Of Grief and Guilt

By Maya Perez

Something warm and wet landed on his face making him flinch. As Sam tried to figure out what it could be, he felt another. He opened his eyes and looked up. For a moment, his mind couldn't process what he saw. He was sure he must be hallucinating or maybe dreaming. There was a woman on his ceiling. Her arms and legs were akimbo, her blonde hair spread like a fan around her head. A red line cut across her abdomen and the silky nightgown she wore. Her face was a grimace of fear and shock.

His eyes grew wide, his mind finally admitting he was really seeing this. Horror shot through him as he also recognized who the woman was – his love, Jessica. "No!"

Hungry flames shot out from behind his girlfriend's body and filled the ceiling. Sam backpedaled on the bed, the heat of the branching fire washing down over him as denial, fear and terror suffused him from the inside. Sweat formed on his skin and was vaporized by the intense temperatures before it could fully manifest. "Jess!"

Her body was totally engulfed in flames. He couldn't look away. This wasn't possible! "No. No!"

Hands grabbed Sam and yanked him off the bed and he's only peripherally aware it was his brother Dean. All he could think about was Jess on the ceiling, burning. He had to get to her, he had to find a way to save her!

"We've gotta get out of here!" Dean bodily put himself between Sam and the flames.

Sam resisted as Dean pushed him toward the open doorway. He couldn't see Jessica anymore. All he could see was the blaze. The heat intensified as it continued to roll over them, the fire eagerly reaching in their direction. "Jess! No!"

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Gasping, Sam sat up snapping out of the nightmare's grip. He greedily swallowed great clumps of air, his chest tight. Then it hit him like a dead weight, the one fact he couldn't escape, not even when awake – Jess was dead.

What little food he'd been able to force down earlier turned sour in his stomach. His lover was gone. Jess was dead. Bile rose up in a gush in his throat. Sam clamped his hand over his mouth as he stumbled out of bed and headed for the bathroom.

He fell to his knees inside, his legs throbbing from the impact. As his stomach rebelled again, he leaned over the bowl to let the torrent go. Hot liquid gushed past his lips.

Jessica was dead, dead, dead.

An acrid stench attacked his nostrils as the vomit hit the water, the residue left inside him burning his throat. His stomach clenched again hard, sending another stream after the first.

It was only supposed to have been a nightmare -- remnants of his old life coming back to haunt him again. He'd graduated, passed his LSAT's, had an interview lined up for law school. Everything had been going exactly where it should. The dreams were supposed to have been manifestations of his nervousness, of stress, images of the fear he'd lived with day in and day out when he'd been part of that life, the hunter's life.

So he'd done nothing. He'd never even told her what he dreamed, striving to keep the damned Winchester family secret. He'd followed the rules that had been pounded into his consciousness since before he could walk. He'd left her totally unprepared and unwarned.

Hard painful heaves bent him over the bowl again, his neck muscles taught.

Jess had been worried about him and yet she let him go, believing him at his word and half explanations when he'd left her over two days ago to look for his father. She'd been vibrant and alive then. Until he returned and his nightmare came true and took her life!

His hands clenched over the toilet's rim until the knuckles turned white. He felt hot and cold, flashing from one to the other in quick succession.

The thing that had done it… The thing that had so callously killed her, it came from his old life, the one he thought he left behind forever. His father was right, people weren't safe anywhere. The dark things in the night could reach out and destroy anything they wanted at anytime -- all his fears had been proven horribly true in the cruelest of ways. And somehow Sam had known it was coming and he did absolutely nothing to keep it from happening – absolutely nothing.

His stomach clenched again, forcing him to lean once more over the bowl's rim, sacrificing whatever else he might have left inside him. The only thing remaining being the fact Jess was dead.