The motel room was silent. The air conditioner was shut closed, so it won’t fly the gauze away and the clock that hung on the wall had stopped ticking. You glanced at it. 3:45 exactly. If one looked closely, you thought, one could see the minute needle shaking in its place, urging itself to move, to tick away the time as it had for such a long while, minutes and hours, months, maybe even years. You reminded yourself to call the table below to replace it. The silence was too suffocating, too tense. You turned your gaze away and forced yourself to look at Dean. He didn’t look back. Not an even a momentary glance, not even a nudge of his head.
The night had been rough, rougher than most. A case that you had been expecting to be an easy salt & burn turned into a blood bath, four dead in only a week, and a Crocotta behind it all. It had been hard enough to trace it down. The thing had moved from one place to another. Every time you guys had thought you had pinned it down, it moved again, leaving blood and the dead behind. From the closed down school basement, to the woods, to the closed tube station, and finally you had close in on it in an old factory by the edge of the town. The plan had been simple enough. Sneak into the factory, catch it at its weakest as it fed, and burst in, silver knives out. But somehow, it knew that you were coming, and it had been ready, thirsty for blood.
You had traced it down to a room, an office by the looks of the filing cabinets and the large shelves, located on one of the upper floors. You had crept towards the door, making sure the rusty aging metal floor didn’t creak beneath your feet. You had been in the lead, followed by Dean, and then Sam carrying the back. You had tried to twist the door knob quietly, unfortunately it had been locked and you had no choice but to kick the door down and hope you were fast enough. You hadn’t been.
As soon as you rushed in, the Crocotta jumped. It slammed you hard to the left wall, and onto one of the shelves. Then it aimed straight for Dean, its teeth sharp and glistening with blood. Before anyone could move, you jumped to your feet, ran forward and-the hell were you thinking? - tried to side-thrust kick it. It didn’t work, not completely. The thing had grabbed onto your leg mid-kick. Its sharp claws dug into your calf and it flung you away, like a ragdoll too old to play with. But it did its job in distracting it long enough for Sam and Dean to arm up and jump it. A stupid move. A ridiculous move, even you had to admit, but a necessary one, none the less.
Dean moved through the motions, cleaning the cut on your leg as blood pulsed out, wiping, disinfecting, and stitching. His hands were swift with years of practice. You forced yourself to hold still, but it did hurt. The cut itself hurt sharply, but the needle's sting was worse. Your knuckles had turned white as you fisted the yellow stained linen bed sheets. You could taste the faint irony taste of blood in your mouth from biting your lip too hard, forcing yourself to hold on to the fragile silence that wrapped the room, afraid what its absence might bring. And yet, you couldn’t keep your leg from shaking as it rested on Dean's lap.
For a moment, he stopped, needle still in hand and gaze turned to anywhere but you. Then he finally glanced up, green eyes staring into your own, and you held your breath. His own jaw was taught, teeth clinched. In your head, you urged the dead clock to begin its continuous ticking again that had grown so comforting during the dark hours of the night but now, it kept its silence. You licked your lips. Dean glanced at your leg and back up again.
'Does it hurt too bad?' Dean asked. His voice was cold. You didn’t reply for a moment, trying to stable your shaking breath and then shook your head.
'It's just stings a little.'
Dean nodded. He poured some more rubbing alcohol into the surgical plate, the smell so strong that it made your head hurt and you flinched as you waited for its burning sting on your cut. He pulled out some more gauze from the first aid box near him and began to turn his attention back to your leg, before stopping again, needle still in hand. You could see his hand shaking. He kept his gaze to your leg.
‘That was stupid.’ Dean whispered. His voice was barely audible. But you could swear it cracked at the end. Guilt churned in your stomach. You sighed.
He shook his head and turned it towards you. It was hard looking into his stony eyes. His expression was a mixture of disbelief and anger. ‘It was. It was stupid. And reckless. What were you thinking?’
‘I am not sure I was thinking at all.’ You chuckled.
Dean snorted. ‘Clearly.’
For a moment, neither of you said anything and the silence returned. Dean sat at the foot of the bed, still and unmoving. Outside the window, the sky was dark, but you thought you could catch a glimpse of the gleaming moon off the far away rooftops. But only the flickering tube light bought any light into the room, throwing shadows across the room and Dean’s face, high lighting the frown lines embedded into his skin from years of pain, death, and blood. His face look hunted, dead, and yet so alive.
You sighed once more. ‘Dean…’ You called. He didn’t make any motion to tell you that he was listening. Your hand reached toward his hand that rested on your knee. ‘I am sorry.’
Dean snorted. ‘Are you?’ You frowned.
‘I am. Not about what I did.’ You said. ‘But for making you worry.’
Dean didn’t say anything for a moment and then he said softly but coldly. ‘Why did you do it?’ His hand had fisted in yours.
‘I had to.’
‘Why?’ He voice rose almost to a yell.
‘Because that thing was going kill you, Dean. That thing was going to rip your face off.’
Dean nodded his expression bewildered and angry. ‘Yeah, it was. So you decided to offer yourself as open barbecue?’
‘I was trying to distract it.’
‘By kicking it?!’
‘I told you.’ You defended yourself feebly. ‘I wasn’t thinking straight. It was on instinct. I couldn’t think of anything else.’
‘How about staying put, dammit?’
You were growing frustrated now. ‘I was trying to help. If you didn’t notice, it did work.’
‘At what cost?’ He yelled. His eyes were furious and hurt as they glared at you. You glared back, trying to come up with an answer. You couldn’t come up with anything.
‘Dean…’ You looked down, fingers playing with the tassels hanging off the cushion in your lap. ‘I am sorry, okay…It was stupid, and reckless, and a ridiculously idiotic move. But it worked….’
‘Yes. But it did.’
‘God damn it.’ He cried. He got of the bed and paced to the window. He ran his fingers through his hair, clutching so tightly that it looked that he was about to tear it out. ‘You could have died, Y/N. That thing could have ripped through you as easily as it had planned to do with my face. What then?’
‘Oh come on, it’s barely a scratch.’
‘A scratch...’.’ Dean said. ‘It’s two inches deep. That is not scratch.’
‘I am fine.’
Dean stopped and looked at you now, holding still. His green eyes stared at you now, hurt and angry and frustrated. From the street down below, a car sped past. Its bright headlight’s glaring through the window, throwing passing shadows across Dean’s face. His fists were clinched at his side, nails biting into his palm. He clenched his jaw.
‘What if you hadn’t been?’ You opened your moth to interrupt him but he continued. ‘What if it hadn’t been just a scratch?’ His voice sounded so helpless. ‘What if you had gotten hurt, really hurt? And there had been nothing I could do?’
‘But it didn’t.’
‘It could have.’ His voice cracked at the end. You looked at him as he stood in the shadows. In your chest, your heart ached for him. Guilt pulsed in your gut like something alive and your mouth was dry. Your hand reached out for his.
He didn’t move for a moment, hands still fisted and green eyes still angry and lost. Heartbeats were counted away in the half-darkness but then he walked forward. You clasped his hand in your own. The scabs and roughness felt familiar and comforting. You tugged him forward, pulling him closer.
He sat on the bed next to you, hands still joined together. You bit your lip. ‘Dean…I know that I really freaked you out there. And I know what I did-it was stupid, yes-it could have gotten me killed. But I didn’t have a choice.’ You gulped. ‘That thing, it was going to hurt you. I had to make a move-‘
Dean cut you off. ‘It’s my job to protect-‘
‘No, its not.’ Your hand reached out, hesitant, towards his face. You caressed your fingers across his cheek. ‘It’s not your job. It’s not something you have to do. It’s something that you want to do, because you love me…’ You leaned in closer to him. You could feel the warmth of his breath on your face, and you could smell his scent, beer and gun power and some of your own honey and white willow shampoo you had playfully washed his hair with as a prank this morning in the shower. You leaned your forehead against his and smiled. ‘And I love you…’
Dean leaned in closer, green eyes staring into your own. Your thump brushed across his lips softly as your other hand reached to the back of his neck. You pulled him closer and then pressed your lips against his own. Warmth spread through you like a fire on a dreary winter night. ‘…and I want to protect you…’
You pressed your lips once more against his before he could reply. In the moment, you forget your surroundings. You forgot there was a world outside the two of you. It was only the two of you that existed, that were substantial, wrapped around each other, safe and sound. Dean hugged you tighter and kissed you harder.
You don’t know how much time later you two pulled away. Dean pecked your lips once more before leaning his forehead against yours once more. ‘I have a deal.’ He said. His lips were so close to your own. It took you a moment to clear your head.
‘A deal?’ you asked breathlessly.
‘Yes.’ He said. His eyes were green, deep and dark and clear, gazing into your own E/C eyes with so much love that it made your heart clench painfully inside your chest. ‘How about…next time, we pull more of a team work on this protecting-each-other-thing, huh?’
You raised your eyebrows. ‘Teamwork?’ He nodded.
‘Yeah. How about, next time we pull a move like the one you pulled today, we give each other a heads-up? Cause, you know I can’t see you hurt.’ He cupped your cheek. ‘And you can’t see me hurt. So let’s do this protecting thing together. You protect me. I protect you. And neither of us do something totally reckless, unless it’s absolutely necessary-‘
‘Today was necessary.’
‘No, it was not.’
‘Yes, it was. The-‘
You blushed sheepishly and nuzzled into his palm. ‘Fine. I won’t. But the same goes to you.’
‘When am I ever reckless?’ He asked incredulous. You snorted.
‘Oh, please.’ You said. ‘Remember the wediego in Utah? You smashed a beer bottle against its head. And the banshee in Denver?’
‘Those were one time things!’
‘I have a list. Do you want me to go on?’
‘Fine.’ He groaned. He sobered up once more and looked at you. ‘So we have a deal?’.
You smiled. ‘Yeah.’
‘So you want to kiss again?’
He leaned over you and clasped his lips over your own. A few moments later, you groaned. He pulled back fast.
‘Dean…did you finish stitching my leg?’