You loaded up the car with a few items you wanted to take with you and sold the rest. Taking one last look at the place you had called home for the last 8 years in the rearview mirror, you settled in for the 42 hour drive from Charleston, South Carolina to Seattle, Washington. You figured at just shy of 3000, that should be far enough. You were taking a chance, relying on luck, which given the circumstances, was starting to seem like a bad idea.
You were currently riding in the passenger seat of a tow truck, your car having quit on you in the middle of small town South Dakota. The driver, Ellen, had tried her best to make it sound like everything would be fine.
She pulled up to Singer’s Salvage, which included an older two story house on a property of you guessed 10 acres.
“Hey, Dean. Got another one for you.” She called out into the yard as she climbed out of the truck and lowered your car to the ground. “Come on inside and I’ll get you something to drink while my boys have a look at your car.” She added.
“Be right there.” You heard a voice call back from under a nearby car. As you followed Ellen inside the house, you glanced back just in time to see the tall young man walking toward your car. You paused, taking in his features; his piercing green eyes, the way his hair spiked slightly on top, his bowlegs when he walked. He smiled and waved when he saw you and you tried to hide the blush you were sure appeared on your cheeks. With a short grin, you turned and went into the house.
“That’s our nephew, Dean.” She told you, closing the door behind you. “This here, is my husband, Bobby.” She added, pointed to an older man sitting behind a desk in his office. He glanced up quickly, acknowledging you before continuing with what he was working on.
Ellen gestured for you to sit down at the table in the kitchen, pouring a glass of tea for you. She sat down next to you and made idle conversation while the two of you waited, asking you where you were from and where you were headed. She was never too invasive with her questions, stopping just shy of wanting more than you were willing to provide.
“I have some books in the car. I think I’ll go get one of them and read for a bit.” You said after the two of you had sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Okay, honey. If you need anything, just let me know.” Ellen told you. You smiled in thanks. You liked her. She seemed to have just enough sass and kindness to put anyone at ease without coming across as a pushover.
You stepped outside and walked over to the car, trying not to pay too much attention to Dean as he was checking under the hood. As you got closer, he stood, closing the hood before he noticed you.
“Sorry, I just wanted to get a book out of the back.” You told him, not wanting to interrupt.
“No worries, I’m all done. I’m Dean by the way.” He said. “I’d offer a handshake, but….” He joked, holding up his hands to show them covered in grease.
“I’ll take a raincheck.” You said, smiling back at him. “Y/N. How does it look?” You asked, timidly.
“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.” He offered.
“I could use some good news today, let’s start with that.” You muttered.
“It’s just an alternator. It’s an easy fix and not too terribly expensive. With the right part, I can have you back on the road in a few hours.” Dean told her. You let out a breath of relief, smiling.
“That’s great news.” You started, and then paused when he grinned at you, remembering that was only half of the story. “Wait….what’s the bad news?”
“I can’t get the part until Monday.” He said, leaning against the car bumper. You felt your shoulders sink for a moment, and then shrugged it off, reminding yourself that it could be worse.
“Thanks. I’m going to go ask Ellen if she can give me a ride to the nearest motel.” You said, turning to go.
“There’s only one, but you may want to call ahead first. They may be full. Lots of people come back home for the festival.” He told you. You stopped and turned slowly.
“Festival?” You asked. He nodded.
“It’s a small town thing.” He said, trying not to chuckle at the look on your face. “Bobby has some extra rooms at the house. He will probably let you stay there until we get the car fixed.” Dean offered. You didn’t want to impose, but when you called the hotel and found out Dean was right, you didn’t have much choice.
You followed Ellen up the stairs to a modest, but comfortable bedroom just to the right of the top.
“The bathroom is across the hall, and please don’t feel like you have to stay up here. Just treat this like your own home. There are drinks in the fridge, just help yourself.” She told you.
“Thank you, Ellen. I’m sorry about imposing this way.” You told her for probably the third time that evening.
“You’re not.” Ellen said, taking a couple of blankets down from the top of the closet. “Here, Honey. It can get chilly at night.” She said, handing them to you. She smiled and left the room so you could unpack the overnight bag you pulled out of your car.
You read for a little while until you feel asleep to the quiet sounds of the country. Coyotes yapping in the distance, the wind in the trees around the back of the property, crickets playing a country soundtrack. You awoke just before midnight to an unfamiliar noise, but the house was quiet. You slid out of the bed and went to the window, looking out onto the salvage yard.
Dean stood in front of an older model Impala, the hood raised and a light hanging from the edge. He took a drink from a beer in his hand, setting it down on the edge of the car and leaning back over the motor. Even from that distance, you could see the muscles in his arms as he tightened a bolt down. You watched him for a few minutes, until he turned off the light and closed the hood of the car. He picked up the tools next to him, grabbed his beer, and walked into the travel trailer sitting next to where the car was.
The next morning, you didn’t remember falling back to sleep. You tiptoed across the hall to shower and dress before going downstairs. You made it half way down the staircase when you smelled coffee and food wafting from the kitchen.
“Good morning.” Bobby said from behind a newspaper.
“Good morning.” You replied.
“Just in time. Come have a seat. Breakfast is almost ready.” Ellen insisted, setting a plate of biscuits on the table.
You graciously took a seat opposite Bobby at the table and sipped on some of the orange juice that Ellen set down in front of you after declining coffee. You almost jumped when you heard the front door open and saw Dean step inside. He looked so different, so much younger, with the oil and grease gone, his hair still damp from a morning shower.
“Your brother make it in last night?” Bobby asked, setting the paper down.
“Nah, he text and said it would be some time this morning.” Dean answered, pouring coffee into a cup on the counter behind you. “He’s bringing Jess.” Dean added. You noticed Bobby raise an eyebrow.
“Really?” was all he said, exchanging a quick look with Dean.
“That’s what he said.” Dean shrugged, pulling out the chair next to you. “Hi.” He whispered when you glanced up at him. You smiled an answer, but didn’t have a chance to say much else.
“You boys stop that. I am thrilled to finally meet this girl.” Ellen said, putting the last plate down.
“Yes ma’am.” Bobby teased. Ellen leaned down and kissed his cheek before sitting at the table with the rest of you.
“There’s not much to do around here today, why don’t you take Y/N to that festival in town?” Ellen suggested.
“I was going to work on the car this morning and go meet Sam there after lunch.” He explained. “You are welcome to come if you want to. It’s got to beat sitting around here.” He told you, with a wink.
“Very funny.” Bobby growled before muttering “idgit” under his breath. Dean heard it and started laughing as Ellen just placed her hand over Bobby’s lovingly.
“Come on, help me get that generator started before you run off to your continued love affair with that car.” Bobby teased, standing up. Dean rolled his eyes, but followed Bobby out of the house.
“So, Dean lives here too?” You asked casually, sitting with Ellen. She nodded.
“For about 4 years now. Bobby and his dad were brothers.” Ellen said.
“Were?” You couldn’t stop yourself.
“John died when Dean was 19. Sam was still in high school, so they stayed in Lawrence until he graduated and then Dean moved up here to help out Bobby.” She said, looking at the door they had walked out of. You noticed the change in her usually happy tone, but you assumed it was because of the mention of Dean’s father passing away.
Ellen didn’t say anything else for a little while. She was too lost in her memories of the last 8 years. Dean had given up all of his own dreams when John died, so Sam could stay in the town he grew up in and graduate with his friends. When Sam graduated, he got plenty of scholarships, covering most of the cost of Stanford. Bobby and Ellen had covered the rest. After that first year, Dean sold their parents’ house to have the money to pay for the rest of Sam’s college. He never told Sam that was why, not wanting Sam to feel guilty and refuse to finish school. They had a big fight over his selling the house and didn’t speak for almost a year. It almost killed Dean, and she almost told Sam the truth so many times, but Dean had made her promise not to. She felt so badly that they couldn’t help more than that. The boys had been traveling up to see them every other weekend since they were children and they lost their mom.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” You said, when you noticed the look on her face.
“Oh, you didn’t.” Ellen said, shaking away her thoughts. “I was just thinking how nice it will be to have them both home for a little while.” She lied.
You insisted on helping Ellen clean up the kitchen, saying it was the least you could do for the hospitality. Afterwards, you stepped out of the house, planning on walking around for a little while to get some fresh air. You were distracted by the sound of classic rock and followed it until you saw Dean under the same car he had been working on last night.
“Now this is a beautiful car.” You commented as you walked up. Dean slid out a little so you could see his face.
“She will be when I’m done with her.” He practically beamed. “Could you do me a favor and hand me that crescent wrench over there?” He asked, pointing to the truck bed next to you.
“This one?” You asked, holding it up.
“Yeah.” He replied and you handed it down to him. “Thanks.” He said, pausing as your fingers touched his.
“Sure.” You said as he slid back under the car. You walked over to the truck and hopped up on the tailgate.
“Is your brother into cars too?” You asked. You could hear his laugh echo off of the car above him. “What?” You asked.
“Just the idea of Sammy out here under the hood of a car.” Dean said though his laughter. You smiled at the childish nickname he reverted to. “Nah. Sam’s the brains in the family. He’s at Stanford, studying to be a lawyer.” Dean added, enjoying the chance to brag on his brother.
You watched as he slid out from under the car, setting the tool back down next to you in the toolbox and grabbing a rag to wipe off his hands.
“You’ll see if you come to the festival with me.” He said, looking at you with such intensity you shivered.
“You don’t have to do that.” You told him, feeling bad that he got cornered with that at breakfast. “I don’t want to intrude on your time with your brother.” You added.
“Are you kidding? You got to come with me.” He insisted. “He’s bringing his girlfriend. Without you, I’ll spend the whole time feeling like a third wheel. Please come and save me from the awkwardness.” He told you, overdramatizing the experience and you laughed, the sound lingering in his ears.
“Okay.” You agreed, noticing how his green eyes sparkled when he smiled. “It does sound like fun.” You added.
“What about you?” He asked, grabbing a couple of waters from the ice chest and handing you one. “you have any brothers and sisters?”
“Not that I know of.” You replied. Dean paused to look at you, trying to decide if he should ask for an explanation, but you gave him one anyway. “I’m adopted.”
“Is that why you are going to Seattle, to find your parents?” He asked before he could stop himself. He immediately put his hands up. “I’m sorry. That’s none of my business. Forget I asked, okay?” He said, nervously.
“It’s okay. I don’t mind.” You told him, grinning at the relief you saw on his face. “The answer is no. One day I might do that, but Seattle isn’t about anything more than a fresh start.” You added, amazed at how easy he was to talk to.
“Really? Just like that, you packed up and travelled across the country?” He asked, impressed.
“I guess you think I’m crazy too.” You said, looking away, cynicism in your voice. Why wouldn’t he, all of your friends had.
“Not at all.” He said. You turned to find that his eyes were still on you and you blushed.
“Well, you would be the only one.” You said, jumping down from the truck. “Thanks, I’ll see you this afternoon.” You replied. Dean watched you walk away, wondering if you were running from something or to something.
As you approached the house again, you heard Bobby curse and you almost didn’t go in, but his tone sounded more frustrated than angry.
“You really should hire someone for this.” Ellen told him.
“We can’t afford that, Ellen. You know that.” Bobby told her. “We’ll get it worked out, it just takes me a while to work through all these tax codes to get the accounting right.” He added, his voice calming.
“Why don’t you let me help you with that?” You offered, stepping in the door. “I was working for a tax accounting firm in South Carolina. I’m sure I could help you get all of it sorted out if you want. It would make me feel better about using the room.”
“If you think you want to tackle this mess, I could certainly use the help.” Bobby told you. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to though.” He added.
“Bobby’s right. That room is yours as long as you need it.” Ellen added.
“I appreciate that. I want to help.” You said, stepping toward the desk to take a look at the files he had scattered across the top.
A few hours later, you were buried deep in paperwork, punching a calculator next to you, when you heard a low rumble coming from outside the front door. Ellen and Bobby glanced back and forth at each other and you saw her eyes tear up as a smile crossed Bobby’s face.
“I can’t believe he did it.” Bobby said and the two of them walked quickly out to the porch. Curious, you got up and followed behind. Dean stood, leaning against the front of his black 67 impala, grinning from ear to ear.
“I’m so proud of you.” Bobby said, putting an arm around Dean’s shoulders and hugging him. “She sounds just like she used to when your dad brought her home.”
“What do you say, Y/N? You want to take it for a test run into town for the festival?” Dean called out to you. You glanced over at Ellen, knowing there was still a lot of accounting to do inside, and she nodded.
“You go have fun, honey. Those papers aren’t going anywhere.” She said.
“Let’s do it.” You told him, grabbing your wallet. You thanked him as he opened the passenger door for you before climbing behind the wheel. He looked like a little kid driving down the road, like he was floating on cloud nine. He drove a little faster than he normally would, testing how the car handled and how well the motor ran.
“I love this song.” You said, reaching for the knob and freezing.
“Go ahead. Turn it up.” Dean told you, smiling at your hesitation. You did, leaning back against the seat to enjoy the ride. You felt like you were in high school again, all carefree and looking at the world like it was full of possibilities, and you almost laughed at the sentiment.
When the two of you pulled into a parking place near the center of town, you recognized his brother Sam immediately from the pictures in Bobby’s house, assuming the pretty blonde next to him was Jess. You followed behind Dean as he rushed happily to greet his brother before introducing you to the two of them.
The four of you spent most of the day walking around the festival; playing carnival games, exploring the hay bale maze, looking at the vendor booths, and listening to some of the local musicians they had set up to play. Occasionally, you unconsciously walked a step or two behind them, but Dean wouldn’t let you stay there, always pulling you up beside him. Before long, you felt like you fit in with them.
“I’m going to grab some food.” Sam said, gesturing to the stand nearby.
“Oh, grab me some too.” Jess asked, giving him a sweet look and he laughed. He kissed her gently as an answer.
“A burger sounds pretty good. You want anything?” Dean asked you. You nodded, reaching for some cash in your pocket. “I got it.” He said, walking away with his brother.
“You two are so cute. How long have you been together?” Jess asked as the two of you sat at one of the picnic tables.
“Oh, we aren’t a couple. My car broke down and I’m staying at the house until its fixed since the hotel was full. Dean just offered to let me tag along for fun.” You explained.
“Sorry, I just thought with the way you two looked at each other…..” Jess started, letting her voice fall away.
“What do you mean?” You asked, confused. Jess just shrugged.
“You guys just looked like there was a thing between you. I didn’t mean to say anything to make you uncomfortable.” Jess replied, concern in her tone.
“You didn’t. It just surprised me, that’s all.” You said, forcing a smile.
Jess smiled and neither of you said another word about it as the boys came and sat down at the table with the two of you.
“Sam, we’ve been walking around here all afternoon and you haven’t told him yet. If you don’t do it, I’m going to brag on you.” Jess threatened, getting Dean’s attention immediately.
“Tell me what?” He asked. You noticed the color coming to Sam’s checks as he shrugged.
“I scored pretty high on the LSAT.” Sam said. Jess rolled her eyes.
“He scored high enough that he is eligible for a full ride at law school.” She added, rubbing his shoulder with her hand.
“Sam, that’s great!” Dean said. “I’m proud of you, little brother.”
“Well, I still have to get through the interview on Monday when we go back, but…”
“But nothing, Sam. You’re going to knock ‘em dead.” Jess interrupted. He smiled, looking over at her with a loving grin. For a moment, they almost forgot that they were around anyone else, lost completely in each other.
Dean stood, grabbing the trash and throwing it away, as the rest of you stood just as the sound of fireworks sounded nearby.
“Is that fireworks?” Jess asked, looking hopeful at Sam. He laughed and nodded.
“You can see them better from the hill over there if you want to watch.” He added.
“Let’s go.” She said without hesitation and the two of them walked briskly toward the hill on the far side of the festival grounds.
“You okay?” Dean asked, noticing you had been quiet the whole time you had been eating.
“Yeah.” You lied. He started to ask you more, but let it go instead.
“Come on, let’s catch up.” He encouraged you instead, grabbing your hand and hustling with you to the hill after Sam and Jess. As you watched the fireworks, you could feel his hand still clasping yours. He moved just slightly so he could fold his fingers between your own. He didn’t let go until the fireworks were over and the four of you walked back to the parking lot.
You all said good-byes and you climbed into the impala next to Dean. You were quiet on the way back. Dean occasionally glanced over to see you watching the darkness outside of the window. Once you got back to Bobby’s house, he came inside with you. All was quiet in the house and you assumed that Bobby and Ellen had already gone to bed.
“What’s wrong, Y/n?” Dean asked, unable to hide his concern any longer. “Did something happen tonight that upset you? Did I say or do something?” He pressed when you didn’t answer right away.
“Not at all, Dean. I am so glad that you took me with you tonight.” You rushed your answer, not wanting him to think for an instant that you didn’t appreciate the night you had.
“Then what is it? You’ve been awful quiet.”
“I was just thinking about how nice your family is. You guys are all really close and happy.” You said, a sad tone hiding on the edge of your voice.
“We’re not perfect. Trust me.” He said, a little sarcastically. You laughed.
“I know. I guess I’m just going to miss this when I leave.” You admitted, turning and walking across the room away from him.
“Then don’t go.” He said simply.
“What?” You asked, surprised. You spun around to face him, frozen as you watched him step closer to you.
“Stay.” He whispered, taking your face in his hands and kissing your lips. He was so gentle and your thoughts raced through your mind, your heart pounded in your ears. None of that stopped you from kissing him back, desperate for the closeness.
You heard the back door close and the two of you pulled back.
“You’re back.” Ellen said, stepping into the living room with Bobby behind her. “How was the festival?”
“It was a lot of fun. I’m really tired, so I’m going to head up to bed.” You told her, trying to hide the way your hands were shaking. “Thanks again for taking me with you, Dean.” You said, unable to look him in the eye as you turned and went upstairs.
You could hear them talking all the way up the stairs; Bobby asking about how Sam was and Dean promising the both of them that Sam was bringing Jess to the house the next day for lunch. You closed the door to your room, drowning their voices to a muffled noise. You crawled into bed, thinking about nothing except for what Dean had said to you, and the kiss…..the perfect kiss.
By the time morning came, you had hardly slept and you still didn’t have any answers. This hadn’t been part of the plan at all, and you weren’t sure if you should listen to the voice in the back of your mind that told you ‘who cares?’
You waited until you were sure everyone was finished with breakfast before you timidly walked down the stairs. You knew you couldn’t face Dean until you had an answer for him. You slipped into Bobby’s office and started on the paperwork you left behind yesterday, convinced that diving into some work would help you feel more grounded. You were so engrossed, you didn’t hear Ellen come into the room an hour later and you jumped at the sound of her voice.
“Good morning, Y/N. I didn’t even hear you come downstairs.” She said.
“I just did a little while ago.” You told her. “I wanted to get started on this stuff.”
“Well, I have some good news for you. When we went into town yesterday, Bobby found the part we needed to fix your car. I told Dean to go take care of it before Sam and Jess come by. You should be good to go by the end of today.” She said.
“Oh…that’s great.” You replied, sounding more disappointed than relieved.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, concerned.
“Nothing.” You answered, shaking it off. “Thank you.”
Ellen watched you suspiciously for a moment before walking all the way into the room and sitting in the chair across from you. You could feel her watching you as you tried to ignore her gaze. Finally you looked up from the paperwork with a sigh.
“Dean asked me to stay last night.“ You confided. Ellen leaned back in the chair, nodding her head slightly.
“I figured something happened last night. You two jumped apart like an explosion happened when Bobby and I came home. You don’t want to stay?“ She asked.
“I don’t know what to do, Ellen. I didn’t plan on any of this happening." You said looking away, unable to look her in the eye when you said it.
"Well, I can’t tell you what to do. You have to decide that on your own. All I can say is Dean is a good guy and he seems to be really taken with you. If you want to stay, you are welcome to. If you don’t, just be honest with him. He will understand." Ellen said, standing and leaving you alone with your thoughts.
A few hours later, Dean finished fixing your car and looked down at the keys he held in his hand. He had been avoiding the house all morning, afraid of what you would say once he saw you. In that moment when he kissed you, you kissed back, but afterwards you looked so panicked, running from the room before he could say anything else to you.
He couldn’t figure out why it mattered to him so much. It’s not like he hadn’t been on dates before. There was just something about you that was different and he didn’t want to let go of that feeling. Sam text him and said they would be there soon. He put the keys in his pocket and started getting ready to have lunch with his family.
Dean walked into the house and saw you in the kitchen, helping Ellen prepare lunch for everyone. He took a deep breath and approached as though there was nothing on his mind.
“Sam said they are on their way.” He announced, mostly to Ellen.
“Great. Bobby should be down in a minute. I can’t wait to meet this girl.” She gushed.
“You will like her, Ellen. She’s a sweetheart.” Dean said, glancing at you before looking away. You finished chopping the vegetables and set the knife down on the counter.
“Dean, can I talk to you for a second?” You asked, timidly.
“Sure.” He answered, following you back out to the porch. “I got your car all fixed up.” He said, holding your keys out to you when you paused by the front steps.
“Thanks.” You said, taking them quickly before Dean noticed how badly your fingers were shaking. You tried to tell yourself that there was nothing to be nervous about, but you couldn’t stop the knots in your stomach from tightening now that you were facing him.
“You don’t have to say it.” He said, unable to hide the disappointment in his voice. He started to walk away, but you reached out and put your hand on his arm to stop him.
“Why did you ask me to stay?” You began, your eyes searching his for an answer. Instead, he looked surprised.
“I said it because I like you.” He answered. “Is that really so hard for you to believe?”
“I just….” You began, struggling to find the words to explain your hesitation. “If I stayed, I wouldn’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.”
You stood frozen in place as Dean turned to face you and took a couple of steps toward you, placing his body within an inch of yours. He traced his fingers down the length of your arm and took your trembling fingers in his own. His close proximately made it hard to breath. As you glanced up into his eyes, you saw a gentle smile cross his face.
“And what reasons are those?” He asked.
“I wouldn’t want you to ask me to stay because you feel sorry for me.” You began, fighting to keep your thoughts focused when all you could think about was how intoxicatingly close he was and how good he smelled.
“And I don’t want to stay because I’m scared of failing when I get to Seattle.” You added.
He was certain that you couldn’t fail, no matter where you ended up. His confidence threw you off for a moment and you blushed, looking away. You felt him let go of your hand and place his fingers under your chin. Gently, he turned your face back to look at him. Once you did, he let his fingers rest there, the warmth of his touch relaxing you.
“So what’s the right reason?” He asked when you paused, his voice almost a whisper. You felt him moving closer to you, pausing just before his lips reached yours.
“You.” The word slipping from your mouth just before you leaned into his kiss, sliding your hands around his neck. He put his arm around your waist and pulled you against him, closing any gap between the two of you.
“Get a room!” You heard Sam call out from the driveway. You stepped back and the two of you started laughing. Dean glanced quickly to you, afraid to find the same panic in your eyes he had seen the night before, but instead he was met with a smile. You saw the relief wash over his features and he turned to greet his little brother.
"Bite me, Sammy." He teased back, pulling Sam into a hug as the two of them climbed up the steps. Jess stepped up to you and hugged you like an old friend.
“I thought you said you guys didn’t have a thing between you.” She whispered knowingly.
“I didn’t think there was.” You replied, unable to stop smiling. “I’m sure glad I was wrong.” You admitted, and the two of you followed the brothers into the house.