A/N: For stephaniew, friend, beta and research - or should I say production *waggles eyebrows*? - assistant...
When we started this project, Steph said, "Oooh! You've got to do The Matrix!" I'm pretty sure I curled my lip and wrinkled my nose because, thanks to an ex-boyfriend, I hated that movie...but I went with it because it's one of her favorites. Now, while I still wouldn't put it in (or near) my top 10, I can at least say I appreciate it. Thanks for broadening my horizons yet again, Steph. I hope I get this one right for you...
Spoilers: Changing Channels, The Matrix
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or The Matrix.
Chapter Two: The First Jump
A wall of steel gray clouds blocks out the sun. Gently falling snow lends an uneasy sense of calm to the surrounding scene as Dean slips the Impala into a cleared spot in the nearly empty parking lot, the traffic-packed wintry mix crunching under his baby's tires. It's normal at first glance. Too normal. The kind of normal that makes him queasy and causes him to question why he let Sam talk him into this.
Oh. That's right. A girl. A very pretty, very engaged redhead who openly made a pass at Sam right in front of her fiancée. He chuckles and, looking at himself in the rearview mirror, straightens his necktie. "You ready, Sammy?"
Sam shifts in his seat, reaching for the passenger door handle and avoiding the laughter in Dean's gaze. Mouth tight, he gives a brief nod and they get out of the car. "Yeah, let's get this over with."
Dean runs his tongue across his teeth. With a grin, he claps his brother on the shoulder as they walk toward the glass doors. "What's the matter?" he teases, "Not so hot on these gremlins after all?"
"Dean," Sam snarls through clenched teeth.
"Lighten up," he presses. "Just because he nearly pulled his gun on you..."
"You're such a jerk," Sam answers, shaking his head as they each grab a door handle and walk into the building.
The brothers approach the desk in the lobby, neither seeming to notice the half eaten Snickers bar in the guard's hand or the glint in his eye when he smiles at them. "Can I help you, fellas?"
Dean withdraws his badge from his pocket and flashes it quickly without allowing further inspection. "I'm Special Agent McGuinn, this is my partner, Special Agent Crosby," he explains. "We're here about the occurrences at Strickert Technologies."
The guard takes a bite of his candy bar and gestures towards a bank of elevators to his right. "Thirteenth floor."
Dean leads the way and presses the up button. Sam is hot on his heels. They board the car and Dean reaches for the button as the doors slide closed behind them. The number 13 flashes green as it's compressed and the car lurches upward.
Sam shivers, his mind beginning to race. He leans back against the wall, his hands resting on the support railing as he thinks about things for a minute. "Uh, Dean?"
Tugging at his sleeve without looking at his companion, Dean answers, "Yeah, Sam?"
"Most buildings don't have a 13th floor. Builders are superstitious. The number of construction deaths triples when the number of floors includes 13. A 13th floor is usually only accessible by the stairs and..."
Dean rolls his eyes. "Dude, you're a walking encyclopedia of weird. You know that? So this building has a 13th floor. Big deal."
"I think it's a trap. If it's not a trap, it's involved somehow," Sam continues. He glances at the marker above the door.
Ten. They're drawing closer. Eleven. He reaches behind him and draws his gun. Twelve. Dean begrudgingly draws his own weapon. Thirteen. The doors slide open.
The sun greets them, shining from an infinitely blue sky. They look around as the cautiously step out of the elevator, gravel crunching beneath their shoes.
Spinning around, Dean turns to see that the wide, double doors of the elevator have disappeared. They've been replaced by a single door. One that's locked from the inside.
"Oh, come on!" he yelps.
Sam gulps as it dawns on him a second too late. "Dean?"
"Not now, Sam," he growls. "We gotta find a way out of here."
"That's just it," Sam answers. "Strickert is an anagram."
"A what?" Dean answers pausing his search.
"Strickert is an anagram for trickster," he says, slipping his gun back into its position at his back. "I think it's happening again."
Dean licks his lips, his hands pushing his jacket back to rest on his hips. "No," he says in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"
"Think about it. The guard downstairs had a candy bar," Sam says with a shrug, his brow furrowing. "It didn't seem important at the time, but..."
"This is not awesome," Dean replies.
Sam looks around. Sees the green flicker of the numbers in the glass of the building across the street. Recognizing the pattern from one of his favorite movies, he can't hold back a grin. "We're in The Matrix."
Dean scoffs. "Come on, Sam. You can't be serious."
Sam tugs at the black leather coat that hangs from his body. Morpheus. He's Morpheus. He thinks about the scene. Thinks about how things are supposed to play out. Wonders how Dean will handle it. "We have to let it all go, Dean. Fear. Doubt. Disbelief."
Dean's jaw hangs open as he watches his brother turn and look towards the edge. He gulps when Sam begins to run.
"Free. Your. Mind." he calls out as he pushes away from the rooftop.
Sam soars through the air, the leather of the long duster-style coat flapping around his legs. He feels free. For the first time, the threat of the Apocalypse is forgotten. He's the gawky, too tall teenager who got his big brother to sport him the cash for a Saturday movie while Dean himself was off making out with some large breasted coed whose name he can no longer remember.
His boots hit the pavement, shattering the concrete beneath him. Almost in a squat, he thrusts upwards to his full height, his mouth falling open. "Whoa!" he utters.
Looking across the gap, he yells out, "What're you waiting for, Dean?"
"Uh, listen, Sammy," Dean fumbles. "I'm not so sure this is a good idea."
Sam chuckles. "Worried you won't be able to make the first jump?"
Dean walks to the edge and looks down. The drop down to the street seems endless. The building stretches toward the asphalt like a towering redwood. He puts his hands on his hips and lets out a low whistle. Shaking his head, he sucks in a deep breath. "You're sure about this?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. Now would you just come on?" Sam grows impatient. He knows what's about to happen. Knows that this may be their chance to jump from this movie to the next. He keeps it hidden, swallowing the secret he knows might keep Dean from taking the leap.
Dean gulps. Looking down, he mumbles, "Okie dokie..." He snorts. "Okie dokie? Since when do I say okie dokie?"
"Just do it!" Sam yells across the gap.
Walking back toward the building, Dean curses under his breath. What had Sam said? Free your mind. What the hell did that mean? "Free your mind. Free your mind," he repeats, rolling his shoulders. Taking off running, he leaps - legs spread, arms flailing - off of the edge.
Like a stone, he plummets. His body careens downward, his scream filling the air as he struggles to remember to breathe. The pavement drawing closer and closer, he yelps, "Sonuvabitch!"