Sam casually leaned his elbows against the railing of Zach and Rebecca's back patio and tilted his head back to look up at the night sky. The stars dotted the blackness. Little bits of light thrown against the dark, all burning themselves out. Some already had. Thousands of galaxies besides this one. He was one speck on one planet. What did his life matter at all?

He thought of Dean.

He heard Jess join him on the porch and turned around. She had a beer in her hand. She was apartment sitting for the two siblings. Zach and Rebecca were out of town for the weekend.

His eyes tracked her and he smiled. "Hey."

"Hi." Their little group of friends had finally gone home. Brady had been the last to clear out. "What are you doing on the patio?"

He shrugged. "Needed some air."

She cocked her head and took a sip of beer. This was the first chance they'd had to be alone since the kiss in the library.

Sam felt awkward. He wasn't sure where he stood with her. He knew she'd enjoyed it, but he suddenly felt shy and out of place and so confused about what he was feeling.

"You have a hard time socializing." She said, still studying him.

Sam ducked his head and gave a quick flash of teeth...not quite a grin. Almost a grimace. "I'm that transparent, huh?"

She smiled at him. "Yeah. You're pretty transparent."

He looked away.

"You just..." she tilted her head again. "You shrink when you're in a crowd. You're this big guy but you just kinda, shut down."

"I kinda...I'm used to avoiding drawing attention."


"New kid at school all the time. We just...we moved so much I tried to just keep my head down and fit in." He snorted. "My brother chose the opposite path."

She grinned. "Stood out, huh?"

"He tried to be a pain in the ass everywhere we went. He'd swagger in late, give the teachers attitude. Dean was the bad boy." He shook his head with an almost smile, set his lips to his beer.

"Which method worked?"

Sam thought about it. "Neither I guess... I mean Dean got in more fights than me. He never lost them though."

"Did you?"

Sam turned his back to her, looked out over the yard. "I didn't like to fight. I could if I had to though."

He felt really maudlin tonight for some reason. Maybe the company just had left him a little drained. Or the amount of hours he was working. Or the truck he'd glimpsed outside earlier that reminded him distinctly of his father's. God. He was so angry still. At both of them. He felt so...rejected.

Jess was at his back. He almost startled when he felt her hand on his shoulder blade. "What's wrong, Sam?"

He swallowed. "Nothing."

"Oh, come on. Give me a little credit. You're easy to read, remember?"

He let out a small huff of breath through his nose. "I think I'm just a little tired and overworked this week."

She went quiet and Sam turned around to look at that pretty face. Felt his heart accelerate with it. In a flash of insight, he knew what his problem was. He was frightened. All his life Sam Winchester had never gotten what he wanted. Ever. But here he was. At Stanford. He'd attained one piece of the puzzle. It had cost him. Come at a huge cost that he hadn't quite anticipated. He had expected his father to be angry, certainly- but that blow out had topped anything he'd ever imagined. John had been furious. They'd both been furious. All the pent up anger and frustration built up over years and years of hardship had exploded in one fracturing moment.

In the end, Sam had gotten what he'd wanted but he'd traded Dean and his Dad in the bargain.

And now here like the answer to a whispered prayer stood Jessica Moore. She wasn't just a potential girlfriend. Sam had dated before. This woman...this woman was the whole package. A vivacious, intelligent, passionate creature who somehow understood him. Somehow knew what made him tick. And she was wrapped in a package so blindingly beautiful his breath caught at it. Here she was. She was right here for him to claim. All he had to do was dive in.

The prospect terrified him. Because John Winchester had taught him through example what losing something that meant so much did to a man.

Because Sam Winchester never got what he wanted without a price. Ever. Something deep in his gut told him that this would be the same old refrain. That there was some price to pay. That this was too good to be true. And what seemed too good to be true usually was.

Good things didn't happen to Winchesters.

Sam didn't let the thought of loss slip into his conscious mind often. He tried to keep it buried under layers of control but as he looked at Jess he somehow felt the loss before their love affair had truly begun.

"You think kissing me was a mistake?" Jess asked him pointedly, looking almost nervous to voice it.

"What?" Sam asked. "God, no!"

She gave him a flirtatious lift of her full lips. "Then why are you feeling sorry for yourself out here and not doin' it again?" She set her beer bottle on the wooden railing.

Sam drew a breath, leaned in and kissed her.

He was lost. He knew it the minute their lips locked. She felt right in a way that no other woman had before. And suddenly he felt very vulnerable.

The surge of male hormones hadn't flooded his brain yet with that first kiss...instead it was a sorrow that filled him until he broke away, blinking back tears.

"Sam," Jessica said gently.

He leaned in again and kissed her properly before she could see his face. He tangled his hands in that hair, explored her mouth with his own and felt his body rise to it. Jess' arms went around his neck. She made a contented little sound that made his stomach flip. My God it was sexy.

He lost himself in the feel of her. She was exquisite. Soft and feminine and she smelled so goddamned good.

He parted her lips with his own and their tongues met for a moment before Jess came up for air. "That's more like it," she giggled.

He leaned his head against her forehead, his breathing quicker.

She took his hand. "Come on inside."

They walked into the kitchen and Sam stood awkwardly a minute before she leaned into him and initiated another kiss. He bent down and angled his head, tasting her lips, her teeth, her tongue. He pulled away, breathing heavily, holding her arms. She looked up at him.

"Jess... you mean something to me and I..." he swallowed, looking into her eyes, unused to laying his emotions out this plain on the table.

"You mean something to me too." She told him.

He almost wanted to tell her that he wanted to take it slow. But that was bullshit. He wanted to rush headlong in to it. He also wanted to keep her at arm's length. But that wasn't going to work. This woman deserved all of him.

He gave his shy, Sam smile, all dimples and charm. "Good...I gotta say I'm gonna feel a little weird shacking up at Zach and Rebecca's while they're gone. If that's where this is leading." He paused. "Is that where this is leading?"

"Is that where you want it to lead?" She asked coyly.

He ducked his head again and snorted. "Kinda." He looked at her from under his mop of bangs.

Jess smirked. "Well too bad," she said dismissively. "You just have to wait then. I'm apartment sitting."

Sam laughed.

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