This is the third story in my series.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Supernatural world. I am just playing in their sandbox.

"She's on her way there."

If he'd been mid-sip of his now cold coffee sitting in a mug on the worn motel table he'd have done one of those terrible movie spit takes with the shock. Instead, Dean's stomach immediately drops to his feet like a rock. "Bobby, what do you mean she's on her way here?" he asks with hesitation, cell phone pressed to his ear as his heart races. He prays it isn't true.

"I mean she's hightailing it to you right now."

"Why the hell would she be doing that!?" Dean starts to panic a bit as he sits back in his rickety chair and washes a hand down his face with frustration.

"She called me in a frenzy, wasn't making a whole lotta sense. Didn't sound too stable neither. She wouldn't tell me what's wrong not matter how many times I asked."

"That doesn't sound like her." Dean closes the laptop in front of him and squeezes his eyelids shut. He'll have to come back to the how-to-save-your-soul-from-a-hell-deal research at a later time. Not like he plans on finding some miraculous answer on a random website anyways. He's grasping at straws at this point.

"No it doesn't. All I could get outta her was that she needed to know where you were."

"She actually wants to see me?" Dean disbelieves.

"Well, I never said she wanted to see you," Bobby clarifies. "She just said she needed to."

"So you told L how to find us!?" Dean starts to get all kinds of freaked out by the news. "Damn it, Bobby!"

"Don't yell at me, boy! It was the only thing I could do," he explains with clear defeat. "Something is seriously wrong, Dean. Lizzy doesn't lose her cool like this. Ever." Bobby sighs heavily. "I think she was alone."

"Shit," Dean sits up a little taller with the unsettling news. "Lou wasn't with her?"

"Didn't sound like it."

"Damn it," Dean grumbles again, hunching his back. Lizzy and Lou were far more than hunting partners. They were practically sisters at this point. They were inseparable and the whole hunting community knew that.

"She's coming from Oklahoma City so expect her your way in about five hours, give or take. She's gonna be irrational at best if our conversation is any indication so tread lightly."

"Thanks for the heads up," Dean laments heavily. He's not ready for this. Even with five hours heads up he could never be ready to see her again. He just hoped to never see her again.

"Look, I know the clocks a-ticking for you, boy, and I know things between you and Liz ain't been too pleasant… but she needs you right now. I think that's pretty damn clear."

"Yeah, I hear ya," Dean assures, feeling like the shit just keeps piling on with no end.

"Do you?" Bobby checks, a little warning in his voice.

"I get it, alright?" Dean gets offended.

"Good. Call me back once she arrives and let me know what's going on. I'm worried about those two."

"I will, Bobby."

Dean snaps his cell phone shut and stares down at it in his hand as it rests in his lap. He can feel his heart racing.

It's been over a year since they'd last seen each other. A whole year. He refused to speak to her, see her… hell, he wouldn't even email. He couldn't. When he cut ties with her he made it complete and immediate. She didn't need his shit and he certainly wasn't willing to ever drag her down with him… especially not now that he has an expiration date.

"Hey," Sam greets as he comes through the motel room door abruptly and breaks Dean out of his rambling, nervous thoughts. Sam drops a take-out bag onto the table in front of Dean. "Burger, extra onions, loaded fries. And don't worry. I didn't forget the pie this time." Sam smiles at his brother. He'd forgotten Dean's dessert last week and he hasn't stopped hearing about it since. He definitely remembered it this time. Often Sam's found it easier to give in to his brother's smaller vices than to deal with his childish whining in the aftermath.

"Thanks, Sammy." Dean's downtrodden response concerns Sam immediately. His brother's eyes are set on the cell phone still in his hand and they remain there as he acknowledges him.

"Uh, okay…" Sam makes a face of concern as he slips his arms out of his jacket and drops it on the far bed. "Usually you're a little more… puppy-with-a-treat over food than that…."

"Yeah…" Dean's far away voice answers, still not looking up.

"Dean?" Sam gives up. "What's going on, man?"

"Bobby called a minute ago." He places his phone on the table and finally meets Sam's eyes. "Told me Lizzy's on her way here."

"Lizzy!?" Sam asks with pure shock. They haven't seen her in more than a year. Sam had always assumed that with the way Dean so poorly handled things between the two of them they'd seen the last of her.


"Why's Lizzy coming here?"

"Don't know. He told me she called him in a panic and demanded to know where we were. Said she'll be here in five hours, so… by three AM," Dean explains what he knows while checking his watch. He then rubs his eyes tiredly with the new realization that he's going to see Lizzy within hours.

"Um, okay…" Sam begins while slowly taking a seat on the edge of the bed nearest Dean. "What do you think this is all about?"

"She wouldn't say. Bobby just told me she sounded irrational at best and real panicky." Dean pauses before revealing the most disturbing detail. "He told me he thinks she's alone." It's even more terrifying to say it out loud than to just think it.

"What?" The worried, truly fear-filled word leaves his lips before he could stop it. Sam's eyes widen as he tries to process what this could mean. With his elbows propped on his knees, Sam leans down and runs his hands through his hair out of pure nerves. Lizzy was never alone, they both knew that. Lou was always with her. "Why the hell would she be alone?" Sam asks, despite being afraid to get the answer.

"Not sure I want to know," Dean quietly answers, eyes glued to his phone again. "She and Lou never leave each other's sides. Attached at the freakin' hip those two."

They sit in silence for some time while both let all the possible scenarios run through their minds. There's a solid ball of dread and terror growing larger by the second in Sam's chest now. Lizzy and Lou are so close. They've been best friends since childhood and are more like sisters than Dean and he are like brothers half the time. Lizzy would rather die than leave Lou's side so the idea of her traveling alone is more than daunting.

"You don't think something happened to Lou, do you?" Sam finally asks, desperate with all the unknowing. Neither wanted to say it out loud, but Sam finally asks the glaringly obvious question that had been hanging in the air. His face is long and riddled with worry as he looks over to Dean for an answer.

"No idea," Dean admits, leaning back in his chair and looking at the sheer concern on his little brother's face. "I mean, there's got to be something big going on to make Lizzy act crazy like this. Not like she'd ask for me unless it was an emergency. I mean, I highly doubt she's in any way wanting to see me right now."

"No shit," Sam agrees and lets out in a long sigh

"Sam, it might not be that. Maybe they got themselves into a situation they just really need our help with." Dean is trying to keep his little brother's mind open to other possibilities. They don't know anything for sure yet, even if it doesn't look too good. He begins trying to justify the situation for Sam's sake when he can see the fear all over him.

"They have called us in the past when they've gotten themselves cornered," Sam rationalizes. "Could just be they got too deep into something this time." Sam's willing to buy this explanation for now if for no other reason than his own sanity.

"Definitely. We shouldn't make ourselves crazy with this until Lizzy gets here and we know what's up for sure," Dean stands up from his chair and grabs his leather coat. "We have a few hours to kill before she's here. I'm gonna head out and make a run. I think we're gonna need something to take the edge off."

Sam just nods quietly to agree. For once, Dean was right about that. They needed alcohol. Both of them.

A good four glasses of whiskey into his current binge and Dean still doesn't feel any better, just foggier. Waiting for Lizzy to arrive is torturous. His mind hasn't given him a moment of rest since he got off the phone with Bobby and the anticipation is eating at him bit by bit with every minute that agonizingly passes.

One year has gone by since he left her side and so much horrible shit has happened in that time. Hell is just waiting patiently for him to arrive, a fact that haunts him every second of ever damn day, and he has enough on his plate. Adding telling Lizzy about his deal with a demon felt impossible on top of everything else. So he just didn't. And now… well, here they are. An estranged mess of fear and probably hatred on her end. He can only assume she hates him now. That leaves a terrible ache in his chest but that's the bed he made himself.

And now he finds himself absolutely unprepared to cope with the consequences of his actions concerning her. What can he possibly say to make things right? Can he ever make things right? Does he even want to make things right? Lizzy is going to want answers as to why he's been so distant and he doesn't know what to tell her. One thing he knows for sure is that he isn't going to divulge his deadline. No way. He couldn't handle the distress it would put her through and he already has Sam and Bobby disappointed and brokenhearted. Two people looking at him with pure disappointment are already more than he can deal with.

The only problem is… he misses her all the time. All the time. Cutting her off was the most difficult thing he's ever had to do. There wasn't a day that went by in which Lizzy hadn't found her way into his thoughts. Some nights he would lie in bed alone, close his eyes and try to remember her voice, the way she smelled, and the feel of her skin pressed against his. Nothing has been able to compare to that. Other girls came and went but they never filled that miserable void. He even went out of his way to go see Lisa right when he first made his deal, naively thinking a weekend in bed with her would help erase Lizzy at least a little. After seeing Lisa again, however, he knew it wouldn't work. Lisa wasn't the one he let get away like he had always thought beforehand. Now he knows the truth. Lizzy was the one who had gotten away… or the one he had forced away, really.

Dean snaps out of the deep train of thought he is immersed in when he hears the roar of what he recognizes as an old Mustang that has been very well taken care of. Beautiful sound, he thinks briefly before relaxes once more, hoping that his thoughts will ease up on him. They've been a tiring bombardment for hours.

After a few moments there are several rapid knocks at the door. Sam jerks his head around to Dean who has his own eyes fixed on the entrance, wide and fearful. It's only a little after two in the morning, a whole hour before they expected her.

Neither move at first, too terrified about what could possibly be dropped on them the second that door opens, but when the knocks become pounds Dean is set into motion and gets up off his bed.

Damn it, Dean! Open the fucking door!

Hearing her voice makes Dean move faster. The fear in it alarms him too much to not rush to her.

He unlatches the chain and turns the knob. Yanking the door open swiftly, Dean and Lizzy come face to face with each other for the first time in what seems like an eternity.

He's in full blown panic mode instantly when he takes in the sight standing before him. Her barely open left eye that is swollen and stained by a deep purple bruise is what he recognizes first. He was expecting bright, warm brown eyes. He can't even see the brown irises of one. Moving his eyes over the rest of her he observes the still bleeding deep gash across her chin, her disheveled and torn clothing, and the large amount of dried, deep crimson blood smearing her face, arms, everything, the way she's leaning slightly to the right… she's been pummeled.

Dean opens his mouth to ask her if she's okay, or to ask what happened, but she beats him to the punch.

"She's gone."

Inhaling sharply once, Dean doesn't know what to say after that. It's only two words said by the voice he hasn't heard in far too long but the words don't exactly make sense. And she says it matter-of-factly. It's devoid of emotion and therefore nothing like the Lizzy he knows.

"Lizzy, are you okay?" Dean decides to ask and reaches a hand out to her as he hears Sam get up and head to the doorway behind him. Her announcement doesn't fully register as he's still too focused on her deplorable state.

Lizzy inhales once before looking down at her feet. She doesn't move.

And then he can hear her erratic breathing. Dean places his hand on her shoulder tentatively. That's when she begins to shake. "Lizzy?"

"She's fucking gone," she cries out, back hunched as her knees start to give out. "Oh god. Dean, she's gone."

Dean quickly reaches out for her as she leans into him, stepping one foot forward. He puts his arms around her and she begins sobbing uncontrollably into his chest the second they make contact. She's weak and he can feel her weight being put more and more onto him as she falls deeper into her sorrow. He's never seen this vulnerable side of her and it frightens him to the bone.

"Sam," Dean looks to his brother for help but Sam is clearly lost in thought, tears threatening as he watches Lizzy weep. It's all become too real. "Sam!"

Sam breaks free of his thoughts and helps Dean get Lizzy to a bed. When they get her there Dean tries to put her down but her grip on him is unyielding so instead he takes a seat next to her. She clutches tightly to him, her hands circling his neck and gripping the collar of his flannel desperately. Her face is buried in the crook of his neck and he can feel her trembling as her body gives in to the loss. All he can do is sit there and hold her in his arms and hope it's enough to help. He pulls her legs across his lap and tugs her closer, chests flattening against one another until he's got her as tightly as he can. Without thinking, his hand hold the back of her head as she cries, his heart absolutely shattering for her the entire time.

Peering over her head, Dean catches Sam sitting shell-shocked into one of the kitchenette chairs in their motel room, watching the whole sad scene unfold. They lock eyes and read each other's minds. It is obvious now what had happened.

Sam shakes his head, not wanting to believe that they've lost yet another person. He stands, goes to the door in long, quick strides and leaves, shutting the door behind him with maybe too much force. He doesn't explain himself as his voice probably wouldn't work if he tried to use it anyways.

Dean doesn't blame him. Getting away sounded good right now as neither of them are very good within emotional situations. But he'd never leave Lizzy like this, not when she so clearly needs him even after the way he's treated her. Instead, he settles into the melancholy embrace and closes his eyes as she continues to grieve in his grip. He won't move for as long as she needs him. As much as he's tried to make it so, some things would never change. Lizzy's need for him is very clearly one of those things. And his need to be there for her surprisingly hasn't changed either.

It's brisk out now that the sun has gone down hours ago. During the day it gets comfortable in Texas mid-February but the night is still cold and Sam is already shivering as he starts to aimlessly walk. He has no planned route or set destination. All he knows is that getting out of that room was necessary. It was entirely too heavy and smothering to be in there.

Lou is dead. It feels like the thought is just running over and over again through his mind on a constant loop and it certainly doesn't feel real. He hadn't seen her very much in the past year but he'd kept in touch with her constantly, especially after that last hunt they shared. Barely a week went by without the two contacting each other and he had gotten used to sneaking calls to her when he couldn't sleep or when he would miraculously find some time to himself.

Letting Dean know that he'd kept up with Lou felt wrong so he'd never told him about it. Sure, Sam and Lou had something meaningful between them but it wasn't to the level of what Lizzy and Dean had. He was fully aware of what Dean was trying to do by cutting Lizzy out and he knew Dean would feel awkward and even more heartbroken knowing how often Sam heard from Lou… and now and then Lizzy herself. On many occasions Lizzy would take the phone from her friend when Sam would call, usually to make sure he and Dean were alive and well and, more likely than not, get an update on his brother. As of the past few months Lizzy finally stopped asking about Dean though. Sam had hope she was moving on.

Sam stumbles upon a small park during his aimless trip and sits on one of the old metal benches. The cool, smooth surface makes him shiver once more as he takes a seat. A jacket would have been smart but he wasn't thinking before he stormed out of the motel.

He spies the playground off to the right, noticing the cheerful colors and perfectly manicured landscaping. Sam recognizes just how fucked up it is that he finds himself in a place that is normally fun and happy for most people while he is feeling the exact opposite.

He and Lou were friends. Good friends, at this point. It was easy to talk to her and, thank God, she was nothing like Dean when it came to speaking. Lou may be a lot like Dean in most aspects but she had the ability to let Sam speak his mind. She was his outlet. The weekend he met Lou, he had divulged the still very fresh Madison nightmare to her and she had been unbelievably understanding and helpful. Since then, Lou listened to him when he was angry with his brother, when he wasn't able to help an innocent person, and when he spoke about Jessica. The only things he kept from her was Dean's date with damnation and his own demonic issues, though he'd almost spilled them a couple times out of sheer necessity.

And Sam had always listened to her, too. She and Lizzy had their share of problems, as would anyone who spent every single waking minute with one other person. Their issues paled in comparison to his brother and his of course, but he never complained or brushed her off. He always heard her out and gave his best advice. They ended up relying on each other more than either had ever planned on, especially considering he's still fairly sure that Lou's main goal when they'd first met was to make him more of a sex buddy than a friend. Mission accomplished, Lou. She somehow got him at ease enough to give in. And it was shockingly worth it.

But now that they were so much more than just fuck buddies… what does he do without her? It scares him. He doesn't want to be a person who bottles everything up in the unhealthiest way possible like his brother and father basically taught him to growing up but without Lou to open up to and with how bad everything around them has gotten, who can he go to?

A breeze rolls through and Sam gazes into the night sky. He lets the silent tears roll and makes no attempt to wipe them away. That familiar stab of loss, misery, and pain in his chest that he's felt so many times before is back again. How many times is he going to have to suffer through this in his lifetime?

He sits there for a long time, not really knowing what to do, and begins recalling the last time he actually saw Lou a few days after Christmas. She had called him to wish him a happy belated holiday and they discovered they were both in Michigan, less than a couple hours away from each other. It was just too coincidental so they took advantage. Sam snuck out that night once Dean was sufficiently passed out, Lou doing the same, and they met at a halfway point. It was so damn good to see her. They sat in the Impala hand in hand, listening to Christmas songs softly playing over the radio and catching up with each other. He'd never tell Dean what had eventually happened in the back seat of their car that night. The retaliation would be horrendous… but then again it would be well worth it. They had always worked well together, as Lou loved to constantly remind him, and that night proved her theory correct yet again. That time was different than the few others before it though. Lou left out her aggressive nature and instead of sheer fun there was something more, something meaningful between them. The deeper connection they'd built lent itself quite beautifully to the moment. They parted ways before dawn so that they could get back to their respective motels before Dean or Lizzy knew they were gone. It was their little secret.

Leaning down and covering his face with his hands, Sam sobs as the darkened night sky starts turning a light blue with the pending sun. Chalk it up to another casualty of the life they were brought up in. He wishes with all his might that he could have spared her. Lou was special, someone who cared about others with everything in her even if she hid that fact behind a tough, biting exterior and she actually figured out how to get through Sam's barriers. As the tears fall he wonders if he'll ever find that again and grows terrified that he won't.