Author's note: This part gets a little hot and heavy. If that's not your thing, you may wanna skip it. Or at least anything that comes after Two Days Later. You have been warned. :)


Dean scanned through the newspaper with a frown, taking in every attack he could find and filing it away mentally for later use. "Damn," he muttered after a moment.


He looked up and eyed his brother for a moment. Sam had recovered well and, according to Michelle, surprisingly fast too. It wasn't that surprising to Dean. They both healed quickly. It seemed to be a genetic thing for them. Sam flexed his right shoulder a bit, then the fingers of his right hand. "There are six attacks that can be troll-related. And that's only in the last week," he said and leaned back on his chair. "How's the shoulder?"

Sam grimaced. "Sore, but way better," he said and manipulated his wrist back and forth a few times.

"Ribs?" Dean asked.

"Healing," Sam countered. "Six, huh? That's a lot. We'd better get back out there."

"As soon as possible," Dean agreed. "But not with you being at risk."

The look his little brother gave him was a well-known one and Dean smirked. "I'm not at risk, Dean. I'm ..." Sam cut himself off when the door to the apartment opened and Michelle came in. Sam shot Dean a saying look, which had him counter it with a warning look, to which Sam arched an eyebrow and smirked.

"Hi guys." Michelle dropped her backpack on the floor, took the two steps down to the main living room and leaned in to kiss Dean. "What are you two up to?"

"Not much. Just reading the newspaper," Dean countered with an easy smile. "Why are you home already?"

"I got off for good behavior," she said with a smirk and glanced at Sam. "How are you feeling today?"

Sam replied at first with a smile. "Fine," he said. "Still a bit sore, but that was to be expected."

She shook her head in wonder. "I have honestly never met anyone who healed as fast as you do. Is it genetic?" she asked and glanced at Dean.

"Think so," Dean said and arched an eyebrow at Sam's pointed look.

Michelle eyed him and he figured he knew what was going through her head. In part he figured he should be appalled by that look, but he couldn't really work up the indignation. There was something basic in him that relished the idea that she might consider him a good genetic match. "Well ... I have to pop out and get a few things. Do you guys need anything?"

"Nah, I'm good," Dean said.

Sam drew his usual bitch-face and shook his head, then smiled when Michelle glanced at him. "I'm fine," he assured her.

"Okay. Be back in a bit," she said, grabbed her bag and left the apartment again.

"I don't get why she comes back first and then goes out shopping. It's not like she's changing clothes or anything," Sam said and seemed to seriously wonder about it.

"Who cares? She has her routine," Dean countered and returned his attention to the newspaper. It took him a moment to realize that Sam was watching him closely. "What?" he asked without looking up.

"She suspects something."

"What are you talking about?" Dean knew what Sam was referring to, but right now he just didn't want to get into this.

"She knows you're hiding something," Sam pressed on, once again oblivious to the danger of pushing Dean when he didn't want to be pushed. "When are you going to tell her?"

"How is that any of your business?" Dean shot back, already annoyed with this topic.

"How is it not? You're stringing her along. How long are you gonna keep that up, huh?" Sam pushed. "Until we run out of trolls?"

"Maybe," Dean growled in reply and tried hard to focus on the newspaper. It bugged him because Sam was right.

"You're a dick, you know that?" Sam huffed, picked up his cup and sipped his coffee.

"What do you care when or if I tell her? It's not something you need to worry about, after all. Iz already knows and that should be enough for you." It was stupid, picking a fight. Childish. But he felt like he had to justify why he had so far chickened out from telling Michelle the truth.

Sam shook his head. "You're a dick," he repeated indignantly. "You're lying to her. You are so hooked on her that you're afraid she'll kick your ass to the curb if she finds out what you really do."

"Shut up, Sam," Dean warned.

"Why would she, huh? Michelle is not stupid. She knows something went down back then. She knows something's not kosher. Why don't you just get your ..."

Dean slammed a fist down on the table top, making the cup jump and spill some of his own coffee. "Cut it out, Sam! Right now! I mean it!" he snapped.

For a moment Sam just stared at him. Then he snorted. "You're such a chicken, Dean."

"I'd have to agree with Sam on that one."

Dean sighed, then glanced back at Isabel, who had managed to enter the apartment unheard, unnoticed. "Who asked you?" he snapped, unable to keep his anger at bay right now.

Isabel, fortunately, was not the type to get hurt by angry words. She just stood there and stared at him, the look in her eyes challenging. "Chell is my sister for all intents and purposes. I love her and I would do anything for her. And I know that you're going to hurt her with this crap if you don't get it out of the way soon. Sam's right. You're lying to her. And she hates that." Her tone was almost chilly and Dean found himself uncommonly anxious to appease her. It annoyed him, but he still felt that way; not that he would ever show it openly, of course.

"Can you guarantee me that she won't flip out and show me the door?" he asked and met her gaze dead on.

Isabel didn't back down. She just stood there, arms folded over her chest, her expression telling him just how deep this water was right now. And there was likely to be a sink hole at the bottom of this if he didn't watch his step right now. "No, I can't guarantee it. But I know Chell well enough to know that she appreciates the truth more than being lied to."

"Well, as long as you can't guarantee anything ..." He stopped himself, left it hanging in the air and returned his attention to the newspaper. All the while he could feel both their eyes on him and it took some doing to not respond to it.

Isabel muttered something under her breath, then turned to Sam. "Is he always like that?" she asked, her tone a tad indignant.

Dean actually found himself holding his breath in anticipation of what Sam might say. "Pretty much," Sam said, his tone even.

"How can you stand it?" Isabel asked, snorted and walked away.

Sam just sat there for a moment, then leaned forward, propping his elbows on the table edge. "Was that necessary?" he asked the second the front door clicked shut behind Isabel.

"Oh come on. Give me a break," Dean growled.

With a sigh, Sam leaned back again. "Why are you treating her like that? Because she doesn't buy your bullshit?"

"Because she's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong," Dean countered evenly and looked up to meet Sam's decidedly annoyed gaze. "I will tell Michelle when I'm good and ready," he added.

"Yeah, when the cows come home," Sam muttered, rose and left the apartment too.

"Cows?" Dean asked the empty room, then sent a look back over one shoulder. "I swear, sometimes I have no frigging clue what he's talking about."


Two days later

"It's something akin to the unbearable lightness of being, isn't it?"

The soft words fell from her lips like dew drops from a leaf in the morning. For all intents and purposes, it sounded good, poetic even, but it was a question he had no answer for because he didn't understand the meaning. Was she talking about the movie? He had never seen that one and had no intention of correcting that – in other people's opinion – mistake. Or was she making a reference to some obscure saying he had no way of knowing? She confused him on so many levels. She was smart like Sam was smart with a mind that worked a mile a minute, something he felt he could never keep up with and it in part humbled him and made him question why she was even with him. Apart from the sex, of course. The sex made up for a lot. But this was their eighth week and it rattled him to the bone how close he had gotten with her without even giving her anything worth while.

Her hair tickled his back when she moved her head a little, her right hand sliding down his side until it came to rest on his right hip, under the covers. Her fingers were slightly chilly, her touch light as the wings of a moth.

"What is?" He muttered the words, attempting to make her believe he was close to sleep when nothing was further from the truth. How could he sleep with her this close? How could he not enjoy every second of being with her? And when the hell had he turned into such a sap?

"We all need somebody to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under. The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public ..." she said quietly and traced a slender finger over his side up to his armpit and up on his shoulder. "The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners ...," she continued, shifted her head and pressed her lips hotly against his right shoulder blade.

He chomped down on his lower lip, the sense of her nearness, of the way she had of touching him without it feeling invasive, rippling through him like so much voltage.

"Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. One day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark ..."

The words hummed against his back, sending vibrations through him that made him close his eyes and hold his breath.

"And finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. They are the dreamers."

In part he understood her words, but they sounded a little silted coming from her, like she was reading a manuscript or reciting a song. "That's deep," he muttered, his face halfway turned into the pillow he was resting on.

It drew a chuckle from her. "Not my words," she whispered and shifted again, her right breast pressing warmly against the small of his back. "I guess you've never read the book?"

"Book?" He turned his head a little and smirked. She knew him too well already. It was dangerous, had turned dangerous before, but he had the insatiable need to open up to her, to tell her the truth. Only that brought to mind the betrayal he had felt when Cassie had turned him down and called him insane after he had opened up to her. "I thought that was a movie," he added, forcing those memories away. Cassie had no place here. Not any more.

Again she chuckled and shifted once more until her lips found the nape of his neck and blew hot breath onto his chilled skin when she exhaled. "It is, but the book is so much better," she whispered against his skin.

"I'll have to read it sometime," he offered, well aware that he never would. He had no patience for books. There was too much going on in his life for him to spend the time it would demand to take in the written word. He rarely read and only when it had something to do with a hunt.

"Sure," she said and he could hear the smile in her words. "I'll rent the movie. We could watch it together."

He shifted, not real happy about losing the feel of her naked body pressed so warmly against him, but he needed to see her eyes right now, needed to connect on more than a physical level. He needed to tell her, before he got any further involved and the inevitable breakup would cut him that much deeper. He was growing softer in his old age, more susceptible to the fear of the future. It was harder to live in the now, harder to imagine that tomorrow might bring a conclusion to the hunt and the end to excuses of why they should linger.

She shifted with him, let him turn over on his back and positioned herself on his chest instead, her hands folded on his sternum, her chin resting on top of them, while she eyed him in the semi-darkness of her bedroom. "Why so glum?" she asked, obviously responding to the seriousness of his expression.

"I gotta tell you something," he said, then drew a grimace. In part he wanted her to know and he desperately wanted her to be okay with it. The world had changed since he had been with Cassie. Maybe Michelle knew more about what was going on out there than Cassie ever had. But at the same time he feared she would respond in the same way as Cassie. In many ways, she was much like Cassie, assertive, tough, hardheaded. That said, they hadn't fought yet. Over anything. She blew everything off with a smile and a joke, much like he himself did. She was good at the serious stuff, too, but mostly she was all smiles and happiness and it was infective. "Remember the other night when you asked me what I do for a living?"

"Yeah, and I also remember that you didn't really reply to that one," she confirmed with a small nod, then shifted her right hand out from under her chin and over his chest, her eyes following her hand rather than facing him.

"Yeah, well ... it's kinda tough, you know. Because ... what I do ... it's ... uhm ... not really that common, you know." He barely prevented a snort from escaping him. How was that for stalling? If they gave out awards for stupid excuses and procrastination, he would win every damned time.

Her movements stilled and she tilted her head a little to the left, her hair cascading down over his chest. He slipped his fingers into the soft curls. "Uncommon, huh?" she asked when he didn't go on.

He shifted his gaze to the ceiling above and watched the shadow play up there for a moment. "I hunt evil." Giving it to her straight seemed like the best strategy right now. "That's what I do for a living."

For a long moment silence lingered between them and he actually feared to look at her, feared the obviously stunned surprise he was bound to see in her eyes. He didn't want this relationship to end, didn't want her out of his life. She was balm on an open wound, solace for all the bad things that had happened in his life, and it was almost a physical ache inside his chest now that the words were out.

"So," she finally said and he noted that she hadn't moved. "You're a hunter?"

He blinked, then turned his attention back to her, to her open expression, the slight crease between her eyebrows that spoke more of concentration than anything else. "You ... know about hunters?" It was a shock to his system. He hadn't expected it, hadn't dared hope for it.

"Yeah, during the ... uhm ... whatever happened all those months ago ... a few came through the hospital. One of them confided in me. He was badly hurt, obviously needed to talk to someone. At first I thought he was nuts, but I've seen things I can't explain and ... well, what he told me made sense after a bit."

Her admission made him feel much like he had felt that one time when the Impala had not been where he had left her. He felt the sudden need to gasp for air. It was an unprecedented situation, one he hadn't even dared imagine. She knew about hunters and so far it didn't seem to repulse her.

She eyed him closely, her grey eyes questioning. "Now would be a good time to take a breath," she suggested, so he did in a ridiculous display of uncertainty. It made her smile, but not in a mocking way. "Is that so surprising? That I know about hunters?"

He took a second to compose himself, to get back in the groove, and then arched an eyebrow at her. "Well, to be honest, I didn't think you knew. I mean ... it's always a sensitive issue. Most people think I'm nuts when I ... when they realize what's really out there."

"Well, it's not something I enjoy knowing about. But after that disaster ... I mean, I know the government is trying to hush it down, blame it on terrorists and toxic spills and whatnots, but tenth of thousands of people have vanished, bodies have been found eviscerated. It's insane to blame that on terrorists. And from the news, it's happened in other countries too. All over the world. Smaller places have been laid waste. Nobody's left. What would be the purpose of that if it was terrorists?" She shifted a little and trailed her hand down his side. She had thing for his hips.

"True," he agreed. "And it wasn't terrorists." He paused, a frown furrowing his brow. "Well ... it depends on how you look at it, really. Demons can be considered terrorists, I guess."

She looked up, surprised. "Demons?" she asked. "You ... fight demons?"

It was surreal, discussing this with her, and he had to fight to maintain a marginal grip on reality right now. "Uh ... we used to. There aren't any of them out there any more. We ... had some help putting them back where they belong."

She smiled lightly. "So, what are you doing here then if you're not hunting demons? Ghosts, maybe?" Her smile as well as her tone was slightly mocking, but he got the distinct feeling that she wasn't making fun of him, she was simply going with the flow.

"Trolls," he said, unsure of how that would go down.

"You're kidding, right?" she asked and eyed him with obvious surprise.

"Up until we actually ran into the first one, I thought it was a joke too. It seems they've been in hiding because of the demons. Now that the demons are gone, they're out in the open, doing whatever trolls do," he explained, then fell silent for a moment while he watched her in the semi-darkness. "You're okay with this? You don't have an issue with me being a hunter?"

She considered it for a moment, then shifted her hand a little, which made him jerk. "Nah," she said with a smile. "So, I take it our first meeting wasn't because you cut your hand on a car jack then?"

He pressed his lips together into a thin line and sucked air in through his nose while her fingers played and her smile teased. "Uh-uh," was all he could manage. He shifted a little. "Aw, for pity's sake, Chell," he groaned.


A few hours later

It was the stillness of the moment as much as it was everything else that made him stop; not in motion, but in mind. For someone whose thoughts usually revolved around the here and now or the next step that would bring him closer to closure or release, it was a curious sensation when the future suddenly became an issue, when the option of not the next minute or the next hour or even the next day, but the next year or even decade shot up to slap him in the face.

Involuntary as it was, he pulled back, away from her hungry kisses answered needily by his own, and he stared down at her, at her beautiful face and peculiar grey eyes, the way her hair spread out over the pillow and her skin seemed almost alabaster in the moonlight, and he stilled, propped on his elbows over her while he stared at her, took her in, and realized that the next hour wasn't enough, the next day wasn't enough. He wanted more from her, wanted her around him and within reach. Not just a casual acquaintance he could look up and hope to find unattached. As mind-boggling as the concept was, he was looking for an attachment in her, a commitment he had never previously been willing to make. Even when it came to Cassie, he'd had doubts that it would last, either on a lie or with the truth between them. Cassie had proven him right, of course. She had dumped him like yesterday's garbage the second he had opened up to her. But Michelle? No, she knew about hunters, she knew about danger and she was okay with it. She accepted him with all his quirks and faults. She laughed at his jokes and put him in his place when he went too far. She got along with Sam and his brother seemed to like her too.

It was perfect. And that scared him. There was no such thing as perfection out there and if something seemed perfect, chances were that it wasn't.

Her gaze became scrutinizing while she watched him. She seemed neither annoyed nor disappointed in this sudden break of physical attention. Instead she seemed more curious when she cupped a hand against his cheek. "What's wrong?" she whispered.

He sighed, tried a smile he was sure faltered somewhere along the way. He wanted to be his usual cocky self, but for some reason he couldn't pull it off with her. She wasn't stingy with the sex now. Not at all. At times he had the feeling she wanted it more than he did, which was ludicrous. She liked to cuddle and she was impossible to deter from showing her affection openly. Not that he really minded, of course. At times cliched terms stumbled through his mind, making him wince inwardly, but they were no less true for being cliche. It was as if she could see into his soul and liked what she saw there, like she knew him on a level that was uncanny. "Nothing," he tried and couldn't stop himself from leaning into her touch.

She returned the smile with one of her own, hers much more secure and steady than his, and she raised her head off the pillow to capture his mouth with hers, sweeping away any doubts and boosting his libido through the damned roof. A simple kiss from her could do that to him, blow his mind clean of all doubts and worries and engulf him in nothing but raw sex.

He kissed her hard and followed her down when she let her head sink back down on the pillow, her hands wrapped possessively around his face, and he shifted a little to distribute his weight onto his left elbow while he traced the length of her torso from ample breast to curvy hip, taking pleasure in the shudder of delight that rippled through her, hardening her nipples and raising gooseflesh on her arms.

His hand crested her hipbone and he brushed his fingers slowly through her pubic hair. On instinct as much as eager with anticipation she spread her legs, giving him easy access and he didn't let her down. She arched her back, pushing up against his hand, eager for the contact. He had spent time thinking about her, about why she seemed so important to him. All things considered, he hadn't known her for very long and she knew next to nothing about him. On the other hand, he didn't know much about her either. So far, all they had been interested in was sex. But he wanted to know more about her. He knew her body by heart now, had explored every damned inch of her and he figured she was as well-versed about his physiology as he was about hers. But that was only skin-deep and he wanted more. He wanted to know her on a deeper level than this.

It was with no small amount of surprise that he realized that Sam had seen this one long before he'd even broached the idea mentally. It was a shocker, that one. It took his breath away, made him pause in life. Was this it? Or was it this destiny crap forcing its way into his life? If it was, he could live with it. If this was what that prophecy had been about, then he was okay with it. The idea of not letting her go, of somehow making a life with her wasn't something that repelled him any more. The idea of staying here, with her, was so damned near bliss, he thought it might even top his craving for sex. That idea made him smirk, but she was too busy climaxing under his hand to notice and he was grateful for small favors.