Disclaimer: The Winchesters belong to Eric Kripke and I will be forever grateful to him for sharing them with us. I hope he doesn't mind me borrowing them from time to time; I promise to return them as I found them. And I know the rule. If I break them, I buy them.
A/N: I have to be honest. I had a plan for this story but it's gone slightly off course. I blame Sam because he didn't want to go where I wanted him to go. I'm posting before I finish it and I'd love to know what you think so far.
Kelli is back from her trip. I appreciate her help with this and with everything else in my life.
Sam jerked awake, breathing hard and sweating. He glanced at the clock on the bedside table; it was nearly four in the morning. Sighing, he got out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. He kept the light off as he splashed cold water on his face; he didn't want to see his gaunt skin or the dark circles under his eyes. It reminded him too much of before and at night it was just too much to handle.
He remembered what it was like right after he went back on the road with Dean. Their father was missing and Jessica was dead; killed by the same demon that had killed his mother when he was a baby. The dreams came every night. He relived the nightmare of her death every time he closed his eyes, every time he fell asleep. He tried to stay awake but that only lasted so long because eventually the exhaustion overcame him. Dean did what he could to be supportive, but this wasn't like when they were kids. There was nothing Dean could do to make Sam feel better and that was completely unfamiliar territory to the big brother. Then there were the visions…
But all that was in the past. They reunited with their father and, after losing some of their best friends, managed to kill the demon that had destroyed their childhoods. It surprised Sam that Dean insisted he go back to school almost as soon as the last battle had been fought, before the injuries had even started to heal. Sam resisted for a while, unwilling to leave Dean so soon after their father died, but Dean convinced him it was the right thing to do. Maybe it had been the easiest thing to do instead.
Sam did well in school now but he didn't have the same passion for it that he had before. He missed his brother and sometimes even missed being on the road. He liked not feeling like he was being chased by monsters or would find evil around every corner but he didn't get the satisfaction from his classes that he had gotten before. But, unlike the first time Sam went to college, the brothers kept in touch. Dean was interested in his brother's grades, his classes, and the people he associated with. They talked several times a week, sometimes more than once a day. He never knew for sure where Dean was or what he was doing but his brother assured him he was fine. Sam wasn't quite sure he believed that but he desperately needed to believe it.
He told Dean that he had friends but in truth he didn't really feel connected to anyone in particular. He was still afraid to get too close to people because of everything he had seen and done. But then there was Jessica; he was still too attached to her. The guilt he felt for her death was still with him, still overwhelming sometimes. He knew he had to get past it but he didn't know how. He spent two years on the road with Dean. His brother always insisted what happened to Jessica wasn't his fault but Sam never really believed it. He figured out how to bury the guilt deep inside but he never let go of the feeling that her death was his fault.
Just like his mother's death.
Things started to change a week ago. Although he couldn't remember them, he knew he was waking up from nightmares again. He'd spoken to his brother several times since he realized what was happening but he chose not to mention it. When Dean commented that he sounded tired, Sam would say it was because he'd stayed up too late studying. He told his few acquaintances the same thing.
Sam sat outside the coffee shop near his apartment, the textbook for his first class open on the table in front of him. His mind wasn't on the book, though. He absently took a sip of the large coffee, his eyes scanning the small number of people walking along the street at the early hour. He didn't really see any of them, though, because he was thinking about the dreams he couldn't remember. Before, his visions were connected to the demon that killed his mother and Jessica. If these dreams were precursors to new visions, what did that mean?
He floated through the rest of the week, avoiding the various social activities he'd been invited to. By the time Friday came around he was lucky to get through all his classes and make it back to his apartment without falling asleep. He tossed his backpack aside when he walked in the door and was sleeping almost before he collapsed onto the bed.
He looked up from the book he was reading and smiled. Jessica was standing just inside the living room wearing a long light blue gown he'd not seen before.
"That's a little formal for a night at home." he grinned.
"Very funny. This is the dress Mom and I got for the party at the country club." she turned around. "What do you think?"
Sam moved across the room and put his arms around her. "You look beautiful."
"I got you a new tie; it compliments the dress and will look perfect with your suit."
Sam pulled away. "You know I don't feel comfortable at the country club."
"I know." she said gently. "But it's my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. You'll come, won't you?"
Sam smiled at her. "You know I can't turn you down."
Jessica grinned. "Besides, it's good practice for you; hobnobbing with powerful people. You'll have to do that when you're a successful attorney."
Sam smiled in his sleep.
Sam walked into the apartment and smiled when he saw the plate of cookies. The note Jessica left for him simply said, I love you. He heard the shower running and grabbed a cookie before heading to the bedroom, content to be back home even though he and Dean weren't able to find their father. He flopped onto the bed, smiling, his eyes closed.
He felt something fall onto his face and he flinched. The second time it happened he opened his eyes to see Jessica pinned to the ceiling and bleeding. Almost before he could react, the ceiling burst into flames.
Sam jerked awake and for a moment he could feel the heat of the fire. He barely had his breathing under control when he heard his cell phone start to ring. He didn't even have to look at the caller id display to know it was his brother.
"Hey – you okay?"
"You sound weird."
"No, I'm fine. What's up?"
"I just thought I'd check in. I figured you were heading out for a night on the town soon –" Dean paused when Sam snorted. They both knew the odds of Sam being out on the town were slim. "I thought you'd call after that test earlier; how'd it go?"
Sam smiled to himself. Things were so different this time around. When Sam went to school the first time, it was on the heels of a huge fight with his father. John told him if he left to never come back and Dean stayed silent. There was no communication between him and his family until Sam was close to graduation and that was only because John disappeared. Before that, he got an occasional unsigned postcard from someone he assumed was Dean but there was no real connection. This time Dean offered him encouragement and congratulated him when he did well. His older brother was truly proud of him and not afraid to let him know.
"I think it went okay. I've been kind of out of it this week."
"Hey, Dean? Where are you?"
"Where are you?" Sam asked again.
"Portland." Dean thought he heard something in Sam's voice that he hadn't heard for quite a while. "What's wrong, Sam?"
Sam wanted to tell Dean what was happening; wanted to beg him to come to Stanford. But something stopped him. He was two weeks away from a break and Dean was already planning to visit Sam then. He sighed to himself.
"Nothing. I guess I'm just a little freaked out about exams coming up."
Dean didn't believe him but knew pushing him wouldn't do any good. Sam would talk when he was ready. When the conversation ended Sam laid on his back in bed, his hand curled around the phone. He wondered absently why he couldn't just be honest with Dean; after everything why couldn't he just be honest?
He felt something fall onto his face and he flinched. The second time it happened, he opened his eyes to see Jessica pinned to the ceiling and bleeding. Almost before he could react the ceiling burst into flames.
"Sam! Sammy!" Dean yelled as he rushed into the burning room.
Sam struggled to free himself from Dean's grip but his brother pushed him out of the room. He could see Jessica burning and thought he heard her calling his name. Outside, he stood next to his brother as the fire crew fought to contain the blaze. He could have sworn he saw Jessica in the window.
He opened his eyes, Jessica's name on his lips. He stared at the ceiling as a stray tear escaped is eye. He quietly slipped out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. He was at the coffee shop half an hour later; it was barely 5:30 Saturday morning.
Leaning back in a chair outside, sunglasses on, Sam was lost in thought and barely conscious of his surroundings. There weren't many people on the street that time of the morning, but he didn't notice someone watching him from across the street. He was thinking about Jessica, the demon, his father and – and wondering what the new dreams meant. He was scared he might be slipping back into a world he didn't want but yet still oddly craved. He didn't notice the man standing across the street staring at him.
"Sam, stop fighting."
Sam lurched forward, trying to hold onto the table for support. Before he knew what was happening, he'd fallen to the ground from the sudden pain in his head. He couldn't focus and when he felt someone grab his arms his first instinct was to fight but his body wouldn't obey.
"Hold on, Sam. It's me." Dean held onto his arms, grateful for the empty sidewalk. Sam collapsed onto his brother's lap and held onto Dean's sleeve.
"It's okay, Sammy. It's gonna be okay." Dean soothed.
A moment later Sam's vision cleared, the pain stopped and he saw Dean's face above him.
"Dean?" Sam whispered.
"Hey." Dean smiled, sounding much calmer than he felt. He held onto Sam when he tried to sit up. "Not so fast."
"I'm okay." Sam protested.
Dean waited briefly then helped his brother back up to the chair.
"What are you doing here?"
"I can't visit my brother?"
"You were in Portland yesterday." Sam said, leaning forward with his head in his hands.
"And I'm here today." Dean shrugged. "Was that a vision? Have they started again?"
Sam rubbed his face. "I only heard a voice; I didn't see anything."
"I want to go back to the apartment." Sam said.
TBC… unless you hate it