Mount Yasuo was just as beautiful as Dean remembered it. It was only his second trip there, but even so, he often wished he never had to leave. It was like Paradise to him, better than Heaven, the most beautiful place he'd ever seen.
What had brought him there was a complete surprise, a birthday surprise you might say. He and Paige had been talking about having the wedding there. The place would be beautiful in spring with all the cherry trees in bloom. What better place for a wedding? She'd surprised him by bringing him here for an early birthday present, and the two of them had spent the last month or so enjoying the peace and solitude the place afforded.
They'd even talked about building a house here, but Dean knew in his heart that Paige would never want to live so far away from her family and friends, or from the orchestra she so dearly loved. Before she'd met him, the violin had been her life, her passion, her gift, and he would never take that away from her. A place to come to when they needed to get away, though, that was another story, and that's what he'd come to think of Yasuo as - a retreat of sorts. He was happy there, happier than he could ever remember being, but there was always that nagging worry at the back of his mind that it wouldn't last.
It had never lasted before. Not with Cassie, or Quinn, or Lisa. Why should it last with Paige? He lived each day wondering when it would be over, when his world would come crashing down around him once again. But for now, he was happy. He promised her he'd be happy. There was no doubt in his mind that she loved him; that wasn't the problem. Demons, as always, were the problem. A problem he had to one day solve, one way or another, or live forever in fear. He couldn't get married and raise a family living in fear. It wasn't fair to Paige or to himself, but so far, ever since the last incident with the demons, things had been quiet. Too quiet. The calm before the storm perhaps.
It was on his birthday Dean first noticed something different. He was 33 years old, though he didn't look a day over 17. Born January 24, 1979, in Lawrence, Kansas, to John and Mary Winchester. Be-spelled somehow by a youth potion, he'd been upset at first about finding himself stuck in the body of a teenager, but he'd come to accept it, enjoy it even. He felt invigorated by youth. Every scar from every wound had disappeared, along with the aches and pains that came with growing older, and the damage to a liver that had been abused for too long. Despite the annoyance of everyone taking him for a teenager, he'd come to enjoy being younger. In a way, it was like getting a second chance on life, recapturing his youth and being able to relive it the way he wanted to.
It was on his birthday that his bubble was burst. One gray hair was all it had taken. Maybe it was a fluke or maybe time was catching up with him. He wasn't sure which. He'd been old once, bargaining his years like poker chips to a warlock and losing the bet, and he remembered the aches and pains of old age like a faded bad dream. But that wasn't what was happening now. It was only one gray hair. It didn't mean anything, did it?
Dean glanced over at Paige as she slept peacefully and obliviously on the futon the two of them shared. She was so beautiful it made his heart ache, and he wanted more than anything to share his life with her. They'd already come close to getting married once, almost eloping while visiting Earth. She'd even gone so far as to find a pastor who'd perform the ceremony for them, but he'd passed out at the last minute, from either shock or fear. He wasn't sure which. He'd told her he wanted to give her the wedding she deserved - a big, white wedding with all her family in attendance - but that wasn't quite true. What was really true was that he was secretly terrified, not of making a mistake. He knew he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. It wasn't that. It was demons. He was afraid of what they'd do to her when they found out, and there was no doubt in his mind that they'd find out.
They'd already had one close call, and they couldn't afford another, but he couldn't leave her either. She knew the risks and had accepted them, and he'd promised to teach her how to protect herself, but how did one protect one's self against demons, after all? There were only so many precautions one could take.
He'd thought about making a bargain. He knew they'd probably be more than eager to get their hands on his soul again, but he'd spent enough years in Hell, and he wasn't going back there, no matter what. His older counterpart back on Earth had promised to take care of things, but Dean knew he had enough problems to deal with, and he couldn't count on his older self to make a bargain for him.
One gray hair was all it took to bring him back to reality, to make him worry all over again that he was living on borrowed time and that any day could be his last. But wasn't that true for everyone? No one knew when their time was up. No one knew when their life might end, whether they were a hunter or not.
Still, it worried him, but he wouldn't let those worries come between him and Paige. He was determined to enjoy every minute he had with her, up until his last dying breath. Demons, be damned. One way or another, he was going to find a way to have his happily ever after. He deserved it; she deserved it. He was going to make her Mrs. Dean Winchester if it killed him.
Unfortunately for him, that was just what it might take.