Special thanks to K Hanna Korossy and geminigrl11 for their editing. I own nothing. Reviews craved.
Edit- I broke this into two chapters, so it wouldn't be so daunting to read in one sitting. I've changed none of the content. Thanks!
ROCKFORD, 10 MILES
Sam stared glumly at the green traffic sign from his seat in the diner's window. Of all the places they'd hunted in, all the places they'd been sent or drawn to, this was the last one he'd ever wanted to see again.
Besides the fact he and his brother had almost been killed here ---at Sam's own hand, no less --- it was also a place, an event, that had driven an emotional wedge between them. A wedge that had led to Dean almost being sacrificed to a pagan god, and Sam almost hopping on a bus with a demon in disguise.
He and Dean had survived, of course, and the emotional scars had healed after a while. But, like any wounds, they weren't something he wanted to reopen. So, this town was definitely high on Sam's shit list, right after Palo Alto and the hospital where John Winchester died.
He was still staring at the sign when Dean returned, looking triumphant and carrying a glass Heinz bottle.
"Geez, what a guy's gotta go through to get a bottle of ketchup around here…" Dean griped, drowning his French fries in the red condiment and adding a considerable amount to his cheeseburger, before plopping the bottle down between them.
Sam didn't reply.
"Sam? Sammy? …Earth to Sammy, come in, Sammy…."
"I'm here," Sam said quietly, not turning from the window.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Dean crane his neck and follow his gaze. "Sam…look. I know this isn't your favorite place in the world. Trust me, it isn't mine, either. But it was your weirdo vision that brought us back here. It's not like we have a choice. We need to be here to find or stop…whatever you saw."
Sam finally turned and met his older sibling's concerned eyes. "I know. But I told you already, all the vision told me was where something was happening, nothing specific. So stop acting like I'm hiding something. I'm not."
Dean took a bite of his dinner. "I didn't say you were."
"I heard it in your voice."
"Then you're hearing things, little brother, 'cause I believe you. I just don't like this cryptic dream crap. Feels like we're being lured here."
"Lured by whom?"
"'Whom?'" Dean raised an eyebrow. "Only one thing I can think of would want to lure you somewhere, Webster."
"The yellow-eyed demon," Sam said. It wasn't a question.
"You said it yourself, he's been connected to all of your visions in some way or another."
The thought renewed the chill that had been working its way through Sam's bones. He'd been thinking that during the entire ride there. The visions had drawn them to various places before, and it usually didn't end well. Meg's trap in Chicago sprang to mind. Thus far, his visions had helped them stop the demon's plans, but Sam couldn't trust that to always be the case. If the visions were tied to the demon, it made sense to him the demon might be able to use them against him. According to the tapes from that psychiatrist in Lafayette, the demon had tired to manipulate Scott Carey through his dreams. What if it was now manipulating Sam through his visions? The fact that Dean seemed to be thinking it too drove a spike of fear through Sam's gut.
He suddenly lost his appetite, looking down at his half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich in disgust.
"Oh, no," Dean warned, "You're eating. This is the only food you've had all day."
Sam raised his head, a smirk creasing his mouth, and was about to retort when the waitress came by with fresh coffee.
Sam nodded and handed her the mug.
"That's your fourth cup since we got here," Dean said, shaking his head. "You're going to be up all night."
Sam's smirk turned into a laugh. "Cluck, cluck, cluck, Dean." He got a confused frown in return, so he added, "You're being a mother hen."
Dean snorted. "Better that than letting you starve yourself to death. Now eat."
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Sam watched Dean covertly, wondering if he would ever be able to share a meal—or do anything, really—with his brother without having to discuss demons, death, and destiny. He doubted it.
"You're doing it again."
Sam startled out of his musings and struggled to recover. "Huh, what?"
"Staring at me like you're trying to memorize my face. You've been doing it for weeks."
He quickly moved his eyes back to his sandwich, embarrassed. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry, Sammy. Just knock it off. We're gonna make it through this. Both of us."
As much as he wanted to trust Dean's words, Sam just couldn't bring himself to believe them. Dean seemed so certain. Sam envied him for his confidence, even if he no longer shared it. The demon was too much for them. They'd found nothing worth pursuing that was capable of even hurting it, let alone killing it. Their one sure chance had vanished with the Colt. And maybe with Dad.
Sam was about to respond when he suddenly yawned.
Dean arched his eyebrows in surprise and then laughed. "Yeah, I'm tired of these chick-flick moments, too."
Sam laughed back, but then stifled another yawn, "Oh, man. I don't know what it is. All of a sudden I'm just so tired…."
"Maybe because you only slept about twenty minutes last night. That vision hit you pretty hard."
"I guess. I have been zoning out a lot today," he agreed. His shoulders drooped, and Sam almost dropped his head in his plate when another wave of exhaustion hit him. Dean looked alarmed this time.
"You okay?" he asked, rising from the booth and placing his hand on Sam's forehead. "There's no fever."
Sam rested his head in his hands. "Jesus, I can't even keep my eyes open. I can't remember ever being this sleepy…."
Dean's frown grew. "Well, better safe than sorry. We'll find a hotel and we can crash before we start looking around town. Can you make it to the car? I need to pay. And I don't want to have to carry your heavy ass out of here."
Sam smiled. For Dean, that statement was practically a flood of concern. He nodded, pushing himself up on his arms and doing his best not to sway. Man…this is weird.
Dean reached a hand out to steady him. When he seemed satisfied Sam wasn't going to topple, he rushed over to the counter to pay. Sam grabbed his jacket and grasped the edge of the booth to prevent a fall. Slowly, he made his way out to the car and just managed to get the door open before collapsing into the passenger seat with a sigh. It was different than a normal crash after not sleeping. He'd done that plenty of times. This was worse. It was like his body was working against him. Maybe he was getting sick.
He must have zoned out again, since he jumped when Dean opened the door and plopped into the driver's seat with that all-too-familiar look of concern on his face. To Sam's eyes, Dean seemed to have aged faster since their dad's death. He worried that whenever they ended this ordeal, Dean might not have any life of his own left to live.
A hand on his shoulder brought his mind back to the moment.
"I think…maybe I'm comin' down with something, Dean."
Dean grunted, "Great. The timing couldn't be worse." After a pause, he added, "You wanna back off this job until we know for sure if this---"
"No. Come on, Dean. The vision didn't show much, but it did tell us that whatever's going to happen is happening tomorrow."
Dean appeared to wrestle with that for a moment, then shook his head. "Fine...we'll stick around. But you're gonna sleep first, all right?"
Sam just nodded, fighting the urge to doze off again.
By the time they found a hotel closer to town, Sam's world was spinning. Dean helped him into the room, not letting go after Sam almost bashed his head on the car door getting out. He settled Sam face down on the bed farthest from the door, and slid the trashcan over in case he got sick.
Sam mumbled a thank-you and started to drift in and out while Dean unpacked his bag and placed the weapons in their pre-planned places around the room. He listened to Dean move about, then head for the other bed, but couldn't summon the strength to raise his eyelids and watch.
He heard Dean yank the covers back and move the pillow, and yelp in pain. The sound jerked Sam out of his stupor, a minor adrenaline surge helping him finally reopen his eyes. Dean was grasping his right hand.
Dean groaned in pain and agitation. "I…just cut myself on my knife. Got blood on the sheets."
"Told you-u to find a s-sheath for that th-thing…," Sam slurred.
"Nah, I'll be okay. It's just a scratch. Of course, now there's blood under my pillow…."
Whatever else Dean was saying, Sam couldn't hear. His sight and his hearing were tunneling.
Dean…I think something's wrong….
He tried to say it, but his voice no longer functioned. His last sight was Dean coming out of the bathroom, wrapping a bandage around his finger.
Then the world went black.
"Hey! Let me out of here!"
Dean hurled himself against the door again. He rebounded off it painfully, clutching his shoulder. It wasn't the first time he'd tried to shove it open, but the door wasn't budging, He decided to switch tactics.
He braced himself against the opposite wall of the small closet he was stuck in and kicked at the door with all his might. The door flexed under the assault, and Dean grinned, anticipating triumph.
Without warning, two large men opened the door and caught Dean as he tried to rush them. A quick taser to the stomach, and Dean was down.
The world shifted. Without warning, Dean was pinned to the ceiling, struggling like he was being held by something Sam couldn't see.
Dean wasn't speaking, but Sam could hear the words clearly in his head.
Before he could do or say anything else, a pool of blood appeared on his brother's shirt, across his abdomen. He was still begging silently for help when flames consumed him.
Sam bolted upright, panting and sweating. He looked over to the bed next to his, but it was empty. Frantically, he spun to examine the room. The light from the bathroom glowed through the cracks of the door. He breathed a silent sigh of relief. Dean's okay. It was only a dream.
He settled back onto the bed, lying on his side, shivering slightly in the dream's wake. He studiously avoided looking at the ceiling. Months of nightmares after Jess had drilled that practice into him.
A dream or a vision? That was the question. A vision had led them back to Rockford. Dean believed the demon was involved in something in the vicinity. Now that they were here, Sam was dreaming about Dean in trouble—and dying—just like Jess and his mother.
Sam was about to call out for Dean when the bathroom door opened. He was rubbing his forehead, trying to soothe the odd buzzing in his skull, and didn't look up to watch Dean come out.
"Oh, Sam…you're finally awake. I was worried about you."
The sound of Jessica's voice took a second to register. When it did, Sam shot out of the bed, all memory of his exhaustion and foreboding dreams forgotten.
There, standing innocently in a loose-fitting shirt and a pair of shorts, was Jessica Moore.
Sam stood open-mouthed for a moment, unable to speak or move. His girlfriend was standing in his motel room and talking to him.
His very much deceased girlfriend was standing in his motel room and talking to him.
He wouldn't have thought a professional hunter of all things supernatural would be as stunned or petrified as he was in that moment.
She seemed confused by his reaction. She frowned, blinking for a moment, before reaching her hand out toward him.
"Sam? Honey, what's wrong? Did you have another dream?"
Sam backed away, the initial shock wearing off and being replaced by anger. Something had obviously taken Jessica's form, and he was furious. He moved back, heading for one of the hidden handguns, but he kept his eyes on the…whatever it was that was impersonating his lost love.
"What are you?!"
"What am--- Sam. It's me. It's Jessica. What's wrong?"
Sam shook his head. "Liar! Where's Dean?"
She seemed uncertain. "Dean?"
He reached back behind the nightstand, looking for the hidden 9mm. His hand grasped only air. Startled, he tore his eyes off "Jess" and searched behind the furniture. Nothing. Glancing around the room, it finally registered that none of their possessions were present. No duffels. No laptop.
What the--- Uh-oh.
This was starting to look bad. First a vision led them here, then he got hit with a wave of exhaustion before passing out. He woke up and Dean was gone, along with all their weapons and hardware…and now something was standing in their room, looking like Jessica. What the hell is going on?
"Sam…calm down, okay? Let me explain."
"No. Where. Is. Dean?"
Jess…or rather the Jess imposter…sank onto the bed, her eyes downcast. "Sam," she intoned sadly, "we go through this every time. Dean's gone."
"Gone? What do you mean, gone?"
"Jess" smiled sympathetically. "He's dead, Sam."
Her next words cut through him even more.
"He's been dead for over a year."
"You really don't remember, do you? I don't understand, the doctors said the new medication was working."
Before he could respond to the insanity he was hearing, Sam was hit with a full-power vision.
Dean was pressed flat against the ceiling, stomach bloody, mouthing two heart-wrenching words.
Then flames consumed him.
The vision ended, and was replaced with a skull-rending pain. Sam rammed the nightstand hard as he jerked away from the horrible images in the vision.
"No," he choked out. No, it wasn't possible. This wasn't real. It was a trick. It had to be. "It's not possible…."
"Jess" cautiously approached him. "Sam…try to calm down. It will come back to you. It always does."
Sam glared at her, putting his hands up to warn her from getting any closer. He stepped back and stumbled, landing hard on the other bed. Dean's bed.
"You're lying. Tell me who you are. Tell me what you want."
She stepped forward, hands out in a calming gesture, and knelt in front of him, just out of arm's reach, "All right. It's been a while since you've had an episode this bad, but…okay. I'm Jessica Moore. Your fiancée---"
"I know who you look like!" Sam interrupted angrily. He was getting tired of this sick game.
She continued as if he hadn't spoken. "We met at Stanford. You proposed to me during our senior year. About the same time, you reconciled with your brother Dean."
He snorted derisively. He was well aware of how his last undergrad year at Stanford had gone. But the image of Dean on the ceiling plagued him. Everything about the image was the same as it had been with Jessica, only Dean was taking her place. Sam didn't quite know how to take that. He tuned back in to what the…thing…in front of him was saying.
"…he came out to talk about the wedding. He stayed behind at our place while we were at dinner with some friends, and there was a fire in the building. He didn't get out in time."
Sam stared hard at the creature in front of him. It's a good actor. But not good enough.
Apparently, his mood didn't go unnoticed. "I can see you still don't believe me. It's okay, Sam. We've had to do this before. God, I don't know how many times now…. But, fine. You don't believe me." She pointed to the nightstand. "There's your cell phone. Call Dean's number."
Sam glanced at the phone with suspicion. He didn't trust this situation…but at least calling the number might lead him to his brother's whereabouts. He picked up the phone but kept his eyes on "Jess" the entire time. He clicked down to speed-dial from memory. Four clicks, hit send.
"The cellular number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Please try your call again."
Sam blinked. Disconnected? Dean always kept their phones up-to-date. And supernatural creatures such as ghosts and demons had lots of ways to fool people using phones and electronics. The experience in the asylum, when he'd been lured to the basement by a faked phone call from Dean, was evidence enough of that. Sam tried the number again but got the same results. Clicking his phone off, he looked at "Jess" warily. She didn't seem bothered by his suspicions.
"Go ahead, check the car. Check around the room for the guns. I won't stop you," she said with a note of weariness.
He got off the bed, moving past her and trying to keep his distance. He quickly searched the room but found no trace of the weapons he'd watched and heard Dean place the night before. No handguns. No shotguns. No lines of salt. No holy water. Nothing.
Even Dad's journal was missing.
Sam grabbed the car keys and stepped out into the parking lot. The Impala rested right where Dean had parked it the night before. It was still dark out, so Sam looked in through the windows using the streetlights. He found nothing out of the ordinary, just some papers and a few pieces of trash that hadn't been thrown away strewn across the back seat. He opened the trunk and searched where the weapons were. Where they were supposed to be, anyway. The trunk was empty save for the spare tire.
What the hell is going on?
Sam looked back at the door. He wanted nothing more than to jump in the car and go searching for Dean, but he had no idea where to start. His only clue was sitting in the motel room. Wearing the face of the woman he loved. Just looking at her scrambled his thoughts, which he supposed was why she- -it- -had decided to look like Jessica in the first place.
The throbbing behind his eyes from the visions wasn't helping much, either.
Sam had taken only a step back toward the motel door when the throbbing erupted into another vision.
Dean was locked in what appeared to be a closet. He was ramming and kicking a locked door.
Finally, it opened, and Dean launched himself at two men. He knocked one of them unconscious and turned the downed man's gun on the other.
As Dean fired the gun, Sam came back to reality. He clutched the rear fender of the Impala, falling halfway to the ground before regaining control of his legs. He was panting, exhausted from the rapid-fire visions that were plaguing him. He stayed put a few more seconds before steeling himself and walking slowly back into the room.
She was still on the edge of the bed, looking at him sadly. Seeing her again in the flesh like this, even if she was a shapeshifter or some kind of illusion, made Sam's heart rate speed up. He clamped down on his reeling emotions. This isn't Jess.
"What's going on? Who are you?" he demanded, closing the door.
"Jess" took a deep breath. "When we got back from dinner that night, the place was just a…there was fire everywhere. You realized Dean was still inside, and…you just lost it. It took three of us to keep you from running into the building. You weren't the same after that."
He moved closer to the beds but stayed out of her reach. It was a fascinating tale…except it was fiction. What's she playing at?
"After a while, the nightmares and, well, the delusions were too much for you to cope with. You dropped out of school. We came here. My uncle knew a good psychiatrist---"
"Here? Rockford?" Sam interrupted.
"Yes. Doctor Ellicott…."
Sam balked at that. He had met Ellicott up close…or at least his angry spirit. He was definitely not a "good psychiatrist."
Jess continued without taking notice of his reaction. "…diagnosed you with schizophrenia. It eventually got so bad that we had to commit you. You kept raving about being some sort of demon hunter, that you and your dad and brother chased ghosts. And you thought I was the one who died in the fire."
Dad. He listened for her to slip up, to try to tell him John Winchester was still alive. Then he'd know for sure she was lying. But she was way ahead of him.
"Your dad died a few months ago. Car crash. That only made it worse for you. You started talking about your destiny and becoming evil. You said that everyone you love dies sooner or later, and it was all part of some evil plan some thing had for you."
He cocked his head at her, perplexed. All the details were there but rearranged. The events of the last year and a half couldn't just be in his mind. It was impossible.
It wasn't that he hadn't wished a hundred times for his life to be a mere nightmare he could wake up from, except that he never wanted his brother to be dead. And what she was saying did sound at least somewhat preferable to being a pawn in some demonic war on Earth. It just couldn't be true.
Dean was alive. Sam knew it. The time he'd spent on the road with his elder sibling really happened. It was all real.
Jess must have seen the doubt on his face. She rose and stood in front of him, "Sammy…you're one of the most intelligent and logical people I know. What makes more sense to you? That your brother died and you had a mental breakdown? Or that you're a demon hunter who has visions of people dying and some big part to play in a war? Which one is more likely, Sam?"
"I do have visions," he began, almost defiantly. "I just had one a few minutes ago. I saw Dean."
She sighed but not impatiently. "That wasn't a vision, Sam. It was a seizure. The doctors say sometimes you see things like that during them. Something to do with your condition. The new drugs were supposed to stop that."
Sam slowly shook his head. "No…no. I was with Dean last night. We were in that diner. I remember that."
"Honey, we were in that diner last night. You were complaining about being dizzy. And I was trying to get you to eat."
"I got really tired, and we came back here…."
"That's right. Your pills make you sleepy. It came on too strong last night," she said, looking away. "I should have known something was wrong."
Sam shook his head, refusing to accept the story. "This can't be possible. This is some kind of sick game."
She sighed, exasperated this time. "Sam! Dammit…." She stopped and waved her hand, biting her lip. He recognized the motion. Jessica used to do that when she was frustrated and trying not to get angry. It was such a small gesture that most people wouldn't have noticed it. But Sam remembered it clearly. His growing kernel of doubt was joined by worry. The shapeshifters he had come in contact with had all been very good at copying someone physically, but the small gestures always eluded them.
That kind of flaw had been how Sam had known the shifter wasn't Dean in St. Louis. It was how Ronald Resnick had known Juan Morales hadn't robbed that bank in Milwaukee.
And shapeshifters usually needed their victims alive.
Well, maybe she's not a shapeshifter…but then what?
If this wasn't a 'shifter pretending to be Jessica….
Sam's thoughts were cut off when she started speaking again. "Sam, we can talk to anyone you like. My parents, the doctor…anyone. I can prove that you're just sick. Okay?"
Sam reluctantly, numbly, nodded. He was having trouble countering her argument. It made sense, after all. Certainly more sense than the life he remembered had made the past two years. He thought of all the times he or Dean had talked about how weird their lives were…of how little their predicament had made sense. And he was still so groggy from the night before, head aching from his visions. It was all just too confusing.
She got up, promising to take him to anyone he asked to see in order to prove her story correct, and stepped into the bathroom to finish getting ready.
What if she was telling the truth? What if Dean was the one who'd died at Stanford?
Sam watched her disappear through the door. A cold knot of dread formed in his gut. What if she was right?
He moved back to Dean's bed. He remembered the previous night so well….
"I…just cut myself on my knife. Got blood on the sheets…."
Wait a minute. With a quick glance toward the closed bathroom door, Sam lifted the pillow and looked underneath. It took a few long, discomforting moments, but he found it.
A small tear in the sheet and a drop of red blood.
Where he'd cut himself just a few hours earlier.
Sam's knot of dread turned into anger. He'd doubted himself…his brother…and almost let that thing get away with it. The thing that dared wear Jessica's face.
He jumped up from the bed, intent on finding something to defend himself with. All the guns and knives were missing. Sam searched for something, anything, but found nothing. He patted himself down, feeling a hard lump in his right pocket. His pocket knife. The one Dad had given him when he was old enough to carry one.
He'd never been so grateful for falling asleep in his clothes. He prayed the creature in his room was vulnerable to blades.
Sam braced himself. He needed to find Dean, and "Jess" was his only source of information. He'd have to play it cool.
When the bathroom door opened, though, that plan flew out the window.
Dean slowly regained consciousness. Everything hurt. He rubbed at the small burn mark on his stomach where his captors had tasered him during his earlier escape attempt. He wasn't sure how long ago that was. His watch had been taken along with everything else on his person.
Everything, he found, except for one very important thing. The three men who'd grabbed him had busted into the room just moments after Sam had fallen asleep. Or maybe passed out was a better description, now that Dean thought about it; Sam hadn't even moved when Dean was wrestled out of the room. He wasn't sure of the how, yet, but he was pretty sure Sam had been drugged somewhere along the way. Probably in the diner.
However the setup started, Dean had only just been getting ready for bed, and as luck would have it, hadn't removed his ankle sheath yet when the intruders entered. And they'd missed it when they'd searched him.
He removed the small but lethal blade from his boot and climbed back to his feet. Whatever was going on, it involved Sam, and Dean feared he'd been right about them being lured to Rockford.
But for what? Was the whole thing a trap just to nab Sam?
If so, why not just kill me? he thought grimly.
What was worse, he'd recognized one of the men as Charlie Reynolds. Dean had met him, briefly, years earlier when he'd come through Illinois with John. The man was a hunter. Or had been. Rumor was he'd gone independent and was working as a bounty hunter, for both living bounties and not-so-living ones. If he'd heard about Sam and come to the same conclusion as Gordon Walker….
But since Sam had a vision…that meant the ex-hunter had to be working with….
Dean took a few moments to gather his strength. He needed to get out of there. He eyed the knife in his hand. It was a special blade he'd found at Caleb's when they'd gone through his things after Meg had killed him. He and Pastor Jim had left a lot of useful tools behind. This was one of them. It was consecrated, pure silver, with a small inlay of rock salt along the sharp edge. So long as the salt didn't get wet, it was a potent weapon.
Dean never let it get wet.
He didn't know whether the two men outside the door were human or something else, but it didn't matter. It was becoming more and more clear that whoever or whatever they were, they were working for the yellow-eyed demon. And they had Sam. That was crossing the line.
The only light source was what was coming from beneath the door, but Dean could see, and feel, where his earlier attempt to escape had weakened the door. It wouldn't take much more to get it open. He proceeded quietly.
He placed the hilt of the knife between his teeth and braced his arms against the closet walls. He hoisted himself off the floor and kicked forward with both feet.
Two kicks were all it took. The door splintered and flew open. Dean dropped forward and lunged out, instantly assessing the situation. Two of the men who'd kidnapped him, neither of them Reynolds, were sitting at a rickety table, obviously unprepared for his appearance. The one nearest him reached for the taser on the table, but Dean got to him first.
Five minutes and a black eye later, Dean was out of the building. There was little inside it besides the room where his guards had stayed and the closet he'd been kept in. His only option was to return to the motel. With any luck, Sam would still be there. If he wasn't, then maybe he'd left some clue to his whereabouts. Dean carefully wiped his blade clean and placed it back in its sheath.
He needed transportation. Calling a taxi was out of the question since he didn't have his phone and didn't see any public phones nearby. He did see a beat-up sedan parked in front of the building, though. It was probably what they'd used to get him here.
With any luck, the keys would be in it, but that wasn't a requirement. It wouldn't take him long to hotwire the car.
When "Jess" re-entered the room, Sam brought his knife up, keeping it between the two of them.
"Where is Dean?"
She seemed flabbergasted, "Sam, what's---?"
"You're good," he interrupted her coldly. "You almost had me convinced that it was all in my head. But you missed something. Dean's blood is on that sheet. He cut himself last night."
That seemed to bring her up short. She glanced from Sam to the bed and back. Then her whole demeanor changed like a switch had been flipped.
"Dammit. I told them to get rid of everything," she spat. Her voice had changed. It still sounded like his Jess, but an undercurrent of venom flowed through it. Her face had hardened into a fierce scowl.
Sam's anger grew when she didn't even try to deny the error. "Where is he?"
She turned back to him, her gaze as chilling as it was alien. "You know what, Sam? I've had about enough of you."
Her eyes changed to a fiery red glow, and Sam was slammed back against the wall by the door with enough force to knock the wind out of him. He gasped for breath as she sauntered toward him.
"You want the truth? Fine. Dean is dead. He died just last night, in fact." With that, she cast her eyes upward, causing Sam to follow her gaze.
Oh, my God….
The ceiling above the beds was charred black. There were scorch marks indicative of a raging hot fire. Another vision of Dean on the ceiling exploded in Sam's head, and he futilely tried to raise his hands, but something kept him pinned.
"Jess" smiled at him, all the warmth of earlier gone from her features. "Know what the best part is, Sam? You were the one who did it."
He looked at her in shock. "What?"
"You had another burst of power," she explained, "like the time in Saginaw? You remember that little moment with the china cabinet, I'm sure."
"How do you know about that?"
"We keep tabs on people we're invested in, my dear. We know a lot about you."
No. I couldn't have hurt Dean. NO!
Bizarrely, while he'd feared the possibility of "going darkside" and hurting Dean, for months after learning what their Dad had told Dean in the hospital, Sam had almost come to grips with it. At least if it started to happen, he might have a chance to fight back…a chance to save Dean from getting hurt or worse.
But in his sleep? Hurting Dean unconsciously…killing him? Sam couldn't accept that.
"I can see the doubt in your eyes, Sammy," Jess cooed, "but believe it. You should have seen his face. He thought you were having a nightmare and came over to check on you. The next thing he knows, he's flying up into the air and you're killing him. Just like you've been afraid of."
He struggled to resist her words. She's lying. She lied before and she's lying now. Sam choked down the doubt and fear and tried to focus on getting information. Like he was trained to do. "Who are you?"
She laughed, rubbing her palm affectionately along his jaw line, "I'm Jessica, babe. I know you haven't forgotten. We were very close."
"You're not Jessica," he spat. "She's dead."
"Oh, honey," she purred, moving in close and rubbing her leg along his, "how fragile the human mind is. I am Jessica. I always was. I found you when you ran off to school. Everything was on track until that pain-in-the-ass brother of yours found out about it."
Sam swallowed thickly, trying to ignore what her leg was doing. "What are you talking about?"
"I was sent to Stanford to keep an eye on you…make sure you turned out the way our mutual yellow-eyed friend wanted. I must admit, I thought I did a pretty good job of getting you to burn all the bridges with your family. But I underestimated Dean's influence over you."
She hooked her arms around his neck and leaned provocatively against his pinned body. "He found out and rushed to the scene, always the Big Hero. He exposed me."
Sam shook his head. "It can't be…I saw her die."
"Ah, yes…poor baby…see, that's the other part I wasn't lying about. You really did have a psychotic break. Dean revealed me as a demon, and, oh, you felt so betrayed. Your fragile little mind couldn't handle the idea you'd been a demon's bitch for more than a year and never knew it. You conjured up the notion that I died over your bed, just like Mommy. Dean's been humoring you all this time. I think he was afraid to set you straight. I can't imagine why…."
Sam stared hard at her but couldn't tell if she was lying this time or not. He felt that tightly coiled knot of fear again. She was enjoying his turmoil, though.
"I gotta say, darling, I was hurt. You found it easier to believe I was murdered than to accept what I was. I really thought we had something."
He couldn't bring himself to speak. What she was saying wasn't outside the realm of possibility. Too much had already happened for him to deny it outright. He was finding it difficult to concentrate. It felt like his brain was buzzing. Just like earlier.
"Well," Jess continued, "at any rate, I'm supposed to bring you to our 'friend,' but I can't very well turn you over like this. You're damaged goods, Sam. We're going to have to fix you before you start your new life."
He blinked, not expecting that. "You let Anson be driven insane. And Scott Carey. Why am I any different?"
"Oh, Sam, you're much more important than them. Besides, 'insane' is a relative term. He needs you healthy, and sane. We don't want to ruin his plans now, do we?"
As if on cue, two men entered the room. Sam recognized one of them but couldn't remember from where. That one stepped forward and jabbed some kind of needle into Sam's neck. Whatever was in it worked fast, and he was hit with the same dizziness he'd experienced the night before. As his world faded out, Sam felt the demon's hold leave him, and he crumpled bonelessly to the floor.