Aftermath

"No! No Jess! Jess!" His own screams ripped from his mouth as his mind played out the hideous death of his girlfriend again in his nightmares.

Sam Winchester awoke with a start, cold sweat plastering his messy mop of brown hair to his forehead. He sat up slowly, taking deep calming breaths in the comforting darkness of the motel room he and his brother Dean were sharing. It had been three days since his beloved Jess had died in the fire at their apartment in Palo Alto…he still remembered the smell of the cookies as he had walked in the door, the hastily scrawled noted, Missed you! Love you!Miss you too Jess, he sighed aloud…the smell of the smoke, the heat of the flames…

Sam blinked against the sudden light in the room as Dean swung himself out of his bed and turned on the light to check on his younger brother.

"Another nightmare?" he asked rather unnecessarily, seeking only a way to break the heavy silence in the room, a way in to help his brother.

Sam responded with an upward twitching of his eyebrow that clearly said, 'thank you Captain Obvious', though the desolation in Sam's expressive eyes and the hard set of his jaw said more to the elder sibling.

"Right. Captain Obvious, I know…" Dean trailed off giving a lopsided quirk of his lips in an attempt to ease the tension in the air. He scratched the base of his neck and ran a hand through his currently dishevelled hair rather awkwardly as he observed the still silent Sam.

"You alright?" he asked as Sam took a deep, shaky breath and fisted his hair in his hands.

"No" Sam uttered softly as he looked up to meet concerned hazel eyes. "No I'm not alright Dean-so stop asking!" he said heatedly. He sighed again, mentally berating himself for shouting at Dean who was, after all, trying to help.

"Sorry…" he croaked as he wiped a hand across his face, shocked to find tears mingled with the sweat. He looked up again and laughed bitterly, "Yeh, I'm just peachy ". And with that he divested himself of the covers and walked straight to the bathroom brushing past his sibling on the way. He turned when he got to the door to see Dean's large eyes still following him. He gave a tight smile, "Go back to bed Dean…" then more upbeat "…you look like that zombie we fought in Idaho"

Dean let out a snort of laughter and called out:

"Yeh whatever! cause you're quite the sleeping beauty" The lock clicked into place indicating Sam was in no mood for the light brotherly banter to continue so Dean did as suggested and rolled back under his covers, hand automatically going for the hunting knife under his pillow.

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When Sam exited the bathroom 30 minutes later he was a little surprised to see that his brother wasn't in bed snoring-not that he would admit that he snored-so he sat himself down on the end of his own bed and opened his laptop to research any possible gigs in the area cause there was no way in hell he could sit around and do nothing all day brooding about Jessica. For one thing Dean wouldn't let him cause it 'wasn't his fault', secondly it wasn't healthy, and thirdly he didn't want to think about it anymore.

He scrolled through several pages of news before finding anything suspicious in the area. It seemed that a local priest had buried an empty coffin after his wife's disappearance. Sam's eyebrows drew together and he cocked his head to one side in consideration…there was definitely reason to keep digging. He smiled wryly at the pun.

Moments later the door opened and Dean strode in with a bag of breakfast muffins and two coffees.

"Hey" he said shrugging off his worn leather jacket and passing a steaming mug to Sam. He proceeded to plonk himself unceremoniously onto Sam's bed, earning himself a glare that he resolutely ignored whilst stuffing an entire 'mini' muffin into his mouth at once. He gave a series of appreciative noise before devouring another.

"What you looking at?" he mumbled between gulps. Sam's expression spoke loudly of disgust and mild disapproval but he only shook his head exasperatedly before answering.

"Might be worth checking out" Dean conceded, secretly wondering about his brother's motivation for this newfound hunt; only yesterday he had refused to investigate something else nearby stating passionately that he only wanted to find their missing father. He decided he would let it slide for now, Sam would fess up later.

"Keep it up Sherlock, I'm going for a shower" he said easily avoiding the empty bag that sailed slowly through the air, aimed for his head.

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Another half hour later and the brothers were in the Impala; Dean drumming the steering wheel in time to Blue Oyster Cult's Dial M for Murder, Sam riding shotgun as he rifled through his quickly taken notes.

"The priest's name is Derek Lumbard, his wife, Sally, went missing a week ago and he buried her coffin on Tuesday. Her empty coffin." Sam said. He and Dean exchanged a momentary look before Dean's hazel eyes were again intent on the road before them.

Ten minutes later Dean parked the Impala outside Mr Lumbard's house. He cut the engine and snagged a badge from the box in the dashboard, swaggering confidently up to the front door. Sam followed him slowly, almost in a daze.

"What's wrong with you?" Dean asked only now, in the absence of the Impala's roar and the blare of BOC, noting his silence.

"That's Jessica's old house…from before she moved in with me." Dean followed his younger brother's haunted gaze and his eyes came to rest on a house down the street. He wordlessly put a hand on Sam's shoulder, realising now why he had wanted to take this gig.

The door before them opened and the robed figure of Derek Lumbard stood before them. Abruptly Dean removed his hand from Sam's shoulder and produced his badge, flashing it with an accompanying grin as he said:

"Mr Lumbard? Detective Stewart, this is Detective Stevens. We were hoping to ask you a few questions about your wife's disappearance in light of some new information that has come to our attention."

The priest nodded and opened the door and Sam's keen eyes noted how he avoided their gaze and wrung his hands nervously.

He was only middle aged though appeared much older than his 44 years with his salt and pepper hair more white thank black, although his bushy eyebrows were still fiercely dark to match his black eyes. His demeanour was altogether shifty and his eyes kept darting to the sideboard in his hallway. Dean followed his eyes and spotted a gleam in the morning sun filtering through the moth-eaten net drapes: a bracelet.

"Please have a seat gentlemen. Can I get you any coffee?" He asked, still twitching.

"No thank you, we won't take up too much of your time Sir we just need to verify a few things…" Sam began in a slight drawl.

"Alright" he agreed somewhat reluctantly as he sank into a chair by the large bay window overlooking the quiet street outside.

"Your wife, Sally? Do you have any reason to believe anyone would want to hurt her?" Dean said, getting down to business swiftly. He already had a good idea of what might have happened. Mr Lumbard wordlessly shook his head as if unable to trust himself to speak.

"And you're positive that she wouldn't have gone to visit family?"

Another vigorous shake of the head.

"Mr Lumbard…" Dean searched for the words, "Why are you so sure your wife is dead?-she has only been missing a week"

No reply.

"Mr Lumbard" Sam prompted, urging him to trust them and talk with his empathetic puppy eyes.

How the hell does he do that? Dean shook his head subtly in disbelief as Mr Lumbard began speaking.

"Sally has no relatives. She wouldn't leave anyway…I know it seems unusual to bury an empty coffin but I just have a feeling that I can't place, a feeling that something has happened to her and I'm trying to come to terms with that feeling. Why? Has there been any word on her whereabouts?" He said trying to sound earnest and then genuinely surprised and eager. Sam and Dean exchanged dark glances.

"All due respect Mr Lumbard; I've been doing this job long enough to know when someone's feeding me horse crap." Dean stately bluntly.

Sam shot him a swift reprimanding look for his rude words but as he agreed with Dean he didn't press the matter and turned back interestedly to Mr Lumbard. He sat visibly sweating in his chair, shrew eyes darting back yet again to the sideboard…

"You wanna tell me why you keep staring at that bracelet?" Dean asked with a lift of one eyebrow as if daring the priest to deny it. However one look at Dean's stern countenance persuaded the man to keep his silence.

Sam's dark eyes flicked back and forth between his brother and Mr Lumbard; Dean could keep up that stubborn stare all day if he had to. That he knew from experience. He smiled inwardly; stubbornness was definitely a family trait passed down to both sons from John Winchester.

"It's not your wife's is it?" Dean pressed. Mr Lumbard's black eyes widened in horror. Bingo. Dean gave a mirthless smile. "Sam" he prompted. His brother instantly knew what Dean wanted so got up and stalked over to the bracelet and picked it up reading the inscription aloud:

'"My darling Nancy…love Derek'.You were having an affair." Sam clarified. "Sally found out didn't she?" He asked his usually soft eyes blazing.

Suddenly, just as the priest began to stutter a reply, a scratching sound began. Then the T.V. flickered in the strangely static room.

"Aww crap!" Dean moaned. Both he and Sam were well aware of the signs of a vengeful spirit.

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Sam felt at the back of his waistband for his gun but realised belatedly that he had left it in the Impala, not expecting anything to happen to them in the house.

"What are you doing?" Mr Lumbard cried as Dean rose abruptly from his seat and grabbed him by the collar, pushing him firmly against the wall. The young man's eyes were icy. He let out a whimper.

Sam spun round to see the priest against the wall with Dean growling at him, "You killed her".

"Dean! Now is not the time!" Sam said firmly. "Down!" he cried as a vase picked itself off the sideboard to fly at his brother.

"Shit!" Dean cursed as he staggered off of the shaken Mr Lumbard clutching the back of his head.

"Salt! We need salt" Sam said. Mr Lumbard dazedly looked at him as if he were deranged; yeh sure! He thought wryly, cause I threw the vase! "Now" he said, his voice becoming deeper as his anger at the man's petulance, coupled with his loathing , came out.

A scream caused them all to stop in their tracks on their way through the hallway to the kitchen.

"Derek…how could you?" a voice wailed in an unearthly shriek.

Mr Lumbard paled at the voice and sank to his knees, "Sally?!" he cried, disbelief, fear and guilt lacing his shrill whine.

Sam shoved past him to the kitchen with Dean in hot pursuit. Together they raided all drawers and cupboards before locating the one containing a jar of table salt.

"Always the last one you look in…" Dean grumbled quietly. He picked up his pace as he heard Mr Lumbard scream out for help, stopping in the arch shaped door of the hallway to see him on his knees before the spirit of his wife.

Sally was bearing down on him with her hands outstretched, long nails dripping blood already. There were dark bruises round her pale neck.

"She's going to kill him the way he killed her!" Sam gasped as he stood behind Dean.

Dean shrugged, almost nonchalant , thinking that perhaps it was well deserved but Sam wouldn't agree. "Dean salt her! Dean!" he said urgently before grabbing the salt from his brother's hand and taking off down the hallway with it to Mr Lumbard's aid. He threw a fistful of salt over Sally's wavering form and she disappeared with a shriek.

Sam turned to Dean glaring only the way he could. "Why the hell were you just standing there?"

"He doesn't deserve to live after what he did" Dean groused out in a low, dangerous voice, his eyes still trained on the quivering heap that was the priest.

"Maybe so but that's not our call." Sam replied.

"What was that?" came the shaky voice of Derek. Dean refused to dignify such a stupid question with an answer. He stepped closer to the man and said in a menacing calm, "Where did you bury her?"

"She's in her coffin…I went back after the service and buried her properly-I didn't mean to kill her! It was an accident! You have to belie-"

Dean cut him off, "I don't have to believe anything, nor will I if it comes from you. Those bruises round her neck didn't get there by themselves. What's the matter? She catch you and Nancy?" he sneered, unable to hide his contempt.

"Dean come on- before she comes back" Sam said softly, trying to placate his older brother. Dean gave one last glare to Derek before following his brother outside.

He wordlessly slid into the driver's seat of the Impala and headed towards the local cemetery, Dial M for Murder still blaring out of the speakers. Dean let out a humourless laugh at the irony before skipping to find the next BOC track: Sally. Abruptly he turned off the thrumming music.

Sam sat staring out of the window, biting his nails as he mentally rehearsed what he would do if Sally's spirit came back while they were digging up her grave. He wasn't used to hunting again just yet and he wanted to have Dean's back if anything should happen-he'd already been smacked in the back of the head.

Damn! He'd forgotten about that.

"How's your head?" he blurted.

Dean half turned to him giving him a look that blatantly said, 'dude, quit being a pansy' and didn't bother to answer as he swerved in to the tree lined car park of the cemetery.

They got out of the Impala, both remembering their guns and rock salt, and scouted the area to find Sally's grave so that they could come back when it was dark. On their way Sam suddenly stopped.

"Oh my God…Jess" he breathed. Her name was engraved in the headstone before him, a picture of her beside it with several large bouquets of flowers and notes from loved ones. Tears instantly welled in his eyes.

"Sam! Sam?" Dean's annoyance quickly converted to big-brother concern as he saw the glistening on Sam's cheeks. He paced over quietly, gaze falling on the name his brother was still staring at. His stomach churned for his little brother who hadn't yet been to Jess' grave-had been unable to handle the thought of it.

"Come on Sammy, you can come back later…"

"No Dean, I need to…I need to say…" Sam couldn't get the words out but Dean could see that he needed time alone to grieve and wisely left him alone and continued ahead to find Sally's grave nearby. He took longer than necessary walking back for Sam, pausing hesitantly when he saw him kneeling on the damp ground weeping softly. His own eyes teared at the sight and his stomach twisted painfully in compassion. "Aw Sammy" he muttered. Sam wiped his eyes as if sensing he was being watched and saw Dean hovering. He stood up and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

"You find it?" he said huskily.

"Yup." Dean replied simply, deciding for once that he wouldn't rib Sam for crying.

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Several quiet hours later they left the diner they had eaten in and made their way back to the grave, Dean decidedly obviously finding a new route to take them that didn't pass Jessica's. Sam's mouth twitched upwards at one corner into a half smile as he realised that Dean was trying to protect from more pain. Again. He acknowledged the gesture with a slight nod of his shaggy head which Dean returned. No words were passed but Sam liked that he and his brother could still communicate like that after so long apart. He hadn't realised how much he would miss Dean when he had left for Stanford 4 years previously. He shook his head banishing thoughts of Stanford-they were still too painful.

An hour later Dean was still digging into the grave through the solid ground, sweat dripping into his eyes as he worked. He straightened up for a moment relieving tight muscles in his back that slid into place with a satisfying pop. His leather jacket was on the ground beside Sam who stood holding a flashlight for Dean to see. He was shivering slightly.

"Ugh dude it is so your turn!" Dean said dragging himself out of the semi-shallow hole. Sam pulled his mouth downwards as if considering the accusation and then shrugged . It was.

Some time later Sam abruptly stopped digging and Dean spun round, pointing the flashlight in all directions. What was that noise? Had someone seen them in the cemetery and called the cops?

A wind picked up from nowhere, rustling through the leafy surroundings and causing Sam's long hair to fly round his face. He flicked an offending strand from his eyes and heard Dean snort.

"Soo need a haircut…"

He gave a momentary glare as if to quell his sibling but soon had his eyes widening in horror as the floating spirit of Jess weaved through the headstones surrounding them.

Dean took his eyes off of Jess' spirit for less than a second to gauge Sam's reaction but it was too long. He found himself flying through the air in a cold whip of wind. He groaned in pain as the small lump on the back of his head hit solidly off a headstone with a resounding crunch.

"Dean!" Sam's voice was small, pleading. Dean struggled to sit up and clear the black spots dancing before his eyes. He needed to help Sam! He was just standing there in the grave gaping at the ghostly form of his girlfriend, shaking his head in slow disbelief.

"This can't be happening…" he whispered, recalling what he had thought was just a dream earlier that week. Suddenly he found himself staring at thin air as Jess disappeared. He looked round, swallowing, with difficulty, past the dryness in his mouth. Was this another dream?…

"Why Sam? WHY?" Jess was floating right in front of him now, her hands going straight for his neck. He didn't even try to back off. He was too stunned. Her grip was cruel. Tight. He croaked out to Dean again.

Seeing his brother being strangled, again, Dean fought passed the dizziness and rose to his feet reaching for his pistol. It was Missing! Shit! Must have dropped it after my little flight… He scanned the area for the weapon, making his way slowly and quietly back to Sam.

"Jess! It's me…it's Sam! Please don't do this…stop!" Sam gasped through his tight throat. Her grip only tightened as ghostly tears filled her once beautiful blue eyes that were now so hate filled and unrecognisable that Sam cringed in fear. What had happened to her? What had she become?

"Why?" she sobbed, "You let me die! You knew it was going to happen-just like this! You saw it in your dreams! Couldn't even tell me-warn me…YOU LIED!"

She screamed the last part in a rage and Sam stopped struggling against her vice-like hold…she's right…I do deserve this. As he relented Jess' ghost screamed in a triumphant rage and a force suddenly held him pinned to the ground still inside the grave. Something landed in his eye and mouth…salt. Another substance…this one was wet and thick and burned his nostrils…there was an alarm bell going off in his head but he couldn't think what was so wrong…why was thinking so hard?

"Sammy!" Dean's scream ripped through the air alerting the malevolent spirit to his presence again, ruining his stealthy approach. "Get away from him!" he ordered in a quiet menace as he shot a round from his gun. Jess disappeared again in a howl of pain.

"Sammy? Sam?!" he gasped as he ran over to the hole and threw himself over the edge. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that Sam was still alive and relatively unharmed.

"Dean?" he asked, an almost confused expression on his face. The fumes were definitely affecting his brain.

"Come on. Get up. Here" His older brother held out a hand for him and Sam accepted it and hauled himself out of the grave only to be knocked back down again as another fierce wind heralded Jess' return.

Dean cursed as his gun again fell from his reach and he was again slammed up against a headstone which splintered upon impact. He gasped as a shearing white pain speared him in the side. Oh yeh that one was gonna hurt in the morning…

"You let me die Sam! You were supposed to love me!" Jess' eerie voice echoed round the cemetery as she advanced, a box of matches held loosely in one hand.
Suddenly the mist clouding his brain lifted and Sam realised what had been happening-what was about to happen. A match was struck.

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"Nooo!" Dean's scream rent the stillness that had descended and he charged at Jess' ghost, all pain banished by adrenaline and fear of losing his brother. Again.

They hurtled to the soggy ground, Dean's vision clouding as he struck his ribs. But that didn't matter-the match had gone out in the tumble and the box now lay on the ground some meter away.

Sam saw his older brother rush past him, tackling the spirit to the ground. The match went out as it hit the damp earth. He could barely breath he was so shocked: Dean had just tackled Jess' spirit to save him…He tilted his head to the side momentarily…He hadn't even known that was possible. He shook his head again to clear his thoughts, he could waste time speculating later but right now he needed to help Dean.

His older brother was currently pinned to the ground, his girlfriend bearing down on him with outstretched hands. Sam scrambled to his feet and knocked the flashlight, his gaze following the beam to land on the bright silver of Dean's gun. Within an instant he had picked it up, loaded it and fired it at Jess.

Shoot first ask questions later…

He shuddered as a chill swept through him that had nothing to do with cold and became lost in his own thoughts, consumed by guilt.

Dean broke his contemplative, dark reverie when he emitted a slight groan and forced himself to his knees. He took one look at Sam's face and knew that he was berating himself for shooting Jess.

"You did it to save me Sam. And that's not really Jess...you didn't hurt her." he reasoned as he puffed out a breath to regain his feet.

Sam turned stricken eyes to him and sadly shook his head. "It's my fault Dean…she's dead because of me! Don't you see she was right!" he cried passionately.

Dean shook his head sternly, his eyes flashing. "That's not true Sam".

His young brother was unresponsive, just stood staring round to Jess' tombstone even though it was hidden by the dark, shrouded in mist. Dean sighed and with difficulty bent to pick up the matches, dropping one into Sally Lumbard's grave quickly. One problem down…

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Within ten minutes Sally Lumbard's coffin had burnt out-having been utterly dowsed in lighter fluid to speed up the normally time consuming process of 'salt and burn.' Dean wanted to get his brother out of there as soon as possible. He began shovelling the dirt back into place, each movement spiking through his chest, clawing at his lungs. He must have made an involuntary noise or some display of pain as Sam appeared by his side with the flashlight and wordlessly handed it to him whilst simultaneously taking the shovel. He began to protest but Sam looked up at him with pursed lips and paused for effect before reaching out and prodding his ribs lightly. Dean gasped.

"What the hell?!" he hissed, cradling his tender ribs protectively as he turned away slightly with an accusatory stare. Sam cocked a brow and clenched his jaw giving his 'I told you so' face. Moments later he was piling dirt back into the grave and Dean readied his gun again as he looked round, keen eyes straining for any movement amongst the dark shadows playing across the manicured grass.

As his brother shovelled Dean furiously puzzled through options of how to deal with problem number two: Jessica's spirit. He was pretty damn sure Sam wouldn't opt to burn her body-what little was left of it from the original fire. He grimaced at his own macabre thoughts…And given the circumstances of her death Dean would have to agree: it was really distasteful. Moreover they wouldn't have time to dig up her grave before she made another appearance. So their only option was to face her and try, he laughed wryly at the usually Sam-like thought, and reason with her, force her to see that it wasn't Sam's fault. He huffed out a breath and jutted his jaw in frustration.

We are so screwed.

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Several long minutes later Dean was beginning to feel uneasy. Something should have happened by now. Where was Jess' spirit?

His unasked question was answered soon after when an intangible hunter-sense tingled: she was back. Dean's hazel eyes were wide in the gloom as he spun the flashlight beam round eventually finding purchase.

"Sam" he ground out deeply. His sibling heard the unmistakable warning in his tone and dropped the shovel immediately, spinning round to see Jess wafting towards them. She was crying.

"Jess…" Sam breathed in a broken voice that was laced with gravel. Dean swallowed hard against the sting in his own eyes that that tone brought. There was such guilt in his brother's voice…he had to make Jess realise she had got it all wrong-that Sam wasn't to blame.

"Why did you lie to me Sam?" Jess' voice ground out, anger flaring in her eyes.

"To protect you!" Dean spat out suddenly. Both Sam and Jessica turned to him in disbelief. "He didn't want to burden you with the knowledge of what's really out there in the dark…he didn't think you would want him if you knew what a freak he really is!" He winced at his word choice. Seemingly Sam knew what he meant and didn't take offence to being labelled a freak…besides they were both freaks anyhow and knew it.

Sam was horrified when Dean opened his mouth; partially fearful for his brother's intervention, partially because of how well Dean knew him and could read his thoughts….he hadn't even told Dean that!

He held his breath as Jessica drifted forwards, Dean's knuckles becoming white on his gun. But she didn't attack and her eyes…there was something different about them-they were less dark, an odd sparkle there softening her set features.

"Is this true Sam?" her voice was still cold and his nostrils flared as he pinched his eyebrows together in pain, trying to master his emotions.

He nodded and quietly elaborated, "I couldn't believe that my dream was true…that you could be in danger because of me, the life I led! You wouldn't have even believed me if I had told you about my past…" he trailed off as his voice wavered, unable to stop the tears welling in his eyes again.

A gust of wind blew around Jessica and her face took on a renewed flash of anger at his last statement even though there was no accusation in his tone. Dean flicked back the safety in anticipation.

"No!" Jess said softly, the gun flying from his hand to land on the ground beside her.

Sam promptly began talking again as he realised where Dean's plan had been going…and who knew? Maybe if he Jessica could forgive him he could forgive himself…

"Jess" he began, in the soothing tone he had used to placate her when they had had an argument, "If I had told you about my dreams, would you have believed me? Hell I didn't believe them!" he cried in exasperation and self loathing. "I swear to you Jess, I'm gonna hunt down the thing that did this to you! And I'm gonna kill it for what it did… It should have been me!"

Dean cringed when Sam spoke those words, he wanted so badly to absolve him of his guilt, but only Jessica could do that…though there was something different in her demeanour as she made her way over to Sam. Something like understanding in her once blazing eyes. He waited.

Jessica looked down on Sam as he kneeled to the ground repeating, "It should have been me" over and over again and something within her spirit changed, a spark of empathy making its way into her.

"He had yellow eyes…" she whispered in a small, helpless voice.

Dean looked up, his face set. What the hell did that mean? Sam was puzzled too, it showed in his dewy gaze.

"What?" he husked.

"The man that did this to…the man that killed me. He was looking for you. I told him I wouldn't call you for help when he said you would know what to do-I thought he was mad…then I realised he was going to hurt you…I couldn't let him" Jessica sobbed, her ghost tears reflecting eerily in the flashlight beam.

Sam eyebrows quivered as he shook his head, "I'm so sorry Jess…" he breathed, his eyes looking as large and soft as a puppy's. Dean sighed in sympathy subsequently being forced clutch his ribs in pain as the adrenaline in his system dissipated.

"I know…I'm sorry too Sammy." Jessica's spirit said. Sam looked into her eyes, straining to see passed the tears coursing down his cheeks, relieved to find that the anger in her face was gone but…she was fading!

"Be careful Sam…he wants you to find him…I love you…" And with that she flickered once and was gone.

"No! No Jess! Jess!" Sam cried out searching.

"She's gone Sammy…she's made her peace" Dean said heavily. Sam shook his head in refusal. She couldn't be gone…

Dean walked over to where his dejected sibling sat on the soggy ground and pulled him to his feet, patting him lightly on the chest, his own full lips pressed into a tight line of a pain that was both emotional and physical. Sam's sad eyes met his own and he looked away briefly.

"Come on Sammy, we gotta get out of here. Come on…"

Sam nodded robotically, allowing Dean to slip into big brother overdrive and lead him to the Impala. Upon exiting the cemetery he turned round one last time for a brief lingering look and whispered, "Love you too Jess", before seating himself in the Impala's driver seat.

"Dude, what the hell?" Dean held open the driver side door with one hand whilst the other was raised in a questioning gesture. Sam tilted his head to one side, brown eyes travelling to Dean's ribs and back to his eyes as his eyebrows slowly raised in an 'I'm not blind' expression. Dean grunted and silently made his way to the other door. Sam smiled at the small triumph.

"Just for the record…I'm fine" Dean said grouchily.

"Cha!" Sam laughed, sounding in Dean's opinion like a teenage cheerleader what with the college expression and girly pitch. He was unable to hide his distaste and promptly turned on the cassette player, loud, leaving no room for argument.

Sam gave Dean a sidelong smirk of amusement and pulled out of the parking lot. "Thanks Dean." He said, not taking his eyes off the road for fear of the eye contact being deemed a 'chick-flick' moment.

"Yeh I know, you love me yatta yatta. Now shut up man I'm getting' me some shut eye…don't wanna be getting all zombie on your ass do I?" Dean pulled on a pair of dark shades.

"It's the middle of the nite Dean." Sam stated in his superior tone.

"Well done college boy!" Dean enthused as he lifted the shades momentarily to glower at Sam.

"Jerk" came the soft reply.

"Bitch."

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The End x