::This is my last chapter of Vengeance. I hope you hang with me while I finish up editing the sequel (Ashes)...it'll be good, I promise. PLEASE leave a review and let's me know what you think! Thank you so much for reading! Love and internet thugs,

the girl with the dinosaur tattoo::

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Chapter 35

Dean

In all the terror that I have seen and experienced in my life, losing Grace is easily the most painful; and that is including losing Sammy a couple of times. I can't put into words what the hollow feeling is like in my chest; how it hurt to breathe and how it's physically painful to look at my girls, especially with how much Lib and Glory look like Grace. I don't know if it's age or experience, or both, but I can't even really react the way I want to: scream and yell, throw shit and punch holes in my walls.

I just don't have it in me.

The waves of numbness keep returning as Grace's voice echoes through my head over and over again…Don't you dare come after me. It was the first telepathic thought she had sent me in months and it goes against everything that I am not to take off in the Impala, force my way into Heaven, and drag my wife home. But again, I just don't have it in me.

Sammy came down the steps of the house and into the field holding Serra's hand, leading her the same way I had led the girls down the steps. Her face was gray and blank, staring ahead enough to navigate the steps, but not really seeing anything else. I could see Cas glance at me out of the corner of my eye; his face creased with worry.

He had managed to reappear at the house yesterday, finally freeing himself of whatever curse Delilah had hit him with during the battle. Seeing Grace's limp form on our bed may have been too much for Cas. He hadn't said a word since yesterday. None of us really had.

I tried talking to Lib and Glory before Sam went out to help Santiago and Tulley build the funeral pyre. I searched for the words to tell my kids that their mother wasn't coming home and that their brother was still missing, and I'm pretty sure I got it all out, but Liberty seemed unperturbed.

She smiled gently at me and hugged me fiercely, whispering, "It's okay, Daddy. I know Momma's not here."

I'm not entirely sure what that meant, but I didn't know how to correct her.

As Serra and Sam found their places next to Levi and Jody, who held Charlie, I licked my lips and nodded, convincing myself to take the next step and light the pyre. I dropped Glory's hand and reached into my pocket, searching for the books of matches I had shoved into my jeans. Gasping for breath and barely holding it together, I took a step forward and finally lifted my head to stare at my wife.

Grace was just as gorgeous as she had been the day we met. Her blonde hair fell around her face in loose waves and her body was wrapped tightly in a white sheet, hiding the mortal wounds she had suffered in the hallway collapse. As I lit a book of matches, I closed my eyes and whispered, "I'm so sorry, Gracie."

The pyre caught quickly.

There were stifled sounds of grief on all sides. Donna and Jody leaned on each other as they held Faith and Charlie. Sammy wiped his face with one hand as he gripped his wife's hand with the other. Tulley, Fred, Santiago, and the other hunters had removed hats and sunglasses, holding them across their chests in varying degrees of respect.

Serra was silent. Her eyes were dry and vacant, staring into the flames with a hollow look. My girls watched quietly as well, but still didn't look disheartened.

Momma's not here.

I stared down at Liberty and sighed, knowing that I was about to try and raise three girls on my own, attempt to track down and rescue my fourth kid, keep a mechanics' shop open and earning enough money to support those four kids, help Sam keep Serra sane, and somehow do all of this without my wife.

I almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. I had no idea what I was doing without Grace.

Dean

It had been almost two weeks since the funeral and somehow, I was surviving. I had thrown myself into the routine of making meals, taking the girls to school, completing ongoing tornado repairs to our house as well as Sam and Serra's, picking the girls up from school, checking on the shop, and breathing. Somehow, we were all still functional and I didn't slow down enough to allow myself to feel the pain of Grace's absence.

It was late one Wednesday night and I counted the reassuring flicks of Grace's wedding ring hitting me in the chest, hanging from the silver chain around my neck as I washed the dishes. It was a mantra that kept me moving, reminding me that my kids were depending on me.

Tulley, Fred, and Santiago were still camping out in the barn, checking in with me occasionally, and still hunting Delilah, looking for Everett. I wanted to be out there with them, but Santi convinced me to allow them to do the legwork and concentrate on the rest of my kids. I knew he was right, so I allowed it.

I didn't turn as Sam came into the kitchen, so I didn't see firsthand the panicked look on his face.

"Hey," I muttered. "Found some more bricks this afternoon on my way home from picking up Lib. We can finish your mantle tomorrow if you want."

Sam didn't reply immediately, so I turned to see what he was doing, still up to my forearms in sudsy water. I turned, and seeing the look on his face, pulled my hands from the water and grabbed a towel. "What, Sam? What's the matter?"

"You seen Serra?" he asked, glancing around the living room.

I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head, questioning. "Seen Serra? Dude, she's been a statue for two weeks. She's not where you left her?"

Sammy shook his head slowly, "I went to bathe Charlie and put her down, and when I got back downstairs, she was gone."

"Gone," I repeated. "What does that mean? She hasn't so much as given me a sarcastic comment since—" I shook my head, skipping the last part of that sentence. "She hasn't even moved on her own in two weeks, Sam. Where could she have gone?"

"I don't know!" Sam ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes. "Her truck is still here, though. She didn't leave the property."

I licked my lips, closing my eyes as I realized that it wasn't Santi's truck I heard about twenty minutes ago. It was my wife's metal-flake, deep purple Chevelle.

"She took the Chevelle," I muttered, shaking my head. "I heard it. Didn't occur to me that it was Serra. Thought it was Santi."

Sam sighed heavily, leaning his head back and staring at the ceiling. "Where would she have gone?"

I tossed the hand towel on the counter and took a deep breath. "Hold on, hold on," I started, holding out my hand, "don't get your panties in a twist. We'll go out and look for her. Tulley, Fred, and Santiago are here. They can stay with the kids while we go out and look."

Dean

I acted like I didn't know where Serra may have gone as Sammy and I split up to look for her. I didn't want Sam to know that there were aspects of his wife that I understood better than he did.

But I did.

Serra and I had a lot in common; more than most in-laws did. Grace had teased us relentlessly that we were essentially the same person, right up until Serra turned it around, saying that she had married her own sister, then. I smiled at the memory of that particular argument as I turned the corner in my Impala and caught sight of the purple metal-flake paint glistening under the moonlight. As I pulled up behind the Chevelle, I cut the engine and the headlights and stared up at the church bells as they began their evening toll. Mass had just begun for the late-night parishioners, but because of the hour, there weren't many cars in the street in front of the Catholic church.

Pocketing my keys, I began the trek around the outside of the building and did what I could to control my breathing, knowing in my gut what was coming. This was a path that Sam wouldn't be able to follow; he just didn't understand her the way I did when it came to Serendipity.

The moon was full, flooding the garden with a pale blue light. The Virgin Mary statue greeted me silently as I walked past, as she had when I had discovered Grace's secret hideaway, not long after we had begun dating. Memories began slipping into my mind without permission and I swallowed back the lump of emotion that had begun to gather in my throat.

"It's nice when the bells are the only thing I can hear," Grace's voice whispered in my memory. I remembered nodding silently as an answer, pretending to understand what my wife had gone through on a daily basis before her abilities had matured.

I came to the clearing in the garden where St. Francis of Assisi stood, facing a set of benches among the roses. The back of Serendipity's head was visible in the moonlight; the burgundy highlights in her dark hair shining in the soft glow. I took a deep breath and steadied myself as I ventured towards her.

Without a word, I sat down on the bench beside my sister-in-law. Folding my hands in my lap, I stared up at the statue of St. Francis right along with her and took a deep breath. She remained still and silent, not acknowledging my presence for more than a few minutes. Finally, Serra took a gasping, ragged breath.

"I miss her," she whispered, her voice hoarse from lack of use.

"I know," I answered, still staring at the marble statue. "Me too."

"I don't know how to do anything without her," Serra continued, unmoving. "It's like I've died, right along with her."

I clenched my teeth together, swallowing hard as I listened to Serra finally acknowledge Grace's death. "You didn't though, Sere," I whispered, finally turning to stare at her. "We didn't. We're still here and the kids need us. Everett needs us to find him. Lee and Charlie need you to raise them." I shook my head slowly, searching for the words. "Grace needs us to keep living for her."

"She was supposed to be immortal," Serra continued as if I hadn't spoken. "The angels said she was immortal."

I turned physically towards Serra and furrowed my eyebrows, hating myself for telling the truth, "Her grace was sapped, Sere. Delilah did exactly what she wanted…she took her grace and made her mortal." I took a deep breath as the tears I had managed to ignore finally found my eyes. "She told us…she told me not to come after her. She needs us to continue without her."

"I don't know how."

Suddenly, Serra was on her feet, approaching the statue of St. Francis. It was the most I had seen her move in two weeks. As I watched, her sadness shifted suddenly to anger. She balled her fists and swallowed hard, gritting her teeth, and furrowing her eyebrows as she turned to stare at me.

"You—you told me you would keep her safe. You told me when you married her that you would never let anything happen to her," Serra gasped, approaching me. "You promised, Dean, and you fucking blew it."

Slowly, I stood from the bench, but remained silent, staring into her hazel eyes.

"She was supposed to be safe with you!" Serra growled, and without warning, she pushed me with both of her hands, as hard as she could. "You promised." She shoved me again, but I didn't even need to take a step back. This only seemed to piss her off. "She was supposed to be safe!" Serra took a deep breath and hit me as hard as she could across the face.

As soon as she made contact, the dam broke. Serra dissolved into a puddle of tears, and would have physically collapsed, but I opened my arms and she fell into my chest, sobbing for the first time since her sister's—my wife's death. I closed my eyes and felt my own tears finally roll down my face and into my sister's hair. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her close, and let her cry.