A/N: Well, it's been an interesting ride. I think Elizabeth grew on me. I'm a little fond of her now. If you'd like to see more episodes rewritten to include her, please say so. I'd probably write it anyways, but there'd be no point in posting the stories if no one is going to read them.
The song Elizabeth is singing to taunt Sam here at the beginning is "Tempted" by Squeeze.
Disclaimer: Supernatural is the brainchild on Eric Kripke. I also don't own the lines of dialogue I swiped directly from the episode transcript.
"--alarmed by the seduction, I wish that it would stop--"
"Elizabeth, shut up."
"Tempted by the fruit of another! Tempted but the truth is discovered--"
"What's been going on, now that you have gone... There's no other! Tempted by the fruit of another--"
"Shut up!" Sam snapped, whacking his sister with the ruler.
"Ack!" Elizabeth waved her hands to fend off the blows. "Dean, help! I'm being attacked by a Sasquatch!"
Behind the wheel, Dean just cackled in good humor.
One headlight was out, but the Impala had survived her foray through the side of a house. She was a tough old thing. Took a lickin', kept on tickin'. She was the vehicle version of a Timex.
"If you insist on annoying me, then make yourself useful and hold the flashlight." Sam requested.
"Sure, because I'm your older sister and I love you dearly." Elizabeth said a touch sarcastically. She acquiesced to his request and positioned the flashlight above his head so it illuminated the map.
Dean tried not to cackle again, but he allowed himself an enormous smile. Sure, they hadn't found Dad in Jericho, so what? Sam was riding shotgun and Elizabeth was camped out in the back seat. For the first time in four years, the seating arrangements were back to the way he was used to. For the first time in four years, Dean had both of his siblings in arm's reach.
"Hey, you know what bothers me?" Elizabeth started. "We haven't heard from Dad in three weeks, but he only took off a couple of days ago."
"And?" Dean prompted.
"Well, he said he would pick me up after a week." she reminded him. "Dad splits us up on three separate hunts, two of them half a continent apart and initiates a communications black-out as soon as he drops me off in San Francisco, a stone's throw away from Palo Alto and Stanford and Sam... It makes me wonder if he knew something and that Jericho business was just a cover."
"What, you think Dad was lying to us or something?" Dean asked.
Elizabeth shrugged. "It's not like he hasn't before. Besides, once he figured out it was a woman in white, it would just be a salt-'n'-burn, but he practically left it for us to finish. The question is: Why?"
Dean shrugged in lieu of an actual answer. He had learned not to question their father's orders. Dad always knew what he was doing. It was just easier to go along with it.
"Okay, here's where Dad went." Sam had finished triangulating the coordinates. "It's called Blackwater Ridge, Colorado."
Dean nodded. "Sounds charming. How far?"
"About six hundred miles." Sam estimated.
"Hey, if we shag ass we could make it by morning." Dean suggested.
It wouldn't take a sighted man to see what the older Hunter was really suggesting. In the matters of his family, Dean was as transparent as they came. That was an invitation. He wanted Sam to come with them; to splat the apple pie and screw the rules and come back to life on the edge. He didn't want to wait another four years for them to work together again. For all he knew, in another four years, Sam would be settled with a family and there would be no chance of ever getting him back out there. He wanted three people in the Impala again, to make it feel full again.
Sam knew it too.
"Dean, I, um..."
"You're not going." Dean interrupted. He didn't look at his brother.
"The interview's in like, ten hours. I gotta be there." Sam said, his eyes begging, pleading with Dean to understand that this was important to him. He glanced at Elizabeth, but her eyes darted away. Still trying to stay out of the middle.
"Yeah. Yeah, whatever." Dean nodded, his tone disappointed and conceding. "I'll take you home."
Elizabeth turned the flashlight off, hiding the hurt feelings in the darkness.
They pulled up in front of the apartment building not long after eleven o'clock. Dean was still frowning as Sam got out. Sam shut the door gently and leaned towards the window.
"Call me if you find him?" he requested.
"And maybe I can meet up with you guys later, huh?" Sam tentatively poked out an olive branch.
"Yeah, all right." Dean said.
"You're buying." Elizabeth told him.
Sam smiled and patted the car door twice before turning away. Dean seemed to struggle with indecision for split-second, then leaned over the empty passenger seat.
Sam looked over his shoulder.
"You know, we made a hell of a team back there." Dean said, returning the olive branch.
Sam smiled. "Yeah." He extended a hand to the rear window, palm flat. "Take care of him, Lizard."
"Take care of yourself, Sasquatch." Elizabeth gently slapped her palm on her brother's and they executed a loose handshake.
Farewell complete, Dean drove off. Sam watched the red tail-lights until they turned a corner at the end of the street and disappeared. He let go of a sigh and headed for the door. He was home now.
Back down the road, Elizabeth leaned on the back of the bench seat with her chin resting on her folded arms, grimacing as a weird pit started to form in her stomach. Dean glanced at her slightly constipated expression.
"You okay?" he asked, concerned.
Elizabeth shook her head even as she replied. "I feel like we shouldn't have left him so soon. I dunno, Dean. Maybe we should stick around for another day. Just one more day. See how things go."
"What brought this on?" Dean wondered. Just a minute ago, she had been fine with the idea of leaving Sam behind.
"You know that feeling you get when you see an accident waiting to happen? That sick anticipation that makes your skin crawl? I've got that feeling right now." She rolled her head to the left and paused.
"Fuck, I think my watch died. It's not ticking..." she mumbled in a tired way.
Dean glanced down at the clock on the radio (it read 11:27) and then at his own watch. The hands didn't seem to be moving. He held it up to his ear. It wasn't ticking either. His watch and Elizabeth's watch stopping at the same time? That was not a coincidence. That was definitely not a coincidence!
He ripped the Impala though a U-turn that threw Elizabeth into the foot-well and gunned it back the way they had come.
"What the fuck, Dean!" Elizabeth fought her way back upright. "What the hell are you doing?"
"You're right! We shouldn't have left Sam so soon!" Dean replied. C'mon, baby! Faster!
Elizabeth blinked. "Whaddya mean?"
"It's here." Dean growled.
They returned to Sam's apartment building in record time, but it hadn't been fast enough. There was brilliant orange and yellow light flickering inside, flames already breaking through the roof.
"Holy fu-" Elizabeth started in terrified awe.
"Stay in the car!" Dean bolted out the door. "Stay in the car! I mean it!"
Normally, Elizabeth would have balked at the order (she hadn't been ordered to stay in the car in a long time), but there was so much raw fear in her brother's voice that she hunkered down behind the front seat until all that could be seen of her was everything from the eyes up and her white knuckles.
Knowing that she would stay there, Dean sprinted up the walkway without another glance and burst through the door. The stairs were no obstacle; he was up them in a heartbeat. Terror and adrenaline lent him amazing strength and he kicked down the apartment door like it was nothing. The main room wasn't on fire, but a blast of heat hit him nonetheless. He could hear Sam screaming Jess's name, in fear, in desperation. In agony.
Down the hall, the bedroom was on fire. Dean didn't display any regard for his own safety and burst into the flaming room. The heat was amazing. He hadn't felt anything like this since-- since Lawrence, Kansas. The bedroom ceiling was engulfed, the fire crawling down the walls, burning white-hot at the core.
The most terrifying thing, however, was Sam. He was flat on the bed shielding his face with one arm but his eyes were locked on the ceiling.
Dean grabbed his brother, hauling him off the bed. Sam wouldn't look away from the ceiling. Dean looked up.
Jess was up there. Blood seeped through her white night-dress. Tongues of flame licked at her skin, turning it red-raw and bubbly. She was dying, perhaps already dead. The same way Mary Winchester had died.
"No!" Sam screamed, trying to fight out of Dean's impossibly strong grip. "No!"
Six-foot-four and weighing in over two hundred some odd pounds, Sam was no match for a determined older brother. Dean shoved him bodily out the door. Even as the ceiling started to give, Sam still fought and struggled desperately. Even as the life he had spent four years building burnt up right before his eyes.
"Jess! Jess! No!"
On November 2nd, John Winchester's life had fallen to pieces, burning up in the flames of something he didn't understand. All he knew was that something had murdered his wife, because that fire had been unnatural. The manner of her death had been nothing short of unnatural.
Desperate for answers, grieving, John had picked up what remained of his life -- his three children, and packed them away into the Impala. Everything had been restructured that night. He had stopped being concerned about the trivial matters that plagued daily life. Normal life. Life had ceased to be normal the instant he saw Mary bleeding on the ceiling. Normal life didn't occur to him, until almost two years later when it was mentioned to him that he oughta put Dean in school.
Winchesters just weren't meant for a normal life. John knew his family history was plagued with unusual deaths, half-insane aunts and missing relatives. All stories that had been passed down from his grandfather, who had loved to talk about the "family curse".
So if the Winchesters couldn't live a normal life, then their job was to ensure that everyone else could.
Because if a Winchester tried for a normal life, it eventually went up in flames. Just like now.
Or that was how Dean was seeing now, anyways.
He had tried to console himself, tell himself that Sam probably couldn't have pulled it off in the long run. Trying to hide a decade's worth of secrets from someone who was supposed to know you intimately. Jess would wonder why Sam's family never called, never came around. Why Sam would refuse to establish contact. Why Sam bought so much salt and taught his kids self-defense. Why he over-analyzed every single accident on the news and in the paper. Too many secrets that couldn't be passed off as personality quirks.
It wouldn't have worked.
That was what Dean kept telling himself even as he stood beside his blank-faced brother and watched the firemen race to put the flames out.
It was hours before the fire was doused. The building had been evacuated, no injuries, only one fatality. One whole half of the building had been consumed. Gawkers of all ages gathered along the sidewalks with the police patrolling a perimeter so they wouldn't get too close. The crowd of humanity seethed with ill-disguised curiosity and once, Dean had heard someone wonder: "Isn't that Sam Winchester's building?"
Sam had heard it too. He'd snapped out of his funk and wandered off, presumably to go hide in the Impala.
Things were dying down now. The police would come nosing around soon with questions and Dean wanted to be out of here before then. Give Sam a few hours reprieve before-- before everything else.
Dean strode back to the Impala, now parked a block away. Elizabeth was sitting on the hood, her heels caught on the bumper. Her hands were fisted tightly around each other -- Dean imagined that they would be shaking otherwise. She caught her older brother's eye and inclined her head to the rear of the car. Sam was standing behind the open trunk, loading a shotgun. His face was a mask of desperate anger, his jaw stiff and his eyes focused on the task. It looked as though he would break into tears at the slightest provocation. Dean was cautious as he joined Sam at the trunk. Of all things he'd dealt with tonight, he didn't want to add a sobbing baby brother to the list.
Sam finished loading the shotgun. He sighed, a slow, controlled exhale, and tossed the gun into the trunk.
"We got work to do."