"Hey, ya know what?" Dean mused with a smirk as he glanced down at the menu on the counter. "The Lynnwood Inn combined your first and last name to make theirs."
"Wow, I didn't notice that." Lynn chuckled. "I should get to eat here for free."
"Show 'em your license and say your parents named the place after you."
Dean playfully elbowed her arm and looked back at all the newspapers spread out in front of him. Lynn took a breath and found her half-eaten plate of food suddenly unappealing. She pushed it away and started absently picking at her nails. The newspapers close to her had bold blue lines drawn and scratched all over them, beckoning her eyes to follow their nonsensical shapes.
Sam glanced over and softly asked, "You okay?"
"Hmm?" She met Sam's concerned eyes and replied, "Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Just, uh, thinking."
"Bout what?" Dean asked over the pen he was chewing.
"Nothing, just that I, uh, couldn't pull that lie off since I never had parents." Lynn tried to brush it off by pointing to the obituary in front of Dean. "Find a case?"
"Woah, hold on," Dean responded, putting the pen down and turning away from the waitress walking over so he could face Lynn. "What're you talkin' about, never had parents?"
Sam leaned over and compassionately asked, "Did you lose them when you were young? Like…"
"No, nothing tragic like your mom." Lynn sharply inhaled, bringing her shoulders to her neck, and said, "Sorry. It's really not that important. I just got kinda triggered, but it's fine. No biggie, really. I shouldn't have said anything about it."
"Lynn, it's okay. If you ever want to talk about stuff like that, we're here for you."
"Yeah," Dean echoed his brother. "We get it."
Lynn nodded and replied, "Thanks. I mean, I didn't lose my parents like you guys did because I never had any to lose." She glanced back and forth between them and felt as though she could warmly melt in the emotional support gleaming in their eyes. With a meditative breath, Lynn shared, "My mother left me in the hospital after giving birth, so I grew up in foster homes. Almost got adopted a couple of times when I was little, but it didn't work out. I tried finding my parents when I was older, but my mother lied or omitted everything on the forms, so I had nothing to go on."
"Oh my god," sighed Sam with such sympathy that Lynn could sense it before he spoke.
"So, what? Bitch named you and took off?" Dean all but growled.
Lynn curled her lips into a tight smile at the protectiveness underneath and answered, "The only thing on my birth certificate was: Jacilynn. I like to think that it meant something to her or that I did just enough to give me that piece, so I kept it… Made it my own." She lightly spun the ring future Sam and Dean gave to her and continued, "After I got into archery, I chose my last name to reflect how much I loved it. And Grace sounded good in the middle so I just added it when I got my first driver's license."
Dean shook his head and deeply exhaled. He fixed his glare onto the printed pages spread over the counter and stabbed the pen down over and over. Lynn felt her smile lightly tug at her lips again. Family meant everything to Dean, especially the loyalty and love that went with it. Lynn didn't just see the anger and pain he felt for her never having it but felt the retribution he'd enact on those who abandoned her if he could.
Sam gently reached out and held her hand. Lynn instantly looked down at feeling his warm fingers lightly grasp hers and strongly held his hand back. Lynn found his eyes, an empathetic understanding filling the hazel green, and her smile fully formed. Sam returned her grin and said, "You got us now."
"Damn right you do. You're family."
Lynn lightly laughed and replied, "I don't know what I did to deserve you two, but I'm sure glad to have you."
"Deserve us? Lynn, what've we really done for you?" Sam thoughtfully questioned. "We gave you a ride after nearly running you over, made sure you were okay, and then – let's face it – it's been nothing but a horror show."
Lynn choked back a chuckle at his choice of words.
"I mean, we've dragged you along on two hunts now and look what's happened. You've been attacked by a spirit, marked by the demon that killed our mom, nearly killed by Brady after we fought and left you alone, were almost eaten by a wendigo, not to mention the freak storms –"
"This is a great recap of the last two and half weeks, but I'm not sure where you're going with it…" Lynn calmly interrupted, giving his hand a squeeze.
"I'm just saying that none of that stuff, none of the danger you're in, would've happened if we…"
"If we what, Sam?" Dean challenged. "If we decided not to help her and just dropped her off at the gas station outside Jericho?"
Sam took a sharp breath and defended, "No, no. It's just… Lynn keeps thanking us and looking at us like we're the best things that ever happened to her but it's because of us that she's gotta deal with all this crap now." The younger Winchester focused his gaze on Lynn and said, "My point is we're the ones who don't deserve you. Not the other way around."
Lynn smiled and replied, "Strongly disagree but I hear you."
"Nah, I'm with Sam. You do look at us like that." Dean teased with a cocky grin. "Not that I'm complaining, it's the best look I've ever gotten from a woman. Ever."
"Well, the longer I'm with you, the better it'll get." Lynn flirtatiously said with a wink. "Trust me."
"Okay, so we're clear, when we say you're family, we don't mean like a sister because that was seriously hot."
"Ha!" She burst out as Sam pulled his hand away, allowing Lynn to clap her hands together. "Ha, yes! Clear and loving it."
"Good!" Dean looked over at his brother to see him awkwardly hunched in his seat and called, "We good, Sammy? All cleared up?"
"Y-Yeah, yeah. All cleared up."
They relaxed on the cushioned stools, Lynn swaying back and forth as she asked again, "So did you find a case?"
"Yeah. Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin. Last week, Sophie Carlton, 18…" Dean replied, showing them the circled photo of the victim. "Walks into the lake, doesn't walk out. Authorities dragged the water. Nothing. Sophie Carlton is the third Lake Manitoc drowning this year. None of the other bodies were found either. They had a funeral two days ago."
"Funeral?" Sam wondered.
"Yeah, it's weird. They buried an empty coffin. For, uh, closure or whatever."
"Closure? What closure? People don't just disappear, Dean. Other people just stop looking for them."
Lynn leaned forward to fake read the obituary and mumbled, "Puppy's grumpy."
"Who's what?" Sam softly confronted, catching her off guard.
She slightly turned her head to see him staring at her, haughtily waiting for an answer. Lynn licked her lips before enunciating, "Puppy's grumpy."
It was Dean's turn to burst out a laugh, all the while Sam's jaw dropped. "Puppy?! Really?"
"You know when puppy's grumpy when he doesn't blink and his nose flares and his voice gets all grrr."
"Oh my god…" Sam groaned but it immediately turned to laughter as he rubbed his face. "You had to say that in the cutest voice ever, didn't you?"
"Only way to make the puppy less grumpy."
"Okay! I get it, you can stop." Sam chuckled and continued in a calmer tone, "I'm frustrated that Dad's trail's getting colder every day. I just wish there was something more we could do to find him."
"I know, Sammy. Me too. Believe me, I'm the one who's been with him every day for the past four years, but until then, we're gonna kill everything bad between here and there. Okay?" Dean reassured.
Sam nodded and brought his attention back to the paper. "Yeah, alright. Lake Manitoc. How far?"