Dawn Came Again
Author's Note: I don't know why I wrote this story. And worse than that, it's technically the first in a series that I will probably never ever finish writing. But since I wrote this, I had to throw it out here for your perusal. Sorry about that. I'm also sorry if my random title makes you think dirty thoughts. So not my intention, and once seen, cannot be unseen.
x X X x
Azazel stood over the identical twin boys sharing a crib. His spies had let him know that these two were Samuel and Campbell Winchester. Both named after their poor dead grandpa. Azazel smirked as he remembered the events that had brought him here.
With the index finger of his right hand, Azazel drew a line across his left wrist and blood began to seep out.
The demon reached for the closer twin, holding the baby's mouth open and slowly dripping blood into his mouth.
"John?" the boys' mother asked from the doorway.
Since it was obvious the woman didn't remember their deal, Azazel did not stop what he was doing. He made a vaguely reassuring noise and she continued on her way.
Azazel smirked again when he was done with the first baby. He looked at the second. "Your turn."
"Sammy! Cammy!" The mother was back.
Azazel's anger was palpable as he sent Mary up to the ceiling. She didn't scream. "Get away from my babies!" she said in a voice that might have sounded deadly to another human being. Too bad Azazel wasn't human.
"Mary, Mary, Mary," said Azazel. "What did I say about interrupting me?"
Her eyes widened as she realised exactly who she was dealing with. The demon who'd killed her father and her mother. Who'd killed John before he could become her husband. Who was about to do hell knew what to her sons. For the first time in her life, when she was faced with a demon she was entirely helpless. She couldn't even scream for help because the only person who would hear was John, and if he came, he would only die again.
"Kill me," she said. "But please don't hurt my babies."
Azazel rolled his yellow eyes and ignored her comment. "I said that if nobody interrupted, nobody would get hurt." He lifted his hand and sliced a cut across her belly.
Azazel's eyes flashed, and he choked off her scream. "That wasn't very nice."
"Mary!" called John.
"You woke up your husband."
Mary made a strangled noise.
"Oh don't worry," said Azazel. "I won't kill him. Someone needs to get the baby out alive."
Azazel hid himself as John came into the room. He'd only counted on one child. One would have to do.
On the ceiling, Mary began to burn.
x x x
New Orleans, Louisiana
Dean woke to the sound of his brother having a nightmare. Sharing a motel room as they were, it wasn't exactly an uncommon occurrence. But Dean had big brother senses by the bucketload, so he went and sat on the bed beside his brother and shook him awake. "Cam, wake up!"
Dean did not expect that the first thing out of his brother's mouth would be, "Sam!"
"I'm Dean, remember? The better looking one."
Cam's eyes cleared, but he still looked panicked. "Sam's in trouble."
"Sam's not in trouble," said Dean. "He's at Stanford. Dad's the one who might be missing."
"Sam's in trouble at Stanford," said Cam. "Or, his girlfriend is. She was burning in a fire."
"Are you sure that wasn't just a nightmare?" said Dean. "You have that whole freaky twin thing going on." Sam and Cam had often had the same dream growing up. Dean figured it was still the case even when they weren't in the same room.
"No," said Cam. "He's had this nightmare before. And the same one again last night. It's happening more frequently. Something has to be wrong."
"Maybe he just had a fight with her or something. Feels guilty about it."
"Dean," said Cam, grabbing his brother by the shoulders. "I am telling you that our brother is in trouble. Are you going to help him or not?"
"Okay," said Dean. "We'll go and see Sam." He glanced at the clock radio. "In the morning. And maybe you can call Sam first."
Cam reached for his phone on the side table.
"It's two o'clock in the morning," said Dean. "You're going to wake him up."
"He just had that dream," said Cam. "He's not asleep." He listened as the call rang out and went to voicemail. Cam looked at Dean. "He's not picking up. We have to go right now."
Dean groaned, but Cam was stubborn when he wanted to be, and especially where Sam was concerned. He grabbed his bag and double checked its contents. Dean rarely unpacked and they'd been intending to leave in the morning, anyway.
Cam tried calling Sam again. This time it didn't ring out. His call was rejected. After that the phone was off. Cam's worry was replaced with cold fury. Sam had better have a good explanation for this. If he wasn't dead, Cam was going to kill him.
x x x
Stanford University, California
Sam was studying at the kitchen table in his apartment. Pretending to, anyway. He hadn't slept well last night. He hadn't slept well for a few nights, actually. Jess had put it down to stress over his impending LSAT score, but Sam was having nightmares. The idea of losing Jess in a fire the way mom had gone was more frightening than any law school application.
Jess was out at the moment, and Sam was antsy because of it. He'd considered skipping his afternoon classes before he finally convinced himself that that was crazy talk. Crazy was what he'd wanted to leave behind when he got to Stanford.
He hadn't left it behind entirely, of course. Cam would never let Sam get away with that. But the twins kept to a "no hunting conversations" policy, and his contact with Dean (who would never respect such an embargo) was limited. Sam could pretend his brothers were just on some long road trip. That one day soon they'd put down roots somewhere. Anywhere. Then he could share them with Jess.
As it was, Sam hadn't seen his brothers since he'd gotten together with Jess. Partly because they were busy and partly because he didn't want them to meet. He was lying to Jess. He didn't want to have to lie to her in front of his brothers' faces, too. To make his brothers lie to his girlfriend as if they were on just another job. Jess meant more to him than that.
The front door unlocked and Sam looked up to make sure that it was Jess. "Hey Sam." She greeted him with a perfect smile.
Sam returned hers with one of his own. Seeing her safe made the smile slip onto his face easily.
There was a noise outside the window. It sounded a lot like someone was trying to get in. Then someone knocked on the front door. The timing was suspicious.
"I'll get it," said Jess, referring to the door.
Sam couldn't argue with that without sounding a little crazy. Whoever was coming in the window was likely to be more dangerous.
Going into stealth mode, Sam kept low as he made his way toward the window. He could clearly see fingers on the windowsill. Fingers wearing a distinctive ring.
x x x
Cam stood outside Sam's apartment trying not to show how pissed off he was. He didn't want to scare off Sam's girlfriend if she answered the door. Actually, he was kind of hoping that she would answer the door. He hadn't had much of an opportunity to pull the kind of trick only identical twins could over the last few years. And if she answered the door, it would mean that nothing bad had happened to Sam.
Dean was scouting around the back of the apartment. He'd told Cam it was because he wasn't to check out Sam's protection. Cam knew it was because he was hoping Sam was home and that he could scare him somehow.
A blonde woman looked at Cam with a bewildered expression on her face. Cam smiled. Bingo. "Sam?"
Over the top of her head, Cam could see Sam staring out the window. That must mean he'd caught Dean.
"Sorry, sweetheart, it's Cam. Can't say I missed that." Because for all that he missed his brother, being mistaken for him was not. It was another altogether when he was deliberately pretending to be Sam.
As teenagers, when dad had taken them on hunts as training, he'd taken them one at a time and the other had pretended to be two people. Sam found it exhausting, but Cam found it almost as much fun as hunting itself.
Jess turned from Cam to look at Sam. Cam wished he could see the look on her face when she realised that not only did Sam have a doppelganger, but Dean was now standing in her kitchen. "Sam? What is going on?"
Cam openly laughed at the look on Sam's face and Dean joined him. Sam's caught in the headlights look was quickly replaced with one of supreme annoyance.
"Jessica, meet my brothers," said Sam. "That's Cam and this is Dean and I hope they have a really good explanation for this."
"See," said Dean, slinging an arm over Sam's shoulders. Sam shrugged it off. Dean put his arm back and gripped tighter. "Cammy was worried that Sammy here was dying since he wasn't answering his phone. We were in the neighbourhood so we thought we'd drop in."
"Okay," said Jess. "Through the window?"
"Can't be too careful," said Dean. He walked closer to Jess. "So how about we go pick up some chow while these two fight it out?"
Jess looked at Sam for confirmation. With that one motion, Cam understood that she would never leave Sam unprotected, even amongst family. She went up a few points.
Sam locked eyes with Jess. "You can show Dean that one diner with the awesome pie."
"Okay," said Jess, with a warning look.
"Awesome pie?" said Dean as they walked away. "Did you know pie can't legally be called awesome until it's got the Dean Winchester seal of approval? And if I know Sammy, he's probably exaggerating."
x x x
Left alone, the twins eyed each other. It had been almost two years since they'd last seen each other. Sam was surprised to see how much like him his brother still looked. Cam had laughed when they were twelve and Cam had broken his nose for the first time. It had been a complete accident. Sam had swung an iron crowbar at a spirit and hit Cam square in the face. For almost three months, the average person could easily tell Cam from Sam. Then Sam had gotten hit by a soccer ball during one of their games and once it had healed, their noses were exactly the same again.
That was probably when Cam had first started wearing a beanie. At first he'd claimed it was because he was cold. Then he'd kept it up at school because in general hats weren't allowed during classes but teachers always let him because that way they could tell him apart from Sam. Sam hated wearing one and pretending to be Cam, but it made it a lot easier. But Cam had never tried to make himself look different from Sam in a permanent way. The beanie was more of a statement. He wanted people to realise that yes, he had an identical twin brother, but no, that didn't mean they were the same person.
It was why Cam continued to wear the beanie even when Sam was at Stanford and there was no longer any chance of running into anyone who might mistake him for his brother. In a way, it kept Sam close to him. Wherever Sam was, he would always be Cam's twin.
"Why didn't you pick up when I called you?" Cam demanded. He always got straight to the point.
"I didn't want to talk about it," said Sam. He didn't have to mention what it was he didn't want to talk about. They both knew about his nightmares. "There's nothing to say."
"There's something weird about it, Sam," said Cam. "You can't just stick your head in the sand and ignore it."
"Leave it, Cam," said Sam. "It's just a nightmare. Just like the ones you have of mom burning on the ceiling."
"It's different, and you know it," said Cam. "It's exactly like the dream you had of Alabama."
Sam was silent.
"We saved her life, you know," said Cam. "We can save Jess."
"She doesn't need saving," said Sam. "It's just a nightmare. I'm stressed about my LSAT scores and getting into law school. If I don't get a scholarship I can't go. I'll never be able to afford it."
"Right," said Cam. "You wanna try that one on April Fool's?"
"What do you want me to say? I don't want to talk about it."
Cam could see that Sam was terrified. What he didn't understand was why his brother didn't want to do something about it. "I researched prophetic dreams when we were in New Orleans. There's a lot of lore on it. They're definitely real, but it's not inevitable. We know because of Alabama."
"Shut up!" shouted Sam. "You can't talk about this here."
"Sam..." said Cam. "I know you don't want to believe it, but I know you. If we don't do anything about this, and something happens to Jess-"
"Nothing's going to happen to her."
"Because we're going to stop it," said Cam. "Even if it means telling Dean and dad."
x x x
Dean found himself liking Jess. A lot. Sammy had good taste. Not only was she a bombshell, she was wickedly funny and shared his taste in music. Some of it, anyway.
"How can you like Jefferson Starship?" he demanded as they walked down the street. "Jefferson Airplane, maybe. But Starship? They had no idea what they were playing half the time."
"Okay, okay," said Jess. "I'll admit it. I have an inexplicable crush on Paul Kantner."
"No," said Dean. "A girl like you is not allowed to have a crush on Paul Kantner."
"Allowed?" said Jess. "And what do you mean a girl like me?"
Dean was saved from answering by the appearance of what seemed to be one of Jess' friends. "Jess!" he called from across the street.
Jess smiled at him and waited from him to make his way toward them. The blond man made his way across the street without looking both ways, seemingly oblivious when one car braked suddenly to avoid hitting him and sounded the horn at the same time. "Tyson, hi."
Dean eyed Jess and Tyson suspiciously. If there was anything resembling anything more than friendly on either side he was going to make sure Sam was the first to know.
"So, how is everything, Jess?" Tyson asked, eyeing Dean in return.
"A little crazy, actually," said Jess. "Sam's dying for his LSAT scores and his brothers stopped by for a visit."
"You must be Dean," said Tyson.
Dean relaxed a little. If Tyson recognised him, he must be friends with Sam. "That's me," said Dean, and they shook hands. Dean's level of alarm went back to its initial estimate. There was something off about Tyson's handshake. His hand was too cold, and limp until the second Dean had started to pull away when Tyson had squeezed his hand far more tightly than polite. Jess didn't notice anything.
"We were just on our way to pick up dinner," said Jess.
"And pie," said Dean, automatically trying to downplay himself. "I am starving. Drove all day to get here and barely stopped to take a leak."
"Oh," said Jess. "Then we'd better get a move on. It's just around the next corner. See you later, Tyson."
Dean didn't turn to look, but he could feel Tyson's eyes on him the entire length of the block. The feeling didn't pass until they'd turned the corner.
"So, Tyson, you known him long?"
"Since sophomore year," said Jess. "He's actually the one who introduced me and Sam."
"Really," said Dean, keeping further comments to himself.
"This is the place," said Jess, pushing open the door to a restaurant.
The smell wafting out was enough to do Dean in. "Hey, smells like Sammy might not have been exaggerating."
x x x
Sam had the nightmare again that night. Cam, sleeping on the floor out in the living room, had the same nightmare.
With Dean's hunter reflexes, it never took more than one strangled cry from either of his brothers before he was awake and armed. But Sam had made them leave their guns in the Impala, so all he had was a knife- blessed and made of iron. Cam's was silver.
In less than ten seconds, all three Winchester brothers were awake and Jessica Moore slept on, barely shifting as Sam made his way out of the bed and into the living room.
"We have to stop the dreams," said Cam when Sam entered the room. He was sitting up, leaning his back against the sofa Dean was trying to sleep on.
Despite Cam's obvious attempt to start a conversation, Dean only tried to make himself more comfortable so that he could go back to sleep.
"I don't know if there's anything we can do," said Sam. "No one stopped mom from dying."
"No one had dreams about it before she died."
"You don't know that," said Sam. "You don't know that there wasn't someone out there who could have saved her like you did in Alabama."
Dean's eyes shot open and he sat up. "Alabama?"
Sam's expression was defiant but Cam looked guilty.
Alabama stood out in Dean's mind because it had been the first time Cam had purposely instigated a hunt and then insisted that they could do it without their father.
"Let me get this straight," said Dean, looking between his brothers. "You," he pointed at Sam. "Had a dream about the woman in Alabama and you," he pointed at Cam. "Knew that. So you deliberately lied to me."
"It got us on the road," said Cam. "And we saved her life."
"There was nothing supernatural about that," said Dean.
"Except that Sam dreamed about it a week before it happened."
Dean looked at his brothers. "I don't understand. Why didn't you just tell me?"
"Would you have believed me?" asked Cam. "It took me threatening to leave without you before we headed here."
"You could have talked me around," said Dean. "You know better than I do how many times you've done that."
But this wasn't really about Cam. It was about Sam. Sam who hadn't wanted them to meet his girlfriend. Sam who hadn't trusted him with his dreams. Sam who still hadn't apologised and wasn't trying to explain himself.
"So how long are you two staying?" said Sam, changing the subject. Dean let him, because he felt the conversation was better off happening when Cam wasn't around to get into the middle of it. "Because Jess has been good about it so far, but we've got classes and exams. And... there are people out there who need your help."
"Jess needs help," said Cam. "I'm not leaving until the nightmares stop."
"And if they never do?" said Sam, irritated.
"Then I guess you'll have a new next door neighbour."
Dean groaned. "The middle of the night is the wrong time to be making life changing decisions. Get some shut-eye."
x x x
Dean woke to the smell of eggs frying. Sam was standing at the stove, tending a frying pan. He looked so relaxed and comfortable that the thought scared Dean a little. He was losing his brother to his life and to his girlfriend. He didn't like it, but he'd known that was the way it was going to go the day he found the Stanford acceptance letters. The day he could no longer ignore the fact that his little brothers intended to leave him behind.
"Need any help?" Dean asked, making his way over to Sam.
Dean was glad to note that Sam wasn't startled. He'd known that Dean was up and awake. At least all his hunter instincts weren't all gone. If there was one thing Dean had learned over the course of his life, it was that the supernatural didn't discriminate. Anyone could become a target at any time. You didn't have to be a hunter.
Sam gestured to a loaf of bread with an elbow. "You can start toasting. Jess went to get muffins and fruit." Dean wondered how he'd missed that.
"Fruit?" he asked with a crinkle of his nose.
"Well she didn't seem entirely convinced that my brothers were carnivores."
"Does that mean there's no bacon?" Dean knew he was pouting but he couldn't help himself.
"Well," said Sam. "Since you're the one who just showed up here without any notice I kind of think you should take what you can get."
"You would have had notice if you'd picked up when Cam called."
Dean sighed. It was still too early for this. Why was hanging out with his brothers more tiring than any hunt he'd been on in the past year? "So, uh, you know the dreams aren't the only reason why we're here."
Sam set down his spatula and turned to face Dean. "Are you saying there's a hunt nearby?"
"We haven't heard from dad in a couple of weeks," said Dean.
Sam went back to his eggs. "He's always missing and he's always fine."
"Not for this long."
"Okay," said Sam, sliding the eggs onto a plate. "So he's missing. Why are you here? If you're so worried why aren't you looking for him?"
"One: Cam was worried about you. And Jess. And I guess for good reason." Sam opened his mouth to protest, but Dean went on. "And two: last I heard dad was in Jericho, looking into mysterious disappearances."
Sam ignored him.
"Since Cam's pretty set on staying until the thing with Jess is sorted, I thought I'd go down to Jericho and look for dad myself."
That got Sam's attention. "Alone?"
"You could come with me," Dean said, but he knew Sam wouldn't. Not with the threat to Jess lurking over his head.
"I've got classes," Sam said.
"Dad could be in trouble," said Dean.
"I know," said Sam. "But he's always in trouble. He always gets out of it."
Sam's denial was getting on Dean's nerves. But he wasn't about to leave dad to whatever the hell was out there. Dean wasn't made for suburbia. He couldn't just stick around here while they tried to chase down whatever it was that might be gunning for Jess.
The front door unlocked, revealing Jess with bags of food and a tray of coffees. Cam stirred on the floor.
"I'm going, Sam," said Dean. "Someone has to look after dad."
x x x
Dean left with instructions to call when he reached his destination, and then every time he found something after that. Sam didn't like it, and he probably would have gone with him, just to make sure Dean didn't end up being one of those mysterious disappearances. But Cam was sure that something was going to happen to Jess and Sam wasn't about to let that happen. Jess was innocent. Dad and Dean knew what they were doing. They could handle themselves.
Jess had an eleven o'clock class, but Sam's first one didn't start until two so the twins were left alone shortly after Dean left.
"So, uh," said Sam. "I know this is a weird time and everything, but I thought I should tell you I'm thinking about proposing to Jess."
"Wow," said Cam. He didn't know what to say. He'd never thought Sam was that close to Jess. Never thought he was that close to wanting her to stick around forever. "You've been dating for how long, now?"
"A year and four months," said Sam.
"And you're sure she's the one?"
"Yeah," said Sam. Looking at him, Cam was sure that Sam was right, too.
"Then I'm happy for you," said Cam.
Sam looked at his brother. "I know it's going to be a change, but you're always going to be my brother. And I hope you find someone as great as Jess."
Cam sighed. "I was just wondering what my life would have been like if I'd come here with you."
"It was selfish of me to make you try," said Sam. "I know it's not what you would have wanted."
"None of us have ever gotten what we really wanted," said Cam. "Which is why we need to protect Jess."
"We don't know if anything's after her."
"I know," said Cam. "But if it looks like she's going to die in a fire like mom, maybe she's really going to die in a fire like mom."
"You mean, the same thing that killed mom is going to go after Jess?"
"I think it's a possibility. And it gives us something to do instead of following Jess everywhere she goes with a couple of fire extinguishers."
"Can fire extinguishers even put out supernatural fires?" Sam's eyes slid to the small one they had in the kitchen for emergencies.
"Doubt it," said Cam. "But you never know."
"So," said Sam with his hunting face on. "What do we know about creatures who set their victims on fire?"
x x x
Cam and Sam didn't get very far in their research before Sam had to get to his class. There wasn't much lore to suggest that any creature specifically set fire to its victims. There were fire spirits and fire gods, but nothing seemed to fit.
"What if it is the thing that went after mom?" Sam wondered. "Dad hasn't been able to get anywhere close in the last twenty years. How are we supposed to find it before it gets Jess?"
"Well we know it's going after Jess," said Cam. "And I guess there has to be a reason why."
"Yeah," said Sam. "Me." He looked thoughtful. "Maybe I am being selfish. I'm thinking of getting married to her and she doesn't know anything about me. Maybe it's better that way and I should just quit now. Nothing's going to go after her if I break up with her."
"I'm not going to let you do that," said Cam. "You deserve to be happy. And call me crazy, but I think you make Jess happy, too."
"Better to be unhappy and alive," said Sam.
"Like us right now?" said Cam.
Sam checked his watch. "I have to go," he said. "Mind checking up on Jess for me? She said she'd be at the Green Library. I'm going in the other direction."
"Okay," said Cam. "Stop looking like Dean kicked your puppy. Maybe tonight we'll have the dream again and see if we can see anything more helpful."
"You don't think I've been trying to do that every night since it first happened? There's nothing. There's Jess, looking like she's terrified and hurt, and then she goes up in flames."
"There's something weird about the nightgown she's wearing, isn't there? Like it's stuck to her funny."
"Dude were you checking out my girlfriend in a nightmare where she dies?"
"Hey I'd never seen her before," said Cam. "But no, I wasn't checking her out. I just noticed it."
"Maybe I'll just burn that nightgown," said Sam. "Maybe that'll do it."
"Sure," said Cam. "And the Easter Bunny lays chocolate eggs."
"The Easter Bunny's not real?"
Cam laughed. "Get out of here. No sense being at Stanford if you don't go to classes."
Sam grabbed his bag and stood. He made his way to the door then turned back to his brother. "Hey, bro? Thanks. You know, for being here and everything."
"You're welcome, 'bro'." Cam shook his head. "No, I can't say it. That's a ridiculous way to say it. Stanford is creaming your brain."
"Bye bro," said Sam as he went out the door.
x x x
Making his way to the library after asking a few helpful girls for directions, Cam appreciated what Stanford was. He could have been one of the people here who already knew how to get to Green Library. But what would he have studied? He was never going to be a lawyer like Sam. And he'd never been able to just sit through class all day the way Sam did.
But if he'd gone to Stanford with Sam, Cam was pretty sure he'd know who the guy running up to him right now was. And he was pretty sure the guy might even be calling him Cam and not Sam. He'd automatically checked for the beanie on his head when he'd heard the call. Some habits were hard to break.
Cam turned to look at the man. He was tall and blond, broad-shouldered. Cam wouldn't be surprised if he played football, but something about him just screamed 'threat'.
"You're not Sam," said the man.
Cam wondered who would know that right away. He knew Sam hadn't told anyone he and Dean were visiting. Then again, Jess probably had girlfriends aplenty who were the gossipy sort. "You're right about that," said Cam. "Who are you?"
The man smiled. "Tyson Brady. I met your brother last night."
Somehow Cam knew Tyson wasn't talking about Sam. But Dean hadn't mentioned anything about this man. Tyson seemed familiar somehow, though Cam was sure he'd never seen him before in his life. And not in a good way.
"That's great," said Cam. "I'm kind of in a hurry, actually."
"Oh? Where are you headed? Maybe I can help." He appeared to be nothing but helpful, but Cam didn't trust people in general, and he had a bad feeling about this one in particular.
"I'm fine," said Cam. He walked away and thankfully Tyson didn't follow. When Cam reached the bottom of the stairs leading to the library, he turned back. Tyson was exactly where he'd left him, staring at him.
Tyson smiled and waved when he saw Cam looking, but for the briefest moment, Cam was sure his eyes had flashed black. He went inside to find Jess and ask her everything she knew about Tyson Brady.
x x x
Cam didn't get an opportunity to speak with Sam alone until the next morning. After the library, he and Jess had met Sam for dinner, which had turned into drinks at a local bar with a few of Sam and Jess' friends. It had been nice recounting old times and tailoring their stories for their audience, even if his presence was something of a spectacle.
Dean had called in the afternoon to say that he'd gotten to Jericho. Then again at night, complaining that some chick had possessed his car. Cam had wondered if that was Dean's roundabout way of asking for help. But he'd sounded fine and pretty sure that he'd be seeing dad soon, so he and Sam had let it go for the moment. It was Saturday morning, so they had the rest of the weekend to go on a little road trip for their brother if necessary.
The problem with Jess was more urgent.
"Tyson Brady," Cam said to Sam as they ate breakfast together in a café near Sam's apartment. "Jess says he had a complete personality change halfway through sophomore year."
"It was closer to Thanksgiving, actually," said Sam. "Why do you care?"
"Well, you know, usually when people near me start behaving strangely overnight it's because they've been possessed."
"Brady? No way. I would have caught that."
"So you've tested him with holy water? Seen if he could cross a salt line?"
"There's salt blocking all the entrances to my apartment," said Sam. But a light came on behind his eyes. "But he hasn't been inside since the day we moved in. We always meet at his place." He shook his head. "No. It can't be Brady. He's the one who introduced me to Jess."
"Jess said the same thing," said Cam. "It was after that Thanksgiving, wasn't it?"
Sam's frown deepened. "Yeah, it was. So you're saying he's been a demon or something all this time and he hasn't done anything to hurt me or Jess. All he does is introduce me to the best relationship of my life. I don't really see how that makes him the thing that kills Jess."
"You said it yourself, you want to marry her. Think how devastated you'd be if she died."
"So it's some kind of prolonged torture?" hypothesised Sam. "Why would any demon bother with that?"
"I don't know," said Cam. "But if there is a demon inside your friend, good or bad, we're getting it out."
"Are you sure you just haven't been on the road too long?" said Sam. "Seeing demons where there are none."
"Sure, it could be coincidence that in the six months that you've lived with Jess, Tyson has never come inside your apartment. That doesn't mean we can't test him. And you owe it to your friend to exorcise him, if there's something in him."
x x x
Cam's phone rang. It was an unfamiliar number, but hunters were always more likely to call you from a number you didn't recognise.
"Hello?" he said. Dad had taught them all early on not to identify themselves on the phone. The more information someone had on you, the more dangerous they were.
"Hey Cam." It was Dean.
"Is Sammy around?"
"Got some sort of seminar," said Cam. "What's up?"
"I'm in Jericho jail."
"That was sloppy of you," said Cam. He started figuring out how long it would take him to get to Jericho and whether Dean might have figured a way out of that situation by himself by then.
"Tell me about it," said Dean. "I saw dad."
"Did dad put you in jail?" Cam had been on the receiving end of that trick one night when he'd gotten on his dad's last nerve.
"He had a room at the motel I was in. I checked it out. Saw something out the window and there's dad, driving away in his truck."
"Maybe he forgot something."
"He knew I was there, and he just left." There was a rustling noise and Dean made a rude comment to someone else. "I gotta go before they disconnect me."
"You want some help there? Or do you want Mr. Aframian to post your bail?"
"Whichever suits you," said Dean. "But you'd better be here if you don't hear from me tomorrow."
"Right," said Cam. "I'll see if Sam's up for a little road trip."
x x x
It took a while to convince Jess that it was a good idea to go on a road trip to 'post bail' for Sam and Cam's wayward older brother. But it was Friday, and well, wasn't Jess thinking that Sam could sometimes have a little more spontaneity?
Cam might have let her stay behind with Sam, but the truth was they needed her car. Sam wouldn't let him rent one with one of his fake identities so close to campus, and Cam wasn't about to take a train or a cab.
Jess let Sam drive, which was great because it meant Cam could sit in the front seat. He did not want to be in the back because her car was friggin' tiny. Cam was sure he and Sam had had bigger matchbox cars when they were little.
It was different being in a car with Cam and Jess instead of Sam and Dean and Dad. For one thing there was the music. Sam actually had the radio tuned to a top forty station. And Sam was driving the speed limit. Dean always seemed to think the speed limit indicated the minimum speed to accelerate to before actually giving speed a thought.
And, Cam wasn't really sure about himself. Dean never let him drive. Cam wasn't even sure he ever would have learned how to drive if dad wasn't such a survivalist. Driving wasn't really his thing. It was just something you did.
x x x
Sam and Jess dropped Cam off outside the jail. Sam had fed Jess some story about a picnic in the next town over so they wouldn't be in the immediate area when the cops found out that Dean had busted out.
Cam walked into the jail, after having scoped the outside. He'd waited outside for half an hour and nobody had gone in or out. Wandering in, Cam saw that there were only two men in the whole place. Small towns made it so easy.
Cam pretended to ask for directions. He didn't see Dean, but figured he wouldn't need more than a distraction to get him out of there.
From the payphone down the street, Cam placed a 911 phone call and waited.
Ten minutes later, Dean ambled toward him as though he'd never even dreamed of being held by the police.
x x x
Centennial Highway, California
Sam smiled at Jess as they drove down Centennial Highway. She was telling him a story about the day she'd accidentally locked herself in a bathroom in a nursery. It had clearly terrified her at the time but now she could laugh about the fact that she'd just turned the handle the wrong way.
Sam was about to tell Jess his own story about accidentally getting locked in a pantry (leaving out the part about the ghost that chased him in there) when the radio became static and the temperature of the car dropped about ten degrees.
Jess was looking puzzled, but unafraid. Sam looked up into the rearview mirror. A ghostly woman was sitting in the middle of Jess' back seat.
"Take me home," she said.
Sam kept driving. There was a ghost in the car. There was a ghost in the car with Jess. Jess was in the car. Jess was seeing a ghost. He was still driving.
Sam pulled over. "Jess," he said. "Get out of the car. My brothers will pick you up."
"No way," said Jess. "Not if you're staying here."
"Take me home," the woman repeated.
Then the car was driving itself, and the doors were locked, and Sam was being kidnapped by a ghost in a car with his girlfriend.
No time to panic. He wondered if his cell phone worked. Hey at least if the ghost was driving he didn't have to worry about that.
"Sam!" said Jess, panic in her eyes.
Sam reached over and put his arm around her. "It's okay, Jess. We'll be okay." Sam hit the speed dial.
"How can you say that?" asked Jess. "What are you doing? Are you calling the cops?"
The reception was bad, but Sam managed to get a signal. "Cam? Is Dean with you? What the hell was dad hunting? Because I've got a ghostly back seat driver and Jess is freaking out."
The next voice on the phone was Dean's. "Woman in white," he said. Or at least, that's what Sam hoped he said because he had no idea what a Wolloweemai was. Sam racked his brain trying to remember how to get rid of one.
Sam looked back at the woman. "But I've never been unfaithful!" Jess looked at him, startled.
"You will be," said the woman.
"She wants to go home so we take her home, right?" said Sam.
"We'll meet you there," said Dean and ended the call.
"What the hell is going on?" Jess hissed at Sam. "You aren't touching the wheel and it's moving. And there's a woman in the back seat who just appeared there while we were driving."
"Um," said Sam. "We're going back to her place?"
"Sam that doesn't make any sense."
"I know," said Sam. "But my brothers are meeting us there. It'll be fine." He kissed her to distract her but Jess couldn't relax into it.
The car began moving even faster, throwing Sam and Jess' heads back.
"I'm sorry," Sam apologised to the woman in the back seat as he rubbed his whiplashed neck. "That was insensitive of me."
"What are you doing?" whispered Jess.
"I'm trying to be polite," said Sam. "You don't piss off the woman driving the car."
Jess looked at him like he was crazy, but pasted a friendly grin onto her face. Sam had to give the girl credit for that. "Hi," she said to the woman in the back seat. "I'm Jess and this is my boyfriend, Sam. What's your name?"
The woman actually seemed confused by the question. "My name is... Constance?"
Sam figured she'd been dead awhile to have come so close to forgetting her name. While Constance had been thinking, she'd eased off on the accelerator.
Next thing Sam knew, the back window was being blown in and Constance was gone. Sam was unsurprised to see that it was Dean who had a shotgun out. Sam quickly unlocked all the doors.
"Get out of the car, Jess."
Cam, to Sam's relief, was at Jess' door, helping her out, while alert for the return of the ghost. But Sam didn't get out.
"What the hell are you doing?" Dean asked from right beside Sam. Not seeing his brother get out he'd imagined he was injured. But Sam locked the doors before Dean could get his open.
"Constance?" called Sam. "Constance, I'm going to take you home."
The woman reappeared in the front seat this time, and Sam hit the accelerator, aiming straight for the abandoned looking house.
Sam's face hit the airbag. His brothers and girlfriend were screaming at him, but he couldn't hear the ghost. She was gone.
x x x
Sam and Dean faked a car accident, in case anyone wondered why Jess' car had been totalled, and then they all left. They were halfway home in the Impala before Jess voiced what she'd been thinking.
"That wasn't the first time you've ever seen a ghost." She said it to Sam, who was sitting in the back seat with her, but she knew it meant the other two as well.
"No," said Sam. He wasn't going to lie to Jess anymore. "Cam and I were ten when we saw our first one."
"Okay," said Jess. "But that still doesn't explain why you ran my car into a house."
"Constance was a particular sort of ghost. A woman in white. They're ghosts with a personal grudge, generally because of a cheating spouse or partner. Usually, they pick a victim who resembles that cheating spouse, encourage him to drive her home, then kill him. To get rid of her, I had to do what no one else had: take her home."
"Wait, what? You're talking like taking a ghost home is a regular and normal thing to do."
"For some people it is," said Sam.
"Some people? Like you and your brothers and your dad?"
"Yeah," said Sam. "Dean likes to call it the family business."
"So your brothers aren't on some sort of soul-searching road trip?"
"Nope," Dean answered for Sam. "We're saving people and hunting things."
"Things?" said Jess. "More than just ghosts?"
"Unfortunately," said Cam.
"Okay," said Jess. She was calm. Too calm. Sam didn't think she was really processing anything that they were saying to her.
"Are you really okay with this?" asked Sam.
Jess stared at the roof above her. "I don't know yet, Sam," she said. "Ask me again tomorrow."
"I'll understand if you don't want me to stay the night," said Sam.
"What? Why wouldn't I want you around? You saved my life today, Sam. And if you're gone tomorrow how am I supposed to believe any of it?"
Sam nodded. "I'm not sure I would have gone even if you'd asked me to."
"Speaking of," said Cam. "Maybe now's a good time to tell her."
"Maybe tomorrow," said Sam.
"Tell me what?" asked Jess.
"I'm not sure you'll believe me," said Sam. "Not if you don't believe me about the other things."
"Sam, if it's important you have to tell me."
And Sam couldn't refuse to tell Jess anything. "It's about Tyson," said Sam. "Cam and I think he might be possessed."
Jess' exclamation of "What?" was echoed by Dean.
"He gave me weird vibes when I met him," said Cam. "And Sam says he hasn't been inside their apartment since they moved in."
"I knew I didn't trust that guy," said Dean.
"Why does it matter whether he's been into our apartment?" asked Jess. "Is it like a vampire thing? You have to be invited inside?"
"That's not actually true about vampires," said Cam.
"Don't worry," said Dean. "Dad says they're extinct."
"The thing is," said Sam. "The night we moved in, I pulled up the carpet and laid a salt line across the door, and the outsides of the windowsills. It's the sort of thing that stops demons and ghosts from getting in."
"Protection," said Jess.
"Yeah," said Sam. "It's not like I thought it would be specifically targeting me or you. A lot of the time it's a wrong place, wrong time scenario and I didn't want our place to be the wrong place."
"And Tyson hasn't been inside since," said Jess. "But he helped us move in. I never even noticed."
"Neither did I," said Sam.
"But," said Jess. "If he's possessed... what's he trying to do?"
"We don't really know," said Sam.
Jess looked at him..That was the first time he'd outright lied to her tonight. It wasn't a case of him thinking it might be too much for her to process. "Sam, what aren't you telling me?"
Sam seemed to be looking pleadingly at his brothers' backs. It was Cam who took Sam's silence as permission to speak.
"The reason why I made Dean haul ass to get here was because I thought you were in trouble. We think Tyson might be a demon trying to kill you the same way our mom died."
"I don't understand," said Jess. "Why would you think that? How could you know?" She looked at Sam, taking his hand in hers. "Did you tell him something?"
"No," said Sam with a shake of his head. "It's... complicated."
"Well," said Jess. "There's still an hour 'til we get home. I think that's enough time to uncomplicate it."
Sam tried to get his thoughts in order, wishing Cam could take over. So often as kids, Cam had been the one to speak what was on Sam's mind. Sometimes Sam didn't even know what he was thinking himself until Cam started talking. But Cam wasn't the one in a relationship with Jess. It was up to Sam this time.
"A few months ago I started having visions," said Sam. "I kept it from everyone. I didn't even tell Cam, but he knew."
"Visions? Like a psychic?"
"Kind of," said Sam. "I had dreams. Nightmares. Cam and I have always been able to share dreams. But we always know that when we're sharing them, they're mine. But a few months ago, they started coming true."
"And you had dreams about me."
"Started a couple of weeks ago," said Sam. "I see you burning and all I can do is watch you die."
Jess shivered and Sam clutched her hand more tightly. There was a long moment before she spoke. "And you think it's Tyson?"
"We don't know for sure," Sam tried to reassure her. "But it would probably be easier to stay away from him for a couple of days while we figure it out."
"And if he is?"
This was definitely not something Sam wanted to tell his girlfriend. "If he is... chances are he's already dead. That he's been dead for almost two years."
"No," said Jess. She shook her head and began to sob on Sam's shoulder.
The rest of the drive back to Stanford, Jess grieved for Brady before becoming resolved. "I'm not going to live not knowing," she said. "I'm going to help you find out if it's him. And if it is... I'm going to kill whatever the hell did that to him."
x x x
Stanford University, California
Jess went straight to bed when they got back to Stanford. The Winchesters stayed up and convened around the kitchen table.
"At least she knows now, right?" said Dean.
"I guess," said Sam.
"She seems to be taking it pretty well," said Cam. "She's a keeper."
"So," said Dean, leaning forward. "When the hell were you going to tell me a demon was after your girlfriend?"
"We're not sure it's a demon, Dean," said Sam. "And even if Brady is a demon, it doesn't mean he's after Jess. Something else might be after her."
"Either way," said Dean. "We're going to need to brush up on our exorcisms."
"You mean you are," said Cam. "I've got it memorised."
"Wait," said Sam. "You've exorcised a demon?"
Cam shrugged. "One was following me and Dean. It was pretty stupid actually. Kept the same vessel even though it followed us over five states."
"Something followed you for five states and you didn't notice?"
"We noticed," said Dean.
"Dean noticed," Cam clarified. "Its vessel was a busty brunette. I noticed that it was pretty strange for a chick to walk from town to town."
"We led it on a bit of a wild goose chase before we figured out the exorcism," said Dean.
"It was just following you?" said Sam. "Didn't attack or threaten you or anything?"
"Yeah," said Dean.
"Like Brady," said Sam.
The brothers looked at each other, for the first time acknowledging that there might be some greater conspiracy in place.
"Well as long as we're bringing up people we've been hanging out with," said Dean. Cam and Sam gave him odd looks. "Dad left his journal behind."
"What?" Cam and Sam said in unison.
"He deliberately left it behind before he deliberately ran the hell away from me," said Dean. "It wasn't in the motel room with the rest of the stuff about the hunt. I found it on the back seat of the Impala right before they arrested me."
"Dad never goes anywhere without that journal," said Sam, voicing what they were all thinking. "What the hell do you think he's doing?"
"There's more," said Dean. "He left a message while the cops had my phone." Dean lifted his phone from his pocket, and played the message so they could all hear it.
"Dean... something big is starting to happen... I need to try and figure out what's going on. It may... Be very careful, Dean. We're all in danger."
"We're all in danger?" repeated Sam. "You don't think this could have something to do with the demons? One after you two. Maybe one after me and Jess."
"I think," said Cam. "It's time we asked your friend Tyson some questions."
x x x
Palo Alto, California
Jess refused to stay behind. Sam was about to tie her up and gag her before he let her go. But Cam thought maybe it would be good for her to have closure (because if it turned out that Brady was a demon, he was long dead) and Dean thought it would make their cover a little more believable.
The plan was to pretend they were headed to a secret rave in an abandoned warehouse. Dean and Cam had scouted all day to find one and it was definitely not going to be hosting a party of any kind that night. They had all memorised an exorcism. The open salt circles were set up.
"Is there really nothing else we can do?" Jess asked once they'd told her the plan. "I mean that ghost could drive our car. How are we going to stop the demon from breaking out of a salt circle?"
"I don't know of any other way," said Dean. "I mean dad thought they were basically extinct."
"There's holy water," said Cam. "Slows demons down."
Jess looked at Dean and Cam. "Does the warehouse have a sprinkler system?"
Dean grinned. He looked at Sam. "I like the way she thinks." He turned back to Jess. "You are way out of my brother's league."
x x x
They'd set up a stereo, so that sound could be heard from outside the abandoned warehouse. Though Dean was unimaginably nervous about letting a demon into his car, the four of them swung by to pick up Brady on their way to the so-called party.
Brady and Cam managed to make up the majority of the conversation. Dean was good at talking to people, but Cam was good at talking to people he didn't like. Jess and Sam were feeling too betrayed and angry to be good conversationalists. All too soon it was showtime.
Jess went in first, followed by Sam and Brady. There was a curtain hiding the entrance from the room at large, but they were kidding themselves if they thought Brady wasn't going to notice this wasn't a rave. Cam surreptitiously closed the salt circle at the door, as Dean pushed Brady through the curtain a little too firmly to be friendly.
Jess and the Winchesters stepped out of the salt circle.
Brady glared. His eyes flashed black. "Sam? Jess? I thought we were friends." The stereo cut out and it was suddenly eerily quiet.
Jess was in shock. It was one thing to think that your friend could possibly be inhabited by a demon. It was another to see evidence of that friend's inhumanity.
"Alright, demon," said Dean, taking the lead. He had a flask of holy water in his hand. "Now's the part where you talk."
The demon scoffed. "Talk?"
"You introduced us," said Sam, putting an arm around Jess. "Why?"
"I think you know why," said Brady. "It's going to be epic. Little miss over here on the ceiling just like mommy."
"Sonuvabitch," said Dean. "You're the thing that killed our mother!"
Brady laughed. "Good one, Dean," he said. "That wasn't me. That was someone much higher up the hierarchy than me. He's the man with the plan."
"What does he want with Sam?" asked Dean.
"Sam?" said Brady. "Who's to say he doesn't want Cammy here, too? I know you sent my sister back to hell. She's pissed."
Cam couldn't help himself. He took the rock salt loaded shotgun he was carrying and blasted it right into Brady's chest.
After recovering from the pain, the demon grew angry. "Play time's over." The salt line broke in a sudden wind and the four humans went flying. The demon went straight toward Jess, who was having trouble catching her breath. "This isn't exactly the way it was supposed to go. But I think the boss will forgive me."
Jess found herself pressed against the nearest wall, unable to scream. Sam couldn't move, either. But the demon seemed to have forgotten that Cam and Dean were in the room. Cam shot the demon again, causing Jess and Sam to slip for a few seconds, while Dean started the exorcism. When Cam had to reload, Dean splashed it with holy water.
Sam went for the sprinkler system, knowing that now the demon might try to cut its losses and vacate its body. With the rain of holy water it wouldn't be able to. Just as Sam got close enough, Cam had to reload and Dean was out of water. Black smoke started to slip out of Brady's mouth. Sam jumped on the tap, wrenching it with all his might. Water rained down on them and the demon tried to hide within its stolen body, only to be forced to hell when Dean completed the exorcism.
Brady's body fell to the ground and Sam went over to it, quickly followed by Jess. He had no pulse. He was dead. Jess found herself sobbing, and Sam held her, not sure how he wasn't shedding a tear himself.
Dean and Cam let them have a moment and worked on shutting off the sprinklers, and hiding evidence of their faux night club.
"We have to go," said Dean.
"But what about Tyson?" asked Jess. "What about his body? We can't just leave it here."
"We'll call in an anonymous tip," said Dean. "But we can't let anyone think we had anything to do with it."
"We didn't kill him," said Jess.
"Either way," said Cam. "He's got a chest full of salt, and that's considered suspicious even if the average person wouldn't have died from it."
"I just..." said Jess. "He was gone for so long and we never noticed."
"We noticed," said Sam. "We just didn't know."
"It's not fair," said Jess, turning to sob on Sam's shoulder. "It's not fair."
x x x
Stanford University, California
They lied to the cops when they showed up. The cops probably didn't believe them, but they had no idea how Brady had died, so they couldn't exactly pin it on Jess and Sam as much as they wanted to. Maybe there was evidence they'd been there. Maybe they thought it was a prank gone wrong, but they didn't have enough evidence to charge them, much less convict them.
Sam's sleep had been undisturbed by the nightmare, and while that should have been relieving, it was only disconcerting not knowing the next step of the plan. Sure, the demon inside Brady hadn't been able to kill Jess. For that, Sam was thankful and glad. But Jess blamed Sam for Brady's death, he could feel it, just simmering below the surface.
When Cam and Dean said they were leaving, Sam had half a mind to go with them. To be far away from here when Halloween came. To be far away from Jess when the anniversary of their mother's death came around.
But Cam and Dean didn't ask Sam to go with them. Sam wondered if it was because they knew their mother's death was his fault, too. The demon had tried to say that it had something to do with Cam, but Sam couldn't believe that. Demons lied and the worst thing for Dean would be to hear that both his brothers had a demon coming after them. That there was some master plan in place for both of them.
"You have to stay safe," said Dean. "They'll come after you again."
"I know," said Sam.
"They might come after Jess again," said Cam.
"I'm teaching her everything I know," said Sam. And he was. He only wished that he didn't have to. That their life hadn't changed since last week. That his prior life wasn't driving Jess away the way he'd always been terrified it would happen.
"Hey what's this?" Dean asked, holding up an envelope. He'd started going through Sam's mail without asking. Looking for what, Sam didn't know. Dean probably didn't, either. He was probably just hoping he'd find some dirt somewhere... something to lighten the tension.
Sam recognised the envelope, though he hadn't opened it yet. "My LSAT scores," said Sam.
"LSAT?" said Dean.
"Sam needs good ones to get into law school," said Cam. It was something he and his twin had managed to talk about over the past few months.
"Why haven't you opened it?" asked Dean, finger already poised to rip it open.
Sam shrugged. "Didn't seem important."
"Didn't seem important?" said Dean. "I know you probably aced them, but really, Sam? You want to go to law school, don't you?"
"I don't know if I want to go anymore," said Sam. "As soon as I've taught Jess everything she's going to kick me out and I'll have nowhere to go and I don't even want it anymore. This life."
"That's a lie," said Dean. "You can't tell me you don't want to live here with her. Sure, you had a close call and things are going to be different between you and Jess now. But that's a good thing. You don't have to lie to her anymore. She hasn't called you a liar and run away screaming."
"She's in love with you, Sam," said Cam. "I know. I can see it."
"She wishes she'd never met me," said Sam. "I almost got her killed."
"Is that what you think?" asked Jess, coming in from the bedroom where she'd barricaded herself to get some studying done while the brothers said their goodbyes. Sam had thought she was simply avoiding him. "I can't believe you're putting words in my mouth."
Dean and Cam took that opportunity to make a hasty exit. Dean remembering to drop the envelope he was holding.
"It's true," said Sam. "If you hadn't met me you'd still be living an ordinary, safe life. One where you didn't have to worry about demons trying to kill you just because they've got some weird fixation on me."
"That's not true," said Jess. "Well, it's true, but it's not the life I'd want. I want to be with you, Sam. And maybe a few bad guys followed you here. I knew you had skeletons in your closet that you weren't ready to deal with and I accepted that. I still do. I love you and whatever happened to Brady wasn't your fault. I don't know why demons are coming after you, and I'm a little afraid to find out what they want, but I do know that that is their problem. It's their own issue. You didn't ask them to take a ride in Brady's skin until he passed out. You didn't ask them to try to kill me. You're still the same, sweet, caring, relentlessly normal guy I fell in love with a year ago. You're still the guy I want to spend the foreseeable future with. I'm just scared."
"I'm scared too, Jess," said Sam.
"It's okay," said Jess. "Because you're the best researcher I know, and we'll figure this out. And if your dad's anything like you and your brothers, well, that demon's got to watch his ass, because he's not going to be around for much longer. I still have faith in you."
"I don't deserve you," said Sam.
"Probably not," said Jess with a smirk. "But I'll let you spend a while trying to make it up to me." She reached for the envelope that Dean had dropped. "Now what do you say we cut the suspense and open the damn envelope." She handed it to Sam and he took it tentatively.
Sam stared at the numbers, dumbfounded. How could he possibly have done that well?
"174?" said Jess, reading it over his shoulder. "That's amazing! You're amazing. I am so proud of you. We need to celebrate this right now-"
Jess' happy ramble was cut off as Sam attached his lips to hers, kissing her deeply. "I love you," he said.
"I love you, too."
x X X x
A/N: So, that's that. If you've got ideas for which episode you'd like to see re-written into this 'verse next, go ahead and throw them at me. I'm also accepting rotten fruit, if this was really that bad.