Ficawesome Gift Exchange- 3some

Title: The Other Side

Written for: Saren Kol

Written By: Silverspoon

Rating: K

Summary/Prompt used: 1) Our pair get lost.

2) Our pair end up in a sticky situation.

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Epilogue

One year later…

The gas station was like a hundred others that Dean had found himself loitering in since the Winchesters had hit the road all those years ago. The refrigerator hummed just a little too loudly, whilst speakers intermittently spewed out retro pop tunes, and stacks of empty cardboard boxes formed inconvenient towers in the middle of aisles. The whole scene was vaguely comforting, and so Dean moved through the shelves a little slower than he really ought to, his fingertips brushing against merchandise he had no intention of buying. When his knuckles grazed an orange packet, Dean's lips curved into a smile, and he tossed the item into the basket along with a bottle of coke and a still mineral water. Several more impulse purchases later, and Dean wound his way through the packaging debris littering the aisles, and towards the cash register.

Barely glancing at Dean, the clerk scanned the basket of items, pausing only to raise an eyebrow at the surreal combination of a whole chocolate mud pie with a solitary fork, and a bag of carrot sticks. Dean simply continued to wait patiently, counting out dollar bills from his wallet as the cashier worked, and hardly caring about the extra, unnecessary seconds that elapsed. Time no longer seemed as important to Dean as it once had, and since the events of a year ago, he had begun to stroll through life at somewhat more of a leisurely pace. Dean shook his head as the images of Bobby sitting prone in a wheelchair crept unbidden into his memory, as they were sometimes inclined to do. With the maudlin thoughts successfully banished for another day, Dean settled the bill and collected his brown paper bag, which was brimming with snacks for the road ahead. He pushed out into the gas station parking lot and the afternoon sunshine gratefully, taking in a large gulp of air to compensate for the slightly stale atmosphere he had been breathing for the past quarter hour.

Catching sight of a familiar sleek, black hood, Dean headed towards the farthest pump, shifting the bag in his arms to prevent from dropping it. Sam was crouched down by the front wheel of the car, squinting as he kept a watchful eye on the needle of the tyre pressure testing machine as it jumped. Dean cleared his throat and rested the paper bag on the hood.

"They have everything?" Sam inquired, his tone only half interested as he shot glances between the machine and his brother. Dean only nodded before reaching into the bag and pulling out the pie along with the bag of candy he had snatched from the shelf. He tore into the packaging of the latter with his teeth, before setting to work on the pie. Sam only frowned, his intolerance for high sugar gas station foods evident in his expression.

"You about done there, Sammy?" Dean finally pressed, opening the door of the Impala and tossing the paper bag into the footwell of the front passenger seat. He added as an afterthought, "I got your water."

"Thanks," Sam replied, a surprised expression contorting his features even as he slipped his sunglasses over his eyes. He had half expected Dean to downright ignore his request, especially considering his older brother viewed actually paying for water as akin to one of the seven deadly sins. Although, Sam admonished, Dean had changed a great deal over the last year.

"They didn't have sparkling, so I got you that fresh-mountain-air pansy crap that you like instead," Dean added as an afterthought as he settled himself into the driving seat and began to toy with the cassette deck. Well, perhaps he hadn't changed that much, Sam thought wryly.

"Thanks," the younger Winchester reiterated, finally finishing up with the somewhat deflated tyre before he climbed into the passenger side. Several minor seat adjustments later, Dean was pulling out of the parking lot with the pie sitting in his lap, complete with plastic white fork standing erect in the centre.

"So, where does the open road take us next, Sammy-boy?" Dean asked in a fake jovial tone that boomed above the volume of Led Zeppelin. As a familiar guitar riff started up, heavy on the drum beat, Dean visibly squirmed in his seat and fast forwarded through the track with one finger pressed hard against the controls. Try as he may, he had been unable to listen to Black Dog for quite some time now given the unpleasant thoughts it provoked, and the painful reminder of what ifs contained in its lyrics. Releasing the button once he was satisfied that enough tape had been wound, Dean leaned back in his seat and began steering the car around the back of the gas station.

"Phoenix, Arizona," Sam stated, removing the newspaper from the side of the door and shaking it open, "five victims so far…"

"Wait, is this gonna end in coke chic teenage girls and tall haired vampires… cos we've been down this road before…" Dean teased, shooting Sam a faint smile, which the other hunter returned with a chuckle.

"More likely a woman in white, since our victims were all lured off a deserted highway to their deaths," Sam answered, adding with a snort, "sorry to disappoint."

"On the contrary, Sammy," Dean answered softly, "we're going right back to the beginning."

Sam shot his brother an odd look, watching as Dean gripped the steering wheel tighter, seemingly lost in his own thoughts for several moments.

"I guess," he finally murmured in reply. Then, with a smirk, Sam demanded, "Hey, aren't you forgetting something?"

Dean shot a glare over his shoulder at the backseat Sam occupied, his eyes narrowed as he regarded his brother.

"As if, Sam," he retorted, finally drawing the Impala level with the curb at the rear of the gas station, and throwing open the front passenger door just as a blonde head bobbed around the corner from where the bathrooms were located. Immediately, Dean's face lit up, and a genuine smile bloomed upon his lips as he watched Jo slide into the car at his side. He hardly cared that she slammed the door of his baby, as usual.

Jo turned her head, and her dazzling smile was for Dean only. Sam watched from the back seat, an amused smirk twitching across his lips as he witnessed the electricity pass between boyfriend and girlfriend. Jo leaned in and initiated a kiss that could almost be described as searing, and out of equal parts respect and discomfort, Sam glanced away. When he finally looked back, Jo was eyeing the pie balanced on Dean's lap with a confused expression.

"You bought pie?" she queried, slipping her sunglasses into the glove box for safe keeping. Sam knew that the only reason Dean did not object about their placement was because he got a kick out of seeing them alongside his stack of cassette tapes and rolls of breath-mints. It was just one of the many small female touches added to their lives over the last year that Dean seemed to relish in, and Sam could not blame him one bit.

"Of course," Dean replied, his tone growing warmer and softer in ways that were reserved only for Jo, "it's your birthday, isn't it?"

There was a moment of silence in which Jo beamed, and Dean leaned forwards in order to brush his lips against her forehead.

"Happy birthday, sweetheart," he murmured, drawing away with reluctance in his eyes.

Jo let out a giggle, lifting the foil clad pie from Dean's knees and holding it up at eye level to examine it. In the centre of the dessert, Dean had arranged bite size Reese's cups into a heart shape.

"I approve, Dean-o," Jo conceded, even as she worked the fork out from the middle of the pie. It came away clad in chocolate goo, and Jo slipped the prongs into her mouth with a delighted groan.

"So, where next?" she inquired, scooping up a mound of pie on the plastic fork and delivering it to Dean's mouth. Sam leaned back against the leather interior, taking a rare moment of quiet to enjoy the scene of domesticity as it played out before him.

The last year seemed both to have flown by, and yet somehow also moved at a snail's pace. Jo had managed to cross the Singer lot and grab a fistful of Castiel's trench coat just as they had been propelled from the collapsing dimension back to their own. When they had touched ground, it had become immediately apparent that both Dean and Jo were not the same; both somehow effected by the events that had occurred on a level that was not just strictly emotional. Dean had sat in the dirt holding his head and hollering as waves of fresh memories, memories that were not really his own, had crashed down upon him; meanwhile, the blonde had stood quietly, tears rolling down her cheeks as she was subjected to visions of the short life of the Joanna Beth Harvelle who had sacrificed herself in the fight with the devil.

The experience had lasted several moments that had seemed more like several agonising hours, and Sam had expected the fallout to be immense. Instead, when their confusion had subsided, the two hunters had flung themselves into each other's arms, and the barrier between dimensions had simply melted away.

Sometimes, Sam would catch Dean looking at Jo with the ghost of a memory in his eyes and the whisper of a smile upon his lips, and Sam was almost certain that his brother was remembering some scene lived out by his counterpart self. It was somewhat disconcerting, and Sam was no longer sure as to exactly who his brother was. However, of one thing, Sam was certain; Dean Winchester was finally, unequivocally happy, and nobody could begrudge the world weary hunter that.

Dean and Jo had fallen almost instantly into a relationship that seemed to walk some sort of middle ground between what they had been in the real dimension, and what they had managed to have in the fake one. There was no talk of marriage, four by fours, and picket fences in respectable neighbourhoods, but neither had the lingering looks of longing prevailed or the notion of the 'wrong place, wrong time'. They hunted still, because it was both in their nature and their blood, but instead of being the hopeless pursuit it once had been, it was simply a way to pass the time until they were ready for something more. Indeed, Sam knew that both Jo and Dean still wore their respective wedding rings on chains around their necks, perhaps waiting for the day when wearing them on their fingers again did not seem like such a big deal. Sam had no doubt that that day would come, bringing along with it a host of other things that few hunters had ever been lucky enough to enjoy.

Bruised, battered and bent out of shape, Dean Winchester and Jo Harvelle had been granted a second chance, even though all things in Heaven and Earth had conspired against them. Sam had to admire the poetry in that thought, and so as they drove off into another sunset, Zeppelin blasting from the stereo and Jo doling out generous forkfuls of 'birthday pie', Sam simply did just that.

The End

A. N. - A huge thank you to all who have stuck with this story from the beginning, and a second to all those who adopted it somewhere along the way. I couldn't leave you without your ending, now could I?!

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