Sam's tiredly counting the cracks in the ceiling when his cell phone rings. "Hello?"
"Sam?" It's a male voice, vaguely familiar. "This is Jerry Panowski. Is this a good time to talk?"
"Yeah. Um, Dean's not available right now -" Actually, Dean is currently in the shower, making a racket as he serenades all the microorganisms that live in the grout. Sam really needs to remember to buy earplugs. And a second set for when he's in the car.
"Perfect. Listen, Sam, your brother's helped me out twice now, and both times he wouldn't let me pay him. I was hoping you might have a little more sense. Your dad always bragged about that big brain of yours."
He's not going to fall for that. "Well -"
"I don't like to owe anybody, Sam. Please."
Who is he to deny Jerry's peace of mind? They can't live off bogus credit cards and Dean's skill with a pool cue forever. "I guess -"
"Great. I'll send all the details to your email address. Say hi to Dean for me, okay?"
"Okay." Sam disconnects, wishing he didn't feel so outmaneuvered. Still, Jerry's a decent guy - a nice guy - and there's no way he's sending them on some new hunt by these circuitous means.
Or at least, he better not be.
"Jerry Panowski." Dean smiles at the girl at the check-in counter while he flashes an ID with that name on it. "P-A-N-O-W-S-K-I."
"Yes, sir, I have that reservation here. Three nights in the Pair o' Dice suite on the Stardust floor. Paid in advance." When Sam hears that, he quits lurking behind a pillar and comes to stand by his brother and take a look at the latest girl to be offering herself up to Dean with the tone of her voice. He's not particularly impressed.
Dean elbows him in the ribs almost absent-mindedly, apparently too thrilled with the idea of a free stay in Vegas to really mean it. "Great," he says.
Mindy offers Dean the keys and a photocopied map. "Enjoy your stay, sir."
"I'm sure I will," Dean begins, before Sam hustles him toward the elevator. "Dude, what? Just bein' friendly."
"Be a misanthrope," Sam advises.
The room isn't a room at all. It's a series of rooms, an honest-to-God suite with two TVs and a huge, free minibar. Dean grins at every last feature and whips out his cell phone. "Jerry! This is too much, man."
Jerry must have said something hilarious because Dean guffaws and answers, "Alright then, man, thanks. Hey -" his voice trails off and Sam looks up to see his eyes widening like he found the leprechaun sitting on top of the pot of gold. "No shit? Sweet, man, sweet. Yeah, take care. My best to Tim."
Dean hangs up and turns to him, still wearing those enraptured eyes. Sam feels the dread building already. "What?"
"Twenty-four hour poker tournament starts at midnight tonight. Huge pot." Dean is grinning like a loon. A loon with a winning hand.
"Great." It should be fairly easy to extricate himself from this. He's just about to point out how much better Dean is at poker, argue that it makes no sense to split their seed money, but Dean says it first.
"So what're you gonna do while I'm winning enough to let us eat like kings?"
"'Burger King' is just a name," he snaps before he considers what he could do. His eye falls on the packet of tourist information on top of the writing desk. Just the sight of orderly stacks of paper reminds him of school. "UNLV's not too far away. I could get some research done." He can even use his Stanford ID to get in, doesn't have to pretend to be someone he's not. Three whole days of being himself and not killing anything sounds heavenly.
"Research what?" Dean asks. "We're between cases."
"Just general stuff. Rituals. Protective symbols." He pretty much can't wait to feel the grass of a quad beneath his feet again.
Dean's making the most incredulous face this side of a four-year-old and Sam thinks for the millionth time that his brother could have been a silent-movie actor. "Whatever floats your boat, Sammy," Dean finally says. "Just do me a favor, alright? Get some rest before you run wild through the rare book room."
"What?" He'd been expecting a crack about pretending they're not related.
"Take a nap, genius. You look like you could keel over any second."
Now that he thinks about it, he is kind of tired. And the beds do look comfortable. "Fine. I call that bed."
Dean's still conked out when Sam finally gives up on sleep and just gets up. He sets the alarm so that Dean won't miss his tournament and slips out of the room, heading for the campus.
Sam ends up in the fine arts library first, by mistake, but there are books on the traditions of symbols that look like they could be useful, so he photocopies a bunch of pages. Copying them into Dad's journal will give him something interesting to do while he's stuck in the car listening to Led Zeppelin for the jillionth time.
The rare book collection is across the quad, and he walks toward the building, dim in the darkness. There's a whole group of people sitting on the quad, all of them with their backs to him, facing a shaggy-haired man with a tangled beard. They look like they're holding a vigil or sit-in or something, and he wonders what they're protesting.
The library will still be there tomorrow, he reasons, and he moves a little closer to the group. There's a girl standing at the edge of the grass puffing on a cigarette and focusing intently on whatever the main guy's saying. Sam can't quite make it out, but the people on the lawn are nodding in affirmation whenever the guy pauses for breath.
Sam gets right up to the edge of the quad and the girl darts a quick look at him. "Hey," he says. The end of her cigarette darts like a firefly in the darkness.
She looks at him and nods to return the greeting; she must not want to miss what the guy's saying. He turns to go but she grabs his arm. "I'm Julia."
She holds out her left hand, since the cigarette's still in her right, and he shakes it awkwardly. "Hey, I'm Sam."
Quick as a flash, she stops shaking his hand and holds it instead, pulling him forward as she stubs out the cigarette and walks forward to join the crowd. She looks up at him with a sparkling smile. "I hoped this would happen," she says, squeezing his hand. "I'm so excited."
A huge, deafening cheer erupts from the crowd and then everyone starts kissing everyone else around them. There's a PG-rated orgy happening on the Academic Mall. "Wha -" Sam starts to say before Julia's got him bent double to fasten her mouth on his.
She tastes human. He can't wrench himself free without hurting her, but he tries to take a step back, maybe get far enough away that her arms just won't reach him. He trips over somebody and lands on his back. She's on top of him, still sucking at his mouth, apparently unconcerned that they've gone horizontal; she at least had something soft to land on. He pushes at her shoulders but she refuses to budge, wiggling up his torso to get more comfortable, like he's a buffet and she's tucking her napkin under her chin in anticipation.
"Congratulations, my children," he hears a British voice say and finally Julia disengages, twisting her head to beam at the tangled-beard guy, hovering over them like a voyeuristic freak. There's even a lantern in his hand.
"Thank you, Father," Julia says and the guy smiles down at them before moving on.
"What the fuck?" Sam says, lifting Julia up and off him. "That's your dad?"
"No, Sam," she says, smiling that same stupid, serene smile. "He is our father. Welcome to the family."
"What. The. Fuck." Sam bites off each word a little more sharply this time, trying to get out of this mess of writhing bodies, all still thankfully clothed.
"Marriage is not to be entered into by the impure of heart or word or deed," British guy says, suddenly popping up behind him.
It takes him a moment to think that one through and then he shoots a furious look at Julia, who's looking up at him dreamily. "I didn't marry her!" He's on solid legal ground here; at no point did he give his consent.
"You married us all," the guy says, spreading his arms wide. "Julia is merely your partner as we continue in our quest."
He's surrounded by nutjobs. "What quest?"
"Sam," Julia chides playfully, like he's joking. "You know what Simon's mission is." She looks at the guy with reverence. "We have been chosen to help save the world."
Dean's face flashes before his eyes. "I already do that, thanks. Now get out of my way."
Simon sighs and Julia whispers, "Simon? Why does he resist?"
"Even he does not know, my child," Simon responds, and Sam's had just about enough. But Simon snaps his fingers and suddenly Sam's being dragged away by too many men to count.
The air in the room Sam wakes up in smells strongly of Hawaiian Punch, though he's the only one who seems to notice. The henchmen who knocked him out look bored, slumped on their stools, and he manages to look at his watch without moving enough to attract their attention. He's been out for hours, apparently, and the joke's on them, because that was the best night of sleep he's had in months.
The henchmen have no idea he's awake, but Simon seems to be much more attuned to him, because he's there in an instant, standing in front of the recliner Sam's been dumped in. "The Doubter awakes," Simon intones, and Sam wishes people wouldn't be so fucking annoying.
"Sam!" Julia squeals, launching herself onto his lap, forcing the chair to recline and the footrest to shoot out. It catches Simon square in the shin. Sam smiles at the sight, but then Julia's kissing him again, fervent and clingy.
He picks her up and holds her at arm's length. "I am not married to you," he says as clearly and slowly as he can. "We are not meant to be. You are not my wife."
She's squirming forward to get back on his lap. It's like she doesn't even hear him, and he wonders if she's possessed; surely any human girl would have gotten the picture by now. "Christo," Sam says, and she blinks in confusion.
Simon blinks too, and when he opens his eyes, they're magenta.
Black eyes, silver eyes, red eyes - those are all scary. And yellow eyes mean pure evil. But magenta? That's just kind of stupid. Maybe Simon picked the color to match some showgirl's outfit.
Julia backs away from Simon, squeaking in fear. Sam unties the ropes from around his calves while Simon paces in a half-circle in front of him, hissing. He sounds like a gas leak.
This is quite possibly the lamest supernatural creature Sam's ever come across, and he's ferociously glad Dean is otherwise occupied, because if he were here, they'd be laughing so hard they'd have to hold each other up, and Simon could possibly have escaped.
"There is more binding you than merely cord," Simon threatens, his ridiculous Masterpiece Theatre voice cracking a little. "You cannot defy the will of Sabbyn!"
"Actually, I could, even if you were Sabbyn," Sam says, dropping the coil of rope at his feet as he stands. He stretches a bit, feeling pretty good; that recliner gave his back great support all night. He's getting kind of peckish, could go for some brunch. Pecan waffles sound really good right now. "You might be on Sabbyn's squad, but you're the new guy, right? Trying so hard to earn that promotion?" The magenta is fading from Simon's eyes, leaving them cotton-candy pink, and Sam is having a hard time keeping a straight face.
"Seize him!" Simon shouts, but the henchmen seem disinclined to follow the orders of someone who looks like he's got a nasty case of conjunctivitis. Actually, they look like they have no idea what they're doing in this sad little makeshift dungeon.
"Dude, that musta been good shit," one of the guards mutters, smacking another on the chest.
The smacked one nods solemnly. "I say we go get some waffles." They all grunt in agreement and head out.
Simon looks genuinely shocked. "But the Union!" he cries.
"What Union?" Sam asks, and Simon jumps a little at being addressed. Seriously, lamest demon ever.
"The demon-human alliance," Simon finally says, looking listlessly at the floor.
"For purposes of ultimate demonic rule?" Sam guesses in his kindest voice, and Simon nods, a little shamefacedly. "Yeah, not going to happen." A few words in Latin and Simon's just a stain on the floor. Sam doubts that even Sabbyn will miss him.
"Dude," Dean says, mouth stretched in a wide and happy smile, "you are not going to believe -" He cuts himself off and raises an eyebrow at Sam, waiting for an explanation regarding Julia's presence in their suite.
Sam doesn't know the secret eyebrow language for she's demented and thinks she's my wife, but some of his frustration must shine through, because Dean suddenly relaxes and gets that oh, this is going to be good look on his face. That's all Sam needs to make his day complete.
"I'm Dean," Dean says, charming as all get-out. "Sammy's brother."
Julia shakes his hand. "Julia. Sam's wife."
"You have had a busy day, haven't you, Sammy?" Dean grins like this is better than any comedy routine he could catch in the club downstairs.
"Oh, he was so brave!" Julia says, looking adoringly up at him. "He fought a demon!"
The amusement drops off Dean's face immediately, which is kind of ironic, since Sam thought Simon was the comedic highlight of the day. "Demon?" Dean barks.
"Barely," Sam assures him. "Trying to make a name for itself by convincing humans to join its 'Demons Are Awesome' cult. The second it was revealed as a demon, all its powers of persuasion pretty much went down the toilet."
"No follow-through or second comings?" Dean asks, like he's running down a checklist.
"No permanent consequences," Sam affirms.
"Except that we're still married," Julia says, and Dean smirks while Sam tries very hard not to roll his eyes.
"Julia, we are not married. We were never married. That ceremony on the quad was in no way legal. Do you understand?"
Julia looks up at him, searching his face with pleading eyes. Her own face crumples and she buries it in her hands.
"It's not fair!" she wails. "Things never work out like I want them to!"
"Really?" Dean asks. "Get married often?"
Sam feels a moral obligation to smack his brother upside the head and hold out a box of tissues to the girl crying in the middle of their suite.
Julia seems to have no sarcasm detector at all; Sam wonders where the cave she's been living in is and if it's nice this time of year. "No!" she protests, raising a tear-streaked face. "It's just," she hiccups a few times, "this group, right, that Simon was running? He said we were going to save the world, you know? Together? But that fell apart. And - and -" she stutters, "and I have a triple, right? And my two roommates became total BFFs and I'm like the third wheel, and the sorority I was rushing didn't invite me to pledge, and." She sobs again, drenching the tissue in her hand. "What am I doing wrong?"
Sam steps forward before Dean can say anything. Dean would lay his life down for anybody, but he's got exactly no patience for people who create their own problems and then refuse to solve them. "Julia, you're not doing anything wrong. You want to have a connection with somebody. I get that. But you're choosing people who'll only disappoint you."
"And demons," Dean pipes up helpfully.
Julia's eyes start watering again. Sam sighs and gets her to look at him with a hand on her shoulder. "Ignore him. Really, you just need to think about what will actually make you happy."
She nods and takes him at his word, her brow wrinkling in deep cogitation right there. Finally she smiles up at Sam. "I still think you would make me pretty happy, Sam. I mean, you're totally cute, and smart, and brave."
"He's the dreamiest," Dean smarms, clasping his hands together girlishly.
"But I'm not on the market," Sam says firmly, wishing Dean were close enough to smack again. "Come on, a pretty girl like you, there's got to be lots of guys who'd love to take you out."
"Well . . ." she ponders. "There is this guy in my Econ lecture, Justin, and he's okay . . ."
"There you go!" Sam blurts out, hoping the relief in his voice isn't too obvious.
"Yeah." She nods, wipes her face, and nods again. "Thanks, Sam."
He walks her to the door, bolting it behind her.
"Aww, too bad you crazy kids couldn't make it work," Dean says, just before Sam tackles him into the plush carpet.
Dean's laughing too hard to break away, and finally surrenders. Sam demands payment in pecan waffles.