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Fic: Diverging Paths

 Diverging Paths
By PaBurke
Fandoms: Ghost Whisperer (Season 2.5), Supernatural (Season 2-ish)
Summary: Can two very different ways of dealing with ghosts find common ground?
Disclaimer: Not mine
Rating: G

Melinda and Jim were sharing lunch in the town square and talking about the latest issues Melinda had been having with Romero. The ghost was truly evil; in life, he convinced his followers to commit mass suicide. In death, he was convincing other ghosts not to cross over. With every new ghost that followed his direction, Romero increased in power. So much so that he was killing people in an attempt to put even more ghosts under his control. The first group killing that Melinda and Jim knew about was the flight of *&^&*. Romero had closed an air vent causing everyone –including the pilots- to pass out. No one had been awake to land the plane.

Romero hated Melinda’s life work of crossing ghosts into the light and had made several attempts on her life. Jim was horribly worried and while he didn’t really want Melinda to stop working he would like his wife out of the line of fire.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Jim and Melinda looked up and up some more. Two men stood in front of them, younger than the couple, but with miles of bad road behind them. The shorter/scruffier one was amused. He was admiring of Melinda’s figure. The taller one looked careful and apologetic.

“Sorry,” was the first word out of his mouth. “My name’s Sam and my brother and I happened to overhear you. We drove into town just to get rid of Richard Romero.”

“Salt and burned the SOB last night,” the brother added with a grin. “He should be gone.” The he looked chagrined. “Unless he had an unhealthy attachment to something, but he’s a hell of a lot weaker now.”

“Really,” Jim was positively thrilled with the idea, “You do this a lot?”

“All the freakin’ time.”

Jim stood and offered an outstretched hand to the brother. “Jim Clancy.”

The brother looked surprised at the friendly greeting but gloating. “Dean Winchester.”

“Are you busy?” Jim continued, “Because my wife and I would love to have you over for dinner.”

“We would?” Melinda echoed.

“A chance to talk with others who routinely experience ghosts?”

Melinda really wanted to say ‘no,’ but Jim looked so hopeful. There was something hard and rough and violent about the brothers that went against everything she knew about dealing with ghosts. Finally she smiled and agreed, “Of course, we’d love to have you over. Do you have any dietary restrictions?”

“We don’t want to put you out,” Sam replied.

Melinda liked Sam, she decided. “It really is no bother. Jim and I love to entertain and it would be refreshing not to be the only person to see the ghost appearing in the living room.”

“You mean your house is not warded?” Dean blurted out.

“Warded?” Melinda echoed. She felt like she was a step behind everyone else. She needed to go visit Professor Payne before going home to start dinner. He would get her caught up. What were they talking about? “My grandmother never mentioned anything about warding.”

Sam and Dean exchanged a look that seemed to say a hundred things impossible for Melinda to interpret.

“I don’t want to malign the dead,” Sam began. “But actively dealing with ghosts without having a salt barrier to retreat behind is…”

“Damn,” Dean started where Sam trailed off.

“Unwise,” Sam finished, talking over whatever insult his brother was about to say. “Dean and I would be very happy to ward your place.”

“Especially if the food’s good,” Dean added.

Sam stepped on his brother’s foot. “Please don’t mind him, we’d be pleased to ward your place. Do you own? Or are you renting?”

“We’re fixing up an old colonial,” Jim told them.

“Awesome,” Dean said. “That’ll make things easier.”

“What will the warding do?” Melinda asked.

“It should keep all ghosts out. Some are strong. Some are sneaky,” Dean mused. “But most should stay beyond your threshold. We could ward for more things if we have the pieces in the trunk.”

“I don’t know that I,” Melinda began.

“We want this,” Jim interrupted. He addressed only her. “You can talk to any ghost you want to outside the house but you get a break in our home. You get to sleep.”

Melinda barely remembered what it was like before the ghosts harassed her sleep. “It doesn’t hurt them?”

“Not as long as they don’t try to cross it,” Sam said.

Dean picked up on the explanation. “Think of it as the invisible fence for ghosts. They might get a little zap, but more likely it feels more like a magnet pushing them away.”

Melinda liked the magnet analogy. “It’s not permanent?”

“No,” Dean sounded disgruntled. “You’ll have to redo it often to keep up the strength.”

A temporary break from ghosts in her own home did sound nice. Most of her vacations involved more ghosts than regular life. Jim needed his wife’s attention focused on him, just for a couple days, or rather nights.


By the time that Melinda got home from Dr. Payne’s office, Dean, Sam and Jim were deep into a discussion of ghosts, protection and warding. They were mulling over the same thing Payne had said about plain, old salt. They pulled up some floorboards and doorstops to put the salt beneath the openings.

The men kept at it all the while Melinda fixed dinner. When Melinda announced, “dinner’s done,” all three men had to detour through the bathroom to clean up. Dinner was a riotous affair of ghost stories. Jim and Melinda found out that the Hookman and Bloody Mary had both been homicidal ghosts that could no longer hurt people. Dean and Sam found out about the ghost dog and the cowboy on the horse that looked out for Melinda.

Melinda warmed up to Dean as he shared the fact that this was the ‘family business.’ Melinda could relate. Both Sam and Dean told embarrassing ‘invisible friend’ tales. All three had been ostracized as children. Jim sat back and listened to the hair-raising stories. Melinda wasn’t comfortable with the idea of salt and burn; it was too much like capital punishment. It felt like taking the easy way out. As she heard the stories and the off-hand mentions of injuries, she thought that they escalated the violence instead of talking the ghosts down and into crossing over.

And that was before the boys brought out the guns. Granted, the salt pellets wouldn’t main or kill, but they would surely hurt the ghosts or any humans caught in the crossfire. On the other hand, Melinda had to admit that any ghost who caught their attention was extremely dangerous. Mysterious dead people in the newspaper dangerous.

Jim, who often felt helpless with her work, wanted to go out and buy a shotgun immediately. Melinda put the breaks on that. They needed to discuss that step in depth before spending money on it. She was thankful that the Winchesters didn’t offer one from their extensive collection. They did, however, give Jim a crash course in how to load his own salt pellets.

Jim offered the Winchester brothers the spare room and Melinda couldn’t argue. They had been trying to help her in their own clumsy way. Then Melinda slept through the night. She awoke more rested than she could ever remember being. The warding that Sam and Dean put down had worked. As much as she felt guilty for blocking the ghosts out of her house, she was reminded that Jim as an paramedic had to learn how to leave his patients at work. She had to learn to do the same. She had to wonder why her grandmother hadn’t told her about this warding business. It was amazing how a good night’s sleep had changed her perspective and uplifted her spirit.

For an unspoken thank-you and apology to the Winchesters, Melinda slid out of bed to cook a special breakfast. Dean looked like the type to enjoy bacon and waffles, and lots of both. She started the coffee pot immediately. Then she pawed around in the refrigerator for milk and eggs. She squeaked when she turned around and smacked into Dean.

He caught her and the eggs, without the dropping the gun in his hands. “Are you okay?” He demanded. “Did a ghost get past the wards?” His fierce eyes were trying to see the supernatural in her kitchen and not focused on her. His hands were kind and gentle on her elbows.

“No ghosts,” she reassured him.

He examined her closely and Melinda was glad that she was wearing her nicest housecoat. “Why are you up?”

“I’m cooking you guys breakfast.”

Dean blinked and Melinda hid her horror that this man could be so sharp about possible danger and so flummoxed by simple kindnesses. “You don’t need to do that.”

Melinda grinned at him. “I know, but last night was the best night sleep I’ve had in a while and I have all this energy.”

Dean grinned a bit and Melinda just knew he was about to say something that she’d want to smack him for. “I bet Jim would…”

She reached around him to the strawberries that she had planned on cutting up for a possible topping. Grabbing the biggest one, she stuffed it into Dean’s mouth before he could finish the sentence. Dean chewed the strawberry, his eyes sparkling. Melinda pushed the carton of strawberries at Dean and told him, “Slice these up. They’ll taste lovely on the waffles.”

Dean grinned around the strawberry but obeyed the order. Their quiet conversation revolved around breakfast preferences and the most heated their discussion got was comparing real maple syrup to the fake stuff. Melinda was horrified that Dean had never tasted real maple syrup and made the young man promise to try that morning. Of course, Melinda didn’t buy the fake stuff, so there wasn’t any in the house.

Dean was threatening to go to the store before everyone else woke up to buy the fake maple syrup, but Melinda knew that the proposal was spoken in jest.

Sam said to Jim. “They’ve declared a truce.”

Both Melinda and Dean twisted around to see their audience. Melinda exchanged a rather sheepish glance with Dean that they had woken up Jim and Sam. Dean brushed it off quicker, offering the men some cooked bacon. Breakfast was lighthearted and fun. By silent, mutual agreement, no one mentioned ghosts or ways to remove their influence. They agreed to disagree on it for now. Dean and Sam ate more than Melinda had considered possible, but then they worked hard most nights.

The Winchester brothers packed up their duffle bags and their car. They left their phone numbers ‘just in case.’ Melinda made them promise to stop by for dinner or the night whenever they were in New York. She couldn’t imagine how they paid for food and lodging with their jobs. They didn’t get paid because no one believed that they had done anything.

Sam agreed and Dean ignored it.

But by then Melinda was crying and Dean was pretty horrified at the sight. Melinda gave them both a hug, surprised by how quickly the brothers grew on her. Sam returned the hug warmly, Dean stiffly.

Then they climbed into their shiny black car and were gone.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
Oh nice.... might be a good explanation for how the boys decided to handle the one woman ghost by the side of the road that didn't realize she was a ghost.

BTW, you two have me hooked since I am a serious crossover addict (at least when the crossovers are as seamless as yours).
Jun. 23rd, 2011 10:10 am (UTC)
Thank you. I hadn't been focused on that episode when I wrote it, but you are correct. It does fit in.

(Yeah! Another crossover junkie!) And thanks for the kind comment.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )