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amypond45

Let’s Do Some Living After We Die - Part One

There's a ghost in the bunker.

Of course there is. Dozens of Men of Letters and the creatures they captured and experimented on died here. It's bound to be full of ghosts, tied here to tiny bits of their living selves that didn't get disposed of properly. It's amazing Sam hasn't noticed them before.

This ghost is different.

It's not like the ghost of Kevin. It doesn't throw coffee pots and leave cold spots where Sam might accidentally walk through them on his way to the bathroom. It doesn't suddenly appear ahead of him in the corridor as he's leaving his room in the morning, yawning and desperate for coffee. It doesn't moan and cry in the night and wake him up. And it definitely doesn't try to attack him in his bed with an angry scream and the wild swipe of a sharp blade.

It's not a vengeful spirit.

No, this is something different. It's a ghost that doesn't know it's a ghost, Sam's pretty sure about that. He catches glimpses of it sometimes, sitting at a desk in the library, pouring over old manuscripts under a single desk lamp. Sometimes he sees it out of the corner of his eye when he passes a door in the corridor to a room no one ever enters. The door is wide open and it's in there, sitting at the desk studying. Other times he thinks he can hear gunshots from the direction of the firing range. It's the ghost, practicing its shot, Sam thinks before he catches himself, wonders how he can be so unconcerned.

He should probably do some research, find out who used to live in that room, maybe figure out a way to put the spirit to rest. Sam knows about ghosts. He knows how spirits get caught in the veil and slowly go insane. It's not something he would wish on his worst enemies.

He should tell Dean about it.

But the fact is, Dean’s been happy lately. He putters around the kitchen, practicing his baking skills, presenting some truly amazing and delicious dinners for Sam’s culinary enjoyment. He putters around the garage, working on the old cars and motorcycles there, taking them out for occasional spins. Sometimes Sam goes with him and they just drive, for hours, enjoying the scenery and the freedom of the open road.

Sometimes they hunt. Usually, it’s an easy ghost thing, nothing too physically demanding. They go, get the job done in a day and a night, then head home again. The combination of freedom and being together always makes Dean happy. He glances over at Sam during those moments and Sam just knows he’s happier than he’s ever been. Sam can tell.

So Sam decides they’ll just live with the ghost. He doesn’t want to worry Dean with his visions or sixth-sense or whatever it is. Dean’s always been a little spooked by Sam’s psychic abilities, so Sam keeps them mostly hidden, except when they become impossible to ignore or when they interfere with a case. Sam doesn’t want to disturb his brother any more than he has to. And this is nothing like the Lucifer situation, back when Lucifer was sending Sam visions from inside the cracked Cage after they set the Darkness free. Sam would never tell Dean this, but he’s still certain that some of those visions were not from Lucifer.

Dean doesn’t notice the ghost, so their lives go on mostly normally. They’re semi-retired now, still on the look-out for cases but mostly consulting for other hunters. Dean’s knee keeps bothering him off and on, and Sam’s shoulder never completely healed after the demon thing, so they’re not as active as they once were. Sam’s grateful for that. He likes spending quiet evenings at home, reading or watching reruns of old sitcoms or Abbott and Costello movies with Dean. They catch up on Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and drink beer, sitting on Sam’s bed in front of the TV.

It’s a good life, better than Sam expected when they first moved into the bunker. He doesn’t want to change a thing.

**//**//**


Sometimes the bunker’s too quiet.

There are evenings when Dean’s off making a beer run and Sam’s alone in the library, working on their latest case, when Sam’s startled by a sudden awareness of silence. He lifts his head, expecting to hear something – anything – but there’s nothing to hear. He frowns for a moment, considering the possibility that the bunker's ventilation system is malfunctioning, or maybe the lighting system has suddenly ceased its former low-level hum.

But everything seems to be running smoothly. The lights in the library aren’t flickering, he’s still breathing normally, and when he concentrates very hard Sam can feel the gentle underlying vibration that tells him the bunker's systems are fine.

Nothing to worry about. Maybe the ghost took the night off.

Sam ignores the little tingle that goes up his spine. Something’s not quite right, but Sam can’t put his finger on what it is. His mind’s playing tricks on him again. He’s never been able to trust his perceptions one hundred percent. The unnatural silence isn’t a new thing. It’s just one more way Sam’s brain malfunctions sometimes.

It just another way Sam’s defective.

He can choose whether to let it bother him. He knows that. He’s spent years studying psychology, learning ways to cope with his PTSD, his demon-blood addiction, his psychic abilities. Sam knows better than to dwell too much. The bad memories are like tulpas. If he thinks about them too much, they get worse. They manifest in dreams, or as shadows on the edges of his vision, just out of sight. He could probably bring them into corporal existence without too much effort, if he’s not careful.

After everything Sam’s been through, he knows better than to give more than fleeting attention to the hell inside his own mind.

That way madness lies.

He turns back to his book without considering too deeply whatever caught his attention in the too-quiet bunker. Tonight, he’ll take a hint from his brother and push it down. Bury it deep. Denial is a river in Egypt, and Sam and Dean know it well, sail on it regularly.

Some things are better ignored.

**//**//**


“We should go to the beach,” Dean announces one morning while they’re eating their breakfast together in the kitchen. Dean’s made the most amazing omelette, full of broccoli and tomatoes for Sam, sausage and cheese for himself, peppers and onions in both. Sam’s in heaven. “Dig our toes in the sand. We’ve never done that.”

“You want to drive to the ocean?” Sam looks up from his book.

“The Oregon Coast is supposed to be fantastic,” Dean shrugs. “We’ve never been there.”

“Maybe that’s because there’s never been any reason to go,” Sam suggests.

“Who needs a reason?” Dean says. “We could use a vacation. Sand between our toes, Sammy. Sand between our toes!”

“Uh, okay,” Sam says, hesitant. Dean’s grinning as he gulps his coffee. He seems ridiculously happy, and if Sam didn’t know better he’d think his brother was high.

“Good.” Dean nods. “We’ll head out first thing in the morning.”

**//**//**


They spend the morning cleaning. It’s Sam’s turn to dust and sweep. Dean’s on kitchen and laundry duty as usual.

Sam tends the garden after his cleaning duties are over. He loves gardening. It’s soothing, working the soil with his hands and a small spade, turning it over and breathing in the cool, damp scent of fresh earth. He likes watching the seedlings take root, grow strong and steady until they begin to look like something. Sam loves how slowly things grow, how careful he has to be to give them the right amount of light and water. He uses herbs as natural pesticides; he pinches off the flowers when they appear so that the plants won’t go to seed before they’ve grown enough to produce good-sized vegetables.

Dean laughs at him, accuses him of making more rabbit food than either of them can possibly eat, but Sam knows he’s proud of him, too. Dean makes warm, spicy loaves with the zucchini, pasta sauce with the tomatoes, cake with the carrots. He makes soup with the squash and pie with the pumpkins, and Sam’s in heaven. He never expected to enjoy watching living things flourish and grow; he takes immense pleasure in nurturing life and helping it fulfill its potential. It’s something he never expected to be able to do, something he never felt his hands would be capable of, after all the killing he’s done.

It’s deeply satisfying for Sam in a way that he tries not to think about too deeply because he understands enough about therapy and spiritual healing to know what’s going on. It’s similar to the satisfaction Dean takes from his cooking, although Sam also understands that Dean’s cooking has more to do with feeding Sam than healing himself, at least directly. For Dean, true fulfillment comes from caring and providing for others.

Sam spends part of the morning sorting artifacts in the bunker’s collection. He explores each room on the south side of the complex, cataloging its contents, making sure he knows everything about the bunker’s contents because they have time to do that now. It’ll be part of their legacy someday.

He finds rooms filled with discarded objects, covered in dust, and he spends hours trying to understand their purpose. Some are magical, some are ridiculously mundane. Sam catalogues them all, first with a little notebook and pencil, later with a spreadsheet on his laptop. Someday, someone will care about the contents of the bunker. Someone will need to know what’s here.

After lunch Sam goes for a run while Dean heads out to pick up supplies. Sam’s in the shower when he feels Dean slide up behind him, plastering himself to Sam’s back. He places wet kisses along the back of Sam’s shoulder-blades, rubs his thumbs over Sam’s nipples. Sam sighs and leans back into his brother’s body, reveling in the feel of his calloused hands on Sam’s chest and belly. Dean’s hard cock presses against Sam’s thigh and Sam spreads his legs, stooping just enough to let Dean’s cock slide between them.

“You want me to fuck you, little brother?” Dean rumbles against the back of Sam’s neck.

“Yeah,” Sam breathes as Dean’s dick slides into his butt-crack. He leans forward with his arms pressed against the tile wall of the shower, shoving his ass out toward Dean as he spreads his legs. The warm water cascades over them as Dean lathers his fingers with lotion, then carefully slides one finger down between Sam’s butt-cheeks till he finds his hole. Sam shivers as Dean circles the rim. He leans his forehead against his arm so he can get a hand on himself as Dean pushes his finger inside.

“Oh sweetheart,” Dean croons. “You’re so hot inside. So tight.”

He slides his hand up Sam’s back, soothing and murmuring encouragement as he works him open, exploring gently until he finds that place inside Sam that sends tingling shocks of pleasure up his spine.

“That’s it, Sammy,” Dean murmurs approvingly as Sam gasps and writhes. “That’s it, little brother. So good for me. Such a good boy.”

Sam strokes himself and shudders, spreading his legs wider as Dean shoves three fingers into him, scissoring as he rubs Sam’s back.

“I’m ready,” Sam gasps, shoving his ass back against Dean’s hand. “I’m ready, Dean. Come on!”

Dean steps back so he can slick up his cock with the lotion, and Sam practically whimpers at the loss. When Dean’s hand returns to his skin, Sam sticks his ass out and strokes his cock furiously in anticipation of the burn he knows is coming. Dean’s cock nudges between Sam’s ass-cheeks and Sam moans.

“Yeah, Dean, that’s it,” he gasps. “Come on!”

“Hold your horses there, Sammy,” Dean chuckles softly. “Don’t be so greedy.”

Dean pushes past Sam’s rim with one short thrust, punching the air out of Sam’s lungs in a loud grunt. Dean stops immediately, letting Sam adjust as he slides his hand over Sam’s lower back, messaging gently.

“Okay,” Sam gasps, pulling air back into his lungs. “Okay. It’s okay.”

“You sure?” Dean’s hands caress the globes of Sam’s ass.

Instead of answering, Sam pushes back, impaling himself on Dean’s cock in one long thrust.

“Fuck!”

Dean’s buried to the hilt, waiting for Sam to adjust before he starts to move. Sam huffs and pants, grateful for the cooling shower water on his overheated skin. He breathes through the burn, so full he imagines his belly must be bulging.

As if he’s reading Sam’s mind, Dean’s hand slips around to Sam’s front, caressing his chest and stomach before taking Sam’s dick in his hand. Dean’s hand is still slippery with lotion, and as he begins to move he slowly jacks Sam’s dick at the same time, thrusting carefully.

“This good? This okay, Sammy?”

“Y – yeah,” Sam stutters. His legs are trembling. “It’s good. It’s good, Dean. Don’t stop.”

Dean thrusts more forcefully and Sam breathes through the burn, the fullness, the vague cramping that makes him pant and sweat. When Dean hits his prostate, Sam cries out, grabbing onto Dean’s hand where it’s stroking his dick, squeezing.

“Fuck! Gonna come!”

“It’s okay, Sammy,” Dean says. “Go ahead and come for me, little brother.”

“Fuck!” Sam seizes up as Dean hits his prostate again, whiting out with the force of his orgasm as he comes all over Dean’s hand.

“That’s it, Sammy,” Dean murmurs. “So beautiful like this. So good for me.”

Sam all but collapses against the shower wall as Dean pounds into him, chasing his own orgasm. Sam can feel it when Dean comes, stiff and silent as his dick shoots inside Sam. He wraps his arms around Sam’s chest as he comes down, thrusting shallowly two or three more times as he presses sloppy, wet kisses against Sam’s back and shoulders.

They take their time washing up and Sam stretches his cramped muscles. Shower sex is always good, but it definitely leaves Sam sore and achy. Dean pushes him up against the wall and kisses him thoroughly, which helps, then dries him off and guides him into Dean’s room for a nap before supper.

“I got your favorite rabbit-food thing for supper,” Dean whispers against his lips, and Sam wonders how he got so lucky. At forty-six, Dean’s still gorgeous; if anything, he seems to be getting younger every day. The fact that he’s an excellent cook as well just feels too good to be true. Sam stretches out on the bed and Dean gives him a thorough massage, making them both horny again in record time. Their second round is slow and leisurely. Dean trails his mouth over Sam’s skin from jaw to hip, kissing and sucking as Sam lies moaning and senseless beneath him. Dean’s always been good with his mouth, and Sam falls in love with him all over again as Dean’s plush lips and talented tongue do their work.

By the time Sam comes a third time in Dean’s mouth he’s practically boneless; all his aches and soreness have dissipated and he can barely keep his eyes open. He’s vaguely aware of Dean leaving the bed to fix their supper, then he’s out for the better part of an hour before Dean comes back to wake him with more kisses.

“Time for supper, sleeping beauty,” Dean chuckles against his lips, then kisses a line across his cheek to his ear. “We can go to bed early tonight, since we have to get up at dawn for the drive.”

The promise of more sex after supper makes Sam’s toes curl; he’s always wanted Dean, could never resist him when he was like this, and if anything he’s become hornier and more sensual with age. Dean might have been a hot teenager, he might have been a damn sexy twenty-something, and he was definitely gorgeous in his thirties. But now, with all that living behind him, Dean’s on fire. As Sam has noted on more than one occasion, Dean as a fully mature adult is simply the hottest version of his brother ever, hands down.

Maybe he wouldn’t have said it ten years ago, but these days Sam’s pretty sure he’s the luckiest man on Earth.


**//**//**


Late that night, after Dean’s sleeping soundly, Sam slips out of bed and pads down the hall to his room. He pulls his sweat pants on and slips a t-shirt over his head, pads down the hall to the library in his bare feet.

The ghost is sitting in the chair where Sam usually sits, her back to Sam. The table lamp casts shadows around the rest of the room.

“Hi, Sam,” the ghost says softly. Sam crosses around the table to face her – it’s a woman, he realizes – and waits for her to speak again. From this angle, and in this light, the ghost looks almost real. She’s old, with laugh lines around her mouth and eyes and wrinkles on her forehead. She’s dressed simply in hunter garb – jeans and a t-shirt with a red-checked flannel shirt over her t-shirt. Sam thinks she probably had dark hair at one time, but now it’s almost completely gray, pulled back from her face in a bun tied up tight at the back of her head. There’s a book open in front of her on the table. Some kind of spell book, Sam thinks, and she’s got a notebook with a pen in her hand, as if she’d been taking notes when Sam walked in.

“How do you know my name?” Sam asks when she just sits there, smiling up at him. She seems perfectly calm, not angry or demented in any way. Sam’s been curious about her for so long that he can’t quite believe she’s finally noticed him, much less started talking to him.

“I know all about you and your brother,” the ghost says softly. “You’re legends among hunters.”

“So you’re a hunter,” Sam says.

“I used to be.” The ghost sighs. “Had to give it up when I got too old. You know how that is.”

Sam smiles sympathetically. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

“So, how’re you doing, Sam? Everything okay? You and your brother happy?”

Sam lifts his eyebrows in surprise. It’s not like it’s the first time he’s had a ghost ask such a personal question; he still remembers Dr. Ellicott. But this is different. The ghost’s question isn’t malevolent or taunting. She seems genuinely interested. Curious. There’s real compassion in her gaze, and Sam wonders if there’s something he’s missing. Should he know her?

“We’re fine,” he says. “What did you say your name was?”

The ghost smiles, looks down at her book, and lays her pen down carefully as she closes it. “I didn’t,” she says softly. She lifts her eyes and studies him for a moment. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

That’s when it hits him. The ghost looks like someone he knows, but that doesn’t make any sense. Alex. She looks like Alex, but that would make this ghost her grandmother. And this was the first he’d heard that Alex’s grandmother was a hunter. Could that be the case?

“You look just like a girl I know named Alex, except she’s only about twenty-five, and you’re – “

“I’m eighty-six, Sam,” the ghost says. “I got old.”

“I don’t understand,” Sam says, shaking his head. “How can you be Alex’s grandmother? She never told me her family were hunters.”

“They weren’t,” the ghost says with a sigh. “If they had been, they might have survived.”

“I don’t understand,” Sam says again. “If you’re not Alex’s grandmother, or an ancestor of some kind…”

“I am Alex, Sam,” the ghost says. “I’m that girl you remember. She’s me.”

Sam stares, frowning. He knows he shouldn’t engage the ghost in conversation; spirits who’ve been around a long time inevitably went mad. This ghost was clearly insane, claiming to be the spirit of a girl Sam knows to be alive and well. He shouldn’t listen for another moment. He should focus on finding out what ties the spirit to this place so he can salt and burn its remains, so he can lay it to rest.

But something bothers him about this. There’s something he’s not quite grasping here.

“That’s impossible,” he says softly, aware that he’s humoring a ghost. “Alex and Claire are alive and living with Jody in Sioux Falls. We see them every year for Christmas and Claire’s birthday.”

The ghost smiles sadly, her dark eyes filling with tears. “Those were good times, weren’t they? Remember that time you and Dean brought that horrible fruitcake? I think Dean thought it would taste good. Nobody’d ever told him how truly awful fruitcake was. He just didn’t know.”

Sam shakes his head, confusion creasing his brow. “How do you – How do you know that? Are you reading my mind? My memories?” He feels a chill run up his spine.

“No, Sam,” the ghost shakes its head. “I was there. I’m Alex. I’m really her. I know it’s hard to believe. You don’t realize how much time has passed, do you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam says. His confusion is growing by leaps and bounds, and he’s starting to have flashes of memories that make no sense. Memories of Dean as an old man, of himself in the mirror with gray hair and tired eyes. Old.

“You always forget,” the ghost says. “You never remember much past your forty-fifth birthday. I think it’s a kind of safety switch on your psyche. You and Dean were happiest then, so that’s where you stay, in your minds.”

“I don’t understand…”

But he does. He doesn’t know how it escaped him before, but now he gets it. Now he remembers.

He doesn’t know when he sank down into the seat across from the ghost – Alex, as he now knows. He’s shaking, sucking in an unsteady breath and letting it out slow as he stares down at his hands, memories of himself aging suddenly clouding his vision. He remembers how they slowed down in their later years, how they stopped making love as often, then stopped eating as much. Sleep started to evade them both, but especially Sam. He took to wandering the halls at night, muttering to himself, joints achy and not letting him sleep even if he wanted to.

He remembers lying down with Dean after Dean stopped breathing one night. Sam’s brother just slipped away quietly while Sam was lying right next to him, holding his hand. He remembers Dean’s last word, whispered with such love and devotion it makes Sam’s heart break to remember it.

He can almost remember his own heart stopping. He’s pretty sure he didn’t live more than an hour after Dean died. His body wouldn’t do it.

Sam looks up at Alex, his eyes filling with tears as the memories flow over him.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Alex says softly. “It’s always hard, the moment of remembering. It never gets easier.”

Her breath mists in the air between them and Sam wonders how he didn’t see it before.

“How long?” he asks.

“You died twenty years ago tonight,” Alex says, compassion softening her features, making her seem younger. “You and Dean passed away on the same night, in each other’s arms. We were already living here by that time.”

“We?” Sam’s voice is choked and broken, but he can’t remember this part so he has to ask.

“Claire and I,” Alex confirms. “You bequeathed the place to us, remember?”

“Claire,” Sam whispers.

It’s Alex’s turn to remember, her eyes filling with tears as she nods. “She died ten years ago last winter,” Alex says. “I don’t think I’ve got much longer myself, to be honest.”

Sam takes a deep breath, not sure how he’s doing it but it feels natural. It feels normal, except for the memories.

“You and she – “

“Just like you and your brother.” Alex nods. “When Jody died, we both realized how stupid we’d been all those years, thinking we didn’t need each other like we did. Sometimes the most obvious things are right there under your nose, where they’ve been all the time, if you’d just opened your eyes enough to see them.”

“Tell me about it.” Sam gives a little shake of his head. He and Dean were in their forties before they finally admitted their long-repressed feelings for each other. He’ll always regret that it took them so long.

Alex smiles. “You and Dean were our role models, Sam, in every way. You two helped us understand how much we meant to each other. I owe it to you two, finding and recognizing that Claire was the love of my life. My soulmate. My life has been rich and rewarding, and I owe it all to you two. And Claire, of course.”

“She died in the line of duty,” Sam recalls suddenly, not sure how he can have a memory of something that happened after he died. Alex must have told him.

Alex nods. “She went out in a blaze of glory, just like she wanted.”

“But we didn’t,” Sam says, shaking his head. “We thought we were gonna end up like Butch and Sundance, but in fact we ended up more like Rufus and Bobby.”

Alex smiles broadly. “I was always sorry I didn’t get to meet those two,” she says.

“And someday the bunker will be empty again.” Sam sighs.

“Not exactly,” Alex says mysteriously. “Claire and I carried on your tradition. We trained up some younger hunters, helped them find their way. We found the perfect couple to follow in our footsteps, and yours. We think you’ll approve.”

“I’d like to meet them,” Sam says.

“Oh, they’re already here.” Alex smiles. “They’re watching out for this place, watching out for me. But don’t worry. They know all about you two. They’ll leave you alone.”

Sam runs the flat of his hand over the surface of the table, over the grooved indentations where he and Dean carved their names, many years ago.

“You and I have had this conversation before,” he suggests, and Alex nods.

“You pierce the veil every year on the anniversary of your deaths,” she says. “We talked for the first time the year Claire died, but I’d seen you before that. I just didn’t believe it. The first time, we talked all night. You knew what had happened to you, but the following year, you’d forgotten. It’s been that way every year since. On the anniversary of your death, you manifest well enough for us to talk, for you to understand what’s happened to you, but the next year, it’s like that never happened. The rest of the year, I catch glimpses of you, enough to know you’re still here, but this is the only night of the year that we actually appear to each other.”

“What ties us here?” Sam asks.

“I think you know,” Alex says softly. “It’s parked in the garage. I haven’t had the heart to burn it.”

“But you have to,” Sam says, heartbroken at the thought. But he knows the stakes. “If you don’t, Dean and I will eventually go mad. We won’t be able to let go.”

Alex shakes her head. “You’ve probably already figured out that you and Dean aren’t ordinary ghosts,” she says. “You’re not bound to this place, or a single object, the way normal ghosts are.”

“We get in the car and drive,” Sam says. “We do it all the time.”

Alex smiles. “Sometimes you’re gone for weeks,” she nods. “Sometimes I think you might never come back. I miss you when that happens. It gets lonely around here without my ghosts.”

“Dean wants us to go to the Oregon Coast tomorrow morning,” Sam says with a slight smile. He’s feeling profoundly sad. “I can tell he wants us to spend some serious time there.”

Alex nods. “You’ll go,” she says. “You always do. But you always come back, too. You’re in a continual loop of going out to hunt and coming home again. I get the reports. You’re a legend.”

“Reports?”

“Yeah.” Alex takes a deep breath. “Every once in a while, I hear about an unexplained event. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but before I can send hunters out to investigate, it’s over. Ghost, werewolf, vampire, whatever the problem, it’s always over before I can send anyone. And the story’s always the same: two tall strangers in a long black car were seen at the scene, driving away. Nobody knows for sure who they are, but there are rumors. Especially among the hunting community.”

Sam shakes his head, rubbing his thumb along Dean’s initials. “You have to burn the car, Alex. You have to help us let go.”

“Ah, but here’s the thing,” Alex says, leaning forward in her chair. She’s got a glass of whiskey, the bottle half-empty on the table next to her, and Sam wonders how much she’s had. How much she needs before she’s sure she’s really talking to him. “Rowena was here, just after you died.”

Sam starts, raising his eyebrows and glancing around the room as if he expects the witch to materialize.

“No, she’s not here now,” Alex assures him. “She wanted to make sure you were really dead. Apparently there was a prophecy that said you’d be the one to kill her.”

“That’s right,” Sam nods. “But that was a long time ago. I assumed the curse had run itself out. When we — by the time we got old, we hadn’t seen Rowena in at least thirty years.”

“Well, she seemed to think you could still kill her, even after death,” Alex says. “She said you’d been granted special dispensation to become Earthbound spirits after your deaths. You’re supposed to roam the Earth, helping those in need...”

“Saving people,” Sam corrects automatically. “Hunting things.”

“That’s it,” Alex nods. “Anyway, she seemed to think you’d keep doing that, without becoming crazy like ordinary ghosts, because that’s the way you wanted it and Death or God or whatever agreed to that. It was a kind of door prize for saving the world so many times.”

“That’s sounds about right,” Sam sighs. “That sounds like a deal we’d make.” He shakes his head. “We’ve been to Heaven, Alex, and it sucks. Hell, too, obviously. Not exactly the kinds of places guys like us want to go spend eternity when we die.”

“If it lets me be with Claire again, I’ll take either place,” Alex says softly.

Sam’s feeling sleepy all of a sudden, as if he’s taken a sleeping pill and it’s just now kicking in.

“Sam? You’re fading,” Alex informs him.

Sam pushes himself to his feet, reaches out a hand to Alex and she takes it, clasping it between her hands. She looks up at him, surprised, as if she didn’t expect to be able to touch him at all.

“Till next year?” Sam says.

Alex shakes her head. “I’m afraid I won’t be here by then, Sam. But thank you for the conversation. Thank you for all the conversations. You’ve been a comfort to a lonely old lady all these years.”

Sam bends forward and places a kiss on her cheek, and when he pulls back, he can see she’s blushing.

“I always had a thing for you,” she says softly. “I never told Claire.”

Sam smiles, squeezing her hand gently. “You did good, Alex. I can’t imagine anyone Dean and I would’ve rather left this place to than you and Claire.”

She’s still sitting there, watching him as he heads back down the hallway to bed.

He’s pretty sure she’ll be gone by morning.

On to Part Two