In his dream he sees it all…

A hand…

An image…

A mirror image…

His Image…

Bloody Mary…

The mirror cracks…

Bloody Mary…

It's going to kill you…

Bloody Mary…

She reaches out, this monster, she reaches out and pulls him, pulls him screaming into the mirror, her hands outstretched she claws for his eyes…her nails sharp, her breath cold against his clammy cheek, she wants to scratch his eyes out, she wants to make it so he never sees again…

He stares into her eyes, great black voids, and he feels nothing…absolutely nothing…because it's not that monster infront of him anymore…

'Why didn't you save me Sam?'

It's Jess.

'Ahhh!'

The sound of the scream has Dean reaching immediately for his knife. He sits up every nerve screaming to save his brother…

'take your brother outside Dean, go…now…'

Wasn't that the way it was supposed to be? He had to look after Sam. If it was the last thing he did.

Dean expels a breath in a whoosh as he finally realises Sam is sitting bolt upright staring ahead, there is nothing attacking him, nothing burning above him as Dean had feared. He lowers the knife and sighs 'Jesus Sammy, you scared me half to death dude…you alright?'

At Sam's lack of response Dean lifts the cover and steps towards his little brother, 'hey Sammy?'

Sam continues to stare ahead and Dean swallows a feeling of dread washing over him.

'Sam?'

His little brother has not been himself lately. In fact Dean fears he'll never be himself again. Gone is the innocence, the faith in humanity, that vibrant optimism that had once separated him so completely from his family, so tangibly…

Sam is a mess.

His baby brother is destroyed, he doesn't sleep anymore, he barely eats, he spends every spare moment when they aren't working a case staring from the window or at a wall…he loved her…jess…and now she's dead.

Dean knows Sam blames himself, it's a Winchester trait. Doesn't make it any harder to accept though. Doesn't make it any easier to watch your little brother collapse in on himself, the guilt eating him up inside.

'Hey Sammy?' Dean attempts softly, hand to his brother's shoulder, hoping to wake him, 'come on buddy, wake up.'

Sam jolts then, his entire body becomes rigid and his eyes focus, though they don't lose the demons that haunt them.

'You alright Sam?'

The youngest Winchester stares at his brother for a beat before jumping to his feet and rushing from the room.

For a moment, for one foolish moment Dean is hurt. Hurt that Sam is shutting down, not letting him in…like he'd done before…leaving for College…closing out the family…

Then he hears the awful sound of his little brother retching and he's on his feet heading for the bathroom.

'Hey…hey…come on man…' he attempts desperately trying to soothe him, 'it's alright…just let it all out.'

He leans down on his knees and rubs Sam's back as the younger man clings to the toilet desperately emptying the contents of his already too empty stomach.

Dean feels helpless and more concerned than ever. Sam is falling apart. And he can do nothing…nothing to stop it.

He was supposed to get out.

That's what Dean can't get over.

Sam was supposed to get out.

Two years before when he'd announced his intentions to go to College…to have a normal life. His father had been furious and Dean had been hurt.

His father screamed, ranted, told Sam to keep on walking, if he walked out on them then, he had of course been lying.

He hadn't meant it.

Dean had seen it in the obvious, unsubtle way John Winchester's hands shook as they gripped his baby by the shoulders, and desperately attempted to shake some sense into him. He heard the true meaning behind the recriminations…

'You walk out now, you walk out on this family'.

We need you Sammy.

'You're not going to delude yourself into living a normal life Sam…you're never going to be normal…'

We can't protect you if you're on your own.

'You walk out that door you keep on walking, you don't come back…'

We love you Sam, we can't let you go, don't leave us.

Sam had gone of course. At the final echo of the slammed door John's shoulders had slumped and he'd collapsed to the floor like a baby, raking his hands through his hair. Shaking off an already distraught Dean's offer of comfort.

They had lost him.

Their Sam.

Albeit not in the same way they'd lost Mary…but in the same…mind numbingly cruel twist of fate…Sam had ripped himself away from them…

It was hard for Dean.

He loved Sam more than anything. He would protect him with his life. Always.

But he couldn't protect him if he wasn't there anymore.

And he couldn't begin to understand the reasoning.

Then again he had been 5 when he lost his mother. Could remember five years of band aids and butterfly kisses and hugs like you were the most important thing on earth…the only thing…

Sam had no such memory. Where his mother's arms had once held Dean, Sam knew only of the shaking arms of his father or Dean, holding him back from the monsters, the cold hard demons of the world, demons no child should ever have had to face. Where Dean's hand once held a softer one that smelled of camomile and lavender, Sam's had known only the cold, metallic, chill of a gun.

They were different were Sam and him. But not that different. In some ways they were hardly different at all.

They weren't big on sharing the Winchester men, without the loving arms, and the thoughtful impact of Mary in their lives they were left closed off emotionally, they had difficulty expressing their feelings, they lived their lives out of pizza boxes and highway codes…one town to the next to the next…they couldn't stay in a place for long…it wasn't safe…couldn't stray too far off the path…the path to find their mother's killer…their father's obsession.

Attachment was out of the question.

They relied on each other.

Only each other.

Was it any wonder then that it was such a shock to Dean and John when Sam announced his intentions to leave, to study. Dean guesses it shouldn't have been. It was though.

He remembers when Sam was seven and they hunted a banshee in Philadelphia. It hadn't been easy, had required a months worth of time to sort out…the corpse had to be dug up…beheaded…

Sam hadn't wanted to leave, when the time came, he had cried, he had cried desperately, he had made friends, he didn't want to go…not again…

Dean tried to comfort him. Had reached over to cuddle him that night, to stop his little body shaking from the sobs, but to no avail. Sam even at seven years old had learned the cruelty of the world. Truth be told he'd known it from six months old when that first drop of blood landed on his tiny baby forehead.

They couldn't stay.

Had to keep moving.

It wasn't safe.

Nowhere was ever safe.

That was the irony.

Dean's fingers tenderly trace his brothers back. He remembers. He never forgets. He pretends sometimes…for Sam's sake as much as his own…pretends it was all an adventure growing up…pretends he remembers only the excitement, the thrill of it all…

Dean's an exceptional liar.

It was a waking nightmare…he slept with a knife under his pillow since he was five years old. Hell he still does. Their childhood wasn't filled with trips to the seaside, unless you counted the time when they had to ward off the evil Sirens that lured the sailors to the rocks in the Pacific North West. It was hard…and it was dark…and they were taught to trust no one, nothing but each other.

Only each other.

'Talk to me Sammy.' Dean whispers as his brother continues to throw up. Sam hates it when he calls him Sammy, but a part of Dean, if he's honest, most of him, needs that, at least if he keeps up the name, he can remember the Sammy that wouldn't sleep unless Dean was in bed beside him. The little boy that bit his bottom lip and wordlessly took the gun to stifle his fear of the dark. The baby brother that always cheered them up, that brought a little light to their world of darkness in the way he smiled or laughed. The way he toddled around trying to walk…the smile on his little face threatening to burst.

Dean can't remember the last time Sam smiled. He remembers Sammy's smile though. Remembers the innocence in that. Maybe he can get that back if he keeps using the name, maybe in time they both can.

'Oh…' Sam moans weakly. Head bent. 'I'm ok.' He whispers pulling back and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Dean sits beside him on the bathroom floor. 'Jess?' He asks, already knowing the answer.

Sam nods, frowns further, 'yeah but there was something different this time.'

'What?'

He shuts down then, snaps out of his semi trance and offers a weak smile at his elder brother, 'nothing it's fine…lets go back to sleep.'

'Sam.'

'Dean, it's nothing alright, just my freaky imagination as always, you know how it is.'

Dean knows. He also knows Sam is holding back. Still it doesn't matter cos if Sam's made up his mind about something he won't be moved. Unfortunately this trait is something he shares with his father. Dean sighs, not wanting to let this go…

'Come on Sam…talk to me dude…'

'I said it's nothing.' His tone is harsh now and he stumbles to his feet, making his way back to the bed.

Conversation closed.

Dean's phone rings, snapping him from his brotherly worry.

'Hello?'

The caller is halting in her story, sniffles and sobs breaking it up. Dean nods and murmurs quietly to the girl who had requested their help. 'Ok, we'll be there.'

Sam sits now, very alert, though still pale on the edge of his bed. 'What is it?' He asks his elder brother, seeing the interested gleam in his eye.

'Ok so Hannah tells me this you know her boyfriend?'

'The guy who went missing?'

'Yeah, well apparently one of his friends came to her tonight…he told her something about how he was murdered…'

'Ok…'

'Yeah…he claims he was there when it happened…' Dean's forehead wrinkles in disbelief, 'you're not going to believe what he's saying.'

Sam is getting impatient, 'What?'

'He claims that Jack was pulled into a mirror…' he announces, unaware of the ripple of shock that runs through his little brother's body at his words.

'That's not possible.' Sam whispers, the hairs standing up on the back of his arm, as he remembers his dream.

'Yeah and get this dude, she says the thing that pulled him through the mirror…it wasn't human…' Dean raises an eyebrow critically, 'it was…'

Sam doesn't give him a chance to complete his sentence and he jumps in already knowing the answer, 'Bloody Mary.'

His heart pounds sickeningly in his chest and his palms sweat madly.

Dean's mouth drops open, how did Sam know that?

'Yeah…how did you…'

Sam's throat feels as dry as parchment as he steadies himself and takes a ragged breath, 'it was in my dream Dean…bloody Mary…I saw what happened next…'

'What do you mean Sam? What do you mean? What happens next?'

'She comes through the mirror, she comes through and she scratches your eyes out, she takes you and she doesn't let go…'

'Takes who Sam?' Dean whispers in disbelief, 'takes who, we need to warn the next person, we need to stop this.'

'We just did warn him Dean.' Sam replies a distinct edge to his voice, 'it's me man…she's coming after me.'