Sam shifted in his chair, trying to find a comfortable position that wouldn't further aggravate his injuries. Half an hour ago he and Dean had left the mansion after exorcising the demon from the ghost of Monica Brooks. Although it had seemed as if her spirit was finally at rest, they didn't want to take any chances. After some bickering over who was in the best shape to drive, Dean had gotten behind the wheel and driven back to the motel. Once their injuries had been tended to they headed over to the Morgan's.
Sam reached his hand up his shirt and tugged on the bandages Dean had wrapped tightly around his ribs. Thankfully he had only twisted his ankle, and was able to talk Dean out of taping that as well. His hand froze as his slightly irritated older brother spoke his name.
"Sam! For the last time, leave it alone!" Dean had been watching Sam squirm for the last fifteen minutes, and although he felt for the kid, his own injuries and exhaustion had shortened his already small fuse. "I had to make it…"
"It tight or they won't heal." Sam finished wryly. "Yeah, I know."
What a ragged looking bunch, he thought to himself as he looked at his companions. Ashley sat sideways on the couch, her broken leg propped up on several pillows. The lump on the back of Dean's head had gone down considerably thanks to the makeshift ice pack he had fashioned when they arrived at the Morgan's. Sam still found it hard to look at the cuts and bruises on Dean's face, knowing that he was at least partially responsible. As for himself, he felt like he had gone through the rinse cycle only to have the washing machine dropped onto him from the roof of a ten-story building.
Sam and Dean had just finished recounting the last few days for Ashley, who sat in a stunned silence. Though she still wore black from head to toe, the severe makeup was gone, as were the dark contacts. Her green eyes had been cast downward the entire time, looking up only as the two brothers began to bicker.
"So I have to destroy Monica's necklace? But didn't you just say that you guys won? The demon is gone."
Sam nodded. "It is. We did the exorcism and freed Monica from the demon. The problem is, we've never come across anything like this before. A demon possessing a ghost, I mean. We just don't want to take any chances."
"And it has to be me because I'm the one who did the spell, right?" she asked, looking down at the silver necklace she held in her hand.
Sam and Dean exchanged a glance, the latter giving a shrug. "Well, we figure it couldn't hurt. We don't want to take any chances. I don't want to have to set foot in this town again. Unless, of course, I'm visiting the prettiest girl I know." Dean said with a wink.
Ashley laughed as her cheeks flushed. Running a finger across the raised surface of the cross, her smile faded.
"Ashley." Dean said in a low voice.
Ashley stopped fidgeting with the necklace, but did not look up.
"It'll be okay. You can do this." Dean said in a gentle voice.
Taking a deep breath she looked Dean square in the eyes and said, "Let's do it."
Dean pulled the ice pack away from his head and set it down on the coffee table. Stiffly he began to rise out of his chair when Ashley stopped him.
"Stay put, Dean. I got this." Easing her broken leg onto the floor she hoisted herself onto her feet. Although both crutches were propped up against the couch, she grabbed only one. After situating it under her arm she gave Dean an "I told you so" look.
As she made her way over to the fireplace Dean looked over at Sam and grinned, raising his eyebrows. Sam smiled back and shook his head in wonder. For once his lothario brother had used his powers for good. A few charming words accompanied by a mischievous wink had restored Ashley's self-confidence.
Dean watched as Ashley stood as still as a statue in front of the fireplace, the necklace clenched tightly in her fist. Almost two full minutes had passed, and she had yet to toss the necklace into the fire. Dean looked over at Sam who shrugged his shoulders. Dean began to get up when Sam stopped him.
"Dean." he said, nodding his head towards the back of the living room.
Dean turned his head just in time to see the young girl cast the necklace into flames. He was reminded of their encounter with Hook Man. Judging by the pensive expression on his brother's face, he was not the only one.
Ashley hobbled over to where the two men sat. "That's it?"
Dean nodded. "That's it."
"Huh. Kind of anticlimatic." she said, a hint of disappointment tinting her voice.
Sam laughed, wincing a bit as his ribs reminded him of the fall he took earlier. "Bigger isn't always better." he said ruefully.
"Don't even say it, Dean!" Sam pointed a stern finger at his older brother, knowing that a lewd comment was sure to follow.
"What?" Dean sat back in his chair, his arms out to the side as he played up the innocent victim routine.
Ashley began to giggle, and even Sam had to smile at Dean's star performance. Easing herself back onto the couch she finally got her laughter under control. Her mood seemed to darken as her smile turned into a frown. The look that crossed her face was one Sam knew all too well.
"You ok?" he asked.
"Yeah." she sighed. "It's just..."
"Your dad?" Sam prodded.
"He's already pissed about all the trouble I caused. When he finds out I destroyed a piece of the museum's inventory, he's gonna go nuclear."
"Trust me, when he sees the damage we caused he'll forget all about one tiny necklace." Dean said.
"Speaking of which, we'd better hit the road, Sammy, before he sees the holes you put in the wall from your little Spiderman routine."
"But--" Sam started.
"Ashley, it was great seeing you again." Dean said quickly, cutting his brother off. "Listen, try to keep away from the ghosts and the spells. That's our gig, ok?"
"Deal." She smiled wistfully. "I will miss having her around, though."
Dean gave her an uncomfortable smile. He was never good at comforting people; he had his sappy Sammy for that. Looking over at him he waited for Sam to work his magic.
Sam silently got to his feet, one arm wrapped protectively around his middle.
Limping slightly he walked over to the couch and crouched down in front of her. He placed his hand over hers and gave a gentle squeeze. "Take care of yourself, Ashley. If you ever need anything at all, day or night, just give us a call."
Her green eyes shone brightly as she smiled back at Sam, and Dean knew that she would be ok. He knew he should take Sam's cue and say something warmhearted and uplifting, but the urge to mess around was just too strong.
"Preferably day, not night. Actually, anytime after noon would be best. Unless you're calling Sam's phone. In that case, by all means…day or night."
Sam looked up at Dean. "You are such an idiot."
Dean held out his hand. "Come on, Sam. Let's hit the road."
Sam accepted the aid of Dean's arm to get back to a standing position. Dean gave Ashley one last smile and said his goodbye.
As they walked down the long driveway both brothers headed towards the driver's side of the Impala. Dean stopped and said, "What are you doing?"
Sam had taken out his keyring and was about to put the key in the lock. "I'm driving."
"The hell you are!" Dean exclaimed.
"Dean, in case you forgot, you were unconscious only a few hours ago. You're in no shape for a long drive." Sam explained.
"Yeah, well, you have broken ribs." Dean countered.
"So do you!"
"No, mine are just bruised. And let's not forget your ankle."
"I don't need my left leg to drive, Dean."
Dean's green eyes narrowed menacingly. "First of all, I'm the older brother; what I say goes. Second of all, it's my damn car! You're lucky I'm even letting you ride in it after what you put me through these last few days. Do I really need to bring up your little carjacking incident?"
Sam stared a moment longer, then looked away in defeat. "Fine."
They got in the car, each biting back groans at their aches and pains. Sam sat forlornly in the passenger seat, his attack on Dean replaying in his mind.
"Dean, about what happened the other day...I'm really sorry."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Sam, I didn't bring it up to make you feel guilty. I know you weren't in control. Again."
"So we're good?"
"Yes, Sam, we're good. Now would you shut up? I can't hear the music over your yammering!" Dean cranked up the volume and began to sing along at the top of his lungs.
"My brother, ladies and gentlemen." Sam murmured. "Ya gotta love him."
Author's Note: That's it, folks! I hope y'all enjoyed the story; I had a blast writing it. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review (and private message!), I appreciate it so much. See ya around!