We sat in the common room with all the others. Sam next to Jess, his arm slung around her, Charlie on the floor explaining some drinking game that somehow had something to do with Lord Of The Rings while Cas watched her with a look of pure confusion on his face. Kevin and Lisa were intently listening, even though she threw Dean some glances from time to time that even Cas couldn’t help but notice. Dean looked down and grinned.
“So, who’s up for Drink Yourself Into Middle Earth?” Charlie asked enthusiastically, probably expecting some whoops or cheers. “Those are way too many rules to memorize!” Lisa complained. “That’s why I printed them out right here.” In a dramatic gesture, she pulled out something ancient looking. “How old were you when you printed that out? Four?” Dean shook his head. Our eyes met. “Dude, is that real parchment?” Kevin slid over to inspect the rules of Drink Yourself Into Middle Earth. “Nah, dude, but I spent a good amount of money to get it to look that way. So y’all owe me stuff if anybody pukes on it.” Sam laughed at that and received an appreciative glance from Charlie. “So, I brought the blu-rays, who was responsible for the liquor today?” She looked at our round. Yup, Charlie definitely was our mom-friend. Jess raised her hand. “We still got some from what we bought yesterday.” “Me too.” Lisa added with a glance at Dean. At the same time, I raised my eyebrows at him.
He cleared his throat. “Guys, I don’t think we can make it today.” “What?” Cas said, startled. There might have been actual tears in Charlie’s eyes. “You say that now? This drinking game is my child, look at all the work I put into it!” “She’s right, what changed your mind so suddenly?” Jess asked while Lisa whistled a low “Boo.” Sam sat up straight, though. “No, think about it, Dean’s right.” Charlie’s groan interrupted him, but he went on: “Each movie is three hours long-“ (“More than three hours, we’re watching the Extended Editions. We’re not savages!” Guess who muttered that under her breath.) “- and it’s 9 PM. We need to be up for breakfast tomorrow.”
Kevin nodded solemnly. Dean added: “Plus, Adam already told Dad yesterday already when I came to bed at 3 and woke him up. Mom scolded me for half an hour about nine-year-olds needing a healthy amount of sleep.” “Oh, and why’d you go to bed at 3? You left at eleven already, not alone if I remember correctly” Sam teases and everyone looks at Dean and Lisa, who was blushing. Dean just grinned. “That’s off the point. I’m saying we can’t watch all three movies.” “All three masterpieces” Charlie corrected. “How about we watch just one?” Cas suggested, only to be gasped at by Charlie in an indignant way. Then she shrugged: “One is better than none, is what I always say.” “About what?” Cas asked, confounded. “Right now, LOTR movies. Every other context I do not feel obliged to share with you.” She wiggled her eyebrows and I wasn’t the only one to snicker. “So we watch the first one. Jess, Lisa, you get our booze and Sam, why don’t you make sure Adam’s asleep? We don’t need him walking in here while Aragorn smooches an elven princess to then have the birds-and-bees-talk with him.” Definitely the mom-friend.
“What do we do?” I asked, pointing at Kevin, Dean and myself. “I don’t care. If I were you, I’d call dibs on the best seats on the couch. I shouldn’t have said that.” She deepened her voice for the last part and laid on a thick accent, probably to imitate Hagrid. Before the others got back, I was lodged between the two guys, my feet up on the coffee table. Dean nudged my shoulder. “The sober part is going to be hard.” I nudged back. “You promised.” Charlie turned to us. “What’s up?” “Listen… wouldn’t it be smarter to do the drinking game when we watch the next two movies in a row?” “Dean Winchester, are you suggesting not to do a drinking game?” Her eyes narrowed. “I mean, the movie’s pretty great itself, we don’t need to be plastered to enjoy it.” “Very truly spoken.” Charlie nodded and for a second, I was convinced that this was it. Until she jumped on Dean, holding two fingers dangerously close to his eyes. “Who are you and since when have you been possessing Dean?!”
The door opened and Sam, Jess and Lisa stared at us, dumbfounded. “Dean’s possessed.” Charlie explained and pulled at his collar. Lisa giggled. Dean swatted her off him and she sat down next to him before anyone else could take the last seat on the couch. “No, seriously, what’s up?” I bent over Dean to explain silently: “It was my idea. You know he’s the worst of us with all the alcohol, I thought it wouldn’t do any bad if he just skipped it for one day.” A straight-out lie, but somewhat close enough to the truth for me to deliver it convincingly. Dean pushed my blonde hair out of his face before I sat back down properly. Charlie nodded and addressed the others. “An anonymous Tolkinite has suggested that we watch only the first movie without consuming … how do you say alcohol in a posh way?” Before Sam can shine with the perfect answer, god bless him, Cas sighs sadly. “No, no, my fellow hobbitses, do not be disappointed, because it is only that way that we can fully appreciate the brilliant cinematic devices and high acting performances.” “Are you going to talk like that all evening?” I asked. “Hell yeah” came the unexpected answer.
“I don’t think I’d be a hobbit. I’ve always seen myself as the elf type of person.” Jess interjected. “I definitely am a hobbit.” Kevin muttered and Charlie hit the play button.
When the movie was over, the room was emptied of all oxygen but full of comfortable silence. Charlie had mouthed along to 80% of the lines, during the other twenty she was busy covering her face and/or wailing because of what she called the feels. Jess was snuggled up against Sam in the big armchair and Cas and Lisa had one each, even though everyone knew too well that she’d have preferred my seat next to Dean, but it was to everyone’s content that those two didn’t get it on with us all around. “This somehow doesn’t get less amazing the more often I watch it.” Kevin was the first to speak, earning an appreciative fist bump from Charlie. “So Cas, how’d you like it?” Dean asked, since this had been Cas’ first time watching it. He hadn’t been a part of our group for a long time, just like Lisa.
“It was very interesting. Just one question, if Gandalf is such an amazing wizard, couldn’t he have cast a spell to take care of the burning giant monkey?” I toppled over laughing while Charlie’s face turned almost as red as her hair. “First off, your burning giant monkey is the Balrog of Morgoth, an ancient creature. A creature so ancient and powerful, that not even a wizard as skilled as Gandalf could’ve…” She broke into an elaborate explanation, taking the full bottles of booze to re-enact the battle.
Sam and Jess got up. “Guys, we’ll be off.” “What? Already?” Lisa frowned. “It’s like 1 AM already. We’re going for a run at seven.” “Voluntarily? Ugh, you’re nuts!” That’s how Dean said good night to his brother after thoroughly ruffling his hair. Kevin went up to the door next with the explanation that he still had an essay to work on. “Who brings essays to a weekend trip?” Dean complained. What a hooligan. But he was the next to get up right after Cas left, reasoning with little Adam who shouldn’t be woken up again. Lisa’s frown grew. I was still laying on the couch with my feet up the coffee table. When Dean lingered at the doorframe, he gave me an almost undetectable wink. As soon as the door closed, Lisa turned to me. “What’s up with you?” “With me?” “With you two!” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She threw me a doubting gaze. Then, with a “Whatever” she left, too.
I looked at Charlie, who was sorting together the blu-rays. “Is she jealous because I sat next to him?” The redhead turned to me. “Girl, I’m the last person you should ask, you know I don’t get you straight people. Maybe it’s because you and Dean have always been so close and she only met him weeks ago?” “Yeah, but there’s nothing going on between him and me.” Charlie tilted her head. “Didn’t he just wink at you? While his girlfriend, lover, hook-up, call it whatever you like it, I don’t think they’ve defined it, was in the same room?” So maybe it hadn’t been as undetectable as I thought. “That was about something else.” “Alright, sure. As long as nobody gets hurt really bad.” “You know I like Lisa. She actually is a nice girl, but she’s acting like I’m trying to snatch something from her that she doesn’t even have and that I don’t even want.” Charlie pulled the grumpy-cat expression before answering: “If those two talked it out, and then you and her talked it out and then you and Dean talked it out, I’m just saying that things would be a lot easier.” “Life doesn’t work that way, Charlie.” “I know. People don’t communicate. Just like Frodo and Sam during this movie.” She nodded at me and had finished packing up her things. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” “See ya.” We smiled at each other and she left the room almost soundlessly, leaving me to stare at the empty black screen.
Bored, I took out my phone to find a message from Garth containing nothing but emojis. It was up to my imagination to guess which level of high he was right now. Deciding I’d answer later, I put it back away again and the door opened.
“You’re quick.” I remarked with a smirk. “Sly as the Pink fucking Panther.” Dean grinned at me. “Don’t you mean Black Panther from the MCU?” “No, I don’t. What’s our plan?” When I spotted the glow in his insanely green eyes, I realized I wasn’t even slightly tired. “We’ll just make this up as we go. The usual, I suppose.” I opened the window to feel a welcome breeze on my skin. “After you, princess.” He hopped out and gave me a dirty look: “That was only so you could look at my butt. I ain’t a princess.” With a grimace, I jumped after him and replied: “That was the most princess-y answer you could’ve given.” We walked over the spring grass, barely able to make our way in the dark, until we reached the bike stash behind the house.
“That’s your play?” Dean raised both eyebrows at me. “What? You see a ladder around here?” I sassed him and he looked down at me with that smirk only I seemed to get. Like yeah, you are cocky, small, and angry, but I like you anyway. I could never decide whether it was an insult or a compliment. As silently as we could, we pulled the biggest bike over to the house and leaned it against the wall. “Is it stable?” I asked. “No, this is a normal house.” For that, he received a punch to the shoulder. A bit less than a minute he spent whining about, then he pinched my side and we were okay. That’s how it went most times. I stepped on the saddle even though it shook slightly and stretched out to reach the roof gutter. “Can you give me a boost?” After some puttering around or whatever it was I didn’t see because I was in no position to look downwards, he pushed me up from behind and I grabbed a hold of the gutter. It dangerously bent downwards and I hovered in the air for a moment, holding my breath. “You okay?” Dean sounded worried. All I did was breathe. Either this thing was going to break, or it was going to hold me, so I emptied my mind and pulled myself up slowly. My arms ached and I could feel the sweat running down my forehead, but I needed less time than I expected to. “Okay, I’m up!” I whisper-shouted down and peered over the roof’s edge I was barely sitting on. “Jo, if the gutter didn’t even hold you, I’ll take the whole thing with me. This isn’t going to work.” “Grab my hand, stupid.” I reached out with my arm, making sure that I was lodged safely enough to pull us both up. His cold palm slapped into mine and my fingers locked around his arm as his did the same. “Push yourself off!” “I am pushing! I can’t just-“ And he grabbed the gutter with one hand, it gave a deafening screech as I pulled as hard as I could.
By the end of it, the bike had fallen over, half of the roof gutter had come off and we were lying next to each other on the roof, breathless. “This is what birthing a child must be like!” Dean groaned and held his tummy. “Bruh, you have no idea about life.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He rolled over to peek down. “We might have woken up some wild kittens. And our stable way down is gone.” “Let’s worry about that when we need to get off.” I stared up at the dark sky. For a minute or something, he joined me. Then he went: “Anything you wanna say?” I could have sworn this kid got ADHD or something. “Yeah. Please don’t touch my butt ever again unless I ask you to.” He sat up and raised his hands in a defensive motion. “This was an emergency situation! You asked for a boost, and let’s face it, this roof is pretty high! You know I’d never come onto you like that. My flirting techniques are more elaborate than this.” But I only grinned and shook my head. “Are they.” Before he could explain, I continued: “Is that what’s going on with Lisa, then.” He hesitated a moment, then answered: “If I’m being honest, I have no idea what’s going on with Lisa. I think she thinks it’s more serious than I think it is. How could she have missed I’m not one for relationships? I mean, we’re just fooling around.” “You think that she thinks you think? That must be ten points for diversity of word choice. I’m really surprised Sam’s the one leaving for Stanford this summer, not you.” “Oh shut up.” He softly punched my arm.
That’s how it’s always been between us. Teases, slight bullying, and puns. Sometimes it felt hard to believe that we’d known each other for fifteen years. “But I didn’t come all the way up here to discuss Lisa. Can we go sit on the roof ridge?” Dean offered me his hand and we insecurely walked over the steep roof. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible, wrapped in by cold and night. “Are you surprised I went through with this?” He asked after a while. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you break a promise, so I expected nothing less. I am surprised you ditched Lisa for me though.” A self-satisfied smile played around his full lips. Then he slapped on a ridiculous posh British accent to say: “Mates before dates, you know what I’m saying.” “I’m flattered.” My long blonde curls blew in the wind and I shivered in spite of several layers of flannel. “Want my jacket?” Dean held out his Dad’s leather jacket. “Nah, I’m good. I don’t want a princess to freeze.” He threw his neck down in a silent laugh, then leaned on his knees. “What time is it?” “Bit past two AM.” I replied, checking my watch. “Just as we planned then, young Miss Harvelle.”
Half a year ago, when our parents had set up the date for our weekend trip, I'd made Dean promise me to have a sober conversation on a rooftop somewhat after one AM. Right after that, we had written about travelling around the world together, but no promises were made then, that was just the sort of texts you send when talking to a close friend after a while. Here we were. He turned to look at me. “So, what d’you wanna talk about? Nihilism? The inevitable fate of dying? Cute boys?” I laughed. “Those subjects sound amazing. I’ll take all of them any time.”
When we were around other people, he wasn’t like this. Of course, he was still nice and even flirty at times, but getting to see a serious Dean Winchester was a rare occasion and I found myself lucky to be here. Almost out of habit, I slipped a small butterfly knife out of my boot to start playing around with it. “Have you been carrying that around all day?” Was it concern in his voice? Admiration? “You know I have.” Open. Close. Repeat. “I never understood what it was with you and knives.” “They’re small. Personal. Always there for me.” “Meh. You know I’m more of the shotgun kind of person, ever since Dad let me use one on our first hunt.” “I know. You smell like gunpowder right now.” “Do I?” “Yeah. And pie.” That made Dean laugh.
“We’re still getting married at thirty, right?” He picked up the conversation. When we were thirteen, I had quite a big crush on him and he proposed to me on a dare, to which I said yes. Since then, we’ve been engaged and it has kind of been our running joke. Even though I still thought his lips looked delicious and his eyes were to get lost in, I had put myself over those emotions. I wasn’t willing to risk our friendship for a crush. “Hell yes, we are. If neither of us finds someone better.” “Oh, please. You are the perfect wife. Look at you, a weapons fanatic and you’d raise our children in flannel shirts. What more could I ask for?” “Apart from making your perfect wife, I have a personality of my own as well, thank you very much.” I gave him the cold shoulder until he nudged me. “Come on. I’ll make you pancakes in the morning.” With a laugh, I dropped the act and laughed. “I’m all yours.” Jokes like these made my stomach tingly, but both of us knew there wasn’t more to it. Hell, he probably was going to come by Lisa’s room after we were done here. But I wouldn’t let that ruin our moment.
“Sometimes I feel like the whole world is crashing around me and all I can do is stand and watch.” He blurted out. See, that’s what I'd wanted a nighttime conversation for. If the sun had been up, all he would have gotten for an answer would be a laugh and a high-pitched “Whaaat?!” Now, I silently nodded. “It doesn’t even have to make sense, I’ll be standing in the local gas station and suddenly feel like shit. The world doesn’t make any fucking sense.” “I guess I’ve come to terms with that.” I replied calmly. “How do you do something like that? Yeah, life is pointless, but I’ll just move on?” Dean looked directly into my eyes, the despair he’d been so keen to hide now all over him. As I put the answer right in my head, I ran my hands through my hair. Fuck gender roles, girls do that just as much as boys. Well, maybe they don’t, but I do. “You have to draw the line between the world is pointless and life is pointless. One makes you realistic, the other suicidal. You’re not suicidal, are you?” My words were low and entirely serious. Another discussion we probably would’ve never had in broad daylight. “No, I don’t think so. I just think about death a lot, who I would die for, who I would kill for…” His rough voice fades to leave silence for me to fill with an answer. “I do, too. Who is it for you?” “Sammy, of course. Uncle Bobby. My parents. You too, probably.” “Don’t be ridiculous.” “I’m not! I’m serious.” “We barely see each other any more.” “Yeah, well. That doesn’t change anything.” “Lucky we aren’t living in a world that regularly faces you with choices of whether to die for someone or not. It seems you’d go to hell for anyone in need of that much.”
I studied his face that was left of all childish expression. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I hit him with a shovel on the playground? “This regular world seems numb to me most times. Like you need to try so hard to feel… anything. That can’t be right, can it?” He went over my statement and thought I wouldn’t notice, but that was okay. “No, it is numb. Everyone is either convincing the others they’re having a great time being alive or they’ve even convinced themselves. There are simple people, rich people and powerful people. The last two are the same kind. And all of them are fooling themselves.” “Which kind are we?” He asked huskily. “Oh, we’re none of the above. We’re not fooling ourselves. We’re white, and privileged, and we have all means necessary to fill our brains up with fake happiness, but we’re not buying it. Not now, at least.” It took a moment for him to let that sink in. Meanwhile, I allowed my eyes to wander over his ruffled dark blonde hair, his scruff, his bowlegs. “You’re saying there is no real happiness.” Dean concluded. “Meh. I’m trying to say, even if there is happiness, it can never last. That’s just the course of this world.”
“What about love, though?” What a strange thing to come from his mouth. “That can’t last either.” “But you love your mom. I love Sammy, I know I do - Isn’t that the whole question with who I would die and kill for?” “My mom can be a huge pain in the butt, as you should know, but … maybe you’re right. I usually avoid thinking about love.” “Why?” Because it always comes back to you, Dean. “I don’t know. It’s too big to grasp, and then I feel tiny and unimportant and need to listen to some really loud music to avoid losing myself. Does that make sense?” As soon as the words were out, I realized I’d never talked to anyone about this. “No way. That’s what I always do. What do you listen to?” “The usual. The Ramones. AC/DC. Metallica.” “We. Would. Be. The. Best. Married. Couple. Ever.” “Get back to me on that when you’re thirty and desperate.” Still, I smirked, “Didn’t you just say you’d take a bullet for me too?”
Dean didn’t hesitate for a second. “Damn right. I just told you I love you, Jo Harvelle.” “I love you too, man.” I rested my head on his shoulder and even though my heart was jumping insanely quickly in my chest, this felt like the most peaceful moment of my life. “Did you just hardcore friend-zone me?” He asked silently. “Dean, we’ve been friend-zoning each other for years.” It was like he only realized that now. “Funny.” I thought about answering you think?, but then went with what came blubbering out of my mouth instead. “It’s better that way, you know. Because I don’t think the romantic kind of love is made to last. It either turns into the familial type, or it just fades.” Underneath my ear, I felt him nodding slowly. “You sound like you’re not having the time of your life making experiences with boys.” “This isn’t about the experiences I’ve made, it’s what I see all over the place.” “Even Brangelina split up.” Dean agreed. “You can’t still be upset about that?” “I am!” Both of us laughed.
“But, like, honestly. Just imagine you’re an alien and look at it from an outsider’s perspective -“ “Imagine you’re an alien? You do that a lot?” To punch his shoulder, I had to lift my head off it but that was a loss I was willing to take. “I’m trying to say something serious here! Like I said, outside perspective, isn’t it fucking weird that humans put their faces against each other’s to show their affection? I never quite understood that.”
It came to my mind that maybe our 3 AM sober conversations were in some ways even worse than our 3 AM drunk conversations. Almost as strange. “A lot of things humans do are fucking weird. But personally, I like the putting faces together part, assuming you meant kissing.” Dean looked at me for confirmation, so I said “Yeah.” “Are you scared to fall in love?” He asked out of fucking nowhere. “That’s a thing to ask. First off, I have no idea what that means. So I suppose yes, because it seems not quite realistic and …frightening? Like, hell no I’m not up to give myself away entirely and let all of my emotions depend on one sole person. That’s also why I don’t think that’s gonna happen to me anytime soon.” “You're never supposed to see it coming, are you?” “When did you become an expert on this?” “I watch soap operas, Jo.” “How could I forget?” Then I remembered his question, and asked: “Are you scared?” “You can’t ask a man if he’s scared.” Another soft punch to his bicep. Damn, he must’ve been working on those. “I’m not taking shit about gender roles, Dean. Are you scared?” “I’m curious, that’s what I am. Everyone’s making such a fuss about it, and I fail to see the point. And maybe I’m a little fucking scared too, because it must be a real big thing.” I hesitated, then added: “Like god?” “Did you just say you’re scared of god?” “No, I said that’s another big subject everyone’s making a fuss about, and I have no idea what to think of it.” Dean took a second to stare into the stars. Was it out of superstition, because everyone thought heaven was in the sky? “Join the club, Harvelle.” “Who’s in it?” “Me, myself and I. God isn’t a subject I casually discuss with people.”
Then, after a second of silence, he murmured: “Sammy still prays.” Silence folded its arms around us and once more I felt the breeze. “That’s a nice thing, isn’t it? That he has faith?” “Yeah… I’m just afraid that maybe his dreams and ambitions will come crashing down on him and the last thing I want is for him… for Sammy to loose his happiness.” Calmly, I put my hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “There is no reason all of that would happen. All of us know that if he doesn’t belong into Stanford, no one does. And he’s so happy with Jess, they’re probably even going to marry.” “But what if everything goes south? You can’t trust life to work your way.” When he looked towards me again, I pulled the corners of my lips up. “Even if he falls and everything fails, you’ll still be there for him, you know that. I think what you’re really afraid of is letting your little brother grow up.” His eyebrows shot upwards. “Don’t talk bullshit, Jo.” And I knew I was right, and I knew he wouldn’t ever admit it. My hand went back into my lap and I let him go on: “You really think Sam is going to marry Jess?” I shrugged. “Well, probably. Look at their relationship, they’re like a married couple already, and they’re so close. I don’t think they’d grow tired of each other.” “I thought you said romantic love isn’t made to last?” “I stick with that. Those two don’t exclude each other.” With a look at my watch, I noted: “It’s three.” Dean let out a barking laughter. “It’s three AM and I’m discussing my brother’s romance life on top of a roof with my best friend. I should stay sober more often.” “Your alcohol problems are even worse than you let on, huh.” Dean shrugged, leaning further over his knees. “I just feel a lot like I need to numb out the world.” “Yeah.” “You’re not gonna lecture me?” “I’m in no place to tell you how to cope with reality. Just to remind you, I collect knives, and not to look at them.” He exhaled noisily, then silently asked: “Yeah, what’s up with that?” “They feel good in my hands. I feel not so powerless, not so tiny any more. Like I could fucking fight anyone anytime. I sound like a psychopath saying it.” “That’s okay.”
His deep voice was reassuring, just like the fact that he didn’t say: No, you don’t. Because I knew I did. And I realized, that he was the only person I’d believed the “That’s okay.” Not the few female friends I’d had in middle school, when they'd told me it’s okay you lost the concert tickets. I hadn't wanted to fucking go anyway. They'd never tried to talk to me again after that. Not my mom when she was holding me, whispering into my hair it’s okay to cry when we’d just been told my dad wouldn’t ever wake up again. I didn’t want to cry, I wanted to break the whole continent and murder the responsible person. But there was no one. Just Dean. “You’re not that tiny, Jo. You’re average height.” His remark made me smirk, then I explained: “I don’t mean physically tiny, I mean… tiny to the world. Everything I do won’t matter.” Back to nihilism, we were. “It matters to the people close to you. That’s all you get.” “Sometimes I feel like all I get is not enough.” “I know what you mean.”
We stared into blackness, knowing we were no one to the stars, the world, the people only living next door. It had a relieving touch to it. No one would remember us in two hundred years, but right now we were free. And we were not alone.