Lisa threw her duffel bag to the ground and kicked it under the row of molded plastic seats as she sat down. "'Come to the conference, Lisa,'" she said under her breath, mimicking her friend's Minnesota twang. "'It'll be fun, Lisa! All expenses included! Free trip to New Orleans!' What the hell is wrong with me?" She buried her face in her hands; Heather was one of her oldest and dearest friends, they'd known each other since freshman year of high school - which meant she'd had almost fifteen years to learn to never trust the woman to make arrangements for anything more complicated than a grocery run. Lisa hadn't made it to a yoga conference since she was nineteen, once she had a baby to juggle along with school and work it had been one of the many things she no longer had time for, but she'd managed to convince her sister to babysit for a week while she took a vacation for the first time in ten years. And the road trip down had been fun, a nice replay of the summer after graduation where she and six of her friends had piled into one car and driven all the way to California. And the conference itself was smaller than she'd expected but far from the worst three days she'd ever spent.
The nights were another story. The "expenses included" wound up being a motel with no TV and linens that could best be described as crusty and the "free transportation" turned out to be bus tickets from a company she'd never heard of and even Google didn't seem to believe existed. She still jumped on the offer and left a day early, taking her chances with Mystery Bus Co. to avoid having to sleep in that room one more night. "I'm going to have to boil my clothes when I get home," she said, running one hand through her hair.
For a company she'd never heard of the waiting room was packed; she shifted over as man traveling with what looked like everything he owned sat next to her, taking the last seat in the row, and she overheard two more people muttering how buses were already sold out as they stormed toward the door. Considering the line of people still hoping to get tickets Lisa supposed she should count herself as lucky.
She looked up at the schedule screen; at least she only had about twenty minutes to kill. She finished flipping through the lonely courtesy edition of Time debating Dukakis' chances come November and slid it back into the rack, deciding that staring at the walls was probably a better use of her time. When someone began making a commotion at the ticket counter she was so thankful for the diversion she almost sent up a little prayer of thanks.
Lisa leaned over to better hear; shame over eavesdropping was for other times and places. "Sir, I can only say so many times: that line is sold out. You have to come back tomorrow."
"Tomorrow's too late." The woman was the same bored clerk she'd bought her ticket from but Lisa hadn't seen the man before, or at least she hadn't taken notice of him; he blended in with all the other dark suit wearing businessmen trying not to fall asleep before their bus was called. "I must get to Davenport, Iowa as soon as possible."
"And as I've said, as soon as possible means tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM. Now please buy something or get off the line-"
"The battle with Pestilence may already be raging, tomorrow's too late." People were starting to edge away now, the ones who weren't videoing everything on their phones. "I need to be there." He wasn't raising his voice exactly, as if he thought that if he kept repeating what he wanted the clerk would eventually come around, but the rasp in his voice kept dipping lower and rougher the more agitated he got. He raked one hand through his hair and Lisa caught sight of what could only be a hospital bracelet; she saw the clerk notice it too and take an almost imperceptible step back.
"Sir, I need you to calm down."
"I'll be calm once the walking avatar of filth and disease has been defeated." She felt a ripple go through the crowd, people whispering crazyto the person next to them; the clerk made eye contact with the security guy lounging by the door and Lisa saw him start to push his way through the crowd toward the ticket counter. The man being targeted by all the whispers didn't seem to be hearing them; Lisa saw his shoulders slump as he braced one hand against the ticket counter. The clerk jumped back but to Lisa he just suddenly looked so tired he could barely stand. "Please," he said, and Lisa didn't think she'd ever heard that kind of despair in someone's voice in her life. "My friends are in danger. I...I have to be there with them. Please."
Lisa looked down at her ticket; Iowa and Indiana were opposite directions but from what she could tell until that midpoint exchange the bus would travel on the same line.
Probably popular opinion was right and the guy was crazy; God knew she'd had her share of exciting encounters on public transportation over the years. She should mind her own business.
But at the same time, if she told people her son had once been replaced by a monstrous duplicate who'd almost sucked the life out of her people would think she was pretty crazy, too.
She stood up and pushed her way through the muttering crowd before she could talk herself out of what probably wasn't one of her better decisions. "There you are!" she said, grabbing him by one arm and plastering her brightest, most guileless smile across her face. "Didn't you get my text?" She made quick eye contact with him and hoping he'd be quick enough on the uptake to play along, ignoring that teenager part of her brain whispering, Wow, those are some blue eyes.
She couldn't have been more surprised at how quickly he caught on. "Lisa!" he said, those baby blues lighting up with delight and unmistakable recognition. "What are you doing here?"
Okay. She could work with that. "Remember? I said I would take care of the ticket?" His only answer was an uncomprehending blink but at least he didn't argue. She turned to the teller, forcing her smile broader and faker. "I'm sorry, our texts must have gotten crossed. He's a really nervous traveler."
The teller just nodded in a vague, just get him out of here way. Lisa was more than happy to oblige, half-pulling him through the crowd and keeping one nervous eye on the looming bouncer. The hipster kid who'd taken her vacated seat got up in a hurry when she used the Move it, buddyglare she'd spent over a decade perfecting on Ben and she wasted no time pushing her new friend onto the bench. "Okay, just as a tip, it makes people nervous when the words 'avatar of filth' come up."
He was still looking at her like she'd erupted out of the ground. "How did you know to be here?"
"I'm just trying to get home." She crouched in front of him, trying to carve out as much privacy as she could. "You're a Hunter, aren't you."
His head tilted to the hide like an inquisitive sparrow's. "Ah. Of course. I'd lost track of the date."
Which simultaneously didn't make sense and somehow confirmed she was right. "Here," she said, pressing the ticket into his hand. "If you are a hunter if sounds like you need this more than I do." His hand shook when he looked down and saw the ticket, to the point that she closed his fingers over the ticket so it wouldn't drop. "You'll have to make a different transfer at the exchange point for Iowa, but that should be -"
"I understand. I spent most of the trip here studying the map."
"Yeah, well, I've taken a lot of buses in my lifetime and I still have trouble making heads or tails of those maps, so make sure you double check."
He nodded, those eyes of his still very wide. "But how will you get home?"
Lisa shrugged. "I can wait 'til morning. Go take out the avatar of filth."
"You're always very kind to me."
Lisa ran her tongue over her lips. "Have...have we met? You knew my name." Her pre-Ben years were full of more hazy hookups than she really cared to admit sometimes but she liked to think she would have remembered this one.
His head tilted again, almost like he was hearing a half of the conversation she couldn't. "I know you through Dean."
Lisa felt her stomach drop like a stone at the sound of that name, even though at the back of her mind was the thought Of course. Of course it's about Dean."How much trouble is he in?"
"He and Sam intend to do battle against Pestilence in an attempt to prevent the Apocalypse." As if that made all the sense in the world.
"Then you definitely need this ticket more than I do." She swallowed hard around the sudden knot in her throat. "Keep him safe."
"That's my every intention." He tipped his chin up, an exhausted phantom smile playing around his lips. "Why did you seem so surprised to hear Dean's name?"
"I...it's not that I'm surprised he managed to find himself in the middle of the Apocalypse, it's just..." She let out a short breath, feeling heat spread over her cheeks. All these years later and Dean Winchester could still make her blush like a teenager. "I guess I'm surprised he talks about me," she admitted. Which was true; not only did he not seem the type, she knew that as many boys as she had in her rearview mirror Dean had more than his share of women loved and left.
"He dreams about you," her new friend said. Before she could properly process that he stood and cradled one hand against her jawline, staring at her with those amazing eyes. Lisa barely had time to think about how she'd always been such a sucker for a man with pretty eyes when he kissed her – and not just a kiss, a romance novel cover kiss, a bodies pressed together, lips parted, the ocean breeze in your hair and hear the music on the wind kiss. When he finally pulled back all she could do was stare for a few moments, a hazy part of her mind aware that she should be upset at someone she barely knew kissing her in a bus station while the rest of her just wanted to try for round two. "You told me to do that the next time I saw you."
"I did?" Which wasn't the most brilliant response, but Lisa really hoped she would have remembered saying that.
His expression clouded and he took a step back. "Wait. No, you said the next time you saw me. That's why this wouldn't count."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"It means I still owe you." He kissed her forehead. "Thank you."
Lisa heard a number called out over the garbled intercom. "I think that's your bus."
He nodded, stroking his thumb along the line of her jaw. "Thank you," he said again, seemingly at an absolute loss.
"Wait," she said, fishing a pair of nail scissors out of her purse. "Hospital bracelets make people almost as nervous as talking about the Apocalypse," she said, snipping the bracelet from his wrist and throwing it and the scissors back into her bag. "There. All set."
The last call sounded and he rushed off to catch the bus; Lisa watched until she made sure to see him safely crushed into a window seat then she sank back into the seat. She took out her wallet and pulled a row of pictures out of the back pocket, one of those photo booth strips from the night she and Dean had met. They were still the only pictures she had of him, her putting on her best glamor face and him making goofy faces until she finally broke down and joined him in the last shot. They'd had their first kiss in that booth, and she didn't know what stories Dean told but she'd most definitely kissed him first. She'd gone through a dozen wallets in the decade since but that row of pictures always managed to find a new home.
Lisa realized she'd never asked Blue Eyes his name. She carefully put the pictures away, fighting down the cold fear she knew would be with her until either she was handed some good news or the world ended.
She'd just have to ask Dean his name when she saw him again. Until she saw both of them.
After all, apparently she was owed a kiss and tall, dark and trenchcoated didn't seem like the breaking promises type.