Beware, this is unedited and contains spoilers for Shallow Grave! This scene takes place at the Grant house in San Diego, three days after Chris’s return.
Joey was waiting on the front steps when she heard the distinct rumble of a motorcycle engine in the distance. It took another minute or two for the Harley to actually appear, rolling up the long driveway to the house. Dean parked in front and Joey trotted down the steps to meet him.
“Hey there stranger, long time no see,” she offered, hands tucked in her back pockets and a friendly smile gracing her lips.
“Miss me?” he asked as he pulled off his helmet and raked his fingers through his curly dark hair.
“Not exactly,” she confessed, smiling sheepishly. “It’s been a pretty crazy seventy-two hours.”
Dean hung his helmet on the handlebars and lay a hand on his chest. “Right to the heart. Nice job, killer.”
Joey smirked but looked away. “You don’t know the half of it. Anyway, I hope you’ll take a check because I didn’t have time to hit the bank.” After her impromptu training session, she’d barely had time to shower before Sam dragged her off to the Marina to orchestrate a paper trail for Chris’s mythical joyride.
“Check’s fine.” He climbed off the bike and unzipped his leather jacket as Joey approached with check in hand. He took it from her, brows lifting. “This is way more than we agreed on.”
“Consider it hazard pay. You went above and beyond. Thanks for letting Chris borrow your body. I know it wouldn’t have been your first choice.”
Dean hesitated briefly, then folded the check and pocketed it. “Anything for a pretty lady. So, now that our business is done should we discuss that coffee date or is it still awkward?”
“Still awkward, in ways you can’t even imagine. Why don’t you come inside and I’ll pour you a drink. What’s your poison?”
“Consider me intrigued,” Dean said, arching a brow. “A beer sounds great. Lead the way.”
Joey turned to head back up the stairs and Dean matched pace, walking beside her.
“How’s ghostbusting? You said you were meeting a new client?”
“A client, but not a new one.”
“Oh? I wouldn’t expect you to get a lot of repeat business.”
Dean chuckled. “I usually don’t, but this one is special. Last year, I helped her get rid of her apartment’s previous tenant. Now every time she hears a strange noise at night, she calls me. It’s usually nothing.”
“Maybe it’s just an excuse to see you again. Did you think of that?” She glanced at him with a smile. He was easy on the eyes. Tall. Broad-shouldered. If not for Chris’s interference, they might have dated. They’d had some chemistry, but no real opportunity to explore it. She wasn’t sure if she regretted the missed opportunity or not. It’s not like dating a human would have worked out in the long run.
“She’s eighty-one,” Dean said with a laugh. “I think that ship has sailed.”
“I dunno about that, I’ve known some pretty feisty eighty-somethings. Plus, you hear crazy stories about what goes on in retirement communities. Geriatric sex-kittens on the prowl.”
He gave an exaggerated shudder. “There is not enough bleach in the world to scrub that image from my brain.”
She grinned as she held the door open. “You’re welcome.”
Once inside, Joey led the way to the formal living room, which also had a small wet bar with a well-stocked mini fridge. She fetched a couple of beers, uncapped them and brought them over to the couch where Dean had settled. He took one and murmured his thanks, lifting it for a sip while she settled in the nearby armchair.
His eyes sought her out once more. “So, what’s the big news?”
Joey drew a deep breath, then got right to the point. “Chris is alive.”
Dean’s beer slipped from suddenly lax fingers, but he tightened them in time to catch it by the neck. “Wait, what?”
“You heard me.” Joey lifted her own beer and took a swig.
“I did, but Jesus. Are you serious? Like… alive, alive?” His brown eyes caught hers, confusion plain to see on his face.
She frowned. “What other kind of alive is there? When I broke the spell that bound him to the knife, he woke up in his coffin. Cathy thinks his wolf nature saved him, that he was in some sort of magical stasis the whole time and when he returned to his body it started healing.”
“Holy shit. I can see why you didn’t want to talk about that on the phone.”
“Yeah, that about sums it up. Anyway, I thought you ought to know.”
Dean leaned over and set his barely touched beer on the coffee table. He even used a coaster. “Well, thanks for that. I mean, I don’t know that I would have recognized him if I bumped into him on the street, but wow. We didn’t just help him cross over. We saved his life.”
“Technically, Cathy saved his life,” Joey said, picking at the corner of her bottle’s label with a fingernail. “She dug him up and brought him home.”
“He’s here? Can I meet him?”
Joey looked up again and blinked at the eagerness openly displayed on his face and forward-leaning posture. “Uh, I guess so. If you want to. I’m not sure where he is right now but I think I can track him down.”
Dean scooted forward until he was perched on the edge of the couch. “Cool, you want me to come with you or wait here?”
“Whatever you want,” Joey said and stood. Dean joined her, but before they went anywhere she took several long swallows from her bottle. The alcohol didn’t settle the sudden uneasy feeling in her stomach. It must have shown on her face.
“Something wrong?” Dean asked, but Joey shrugged off his concern.
“Nothing. Let’s go.” She took the beer with her, neck held loosely between two fingers as she strolled for the door.
She had a few ideas of where she might find Chris, but struck out twice before hitting pay dirt. The familiar strains of latin horns and drums tickled her sensitive ears while they were still quite a ways down the hall. The music swelled in volume as they approached the studio door. Joey stopped just outside the door. A sense of foreboding filled her, tightening her shoulders and twisting her stomach.
Chris hadn’t said so much as a word to her over dinner. He hadn’t even glanced across the table in her direction, though his demeanor with their parents, siblings and Emma was pleasant. She’d never felt so invisible, never wanted to crawl under the table so much. The worst part was knowing that it was all her fault.
Turning, she touched a finger to her lips, motioning for silence. Dean nodded and she turned back to the door. She put her hand on the handle and steeled herself before pushing the door open enough to peek inside. As expected, Chris was there. Joey couldn’t help but watch him for a few seconds as he danced. His feet practically blurred as he moved through several sections of impossibly fast footwork, pausing for slower movements in between. Mambo. It was one of his favorites, and the longer Joey observed him the surer she was that he was improvising. Creating. So absorbed in his work that he didn’t notice her peeping. She could have watched him all night.
It wasn’t until Dean crowded in behind her to peek over her head that Joey finally pushed the door open enough to slip inside. Dean followed, but they were able to stand and watch for a good twenty seconds before Chris finally turned and noticed them. His feet stumbled to a halt and he stood there, bare chest slick with sweat and glistening with each heavy breath he took. He must have been at it for a while. Joey bit the inside of her cheek, trying not to think about running her tongue along his abs. Their eyes met and he smirked as if he could read her mind.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Joey said after a pause that was a little too long not to be awkward. She had to raise her voice to be heard over the music.
Chris walked over to the stereo to pause the track and bent to grab his discarded shirt. “It’s fine, I was almost done anyway. You want the room?” He looked between her and Dean as he slipped the shirt on, but left it unbuttoned.
“No,” Joey said and folded her arms across her chest, eyeing him from across the room.
Beside her, Dean laughed. “Hell no. I had to come see the miracle for myself, is all.” He strode forward and the two men shook hands. “Damn, I can’t believe it.”
“Still getting used to it myself. Thanks for all your help,” Chris said.
“Just doing my job,” Dean said, then chuckled and added, “Thanks for not getting me killed by nefarious witches.”
“Seemed like the least I could do. Honestly, I feel like we probably owe you a little extra for your trouble.”
“I took care of it,” Joey mentioned, still lingering by the door.
Dean glanced back at Joey, then turned back to Chris. “You’ve got to tell me about it, amigo. Harper will shit kittens when he finds out. He’s gonna want to know everything.”
Joey made a mental note to send Harper a fruit basket. Or a twenty pound bag of rawhide chews for his herd of chihuahuas. The man had been instrumental in helping them figure out that Chris was not merely dead, but trapped on the astral plane.
“Everything about…?” Chris’s brows drew together in obvious puzzlement.
“Coming back to life!” Dean motioned impatiently with one hand. “Was it immediate? Did you see any bright lights or talk to any spirit guides? Bargain with the ferryman? Don’t hold out on me.”
“Oh.” Chris looked down at the floor and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t remember anything between the spell breaking and waking up in the coffin, sorry.”
“Nothing at all?”
Joey couldn’t see Dean’s face from where she stood, but she caught the disappointment in his voice. She could see Chris’s face, but she would have known without looking that this wasn’t a topic he enjoyed talking about. The memories were too fresh, too raw.
“We should let him get back to work,” she offered, helpfully.
“Sure, sure,” Dean said and nodded.
Chris lifted his eyes and looked past Dean to Joey. “Don’t let me keep you from… whatever.” His blue eyes were suddenly stormy, and Joey frowned but held her tongue.
Dean clapped Chris’s shoulder. “Well, congratulations on the whole cheating death thing. It was nice to have a chance to meet you. You know, face to face.”
“Yeah. I’ll see you around. Thanks again.”
When Dean turned to walk back to the door, Chris turned away without another glance in Joey’s direction and bent to retrieve a towel from the floor.
Joey slipped back out into the hall with Dean and closed the door. A few seconds later, the music came on again. Not even the intense awkwardness of the encounter could completely squash the urge to go back into the studio and join him. She missed dancing with him so much, but got the distinct impression that her presence was unwelcome.
They started walking down the hall, but didn’t get more than a few steps before Dean said, “So, what was that all about?”
Joey winced. So much for hoping that Dean hadn’t picked up on the vibe. “It’s complicated.”
“No shit. I’ve never seen so much distance between two people that care about each other without a restraining order being involved.”
“Hopefully it won’t come to that.” She sighed and swigged from her bottle.
“I don’t want to talk about it. Especially not with you.”
“Ohhh, I get it.” He glanced at her, lifting both brows. “You had sex.”
Joey blinked and shot him a look. “Okay, first of all… that’s none of your goddamn business. Second, you know you’re in a house full of people with extremely good hearing, right?”
He smirked and tucked his hands in his pockets. “Sorry.” They walked a few more steps in silence before he added, “That wasn’t a denial.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Why not? I mean, we don’t know each other that well but maybe that’s what you need. An impartial perspective.”
Joey eyed him with a frown. “I wouldn’t say entirely impartial.”
“You already shot me down for coffee, I’ve got no stake in this.” He shrugged.
“Just drop it, okay?” An annoyed growl escaped her throat. Her fingers tightened on the bottle in her hand. If she wasn’t careful, she could shatter it. Swallowing the growl, she drew and released a deep breath.
He dropped it, and they walked in silence the rest of the way to the foyer. By then, Joey managed to calm herself enough to be civil again. A few feet from the front door, she stopped and turned to him.
“Thanks for coming by. It probably goes without saying, but I’d appreciate it if you’d keep the news about Chris to yourself for now. We’re not quite ready to go public.”
Dean nodded, as easy-going as ever. “Sure, no problem. It was nice to see you again, Joey.” He offered a hand and she curled her fingers around his for a firm handshake.
“You too. Good luck with your cougar.” She grinned and he laughed.
“Thanks,” he said, holding onto her hand a few seconds longer than necessary before releasing it and turning to go. However, he opened the door and paused. “Uh…”
“What?” Joey asked, leaning aside to try and peer around him. He moved out of the way, giving her a clear view out the front door and down the front walk to the assorted news vans and crews camped out at the base of the hill. Someone noticed the open door and pointed her way, causing reporters and camera crew to scramble toward the front of the house. Joey’s eyes widened and she slammed the door shut, putting her back to it for good measure.
Dean’s gaze was sympathetic. “I think the cat’s out of the bag.”