When I came back to myself, I was in Dean’s arms.
‘Dean?’ I asked hazily.
‘Shush, Sammy,’ he thought back. On his face was a frown. I noticed we were moving.
‘Wh-where are you taking me?’ I enquired worriedly.
‘Back to the inn, Sammy. Please do be quiet.’
I stopped directing my thoughts at him. I had no inclination of what Dean’s response to my love for him was and it scared me to the point where I almost ignored his request but I could see that he was thinking - thinking hard - and I was more scared that if I interrupted his thoughts he’d decide to abandon me.
“I took that girl,” he murmured aloud, sounding troubled.
My heart dropped in my chest.
Dean looked at me, an inscrutable reaction flashing briefly in his eyes.
“Does that hurt you, Sammy?” he whispered.
I didn’t answer. He knew the answer. He looked up, proving me right, and said no more. He said no more for the entire journey. When we got to our room, he set me down on the bed and walked into the water closet, closing and latching the door behind him.
I sat down, not feeling safe as I had wanted to when I’d sought Dean out, instead feeling precarious and cold, the warmth usually associated with Dean’s company having been destroyed by the icy fear that things would never be the same again.
Dean walked back in and sat stiffly at the other end of the bed. He didn’t look at me as he began to talk.
“I always treated you like a cat, Sammy. I almost convinced myself you were a cat.”
It seemed true so I didn’t try to contradict him.
“You always let me. How did I never realise?”
‘That I always let you?’ I cautioned.
“You ... possessed every quality I hate in my food. Your obedience, your liking of me, your wanting to follow me everywhere. And yet ... I forgave you it because you were a cat. A pet. You let yourself be my pet.” He spoke the last words with an odd mix of confusion and bitterness.
‘Does... does that mean you don’t like me anymore?’ I thought quietly. ‘You sound like you can never regard me as a cat again.’
“I can’t, Sammy. But where did the word ‘like’ come into it?”
I turned my head away from him.
‘You know where.’
“Sam, I ...” He trailed off. He shook his head and changed the subject. “You shouldn’t have let me treat you like a cat, Sam.”
‘I don’t mind that I’m a cat,’ I protested, looking at him once more. ‘Anything’s endurable as long as you’re near.’
“You’re not a cat,” Dean repeated stubbornly, not even batting an eyelid at my communication of love for him.
‘So where do we go from here?’ I asked miserably.
Dean shook his head again.
“I don’t know, Sammy. I just don’t know.”