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Glass fronts, surgically enhanced secretaries; no plants. This here, of course, is a manager's office and Dean is not naïve enough to think that he will get an office this spacious just yet. What counts though is that this is where some good, solid months could get him. He likes the idea of a mahogany desk like this one. They gave him a similar one at his last job when they sensed he was about to resign. If the desk would have been as brilliant as this one, he might have considered staying.

"Stanford," Wesson notes.

Dean knows what that soft smile means. At this level of the food chain, the variety in degrees and visited colleges is limited down to a handful. "Indeed," he smiles, "Class oh-five. You?"

A short glance up from Dean's resume. "Oh-six."

Dean nods his respects. He did his homework and knows that Mr. Samuel Wesson, head of Courtman and Styles' HR, is four years younger than him. Intimidating to some, maybe, but interviews are one of Dean's unofficial hobbies. Today's is going great so far and he is confident he'll ace it. His self is Dean's most valuable product. He will sell it.

"Three point two GPA. Not bad, Mr. Smith."

"Good work equals good results."

The smile broadens. Wesson's suit looks really nice. Once Dean receives his first paycheck, he might ask for that tailor's contacts.

"So, tell me, Mr. Smith." Wesson puts the application papers down. Before he looks straight into Dean's eyes, he folds his hands and lets his elbows point outwards as wide as he can. Cheap trick, actually, but with a build like that he definitely makes it work. "For the position of director of sales and marketing... why should we hire you?"

With his legs crossed and his hands neatly placed on his upper knee, leaned back in this ridiculously expensive chair, Dean could not have created a better frame for the answer to this question. "Because I am the man you need."

~

Naturally, papers are signed one week later. The former director has yet to sort out some issues, so Dean is free for another four days. Nothing he is particularly fond of, to be honest; he enjoys work. After going through some first documents he was entrusted with, it's only twelve AM of day one. If there was something in his apartment that he could take care of or clean, he would - but no. The move has been uncomplicated and the building has been renovated only a few months ago. No leaky pipes, no creaking windows, no nothing.

He swings by CS' to ask Rhonda, his stunning and absolutely ice-cold secretary, if there is a chance he could make himself useful. She raises one of her meticulously plucked eyebrows at him. "Sir, if you're so... 'energetic', I advise you to spend your efforts on the gym. You know, while you still have the time for that." She's certainly got a point there.

Courtman and Styles offers various benefits for their employees. Since most of the higher ranks are occupied by second and third generations of economical moguls who can easily afford entire penthouses full of professional machines and personal trainers, it does not necessarily make sense to Dean that there is an enclosed VIP (aka management) section in the company's internal gym. Most of the executives Dean has met rather look like they in fact first-hand-witnessed Black Thursday than ever even coming close to an elliptical trainer.

A staff member shows him around and Dean has him explain every machine, even though he is familiar with most of them. It fills time, he figures, and it doesn't do harm to refresh his memory. They create a four day split that Dean intends to follow once work gets going. For now, he decides to spend some hours here, maybe attend the pool and sauna, too. Whatever keeps him busy.

As he expected, the halls are not crowded. Meaning: he is the only present person. Some machines here, some free exercises there, and it's five PM. After insisting on taking a look at the nutrient list himself, Dean has a short break and treats himself to some plant-based protein shake they assured him is completely fat-free. To their defense (and Dean's relief): it indeed is.

"Smith!"

"Mr. Wesson; sir." He gets up and they shake hands. The man is practically bouncing on his heels, reminding Dean more of his three year old niece than this actual six feet four giant.

"Blowing off some steam?"

"Well, yeah." Dean pats down his soaked through t-shirt and laughs politely. "Might as well get my head free as long as CS isn't occupying it just yet."

"I know what you mean. We just had this 'splendid' conference call; Whilton and Chokshi and good old Mr. Uprah. Five hours of torture." Dean receives a pat to his shoulder. "Sorry, half an hour and they expect me back up there for round two."

"No problem, sir. Have fun."

Over his shoulder, Wesson waves back at him. Legs like those sure make you fast, huh. "You too!" Dean hears.

Whatever Wesson is doing there, it surely hasn't much to do with fun. Even looking at those weights hurts. The noises Wesson makes while heaving them up are a vague indicator of his struggles. The sudden and disturbingly animalistic grunts make Dean uncomfortable and unfortunately his earbuds are incapable of overpowering anything. Concentrating is out of question. Dean decides to switch to cardio.

The CEO joins him after not too long. To Dean's delight, he leaves a few treadmills of private space in between them. While Dean's pace and impact on the machine are rather even, Wesson decides on what must be the highest setting. Every stomp brings down an estimated two hundred pounds. Dean imagines feeling the man's panting and drops of sweat hitting his side. The way his shoulder-length hair flies around, it would not be a surprise to that actually being the case. Dean stares ahead and tries not to let his disgust interfere with his performance.

Wesson eventually finishes and heads for the showers. Good, because Dean has twenty minutes left to go and is grateful to spend them in newfound silence. Earbuds back in, he watches rush hour traffic crouch by and lets anonymous electronic sounds lull him back into his zone.

He smells him before he sees him, doesn't have to turn his head. Freshly out of the shower, Wesson seems to have used an entire bottle of body wash in one go. When he comes closer and finally leans onto Dean's treadmill, Dean can barely tolerate the scent.

"Wow. Someone's dedicated."

"Heh, guilty," he confesses with little breath.

"You do this regularly?"

"Try to."

"Huh, looks like I've finally found a gym buddy." Wesson looks a bit tired but not exhausted. He blow-dried his hair and put on a black shirt instead of his earlier white. Thirty two, no wedding ring. Dean tries not to jump to conclusions. "Anyway, have a nice evening. I've gotta go."

"Good luck with the conference, sir."

"Thanks. See you around."

Dean finishes, stretches and alternates between shower and sauna for another two hours. Outside, night has settled, despite the city still being pretty much alive. The bypassing lights are blurry and unattractive to him but it feels soothing watching everything crawling and twisting around him. City life is a good life. Dean has no idea how people on the countryside survive their boredom.

A ten minute taxi drive later, he is welcomed by his apartment building's concierge and barely has enough strength left to get in and out of the elevator. It's smoothie for dinner; "green and healthy" enough to make his appetite vanish. Dean falls asleep in his clothes.

~

They run into each other again the next day, after Dean fueled Rhonda's hate for him with another unwanted visit and then went to grab some lunch down the street. "Don't tell me you're eating this." The place looked good and the salad was alright, Dean thought. Nevertheless, Wesson insisted on introducing him to one of his favorite places - and prior to passing your trial period, you do not decline your boss' invitations.

"They fix the best pasta around here," Wesson explains over the menu. His Baume & Mercier watch reflects the dim light falling through the windows. "You should really try it."

Dean "tries" hard not to cringe and re-reads the menu for what must be the third time. The steak sounds good. Lean protein. But with potatoes on the side, hm... Okay. He'll make an exception today.

They order. Two minutes later, it dawns on Dean what Wesson's "and the usual" implied as the waiter brings them two whiskey tumblers. It's a good vintage and the contrast of hot and icy burn on the back of his throat turns Dean pliant to scandalous seven calories per gram. "I like your idea of a business lunch," he mocks.

Wesson mirrors his grin, but somehow wears it softer. "That's the whole point."

Being friendly with a superior hasn't ever hurt anybody, Dean tells himself. A senior contact is a convenient ace up his sleeve. Wesson obviously sympathizes with him; otherwise, he wouldn't have hired Dean. Maybe he pities Dean because he only just moved here, doesn't know anybody and thus has no idea of good places to dine at. Then again, people in Wesson's position usually discard their compassion together with their milk teeth.

They talk about work, the company. Wesson answers Dean's questions thoroughly and with a sense of humor that Dean has always enjoyed. It turns out the young CEO prefers conversation during meals which Dean is not a particular fan of, but he plays along. Over dessert, they are at their third drink each. Wesson finishes his chocolate-berry-whatever while Dean keeps nursing on his drink. The food is indeed good. He just hopes the bill won't come as heavy as he estimates it to be.

"This is on me," Wesson advises the waiter as he hands over his credit card.

Dean feels his stomach contents stir. "Mr. Wesson, I can't accept this."

"Hate to tell you, Smith-" Wesson does not look like he "hates" to say this, though. Dean recognizes the smug expression he got over the display of the treadmill. "-but I am your boss. I decide, you perform. I pay, you accept."

He chuckles away the tension. "Alright. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Oh, and maybe rather thank CS' business expenses budget than me." Wesson smiles wide and bright. Dean's laugh is genuine this time.

They head outside. Wesson stretches. "Any plans for today? Gym?"

"Not after a meal like that, God no." Dean pets his stomach. "How long will they keep you today?"

"If I'm not out of there at six PM sharp, please send a capsule of cyanide."

"That bad?"

"Worse."

Traffic rushes by and muffles Dean's tired laugh. He rubs his eyes while he starts looking for a taxi. Maybe he'll read for a bit. A nap would be nice, too. That way, maybe he can get enough rest to exercise again by tonight.

"-th. Smith?"

He startles, stares up at Wesson who eyes him questioningly.

"I said: Are you free tonight, Smith?"

Damn impatient drivers with way too loud horns. "I, uhm. I guess?" he tries.

"What is your opinion on sipping overpriced fancy drinks in the company of people you hate, all while sitting in almost complete darkness?"

He blinks, frowns.

"'Cause there is this charity kind of thing going on tonight." The CEO has his suit jacket unbuttoned. Again, his button-down is black. In Dean's fatigued vision, it seems to swallow every bit of sunlight. "And if there was at least one guy I could actually have a nice conversation with, that'd be pretty amazing."

"... Is this an order or an invitation?"

Now, it's Wesson who hesitates. His smile hasn't reappeared since the gym-question. "Invitation," he decides.

"Alright. When and where?"

"You're coming?"

"Might as well. Couldn't live with the certainty that I dished you out to this horrible fate all on your own."

There it is, that smile. Dean notices the hint of dimples. "Thank you," he hears.

~

The dark blue shirt goes well with the silver-black pinstripe suit. At least the saleswoman told him so a few months back. If it went out of style by now, sue him. He approves of it at a last check in the mirror.

As expected, Wesson's driver is on time. Dean climbs into the limousine and is greeted with a handshake that turns into a soft squeeze to his shoulder when Dean almost loses his balance in his ducked posture. Wesson laughs it off and Dean takes his seat.

The cocktail lounge is indeed very sporadically lit. Where there are neon lights, there always is some kind of perfectly sleek surface to reflect them. It's really artsy; almost surreal. Thank God the evening is completely on the host. With an interior like this, the drinks must be a fortune. Each.

They get whiskey, naturally, with Wesson going for a straight one this time around. He nods towards the bottle Dean saw the bartender pour from. "Too good for ice," he is advised. By the time they collect their second round, Dean has been convinced to follow the example.

"Oh my God," he hums after the first sip, eyes rolling back in the pleasure of chasing the taste, "I think I just might have been ruined for any other beverage ever."

"I told you!" Wesson's teeth shine blue in the ultraviolet light.

Some introductions, handshakes and faked laughter later, Wesson decides that they did enough "work" and orders the entire bottle of "their" drink. They find an unoccupied corner on the gallery, overlooking the bar. Somehow they end up on Stanford times.

"Strange that we never ran into each other," Wesson muses.

"Yeah, well, business school versus law school... Different courses, different worlds."

Moreover, Wesson just casually dropped that his parents kept him out of the dorms. Yeah, Dean can imagine. The guy looks like someone with a lot of risky ideas. In combination with fraternities, ridiculously high allowances and a charm like Wesson's, the concept of dorm life definitely sounds like a suicide commando for the family's reputation.

"Still. If I would have seen you, I would have remembered you."

"Hm, don't be so sure. I never really was one of the 'cool' kids. More of the nerd type."

"How come? You seem like someone who has a lot of friends."

Dean scratches the joints of his right forefinger. "Quitting a... a fraternity doesn't exactly turn you into the king of campus. Did my grades all kinds of good, but I had problems building my network without invitations to the big parties."

Wesson nods calmly into his glass. "That's what made you stick working for those small companies?"

"... I wouldn't exactly call them 'small', sir."

"Smaller than us."

"That's correct."

"Well, Smith - we've got you now."

Dean is smiled at, returns the gesture, downs another sip of whiskey. The detail about the fraternity has neither been necessary nor professional. On the other hand... Wesson supplied him with enough ammunition of his own. Dean has to remind himself to stay cautious. They're still business partners. Too much vulnerability could kill his career before it even started.

In between the lights' turn from purple to blue, Dean grasps the sad fact that this here is the longest and most comfortable private conversation he has had in weeks - if not months. Next to work and maybe gym, there is not much time for friends and family. Little Naomi's birthday was in March. Almost half a year ago. While re-filling his tumbler, Dean tries to remember the last phone call he has had with his mother.

Midnight has not reached them yet when Wesson suggests calling it a day. Relief washes through Dean's exhausted body. The bar is getting more crowded by the minute and Dean can think of at least three different locations he would rather be while being cozily drunk and tired. Two of them - his own bed and shower - are places he would not mind falling asleep in exactly now. Wesson doesn't look any better. He hasn't stopped smiling this last hour. Happy drunk. Lucky bastard.

It is not cold outside by any means, but Dean still shivers at the breeze. They climb into Wesson's waiting car and Dean's last strings of dignity hold him back from sinking into the seat with his entire weight. "I think I need one of these, too," he huffs and pats the cream leather interior of the limousine.

"Ah, not really," Wesson offers while slipping in next to Dean. Dean can taste his breath; whiskey and pines. "You can always borrow mine."

Suddenly, like a slow creeping sensation rolling down his spine, the seats are too narrow. Suddenly, Dean feels crammed in between car door and his boss. His eyes catch the tagged-along whiskey bottle in Wesson's hand.

"Where do you live?"

The question comes slowly, almost dark... but probably, Dean is too drunk. He is hearing things. He stares at his knees and wipes his cheek with his hand. "... Jackson Ave."

Wesson leans to the front and raises his chin to speak into what must be an intercom connected to the driver - thank God, the moment is gone. "You hear that, John?"

A little "click" noise, followed by, "Jackson Ave, sir, Mr. Wesson, sir. Comin' right up."

The car starts moving. Dean remembers to breathe. "Aw, now don't be so formal!" Wesson laughs and leans back again, shields his mouth with his hand as he whispers. "He's ten years my senior."

Click. "Five, Mr. Wesson, sir." Maybe a little accusation in that voice.

Enough to make Wesson laugh again. Yeah, definitely happy drunk. "You got it, Johnny-boy."

Five minutes pass, ten. Dean watches the streets slick by in the thick nighttime traffic of a city that never actually sleeps. The warmth of the car makes his eyelids droop, but he keeps control. Just a little longer and he can surrender to booze-heavy sleep all he wants.

Next to him, there is no sign of consciousness. Maybe Wesson fell asleep himself. Dean is not interested in making sure though. It is a kind of intimate situation, and this is his boss' car, after all. Dean knows his place. It is nice enough that Dean is being dropped off at his home.

"You know," Dean eventually hears, almost distant with how small and airy the words are, "that actually was a really nice evening."

"It was fun," he agrees.

"... You're a good guy, Smith."

He smiles to himself. "That's why you hired me, I guess."

"Obviously," Wesson chuckles. His shoulder is warm against Dean's upper arm. "We should do this again. Finally someone around my age, not all those... eh, I don't want to start throwing around the profanities here, Smith, but you know what I mean."

Yeah, Dean can relate. His smile widens and he has to peer over his shoulder to share a raised eyebrow with the young CEO. He is met with small, sleep-wet eyes. "You hired me because I'm a good guy and because you were lonely?"

A short silence. Wesson's eyes move between what must be Dean's left and right eye, but Dean is too tired to really tell. The hour-old smile still hasn't left Wesson's mouth.

"Maybe," Dean hears.

Many streets later, Dean stumbles out of the car and wishes he wouldn't so obviously stumble. He turns back to the now rolled-down window and leans against the cool surface of the car.

"Gym tomorrow?"

"Uh, yeah. Sure." Dean rubs his eyes.

"When're you gonna be there?"

"I don't know yet, to be honest. Feel free to ring me out of bed."

There's a half-roll of eyes. "What happened to the 'sir'?"

He snorts a laugh. "Feel free to ring me out of bed, Mr. Wesson, sir."

A wider grin; the silent "better". "Do I have your number?"

Dean searches his pocket for his keys, finds them. "It should be in my application somewhere, shouldn't it?"

"Ah, sure, sorry. I forgot."

"No problem, sir."

Still the same smile. "Get some rest. Good night."

"Good night. Have a safe ride."

"Will do. Bye."

"Bye."

The limousine drives off and Dean lets his eyes follow it for a moment. "What a night," he groans and somehow makes it to his floor, apartment, bedroom. He sleeps for ten hours straight.

~

At two PM, the phone call comes. Day three, Dean thinks to himself, only one more to go. Finally. He arrives at the gym twenty minutes later. Wesson awaits him; he has more time today, could break down some extra hours. "You didn't have to, sir."

Wesson adjusts his grip and posture on the machine. "Don't worry," he assures.

Out of curiosity and boredom and of course politeness, Dean agrees to being guided through Wesson's routine. As impressive it is to watch the younger man ace machine after machine, it is humiliating to fail at the weight settings he is given. He tries, he really tries, grinds his teeth and pushes his limits, but the weights won't budge. Wesson doesn't pity him, watches closely and gives a short, approving nod before decreasing by a few pounds. "Try again," Dean hears over his own ragged breathing. Once he finally makes it, he gets a "good work". It eases the burn of embarrassment, somehow.

"You're not the maximum strength method kind of guy, are you?"

Dean takes greedy gulps from his water bottle and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand when he is done. "No."

"Endurance?"

"Yeah."

Wesson nods casually. His eyes are pinned where he fumbles with the next machine. "I figured. You're fairly... lean."

Dean doesn't answer.

"Oh." When Wesson turns around to face him, his hair swings vigorously. Dean tries not to blink at the drop of sweat that hits him on his cheek. "I, uh. I wanted to tell you something. About last night."

It's an itch, a terrible, stinging itch, but he doesn't allow himself to scratch it yet. Dean returns the straight-forward stare of his boss. "Yes?"

The gaze softens then. The somewhat tight mouth melts into a wary smile. "Well. I might have... been a little chatty. I apologize for that. Good whiskey does that to me."

"And what does a bad one do?"

Wesson raises his eyebrows at that, curls his upper lip to reveal a row of perfect teeth. He exhales through his nose. "You don't wanna know." Wesson leans against the machine to his left. With his shoulders rolled back and the straight posture, he surely is impressive. "Anyway. You're a good guy, Smith, and I enjoyed drinking with you. I enjoy this here, too. I just want you to know that if I'm not like this during work, then it's because this here is private, and work is work. I have a serious job, I do serious work. I am professional at what I do."

Translates to: You're gonna be an asshole when we're up there. "Of course, sir." Dean nods and finally wipes the stray drop from his cheek. "You are my supervisor, so I am grateful for all the trust you're giving me here before even closing a single deal for CS."

"I like your honesty."

"The feeling is mutual, sir."

"... It's 'Sam'," Dean hears.

Dean tests the name on his tongue, between his teeth. Honor tastes rich. "Dean," he breathes and stretches his hand out for the CEO to shake.

It is taken. "I know."

Sam's hand is warm.

~

"You're not wearing a wedding ring."

Dean blinks through the dim light of the sauna. Together with the smell of dry, hot cedar, it always makes him sleepy. He tries a chuckle. "Well, you neither."

"No kids? No girl? No dog and white picket fence?"

He thinks of Lisa, of Ben. "Wasn't meant to be," he says under a shrug.

"You're thirty-six! You have all the time in the world left, you know. You're successful, you're smart, you're funny..."

"Oh, stop it!" Dean snorts.

"Seriously. I know like, ten excellent, wonderful ladies who would marry you on the spot. I could introduce you."

It's a difficult topic. Dean would rather not continue talking about it. But then again, he's in it with one and a half leg already now. "My... Uhm, no offence, sir, that is a generous offer, it really is... but especially now that I got this new job, I'd rather..." Dean lowers his eyes to his knees. "I'd rather concentrate on work for now."

A short silence; a creak of a dry plank.

When Dean looks down to his side, Wesson is looking up at him. Dean just now realizes how gigantic the guy's forehead is with how long strands of hair wildly stick to it from too much wiping of a too wide hand. "Work can be pretty lonely," he is told.

Dean swallows, looks back ahead. Wesson's legs are long in the corner of his eye. "I don't mind loneliness."

~

There hasn't been anybody around except the both of them since they entered the gym, but still... this is very awkward. Dean is not exactly convinced yet. The water surface is completely still. "I didn't know they had this."

"It's the best! I can't believe they didn't show it to you."

The sound of a towel falling to the ground ties up Dean's insides. If he wasn't covered in sweat already, he surely would be now. "I- Is it- Don't we have to, uh, put on a-"

"Dean. This is specifically made for after having a sauna. You are meant to go in naked."

It is cold. It must be cold. Definitely is cold. Dean thinks of Swedes jumping into holes of otherwise ice-covered lakes. Even though he is burning up, the idea isn't too pleasing. He swallows. "Ready when you are, sir," he mocks.

A teasing hand wraps around his shoulder and pushes him forwards with quickly increasing force.

"Hey! Nonononono!"

"Age before beauty, Smith!"

What Dean can do is rip his towel off of himself in the last second. What he cannot do is hold back the shriek of horror when the ice-cold water swallows him up. The push was hard, so his head sinks underneath the surface. The cold is so intense, so sudden that it claws into his skin without mercy. He hears Wesson dive in behind him just before he manages to get his head back above the water. He cannot breathe. He cannot breathe. His chest won't open up wide enough, won't give more precious skin surface to the water. His ears ring; he flails with every limb. Panic. He is gonna drown.

Hands wrap around his waist and push him forwards. They are so incredibly warm. It must be Wesson's, right? Dean gets a hold of the edge of the pool and holds on for his life. His heart jackrabbits in his chest, all the way up to his tongue. Heat rushes to the top of his head and Dean coughs through his gasps for air.

Warmth slides up his sides, back, shoulders. Dean's hearing is numb; he is shaking.

"Shit; I- I didn't mean to- Are you okay?!"

"Alive," Dean splutters.

The hands are soothing if he takes them as what they are - warm. He doesn't allow himself to think much further.

After stumbling under a hot shower, Dean can't get dressed quickly enough. All he wants is his bathtub. Maybe filled to the brim with hand-warm lavender oil. "I'll be fine, sir. A little water won't kill me." Was close though. But hey - always be positive. Dean tries a smile.

"Are you sure you don't need a ride?" Wesson eyes him with just as much doubt as Dean would have expected from a man of his intelligence. Eventually, he nods to himself. Dean is already buckling up his bag when Wesson starts again: "Tomorrow? Same time, same place?"

Three seconds is what makes the real difference in lying. Under, and you're safe. Over, and you're busted. Dean is trained enough for "under" but too defeated for a Broadway act. "I ain't too sure if I can keep up with your training regime, sir..."

"There's no need to," Wesson assures. "You do your thing, I do mine. Don't sweat it."

After today and specifically after the pool incident, Dean is not too thrilled about another workout again already. But there is Wesson who looks more like a kicked dog than anything else. He's his boss, for God's sake. If your boss is so desperate for you to like them, you better take that elevator ticket they're slapping into your damn face.

Dean puts on his best "ah, you've got me" face and lets his sigh escape from his nostrils. "Keep your eyes open for that guy coughing up ice cubes on the treadmill."

Finally and for the first time since he pushed Dean into the pool, Wesson is laughing again. His giant hand comes crushing down on Dean's arm. Dean paints a smile over his repulsion. After their goodbyes, he walks two blocks before flagging down the next-best cab.

~

He hasn't dreamed of Matt in forever.

Next to the immediate impulse to scrub all this cold sweat off of himself for a good five consecutive minutes, all Dean can pin down in his head is the annoyance over the fact that it's still the middle of the night, meaning: Still another day to go. Still facing the stupid anxiety of revisiting the facility that almost became his grave yesterday. Still facing Wesson and needing to act like he is not going to have a heart attack about every little movement the man does.

It's only water, you said it yourself. Stop making such a fuss about it, goddammit. It's only water.

A quick shower full of groaning and feeling old (of course he would be sore after that damn Iron Man session) is followed by the most aggressive and messy change of sheets Dean has ever performed. Then, finally, he can go back to sleep.

Three hours later, the alarm pulls him out of dreamless darkness. Thank God.

Fresh orange juice, coffee, organic whole grain cereals, GMO-free soy milk - perfect. He eats, finishes the coffee over the newspaper and rids the kitchen of his breakfast's traces. A short call at the reception earns him a recommendation for a close-by dry cleaner. The lady taking the last days' suits into her care doesn't look many more years older than Dean. He smiles and tips generously, all while mentally thanking God for blessing him with the right career choices.

Back home, Dean finds nothing to do but to pack his gym bag. Water bottle, new set of clothes and underwear, two towels. The shower products are still good to go, so they are not replaced. The zipper purrs and leaves the bag sitting on top of the table, ready to go.

Dean looks at it for a long moment. Eventually, he pulls out one of the chairs to sit down on it. He can see the street from the windows of his apartment. A piece of skyline.

Until the phone rings, he doesn't move.