Forlorn Hope

Summary: Sam and Dean crash a wedding. Or it might just be the other way around…

Disclaimer: Not mine. As if.

This story is dedicated to my very kind co-worker who deleted the first two chapters while I was on a break. We'll call him... Bob (for purposes of protecting the not-so-innocent). Feel free to smack Bob, should you ever happen to see him. As a result of his actions, this story's ended up a bit longer, so bear with me.

Chapter One

Sam was looking out the window again.

Dean sat on the edge of the bed and had to grit his teeth to keep from saying anything. Sam had been nearly silent since they'd checked into the hotel and for once Dean knew exactly what was going on in that freaky mind of his brother's. It wasn't like it wasn't written all over his face, like it wasn't so unbelievably obvious that even Dean couldn't pick up on it.

They were staying in a hotel out in the middle of nowhere as usual. It was a small town and it was the only hotel they had. It was more upscale than they were used to, but this was the town where they were supposed to be, so it was this place or sleep in the car.

You're in luck, the desk clerk had said. Only one room left in the whole hotel. Dean had barely raised an eyebrow. We're having a wedding tomorrow. Dean had been too tired to really care. He'd just taken the key and headed for the room.

He cared now though. The hotel was built around a central courtyard and at this moment, out where everyone could see, they were having the wedding rehearsal. Dean could hear the laughing and joking even through the closed door and the moderate soundproofing hotels had. The curtains were closed too. Sam was sitting in a chair just at the edge pretending like he didn't care, yet still peeking out to see what was going on in the courtyard.

Dean had seen the bride earlier. Thankfully, she looked nothing like Jess other than she was Amazon tall. She was dark-haired and not exactly what you'd call a beauty. But she'd been smiling when Dean had seen her. Glowing, he supposed was the proper term. It had made a woman who wasn't the prettiest on the block seem something more.

So many happy people. It was kinda freaking him out to be honest. He was used to being around a lot of doom and gloom. He had Sam with him all the time, after all. But the people they dealt with were usually on the exhausted, terrified, horrified end of the emotion scale. He knew what to do with them. Which was usually let Sam deal with them, because… awkward.

All the festivity was just making Dean jumpy. Sam, however, was a different story. Loss, longing… Dean could see it written all over him. Jessica. Her name was almost ringing in his ears and for just a second he wondered if he hadn't said her name aloud or if Sam hadn't. But one look at Sam told him that wasn't the case. His brother was still surreptitiously peeking out through the curtains.

Dean tried his cell phone again. The number went straight to voice mail, again. The guy who'd asked them to come here still wasn't picking up. Which meant they were still stuck sitting here until the jerk decided to answer his freaking phone.

"You wanna crash the wedding?" Dean asked. "I never turn down free booze."

Sam jumped and guiltily turned back into the room, letting the curtain fall closed. Dean could still hear the laughter filtering in from the courtyard. He had a sudden ludicrous urge to fire a warning shot over their heads. That would certainly shut them up.

"Wedding's tomorrow," Sam said. "This is just the rehearsal."

"That mean no booze?"

Sam laughed, just a tiny puff of air. "I'm sure there'll be some at the rehearsal dinner."

"You think I could talk them into believing we're groomsmen?" Dean asked.

Sam raised an eyebrow. "You hiding a tux in that duffel I don't know about?"

"It's in my other bag." Dean stood, unable to sit in the room any longer. He had to get out of this place, at least until after the rehearsal was over. "Come on. Let's go get some dinner."

Sam, too, stood. He turned to the door and Dean saw him hesitate for a moment before he finally twisted the knob. Almost immediately they were bombarded with the increased noise coming from the wedding party. As Dean stepped out he saw the people were all in their places, wearing jeans and casual shirts, going through the motions of the ceremony, but clearly having a blast while they were at it. A few noticed Sam and Dean step out of their room and gave them big smiles, enough happiness that they were glad to share.

Dean put his hands on Sam's shoulders and literally steered him the other way, pushing him toward the car.

Dean sat back in the booth with a contented sigh. The restaurant was large, but cozy, nothing too fancy or snooty and the waitress was fast and efficient.

Sam still wasn't talking, but at least he was eating. Dean was relieved to see that he'd shrugged off the better part of his depression, a testament to just how long it had been since Jessica's death. It was an old wound now, one that snuck up occasionally to bite when he wasn't really expecting it.

They ate in companionable silence. Sam had something that had an honest to goodness vegetable in it, while Dean was thoroughly enjoying a plate of gravy that might or might not have some meatloaf hiding underneath it.

The door banged open and a group of loud, laughing people began to pour through it. The waitress waved them toward a group of tables that had been pushed together on one side of the restaurant.

The wedding party. Dean cursed himself for being a complete and utter moron. There was only one hotel in town and there was only one restaurant. Of course, they would come here for the rehearsal dinner.

Dean watched as the group of people milled around the tables trying to decide who should sit where. It was a universal truth that the larger the group, the lower the collective IQ. The words herding instinct came to Dean's mind. If something spooked them it could easily turn into stampede. It was one of the reasons Dean avoided large groups if he could.

The people stood and debated long enough that even the friendly waitress was starting to just point people toward seats to get them going. Dean didn't envy the waitress. He'd always kind of thought that a firearm might be handy in a job like that.

Dean looked back at Sam who was now toying with his fork, pushing his dinner this way and that on the plate, trying to pretend like he wasn't listening to the group behind him.

"Anything you want to talk about?" Dean asked carefully.

"I was going for silent and brooding," Sam replied, "but thanks."

"Sorry. Hard to tell the difference from the normal gloomy quiet thing you've got going on." Sam glared and Dean grinned. "Right. Forgot to mention the glaring."

"I save the glaring for special occasions."

Dean snorted. "Right. Like when you're…. breathing… or talking. You like it for lecturing, too. Did I mention breathing?"

Sam raised an eyebrow. "That's what happens when your brother ignores two-thirds of everything you say."

"Two-thirds? Is that all?" Dean raised his fingers as if he were counting. "Coulda sworn I was up to seven-eighths by now."

A flutter of motion at the party table caught Dean's eye. A middle-aged woman sitting toward the center of the table stood and the entire group fell silent, which of course meant the entire restaurant fell silent.

"All right, everyone. We know why we're here." The entire table broke into applause and whooping, forcing the woman to raise her voice. "We have to set Hope up properly for tomorrow."

"Oh, I think she's been set up all right," a younger man called. "She's marrying this guy, isn't she?"

"Hey!" the man sitting next to the bride shouted. "I thought you were supposed to be my Best Man!"

More laughter and talking broke out until the woman who was still standing waved them once again into silence. "Ok, people. We've got work to do." Mother of the bride, Dean guessed. Had to be. "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Who's got something old?"

Almost as one, everybody at the table turned toward the end where a silver-haired woman sat. On cue, she produced an aged looking velvet case, which was passed from hand to hand until it reached the bride. She accepted it almost reluctantly, tears already forming as she opened it. She immediately rose to move around the table and hug the elderly woman.

"For the bride on her wedding day. May this necklace help to bring you everything that you deserve," the woman intoned, and to Dean's ears it sounded almost ritualistic.

"It's… beautiful, Grandma." The bride hugged the woman again, then moved back toward her seat, both of them dabbing tissues at their eyes.

"All right," Mother of the Bride said, letting out a huff of air as if she'd been holding it during the pass-off. "Who has something new?"

"Isn't the dress good enough?" the middle aged man sitting next to her asked in a stage-whisper. "It cost more than our first house."

"Frank!" The woman smacked him playfully, but added a barely disguised glare for good measure. Poor, broke-beyond-belief Father of the bride, Dean surmised.

"I've got this one." The groom reached into his pocket and pulled out another velvet-covered jewel case. The bride opened the case and gasped. "Do you like it, honey?" he asked nervously. "The bracelet matches the necklace. Your grandmother and I thought… maybe…"

Dean wondered if he'd ever been that desperate to please a woman. Sure, he'd liked a few, more than liked a couple of them… But never enough to stay.

To answer her fiancé's question, the woman threw her arms around him, kissing him until the rest of the group started hooting and clapping. Finally, the young couple broke apart, both blushing and smiling. Dean thought he just might throw up.

"Don't do it," Sam ordered. "I don't want to see that gravy again. It looked nasty enough the first time."

"Just be grateful they're sitting behind you. You're not having to watch the floor show." And Dean was grateful. Sam wasn't getting the full Technicolor version of My Life If My Girlfriend Hadn't Been Murdered.

"Ok, something borrowed," Mother of the Bride called.

Another middle-aged woman raised her hand, as if they were all still in grade school. "I've got them here, Hope." She reached into her purse and pulled out a plastic baggie. The baggie was passed around the table until it reached the bride, who opened it and produced something Dean couldn't see, but everyone oohed and aahed over at the table.

"They'll look beautiful in your hair, sweetie," the woman said. "But you'd better give them back or your cousin will hunt you down when she's ready to get married!" Everyone laughed appropriately and the bride nodded, reassuring the other woman that she would return the items.

"I think the dress safely has the something blue already included," the hostess smiled merrily, "so that just leaves the last thing for me." She reached into her pocket and pulled out something very small. "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe. Every bride in the family has kept this to ensure a happy, prosperous marriage and now it's your turn, sweetie." She placed the coin in her daughter's hand and bent down to give her a kiss.

With perfect timing the waitress arrived with food. The party broke up into the earlier laughing and chattering as they worked out which plate went to which person.

Sam sighed and put down his fork, rubbing his fingers across his brow wearily. "You feel it?"

"You, too?" Dean raised en eyebrow. "I was hoping it was the meatloaf making me all tingly."

"Not the meatloaf," Sam said, his mouth set in a grim line.

"Yeah," Dean nodded, still looking at the wedding party, "my skin's still crawling."

"You see what it was?"

"Not sure. Started when the bride put everything into her purse. Don't know if it's just one of the things or maybe a combination. Maybe something old and something borrowed don't like each other."

"Great." Sam sighed again. "Looks like we're going to crash a wedding after all."

More soon...