Chapter 1: 1. Gin Rickey
never see again.
People say it all the time, memories last forever.
Little moments, lost in years, resurface without a warning, they just need something to trigger them. Something stupid, a song, how the light shines in that particularly way, a specific order of words , the smell of that special day, glimpses of past faces , ghosts.
That late winter afternoon, it was the sound of a motorbike, that sped right past me while walking down the street, that took my breath away.
I was going to work and while checking my hair in the shop’s window I heard the rumbling sound of the engine, it was coming closer and closer, feeling that ache in my chest as my heart sped up . That ache that time had transformed into an old friend , that still tried to remind me of an echo of another life. I closed my eyes and gripped the handle of my little purse, knuckles whitening under my gloves as I prepared my soul to be invested by the smell of gasoline .
People use to say that bad memories stay with us forever, lurking in the darkest corners of our heart, but they are wrong. You can always escape bad memories , you don’t want them, your mind protects you from them, but, good memories…..the good memories are the ones that your heart wants to indulge in, a way to hold on to the things you love, the things that made you happy…and the things you never thought you’d lose .
As the motorbike passed by me, I held my breath in vain, just the sound was enough to transport me back in time.
Good memories are the ones that drive you insane.
The air shift makes my skirt flutter.
“Oh darn!! “ I exclaim, as my hands hurry to keep the fabric in place ,avoiding flashing my shift to the whole town. Obviously, all the books I have in my arms fall down in a flutter of pages and hard covers. Annoyed I turn around ready to insult whoever decided it was a great idea to speed so close to the sidewalks.
“Ehy! slow down you-“
My insult dies in my throat, as my mother’s voice echoes in my head ‘ you have to watch your mouth. It’s not proper for a respectable lady such as yourself to talk like a sailor’. I bite my tongue as I crunch down to gather my school’s stuff. Some papers that escape their binders, are picked up by the gush of the spring’s breeze.
“You little-“ again I haste my mouth and silently reach for them, but some other hand beats me to the task.
“Sorry miss “
I look up to see the leather covered back of someone who turns around to grab the other page. Straightening up I wait patiently as the stranger runs after the pages floating around the sidewalk.
Once they are all caught, he turns around and as he is walking toward me, I squint my eyes against the sun so I can get a clearer view of the stranger.
“Here you go ma’am “ he says as he hands the stack of crumpled papers to me. Snatching them with little grace I thank him coldly and turn around ready to go on my way when my eyes look down at them.
“Oh no, these are ruined!”
The pristine white pages are covered in black oily smudges. Rage bubbles up again as my hand crumbles them into a ball and, turning around, I throw it at him.
My parents always said that someday, my temper will get me in trouble, and this was the exact moment when I questioned my better judgment.
The ball of paper lands right in the back of his head , as he is getting on his motorbike. Sucking in my breath I turn around and start walking away quickly, turning the street corner. Seconds later I hear the sound of the engine being started and I sigh, thankful he has let my rudeness go.
Out of the corner of my eyes I see his motorbike approaching me. Tilting my chin high and squeezing my books to my chest I ignore him and keep walking, well….almost run actually. Getting a hood angry isn’t really a great idea .
“That was really rude “
I hear him chuckle.
“Getting oil on my homework is worse “ Dang nabbit! Y/N! this is not how you get a scoundrel to leave you alone.
Not stopping you hear him park his vehicle and he quickly catches up with you.
Not gonna stop, I’m not gonna stop.
“Hey you, miss!”
Hanging my head low I ignore his calls. Oh you are in trouble this time, me and my non existence skill to shut my mouth. I suddenly crash against something, or someone. Strong hands stop me from stumbling back
“Ouch!!” I whine as the smell of leather and gasoline assaults my nose.
“…you alright?” he says, his voice hiding a smirk. I look up defeated, ready to reap what I sawed .
“Yeah, th-“ I stop mid sentence . In front of me is standing mister hunk of heartbreak in the flesh. I must look like a fish out of the water as I stare at him. He’s wearing cuffed up jeans, heavy biker boots, and a big black leather jacket over a motor oil stained white T-shirt. His light brown hair was not that long but long enough to have some volume on top and is messily combed back. His eyes are a gorgeous green and shine with amusement over some light scattered freckles.
His almost too delicate for a man mouth morphes into a cocky grin, revealing a brilliant set of white teeth, his canines slightly pointed.
“ –ank you “ I finally find my voice again, breaking whatever spell he put me under. His grin grew and I realized right there and then that this boy was trouble. “Anyway, good day “ I say hastily as I step to the side to pass by him only to almost slam against him again.
“I think you forgot this “ he says, holding up the ball of homework and smiling.
“It is filthy!! I can’t turn it in like that. I have to throw it away” I say, reaching to snatch it from his hand, but he is quicker and holds it high above me.
“You must have confused my head for a trash can then “
I can feel my cheeks being on fire “…”
He tilts his head, mimicking a confused look
“ sorry…what was that?” he says and his palm cups behind his ear.
“I said I’m sorry , ok?”
He lowers the crumbled papers and I snatch them back, stuffing them between my chest and books.
“Then I’m sorry too for ruining them”
“Yeah well…that’s what happens when you drive around town lifting skirts “ I retort sourly before covering my mouth with my gloved hand.
He looks taken aback and then explodes into one of the most beautiful laughs I have ever heard. I stared at him as he steps back to catch his breath.
“ Doll, you have a mouth” he says, shaking his head.
My eyes widen and my mouth opens offended. He is not wrong, but still “Excuse me sir , I am not your doll! ”
He looks at me funnily and his eyes soften. “I’m terribly sorry ma’am, you are perfectly right”he continues as he grabs my free hand, “Dean…” and brings it to his lips only grazing my knuckles “Dean Winchester “
My whole being itches as I don’t really know if I want to snatch my hand back or push it against his mouth to feel how soft those lips are.
“Y/MN/S “ I say instead, squeezing his hand slightly and doing a little curtsy, like my mother had programmed me to do when making new acquaintances. Not that he was the kind of acquaintances I was used to.
He smiles amused again “Charmed , my lady “
“I’m not a Lady “ I say embarrassed and he takes a step back, letting his eyes rake over me.
“You have the look though, but …” he leans in, his face a bit too close to be appropriate, “you don’t sound like one”
I scoff, pretending to be affronted and snatched my hand back “Well, you surely don’t behave like a gentleman. Now if you’ll be so kind as to let me pass…” I start walking and he starts walking too, only backwards, hands in his pockets.
“You must forgive me, my lady, I just moved here last week. I guess I still have to get used to the life in a big town”
He is looking at me, all cocky , like he is trying really hard to get on my nerves “ Well then, welcome to Y/T/N” I smile tightly. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get home and do my homework….again” I say, quickening my steps. He suddenly whirls around and starts walking beside me.
“I could give you a ride “
“it’s not proper so no thanks “
“I can see already we are going to get along “
“I don’t think so “
“I think we will”
“I think not”
“Do you always have to have the last word?”
“Do you always talk like that to strangers?”
“I saw your petticoat and kissed your hand, I think we are more than strangers now”
I misstep and halt myself, turning to him blushing, “I don’t think I like you Mr. Winchester”
“That’s a shame my lady, because I think I like you “ he says and leaning in he adds in a whisper, “… and that mouth of yours “
The door of the little shop behind us chimes and I turn around to see the barber taking a smoke.
I turned around again to see my older reflection into the window shop, the rumble of the motorbike now weak in the distance, as it turned around the corner, and the noise of the once little town, now city, blaring into my ears as I snap out of my dream state.
With shaky hands I lit the cigarette fished from my purse , and adjusting my hat I grimaced at the pity look my reflection gave me. Deciding to ignore her, I resumed walking , looking at the time.
“Oh shoot, I’m gonna be late”
It was going to be a long cold night and the sky was full of rain’s promises.
Chapter 2: 2. Tom Collins
I was awake even before I opened my eyes. The light of the morning sun managed to, somehow, peak through my curtains and land on my face. I really needed all this light to go away. Draping my arm over my eyes, I croaked : “Chuck!! What’s with all this light?” When there was no answer I opened one heavy eyelid and looked around.
The window of my small room had been left ajar, the soft wind blowing at the curtains. There was something ethereal in the way the light danced against them. The white pieces of cloth adorning my window were gently swaying, alternating between hiding the rays of the sun and letting them seep through them.The fringes that usually licked the wooden floor, flying above it. I could feel the smell of coffee dancing under my nose and filling my lungs. Keeping my eyes closed, I stretched my legs languidly under the covers, reaching the coldest part of the bed and shivering.
“Good morning sweetheart…” I grimaced at the pet name. I really don’t need another walk down memory lane so early in the morning, “ …and I use morning loosely, it’s past noon”.
I peeked from one eye again. Chuck was leaning at the open door, drinking from a mug, mine in his hand ready and steaming, a newspaper under his arm.
“Well, whose fault is that? You made me sing way past the closing hour!” I sat up and puffed up my pillow against the wall, leaning on it. “Gimme that” I said reaching up my wiggling fingers .
He slowly came closer to me putting on a show and and a small dance. He chuckled and sat beside me, his weight making my old, wooden bed creak in protest. As he pushed the hot mug under my nose I inhaled deeply, drinking in the delicious smell. But my stomach, filled with mostly Gin&Sin and some Martini olives, protested.
“Where’s my breakfast?” I pouted after taking a sip of coffee. He leaned into me, settling the mug on the bedside table and opening his paper dramatically. He circled his arm around my shoulders and drew me into his embrace, resting his chin on my head. If only my mother could see me now. In bed, with a man, out of wedlock. She would throw a fit and we would need a million bottles of ether to revive her. Her precious daughter. A walking, talking defier of stereotypes.
“Lunch?… I made you a sandwich, the pantry’s almost empty. Did you forget that yesterday was your turn at groceries?
My mind went back to yesterday, before work.
“Must have forgot”
“Did you buy another dress Y/N?” , he asked, licking his finger and turning the page. I leaned into him more so I could read too, sipping my coffee.
“Hey!! You know I have to look expensive on that stage.No judging!”
“You’ll never find a husband if you look high maintenance” he said joking, looking at me from above his glasses.
“Who needs one? I don’t wanna quit working and stay home baking pies and babies. And I’ll always have you. You’re stuck with me, Chuck!” I said and kissed his cheek.
“Hope in different settings” he laughed and added “ And yes! You know you’ll always have me!”
After finally eating something and a taking a bath, I was getting ready, standing before the vanity mirror, to go buy some food before this evening show. Applying my light day makeup, my mind wandered again to the memories that haunted me the day before, my eyes shifting on the tiny photograph lodged into the mirror frame.
“I shouldn’t. I really shouldn’t. It’s not healthy.” I said to myself as my fingers gently graze the black and white film.
I was doing so well lately and now this relapse again.
Bringing the lived in photo closer, I let my eyes travel along those shoulders, clad stiffly in uniform, up to the chiseled but still young jaw, and delicate features,to settle on those clear,distant eyes. Even if the photo couldn’t replicate it, my mind remembered all too well the gorgeous shade of green that they once possessed.
Skipping down the school stairs I finally pushed the door open, eager to bathe in the sun again. Still some weeks left before classes are over, and I couldn’t wait for it. Just another year and you were done.
My skipping halted .
No matter how happy I was to complete my studies, I also dreaded the fact that after that it would be an ongoing, endless war with my parents. They’d tried to set me up plenty of times and I always managed to convince them to leave me be at least until I finished my studies.
“What do you need that for? You’ll never use it once you are married” , mom’s encouraging words echoed in my mind.
She didn’t mean bad. I know. She’s just old style and blind in front of the change of times. I can just smell it in the air, something big was about change the way people thought.
So the plan was finding another excuse to deflect their effort to marry me off in some old country mansion to bore myself to death,making babies until I’m too old.
As I resumed my happy pace, making my skirt flow around me, my eyes caught sight of a familiar motorcycle parked at the side of the road.
Against it, there he was again.
I froze and searched for an escape route but, passing behind him was the only option I had. I lowered my head and hugged my books closely to my chest as my pace became faster, determined to pass behind him, unnoticed.
Fate had other plans.
The flutter of my bright, colored skirt caught his attention and I could just see his eyes shining when they recognized me. His smile growing when he understood that I was trying to be sneaky.
‘G. Rover Cripes!’ I hissed to myself.
He quickly turned around the motorcycle to come stand on my side of the road, blocking my path.
He raised an eyebrow as I stayed silent.
We stared at each other, me with what probably was not a so pleased face and him with a bright- I want to slap your face- grin. In the end I caved in.
“Good afternoon “ I said faking a sweet tone.
“Good afternoon to you too sweetheart” he said leaning back to his vehicle.
Strange, he didn’t seem to be interested in following me. With a nod of my head I resume my walk, only to stop after some steps. Turning around and blushing when I saw that he was staring a me, smiling, all cocky.
Tightening my lips I walked back to him.
He tilted his head, faking confusion.
“What are you doing here? Are you following me?”
“What ?” he chuckled
“Are you following me to get back at me for the damn piece of paper” I said, teeth clenched.
Right then a bell rang out, the school bell on the other side of the road.
“Actually…” he began to say.
A boy that seemed some years younger than me called from the sidewalk ,and looking both sides he skipped across the street and reached us.
He looked at me head to toe.
“Who is she?”
“Sammy, this is Y/N.” he said looking at him “ Y/N, this is Sammy, my little brother” .
“My name is Sam” the boy replied annoyed as his brother ruffled his hair.
“Yeah… how is it going?…Ouch, what the hell?”
Dean’s hand smacked the back of his head lightly “Don’t be rude! She is a lady”
“Again, I am not” I raised my hand shaking Sam’s
“ Trinity school? , it’s a very good institute.”
“Yeah, Sammy here is pretty smart”
“So you go to St.Paul’s huh? I should’ve known” he said handing his brother a helmet.
“Why? Is something wrong with it?” I asked on the defensive, as he passed a hand through his hair, smoothing it back.
“Nothing at all. You really are a chick from a good family “
“…” I stared at him unimpressed. “ Now look who’s being a snob!”
He just smiled, his eyes crinkled.
“Dean can you stop flirting ? I’m hungry “
I blushed as he looked at his brother annoyed, before his eyes settled on me again, glinting.
“Say what …Y/MN/N , how about this little pest tomorrow walks home…? “ he said getting on the motorbike, and switching on the engine, “ …and you and I go somewhere else? “
“I’m sorry what!?” I said right along Sam.
“Sammy, you can easily walk home , and you…” he said, those green eyes boring into mine “you heard me..” He lifted his hands from the handles and propped his arms on the big headlight in the front of him. “So…what is gonna be?” .
“Oh, my God!! I can’t believe you are picking up girls with your brother right here!!” Sam whined.
“W-why would I accept? “
He shrugged “You are the only person beside Sam that I’ve talked to”
“Don’t you have any friends or something?”
“Hello….new kid in town remember?” He sat back and lifted the kick stand with his foot.
“Perfect, I’ll take that as a yes. See ya tomorrow doll” and with that he just rode away leaving you to have to keep your skirt down.
“I didn’t say yes!” You shouted back and his only answer was his arm waving goodbye.
I stop my hands from smoothing down the non-existing crease on my skirt for the fourth time in the span of ten minutes. Why am I nervous ?
It’s not like I’m staying. No way!!
And yet look at me!! I arrived early and I’m here waiting for him.
But I’m just gonna politely decline and go home.
Yes, that’s the proper thing to do.
I check my watch again at the same time as the school’s bell tolled and I suddenly feel the need to hide behind the corner. I opt for a man reading a newspaper, waiting for the bus.
Spying the crowd of teenagers, I spot Sam going straight down the same road they rode off yesterday, no Dean in sight.
Ok…ok maybe he didn’t mean it and I’m just taking it too seriously?
But even if he didn’t …he’s late for Pete’s sake!
You know what?…I’m going home, I don’t have time to dilly dally like this. I stop my pacing and stiffly turn around to walk back but then I stop again.
Maybe he’s not that late. I mean, our watches are not synchronized and he’s from another town and maybe his watch is not on our town’s time, I think while slowly going back.
“ Would you look at that…she really came” I can’t even believe it. I didn’t have too much hope when I blurted out the date thing yesterday, and frankly I wasn’t even going to show up for real. Just …out of curiosity I wanted to know, and now there she is, her steps little and hesitant as she walks to the same spot where I’ve waited for Sammy.
She’s wearing heels.
I can tell she’s nervous by the way she keeps checking her hair and skirt, but she’s perfe- Woah woah there Winchester!! Slow down!!
As she checked the watch for the third time, the school bell grabs my attention and I scan the crowd searching for my brother.
There he is .
‘No, go home’ , I gesture with my arm as he starts walking toward me. He stops and uses that look on me. I smirk and repeat myself.
He huffs and turns the other way, probably sending crude words at me , but now I have something more interesting to take care of.
I turn my gaze to her only to go almost into full panic mode because I can’t see her anymore. I straighten myself on the seat and scan the crowd on the sidewalk in time to catch her figure turning the corner.
“….was…was she marching?” I was going to follow her when I saw her come back again looking almost guilty. Oh, this is too funny. I check my watch and scramble out of the car.
“Son of a bitch I’m late “ .
“Well now this is just ridiculous, I’m going home!” I looked at the watch one last time and turned around only to bump into someone.
“Going home already, sweetheart?”
Rubbing my nose I look up and lose myself again in those eyes, definitely their fault I’m in this mess now.
“You are late “
“Or you are too early “ he says leaning down to my eye level.
“Not possible “ I retort frowning, grabbing his wrist and looking at both our watches “See?…yours is a bit off” I chirp waving my wrist in his face.
He blocks it with his hand and turns my arm upside down, unfastens it and slips it off, putting it on his .
“Wha-”,before I could protest he unbuckles his watch and
measuring my wrist with it, he picks out a pocket knife from his jeans and carves a hole in the leather strap. Looking me in the eyes he slips the watch on my wrist and it fits perfectly.
“…there…” he says whispering “ now I’m on your time and you are on mine,so next time, if you’re late, I’ll get to wait for you”
Chapter 3: 3. The Jack Rose
Disclaimer: the story takes place in the first year of WWII to the years right after, but I love the style and fashion of the 50s so some of the visuals and lifestyle will be not super accurate, especially during the flashbacks.
I wrapped myself in my black fur shawl, the temperature in the club still low as the doors are open to let the smoke of the previous night out. Well that’s just stupid, I thought to myself annoyed and repressed a shiver sitting on the bar stool.
“I see you are not in a good mood today either, doll” Benny said as he was scrubbing the countertop with a towel and daring a smile to my direction.
“Shut up, Benny!” I scoffed picking at the peanuts on the counter “It’s cold as hell and I don’t understand the need to air the place. This evening will be thick with smoke again”I mumbled, raising a salt coated finger to my mouth and licking it, careful not to smudge the just lipstick coated lips.
“Well, I like to breath actual air sometimes” he said closing the shaker. I watched him, bored, my hand cradling my head.
“ Are we expecting many tonight?” I said raising my voice above the shaking noise.
“Yeah, tonight we’ll be full. You better get ready for some upbeat dance sets” he said pouring the shaker’s contents into your martini glass.
“..Oh …wow, great!” I can taste the sarcasm in my words. I reached behind the counter to grab a handful of olives and Benny’s eyes fell on my wrist.
“If that’s a new watch, you’ve been robbed” he said grabbing my wrist and eyeing the watch, “it’s stopped…and the style is a bit…” he eyed me suspiciously, “…is this a man’s watch?” he asked, squinting his eyes as he was trying to get top secret information out of you.
“…I liked the style, and I know it stopped. I’ll take it to the shop this week” I lied, “…and Benny, I know the craving is strong but try not to steal it!!” I grinned.
Benny brought my hand up to kiss it lightly , giving me his most charming wink. I blew him a kiss as I grabbed my drink, took a sip and walked to the stage, where Chuck was tuning the pianoforte. Leaning on the side of it, I crossed my arms, my glass hovering near my lips.
“So….dancing tunes tonight, huh?” I asked, knowing exactly how much he detested them.
“..Oh joy!!” A simple roll of his eyes wasn’t enough. His whole head followed as he reached for the drink, his ear close to the keyboard trying to pick up even on the tiniest out of tune note. His hand grabbed the air next to my glass so I obliged by handing it to him. Standing up, he took a sip and gave me a stern once-over. “…Darling, did you eat something before this?” he asked, his eyebrows furrowed, ready to scold me like a small child.
“Sure, I did” I opened my hand, revealing 4 martini olives.
When he saw that, he moved the glass completely out of my reach and downed the rest of my drink.
“Hey!” I protested.
“Go and eat something at the diner and I’ll give you another one afterwards ” he said pushing me off the stage.
I saw Benny laughing and shaking his head as I passed by the counter again. Slowing down I reached into his tips jar and grabbed a handful of scrunched bills, winking at him before quickly exiting the place missing the towel he threw at me by mere inches.
The diner across the street was small, cozy and, thank god, warm. The smell of coffee and greasy food assaulted me as I pushed the door open, bell ringing.
“Y/n! , how rare to see you at this hour. Did Chuck send your ass in here?”
“Nice to see you too, Meg” I groaned, sitting heavily in my usual booth. She walked to my table, already filling my mug.
“You know it”, I said scanning the tabletop jukebox titles “Did you add new ones?” .
“Yeah, Chuck kept nagging me about it and I needed him to shut up” she answered from behind the counter, leaning with her head to the kitchen window. “Number 5, 2 as a side”.
“Hiya Y/N !” came a loud, chirpy voice from the kitchen.
“Hey Donna” I greeted back.
“I kept your favorites in that one” she said winking at you.
My eyes shifted to the titles again recognizing most of my old favourites, the songs from another time.
Oh hello there, Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell and their damn song.
“So…” he said sprawling on the seat, back against the window glass, one arm draped over the backrest and his legs, I know for sure because my feet bumped on his boots when I sat composed as usual, were wide open under the table.
“Ain’t you hot with that pretty cardigan on?” he said while scanning the menu he was holding.
I squirmed in my seat, fingers nervously tucking a curl behind my ear “I’m good, thanks”.
I was not.
He threw a glance at me from above the menu, eyes shining amused, probably reading me like a book.
I huffed, eyes rolling as I began to unbutton it. He was staring at me and I stopped , I raised my eyebrow in a silent request.
His eyes widened and he quickly covered his face with the menu.
Being almost summer, I wore a sleeveless camisole under it and I chewed on my lips feeling a bit exposed. So instead of completely removing it I draped the cardigan over my shoulders.
In one of the pockets I found a coin and I stared at the tabletop jukebox, fiddling with it and flipping it between my fingers. I love music but maybe I shouldn’t show it during a date…did I just say date? No, no, no, this is definitely not a-
He slowly took the coin from my hand, his fingers brushing mine feeling rough and lived, but his touch being gentle and warm.
“You ready to order guys?”
The waitress asked, breaking the moment.
Dean looked at me expectantly.
“…” I gaped at him, and leaned closer. “You are supposed to order for me” I whispered, covering the part facing the waitress who was chewing a gum loudly,looking bored and doodling a bit . He blushed slightly and sat up straight picking up the menu again, eyes quickly scanning the dishes.
“You eat burgers and fries?”
“ I do”
“That’s all?” the waitress asked, scribbling down our orders and popping a bubble.
He threw a longing glance at the dessert section and I giggled. He caught me and blushed deeply, plastering a fake, cocky smile .
“That’s all, thanks”
“Sure, hon” she said and walked to the kitchen, swaying her hips.
“You are not used to this” I said smirking, head resting on my hand as I leaned on the table.
“Used to what?”
He mirrored me and whispered “I thought this wasn’t a date” .
Now it was my turn to blush “Never said this -”
“Here’s your drinks” the waitress’s interruption being a welcomed one this time.
He leaned back, smiling pleased with himself, as I grabbed the glass and drank through the straw, looking everywhere but him.
Remembering the coin he took from me before, he inserted it in the tabletop jukebox and motioned at me, with his hand to choose a song.
I scanned the titles, curiously, not knowing what to choose after having mentally narrowed down my selection between two songs, one proper and one that my parents wouldn’t approve of.
I probably took too long because as my finger reached to select one he did the same, pressing the non proper one, my finger hovering on the other choice.
While waiting I started to hum at the song softly playing,watching outside the window, my feet moving in rhythm under the table, bumping into his from time to times without really noticing. He lowered his eyes under the table and looked up again but I didn’t notice that and I started murmuring the lyrics too, missing the way he was looking at me.
“Here you are hon, let me know if you need anything else”
“Thank you, Ruby” I smiled tiredly at the welcome distraction.
“Meg told me you’ll have a heavy night tonight” she said and refilled my cup .
“Yeah, couples dancing night and all that jazz” I answered, my tone bored and already sick of the night that hadn’t even started yet.
“Maybe we’ll swing by later for some fun” she said placing a jar of honey next to the mug, knowing that I’ll need it to prep my throat. Long fast sets like the one I’ll have tonight were a no no smoke situation.
“Please do” .
She nodded and went to serve other customers, while I looked at my food. Jody and Donna’s cooking was delicious but I just wanted a damn drink, for pete’s sake!!
Damn it Chuck!!
I picked up the cutlery….
“ You’re really gonna use fork and knife to eat a burger?”
I straightened my back, my curls lightly bouncing, “What if I do?”
“That just no fun…” he said pointing at me with a fry before eating it and rubbing his hands together to shake off the salt.
He was right but still…
“Well….I …shouldn’t” I thought about my pink lipstick getting smudged, and the terror in my mother’s eyes should she ever find out. He was looking at me confused, burger in his hands mid air and right then I realized that my mother’s gaping image was what I convinced me to actually do it.
I put down the cutlery and picked up a tissue. Dipping a corner in the coke I rubbed it on my lips.
Now free from the lipstick menace I studied how he was holding his food and mirrored him, almost all the contents spilling out as I took a little bite.
He snorted and I glared at him.
We didn’t talk much while eating, but I did see him stealing glances around, taking in the place and how different he looked from the others boys who were actually on a date.
I could see he wasn’t exactly in his element and I wondered if he had chosen this place for me?
We were picking at the last of our fries and he looked bored.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked, taking him by surprise.
The fry fell from his fingers, “What?”
“You are clearly not used to this” I said looking around.
“Isn’t this what are you used to?” he said bringing his glass to his mouth.
“…” you studied him and smirked, leaning in , “ Are you implying that I have lots of dates, Mr. Winchester?”
Coke must have gone down the wrong pipe.
“That…that was” he choked “ that was not what I meant” he pointed at me , patting his chest with his fist.
I laughed, loudly. More loudly than it was appropriate and immediately slapped a hand to my mouth, my eyes widening with surprise at my own lack of good manners. He smiled back, wide, the flush on his face making the green of his eyes shine.
No! Not shine! Sparkle!
“Why …why don’t we do something you actually enjoy?” I asked earnestly.
He gave me a look.
“Oh, don’t be lewd!” I said feeling the heat crawl up my neck.
The waitress came back to clear the table.
“You sure you don’t want anything else? Last chance !”she chirped with fake enthusiasm.
I eyed the dessert section and raised an eyebrow at him. Getting my prompt ,he ordered a slice of cherry pie that we shared, and he enjoyed it way too much judging by how fast he ate.
I eyed him suspiciously as he drove on non-asphalted streets, raising white dust everywhere. I had to tie a scarf around my hair preventing it from getting dustier.I tried to guess where he was taking us, looking around.
As if he could read my mind, he glanced at me and answered my unasked question. “Relax!! I’m just going to my old man’s shop. Lots of witnesses, your virtue is safe,”
I scoffed at him, feeling embarrassed all of a sudden.
Once in front of the shop I snooped around as he disappeared in the back. I looked at the sign at the front, hanging over the dusty windows ‘ Winchester & Singer’s Auto repair and service’
I started humming the song from before, swaying on my feet , reading the other signs placed around.
“I thought that song wasn’t proper” I heard him, from a spot behind my back.
“You are right. It isn’t !!” I turned around and froze. Dean was pushing the motorcycle outside the shop, grinning.
“Is this not proper either?” He stopped beside me, looking down on me as I eyed the vehicle and then my skirt.
“It’s so not proper…”I whispered and then raised my glare to him, chin high, “… but as long as you don’t look and you don’t drive into town flashing my petticoat to everybody, it should be fine”
He smirked pleased and bowed slightly, hand on his heart, “ As you wish”. He straddled it, taking the kick-stand off the ground, and patted the space behind him. “Hell of a show, I’m sure”.
I opened my mouth outraged and I sat behind him, tucking my skirt safely under my thighs. As he started the engine I could feel it vibrating under me. This is absolutely improper and I felt a tinge of pleasure thinking again how my mother would have reacted if she knew. I gripped the sides of his jacket, the smell of leather and motor oil strong in my nose.
My small hands nearly got lost in there, trying to hold on to him. He chuckled and covered them with his leather clad ones, bringing them around his waist, squeezing them together tightly.
Looking at me above his shoulder he winked and we raised more dust as we took to the street again.
Maybe this wasn’t the best idea, I said to myself as I lean my bike to the side lightly, taking the hill’s curve slow and careful. Oh god, she’s squeezing me so much! I’m sure there will be an imprint of her fingernails embed in the leather. The dry hot air is messing up my hair as I close my eyes enjoying it and the speed too, even if I’m going slower than usual. This is what makes me feel alive.
Oh shit! Another tight curve. I better stay focused, at least until I get her to the top. I take the next curve a bit faster than before and I hear her whimper even over the sound of the engine.
I chuckle. Well, at least she didn’t start hitting me to stop. Carefully I bring the speed up a bit more. Maybe I’m lucky and I get to reach the top before sunset.
Finally stopping I wait for her to get off, but she doesn’t budge, her arm still tight around me. Stretching my neck around, I see her face pressed into my back, her eyes squeezed shut.
Oh she’s adorable.
I clear my throat and she let me go immediately.
I already miss it. She gets off, clumsily, stumbling a bit and I grab her elbow to steady her.
She blushes and murmurs a thanks before brushing off dust from her skirt. She turns around, fingers undoing the tight knot of her scarf, slipping it of her hair.
I climb down the bike too, kicking down the stand and watch as she realizes where we are. I chuckle as she skips forward, stopping a few steps away from the edge and I follow her.
The wind is making her skirt flutter and her hair dance, carrying her flowery perfume to my nose. I tell her to be careful as she steps mor forward, one hand keeping the hair away from her face, the other involuntarily reaching back to me. I grab her elbow, as she bends her torso to look down.
I shift my gaze to the horizon already tinged by the sunset colours.All the purples and the oranges dancing together, blending, tinting the running clouds above us with colors that I don’t even king the names of. The serenity and beauty of them in complete contrast to the danger of the cliff that spreads in front of us.
This might be the perfect place to impress a girl, but this is the first time I brought someone here. I look at her again frowning. This is my little hideout, and yet in merely hours of knowing her I already brought her here.
She turns around to say something that I didn’t catch because all I can see is how her hair is hiding part of her face, eyes big and amazed ,smile as bright as the setting sun behind her. I can’t help the smile that grows on my lips and my feet carry me closer.
Hearing my name I blink and focus on her voice “…uuhhh, what?”
She tilts her head “I said, this place is gorgeous, Dean” she smiles softly, cheeks flushed in excitement. I really want to cradle them between my hands and kiss her.
WOAH….ok…ok…calm down, there.
She’s looking at me. No, she’s scrutinizing me. I feel like she can see right through me. She raises an eyebrow, crossing her arms and shifting her weight on one leg.
“So what number am I ?” she asks.
“Number?” I’m confused.
She blushes a bit but her gaze is sharper, “ How many poor girls have you brought up here to charming the skirts out of them?”
“My lady …I’m insulted!” I cross my arms, trying to keep a serious face, “This place is halfway from where I used to live and where your town. I’ve been coming up here my whole life and, on my honor, you are the first I’ve showed it to” I lean closer to her, almost looking at my reflection in her eyes and whisper,
“ I wonder why”.
The blush increases as her eyes widen and look down.
“D-don’t call….” she raises it again, this time pointing her finger against my chest, “…don’t call me t-that”.
I shrug my jacket off while walking to the edge, and lay it on the dusty ground, sitting beside it, feet dangling off the precipice. I stretch my neck behind and pat the seat beside me.
She seems to think better of it but eventually steps closer, stopping right behind me, still away from the edge.
“D-don’t look” she orders. I raise my hands and look ahead until I hear the shuffling of fabrics. In the corner of my eye I see her feet. She has taken off her heels, coming in my range of sight. I peek a bit more and I see her trying to shuffle near the edge from an already sitting position. I bit my cheek trying not to laugh and look the other way.
“I told you not to look!” she whines embarrassed.
“Liar “ she huffs and her feet hang down near mine. I turn my head to say something snarky and I choke on my own words. Her skirt has ridden up on her right side and my eyes follow the curve of her leg up to where the stocking ends, the suspender of the garter belt showing, digging into her naked skin. My eyes linger there a bit before I cough and shift uncomfortably, looking up.
“Your, ehm…” I clear my voice “…your skirt rode up a bit ….”
I sense her fumbling in panic, and I choose for her sake, and honestly mine too, to forget it ever happened.
We stay silent for a bit , enjoying the wind that morphed into a light warm breeze as the sun lit the sky on fire.
She’s the first to break the silence.
“Why did you move here?”
I glance at her but she’s looking ahead , her feet rubbing together nervously.
“Needed a change of scenery…after my mother passed away” I blurted out, and I’m again surprised how easily I said that to someone I barely know.
“I’m so sorry, that must have been difficult”
“Meh, not really, we didn’t have that much to leave behind”
“…I meant your mother”
“Oh…yeah …that” I know she’s looking at me now so I meet her eyes, “ Well, it happened years ago, but my old man needed money and time to open a shop with my uncle. Once that was settled we left those few things we had and came here some months ago”
“I work there too and they need all the help they can get. I didn’t want Sammy to help, and I left school so he could continue”
She stayed silent, and raised her legs hugging them,laying her head on her knees, those big eyes staring.
“You must think I’m just a hood with a motorcycle who dirtied your homework with my oil covered hands” I chuckle nervously, scratching the back of my head.
“It must be nice to earn your own money”, she sounded sad as her gaze fell on the now dying sun. “ …you must feel free”
“ After finishing school my liberty is my father’s to do as he pleases”
“What do you mean?”
She snorted and looked at me, “You are a man, you can do whatever you want. Me?…yeah I may be rich, but all that money is not mine. Think of it like a price on my head, to be sold to the best candidate. It’s a miracle they let me finish school before marrying me off to some greedy bastard” She bites her lips almost ashamed. “Sorry for the language”.
“… I like it , it’s a great contrast”
I manage to make her laugh, but it’s a bitter one.
“Here’s what you should do “ I said jumping to my feet, dusting off my jeans from the dirt and offering her my hand. She took it , standing up beside me.
“ No one here can tell you what’s proper and what’s not and I sure as hell won’t do it either”
I take a step back, giving her a little push “Come on, vent to the world, it doesn’t care anyway”.
I see the indecision passing over her face, before turning around, fists clenched by her sides.
“ I DON’T WANNA MARRY AN OLD RICH DROOLING GEEZER!!!”
She takes another breath
“ I WANNA EARN MY MONEY, AND …” she pauses and straightens her shoulders “I WANNA MARRY FOR LOVE” .
I see her stumbling as she took a step back , turning around and I grin at her . She raises a finger and turns toward the horizon again .
“ FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK “
The echo goes on quite a bit before I double over and laugh until my stomach hurts and I have literal tears in my eyes.
I see her approaching me grinning, her steps lighter.
“That..” I tried to say, wheezing “…that was awesome!! I think I will not be able to eat dinner. My stomach hurts too much” I’m able to say before another fit of laughter shakes my body.
She looks at my watch and her eyes grow wide and panicked, “ …Dang I’m almost past my curfew !” .
I watch as she slips into her shoes, tying her scarf around her head again and I already hate it. She looks good with her hair messed up.
Ok Winchester! Enough of that!!
She grabs my arm and drags me to the bike “Get me home as fast as you can” she orders, her fingers digging into my flesh, her face panicked.
“Better risk an accident than my parents’ rage”
I look at her horrified and she huffs rolling her eyes “ I’ll grant you another date if you bring me home in time”
“…oooh…so this was a date after all”
“Aye aye, ma’am” I said smirking, eyes focusing on the road ahead.
I drive fast, wind in my hair, and push it to the limit, just because she asked.
She’s gripping me tighter again, her face hidden in my back, her body pressed against mine and, lord forgive me, but she feels so good. I think she’s even forgotten about the skirt and my mind is trying to imagine the way it flutters around her thighs. And now that I know what’s under it, it makes my blood boil. I grip the handle tighter and shake my head. Focus, Winchester!.
I’m glad it’s dark once we arrived on the long, straight, lonely road that leads to my family’s shop. I slow down, check her watch and a low, relieved sigh escapes my lips. We are perfectly on time, and turn around to check on her .
I’m sure I freaked her out because I see that she’s trembling.
“You okay?” I shout over the rumbling of the engine. She raises her shaky head and I realize that she’s laughing.
She’s genuinely laughing. A big, fat, loud laugh that’s brought tears in her eyes. That’s why they are shining. Those look at me and I’m sucked in, but it’s what she does next that makes me really understand and accept that I’m done for.
This is too fun.
The speed, the wind that blinds me and cuts my breath, the smell of leather and motor oil, the rumbling of the bike that fills my ears. I can feel its vibration between my legs and it’s kinda hot and dangerous and is making me feel all the things I shouldn’t feel.
I press my palms against him, and I can feel him like he’s naked , his abs are taunt and I feel them clench as he moves with the bike, following its movements. I should feel embarrassed of pressing myself to him so shamelessly. But, when we slow down on the deserted country road leading to the shop, and he turns around asking me if I’m okay I can’t help but laugh.
Because I don’t care.
Because I feel alive.
Because ….. I tug the knot of my foulard and, raising both my hands in the air, I let out a delighted scream as the wind slips it off my head.
Because I feel free.
“There, you can leave me here” I pat his shoulder and I stretch over the seat of his car retrieving my purse and books, “I’m just around the corner, across the garden”
“I should walk you to the door” he tries to protest.
“You want to be shot with salt rounds?”
“Then here is good”
He quickly got out the car, making room for me to slide on the seat to exit the car.
“What are you gonna do about the scarf?”
“Foulard” I grin and produce a different one from my purse “ A ‘lady’ should always have a spare one” I mimic my mother’s tone. Before I could do it, Dean slipped it from my hands and gently wrapped it around my head. His eyes follows his fingers as they graze my face, pausing at my parted lips, before securing the knot tugging me to him, our face closing in.
He whispers : “Same time and place? This Saturday?”
I just nod , transfixed .
He let me go and I walk in a daze through my big house garden, the song from the diner still in my head. I’m in no rush now.
I start to sing softly.
Those cool and limpid Green Eyes
A pool wherein my love lies
So deep that in my searching for happiness
I fear that they will ever haunt me
All through my life they’ll taunt me
But will they ever want me
I know my night will be spent dreaming of green eyes.
The night was coming to an end. There was that special atmosphere in the air, the one that settles right after a big upbeat party. Lights are still dimmed; tables are messy with half-empty glasses. There are full ashtrays, empty bottles and delicate women’s handkerchiefs stained with red lipstick. The dance floor was a mess after the wild swing couples night we’d just had, confetti and bottle corks were everywhere. I don’t envy whoever will have to clean it up.
I said the night was coming to an end, the official end anyway. We know we have to work a couple of hours more for the late arrivals and the ones who just won’t leave.
There were still people, well…couples, scattered around, some hidden comfortably in the shadows, some still at the tables. The ice in their drinks has melted, as they hadn’t stopped looking at each other all night.
And then, there was my favourite kind.
The couples that forgot to stop dancing and haven’t noticed that the music has stopped for a break. I look at them, sitting on the stool, Benny fixing the second drink for my break. I barely had time to drink anything that wasn’t water, the previous glass still waiting behind the piano. I’m looking at those 3 pairs, still slow dancing at their own music, my head resting on my hand while I swirl around the olive in my martini.
“How long do you think they’ll go on before realizing no one is playing?”Benny, the ever-living realist commenting as he points at the dancing couple with his head.
“Shush, you bitter old man!!! Let them enjoy these moments.” I chastise him and I slap his arm and look at him sternly.
“I’m just saying…,” he said switching my mostly empty glass with a full, fresh one “…kids these days. I bet they are all somewhere else, as far as their parents are concerned.”
“Hmm …probably” I hummed smirking “… didn’t paint you for the bon-ton police, though!”
“Do you see any chaperones? “He said smacking the rack that he was using to dry some glasses over his shoulder, perching on the counter. He waved a hand towards the dance floor and went on, “…I don’t, and I don’t want people coming here accusing me and the boss of harbouring a den of iniquity”.
I almost splutter all the content of the cocktail glass over the newly cleaned countertop. “Oh geez, Benny!! They are just kids. Kids who come in a public space to dance. I think it’s better than going secretly around town in the middle of the night.” Gulping down the rest of my cocktail I retouch my lipstick using the little pochette mirror. “Besides I doubt anyone would want to say that in Mr.Crowley face.” I snap it closed right in front of his face, grinning.
“I don’t understand how can they not snap out of it, it’s like-”
“…like they are in their own world? In their own bubble of pure bliss?” I smile tenderly looking at the couple who had stayed all night in the corner, talking. “They are…they are dancing to their own private music. We don’t even exist. Heck, I’m prepared to bet that they didn’t even listen to my songs”. I jumped off the stool and readjust the slit in my dress, not that they were any creeps around but who knows. On the stage Chuck was finishing drinking his water and waiting for me by the piano. I roll my eyes as I move closer to him. It’s slow dance time.
After the first songs I saw how the few couples that were on the dance floor quietly and slowly left. The last one remaining also drifting towards the tables just as I was in the middle on the next song. I looked at Chuck, meeting his gaze and we both knew we were almost done for the night when in the corner of my eye, I saw a movement.
It was the chatty couple. They were approaching the dance floor and the lights. The boy leading the girl by the hand and my heart starts racing. They look like…I resume singing, my tempo slowed down by the little shock as I squint my eyes.
Yes, they look like….us.
During the last piano section, I approach Chuck and whisper the next song in his ear. He looks at me disapprovingly but with a little shake and a soft smile, I know he’ll indulge me.
Swaying at the music, I get to study them.
He’s all big eyes, carefully combed light brown hair and red cheeks raging over his light complexion as he’s looking down at his feet. She’s smiling shyly and contently taking the leading role, guiding him in the first, simple dancing steps. When she grabs his hand and puts it on her side, I almost thought the boy would faint right there. I conceal a chuckle as the song ends.
Almost immediately, my request starts playing. It’s an old song, fairly known, but I got him to play the slow, piano version and I already see some of the couples scramble to reach the floor. I look at Chuck with my best ‘told ya’ look and start to sing.
start Flash back:
“Where do you think you are going?”
My happy skipping stops abruptly, and I slowly turn around to find my father, with his newspaper under his arm and his pipe in hand.
“I’m going out, Papa”
“Is she going out?” mother’s voice calls from the parlour.
“Yes darling, she is” father tells her, winking at me.
“On a school night? Absolutely not!”
“But Mama today was the last day of school!”
I heard her steps coming closer and she appears behind father, hands on hips, looking at my outfit critically.
I tense under her squinting eyes. She has the ability to stress me out just by looking at me, even about the simplest of things. Like, if my gloves match my shoes, or if my shade of lipstick is acceptable for my age and our social status.
“Where are you going?”
“Oh, just me …and the girls… we are going to the movies and then for some sodas at Mel’s. Is that alright?”
She nods approvingly, straightening the lapels of my cardigan and tugging a rebel lock of hair that escaped my ponytail, behind my ear.
“Yes it’s fine. Just remember your father and I are going to the Johnson’s tonight and will be home very late” I mentally cheer and throw my fist in the air, saying “yes” to myself and for a minute there I’m scared that my joy will start displaying on my face.
“So remember to tell Fred what time you’ll be home so he’ll wait for you,” she continues as her eyes are still looking at me, from top to bottom.
“Sure, I’ll go tell him right now” I kissed both their cheeks and made my way to the kitchen, finding Fred at his usual place, having a glass of whiskey before the night shift. Hearing me, he lifts his head smiling. I opened my mouth but before I got the first word out, he said: “I’ll tell them you came home before your curfew, nice and proper. Now get out of here while you still can,” he said before I could even think about what excuse to invent.
“You are an angel “I bend down to kiss his cheek, adding “thank you” over my shoulder.
Skipping down the road, I can’t help but swing my little purse. I can’t believe I’m actually looking forward to this and the fact that I’m still nervous is ridiculous, I scold myself coming to an halt.
It has been weeks Y/N. Have some self-control. This is just the 4th time you are going on a…date, yeah okay, it’s a date, and at least you should be honest to yourself about it.
A.DATE. I repeat to myself, clearly, now fully acknowledging it as such.
I am blinded by headlights, two rounds of clacson and I know it’s him. I start skipping again unable to control the smile and the little flip my heart does.
“Where to this evening, my Lady?” I hear him ask as soon as we are far away from my house.
“My parents won’t be home until really late so, you choose” I say without thinking as I get rid of the blasted cardigan, throwing it on the seats behind me.
This is followed by a long silence. Since I haven’t really understood what caused it, I frown and turn towards him. He sees me looking at him, probably a huge puzzled look plastered on my face, “…is ever- what is it?”
He opens his mouth and then cover it with his hand, while the other is squeezing the steering wheel tight.
“What? “ I insist as his eyes briefly look at me again.
“You really don’t think before opening your mouth, do you?”
I turn to look at the road still confused.
“Never mind, there is a fair a couple of towns from here. You up for that?”
I jump on the seat, bouncing like a little kid and grabbing his arm with both hands, startling him. “I’ve never been to one!” I squeal excitedly. He re-composes himself, a lopsided grin appearing, “Well, doll…you’re in for a treat”, he says before slamming on the gas.
Opening the door for me, as always, he takes my arm in his and guides me to the entrance. The air is heavy with humidity, carrying the sweet smells of popcorn and fried sweet stuff. I eye a group of little kids coming out the gates with gigantic cotton candies and toffee apples.
“Want one?” he asks bending down closer to my ear against the loud music of a carousel.
I shake my head, “I want to go on the roller coaster first,” I say, raising on my tiptoes to reach his ear.
We navigate through the crowd struggling until I am fed up with being shoved around. Dean notices it, stops and grabs my hand tight. He starts pulling me while he’s parting the crowd of people, so that no one is touching me. Although I can’t see it, I’m sure his face is as red as those apples on the stands we pass.
Following the sound of screams, we finally stand in the waiting line. I can’t stop looking at those little carts speeding up the wooden rails.
“That doesn’t seem very safe,” I say, leaning on the line barrier with my chest.
“Still time to chicken out” came his voice from behind a challenging and playful tone in it. I can feel his breath against my ear and neck, his chest is barely touching my back and he’s leaning on either sides of me with his arms. He’s practically almost embracing me from behind.
I feel my ears be on fire and he probably notices it too because, before straightening up, he makes sure to graze his lips against my right one. Nevertheless, I turn around pouting.
“I. AM.NOT.CHICKENING. OUT”
I’m glad I didn’t because that has been the best thing I have ever done–
“–still doesn’t beat your motorbike” I say smacking my lips as I prepare to bite into that juicy toffee apple. I stop myself, debating if I should have paid for this. I mean, my family has definitely more money and he has just finished moving and still paying for the shop.
I raise my eyes to him and he’s still watching me, always with that smirk on his face, like he’s reading my mind. He’ll probably feel offended if I bring up the issues so I just bite into the candy apple. Right then, his eyes light up and his smile grows. I knew it!
While we are sitting in comfortable silence, me with my apple and him with his nougat, I let my eyes feast on him. The past dates have been difficult, me being still a bit wary and him being way too polite. I could tell he had been trying to indulge my social class ‘standards’. Tonight was the first time he had grabbed my hand and he hadn’t even noticed. He looks relaxed, at ease and those damn green eyes have really been haunting my dreams ever since the first time I’d met him. Studying his profile, I have to admit that he really does have delicate features. Eyelashes longer than mine, and those lips, when they are not in his never-ending smirk, they are plump, look so soft, and wow! Look how they are wrapped around his snack….
What…are…you ….thinking Y/N!
“You keep staring at me,” he says and raises his sweet to me. “Want a taste?” he asks and every cell of his body is daring me to say yes.
But, partially still in my daydreaming, I raise a hand to his lips, smudging away the speck of chocolate from his upper lip.
We both froze and I’m trying to desperately find a way to do something. Ok!! Look anywhere but his lips, I say to myself. His hair, now that I notice, is all messed up, some locks hanging in front of his eyes. Shifting my hand from his lips I let my finger comb through his hair, smoothing it back into place. Damn, not better.
He is watching me like I’m some kind of wild animal that, if he so much as move a muscle, I will run away.
But I won’t.
I force what probably is the most nervous smile, and I see him relax into my touch, bending his head forward, closing his eyes, as I finish combing his hair.
“Y/N! Y/N!” I freeze, hearing someone call my name and slowly turn, the voice is too close to avoid.
“Hi, Betsy”. She’s my classmate.
“Who’s the fella?” She asks, raking Dean over, top to bottom.
“What are you doing here? I thought you already left for the lake house,” I ask, at the same time, cleverly dodging her question, as I know how much she loves talking about herself.
“Oh- yeah we’ll leave tomorrow because my parents forgot to get the cottage cleaned in time and also bla bla bla”
She goes on for quite a bit, her question forgotten.
“Well anyway , I should get going I was on my way to the talent show.”
Oh no!! “You know, you should participate! With a singing voice like yours you’d win for sure!”
I fake a laugh and say goodbye before dragging Dean out of there.
Navigating through the sea of people I’m muttering swears. Just my luck, of course she’d be the one we would have come across, of course!
Dang it Y/N, you’ve been too careless!
“Hey, hey, hey!” I feel a sharp tug and after a twirl, my thoughts slams against his chest, both his hands are sprawled on my back, keeping me close and secure. I fist my hands in his jacket. God, I’m starting to love the feel of it, smooth and soft leather. It’s comforting.
“What’s the matter?” he asks softly and I raise my eyes to his. His face is worried and close to mine. I can’t help myself glancing at his mouth before blushing.
“That was my classmate and neighbor,” I say in a tiny voice.
“Ok?” he frowns, “…and?” he looks confused.
“And…she saw us!” a tiny panicked voice.
He blinks before taking a step back, keeping me at arm’s length; his hands letting me go, falling to his sides. “Oh….I see …” he looks down, hands on hips. I tilt my head.
With his head still bent down he raises, his eyes and I flinch. Gone is that sparkling green and casual gaze. In its place, I see a hard, sharp disappointed look.
I look at him dumbfounded as he bites his lips and walks past me, a nod of his head telling me to follow him. I try to keep at his pace but I find myself falling into a skip so as not to lose him in the crowd until we are past the gates. He opens the car door for me without looking and closes it before I could thank him.
During the drive, I recognize the road home and I frown looking out the window. “Are you taking me home?!”
“I am” comes his clipped answer. I look at his watch, still on my wrist. I never took it off honestly, “…but it’s barely past my curfew”.
He sighs, smoothing back his hair, “you are …” he breathes out a bitter chuckle. “You are embarrassed to be seen with me”.
I gasp offended. What is he talking about? “I am not!” I protest.
“Oh sure. That’s why you were so eager to introduce us,” he said sarcastically, hands squeezing the steering wheel, knuckles almost turning white.
He’s offended. No …he’s angry. Gosh!! I don’t blame him, that’s what it looked like.
“I’m not embarrassed to be seen with you or I would not have ever accepted to go on dates” I blush as I look out the window, avoiding his gaze that I can feel burning me. “She’s a blabber mouth and would probably add her takes on the gossip. I can’t stand inaccurate or made up tales. Either tell exactly what you saw or shut up. You are a man, so you wouldn’t really be harmed by it, but a girl …” I let the phrase linger and turn around to see him, “… a girl can be ruined by the wrong gossip, even if it’s made up”.
I see how my allusion is weighing on his conscience. “Well… I guess I should introduce myself to your old man, then”.
“No you shouldn’t!” I say too quickly and cringe. “My parents would never approve of you”. Sneaking a glance I see his jaw clenching, his hand on the gear shift.
“But….” I gently cover his hand with mine, sensing him freeze under my touch. “I do”. I know he’s looking at me again but I keep my blushing face turned to the outside scenery, hiding how I badly cover my smile by biting my lips as he turns his hand and squeezes mine.
“Why did you bring me here, now?” I ask grinning, feign suspicion.
“Because this place is isolated and dark,” He grins back taking my hand again and helping me out the car closer and to the edge. “Also, the view is to die for”.
We are at the same place as the first date, and I have to admit, this place is amazing. The moon is shining, casting a silver light on everything it touches. Without electricity from the city lights, the sky is packed with stars and the wind is singing through the trees.
“Can I ask you something?” he whispers into my ear bending down over my shoulder. I jump a little turning around.
“S-sure, but you need to stop doing that” I babble, stroking my neck, calming my buzzing skin.
“Your friend mentioned a ….singing voice?” Dean raises an eyebrow and I wave a hand dismissively.
“I sing at my parents’ club on weekends. Nothing exciting”
“Let me hear you”
I let out a laugh. “Absolutely not” I say and try to move a little further away. Before I could turn around, he grabs my hand.
“Oh …are we pouting now? Really Dean?”
He smirks as he brings my hand to his lips. “ Please …” he whispers again and I shiver as his breath caresses my skin before grazing my knuckles with his lips and looking up at me through his long lashes.
I’m probably blushing again but he can’t see that. Hopefully. Clearing my voice, I whisper the first notes of one of my favourite songs.
We’re all alone
No frigging chance I’m gonna sing those cheesy Doo-Wop things they usually make me sing. I can’t see him because I’m keeping my head low but I sense his hand freeze around mine.
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber
He slowly lowers our joined hands and takes my other one too, bringing me closer. My heart skips a beat and I feel his breath on my head.
I feel like I’m out of breath as he starts swaying us in a slow dance without music, his head bent down near my ear.
There’s something wild
About you, child
That’s so contagious
Let’s be outrageous–
I look up startled as he joined in too, murmuring low. Dean’s looking down at me and I just know I can’t look anywhere else. I pause while he’s humming the music, surprisingly not completely out of tempo. I choose the next verse carefully.
I…It’s getting late and while I wait
My poor heart aches on
Why keep the breaks on?
His hands slid on my back as mine slid up his chest. I see his eyes searching mine for any kind of sign that I may want out of this and the only thing I do is let my gaze fall on his lips before losing myself into the green again.
You know my heart is true
And you say you for me care…
Somebody’s sure to tell,
Under my hands I think I can feel his heart beating at a crazy pace, or is it mine? I see his face closing in, his lips ghosting over mine, giving me all the time I need to decide.
But what the heck do we care?
We both whisper as our lips touch.
Since the first words reach my ears, I know I’m in trouble. Son of a bitch, that song? Really? Among all the modern ones and the ones by female singers out there, she chooses this one?
I know this song because I used to listen to it while my parents danced to it when they thought me and Sam were sleeping. But she’s singing it in a completely different tone and I, for the love of god, will never be able to listen to the original the same way.
Her breathy singing voice is making me dizzy, and as I take both her hands in mine, I breathe in her perfume, pulling her closer to me.
Oh trust me; you really don’t want me to. I gently wrap my arm around her and begin to sway to her singing tempo.
There’s something wild
About you, child
I murmur too, not really singing because I don’t want to ruin her pitch, but enough for her to hear me. I can say she’s surprised and I keep humming, twirling her around slowly. Her next choice of verse is bold and I appreciate that more than I think she does. She slides her hands upwards and lets them rest over my chest. I think she can feel my heart beating and I squeeze her to me a bit more. She’s looking at me now, with big shining eyes that are just a little hooded. I….really want to kiss her .
It’s like she reads my mind as her eyes fly to my lips before burning into mine again. Before I could think, better of it I lower my head a little, just enough to feel the ghost of her breath, lingering over them and giving her all the space to refuse me, all the while wishing and hoping she will not. Because it’s about time I admit it to myself, I don’t think I’ll ever feel his way again.
And she doesn’t pull away. Instead, her eyes slowly close .
But what the heck do we care?
We whisper together before her lips touch mine, and I’m being wrapped in flames. She’s the source of this sweet torture and at the same time, the only remedy.
Her lips are soft, warm and taste like sugar, and I’m not sure if it’s hers that are trembling or mine. Either way, I’m struggling to keep this proper. But every time I try to gently pull back, to switch to little pecks, her lips grow more demanding. I haven’t even noticed we moved until I my back hits against the car door.
She presses herself into me, tugging at my jacket and …oh lord, I can feel her whole body molding into mine and I almost let out a moan when she gently sucks my bottom lip between hers . I grab her shoulders and gently try to push her back before I lose my mind .
Big mistake… opening my mouth. She inhales deeply, tilting her head to the side, before opening her lips too. As the tip of her tongue touches mine, I throw all my restrain to the wind and, wrapping my arm around her waist and head, I twirl her around, pushing her against the car. I hear the little surprised sound she makes before it transforms into a moan as I push against her tongue, exploring her mouth as her hands travel from my jacket to the back of my head, tangling in my hair. I slid my hand up to the elastic band that keeps her hair tied, hooking my finger in it and slowly pulling it off, letting her hair fall around her shoulders. Her perfume wraps around my senses like a silk scarf and I want to hear her noises again, so I slide my hand up to the nape of her neck, tilting her head up and deepening the kiss. My reward is the shudder that makes her tremble in my arms and the way she moans my name. I really don’t want to take her to her home, but I know it’s getting late.
My thumb grazes her cheek and with a wet, sinful sound, our lips part.
Her eyes are hooded and hazy, her lips are slightly parted and swollen, her cheeks and even her nose, are red.
I sigh and rest my forehead on hers as we get our hot, laboured breathing back to normal, but she slides her hand under my open jacket, bringing me forward again and I barely have time to breath before her mouth claims mine again.
I can’t get enough. It’s like my whole body is kissing him, all of what my senses are perceiving is Dean. His lips warm and pliable, his nose is bumping into mine, his early stubble soft against my smooth skin and his fingertips… How his hands are tangled in my loose hair, our lips dancing and his pleased sounds that vibrate into my mouth and against my chest.
I can feel his warm body under my hands as I explore it under his jacket , his muscles clenching and shuddering under my touch.
I think I’m drunk, I’m behaving completely out of my mind.
“Galeotto fu ‘l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante”
I whisper on his lips and lean back to look at his state ,
“W-what ..?”glazed eyes blinking in confusion and parted wet pink lips stare back at me.
“The book and writer both were love’s purveyors. In its leaves that day…” I leaned forward again, hooking my fingers in the hoops of his jeans, pulling him forward.
“We…..” I whisper again in his ear, “read no more.”
Did I really quote Dante’s inferno that time?
I smiled bitterly at the memory, looking at the dark ceiling of Chuck and mine’s apartment. Outside it was almost dawn. I could hear the chirping of the birds.
I groan, rubbing my eyes, turning myself to the side, facing the wall, shielding them from the incoming morning rays, feeling the salty wet patches on the pillow . I have the day off today thank God, but I know I can’t stay in bed all day even if it’s tempting.
It’s been a while since I visited my parents. They are not going anywhere it’s true, but they are still my parents.
As I close my eyes, eyelashes still wet against my cheek, another verse comes to my mind:
“Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende prese costui de la bella persona che mi fu tolta; e 'l modo ancor m'offende. Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona, mi prese del costui piacer sì forte, che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona.
Dante'inferno, Canto V .
Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt,
Entangled him by that fair form, from me
Ta’en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still
Love, that denial takes from none beloved
Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,
That, as thou seest, he yet deserts me not.
Chapter 5: 5. Bitter Crush
Disclaimer: the story takes place in the first year of WWII to the years right after, but I love the style and fashion of the 50s so some of the visuals and lifestyle will be not super accurate, especially during the flashbacks.
Summary:People use to say that bad memories stay with us forever, lurking in the darkest corners of our heart, but they are wrong. You can always escape bad memories , you don’t want them, your mind protects you from them, but, good memories…..the good memories are the ones that your heart wants to indulge in, a way to hold on to the things you love, the things that made you happy…and the things you never thought you’d lose .Good memories are the ones that drive you insane.
flashbacks are in italics
It’s summer but the air smells like thunder. It will probably rain a bit, one of those summer’s pleasant storms, warm and refreshing at the same time. I skip down the back door stairs, winking at Mr.Gordon, our gardener, as I run by him on the cobble path that, for once ,doesn’t destroy my ankles having on black and white saddle shoes. I peak around the corner and I see him waiting for me, sitting in the car, fingers tapping on the sleek black door , head bobbing in time with the music. My gosh, he is a sight !
I better come out soon before making a fool out of myself.
I make sure to drag my soles on the street so he could hear me. It works and he turns his face in my direction, with that goddamn cocky smirk disappearing as his lips part in a silent ‘o’ .
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Dean’s eyes were going to fall off. I feign innocence, looking down at myself.
“What is it?” I deliberately twirl around, smoothing down the fabric that hugs my hips tightly.
I bite my lips. He can’t see it, luckily, because if he saw the pleased grin I am trying to hide I won’t hear the end of it, like...ever.
Instead I turn around pouting, “Do they look bad?” I say with fake disappointment, “I know it’s different b-”
“NO…!” jumping out the car, he clears his throat, before stopping few inches from me, “I mean...you look…” he grabs my hand and makes me twirl around again. This time I giggle while he makes me spin fast,
I lose balance and land in his wide, open arms. His hands on my hips, I gasp lightly as his fingers squeeze.
“I looook...?” I ask expectantly.
He looks me over one more time, his eyes wandering from my foulard tied like a bandana, its end tucked in the front knot, curls pinned up securely in a low ponytail, plaid short sleeved shirt , down to the high waisted jeans and their cuffed up hems.
He smirks pleased, head still low but eyes locking on mine, and suddenly I feel self conscious. Did I dare too much?
“You look dangerous!” his smile growing from the amused one to the one he knows makes my knees wobble.
“I’m sorry miss, I think you’ve got the wrong person. I was waiting for my girlfriend” he whispers in my ear, bending his head low. “I’m…” he chuckles as I hit his chest “...spoken for” I hit his arm weakly , “... you can’t seduce me!” .
He grabs my wrist, blocking my weak swings at him, and we are both giggling, both out of breath as the reality of what he said hits us.
“....G-girlfriend…?” I choke on my own words as he takes a step back.
I can see the blush creeping up on his neck, reaching the ears before making his freckles disappear.
“...Well...I-” he scratches his eyebrow looking down, while the other hand is resting on his hip,
“...after the kiss...I mean…” he looks up, those damn mischievous eyes again, “... you know, I have to protect my virtue, can’t let you ruin me”.
“... you little-”
He grabs my elbow ,pulling me to him, shutting my mouth with his.
I sigh and melt in his arms as his hands land on the small of my back, keeping me up, keeping me close, keeping me his.
But before the kiss degenerates into something more, he steps back smiling, breathless at my still closed eyes and ruined lipstick.
I look at him dreamily and disappointed and he snorts, “You have no idea, do you?” he chuckles, kissing the tip of my nose, before jumping in the driver seat, sliding his sunglasses on and slapping the shiny side of the car door. “Come on doll, the drive is long and the road awaits! ”.
“You have lipstick smudged on your mouth” I giggle as I take my place beside him. Putting the car in reverse he turns around to see, his neck stretching and I follow its curve disappearing under his shirt. Turning the steering wheel he smiles at me, his pointed canine peaking out, “...and I look awesome! Thank you very much, but…” he guides my palm against his lips watching me, kissing it softly and my heart can barely take it already. “The color suits you better” he whispers before rubbing the lipstick from his face with my hand.
The sky is blue and white, the sun is pleasant and the air is humid, as I anticipated. Some droplets starts to fall on my skin. Dean makes a move to pull over, probably to roll the folding rooftop over us and I stop him shaking my head. I entwine my hand in his and rest my head on his shoulder. The road in front of us seems to go on forever and right now there is no other place I’d rather be, I tell myself, as more drops fall on us.
My high heels half bury into the soft earth as I try to make my way towards their graves. The drizzle that has been accompanying me since I left my apartment today, a perfect match to my mood. I keep my big, black umbrella low, trying to hide my face from the rest of the people who are mourning their loved ones. Visiting my mother and father had been on my mind for a long time now. But why did I have to get up today, early, after having all those memories coming back last night? Why did I have to make myself hurt even more??
I clutch the small bouquet of white lilies tight in my hand. Lilies were her favorite flowers. Not my father’s. Hers. He preferred simpler flowers, like roses or carnations. But he had never told her that. It had been our little secret. That, and the fact that he still stole a smoke once in while after the doctor had specifically told him not to.
I reach their graves and standing close to my mother's, I place the arrangement of flowers on it. Thank God the annoying drizzle has stopped. I close my umbrella and let it fall on the ground.
“Hi daddy!” , I whisper and my gloved hand barely brushes over his tombstone. “I know it's been a while since I came to say hello. I'm sorry but life hasn't been easy these last few weeks. Far from it. It has been torture.” I close my eyes for a second and I really hope and pray that it has started raining again. Because tears is the last thing I need right now. And in that small fraction of a second, when my eyes close, I see green eyes staring at me. Filled with love! With adoration! With mischief!
Not again, I groan inwardly and open them. It's definitely not raining.
“I wish you were here! I know that this is not possible, but I wish you were. To hold me in your arms like you did when I was a little girl. To tell me that my life would be beautiful, calm. Filled with love and warmth! I know that we didn't always see eye to eye. That you disapproved of many of the things I did. But I also know that deep down inside, you were also proud of me. Proud that I was my own self. That I didn't need to be defined by a man. You were so different than mother!” I take in a shaky breath as I'm trying to control myself. I inhale and exhale, a small cloud forming. Jesus, it's cold.
“Hello, mother! I have missed you. Yes, I have. You may not believe it, but I have never stopped missing you. I miss everything. The way you would always check to see if my purse matched my shoes. If my lipstick was too bold, if my earrings were too shiny. I have even missed our fights. From the little ones concerning curfew and school to the big ones concerning him! Now that all this time has passed, I realize it wasn't your fault. That's how you were brought up. To value people based on their bank accounts. And believe me, mom. The only thing he lacked in was that! The bank account. But you refused to see it. You never bothered with getting to know him. To see how amazingly sweet he was. How strong! How brave! How he relished watching me be me! To you he was nothing but a grease monkey. I still remember our biggest fight. The beginning of the end of our already shaken relationship. When my dear, good friend Betsy had tipped you off about seeing us at the fair…
I'm so happy. My life is filled with him! The smell of his leather jacket as he holds me in his arms. The sparkle of his emerald eyes as he looks at me, encouraging me to flip a mental finger to the tight assed society we live in. The deep rumble of his voice as he murmurs the words of a song. How have I lived so long without him in my world? My steps are light and I'm almost dancing as I make my way back home from a trip to the bookstore. My head is still swimming with joy as my brain travels back to our last date. My fingers touch my lips as the memory of our kiss creeps back in. I'm almost certain that I have blushed. I stop and take a deep breath. The house is near and I can't walk in looking all flushed and excited.
The grass in our front garden looks greener and the scent of the lilies and the roses is sweeter. The light breeze ruffles my skirt as I mount the steps to the front door. I turn the knob and drop my bag on the floor next to the small wooden cupboard that holds the pictures of my parents on their wedding day and mine on the first day of school. As I'm making my way towards the stairs that would lead me to the solitude of my room, my father's voice stops me dead in my tracks. “Y/N! Come in here for a second!” There's something very serious in his tone, making my skin goosebump and the hair on the back of my neck stand up. “Yes, daddy!”, I call back and cautiously enter the living room. He is sitting in his armchair, trying to push tobacco in his wooden pipe. He lifts his gaze to me as I come to stand in front of him. “Yes, daddy?” I ask. But instead of him, I hear my mother’s voice from behind my back and I turn towards that direction. I'm met with her petite figure, dressed in a white blouse, buttoned all the way up and a dark grey skirt stopping right below her knees. Her signature pearl necklace and earrings, clear testament of our social status. “Y/N! We need to have a serious conversation and I want you to be nothing but honest with me!” she said, closing the book she was holding with a thud and placing it on the small table. “Yes, mother” I reply, realizing where this was leading to but hoping I was wrong. “I was over to Mrs. Johnson for some tea and I was met with some rather disturbing news concerning you and a certain young man you were spotted with at a fair.”
God damn, Becky blabbermouth, I think and my hands curl into fists at my sides. Of course she would go opening her stupid mouth to her stupid mother, the chief gossiper of the neighborhood.
“So, care to explain what you were doing at a country fair with someone we know nothing about? Shamelessly slandering our family name? Parading around like a harlot?” Her voice was low, menacing and her whole body was shaking. She was twisting her white, lacy handkerchief between her fingers, her knuckles turning white.
“Dear, be careful how you talk to the girl” my father said behind me.
“Girl?! Let's hope she's still one!” she spat out. “How are you going to get married if every eligible bachelor learns of your escapades? If our name is dragged in the dirt because of you, our money will have no meaning!” she went on. “After I have spent my life raising you, preparing you, grooming you to become a wife and mother. I have been lenient with this whole school thing, allowing you to study. And this is how you repay me? By sneaking around with God knows who?”
She kept going but I had stopped listening. I sneaked a glance towards my father who was looking at her and me, not really wanting to confront his wife. For someone who believed that a woman's position was lower than a man's, my mother had never given my father the same liberties. And he had never asked. Valuing his peace and quiet more, I had come to realize.
I didn't want this. I didn't want to be in a relationship that the woman would be a bitch and a man a creature without an opinion. As much as I didn't want to be in a marriage where the man was the master, able to do what he pleased and the woman had to always say yes. And suddenly, that image from my first date with Dean came back. When he had encouraged me to just stand at the end of the cliff and scream a huge “fuck you” to the world.
“Are you listening to me, Y/N?!” My mother's voice snapped me back. And I felt tired by all this. I needed to scream that same “fuck you” right in her face. But I couldn't. So I settled for the next best thing.
“Mother, for the love of all that's holy, please shut up!” I say. And then there's absolute silence. My mother is staring at me, her mouth open and her eyes wide. “I have done nothing that would bring shame to the family name and rest assured my virtue is still intact. Waiting for you to sell it to the highest bidder. But, if you had just taken a moment to look at me and really see me, you'd realize how happy I am. Because that young man you referred to so disapprovingly, doesn't give a rat’s ass about our money. You know why? Because he's richer than us. He has a heart made of pure gold. He's kind, funny, true. He has everything you should want my husband to have. And what's more, he sees me and likes me for who I really am. Not who you and our sterilized society wants me to be. And know this. I don't know where this is going to, if anywhere, but believe me. I'd rather live with him as his harlot than without him in a marriage like yours!”
Her hand crashed against my cheek, my face turning to the left by its force. This was the fist slap I've ever had. And it took me by surprise. I slowly turned my head back towards her and said: “Thanks for proving me right mother”. I stormed out of the room, the last thing I heard was her, calling me back and the slam of the door as it closed behind me.
I walk blind, with anger and tears blurring my eyes, along the green path that leads to the main road. It’s hot, but the wind takes away part of that, messing up my loose hair, drying the wet path my tears leave, making my skin tight. My right cheek still stinging and throbbing...more my pride than actual pain.
I retrace the same road as before coming home from the bookstore, not that I have other places to be right now. I can’t drive, going back to pick up the bicycle is out of the question, so my aching feet is the only way I have to get the heck away from that house, that golden prison.
I long for Dean’s presence, but we didn’t plan to see each other today and his family’s shop is too far to reach on foot. I bite my thumbnail nervously as my mind is trying to find a solution.
In the end I find some coins in my skirt pocket. I could go to the diner and grab a soda and ...I don’t know listen to depressing songs ? I hug myself as my pace quickens. Passing by the book store, suddenly I stop. The air smells like gasoline, my head frantically looks around, searching for -there it is- his motorcycle!
He’s here somewhere! I feel my heart constricting, beating faster at the realization that he's near. I turn, looking around me frantically until my eyes find his looking at me from behind the window of the bookshop. First surprised, then a smile starts to form just to die on his lips as he takes in my state - that must be ghastly, let’s be honest. Automatically, I smooth down my hair and my hand freezes, taking in the extent of my mother’s influence . I turn my head to the side suddenly wrapping myself in shame.
I hear the jiggle of the bookstore’s door being opened.
I rub my eyes with the palm of my hand, “Dean…” I suppress a sob and he reaches with his hands before halting himself looking around. He grabs my hand instead and drags me down the building’s side alley.
The brick wall scratches at my bare skin, but I feel numb to that too. The only thing I feel is the throbbing of my cheek and Dean’s warm hands on my arms.
He’s saying something but I can’t help but stare down. My face is being turned up suddenly and I see only him. He’s so worried, his jaw is clenched, his lips are tight and I’m so ashamed and angry.
“What do you think happened?” I spat back, and I cover my mouth the very next second. I didn’t want to sound so mean.
His eyes softened and still frowning he cups the offended cheek, his thumb softly caressing my sensitive flesh. All I can do is close my eyes and lean into his touch as more tears spill down on his skin.
Surveying the local bookstore takes me back to when I purchased Sam school’s books and I smile fondly at the memory of his toothy grin. I got some money from my job at the shop and I can finally buy the textbooks I need to complete my year and graduate.
I can help my uncle out but not do much for now, the shop is going steady , Sam is doing great at school, and I can think about myself.
As I’m comparing two book prices -this much, really?!- a blur of color in the corner of my eyes catches my attention.
I turn my head to the window shop and I see her right when she sees me.
I begin to smile without thinking , raising the hand that’s holding a book to wave at her , but something in her face stops me.
She’s panting, her hair are strangely unkept and lose, she doesn’t have a thing to cover her shoulders, she’s pale and her makeup is...well I think it melted down her cheeks. I noticed that one of those is angrily red. She sees my eyes shifting to that, my face crumbling, covering the hurt cheek with her hand she avoid my eyes, hugging herself with the other free arm.
I don’t need to think twice, the books falls from my hands and I swerve between the displays bumping in some of them, flies scattering around.
An outraged “hey! “ is quickly shut out by the door bell as I dash outside.
I ask her what happened, she tries to dab her eyes and respond but she only sobs my name. I reach for her but I know we are too in the open, spotting a side alley I gently drag her to the side, looming over to keep her hidden from prying eyes. I grab her chin and make her look at me.
“What happened?” I ask wary.
“What do you think happened?!” She spat back, raising her face and now I can see her clearer. Her eyes are fiery and red, her eyelashes wet and spiky, some mascara ran down and stained her under eyes. In her puffy eyes I read regret the moment she speaks and a hand covers her mouth.
I touch the red cheek that feels hot on my palm , and gently caress her with my thumb.
She looks so frail and exhausted as she leans into my hand ,sighing and closing her eyes , more tears rolls down and wet my hand.
That alone makes pure rage raise in my chest, I bit the inside of my mouth while I gently turn her head so that I can look at her cheek .
“Your old man didn’t…?”
“Mom” she whines, her stuffy nose makes her look like a kid caught stealing a cookie.
“Well now I know what’s coming when I’ll annoy you” I grimace at my out of place and time joke, but she laughs nevertheless, a careless ,wet laugh and it suits her and it makes me smile, here we are, two idiots smiling.
“...so ...what now?”
“W-what?” She asks rubbing her nose with the back of her hand.
“What do you wanna do now?” I ask serious.
“What do you mean?”
Oh I really don’t want to say it, because even the slight possibility of not seeing her again makes me nauseous. She sees it on my face and her expression grows sour.
“How dare you!” She hisses, pushing me with both hands, succeeding in making me stumble backwards,
“ how dare you think I could do that Dean Winchester!” she pushes me again and my back hits the wall behind me. She collapses against me, her hands sneaking around me.
I cradle her to me, my heart beating fast, she chose me, she chose me over her family, me. I squeeze her tight and kiss her head.
“...take me away” she whispers over my heart, and without saying a thing I lead her to the bike.
I stumble my way out the graveyard and into the nearby bar, it’s a sleazy place but the owner knows me as a regular and he always saw me with the same expression after my visits, I don’t even need to speak, he knows exactly what my order is. Always the same, an old expensive whiskey brand, the one my parents always drank on special occasions. He’s also one of my regulars at the club so it’s a win win situation.
But, we all know, sleazy bar carries sleazy customers.
Usually I come here with Chuck as he visits his sister, but this time I didn’t tell him, so I’m alone and of course a woman alone in a bar drinking attracts creepers. The majority of the regulars here knows me but there are always new ones that have some actual balls to annoy a woman in mourning attires that drinks whisky, neat, one after the other.
I groan mentally as this one random guy sit beside me on the stool and introduce himself to me like he’s the next hot shit or something.
Smiling politely I take a sip from my drink praying that he would go away or, better yet, please, oh please give me a reason.
The bartender slaps a glass in front of him, filling it with the cheapest fuel he could find.
“On the house, now leave the lady alone”
Apparently it’s not enough as he slide a clammy palm up my thigh. I just have to raise an eyebrow to the end of the counter for my friend to get the meaning. I saw him walk up to us and I look back at my drink while the patrons is being thrown out.
“You good doll?”
“Yes, thank you.” I push the empty glass to the bartender , “make it double, it’s been a long couple of weeks”
He eyes me, “Does Chuck knows you are here?”
I snort as I drown down my poison, “he will certainly know, once I’m done here”.
I can still feel the disgusting hand touching me and shiver, I hate being touched by men, no one is worth it , no one knows exactly how to, no one is him…
Every time is harder than the last. Feeling her pressed behind me. Her arms snaked around my chest, squeezing with every sharp turn. Her knees and inner thighs rubbing against mine. I can almost see her skirt fluttering, riding higher up her legs. Damn it! This is torture.
My left hand twists the gas handle and my foot steps on the last gear as I'm desperately trying to get to my destination as fast as possible. Thank God for the wind blowing on my face, somehow trying to cool me down. Just a couple of miles more and we're there. The road rolled under my wheels faster, her hands gripped me tighter, I can feel her chest pressing on my back and I was so glad that night had fallen because it would have been awkward for me when we'd have reached the cliff. A man sporting a hard on is certainly not a sight that a young lady should see.
And there it is. The small winding path, leading to the clearing and then the cliff. I turn hard and I hear her gasp and cling onto to me even tighter. After a minute of riding on the dirt path we’re there.
I kill the engine, flip the light switch and kick the side stand with my boot. She doesn't let go, arms still around me, her cheek pressed against my back. My hands find hers and I gently disentangle them.
“Let go of me for a sec, baby girl!” I whisper and she stiffens.
“No, please! Don't let go!” Is she crying? Is she still crying?!
“Just need to turn around, sweetheart. So I can look at you!” I try reasoning with her and I feel her relax and loosen her grip on me. I, quickly, dismount and get on the bike again. This time reverse. So, I'm now looking at her. My legs still on the ground, supporting my weight and my hands are resting on my thighs. I want to grab her and crash her to me, kiss her till she forgets everything, make her feel how much I love her.
But I hesitate.
Instead, my head is lifted to the sky and my eyes close. I take in a shaky breath, my hand combing through my hair, and I try to calm myself. Put my emotions at bay. Give her time. But what she does takes me by surprise.
I feel her shift a little on her seat, moving closer to me and I watch as her legs slide over mine and slowly wrap around my waist. Her hands rest flat on my chest and I'm sure that she can feel my heartbeat.
“Hold me, please! Close and tight,” her voice barely above a whisper.
I bent my body a little and my right hand finds the nape of her neck, slowly guiding her parted, pleading lips to mine. I trace them with my tongue, trying to be as gentle and as patient as I can. Not for one minute wanting her to believe that I would do anything to disrespect or hurt her.
She moves her hands upwards and pulls at me, her tongue finding mine, licking and brushing at it. Dancing a torturous dance that isn't helping me behave at all. I seal my lips on hers, the kiss deepening and becoming hotter by the second. My left arm goes around her waist, keeping her even closer as we continue steal each other breath, hoping and praying that at some point soon I will find the will to stop. She moan against my lips. A low, deep moan that sends a shiver down my spine and a surge of heat through my body.
How can I be freezing cold and scorching hot at the same time?
My hand leaves her neck and slowly traces a line, my fingertips barely grazing her skin, following the frantic pulse beating there. I pray that she will stop me before I get lower but instead she arches her back and coaxes me to continue. But I can't really do this without actually hearing her say that she wants it. That she really wants it. At the same time praying that she will be stronger than me and order me to stop. So, I reluctantly break the kiss and hear her complaining whimper. Before she gets a chance to voice her complain, I place my index finger on her lips and looking deep into her eyes I open my mouth to speak. “Please…” I whisper trying to control my voice “... tell me to stop!” I beg her in a last, desperate effort to be a gentleman. But instead of answering, her small fingers go to the buttons of her shirt and slowly start unbuttoning them.
One by one.
Her eyes locked on my face as I follow that mesmerizing movement that reveals the top of her beautiful breasts, covered in the most delicate silk and lace.
One by one, till they're all undone, her shirt being kept together only because it's still tucked inside her skirt.
“Dean…”, her lips parted, “please touch me, I need to feel you...” she whispers and I think I may have just died. My fingertips trace her collarbone and I watch her tilt her head to the left, her breathing picking up and her skin getting hotter. Then lower on her sternum and even lower between her breasts. The lace and silk of her bra running cool and smoothly under the tips of my fingers. She's still looking at me as her small hand covers mine and gently pushes it to the left, her back arching once again so my palm is now resting on her breast, feeling its fullness and the stiff peak of her nipple under it. I squeeze ever so lightly and her head fall back, exposing her beautiful throat. My lips are there, sucking and biting at the tender spot where her neck meets her shoulder all the while my fingers are toying with the material of her bra and I can feel her trembling under my touch.
My left arm falls on her leg and I realize her skirt has risen so high up that my fingers are tracing her garter clip. I follow the line of her stocking as it wraps around her thigh and gripping at it pull her on my lap. She's literally sitting on me and I hope that she won't be able to feel exactly what is going on under her. But that little gasp that I hear and feel as my lips trace the line of her throat tells me that she knows.
I have to find the will and stop. I know that at some point it is going to happen. I know that this girl here is the love of my life. I know that I'd walk to hell and back for her. And God in heaven I want to feel her wrapped around me. But not like this. Not on my motorcycle. Not out in the open. She deserves to be loved properly. Hell, she deserves to be worshipped. And I'm so willing to do that. Worship at her feet.
But not like this.
So, I lift my head up and push her just a little grabbing her attention. Her questioning eyes searching mine.
“Did ….did I do something wrong?” she asks, her voice small and husky. I want to scream in frustration, instead I let my head fall on her shoulder letting out a breathless chuckle.
“I want you so much, baby girl. So much that I feel actual pain ripping through me.” I raise my head, grazing her neck and cheek , “ I need you. Need to feel you close to my body. Close to my soul. But not like this.” my lips hovers over hers, barely touching as I speak and she chases me. My fingers graze at her lips, and she let out another shaky breath, I can taste the words even before I speak them.
“I love you. So damn much!” her eyes widens, “that's why, when this happens, it needs to be perfect. As much as I don't want to stop -trust me, I really don’t- I must. I could never forgive myself if I let this be the first time we're together. Tell me you understand, baby girl!” Tugging a wild strand of hair away from her face I take time to watch her, with her pink lips parted, her face traced with red patches and eyes dark , her chest rising up and down -that satin and lace undergarment that I can still feel under my fingers- son of a bitch!.
She smiles and I think that the stars are shining a little brighter right now. Tangling her fingers in my hair, she looks straight in my eyes and says : “I have been waiting for you. Searched you in my dreams. Prayed for you. I know you'd never do anything that wasn't right for me. I'm yours. I've been yours since the first time I bumped into you. So, yes. I understand.”
She shift closer and kiss me tenderly and now it’s me that chase after her lips as she breaks away, “ but, more importantly” her hand cups my cheek, “ I love you too. With everything I’ve got , which at the moment it’s....these clothes and my voice, since I’ve probably been disowned” she chuckles blushing, “but ..yeah...I don’t need anything else”.
I’m searching for words to describe how I’m feeling at this moment, having her in my arms, knowing that we have each other and that she loves me, I-
“I can play the guitar” I babble in awe and I scowl at myself. She stares at me before bursting into laughter, collapsing against me and I can’t help but join her .
“Hiya Chuckie!” I snort and then laugh collapsing on the counter, raising my almost empty glass at him. He’s looking at me with a scowl, but a sad one and I hate it even more, “oh oh shhhhhh” I press a finger to my lips turning to the bartender, “ I think someone is mad at me” I drunk whisper at him and stand up slowly.
I lose balance since the world starts to spin and fall back on the stool, finding my elbow in an iron - and painful- grip as Chuck dashed to catch me.
“I’m fine, I’m fine” I said musing with my eyes closed only to snort into a fit of giggles.
“Ok sweetheart, time to go”
“mmm yes it is, come on!” he makes me stand up and seeing how I’m swaying he scoops me up in his arms, “ damn it Y/N!” he swears while I throw my arms around his neck and cuddle against his chest.
“yeah...yeah...you’ll hear me tomorrow, for now just don’t throw up on me”
“Can’t promise that “
With a little bounce he secure my slumped body in his arms and walks to his car parked around the corner. His eyes fell on the watch I’m wearing.
“oh Y/N ...I know you loved him but ...he’s not here anymore, why torturing yourself like this?”
“....he never left”.
Chapter 6: 6.Old Fashioned
My God, how I love this girl! Every fiber of me, every molecule, every cell of my body is consumed by her. I feel her pressed against my back, her arms wrapped around me, her delicate hand resting on my heart. I reach mine up and place it on hers, squeezing it, pressing it on my chest, hoping she could feel exactly how fast and erratically my heart is beating.
The road is dark, winding, disappearing under my wheels. It is leading us back to the reality of the world. The beam of my bike’s headlight splitting the darkness, guiding me towards the consequences we will have to face. We, but mostly her.
She has already suffered because of me. That red mark that was imprinted on her cheek a clear testament that the girl behind me is so much stronger than what I had pegged her for. She had gone against her parents, defied her own mother, had a fight with her… and all that for me!!
No one has ever put me above anything or anyone else. I mean, I know my father loves me and Sam kinda looks up to me like a younger brother would normally do. But they’re family. They kinda have to.
But her! That act of defiance that earned her a literal slap in the face.
How can I not love her? How can I not worship at her feet?
She chose me, a dropout with six bucks to his name. But all that pride I felt…? All that happiness…?
Dangerous, it made me lose control. Cross the line.
But the way she felt in my arms. How delicate and smooth her skin was under my lips. How she breathed my name and melted against my touch! She liked it, certainly it seemed that she wanted me to do all those things and -lord forgive me- so much more.
I shouldn’t have let it go that far! I mean, I’m sure that had she not wanted any of it, I’d be lying on my back, next to my bike after being punched in the face. Because, my girl is like that. Feisty and strong.
Son of a bitch. I’m ruined. No matter which direction this goes,no matter how much time we have, I am certain that I could never love the way I love her. So completely, so consumingly.
The lights of the town are visible now. All this will soon come to an end. How I wish I could just walk her on her doorsteps and into her house, having her in my embrace and just face her parents, tell them that she’s mine. That I will never leave her. That I’m sure I don’t deserve her, but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn the right to be beside her. That there could never be anyone else for me. That I love her.
But I can’t.
And she will have to face those consequences alone. Again. For me!
My grip on the handle tightens and I slow down just a bit.
How could this day have started so badly and ended up so beautifully? Well, it hasn’t ended yet, and I know what’s gonna happen the minute I step through the door, but right now, all I know of… all I feel… all I need… is him. His body sheltering me from the cold on the ride back, my now swollen cheek pressed against the cool leather, the scent of it already deeply imprinted on my clothes and my mind.His rough hand feeling so tender and warm as it’s locked mine over his heart.
God! I can feel his heartbeat! Hell, if I focus enough, I’ll probably be able to hear it. And mine could definitely match his. I close my eyes and I can still taste his lips on mine. The way his tongue licked and begged for me to let him in, desperately and hesitant at the same time. I could feel how he tried to restrain himself and the pleasure it gave me thinking that I was causing that. The goosebumps I felt when his eyes burned me as I was undoing my buttons and when his fingertips brushed against my breast. I’m so glad that he was a gentleman and stopped when he did. Because I’d never been able to. I would have been totally fine if he had made me his, right there. On that bike. Out in the open.
Sure, I’ve never experienced anything like this so I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but for me, right in that moment , nothing else could ever compare, and I know that I wouldn’t want nobody else to touch me like that.
There can never be anyone else for me. I am willing to leave everything behind and follow him anywhere if he ever just asked me to. In my heart and in my mind I’m already his. His concern when he saw the red mark on my cheek, his effort to conceal his anger, his willingness to make me forget everything.
I’d chosen him once and I’d choose him again in heartbeat. Because this man is everything I want and I’ll ever want. He is the one who encouraged me to shout a huge “fuck you” to the world I’m going back to. He found my quirkiness,my temper and unladylike manners amusing . He’s the one who instead of suffocating me, is actually breathing more air into my lungs. More love into my heart.
If such a man doesn’t deserve a slap and a fight with my parents, I don’t know who does. And I know that the fight is gonna happen. The yelling and the threatening and maybe the slapping have already played in my head. But now…
Now, I don’t give a damn, because I know that he loves me. And I love him too. Above all stereotypes. Above our crappy era. Above everything.
I just love him.
Pressed against the wall that surrounded my house’s garden we exchanged one last kiss.
“Are you going to be okay?”
His lips grazed mine, lingering warm and soft, before backing away from me. I chased after them, a little whine escaping. He chuckled before cupping both my cheeks with his hands.
“Y/N” he warned and I rolled my eyes pouting.
“Yes…I’ll be fine. they are strict and old fashioned but they are my parents and I know they love me. It’s a little bump on the road but nothing I can’t take care of”
He smiled, a tight smile that told me he’s not entirely convinced but he trusted my judgement. Squashing my cheeks together he pecked my fish like lips and backed away, our hands slowly lingering in our touch , not wanting to let go, before letting them fall along our sides.
We stood there staring at each other. Oh damn, this is really hard!.
His eyes widened and be blushed scratching behind his head.
“Err…your-” he averted his eyes and cleared his voice, “ -the uhm …the buttons” he blindly motioned in my blouse’s direction.
Quickly looking down I blushed as my eyes noticed that I had missed some buttons.
I raised my hands to take care of it -we really wouldn’t want my parents seeing me coming home in this state, they’ll probably send me to a nunnery or something-
his hands covered mine, slowly pulling them aside. My breath hitched when he began to undo the few wrongly done buttons - it really was something different when someone else did that- still with that intense stare that reduced my knees to mush again. His knuckles grazed my collarbone and I closed my eyes shivering and tilting my head back as he reached the collar top ones.
“All done….nice and proper again” I could hear the smirk in his voice.
“ Yeah…didn’t want you to see me in a white dress with a shotgun pointed at your back” I joked before mentally kicking myself.
Whoa!! Real smooth, Y/N.
I didn’t want to see his expression just now so I looked at my shoes as an awkward silence filled the space between us.
He straddled his bike, the loud purr of the engine vibrating into my chest.
“Go inside right away” he finally said, amusement in his voice.
“Don’t forget to call the shop tomorrow….around noon”
“I will “
“But you can call earlier too-”
“-or also later”
“Now that I think of it… you can call anytime”
“- it’s just better at noon because they are all on break and-”
“Yeah, ok sorry….so…we’ll talk tomorrow”
“Tomorrow” I confirmed giggling and watched as he saluted me with a wink before disappearing around the corner.
I shook myself out of my daydreaming and sucking in a big breath, I turned around squaring my shoulders, raising my chin high - the angry red patch of skin still stinging- and walked to the front door ready for whatever battle awaited me on the other side.
“There she is!”
I throw a stink eye at Benny from behind my sunglasses as I enter the club, already bathed in dim light .Thank Chuck for that! But I still keep them on until I can hide in my dressing room, away from prying eyes. Benny’s in particular.
“Hey doll, sunglasses indoors ? Had fun last night, I gather”. I turn around, facing him, showing exactly how I felt about his comment. “That was completely unladylike, sweetheart, I love it!” he shouted as I disappeared behind the curtain.
Dropping onto the chair I let my body slide until my head rested on the backrest, my hand blindly searching for my cigarette pack in my dressing gown hanging behind me.
The first draft of smoke gave me life and I inhaled deeply, feeling my muscles already relaxing and my throat burning. Before taking a second puff, the cigarette was slipped out from my fingers.
“You can’t come back here Chuck, this is the girls’ changing room”
“Wrong, this is the only changing room in MY club” his voice stern but warm. I lowered my sunglasses, watching as he put a glass in my hand.
“I hope that’s gin”
“If it helps, sure.” he said before adding a tablet in it. I grimaced as it fizzled until it disappeared.
“Do you want me to keep your nose pinched? ”
I throw down the disgusting hangover remedy in one gulp, shuddering as it went down to my mostly empty stomach. “Oh god, you really do hate me”
“Hate you so much that I changed tonight’s set to Jazz ballads” he smiled in the mirror as I watched him smoking my cigarette. He pointed at it, saying “ no more of these tonight”. I groaned loudly, my head rolling back against the backrest again. “And also no alcohol tonight”
“…and also no alcohol tonight …” I repeated whispered mockingly, forgetting that he could see me in the mirror.
“I already threatened Benny and don’t try to drink from the customers. I’ve got Zeke to keep an eye on you” I turned to look at him offended but he had already disappeared.
“Fellas and ladies, I’ll leave you to the capable hands of Mr.Chuck’s swing’s set. And we’ll be back for some more Jazz right after a break.” I said addressing the room, making a little pause for the applause, bowing. “ Y’all know how to make a girl giddy “ I said with a sugary cute tone, my cheek hurting from smiling, a hand on my heart.
As soon as the curtains fell behind me the smile faded into a frown, my fingers massaging my temples. I patted my coat draped across the chair. I knew I had another pack hidden here somewh- ah ah! found it!
Sneaking out the back I shivered as the night’s cold air hit my face, the noises from the street muffled in the little alley.
As I enjoyed my more than deserved break, some angry voices reached my ears, but instead of being of angry men as I was used to, this time they were feminine ones.
“Is this the place you’ve been sneaking to?” a unpleasant shrill drilled into my brain painfully.
“…mom..” the girl’s little scared voice instead pierced my heart.
I saw the mother dragging the poor girl away, causing an embarrassing scene.
“I raised you better than this. What were you thinking going around dressed like a common harlot, dancing shamelessly with men. I swear once at home your father is g-”
I drown out the rest closing the door behind me, a shaky breath leaving my weary body.
Even though I know I can’t escape what’s coming, I still enter home silently and on my tip toes, closing the door slowly. But as soon as my foot sets on the first step that would lead me to my room, the blasted thing creaks.
“Y/N is that you?….”
I don’t answer to my dad’s voice but I don’t move from where I am, either.
“Come into the parlor, please”
“…. yes father”
As soon as I enter the room, my eyes find him sitting in his chair, his pipe in his mouth, reading his favourite book - uh I’m in real trouble now- a glass of whiskey sitting on the tea table beside him -yes…real trouble-
When he raises his eyes to me all my bravado from before vanishes, my own eyes start to burn and I look down. He looked angry, yes, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the tired look of worry that made him look older than he was.
I bit my tongue in my suddenly dry mouth at his tone.
“You listen to me now, am I clear?”
He signaled me to come closer and I took my place, the usual place I’d always taken when I was little, curled at his feet in front of the fireplace, my cheek , that usually was at his knee’s height now settling on the armrest.
“Never do that again! “ his tone harsh and dry, “Storming out like that and going who knows where. Do you have any idea how worried we were? We didn’t call the police only because we sent Mr.Raynolds after you and he saw you going away with that boy”
I tensed and he sighed heavily, I felt a huge weight coming off his shoulders as he laid a warm hand on my head, slowly caressing my hair. I leaned into his touch , tears threatening to spill.
“I…I’m sorry Dad”
He patted my head , “I know you are sweetie, I know you are”. We fell in a warm comfortable silence as the smoke from the pipe wrapped us in our own world. “How’s the cheek?”
“Stinging” I said, massaging it.
“Your mother has an excellent slapping technique, I should know, got few of those myself when I deserved them”
We chuckled slightly.
“Why …why don’t you tell me something about this mystery guy?”
I sucked in a breath as I looked up at his kind eyes and strained smile, and my bottom lips trembled.
“His name’s Dean Winc-”
“Oh NOW you decide to come home?!”
We both jumped as my mother’s voice filled the parlor and popped the warm bubble we were in.
“You shut up! And you..” she said pointing at me “… get up!! “.
I did as she ordered and stood up, proudly walking toward her. I flinched when she grabbed my jaw, turning my face to inspect my cheek.
I peeked at her face and I could see a frown on her features, almost like she regretted it, but that soon disappeared as she eyed how I looked, unkept, messy, rosy cheeks and bright eyes. She knew. She definitely knew.
“So, not only do you run from home in that state , so everyone could see you walking around like that, but you jumped on a motorcycle, with that….that hood, going who knows were for hours. AND now you come back at this hour, looking like that?” .
Yes….she definitely knew.
She sighed pinching the bridge of her nose, before torturing her pearl necklace, “At least….at least please tell me you didn’t-”
“NO!!! Oh my gosh, mom of course not !” I said blushing embarrassed .
“Oh, thank God!” she said laying both her hands on my shoulders, “And please tell me you said goodbye to him”.
“What?!…I did not do such thing and I never will!”
Her fingers dug into my skin almost hurting “What did you say?” she hissed between her teeth.
“You heard me” I shrugged, escaping her grip, standing in the middle of the room, looking at both of them, “ he’s….he’s…” I choked on my world as my eyes filled with tears.
“He’s a good-for-nothing hood who just arrived in our town and you are the first skirt he got in a bundle”
“A drop-out, I suspect. From your friend’s description I guess he’s what….a mechanic?” she said the last word like it was the most disgusting thing that she ever had to name.
“He had to drop out to help his family so his little brother could continue his studies! He’s going back to his studies to get a degree in Mechanical engineering”
She snorted, “Oh sure, and I guess he promised you the sky and the moon. Y/N, you are a grown woman, you have no time for fairytales”
My mouth setted in a tight line, jaw clenched, we just stared at each other.
“I’ll never marry whoever you want to sell me to”
“Sell you?!” she said raising her voice and I winced, “I’m not selling my only daughter like a cow in the market! I just want to be sure you’ll be comfortable for the rest of your life. Why can’t you see that?”
“I prefer to be happy than comfortable!” I shouted back.
We looked at each other, our breathing fast, both red in the face. We probably looked very alike.
“I don’t understand why would you throw away a perfectly good opportunity for a wealthy marriage to follow an infatuation”
“I LOVE HIM”
“AH! Love!! You are too young to know what that is”
“You were my age when you married dad!”
“I was clearly wiser”
“You’re going to tell that boy to leave you alone!”
“I will not”
“I will not have my daughter becoming the wife of a mechanic, no way!”
“It’s not your call”
“Oh, it is. You can’t do a thing about it”
We were inches apart, venom spitting out from our eyes, my knees trembling under her stony face and I started to feel crushed.
“Why don’t you introduce him to us?”
“ What?!” both our heads turned to my dad who, in the midst of all, had stood up, finished his drink and now he was pouring himself another one, double.
“Well , I want to at least have my own opinion on the fella. I think it’s only fair”
“What are you saying darling?” my mom’s voice dangerously sweet, “ You want to invite the boy who almost made a whor-”
“ENOUGH!!” He shouted and we both flinched, not used to him raising his voice. He downed his drink in one gulp and turned to the fireplace, giving us his back.
When he spoke again his voice was the same collected tone as usual. “I said we meet the boy and let him speak for himself like a man he should”, he turned his head slightly to look at me, “a man who should deserve my daughter”.
“Hon-” my mother started.
“Next Thursday, dinner, 6 pm sharp. That is all.” Saying that, he walked out of the parlor leaving us speechless.
I woke up again in the present, the ashes of my finished cigarette almost burning my fingers. Looking up at Benny I throw the cigarette butt on the ground, stomping on it with the point of my shoe.
“Yeah, ‘been calling ya ‘couple of times. Where were ya?”
“Just….never mind. Can you bring a tonic and whatever tablet Chuck gave me earlier backstage? My head is killing me”
“No alcohol “
“Oh my God, okay. Just take away the gin, whatever” Wrapping the coat around me I snorted and slipped inside the club again, ready for my last set so I could go and die in my bed for the rest of the next day, thank you very much.
“Ugh, can you lower the lights a bit?”
“Y/N, people need to see to clean this place” I reach Chuck, sitting next to him at the piano. He’s pressing random keys while finishing his drink. I look at it longingly. “How are you anyway?”
“Really ready to go home, and if you wake me before twelve I’ll kill you”
He chuckled shaking his head, “It’s your fault, Y/N”, then he went serious playing a little riff, “You need to stop drinking so much”.
“Oh please…” I snorted, but seeing no amusement on his face I bit my tongue and laid my head on his shoulder, “I know, it’s been….difficult these last few weeks.”
He hummed, patting my thigh before putting both hands on the keyboard and starting a familiar tune. I chuckle, “Really? Chuck come on! I sang all night, are you not tired of hearing my voice?”
“Never “ he started from the beginning again, going in circle until I decided to humor him.
The night is cold but the air is humid tonight, my breath visible as it condensates in front of me. I bring the lapels of my wool coat up, protecting my throat from the chill wind that sometimes hits my face.It’s in this particular weather that my chest usually starts to ache so I bring a hand over my heart. Still beating, pulses are strong, I let out a huff, I’m good.
The streets are mostly empty, save for some late night couples hiding in the shadows, the last patrons leaving bars, and drunk people which I have to dodge as I walk on the sidewalk.
I really want a drink , at least to warm the chill that is settling in my bones.
There are still some clubs open at this hour, their lights reflecting on the shiny wet street, but no one is playing music right now, so I guess no nightcap this time.
Son of a bitch, I really need one!.
As I pass near the umpteenth closing club I hear some notes.
Then someone, maybe, will still sell me some damn whisky, whatever brand or quality they have, I’m not picky.
The stairs that lead down to the main room are not illuminated so I go down slowly. It seems a bit sketchy but who cares, and damn this song is calling me and it’s a duet, her voice is nice.
Aah!!! Tennessee Whiskey, how approp-
I’ve looked for love in all the same old places
Found the bottom of a bottle always dry
I stumble on the stairs, my hand clutching the handrail as I lean on it, suddenly feeling like all my blood left my body.
No…no, I must have heard wrong.
But when you poured out your heart I didn’t waste it
‘Cause there’s nothing like your love to get me high
Without me having a say, my trembling legs reach the end of the stairs and the main room opens up in front of me, half concealed by thick velvet curtains. Pressing myself against the wall I peek inside.
You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
You’re as sweet as strawberry wine
My eyes need to adjust to the bright light shining on the stage, illuminating the couple sitting together at the piano. The man is playing and singing following the woman beside him. She’s turned toward him, her back at me, but during the next few lines she turns again and I can make out her outline.
You’re as warm as a glass of brandy
And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time
I suck in a breath, or I forgot to breath, still don’t know which one, but I don’t care right now.
That’s…no, it can’t be…but that’s her voice, that’s her little round nose, her dark eyelashes, her full delicate lips in a tinge of red I’ve never seen. She used to wear pink. I shake my head, that was when she was a girl. What I’m looking at now is a woman. Even her voice seems a bit rougher than I remembered, then I see her thin - way too thin- arm reaching for the cigarette between the man’s lips, bringing it to hers.
My chest aches again, but this time the pain is deeper, not only it reaches my heart, but also my soul, what is left of it anyway. I clench both my jaw and fists ,teeth grinding and nails digging into my palms, as I watch them smile warmly at each other. She lays her head on his shoulder and they sway together as they sing the last lyrics.
You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
The song ends and they stay like that a bit more, in comfortable silence, she sigh contently as the man circles her shoulders with his arm, bringing her closer.
I don’t want to watch this.
Of fucking course.
It’s not that she would have waited for me anyway. Hell, she had probably forgot pretty quickly.
She raises a hand swiping her face, under her eyes, is she…..crying?.
The man’s hand slides on her head, kissing it and she softly laughs.
My hand covers my heart again as a fit of pain takes my breath away. They are whispering something to each other, intimately and I feel embarrassed watching them, like I’m spying on a private moment.
Looking down I smooth down the edge of my hat, steal another glance before squeezing my eyes shut, trying to delete everything I’ve just seen, but in vain, it’s all burned in my mind. I slowly put on my hat, angling it on my face, hiding my eyes from the world as I turn around and suddenly I don’t care about the humid, cold and windy air outside.
I welcome it.
Right outside I look up as some stray rain drops fall on my face, I swallow the lump that formed in my throat , and tuck my cold hands in my pockets. Taking the first step is more difficult that I imagine, but I manage to walk away, every step quicker than the last.
I had an important date with my hotel’s alcohol assortment and for the first time in months I felt like I didn’t want to ever regain conscience.
Chapter 7: 7.Limoncello
Finally back with this one.
I missed it so much.
- flashbacks are in italics
words : 5.6k
“They want what?”
I offered him a tissue as he coughed the milkshake that went down the wrong pipe. I watched as he cleaned his chin, taking longer than necessary, to think or at least recompose his face.
He cleared his voice, “they want what?”, he croaked repeating himself.
I sagged into my seat, crossing my arms and look out the diner’s window. It was a humid day and, apart from some kids running around eating ice-cream and old people in light cotton clothes playing cards under the shade, the streets were hot and mostly deserted,.
“Dinner, 6pm , next Thursday”
I closed my eyes, suddenly feeling weary. “They just want to see if you are ‘worthy’ of me” I said, air quoting, mocking my father’s voice.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to my father and-”
“Is it a black tie thing?”
“-convince him to- wait, what?”
“Do I need to dress like a penguin or something?”
“…” I gawked at him. He was lost in thoughts, playing with the straw as he counted something with his fingers, “you want to come?”, I stuttered.
“Uh?…” he looked at me once again, his eyes softening and that over confident smile slowly lightening up his face. “Of course. It’s your family”
“You really think I would decline your parents’ invite to dinner?” He said tilting his head, “Y/N, I am many things, but”, he said with a kind of confidence I haven’t yet seen in him, “I am not a coward”.
“Dean…it’s just …”, I bit my lip, “…there will be certain talks, and-”
“You mean ‘third degree?”, he said air quoting, “my prospects, if I can provide for you, education and what I’ll do with my life, talks?” ,although I felt uneasy about all this, he still managed to make me smile as he improvised a dad’s voice. “They are your parents, it’s their job to worry about your future”
“They are going to be rude, my mum in particular ,and I’m going to be upset, and by the time the shrimp cocktails arrive we’ll be shouting at each other or at least we’ll all suffocate by passive-aggressive atmosphere”
He shrugged,“sounds like any other dinner at my place, except the shrimps. We’ve got nothing that fancy”, he grinned before slurping the bottom of the milkshake.
I am not convinced. Not one bit. But he looks like he had already made up his mind.
“No penguin suit”, I said mumbling, “Tie and a evening jacket will be enough-”
“That much I can do”
“-and no jeans”, I smirked resting my chin on a hand.
He pointed a fry at me. “Now, that’s going too damn far” .
“If you get up to look out the window on more time, I’m going to glue you to that chair, for Pete’s sake!”
Mum’s exasperated voice makes me stop in my track. I changed course and headed to the mini bar where my father was, snatched the glass from his hands and downed it quickly.
“Y/N!!” she chastised me for the 10th time that evening. I rolled my eyes and slumped down on the love seat, disappearing in a cloud of tulle and petticoat. Angrily patting down the puffy skirt I looked at the time again. Just 3 minutes left until 6.
Punctuality is a very serious affair in this house. If Dean was going to be late then half the conversation will already start on the wrong foot.
I’m counting the seconds now, forty….thirty…ten….five, four, three, two….
The doorbell rang.
Oh God, please let it be him.
“Mr. Winchester is at the door, sir”
Father looked at his pocket watch nodding. “Yes, let him i- Y/N where do you think you are going?”
I halt myself midway through the room, balancing on my heels, before quietly sitting down again. “Sorry Dad”
“Thank you Fred, bring the young man here, please.”
“Good gracious Y/N, sit straight”, mother’s voice flows down my back, straightening it as rigid as an oak, “and please try not to look so eager. You are practically throwing yourself at that boy”
“Honey…” my father had time to hiss before Fred came back, behind him was-
“Mr. Winchester” I barely hear my father’s grave voice as he greets him. All my focus is on Dean, or whoever the heck that is . I mean….golly, I should not stare.
I always considered my father to be a tall, well built man but only after seeing him next to Dean do I realize how wrong I am. He is standing next to the man that has my heart, looking so small. But maybe this is how he looks to me now. Smaller. Because he has been replaced by Dean.
He looks completely different way than the one I am used to. Gone are the leather jacket and tight tee. Gone are the faded jeans with the remains of grease stains here and there. Gone are the heavy leather boots. All those have been replaced by a well tailored suit that could easily be found in the windows of all the trendy men’s stores. I can’t even begin to imagine how he got a hold of such a suit. But that is not important right now. As my eyes are traveling along his body, I try to engrave every little detail of him in my head.
A beautiful dark grey jacket hugs his shoulders, making them look even broader. It is still buttoned and that helps accentuate his waist and draws my attention even lower. His trousers, matching his jacket, much looser that the pairs I am used to seeing him in, do nothing to hide his muscular legs ,supporting this beyond than handsome man in front of me. A pair of leather shoes with thin leather shoelaces complete his attire that have me almost drooling shamelessly in front of my parents.
As he slowly turns around I catch a glimpse of his impeccable white shirt and grey tie. The light color of the shirt in combination with the dark suit make his green eyes look more vibrant , his hair usually wild and messy are shorter and combed tidily.
I don’t even hear his response to father as he shakes his hand firmly and that looks like the kind of handshake that my father would approve of.
Mother’s turn and I’m squirming in my seat. “Good evening Ma’am. Thank you for the invitation”, he says and bows his head a little.
“Would you like a drink?” I can hear some venom in her voice and I am already off my seat .
“No, thank you, ma’am.”
So far so good.
He looks at me now, his face so blank and serious. “Good evening Y/N”. He greets me gallantly and I can’t help a frown at how wrong and empty that sound.
“Well, shall we?” Mother’s rigid tone shifts the room attention to her leading to the dining room, father right behind her. I followed Dean’s squared back in that perfectly respectable dinner jacket, puzzled. He turns his face slightly, catching me staring at him. I can spot the mischief and delight dancing in his eyes and I giggle out of relief. Mother throws me a mean glance as we sit down at the table, but I don’t care. My Dean is in there.
The slam of the front door closing violently startles us as our heads follow the harsh metallic sound. I throw a puzzled look at Benny who just shrugs as he continues to wipe the glasses. There is something that doesn’t sit right in my stomach and next thing I know I’m currently excusing myself to a cigarette.
The air is cold and wet and the lighter flame flickers wildly before my hand shelters it. Leaning against the brick wall I scan the empty main street .
“I don’t even know why the hell I came outside anyway”
The smoke reaches my eyes.
“Aw shit!! That hurts!!”, I say hastily squeezing them shut and turning my face away from the cigarette. As the burn starts to fade, I slowly open them again, my vision blurred and a bit wet , but I tense noticing another figure not that far for me. A man’s figure.
I nervously look around me noticing that I’m alone and throw the half smoked cigarette on the ground ready to slip inside the safety of my club. But another furtive look tells me that the man is walking in the opposite direction, quite quickly I might add, feeling safer, I can’t help myself staring at his back as he fades into the night.
“Was it a customer or the wind?”
“I don’t know Benny. You should be in charge of that!” I said, as I shrug off the coat, draping it on the bar stool.
“Maybe y’all scared him off with that chick flick of a song”
“Oh wow. Benny…babe. A time will come when you are gonna bring here a sweetheart. I’ll pray for that poor soul. And when that time comes, please…please ask me to dedicate a song to her, and I’ll remember this day”
He just grins back, placing a half empty bottle on the counter.
“Dad said enough for tonight”
“Dad…” came Chuck’s voice from behind me, “need his nightcap before going out in the cold and drag your ass at home”
“Well boss. We need to finish this one. The bubbles’ve already left and it’s a bit flat, but it was one of the good batches. Real shame to pour it down the drain”
“Well, if you insist. We have no other choice, Chucky”
“Don’t..” he cringed, “don’t call me that”
I bring the bottle to my lips, but halt myself as the image of the back of that stranger flashes before my eyes again. Now that I think about it, it looked pretty sad. Maybe I should have called out to offer an after closure drink or something.
Well, too late now anyway. I shrug slightly before taking a swing of flat champagne.
His profile is rigid and stern, eyes stubbornly fixed forward, on my parents who I can hear talking in the background. My eyes are fixed on the way his throat moves as he’s speaking. He’s clean shaved and I can see a fine little cut on the jawline under his ear. I barely register his hand gently grazing my knee under the tablecloth and-
“Y/N! Are you listening?”
“Yes, mother” comes my natural answer, throwing a mean look at Dean as I rub my thigh where he had pinched me. “What is it?”
“The salt ,Y/N. Pass me the salt, please”
“Don’t you think you have enough, mother?” I whisper without thinking. Her hand halts midway in the air before snatching the little bottle from me. Dean’s foot gently presses on mine.
“This is exactly what I was telling you about, Mr.Winchester” she continues. Her eyes not leaving mine as she sprinkles the salt on her steak.
“My concern…” and she laces that word with so much venom that I doubt she can even taste her food, “…is that you go and put ideas into our daughter’s mind that’ll put her future in jeopardy”
“That’s a perfectly understandable fear Ma’am, but-”
“ ..and make her behave in a way that she was not taught”
Dean’s eyes did not weaver under mother’s unnerving stare. Unperturbed and serene they held hers, like a silent crossing of the swords. He gently put down knife and fork and reached for the glass of iced lemonade, his thumb brushing some of the water droplets that formed on the cold surface.
“With all due respect-” he started, bringing his glass to his lips, “I don’t think anyone in the world can make Y/N do anything she doesn’t want to, Ma’am”, he smirked before taking a sip, the words weighing down in the room. Father’s eyebrows raised and his mouth twitched, and my mother looked like she had just bit into the sourest Kumquat we had as centerpiece.
We were silent for a couple of seconds, my face in flames as I tried to chew. Father’s clearing of the throat caught our attention again and I could almost taste the next question better than this food.
“So Dean, tell me. What are you doing, currently?”.
You mean ‘what are your studies, what are your job prospects, how much money can you make, are you capable of providing for my daughter’
I could see some nervousness in his features now and the way he forced down his food to answer.
“I’m working in my father’s shop, Sir, as-”
“ -a mechanic , right?”, mother’s voice finished for him.
He smiled politely and I felt shame prickling my skin. “That’s one of my roles yes, but I also manage the finances and I’m in charge of the shop when my father and uncle are not there”
Father seemed pretty surprised by it, Mother was still chewing on that sour fruit and I could tell she didn’t want to back down.
“…Oh? I didn’t know you went to economics school”
Dean squirmed in his seat and my fingers squeezed around my cutlery as I faked cutting into my steak.
“I did not-”, then in the corner of my eye I saw his posture straightening, his chest and chin held high. “I did not finish my studies, Ma’am”.
Mother faked stupor like a cheap theater actor. “My goodness, whatever the reason?”
Dean’s mouth closed in a thin line.
“Mom-” I started only to be stopped by my father’s stern glance.
“My mother passed years ago and things were difficult for some time. My father and uncle had to work most of the time and I had a little brother to care for while they were away. I couldn’t leave him and-”
“But surely you could have hired a nanny or-”
“-as I said, money were tight and Sammy needed to attend school. It was an inevitable choice”. I shuffled my foot closer, nudging his and his lips twitched slightly, but he still wouldn’t look at me.
“So how come they entrust you with the shop’s book?” my father’s genuine curious tone inquired.
“I- I found some books in my town library and I taught myself”
That caught both my parents by surprise.
Father’s baffled expression was quickly replaced by interest as Fred took our empty plates away.
That prompted Dean to continue.
“Now Sammy is all grown up and enrolled into Trinity school with a scholarship.The shop is doing great and I can finish my studies and get a degree”
“And what would that be in?”
“Mechanical Engineering, Sir”
We keep each other upright as Chuck fiddles with the keys and pushes the door with his shoulder. The hinges make a long and creepy squeak as it opens into the dark room. There are too many clouds for the moonlight to help us as we blindly, and drunkenly, search for the light switch.
“Ah, fuck it!”, Chuck huffs , his arms feeling around the room, walking wobbly into the kitchen. I, for once not drunker than him, quickly navigate around and switch on the table light near the living room couch. The room fills with a warm, golden light that barely reaches the kitchen, but it’s enough for our eyes to see.
I look over to Chuck downing a glass of water, and I suddenly feel all the weight of the day on my eyelids. I walk over to the door, take out the keys that Chuck left into the keyhole, make sure it’s locked tight and drop them into the bowl near the entrance.
“I’m calling it Chuck. Goodnight!” I say over my shoulder as I walk to my room, and I’m followed by some unclear noises. I stop to listen until I hear the door of Chuck’s room close and then I close mine too.
Undressing as I walk toward my vanity, I let my clothes falling on the creaking floor. Sitting down on the stool I sigh as I take off my heels. They fall heavily on the floor and I wiggle my toes.
“Damn these blasted things!” I hiss as cramps start to spasm up my legs.
Stretching and relaxing my calves, I pin my hair back out of the way and scoop up a generous amount of cream, starting to massage it on my face, melting my makeup and I instantly feel fresher when I finally scrub my skin clean with a towel. With that burden out of the way I make my silent way to the bathroom, brush my teeth and finishing pinning my curls into place. Finally done with this damn routine, so my sober self tomorrow will be happy, I hastily remove the tight girdle,being real happy about it, roll down my stockings, that landed somewhere near the love seat and slip even faster into my powder pink satin slip.
Grabbing the silk vest hanging on the back of the closed door, I slip into it, the sleek fabric cool on my skin.
I switch off the light and walk slowly, stretching, grabbing the semi empty bottle of whiskey sitting on my nightstand and the tumbler glass that rolls on the carpet as I make my way to the window, misted from the cold.
I toss the now empty bottle in the trashcan near my writing desk, take a sip from the glass as my hand wipes away the mist. My forehead against the glass and I close my eyes, letting the cold seep through my skin, and deep into my bones to the point between hurting and losing all sensation.
I re-open my eyes and the electric lights from the streetlamps below drag the memory of that lonely man from before.
Something in him just hit me in a strange way.
The broad shoulders, the way he walked, I had only seen him from behind but it was almost as…
I push myself away from the window with a shaky laugh, “God, I’m pathetic”, I breathe and leave the rest of the drink on the window sill. Walking straight to my bed , now that my eyes got used to the semi dark, I don’t even shrug off my robe as I shuffle under the heavy covers pulling them over my face. My nose, feet and hands are frozen and they almost hurt when the warmth of my breath fills the space under the covers.
My body is so damn tired, but my mind is restless with crazy thoughts, and I already feel it imagining things, painting a what if scenario, and goddamn I don’t wanna go there.
I don’t fucking wanna go there, I don’t wanna think about fucking what ifs.
But since when does a tired,drunk mind listen to whatever you say?
I see my self turning away from the club entrance. I don’t want to, but my feet drag me to that man.
I can see him better as the wind picks up and the steam from the street’s manhole clears up.
The clicking of my heels on the sidewalk concrete resonates, bouncing loudly between the buildings. The man slows down but he doesn’t stop. He slightly turns his face, his semi profile gets briefly lightened up when he walks under a streetlight. His hat sits low and I can make out just part of the nose and his lips. The moment is brief but I’m already running.
His shoulders seem tense now, his walk more like a march. I can recognize it all too well. A soldier stance.
I catch up to him and I almost hesitate as my hand reaches for the sleeve of his grey coat. Woolen, rough and damp under my fingers, and I tag.
He stops but he doesn’t turn.
I open my mouth, but no sound comes out.
We stand still, in the middle of the foggy, wet sidewalk. I barely register that it has started raining.
My eyes look down at his hand, limp and vulnerable.
“….Dean..?” a word said so softly that I’m not even sure that I heard it myself.
His shoulders fall like he had just let go of his breath.
“Dean” I repeat, my voice hoarse, raised in a prayer. He starts to turn around, but in my eyes it is in slow motion.
I keep waiting for his face to fully turn. I wait and I wait, but it never does.
Until it does, but it’s all just too damn dark to make out any features and he still doesn’t say a word.
A loud crack tears the sky apart, a sudden flash blinds me and I cover my face, not fast enough though and I catch a glimpse of green.
My eyes snap open as I jolt sitting up on my bed.
Shaky palm combing through my hair, just to get stuck into my pinned curls. The violent sound of the thunderstorm raging outside, I look around trying to remember where I am. Another thunder shakes the window and I jump slightly. The lightning that follows illuminates the entire room like it’s day. The vanity mirror shines and drags my attention to the black and white portrait in the corner.
“Goddammit! ” I hiss between my teeth as another thunder resonates in my chest. I slip off my bed, dragging one of the covers behind me, draping it around my shoulder.
I walk to the mirror, my fingers reach for the picture, almost touching it before I rip myself away.
I knock lightly on the white chipped wood.
Some mumbled words barely reach my ears over the sound of rain outside.
Knocking again, this time I slowly open the door.
“…sorry, were you sleeping?”
I can make up Chuck’s silhouette as he sits up. His head turns to his windows.
I shake my head vigorously before remembering that he can’t see me, then another thunder and I’m reaching for his already extended hand.
“Sorry…” comes my muffled voice against his chest.
“ ‘s okay sweetheart, I was cold anyway. We need to call someone to repair that damn boiler” he chuckles, shuffling to the side and raising the covers to make room for me. I know too damn well that he’s not cold, it’s our silent path.
We don’t talk about that.
We don’t talk about how thunders sound like bombs and shells when they drop, tearing people apart.
We don’t talk about how lighting illuminates the night the way flare guns and tracer bullets illuminated French and German skies.
We don’t talk how heavy rain used to infiltrate trenches and foxholes,creating mud swamps, cold and unforgiving, soaking and chilling to the bones those soldiers, barely old enough to be called men and looking nothing like it.
I feel Chuck shiver and I rest my face against his back, my arm sneaking around him, prying his tightly closed fists open. Exhaling, and relaxing his shoulders, he brings my hand to his lips, and I squeeze myself to him a bit more.
We stay like that, one waiting for the other to fall asleep, fully aware that neither of us will.
We stay like that, our demons keeping us awake.
We stay like that until exhaustion drags us into a, hopefully, dreamless sleep.
“Are you sure you’re gonna be alright? I could come with you, Y/N”
I turn around to look at Chuck, standing in front of the open door to the balcony, a blanket wrapped around him, in his hand the cup of coffee I made earlier, forgotten and cold. He slowly turns his head, his eyes don’t focus on me. They are still far away, somewhere in Europe.
“It’s fine Chuck. It’s your day off, take it easy man”
I smile tightly. We both know we need time after an episode. So, it is usually me, going for a drive and Chuck moping around the apartment and going for a walk and to the war cemetery. Either way, we both always come back to the house drunk, with take out and no questions asked.
I jingle my copy of the apartment’s keys and gently close the door behind me.
What awaits me is a long, long drive to the place I haven’t come back for many years.
My parent’s house.
My home, where I lived my childhood and left it there the moment I signed my name under the property claim.
Being an only child, my parents left it to me in their will but I never lived there after they had died.
I have to push hard for the door to open, the hinges protesting. In front of me the, now, old dusty,dark entrance hall. The round table in the middle, where there were always used to be fresh flowers, is now covered with what once was a white blanket. On the right I can see a glimpse of the parlor that used to be the most sunny room in the house, now the only light is the one that filters through the wooden panels that barricade the windows. A deterrent for thieves. Useless, since there is nothing here to steal anymore. Just some old dusty furniture.
The floor creaks under my shoes as I make my way through the room, caressing the empty corner bar, and into the dining room.
The room is darker and I trip over the folded corner of the unswept, faded rug. I brace myself for a painful fall but my flailing hands grip the back of the dining padded chair. My eyes get used to the dark and I see the rest of the table. A white blanket is covering this surface too and, like a bad joke, it almost looks like a tablecloth, waiting for the rest of the tableware.
The chair’s feet scrape the rug, the signs that they leave on it to demonstrate they haven’t been moved in a very long time. I sit down, a puff of dust tickling my nose and I press the back of a gloved finger under it, suppressing a sneeze.
This had been my seat that night.
The room takes life.
A golden glow lights it up, the old pendulum clock starts swaying again, the ticking of the seconds filling the silence. I can smell the sweet and fresh oranges and citrus fruits that decorate the centerpiece. A shine catches my eyes and I look down at my hands ,now holding silver cutlery. In front of me, the pale ghost of my mother with her pearls and perfect hair.
The deep voice of my father covering her critique about something. I can see his pomaded and groomed hair, the gray at his temples and the sheen of the wedding band as it clinks against the glass.
I know this memory and I know what I’ll find if I look on my left.
Well, that is a surprise for me too. I turn to look at him.
His mouth twitches with a nervous tick, his eyes quickly setting on my surprised face before going back to my father.
“Yeah, I know my way around engines and machines, I hope to make a living out of it.”
“A degree like that is expensive. Are you sure you can afford it?”
“In the years I managed to save money for t-”
“And are you sure you have…enough brain for that?”
I gasp in horror, all our eyes are on my mother as she is calmly sipping from her flute, almost oblivious to her own rudeness. Dean’s jaw is painfully set and I can see the stiffness of his shoulders. I’m trembling, my eyes sting and I open my mouth ready to burn this whole house down but Dean’s firm hand on my knee stops me.
“Like everything in life, Ma’am, nothing comes easy.”
“That’s not an answer”
“I did not finish my studies” his voice is now somewhat low, poised, “but I assure you, ma’am…” almost like a sneer, “… I’m not stupid”.
Before she can reply, Fred enters the room with the dessert and the tension sizzles out as my father clears his voice, stirring the conversation and testing Dean’s knowledge of engines, focusing on a old model that Father kept well hidden in the garage. A piece of junk from his youth, but he had always dreamed of repairing it. I decide to trust Dean to keep the conversation going while I focus on my mother.
She had that sour face. The one she wears when things don’t go as she’d like and I can’t help but smile in victory. She catches my improved mood and straightens her posture. I raise an eyebrow, my chin high as silent words pass between us.
Dean and father’s conversation gets animated as he offers to take a look at the relic, my mother clicks her tongue in annoyance and for a brief moments I can almost taste her defeat.
“Dear…”, she grabs my father’s arm that’s flailing around and starts whispering something in his ear. I use the opportunity to tug at Dean’s sleeve, making him turn finally toward me. His face is glowing, lips are now relaxed and his eyes shine with excitement.
“I didn’t know how much you liked what you do” I say feeling guilty.
He bites his lip looking down, almost blushing in embarrassment.
“Well, this dinner happened before I got the chance to tell you about my plans. Sorry , I pulled the rug from under your feet like that and-”
“I think it’s great!”
His eyes raise to look at me, surprised. “You-”, he licked his lips, “- you would be okay with that? I mean, with me being an engineer?”
I look at him confused. Why would it matter if I was okay with that or - wait!
My face is on fire the moment I realize the implication of his question and right now I could see how nervous he is. A blushing patch creeping up his neck as his eyes try to read something in mine.
The scraping of the chairs being dragged prevent me from even attempting to form a coherent sentence.
“Your mother would like to take the rest of the conversation to the porch, since there is a fine breeze outside this evening”
I scramble to my feet to follow them. I stop just outside the door as I watch my parents setting up the chairs. Feeling Dean’s presence I breathe out and slowly let my body sway backwards until my back bumps on his chest. The back of his hand slowly brushes up my arm to my naked shoulder and I let out a breathy sigh, melting against him. His fingers press gently into my skin and I feel him press himself to me as he bends down. Warm and soft lips press on my neck. I let out a gasp and blush at his soft chuckle.
I turn around, “Don’t be inappropriate!!”, I grin at him, trying to sound offended.
His face is the epitome of innocence.
“I don’t know what you are talking about”, he says before lowering his head near my ear, his voice a whisper, just for me to hear.
“You were the one taking advantage of me, my lady”.
“If you two have quite finished being improper, care to join us?” Father’s already pouring some iced lemon liquor in tiny, chilled, crystal glasses while my mother takes a sit beside him, smiling.
The smiling gets me anxious.
We continue to talk about everything and nothing, just enough to slowly sip the strong, cold liquor. As the cool summer breeze rustles through the trees and the cicadas start singing, I can already see some fireflies glowing while dusk settles on the fields behind us.
I lost track of the discussion when from the corner of my eyes I see Fred walking up to us, his face barely concealing displeasure.
“Sorry Ma’am, the mailman just brought this in. Apparently…” his eyes shift to mine briefly. Suddenly, I have a bad feeling remembering her wicked smile. “…Apparently, this got lost this morning in the post office”. That’s a blatant lie. I recognize the tone he is using. It’s the same one he uses when he lies about my nightly sneak in.
“Oh, goodness me!! Must be important if they bothered to bring it here this evening” She thanks him and he throws me a sorrowful look before disappearing into the house.
“It’s for you dear”. As she passes it to father I can see that it’s an official government envelope.
The envelope opens way too easily and father throws a glance to mother over his reading glasses, who is just sipping her drink, looking pleased.
We are sitting on pins and needles waiting for him to finish reading, his expression growing from mild to severe disappointed and then to resignation.
“Da…what is it?”
He sighs and takes off his glasses, rubbing his eyes and he suddenly seems very tired as his gaze hovers over to Dean. Feeling his eyes on him he straightens his back.
“Um…well…” he starts, “I feel a bit awkward being the one to tell you this son. I’m sure your old man would prefer if-”
“Dad, what is it?”
“Well…” he looks at me worried. “You know your uncle works at the defense office?”
“It’s started, hasn’t it?” Dean’s somber voice is filling the silence and my father nods solemnly.
“What started?” I naively ask, out of patience.
Dean grabs my hand tight, and it almost hurts.
Chapter 8: 8. Inferno
- flashbacks are in italics
It’s already dark outside when I slip my key in the lock. I feel so tired.
No. Tired doesn’t even begin to describe it. This feeling of complete and utter draining both of the body but mostly of the soul. I can still feel that cold grip of sadness that washed over me the minute I had walked in there. All the memories. All the could haves that went through my head and scratched more wounds to my already broken soul.
The click of the lock releases the door and I slowly push it open. The creaking of the hinges reminding me again that I have to take care of that. I enter and the minute the door closes, I lean against it, close my eyes and try to take a deep breath. My purse hits the ground, my shoes are kicked in a dark corner and my gloves are thrown on the table near the door.
As my eyes slowly open I try to adjust to the lack of light in the room. What I do hear though is the static sound of the gramophone’s needle coming from Chuck’s room. That man, I swear. He’d forget his head if it weren’t attached to his shoulders. He must have left without taking the record off.
I drag my feet towards his room and push the door open. And I’m greeted with an image that shows me exactly what he has been doing all those hours I was out. The window is open, curtains floating inside the room by the cold, night breeze. Taking the shapes of ghosts that we both know will always linger in our hearts and minds. The needle is indeed scraping at the old record the way this day is scraping at my heart. A small lamp, barely sheds light in the room allows me to see Chuck slumped in his armchair, still wrapped in the same blanket I had left him this morning, his head tilted to the side as if he were sleeping.
I make my way to the gramophone and lift the arm. Placing it back to the armrest I sink the entire room in complete silence.
Next, the window. I rush to close it in a desperate attempt to lock out the chill of the night.
“Weeelll, if it isn’t my girl!”, I hear a slurred voice and turning my head I notice that Chuck isn’t sleeping. I move closer to him and sit on the floor, right next to his legs. The cup of cold, half drunk coffee that was in his hand this morning is replaced by an empty whiskey bottle. As I look carefully I see another bottle on the floor, that too almost empty.
Reaching my hand up, I caress his cheek, his beard scraping against my palm. He leans into my hand, his eyes squeeze shut and I see tears escaping from their corners. Placing his hand on mine, he removes it from his cheek and kisses my knuckles.
“Why are we like this, Y/N?” he manages to ask in a slow, quiet voice. “What happened to us? To our dreams? To our needs? To our lives? Look at you! A beautiful, well brought up young woman being stuck in a bar. Singing to desperate and desolate people trying to drown their pathetic existence in booze.”
Touching my wrist, feeling his watch on it, he lets out a small, bitter chuckle. “Waiting for something that will never happen. Holding on to a moment in the past. Searching for a pair of eyes that you will probably never see again!”
I know he’s hurting. I can feel it pouring out from every pore of his body. I know he doesn’t want to hurt me and I also know that he’s not wrong. I can’t be mad at him. But his words sting.
“And then, there’s me!!”
Another chuckle that makes his chest rise and fall.
“The once great and much promising piano player. With the much esteemed scholarship to the country’s best music school. Now, a washed out, scarred for life, cheap ass musician. Trying to entertain the people who stumble in the bar. Trying to feel better for myself by comparing their misery to mine. Trying and failing”
“Chuck, baby”, I say and I get up from my spot on the floor, trying to make him stand too. “Don’t say such things. You are not washed up. It’s just the booze talking right now. Yes, we’ve had it rough. Yes, we’ve suffered and hurt. But we have come through the other side with our heads held high. We wear our scars with pride, my friend. So, no more talking like that. Now, get yourself in bed before I have to throw a bucket of water on your head in order to sober you up”.
Incoherent words slurred out Chuck’s mouth as he leaned on me, the man was heavy but in that moment it felt like he weighed nothing. Shuffling toward the bed, he lets himself fall heavily on the mattress.
“Did you eat something? Anything? “
“I don’t know” I struggle to understand what his drunk words were saying.
“I’ll make some sandwiches alright?” I move away but his hand blocks me, gripping my wrist.
“Stay…for a bit, will ya?”
I sigh,smile a little and softly sit down, his hand sliding to grip mine as he lay exhaling against the headstand. His forehead is furrowed, deep lines adding years on that juvenile face, his usual bright blue eyes looking muddy and grey. I comb some curls out of the way and smooth down worry and stress.
Shivers creep down my spine. I know every battle Chuck fought in, in raw and vivid details. I didn’t need him to explain or give me anything else.
He chuckled, a sound that got warped unpleasantly by his own shivers and rattling teeth. It wasn’t that cold in the room, but what Chuck was feeling was an old kind of cold, one that had seeped deep within his bones and memories a long time ago. One that he was never able to melt and he probably never will .
I get up, ignoring his whimper, and grabbed another blanket, wrapping him in it. If I could just give him the illusion of being extra warm and safe by burying him under layers and layers of blankets , well that’s what I’ll do.
“Want me to get you some hot chocolate ?” I whisper and he nods softly. Before walking out the room I hear him shift a bit under the covers.
“Extra marshmallows” his tiny voice reaches me.
“All the marshmallows” I say just as softly.
Making my way to the kitchen, my eyes catch the purse I left on the floor beside the door. My mind goes to that old box I had found that afternoon in the attic of my old house, still sitting in the trunk of the car.
I can think about that later.
I should keep these journeys to the past in check.
“Hey kitten! What are you doing here on your free night? Chuck’s here?”
“Mr.Crowley…” I nod softly at the owner and partner of my friend. A Brit of Scotts roots, jumped out of nowhere with money and a taste for lost souls to save or own, Fergus MacLeod -never call him that- was still a mystery to me. He expects all the reverence and gives nothing but familiarity in return. Do your job well and give him all the respect he craves and he’ll be the best boss you could ever wish for. And maybe the feeling of having sold your soul to the devil will fade. Eventually.
Like a perfect gentleman, he opens the club’s door for me and helps me out my coat, draping it across his arm, offering the other one as he escorts me down the dark stairs. Again he lifts the heavy red curtains and follows me in the warm illuminated room.
“Chuck’s not feeling well tonight. I figured I’ll give him some space. So since I have nowhere else to be - thanks”, he offers me the bar stool and walks behind the counter, “- since I have nowhere else to be, I thought of dropping by for some extra cash. That is if there’s room for me, of course”
“Darling, if there’s no room, I’ll make it happen anyway. Hard days?” he said, his scheming eyes reading me like an open book, it seems.
He clicks his tongue and places two glasses in front of us, filling them with the ambery content of his own personal silver flask. I smack my lips, eagerly pouring the high quality scotch whiskey down my throat and feeling it pool heavy and hot like lava in my belly.
“Thanks. What’s the lineup tonight?”
“You know I would change it in a heartbeat for you, but we are fully booked tonight.”
“It’s alright boss, it’s a good distraction”
I swirl the liquid in the glass, the ice cubes clicking, “When should I come up?”
“Whenever you want. Just talk to the band, it’s still early for now.”
I can feel him studying me.
“Come on lass”, he says finishing his drink and scribbling something on the napkin. I raise my eyes, looking at him confused.
“Dinner, my treat. How does italian sounds?”
“I’m not really hungry…” I say, despite my stomach which can be heard protesting.
Crowley just stares, hand steady and unmoving, lifted midair, waiting for me. With a sigh I reach for it and jump off the stool. As he helps me with my coat again, we step into the early evening.
“You … you signed up for the army?”
We are walking down the stone path that leads to the gates, where his car is parked. My voice comes out high and unsteady.
“I did. Well not right away. I still had Sam to take care of , but….” he looks at me and there is a sort of concealed pride in his demeanor. “I did it not long ago, but it was before … before meeting you, actually.”
I stay silent, my steps slow and heavy.
“I did it for my country Y/N, it’s m-”
“Oh, say ‘it’s my duty’ and I’ll throw you one”, I snap.
We fall silent again.
“If I have to go to war I’d prefer to be fully and properly trained, not shipped out to the enemy after barely having learned how to hold a rifle.”
I hum, softly kicking a stray pebble, sending it bouncing ahead of us. “…So, now what?”
“Now … I just wait to be called to get poked by some doctors to see if I’m fit for duty”
“I don’t - … ”
I stop but he doesn’t notice nor hear me. I stare at his back. He has shed his jacket, now thrown on his shoulder and loosened his tie, unbuttoning a few buttons, the lapels of his white pressed shirt swaying a little with the summer breeze. I can’t hear the gravel crunching under his shoes nor the crickets that are loud in our silence. I can only hear my heart beating in my head, loud and erratic. I bit the inside of my cheek and stare at my feet. They feel like stone.
“ … Y/N?”
He’s turned to face me now, and I see his shiny new shoes close to mine, the scent of a more grown up man’s cologne not matching his young face.
“Y/N…” a whisper.
Stubbornly, I don’t lift my eyes.
A warm hand cups my face. I don’t want to but my head leans on it and I feel the first tear rolling down, hot and heavy. The sound of fabric brushing over fabric and I see the jacket on the dusty gravel as I get wrapped into a warm embrace … and I just … let go.
“And whatever red wine is the most expensive, the bottle from the back not the first one, thank you, love”. Crowley hands back the menù to the waitress, slipping a huge tip in her hand. Her eyebrows barely twitch and her smile suddenly looks actually real. We are indeed going to have the best service tonight.
“Aaaah… “ he exhales leaning in his chair, “… what a world, eh? Just wave some green papers and suddenly you are treated like the Pope.”
“It’s how it has always been”
“Your refreshing cynicism is what keeps me going ”
Whatever my mood is, Crowley always manages to steal a smile from me. I like him but, God, I don’t trust him at all.
“So what happened to Chucky boy?” he inquires as he is buttering his bread, looking uninterested.
“Last night’s storm was pretty strong. It …brought back things” I say as I snap a breadstick in half.
“Yes … of course it did”
I peek at him fast enough to see a distant look in his eyes, quickly replaced by understanding. I don’t know a thing of his role or what impact the war had on Crowley, or even if it touched him at all. Now that I think about it, none of us know a thing about his past. Just that he has an English accent and money to spend.
I’m tempted to ask but the waitress comes back with the wine. He tastes it and with a smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes ,but that hardly happens anyway, he gives her another generous tip, and I know he’s satisfied.
“Never fully tip at first. Wait until they actually do their job well and then give them the rest”
“Mr. Crowley, not to sound disrespectful, but it’s not like I can ever afford to tip people in places like this”
“Never say never, kitten.”, he says with a cryptic look on his face before getting distracted as our food gets placed in front of us. I’m suddenly very hungry. “Νow, eat lass. Tonight I want you radiant”.
And indeed radiant I had been.
Incredible what a full stomach and expensive alcohol can do to one’s mood. I swayed, danced on stage, smiled, flirted and laughed with the audience and the couples dancing.
“What did you take tonight and where can I get some?” even Benny couldn’t get under my skin tonight. I just giggled, happily tipsy and kissed his cheek when I finished, my draping lusciously over the bar counter number, the one that I hated the most because of the proximity to the lonely souls that couldn’t get a double table. But tonight I couldn’t get bothered. Tonight, life felt great for some reason.
I shouldn’t be here.
Son of a bitch! The fuck am I here again? Jesus, Winchester, really?.
“Hey man, are you going in or not? You are blocking the way”.
I apologies and step aside. The man with an arm draped over the shoulders of a blonde girl with big doe eyes, throws me a side glance as I tip my hat to them. Guess someone left their manners at home.
I stay on the sidelines of the crowd that seem to flood the place. The club didn’t look that famous the night I stumbled in here by chance. I look at the playbill for tonight’s schedule and I don’t recognize the swing band’s name.
“I heard that tonight that babe is gonna sing us some with the band”
My eyes follow the man who said that with too much enthusiasm and a leery expression.
“Y/N always makes the swing nights so worth the price of staying till closing time. Mr.Crowley always raises the prices when she’s here”. I hear a young man, barely legal, commenting to his friends.
“Yeah, well don’t get your hopes up, loverboy.” Another one comments overhearing the young group, “Bet down there, she’s as cold as her stare when you try to buy her a drink”
I feel the leather of my gloves squeak under my grip as I squeeze my fist.
“Riiiight, I bet you were a complete gentleman about it. Gave her the right compliments and all” one barks a laughter.
“Well, my hand surely complimented her ass, that’s for sure”
The whole group and a few people close enough to hear, erupted in a gross laughter as they squeezed to get inside.
I begin to regret even more coming here tonight, I could have just got drunk somewhere else. I make to leave when-
“Maggie!” a loud blonde woman bumps into me as I turn around. I steady her.
“ Oofta…oh I’m sorry, sir”
“No problem ma’am” I say bending down to retrieve her purse, “Here you go”.
“Thanks” she smiles so big that it almost blinds me. Her eyes, that scream trouble, look behind me.
“Donna, are you causing trouble again?”
“You betcha”, she steps away from me to greet her friend, linking their arms together. She addresses me again, “Thank you again sir, enjoy the show!”, her friend just nodding at me coldly.
I’m still close enough to hear them talking excited.
“So Y/N is finally gracing us with some swing?”
“So she has said”
“Looking forward to that”
“Me too, I love her, but I swear it’s nice to hear her singing something cheerful for once”
“Oh stuff it Maggie! Don’t be nasty”
Their voices get lost in the excited crowd.
I bite my tongue, curiosity creeping down my legs as I take the first steps inside.
The room is hot and full of people. I see all the tables are booked or already full. Most of the couples and crowd fighting to stand at the sides of the dancefloor, waiting eagerly as the band starts to get their instruments ready. I look at the bar counter. That too is full, half with giggling girls trying to get some of the other half, of single men, to buy them a drink. The bartender is a stoic man with kind eyes, masterfully handling all that crowd by himself, juggling and sending waitresses up and down the tables. I stand aside, feeling in the way of everyone once again, my back pressing against the brick wall near the public telephone hiding in the shadows.
From here I have a good view of the whole room, and being in a higher position, the black mirror stage is clearly visible.
At the roll of the drum, the band announces the start of their session and the first eager couples shuffle in the middle of the dance space. The music is pleasant , the band is good and I find myself tapping my foot in rhythm.
“Sir, would you like a drink?” a chirpy waitress asks me in a high voice, easily heard over the music.
“Yes … yes, thank you”
She blinks at me before smiling nervously, “Would you like a drink list?”
I realize that she is waiting for my order, hoping the dark spot would hide my slight blush I blurt out the first brand of Scotch Whiskey that I could remember. I’m not a fussy drinker anyway, as long as it burns.
My gaze follows her as she bends down to shout the order, the scruffy bartender’s eyes catch mine and I feel like he’s sizing me up. He nods slightly and I do the same.
Later when the girl comes back with my drink I see she’s struggling with a stool. I quickly grab it from her.
“Figured you’ll be more comfortable like this.”
She waits for me to sit down, “Here you go”, she hands me the glass.
“Thank you swe -, thank you”. She blushes slightly as I hand her the money.
“Keep the change”.
“Thank you sir, enjoy your night”
I almost snort before taking the first sip. Oh damn, that’s good! I roll the whiskey on my tongue, actually enjoying the smoothness and rich flavor.
I look up and I again cross eyes with the bartender, smiling satisfied. I guess my face says it all. I tip the glass in his direction and he chuckles before going back to his job.
This place is not that bad afterall. Warm room, decently illuminated, comfy seats, nice service, a damn good whiskey, mixed crowd, great band and-
The crowd erupts in cheers and whistles and a punch in the stomach catches me by surprise as my eyes get drawn to the centre of the stage.
She waits for the crowd to fall silent and with an imperceptible hand gesture, the bright lights in her face lower to a soft glow.
I can see her clearly now .
Her lips are full and a deeper red than that night, her eyes seem more defined and bigger, the artificial blush that covers her cheeks is a completely different shade than her real one. Somewhere deep down, my naive self still hopes to be the only one to have seen that.
Her hair is curled and styled rigidly, they almost don’t move with her head.
“Good evening ladies and gents. A big applause for the -”
It’s the first time I hear her voice again. Even if it’s her stage one. Overconfident, husky, her accent different, modern. Even her lilt is different. She looks and sounds like someone else. I don’t know this woman.
This was a mistake.
I throw down the whole drink, set on leaving , but the first singing words out of that stranger steal my breath away and wrap around my heart for the second time.
When she sings, that stage mask falls. She sounds like a summer breeze, toffee apples, laughs and kisses on dusty cliffs and sunsets.
Everything is too much.
I stumble back , my hand blindly searching for the stool, my suit jacket scrapes unpleasantly on the raw wall behind me.
I manage to sit down without embarrassing myself too much. Everybody’s eyes are busy elsewhere. My palms are clammy and cold, there’s a lump in my throat that just won’t go down, no matter how many times I swallow.
“Huh?” I barely register the stranger who is handing me his packs of cigarettes.
“Sorry … you looked like you needed one”, the stranger starts to slowly retreat his hand. I stop him, eyes still fixed on her.
“Ah … yes thank you”, I said grabbing the one that is sticking out. Patting the sides of my coat I remember I don’t have my lighter with me. The metallic clicks near me tell me I don’t need mine after all.
I turn my head toward the flame, my eyes still trapped by her.
“She’s good, right?”
This is the last thing I want to talk about right now.
“Yes”, I exhale the smoke, slowly. “Yes, she is”
The stranger is playing with his lighter, like it’s his nervous tick. He keeps flicking the cap open and snapping it close. My eyes are drawn to its silver shine, and the screaming eagle badge engraved on it.
The stranger’s head turns sharply at me, “…with destiny” he says, almost whispering. “Where you…?”
“Nah … 90th Infantry”
He chuckles, “Tough hombres. You guys, were indeed tough sons of bitches”.
“I could say the same”
A burst of applause erupts in the room, diverting our attention to the stage again. She has announced a break with promises of returning with a surprise. Her descent from the stage is accompanied by whistles and cheers as the music covers them up.
“Well, that’s my cue”
The stranger pats my shoulder, cigarette butt pinched between his teeth. “Don’t run away man, I’ll catch up with you later”
He moves quickly and nervously through the crowd before turning back to me again. “Name’s Chuck by the way. Chuck Shurley”
He waved, voice strained over the noise. I nod at him chuckling, only for my smile to die on my throat as I catch him walk up to Y/N, pick her up and swirl her around, as she laughs delighted.
Now I remember who that is.
Well, I guess that’s my cue to get the fuck out this place.
That has been a big mistake indeed, Winchester.
A big, fucking mistake.
Chapter 9: 9. Iced tea
A/N: this chapter ties to the one shot that started it all
The air in the house is tense and thick .
I don’t talk to my mother.
My dad’s answers to her are short and clipped. She leaves for bridge with her friends and he stays at home reading and chain smoking.
I don’t talk to either of them.
It’s been a week and still no letter. No one in this town’s got them yet.
Maybe they forgot.
Maybe our town, being that small is not that important.
Maybe the war is almost over and they don’t need more young men.
I’m just kidding myself, I know, but it’s enough for now .
Walking past the lounge room, I lock eyes with father. We don’t say a thing and I turn toward the door and get out of that golden, silent prison.
Birds are chirping, cicadas buzzing and I shield my face from the warmth of the late June’s sun. It’s a rather cold morning, being the middle of summer and all. Maybe yesterday’s rain refreshed the air a bit. I’m surrounded by the smell of grass and hay and something is tickling my nose. I scrunch it as I smack it away, a throaty laugh caught in my ears, and my heart is dancing.
“You look like a bunny”
Behind closed eyes I see a shadow obscuring the sunlight. I open an eye, only to groan when the head moves and the sun assaults my eyesight again. Blindly, grabbing the leather jacket, warmed up by the sun, I tug at it to shelter me from the sun rays. Feeling it was safe, to open my eyes, I find myself reflected into the brightest set of green eyes, over sun kissed freckles.
“Better” I say and stretch my arms, caressing the grass to my sides, where the blanket stops.
“Oh…you are more than welcome, my Lady” he grins as my mouth moves like I ate something sour,
“Don’t call me that..“
“Forgive me, my Lady”
“Oh, fuck off”, I giggle as his hand cradles his fake-shocked face.
“That is so not the way a Lady should talk …” he says, bending down to kiss the top of my nose and quickly rises up again. I grab the lapels of his jacket and bring him down again, our lips inches apart.
“You are a hood”, I whisper teasing.
“You love it, Doll”, he says before kissing me.
We lay in the field where we had a lazy breakfast picnic, his lips still taste like the cherry pie I baked following the manual’s recipe. He said he loved it, and he probably did, but I know it wasn’t fully cooked. I was so eager for it to be ready that I took it out of the oven too soon.
When will I be able to cook him another one?
He feels the sudden change in my body because he props up on his elbow, looking down at me, smiling.
“It’s not forever, sweetheart”
Feeling a lump in my throat, eyes hot, I move my head to the side, away from his gaze.
“I know … doesn’t make it any easier”, I whisper bitterly. He sighs and moves my head to look at him .
“Don’t worry. They’ve been fighting for years. It won’t be long. I’m sure I’ll be home without even firing a shot”
“You don’t know that! You can’t know that! You - damn it!! I hate this”
He laughed again. “I love it when you are with me and all that class just … disappears.” I pout at his attempt to change the subject. My face relaxes and I smile back.
“That’s because you, Mr. Winchester…”, I tug him down on me again, “… are a terrible influence”
His pleased smirk grazes my lips before bending his head down to kiss under my ear. I gasp and slap his arm weakly.
“Uh uh, terrible, you say?”, he hums, grazing my neck with his lips.
“ Dreadful”, I breathe out, stretching, my fingers covered in white lace and pressing them into the leather cladding his arm. I love the feel of the warm leather softened by the sun and time.
“What would your parents say?”
With two fingers he moves the fabric of my sundress that covers my clavicle.
“…that….that it is t-time for me… for me to be sent to a nunnery.” He was nibbling at my tender skin and his low chuckle didn’t help. “Or… they’ll set me up with some rich Joe Doe to sweep me off my feet and make an honorable, boring housewife out of me.”
My turn to smirk when he stills a moment, before feeling his smile on my skin as he slowly leaves a hot trail of kisses until he reaches my mouth again. But before I could kiss him back, he puts a finger on my lips.
“In that case, the poor fella is cruisin’ for a bruisin’”
I roll my eyes, but deep inside me I know he would be capable of that. “I’d prefer the nunnery,” I say, nibbling at the finger, earning a hiss from him.
“You’d make an awful nun”, he chuckles breathlessly.
“I’m already on the right path to become one anyway” I say, the tip of my tongue swiftly licking the offended finger. He snatches his hand away, groaning, leaning his forehead on mine, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Y/N… I told you … I want to do things right”
“Yeah, yeah…okay, as you wish, Mr.Righteous”
“I need to save enough and finish school so I’ll have something to offer you when I ask your pop’s permission. And you have to finish school, too. War is just another hiccup.” He’s looking at me now “But… if you feel that you can’t wait …”
I grab his face between my hands, “Dean Winchester, I’ll stop waiting for you when your love for pies dies”
His bright smile blinds me.
Grabbing my wrist, he guides my hand to his heart, beating fast under the white t-shirt. Looking at me intensely, his face grow serious.
“It’s just another bump in the road, Y/N. I’ll come back to you”. He’s kissing my hand now, like he’s making a vow and looks up at me, “I’ll always come back to you. I promise.”
I bring him down to me again, his head resting on my chest.
“…can you..?” he asks, shyly.
I smile through the tears he can’t see, birds and cicadas as my orchestra, our beating hearts the audience, and I start singing …
They may take you from me
I’ll miss your fond caress
But though they take you from me
I’ll still possess
The way your smile just beams
Rebellious tufts of his hair tickle my nose, and he starts humming with me.
The way you sing off key.
He pinches my side and I swat his hand away.
The way you haunt my dreams
The way you hold your knife
The way we danced until three
He slowly crawls up until he looks into my eyes.
The way you changed my life
His lips graze mine, I can feel the vibrations of his humming against my chest, and I’m breathless again.
No, no they can’t take-
He doesn’t let me finish as he kisses me deeply.
“Ew guys… gross” a bunch of loose strands of grass rains over us.
“Go away, Sammy!”
Dean, still kissing me , waves his arm around blindly trying to shove his brother away. I’m honestly just laughing in his mouth but that doesn’t seem to stop him. I hear a grunt and Sam’s gone.
“Now… where were we?”.
Before he could resume stealing my breath away for the millionth time, a bucketful of cold water drops over us.
This time is the cold that makes me gasp and cough the water that I had breathed in.
“Sam, you little shit!! Come back here!” Dean’s already on his feet chasing his brother down by river side, his wet leather jacket thrown beside me. I gather my lose hair between my hands and squeeze the excess water out of it as I watch him tackling Sam, hauling him on his shoulders and jumping in the water.
I shed my sundress, laying it on the warm grass to dry up, in my bathing suit I walk to the river bank, grabbing the hanging cord. They haven’t seen me yet as I take a big run-up and swing above their heads screaming delighted when I let go, splashing them both . I’m being grabbed by my waist as I come up for air. Rubbing my eyes from the water droplets, I’m met with the same glorious green as always.
His sun kissed freckles, eyelashes wet and spiky hair, bright breathless smile, droplets of water running down his temples and neck and under his soaking, wet white t-shirt, now glued to his chest, and transparent.
My eyes shoot up quickly and I blush when I see his eyes roaming over my mostly naked self.
“I didn -”, he licks his lips, his gaze shamelessly not meeting mine, “I didn’t know you were wearing a bathing suit”
“Well you said, ‘ wanna come with me and Sam to the river?’, I just assumed you- um…why? Is … is this too much? I - I mean… maybe I shouldn’t b - I - I’m gonna change”. I make to move out the water but he stops me.
“Oh, no, no, you are not going anywhere… that is -”, he clears his throat, “This is perfect, you are per -”
Another splash of water covers us both. “You guys are so gross. There’s a minor here!”
Dean winks at me and disappears underwater.
Next thing I see is a squealing Sam flying in the air, holding his nose before landing in the water with a big splash. I silently swim behind Dean and dive underwater, using my arms to sweep his legs from under him.
Dean emerges from the water, shakes his head like a dog, laughing. It’s contagious and I laugh too as Sam high fives me.
“Y/N, my hero! ”
The day is slowly dozing off, the sun is less warm, its rays less direct, light less harsh, the mosquitoes starting to get annoying. I stretch languidly before falling boneless on the blanket again, arm thrown over my eyes.
“We should head back”, I groan, swatting my shoulder with my hand when the irritating buzz of an insect sounds too close for my liking. His arms wrap tightly around my waist, squeezing a little more, his nose skims along my cheek.
“I know”. I feel the words on my skin. “I should wake Sammy up. I swear, the kid can fall asleep everywhere ”.
With a groan I turn around and bury my face in the crook of his neck, breathing him in. He smells the way the sun and summer should always smell. His skin is warm, but some goosebumps still form as my hand mindlessness caresses his back. “You still good with dinner at my place?”
I hum nodding, as I plant a soft kiss under his ear and he gasps softly, his fingers twitching on my naked thighs. Maybe I’m just too drunk on sun, maybe it is the lazy day, maybe I’m still between dream and reality , but I let my hand travel down his back to his side. He goes stiff but doesn’t stop me as my fingers play with the hem of his rumpled t-shirt. I hesitate a moment, but the desire to feel his skin under my fingertips is strong, and I’m too hungry for it.
Dean’s breath falters as my hand sneaks under the fabric, skimming across his side, feeling the muscles twitch under my touch as I explore his back. I expect to having been stopped by now, but instead his hand slides under my thigh, bringing it over his hip. It’s my turn to gasp as he places the other hand on the small of my back and draws me closer and our middles meet. The hand that drew me in is now cradling the back of my head, guiding it up to meet his lips.
The kiss is hungry and hurried, no time to ask permission or coax my lips apart gently. He kisses me with open lips and takes possession of my mouth. I try to keep up but then the hand on my thigh is distracting me. His grip strong, his touch sure as he makes his way up my leg. He squeezes and grazes and scratches and I can feel him panting in my mouth as we both struggle to keep up with each other. My hand reaches his shoulder when his reaches my backside and I grip him as he pulls our hips together.
Our moans mix between trembling lips.
Like we were programmed to do that , our hips starts to rock together and I think I might just die right there, in his arms by how good that feels.
My hand slips out from under his t-shirt and circles his neck, and with a sigh, I squeeze myself to him even more. His arms circle my waist, and then ,without warning, he rolls on his back, and suddenly I’m straddling him. His hands are everywhere before settling on my waist, guiding our inexperienced movements. We are not even kissing anymore , just breathing each other in, sharing the same space in our own universe where we are alone, both trembling, both not sure when to stop, both not sure if to stop.
Then a snort freezes us both.
Our heads slowly turn to Sam, splayed on the grass not that far from us. As it turns out his snort is in fact a snore.
We look at each other and before I could say anything I get thrown off him and onto the blanket. I get up in time to see Dean running toward the stream and tossing himself into it.
The car ride is silent and awkward. Sam insisted on riding shotgun and I gladly gave it up so I could hide in the backseat, avoiding Dean’s eyes as I look at nothing outside the window. I start to doze off, lulled by his driving and the last warm sun rays that are slowly dying on the horizon.
Sam is of a different idea. Having had a good nap earlier, he’s now bursting with energy. Fiddling with the radio, never staying on one station for longer than a full song before changing it, riding the wind waves with his arm outside the window, until reaching out too far and Dean had to grab his shirt, pulling him down on the seat again.
“Dude, I don’t want to explain Dad why his idiot son is missing an arm. Sit your ass down.”
“But I’m bored!” Sam’s whining pulls a smirk at my lips and I relax in my seat again, cheek pressed against the window.
“And stop changing the stations”, Dean said swatting his brother’s hand away from the controllers.
“Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole”
I let out a soft laugh and cross eyes with Dean in the rear view mirror. They’re sparkling.
“I bet you’d let Y/N fiddle with the controllers as much as she wants”, Sam mumbles offended, crossing his arms.
We see each other’s reflection painting red and I quickly turn my attention outside, while the car sways a little.
“Shut it, bitch”
“Keep your eyes on the road or you’d have to explain way worse to Dad, jerk”
As the green and wild scenery starts to mix with roads and sparse buildings again, the car is slowing down and I recognize the dusty road leading to the Winchester & Singer’s shop. But instead of turning, Dean drives past it. Confused, I keep my eyes on the shop as it becomes smaller and smaller behind us.
“You thought we lived in the repair shop or something?”
I quickly look at them embarrassed, thinking they got offended but I’m met with amused eyes and grins. I roll my eyes and lightly smack both their heads.
After a couple of miles the car slows down again and passes through an open rusty gate. I see a few broken down cars with missing parts or rusting away, waiting to get restored to their natural beauty.
The car stops in a cloud of dust under an old canopy. There are some holes in it and the last remaining rays of light are bleeding through them. Before I realize it, the door opens and a hand waits for me.
“Thank you, Sam”, his grin wide and a slight blush crawls on his cheeks. I hop down, patting my shirt that still has some wet grass on it.
“Wow, Sammy!! Not even a week and you are already making moves on my girl” Dean locks his brother’s head under his arm and ruffles his hair. Sam hits his brother with his elbow and Dean lets him run to the front door, faking being hurt. We watch as he throws open the ratty, mesh door and slips inside, leaving us and our awkwardness behind, walking side by side towards the stairs that lead on the deep, gray, wooden porch. Clearing his throat , Dean offers me his hand, while the other combs through his hair. His clothes are still damp and smell like grass, it brings back what happened. I blush furiously and I know I’m afraid to touch him. Not that I’m afraid of him, never that. But I’m scared of remembering again how hot and smooth his skin felt under my touch.
“Well, are you gonna stand there looking at each other like two love sick doves until tomorrow?”
The gruff annoyed unknown voice startles us.
At the top of the stairs, leaning against the ruined white column with his arms crossed and an amused grin on his face, there was-
“Bobby!” I don’t miss the relieved breath that Dean lets out before taking the stairs quickly and embraces the burly man. I can almost feel the energetic pats they give each other on their backs.
“Son of a bitch!! When did you came back? I thought the shipping of those new parts was late”
“It was but I know a guy who knows a guy and I made it work, anyway.”
“Of course you did”
“I came home late last night but you boys were already fast asleep like little angels and this morning I had my shift at the shop.”
“So Dad’s on now? Will he be back for dinner?”
“I think so”
Bobby cocks an eyebrow, a slow smirk barely hidden by the wild beard, “I can go and help him if you want the house free, ya know…”
Dean’s back goes rigid and I can see the red on the tips of his ears. “N - no, I…um”.
I stand there, awkwardly, trying to look like I am not hearing any of that, hands wringing, smoothing down my skirt, tugging behind my ears some hair that had escaped my ponytail during the car ride.
“Well boy, would you care to introduce me or are we gonna stand here and stare at each other all evening? You make me look like I didn’t teach you manners” The tone is harsh but there is a certain kind of fatherly warmth as he turns and shoves Dean lightly towards me.
“N - no sir. Yessir” Dean scrambles down the stairs again and grabs my hand. I can feel his being a bit sweaty as he is leading me to the door.
“Uncle Bobby, this is Y/N. Y/N, uncle Bobby”
I halt myself from doing a little curtsy and making a fool out of myself yet again. I raise my hand towards him, “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Singer” .
His eyes seem to scan me from head to toe with severity, but not long enough to make me uncomfortable. As the stare lands on my outstretched hand, his eyes soften, a warm, little smile appearing on his lips and he uncrosses his arms, rubbing his hand on his shirt before squeezing mine. I feel the similarity with Dean’s, big, warm, hardened by work hands. So different from my father’s soft, ink stained ones.
“Nice to finally meet the reason of that boy’s distraction.”
Bobby leads me inside, “… almost dropped a car on my head that one”.
Being surrounded by cars, the house looks smaller than it is and the real big difference from mine is that this house looks lived in.
Sure, it lacks a feminine touch, but it still feels warm and cozy. They had arrived in town just at the beginning of the year and this house already felt like a home. From the couch, where Bobby had vaguely gestured me to sit ,I could see a big, spacey kitchen. It looks like the brightest room in the house, since the living room had dark wood paneling and deep red walls. Still, even being a bit darker than the rest, behind the soft couch there are big, round windows, and the dying sun coming through, draws long shadows on the wooden floor. Dean had disappeared up the stairs to change out ‘these swampy clothes’.
There are piles and piles of books and documents all around the room and my eyes fall on the big old heavy desk on the right. Scattered all around there are also lots … lots of empty, full and half-full different bottles.
Before the sight could arise more questions, Sam enters the room, clothes changed and hair damp from a quick shower, carrying a stack of books and papers, dumping them heavily on the desk.
“Aw man, it’s summer why are you doing homework?”
Dean walks down the stairs and into the kitchen, barefoot and with a different shirt. He looks relaxed as he returns with three opened bottles of soda.
He hands me one and I stand up as he moves closer to his brother.
“Dean, there’s still time until dinner. Bobby is just now getting the fire started”
Dean licked his lips. “Are we having Bobby’s steaks? Must be Christmas”, he finishes, grinning at me.
“What homework do you have? Maybe I can help” I say, hiding my blush as I bend over the desk, peeking at Sam’s open textbook.
I grimaced and slowly backed away. “Um… better not”
“Really?” A slow amused smile blossoms on Dean’s face, his eyes sparkling mischievously as I slump back on the couch.
“… it’s just math, Y/N”
“…Eew”, I say before hiding my face behind the bottle, taking a too big of a sip, the bubbles burning in my nose. “I’m…really bad at it”, I stifle a cough, embarrassed.
“Dean’s real good at it. He helps me with my homework”
I watch as Dean ruffles Sam’s hair before coming to sit beside me, the couch sinking with his weight, our thighs touching, and I can feel the warmth of his leg against mine. I clear my throat and open the first book I find on the little table to my left.
Occasionally, Sam calls Dean to check on his exercises. Sometimes Dean excuses himself and checks on Bobby and he always returns smelling like embers and spices, and my mouth waters. After some time, Sam closes his textbooks with a loud thud and groans, “I’m so hungry! Aren’t you all hungry?”
“Always”, Dean answers standing up again and stretching, “ I’m gonna tell Bobby to put on the meat. Sam, grab the things to set the table. It’s nice enough to eat outside”
“Do you mind if I help you?” I ask Sam, eager to try to be useful and not only a witness to their domestic routine. Dean throws me a small lopsided smile before disappearing in the back again.
“Hey Bobby, you can start on those steaks? Dad’s gonna be ho-”
“What are ya doin’ boy?”
I stumble on my steps eyeing Bobby’s relaxed back, swallowing the lump that had already started to form. I stop beside him and with a flick of his hand he points to the cooler.
“What do you mean?” I play it cool as I hand him the beer and open mine. He throws me an - ‘I ain’t stupid, don’t play these games with me’ - Bobby stare. Avoiding it, I rummage in the cooler, looking for the thickest piece of meat that’ll take the longest to cook. When I hand it to him, the stare is still there, unwavering and unnerving. With a sigh I slap the steak on the grill and take a big gulp of the beer, the foam bubbling out the bottle neck, wetting my fingers and the dry ground.
“I - I don’t know man…” I nervously comb my fingers through my hair and huff, taking another swing, this time welcoming the bitter taste.
“Of course you don’t know, ya idjit” I blush at his stern but warm tone. We stay silent as the meat sizzles and the smoke rising from the embers burns my eyes,
“She seems nice -”
“ - for a rich chick”
“No!! You listen to me boy. Your mother used to park you in my arms because I was the only one who could make you stop crying when ya teeth started to grow. Little did she know I was using whiskey. Thing is, I got dumped on this earth way before your ass and I pride myself with having seen a few things in life, and this-” he said gesturing between me and the house back, “ - never ends well. Usually for the poor bastard of the couple” he uses the tongs to point at my chest, “ meaning you.” He finishes flipping the steak.
Silently, I grab a few more to put on the grill, the flames rising as the melted fat drips down.
“Aren’t they always?”
I don’t know much about uncle Bobby, only that he’s not really my uncle. An old war pal of Dad’s, been here before I was even born. Apparently, they had served together but I had never asked about it as it was clear enough neither of them wanted to talk about it. Anyway, twenty-five years later, Bobby is still family, maybe even more than my own father is. I only know he’s always been there for Sammy and me.
I’m about to open my mouth again when the back door opens with its usual creak.
“Sam told me to bring this out here” I hide the beer behind my back and when she looks around for a place to put down the plates I lower it in the cooler, before going to help her.
“Here, give them to me”, I hastily grab them from her and notice the red marks on her arms. The plates are not that heavy, my eyes focus on her face and I see nervousness.
And she doesn’t know I know.
I place the plates on the table while she stares at me, her hands restless. Rubbing mine on my thighs, I walk up to her, circling her waist with my arm and placing a soft kiss on her furrowed forehead. She sighs, relaxing under my touch as her hand squeezes my arm. I send her back inside with a little shove.
Bobby looks at me when I turn around, “She’s different”, I repeat firmly. He sighs, shaking his head slightly and turns back.
“Fix the table won’t ya? These don’t need much longer ”.
“- and so I was like, ‘ shit boy!! I thought you wanted to show my old ass some’, while sittin’ on him.”
The whole table bursts in a loud laugh, except for Dean, “he was fretting like a bull trying to throw me off”
“Bobby!” Dean grumbles, embarrassed.
“A scrawny baby bull, barely hit puberty and he thought he could swing one at me”
“Thank you! Can we talk about something embarrassing Sammy did, now?”
Sam throws a bone rib in his brother’s direction who catches it and throws it back.
I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun during a meal, or the last time a meal hadn’t been a state affair. The table is loud but being in the middle of nowhere no one really mind the noise. The sun is already gone, there’s a light summer breeze , not enough to cool the summer evening, but the iced tea is doing its work. There are some lanterns scattered around the porch and we are bathed in a soft trembling light. I’m so distracted by their dynamics that I almost forget to start eating until a bowl full of salad is placed right in front of me.
“Take as much as you want, Y/N”
“Ah - thank you Sam” Following his suggestion I pack my plate with it and hand the bowl over to Dean, sitting in front of me.
He looks at it for a hot minute and then puts some in his own plate.
Sam snorts and Bobby raises his eyebrows surprised as a red-eared Dean stabs his steak, glaring at the. “Shut up, the both of ya”.
As Bobby raises his hands grinning, the sound of a door slamming in the background, makes the table suddenly turn very quiet.
I hear heavy steps stomping inside the house and, as they come closer and closer, I can see both Dean and Sam straightening their backs, sitting more composed and rigid. The door swings open violently, “Bobby what the fu-”
The man stops as soon as he spots me, his grave expression growing from confused to curious. Dean is already on his feet and I do the same.
“Uuhhm…and you are?”
His voice is gritty and abrupt, sounding almost rude, but I was the stranger in his own home.
“Hey, Dad” Dean’s voice is high and carries no cockiness or confidence. Suddenly, he sounds younger, “this…” he walks up to me and grabs my hand dragging me close to his father, his hand is a bit damp, “… this is Y/N. I talked to you about her ….remember?”, the little final question asked in a breathy uncertain voice.
John Winchester is a big sturdy man. I can tell by his exposed forearms, where his shirt is rolled up. Same unkempt beard as Bobby, a bit shorter and darker, matching the bits of hair I can see under the flat cap dragged low. Sam and Dean must have got their hair from their mother. John takes off his hat and drags his fingers between the wild short messy curls as he steps closer and the warm light of the lanterns hits his face. It’s a handsome face, a hard one too, but the Winchesters have definitely been blessed. His eyes are what startle me the most once I get to see them clearly. I can’t decide what shade they are, but I can definitely see how they are darkened by a gentle, deep sadness. The kind of sadness that only a great loss could have cause. The kind of sadness that just settles in to stay and the kind of sadness that makes or breaks a man.
The man’s gaze settles on me with a spark of interest. His eyes do the same thing Bobby’s did earlier but in some way it feels more intense, less gentle. I tense under them and Dean feels it.
“For God’s sake, John!! Shake the damn kid’s hand so I can eat my damn steak!” Bobby’s voice startles us both and I hadn’t even realized I had my hand hanging there midair. John raises his, the light falling on it. It’s dirty, dust and black oil is covering his fingers and part of the palm. Out of the corner of my eye I see Dean reaching for a towel. I roll my eyes at him and squeeze John’s hand firmly.
“Good evening Mr.Winchester. I’m Y/N and it’s very nice to meet you”
Chapter 10: 10. Lemonade
last time on Dean’s pov:
He moves quickly and nervously through the crowd before turning back to me again. “Name’s Chuck by the way. Chuck Shurley”. He waved, voice strained over the noise. I nod at him chuckling, only for my smile to die on my throat as I catch him walk up to Y/N, pick her up and swirl her around, as she laughs delighted.Now I remember who that is.Well, I guess that’s my cue to get the fuck out this place.That has been a big mistake indeed, Winchester.
A big, fucking mistake.
I turn to leave as quickly as possible, almost bumping into the waitress. She yelps, barely balancing her tray with her other hand. It seems like tonight the perception of my surroundings is fubar.
“P-pardon me” I say, stumbling on my words again. Damn it Winchester, get a grip!
She offers a nice warm smile, pushing a glass in my hand, “Dontcha worry about it, babe”
“I didn’t order this”
“That’s on the boss!”, she answers as the crowd and the shadows swallow her before I can ask.
Something’s scribbled in the corner of the napkin under the glass. I squint my eyes against the darkness, trying to read the scratchy handwriting.
‘Hey blister foot, at least it’s not battery acid’.
I drown a chuckle down with whiskey, giving up the hasty retreat. In the end what’s better than letting reality settle in?
To crush and disappoint any slither of hope that could have started to shine?
So, I force my eyes on the crowd, and it’s not difficult to find her. It never is. She shines of her own light. Like a beacon she calls for my attention, and she claims my soul again. But it’s alright, it’s been hers since the first time I saw her years ago.
She laughs loudly and giggles softly. Her nose still scrunches when she’s trying to hold in an ugly snicker. Dancing and jumping with a couple of girlfriends, the same ones I bumped into outside, before being whisked away again by the one I can now recognized as the boss. They exchange a couple of hushed words, a private moment in between the chaos, her lips careful and soft, his strained and embarrassed. He cups her cheek , then tousles her hair and laughs as he’s being shoved away. An annoyed frown forms on her face for a fraction of a second as she tries to comb the mess in place.
Whiskey burns bitter down my throat and pools hot in my belly.
I watch her hurry onto the stage. Half of the room jumps at attention seeing her up there. She smiles a lopsided grin as she grabs the microphone, turns around but thinks better of it and facing the crowd again, bends down to pick up the cord, and walks off stage.
The attention to her fades as the band picks up its rhythm as more people join the quick filling ballroom and the crowd swallows her again.
After that little awkward introduction, the rest of the dinner went smoothly, good food, great company made the atmosphere quickly more relaxing. Still, the presence of John Winchester added some heaviness to Sam and Dean’s attitude . The more John drank, the more Dean’s shoulders tensed, his eyes focused and his speech got slower and more calculated. It was clear that John Winchester made Dean nervous.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that every question John had for his sons was quickly answered like they had been rehearsed, almost all of them ending with a ‘sir’ .
“Tell me, Miss Y/SN-” John’s voice booms over some dispute between Bobby and Dean, whose head turns sharply in his father direction.
“Please call me Y/N, Mr.Winchester” I quickly add, as most of the table fell silent again.
“...Y/N,” he starts again, a small smile transforming what I thought was a constant frown. He nervously scratches one eyebrow, “So..what are you?”
“Dad...” Dean starts, almost whispering.
“What...am I?” I ask carefully sipping my lemonade to buy some time.
“Yeah...I mean” he clears his voice, shifting in his seat, “... are you like… Dean’s sweetheart or somethin’ ?”
Two set of snorts break the embarrassing silence. “Or somethin’”, Sam mouths under his breath, elbowing Bobby. I stifle a cough and make the mistake of crossing eyes with Dean and I know perfectly well that his face is the exact reflection of mine.
“Swe-sweetheart?”, clearing my croaking voice I take another sip.
John, sporting a slight blush but the same frown , waves his hands between me and Dean. “Are you two going steady or whatever y’all youngsters call it nowadays”
“Yeah Dad, um- we are”
Suddenly the grass stain on my dress is really interesting and also really troubling.
John makes some assenting noise in the back of his throat before adding, “That’s good”. He picks up the bread, ripping a piece of it, collecting some of the steak juices from his plate. “ I mean...” he continues, chewing, “... no back seat bingo for you two, I hope”
“Dad come on!” Dean groans, as Sam snorts into his glass, some of his drink coming out his nose, Bobby covering his grin behind a napkin.
“....back seat ...bingo?” I ask naively and Dean turns to me quickly, his ears burning.
John grins at his son’s panicked blushing face, and finally I could see a bit of spark in those eyes surrounded by smile lines. And they are lovely. His whole face changing, becoming more relaxed, “Yeah, you know...some good ‘ol neckin-”
“Hey Dad, you know she sings?”, Dean raises his voice over John’s and I couldn’t catch the end of the sentence. “Real good at it too! Gotta hear her”, he says sitting up, the metal chair scraping the wood tiles.
“No...” I whimper weakly.
“I’ll be a sec”
“Dean, wai-” but he is already gone.
The table falls into silence again, apart from Sam.
Sam is just having the time of his life.
Both my fingers and table are wet, the condense on the glass now completely gone as is the ice in my drink. I swirl it around bored and catch the time on my watch.
I should get back at the hotel. It’s late, and as a cue I begin to notice that some of the crowd has thinned down. Now it would be easier to spot her, but she’s nowhere to be seen yet.
The same waitress came by again, asking if I wanted another seat now that some of the tables started to go vacant. No way man, no way I’ll risk her seeing me. Shadows fit me better.
As I push myself from the wall and retrieve my coat, my eyes catch some of the same young men who I heard talking outside earlier.
“Maaan, how much do we have to wait ? “
“Patience you, it’s worth it, I promise”
“But it’s so late”
“She usually waits until there’s less people so more can see her, the coquette”
His friends start to smile sickeningly, “I bet she doesn’t wear stockings. I bet she paints them on.”
The others turn around interested. “How much ya betting?”
“Depends how close I can get. Come on, let’s go”.
They scramble toward the bar counter, which seems pretty crowded right now.
Oh well! Now, I can’t fucking leave, can I?
I shuffle closer, keeping a steady eye on those two, rolling my shoulder, testing it. Yes, a bit stiff but I can still use it.
Definitely. And those two seem pretty scrawny.
My internal calculations suddenly get interrupted by the fading of the lights. Part of the crowd, probably knows what is going on and starts to howl and whistle.
A rif of the pianoforte gets the audience more excited and, I must admit, I am pretty damn curious to see what is going to happen, when the light is no longer on the pianist and the room is still dark.
“Stars… shining bright above you”
A pause .
A sharp intake of breath.
“Dean...what is that?”
“Uh?” he grins sitting on the table, one leg curled under him, the other left dangling, “A guitar?”, fingers tuning the strings, “Told you I’m good at it”
Sam grabs one of the ripe peaches that Bobby has brought to the table, “Mediocre, I’d say”
“Shut up, bitch!”
Biting into it , making a mess of his shirt, he responds, “Jerk” with his mouth full.
“You good at singing?” John asks, a strange look on his face.
“um- yeah I think so. Well, I’m no Ella but, I guess I'm good enough for my parent’s country club”
“Country club uh?”
Well it seems that being rich is a problem with the men of this family.
Dean starts to play some chords , lightly plucking at the strings, foot gently tapping the wood, green eyes studying me as he chooses the pitch by memory.
Then he starts the melody and I scoff at him embarrassed. He keeps going on a loop waiting, eyebrow raised, daring, grinning cockily, infuriatingly.
“Stars shining bright above you”
I sing the first verse annoyed and more slowly, forcing him to stumble on the chords. Shaking his head, he gives me a little shove with his foot .
“Night breezes seem to whisper ‘I love you’ "
“Birds singing in the sycamore trees"
“Dream a little dream of me”
I hate that I’m already enjoying this, having just a small, intimate audience that doesn’t stare at me like I’m a prize or waiting for me to make mistakes so they can gossip about it at bridge.
This is nice. The air smells of summer, embers and rubber tires left under the sun all day. I haven’t noticed it before but there's a little, rickety wind chime that hangs crooked at the end of the porch and the light, summer breeze makes it sway, tiny plinking sounds can be heard between sung words and pinched notes. The light of the oil lamps trembles on the table and illuminates their faces. As I said, I’m no Ella Fitzgerald but they're staring at me like I’m giving the performance of the year and my voice wavers a bit under their gaze. So, I advert my eyes, focusing on that lovely wind bell. It’s made of little pieces of glass and shells, it looks handmade and old. Dean’s plays like he drives, soothingly, competently but also freely and just with that pinch of recklessness that I’ve learned to love and crave.
“ Say nighty-night and kiss me “
I hate this
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
I hate every single one of you.
“While I'm alone and blue as can be”
Ugh, everything you are thinking is showing on your faces. It’s mortifying, it makes me feel dirty, ashamed. This is my job and singing is something I always loved, but this? Looking down faking smiles, winking, swaying my hips, flirting like there is no tomorrow, I can’t help but think about how the day had started bad and eventually got better and also, I had been in the mood for some slow jazz, and for some extra money, so who am I kidding, right? .
“Dream a little dream of me”
Truth be told, all I craved was that sweet, fuzzy state of almost being drunk, laying on the pianoforte singing lazily as Chuck would play. I was really looking forward to finishing my day like that but no, Crowley had to shatter my plans.
‘Darling, it’s a full house and since they got word that you are singing too...we are more than packed’
I had looked at him like I just ate something sour.
‘Ouch! If only looks could kill, lass. But, hear me out. How about you get to keep all the tips?’
Now that was more like it.
‘Alright Mr.Crowley, but just one song, and I get to choose”
‘Whatever you want, just no heels, I just had the black, italian marble laid out...’
‘I ain’t got a dead wish’, I said and biting the inside of my cheek I add, ‘I want the hounds’
‘Only the best for you my dear, deal?’
‘Yeah, yeah, deal, gimme that’. I snatch his drink and gulp it down in one move. ‘Slaintè’, he responds, ,winking as I make my way to the stage to retrieve the microphone.
I shudder and squint a little, the white light hurting my eyes, as I turn around languidly and walk slowly to the other end of the counter. Benny follows me discreetly, hidden in the shadows, ready to catch me if I misstep, and that has happened once, hence, no heels.
“Stars fading but I linger on dear”
“Still craving your kiss”
Great, now I’ve got lipstick on my white gloves, just- I just had to.
Of course, I just had to blow the kiss, it always gets me more tips. Probably some loser thinks that was for him or whatever, I still get bouquets sent in from time to time, needless to say they end in the bin right away, apart from some cards, some of those are nice enough.
“I'm longing to linger till dawn dear”
I plant my feet on the cold black, sleek marble, eyeing quickly behind me. Benny is already there. My fingers inch the dress up a bit, so the slit moves in the right place and I already feel sick with myself.
“Just saying this”
I stretch the words, slowing down, almost moaning them, thigh muscles straining and trembling as I slowly crouch down , legs turned to the side, slit of the dress exposing almost all my leg to the crowd and I inwardly thank God I wore stockings today. The crowd makes a disgustingly excited noise when I spin around, sitting on the edge of the counter, legs dangling in time with the music. The dress flaps, sometimes gets caught between them, and like a joke even the strap of my dress comes loose and slides down a little.
That’s what men like anyway.
Act like their doll, be their whore.
“Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you”
“Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind- you”
Oh the little- I almost went off rhythm there. I quickly found out that Dean likes to play with how difficult for me it is to sing lower notes.
I see John stretching across the table and swat one on the back of his eldest son’s head for that, and I hide a chuckle into the next verse.
“But in your dreams whatever they be”
“Dream a little dream of me”
I rock on my feet, hands lacing behind my back letting the attention be drawn to Dean and the ‘big’ guitar solo. He smirks at me, the pink tip of his tongue peeking out between his teeth,and I can’t look away as he licks his lips, my eyes following the move. His lips pucker up and he starts whistling, eyes smiling as he looks down to his fingers. He has the same smile lines as his father.
“...S-stars fading but I linger on dear”
I almost lose my cue there. Cheeks on fire, I roll and avert my eyes.
“Still craving your kiss”
My eyes are involuntarily drawn to him again and I see him looking at my mouth, his own cheeks darkened with blotches of red that creep down his neck too and under his t-shirt.
“I'm longing to linger till dawn dear”
Our eyes meet
“Just saying this”
I sing like I mean every word, like I’m speaking to each one of them, my eyes skim across nameless and forgettable faces not really seeing any.
“Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you”
“Sweet dreams that leave all worries far behind you”
My cheeks hurt, keeping up all this fake smiling for so long. But a gal’s gotta earn her tips.
“But in your dreams whatever they be”
“Dream a little dream of me”
The last notes float in the air lost between dim lights and smoke as my chest heaves slightly. My fingers relax against the metal of the microphone I hadn't realized I held too tight and I exhale. That, too, gets caught and amplified by the device.
Finally, they get the jest of it and the crowd erupts in whistles and claps and whatever else they want to throw in just because they think I can’t hear it and that makes them bold and rude.
Another thing that always happens is that the crowd suddenly closes in on me after I finish singing. They all keep a safe distance when I sing but for whatever reason , when I stop, they take it like permission to approach freely.
I’m required to stay put, chat a bit or thank the ones that want to congratulate me for doing my damn job, like I did them a favour, selling my image. I always wait as long as I can, hoping that singing that late will be a deterrent for too many people but it seems that I am not that lucky this time.
I get surrounded pretty soon and it’s overwhelming. At least I’m still sitting on the counter so I have the higher ground.
Hands get grabbed and shaken, mine get kissed, some creep slides their hand up my arm and I turn slightly to get them off.
When I sense my dress being tugged, I decide enough is enough for tonight. Planning on getting to the other side of the counter, I press my legs tight together and spin to the side, trying not to flash my underwear to that wolves’ den.
A tight grip stops my ankle and my leg gets tugged away. My hands are quick to keep the slit of my dress from exposing more than it’s lawful but I feel my body sliding off the counter.
I’m already resigned to keep my dignity and risk a nasty bruise, when I’m suddenly free and Benny’s hands come up from behind me to keep me from falling.
“You okay there doll?”
“Y-yeah”, my heart is pounding in my head from the scare and the adrenaline rush, “... yeah I’m fine, thank you Benny”
He helps me as I turn around quickly and climb over the counter, sliding down his domain.
“The fuck happened?”, I hiss as I pour myself one.
“Some poor sob thought he could get a piece of you with the Hounds in place. He will not be having fun any time soon”
“Good” I say, putting down the empty glass, “Got a smoke?”
“Those will kill ya”, he half admonishes as he's searching his breast pocket.
I smirk, winking “ I’ll keep your seat warm at the hell’s bar” and I flip open the engraved cigarette tin, caressing the bullet hole. “One day Benny, one I’ll buy you a new one” I say handing it back.
“Sure thing babe, but you’ll have to shoot me ‘n’ see if it does the same job as this one” he replies, patting the tin safely in his breast pocket again.
I squeeze his hand before retreating in the back of the bar, where he keeps his supplies. Here no one will bother me and I try, I- jesus, I try really hard not to think of the smell of summer, a gentle guitar and broken wind bells.
As I take my seat again, Sam, grinning, raises his open hand and I slap mine against his. It’s sticky but I don’t mind. I, too, grab a peach, holding it with both hands, feeling the velvety texture of the fruit.
“What? Don’t I get a high five?”
“I had to listen to you stumbling over the chords all my life. Hearing some real music for once was nice”
Dean grabs a peach pit from his father’s plate and quickly throws it at his brother, who promptly dodges it and throws the one he was still sucking on, hitting Dean square on his forehead.
“Ouch! Dammit, Sammy!!” he says rubbing the spot. With the whole table laughing, I bring the peach to my face, inhaling the sweet scent before biting into it. It’s so ripe and juicy that I feel it dripping down my chin. I quickly try to catch the juice with my hand while I look for a clean napkin to help me. I meet Dean’s bright eyes again while he offers his to me. My breath comes short as he licks his lips, his eyes following the path of the juice down my throat. I kick him lightly under the table.
Dean blinks, clearing his throat, shifting on his seat, a shaky, fake laugh spilling from his lips as he grabs his glass. Before taking a sip he points a finger at Sam’s face.
“Hope the Krauts aim’s not that good”
The glass doesn’t as much as touches his lips before a loud noise stops all laughs.
All our eyes are on John’s fist on the table.
His bottle had toppled over, spilling beer all over the table, dripping down the side, but no one dares to move, or breathe.
John’s head hangs low, but I can see it’s red, and the fist that slammed on the table is shaking. Bobby just reaches for his bottle and calmly takes a sip, like he’s used to this.
Sam’s face is pale and his eyes seem to gaze right through the house’s walls.
Dean’s eyes are less numb, there’s a spark of fight in them, but that too gets swallowed along with whatever words were on his lips as his father raises two furious eyes right at him, and Dean’s shoulders snap to attention, his lips pressed tight.
“I knew a kid who used to make the same joke. Ya know what’s he doin’ now?” John’s voice is raw, deprived of all warmth and I too feel myself sitting straight and rigid.
“No sir, I do not”
“He’s probably serving as fertilizer somewhere in France”
Now the silence is loud,“Wanna get killed that bad, boy?”
“Then I suggest you grow the fuck up”
“War’s not a fucking joke”
John stands up brusquely and we all flinch, except for Bobby, as the chair almost falls over, and it’s still rocking when he steps down the stairs and disappears somewhere in the wild garden.
Dean’s eyes are still where his father was, unblinking. Sam keeps drinking in silence and I don’t know what to do with myself. Bobby takes another long drag of his beer and sighs, resting the bottle on the table.
“Damn you, stupid boy”
Dean’s nervous eyes shift blinking to Bobby, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he tries to speak but he licks his lips instead. “Sh-should I ..?” he nods where John disappeared.
“Nah , let him cool it off”
Bobby grabs another peach and his pocket knife, rubbing the latter on his sleeve. “He’s not wrong, ya know that, right?”
“Drop that, I ain’t John” he says pointing the knife in Dean’s direction.
The slice of peach balanced on Bobby’s knife hovers midway to his mouth, before he drops it on the plate again.
“He never talks about the war because those ain’t fun memories. Nothin’ about that was anywhere near fun.” Bobby shifts uncomfortably, the chair creaking, and I can see him throwing a glance at me. I try to relax the frown that I feel on my face, probably failing miserably.
He clears his throat ,“Your father had to lead a bunch of scrawny kids, some younger than you”. Bobby picks at his abandoned slice of fruit with the knife, his eyes miles away, “... first batch he got was all bravado and little patience. Didn’t think too much of it, we needed some of that, ya know, morale was pretty low in the trenches… ”. He paused to rub a hand over his mouth, and to scratch the beard on his cheek, “... but war is a quick and heartless teacher. Bravado and courage don’t count for shit if you can’t use your brain and do as you are told.”
“Wh-what happened to-” I wish Sammy hasn’t asked.
“Whaddya think happened? They all went down like flies. I still remember John’s face as he handed the casualties report to his CO, hands and paper stained with blood. Caught him washing his hands for days after”.
Bobby let the silence spread over the table again as he finally chewed on his peach, looking unfazed,
“I’m not saying this because he’s your father and you should listen to him. I’m saying this because he’s your father and he knows what’s he’s talking about, unlike you.”
Dean stays silent only for a moment in complete contrast to the the cicadas that have started singing again, “..but, he hasn’t said a thing when I said I was gonna sign up”
“That’s because it was not his call. No one is thrilled, no one likes waiting for that letter”.
“John would’ve given everything to go in your place boy, he tried, so you could have a change to be classified as 3-A or 3-A-S or somethin’. But he got a 4-F “
“...I still have to take my medical”
Bobby snorts with no humor,“Kid, you’re a walking 1-A, ready to be wrapped in khaki with a big fucking bow and shipped to Europe”. Dean looks at himself, and Bobby makes a face “... unless those bowlegs are somewhat a reason to kick you out-”
“ - or maybe with those pretty eyes and delicate features, you could pass for a dame”
And with just that the air got clearer and breathing got easier.
John leaving the table put an end on dinner and I offer to help Sam with the dish washing while Bobby drags an apologetic-looking Dean to the front yard, mumbling something about some old rusty car that was giving him an headache.
The silent clicking of the plates as I put them away after drying is the only sound in the kitchen, Sam’s lost in his thoughts, blindingly passing me wet glasses.
“You think they’ll call my brother in?”, he asks suddenly, his voice barely above a whisper.
I side glance him looking far away outside the kitchen windows, overlooking the backyard. I follow his eyes and in the distance I could make out a silhouette. John, barely illuminated by the glow of his cigar.
“ I...don’t know Sam.” My stomach drops. It’s not like I want to think about it, but it’s not like I can lie to him, his brother, “ I mean...probably, he volunteered . But I don’t think it’ll be long. America’s coming to the rescue of Europe. They’re already in Italy.” Ok I lied, a little bit, and it sounds wrong and tastes bitter, but I want to be cheerful, hopeful. No one could really tell how things were and I never cared enough before.
My hands still.
I never cared about the war until its cold shadow threatened my little corner of sun.
Looking at Sam, it hits me that his expression could be mirroring mine, and life is unfair and reality is cruel and this summer could be over before it actually starts. I don’t dwell long on what my mind means with ‘summer’ .
I clear my voice and finish drying the last glass when a movement outside the windows catches my eyes. Sam notices it too but he goes to sit behind the desk, opening the same book from before. I don’t feel good just walking around the house waiting for Dean, but John Winchester’s lonely figure sitting on the porch stairs outside is unbearable. So I dry my hands, smooth down my dress and quietly walk outside.
The door creaks and I cringe as I see John’s shoulders tense up.
“I-it’s just me Mr.Winchester”. The shoulders relax with his intake of air. I silently walk to the table again, lightly drumming my knuckles on the wood, shifting from foot to foot as I grab a peach from the serving plate still on the table, asking myself what the heck I am still doing here. I know he can feel me lurking in the corner, and I bet he can feel the awkwardness this silence is causing but I stubbornly stay there.
John makes a sound deep in his chest and shuffles to the side, patting the seat beside him without saying a word. I plop down in a cloud of tulle before I can think better of it.
We just stay like that, sitting side by side. He carries almost the same air as Dean but it’s much bigger and a bit scary if I have to be honest.
My eyes are glued to the peach I’m cradling on my lap and I think we may just stay silent.
It’s a nice evening, the breeze is lovely and fireflies are starting to light up in the distance. There must be some kind of still water somewhere out there, maybe a lazy river or some sort of pond, or maybe a little la-
“Mary used to sing”
I almost drop the fruit from the scare that John’s deep voice so near to me causes.
“Is-is that so?”
“ ...all damn day, to the boys as a lullaby, while making the beds, cleaning the house, while cooking. Anytime the house was too silent. She knew I didn’t like the silence.”
“Dean never told me that”, I offer.
John snorts, “The boy loved listening to her singing almost as much as he loved her pies. Tried to teach him too, but god damn he was one tone deaf son of a b-” he gave me a quick apologetic glance “Sorry, you must not be used to this...kinda speech”
“You are very right. Although, fuck, I do not care one bit.” I smirk seeing his eyes widen in shock. “I grew up in that world, doesn’t mean I want to act like it”. Shrugging I relax a bit.
“Christ bird, I can see why my boy likes ya”
Blushing, I clear my throat. “So, if Dean is so tone deaf, how come he knows what notes are?”
John takes a puff from his cigar and frowns looking down at it and then at me, “Oh, don’t worry about i. I’m used to my Dad’s pipe”.
He smiles but stubs it out on the side of the step anyway, before putting it back in his rusty silvery cigar’s tin.
“Dean used to walk into the nursery when Mary sang to Sammy and drummed his fists on the crib. You can imagine that it didn’t sit right with little Sammy. So I found my old guitar… ” , his head nods back to the one still leaning against the wall. “... it had no strings at the time and it was twice as big as Dean, but it was enough for him to stop annoying his brother”
My eyebrows shoot up. “He learned it himself?”
“Uh, not really, but he started pretending to play with Mary, until he asked me to put in the strings. Needless to say it was one hell of a month until I sat him outside and taught him some. The rest is all his”
“...Of course” I smile as I rub the fuzz on the fruit, “Dean is so smart ”
I feel his eyes on me and I blush again, “Of course you know, he’s your son. I have no right to come here and talk to you about you-”
“I always give him a hard time”
“It’s your job to give your kids a hard time”, I snort and it comes out more bitter than I want. “They know that you love them… ” I say more gently, “... and they love you too. They are your children, they don’t have a say in that”, I finish grinning at him.
“You’re a bright one aren’t ya?”
“I must be. I like your son”, I retort without thinking and I blush as John’s burst of laughter breaks the quiet.
“How in the hell did you two come to know each other?”
“Lifted my skirt, scattered my homework all over the boulevard and then ruined it”
John listens, his eyes a bit shiny from the laugh before. “He was rude and loud and arrogant and cocky and literally forced a date on me-“, I say unconsciously playing with Dean’s wrist-watch. John’s eyes follow my fingers but he doesn’t comment.
“But … he’s also funny, gentle, generous… patient, honest… and so… so intelligent. I mean, my first impression wasn’t the worst, but I was wrong. I was so wrong. He’s the best man I know and I can’t think about what I would do i-” my voice cracks and I blink away, my throat closing. John is silent and his eyes shift in front of him, maybe to give me time to sort myself out and when I’m still trying to breathe, he gently and carefully, takes the fruit from me. I haven’t noticed that I was squeezing the peach so hard that it had started dripping on my dress. Relaxing my hand I let the warmth of him wash over me. It’s just a quick touch but it’s enough to stop my head from spinning.
“Dean’s a hot head, and an asshole sometimes, but he’s competent. He… he’ll be fine”
I nod partially relieved and partially knowing that he’s more scared that I could ever be.
“Whatcha doin’ outside you two?”
Dean’s voice makes me jump a little and we both turn around. Dean is at the door, his face hesitant, his voice full of bravado.
“Dad’s trying to scare you off as a suitor? Trying to sell my dowry? It’s jack squat just so you know”
“ See Y/n ? An asshole-”
“- where was I ? Ah yes, I was tellin’ you about how Dean used to wet the bed till-”
Chapter 11: 11. Sweet&Sour
you can also find me on Tumblr as @ain-t-bovvered ^_-
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
- flashbacks are in italics
I realize the song is over when her breathy sigh fills the silence of the room. Cheers and applause of the crowd drawn out by the wild beating of my heart, loudly heard in my ears. I didn’t like one bit the show she put on and certainly she didn’t either. Disgust and shame, like an open book so clear on her face, for people who know her anyway.
What the hell was she doing in this place? She’s loaded for God’s sake. She doesn’t need this job. Do her parents know about this?
Like, someone can make her do anything she doesn’t want, I scoff. I stay put in my dark corner, trying to stop my hands from shaking as the audience swarms around her, prying eyes and hands touching her. And she’s, again, uncomfortable. Finally she seems to have had enough, but as she turns to put the counter between her and the crowd, a hand quickly grabbing her, tugging at her legs.
I and probably half the people here , manage to catch a glimpse of garter straps before her hands block the slit of her dress from riding up even more.
My legs move even before my brain decides that I’m going to murder whoever that hand is attached to when something tugs me back and I whirl around ready to floor the person touching me, because what the fu-.
“Easy mate”, a short British man with an imposing presence lifts the hand that had grabbed my jacket. “No need for prince charming to come to the rescue, see?” he points behind me and sure enough the asshole is being roughly hushed outside by two giants. “I take great care of my employees” he grabs my attention again, the hat I had let fall now in his hand, patting it to get imaginary dust off it, “don’t want hot heads in my house, am I clear?” his smile is all charm, cold threat clearly lingering between us.
“Maybe you should make the selection before they are allowed inside… ” I say clenching my jaw, snatching the hat back and putting it on my head.
I’ve got to get out of here.
He grins, rolling on his heels, hands in his pockets. “Fair, but that would hurt the walks-in, wouldn’t it? Numbers are everything in this business ”
The band starts again, announcing the last song of the night, and me and who I can only imagine is a partner of this place, stare at each other. His little eyes seem to scrutinize me and his posture changes. “Say what, do I know you?”
That takes me by surprise, “ I…doubt it. It’s my first time here”
He’s not convinced. Biting the inside of his cheek he takes a step closer.
“Nah, you see mate, I have a knack for faces. I certainly saw yours somewhere. I just have to….what was your name again?”
“I haven’t said it ”, I snap back , grabbing my coat. “ Look, uh…mate, I gotta go, so , yeah, good night”, I say touching the rim of the hat in a small resemblance of a salute and I turn around following part of the crowd that is already rushing out.
“Name’s Crowley by the way. I’ll be seeing you again, Mister.”
“Not if I can help it”, I whisper to myself between my teeth.
The cold air outside fills my lungs again. My skin is burning and I exhale shakily, rising the collar of my coat, trying to hide my face from the biting wind that slips between the high buildings. I start to walk along other people on the sidewalk, probably in the direction of my hotel. I don’t know, I sure hope so. I don’t understand what I was thinking, coming here again, torturing myself with her.
The difference between my memories and seeing her now clash in my mind and it drives me insane. That song too.
Jesus, that song.
I stop abruptly in the middle of the sidewalk and several people bump into my shoulders. I don’t hear their curses as I search for my cigarette tin, opening it with shaky hands and remembering I don’t have my lighter with me.
“Fuck…” I hiss and put it back in my pocket, squeezing my eyes shut, which does nothing to help me get rid of the image of her standing on black shiny marble, bright red lips, the long stretch of her neck, the strap of her dress and how loose the material looked around her chest with no indication of anything under it.
“Shit”. I rub a hand over my face. It’s already too late anyway. I see it all again in my mind like a movie. How her curls bounced softly on her bare back, her gloved hand cradling the microphone as she sang, fingers lifting her skirt up to crouch down easily, and then the soft curve of her thigh.
My fingers clench the air, remembering how that felt, when I could do that,when I did that, when, a million years ago,she was mine and I was hers.
I turn my face to the sky, some droplets of rain drizzling on my skin. I blink my eyes and take a deep breath, the aching in my chest deeper than the scar under my dog tags.
Around the car there’s silence. We are parked where we now call ‘our spot’. The sun has just disappeared and the first stars timidly start to shine over the purple and orange. The windows are rolled down, my feet dangling outside, following the rhythm of some old song that is quietly playing on the radio.
“Y/N, where are you?” a hand waves inches from my face and my eyesight focuses on Dean’s face hovering above mine.
I swat it away from me and rub my eyes. “Sorry, sorry …what were you saying?” I ask, distractedly. He almost tries to look offended.
“I was asking you what time you have to be home”
Shrugging I close my eyes again, wriggling my shoulders to get more comfortable, Dean’s thighs are no pillows. I feel the muscles tensing before slowly relaxing as his breath hitches. I try really hard not to grin, knowing that I failed miserably as my nose gets pinched.
“Hey, I’m serious here. I don’t want a bunch of black-and-whites waiting for me at home for kidnapping”
“Ha - ha, funny”
“Mmh how about being thrown in jail for stealing?”
“Stealing what now?” I snort as I gaze up at his stupid grin.
“A girl’s innocence”
“…that’s even funnier”
“You know what? For being such a high class lady, you sure do not act like one”, his hand covers mine resting on my midriff.
“All your fault, you fiend”
My fingers wrap around his, rubbing lazily over his knuckles.
“I’m a perfect gentleman. You, my lady, offend me”, he brings my hand to his mouth, smirking on my skin before planting a feather-like kiss.
Instead of letting my hand fall again, I rake it through his hair, messing it up, some strands that were neatly combed now falling over his forehead. His eyes soften as my fingers gently sweep across his temple and over his ear, before cupping his cheek. I gently graze over his bottom lip with my thumb and his lips part, eyes growing darker, searching my face.
I meet them as I chew my lips. He must have read my mind because next he’s bending over to kiss me.
The angle is awkward and I can feel the strain, almost trembling of his muscles. My arm goes around his neck, adjusting my position, I drag myself up, deepening the kiss with a sigh.
His tongue sweeps along my lip and I press myself against his chest, my nails gently scraping his scalp. A groan coming from deep within him gets drown out as I lick into his mouth eager, my free hand gripping the leather seat behind him and I scoot closer. I want him closer until it hurts.
His hand circles my waist, keeping me firmly against him. He doesn’t look like he’ll push me away this time, so, full of boldness by this sudden turn of events, I drag my mouth down his jaw and neck. He gasps and I open my lips, tongue swiping over his pulse,up, slow and hot before gently sucking the spot under his ear.
His head falls back with a groan, breath quick and I, happy with myself, graze his earlobe with my lips before gently nibbling on it. A moan, loud in my ear, makes me giggle, knowing that for once I’m the one doing that to him, and thrilled that he still hasn’t put a stop at this.
There it is.
With a twinge of disappointment I push myself back ready to meet a disapproving stare, but what I’m met with are dark hooded eyes, lips parted, hot, quick puffs of breath, his cheeks on fire. Before I can say anything, he crushes our lips together.
It’s impatient and messy, hot and wet. I’m still squashed against him, my side digging into his hips, and I take notice of his own excitement. I wiggle my hips just to test my theory.
And, as sure as hell is hot, Dean breaks the kiss with a strangled moan, burying his face in the crook of my neck, hot puffs of air sending shivers down my back, where his hand is splayed , fingers digging into the fabric of my shirt. I feel Dean’s parted, wet lips over my pulse point, and a rasped whisper of my name, followed by the gentle scraping of his teeth. Shivering and trembling I let out an involuntary whine that gets muffled against his shoulder where I press my face.
The inside of the car is slightly warmer than before, even with the windows rolled down. Not two minutes ago a fresh breeze had made me shudder, but now everything feels way too hot.
Dean’s hand slides up, taking my ponytail off, raking his fingers through my hair to free it, tugging and guiding my head and our lips are together again.
My legs tense and relax, trying to release the building pressure and I can’t stop them from moving. My throat keeps making these whiny, needy sounds that I hear almost as if it’s someone else making them. One of my shoes comes off when I drag my legs inside, planting my feet on the upholstery.
Dean’s hand, the one that is not currently trapped in my hair, travels from my hips down my leg, slowly until, eventually, the skirt ends.
He kisses my jaw, toying with the hem of my skirt until his fingers finally touch my skin, adding pressure as he gets more bold. His hand travels down, barely past my knee until his touch lingers. He hesitates before hooking his fingers behind my knee, dragging my leg up. I’m breathing heavily against his neck, just holding on to him, not sure of what am I supposed to do. He keeps peppering my hot skin with light kisses and I hear the fabric and petticoat swishing, as his hand slowly slides under the skirt.
I press my face into his t-shirt, feeling his skin through it, being as hot as mine. I dig my fingers in his shoulder as his hand is moving up my naked thigh, agonizingly slow and warm, reaching my hip. My breath catches in my throat as his fingers dare to graze slightly under the lacy hem of my underwear. Taking that as discomfort, he tenses and stops immediately, hand already out from under the skirt and on my waist.
Both breathing fast and awkwardly, we barely meet eyes. I can sense Dean’s already brewing apologies but I want none of that so, swallowing down the lump in my throat ,I kiss him, guiding his hand up my leg again.
This time, he doesn’t waste too much time and he’s quickly caressing the inner side of my thigh with his knuckles, gently nudging my legs slightly apart. He stills again and I whine between his lips. Chuckling, with some effort to sound casual and not totally ruined, he breaks the kiss to search my eyes.
“Dean..?”, I ask breathless and he just looks at me with his lips parted and his breath quick, green eyes bright over his blush. There’s a thin veil of moisture on his skin.
He opens and closes his mouth but no sounds come out, so he licks his lips and swallows before trying again, but I don’t let him, I kiss him deep and slow, a sigh escaping him as I part my legs.
They tremble but Dean’s hand is warm and reassuring. It draws soothing circles on my hips, the pads of his fingers pressing gently and I relax, melting under his touch.
At the first tentative touch we both gasp, our lips breaking apart, eyes locking.
“Is-” Dean’s voice was rough, “-this alright?”
I nod quickly and keep my eyes on him as he swallows and starts gently stroking me over the cotton.
The foreign, awkward touch quickly becomes overwhelming.
It’s hot yet I’m shaking.
I’m breathless yet my chest can’t stop heaving.
I want to kiss him and close my eyes and yet I can’t stop looking at him.
Shamelessly my hips chase his touch and I blush embarrassed, but instead of being surprised by it, it just makes him bolder.
“Do you trust me?”, he whispers on my parted lips.
“A-always”, I breathe out.
His hand leaves me and I feel a twinge of disappointment, but he raises two fingers to his lips and I watch, shocked, as he sucks them into his mouth. That’s almost too much. My mouth goes dry, and someplace else does not.
I watch as those pink lips wrap around his own fingers before releasing them with a pop.
“Still trust me?”
He smiles and drags me in for a kiss while I feel both impatient and , not gonna lie, some sort of fear, but … this is Dean kissing me sweet and gentle, one arm locking me flush to him and the other-
His hand skims across my bare hipbone, leaving behind a scorched path, his hand flat on my skin, “you want me to stop?”, he asks, looking directly into my eyes. I swallow and shake my head.
“Relax, but stop me whenever you want”
I lower my gaze. “Look at me”, and I do, “I mean it.”
“Okay”. I smile trying to look as reassured as possible but I know we are crossing a line that not everybody would approve.
But do I care though?
All my mental rambling goes flying out the window as Dean’s fingers find me with the gentlest touch.
I really do not care.
The pattern is almost the same as before but without anything in between … this is so much better.
Dean doesn’t stop. He looks focused like a man on a mission and I almost laugh before a moan leaves my mouth and my arms feel like jelly. I collapse against him, forehead to forehead. His eyes are on me watching every twitch, drinking in my noises as I, again, find myself chasing his fingers.
I’d almost feel ashamed if it wasn’t for the plain, simple fact that it just feels so damn good and I’m loving it.
There’s a moment, in the rush of things, where he slips and it surprises me more than hurts me.
“Shit , sorry I-”
“Do it again”, I say against his lips
“Whate- whatever that was”, I say leaning back so he can see my face, “do that again”
“Dean…”, I moan buckling my hips down on his hand, “please” .
A wrecked noise comes from Dean’s throat, “yeah…” he clears it, “yeah I can do that”.
There’s a slight burn and sense of discomfort and he distracts me from it covering my neck in kisses and little nibs and I feel like my body doesn’t have a clue on what the heck focus on first. All my nerves are just, frying up .
There’s the same pressure, building and building and building up and it feels like I should explode any second. It makes me let out filthy sounds as I chase his hand, moving in and out, in and out and he’s so gentle and careful and he kisses me stupid until I can no longer breathe. I dig my nails in his shirt and he holds me tight and a it makes me dizzy and it builds up and it keeps going and going until there’s no more sounds but a loud buzzing in my ears.
I shake and tremble in his arms, whispering strangled nonsense in the crook of his neck. My hair sticking to my neck and collarbone. He’s still holding me, with both arms now, breathing me in .
“You alright?”, he asks, sounding almost as breathless as I feel.
“Uh?”, the only answer I could muster.
“I’ll take that stupid grin as a yes”, he smirks very pleased with himself.
I blush brightly, suddenly feeling exposed even though I am completely dressed.
“Um..” I make to move, thinking that maybe I’m crushing him but his arm tightens around me.
“Please tell me I didn’t fuck up”
“…” I cradle his head in my hands smiling, “no, no, you did not”.
A sting in my back tells me I’ve been in a uncomfortable position far too long. As I straighten up a bit I still feel the hardness against my hip and it’s definitely even worse than before.
He shifts in his seat knowing that I noticed.
“Um that…” he says eyeing me up and down, “… was a sight”
We both recompose ourselves but I can’t help feeling like something isn’t right in all this. I look at him as he is, discreetly, trying to adjust his jeans.
“Um…should I…”, I nod downwards, no clue what the fuck I was trying to talk about, “ …help..?”
He blinks at me trying to digest my words and splutters. “What?! No! I would never expect- shit! You can’t ask things like that. Y/N, you- Jesus!” He doesn’t even look at me, his ears are bright red.
“Okay, I got it, sorry?!”, I snap offended , “Jeez I just- never mind”
Dean nervously combs a hand through his hair, tousling them pretty wild, and damn he should always keeps them like that, or I will.
“No, I’m sorry, I - don’t worry about it. Let’s-“ he starts the car, “let’s take you home, ‘right doll?”
I stare at his profile for a hot moment before using my best, neutral tone.
“Alright but next time… let me”
Dean just swallows,and with a nervous little smile, turns up the volume of the radio.
“Okay y/n, let me understand this” Chuck says, balancing the big wooden box on his hip as I keep the door open for him. “You went to your old fancy house. The big, old, fancy house you told me you had to sell. The big, old, still in perfect condition, mansion you grew up in?”
“ - the very one you told me was no longer yours?”
I close the door louder than I had intended and roll my eyes behind his back as he puts the heavy box on the floor.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me “
“I wasn’t! ” Chuckling, I drop the keys in the glass bowl. His eyes follow me as I fall on the couch, much to its objection. Sighing delightfully I wiggle out of my heels and stretch my toes on the footrest.
“Stop staring at me!” I whine, draping an arm over my eyes. God, I’m tired. I hear his snort and quick steps coming near me and, with one open eye, I see him sitting on the edge of the coffee table in front of me, putting my feet on his lap.
“Oh Chuck ,damn it !” He stops my kick with his hands and starts massaging my feet. I plop down again, drained. “Alright, you insufferable man, ask away”
I can hear his satisfied smile and then in a earnest voice he softly asks, “Why haven’t you sold the house?”
“I …don’t know”
“Come on, you’ve gotta give me more than that”
“I really don’t” I let my head roll to the side, watching the street lights reflecting on the curtains, “I mean…when it was time to do that, I just couldn’t sign those damn papers”
He stays silent, tugging my legs and I slide down the couch with my back, the double chin must be one hell of a sight.
“I guess I….couldn’t let go of everything after all ”, my foot twitches and I hiss in pain as he works a particularly sore muscle. “I can’t live in there Chuck. You know I can’t. That’s not me anymore”
A car horn breaks the night silence and the light of the headlights illuminate his frown.
“Oh, don’t tell me it’s not true”
“- that’s not true!”
I roll my eyes and kick him lightly. He chuckles stopping my attack, again. “It’s been a while since we talked, like, really talked . Remember me, y/n, what was the condition of this ?” .
He gestures the space between us to indicate ‘this’, as in, two friends living together, two friends of two different genders, living together.
“If you wanna do this we have to be comfortable with each other” I say parroting him. “We’ve seen each other in underwear Chuck. I think we are pretty comfortable”
“Hey! That was a mistake, ok? I didn’t know you were in th- don’t change subject!”, he taps my feet off his lap and leans in, his icy blue eyes, clear as a cold summer day, shoved in my face.
“Okay, Okay! Jeez, since when did you become such a bore”
“Since we can barely keep up with rent in a fixer upper when we could be living like nobility”
I scoff at him “I am no such thing!”, I retort, suddenly sitting straight. “A house that big needs money to be run, and we ain’t got any”
“You told me you had lost everything”
I grimace at his serious tone, “…I, I’m sorry, you’re right.”
Deflated, I slump down again, “I should have told you, you trusted me and I messed up. Sorry Chuckie”
“Ugh, don’t apologize, it creeps me out!”
Now I’m being hit by a pillow. I almost throw it back at him , but instead I found myself hugging it.
“I…started to have….dreams and, I don’t know, guess I felt a bit nostalgic. I almost forgot that I had that life. It’s been just a couple of years but it feels like centuries, and again, that woman… that girl is n-”
“It’s still you, Y/n”
“Yeah, right”, I snort, sitting up and walking toward the window.
“It is. You may have changed, you may have grown up. We all did. War, pain, loss, tend to do that, you know?”
“Sure”, I say bitterly, turning to look at him. “Can you actually say you are still the same person you were before you got thrown into that meat grinder we now call Europe again?”
He opens his mouth silently but I don’t let him speak. “Because, as sure as hell, I’m not!”
I turn around feeling my eyes hot and my voice wavering. “I look in the mirror, or just my reflection in every god damn surface I lay my eyes upon and what looks back at me is only a stranger!”
I’m breathing hard now and my eyes sting but I still hear Chuck’s steps closing in behind me and dread the moment his hand squeezes my shoulder, warm and reassuring, gently turning me to face him. And I don’t want to look at him because I’ll be damned if he sees me cry.
“I know”, he only says, “I know Y/N, I really do”
“I know you know. That’s not the point”, I say sniffling.
“No it’s not.”
He offers me a timid smile and I roll my eyes again, fighting against the tears. Taking a deep, trembling breath, I push my hair out of the way and shrug his hand off my shoulder.
“Whatever, I can’t ever win with you, can I?”
“No you can’t, and this isn’t over, but I’m curious about that”, he says, nodding back at the box still on the floor, changing the subject, thank God.
“Found it under my mother’s wardrobe. I haven’t even opened it yet”
“Don’t know if I want to know what’s inside”
“….scared of ghosts?”
you can also find me on Tumblr as @ain-t-bovvered ^_-
Chapter 12: Ramazzotti & Black Cherry Soda
- flashbacks are in italics
The moment I open the box I’m glad I had decided to get on my night time routine before sitting on my bed.
There were stacks and stacks of letters, some thrown in there, some grouped in thin packs, tied with old shoelaces. I took them all out to see if there was something else in there and to my disappointment, there was nothing of value.
Let’s be honest, I had hoped to sell whatever I would have found with a shred of value but, alas… luck had never been on my side and it seemed that the bitch certainly wasn’t going to start now.
Crossing my legs to get more comfortable I drop back, the letters crackling under my back.
“Bummer. Such a fuss for nothing. Ugh!!”
The side of one envelope is poking my ear annoyingly and I swat it away sending it to slide off the bed.
I could actually just fall asleep like this because I don’t give a damn right now, but I also know that tomorrow morning me, will have big regrets. So, rolling over and balancing over the edge of the mattress, I look for the yellowish envelope under the weak light of the streetlamp.
My eyes are now more accustomed to the dark so I can make out a few words, probably the sender and definitely some old lady friend of my mother’s or, judging by the handwriting, some of my Father’s old pals?
In that moment I see it, right there on the right side corner it reads ‘ARMY POSTAL SERVICE’ and underneath my address, the ‘PASSED CENSOR’ stamp.
My hand grabs and wrinkles the paper as I sit up so fast that I almost pass out. Stretching over to switch on the bedside lamp I squint, the light attacking me suddenly being too bright.
Finally, after rubbing my eyes, I carefully relax my fingers and press the letter between both palms of my hands to get rid of the wrinkles.Then, with my heart pounding in my throat I slowly slide the letter under the beam of light.
There, written in an unsteady, messy, adorable way… his name.
“…What the fu-”
I scramble off the bed and grab the lamp, hovering it over the rest of the letters and, son of a bitch, they are all from him.
I thought I had lost them years ago. Actually, I was pretty sure mother had thrown them all away. Despite everything, I dare to smile just a little at the thought that, in the end, she had actually kept them somewhere. Away from me, yes but at least she hadn’t destroyed them as she had said.
I see some of them sliding out the envelopes and my smile widens. I used to tear them open as soon as they were in my hands.
I grab the loose ones and put them in a pile, keeping the others tied together neatly on the side, as I go through those first.
They are not in order. There’s one from the first month, some others with the french stamps, a cheesy 1944 Christmasy one and one from the first weeks at boot camp.
I try to put them in order. God, we did write to each other every other day. Almost all of my money went up in postal bills, I just now realize.
I chuckle as I remember how I had told him plenty of times to stop spending so much of his army pay.
Had he listened? No.
Was I surprised? Also no.
Looking at the pile in front of me I chew on my lips, nervously.
“I shouldn’t…” I say as I unfold the first letter.
At first, I can only stare at the words and faded ink, so strange and yet so familiar. My fingers trace his signature, still without rank or company, when he was still just Dean.
My vision blurs as it falls on ‘I already miss you’
Sighing, I fall on my pillow again, the letter clutched on my chest. Sniffling, I lift it and begin to read, knowing that I’ll soon regret it.
Hope you can read this and appreciate my great effort.
I don’t have much time to go over how the train ride to this place was hell. Little did I know, it was only the beginning. They gave us shots!! Shots babe!! Freaking three of them!
Managed not to pass out during our first drill right after, unlike this scrawny kid from Michigan, Devin Tran or something who fell right on his face. Tried hard not to laugh.
Not even three days in the army and I already got myself punishment. Had to drag Tran’s unconscious ass to the infirmary.
Tragic news is that I have to be showered, shaved, dressed and my bed must be done by 6 a.m. every morning. At least, the chow is damn good. I’ll come back fat and you better take me like that.
Speaking of, it’s almost time for lights out. After these last few days, I’m glad I get to hit the hay at the grown-up time of 9 p.m. I know, shocking!
I already miss you and I’ll write again soon.
“Shit”, I chuckle sadly as the letter slides from my fingers. I’m such an idiot. Why am I doing this?
This is torture, I said as I pick up the next one.
What do you mean chicken scratches? Like your cursive will be any better.
How’s army life’s treating me?
Well, scratch the “I’m coming home fat”. It’s called Boot Camp for a reason. Reason being that boot is going up
my ass. back
Every day is a repeat of marches, drills, exercises, and learning how to hold weapons. Yesterday they made us crawl in the mud for yards and since every little infraction can be punished with whatever our drill sergeant fancies, they made us march again.
I gotta say the Tran kid, Kevin, turned out pretty swell, so there you go, I made a friend, see?
Ps : Don’t believe a word that comes out of Sammy’s mouth and tell him I’m gonna whoop his ass.
Ps. s : What kind of pie? It’s important”
Shit babe!! Did you use ink and quill? That was unreadable
and kinda hot. Every pie is good pie, don’t stress yourself about it. I’d eat your pies raw. I’d complain about the inevitable stomach ache, but I’d eat them all.
As for the weekend passes, I still know nothing but I’ll let you know as soon as possible. I know how unbearable my absence is.
Aren’t you going to start school soon? Or is it next month? Either way, knock them all dead, babe. You got it.
Me on the other hand, I fired my first round. I liked it more than I’d like to admit and, in the words of my drill sergeant: “Damn Winchester, if you could only shut your mouth as quickly as you shoot, I’d promote you to Lt right away.” I guess that’s good in case, you know
I really get t some jock gets funny ideas with you.
Then I must have said something wrong because the Tran kid laughed, the Srg went real silent and, “Guess today’s not that day, Winchester. 10 more laps for you two assholes.”
Sounds like Dean alright.
Rolling on my stomach, this trip down memory lane is a really bad idea but … I’m suddenly back on the front porch of my house, early in the morning, to catch the letter before my mother could see it. A fresh glass of orange juice always waiting for me on the table and next to it a letter opener. Not that I had the patience to use it. And I would wrap myself in a light shawl since the mornings had started getting chilly and I’d read, read and re-read until I knew every word by heart. Then I would run to my room and write back and sure enough, by the end of the day, the letter was already in the postal office.
My vision grows dimmer and dimmer as my limbs feel heavy with exhaustion. My mind is still sharp enough to grasp the fact that I’m probably going to fall asleep, and pretty sure I’m not going to like the nightmares that this discovery will instigate.
As the months passed, the letters started to get less frequent and the frustration from both parts is tangible in every word written.
I miss him terribly.
I know he misses me too, but there is no way to know if he misses me as much as I miss him. He has something to keep himself busy, what do I have?
Country club bridge, balls in which I don’t even dare to dance with any of the male specimens my mother throws at me, and dinners… boring, long, stuffy dinners.
I sigh in relief when my feet, free at last from the confinement of impossible stiff heels, touch the cold, humid grass. I wiggle my toes as I walk up the front door, the last of winter’s mist easily reaching my bones. I notice a steaming mug on the table. Another letter!
I stump my pinky on the stairs and curse my way toward the little table, tearing the paper, eager to read news from Dean so soon.
After I sent the previous letter we’ve got words that we will soon be shipped to Britain, on the 23rd if anything stays the same. So I guess I’m going to ring Hitler’s doorbell soon. Son of a bitch it’s happening! But hey… they say Europe is “quaint” and has beautiful landscapes but I just know that I’ll miss our big, infinite, long dusty roads and plains of nothing.
I ain’t got much time to write but enough to tell you that before Europe, we’ll have a couple of days to do our business and doll you are my business. So get your cute
ass face here, because I’ll be damn but Mr. Hitler can wait until I see my girl.
Pvt. Dean Winchester
90ID, Company B, 359th Infantry Regiment
90th Infantry Division
United States Army
PS: Sammy, Dad, and Bobby already know. They have a family only visit a couple of days before.
The hot chocolate sloshes and stains my dress as I stand up in a panic. Today is already the 13th! I have so little time to organize everything. First of all, how to reach San Antonio alone.
Wait…do I go alone?
No, wait… Yeah, I can go alone.
It’s so far from here! How long will our letters take? Oh…I certainly will have to stay the night!
Gosh, this is terrible and sudden, and I will have to tell my parents!
Damn it, Dean!.
Needless to say, I already started counting the hours and slept none of them that night.
As soon as I hear the maid going about her business, I leap out of bed and reach the kitchen.
“Miss! My goodness, what are you doing up this ea-”
“Yes, yes, yes, morning to you too Dot. I need a favor and it must be done before my parents wake up”
She looks at me dubiously but she also knows better than to try and stop whatever I have in mind.
“Sure Miss, what do you need?”
“I need to send a telegram”
I’m on my feet even before I can register what’s happening, eyes squinting in the dark, the covers sliding from my grasp while I salute.
“Yeah yeah, at ease, you’ve got urgent mail ”
Stumbling on my words, still heavy with sleep, I relax trying to get the fog out of my brain.
“Yeah, can’t believe someone actually gives a shit about your sorry ass”
“Ouch! Sir, you break my heart, I only have eyes for you”
The whole room stifles chuckles and someone asks to shut the fuck up. I grin as I snatch the slim envelopes to put them in my combat pocket, only to remember I’m yet to be dressed.
“Yeah, yeah… ”
He fought hard to conceal a poor excuse of a grin as he exited the room without waiting for my salute. I try to read the sender with only the early, too damn early morning light, making out some letters, my eyes widen.
“Hey y’all, Imma turn on the lights real quick”
A mix of grunts, shifting of covers, curses and the same “the fuck Winchester” follows me as I press the switch.
‘22nd I’ll be there STOP please tell me where to stay overnight
STOP I want to see you off STOP ‘
“Hell yeah!” I say, loud enough.
“Winchester, if you don’t shut your fucking mouth I swe-”
“Who’s it from, Dean?”
“Tran…” I say swaying the paper in his face, “…dude, my girl is coming to visit the day before we get shipped, and she wants to stay and sway her handkerchief as we sail away.”
“That’s awesome man. She and my mom will see us off together.”
He pats my shoulder, and I grin back not getting the joke. He can’t help but grin, happily.
“Wait, that means she’s staying overnight!”, someone shouts from under the covers. “You should tell her to come visit your friends, too.”
“Yeah, that’s right Winchester! We need something nice to look at for once!”
“You wound me, Lafitte. Am I not enough for you?”
“Shut your trap, Fitzgerald!”
“I love you too!”
I can’t hear the rest of the mess my brothers are making as I stare at the second telegram carefully held between my hands.
‘Sorry forgot STOP. I love you STOP ‘
The bus is stuffy and hot, even for the mild March weather. I suspect that most of this uncomfortable feeling is just the guilt squeezing my chest and taking my breath away as my town gets smaller and smaller in the distance. I told my parents I was going to some bullshit retreat at my friend’s lake cabin, and they bought it surprisingly fast, mainly because I called my friend and asked for this favor in exchange for my economics notes.
Here I am now…
Three days of freedom but also the first time alone outside what has been my whole universe for my entire life. Heading to a big, unknown city to send my first ever boyfriend off to the other side of the world. The lump from my chest has risen to my throat, choking me, and I can’t relax, my back stiff like a wood board.
I can’t stop biting my lips, almost drawing blood, as anything that was vaguely familiar just fades in a blur outside the window. I let my eyes follow the terrain that rushes past me, my head leaning against the cool, glass surface, my mind traveling …
“Hey Sammy, you finished your homework yet?”
“Almost done Dean! Can’t you be a little more patient?”
“Listen squirt, she’s got pie, okay? PIE!”
“Yeah Dean, we know, this is the fifth time you’ve mentioned it.”
“Then, what the hell are you waiting for?”
“Dean, leave your brother alone! Geez!! He’s doing me a favor.”
I drag his ass out on the porch where a pitcher full of lemonade is waiting.
I blush as I pour a glass for him, “Well, you know I suck at math so I asked him for a copy of some of his notes.”
Dean makes an offended gasp, “How dare you! I’m good at math and shit. Why didn’t you ask me? Those are my notes, anyway.”
“I would have asked you if it hadn’t been for -” I bite my tongue and focus on cutting thin, lemon slices.
“…for…?” he asks, jumping off the railing and sliding beside me, with his stupid grin already blooming.
“Nothing. I - I can’t read your stupid ass handwriting”
“Umm mmh… ”
Arms envelop me from behind, hands stopping over mine. I sigh and naturally sink into him, as his chin rests over my head. I try to focus on the damn lemon but now his hands slide up and down my arms, leaving a trail of goosebumps behind.
“Dean…” I can feel his grin against my neck as he nuzzles his nose right under my ear, blowing lightly, “… stop it!” I hiss, completely unconvincingly.
His hand reaches, tilts my head to the side to have better access as his lips leave hot kisses all along my stretched neck. The cutting of the lemon is getting real fuzzy.
I put down the knife and twirl around, grabbing his face and lowering it to my eye level.
“You’re distracting, okay?”
Eyes twinkling, he pecks my lips, “You make me distract you.”
“Oh, shut your mouth!”
Bumping his nose to mine, he whispers a breath from my lips, “Make me.”
My eyes drop down to his mouth. That damn smirk. I wanna kiss it away until he can only moa-
“Really?… Guys…you are disgusting!”
I jump away from him and busy myself with picking up the lemons that I had dropped.
“Yeah Sammy, you will not be saying that in five years or so.”
Sam makes this disgusted sound and hands me the notebook.
“Here Y/N, I hope it will help.”
“Can we have pie now?”
“Yeah yeah, let me go get it.”
As I grab forks and ice-cream the doorbell rings. I hear Dean hurrying in behind my back, stealing a piece of pie and smacking my ass before answering the door.
Rubbing the offended cheek, I sit beside Sam who’s frowning over his mangled slice before stealing some ice-cream from Dean’s plate.
“Dean! Ice-cream is melting!” he yells towards the door and then shrugs. “We don’t really have to wait for him, though. Come on, unless you want to drink your dessert.”
I chuckle but before I can eat my first bite -
“Dean…?” Sam’s worried tone freezes me. Dean is standing at the door, pale. His mouth opens and closes but no sound comes out. In his one hand there’s an envelope and in the other a letter.
I don’t even remember how we got to this place.
The drive is just a blur in my head. This must be the first time I didn’t want to be here. Everything looks so different now. The setting sun has no colors. No more oranges, purples, and yellows. Now it’s just grey and darker grey.
The grass is no longer green. My eyes see it as black. Like, it is burned and dead. Matching my aching heart.
The rustling of the leaves in the trees no longer sounds like a song. Right now, it hurts my ears. I just wanna scream at the top of my lungs for everything to stop.
I need the sun to stop setting. Maybe that way he won’t have to leave.
I need the grass to be green again. Maybe that way I will always remember this place as it was the first time he brought me here.
I need the leaves to stop moving. Maybe that way my soul will be a little calmer.
When he pulled the handbrake and the car jolted to a stop I opened the door and got out as fast as I could. The small confines of the car were closing in on me.
Suffocating me even more.
I barely heard the opening and closing of his own door. I just felt his arms around me, hugging me from behind, his warmth, maybe for the first time, failing to make me feel better. And just like that, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. And my knees buckle. I can feel him supporting me but at the same time we’re both sinking down till we’re sitting on the ground, me still in his arms, his back resting against the car door.
We haven’t talked since he grabbed my hand and dragged me to the car. Both lost in our thoughts. In our own nightmares.
Why do we have to suffer for something that is happening all those thousands of miles away? I know I am being selfish. I know people are dying, suffering, losing everything they have.
But right now, I don’t care.
I want to be selfish.
I want to be so selfish because I love him.
God, how I love him.
I bend my head low, close my eyes and I take a deep breath. I slowly exhale, lifting my head towards the sky and without even knowing where I got the strength, I shout my frustration.
I hear his chuckle, “think Mr. Hitler heard you just fine. Bet he’s retreating right now.”
I don’t have to look but I’m sure there’s a small, lopsided smile on his beautiful lips. His arms squeeze me tight and I slowly turn in his arms looking deep in his eyes. There are so many things I want to tell him.
That I love him.
That I don’t want him to go. But it seems that all my vocabulary has disappeared.
“You are such an idiot!”
I let out a breathy chuckle as I hide my face in the crook of his neck. He makes this fake outraged gasps, his hand resting on his chest.
“How dare you! First of all, you are totally right, second….” his hand brushes away the tangle of hair in front of my face, “I’m your idiot.”
His stupid grin is brighter than the moon and I can’t fight the smile through the tears. I slap his chest and I grip his shirt, pressing my face in it.
His hands soothe my shaky back.
“Aah, babe, you need to help me here. You cry you laugh, you call me an idiot, which …fair enough, then you hit me and cry again.”
My voice comes muffled, “Aren’t you used to consoling broken hearts?”
He chuckles again.
“Guilty as charged, but…” pressing a trembling kiss on my hair he inhales deeply, “Mine was never the one in danger before.”
I sniffle and kiss him slightly, wetting his face, “So sappy!”
Our teeth bump as we share another laughing kiss. We both know there’s no point being sorry. We won’t be seeing each other for a long time. How long exactly, we still don’t know but neither of us wants to waste time being sad.
We are now laying in the grass patch, away from the edge, our hands intertwined, our eyes looking up at the stars now. It’s a cloudy night but the brightest ones are still visible.
“What time do you have to leave?” I whisper after a long time of heavy silence.
“Train leaves at 7:30 a.m.”
I groan and roll to his side. He faces me too and I pinch his nose.
“Ouch! What was that for now?!”
“For making me wake up that early! The audacity!”
“Oh well, sorry princess!”
“Is your father going to drive you?”
“Yeah, we’ll pick you up at 6:30.”
I groan displeased and scoot closer as his arms wrap around me.
“We should go soon. It’s getting late and I still have to pack.”
“I know…” I say, closing my eyes.
We don’t move for another hour, staying wrapped around each other, basking in our own warmth, heart to heart, both beating as one.
So much silence. I feel my head ready to explode, filled with all the things I want to tell her. I feel my heart pounding so hard that it’s one step away from imploding. My dad is driving us both to the train station. I have already said my goodbyes to Bobby and Sam. That alone hadn’t been easy, and I’m not sure how I’m going to face this too.
I steal a small glance towards her side, sitting next to me in the back seat. I see her chest rising and falling more quickly by the minute. I see her small hands balled into fists. Her nails must be digging into her palms so hard that there’s probably going to be bruising. Tears are rolling down her cheeks. Tears she’s not making an effort to hide from me. I reach out and taking her fisted hand in mine I slowly caress each finger until I feel them relax and open up. That’s when I lace mine with hers.
The car jolts to a stop and I know that it’s almost over. I see my dad turning to the back and nodding. I nod back and reluctantly release her hand. I get out and take the small backpack out of the trunk. It closes with a thud and I see her jump at the sound. She doesn’t wait for me to open her door. She pushes it open and climbs out burying her small frame in mine and her hands circle my waist, keeping me molded against her. I place my hand at the back of her head, making sure she can hear my heart beating and I place a small kiss on the top of her head. She looks up at me and tries to smile. A forced smile that doesn’t fool either of us. I gently pull away from her embrace to turn to my father, and I’m met with a stony face, that I know masks the anguish of seeing his own son walking the same path he had, knowing exactly what’s waiting for me. We shake hands and surprisingly he tugs me towards him, patting my back hard and holy shit he hides his eyes from me as he gives us his back.
“Come on, sweetheart!” I take her hand in mine and walk towards the train platforms.
There’s still some time left before I have to board. Some guys are already seated and some are joking, laughing, or have already kissed their goodbyes. We try to find a spot in the crowded station but we can’t be that lucky, so we just stand there, surrounded by screaming, crying, people. I drop my backpack on the ground and take her in my arms. I brush some strands of hair from her face. Her skin is so warm against the palm of my hand. So soft.
She leans in my touch and closes her eyes. Slowly turning her head, she kisses my palm.
I love you, I want to say to her, but Dean Winchester here, so like an idiot I whisper, “I’ll write to you every chance I get.”
She smiles like she knows. She always knows.
“I’ll write you back. ”
Then her smile trembles a bit, “Make some friends.”
I grin, “Can’t promise that. I’m an asshole.”
The train whistle blows.
The screeching sound of the bus stopping scares me out of my daydream.
“First time traveling alone outside the city, honey?”
I jump at the proximity of the voice beside me and turning sharply to my right, I’m presented with a delicate, ivory handkerchief pushed into my wringing hands.
“Ah…yes…I’m- ”, and my voice breaks into a sob.
“There, there, It’s okay. First time is overwhelming for everyone.”
She waits as I dab my eyes, “Where ya going?”
“Ah…brother in the army?” she says with a reassuring smile
“Um-”, I mutter and I can already feel my face going up in flames.
A soft ‘oh’ makes me want to get swallowed by the cheap seat or even better, get thrown out the windows.
“Don’t worry. Love makes us do crazy things. I should know.”
“So, you think this is crazy?”
“No offense sweetie, but you look like a deer caught in headlights.”
She eyes me up and down with a frown, “You are not going to walk there alone, right? Your beau is gonna be there to get you, right?”
“…Y - yeah he told me he’s picking me up, w-why?”
“You just look like the typical rich, town girl.”
“That evident…” I let out a nervous laugh, sagging into the seat.
“First, lose the gloves and the headscarf…” she says as she reaches out to help me with it, “… and lose the bun too. You can just give your hair a brush before getting out, and here… ”, she looks in her purse, “… put this on before the last stop”, she hands me a red lipstick.
“Oh, I couldn’t. It’s…too much of a bold color on me”
“Yeah, that’s the point. You know, waltzing into town with those rosy lips and maiden look will attract real bad apples. Trust me, walk out like you own the place, chin up and look like you mean business. You must blend with the locals so most of them will leave you alone.”
I grip the lipstick tight before putting it in my own purse.
“Don’t mention it. You remind me of myself from…oh, so many years ago.”
I smile, timid.
She looks ahead with a faraway look in her eyes, “Yeah, I just hope yours will come back, hon.”
My eyes fill up again and I avert them like the old pain in her eyes had burned me. “I’m sorry.”
“Ah, don’t be. Life goes on. It always does. Found a husband, whom I love, and I’m on my way to see my grandkids. One of them works in insurance and you have no idea ho-”
Her proud rambling gets lost in the ringing in my head and the loud metallic sounds of the bus.
She gets off a couple of stops before mine. Squeezing my hand, she gave me a sweet, pitiful smile that I hated. I managed to see her meeting a tall fella as the bus sped through the streets.
Soon, too soon it seems, my stop gets announced and I get busy giving a quick brush at my messy hair and trying to put on fiery, red lipstick without drawing on my entire face. It looks weird on me. Too grown-up for the dress I’m wearing. I take off my pastel cardigan, draping over my arm as I wait for the bus to stop.
Once I got my little luggage and purse secured on me again, I check myself in the reflection of the ticket office windows, and okay… maybe I should pin these curls a bit, at least behind my ear. I look like I just woke up, damn it.
My heart beats fast in worry as I walk even faster toward the exit. I try not to look around in awe too much, just straight through the exit, to the left and then wait for him, following exactly the path I memorized.
I start playing with my watch. I’m a couple of minutes late, but he should be here any time now. What if I changed too much? What if HE changed? What if-
Shielding my eyes from the sun I try to look towards where the voice called me. The shadow steps forward, shielding me and then I’m breathless again.
The person I left on that train was a boy.
The person in front of me is almost a man now.
Clean shaved in his pristine, stiff and creased khaki uniform. The garrison cap perfectly placed on his head. His hair, from what I can see is a lot shorter but combed nicely. He’s taller. He looks taller. Maybe, it’s just the military stance he has now. He’s tan but his freckles are still visible and it just makes his eyes even more unbearable. The shirt is tight on his chest, and arms too. He looks bulkier, he looks stiff, he looks stiff and he looks good.
Me, on the other hand, must look like a hot mess. I try to tuck some rebel strands of hair in place while smoothing down my skirt, nervously.
I barely have time to say hello that I’m suddenly raised from the sidewalk, purse, and luggage forgotten at my feet amidst a chorus of whistles and laughs, as he kisses me stupid.
Chapter 13: 13. Southern Punch
A/N: so…..I have nothing to say for myself apart from the fact I crawled back to finally finish this chapter after MONTHS, my god I’m an asshole. My life is still messed up, work is a bitch, uni is a bigger bitch, but I guess I finally have some time for this.
Go away, whoever you are is what I want to say but “nngh” is all that manages to come out.
“ no,” I say rolling to my side, under me a mountain of papers I, apparently, fell asleep on. As seconds slowly tick away and lucidity seeps in my system, I open my eyes, I’m immediately attacked by sunlight.
How did I ever manage to fall asleep on this uncomfortable pile of crumpled sheets of paper and torn envelopes?
“What’s all this mess?” Chuck’s puzzled voice feels intrusive in my ears and I hate it. After last night the combination of his voice, the sunlight and the uncomfortable bed are too much to handle so I hide my head under the pillow.
“Aw that’s real mature of you. Come on, it’s past noon …again.”
“Yeah, I heard you trying to cook a little while back. Did you burn the steaks again?” I snicker, although I already know the answer. Chuck, bless his soul, is an amazing musician, the most perfect friend a person could ask for, but leave him in the kitchen alone and he’d burn water.
I’m answered by an annoyed silence and I grin into the mattress.
“Alright, alright,” I say ducking out from under the pillow, a pin roll falling on my lap, and a sense of victory evident in my voice, “I’m up”. I sit back on my heels and grimace feeling the papers crinkle under my weight.
“The hell’s all this?” Chuck asks handing me a steaming mug of coffee and pushing a pile of letters away so he can sit beside me. The sweet scent of the liquid jogs my senses to motion and I take a quick peek around me, once again seeing the mess.
“Yeah about that,” I say taking a big sip of life, “turns out, mom kept all the letters.” I try to sound nonchalant, but we both know I’m not. I look at my friend, sitting beside me with his back against the headboard, his own cup cradled in his hands trying to understand what I’m telling him.
I watch as Chuck’s face scrunches into confusion, which quickly transforms into surprise, “OH”
“Yeah,” I keep looking at him as he tries really hard not to look too excited about it. Well, I can’t blame him. He only knows the minimum I could bear to tell him, never even seen Dean’s portrait because I usually cover it, even if it’s on display on my vanity mirror. Somewhere deep in my mind, I believe that if Chuck learns everything, if he sees his face, it will make all of this even more true. Even more painful. And I really don’t know how much more sorrow I can handle without breaking.
“Can I r-”
“Uh uh, be my guest,” I answer, a little too quickly as I get up from the bed, the screeching sound of paper following my moves. “I already know how that song ends and I don’t need an encore. I’ve got shopping to do”
I stop just on the door, looking back at him, “ so, do I have to cook something?” His grin and shrug tells me everything I need and I sigh, stretching my arms.
“ Are there more steaks in the icebox?”
Do I need those shoes? Real question, I ask myself as I scan another shopping window. I mean they look as uncomfortable as they are beautiful which makes me want them even more. No…no, I already spent half of Crowley’s overtime pay on that new silhouette everybody going crazy about.
“Ugh…” I wave them goodbye and walk to the diner on the other side of the road. It’s fairly late, the sun having already traveled to the other side of the earth a couple of hours ago. All the bags are hanging heavily, digging into my arms and adding more strain on my feet. I had to go shopping in high heels, didn’t I? Fog is starting to set dampening my coat and seeping all the way to my bones. Fall has finally settled in for good.
The very light, almost indistinct, drizzle is slowly ruining my hair making the sleeping with the pin curls worthless by now. I blow into my frozen hands, damn me, I forgot my gloves, before entering the diner.
“Welcome. Table for one?” the waitress greeted me, trying to sound polite and cheerful and miserably failing the second part. She’s in her late thirties, taller than me and thin enough to make that suit she’s wearing evidently look the wrong size.
“Yes, thank you. Is there a seat by the window available?”
“Sure is ma’am, right this way”
Did she just call me “ma’am”? How old do I really look?
I follow the waitress in a corner booth near the window, without letting my inner question register on my face. I drop the bags of groceries on the bench across from me and slump on my side of the booth. The waitress is standing above me, her pen tapping impatiently on the small notepad waiting to take my order. As soon as I have placed my order she gives me a forced smile and leaves. I shed my damp coat and drape it over the seat, hoping it will warm up a bit and my gaze returns to the street and that damn shop and damn shoes.
While I wait, my mind wanders off to those letters again and I’m pretty sure Chuck is reading them all, avidly. Frowning a little I recall that they seemed a lot. I mean, we wrote so much, but still, that pile was bigger than I remembered. Not daring to let my mind wander in a different direction, I think that there must be some not related letters in there. Maybe some of my father’s business correspondence.
It’s been a while since I’ve thought about my dad. Images of him sitting in his chair, smoking his pipe and reading his newspaper creep in my head and I can feel tears brimming in my eyes. Trying to stop those tears from ruining my makeup, I turn my head a little to the right and my gaze lingers on a man wearing a long dark coat. He’s standing under a streetlight, lighting up a cigarette, and not caring about the light rain falling on him. The way the tiny droplets are shining under the soft light in complete contrast to the darkness that has grown thicker makes him look like he doesn’t belong here. Like he’s emerged from a sad story that needs to have a happy ending. The smoke that slowly comes out as he exhales is thick and white and just makes the whole temperature outside seem a lot colder than it is. Suddenly something seems to grab the stranger’s attention as his head sharply turns to the side. The big smile that blossoms on his face is pretty clear even from where I’m sitting and I can’t help but watch as his arms open wide only to be filled a second later by an excited girl throwing herself in them, laughing.
I’m laughing on his lips as he slowly puts me down. I can feel his roaming hands sliding up my back, crinkling my shirt and probably untacking it too. As my feet touch the ground, finding balance again, his hands stop at my jawline. Angling my head up, I can finally see him up close and lose myself in his eyes. The same green eyes that had looked at me just a few weeks ago and have been keeping my heart a prisoner ever since. Those few weeks seem a lifetime away right now, I think. How I have missed the tiny specks of gold that dance in them, catching the light from the bus terminal as he looks at me in adoration.
Without ever having asked for anything when I known deep inside I would have given him everything.
His fingers swipe a treacherous, little tear that I didn’t know escaped. Closing his eyes, he sighs and touches my forehead with his. We stay there, just enjoying the fact that we are finally breathing the same air again.
I don’t really know how much time has passed, how long we have been standing like that just holding each other but slowly and steadily I begin to take notice of the noises that surround us. Voices cheering and hands clapping.
“Way to go Winchester!” someone whistles loudly.
“This is better than the pictures”
A falsetto voice sings in the distance, “Oh, Gabe, babe. You don’t treat me like that no more” followed by some cursing words that would have my mother faint should she ever hear them. I feel a surge of warmth wash over me and I move back a little, covering myself behind Dean’s body, ashamed.
He chuckles and I feel him turn around.
“Yeah, yeah, ya bunch of assholes. Bugger off already. I have a lady to escort.”
“Boo, you are no fun!” fake annoyed remarks are heard from different directions along with a louder “Spoilsport!”
“Hey, Winchester! Tomorrow is the big shipping. Don’t tire yourself too much if you know what I mean.” shouts a scrawny, black-haired kid who’s standing closer to us than the rest as he turns to leave, waving and smiling.
“Fuck off, Tran.”
I watch his smiling profile salute his friends as they all climb in the jeep and drive away. Tugging at his sleeve and rising on the tip of my toes I place a lingering kiss on the corner of his mouth.
“Don’t call me Lady.”
He watches me surprised first and then he blushes, his stupid, cocky smile appearing again. Bending to my side he grabs my purse and luggage, securing them on one arm.
“Shall we?” he asks, offering me his arm.
My hand fits perfectly in the hollow of his elbow, and I take it squeezing it, eagerly.
“Here’s your drink.”
The sharp sound of glass hitting the table scares me and I jump slightly in my seat.
“Food will be here in a jiffy.”
The waitress, still wearing the same tired and ‘I’m fed up with my life’ smile, turns to leave and I barely have time to stutter “y-yes, thank you” which I’m sure she hasn’t heard, to her back
Someone put on some music at the jukebox. The soft jazz tunes lift my spirits. Well, they try hard anyway. The deep rumble of the bass accompanied by the louder and more demanding tone of the saxophone help me start to relax. I, absentmindedly, play with the straw of my drink, swirling it gently and gazing at the bubbles. Drinking something sweet should always help, and it does as I sink into the seat. The sweet music and the warmth of the heater finally seep into my skin and I feel my face burning a bit, my cheeks are probably looking as red as fire. I take my hat off and adjust my curls turning towards the window to look at my reflection. I clean a smudge of lipstick and tuck a rebel curl behind my ear.
God, I’m so tired.
And not just physically. The emotional tiredness is the one I can’t handle. It’s the kind of tiredness that never goes away regardless of how much sleep or rest one gets.
Well then. That’s why the waitress had called me ‘ma’am’.
Looking past my image on the window I spot the couple again. They’re still there, sharing a smoke. They are talking, the girl animated, with big hands gestures, the man is mostly listening to her with a little smile and warm eyes.
“You gotta know, Y/N, I swear. My drill sergeant is an asshole. A complete asshole. He knew I was planning on going into the city today. He damn tried to tire me off, squeezing me as much as he could and, damn him, he made me run some miles just before I got to the dessert, which I missed, by the way, fucking asshole. I don’t know why he has it with me. I swear I’ve been nothing but pleasant and-”
I watch him as he is talking fast and agitated while we walk. His free arm carrying my luggage swinging as he gestures furiously. His eyes bright and vibrant like those of a small child that has just got a new toy and is showing it off to his friends. He is walking fast and with sure steps almost like he’s marching and I can hear him getting out of breath. Me too, along with him.
“I mean, how and why? Some guys in our company are right out idiots and for sure they make more trouble than me, but he just won’t get off my ass.”
He keeps talking and walking and waving his arms in exasperation. He looks all adorable and handsome and the uniform he’s wearing is doing things to me. I shake my head a little trying to focus on what he’s saying again and not on how good he looks and how much I have missed him. I tag at his arm like a kid wanting her parents’ attention. He shifts his gaze to me, waiting.
“Um…I asked my dad about it. When you wrote about that …all 40 times you wrote about that. It seems to him that he’s pushing your limits and giving you that much attention because he sees that you have potential-”
He is looking at me and I can almost hear his mind’s gears spinning.
“- so ‘Quit whining son and listen to him. Promotions are definitely coming. He’s preparing you for higher duties’. ” I say mocking my father’s voice.
“…but pie.” he protested. “I missed pie, babe.”
“You can have all the pie you want when you can answer to the rank of Lieutenant Winchester or even Captain Winchester.”
He stays silent for a couple of seconds before smiling lewdly. He bends down and whispers in my ear in that tone of voice he knows he shouldn’t use because, Jesus H Christ. In my head, that tone is classified as illegal on the counts that it’s too hot to handle.
“Oh…wouldn’t you like that?”
My voice sounds barely sure as I try to get my shivers under some damn control.
“Say it again.”
He’s not fair.
“Oh stop it, you!”
His hand sneaks around my waist and brings me closer to his side. He looks around as we walk and touch his cap before looking down at me.
I roll my eyes, blushing. “Captain Winchester”
He smiles dashingly, and I’m so weak for it but before I can insult him he takes off his cap and covers our faces catching my lips in an equally illegal kiss.
As if through a tunnel, somewhere far away, a voice disturbs my reverie and pulls me out of the kind of memory that has kept me company all those years. A kind of memory that I want to keep buried because it reminds me of what I can never have again but at the same time still gives me a strange satisfaction. I blink my eyes, pushing those thoughts aside and regretting it, as a hand pats me gently on my shoulder.
“What?!” I ask and my tone is a mixture of annoyance and startle.
“You alright, ma’am?”
Here we go with the ‘ma’am’ again.
“Oh…yes. Yes, sorry.” I apologize as I realize that my choice to live in his past is not the waitress’s fault. “I’m just tired, thank you.”
The tired waitress shoots me a sympathetic look I know all too well. It’s the look of camaraderie that two women working different, long, long hours can share and understand. The fact that my tiredness comes from a pain which resides in my heart is a whole different issue, though. She adjusts the plate in front of me, straightening the cutlery in an effort to do her job as well as she can.
“Can I bring you anything else? Some coffee? I can brew a fresh batch.”
Suddenly her eyes are warmer. Still deeply bored, but warmer. I give her a grateful, tight smile and shake my head.
“No, thank you, this is already perfect,” I answer instead.
She smiles again and it feels actually genuine. She leaves me to myself, dragging her feet behind the counter and probably thanking me in her mind for not asking her to brew that fresh batch of coffee. Tossing my hair behind my shoulder, I drape the napkin on my lap, suddenly eager to eat, now that I can breathe in the delicious, hot food.
Eating feels kinda nice and I school myself to actually enjoy it and not stuff my face full as the realization of how hungry I truly am just kicked in. Slowing down my chewing I try to think of all the things I have to do this week. Bills are due at the end of the month and for once we are ready for it, with some spare to get ourselves the new heater. I’ll have to speak to Chuck about some new songs I heard on the radio that I want to include in our setlist, just to modern things up a bit. I’ll also try to convince him to use his own music that I know he keeps writing and hiding for me but at the same time failing miserably because he’s a disaster and leaves his stuff everywhere around the apartment. I have repeatedly tried to kick some sense into him and show him exactly how talented he is but he keeps brushing me aside, not believing in himself. Not even half as much as I believe in him.
Oh right! I should also take some of my dresses and his white shirts to the dry-cleaners. And I need a new bottle of liquid stocking.
Drinking distractedly from the straw, I try to mentally check each item on that list hoping that way I’ll memorize it. I know I’ll forget half of those things when I get home, but at least I’m pretending. A movement outside my window catches my attention and out of the corner of my eye, I see the young couple from before crossing the street and approaching the diner’s door….
“Dean-” I mumble under my breath, looking around for anyone who might be listening or seeing this grown man playing with the bell-like a little kid.
“Stop it!” I hiss, snatching the reception bell.
“Aw come on.”
He pouts that adorable pout and I’m almost inclined to give that bell back but I opt to be the adult here.
“One should expect a soldier to have some diligence and follow instructions” I chastise him.
“It says ‘ring for help’ right there” he answers, pointing at the small sign that is on the desk.
“It says ‘ring and WAIT for help’”
I roll my eyes and switch my weight on my left foot, leaning on his side. I close my eyes, relishing the support his body is giving me and at the same time breathing in his scent. I feel his hand gently stroking my head and half-open my eyes to look up at him.
“You look tired,” he says, meeting my eyes with a warm, concerned gaze.
“Yeah, it was a long ride.” I say nuzzling my head against his hand, “but worth it.” I breathe out, opening my eyes completely to hold his loving stare. We are still looking at each other like two idiots, lost in each other, when the concierge pops up out of nowhere, making us both jump and regain some kind of dignity.
“How may I help you?” He asks, looking at us behind a lowered pair of glasses. He seems to have been taken out of an old comic book. All stiff and serious, dressed in black trousers, a black vest and white shirt, complete with a small, black bow tie.
“I booked a single room under the name Winchester.”
My eyes shoot up at him, blushing and frankly being kinda shocked.
“Dean, what th-” I start but he cuts me off.
“Only the best for my little sis.” he continues, wiggling his eyebrows at me and my mouth quickly shut tight.
Yeah, sister, of course, of course. Get a grip, come on.
“Of course. Room number 29,” he says looking up from the register at him and then at me and I feel my cheeks burn scarlet red.
“Will you be needing any assistance?” He asks, turning around to grab the keys.
“Nah, man. I got this.” Dean replies, swinging my luggage and snatching the keys from his hands.
“Understood. Have a pleasant stay. Sir, Miss.” the concierge nods at us and Dean drags me away.
The ride in the elevator is silent and awkward as we stay out of touch in the presence of the operator who, I’m sure, must have made a million scenarios about us in his mind. I watch the floors’ numbers blink and soon enough a *ding* lets us know we’ve reached our floor. Dean leaves a tip to the boy who thanks him and bows his head towards me. I dare a shy smile and I get out of the elevator. I walk next to him as he turns left and stops outside the door of my room, opening it for me.
I step in and quickly move to the window.
“Oh my…we are so high up! Look at this!” I say excitedly, clapping my hands and jumping up and down. When I hear nothing, I turn around. Still standing in the doorway, Dean is shifting his weight on his heels, looking awkward and lost.
“What are you doing there? Come on in” Invite him, waving my hand for him to come closer.
He has already put my stuff down on the floor inside the room but still makes no move to walk in. I stare at him confused, waiting.
He clears his throat and stuffs his hands in his pockets, “Uum, I shouldn’t.”
Still confused, I walk up to him, a question on my face.
“I-I mean…” he tries before vaguely waving his hand at the room and the corridor outside, “Yeah… ” He’s even more confused than I am.
I am standing right in front of him now, the tips of our shoes almost touching.
“Why are you worried? It’s your Lil’ sister hotel room anyway. Am I right?”I whisper, my hand smoothing down the lapel of his jacket, tracing the stitches that make up his name with my fingertips.
When he doesn’t answer I look up at him, catching him following my hand as it straightens his tie. I smirk as I notice how his throat bobs and the swift movement of his tongue wetting his lips.
“Y-yeah, right. Um, of course.”
Wrapping my hand around his tie I tug at it, dragging him stumbling inside as the door closes behind us.
[Dean’s pov ]
I stand here, right at the entrance of the room, like there’s an invisible obstacle in front of me stopping me from getting inside.
She’s standing right there in front of me, inviting me to step in.
And I want to. I want to take her in my arms, I want to keep her there and never let go. I want to kiss her hair and allow myself to sink in the pools of her eyes, touch her cheek and trace her pulse vein till I can trace it no more.
But my brain doesn’t want to cooperate as I keep standing there till she’s almost fed up with my motionless body.
I watch her mesmerized as she walks towards me slowly, taking each step carefully till the shiny tips of her shoes touch my dusty army boots. Her fingertips are tracing the lapels of my uniform and roam over my name, stitched over my heart. The way she caresses each and every letter sends shivers down my spine. Slowly, she wraps her hand around my tie and pulls me in the room. If I die right now, right here, I’ll die a happy man. I mumble something stupid and the door closes behind us.
I sigh tiredly, leaning against my room’s door I just closed behind me, my head pounding even after the hotel’s coffee. Thank god that was decent, I mumble angry again over the fucking, fancy names of the rich people’s breakfast meal. Why is it that difficult to call eggs fucking eggs and who in God’s name thought it was a good idea to swap bacon for whatever that mushy, french thing was.
Creamy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.
That’s all one poor sob needs after a long night in the company of lady whiskey. My rumbling stomach won the argument in my head and I managed to eat almost all of the things I had ordered. I discarded my hat and coat, took off my jacket. Rummaging in my pockets I find the note the concierge had handed me in the hall, a telephone number I didn’t recognize and informed me that the person leaving it had been looking for me.
As soon as the beeping on the other end of the line stops.
“Winchester,” I say, stifling a yawn
“Am I already boring ya?” a low, musical southern drawl wakes me up immediately.
“Son of a bitch -”
“My, thank you.”
“Your brother told me where you were staying. So… How’s life treating you in the city, big shot?”
I take in consideration the big block of cement that’s pushing against my temples, as my fingers squeeze the receiver, “Peachy.”
“That bad, uh?”
Smiling, I toe off my shoes and sit on the bed, loosening the tie and unbuttoning my shirt.
“Well, I gotta say, pies need some work. On the other hand, booze has some quality. ”
“Oh, is that what you were doing last night? And here I thought you ditched me for some broad.”
My heart stuttered for a moment. I almost fooled myself into forgetting why the bottles in my hotel room are mostly empty.
“Y-yeah. So what you called for?”
“… alright. Well, listen. I heard you’ll be in town for the next two days so I was just gonna ask you out ”
“My, my Lafitte… That’s no way to ask a girl out.”
“Sorry love. I’m rusty. Would you do me the honor of accompanying me tomorrow for a night of debauchery and morning regrets?”
I bark an ugly laugh, “Sounds delightful.”
“Amazing. I’ll pick you up at twenty hundred hours.”
Still smiling I end the call, get up and walk to the bathroom, rolling my sleeves up. The faucet handle squeaks and I let the water run, waiting for it to get hot and steamy. Studying my reflection, I rub my jawline. I need a shave before the meeting with the suppliers.
I’m here sitting stiffly on the bed, listening to the water running in the bathroom where she disappeared in a blur of fabrics and …stuff.
“I’m just gonna freshen up a bit. I won’t be long.”
That’s what she had said and disappeared into the bathroom, carrying her small suitcase.
So now I’m sitting here like an asshole, not daring to move an inch, because I didn’t hear the door close.
I didn’t hear the freaking, bathroom door close!
I’m sitting here, looking at my hands, fumbling with the crease on my pants and brushing away some invisible lint, because I dare not look up. I dare not look towards the door.
I can hear her moving around, fabric swishing and something clattering on the counter, and then she starts humming.
Without being able to stop, I raise my eyes and look at the door that is left ajar. And then, I can do nothing but stare. I catch glimpses of her as she’s moving in the small bathroom. I notice her full skirt lying on the floor in a cloud of silk and tulle, her shiny black pumps hidden underneath. Lots of images began forming in my head and they are abruptly halted by what I see coming into view.
Through that slit of the door, I see her leg as she’s probably trying to discard her stockings. She must have placed it on the bathtub and I can do nothing but follow her fingers as they are slowly unclasping her garter. After the clasp is undone, they move under the elastic of the stocking and slowly begin to lower it. The way her palm is skimming over her thigh, moving lower over her calf…I can feel all that under my palms, my skin remembering hers. As she bends to take off her rolled down stocking, I see the waterfall of her hair come into view. Passing her hand over it, she flips it on the other side of her head thus giving me a good look at her beautiful face.
She proceeds to repeat the same, torturous ritual with the other stocking and I’m sure I won’t be able to stop myself from getting into the bathroom if I don’t stop looking right now.
So, I lower my gaze, searching for that invisible lint again, scratching my head, checking if I still have mud from the training trail or gunpowder.
“Well? How do I look?”
Her voice pulls me out. She’s standing at the door frame of the bathroom, looking at me and making a small twirl.
Gone were the skirts and tulle and petticoats. Gone was her ladylike shirt and discarded was her cardigan. What I see in front of me, staring back is something that I have to invent new words in order to describe. Her hair is half tied in the back of her head, letting soft curls frame her face. She’s wearing the white and red polka dot shirt that I love so much and a pan of loose-fitting, dark blue trousers. Her waist is so tiny, with a belt tightly around it and the tips of her shoes are barely visible under the hem of the slacks.
Excited, blushed cheeks…
Wide, beautiful eyes…
Full, cherry red lips…
“Heavens this place is so noisy, how can you even hear what I’m saying” she whines as we wait to cross the busy street. The traffic, the noise, the bustling of people, the smell…. “everything is so …..”
“…insufferable?” I say with that grin of ‘I know you and I’m gonna be a little shit about it’ , and I mean I’m not wrong but do I want her to give me the satisfaction?
She really doesn’t.
I snort gracelessly.
Finally, the traffic light shines in green and like the suburban gal that she is, she starts to cross the street. I just grab her in time, harshly, as a gush of wind, dust, and gasoline assault our noses, a car horn blasting ferociously. Her hands automatically trying to keep her skirt down, only to be glad she had decided on wearing pants.
“Jesus sweetheart!” I breathe in her ear, hot and heavy, squeezing her to me.
Some murmurs around us about “these youths” and “ there is no shame anymore” quickly make the job of detaching us from one another and we finally cross the street, red-eared and quick-paced.
We end up stopping at a soda shop to recover. Although we are well into autumn, the air is still hot. She waits for me, sitting at the window booth and witnesses the quick, heartfelt exchange between me and the owner.
A quick salute, a firm handshake, and a warm shoulder squeeze.
I’m met with her quizzical head tilt.
“Old George there is a veteran from the great war. He just took me and the guys as his little rascals. Was pretty angry at us most of the time, didn’t like seeing the uniforms, but..” I say proudly, “… my charm won him over”.
“..your charm, sure Dean.”
“Hey! I’ll let you kno-mmpfh… ” She silences me with a fry.
The filter hangs half-chewed from my lips as I snap out of it, the glasses still trembling after Benny’s hand knocked on the table.
“Where were you?”
“The fuck do I know?!” I snap, Benny’s eyebrows shooting up and I squeeze my eyes. “Sorry brother, just…tired from my meeting.”
His eyes see right through me but, bless this motherfucker, he just fills my glass once more.
“As I was saying….” he shoots me another glance while inhaling from his cigar. He had picked up the habit in Belgium. I hated it and still do. “… I scored a nice, rusty scrap of metal in a town couple of miles in the dead ass of nowhere. So I was wondering if you still-”
“Yeah yeah, I can take a look at it.”
“Oh yeah? You still get your hands dirty?”
I grab a big mouthful of stingy, dry whiskey, let it dance and burn in my mouth before resting my back against the chair.
“ ‘course I do. Bobby still manages the shop. Even if now it’s more of a scrap yard, but I still like the oil on my hands every now and then.”
“ Great, because she looks helpless but, brother, I gotta tell you. She’s a beauty.” Benny grabs his hat after putting out the cigar into his mostly empty glass and I get up with him extending my hand to him.
“Friend’s discount,” I say smirking, “For old times’ sake.”
He slaps my hand away and grabs me by my shoulder, tugging me with him. “And here I thought you would do me a ‘got my bacon saved by Benny a couple of times’ discount. Come on Chief. I don’t think the night’s over. I’m too sober to sleep, and you are too smug for your own good.”
We get out in the busy night street, breath mingling with my almost finished cigarette smoke.
“Oh? Whaddya have in mind then?” I say, putting my hat back on and tightening the lapels of my coat around my neck.
Damn, it’s cold.
“Well, I work in a bar. More of a rathole really. But there’s good music, cheap alcohol and one smoking hot broad with a voice of a canary”.
My heart makes a treacherous leap. He couldn’t mean….
Chapter 14: Love Martini
finally got to the steamy part. Not super graphic, but it’s unprotected ( don’t ever risk it ). The story keeps going back and forth in the reader’s present and her past, and from joy and carefree to angst and angst and also angst
- flashbacks are in italics
“So… ” I said squeezing myself to his arm, “… what have you planned?”
He slows down, hands in his pockets, looking around aloof. “Shopping in the new fashionable mall, high tea at this place I spotted and then fancy dinner at the Ritz-”
“- with violins and a lirica singer and-”
“and to finish…” he said looking down at me, “The Opera.”
I look at him, speechless. But before my bubbling anger can reach its limit point, his face does the thing I love so much.
“You are such an asshole!”
Barking a loud, ugly laugh, he tugs at me and I make a sharp turn around the street. In front of us is the entrance of a park.
“Figured out this is more in tune with both of us…am I wrong?”
Slapping his arm slightly, “Yeah, this can do…I guess.”
“I guess?” He repeats in fake shock while that small smile still plays at the corner of his lips.
I leave his side and skip toward the first path to the right and, turning around to face him, I rest my hands on my sides. “Oh Dean, you could take me for a drive on a dusty road, listening to your loud, ugly music and that would be enough for me.”
“Ugly..?” he spluttered “ … you little-”
I follow Benny down the poorly lit streets. He knows a different path than me, little, dirty alleys and quick ways.
But no matter how many turns we took, no matter how many times he stopped to greet his friends… My sense of direction had always been perfect so I knew exactly where we were. But even if that sense would abandon me, I could feel it. Deep inside my bones. In my heart.
That I was getting closer. To what, though?
A hope that was burning inside me, not as wildfire. No. More like the flame of a flickering candle. Because the last thing I wanted was to have that misunderstanding, that lie, that hope, stumped out.
I get dragged back to the present as, here and there, Benny stops to say hi or he gets stopped by friends or just random people that know him from his job.
“Wow, I never knew you could actually make friends.”
“Awe, chief…you know I only have eyes for you.”
“Shut your trap!”
“With my work, it’s only natural to have regulars. Also, I’ll have you know that I’m a delight.”
“Like German shrapnels in the ass.”
He gasps offended, “You wound me, Sir!”.
After a couple of more turns, we end up in a dark back alley. I can hear the muffled jazz music and the mixed voices of the patrons. Tapping three times on the rotten, wooden door I almost reach out an arm to stop him. Because …because I’m not ready.
Because I don’t want to see her.
I don’t want to see her flirting.
I don’t want to hear her warm voice.
I don’t want to see her with-
“Benny, you son of a gun. It’s your rest day! What the hell are you doing here?”
“Good evening to you too.” he laughs before stepping aside. “This is an old friend of mine. Just thought I could show him around the best hellhole of the city.”
“Did he drag you here with false promises of a good drink?” The man asks me.
“Nah…just cheap booze and pretty legs.”
“Ah, then you really are his friend. Come in, come in.”
As we are led inside, my eyes adjust to the dark and dim red lights of the place. We both walk with ease behind the backstage, between instruments laying against brick walls, cases of alcohol and performers waiting.
“Say, is the boss in the house tonight?” Benny asks the man who had greeted us at the door.
“Just Chuck, Crowley is in his other establishment.” the friend says before leaving us to shout at some drunk customer who sneaked in through the back.
“Oh, thank God. Dean, my man, we drink free tonight.”
“Who’s-” I clear my voice, “Who’s singing tonight?”
Benny turns around, a knowing smirk on his face, before grabbing a waitress that was passing by, probably on her way to her break.
“Hey, love, who’s on tonight?”
“Ah, just a jam session. Chuck has some new tunes.”
“Thanks, darling.” He turns to me with an apologetic look, “Sorry Chief. No eye candy tonight.”
“Oh well, in that case, I can leave.” I joke before getting dragged into the loud crowd by Benny.
Thank you, Jesus Christ, in heaven and all the Saints.
The main ballroom opens in front of us and yes…I can confirm it is the place I feared. So Benny knows Y/N. And Benny was the bartender who had treated me that night. He probably hadn’t seen me well, dark as this place is.
We get seated at the bar counter and Benny unceremoniously hops on it and slides to the other side of it.
“Dude…come on we are out to have fun.” I protest.
“Nah. I’ll serve you tonight. Also, this…” he says stepping back and opening his arms, “… this is my reign, and..” grabbing a bottle from under the counter and two glasses, “I’m the king.”
We clink our glasses together and whatever he puts in them goes down smooth and dangerously delicious.
“Damn that’s good!”
Benny sucks air between clenched teeth, leaning on the counter, “So, how is it going for you?”
“Ah…I can’t complain. Got a decent freelance job that keeps a roof over my head and warm pies on my table and I get to help Bobby at the shop too. Not that he needs it though, son of a bitch could still kick my ass. But…” I pause smiling, “I get by easily, life’s good.”
“That’s great to hear, but I was talking about…” he points a finger to my chest.
“Oh…well, you know me. Gals go crazy for scars.”
He barks a throaty laugh, “Ain’t that right!” and he pours another round before slipping out his cigarette tin.
“I can’t believe you still have that,” I say as he hands me one.
“Why should I toss away my lucky charm?”
Who am I kidding? I still have her photo, rumbled up in my wallet. Fuck it. Lucky charms. What luck has brought me here, now?
I reach for it, feeling its weight on my hand, my fingers passing over the deep gash left by a German bullet.
The thick mud slows down my legs. Cold, hard rain hits my face with violence as I run towards the next position. Over my head, I can hear the bullets whistling past me, then a muffled sound and in the corner of my eyes I see Powell being thrown back, sharply.
Someone’s already calling for a medic. The scream is already far behind me.
I can’t stop. I can’t stop. If I stop, the mud, dirt, and blood will drown me.
I’m clutching the rifle with numb fingers, gritting my teeth and praying that my legs won’t fail me yet. Just a couple of yards. A couple of more yards between me and the next foxhole.
There’s a whistling sound getting closer.
“Shell!!” I barely have time to shout to the others before hitting the ground, hands on the helmet to shield my eyes. Dirt and water rain fall on me and it feels warm. It shouldn’t be warm. We are in the middle of the frigging Belgium winter, what the fuc-
I smell copper.
There’s an eerie silence before the chocked screams pierce the air.
“Medic!!” I yell, crawling.
My already soaked pants sticky with mud, slow me down.
Reaching Srg. Clark, I slap away his hands that are clutching his clothes and I press down. His blood warms my hands as I try to keep applying pressure.
“Hey man, you tripped or something?” I say, trying to joke but I’m betrayed by my trembling laugh.
“…fuck off Winch-..chester…”
“Come on man, you gotta keep the pressure while I check if they got your ass too.”
“Eh, man! I knew you were after it” he chokes, wetly.
“I need a medic!!” I shout again before assessing the rest of the injuries. I make sure he keeps his hands on his stomach as I feel his legs for shrapnels. Hips appear uninjured, thighs too, knees feel go-
Something sharp scratches my fingers before they sink in mud. I swallow and take a quick look.
“It’s not… that bad,… I can’t even… feel it,” he whispers, faintly.
“Hey…!” I say, gently slapping his cheek, “… not a good time to nap. You still need to - I need a fucking medic here! - you still need to hear the rest of the joke!”
He closes his eyes, lips trembling, “Bet it sucks.”
“No, no, no come on!! Stay with me Clark!! Come on!”
A gurgling sound is his only answer before he grows heavy and lifeless in my hands.
Someone crashes into me, “Here!”.
“Too fucking late!” I say, ripping off the second dog-tag. Not waiting for the answer, I straighten my helmet and run towards death again.
The fire has not stopped, relentless and loud and I keep running, legs screaming, hands still warm with blood.
Almost there. I keep repeating to myself, wondering if the next bullet or shell will be for me.
Please not yet.
I still haven’t written back to Sammy. I still haven’t read her letter.
Almost tripping over someone that fell, I regain my speed, cursing to myself “Jesus, focus!”
Finally, I see the first that had made it, huddle together where the ground was a little higher and too close to the line for the shells to hit.
With a last sprint, I drop exhausted beside one of my men, slipping on the mud, my run ending on top of-
“Christ, Winchester!” Someone grabs me by the webbing, tossing me to the side.
“Lafitte!” I gasp, winded.
“Fancy meeting you here.”
Collapsing, I try to control my breathing, glad to give my legs a break. He bumps my helmet.
“You took your sweet time. Getting slow I see, Chief.”
I throw him a dirty look and a dirtier gesture. Something passes in his eyes for a fraction of a second as he takes the state of my hands before the cold, rational manner of war, sinks in again.
“Not mine.” I say dismissing him, “Clark’s.”
He nods and we stay silent for the couple of seconds we allow ourselves to mourn, pray or whatever the fuck are we supposed to do in this situation.
“How does it look?”
“Well, they are getting tired. I’ve been here half the battle and I’m pretty sure they are going to either retreat or call for air support. Which they probably won’t since that town is not a high profile target. Nah, I think they will just hit us with whatever the fuck they have left and regroup to the next line.”
More and more of our platoon’s men come into view approaching our mostly safe position as our CO keeps shouting into the radio a few steps from us.
“Seems like we have one last piece of land to score.”
“Gonna race me, Winchester?”
“You’re lucky I have a nice ass. At least, you’ll have something pretty to look at.”
After what felt like hours, the German fire, finally, ceases leaving the field scattered with shell’s craters and men. Some screaming, some not anymore. We know we suffered some losses but from what I can see, most of us made it through. We all look up as our platoon leader receives his orders.
“We need to secure the target, but first -”
‘Uh oh’ we all think.
“- suicide run.”
Our CO scans the faces of his fastest men. We are all exhausted, cold, covered in mud and blood. It’s not an easy task and it never falls light on one’s conscience to choose one of us to play chicken. My legs ache but I’m fine. I’ve had time to recover.
“I’ve got it, Lieutenant.”
Benny says, blocking my arm. A somber silence falls on the company.
“Alright, Lafitte. In your own time.”
Sanders checks his rifle and gets into position behind the collapsed wall.
He flips open his tin, takes a cigar out, lights it up and drags in a few breaths before handing it to me.
“Keep it burning. I ain’t letting you finish my finest tobacco.” Adjusting his webbing, and securing his rifle, he crouches near the starting point ready to sprint.
“You better finish this yourself. It’s disgusting.” I say, squeezing his shoulder.
A quick nod to our marksman and Benny sprints forward.
I watch him, helpless, as he runs zigzagging through ruins, and then the first shots start.
Most of them miss him by a hair, the sound of the bullets hitting walls, raising dust and the mud, louder than the actual shots. He gets to safety behind a dead cow and I can breathe again.
“Spotted the bastard,” Sanders says behind the optics and our CO signs to Benny.
Benny nods, tightens his helmet and dashes back out.
One bullet hits too close and he loses his footing, almost falling before jumping forward and crashing into me.
“Well, that was close.” he laughs, “Hey Sanders! Are you shooting with both eyes closed?”
“Sorry Lafitte, the asshole is quick. I need more time.”
Benny clicks his tongue. “Alright”, and before I can say anything he turns and runs out again. This time slower.
There are two or three more shots before Sanders finally fires, the closeness of the blast distracting me for a moment and I watch his triumphant smirk.
Then all is silent again.
I look over at Benny and my heart skips a bit.
He’s lying face up, his helmet rolled off a few inches away from him.
“Winchester, stay the fuck down!” my CO orders.
I obey, but my muscles are tense and ready, my eyes focused on Benny. “Come on, you son of a bitch. Give me a sign.” I say between gritted teeth.
“Got him.” Sanders finally says.
Not waiting for the all-clear, I run to him.
I’ve never run this fast before, jumping over holes and ruins. My feet sink into the mud, I trip and fall, but my fingers grip the soft wet ground and I’m up before I even fell.
I kneel near him, frantically search for injuries but I find nothing so I start tearing his combat jacket open. I’m scared.
“Come on, asshole.”
A low groan snaps me out of it and my hands grab his face.
“Your bed manners suck.”
“…fuck…” I breathe out, falling back on my ass, mud seeping my pants.
“What the fuck are you doing Winchester? Get him out of there!” My CO shouts.
I push the helmet in his hands and haul him over my shoulders and then I’m running. Jesus, the man is heavy.
Once we are back to safety I drop him against a collapsed wall and his stupid smirk makes me wanna punch the shit out of him.
“Where’s my cigar?”
I turn around and find it on the ground, wet and dirty. Picking it up I shove it in his mouth.
“What the fuck Benny!”
He snorts while trying to light up the useless cigar, his hands visibly trembling. A medic is making his way to us.
“Were you hit Lafitte?” he asks shoving away my hands that are still clutching his jacket.
“Oh heck yeah, I was. Asshole got me right in my heart, but…” he reaches inside his breast pocket and takes out his cigarette tin, or what’s left of it.
“Yeah, you’re gonna live. Will bruise like a motherfucker, though.” The medic pats him on the shoulder and leaves to assist the others with minor injuries.
“You lucky son of a bitch” I laugh, relieved.
“ And you said I should have thrown these away.” He winks at me and forces the tin open. “Motherf- they are all ruined! Fuck.”
He throws the most indecent swears while the others congratulate him on surviving and I just stare at the bullet lodged into the metal.
“What?” My vision swims back, slowly focusing on him, his nicely trimmed beard and clean face replacing the sweat, blood, and dirt. “Sorry, I may have drunk too much.”
He laughs, “Nonsense. Here! Have some peanuts and these…I don’t know, some kind of fancy stuffed olives.”
The music quietly stops. “Ah, it’s Chuck’s time. Finally, some decent music.”
“…” I don’t lift my eyes, my fingers playing with the food as a distraction, “What’s he like?” I ask, without fucking thinking.
“Who, Chuck?” Benny grabs a rag and starts scrubbing the counter. “He’s good people. Found me in a place worse than this, neck-deep in debt and nightmares. Squirrely guy but he brought me back from hell I guess I could say. Actually, we all have been saved by him in a way or another. I have a decent job and I like it, especially since it helps to keep a roof over my head. A leaky one, but still.”
“…and what about the singer?” I ask again against my better judgment.
“Which one?” Benny says with mischief eyes.
“I don’t know. I saw some playbill on the way here.” I lie.
My heart hurts.
“Crazy talented, almost wasted in here, actually.” There is warmth in his voice and I can tell he knows her well. “Classy, funny, drinks too much for her own good. Sweet girl, but…” he looks at the stage, “… she sings like her heart is broken.”
“Doesn’t she have a beau?” Yeah, real smooth Winchester.
Benny looks at me funny before answering. “Well, I don’t know about that. But most of the time I get the feeling she’s stuck in another life.”
“Maybe she’s got love problems with her boss or something,” I mumble.
“Who?….Chuck?” Benny’s roaring laugh turns some heads, “Oh damn, that’s funny Dean.”
“Well, it’s not the first time the helpless girl gets ‘help’ from her boss.” I hate myself right after saying this. Benny stops laughing and looks at me seriously.
“I might not know a lot about her past nor have I forced her to tell me her life story, but she is not that kind of girl, alright?”
I’m taken aback, “yeah, sorry that was uncalled for. I don’t know her.” I feel like I don’t anymore.
Eyes soft, he looks over the stage again, “Chuck and her just share an apartment. They knew each other way before I came into the picture. They are family…”
“In a sibling kinda way, you know?”
“Sure, it’s not proper and some may throw dirty looks but they don’t care. I think they are both broken and they keep each other together. As we all do, right?”
I remember that Chuck had fought in the war too, “…yeah.”
So, this means that she’s n-
The music starts and the atmosphere changes. Everything feels more classy and bright. Some people get up to dance, some stop chatting and just enjoy the music. Gotta hand it to Chuck, though. He’s good.
The mood is livelier now, the waitresses suddenly flood the room to get more orders and clearly people are enjoying themselves.
A hand grazes my back and one of them leans closer.
“Can I get you two anything?”
“Can I get you two anything?”
She raises an eyebrow watching me, head propped on her hands, and that knowing smile. Damn this girl. I love it when she looks at me that way.
After all, afternoon strolling in the park, we are both famished so I make sure to order a lot.
“Dean…this is…I’m not sure I can eat all this and…” she looks around worried, “… this place is no diner. I mean…” she blushes.
“Ah, no worries,” I say as I dig into the steaming steak. She doesn’t know I saved every little money I could.
But this is our last night together for a long time and I don’t even want to worry about this. Her nose scrunches and I know she isn’t convinced.
But the place is cozy, warm and lively, right on the river bend and she looks so pretty. Rosy cheeks from the walk, hair a bit wild but somehow still put together, she always does.
Hunger has the best of us so we busy ourselves eating, and what time we spend in comfortable silence we fill it with our feet touching under the table.
We did skillfully avoid talking about me leaving tomorrow but, as the sun dies, the feeling that our time is running out is sinking in our mind and covers us like a heavy blanket.
“Oh my lord, I’m stuffed,” she says, leaning back. I smirk and stab what little is left of her food, “ Dean…how in the heck can you still eat?”
“You gotta know…” I say chewing, “…that I’m a growing boy and I need all the nutrients to fight Nazis.” ‘Ah …shit’, something dark passes in her eyes but she recovers quickly.
“We’ll better get dessert then. You’ll need all the strength. All those muscles you suddenly developed need feeding.” She says and then her eyes widen and she looks down. I stop, fork mid-air and the piece of meat falls into my plate.
“I - I mean… well…nothing.” She blabbers and I feel my face splitting into a stupid grin. “Shut up!”
“Oh no, please talk more about how I’m ripped now.” And then with a fake offended tone, I add, “My, my Y/N! I never thought you wanted me only for my- OUCH!” I get kicked.
“No. It was only your nasty personality really.” She says pouting from behind the desserts menu.
“Two forks then,” I say, grinning.
The ice cream melts and drips down her chin and Lord forgive me but I want to lick it clean but her finger does it for me and I watch helplessly as she sucks it into her mouth and now is really not a good time Winchester, come on. I scoop up a big spoon of the icy treat and shove it into my mouth.
The brain freeze is as painful as it is helpful.
“So, what’s next?” She asks eagerly, while we are waiting for the check and relax our satisfied stomachs.
“I was thinking maybe an easy stroll along the river? Whaddya think?”
She smiles happily, “Oh yeah, that sounds lovely. I could use some help to digest all of that.”
So here we are, in the busy street that runs along the river. It’s a bit colder than I thought so I drape my jacket over her shoulders and she looks so small in it it’s almost comical.
From one of the many bars and clubs that coast along the street a familiar jazz tune plays and she starts humming. It’s late but I’m not ready to get her to the hotel just yet. I can sleep on the boat just fine.
“Hey…” I say and she looks up at me, “Want to warm up a bit in there?” She follows my hand that’s pointing at the club.
“B - but I can’t dance.”
“Well, we could also just get one last drink before I walk you back to the hotel. It’s getting late and the hotel is not that far from here.”
Biting her bottom lip, nervously, she nods and grabs my arm as I guide her to the other side of the road.
The air inside is hot and smokey, the chatter almost toppling the band but the atmosphere is exciting and fun. We manage to get a little corner table near the band and I order some fruity cocktail for her while I just get some whiskey. Gotta stay sharp for tomorrow.
Some couples are dancing and her fingers lightly tap her glass to the rhythm as she stares at them. I take this quiet moment to look at her. The candlelight, warm and red, dances on her features and I follow it moving on her exposed neck and down to where she unbuttoned her blouse when she complained about the hot air pervading this place.
She has started moving her head too now and I follow her hand as she tucks a rebel strand of hair behind her ear, my eyes falling on her wrist and my watch.
Suddenly, everything that I have been trying not to think about all day crashes onto my shoulders and down to the pit of my stomach.
Time is what we don’t have anymore. I wish I could just stop it.
I grab her wrist before I realize it. She looks at me startled and then her questioning eyes soften. Gently prying my cold fingers open, she fills my hand with her warm one, her touch feeling like a balm on my aching heart, soothing my panic away.
I raise my eyes on her and she smiles.
It’s a warm smile, a knowing smile, a sad smile and a painful one and I feel like I’m suffocating again, blood running cold and chills cascading down my spine.
I don’t want to leave.
I want to go back.
I want to go back to Sammy, to Dad and Bobby, to the shop and to the rusty cars waiting only for me to bring them to new life. I want to go back to eating dinner in my backyard, to hearing her sing while I play my guitar and Sammy is stuffing his face with pie or doing his homework like the bookworm he is. I want to go back to the smell of summer and grass and dusty roads and funnel cakes and cotton candy and greasy, delicious diner food.
“Dean..” she says worried.
“Let’s dance,” I say and she lets me drag her to the center of the dancefloor. I place my other hand on her back and hold her close to me. The rhythm is all wrong but we dance to our own tune.
Her hand slides down my chest and she places her head on my shoulder.
We dance like we have all the time in the world and I wish I couldn’t care less about the war, about my duty.
“I know…” she murmurs almost too soft for me to catch it. Letting out a shaky breath I squeeze her tighter and her hand slides up to the back of my neck. “We are going to be fine.” Her nails dig into my skin, “We are going to be just fine.”
Her body melts against mine, holding on to me like an anchor. Seeking to find in me what I seek to find in her. Reassurance, safety, hope. I know the music is still playing, I know the people are still around us. Some watching us with a bit of disapproval in their gaze, as I’m sure the way we are holding each other is not exactly appropriate. Some watching us with sadness as our need to stay like that must be more than evident. But one thing is for sure. Neither of us care. Because no matter where we are, it’s still just us. Only us, the distant hum of the music just a stranger keeping us company.
Every now and then she tilts her head up and searches for my eyes. She rests her chin on my chest and tries to read my thoughts. The only thing I can do is smile back at her, hoping that I will deceive her into thinking that I got this, all this, under control. I know we are both failing at it. I know we don’t have this under control. But we keep smiling nonetheless.
One song blends into the other, couples come and go on the dance floor, tunes change but we keep our own rhythm, we move to our own music. Just hoping and wishing that it won’t come to an end. Not yet.
Not until there’s just a small spotlight shining on just the two of us do we realize that the music has stopped and the dance floor is empty. And that’s when our feet stop moving and our arms loosen from around each other falling limply at our sides.
She looks up at me one more time and standing on her toes, she whispers in my ear, “Get me out of here.”
The walk back to the hotel is shorter than I thought. We enter the lobby before I know it and I realize she is the one guiding me back to her room and damn it, I don’t stop her until we are in front of the door.
She stops and turns around and only then do I realize her eyes are wet.
Tomorrow I will be another person. Tomorrow I won’t have time to be weak.
So I should be weak now.
I tug her sharply to me and she lets out a whimper as I crash my lips on hers. She grabs onto my shirt, crushing my body against her tiny frame and as we sink into that desperate kiss my need to feel her, to let her lips burn mine, to taste her on my tongue grows bigger, hotter, all-consuming. Slowly dragging my lips away from hers, I kiss the side of her neck slowly worshiping every single centimeter of her skin till I reach her collarbone. She keeps me close and I want to get lost in her scent, dive in this moment so I bury my head in the crook of her neck and whisper: “God, I love you…” We both inhale at the same time, trying to calm ourselves and probably failing.
Despite this first head rush, we’re trying to take it slow.
Slow and hungry.
All the sadness, all the pain, and love flows between us. Her hands are still clutching my shirt, holding on for dear life and I want to be weak for it. My arms surround her and squeeze her, our breaths mingling, lips slick and cheeks on flames as my jacket slips from her shoulders and almost falls to the ground before she catches it.
Her hands fall to my waist, forever keeping me close to her, teeth grazing my bottom lip.
“Y/N…” I protest, but she silences me with her tongue and my knees give out. Suddenly, she takes a step back and only then do I fully realize that we’re still in the hallway. Her hand reaches behind her back and slowly twists the doorknob opening the door of the room. I stare dumbfounded while she silently backs into it.
“Please…” she says, offering me her hand. She’s holding it out to me, like a puppet master controlling his favorite puppet. Leading it into new worlds, pushing it into new feelings, telling it to free fall not fearing the end.
I really shouldn’t.
Does she know what she’s doing to me?
Does she know how this is a very bad idea and I’m this weak for her?
Does she know I’m this lost?
Maybe she does or maybe she doesn’t. But I don’t care. Like a perfectly contented puppet, I reach for her hand before I can change my mind and the door closes behind us, leaving the hallway a silent witness.
I get carried away and swoop her around, slamming her against the wall, claiming her lips once again, my hands getting lost in her hair. She tilts her head and opens herself up for me and I can’t help but devour her, filthy and wet and desperate.
Moaning, she drapes her arms around my neck. I let her catch her breath and place wet kisses along her jaw and neck. She’s like warm clay, molding against me, every soft curve glued to my sharp edges and all my righteousness, my rational thinking, my need to be the gentleman I know I can’t be, my proper behavior are thrown out the window from which the light of the streets below casts the darkroom in a silver and gold light. So, I just let my body, shamelessly, grind into hers.
She lets out a breathless “ah…” and I freeze.
“Sorry…I…” I said, laying my forehead against hers, “… Jesus …I -”
“Dean…” Her hot puffs of air tingle my burning skin, “Dean…don’t care.” She stares at me and repeats in a slow whisper, “I don’t care… just…” Her fingers lace through mine, currently holding her. “Just stay with me…please.”
She raises them to her lips and kisses them one by one, staring into my eyes as she’s doing it. My lips part in an effort to control myself, to reign in the emotions that are threatening to get unleashed and I can do nothing but allow her to do as she pleases. She lowers my hand and slowly places it on her breast. I keep it there and I don’t really know what to do. I want to be the perfect gentleman but at the same time, I’m sure she can feel exactly how my body is reacting to hers. She peeks up at me, under long, lashes and hooded eyes and squeezing her hand over mine, says: “I want this! Please, I need to be yours. I can’t be anyone else’s anyway. I have been yours ever since the first time I saw you. Sometimes I think I have been yours even before I met you!”
I panic as the seriousness of her words register.
“Are…” I swallow loudly, “… are you sure? I -” I don’t even know what excuse I could use right now, my mind is foggy and full of her and nothing else, “I want you but - ”
“I want you too” she says, shoving me back. “I want you too and I don’t care what happens tomorrow … I love you and I don’t care, I…I just want you. So…” she unbuttons her blouse, untucking it from her pants, “…just stay with me tonight … please.”
‘I’m so fucking weak’ I think, before kissing her again, this time with not a hint of restraint.
I graze her neck with my fingers stopping briefly to feel her quick pulse under my fingertips and I get closer, exposing her bare shoulders. I bend my head down and place a soft kiss right where my fingers have touched her last before letting the blouse slip softly to the ground. On instinct, her arm tries to cover the bare skin but I catch it. Closing my eyes I gently place a warm kiss on the inner side of her wrist. Her breath hitches but she quickly relaxes against my touch. She trusts me so much and I know, I just know I don’t deserve this level of fondness. I have known nothing like this in these past months and it’s almost overwhelming how much I’ve missed her touch as she cups my cheek, tenderly.
Flushed and smiling shyly, she undoes my tie, letting it slide off. Her, slightly, trembling fingers unbutton my starched collar and the rest of my shirt, and I let her do it painfully slow while I loosen the cuffs. The shirt pools at our feet.
Her hands reach my neck tracing the chain trapped under my white t-shirt. With a sharp tug, she untucks and lifts it above my head, dog tags jingling loudly between us. I yank them off me and suddenly I feel lighter.
It’s just me and her and no war between us.
We stare at each other as I quickly unbutton her pants and she lets out a tiny sound once they fall to the floor. She looks so vulnerable in only her ivory silk camisole, so pretty as she bites her lips nervously when I unfasten my belt.
I tilt her chin up and kiss her.
Eagerness to feel closer catch up to us and we are now stumbling back to the bed. I feel her breasts pressed against my naked chest and I want to take it slow. God, I want to take it so slow but at the same time, I want to feel her naked skin under my hands as soon as possible. Taking off my dress shoes is easy and quick. I just toe them off unceremoniously just before my legs hit the edge of the bed and I fall sitting on it, the old springs protesting.
And here she is in front of me and I look up at her lost and completely in her power, feel her hands on my shoulders seeking leverage as she rids herself of shoes and short white socks. My hands are itching to feel her skin and my fingers dig in her thighs.
“Y/N … you gotta tell me you’re sure about this, because …” I swallow, my hands sliding up an inch, fingers playing with the lacy end of her undergarment.
She lets out a breathy, soft laugh. “When were we ever sure of anything?”
I rest my chin on her navel, looking up, “I never doubted us.”
“…never.” She repeats, faintly.
I keep my eyes locked on hers as my hands move up her body, slipping the camisole up and off of her.
I watch in a drunken daze while her hands disappear behind her back, unhooking the straps of her bra. I see the straps slowly slip down her shoulders, her arms still holding the small undergarment still over her breasts. I see her take in a deep breath and opening her arms, she releases it and lets it slip down her arms. I feel my heart beating frantically and I think it is gonna explode.
She takes my, probably, dumb face in and blushes.
Standing up, my hand runs up her back before pulling her against me. We both gasp as our heated skin finally touches. Turning her around so that she’s now standing at the foot of the bed, I kiss her like a man who’s starving and she kisses back like she knows she’s the most delicious fruit.
Supporting her back, I lay her on the bed and get rid of my pants trying not to fall flat on my face because the situation is getting out of hand. I hesitate but in the end, I finally get out of my shorts. I stand at the end of the bed and I can see her staring at me like a deer caught in the headlights and I almost ask her if she’s okay with this but she surprises me once again.
“Dean … come here.” I hear her sweet invite.
So I do as I’m told and lay at her side.
Our fingers laced together, she shifts closer, almost like she wants to hide in my arms. I leave her hand on my chest, so she can listen to my beating heart while I caress her profile, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, grazing her shoulder, ribcage and travel down to her waist. I feel her skin coming alive under my touch leaving behind a trail of goosebumps. When I reach her hips a hint of her trembling stops me. I move my hand to her lower back and pull her against me. No doubt she can feel my excitement now.
Her breath catches in her throat.
Draping kisses on her neck I make my way up her mouth, her breath hot and quick against my skin.
“Are you scared?” I whisper.
“ … Yeah, a bit.”
“ Me too.” I admit.
“That’s new.” She chuckles, softly. I snort ungracefully, peck her scrunched nose and claim her lips and she responds, her tongue searching and meeting mine and it’s like we are back on the dancefloor, but this time we are alone. We don’t have to restrain ourselves, we don’t have to keep it proper or decent and so our kisses grow urgent, quick. Draping her arms around my neck she presses herself tighter to me, bending her legs to help my hand as it is, slowly, dragging her underwear down, leaving them somewhere at the end of the bed.
I feel her melt against me as I run my fingers up her inner thigh and her tiny whimper doesn’t cover my groan when I touch her.
Her kiss grows desperate and broken as my finger slips inside her gently, deeply and she’s hot and wet and silky. We are already both familiar with this and if I was less of a gentleman, I could say that she’s ready but I know better than that. I roll her on her back and look at her.
Her eyes are shiny with unshed tears and dark with unspoken lust.
I kiss down her neck to the middle of her chest, my hand cupping her breasts squeezing gently, her nipples hard against my rough palms before my lips close over one, as I softly add another finger, trying to prepare her as well as I can. Her hand dives in my hair tugging, her nails dig in my arm as she lets out a strangled moan. It’s dirty and intoxicating and completely shatters my mind the way her legs instinctively part, trying to make room for me. The last traces of her shyness surfaces as she raises her arm and covers her eyes. I let her because I know how she must be feeling. I also know I have to make this as perfect for her as anything.
Changing side, I follow the line of her leg, tilting her knee up, making more room for me to rest between her thighs.
I move her arm away from her eyes kissing her again, open-mouthed. She angles her head giving me more access and I carefully add another finger. The stretch must be uncomfortable I realize. Her hips shift, feeling as if she wants to run away but the weight of my body keeps her right where she is. And then her knee relaxes and falls to the side.
“Dean…” She breathes out, broken.
That’s when I know.
I move over her, gently removing my hand, her hips bucking, chasing after them and I almost chuckle at her barely concealed moan of protest.
Placing my arms on either side of her I keep most of my weight off of her and I slowly lower my body so that every inch of our skin touches.
Looking down at her I take in every little bead of sweat that covers her forehead. I memorize her hair fanning out on the pillow. I hear her breathing hard. I get lost in her open, kiss - swollen mouth, her flushed scarlet cheeks, her hooded eyes staring, begging, needing.
I always wanted to see her like this. Raw emotions unchecked, clear as a summer sky.
She nods slightly closing her eyes and I kiss her forehead.
Trying to keep myself from trembling I slowly thrust my hips forward. Biting her lips she arches her back in discomfort, but her hand on my lower back urges me forward.
So, I keep pushing and her legs instinctively squeeze at the sides of my hips, her arms wrap around my shoulders and her nails dig on my skin.
She cries out a sob once I’m almost completely in, squeezing her eyes shut as she’s trying to take in everything that’s happening. The sweet pain, the most intimate moment two people can share. I stop to kiss her furrowed brow and I whisper: “Relax. I got you, sweetheart.” She blinks her eyes open, eyelashes wet, and she never looked more beautiful.
With a last thrust, we are finally one in the most human way two souls can be.
Something painful swells deep in my chest.
“I love you.” I choke, ruined against her lips.
“I love you.” she whispers back, and her hands slide up my back and rest on my cheeks.
“Are you alright?”
“I will be… just…” She lets out a breath. I know I will give her all the time she needs.
Hell… I would stay like this forever. Wrapped in her warmth, lost in her arms and her soul. Her thumb grazes my lip before kissing me sweetly. Her legs relax around me, giving me silent permission and so I draw back again and -
“Ooh God…” I choke. My head falls on her shoulder as I lose myself inside her again and she moans, weakly. I do that again, this time faster. It feels too good and, fuck, I can’t bear it. She holds on to me like I’m the only thing that grounds her. With every thrust, we fall apart and I’m trying so hard not to hurt her but I’m overwhelmed and I just want to stay lost in her. My hand runs down her thigh, guiding her leg up to wrap around my hip and everything gets so unbearably perfect. I sharply thrust into her and Jesus Christ her hips are now meeting my thrusts and I groan. Her mouth hot and wet chants my name in my ear every time I sink into her and it’s just so painfully hot and sweet and dirty that it makes me want to do bad things to her. I want to hear them louder. Those incoherent cries of pleasure. I want to make her scream and cry my name over and over again until her throat is sore. I want to take all of her and give her all of me. I want to give her all my love and every small part of my ruined soul.
“Ah… Dean… I… ah - ”
Her strangled cry gets muffled when she presses her mouth against my shoulder and she trembles in my arms, spasming around me, dragging me deeper and it’s almost painful how she falls over the edge, pulling me down with her.
To a place filled with sweet-scented, summer breezes.
To a place with sparkling, cool streams and soft grass.
To a place warmly illuminated by the light of candles and tainted with the scent of freshly baked pie.
To a place where everything is right.
To a place where there’s no clock ticking away. She has taken me with her, in her brave free fall over that edge. So I can do nothing but follow her to my own undoing. I follow her, crying out her name.
Chapter 15: Rose wine
Warning: The story keeps going back and forth in the reader’s present and her past, and from joy and carefree to angst and angst and also angst
Disclaimer: the story takes place in the first years of WWII to the years right after, but I love the style and fashion of the 50s so some of the visuals and lifestyle will be not super time accurate, especially during the flashbacks, bear with it.
- flashbacks are in italics
I open my eyes once again, for the millionth time, because I want to make sure I’m not dreaming. The first light that is so insolently creeping in the room is a sign that the day is about to start. The day that just a few hours ago seemed so far away, is now here. Making its presence known. Alerting me to the ugly truth that I’ve been trying to ignore.
She’s sleeping, her face and body turned towards me the way I’m turned towards her. I can feel her breath on my face. Her eyelashes are resting against her cheeks which are still flushed. Her lips are half open and deliciously swollen, inhaling and exhaling in a steady rhythm. My eyes follow the curve of her shoulder, travel down the line of her arm and stop at her palm which is resting on my chest. I hate the cotton sheet that’s between our bodies and I wanna pull it aside and take her in my arms. I don’t want any distance between us. Not when I know that soon, distance is all we’re going to have. But at the same time, I don’t want to wake her. No sooner than would be absolutely necessary.
So, I lay there perfectly still and look at her. I remember how her body fitted perfectly against mine. I hear my name spilling from her lips. I feel her skin under my fingertips. And the longer I stare at this perfect woman who’s sleeping in my bed I can’t help but wonder what exactly I have done right in my life to deserve her. She has gone against her mother’s order to not be with a slob like me. She has thrown every rule, she grew up with, out the window so she could be here. She has given herself to me in complete trust. She has practically shouted a huge “fuck you” extending her middle finger to the world once again and followed her strong, fearless heart. And what have I offered her in return? The feeling that in a few hours I’m gonna leave her standing at the docks, waving a small hand towards someone who she may very well not see again. How I wish I could hold her in my arms and never let go. Keep her close to my heart so that she knows that it’s beating just for her. Kiss her and make her feel how much I love her. My hand reaches out before I get a chance to control myself and brushes a strand of hair away from her forehead. Her eyelids immediately flutter open and for a second I see panic registering in her irises. My palm rests on her cheek and I smile at her. Her eyes clear up at once and she turns her head and kisses my palm. She inhales deeply and a deep sigh leaves her half parted lips.
“Good morning…” She whispers and moves a little closer so now her nose is almost touching mine.
She drapes her arm around my shoulder and I sense her fingers playing with the hair at the nape of my neck. I wanna tell her so many things but for the life of me, I can’t find any words. I wanna beg her to forgive me for the pain I will cause her soon. I wanna shout at this fucked up world to go screw itself because I have found the love of my life and I can’t let her go. Not when I haven’t had time with her. When I haven’t told her how much she means to me. When I haven’t shown her that she’s my lifeline, my source of strength, my purpose of living. I can’t let her go. And although I know that I have to follow my orders and help people who are thousands of miles away, although I have to be strong and brave and fight in a war that is raging on the other side of the world, all I wanna do is be a coward and stay here. Hide in the locks of her silky hair. Drown in the pool of her eyes. Get lost in the path of her body and let others fight, protect, kill.
But the only thing I can do is stare in silence while I scream in utter desperation inside. I stare deep in her eyes and pray to everything that’s holy to find the strength to not break down and cry. She pulls her body even closer to mine and she brushes her soft lips over mine. Her kiss is timid and slow. Careful and sad. She’s covering my lips with hers ever so lightly, over and over again. “Hold me close.” She whispers while she’s kissing me and my arm moves to her waist while her leg goes over my thigh. Our bodies are molded one against the other and I feel her warmth, smell her scent, taste her. And once again I realize exactly what I’ll lose. What I’ll leave behind. I have to tell her. Let her know what I feel, what she makes me feel, how scared I am. I have to tell her before it’s too late. “Y/N…” I start and I’m pretty sure that I will have to look away as my eyes are fighting back all the unshed tears that have come and gone during the hours we’ve spent together. Tears that I have skillfully hidden from her but all of a sudden feel like I ton on my soul, weighing me down. But before I get the chance to continue, to make a fool of myself in front of the woman I adore, she places her small finger on my parched lips and whispers: “I know…”
“I know…” She repeats softly and kissing the bridge of my nose, she closes her eyes and whispers, “You have to go, I know.”
I almost let out a bitter laugh. Not quite what I had in mind but she’s right. I do have to go back to base and grab my stuff that I had already packed. Cradling her head between my hands I kiss her, and she sighs. Pushing her back gently is almost painful. I’m up quickly, paying no attention to the pull her body has over mine. I’m up before I fall into her sweet trap again. Hearing her little gasp I turn around only to grin when I see she has covered her eyes with a pillow. I’m sure she’s blushing like a tomato under there, I snort and not wanting to stall too much, I locate and grab most of my stuff.
“I’m gonna go and take a quick shower, so you can -” looking around the room I grab her chemise and fold it on the chair near her side “- get partially dressed.”
I wait for her to peak from under her cover and relish in her crimson face as she gets a good look at me.
“Oh my gosh Dean, just get into the bathroom already!”
I laugh as the pillow hits my back.
The door closes behind me and I’m now facing my reflection. The laugh dies on my lips and the mask falls from my face.
My hands grab the sink, knuckles white and I squeeze. I’d rip the thing off the wall, smash it against the mirror that shows no pity to the fool looking into it. But I can’t. So, I just stare back, angry.
“Don’t!” I threaten, “Get a grip!” Pushing myself away I get into the shower and under the cold jet like I couldn’t care less. I’m too used to it anyway.
I don’t have a lot of time and I don’t want to waste any of it so the shower is quick and efficient just like they taught me and in less than seven minutes I’m done. Cold and shivering I put on the shorts, starchy pants, the white t-shirt, shirt, socks and shoes in the all too familiar and quick by now way I’ve been doing it the past few weeks. I quickly dry my hair with a towel, take a quick glance in the mirror to check if I have to shave later and I open the bathroom door. The image in front of me stops me in my tracks and calms my angry and tormented soul.
There she is, barefoot, with only the baby blue, silky chemise on, looking out the window, bathing in the light of dawn, gold and pink colors dancing on her skin, giving her an eerie aura as the rays of the new sun dance in her tousled hair, creating a halo around her.
She’s hugging herself, back straight and posed as usual, like the proper lady she was brought up to be. I can’t see her face, but her hands squeezing her arms betray the way she must be feeling. Silently I walk up to her, embrace her from behind. My arms wrap around her creating a protective blanket, my hands cover hers and her head rests against my chest, fitting perfectly under my chin. That’s when I feel her tension melting away. We stay like that, both looking out the window, silent, lost in our thoughts. The sun is rising in the distance, somewhere on our right bathing the world in its light. For the people of the town that is slowly awakening, the light of the new dawn symbolizes a new beginning. What do those fools really know? To me, to her, to us, the only thing it symbolizes is the beginning of the end. With every passing second, we both know that we must let go. I bend my head and kiss the spot where her neck meets her shoulder, lingering there, needing to soak up all her scent and carry it with me to the ugliness and dirt I’m going to be drowning in soon. “I love you,” I whisper against her skin. She raises her right arm and places it behind my head, keeping me close. Turning towards me, she kisses my left cheek and murmurs: “I love you more.” Somewhere in the distance, the tolling of a church bell signals the time and her arm falls limply at her side. She gracefully moves away from me and goes over to the small wooden table that’s sitting in the corner of the room. Her small fingers trace the name on my dog tags that were dropped on it last night and letting out a small sigh she picks them up and comes to stand in front of me.
I bend my head down as she slides them around my neck. They clink together as they fall on my chest and they feel so much heavier than they did yesterday. Smiling weakly, she slowly buttons up my shirt and while I tuck it in, she turns to the side picking up the tie she had laid on the bed. Caressing the hard cotton she drapes it around my neck. With quick, skillful hands she ties it and smooths it down my chest.
I put on my garrison and she rises on her toes to adjust it.
“All done.” She says, her small palm resting against my cheek and I close my eyes as the weight of my duty is sinking down heavily to the pit of my stomach.
“I’ll see you at the docks in a couple of hours. Do you know how to get there?”
“I’ll grab a taxi.”
“Like a true city girl.”
“I adapt fast.”
“Yes, you do.”
She takes a step back and I’m cold again. My body, my heart, my soul. They all scream at the emptiness. With heavy steps I grab my jacket and walk to the door, my hand hesitating on the doorknob. I glance back and see her again. The light is coming in the room bright and merciless, illuminating her silhouette, making her look like an angel. My angel. The angel that’s gonna guide me back.
“Couple of hours,” I say again.
“I’ll be there.” She promises.
The door closes behind me.
Cold and tired, I climb the last three steps to my apartment, swearing under my breath because I can’t find the damn keys in my purse.
“Ah-ah!” I rejoice when they are finally jingling in my hand but before I try to insert them in the lock, the door suddenly opens.
“Jesus Christ!” I jump back surprised.
“No, just Chuck.”
Pushing past him I shimmy out my humid coat and toss it near the door.
“Did you miss me that much, uh?” I say falling on the couch, toeing off my heels and massaging my calves. No answers. Uh, strange.
“I already ate so do you need me to make you something?” I have no energy to do any cooking but Chuck has had some pretty rough days.
“Ok then, I’m just gonna lay here for a bit. Maybe we could have a nightcap later? Put on some records? I don’t know. What are you in the mood for?” I cover my eyes with my arm, trying to rest my head. Chuck’s still oddly silent. No stupid comebacks or jokes. I hear him shuffling around the room. Pacing back and forth. He sits down, clears his throat and then he’s up again, stressing me out.
“What’s up Chuck? Did you piss off the neighbor again?” Still nothing. “I swear if I have to flirt my way out an eviction again…”
“Did you -” he starts strained and stops again.
I peak from under my arm. He’s standing a few steps from me, looking down, his arms crossed.
“Did I what?”
And he doesn’t respond.
“Chuck I’m tired. Come on. What happened?”
“Wait here,” he says before walking out of the room.
“You think I’ll get up after a full day on heels? Do you even know me?”
I light a cigarette and let the nicotine burn in my throat before exhaling slowly and watch the smoke swirl lazily over me. My mind keeps going back to the painful plunge it took earlier. There are two possibilities. I’m either extremely lonely or extremely horny. I let out an ugly giggle. I’m definitely both. No escape there. Not that I’d do anything about it, let’s be real. Just the thought of it makes me sick. Maybe I should get a pet or something. I should talk to Chuck about it. Maybe a dog? Nah they are too much of a hassle with our all over the place schedule. A cat? Bad idea. Chuck’s probably allergic. Or not. But he definitely looks like someone allergic to cats. Oh! Maybe a bird? Ah…it’ll probably die from smoke poisoning. What about a -
My train of thought gets interrupted by a rustling of papers.
I turn my head to the side and stare at the pile of letters landing on the coffee table.
Raising an eyebrow I look at Chuck’s face.
He sits on the lounge chair opposite me. Elbows propped on his knees, he stares at me.
“Are these all ?”
“…Yeah. What about them?”
“Oh please, don’t make a fuss about them. I know.” I say, suddenly feeling more tired. I close my eyes again.
“Y/N! Are these all the letters?”
“Jesus Chuck!” I blurt out harshly, “Yes, these are all. What the heck?!”
“Did you read them?”
Sighing, I take another puff of smoke, “Of course I did. A long time ago.”
“Are you sure?” He pushes.
“I know them by heart, Chuck.”
“…Alright.” He says softly and I sigh in relief that this matter is finally over. “…but -” I was wrong.
“What?!” I sit up and now I’m getting angry. “Listen, it’s painful. I don’t wanna go through all that again. I know I haven’t told you about my whole life, but I’m sure you have figured it all out by now, ok? Can we drop this, please? I’m tired.”
He stares at me with sad eyes. Pity leaking out every pore. I hate it.
“No,” He says, tense. “No, we can’t.”
“Well, I don’t want to talk about it. So suit yourself.” I reply, bitterly, as I stand up, planning to go hide in my room.
He follows me, grabbing my wrist.
“Y/N…” He’s angry.
“Chuck, please.” A painful lump blocks my throat and my voice comes out broken.
“Sit down and let me explain.” Dragging me like I weigh nothing, he guides me to the chair. The old leather protests as I fall down on it, defeated.
He takes my cigarette away, putting it out in the half-empty glass on the table, sits on the edge of the table and gently takes my hands in his.
“So, these are the ones you read, right?” He says pointing with his hand at the opened letters scattered on the table.
“What about those?”
I follow his gaze to the ones that look unopened. The ones that were tied with old ribbons.
“I don’t really care for my Dad’s business correspondence.”
“So…you didn’t even open them?”
“…No. Why would I? I didn’t even know those were there.”
“I think -” he looks at me strangely, his eyes gleaming, “I think you should.”
I tilt my head in confusion as he grabs the pile and drops it in my lap. I look down at them, and see they have been opened.
Looking at me, awkwardly, he scratches his head. “I took the liberty of opening them. I was curious and you said I could… anyway.”
“It’s alright. I gave you permission. But why?”
“Oh Y/N…,” he says in a weak tone. “I think your parents made a big, big mistake.”
“Now you’re scaring me Chuck. What do you mean?”
He takes a deep breath and from his breast pocket he takes out a crumpled piece of paper. My breath speeds up and my heart clenches. I know what that is. I don’t want it but he pushes it in my hand.
I look down and stare at the chicken scratches.
My vision swims.
The weather here sucks so bad. You can’t even imagine how friggin’ cold Belgium is. I hope you can read this because my hands are shaking. We are not dressed for winter and since we are close to the enemy line we can’t even hope to get some new supplies. I’m lucky my boots are in one piece.
Last night I was on patrol and everything was frozen. We couldn’t even start a fire to melt the frozen water to drink. I can’t remember the last time I had a hot shower, or simply a shower for that matter. One thing is certain. I’ll never take a bath for granted ever again. I swear even a dive in the murky river would be amazing right now.
Enough whining about the cold. I guess I’m just missing home, and you, and even Sammy. Can you believe it?
I don’t have a lot of time, we are moving soon. I’m scheduled to reach some little town whose name I can’t even pronounce. I forgot. We are close babe, we are so close we can almost taste it.
This nightmare will soon be over and I’ll be home.
See you soon.
Pvt Dean Winchester
90ID, Company B, 359th Infantry Regiment
90th Infantry Division
United States Army
I’m silent as I finish reading. My fingers grip the paper and the lump in my chest prevents me from breathing.
“This -” He starts, “- This is the last letter, right?”
“You’ve never got any others after this?”
“…Why do you think?”
“Christ, Chuck! Do I have to spell it for you?”
“No, but listen -”
My body jerks into motion because I have never spelled it out loud. The walls close around me and I feel trapped. I just want to escape and drive off a cliff or something. He stops me firmly, pushing me back down.
“Did you write back?”
I avoid his eyes. He grabs my chin and makes me look at him.
“Did you?” He insists without mercy.
“Of course I did!” I scream. “For weeks and weeks! I never got anything back.”
“And his family?” He seems oblivious to my suffering and keeps pushing and asking, tearing me apart.
“ …Never heard from them either.”
“ But let me understand…” he says confused. “They lived fairly close, right?”
“ Yeah, but I was not there. I had started college, remember? But I had left my new address in the next letters.”
He’s silent and I can see his brain working at full speed.
“I think your parents had something to do with it.”
My mind goes to a full stop. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m almost certain they intercepted the letters.”
“…W - what?”
“I don’t know how or why. Well, I can imagine why but that’s not the point.” He taps the packet of letters on my lap. “They kept these from reaching you and I suspect the ones you sent got lost …”
I stare at him.
“ If… if I’m right about it …The battle he was getting ready for was a massacre. I heard about it while I was stationed in Holland. It was a disaster. It’s not uncommon for mail to get lost in a war zone and if you didn’t know where else to send telegrams and cards…well, it’s almost impossible they were delivered.” He takes a deep breath. “And if someone got injured, or worse captured, well …the odds of receiving any mail is close to none…you understand what I’m saying?”
“…No, what…I don’t understand.” I reply and I’m not sure if I really don’t understand or if I just don’t want to understand.
“Y/N…” He takes my hand and places it on the letters. “This is not your father’s correspondence.”
I stare at his weak, hopeful smile and look down at my hand. I realize it’s trembling uncontrollably as the meaning and heaviness of his words are slowly sinking in.
“It is not…” He repeats, steadily and sure.
I stay motionless, something hot is burning in my spinning head. Something heavy crushes my chest. The pile of letters gets heavier as the seconds pass. Something ugly, something I forget I would ever have again rush through my blood.
I don’t register when Chuck stands up. I don’t notice him leaving the room and coming back, putting a glass of water by my side. I don’t feel his hand squeezing my shoulder nor the light kiss he places on my head before leaving the room.
All of a sudden, everything around me gets darker and suffocating while I stare at the pile of hope I cradle in my lap.
I undo the loose knot slowly letting the ribbon fall to the side and grab one of the letters.
It’s dirty and short.
I don’t know when or if this will reach you.
We made it, we barely made it.
It was ugly, I’m not going to lie. We lost so many, babe. Our platoon almost got annihilated. The few of us that made it, are scattered. We have to regroup and hopefully, we’ll get some rest. I got hit but it’s nothing serious, don’t worry. Sadly, nothing that will get me a ride back home. Just my luck, am I right?
I’ll try to write to you as soon as I can. Everything is fucked up right now. Comms are not working well.
Pvt Dean Winchester
90ID, Company B, 359th Infantry Regiment
90th Infantry Division
United States Army
It’s been a few weeks that I haven’t got any mail from you. Only some delayed ones from Sammy. I guess comms are still banged up. I hope to receive yours later.
We had some time to rest and medics patched us up well enough that we are on route again.
Morale is pretty low right now. We’ve got some new recruits and if you could just see them. They look like scared kids. They can barely stand a 12-hour march and keep their rifles clean. Tran still makes dumb jokes to try to lift the heavy feeling that’s been weighing on us. I mean …they are stupid and they make me want to punch his stupid face but it helps, somehow.
One of my brothers here got hit on a suicide run. Son of a bitch got his ass saved by sheer, dumb luck. He’s fine but … I’m scared, y/n. I’m so scared and I can’t let that show. Those kids need to be sharp and ready.
I can’t let them down.
I can’t let you and Sam down.
We are moving out again. We are eating ground and I can feel my COs getting anxious to reach our position. The front is again closing in.
Pvt Dean Winchester
90ID, Company B, 359th Infantry Regiment
90th Infantry Division
United States Army
Next ones are a bunch of telegrams
Is your address the same. STOP. I got no mail. STOP.
-We moved. STOP. Follow new coordinates. STOP.
-Y/n please. STOP. Are my letters reaching you. STOP.
-I need to know. STOP.
-I can’t reach you. STOP.
-I miss you. STOP.
This, too, will probably get lost somewhere or I don’t know. You’ll probably get it and drop it somewhere, unopened. Don’t even know why I still do it. Writing to you. But I do it every chance I get. In the rain, in the snow and mud. It’s what keeps me grounded, it keeps me here, with my mind. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing it. In a couple of days we are moving near Bastogne, I think. Never been good at Geography. I’m not gonna lie, things don’t look great, and if I’m right, Merry Christmas and happy new year.
I don’t wanna be here. It’s cold and everything is covered in mud. Your nose would scrunch up in disgust, I can almost see it.
Jesus, I miss you on my lips. I miss you under my fingertips. I miss you in my soul.
The thought of you, the thought of coming back to you is what gets me through this madness. Through this hell we all believed was a noble cause. What colossal fools were we? I could go on rambling about this hell we’re all living in. But I won’t. I just wish I could have had a minute more with you… at our spot. Under the stars. A minute more to taste your lips. To memorize the way your body molded against mine. The way you fit in my arms.
A minute more in that hotel room. To etch your eyes deeper in my heart. To sense your breath on my face…
But that’s all wishful thinking, right now, I just hope you get this.
Pvt Dean Winchester
90ID, Company B, 359th Infantry Regiment
90th Infantry Division
United States Army
-No news from you. STOP. Where are you. STOP.
-Sam can’t reach you. STOP.
-We are in [redacted]. STOP.
-I love you. STOP.
My hands shake as I open the last one. I look at it and everything is all over the place. Words canceled, some illegible, some are just plain scribbles. They make no sense at all. What happened?
Somewhere there’s a big patch of ink. The words are crooked or misspelled. I try to make sense of them.
Im fucked. My chest hurts so much. It’s hot. Its all hot. They keep waving stuff in my face and taking my tempratur. I can’t even keep the damn thing in my mouth, my chest is killing me. My heart is fucked. Most of the time I cant breath. No snow, I hate, shit I never know I could miss it. But I miss summer.
I dream about it . White fence sunny yard, grass stains on your skirt, kid laugh and youre on the ground with them. You look at me, upside down,flowers tangled in your hair and youre beautiful and- oh god, I want you on my lips and. I here your voice and youre here somewere youre a hudred miles away, youre right next to me sumthime.
fuck I wanna cry because it’s so- you are right there, I reach for you everytime I reach for you but I-
Everything fades,my chest feels like hell-
Samm tell her im sorrry-
I let the last letter fall to my feet.
The docks are loud and crowded. I push people aside trying to find her in the sea of people hugging, crying, kissing, laughing. Everyone is saying their goodbyes. Some of them will be the last ones and the solemnity of it makes the lump in my throat painful.
“Y/N!” My mouth is dry as I try to call for her, neck straining to see over the sea of heads. In the corner of my eye, I see an arm waving to my right.
I make my way there, rudely. No one cares. We all have more important things to care about right now.
Finally, she emerges from behind a woman hugging her son with the pain only a mother knows.
She crashes into my arms out of breath, looking up at me with shiny eyes and red cheeks. I can tell she’s been running.
I grab her hand and guide her through the mass of people bumping into us left and right and after what seems like a marathon we finally reach the meeting point of my platoon.
We stand side by side as I let my duffle bag slide from my shoulder and drop at our feet.
I feel my head ready to explode, filled with all the things I want to tell her. I feel my heart pounding so hard that it’s one step away from imploding. Why is fate so cruel? Why let you meet the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with and then tear you apart? What deranged higher power finds all this pain and suffering amusing?
I steal a small peak towards her side. I see her chest rising and falling more quickly by the minute. I see her hand balled into a fist. Her nails must be digging into her palm so hard that there’s probably going to be blood. Tears are rolling down her cheeks. Tears she’s not making an effort to hide from me anymore. I reach out and take her fisted hand in mine. Slowly, I caress each finger until I feel them relax and open up. That’s when I lace mine with hers and bring both her hands to my lips.
The moment I touch her skin she turns her head and looks at me. Face flushed, eyes glistening, lips parted in an effort to speak. I nod, letting her know that she doesn’t have to. That everything she wants to tell me, I already know. That every feeling traveling through her body is also traveling through mine.
We face each other. Fingers intertwined. Eyes locked. Words unspoken.
The sound of the ship horn mutes us all. I see her jump at the sound. Reluctantly, I release her hand. She buries her small frame in mine and her arms circle my waist keeping me molded against her. I place my hand at the back of her head, making sure she can hear my heart beating and I place a small kiss on the top of her head. She looks up at me and tries to smile. A forced smile that doesn’t fool either of us.
“Come on, sweetheart!” I say and I try to pull away from her embrace. The minute her arms fall to her sides I brush some strands of hair from her face and wipe the tears that are still rolling down her cheeks. Her skin is so warm against the palm of my hand. So soft.
She leans in my touch and closes her eyes. Slowly turning her head, she kisses my palm.
Why is it so difficult to tell her I love her? I’ve told her a thousand times. But I guess if I tell her now, it will probably sound like “goodbye” and not like “I love you”. And I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready to let her go. I’m not ready to lose her.
“I love you”
Her words reach my ears and that’s the minute I realize that this is the end. That we have no more time together.
I look at her wrist. My watch is still there. Too big for her. Mercilessly ticking away. Oblivious to our pain. I unclasp it and pull out the small lever that winds it. The ticking stops and the arms come to a halt. And along with the watch, everything else stops. The screaming, the crying, the waves of people walking past us. It’s just her and me.
It’s so quiet I can hear our hearts beating. I place the stopped watch back on her wrist and do the same with mine. Before she gets the chance to speak I bend down and kiss her. I try to pour all my love into that kiss. I’m trying to make her feel the depth of my emotion. My need for her.
She rises to the tips of her toes and circles her arms around my neck. She returns my kiss as a kind of an unspoken promise. As a pledge.
The booming voice of my CO calls for all of us. It’s the sound of war. It’s the call of our duty.
I don’t want to let her go. I don’t want to be a damn hero. Now, it’s time to say it
“I love you”
“I love you more”
“Promise me that you will keep the hands of time stopped. Promise me that we will restart time when I get back. Promise me you’ll wait”.
All the words that I couldn’t voice before come blurting out now.
She places her lips on mine again and whispers:
“Promise me you’ll come back”.
My hand slips from her as I take a few steps back, our hands still raised.
Chapter 16: 16.Torpedo juice
I wanna say a few things before you start reading:
I live in Italy, Lombardy, the region with the worst situation. I’m not gonna lie, I have lots of time on my hands, being confined in my house, but my spirit is broken, not dead, but pretty much everything feels numb as of now. Nevertheless, I tried to not let it get to me, it’s not been easy writing, not at all, but I hope this chapter didn’t suffer from all of this too much. I’ll leave you to it hoping you’ll enjoy. Remember guys, everything that’s happening is no joke. Stay at home and take care of yourself and your dear ones. Hopefully, it’ll be over soon.
- flashbacks are in italics
I sit in the common room, my once hot coffee now cold in the mug forgotten in front of me. I try to concentrate on my book but I’m slowly realizing that it isn’t going to happen. The library was full and I couldn’t find a spot so I had to come here but it’s one of the same. The big windows with their drapes drawn back give all the light one needs when they need to drink some coffee, read a book or more often gather in small groups and talk about boys and love and more and more frequently about the war. The rich, soft couches have heard many girls’ daydreams about how they want to finish college and marry the boy of their dreams. Live in a beautiful house with a white picket fence and have tons of children. The dream they were brought up to have. I have overheard and silently sat with such groups of girls, listening to them going on and on about mundane future things all the while thinking about him. Where is he? What is he doing? Pushing the question that’s been creeping in my head ever so often the last few weeks away. Is he still alive? So, when I walked in here, in search of a quiet place to fake-study, I was hoping to find the room’s usual, relaxing and comforting atmosphere but not today.
It’s mail day.
My friends shriek when their names get called. I watch them pretending to be bored but actually feeling dead envious as they skip up to the postman, ripping their envelopes from his hands. And then it’s all a whirl of tulle and taffetas as they jump around to read them. Some fake a swoon and land on the couches laughing, some read their letters aloud to their group of friends who sigh and giggle, others are quieter and read them alone in a corner or they leave the room for privacy.
I avert my eyes and look out the windows, pencil nervously tapping on my unfinished letter which is hiding between the book pages.
I haven’t got a letter in weeks.
‘No! Don’t go there,’ I whisper to myself. ‘No fate can be so cruel. I had him ripped from my arms before I had the chance to tell him so many things. Do so many things with him. He can’t be dead. I still need to do those things. I still need to tell him that I love him one more time. I still…’
A particularly high screech makes me jump, thankfully stopping my thoughts.
“He’s coming back! He’s coming back!” One of the girls bounce around excitedly. “He said he’s coming home next month on leave.”
‘Well, good for you.’ I whisper, bitterly and almost regretting it right after. Frowning, I shake my head and hide my face in the book again but the words swim in front of my eyes and I just can’t focus. I can’t help feeling worried. I have every right to be worried.
I can’t seem to get any letters. Just some quick telegrams from my parents to schedule the next phone calls. Phone calls I couldn’t care less about.
At the same time, I dread other kinds of letters. If- if anything happens, I’m sure Sam will let me know. Won’t he?
It has already happened a couple of times.
Girls would be all happy and giddy to receive a letter from a brother, cousin, husband or sweetheart only to open it and fall silent. You could tell it was brief and heavy. A tiny sob would escape their lips, a shaking hand would cover their mouth. Some fainted, some left silently, some would just break down like their heart had just shattered at their feet. And then someone would take them out, away from our frightened eyes, inwardly thanking God that the letter hadn’t come for them. Not this time, anyway. You could sometimes hear them wailing at night and the next day they’d all leave. Pale, tiny and shaking in their parents’ arms that went to pick them up. They’d leave us feeling guilty and grateful that it wasn’t us. Hoping it would never be us.
This silence is both cruel and welcomed.
I grab my satchel and search blindly for the last news I heard from Dean. The paper is wrinkled and anyone looking at it can tell I’ve spent nights and days reading and re-reading it. I take it out but I don’t open it. I know every word by heart. I just press it to my lips and see the lines in my mind’s eye.
“We are close babe, we are so close we can almost taste it.”
Close to what ?! Jesus Dean.
“-imagine how friggin’ cold Belgium is.”
I remember looking for it on my school book map. So far away. Such a little country in the middle of hell. I had traced the thin line that divided it from Germany over and over again, imagining that my fingers would feel exactly where he was, and he could feel it… somehow.
It doesn’t mean anything. Not yet. I put the letter back in my satchel. ‘Sam would let me know.’ I repeat to myself, chewing hard on the pencil before finishing the 6th letter, unanswered.
He would let me know.
There’s nothing noble about this. There’s nothing righteous in taking a man’s life who’s fighting your same fight. There’s nothing honorable in looking into scared, innocent, angry and hopeless eyes of people we met along our march to another battlefield. People who are running away, abandoning everything they’ve called life, all their family possessions stowed on carts. Only the little kids, in their innocent ignorance, seem unaware of the grim present.
There’s nothing heroic being covered in mud and blood, but that’s all we know. That’s all we’ve known since Normandy.
Whatever lies and flourished truths all of us had been fed back home didn’t last long. All the talks at the drafting centers about how we would be helping people, freeing them, protecting them. For our country, they had said.
She would have been ashamed of me. Had she known what I’ve been doing these last few months we have been apart, she would have been so ashamed of me. That’s why I’d lied to her.
In those letters I’d never mentioned all the pain and the death I’ve met and all the pain and death I’ve given.
But everything stopped. It’s been months since I have received any news from her. I want to blame the war, the delay in correspondence but many other soldiers have continued getting letters from home, somewhat regularly. I don’t want to think that she has forgotten me.
That her parents had managed to change her mind. Bend her will.
I’m still shaking from the last attack four days ago, jumping at every noise. I couldn’t hold my coffee without spilling, couldn’t light a smoke without Harvelle keeping my hands still.
I came down with a hate for war I’ll never lose. I don’t think anyone here that’s endured the fear of shelling, seen the gaping shrapnel wounds, heard the cries for medic, seen his friends die like flies before them and been stuck with the sickly sweet smell of death, cannot but develop the hate of war I have now.
I’m now at a point where as horrific as it is, it’s also ….pure.
At first, we all wondered if we’ll be shot and we were scared not only for us but also for the people that would get hurt if we were hit. All I could think about was keeping you, Sammy, my old man, and Bobby from being upset by some fucking German shell. I didn’t seem to worry about myself that much. As I adapted, I started to wonder about when and how it could happen. I found myself asking, “Is this the one?”
On bad days, that we are so close to the front lines, the thoughts are more and more frequent. I’m sure I’ll get it and we’d all joke that the next one would do it so as to end this goddamned suspense.
We see it in the new recruits’ eyes. They don’t know. They have no idea.
How bad they feel after taking their first life and it’s dangerous to stop contemplating if you’ll go to hell or not.
I don’t stop to wonder anymore. I know I’m already there.
I look ahead and see my platoon marching silently in stiff lines. We have to be quiet and quick. But the daylight is over us, making our rifles shine. If there are any snipers we must look like rubber ducks at a fair.
Later that night we can finally rest, waiting in our foxholes for our night patrol shift. I make the round, passing some cold coffee to the newbies, who accept it like it’s the Sacramental bread at church.
I make a few dumb jokes, pat some of them on the shoulder. They thank me weakly but I don’t stay that long to actually hear them. I’m off to Benny’s foxhole.
I find him sipping from his canteen. Lifting his eyes, he sees me and he offers it to me.
“Thanks man,” I say, flopping down next to him, glad that I can look tired in front of him. Thirsty as I am, and dumb as dirt for trusting Benny, I take a big gulp of what I thought was icy cold water.
“What the fuck Lafitte!” I choke as I feel liquid fire burning down my throat and pooling in my stomach. He covers his loud bark with one hand as the other pats me heavily on my back.
“It’s good right?” he chews on his spent cigar. It’s a ‘no visible light’ kinda night, “I traded one of my tobacco for it” He continues.
“What a bargain!” I say wheezing, “Tastes like gasoline.”
“Gotta need the fuel. Heard Mills saying that we’ll need all the courage we have, so…” he takes it from my hand and drags it down. “I’ll start with the liquid kind”
A flare goes up in over our heads and we watch it light up the night until it dies off. That flare symbolizes us, all of us. The way we had all set out, guided by a fake noble cause and misleading promises of glory and grandeur. The way we are now sitting in dirty mud holes, thousand miles away from home and our loved ones, watching our hopes dying off.
I reach for the canteen again.
We keep our numb nerves in check and wits sharp for hours until a long burst of machine gun-fire finally explodes.
Our sentinels start responding, short bursts of fire, just to test the response, assessing what threat we are facing, praying that the intel our CO got is accurate.
And then the shelling starts. It starts high in pitch and slides down the scale and halfway down you think it has gone far enough. But instead, it continues to whistle, the sound originating from nowhere in particular but it always seems to point right at me. The longer it whines, the closer it seems until I’m sure that when it does explode it will be at the back of my head.
“SHELL!!” someone screams, “STAY DOWN!!”
I lay face down with the hem of my helmet in the hard cold ground, as close to the earth as I could get. There was a brief pause. Then two or three hundred steps away, the rumble of the explosion is heard and I realize I’m holding my breath.
“MOVE!! MOVE!! MOVE!!” The order is loud and clear. Get the fuck out and move forward before they can calibrate better and kill us all.
And they keep coming and coming while we move forward, skipping over who got hit, assisting some injured.
Another faint whistle in the air.
I had plenty of time to think, “not today, not now” before dropping on the ground, dirt, and gravel raining over me and I know that I haven’t been hit as the earth is still shaking under me.
I get up, ears ringing, shouts for medics muffled, and I run and I run until the sharp noise of shots is again loud and clear and it reverberates in my guts.
We regroup at the edge of a bombarded town. Once white walls now piles of rubble, dead cattle scattered in the streets. So many places where the enemy could be hiding.
Exhausted and out of breath I look around at my men. Not many casualties, the medics are still behind tending the less fortunate ones. Our CO is smiling, listening to the new comms.
“Seems like the assholes are retreating and wanted to shake us up a bit,” he explains as he’s looking at us. “Check your ammunitions. We’re taking this outpost today.”
We all cheer. Fools.
I slump down, my helmet bumping against the dusty wall behind me. I reach for my canteen, patting the place I usually put it but not finding it there. I still have adrenaline running through my veins and my hands are slightly shaking when I find a crumpled piece of paper in its place.
I slowly take it out, smoothing it against my thigh, my fingers covered in mud and blood leaving smudges everywhere. I curse under my breath trying to clean it. I always manage to get her stuff dirty somehow.
This is ridiculous! I swear that professor has it with me. I don’t know what I did to win his dislike for me. Remember how I told you last time that he keeps getting on my nerves? This time Clara and Sally were chatting during class right behind me and he had the audacity to call me out instead, and give me extra work. I gave those two a hearing later, you can trust me on that.
Apart from that, campus life is fun. Not having to listen to mother’s rant all day is pretty swell but I also miss some of my lifestyle, you know? I guess I’m more spoiled than I thought. Nothing that I can’t take though. I just need to adjust. I admit that I do miss my records.
I forgot to tell you I made it into the chorus some weeks ago and I already got one of the solo parts. Some of the girls in there are pretty swell too. We sneak into each other’s rooms at night. They also have loved ones fighting and it’s comforting knowing that we all feel the same.
I miss your ugly laugh and bad manners more than I knew I could. I miss your dumb face and your dumber jokes.
I miss your eyes most of all. I miss the way you look at me and I miss the way they make me feel.
I miss you. I miss you terribly and I want you to be home and I hate that we are so far apart. I promised that I’d wait for you and I will and once we are together, you’d better not leave again. Ever!
I have exams coming up, but I’ll write soon.
I exhale shakily, carefully folding the paper and placing it in my breast pocket.
It’s the last letter I got from her and I still wonder what happened. I asked and asked. I sent so many letters and received none.
I can’t help but think she got tired or she moved or whatever. I have no idea. Sammy also can’t seem to reach her.
The CO grabs our attention, explaining the plan of attack which is pretty straightforward and simple.
“We expect at least one machine gun position that gets top priority for obvious reasons. We don’t have confirmation of snipers yet but y’all know the drill. Keep moving and don’t make yourself an easy target.”
Since getting these fresh new recruits, the orders have gotten more and more explanatory but for the ones that have been in this hell for a year, just the word ‘machine gun’ and ‘not confirmed snipers’ would have sufficed. We are like a well-oiled machine where all the old parts work together just fine but from time to time, these new parts get added and they still need to get greased to match the rest.
“Squad 3 will give cover fire to 1 and 2-”
“Hope you rested your legs, Winchester,” Benny whispers.
“Try not to shoot me in the ass, Lafitte.”
“ -4 will assist after they take cover, and squad 5 be ready to go as soon as the machine gun position is taken. Squad 6 standby and wait for orders.”
The CO scans our faces and adds knowing the gravity of his words. “This position is key. Our brothers ahead are waiting for those provisions-”
We all cheer.
“- once we get this outpost, we’ll get a chance of hot showers. I’m sure my ass is as frozen as yours-”
We cheer louder.
“- let’s get these sons of bitches!”
And so the preparations for the assault begin.
We check our ammunitions, we clean our rifles, we pray, we write or check those terrible last letters just in case and then we get in position.
I have a strange feeling in my gut. A kind of interior peace. The usual anxiety is muffled in the back of my head, where I feel the hair standing up. It’s not fear, it’s not dread nor doubt. It’s something else that I can’t really recognize.
Crouching, my rifle steady in my hands, I shoot a glance at Benny. He touches his helmet and winks. I look to my left. Tran’s muttering some math shit to calm his nerves, his eyes fixed on the ground, his knuckles white from holding his rifle too tight. Harvelle’s a couple of steps away from me but I hear him humming some Glenn Miller’s tune.
My mind is blank.
I cover my breast pocket with my hand, feeling the paper crinkling under my squeeze and then the cover fire begins.
Almost immediately, the Germans answer. The bullets whistle over our ducked heads, some hitting the walls, some the cobbles. Sparkles fly off when they hit something metallic, that being car carcasses or abandoned burning tanks.
Some of the rookies shift in their positions, some start praying again and then the order flows through my blood.
My legs act before my brain and we are running.
The machine gun starts again, and the bullets whine and tear through our scattered formation.
We gain yards fast, ducking and taking cover where we can, trying to locate the enemy’s position. Skidding behind a broken truck I get a chance to catch my breath as the shots hit it. The windshield explodes and I barely have time to cover my face from the pieces of glass.
As our support team responds, I get up and manage to rip one of the side mirrors from the burning vehicle and with a piece of a filthy rag I have in my webbing, I tie it on the top of my rifle. Still covered, I use the mirror to scan the terrain ahead of me. I have a general notion where those assholes are and a stupid idea in my head.
“Gotcha!” I say as I locate the pile of sandbags, the nuzzle of the MG42 visible as the Germans take cover.
Am I going to do something stupid?
Throwing away the make-shift spy mirror I search for the others.They are all scattered and safe and I realize I’m the closest.
The suppress fire stops now that we are too close to the goal. That means the next squads are getting ready to come in our aid, focusing the firepower on them.
On my right, there’s a building partially collapsed. If I manage to reach it I can get closer and surprise them from behind.
I’m going to do something stupid.
Crawling on my arms and knees, the glass cutting where my skin is exposed, I wait for the firing to start again and then I skip forward. I get to the rotten door and kick it open. The hinges give out easily and I’m inside, rifle high in front of me. I quickly secure the rest of the rooms as I make my way through the building and then I reach the backdoor.
There’s a shell hole in the wall on the side and I almost regret leaving the mirror behind but I have no time to lose.
Once they start firing again, I peek through and - yes I am behind them. I hide inside again and check my ammo.
There are 3 of them. If I’m fast enough I can take them all.
I rest my head against the wall and look up at the partially collapsed ceiling. Heavy rain is pouring down, gray clouds pass fast above me shielding the already weak, cold winter sun.
I close my eyes and my skin tingles with the warmth of a summer sun. I smell the scent of grass, taste a cherry pie kiss, hear a bright laugh and feel the smooth cotton of a skirt under my hands.
“Promise you won’t do anything stupid”
“I’m sorry sweetheart.” I whisper, clutching my rifle tighter and quietly opening the door. I raise to aim, “I told you I’m an asshole.” and then I fire.
The first man I shoot is the one holding the rifle, aiming right at the base of the back of his neck. His rifle drops as he slumps over the sandbags, twitching.
I get the advantage of surprise and so a bunch of seconds pass before the other one, holding the belt feed, drops it and fumbles with his own rifle.
He’s down before he gets the chance to aim.
As I prepare to take another life I skip to a halt. The machine gun has stopped firing and I come face to face with a scrawny, scared blue-eyed kid, pointing a trembling gun at me.
“Waffe fallen lassen!” I shout in my poor German. He flinches and his hold tightens. Damn it kid, just drop it. We are at standoff both aiming at each other, neither of us moving a muscle.
“Hände hoch” I say again, trying to remember the few German words I’ve come to learn.
He hesitates, looking down at the other two laying dead.
I hear a noise from the street. The others have realized that the machine gun is down and they are coming. He notices it too and then time slows down.
His eyes change from scared to panicked and I see the moment he makes up his mind. His finger moves to squeeze the trigger and two shots echo between the torn buildings in the ghost town.
All around us, an eerie silence follows before the kid drops to the ground with a choked sob. A large pool of blood is slowly spreading out on the white cobbles under him.
It feels like all breath has been winded out of me. Like I got kicked in the chest by a wild horse.
I hear running steps and I turn my head.
“Heya Tran. Y’all took your damn sweet tim -” I take a step forward but my legs give out and I fall on my knees. I try to catch my breath but I can’t seem to make my lungs work. I look down at my chest and I see an ugly, dark red stain spreading fast. I’m still confused as I fall forward.
“Christ, Winchester!” Tran shouts catching me before I split open my head on the cobbles. A rattling, wheezing sound is all I can manage as I sit on the ground. Tran’s hands shove mine away and rip open my combat jacket. I realize I was clutching my chest when I stare at my hands, wet with warm blood.
That’s when the pain starts. It’s like someone has stabbed me with a red hot poker iron. It burns and pulses through my whole chest.
He checks my back. “MEDIC!! I NEED A FUCKING MEDIC HERE!” Kevin’s voice sounds far away over the buzzing sound in my ears. He then shoves his thumbs in both wounds and a searing, white-hot pain makes my body spasm.
“Jesus fuck Tran -” Someone shoves me down. “What the fuck are yo -” I try to protest.
“Shut up, Dean!”
Someone else is shouting too close to my fucking ear, something gets shoved into my back and I feel every second of it. I try to get away but Tran’s knee pins me down.
“Stay the fuck down!”
“F - fuck”
A flash of white and red swims in front of my eyes. Quick, sure fingers probe my chest and they send shockwaves through my body. I feel like throwing up.
“Through and through, you lucky bastard!” Comes the annoyingly, loud voice of the man I realize now is the medic and then, turning around, he yells: “STRETCHER!”
I try to breathe but every time I do it hurts more and more so I stop altogether. The wound goes more or less numb. My vision dims and I can see specks of black pulsing.
“Can you breathe?” He shakes me awake
“Then fucking breathe, you bastard!”
I lay there for what feels like hours, a brick pushing down on my chest, cobbles, and debris digging in my back. I don’t have my helmet on. Who took it off, I don’t remember but at least I can rest my head down. Blinking, I look up at the sky, past Tran’s stupid wet face and the sun is shining and like an epiphany I realize I’ve been hit.
Son of a bitch, this is it!
I hear commotion beside me. The pain is gone, my body feels numb but my mind is clear and I feel some sort of peace draping over me like a warm blanket.
A timid, cold ray of sunshine blinds me and I squeeze my eyes shut.
“Dean!” People keep calling me from far away. “Dean, stay awake! Come on!”
“Sammy, shut up!”
“Dean, come on! It’s late!”
I open my eyes and I’m too comfortable to get up.
The grass is soft and crisp under my fingers and it tickles my ears. Sam’s dumb smile is looking down at me.
“Get up, you lazy ass. Lunch is ready.”
“Is there pie?” I ask sitting up yawning.
Sam snorts, “Like Y/N would forget.”
I smack my lips happily and grab his hand. He pulls me up and - “Jesus! Since when did you have a growth sprout!?”
He looks at me funny.
Bobby is by the grill, filling the plates with some goddamn tasty looking burgers and Dad hands me a cold beer from the cooler.
“Where’s Y/N?” I ask, taking a refreshing generous sip.
“She went to get the kid.
“Ah, there she is.” He says with a never seen before smile. Smile?
I turn around and my heart drops.
She’s at the foot of the white wooden stairs, a kid in her arm rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. Turning around, she extends a hand and a little girl in pigtails and a pastel, green summer dress skips out the door and grabs it tight. She keeps it high as the girl hops all three steps in one jump. She crouches down cleaning a jam smudge from the girl’s cheek before whispering something in her ear.
Big green eyes set on me. “Daddy!!” and she runs. I hand my beer to John just in time to catch her and swirl her around. She giggles and the sound is enough to make me want to cry of happiness.
“Hey monkey.” Balancing her on my hip, I kiss her forehead. “Did you have a nice nap?”
“I’m too big for naps!”
“Sure you are. You’re almost as tall as Uncle Sam.”
“Ah-ah! Very funny!” my brother says.
“See?… so grumpy. He needs a nap, don’t you Sammy?” I put her down and she hugs me, wrapping tiny legs and arms around my leg.
“Says the adult who just napped for an hour while the others cooked.” Y/N says unimpressed, walking up to us in her lovely light day dress, free lived- in curls and bare feet. She looks tired but, God, never more beautiful. The kid is still hiding his face in the crook of her neck, sucking on his thumb.
Raising a hand I brush the ever-present rebel lock of hair behind her ear and cup her cheek, my thumb grazing her skin. She sighs, her eyelids flutter close briefly before melting my heart with the way she looks at me.
I bend my head down to kiss her softly.
“STILL GROSS!!” Sammy shouts with his mouth full.
She laughs and pats my cheek. “Let’s go.”
She slaps my face harder. “Come on Dean!”
“WAKE UP WINCHESTER!”
I open my eyes and I see Benny’s bloody face looking down at me.
“There you are, Chief!”
“Oh thank fuck I’m still pretty enough for you to recognize me.”
“Wha - what happened?”
There’s noise around me but I can’t move. Something sharp keeps shifting and poking my arm, my head is bumping left and right and it’s uncomfortable, my chest feels like it is on fire and everything hurts.
“You just scored a couple of medals. That’s what happened, you crazy son of a bitch.”
“Where - where am I?”
I hear the engine’s vibrations, and the gravel under the tires.
“You’re going home brother.”
It feels like hours have passed before I hear Chuck’s steps. He crunches down to look at my face but I can’t see him. He pushes a tissue in my hand but my fingers are numb. Sighing, he gently wipes my face from tears I couldn’t even feel.
“Are you okay?” He asks and I look up at him. He grimaces, “Sorry, stupid question.”
“I - I don’t know…” I breathe out weakly.
“I’m sorry love. I guess it’s a bit of a shock.”
“…what does it change, though?”
He looks taken aback. “W - what?”
“This changes nothing.”
I get up, all the letters on my lap falling to the floor. My hand, unconsciously, squeezes my left wrist, where his watch is. I have been doing this ever so often. Whenever I feel stressed or scared. Like that non-working piece of jewelry could make me feel calm or unafraid.
“What are you talking about?” He looks at me in total shock. “This changes everything!”
I walk away from him and make my way to the window. I look out to the street below as the street lights are turning off one by one and then towards the horizon as the light of dawn is eating the night.
“I have no idea of knowing where he is or what his life’s like. I know nothing about who he is now.”
I choke out a sob, covering my mouth, “Oh God! It’s been years. He must have hated me. He must still hate me if I’m anything but a long, distant, painful memory.”
The thought of him hating me, forgetting me hurts a million times more. All the pain I went through… all the doubts and anger. I know them too because I hated him. I hated him so much and that hate and anger was all I could feel for years. It was all I had to get by. It was my fuel to continue to feel alive.
But I thought I had lost him… I thought he was dead.
What had it felt for him, though? He must have thought I had broken the promise and given up on him. Forgetting him for something else… for someone else.
“Oh God…!” I sob, wrapping my arms around me, “Oh God…!” I repeat, rocking back and forth, trying to soothe myself. Trying to forget how bad all of this must have hit him. How all those false assumptions might have affected him. Even broken him.
Flashes of those awful months without a single piece of news hit me like a brick wall. Every minute I had spent trying not to cry in front of people, in class, during exams, while trying to focus on my studies. Nights spent sleeplessly, trying to muffle my sobs. Waking up from nightmares and cruel dreams and finding my pillow soaked. I even took some days off and spent a fortune in taxis to get back to my town just to get to his house. I remember how I was shaking as I walked up the steps, hesitantly knocking at the door. No one had answered. Spying through the windows I got the feeling the house hadn’t seen a soul in months.
I circled around to the backyard and the grass was unmowed. Everything looked neglected. My last chance was the shop but when I got there every bad hunch I had, just fell on my shoulders, weighing me down. It was closed, it looked abandoned. I also went to some of their neighbors to ask.
“Ah yes, the Winchesters. I don’t know much. They just packed up on a late evening and left”
“Oh, I remember seeing an army jeep parked. Bad news from Europe, I suppose. So sad.”
“They closed the shop for the time being and just left.”
I had nowhere to go, so I had just sat on the porch in silence, hoping that maybe, just maybe that day they would come back.
I remember falling asleep there until some passerby woke me up asking me if I was ok. Of course, I was not but that was my clue to call a taxi and get back to my dorm.
“Dean Winchester, right?” Chuck’s careful tone brought me back, “I read the name on the letters.”
“Do… Do you have a picture?”
I turn around, “ I do…why?”
“Just…let me see it.”
I leave him in the living room and with legs that they don’t feel like mine, I walk into my room and to the vanity. In a tiny drawer to the side, hiding from my eyes, under a pile of unimportant papers, there’s the second piece of evidence I had left of him. I pick it up with trembling fingers, afraid that it might burn and fall to ashes by my very own touch.
Turning the picture I feel a punch winding the breath out of me as those clear eyes stare at me, morphing into anger and disgust and I can’t hold his disappointed glare. Going back to Chuck I hand him the photo quickly like it was burning my skin.
Chuck gingerly takes it from me and walks to the table, looking at it under the light. His face is a mix of sadness, disbelief, and …delight?
“Y/N… this is Dean Winchester? Are you absolutely sure?”
I chuckle humorlessly, “… I’m pretty sure that’s Dean. He sent me that pic before he left -”
“I know him.”
“- for Europe…what?!” I, sharply, turn around, facing him. He’s smiling happily.
“Well, I don’t know, know him, but I saw him at the club.”
“You saw h - that’s not possible, you must have mistaken him for someone else. There are too many people… come on.”
“No Y/N, I’m sure.” he steps closer and I step back.
“Chuck… stop.” I almost beg him. I don’t want the fluttering of hope in my stomach.
“I talked to the guy, shared some war stories, we smoked together, we -”
“We watched you sing.”
I suddenly don’t feel my legs and I have to grab the back of the couch, my nails digging into the leather.
“He doesn’t smoke,” I say like that’s gonna change something but my head is buzzing.
“Well, he definitely picked it up in Europe. We all did.”
“What… how… does he …did he recog-”
“… from the way he was looking at you, I’d say he knew exactly who you were.”
I have to sit down. I have to - “Which time?” I ask, dreading the answer.
“The one you hate.”
I hide my face in my hands. Out of all the times he could have seen me, that’s when he did?
Great! Just great!
I’m so mortified. My face is on fire with shame. What he must have thought of me.
Dressed and acting like that on the bar countertop, shamelessly singing to a hungry, nasty crowd of men. Teasing and flirting, inching my dress up, being touched like that, singing that song, staining such a precious memory.
“I need to go…” I say, getting up and walking to the door. Chuck stops me.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. I just…I can’t stay here and do nothing. I have to explain. I have to tell him, I -”
“Do you have an idea, any idea, where he’s at?”
My shoulders drop, “…no.”
“Exactly. So stop being unreasonable.”
“How dare y-”
“You have no idea where he is, you don’t know where his family is, you don’t even know if he’s still in the city. What’s your plan, uh? Walking aimlessly around town at the crack of day?”
I know he’s right but -
“Maybe he’ll come back to the club tonight. We don’t know what’s in his head. He looked pretty out of it. I don’t think he listened to a thing I had said that night. He’ll come back.”
“What if he doesn’t?”
“In that case…” his hands drag me in his embrace and I realize I’m shaking, “We’ll find him. I promise.”
Chuck holds me tight as I cry in his arms.
I’m crying until I feel my eyes completely dry. Like, all the tears one person is allowed to shed had run out for me.
“I think you need a drink. There must not be anything left in you.” He says, guiding me to the big armchair and gently sitting me down. He, then, moves to the little table that holds our liquor, pours me a glass of whiskey and hands it to me. I make an effort to take it but my hands are shaking so bad that he motions for me to lower them and just places it in my palms that are resting on my lap.
“Let’s try to think positively.” He says, both to me and to himself. “We need some music. I always think better with music.” He goes to the record player and places a record on the turntable. The click of the arm is heard, the static of the record and the first notes of a song fill the room. I take a long sip from my drink and I see exactly how it had all begun for me and this man who’s looking at me with all the love in his eyes. The man who had given me hope but also untold fear.
This is the moment I enjoy the most. Too late to call it night but too soon to call it morning. When the city lights are starting to go off and night working people go back to their beds. Unless you have the last shift obviously. In that case, you stay until breakfast hours. I had just finished with the last customer about an hour ago. It had been a young night cabbie with a nice, tired smile, a generous tip prone hand and it had been nice to chat away the tiredness for those couple of hours.
I’ve been working here long enough to know that it’ll be a few more hours before some early bird walks inside for breakfast. For me, that means that it’s showtime, finally.
I only keep the counter lights on as I walk happily to the shiny jukebox in the corner and select the song I’m obsessed with this month. While the first notes fill the empty spaces between the booths, I grab the bucket, change the murky water and then I dance and freely sing along.
My twirling around pretending the mop is a microphone gets interrupted by the bell as the diner door opens.
I turn around annoyed, plastering the customary smile on my face and hoping I had done so in time.
What appears to be a tiny shivering figure, wrapped in a coat too long for it, jumps slightly, “Ah… is it though?”
“Uh?” I say, not actually knowing what to answer to that.
The figure shrugs off the humid coat and shakes its brown short curls, “I mean, I sure think it’s almost morning.”
I look out the window and the tiniest slither of gold can be seen between the buildings.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Right.” he rubs his hands to warm them up as he walks closer, “Good morning, then…” He bends down to read my tag, “…Y/N.” Usually, I would back away when clients get this close but he has this kind, frail air about himself that my body actually relaxes.
“Good Morning, Sir.” I smile, genuinely this time.
“Chuck.” He says, his smile making his blue eyes sparkle and now he looks younger than he seemed at first.
“Alright… Chuck. Counter or booth?” I ask.
He looks around and then at my hand holding the mop. “Counter will do. I don’t want to make you clean one of the tables again.”
A gentleman too.
Laying the mop beside the still playing jukebox, I quickly make my way behind the counter, taking out the paper pad and pen from my apron pocket. “What will it be then?”
“Um … I really, really need some hot coffee but I do also need to sleep soon, so maybe some tea?”
“Smart.” I chuckle, scribbling down quickly, “Would you like a bite too? I’ve got some pie left but it could very well be a bit stale at this hour. Maybe, I can convince the cook to whip up a couple of fresh, blueberry pancakes?”
“Oh, yes! Pancakes sound amazing right now.” He covers his mouth with a fist, muting a little burp. “Gotta have something to absorb the alcohol.”
I nod and walk back to the kitchen to place the order to Josiah, who’s snoring near the radio. A result of the horse race being repeated on his radio.
When I walk back, the man is tapping his fingers to the rhythm on the counter.
“5 - 8 minutes and they’ll be ready,” I say watching, as he doesn’t miss a beat.
While I’m waiting for the water to boil I set the place in front of him, placing a fork and knife and then pretend to clean the rest of the area until the food is ready.
As I put the plate in front of him, I also get the tea ready. “You mind if I go on cleaning?” I ask since he’s the only customer.
“Not at all.”
He eats in silence, head lulling low, shoulders hunched and he looks tiny and tired. I hope he won’t fall asleep on the stool and slips off of it. I smile and resume cleaning the floor to get it ready for the morning crowd. Without realizing it, I start humming as the next song begins and I get lost in it.
-with barons and earls
Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
Won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls
That’s why the lady is a tramp
I don’t see his head rising curiously or his eyes following me as I sway carelessly.
She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair
Life without care
She’s broke–and it’s “oke”
Hates California, it’s cold and it’s damp
That’s why the lady i-
I freeze and blush, “Wha - oh no, um -”
He swivels around on the stool, slurping from his cup.
He takes a moment to gulp down the hot liquid and clear his throat. “You a singer or something?”
Smiling shyly, I go back to the mopping, trying to avoid his gaze. “Not professionally, no. I always liked it, though.”
“Not really. I just got the solo position in my college choir once.”
“You went to college?!”
He’s speechless for several seconds. “The hell are you doing in a diner?”
I blush harder, in shame this time. “Didn’t finish…” I say sharply and walk fast past him placing the mop and bucket in the storage room. When I come back I see him standing by the jukebox, a coin between his fingers as he chooses the next song. His food is already forgotten on the counter.
“ Can you sing this?”
A fast-paced tune starts to play, one of the new songs that’s all the rage this year. Curiosity wins over my shyness and I get close to him and start singing.
His eyes are closed, his arms crossed and he nods listening until the song fades away.
“Oh, you sound nice!”
He studies me from head to toe and walks around me. Frankly, I would be creeped out if it wasn’t for the fact that it doesn’t feel dirty. When he’s in front of me again, he grabs his chin, pensively.
“Can you sing acapella?”
“It’s been a while, but, sure… I guess.”
Grinning, he sits down again and patting the stool near him he invites me to sit down. Strangely I do. Not that I have anything else to do anyway.
“What’s your story, love?”
I don’t know why but I feel like talking to him. Slipping a smoke from my breast pocket I search for the lighter but he’s quicker and flicks his zipper, cradling the flame between my hands. My eyes catch the insignia engraved on its side.
“Something close to yours, I guess,” I respond, nodding to the lighter.
His eyes grow distant and cold and I know that the war had touched all of us. Everyone, more or less, in some way or another, lost something or someone.
“I was having a hard time in college I guess. You know… you lived the worst of it. But those who were left behind fought their battle too. We all did. The war reached over the ocean.”
He nodded, silently.
“I was having a rough patch but I had friends and my studies and somehow my family too. Until -” my voice trembles slightly. “Until I had it no more.”
“ Sweethea -”
“Parents,” I say before letting him finish.
“I’m sorry.” he gently taps my shoulder. “Were they both in Europe?”
“…No, actually…” I chuckle. “Something completely unrelated. Something stupid and avoidable. Dumb car accident. It was night, it was raining, visibility was poor, the road was too wet. That’s what I’ve been told, anyway.”
He stays silent.
“My father always loved Italian sports cars. He had that one custom made for him and shipped over but he got it even before I was born. It was old and I don’t know much about cars but I guess it was fancy and fast.”
“…Yeah…” My fingers are playing with my apron, creasing it.
The clock ticking loudly in the now silent diner, the cigarette burning untouched in the ashtray.
“It was my fault, you know.”
“I’m sure it wasn -”
“I asked them to come get me. In the middle of the night and they just… they just jumped in and drove miles and miles. I knew the weather was bad but… I needed them and they just…”
“You’re their daughter, I’m sure every parent would drop everything and -”
“Well… they could have just asked our chauffeur like I thought they would. Instead… instead, they -…yeah…”
“I can understand the guilt, believe me, I really do. But in the end, it’s really not your fault. But tell me… from what you’ve told me, and forgive me for being this direct but… good education, Italian cars, chauffeur… how is it that a rich girl ends up in this dump part of town?”
“That…” I tap off the excess burning ash from the cigarette, I take a long drag and look at him, so tired all of a sudden.
“… That’s a long story.”
My home is filled with people. Black silhouettes dressed in black fabrics swirl in front of me, squeezing my slumped shoulders, grabbing my hands limp in my lap. Some of the neighbors from across the street or from around the corner. People who greeted me every day on their way to their usual chores. Others, not so familiar ones. Faces that I know I have seen before but I can’t quite place. I don’t even know what they are saying, their tone is sad, contrite, dripping in pity and sympathy and I hate it. I hate their look, their soft whispering voices. I hate them for the reason they’re here. As soon as I think the worst has passed, here it is again. Something heavy and ugly swells up and chokes me. Is it possible to exhaust one’s tears’ reserve? I’m dried up and yet my eyes seem to not get the memo as they burn and lose focus again… and again… and again. I just want to scream at them to get the hell out of the house. I want them to go away and leave me alone. But when I realize that alone is all I’m going to be from now on, I stay silent.
Hours merge into days and by the time I blink my eyes dry again, it’s already been weeks. I wake up curled on my father’s armchair placed in front of the fireplace. On the floor, a silver tray with breakfast left by Dot. I used to feel nauseous just looking at it but now the strong smell of coffee makes my stomach cramp.
She finds me sitting on the rug, nibbling at a buttered piece of toast.
“Good morning, Miss.” She smiles and I read in her eyes that she’s glad I’m finally eating again.
“ ‘morning Dot.”
“I’ve run the bath as usual Miss. When you’re ready, later, Fred needs to talk to you, okay?”
I nod and slowly make my way to the bathroom. As soon as I dive in the hot, lavender-scented water I feel all the tension melt away. But, unfortunately, so does the numb barrier I had built around me. Gathering my knees to my chest, I cry silently.
“Dot said you needed to see me?” I say as I see Fred waiting for me in my father’s study. He’s standing beside his chair, looking out the window.
“Yes. Good afternoon, Miss.” he turns around with his usual grave face but just a bit warmer now with a hint of a smile. “I’m glad to see you up.” Walking to the chair, he drags it back, pointing at it. “Please, sit down.”
I’m still at the door, my nails digging into the old dark wood of the frame. I have avoided coming here all this time. My parents’ presence is still strong in every room I enter but this place is filled by my father’s figure. The old books all lined up methodically. Heavy, dark green drapes drawn back to let the sun in, shining through the bottles of whiskey and bourbon and the crystal glasses. The smell of his pipe tobacco still lingering. I spot a small-cap, lying next to the last bottle he had used to pour himself a drink from. My fingers are trembling as I slowly place it back on the bottle, sealing it the way I’m trying to seal inside my heart everything around me. The smells, the things, the memories. I walk my way through all that and I stop to look down at the antique office chair. The leather is lighter where he used to sit for hours and hours a day. A hand squeezes my shoulder and I look up at Fred’s encouraging sad smile. I sit and I feel like I’m drowning in it. I remember sitting here when I was little, the few times I had managed to sneak in and climb in, my feet dangling not reaching the floor.
On the desk, in front of me, there are papers scattered around. Bills and work-related letters and correspondence. There are also some silver picture frames with pictures of me at various ages. Me as a baby, with my chubby, red cheeks and gummy smile. Me, a little older, sitting on a swing hanging from a tree in our backyard. Me, with my school bag on the first day of school. Me, me, me. I was the world to him and that’s what has brought me where I am now. Had he not rushed to get me from school… had he asked our chauffeur… had he…
Fred steps away to open the safe behind the painting hanging over my head and that stops me from breaking down again. I’m even surprised that I can control myself enough to take the stack of documents and sealed envelopes he hands me.
“My Lady…” he starts seriously. “The notary is waiting in the foyer. Should I let him in?”
I’m scared of the formal tone he uses. He has never addressed me like this before so I look at him nervously, gulping down the knot that’s closing my throat.
“Y - yes, please.” I look down at the documents. “…Let him in, thank you.”
He nods and with a tiny bow, he closes the door behind him.
I jump out the chair as soon as I’m alone, pour myself a generous glass of whatever is in those bottles and with trembling hands, I gulp it down in one sip before a quick knock breaks the silence.
“ C - come in.” I say, quickly returning to my seat.
“ Mr. DuMort, ma’am.”
A scary, thin man with a pointed nose in an impeccable, dark gray suit walks in helped by a black and silver shiny cane. I get up to greet him, extending a hand, like I always saw my father do.
He changes hand to shake mine.
“Good afternoon. Pleasure to meet you”
I point to the chair beside him and we both sit down.
“I’m sure we both wish the circumstances were less… unfortunate but I rarely meet my clients in happy moments.” He begins and I can feel he has used these words so many times.
I offer a tiny smile.
The lawyer looks at me for a long time and it feels like he’s studying me. So, I school my trembling lip and straighten my back.
“What can I do for you, Mr. DuMort?”
“Well, for starters,” He places both hands on his cane shifting his weight forward, his tiny beady eyes fixed on mine and a shiver runs down my spine.
“I’m here to offer my deepest condolences.”
“Quite a sudden and tragic loss. How are you coping?”
“As well as it can be expected.”
“Yes, yes, I should say so. You are indeed quite young.”
“I’m sure death doesn’t care for one’s age these days.”
“Ah yes, very much so. But again, it never did.”
“ Miss, you seem like an intelligent, although young, woman. I’m sure you must suspect why I’m here.”
“I guess it has to concern these stacks of documents.”
“It has. Have you opened or read any yet?”
“I have not.”
“That’s alright. Would you be so kind as to hand me that envelope?”
Looking down at the stack of papers, I reach for the big one. My fingers trace the elegant letters in my father’s handwriting before handing it over to his long, thin hand. Twisting off the silver handle of his cane I stare as a long paper-knife opens the letter.
“W - would you like a refreshment?” I ask suddenly anxious as he puts on tiny glasses. He stares at me above the golden rims.
“Thank you but that won’t be necessary. I’m sure we both want this to be over soon. Am I right?”
Opening the letter, he clears his voice and starts to read.
“This is the last will and testament of - ”
I let him read as I get up and walk towards the window, letting the formal words wash over me.
“ - in the occurrence of simultaneous deaths both parties agree to -” my fingers dig into my skin.
“ - the house and all there is on the property grounds to our daughter -” my mouth goes dry.
“ - stocks and funds are to be managed by the family lawyer or a later firm if she wishes so in the future -” I know nothing about any of this.
“ - as per living expenses and allowance see clause 3c - ” and so on and so forth with the list of stuff I don’t really care about now.
“Do you have any inquiries?”
The sun is high and the irrigated grass shines green and luscious. Mother’s lilies sway lazily in their perfect patterns. How am I going to keep her garden thriving? I know nothing of gardening or what flowers grow in what season and how to keep the grass so green and -
- my father’s cars? Do I sell them? Will they rot in the garage? What about the house? I don’t know a thing about how to run it, how to pay the staff, where the good china is, how to clean the silver, what to tell the cook to buy and prepare, how to -
I turn around, hand clutching my necklace. Mr. DuMort watches me, gently.
“I see you got a bit overwhelmed there. Please sit down and take a deep breath. I’ll guide you through everything and answer any doubts you have.”
I do as I’m told and the room stops spinning. “Yes…I’m afraid I don’t even know where to begin, Sir.”
“That’s totally normal. No one expects you to have everything under control.” He silently hands me the document back. “It’s all pretty straightforward and clear to us. Our firm has the task to manage most of your family’s assets until you are able to do it yourself or until you decide whether or not to keep it.”
“ How should I kn - ”
“Which I’ll instruct you, personally, in the future. The more pressing matter is the discussion of your own money and how to dispense it. Your parents created a bank account where, if such a scenario happened, a sum of money will be deposited every month.”
“There’s a catch, though.”
He looks uncomfortable. “Well, in order to access the money you would have to be…in a stable position to do so.”
“…a …stable position?”
“ Engaged or preferably married.”
“ Your mother, very much, pushed for this. In the meantime, everything will still be added to the account. You just won’t be able to access it until your parents’ wish will be honored”
I let myself fall back on the chair deflated and a bitter laugh escapes my lips.
“Of course she did” I mumble.
I’m not even angry. I’m really not. I should be. I should be angry, furious. Instead, I’m just tired. Because fate is cruel and not even my mother could have known what life had in store for me.
And so, just like this, in the span of a year, I lost all I’ve known and all I could have had.
The rest of the months were filled with asserting my Father’s proprieties and affairs. I was glad I didn’t have to manage them. He had made sure everything was looked after by his employees and partners. All the people he trusted. The only thing I really had in my hands was my home. At first, I had accepted the role and responsibility of it but as the months passed by I began to grow more and more miserable. I hated it. The walls kept closing in on me and I felt trapped. Then, one morning I woke up to the realization that I wasn’t forced to actually stay here.
I was free.
I had paid a very high price for it but I was free.
I, clearly, had no more time for college and in a way, I didn’t need it to escape some arranged marriage anymore. Still, dropping out felt like a ton of bricks had just landed on my head. Selling most of the things in the house that I had no more use for, granted me a large sum of money that I could use freely although Mr.DuMort wasn’t amused by it until I had assured him that I would not sell the property. After a week of writing the best references for the staff, I had to let them go but not before finding them new, secure positions. Sorting all those matters out, was a blur that kept me busy until I found myself with a couple of suitcases and a train ticket.
I didn’t know what to expect, nor where I would stay. I wasn’t sure where I’d go or what job I would find but it was time. With a last look back at what was once my only security and all I had known, I stepped into the cab.
NB: I got the name “DuMort” from 91Whiskey. Couldn’t find a better one honestly.