Part Three: Cure
Guilt was such a silly notion.
As he watched one thing after another unravel in that alleyway, Crowley could feel the sensation of it creeping around the fringes of his consciousness but resolutely batted the emotion away. Such a waste of time; guilt. Pointless, he thought as he watched Bella fall into Dean, the First Blade sinking even deeper into her abdomen, a harsh wet squish that was unnaturally loud amongst the chaos.
Things rarely went according to plan these days, he noted dispassionately.
Curious, he watched as Dean caught Bella up against him. The poor bastard’s hands shook as he quickly removed the blade and gathered her limp body to his chest. Falling to his knees, Dean stared at the vivid red blood that stained his hands. It slowly dripped down his fingers and onto her lifeless body, hitting her cheeks in muted plops that began to trickle down her face. She looked like she was crying as her glassy, lifeless eyes stared unseeingly up at him. Crying blood while lying dead in her lover’s arms.
How fucking morbid was that, he thought with a disgusted scoff.
Focused on the macabre scene as he was, he saw the instant Dean snapped. It was like watching an already taut rubber band being rapidly and abruptly pulled beyond the brink of what physics said it could stretch until with a terrible snap! it broke under the pressure and lashed out at whoever was nearest. The past few weeks of boozing and paling around with his new demon bestie had Crowley well aware that hanging with Dean was like poising oneself against the tip of a blade. Ruled by his basic impulses, he’d either gut you or throw his arm around you and buy you a drink before singing some Right Said Fred at karaoke. Either way, he’d have a wicked smile all the while.
That was part of the reason he’d tipped off Sammy boy to their whereabouts. As brutally fun as Dean was, he was bad for business. Killing off clients and breaking deals left and right… and there was no reining him in.
But he’d hoped their bromance would be salvaged when they’d happened across the stripper. Perhaps that human blood from Moose had softened him more than he realized but when they’d stumbled into that club, half-drunk and looking for some action, even Crowley had been rather taken with the innocent vixen swinging on the pole.
For him, his fascination with little Bella had sprung from curiosity. Just what was that little girl hiding behind that long brown hair and shining innocent eyes? Dean had been struck much harder though, his connection with the girl instantaneous and complete.
“We’re staying,” he’d murmured with a smirk, black eyes never leaving the stage as she swayed rhythmically to some Bon Jovi.
“Copy that,” Crowley had murmured, flagging down a waitress for some drinks.
Even then he knew; Bella was either going to save Dean or damn him for good.
Dean’s eyes flickered from hazel to black to hazel again, his head slowly moving side to side as though fighting something off. Crowley took a wise step back and sequestered himself away in a corner already knowing what was to come.
An abrupt stillness slipped over Dean as though someone had poured a bucket of ice water over his head, freezing him in place. Crowley could see the numb iciness flowing over him even as he started to move, arms wooden and stiff while placing Bella on the ground before him. With one last caress of her cheek to swipe away a bloody tear, he rose to his feet, knees cracking a protest at the stilted movement. He stared down at her for a long moment. Crowley thought he heard the faint whisper of ‘I’m sorry‘ fall from Dean’s lips and land in the alleyway like rolling thunder heralding an oncoming storm…
And then Dean looked up, eyes scanning the alley with eerie calm until they locked on the Cold Ones. Crowley subconsciously pressed closer to the wall at his back, trying to avoid the terrible black rage he saw there, an anger that promised swift retribution.
They were all damned now, he thought as Dean’s jaw clenched and he stepped over Bella’s lifeless body with all the ease of someone stepping over a puddle.
He moved mechanically and with a deadly precision Crowley couldn’t help but admire. A well-oiled machine – a weapon honed from a young age – trained to fight and kill the supernatural. One by one, he brought his blade down on the vampires – also a few of Crowley’s demons who couldn’t get out of the way fast enough – in a violent hail of raw fury. Limbs were rent apart, venom spraying both across his unflinching face and the dank pavement while cries for mercy were met with black apathy.
He saved the ginger leech for last. As he turned his head to look over his shoulder at the cowering fool, Dean’s lips pressed together into an unflinching line, his jaw ticking as he turned slowly. Stepping over the mangled bodies of the boy’s family, the heavy thuds of his booted feet sounded like a death knell drum ticking down.
“No, please – stop. Just stop!” the boy pleaded in a warbling cry. His dark eyes were wide with horror and he appeared to be in a state of shock.
Crowley supposed seeing your “immortal” family torn to wet shreds within a matter of minutes would do that to a guy; even a Cold One.
“Stop?” Dean mocked, voice raw and full of gravel. Tilting his head, he studied the boy with the menacing air of a predator closing in on a little, wounded lamb. Without warning, he bent down and grabbed the boy by his ankle, yanking him away from the wall he cowered against and dragging him out into the open alleyway. Exposed, Crowley thought as the boy shivered in fear, and vulnerable.
Haunching down over the vampire to keep him from kicking and squirming away like a little worm on a hook, Dean took the First Blade to Edward’s throat and pressed it to his marble skin, a deadly caress. “I won’t ever stop,” Dean said, the words a dark promise that cut through Crowley like black glass.
He started to slice through the boy’s neck with aching gentleness and patience. His hands held the soft intimacy of a lover as he softly killed him, murmuring, “I’m going to burn this world to ash and when I get tired of human screams, I’ll take this show on the road downstairs just to find you. Enjoy your vacation on the racks – consider that slice of hell a brief reprieve until I come for you and teach you the real meaning of the word pain.”
With a firm flick of his wrist, Dean finally silenced Edward’s sniveling whimpers and the boy’s head hit the ground with a heavy plop, rolling to a stop about an inch away from Crowley’s feet.
He stared into the glassy, lifeless eyes of the vampire boy a long moment feeling something akin to satisfaction – relieved, even – that the bastard who had kill Isabella was dead. Not only that but there was a special excitement dancing over his skin as to the fact knowing said vampire was getting an express lane ticket on the highway to hell… The boy would be well and truly under Crowley’s thumb and he was particularly eager for some one on one time with the bastard as he did his time on the racks.
“Seems like Christmas has come early, boys,” he muttered to his demons lingering at the entryway of the alley, still wary of Dean who was stoic and panting as he stared off into space. “Why don’t you gents head on home and make sure our new guest is feeling welcome. Put out the Sunday best.”
Let it never be said he was one to look a gift horse in the mouth… Crowley was going to enjoy his time peeling his ounce of flesh out of the boy’s marble skin over and over again.
“What the hell was that?”
Crowley blinked and turned to the sasquatch he’d all but forgotten in the face of Dean’s fury.
“Why hello there, Moose – better late than never, eh?” he greeted Sam as though the guy’s brother hadn’t just massacred an alley full of vampires as easily as one tied their shoes.
Dean snapped to attention and Crowley froze when those pitiless black eyes focused on him and Sam. “Did you call him here?” he growled out.
Despite himself, Crowley swallowed as his throat went dry. He’d seen Dean lost to bloodlust many times but he’d never heard him sound quite so inevitable; there was no coming back from the edge for him now. He’d well and truly snapped and fallen of the cliff into madness.
“I trust you came prepared?” Crowley prompted, eyes wide as Dean took a step towards him.
Though he’d never admit it, the relief he felt when Sam moved to intervene was almost staggering. The hunter moved in a well practiced ease, coming up behind Dean and dousing him with a flask full of holy water.
Smoke sizzled off Dean’s skin and he hissed, sounding more annoyed than pained. Before the demon could turn around and set that wicked blade of his to work gutting his brother, Sam brought one arm around Dean’s chest and hauled him back while the other came down and smashed the butt of his pistol into his left temple.
Dean-o collapsed like a sack of bricks.
Heaving, Sam gave himself a little shake and stared down at his brother with grim determination. But the boy was smart; Crowley knew that, and wasn’t entirely surprised when his eyes flicked to Bella’s body before catching his in a narrow-eyed glare.
“Who is she?” he demanded.
“You might want to shake a leg,” Crowley said dryly, moving to block Bella from Sam’s searching gaze. “He won’t be out for long.”
Gritting his teeth, Sam turned to his brother and hauled him up, grimacing under Dean’s solid weight. Crowley pointedly did not offer to help.
“This makes us even,” Sam said, moving to exit the alleyway. “You stay away from Dean now – he’s not one of your little demon lackeys anymore, you got me?”
Crowley smirked. “Whatever you say, Sammy boy. Good luck,” he paused and then added with a hint of a malicious taunt, “– you’re gonna need it.”
With one last parting glare, Sam hauled his brother out and a moment later, a car engine roared to life.
Taking a moment to collect himself and gather his scattered thoughts, Crowley turned and eyed Isabella’s lifeless body pensively.
“Time to head home, sir?” a low-level demon sidled up to him and asked.
Frowning, Crowley continued to stare at Isabella. He knew what his demons thought of him of late – that’d he’d grown distracted and soft. When the sinking feeling grew heavier the longer he stared at the girl’s ashen, lifeless form, Crowley had to wonder if they were right.
Ah hell, he shook it off, coming to his decision. In for a penny, in for a pound as they say…
“No,” he answered, walking over to Isabella and crouching by her side. Her eyes were wide and sightless, tiny drops of her blood smearing on the snow white apple of her cheek. The sight caused the pang of guilt to grow but with it he also felt a swell of fondness. Little chit rather had grown on him…
“Change of plans, boys,” he announced, scooping the girl up into his arms. Her head fell limply against his shoulder and for a brief moment, he rested his chin atop her forehead and took a deep, sobering breath.
“Let’s get our girl here to her room and get the word out – I want Castiel brought to me.”
“Castiel, sir? But he is virtually human now – useless and…”
Letting loose a long suffering sigh, Crowley freed a hand and snapped his fingers. The questioning demon froze, eyes wide in terror as his mouth was forced open and a black, billowing cloud of smoke was forcibly expelled. Once done, the empty human body collapsed in a lifeless heap and Crowley turned to the others and quirked a brow.
“Anyone else need me to clarify?”
Shaking their heads and falling over themselves to carry out his orders, Crowley snorted lightly as they all left the alley in a rush.
Rolling his eyes, he looked back down to the dead body in his arms and murmured in Bella’s ear, “We just can’t find good help these days, can we, love?”
The night sky was rolled out above her in a technicolor blanket of swirling color. The pavement she laid on was wet and cool against her back, soothing her mind of all thoughts as Bella relaxed in the center of the road. Silence; her mind was filled with it and she was content to lie on that wet road in the middle of nowhere for all eternity, really.
A rumbling purr of a car’s engine split the night.
Unconcerned, she kept her peaceful gaze trained on the shooting stars above her even as headlights washed over her and a car came to a stop, its wheels and front door a scant three feet from her face.
“Are you gonna lie around all night, Cherry, or are you gonna get in and come with me?”
Her small smile grew into a beaming grin as she sat up and turned to the speaker.
“Dean,” she sighed and bit her lip in relief. “I was waiting for you.”
Dean grinned and her heart fluttered when she spied those dimples of his. “Well here I am, sweetheart; come on, let’s go for a ride.”
She nodded and picked herself up. Tilting her head, Bella took in the car he was driving. Sleek, black and all muscle – it was nothing like the cars he’d been stealing and driving her around in lately.
Closing the door with a gentle thud, she ran an appreciative hand along the dashboard. “I love this car,” she said, turning to him with a playful grin.
If possible, Dean’s smile got larger. “I knew you and Baby would get along. She’s great, isn’t she?”
Bella giggled a bit. “Baby? You named the car Baby?”
“I sure did,” he beamed, completely unashamed of his apparent love affair as he patted the steering wheel affectionately.
She shot him a playful look. “Should I be jealous?” she teased.
He narrowed his eyes in thought.
“Dean?” she prompted on a laugh when he remained quiet.
“I’m thinking,” he barked defensively before he smiled and confessed, “Maybe a little.” Then he dropped a wink that had her simultaneously blushing while laughing.
The seat vibrated pleasantly under her as he revved the engine and took off down the road. Their time passed in quiet, comfortable banter. A small corner of her mind noted the unusual lack of road marks – no stop signs, no mile markers, absolutely no evidence or sign of life – but she casually dismissed the oddity when Dean smiled at her and gestured her over to him. Obligingly, she slid over and under his arm, nuzzling into his neck lightly as she curled against him as he drove, never mentioning where they were going.
More time passed and Bella noticed the unusual beauty of the night sky… Was there a meteor shower slated to appear tonight? What was up with the aurora borealis lights streaking the sky and tinting the cab of the car a soothing green-blue? They weren’t anywhere near north enough and was it just her, or was the night sky almost too close to them? Everything looked far too detailed but again as she noticed the strangeness of it all, she also got lost in the beauty of it and was lulled into comfort once more, Dean’s hand rubbing soothingly up and down her arm.
Again, some time passed and the next thing to pique her interest was impossible to dismiss. Peering up at him with a frown, Bella listened as Dean rambled on about the merits of Metallica’s Master of Puppets album. He sounded… different. It was hard to pinpoint what it was that was raising the red flag but as he continued on chatting away, it hit her like a cold slap to the face.
He was happy. Too happy. Unnaturally happy for being, well, Dean. Not once did his eyes flicker black. Not once did she see the subtle hidden sadness he was never without. He was damn near bubbly.
She’d never seen him so… human before.
A cold trickle of awareness danced down her spine and her heart tightened. Not only did this new realization have her want to cry for Dean and what it said about the reality of his life, but it also had her chest seizing. Something bad had happened, she suddenly remembered, and the scene she now found herself in – no matter how lovely and pleasant – just wasn’t right.
A sudden flapping – kind of like a heavy coat flapping in the breeze or even the rapid fluttering of wings on a large bird – sounded in the cab just as Bella came to another realization.
“I’m dreaming,” she said sadly, feeling disappointed as she pulled slightly away from Dean who just continued talking.
“You’re not dreaming,” a new voice announced.
Jumping, Bella twirled around to the backseat and started when she saw a man sitting mildly there. His hair was dark and ruffled as if he’d been sitting in a car with all the windows down. His eyes were both curious and kind, impossibly blue as they roved over Dean before he dismissed him entirely and focused on her.
“Hello Isabella,” he greeted, not unkind even if a bit monotone.
“Um,” she trailed off. Despite knowing she was definitely dreaming now, no matter what this newcomer said, Bella still inched into Dean for comfort. “Hi? And you would be…?”
“Forgive my intrusion but a mutual… acquaintance… of ours asked me to come and retrieve you. My name is Castiel.”
“Can I just wake up now? This is far too weird to be dealing with…” she shot back, feeling unnerved by the word ‘retrieve.’
“You are upset,” he pointed out, almost like he was confirming it to himself. “Is heaven not to your liking?”
“Heaven?” she blurted out in a combination of a scoff and laugh.
“Yes,” the man – Castiel – said, nonplused. “For most people, heaven is a series of memories in which they were the happiest. For some, however,” he looked at her, vaguely sympathetic. “For some who are lacking in such memories to make it substantial, heaven manifests itself as what their heart desires most.”
Her eyes flicked to Dean who was silent now, smiling and carefree as he stared out at the road, completely oblivious to her and the stranger in a trench coat.
“Think Isabella,” he encouraged. “What is the last thing you remember before appearing here?”
She thought back. “I was, erm, dancing for Dean,” she blushed thinking that was putting it mildly. “And then…” The memory slammed into her and without thinking, her right hand went down to her abdomen and felt for a nonexistent wound. “Oh,” she whispered, remembering Edward pulling her in front of him in a desperate attempt to block Dean’s blade.
Then she remembered. Dean’s flickering eyes as the blade slid home into her stomach and her blood poured out over his hands… His whispered, “I’m sorry,” falling into her like a feather floating home to ground… Then darkness until she woke up on the road in the middle of nowhere… Waiting, feeling that it would be wrong to travel the road alone… That she needed someone with her.
She needed Dean.
“I see…” she finally accepted the truth. Tears welled up in her eyes and when she blinked, one heavy tear fell down her cheek.
“I am sorry,” Castiel said with genuine sincerity.
She looked back at Dean and her heart tightened again. “Not as sorry as I am,” she whispered.
Castiel cocked his head and studied her. “You care a great deal for him.”
“I love him,” she confessed. The admission had been one she’d been dancing around for a while, knowing it to be true but refusing to acknowledge it. It seemed pointless to deny it now.
She felt Castiel’s eyes burning into the side of her face as he studied her with an intensity that bordered on indecent.
“Dean is… well, it’s complicated,” he began.
She shot him a wry look. “No shit,” she said.
He cracked a smile at her and the action made him look lighter and even more handsome. “But the Dean you know isn’t really Dean at all, not completely,” he cautioned softly. “I have to wonder… if you knew the real him – would you feel the same?”
Frowning, she stared at him. He sounded sympathetic to her plight but also protective. Castiel was worried about Dean, she realized, and about the veracity of her affections. A twinge of defensiveness hit her but she stopped that and forced herself to acknowledge the validity of his concern. Truthfully, it eased her heart some to know Dean had people to care for him when she herself could no longer do so.
So thinking over his words in careful consideration, Bella smiled. It was a no brainer. “Of course,” she whispered, her hand subconsciously going to Dean’s thigh and squeezing. Heaven-Dean looked down at her and grinned, still oblivious. “I love Dean,” she said. “Every part of him, for better or worse and let’s face it – I’ve seen a lot of his worse. I knew about the demon thing right from the start but I just as easily saw the human buried within. He was always there, lurking behind the rage and hurt.”
Moments of tenderness that had passed between then flickered in her mind like a small candle flame fighting to burn despite the wind. Dean never seemed to notice it, but often times his hand would smooth down her skin reassuringly or his fingers would massage under her hair at the base of her neck. There were several similar signs of affection, all ones that he never seemed conscious of, almost like they were instinct and he did them without thinking; his human side coming through in small, simple gestures. Those were the moments she fell just as easily as when he was singing obnoxious karaoke songs.
“I believe you,” Castiel announced. A sense of acceptance passed over her, like she’d won over her boyfriend’s family. “If you would take my hand,” he held his hand out palm up. “It’s time for you to go.”
She stared at his proffered hand before shaking her head, reclining back into Dean as she tightened her grip around his thigh. “No offense or anything,” she said. “But you said it yourself – this is heaven. I don’t know how long I waited on the side of this road for, unable to move, knowing that somehow it was wrong for me to travel or move forward alone. Then out of nowhere Dean came and I felt right again. Even knowing it’s fake, it’s better than feeling cast adrift, waiting for something that may never come. This may be a hollow heaven, but it’s better than nothing.”
Castiel smiled reassuringly. “You misunderstand,” he stated. “I mean to take you from heaven, yes, but also bring you back to life and take you to Dean – the real Dean.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “How exactly do I know that for sure?”
“Our acquaintance,” he said stiltedly, frowning over the word. “Told me to tell you to, and forgive me but I am quoting here, get that luscious ass of yours back down there so he can finish corrupting you. The next time you die you’ll go to hell and he’ll make you his court jester.’”
Laughter burst out of her and it only got worse when she took in Castiel’s frowning, confused face.
“Oh I can’t wait to give Crowley hell for that,” she giggled.
“You want to give the King of Hell… hell?” Castiel asked.
“Crowley thinks he’s hot stuff,” she giggled a little at the pun. “But he’s rather soft on the inside.”
“Crowley?” Castiel deadpanned. “Soft?”
She shrugged. “In his own way. I wonder why he didn’t come and fetch me himself, lazy bum,” Bella couldn’t help but to wonder now that she knew who had sent Castiel.
Castiel leaned forward. “He’s a demon,” he said in joking confession, giving her a kind of wry, cheesy smile. “Heaven kind of frowns on his sort coming in here.”
“So you’re not a demon then?” she asked. Knowing that Crowley had sent him, she’d automatically assumed he was one.
He smiled again, looking inordinately amused. “No, I’m not. I’m an angel of the Lord.”
Her eyes widened. “Get out!”
Smiling vaguely and looking almost confused, he said, “I think I’m familiar with this one – you’re expressing shock, correct?”
Giggles spilled forth again and this time when Castiel held out his hand, Bella took it without hesitation.
With his back to the door, Sam gritted his teeth and tried to catch his breath.
Crowley was spot on – Dean hadn’t been out for long and it seemed luck just wasn’t on Sam’s side. It hadn’t taken his brother long at all to regain consciousness, slip out of his chains and make it out of the devil’s trap.
“Oh Sammy…” Dean sing-songed. There was a loud slam against the door and Sam threw his weight back against. “Don’t be like that, Sammy – I just want to talk to you!”
Another jarring thud.
“Do you wanna build a snowman?” Dean taunted next, slamming into the door again.
Despite himself, Sam rolled his eyes. “I didn’t know you were into Disney movies, Dean,” he shouted back, eyes scanning the room for something he could wedge against the door. His gaze lit upon a solid looking chair and he weighed his odds of the locked door withstanding Dean’s onslaught if he were to dart out and grab it.
“That ice queen? Yeah, she was pretty hot…” Dean grunted as he slammed into the door again.
Taking a chance, Sam leaped away, snagged the chair and then wedged it under the door knob. Knowing it would buy him only seconds, he tried a Hail Mary to knock Dean off his game and called out, “Not as hot as that piece you were hanging out with in the alleyway.”
Silence. The abrupt silence on the other side of the door was so loud Sam’s ears were ringing with it.
“Bad move, Sammy,” he heard Dean murmur, almost regretfully. “Bad move.”
The door gave an impressive shudder right before it splintered apart under Dean’s unrelenting fists. That was when Sam realized Dean hadn’t been putting any real effort into breaking it down before. He’d just been toying with him.
“Yep,” he he mumbled to himself. “Bad move, indeed.”
The door splintered further and Dean stuck his head through. Spotting Sam pressed up against the wall, Dean grinned, his obsidian eyes so dark Sam feared he’d get sucked into the blackness if he maintained eye contact.
“Heeeere’s Johnny!” Dean drew out, smashing away at the door again.
Swallowing, Sam took off running and while he was able to make it out through another door, Dean wasn’t far behind. He already had a broken arm from an earlier confrontation that week and with the power to the bunker having been cut already he knew it would be just a matter of time before Dean cornered him.
He never thought he’d see the day he’d be hunted by his own brother.
Running through the kitchen, he swiped up a knife but Dean was right behind.
“What are you gonna do with that knife, Sammy? You gonna kill me? You’re just adorable, aren’t you?”
Dean surged forward and crashed into him, slamming Sam up against the wall. They wrestled for the knife but Dean had the upper hand, easily gaining control of it and slowly inching it to Sam’s throat.
“Dean – Dean don’t!” Sam grunted as the knife crawled ever closer to him.
“You think I care anymore, Sammy? You think I give one damn about this godforsaken shithole?”
“Stop Dean, you don’t want to do this!” Sam tried again, his arm cramping and seizing against the unrelenting force of his brother.
“You’re wrong there, Sammy. What can I say? It’s been a ride – see ya on the other side, brother,” he smiled darkly as his arm steeled even further.
One word – his brother’s name – and the knife stilled.
Unable to turn and risk the blade cutting him, Sam watched as Dean’s eyes widened and flicked. Black, to hazel, to black… He looked conflicted and – hopeful?
“Dean. Please stop.”
In response, his arm slackened even further though Dean was clearly in a state of shock and unable to move beyond blinking. Slowly, Sam eased his way out from between Dean and the wall, his eyes shooting over his brother’s shoulder.
It was the girl. The girl from the alleyway. Cas was behind her, tense and ready to intervene, but he nodded reassuringly at Sam as the girl stepped closer.
“You want me to stop, Cherry?” Dean growled out in an oddly soft tone, still not turning around. “You never ask me to stop.”
“I know,” she whispered. “But I am asking right now.”
Sam drifted over to Cas and the girl, watching as she moved nearer yet to his volatile brother. He went to stop her from getting too close but froze when Cas gave him a pointed look and shook his head.
“He’s your brother, Dean,” she said gently as if by explanation, now close enough to place her hand on his own, still clenching around his knife. His arm wavered but he still didn’t turn around. Sam saw a playful, annoyed gleam enter her eyes as she dryly tacked on the word, “Apparently.”
And like that, all of the violence sighed away from Dean’s tense body. He turned, looking at the girl over his shoulder and grinned. “That how it’s gonna be, Cherry?”
“You know you like it,” she shot back, lifting a brow.
He grinned again which was an admittance in and of itself though he ignored her statement and instead looked her up and down, saying, “Well look at you – back from the dead, I see. Imagine that.”
Sam watched as the girl – either mad or fearless – took up the place he’d just been in, willingly trapping herself between the wall and Dean.
“Aren’t you gonna kiss me hello?” she asked with a smile.
“Isabella,” his brother whispered the name like a prayer. It was heavy and tangled with so much emotion it was impossible for Sam to interpret it all. “My Cherry.”
She smiled brighter and Sam had to admit that the expression on her face as she looked up at Dean, placing her hands on either side of his brother’s face, made her look positively radiant and even gave him pause.
“Put the demon away for now, Dean, and kiss me like you mean it.”
The knife clattered to the floor and Dean swooped the girl up into his arms, not needing to be told twice. When he kissed her, it was obvious the world around them melted away leaving them alone together. Every inch of them was centered and focused on the other.
He’s in love, the epiphany hit Sam like a foul ball out to left field. His brother was in love with that girl.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Cas slip forward, catching both his brother and the girl off guard and using his angel mojo to knock Dean out. He’d have to ask the guy how he got his super juice back but was too relieved not to have to see his brother and the girl kissing anymore. Not only was it starting to border on indecent, Dean’s hand hiking her thigh up around his hips, but the vulnerability and naked need they had for one another left Sam feeling like he was intruding. Not to mention it also sparked a small, burning ember of envy.
“We don’t have much time,” Castiel said, hauling Dean up. “We need to tie him back up and finish the cure.”
“Cure?” the girl asked, bending down to help. Sam frowned curiously as she gently stroked his brother’s forehead before rising, helping Cas to lift him up.
“That’s the plan, Isabella,” Castiel said as they started moving. “We’re gonna cure Dean.”
Less than an hour later had Dean securely bound and both Sam and Isabella – Bella, as she insisted they call her – more or less filled in on the other. At least the important bits, that is. While he was still largely shocked by her presence and what she meant to his brother, when she stubbornly insisted on using her own blood and finishing the last few doses for the cure herself, Sam thought it was easy to see how Dean could fall for her.
Sam watched, ready to jump in as she approached Dean who’d finally woken up, her shaking hand holding a syringe filled with her blood.
“I’m not so sure about this,” Sam mumbled to Cas as he eyed the scene in front of him nervously. “Maybe I should just finish it…”
“She’ll be fine, Sam,” Castiel reassured. “Dean’s not going to do anything to harm her.”
He hated to voice it, but he couldn’t help but ask, “Have you considered what will happen if this does work? If the cure works and Dean is no longer a demon will she stick around given that’s all she knows him as…?”
Castiel smiled. “Have faith, Sam. Isabella’s intentions are pure. She’ll do more than cure him – she’s going to be his salvation.”
“Come again?” Sam asked doubtfully.
“Cain was able to bear the mark for decades peacefully. He was able to move beyond the bloodlust and put up the blade – you remember why, don’t you?”
“His wife,” he answered, turning back to Bella and watching as she shuffled closer to Dean.
“His wife,” Castiel nodded. “You and I can cure Dean, Sam, but only Isabella can save him. For us he’d live but for her? For her, he’ll forsake the mark and fight. He already has, to some extent.”
It stung to a mild degree knowing that he alone wasn’t enough reason for his brother to not surrender to what he saw as inevitable, to always keep fighting. But he knew they’d both, purposefully and accidentally, had burned each other too many times in the past – especially recently. There wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for the other but Sam knew Dean. If his brother got it his head that succumbing to the mark was inevitable, then he’d give up. He’d go down swinging, but ultimately, Dean would give up.
Especially if he thought it’d save Sam from having to take him out himself.
But if he had Bella – sweet, innocent Bella who not only wanted him to keep fighting but needed him to do so? Sam had seen Dean do the impossible before and he didn’t doubt that he’d do it again for her.
“Isn’t this a little kinky, Cherry?” Dean asked after he’d scanned the room, black eyes glossing over him and Cas before dismissing them entirely as they alighted on her. “What with the audience and me being all tied up – don’t get me wrong; I’m down to party. Just surprised you’re wanting to put on a show.”
Strange, but his taunting had Bella relaxing. Her hand stopped shaking and she stood straighter as she moved closer to him, the curl of a smile on her pink lips. “Given where we first met I wouldn’t think you’d be all that surprised, Dean.”
“Is that what this is?” Dean’s eyes lit up. “You gonna give me a lap dance, Cherry.”
Bella smiled and came to a stop before him. Her hand lifted to his cheek and gentle massaged his smirk away. Sam noticed how despite the angry black eyes, Dean leaned into her touch, some part of him craving the contact even knowing what she was going to do.
“I’m going to give you everything you want, Dean. Everything I have is yours.”
With that, she plunged the syringe into his arm and injected her blood into him. Dean grunted and hissed, fists clenching around the arms of the chair but he didn’t fight her as he had Sam. There were no death threats or mocking taunts. The anger was there but somehow leashed. Whether unwilling or incapable of subjecting her to it, it was clear Dean would go to great lengths to protect Bella. Even from himself.
As the worst of it passed, Dean looked up at her again, panting and shaking as her blood traveled through his veins and started to burn out the demon. “You know you’re supposed to confess your sins first, right Cherry? Purify the blood. You wanna tell me your sins – a little dirty talk before the big event?”
“Oh Dean,” she smiled, her hand sifting through his hair affectionately. “We both know you’re my greatest sin.”
“You gonna repent for your sins then, Cherry? You gonna drop your sins like a bad habit and move on – start the good life of clean, wholesome living?”
Sam knew he wasn’t the only one who saw the genuine anger… and hurt… that she may do exactly that written across Dean’s face. Ignoring the barbed accusation, Bella placed herself sideways onto Dean’s lap and hugged him. Dean’s head nuzzled into her neck as she rested her chin atop his head.
“I don’t love the demon in you… I don’t love the human either. I just love Dean Winchester, however he happens to be.”
Dean’s shoulders slagged. He didn’t say anything, not as she remained on his lap and held him as time went on and not as she completed the two final doses with her blood. But his silence spoke loudly to Sam and he knew his earlier epiphany to be entirely accurate. Human or demon, it hardly mattered. Every part in Dean loved that woman so much that he’d willingly accept her blood as it seared through his veins, chipping away the only part of him she’d ever really known. He loved her enough to give her what she wanted even if it meant losing her.
When the last dosage of the cure was delivered, Dean slumped forward in the chair, panting as he let himself burn for the girl holding him tightly to her. The worst of it passed and when Dean looked up, Sam was irrevocably relieved when he looked into the hazel eyes of his brother.
He and Dean stared at each other a long moment in silence. Bella was none the wiser as she simply held him to her with her face planted into the side of Dean’s neck, unwilling to pull away from him. The corner of Dean’s mouth lifted in a tired greeting and Sam and Castiel both sagged in relief.
The cure had worked. Dean was human again.
In the next moment, Dean registered the weight of the girl on his lap and broke his stare with Sam. He looked down at her, as much as her fierce hold would allow anyway, and Sam watched as the smile grew even as his eyes hardened. He recognized the look of self-preservation instantly. Dean was hopeful but trying not to be… Too many times to count they’d been given a lucky break only for it to burn to ashes, scaring them in the process.
Sensing his movement, Bella loosened her hold and slowly pulled back far enough to meet Dean’s gaze.
A world of words passed between them in that silent look, both of them afraid of their welcome but too stubborn to admit so.
Sam saw Dean steel himself to break the tension, likely willing to take the risk so she wouldn’t have to. Always one to bear the brunt of the burden for others… “Bella?” he murmured, her name filled to the brim with questions.
The smile that stretched the girl’s face put the sun to shame and the soft but glazed look that crossed Dean’s eyes told Sam his brother thought so too. “Well sure,” Bella answered. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against his, closing her eyes for a moment before opening them. A teasing smile perked her lips as she added conspiratorially, “But I don’t mind it when you call me Cherry.”
“Is that so?” he lifted his brows and asked, eyes roving over her face as though worried she’d disappear at any moment. “Well then, you gonna untie me… Cherry?”
Her eyes widened in a combination of mischievous innocence. “Haven’t decided yet,” she said, obviously teasing.
Dean relaxed even further, his uncertain smile becoming more genuine. “That sounds… promising.”
“Doesn’t it though?” she shot back.
The moment of levity fell into something softer, more intimate and honest.
“Bella,” Dean whispered again, though it wasn’t so much a question this time as it was an affirmation. “My Bella,” he added so softly, Sam doubted even Dean knew he said it.
“Yes Dean,” she reassured him, her hands soothing down his arms as she brought her face closer to his.
Dean swept his tongue along his lower lip. “Well then,” he murmured to whatever unspoken agreement they appeared to have reached. “What’s this I remember hearing about a kiss?”
She smiled again. “I don’t know,” she teased. “Maybe you hit your head in your little scuffle from earlier.”
“Cruel woman,” he said without bite.
“Shut up,” she countered, putting Dean out of his misery and pressing her lips to his.
Sam turned away. His heart gave a pang for loves lost but his happiness for Dean far outweighed his envy.
“We still have the mark to deal with,” Castiel muttered to him, he too turning away from the couple.
“We’ll deal with it – as we always do,” Sam said. “For now, just let them be.”
“Shouldn’t we untie him?” Cas asked.
Sam mashed his lips together and fought a smirk. Clapping a hand to the angel’s shoulder, he said, “Dude – it wasn’t that long ago you were fully human. Do you really not know the answer to that?”
Cas glanced back at the couple, eyes widening as he saw that Bella now straddling Dean’s lap as a low groan of approval escaped the man.
“Right then,” the angel said and Sam couldn’t help but laugh as Cas made a quick escape.
Still, when he got to the door, Sam couldn’t help but pause and turn slightly as he heard Dean’s voice travel lowly throughout the room…
Relief and determination blanketed over him as Sam turned back around, closing the door on the loving scene. They may have won the battle and cured Dean… but he still had the Mark of Cain and so the war would rage on.
And Sam was even more determined to save Dean now that his brother had something to live for.
(A/N): Annnnnd scene! That’s the end, folks! I may at one point write a follow-up – I wanted to leave it open for one just in case – but that’s the end of Bad Medicine. Thank you all so much for you comments/reviews and for reading. I loved writing it and I can’t wait to write more Supernatural stories!
And super special thanks to 4Padfoot for my Dean navigation buttons – aren’t they just the best?! ❤