WE ALL FALL DOWN

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Ring around the rosy

A pocketful of posies

"Ashes, Ashes"

We all fall down!

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Chapter Eight

Down

It was now or never. Do or die. As the pressure on her neck grew from gentle, almost a parting caress, to an unrelenting force, Jessi reached out her other hand and gripped the cold, limp arm of Dean.

At first there was nothing and panic gripped her body. Her life was slowly diminishing as Raef's hand squeezed her neck, allowing her only to squirm beneath his gaze, her lips parted in a useless attempt to obtain air. Her plan had failed and the realization that her life was about to end forced Jessi to thrash around wildly, the man chuckling silently as he watched the life unhurriedly strangled from her.

But then there was a flicker of pain in her leg and a glimmer of hope appeared. The sting lasted only a moment, and almost as soon as it disappeared, Raef's smile also vanished. In its place was confusion; puzzlement, uncertainty, and then recognition. A sharp throbbing in Jessi abdomen faded as quickly as it had appeared and Raef doubled over, dropping to his knees beside her as he groaned in agony. His fingers slipped from her neck and she fell down on her back once she was released. However, as she gulped in air, the substance as sweet as sugar on her tongue, she refused to let go of Raef, still clinging to his wrist.

There was another stab in her abdomen and Raef screamed. He tried to tug his arm away but she had it locked in a death grip. His screams grew louder as various injuries passed through Jessi, taken from Dean's broken body and only remaining within hers for a few seconds before passing on to Raef. Here they remained, and the man's body was slowly breaking down as numerous wounds took residence. He collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain on the cold stone as Jessi cringed. Moments passed as the torture continued, Raef's body quieting to less then a squirm. He was lying on his side, his eyes open and staring at her. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth as the blue fire that once blazed behind his eyes was now little more than a flickering flame. He blinked once and choked as his ankle suddenly snapped and was left broken.

Jessi stared back. She watched as his face turned a ghostly white, the several cuts on his face standing out like red wine spilt on an ashen tablecloth. She could taste copper in her mouth but it did not worry her. The pain she felt only lasted seconds before the wound was healed.

Raef's lips moved as if to say something but a strangled gurgle was all that escaped his throat. His body was crumpled; dying. Fear was evident in his face now. Jessi could see it clearly in his eyes as they faded to a dull, whitish blue. She soon found she could no longer look at the pitiful man, his own inflictions slowly draining the life from him. Instead, she turned her head and focused her eyes on Dean.

Slumped against the crumbling brick wall, hair matted to his head, his lips were tinged with the blue of death. However, even in this state she could see the man he had been in life. The man his brother had described him to be. A slow rise of his chest suddenly caught her attention. With wide eyes, she watched as a small puff of air escaped from his lips, expanding and rising before disappearing in the rainy darkness. She gasped in surprise as a new feeling clutched her. A coldness beyond anything she had ever felt before shrouded her left hand, the one clutching Dean, and realization suddenly hit her. It was time for the passing of death. She hadn't thought it possible, believed it could be done, but how much did she truly understand of her power?

She could see the life returning to Dean; colour immediately restoring pasty skin, eyelids twitching, chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm. A chilling alarm rang in her head and she wondered if she would be able to pass death on to Raef before she succumbed to it herself. It was already taking her, and there was no time to ponder whether she should tear her hand away from Dean. She never would have thought of it anyway, for he deserved to live and Raef deserved to die, and if she was not to make it either then she would accept that.

As the coldness seeped to her heart and prepared to stop its beating, perhaps forever, a smile of her own reached her lips.

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Sam watched in awe and horror as Raef fell to the ground. At first he didn't realize what was happening. Had Jessi stabbed him? Had she somehow gotten the upper hand? Was Raef sick? But then it donned on him. Jessi was using her power.

That's what Raef had meant. "Someone like you". Gifted. A freak.

What her power was, he was not entirely sure, but as he continued to watch the gruesome display before him, he noticed that injuries were spontaneously appearing on Raef's body. The madman was squirming on the ground now, Jessi's hand wrapped tightly around his wrist and unwilling to let go. Sam tried to rise but found he still couldn't move. His head felt like a hundred pound weight attached to his neck. Dean was dead, and the one who killed him was now meeting his fate at the hands of someone other than him. Personal revenge was no longer an option, and with that gone, the anger that burned within him was extinguished, leaving nothing but emptiness behind.

He had failed to save his brother.

That's when Jessi turned her head and Sam followed her gaze. "Dean," he breathed in astonishment, because his brother's eyelids were flickering open, and the gashes that had once covered his face were now gone. Dean's chest rose, sunk, then rose again. As Sam came out of his initial shock he was able to put all the pieces together, realizing the power that Jessi held. She wasn't a freak. She was a miracle. She had saved Dean and had given Raef what he deserved. Sam couldn't help but grin, and as soon as he saw his brother lift his head he found he could do the same.

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It was like basking in the sun, or sitting by a fire, or having sex. Okay, maybe not that last one, but the fact was, it was hot. That's how Dean felt as he floated in the emptiness. He remembered it being cold before; so cold he couldn't even move his body because it was so numb. Now it was as if he were melting. No, not him, but the emptiness. It was melting all around him.

It was as if he were floating atop an ocean of nothing, and as it slowly drained away he sunk down with it. He knew there was a bottom somewhere, and as he waited patiently he started to hear a constant pattering, like the sound of rain. The last thing he remembered was Raef staring into his eyes, and then a pain in his abdomen. That's when the rain had started to fall unnaturally fast and he had plunged into the ice cold ocean of nothing, his body becoming numb to the pain he had succumbed to earlier. He wondered where he was and how he had come to be afloat in this vast space when there was a sudden choking sound, but he couldn't find the source. The ocean was still draining away, and until it completely disappeared he could do nothing but wait.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally reached something concrete; the bottom of the ocean. He was sitting against a solid object, and as the last portions of emptiness drained away, light pierced his vision. He realized that his eyelids were opening. Funny, he had thought they were open before…

When he was able to keep his eyes from closing shut again, his blurry vision focused and Dean was surprised at what he saw. The first thing he noticed was that he was still in the courtyard and it was still pouring. He realized that his body didn't hurt, and it wasn't numb either. The pain that had seemed to cover every inch of his being had somehow disappeared and he wondered if he had died and was now in some warped heaven. Or hell. Or maybe he had become a ghost, and if he stood up and looked down he'd see his pathetic, broken body slumped against the wall.

As he reached out a hand to ensure that it was corporeal, he noticed the two figures sprawled out before him. They were both dead. Raef was lying in a puddle, his blood turning the rainwater pink. Numerous injuries covered his body, and Dean wondered how he had received them. The woman he did not recognize, but he noticed that she was clutching his arm. Her touch was colder than the rain, and he wanted to shake her hand away, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to do it. As he raised his head, he noticed a third person. Sam was a few meters away, sitting on a pile of bricks, his eyes open and watchful. His brother blinked, and Dean felt relief flood his body. However, he couldn't remember Sam arriving, and before he had time to ask, he was distracted by a loud gasp as the dead woman suddenly sat up, her grip on his arm tightening to a painful level.

It was a few moments before she turned her head and met his eyes. Her red hair was a mess around her face and her skin was pale, but in her cheeks there was a tinge of pink. She was alive after all. "Hi," she said, a small smile twitching her lips.

"Hi," Dean replied, confusion leaving him with no other answer. "Maybe you can explain to me what the hell just happened."

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Dean closed the trunk and then made his way to the front of the Impala. Sam and Jessi leaned against the hood, the two saying their farewells. As Dean joined them, Sam gave him an annoyed look. "Does anyone else find it weird that I was the only one who walked away from this physically injured?" He rubbed the back of his head where he had received seven stitches. Jessi laughed.

"Sorry Sammy, but life's just not fair, I guess." Dean pulled out a pair of keys from his pocket and jingled them. "Which is why we've gotta get back on the road."

Sam nodded, standing up and facing Jessi. "You sure you're going to be all right?"

She nodded as she glanced at the classy motel behind her. "Thanks to you, I don't have to worry about Raef anymore."

"I didn't have anything to do with that, Jessi. It was you who finally ended his reign of terror." He smiled. "And it was you who saved my brother's life."

"Yah, thanks for that," Dean added as he opened the driver's door. He wouldn't meet her eyes, but she knew he meant it.

"Jessi," Sam called, but seemed to hesitate before he said, "Can I ask you something personal, and, well… maybe a little strange?"

"Strange?" Jessi smiled. "I doubt anything you'd ask would be considered strange to me."

"Your parents. Are they still alive?"

Jessi's brow furrowed. "My adoptive parents, no. My biological parents, I'm not too sure. I heard my mom died in some sort of accident, and my dad wasn't in the right mindset to raise me after that."

"Accident?" Sam shifted his weight. "Do you know what sort of accident?"

Jessi didn't know why this information was so important to Sam, but she answered anyway. "I think it had to do with a fire."

Sam glanced back at his brother who had been listening intently behind the Impala's open door. They shared a strange look, but then Sam faced her once more. He smiled, and although it would have fooled most people, Jessi had spent too much time surrounded by doctors, nurses, and pills to know what a fake smile looked like. However, she wouldn't question this. Something told her that Sam and Dean were more than they appeared to be. "Just promise me you guys won't let something like this happen again, all right?" she said, her plea spoken with honesty. "Take care of yourselves better."

Sam laughed but then took her hand. "Thanks again, Jessi," he said. He glanced down, something heavy clearly on his mind. "Think you can promise me something too?"

Jessi nodded her head, curious as to what kind of promise he would ask of her.

"Promise me… Promise me you'll live your life well. Promise me you won't let anything change you."

He looked so serious, almost as if he were pleading with her, that Jessi could do nothing but nod her head. "I promise."

With that, Sam let go of her hand and joined his brother in the car. As she stood back and watched them pull out of the parking lot she couldn't help but smile. Thanks to Sam and Dean she had a new lease on life. With Raef finally gone, she could start living again. His icy blue stare would never harm her again and could be left to the reliable fading of her memories.

However, her grin faltered as she remembered that lately those blue eyes had been replaced with those of a different hue. In her dreams she was haunted by the sickly colour yellow. She didn't know who the eyes belonged to or what they meant, but somehow they seemed more frightening than Raef's.

Immediately shaking the thought away, Jessi remembered her promise to Sam. She wouldn't let anything change her. She'd live her life well. As she watched the brothers drive away, she wondered if she'd ever see them again. Perhaps one day in the future, fate would intervene once more.


The End.