Sorry for the long update! I know it sounds old now, as I've said this before every chapter, but I really have been INSANELY busy! So, this may or may not be the last chapter...the action will pretty much end here, but they'll probably be an epilogue (at some point...) with Veronica. Please read and review, I really love all feedback, good or bad. (Although I do prefer good…)
Dean glanced up into the pitch black obscurity of the looming staircase, taking a deep, steadying breath and stealing a glance at Sam. The troubled young man was pale, sweat glistening in a thin sheen under the glare of Dean's flashlight.
"Hey, you okay man?" asked Dean. "You look like you're about to spew those beer nuts from the bar all over the place."
Sam rubbed his head. In truth, the dull ache that had began upon his entrance into the mansion had escalated greatly since approaching the staircase to the fourth floor, and the background construction noise he had tolerated for the duration of the investigation now had reached the point in which it sounded like jackhammers were pounding away mere inches from his head. At the same time, he almost welcomed the unwarranted bothers, no matter how irritating and painful – they signified that they were heading in the right direction to making contact with the spirits of the Winchester House of Mystery.
"Sure you are, Sammy. Just watch where you aim that vomit, or you're paying for a new leather jacket." Dean kept his tone light, but he knew Sam would catch the hint. He was concerned.
"I'm not going to vomit, Dean. I just have a headache, that's all...I think it means we're getting closer." Sam began walking ahead of Dean, using the side of the wall as a guide in finding his footing in each strangely positioned stair.
"Whoa, dude," said Dean. "Slow down! Who said you could get ahead of me? You ARE the target, remember? Bitch wants to throw you out of a window, ringing any bells?"
Sam sighed and threw his hands in the air, in recognition of defeat. "Go ahead," he said, gesturing to the empty, dark space in front of him.
Dean gave him a satisfied nod, although Sam caught the momentary flash of hesitation and insecurity on his face before he stepped ahead-the house obviously creeped him out. The two brothers walked in relative silence through the darkness, each hunter lost in his own thoughts.
As they reached the end of the staircase and walked through the threshold of the fourth floor, Dean pulled out his EMF meter and began scanning the area.
"You said they were waiting, right Sammy-boy? 'Cause I'm not catching-" Dean was cut off by the sudden ringing of the meter. "Oh. So maybe they are," he finished lamely.
Sam glanced around at their surroundings. He felt his stomach drop when he realized that they were in the exact same corridor he had seen in both visions: a narrow hallway with windows every few feet, moonlight reflecting through the glass and creating rectangular patterns on the floor. Dean was scanning with the EMF, also like in the vision, which meant that next...
The pain hit him, along with a huge influx of noise. He thought it had been loud before, but this...this was just too intense. He felt compelled to lean against the wall and steady himself, but then remembered that that was the act responsible for his envisioned swan-dive. Instead, he simply sat down in the center of the floor, rubbing his temple and trying to drown out the noise. They would appear soon, it was now evident.
Dean turned around to glance back at his brother, the comical look on his face that indicated the imminent wisecrack he had in store immediately wiped away upon seeing Sam on the floor. He rushed over to his younger sibling, placing a steadying hand on his shoulders.
"You okay, Sammy?" he tried and failed to hide the hint of desperation in his voice.
Sam looked up, his brown eyes watering from the pain. "I knew this was going to happen," he whispered. "This was what I was talking about, from my vision."
"Maybe we should go, Sam. I don't like this, they're hurting you! We don't know what they're going to do when they get here." Dean's eyes were wide, pleading.
"No," he said quietly.
"What?" said Dean.
"No," said Sam, this time more firmly.
"Why in hell not?"
"Because they already know I'm here. They drew me here, Dean. They need me to help."
"Help? HELP? I knew you wanted to counsel them or whatever, but that's just to get rid of them. You actually want to help these psychopaths?"
"Just Sarah," said Sam. "If Sarah moves on, all the other spirits will follow."
Dean let out an exasperated sigh. "This is screwed up," he finally said.
Sam gave a slight laugh. "Yeah," he agreed.
"So we're just waiting now?"
"Far enough away from the window?" Dean asked.
Sam looked. The nearest window was large, but about six feet in front of him and a few feet to the side. "I hope so," he said.
Dean gave him an uncomfortable look, and then settled his tall body awkwardly on the floor besides Sam.
"They came a lot faster in my vision," said Sam with confusion.
"Yeah, well they also killed you in your vision. So I don't know about you, but any differences are okay with me," said Dean.
"I guess you're right," said Sam.
"I told you, big brothers are ALWAYS right. Get used to it, geek-boy," said Dean. It was a somewhat weak attempt at humor, but Sam was grateful for the attempt on Dean's part at brightening the situation. No matter what type of mortal peril the boys found themselves in, Dean always had a smartass comment or immature joke to crack.
After a few minutes, Sam felt he was becoming accustomed to the constant pain. It had dulled slightly, as had the noise. But he knew they were still out in the depths of the darkness, waiting for the right time. He glanced down the hallway, as he had been doing habitually every few seconds with the hope of seeing something emerge, and did a double-take upon sighting a black silhouette at the end of the corridor. With the sighting came more pain...but he drowned it out. The moment they had been waiting for had arrived.
"Dean," Sam whispered, nudging his daydreaming brother.
"What, dude?" replied the somewhat irritated older brother.
As a reply, Sam pointed a finger down the hallway, pointing at the approaching figure. It was now apparent that the spirit was a woman.
"Holy crap," said Dean.
The two boys scrambled to their feet, Dean fingering the pistol in his pocket and standing protectively in front of Sam. As the spirit entered one of the pools of moonlight, her features came into view. Old age had weathered her face, and her eyes held a somewhat maniacal look. She was dressed in period attire, a conservative, high-necked dress and hair piled into a tight bun. She flickered slightly as she cocked her head and glanced at the boys.
"You are here," she said in a chilling voice. "I have been waiting for you to come."
Dean laughed and gave a cocky grin. "Yeah, but you're a bit too old for my taste. And the whole 'being dead' thing could also be an obstacle."
Her body flickered again, reappearing closer to Dean. "Not for you," she said harshly. "For the special one." She held her hand out, slamming Dean against the wall with an invisible force and holding him there.
"Shit," he muttered. He couldn't do anything now, Sam was on his own. "You don't think I'm special?" he asked. "Ouch, that hurts."
"You are not a psychic," she stated plainly. "You cannot help."
Sam started upon hearing that she knew of his ability. "How did you know I was a psychic?" he questioned.
Sarah turned her focus from Dean, and flickered in front of Sam. "Members of the spirit world are connected," she explained. "You are part of the world of the departed, you are able to communicate and sense our presence. I have been sending out mental frequencies to attract interest to my house, to me. When you came close to the area I could detect your aura. I began to instill dreams into your head of visiting here, of what would happen if you did. You see, I need to be freed of here, of this prison."
"You've gotta be kidding me," murmured Dean from the corner.
Sarah ignored Dean's crack, now fully focused on Sam and waiting for his reaction.
"You mean...you're responsible for my visions? You sent them to me? Usually when I have them I have a connection to the people involved. I thought...with the name..."
"You are not my kin," replied Sarah, now appearing sad. "My only child died as an infant, and I could never have more. My husband...I lost everything. This house was my life. I was told that it needed to be built to house all who had perished from the advent of my husband's Winchester Rifle. I was lost, saddened, it was all I had left. I just didn't know what would happened, didn't know I'd be sentenced here for eternity after death. I found that I recently gained more power, more ability, it has been one hundred years since the earthquake. Spirits are able to increase their activity on certain anniversaries, not that this one held particular importance to me-"
"Wait," interrupted Dean from his position against the wall. "What do you mean this anniversary has no significance to you? You were pissed, right? You friggin' killed a construction worker! You were angry that they never re-built it!"
"Is that what you think?" said Sarah softly. "I had hundreds of workers. If I wanted it rebuilt, it would have been rebuilt."
Dean stared at her blankly, his mouth partially open. "Oh."
"So, who killed him?" asked Sam. I saw it happen, he was pushed..."
"Yes, the man was pushed. By one of my workers. As long as I am here they feel that they have to keep building. When a fellow worker entered their midst they wanted him to join them in construction. You see, I do think that this anniversary, though it means nothing to me, was highly important to them. It is like it was directly after the earthquake, as if that time and mindset was brought back to them and they felt that the working had to increase. The man died and his spirit now roams this house with the others, building."
"What about how I was pushed out of a window in my vision? There was a man, he knocked the gun out of Dean's hands..."
"Nothing of that nature has yet happened, although I do have fear," said Sarah, "which is why I made sure you saw the occurrence. Those killed by the rifle have not moved on, they are angry and do not wish that a gun of any kind enters these walls. They are the ones keeping me here, tying me to this place with guilt and responsibility for their demise. And as long as I'm here, the workers stay – forced to forever continue their incessant building."
"So what do you want us to do about it?" said Dean. Sam shot him a frustrated look in response to Dean's insensitivity.
"Well, what? I can't even MOVE."
Sarah lazily waved her hand, and Dean nearly stumbled as he was released. "I did not know if you would be a threat," she said. "You had to be restrained until I had conversed with the special one."
Dean rubbed his shoulder, having hit it hard upon being pinned to the wall. "You could've done it nicer."
Sam ignored Dean, still staring with wide eyes at Sarah. "So what do you want us to do? How can we help?"
Sarah glided to the window, staring into the darkness of the night. "I want to leave. Whenever I get close, whenever I try to exit through a window, I am stopped by one who was killed by the rifle. If they are distracted, then I can be free." Her words held hope, and though she was virtually transparent Sam could swear he saw her eyes glisten with tears. "And then everyone can leave this mansion."
"How do we distract them?" asked Dean. He was trying to be sensitive, really he was, but he still couldn't get used to actually talking with a spirit like they were a live, breathing person. It was strange; and made him wonder if all of the spirits they banished deserved that fate.
They had emotions, no different from a human's.
"I know you have brought guns. Take them out, the both of you."
"Could we go down to the first floor for this?" said Dean with trepidation. "I mean, we're really high up...these guys have an affinity for windows-"
"No," cut off Sarah. "They are all here, working on this level. It must be here,"
"Isn't that dangerous?" said Sam. "I mean, they'll try to kill us."
"It will be fine if I move through the window before they have a chance to," she said, resigned. "It is the only way."
Sarah raised both arms and stood in front of the largest window, allowing it to slowly open. "Do it now," she said in a low, crackling voice.
Dean reluctantly pulled out the gun from his back pocket, as did Sam. "Stay behind me," he ordered, spreading his arms out to protect his brother.
"Dude, I've been on thousands of hunts," sighed Sam. "I'm FINE."
Dean moaned as he slowly lowered his arms, quietly muttering curse words under his breath.
Before either hunter had a chance to process the situation, they were faced with the hulking form of a man, a bloody wound open in his chest. Behind him stood others of similar appearance, although they seemed to be simply the followers.
"NO GUN SHALL BE BROUGHT HERE," he boomed. "YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR ACTIONS."
Sam's eyes widened in recognition. This was what he had seen in his vision. He looked over at Sarah, who was slowly approaching the window and attempting to avoid being sighted. He willed her to hurry, to go before the rest of his vision could be completed – but she was still advancing, appearing to take each step with difficulty...like an invisible barrier was impeding her advancement.
"Dean!" called Sam. He was trying to warn him, to prepare him...Dean spun around, looking for Sam, and was abruptly pushed into the wall by the force of the angered ghost.
"GodDAMN!" he yelled. "Second friggin' time today..."
"Dean..." said Sam again, though this time it was not a warning, but a PLEADING. He was steadily being pulled across the floor, towards the window closest to him...he couldn't let this happen...
"SAMMY!" Dean struggled against his invisible restraints. "Sam! Try and stop moving!"
Although Sam was about to be plunged to his death, he couldn't hold back the look of incredulity that crossed his face. "What do you think I'm trying to do? I can't exactly control this, man!"
Dean cursed, then turned his attention to Sarah. "Go!" he barked. "Hurry! Sam...he's..."
"No," she muttered. Dean's outburst had sparked the attention of the angry spirits.
"YOU CANNOT ESCAPE!" shouted the man.
"You can't hold me here!" she shouted in desperation.
There was no answer, but Sam's speed across the floor increased. The young man grabbed the wall by the window, trying desperately to avoid his fate. It was futile. His fingers were uncurled by the force of the spirit, and his body was forced out into the night. In one desperate lunge, he grasped the sill of the window with both hands, now dangling from the ledge.
"SAMMY! Oh God, no, no, no..." Dean felt the tears running down his face. He couldn't see his brother – the darkness prevented him from catching the tips of the fingers grasping the sill. All he had seen was Sammy fall.
He hung his head, the tears falling openly and rapidly now. He couldn't believe the force of devastation that hit him. He forgot where he was, what was around him, all that ran through his head was Sammy, Sammy, Sammy...gone, gone, gone...
Never again would Sam crumple his over-sized body into the passenger side of the Impala, never again would he make fun of Dean for his choice of mullet rock, never again...
"Dean!" The voice was faint, but it was Sammy's.
"Sammy! Sam, oh man, you're alive!" Dean squinted his eyes, now making out the clenched fingers around the sill.
"Yeah, I plan to!" yelled Sam.
Dean cursed vehemently. He couldn't move. But Sarah...Sarah was now leaning out the window...grabbing Sammy's hand...that was all it took. She didn't pull, Sam just rematerialized next to the window, standing with a look of dazed confusion on his face. Sarah had vanished into the darkness...and the forms of all of the other spirits flickered out.
Dean was released from the wall. Sam walked over to his brother, about to inquire as to what happened, but Dean didn't stop to listen. He simply pulled Sam in for a tight hug, a long embrace – something that had been long overdue.
"I thought I lost you," he said, over and over. "Oh God, I thought I lost you."
"I'm here, Dean. "I'm still here."
The epilogue will explain what happened, and hopefully there will also be more Veronica! Please read and review!