He and Dean had taken their seats in the Impala's cockpit, the thick titanium doors of the air-lock rolling into place and effectively cutting them off from the space-station.
Dean, so attuned now to his sibling's emotions, elbowed him.
"Hey there, Sparky. Calm down! A freaky worm-hole's not anything we haven't seen before."
Sam gave him the familiar bitch-face that had kept Dean company for centuries now, but which the elder Winchester never tired of being on the receiving end of. It meant Sam was alive and by his side and if nothing interrupted their on-going longevity, it would continue to amuse him forever.
"We haven't seen one before, Dean! Not one that opens and closes with such precision and show of special effects. And we're gonna fly through it." He caught his brother's eye. "Aren't you just a little bit excited?"
Dean shrugged." I'm not going to deny it's cute but so are the women I got to know on Deep Space Nine. Dude, that plant-girl from Floralia was something else! It wasn't just her face that was surrounded by petals, so was her p..."
"Shut up, Dean! I don't want to know, okay! I didn't want to know about your one night stands back when we were just plain Sam and Dean, but now that we're Methuselahs, I've had enough of 'Dean Winchester's Amorous Adventures Through Time and Space!"
"Dude," Dean huffed. "You're the weird one, you might be a Methuselah but you still act like a pissy little kid."
He turned his attention to the pre-flight checks.
Dean always kept the little black ship in tip-top condition, having gradually incorporated all the relevant engineering through the years as space-travel evolved and the human race took to the sky.
Now roaming the space-lanes was no different to driving down a black-top, though the Winchesters were probably the only humans alive who could actually say they'd lived those days.
Satisfied with the state of the Impala, Dean punched in the coordinates and the little craft jumped to obey his orders, making a bee-line for the worm-hole which was due to open in fifteen minutes.
Space engineering wasn't all the Winchesters had majored in through the years.
Sam had mastered an impressive array of alien languages and codes, his geeky brain absorbing information like a sponge, while Dean, though no slouch himself in the research department, had preferred to dedicate himself to picking up all the new fighting techniques and game skills that had been added to humanity's sports.
Though there was no longer any need on Earth nor on the Earth colonies for money, people still loved to wager on games of skill and Dean had taken to Parrises Squares like a duck to water.
The times he came back from a game bruised and battered but triumphant, Sam would just roll his eyes and listen to Dean's moment by moment replay with good natured patience!
As the Impala approached the opening site, Dean could feel the anticipation radiating from Sam, and he chuckled.
His little brother was nothing if not constant, as curious now as he ever was, and Dean mused, just as stubborn. Once he got the bit between his teeth, there was no stopping him. He'd dragged Dean to this backwaters station on the edge of known space just to see this worm-hole.
He'd been told by traders on DS9 that going through was a hell of a roller-coaster ride, and despite what he'd said to Sam, he did feel a thrill at the idea.
On the other side lay a unknown quadrant to explore and surely there would be a whole new set of supernatural fuglies to take out. Each planet had its own version of vampires, were-wolves, etc.
The research kept Sam happy and the hunt still sent a tingle though Dean even though the adrenaline rush was toned down by the whole immortality crap. On the plus side, he didn't have to worry about something taking Sam out, and of himself having to end the world to get him back. So win-win!
When the worm-hole opened in a riot of pinks, reds, and azures, the brothers' breath hitched in wonder, the donut-shaped Deep Space Nine hanging in the blackness of space at their backs, forgotten.
"Dean;" Sam gasped. " Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"
"Well the Grand Canyon wasn't so bad, " Dean declared not wanting to admit his own awe at the phenomenon that now occupied the entire space in front of the ship.
He glanced over at his brother.
"Hold on to your panties and get ready for a roller-coaster ride, " Dean grinned pushing the Impala forward into the mouth of the singularity.
"Woo-hoo! " he yelled as the Impala began bouncing like a bucking bronco.
"Dean.. ..." Sam's voice dripped with disapproval. "Up the stabilizers or I won't be responsible for decorating the cock-pit with puke!"
"You sure know how to ruin a guy's fun, " Dean bitched but before long the Impala was scudding along in its usual smooth fashion.
"Happy now, Francis?"
Sam rolled his eyes but that's as far as he got before the multicoloured pulsing walls of the worm-hole disappeared along with the metal confines of the Impala, and he found himself gazing mesmerised at Jess' beautiful face.
"Jess?" Sam made a super-human effort to drag his eyes from her face and take a look around. He was standing in the flat they'd shared at Stanford but at the edges of his vision he caught sight of a hazy grey mist.
Wherever he was, it wasn't Stanford.
"Dean, where are you? " he yelled.
"Your brother is well, " Jess' soothing voice assured him. "You will see him soon. He is being informed as you are."
"What is this place?
Sam had no fear of this apparition, just of being separated from his brother.
"We live within the worm-hole," false Jess explained. "We were waiting for you."
In his over three centuries of life, Sam had almost forgotten what surprise felt like, but the being's words reminded him.
"Waiting for us?" Sam repeated dazed. "But why?"
"We were taught by another human that your race lives in a linear dimension. We do not. We are timeless. There is no past nor future, only now. You and your brother are a new breed. You live in a linear world, yet you are timeless. Your very existence interferes with the correct working of the universe."
Sam mulled over her words for a minute before asking.
"What do you want us to do? We didn't ask to be like this, you should take it up with the dicks that made the mess in the first place.."
The Jess clone smiled, causing Sam's heart to clench at the memory of his long dead girl-friend.
"No-one wants to harm you, or wishes your dead, but the time has come to choose. We have been authorized to restore your humanity and the death that comes with it or if you prefer, you may pass on."
"Pass on?" Sam frowned.
"Become two amongst the most powerful beings in the universe, those who call themselves the 'Q'. Their number has diminished and they would welcome new vigorous blood such as you and your brother, two humans who have chosen to retain their moral integrity through the centuries when they could easily have chosen to travel the road to evil."
Just then the grey mists wavered and Dean appeared, flanked on either side by simulacra of John and Mary Winchester.
Sam's heart missed a beat. His brain knew they were as false as Jess but they looked so real, John tall and solid, Mary as beautiful as ever.
"Sam," Dean yelled, running towards him. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, Dean!" Sam assured his big brother.
Dean nodded, then caught sight of the Jess clone.
"Little brother, I still ask myself how you managed to snag a hot chick like her. Gotta hand it to you, dude."
"So did she feed you the company line?" he continued serious now.
"Yeah. They want us to choose, humanity or ..."
Around them the beings retreated leaving them alone in the once Stanford flat.
"You're the college boy, Sammy. Come up with an answer."
"Oh, no. You're not going to put this on me. We decide together," Sam declared.
Dean clicked his tongue.
"Okaaay...the choice is between an all-powerful 'Q' or growing old, dying and passing the rest of our existence in dick heaven or dick hell."
"But," Sam asked confused. "If we can be made to die now, why couldn't we die before?"
"Maybe we had to walk the Kung-Fu path to enlightenment or some crap like that! I don't know Sammy."
"Maybe," Sam agreed thoughtfully.
"Hey, we could try for a suspension. Do we have to decide right now? We could keep them hanging on for another century or two. They're timeless beings after all," Dean suggested.
"We can try, but if they insist we decide right now, Dean?"
"Sam, a choice between growing old and dying, versus promotion to all-powerful 'Q' is no choice at all. 'All-powerful' means just that. I get to do anything; go anywhere I want; … ruffle that girlie hair of yours through time and space; hop from planet to planet. Dude! Awesome!"
Sam huffed. An all-powerful Dean was the stuff of nightmares, at least as far a pranking went, though Sam was surprised to find that was practically his only negative!
"Yeah, okay, " Sam agreed. "We try for an adjournment to think it through, but failing that we go for the 'Q' stuff."
Dean clapped him on the back.
"I got the utmost faith in you, lawyer boy, " he grinned.
He didn't know exactly what Sam did, though he wasn't ready to cross off the puppy-powers of Sam's eyes, which had upped their mesmerizing effect through the years.
Well he'd had plenty of time to practise, mostly on his elder brother, Dean reflected ruefully.
"So how long do we get," Dean asked, magically finding himself back in the Impala, the glorious riot of colours surrounding them once more.
"They said we'd be contacted personally by a 'Q' sometime in the future."
"That's my boy," Dean smirked, stretching over to give his sibling's head a fond slap. "We've got lots to do before we become all powerful!"
Sam didn't bother answering, just rolled his eyes!