A/N: So, either the last chapter didn't go over well, or I just posted it at a bad time because it was seriously lacking on the reviews. That being said, a huge thank you to: agrove, What You See in the Shadows, babyreaper, caz21, and snseriesfan for the comments. And while I have greatly appreciated all of the reviews, I want to give a special thanks to snseriesfan and babyreaper who reviewed on every single chapter, as well as other continual reviewers like agrove, What You See in the Shadows, and it'ssamnotsammy. To have that support all the way through really pushed me to give you guys the best story I could think of.
That being said, this is the last chapter (unless there is a desire for an alternative ending). Besides a one-shot, this is actually the only story I have seen through to completion! It is an odd feeling because I really want to continue this. I have really enjoyed writing it, but from the start, this was always how I envisioned it ending. The ending actually popped in my head about two chapters in. I hope you all enjoy it and let me know what you think!
Jess fumbled around the nightstand as her phone jumped to life. Checking the alarm clock as she grabbed it, she wondered who in hell was calling just after two in the morning.
"Jess?" Sam's sleep roughened voice asked as he rolled towards her.
"I've got it," she responded before glancing at the glowing screen. She nearly dropped the phone in surprise. Taking a quick glance at Sam to make sure that he was going back to sleep, she snapped open her phone and hurriedly left the room, softly closing the door behind her.
"Dean?" She whispered, wanting to move further away from her shared room before she spoke normally.
"I..." Dean checked his watch when he heard how quiet she was being. "Shit, I had no idea it was this late. I'm sorry, I'll let you go back to sleep."
"No!" Jess said quickly. "Don't go. I'm glad you called." She had gone outside on the porch of the apartment, so she felt like she could talk normally. "How have you been, Dean?"
"I've," Dean tried to find a way to explain his evasion of her, but he couldn't so he stuck with the important facts. "I uh...I haven't heard from my dad in two weeks, he's on a hunting trip out in California and I was just...wondering if Sammy had heard anything."
"Sam hasn't spoken to your dad since..." She let Dean fill in the blank. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not unless you can magic eight ball me an answer as to what happened to my dad," Dean grumbled out, running a hand across his face. "I'm sorry I called, I didn't mean to bother you. I just didn't know who else to call."
"Like I said, I'm glad you did. I have been really worried about you," Jess told him honestly.
"You don't have to worry about me. I'm alright, I'm always alright," Dean reassured.
Jess didn't bother to refute his claim because she had a feeling that the lie was just as much for his benefit as it was for hers. "Look Dean. You said your dad was on a hunt in California, why don't you stop by here and see if Sam can help you?"
Dean scoffed, "Sammy won't help me, he's made that perfectly clear."
"He may surprise you. Besides, I'll make you cookies if you stop by." She promised, trying to keep Dean from getting uncomfortable with the conversation.
"I can't Jess. If he says no..."
"He won't," Jess promised, even though she had no idea how she would make it happen. "I know he's missed you and even if he has said horrible things in the past, he will still do whatever he can to help you."
"I don't know," Dean hesitated. Internally he berated himself; he sounded like a freaking girl. When the hell did he become incapable of manning up?
"Dean, you could use the help. Besides, I have missed seeing my self-proclaimed favorite Winchester," she teased.
The phone remained silent for a minute and then, "Okay, I'm in Kerrville, Texas right now. I'll be out there in a couple of days."
"Good," Jess breathed out, relieved that Dean was to come. "Drive safely, I want you here in one piece."
"I will," he promised, "Bye, Jess."
Jess meant to tell Sam that Dean was coming, she really did. But, he got his LSAT scores back and then they went out to celebrate. Like every year, he was not thrilled about it being Halloween and now that she knew why, Jess spent extra time making sure he was okay. And frankly, she thought she would have at least one more day before Dean showed up.
However, as she heard a scuffle break out in the living room, Jess was woken with the suspicion that she was out of time. Those suspicions were confirmed when she made her way to the living room and heard Sam demand, "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Okay, alright, we gotta talk," Dean informed him, all traces of the vulnerability she had heard in his voice gone.
"Uh, the phone?" Sam asked as if Dean was dimwitted.
"If I'd a called, would you've picked up?" Dean countered.
Jess didn't wait any longer, she had been hoping that the first meeting of the brothers would go better on its own, but apparently not. Flipping on the light, Jess entered the room, aware of both boys simultaneously whipping around to stare at her.
"Hello," Dean said slowly, his eyes teasing as he gave her a quick once over. "I love the smurfs," he told her, pointing at her chest.
Shaking her head in amusement over Dean's antics, her mouth broke into a smile as she quickly entered the room and wrapped Dean in a hug. With an audience, Dean was less comfortable with the open display of affection, but he accepted it nonetheless. "It's good to see you," she whispered in his ear before she pulled back and turned to Sam. "I told him to come."
"What? Why?" Sam asked in confusion.
Dean stepped in, "Dad's missing and I haven't been able to get a hold of him."
"So?" Sam asked, "He's probably working over time on a Miller time shift, he'll stumble back in sooner or later."
"Dad's on a hunting trip and he hasn't been home in a few days," Dean clarified.
Sam expression changed from uncaring to serious in seconds. "Excuse us, Jess."
"Sam," Jess tried, but was left unacknowledged as Sam spun away from her and went towards the apartment door. Dean met her eyes with a small shrug and followed after his brother.
Taking the lead, Dean led Sam down the stairs towards the Impala. He knew it was only a matter of time before Sam started in. And in true Sam form, he didn't disappoint on this.
"What the hell, Dean?" Sam asked angrily as they jogged down the steps. "I told you I didn't want anything to do with hunting and I certainly don't want Jess involved."
"What was I supposed to do, Sammy? Dad's missing, I needed your help." Okay, so Dean probably didn't need his help, but he certainly wanted it.
Sam shook his head, "No, you don't. You could do this on your own."
"Yeah," Dean admitted ruefully, "but I don't want to."
Sam hesitated, it wasn't often that his brother reached out like this, admitted that he needed or wanted someone around. That was probably why he stayed to listen to the work Dean had done to find their dad so far. But, at the end of it, he couldn't do it, he had an interview on Monday, he had the rest of his life planned out; running off right now just wasn't going to happen.
"Come on, Sammy," Dean nearly pleaded. "This is dad."
"Dad can take care of himself," Sam insisted.
Dean was about to respond but abruptly changed his mind. "Okay, you don't want to help, that's fine. I'll find him on my own. I'll be staying at Pacific View until tomorrow morning if you change your mind." Dean moved the shotgun that was holding the secret compartment in the trunk open and let it slam shut. He then stalked over to the driver's side and was off before Sam could register the change in Dean's mood.
Returning to the apartment, Sam was immediately set upon by Jess. "Where's Dean?" she asked instantly.
"Gone," he replied shortly. He was going to leave it at that, but he was annoyed with her. "That phone call the other night, that was him, wasn't it?"
Jess steeled herself against his anger and tilted her chin up in defiance. It was times like that she hated their height difference. "Yes, it was."
"Jess!" Sam exclaimed in exasperation. "I thought I told you I didn't want anything to do with...that life." He had been about to say Dean, but even in his anger he knew that was going too far.
"Well, guess what, Sam," Jess's own anger rose. "You don't get to tell me who I can talk to!"
"You don't understand! It's dangerous, you could get hurt!"
"Sam, I could get hurt crossing the street! He's your brother, do you not remember the last time that you saw him he was in a hospital? For two years he has left you alone, hasn't asked you for anything, hasn't answered my calls, or called me. Don't you think that means this is pretty serious? That he is really worried about your dad?"
Sam's anger deflated as he considered Jess's questions. It was true that Dean had left them alone. He had even waited for two weeks while his dad was missing before calling. It wasn't like this was a common occurrence. "I just...I don't want you to get hurt."
Jess walked up to him and put her arms around his neck, waiting until he wrapped his arms around her waist before saying, "I know, Sam. But, I am not the only one who needs you. He will never say it, but Dean does too...probably as much as you need him."
Sam opened his mouth to say something, but Jess unwrapped an arm in order to put a finger to his lips, "You can deny it all you want, but you need him. I saw the way you two interacted in the hospital. When you are together, something just clicks and it's like the two of you could take on the world."
"What if something happens to you?" Sam asked, resting his forehead against hers.
"I'll be fine. I'll call everyday and let you know I'm okay," Jess promised. "But, you need to do this."
Dean grimaced as he drank the cup of coffee he had brewed using the motel room's coffee pot. If possible, this was worse than gas station coffee, and that was saying something. It had taken him a while to fall asleep, once again turning to infomercials for sound in the motel room as he hoped that Sammy would show up, but he hadn't. So, Dean was working on less than three hours of crappy sleep and he would take the caffeine, regardless of how nasty it was.
Running his customary glance around the room to make sure that he wasn't leaving anything behind, Dean slung his duffle over his shoulder and left the room. Throwing the bag in the trunk, Dean slid into the Impala and studied the map that was sitting on the passenger side of the car. He already knew his route, having mapped it out extensively the night before, but it was one of his habits that he couldn't break.
Involved in the map, Dean didn't bother looking up as a silver car pulled up alongside him until he heard his name being called.
Turning in surprise, Dean opened his door and stepped out, genuinely shocked to see Jess and Sam getting out of the Civic.
"I'm in," Sam confirmed as he walked around the car, pausing to grab his own bag from the backseat. "But, I have to be back before Monday."
"No problem," Dean agreed to his condition, still stunned that Sam had shown.
Jess stepped up to Sam when he reached her side and gave him a hug, followed by a kiss that had Dean smirking. "Be safe," she ordered as she pulled back. "I love you."
"I love you too," Sam whispered back. "I'll be back soon, try to avoid burning down the apartment while I am gone."
Jess slapped his arm lightly, "It was one batch of cookies."
"Our apartment smelled horrible for days," Sam argued, accepting the slap with a teasing smile.
He gave her another quick peck goodbye and let her pull away to walk over to Dean.
"Bring him home in one piece, okay?" Jess half requested, half ordered.
Dean nodded, it was always his job to look after Sam, he wasn't going to stop now.
Jess continued, much to Dean's surprise, even though it probably shouldn't be at this point. "Bring yourself back in one piece as well. I don't want to spend another two weeks in a hospital watching you milk your injuries to pick up hot nurses."
Dean chuckled, "I'll do my best." He told her, once again warmed that she cared enough about him to express concern and demand his safety.
Reaching up, Jess gave Dean a hug, making sure he hugged her back. As she pulled back, Dean quipped, "What? I don't get a kiss?"
Sam shot him an unamused look, but Jess just laughed, stood on her toes, and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "There, now get going so you can get back."
Jess waited until they were both settled into the Impala, gave them a wave goodbye and then got into the car that she and Sam had bought after they had gotten back to Palo Alto. She was determined to make the best chocolate chip cookies Sam and Dean had ever tasted, even if it took her all weekend.
"You know, we made a pretty good team," Dean mentioned as he leaned over in the seat to look out the window.
"Yeah, we did," Sam agreed, sounding kind of surprised at the revelation.
"Well...tell Jess bye for me," Dean requested. He wasn't really looking for a chick-flick moment and Sam had made it pretty clear that he didn't want Dean to be involved right now.
"I will," Sam promised him before giving a final wave goodbye and heading towards his apartment.
Dean was about two blocks away from Sam's apartment when he tried to switch on the radio, already unused to the silence. As the radio crackled, a feeling of foreboding hit him, he couldn't explain how he knew, but he was sure this had something to do with Sam. He immediately turned the Impala around and floored it back towards the apartment.
By the time he reached the apartment, there was smoke rolling out of the upstairs windows and he could see the flames licking out of them.
"Sammy!" He shouted and ran headlong into the building, ignoring the cries of the bystanders trying to stop him.
Kicking in their front door, Dean made his way through the apartment. "Sammy! Jess!" He covered his face with the sleeve of his jacket and entered their bedroom.
"Jess! No!" He heard Sam shouting as he saw his brother's gaze fixed to the ceiling as burning bits of the apartment were falling down on them.
Following Sam's gaze, Dean was frozen by the sight of Jess's burning body pinned to the ceiling. He made to move towards her before his mind reminded him that there was nothing he could do to help her, but he could still get Sam out.
"Sammy!" He sprang into action once more and grabbed his brother's arms. "Come on, we gotta go!"
"No!" Sam fought against him, determined to get to her.
"Sam! It's too late, we have to leave!" Realizing that Sam was beyond listening to him, he began to bodily push him out of the apartment.
Even once they were outside, Sam fought against him, trying to return to Jess.
"Let me go!" Sam yelled irrationally, trying to take a swing at Dean. "Dean, let me go!"
Dean ducked under the wild swing and brought his body closer to Sam, forcing him to go ever farther away from the burning building. "It's okay. It's going to be okay, Sammy," Dean continually told him as he ignored the hits that kept raining down on his back...as well as the insults and blame that were pouring out of Sam.
"This -hit- is -hit- all -hit- your -hit- fault!" Sam accused, tears pouring down his face. The bystanders and firefighters were too busy to notice the two men slowly making their way from the fire. "I -hit- hate -hit- you!"
"I know, Sammy," Dean said in the same soft tone. Dean didn't falter as Sam's hits morphed into clutching at his jacket, desperately trying to find something to ground him.
"Dean," Sam begged, wanting his big brother to fix it like he always did.
"It's okay, I've got you," Dean reassured as he felt Sam breaking down in his arms. "It's gonna be okay." As silent tears fell down his own cheeks, Dean held his brother as he mourned the loss of the girl he loves. But, despite his promises, he didn't really know if Sam would be okay.
Dean and Sam were holed up in a nearby motel while everything was being dealt with. Dean had to wait while the police questioned Sam about the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by a leaky gas line that had combusted and caused an explosion. It then took a few more days for the arrangements for Jess's funeral to be made. Dean tried to convince Sam to go, but he adamantly refused, telling him that he couldn't face her family since it was his fault she was dead.
Later on the day of the funeral, Sam made his way to her grave and said his goodbyes. When he returned to the motel, he did not say anything to Dean, but wordlessly took the bottle of whiskey that he offered.
The next morning, while Sam was still passed out from drinking, Dean snuck out of the room and made his way to Alta Mesa Memorial Park, the cemetery Jess was buried in. Walking up to the newly dug grave, Dean shuffled back and forth on his feet. Clearing his throat he began hesitantly.
"I'm not very good at this," he admitted sheepishly, running a hand on the back of his neck. "In fact, I've never tried. I don't believe in some better place and my only experience with spirits has been to uh...send them on," he ended awkwardly.
"But, if you can hear me, I want to thank you for looking out for Sammy when I couldn't be there for him. I know he can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but you stuck by him. Also, thanks for giving me back Sammy. If you hadn't pushed the two of us, I don't think we would have ever gotten to this point. I promise that I will look after Sam, god knows that he needs someone to keep him out of trouble. So yeah...goodbye, Jessica. I really hope I am wrong about the whole better place thing."
Dean made it twenty feet away before he spun around and rushed back, his voice nearly breaking. "I'm sorry," he said seriously. "I'm a selfish son of a bitch and I'm sorry."
He bit out, "You burnt to death on a god damn ceiling, and some part of me...It's just...as horrible as it is, I'm just glad that I don't have to be alone anymore." He ended quietly.
Touching his hand to the headstone in a final goodbye, Dean turned from Jess's grave and made his way back to his waiting brother.
A/N: Well, that's all. I will be waiting for the next SPN plot bunny to pop into my head and in the mean time, I would love to hear what you guys thought of this. I also wouldn't mind reaching 100 reviews! Thanks again for being such amazing readers!