Okay, so this is not my best work, but this idea came to me and the whiskey made me write it.
Title: In Another Life
Word Count: 2031
Summary: AU. What if Dean wasn’t the one with the scars? Would he have the stability to help someone put themselves back together?
Dean breathed in deep and looked around the crowded baseball stadium. He hadn’t been able to convince Sam to come to the baseball stadium with him, but he was determined to have a good time. He and John had done this every year for the Fourth of July, until his dad passed away from a heart attack a few months back. Mary had offered to go to the ball park with him, but Dean knew she would enjoy shooting off fireworks with Sam, Jess, and the twins. That was her comfort after losing John.
He looked down where he and his dad usually sat; his seat was open, but, standing at the top of the steps for that section, Dean noticed a girl sitting in his father’s seat. Tilting his head to one side, Dean frowned and took his beer and two hot dogs down to the appropriate section and seat.
“Excuse me, but that seat … Well, it’s not taken, but I don’t think …” Dean stumbled out trying to explain that the seat was supposed to be open so he could think about his dad and think about the memories they had built in this ballpark over the years.
The girl turned towards him. Her long hair was stitched into a careful braid, and topped with a trucker hat that sported the hometown team’s logo on the front. She wore a simple tank top and cutoff shorts.
“I’m sorry,” she winced. “I wasn’t necessarily planning on coming today, but this was the best seat in the house – well, second best.”
Dean sat down where she had motioned to when correcting herself. “Yeah, that’s why my dad picked these seats. Then gave me this one.”
“Is this supposed to his seat?”
He paused. “Yeah, it’s supposed to be, but he’s not going to make it.”
He’s not going to make it. The exact words the doctors had used when telling the Winchester family that John wasn’t going to survive the heart attack, despite the doctors doing everything they could.
She pursed her lips together. “I can move. I’ll find a different seat. I wasn’t supposed to be here, actually –”
Something about the way she said that made Dean stop her. “No, it’s all right. Are you here alone?”
She held up her plastic cup. “Just me and Bud.”
He chuckled, tapping his own beer against her. “Cheers. I’m Dean.”
“Avalee,” she returned. “Are you staying for the fireworks?”
Dean confirmed that he was, indeed, staying for the fireworks. His family had assured him that he would be missed, but knew he needed this day to remember his father. They had been so close, and John had always told Dean how proud of him he was for the things he had done – Little League games and high school football. The same for Sam, although Sam and Mary had always been closer than Sam and John. At any rate, he didn’t want to drag down the spirit of the holiday for his family with his memories of what used to be – especially for his niece and nephew.
Avalee kept him smiling through the whole game. He really wasn’t quite sure what it was, but sitting next to her, heckling the umpire and cheering on the home team, made what Dean thought would be a sad day to one of the best times he’d had at a ball game. She knew about the game and the players, not to mention, she matched him beer for beer. They both stood up from their seats with the rest of the stadium-goers when the game went into ten and then eleven innings, and when the home team finally took the win, they jumped up and down and hugged each other.
Almost without thinking, Dean put an arm around Avalee as the fireworks started. As though it were reflex, Avalee maneuvered in front of him and leaned back against his chest. Dean had known this girl for only a few hours, but he didn’t want this to be the last time he saw her.
“Hey, are you still up for going out? Doesn’t have to be crazy. I know a great hole-in-the-wall taco place …” he offered.
Avalee seemed to consider his offer. “Okay. Let’s do it.”
They held hands out to the parking lot, and Dean offered to drive them to the burger joint and bring Avalee back to her car after they ate. She accepted and slid into the front seat of the 1967 Impala that John had left to Dean after he passed away.
“This is an amazing car,” Avalee breathed. She pointed to a tattered photograph on the dash. “Is that you and your dad?”
“Yeah,” Dean confirmed. “I was about four there, I think. He let me sit on his lap and steer the whole way down the block.”
Avalee smiled. “Sounds like he’s a pretty good guy.”
“Yeah, he was.” Dean realized that up to that point, he hadn’t told Avalee anything personal. Maybe this was the time to start that. “He passed away a few months ago. Heart attack. We used to come to the Fourth of July game every year, just the two of us.”
Realization washed over Avalee’s pretty features. “I was sitting in his seat, wasn’t I? Dean, I’m sorry. I wish you would have said something.”
Dean shook his head. “Spending the game with you was way better than spending it on my own.”
He watched her try to fight a shy smile as he directed the car toward the burger joint. Avalee asked him to tell her more stories about John, if he wanted. Dean was happy to oblige.
“He sounds like he was a really amazing guy,” she said, crumpling up her napkin and dropping it onto her empty plate. “Did he bring you here often?”
“No, I found this place on my own.”
“Good. I ruined your seats at the stadium, I wouldn’t want to ruin your burger joint, too.”
Dean chuckled. “Actually, I was thinking maybe this could be our burger joint.”
Avalee’s face fell for a moment, then she smiled and chugged down the rest of her beer. “I’d like that.”
Back at the stadium parking lot, Dean pulled up next to Avalee’s car. “Thanks for coming out with me. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Avalee took a deep breath. “I don’t want to sound forward when I say this, and, please, don’t assume the worst of me. I’m going to ask you something I’ve never asked a guy after a first … meeting or date or whatever this was – would you want to come back to my place?”
Dean hesitated. Avalee was beautiful and he certainly wanted to spend more time with her, but did he really want to rush things? Still, the pleading in her eyes tugged at his heartstrings, and Dean knew he wouldn’t say no if his life depended on it.
He followed her back to her apartment, noticing her hands shake with nerves as she unlocked the door. She dropped her bag by the door and turned on a couple of lights while Dean looked around.
“Do you want something to drink or anything?” Avalee offered, wringing her hands.
Dean Winchester had been with his fair share of women, but something about this one, nervous and bold at the same time, got to him. He wanted to take a hold of her and never let her go. He stepped toe to toe with her and put his hands on her hips.
“Avalee,” he started, his voice low and rough. “Do you want me to leave?”
She looked up at him from under the brim of her baseball cap and shook her head. “No.”
“Nothing’s going to happen that you’re not comfortable with. I’m not assuming the worst at all, but I know you didn’t just ask me back here for a drink.”
She swallowed hard. “I didn’t. I just, uh, didn’t want the night to end, and then suddenly, maybe I did want a little more.”
He smiled. “Same here. Will it make you more nervous if I kiss you?”
Another gulp. “I don’t think so.”
“Okay. I’m just going to take this cap off for you so that –”
“No!” Avalee squealed out. She nearly jumped away from him, retreating into the small kitchen. Dean followed her in and noticed that her cheeks were a bright pink. “I’m sorry for that.”
“Maybe I should go.”
“Please don’t,” Avalee begged.
“We will see each other again,” Dean assured. “But if you don’t even want me to take your ball cap off …”
“It’s not that simple, actually.”
He crossed his arms over his chest. “All right. Then why don’t you explain it to me?”
She stood with her back to the wall and wiped at a traitorous tear falling down her cheek. After closing her eyes for a few moments and taking some deep breaths, she looked straight at him. Pulling the cap off her head, she slowly turned to face to the right, revealing a significant, curved scar on the side of her head.
Dean sucked in a breath. “What happened to you, Avalee?”
The tears fell, but her voice was steady. “Drunk driver in a truck way bigger than my car t-boned me at an intersection. My skull cracked, and I had a brain bleed. It could have been a lot worse, really, but they had to do some extensive surgery to stop the bleed, then go back in when some complications come up. I’ve realized since then that I’ve got to live life to its fullest, so I’ve been doing all these things that I never got to do or that scare me a little.”
“Like baseball games on the Fourth of July, and taking home a guy you just met,” Dean surmised.
She nodded. “But Dean, it wasn’t like it could have been just any guy. I didn’t go to that game hoping to find a guy and bring him home. I just wanted to watch some baseball and fireworks. You just happened.” A short pause to wipe some tears. “I still have bad days. I get moody, or I forget things, or I can’t finish a sentence. I’m still kind of a mess. And the scar, that’s really awful. I never go out unless I’ve got on a ball cap or some kind of covering to hide it. I really like you, and I don’t want to hide anything from you.”
He took a few steps and again put his hands on her hips. He pushed the hair away from her face, trailing his fingers down her braid. “You’re beautiful.”
Avalee cried a little harder. For all the time she thought no one would love her with such scars, here was a man right in front of her who at least thought she was beautiful. When he repeated the words as he ran his fingers over the scar, she couldn’t help but kiss him.
The next morning, when she woke up and remembered everything about the night before, including the man sleeping nude beside her, Avalee had to smile. She had made the right choice. There were no regrets about this. Dean stirred and stretched, looking over to her with a smile and tugging her close to him.
“I’m going to my mom’s for lunch today,” he told her as she found her underwear and Dean’s shirt to pull on and make coffee. “Why don’t you come with me?”
She snorted. “You want to take your one night stand home?”
Dean shook his head. “I want to take the girl I just started seeing home to meet my family.”
Avalee gave a small nod. “Okay.”
They spent the morning together, Avalee getting ready first, then going to Dean’s with him so he could clean up and change. As lunch time neared, she grew more and more nervous about meeting the rest of the Winchester clan, but Dean assured her they would all get along just fine.
When they left from Dean’s house to his mother’s, Avalee left her ball cap on his kitchen counter. Maybe she didn’t need it anymore.