Dean tossed another empty soda can toward the trash. He eyed the half-gone bottle of Jack on the dresser, and wondered if he should just pour it down the sink. Sam had really climbed in it last night, and Dean did not particularly want a re-enactment when Sam got back to the room tonight. Two hours of watching Sam swallow the whiskey down while he read web sites and made notes. Dean had thought it was just one of those nights that Sam was going to eventually drink himself into being able to sleep, so he'd kept his mouth shut and watched 'Five Easy Pieces" on t.v. But, no, Sam had had something to say, and he'd apparently been building up his courage. "Dean, I've made a decision."

Uh oh. "Yeah, what's that?"

Sam had taken another pull from the bottle, then screwed the cap on and set it down. His hands were steady, and he wasn't slurring his words or trembling. Dean didn't like what that said about his new-found tolerance for liquor, but whatever. Sam cleared his throat. "I trust you."

Dean felt a little girly at the pleasure that statement gave him. But, that clearly wasn't the main item on the menu. He waited. "Yeah? And?"

"And I want you to make the decision." Sam sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Because I can't think about it anymore. I just can't. I'm done."

Dean sat up straighter. "Think about what? Sam, what are you talking about?"

Sam looked down at the carpet, breathed out a sigh that just made him sound so tired. "You know, back when dad told you to save me or off me, I was pretty pissed. It hurt that he could think that…you know, like I was Old Yeller or something. 'Just put him down if he gets rabid…' But, I get it, now. I don't think anymore that it means he didn't love me, or thought I was just a bomb of evil waiting to go off. I think, he was just being realistic."

Dean felt the horror of those words of dad's roll through him, again. Dammit, Sam, don't let's go here again. "Sam, I told you---"

Sam looked up at Dean, held up his hand to stop him from going on. "No, no. Just listen. I know you didn't want to do it, before. But, I think there's enough that's gone down that it has to be put back on the table. And, I've thought about just finishing it myself, you know? But, I don't know. I guess I still want to try and make up for what I did, with Lucifer and the blood and everything." He shifted in his seat, focused his troubled eyes on the bottle of Jack, picked at the label. "But, my judgment hasn't proven to be so sound…Anyway, bottom line. I don't think I'll know when enough is enough." He looked back up at Dean, lazered in on him. "But you will."

Dean closed his eyes and shook his head. "No. No, Sam, you can't expect me to just…"

Sam got up, moving a little slower than normal, came and sat on the end of Dean's bed. "Yes. I can and I do expect it. Dean, you see me every day. You know evil when you see it, too. I'm on such a sliding scale, I don't trust myself to know if, or when, I cross over. But, I trust you."

Dean opened his eyes and looked at Sam. "We are not going to have this conversation again. I'm not doing that. I'm just… no." Dean didn't get a lot of say over most things in his life, but he sure as hell had say about this. He got up, stood over Sam, and pulled up on his arm. "Come on, you need to shut it down and get some sleep."

Sam had grumbled a little more, but, the alcohol had caught up to him, and he'd rolled over and slept. It was too reminiscent of Connecticut for Dean's liking. Drunk Sam he could handle. Even Guilty, Sad Sam could be dealt with. But, Defeated, Self-Sacrificing Sam? Too much. When Sam started in on the 'better off dead' speech, Dean couldn't even name the shaking that started deep inside him. Just picturing for a moment putting a bullet in Sam, well, it was nausea and horror and the end of everything. And, it wasn't. Going. To. Happen. No way. Sorry, Sammy.

Sam had woken up hung over and quiet. They'd had breakfast and talked about the demons they had tracked here to Salem. Sam had gone to the library in town, which, not surprisingly, had a pretty good collection of books on the occult. He'd called a couple of hours ago to tell Dean there were some suspicious characters he'd come across in town, and he was going to follow them for a little while, see if they were possessed or what.

So, Dean was stuck here in the room, going over Sam's piles of papers and print outs and post-it notes. "Why don't you read through the research so we can be on the same page about this Salem stuff."

He'd spread all the research out on Sam's bed. Charts about demon activity, reports on people who had 'gone postal,' gone missing, or joined some new 'religious cult,' all put into piles by area of the country. "Northeast," "Southwest," "California," "Hawaii?" Why couldn't they ever find some evil spirits that needed killing in Hawaii? Why was it always Minnesota in January? Dean sifted through. It was actually a pretty impressive pile of information. Detailed and concise. He forgot, sometimes, how smart Sam was. And that, no matter the other shit he was dealing with, and there was sometimes a lot of shit, Sam was always working. Always trying to get the right information, analyzing it, sifting through it. Dean didn't really relish trying to distinguish between people' s general craziness and real demon influence. Short of shouting 'Cristo!' every five seconds, or splashing holy water around like he was some deranged kid with a squirt gun, Dean didn't see how they could find any of these bastards. Sam always had a plan, some trail to follow. It's why they worked well together, he supposed. Even when we aren't really talking to each other, we still work well together.

Now, Sam was out there, and Dean was in here. Even a year ago, they would have been out following those people together. Sitting in the car, bored and giving each other a hard time. Unless, of course, they turned out to actually be demons, and then they'd be out kicking ass, backing each other up and generally making the world a safer place. Lately, they just split up the parts of whatever they were working on. Dean did the driving, Sam did the research. Dean did his share of planning, but Sam was a natural at seeking information. He always had been. But this, lately, where Sam took off after demons without giving Dean the option of tagging along? That was becoming the norm. Dean had woken so many times to find Sam gone, he didn't really worry about it anymore. Oh, the first few times he'd hit speed dial before he was really even awake. Sam always answered right away, told him exactly where he was and what he was doing. And Dean believed him. He did. If he got up a couple of times and drove out to make sure Sam was where he said he was, well, he sort of felt like that was okay. Sam probably even knew he did it. But he never said anything about it and neither did Dean.

Dean sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. If he had been pressed against a wall, he would have admitted that the distance between them was still a problem. But, they were both working on it, right? Sam wasn't sneaking around, or acting evasive. He was pretty quiet, but definitely present. So, Dean thought that was an improvement. And then, last night with the whole, 'I trust you to kill me, Dean' Yeah, he'd have to make some kind of plan to deal with that, because Sam still didn't get how Dean was never going to do that.

Dean looked back down at the papers he was supposed to be reading. Some were printed by computer, but most of the pages were notes taken in Sam's hurried, horrible penmanship. He used black ink for the information, red ink for the comments and questions. It gave Dean a bit of a headache just to think about working through all this shit, when Sam could fill him in in, like, three minutes in person. But, Sam wasn't here, and Dean didn't have anything better to do, so he read.

After a while he skipped over the specifics ("Roger Daley, age 42, Keokuk, Iowa. Disappeared July 7, '09. Went to get gas in the car at 3:00 pm….") Instead, he read Sam's red comments in the margins. They were much more informative. 'Five in Sioux City in three days. Part of cell?' Or, 'Six women, one week. Why females?' And Dean had to chuckle at this: 'Dead birds, Swine Flu or Lucifer?' Dean made himself read most of it. When he finished, he leaned into the pillows at his back and checked his watch. Sam had been gone for seven hours. Wow. That was concerning.

Seven damn hours? That was pushing back into the pre-Lucifer, pro-Ruby period. Sam could be anywhere. Be up to anything. Dean tapped his two fingers in a drum beat over his phone. Fuck it, I'm calling. So he pushed 1 on his speed dial and waited for Sam to pick up. It rang six times and went to voice mail.

Well, shit. Not this again.

He dialed again. Again, to voice mail. Sammy, please don't do this to me. Dean was embarrassingly close to hurling his phone against the wall with his frustration, when it went off.

'Evil Woman' – Sam's ringtone. "Sam, where the hell are you?"

A girl's voice, frightened and breathless, came whooshing through. "Can you help me, please? I don't know what happened. I'm lost. Please, help…"

Dean stood up. "Okay, calm down. Just breathe a minute, I'll help you. Where are you, and how did you get this phone?"

The girl panted for a while, Dean tried not to snap at her to answer his questions, then freak out. He tried again. "It's okay. I just need to know where to go so I can help you."

She blew out a couple of gusty breaths. "Okay, okay. Sorry. This is all just so fucked up…I'm in the woods somewhere. There's a guy here, he's out cold, never seen him before, he's just lying on the ground right here."

Dean opened the laptop, logged in to the GPS Phone Tracker site. Punched in Sam's number. "Is he young, long messy brown hair, kind of tall?"

The girl was calming. "Ah, I can't really, no, he doesn't have long hair, he's got, like, a totally shaved head. He's black. Maybe 40?"

Dean watched as the screen zeroed in on the state park about ten miles east. "Okay. Is there anyone else nearby? The guy whose phone this is, he's the tall, shaggy-haired dude I'm looking for."

He could hear her breathing as she must have looked around. "No, there's nobody else…wait a minute. There's a bunch of messed up leaves and a tarp thingy right at the edge of this ravine…"

Dean did not like the sound of that. "Keep looking around…if you found the phone, he's probably nearby."

"Oh shit…"

Dean sat up. "What? 'Oh, shit,' what?"

The girl's voice came back scared and whispery. "There's somebody down there."

"Down there, where?"

"At the bottom of the ravine. He's not moving."

The thing about being a Winchester was, they had the ability to suspend emotion, and just focus on action. Dean drove. He got the number of the state police from information, asked if they had access to rescue equipment. He was happy to hear they had a helicopter available. He told them where he was headed, that there was at least one injured hiker down a ravine. He called the girl back, Melanie, who had calmed down when he told her they had probably been roofied and were lucky the tall guy had found them. The bald, black guy had come around and been pretty disoriented, so Melanie had put him on the phone to talk to Dean. Dean had asked what the last thing he remembered was? When the guy had said something about black smoke, Dean had convinced him it was a typical side-effect of the date-rape drug.

Only once did he ask Melanie to check on the guy at the bottom of the ravine. "He moving yet?"

Melanie had waited a long moment. "No. No, I think he's dead. He looks dead, anyway. How do you know him? Is he a cop or something?"

"Something like that." And, when he drove up the state road through the park, he saw the cheap sedan Sam must have lifted to get up here. He pulled into the same parking lot. He could hear the helicopter coming, and sirens in the distance. He ran, following the leaf-laden path that wound away from the car. He was fine until he saw Melanie, sitting on the ground holding Sam's phone. It all became real, then. He nodded to her, and she rose as if she were going to throw herself in his arms. He brushed past her. "Show me where he is."

Melanie looked confused that she wasn't getting her rescue hug. "The dead guy?"

"Show me." And his heart sped up as he got to the edge of the drop off. About 30 feet straight down, there was Sam, lying on his back and not moving.

Not good. Not good at all.

Dean didn't freak out while they hauled Sam up the ravine in a body basket and he didn't wake up or move a muscle. He just went to him, felt that his pulse was strong, and then backed off so they could load Sam in the helicopter. They asked Dean if he had ride to St. Mark's hospital, 30 miles south. Dean said he did, and that he would meet them there. He was pretty calm when he got the cell phone back from Melanie, made sure she and the black dude, Ed, got loaded into the ambulances. He properly stored the devil's trap tarp and Sam's gun and knife in the trunk, as he'd only hastily thrown them in the back seat to keep them from the cops. When he got behind the wheel to drive to the hospital, he felt a weird kind of shudder go through his whole body. But, he ignored it, told himself Sam would be okay, he'd taken harder falls, etc. Even started to believe it. This was nothing. Sam just got a bump on the head. They didn't even think he had anything worse than a broken wrist. No biggie. He would admit to a trickle of unease at the stillness of Sam's body. It was too reminiscent of Cold Oak. Shake it off, Dean. He's fine.

When he got to the hospital, he parked, told the nurse at the desk he was Sam Perkin's brother. "Can you tell me where he is?" Even managed a pretty charming smile when she told him the room number.

But, when he walked into Sam's room, and Sam was just laying there, pale, bruised and not moving, the unease kicked up a notch. Dean felt at Sam's neck again. Did his pulse seem weaker? He sighed, looked around, was glad he was alone. He leaned in, put his hand over Sam's arm, and squeezed. "Okay, rest time is over, Sam. Open your eyes and let's get the hell out of here, hmm?" He watched Sam intently. Not a twitch, not a sound.

A doctor came in, looking over a folder of test results. He was about 50, a sharp, military hair cut, modern glasses. He glanced at Dean, then went to Sam. He opened his eyelids, shone the penlight into them. He took his pulse, checked the heart monitor, looked at the chart again, made some notes on it. Dean just stared at him, getting irritated at being ignored. They'd been through this so many times, Dean could have done the exam himself. Finally, the doctor looked over at him. "Mr. Perkins? I'm Dr. Jacoby. This is your brother?"

Dean said, "Yeah." It came out sort of wobbly. Dean cleared his throat. "So, what's the prognosis, doc?"

"Does your brother have any underlying health issues that we need to be aware of?"

"Excuse me?"

"Did he have something wrong with him before he fell into the ravine?"

Dean stared at Sam's motionless body under the white hospital blanket. "No, nothing." Just a demon blood addiction. Oh, and the usual slices, dices and head-knocking that goes on every damn day of our lives.

The doctor sighed, rolled his shoulders, like this explaining business was tiresome. "Your brother had a blow to the head, but it wasn't deep, no concussion, and no significant swelling to indicate this continued unconsciousness. It would be easier to explain if I knew he had some other health issues. Infections? Immunity disorders? Adrenal issues? Maybe there was something he didn't tell you about? Some prescriptions in his possession that you're unfamiliar with?" Dean just shook his head. "Well, does he have a regular doctor I can speak to? I know you're brothers, but a lot can go on in people's lives that we don't know about."

Dean almost laughed. A regular doctor? Prescriptions? Right. "Yeah, well, Sam and I are pretty close. It would be almost impossible for him to hide something like that from me."

The doctor flipped through Sam's paperwork again. "Well, it's mystifying. He should have regained consciousness by now. Instead, his heart is working harder, his breathing is weaker, his enzyme levels are sinking." He closed the chart. "We'll give it some more time. If he's not awake by noon, I'll have the neurologist take another look." He nodded somewhere off in Dean's peripheral vision, and walked away.

Dean's unease ramped up to full-on fear. Something was off. He could feel it. He'd seen Sam in a coma before, and in other various states of injury. He always twitched. Something inside him was always trying to move around, come back, get better. But Sam was completely still. Not an eye twitch or finger flutter to be found. He felt…empty.

Now, Dean was ready to freak out.

He called Bobby.

Dean braked to a stop at the top of the gravel road. He'd wandered through the woods for the last half hour and finally found the house he'd been looking for. He really hoped this wasn't going to be a monumental waste of time. He'd told Bobby he thought there was something supernatural about Sam's coma. "Do you know of anyone who could find out? Maybe do some kind of scan or mumbo jumbo to see if something bad got back in there?"

Bobby had thought a minute. "Well, there's Janey Morgan. If she's still alive. Used to be, she could read anybody, tell you if they were good or evil, human or creature. She's up in New Hampshire, not too far from you. I have an address, but no phone, no way to know if she's even there. And, no idea if she'll see you even if she is there."

"Why wouldn't she see me?"

"She dropped off the hunting radar at least ten years ago. Something bad went down, and she stopped being available. If she does see you, just know that she's the real deal. She can read you if she touches you, or even just something you've touched. Hell, she can read someone hundreds of miles away. She can probably find out something about Sam, so she's worth a try. If she shoots you down, call me back. I'll keep lookin' in the meantime."

Dean shut off the car and got out. It was a large log house, set away from the gravel drive, surrounded by trees that were just starting to lose their leaves. There was no car, no bike, nothing to indicate a person lived here. He walked up the steps to the front porch. It was quiet. Please let her be here. He knocked on the front door. And heard a dog bark inside. Dean felt his hope surge.

The door opened. Janey Morgan was tall, older than Dean had imagined. Probably mid-fifties. Trim, short dark hair, streaked with gray. She looked at Dean and sighed, putting her hands on her hips. Dean noted that she wore slim, black leather gloves on her hands. Dean cleared his throat. "Janey Morgan? I'm Dean Winchester. Bobby Singer sent me?"

She looked at him. Dean had to work to keep eye contact. To say she had a penetrating stare was putting it mildly. Her eyes were light, blue or gray, and they peered at him like she was reading him down to his soul. He didn't like it, but he wouldn't look away. Finally, she let out a deep sigh, and looked down. "Shit," she said quietly. "You got me. Come in. And, don't ever call me 'Janey.'"

Dean liked the inside of Jane Morgan's house. It was full of heavy wood furniture and bold colors. Book shelves were everywhere. And by each book shelf was a couch or a chair or something comfortable. She was clearly a reader. Sam would go nuts in this place. Dean cleared his throat. "I'm sorry to intrude, but I need your help."

She nodded. "Yeah, I got that. Your brother?"

Dean just stared at her.

She sat on the sofa. "It's coming off you in waves. You can explain everything to me yourself, if that will make you more comfortable. Or, I can just take your hand for two minutes, and we can cut to the chase."

Dean thought about that for a minute. "If you take my hand, won't you get everything I'm thinking?"

She smiled. "And then some. Not a good idea?"

He shook his head. "Definitely not a good idea."

She sighed. "Okay, then. Sit down and tell me."

Back in the hospital, Dr. Jacoby was talking with Cookie, the desk nurse who had worked there for 35 years. "I don't understand what's going on with this Sam Perkins. He's seemingly healthy, took a fall, bumped his head, and now, his vitals are tanking, and there's no cause I can find. He doesn't have H.I.V. or any other auto-immune concerns. His blood counts were pretty normal when he came in, now they're going downhill every hour. I don't get it. And I don't like it when that happens."

Cookie was looking through other charts, but listening. "You want my opinion?"

Dr. Jacoby sighed. "Yes, Cookie. Otherwise I wouldn't be standing here, telling you all this."

Cookie put down the chart she was reading. "I've seen this a couple of times before. Once, with an older man who's wife of 47 years had recently died. He took a fall in the garage, broke a couple ribs. Three days later, he died. Again, a woman whose two children had died in the car accident she survived. She had a broken leg, cracked rib. A week later, she died."

Dr. Jacoby sighed. "You think he's giving up?"

"I think he's willing himself to die."

Sam was moving. He wasn't exactly walking, because he couldn't feel his steps touch the ground. But, he was still moving at a pretty decent clip. Dawn was just starting to light the sky. It felt like he'd been walking, or not walking for awhile. It had been nice, really. His thoughts were still, his body relaxed. He hadn't felt like this in a long time. Maybe never. Just walking in the woods, not afraid. There was nothing in the shadows, no evil or threats anywhere. He could feel the peace. It was like the air, the world, was clean. He moved through the trails, easy to maneuver through the moonlight. Finding his way was easy.

He and Jessica had liked to walk through the woods in California. They'd drive in her little yellow Chevy Capri up into the hills, grab some sandwiches from some deli on the way, and just walk. They'd hold hands and laugh and make out. It's the happiest he can remember being. But, even then, he'd kept an eye out for whatever might be lurking in the shadows.

Eventually, he left the woods, found a two-lane black top. He kept moving, just wanting the peace to last. The road he was on was like a thousand he'd been on before. Only right now, there were no ghosts or demons or angry spirits. There was just quiet. He could hear birds, and insects and the simple noises that night was supposed to make. His head was quiet, his heart was quiet. He wasn't worried about what was ahead or behind him. Had there ever been a time in his life when he'd just walked and not worried? Because there had always been something to be afraid of, to fight.

He really liked it here.

The day dawned, sweet and clear. The road was empty, and he just enjoyed the scenery. Eventually, he came to the edge of a little town. It just sprang up when he came around a bend in the road. The air was fresh and warm as it ruffled his hair. Habit tried to assert itself, tell him to be wary, there was always something to watch out for…But, no. He opened his senses, and the peace remained.

The houses were nice, yards well-kept. The sun rose on flowers in window boxes and trees in bloom. He noticed basketball hoops and blow-up swimming pools and bikes leaning on lawns. He came upon a pretty yellow house, and somehow knew it was where he was supposed to go. It was a bungalow, with white shutters and a wrap-around porch. There was a swing bolted to the ceiling of the porch, and soft pillows lined the wide bench seat. Sam stopped moving. This didn't feel quite like a dream, but he couldn't quite work out what it was. A vision? Heaven? Just an alternate reality that he'd landed in? He tried to connect to his other life…tried to remember what had happened before here. But, his mind was blank. The only thing he knew for sure was, for the first time in forever, he didn't feel scared, or like evil was riding his shoulders, or waiting around the next bend. He felt a little floaty, like he wasn't quite substantial. But, his thoughts were clear, his mind felt normal. Something echoed in his mind, 'stay or go.' And he understood. He knew he could go back to that place he'd left. The place of fear and despair and pain. And, even knowing it was so bleak, the pull was strong to let go of this peace and go back.

Unsure, he went and sat in the swing. The pillows felt soft underneath him. They smelled like clean laundry and soap. I don't want to leave this, he thought. I shouldn't have to go back. He leaned further into the pillows, gave himself a little push with his foot against the painted floor boards. This was nice. Nothing scary. Nothing evil. Just sunshine and a soft breeze and a comfortable porch swing. The front door of the house opened and Sam turned his head. Jessica came outside, in her Papa Smurf t-shirt and a pair of Sam's boxers. Sam smiled. She was carrying two mugs of steaming coffee. She came toward him, her megawatt smile leading the way. "Morning, baby."

Sam smiled back, his heart swelling with love. "Morning."

Jane looked at the weary young man currently sitting on her grandmother's rocking chair. Dean hadn't met her eyes since their 'stare down' at the front door. He fiddled with the tassel on one of her pillows, ran his hands down his jeans, read over the titles of some of her books. When Delilah had padded over to investigate him, he'd just watched her. She'd come close, almost putting her head in his lap, to smell and take his measure. He hadn't reached out a hand to stroke her soft fur, he hadn't smiled or talked to her, like most people would have. He'd just looked at her, and she'd stared back. Finally, Dee had sat at his feet, looking out, in her 'protector' mode. Jane got that, too. Something about Dean Winchester made her want to protect him. Which was a little ridiculous, because he was clearly a competent, strapping young man. Nothing about his outward appearance or conversation said, 'vulnerable.' But, Jane could see beneath the surface. So, yeah, she would help him.

She held up her hand. He'd told her about his brother's fall, his failure to regain consciousness, and his concern that something otherworldly was involved. "Okay, okay. Do you have something that your brother touched in the last 24 hours or so?"

Dean paused, thought a second, then pulled a red Sharpie pen from his jacket pocket. "Is this too small?"

Jane smiled. "It's fine. Just, hold it a minute." She peeled off her gloves, took a couple of deep, steadying breaths. "Okay, now, here's what I need you to try to do. Because you're holding the pen, you're also going to be on there. I don't want to breach your privacy, so I need to get past 'you.' The only way I can do that is to put a kind of block on your, um, vibe for want of a better word. You may feel a kind of buzz in your head, or a blanking of your thoughts. At least, that's how it's been described to me. It's a little weird, but not painful. If you fight it, I won't force it on you. If you accept it, I can go past you and get to your brother. It's the only thing I can do to protect your privacy and keep my reading clear. Do you think you can let me do that?"

Dean considered. At least she won't have to wade through all my shit to get to Sam. "Yeah, yeah. You do whatever you have to do."

Jane nodded. "Has anyone else handled this in the past day or two?"

Dean shook his head. "No. Just me and Sam. Mostly Sam."

"Your brother's name is Sam?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah. Didn't I say?"

She shook her head, breathed in a couple of deep breaths. "You need to come and sit right next to me. If I zone out for more than ten minutes, slap me and call my name until I come back, alright?" She smiled again, and Dean couldn't tell if she were kidding or not. He got up, and sat down close to Jane. She held up a hand, "Don't touch or even brush against me, okay?" Couple more deep breaths, and she put her hand in front of his forehead, not touching, but just hovering close to the skin. Dean felt the buzzing she had talked about. This is pretty weird—and then, his thoughts stopped. He took a steadying breath, accepting it.

And then she closed her eyes and took the pen. At first, she just looked like she was concentrating. Her face was smooth, her head cocked like she was listening to something. After a minute, she inhaled sharply, put her hand over her heart. "Jesus Christ. Warn a girl, next time…" And Dean still couldn't formulate any thoughts, he just watched her. She took another deep breath, and her face got more tense. After a minute or two, her lips trembled, and he saw tears falling from her eyes. And finally, she just said, "Oh, Sam…" in this soft, sad voice.

She dropped the pen on the table in front of the couch.

Dean's thoughts came back into focus. Jane covered her face with her hands, continued with the deep breathing. Dean waited, tried to be patient.

The dog, some sort of husky, came over to Jane and started nudging her hands, arms, knees. Jane let out a long sigh, then dropped her hands into the dog's fur. "Hey, girl, I'm here." She stood up after a minute and went to sit on the rocker. She looked over at Dean, and her face was completely different from the detached, somewhat abrupt woman who had opened the door. She cared now, about him or Sam or both of them. "I came to the echo of some kind of struggle in the woods that seemed his most recent conscious thoughts. Some demons, some ceremony that he interrupted, and then a surprised moment when one he hadn't counted on came up behind him and chucked him down the ravine." She rubbed her face, sighed. "And then, beneath his conscious thoughts, were his emotions as he went through the air, and bumped down the ravine. You know that expression, 'life flashing before your eyes?' Like in a time of great distress? Well, Sam didn't have his life flash, it was faces. Dad and mom were obvious. A blond girl called Jessica? And you. And all he felt was love, for those faces. And yours kept coming, among and between the rest. And the love was obvious, but so was his fear for you. His last thought, before he hit a rock or something, was 'sorry, Dean.' I probed deeper, trying to get a bigger picture. Man, it was hard to absorb the amount of sadness and regret that coats your Sam. I tried to let him keep most of it private, but, I had to get through that to go where I needed to go. And then I hit the fear. Jesus Christ." She cleared her throat. "He, um, he has a lot of fears. Anyway, I'm rambling. Sorry. You want to know why he's not waking up?"

Dean couldn't speak, so he just nodded.

Jane's eyes, when they met his, were pools of sadness. "I'm sorry, Dean. But, he doesn't want to come back. It's just about that simple. He's found a place in his head where there's only peace and quiet. He knows something is off, but he doesn't care. He's done. He doesn't want to feel…well, the way he's always felt. He's found a way to stop it. He may even know that he's shutting his body down. But, his resolve is pretty solid. He's locked deep somewhere, and he's not coming out."

Dean sifted through everything Jane was telling him. Sam had sadness and regret? Duh. He was a Winchester. Sadness and regret were in his frickin' bones. And he knew Sam was afraid. Jesus, where would you even start with all the fears he had? And, now, Sam has found a place where there's only peace and quiet. Well, who wouldn't want that?

Dean remembered his time with the djinn. And having a home with mom, seeing Sam with Jessica, even giving himself a great girl to call his own. But, he'd found out, while he was in it, that the reality was false. Even knowing that, he'd almost stayed. It was awesome to feel normal, to feel loved and happy. Well, shit, Sam. We don't do happy. And, we don't leave our family in the fucking lurch. So, forget staying in Wonderland. You are not leaving me here to face all this crap alone. No way. He looked up at Jane. "Can you communicate with him?"

Jane tilted her head at him. "With a normal mind, probably. But, Sam's got some serious psychic power going, there, doesn't he?"

Dean sighed. "Yeah. He's pretty powerful…even without…" he had almost said, 'demon blood,' but stopped himself. "Um, Sam's been psychic all his life. Not reading people, just, ah, sometimes seeing the future. He's using that now?"

"Not specifically. He's just got a very strong lock on his mind, like he's put up not just a fence, but a Supermax concrete, electrified, barbed wire barrier. I could maybe breach it if I were touching him, but I can't do it from here. I'm sorry." When Dean didn't respond, she cleared her throat, made an awkward motion with her hands. "Um, I know it's hard to let people go…"

Dean's head came up at that. "Who said anything about letting him go?"

Jane narrowed her eyes at him. "Dean, did you hear what I said? Sam is shutting down by his own will. There's nothing you can do to stop that."

Dean gave her a cold smile. "Watch me."

TBC