Dean sat on the dock, sipping his beer, and enjoyed the momentary peace he had found at the lake. He and Sam were in between jobs and he knew that Sam was still working on trying to save him. He understood and even appreciated his brother's determination, but he wanted no parts of the whole thing. There was no way he was going to risk Sam's life, not for anything.
So he had disappeared for a few hours and found himself sitting by the water, contemplating his life.
He hadn't exactly lied to Sam about his feelings regarding his deal. He was tired of everything. It was like losing their father and then nearly losing Sam had just...he couldn’t take it anymore. It was a flood gate of questions unleashed, making him wonder if every decision he had made was worth it. And the part that was a bit of a lie went with the territory of big brother. Just another way he tried to protect Sam.
He ran a hand over his face and as he lifted the beer bottle to his lips, he noticed the girl coming toward the water. He watched as she lost her footing on the dirt path and tumbled down and into the water. When she didn’t resurface right away, Dean dove in after her. So much for a quiet afternoon to himself.
Dean got a hold of her rather quickly, she was just going under when he reached her. He pulled her up onto the dock and as he went to check for a pulse, she coughed and spit out a mouthful of water. She turned onto her side, stared at Dean, and said, “You saved me.”
He realized immediately that it was the same girl he had bumped into a few times in town. He said, “You.”
“Were you following me?”
She coughed again and said, “You saved me.”
“Yeah, I did,” he said. He squeezed the water out of his shirt and said, “Why are you following me?”
“I thought I was supposed to save you.”
Dean stared at her blankly. He knelt in front of her and said, “Are you sure that you’re okay? That was one hell of a fall you took.”
“Yeah, it doesn't...I’m going to kill him. Well, not actually kill because he’s…” the girl paused. She went to stand up, but Dean reached out to slow her down as she wasn’t very steady. “If I wasn’t supposed to save you...sometimes I wish things made more sense.”
“You and me both,” Dean replied. Dean followed her lead and stood up. The girl was no more than eighteen years old and she didn’t look possessed or insane, but she wasn’t making a helluva lot of sense at the moment either. Dean motioned to his car and said, “I think we need to get you to a hospital.”
“No, I’m fine. What were you doing out here anyway?”
“Right, guess I ruined that,” the girl replied.
He smiled and asked, “And you?”
She looked around and said, “I’m Joan, by the way.”
“Dean. And you didn’t answer my question, Joan.”
“And I’m not going to. Thank you for saving me, Dean.”
“All in a day’s work.”
“That’s right. This is like your job, right?”
“Saving people. You do it a lot.”
He arched an eyebrow and said, “How do you know that?”
“I…uh…overheard you talking with that other guy. He said that you've saved a lot of people.”
He wasn't sure what else she overheard, but she didn't seem too spooked. In fact, the way she was looking at him mixed with the fact that she was following him around. He smiled and said, “It's sweet that you like me, Joan, but it's not a good idea."
"I’m flattered, but you’re—“
“Oh God, no. I mean, you’re hot, but…” she paused and covered her face with her hands. “This isn't how I expected this to go.”
Dean wrapped his arm around her shoulders and led her toward his car. “Let’s get you out of here, Joan. It's getting late and you’ve probably got family that’s really worried.”
“They’re used to my craziness by now,” Joan replied with a shrug. “My older brother is going to kill me though. My parents are away for a romantic weekend and I promised him that I wouldn't do anything stupid. He’ll think this was stupid.”
Dean wrapped a blanket around her and opened the passenger seat for her to sit down. He said, “Big brothers are pretty forgiving of stupid. Trust me.“
“Well, mine should be. He perfected it long before I ever did,” Joan said. Dean could feel her staring at him as he started the car and after a few long seconds of her scrutinizing gaze, she added, “You’re doing a good thing. Even if you're not sure of it, you're making a difference.”
“Saving people. You’re creating good ripples, ya know?”
“It’s just…you saved me tonight. And who knows? Maybe tomorrow God will decide that I need to save someone else. If you hadn’t been here, no good could come out of it. But because you were here and you saved me, you might’ve changed history for the better.”
“That’s way too complicated for me.”
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t think it is. I think you want it to be, but that you totally get what I’m saying.”
“Are you trying to give me a headache?”
She just rolled her eyes again and said, “Good ripples, Dean. You do good things, you put good out into the world. So you can act all bad ass, but you’re one of the good guys.”
Dean slammed on the brakes and slid the car over to a stop at the side of the road. He turned to face her and said, “Christo.” Off the blank look on her face, he said, “Of course it couldn’t be that easy.”
“Are you mental? You could’ve killed us with that move.”
“You sure like to talk a lot.”
“I’m making sure you know how important you are.”
“And why is that?”
“Would you believe me if I told you that God told me to?”
“I’d say you were the crazy one.”
She smiled and said, “Well, think what you want, but all the stuff you go through in a day, it’s for a good reason.”
“And you know what I go through? You know what it’s like to lose pieces of your family and yourself bit by bit? But don't worry because you say I’m making a difference.”
“Well, why else have you been saving people? Play the tough guy all you want and pretend like you don’t care that you’ve changed things for the better…it doesn’t make it less true,” Joan replied. She folded her arms protectively over her chest and said, “Can you drive the car now? I’d like to get home before I’m grounded for life.”
“You’re quite a character, Joan,” Dean replied.
“Just remember good ripples, Dean. Whenever I’m wondering why I keep doing some of the stuff that I do, I think about that and it helps.”
“Good ripples. Got it.”
“Maybe one day you’ll even believe it.”
“You saved my life, so I won’t push.”
“That’s awfully kind of you.”
“So thank you, Dean. Thank you for saving me and thank you for everything you do,” she said. She pointed to a little store and said, “You can drop me off over there. I know you can’t exactly deal with the questions you'll get if you bring me home.”
“And how do you know that?”
Joan remained quiet, simply smiled at him until he brought the car to a stop. She stepped out of the car and said, “God told me.” Dean wasn’t sure what his face twisted into – he wasn’t exactly expecting that sort of answer – but it amused Joan. She chuckled and said, “Bye Dean. Remember good ripples and you’ll be fine.”
“You’re one weird girl, Joan,” Dean called out as she walked to the entrance of the store. He watched until she was in the store and then pulled out of the parking lot to head back to town to get Sam. He wasn’t sure what to make of their conversation – leave it to him to save a Jesus freak – but there was something nice about the idea of good ripples. It made the idea of dying and hell that much easier to deal with, knowing that maybe he had made a difference. As simple a notion as it was, it eased the weight on his chest a little.