I was out on the weed-choked, broken-bricked, four-feet-square 'patio' behind the office a couple nights later, nursing a beer, a cigarette, and the world's stupidest broken heart when John Winchester walked into my world again. I hadn't seen him, any of the three of them, in a few days.
"Hey, something you need?" I asked, and years of taking care of my customers had it coming out happy and helpful. But in all actuality, as nerve-tingling as it was to have that man that close, at that right moment I wanted to be alone with my spite against my ex-boyfriend in particular and all men in general.
But when John Winchester answered me, "I was gonna ask you the same thing…" with his smooth voice and charming smile, I kicked my spite to the curb and invited him in instead.
"Beer?" I offered from the Styrofoam cooler sitting on the bricks next to me.
He took it and made himself a seat across from me on the neat pile of cement blocks that'd been waiting half a decade to be made into a new patio wall. He stretched his legs and shook his head against my offer of a cigarette.
"Where's your boys?" I asked him.
"Drive-in. Independence Day ." He smiled.
"You didn't want to go?"
"They need a break from their old man."
"And your hunt?"
Another shrug, another charming smile as he pulled a swallow of beer.
"Taken care of."
And that, I gathered, was that.
"So –" He said, and I was getting to realize he could be mighty economical with words. "You?"
I gave my own shrug and took my own pull of beer.
"Wishing for better days."
That made him laugh. And his laugh was just as smooth-leather sexy as every physical inch of him was.
"You come across any, you give me a call."
"I'll do that." I promised him with my own laugh.
While I had another swallow of beer, I took in every last detail about him, from the wear pattern on the bottom of his boots, to his denim jeans and cotton shirt, past the five o'clock shadow and up to those eyes that I figured could kill someone dead or make everything right, all depending on who it was John Winchester was looking at.
And right then, he was looking at me.
"If you're off duty, I hear this place has a diner that serves a pretty good meal." He offered me.
First my heart jumped, and then my eyes dropped – and lighted right on that wedding ring.
"And does that meal come with side order heartache?" I asked him. "'Cause I have sure had my fill."
He followed my look down to his hand and his ring. He lost the charming smile
"This is all I have left of her." He said, holding up his hand and showing that ring full to me. "This and the boys. There isn't a day I don't miss her. "
He studied that ring a minute more before he put his hand down on his knee again.
"Not looking for heartache," he said. "Just a meal. Talk to somebody who knows the deal. That's all."
He smiled, but not his 100 watt charming smile. Just a nice, warm one.
And I thought that was the better smile.
The next time I saw those boys was the middle of the morning, next day. It was Monday and our weekend crowd had died down and wouldn't pick up again 'til Thursday at least. I was walking from office to restaurant and made sure my feet took me across the parking lot where I'd get a good look at their front door. I had the gauze with me Dean said they'd need. If they looked to be up and available, I'd drop it off. If not, that'd be a later chore.
It ended up I got an eyeful more than their door, though. There was Dean, under an open hood, tending to his car. And though the sky was gray and the wind was sharper than my sister Adelaida's tongue, behind him the door to the motel room stood halfway open. He straightened up and caught sight of me and gave me a nod up, so I headed over there.
"We got a full-on working garage." I told him when I was close enough. "You could be working in the warm, dry, and wind free."
"Naah, I'm good." He told me, setting a box wrench into his toolbox and wiping his hands on a rag. "I like working on my own."
I give him a pointed look beyond, where I could see his brother, still sleeping out on the far bed.
"I'm thinking that's not 100% true." I told him. He smiled but didn't answer it. He did look back over his shoulder into the room, I thought maybe gauging what maybe I could see. So I moved over so I wasn't getting that eyeful anymore. Dean moved with me, still wiping his hands on that rag, checking as he took his steps that when he stopped, he could still see what he needed to see in the room.
"How're you two doing?" I asked him.
"A lot better than we were." He told me. "A whole lot better. You really helped us out."
I shrugged that away. Whatever I did wasn't doing anything compared to hunting.
"I figure a hunter helps me out anytime they hunt. Least I can do is keep the home front stocked with food and laundry detergent. And medical supplies." I added, handing over the package of gauze.
"It was a lot more than that, and you know it."
I shrugged again, looking someplace else. I never been one much for compliments, especially from good looking men. Even after all this time, being thought anything of don't sit right on me.
"I'm just glad I could help." I mostly said down to my boots. Then another thought blossomed up and I looked at Dean again. "I ain't heard anything about your Daddy in a while." I told him. "I'm real sorry."
He nodded and shrugged and sniffed and rolled the package of gauze in his hands and looked somewhere else than at my condolence.
"Yeah. It was – um – yeah."
And that was all I figured either one of us could stand.
"So – Sam's doing better?" I asked, hoping I was taking us onto safer territory. Seemed I was.
"Yeah. He's slept fifteen hours, off and on. More 'on' than 'off'." Dean answered straight away. "It's been a while since he's gotten that much sleep in a week, much less one night."
"And how much sleep have you gotten?"
Asking him that question got me a closed expression at first, like it wasn't my business and I was about to find out how much it wasn't my business. But then I got a quirk of a grin like he'd been caught out on something he wasn't expecting to get caught out on.
"Enough. Trust me – Sammy makes sure of it."
That surprised me.
"Even when he's stretched this thin?"
"Ha. Up, down, conscious, half-unconscious, gushing blood or frozen stiff - if there's one thing a Winchester is good at, it's bossing other Winchesters around. We're a stubborn bunch."
Stubborn. One exhausted brother sterilizing scissors before bandaging his injured brother, then that injured brother pushing sleep on the exhausted brother. Right – stubborn.
"Well, if that's what you call stubborn, this world sure needs it by the truckful." I told him.
He gave me a smile at that, not his usual grin but that warm kind of smile his Daddy'd let me see that once or twice. Then something caught his attention from inside the room – Sam rousing maybe or probably – and I figured I'd leave before I was left.
"You boys need anything else, you let me know. All right?"
By the time I crossed from their car to the restaurant, the tools were packed and the car was shut and Dean was gone into the room.
To be continued…sometime this decade…