Apparently, he cashed in all his karma points last semester when he met Jess. Not that he isn't completely, ridiculously, embarrassingly head over heels for her. It's just that Rebecca is clearly getting tired of seeing his face every time she wakes up, and Liz might stab him if he accidentally walks into the bathroom while she's in the shower one more time.
Sam hates being That Guy. The one who mooches off his girlfriend and who everyone who knows her hates. But apartments want to know where Sam has lived for the last seven years, and the problem with being a hunter is that honesty means a phone book of motels across the country. Pastor Jim's address is out because Blue Earth is on an FBI watch list and that is a can of worms that Sam would really not like to open. He tried Bobby's, but he lost a $125 application fee with that—he doesn't really know why for sure, but he thinks Bobby always answering his home line with "Singer Salvage" probably killed it for him.
So getting a place is not really an option for him, unless he and Jess move in together.
Not that that's why he wants to move in with her. Sam loves Jess in a way he's never loved anyone else but Dean, and when he pictures his future she's in it. Not having to be near his suitemates would just be a bonus.
Sam hasn't exactly asked Jess to move in with him yet, though. He's pretty sure she would say yes, even though she hasn't told her mom about him—which is understandable because if anyone knows what overprotective family is like, it's Sam Winchester. It's just that Sam has not really discovered the graceful way to ask Jess to take a big step like moving in together and then tell her everything has to be put in her name.
He wants to prove that he's worth it, though. Worth telling her mom about, and worth all the time with him that she could be studying, and worth all the trouble that he is pretty much undoubtedly causing her with her roommates.
He just hasn't quite figured out how to prove it yet.
"This is the dumbest hunt I've ever been on," John says.
"Not any dumber than the kid who tried to summon unicorns for his little sister to play with," Bobby says.
"It's a rabbit with a human dick. And antlers. And wings. And fangs. And three of us can't kill it."
"That waitress is never going to call me back," Dean complains. It was surprisingly hard to talk her into getting topless in the middle of the woods—horror movies don't know anything—and that was before she got molested by a rabbit.
"The lore said a topless woman was supposed to stun it into submission," John says for the fifth time that night.
"Yeah, after it jizzed all over her chest, maybe." Dean can't keep the disappointed tone out of his voice. Most of his favorite pornos just got ruined for him; he's allowed to be a little upset.
"Stop crying. You got it easy." John nudges the front leg of Dean's chair, making him wobble where he was balancing on the back legs. Dean flails around and drops back onto all four legs.
"I had to pull that thing off of her! No one said anything about actual human dicks being involved when I signed up for this hunt!"
"Would you rather be hunting a popobawa?" Bobby asks. Dean might not have any idea what the hell a popobawa is, but he knows Bobby's "you damn fool idgit" voice.
John cuts him off. "Hey, I still have to split a room with the kid tonight. Don't give him nightmares."
"I'm not five," Dean protests.
John just looks at Dean for a moment before he turns to Bobby and asks, "What other lore is there on this thing?"
"Wolpertiger," Dean adds.
"Wolpertinger," Bobby corrects. "And everything I have says the same thing. Half-naked women dancing in the forest should've stunned it. Once you bag it, it's supposed to be easy to kill."
"Wait," Dean says. "Was she supposed to be dancing?"
"Bare breasts and 'in the woods' were the only requirements," John says. "But that clearly doesn't work."
"I don't know what to tell you, Winchester," Bobby starts. Last names are coming out. Shit just got real. "This newfangled hunting thing threw me for a loop. I guess it's a good thing I came to you for help, since you have all these books and all this knowledge of things that go chomp in the night."
Dean is not sticking around for this. And, unlike when Sam and Dad would pick fights with each other, he can leave.
"I'm getting burgers," he says, safe in the knowledge that they can't can hear him over each other, and high-tails it out towards the nearest diner.
Dean's got a piece of meatloaf chicken surprise pie—which has neither chicken nor meatloaf in it, to Dean's somewhat thankful and genuine surprise—half devoured when Bobby's ringtone comes blaring out of Dean's pocket. He's only eighty percent sure that Bobby's not calling to tell Dean that John needs buckshot picked out of him again.
"You need to stop shooting each other," Dean says, picking up the phone.
"Hello to you, too, Miss Manners."
"It's Mrs. Manners now. I finally convinced the bastard to marry me."
"Congratulations," Bobby tells him. He doesn't sound very sincere, but Dean will forgive him. After all, he can still hear John griping in the background, and that means he doesn't need to come back and play nursemaid. "Grab a pen. You're going on a book run."
"A book run? What the fuck does that mean?"
"That means you grab a damn pen before I smack the smartass out of you."
Dean grabs a pen out of his pocket and a gas receipt out of another pocket to write on. "Okay, Bobby, shoot."
"Don't tempt me."
"Ha ha. Where am I going?"
"Texas. Gun Barrel City, to be specific."
"Does this mean I'm off the hunt?" Dean asks. He doesn't want to be kicked off the hunt, but this is a really fucking weird hunt, and Dean is still a little traumatized from accidentally touching rabbit dick.
"You should be so lucky. There's a hunter by the name of Barbara Moore over in Gun Barrel City who has a book on the wolpertinger. It's straight from Germany, so it should be a little more reliable than what I have."
"Why can't she just read it to you over the phone?"
"Because she doesn't read Russian."
"I thought it was German?"
"It's German written in Russian. You gonna keep asking questions, or are you gonna do your job?"
"I think I wanna ask some more questions," Dean says. Bobby hangs up on him, though, so Dean may never learn why the sky is blue.
Barbara Moore is smoking hot. Not just hot for a hunter or hot for someone who is probably his dad's age, but hot for a person on the planet.
Dean wants to toss a sleeping bag on the front lawn of her weirdly-normal house and refuse to leave until she starts taking him seriously. He gives her all his best lines, his most charming grin, everything. She refuses to call him anything but "Bobby Sent Me" and tells him that she's above errand boys. Even the way she dismisses him is hot.
"My daughter, who is probably as young as you, has the book with her at school," she tells him.
Dean gives her his best grin—the big, wide one that gets him phone numbers on the back of his bill—and relaxes back onto the couch, arms stretched along the back. "Well, I know a way or two we can kill time until she gets back. Can I call you 'Babs'?"
"You can try."
Bobby fucking laughs at him, the traitor. He laughs so hard and so long that the next voice Dean hears belongs to his dad. "How bad did it go?"
"I don't wanna talk about it," Dean tells him.
"That bad, huh?"
"Her kid's got the book with her at school. Apparently, she's trying to set up shop as a hotter, younger Bobby for the West Coast."
"West Coast?" Dad asks.
"Yeah," Dean coughs. "Somewhere over in California. I thought maybe, since it'll probably take a while to find someone who can read German in Russian or whatever, that I'd catch a Lakers game or something." There's no answer on the other end of the line, and a nervous laugh escapes before Dean can catch it. "You know, maybe con myself a seat next to my man Jack, live the high life for a little while. Just a couple of days. Then I'd be back with the book—probably still before you two could find someone who could read it, anyway."
There's no response on the other end of the line for what feels like a really long time.
Then, Dean hears his dad let out a long sigh. "Don't let Sammy catch you spying on him."
Dean is not a fan of surprises.
Well, that's not true. He likes surprise sex. And when the waitress who has been ignoring your flirting gives you free pie after you trip the douchebag who stiffed her on a tip.
And when the waitress points you in the direction of the hot, tall waiter who really is up for anything. But that one probably falls into the surprise sex category.
Okay, so maybe Dean is a fan of surprises. Just not when it comes to hunts. Surprises on hunts are a bad thing and usually end with trips to hospitals or trying to sew up a hole in your own ass with fishing line and a mirror. Dad still won't let him forget about that one.
Needless to say, when Dean knocks on Babs's daughter's door, he is not expecting a surprise.
And yet. The last thing he expects to see is Sammy open the door. His Sammy. Who, as of Dad's last Totally Not A Spying Trip, lives on the other side of this ridiculously fucking huge campus and never leaves except to go to classes.
"What are you doing here?" they ask each other at the same time.
"You don't live here," Dean tells Sam.
"What are you doing here?" Sam asks him again, glancing nervously behind himself.
"I asked you first," Dean says.
"I'm not doing this with you, Dean. What do you want?"
Dean lets out a nervous laugh and scratches the back of his head before he can stop himself. "Well. This is awkward." Sam's only response is a glare. "I was supposed to be somewhere else," he admits. "And I guess I may have possibly—accidentally—swapped the addresses around. Subliminally. Or some shit like that." Sam is still just glaring at Dean. "Would you fucking say something, Sammy?"
Dean wants to call him a little bitch, but he's pretty sure he can't take the face Sam would make at him if he did. Lucky for Dean, before he can even attempt to talk his way out of this, a hot chick elbows Sam out of her way. She says something that Dean cannot focus on because she's his height with blonde curls and a rack Dean would pay his poker money to see in a bikini top. Or no top.
Sam clears his throat, and Dean—who really was not staring directly at her chest—finally joins the conversation again with an intelligent, "What?"
"Put my girlfriend's clothes back on before you talk," Sam snaps.
"There is no way that is your girlfriend." When the hell did Sam learn how to talk to hot girls?
"I'm not a 'that,' thank you," Sam's insanely gorgeous girlfriend says. She looks less than impressed with Dean, and the brain that shows she has knocks her even higher up on his rating scale.
"You are galaxies and light-years out of my brother's league," Dean tells her. He should probably stop being creepy, but he can't take his eyes off the moles on her neck or the ink peeking out of the sleeve of her shirt.
And, okay, that look she just gave him was a little more "I'm going to call the police on you" than "Please take me," but, honestly, he pretty much deserved it. "It was awesome seeing you, Sammy," Dean says honestly. "And great meeting you... Sam's girlfriend."
"Jess," she says with a forced smile on her face.
There's a half a beat of awkward silence where Dean can't make himself say anything. That name and this address are too much of a coincidence. "Is that short for 'Jessica'?" Dean asks her.
Sam looks confused. "What else could it possibly be short for?"
"Is your mom a really hot brunette named Babs?" Dean continues. He doesn't even need to hear the answer, though, because the look on her face alone—hell, just her face—tells him everything he needs to know.
"Oh, God, Dean." Sam winces. "Please tell me you didn't sleep with my girlfriend's mom."
"Give me some credit," Dean scoffs, ignoring the part where he attempted to do just that. Denial is Dean's friend. He can even do things like deny the fact that when Sam said he hated hunting, he apparently meant that he only hated it when he was with his family. He clears his throat and goes straight in for the punch. "I'm here for some Kinderwolfenschnitzle book or something."
"What?" Jess asks him. She looks pretty much exactly as awkward as Sam does at the moment, with a side order of uncomfortable.
"I don't fucking know the name of it," Dean admits, irritated. "It's a German book. Written in Russian? From your mom? Any of this ringing your bells?"
Sam takes a step forward, placing himself between Dean and Jess like Dean's going to attack her or something. Because Dean's life couldn't possibly get worse. "Dean," he starts, trying to walk Dean away from the door.
"No," Dean says, yanking his arm out of Sam's grip. "Listen, as bad as you don't want me here, I wanna not be here about a million times worse." Hunting was never the problem. He should have known it. It's one thing to know Sam doesn't want anything to do with him or Dad anymore, but it's another to have it proven and shoved in his face. "But Bobby needs this book, so just give it to me, and you'll never have to see me again. I'll even FedEx it back here."
"Bobby Singer?" Jess asks, her body strung tight like a bow.
Sam whirls around. "How do you know Bobby Singer?"
"How do you know Bobby Singer?" Jess asks right back.
"Wait, wait," Sam says, rubbing his forehead. "So... all those hunts I've been finding, everything I handed over to Bobby—every time that he said he had a hunter in the area, he meant you?"
Jess has a hand over her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter. It's half nervous and half hysterical, and if Sam's brain weren't falling apart, he would be rubbing her back and trying to get her to breathe along with him. "I always figured you were some hunter who snapped and got locked up in a mental hospital."
"I might be," Sam says. It's a little muffled because his hands are currently covering his face.
"Who knows anything anymore, in this crazy world we live in?"
"Shut up, Dean!" Sam begs from behind his hands.
"You really didn't know?" Dean asks, sprawled out on the couch and looking back and forth between Sam and Jess. It's clearly forced, even for Dean, and it hurts Sam to be treated like an outsider. Like someone who doesn't know every single one of Dean's nervous tics and knuckle cracks.
Sam drops his hands and stares at his brother. "Does this look like the face of someone who knew he was trying to kill his girlfriend, Dean?"
"I don't know, man," Dean scoffs, holding his hands up in surrender. It's big and fake, like he's some cartoon character or something, and it makes something inside Sam burn red-hot with rage out of nowhere. "Your face looks pretty fucked up most of the time."
"Why are you such a jerk?" Sam asks. Sam can hear the hurt in his own voice, and he hates how obvious it feels. It's like there's this giant neon sign hanging over his head that just keeps flashing and won't turn off or come unplugged.
But that doesn't even stop Dean from grinning, big and wide and so ridiculously fake that Sam has no idea how anyone is ever fooled by it. "Because you're a total bitch."
"Uh, excuse me," Jess interrupts. Sam has no idea if she actually has something to say or can see the flashing lights over his head, but either way, he loves her even more now than he did five minutes ago.
When she manages to talk again, she still has a slightly hysterical undertone to her voice, and the rest of it is so offended that Sam knows nothing good is coming his way. "I'm sorry to break up your little tea party here, but you did not try to kill me. I get more hurt tripping over your size dinosaur shoes at midnight than I do salting some bones two hours away."
Sam laughs in spite of himself, and the tangled ball of fear and anger in his stomach loosens a little.
"You need a tampon, Sammy?" Dean asks in a voice much more deadpan than Sam thought possible.
"Okay, you know what?" Jess breaks in, putting herself in front of Sam. "My boyfriend and I need to talk, so you need to go now."
"Hey, I still need that book."
Jess's voice is icy. "Then you can come back and get it in the morning."
"You know," Dean starts. "If you ever wanna move up in the food chain—"
"Leave right now, and I won't sic PETA on your jacket."
"So," Jess starts.
"So," Sam responds.
It's the most they talk for the next day and a half.
Sam's almost asleep when he feels the bed shift and Jess moving closer to him.
They haven't been fighting, exactly. Just sort of avoiding each other. Sam makes sure to be out the door in the morning before Jess is awake, and he makes sure he's at least pretending to try to sleep when she comes out of the shower at night.
Maybe Sam's been doing more of the avoiding. But he doesn't want to fight, and he's learned that the best way to avoid that is to not give himself the opportunity to open his mouth and start one.
"You know," Jess says, running her fingers down his arm. "When we first met, I thought you were you."
"What?" Sam asks. He isn't that tired, but his brain keeps giving him an error message when he tries to process her sentence.
"Winchester. I've heard of you guys. When we first met, you said it was like the gun and you weren't related. So I thought you were either John Winchester's kid or some other hunter who shared a last name but wasn't one of those Winchesters."
"Oh," Sam says. He doesn't really know what to say to that. There aren't a ton of hunters out there, really. But it's still strange to realize people he doesn't know have heard of him. "I meant the actual gun makers. You know, like the Winchester Mystery House?"
Jess smiles at him, and he's missed that smile over the last two days. "Yeah, I kind of figured that out eventually."
Sam can't help it; he smiles back. "I kind of wondered about some things that make more sense now."
"Yeah?" Jess asks, propping herself up on her elbow and staring down at Sam. "Like what?"
"Like how you never freaked out over any of my scars, for one."
"You don't have many really bad ones."
"Yeah," Sam says. "But I have a lot of small ones. That can look worse than a couple of big scars."
"The car accident when you were little; that totally didn't happen, did it?"
"Not really," he admits.
Jess smiles and leans down, kissing him lightly. "It's a pretty good cover," she tells him.
"Lots of practice."
Jess slides her hand into his and squeezes it once, just briefly. "Were you ever gonna tell me?"
"Were you?" Sam asks.
Jess is silent for a moment, and Sam just watches her face as she thinks. "At some point, yeah," she says. "I mean, I'd like to think I would've told you before you had to find out."
"But it doesn't really work like that," Sam smiles wryly. He's never told anyone on purpose—not anyone who wasn't in immediate danger, anyway. "I don't think I would have ever said anything."
"You really don't like hunting at all, do you?" Jess asks him, running a thumb along the back of his hand.
"I was always so scared growing up, you know?" Sam says, sliding his hand into hers. "I was afraid that Dad would never come back or that something would get us while he was gone or while we were at school. And then I started getting brought on the hunts, and I was terrified that I wasn't fast enough or smart enough, or that I was too loud or would do something and get Dean or Dad killed, or both of them. I haven't really felt safe since I was, like, eight."
"But you saved people, Sam," she tells him, squeezing his hand again. "There are so many people out there who are alive today because of people like us—because of your family."
"Why do we have to be the ones to save them, though?"
"Because they don't know any better," Jess tells him. "Liz, Becca, Zach, Brady—people like them don't know to be afraid of the dark or stray animals. They think it's all just stories to scare kids. We know better, so it's up to us to protect them."
Sam knows she's right. He does. It's the same thing Dad used to bark at him and the same thing Dean used to whisper to him in the backseat when they were skipping town in the middle of the night yet again. It doesn't make it any easier, though, and he knows he isn't as good as any of them because he'd rather be able to pretend he doesn't know about the girl in his art history class with the butterfly tattoo behind her ear who got bitten by her ex, who Sam knows is now a dead werewolf.
He'd rather pretend he doesn't know that Jess will probably have to kill her soon.
"Tell me something about you," he says instead.
"I don't know. Something I don't already know."
"Um, I..." Jess trails off. She gets this little crinkle in her forehead that Sam loves, and her laugh is tinged with self-consciousness. "I can't think of anything! You know I'm bad at this; it's why no one plays truth or dare with me!"
"No." Sam laughs. "No one plays truth or dare with you because you always dare people to get naked."
"That's the point of the game, Sam. You're supposed to get everyone naked and make out with each other during truth or dare. That's what the internet says, Sam, and the internet wouldn't lie to me."
"Your sleepovers must have been pretty special when you were a kid," he jokes.
"I'll have you know that my sleepovers were legendary," she tells him proudly. "They were legendary at school. Mom would order pizzas, and we'd all get to make sundaes, and we would pull the cushions off the couch and jump on them until Mom made us stop."
Sam can't fathom that. "Your mom let you have people over?"
"Well, yeah," Jess says like it's the most obvious thing on the planet. "She never let me sleep over at other people's houses, so we just had them all at my house. All my friends' parents loved her because any time anyone wanted to have a slumber party for their birthday or anything, she would always volunteer our house. It was protected, you know? Runes and wards and salt and everything."
Dad never would have allowed anything even sort of like that. "You lived in the same house for a while?" Sam asks.
"Since I was a baby, yeah."
"How does—I thought your mom hunted?"
"Well, yeah, but Texas is pretty big. There are a lot of hunts around there. And she'd travel sometimes, too. I always liked that the most because I thought it was so cool to be in a hotel and get to swim in a pool that was indoors and all that."
"That is completely foreign to me," he admits. They've never stayed anywhere with an indoor pool, and usually the only good thing about a motel over a house or an apartment was that motels have electricity. "I don't think I've ever lived in one place longer than maybe five or six months? And usually less than that."
"Really?" Jess asks him.
"Well," she tells him, fitting herself against his side. "You've been here for almost three years. So now you have a new record."
Sam just hums in response. They didn't really settle anything, and their conversation is far from over, but Jess seems ready to put it to bed for the night, so to speak.
Sleep does not come easy for Sam.
Dean just wants to sleep. He isn't getting too old for this—even though he guesses twenty years is a long time in any line of work—but it's been sixty-some odd hours since he's slept because this death trap of an abandoned house has a tag team of ghosts killing wandering morons around the clock. Dean barely has time to eat while researching, much less sleep. Fifteen and twenty minutes here and there are enough to keep him alive, but not enough to keep him from hating everything about the world right now.
And it's all Sam's fault, too. If that stupid fucker weren't off in the land of alligator shirts and shitty foreign cars, Dean wouldn't have to be doing all this shit on his own. Sam's better at researching, anyway. Dean's not bad at it, but he hates it, so it takes fucking forever because he keeps getting bored. Sam's always had a creepy hard-on for this kind of thing, so it takes him twenty minutes to find out what Dean usually spends three hours on.
And, you know, doing all this shit with a cracked rib or three sure isn't helping. But, again, that's all Sam's fault. If Sam were there with him, Dean wouldn't have to worry about watching his own back or getting blindsided by the ghosts pulling a shift change early and throwing a fucking fireplace at him.
It's been two fucking years since he's hunted with Sam, but he's exhausted and only barely functioning and he can't think, and that's why, when two dozen bricks get thrown at him, Dean turns his back on them and the ghost throwing them to try and protect someone who is on the other side of the country.
Jess really likes being able to talk to Sam about hunts.
She never really...
She's never had anything like that before. It's different than hunting with Mom and coming back and joking about it. When Jess gets thrown hard enough for her ribs to hurt, she doesn't have to lie about it now.
She can come back to the apartment and—assuming Sam's still there, which isn't really a big leap lately—and take a shower and lie in bed with Sam while he gives her a back massage.
Jess can complain about how fucking much she hates libraries some days, and that she dreads any time she has to dig a grave because her hamstrings are always shot for days after, no matter how much she stretches first.
It's nice. It's really, really nice.
Hunting has always been a big part of her life, but she never thought that it had anything to do with her relationships. But now that Sam knows? Jess realizes just how much she was holding back before and just how much more amazing it is without secrets between them.
Not to mention, it's incredibly useful to have someone who can work a needle and thread when you've just kicked your way through a windshield and brought half of it back in your foot.
Not that Jess has done that.
But, seriously, Sam is fucking amazing with a needle. The stitches are small, close together, and so straight that she'd swear he was pre-med if she didn't know any better. She tells him as much, and his response is a smile so obviously fake that it hurts right in the pit of her stomach.
"Practice makes perfect, right? I've got nearly ten years of pretty regular practice stitching up holes and gashes and ripped stitches," he tells her, cleaning around the neat row in her foot.
"Ten years?" Jess asks him, swallowing back the images of an eight-year-old Sam sliding a needle through someone's skin.
"Dean can't really keep a steady hand when he's freaking out. And he squirms. A lot, really. He's never really been good with sitting still."
Sam's still looking at her foot, giving his work a fifth-over that it doesn't really need. She wants few things more right now than to reach over and hug him, but he's still got a needle in his hand, and his body language is screaming "don't touch me."
Jess wiggles her toes at him—and, ow, that was a bad idea because it really does kind of hurt. It might be worth the pain, though, because Sam snorts out a little laugh, and when he finally looks up at her, she can see a hint of those dimples she loves so much.
Sam just does not get his dreams anymore.
It's Dean's fault. It must be. All it took was him showing up, and Sam's dreams went from the standard weirdness—Brady on a bed with rope tied around his wrists and early 90s rap music playing from some part of Sam's brain that apparently paid more attention to random radios than he thought—to Jess and Dean running down a beach from what may or may not have been giant crabs.
With machetes. While chasing another giant crab.
Sam doesn't need one of those stupid dream interpretation books Zach keeps trying to force him to borrow to know that the dream means he's worried about Jess and Dean hunting. Common sense tells him that. Logic tells him that. The way he almost pisses the bed when his phone rings at two in the morning and he's sure it's someone calling him to ID Dean or Jess's body at the morgue tells him that.
But the giant two-story crabs make no sense.
Sam's brain cannot fucking deal with this.
He's always had a vivid imagination and has never really been somebody who could be confused for an optimist—too concerned with making sure he was always prepared for anything.
Okay, so he's a fucking weirdo creep who follows his girlfriend in case she gets hurt or needs backup or saving. He gets it. He knows he's a stalker and has control issues.
And he's going to talk to Jess about it. Honestly.
Becca just needs to actually leave the fucking apartment so he can be alone with Jess.
Except that when Becca finally leaves, Liz is home.
Liz doesn't hate Sam. She doesn't. But she probably would start plotting his doom if he told her to get the fuck out like he wants to.
Not that it's personal or anything. But Sam had to stitch up his girlfriend's shin the other night, and that is a conversation that he wants to have with his girlfriend. A conversation he can't have unless they're alone.
Well. Alone and in the living room. Because Jess is not exactly a fan of clothing, so when they're alone and in her room, Sam has an incredibly hot, naked girlfriend in front of him. Intelligent conversations in general are not all that frequent, and ones that might make Jess angry enough to put clothes back on and leave don't make it anywhere near the conscious part of Sam's mind.
Becca is gone at her boyfriend's.
Liz and her girlfriend are visiting Liz's cousins for the weekend down near Berkeley.
And then Zach shows up, and Sam can't really turn him away because his girlfriend just dumped him.
Sam can take a hint. He knows a sign when he sees one, and he just stops trying to force the talk because that is clearly not working for him.
Same dream, different... something.
It's a forest instead of a beach. And instead of giant crabs, it's something he can't see that's whispering things, and Dean and Jess are—
It's him being afraid of them hunting again.
...And maybe a little bit of wish fulfillment.
It's understandable, though. He loves Jess so much that it makes him physically ill to think about her getting hurt. He thinks of her when he goes to sleep, and when he wakes up, and when he's buying lunch and trying to decide between the carne asada fries she craves at least once a week and the deep fried chimichanga Dean would probably jerk off to in the dining hall.
And Sam cannot actually contemplate his existence without Dean. It terrifies him to his very core to think about being in a world where Dean isn't.
And Dean and Jess are both just so utterly mind-numbingly really, really, ridiculously good looking that it makes sense that he would dream about them together. It's not like it's the first time he's ever dreamed about it, either. Just the first time it was so detailed.
He could see the scrape of Jess's teeth over Dean's neck and the way Dean's ridiculously manicured nails dug into the back of Jess's jeans as he hitched her legs up around his waist. Shimmery flecks of gold-tinged bark flaked off into Jess's hair as she rolled her head, back arching off the tree.
It's an unbearably hot dream, and Sam can't even make himself feel too guilty about the awesome morning sex it causes, even though it almost made them both late for class.
And then fate—or Jess's stomach—smiles upon Sam, and Jess gets a taste for something sweet and demands they go "forage for food." She's always been a lot like Dean when it comes to spontaneity. And food.
"We need to talk about this," Sam tells her after their waitress brings out the last of their food. IHOP might not really be the best place for this discussion, but Liz and Becca seem to have practically made it a point to never be gone at the same time anymore, and he can't hold it in any longer.
"There's nothing to talk about, Sam," Jess tells him, cutting up her chocolate chip pancake with her fork.
"Yeah, there really is." Sam isn't eating. He hates breakfast for dinner, and pancakes still make him a little nauseous sometimes. There's a bowl of baked potato soup mocking him next to a pile of over-sweet food that he ordered because he could.
"I hunt; you don't." Jess drowns a bite of chocolate chip pancake in her strawberry syrup and leaves the bottom half stuck to her plate when she scoops it up. "I don't understand why this is such a big deal to you."
"It's not just that I don't hunt, Jess," Sam tells her. "I left my family because of this. I can't live like that." It's the most honest he's ever been with her.
"I'm not asking you to start hunting again." She chops off a chunk of sausage and scrapes up the pancake bit with it, all the while never taking her eyes off the plate. Dean never had to look at his food to massacre it in disgustingly creative ways.
Sam is aware that he's being pedantic. Or stupid. Probably more on the stupid side.
"I can't let you hunt alone," Sam says. He isn't begging, but he's close to it.
Her voice, when she speaks, could probably stop Sam's dad in his tracks. "Let me?"
"Not like that," he says in a rush. "It's not because you're a girl—woman—"
"Don't," Jess says. "Don't do that. This is not a conversation about how you feel guilty because you have a dick. This is about how you feel guilty for every paper-cut I've ever had because you could have prevented it if only you'd been there to turn the pages for me."
"I just—I can't—" Sam's floundering. He doesn't want to be his dad, doesn't want it to be his way or the highway, but he left the only things in his life that matter because of this. "I can't just sit there and wonder if you're gonna come back or if you're bleeding to death somewhere and I don't know. I spent my whole life terrified that I was suddenly gonna be an orphan or an only child or both. I can't stand the thought of you out there alone with nobody watching your back."
"I don't need anyone to watch my back," she tells him. She's abandoned her food to glare at him.
"Everybody needs someone to watch their back, Jess," he says. "Even my dad doesn't hunt alone unless he has to."
"If you start hunting again because of me, we aren't going to last," Jess says. "You'll resent me for the rest of your life, and I can't... I can't do that."
Sam wants to say that he won't resent her, that he'll love her forever. But he knows that loving someone doesn't mean you like them or that you can bear to be in the same room with them for more than a few minutes at a time.
"I love you," he tells her.
"I love you, too," she says. "But I can't give up hunting. I don't want to. I like helping people, and the nearest hunter is my mom's friend's friend, and he's four hours north of us. I can't just let people die because you think I can't take care of myself."
"That's not it," he tells her, begging her to understand. He doesn't want to talk about it. This is his worst fear. Worse than clowns or curses or anything else, and just trying to put it into words feels like he's jinxing everyone he knows. "You could be the perfect hunter, Jess, but if you don't have someone watching your back, all it takes is a second werewolf you weren't expecting or a bitchy ghost, and you don't get to come home again."
"What do you want?" Jess asks. She's angry. Her eyes are welling up, and Sam knows she's not that kind of emotional. She doesn't cry when she's sad, only when she's so angry that she can hardly think straight. "Do you want to hire a babysitter to watch me on hunts?"
"There has to be some kind of middle-ground, right? I mean, this can't be it." Sam doesn't want it to be. He won't let it.
"This is what I do, Sam," Jess pleads. "You're asking me to give this up for you."
"I'm not," he says. He would love if she gave up hunting, he really would, but he's not trying to give her an ultimatum. He's not his dad. "I wouldn't do that to you. I just... there's a way to fix this. There has to be. We just, we need to find it."
"I don't need a babysitter," she tells him, wiping the tears away.
"A partner isn't a babysitter," he says.
"I don't need a partner, either."
"Everyone needs a partner, Jess," he insists. "I bet even your mom didn't hunt alone all the time."
Jess is still mad, but after a moment, she relents. "I'll think about it, okay?"
It's not ideal, but he'll settle for it for now.
"It's three o'clock in the morning, Sam," Dean growls into his phone when he picks it up.
"It's two in the afternoon," Sam tells him. "And you sound like you're drunk. Are you drunk this early already?"
"You use too many words," Dean grumbles. Fucking Vegas. Their casinos always fuck with his internal clock. "Wait. Sam? Why are you calling?" Not that Dean isn't happy to hear from his brother, but it isn't exactly something he expected any time soon.
"I was wondering if you wanted to—okay, hear me out," Sam fumbles. "Jess doesn't want to stop hunting, right?"
"That's a shocker," Dean says, pushing himself out of bed and trying to find his underwear. Sam never did understand people who liked hunting.
"Shut up. She wants to keep hunting but, like. Okay, she's not completely inept or anything but, she has to look at her food when she eats it, Dean."
Dean waits for more, but apparently, that makes total fucking sense to Sam. "What?"
"She has to look at her food!" Sam is just on the sane side of yelling right now, and Dean's pretty worried that his little brother has finally snapped like that kid in School Ties. "You never had to look at your food to get it in your mouth! Dad didn't! And she trips over my shoes every night, and she can't write down one thing and talk about another without getting confused!"
"Wait," Dean says, making his way into the bathroom. "Do you actually think your Stanford-educated girlfriend can't find her plate with a fork unless she looks at it?"
"It's not funny, Dean!"
"Dude," Dean says, switching ears so he can piss.
"If she has to look directly at something to see it then she can't be hunting! And she has no coordination! And she can't multitask!"
"Stop yelling, you fucking weirdo," Dean gripes, shaking himself and flushing the toilet. "You're freaking out over nothing."
"She has no peripheral vision! And bad hand-eye coordination!" Sam pauses for a moment and then asks, "Did you wash your hands?"
Dean rolls his eyes and fishes a new pair of underwear out of his duffle. "I thought we were talking about how your girlfriend can't feed herself without taking an eye out."
"Wash your hands, Dean!"
"You're fucking nasty, Dean," Sam tells him. "Wash your hands after you touch your dick."
Dean makes faces at Sam, even though Sam can't see them. It makes him feel better. "You know, you don't have to keep saying my name, Sam. I know who you're talking to."
"That's because no one else is as disgusting as you," Sam says.
Dean washes his hands because what the fuck ever. "Kiddo, I know you're on your period and all, but you really need to dial the drama queen down a few hundred notches."
Sam's silent for a moment before he responds. "That was even more offensive than usual. I'm not even entirely sure where to start, actually."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Dean says. "Do me a favor, okay, Sammy? Try and yank your head out of your ass long enough to realize that if Jess were as legitimately brain damaged as you think she is, she wouldn't've made it this far in hunting."
"I didn't say she had brain damage, Dean," Sam says.
"You're saying that she can't see shit if she isn't looking right at it and doesn't have enough coordination to feed herself unless she's focusing really hard on it," Dean recaps. "Those are things that happen when you have some kind of brain damage." Dean knows this shit. Sam's had enough scarily hard hits to the head to make Dean actually do research on that kind of thing.
"You're putting words in my mouth," Sam says.
"You always do this, dude. Whenever you don't have something real to worry about, you go fucking apeshit over nothing."
"I do not!"
"Remember when you were convinced your prom date was a succubus?"
"You mean Rachel Nave," Sam started. "My prom date that you slept with on prom night."
Oh, right. "You broke up with her."
"You slept with her!" Sam yelled.
"After you broke up with her!"
"You slept with my prom date on prom night."
"You dumped her at the prom, Sammy. I thought you were giving me a present."
"You're disgusting," Sam tells him. The prude.
"You have sex with someone you think can't be trusted to feed herself."
"What is wrong with you?" Sam asks him.
"I've got a moron for a little brother, and he's calling me in the middle of the night—"
"—to tell me his girlfriend looks at her food and some ghost is gonna take her out because of it."
Dean hangs up, gives up on trying to figure out how to get clothes on, and crawls back under the covers with Sam's voice still running through his head.
"Hi, Mom," Jess says into her phone, pouring milk over her cereal. It's Raisin Bran, which she normally hates, but Becka made Rice Krispies Treats with the Coco Pebbles, and then she and Sam made ones that weren't burnt to the pan with the Fruity Pebbles.
"Hi, baby," her mom says, crunching on her own cereal on the other side of the line.
"It's the only good cereal there is."
"It makes my mouth all filmy," Jess says. It's an old argument they have, older even than their Saturday Morning Cereal Calls.
"That's your body rejecting good taste and buckets of sugar." There's a slurping on the other end of the line because her mom can't actually stand cereal if the milk touches it anywhere but inside her mouth. "How was your week, baby?"
Jess grunts into the phone.
"That good, huh?"
"I think I want to be a lesbian."
"Liz finally kill your tail?"
"Don't call him that."
"I have not even met the boy." Never let it be said that Jess's mother ever passed up the chance for a good stab of guilt. "And I know he follows you worse than a shadow."
"You make him sound like some pathetic loser," Jess says. It's not like he's clingy. They spend plenty of time apart.
"Honey," her mom says, in that overly condescending voice she loves to use when she thinks Jess is being dumb on purpose. "I'm not saying that he's pathetic. Or a loser. But if you asked him to carry your children, he would find a way to get himself pregnant."
"I'm eating!" That is an image Jess could have lived without.
"Did you and he have a fight?"
Before she can stop herself, Jess says, "You know his name."
"You know I'm so bad with names when I don't have faces to put to them," her mom says. Jess can't even fault her for it because she walked right into that.
"Don't waste time, honey. Tell me if I have to buy a ticket out there to break his legs for you."
"You're not going to break Sam's legs."
"But I would if he were mean to you," she says.
Jess rolls her eyes at her bowl of cereal and tries to figure out where to start. "Sam is worried about me hunting."
"You told him?"
Right. Jess decided not to tell her mom about that last week. "Not really," she says. "And thank you for the heads up about the hunter coming to get a book."
"That kid outed you? I'll rip him limb from limb!"
"If you could not scream in my ear, that would be great," Jess says. "He didn't mean to do it. It was…" Jess lets herself trail off. Telling her mom that she was dating another hunter—or ex-hunter, as the case may be—is not the best idea. She doesn't have anything against hunters, of course, but at one point, her mom knew Sam's last name, and nothing good would come down that road.
"It was what?"
"It was a thing. He didn't mean to. The guy just thought Sam already knew."
"And Sam's taking it bad?"
"Well, he's not taking it particularly well."
"On a scale of one to ten?" Jess's mom asks.
"Ten being, what? Locking me in an insane asylum for my own good?"
"Or trying to shoot you."
"I don't know," Jess says. "Mahogany."
"Mahogany," Jess repeats. The scale for civilians finding out isn't really the same scale you use when your ex-hunter boyfriend finds out you hunt. That scale possibly doesn't even exist, as ex-hunters tend to become that way through death.
"I don't know what that means, baby."
"It means I don't know how to convince him that he doesn't have to worry about me going on a hunt and not coming back."
"You can't tell him that."
"I didn't—" Jess's mother cuts her off before she can get any further.
"No," she says, voice firm. "You are a hunter. You are an amazing hunter. You are the very best hunter that I could turn you into. But Sam has to make peace with the fact that—" she breaks off. Jess can hear her sniffing on the other end of the line, and she doesn't want to talk about this anymore. She doesn't want to make her mom cry. "You know why I make you call me before and after every hunt."
Jess nods her head, and it takes a moment for her to be able to respond. "Yes," she says with a steady voice.
"I don't breathe in the morning until you text me and ask me if I slept well, and I don't go to sleep until you've texted me goodnight. What you and I hunt are dangerous things. Sam has every right to be worried about you, and if he weren't, you wouldn't be dating him."
"I want to keep dating him, though, Mom," Jess says. "But I don't know how to do that if he can't stop worrying about me."
"Talk to him about it."
"I have," Jess says.
"No, you haven't. Because you are my daughter, and you are stubborn and pigheaded, and you have all the common sense of a Dalmatian when you think someone's insulted you."
"Dalmatians are inbred."
"Well, there's a reason I never told you who your daddy was."