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in the valley of red-hot steel and fire

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You took a self-defense course at the local police academy, but it didn't prepare you to actually defend yourself, not really. You know how to fight back, where the pressure points are, how to keep from being a victim, but none of those really matter when you've been drugged and forced into a dress that looks like something you've only seen in movies. You're glad you were taught to fire a handgun, but you wonder what Officer Gary would say if you told him you shot a… thing that had intended to make you its bride. He'd probably arrest you and tell you to plead insanity. It might be a good idea, later, after you've processed all of this.

But for the moment, you're sitting on the bed covered in ruby-red satin sheets, staring at the melting puddle of creature that you just shot. When you look up, Dean and his brother are staring at you like maybe you've grown two heads and all you can do is blink at them in shock.

Dean's the first to take action, stepping around the mess of black velvet and slime on the floor to sit next to you. He takes the gun from your shaking hands, unloading it with practiced ease. Officer Gary would probably call him a natural.

"A natural, huh?" he asks, and you realize you said that out loud.

It brings you out of the shock long enough to really look at Dean, and then you burst into near-hysterical laughter because he looks like a VonTrapp family reject, lederhosen and all.

He glances down at himself and shakes his head and laughs, too. The tension knotted in your chest eases a little and you think that maybe you'll be okay.

Dean stands up, taking your hand and pulling you with him. "Come on, Jamie. I'll take you home. Sam'll take care of this."

You're not sure what take care of this means, exactly, but really, you don't want to know. You let Dean lead you up the gothic staircase and through a normal house - Lucy's house - to where his car is parked outside.

The drive to your apartment is mostly silent, words only spoken when you need to point out directions. Dean pulls to the curb in front of your building, and you offer him coffee, hoping he'll say yes.

He does, and you lead him inside, praying that Mrs. Vandermeer doesn't catch you as you walk up the stairs. She already doesn't approve of you, and bringing Dean – in lederhosen no less – to your apartment at god-knows-what hour will only fuel the old biddy's fire. You reach your door safely, but it's not until it clicks shut behind you and the deadbolt slides into place that you relax.

"Kitchen's this way," you say, kicking off your shoes and flipping on the lights as you walk. Dean follows silently behind you.

You ask him how he likes his coffee as you bang around the cupboards, and he answers, "Black."

"Like your soul?" It's supposed to be a joke, but he doesn't laugh.

"Something like that," he murmurs.

You're not sure how to take that, but he doesn't seem offended enough to walk out, so you busy yourself with setting the timer and getting two mismatched mugs from the cabinet.

Silence reigns as you wait for the coffee to percolate. The hiss and drizzle are a welcome relief and you rush to pour him a cup.

He takes the offered mug from you and murmurs, "We make a fine pair."

"We look like we just stepped out of a B-movie," you answer wryly, sipping at your coffee before deciding you don't really want it – too edgy as it is without the extra caffeine. You set it on the counter and wrap your arms around yourself.

"But it was a great B-movie."

You're not so sure about that, and a shudder runs through you as you think of Lucy. "So is this – is this what you do?"

"If you mean, drink coffee in a hot chick's kitchen while wearing something straight from Heidi, no. If you mean kill the big bad before it kills any more people? Yeah. Except usually the damsels don't save themselves."

You blush at that. "What can I say? If I had waited on you to rescue me, we probably wouldn't be here right now."

You were going for humor again, but it fails miserably. Dean looks like he's about to say something serious or profound, but you don't want gravity right now. You've had more than enough of that for the night. Before he can speak, you close the distance between the two of you and kiss him.

He wasn't expecting it, but he doesn't take long to react. Vaguely you hear the clink of a mug on the counter, and then one hand is cradling your head as the other traces along your side. You jump away before blushing again. "Sorry," you mutter. "Ticklish."

He snorts. "I barely touched you."

"I know." You move toward him again, and this time he wraps an arm around you, his hand pressed into the small of your back.

"This better?"

"Much." You pause. "Except it'd be a lot more comfortable if we weren't in the kitchen."

Dean laughs lowly. "I like the way you think."

You lead him to your room, where you catch sight of yourself in the vanity mirror. You really do look like B-movie rejects.

Not that it matters much, since Dean seems intent on undressing you as quickly as possible. He undoes the zipper and starts to slide his hands around your waist when you jump again.

You apologize, and he laughs into your ear. "Just how ticklish are you?"

You look up at him. "Very," you answer seriously. "It's an affliction." It's sort of a lie; you've always been ticklish, true, but tonight you're especially tense.

"An affliction, huh?" Dean's hands are doing a tapdance along your thighs, pulling the heavy fabric of your dress up your legs.

You slap at them when he makes you jump a third time. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Trying to find all your ticklish spots," he rumbles into your shoulder. "Is it working?"

"No!" you laugh.

"Don't believe you." He lets go of the dress anyway and wraps his arms around your waist, half-carrying, half-dragging you to the bed. He sits and places you on his lap and resumes hiking the dress up your legs. You push his hands away and stand up. He reaches for you, but you straddle his legs and he glances up at you in surprise.

Still, he's got his hands back beneath your dress in moments, and you're working on pulling the suspenders off his shoulders as he tries to completely undress you. You push him down so he's lying half on the bed and unbutton his shirt slowly, kissing his chest as you go. You trace the tattoo over his heart with your fingers.

"What's it mean?"

"It's an anti-possession charm. Keeps me safe."

You nod – few things could seem less odd than anti-possession tattoos after tonight – and keep working your way down until you undo the last button. You slide up again, kissing him as you slip your hands under his shirt to brush it down his shoulders. He surprises you when he hisses as you brush against what feels like a scar – the first one, you realize, that you've found on him.

Dean reaches for your hand, but you're too quick. The fabric slides off his shoulder and reveals a handprint-shaped burn on his shoulder. Even in the dim light of your bedroom, it looks awful, a thousand times worse than that sunburn your sister got when you were in high school and she refused to wear sunscreen when you went to the beach. It's massive against his shoulder, inches larger than your own long hands. You touch it lightly and suppress a shudder at the feel of crackled flesh beneath your fingers.

"What – what happened?"

He answers with a non sequitor. "Jamie, do you believe in Heaven?"

You're agnostic bordering on atheist, but your parents raised you Presbyterian. "Yeah, I guess," you say, not sure what that has to do with anything.

"And Hell?"

"I… don't know." You try to move away from him, the turn of the conversation making you uncomfortable, but Dean's holding your arms firmly and won't let go.

"I was dead for four months this summer," he says. "As in buried-six-feet-under kind of dead. An angel pulled me out of Hell. That – the scar – that's where he put his hand as he raised me."


"Impossible?" He laughs, dry and brittle. "Believe me, I know. But it's true." He lets go of one arm, brushes a hand against your cheek as he lifts himself from the bed again. He kisses you softly, like he's saying goodbye. "I should—"

He's going to say go, but you press your hand over his mouth. He tenses, eyes wide.

"Stop talking." You take your hand away as he relaxes and finish pulling his shirt down his arms. Next to go are his pants; he helps to shuck them, so he's lying on your bed in nothing but briefs and knee-high socks. It shouldn't be nearly as attractive as it is.

You roll the socks down his legs one at a time, trying not to laugh at how pale and thin his calves are. You stand and he follows you with lazy eyes. You blush when you notice his erection straining against his briefs, feeling almost as ridiculously nervous as you did when you lost your virginity to Kenny Snyder after your junior prom. You take a deep breath and undo the snaps of the dress's halter, letting the white fabric pool at your feet.

The laziness is gone from his eyes now, replaced with something between lust and admiration. You move toward him, and he shifts so that he's fully on the bed. You join him, and he pulls you close, brushing a hand against your side again. You squirm, and he grins widely, only to flip you so that you're lying on your back.

He kisses you deeply, and you surge up as he draws away. He trails kisses down your neck, peppering them along your collarbones and nuzzling your breasts. His five o'clock shadow scratches against you, but he kisses the pain away and trails further down your stomach. He licks at the little silver scar from when you had your appendix removed, treating it with the same reverence you treated his tattoo.

He moves further down your hip, tugging at your panties as he goes. Dean mutters something – you think it's "Off," but you're not entirely sure because your panties are down past your knees and he's mouthing at the crease between pelvis and thigh.

It doesn't take him long to have you clutching at the sheets. You tug at his head and he looks up at you with a raised eyebrow before ducking back between your legs.

It's obvious he's done this before – he seems to know all of your weak spots and attacks them with fervor. Deft fingers press into you as he sucks at your clit. He's driving you crazy, your legs shaking as he holds them apart, when suddenly he stops. He drags a hand down one leg, pulling your foot toward his face. He kisses the sole, and you kick at his chin hard enough to express your annoyance. He smirks and licks just beneath the pads of your toes. It sends you lurching upward; he's found another ticklish spot.

"Fucking tease," you mutter, but it's hard not to grin back at him. He kisses his way back up your leg, his fingers preceding his lips until they're rubbing circles around your clit. He replaces them with his tongue, and you're back where you started, with his fingers crooking inside of you.

He huffs a hot breath against you and licks a stripe up your cunt; his fingers twist sharply and that's it. You moan, clenching around his hand.

He's kissing your lips in moments, salt on his tongue, and a wet hand trails up your stomach to rub at your breast. You can feel his cock pressing against your side, and you realize he's still wearing his briefs.

"Why aren't you naked?" you ask without thinking.

Dean chuckles. "I was waiting for your command, oh damsel."

"Well then, Prince Charming," you say with a laugh, "unclothe yourself."

"Yes ma'am." He wriggles out of the briefs, tossing them somewhere across the room; you hope you can find them later.

You start to reach for him but stop and roll over to your night stand. When you turn back to him, he has a puzzled look on his face. "Condom," you reply to his unasked question.

He simply nods and takes the foil packet from you, opening it and rolling it on quickly.

"Impatient are we?" you joke as he pulls you toward him.

"You have no idea," he breathes against your neck as he pushes into you.

He comes quickly – much faster than you'd expected after all of his attentiveness – shuddering with a wet groan against your shoulder. He pulls out, leaving you feeling strung out and empty. "Sorry," he murmurs as he ties off the condom and drops it in the trashcan by your bed, and again you think of Kenny, who'd left you decidedly unsatisfied.

"It's okay," you start to say, but it ends in a gasp when he replaces his cock with his fingers.

He's agonizingly slow, fingers rubbing lazy circles, until he finally slows to a stop. You think he's just trying to draw it out, make it good for you, but he lets loose with a nasal snore. He's asleep at your side, completely at peace, and you can't find it in yourself to be angry, even though you're wired. You pull his hand away from you and finish the job yourself, quick and rough until you're flying apart. You press a kiss to his forehead and join him in sleep.

You wake up cold, and it takes you a moment to realize that something's missing from your bed. You sit up and see Dean seated at the window, silhouetted by the streetlamp outside. "You okay?"

He startles a little, but looks at you with a small smile. "Yeah."

The clock on the bedside table says it's nearing four. "Come back to bed?"

He rejoins you, sliding under the blankets with a sigh. He lies in silence, staring up at the ceiling.

"You sure you're okay?"

"Hmm?" He glances at you and smiles reassuringly. "Yeah. Just tired."

You smirk. "I noticed."

His eyes go wide, and you're sure that if you put you hand on his face, you'd be able to feel the warmth from his blush. "Did I—?"


"Shit. I'm sorry." He frowns comically. "I usually—" You put a hand to his mouth again; you don't really want to hear about what he usually does.

"Anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?" You pull your hand away. "You're leaving in the morning?"

He nods, and you nod back.

"Of course. Have to save the world and all that. Can't rely on all the damsels to save themselves." You sigh dramatically. "We probably won't see each other ever again, so we might as well make the most of it, right?" A smirk plays at your lips. "If you're feeling up to it, that is."

"Oh, hell yes," he breathes, pulling you close for a kiss.

When you come up for air, you can't help but quip, "And no falling asleep this time, G-man."

"Scout's honor."

When you wake again, it's daylight outside, and Dean is still beside you. He's watching you intently, like you might disappear if he blinks.


"Hey yourself." You stretch languidly, yawning, before announcing, "I need a shower."

You pull clothes out of your closet and head toward the bathroom, pausing at the door to say, "Are you coming?"

He joins you quickly, following you into the streaming water.

You make out lazily under the spray for a few minutes. Dean takes the shampoo bottle from you and washes your hair, combing through it with his fingers. It's relaxing, and you sigh contentedly.

"Don't fall asleep on me," he murmurs in your ear.

You smirk up at him. "Okay, G-man."

You kiss him again, frowning when you end up with soap in your mouth. He deepens the kiss, pushing you up against the tile, uncaring when half your soaps clatter to the floor. He strokes your side, chuckling when you jump, but you pull away with a groan.

"We should get dressed." Before he can distract you, you duck out from underneath him, rinse the last of the soap from your body, and slip out of the shower and into the steam-filled bathroom.

You're wrapping a towel around yourself when he sticks his head out of the shower. "Hey, I don't have any clothes."

You'd forgotten about that. "Um, I can get you clothes from your car?"

"Yeah, okay. My stuff's in the green duffle in the trunk, clean clothes on the side with the pocket. Keys are on your kitchen table. I think."

You dress quickly, find his keys, and head out to the car.

All of his clothes either have holes or unidentifiable stains on them, with the exception of that cheap suit he was wearing when you first met. You finally grab a henley, jeans, and a pair of (hopefully fresh) boxers and take them back inside.

You find Dean standing in your kitchen, wearing that hideous pink bathrobe your grandmother gave you for Christmas the year before she died. He's slathering butter on a slice of toast, and you can smell bacon frying. As he works, he hums something utterly tuneless that could be rock or could be Mozart, oblivious to the fact that you're watching him putter around your kitchen like he lives here.

"I didn't know that breakfast was part of the package," you say at last.

He doesn't startle; he wasn't as oblivious as you thought. "It's a one-time only offer." He turns, holding out a plate full of food. "Hungry?"

Your mouth starts watering at the mere sight of a bacon-and-egg smiley face. "Starving." You begin to sit at the counter when you remember your hands are full. "Oh, your clothes."

"Thanks." He joins you at the counter, taking the clothes and setting them on the extra stool.

You eat in silence, things suddenly awkward between you, even though they shouldn't be. You're about to say something when a guitar riff erupts from near the stove.

"My phone," Dean says, sliding off his seat and grabbing the cell. "Yeah?" A brief pause while whoever it is – probably his brother – talks. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Look, give me… twenty minutes? I'm almost done with breakfast." Another pause. "Shut up, bitch." It's said good-naturedly, affirming your guess.

He hangs up and rejoins you. "Pissy younger brothers," he says, rolling his eyes. "Sam's itching to hit the road. Don't know why, after all there's another day or two of Oktoberfest, right?"

You snort. "Yeah, though they probably won't be half as interesting as the past few."

He grins. "True, true."

You lapse into silence again. You're picking at your food when a thought crosses your mind. "Hey, I never did get to—"

Before the words are out of your mouth, Dean's up and putting his dishes in the sink, saying, "I better get dressed and go or Sammy's gonna be in a mood all day." He grabs his clothes and heads straight for the bathroom. He returns in a couple minutes, dressed and jangling his keys as he walks to the door.

"I'll come with you," you say, not giving him a chance to say no before you're heading out the door.

When you catch up with Sam, you thank them both, glad that you have a chance to do so. Sam's gracious, but Dean looks embarrassed, like he's not sure what to make of your words. It makes you wonder just how often they're actually thanked.

They offer you a ride back to your apartment, but you decline, deciding that you want to stay in the company of people today.

When you get back home later that night, you go into the bathroom. There's a note on the counter with a barely-legible phone number: If you ever need anything…