There was a long pause; so long that Sam thought maybe John had hung up, but then he heard his father heave a long deep sigh.
"It's not what you think Sam. I didn't choose for Dean to die just so you could live. It wasn't like that."
"Then what was it like? Because to me, to Dean, it looked like you cared more about me than you did about Dean. He has always done what you've told him; he's always taken your side in hunts even when he didn't agree with you because we both know you don't hear anyone's side but your own. Dean has always done what you've wanted from him and you just go off and leave him without a single word as to why. Then you chose him to die telling him you don't care about him at all."
"What Dad?! What could you possibly say that will take away the hurt you've laid on him? What?!" Sam didn't care if he was yelling now. He was angry with his father over so many things that this was just the final straw.
"I chose Dean because I knew if I chose you that Dean couldn't live with you dead. He just…he just couldn't do it." John finally answered.
"What?" Sam was shocked. "You chose him to die because you think I can handle Dean's death better than he can handle mine?" What the hell kind of logic was that? Sam thought.
"It's the truth Sam. Dean has always, always put you first. He would willingly step in front of a bullet for you. You know he would. He could not live if he knew he was alive because you died. And I was pushed into a corner, I didn't know what to say, so I made the best decision I could under the circumstances. I'm not perfect Sammy. I'm not and I'm sorry for that and for this. I never thought Dean would think I didn't care about him any less than I care about you. I care." John's voice lowered as he struggled with his own emotions. "I know I messed up a lot with you boys, but I did the best I could…I…I just wish I could have done a lot of things differently."
Sam just stood there listening to his father. At first he was shocked the man would try to justify his decision with any kind of an explanation; but the more Sam thought about it, he knew his father was right. He knew he'd grieve for Dean, he'd hurt, he'd want Dean back, but no matter how much it would hurt Sam to lose Dean, he knew it would be ten times worse for Dean. Dean could not do it. No way.
Sam sighed. Just how much more screwed up could his family become? He thought. He ran a hand through his shaggy hair as he turned around to face the bar and instead came face to face with his brother. Damn it.
"Everything all right here guys?" Jimmy asked the group when he noticed the four come back inside to reclaim their seats at their table. "You guys need anything else before the others get here?"
"No Jimmy, we're good here. And don't worry, everything's gonna be fine." Amanda said as she turned to look at Jimmy.
"Yeah, sure it is." Jimmy paused offering her a weak smile. "Can we, umm talk for a minute Amanda…in private?" He asked as he shuffled his feet standing there.
Amanda looked at Dean to see if maybe he had a clue as to what Jimmy wanted, but Dean just shrugged his shoulders. "Sure." She said as she got up and followed Jimmy through the kitchen and into his office.
Amanda noticed right away that the bed was made and nothing seemed out of place, but she still blushed when she looked at the bed. Jimmy noticed her look and couldn't help a chuckle that escaped from within him.
"Don't worry, I straightened up before Lila saw anything out of place. Didn't want her thinking I was cheating on her!" He grinned at her.
Amanda continued to blush. "I'm sorry; I should have thought about that!"
"Amanda," Jimmy laughed. "It's all right. You know you're welcome here anytime. Besides I was with Lila last night so she'd know it had to be you. And I found your note and money for the beer you left by the register. You're fine and I'm happy for you. Dean's a fine young man."
"Yeah; key word there 'young'." Amanda replied quietly.
"And what's wrong with that? Lila's a lot younger than me; am I robbing the cradle?" He asked her with a twinkle in his eye.
Amanda laughed. "Lila is all of six years younger than you, Jimmy. Dean is almost… well he's more than that."
"So?" He asked again.
Amanda looked at him not understanding why he didn't get it. "What do you mean 'so'?"
"I mean why does it matter how much younger the boy is than you? He likes you; a lot. And he makes sure everyone knows it." Jimmy reached out and took one of her hands in hers. "That boy may be young in years, but he is wise in experience with life. He's lived a long time in his young life."
"Yeah, he has. He's had a rough life so that he could make sure his brother didn't."
"You like him?" He asked softly.
"Yes, I do." She smiled at him as she answered.
"Then don't be such a worry wart. If there's one thing I know, it's that life is too short to worry about what isn't really all that important in the first place."
"Thanks Jimmy." She said as she squeezed the man's hand in acknowledgment. "But you didn't call me in here to discuss my love life. I hope not anyway."
Jimmy offered her up a weak grin. "No; I wanted to talk about Brenda…and…her mother."
Amanda had thought he would be thinking along those lines but didn't know what more she could tell him. "What do you want to say? You know as well as I do that Brenda is being used here and we don't know who is using her."
Jimmy rubbed his hand over his face. He was tired; he hadn't slept since Brenda's disappearance. "You know just as well as I do who is behind this, Amanda. I'm just worried what lies she's putting in my girl's head."
"We don't know that for sure Jimmy. And Brenda could very well be totally oblivious to what's happening to her. We just need to find her and then we can get some answers." She patted his hand as she tried to comfort the man.
Jimmy was almost sixty-three years old and life had been hard on the man before he'd finally settled down. Jimmy was the same age as Amanda's oldest brother Evan and even if they were from different generations, she would always put family first.
"You know I would do anything for you and Brenda. I have done anything for you, and now is not the time to let that woman ruin your life all over again. She made her choice back then and she can't expect things to change now."
"But I know it's her. These men she's taking, they look like I looked thirty-five years ago and we know why she's choosing them. They've all been involved in a wild kind of lifestyle like I was. They were also all Hunters; like I was…once." He replied softly.
"That may be true and I admit it's quite possible she's behind this, but we just don't know that for sure."
"Your young man, Dean fits that bill. That's who she was after Thursday night. You have to protect him; I can't be responsible for anymore deaths." Jimmy looked at Amanda with such a look of despair that Amanda felt her heart breaking.
She was his cousin; she may have been just a little girl when Jimmy and her brothers were out carousing and just being young guys, but she was family. And here in Texas, family was everything no matter what.
"I just wish my Laura were here to help me face this. She would know how to handle all of this."
Amanda smiled at the memory of Jimmy's wife who had died when Brenda was young. "You know I will protect Dean Jimmy; and Laura would tell you the same thing I'm telling you. Just because she's not Brenda's birth mother, she knew her daughter and she would tell you to keep fighting and to have faith. I promise we will end this." Amanda began as she stood up. "I promise you with everything I am that I will find Brenda and I will bring her home to you. Then I will find who is behind this and I will end them. My promise to you."
"We both will." Dean said from the doorway of the office where he was leaning against the frame.
Amanda and Jimmy both turned to look at Dean. Amanda smiled a thank you to the man while wondering just how much of their conversation he'd heard. She didn't want to explain things that were Jimmy's business, but then again this was all screwed up because with Dean a target, well he deserved to know just what the hell was going on here.
Dean stood next to Amanda as they looked out at the woods behind the bar where they had come after talking with Jimmy. Dean wanted to talk alone so they'd come out the back door off the kitchen and now stood on the back patio. Amanda could feel that something was bothering Dean, yet she was having some trouble reading him right now.
"Are you all right Dean?" She asked truly concerned at what could be causing him some anxiety at the moment. She had not seen him like this before and it bothered her.
"I'm umm, I'm good. Just wanted to check on whether you were in trouble with Jimmy and couldn't help catching the end of your conversation with him." He said turning to stare off into the woods. He shuffled his feet subconsciously wrapping his arm protectively across his injured side.
Amanda took a moment to look at him; really look and she felt her heart breaking at what she saw. The man was hiding something and he was worried; deeply worried. She knew he wasn't up to this hunt, he had barely slept last night and here he was ready to go out there after God knows what.
Dean turned back to see her watching him. He offered her that amazing smile of his that actually reached those amazing eyes of his. He had planned to seek her out to talk about what he'd found out from Sam just now, but after hearing her and Jimmy talking, he knew Amanda was worried about something. Something that was a part of her own family and she didn't need to hear his problems when she had her own to deal with. There were too many secrets on both sides here and he was getting a bit confused with it all.
"There's more to it than that. You're holding something back Dean and you don't have to. You can tell me; I'm here for you too." She said, reaching out to touch the bandage at his temple.
Dean captured her hand and brought her palm to his lips. "It's nothing. I just found out something about my father…something that happened before we came here…nothing to do with this case." He reached out and pulled her to him as he bent down and captured her mouth with his. He needed to feel her against him; needed to know she really cared about him; that someone out there really cared about him, Dean Winchester; because he needed this link to someone other than his family.
Amanda felt Dean's lips on hers; felt his tongue touching hers. She could feel his need to feel she was there just for him in this one small moment of his life. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she let him caress the inside of her mouth. She let him know that right now it was all about him, and God it didn't hurt that the man could kiss.
She pulled away when she felt Dean retreating, but she kept her arms around his neck. "What was that for?" She asked smiling up into his green passion-filled eyes.
"That was…just because. Now what was all that with Jimmy?" He asked as he kept her close to him.
Amanda sighed as she saw she couldn't stall on this, so she took a deep breath and prepared to tell him Jimmy's story. "Well, it all began back before Brenda was born…" She was ready to tell him what she couldn't before; she knew that he needed to know the whole story.
The huge gust of wind that suddenly came caused Amanda to look towards the woods where she could see a woman watching them; not a woman, the woman, Amanda thought. It was her! She pulled back from Dean to rush towards the woman, her first instinct to fight, but when the wind suddenly changed directions she could feel Dean being pulled from her grasp instead. She tried to tighten her hold, but she could feel her arms being pulled back as he was being pulled from her. "Dean!" She yelled as she took in the look in his eyes.
She felt the whoosh of what could only be described as the sound of large wings flapping in the strong wind and then Dean was gone. He was there reaching out for her and then she was on her butt in the dirt watching him disappear into thin air. She hadn't even had time to use any of magic.
"Mandy!" Came the echoing sound of Dean's voice as the skies suddenly darkened and Amanda could feel her voice her head.
I told you once before Amanda you would never take something from me without repercussions. You took what I wanted most in this world and so I am taking Dean Winchester from you. Just be grateful I didn't take Ryon. A daughter for a daughter for a daughter would have been so much more appropriate, but since I have my daughter back, this is better.
Why? I didn't take your daughter from you! You gave her up willingly to Jimmy. I didn't do this to you…you did this to yourself! If you hurt Dean, I promise you it will be the last thing you ever do. Do you hear me? Eva?! Amanda sat there watching the skies continue to darken and the lightning begin as she took in the woman in the woods coming closer.
AN: Don't forget those reviews! I'll be off for the holiday so catch me after the weekend! Happy Thanksgiving!