When Sam finally got home, he found the blond man in front of his door, waiting in the same kneeling position he remembered from before. It looked uncomfortable and painful but it didn't seem to bother him as he waited. Actually, he looked kind of otherworldly in that position; unmovable and as if nothing could shake him off of that spot if he didn't want to move. And Sam couldn't help it, he looked at him for long seconds. After all, he'd spend almost twenty minutes trying to reassure the security guards into leaving before going back to his work and waste two hours trying to get his brain working so he could do research. He was feeling exhausted. So now he didn't know what to do with the being in front of him.
After the man disappeared, he was ready to return to an empty place, slightly sad because he had many questions he wanted to ask, so many questions he wanted to know the answer of but refrained from asking—Actually, no. He didn't think he'd have the valor to ask. The uncertainty, the fear of having his world shattered if he ever gained the resolution to hear what the other had to say… it was too much. He didn't want to believe that the stranger had actually appeared from inside the necklace he was wearing but it was true that it was the only option he could think of. And that was why now — now that he was in front of him, Sam was nervous. Watching the man refusing to meet his eyes, in a position that was more than ready to receive punishment… Well, it made him feel slightly self-conscious.
Did he look like the kind that would injure another? Sam was tall, sure, but he had always tried to make sure it didn't make him look intimidating to others. And he thought he did a good job at it, or at least he had thought so until now.
Sam's fist clenched nervously around the pieces of the bracelet he rescued from the coffee before taking a deep breath. The phrase, What do you want from me, was on the tip of his tongue, but he didn't want to make the man in front of him to see him in a worse light. He cleared his throat to make his voice softer and what came out when he opened his mouth was, "Are you human?"
It came out slightly blunt but Sam couldn't help his curiosity.
The man didn't seem to like the question as his courteous smile turned into a tight line. When he answered, there was certain disgust in his tone. "I am most certainly not a human," he said. The almost sneer surprised Sam, but the man recovered quickly, politeness returning to his features. "What I am is not of importance, master. All that matters is what I can provide you."
Suddenly nervous, Sam scratched the back of his neck. "I didn't mean to offend you by that human comment, really." He took his hand away from his neck and glanced at it for a moment before extending it towards the other. "I should've done this a while ago, but—Hi, I'm Sam Winchester."
"I am already aware of my master's name."
When no other movement or sound came from the man, Sam frowned. "Could you please look at me while we're talking? It creeps me out that you're in that position. Please."
The man blinked before slowly looking up, their eyes meeting for the first time. The intensity of his gaze made a shiver that was all survival instinct scream 'Run' as something like fear wanted to take over his body. If Sam had thought before that the man was a human, his gaze obliterated that presumption. His eyes didn't look human at all. Too ancient. Too alien and all-knowing. Sam felt like an ant ready to be stepped on and the funny part was that he was standing, towering over the still-kneeling man.
"Is it better this way, master?" the stranger said with obvious sarcasm, seemingly completely aware of the emotions he had caused.
Sam swallowed the lump in his throat, steeling his resolve. The smirk on the blond's faded when he saw the hand still extended in his direction for him to shake. The man tilted his head, looking in deep thought as if he didn't seem to know why his hand was so close to him. Sam tried to smile when the blond's eyes lit in understanding. With hesitation, he followed Sam's actions and aligned his palm against his, pressing them together. It was weird so Sam tried to adjust their grip so they could shake their hands normally. Sam then pulled him up, squeezing once before letting his hand go.
"Let's sit on the couch, okay?"
The man hummed softly, still looking down at his hand before replying with an "As my master wishes."
When it seemed that he was going to wait until Sam walked first inside, Sam complied, sighing as he went towards the living room, the man following close behind. There, the stranger chose the smallest armchair, big enough for only one to fit, but instead of sitting on the soft cushions, he chose the empty space of floor in front of it. Luckily this time he didn't kneel, choosing to cross his legs, both hands resting on his lap. It made him look oddly innocent. That is, if you didn't count the intense eyes and the deadly air that surrounded him and made one feel like prey.
Sam looked down at the bracelet in his hand; guilt engulfed him as he saw the small shining gems glinting next to the gold of the chain. "I think I found all the pieces. I have friend who can help me fix it so don't worry about it."
Tilting his head, the man leaned slightly forward, enough for him to see the pieces of his bracelet on Sam's hand. His eyes went from his palm to Sam's eyes, not understanding.
"It was my fault it broke," Sam explained. "Well, okay, no. It was kind of yours for startling me, but yeah, also my fault. It seems… really expensive."
He didn't answer him, uncertainty and wariness clear in his eyes.
Sam placed the pieces on the small table between them, not sure how to continue if the other didn't at least try to participate in the conversation. "You haven't told me your name yet."
The man's eyes instantly grew alert but he blinked once and then the expression was gone, replaced by a calm and composed one instead. "My name is whatever my master chooses."
"That can't be right. You must have your own name... right?"
"Yes," he answered but didn't add anything else. Sam sighed.
"Can you at least tell me what are you?"
"I am the one bound to the necklace you now wear. You are the one that paid respect to—"
"Respect? You mean when I cleaned it with that cloth?"
The man went silent. Sam noticed the annoyance in his faint scowl.
"Yes," he replied. "Now I am here to grant you anything you desire."
Sam blinked. It was pulling at a straw, something too fantastical and irrational to be true, but the puzzle was forming, and he could see it. Slowly and slightly faint, yes, but still there.
"Wait. Are you… Are you a genie?" The man looked blankly at him. "You know, those beings that grant wishes?"
The man hummed. "It would not surprise me if you humans came with a name. So then, yes, I think that might the current human term for what I am."
A genie. A genie was sitting in front of him as had just told him he would grant any wish. That was too much for Sam's exhausted brain. He needed to backpedal right the fuck now. He couldn't believe the confirmation he just heard, it was too fantastical. Though there have been hints. Right? His brain was still processing the information, trying to find the head and tails. He had expected magic, of course. It had took him a while but he was willing to consider the existence of magic. But this? He wasn't prepared for this. It didn't sound feasible at all.
Sam shook his head. Not yet. There must be something else he wasn't seeing. He needed all the information to be able to reach some conclusion, but for now, he'd go with it. The man in front of him was a genie. So what if he hadn't came out from a lamp? Apparently, necklaces were what was in for genies and that's what he had now. Sam wanted to scoff at how bizarre this whole situation was.
He needed to focus and work with what he had. It was probably a good thing he had always been someone pretty quick at adapting in odd situations. And the current situation was leaving him with three wishes for himself... Or maybe not.
"So I've got three wishes like in Aladdin?" he asked cautiously, expecting the other to correct or fill more information.
"I do not have any information about who this Aladdin is."
Oh, right. Sam scratched the back of his head. "It's a movie. I don't remember much but there was a genie there like you that helped the main protagonist, Aladdin. The genie gave him only three wishes and there were certain rules for the wishes. Like, you couldn't wish for someone to fall in love. Or resurrect the dead. There were others, too, I think."
"There is not another 'genie' that I am aware of," the man said, a faint scowl forming between his brows. "There is no other with the same burden."
Well, Sam thought, then he must have been the origin of the myth. "And about the three wishes? Are they true or it was just a part of the movie?"
"A lie, too. You only get one wish from me and only one rule applies."
Sam perked up. One wish. Even if he didn't believe it yet, he still had one wish. He needed to be cautious though. "What rule?"
"I choose if I want to fulfill said wish," the apparent genie said, and there was something strained in the curl of his lips. Something dark and sad.
"… So I can ask whatever I want but if you don't want to carry out my wish then I'll have to change it?"
The being in front of him gave him a sharp smirk that made his white teeth glint, smugness pouring out of it. "Yes."
There was already a wish on the tip of his tongue that he wanted to let out. He opened his mouth, ready to say it. But then he stopped, closing his mouth, as he asked instead, "And after I ask my wish? What happens to you? Do you return to the necklace?"
The man held his chin a little higher even if he seemed slightly taken aback by the question. "Yes," he answered, "until another human pays its respect to the necklace and I am bound to them instead."
Sam placed both elbows on his thighs, using his hands as a support for his head. He had a wish, but it didn't seem fair. He didn't remember exactly the words the genie said in Aladdin but recalled that he was unhappy living inside the lamp.
The picture of a chair came into mind, but...
He looked at the man in front of him. How long had he been inside that collar? Was Sam capable of confining another being? But what if this being in front of him was dangerous? What if by opening the metaphorical Pandora's box by freeing him he condemned the world? The genie in Aladdin was good and just wanted to be free to enjoy everything, but what about this one?
"Why do you doubt, master? You already have a wish you want to ask, so ask me."
Sam swallowed before he laughed nervously, trying to lighten the mood. "Why are you calling me 'master'? It's only one wish, right? You don't need to call me master for that."
The man's jaw twitched and Sam knew he had made a mistake. Even as subdued as he tried to look, the man didn't like not being taken seriously.
"Yes, I have. You are my master. I am bound to you and I shall serve your commands until your wish is fulfilled."
Sam leaned back in the chair, startled and horrified. Yeah, he had made a mistake. "That's… That's just awful. Some wouldn't want to ask a wish that way. There must be people that—"
"Yes, human beings sometimes do not need a wish; sometimes they just need someone under their command to serve them. Someone who has the strength and will never grow tired."
"How can people like that exis—?" He stopped. He knew people like that existed. He hadn't worked in a law firm for long but he had already seen what people would do to get ahead. He had chosen his career to push back against this, after all.
Sam glanced away. "It's not fair."
The man stood up, walking around the small table to kneel before him, and this time he didn't look away from him. Sam tensed but before he could say anything, the man spoke. This time his smile was less sharp and slightly hopeful. "You can ask me your wish and be done with this if you want, master. I know you have one. If you do not wish to repeat the actions of my previous masters then let me return to my prison."
Sam was afraid of him. Of those eyes and tense jaw. Something told him that if he let that being free, humanity would end, but he couldn't just—He couldn't.
"I'm not sure what to ask," he forced past his lips. And the man knew he was lying. His face closed, became stone, his stillness making him look like a statue. But then he closed his eyes and bowed his head.
"Then I shall wait until you have a wish for me to grant. But until that time comes, I will serve you. I will only exist to fulfill your desires and carry out your will without tiring or dying. I will only obey your word, my master."
He then vanished.
"This must have cost a fortune," Jess whispered almost reverently, finally leaving the loupe on the table and looking up after having watched the bracelet in her hands for five solid minutes. She turned the jewelry around with a delicacy only her slender fingers were capable of. "The detail and composition… I'm pretty sure this is the real deal."
Sam sighed. He glanced at the small brushes and the polishing cloth she had lend him a while ago next to some other things to clean the bracelet better, all scattered on the table. "Yeah, I figured. I need to fix it; that's why I called you."
Jess threw him a look, catching the guilt in his voice. "You need to? I don't recall you wearing jewelry, Sam."
"No, no. Don't worry," Sam blurted quickly, knowing well how her mind worked and how protective Jess was. "It belongs to a friend."
She whistled softly. "Your friend must have a lot of money. This is antique."
Unconsciously, Sam's hand went towards the necklace under his shirt. Should he tell Jess? He shook his head and stood up, grabbing the plates from the table and ordering them into a stack before taking them to the kitchen. Jess followed him and quickly took the plates from his hands.
"Hey," Jess complained, "you're supposed to be the guest. Now, go and sit somewhere."
"You're just going to use the dishwater. I don't know why you get upset."
Jess stuck her tongue out at Sam and he couldn't help but chuckle. "So do you think you can help me?"
"Yeah, don't worry. I have a friend who works in a jewelry store and owes me a favor. I'll take it to him."
Sam felt a small weight leave his shoulders. "Have I mentioned how incredible you are?"
"Not lately, but you're welcome to do it more often. Anyway, what's with you? You've had your head in the clouds lately; I was worried you were smoking weed or something. And now, well, you don't seem… I don't know, as vibrant anymore. Have you been sleeping, or are you pulling all-nighters again?"
The stack of papers waiting for him on his desk wasn't appealing at all, but he had already worked on a schedule that would let him work and get some free time. Now he had some to spare so he took advantage. But he had to admit that he had already spent a few hours more than he was supposed at Jess's so he'd have to get to bed late today. Not that he'd tell her that, of course.
"Hey, can you lend me that loupe you have to inspect jewelry?"
"Do you have more that you haven't told me about?" She raised an eyebrow. Sam was ready to create another excuse but her expression melted into one full of mischief. She snorted. "Don't worry, Sam. Here, take it. Just be careful with it."
The necklace looked normal. Or as normal as any other piece of jewelry he had seen. He had been using the loupe Jess gave him to inspect the pendant more closely for already quite some time. After cleaning it with that cloth the first day, the brightness of it had increased, making it easier to notice anomalies. But there was none to be found. Sam turned it around. He should have asked Jess more about how to inspect jewelry, but he probably expected something more visible that showed what made it special.
Did he really expect to see magic surrounding it?
Well, it wasn't as if there was something magical about his first encounter with the jewelry, actually. It wasn't a pull or some kind of energy that pulled him towards that necklace. There wasn't any magic, spark in the air, or an 'it must be mine' thought invading him that compelled him to buy it. He just saw it, thought about the similarities it had with the one he had given Dean when they were kids, and bought it. Easy and normal as any other previous purchase he had made before.
Maybe if his brother hadn't called him that morning, making him remember their old adventures, he wouldn't have bought it. Not even cast a second glance at it. Maybe if it hadn't looked so dirty under the light of his kitchen, he wouldn't have tried to clean it either.
"Though if I hadn't… who knows how long that genie would have been inside?" Sam sighed, putting aside his tools. "I wish I could learn more about this necklace."
Sam saw a bright glint appear in the pendant. His hand moved to touch it but there was a papers that stopped him.
"I will not grant you that wish."
Sam blinked at the sudden apparition standing in front of him. The genie was tall, just a couple inches shorter than him. "That—That wasn't the wish I wanted."
The genie hummed. "Then I would be more careful with my wording."
Sam thought about it. He had said the word 'wish'. Was it only that one word that formalized his request into an official wish? If he said, "I wish to eat breakfast," would the genie take it as his wish? Sam had to be careful. He glanced down at the necklace in his hand. "Can you hear everything I say when I'm wearing this?"
The genie shook his head. "Only when I feel your desire for something I am able to open my prison enough to listen to the outside world"—he bowed, clearly preparing to leave—"But if my master has no need of me, then I shall return."
Sam felt the usual rip in the air that indicated the genie was going to disappear and he moved forward before really thinking about it. "Wait," Sam blurted out as soon as a he felt puff of wind against his face. The man hadn't moved and the sound of ruffled papers stopped. "If you want," he started again, not sure what to say. He rubbed the back of his neck and tried once more, "If you like you can be outside, too. You don't need to wait for me to call you."
The genie narrowed his eyes and didn't answer him. He disappeared soon after and Sam put the necklace around his neck once again.
Glancing once more at the food he had prepared, Sam nodded to himself. It had been a week since his last conversation with the genie and he hadn't seen him since. He probably would have tried to talk to him again before this but his schedule turned busy the last couple of days. He was lucky the judge gave his team more time after some new facts were discovered about , and that it was enough to warrant him some rest after doing all the necessary paperwork. Or, well, at least enough time to go out with some friends and buy some ingredients to cook dinner.
Sam sighed as he looked down at the necklace and poked it a few times, not knowing if it was going to work out what he wanted.
"Hey, can you get out?"
It did work. The genie appeared in front of him in a sound of ruffled papers. He sat at the table, not before bowing deeply at him, though. Sam's eye twitched. He thought he wouldn't see that pose after the last time. It seemed he wasn't that lucky. "Please stop doing that. It's really weird." He shook his head and signaled the food on the table. "I wanted to talk with you. I cooked some food for us to eat while—"
"Food is not necessary to me."
Sam blinked. Well, that was blunt. "So you don't eat?"
"It is not necessary for me."
"Oh." Sam looked down at the plates. "Perhaps I should have asked before cooking all this."
Now he was going to have to eat all of what he had prepared. Another glance at the table told him it was too much food to eat all by himself. Perhaps he could call some friends or simply fill his refrigerator. He'd have more free time to work if he didn't have to cook for week. Or maybe two. He might have gone a little overboard.
"What do you want to talk to me about?"
Sam narrowed his eyes, suspicious. The genie's demeanor seemed be different this time. He was now sitting at the small table, a bored expression on his face as he used a hand to prop up his chin.
"Please stop calling me 'master,' too. Sam is fine," Sam sighed as he started to pull some Tupperware from his counter. "You seem more... comfortable," he added, not quite sure if it was true even if the genie didn't kneel anymore.
"I am not. I merely realized that you are easily consumed by guilt."
"What do you mean?"
"That until the bracelet you broke is returned to me, you will not ask anything from me. Your guilt will not allow it."
Sam frowned. "You sound really sure of that."
The genie didn't physically stiffen, but the air around him did. It was weird and Sam wasn't sure how he noticed it, but before he could dwell more into it, the feeling was gone, the genie's gaze going from the food to Sam's face, an eyebrow raised.
"Okay," Sam continued, "maybe you're right. I do feel guilty. But even if I didn't, I don't think I'd be able to just order someone around. Delegate? Sure."
"You say that now, but you are young. Moralities are quick to change, even among the humans that call themselves good people. All of them can turn to evil given the proper circumstances."
"… You have a really weird view of humans."
The air suddenly felt too heavy to breathe and Sam felt a chill run along his spine at the smirk forming on the genie's face. He almost recoiled, but then he realized that the expression—a murderous one, more than capable of making others run away— wasn't directed at him. He tore his gaze momentarily from the genie but it didn't help to take the feeling away.
"I have known your kind for the longest time. One could say I even witnessed its birth."
"You're very old then," Sam said carefully, placing the new information about his supernatural tenant into his brain for him to think about later.
The intensity in the genie's eyes grew but he didn't say anything. His jaw was tightly shut.
"You know, you don't seem like someone who serves. It doesn't suit you," Sam said, not quite sure why he was voicing the thought that had bothered him for a while, but it was true. The man looked more as someone used to be obeyed. When he knelt and bowed, it felt unnatural, stiff. But in moments like this one, when he showed his power, it was as if something clicked in its place. It always disappeared too fast, there only long enough for Sam to catch a brief glimpse of the genie's true nature.
"It does not matter whether it suits me. It simply is how it is. Now, if my master does not need me, perhaps I should return to the necklace and wait for your orders?"
"You never came out, right?" Sam asked. The genie turned to look at him. "I told you that if you wanted you could come out. Why haven't you?"
The genie, if it was possible, looked more annoyed. "That was a suggestion, not an order. Suggestions do not matter. There are no loopholes with my imprisonment."
Sam felt sick but he swallowed it down. "So if I ordered you to come out whenever you like…?"
"Is that a suggestion, Sam?"
Pressing his lips into a thin line, Sam breathed through his nose. "No, it isn't. I order you to come out whenever you like." The genie's smile widened. "But you can't harm anyone," Sam added. "Or use your magic."
The genie huffed but seemed accepting.
Sam nodded, satisfied. "So, do you want me to show you my apartment?"
The next day, when Sam got home from work, he found the genie standing in front of his door, a hand held high to receive his bag while the smell of food was clear in the apartment.
After a long talk about what he was certainly not expected to do for him, Sam began to see the genie more often. He still came to greet him at the door with a bow but at least he no longer tried to carry Sam's bag. He had also started to wander from room to room aimlessly, seemingly content with only being able to walk. He also spent a long, long time in front of the TV when he realized Sam wasn't going to ask for anything, clearly confused by many things but within an alarmingly short span of time he began to learn and rapidly understand the nuances of human life and popular culture.
The company was pleasant for someone who didn't have a lot of time to spare to be social, even if it came from a being who sometimes looked ready to destroy the world.
They didn't talk often, the genie was still clearly wary of him, but a few sentences of conversation were exchanged every once in a while. It widened Sam's social abilities as well since he usually only went to eat lunch with his co-workers; mostly Meg, though sometimes Ash, Ellen's paralegal. He didn't have the common personality for the job but Sam couldn't deny he was damn good in what he did—The dude was a genius.
He also talked with Chuck, the landlord, every morning. Chuck always invited Sam to eat breakfast to ask for opinion of the book he was currently writing.
And that was how Sam found out that the genie also spent time outside. Apparently, there had been rumors of a man walking in weird-looking pants without a shirt and shoes, seemingly unfazed at the cold of November. Chuck had told him he heard it happened during the nights but that he hadn't believed it until he saw the blond man in the park as he went for groceries one morning.
Sam seriously didn't know what to think about it. He had told the genie he could come out of the necklace, and it hadn't been explicitly said to stay inside his apartment but the thought of him wandering around outside still made Sam nervous. But then, being restricted to the apartment, unable to walk outside, wouldn't that be the same sort of imprisonment? Same thing, different package.
Yeah, he should just let the genie be. Though Sam should lend or buy him some clothes so people would stop calling him the weird crazy man. He had asked him once about the clothes, as the man didn't possess the usual Asian features to be wearing them but he hadn't answered him and Sam hadn't pushed. But what about now? He didn't know if the genie's walks took him far from the apartment or if he preferred to stay close. Even if these streets were safe, there were others that weren't and Sam had told him previously he couldn't use his magic while being outside. He couldn't harm others, either. It turned him into an easy target.