She'd been introduced to Sam by Brady, a mutual friend who'd extolled Sam's virtues, telling her that he was just the right guy to contrast her bubbly personality, but none of that had influenced her decision to hit on Sam. No, she'd been lost from the moment he'd turned his bright dimpled smile on her, lost in the depths of his hazel eyes.
"Hey," he smiled flopping down beside her. "Come on, Jess, you've been at it for hours. Time to take a break."
"Yeah, there's nothing I'd like better but I'm really worried about this exam, Sam. It's my weakest subject and I don't feel in the least prepared," she answered tiredly.
Jess had lifted her head as he'd come towards her, tall, handsome, laid-back and one of the sweetest guys on campus, to all appearances the 'prince charming' most girls hoped stumbled into their lives.
Well this was one 'prince' who was well and truly taken. She wasn't sharing and only she knew that under the gentle exterior Sam exhibited to the world, lay a generous yet demanding lover.
"Baby, the exam is in less than an hour. What more do you think you're gonna learn now? A coffee and a chocolate chip cookie will do more to perk you up than trying to cram more notions into your tired brain."
"Maybe you're right, Sam," she sighed as she closed the books with a huff. "I'd pay anything to be like you. You never lose your cool, go into exams like it's a walk in the park."
"That's because I'm organized, not a last minute study like you, Jess," he grinned as he helped her collect her stuff and followed her out of the library.
Yeah, Sam thought silently to himself, when you've passed half your life researching for hunts, being scared to death by rabid monsters, crying over your big brother bleeding out and having to stitch him up, prepping for an exam is a walk in the park!
A part of his heart guiltily reminded him that Dean was still doing all of those things while he was studying safely at Stanford.
He quashed the thought down. He couldn't think about that or his carefully cultivated college life would crumble to dust.
Jess had always thought it strange, Sam's habit of walking a step behind when they weren't actually holding hands, as if it was instinctive.
At times it annoyed her and she'd stop and entwine her arm through his, just to keep him walking at her side.
More than once she'd called him out on it and had seen a dark shift in his eyes as he denied being aware that he did it.
She knew him well enough now to tell when he was lying but she never pressed him on it, for another thing she'd found out about Sam was that he might seem easy-going but he could be as stubborn as hell. When he didn't want to share, that was it.
It was funny she mused, that the more she got to know Sam the less she knew about him.
She'd learned early on that his family was taboo.
He'd elegantly change the subject when anybody asked, diverting the attention so subtly onto something else, that he never needed to answer.
All she'd managed to get out of him was that he had an older brother and his father had a job that took them perennially across the country.
When she'd asked why they never passed through Palo Alto to visit, he'd replied that they'd had a big fall out and didn't really talk any more.
She'd never been able to get another word out of him.
All this mystery though had only made her more curious and she'd resorted to plying him with alcohol, thinking that drunk he might be more forthcoming. But he never went beyond what he could handle and she got the impression he knew exactly what she was trying to do, as if her mind was an open book.
In time she'd given up. When he was ready, he'd tell her. They'd been living together for over a year now and apart from the mysterious family thing she'd never been happier.
Sam was special and he was hers. That's all she needed to know, at least for now. If he ever asked her to marry him then he'd have to give her a little bit more but she was willing to live for the moment.
They sat down in the coffee shop and ordered.
"You were right Sam," Jess agreed happily as she lay back in the chair.
"I really needed that coffee, and the cookies have given me a whole new outlook on this exam. You sure know how to weave a magic spell, lover boy," she teased wondering at the shaded expression that would come over his face when she least expected it.
She'd said nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe he didn't like magic? Naa, she shrugged to herself!
She gave her phone a quick look.
"Oh jeez, I gotta go Sam. Don't want to be late. What about you? You've got that interview Monday. You worried."
He shrugged. "A little, but there's not much I can do except show up neat, tidy and enthusiastic."
"I suppose. Wish me luck," Jess grinned as she stood to go.
He pulled her down for a kiss and whispered. "You'll be fine Jess. And later we'll celebrate, okay?" His eyes held a promise of all they would do.
"Okay," she said breathlessly, her mind on the great night they would have once the stress from the damn exam was over. "I'll hold you to that, baby!"
Sam watched as she made her way to the exit and wondered for the umpteenth time how he had gotten so lucky. How someone like himself had managed to attract the attention of such a beautiful, vibrant girl.
He remembered Brady telling him he'd found just the right one for him, and Sam had rolled his eyes ironically at his friend.
No girl in her right mind would want a penniless gawky guy like Sam Winchester, he'd answered, but he'd been wrong. Jess had wanted him and for that he would be forever thankful.
He'd order another coffee then go get some supplies for tonight.
He was going to cook up something special for Jess. He didn't want to go out. The anxiety caused by the exams over, he just wanted to snuggled down with her, watch some hallmark film and forget about the rest of the world outside their door.
But Sam was unaware that this day would be the last he'd ever spend with Jessica.
Destiny had other plans for the youngest Winchester and tonight it would place him firmly back on the path he'd tried so hard to divert from. Though Sam didn't know it then, he could never have escaped what had been ordained for him, not even if he'd run to the farthest corner of the globe.
What had been written eons ago was coming to pass and cruel Fate would give him this one more evening with Jessica before the young man's world was turned upside down and the part of his heart that still yearned and called out for his brother would soon be satisfied, as even now Dean and the Impala were approaching Palo Alto.
The meeting of the two brothers would set everything in motion and bring them despair and heartbreak, leaving both boys shattered with nothing but each other to hang on to as Heaven and Hell bruised and battered them, each claiming one for their own devices.
It was wholly unfair, but they say God never puts a heavier weight on one's shoulder than can be borne, and the Winchesters would bear the greatest burdens of all, yet the love and sacrifice of these two brothers would save the world.