“Sam? Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Sam looked up from his book to find Bela standing in the kitchen doorway. She wore jeans and one of her normal expensive-looking blouses now, lacy and cap-sleeved and green to match her eyes, instead of the tank top and one of Dean's button-ups she’d been sporting earlier in the day.
“’Course. Are you okay? Is your head worse?” She’d stayed behind when Dean left to get groceries for dinner because of a bad headache.
She looked a little embarrassed. “Um, actually, it never hurt. I just said that because I wanted to talk to you alone.”
“What's wrong?” He snapped the book shut and pushed back his chair, alarm shooting through him.
“Nothing! Sit!” Flushing now, she hurried to sit in the seat across from his.
He sank back down, eyeing her warily. “Is something wrong with Dean?” If they were having relationship issues, he so did not want to get in the middle.
“No! Not at all. It’s nothing bad, I promise. I just- I have a question for you.”
“That doesn’t involve Dean?”
“No, it involves him- I just wanted to ask you first.”
In an instant, his misgivings vanished. Excitement pulsed through him until he felt almost giddy. “Yes. You have my permission.”
She stared at him. “Beg pardon?”
He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. “You have my permission. My blessing. I give him to you.”
Her cheeks were very red now. “Um. Thank you. But I’m not…that isn’t…”
His stomach plunged. Heat built in him until his own face felt as hot as hers looked.
“You weren’t asking me if you could marry him.” He tried desperately to sound nonchalant, amused even, like he’d just been joking.
She ducked her head toward the table so he couldn’t see her eyes and gave a tiny shake. “No…”
He tried not to look disappointed. “Right. Um. Forget I said anything. I was just joking.”
Her head shot back up, and she frowned.
Before she could call him on the obvious lie, he said quickly, “So what did you want to ask me?”
She hesitated, eyeing him more speculatively now. He braced himself for an interrogation (why had he opened his stupid mouth? Dean would be so pissed if he found out), but to his relief, she gave another little shake, as though to get herself back on track, and took a deep breath.
“How would you feel about moving in with me? In Westchester?”
He stared at her. “Move in like…like move in? Permanently? Leave the bunker?”
“Yes. Not leave it as in sell it, of course. Just leave it as in…close it up for now and live with me instead. I’m not suggesting you stop hunting, of course,” she added after a pause, when he didn’t speak. “I know you’d still travel. But your home base, so to speak, could be my house instead. Would you be interested in that?”
He couldn’t say that, though- not yet. A knot formed in his stomach, but he tried not to let his hurt feelings show on his face. Dean was moving in with Bela? How could he have made such a huge decision without even talking to Sam about it first? He’d really thought they were past keeping secrets from each other. Yeah sure, Dean was a grown-up and could make his own decisions about his equally grown-up relationship and didn’t need his little brother’s permission to move in with his girlfriend, but…
He couldn’t think of a ‘but,’ at least not a rational one.
But we're supposed to do things together.
And I'm the one who’s supposed to leave.
His chest felt horribly tight as he said stiffly, because that was the only way he could keep from sounding upset, “Is Dean moving in with you?”
“I haven’t talked with him about it. I wanted to ask you first.”
Right, she’d said that.
He did a double take. “What? Why? You haven’t asked him yet?”
“Why not? Why do you want to talk to me first? It doesn’t matter what I think…”
She frowned again. “Of course it does. He wouldn’t leave you here if you didn’t want to go, and I would never ask him to.”
For a moment Sam couldn’t speak. He looked down at the table in case his eyes did anything horrifying, like tear up, and cleared his throat. “Thanks. That’s really…thanks. So you- you’d be okay with me moving in, too? I wouldn’t…cramp your style? I don’t want to be a third wheel…”
“Of course I want you to move in, too,” she said, with such feeling in her voice that he had to believe she meant it. “But if you don’t want to, I understand. I know you have a life here and-”
“Of course I want to!”
She paused, her lips quirking just a little, like she wasn’t sure it was safe to smile yet. “Really?”
He nodded vigorously. “We don't have a life here. We have the bunker, but this is just- this is just where we sleep. Don’t tell Dean I said that, he’s more attached- but not that attached,” he amended hastily, when her smile disappeared. “He's way more attached to you.”
“So you think I should ask him?”
“And you think he’ll say yes?”
“Absolutely.” After seeing the way Dean moped every time they parted nowadays- almost like he was wilting- there were few things he’d been more certain of in his life.
She smiled without reservation then, the kind of smile that made her look almost ethereal. “All right. Thank you.”
He almost laughed at the absurdity that she was thanking him. He wanted to say it back, to tell her how much her offer meant, but he could only smile, his throat too constricted for words.
They were going to move to New York- to a real house, with someone in it who cared about them; it would be like settling down- and maybe once they settled down a little bit, Dean would decide he wanted to settle down all the way and give up hunting for good…
“Has Dean said anything about marriage?”
His daydreams of domesticity and boring 9-to-5 jobs ground to an ignominious halt. She was studying him far too closely for his liking, and she herself was poker-faced, so he couldn’t tell what answer she wanted to hear. Of course it had been too much to hope for that his faux pas from earlier would be ignored.
He felt himself flush again. “Uh…”
Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck-
“No,” he admitted. “But not no like he wouldn’t be interested if you were! I’m sure he’d be- I mean, I can’t speak for him obviously-”
Even though he totally just had regarding the move.
“But I think he’d- if you wanted- do you want?”
He held his breath.
“I want…” She considered for a moment and then gave him an enigmatic smile. “I want to stop being long distance.” She pushed back her chair and stood. He thought it was a dismissal, but on her way out of the kitchen she paused beside him, dropped her hand on his shoulder, and bent so her lips were right next to his ear. “But I’m glad I have your permission. I’ll keep it in mind.”