Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.

A/N: Meg showing up is always a good sign, right? ... Right?


The Fourth Year

Meg is… different. She's a fire fueled by rebellion and radical ideas that Sam can't deny are true. He knows they are, though he can't explain why.

She takes him to a cafe on the edge of campus in her sleek car that runs so quietly, Sam barely hears it (and his mind can't shake off the vague image of a car not nearly so modern or quiet). She picks a table in a corner and buys a couple drinks, a few pastries, and a sandwich for each of them.

"I picked out what I like," she says. "Hope that's not a problem."

Sam shakes his head. "Not like I remember what I like anyway."

"No?"

"I was in an accident when I was seventeen. I can't remember anything from before it," Sam says.

"You don't exactly come off as the brain damaged type," Meg says, taking a large bite from one of the pastries with a red fruit filling, wiping away the filling that escapes the side of the pastry and trickles down the side of her mouth. "I guess that'd explain your limp, though."

"Yeah," Sam says. "The doctors have done scans and just about every test they could think of, but they say there's no reason for me not to remember. It's been long enough at this point that I've given up on hoping that any memories will come back."

He doesn't quite understand why he's telling Meg, who's practically a stranger, so much about this strange life of his, but he can't stop himself. Something about her draws him in and makes him feel comfortable, like he can trust her. Like she's an old friend he can't remember having.

"That's a shame," Meg says. She sounds sincere enough, but there's something else tinging her tone that Sam can't quite put his finger on.

"It is what it is," Sam says. "My parents have been great about all of it. The lack of memories doesn't seem to bother them at all."

"You don't find that strange."

Sam takes a drink of the creamy, sugary concoction that Meg gave him to buy time to answer. Of course he finds it strange, but maybe that's just the kind of people his parents are. They go with the flow and accept what can't be changed.

"I guess it's strange, but maybe they don't want to freak me out, you know? Like, they don't want me to see how they really feel about it because it's not my fault that I can't remember."

"Maybe," Meg says.

"Anyway," Sam says, "you were going to tell me all about that other world, weren't you? The one filled with creatures and darkness."

"Trying to get straight to the point. I can admire that." Meg takes a deep breath before she continues. "It's taken me a long time to piece together a history for supernatural creatures, but I think I've done a pretty decent job. Are you ready?"

Sam nods. He's ready. Hell, he's been ready since she first offered to open his eyes to the world he doesn't know exists. He's so ready that he can feel every nerve in his body humming with anticipation while his brain churns out impossible stories that might not be as impossible as he believes.

"In the beginning, there were angels," she says. "Archangels, and I'm pretty sure you've heard of them if you're the least bit religious. The only two I'm going to mention are Lucifer and his older brother, Michael."

"Wait, angels are—"

"Yeah. Angels are real," Meg says. "Makes you wonder why they don't help out humans, doesn't it?"

Sam nods. "They're supposed to be benevolent, aren't they?"

He remembers stumbling across a bible verse while he was working on his homework last year for a philosophy class, and he remembers how it sparked enough interest for him to check out a copy from the library and read it from cover to cover. Sure, he dreamed for a few weeks that an angel would come and heal him, returning his memories and complete mobility, if he prayed. But nothing changed, and that hope dimmed a little more each day until it faded away altogether.

"Well, they aren't exactly what people claim they are, I can tell you that much," Meg says. "Anyway, the short version is that Lucifer created the first demon by twisting a human soul to the point that it could never be considered anything other than monstrous and evil. Michael, as per God's wish, cast him into a cage in Hell, and Lucifer is still there today, waiting for the moment of his release."

"How do you know all this?"

"My introduction to this world wasn't a fun one," Meg says. "I came across a demon—or he came across me, depending on how you look at it—and he explained about angels and demons and how he's working to release Lucifer again while he tortured me. Turned out he just needed the blood of a virgin, but he wanted to have fun with it, you know?"

"I'm… sorry," Sam says, because what else can he say in response to that? It sounds insane, but he believes her. What would she gain from spinning lies that crazy?

"I get it. It's not the most pleasant or rational thing to hear or even think about, but I learned to adapt and protect myself from that world. And let's just say I've made damn sure that no demon will find my blood worthwhile again."

"I am sorry, though," Sam says. "That you had to go through it all. That you had to find out about the world in that way instead of having someone explain it to you over lunch at a cafe."

"Moving on," Meg says. "Angels and demons are just the tip of this iceberg, Sam."

Sam settles into his seat, ready to listen and learn from her enrapturing words.


"I've double-checked and triple-checked," John says. "Lawrence is definitely having a demon problem. Electrical storms. Cattle deaths. The signs are all there."

"Maybe—"

"No, Dean. There isn't a maybe. We have to go back home. I know you don't want to—and believe me, I don't either—but we have to. This might be the end to it all," John says.

"What if it is?" Dean asks. "What if it is the end to it all? What are we supposed to do after? Find hunt after hunt until we don't make it out alive?"

"I don't know, Dean," John says. "Let's handle one thing at a time. Go pack and get a good night's sleep. We'll leave in the morning and meet up with Missouri in the afternoon."

Dean doesn't make any indication that he's going to move, silently standing still, but a gentle pat from John right between his shoulder blades sends him into motion. He raises one foot, then the other, and climbs the steps slowly. The air is thick and weighs down on him, leaving him feeling like he's walking through water or moving in a dream.

If only all of this was a dream.

In his room, he doesn't pack. He never unpacks anymore, not finding any point in removing his clothes from his bag only to refill it a day or two later. It's not like he has that many possessions. He wonders where Sam's possessions are, but he knows they were most likely stolen or tossed aside when someone came across the place he must have left them since he never went back to collect them.

He considers, for only a second, that he should go back to every motel in the area of the werewolf that killed Sam. He should go and ask the front desk if they'd ever seen him, holding up one of the old pictures in which Sam never smiled, not really. But too much time has passed since then, and he doubts anyone would remember a kid from that long ago, especially considering Sam always tried his best to avoid attracting attention.

He wonders why they never thought to search for his stuff earlier, if only to keep his possessions are proof that he was alive once.

Sleep doesn't come easily for him that night, not with the knowledge that he's heading back to the ashes of a life he lived for four years in the morning.

Nothing good can come of this.

Nothing good at all.


They're still at the cafe when the sun sets, and Sam realizes that he missed all of his afternoon classes while he listened to Meg paint an elaborately vivid—and terrifying—world with her words as the brush and his mind as the canvas.

His phone vibrates in his pocket as he takes another sip of a freshly made drink, feeling like he's consumed half of the menu throughout the day. Meg pays for each order without complaint, but Sam can't help feeling bad about it. He doesn't have money. He doesn't have a job or an allowance. His parents pay for what he needs, and he's not sure how well he'd do in the working world without memories or a body that functions at one-hundred percent.

He pulls his phone from his pocket and shoots an apologetic look at Meg, but she just shrugs and focuses on her plate.

"Hello?"

"Sam?" It's his dad. "Where are you, son? It's time to go home."

"Sorry, Dad," he says. "I made a friend. She took me to lunch, and we sort of lost track of time."

His dad sighs. "I don't mind that you're making friends, Sam, but you have to tell me when you're going off campus and when you're going to be late. You know I worry about you, especially after your accident."

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking," Sam says. "I'll be home by dinner, okay?"

"Do you need me to come pick you up?"

Sam looks across the table at Meg, who mouths that she'll give him a ride home.

"No, I can get a ride."

"If you change your mind, call me. Otherwise, I'll see you at home."

"Okay. Bye, Dad."

The call ends, and Sam knows that his dad is more than a little miffed with him. It was an honest mistake; he didn't mean to lose track of the time and forget to let his dad know that he left campus.

Yet, he can't deny the thrill it brought him to do something he knew he shouldn't. Meg's spark of rebellion, it seems, has spread to him, and it's a fire that cannot be put out. It's a dangerous thing, threatening to make ashes out of all he knows in life, but it feels right to make his own decisions. It feels right to be away from his parents and to regain a fraction of the independence he never remembers having, if he ever had it in the first place.

"Guess it's time to get you home," Meg says.

"Yeah…"

Meg stands up and collects the garbage from the table, tossing it into the nearest trashcan. "No need to sound so excited."

Sam stands up with a hand from Meg and shrugs. "It's just that I've never gotten to do something like this on my own. Well, not that I remember. I don't really want it to end."

"It doesn't have to be a one-time deal," Meg says. "I'll see you in class, I'm sure. We can trade phone numbers and figure something out."

"Will you tell me more about the supernatural next time?"

"Sure," Meg says. "Maybe I'll even find a haunted house in the area for us to visit."

"Really?"

Meg laughs a bit. "Yeah, why not? It'd be fun."

"So, it's a date?"

The question leaves his mouth before he can stop it, and he feels the blood rush to his face as his cheeks heat up.

"I, uh, I didn't mean… I just…"

Meg shoves his shoulder, not putting any real force behind it. "You're overthinking things. It's a date."

He has a date, and it's not a topic that he's given much consideration (and the remnants of his injuries keeping his self-esteem low doesn't help), but he feels lighter. He feels giddy and electric.

It crosses his mind that he needs to tell someone, but it's not his parents he wants to tell. He doesn't have friends to tell, but there's the image of someone he knows would be proud of him. He just can't fully form that image in his mind. He can't reach it, and every time he gets close, it slips away and sends a bolt of pain through his skull.

"You okay, Sam?"

Sam didn't notice that he stopped walking at some point. He shakes the odd thoughts of people he can't remember from his head and closes the distance that's formed between himself and Meg.

"Yeah," he says. "It's nothing."


Missouri's house is unassuming and sneaks up on him. If Dad hadn't known which house, exactly, it is, Dean is sure they would've been driving around Lawrence all afternoon and well into the night.

There's nothing that makes him think a psychic lives in this house. It's homey and clean and everything that Dean thinks his house would've been had it not burned with his mother inside of it.

Missouri, too, is not what he expected. She's got a lot of authority packed into her for a small woman, and Dean doesn't question her when she orders them into the living room and has them take a seat on the couch, threatening to whack them with a wooden spoon if they dared to put their feet on her coffee table.

She returns to the room with mugs of coffee for them, and Dean is thankful for the warmth to ease the eternal chill of his organs in Sam's absence. Coffee is also one of the only flavors that still register with his taste buds. Bitter.

How fitting.

Missouri takes a seat in the chair across from them. "John… I'm so sorry for your loss."

John nods. "Thank you."

"He was such a sweet baby," Missouri says. "Still innocent about the world around him and the darkness it held, despite being the victim of it at such a young age. I wish I could've seen him again before…"

"Yeah," John says. "I'm sorry I never came back, but Sam did keep that innocence. Even after he learned about the supernatural, he still had something about him. A purity that attracted evil."

"I'm not surprised. I didn't say anything at the time, but I'd have bet my life that he had powers, too," Missouri says.

"What? He wasn't a psychic," Dean says.

"Oh, but he was, Dean. Some psychics' power will remain dormant for decades, and some never unlock those powers at all," Missouri says. "That's not what you boys came here for, though."

"It's not," John says. "So, tell us what you know about the demons."

"Probably not much more than you know," Missouri says. "Something started feeling dark in Lawrence about two or three years ago, but that seemed to be faint and faded rather quickly. There weren't many signs that pointed to demons until a few months ago. That's when things really kicked up to the point that there had to be some nasty creatures moving into the area. Why? Well, I don't know the answer to that one."

"Do you think it could be the demon who killed Mary?"

"I can't know for sure, John," Missouri says. "But the darkness that I felt in the city a few years back is nothing compared to the evil that arrived a few months ago. That, whatever it is, is true evil. A true evil that's very reminiscent of what I felt when you took me to your old home after the fire."

"Why else would it return to Lawrence if it didn't want to draw out me and Dean?"

"I don't know. Sometimes, there isn't any rhyme or reason to evil. But if I had to guess, I would say that it might be preparing to destroy another family. This sort of evil is smart, and it's going to take its time if it means doing the job properly."

"I'm not gonna let that happen," John says. "I'm not letting it destroy any other lives."

"Then, you better hurry in finding it," Missouri says. "It's already had months to prepare. There's no telling how soon it'll be ready to strike, or where it'll strike."

Dean swears that he can see his father's resolve visibly harden in the set of the lines on his face and the way he squares his shoulders. He's been given a mission, and he always functions the best when he has a clear objective to accomplish.

"We'll find it," John says. "We have to."

Missouri gives him a half-smile and says, "I hope you're right."

Dean wishes that he could hold onto the certainty of his father. He wishes he could feel something other than the numbing emptiness that has consumed his life since that damn werewolf hunt. At least, before he found evidence of Sam's death, he could still hold onto hope in some form.

Now, he only hopes this hunt will be the end of it all.

Finally.


A/N: Please leave a review!