The first thing Sam was aware of was the fact that he was tied up, his wrists bound tightly behind him, his ankles tied to the legs of the chair he was sitting in. Groaning, head pounding, he opened his eyes. The room was dark and murky, a single square of light coming into the room from a high, grimy window.
"'the hell?" he muttered to himself. He looked around for any clue as to where he could be.
The room was familiar, but his muddled mind couldn't make the connection.
The metal door, the dark stains on the dirt ground, the holes in the wall that looked like they'd been put there by bullets. He knew this place well, if he could just remember…
It hit him like a freight train.
"You remember now," a voice said next to his ear, making him jump. A man materialized out of the darkness.
"You," Sam snarled, nostrils flaring as he struggled against the ropes. "You son of a bitch."
The man pulled a knife from his belt and held it next to Sam's cheek.
"Come on, Sammy boy. No need to be rude."
Sam's heart pounded against his ribcage, his breath coming fast and hard. "Don't call me Sammy," he said bitterly.
The man drew his knife down Sam's face, the cut enough to make Sam draw in a sharp breath.
"You're not still mad about that girl are you?" the man asked. "You know, grudges are bad for your health."
"I'm gonna be bad for your health," Sam spat.
The man laughed. "Where did you hear that? Die Hard? Come on, I always thought of you as more original than that."
"Sorry to disappoint."
The man put the point of his knife to Sam's chest.
"You wanna see her again, don't you? This is really what you want, isn't it? To be with her?"
Sam didn't reply.
"You should have heard her scream. She begged for her life. Right up to the end, when I-"
"You son of a bitch!" Sam screamed, struggling against his bonds. "I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna kill you with my bare hands!"
"I don't think so," the man said calmly.
Sam gritted his teeth as the man dug the knife into his skin, drawing blood.
The man put his mouth next to Sam's ear. "This was always how it was going to end," he whispered, and pushed the knife into Sam's heart.
Sam sat up in bed, heart racing, his hair stuck to his forehead with sweat. He breathed deeply, trying to get himself under control, and looked at the clock.
That was an hour more sleep than he usually got.
Sighing, he pushed away the covers and swung his long legs over the side of his bed, putting his head in his hands. After a few minutes, he forced himself to get up and get going. He had work to do.
Sam looked up from his coffee to see the Chief of Police striding toward him.
"You seen Hanson yet?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "You mean Dean's not here yet?"
"I wouldn't be asking you if he was."
Just then, the door burst open and Dean Hanson strolled in, a smirk on his face, his green eyes bright.
"Speak of the devil! Hanson, hurry your ass up and get over here. I've got a case for you," Chief Hardy barked.
"Sorry I'm late, sir. Got held up in traffic."
Sam rolled his eyes as Dean used the same lame excuse he always did.
"We got a call this morning I want you to take a look at. Seems like your kinda case," Hardy said, and gave them the address.
Sam sat in the passenger seat like usual, Dean getting in after him.
Sam looked up. "Yeah?"
"What's the problem?" Dean asked.
Sam shrugged. "No problem."
"There's a problem."
Sam was flabbergasted at how inept his partner could be with some things, and yet so in-tune with others. Like when Sam was bothered, for instance.
"Was it the dream again?" Dean asked quietly.
"You wanna talk about it?"
"What is there to talk about? It won't make a difference. I thought it would get better once I caught the guy that killed Jess, but it didn't. It just makes it worse, knowing that he's sitting there in a jail cell, living and breathing while my fiancé is underground. Not a day goes by I don't think about marching in there and killing him myself."
Dean nodded his sympathy. "Yeah. I know how you feel. But trust me when I say vengeance is not the answer. My dad thought it was, and look where he is now. Locked up in a cell somewhere instead of the man that killed his wife. He called me once. Just once, to tell me he'd finally found the man that did it and that he'd gotten his revenge. We haven't talked since. I don't want that to be you."
Sam looked down. He knew Dean was right. "Did it make him feel better?" he asked.
Dean started the car. "He didn't say," he said, a trace of sadness in his face.
Sam put a hand on his shoulder and opened his mouth to say something, but Dean pushed him away and held up his hands.
"No chick flick moments, Sammy."
Sam punched his shoulder. "How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Sammy?"
Dean laughed. "Dude, you've been telling me that since we were in the Academy together. Now, what was that address again?"
Dean let out a low whistle. "Man. I thought I'd seen it all, but this…this takes the cake. What does it mean?"
Sam shrugged, examining the red scrawling on the wall. "You have as much of an idea as I do."
Dean turned to one of the other investigators. "Get a sample of the blood on the wall, find out if it belongs to our vic. Sam, why don't you and I go talk to the parents?"
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were sitting downstairs on the couch, Mrs. Taylor crying into her husband's shoulder.
"Mr. Taylor, I'm Detective Hanson, and this is Detective Fuller. We just have a few questions we need to ask," Dean said.
Mr. Taylor put his arm around his wife. "Anything we can do to help."
"Is there anyone you can think of who would want to hurt your daughter?"
"No. Chrissie is the sweetest, most loved girl you could imagine. I don't know why anyone would want to hurt her."
Mrs. Taylor let out a sob.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Taylor, I know how hard this is," Sam said sympathetically. "We're doing all we can to get your daughter back. Mr. Taylor do you or your wife have anyone that would want to hurt you through your daughter?"
"I'm a prosecutor, Detective, I've made a lot of enemies. If they wanted revenge why not come after me? Why go after my Chrissie? Do they want ransom? Oh, my poor little girl." Mr. Taylor buried his head in his arms.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Taylor. Look, we've got our best people on this case, and we will do our damndest to get your daughter back," Dean said, trying his best to be reassuring, but knowing noting he could say would be much help.
Sam gave Mr. Taylor a pat on the shoulder. "Look, Mr. Taylor. If you can think of anything that could be relevant, anything at all, give us a call, okay? We'll keep you informed on the investigation."
Mr. Taylor thanked him tearfully, then showed him and Dean out the door.
"We need to find out what the hell that symbol is," Dean said as they walked back to the car.
"I'm on it," Sam answered.
"Yeah, you were always the nerd, weren't you?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Jerk."
"Bitch," Dean retorted.
Sam grabbed his eighth cup of coffee and returned to his computer. He'd been searching the web for hours, after visiting the library and even contacting a few professors at a nearby college to see if they knew anything about the symbol. So far, no luck. He was beginning to think it was meaningless, a sort of tag like graffiti artists used. He was scrolling through when something caught his eye. He clicked on the picture and enlarged it.
His heart pounded. That was it. That was the symbol. He quickly went to the website and read the article.
"Holy crap," he breathed, picking up his cell phone and dialing Dean's number.
A muffled and very miffed voice answered the phone. "What the hell, Sam? It's four in the morning! Someone better be dying."
"I found the symbol, Dean!"
There was a pause. Then, "And this couldn't wait until morning why exactly?"
"Well, I guess it could wait, but I found it and I just thought you'd want to know what it is because-"
"Sam!" Dean interrupted. "Slow down! How much coffee have you had?"
"Eight cups. Anyway, get this: the exact same symbol turned up at several crime scenes in the fifties. It's the symbol for this cult that did ritualistic killings until it got shut down and all of its members got thrown in prison. Looks like someone is starting it up again. Dean, we've got to find that girl."
"Alright, just give me a few hours to become a functional person, and I'll be there," Dean answered blearily.
"Good. That's good. Okay, I'm gonna go now, see if I can learn more about this cult so we can have some idea of what we're going up against," Sam said, then hung up. He had a lot of work to do.