A/n: It takes me ages to update, and I'm really sorry. The next time won't be soon, unfortunately, although I hope sooner than even I expect LOL *lost myself here*

Anyways, hope you'll like the chap ))) Make sure you read to the end ;)

As I decided to make this story a song-fic, then don't be surprised to find pieces of lyrics in the beginning of each chap.


Chapter 3

-- A phrasing that's a single tear,

It's harder than I ever feared
And you were left feeling so alone.
Because these days aren't easy
Like they have been once before
These days aren't easy anymore

"Why" by Secondhand Serenade--

"You've gotta be kidding me," Dean breathed into the receiver.

"I am dead serious, Dean," Bobby grumbled, and yeah, he did sound serious enough. "Now would you please lift your precious ass and drag it to New Jersey? That would so make my day."

"A haunting in the bookstore," Dean mumbled. "Are you sure about that? I mean if I actually had to work in the bookstore, like, 9 to 5, every day and all, I'd go crazy and cut my throat alright. But… you sure it's a ghost that's behind this?"

There was a muffled sound on the other end of the line as Bobby started flipping through the pages of something. Dean waited tapping his fingers on the table. His gaze rested on several old news-papers lying on the table. Never-touched news-papers he had to admit. They looked good in the overall mess of the room, like a very necessary part.

"Five deaths in seven days," Bobby said at last. "People like you, who can cut the throat to themselves at the very thought of the bookstore, just don't go there, normally, so yeah, I think it's kinda our case. Why? Are you busy or what?"

Dean pinched at the bridge of his nose. "No. No, I'm not. 'Course I'm not. It's just…" He trailed off. Just what? He needed some distraction not to go crazy, and a new case would probably do better that anything else. "Okay, I'll be there. And Bobby…"

"Call me if you need any details."

"No. I mean, yeah, sure, but… have you heard anything?"

"It's quiet, Dean." There was either regret or exhaustion in his voice, Dean couldn't quite tell. "Demon activity was low lately, so get yourself together, boy, and do what you're mean to do." And he hung up.

"To hunt the ghost of those who had freakin' died before they finished the last book of then Star Wars series?" He shook his head. Oh well, who else could possibly haunt the bookstore?

He chuckled then. It was more like Sam's department. His was probably strip-bars.

But one thing Bobby was right about. Demons were exceptionally quiet, and he knew he'd go nuts if he stayed in the motel for another day. Besides, he wasn't that optimistic to believe that there was a chance he'd miss the beginning of all the fun. Sure thing, if something happened, Cas would know where to find him.

***

So… the bookstore! It looked dark and empty from the outside, not that Dean expected anything else some time around midnight. Empty and somewhat creepy too. Too quiet. It was a geek boy's work, he thought against his will. Sam would probably never find a place stuffed with all sorts of books creepy. For Dean it was just… weird.

It wasn't too big, but not small enough to check it out in one sweep of a glance either.

Dean left the Impala in the alley, lest it be spotted by some curious by-passers and broke into the store through the back door turning off the security system. He smirked. It was just too easy, almost like a joke. Who in their right mind would want to come here uninvited, anyway? Oh, well, except for him. But it was different.

The bookstore was located on the ground floor of the apartment building and Dean was fully aware of the need to make as little noise as possible. It wouldn't help much if someone called the police.

The place was old-fashioned and all decorated in polished wood – the shelves, the counter, the window frames and even the panels on the walls. This, he thought absently, was probably what the bookstores looked like a century ago. Homey and cozy. And it smelled nice, too. Of the lemon furniture polish and something… something that surprisingly reminded him of the childhood and those times when dad was taking him and Sam to the library with him to make some research for the case. Like, before Internet won the world. When they still were family.

The memory caused a bitter feeling and Dean hurried to wave it off willing himself to concentrate on here and now. Using the flashlight didn't sound like a very good idea as it could also draw unnecessary attention. All in all, the light coming through the big windows was enough but the corners and far rows of bookshelves were all covered in thick shadows, and that could be a problem, he thought.

And it was quiet, too, especially for the place located nearly in the center of the city. It seemed like all the sounds – the cars, the voices, the usual noises of a big city, which seemed to exist all by themselves – were gone, as if the windows were shielding the small store from the rest of the world. Dean was listening so intensely that his head hurt but there was nothing, not even the creak of the floorboards beneath his feet. And yeah, he had this feeling that someone was trying to burn a hole in his back with their gaze but every time he chanced a glance over his shoulder, there was nothing. It was irritating.

Not that he never worked alone. In fact, he did. For years. When Sam was already gone to college and after their dad had decided that separately they could cover more ground. But now, after having Sam by his side for the last couple of years, it wasn't the same. He just couldn't help but wish that his brother just materialized beside him to cover his back in case something big and scary jumped at him out of the darkness.

Imagining it gave Dean a nervous chuckle though. Had Sam actually did something like that, his big brother would probably seriously freak out. Sure, Cas and Sam's demonic girlfriend were good at that, but then they weren't exactly human. And no matter what he knew of Sam, he still wanted to believe that his brother was a human being.

Dean reached the end of the row and cautiously poked his head from the isle to observe the front-door area. His gaze traveled past the check-out counter – computer perched on top of it was probably the only thing in the entire place that reminded him of the fact that he was still in the XXI century – and water dispenser to the half-glassed door with that absolutely irreplaceable bell hanging above it to ding every time someone went in or out. The right corner was occupied by the wiry magazine and postcard holders. The left one was too dark to make out what was placed there.

"Comic books," Dean grinned when he spotted a stack of them lying on top of the counter.

He ducked when the car passed by outside and the light of the headlights swept across the store's hardwood floor.

Here's to working alone, he thought ruefully. It was either that, or admitting that he was getting jumpy, and he, personally, preferred the first.

He crossed relatively open and unsafe space of the check-out area and dove into yet another isle, which was the science fiction section, if the names and pictures on the book covers were any indication. Smirked under his breath. The section with the demonic history and ritual books sounded more like his kind of the bookstore's area than that. Oh, well, whatever.

"Oh, come on!" He whispered addressing who-the-hell-ever might be hiding in the shadows. "Come out already."

He made another step forward and felt chilly air run down his spine, literary speaking. A familiar thrill went through his body. Dean never knew what exactly was always making the hunt so damn exciting for him – the fearlessness that was the result of John Winchester's approach to brining his kids up or just mere knowledge that he knew that there always was a way to destroy the nasty stuff, sooner or later. And here it was again. The cold spot – a 99% guarantee of the ghost presence.

"Here you are," Dean drawled, all alert now, and couldn't help but smirk a little. He peered into the darkness with intensity and… eventually rose his eyes up to spot an air gate right above him. The blinders were open and relatively cold air was blowing right at his head. "Oh, damn," he cursed softly because he just got that 1% probability of another explanation of the cold spot. "Okay, fine!" Lowered his shot-gun and reached into his pocket for the EMF-meter.

He turned the small gadget on. It creaked loudly, all small lamps flaring bright red in his face. Dean frowned. "What the…?"

And then he lifted his head up, and he saw her.

The woman was standing in front of him, some five meters down the isle. She was wearing an old-fashioned brown-and-white high-collared dress. Her hair hung loose in untidy strands around her face, which had an unnaturally grayish color. She looked rather displeased, or so the furrowed brows and thin line of her pale lips said. Even her small hands were balled into tiny fists to make the image complete. For a moment Dean even thought that had it been possible, she would probably have smoke coming out of her nostrils.

He had no doubt that she was a ghost. Dean could have ignored her crazy looks and the fact that she shouldn't have been in the shop that late in the evening. Weirder things happened, after all. But he could hardly miss it that he could almost clearly see the painting hanging on the opposite wall – right through her. It was probably the creepiest part of his job, even after all those year. The most surreal one.

"Here you are, sweetheart!" Dean's lips quirked into a small satisfied smile. "Nice to see you."

For a moment they kept looking at each other, and then suddenly the woman opened her mouth wide and let out a dreadful sound – a mixture of pain and anger – that was so loud that for a moment Dean feared that she might have deafened him. She lurched herself at him, eyes glowing slightly with that special energy no living being was capable of demonstrating just like that.

Almost instinctively Dean cocked his shot gun and fired. The scream died when the load of rock-salt went through the semi-transparent body.

"Here you go," he muttered fighting the wish to try and clear his ears because the scream was still echoing in his brain, which wasn't the best of feelings. "I always knew that places like that could drive you nuts, but this? Jesus! That was loud."

So, this was probably some old and pretty pissed off book-store seller or something like that, and now all he had to do was to find her body… probably hidden somewhere in here, or so he hoped, although the idea was creepy, and then salt and burn it to help the woman rest in peace, or whatever. Yeah, weirder things happened, but this freakin' book-worm was nearing the Top ten of them.

He felt the flow of cold air run down the back of his head and then his spine. Much colder than the air from the ventilation system. It felt more like a cascade of chilly needles touching his skin. And Dean knew at once what he was going to see if he turned back.

Slowly, he did turn. And she was standing right in front of him. So close that even in the dim light of the streetlamp that were barely making its way to where they both stood he could see her thin papery skin, hollow cheeks and sharp cheekbones. Mesmerized by the angry glow in her eyes, Dean missed the moment when she reached out for him again, her nails sharp and looking more like pointy claws. One more thing a living being would never have.

His reaction was fast though. She had barely grazed the skin on his cheek when Dean lifted his arm to protect his face but not fast enough to duck away, and the next moment hot pain shot through his shoulder, as if four sharp knives slashed him. In the back of his mind he registered the sound of the tearing cloth and then something warm started and sticky started spreading down his arm, soaking through the sleeve.

"Bitch!" Dean snapped when a quick glance down revealed several long gashes. "It was my favorite shirt!"

***

It was a persistent ringing of the speakerphone in the hall near the door that mercilessly dragged Bela out of what was yet another nightmarish dream – the one you forgot completely upon opening your eyes but that always was leaving you with uneasy feeling for the rest of the day – at about five in the morning. it was hard to decide whether she was annoyed or glad that it happened, and honestly, it was past her how she managed to hear it at all, what with her being so damn exhausted. What with the bloody dreams being so hard on letting her go.

It wasn't making the ringing less unwanted though. She grumbled something unintelligible and rolled over to bury deeper into the softness of her bed willing the annoying sound to disappear. Groped blindly for the second pillow lying on the other side of the bed intending to put it atop of her head to mute the rest of the world before she started to panic or imagine things… or whatever. She heaved a sigh and shut her eyes tight. Demons don't ring, Bela reminded herself. No, they never ring.

For a moment everything was quiet, and she even dared to guess that the whole ringing thing never happened. But as soon as she started drifting away into the dreamland again, her mobile came to life emitting what seemed to be terrible loud noises somewhere on the night-stand to the left from her. Bela growled desperately and reached out to grab it. Dropped a stack of letters that were lying nearby waiting for her attention to the floor and scowled. Forced her eyes open…

The called ID read – Dean Winchester.

The ringing stopped before she had time to hit the answer button but started the second go-around almost immediately. As always, Dean was a little too persistent for politeness.

"What again?" She croaked by means of a greeting and despite the leap of her heart, still trying hard to focus, her voice hoarse from sleep, and so is her mind.

There was some weird noise on the other end of the line before, "Again?" She could swear he wanted to say something else, but then only, "Let me in!" came.

"What?" Bela propped herself up on one elbow and blinked when her eyes rested on the alarm clock. "Do you have any idea what time is it?"

"Honestly? No clue."

"So I see. It's five in the morning, for Christ's sake! Go hit the rack somewhere else." She flopped back onto the pillows and rubbed sleepily at her eyes, her thoughts a mess. It was hard to imagine why would Dean need to come to her.

"Open the damn door," he growled.

It was tempting to hang up on him, Bela thought somewhat mischievously. More than just tempting. She could have turned off the phone and ignore the door long enough to pretend it was just a background noise, annoying but meaningless.

But instead she sighed cursing Dean Winchester personally and the rest of the world in general in her mind. "Hold on."

She did hang up then. Left the cozy confines of her bed and staggered into her slippers not bothering to turn on the lights. The air coming through the open window was cool and fresh. She grabbed her housecoat and dragged it on while groping her way down and then across the hall. Reached out to turn on the reading lamp in the living room and yawned, squinting.

God knew, it was a bad idea to let Dean in and she was aware of it. Hopefully, it wasn't the end of the world that brought him here, and if not, then she would probably be able to get rid of him within then next five minutes. Hell, she didn't want to have anything to do with whatever crap he got himself into this time.

Bela buzzed him in and then hovered by the door, all but hopping in the narrow corridor while waiting for him to come up. Propped it open when she heard the footsteps outside and gave him a lazy once-over. "You look like crap," she stated without any actual sympathy.

Not that anyone would ever take the truth as an offence.

"Nice to see you, too," he snorted and shouldered past her into the apartment.

"Whatever," she muttered locking the door behind him. "So, what do you want now? Spare bedroom? Coffee? Breakfast? Massage?" Bela asked following him into the living room, her voice rich with sarcasm. "Room service is not available at this hour, I'm sorry."

She folded her arms o the chest when he looked at her over his shoulder. Keeping her voice light and like nothing mattered was a little harder than she had expected.

Bed idea, she thought momentarily. It was a dangerous territory she suddenly found herself on. After all…

She never got to finish her thought though.

"Some light and hot water would be fine, thank you," Dean's voice was rather tense, even past irony.

His answer took her by surprise. "Some… what? Are you serious?"

He rolled his eyes. "Do I look like I'm kidding or what?"

"Let me think… You barge in here at five in the morning asking for hot water." She made a meaningful pause. "Yeah, sounds like a Winchester-style joke to me. No offence."

"None taken. You do have kettle, don't ya?"

It was the stupidity of the question that made Bela notice that he looked and moved a little weird. He was holding his duffel bag in his left hand that hung limp down along his body while his right hand was holding tight onto the left shoulder, and there was… oh, damn!

"You've got blood over there, Dean," she observed fighting to sound careless although her mouth had suddenly gone dry like sand-paper. For some reason she couldn't quite look calmly at blood anymore. Or maybe there was reason after all.

"Aw, really?" Dean scoffed. "Wow! It slipped past me, believe it or not." Shook his head and added. "You didn't think I came to have a small talk or something, did you?"

"You came for some hot water, I got that."

"I couldn't check in anywhere bleeding like that," he grumbled, and it was hard to miss it that he liked the idea of bothering her as much as she loved to be bothered like that.

It wasn't the most pleasant discovery though. It made Bela scowl even. "And you decided to come here and bleed all over my place. Cute! Actually, I'm honored. Really, Dean. It proved such deep trust, or whatever." And then as an afterthought, "You could have visited the hospital, you know. Just for a change."

"Funny."

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Dean!" She crossed that four meters between them and grabbed his duffel from his hand. "You can put that down, really." Not because he was all gray and probably barely standing, and definitely not because she cared that he looked terrible and not exactly comfortable standing before like that, somewhat vulnerable and utterly uneasy. "I'm not going to try and check what you've got in there. Scout's honor!"

For the barest of moments their fingers touched and Dean let go of the bag's handle as it seemed to be the only was to jerk his hand away without actually jerking it away. Bela didn't seem to notice it though, or so it looked. She just tossed the bag onto the floor near the couch without so much as respect for his belongings. Dean glared at her for good measure but she either let it go past her, or simply ignore it.

"They would never take you in to be a scout-girl. That usually required some morality to be one. And I… I don't need your help," he sounded defensive and he didn't like it, but it was hard to control it, too. "I'm fine, just…"

"I'm not going to help you," she snorted like it was the most insulting assumption ever. Actually, she wouldn't really mind if he just left, or better – never came at all. "What I am going to do is go back to sleep. I'm sure you'll be absolutely fine all on your own."

"Sure," he muttered waving his injured hand at her, his good hand still clutching on his shoulder. The dismissing gesture flexed his muscles and escalated the bleeding, which made Dean wince inwardly.

"Do try not to bleed on the furniture," Bela made a face at him, but he ignored her entirely.

Of course, it was impossible to fall asleep again, and it became clear way too soon. First, she was too awake already, like after several cups of the strongest espresso. Her thoughts were a chaos she wasn't sure she was capable of coping with. Leave alone the fact that she was lying in the bed with the blanket over her head and fought the overwhelming wish to go and barricade the door because the very thought of sleeping in a place where she wasn't all alone was nearly unbearable. The only thing that actually stopped her from doing it from the start was the idea of what it would look like if Dean came up and found out what she did. Her reputation and dignity simply didn't let her to even consider it as a possibility.

And second, it was absolutely foolish to even dream of falling asleep in all the terrible noise that was coming from downstairs. Even with the door to her bedroom shut tight she could still hear Dean rummaging through the kitchen cabinets, the metallic sound of the pans and dishes being moved from place to place was loud enough to raise dead from their graves. He was cursing soundly, too. Either from pain, or because he didn't know how to use the faucet, or whatever. All in all, he did nothing to appreciate her not throwing him out, cut and bleeding. Ungrateful, arrogant, self-minded…

Plus, it was almost killing to think of her Persian carpet that could be completely destroyed because of someone who didn't give a damn. It wasn't mean to be treated the way Dean treated things, especially the things that did not belong to him. Besides, she did have valuables all over her apartment, and didn't want him to sneak out with some of them, even if the most priceless items were kept securely in the safe of her bedroom.

Bela sighed. Tossing and turning wasn't making any good to her, she decided at last. Whereas coffee could actually make it up somehow. Maybe she could even force him out by hanging around. Knew it would be annoying, and didn't she have the right to be annoying? Another ruined night, here I come!

She got up once again. Changed into jeans and a plain long-sleeved t-shirt. Considered making her looks more decent but then only ran the hairbrush through her hair several times. She was at home, after all! At six in the morning! And she could look however she liked here.

The lights were on in the living room and kitchen area now. Dean's jacket lay in the armchair and Bela's first thought was – You'd better pray it is clean! His duffel was unzipped and she couldn't help but chance a quick look inside to find a spare pair of jeans, a knife and something she wasn't sure she wanted to know about.

As for Dean, he was half-buried in one of the cabinets above the sink digging fondly through the contents. Bela came up right in time to catch a pack of coffee beans falling out of it. She gave him a glare thanking God mentally that it was just coffee and not her china… and what was he doing there, anyway?

He didn't acknowledge her approach by turning or something, but it definitely didn't go past him. The way his shoulders stiffened spoke volumes.

"What are you doing?" She asked with patient curiosity. And politely, too, Bela noted in her mind, instead of reminding him that he wasn't at home to behave however he liked. Oh, he didn't have home, right. Crappy motels – a new one each week – could hardly be qualified as one.

Okay, it was mean.

Dean shot her a quick look over his shoulder. "I told you I don't need you help."

"I didn't come to help you," she replied, all dignity. "Don't flatter yourself," added for good measure lest he thinks his injured state softened her a bit. "But you're destroying my kitchen. I want to save what's still left."

He snorted and turned away. "Why do you even keep all that crap and don't ever have some crackers?"

"Excuse me? Are you looking for… for crackers?" It wasn't easy to wrap her mind around that. "Are you crazy?"

"I'm nervous, and bleeding. It weakens me, that's why I want crackers."

A can of spices fell out following the coffee and Bela barely had time to catch it before it hit the counter and its contents were spilled all over her kitchen.

"For heaven's sake, stop it!" She breathed out trying to ignore the fact that the gesture drew her even closer to him now. Like, very close. And maybe it was just her, but she could have sworn that he caught his breath, too. "I don't have any crackers. You can have… cereal, just get out of here."

"Nice place to keep this, I gotta say," his chuckle was unexpected, and before Bela had time to contemplate it, he retrieved something small, black and glittery from the cabinet.

She frowned and took a small involuntary step back feeling the chill go down her spine. Dean was holding her purse, one of a few she had to go with the cocktail dresses and heels. This particular one looked good with that small black dress with the open back… Bela fought the urge to shake her head in order to clear her mind physically.

"Give me that!" She snapped snatching the purse out of his hand, gave it a look and put it aside deciding to think of one thing at a time. Right at the moment 'one thing' to think of was the one that was bleeding. "Sit," she pointed towards the counter with several tall stools around it.

It was either his tiredness, or the look on her face that made Dean oblige without a word. His shoulder started to throb dully kinda making even breathing painful. All he wanted to do was to sit absolutely still and hold his breath for a while. And, God, he still had the prospect of taking his button-up off ahead of him. Thinking of his left sleeve and it being stuck to the wound made Dean flinch.

Trying to look annoyed as best she could, Bela took her time to fill and turn on the coffee machine casting quick sidelong glances at Dean from time to time. He said nothing, just watched her, which was shocking and somewhat unnerving.

After that she came up to him and checked on the contents of his medical kit lying on the counter. Rolled her eyes and walked to the bathroom to come back moments later with the leather bag that was her own medical kit – the one she "trusted" more.

Dean watched her manipulations warily, struggling with the wish to ask if she was going to use some dried frog legs or bat eyes or something else disgusting on him. More out of habit than to actually piss her off.

"I can cut this off," Bela offered and nodded towards his button-up.

"Mm? No. No, it's fine," Dean cleared his throat. "I can take it off."

He shook the right sleeve off of his good arm and then cursed his way through staggering out of the other one as Bela helped to slowly pull it down. She was gentle to his surprise, and maybe a little too concerned for someone who didn't care, or maybe it was just his blood-loss that led to some sort of delusion about who she really was, Dean reminded himself. Carelessly, she dropped the bloody and ruined shirt to the floor with the look of weird satisfaction on her face. Dean regarded her darkly but did not comment.

"So, how exactly did it happen to you, again?" She asked while rolling the remains of the short t-shirt sleeve up so that she could see the wound, which was three long and deep gashes with nasty looking edges. As if someone cut him with three knives at a time, she thought.

"It was the ghost," Dean winced and sucked in his breath when she ran a cotton pad along the perimeters on the cuts to clean up the dried blood. "Jesus."

"I doubt he'll help you," she replied absently. "A ghost then. It was angry."

"Kinda," he shrugged.

"Don't move," she growled.

He met her glare with a somewhat sheepish expression forcing her to heave a sigh, her face all – What a dolt!

"It was a ghost of a nerdy woman from the bookstore," he continued, more to distract himself from the painful procedure than anything else. Not that Bela asked for the details.

"What did you do to piss her off? Had a date and then never called back?"

Unexpectedly, Dean chuckled. Cast a sidelong look at her registering that the corners of her lips were slightly up, too. "Little nerdy book-worms are not my department, they are more Sam's type, y'know. " He said softly, and then regretted bring up the theme the next moment.

Because Bela surely would never let it slip. It was in her nature to detect the weakest spots and then hit them right in the middle where it hurt most.

And she simply couldn't not to ask. "Speaking of Sam… Where is he?" Reached out for the bandages. "Logically, it should've been him stitching you up right now, not me."

"Stitching?" Dean whipped his head around frowning to stare at his wound. It didn't look pretty, true, but…. Stitching?!

"Relax, Dean, it's not that bad." She gave him a small reassuring smile, and her voice was soft, too. And he hated it so much when she spoke to him like he was someone mentally incompetent! "Still, you didn't answer my question." And yeah, she wasn't someone to be easily distracted.

It was so damn easy to ignore her, or better to tell her to back off or something.

"We're not in the best of terms with Sam right now," Dean said instead hoping she's get it that he didn't exactly want to go deeper indo the details.

It wasn't like 'My brother has a fucking demon for a girlfriend' was the thing he wanted to talk about anyway. Leave alone the fact that he couldn't quite think straight with her being around.

Dean swallowed and made an attempt to concentrate on something else… something neutral, for example. Tried to count in his mind.

Not that it worked… She was standing too close for comfort, and the fact that he could even smell the flowery scent of what probably was her shampoo didn't help matters much. The memory was just a little too fresh to wave it off. He could still remember the feel of her skin, the sound her whisper when nothing else mattered, the look in her eyes when he knew she was seeing no one but him in the whole wide world. And maybe it wasn't the best of the ideas to come here after all.

"I see," Bela drawled. Obviously, she was oblivious to the mess in his head. Thank God! "Sam decided to have his own grown-up life. And you decided to pay me a visit why, exactly?"

"It was convenient," Dean beamed at her. "See, I couldn't go to the hospital since they'd freak out and honestly, I doubt that they'd buy some grizzly attack story. As for the motel, I didn't like the idea of them charging me for the ruined towels or furniture, or whatever."

Bela arched an eyebrow in the elegant manner of hers.

"And I really, really needed to take care of that," he finished lightly.

"What makes you think I wouldn't charge you for the ruined night?" She snorted and finally started bandaging his shoulder, after finishing, like, a million of layers of smelly stuff.

He made some noise, a mixture of a chuckle and a scoff that she couldn't quite define.

And this was what Bela called the crash of standards. He was still Dean Winchester, the way she saw him from the start – a good hunter, a good man probably because she never had a reason to think otherwise, foolish to get into the trouble from time to time but smart enough to celebrate his 29th birthday. And then there was another Dean, black-eyes, cruel and merciless, who could emotionlessly cut out her heart without a blink. The Dean that knew about her past more than anyone was allowed to know. The only person that made her wish to either run away or put the wall between them so that he could never ever find a way to reach her. The only one she feared most, deep inside, because she never knew what to expect from him.

And yet here she was, playing doctors and nurses with him, pretending that nothing happened, trying to forget that he was the main figure in all of her nightmares that woke her up screaming every bloody night.

So yeah, crash of the standards. Leave alone the fact that she couldn't quite figure out why he exactly he was making her feel so safe and yet so unprotected at the same time when he was around.

"So, Bela," he started if a little uncertainly. Cleared his throat. "How's it, you know… going?"

She hesitated for a moment, caught by surprise.

"Good," replied after a little while. "Perfect even. I'm alive. Right now it's all that actually matters." Finished her job and finally dared to meet his eyes. "Do me a favor, Dean. The next time you come across something nasty, search for some other place to crash."

There was a pause then, during which they just stared at each other without moving, or even blinking.

He looked like crap indeed, Bela thought absently. Not because his jacket was all bloody and his button-up completely ruined, and no, and didn't quite want to know what were the stains on his jeans. That, actually, wasn't surprising at all since the whole hunter's work wasn't the cleanest of all. God knew what he'd been through since morning. But she didn't remember seeing the lines around his eyes, not like that. And he felt exhausted, as if he was trying to physically absorb any energy from the outside to keep his body functioning. Honestly, she couldn't imagine why he didn't pass out yet, being worn out like that.

All of a sudden she felt a little dizzy and light-headed. Lack of sleep, lack of coffee, too many thoughts… Weird. After what had happened in Montana she never thought a moment like that could ever happen again. He shouldn't have come. She had enough to deal with without adding yet another hell-refugee to it.

And she seriously hated him for that feeling he gave her, like she wasn't all alone. She knew she was. She knew it was just an illusion, something to believe in and to hold on to not to go crazy. But she kept grasping for it because she needed a break, just a small break before her demons came back again.

Bela didn't even realize that they were drawing closer - so close that she could even see amber spots in his green eyes – until Dean's cell phone started to ring and they literary jerked away from each other, startled. It was a miracle he didn't fell off that stool.

"I gotta…" Dean mumbled in a voice that was barely a whisper.

"Sure," she nodded not looking at him and started cleaning up all the mess as he reached for his cell with his good hand. Thought that this blood-soaked towel was ruined like hell…

It was Bobby, by the name of Claude Simmons on the caller ID. "Yeah, Bobby, I'm here," Dean breathed out into the receiver still not sure if it was a good or bad timing for Bobby to show up interrupting what could – or could not – have happened.

"Dean, where the hell are you?" Bobby snapped, frustrated. "You were supposed to give me a call, like, five hours ago."

Oh, yeah, right. Dean rubbed at his forehead. Somewhere between being attacked by the crazy old broad, his insane idea of using Bela's place as ER and her not kicking him out he somehow forgot to call.

"Sorry, I… I meant to, really." He hoped he sounded as apologetic as he felt. "Something came up." Smooth!

"You okay?" Now there was concern behind the grumble.

Deal looked down at what would probably become three neat scars pretty soon. "Yeah, never better."

"And?"

"She rests in peace, I swear."

"Good." There was a pause before Bobby spoke again. "Sam called."

"Sam?" Dean was all alert at once, the worry ringing in his voice. "Is he…?"

"Fine. He's fine. Just a touch base. To check if I was okay and all. To tell he was alive. I thought you'd want to know."

"Oh," Dean cleared his throat hoping his disappointment wasn't hat obvious. "Sure. Thanks."

"You've gotta make it up somehow, the two of you."

"Yeah, maybe," Dean replied automatically. "Sure we will." Not that he actually believed it anymore. "It's Sam, right? Sam and Dean. Dean and Sam. Always been like that."

In wasn't hard to see Bobby nodding, in his mind.

"What are you going to do now?"

Dean snorted. "I've got a pack of winged asses breathing down my neck. Guess I'll see if I can be good for whatever divine plans they've got for me."

He hung up right in time with the high pitched beep of the coffee machine followed by Bela's soft, "Finally." Turned around to see her reaching out for the mug. The sky behind the window was steadily turning bluish-purple. Bela's cat came out from the corridor and climbed on the counter to sit beside him, its yellow eyes squinting and sleepy.

"Two sugars, please," Dean beamed when Bela graced him with a look over her shoulder.

She gave him a long once-over from head to toe, somewhat appreciative and amused at the same time.

"Don't make me comment on this," she scoffed.

He was about to comment on that but then he saw it, a blur of a movement, out of the corner of his eye. All alert at once, Dean span around… and came face to face with Castiel, not more that a feet away from him. Too close for comfort, in fact. Especially when it wasn't expected.

"Jesus, Cas," he breathed out with relief and shook his head, his heart pounding loud against his ribs. "You're invading my personal space."

"Oh, no, not again!" That was Bela who could hardly miss the appearance of a new guest and there was a warning in her voice. Dean wondered if she was going to shoot an angel or something. She might, he had to admit it.

Castiel graced her with a long, somewhat examining look, but his face remained the same calm mask, which gave Bela creeps. Then he turned and his eyes traveled up and down Dean taking in the details, in the exactly same way hers did half a minute ago.

"You've got blood there," he said then, pointing to the bandage now marked with three red stripes of blood soaking through it with a nod.

"Gee, thanks!" Dean's voice was flat.

"We've got a problem."


To be continued…

Hopefully soon!

Now… another teaser: www. yourube. com /watch?v=UeLogqAtKQs *delete blank spaces*