Well... it's that time. Sorry for the wait!! It took awhile to work it out, and I hope I got it right.
Now, when you get to the part with the song - I suggest you find it and give it a listen while you read that part. [Love that track... Free - Be My Friend (not the original version, but the one off their live album - oh, the emotion in vocals. DAMN!) and wrote that part while listening to it. lol]
Anyway... hope you guys like it. And because it's the last chapter - I'm spoiling you with length, a few moments... and hopefully quality!
I want to send this one out to antariangirl93 and Wilderness Rose for all their continued support, comments and just over all awesomeness - thank you :)

Once Dean made his way back inside, he found Sam was doing laundry, Chuch was going to do some shopping since she was staying for a few more days, and Manda was taking it easy. She had just finished setting up a new cell phone to replace her broken one, and was going to watch a movie, so he grabbed something to eat, and then watched it with her.

Then he ended up raiding her music collection, and asking more about what she remembered to find out what he wanted to know. But she still had no recollection of some moments of her possession, and he knew she'd missed hearing some important words.

Dean figured he'd get them out later when they were alone, because they weren't exactly alone. To his disappointment, Chuch and Sam stuck around after dinner. It seemed they just wanted another night in to take it easy, and he just wanted them out of the way for a little.

So he and Manda hung out until she left him alone by claiming to need some time to soak her bruises and stiff muscles, and treat her wounds before turning in for the night. That had only made Dean even more curious about what kind of state her body was in. It was hard for him not to notice the way she still moved a little stiffly at times, wincing with certain movements. He was pretty much avoiding touching her because of that, and while it was getting to him, he didn't want to cause her any more pain.

Dean ended up just sitting in front of the TV before Sam came to talk to him about leaving tomorrow for the next job, and Chuch had joined them shortly after. The conversation had switched to something lighter, and he grew tired of it quickly.

Realizing he had waited as long as he could now, Dean told Sam to sleep in for an extra couple hours, and then headed upstairs with a hot shower and relaxing in bed with his girl in mind.

Manda had finished tending to all of her wounds, and was about to go downstairs when something caught her eye. Something she'd forgotten all about… today marked an anniversary.

After climbing both sets of stairs to Manda's room, Dean stopped in the doorway when he saw her. Her back was to him, she seemed lost in thought, and even though he wanted to say something, he remained silent, wondering what had her completely unaware of his presence.

Staring at the photo in her hands, Manda was flooded by emotions and memories. A few light tears streaked down her face, and she quickly wiped them away, not wanting to cry again.

It had now been ten long years since a devastating night had set things in motion for her – the night she had let her boyfriend come along on her first solo hunt, and he had died because of it. If she'd never made that mistake then she never would have chased the demon her parents had been after in attempt to destroy herself. She never would have lost them instead, and the mess she'd just been in probably never would have happened.

Maybe she wouldn't have all this heartache and guilt right now if things had been different, but what was done, was done. There was no way to turn time back, no way to get back all that she had lost.

Manda placed the picture back on the dresser, touched a photo of her parents, and tried to take comfort in still being alive. She felt completely alone as she looked over the pictures of those she had lost, but at least she was alive. She turned around, and that's when she noticed Dean. You always seem to be there when I need you most… "Hey."

Dean's eyes scanned over her. The short robe she had on was tied tightly in place, keeping nothing much visible. Her knees and legs were quite bruised though, probably from how hard she'd fallen more than a few times. Her hair was pulled back and up, not hiding any of her battered face, and even though her left eye was open a little wider now, it still hurt him to look at her this way.

She had taken such a beating, one he hadn't been able to stop, and then had added to it himself. It bugged him to think about it, so he turned to his attention to the photo she had been holding – the one of her and the boyfriend that had been killed. He knew that had happened about a week or so before her parents had been murdered by the demon, making that ten year mark around today. "That day coming up?" he asked, walking in towards her.

"Today, actually," she answered quietly, bowing her head, not wanting him to see what the memories had brought up in her right now. He didn't deserve to see it. "With everything that's gone on lately… it slipped my mind."

Dean felt for her, she'd just been through a lot and still had a few hard days left to deal with. "It's okay." Lifting her chin with his fingers gently, he just looked at her, the traces of pain, sadness, and guilt so apparent in her right then. That's what she'd been lost in – the old feelings had resurfaced. "You still…" he started to utter without thinking in his voice, but only his mind finished the sentence - love him.

He saw exactly what she hadn't wanted him to, what she'd never be able to stop from coming out when this day rolled around each year. "Love him, care, hurt… part of me always will. He was first guy I fell in love with."

But as Manda looked into Dean's eyes then, she caught something there for a second. As tough as he was, and though he'd never admit to it, he still yearned to be loved. "But thankfully he's no longer the last as well. See, there's this guy who can be kind of an ass sometimes… goes by the name Dean Winchester."

"That guy?" Dean played into it, smirking at seeing the way she looked at him. The pain and sadness were replaced by a warm smile that made its way to her eyes. She definitely loved him, and was just letting him know it again. "Maybe he's an ass sometimes, but that's part of his charm."

"He's usually the love them and leave them type, but for some reason he's sticking around me," Manda teased, loving that he played along.

"Wonder why that is," he mumbled, pressing his open lips softly to hers. "Could be he's a little sweet on you," he whispered.

She chuckled. "A little… that's how you're going to play it, Winchester?"

"Maybe," Dean said with a smile. But who was he trying to kid here? They both knew it was more than a little. And he wanted to tell her that, but looking at her then, he just couldn't get it out.

Manda looked at him funny, and then headed towards her bed. "What time are you leaving tomorrow?"

"Afternoon, maybe a little later," he answered casually, following her. He didn't want to leave tomorrow, but he had to.

"All right." She didn't want him to go, but that's how this worked.

She had stopped to turn down the blankets, and Dean came up behind her. He placed a hand tenderly on her waist, his lips right on her ear. "I'm hitting the shower, so don't fall asleep on me just yet. Stay up a little longer, okay?" he whispered, hoping she would.

"Sure," Manda replied, closing her eyes to take in the closeness of the moment.

Dean walked away then, taking off his t-shirt while he was at it.

Manda looked him over to see how much more he'd been hurt. There were a few bad bruises on his back, more down his sides, but the worst was the large, dark bruise over a section of his ribs. He'd gotten that from her. "Sorry about your ribs. Looks like it hurt."

"You've got quite a kick, Manda, but don't worry, this is nothing. I've been in worse shape." Dean grabbed his bag and walked to the bathroom.

"I bet," Manda muttered. Then she ditched her robe, turned on some music to drown out the noise of the shower, and climbed into bed. She would wait up, but Dean could take forever in the shower, so she closed her eyes, hoping he wouldn't take too long tonight.

Dean had taken longer than he expected to just because the water felt so good, and when he came out in his boxer briefs, he wasn't sure if Manda was still awake. She was lying on her side, eyes closed, wearing a long tank top that reached the top of her thighs. She'd left the lamp on his side of the bed on, and hadn't bothered to cover up yet, as if waiting for him. And then he heard the music, the live version of Free's 'Be My Friend' was just starting.

He got into bed, sitting up with his back against the headboard. He was hesitant to lie down and throw his arm over her as he took in the bruises and scrapes scattered on her thighs. There was something he wanted to ask her, and now he needed to even more.

Manda wondered what the delay was. She was longing to have Dean next to her, for him to hold her as close as he could. She opened her eyes, and looked up at him. "Want to get that light and join me down here?"

Dean's grin was small. "In a minute, could I, uh… mind if I get a look at your back first?" He just needed to see the end result of what she had endured when he had failed to protect her.

Tensing a little, she had figured that would come up tonight. There was no sense in hiding it anymore. She sat up straight, raising her knees slightly in front of her. "Knock yourself out, it's quite a masterpiece," she chuckled wryly, pulling the tank top off slowly.

He knew it was bad as soon as she'd sat up, but her bare shoulders had only given away a hint of it. Dean's breath caught in his throat with a hard, silent gasp, his eyes widened with shock, and his jaw tightened with anger when she held the tank top to her chest. The screams she'd let out that night echoed in his head. Goddamn that son of a bitch…

The four slashes had been ripped open longer, wider, and obviously deeper. All of them were the same length, running down from the top of her right shoulder and ending just below her waist now. Her left shoulder was covered in a huge, dark bruise, and lighter ones were scattered down both sides of her back.

Manda could sense his hard stare and the mixture of emotions coming from him.

He leaned in behind her. "If that bastard hadn't of kept me pinned…" Dean started, but stopped when hearing his own growl of a voice. He touched her left shoulder then, his fingers tracing over the bruise, hoping the gentle touch would calm him.

She shivered. He wasn't hurting her, but she hadn't expected him to touch her now.

As his fingers and eyes swept down, Dean caught sight of the stitches in her left side from where he'd stabbed her. The anger was so bitter he could taste it, the regret burning deep inside. His hand flattened over on the curve of her hip at the same time he kissed the top of her bruised shoulder. "So much for keeping you safe… sorry I let this happen, baby," he said in a remorseful tone, straightening up, and then helping pull the tank top down when she put it over her head.

Manda shifted onto her hip to face him. "Dean, don't… you did what you could when you could."

"It wasn't enough… but messing with my girl is right up there with messing with my brother and my wheels. You might be able to do it once, but it's not happening again," he told her, the protective tone so strong in his voice.

She smiled, loving the fierce protector he was. "I like when you get all badass and protective over me, but occasionally getting your ass kicked this badly is in our job description."

Dean smirked smugly, because regardless of how tough she was, Manda actually liked him protecting her. "True. So how long are you off?" He had to ask, wondering how long she'd take to let herself heal.

"A few weeks." Manda had already decided she wasn't hunting for awhile after this. She needed time to not only to heal, but to wrap her head around everything.

"You'll get bored quickly," he stated out an obvious fact. Dean knew the time off would get to her fast. Hunters always got that itch if they were out of the game too long.

"Uh huh, which is why I was thinking… maybe I could meet up with you and Sam once the stitches are out, tag along for a bit?" Manda posed the idea in a curious tone.

If she wanted to join them on the road, he would gladly welcome her. It made sense for her to join them now that they were together. It would be easier for him to protect her that way, and he could enjoy the benefits that came with having his girl around. "Sounds good," Dean responded coolly, suppressing a thrilled grin.

She raised a brow in question, smiling softly. "Yeah?"

"Might be time for a new roommate, but I don't know if you'll be able to put up with me and Sammy for very long." He chuckled, wondering how that would go.

Manda couldn't refuse teasing him a little. "Isn't Sam the one that'll have trouble putting up with us? Especially when he'll be losing his big brother's cuddling each night."

"Oh, Chambers… you're gonna pay for that," Dean threatened in a playful tone while instinctively going to grab her by the waist, and then just stopped, not wanting to hurt her. "Okay, maybe not."

"Dean, I'm not going to break if you touch me like you usually do." Manda had noticed he kept all touches light and simple, when he did touch her that was. He barely had, and she wanted nothing more than his arms around her, his hands on her. She was craving the gentle glide of his rough hands, his skin on hers, and to feel completely loved and safe inside his strong, protective arms for awhile.

"I'm not so sure about that," he uttered. She had no idea how desperately he wanted to touch her like he normally would, to just let his hands travel over her. How much more he ached to feel her heart beating, her pulse racing, her breath on his skin, the warmth of her body against his. All of that meant she was alive unlike when he had held her lifeless body in a moment he was longing to forget.

Manda wanted to laugh but couldn't when she saw the look on his face. She could see how much he longed to really touch her, to feel her, to be with her. Why didn't he realize she wanted that just as much? "We can… you won't hurt me if that's what you're worried about."

Dean looked at her amused, but she'd only made him want her so much more now that it was like an itch he couldn't scratch, because he had to hold back or he would hurt her. He shook his head with disbelief over having to be the voice of reason. "Manda, you're battered, bruised, have a shit load of stitches in your back and more in your side. You'll end up hurt one way or another."

"Would being in this shape stop you?" She looked at him questioningly, but already knew his answer.

He scoffed. She was putting him on the spot with an unfair question. "No, but that's… you're..."

"I'm not asking you to bang the hell out of me here. You know how to be gentle, and I can handle that." Manda leaned in closer so her lips were an inch from his, and whispered, "So I'm a little beat up and Frankenstein-ed, I'd still like to feel loved by my man before he leaves."

Dean kissed her intensely upon hearing her admission. She just wanted to be loved by him, and it'd be so easy to let her feel it, but her injuries still had him apprehensive. "You know I'm all for it, but…"

"But I just want to be reminded I'm alive, because I know I shouldn't be," Manda cut him off. She stared straight into his eyes, and touched his cheek lightly with her fingertips. "I think you understand that more than anyone, Dean… needing to feel alive, something other than guilt and pain, to let go of all the loneliness, the emptiness, the sadness that's so deep inside. You always take care of that for me when all I can feel is you."

She had nailed it. Dean ached to feel alive on most days, something other than his pain and guilt tearing him apart, and always wanted to let go of the loneliness, emptiness, and sadness he carried around. And he was always able to for awhile when he was with her, all of it disappearing when all he could feel was her while he lost himself with and in her.

It took a moment to sink in – this was just one more thing they shared in common, one more thing to understand about each other now.

His lips crashed on hers, the hunger in his kiss making her lips part quickly. He couldn't deny her of something he wanted just as much, and needed to feel her existence combining with his now, because Dean knew as just much as Manda did that while their situations weren't the same, both of them shouldn't be alive right now.

She was demanding his mouth stay locked to hers with an urgency that was hard to hide as she climbed over him in a straddle.

Dean let his hands run over her delicately, but froze when she exhaled sharply. One of his hands was under her shirt, rubbing the stitches in her back. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Manda whispered, smoothing her thumbs over his cheeks. "I'm all right."

He moved his hands to her thighs, his fingers trailing over the scrapes on the right one. "Sure you can do this, babe?"

"The bruises are nothing, keep the stitches in mind, and be a bit tender with me tonight," she reassured him. "Slow… sweet… gentle," she whispered, kissing him softly between each word. "And then hold me real close."

Rolling them over slowly, Dean wanted her to know he was going to be attentive. "If you need to stop, or you're in any pain, don't even try hiding it from me. I mean it," he said firmly, watching her closely for any signs of discomfort at being under him, but she seemed fine.

"I won't," she quietly agreed.

"Then we'll go…" Dean's whispered trailed off in her ear as he gently bit the lobe. "Slow… sweet… gentle…" he whispered each word between a light kiss and a soft bite down her neck. Then he kissed harder just to feel her pulse quickening below his lips.

Manda moaned at feeling how slow he was going, the way his breath was hot and crawling over her skin. He kept his kisses going down, and she closed her eyes, savouring the way he felt. Then he just stopped, and she wondered what was wrong. "Dean?"

Sighing, Dean sat up off to the side of her. Sliding up her tank top had revealed more bruises from where he knew he'd punched her in the stomach and ribs. But seeing the scabbed line from the slash and the stitches in her side had made him stop even though he didn't want to. The reality of what had happened and the possibility of hurting her again was overwhelming for him right then. "As much as I want this to happen right now, and that's a hell of a lot by the way…" he got quiet as he shook his head, rubbed a hand hard over his face. "I don't want to hurt you," he abruptly blurted out the truthful confession.

Sitting up beside him, she put her hand over his between them. "I'll be okay… I'm in good hands, ones I completely trust."

Dean turned his head, and then stroked her cheek sweetly with his other hand before it settled there. His eyes intensely searched hers with wonder, one major question that'd been running through his head the last few days on his mind then. "How the hell did you did make it through this, Manda?"

It was a question she'd asked herself numerous times over the last few days, but Manda shrugged awkwardly, not really wanting to think about it again. "I don't know… just try not to think about it."

"But almost losing my girl," he whispered, sneaking in a soft, open kiss, "is kind of hard to not think about."

She climbed over him again, cupped his face, and rested her forehead against his. "I know, baby… and I don't know what I would've done without you there," she admitted then. "I needed you… still do."

Those words were it for him. He kissed her with the intense desire he'd been trying to keep back. Taking it slow was going to be hard, his hands were already going for her tank top with his need to feel her skin on his.

She broke away just long enough for him to get her shirt off, and then her lips sought his with her need for him. He edged them over, and she noticed how gently he eased her beneath him.

"Manda…" Dean said, breaking away. "I-I… you know that I-I…" he stammered, choking on the words as he gazed down at her intimately. I love you, his mind shouted out what he couldn't say. Trying to get the words out when she could actually hear them this time around was too nerve-racking for him.

Reading him, Manda knew what he was trying to tell her. She put a finger to his lips. "It's all right," she whispered, pausing as she took his face in her hands. "There's no need to say it when showing me will always be enough," she reassured him, kissing him deeply.

"Good to know," Dean murmured against her lips, shutting out as much of the hunter in him as he could, ready to show Manda just how much he did love her now.


Waking to discover Manda was tucked securely under his arm with his hand covering hers, Dean smirked.

He'd made love to her tenderly last night, just taking his time to let her know how he felt. And then had held her as close as he could, finding it must not have been close enough as she had only pulled his arms tighter around her before falling asleep in them.

Manda was somewhat soft and sweet when she stopped being strong and stubborn, and Dean had to admit he liked knowing that the woman beside him wasn't afraid to be vulnerable around him anymore. Sometimes all she needed was for him to be the stronger one. He liked that it was happening a little more often lately, because even though he had no qualms about just how tough she really was, he still needed to be the stronger one in their relationship. And whether she wanted it or not, he was going to look out for and after her as much as he could now.

Dating him made Manda a bigger target than she already was, and his protective side was anxious about leaving her. Being a hunter still didn't mean she would be safe once he left. But for the moment, he took comfort from knowing that she was safe, because she was right where she belonged now – with him.

Dean pressed himself a little closer to her, and tightened his hold around her. For now he was able to watch over her, but in a few hours he would be gone. And he just wanted to enjoy this while he could, and spend what little time there was left before he got back on the road right here with his girl.

Manda awoke with a minor jump at the breathing on the back of her neck. Then she realized it was only Dean as his muscular arm pulled her closer to him, and his fingers squeezed hers a little harder.

For as tough as he was almost all of the time, Dean could still be tender and sweet when it counted. He had been fairly gentle with her last night, showing her more of what he buried deep down inside of himself. And though she loved the strong guy that he was, she liked getting to see a bit more of the softer part of himself that he hid.

Dean loved her, even if he couldn't come out and say it to her, and now she realized there was something she needed to do before he left today.

Sighing softly then, Manda wished it wasn't morning. She felt safe, content, loved, and wanted it to last for as long as it could, because in a couple hours it was time to say goodbye to her man for a little awhile. But right now she just wanted to enjoy what time they had left together, and to spend a few more minutes here with him like this.

Hearing her sigh, Dean knew she was awake. "Mornin', gorgeous," he whispered sweetly behind her ear.

"Morning, sunshine," Manda said, smirking a little.

Letting go of her hand, Dean snaked his fingers up her arm. "Time to get up soon..." he sighed.

"I know… and there's not much time before you go, we slept in kind of late." She moved more onto her back and looked at him.

He saw how her eyes betrayed her voice with the sadness she was trying to hide. "Your bed makes it easy to do that," he smirked.

"And here I thought it was the company," Manda laughed softly. He was trying to keep things light, but she saw the discontent in his grin.

"Hmm… that might help a little too," Dean teased her as he let his fingers run over the sheet along her chest now.

Pulling his hand away from her collarbone, and putting his arm back over her, Manda stared up at Dean. "I love how you're trying to distract us both from thinking about how you're leaving… but can you just hold me for a little longer?"

Dean just grinned, knowing he would give in. If he had to be honest about it, her softer moments weren't so bad, and holding her close now was easy. "You're such a typical girl sometimes, Chambers," he muttered, rolling onto his back.

Manda turned, kissed him swiftly, and then rested her head on his shoulder. "Mm-hmm… but shut it, Winchester. You've got a soft spot for me, and like when I need you this way."

He could only chuckle because she was right, but he wasn't about to say it out loud. "A few more minutes and then I need to get ready to go," Dean said, putting his arm around Manda in order to hold her close for a little while longer before getting ready to leave his girl behind.


About two hours later, Manda walked out of the house and stood on the porch watching Sam and Dean toss their bags into the Impala.

She didn't know how to do what she needed to before he left. He can handle it… he's strong enough to handle me, the girl moments I spring on him. He'll manage…

She clutched the ring tightly in her hand. Maybe you wouldn't like Dean very much, and you'd probably rip me a new one seeing that he's a Winchester… but, daddy, you made me promise… and I love him.

Smiling as both brothers approached the house, Manda quickly slipped the ring into the pocket of her jeans.

Sam stopped a few feet away on the porch, and Dean leaned back against the railing closer to her.

"Guess it's time for you two to take off," she said quietly, looking from brother to brother.

"Yup," Dean muttered, looking away from her. Work up your nerve, Winchester. She had the balls to tell you… shouldn't be too hard to find yours and tell her again.

"Thanks for everything… and if you ever need anything, just ask. I owe you guys my life after all." It was true, and there wasn't much Manda wouldn't do for them now, especially when it came to Dean.

"We're just glad you're okay, Manda," Sam told her while noticing how awkward Dean appeared then.

She smiled. "Sam, if you hadn't of come along when you did… I would've… well, thank you." She took a few steps towards him, and tossed her arms around him in a light hug.

"Don't mention it. You needed help, we were here, and it all worked out," Sam told her.

She hugged him a little tighter then, stretching up to as close to his ear as she could. "I know Dean's a pain in the ass sometimes, but he means well, and we both love him for it. Look after him for me, okay?" she whispered low enough so only he'd hear it.

Sam chuckled as she dropped the hug and stepped back from him. "You know I will."

Dean cocked his head with a curious expression as he wondered what she had said. Then he at Sam, showing he wanted a few minutes with his girl now.

Sam took one look at his brother, and knew it was time to leave them alone. "I uh… forgot to tell Chuch something," he said, heading for the door.

"Thanks again, see you soon, Sam," Manda called out.

Sam stopped with one hand on the handle of the door, and looked back towards them. "Guess it will be soon… and maybe a little more often now that you're his…"

"Dude, don't say it unless you're looking to get hurt," Dean cut Sam off, and shot him a look.

Manda laughed. "Dean's right… but yeah, I'll see you soon."

Sam scoffed. "But you are his girlfriend, Manda," he chuckled as he went inside.

"I'll kick his ass for that," Dean grunted in an annoyed tone, and then smirked as Manda nodded at him with a 'please do' look.

They quiet then, realizing they were alone now, and neither knew how to get out the things they wanted to right then.

Manda put her hands in her pockets, grabbed the ring, and held onto it.

Dean stood up straight, and just looked at her, trying to work up his nerve still. "So..."

"So, I'll come meet up with you in about two weeks. That okay?" she said, removing her hands from her pockets and going to stand in front of him.

A pleased smirk formed on Dean's face as he gently pulled her against him. "Works for me."

Taking one of his hands off of her waist, Manda pulled it between them. She placed the ring in his palm, curled his fingers shut over it, and then put her hand over his. "It doesn't come attached with a commitment or the hope for one someday. You don't have to wear it either… but I want you to have it, okay?"

Dean didn't know what to say as he felt the circular shape in his hand. She was giving him her father's ring, and it freaked him out for a second. But then his eyes searched hers to see she meant what she'd said. There were no expectations for more than what they had with each other now; she just wanted him to have the ring. "I-I… I can't take this from you, Manda," he stammered, finding he wanted to open his fingers to hand it back, but couldn't do it.

"Shhh," she whispered. "I'm only honouring the promise to my dad, and even if we don't last… you know you're as close as it'll get for me, Dean." She squeezed his hand, and then let go, hoping he'd keep the ring.

He nodded, opened his fingers, and looked down at the ring. If only she knew it fit him. Holding it securely between his fingers, he peered back up at her, and then reached out with his other hand to caress her face. "You're sure?"

"Yeah." She smiled as he put the ring in one of his pockets.

"I'll keep it safe, babe… you might want it back one day." He didn't think she would though, because he knew she was right – even if they didn't last, he was as close as she'd get to finding someone she wanted to give it to.

"No, it's yours now," she said as her lips met his.

He kissed her with a whole lot of love, and found his nerve was finally worked up as he pulled back. "So, I, uh…" he stopped, clearing his throat as it tightened with unease, choking on the words yet again. He looked away from her, thinking that made it easier. "I love you," he mumbled the admission out so fast and so low, the three words sounded like one. And then he felt like an idiot. She'd had the courage to tell him before, and now had given him her dad's ring too. God, I'm such an ass sometimes… it shouldn't be this hard to tell her. Just say it… she already knows anyway, just needs to hear it now…

Manda stifled a laugh, but couldn't stop from smirking a little. She knew what he was up to, and how difficult it was for him. "Sorry… I, uh, didn't catch whatever you mumbled. You wanna try it again?"

Dean gulped. It was time to man up, time to let her know, time to say those words the way she should hear them. Now or never… just say it.

He inhaled sharply, his eyes soulfully searching her. He saw how her love for him was written all over her in this moment, and then his mind flashed back to last night, seeing the utter love and trust her eyes held when she'd stared into his. The strength to say it finally hit. "I love you," he said in a soft, husky tone. It unnerved him to say it out loud, but it had to be done. It wasn't like he'd ever have to say it again, hearing it once would be enough for her.

She was silent for a moment. The three words hung between them as her eyes went wide, her lips slightly parting with a silent gasp. Manda almost didn't believe that Dean Winchester – Mr. Badass with quite the reputation for fooling around but never falling in love – had actually said it out loud. Her lips broke into a wide grin. "About time you said that."

Dean just smirked, noting that when he had finally gotten serious enough to say it, she had played it like he would have. And that was one reason why he did love her. She didn't make a big deal out of it, or try to turn it into more of a moment. But the spark in her eyes that said she was pleased to have heard him say it was there. "I've said it before… you just didn't hear it at the time."

Her mouth crashed to his for a passionate kiss, and then she held his face in her hands. "Well, now you've told me, so go on… get out of here, Winchester. You've hung around long enough."

"That's what I get for saying it?" Dean gave her a humorous look. "I get a little soft, try to have a moment here, and you tell me to go, Chambers?" he asked, pulling her right against him.

Manda got serious then, put her arms around him, and just looked at him. "Dean, you already know that I love you too," she softly whispered, and gave him a lingering kiss.

"Moment's gone, but that's more like it." Dean kissed her deeper.

She smirked, and then just hugged him. It was time for him to go, and the sadness kicked in. "Take care of yourself," she said quietly.

Embracing her closely, Dean's lip found her ear. "If anything happens or you need something, you call me. Got it?"

Manda nodded. "I will."

Sam came out of the house then, gave them a comical look, and headed to the Impala.

"That's my cue to go," Dean muttered, wishing there was more time, but there wasn't.

She just looked at him, her eyes seeming to say the silent words – I'll miss you.

Reading her, he chuckled softly. "Hey… you'll see me soon." Then his mouth collided with hers for a hard kiss that left them both a bit breathless when it was done.

"I'll miss that too," Manda said, grinning foolishly.

He could only nod with a naughty smirk. "Bye, Manda."

"See you soon, baby." She kissed him passionately and lovingly one more time.

"Going to be a long two weeks," he said in a low tone. It would be a long two weeks for him. Rules of the road no longer applied, and he was in for some lonely nights until she met up with him.

Manda laughed, but had to agree… it was going to be a long two weeks. "I'll make it up to you."

Grinning, Dean kissed her forehead. "I'll hold you to that." Then he walked away, leaving her behind.

"Dean?" Manda called out as he got down the stairs.

Dean stopped, and turned back around to look at her. "Yeah?"

She threw him a small object, smirking when he caught it. "If you and Sam find yourselves in the area or just need a break, feel free to put that to use."

Looking in his hand, Dean grinned at seeing a key. "Sure feels like a commitment to me now," he chortled.

Manda laughed. "It's not the key to a castle, just a house I rarely come to."

"True… so if I wanted to meet you here for one of those weekends?" He gave her a naughty grin.

She matched his grin with her own. "You can let yourself in without picking the lock."

"Where's the fun in that?" he chuckled, pocketing the key, wondering when or if he'd get a chance get to use it. "See ya soon, babe."

"You bet… bye, Dean."

Walking to the Impala, Dean felt her eyes on him. "Quit checking out my ass, Manda," he called out, and looked over his shoulder at her.

Laughing, Manda just shook her head with a sheepish smile. "Can't blame a girl for admiring the view, can you?" she retorted.

"No… not when it looks this good." Dean's grin was cocky as he got in his car. He fired up the engine, and just looked through the windshield at his girl.

Sam took one look at his brother, and shook his head with a smirk.

"What?" Dean asked, catching the glance from across the seat.

"Nothing… just, did you tell that girl you love her?" Sam had been waiting to bug him about that, and now was his chance.

"Sammy…" Dean's voice held a warning in it as he turned the car around, then took one last lingering look in the mirror at his girl, and tried to stuff down his grin. He had told her, because there was no more fighting it – for two hunters that usually avoided this emotion because it just didn't seem to work in their lives or line of work – this was love. It wasn't conventional or even logical when the odds where never on either of their sides, and would now end up being even more against both of them for being together.

Maybe they wouldn't last long, but since Manda was willing to try and so was he – they were going to take what they could get for the time being. That's all a hunter could do when it came to finding something good once in awhile in their crazy lives, and Dean knew he'd found something good with her. "Shut up," he ordered.

"Dude… you did!" Sam exclaimed with surprise. "You actually told her."

Cuffing Sam upside the head like only an annoyed but loving big brother could do, Dean chuckled. "That's the first of many if you keep it up," he warned with a smirk, and chuckled again to hide how he felt as Sam rolled his eyes at him.

However lame and new it was to him, Dean already missed his girl a bit, and felt a little lonelier as he turned the Impala out from her driveway and was now back on the road.

And that's end of this one...
Now just to touch upon these things - you knew they were going to get it on before he left. Hello - she basically died. And yes Manda kind of coaxed a Dean quite a bit when he hesitated, but she's stubborn and if she wants her man, she'll go for it. And you know Dean would want to, but the unease of her injuries would be fitting I'd say.
As for finding that moment to tell her he loved her - yikes! Did I get that right with making him choke on it once, then rushing it before finally getting it out? Because that's a big question mark on whether Dean would actually be able to say it. We'd all like to think he would, and maybe he would... but who knows. Hopefully it worked out okay.
Manda giving him the ring - hahaha - did you see that coming?? Yeah, that'd probably freak Dean out quite a bit, but I found that it worked, and that it would help him get out the words. She'd never push him or expect for more of a commitment though, and he knows it.
Then throwing him the key - she gave it to him but said him AND Sam could use it... it'd be sort of like how Chuch gets to use her house whenever. Maybe it was overboard, but oh well.
And letting them try this... well, they'd kind of be stupid to not try to be together at least for awhile. hehehe.

Well, if you've stuck it out for this long - thanks for that, thank you for reading (commenting/adding/etc if you have too!)
Hope you've enjoyed this story, this chapter, and of course the spin on Dean. Comment if you wish to... and if you'd like to see them together again - let me know!

I'm not sure if I'll write another story soon or not... we'll see if the inspiration hits. Thanks again! :)