'Born under a Bad Sign' just begged for more, didn't it? I certainly could have used another hour or Jared's incredible performance! "My daddy shot your daddy in the head' and "I hear things" are two lines that will HAUNT me forever! Kudos, man! Wow!
But it left me wondering how Meg got to Sam. Possibilities started to churn away in my head, and this is my theory. There are a bunch of really cool tags about what happened after Meg escaped and the boys were left picking up the pieces. This is what happened before. Spoilers for 'Houses of the Holy' as well.
Many thanks to Gem for putting up with my insanity as I moved things all over the place, and to Lemmypie who cheered me on.
More to come. I'm almost ready with another one shot called "Turning the Tables" that Faye Dartmouth has been assisting with, but I need to stop getting distracted by everything else. Wow, I'm self-promoting again! hee hee
Thanks to all that read, and especially those that review. You make my day.
She watched. And waited.
The scenario couldn't have been more perfect. He was so incredibly ripe for the taking. So open, so lost. Broken. Desperately searching; needing to find something, anything to believe in.
He was always so tortured and broody. It was like candy for the soul to watch him twist and turn in his own personal agony.
His pain exuded all around him, like a beacon, calling to everything supernatural. She felt it resonate through her and she relished in it; drank the beauty that would be her revenge. Oh, her sweet revenge.
It was in Providence, Rhode Island that the true moment finally came. The church where Father Gregory, the local priest, had been slain on the steps.
Somehow, some way, Father Gregory returned; an avenging angel. Turning right what was once wrong. Giving those that failed in their tattered, useless lives a chance to live. To redeem themselves.
His own twisted mission of good vs. evil.
They say interpretation through the veil can be skewed, and this was one of those cases. A man of the cloth sending hookers and drug addicts to kill? In the name of God! Ha! The irony of it all was too much to take. Too easy to take advantage of.
Especially in his state.
She watched them from afar – had watched them for a while - taking in their daily routines. Watched as they argued, well more like discussed in harsh tones, about faith and God. One believed; one did not. Another perfect set up. Another way to divide and conquer. To consume.
She could taste the revenge as it dripped from her lips; it encompassed her beleaguered being and she savored every moment, every breath.
He believed with all his heart. He needed to believe. He had nothing else in his soul to give. It had to be true. It had to be…
She watched as they exited the church, speaking with the older priest, looking at the homage to the fallen man on the steps.
She listened as he drowned in sorrow, confessing that he prayed. Prayed! Like he had a chance in Hell…
His emotions were like a smorgasbord to her starving, tainted soul. But she could be patient….
The brothers wandered back inside, deciding that the priest's grave was worth exploration.
Then the 'angel' chose him. Saw into his core. Saw he wanted redemption for all those that had died around him; those he loved. Those he couldn't save. For his brother. His guilt was overwhelming, and this spirit thought it could make things right for the tortured soul.
It took pity on him; filled him with his message – his new mission of hope. Gave him peace and love. And he believed. Believed so badly that it took his consciousness away, leaving him breathless on the floor. Sending him on a path to God. Zapping all the energy from him. Leaving him an open vessel; stranded on the holy ground.
She watched with glee as the boy fell, filling her with desire. Feeling the energy, the lust, to consume him. While she knew she could not take him there, the spirit had unknowingly given her the greatest gift; the passage into his soul. Blazing a trail so open and free she felt it was destiny.
Watching the other return, terror in his heart as his brother lay still on the floor, she smiled so deeply. Her insides boiled with strategies and hatred. Feeling the screams of below as her memories played with her. Memories of where she had been. Where she would never return.
But she could take him there.
Things continued to unfold around her, with barely a finger lifted. He chose a séance to try and confirm or deny the spirit / angel. She knew what this spirit was, and how the truth would crush him further; strip him of his last remaining hope of being saved. Leaving him open for the taking. It was the perfect scenario. Her way to gain further access.
To cement her plan, once and for all.
The words gave her strength – opened the portal further. Breathed the final essence back into her. The power that she needed to fulfill her new destiny.
She watched his face as the fallen priest returned again in full-on white-light glory.
She saw his hopes and dreams shatter like a vase to the floor; scattering in a million pieces. Now knowing this was no angel. Now realizing there was no hope. Not for him; not for his brother.
He was just a man.
The exchange was brief as the older priest sent the man back to heaven – ha! He was spared; forgiven. But the other one.
He was in for a treat.
Sam finished packing up his things, feeling no better, even with Dean's reveal that maybe there was a God after all.
His heart still ached at the realization that maybe there were no angels. No messengers of the light. But there were plenty around for the dark.
And maybe there was no God…
Sam wanted to make one final stop before heading out of this God-forsaken town; a final visit to Our Lady of the Angels. A goodbye and closure for both the priest and himself. He knew he needed a moment alone with Father Reynolds; to relive and share what had happened. To see if maybe the priest could find a way to help him. Give him back that ounce of faith he needed to continue the journey.
To save him.
As he entered the church that morning, Sam wasn't sure what he was looking for. He knew the priest had questions of his own that maybe they could work out together.
Having your faith shaken was a hard thing to get over.
Sam made his way to the rectory, suddenly finding it chilly. He knocked quietly on the door, waiting for an answer.
The door creaked open and the seasoned man stood before him. He graced his face with a smile for Sam as he opened it wider.
"Sam! I was so hoping to see you again." Sam smiled and entered the room, letting the door click behind him.
A fire roared in the corner of the room, dispelling the chill Sam had felt moments ago. He turned his imposing frame to the priest who gestured for him to sit. Sam found the nearest chair and settled in, fiddling with the zipper on his jacket.
"Father, I just wanted to say…"
"I know, son. It's been hard for me as well," the priest interrupted, knowing where this conversation would lead. He handed Sam a cup of ready-made coffee as if he'd been expecting him.
"Thanks," Sam replied as he took the cup graciously. He held it, felt its warmth flow through his hands. "I'm just so… I don't know. Lost?" Sam paused to raise his eyes to the padre, finding his gaze hard to meet. "I really thought that Father Gregory was an angel. I needed to…"
The priest set his cup to the side and leaned closer to Sam, taking in his tortured features. He could see the wear and tear of the young man; the tormented being that lived in this shell. "Father Gregory said 'some of us need redemption,' Sam. What does that mean? Do you need to confess, my son?"
Sam snorted and rested his back into the chair. Do I need to confess? Where would I begin? "Father, there is not enough time in the day – the week – to tell you everything I know. Everything I've seen and done. I don't think that anything can save me now. I feel like I've lost all hope…"
Father Reynolds rose from the chair, placing a gentle hand on Sam's shoulder, giving a quick squeeze. He paced the room, wondering at the next words to say to the distraught young man, stopping in front of the fire to gaze at it. Breathe in the warmth.
"Sam, there are many ways to redeem yourself. Prayers to be said, asking for forgiveness," the man returned in front of Sam, looming over him, smiling. Sam's glassy eyes returned the smile as a tear traced its way down his face. "God's grace is for everyone…"
Suddenly, blinding white heat scarred Sam's flesh. He cried out in pain, trying to pull his arm from the priest's grasp, finding he could not move. The smell of burning tissue permeated the room as Sam started to gag. His eyes searched out, finally able to see his arm. Father Reynolds had branded him.
"Everyone, but you." And his eyes filled in with the black of night, smiling down at the stricken man.
"No…" Sam whispered as the pain erupted further in his arm. The invasion from the mark started its way through his whole body. The numbness was eating away at him and he could feel his will being challenged, his mind being clouded. He shut his eyes to try and concentrate. Try to stop it. "no…"
"Why are you fighting, Sam? You know this is your destiny. You can never be good," the priest seared as he pulled the instrument away, leaving a sizzling circle with a line on his flesh. "You were bred for evil. Chosen. Even before you were born. And today, you take your first steps toward your new life."
The initial shock was leaving Sam's system as he now was able to move his head. He took a staggered breath as he ventured to gaze into the eyes of the demon. "Who are you? What do you want," he panted, trying to pull himself together, praying – once again – that Dean would think they were in the church too long and come after him.
The man crouched beside him, getting into his face. The kindly priest was no more; replaced by the cunning evil that enveloped him. Sam felt the warm, stale coffee breath on his cheek as the 'man' exhaled, sending a shiver up his spine. "Sam, I'm insulted. How could you and your chucklehead brother forget me? After all we've been through?"
Sam's brow furrowed, taking in everything around him. The crucifix around the priest's neck dangled in front of him, mocking him and his lack of faith. Reminding him of his constant failure. He followed the expression on the man's face and looked into the black mist that covered his eyes.
The priest rose and grabbed his cup of coffee again, smiling. "Very good, Sammy. Your brother would be so proud. Oh? Where is brother dearest? I can't wait to see him again." She took a leisurely sip of the coffee and gazed at Sam's dewy eyes.
Panic overwhelmed Sam at the impending scenario. He glanced fearfully at his arm, trying to make out the symbol, but knowing it was nothing good. Dean. Oh God. What does she want with Dean?
Noticing, feeling, the panic within Sam, she decided to pounce. The binding link was already taking hold and the demon smiled with satisfaction. "What is it? Cat got your tongue, Sammy? He's in for the surprise of his life, you know. I've got big plans for him." Father Reynolds got uncomfortably close to Sam, whispering in his ear. "And you, of course."
That smile. All Meg.
"He won't fall for it, you know. He's too smart." Bravado filled Sam's voice as he defended his walking, talking action figure.
"But you don't even know what 'it' is, Sam," 'Meg' said circling around him like a lion closing in for its final kill. "You see, I've been in Hell since you exorcised me. Well, Dean actually sent me there, you were just his puppet. Doing whatever he said. That doesn't mean you're off the hook though." 'Her' eyes flashed again, accompanied by her thick smile that encompassed the older man's features.
Sam shifted uncomfortably, now able to move a bit more, but not enough to free himself from whatever spell she had cast. "What do you want?"
Father Reynolds tilted his head to the side and smiled; a big open teeth smile, like the Cheshire cat.
Sam's heart sank as he realized he was in deep shit. Dean wouldn't come. He had no reason to. He would sit idly by, waiting in the car, listening to Zepplin, as she set the game board. Putting all the pieces out, waiting for the first move.
"Oh, don't worry, Sammy, Dean will still have his little brother. Well, kind of." That smile overwhelmed him again, sending unabated fear through him. "I've learned an awful lot since my time in Hell; picked up some new Latin phrases, honed my tossing abilities. Oh yeah, and I found a binding link. Locks me into my new home like a seatbelt to a toddler. No way to exorcise me, cause I'm not going through that again," Father Reynolds' gaze lingered slowly to the brand on Sam's arm, laughing maniacally.
'Meg' watched as the fear flushed over Sam's face; it consumed her with awe-inspiring happiness. She knew once Sam had been branded, the link would open and pave the path for easy entrance to his soul. To begin the torture for the youngest Winchester by locking him within himself; helpless to fight it. And to gain the ultimate revenge on Dean.
Things were going according to plan.
"I even had a few chats with Johnny," she continued, relishing in the fear exuding from the helpless man. "He's having a great time, by the way, but his skin is a little sensitive to the heat. On a brighter note, he's lost a little weight. Well, actually a lot of weight. He's mostly skin and bones now," she added with a quirk in her voice, giggling like a school girl. The scene was beyond odd - downright creepy, in fact - coming from the possessed priest.
"No… you're lying." But Sam knew she wasn't. He could already feel her creeping into his essence. He knew that his father's soul had been exchanged for Dean's and that was the price he was paying. In Hell.
"Sam. Why would I lie about something as delicious as that? And you know it's true. I can feel our link growing stronger, and I know you can too. That stupid 'avenging angel' priest opened you right up when he chose you for redemption. He was a gift from God. Oh? Did I just say that?" Father Reynolds inched closer to Sam, feeling the agony of the words cutting him to the bone. "Must really suck out loud, huh? Knowing there's nothing you can do for your family but watch and wait. Knowing that your faith will be your final undoing." The smile overwhelmed the priest's face once again as his hand fingered the cross around his neck. "Irony is an amazing thing, don't you think?"
Inside, Sam felt like he wanted to die. His father was gone, and now, 'Meg' was going after Dean, and had planned on using Sam to get to him. He couldn't let that happen; couldn't fail Dean as well. Rage filled him as he hoped for a way to stop her.
Or to stop himself.
He spied his coffee mug. It was glass. Breakable glass. If the bind was a two-way street, maybe he could use the demon's power to free himself.
Sam knew how much demons loved to monologue, so he egged 'Meg' on, hoping to distract her.
"It'll never work. Dean will see right through you. He's too good to get caught."
"Like father, like son, Sammy? Oh, I don't think so. Dean's blind love for you will be his undoing…"
She continued to talk and pontificate about her plans. At the prompting, Sam closed his eyes briefly to concentrate on her power, willing it to himself. Trying to find the back door in. To save Dean.
I'm so sorry, Dean.
The struggle seemed to make headway as he pulled his inner strength from saving Dean. Like he always did. He felt the push go towards her. It was just a little at a time, creeping slowly. Sam continued eye contact with 'Meg' so she would not be suspicious, blocking the venom that spewed from her lips. All he needed was enough to get him the mug and break it. He knew where to aim on his wrist to make the bleed out quick.
It was the only way.
He saw the mug shake, and with all his might, he thrust her to the floor, calling the mug to him. Sam smashed it to the floor as he escaped her hold, racing to grab a piece before she could recover.
But 'Meg' was not fooled. In fact, her smile grew wider.
"Sam. Do you think I'm that stupid?" She flung his body to the wall, pulling the breath from his lungs, walking towards him. "I told you, my throwing is Olympic caliber now. I've been doing this a long time, sweetheart. I know all the tricks, although that was pretty good. No way you're getting off that easy. You are too important for my revenge."
She ripped his shirt open, placing her hand on his pulsing, sweat-soaked chest, watching the panic grow in his eyes. He felt his soul disintegrate at her touch, pulling the last of his will along with it. Her hand burned and Sam screamed in anguish; not at the physical pain she was inflicting, but what he was unable to stop.
"Please…" Sam tried, one last time through clenched teeth.
"No begging, Sam. It demeans you." 'Meg' grabbed him with brute strength and lifted him from the wall. "Say goodbye to the world as you know it. Oh, I'll give you little glimpses here and there, but I want you to feel the darkness of not knowing where you are or how you will escape. I want you to know how I felt in the depths of Hell."
They locked eyes and Sam felt his will recede. There was nothing he could do; the link was too strong. Her memories ushered themselves into his mind, feeling all the anger and loss that the real Meg felt. He saw Hell and what she endured in the prison of flesh and bone.
He saw his father.
"No!!" Sam screamed as he fell to the darkness. Literally.
Father Reynolds' eyes glowed with malice. He leaned back and the black mist escaped his body. He slumped to the floor as the last of the demon was expelled.
'Meg' hovered over Sam, wishing he could have stayed awake for a moment longer. Wishing for him to see her as she came at him. Wishing to feel that last appetizer of fear and destruction.
The mist surrounded Sam, encompassing his being. But he did not know. Did not fight. He was already lost deep within himself in his private Hell. Not knowing if he would ever be free again.
They rode off together; brothers united on a subject of symmetry. For now. Each coming a little closer to the common ground. Willing to give a little. To see how far they could bend to make it work.
Faith was a hard thing these days.
Dean didn't ask what he and Father Reynolds talked about, and Sam didn't share.
It hadn't escaped Dean's attention how quiet Sam had become. Too quiet. He'd been through so much. Wanted so badly to believe that he could be saved; saved by his faith in God and all things good. Sam felt he was evil, or would soon become evil. Dean was reminded of this on a constant basis, and this was a devastating blow to Sam; rocking his world and foundation.
Knowing it was just the two of them against the world.
That was alright in Dean's book, but Sam needed something more, and Dean didn't know what to do or say to Sam to make him whole again.
He watched as Sam slowly slid deeper into himself, avoiding the subject completely. Almost getting angry when Dean tried to bring it up again.
So Dean let it go.
They continued to make their way south, trying to keep warm from the bitter cold of the Midwest. The temperatures were insanely frigid and the best thing sounded like Texas. As long as it wasn't Richardson.
They stopped at a motel in West Texas, settling in for the night. Sam ran out to get some burgers. They ate, watched TV and called it a night.
The next day, Sam was gone.