Season Four

Episode Four: Traces of Red

By Kittsbud

Part One


Manoir Rouge,
La Jolla, California

Sam looked at the looming wrought iron gates that confronted him and squirmed. The ornate twisted metal reminded him of the ridiculous Hammer horror flicks he used to watch with his dad and Dean as a child.

British movies filled with more clichés than a toddler could count.

The large foreboding house, the intimidating almost surreal entrance, and of course, the unnatural mist that always seemed to hang like a portent of evil a few feet from ground level.

He could laugh at such bizarre cinematic oddities now, knowing that the only horror they contained was probably going to be as a result of the scriptwriter’s gaffs.

But this house, this place – there was nothing laughable here. His senses were screaming at him to turn, to run, to never come back.

And while that might be quite natural to an everyday guy on the street, it was the most atypical reaction possible for a hunter.

He shot a glance over to his brother who had scurried along the outer wall that connected with the gates and was now clambering over the ancient brickwork like a monkey.

Dean’s intuition was apparently not sending out any alarm bells.

Sam told himself there was no time to worry about the strange feeling in his gut, and with a sigh of acceptance, he followed Dean over into the grounds of Manoir Rouge, his huge hands sinking into soft moss as he straddled the wall and then dropped down the other side.

“Dude, can you keep that giraffe-like head and neck of yours outta the light? We’re not exactly auditioning for America’s Most Wanted here!”

Dean was scowling at him. Sam could feel it through the rough thicket even though he couldn’t actually see his brother’s face.

There was a soft double click as Dean cracked open his sawed off, checked the rock salt load and then snapped it shut again.

“Okay, Sasquatch, you hit the security system and I’ll fry our ‘little problem’s’ stuff. No more miss hissy fit, period.”

“Gotcha,” Sam answered, but Dean was already scooting across an open grass area towards the house.

In a second, Sam knew his brother would vanish inside using the easily forcible basement doors to gain entry. Once he’d gotten access, he’d have the fun task of finding their spook’s belongings and burning them while Sam was making sure the house’s extensive CCTV system wasn’t picking anything up but static.

Sam saw Dean’s shadow disappear and knew he’d dropped down into the underground room. He glanced up at the turn of the century building, checking that no lights had suddenly come on in any of the bedrooms.


Following the same path across the lawn as Dean, he veered to the left at the last minute and dropped to his knees next to the back door. There was a small black control box fixed to the wall: An expensive but out of date alarm system he’d been “circumventing” for a good few years without any glitches.

Looking over his shoulder just once, Sam plucked out his pocket-sized tool pack and got to work.

Two minutes for the alarm, then a further five minutes inside jimmying the cameras and wiping any recording of Dean doing weird things in the basement.


Sam stuffed a watchmaker’s tiny screwdriver into his mouth for safekeeping and began pulling out a section of wiring.

What would the Denisons think if they knew he was breaking into their house only a few short days after the death of one of their children?

Alex and Penny Denison had bought the period home only four weeks previously, moving in with their twin daughters, Kerry and Kathy.

Up until that point, Manoir Rouge had been a perfectly normal house, in a perfectly normal town.

But then, somehow, the Denisons had disturbed something old that had wanted to rest forever, and little Kerry had paid the ultimate price.

It had taken very little research to discover just what and who they were fighting, and in the early hours of the previous day, Dean had burned the bones of their spook with enough lighter fluid to keep all of California’s Fire Departments busy for a year, maybe two.

Now, the Winchesters were putting the final touches of their plan into place to make sure Ooljee Nascha could never hurt anyone again.

Sam pressed two sections of copper together and sucked down a breath. A small light on an interior panel turned from red to green and he dared exhale.

Making light work of the door lock now it had no backup, Sam edged into the rear entrance hall and up to the base of a large wooden flight of stairs.

“Hermann Munster was here,” he muttered under his breath as he carefully pulled a short-barreled pump action from under his jacket. There was no reason for it, but he unexpectedly felt the urge for its reassuring presence in his hands.

The CCTV room was supposed to be a small closet under the stairwell. He slid the shotgun up to the half-sized wooden door there and paused. What was he afraid of?

The big bad wolf. Sammy is afraid of the big bad wolf, a tiny voice inside his head began to cackle and Sam spun around, abruptly feeling like he’d been violated.

At the top of the stairs, he thought he heard movement. Were the Denisons awake?

And then it came.

The soft, unmistakable whimper of a child.

He moved again, positioning himself with the shotgun so he could quickly let off a couple of shells if he needed to.

As his barrel lined up with the staircase, he found he was aiming at a small blonde six-year-old. It was Kathy Denison.

Sam felt his throat bob even though he didn’t recall giving it permission.

The little girl seemed almost trance-like. Her pale blue eyes stared out into space as if there was nothing left on Earth to focus on. Either she was sleepwalking…


Kathy’s mouth opened and a voice thick with a deep native accent spoke out. “I can still feel the knife –”

Around Kathy, the air grew thick with a strange charge that even at this distance made every hair on Sam’s body stand to attention. He could feel the tiny follicles in his skin bristling as some unseen force tugged at them.

And then it began.

Sam noticed tiny whirls of dust on the wooden floor that appeared to grow and transform until they were spinning and gyrating in a larger mass. A tiny scrap of paper was sucked into the maelstrom, followed by any smaller items that weren’t nailed down.

The thing continued to grow outwards, it’s epicenter a dark and tumultuous place than burned with a hundred-year-old anger. An anger that now focused itself on a defenseless little girl.

The dust cloud settled around Kathy, encircling her, but as yet, not touching her precious pale skin.

Sam grasped the shotgun harder until his knuckles turned white. This was what the gut feeling had been warning him about. This was the one thing he dreaded on any hunt.

The involvement of an innocent child.

He assessed his chances of getting a shot off at the thing before it could do any harm. While the rock salt would sting Kathy this close, it shouldn’t do any real damage. But could he take the chance?

The spinning whirlwind was playing with him, using the girl as bait. Kathy was a human shield for a creature that had lost all conscience a very long time ago.

Maybe I could shoot to her left. Wing the thing enough to get it away from her…

The dust devil screeched and the girl spoke again, in that same rasping voice. “I can still feel the knife –”

“I know,” Sam agreed, taking the first step on the stairs. “I understand what you went through. I can help you…if you’ll just let Kathy go…”

The dust devil appeared to slow, coalescing into a more solid shape that almost wrapped itself around the girl like a black funeral shroud.

If it once touched her actual flesh, then it would all be over. This entity held the power of death at its ethereal fingertips. It carried a form of ghost sickness Sam knew well, but not one he had ever wanted to encounter firsthand.

“Let me help you,” he offered again, but Ooljee Nascha had other ideas. She didn’t want help, she wanted cold, harsh revenge.

A human-shaped hand shot from the spinning bulk around the girl, just one fingertip tracing along the flesh of Kathy’s right forearm.

Sam saw the indoor whirlwind’s actions and pulled back on his pump action’s trigger three times in quick succession, a white cloud of salt peppering the top of the stairs and blanketing an oak cabinet in its opaline patina.

As quickly as it had formed, the mini-tempest dissipated, its form disintegrating back into innocent particles of dust.

And as the dust specks settled, falling back onto the dark stained floor boards, Kathy fell with them, her blue eyes frozen like the heart that had once beat within her chest.

The sound of the young girl’s body hitting the landing only half registered in Sam’s brain. Somehow, he had known this would happen. His mind had screamed at him not to come here, and because he’d ignored that warning, Kathy Denison had perished.

Other noises began to erupt around him, but Sam didn’t hear them. He simply stared at the empty staircase, reliving the lifeless, hollow look in Kathy’s eyes.

“Sam, what the..?” Dean barged through a side door, a distinct smell of lighter fluid following in his wake. He paused as his gaze followed his brother’s and landed on the girl’s crumpled body. “Aww Sammy…”

“I wasn’t fast enough, Dean. I could have stopped this.”

A distant police siren began to warble somewhere in the suburbs. It would be at Manoir Rouge in ten minutes, maybe less.

Dean’s head snapped upwards as the familiar sound of light switches being flicked filled the air.

“C’mon, Sam, we gotta shag ass. I figure one of us tripped a silent alarm sensor. The cops will be here any second.” Dean pulled at his brother’s arm, and eventually Sam relinquished, but inside, he didn’t actually care if he got arrested.

He deserved it, didn’t he?

* * *

Dean swung the Impala out onto the interstate and just let the big old bird glide. The Chevy was in her element on roads like this, and in a way, it was almost like being able to stick her on autopilot.

After a gig like their last, it was often a blessing.

Dean looked over to his brother, a mass of brooding muscle that hadn’t spoken since they’d hastily vacated Manoir Rouge.

“Sam, you know sometimes this is gonna happen. You do know that right? After all we’ve been through?” He raised a brow and tried to sound like the kid’s death hadn’t affected him.

It had, but hunting was a kind of war, and inevitably, there were always going to be casualties. One day, Dean had no doubt he and Sam would be among them.

“She was just six, Dean. Just six! You didn’t have to look into her eyes as that thing snuffed out her life with one touch.” He banged a hand on the dashboard in frustration as if he’d never seen death before. “Don’t give me that crap that I should accept this as part of the job, because I never will.” Sam looked at his brother, brows furrowing and nostrils flaring in anger at the world. “Did you finish it?” He finally snapped, his eyes locking on something out of the side window rather than on his sibling.

Dean flipped his favorite Zippo over in his free hand. “Consider Ooljee Nascha’s sorry butt officially ganked. I torched everything in that basement that could have belonged to her.”

Sam nodded, but it was of little consolation.

Kathy Denison’s death was just one to add to a long line that he felt responsible for.

“Dammit, Sam, this isn’t about that kid, is it? It’s about Mom, about Jess…hell, its about leaving Dad in that church while we got a get outta jail for free card, right?”

Sam didn’t answer, instead, he looked down at his palms. There were no traces of red there to show his guilt.

At least, no visible ones.

But deep down, Sam still knew there was blood on his hands that he would never be able to scrub clean.

Maybe that was the bane of the gifted children. And right now, he wasn’t sure the ability was worth the consequences it brought with it.

“This isn’t over, Dean. It’s never over…”

Three weeks later…

Something was dripping. Not a fast drip, but more like an annoying faucet that required a new washer.

Sam tried to push the sound into the back of his mind so that he could sleep some more. But it wouldn’t go. It just lingered, adding to the already pounding headache that was plaguing him.

Eventually, he gave in and forced his gritty eyes open.

It was hard to focus at first, and he tried to roll over, mumbling under his breath that they shouldn’t use this motel again – the beds were way too hard and the plumbing sucked.

He only managed half a turn when his arm yanked back, nearly pulling his shoulder from the socket. Along with a sharp searing pain from his wrist up to his elbow, came a metallic ring that suggested something was definitely amiss.

Sam groaned. “Dean, if this is another one of your ‘what can I handcuff Sammy to next’ jokes, it’s so not funny.” He squinted in the darkness, trying to cajole his eyes to adjust to the gloom more quickly.

It appeared he was indeed chained to a rather grimy toilet. The problem was, this was most definitely not the Winchesters’ bathroom. Even they had some standards, and this was just gross.

Sam rubbed the forefinger of his free hand across his temple, concern now centered on exactly why he had the throbbing headache. The last thing he recalled was going out to grab Dean a burger from a twenty-four hour diner near their room.

How many hours had passed since then?

He looked again at the toilet, an unpleasant memory from a hunt in Las Vegas making him at least thankful that he was chained to the thing rather than having his head stuffed down it.

Maybe that comes next. Or worse…

“Good evening.”

The voice was so sudden and unexpected Sam actually jumped slightly as the two words echoed hollowly around the room. He squinted again, eager to see their point of origin.

Sitting opposite him, and also chained to a pipe, was a blond man of about forty. He had short, curly hair and appeared to be wearing a grey vest that hadn’t been in vogue for several decades.

The shadows played cheekily across his features, making it hard to see his expression, but Sam could have sworn the newcomer was smiling despite their apparent predicament.

As Sam stared at him, the man’s gaze dropped to the concrete floor of the room and fixed on something about halfway between them. He pointed at it helpfully, but never offered to speak.

Sam scrutinized the object. It was a hatchet – a recently sharpened hatchet from the way the blade glinted in the muted light from a bulb that hung overhead.

He groaned again, this time loud enough for his new friend to hear. This wasn’t one of Dean’s bad jokes, but it was still a joke. It had to be, didn’t it? Someone was making a half-assed attempt at recreating the movie Saw, and he was smack bang in the middle of it.

Sam leaned as far forward as his cuffs would allow. “Dude, you got a name?” If they had any hope of finding out what was going on, or indeed escaping, they had to get to know one another. They had to join forces.

The blond man sat forward too, his eyes apparently appraising every move Sam made, reading his expression, his body language, perhaps even his unspoken thoughts. “More to the point,” he eventually responded. “Do you have a name?”

Answering a question with a question. Wasn’t that meant to mean something in psychologist land? The trouble was, Sam couldn’t remember what. “My name’s Sam…and you?”

The man flashed that quick, but disarming smile again and his eyes twinkled with something Sam could only describe as mirth. “Patrick. Patrick Jane.”

The name tickled at the back of Sam’s memory, but he couldn’t think why. They’d definitely never met before, of that he was sure. This guy was just a little too off base to ever forget.

“Do you know how we got here?” Sam looked around the room again. It was cluttered with junk, and unfortunately for their sakes, had only one tiny window.

There were two exits. One door that probably led to stairs and into a house, and wooden trap doors that undoubtedly opened into a garden.

Patrick watched him assess their situation. “Why do you think we’re here, Sam?”

“I’m more interested in how we get out of here than the why. I’ve been in a situation like this before, and trust me, we don’t want to stick around long enough for the whacko behind this to get home.” Sam nodded towards the hatchet with a slight scowl, a distinct flashback of the Benders’ house unsettling him. “One thing’s for sure, I’m not hacking off a limb with that thing.”

Jane cocked his head, looking at the chopper with more curiosity than fear, and from his blank expression Sam guessed the man had never seen Saw – which, given the outcome of the movie, was probably a good thing.

Eventually, Jane smiled wanly. “It might be…interesting,” he offered without explaining more.

Sam scrunched up his face, not sure how to take his newfound friend. The guy was plain weird, but like it or not they were stuck together.

He glanced down at the shiny new cuffs attaching him to the toilet, shaking his hands in frustration until the metal jangled on porcelain. He could try dislocating his thumb to escape them, but he didn’t really have a great track record with that particular trick.

“Oh…how silly of me.”

Sam looked back to see Jane fumbling in his vest pocket, a strange sparkle in his eyes that could mean anything. This one was a wildcard, an unpredictable, but undeniably intelligent man who definitely shouldn’t be locked in a basement with a hunter.

So why the hell are we both here?

Jane seemed oblivious to Sam’s ponderings and had begun picking at the locks on his cuffs with a newly-found pin. As he worked, he began to quietly talk again, his carefully planned words reminding Sam of an expensive psychiatrist analyzing a patient.

“You know what I think, Sam? I think we’ve both been brought here as a punishment.”

“Punishment for what?” He rattled the cuffs on the toilet again. “Not cleaning the john when I was a kid?”

Jane stopped poking around inside the lock on his wrist and looked up. This time, there was no smile, no cheeky flash in his eyes, there was only sadness. Sam couldn’t tell if it was genuine or not, but the face he was now seeing was that of a man who had lost everything.

Sam knew, because he’d seen that look in his dad’s eyes every time John mentioned Mary.

“Two people died because of my ego. How about you Sam?” Jane’s eyes locked with the young hunter’s and it was all Sam could do not to look away.

He helped people, he saved people, he would never intentionally hurt anyone, would he? But that hadn’t been the question, had it? Intentional or not, people died around him. Kids died around him.

Sam shuddered as Kathy Denison’s haunted eyes appeared on the back of his retinas, filling his vision for one split second. Then, the moment of hesitation was gone and he shook his head.

Jane nodded slowly, deliberately, apparently interpreting the pause before Sam answered for exactly what it was. Uncertainty.

If the hunter’s reaction meant anything to him, Jane didn’t show it. Instead, he tossed down the pin he’d been working on the cuffs with. “Superglue in the mechanism,” he explained, impassively. “I guess that means we have to go back to plan B.”

“We have a plan B?”

Jane shrugged, his inscrutable expression never faltering. “Well, there’s always the axe…”

RJ’s Roadside Motel
Southern California

Dean shifted on the bed, a small snort erupting from his lips as the TV remote fell from his hand and made a loud thump on the floor. The sound barely registered on his eardrums and he was about to drift back off into blissful slumber when Patrick Swayze yanked him back into consciousness.

“C'mon! We're all going to die, die standing up!”

Dean blinked and almost thought he heard his father shouting those same words at him. Instead, as he swiftly sat up, he realized it was simply the movie he’d been watching blaring out at almost full volume.

He fumbled for the lost remote and quickly turned Swayze’s Red Dawn to a more tolerable level. “Sammy, why didn’t you turn the TV down before I go deaf in my sleep?”

There was no answer, and Dean suddenly remembered he’d sent his younger sibling off for food. But that was halfway through the previous movie, wasn’t it?

He rubbed at his eyes and checked his watch. It was three in the morning – which meant he’d been dozing for over two hours, and Sam had been gone just as long for a burger that should have taken ten minutes.

Dean swung his legs over the edge of the bed, pulled on his CAT boots and took in the motel room for any signs that his brother had been and gone again.

There were none.

Jeez, Samantha, this better not be about that gig in La Jolla again…

Ever since Kathy Denison had been killed, Sam had been distracted, depressed even, and Dean was having a hard time understanding why. They’d been hunting long enough to be able to deal with that kind of crap. And yet Sam was apparently forgetting everything he’d learned in favor of a few pent up emotions.

Maybe losing their father back at Stull had been the catalyst, but Dean refused to believe that that was a permanent situation, and Sam should too. Once the church became visible again they’d do their thing and free John.

“Fat lot of good that does me right now, though.” Dean huffed and considered calling Bobby. Maybe Sam had confided in him in the absence of their father.

The problem was, the more Dean thought about it, the more he had to consider that Sam wasn’t actually off sulking somewhere. Yeah, he’d been “off” but not to that extent.

So what if this is Lucifer’s doing? Or maybe more pissed off hunters after our asses again?

Dean grabbed his silver Colt from the bedside table and automatically checked the clip. Satisfied, he tucked it safely out of sight under his jacket and jogged out towards the twenty-four hour diner Sam had been heading for.

Outside, the air was warm and there was a light breeze that Dean attributed to the Santa Anas. Save for the sound of the odd car on the adjacent highway, there wasn’t a soul to be seen from the motel all the way up to the distant flashing neon of “Cherry Hills Diner.”

He picked up the pace, checking for signs of a struggle in the dusty earth that served as a path. There was nothing. And there were no roadside cameras here like there had been the last time Sam had gone AWOL like this.

Dean’s mouth began to grow dry with an inner panic he hadn’t felt in a long time.

The diner’s doorbell jangled annoyingly in his ear as he barged through the doorway. The place was empty except for a short and very round man in his fifties wearing a grease-stained apron.

As Dean approached, the chubby patron seemed to force himself into some semi semblance of awareness. “What can I get you?” The high-pitched nasal tone was almost as annoying as the door chime – almost.

Dean sauntered up to the counter anyway. He would put up with a hundred jerks if it meant finding his brother. “Coffee, black.” He tossed a twenty down. “And maybe a little of your time.”

“Sorry, if you want that kind of entertainment you better go into town.” The half human, half hippo looked like he was actually being serious.

Dean stifled a choke, turning it into a gruff cough at the last minute. “I meant information, Bubba.”

The man stuck a cup on the table and filled it with coffee that had been stewing for maybe a year. A fat pudgy hand snatched up the twenty and didn’t offer any change. “What kind of information?” He asked warily.

“I’m lookin’ for a tall dude, floppy hair, big puppy dog eyes. Might have come in earlier for a burger with extra onions to go?” Dean raised a brow, trying desperately to keep a straight face whilst looking the man in the eye.

“I think I know the guy you mean.” Hippo Man nodded, his bottom lip pouting out as he thought harder. “I remember because there was a fuss out in the parking lot right after he left.”

Dean flashed another note. “What kinda fuss?”

“Oh, voices arguing, upsetting my clients, you know? And then a dark Jeep Cherokee sped off out of the lot and almost took my sign right along with it! I nearly called the cops.” The man shrugged and moved away to prod several dogs that had probably been on the hot plate since lunch.

Dean looked at the food, but he’d lost all appetite the minute Sam had gone missing. He rubbed a hand across his bottom lip and felt stubble there.

There was one slim chance, just one, and he really wasn’t holding out any hope Hippo Man was going to come through for him.

He asked anyway. “Dude, I don’t suppose you caught the license plate on the Jeep?”

The man tapped the counter gently, as if waiting for another note to magically appear. “Of course I did,” he cooed. “Not much point in thinking of calling the cops without it now, was there?”

Dean dropped a twenty so fast Sam would have passed out in shock had he been present.

The pudgy hand snatched the note. “Was a California plate. 298 G35.”

“Got it!” Dean yanked out his cell and dived back outside. Maybe Bobby could help find out who owned the Cherokee?

He paced a little, finger hovering over speed dial. Then it hit. There were two cops who might help him directly if he simply had the balls to ask.

Bringing up both numbers he tried to decide who might have the best intel. Kathleen in Minnesota, or Guevara in Baltimore In the end, he plumped for Guevara, praying that someone, somewhere could figure out who had taken his brother, and why.

Unknown Location

Sam wasn’t sure which was more frustrating, the way the cuffs were chafing at his wrists, or Patrick Jane’s bizarre attitude. The man seemed pleasant enough, but all he wanted to do was ask questions, rarely giving out any answers himself.

“So, you think this is punishment for some kind of mistake you made?” Sam probed, having nothing better to do than stare at the ceiling.

Jane instantly became aloof, his eyes glassing over as if Sam had hit the jackpot. “Tell me, Sam, have you ever heard of a serial killer named Red John?”

Sam shrugged. He’d heard of many killers, but in his business, most of them turned out to be demons or lost spirits searching for resolution.

“I taunted him,” Jane continued. “Just one mistake on national television was all it took. I boasted I could help catch him, and I paid the price with my family. I came home that night to find my wife and daughter dead, and Red John’s mark on the wall. He even left me a note on the door.”

Sam listened, and this time, he was the one reading body language. Until now, he hadn’t really trusted anything Jane had said. But this, this was the truth – he could see it in the man’s grief-stricken gaze.

And what if Jane was right? What if this was a kind of castigation for his crimes? Did that mean Sam was here for the same reason?

But I haven’t hurt anyone! His mind twisted in a vortex of disjointed images and memories of long-forgotten hunts.

What about the girl, Sammy? The sentence screamed out until he wanted to put his hands over his ears, but it would do no good. The insinuation was in his mind, and in his mind alone.

What about Mom, Jess…what about Kathy, Sam?

Sam realized he was breathing hard as he tried to smother the thoughts – something Jane had apparently noticed – but then, he noticed everything.

“Maybe you should just kill me?”

The suggestion caught Sam off guard and all his other woes were hastily forgotten. “I should what?” his voice raised an octave.

“You’ve killed before, haven’t you? Why should now be any different?”

“Are you nuts? Even if I could kill you, why would I want to?”

Jane smirked again – something that he appeared to do quite often for no apparent reason other than to unnerve Sam. Something, Sam noted, that would surely have gotten him punched out by now if Dean was around.

If anyone had ever threatened to swing at Jane, he didn’t show it, his demeanor never changing. “Before you awakened, our captor made me swallow a key. To be precise, the key to this basement room. Even if we could get free from our restraints, the only way of escape is inside me.”

Sam blinked in surprise, but then he should have been expecting something like this. Remember the Saw movies, he reminded himself. “Maybe we can just kick the damn door in if we can get free?” Sam suggested testily.

This was all getting too much.

“Our kidnapper implied there would be consequences should we attempt to open the door without the key,” Jane looked at his watch. “Oh, and if we don’t get out within say oh…fifty-two minutes, the room fills with cyanide gas.”

“You gotta be kidding me?”

Jane shook his head as if the situation was all in a day’s work. “You have a choice, Sam. We both die or you can kill me and live. It’s nothing you haven’t done before, is it?”

“What makes you say that?”

Jane tapped his fingers together in front of him in a steeple shape. “You have, haven’t you?”

Sam didn’t answer. He didn’t owe this stranger a reply, especially not when his gut told him he was being baited. The same gut that told you not to go into Manoir Rouge..?

The very name of the house made him angry, angry at himself, angry at Jane for rekindling the feelings.

He snorted, yanking at the cuffs holding him to the piping. He didn’t deserve to be here. He didn’t have to be here.

Just how strong can a pipe connecting a decrepit old john be, anyway?

Sam tugged on the shackles again and again, his temper rising with every jerk of his wrist. He could sense the energy within him growing, the bitterness needing an outlet until he thought his muscles would come apart at any second.

Realizing the best way to use his straining sinew, he gave one last heave, wrenching the pipe away from the toilet in one quick movement.

Black filthy water oozed from the torn conduit, splashing over Sam as he pulled his cuffs free from its constraints. Crap, almost worse than Vegas…

He turned to check on his companion, but Jane simply sat staring at him again, a look of wonder on his features apparently caused by Sam’s sudden surge of strength.

As Sam moved across the room, Jane’s eyes moved with him, eventually locking on the axe that still sat innocently waiting on the floor.

Sam guessed what the other man was thinking. Would he use the hatchet to get the key Patrick had swallowed?

Smiling for the first time himself, Sam reached his long gangly frame down and grabbed the chopper, turning the handle over in his huge paws until he could see his reflection in the shimmering blade.

A moth hovered around the lone bulb above his head, reminding Sam there was work to be done. He moved forwards, reaching Jane in just three quick steps.

Jane’s eyes locked with his, watching, waiting for the blow to come.

Eager not to disappoint, Sam swung the axe high, gaining maximum momentum before slamming it down on the chains that held his roommate.

The metal yielded easily to the blow, releasing Jane.

Sam scrutinized the man’s face. Was that actual frustration that had passed over his eyes for a split second?

“What’s the matter? Upset that you didn’t read me right?” Sam offered Jane a hand up from the concrete floor and he took it, brushing down his vest to remove the dust he’d been forced to sit in. “I remember you now. You’re the dude off the TV from a few years back. You used to read minds, talk to the dead, that kinda thing…”

“That would depend on your definition of the dead,” Patrick said wanly. “If you mean I sweet talked gullible audiences, then yes.”

Sam’s eyes widened a little. If he’d expected anything from Jane, it hadn’t been such blunt honesty. The man was a true enigma. A pompous, arrogant ass one minute, and an intelligent but sometimes childish clown the next. He may read others well, but there was no reading him.

“We have to figure out where we are, and how we get out of here before our kidnapper releases that gas.” Sam trudged to the double wooden doors that led to the outside, but it was clear something heavy and unmovable had been placed against them to prevent any escape. “We’re in a twelve by twelve room nobody but our captor’s set foot in for years. It’s not like anyone is gonna find us here…”

“Actually,” Jane pointed out helpfully. “I’d say the room is twelve by fourteen at least.” He gestured to the walls as if giving a lecture. “See, the chamber isn’t square, it’s rectangular. Our kidnapper isn’t the only one to come down here, either. If you just look in the dust over there, you can see two distinct sets of shoe prints.”

Sam whirled around. “You always think you’re right, don’t you?”

Jane cocked his head dismissively. “Only most of the time.”

“Yeah, well you’re wrong about us getting out of here. There has to be a way.” Sam began to carefully pat the outer edges of the door and its frame looking for sensors or anything that might trip a booby trap. He couldn’t feel anything untoward, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. “Besides, we’re not alone. Somewhere out there my brother will be looking for me…”

Jane nodded as if he knew just what Sam was talking about. “Ah yes, the elusive brother.”

Sam didn’t pick up on the comment. He was too focused on the doorway. If he could just use brute force like he had on the cuffs then maybe this would all be over.

“You’re not thinking of…” Jane didn’t get the chance to finish the sentence.

Sam backed up and then ran full tilt at the door, slamming into it with all his weight behind his right foot. The door shuddered, but didn’t budge an inch.

“Wait, don’t forget the threat!”

Sam kicked again, temper fuelling his moves.

This time, the room plunged into darkness, the only light bulb flickering and then dying as if their captor had a hidden switch.

Behind him, Sam could hear movement. A rough scuffling noise followed by a dull thud. He turned, trying to lock onto the sounds, but as quickly as it had come, the blackness receded, the light dimly returning to illuminate the scene.

And it wasn’t pretty.

Apparently, their kidnapper was not a man of idle threats. Just feet away from Sam’s sneakers was a body pooling in an ever-growing lagoon of blood.

Patrick Jane’s body.

Sam turned away, unable to look upon the blond man’s final pose. The psychic lay sprawled at an odd angle, the hatchet buried deep in his chest until the sharpened blade edge was barely visible.

His face wore the expression of a man whose last moments had been of shocked acceptance. He had known this was coming, and had eventually conceded it was inevitable.

I didn’t listen to him. I could have stopped this, just like I could Kathy.

“How many more people have to die, Sam, before you confess your sins? You and Jane deserve to be punished.”

Sam turned to face the crackling, disembodied voice. It was obviously coming from a hidden speaker somewhere, and right now, he wanted to rip it out and toss it across the room.

The bad guy was watching them – no, watching him. Jane wasn’t likely to jump up and start talking anytime soon.

Just what was the freak behind the mike getting out of all this?

But you let him die, just like Kathy. Sam forced himself to look at Jane again. Maybe this really was all his fault. Maybe I really did inadvertently cause the deaths of some of the people I‘ve tried to help?

Even so, did that give the mystery kidnapper the right to do this? Did it give him the right to hold them hostage, to kill Jane?

No, dammit, no one has that right!

On a whim, Sam kneeled beside the oozing body and pressed two fingers to Jane’s neck. He couldn’t be alive from such a horrific injury, but Sam had to be sure. He owed the TV psychic that much.

As he’d suspected, there was nothing.

Confess, Sam…admit to the deaths…”

Sam pushed up from the floor and stared in the direction the voice was emanating from. No matter what, he’d be damned if he was going to bare his soul to this freak.

“Dude, bite me, ’cause I ain’t telling you jack!” Sam smiled wanly at his retort. Dean would have been proud of him.

Then, fittingly for the weird situation, the solitary light bulb gave out again all but blinding Sam. He batted his eyelids, trying to readjust to the gloom.

But before he could even focus, three gunshots rang out in the darkness, perhaps heralding the conclusion of his captor’s game and the end of another life.



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The Winchester Chronicles

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