The stench of melted flesh, smoldering and blackened, clings to the scorched walls and furniture of the abandoned nursery. To the espresso-wood crib and its mobile dangling its cushioned baseballs and mitts, once rotating gently above it. To the colorful, stuffed giraffes and other animals once lined up on wall shelves, to the sailor-print curtains no longer covering the nursery window.

If either of the beings present inside had an ounce of mortality in themselves, perhaps the encounter would have prompted a less reposeful disposition.

Tessa observes the gowned woman with her blue, mournful gaze out the second-story window, with her mouth set in a determined line. This particular woman, stone-silent when the firefighters managed to put out the blaze and hoisted out her grotesque, misshapen corpse for the paramedics team on the cool, dewy lawn… it is a very important task to reap her. Perhaps one of the most important and delicately approached reapings.

"I'm dead… aren't I?" Mary finally acknowledges, her pale, bare arms crossing over herself, as if there's a possibility that she feels the chilly evening. Her visage remains unmarred, as she was before the start of the demonic attack, the fire.

Tessa nods, keeping her distance. "It's easier when you accept," she explains, deliberately, gently. "You can rest now. There's no more pain." The reaper makes no expression as Mary chuckles, facing away from the window, from staring at the empty driveway, at the single cop car patrolling down the cleared out street — where her grim-faced husband and children vanished from her line-of-sight as they rode away, down that dark street, in their family's vehicle.

Those motherly and warm blue eyes narrow in a deep, familiar emotion. Soft features hardening, bitter. A cynicism of breaching the subject of otherworldliness worthy of a hunter's intuitive. "And why should I believe anything you say?"

"I don't expect you to." Tessa tells her, plainly. She holds out her hand. "But you've suffered enough, don't you think?"

Mary unwraps an arm from herself, reaching down to press a palm to the flat space of her stomach — where it had ripped open agonizingly and slow, dripping bloody from the ceiling — and she turns herself back to the window, rustling her clean, white gown.

"My family is about to suffer more than I ever did. My sons. I can't leave them," she murmurs.

"There's nothing you can do for them now."

"Demon or not, you can't know that for certain," Mary argues, lips quirking faintly when Tessa's hand lowers, rebuffed. "They're still my boys. Even if I'm a spirit, I need to watch out for them. Because no one else knows about the yellow-eyed demon and what he'll do."

"They're not alone. They have each other. They no longer need you, Mary Winchester." Her shoulders tighten at those harsh, truthful words and the dark-eyed reaper gives Mary a half-smile. "You have a choice, of course. There's always a choice. You can move on, accept your passing and be at peace, or you can suffer further. As a vengeful spirit, doomed to walk the ruined halls of your beloved home, until your rage eats away your very existence from this world."

A pause — a nighttime breeze from the shattered nursery window flows in, and Mary's gold curls remain limp to the invisible caress.

"You are sure?" Tessa asks, disguising her reluctance in the decision with that fictitious smile still in place.

The dead woman cocks her head, smugly. "I don't think I need to repeat myself."

A heavy sigh. "Then I am sorry for your loss."

Wisps of smoke rise into the air, thickening and surrounding Mary's form. Then the flames — red, orange, bellicose yellow — lick around the gown, around her limbs, whipping her hair around her shoulders and stern face. "And now I want you out of my house."

The reaper waits one last moment before obeying, out of respect, and not fear. A spirit cannot harm her.

But she can harm herself.

She will harm herself.

There's no rest for the malevolent souls.


My darling SylverEyes requested something about her favorite female character of SPN: Tessa. And I deliver. Oops, there was angst.