Set in the Anyone-verse of "When by Now and Tree by Leaf," my primary Sam/Jess story. Can stand alone, though. If you've read the aforementioned story, this takes place between the summer blackout and the last section. It's set between the mornings of October 31st and November 1st, 2005. Second-person, Jess's POV. Hope you enjoy.


Sleep Wake Hope and Then

...(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream...

e e cummings


You squint at Sam as he sits opposite you, staring into his mug of coffee like it holds the secrets of the universe. You find his foot under the table and nudge it gently with your own sock-clad toes. "Hey," you say softly.

He looks up at you and his eyes are dark and far away, like he's not seeing you but something else. You bite your lip and squirm. "You have another bad dream? You weren't in bed when I woke up around four."

He shifts and clears his throat, his nervous actions complimenting yours. "Yeah." He picks up his bagel and crams the rest of it into his mouth, thumbing away the cream cheese from the corner of his mouth. He chews silently for a moment, then swallows hard. "Listen, Jess, I've gotta tell you something..."

You stare at him intently, just waiting. You've learned that when Sam wants to say something, it's better to wait for him to work out how he wants to put it rather than goad it out of him prematurely. When the seconds stretch into minutes, however, you start to get antsy. Finally, you flip your hair back over your shoulder and sigh, "I've been having dreams, too. I didn't want to tell you because I thought you might laugh..."

He stares at you now, eyebrows knit. "About what?" he queries, perhaps a bit too urgently.

"If I tell you mine, will you tell me yours?" you playfully ask, taking a dainty bite of your own bagel and grinning. When he nods mutely, you add, "You have to promise not to make fun of me."

He lays a hand across his chest in a show of good faith. You turn to look out of the kitchen window at the hazy October morning. You start to dredge up last night's dream, the details falling into place so vividly it's like you're watching scenes from a movie. You describe them to Sam as you remember.

"There was you and me, and we were having a cup of coffee. But we were in this unfamiliar breakfast nook, and it was all brown and blue and cream-colored. You looked older, like almost thirty, and you were playing with a wedding ring on your finger." You hazard a look at Sam at this interesting bit of news, and his lips are pursed. Maybe you shouldn't have mentioned the wedding ring.

You soldier on, adding, "You were worried about the mortgage. Said you didn't know if we had enough money this month to pay on time, that we might have to take some out of savings. You looked so tired, Sam. I said...I said that the senior partners had to be giving you a raise any time now. Then this little girl came in, and you picked her up, and swung her around, and you laughed until you both were red in the face and gasping. And, uh, I remember thinking, clear as day, that as long as you could laugh, everything was going to be okay."

You hand had slid over his at some point, and your fingers graze lightly over his knuckles as you stare hard at the formica tabletop, eyes burning. It is a very personal sort of thing, this dream, and you don't want him to take it the wrong way. You aren't trying to rush him into commitment, not at all. Every time you have one of these dreams—one of these "us in a few years" dreams, as you like to call them—you wake up with the urge to tell Sam right away. The unbridled fear of driving him away has always stopped you before.

In a last-ditch effort to sound nonchalant about the whole thing, you look back up at him and give a lop-sided smile. "Of course, then I got on this motorcycle and drove through the house because I had to get to Disneyland because Steven King and Dave Barry's rock band was doing a show, and you turned into some fifty-year-old chain-smoker in a panda bear suit that smelled like dog sham—"

You are cut off as Sam stands up suddenly, skirting around the edge of the breakfast bar to pull you up into his embrace. He's laughing, his cheek pressed against the top of your head, and you find you're laughing too. You both giggle for a few moments before his hand tilts your chin up and he teases you with a series of short, fluttering kisses. You fold your arms behind his neck before leaning away and growing serious. "So, tell me about your dream."

His eyes slide to somewhere around your earlobe and he gives a dry laugh. "Oh, that? Well, it was just...I dreamed I went to my interview on Monday, and halfway through I looked down and noticed I wasn't wearing anything from the waist down. I didn't get into law school, and I was forced to work at Burger King for the rest of my life." You both chuckle some more, then he goes to take a shower. You finish off your bagel alone.

He was lying, and you know it. A career in fast food, no matter how horrifying for a man as intelligent and driven as Sam, wouldn't make him break out in cold sweats and scream in his sleep. He's dreaming about you, too. When he sobs your name the only thing you can do is clutch him tightly and press your lips to his temple until whatever he sees passes.

You can only hope that one day, he'll trust you enough to tell you about the dreams.


Less than twenty-four hours later, and Sam's gone. You're curled up on the couch, watching dawn break out the east-facing window. He just threw some stuff in a duffle and took off with his brother at some ungodly hour of the night. Wouldn't even tell you where he as headed. You decide that if he hasn't called you by noon, you'll get irritated.

You dimly note that the sky has turned pink as you rest your head on your arm. You snuggle down deeper under the Stanford throw-blanket that usually rests on the back of the couch. You had a late night, and only a few hours of sleep. You let your mind drift as early-morning sunlight washes over you.

The next thing you know, you're blinking into the setting sun as strong arms surround you. You lean back your head to see Sam grinning down at you from his seat two steps above you on the porch. His hair is shorter, and you reach up to touch it. He kisses the pads of your fingers as they ghost over his face. You purr your approval and lean your shoulders back into his stomach, your body secure between his knees.

Laughter from in front of you draws your attention, and you're surprised to see Dean in your backyard, gracefully sidestepping the continued lunging of the dark-haired little girl you've come to recognize as your daughter. He feints the wrong way, however, and suddenly has forty pounds of kid head-butting him in the middle. They both go down, and Sam bellows out an insult to his brother good-naturedly as the man and girl roll around on the turf, shrieking and trying to out-tickle each other.

Finally Dean stands, eyes bright and mussed hair full of bits of dried grass, gasping for breath and holding the girl upside down. He ignores her outraged protests as he strikes up a casual conversation with Sam. He raises a brow quizzically as he asks if Sam hears this odd squeaking sound. Still clasping you tightly, your husband innocently asks just what squeaking sound that might be, because he sure doesn't hear anything, especially not the complaints of a five-year-old girl.

You're chuckling along with the brothers when you become aware of a telephone ringing. Hello? Jessica, you there? Sam asks, his mouth near your ear, It's me. Pick up. Hey, Jess, pick up.

Your eyes fly open and you're back in the apartment. Sam's voice is calling your name through the answering machine. You untangle yourself from the blanket and stumble to the phone. Rubbing your eyes, you manage a groggy "'Ello? Sam? 'S me."

You can detect the smile in his reply of, "Sleeping, were you?" In the background you hear a creak and the sound of a car door slamming shut, then Dean's deep voice saying, "Hey, princess, you want the Mountain Dew or the Coke? I got you a Slim Jim, one of the really really long ones. You know, to help you compensate."

The sound becomes strangely muffled, and you guess that Sam has covered the mouthpiece on his cell phone. You can still hear his reply of "Shut up, you bastard," though. You begin laughing, and as the sound returns to normal, you catch Dean's surprised, "Dude, is that your girlfriend on the phone?"

"You tell him it is," you tell Sam, "and that I said I know from personal experience that you don't need compensation for anything."

Sam's horrified spluttering makes you laugh even harder, and you almost miss Dean crowing, "Did she just say what I thought she did? Damn, Sammy!"

He's going to need a bit of cleaning up, Dean is. But you figure you'll make uncle material out of him yet. Not that you're trying to rush Sam into commitment or anything. It's just that, in this half-asleep state you're in, your future seems so very close.