Title: It Starts With Goodbye (2/13)
Characters: Dean, Sam, Jess, Bobby, OFC
Pairing: Sam/Jess, Dean/OFC
Spoilers: Set in the back end of season two (pre-finale) so anything before that is fair game.
Summary: Dean would do anything to make Sam happy but what would Sam let him give up? How far can you push brotherly love before you have to be selfish for your own sake?
Previous Chapters: Pt 1
Sam had had no clear idea of what Bobby actually did until he spent a few days in the man’s house. Sure, he already knew that the older man did some hunting but that was only local area stuff and he was always around whenever they dropped by or called. Mainly it seemed that he was the mission man, the go to guy. If you needed stuff for a hunt you went to Bobby. In return he kept his ear to the ground and if he heard of something in your area he called you up and told you to get your ass over there and deal with it. It was an arrangement that seemed to suit all.
On their fourth night there he’d come home around dinner time, bring with him a couple of pizzas since the only working fridge in the house was currently filled with chilled sheep parts which a guy in Alabama was coming to pick up in couple of days. Apparently he needed them for an abacua ritual designed to stop a vengeance demon. Sam didn’t really want to know any more details than that.
“Heard something today,” Bobby said simply, much, much later in the evening once they’d eaten and talked a lot about nothing in particular, “Thought you kids might be interested.”
Sam wondered how at twenty seven Dean felt about being called a ‘kid’ but by the look of grin on his face he didn’t seem too bothered. Bobby was like an uncle or something to them and Dean always made exceptions for family.
“You trying to get rid of us, Bobby?” he asked with a slight chuckle.
The older man shot him a droll look, “With you using all my spare car parts, eating all my food and drinking all my beer, what do you think?”
Dean’s grin widened slightly but he said nothing, saluting Bobby with a beer bottle. Fair enough.
“It might be nothing,” Bobby continued, serious once more, “And usually I wouldn’t bother you guys with such stuff but...”
He paused with a frown as if trying to think of the right way of putting it, obviously not entirely comfortable with what he had to say.
“But....?” Izzy prompted perhaps too harshly. Patience wasn’t always a virtue though and she’d never been one for beating around the bush. She believed that if you had something important to say you should just say it. Hesitancy made her nervous. Sam could understand that feeling. He didn’t like Bobby’s tone either – it just wasn’t like him.
“I came by this story today,” Bobby said with a curt nod, obviously agreeing that he should just get the hell on with it, “Been in the more obscure papers if you catch my drift. Young girl thinks she’s being stalked by a ghost. She’s part of her college’s paranormal society so usually I’d say it was a case of an over active imagination but I thought you might want to check this one out yourselves.”
Dean frowned over the top of his beer bottle. It wasn’t like Bobby to be so evasive. He was always blunt and forthright with his words. That was part of the reason why he and Dean got on so well.
“Why would we wanna do that?” he asked suspiciously, “Sounds like a load of bull to me.”
“Because the girl’s at Stanford,” Bobby explained with a heavy sigh and a shake of his head as though he didn’t really wish to burden them with this but didn’t see that he had any choice, “The haunting activity only started a few months ago and I checked; there’s only been one death there in recent years.”
A cold shiver ran through Sam’s blood like poison threatening to stop his heart dead.
“Jessica,” he confirmed quietly when no one else dared to do it.
Bobby nodded in confirmation and then seemed to feel suddenly bad, needing to reassure Sam.
“As I said it’s probably nothing but I thought you’d want to know.”
Sam sat there in silence for a long moment, feeling all eyes on him; Bobby with apology, Dean with concern and Izzy with sympathy. Sam ignored them all, knowing that they were just waiting to see how he would react, wondering if this was the calm before the storm. Truth was he felt nothing. He was numbed. He’d never even considered the possibility that Jessica might end up that way or that the manner of her death would leave her unable to move on and he wasn’t prepared to consider it now. True it had seemed to have happened to his mom but that didn’t mean anything though. She’d been the exception rather than the rule. There had been a fair few other women killed in the same manner and as far as he knew none of them had failed to cross over. Why should Jessica have been any different?
No, he convinced himself, it wasn’t her. It couldn’t be. No logical reason, it just couldn’t. But still he had to know for sure, the gnawing doubt already inside him convincing him that he wouldn’t get a moment’s piece until he did. Besides, either way it was another job that needing doing. They’d be wrong to ignore it completely. They were supposed to be professionals and this was a job, nothing more.
“We’d better leave in the morning,” he said coolly, giving nothing away.
Dean nodded, a little wary, obviously not at all comfortable with Sam’s reaction.
Sam only managed a few more moments under scrutiny before he stood and left the room, needing to be alone.
No one followed him.
Dean was mightily relieved when they finally pulled up in the visitor’s car park of Stanford University, the sound of slamming doors punctuating their arrival. The journey had been too long and too quiet and he he’d hated every single moment of it. No one had spoken and playing his music at full volume in order to drown out the silence had seemed somehow disrespectful and so he’d resisted the urge.
Sam didn’t want to talk about what was going on, preferring to think it through in private. Izzy seemed to feel like it wasn’t her place to mention it and so she had said very little throughout the whole drive. Dean himself had been living on tenterhooks ever since Bobby had told them about the problem, old guilt dragged up once more, worried it would bring out some painful truths.
He did sometimes wonder if Sam had blamed him for what had happened, even if it was just for a short while. Had Sam ever believed that if Dean hadn’t persuaded him to come looking for their dad then the demon wouldn’t have gotten his opportunity and Jessica would still be alive? Dean had never asked, talking about stuff like that not really being his thing. Quite frankly he didn’t want to know the truth either in case it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He couldn’t help but wonder though if that odd look he sometimes saw in Sam’s eyes was censure. If sometimes when he looked at Dean he thought ‘you caused this’, even subconsciously. Rationally there was nothing either of them could have done, no way they could have known. Still, Dean couldn’t help but occasionally believe that he’d essentially ruined his brother’s happiness for the sake of his own. That he’d selfishly tried to take Sam away from what he’d wanted because he himself couldn’t cope with having no family around to look out for. And he couldn’t deny that it had been successful.
Dean had a good memory for roads and even though he’d only been to the campus twice he knew how to drive round without passing Sam’s old dorm building. He didn’t think that that would be a good idea right now even though they had already returned to Stanford once before and Sam had seemed at ease with the whole thing. The circumstances this time were a pretty different though.
The girl in the report Bobby had read, Wendy Vandean, was a biology student and so on Sam’s directions they’d headed straight to the science block, splitting up to ask around. As far as the students they spoke to were concerned, they were journalists interested in hearing more of Wendy’s story. Dean met with the most success, one guy saying that he couldn’t believe how much attention she was getting over her crazy story and then going on to tell him when Dean asked that they would find her in her room over at Kardon Hall. Apparently she’d barely left there in days, too afraid to even go to classes. The guy said that her professor was trying to organise some kind of counselling for her so that she didn’t flunk out. He himself thought a padded cell would be more useful.
Sam said that he knew where Kardon was and so they followed him over there on foot. Upon arriving Izzy had reasoned that maybe it was a good idea if she went in alone to talk to the girl – Wendy was obviously in a state and the boys wouldn’t help improve that. Sam was too close to this to be entirely objective and Dean? Well he wasn’t exactly tactful. His bull in a china shop approach probably would hinder more than help here. He’d looked a bit affronted at that but couldn’t really argue with it.
A long twenty minutes after she’d entered the building and Dean was already going out of his mind with boredom and trying Sam’s every last shred of patience.
He drummed the rhythm of ACDC’s TNT on any available surface until Sam told him to stop it.
He took his knife out his jacket pocket, flipping it around in his hand, playing the game where if you missed you caught the blade rather than the handle until Sam told him firmly to put it away before someone saw him and called security.
He then decided that the can sitting on the fence across the street was just asking to be knocked off and so he tossed stones at it, annoyed and a bit embarrassed by his inability to get it in the first dozen throws. Eventually he gave up when he knocked off a flowerpot instead which smashed on the floor, causing Sam to glare at him.
Three notes in to trying to whistle ‘Enter Sandman’ badly, Sam finally threw up his hands in defeat and wandered off, muttering under his breath. Dean let him go, realising that he probably needed some time alone.
Another twenty later minutes Izzy thankfully reappeared, jogging across the street towards him.
“So?” he asked, getting straight down to business, grateful to finally be doing something again.
“It took some persuading,” Izzy explained, looking a bit drained, “Quite a lot of persuading actually since she’s a pretty big mess right now - but I finally convinced her that we can help her and she’s going to show us where she first encountered this thing.”
Dean’s eyebrows raised in surprise.
“So she’s not a wackjob then?”
“Excuse me?” Izzy asked steadily, blinking at him.
“You know,” Dean said, reeling off his explanation a little too easily, “A taco short of a combination plate? An olive short of a pizza? Five cans short of a six pack? A few fries short of a happy meal? Out to lunch? Basket case?”
She at frowned him, “Why are all your euphemisms related to food?”
He grinned broadly, “One track mind. Well?”
Izzy shrugged light and noncommittal.
“She believes it’s all real.”
“And do you believe what she believes is real is actually real?”
Even he frowned momentarily at that. It had definitely made more sense in his head.
“I guess we’ll find out later tonight.”
He nodded momentarily before his brain processed that and he realised what she was actually saying. His eye widened a little.
“Wait, she is not coming with us.”
It was an order not a question.
“We need her to show us precisely where it happened,” Izzy reasoned, a bit defensive, obviously having already known that he wouldn’t like the idea, “So yeah she is.”
Dean couldn’t argue with logic. Didn’t mean he had to like it though.
“Great,” he replied with a roll of his eyes, “That’s all we need. Amateur hour with the civilians. I swear if she tries to film anything or bring her paranormal geeks with her I’ll-“
Izzy held her hand up to stop him.
“Dean, I can’t tell for certain if what she said happened was real but the girl is terrified. I don’t think she’s playing this for kicks.”
He still wasn’t convinced but didn’t see that they had much choice, not if they wanted to get on with this job and get out of here. For Sam’s sake that was exactly what he intended to do as quickly as possible.
“Well let’s just hope she doesn’t screw up,” he said grouchily, folding his arms.
Izzy sighed a little, knowing that she was never going to persuade him to be happy about the situation and, seeing his current tolerance as the best outcome, she changed the subject.
They found him two streets down, sitting on a small area of grass, pulling blades up and tearing them to strips with his long fingers whilst resolutely not looking up at the window that used to be his and Jessica’s bedroom. There were new curtains hanging there now, new knickknacks on the window sill, new plants being lovingly cared for. New people living there.
Izzy wandered back to the car as Dean went up to him, leaving them to it. Silently Dean held out his hand and after a moment Sam took it, nodding gratefully as Dean pulled him to his feet.
“It’s just so weird, you know?” Sam said, looking over his brother’s shoulder to the room behind him, somehow able to do so when he had Dean there as a physical barrier between him and the building, “I didn’t even think this could happen.”
He sighed, shaking his head and running his fingers back through messy hair.
“I should have been smarter at the time, Dean. I could have stopped this back then. She doesn’t...didn’t deserve to go through this too.”
He could sympathise with Sam’s reasoning but the kid was being too hard on himself. For start there was little he could have done; the fire had consumed her completely and there was no body for them to salt and burn to try and stop this. Besides, Dean would certainly not have let him do it – Sam had been cut up enough about what had happened without having to go through that ritual too. At the time all Dean could think was that the best thing to do was to get his little brother the hell out of there and he stood by that decision even now.
“Hey man,” he reassured, finding it a bit weird that he needed to be the one who looked on the bright side for once rather than the one pointing out the grim reality, “We don’t even know it’s her okay? It’s probably not. Ghosts can latch on to anywhere that was important in their lives not just where they died and there are thousands of people who’ve come through here and died since. What are the chances that it’s her, huh?”
His words were easy and dismissive, trying to convince Sam that he was making a bigger deal out of this than necessary, worrying where he didn’t need to. Sam obviously didn’t buy it.
“But it could be.”
“Don’t worry,” Dean said resolutely, “It’s not.”
Sam knew that his certainty was a lie but he said nothing.