AN: Just a quick (done tonight, Deo volente) little story, a few short chapters because I'm tired of the plot bunny hopping around and chasing away the sheep I'm trying to count to go to sleep.

I don't own the boys, or the car, or the bunker, or anything else that falls under the banner of Supernatural-the-greatest-TV-show-in-the-history-of-the-world. I only wish.

Sam startled awake, finding himself facedown on a book. It was an all too common occurrence lately. Starting the Trials had resulted in utter exhaustion. It had also put Dean firmly in overprotective mode, which is why Sam was reading in a small, random storage room full of texts in languages that were no longer spoken. Not quite hiding. Really.

Seconds later than it normally would have, Sam realized that something had made a crash. With a muffled curse, he realized he'd knocked a coffee cup to the cement floor. He hurried to the kitchen to get paper towels. He was relieved not to run into Dean on the way, knowing his exhaustion would be visible on his face.

As Sam mopped up his mess, he noticed something odd. The coffee ran directly to the shelving unit nearest the table, and disappeared underneath it, though it appeared flush to the floor. Sam tried to see where the coffee could be going, but he couldn't work a finger or even the edge of a paper towel under the shelf. Intrigued, Sam decided he'd slide the whole shelf forward. The first edge he checked was bracketed directly to the wall. The other end was not, but no matter how hard he pulled, all he managed to accomplish was to cut open his palm. The shelf never budged. He gave one more frustrated tug; he might be tired, but he wasn't weak.

Not willing to let it go, Sam began to feel around the top of the shelf, then down both sides. Finally, on the far right side of the unit, the side that had the brackets, his fingers felt a switch on the side of the second shelf. He flipped it, and the brackets slid quietly into the wall. Eyebrows raised, Sam pulled at the shelf again, and this time it slid easily to the side as if on runners.

Sam looked ruefully at the coffee he'd been unable to reach. There actually were runners.

Behind the shelf was a tiny room, the size of a broom closet. It was lined with narrow, built-in shelves, reminding Sam of a canning cellar. Most of them contained what Sam recognized as curse boxes, though a few had glass bottles and vials with various liquids in them. Sam was intrigued. He hadn't found anything about this little hideaway in all his studying about the layout of the bunker, but he knew not everything had been written down. The part of him that loved puzzles wondered about how they could figure out what they had without opening the boxes. That's your inner geek-boy Dean's voice said in his mind, but Sam still couldn't keep the smile off his face. The bunker was like a gift that kept giving. And, though he hated to admit it, he was happy to have a task that would keep him mentally occupied without being physically taxing.

Sam scanned the items, already planning how he'd start his research; he'd look up the warding symbols he didn't recognize. Maybe they could learn how to make stronger curse boxes of their own. He thoughts stuttered to a stop when he saw one box that had just one symbol on its top. It looked very familiar – it looked like a representation of the amulet Sam had given Dean so many years before. Sam had researched that symbol already, but there wasn't much to be found on it, even in the Men of Letters' archives. It was generally believed to be a rarely-used Egyptian symbol of protection; a few of the Men of Letters had a different theory, believing it was older than the Egyptian civilization, but the evidence was scarce.

Mind whirling, Sam picked up the box. Forgetting the cut across his palm, he brushed his hand over the top to brush off the dust. The moment his blood made contact with the sigil, his vision swirled and his chest felt like it was caught in a giant vise. He tried to choke out a yell, but he couldn't get enough air. The vise suddenly ramped up, seizing his entire body.

The box fell from nerveless fingers.