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Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

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“Oh, you’re in luck! The honeymoon suite is available!”

Great. Another awkward night in yet another Winchester Special motel.

“Uh, sure,” Sam said as he set his credit card one the counter. “That okay with you, Natalie?”

She groaned under her breath before she turned over her shoulder with a tight-lipped smile. “Yeah, that’s fine.”

The receptionist’s toothy grin widened so far Natalie thought her face might crack. “Newlyweds? Or just on vacation?”

No matter how many times it happened, Sam always had the audacity to look shocked when anyone assumed that he and Natalie were a couple. “No, we’re… we’re just co-workers.”

She withdrew the key she had held out for Sam. “Oh, no! I’m so sorry.” Her face fell as she returned to her ledger. “I've got two single rooms open, just let me get the keys.”

The receptionist stilled at Sam's gentle touch—a touch Natalie knew so well—of his fingers to the back of her hand. “Delilah, right?” he asked.

Delilah’s brilliant smile returned, illuminating the entire room. She was gorgeous like Elizabeth, fair and blonde and tall, and if she could have turned a shade of green, Natalie would have turned emerald with envy as Sam returned her smile.

“It's okay,” he said. “We don't mind. The suite will be fine.”

Fine. Sure. If Natalie slept on the sofa. After sharing the last queen bed with Sam, Natalie had learned several hard lessons, the least of which being just how much space Sam occupied. And it wouldn't have been so bad if he wasn’t… him, so tall and lean and smelling like a mountain lodge on a lake in the dead of winter all the time. It hadn't been the first time she had picked apart his scent, but it was decidedly the last. After that night, Natalie had determined to keep her feelings to herself, bury them deep and forget they existed.

But then the warmth of his hand enveloped her shoulder and Natalie startled. Sam towered over her, hunched shoulders and head low as he peered into her eyes. “Hello? Earth to Natalie?”

How did he do it? With such effortlessness, Sam had disarmed her without trying. “Sorry. Got distracted,” she said with a laugh.

Sam took her bag from her hands and headed down the nearest hallway to their room. “You okay?”

Shit. He always read her like an open book. “That’s the fifth time we’ve been mistaken for a couple in six months.”

At the door, Sam laughed as he unlocked the handle. “You should see how often Cas and Dean get the honeymoon suite,” he said. “It’s fucking hilarious.”

Natalie grinned at that. “I can see it,” she laughed. “Does it piss Dean off?”

He pushed the door aside to reveal a larger motel room with a queen bed. At least the decorations had been limited to tasteful shades of brown and teal instead of the garish rose reds she had seen in previous suites. As she shuffled past him, she replied. “Oh, yeah. He tries to play their relationship so close to the chest, but I don’t think either of them realizes the way they look at each other.”

Natalie doubled over with laughter at that, tears welling and blurring her vision. “Oh, that—that’s rich. I’d pay to see it happen. Just once.”

His laughter followed her to the small sofa where she set her backpack. When his laughter quieted, she turned to him and gestured to the couch. “I think I’m gonna sleep here tonight.”

He looked to the bed, then the couch, and back. “Why? This bed is huge.”

Natalie scoffed through her nose. “Yeah, and you’re huge.”

The ruddy red blush that flooded Sam’s face puzzled Natalie at first, but after a beat, she understood. “I mean, you take up a lot of space! You know what I meant!”

Sam regarded the bed again, then his eyes snapped to hers. “Did I… do something… something weird last time we were out on a hunt together?”

It was her turn to blush, that awful sting prickling her cheeks. “No!” she barked. “No, you just… you’re really big, dude, you take up like most of a queen size bed. Maybe under different circumstances…”

His eyes widened as he turned to look at her head-on. “What kind of circumstances?”

Her jaw worked as she tried to come up with a reason beyond one that involved a deeper relationship. “Like, maybe, if that was a king bed,” she stuttered as she flipped a hand at the bed. “Or maybe if I’d brought better pajamas and not just giant sleep shirts.”

“I like your shirts.”

“My dad got them for me when he was—wait, what?”

He seemed to not have heard himself, for he spun back to his bags and busied himself there. “I… just thought they look comfy. Your dad got them?”

She pulled her bottom lip through her teeth. “Yeah,” she started. “Years ago, when I was a kid. I’ve been the same height since I was about twelve or thirteen, so they still fit. And… my dad…”

He stopped his rummaging at that, head slumping his chin to his chest. “I’m a fucking asshole. I didn’t mean to bring up your parents. It’s… you’ve never really talked about them since we first met.”

True, she had played most of her personal life close to the chest. “There’s not much to say. I miss my family. But that was… Christ, that was over twenty years ago.”

“I’m sorry—”

“He raced cars,” she continued. “Gearhead. Went to all these meets. Always bought me a t-shirt. I probably have two hundred of them in temperature-controlled storage back in Chicago.”

Sam’s arms enveloped her before Natalie realized he had crossed the room. In his embrace, she felt a rare sense of tranquility she had found nowhere else. Something about the tender strength with which he held her said more than any words could, more than any thought could convey. Her arms slipped around his waist, and if Sam could hold her closer, he damn well tried.

“Thank you, Natalie,” he muttered. “For sharing.”

“I’ve never told anyone that,” she said. “Except Liz, obviously. Then again, neither of us had real friends. Hunter partners, acquaintances, sure. But nobody like you and Dean. And Cas.”

“I don’t think you understand just how much that means to me,” Sam said.

“I don’t think you understand just how much you mean to me,” Natalie replied.

He held her back at arm’s length and examine her as though he saw her for the first time. “Me, personally?”

“Well, yeah,” she started, “I mean, we spend a lot of time together. Lots of similar interests. We hardly ever argue. It’s… the easiest relationship I’ve ever had. Besides Liz.”

His thousand-watt smile spread across his pink lips as he blushed, and Natalie wanted nothing more than to kiss him. And he seemed to read her mind as his tongue slipped between his lips. Dammit, she should just do it, take matters into her own hands and tell him, tell him everything until she—

Sam moved quick as a cat, far too fast for Natalie to respond. His massive hands cupped her cheeks, holding what felt like her entire head in his palms as he pressed his lips to hers for an insistent, yet short, kiss.

The wet sound of their parting filled Natalie’s ears and she followed him as far as she could reach until he straightened. Aghast terror contorted his too pretty face as he gaped and stuttered his apology.

“I… shit, I’m so sorry,” he started as he backed away, “that… that was wrong, I shouldn’t have done that without asking, I—”

Natalie leapt into his embrace, arms and legs wrapped around him, and Sam tumbled backwards onto the bed. Fervent kisses satisfied her, and Sam collapsed to his back, pulling her down with him. So many minutes might have passed, but Natalie didn’t care. Not in the least. Only when she needed to breathe did she come up for air.

“All those nights in motel suites?” Sam asked.

“I thought we were just friends,” she replied.

Sam grinned at that as he flipped her to her back and settled between her thighs spread wide. The glorious weight of him, firm and thick in all the right places, encroached on her every sense; hazel eyes gazed into hers, soft brown locks teased at her cheeks, and gun oil mingled filled her nose. The last sensation filled her mouth as Sam kissed her again, his tongue slipping past her lips and tasting of whiskey. At last, at long last he knew how she felt. And she thanked whatever gods existed that he felt the same way.

When Sam parted from her, he kissed along her jaw to whisper in her ear, “ How about friends with benefits?”

Greedy fingers nipped at her skin as he smoothed her skin from hips to breasts, and as Natalie replied, she sighed, “Depends on what kind of benefits you’re talking about.”

He knelt between her thighs and parted the button of her jeans, then glared up at her from beneath his prominent brow. Natalie shivered beneath that look, terrifying and yet, incredibly arousing. As he tugged her free of her pants and leaned between her thighs, he whispered against the fabric of her underwear.

“I can show you.”