A/N: The latest SPN episode got me on the Mary Campbell-Winchester thinking (and, apparently, writing) trail. Namely, the kind of particular, platonic-but-just-a-tad-edgy, chemistry she seemed to have with Dean back through their first encounter in 'In The Beginning', season 4. Now, I'm not reading anything disturbing and/or oedipal into the implications (though, by Jupiter, both boys could be considered a case study for 'The Mother'-cum-Virgin-Mary ideation at times).

Just an attempt to catch a glimpse of what young Mary Campbell might have made out of that weird, albeit cute, dude - Dean Whatshisname - who'd stumbled in and out of her life all of a sudden.

Disclaimer: None of the characters, plot-points, inherent to the show, belong to me.

Kindred

Kinship it was, then. Since Mary didn't know him well enough to qualify the easy camaraderie they slipped into – well, having stopped swinging punches, that is – as friendship or trust. If anything, she took in her father's drills as to the former being hard earned at best; and the latter being a luxury, awarded to no one but family, otherwise – redundant.

She trusted John with her heart, of course, if not with her life – Mary was well off taking care of that herself. But John was so much more, than family. She knew John better than she knew herself, at times. Dean – she didn't know at all...

Yet, it somehow felt safe to be around him. Granted, she was about to pummel his wits out for stalking John and her. Still, it felt safe to rely on his judgment, as he barraged, albeit obnoxiously, amidst Dad's case.

Truth be told, she was fairly impressed, as he sprung up on the porch in that priest's get-up, if for no other reason than to picture Dad's indignant cringe. And it didn't happen often for a hunter to impress her, for hardly anyone surpassed the Campbells in skill or grip. She was raised to believe that. The black number looked better on Dean too, than it ever did on Dad. She had to give him that.

It felt safe to touch Dean. Not in any way beyond the limits of prudence she set up for herself and had every intention to stick to, of course. But it felt safe to cling to the solid presence that he was, if for a briefest of moments.

She knew the hunters. Heck, she wasn't blind! She knew the looks men, hunters or not, would give her in passing. The kind that would make her hand tickle, itching to ball in a fist and wipe the sly little predatory grin off. She was yet to detect one on Dean's face. Which was odd, given the truck-load of attitude the guy was sporting, otherwise. Felt weirdly comforting too, as she knew it wouldn't occur to Dean to wrong her. Not like John, sure enough, but more like a brother, if she had one, wouldn't.

So much so, it felt safe enough to let Dean in on her innermost secret, her deepest hopes and apprehensions. The ones she couldn't share with anyone. Not even John. It was queer to see Dean cry at her confession. There was no telling why exactly her words should've upset him so much, but the pang stung deep. It hurt to see him in so much pain, for whatever reason.

What he told her next… She all but panicked there for a moment. Not exactly at what Dean had to say – though his admonition confused and bothered her, at best – but more at the way how he put out to voice it. For a fleeting while it almost seemed he was about to profess love to her. Which would've definitely made Mary scoff in retrospect. Foremost, she didn't need that, in the least. She knew where her heart was, and that was with John Winchester. Till death them did part. Besides, Dean appeared sincere in his appraisal of John earlier on. Something she didn't get much around in her parents' house. Moreover, she wasn't exactly the starry-eyed type to believe in love at first sight and such. That had always been John's part. Mary Campbell had seen too much atrocity in her young years for gibberish like that. She made her choices now and made sure she adhered to them. No matter what.

Still, there was so much concern in Dean's inflection, so much raw, naked emotion behind the cryptic words, she couldn't quite place but couldn't help complying to. That was the first time an idea of a guardian angel crossed her mind. Dean spoke with such conviction of matters to transpire ten years from then, so genuine was worry for her safety, radiating off him in all but palpable vibes, Mary decided to indulge his teary plea and to avow not to leave her room that distant night. Ten years seemed like a lifetime away. She'd be safe and snug by John's side then, so much she was certain about. Yet Dean seemed so visibly relieved, but above all – grateful, as she uttered the simple promise, that alone was worth all the attending bizarredom.

As abruptly as he popped up, Dean vanished, but the rue, enshrouding him – she could see it now through the threadbare veil of cocky demeanor – lingered. Not exactly the kind to make her heart constrict, but the kind to leave a pensive languor behind. As if Mary'd just acquired a kindred spirit only to be left wondering if she had, in fact, imagined it all.

Through the blur of tears and horror she remembered Dean being there, watching, petrified himself, as she cradled John's still frame. Just like the first time she spotted him stalking, the sense of unmistakable presence registered more than the actual physical form. Given, he was gone, discerned into thin air, as soon as John gasped for breath again. Yet, through those moments of piercing agony, when she'd literally lost everyone she'd ever loved in the whole wide world, through the worst moments of her life, Dean was there with her, there for her. So much Mary was aware of. It didn't ease the searing pain, but it felt a morsel safer not to be completely alone.

As time passed, she'd wish for a second here and there John could make her feel equally secure.

Long after she stopped turning over her shoulder, wondering if he might be there still – lurking, guarding – Mary made up her mind were she ever to have a son, she'd name him 'Dean'. That it would be the male namesake of her late Mom helped too. But in any way, it felt comforting to believe someone would be watching over her child, the closest of kin she'd have then on. Through so much hurt and loss, and indecision, Mary Campbell-Winchester chose to believe in angels.