Lori groaned, light starting to break through the darkness behind her closed eyelids. She slowly peeked one eye open, vision blurry. A deep breathe told her they were back in the bunker, it's somewhat stale air cool on her face. She could also smell the faint hints of leather, whiskey, gunpowder, and man. Opening both eyes a bit further, she realized she was lying in bed. And not just any bed: Dean's.

She closed her eyes, a smile pulling at her lips as his face swam into her mind. His eyes were crinkled happily, the green surrounding his pupils bright and shining. His hair was spiked in all different directions and dark with water, as if he had just rubbed a towel over his head after a shower. The scruff on his face threw shadows across his cheeks, giving him an older, more handsome look.

She could feel herself standing before him, grinning right back. A soft breeze blew, gently brushing the soft curls of her hair across her shoulders. She couldn't tell where they were in this dream world, but she didn't have a care in the world. Dean stepped toward her, moving achingly slow as time seemed to slow to a stop. He closed the gap between them, wrapping his arms around her waist. His hands flattened out on her back, pressing her close against him –

Lori's eyes flew open, fingers digging into the sheets below her. She stifled a cry of pain, panting as her lower back reminded her of just what she had been up to lately. Squeezing her eyes shut, she clenched her jaw and ground her teeth, preparing to move again. With a deep breathe, Lori pushed hard against the bed and brought her legs up so she was kneeling on the bed. She wiped angrily at her eyes, cursing her apparently low pain tolerance.

After much huffing and puffing, Lori managed to scoot herself to the edge of the bed. Her back screamed in protest as she fought to bring her legs out from under her crouched body and place her feet on the floor. She gasped, bracing an arm on the nightstand as her legs wobbled under her. She stood still for a while, working to slow her racing pulse. With one last huff, she straightened her back with a soft cry.

Slowly, Lori made her way toward the door, keeping a hand against the wall for balance. Her mind still didn't seem to be functioning at full speed, but with each step she gained a little clarity. Rounding the corner, she stepped out into the main room. Sam sat at the table, typing something into his laptop as Kevin scribbled diligently in his tablet notes. She heard the clink of ice in a glass and Dean stepped into the room from the kitchen, stopping short with his drink when he saw her standing there.

Lori heard a scuffling come from Sam's feet, and Scout bounded out to greet her. Her eyes grew wide, knowing that Scout would most likely jumped up to greet her as he loped toward her. Taking a step to the side, Lori backed up against the wall so she could use both hands to catch his paws and prevent him from knocking her over. Her breathe hissed between her teeth as the wall pressed against her spine, Scout licking away happily at her hands and arms.

Dean was before her then, tugging on Scout's collar to pull his weight off her. He pulled Scout over to where Sam now stood, watching. Sam nodded, crouching down before Dean and hugging Scout against his body so he would calm down and stay put. In two large strides, Dean stood before Lori again, gently pulling her shoulders off the wall.

"What the hell are you doing out here?" he demanded. His jaw worked as he held her at arm's length, looking her over for any more damage. Lori furrowed her brow crossly at him. "Well hello to you too, Dean," she retorted. He met her eyes then, brow furrowed. "You should be in bed."

Lori waved him off, stepped out of his hands and walking up to the table. "I just needed a drink," she replied, lifting his glass of the table. She turned back to face him, taking a slow sip. It burned down her throat, but she welcomed the warm feeling that settled in her gut. It felt like an internal heating pad against her sore back. He stood still, silent and guarded as she took a second sip. She waggled her eyebrow at him, almost daring him to challenge her for it.

"Well I don't know about you Sam, but I'm gonna turn in for the night before they have sex on the table," Kevin piped up, pushing his chair back as he stood. Lori blushed, breaking eye contact with Dean. Kevin put a hand on her shoulder as he walked by, pausing to smile encouragingly at her. "It's good to see you up and kicking," he added.

Lori smiled her thanks, watching him leave the room with Sam carrying Scout close behind him. She turned her eyes back to Dean, who hadn't moved from his spot in the room. She gulped, taking in his hooded eyes and tense shoulders. A glance down brought a sly smile to her face, seeing that he was apparently pretty happy to see her.

Shifting her eyes back up, Lori took a third sip of Dean's drink and stepped slowly toward him. He watched her with darkened eyes, jaw clenched in an effort to keep himself still. She stopped in front of him, holding out his drink to him. He raised his hand to take the glass from her hand, barely grazing her fingertips as he backed away from her.

Intrigued, Lori followed him forward, a smirk playing on her lips. She stopped short, however, when Dean held up his hand. Her brow furrowed in confusion, she waited for him to speak first. "I know what you're doing, and I'd be a bad liar if I tried to tell you I didn't want to… but we can't. I put one finger on your back and it's going to hurt like hell. And don't try to tell me to just be gentle, because I don't trust myself to not give in to you."

Lori looked down, disappointed but knowing he was right. Running a hand through her hair, she steadied her breathe and nodded, looking back up to meet his eyes. He looked relieved, setting the drink down and leaning against the table. "You hungry?" he asked.

"Now that you mention it, yeah. Really hungry, actually," Lori replied. Dean pushed himself off the table, leaning forward to take her hand. "Let's go heat something up."

"Ahhh dammit Dean, this was an awful idea!" Lori yelled, cringing in pain against the pillow. Dean sat straddling her legs, his fingers moving slowly over her bare back. She felt the pressure from his fingers lessen, but they kept moving over her bruised muscles. "I know it sucks now, but you will feel ten times better in the morning. I can't tell you how many times those Magic Fingers beds pretty much cured me overnight. Consider yourself lucky, you've got actual magic fingers working you over."

"My hero," she grumbled, smiling despite herself. God, she hoped he was right about feeling better in the morning because she sure as hell wasn't right now. Lori gritted her teeth as he returned the pressure through his fingers. The only thing helping distract her was Scout sitting diligently at her bedside, watching them. She could almost see him pouting because Dean wouldn't let him on the bed with her. It brought another smile to her face. Reaching a hand out, she scratched behind his ear. Scout immediately leaned into her hand, giving her wrist a quick lick.

Lori frowned suddenly, pulling her hand back up underneath the pillow. "Do you really think I belong here?" she blurted out. She felt Dean's hands pause for just a moment on her back before continuing to massage her muscles. She wished she could see his face. "Where the hell did that come from?" he replied after a beat.

"Well ever since I showed up here, I've just been slowing you guys down. I tried being ready for that case, I really did. But seeing that boy's entire hand get torn to shreds because of some delusional ghost mom? And then I was zero help when it came to actually getting rid of her –"

"Woah woah, slow down. Sam said you were the one who came up with the idea to have Timmy send her away. Give yourself some credit here."

"I guess, but Sam thought of it at pretty much the exact same time. You guys would have been just fine without me. You could have sent her away, hooked up with that Robin chick, and gone about your lives like normal."

"Hooked up with Robin? Lori, what the hell has gotten into you?" Dean slide off her legs, standing up beside the bed.

Lori pushed herself up into a sitting position, cringing before looking up at him. "Well between the restaurant and then holding hands with her at Sonny's, I kinda got the hint there."

Dean ran a hand through his hair, jaw clenched in frustration. "Robin and I knew each other when I was at Sonny's as a kid, but that's it. Did you really think I was going to hook up with her?"

Lori shrugged, looking down at her hands. "It's not like we're… official, or anything. You had every right to," she mumbled.

"Is that what this is about?" Dean asked, sitting down next to her. He huffed out a breath, raking his hand through his hair again. "Look, I know with the whole TV thing that you know I'm really not good at the whole chick flick, touchy feely moments. But I do care about you, Lori." She looked up at him, her sad eyes meeting his earnest ones.

"I care too much for my own good," he continued. "When you hit the ground on that hunt, you didn't move. I tried as hard as I could to break free and get to you. Robin was the last thing on my mind. Hell, even Sam wasn't on my mind in that moment. All I wanted was to make sure you were still alive, that you hadn't left me already. And when you finally moved, it was like I could breathe again. Even with that ghost bitch still squeezing the living hell out of my heart." Lori huffed out a laugh, wiping her cheeks and leaning against his arm.

"I'm sorry, Dean. It's just, you're my only lifeline in this foreign world. If you gave me the boot for some other girl, I would be so lost. And empty. I don't know if this is some weird alternate version of Stockholm Syndrome or if it's the steamy shower sex, but I've gotten really attached to you. If me becoming a hunter is the only way of fitting into your world, then I'll be damned if I don't keep trying."

Dean shook his head, rubbing a rough hand gently over her cheek. "You don't have to hunt to stay here with me. In fact, it would save me a hell of a lot of gray hairs if you weren't hunting. But don't you doubt for a second that you don't belong here, or don't fit in. Because if there is anywhere in any world you do belong, it's here with me."

Lori stared up at him, her heart swelling at his words. She was such a mess, but he was so good to her. "I love you," she said softly. She didn't know what she expected back from him, but she knew by now that she meant it. An almost pained looked flashed across his face before he brought his lips crashing down onto hers. His hand wound into her hair and held her tight against him, deepening their kiss.

When they finally broke free, Dean rested his forehead against hers. After a few moments, he brought his jade green eyes up to meet her deep sea blue. "Don't ever say you don't belong here," he muttered, swiping a thumb over her cheek. Lori smiled up at him. Even though he didn't say it back in words, she knew he meant it.

Author's note:

Hey guys, thanks for reading! I've been having trouble with my doc manager not letting me save new chapters, so I'm sorry for the delay. I wanted to warn you all that I have finals and graduation coming up, so the next new chapter may not be for another 2 week or so. I promise I'm not just dropping the story, there will be more! I have a few major events in mind, so stick around. :)