AN: Happy Wednesday, everybody! I thought I'd celebrate Supernatural's return (yay! Charlie!) with a new chapter! I don't have a rambling speech prepared for this chapter, so all I'm going to say is that I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters you recognize nor any of the songs, poems, or book excerpts featured in this story.


the fire, of course, is you

Written by Becks Rylynn

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Chapter Two

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''the king of all wild things was lonely

and wanted to be where someone

loved him best of all.''

- maurice sendak; where the wild things are

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The bakery is hopping when he gets there. What looks like some kind of tour group has invaded the small eatery and the place is chaos, a busload of middle aged people milling around aimlessly, calling out for more coffee, wanting to know about the pie selection, asking if they have anything vegan... The line is nearly out the door and Victoria is swamped behind the counter with only two other people helping her out, one behind the counter, one in the middle of it all with a coffee pot. It's perfect. He thinks he could actually avoid being maimed by Victoria. Dean easily slips into the bakery without drawing attention to himself and manages to sequester a secluded table in the back, ducking his head and hiding behind the flower arrangement for good measure.

Yes, he is perfectly aware that this may be something of a long shot but he has to try. He doesn't have a plan per se, but he figures at least one of the women he is trying to locate might show up at some point. Either that or he's going to have to buck the fuck up and face Victoria again, which is something he'd like to avoid for as long as possible because she's much scarier than she was in the past. He knows it's a bad idea. He knows nothing good can come from this. He knows that. But he has to at least try.

All he wants to know is that they're okay. He needs to know if they're okay. It's a little funny if you think about it. Even bordering on pathetic. He has managed to avoid a situation exactly like this one for years, steering clear of Highland Park and delving into all kinds of substance abuse to forget. And then some crazy vampires decide to start massacring high school bullies and he breaks like a fucking brittle bone within the first day.

He sits hidden away in the back for five minutes, slouched down in his chair, eyes darting around anxiously as the people begin to filter out and the crowd starts to thin. He's in the middle of rearranging the flowers in an attempt to create a better hiding place when someone approaches him and the unmistakable sound of someone chomping on gum meets his ears. He barely risks a glance, offering Make Out Girl from earlier a terse frown before switching his gaze back to the front. ''What can I get for - ''

''Nothing for me'' he interrupts shortly. ''Thanks.''

The girl heaves a truly teenage sounding sigh. ''Yeah,'' she drawls. ''Listen, dude, you gotta order something. It's store policy. If you're not a paying customer, then you can GTFO.''

Dean sends the young teenybopper an impatient glare. ''Shouldn't you be in school?''

''Nope,'' she crows, grin breaking out on her lips. ''No school today. Teacher's meeting.''

He shakes his head. ''I never understood those,'' he says, and then panics when he realizes he's lost sight of Victoria. There is a short, tense silence before Victoria emerges from the back and he lets out a breath.

The girl, still waiting for his order with thin lips and narrowed eyes, looks like she's about twenty seconds away from sticking her pencil in his eye. ''But seriously, Surly Guy, you gonna order or what?''

''Coffee,'' he bites out. ''Black.''

''That's shocking.'' He snaps his head around to face her, but she's already turned away. ''Be right back!'' She calls over her shoulder with a bright cheery smile. She disappears into the throngs of people and Dean goes back to what he was doing before. He glances at his watch. Half past two. Still no familiar faces. Seconds before he has a change of heart and runs, the waitress pops back up out of nowhere, coffee pot in hand. ''Here you go,'' she says cheerfully, filling up a much too large mug. ''One plain black coffee, as boring and bitter as you are.''

He rolls his eyes. ''Thanks, Mary-Kate. Now run along and go find Ashley.''

The waitress steps back, pulling a face. ''The Olsen twins? How old are you?''

He glowers at her, but doesn't offer a retort.

She still doesn't go away. She blows a bubble with her gum and pops it at an aggravating volume, one hand on her hip. ''Is that your car?'' She asks, nodding towards the window where the sleek exterior of the Impala is visible.

Dean takes in a breath and decides to forget about trying to get Hannah Montana away from him. ''Yes. Why?''

She shrugs. ''No reason.'' Her cheeks color. ''She's a beauty. That's all.''

His eyebrows shoot up in surprise. ''Oh. ...Thanks.''

''What? Not used to getting compliments on the car?''

''Not from girls your age.''

''Eh, well,'' she chuckles. ''Congrats. I popped your compliment cherry.''

Dean blinks at her. ''And on that disturbing and inappropriate note...''

''What are you doing anyway?'' She questions bluntly, staring down at him like he's the newest Jackass cast member.

''Excuse me?''

''Well, you're either having a really twisted love affair with those daffodils. Or you're hiding in plain sight. Oh,'' she scrunches up her nose in disgust. ''You're not, like, pleasuring yourself under the table, are you?''

He gives her a flat look. ''Both of my hands are on top of the table, Disney Channel.''

''Well, I don't know,'' she snaps defensively. ''I'm fairly confident you're not here for the apple pie, so...''

''Hey, I love pie,'' he argues.

''Great. Can I get you a slice?''

He gives up. ''Sure.''

She nods, but still doesn't leave, bouncing on the balls of her feet. ''Hey,'' her eyes light up. ''If I bring you an extra large slice, will you tell me why you're playing hide and seek in my place of business?''

''It's a long story, kid,'' he sighs.

She scoffs. ''People always say that,'' she huffs.

''Well, they're usually right.''

''Honestly,'' she rolls her eyes. ''Adults are so - ''

''No offense,'' he cuts in before she can say another word. ''But this ain't Glee, princess. We're not gonna sing and dance our feelings out. And I'm not going to tell my whole life story to Dakota Fanning, all right?''

She clenches her teeth and harrumphs, sticking her nose up in the air. ''Whatever,'' she sniffs. ''Like I even have time to listen to some Sons of Anarchy reject. I'll be back in a minute with your pie and then I have to get back to being a productive member of society. My grandmother is totally in the weeds.''

Oh. OH. Oh, shit.

The hot coffee Dean had been sipping on sloshes over the rim when his body jerks, splashing onto the table and down the front of his shirt. He lets loose a string of profanity when the coffee burns at him and wipes at the hot liquid dripping down his chin. It honestly takes him a moment to react. Grandmother. Her grandmother. Oh, god. He looks up at the girl and can't catch his breath. It's her. Jesus Christ, it's her. He found her. ''Wait,'' he staggers to his feet and shoots a hand out blindly, grasping her arm.

She gasps, startled at the contact, and whips back around to face him warily.

The moment her eyes lock with his, there is a shockingly painful jolt, just like when he saw her outside, and a gnawing in his gut. His throat aches so badly he can't breathe. ''Your grandmother? Victoria Daniels is your grandmother?'' He whispers, hoping his voice doesn't tremble the way he thinks it does.

She frowns at the tightness in his voice and effortlessly shrugs out of his loose grasp. ''Yeah. Why? You know her?''

He can't even formulate words right now. How did he not notice it before? He should have recognized her. She looks like her mother. The blond hair, the eyes - those eyes - the way she holds herself... It's all her. It's all her. But that smile. Tentative and sweet, mischievous and mocking, with just a little bit of sadness hidden away in the edges, all the way up to her eyes. That is a Winchester smile. This is her. This is his daughter. This is his girl. She's gorgeous. She's perfect. ''Oh my god,'' he rasps.

''What?'' She squirms uncomfortably, probably a little unnerved with the way he's looking at her. ''Are you okay?''

He laughs but it doesn't really sound like a laugh. ''I don't know,'' he croaks out. He can't stop staring at her. He doesn't think he has ever felt anything like this before. His throat hurts, his eyes are stinging and his chest is tight. He's in agony, actually. But it's such a beautiful kind of agony. In his head, he's going through the entire day. Earlier, when she was making out with her boyfriend outside, she was his daughter. When she poured him coffee, she was his daughter. When she complimented his car, called him old, tried to talk to him. The whole time, she was his daughter and he never even knew it. ''You're so beautiful,'' he blurts out without thinking.

Her eyes widen and she looks around, looking positively mortified. ''Uh...'' She lets out a nervous laugh. ''...Is this going to be a stranger danger kind of thing? 'Cause we're in a room full of people, and I have a rape whistle.''

''No,'' he denies vehemently, shuddering at the thought. ''God, no. I'm sorry, you look just like - '' He smiles weakly. ''You look just like your mom.''

''My mom?'' She perks up. ''You know my mom?''

''Yeah,'' he nods. ''We... We, uh... We went to high school together. For awhile.''

All of a sudden, she gets this odd look on her face and takes a step back, away from him. Her lips part in shock and a bolt of recognition flashes in her eyes. ''High school,'' she breathes. ''Wait.'' She doesn't look so hard edged and jaded anymore. She's not popping her gum obnoxiously, or subtly insulting him. She looks so young. Vulnerable. The look on her face is like looking in a mirror. ''What did you say your name was again?'' She whispers shakily.

He doesn't plan on answering her. Figures she doesn't need to know. But he stands there a minute longer than he should and the look in her eyes, the desperate need for the truth, wears him down. In hindsight, if she's got him wrapped around her finger already, he's probably in a lot of trouble. He opens his mouth to speak, not totally sure what he's going to say, but he never gets the chance to say anything.

A dainty hand clamps around his wrist and in a flurry of dark hair and what he can only assume is a plethora of Spanish curse words, Victoria latches onto him and drags him away from her granddaughter and out of the bakery. She pulls him out into the crisp air and shoves him away from her with enough strength to send him stumbling back. She's saying a lot of things, hands waving, face red with anger, voice shrill and full of rage. Except none of the things she's spitting at him are in English. He thinks this must make for quite the comical sight. She looks about ready to hit him over the head with a shovel.

''Victoria,'' he cuts in. ''Victoria, I don't know what you're - English, please!''

''What were you thinking?'' She hisses at him. ''I told you to stay away. I warned you,'' she says, waving her arms dramatically. ''You had no right to talk to my granddaughter! No right!''

A wave of irrational anger swells in his gut and he can't push it away. ''She's my daughter,'' he growls.

''Except she's not your daughter!'' Victoria throws back at him. ''You gave her up, Dean. You walked away!''

''You think I don't know that? Believe me, I know what I did, Victoria - ''

''That's Mrs. Daniels to you.''

His shoulders slump in defeat and he gulps for air. His eyes stray to the windows of the bakery where their display is in full view of the customers inside. He feels a flash of panic and glances at the faces staring out at them, terrified that his daughter has heard this mess. Thankfully, she is nowhere in sight. The rest of the patrons, however, are glued to the spectacle like it's must see TV. ''I just wanted to see her,'' he tries to explain. ''I needed to see her. To know what she looks like. If she's okay. I never meant to talk to her. I had no idea she was...'' He shakes his head. ''I'm sorry.'' A whoosh of air leaves his body and he feels exhausted. ''I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come.''

Victoria releases a breath and her tense body relaxes. For a second, he thinks she may actually be softening towards him. There's a look of something that almost looks like understanding passing through her eyes. But then she plasters on a truly ferocious looking glare, stomps forwards and pokes at his chest with a bony finger. ''You need to leave,'' she orders. ''Right now, Dean. Before I call my husband.''

He decides those are the magic words.

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Dean slinks back into the motel room quietly, with his head down, like a dog covered in his own shit.

Sam, sitting on the edge of one of the squeaky beds, stands and lets his hands fall to his hips, patented bitchface pointed right at Dean. ''Oh, heeey there, dear brother of mine,'' he snarks. ''Thanks for letting me know where you were going, that was real considerate of you.''

''Not now, Sam.''

''You can't just drop a bomb like that on me and run away,'' Sam goes on.

''Sam - ''

''I mean, you tell me you have a fifteen year old daughter and then you just leave?'' He rants. ''And what am I even supposed to do with this information? Am I not supposed to talk about? Can we talk about it? What's her name? Why didn't you ever tell me? How could you not tell me?''

''Sam,'' Dean peels off his jacket and sits down on the bed. ''I said not now.''

''Well, stop fucking saying that!'' Sam yells, throwing his hands out. ''Look, I'm sorry to bombard you with questions, but you can't expect me to ignore everything you've told me. You have a kid, Dean. A kid. I have so many questions.'' He pauses suddenly and his back stiffens, body language shifting instantly from uncontrolled anger to carefully concerned. His lips purse. ''Um, Dean? Quick question: Why do you look like you're about to cry?''

Dean scowls in offense and blinks rapidly. He digs the palms of his hands into his eyes for good measure. ''M'not gonna cry, asshat. Shut your fucking mouth.''

Sam shifts from foot to foot, as if he's trying to stop himself from taking a step towards him. ''...Dean, are you - ''

''I saw her.'' Dean stands abruptly and begins to pace absentmindedly. He can't sit still. When he sits still, he thinks. He cannot afford to think right now.

''Her?'' Sam repeats. ''Her who?''

Dean looks at him.

''Oh.'' Sam's eyes widen. ''Her. As in - ''

''My daughter.''

''Right.'' There is a long and awkward silence and then Sam asks quietly, hesitantly, ''What does she look like?''

Somehow, Dean conjures a bittersweet smile onto his lips. ''Her mother. She looks like her mother.'' He turns around to face Sam, failing in his attempts to not look overly and embarrassingly emotional. ''She's gorgeous.'' He clears his throat. ''She almost reminds me of Mom.''

''Dean,'' Sam takes another step closer.

The pitying tone in his brother's voice snaps him right out of it and he shakes his head. No, no, no. This can't happen. He left for a reason and he stayed away for an even bigger reason. He can't ruin that. He can't know her. He'll get her killed. He'll get them both killed. ''No.'' He runs a hand through his hair for the millionth time and stalks over to the table. ''I can't do this, Sam,'' he snaps. ''Okay? I can't talk about her. Can we just please focus on the case?''

Sam starts to protest, says ''Dean'' in a quietly pleading tone of voice, but when he catches sight of the desperation in Dean's eyes, he stops short and offers a short nod. ''Sure. Uh, so... Vampires.''

Dean nods readily. ''Yep. Vampires. Got a plan?''

''Well,'' Sam hesitates briefly. ''I was going to go and talk to the victims' parents. I was thinking that the friends of these kids might be new targets.''

''Right.'' Dean nods again, slightly less enthusiastically this time and a tad more robotic. ''Good.''

He's staring down at the picture of Stephanie Beasley again.

And apparently Sam can't help himself. ''Is there something you're not telling me?'' He presses. ''I know you said that you told me everything, but I don't know. I can't help but feel there's a little more to the - ''

''Lila Bray.''

Sam arches an eyebrow. ''Sorry?''

Dean looks up. ''That's her name,'' he says wryly. ''Lila Bray.''

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April, 1996

Dean hesitates before he brings a fist up to knock on the door. He can't help it. He really doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want any of this. Why couldn't they just keep going? Why did they have to stop here in Highland Park? Why couldn't they have just gone to Trenton like they had originally planned? More importantly, why did they have to stay so long? They've never stayed this long before. What the fuck makes this place so special?

The door opens and he is face to face with his ashen girlfriend, the dark bags under her eyes only serving to make her look even paler. ''Hey,'' she smiles at him, but it's more of a grimace, half hearted and almost pained.

''Hi,'' he greets softly, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his father's old leather jacket. He nods towards the inside of the warmly lit house. ''Your parents' home?''

She shakes her head and pulls her sweater around her body. ''Just my sister.''

Oh, great. Even worse.

He sucks in a breath and reaches out to grasp her hand. ''Come outside with me,'' he murmurs. ''I need to talk to you.'' She lets him pull her out onto the porch, shutting the door behind her. He is aware that his body language is closed off; cautious and unsure, and he knows it's only a matter of time before she asks him what's wrong. ''So,'' he scratches the back of his neck awkwardly. ''How are you feeling?''

She shrugs and moves to lean back against the railing, arms crossed. ''I don't know. Okay, I guess. Dean,'' she licks her lips and looks down at the ground. ''We need to figure out what we're going to do.''

He grimaces. ''Yeah, um, about that...'' He doesn't even have the guts to look at her right now. He feels a bit like a bug. ''I'm sorta leaving town.''

That's really all it takes.

She tenses, body straightening, eyes clouding over with anger. ''What?'' Her voice is low and incredulous, like she thinks this is some sort of sick joke. Her breathing quickens, a barely noticeable change in the way she is holding herself. He tries to ready himself. For all he knows, she could be gearing herself up to brutally attack him. He wouldn't exactly put it past her. ''Please tell me you're joking.''

He shakes his head. ''I'm not,'' he admits slowly. ''My Dad came home tonight and told us to pack.''

''Does he know?''

''That you're...''

''Pregnant,'' she bites out shortly. ''It's okay. You can say it. Does he know?''

''No.''

She quiets, nodding carefully. She looks both pensive and angry. He's not sure if this means she's taking it well or if he should be preparing himself for a massive backlash. ''You know,'' she starts, and he's legitimately shocked when he hears her voice crack. ''Everybody warned me about you. My parents, my sister, my friends... Even your own father told me it would probably be best for me if I didn't get involved with you.''

Um. Ow.

''But I didn't listen. You wanna know why?'' A cruel and taunting smirk begins on her lips. ''Because I believed in you.'' She laughs a bitter and mean laugh that cuts through him like a steel knife. He will remember this feeling as one of the single most painful feelings ever. ''God, I'm so stupid. I actually thought I could save you. I thought I could love you.''

He swallows. ''Sweetheart - ''

''Don't call me that,'' she spits out coldly, pushing off the railing. ''Don't you ever call me that again.'' She spins on her heel to stare at anything but him. ''So, what are you going to do?'' She whispers, turning back around to face him. ''Are you going to just run away from this? Pretend this baby doesn't exist? Pretend I don't exist?'' (Honestly: Yes. That's the plan.) The tears in her eyes startle him. ''Are you really going to be that guy?''

His stomach lurches. It feels like someone is squeezing his heart. ''All I know,'' he mumbles, ''is that I can't do this. I'm not like you, all right? I don't have that kind of strength.''

''No.'' Her tactic changes, switching over from a furious guilt trip to desperate pleads. ''No, no, no, no, Dean...'' She crosses the porch and brings her hands up to his face. ''You do,'' she rasps. ''You do, babe. We can figure this out. We can make a decision together.'' Her eyes darken briefly and her fingernails dig into his cheeks. ''You need to be here. I need you here.''

''No.'' He clenches his teeth and grasps her wrists, taking a step back. ''No, you don't. You have never needed me,'' he says. ''Don't start now.'' He sighs and tangles a hand in her hair momentarily. ''Look, you deserve better than me, okay? You and the...'' He trails off, eyes moving down to her stomach briefly, igniting a flash of panic. ''...Whatever you do, whatever your choice is, you need someone by your side who can do right by you. I was never going to be that guy. I can't be that guy.''

She glares at him through her tears and wrenches free. ''Oh, bullshit!'' She screams at him. ''Don't lie to me, Winchester! You can't blame this on fear! Don't be a goddamn coward. If you wanted to do the right thing, you'd do the right thing. If you wanted to be a fucking man, you'd be a fucking man!''

An uncomfortable coldness spreads inside of him and his defense shields go up. ''I am doing this for you!''

''For me?'' She repeats. ''Oh, that's rich. You're leaving your pregnant girlfriend high and dry and that's your argument? It's for me?''

''Yes.''

Her eyes are like knives. They pierce right through him, sharp and cold, leaving stinging open wounds in their wake. Her eyes command the world. It has always been one of the sexiest things about her. It was one of the things that made him fall... They're different tonight. He has never felt so utterly gutted by just the look in her eyes before.

She walks right up to him, jaw clenched, eyes bright, and she pulls herself up to her full height. ''You are a scared little boy, Dean,'' she tells him. ''And I was a fucking idiot to think I could ever love someone as cowardly and pathetic as you are.''

It hurts more than he lets on, but he supposes the pain is necessary. He stares down at her, throat tight, and then he smiles. He brings a hand to her cheek, gently brushing hair out of her eyes, and then he cups her other cheek, thumb ghosting over her flesh. ''Now you're getting it,'' he whispers, and he leans down to kiss her forehead one last time. He lets his lips linger a second longer than he should, just long enough to make it hurt, and then he pulls away. There are tears in her eyes that she is desperately trying to hide. He can see them plain as day. She never was good at hiding things from him. He starts to walk away from her, side stepping and heading towards the stairs. It's probably one of the most painful walks he has ever taken and it feels like it lasts a lifetime.

''Dean!'' She calls after him, shrill and scared. ''What am I supposed to do now?''

''You'll figure it out,'' he says with a backwards glance over his shoulder. ''You're strong.''

He leaves her standing there, crying on her porch, and his insides feel like they're trying to claw their way out his throat. He's certain that this is either going to be the best decision he's ever made. Or the worst. There's no way around that.

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Present Day

Let me tell you a story without a happy ending. I'll whisper it in your ear.

Once upon a time, a boy fell in love with a beautiful girl. He didn't mean to. It wasn't his intention. He was never supposed to love her. But he did. He loved her so much. Loved her like fire. But then the girl got pregnant and the boy got scared, so he ran. Time passed. The boy never stopped thinking about the girl. More time passed. The boy still thought about the girl. The boy still loved the girl. He couldn't stop. Wouldn't stop.

Somewhere, not so deep down inside, Dean is still that boy.

He has never stopped thinking about her. There are nights where she invades his dreams and he can't get her out of his head, not even long enough to take a breath. She's the girl he wanted a chance with - a real chance - more than anything. She's the girl he never let go of. She's the girl in his head and in his heart like a poison. They never got a chance for closure, a goodbye, angry breakup sex. Their story was left painfully open ended. And that does more to your heart that you'd ever think.

She is always there in the back of his mind, name on his tongue, still sixteen in his head and perfect and everything he wanted. Getting her out of his head has proven to be an impossible task and sometime, after about ten years, he stopped trying. She will forever remain locked away in the depths of his broken mind; that stunning, mesmerizing and unattainable future that he walked away from. There is no way to get away from that.

After Stull Cemetery, after Sam... He had fully intended on going to her, finding closure, the chance to apologize, but he chickened out at the last minute and spent his year driving aimlessly until he settled down in Dallas, blending in with the rest of the city, doing odd jobs and drinking himself into a stupor every night. In Dallas, of course, there was also Elizabeth Williams. And he loved Lizzie, he did. She was a gorgeous, awe inspiring, sweet and wonderful nurse with long dark hair and a collection of sundresses that made his mouth water. And she took care of him. She met him in a bar while he was broken and drunk and things went from there, moving from a reluctant friendship to some sort of relationship. They were living together in her big apartment filled with light when the Sambot found him. They were building something. She saved his life. She is the only reason he is still here.

But she could never be her.

In sixteen years, no one has ever managed to replace her. Not Cassie, not Jo, not Lisa Braeden, not Anna, not even Lizzie. No one.

You cannot even begin to imagine how painful it is to spend sixteen years wanting something you can never have.

Perhaps it is this profound sense of yearning that has brought him here. Even though he should know better, Dean still finds himself standing outside of her office building, leaning back against the Impala. He's not sure how he ended up here, to be honest. He had gone to talk to Garrett Rossetti's parents and somehow, in between loosening his tie and then ripping his tie off while he was forced to listen to the grieving parents of a teenager talk about their son and how they loved him and what they wouldn't give for just one more day, he realized that he needed to see her.

She was easy enough to track down. She's built a good life for her and their daughter. A successful, financially stable, great life. He's not surprised. He always knew she was meant for more than just working in her father's bar, which she had been convinced would be her life. He is, however, a little surprised to find she has become a doctor; a general practitioner with her own practice, to be exact. It's not that he doesn't think she's capable, or that she's overly squeamish. It's just that when he knew her, she had very little patience for illness or injury and her bedside manner (which is something he assumes is important when one decides to become a GP) was...lacking. But then again, people change over time. They grow and mature. She is not the same young girl he left behind. He's going to have to remember that.

She's fairly well known around town, and once he has her office address, he turns off his phone and makes his way to her. He doesn't have a plan. He doesn't have an epic speech to give her. He doesn't have anything. He just wants her to know... Well, there are a lot of things he wants her to know.

He high tails it into the building and doesn't waste time with the elevator, sprinting up the stairs to the second floor where her office is located. He thinks it must look strange; seeing a man in a wrinkled cheap suit rushing into a quiet doctor's office near the end of the business day. He completely ignores the looks he's getting and bypasses the receptionist, making a beeline for the office door with her name on it. He is in total straight line mode. Don't stop for anything, no improvisations, just get to her.

''Sir!'' The receptionist hurries out from behind the desk to chase after him. ''Sir, you can't go in there!''

''Watch me,'' he says, and opens the door to an empty office.

Behind him, the grumpy receptionist comes to a halt and lets out a smug sounding huff, one hand on her hip. ''No, cowboy,'' she deadpans. ''I mean, you can't go in there because she's not there.''

He sighs and rubs at his temples. Walked right into that one, didn't he? ''Well, where is she?''

''She's with a patient,'' Receptionist replies tersely. ''You know, 'cause that's her job. Can I get your name?''

''Can you just tell her that...'' He stops. No speech, remember? ''Just tell her that Dean's here,'' he finishes lamely.

''Dean.'' She arches a single eyebrow and her lips tighten. ''Dean,'' she says again. ''As in Bray's - ''

''Ivy,'' a new voice chimes in. Dean nearly topples over. ''It's okay.'' She practically glides onto the scene, a true sight for sore eyes. She is just as drop dead sexy as she was when she was sixteen. She has matured, grown up, grown into her body and her smile, and she holds herself differently. There's more confidence in her body language. Less hates the world. More saves the world. He used to think she was one of the prettiest things he had ever laid eyes on. Pretty doesn't even begin to describe her anymore. He tries to find his breath.

Ivy eyes Dean with reproach and distaste. ''Are you sure?''

A nod. ''It's fine. I need you to schedule another appointment for Mr. Kirby anyway. Preferably sometime next week. And I wrote a prescription for him. Make sure you tell his wife, or he'll never get it filled.''

Ivy sighs and nods, but looks reluctant to leave her precious boss alone with the man she undoubtedly assumes is a worthless deadbeat loser. ...Which is not an altogether inaccurate description of Dean Winchester. Finally, with one last warning glare in his direction, she trails away from them, leaving them alone.

All blond hair and high heels, she zooms past him into her office, but cannot avoid her arm brushing against his. There is still a spark. That is never good. She tosses a chart onto her desk and turns around to face him. His mouth dries up and he can't swallow. Everything about her screams success. The way she's dressed, the way she's holding herself, the large office they're standing in. It's like the world is trying really hard to rub it in that she is better than him, that she is oozing confidence and peacefulness, that she has a good life, that she knows exactly who she is now, that him leaving her on that porch was the best thing that could have happened to her and the worst thing that could have happened to him. She got everything she wanted and everything she needed. He got nothing. She is perfect and he is a loser. He almost laughs.

Suppose some things never change, do they?

He steps all the way into her office holding his breath and when he closes the door, his chest tightens. He watches her carefully. There is no surprise in her eyes at the sight of him and his guilty conscience. He keeps searching for contempt but it's not there. There isn't much of anything in her eyes, actually. She is deliberately and precisely blank.

Once upon a time, the boy fell in love with the girl.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

''Hi, Dean,'' says the girl quietly, so quietly he can barely hear her voice.

He breathes. It's shallow and uneven, but it's a breath. ''Hi, Ruby,'' says the boy, and he can't look away.

Once upon a time, the boy realized he would always love the girl.

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For the next four months, Richard continued to deteriorate, drinking heavily and taking up with a number of young women. Philip Burton, in touch by telephone, was concerned about him. Though outwardly carousing, Burton was still tortured by the loss of Elizabeth, and he wrote her from Venice just before flying to New York.

''You asked me to write the truth about us... I suffer from a severe case of ''hubris'', an overweening pride. Prometheus was punished by the gods forever and is still suffering in all of us for inventing fire and stealing it from the gods. I am forever punished by the gods for being given the fire and trying to put it out. The fire, of course, is you...''

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end chapter two


AN: So, it was never actually meant to be a surprise that Ruby is the mother of his child, but I just realized that I never even said her name until he said, ''hi, Ruby'' at the end. Weird. I could have sworn I said her name before. Anyway, yeah, it's Ruby. It's human!Ruby, though. I don't think I mentioned that in the summary and I know it's pretty obvious, but yes, this Ruby is all human.

Up Next:

Dean and Ruby have a somewhat...unexpected reunion.