Less than a month until SPN comes back... We made it through the summer! Anyway, this story offers another take on the eternal question: is Ben Dean's son (in two parts, before & after hell). :) Hope you like.

They stand in her hallway and look at Ben, and she's torn because she sees Dean in a new light and wonders if maybe he should know.

''Seriously... I mean, you're a hundred percent sure that he's not mine, right?'' Dean asks straightforwardly, looking so expectant that she could swear he's actually hoping for a negative answer.

So she gives it, and he smiles.

''Why did you lie? Earlier, I mean.'' He's looking at her without any accusation in his eyes; there's just relief there that she can't begin to understand.

''I panicked. I'm sorry. I guess I was telling you what I thought you wanted to hear... But I get the feeling you're actually happy with the news.'' Unconsciously, she steps closer to him, waiting to hear what he's gonna say, waiting to see if Ben's future would take a totally unexpected turn. And her's.

Dean shrugs and looks down, studiously avoiding her eyes, and suddenly she's cold; inside, it feels like she's losing him, like he's letting go from afar.

''I am. Some stuff happened recently, and it made me think what I'm gonna leave behind when I'm gone. It made me think how I'm probably never gonna have kids, and now, here's Ben, and I'm glad.'' He finally meets her eyes and Lisa closes the short distance between them, stands on tiptoes and presses her lips against his. It's not a goodbye kiss and she finally allows herself to really feel everything she'd been burying for so long, thinking she'd never see his face again. His arms close around her waist and the magic isn't gone.

Right now, she doesn't want to think about the consequences, about the mechanics of what they seem to be doing, doesn't want to focus on his words and try to make heads or tails of them; right now, Lisa just wants to be close to him.

They finally pull away and Lisa realizes that Ben is standing behind her, intently watching them. She glances at Dean and doesn't have to ask him anything to know if he wants Ben to know or not.

''Ben, honey, come to the living room with us. I need to tell you something.''

Dean ends up sticking around for a month, sleeping next to her every night and making her remember what it was that made all the other guys over the years pale in comparison. She gets used to tiptoeing around Sam in the morning as she makes coffee and Ben's breakfast, smiling at the way his long legs hang off the couch.

When the school ends, Ben doesn't go to a summer camp and spends the time with Dean in the back yard, the two of them running around and playing all the sports they have the resources for. When she watches them, she gets the feeling Dean is doing all the things he never got to do when he was a kid. Sam joins them more often than not, but sometimes he disappears for hours and every time he gets back he does his best to hide his disappointment, but he's not a very good actor. Lisa wants to ask, but she senses that it has something to do with Dean and what he's not telling her. To be honest, she doesn't want to find out and break this bubble they've all been living in. It can't be that bad, can it?

Sometime mid July Dean gets a call from an old friend and the proverbial honeymoon is over. He and Sam pack the car and she gets a goodbye kiss, a whispered, ''I'll be back soon'', and then they're gone.

She stands on the porch with her hand on Ben's shoulder and watches the Impala turn the corner of their street, for the first time wondering if it was such a good idea telling Ben about Dean. He and Sam fight monsters for a living and no matter how good Dean says they are, judging by the way his back is covered with scars, it's still dangerous. She doesn't want to entertain the thought of losing him, and what it would do to Ben. He seems to be accepting the monster-fighting dad great, and the very idea of monsters way better than she is.

''Don't worry mom. They can take care of themselves'', Ben tells her, looking up at her and smiling a smile that's one hundred percent Dean. She straightens his hair and smiles back, but there's still a knot in her stomach, and she closes the door, doing her best to relax and keep the faith that everything will be okay.

It's not really working.

Dean is back less than a week later and they spend the rest of the summer together, and she manages to get rid of the bad feeling. It's impossible to be on guard when life seems so complete, so filled with laughter and joy, and, well, love. She used to say that she doesn't need a man to make her feel good, that Ben is everything she needs, but deep down inside, she had always wanted a partner, someone to share her life with, someone to keep her warm at night. She never really expected it to be Dean, but now that he's here, she can't believe how perfect it is.

Sam drops by a few times with the news about demon activity and she tries her best not to pay attention. It scares her and she'd give anything to make them lay down their guns and stop with the hunting, but she knows it won't happen, so she never brings it up.

Summer comes to an end and she's laying awake, tracing the lines on Dean's skin, silent witnesses of battles she doesn't ask him about. Werewolves, bogeymen and demons, Dean has seen it all, and he's got more scars than she can count to prove it. And yet, when she's close to him like this, she's unafraid. She believes in him, believes he'll keep them all safe. It's only when he goes away that she starts to worry, but not now, not when he's close enough to touch.

Next time he goes back on the road, he stays on it until the start of Ben's winter break. They have a sort of semi-formal Christmas dinner, and she meets Bobby, Ellen and Jo, the only people Dean and Sam seem to be close with except her and Ben. All of them do their best to be vague about what they do because her parents are there too, but Lisa is still on pins and needles all night. Ben, on the other hand, is in heaven, the center of attention and receiver of at least a dozen presents more than last Christmas.

When everybody finally clears out she breathes a sigh of relief because her first real family dinner wasn't a disaster and starts to pick up the plates and carry them to the sink. Dean sits at the table and watches her, his tie loose and crooked, looking more relaxed than she's ever seen him. She drops the last of the dishes in the sink and he pulls her in his lap, wrapping her hair around his hand and kissing her neck. She puts her arm around his shoulders and turns her head to kiss his forehead, realizing that there's no going back; she's never gonna be complete on her own again.

''Lisa, I need to-'' he starts, and her stomach drops, so she kisses him to shut him up. Ben is up in his room and they've got the rest of the house to themselves. Dean hikes up her skirt and she straddles him, and whatever he meant to tell her, it's forgotten for now.

When she wakes up next morning she's alone in their bed, Dean and Sam are back on the road and there's an empty CD case on the stereo, ''for Lisa'' written on it in Dean's bold handwriting. She presses play and listens.

...highway run into the midnight sun, wheels go round and round, you're on my mind...they say that the road ain't no place to start a family, right down the line it's been you and me...oh girl, you stand by me, I'm forever yours, faithfully...

Lisa smiles, but deep down, she knows this is just the calm before the storm.

Time passes, Dean comes and goes, and every time he does, he looks more worried than before, even if he does his best to hide it. When he's home, she often catches him looking at her so intently, like he's trying to commit her face to memory, so that he can see her every time he closes his eyes. She should recognize the look, because she's doing it too, watching him as he sleeps with the bedside lamp turned on, tracing her finger down his nose, trying to count his freckles, then his dark, thick eyelashes, wondering how did she ever manage to forget how beautiful he was.

Sam is an even worse actor than Dean, and it's close to Easter when she finds out that Dean's time is running out. He and Sam are in the living room and she's cooking dinner, Ben is on baseball practice and even though the two of them are speaking low, she still hears some of their conversation. When Sam says that they've still got a month to figure out how to save Dean, Lisa freezes in the kitchen and drops a pot, knowing that what he's saying is no exaggeration. What he's saying is that Dean is as mortal as the rest of them, and someone is trying to make sure he doesn't live to see the summer. She wants to be mad at him for not telling her, not explaining to her what it is that is after him, but she can't because she never wanted to know. She never wanted to think about losing him and now it's getting inevitable, now she can't do anything to help, and it hurts.

She goes to the living room and brings them a couple of beers, and the second she looks at Dean, he knows that she heard them and opens his mouth to talk, but she shakes her head and kisses him before going back to kitchen. Whatever he needs to say to her, it can wait until they're alone, because she doesn't want to fall apart in front of Sam, doesn't want to have to tell Ben what's wrong, why she can't stop crying. She focuses on cooking and goes through the rest of the day in a daze; they all eat dinner, watch some TV and then she helps Ben pick out the clothes for school tomorrow. He kisses her goodnight and gets into bed and she watches him for a while before she goes to take a shower. Sam is already asleep downstairs when she goes to wipe the dishes and check if the front door is locked. She pours herself a glass of water and then climbs up the stairs to their room, the glass shaking in her hand.

Dean is sitting against the headboard, fingers entwined on his stomach, hair still messed from the shower. She gets in bed and sits next to him, and for a while neither speaks.

''I need to tell you something'', Dean finally says, and something in his voice chills her to the bone.

''Okay'', she breathes, putting her hand in his.

''I didn't tell you sooner because there was a chance it wouldn't happen, but the time is running out and I don't think... You need to know.''

Lisa's got the weight of the whole world on top of her heart, and it almost physically hurts.

Dean takes a deep breath and says: ''On May 2nd, I'm gonna die.''

The silence is almost absolute and Lisa feels numb and angry and devastated at the same time.

''How can you know that?'' She finally asks, and her voice is harsher than she wants.

Dean starts to speak, but she cuts him off. ''There's gotta be something you can still do!''

''We've tried everything we could think of. Bobby did too.''

Dean puts his arm around her and pulls her against him. He's warm and so solid, and it's impossible to think he won't be here with her forever.

''This can't be happening'', she mutters to herself, wanting to scream and hit something.

''I'm sorry'', Dean says and kisses her temple. She closes her eyes and tears spill down her cheeks, and she turns her head to hide her face against his shoulder.

''I'm sorry'', Dean whispers in her ear, apologizing again, and she realizes he'd known all along that there wasn't any hope. For a split second she wishes that he'd never came back, but it's too late for that now. She loves him and she'd rather have him back for a year than not have him at all.

He stays with her and Ben for the rest of the month while Sam goes on hunts alone. She knows that Dean doesn't like the idea of Sam facing things that go bump in the dark by himself, but the fact is that somewhere along the way he stopped being the center of Dean's world. Time keeps ticking away, but she can't really imagine the deadline ever actually coming. She avoids to look at the calendar at all costs and it's like they're living in a vacuum, the outside world never touching them.

And then it's suddenly the end of April and Sam comes to pick Dean up. He seems excited and Lisa realizes he's still holding onto hope, even if Dean doesn't believe anything can save him now. Sam wants to go right away, but Dean convinces him that they can stay here for another night. It's so obvious that Sam doesn't believe they have the time for that, but for once, he doesn't argue.

Their last night together they stand in the doorway of Ben's room and watch him sleep, her head on Dean's shoulder, his arm so strong and sure around her. Ben still doesn't know, and it's only because Lisa still can't believe she'll lose him and Dean would do everything to keep his son happy and careless.

''If I don't come back, tell him I love him, okay?'' Dean says softly, and she closes her eyes against the tears. ''I love you too'', he adds, and it's typical of him to pick this moment to tell her.

''You'll be fine, but if... I'll tell him. And I love you too'', she says and tilts her head back. He kisses her and leads her toward their bedroom, and then there's no more time left.

She never tells him she's pregnant.

May 2nd comes and goes and he doesn't call her. She knows what it means but when she hears the rumble of the Impala next morning, she can't help to feel a surge of stupid hope that ends up crushed when she flies out of the house and sees Sam behind the wheel. Her legs are suddenly too weak to support her and she drops down where she's standing, leaving it to Sam to pick her up and take her back inside.

By the time Ben gets home from school she's more or less composed, but she breaks again as she tells him that Dean is dead. Ben looks at Sam like he's asking him for a confirmation and she doesn't have to do the same to know that he's crying too.

Before today, she'd never known real sorrow, and it feels like too much to handle. Ben crawls in her lap even though he's already too big for that, and she clings to him, gently rocking them, telling him that everything will be okay, but knowing that for her, it never would, not without Dean.