Title: The Haunting of Jessica Moore
Author: Morgan Briarwood / briarwood
Genre: Het, Pre-series, AU(ish)
Characters/Pairing: Sam/Jess, Dean, Brady, Original Characters.
Words: 36,000 approx
Warnings: (highlight to reveal) Violent death (of a non-canon character) See my warnings policy.
Summary: Jessica loved cheesy horror movies and ghost stories, but she didn't believe in any of it. They were college kids, having fun on a summer holiday. All that talk about the house being haunted was just joking around. When one of her friends had a frightening accident, it didn't seem so funny any more. And just why did Jessica's brand-new boyfriend, Sam, insist on buying so much salt?
Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke et. al. But they left Jessica in a refrigerator, so I figure it's only fair I let her out and give her a story of her own.
THE HAUNTING OF JESSICA MOORE
The white-painted house seemed to huddle among the trees, the storm-filled clouds beyond giving it a forbidding look. Shadows fell oddly across the front of the building. Jessica gazed through the wrought iron gate to the house beyond. Her artist’s eye could almost make out a scarred face in the shuttered windows and darkly recessed doors at the end of the long driveway. It wasn’t the house she’d expected from Claire’s photographs. But, of course, all of Claire’s photos were taken in sunlight. Jessica had never seen the house in this kind of weather.
She shook her head, inwardly mocking her own feeling of foreboding and watched Sam and Brady struggle with the heavy padlock and chain holding the gate closed. The wind caught at her hair and she felt an unseasonable chill. It wasn’t raining yet, but the angry clouds promised a deluge very soon.
It was an inauspicious start to their vacation. The house belonged to Claire’s uncle. An accident two years earlier left him wheelchair-bound, which forced him to move out of the house into a home better suited to his needs. The house, an eight-bedroomed manor set in extensive grounds, had been on the market ever since but so far had not been sold. Claire had been thrilled when she was offered the use of the house for the summer, and she lost no time inviting all of her friends. The four of them: Jessica, her new boyfriend Sam, Claire and her definitely-not-my-boyfriend Brady had loaded up Brady’s SUV – a silver Subaru Forester – and driven out here from Palo Alto as soon as the semester was over.
The vacation had been planned before Jessica and Sam started dating and Sam had initially turned down Claire’s invitation, saying he needed to find a job for the summer. Jessica and Sam had a lot of friends in common and knew each other by sight, but somehow they’d never really met. It was Brady who eventually introduced them and they liked each other at once. For their first date they went to see Shaun of the Dead, and while munching the after-movie burgers they bonded over a shared love of cheesy horror movies and cheesier 80’s cop shows. On their third date, Jessica mentioned Claire’s vacation plans and told him she was planning to spend six weeks of the summer at the house with Claire. Sam immediately asked Claire if her invitation to him was still open. Jessica was a little worried about that – they hadn’t really been a couple long enough to be planning a long vacation together – but she’d pushed her worries aside. She really, really liked Sam and it wasn’t like they’d be alone out here.
The wind whipped her hair across her face and Jessica ran a hand through her blonde curls. She looked back at the house as she felt the first spots of rain on her bare arms. It really did look like a face, the deep shadows over the recessed front doors giving it the appearance of a gaping maw.
Claire gave an odd chuckle and intoned dramatically, “Hill House, not sane, stood against the hills holding silence within, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Jessica shivered; Claire’s misquote echoed her own thoughts too closely.
“Darkness,” Sam called back over his shoulder. He stepped back as the chain came loose and Brady gathered it up, looped it around the gate and slid the padlock into place, leaving the gate unlocked.
Sam grinned and returned the padlock key to Claire. “You misquoted. It’s darkness, not silence.”
“No, I’m sure…” she began to object.
Jessica smiled, knowing it was best not to argue with Sam about these things. He didn’t butt in unless he knew he was right.
Sam quoted, “‘Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.’ It’s from a novel by Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House. I wrote it up for a book report in tenth grade.”
Claire stuck her tongue out at him. “Smarty-pants,” she pouted.
“That’s creepy,” Jessica remarked. She shivered again.
“It’s only a story, Jess.” Sam took his place at Jessica’s side, wrapping his warm arm around her shoulders. “Are you through scaring my girl?” he asked Claire.
She laughed. “It’s just the storm. The shadows make the house look like there’s something watching us. I don’t mean anything by it.”
Brady had the gate open and was smiling himself as he headed back to the SUV. “Well, I think it’s neat. We get to live in a haunted house for six weeks. D’you think we’ll see a ghost?”
“Quit it,” Sam told him, hugging Jessica close protectively. He added, so quietly Jessica thought only she could hear, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”
She snuggled closer to him, oddly reassured by knowing he was creeped out, too.
“Come on,” Brady urged, opening the driver’s door. “Let’s get inside before the storm hits. Unless you’re scared…”
Jessica reached for the rear door of the SUV and began to sing the theme from Ghostbusters. With a grin, Brady joined in. They kept singing as they all climbed back into Brady’s SUV. By the time they reached the second “who you gonna call?”, Sam chimed in with the “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” line and they went on from there, the four of them singing while Brady guided the SUV up the long driveway.
Jessica smiled at Sam as they sang. She knew Sam was a guy she wanted to hang on to. He was everything she hoped for in a man: smart, fun to be around, drop-dead-gorgeous…and he loved her. She knew he did, even if he hadn’t said it yet.
The four of them had the house to themselves for six weeks. Other friends would be joining them later, some just for a few days, some for longer. Becky and Zach were going home to St Louis for two weeks, and then spending the rest of the summer with them. Matt and Travis both had summer jobs but intended to drive out to the house most weekends. Adrianne was coming next weekend and would stay for at least a week. Others had promised to come but not named firm dates. So Jessica was anticipating a summer of fun, games and parties. The house was isolated enough that they could party all night if they wanted to and not bother the neighbours. There was even a beach at the bottom of the cliffs, accessible via a private path from the house.
This was going to be a great summer.
Jessica and Claire did their share of the heavy lifting, but the four of them had crammed a lot into Brady’s SUV and the storm broke before they were halfway through unpacking the trunk.
Sam told Jessica to stay undercover. “No need for both of us to get soaked,” he insisted gallantly as he ran back out into the rain. Jessica, watching him, wondered how long the chivalrous phase would last. In her experience, most guys quit being gentlemen around the time she first slept with them, but she’d already had sex with Sam. Maybe he really was one of the good ones.
Sam slammed the trunk closed and ran back to the house with the last two bags in his hands and his precious laptop under his arm. They all cheered him on and applauded as he crossed the threshold. Jessica laughed exuberantly as she closed the front door behind him.
He set the bags down. Sam had been out in the rain for no more than thirty seconds, but he looked like a drowned rat already. The storm had been building for a while but the rain had come down as a sudden downpour.
Jessica was grateful he’d braved the downpour for her sake. “Oh, honey. Do you want a towel?”
Sam slicked his wet hair back with both hands. “I’m fine. It’s only rain.”
“I guess we can forget about having barbeque on the terrace tonight,” Claire grumbled, but she didn’t seem unhappy. She made an expansive gesture. “Welcome to my mansion. D’you guys want a tour?”
“Only if the first exhibit is a bathroom,” Brady answered. “I had way too much coffee at that last rest stop.”
Claire giggled. “Oh, sorry. This way.”
While Claire led Brady to the nearest convenience, Jessica had time to look around. Calling it a mansion was an exaggeration, but the entrance hall was like one of the grand plantation mansions in Gone With The Wind, though on a smaller scale. The walls were white plaster with elaborate carving a little below where the walls met the ceiling. The ceiling itself was white, crossed with thick dark oak beams. Opposite the front doors a grand staircase led up to a mezzanine, where it split into two staircases leading up to the next level. There were six doors leading from the hallway that Jessica could see, all of them closed. It was very impressive.
“All it needs is a portrait,” Jessica remarked, remembering their earlier joking about the house.
“Why a portrait?” Sam asked.
“In the movies, there’s always a portrait of a woman who mysteriously resembles the heroine,” Jessica explained. “Which I guess would have to be me, since there’d be nothing mysterious about Claire’s ancestor resembling her.”
“That’s only in vampire movies,” Sam objected. “I thought we decided this was a haunted house.”
“Can’t it be both?” Jessica asked with a grin, getting into the spirit of it.
“Absolutely not. Vampires are scared of ghosts,” Sam deadpanned.
Jessica giggled, getting a sudden mental image of Count Dracula fleeing in terror from Caspar the Friendly Ghost.
Right on cue, the first rumble of thunder grew overhead. The sound seemed to fill the room where they stood, as if the acoustics in the hall were designed to magnify it.
Jessica laughed. “Sounds like the storm will be a good one. I want to watch!” She felt excited, like a little girl anticipating a great treat. It would be better if the storm started after dark, but she’d always loved to watch a lightning storm.
“Claire!” Jessica called as their friends re-appeared. “Is there a room with an ocean view? I want to watch the lightning.”
“Uh…sure. The day room.”
Claire led them past the staircase to a door not visible from where they’d been standing. The room beyond the door was very dark. Claire snapped on the light to reveal a large room. All of the furniture was covered by huge white sheets. One wall was covered by floor-to-ceiling drapes. Claire walked across to draw the drapes back and Jessica joined her, pulling them open to reveal a huge window, but it was covered by a screen outside.
Claire disappeared underneath the drapes, then with an unmistakable hum of machinery the screen slowly rolled upwards to reveal the view.
There was a stone terrace outside the window and beyond that, some shrubbery. Beyond that was the view Jessica wanted: the angry sky and the ocean below. She smiled to herself, gazing out there. The screen had protected the window from the rain but it quickly became wet, so she saw the landscape through the droplets and rivulets on the glass.
Behind her, Jessica heard the others pulling the sheets off the furniture. She knew she should help, but she kept her eyes on the ocean, waiting. She was rewarded with a crescendo of thunder accompanied by a burst of lightning that crackled across the clouds and bolted down to the ocean. Over land, lightning would strike a high point like a tree or a tower and if you were watching you might see an explosion of sparks, or even a fire. That could be exciting to watch, but the ocean had no high points except the constantly moving waves, and water conducted electricity more efficiently than the land. When lightning struck it sheeted across the surface of the waves, and watching was beyond exciting. It was exhilarating.
Jessica squealed with delight as a blue-white flash turned into a ripple of pink and violet across the ocean. Her voice was drowned out by the thunder. She turned to Sam, her eyes bright with excitement, to find him smiling at her almost indulgently. But when he met her eyes and caught the excitement in her face, his look changed, becoming an expression she had come to love: desire. Drawn to her, Sam slid his arms around her from behind, holding her close as he turned her back toward the window.
“Have you ever seen a storm over the Pacific?” Jessica asked him, leaning back against his chest. His clothing was still wet from the rain, but she didn’t care.
“Then you’ve got to watch! It’s amazing!”
Sam kissed her hair. “Okay, okay. I’m watching.”
Brady moved toward the window. “Shouldn’t we lower the screen, guys? It’s looking wild out there.”
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake!” Jessica took her eyes off the storm long enough to roll them at him. “It’s a lightning storm, not a tornado.”
A new clap of thunder drew her attention and she looked back just in time to see the lightning strike with its spectacular colours across the waves. It was like an inverted mushroom cloud. Jessica let out a whoop. “Isn’t it gorgeous?”
Sam’s arms tightened around her waist. “You’re gorgeous,” he murmured with his lips against her cheek.
Jessica caught her breath, a different kind of excitement fluttering through her. She turned her face into his kiss. Sam’s lips met hers and she opened her mouth to him. He kept his arms tight around her as they kissed, which made the angle too awkward for her to get carried away, but it was enough.
Brady cleared his throat loudly. “Do you two want to get a room?” he suggested pointedly.
Sam released Jessica, but she could feel his reluctance.
“Maybe we should,” she answered, then looked for Claire. “I mean, we should unpack, get settled in.”
“Sure,” Claire agreed.
They carried their bags upstairs together.
“You can pick any bedroom you like,” Claire offered, “but I guess you’d like an ocean view, right, Jess?”
“I’d love it!” Jessica agreed.
“Then you want this one.” Claire set her suitcase down and opened a door to reveal a room beyond. Like the room downstairs, it was darkened by the screens across the windows. It didn’t take long for them to open the curtains, which revealed a large window and glass-panelled door. Claire opened it and showed Jessica how to unhook the screen from inside, letting the rain in all the while. There was no electric control for this one – it was an old-fashioned shutter which folded back against the wall outside and locked in place. The door opened onto a small balcony which overlooked the cliffs and ocean below.
Claire closed the balcony door quickly. “I’ll let you guys settle in,” she said with a smile that suggested she, like Brady, thought settling in was going to involve sex. “I guess I’ll give you a proper tour later.” She smiled at them both.
“Where’s your room?” Jessica asked.
“I’ll be in the attic. I’ve always slept there when I stayed with Uncle Rick.”
“Do you need help with your trunks, Claire?” Sam offered.
“No, I can manage. Feel free to explore if you like. I’ll meet you downstairs when you’re ready.”
The room was decorated in green: pale green walls, dark green brocade curtains and a thick pile carpet. The bed was an actual four-poster bed, complete with brocade canopy and curtains. Sam pulled the dust cover off the bed to reveal it was already made up, ready to be slept in.
Screens still covered half of the windows, darkening the room. “Do you want that ocean view?” Sam asked. “The storm’s still going on.”
“You’ll get wet.”
“I’m already wet,” Sam shrugged. He headed to the balcony door. Jessica didn’t argue because she really did want to keep watching the storm. It would be over soon. The rain was still heavy but the wind wasn’t too strong, so Sam was safe out there. He opened the screens: each one folded back against the wall and could be fastened in place. When they were all opened, Sam went to the edge of the balcony and leaned on the rail for a moment.
Jessica went to the window. “What are you doing?” she called. He was soaking wet already and the rain was showing no sign of letting up.
Sam gave her a grin and came back into the room. “I just wanted to check out the fence around the balcony. I think it’s wrought iron.” He closed the balcony door and latched it firmly.
“Why does that matter?” Jessica asked.
He shrugged. “Actual solid wrought iron: you don’t see that much in newer houses. It runs the full length of the balcony. No gaps. I like it. It’s…safe.”
With the screens out of the way, Jessica had an even better view of the storm than she did downstairs. She stayed at the window while Sam went down for the rest of their luggage. Guiltily, she promised herself she would do her fair share of the work from now on.
As the storm died away, Sam towelled his wet hair and came up to her side. “Do you know how hot you are? That look in your eyes…”
Jessica turned to him with a smile. “You want to do something about it?” She licked her lips suggestively.
Sam leaned in and kissed her, but just a quick kiss on her lips. “You are so tempting. But – ”
“But?” she repeated, disappointed.
“If we go to bed now, we’ll have to hurry, and I don’t want a quickie, babe. I want to take my time.” He smiled, then the smile became a grimace. “And Brady will never let it go. Unless you want to spend the next six weeks listening to his dirty hints, let’s wait until later.”
She moved close to him and laid her hand on his chest, over his heart. “Promise it’ll be worth the wait?”
Sam smiled. “Oh, I promise.” He lifted her chin with his fingertips and leaned in, slowly. He pressed his lips to hers, probed gently with his tongue. The restraint of it made Jessica’s body react all the way down to her groin and she moaned softly. Sam drew back then, the promise in his eyes.
Jessica loved the house.
They didn’t tour so much as go from room to room making sure the house was fully habitable. They packed away the dust covers, unscreened the windows, made sure the power was working in every room and so on. There was a huge kitchen with a serving hatch through to a formal dining room that Jessica didn’t think they were likely to use: none of them was the formal dining type. There was a study with well-stocked bookshelves. There was a music room with a baby grand piano and shelves full of sheet music. The day room where she first watched the storm was the most comfortable with its battered leather couches and thick sheepskin rugs on the floor. It had its own little bar (complete with a refrigerator which the boys immediately stocked with beer) and the French doors opened onto the terrace and could be pinned open so the room would be cool on the hot summer nights to come. The house had no pool or jacuzzi, but the beach was within walking distance. There was only one important thing missing: all the electronic entertainment systems had been removed from the house, so there was no television, no internet and no stereo. Well, the stereo wasn’t a problem because Brady, forewarned, had brought his own, which he installed in the day room.
Outside, the wide stone terrace covered the full width of the house at the rear. Below it the flowerbeds held climbing rose, honeysuckle and magnolia trees, each contributing to the gorgeous scent out there on the terrace. Steps ran down from the terrace to a lawn which must have been perfect once but was now somewhat shaggy and overgrown. Claire pointed out a gap in the distant hedgerow which she said would take them to the path which led down the cliff to the beach, and Jessica couldn’t wait to check it out. The beach wouldn’t be private, but there wouldn’t be many people using it because it was so hard to access. Jessica couldn’t think of a better place to spend the summer.
They had agreed to rotate the various household chores between them and since the planned barbeque on the terrace was a bust, Jessica volunteered to be the first to cook. Between the food they brought with them and dry goods already in the kitchen, she managed to throw together a reasonably decent chicken pasta and salad. They ate around the pine table in the kitchen then moved into the day room for cold beer and music.
“Tell us about the house, Claire,” Brady suggested much later that night. “Is it really haunted? Any dark history to tell?”
“Brady,” Sam chided, stroking Jessica’s hair.
Jessica was curled up on the couch with her head in Sam’s lap. “Don’t you like ghost stories?” She shifted a little to look at Claire expectantly. “Come on. Tell us.”
Claire shook her head. “There’s not much to tell. I used to pretend the place was haunted when I was little. There was a headless horseman who galloped up the driveway, and the ghost of a woman who died tragically along the cliff…but it was all make believe. I’ve never seen a ghost here for real.”
“That’s boring!” Brady declared. He was a little drunk. “Guys, we’re all alone in a spooky-looking house. Someone’s got to tell a ghost story.” He swigged his beer. “Sam. You had Claire’s haunted house quote memorised. You tell us one.”
Jessica turned her head to look up at Sam. “Yes, Sam. Please?”
He met her eyes and he seemed worried. Jessica knew Sam wasn’t fond of being the centre of attention. It was one of the things she loved about him – he didn’t show off like so many guys. But in a group of friends he was usually fine. She’d thought he’d enjoy the chance to tell a story.
After a moment, though, Sam sighed. “Okay. I know a story or two. Let’s get the atmosphere right. Someone get the lights.”
Claire sprang up and turned off the overhead lights. plunging the room into near-darkness. There was a little light coming from the mini-bar and moonlight streaming in from outside.
Jessica sat up and crossed her legs on the couch. “It was a dark and stormy night…” she intoned in her best overly-dramatic voice.
“Hey, who’s telling this story?” Brady objected.
“Oh, Sam is,” Jessica agreed lightly. “I just thought I’d set the mood.”
She heard Sam take a deep breath. “This is a true story,” he announced, “and it’s a famous one if you’re into this kind of thing, so you may have heard some of it before. It happened a long time ago, up in Nova Scotia. Eighteen seventy something, I think, when a young girl – about our age – was tormented by malicious spirits.”
“Woo-ooh!” Claire interjected, trying to sound spooky. Jessica threw a cushion at her, laughing.
“The story begins,” Sam went on, “when this girl, Esther, was attacked by a local man…” Sam went on to tell the story of the Amherst poltergeist. He spoke without trying to add extra drama, letting the events speak for themselves. He told the story as if he believed every word: that poor girl subjected to mysterious attacks in her bed every night, the strange pounding within the walls, the flying silverware. It all culminated one terrifying night when, as several witnesses testified, an invisible hand scratched a horrifying message into the wall: YOU ARE MINE TO KILL.
Jessica shuddered. “Please tell me this has a happy ending,” she begged.
Sam took her hand. “The poltergeist did try to carry out the threat. It started a fire. Esther escaped, but the local lawman didn’t believe in the supernatural. He charged her with arson and she was sentenced to prison. I guess the spirit was satisfied by that. After she was released it never happened again.”
Jessica frowned. “You’ve got a funny idea of a happy ending, Sam. No she found true love? No they all lived happily ever after?”
Sam squeezed her hand. “Jess, Esther spent years unable to sleep for fear of what could happen to her or to the people she loved. She lived with that fear every second, even when the spirit wasn’t torturing her. Having it stop is a happy ending.”
He sounded so sincere Jessica squeezed his hand back. “Of course it is. You’re right, Sam.”
After Claire offered her own ghost story, which Jessica was fairly sure she poached from one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, they all headed for their respective bedrooms. Brady had chosen a room on the opposite side of the house from Sam and Jessica’s and Claire was in the attic, so Jessica was fairly sure neither of them was likely to be able to overhear anything she and Sam might get up to.
Sam pointedly locked the door. “Don’t say you’re too tired,” he pleaded.
Jessica smiled at him. “I won’t be too tired as long as you’re not too drunk,” she promised. She began to unbutton her blouse.
Sam turned off the light.
They stood together at the window, both of them nude. The storm was long past and the waxing moon shone down on the surface of the ocean. It was beautiful and peaceful.
Jessica turned in Sam’s arms and reached up to kiss him. Sam responded eagerly, raising his hands to her hair as they kissed, long and passionate. It wasn’t the first time for them, but in a way, it felt like it. This vacation was something they were doing together, as a couple. It changed their relationship. It was a commitment. Being with Sam like this, now…to Jessica it felt almost like their wedding night, though she was pretty sure that was the furthest thing from Sam’s mind.
His hand slid warmly down her spine, rested briefly in the hollow of her back, then continued down to her buttocks. Jessica worked her hand between their bodies to stroke his erection – he definitely wasn’t too drunk. Sam swayed into her touch and whispered her name.
Then he bent down, his hands sliding to her thighs and he lifted her off the ground. Jessica let out a squeal of surprise and hooked her arms around his neck for balance. Sam’s body swayed a little but he didn’t seem in danger of falling. Jessica felt herself lifted until her face was level with his and she could wrap her legs around his waist. God, he was strong!
They kissed. Jessica held him tightly though she had no fear he would let her fall. She just loved the feel of their bodies pressed together. His hands slid to her buttocks and pulled her even tighter against him. Sam kissed her neck, nuzzling into the curve where her neck met her shoulder. Jessica let her head fall back, surrendering herself to pleasure.
Sam slowly lowered her onto the bed. He nibbled her ear and whispered, “Relax.”
If she were any more relaxed, Jessica thought, she’d be liquid. She would have said it, but could barely form the words. She ran her hands down his arms, over his chest. When she tried to touch him lower he stopped her, shook his head and smiled.
“Slow down, baby. I’ve been looking forward to this for too long.”
“To what?” She whispered the words as he kissed the hollow of her throat, one of his hands cupping her breast.
His only reply was a smile, but she got the message as Sam’s mouth moved lower. He wanted to do it all tonight and Jessica was very ready to let him.
It was almost dawn when they finally drifted off to sleep.