Title: A Life Lived In Fear
Characters: Dean, OC, Sam
Spoilers: Beginning of season 2
Summary: She knows that despite his tough exterior, fear has a bigger hold over Dean’s actions than he would ever admit. It’s something she’s not immune to herself and it’s something that Sam wants to protect him from.
Dean Winchester had a voice that could make toes curl. How and why depended upon what he was saying at the time. The right things, like her name pouring from his lips, hot and heavy in her ear as she touched him, and those toes curled in overwhelming pleasure. The wrong things, like when he too harshly berated her for doing something that he considered reckless and dumb, and they scrunched in anger, digging into the carpet in attempt to take her temper out on the floor rather than him.
Just occasionally though he said things that made her toes curls in cringing apprehension, knowing that what he’d just said was going to lead to yet more of those tricky conversations that she was constantly trying to avoid.
It seemed that now was one of those times.
Sam had brought her an ice pack and a sympathetic smile before making a hasty retreat to the shower. He’d seen the look in Dean’s face, knew the sort of mood his brother was in and had decided not to stick around, clearly not wanting to be drawn into the middle of an oncoming argument. Coward.
Isabel sat on the edge of the bed, pressing the pack a little more firmly to her left cheek, wincing slightly as it dug into her jaw. In fairness there was little she could have done to have prevented it. The whole reason she was there was because as an empath she could detect the precise presence of demons and spirits far more accurately than even one of their EMF meters could and she didn’t think it was fair that she was blamed for doing her job. She’d reacted purely out of instinct when she’d suddenly felt it shoot past her and into the adjacent corridor, following the spirit without hesitation. Dean and Sam she told herself probably should have been a bit quicker on their feet. They were still half a corridor away when she’d entered the room.
They were still at least ten paces away when she flew out again and clattered into the opposite door frame, the spirit having apparently decided that it didn’t like being followed. Or that it didn’t like her, one of the two. It was becoming an all too common occurrence of late.
As was Dean looking at her the way he was right at that moment. The expression on his face all too serious, asking her why she was doing this to him. He was very good at making her feel guilty for not wanting to stay at home, working safely in her occult supplies shop and keeping out of harm’s way. It was like he was almost accusing her of purposefully trying to hurt him.
She saw the tenseness in his jaw as he crouched down in front of her, pulling her hand and the ice pack away, turning her chin slightly so he could get a better look in the light of the bedside lamp.
“That’s gonna be one hell of a bruise...” he muttered, his thumb momentarily tracing her jaw line, “You gotta stop getting whacked by these things. People are gonna start thinking I knock you around or something.”
He was trying to make light of it that was obvious. Maybe some of the things she’d said about him shutting the hell up about the topic were finally sinking in. Maybe he was at last starting to realise that he couldn’t change her mind.
Both those ‘maybes’ were nice but she guessed too much to hope for. Dean was stubborn and pig headed and those traits came out most when he was being protective.
“Don’t be stupid,” she replied, trying to keep the mood light too, trying to delay the inevitable, “I’d kick your ass...”
The smallest trace of a smile alighted his lips.
“Oh yeah, you wanna try me?”
“Why,” she asked with a raise eyebrow, “You wanna add something else to that stellar criminal record of yours?”
“I’m going for the full set of felonies. Then I get the t-shirt.”
She smiled rather wanly
“Yeah, that’s what I always dreamed of – the boy I could take home to mama.”
Except of course she hadn’t. She hadn’t even known her mother. Like Dean, her mother was dead. Just one of at least dozens murdered by a yellow eyed demon in the middle of the night whilst their small children slept.
Dean stalled a moment, glancing down and away from her and she knew exactly what was coming next.
“Talking of going home...”
She sighed heavily, knowing it had to have been too good to be true. You couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks and it seemed you couldn’t change Dean Winchester’s mind either no matter how many times you argued about the same damn thing.
“Can we have this conversation when I can, you know, talk?” she asked, her words slightly mumbled as he pressed the ice pack back to her jaw, trying to convince him that she really wasn’t in the mood for this yet again.
“You don’t need to talk,” he said shortly as he stood, putting distance between them, “You need to shut up and listen for once.”
She cringed, toes curling in apprehension, knowing what was coming.
“In the morning I’m taking you back to the shop,” he declared firmly, “Straight there, no hunting side trips on the way.”
“No you’re not.”
Her response was blunt and resolute. A lesser man would have let it go there.
“Yes I am.”
“Yes I –“, he stopped, huffing in annoyed frustration, “Look, you don’t get a say in this, okay? Apparently for some reason your psychic mojo pisses spirits off and they keep swinging for you.”
Dean cared, she knew that. It was the only reason he behaved this way. But by god did he piss her off at times. Sam too felt the brunt of this on occasion and he liked it no better than she did. Maybe he’d taken on the big brother role for too long, maybe the idea of being the oldest and the head of the family made him think he could control everything. Whatever, neither she nor Sam needed telling what to do.
“You know,” she muttered tersely, “It’s a good job I need this ice pack right now or I’d be swinging it at your head.”
“You’re a liability Izzy,” he said, almost brutally.
So that was his new tactic? Try and make her think it was better for him if she went home? Nice try but she wasn’t buying it.
“No I’m not,” she said bluntly, “You need me.”
“We have the meters,” he dismissed, “We’ll manage.”
She looked at him steadily, “That’s not what I meant.”
There was a long pause whilst he held her gaze. Then he turned away, wiping his hands over his face, not wanting her to see his expression. It didn’t matter. She knew well enough that she was right.
Dean was a barely contained mess when she’d met him that much had been obvious once she got past the cocky arrogance and the blunt mannerisms. Sam understandably had plenty of things of his own to worry about and so Dean had barely said a word to him about it. But what with their father gone and his warning about Sam playing heavily on his mind, Dean was drowning under the weight of pressures that he couldn’t get away from. It was destroying him, pure and simple.
He had admitted as much when he came to see her one night at the shop, a mask of friendly banter barely hiding the fear underneath. And he was afraid. Not for Sammy; he’d protect his brother with his life if it came down to it and he had an almost religious certainty that nothing would happen to Sam whilst he was around. No, he was afraid for himself. Afraid that in order to do his job properly he was getting colder and harder and any ability he once had to see the good in the world was rapidly fading. For the first time in his life he was starting to think of an existence beyond hunting and was starting to wonder if, for him, there was never going to be one.
That was probably why he’d kissed her that night. A reminder that there was life as well as death and that perhaps he wasn’t such a lost cause after all.
“Look,” he said tightly, trying hard to ignore her words, “You’re going home. End of discussion.”
“You heard me,” she snapped, the aching in her face making her more irritable at him than was really fair, “What you gonna do, Dean? Tie me up, throw me in the back of your car and drive the two hundred miles back?”
“Don’t tempt me,” he almost growled. She knew him well enough to realise that for a small moment he probably had considered it.
“You try it and I’ll spend that two hundred miles kicking your doors in,” she said through venomously gritted teeth, “See if you can panel beat that out.”
He huffed in exasperation.
“Why have you gotta be so stubborn, huh? Do you like getting hurt or something?”
“Oh yes, this is my idea of a good evening out.”
Sarcasm dripped from her voice. Well, ask a stupid question and you were due a stupid answer.
“Then why are you still here?”
He was almost shouting now, his tightly controlled temper on the brink of breaking free.
Her patience went first though.
“Because for some god forsaken reason I care about you, Dean,” she said, genuinely angry that he was unwilling to take that into consideration or able to remember that it wasn’t just his own feelings at stake here, “Quite a lot in fact. And I’d rather be with you and face this than be on my own. Sorry if that’s such a damn inconvenience!”
They never said the ‘l-word’. It was an unspoken agreement really. Sam certainly knew about them so it was no secret and yet they never admitted they were together and thankfully he never asked. To say anything of the sort would be to admit that this was perhaps something more permanent than Dean’s usual one night flings and that would surely just be tempting fate to put a painful boot in.
Still, her confession made him stop and look at her at least. So rarely did they say anything so concrete. Even in his bed, skin against skin, his hands clinging to her, he communicated all that he needed to in the needy groans of her name. When she knew something was getting to him she never said ‘it’ll be okay, baby, don’t worry’, she just placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed slightly or, on the rarest of occasions, dropped a comforting kiss into his hair.
Perhaps she was as guilty of living in fear as he was, both of them hiding this relationship in the shadows and hoping that if there was nothing to notice, all the terrible things out there and would leave it be. But what was the saying? A life lived in fear was a life half lived?
It wasn’t what she wanted for them. Didn’t he understand that that was why she had to keep going? If they could at least get that yellow eyed son of a bitch then they could maybe afford to live some sort of semblance of a normal life.
Silently he walked over and sat by her side, his thighs pressing close and warm into hers, a sudden tenderness in his actions. He took ice pack from her, pressing it to her jaw, holding her now chilled fingers in his other hand to warm them.
“ You’re crazy, you know that?” he said, his tone much softer now if somewhat weary, “This ain’t exactly a jaunty road trip. Hell, if I was you I’d have bailed a long time ago.”
She smiled a little.
“No you wouldn’t. You’d carry on because you know it’s better than sitting at home and waiting for the world to end.”
He couldn’t deny that and so he said nothing.
“And what do you expect me to do Dean?” she asked, almost pleadingly, trying to get him to understand what she was feeling whilst she had a more willing audience than usual, “Wait and wonder if you finally did something really crazy and ended up dead? You wouldn’t do it so don’t ask me to.”
Again there was no dispute.
“Besides,” she said determinedly, “You and Sam shouldn’t have to do this alone. I know you both feel it’s your responsibility but you’re not the only ones it’s affected, you know? I’ve lost family too and I’m not the only one. You don’t have the monopoly on this. And don’t you have a right to your own lives? The sooner this is over the sooner you can get on with them.”
He shook his head, his answer totally honest.
“This is never over. You know that.”
“Maybe not,” she said, not willing to agree with that, wanting to keep her hope intact, but not wanting to argue any more either, “But I’m a grown woman Dean and I can make my own choices. You don’t have like them but you can’t change them.”
“The hell I can’t,” he mumbled.
She smiled a little wider this time. That was her Dean. Give him impossible odds and he’d try and break them. She reached up with her free hand, running it through his short hair.
“If it makes you happy baby you keep on trying.”
He kissed her without warning, a sudden impulse telling him that he needed to. It was such a rare event these days what so much more to worry about that it took her by surprise. It was certainly a pleasant one though as his hands pulled her closer to him and his tongue pressed firmly at her lips. He pulled her even nearer as she allowed him entrance, his kiss half way between lust and desperation. Her fingers took their opportunity to skim over flesh she’d so nearly forgotten, up his jaw and through his hair, across his shoulders and down his back. There was a different type of tension there now, one that wasn’t as familiar as she’d like.
“Yeah, I really shoulda booked two rooms...” he muttered, breath hot against her lips, his voice thick and breathy as he finally pulled away, resting his forehead against hers.
“Stop propositioning the mildly concussed woman. It’s not gentlemanly.”
“So not a gentleman,” he pointed out, kissing her again and pressing his hand up her inner thigh just to hammer the point home.
“A girl can dream, can’t she?” she teased with a sigh.
“Yeah and a girl can get a decent night’s sleep too,” he pointed out, a trace of regret in his voice.
Sam gingerly opened the bathroom door. All was quite so he assumed they’d either killed one another or gone out. It was quite a surprise to find them both asleep on one tiny single bed, Dean lying on his back, one arm thrown above his head whilst the other was wrapped around her, settling on her hip. She was pressed close to his side, arm across his stomach.
Sam smiled. It was nice. Comfortable. Dean had had plenty of girls before but very rarely had he had this. Sam remembered what it was like when he and Jess had been together. He remembered what it was like to sleep like that, just holding her, knowing she was there.
More than anything he wanted Dean to have that too. His brother had done so much to protect and help him and it was about time he gave something back. At least Sam had gotten away from all this for a while. Dean had known nothing else. It wasn’t right and it certainly wasn’t healthy.
More than ever now he was determined to finish this demon, not for himself, nor for Izzy or the other people like them. Not for his father. Not even for his mother. He wanted to do it for Dean. He wanted to give him a chance at some sort of life away from all this. It was the very least he deserved.