Okay, so I just wanted to disclaim the show, because as much as I wish I was the genius behind this...I'm not.

Also, I want to thank all the people who've stuck with the story, who waited patiently (or impatiently) for me to update. LOL

After Effects
Part One

Dean and I were pretty much…not together anymore even though neither one of us had said the goodbye words. But that was mostly because I refused to talk to him, or be in the same room with him alone, unless I had to.

I hadn't' had the heart to remove the ring he'd given me, or the charm bracelet. So maybe the better description of what we were was…we were at a standstill…and I wasn't helping matter any.

We were at Bobby's now and I was actually still staying in a different room at night than Dean. It hurt him, I could tell by the way he acted around me. But I didn't care. I took a sort of perverse pleasure knowing he was hurting because of me. He'd caused me pain by selling his soul and now I wanted him to hurt like I was.

I was being childish and petty. I knew that, but again, I didn't care. Not one bit. I was acting out like a rebellious teenager, or that's what I felt like. I'd even called up Chris - just to spite Dean. I'd said I wouldn't see him anymore, but I saw that as void now that Dean had pretty much sealed his fate.

I was acting like a spoiled brat, but I felt I was entitled to some bratty behavior considering how much I was hurting right now.

So I was seeing Chris - not as in seeing him, but as in hanging with him and his friends, namely Chloe. We were at the pizzeria - the lunch with them that I hadn't gotten to have.

"So, why'd you change you're mind? Dean had a change of heart?"

I swallowed the bite of pizza I'd taken, buying time in the process. "Not really. I just decided I don't care that he doesn't like you. I do, and that should be enough."

"So, not a bad breakup then?" Chloe asked. "You just…have the look."

I grimaced slightly. "Not a breakup, exactly. Just a major obstacle."

Chris looked extremely sympathetic. Genuinely. "Seeing as you're mad…he was the one who screwed up?"

"Um…he did something extremely stupid." I swallowed again, though this time it wasn't for time; it was because I felt a sob coming on. "Can we talk about something else?"

"Sure," Chris said. "Actually, I was gonna asked you - since you're hanging out with us again - if you wanted to volunteer for something."

"For what?"

"Well, my symbology class wants to take a trip to Egypt this summer and we're having a fundraiser to…well, raise some funds. It's like a yard sale type thing. You could donate, or, ya know, come help out. We're setting things up tonight."

"Tonight? Um…yeah, sure. I mean, I don't know if I'll be around much longer, but I can definitely help tonight."

"Well, good."

I went back to Bobby's and was confronted by Dean. An angry Dean.

"So, what might you and Chris have done?"

"We were eating pizza," I said. "Do you care?"

Dean clenched his teeth together. "No, why would I? You're just my girlfriend." He sighed. "Look…I know you're hurting, and that's my fault. I know that. I -"

"Don't," I seethed. "If the words 'I'm sorry' are about to come out of your mouth, I don't wanna hear it."

I went around him to go upstairs, but he grabbed my wrist and turned me around to face him again.

"Talk to me," he said, pleaded, and I felt my resolve falling away. "Or, God, hit me if you want. But don't shut me out. Please."

"Dean, I can't… I don't even know what to say. What d'you want me to say?"

He grinned sadly. "That I'm an idiot, but you love me anyway."

I sighed shakily, filling tears fill my eyes. "I do love you anyway. That's the problem, Dean. It hurts…you have no idea how much I'm hurting right now. I just…" I freed my wrist. "I've really gotta…"

I turned around and ran up the stairs. Dean didn't get it, didn't get why I was hurting so much. It was because no matter how much he loved me, I wasn't enough for him, not enough to make him happy. If I had been, Dean wouldn't have a death sentence.

And the thing was, I had known I didn't overshadow Sam, and I was okay with that. I'd accepted that a long time ago. But the fact that Dean would rather sell his soul to have Sam alive, than be able to be happy with me…it hurt. Dean would rather be in hell knowing Sam was alive, then be here with me, but without Sam.

That night I ended up at the college campus in Jack's Charger. I felt a pang in my chest when I realized he'd never get to drive his car again. Or do anything again, actually. With all that had been going on - Sam dying and coming back to life, Dean making the deal - I hadn't really had the chance to mourn my dad.

I didn't exactly know how I was supposed to feel about his death. He'd had me on an emotional roller-coaster ride when he'd been alive. But then he'd tried helping us, which had caused his death. And what a strange death it had been what with the loud noise and all. I still didn't know what the noise had been…or why smoke had been rising from his body when Bobby and I had found him.

A knock on the side window shocked me out of my thoughts. It was Chloe.

"Hey…you all right?" she asked cautiously.

"Oh, uh, yeah, um…yeah." My stumbling over my words definitely reinforced that fact.

"Okay." She didn't push; that was what I liked about her. She was just a very calming person to be around. "I saw you were here. Thought I'd walk you to the gym since you probably don't know where it is."

"Oh. Is that where the sale is gonna be?"

"Yup. I'm not actually in symbology, but this trip seems important to Chris, so I'm helping."

On the way to the gym I stayed alert. It wasn't because there was a danger; it was just being alert was second nature to me now. Not to mention if someone or something did attack, I didn't want Chloe getting hurt.

"You were crying," she said carefully. "In the car."

Had I been? I hadn't realized.

"Oh." I touched my cheek and, sure enough, wetness coated my fingertips. "Oh…it's just been…a bad couple of days."

"You and Dean?" she asked sympathetically. "Still fighting?"

I smiled softly. "I wish we were fighting. It's nothing that simple. I…don't wanna talk about it." Couldn't talk about it was more like it.

"Okay," she said simply. "I'm here, though, if…"

"Thank you," I said sincerely. "Really."

The gym was full of…stuff. There was a little of everything. Different tables for different things. Clothes, household appliances, hardware and tools, automobile parts, furniture, knick knacks, books, and other stuff that defied category.

Apparently, when Chris had said yard sale, what he meant was something else. It looked like some of the stuff was new, like maybe it had been donated from stores.

"Hey, I was wondering when you guys would get here. We need serious help unpacking. This local store donated a bunch of stuff. Clothes and jewelry, mostly."

That was Chris, of course. He was all smiles, which wasn't surprising. He usually was when I was around. I wondered if it was a mistake hanging around him so much.

"Point me where you want me," I said lightly.

"Well, I call the book table," Chloe said.

Chris laughed. "That's only 'cause you wanna hide the ones you want." To which Chloe blushed.

"Music. Do you have music?" I asked.

"Sure." Chris began walking. "Come on, I'll show you."

Chloe and I followed after him and she branched off on her own when we reached the book table. I'd actually have to come check out the selection when I was finished arranging music.

Arranging the music wasn't hard. There were actual records, cassette tapes, and CD's. I even saw a few classic rock tapes that Dean didn't have and I set them off to the side so I could buy them if they'd accept early buying.

Chris didn't leave my side, I was thankful since I didn't really know anyone else besides him and Chloe. There were only about seven other people here sorting through things, so this would probably take a while.

After organizing them by which type of music thing it was, Chris slapped a big old piece of paper stating the prices on the table. Records were the most expensive, mostly because they were older.

"You should get a CD player or something. Play happy music," I suggested. "People tend to spend more when they're in a good mood."

"Hm. Good idea."

"Well, it was my idea," I quipped. "All my ideas are good."

Chris rolled his eyes good-naturedly and shook his head. "Right, and I'm the one whose full of myself."

And this? This was nice. Being here with Chris helped me forget that I was hurting, that Dean was going to…die…and…yeah. I didn't want to think about it.

"Also, I was thinking we should sort the music by genre, you know, make them easier to find and all."

"Another good idea."

"So…will you be back tomorrow?" Chris asked. "We still have a few things to unpack and the sale starts around two."

"Um…maybe. If I'm still here."

"Are you…avoiding Dean?" he asked carefully. "I mean, if it's not my business, tell me and I'll back off. But-"

"No, it's okay. It's just…think between Dean and me are complicated right now. And I wish I could…talk to you about it, but I can't."

He was walking me to my car - well, me and Chloe. Her car was close to mine and she left us to talk.

"Um, I've really gotta get back to Bobby's, but I'll be back tomorrow if I'm still here."


Back at Bobby's I was confronted once again with one of the brothers - only this time it was Sam. He seemed pissed at me, too.

"What?" I asked, coming into the house.

"What's wrong with you?"

I blinked in surprise. "What?"

"You and Dean…you're pissed, I get it, but don't you think you could be doing more important things than fundraisers?"

"Like what?"

Sam seemed incredulous. "Like helping me find a way to get Dean out of his deal."

I shook my head. "There isn't a way. We've helped people with deals before. The only way to break the original deal is to make another one. You know that."

Sam clenched his jaw. "So that's it? You're just gonna give up?" He sighed, shaking his head. "That's not like you."

"Yeah, well…people change."

"Not like you have. You've become a total brat."

I'd known that, I'd been telling myself that, but hearing it out loud like that from Sam of all people, hurt.

I scoffed bitterly. "Right, I'm the one who whines all the time."

He sighed again. "Fine. When you wanna be yourself again, I'll be here, and we can help Dean. Okay?"


I walked to my room - looking longingly at Dean's room on the way - feeling lower than low because of how I'd treated Sam. Of how I was treating both of them, actually, but mostly Sam. Dean deserved my wrath; Sam didn't.

This wasn't Sam's fault. I mean, yes, it was because of Sam, but it wasn't his fault. I didn't blame him.

The next morning I started going through Jack's things. There weren't very many. The weapons in the back of the Charger, of course, and then the things from the glove compartment. I hadn't done it yet, mostly because I'd been too busy doing other stuff that had nothing to do with hunting at all.

It was like Chris had said, I was trying to avoid Dean. I knew I couldn't do it for much longer. My resolve would've held strong had I not talked to him the day before. If I hadn't seen how bad he was hurting, how much he needed me to talk to him.

Bobby was out with me going through the weapons. They were pretty standard - shotguns, hand guns, knives, exorcism books, crosses, rosaries. All things Sam and Dean had in the Impala. Jack's bag of clothes was there too.

The only things I found in the glove compartment was the proof of ownership of the car, and a letter addressed to me, much like my mom had done. I didn't really want to read it yet, out here with Bobby. I wanted to do it alone.

"So…I came out here to talk to you," Bobby said carefully. And then his mood shifted, and his voice became stern. "Can I just ask, what the hell are you doing? Fundraisers? Avoiding Dean?" He was frustrated. "I hate bustin' the bubble you're livin' in, but every day you waste doing whatever it is you're doing is one less day you have with Dean."

I had to admit, Bobby had a point, and I appreciated the honesty, but I had a point of my own to make. I got out of the car so I could talk to him face to face.

"A tired hunter is a dead hunter," I said simply. "And I am tired, Bobby. I have been since Sam disappeared." That's when everything had started going downhill. "Besides, it's not like anything else is happening. Since we closed that hell-gate thing, things have been quiet."

"Don't you think that's strange?"

I shrugged. "Not really. I know I'm enjoying the vacation." That was a lie. "Besides, why is no evil a bad thing? Demons need rest, too, right?"

"No, you idjit, it means they're planning' something."

I threw my head back in frustration. "I don't care!" I said. "I don't care, okay? I just wanna forget killing and being killed for a little while, okay? Is that too much to ask?"

Bobby stared at me, messing with rosary beads from the trunk, and his expression softened a little. "No. I just think…I don't want you letting your guard down."

I smiled a little at his concern. "I haven't let my guard down. Just because I'm doing something normal doesn't mean I'm not in hunter mode."

I fiddled with the corner of the envelope I was holding. "Do you think…can we save Dean? Do you think we'll find a way? That there is a way?"

He sighed. "I don't know. We'll look and keep looking until…"

I heard the unspoken words like they'd been shouted. Until time ran out.

After talking with Bobby I went inside to the kitchen to get some water and almost turned right back around because Dean was there. But, no, I could be an adult about this.

"Hi," I said softly.

He looked up at me and I saw a flicker of hope in his eyes.

"Are you talking to me again?"

I sighed. "I'm still pissed at you," I said, "but…yes."

I sat at the table with him, but at the opposite end as him. I didn't know what to do or say now. Things weren't the same between us now. They were strained and tense, whereas…it had been comfortable.

"What's that?" he asked, pointing to the envelope I was holding.

"I don't know, um, I just found it in Jacks car. It's a letter, I haven't read it yet."

"Oh." His eyes turned careful. "What're you doin' today?"

I shrugged noncommittally. "That depends. Do we have a job? If we don't, I told Chris -" Dean clenched his jaw - "that I'd help out again." I sighed. "You can…come, too, if you want."

He looked down at the table. "Do you want me to come with you?"

I sighed impatiently. "I wouldn't have invited you if I didn't."

"I dunno, I wouldn't wanna encroach on Chris's territory."

I stiffened, even more tense than before. "I'm not his territory."

Dean let out a harsh breath. "That's an interesting reaction, but I was talking about his school. That is where the fundraiser is, right?"

"Oh." Okay, maybe my reaction had been interesting, then. "Oh."

"Yeah. Well, I may as well go with you. If you're gonna be hanging around him, I need to know he's safe to be around." Dean sighed. "And that's another thing. You know you're putting him in danger just by getting close to him. You're giving the other side targets. They will use him and his friends against you now."

"Yeah, I know that. But I can't just close myself off because I'm afraid someone will get hurt."

"Okay," Dean said softly. "I was just sayin'."

"Wow, okay, look…the sale starts at two but I said I'd get there early to help finish unpacking. You could…come now so you can meet him without all the customers."

Dean didn't really look like he wanted to, but he agreed. "Fine, but I'm driving."

The car ride to the college campus wasn't…fun, at all. It was the tensest car ride of my life. Instead of it being a fifteen minute drive, it felt like we were going cross country.

But we eventually got there and I was out of the car so fast it wasn't even funny. And it's not like I didn't wanna be around Dean, it was just too hard to talk to him now. Granted, most of that was my fault. I mean, yes, it was over Dean's deal, but things were strained because of me. Because, as Sam had said, I'd been acting like a brat. I'd been acting out because things weren't going my way. I'd been treating Dean like the bad guy when the only fault he had was that he loved his brother too much.

I gasped at that revelation and stopped walking toward the college gym. Dean had been walking beside me and he stopped, too.

"What?" he asked, alert. "What is it?"

I shook my head. "Nothing." I bit my lip. "Nothing. I…can I hold your hand?" I usually didn't ask, I just did it, but because of my recent actions I realized he may not want me to.

"Uh…sure?" He sounded uncertain at my change in attitude, but he grabbed my hand anyway.

When we reached the gym, I stopped right inside the doors. Everything seemed to have multiplied over night. Especially the clothes and the music. And movies had somehow appeared on the entertainment table.

"Alyson, hey!" Chloe called from the book table, and Dean and I walked over. "Was wondering when you'd get here."

"Well, here I am to save the day," I quipped. "What do you want me to do?"

"Well, Chris is getting those things from that shipment from that story. The boxes are in the locker room, but he'll be back in a minute. It's mostly clothes and jewelry and stuff."

"So clothes table, then?" I asked.

"Yup." She was eyeing Dean and I realized she'd never met him.

"Oh, um…this is Dean. Dean, this is Chloe." Introductions out of the way, I decided to go ahead to the clothes table. "Kay, well, I'll see you later."

Dean and I, still hand-in-hand, went to where the clothes were kept. There were shirts, pants, shorts and accessories.

Dean and I took in our surroundings. I did that automatically now. There were more people here today than the night before. There was a blond I recognized. She'd been there when I'd gone with Chris to the library that time. I didn't remember her name, but she was working the jewelry table.

"Hey." Chris brought me out of my concentration. He was holding two boxes and he placed them on the table in front of me. "There's two more. I'll be back."

He looked at Dean warily before turning around. I smiled softly. I knew it was because his and Dean's last meeting hadn't gone over well.

"I think he's scared of you," I whispered.

I let got of Dean's hand so I could start going through the boxes in front of me. When I touched the box to open it I yanked back. The stupid thing had shocked me.

"Ouch." Cardboard didn't build up static electricity, so what the hell?


"It shocked me."

"The cardboard shocked you?"

"Yeah…it was weird."

"Story of our life," Dean quipped. "Here, I'll do it."

He started taking out belts and other accessories.

"Ooh!" I grabbed a black leather, silver studded belt. "I want this."

Dean grinned, shaking his head. Things were almost normal.

I hesitantly touched the other box, encouraged when it didn't shock me. This box had jewelry in it. The first piece I grabbed should've been considered a weapon; it was a spiky choker type necklace. The second was a bulky silver cross, clearly for a male.

When Chris came back I noticed he was wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt. The only reason I noticed was because he now had on a worn leather jacket to go with it. It wasn't the kind that bikers wore, it was thinner than that. It looked okay on him, but it clashed with his surfer-boy look.

"Guess you found somethin' you had to have?" I asked.

"Yup." He looked at the jewelry. "We should get the jewelry to Britney." That was the girl I'd recognized, but hadn't remembered her name.

"I'll do it," I volunteered. "Try not to kill each other while I'm gone."

Well, mostly I mean Dean not killing Chris, because Chris was cool and all, but he didn't look like the type who'd know how to defend himself.

I picked up the box of jewelry, placing the two things I'd taken out back in. I walked over to the jewelry stand.

"I've got more stuff for you."

Britney looked up, recognition appearing on her face when she saw me. "Hey…you're that girl from the library."

"Yeah. Alyson." I smiled. "Nice to see you again."

"So, are you goin' to school here now, or -"

"No," I interrupted. "No. Uh, Chris asked me to help out, so here I am."

"Cool." She glanced at the clothes section. "Who's the hottie you brought with you?"

"That's Dean," I said.

"Oh. Promise-ring Dean?" she asked. Why she remembered that of all things, I didn't know.

"The one and only," I said.

"Oh, so hands off then?" she teased, but I could hear the disappointment in her voice; she'd hoped he was free.

"Definitely hands off." He belonged to me. "Anyway, I've gotta get back, but…have fun."

"Okay. Talk to you later."

When I got back to Dean and Chris, they both seemed extremely uncomfortable. Chloe was there also, going through some of the new arrivals.

"Are you keeping the peace?" I joked, seeing what exactly it was that Chloe was looking at. White lace gloves; they seemed to be old fashioned. They looked like something you'd wear with a wedding dress.

"They're pretty," I said. "They'd go with your skin."

"Yeah, I'm gonna get 'em," she said. "I have nothin' to go with them, but I like 'em."

"Did they come from that store? Whichever one donated all that stuff?" I asked.

"Yup. They're only five dollars," Chris said. "If you hold on a second I'll get the receipt books and you can go ahead and pay for them."

"Cool," Chloe said.

Then another girl from when I'd gone to the library with Chris came up. I remembered her because of her bushy red hair. Her name was Beth. She said hi and began sifting through the accessories. She picked up a black hair band, the kind that fit behind your ears, and tried it on. I liked her hair better without it, but I didn't say anything.

Chris came back and wrote out a receipt for Chloe, and then one for me for the belt I wanted. It was three dollars. The hair band was one dollar.

"Well, I'm gonna go see about jewelry," Beth said.

As she turned around I could swear her hair looked coarser than before. It was bristly. Or maybe I was just crazy.

Chloe went back to the book stand wearing the gloves and I put the black leather belt through the hoops in my jeans, buckling it in front.

I looked at Dean and smiled. He was looking more bored than uncomfortable at the moment.

"You didn't have to come, ya know?" I said softly, touching his arm.

"Yeah, but you wanted me to," he said simply.

I turned to Chris, who had zipped his jacket a little and said, "So, where's the music? You promised good music."

"Yeah, I'm goin' to get the stereo now. It's in the band room."

"Oh, okay. Well, see ya."

After Chris got back, he started DJing with the radio - new stuff, old stuff and everything in between. Britney had walked over to the table and looked through the clothes and accessories. She found an old-fashioned, flower designed silver two way mirror. The kind movie stars carry with them.

She didn't seem interested in the mirror part, just the outside. It was pretty, I had to admit, and it was only three dollars, and she really wanted it for some reason.

After she got her receipt, she went back to the jewelry table.

Chris tried to take his jacket off now that he was inside, but it didn't seem to want to unzip.

"Hm, faulty purchase," Dean said. "You should get your money back."

"Yeah, well, I felt like I gained weight just from walking to the band room and back." Chris was irritated. "Which isn't possible."

"Sit ups, maybe?" Dean suggested.

Then Chloe was there asking if I had any lotion.

"Not on me, why?" I asked.

"Nothing. Just my hands are itchy."

I glanced at them subtly. Apparently she'd scratched a lot. Her hands were red…irritated.

"When did that start?" I asked.

"Just recently?" It sounded like a question. She wasn't sure.

"Huh. Well, I don't have anything, but stop scratching, you're gonna make yourself bleed."

"Okay, Mom," she joked lightly. "It really itches."

"Do I need to cover your hands with bandages, Missy?" I played along with the Mom gag.

"Right, that'll take the itching away." She was being sarcastic.

"It'll keep you from scratching," Chris said. He'd given up on unzipping the leather, and was now replacing the current CD with a new one.

"Um…" Something occurred to me. "I'll be right back."

"Where're you goin'?" Dean asked.

"Uh…come with me," I said, grabbing his hand. I dragged him to the side of the gym. "Somethin' weird is happening."

"You mean the jacket and the itchy hands?" So Dean was on the same page I was. "Yeah, I was thinkin' the same thing."

"Yeah. I mean…the jacket seems defective. The gloves, and the itchy hands. And earlier Beth got the hair band and I could've sworn her hair changed afterwards."

"Somethin' weird is definitely happening," Dean agreed with my earlier statement. "What d'you wanna do?"

"I don't know," I said. "We need to find out what's causing this first. We should call…Sam." I'd paused because another more important thing popped into my head. "The customers are gonna be here at two. We can't let them in here."

"Yeah, that'll be easy. Try explaining that one to Chris," Dean said tightly. This had been what he'd been talking about earlier. Getting close to people wasn't good in this profession. I hoped this wasn't because of me.

"Bite me," I said without any real acid in my tone.

"I'm just sayin'…you can never be honest with him, and you're a terrible liar."

I sighed. Dean was right. "Then I won't tell him anything. We'll call Sam and Bobby. They can bring books and stuff with them. They can make sure no one comes in."

"Yeah, okay."

Suddenly a scream filled the wide room. Dean and I looked in the direction of the noise. Beth - the red head from earlier - had apparently found out her hair was losing the attractive volume - it was becoming bristly and frizzy.

"Call Sam," I said. "I'm gonna check on her and make sure she doesn't leave."

When I reached Beth she was comically trying to flatten her hair out. The way she was acting, you'd think it was the end of the world just because she was having a bad hair day.

"Hey, calm down," I said, grabbing her hands so she'd stop tugging at the strands - she was pulling so hard she'd yanked a couple handfuls out. "That's nothing a little conditioner won't fix."

"My hair," she shrieked. "It looks like I've been electrocuted."

"No, honey, it's your best hair ever," Britney said comfortingly as she came to us. "Really." She was an even worse liar than me.

"Um…you take care of her," I said to Britney, turning to leave.

I went back to the clothing table where Chris was now tugging at the collar of the jacket. Maybe the jacket was shrinking.

I wondered if the people here could hold it together long enough for Dean and me to help them. There were a few people I didn't know, but so far only Chris, Chloe and Beth were the only ones to have any weirdness with the things they'd bought. Hopefully, it stayed that way.

Alright...so I know the first half of the chapter is darker than the second half, but I just wanted to show the contrast between Aly being on her own, and how miserable she feels, and then the Aly who everyone else sees. The face she wants people to see, the show she's putting on.