A.N. Well…this is it. The end. The big curtain call. I just can't be believe it's over. *sniff sniff* First I just have to thank all of you guys who have stuck with this little underdog story. I have had so much fun playing out Brooke and Dean's love story the way I think it should happen, an I appreciate you guys enjoying it right along with me.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. As always.
The house was quiet.
And the silence was driving him insane.
Dean sat motionless on the couch, his dry, red-rimmed eyes staring intently into the polished tabletop in front of him. His elbows were propped up on his knees, his hands dangling uselessly between them. He could literally feel the minutes creeping by at an agonizingly slow pace, the tick of the clock on the wall echoing like a time bomb in his ears.
He wanted nothing more than to leave this house--leave Tree Hill, leave behind every memory he'd made since he came roaring back into town. He wanted to forget the peace and comfort he'd felt here; the familiarity. He wanted to get back to his I-don't-give-a-damn lifestyle--love 'em and leave 'em, just like he'd been doing the last four years.
But he knew he'd just be living a lie.
He sighed, glancing up at the clock once more. Sam was taking his sweet time getting back here. He'd taken Millie out for breakfast, wanting to spend a few hours with her before he left town, unsure of when or if they'd ever cross paths again.
Dean wanted to tell him not to bother--to just forget about whatever ridiculous feelings he had towards this girl. That it would do nothing for him but end in heartbreak and regret. But he recognized the smile on his brother's face when he was leaving the house that morning. And he couldn't bring himself to do it.
A knock at the door caught his attention, and he turned in time to see it swing open, Haley nodding at him quietly as she maneuvered her way inside. One look at her face, and he knew that she knew.
She knew he was leaving again.
She shut the door behind her, walking towards him slowly, a plastic-wrapped plate in her hands. Her brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her jeans and T-shirt giving a glimpse into the innocent, awe-struck kid she used to be when he'd first met her all those years ago. She smiled at him sadly when she came to a stop just behind the couch. "Hey there, Eeyore," she said, reciting the old nickname she'd called him.
Dean forced a smirk onto his face, turning in his seat to face her. "Hey, Piglet."
She grinned, nodding in appreciation that he'd remembered their old routine, and glanced around the room. "Where's Sam?"
"Off wining and dining Millicent," he replied, clearing his throat to soften the roughness he heard. "He wanted to say goodbye to her before we hit the road. Trade phone numbers and emails and…valentines for all I know."
Haley nodded, the smile slipping from her face. "So you're really leaving then."
It was a statement, not a question.
He met her somber gaze, swallowing down the emotion he could feel bubbling up, and nodded. "It's what she wants."
"It's not what she wants, you idiot," she said, exasperated. She shook her head, setting the plate down on the coffee table at her side before she turned to face him, arms crossed over her chest. "Damn it, Dean. You know Brooke. She doesn't know what she wants. She never has, other than when it came to you. She ALWAYS knew what she wanted when it came to you."
Dean dropped his gaze to his lap, suddenly unable to meet Haley's gaze.
"She is doing what she thinks has to be done," she continued. "Just like she always does. She did the exact same thing back in high school, with Lucas and Peyton."
"And it worked out for the best, didn't it?" he asked, finally raising his read to look at her again. Her lips were closed in a thin, tight line, and he knew that he'd found a flaw in her rant. "The thing about Brooke and her selfless, savior behavior? Most of the time…it's the right thing to do." He chuckled softly, shaking his head. "Who were we fooling, Hales? The whole small town, grounded deal…it's not me. I can't be 'that guy.' Not when there a million of those evil sons of bitches in the world, lurking in every damn corner, just waiting. Waiting for their chance."
"You're not the only hunter in the world, Dean," Haley reminded him softly. He stared simply stared at her, that stubborn, determined expression on his face that she had found so infuriating four years ago. There was no changing his mind when he wore that face. She sighed, shaking her head. "Why can't you just believe that you deserve this just as much as she does?"
Dean smirked, shaking his head, as he rose to his feet. "Because she deserves a hell of a lot better than me." He turned to face her fully, seeing her opening her mouth to argue with him once more, and he held his arms out this sides. "It's done, Haley. She's made up her mind and, in that, mine too. We both just need to get on with our lives, the best that we can. Okay?" He watched as she stared him down for a long moment, her eyes desperately searching his for any way to talk him out of this, before she sighed, nodding in resignation. He nodded then, too, before he let his gaze drop to the plate on the table. "Is that food?"
Haley couldn't help the laugh that left her then, and she smiled, nodding. "Yeah," she said, rubbing the back of her neck as she pointed to the plastic-covered sandwiches. "Jamie helped me make them this morning. He wanted you guys to have something to snack on during your trip. He even color coordinated them with toothpicks, arranging them into D's and S's." She rolled her eyes. "Obviously, there are more D's. It appears that his whole rivalry with Sam doesn't end with his leaving town."
He laughed, absentmindedly running a hand across his unshaven jaw. "Someone's gotta keep Sammy on his toes," he said. He sighed, raising his gaze from the plate to Haley. "I'm gonna miss him, you know."
She nodded, shrugging. "He'll miss you, too. Uncle Dean is his new favorite hero. You'll, um…you'll call, won't you? To check on Jamie? Maybe to let me and Nathan know how you are from time to time?"
He met her questioning gaze. Could he? What would he do? Call every few weeks or months, and listen to the earnest little voice on the other end of the line, wanting nothing more than to be there with him--with her? "Yeah," he lied, speaking softly. "Yeah, you bet."
Haley smiled softly, nodding, and he was secretly relieved when she didn't challenge she lie she so easily knew he was telling.
That was one of the things he'd always loved about Haley James Scott: She knew how to approach sensitive situations with caution, and knew when to let things drop.
God, he'd miss her too.
He cleared his throat suddenly, shifting on his feet. "God, I hate chick flick moments," he quipped, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had settled between them.
Haley laughed again, surprised to feel the sting of tears in her eyes, and made her way around the couch. She stopped in front of him, looking up into his face as he towered over her, just like he always had. She smiled, and raised herself onto her tiptoes, throwing her arms around his broad shoulders. She felt his strong arms come up to cradle her back, and he bent his head to accommodate her lower height. She pressed a kiss to his cheek, smiling up at him. "Thank you, Dean," she said softly, settling back onto her own two feet. "For everything."
He nodded, ducking his head in a humble gesture, so unlike the man she'd known before. "It was my pleasure, Hales," he said softly, meeting her eyes. "Really. You and Nathan…you guys are the best friends I've ever had. You're, uh…you're family. For lack of a better word. And, uh…I'm…I'm always here. Always. For anything you need."
Haley bobbed her head quickly, swiping at the tears that were now freely making their way down her cheeks, and she smiled at him, wrapping her arms around her waist. "You take care of yourself, Dean Winchester," she said, taking a step backwards towards the door.
Dean smiled. "You too."
And with one last smile in his direction, and weak but heartfelt wave of her hand, he watched Haley James Scott walk out the door to the house he wished he could stay in--the house that he wanted to grow old in with the woman he loved.
And then the door closed.
And he knew it was over.
"So what'd you tell Millie?"
Sam looked over at his older brother as he lifted his gaze from the map on his lap, his attention really only half focused on the routes and detours. He took in the sight of his brother's tense expression--the way his eyes were glued straight to the road ahead, never once even glancing at anything or anyone they passed, as if he was trying with all his might to put this town--and everyone in it--behind him for good.
Which, considering exactly who he was leaving behind, was probably his intention.
He shrugged, turning back to the map as he plucked at an invisible string on the knees of his jeans. "That I had to leave," he said simply. "She knew I might not have been in town for much longer. I've got her number; she's got mine. We'll keep in touch and just…see what happens, I guess." From the corner of his eye, he saw his brother nod absentmindedly, and he sighed quietly.
The minutes passed by in silence, not even the annoying strands of Black Sabbath or Metallica pouring from the ancient speakers of the Impala, until they passed the sign that announced they were now leaving Tree Hill, North Carolina. Sam peeked over at Dean, seeing the stiff straightness of his shoulders even as he slumped forward slightly in the driver's seat, and he folded the map over in his hands, turning slightly to face him. "Can I just say something?" he asked, glancing out as they passed the town limit sign, before settling on his brother's face once more. "Without any commentary from you, or any grief or whatever else might come to your mind?"
Dean didn't even look at him as he pursed his lips, lifting one shoulder in a noncommittal gesture. "Give it your best shot."
Sam ignored the emotionless tone with which his brother spoke, and he leaned his arm against the window ledge, his fingers tapping idly against the leather. "You're making a mistake," he started, gauging Dean's face for any reaction to his words. His expression remained the same; cool, distant, collected. Miserable. "I know that you've got it in your mind that this whole hunter-normal life thing can't work. You're convinced that, given our lifestyles and our jobs and our duties, we can't have that kind of life waiting for us somewhere. The loving girlfriend, the devoted friends, the support system that's more than willing to buy you a beer on a Friday night after a particularly brutal hunt and take your mind of it with mindless jokes and conversation. The kind of life that, for some reason I just cannot comprehend, you've convinced yourself you don't deserve."
He watched as the muscle in Dean's jaw twitched and tightened slightly, but his lips remained shut in their pursed position.
"Brooke Davis is probably the most amazing girl I've ever met, Dean. She's just got this…glow about her, I don't know. But it's obvious that she is heads over heels for you. And, sharing in your same distorted sense of right and wrong, she's pushing everything that she wants--not to mention, everything that she rightly deserves--to the backburner because she's convinced it's the 'right' thing to do. She understands what we do. Even more amazingly, she ACCEPTS it. She gets that it's part of who we are. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find that, Dean? Someone who doesn't give a damn that you fight monsters on a daily basis? Who doesn't care about all the lies and fake ID's and endless scams that you pull on a daily basis just to do the job? I wish that I could be half that lucky, to find someone like that.
"You're my brother, Dean. And I love you, okay? I've looked up to you most of my life, respecting you. Wishing that I could be half the man that you are. But this? The way you're handling this?" He shook his head, scoffing. "It's not the right thing, Dean. The right thing would be to turn this car around and head back into that town. The right thing would be for you to track Brooke down, and argue and plead and do whatever the hell it takes for her to see that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you're a hunter, and that, yeah, on a daily basis, you'll be worried that some demon is going to grab her or use her against you in some way. Because whether you're there with her, or halfway across the country, you're still going to be worrying about the same thing. And that you'll be there with her, at her side, ready to beat down whatever it is."
Dean's gaze remained fixed on the road, unblinking.
"You love her. In ways that I'm not even sure words could describe. And, having felt that for myself, no matter how long ago it might seem at times…I can tell you that it's all there is. That right there. That's all that matters. The demons and the hunts and the evil that we face everyday…it all can wait. Because it will still be there, waiting for us to finish it off. But Brooke? I don't know how long she can wait before her heart completely gives up, Dean. Not to mention yours, too."
Dean nodded, licking his lips with the tip of his tongue, as he glanced sidelong at his brother. "You done?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Sam frowned, nodding.
"Alright, then," he replied, pushing the power button to the radio with his thumb, and turning the volume knob as high as it would go with a flick of his wrist.
His hands returned to the steering wheel, beating out the rhythm to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, his head bobbing slightly to the beat.
Sam stared at him, crestfallen, before he let his gaze settle onto the rearview mirror, watching the town he'd come to grow quite fond of fade into the distance.
"It's for the best, you know."
Brooke looked up from her piece of double chocolate layer cake, her fork lying limply in her hand, and met the sympathetic gaze of her best friend over the counter of her store.
Peyton sat with her legs crossed, her feet dangling off the side of the bare counter, licking the fork clean of any remaining frosting. She shrugged, smiling softly. "Look, I know you love him and that he loves you. But the whole hunter situation…I mean, he leaves, a lot, and you just sit at home, waiting for the phone call that will either tell you he's on his way home or he's never coming back. It's not a way to live your life, B. Davis, no matter how crazy about the guy you are."
Brooke nodded, dropping her gaze back to her half-eaten cake, her shoulders lifting in a shrug. "I know, Peyton," she said softly, tracing meaningless patterns into the flawless icing. "Deciding that he should leave; that us being together will just affect his job and anyone he saves from now until…whenever. It was the right thing to do. It's just…going to take a little while to get over."
She heard a soft chuckle, and she looked over at Haley as she lounged on the loveseat across the room, her cake nothing but a dark smear on her paper plate now.
"Jamie misses him already," she said, resting her head against her fist as she leaned against the arm of the sofa. "I guess nobody really expected him to remember Dean, let alone get so attached to him. Hell, I don't even think I expected to get so attached to him again."
Peyton groaned, throwing her head back as she shifted her sling-clad arm. "Jesus, Haley, you're so pro-Dean," she joked, grinning. "What about all his stubbornness, or the way he always just seems so thrown together at the last minute? Or, God, his taste in music."
Haley laughed from across the room, pointing a condescending finger in her friend's direction. "Need I remind you, Miss Sawyer, that half the vinyl's you own, Dean has on cassette tapes, sitting in an old box on the floor of the Impala." Peyton's mouth fell open at her words, and she smirked, waving her finger in her direction. "Say what you want; you and Dean have way more in common than you want to admit."
Brooke smiled softly as her two best friends bickered playfully with each other, and she rested her chin in her hand as she stared absently at the countertop. She could get through this. This aching, hole in her heart would fade over time, just like it did before. She could go on with her life, knowing that whoever crossed Dean Winchester's path would be safe, no fear of distractions on his part. He'd go on to save the world, just like his father had trained him to do.
And she would go on living her life, wishing that he was there to save her.
She looked up, meeting Haley's brown eyes, and she tried to ignore the sympathy and heartbreak she found here.
She nodded, braving a small smile, and lifted her shoulders again. "Yeah," she said softly, trying to convince herself that the words she spoke were true. "It was the right thing to do, Hales. No matter how bad it hurts now…I know it's the path he's supposed to be on."
"Good God, you're such a friggin' martyr."
Brooke's head snapped up, turning towards the new but achingly familiar voice that spoke from the open doorway to her store, and her eyes widened of their own accord when she saw him standing there, one arm held out to his side, the other forcing the door to stay open next to him.
Her mouth opened and closed for several seconds, her shock clearly written across her pale face as she watched him take three long steps into the store, letting the door swing shut behind him. His eyes never once left her face, and she couldn't seem to make herself look away. "Dean…"
He nodded, his old, trademark smirk set firmly upon his lips as he held her gaze.
She slid herself off of her stool, the surprised and shocked stares of her two companions fading into the background as she made her way around the counter, her hands clenching themselves into the fabric of her shirt, only if to keep them from reaching out to him. She stopped herself from walking any closer to him, letting her feet plant themselves firmly in front of the counter as she stared at him. "What are you doing here? I mean…I thought--"
In three long strides, Dean closed the short distance between them, and despite the stares of the two other women occupying the room, crushed her to his chest, capturing her lips in his in a heated kiss. He felt her gasp slightly when their lips made contact, but he merely pressed on, wrapping one arm tightly around her waist while the other found leverage in her dark hair. He pulled apart only when his breathing demanded it, and he stared down into her shocked eyes, caressing her cheek gently. "To hell with the right thing, Davis," he said softly, watching as her eyes began to shine with unshed tears. "I let you go once…I'll be damned if I do it again."
Brooke bit her lip tightly to keep from releasing the sob that was welling in her throat, and she shook her head slowly, staring up into his eyes. "Dean, this can't work out between us," she tried to explain, but his shrug cut her short.
"Why not?" he asked, gripping her arms tightly as he lowered his gaze to hers. "Because I'm so in love with you my head won't always be on the hunt? Brooke, even with us not being together, my head STILL won't be. It'll be here, with you, worrying. And if that's going to happen anyway, I'd rather do it here, in your arms, than in a million different cities across the country."
She closed her eyes, shaking her head once more. "Dean…"
"I want to marry you, Brooke Davis."
Her eyes shot open at his words, and the gasps of her friends behind her mingled with her own.
Dean was nodding, his smug smirk back in place. "You heard me," he said. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I'll give up hunting, if that'll ease your mind. I'll get my job back at the garage, I'll freaking coach Jamie's basketball team. Not that they'll win any games with me calling the shots, but I'll gladly take the ribbing and the beatings from Nathan if it means that I get to be with you."
Brooke laughed, pulling back slightly from him intense gaze. "Dean, this is ridiculous," she said, running a hand through her hair. "Even if we could get past the whole hunting and horrible coaching job thing, there's no way we would ever make it as a married couple. We fight all the time--"
"I won't," he promised, shaking his head.
She scoffed, hitting his chest with the back of his hand. "You can't even propose without fighting!"
"I don't care," he said, capturing her hand in his and bringing it to his lips, pressing a kiss to her soft skin. "I could care less about all of that, Brooke. All I care about is that I'm with you, forever. No matter what. Come hell or high water, demons or ghosts, or Peyton when she's had a really bad morning."
Brooke looked over her shoulder at her best friend, laughing when the blonde sent a withering glare in Dean's direction, the middle finger on her one good hand standing front and center, before she turned back to him, unable to stop the smile that was slowly creeping up her face as she stared into his eyes.
"I told you before….you're the ONLY reason, Brooke. You're It. And I mean, It. I'm not leaving this time. I don't care how long I have to camp outside your house or outside this store. I don't care how many hours of pleading and begging with you it takes. I don't care if I even have to get back up onstage and sing another Frankie Vallie--"
"No," Peyton and Haley both chorused together, causing him to roll his eyes as Brooke laughed again.
"I don't care," he said, softer this time, staring down into her face. "I just know that you're the girl for me, Brooke Davis. You're all I want for the rest of my life. I want to marry you. Please, just…put me out of my misery, and say you'll give it a shot."
Brooke smiled, shaking her head as she felt the few tears slip from her eyes and down her cheeks. She laughed softly, arching her eyebrow as she looked up into his smirking face. "This is a really, really bad idea," she whispered softly, tilting her chin up slightly towards him.
Dean grinned, his hands coming up to cup her face gently as he lowered his face towards her. "Then we've better give it all we've got." And he pressed his lips to hers once more, relishing the feel of her arms slipping around his shoulders, and her body melding so perfectly against his own.
Peyton scoffed, shaking her head as she watched her best friend and the man she loved canoodle in the middle of the store, looking over at Haley as she held a hand to her chest, fawning over them. "Unbelievable," she said, throwing up her hand when the brunette turned to look at her. "The guy's like a cockroach. I'm never going to get rid of him."
Haley laughed, throwing her head back against the loveseat, and tossed her crinkled up napkin at the pouting blonde, grinning when her face broke into a reluctant smile. They both leaned back, watching as the event they had known was coming since Dean Winchester drove into town a week ago unfolded in front of them, both unbelievable glad that the girl who deserved the happiness most was finally getting it.
Sam grinned as he watched the scene unfold from the curb in front of Clothes Over Bros., his arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the Impala. He shook his head, watching as his brother and Brooke pulled apart, smiling widely into each other's faces, and he laughed, glad that his brother was finally finding some peace in his restless life.
He looked up, quickly pulling himself to his full height when he saw Millie slow her steps as she walked towards him, an adorable smile on her pretty face. He grinned at her.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, unable to hide the happiness from her voice.
He shrugged, taking a few steps towards her, his hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his jacket. "Change of plans," he said, smiling. "My brother and I are hanging around for awhile after all."
Millicent nodded, taking a small step towards him. "A long while?" she asked hopefully, smiling up at him.
Sam looked into the glass door once again, a content smile on his face as he turned back to look into the brown eyes of the beautiful assistant, and he couldn't help the peaceful tone his voice took. "Yeah," he said, nodding as he held his hand out for hers. She grinned, taking a hold of his, and she laughed when his fingers tightened around hers. "A good, long while."
And…that's it. Second Chances has come it's close.
God, I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to share this story with you guys. You all have been so incredible and welcoming, and I just want you to know, that as cliché as this sounds, it really wouldn't have been told without you.
You guys made it worth it. *grin*
So…let me know what you guys think…I'm brainstorming ideas for a sequel. Would that interest anybody?
I think Brooke and Dean's story is far from over, not to mention the story I just know is waiting for Millie and Sam.
Let me know your guys thoughts. You all have been the best reviewers a gal could ask for.
For readers of Stand in the Rain, my attempt at a Twilight/One Tree Hill crossover, it should be updated by the end of the week. Now that Second Chances is done--for the moment, it's my primary focus. *grin*
Thanks for everything.