Author's Note: Okay, I know. I failed miserably in trying to get this chapter out quicker than my previous chapters. I really did have the best intentions to get this one out quick. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. If it makes you feel any better, I've basically cut sleep out of my schedule in the last few days so that I would have time to write on this chapter and finally post it.
Okay, this chapter has spoilers for several episodes. These spoilers may be only a sentence or two about the episode in question or they may be a little more. Still, I wanted to warn everyone. I referenced "Pilot", "Home", "Playthings", and "Devil's Trap".
I also want to remind everyone that I consider this story to take place between "Playthings" and "Nightshifter". Hopefully, that will put the story in proper perspective. Thanks for reading. Now, on to the story.
Sam's words didn't even register with Elizabeth and she was already helping him back onto the bed and feeling his head for a fever. "Sam, I'm going to get you some painkillers and a glass of water," Elizabeth said.
"Did you hear me?" Sam asked, grabbing Elizabeth's wrist before she could move away.
"It was just a dream, Sam. It's okay. Relax. I'll be right back."
"No," Sam said, forcefully. "It wasn't a dream! It was a vision! What I see comes true. Unless we do something to stop it."
Elizabeth paused for a second. "Wait, you mean you really get premonitions?"
"Yes," Sam said, nodding his head for emphasis. His head throbbed in protest and he allowed Elizabeth to force him back onto his pillow.
"I'm going to get you some aspirin and water. I'll be right back."
This time she was out the door before Sam could even react. When she returned with the promised items, Sam studied her face. "Do you believe me?"
Elizabeth sat down beside Sam, handing him the glass and the pills. "Why shouldn't I? There are all kinds of unexplainable things out there."
"Does it, knowing this about me, I mean, does it… change anything?"
"You mean, am I afraid of you or upset about it?" Elizabeth smiled. "Of course not, Sam. You should know me better than that by now. I think it's really cool that you have visions of the future."
"They're usually about death. They're not that great," Sam said, swallowing the pills and handing the glass back to Elizabeth.
"You said that you could change what you see. That sounds like a great ability. A way to save lots of people."
"They don't happen that often and they always involve The demon somehow."
"The demon? What demon?"
"The one that killed my mom and my girlfriend."
"This demon caused those fires?" Elizabeth asked.
"Is that what you saw happening to me?"
"There was fire, but it was different somehow. There was someone controlling it. He must be one of the kids like me, people with abilities that The demon wants to use."
"Did you see what he looked like?"
"Then, we can stop him."
"You're awfully calm about this," Sam said, studying Elizabeth's face.
"I trust you, Sam. You'd never let anything bad happen to me."
A sudden image of Jessica, pinned to the ceiling, bleeding from her torso, surrounded by flames, and yet, still alive flashed in Sam's mind. "I let Jessica die."
"Did you see her death in a vision?" Elizabeth asked quietly.
Sam stared down at the bed sheets, refusing to look up at Elizabeth. "Yeah, but I ignored it. I wanted it to just be a dream. I didn't want to believe I was different."
"Different is good, Sam. I think you're amazing."
Sam looked up, seeing only support on Elizabeth's face. "You're not like anybody I've ever met."
Elizabeth grinned. "Thank you." She sighed. "So, what do we do to stop me from dying?"
"We need to figure out who this guy is that's going to attack you and stop him before he gets the chance."
"First thing tomorrow. Will you be able to sleep?"
"Not when I'm worried about you."
"Well, I'm going to bed. If you want to protect me, then I guess you'll just have to come with me."
Sam found sleep impossible. Even after the pain from his vision subsided, his worry kept him awake. He ran through plans in his mind, replayed his vision over and over, trying to gleam some new clue from it. And he watched Elizabeth sleep.
"Everyone around me dies." Sam could still remember telling his brother that. Rarely did Sam consume enough alcohol to get drunk, but since learning about his destiny, he had found the thought of being too hammered to remember it, all the more enticing. And when Sam allowed himself to drown the pain in tequila, he opened up to Dean about how scared and upset he really was.
"Yeah, well, I'm not dyin'," Dean had responded immediately. A bold promise from someone constantly taunting death. A promise he had nearly broken, again, when he fell off that roof.
Sam watched Elizabeth for several minutes. "I let Jess down, but I'm not gonna let you die, too. Whatever it takes, I'm gonna protect you."
After hours of lying in bed, Sam decided to get up and do something constructive. He turned on Elizabeth's computer and began searching Internet databases, trying to locate the man he had seen in his vision. Despite Sam's hacking skills, none of the searches he tried led to anything but a dead end. "Who are you and why are you after Liz?" Sam asked, picturing the man in his head again.
"Talking to yourself, Sammy?"
Sam whirled around to see Dean, leaning against the doorframe. Sam was instantly on his feet and checking Dean's forehead for a temperature. "I think you've still got a low-grade fever," Sam said.
"I'm fine," Dean said.
"What are you doing up this early?" Sam asked, noticing that it wasn't even seven yet. Morning had never been Dean's favorite time of day and Sam could remember several mornings trying to rouse Dean so they would actually get to school on time. Not that it ever mattered much. They never stayed in any school for more than a few months. But school was important to Sam and he wanted to be there, even if Dean didn't. So, after stealing Dean's covers, blaring his brother's music and threatening to drive the Impala himself, Sam always succeeded in pulling his older brother from bed.
"I had a dream," Dean admitted.
Dean shook his head. "So, what are you doing on Liz's computer? Didn't you learn your lesson before, College Boy?"
"I'm not looking at her files, just the Internet. And if it wasn't a memory, then what was the dream about?" Sam asked, refusing to be sidetracked.
"It wasn't a big deal," Dean said. "What were you looking for on the Internet?"
"I'll tell you after you tell me about your dream," Sam said, staring at his brother.
Dean looked at Sam a minute before heading down the hallway. "I'm not that curious," Dean said, without looking back.
Sam, however, wasn't going to let it go that easily. He followed Dean all the way to the kitchen. "You saw Dad again, didn't you? In Hell?"
The fact that Dean said nothing confirmed Sam's suspicions. "Dean, talk to me."
"There's nothin' to say, Sam. It was a dream and it's over."
"But the fact that you keep having this dream means something."
"Okay, Dr. Phil. If you're gonna stand there, can you at least grab the cereal from that cabinet?"
Sam got the cereal down for Dean, while Dean grabbed milk, a bowl and a spoon and headed to the table. While Dean began eating, Sam debated how to phrase the question he knew he had to ask. "Dean, you remembered being in a coma from the car crash. Did you remember anything else?"
Dean's eyes narrowed. "What else is there?"
"I just thought maybe you got some other memories from the same time is all," Sam said.
"No, that's it. So, what were you looking for on the Internet? Did you find us another job?"
"Actually, it kind of found us. I had a vision last night about someone attacking Elizabeth. I think it was one of the kids like me that The Demon wants to use."
Dean paused mid-bite and stared at Sam, a blank look in his eyes. It took Sam a moment to realize the problem.
"You didn't remember about my visions, did you?"
"Since when do you have visions?" Dean asked, putting his spoon down.
"Since I turned 22."
"When you were at college," Dean added. "So, when did I find out?"
"Not until after we'd been back hunting together for a few months. It was right before we went back to Lawrence."
"We went back to Lawrence?" Dean asked, his voice betraying him. "To our house?"
Sam nodded. "There was a Poltergeist there attacking the family who lived there."
Dean stared down at the table, frowning. "Did I, I mean, was I-" Dean shook his head, sighing.
"You did fine, Dean. Your fears didn't interfere with the hunt," Sam said, knowing his brother's worries.
Dean looked back over at Sam. "Good." He drew in a breath before asking, "So, tell me about these visions you have."
"Well, like I said, they always involve The Yellow-Eyed Demon somehow."
"What Yellow-Eyed Demon?" Dean asked. "Is that one that we exorcised in the last two years?"
Sam was so surprised that he said nothing for a minute. It had never occurred to him that Dean would forget about The Demon. In the last year, The Yellow-Eyed Demon had constantly been in Sam's thoughts.
"Sam, what is it?" Dean asked.
"The Yellow-Eyed Demon is the one who killed Mom and Jess. He said that he had plans for me and the children like me."
"What kind of plans?" Dean asked.
Sam shrugged. "I don't really know. But he wants us to fight on his side in some kind of war."
Understandably, it was a lot to process. Dean stared ahead, into space, as if trying to make sense of all that Sam had just told him. "And Dad knew about this demon?" Dean finally asked.
"Yeah, for a little while anyway."
"Why didn't he write about it in his journal?"
"I don't know. Maybe he didn't actually figure out what it was until after he had left the journal for us."
"Who attacks Elizabeth? Did you see the guy… in your vision?"
"Yeah. He was controlling fire with his mind."
"But he's just a person, right?" Dean asked.
"Yeah, a person with powers."
"But bullets'll kill him."
"Then we just have to shoot him. Did you load the guns from the trunk yet?"
"No, not yet. Dean, do you remember how to fire a weapon? 'Cause the last time you tried, you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn."
Dean grinned. "You mean, the last time you saw me fire a weapon."
"You've been practicing since then?"
Dean didn't answer, just stood and went toward the bedroom. Sam followed.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"'Cause I knew you'd freak out if you knew I was going out of the apartment by myself."
"Did Elizabeth know?"
Dean grabbed the keys to the Impala from the nightstand and moved past Sam. "Yep."
"Why didn't she tell me?"
"She trusted me."
The implication wasn't lost on Sam. "I trust you, Dean. I'm just-"
"Worried about me. I know, Sam. But, don't. If you wanna worry, worry about Elizabeth. She's the one we have to save right now."
The boys went down to the Impala together and Dean popped the trunk and weapons compartment, propping it open with a shotgun. A minute later, Dean was loading pistols. The speed and ease with which Dean loaded the guns told Sam that Dean's skills had returned to him.
"You remember how to hunt," Sam said.
"I realized it when we went after the boogeyman."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
Dean paused in his work and sighed. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it anymore."
Sam frowned. "But you're a hunter. You were born for this job. You always loved it."
"Maybe because I never had any other choices. This was what Dad wanted from me. I was just trying to make him happy."
Sam was shocked at the admission from his usually stoic brother. And for once, Sam didn't know what to say. Dean began loading the guns again and handed a couple to Sam before closing the Impala's trunk and going back to the apartment.
By the time the boys returned to the apartment, Elizabeth was up and eating breakfast. "Did you sleep at all, Sam?" she asked.
"I'm okay," Sam said.
"Sam told you about his vision?" Elizabeth asked, looking to Dean.
Dean nodded. "We're gonna stop it."
"I know you will," Elizabeth said.
"The man who attacks you is a pyrokinetic," Sam said.
"He starts fires with his mind," Elizabeth said. "I know the term. How do we stop him?"
"We kill him," Dean said, holding up his loaded gun. "Mental powers or not, he's still just a person, which means run-of-the-mill bullets will waste him."
"Why does a human want to kill me?" Elizabeth asked.
"I'm not sure," Sam said.
"Maybe because Liz is interfering in his plans for you. I mean, that's why he killed Jessica, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," Sam said, staring at his brother. "You remembered that?"
Dean frowned, staring ahead at nothing in particular. "Dad. It was in Dad."
"That's right," Sam said, nodding. "The demon possessed Dad."
Dean rubbed at his chest. "He tried to kill me." Dean didn't say that he remembered the pain, but Sam could tell from his face that he did.
"Are you okay?" Sam asked, studying his brother.
Dean looked up. "I'm fine. That was months ago. Did you see where this guy killed Liz?"
Sam allowed the vision to replay through his mind. "It was inside this apartment."
"Any idea when?"
Sam shook his head.
"Then we'll just have to wait it out," Dean said.
"Should I stay inside the apartment?" Elizabeth asked. "I mean, if I'm supposed to die here, wouldn't staying away prevent that?"
"He could just come after you somewhere else. At least, if we wait here, we can better control the outcome," Sam explained.
"Besides, once we waste him, you won't have to worry about him any more," Dean said.
"Okay. I trust you guys. Tell me what to do and I'll do it."
"Are you okay in there, Liz?" Sam asked, staring back at her.
"Yeah. I just feel a little silly."
Sam smiled. "I know. I'm sorry. We just think that this is the safest place for you."
Elizabeth nodded. "Yeah. I understand. It makes sense. I just feel a little odd sitting in my bathtub."
"Look at the bright side," Dean said, from his post in the kitchen. "At least you'll have a hell of a story to write."
"That's true," Elizabeth said, smiling. "Seems like I'm gaining a lot of those."
Sam frowned and stared down.
A moment later, he heard Elizabeth speak again. "It's not your fault, Sam."
Sam whirled back around to face her. "But the reason you're in danger is because of me."
"But you both saved me from the Boogeyman and he was going to come after me regardless of whether you two showed up or not. Because of you two, I'm still alive."
"But this man wouldn't be coming after you if I hadn't gotten close to you."
"You don't know that. Maybe there's some other reason he's going to attack me. Maybe if I live, I'll interfere with the demon's plans in some other way."
Sam sighed. "Yeah."
"You're not buying it," Elizabeth said.
Sam shook his head. "But thanks for trying."
"Sam, if something happens to me--"
"Nothing's going to happen."
Elizabeth stared at Sam with pleading eyes. "If something happens to me, I don't want you to blame yourself. Even if I had a choice, I wouldn't change a minute of this. Ever since you two came to stay with me, I've been happy again. After Rett died, I didn't think I'd ever be happy again. I would rather have these last few months being happy than a lifetime of being miserable. I need you to know that."
Sam stared at Elizabeth a minute, unsure how to reply. Finally, he nodded. "Thanks."
And that was when they heard it, a rattling of the door knob. Sam and Dean took up their positions, guns aimed at the door, ready to waste whatever walked through it. All three tensed, watching as the locks to the door slowly turned. And then the door slid open.
"Mom?" Elizabeth asked from the doorway to the bathroom. Dean and Sam dropped their weapons. "Mom, what are you doing here?"
Mrs. Bryant stared from Sam to Dean. "I thought I would come by and take you lunch. You haven't come by the house since we talked days ago. And what did you two think you were doing? Why do you have guns in my daughter's apartment? Someone could get hurt! You could have shot me!"
"Mom, calm down," Elizabeth said, coming over to her mother. "They were just trying to protect me."
"Protect you? From what?"
"Ma'am, we wouldn't have shot you. Dean and I know how to handle weapons. We wouldn't hurt an innocent person," Sam said, taking a step closer.
"You stay back!" Mrs. Bryant ordered. "I knew you two were bad news. You didn't even know them, Elizabeth. How could you allow them to stay here?"
"Mom, they've been staying here for two months. If they wanted to hurt me, they would have done it by now."
Mrs. Bryant grabbed her daughter's hand. "Elizabeth, you're coming back home with me. And you two had better be gone by the time the police get here."
Elizabeth wrenched her hand free. "No, Mom! I'm not going with you. I can't. You just have to trust me."
Mrs. Bryant stared at her daughter. "What's happened that you need to be protected? What's going on? Tell me."
"You wouldn't believe me. You never did."
"What? About monsters? Elizabeth, please, let's not have this argument again."
"Listen, I will explain everything to you later. But right now, you need to go home."
"I'm not leaving if you're in danger. We should call the police."
"The police can't help, Mom. They're as narrow-minded as you and Dad."
"What? Because we don't believe in those weird paranormal things you and your brother loved? Honey, those things are just figments of peoples' imaginations. They aren't real and I'm concerned if you believe that they are."
"You wouldn't understand," Elizabeth sighed, shaking her head.
"Elizabeth. What's happened to you?"
"I've learned things; seen things that you still believe aren't real. I've really seen them up close. But you still don't believe me."
"Seen them? Seen what?"
"It doesn't matter."
"It does matter. It matters to me."
Elizabeth stared at her mother. "Why?"
"Because it's important to you."
"You don't think I'm crazy?"
"Elizabeth, I've never thought that you were crazy. A little eccentric at times, perhaps, but not insane."
"Mom, listen, I don't have time to explain everything right now. Just go back home. And I promise that I will explain everything to you after this is over."
Mrs. Bryant frowned. "I can't just leave you. You're the only child I have left. I can't let anything happen to you."
"Sam and Dean are going to take care of me. Now, please, Mom, for once in your life, trust me. I don't want to see you get hurt, either."
Mrs. Bryant sighed and turned to Sam and Dean. "Do you swear to protect her? Can you promise me she won't get hurt?"
"We're going to do everything we can to keep her safe," Dean answered.
"But you can't promise that she won't get hurt."
"No," Sam said. "We can't."
"Sam! Dean!" Elizabeth yelled.
Both boys turned to see a man standing in the doorway of the apartment, grinning. Sam recognized him immediately as the man from his vision. "Liz, get back!" Sam ordered.
Elizabeth grabbed her mother and ran back to the bathtub.
"You're one of the Special Kids, like me, aren't you?"
The boy continued to smile, remaining silent.
"Why are you here?" Sam asked.
The boy held up a hand and the guns Sam and Dean were holding suddenly became red hot. Both Winchesters dropped their weapon before getting burned.
"Just following orders," the boy said.
From the bathroom, Mrs. Bryant screamed. Immediately, Dean and Sam heard water running.
"Liz!" Sam yelled. Turning back to the boy, he said, "You don't have to follow orders. You can fight it."
"Why would I want to do that? I'm stronger now than I've ever been. Ever since the Yellow-Eyed Man started coming to me in my dreams, my powers have gotten stronger. And he says this is just the beginning."
"He's a demon!" Sam said. "He's evil."
"And he's on the winning side. I always side with the winners. I wouldn't do that," the boy said, looking over at Dean. Immediately, Dean grabbed the gun tucked in the back of his jeans, the gun he had slowly been reaching for while the boy talked. He fired off three bullets at the boy's chest.
But the bullets never met their target. Instead, they hit a wall of fire and melted on the floor in front of him. The boy looked up at Dean. "I told you you shouldn't have done that."
Dean felt the flames suddenly jump from his clothes and he dropped to the floor, rolling to put them out. Sam rushed to his brother, trying to put the flames out before they did serious damage.
The boy moved past the brothers toward the bathroom, taking small deliberate steps, as though he had all the time in the world. But before he made it to the bathroom, Sam tackled him, causing them both to hit the floor.
"You're as evil as he is," Sam said, punching the boy's face.
"Don't worry, you'll be just like us eventually," the boy answered. He wrapped his legs around Sam's using his position to pin Sam to the floor.
"I'll never be like you."
"Don't sell yourself short, Sam. Of course you will. It's in your blood." The boy leaned down, pressing his forearm against Sam's neck, cutting off his air. "It just takes the right triggers."
Sam clawed at the boy's face and arms, struggling for one more breath. He knew he was losing the fight, though. Dark spots clouded his vision.
"Hey! It's me you want," Elizabeth said. "Leave him alone."
The boy loosened his grip on Sam, leaning back. And Sam could see that Elizabeth had left the safety of the bathroom. "No," he gasped.
"Losing you will push Sam over the edge. The Yellow-Eyed Man said it was just the right trigger to bring him over with us. That and, of course, once I kill Dean."
The boy stared at Elizabeth and flames shot up around her. The boy pushed Sam's head until he could see Elizabeth trapped. "It's much more fun doing it the slow way," the boy said. "This way, you get to see them really suffer. See how the flames are closing in around her. Soon, she'll panic and the flames will crawl over her skin, searing any flesh and melting her clothes to her body. And when I'm done with her, I'll do the same to your brother and you can have a front row seat for both. Then, you'll be ready."
Sam struggled, but the boy had him pinned with only enough oxygen to keep him conscious, not enough to fight back. And Sam knew that it would only be a matter of time before he succumbed to the darkness. This man would kill Elizabeth and Dean, just as he had promised to do. And Sam could do nothing to stop him.
"Leave her alone!"
The voice was sharp and filled the apartment. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. For the first time since entering the apartment, the boy seemed shaken off guard. The flames around Elizabeth disappeared as he stared around.
"Who said that?" he demanded. But there was no reply.
The sudden slack allowed Sam to throw the boy backward. But the boy quickly refocused on Sam, already starting to come after him when a shot rang out. This time, the boy wasn't ready for it and the bullet pierced his chest. A moment later, the crimson stain spread across his shirt and he fell to the ground.
Sam looked over to see that Dean was propped up again the wall, holding a gun in his hand. "Are you okay?" Sam asked.
"Liz?" Sam asked, standing to go to her.
"I'm okay," she said.
Sam sighed in relief and bent to check the pulse of the man who had threatened them all.
"Is he dead?" Elizabeth asked.
"So, it's over?"
"It's over," Dean said.
"Elizabeth, what happened?" Mrs. Bryant asked from her position in the doorway to the bathroom.
"Um, it's hard to explain. That man was a psychic. He could start fires with his mind. But he was still only human. And Sam and Dean did what they promised to do: they stopped him and kept me safe."
Sam was already inspecting his brother, who had sustained the worst burns. Dean's two shirts were burned, but the flames hadn't yet reached his skin underneath when they were extinguished. Dean's bare arms were another story. The flames had reached them easily and did visible damage.
"Dean, we need to get you to the hospital," Sam said. He lifted his brother to his feet and led him to the kitchen sink, where he began running cold water over the burns. "Dean, give me your ring and your watch."
"Why?" Dean asked.
"The burns could cause swelling. You should probably take off your necklace, too."
Dean slowly removed his watch and then his ring. Finally he pulled his necklace off and handed them all to Sam. "Don't lose them," Dean said.
Sam smiled. "I won't."
Elizabeth was already reaching for the phone and calling an ambulance.
"Are you sure you're not hurt?" Sam asked, looking Elizabeth over for any signs of burns.
"I'm sure. The first time he tried, I was already under the shower faucet. The flames were out before they had time to do any damage. The second time, the flames started around me, but they went out before they ever actually touched me. What about you? I thought he was going to suffocate you."
Sam's neck was sore and he was certain he would soon have a bruise from the pressure applied to his windpipe. "I'm okay. You shouldn't have left the shower."
"What was I supposed to do? Watch him kill you? You've risked your life to save me. Why am I not allowed to do the same?"
"You weren't trained--" Sam started.
"I don't care. I love you, Sam. That's all that matters. Besides, we all came out okay."
"What should we do now?" Mrs. Bryant asked, staring at the dead boy. "Is he… um, is he human? Do we call the police, or…"
Sam nodded. "You should call the police. Tell them that this man tried to break into your home and set fires." Sam wiped off a lighter and placed it in the man's front pocket.
"What about the guns?" Elizabeth asked.
Sam quickly gathered all of the weapons, but one gun. "These will go in the Impala's locked trunk."
Elizabeth took the other gun, wiped it clean and then held it. "I'll say I shot him. It's best if you two aren't involved."
Sam nodded. "Are you sure you can handle this?"
Elizabeth was already placing the gun in the dead man's hands, smudging both sets of prints. "I'll say that he brought the gun, we struggled for it and I managed to shoot him."
"Well, don't forget to--" Sam started, but Elizabeth was already removing the casing of each bullet and wiping them down, putting only the man's fingerprints on them.
"Wow," Sam said, staring at Elizabeth.
Elizabeth looked up and grinned. "I watch a lot of Law and Order. The details are always what get people. Don't worry, Sam. I'll take care of it. I'm a writer, remember? I can be convincing."
While Sam ran the weapons back to the Impala, Mrs. Bryant stared around blankly at the scene.
"Mom, are you okay?" Elizabeth asked.
"I don't know what to say."
"When the police get here, just let me handle it. Pretend to be in shock and they won't question you right away. We'll tell them to take your statement later and that will give us time to work it out."
"You're so much more than I ever guessed," Mrs. Bryant said, staring up at her daughter. "I'm sorry I never realized it until now."
Elizabeth just smiled, having finished readying the crime scene, and bent down to wait with Dean. Sam arrived back about the same time they heard the sirens approaching.
"What is it?" Elizabeth asked.
"Two ambulance rides in two days for two different injuries. That's gotta be a record."
Author's Notes: Okay, I didn't leave you with a cliffhanger for once. I could have and I really considered it, but I felt bad 'cause I made you wait so long. So, please don't be angry with me. And give me your reviews. Because the reviews are what get me pumped to write the next chapters.
This story is almost finished. Probably two more chapters. So, just hang on. The story is winding down. I promise.