A/N I don't have much to say about this chapter other than I hope you enjoy! xx

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.

Chapter 33

Sam moved Brittany from the floor of the living room to her bed, where Zoe carefully tucked the blankets around her still form. Sam gave Zoe a concerned glance and checked Brittany's pulse. "She'll be okay, Zo."

"You don't know that," Zoe said anxiously, kneeling on the bed next to Brittany.

"Zoe, trust me, we're not going to let Brittany die," Sam said earnestly as Dean entered the room.

Dean looked at his watch. "It's three o'clock now. We have until three o'clock tomorrow afternoon to figure this out. We've done crazier things."

The corners of Zoe's lips turned down and she wrapped her arms around her legs. Dean sat down next to her and placed his hands on her face. "Zoe. I need to you keep it together, okay?" he said sharply.

Zoe pulled away. "You don't get it, Dean. I can't live without her. Not with Ryan gone, and with your deal – I – I can't do it alone and I need Brittany."

"I know," Dean said firmly, cupping her chin in his hand. "And that's why I need you to not fall apart. If we're gonna figure this out in twenty-four hours, I really need you to pull yourself together and help us do what we do best." He brushed his face with his hand. "Zoe?"

Zoe glanced away from Dean to look down at Brittany. She wasn't used to seeing her friend so still and pale – Brittany was usually constantly moving, to the point of being annoying. She nodded. "Yeah," she said shakily, rubbing her eyes. "Yeah, I'm good, I'll help."

"That's my girl." Dean pressed a kiss to her lips briefly and stood up, extending a hand to pull Zoe to her feet.

xxx

Zoe rubbed her eyes, tired from the hour and a half she'd spent pouring over library books. "Is there anything in here that can possibly help Brittany?" she weakly asked Dean, who was sitting next to her at a table in the San Francisco library, both of them surrounded by books.

He slammed his book shut in frustration. "It's not telling how to break the spell, only how to destroy the spirit, which I already know how to do, thanks." He rubbed his face.

"Well, that's not good, Dean, because we only have approximately twenty-two hours left," Zoe said tensely.

"I know!" Dean snapped. "I know, okay? We have time. We'll figure it out."

Zoe tapped her fingers on the table. "Isn't there something else we can do? Burn hex bags, something?"

"Since the spell has been in place since before the witch died, finding hex bags isn't going to be easy." Dean grunted. "It'd be easier if we could find an alternate way to break the spell and just destroy the spirit before the bitch succeeds in bringing herself back to life."

Zoe groaned and laid her head on the table. Absently Dean reached over and stroked her hair. "Don't worry, we'll figure something out."

A small smile tinged Zoe's face. "I'm not sure you believe that, but thank you."

Dean smiled back. "Hey. What am I good for if not being reassuring?" He brushed hair away from her face. "Think Sam's having better luck than us?"

Zoe sighed. "Since we both kind of suck at research, I would guess so."

"Wanna head back, check on your girl, see what Sam's up to?" Dean asked.

Zoe lifted her head. "You know me well. I would love to do that."

xxx

Sam greeted them at the door when they got back to Brittany's apartment. Zoe darted past him and made a beeline for Brittany's room. "Any change?" she asked Sam over her shoulder as she knelt next to the bed.

Sam followed her into the room with Dean just behind him. He shook his head. "Nothing much, Zo, she stirred a little a couple times and I think she talked in her sleep, but otherwise…." He shrugged. "Nothing. I'm sorry."

Zoe bit her lip and nodded. "Okay. That's okay. Any luck figuring out how to break the spell?"

"Actually, yes." Sam went to the dresser where the Ouija board lay. "Everything I've read online, everything Bobby's read, says the best way to break the spell is if one of the spirits contained is strong enough to break through their containment at the same time the witch's spirit is being destroyed."

"So Brittany has to bust down that spell from within while we burn the witch's bones?" Dean asked, folding his arms and leaning against the doorframe.

"That's the general idea," Sam said.

Zoe nodded to the Ouija board. "What's that for?"

Sam knelt on the floor, setting up the board. "Ouija boards can also be used to communicate with people in comas. If Brittany's here, she'll be able to tell us what's going on, on the other side." He pushed the board to Zoe. "Here, you talk to her. She likes you best."

"Make her sound like she's some weird animal," Zoe grumbled, placing her fingers on the pointer. "Hey, Brit. You here?"

The pointer zoomed all over the board. "Whoa, whoa, slow down. Is that you?" Zoe was taken aback. The pointer hovered, quivering, over the yes. "Sure seems like you. Energetic even in spirit form?" The pointer began moving quickly again, a little slower than before so Zoe could make out what Brittany was saying. "She says this is fun. She says she can 'walk through walls and shit.'" She paused. "And she can fly. Jesus, Brittany, if you're having so much fun maybe I'll just leave you there."

The pointer hit the no mark repeatedly. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding, Brit, it's good to hear from you. I want you back. Not in the way you're thinking, just – I need you back on Earth so I don't have to talk to you through a board game."

The pointer moved quickly again. "What's she saying?" Dean asked.

Zoe laughed. "That she loves me."

"Brittany, you can have a love-fest when we get you back," Dean said. "Tell us what you can see."

The pointer hovered over the question mark.

"We think the spell can be broken from….within," Sam said, struggling to find the correct words. "It'll be tricky, but we think you could be the one to break it. Have you tried leaving the apartment building?"

Zoe watched the pointer carefully. "She's afraid to," she reported to Sam. "But – " she leaned closer as the pointer picked up speed. "The spirits of the girls who – who died before her – they're all there. They've tried leaving and they can't."

"She's talking to them?" Dean asked, eyebrows furrowed.

"She wants you to talk to her, not about her, and yes, she's talked to them," Zoe said, desperately trying to keep up with Brittany's movements on the Ouija board. "There's some sort of wall blocking them from getting out of here. She can't break through."

"I thought that might be the case." Sam reached for his laptop and flipped it open to read from a webpage. "'A spirit still tied to a human body may be strong enough to break the barrier and free the spirits,'" he read, "'as long as the witch is destroyed at the same time.'" He looked up. "Basically Brittany has to break the barrier at the exact moment we burn the witch's bones. We also have to burn Brittany's hair."

Zoe jumped as the pointer on the Ouija board moved again. "Don't think she likes that idea."

Sam laughed. "Just a lock, Brittany, not all your hair. It's just so your spirit can make it back into your body."

Zoe watched the Ouija board for a moment. "She is reluctantly okay with this," Zoe said, "but asks us to please remember that she loves her hair."

"Duly noted, Brittany," Sam said, glancing at the bed where she lay. "Won't cut off any more than we have to." He nodded to the board. "Do you have anything else to say before we put away the board and start working on bringing you back?"

The pointer moved across the board. "She says thank you, Sam, for watching her while Dean and I were at the library," Zoe laughed. "And she's telling me not to worry."

"Good advice," Dean said approvingly. "We're getting this fixed."

"Thanks for the support, Dean," Zoe said. "Well, Brit….signing off, I guess."

"Just keep paying attention, Brittany, do everything we ask," Sam added hastily.

"We'll talk to you soon, Brittany," Zoe said before reluctantly putting the Ouija board away. She made a face. "That's weird. She's unconscious on the bed and yet walking around invisible."

"Lemme tell you, it's even weirder for her," Dean said grimly.

"I would imagine. That's why we need her back." She looked at Dean anxiously.

Dean snorted. "Don't give me that sad look. It'll be fine, I keep telling you that." He walked over to her and grasped her shoulders. "Look. I'll go to the graveyard and burn the witch's bones. You and Sam stay here and take care of breaking the rest of the spell, okay?"

Zoe nodded. "Okay."

Dean kissed her forehead, then pointed at Sam. "Take care of 'em. I'll call you when I find the witch's grave and we can make sure we destroy the spirit and break the spell at the same time. If I come back and find anyone dead, I'm holding you accountable!" Sam looked indignant. Dean smirked and gave him a wink before heading out the door.

xxx

Sam lit the last of the candles that lined Brittany's bedroom and turned to Zoe, who knelt on Brittany's bed next to her, with Sam's laptop in front of her. "Ready?"

"I am." Zoe reached for Brittany's bedside table and picked up the pair of kitchen scissors she'd retrieved earlier. "The question is if Brittany's ready."

"Well, she doesn't have much of a choice in the matter," Sam said with a laugh.

"I know." Zoe picked up a lock of Brittany's hair. "Brit, if I screw this up, I am so sorry. Don't kill me." Quickly she snipped off the lock of hair, making it about shoulder length. "You can always get a haircut. Layers or something. It'll look pretty." Carefully she tied the lock of hair into a knot. "Call Dean."

While Sam dialed Dean's number, Zoe reached over and squeezed Brittany's hand. "It'll be over soon," she whispered.

Sam tossed his phone onto the bed. "Dean's on speaker."

"Hey, Dean," Zoe said. "Are we good to go?"

"Yeah," Dean said, sounding rather exasperated. "I dug up the grave, salted the bones. Waiting on your word to start burning."

Zoe looked up as Sam exited the room. "Sam's heading to the kitchen with Brittany's hair and a lighter."

"We should try to start burning the bones and Brittany's hair at the same time," Dean said. "I don't want to risk Brittany not being able to make it back."

Zoe shivered. "Me either. Brittany, you know what to do?"

The Ouija board was set up on Brittany's dresser, and the pointer jumped to the yes.

"Break the barrier, let the girls' spirits through, but do not go through yourself, Brittany, understand me?" Dean said firmly.

"She understands," Zoe said, relaying Brittany's message.

"Okay," Dean said. "Is Sam ready?"

"He's been ready!"

"Count to three, Zo," Sam called from the kitchen.

Zoe took a breath. "One…..two…..three." She heard Sam's lighter click in the kitchen.

"And good-bye, witch," Dean said. "I'll be back soon, Zoe."

"Bye." Zoe ended the call and sat back against the headboard, waiting.

Nothing happened for several moments, then Zoe turned to look back at Brittany, and let out a shriek, nearly falling off the bed. The witch's spirit was leaning over Brittany, hand on Brittany's throat. The spirit's hair was long and ragged, her eyes sunken as she turned her head slowly to look at Zoe.

"No!" Zoe shrieked. Brittany was beginning to twitch a little, her head jerking back and forth.

Sam came running into the room, gun in hand. "Hey!" he shouted. He fired the gun, and the witch disappeared, but Brittany's body continued twitching.

"No!" Zoe screamed again, lunging across the bed to Brittany's side. "No, no, no. Brittany, please, you can do it, baby girl, you can!" Sam dropped his gun and rushed over to sit on Brittany's other side.

"Help me hold her down," Zoe said frantically as Brittany began thrashing. "She's going to get hurt!" Together Zoe and Sam held Brittany still until her convulsing subsided and she lay quietly on the bed, her eyes still closed. "Brittany?" Zoe searched her face anxiously, waiting for some sign of life.

Suddenly Brittany's eyes flew open as she took a huge gasp of air. She shot upward into a sitting position, but Sam and Zoe forced her back down. Brittany's eyes darted from Zoe to Sam and back again. "Oh, this is kinky," she mumbled. She struggled a little. "Let go." Zoe released her uncertainly, nodding for Sam to do the same. Brittany collapsed against her pillows, shakily covering her eyes with one hand. "Did I miss anything important?" she asked weakly.

"What do you remember?" Sam asked her.

Brittany uncovered her eyes with a sigh. "I'm kidding. I remember everything. This shit is whack."

"Did you just say….whack?" Zoe said, her lips curling upward.

Brittany swatted her leg half-heartedly. "Have you ever tried busting down a spirit barrier in a spirit dimension to let a lot of little spirit girls go onto the next life?"

"I can't say I have, but I can't speak for Sam," Zoe said, glancing at him.

Sam smiled. "No. I haven't tried that. It's on my bucket list."

"Cross it off. It's not fun," Brittany said in a small voice. She rubbed her face again. "Oh God….I can't believe you people do stuff like this every day."

"Not every day," Zoe said.

"Once a week, maybe," Sam agreed.

Brittany laughed weakly. "More power to you. You're far braver souls than I."

xxx

Zoe lay on her stomach on Brittany's bed and stared at the bathroom door. Brittany had begun feeling better after a couple hours of rest and then insisted they all go out for dinner. She had also insisted on spending years in the bathroom getting ready.

Zoe took off her shoe and threw it at the bathroom door. "You've been in there for ages!" she yelled. "What can you possibly be doing?"

The door flew open and Brittany stepped out wearing black pants, black high-heeled boots, and a dark green short-sleeved sweater. Zoe tilted her head to the side. "This isn't fair."

"What's not fair?" Brittany asked, going to her dresser to clip her hair back with a barrette.

"That you spent several hours in a coma today and still look a thousand times better than I do," Zoe said glumly, rolling onto her back and tugging on her t-shirt. "You look perfect all the time and I'm just a mess."

"A hot mess, though." Brittany giggled and winked. She quickly applied her lipstick and smacked her lips together. "You look fine. But want to borrow some clothes, if you're that worried about it?"

Zoe snorted. "No. I don't dress up, are you kidding?"

"Then what are you complaining about?" Brittany spread her arms out. "I always dress up. It's what I do. You never know who you'll run into in San Francisco."

"Hmm. Okay." Zoe heaved herself to her feet. "The boys probably think we died. They've been waiting for hours."

"Not hours!" Brittany protested. "Not even close. I had to shower, didn't I? I had to get all the nasty spirit-dimension germs off me. But it wasn't hours."

"It was," Zoe said. "It was hours and hours."

Brittany gave Zoe a playful smack on the side of the head. "Then by all means let's keep them waiting longer, arguing about how long I took in the bathroom."

xxx

Brittany picked the restaurant, as usual, but Zoe drew the line at Chinese food. Pouting about that, Brittany dragged Zoe, Dean and Sam to a small bar and grill not far from her apartment.

"I can't believe how much energy you have," Zoe grumbled, sliding into the booth next to Brittany, across from Sam and Dean. "It's not normal. You're abnormal."

"I revel in my abnormality." Brittany gave Zoe a kiss on the cheek.

"Just don't overexert yourself, okay?" Sam said seriously. "We don't know what kind of side effects that sickness might have."

Brittany snorted. "You're cute. I feel fine, though, look at me." She spread out her arms, nearly hitting Zoe in the face. "My body is in perfect condition."

"Sweet Jesus," Zoe muttered. "You are back to normal." She drummed her fingers on the table. "I'm gonna go get us some drinks. Be right back." She slid out of the booth and headed for the bar.

"Hey, hold up there, lightweight," Dean said, hurrying after her. "Please tell me you're not planning on getting drunk. As fun as that may be, you're not so fun hung over."

"Don't worry," Zoe said, sitting down on a stool next to the bar. "I won't get drunk. Swear to God." She drew an "x" over her heart with her index finger. "Actually I'm over here as an excuse. Brittany's turning on the charm."

Dean furrowed his brow. "She's flirting with Sam?"

Zoe rolled her eyes. "He's her type."

"What's her type?" Dean asked.

"Tall," Zoe said. "Brittany likes high heels, but she also likes being shorter than guys. It's a dilemma." She nodded to emphasize her point.

Dean laughed, sitting down next to her. "You two know everything there is to know about each other or what?"

"Oh yeah!" Zoe said seriously, even though she thought he had been joking. He looked at her and Zoe smiled before explaining. "The summer after senior year Brittany and I went down to Missouri and stayed in this cabin her parents own on a lake down there. You get to know people you spend that much time with….especially since me and Brittany had already known each other for nine years…" She smiled. "It was really great, that summer, it was just me and her. Didn't know anybody else, didn't need anybody else." She paused. "Like how you and Sam are. Well, until I came along and screwed it all up."

Dean laughed and squeezed her hand. "You didn't screw anything up."

Zoe blushed and lowered her head, grinning. "Aw, thanks." She glanced over at the table where she and Dean had left Brittany and Sam. Brittany was leaning across the table, chatting animatedly. "God, the girl can talk."

"Like you," Dean pointed out.

Zoe shook her head. "No. I babble nonsensically. Brittany talks about stuff that makes sense."

"Feeling a little sorry for yourself there?" Dean asked, looking bewildered. "I like your nonsensical babbling."

Zoe laughed and shook her head. "No, I – I don't mean to compare myself to her, it's just that we grew up together and our lives and personalities are completely different. It's strange. That's all." She shrugged. "And I'm glad she's out here doing what she loves. I wouldn't want her to be doing what I'm doing, that's for sure."

Dean glanced at Brittany and back to Zoe. "No offense to your girl, but if you ask me she doesn't have what it takes to do our job."

"Which is what?" Zoe crossed her arms, raising her eyebrows at Dean expectantly.

"You're willing to take risks," Dean said, looking at her. "And I don't think Brittany is. Not as much as you, anyway."

Zoe was taken aback. She smiled slightly and looked down. "Oh – um – well – thanks."

Dean laughed out loud. "You take compliments so well." He stood up and kissed her lightly. "We should join the group so we're not accused of being anti-social."

xxx

Brittany folded her arms and pouted at Zoe. "I don't want you to leave." It was the following morning, and Zoe, Sam and Dean were bidding farewell to Brittany outside her apartment building.

"I know, Brit," Zoe said sadly. She went over and hugged her tightly. "I'll call you soon."

"You better." Brittany put her hands on Zoe's face. "Love you."

"You too." Zoe reached up and squeezed Brittany's hand. "Any more ghosts and you let us know."

"I will." Brittany dropped her hands and looked at Sam. "It was really nice meeting you, Sam. And thanks for – you know – helping Zoe save my life."

"And I didn't?" Dean muttered incredulously as Brittany went over and hugged Sam. Zoe elbowed him in the ribs.

"You burned the bones," Zoe muttered back. "But Sam was the only one who stayed with her the entire time she was unconscious."

Dean snorted. "Nobody gives me any credit around here."

"Thank you, Dean," Brittany said loudly, letting go of Sam and smirking. "You were fantastic. You were amazing. You're my hero."

"That's what he expects to hear," Zoe said, laughing along with Brittany.

Sam smiled and put a hand on Brittany's shoulder. "It was nice finally meeting you, too. Take care, okay?"

Brittany nodded. "I will." She gave them a sad smile. "Bye." She turned to go back into her apartment, went a few paces, then whirled back. "Hey, um – " Brittany paused, then shrugged. "Just – nobody die on me. I like you guys."

Zoe laughed. "We won't. Bye, Brittany." She blew her a kiss. Brittany caught it, acting thrilled, and pressed it to her heart with a wink.