A while later, Alex was alone in the kitchen, copying down a pesto pasta salad recipe for future reference, when she looked out the kitchen window and saw Dean leaning against the car, his back to the house. She slipped into her shoes, and went outside, tucking her arms against her body for warmth.
“Hey,” she said, approaching carefully. She knew better than to startle him.
“Hey,” he said, sounding a little surprised.
“Do you mind some company?” Alex asked.
“No problem,” he said. “Cold?”
“Yeah, I should have grabbed my coat first,” Alex said.
Dean lifted his coat off the trunk and handed it to her, and she thanked him and slipped into it.
“A little big,” he said, grinning and tugging it closed around her. The cuffs fell over her hands and he could only see the tips of her fingers.
“Look,” she said, not sure how to start, “I just wanted to make sure everything was okay. I mean, that you were okay with – how things turned out.”
“With you and Nick?” he said. “Yeah, I’m okay with it. I’m gonna miss the fun, but I’m okay with it.”
Alex blushed without meaning to.
“I just – I didn’t want you to – “ she stopped, feeling shy, which she didn’t often feel anymore. “I felt like I just abandoned you –“
“You didn’t,” he said, watching the cool breeze wend through her hair. “I could see it coming.”
“Yeah, it’s not like it’s a big secret, I guess,” Alex said. “Everybody else seems to have figured it out long before we ever got things straight.”
“It was a little obvious after a while,” he conceded. “So. Does he count as your Prince Charming? That’s what you said you wanted, back in
“He’s my Prince Sometimes-Charming, I think,” Alex said with a smile. “Prince Occasionally-Asinine? To go with Princess of Drama?"
“I was gonna say the Queen of Trouble,” Dean snorted.
“Thanks,” Alex said dryly. “Anyway, trust me when I tell you this is the right thing. I just – know. I’m never sure about anything, but I just know this time.”
He nodded to show that he did trust her, and gave her an acquiescing smile.
But after a few moments, he said,
“Can I ask you something?” When she nodded, he went on. “When we went out to find you the night the hellhound attacked you, Nick said something about
Alex looked at the ground with a sheepish smile, her cheeks turning pink.
“I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this out loud,” she said. “By the time I got on that plane I was pretty much half in love with you. Don’t freak - it was just that you represented my means of escape from all the problems I was dealing with. But yes, if you had asked me to go on the road with you and Sam, I would have gone. And after about a week we would have killed each other and I would have been a wedge between you and your brother. So it would have been a bad idea, and I knew that subconsciously. You and me – yeah, if anything’s a recipe for disaster, that’s it.” But her affectionate grin told him she meant it kindly, and he knew what she said was true. “Anyway, a couple of days later, I made some life-changing decisions. I knew then what a mistake it would have been to go with you, even if you had offered, which I knew you wouldn’t.”
He shook his head.
“I couldn’t ask,” he said. “I guess I kind of knew you wanted to go. But look how it all turned out. You really do look happy.”
She smiled up at him, grateful. He might have his moments, but he cared.
“I am,” she said. “I really am. Without what happened in
“You just did,” he said, giving her arm an affectionate squeeze, but she could see his mind was going elsewhere, as his face sobered and he dropped eye contact. “When we – after the hellhound attacked you, Sunny said – well, she said that you cared about me despite the things I’ve done wrong. Is that – is that true? Do you think I’m a good person?”
“Absolutely,” Alex said with no hesitation.
“But-but you don’t know all the things we’ve done,” he said. How could she have faith in him if she didn’t know? That was part of the reason he never wrote her emails. He wanted to tell her everything they’d seen and done – she would never accept anything less than complete honesty from him – and if he didn’t write he could avoid that temptation.
“But I know you,” she replied. “And I know what kind of person you are. You would do anything for the people you care about, especially Sam. You have a good heart and he’s lucky to have you.”
“Can you tell him that?” he joked.
“He already knows it,” Alex said, smiling fondly at him. “And thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I mean it.” She reached up to hug him.
He wasn’t expecting it, and he wasn’t expecting how he would feel when she did it. And so he held on to her a second longer than politeness dictated, and when she pulled back, she looked at him carefully.
“Promise me something, will you?” he said. “If he hurts you or leaves you, you call me, okay?”
“I will,” Alex said. She gave him an affectionate smile. “When you’re ready, you’ll meet an amazing woman. She will never leave you.”
“I’m not letting her drive the car,” he said, and Alex laughed.