A/N: Something that's been floating around in my head recently. Takes place in Season 4 between "On the Head of a Pin" where Dean tortures Alistair and "It's a Terrible Life" (one of my fav episodes, btw).

Dean wasn't sure if the girl next to him was asleep or only pretending to sleep in order to avoid the awkward goodbye that always follows a one night stand. He was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling of yet another motel room. Without shifting his body weight, he turned his head to glance at his partner. He had to smirk when he saw her hands folded up under her chin, princess style. Alcohol jumbled memories from the night before proved this princess had a vocabulary unfitting a lady of her position.

He always said Valentines Day was his favorite holiday and this year was no exception. He had spotted her at the bar and after they exchanged a few snarky, back handed compliments he had followed her back to her room for some fun, carefree sex between two unattached strangers. The girl (Mindy? Brandi? The twinge of guilt Dean felt was so quickly absorbed into the ever churning angst in his gut he hardly noticed) made a soft sleep noise and brushed an invisible strand of dark hair out of her face.

His smirk faded. Seeing her asleep, so innocent and vulnerable, changed his image of her. There was no sign of the caustic, jaded girl he met last night as she snored ever so slightly into her hotel pillow.

He should be leaving-he should be GONE-but here he was.

It wasn't any particular attachment to the girl... Maddy? Yeah, that sounded right, Maddy. Dean was a realist; being a Winchester had taught him that much. She was a nice enough girl, but he didn't stay so much to be with her than to be away from everything else. As long as he was here, he wasn't out THERE. His heartbeat and breathing quickened just at the thought of all that rested on him. Castiel's revelation that he was being set up to stop Lucifer was still too much to digest. When he came back, he felt like working with the angels was a chance for redemption for what he had done in Hell. Even after all the terrible things he had done there, someone upstairs still thought he was worth a second chance. But now he knew the truth. This wasn't redemption, it was a consequence for his weakness. By giving in he had broken the first seal, and now he had to clean up his own mess. Getting beaten physically and emotionally by Alistair again had just been a bonus.

It was only on early mornings like this one that he allowed himself to listen to the tiny voice in his head. Now that he thought of it, that voice sounded a little like Alistair.

You can't count on Sammy. You can't trust him.

You are ALONE.

It's too big.

You're not all here. You're not strong enough.

You're going to die bloody and the whole world will follow you.

It was the sting of tears in his eyes that pushed him to sit up and swing his legs over the side of the bed. He would NOT cry in the bed of a woman he was only 70% sure of her name. As he pulled his boxers on and reached for his jeans he felt warm fingers brush his right shoulder.

"She must have done a number on you."

He felt her trace the scythe with tow fingers as her breath raised goose bumps where he knew the reaper was inked into his skin-into his soul. He had gotten it to remind himself. "Trust your instincts Dean. There's no such thing as miracles."

When he didn't say anything he felt her sit up behind him and hesitantly lay her head on his other shoulder, her fingers still dancing over his tattoo. "She's beautiful," she murmured against his skin and he felt a chill run up and down his body.

What an innocently terrifying statement. Looking into the face of death, this girl saw beauty.

But then so had he.

If she was curious, she kept her questions to herself and simply held him from behind in the darkness. After a period of silence she said, "Is she the one you're running from?"

His immediate answer was yes; yes he was hiding here with a stranger from the death that had been chosen for him. Isn't that what we all do at the thought of the end? But then-he thought of her, his angel of death. He didn't have to look at his shoulder in a mirror to picture her face; eyes full of compassion, the tiny smile of hope (or hopelessness?) that had him walking into the light in that hospital all those years ago. With her quiet logic she had assured him, just like she assured that boy who died too soon.

"It's time to put the pain behind you."

Death was the end. Dean knew in his heart that when he died this time, and there was no scenario in which he wouldn't die, he would stay dead. He would have outlived his usefulness. Of course he hoped he would be able to hold out long enough to save as many people as he could, but one day soon he would look up and see her standing over him with that same smile and an outstretched hand.

He would take it. He would take it with a sigh of relief and he would be done.

"No." His voice sounded too loud in the dark room. "Not running away. Running to." She was quiet so he continued. "No matter what I do, where I go, she'll be the one who's there at the end."

"Hmm," she hummed and looked back to look at her again. "I think I get it. Don't fear the reaper."

A month ago she had said those same words to him in Cole Griffith's living room. "Deep down, you're all scared. Stop lying to yourself Dean." He had told Cole that it's OK to be scared, but you can't let that fear hold you back from what needs to be done. For Cole, that was moving on. For Dean...well he'd have to settle for killing as many evil sons of bitches as he could before Lucifer crushed him under his thumb.

He smirked half heartedly over his shoulder at Maddy's classic rock reference. Go figure he'd have a mental breakthrough after a one night stand in a cheap motel. She was grinning back at him but there must have been something in his eyes that made her face turn solemn. She leaned in and kissed him softly, as if she understood and wanted to assure him. Slowly they tumbled back onto the bed, making love very differently than they had the night before. At one point Dean was sure he accidentally called out "Tessa!" but Maddy simply stroked his face and kissed him sweetly.

I'm not artistic at all or I would have drawn a picture of the tattoo, but I imagine it to be Tessa's face with the reaper cloak billowing around her and a scythe over her shoulder. If anyone wants to attempt it that would be awesome! I'd love to see your interpretation! Thanks for reading!