As everyone wandered back in a more business like atmosphere emerged, making it clear we were colleagues now, not family, that it was time to push away all the emotional crap.

"So vampires? I thought they didn't exist."

"Well they do. I've known for years."

"And you didn't tell us?"

"There was no need to." Dean was irritated, but I was also glad he let it go. The faster we got through this hunt, the sooner we could leave and the happier I would be. I made the mental note that we should stop and see Bobby more often when we were in the area though.

"So how do we kill them- silver or stake?" Jess was on it, she knew her lore impressively well, considering she'd only known these things existed for a few weeks. Generally the common lore was the closest to wrong, but it was question that needed to be asked- I was curious myself.

"Neither. You chop their heads off. They can also be in sunlight, if they need to be, and if they're well protected. Direct exposure gives them the worst sunburn you'll ever see. They prefer to sleep during the day, and hunt at night. Their teeth, the ones the use for killing, are retractable, and they're fast. Super senses, to the point of pain for those recently changed the best we can tell." Dean and I shared a glance, surprised. It was a fair amount of information to take in, and it contradicted everything in popular lore- everything in essence we would have assumed had we accidently crossed paths with one. I would have never thought of it, especially how to kill them, but then again for most things cutting their heads off at least slowed them down.

"So why do they suddenly matter?"

"I've tracked down a coven that might know where the Colt is."

"The Colt as in-?" Dean looked impressed. I had no idea what they were talking about.

"Samuel Colt's gun. It'll kill anything, as long as you use one of the dozen bullets he made to go with it. Once I find the thing that killed your mother, well why mess around with anything else?"

"I thought it was just a legend."

"You and me both Dean, and it took a hell of a lot of digging to find it. It's well hidden, and no one wants to talk about it." I glanced over to Bobby.

"So what, we go hunt these things down, and assume they'll tell us? Most monsters aren't exactly willing to work with hunters?" I had to point out the flaw in the plan that was being formed.

"A bit of judicious convincing will do the trick. Like John said, UV doesn't suit them." I felt Jess stiffen beside me. I knew she was okay with killing things that were hurting people directly, but I knew that she would be less ok with the torture this job sometimes entailed. I absently moved my hand to her back and started rubbing circles, trying to loosen the knot that had formed between her shoulders.

"Right. So where are these things?" I was sharp, focused, part of me wanting to find the thing that killed Mom, the rest of me just wanting the man sitting across from me to be proud of me for once.

"Redwood City, California. About 30 miles from San Francisco."

"Right. So when do we leave?"

"Day after tomorrow. Everyone rest up tonight, and we'll pack up tomorrow. Machetes need sharpened."

"Impala needs tuned up."

"We leave early then?"

"Five AM. It's a twenty-six hour drive." We all glanced at each other, before standing up simultaneously.

"Sam, help me make dinner. Dean, go make up the couch for yourself. John, just, get out of here." Dad skulked out of the room, no doubt glad to be gone.

"Wait, Bobby, why do I get the couch?"

"'Cause I know your daddy won't give up his bed, I ain't making the lady sleep on the couch, and I get the feeling Sam will throw a bitch fit if you sleep with Jess." Dean made vague noises of protest, before sulking off to the linen closet. "Idjit," Bobby muttered, before beginning to pull out ingredients necessary to make Alfredo sauce.

"Bobby, what can I do to help?"

"You can set the table if you want. Best you start learning where things are around here anyway." I half-laughed under my breath, wondering what it was about Jess that made both Dad and Bobby soften. I suspected it was her innocence, her motives. She had no reason, revenge wise to be hunting. She just thought people shouldn't be getting hurt. I was pretty sure she hadn't even thought about the fact that demons were after her- that she was at risk of being one of those people who got hurt. I tried not to worry about it too much. There was nothing I could really do about it. I hoped the demon possessing Brady had simply been bluffing and all of this worry was only for the one demon. Until I knew for sure though I would keep her close. As she leaned up to get the plates out of the cabinet I had directed her to. I leaned around her to grab a knife, touching the small of her back. She smiled at me as she counted out the plates.

"Sam, chop the garlic." I turned around, grabbing the ancient wooden cutting board the cloves of garlic.

"Yes, sir." I chopped the garlic absently, only half paying attention to the task, more entranced with watching her set the table. It was too late by the time I felt the knife slice into my finger.

"Ow, crap."

"Honestly? You know how to handle a knife boy." Bobby was already reaching for the box of band aids he kept in the cabinet, prone to kitchen accidents himself.

"You ok, Sam?"

"Go to the sink. You're bleedin' on the garlic." I had to restrain a pained laugh at their reactions. I made my way to the sink, running water over the cut.

"I'm fine, Jess. Barely a nick." It was true too, the bleeding was already slowing down, but I felt her come up to my side and grab the hand, looking over it herself-just to be sure. She fished out a Band-Aid and wrapped it around my finger.

"Ah, did little Sammy hurt himself?"

"John, stay out of this kitchen!" Jess was glaring at Dad's retreating back. I turned and resumed chopping garlic as Jess sat and watched us cook.

"Jess, never let John near a kitchen if he's sober. If he's been drinking- forget it."

"Right."

"One time, Dean was probably seven or so I get a call asking how to use a fire extinguisher 'cause Daddy had tried to make them dinner." I snorted- the motel kitchenette on fire, with the Dean wielding the fire extinguisher- half his size- was one of my earliest memories.

Fire is really dangerous, Sammy

"Dean on the other hand can cook, fairly well. Bobby just won't let him near anything that can light on fire in the house."

"He damn near burnt my kitchen down- twice."

"What's this about me burning down the kitchen?" Dean entered the kitchen, snagging a glass and filling it with the last of the apple juice.

"Apparently you can cook."

"Eh. Just mac'n'cheese and stuff. Someone had to keep Sammy fed."

"Dean help Sam butter the garlic bread." Dean stood up, grabbing a second butter knife, and pulling a few slices of bread over to him.

"I'll be back. Uh, Sam-?"

"Up the stairs, second door on the right."

"Thanks." Jess left. Bobby waited until he heard her footsteps on the stairs to speak, but I knew he was waiting to say something.

"You boys sure you want to head to California with her?"

"Yeah, why wouldn't we?"

"I don't know. Maybe because there's still a demon after her?"

"Pretty sure we lost it."

"You don't lose demons. Just distract 'em awhile. 'Sides the more I think about it more my gut says it has to something to do with the thing that killed your mom."

"Yeah sure thing, Bobby. It's just gonna resurface after twenty years to get at Sam's girlfriend."

"The thing did say there was a plan. That it had orders from higher up."

"You didn't mention that!"

"Was more worried about getting out of Palo Alto alive at the time."

"Right. Well, now that we know that."

"I'm sure we'll be fine. They don't expect us to be in California this soon."

"If they're watching you Sam-"

"We'll be fine. I'm sure we can handle a couple of stunt demons."

"You boys will get yourselves killed one of these days."

"Not as long as I'm around to keep them from doing anything too stupid." None of us had heard Jess come back down and I knew from the way her arms were crossed he had a fair bit of the conversation.

"Hey Jess. We were talking about-"

"I know what you were talking about. And the next time you're going to about it make sure I'm in the room. Bobby, your pot is about to boil over." We looked over to the stove and sure enough the bubbles in the pot of water Bobby was heating for the noodles were just beginning to breach the rim of the pot. We were grateful for the temporary distraction, as he lunged to lower the heat. The air got awkward though as he measured out a few handful of pasta.

"So…" Dean began.

"I will be headed to California. They may have driven me away from Stanford but they won't keep out of an entire state."

Most hunters don't have a home, Sammy

"Right. So that's settled." I knew arguing with her was only going to make her more determined to come- I also knew we needed her, not only to have an extra pair of hands on the hunt, but also to keep Dad and me from chipping each other's heads off. I shot Dean a glare when he opened his mouth to object.

"Someone go get John. Food's about ready." I stood up and marched up the stairs, determined to get to at least acknowledge me civilly before we left. I rapped on his bedroom door, and heard the old bed creak.

"Who do you want?"

"Dinner's about ready. Bobby wanted me to come get you."

"I'll be down in a minute."

"Ok." He closed the door and I turned to head back downstairs.

"He gonna be joinin' us?"

"Said he'll be down in a minute."

"Right. Jess will you pop the bread in the oven?"

"Yeah."

"So Bobby, what have you been up too?"

"This and that. Mostly retired- retired as a hunter gets anyway. Mostly taking calls, doing research now. Helped Rufus with a couple of ghouls up North a few weeks ago."

"Rufus?" Jess was genuinely curious. One of her first questions had been how many hunters there were.

"First hunter I ever met. Owe him my life." I knew Jess was burning to ask how he became a hunter. I also knew she wouldn't. Not asking how someone got into the business was easily in the Top Five Rules for Surviving to Fifty- either they offered the information or you assumed they didn't talk about it. Jess turned to check the garlic bread. I was happy she knew better than to trust the ancient stove
(I strongly suspected it was at least as old as Dean) not to burn the bread to a crisp.

I groaned internally when I heard the heavy thud of Dad's footsteps on the stairs. I was half-hoping he had passed out. Dean grabbed the plates- piling them and carrying them to the counter, as Jess pulled the garlic bread from the oven. The sight made me happy in ways I couldn't quite explain. Bobby drained the pasta and mixed it with the sauce. We all grabbed our plates and piled food on, then proceeded to sit down like we were actually a family.

"So Jess what were you studying before they dragged you off?"

"English. Sam was studying pre-law."

"Right."

"So, Dean what have you been doing?

"Wendigo in Idaho. Then we holed up for a few weeks in Utah after I went to rescue them."

"We didn't need rescued. Just some back up."

"Uh huh. Right. I quote 'I'm pretty freaked out, man.'"

"Because you wouldn't be if you got just in an alley by a demon wearing your roommate's meat suit accompanied by someone who had no idea what was going on."

"Nope. I knew it was bravado, but I let it slide, deciding fighting with Dean just then was not worth it.

"So tomorrow." I knew Dad was about to start handing out tasks.

"Dean will be tuning the Impala."

"You want to learn her, Jess?"

"Sure."

"Sam and I will sharpen the machetes and the get the other weapons ready." I glanced over to Dad, sure I'd misheard him. The two of us, surrounded by lethal weapons was bound to lead to disaster. I looked around the table, pleading for help with my eyes. Bobby shrugged, and Dean and Jess just gave me a look, I was pretty sure said that my life sucked and they weren't going to interfere.

"Right." I tried to sound like I was agreeing, not being factitious but as luck would have it, it didn't come out that way.

"That's an order, boy."

"Always is. Wouldn't know how to ask nice if there was a gun to your head."

"Ain't my job to ask nice."

"Could try treating me like a human."

"When we aren't sure. When we're hunting you follow orders until you learn to stop making stupid calls. When you start caring about your family."

"I care plenty about my family"

"You left."

"To go to college. I missed Dean, hell, I missed you every day. You were the one who said not to bother coming back."

"And you couldn't even manage that could you? Couldn't stay away. Second one little demon shows up you run to your big brother with a little bitch in tow." I started at that, shocked for once. The uproar at the table was instantaneous.

"Dad!"

"John! How much-" I lunged across the table, all coherent thought gone; Dean caught me by the collar as Jess opened her mouth.

"You boys can stop! I can take care of myself. John Winchester- you have whatever fights you want with Sam. I don't care. What happened between you happened long before I came into the picture and I'll let it resolve itself, but you will leave me out of it. I have no qualm with you, but drag my name into a fight between you and either of your sons again and I will shoot you."

"Are you threatening me?" I admired Jess' spunk. I knew Dad could probably beat the crap out of her (not that I'd ever let him), but I appreciated him being put in his place by someone half his size.

"No, John, I'm promising you. Leave me out of whatever god-awful issues you have with your kids. Then again if I were you I would be damn proud of those boys. They never claimed to value family above all else then abandon each other when things get ugly. They've taken care of each other at their own expense." She stormed out, anger rolling off her in waves. I was surprised when she turned on her heel and came back into the kitchen.

"Speaking of self-sacrifice, Dean you ever bring him back to me with that many stitches again and you'll be them in yourself." Dean nodded; figuring the threat that had been directed at him was a long time coming. I was proud of her, and Bobby looked like he was in shock. Dad had wandered back in the direction of the liquor cabinet. The front door had slammed shut. I knew I should go talk to her, but I didn't want to face her anger. Part of me also wanted her to think we were still fighting- that I could defend myself.

"I don't suppose anyone is going to finish dinner?"

"Sorry, Bobby."

"Not you that needs to apologizing Dean. You ain't the one who brought her into the fight. You gonna go check on her?" He was looking at me.

"I've found it's best to let her calm down on her own."

"Right. You boys do the dishes." Bobby left, leaving Dean and I staring at each other confused. I began filling the sink with water, my confusion growing when I heard the front door slam again.

"Leave it, Sam."

"Yeah. It's just weird."

"It's new. We haven't had new in a long time, Sammy. Give them some time, all of them."

"Sure thing." Dean grabbed a towel as I dunked the dishes into the full sink.

"She is an awesome girl though. Seriously. I've never seen anyone stand up to Dad like that, and walk away."

"Yeah, Jess doesn't take crap from anyone. Fall semester there was one professor, absolutely awful person- he was failing half of the class more or less for the sake of doing so. She went into his office hour and when she came out everyone started getting graded fairly."

"She'll be good on the hunt. I know you're nervous about her- the whole forcing information thing doesn't sit well with me either, but we all know there's not a lot of choice."

"Yeah. I'm more worried about killing Dad tomorrow right now."

"Just don't. Seriously we'll be gone as soon as we figure out where the Colt is. I mean we're getting close to find the thing that killed Mom."

"No we're getting closer to finding the thing that can kill the thing that killed Mom."

"It's closer than we've ever been. I mean, it's not too late for normal." Dean's voice and I knew I hit a nerve. I had the tendency to do that when it came to Mom- I had no memories of her. I tried to think about normal. It hadn't even occurred to me since we'd fled Stanford. Part of me had even been glad- I wouldn't be pulled into two directions anymore. I could have Jess, and still hunt. I wondered if Jess thought of normal. I never even considered Dean wanting to stop hunting. It was as much a part of his identity as the car.

"It's always been too late for normal for us. We've never been normal."

"No. We can try."

"Sure thing." I rinsed the plates off handing them to Dean. We fell into a familiar pattern, wash and dry, something we had done dozens of times.

"You're gonna let her drive eventually aren't you?"

"When I'm passed out in the backseat."

"Right. She's trying to wear you down you know?"

"Yep. It's not working. She's not driving Baby."

"You're letting her work on her?"

"It's different. Someone else needs to know how to take care of her, and you've never been interested."

"You are almost creepily attached to that car."

"I know." We finished washing the dishes and Dean called the first shower, claiming he deserved it since he had to sleep on the couch.

Starting to think I'm getting old, Sammy.

Not long after Dean made his way upstairs I heard the front door open. Bobby came into the living room, where I was- reading a book on Mesopotamian lore, and pulled two glasses from the cabinet behind his desk, filling them with scotch. I heard Jess pad up the stairs.

"Have a drink with me, Sam." I looked at him, surprised. I had been sneaking beers since I was 15 (though Bobby had told me to quit sneaking them two years ago, with a "you think I don't notice those beers missing ya Idjit? You may as well enjoy them in the open.)

"Really?"

"Yeah." The lack of a sarcastic comment made me think this was the kind of conversation we'd need the alcohol for. I went to the chair positioned at the corner of the best and took the proffered drink.

"Just had quite the conversation with jess."

"I imagine."

"Told me everything that's happened."

"Oh, right."

"Surprised you didn't beat your brother to a pulp."

"There were other circumstances. I still haven't completely eliminated the option."

"You hadn't talked to her about hunting. And I'm not talking about the stuff that goes bump in the night is real conversation."

"Nope."

"Which is why I did. We're a damaged bunch, Sam. You know that. She should know what she's headed into- that hunters like your dad are a lot more common that hunters like you and Dean. That's she's taking risks being a pretty young thing, hunting for the greater good"

"I already took that innocence. I wasn't going to tell her that. We've been trying to protect her from the more unsavory bits of hunting." I took a sip of the scotch, trying not to choke.'

"I don't think she needs protecting. She's tougher than you think. You know what she told me when I explained the danger she was in?"

"What?"

"That she had guessed as much, and that she didn't care. Just sayin' don't underestimate her. Don't know if I like you dragging her into this life, but she'll make a damn good hunter, which I'm guessing you already knew."

"It was her choice. I asked, offered to take her home. She said she'd rather stay- save people. And yeah, I'd thought of it before. Telling her truth. I wasn't going to, but I knew she would make a good hunter. She's smart, and how she physical she can get, well, it'd surprise you." I smiled, slipping back into the memory of our first time, for a moment.

"I'm sure I don't want to know what that means."

"Thanks, Bobby, for taking care of her. Making sure she's ok."

"It's what I'm here for. Pre-law, huh?"

"Yeah. Didn't get past pre-reqs, but that was the goal."

"Not surprising, I guess. You always liked taking care of things."

"Yeah. I should probably go see how Jess is doing."

"Might be smart. Good luck. You made the right call Sam, just give it time. John will come around, he always does."

"That's what Dean said too."

"Don't forget to salt that window." I nodded and downed the last of the scotch, deciding I preferred whisky by a long shot, and stomped up the stairs. I knocked at the door of the bedroom, just in case.

"It's me."

"Why are you knocking?" I opened the door. She was lying on the bed on her side, facing away from the door. I toed off my boots, and slid in behind her, wrapping an arm around her, kissing her neck lightly.

"Hey. How're you?"

"Pissed."

"He'll come around. He was drunk. Just, give it time."

"Bobby is awesome."

"Told you."

"Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you want me to be a hunter?"

"Honestly?"

"Yeah."

"More than anything. The thought of having you there at my side, doing this, it makes me happy. I don't have to be torn anymore. It's selfish, but yes, yes, I want it." She rolled over to face me, kissing me, deeply.

"I want it too. Just thought I'd make sure. Does that door lock?"

"Yeah." I stood up to make sure it was.

A/N: So the hunt was supposed to be in this chapter, but I decided 4k was enough for one chapter. It's filler, but its important filler if that makes sense. On the upside though, we're halfway through this part of the Stanford Days series! Let me know what you think!