Title: Vanilla Comfort
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. I do not profit from this story.
Pairing: Sam/Jess
Rating: PG
Warning: none
Spoilers: 2.14 Born Under a Bad Sign
Beta: webbswoman

Note: First Supernatural fic. Thought I'd get a feeling for the fandom with this small story. My thanks goes to webbswoman for being my beta.

One of Sam's most poignant memories of Jess was her smell. Sometimes, when he felt as if his memories of her were fading, he would try to picture her face and be unable to grasp it. He would try to recall her voice and not be able to. Usually, there would be some point days, or even weeks later, when he imagined that he could hear her voice say something to him, something typically Jess, and he would miss her with a sharp pain in his chest. Memories cannot be forced, he learned. But her smell; he could easily remember her smell.

It was his first memory of her. When he met her, she smelt of vanilla. Since then, he has always associated the smell of vanilla with Jess. The scent was always strongest in her hair and it hadn't taken him long to find out that the cause was her shampoo. Once they lived together, he saw the bottle every day. The words "vanilla extract" were written on it in large letters.

After the fire, when he returned to life on the road, he didn't have many things. He had a picture of her (just as he had a picture of Dean) but, apart from that, he had nothing – only memories. And what was he supposed to do when they faded?

The answer came to him at a gas station of all things. It was one of the larger ones, with a store which carried more than the usual porn mags, bottled water and candy. He was looking for some sandwiches when he came across a bottle of her shampoo. Vanilla extract.

He took it down from the shelf, hand tight around the plastic while the fingers of his other hand shook as he opened the bottle. He took a deep breath, inhaling the comforting smell of vanilla.

Outside, Dean honked the horn, clearly stating that Sam was taking too long. Sam jumped. He quickly snapped the bottle closed, grabbed the two nearest sandwiches and paid. He hid the bottle of shampoo because he knew what Dean would say. Shampoo was an unnecessary indulgence. They took whatever soap the motels provided and, if there was none, then they usually had a bit left from the previous room. Usually they didn't need to buy extra soap. And this shampoo was so clearly feminine, Dean would only chide him for the waste and call him Samantha for the rest of the day.

It was a long time until he dared to use it. The bottle lay in the bottom of his bag beneath dirty clothes like a dark secret. It was only after a long, difficult hunt in Wyoming, when both Sam and Dean returned to their current motel room with scrapes and scratches, that he took it out of the bag. Sam was tired, physically uninjured, but it had been too close again, almost too late, and with Dean passed out on the bed, he took out the bottle, got into the shower and, after much consideration, squeezed out a minute amount of shampoo. That night, he slept peacefully with the faint scent of vanilla in his nose.

The next time he used it was simply because he saw a woman who, at first sight anyway, reminded him of Jess. He used it again after he was possessed, used too much of it, and uselessly tried to wash away the scent because he didn't want Dean to say anything. Dean didn't.

Weeks later, they were in a motel again, this time without soap. Dean was caked in mud and some blood, but mostly unexplainable, supernatural, disgusting slime. Dean used up all of their leftover soaps, and came padding out of the bathroom in a towel, hair still grimy.

"I need to clean my hair," he merely said, giving his brother a look. Sam feigned ignorance and didn't move from the bed.

"I know you have something in there," Dean continued when he didn't get a reply and went straight for Sam's bag.

Sam got up then, meaning to intercept his older brother. But Dean had already gotten a hold of the bottle and studied it with a skeptical look.

"Why do you even have this stuff?" He asked, avoiding Sam's hand when he reached for it.

Sam sighed. When Dean only continued to gaze at him, he squatted next to Dean's kneeling figure and revealed without looking at his brother:

"It … it was Jess's."

His brother looked at the bottle in confusion because he thought he would know if Sam had taken his girlfriend's beauty products from the house.

"I mean, Jess used this shampoo," Sam elaborated.

It was Dean's turn to sigh, this time with understanding. Wordlessly, he offered the bottle back. Sam, thinking briefly and mentally saying goodbye to it, shook his head.

"You can take it. I guess I can get another one… if I need it," he said.

Sam wondered briefly how pathetic it was to 'need' a shampoo. Dean only nodded, ruffled his brother's (reasonably clean) hair in thanks and disappeared back into the bathroom with the bottle. Sam didn't see it again.

Another couple of days later, when Dean had returned from a trip out to get some food, Sam found a new bottle of vanilla shampoo, same brand, same color, and same writing in his bag. Neither of them mentioned it.

Thanks for reading. Reviews would be much appreciated.