Title: After All (Dying Whispers, Desperate Murmurs Remix)
Summary: AU – Jess contemplates her life as a hunter with Sam.
Rating: PG-13 for dark themes
Pairing: Jess Moore/Sam Winchester
Warnings: Contains imagery some may find disturbing.
Original story: After All by krisomniac
Notes: Remix title comes from the song Night Surgeon from Repo! The Genetic Opera. Thank you to betas lil sis A, spunkybluegrl & soleta_nf.
Jess' newly shorn curls complimented her heart-shaped face, but the haggard look in her eyes revealed the person she'd become over the past few years. She was old, so damn old, and yet Sam was still a puppy at heart. Sitting on the edge of the motel bed, he alternated looking up at her and down at the gaping wound in his thigh, the expression on his face one of embattled pride. Jess reached down and drew the needle through Sam's skin, watching as the blood trickled down through the hole she'd made. Her hands were thinner than Sam's, making the procedure move more swiftly than if he'd done it himself.
Despite her swiftness, Sam jumped. "Ouch."
"Stop moving." Jess didn't look up when she chastised him, not anymore. It had been too long since they had a job that didn't involve one of them getting hurt; Sam should have known better than to put himself on the line like that. It was something his brother, Dean, would have done, she knew; the thought irritated her and she poked hard with the next stitch.
Sam jumped again. "Stop poking me--ow!"
This time, Jess released him, reaching for the hydrogen peroxide she'd picked up on the way back to the motel after she retrieved him from the site. If the gas station attendant thought it strange for a twenty-something, apple-cheeked blonde to buy peroxide, gauze, a six-pack of Miller Light and red licorice, he hadn't said so. Jess had resisted buying a pack of cigs, despite the alluring Marlboro Lights. She'd quit smoking at Sam's behest, but when life overwhelmed her, she wasn't above sneaking a drag or two while he slept.
Setting the needle on a clean towel, Jess patted the peroxide on Sam's leg with a washcloth. He jerked back as the chemical bubbled.
"I wasn't the one who let that dog use my femur as a chew toy," Jess said, blowing on the wound.
When Sam ran a hand through his hair, Jess had to force back a wince of her own. It was at times like this that she longed for the days before she'd learned the injustice of 'Happily Ever After.'
"I thought it was a good idea," said Sam. "It nearly went off without a hitch."
Picking the needle up again, Jess said, "You're lucky that Jones is a good shot. You should've waited until I got back."
"I didn't know how long you'd be gone," said Sam, the concern in his voice palpable. "I called, but you didn't get reception."
I did get reception, I just couldn't pick up. Jess shook off the words on the tip of her tongue and tried to concentrate on mending the wound on Sam's leg. The irony of the act wasn't lost on her; she'd been stitching him back together since Dean died.
Sam must have taken her head shake for a sign of rebuttal, because he said, "It was a good idea."
She wanted to tell him that it was a shitty idea, that he'd put himself in danger again unnecessarily and that was yet another reason she'd decided to…
Jess forced the reminder of what she'd done that afternoon away; she couldn't lose her temper right now. She had to be strong for Sam; Dean would have been strong enough for both of them, she knew. Sam had talked about Dean enough that she felt she could have conjured Dean into existence if she'd been a trickster.
If Sam had gone with Dean that night to find John Winchester, Dean wouldn't be dead now, and she and Sam wouldn't be here, running a ramshackle demon-hunting operation. If Sam had agreed with Dean that yes, being gone this long was bizarre for John Winchester, Sam might have finished school and married her, and she never would have had to learn how to shoot rock salt or draw a devil's trap.
In this case, Sam had once again thrown himself into danger. Jess wondered sometimes if he wanted to die, not because he didn't love her – he did, that much was obvious – but because he wanted to be with his brother. She'd woken up more than once to Sam's muffled sobs. At first, she'd tried to console him, wrapping her tiny body around him and holding him until the sadness passed, but days of crying had morphed into months and years. Now she just pretended she didn't hear him.
When she'd left that afternoon for the clinic a few miles outside of town, she'd made Sam promise not to go chasing after the chupacabras without her. He hadn't asked her where she was going when she left which she should have read as suspicious. Instead, preoccupied by the choice she'd made, she'd failed to notice the tell-tale signs: Sam's all-too-quick agreement to stay put, his bizarrely relaxed attitude in light of the circumstances. As a result, the first thing she noticed when she returned to the empty motel room was a note in Sam's handwriting on the table: Jess, I found them. If you get this, meet Jones and me out past the old Thompson place. I've got it all worked out. Sam.
She'd picked up the note, swearing under her breath, and slammed the door behind her as she ran from the motel back to the Impala, the car Sam had inherited from Dean all those years ago.
"That's gonna leave a scar," Jess said, finishing the stitches and tying the thread, breaking it off with her teeth.
Sam smiled at her, that knowing smile that meant he thought she was coming around after an argument. "You should see the other guy."
Jess didn't respond. She was thinking about the doctor that afternoon, the one who'd looked at her suspiciously when she'd said her name was Marilyn Monroe, but who was kind enough not to ask questions. She was thinking too about the pain she still felt in her abdomen, trying to figure out if it was psychological or physical.
"Look," said Sam, "I know I screwed up."
Sam had explained that after Jess left the motel, he'd hightailed it to Jones, the old man who lived a couple miles away. He'd told her that, though Jones was a confirmed lunatic, Jones' hunch about where the chupacabras were nesting had been dead on. There'd been something written in the notes that John Winchester had left behind that mentioned argon as a weapon useful against chupacabras, so Sam and Jones had rigged some up. Of course, Sam had been the bait in their trap: by revealing himself, he planned to draw the chupacabras out so that the argon could affect them. Unfortunately, as he told Jess, "I never suspected they would come after me so fast."
"Jess?" said Sam, but Jess was too far into her own concerns to pay any attention to him.
I need to tell you something, she thought. I need to tell you that we were going to have a baby, a beautiful sweet little thing, but I was too afraid to bring a newborn into this world of monsters and things that go bump in the night. I need to tell you that I'm not as strong as Dean, that I'm afraid I'll never be that strong, that he was strong enough to raise you in all this chaos but I don't think you and I are strong enough to raise another being in the same environment.
Instead, she put a finger to Sam's lips. He looked at her with those big puppy dog eyes, allowed her to press him back into the bed, wincing only slightly, and let her kiss him.
Later that night, Sam ran a finger along Jess' bare silhouette. Softly, he said, "Where did you go this afternoon?"
"Shh," said Jess, finally allowing the tears to form in the corners of her eyes. "Shh."
"Hey," Sam said, "come here. It's not that bad."
He pulled her close and held her to him, their bodies pressed tight together. After a moment, Jess said, "Tell me about Dean."
When Sam talked about Dean, his eyes filled with something akin to awe, and she had to work to keep the jealousy from showing on her face. After all they'd been through, Dean still held Sam's heart in his cold, dead fingers. She was tired of trying to pry them open again and again, but that was her lot in life now. She had to protect Sammy. It had always been about Sam, after all, and she didn’t think that would change any time soon. She loved him, but she wasn't sure he'd ever trust her as much as he'd trusted Dean.
She wondered if Dean knew he saved himself a heap of trouble when he left the world as abruptly as he had. She wondered, too, if Sam would ever grow up.
She doubted it.