Season Four

Episode One: Refraction

By irismay42

Part One

 

Dean had nowhere to go.

No door, no magic escape route.

And no clue what had happened to Sam and John. Were they still trapped, like Dean, in the ever-changing maze Stull church had become? Were they fighting for their lives just like he was, desperate to find a way out that really didn’t want to be found?

For the fiftieth time, Dean scanned the room where he found himself cornered, hoping against hope that somehow the church had shifted again, that another door had appeared out of nowhere and he could get the hell out of Dodge.

And Winchester luck was going to change now all of a sudden?

There was only one way in or out of here, and that was through the door opposite, which right now was completely blocked by the hordes of demons literally pouring into the small chamber, eyes narrowed and nostrils flared as they smelled the sweet scent of Winchester blood.

No way was he getting out that way.

Dean didn’t know where all these demons were coming from, but he was starting to get the impression that maybe the legends were true and Stull cemetery really did sit atop one of the seven gateways to Hell. He certainly hadn’t seen Mia in the company of any demon army. So where else could they have come from? Express elevator from the Underworld? It seemed a lot more plausible than it had an hour ago.

And if that were the case, if these demons really were tasting free air for the first time in years, maybe even centuries, then it was probably a safe bet they were looking to have themselves one hell of a good time.

And right now Dean figured he pretty much looked like the good time to be had by all.

He swallowed, kind of wishing Sam had his back, but kind of glad he didn’t, doing his level best to convince himself that his kid brother was off somewhere safe with Dad and it was only Dean set to become a demon army’s chew toy.

Okay, so there was no way out. Fine. But that didn’t mean Dean couldn’t go down swinging.

Reaffirming his grip on his favorite .45, his left hand gently grazing the outline of the demon-killing feather still tucked into his jacket pocket, Dean squared his shoulders, set his jaw and took a step toward the mass of approaching demons.

“Alright boys… come and get it!”

Although he knew bullets wouldn’t have much effect against this enemy, Dean began firing his Colt randomly into the throng, hoping at least to slow a few of the bastards down.

When the clip clicked on empty and the Hellish horde still kept coming, he took a step back, his shoulders hitting the cold stone wall behind him as the demons continued to surge in his direction.

Hand to hand then. Okay.

He dug in his pocket for the feather, fingers closing around the weeping remnant, just as an odd sensation started to tingle up his spine. Before he knew what was happening, something unseen seemed to grip him by the shoulders and tug him forcibly backwards.

Thrown off balance by the unexpected—and, in Dean’s defense, invisible—assault, he found himself falling, back, back through the wall behind him, all sense of up and down twisted and distorted as bright light seared his retinas and the howls of a hundred outraged demons lodged in his ears.

And then there was silence.

He hit the ground with a thump, still able to see the demons and the room in which he’d been trapped, but now it was as if he was looking at it down a long dark tunnel, the church receding further and further away into the distance as light seeped into the edges of his vision and bleached the entire scene out to nothing.

Blinking hard, he sat up.

He was on his ass in the cemetery, the church gone, and a bright cheery sun shining down from a perfect, clear azure sky.

What the hell?

Carefully, he attempted to clamber to his feet, his hand ghosting over his cracked ribs as he endeavored to favor his injured side and stole himself for the pain he knew was sure to follow.

But it didn’t.

There was nothing. No bone-jarring, breath-stealing spike of agony so intense it made his eyes water. Not even a twinge or a dull ache.

He straightened a little uncertainly.

Okay. So far, so freakishly weird.

Remembering the gash on his arm from where a piece of exploding gravestone had nicked him, he twisted to examine the injured limb, only to discover there was nothing there, not even a tear in his jacket.

While Dean wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he knew his body spontaneously healing itself wasn’t exactly normal.

But first things first. He could figure out his miraculous recovery later. Right now he had other priorities. Namely Sam. And Dad. And not forgetting the Impala. And getting all four of them the hell out of this creepy ass cemetery before it changed its mind and decided to trap them here forever.

Thing was, Dean couldn’t help feeling there was something off about the cemetery in which he was now standing, something different, something that tickled at the back of his subconscious, made him look around himself and think, “Huh.”

When Dean had gone into the church with Sammy and their dad, it had been just after midnight, Halloween giving out to All Saints Day, November 1st. It had been a cold, clear Kansas winter’s night, frost sparkling on the pathways and the service road that bisected the old cemetery.

Dean once again looked up at the cloudless blue sky. It was sunny and it was warm, and from the position of the sun it was somewhere around midday. There was no sign of Sam, no sign of John, no sign of the Impala. Hell, there wasn’t even any sign of the service road where Dean had parked the old Chevy back when the world made some kind of sense.

He turned slowly on the spot, trying to picture the old Stull cemetery in daylight and comparing it to the place he now found himself. The church was gone, that was a given. So was the road, and with it the Impala. Glancing to his left, he expected to see the little hill and the tree where Mia had held his father prisoner, the only slope in the Kansas-flat boneyard.

But the tree was gone, along with the hill and Mia’s lifeless body.

Instead, he found himself atop a steep slope, the ground falling away in a series of gently rolling dips and rises leading down to the cemetery gates and beyond that a vista of red roofs and softly swaying palm trees.

And Dean remembered.

He remembered this cemetery. He remembered that grave marker over there, the angel who looked like a cross between Madonna and Cher. He remembered that low, black metal fence surrounding a small family plot, and that crypt with the name “Holloway” etched into the stone.

He remembered all of this because he’d been here before.

At Jessica’s funeral.

With a jolt, Dean realized he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. He was in Palo Alto.

Stanford.

He was looking out over Stanford University. It had only been a few weeks since Dean was last here with Sam, after all, when the two of them had met up with Zach Warren.

So how the hell did that happen? How had he gotten almost two thousand miles from Kansas to California without passing go or collecting two hundred dollars?

Dean looked up at the sky again, at the palm trees. At the California sunshine. I can’t be here, he told himself. I can’t. I’m dreaming. Or stoned. Or dreaming and stoned…

Before he’d even had time to process the impossibility of his situation, the distant sound of voices drifted in his direction, causing his heart rate to pick up a little.

Craning his neck in the direction of the sound, he spotted a little knot of people dressed in black standing around an open grave. A funeral was in progress, and as he made his way hesitantly toward them, he gradually began to realize that not only did he recognize the cemetery in which he unaccountably found himself, but he also recognized the plot where this group of mourners were gathered: the wooden bench perched on the side of that little winding path; the trees with the wind chimes gently singing through their branches.

This was where Jessica was buried.

An uncomfortable chill spread through him then, and he almost turned away, afraid of what he might see should he get any closer.

But his feet appeared to be working independently of his brain, and he continued onward, nervously scanning the group of mourners for one particular face.

But this time, Sam wasn’t here, looking fragile and breakable and determined and angry and so much like his dad it had made Dean’s head spin.

Instead, Dean’s eyes lit on a small group of twentysomethings huddled together just to the left of the open grave.

Rebecca Warren’s face was half-hidden in a tissue, her skin pale and waxy and her eyes red-rimmed. Next to her, her brother Zach was holding the hand of a pretty redhead who it took Dean a second to identify without the ball cap and dirty jeans. Daisy Duffield. Cousin Daisy. Earthquake Girl.

Dean was actually surprised to discover he was pleased to see the annoying little archeologist, and his first instinct was to go over to her and see how she’d been since nearly dropping Mount Diablo on his head.

But before he could make a move toward his cousin he had to stop dead in his tracks, his attention wholly consumed by the tall blonde quietly crying at the center of the group, her head resting on the shoulder of an older lady who seemed vaguely familiar.

For a second Dean thought he was hallucinating. He blinked hard, but when he opened his eyes again the blonde was still there.

Jessica, whole and alive and beautiful and a little older than Dean remembered her.

And she was holding a baby.

For some reason, Dean’s brain decided it couldn’t process that image, Jessica alive and well with a baby in her arms, and instead he found himself focusing on the woman standing next to her. It took him a second to place her, the memory resurfacing reluctantly: she was Jessica’s mom. Dean remembered speaking to her at the funeral. Jessica’s funeral. Jessica who was standing there whole and unharmed with a baby in her arms.

It was too much for Dean, all of this. Jessica, Palo Alto. His spontaneously traveling two thousand miles without him actually going anywhere.

He had to get out of here.

That was the only course of action that made any sense to him right now.

He really had to get out of here.

He turned to leave as quickly as his jellified legs would carry him, but slowed as the pastor’s baritone voice rose above the quiet sobbing and the grief-filled hush of the graveside.

“And so we commit Samuel’s body to the ground…”

Dean stopped. Everything stopped. The world stopped, the birds stopped; for all Dean knew the grass stopped growing beneath his feet.

Samuel…

No. No way. No freakin’ way. This is not happening.

It took Dean’s legs a couple of seconds to decide whether to run like hell or head back over to the funeral party.

Taking a deep breath, he turned back to the gathered mourners, his face set into a grimace and his hands balled into fists at his sides. This is not happening, he told himself over and over as he strode purposefully toward the somber group, determination in every step. Finally drawing up behind them, his eyes lit on the marble headstone next to the freshly dug grave and his breath hitched in his chest.

SAMUEL JAMES WINCHESTER
2nd May 1983 – 2nd November 2009
Loved eternally

Dean’s vision began to swim, and his legs threatened to buckle right out from under him as one by one the mourners began to file past the hole in the ground, each gathering a handful of dirt from the pile by the side of the grave and tossing it onto the casket; the casket holding Dean’s brother. The casket holding Dean’s dead brother.

The casket holding Sam.

And then it was Jessica’s turn, and she stood there, utterly composed and dignified, silent tears slipping down her face as she threw a single red rose into the ground.

“Why, Sam?” she whispered, before turning away, her mother’s arms enveloping her shoulders as the tears turned into sobs.

Dean couldn’t do this. He couldn’t. He couldn’t bury his brother.

It’s all a dream, he told himself, squeezing his eyes tightly shut and shaking his head in fierce denial. It’s just a dream. C’mon Dorothy, click your friggin’ heels together already—I need to get back to Kansas!

When he opened his eyes and the scene before him hadn’t changed, he gritted his teeth and virtually growled in frustration, determined to think of an explanation for this insanity.

Okay, if it’s not a dream, maybe it’s an hallucination, he speculated. Or a hex. Or a million other supernatural-related effed-up piles of crap that could be messing with my head…

Whatever it was he wanted it to stop.

Someone make it stop! Now, dammit!

“Do…do I know you?”

Jessica was standing right in front of him.

Dean’s heart leapt into his throat and he almost choked on his own name. “Dean,” he managed to blurt out. “I’m…I’m Dean.”

Jessica inclined her head slightly to one side, a tiny line forming between her eyebrows. “Dean, Sam’s brother Dean?” the girl asked, her red-rimmed blue eyes lighting up hopefully.

Dean nodded slightly. “Yeah, I’m… yeah.”

Jessica’s expression broke a little and she looked as if she might start to cry again. “We tried so hard to find you after Sam’s—after the accident.”

Dean blinked. “It was—it was an accident?”

“A fire,” Jess confirmed. “In the baby’s nursery.” A sad smile flitted across her face as she presented the child in her arms to Dean. “This is Mary Ellen.”

Dean was still trying to get his head around the fact that Sam had apparently died in a nursery fire, so suddenly finding himself in a staring contest with a gurgling rugrat came as something of a shock. She was a cute little thing too, with masses of curly blonde hair and almond-shaped hazel eyes. Sam’s eyes.

“So—so—” Dean very rarely found himself lost for words with women, but as the baby—Sam’s baby—happily gazed up at him out of her daddy’s eyes, Dean realized the chances of him managing to string together any kind of coherent sentence were somewhat remote. “So—she’s how old?” he finally managed to stammer, his voice sounding strangled and way too high pitched.

“Six months,” Jess replied wistfully.

“Yeah. Figures.” Dean rubbed at the spot between his eyebrows, a headache starting to form behind his eyes. “And—and you said it was a nursery fire?”

“I barely got her out,” Jess told him, stroking one finger down the little girl’s pink cheek. “I heard Sam yelling, went in there and—and found the place was on fire and Sam—Sam was—”

She broke down into quiet, shuddering breaths, and Dean placed what he hoped was a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“But you saved the baby,” he pointed out softly.

Jess nodded. “Yeah. Mary and I got out.”

“Mary Ellen,” Dean continued in an attempt to divert Jess’s attention from the painful memory of what had happened to the love of her life. “That’s a pretty name.”

Jess somehow managed to find a watery smile. “Sam’s idea,” she told him sadly, her teary eyes sparkling in the incongruous sunshine. “After your mom and your stepmom.”

Dean blinked at her. “Our—our what now?”

If Dean hadn’t felt like his head was going to explode before, he sure as hell did now.

Jess frowned minutely. “Your stepmom?” She gestured over toward the graveside, where her mother and an attractive brunette in her early forties were speaking quietly with the pastor. “Ellen’s been a godsend,” she went on to add. “I don’t know what I would have done without her. She’s the only one I told—the only who I knew would believe me—it’s just so—so crazy…”

Dean almost didn’t pick up on Jessica’s teary confession, still pretty damn well stunned by the revelation he had a stepmom he’d never even heard of. And he was pretty sure if his dad had gotten hitched he might have mentioned it. The guy was secretive but not that secretive.

He shook his head. If he could just focus on a single instance of crazy rather than attempting to make sense out of the whole steaming pile of it, he might stand a chance of unraveling some of the knots the world seemed determined to tie in his brain.

“Believe you about what?” he managed to ask, and Jess looked at him appraisingly, uncertainty in her wide eyes. “You can tell me, I’ll believe you,” he added. “The day I’m having? Crazy doesn’t even begin to cover it.”

Jess bit her lip, hesitating for just a second longer. “If I tell you,” she began slowly. “You won’t… You promise not to tell anyone? I don’t—I don’t want people to think…” She trailed off and Dean gently squeezed her shoulder.

“You don’t want people to think you’re nuts?” he hazarded, causing the ghost of a smile to crinkle the corners of Jessica’s mouth. Trying for reassuring, Dean added, “Don’t worry. You can tell me anything, no matter how crazy it seems. We’re family, right?”

Jessica cast him a look of mild surprise that gradually shifted into one of appreciation. Nodding and taking a deep breath, she slowly began to explain. “The night of the fire?” she said, glancing around herself furtively, as if afraid of being overheard. “I heard Sam yelling. I went into the nursery and saw the flames and grabbed Mary from her crib. And then I ran.”

“And Sam?” Dean prompted a little hesitantly, his voice breaking on his brother’s name.

“This is the crazy part,” Jess continued. “I couldn’t see Sam in the nursery at all, and all I could think about was getting Mary outside as fast as I could.”

Dean swallowed before clearing his suddenly parched throat. “So far so familiar,” he muttered. “Then what?”

“I—” Jessica hesitated. “I looked back and—and I swear I saw Sam on—he was on the ceiling, Dean. On fire.”

A knife to the gut would have been less painful.

Dean’s head swam for a second and he had to take a couple of short, sharp breaths just to stop the buzzing in his ears.

Obviously mistaking Dean’s reaction for disbelief, Jessica quickly added, “I know, I know it’s crazy and I’ve only told Ellen because—because I know she knows stuff about—about stuff, y’know, from that roadhouse she runs, but I swear, I swear, Dean, Sam was on the ceiling.”

Over the pounding of his heart, Dean somehow managed to squeeze Jess’s shoulder once more and offer her a completely sincere, “I believe you.”

Jessica seemed somewhat taken aback. “You—do?”

Dean nodded. “Sam told you about our mom, right? About what happened to her?”

“I know she died in a fire too—”

Jessica never got to finish her sentence as the formidable-looking chick she’d earlier pointed out to Dean as being Ellen, the stepmom, was suddenly striding over toward them, a look on her face that could have melted iron at fifty paces.

To say she looked a little pissed was the understatement of the century. So much so that Dean actually flinched when she marched right up to him and grabbed him by both biceps.

“Where the hell have you been, boy?” the woman demanded, shaking him a little bit to add emphasis to her words. “Don’t you know I’ve been worried sick? You and that no-good reprobate daddy o’ yours just takin’ off like that the way you did! No explanation, no nothin’ just whoosh and you’re outta here! It’s been almost two years, Dean! We’ve never bothered you, never asked you for a thing. Least you could o’ done was let your little brother know you were alive! You know how worried he was? And now…” She trailed off, hanging her head as she continued to cling to Dean’s arms, although he suspected more for support than out of anger. “Now…”

“I—I’m sorry—” Dean stammered.

Ellen’s head whipped up, eyes flashing angrily. “You damn well should be!” she admonished him. “You abandoned your family, Dean. You know Sam never—” she glanced sideways at Jessica. “You know he never took this—this threat seriously. Always in denial that boy. Too busy tryin’ to be normal to learn how to protect himself. But that was what your daddy trained you for, Dean! How could you just up and leave like that?”

“I—” Dean really couldn’t answer that because he honestly had no idea. The thought of abandoning Sam was a completely alien concept to him.

“I know your daddy got a lead on—” Ellen cast another furtive glance Jessica’s way, “—the thing that—y’know—your mom, but you could have picked up the phone! Jess and I—the voicemails we’ve left for you… It wouldn’t have helped Sam, but at least you could have been here after!”

Voicemails?

Dean dug his cell out of his pocket. No service. Figured.

“I didn’t get your messages,” he stumbled feebly.

Ellen shook her head sadly, finally letting go of his arms. “That thick-headed father of yours is no better,” she said. “Haven’t heard from him in six months. Not since he signed himself out of that hospital AMA after the thing with the truck. I swear, it’s like being married to freakin’ James Bond.”

“Truck?” Dean echoed. “You mean the semi? When it broadsided the Impala?”

Ellen scowled at him. “You and your dad been hit by any other trucks lately?”

“Lately?” Dean frowned. “But—but that was 2006…”

Ellen grabbed his chin, tilted his head back and made a show of looking into his eyes. “You hit your head a little harder than everybody thought when the Impala got turned into a pretzel?” she demanded. “That was six months ago, Dean! May 2009! Do we need to get you an MRI? Or a shrink? Or has your dad’s habit of talking nonsense finally rubbed off on you?”

Dean scrubbed at his forehead, thanking his lucky stars his dad had never remarried. As far as he was aware. “Man, this place is givin’ me a headache,” he muttered, even less sure what the hell was going on or where he was or what everyone was talking about. Times like this he really needed Sam around to do the whole geek research thing. He’d be able to work out what kind of rabbit hole Dean had fallen into.

His gaze slid to the open grave and the marker with his brother’s name on it. Sam wasn’t dead. He wasn’t. Dean couldn’t believe it, wouldn’t believe it. Because if Sam was dead then…then… Then Dean’s world had been yanked right out from under him. Sam couldn’t be—couldn’t be…

Before Dean could even contemplate finishing that thought, he suddenly felt as if the world really was being yanked right out from under him.

Just like back at the church, he experienced the creepy sensation of something grabbing his shoulders and dragging him backwards and Ellen and Jessica receding away from him down a long dark tunnel just as a bright flash momentarily short circuited his vision and everything faded out to white…

* * * *

It was pitch black wherever Sam was this time, the church having apparently morphed again while he was knee-deep in demons and desperately trying to find Dean and his dad.

Except this time when the church shifted it wasn’t just a case of a new door opening in the wall or Sam turning around to find himself in a different room than the one he started off in. No, this had been way weirder. One minute he’d been fighting off Lucifer’s least finest, the next there’d been a bright flash of light and he’d felt as if he was being physically dragged backwards into…this place.

Wherever this place was.

It was dark wherever it was. That was the one thing Sam knew for a fact.

Thing was, no matter how dark Sam’s current environment, he just couldn’t help feeling he wasn’t in the church anymore. Maybe it was the change in temperature or the altered acoustics or the absence of that chilly, stony, woody, papery smell that his senses always associated with the word “church.” Sam wasn’t sure. All he knew was he was somewhere else. And he couldn’t find Dean.

He cursed for the twentieth time as he once again stumbled into something heavy and unyielding. This time a little groping around revealed the obstacle to be a large wooden packing crate, just like the other hundred or so—well, maybe five—he’d managed to walk into since finding himself here. And that wasn’t all he’d stumbled over, smacked into or tripped on so far during this little field trip. Who’d have thought there’d be so much heavy machinery lurking around trying to break a guy’s kneecaps? Of course, damage to Sam’s patellae aside, the copious amount of machinery scattered seemingly at random around the place did back up his theory that he was no longer a guest of Stull’s most famous building, but rather that he might be in a warehouse or a processing plant of some kind.

Of course that didn’t make any sense either.

Sure, the morphing rooms had been crazy weird, but as far as Sam had been able to tell the church could only alter the shape of the rooms that already existed as part of its structure, not conjure new ones out of thin air. And Sam was pretty sure there hadn’t been a warehouse stuck in the middle of the church’s chancel.

Which again begged the question: Where was he and how did he get here? And where were Dean and Dad?

Sam didn’t generally have a problem with the dark—it was kind of an occupational hazard in his line of work—but right now he would have given anything for Dean to show up with his Zippo, ragging on him and calling him Samantha for being scared of the dark.

Irritably attempting to ignore the little voice in his head currently yelling for his big brother like a snot-nosed six-year-old with a boo-boo—the little voice Sam tended to think of as “Sammy,”—Sam began to feel his way gingerly along the cracked plaster walls, stumbling into another room without actually tripping on anything else, his fingers finally fumbling with a lever that he hoped might bring up the lights.

Perhaps a little too excited to have found a possible source of illumination, Sam hastily lunged forward into the room, his foot suddenly hitting something hard, and, with his center of gravity all off kilter, he knew this time he was going down.

Trying to grab onto something to stop his fall, all his fingers found was the lever which he was hoping controlled the power, unintentionally yanking it down as he plummeted toward the concrete floor, his hands landing in something wet and sticky as his knees hit the deck with a sickening crack.

As brilliant light flooded the room, Sam scrunched up his eyes, his other senses taking over while he was temporarily blinded.

He could smell blood.

And Dean.

Scrambling upright, the first thing Sam saw when he managed to prize open his eyes was the blood coating his palms. Rocking back on his heels, one bloodied hand shot out behind him to steady himself, brushing denim before planting against concrete.

Twisting his head to see what it was he’d tripped over in the first place, Sam found himself suddenly inches away from two dead green eyes, wide open and unblinking.

“Dean?”

Sam startled backwards, fingers scrabbling at the floor as he sought to extricate himself from his brother’s unnaturally still form, slumped against the wall in a seated position with his head tilted slightly to one side. His face was waxy, frozen in an expression of shock and pain, and there was no mistaking the jagged tears in his throat: Bite marks. Like the injuries inflicted by the vampires Sam remembered fighting with Dad—Luther and his crew.

Sam fought the urge to retch, his stomach more prepared to believe what he was seeing than his eyes or his brain.

He blinked hard, willing himself to wake up in that creepy church surrounded by demons wanting nothing better than to tear his head off and show it to him. That would, after all, be so much more preferable to this.

It’s just a dream, he tried to tell himself. A very intense dream. You got hit on the head. You’re gonna wake up and Dean’s gonna be laughing his ass off at you. You’re such a girl, Sammy…

But Dean was still sitting there, staring up at him with sightless eyes, his throat torn out and his own blood staining his shirt and his jeans.

Sam tried to breathe through the nausea, his head spinning and his eyes refusing to focus. It’s not real. It’s not real. I’m still in Stull...

But the bruises around Dean’s neck looked real, just like the bite marks and the gore, as if someone had grabbed his brother around the throat and squeezed long and hard before ripping the life right out of him.

Demons. It’s demons. They’re making me see things. This isn’t happening. Dean’s not...Dean can’t be...

But a demon didn’t do this. A demon didn’t sink fangs into Dean’s neck and leave his big brother’s dead eyes staring at nothing. Staring at Sam.

Vampires. A vampire did this...

“Shouldn’t let big brother hunt alone, Sammy.”

Sam started, jumping to his feet before he’d even spun in the direction of the deep, mirthless voice and the even deeper laugh that followed.

The guy was about Dean’s height, dark-skinned with short cropped hair, red rings circling coal-black irises with blood smeared across his face and crusted in his neatly-trimmed goatee. When he opened his mouth to grin gleefully, Sam could see a jagged row of yellowed, bloodstained fangs.

“You... You did this?

Sam took a wary step backwards, his heel nudging Dean’s outstretched leg.

The vampire glanced down at Dean’s motionless form before inclining his head slightly. “You know I’d heard the Winchester Dream Team broke up back when I was in the Big House—oh and thank you very much for that, Sam. You really thought prison would come between me and my date with the Antichrist?” The vamp laughed again, the sound echoing through the empty warehouse. “Even getting vamped ain’t changed my opinion on that subject, Sam. Although I could never get Dean to see the light. I heard he made a little deal for you. His soul for your life? And then he wouldn’t hunt with you anymore ’cause he was scared you were gonna get yourself killed trying to get him outta going to Hell. Oh yeah, I know all about Dean’s demon deal, Sammy. His own soul in exchange for a monster like you? Poor deluded son of a bitch. I figured he of all people should know what’s dead should stay dead. And you should have stayed dead, Sam.”

Sam’s mouth had fallen open but no words seemed to want to come out. What the hell was this nutjob talking about? Deal? Monster? Dead? Hell? Antichrist? “I—I’m not a monster,” he finally managed to stammer. “You—you don’t even know me! What—who—who are you? How do you know my name?”

“Don’t be like that, Sammy,” the smirking vampire chided him. “I know I look kinda—uh—different since the last time we met, and I might not be the Gordon Walker you knew and—well—didn’t like very much. But there’s still a part of me that’s almost human. Almost. And at least I know I’m a monster. And I’m gonna do the right thing when this is all over. When I’ve done with you. I’m not gonna let you become the Antichrist, Sammy.”

Sam frowned. What the hell? “I don’t know you, man...” he began, but the guy just started in again with that soulless laugh of his. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Sam added, unnerved by the sardonic laughter and the way the guy was looking at him like he was—like he was something less than human.

“Come on, Sammy. You know it’s gotta end like this. I gotta end you. Dean should o’ done it himself, but I just couldn’t get him to come around to my way of thinking. But he knew. Deep down he knew what you are. We could have been friends, him and me. Comrades. But he had a one track mind that brother of yours. ‘Protect Sammy,’ even if he is worse than the filthy things we hunt.”

Sam swallowed hard. “Listen, man,” he said, backing up another step. “I really have no clue what you’re talking about. I never met you before today. I never—”

The vamp didn’t appear to be listening, his eyes sliding to Dean’s body, and more particularly the tear in his throat. “It’s funny,” he said, the hungry look in his empty eyes suggesting exactly the opposite. “I expected him to taste like gasoline.” He stepped forward and Sam flinched involuntarily, the vamp grinning horribly as he drew one long finger through the gore at Dean’s neck before slipping it into his mouth and licking off the congealing blood. “Never expected him to taste like cherry pie.”

The vamp turned his face up to Sam and grinned big and wide, Dean’s blood all over his fangs.

And that was it.

Something snapped in Sam’s head, something hot and angry and bloody. This Gordon Walker guy was toast. No way this bastard was doing this to Dean and then laughing about it to Sam’s face. His head was coming off his shoulders right the hell now.

Moving faster than the vamp appeared to be expecting, Sam grabbed a length of piping off the floor and swung it at the bloodsucker’s face.

Walker ducked, his grin broadening into a leer. “That’s my boy, Sammy. Knew you had it in you. C’mon, it’s true colors time! Show me what you got, demon spawn.”

Sam gritted his teeth, reaffirming his grip on the pipe and taking another swing.

Walker dodged beneath his arm, tackling Sam bodily and slamming him to the floor where he landed with a whump, all the air knocked from his lungs.

“That’s it, Sam. Be all you can be!” Walker ducked his head toward Sam’s neck. “Wonder what the Antichrist tastes like, huh?” He bared his fangs. “Bet you’re not as sweet as your brother!”

Sam grunted, slamming his palm hard against the vampire’s jaw, shoving his head back a little, but not enough to give him the leverage to get out from under him.

Walker growled, jerking his head up and away from Sam, before grabbing the younger man by the hair and yanking his head to the side so that his neck was bared, jugular just begging to be bitten.

Sam tried to shove the guy off but he was just too strong, fangs inches from Sam’s neck, so close Sam could smell his brother’s blood on him. His brother’s blood... Cherry pie...

The smell was intoxicating, and Sam’s head began to spin with it. Blood. Dean’s blood. It was all he could think about, all he could concentrate on, the blood on Dean’s neck and the terrifying urge to...to...

“No!”

Sam shoved Walker so hard the vampire was thrown several feet across the room, and Sam sat up suddenly, for a second dazed and disoriented, his senses tingling and adrenalin thrumming through his system. Blood. Dean’s blood. Wanting to taste.

The vampire was staring at him with wide, surprised eyes, and Sam stared right on back, his mouth drawn into a snarl and his fingers curling into claws while his heart hammered so fast and so loud he was sure he could hear it thumping against his ribs.

But it wasn’t just his heart he could hear. He could hear everything. The rustle of Walker’s jacket. The ticking of his watch. Cars on the highway two miles away.

And the smell... Dean’s blood...

All of his senses heightened and thrumming with power and with need.

With a jolt Sam realized what he was feeling: the vampire. He was feeling the vampire, his power, his desires, his strength, his anger and his insatiable hunger. It was like nothing Sam had ever felt before, a heady mix of unparalleled strength and immortal invulnerability; he was channeling the vampire, just as he had Alyssa or those demons in Elko. Just like he channeled Lucifer. The vampire’s power was coursing through Sam’s veins, his strength bolstering Sam’s own.

He could do anything; kill anything.

There was a coil of razor wire at Sam’s feet.

He picked it up with his bare hands, feeling nothing, not the barbs slicing into his flesh or the blood running down his arms. All he could think about was this vampire, this vampire tearing out his brother’s throat and emptying his veins.

Walker never knew what hit him, Sam launching himself at him so fast he was a blur of motion, muscle, sinew and sharp edges as he wrapped the razor wire around and around the vampire’s neck, pulling it taut and holding it fast, even as Walker struggled and thrashed, his own power and strength reflected back and magnified by Sam’s instinct to protect his brother and to avenge his murder.

Sam pulled the wire tighter and tighter until flesh was rent and arteries popped, reveling in the strength and the energy coursing through him. He could feel it in his veins, dark and evil and so, so wrong, could hear his pulse thundering in his ears, could almost taste his brother’s blood on his tongue as the heady scent mingled with the smell of Walker’s blood and of Sam’s own.

Finally, the wire gave, slicing through skin and tissue and bone alike, and the vampire’s head came away from his body, falling to the concrete floor with a wet thud, blank eyes staring up at Sam just as Dean’s had.

Gordon Walker seemed surprised.

Sam stood there, breathing hard, his arms shaking as the tension was released from his muscles and the razor wire, which he abruptly dropped to the ground, staring at his bloodied hands as his head buzzed and the room began to spin around him.

What did he just do? Did he just behead a vampire with his bare hands?

His knees began to buckle and he felt himself once again collapsing toward the floor. But before he could hit concrete, something seemed to grab his shoulders and tug him backwards as the room around him exploded into light and his senses, overwhelmed, could finally take no more, shutting down completely and plunging him once again into darkness.

* * * *

Dean drew in a sharp breath and tried not to hurl on the carpet.

Carpet? Since when did cemeteries have carpet?

He blinked, ghostly after-images of Jessica and Ellen seared onto his retinas superimposing themselves over the decidedly ordinary-looking apartment door in front of which he inexplicably now found himself standing.

He blinked again, mildly surprised to discover he was no longer in the cemetery in Palo Alto, but rather in the hallway of what looked like a big old house that had been converted into apartments back when stripy shirts and red suspenders were all the rage.

And his hand was raised as if he’d just rapped on the door in front of him.

Dean had no clue who lived here. Awkward.

But seriously, what the hell?

Was he dead? Was he dreaming? Was he lying unconscious in Stull church somewhere, demons beaming random images into his head? Or was this all an illusion, just as, perhaps, the morphing rooms within the church had been?

Except here it was reality that was morphing instead of the space around him.

His head hurt. And he wished he knew where Sam was.

Not in that grave in Palo Alto, he told himself. Sam wasn’t dead. Dean would know. He’d just know.

Suddenly he heard a key scraping in the lock, and the sound of a deadbolt being flung back, and the next thing he knew the door was opening and he found himself looking down at a gorgeous brunette who was smiling at him as if he was her favorite person in the whole world.

Okay, this was more like it! Maybe his crappy day was finally taking a turn for the better.

“You must be Dean!” the petite young woman greeted him enthusiastically. “I can’t believe it, I finally get to meet Sam’s elusive big brother! I was starting to think you didn’t really exist!”

Sam?

Dean smiled awkwardly, unable to get a word in edgewise before the girl stuck out her hand and resumed her chattering.

“I’m Madison,” she finally introduced herself as Dean hesitantly shook the proffered hand. “Well come on in, can’t have you standing out here all day!”

Without letting go of Dean’s hand, Madison tugged him into the apartment. She was a lot stronger than she looked, and for some reason Dean totally didn’t resist. “Er, yeah. Okay.”

“God, I was so nervous about meeting you!” Madison continued, finally letting go of Dean’s hand and ushering him into a fairly large, comfortable-looking apartment. “I mean, I know it must be a hundred times worse for you—you and Sam not having spoken since he left for Stanford and everything. Believe me, he’s nervous too, although he’d never admit it. Cool as a cucumber that one!”

Madison finally stopped to draw breath, turning back toward Dean and once again catching hold of his hand, which she proceeded to press between both of her own. “Dean, I’m so glad you two are talking again. It took me months to persuade him to try and track you down. But trust me, life’s too short to spend it being angry with the people we love. And he’s really missed you.” She laughed awkwardly, inclining her head to one side and arching an eyebrow. “That’s another thing he’ll never admit.”

Dean managed to swallow the lump which had unaccountably formed in his throat, but still couldn’t seem to get any words to come out. This was all just a tiny bit overwhelming. One minute, he’s standing next to Sam’s grave with a sobbing Jessica clinging to his brother’s baby, the next minute he’s in a swanky apartment with a hot brunette who tells him he and Sam have apparently not been talking to each other for years. Well yeah, Sam could hold a grudge like a teenage girl sometimes, but years?

How did his life suddenly get so complicated?

Before Dean could attempt to come up with an answer to that one, a tall figure hesitantly emerged from the bedroom opposite.

“Sammy?” Dean muttered, impossibly relieved to see his kid brother alive, breathing, whole and looking—good. Wow. Dean had never seen Sam look so—so happy. His skin was tanned a golden brown, broad shoulders relaxed, finely sculpted body toned like whoa and…and it had to be a sign of the Apocalypse: Sam had cut off his girlie hair. Gone were the tousled brown locks, his hair now short and neat, with bangs swept back no longer falling over his forehead in unruly curls.

Dean couldn’t quite believe what he was looking at. “Wow, Sammy you look...big.”

It was true, the kid’s muscles had muscles.

Sam smiled sheepishly. “And you look like crap.”

Dean glanced down at himself and frowned. “Thanks.”

“Just calling ’em like I see ’em, big brother,” Sam returned with a grin, approaching his sibling like a nervous teenager on his first date.

For a second the two of them just stood there staring at each other, and Dean got the distinct impression they both had completely different reasons for not having a clue what to say to one another.

This obviously wasn’t his Sam, and Dean had to keep reminding himself of that. But in some ways he kind of wished it was. He didn’t ever remember his Sam looking so relaxed and happy. So at peace and comfortable in his own skin. But still… Dean didn’t really know this Sam, no matter how much he looked like the Sam Dean had last seen back at Stull. What was he supposed to say to him?

He was spared trying to come up with a decent icebreaker by Sam suddenly grabbing hold of him and enveloping him in a bone-crushing hug. Yeah, so this so wasn’t Dean’s Sam, who he figured would probably only hug him if he was on fire. And then he’d bitch about it. Or maybe that was Dean. So hard to concentrate when someone ten times your size was trying to squeeze the life out of you.

“Dean, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” Sam was saying to the top of Dean’s head. “I was wrong to give you the cold shoulder; to cut all ties with my family; wrong to blame you for the things Dad said. It wasn’t you who told me if I walked out that door I shouldn’t ever come back.” He stopped abruptly, finally letting go of his big brother and holding him at arms length, squeezing his shoulders as he looked into his eyes with those big puppy dog ones of his own. “I shouldn’t have blamed you for the things Dad said, Dean. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Sam ducked his head slightly. “I really missed you, big brother.”

As Dean tried to come up with a suitable reply, Sam pulled him into another hug and all he could think about was that Sam smelled like dog.

“I—I missed you too, Sammy,” he said at length, and it wasn’t a lie. He had missed Sam while he’d been incommunicado at Stanford, just like he was missing Sam right now.

“Hey,” Sam still couldn’t seem to meet Dean’s gaze as he finally released him. “I’m sorry I missed Dad’s funeral.”

Dean looked up sharply. Funeral? First Sam, now Dad? Was he going to lose every member of his family today?

“Stupid way to go,” Sam continued. “Car wreck. The guy driving the semi was drunk, right?”

Semi?

“Uh—” Dean stammered. “I—guess...”

Sam’s hands were on his shoulders, squeezing gently. “I’m glad you got out okay. If you—I mean, it’s bad enough Dad—and I never got to say—never got to tell him...” Sam trailed off, his head hanging between his impossibly massive shoulders. “If you’d not got out...well I don’t know what I’d have done.”

Dean swallowed. “It’s okay, Sammy,” he said. “I’m—I’m here now.”

Sam nodded, finally looking up at his brother. “That’s all I wanted. I just wanted to say—to say sorry.”

Dean thought back to that night when he’d picked Sam up from Stanford, the night he’d begged his kid brother to come help him find Dad. That Sam hadn’t felt the need to apologize. He’d just been going to school after all. No reason to feel guilty for that, right? Obviously Dad dying had changed this Sam’s mind.

“What’s done’s done, Sammy,” Dean said at length. “Can’t change the past.”

Sam locked eyes with his brother. “No we can’t,” he said, and there was something in his eyes, something dark and unreadable that caused Dean to shift uncomfortably, reminding him he didn’t actually know this Sammy at all.

“Are you boys done with your chick flick moment?” Madison was suddenly at Sam’s elbow, smirking up at him as she tugged on his sleeve. “Come on. I’ve got beer. And vodka. And those little cocktail sausages.”

Sam laughed softly, inclining his head toward the lounge area. “C’mon. Wouldn’t want to miss cocktail sausages.”

Dean felt some of the tension seep out of his shoulders at the sound of his brother’s laughter, following Sam and Madison toward the couches angled around the big TV in the corner.

As Dean sat, he stole a glance in Sam’s direction as his brother flung himself down on the opposite couch, his arm curling around Madison’s shoulder. As he did so, his shirt shifted a little, revealing four painful-looking scratches on the kid’s neck.

Dean frowned, stiffening a little. “Wow, that looks like it hurts,” he commented nonchalantly, nodding in the direction of Sam’s injury.

Sam glanced down at himself before laughing. “What this?” He pulled Madison closer to him, his cheeks coloring. “It’s nothing. Maddy and I got a little—uh—rough last night.”

Dean squirmed. Eww! Little brother sex! “Yuck, too much information, Sammy!” he burst out, grimacing.

“Hey, you asked!” Sam returned, grinning.

“Concern for my baby brother, man!” Dean replied. “So don’t want to hear about your nocturnal exploits!”

An odd look passed between Sam and his girl. “You don’t know the half of it, bro,” he observed cryptically.

Dean frowned minutely, but thought no more of the comment, feeling himself begin to relax a little more in the company of this happy, settled Sam. “So how did you two love birds meet?” he asked eventually, looking from Sam to Madison and back again.

The young woman looked up at his brother, obvious adoration in her big brown eyes. “I threatened him with violence,” she replied incongruously, before turning back to Dean and snickering. “Just kidding,” she added. “Last summer he was interning at the law firm where I work.”

“You’re a lawyer?”

“Legal secretary. He broke the photocopier, dropped a box of paper on my foot and later spilled coffee on me. It was love at first sight.”

Dean smiled slightly. “Yeah, that sounds like Sammy.”

“Thanks,” Sam replied.

“Well you are kinda clumsy, dude,” Dean pointed out. At least, his Sam was kinda clumsy.

“Good thing physical grace isn’t a job requirement for a lawyer,” Madison said. “He’s got a real shot at an Associate’s position when he graduates Stanford Law in the summer.”

Dean sat back against the couch cushions, a tiny spark of bittersweet pride warming his chest. Sam could have had this: the girl, the apartment, the career. The life. Normal. Safe.

Madison reached over to the coffee table, picking up an already empty bottle of beer. “Hmm, that’s not right,” she said, rising to her feet. “Think we need more happy juice.”

As she headed off in the direction of the kitchen, Sam’s attention shifted to the big bay window which looked out onto a rather stunning view of the San Francisco skyline. It was a clear night, and a full moon was rising above the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance.

He stood, indicating for Dean to accompany him as he ambled toward the window.

Dean followed a little uncertainly, Sam’s suddenly stiff posture suggesting he had something serious to discuss with his brother.

Here we go. Was that the sound of the other shoe dropping Dean could hear?

As he drew level with Sam’s position, he noticed another room off to his left, an incongruous metal door partially obstructed by a large potted plant and a pretty substantial broken padlock swinging from a busted clasp. The door was dented, as if something had been thrown against it or—or something that had been locked inside had been trying to get out.

Hunter’s instincts kicking in, Dean felt a prickle of disquiet in the pit of his stomach as he followed his brother’s gaze out to the moon-washed streets beyond the window, the bright white light streaming into the room and oddly illuminating Sam’s eyes as he gazed off into the night.

“Sam...?” Dean questioned softly. “Sammy?”

Something wasn’t right here. Dean knew it as surely as he knew this huge man before him wasn’t really his baby brother.

“I’m sorry about this, Dean,” Sam said matter-of-factly, not turning away from the window, face turned up to the huge white disk of the moon. “Wrong time of the month, y’know?”

“Sam—”

Dean started at the sound of a low growl behind him. Sam had a dog?

Very slowly, he turned in the direction of the sound.

“It’s not her fault,” Sam was saying. “A neighbor attacked her. We took care of him, but it was—it was too late.”

Dean glanced sideways at Sam, before his eyes were drawn back in the direction of the growling.

“Sammy—” Dean gasped in horror as Madison emerged from the kitchen. “You—you shacked up with a werewolf?”

Strangely enough, the creature before him wasn’t bringing more beer.

Dean took a step back as the werewolf—Madison—approached him slowly, fangs bared and snout drawn into a vicious snarl, her eyes inhumanly yellow and her long claws bloodstained.

“Crap,” Dean muttered, patting himself down as he backed further away from creature. Gun. Where the hell was his gun? Rifling through his pockets, all he could find was the stupid feather, and he suspected that wouldn’t be much help against Sam’s follically over-stimulated girlfriend. “Sam?”

When his brother didn’t answer, Dean risked taking his eyes off Madison long enough to look at Sam.

But Sam wasn’t Sam anymore.

Dean’s mouth fell open but he didn’t even manage to cry out in surprise as the seven foot tall werewolf now standing where his brother had been only moments before bared its teeth and snarled at him menacingly.

“Sammy?”

Oh crap.

Dean took another step back, Madison approaching from his right as Sam stalked him from his left, the two creatures corralling him backwards, towards the room with the metal door.

Glancing briefly over his shoulder through the small crack between the dented door and the doorframe, Dean’s heart sank as he spied the scratches, claw marks and blood smeared all over the walls of the room beyond.

Oh crap.

“Sammy, listen,” he stammered, taking another step back. “I get it, you’re a werewolf now. Okay. I’m not judgin’ you, man. Seriously. I got nothin’ against werewolves. Y’know. As long as they’re not rippin’ people’s hearts out.” He held up his hands in a gesture of surrender as his shoulders smacked into the door, something hard digging into the small of his back.

Reaching behind him, he felt the solid weight of his Colt nestled in the waistband of his jeans.

“Sammy,” he said, looking into the feral eyes of the larger of the two werewolves slowly stalking him. “Don’t do this man. I’m still your brother, right? Sam?”

Pulling the gun from behind his back, he deftly slid out the clip and checked the rounds, mildly surprised to discover the bullets were silver. Had he known? Had the Dean who hadn’t spoken to his little brother in years known what Sam had become? Had he come here not to reconcile himself with Sam but to hunt him? If so, how did Dean get here? Why wasn’t that Dean here?

He hesitantly raised the .45 to shoulder height, his hands shaking even as he tried to steady himself.

This was Sam. Sammy. This wasn’t just some random werewolf, some creature Dean was compelled to hunt. This was Sam and he wasn’t a monster.

Dean couldn’t do it. He couldn’t kill his own brother, no matter what he’d become. No matter that his brother’s fangs were bared and his eyes were wild and he was being corralled into what it was becoming apparent was Sam and Madison’s killing room.

“Sammy?” Dean took another step backwards, the door swinging open behind him. “Sammy, please don’t make me do this.”

Sam growled in response, long lupine legs flexing as if he was preparing to spring forward.

“Sammy.” Dean flicked off the safety, his finger hovering over the trigger. “Sammy please don’t—”

Sam snarled and lunged toward him.

And Dean squeezed the trigger.

As the single shot rang out, Dean felt himself falling back through the metal door, his vision filled with hair and teeth and claws before everything faded out to white.

* * * *

Okay, so this was just weird.

A second ago, Sam was in a warehouse channeling the visceral power of some crazy-ass vampire, Dean dead on the floor at his feet.

Now?

He gripped the steering wheel of the Lexus he inexplicably found himself driving, trying to adjust to the sudden shift in his environment. Gone was the warehouse, Gordon Walker’s severed head staring up at him, and Dean’s bloodied corpse sprawled on the floor.

Instead he was looking through the windshield of a luxury saloon onto trees and grass and sunny fields with not a dead body in sight.

Still, every time he blinked, all he could see was his brother’s dead eyes staring up at him.

That wasn’t something he was going to forget in a hurry.

And neither were the vampire’s taunting words. Monster? The next Antichrist? Jeez, what was that guy on anyway?

Sam shook his head and took a shaky breath, for a moment basking in the sunshine and the absence of the stench of blood, his brother’s or otherwise.

He was on the interstate. Somewhere.

He craned his neck to look at the road signs flashing past the window, but the lettering seemed kind of blurry. Bringing his hand up to his face, he realized to his surprise that he was wearing wire-rimmed glasses. Squinting, he plucked the spectacles from his face, breathing a sigh of relief when the road signs abruptly came back into focus. I-90. He was on the I-90.

Tossing the glasses onto the passenger seat next to him, they landed in an open briefcase, and he glanced down at himself to discover he was wearing an expensive-looking navy blue suit and a blue and yellow silk tie similar to one Jess had bought him on his twenty-first birthday. She’d said it brought out the blue in his blue-green eyes.

Smiling slightly at the memory, Sam cast another quick glance in the direction of the open briefcase, his attention caught by a mugshot staring up at him from what looked like an open police file.

Dean.

Sam didn’t recognize the picture from any of the times Dean had been arrested in recent years. The sign he was holding in front of him stated the arrest had taken place in Little Rock, and Sam couldn’t even remember the last time they’d been in Arkansas.

Trying to keep one eye on the road, Sam twisted slightly, trying to get a better look at the file. Paperclipped to the mugshot was a pretty impressive-looking rap sheet, the words “grave desecration,” “credit card fraud,” “breaking and entering,” and, finally “murder” standing out starkly on the white paper.

Wait. Murder? Sam didn’t understand. Dean was wanted for murder? “Victim: Emily Channing, St. Louis, MO,” the page read, and Sam frowned. Didn’t Guevara fix that? Hadn’t Dean been exonerated?

Scanning further down the page, Dean’s next offense appeared to have been a bank robbery in Milwaukee where at least three people had died.

Sam’s frown deepened. A bank robber? Dean?

That didn’t make a lick of sense. When the hell had Dean ever robbed a bank?

Sam was so intent on trying to skim read Dean’s police file that he almost didn’t notice the roadblock coming up real fast in the front windshield.

Slamming on the brakes, the Lexus fishtailed a little as it screeched to a stop a foot away from the first patrol car.

Taking a breath as he attempted to shove his heart back down into his chest cavity, Sam warily eyed the rather rotund police officer approaching him, his hand on the service weapon at his hip.

Sam swallowed, pulling on the parking brake and winding down the window.

“Officer?” he greeted the cop a little nervously. “What’s going on?”

“License and registration please, sir,” the cop demanded gruffly, and Sam was seized with sudden panic. License. Where the hell would he keep his license?

Fishing in his jacket pocket, his fingers immediately closed around a soft leather wallet, and pulling it out, he yanked it open, pretty impressed by the array of platinum credit cards tucked away inside.

Searching through the cards, he finally found the I.D. he was searching for, his own face smiling up at him, and the name “Samuel James Winchester” emblazoned across the plastic for all to see.

His real name? He was using his real name?

Sam didn’t remember the last time he’d used his actual, honest to God, completely non-fake drivers license.

Quickly scanning the credit cards, Sam noted they, too, all proclaimed their owner as Samuel J. Winchester, and that immediately set alarm bells ringing in his head.

Nevertheless, he dutifully pulled his drivers license from the wallet and handed it to the police officer, nervously opening the glove box in the hopes of finding the vehicle registration and silently praying the cop wouldn’t see what else was more than likely hidden in there.

It came as something of a surprise, then, when the glove box revealed only papers, pens, a flashlight and a couple of rolls of Lifesavers rather than the customary guns, knives, holy water and box of fake I.D.s usually to be found in any Winchester vehicle.

Sam sighed in relief, pulling out the Lexus’ pink slip and offering it to the patrolman, who was frowning at Sam’s drivers license as if it held the key to the secrets of the universe.

Suddenly drawing his sidearm, the cop stepped back from the door, leveling the weapon at Sam’s head.

“Get out of the vehicle, sir.”

Sam blinked. “Sorry, officer, is there a problem?”

“Out of the vehicle, sir,” the cop repeated, his tone of voice brooking no argument.

Sam sighed in resignation, unbuckling his seatbelt before opening the car door, his hands raised a little sheepishly above his head. “Officer, I think there’s been some kind of misunderstanding—” he began to remonstrate, before suddenly finding himself spun around and slammed face down across the hood of the car, his wrists yanked up his back as handcuffs were slapped on a little too tightly.

He grimaced as the cop hauled him to his feet while speaking coolly into his radio. “We’ve got the other one, sir,” he said. “Bringing him to you now.”

As Sam was bundled unceremoniously into a waiting police cruiser, he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell he’d dropped into this time. Shrugging as he settled into the uncomfortable vinyl seat, he figured it couldn’t be any worse than seeing Dean dead and bloody at his feet.

Two cops climbed into the front of the car, pulling the vehicle smoothly away from the roadblock and heading up the interstate in the same direction Sam had been traveling. Finally able to read the road signs, Sam noted they appeared to be headed for Boston, and settled himself in for the ride as his brain cogitated on potential escape routes and the relative wisdom of dislocating his thumbs.

Thirty minutes later, Sam found himself being driven into downtown Boston, the police cruiser turning into what looked like a pretty rundown warehouse district.

The car took a sharp right, and Sam could see that something was going on at the bottom of the street, blue police lights flashing as a gaggle of cops strung copious amounts of blue police tape around what looked like the entrance to a disused warehouse.

As they drew closer, a female cop waved them forward, talking into her radio as she moved a sawhorse out of the way to allow the patrol car through.

Pulling up next to at least five marked police vehicles, a couple of ambulances and a few unmarked, unremarkable sedans, the two cops exited the front of the cruiser before opening the back door and yanking Sam out.

He stumbled a little, but the cops each took an arm, stringing him out between them as they dragged him toward the entrance to the warehouse.

The place looked dark inside and Sam blinked, vaguely wondering whether this was the same place where he’d had the run-in with that nutjob vampire.

That question was answered soon enough as he passed two gurneys being led out onto the street to the waiting ambulances. On the first gurney was a young woman. She was clearly dead, bite marks raw and angry at her throat, a handkerchief twisted around her neck as if she’d been recently gagged. There was a hole in her forehead that had obviously been inflicted by a bullet, and from a large caliber weapon judging by the size of the entrance wound, Sam noted.

On the second gurney lay a headless corpse.

Sam swallowed bile as he realized there was a severed head looking at him from its position next to the body.

Gordon Walker.

But how? Sam had clearly not been here when the vampire bit it. No pun intended. So who could have killed him if it wasn’t Sam?

Feeling himself being tugged away from the corpse of the vampire, Sam was suddenly aware of tall black guy with a goatee and bald head approaching him. He walked with an air of self-confidence that was really quite intimidating, and the navy blue FBI windbreaker he was wearing gave some clue as to his identity.

As he neared Sam’s position, a smug smile spread across his lips, and he finally stopped right in front of him, hands planted on his hips as he nodded, obviously pleased with the situation.

“Sam Winchester,” he said, grinning broadly. “It’s been a while.”

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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