We drove for hours, mostly east, occasionally dipping south or north as the occasion warranted. I could feel in my gut that we had just wandered into something big, bigger maybe than we had been involved in. Demons were annoying yes, they liked to possess people, and those people didn't usually survive, but in general they were just having their version of fun. They never targeted someone specifically, at least none that we'd ever heard of, and Brady, well whatever had been wearing his body anyway, had made it seem like it was a part of something bigger. I sat in the back with Jess, holding her close. A lot had happened and I knew she was scared and confused. She was shaking, and for a while I felt her tears seep into my shirt. I wished there was more I could do to comfort her; I wanted desperately to tell her that this was all a bad dream, and everything would be ok in the morning. Eventually she drifted into a fitful sleep. Quietly I whispered to Dean what happened, and as I finished his face changed to one of determination and he hit the gas harder.
I knew Dean was aware of what I had already figured out. There was no need to communicate it aloud. We were in deep. Eventually, as the sun rose, and we pulled into a random town in Utah, Dean couldn't drive anymore, Jess was awake and carsick, more from stress than anything, and I hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours. It was time for a break. I went to get the motel room, trusting Dean to protect Jess. We needed to talk about what we were going to do, because somehow I felt going back to Stanford wasn't going to be an option. I had always known the life would come back for me; I just never expected it to take Jess too. I knew we would talk, after a hot shower and sleep. We both needed it, and my cheek stung from where Brady had hit me. I should probably make sure it didn't need stitches, despite the assurances I had murmured to Jess after we were attacked.
As I waited for the room, I looked out the front of the window. The Impala was parked as close to the office as we could get, and I could see clearly. Jess and Dean were actually talking. She was leaning over the seat, and Dean had actually turned to face her. He laughed, and I wondered what she had said. I assumed it was something I had done- there were several moments from the wedding I knew that Dean would find classic. I felt a pang of guilt shoot through me- that was going to be the last time she likely saw her family, I supposed it was at least a good memory. I just couldn't get over how unfair it was. I had been involved in this life since before I was out of diapers, and I had accepted that I would be a hunter, even if I didn't necessarily always like the idea. Jess though, she came from a suburb in San Diego, she had grown up normal, graduated, and gotten into Stanford. The only reason she was here was because she had decided to fall in love with me. Eventually the clerk finished running the illegal credit card, and handed me the room key. I yanked open the car door, and slammed it, letting out some of the built up anger.
"Baby doesn't need the abuse, Sam." I turned to stare at Jess.
"Not you too." I loved the car, I really did- I had grown up in it, but I drew the line at calling it Baby.
"I knew I'd like her. Good job, Sammy." Well, at least Dean and Jess got along well enough. It was the least I could ask for, as they were going to be stuck together for a while.
"So, this is where we're staying." I could hear the wariness in her voice, and I didn't blame her. I forced myself to see the motel from her perspective, and I knew it was a place that under normal circumstances she would probably be nervous just driving by. By our standards, it was relatively nice- the sheets probably wouldn't have any questionable stains, the bathroom would be reasonably clean, and the TV might even work- and, I figured that it was for that reason Dean had picked it. He was trying to ease her into the life, and I found myself grateful for his perception. One of us had it at least, and I knew that it wasn't me right now.
"Yeah. It's nice, so far as these things go. You get used to it." She looked at me with dark eyes. I didn't know how I was going to do this to her, and I hoped after a few hours of sleep it would make more sense.
We don't have to do it, Sammy
We opened the door, and I was surprised by how nice it was, comparatively speaking.
"Shit." I turned to look at Dean, questioningly. There was absolutely no reason for his outburst.
"Did we need to get a rollaway bed or something? I mean, are you guys, you know, good with sharing?" He was stammering. I wondered why he even brought it up. Oh, oh, that's why he was being awkward. He didn't know how comfortable we were with each other, if we had actually slept, and just slept together, and he probably didn't want to think about it.
"We'll be fine." I grinned, and glanced down at Jess. She looked slightly embarrassed. She looked at me and shrugged. I guess she wouldn't be smiling for a while. As hard as it was for me to have to bring her into this there was a part of me that was relieved. I didn't have to choose. I could have Jess and hunt, at least for now. We walked in, and got settled- salting the door and windows, putting our knives under our pillows. I looked at the pillow where Jess was sleeping forlornly, wishing she had a weapon she could call her own.
"I'm gonna go shower." She gave me a worried look. I just nodded at her, knowing she wasn't comfortable in the world she thought she knew. She wasn't asking permission, she was seeking reassurance. The door closed, and I heard the shower turn on.
"Here." I looked up, to see Dean handing me his 1911.
"Why are you giving me this?"
"It's not for you, bitch. It's for Jess, until we can get something for her."
"Are you ok, man? I mean, after last night?"
"Actually, can you take a look at my cheek; I think it might need stiches." He sat down next to me on the bed, and inspected my face.
"That's not what I meant, Sammy. You had to tell her."
"I never wanted this life for her, and now it seems like we may not have a choice. There's still a lot she doesn't know- she may decide to go her own way, still."
"You gonna talk to her about it?"
"I don't have a choice. After some sleep though."
"Think it just might need some butterfly bandages." He wandered over and pulled out the kit. He dabbed on the antiseptic, and I hissed.
"It's the guilt. She doesn't deserve it."
"No one does. No one asks for it. It seems like she might be a damn good hunter, if that's the way she chooses to go."
"It's my fault." I hadn't heard the shower turn off as Dean patched me up.
"No it's not. It's not anyone's fault. What's happening is what's happening. Dean, move let me do it." I expected Dean to argue, not move out of the way, handing Jess the bandage he was getting ready to apply to my face.
"Sam, shut up. You haven't slept since the night before last. I'm finally clean, and I could use some sleep. Now come to bed, and we can talk to later." Dean stood in the corner looking impressed. I shot him a look that said he really shouldn't say anything.
"First, do you know how to shoot?"
"I know the theory. Never actually done it."
"Hopefully you won't have to; until we can get you somewhere you can practice."
"Like a shooting range?"
"No." I shuddered at the memory of the last shooting range we had been to. I showed her the basics of the gun- namely the safety, and the trigger- the only thing she'd need to know if something got past the salt lines. I also emphasized that the gun was Dean's other baby, and he was rather attached it. She nodded, before crawling into bed, and slipping it under her pillow. I was barley awake, and was grateful for the opportunity to finally sleep. Before rolling over to face Jess I noticed Dean had flopped down on the bed, still fully dressed.
"Dude, at least take your boots off."
"Nope." I rolled over and was surprised when Jess was inches from me.
"I'm not going to be able to sleep without being close to you." I opened my arms, and she settled into the crook of my shoulder. I wrapped an arm around her, knowing it would be numb when we woke up if she stayed there. I felt her breathing even out beside me, and I let myself drift off, trusting we were safe.
I woke up four hours later, about nine am, I guessed. Jess was still on my shoulder, and I was unable to turn to look at the clock properly. Sure enough my arm was numb, and I arched my back, stretching as best I could without waking her. She stirred beside me anyway. I kissed her forehead.
"It wasn't a dream was it?"
"No, no it wasn't." I heard Dean stirring in the bed next to me.
"Well, I guess it's time for some questions then."
"Yeah it is, I guess. But Jess?"
"Can you get off my arm? I can't feel it." She rolled off it, sitting up in the bed.
"What's going on?"
"Honestly Dean, I don't know why I let you sleep by the door."
"It's 'cuz I'm the oldest."
"He's never happy when he wakes up." I explained to Jess, realizing that she didn't know Dean's quirks yet, that she had barely met him.
"Sam, you're stalling." I knew she was right. I had promised that I would answer her questions, but now that I was faced with the actual prospect of doing so I found myself dreading it.
"Yeah. I can't avoid it anymore can I?"
"Not really." I shot Dean a look, trying to communicate that some alone time would really be appreciated. He nodded, and I was relieved.
"I'm gonna go get some food, and coffee you guys want anything?" Jess wanted pancakes, and I found myself craving chicken fried steak, my ultimate comfort food, as well as coffee all around. Goodness knows we needed it. Dean grabbed his jacket, and the .22, before heading out the door.
"So you guys are always armed?" She was starting out light, and even. I was grateful. This was shaky ground, she was never supposed to know about this, and she seemed to sense that.
"Yeah. To the teeth. I never had a gun on campus, but there was always holy water in my jacket, plus a silver knife, as well as an iron one in my shoe."
"These things are everywhere then. So you guys are into it because your mom died, but is there anyone else doing, whatever this is?"
"Hunting. There are a surprising number of hunters; my father has managed to make it so most of them won't have anything to do with the Winchester family if they don't have to. Bobby Singer is the only one who will still even talk to us, and he's a pretty good friend I guess."
"So when you said you didn't want to go into the family business?"
"I didn't want to hunt, not full time. My dad and I fought since I was twelve, and I was sick of it. I needed to get away, and Stanford seemed like the perfect place to do it. I should have known that it would follow me."
"So there's demons. What else is out there- I mean are all the legends true?" I was happy she was taking this well. I wasn't surprised; I felt more like I was confirming her suspicions then I was informing her of a whole new world.
"Werewolves, witches, shtriga, shape shifters, black dogs, poltergeists, pagan gods, ghouls, spirits, just about anything you can think of. Oddly, we've never seen vampires."
"Right. Of course, vampires aren't real."
"Jess, when I showed up hurt all those times, what did you think?"
"I didn't know what to think. I saw claw marks, bullet wounds. Part of me had put two and two together, but that stuff couldn't be real. I guess I was wrong."
"You're taking it all so well. It's just-"
"Unusual? I'm surprising myself here, Sam. We won't be able to go back."
"It wasn't a question. I mean we disappear the same night Brady turns up dead, it doesn't look good does it? I won't be able to see my family again will I?"
"Jess, I'm so sorry. This isn't fair to you. If you want I can take you back. You can say I kidnapped you."
"No. I'm staying. I mean there's a demon after me, and who better to protect me than you?"
"God, I love you."
"I'm not going anywhere Sam. We'll figure this out. More questions are going to come up, you know that right?"
"Yeah I do. We'll take them as they come?"
"Are you sure about this? It's not something that really lets you flit in and out. I've tried it- it doesn't work."
"I don't have a choice. Do people get hurt by these things? Everyday people, who don't fall in love with hunters?"
"I can't let them get hurt. I'm too much of a bleeding heart for that. It seems like it may actually be the safest option for me, too. Knowing how to protect myself from these things, knowing how to identify them. I'm going to become a hunter, not because I feel like I'm obligated to stay with you either, so don't pull that."
"I never thought I'd see the day that someone chose this life, and that it was actually the most logical option for them."
"There's a first time for everything, I guess."
"If you ever want out-"
"Quit trying to talk me out of it. I'm terrified. I should be. There's just this whole world out there I didn't know about. I need to know."
"Yep. So what kills these things?"
"This and that. There's a lot of iron and salt to be had, and silver."
"Mostly for werewolves and shape shifters. There's other things too."
"How do you pay for that stuff?"
"Uh, well, honestly?"
"Well, I think lying at this point is certainly out."
"Mostly identity theft. We hustle pool and darts a lot too. Dean does poker sometimes." She looked concerned for the first time at that.
"That'll take some getting used to. I've never played pool, but well, you've played poker with me."
"Don't remind me." I had never been good at poker, and I had always assumed it due at least partially to the fact that I usually only played with people who were really good. I had decided to try my luck once with Jess, at strip poker- I had lost, badly. I was down to my boxers while she had her socks off. I would have to get her to play with Dean, see if she could really hold her own- if she could those two at the same table would be a benefit to us. The door swung open, unexpectedly, and Jess went for her gun, and had it pointed at the door faster than I could have.
"Wow, wow. It's just me. Jumpy much?"
"It's all good. Been a hectic couple of days." Dean was balancing three Styrofoam boxes and a drink carrier precariously. I lifted myself off the bed, and took the coffees before they fell. I nearly gagged at the smell of the coffee.
"God, these aren't all black are they?"
"Calm down, Sammy. There's your massively sugar addled mess in there too."
It'll always just be us, Sammy.
"It's called cappuccino, Dean."
"Whatever. It's disgusting. Jess, I didn't know how you took it, so I just got it black."
"That's perfect. Strong?"
"Reasonable." Jess always took her coffee black. I found it disgusting; I liked my coffee sweet. I guess it was an indulgence, given my obsession with all other forms of healthy food.
"So, did you have enough time to talk?" I nodded, still not ready to say aloud what Jess had decided. I knew it hadn't really thought it through yet, that sooner or later it would hit her. She was right in that she needed to be able to defend herself, from whatever was after her though.
"I decided to join you guys. I can't stand the thought of all those people who are getting hurt, and don't have a hunter around to protect them." Dean raised an eyebrow, surprised by her decision.
"Alright then. We need to start getting you trained up." I glanced at Dean.
"Sam, it's not your decision."
"Quit with the guilt trip. You said yourself you'd be ok with it if it came down to this, and it has." I looked at him stunned. He and Jess had begun to dig into the pile of food stuffed into the boxes. I grabbed mine, and went to sit on the bed. I needed to sulk.
"Has he always been a little bitch about this stuff?"
"Pretty much. You quit noticing it after a few years."
"So do you have any idea how to fight?"
"I took a self-defense class with Sam this semester. It's not much, but-"
"It's a start. How are you with weapons?"
"I've never had occasion to use them."
"Do you happen to have a knack for languages?"
"Now you're talking my speed."
"You'll be useful with research. There's nothing worse than having to translate stuff."
"I can learn. It'll be fun."
"I like your attitude. We'll have you making salt shells in no time."
"Useful for stopping spirits. They can't stand salt. We fill shotgun shells with rock salt, and it causes them to dissipate for a while."
"Right. What else is salt good for?"
"Demons can't cross it as you know, neither can spirits. A salt circle is always useful."
"Right. So what do I need to know to actually be good at this- a quick list."
"The ability to shoot, accurately, knife skills, hand-to-hand combat, knowing how to take care of your weapons, multiple archaic languages, first aid skills, a good memory, the ability to think on your feet, physical and mental strength. A loose sense of morals helps."
"So a lot to learn basically."
"Yeah. You'll get it, I'm sure."
"Right. I saw Sam last night. He's good at it."
"We were raised in this life. I made a sawed-off when I was 12. Most hunters don't live long enough to get the kind of experience we have." He was telling her about our relatively short life expectancy.
"Someone has to tell her, Sammy."
You'll figure it out, Sammy
"That's not what-"
"Yes it is, Sam. You can't protect me from it." I sat back, resigned. I just let Dean handle it. I really felt like it was more than I could handle this time, and I needed my brother to fix it. I wanted to go back and change it. I wanted that normal life. I'd rather give up hunting, then face life with Jess as a hunter. The next week or so passed in a blur of self-loathing. I had to admit to myself that Jess was good at it. She learned her new gun quickly, and handled like it was an extension of herself. She memorized the exorcism chant in two days, and took Dean out when they fought. He had initially been surprised by her physicality, had gone easy on her, and when he sat there on his butt stunned I had laughed. It had snapped me out of my funk, and I began helping to train her. It was crash course, but there were just somethings you could only learn in the field. I resigned myself to the fact that she had learned just about all she could learn without actually being involved with a hunt.
A/N: I officially have the rest of this story planned out, and am starting on planning the sequel. There's just too much I want to do with this 'verse. R/R please, and thank you!