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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Chapter Seven

Closing the door of the beat up Chevy Gemini had been one of the hardest things that Dean Winchester had done in all his thirty-one years. On the other side of the thin sheet of metal and glass stood Jo, arms wrapped around herself and eyes rather tellingly red rimmed as she watched the vehicle she had loaned the brothers ease out of the lot with Sam at the wheel.

Dean had kept a silent watch through the rear-view mirror until they had turned the corner at the bottom of the dirt road, and Singer's automobile yard had disappeared from view, along with Jo. Then, with a frown, Dean had sat back in the passenger seat, propped his feet up on the rattling dash, and proceeded to prod the old radio into life. Sam allowed the pantomime to continue for ten miles, until Dean's stony silence and the static crackle from the evidently dead stereo system finally became too much for him.

"Dude, you want me to turn around?" Sam demanded, eyes sliding sideways to his brother, whose shoulders visibly stiffened at the suggestion.

"Keep heading to Kansas," Dean barked, his tone leaving no room for negotiation. Sam tried again anyway.

"You should tell her, you know," he said, slapping Dean's hand away from the radio and turning it off once and for all.

"Tell her what?" Dean spat sullenly, relaxing back against the faded upholstery and crossing his arms with a scowl. Sam chuckled, shaking his head- an action which sent his shaggy bangs tumbling into his eyes.

"That you're in love with her," he observed, blowing his fringe from his face and peering at the road ahead with a level of feigned concentration. It was always easiest to avoid looking Dean directly in the eye during such exchanges, and Sam was not prepared to back down without a fight.

"That's the last thing that woman needs," Dean snarled, shooting a furious glare at Sam, who simply nodded.

"Maybe," he agreed, pausing a moment before adding softly, "maybe not. It's obvious she's hurting just as much as you are."

"Oh God, you're about to go all Hallmark on me, aren't you?" demanded Dean, clearly using his humour as a deflection tactic from his obvious discomfort with the subject matter.

"All I'm saying is… it seems crazy that you're both grieving for each other," Sam stated, his tone more matter of fact than Dean would have liked. Chuckling, Dean shook his head.

"That's the thing, though," he said, all the fight and stubborn resistance now having dissipated from his voice, "I can't be the guy she married, Sam… and she's not my Jo… not technically."

Sam swallowed hard, an audible gesture, before hazarding a glance in Dean's direction. His brother was staring intently at his own hands, his eyes roving his rough knuckles and the many fine silvery scars that marred his skin as he contemplated the reunion with the one woman he had truly thought he would never see again. The time, albeit brief, had momentarily restored a kind of peace to Dean's character that Sam didn't often see; and, now that the brothers had left Jo behind again, every word that Sam spoke seemed to poke the proverbial bear further. He knew it was more than coincidence- that Dean's sudden shift in mood was related to Jo and the things he had learned from her. Sam also knew that Dean had spent the majority of the previous hours contemplating just how different his life may have been had he only had the courage to tell Jo how he had felt before it had been too late for it to be more than a consolation to a dying woman.

"But that's just it, Dean," Sam replied after a pause, "she is Jo."

"Not really… not-" Dean began, his protestations falling on deaf ears as Sam contorted his own features and shook his head.

"No, just listen," he commanded, his tone authoritative. Dean obediently fell silent, holding up his hands to communicate his compliance.

"There's this theory that, if alternate realities exist, which I think we can pretty much confirm they do at this point… then each of our counterparts are connected by the one soul," Sam explained, his eyes ticking to Dean's face as the elder Winchester allowed the words to sink in. Slowly, a kind of hope was kindled within Dean's eyes, and Sam's heartbeat picked up just a little in response. It had been a very long time since he had seen that look on his brother's face, and he did not want to be the one responsible for dashing it.

"So what would that mean… in idiot terms?" barked Dean, rubbing his jaw absently with the palm of one hand as he squinted ahead into the distance through the windscreen.

"Well, it would mean that we would be fated to encounter the same relationships in each reality and, to a certain extent, our destinies would be similar."

"Our destinies…" Dean repeated, his expression belaying his confusion.

Sam nodded, explaining in a patient tone, "Things like… true callings, events important to history… soul mates."

"Wait, you're not saying…" Dean began, his features stretched taut in alarm by the very inference. Sam laughed softly, shaking his head as he watched his brother almost recoil against the car passenger door.

"Don't pretend, Dean, you're not that good at it," Sam chided, his grin still present as he returned his attention to the highway up ahead, "I can see how much you care about her, and the Dean from this reality must have known that there was something there to even consider settling down, let alone actually doing it."

"True that," Dean mumbled, blowing out a breath between puffed cheeks and raking one hand through his hair almost thoughtfully. "What do you think I should do?"

"Honestly… I have no idea," Sam answered, shrugging as Dean turned the full force of his glare upon his brother. "I just wanted you to have all the facts."

"Gee, thanks Sammy," Dean snarked, rolling his eyes and reaching out for the radio knobs once again. Before his fingers could fully connect with the button, Sam rested a restraining hand atop Dean's and affixed his brother with a serious look.

"But Dean, whatever you do, you better do it fast because sometime in the next day or two we're out of here and then…" Sam trailed off, his eyes momentarily downcast as he allowed the full weight of his words to bear down upon Dean. The older hunter shuddered involuntarily, his throat constricting and his stomach muscles clenching as he considered the thought of being plunged back into a world where a second chance for him no longer existed.

Nodding silently, Dean sat back in his seat to think.

x-x-x

Lawrence, Kansas

October 9th 2011

Sam heaved a sigh as he drove past the address that Jo had given them, only to discover a couple of police cars and a coroner's vehicle parked up. The neighbours formed a crowd around the Munroe house, huddled together to exchange whispered stories, whilst officers milled about the yard doing their best to keep the ghouls at bay.

"You think Hal's little piece of paradise turned sour?" Dean inquired, unclipping his safety belt as Sam made a u-turn at the end of the cul-de-sac and steered the car back towards the crime scene.

"Looks like it's a definite possibility," Sam replied, easing the car to a crawl before finally parking adjacent to the Munroe residence, which was a far cry in this world to the somewhat dilapidated bungalow they had visited in their own.

Dean peered up at the two storey yellow townhouse with its sprawling white washed porch and let out an appreciative whistle. He vaguely recalled walking by this part of town with his mother as a child, but his limited memories had hardly done justice to the area.

"You wait here, I'm gonna go check this out," Dean said, already half out of the passenger side door. Sam relaxed back against his seat, watching Dean through narrowed eyes as his brother approached the throng of residents, some of whom had ventured out in their silk dressing gowns and pyjamas.

Dean sidled up to an elderly woman clad in curlers who was watching the scene with keen interest, shooting her a smile as he seemingly accidentally bumped her with his elbow.

"Excuse me, ma'am," he declared, deliberately thickening his accent a little. His stare was calculating as the woman gave him the once over before consenting to flash him a smile.

"It's just awful, isn't it?" Dean continued, nodding towards the porch and the gloved officer dusting the door frame for fingerprints. The woman nodded, crossing her arms over her chest and peering up at Dean.

"Terrible," she agreed, her lips twisting into a grimace that illustrated her point, "poor Hal… just about the nicest guy you ever met. He helped so many people."

Dean continued to nod, making soothing and affirmative noises in the back of his throat as he rocked on the balls of his feet, simply waiting for the woman to continue.

"They think it was Ronnie," the woman pressed on, missing the smug smile that formed briefly upon Dean's lips. "I just don't understand. Jenny saw them only last Sunday at church and said what a fine couple they made."

"Do they know why?" Dean prodded, after a few more moments of silence had elapsed. The woman turned to him again, clearly eager to share her own limited knowledge.

"An affair," she hissed, leaning forwards although her tone was less than conspicuous.

"Affair?" Dean repeated, a little bewildered. He had expected something more in the realms of the supernatural, most definitely not the mundane marital issue he know found himself faced with.

"Uh huh," the woman stated, tapping the side of her nose, "Hal's own brother. Lived with them a few months back when he lost his job and fell on hard times. Moved out a little over a month ago. My guess is it all started back then."

"Poor guy," Dean replied, raising both eyebrows as he returned his attention to the porch and discreetly sidled away from his unwitting informant, who had become immersed in the latest titbit of gossip to pass her neighbour's lips.

Dean was back at the car in less than five paces, throwing himself into the passenger seat alongside Sam and securing his safety belt before his brother had had time to properly digest his presence.

"New plan, Sammy," Dean stated, gesturing ahead at the road, "pie time."

x-x-x

Dean poured a generous helping of cream onto the top of his wedge of apple pie and wasted little time in digging into the golden brown crust with his spoon. Sam watched, slurping at a mug of coffee that was hot enough to burn the skin from his lips. However, he found himself dominated by the inexplicable urge to occupy his hands, and the mug nestled within them just right.

Both brothers were decidedly nervous, and neither could put their fingers on exactly why they had come to be that way. Sam figured that Dean was lost in thoughts of Jo, but could not ascertain what was not sitting right with him. He had been the one to suggest the case in the first place and yet Sam now found himself filled with a sense of foreboding and even regret at ever having spotted the articles in the newspaper to begin with.

"Something about this isn't right," Sam stated not for the first time as Dean continued to heap pie into his open mouth. A smattering of crumbs flew from his mouth and landed on his chin as he let out a snort of disdain.

"Which part?" he demanded, mouth still crammed full, "the devoted wife murdering her husband, or the fact her husband wasn't actually her husband? How unlucky can one guy get?"

"Well, exactly," Sam said, shaking his head momentarily at the waitress who swooped down upon his mug as soon as he set it down on the table in front of himself. The woman nodded, popping her gum as she wandered off in search of another customer to tend to.

"I'm sorry, you were expecting this to make sense?" Dean checked, leaning towards Sam as he set down his spoon and reached for a napkin. He patted his lips clean and threw the cloth onto the table, glancing around to ensure their privacy before he continued.

"The best we can figure is the Hal from our dimension made some sort of deal with a crossroads demon," Dean hissed, "those things have a history of ending badly."

"I'm not an idiot, Dean," Sam barked, reaching for the sugar shaker and angrily flicking it over his mug. "But usually, a deal yields a better outcome than a few days of happiness and then a bloody death."

Dean shrugged, returning his attention to his pie.

"Maybe he was a crappy deal maker," Dean suggested, avoiding Sam's gaze as he realised how lame his explanation sounded even to his own ears.

"Dean, I know you're… preoccupied, at the moment…"

"Don't go there, dude," Dean warned, pausing only momentarily from his pie to shoot Sam a pointed look, which he acknowledged with a nod.

"Ok, I just think we should take a minute, come up with a new plan…"

"Already got one," Dean replied without missing a beat, shovelling the last piece of pie into his mouth and allowing his eyes to roll into the back of his head as he swallowed the deliciously warm and gooey cinnamon mess.

"Were you planning on consulting me any time soon?" Sam demanded, sitting back in the booth and affixing Dean with an unimpressed glare. Dean nodded, still refusing to look at Sam as he circled his index finger around the cream that remained in the centre of his plate, and then popped it into his mouth before sucking it clean.

Sam wrinkled his nose but ignored the display for the moment.

"We finish up here… by the way - excellent pie… then we grab a stack of newspapers, see if we can't check up on our other Pod People, and maybe pay a little visit to a crossroads for a one on one with our mystery red eyes."

Sam blinked in surprise at his brother, his lip curling slightly.

"Huh… that's actually not a lousy plan," Sam allowed, downing the rest of his coffee in one and coughing as he realised that he had perhaps been a little too liberal with the sugar shaker. Dean beamed, and folded his hands on the table top before him.

"Okay then," Dean enthused, his eyes gleaming with the promise of a kill, "let's go poke some holes in a demon."

x-x-x

Dean shook his head slowly as he peered up at the neon bar sign that read 'Randy's', and everything suddenly clicked into place.

The Lawrence newspaper had been choc-full of information for the two hunters, including the untimely death of 'family man' Ian Landings the previous day, whose corpse had been discovered floating in a neighbour's pool, inexplicably minus the right arm. Sam had managed to locate several other suspicious articles in assorted local press, and thus their decision to locate the nearest crossroads sooner rather than later was made. When they had eventually pulled onto the grass verge alongside it, Dean had not been at all surprised to find they were practically on the doorstep of the mysterious bar that had been frequented by Hal Munroe, whilst somehow not even existing in their own reality.

"Sammy, I think we skanked that cat bone for nothing," Dean stated, extending one arm and pointing towards the bar, from within which came the sound of stools being drawn across a hardwood floor.

"Of course!" Sam groaned, running both hands through his hair and making a frustrated noise deep in his throat. "We got so caught up in Jo and Bobby, we forgot what we were doing before all this started."

"Drink?" Dean inquired, already beginning to stroll towards the main entrance of the bar, his toes scuffing the dirt experimentally.

"It would be rude not to," Sam answered, his mouth setting into a grim line as he followed behind his brother, discreetly checking to ensure that Ruby's knife still remained in the holster he wore around his shoulder.

Dean pushed open the door, grimacing as the hinges gave a loud, shrieking protest, but he swept into the barroom with all his usual assuredness. Sam was less than a step behind, and he kept one hand concealed within his jacket, where Dean knew Ruby's knife to be positioned in a secret holster.

The olive skinned man who had been busy rearranging stools around the bar looked up with a welcoming smile as his eyes fell upon Dean and Sam, who peered around the room with every sense on red alert. Setting the stool he clutched upright on the floor, the man leaned against the bar and jammed one hand casually into the pockets of his black trousers.

"Randy, I presume?" said Dean, his fingers twitching almost nervously at his side.

The man's grin grew wider, and he surveyed the brothers with wolfish intent.

"Sam, Dean!" he crooned, his hands clapping together to punctuate each name. In the next instant, his eyes glowed a vicious shade of red, and he added in a soft purr, "Welcome."

Dean spun wildly around as the shutters slammed down over the windows, barring the remnants of the evening sunlight from the barroom, and the latch slid across the door, moved by an unseen hand.

The demon slid his fingers up and down the length of his black braces, and affixed the Winchester's with a mocking expression.

"Let's talk."