Final chapter... and yes, that means it's time to for them to say goodbye. Hope you like it! That when you get to that goodbye scene, you see it in your head as you read it, and that it works for them given the way they are with each other.
Here's to hoping Dean is not too far out of character given the circumstances.
Dean walked quietly up the to driver's side of the car. The window was rolled down and Manda lying on her back in the backseat.
Her knees were raised because her feet sat resting by the small window in the back on the driver's side and her arms were folded on her stomach. Her head was turned to face the front, and her mouth was moving along to the music that he could hear as he stood. She was singing along silently with her eyes closed, feeling the words of Janis Joplin's version of "To Love Somebody." Dean knew she was feeling it, he could see it in the way she was singing along.
He also knew that if she was out here listening to that, which might have suited her right now when he thought about, then she was most likely trying to work stuff out in her head to do with him.
Dean watched her through the window for a minute or two and found Manda looked relaxed that way, just losing herself in the music in the early hours of the morning in the back of her car. He kind of felt like he was intruding on her though, but he had to find out why she had been out here instead of inside with him.
"Prefer backseats to beds do you?" Dean made the crack as he put his hands on the roof and leaned down into the window a bit.
Manda froze for a second, then laughed and opened her eyes to look at him. "Sometimes."
Dean raised a brow and smirked. "I'll remember that."
"You do that," Manda chuckled, dropped her feet from the window and sat up.
"So… just needed a little Joplin huh?" Dean was going to edge his way lightly into what he wanted to know from her.
"Uh huh… just needed to hear that kind of wailing right now." Manda wasn't lying, she had needed something to help her collect her thoughts about what she was feeling, and Janis always sang it from the heart and with a whole lot of soul.
Dean knew what she meant by that, sometimes nothing else hit the spot like a song you just needed to hear. "Okay."
"I should have figured you would be up by now, it's your last chance to sneak out before dawn right?" Manda chuckled a tiny bit. She meant it as a joke, but she also wondered if that's what he would have done if she had stayed in bed next to him.
He laughed and looked amused. She had him there since that was what he normally did, and Dean knew it, and apparently she did too. "I'm the one who woke up alone, so who snuck out?" He tried to hold back another smirk, but it cracked through at her then.
Manda knew he had her with that one. "Touché," she smiled sheepishly back at Dean.
Both of them knew they had to talk to each other then, but neither was sure how to go about it.
Manda leaned forward to the door and popped the handle from the inside.
Dean backed up and let her open the door a bit before he grabbed the side of it and opened it wide enough for him to climb into the back.
She moved back so Dean would have room and sat sideways on the seat with one leg folded in front of her and tucked under the one that went down to the floor.
Once Dean had climbed in to the back with her, he figured he should face her so he put his arm across the top of the backseat and twisted a little so that he was. He noticed that her car was smaller than his on the inside and for the way they were both sitting, one of her knees touched one of his.
Manda looked at him and tried to read him, but she couldn't figure out what might have been going on in his head besides the obvious – wondering why she had left. "Guess I should start with the elephant huh?"
Dean nodded. "It's a pretty big one."
She exhaled deeply and wondered where to start. Should she tell him he made her a mess of emotions she'd forgotten she had? Or that something inside her still wanted to run from this and him? Or how sorry she was that she had left him, but reality had sunk in and she needed out of that room? How now she wanted more than he could give her, but she would never ask him for it?
He could see she was having trouble trying work out what she wanted to say. "Manda, after everything…"
"I'm not pulling away Dean. I just… I needed to breathe, and lying beside you I couldn't," Manda spoke quietly.
Dean had known she needed time to think since she had probably overloaded on emotions. "Took your breath away did I… that a complaint or a compliment?" he joked, trying to keep it light.
Manda laughed a little. "You don't need me to tell you how good you are when you already know, but uh… that's not what I meant."
"True. And I know that's not what you meant." He knew he needed to quit joking around on her now.
"Can you handle another girl moment?" She looked at him seriously.
"I'll survive." Dean gave her a soft smile.
"I'm sorry I left you alone, but the truth is I had the urge to run when I woke up. Don't get me wrong, this is what I wanted, it's just that I realized some stuff…" Manda trailed off trying to think of how much more to say.
"Okay, so what did you realize?" He wondered if she had come to the same conclusions he did.
"Being with you was like an overload for me, and when I woke up… for awhile I forgot about what we do and who we are. It was nice, great if I have to admit it actually, to feel that kind of normalcy for just a little while. But then it sank in, that's all this is ever going to be for us, a moment of normalcy and a taste of something we can't have."
"It was great," Dean admitted back to her.
Manda smiled kind of sadly at him. "Don't take this the wrong way okay, but you made me feel so all alone. What we do, it comes with a big amount of loneliness, and most days I can deal with that because of not letting anyone get close. But sometimes I long for more than this. I always have if I'm honest with myself, and you… I looked at you and that longing set in for a different life than this one."
Dean looked at her in disbelief and then tried to hide it. She had been thinking the same things he had. "I know."
"But when I looked at that handprint on your arm Dean, it reminded me that despite what I might want, it's not what I can have."
"That. I never… I didn't…" Dean stammered because he didn't know how to get out the words. That handprint had brought him back from hell, but it came with a lot of torment, and some major strings attached to it, ones he wasn't even fully sure of what they were.
"I'm not going to ask you to talk about it because I know that you can't, and I respect that. It's something you never wanted and didn't choose, but it's a part of who you are, and it just made reality a whole lot clearer than the fairytale I had in my head when I forgot everything." Manda hated to admit it to him, but it was the truth.
Dean just stared at her with relief and a bit of surprise. He was glad she wasn't going to ask because she understood that he couldn't talk about it. The pain that was attached to it… no one could understand that though.
"I wish things were different for you, but they're not. It's clear you've got a bigger role to play in this war we fight, and that's a part of what I realized. I might want you with me Dean, but I can't hold on to you," her voice broke just a little.
A minute or two passed and Manda knew she had touched upon things that would cause him to back away, but she needed to know he would still listen. "Dean?"
"Uh huh," he mumbled.
"I only left you there because I realized that I'm falling for you and there's no way to keep you. You have to go one way, and I have to go another. I wish, god… I wish so much that things were different, but they're not and we both know it." Manda reached out to touch him, but then wasn't sure she should.
Dean looked at her again. "If things were different Manda…" he stopped because the reality of it was too much for him to finish.
"I know," she said as she touched his face lightly with one hand. "I know."
He just looked at her seeing that she did know. She could see it in him, how if things were different tomorrow they would most likely be together.
"I might want to love you Dean, but after today or tomorrow I have to let you go, and that hurts. Maybe we'll meet up again, maybe we won't… I have no idea. But I'm never going to ask you for more than you can give or to be someone you're not because I know better than that. Neither of us is really looking for a commitment either, because it's not what we can have even if we might want it." Manda withdrew her hand from him then.
"Sure you're not psychic like Sam was?" Dean had to crack a joke to lighten the mood in the car then. She had all of it right and he couldn't deny it and didn't want to think about some of it, so he made a joke instead.
"Enough of the seriousness, I get it," Manda laughed lightly.
"So… if this is all the time we have…" Dean looked at her suggestively with a smile.
She laughed a little harder this time. "Seriously, you're going to pull a bad movie line? I should have known."
"It's one of the best." He grinned.
She could only laugh because the switch from serious to playful was so easy for them, and she loved it. "Maybe, but come on…"
"Well, we're in a backseat too…" Dean smirked at her again.
Manda smacked him in the arm, but not hard as she burst out laughing. "Remembered that huh?"
"Told you I would," he teased.
"Well in that case…" She crawled across what little space was between them and over him, then straddled him and placed her hands on the top of the seat on each side of him. "If this is all the time we have together then I guess we better make the most of it," Manda tried not to laugh as she smiled at him because of how cheesy the line was. She was giving in, willing to take whatever time they could actually have together.
"Now who's pulling the line?" Dean grinned because not only had she finished his line, but she was making the move to let him know she was truly okay with enjoying the time they could spare to be with each other.
"Are you going to shut up and kiss me now or do I have to…"
Dean cut her off as he went in for the kill, a kiss that started out soft but got harder and deeper fast. He knew it would leave her wanting more as he pulled his head back and looked at her.
"Keep going with the lines until you do," she finished the end of her line from before his kiss. "But it looks like I don't have to."
Dean just looked at her and had a smile that mirrored in his eyes. "You're a hell of a woman you know."
Manda could see the way his smile reached his eyes, and knew it was rare for it to go that deep. "Maybe… but if that's your attempt at telling me you're falling for me then get on with it 'cause time's wasting," she just looked him in the eyes and grinned back at him.
Dean wanted to laugh because she had managed to use another line. He loved that, he had almost forgotten how she could pull them as fast as he did. "Well," he kissed her sweetly before he continued, "we wouldn't want to waste anymore time," he finished with a harder kiss.
"Nice… he uses a line instead of actually saying it," she murmured out from against his lips and pulled back.
"Well you almost took them all," he smiled a bit ruefully.
"Good save." She was done talking now, and her mouth went his.
Dean didn't stop her and his lips parted almost instantly for her to go deeper with her kiss as he moved them in one swift move to have her on her back under him.
Manda smiled briefly and then locked her mouth to his.
Dean heard her stomach growl and broke away to chuckle. "When's the last time you ate?"
"Um…" she thought about it for a moment, "maybe over a day ago."
"You should eat then."
"Aw, looking after me again… or are you just starving too?"
He nodded as it was a bit of both for him. He was a hungry, but more of his hunger was for something besides food right now.
"It can wait…" She stretched her neck up to kiss him again.
"You're right," he agreed, not needing much persuasion as their mouths met.
Her stomach growled again and made them both break away to laugh.
"Breakfast?" he asked.
"Breakfast," she agreed.
Dean raised himself off and back from her. "You're buying."
"You sure know how to treat a girl, making her buy her own pancakes… nice," she laughed as she sat up.
"Well, you do owe me for a few things," he said teasingly and raised a brow at her.
"Yeah I do…" she smiled. "I'll start making it up to you with breakfast then, but let me grab my wallet from inside."
"Make it quick. As you said, time's wasting."
"Then start up the car and be ready to get out of here when I get back."
Dean grinned. "You're going to let me drive the Chevelle?"
Manda just nodded. "I trust you with her," she said as she leaned forward, pushed the passenger's front seat up, and then opened the door so she could get out.
"I'll treat her like she's mine," Dean uttered as he was already climbing out of the back.
"I know you will, and for that I'm even going to let you choose the music," Manda said as she climbed out and walked back to her room.
Dean had a content smirk on his face as he got into the driver's seat and started up her car. He adjusted the seat to his liking, and then picked up her iPod. He was tempted to disconnect it, but this was her car and she would kick his ass for it. He was scanning through it noting their similar taste again and where it differed as he looked for something he knew would make her laugh, and something he wanted to hear.
Manda took a moment to grab her wallet, find her tank-top and put it back on underneath her sweater while she was in the room.
Dean found the song he was looking for and chuckled to himself as he waited for her to come back. It was going to be funny to see her reaction, but he knew it fit pretty well for how he was feeling right then, and probably would for her too.
She walked out of the room and got back into the car. "So… find something to listen to?"
He nodded and hit the play button.
Manda looked at him and broke into a loud laugh as she heard Bad Company's 'Feel Like Makin' Love' fill the speakers. "I take it that's breakfast to go then?"
"Damn straight, time is wasting remember?" Dean smiled at her as he threw the car in reverse and they left.
Four nights and three days. That was all the time they could afford to spend with each other. That time passed too quickly for them though, and before they knew it the time to say goodbye was arriving.
That morning they'd woken up early to be with each other one last time and have a better goodbye than the one that would come a little later on.
Manda had found it hard to pull herself out of bed and away from him to get ready.
Dean didn't say much about why, but he held her there longer than he needed to before she made him leave when she went to get ready.
Chuch was leaving first that same morning. She had stuck around since she wanted to spend a little time with Sam after they had taken care of the spirit that first night.
Everyone went to see her off, but Dean and Manda left Sam to have a moment alone with her and went to finish packing up.
After Chuch had been gone for awhile, Manda checked out and then drove her car near Sam and Dean's room.
Dean had decided they would follow her out since they were going in the same direction for just a little while.
They had just finished throwing their things in the trunk and were getting into the Impala when she pulled ahead of them and stopped.
"You could ride with her for awhile. I can follow you in our car," Sam said.
He thought about it, but then Dean shook his head. "Nah, we'll follow her."
Sam looked a little surprised as he got in the car, but he figured Dean would pull her over on the road before she went one way and they went another.
Dean started up the car and honked to let her know she could go.
Manda pulled out of the lot and on to the road where she saw the Impala not far behind her in the rear view mirror.
Two hours later on the road her turn was coming up so Dean flashed his lights at her to indicate she should pull over.
Manda noticed the signal, pulled off on to the shoulder and parked, then watched him follow suit.
She got out of her car at the same time he and Sam got out of theirs.
They met half way between the cars.
"Your turn's just a bit ahead," Dean said.
"Yeah." Her tone was quiet as the reality of goodbye was sinking in.
Dean looked at her for a moment. "Mind if I check under the hood of your car? She didn't sound right to me."
Sam stifled a laugh.
Manda nodded. "Uh, sure, she sounded okay to me, but you know more about that stuff than I do."
He walked past her, went and popped her hood, then stuck himself in front of it.
Manda stood there with Sam.
"He's delaying this you know," Sam said to her.
"I know," she kind of laughed.
"Maybe Dean won't say it but that's one way for him to make sure you're going to be safe out on the road." Sam knew Dean was being a bit protective now that she was leaving.
Manda smiled a bit. "I figured, the car sounds fine to me. I've had it since I was sixteen… I know when she's not running up to par by now."
Dean came out from behind the hood but kept it raised. He walked past them and went to get something out of his trunk then went back to her car.
"Anyway, thanks for taking care of that spirit."
"Sure, glad to have helped. I would have missed it if you didn't let me in on it in the first place," Sam smiled.
She smiled back at him. "Well, guess I'll see you around sometime Sam. It was good seeing you again."
Manda gave him a light hug then stepped back. "Goes without saying, but take care of him please."
"Of course," Sam nodded. "Bye Manda."
"Bye Sam," Manda said before she turned and walked back to her car.
Sam walked back to the Impala and got in on the passenger's side. He knew his brother and Manda needed a few minutes to say goodbye now.
Dean shut the hood, wiped his hands off on a rag he had gotten out of his trunk then tucked it into his back pocket.
Manda was leaning against the driver's door in front of the window. "Everything good under there?"
Dean walked over to her, stood on the other side of her towards the back of the car and leaned back. "Yeah, but you're going to need a new filter and an oil change soon."
She nodded. "I'll get that done soon. Thanks."
"No problem," Dean said quietly.
Both of them went silent for a minute. This was goodbye and while neither of them really wanted it, they knew it had to happen.
"Oh, before I forget," Manda spun around and leaned into the car through the window to grab something.
Dean checked her out and smiled.
She pulled back out and turned around. "I found one of these in the trunk and since you refuse to go digital in that car of yours, here." She handed him a cassette tape in a case.
Dean took it from her. "Some things shouldn't be messed with in cars, and the deck's one of them," he smirked. Then he looked down at the tape and chuckled as it only said "mix" on it, there was no track listing in the case. "You're giving me a mixed tape?" He looked at her with a bit of disbelief and amusement.
"Horribly cliché I know, but why not," she grinned sheepishly. "And I bet the first song on side A is just what you're going to need to hear once you're pulling away from this spot."
He put it in his jacket pocket and looked at her. "It is… and we'll see about that." He knew he would throw it in to the tape deck when he got back in the car to see what it was.
"You get tired of it or find there's no more demons, spirits, whatever to chase after then come hunt me down Winchester." Manda flashed him a flirty grin. She was going to try to keep this light for both of them. She would deal with the sadness after she drove away.
Dean chuckled, she had pulled a line and it sounded like something he would say. "Sounds good." The smirk he gave was promising.
"Well, it's time for me to go… see you around soon?" She turned on her side to face him.
He nodded as he turned to face her. Dean hoped to see her soon again, they had agreed earlier to try and meet up again in another month or so, but there were no promises.
"Take care of yourself." Manda reached up and stroked his face lightly before she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek lightly. "Bye Dean," she said softly, and then let her lips find his briefly before she pulled back.
He looked at her for a second before he gave her a deeper kiss than the one she had given him. "Bye Manda." Dean moved back a step to give her more space to open the door.
Manda smiled at him and then turned to open the door.
Dean reached out and grabbed her by the wrist that was reaching for the handle. "Wait," he said tenderly.
She turned her head to look at him, but then when she saw his face she turned around completely.
Dean slipped his arms around Manda, pulled her close to him.
She looked at him questioningly. She wasn't sure what he was about to do or say.
He bowed his head down to her ear. "I wish things were different too," he said in a low tone.
Manda nodded. He was going to say the things she knew he had been holding back from saying, and hadn't expected him to either.
"Maybe I feel like you do about this, but you were right… we have to go separate ways. And if things were different, you and me…" he stopped, because that was all he could say as he looked at her and saw she understood.
Manda held back what wanted to come to surface, tears of sadness because this really was goodbye, and Dean was finally letting her know he felt the same way she did after the first night they'd spent together.
Dean let go of her, placed a hand on each side of her face and just looked in to her eyes for a second before he kissed hard and deep for a minute or two.
When his mouth left hers Manda smiled sadly first, then hugged him tightly and pressed her forehead against his shoulder, and felt his arms go around her again.
"Call me if you need anything or just because okay?" Dean needed her to agree to that because if she needed him for anything he'd be there as fast as he could, and if she didn't then he still wanted to hear from her too.
"'Kay… you too," she barely got out the words.
"Look after yourself Manda, no more getting careless on me all right?" Dean didn't want to tell her he would worry because he couldn't protect her from whatever she might come across without him, but he figured she knew.
Manda lifted her head and nodded before she looked at him. "Okay... but I better go because if you keep being sweet I'm never going to leave here." She tried to lighten it now, because she was going to break down soon if she didn't.
Dean saw it, how she wanted to cry but she wouldn't do it in front of him. He kissed her on the forehead, then smirked at her and let her go. "Bye Manda, remember what I said."
She had let go of him and reached her hand back for her door again. "I will… goodbye Dean." Then she turned, got in her car and started it up.
Dean had watched her get in and then tapped on the roof after she had started it up to tell her she could go.
He started to walk back to the Impala.
"Dean…" she called out as she stuck her head out the window.
Dean stopped and turned around. "Yeah?"
"Thank you," her voice broke with a mix of sadness and happiness. Manda couldn't say I love you, so she said thank you. And she was thankful for everything Dean had done for and given her.
Dean just nodded at her and grinned, he knew what she was really saying.
Manda put her head back in the car, tossed a hand out and waved before she pulled her car off the shoulder and back on to the road. She tapped the horn twice and drove away with a smile on her face and a few tears rolling down her cheeks as the image of Dean got smaller and smaller in her mirror until he was gone.
Dean got back into the car and hid all the expression from his face.
Sam had watched their goodbye, but not too closely. He had seen Dean stop Manda at the last second before she got in the car, and he could only wonder what was said since he had seen the way Dean held her there. Now it seemed Dean was playing it cool, but Sam knew differently.
"Ready to go Sam?" Dean asked as he fired up the car.
"Yeah, I was just waiting on you to finish saying goodbye." Sam wanted to tease Dean but he would hold off for a minute.
Dean took the tape out of the deck, then pulled the one out of his pocket that Manda had given him.
"Manda gave you a tape?" Sam scoffed. He had seen Manda give Dean something, and this must have been it.
Dean scowled at Sam, but nodded as he stuck it in to the stereo's cassette deck.
"It's a bit disturbing how alike you two are sometimes," Sam chuckled and shook his head in disbelief even though he knew they were good for each other.
Dean ignored Sam as the wheels started to turn on the cassette. Then he laughed when AC/DC's "Up To My Neck In You" started to play.
Manda had been right, and she had definitely known what he needed to listen to now as he was driving way. He had to admit she had a way with song selection, and while maybe he wouldn't have thought about it at first, the song fit and he needed to hear it.
Dean smiled as he thought about it how much he loved that it fit right now, and that she had known it would. And that's when he knew he had been right - she was one hell of a woman, and it sucked that she was driving one way and he was driving another. He hoped that one day soon though, their roads would meet again.
Sam looked at him and laughed. "You fell in love with her didn't you Dean?"
He knew Sam could see it, that he did love her or was falling in love with her. He wasn't sure which it was, but he knew that she sure was making it hard for him not to love her just a little. And while he hadn't even actually admitted it to Manda, he wasn't about to admit it to his brother yet either.
"Pie-hole Sammy... shut it," Dean said as he pulled the Impala back on to the road, turned up the volume and began to sing along.
Hope you have enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading, commenting, or sticking out all 14 chapters :) I do appreciate the time you've taken to read/comment.
Thanks to the two friends who get first crack at all my stories and suggest/help/encourage when I need it - you rock ladies! And one of you for pushing me through this story when I got stuck - as always - Thank you!!
Of course many thanks to Kripke for making the wonderful characters we know and love as Sam and Dean Winchester. I hope I didn't butcher them completely... if I did, eek! Sorry!!
If you didn't like the story, well... sorry!! I know that everyone won't, and I don't expect them to. Notes: I tried to make Dean softer, but hopefully he didn't come off as too soft - especially in the goodbye scene. That was just another spin of mine on him and his softer side. And hopefully you find that what I made him say wasn't too soft for him... that he said enough by not saying too much - and that it wasn't overboard or too gushy.
And if you enjoyed Dean and Manda together, then feel free to check out the sequel story 'If You Needed Me' - which isn't finished yet as I update this (05/05/09), but hopefully will be soon.
As for Manda - whether you like her or you hate her... she is what she is. She can be tough, but she's got her own soft side that she hides. And hopefully you found she was a pretty fair match for Dean... and that you didn't find her completely annoying.
I tried to give them equal time in the story... I didn't want Manda to be a story hog, and maybe she was at times. If so, sorry for that! Hope it turned out okay though in the end...
On making them go from serious to not-so serious with each other in this chapter. Hope you found it works for them. We know Dean can switch that fast because we've seen it in the show, but I found it works for Manda too because of the ways she's similar to him - ie. what's mentioned/shown in an earlier chapters about her, how she jokes around and stuff, her wit and sarcasm. And hopefully you found that it fits in the way with how they are/would be with each other.
Notes: I tried to make Dean softer, but hopefully he didn't come off as too soft - especially in the goodbye scene. That was just another spin of mine on him and his softer side. And hopefully you find that what I made him say wasn't too soft for him... that he said enough by not saying too much - and that it wasn't overboard or too gushy.