Jess wandered around her room, trying to figure out what she needed to pack. She’d be moving in to her Stanford dorm room tomorrow, and while it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if she missed anything, she still hated to make her dad drive all the way out to Palo Alto just because of her forgetfulness. Her suitcase lay half-filled on her bed, with piles of clothes strewn around it as she decided which to bring for first semester.
She jumped as the front door slammed shut downstairs. She paused, waiting for her dad to call up to her that he was home. When he didn’t, she grew worried. What the hell else would have made that noise? She slipped out of her room and crept down the stairs to investigate, careful not to make too much noise. She was just turning the corner to the kitchen when she stumbled (quite literally) upon some strange man in a luchador mask.
“Hey, Jo!” His voice was laid-back and a little nasal, but not one that Jess recognized. And who was Jo? “Sorry for the delay, got kinda turned around.” He spun slowly, looking around at Jess’ house. “Man, none of these memories are what I’d expect from-” He cut himself off as his eyes finally landed on Jess. “You’re not Jo. That’s weird, I was sure I got the sigils right,” he muttered to himself.
“Damn right I’m not; now who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?” Jess demanded. She immediately went from confused and concerned to completely freaked out. “What is going on?” The stranger pulled off his mask and tossed his hair. Jess wasn’t entirely sure if the mullet made him more or less creepy.
“Sorry ‘bout all this; the name’s Ash, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” he winced, “but you’re dead. This is your heaven.” Jess stared at him, frozen.
No. No, that wasn’t possible, she couldn’t be dead, she was just getting ready to go to back to Stanford-
Everything came rushing back to her all at once. She gasped for a breath that she didn’t truly need, overwhelmed and dizzy from the onslaught of memories. She stumbled and tipped backward, felt herself be caught by strong and wiry hands. She babbled at Ash, panicked and confused.
“How did you know I’m dead if I didn’t even know I’m dead? I’ve been reliving my whole life here, how did I only remember now? I just remembered my entire life in the past, like, four seconds, I just remembered how I died-” oh god, Sam was there in the fire too, those last moments were hazy but she’d never forget his horrified face- “Sam! Is he okay? Is he here?” She scrambled for Ash’s shoulders. She realized she probably sounded completely crazy, but considering the circumstances, she figured it could be excused.
Ash’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean Sam Winchester?”
She frantically nodded at him. “Yes! You know him? Is he here? Is he also…” A lump formed in her throat that she couldn’t speak around. Even if she could, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to. Saying it out loud would only make it real.
Ash’s eyes unfocused somewhere over her shoulder, looking contemplative. “Well, he was here a little while ago, but from what I’ve heard he’s back in the land of the living again. Winchesters don’t stay dead for long.” He winked at her. She knew he was probably trying to be reassuring, but it only made her more confused and upset. “What’s your name, little lady?”
She bristled at the nickname. “Jessica. And I don’t appreciate the condescension.” She watched, once again confused, as his eyes widened in recognition for the second time in as many minutes.
“As in Jessica Moore?” He looked almost half as spooked as she felt.
“That’s me. Why – has Sam mentioned me?” Ash gazed at her, weighing her up for a moment. She shifted her weight from foot to foot, feeling exposed. After a minute or two of silent staring, he held out his hand to her.
“Come on. You deserve to know the truth.”
Demons, and monsters, and ghosts, and angels, and –
They’re all real.
They’re all real, and her boyfriend and his brother hunted them, and so did all these other people.
Ash had taken her back to his heaven, in a memory of a place he called the Roadhouse, and told her about the dark truth of the world. She also learned that Ash was kind of a genius, and was able to use some kind of magical language to link heavens and souls together. He had turned his heaven into a central meeting place for other- oh, what was it they called themselves?
Hunters, that was it.
Over the next while - because who could really tell how much time had passed in heaven anyways - Jess was introduced to Sam’s other family. Along with Ash, it included the sassy psychic Pam, the grumpy old man Bobby, the even grumpier old man Rufus, and two men who introduced themselves and Sam’s grandfathers, who spent most of the conversation glaring at each other as a short blonde woman cut in with “I’m Deanna, dear, it’s so good to meet you.” And there was a young woman, with long curly blonde hair like hers, and bright green eyes, who took one look at Jess and hugged her tight, thanking her for looking after her Sammy.
And, of course, there were Jo and Ellen Harvelle.
Jess spent most of her time with the two of them; once she learned about the the things that go bump in the night, she felt so awkward around the hunters here in the Roadhouse. They would be sitting around, telling stories of the monsters they’ve killed and the hunts they’ve been on, and what could she offer to the conversation? The exams she’d taken? The professors she’d had? She could perfectly picture the condescending expressions on their faces if she were to talk about her life at Stanford, or her childhood, or any of the totally normal, regular problems that she had experienced in her life.
So, instead, Jess sat at the bar, talking and joking with Jo, and occasionally asking Ellen for stories. The older woman was intimidating at first, but she was clearly loving and supportive; Jess only had her dad growing up, and she imagined that Ellen was the perfect example of a mother.
It was during one of these conversations with Jo, one of them on either side of the bar, talking and laughing about college – which Jess had been surprised to hear that Jo had attended, and less surprised to hear that she never finished – that Jess was struck by a sudden feeling. Something she hadn’t felt since her first date with Sam.
She could feel butterflies roiling in her stomach; she was staring at Jo’s lips, not really hearing what the other woman was saying anymore; she could feel a blush creeping up on her cheeks.
She must have been completely spaced out for a few minutes, because she heard Jo calling her name, probably not for the first time.
“Jess! You okay? You totally checked out on me there.” Jo raised an eyebrow at her, the slightest of smirks tugging at the corner of her mouth. Jess shook her head, forcing herself to focus.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I was just… I realized something.” Now both of Jo’s eyebrows raised, clearly intrigued.
“Oh yeah? What’s that, then?” She leaned forward and rested her crossed arms on the bar. Jess swallowed heavily. She held Jo’s gaze, and slowly leaned in. She heard Jo suck in a sharp breath, before she pushed forward to meet her halfway.
Jess melted into the kiss; she reached up to tangle her hands in Jo’s hair, trying to pull her in deeper. She felt Jo pushing at her shoulder, and she reluctantly pulled away. Jo grinned at her.
“Sorry, the bar was kinda digging into my stomach.” Jess laughed, relieved, as Jo hopped right over the top of the bar, sitting on top of it right in front of her; she stood up and stepped in between Jo’s legs, wrapping her arms loosely around her hips.
“Wanna pick up where we left off?”
As time went on, Jess ended up visiting Jo at the bar for more than just stories. After the third or fourth time Ellen caught them making out at the bar, the older woman put her foot down.
“If you two are gonna get all up on each other, you’re gonna do it in private – and not on my counter.” Jo blushed fiercely, hunching her shoulders.
“I’m serious, Joanna Beth. You can do whatever you want, it’s no skin off my nose, but you do it behind closed doors, you got that?” Jo buried her face in her hands, muffling a groan. Jess grinned at her, before sheepishly turning to Ellen.
“We got it, Ellen. Sorry about that.” Ellen waved her off.
“No harm, no foul. I remember being young and getting into trouble. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Ellen walked away to go back to working behind the bar. As she left, Jo looked up from her hands.
“She’s gone?” Jess giggled at her; Jo pouted, which only made her laugh harder. Eventually, Jess got herself under control, laying a hand on Jo’s shoulder.
“Yeah, she’s gone.” As Jess watched, Jo’s gaze grew distant, and she tilted her head to the side, thinking. Jess playfully nudged her side. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”
Jo caught her eye for a brief moment, before snapping her head around and yelling out, “ASH!” She turned back to Jess, grinning impishly. “Mom’s right – we each have our entire personal heavens to explore. How’s that for a first date?”
Jess’s eyes widened as Ash sauntered over. She vaguely heard Jo telling Ash what she wanted to do, and saw the two of them head over to the doors to the Roadhouse. She jolted, hurrying to catch up with them. She caught the tail end of Ash’s explanation of the sigils he used to travel from one heaven to another, and he tossed them each a small box of chalk to draw them themselves.
“Have fun ladies; don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
Jo sneered playfully at him. “So, nothing, then?” Ash grinned lazily and saluted them over his shoulder as he turned around and headed back into the bar. Jo turned to Jess, pulling out a piece of chalk.
“So, where do you want to start?”
They went everywhere.
They watched each other’s childhoods, their birthdays and Christmases and school dances and summer vacations. They saw Jess skateboarding down the streets of San Francisco, and Jo learning to cook in the kitchen of the Roadhouse.
They saw memories of Jo’s mom and Jess’s dad, and all the times they tried their hardest to be two parents in one.
They saw memories of their respective times in college, the classes and professors. They saw Jess taking part in her department’s orientation scavenger hunt and Nerf fight, and saw Jo getting into a fight with a professor who was treating another student unfairly. Jess laughed when she realized that that was one of Jo’s best memories; Jo huffed, squaring her shoulders and tipping her chin up defiantly, and said she’d do it again in a heartbeat. Jess’s own heart skipped a beat at that.
They saw memories of Jo hunting – some with her mother, some with Rufus, and some… some with Sam and Dean.
They stood in a memory of the night before Jo died, with Sam and Dean and Ellen and Bobby and some guy who looked like an accountant that Jo claimed was an angel, as they all shared drinks and stories and laughed, knowing they were walking into the lion’s den only a few hours later. The two of them watched Dean attempt to flirt with Jo, and her memory of herself brush him off.
The real Jo turned to her. “Are you okay? I know you and Sam…” She gestured to the memory of him with her head as she trailed off, uncertainly.
Jess watched Sam sadly. “Yeah, we were. But you know what? He’s alive, and he’s got the rest of his life ahead of him. I don’t want him to be hung up on me after all this time. As long as he's happy, I'm happy.” At that, Jo turned to face her head on.
“And what about you? What do you want?” Jess looked over at her.
“I’m fine – really, I am. I get to see all the best times of my life, I have a whole new family at the Roadhouse, I’ve got you.” She gently took one of Jo’s hands and flashed her a brilliant smile. “Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean my life is over.”
That had been…a week ago? Maybe more? Who could even tell in heaven. Now, the two of them were sitting in the back of an old pickup truck, watching Jess’s dad carry a four-year-old version of her around on his shoulders in a field of sunflowers. They had each taken a flower, and were lazily plucking the petals off of them. Jess slowly tipped sideways, laying her head in Jo’s lap. Jo’s fingers carded distractedly through her hair as her other hand sprinkled the plucked petals over Jess’s face. She smiled, completely content as she watched her own tiny blonde head bob along in the flowers.