean was about ready to pull over, because these stupid roads all wound into each other, and instead of useful street markers there was just grass and trees and cutesy little signs that said shit like The Martins and George Washington slept here. Dean would bet that old GW had been lost too, and that he'd sucked on his wooden teeth in annoyance when he got turned around for the fourteenth time. "Think. There are a lot of fields in this town. Is it behind a school? Is it near the park? Next to the library?"

"Um . . ."

"Never mind." Dean saw a station wagon loaded with kids Sammy's age coming toward him. He let it pass, executed a sharp and sweet U, and they were on their way.

*

So apparently Leena did have thoughts in her head that never made it out of her mouth. Of course, he had to learn that the hard way.

He was sitting on the soft, damp grass with an Electrical Engineering textbook on his lap - what kind of low-rent field didn't even have bleachers, anyway? - and keeping his ears open for anything but the sounds of twenty little dweebs running around after a soccer ball when he felt a light kick on the sole of one boot. He twisted a little and looked up to see Leena, backlit by the sun, laughing down at him.

"What?" he muttered, ignoring the hand she reached down, because it wasn't like he needed help getting up.

"That's my house," she said, pointing at the snug little place twenty yards away that he'd been eyeing as a good hideout if the clouds overhead did what they'd been threatening. "You can see the field from the kitchen, if you move a couple of the plants from the windowsill, and it's really nice, and I make coffee that could raise the dead and sit there and zone out sometimes, and -"

"Yeah, okay," he said, "let's get our Latin done."

*

Her house was like a junk shop, all cluttered with stuff, some of it old and some of it new, nearly everything somehow unfamiliar. He was getting his bearings when she came up behind him, and said, "Do you want - I offered coffee, right - so would you - I bet you want some coffee."

"Do you even need other people for your conversations?" he asked, once he found the window she'd mentioned and located his particular dweeb.

She just laughed. "Decaf then?"

He whirled around in horror, and she went into a full-on giggling fit. "You're so easy, Dean." Leena moved briskly around the tiny kitchen, pouring grounds into some kind of weird contraption with glass and something that looked like a plunger.

He watched for a moment, took in the smile she didn't even seem to know she was still wearing, and sat. The chair looked older than Dad, but it was surprisingly comfortable, and it was kind of nice to sit in a warm kitchen that smelled of coffee that he hadn't had to make and just let his eyes wander.

Before he could get too distracted by the shiny object shaped like something he'd seen in one of Dad's books hanging on the wall, she came up behind him and set a mug of coffee and a plate of cake in front of him. The cake was the kind with real crumbs on top, made with real butter, and Dean nearly groaned in anticipation.

When he opened his eyes, she was surveying him with satisfaction. "What?" he asked, looking away, looking through the window to find that familiar mop-top, but she just kept beaming at him. "Do you want to get some homework done or not?"

She didn't make a move to grab her books. "How come you know so much Latin?" She cut herself off before her real question could get buried - he saw her restrain herself.

Dean figured he owed her for the cake and god, the coffee, so he said, "My dad. He had us learning it pretty early on."

"I've seen him, I think. Tall, dark hair, a beard?"

Dad always grew a beard when they were relocating, said he didn't want to stop driving for long enough to shave. Dean had hinted that he could do some of the driving if Dad wanted to primp, and he'd gotten a resounding smack upside the head for that one. "Yeah," he said.

"Hmmm," she said, while he drained the last of his coffee and his eyes fluttered closed - it was just that good.

"You've got doe-eyes," she announced, and he nearly dropped the mug right in his lap. She still had her fingers curled around her cup, and she was sitting back like she wasn't getting all personal.

He narrowed them. "I do not."

"Do too."

"What are you, four? I do not have eyes like a deer's, whatever that means."

"Don't you think it's weird that a bunch of deer is just a boring old herd, but a bunch of gnus is an implausibility?"

"I have never met anyone weirder than you. I gotta tell Sammy he's lost the crown," Dean muttered. "You're an implausibility."

"Now who's four?" she asked, grinning now that he'd sunk to her level. "Anyway, that makes you a whole bunch of buffaloes."

He knew he'd regret asking, but the words came out of his mouth anyway. "Yeah, what's that?"

"An obstinacy. Did you want to do Latin or just chat all day?"

*

It wasn't like Dean needed any brainy girl's help acing Latin, but of course Sammy had soccer practice every damn day, and Dad was too wrapped up in his research to notice whether they came home at three or at six. All that meant was that Dean ended up in Leena's little kitchen every day, drinking her life-giving coffee and listening to her talk. Her voice rose and fell like ocean waves, and he kind of liked the rhythm of it, but she wouldn't just let him sit there like a lump; she argued with him, floated deliberately outrageous theories about everything from their guidance counselor's social life to world politics, and made him talk.

He was starting to like it.

His voice gave out abruptly on the fourth afternoon, breaking once and then refusing to cooperate at all. Leena laughed at him - "you need to train to compete at this level" - and took shameless advantage of his muteness. He narrowed his eyes threateningly at her, going for panther, before he figured she'd still probably see deer. She did a dorky little victory jig and then declared herself the winner of their current argument while she busied herself making him hot tea with honey. As if he needed a girly drink like that.

She even put it in some fragile-looking cup with flowers and a weird twisty handle instead of his usual gargantuan mug, just proving his point, and when she set it down in front of him, saying something about how the honey would soothe his throat, he shut her up.

He kissed her.

*

Dean felt like an idiot, knocking on her front door, but he wasn't going to back away entirely or just breeze through the back door that she usually kept propped open for him. For a girl who talked all the livelong day, Leena was hard to read.

She didn't say hello or come in or anything like that when she finally answered. Instead, he got a signature weirdo question. "When you blush, how do the capillaries in each cheek know how many to break so that the color is even?"

"I have no goddamn idea," he said, relaxing because he knew then he hadn't blown it with her. His voice was still kind of hoarse, sort of whispery and growly at the same time. "Why?"

"Just trying to be prepared," she answered, reaching up with both hands to draw him down and kiss the breath right out of him.

The heat of her blush was warming his face too, locked so close, and her fingertips were doing tingly things to the back of his neck, just tracing along his hairline with a slow, sweet drag.

His fingers pushed up the hem of her t-shirt to find soft skin just above the rough fabric of her jeans. She shuddered a little, whispered "ticklish," and kept on going. He should have known she'd find a way to talk even while they were kissing.

Leena let him walk her backwards into the house, but she got her hands clamped around his wrists when he started to lift her shirt. She pulled her mouth away from his. "No," she whispered, biting her lip.

"Please?" he asked, and she snorted, but she still backed away skittishly when he reached out for her again. One of his hands landed on her belly, and the muscles shifted under his palm. "Are you - are you sucking in your stomach?" he asked, and her cheeks, already pink, darkened. Oh, shit. "Why?"

She shook her head, looking everywhere but at him. He didn't like seeing her look upset; he hated seeing her silent.

"C'mon, get your stuff," he said, capturing her unresisting hand and leading the way to the kitchen. "We've got a lot of work to do."

*

He kept his hands to himself, locked around his mug of coffee, while she spread her Shakespeare notes out on the table. "Where's yours?" she asked.

"Leena, Leena, Leena - I thought you knew me better than that by now," he said, and let himself push a curl away from her cheek when she laughed.

She tucked the lock away and looked down at her notebook, stumbling a little over the words of the first speech. He didn't say anything, just followed along in his own paperback, and pressed his thigh gently against hers.

She wasn't moving her leg away, and the sweet heat of her made it difficult to concentrate on the words spilling out of her mouth. "I always loved the name Illyria, the way it sounds. Illyria," she breathed, drawing it out, gesturing to go with it, her hand cupped like a dolphin at play. She clearly had no idea how good she looked when she stopped thinking about all the ways she didn't measure up, when she let go and just turned her brain and mouth loose.

"It matters, don't you think, how a name sounds, how it feels? As much as what it means."

"Okay," he said, shrugging.

"Well, what does Dean mean?" she asked, lifting her mug, and then freezing when she felt him tense against her.

He'd looked it up once, in the Melodious River Middle School library, because he'd needed to know what his mom had wanted for him, what she thought his destiny could be. "It means 'valley,'" he said; maybe Leena would know how to translate that into something useful.

She didn't say anything, but she dropped a hand to his knee and kept it there while he finished his coffee.

*

"Kuo's pop quiz? Nailed it," he bragged. "Knew every damn thing about Illyria," he said, repeating her hand motions.

"Shut up," she said, punching him lightly in the shoulder, though she couldn't keep a smile from her face.

He caught the hand and pulled her to a halt. "What do you say we skip the coffee today?" he asked. He could see fear in her eyes, but the pink on her cheeks gave her away. She tugged a little, and he set her free.

"I've never known you to turn down my coffee," she said, her voice deliberately light. "And I made danish for today."

He was on his third gargantuan bite when he felt the telltale tingle in the back of his throat. "Wha ki izz is?" he asked.

"What?"

"Wha ki izz is?" he repeated, lifting the top layer of pastry to reveal a layer of bright red, sugary, mashed-up fruit. "Izzit awberry?"

"Mixed berry," she said, bewildered, as he jumped up and turned on the sink, sticking his mouth under the faucet rather than waste time looking for a glass.

"I'm allergic to strawberries," he explained as clearly as he could when all of the spitting and rinsing and drying off were done, and took his seat at the table again.

She jumped up, clearly agitated. "Dean! I'm sorry - I had no -" She let out an oof when he pulled her down on his lap.

"Not gonna kill me. Just makes my tongue feel thick and maybe make my stomach feel a little funky for a day or so." She still looked alarmed. You're not going down for manslaughter, Margosa."

"Put a cork in it, Winchester," she said, hugging him tightly. "I'm not planning on anything less than an A in Latin."

Her hair was getting caught in his mouth, but he still managed to get his lips against her neck. "I'm not planning on going anywhere," he said.

She drew back to look him in the eye. "Really?"

"Yeah."

She traced his features with a light hand, looking wonderingly at him. "Tomorrow?"

*

It poured all night, and so Dean had to distract Dad with some bogus shit in the paper so that Sammy could get on the phone and find out if soccer practice was still on for after school. Dean never wanted to hear the phrase phone tree again.

He could tell from Sammy's dimply grin that the kid had plans from three to six. Well, good; so did he.

He could barely sit still all day, his leg jittering almost on its own, at least until he got to Latin. She was sitting at the desk next to his, just like always, but it might have been the first time ever that she didn't take any notes or raise her hand even a single time. "Catch you at three," he murmured into her ear when the bell rang, and she nodded with her eyes wide and fixed on his face.

*

"Hey, Leena?" he called when he opened the screen door. She wasn't standing in the kitchen, and he didn't think she was the type to be waiting, all naked and come hither in the bedroom, so where the hell was she?

"Owww," he heard, and followed the sound to the little nook that was kind of half-living room and half-kitchen. "Leena?"

"Hey, Dean," she said, twisting around to look at her back in the old-fashioned mirror that rather improbably hung there. "No fun, sexy time for me today."

He'd thought she said enough weird stuff on a routine basis that nothing would surprise him, but that just about floored him. "Fun, sexy time?" he repeated, stepping closer. She had mud streaks on her cheek and hip, and she looked a little out of it. "What's going on?"

"I slipped," she said, starting to gesture, and wincing when the movement didn't agree with her.

He caught her hand. "Enough with the sign language. Just tell me."

"I slipped on some wet leaves when I walked in, and now it hurts."

"Let me see."

She looked at him like he was crazy. "No way."

"You were gonna let me see a lot more than that," he pointed out.

"With the lights out," she said in a tiny voice. "I didn't want you to see me."

"You were gonna let me feel you but not see you?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah, okay," he said, because it was ridiculous to feel hurt that she obviously didn't trust him to be a stand-up guy. "You need ice."

He was rooting around in the freezer - entirely in vain, because she didn't even have ice-cube trays, let alone ice that he could wrap in a towel for her to slap over the coming bruise - when she came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Why don't you have any ice?" he asked.

She snorted against his back. "Don't like my drinks too cold," she said. "Just grab the edamame."

"The what-a-mah-may?"

"This," she said, snaking out a hand to reach past him, tipping both of them toward the blast of cold air. He got a look at the bag as it went past his face.

"You're putting soybeans on your ass?" he asked, and she started giggling.

"I need something cold before I can have something very, very hot," she said, possibly aiming for sexy, but possibly just going for goober.

He didn't ask her to stop talking, because he was good with either scenario.

"Dean?" she asked when he didn't say anything. "You're . . . you know you're the something hot, right?"

He smiled. "That part I got, but what I'm lookin' at ain't so bad either."

She grinned, a full-on glow, and said, "Lights on."

*

He didn't really see much of her room; all his attention was on her, on the fall of her long, tangled hair, on the wet mark splattered across most of her left buttcheek, and on the way her nerves betrayed themselves as she bit her lip.

"Let me," he said, and took over the lip-biting duties. Her mouth was warm and wet and open, and she made these sounds that just went straight through him.

He wanted to look her in the eye and ask one last time. "You trust me?"

"Yeah." She nodded and raised her arms to let him peel off her long-sleeved shirt.

Her hair was crackling with static electricity once the shirt was finally off, and the press of the collar had kinked her eyelashes flat. She was smiling nervously, though, so he helped her step out of her jeans and socks and then took his time and looked her over. Nothing near an hourglass, pinup-girl figure, and he was right that it didn't matter when she was looking at him like that. "Come undress me," he invited, and she blushed but stepped forward resolutely.

Everything but his underwear in a neat pile on the floor, he lay back on her bed and pulled her close. She got one knee on the mattress and tipped toward him; he grinned at the sight of her breasts listing in his direction and undid her bra with a flourish. She didn't hide that time, just kept her eyes on his face, and settled on the bed, perched next to him. "Dean," she whispered, "have you done this before?"

"Not a lot," he answered, pulling her into kissing range. Her hands drifted down, and he directed his more strategically, one on her face and the other sliding silkily down into her panties.

"You're very coordinated," she panted out, then nearly swallowed his lower lip when his probing fingers pushed past her curls and into where she was growing wetter by the moment.

"You're always talking," he said, watching her face, the way her eyes fluttered indolently shut but then shot open at his fingers' next pass.

Her hand finally found his dick, and she touched it, not tentatively, but with no idea what to do. Not even she could mistake his hardness, though; "you like it," she sassed back.

"Yeah, I do," he said, and worked until she choked on her breath, tensed up, and came, arching her back and panting against his chest.

He kissed her breasts while she took her sweet time coming back to him, and she cuddled his head there while her hand started to figure out what he liked.

Instructions and endearments and exclamations later, he was finally inside her, looking up at her, at her mouth that kept chanting, and he caught the rhythm of her words and surged up.

She made up a whole new language that day.

*

"You never had this much homework at any of the other schools, did you?" Sammy asked when they were pulling out of the parking lot. "What do you even do in there all day?"

"We talk," Dean said, and headed for home.