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Lay your weary head to rest

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Jess sees right through them, right from the start. The way they stand always this short of too close to each other. The cautious, hesitant way they look each other in the eye and the adoring and caring way one looks at the other when they think they'll get away with it. The way they're always aware of where the other is standing, even when they're not talking. Even when they're not looking. Always in sync, even after all the time they'd spent apart. Not everyone is lucky enough to find that in this world, Jess knows. So when they're saying goodbye (“Dean's got something...” Sam offers as an explanation), Jess goes ahead and hugs Dean. Dean looks startled, but hugs her back, hesitant as ever.

But Jess doesn't let him go. She pulls back a little, one of her arms still around his back, and reaches for Sam's hand, pulling him close to them.

Sam looks confused for a second. “Jess...” he starts to say, but her gaze, that knowing smile on her lips... it shuts him up, and, giving in, he wraps his arms around both Dean and Jess, and the three of them just stay like that for a really long time. She can hear Deans breath, unsteady and uncertain, alert in a way he shouldn't be able to be in a situation like that, it's just a hug, and Sam's low sighs and snorts, fond and light. She wonders what kind of life they've had if he doesn't know how to receive simple affection, but it's fine. One can always learn to be loved. She disentangles herself after a while, her hand laying comforting on Sam's shoulder, and just looks at them for a second. The boys don't really seem to notice, completely wrapped on each other.

The way it's supposed to be, Jess thinks, impossibly relieved in seeing Sam so relaxed. She allows a unnameable feeling to settle low on her stomach, warming her from deep inside. It's all good.

They don't talk about it, at first. The Hug, Jess calls it in her head. Sam seems brighter than ever, though, rolling smoothly through his days, until he ends up going back to being sullen and quiet at the end of next week or so. She calls this part The Yearning. She sees the way he sometimes just stares blankly at his cellphone or the old telephone they have on the kitchen wall. Sometimes she swears he starts typing something (a text, she bets), before shaking his head and erasing it, tossing the phone away as if it was guilty of anything. So she takes matters in her own hands. One night, she takes Sam's cellphone when he's asleep and, after getting Dean's number, calls him from the kitchen. She says: “You should call Sam. He misses you.”

Dean tries to shrug it off. He tells her:

“You don't know what you're talking about...” and she responds with something along the lines of boys being so dumb and tells him he should drop by when he has some time before hanging up. She says they (Sam and her) would like that.

The deal is: Dean makes Sam happy, and Jess just wants to see Sam happy, so it's all good, really.

The first time she sees Sam and Dean kiss, they're at a bar and Dean's visits had become more frequent. There's some trashy rock cover band and Dean's all but delighted, jumping beside them and waving his arms around and Sam smiles and smiles and smiles. Sam is between them as Jess leans across him and smacks a peck against Dean's cheek, smiling brightly at him. Sam grins at them, not missing a beat, even as Dean looks at him with raised eyebrows. Jess doesn't let go of Dean's neck as she pushes up on the tips of her toes and kisses Sam's lips lightly, carefully. Then she steps away and looks at the both of them, trying to convey everything she means: that it's okay, that she knows, that she understands, that she wants them to have that. But Dean already has his arm around Sam's back and is pulling him in, his eyes closed and his lips seeking and finding Sam's, kissing him deeply. Jess lets her hand rest comfortingly on Dean's arm where it's wrapped around Sam and allows herself to look over where the band's still playing some 80's hard rock song, filled with crying guitars and whiny sining.

She sticks around for about an hour: there's only so much Guns n' Roses she can take, seriously. She talks to some colleagues from Stanford while, the entire time, Sam and Dean are pressed together on one corner of the bar, making out. Heavily. They seem to have completely forgotten about her, mouths open against one another and tongues moving, searching, finding, delving so deep they might never come back. She doesn't actually feel bad about it, though. About the part of them forgetting she was there. Can't. Sam needs Dean, and is needed in return, and she's happy – so, so happy – to be able to let them safely find the way to each other.

She whispers in Sam's ear that she's going home after a while, and that no, it's okay, stay there, baby, enjoy the night, she's just gonna go home. And it's fine. She kisses them both goodnight and leaves. At home, she doesn't know whether to sleep in their bed or on the couch so she stays up surfing the web until they get home, hours later.

“You guys take the bed! I'll stay up a little longer...” she announces loudly when she hears them coming through the front door. Sam and Dean stand there, on the hallway, looking at her with identical expressions of wonder.

“Are you sure?” Sam asks, because he's Sam and he's nothing if not considerate. Dean shifts on his feet, clearly uncomfortable. She smiles reassuringly at them. It's never been an invitation to a threesome, she tries to convey, and Dean seems to loosen up when he sees just how serene she is about everything. It's not about sex, it's what the three of them already know, and it's kind of amazing how they don't really need to talk about it. She takes a sip of her cup of tea as they mutter, quietly:

“Goodnight, Jess.”

And it really is. A good night, she thinks, as she hears them climbing up the stairs to the bedroom. She stays up watching cat videos on youtube with her headphones on until the sun is starting to come up on the horizon, turning everything a pale shade of blue, and then she lays on the couch and sleeps. When she wakes up, the entire place smells of bacon and coffee and Sam and Dean are in the kitchen, leaning into each other sleepily and stealing kisses here and there. She sits on table and waits for her plate to be filled with deliciously greasy breakfast. The sum of their eyes on her is somewhat disconcerting, but when she looks up she finds nothing but gratitude and more of that surprised wonder. When Dean leaves, this time, he is the one to pull her into a hug before kissing Sam deeply and driving away in that noisy old car of his. She doesn't say anything about it, but Sam has marks on his neck and back. When she touches him, she tries to avoid those spots, just because.

Dean comes back one last time, after that, in the middle of the night. He sneaks in somehow, trying not to wake them up, but Sam finds him anyway. He says something about their dad being on a hunting trip and missing, and Sam just goes with him. And what could Jess do, really? There's only so much she can do, and now it's only up to them. Specially after Sam comes back and everything is fire and ashes and she's no longer around to tug them together. As the flames lick at her bones, she knows she was loved and that she'll be missed both as herself, Jessica, and as a special something between them, even if she was never really in that position, and even if that doesn't make it okay, it's fine. As she ascends into heaven, everything is love and light and compersion, and nothing hurts.