"Oh my God, this is freakin' amazing," Dean proclaims through the first bite of apple pie, eyes wide with surprise. He's had pie before, boy has he, but this is the real stuff, the kind of pie he always pictured was made in homes by mom's that were the picture of perfect and created all things from scratch.
"Why thank you," Lizzy responds while grinning proudly, placing a plate with another slice in front of each of Sam and Bobby while Lou starts pouring coffee for everyone.
The dinner the girls made was excellent. They did it right from top to bottom. Home-cooked meals have been practically nonexistent for the brothers since their Dad took the boys out on the road, unless of course one counts macaroni and cheese out of a blue box as a home-cooked meal. When their mother died, the little luxuries of a normal, domestic life disappeared along with her so this sit-down dinner makes Dean feel young again, like the virtuous child he once was, and it makes Sam feel like he's getting a glimpse into everything he never got to experience. They feel the warmth of a real home and the kindness of being taken care of while around Lizzy and Lou. Considering Dean had become the care provide for his brother when he was only a kid himself, having someone else look after him was quite comforting.
There the five sit in Bobby's old kitchen, forks moving furiously, before Bobby speaks up.
"Girls, I think I need to thank you," he says, lowering his fork for just a second. "The cleaning, the meal, the Lagavulin… it's been really nice having you around."
"Anytime, sensei!" Lizzy laughs as she takes another bite, letting the taste wash over her. It's not as good as she remembers as her mother didn't make it, but it's close. Close enough to remind her of the better times.
"Sensei?" Sam asks, swallowing down his last bite, and he gives Bobby a questioning look.
"Long story," the older man quickly brushes off and takes another bite. "Mm, you know… I haven't had pie like this since Karen…. Since Karen." He stops himself. Bobby isn't an emotional kind of guy but even so he still can get a little choked up when remembering his wife. She was a baker like no other. And she was kind, just like these two girls of his.
"From what you've told us of her pie making skills, I don't have shit on her, Bobby. But thank you anyways." Lizzy laughs a little, knowing how Bobby would brag about Karen's kitchen abilities.
Dean then realizes that through the hospitality these girls have shown them, they've brought each of the three men back to the better times in their lives. Times when comfort and security and happiness were normal and ever present. How did they do that? How are they still so connected to their past, or the good parts at least? He silently prays that hunting doesn't turn them into the hardened asses that Bobby, Sam, and he have become. It would be a true shame.
"Actually, I don't think I've had more than a handful of home-cooked anything in my life," Sam realizes as he finishes off his slice in record time, eating with Dean-speed.
"Really?" Lou looks surprised, forehead wrinkled with such depressing news.
"Really," Sam tells her. "Mom died before I was even one. I have no memories of her." He doesn't miss the absolutely crushed look on Lou's face. "But Dean always does what he can, though. Fills me in on the better things. Tells me about her."
"She was an awesome mom," Dean says very quietly, the table turning to look at him as he stabs at the last few bites of the apple pie on his plate. "The best."
Lizzy, sitting next to Dean, reaches under the table and grabs his hand when she can literally feels the pain radiating off of him with the memory of his mother. He looks over at her and she's giving him a kind, understanding look. He smiles lightly, the grin returned back to him, before continuing to eat his pie with his free hand, not letting go of Lizzy with the other.
"My mom was pretty good too," Lizzy tells him, able to talk more freely about her these days. "She was the strongest woman I've ever known."
"Which was good since mine was just a lovey-dovey hippie," Lou laughs a little.
"Yeah, they did make a good pair," Lizzy laughs right back. "One always having what the other lacked."
"Our parents were very close," Lou explains to the boys. "We lived next door to each other. It's like we had two sets of parents."
"Sounds… hard," Dean thinks, knowing that in his more formative years he wasn't always the easiest kid. Having two sets of parents? He's be grounded permanently.
"It wasn't that bad," Lizzy swears. "And we were trouble makers. We needed four people on our asses."
"And we turned out alright."
"Yeah we did," Lizzy nods and smile at her best friend.
After finishing dessert, the men volunteer to clean up while the girls go off to relax and get a movie going. Dean is on dish drying duty and as he's walking through the kitchen putting freshly cleaned plates and silverware away once Sam was done scrubbing them, he notices Lizzy running around grabbing things. First, she takes what's left of the open box of beers and walks outside with them. Then she comes back, grabs her IPod dock, some blankets, and Sam's sweatshirt that's draped over the back of a kitchen chair before heading outside again. Dean is officially curious.
Ten minutes later the kitchen is spotless. Lou tosses a bag of popcorn into the microwave and starts ushering the group into the living. Before Dean can make it through the doorway he's tugged back into the kitchen by a small hand grabbing his elbow.
"Go grab your coat and meet me outside," she says in a hushed voice. She gives him an excited look before heading out the side door of the house. His interest fully piqued now, he rushes to get his oversized leather jacket and puts it on as he heads out the door. Lizzy is waiting for him at the bottom of the steps with a big bundle in her arms. She's swimming in Sam's huge sweatshirt and has a knit hat on her head.
"You're on cooler duty. Follow me."
Dean picks up the cooler and follows Lizzy as she walks down a big aisle of stacked, rusted cars. They march across the dirt path, boots crunching on the gravel, until they come upon an old, tireless pickup truck on the edge of the property. The view of the darkening, dusk sky is wide and makes Dean feel small and insignificant yet in a really good way. Somehow the vastness gives him solace, makes him just like all the other schmucks roaming the planet.
"We're here," Lizzy proclaims, putting her bundle on the truck bed. Dean drops the cooler at his feet as Lizzy climbs aboard and begins spreading the two blankets across the metal truck bed. He helps her get the blankets in place then lifts the cooler onto the open back gate and hops on himself.
"All the times I've been to Bobby's I've never come out this way," Dean says as they sit next to each other, backs against the truck's cab. "Guess I should have."
"Definitely," Lizzy agrees, gazing up into the sky as the stars start popping into the deep blue. "It's beautiful back this way. And quiet. Kinda makes me feel like the last person on Earth."
Dean just smiles at the thought and joins her in looking upwards. The sky is dark and the stars dot it plentifully. The moon is nearly full so the light provided is perfectly enough see clearly.
"Lou and I found this clearing one of the times we came out to train four or five years back. We used it as our way of disappearing from Bobby."
"You hid from Bobby?" Dean questions, almost laughing at the idea.
"Dude, he was relentless sometimes."
"Really?" he wonders, not thinking of Bobby that way. Sure, he'd get in trouble when he was being a jackass kid sometimes but he was never relentless.
"Absolutely," she emphasizes. "Look, I know he wanted us fully prepared and all, and I can completely understand that… but sometimes he was too damn much, man."
He huffs a laugh. "I can't see it."
"He's not always a sweet guy hiding behind grumpiness and booze. Trust me, he's an ass kicker."
"Huh... well now I'm just curious."
"About?" she looks up at him by her side.
"How good you are," Dean says. "Might have to see you in action."
"You just call me up the next time you get in a jam out there, kiddo," she pats his knee jokingly. "I'll come and save you."
"Oh really?" Dean asks with doubt.
"Don't underestimate me by my looks," she says, knowing her thin five foot five inch frame isn't all that much. "I'm good."
"Ok," Dean nods with a grin and reaches into the cooler to retrieve a couple beers. He passes one to Lizzy before cracking open his own. Lizzy thanks him for the beer but puts hers down before opening it.
"Can you put on my classic rock playlist?" she requests of him and hands over her iPod from her denim pocket.
"Sure." Dean take sit and starts flipping through the index of playlists. He laughs a little out loud at what he sees.
"What?" she has to know.
"Your playlists. You have one for everything," he says to her. "Chores, Classic Rock is Awesome…."
"That's the one I want," she tells him but he keeps talking instead.
"Drinking Shoes… Can of Whoop Ass?"
"For when I'm training or working out," she absently explains, hand in her pocket to retrieve something else.
"Lowdown, Dirty Good Time," Dean reads and looks at her. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Sex is sometimes best with the perfect soundtrack." She grins with mischief.
"That mean I'll get to hear it later?"
"Keep playing your cards right and who knows," she shrugs but her delighted face gives her away.
"I'm totally gonna hear it later," he says to himself with certainty. He takes the iPod dock she had in her arms with the blankets and pops it in. He pushes play on the Classic Rock is Awesome playlist and puts the dock down on the cooler as 'Southern Man' fills the air. He skims down the list a little and likes what he sees. 'Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be,' 'Limelight',' Bad Company,' 'Let it Ride,' and 'Renegade.' He gives up after that as the list goes on for over a hundred songs. He's impressed yet again.
Looking back at Lizzy, he sees her sitting cross-legged and hunched over. Her hair blocks him from seeing what she's doing.
"What's going on down there?"
"Just preparing a little relaxation technique." Lizzy brings her hands to her mouth and licks the rolling paper she has pinched between her thumbs and forefingers. She seals it and twists the end closed. "You smoke at all?"
"Not nearly often enough," he quickly answers her.
"Yeah, me neither. I used to a good amount but now I don't get the chance to so much, being on the road all the time and working. Can't hunt stoned."
"I know. Lucky for me, a guy we helped about two months ago felt it necessary to thank us in a dime bag." She holds the joint up to her lips as Dean takes out his Zippo and lights the end for her. She inhales deeply before passing it to him. As she exhales, "Ahhh I miss that." She looks over and watches Dean take a puff. "It's good shit too. Shame that Lou hates the stuff. She gets insanely paranoid every time and just does weird shit. She completely ruins it for me every time and, since smoking alone is boring, I've been sitting on this bag for a while now."
"Glad I could help," Dean coughs out. It has been years since he's smoked anything at all.
"Easy, Hot Shot," Lizzy jabs while patting his chest. "It has been a while, huh?"
"Yeah," he chokes out and recovers quickly enough. "Hey, ah… what's with all this Hot Shot stuff? You've called me that a few times now."
"Seemed to fit," she brushes it off and smiles.
"You know, I never really thought of myself as a Hot Shot," he tells her, handing the joint back and watching her take a drag. "I like to think of myself more as hot shit." He emphasizes the last word and waits to see if Lizzy understands him.
She pauses and looks at him, exhaling smoke. "Hot shit, huh?"
"Oh, yeah," he smirks.
"Well, Mr. Hot Shit, did you happen to do a little spy work this afternoon?"
"Maybe," Dean says casually before plucking the joint from her and taking another drag.
"Great," is all Lizzy can say as she tucks her long bangs behind her right ear and fidgets a little. Dean's making her uncomfortable, but he doesn't care.
"It was quite the ego boost listening to you two talk," he keeps going, making her squirm a little. "You had the best night of your life and Lou pegged me as a kinky fuck the second she saw me."
"She's good at reading people."
"Guess so." He hands back the joint, eyeing her. "I have to ask, do you two always talk like that?"
"Of course we do," Lizzy returns easily. "That's the best part of having a sister. Boy talk." She takes another hit. "We always share everything, good and bad. Have since we were little." She pauses and looks at him. "And I don't think I said anything about having the best night of my life."
"Excuse me?" Dean asks and she plays it off, just looking away smugly. "Yes you did. That's exactly what you said."
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did."
"Nah. I just remember saying it was fun…"
"Ok, gonna play it like that, huh? Fine." Dean grins like a kid. He'll let her play it off but he knows what he heard.
"So," Lizzy begins as she puts out what little was left of the joint and snuggles into Dean's side, "Tell me a little more about Dean Winchester."
He puts his arm around her shoulder, tucking her into his side just right, and pulls one of the blankets over them. The warmth of each other makes the brisk night air more manageable. "What do you want to know?"
"Everything," she says obviously. "Where are you from? Why are you a hunter? What's your favorite song? Favorite color? Anything."
"Whoa, ok," Dean slows her down. "Some of those questions are kinda loaded there, L."
"Ok, let's start at the beginning then. Where did you live… before in your car that is?"
"Until I was four, in Kansas."
"You're a Midwestern boy," she awes, liking that thought. "Good ol' corn fed boy. I like that. Plus, I love the Wizard of Oz… and 'Carry on My Wayward Son' is one of my all-time favorite songs." Lizzy jokes with him. "Where in Kansas?"
"Lawrence. It's between Topeka and Kansas City."
"I know Lawrence," she nods. "Was there last year for a haunting in some old mill on the outskirts. Went to the Burger Stand like three times when we were there."
"The smoke burger," Dean says knowingly, his mouth practically watering at the thought.
"Yes! So fucking good, right!?"
"The best," Dean nods.
"You know your food stands."
"What hunter doesn't?"
"Very true," she laughs a little. "Ah, so you're a Chiefs fan?"
"Yeah. Haven't had much time to follow them lately though."
The way Dean sighs with disgust lets her know he's been crazy busy.
"Seriously, a fall season without being able to watch my Patriots kick ass is not a fall I want to experience," Lizzy tells him with certainty.
"The Pats?" he wonders with disappointment.
"Hell fucking yeah, the Pats."
"Eh, Tom Brady's a pretty boy," Dean makes fun and then instantly feels the pain in his arm. "Ow!" he yells at her while holding his shoulder. "Again?"
"Call my quarterback a pretty boy another time and it won't just be a punch in the arm," she warns with a pointed finger his way.
"Alright. Jesus," he gruffs out. "Strong for a chick."
"You know it," she says as she rubs Dean's arm where she punched him. It's her own silent apology, never actually wanting to hurt him. He shouldn't have insulted her guys. "So… back to you, why are you a hunter, if you don't mind me asking?"
Dean doesn't answer right away. He isn't sure he wants to get into that right now. And then he sees a way out. "Wait, isn't it my turn to ask something?" It's his diversion tactic.
She nods slowly, grabbing her beer and taking a sip. "Fair enough."
"Tell me what one of your tattoos mean," he finally asks. Last night she fell asleep before he did. As she slept he looked over the arm she had draped across his chest. He grew curious. "And don't tell me about an easy one, like a symbol I already know."
"Ok." She rolls up the sleeve of the giant sweatshirt and points to a date. September 30, 2003. "This is the date that my parents passed away. Three days after my own birthday. This will always be the day that Elizabeth died along with them. It was the day my entire life stopped being happy, hopeful, and blissfully ignorant… and changed into whatever the hell it is now." Her tone changes here. It's no longer fun and light. There's true and deep sadness in her and it's coming through her words.
"You didn't have to pick one that's so personal." Dean feels bad he asked her to divulge such information.
"No, it's fine. I chose that one on purpose. It's the most meaningful tat I have so it's ok." After a silent moment, Lizzy adds, "I just miss them still. I don't think that… hole will ever go away."
"It won't," Dean quickly confirms. He links his hand in hers, twining their fingers tightly when he can relate so well.
When he looks at her eyes she's already staring at him, a pleading that's silent in her face.
"I wish you could say it gets better," she says to him, let down.
"I wouldn't lie to you like that," he responds, not able to tell her she'll feel better one day if she won't actually.
Deep breath in and slowly let out, Lizzy blinks a few times and moves on. "So, it's my turn. Same question as before. What made you a hunter?"
No avoiding it now, Dean thinks to himself. But then again why bother hiding it away. It seems that she'll understand him well enough. "My mother died when I was very young."
"Four?" she guesses, remembering what he's already told her.
"Yeah," he nods slowly, sitting back into the truck, their shoulders pressed together and hands still tightly clasped. "I was four and Sam was just a baby. There was this… fire in our house. It started in my brother's room in the middle of the night. Dad grabbed Sam and handed him to me, telling me to run, go as fast as I can. So I did. I didn't even think twice, just did what he told me to do… to save Sam. I got us out while Dad ran back to save mom… but he couldn't."
"I'm sorry, Dean," Lizzy immediately says, her heart heavy for the sadness all over him. The second he mentioned his mother he reverted. He's just a little boy when he remembers her, going back to when he was young and looked to his mom for everything.
He just forces a quick smile at her that fades immediately.
"You were so young. You barely got to know her."
He hears sorrow and sympathy in her voice but it isn't pitying. It's shared. "No I didn't. But I do have some memories of her and that's more than Sammy has. That poor kid only knew Dad, me, and hunting. He's never had an ounce of stability in his life."
"So your family started hunting right after your mother died in a house fire?"
"Why?" she wonders. "I mean, house fires aren't exactly supernatural."
This was the part Dean was trying to avoid. It's too similar to her own story, it hits home too closely. But she asked and he already knows all about her history. Fair is fair.
"She was attacked before the fire started. A demon had… hurt her and then set the house on fire to cover its tracks." He leaves it at that. No need to share details and dig her into his mess.
With that, the idea that a demon came for his own mother much like one did hers, Lizzy looks out over the sky instead of at him. She can't. He's been through it too… but at a much younger age. She can't imagine that.
The moonlight is shining into her chestnut eyes, revealing the teardrops threatening to fall as her eyes swell. A cold autumn breeze blows and it makes her blink, causing her eyes to overflow.
She wipes at them immediately. "Sorry," she smiles falsely. "Why would it go after her?"
"That… we're not sure," Dean lies through his teeth. He doesn't want her to know about Sam. Hell, he doesn't even really know about Sam at this point. He's terrified of it all and she'll remain as far away from it all as possible.
"Oh, Dean," she whispers sadly, bringing her hand to Dean's cheek lovingly.
His eyes angle downward, away from her as he continues to speak while no longer able to witness the hurt she's feeling for him.
"That's why Sam didn't want to stay this weekend," he explains. "I know you guys were wondering what the hell we were talking about yesterday morning. We've been hunting the thing that killed mom… have been all our lives, actually. We'd been onto something for a little while there but lost track of it and now… now we have no leads. We're just sitting on our thumbs waiting for omens or something, anything to pop up and give us some direction."
Lizzy just lets him talk, getting the feeling that this opening up is a rarity for him. He's so hurt, so affected by everything he's seen that her heart absolutely breaks for him.
"Dad was on its trail for a while there and we've tried to pick up where he left off. After he died, it's been an obsession to find the bastard…."
"I would want its ass dead too," Lizzy confirms for him, fire in her voice for what it's done to his family.
"If it takes all I got, even if it kills me… I will end that mother fuck if it's the last thing I do." Dean doesn't miss the upset look she makes at that. He further explains. "Especially since… we think it was the same thing that got my mom that killed dad."
"The same thing?" Lizzy asks with shock.
"Yeah," Dean solemnly nods.
"But Mary died decades ago…."
"I know." His face stays stern and serious.
"You think…" she starts and shakes her head no. "The same demon that murdered your mother… you're saying it came back and took John too?"
"We're pretty sure."
"Jesus, Dean," she laments shakily, the tears fully flowing now. "What the fuck have you been through?" The pain she feels for his situation is too much.
And watching her get so effected, feel so strongly for his ordeal because she truly, honestly cares, makes him let go too. A tear of his own quietly makes its way down his cheek.
"Dean," Lizzy speaks softly. "I am so, so sorry."
She moves quickly to pull him into her and wrap him up in her arms. She can't believe what she's hearing. For years she couldn't picture a worse fate than her own. How wrong she was.
Yet Dean's still a good person. A very good person. He's remained a caring, funny, and still virtuous individual. How, she has no idea, but now she can see just how strong a man he is. And she can see just how absolutely beautiful a person her is, inside and out.
He's exceptional… if the word exceptional was good enough for him.
Facing him, Lizzy kisses his cheek, the tears left behind on her lips salty and warm. He deserves so much more and she hopes she can make sure that he understands that, starting now, he has one more person in his corner that can understand him and stand tall with him.
Dean presses his forehead against hers and closes his eyes. He lets the weight of the huge, unfair, and fucked-up world he lives in finally crush him. Sobbing is not something Dean does. He deals; he drinks, he fucks women, and he buries it all very deep, only allowing himself a very occasional outburst, like the one time relief of slamming a crowbar into the Impala a couple dozen times after his father died. He's never truly grieved the proper way, until now.
Lizzy pulls Dean into her hard when he truly lets go, his head finding the comfort of her neck and shoulder as her arms cocoon him in safety. He can feel the damp saltwater that's being soaked up into Sam's soft sweatshirt against his skin but he doesn't move. They stay like this for a long time, even after he's calmed down. It's secure here, like when he got hurt as a kid and his mother's hug was the only thing that made it better. Lizzy's hands run through his hair as she does her best to sooth away the agony of everything he's been through.
"Bobby told me he gave you the rundown of my own story," she speaks quietly to him when he's gathered himself a little more. "You know what happened to my parents. Dean, I can absolutely understand what you are going through."
She can feel him nod against her shoulder in understanding.
"You do whatever it takes to get that fucker," she says to him, the edge in her voice steel and sharp. "If you need our help, you just say the word. Just name it. Louie and I can understand this better than most. And if I knew that the thing that tore up my… if I knew it was still out there, I wouldn't be able to rest until that thing was six feet under."
Dean picks up his head from its place on her shoulder and looks at her, really looks. She means it. She would do anything to help him in this vengeance-filled crusade of his. He captures her lips with his own swiftly. The move is filled with sincerity and thanks. Having someone who understands him is new. He'd only told one other girl about the reality he lived in and she couldn't possibly have run away any faster. It always felt like no one could truly comprehend the things he's been through, the things he's seen, or the nightmare that he lives. But Lizzy… Lizzy can. She's been there. She hasn't seen the worst of it, how bad and evil it can get, but she shares the same hurt and burden and Dean is not getting the impression that Lizzy is about to flee.
"You ok?" Lizzy asks after pulling back from him for a moment. He nods a yes. "Good. Fuck, I really ruined our fun by asking some heavy questions, didn't I?" she laughs a little. "Sorry about that."
"It's fine," Dean dismisses and runs a hand down his face roughly. "I think my weeping like a little girl really helped kill any fun we had going anyways."
"Maybe," Lizzy chuckles. "Alright then, let's try this again."
"Alright," Dean agrees as she once more settles in close by his side, putting his arm around her shoulders. He pulls the blanket tightly over them both.
Dean's lips stretch into a grin as she lightens the mood and brings their conversation back to the more casual place they had found earlier. He reaches to her cheek and wipes away the black smudge of makeup that has run under her eye with the pad of his thumb.
"It's a tie between Led Zeppelin's 'Ramble On' and 'Traveling Riverside Blues.'"
They stayed out under the stars for a while longer, talking and discovering more about their eerily similar interests. The more Dean learned, the more he liked her. They smoked some more, drank some more, and enjoyed each other's company. Once the cold finally got to them, the two packed up and headed back to the house. They drop their things in the kitchen and immediately raid the refrigerator, hunger getting the best of them. Dean puts the one untouched pie on the table and grabs two more beers.
"Oh, almost forgot," Lizzy announces, jumping out of her chair and heading for the refrigerator door. She takes out the whipped cream she had forgotten about earlier. Shaking the can as she heads for Dean's plate first, she asked, "Want some?"
"Definitely… on second thought," Dean grabs the can out of Lizzy's hand and stands up, faking a yawn as he does. "I'm actually really tired. I think I am just going to hit the hay." He starts toward the stairs, whipped cream can still in hand. Glancing over his shoulder, he winks at Lizzy before starting his climb. He can hear the small yet quick footsteps follow him soon after. Dean tosses the can in the air, flipping it. He then catches it, then smiles to no one in particular before heading into his usual room.