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Forgot to Float Away

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"You the new guy?" Dean asked, dropping onto the cracked vinyl booth before its other occupant could respond.

The guy looked up at him with a smile so sweetly delighted it made Dean's teeth ache. He sat up straighter in his decrepit seat and held out a hand for Dean to shake. Long, black hair shifted around his shoulders, so shiny it almost looked wet (so like Roman's that, for a moment, the ache relocated to Dean's chest). "That must mean you're Ambrose! It's great to meet you Dean! How could you tell I was me - that's Bo Dallas, by the way - so quickly? I've never been paired with a Talker who was clairvoyant - you know, besides the whole communicating-with-ghosts thing."

He dragged another glance around the place: still empty but for the two of them and an ancient waitress trying to resurrect an even-older coffee-maker behind the counter. "You still haven't," he said, and tipped his head toward the gleaming blade of the heavy scythe hooked delicately over the back of the worn booth at Dallas's side.

"Oh, right!" He gripped the hand Dean finally offered fiercely and pumped it eagerly between both of his own. "Ernestine is always with me. Sometimes I forget she's not actually my right hand." He laughed brightly. "Though that would make this handshake messy and awfully uncomfortable. For you." He chuckled again and relinquished Dean's hand.

"Glad to know you, Ernestine," he said cordially to the wicked curve of the scythe's blade. He'd never once been sure of a Fighter the Ghost Hunting Authority matched him with right out of the gate - not much in his life to this point had given him cause to trust a government agency's judgment - and that wasn't about to change now. Still, he could find a way to respect a man who respected his tools.

Dallas ran his fingertips across the finely-honed edge of the blade and hummed tunelessly to himself while the waitress came by for Dean’s order.

"Bourbon, neat," he said. Better to let the coffee-maker stay dead; ghosts enough on his conscience and in his ear already. "And a slice of pie - any kind but apple."

"So!" Dallas said, wrapping his hands around the base of a tall glass tumbler as though it held steaming hot tea instead of being frosted over and full of thick pink milkshake. He slurped at the straw, then snagged a shaker of salt and tipped it over the glass with a jerky motion of his wrist. "Neither of us is freshly-hatched -" He grinned again, with his whole face, eyes crinkling up at the corners, and paused to take such a long pull on his seasoned milkshake that Dean almost felt a pang of brainfreeze in sympathy. "- I'm guessing that means I'm not your first partner either."

"Give the man a prize," he said drily. "I've never been paired with a Fighter who was clairvoyant."

Dallas laughed at that, louder and for several beats longer than Dean thought he'd earned, only sputtering out after the waitress had come and gone, leaving a rocks glass and a slice of sugar cream pie in front of Dean. Weird, maybe, but at least it meant that there was no silence Dean was expected to fill with stats from his official file or tales - tall or otherwise - about the partners he’d managed to lose along the way.

The pie was sweet and rich, genuinely delicious - even without Seth’s nasally lecture about diet and conditioning and the pure and simple pleasure of winding him up - and his mouth was full when Dallas started talking again. Wouldn't have stopped him from answering if he had anything he wanted to say, but it made a decent excuse for somebody who didn't know him yet, and he took advantage of it.

"I don't want to go into all the little details either," Dallas announced with a too-wide grin. "That was then; this is now! A new day! The things that happened to them back then -" He gestured vaguely over his shoulder, where the past they weren't talking about apparently lurked. " - couldn't possibly happen again. Right? Right! Fresh start, starting now, for you and me and Ernestine." His eyes lit up, the brightest thing by far in the dingy dining room. "Team Bo-Dean!"

Dean choked a little bit and took a tight gulp of whisky to ease past it. "Maybe we could hold off on printing up the t-shirts?"

"Sure thing, partner!" Dallas nodded eagerly and leaned over to clink their glasses together. "I Bo-lieve this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."