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Now And Then There's A Fool Such As I

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Dean donned his sunglasses as the Impala blazed down the highway. It was early afternoon and the previous night had been a long one, so Sam was lightly dozing in the passenger's seat. Dean decided his brother had slept long enough when one of Dean's favorite songs came on the radio. He cranked the stereo and began singing along (not quietly).

"Sun is shinin' in the sky, there ain't a cloooud in sight!"

Sam jolted in his seat at the sudden noise and moaned a little.

"It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play – come on Sammy, sing with me!"

Sam groaned again, straightening up and rubbing his palms over his face.

Dean ignored him and kept singing. "It's a beautiful new day – heeey!" He beat his hands on the steering wheel in time to the music. "Sing, Sammy!"

Sam shook his head, smiling a little. "No thanks, I'm good."

"Come on," his brother wheedled. "You know you want to."

"No, really," Sam insisted. "I'm okay to not sing. In fact I'd probably be more okay if you also weren't singing."

Dean frowned, pretending to be wounded, but then belted out a few bars of the chorus at a much more obnoxious volume.

"Mister Blue Sky, please tell us why, you had to hiiide away for sooo long – sooo long! Where did we go wrong?"

Sam couldn't help cracking another smile.

"See?" Dean grinned. "It is physically impossible not to feel happy when this song is on. You need to sing along. It'll stop you from being grouchy, sourpuss."

"I'm not grouchy, I'm just exhausted." Sam glanced over his shoulder to the small curse box, sealed up in the back seat. Inside was a talisman, a token from their late night adventures. "That thing makes me a little nervous. We don't know what it does or how to destroy it yet."

"True," Dean nodded. "But we are on our way to figure that out, so there's no reason why you shouldn't be singing right now." He flashed his brother a wide grin.

Sam chuckled. "I'm not singing."



"Sam. It's ELO."

"I'm not singing."

Dean picked up the song again, leaning towards Sam. He increased his volume, and though Sam tried valiantly to resist, he finally gave in – it was a catchy song. Sam started quietly, but his brother's enthusiasm was infectious. It wasn't long before the pair of them were belting out the lyrics (relatively off-tune, but they were having too much fun to care) and slapping the steering wheel and dashboard in time to the beats.

The Impala crested a hill and while Dean was busy head-banging, Sam was watching the road – in the middle of which stood a figure.

"Dean!" Sam shouted, smacking his brother's shoulder.

Dean gripped the steering wheel and slammed on the brakes. The car fish-tailed, Sam held on tight, and the figure loomed closer and closer until the Impala came to screeching halt. The figure, a woman, didn't flinch, and was standing only a few feet ahead of the now stationary car. The boys recovered their senses and then Dean swore very loud and very long.

Bela lifted her hand and wiggled her fingers in greeting, a satisfied smirk curling the edges of her lips. Dean yanked off his sunglasses and tossed them onto the seat. He was up and out of the car before Sam could stop him.

"You trying to get yourself killed?" Dean demanded, bearing down on the she-devil. His previously good mood dissolved rapidly.

"I'm trying to get a ride," she replied, cool and easy like nothing was out of the ordinary.

Sam exited the car, but hung back while Dean was getting in Bela's face.

"If I had realized it was you, I wouldn't have stopped," said Dean.

"I'm sure," Bela smiled.

"What the hell are you doing all the way out here, anyway?" Dean asked suspiciously.

"I'm stranded, clearly," said Bela, gesturing to the fields, trees, and highway around them. There were no vehicles in sight, moving or otherwise. "I just need a lift to the nearest town."

Dean shook his head. "No thanks. You're young; you can walk." He turned on his heel, striding back to the driver's door of his car.

"Please?" Bela tried.

"Nope." Dean waved her off.

"Dean…" Sam began.

He wasn't a big fan of Bela's for a number of reasons – chief among them being a certain bullet scar he sported because of her. But, she also wasn't nearly as bad as Dean acted (though Sam suspected a lot of that tension came from the fact that Dean also really liked Bela in addition to hating her).

"Sam, shut up and get in the car."

"We can't just leave her here."

"Like hell we can't."

"Dean. We just have to take her as far as the next town."

Bela waited patiently, her arms crossed over her chest. Dean glared and glared, but Sam raised his eyebrows and waited him out.

"Fine," Dean relented. "But if she shoots you again, I'm saying I told you so."




"Thank you, boys," said Bela. "It's been a pleasure as always." She leaned forwards from the back seat to smile at each of them in turn.

"Just get out of the damn car," Dean growled.

Sam rolled his eyes. To Bela he said, "You're welcome. But you should probably get out now."

She winked at him. "See you later, Sam." Turning to his brother, her tone became sultry. "Goodbye, darling."

Dean was scowling and determined to keep his eyes straight ahead and ignore the woman, until she trailed her fingers across his neck. Dean reacted like he'd been stabbed with a cattle prod, jumping away from her touch. Bela just laughed and slid out of the car. The moment she was clear of it, Dean pushed his foot down and peeled out of the parking lot.

Sam kept his lips pressed tight together to stop himself from laughing.

"Don't say a damn word," Dean warned.

Sam shook his head. "Wasn't gonna."

They'd barely hit the town limits, all of seven and a half minutes later, when Sam noticed something was wrong.

"Uh, Dean?"

"If this is about that woman – "

"The box is gone."


Dean glanced over at his brother, who was empty handed. Sam grimaced.

"But you put in the front," said Dean, his forehead crunched with confusion and frustration. "We put it in the front seat specifically so she wouldn't get it."

"I know – "

"Then how is it gone?" Dean swore under his breath.

"Look, dude, your guess is as good as mine. It was sitting between us the whole time, and she was never in the front seat."

"I told you so. I told you so." Dean frowned and banged his hand on the steering wheel, before slowing the car and turning it around. "Have I mentioned how much I hate it when she gets one over on us?"

Sam sighed and pressed his palms to his eyes. "Yeah. Me too."

He had no clue how Bela had managed to swipe the talisman with both of them right here. He knew she was good at sleight of hand, but he didn't think she was that good. He gave his head a shake. It didn't matter much how she'd gotten a hold of it, only that she had, and they needed to get it back as soon as possible. It was a dangerous object, and since Bela was a dangerous woman, combining the two could only mean bad things.

She was, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be found when they rumbled back into town. She wasn't in the parking lot they'd dropped her off at, they had no clue which car she (probably) had stolen, and a quick check of both motels in the tiny town produced no fruit. Bela had wasted no time high-tailing it, and they had no idea where she'd taken the talisman.

Dean kicked at the ground before getting back into the Impala with his brother. Sam eyed his brother.

"Mr. Blue Sky?" he suggested. "Sourpuss?"

Dean glared. "Very funny."




Bela wasn't about to just crack open a curse box. She knew better. She didn't know what was concealed inside, and the boys were experienced and honestly smarter than she gave them credit for, so they wouldn't be stashing something completely harmless inside.

Yet her fingers itched to discover the box's contents. Ever since she'd swiped it from under the Winchesters' noses, she was dying to open it. As she drove down the highway in a stolen Toyota, she kept stealing glances at the small brown box with black symbols carved across its surface. Irritated with herself, Bela pulled over and put the box in the trunk to get it out of her sight.

She'd dealt with curse boxes before, and certainly had stolen more than her fair share of objects that contained a prize within, and rarely did she feel such a need to know what was in the box she was procuring. If her client was paying her very well to steal a box, she didn't need to know what was in it. In this instance, Bela had lifted the object from the boys just for fun, because there were few things she loved more in the world than the look on Dean's face when she pulled the wool over his eyes.

Bela smiled at the thought of his reaction when he discovered the box was gone. In fact, she hoped whatever the box contained was important, because then they might even chase her for it. Slipping through Dean's fingers was another thing Bela rather loved doing.

After another ten miles, she found herself thinking of little else other than the damn box. She forced herself to focus, and pressed down harder on the accelerator.




Bela had trouble sleeping that night, which was unusual. She tossed and turned, sleeping fitfully before waking with a jolt. She didn't know why.

The box is on the dresser.

She had strange dreams that blended together and melted away the moment she opened her eyes. She balled the sheets in her fists and she buried her face in the pillow.

Just get up and open it.

She refused to look at the clock and see how much sleep she had lost. Bela rearranged herself to find a more comfortable position, but couldn't seem to settle.

It will only take a moment and then you'll know and you can get back to sleep.

Finally, with a frustrated growl, Bela threw off the blankets and stalked over to the dresser. She felt hazy and half-asleep, but she just had to know. She was certain that once she determined what was in the box, she would be able to sleep peacefully.

It took her just a few seconds to pick the lock, and she flipped open the latch. Inside was a dark amulet ringed by small white jewels, attached at the top to a long silvery chain. Bela's breath caught in her throat as her fingers reached out of their own volition to brush across its gleaming surface.

There. Now you know.

She shivered as a chill passed over her. Something felt off, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Instead, she smiled at the jewel and closed the box, curiosity satisfied. She was still smiling when she finally fell properly asleep.




Sam and Dean stopped for the night, trying to decide their next move. They needed to get the talisman back from Bela, but didn't have any leads on where she'd gone with it. Dean wanted to simply move on and find a new hunting job to take care of, but Sam disagreed.

"We have to get it back from her," he said. "We don't know what it's capable of or what it does."

Dean shrugged. "She's probably already sold it. It'll crop up again, and when it does, we'll get it then. If you haven't noticed, if she wants to disappear, she freaking disappears."

Sam sighed, but agreed there wasn't anything more they could do tonight, so he let the issue rest. He silently decided to revisit it first thing in the morning, however.

The next day, Sam and Dean fought briefly about what to do about Bela and the talisman. In the end, Sam more or less won: he managed to get Dean to agree to look for Bela for one more day. Dean made him promise, however, that if they were unable to catch her trail, then they would leave for a new hunting job the following day.

By late evening, after hours of research and chasing down leads that went nowhere, they finally called it a night. Sometime shortly after dawn, they were woken by frantic knocking on the door to their motel room. The boys exchanged bleary glances and grabbed for whatever weapon was closest to their beds. Dean's hair was sticking up at various angles as he slowly approached the door in his pajamas, gun at the ready, with Sam right behind him, dagger in hand.

The knocker rapped sharply again and Dean cautiously slid over to peer through the peephole. He dropped his head with a sigh and unlocked the door to reveal Bela. Sam's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

Bela looked worse for the wear: there were dark shadows under her eyes, and her hair was a tangled mess. She was curiously soaking wet, her clothes dirty, and her hands were covered in scrapes and bruises. She had the curse box she'd stolen from them tucked in the crook of her arm.

"I've made a mistake," she said by way of greeting and stalked into the room.

Dean didn't bother to hide his amusement at the sight of her looking uncharacteristically like a total mess. "What happened to you?"

Bela sighed, carefully setting the curse box on the table, but not letting go of it. "I think the more appropriate question is what hasn't happened." She collapsed into the nearest chair with a squelch. With another sigh, she began listing, "My hair dryer blew a fuse, I got food poisoning from yesterday's breakfast, my car got a flat tire, my heel broke on my favorite shoes and I twisted my ankle. I've fought off about a dozen sprites, and two ghosts – which won't bloody leave me alone. I haven't slept for two nights now, and I seem to have lost my wallet."

Sam would have felt more sympathy for her, had his own similarly miserable experience with bad luck not been a direct result of Bela stealing the rabbit's foot from him. Dean, on the other hand, grinned wider with each passing second. He crossed his arms over his chest, an insufferably smug expression on his face.

"You lost your wallet," he said. "Isn't that ironic."

Bela ignored him.

Unperturbed, Dean asked, "So, did you find another rabbit's foot and lose it?"

Sam noticed how Bela's fingers tightened around the curse box when she answered, "No, Dean, I did not."

Sam cleared his throat. "Could I see that box for a minute?"

"See, that's the thing," said Bela hesitantly. She ran her fingers idly back and forth over the box's edge. "I… can't seem to let go of it. Ever since I…" She ducked her head and flushed with embarrassment – an almost entirely foreign emotion to see coming from her. "Touched the amulet inside."

"You touched it?" Dean repeated incredulously, enjoying Bela's predicament immensely. "Because that worked out so well last time."

"I didn't want to!" Bela snapped defensively. "I just couldn't seem to help myself. I couldn't sleep, and then I was… I opened the box."

Sam nodded thoughtfully. "Actually, that can be fairly common with cursed objects. There's a certain pull to them that lures people into handling them, and then, of course, they get cursed."

Bela buried her face in the hand not grasping the box and groaned. Dean was still openly grinning.

"Christmas has come early," he laughed and clapped Sam on the back. "I think this might be the best thing that has ever happened."

"Ha ha," said Bela humorlessly. "You can just be glad I stole this little thing from you, otherwise you'd be the cursed idiot right now."

"I am glad. I am very, very – "

A ghost flew through the motel room wall, pale, opaque, and moaning.

"Not again!" Bela complained.

Sam and Dean jumped back, reaching for their salt guns. Bela drew a hand gun from her belt as the ghost charged her, shooting a small round of rock salt into the ghost's wide open maw. It dissipated with a shriek.

"Who was that?" Dean demanded.

"How should I know?" Bela returned hotly. "That's one of the ones that's been dogging me for the past twenty-four hours. You better make yourself useful and grab some iron or something, because the other one usually isn't far behind."

"Wait," Sam held up his hand. "You don't know who the ghost is or why it's after you?"

"Of course not!" Bela replied. "Why would I?"

"Ghosts only haunt people or places they're tied to," he said. "They don't just – "

A second ghost, larger and more hideous, flickered into existence. It roared and charged. Bela had to shoot it twice before it disappeared.

"Told you," she said, then checked the chamber of her smoking gun. "Damn, I'm almost out of rounds. Don't suppose you fellows could spot me some salt?"




They lined the motel room with salt, and while Dean went to the car to get some more, as well as more rounds and weapons, Sam asked Bela to tell him details about what had transpired since she last saw them. He was good at mostly keeping a straight face as she described the various misfortunes she had suffered. He also formed some theories about what was going on, but decided to do some research before he voiced them.

Dean returned and spread everything out on the beds and the table. He loaded several of the guns with fresh salt rounds while Sam opened his laptop and began searching for lore.

"So, who'd you kill?" Dean asked Bela, smiling again.

"I told you, I don't know who those ghosts are."

"I find that hard to believe."

"Believe what you will, darling, I don't know them."

"Right." Dean nodded. "They're just haunting you for no reason."

Before Bela could retort, Sam interjected, "No, there's definitely a reason. And I'm pretty sure it's in that box."

"The amulet?" said Bela, then swore softly under her breath.

Sam nodded. "The Amulet of Sutekh." He read aloud from his laptop, "An object of great evil, the Amulet of Sutekh will compel a person into procuring it. They are then plagued by a storm of chaos and suffering."

Bela blanched, and Dean laughed.

Sam continued, "All manner of malevolence will be drawn to the bearer of the Amulet, growing steadily worse, until the cursed bearer is deceased. The Amulet will then mark the bearer, and begin anew in its quest to possess and destroy the wicked."

Dean opened his mouth to make a remark, but Bela held up a finger. "Don't you dare."

"Great care must be taken not to come in direct contact with the Amulet," Sam read on and fought off a smirk. Dean chuckled and Bela pressed her lips into a thin line. "Else the curse shall befall the person who touched it, and they will be unable to escape the amulet's influence."

"Wonderful," Bela mumbled and shifted in her seat. "What does it say about stopping the damn thing?"

Sam winced, scrolling across a number of pages on his laptop. "It... doesn't."

"Well, there has to be a way – there's always a way," she reasoned. She sort of squirmed in her chair uneasily and tried to cover the movement by crossing her legs. "I don't fancy dying at the hand of bloody magic amulet and all its evil friends."

Dean laughed into his hand.

"Don't worry," said Sam, ignoring his snickering brother. "I'll talk to Bobby, and we'll keep looking."

Bela squirmed again, biting her lip and looking very uncomfortable, like something was suddenly wrong with her chair.

"What's up with you?" Dean eyed her.

Bela's cheeks reddened. "I seem to… have developed a… rash."

Dean barked with laughter. "Oh God, just when I think it can't get any better."




Bobby was stumped on how to fix Bela's predicament, but agreed to look into it right away.

"If it kills her, it'll just move on to somebody new," he said. "Don't want that, now, do we?"

Sam fought off a laugh.

"In the meantime, you boys better get her somewhere away from the general public," Bobby instructed. "The last thing you want is an army of evil descending on some poor unsuspecting spit of a town."

He then told Sam about a cabin that a buddy of his owned, not far from where the guys and Bela were located.

"He's on holiday in Majorca, so they'll be no one around to get caught in the crossfire," said Bobby. "And he's a hunter, so it oughta be well-stocked for all your evil-fighting needs."

Sam could hear the smile in his friend's voice. He couldn't help feeling pleased that Bela was the one who was cursed too, Sam could tell.

"Thanks, Bobby. Let me know if you turn up anything else."

After he relayed the information to Dean and Bela, the boys promptly packed up their belongings. Dean made sure his gun was ready and loaded before they left the room, just in case Bela's ghosts were waiting for them.

"Come on, Gollum," he grinned. "Grab your Precious and let's go."

Bela made a face at him, but scooped up the curse box and clutched it to her chest all the same.




Minutes after they exited the motel, Bela's two ghosts were back, this time with a friend. Dean and Sam took care of them while Bela ran for the Impala. In her haste, she tripped and fell, and lost her grip on the curse box, sending it skittering across the pavement. The moment it left her fingers, she cried out and then her hands flew to her throat.

Dean dispatched the last ghost. "Oh, it is going to be a long day," he said with the shake of his head.

"Dean!" Sam shouted and ran for Bela. Dean saw she was shaking on the ground, and hurried after his brother to her side.

Though there was nothing visibly wrapped around her throat, Bela clawed at her neck as though the life was being choked out of her. And it certainly seemed to be, as her face grew steadily redder and her eyes bulged. She writhed and trembled, desperate for air. Sam's eyes darted around, trying to determine the cause of Bela's choking. Dean spotted the box a few feet away and acting on a hunch, he raced over to snatch it up. The moment he dropped it onto Bela's chest, she gasped for breath, and the redness on her throat immediately began to fade.

"Holy hell," Dean murmured.

"You okay?" Sam asked as Bela sucked in several more deep breaths.

"That's... new," she croaked, then added, "I'll... survive." She took another couple deep breaths. "Hopefully."

"Wow," said Dean. "You really can't let go of it." He helped her to her feet; the corner up his lips twitched up.

"I'm glad you find my imminent death... so very amusing," Bela snapped, rubbing at her throat with the hand not clutching the curse box tightly.

"Of all the ways I've imagined your death, sweetheart, freaky cursed amulet was actually not one of them," Dean smirked. "I kinda like it."

Bela flipped him the bird and climbed into the back of the Impala, but Dean just laughed loudly as he settled into the driver's seat.




The drive to the cabin was not pleasant. Though only forty minutes away from the town, it ended up being a whole hell of a lot longer than that with all the trouble Bela brought down on them. They had to pull over no fewer than five times to deal with a variety of issues.

The first time they stopped was also the first time the ghosts showed up since the motel. Bela screamed and fumbled for salt as one of the ghosts scrabbled at her throat. Sam swung a tire iron at it, careful not to hit Dean and Bela. Dean slammed on the brakes and tried not to drive off the road while fighting off the second ghost.

A few miles later they had to pull over to fix a flat tire (Dean was pissed that Bela's storm of chaos was now affecting Baby). Their next stop was to fix the wipers (which got stuck in the middle of a freak thunderstorm and made it near impossible to drive, but thankfully only lasted fifteen minutes). The fourth stop was to gank a swamp demon that sprang out of the grassy ditch and tried to chew through the hood, and the fifth was to clear a fallen tree on the windy dirt road leading to the cabin, after which they were attacked by a swarm of sprites.

Sprites, as far as Dean was concerned, were the mosquitoes and wasps of the spirit world: annoying, pointless, and loved to bite you. They weren't the mischievous, cutesy elf-things the wide world seemed to think they were, but rather some sort of spirit hybrid with razor sharp claws and teeth. Sprites weren't much bigger than 4 inches tall, and though they tended to stick to messing around in the spirit world, preying on other spirits, it was not uncommon for a group of them to surface and wreak some havoc amongst the living.

Though not overly dangerous, they definitely could be a serious nuisance, especially in larger numbers. Wounds from their bites or scratches burned continuously until a salve or cream laced with cinnamon could be applied. Cinnamon turned them to dust, though salt would momentarily stun them.

Thankfully they had a lot of salt.

The bastards were fast, and every inch of exposed skin Dean had was sporting a stinging scrape by the time he, Sam, and Bela were able to fight off enough of them to get back in the car and speed off towards the cabin. Once they arrived, they made a break for the cabin but the ghosts were back yet again, this time with two more buddies. One of them sent Bela flying before she could take care of it, and she lost her grip on the box. Dean left the ghosts up to his brother while he bolted to get the box back in Bela's flailing hands before she choked again.

"Hold onto this, will you?" he snapped, jamming it at her.

She gasped as her breath came flooding back into her lungs. Dean sprinted back to Sam to join him in the ghost melee which thankfully was over in minutes.

Ghosts gone for now, the trio stumbled into the cabin.

They wasted no time in lining the place with salt and cinnamon, and Dean was happy to note hex bags and warding symbols nearly everywhere he went in the small three room dwelling. Sam prepared batches of holy water in case demons started showing up, and he mixed up cinnamon salve for their sprite bites. Bela collapsed with exhaustion onto the old gray couch by the fireplace.

Briefly they discussed how to get rid of the ghosts once and for all, but with no clue as to who they were, there was no way to burn their remains. Besides, with the way more kept showing up, Sam suspected the amulet would only send more after them. The amulet had to be taken care of first, and soon.

Bela's hands were shaky as she cracked open the curse box. "Considering what happened back at the motel, and again outside just now," she said hesitantly. "I think it's a better idea if I... if I put this on, rather than continue to keep a hold of the box."

Dean re-entered the room, warding complete, and exchanged uneasy glances with Sam, who came into the living room area holding bowls of salve.

"Unless either of you have a wiser solution?" said Bela hopefully, looking from one brother to the other. When neither answered immediately, she asked, "What is it?"

Sam set the bowls down on the coffee table. "It's just that..." he shifted and rubbed the back of his neck.

"The dude we found wearing this was kinda fried," Dean said bluntly, plopping down in the chair across from Bela. "It'd burned his skin everywhere the chain and the amulet touched him. It was still smoking when we got there. We don't think that's what killed him, but it certainly wasn't pretty."

"We didn't know what the amulet did, or what happened, so were pretty careful not to touch it when we wrapped and boxed it up," added Sam. He crossed his arms over his chest, then winced and dropped them back to his sides. The wounds inflicted by the sprites were too tender to touch. "We weren't going to do anything with it until we knew more about what we were dealing with."

"The point is, unless you want a big ol' amulet sized hole on your..." Dean gestured vaguely, staring at the V of her V-neck. "In your chest, you probably shouldn't put that thing on."

"Ah, and then I would spoil your view," Bela teased, lifting an eyebrow suggestively as she slipped the amulet's chain over her head.

Dean didn't have the grace to even pretend to be embarrassed by what she was implying, which made Bela smile for what felt like the first time in far too many hours. Impending death or not, bantering with Dean always made her feel better.

"Flirt all you want, sweetheart, I am enjoying your misery way too much to be bothered by it today." He grabbed one of the bowls and began applying the cream to his sprite-inflicted wounds, hissing until the cinnamon did its job and took away the hot sting.

"Today?" she questioned, and reached out to scoop up a bowl of her own. "So you've been bothered by it in the past?" She tapped her lip thoughtfully with her finger. "I shall have to make note of that."

Dean chuckled.

Sam rolled his eyes and retreated to the kitchen area to make himself a bowl of salve.

With a slight sigh, Bela said, "In any event, I suppose burned skin is a preferable alternative to choking to death should I lose my grip on the damn box again." She frowned and set the box aside.

Dean didn't disagree.

They spent several minutes applying the sprite cream in silence, relief spreading instantly over their inflamed skin. Bela struggled to reach an area of her back that wasn't covered by her shirt, and finally she broke the silence that had descended with a huffing sigh.

"I can't reach."

She sounded so miserable, and looked it too, that despite everything that had happened so far (the damage to Baby had certainly dampened Dean's amusement over this whole thing), Bela's predicament became funny all over again.

He chuckled and grinned.

"It's not funny," Bela whined, pushing a lock of tangled hair away from her bruised face.

"It is actually," said Dean. He left his chair to sit beside Bela, who turned her back to him and moved her hair out of the way so he could access the patch of skin above her shirt and below her neck that she was unable to reach. "You have to admit if situations were reversed, you'd be laughing your ass off right about now." He gingerly began applying the cream.

Bela's shoulders tensed at first, then slowly relaxed. She tilted her head down and he could hear the smile in her voice when she answered, "I suppose that's true. You could be a little nicer, though. Given how much I've already been through today."

Dean paused in spreading the cream on Bela. "Um, and you could try making my life less of a living hell on a regular basis." He snorted and continued gently rubbing on the salve. "But you don't, so I don't think I need to be nicer."

"Oh, come on, Dean," said Bela. "Admit it. Sometimes you think I'm not all that bad."

He scoffed and shook his head. He didn't even realize his fingers had slowed and were tracing over the same area of her skin.

"Once in a while," he grumbled, barely audible. Louder, he added, "When you're not acting like a complete bitch."

"You like me because I'm a bitch."

"That is so not – "

"Sorry to break up your Star Wars moment," Sam called from the kitchen. "But we have company!"