Season Four

Episode Fifteen: Between The Lines

By JennyF

Part Three

At first Sam wonders what all the fuss was about. The liquid slipping down his throat is thick and slides down easily. He tries to place the taste but struggles with the sweetness. He thinks it’s probably honey but he’ll accept he’s wrong on that one.

It dulls his already muted senses and although he can hear some sort of commotion in the background, he struggles to place any importance to it. He feels cocooned, safe, ensconced in a virtual sheepskin rug, protected from the elements. All he can see is his host and even he’s beginning to look dull and muted round the edges. Sam feels an uncontrollable desire to giggle. He lets his head fall forward onto his chest.

But then comes the aftertaste and it’s not pleasant. It’s bitter and sharp and it burns. It burns so bad he thinks his throat is about to explode outwards. He swipes at his mouth, vaguely registering the new-found freedom of movement.

Then the liquid hits his stomach and as the contents of his belly rebel against the drink, he can’t help the scream escaping his lips. He moves his hands from his mouth to his gut, falling forward from his position on his knees, curling in on himself as though that’ll take the pain away.

But it doesn’t. When has life ever been that kind to the Winchesters anyway?

Sam screams again, a gut wrenching cry from the heart, but halfway through, his voice vanishes. It doesn’t peter out, doesn’t falter, doesn’t crack. It just vanishes. Like someone somewhere has flipped a switch and suddenly he just doesn’t have a voice.

But that’s not all that disappears, and the lack of vocal ability is the least of his problems. When he manages to crack open his eyes he can’t see Joshua anymore. Or Dean. Or even the damned cellar he thought he was in.

What he can see though chills him to the very core, sweeps away the acidic burn of whatever the hell Joshua fed him and leaves him immobile and stupefied.

His vision tunnels, all other external stimuli have gone and in the center of his sight line stands a person he thought gone forever. A person he himself killed, or thought he had. He wonders if he’s dead and that’s why she’s here. Wonders if he’s finally gone to Hell, too late to help Dean, help Dad, help save the world. It’s the only thing that makes sense to him right now.

And then she moves forward, a smile on her face that could freeze the Sahara in one fell swoop.

“Sam Winchester,” she breathes and Sam’s surprised the air doesn’t fog in front of her face. “Little Sammy Winchester. Still going strong I see.”

Sam opens his mouth to reply, searching his mind for some scathing comeback and realizing he’s not channeling Dean right now.

“Hush,” she commands and Sam finds he has no option but to comply. But in his head all he can think is How the hell can she be here?

“Don’t worry. I’m still dead. You did a mighty fine job on that one, Sam.” She steps towards him and squats down in front of him. “But you really didn’t think that would be the last you’d hear of me, did you? I’m in your head, Sam. You and me? We’re linked for all eternity. You’ll never be rid of me.”

She reaches out a hand in a gesture of loving familiarity and if Sam’s stomach wasn’t already churning he’s pretty sure this would turn the lining of his belly inside out and back to front. He glares as best he can through stinging eyes and manages, finally, to spit one word out.

“Mia!”

The hand reaching for him grasps his chin and he wonders how it can feel so real when he knows she’s dead. Hell, she’s just admitted as much. She’s in his head for God’s sake! How can his head fool his nerve endings like this? He’s got a strong mind, he should be able to think her out of existence as easily as blowing out a candle. But it’s not happening and from the look in her eyes she knows what he’s doing. Or trying to do, anyway.

“Not working, is it sugar?” she teases, digging nails into the side of his jaw hard enough to leave little white crescents in his flesh. “I told you, Sam. I’m in your head. When you did that freaky head trick of yours back at Stull you didn’t quite think it through. Yeah, you absorbed my powers and bounced them back at me. But that’s not all you absorbed. Some stuff just stayed there in the back of your head. Waiting.”

“Waiting for what?” Sam manages to hiss out through dried lips.

“For this,” Mia laughs. “For Joshua to find me...you…whoever.”

“Why?”

Mia drops his jaw forcefully and stands to full height. Sam thinks he’s pissed her off but really can’t bring himself to care. He watches her fold her arms and thinks any minute now she’s going to stamp her foot in temper.

“Because I was the Master, Sam. Not you. Not Joshua. Not his precious Alicia. Me! Berengar was my ancestor. The Books were my inheritance. You? You were my insurance policy.”

Sam frowns as he watches Mia’s tirade. She’s starting to waver round the edges slightly and Sam’s having trouble keeping her in focus. He blinks and shakes his head as hard as he dare, which isn’t very hard admittedly, and squints at her. She seems to notice his troubles and before he realizes it, she’s back in his face, hand under his chin tilting his head up so he has no choice but to make eye contact.

“Oh no, no, no,” she sings. “No fading out yet, Winchester. We’ve not even started.”

But it makes no difference to Sam as his eyes take on a will of their own, sliding shut as Mia’s voice fades into the distance along with everything else.

*****

Not for the first time Dean wishes there was a window in this hellhole of a cellar. He’s lost all sense of time. Again. And he’s lost Sam. Again.

He thought he was immune to most things life could possibly throw at him but Sam’s screams? Nope. Never going to be immune to that. Add the way his little brother had crashed to the floor and the blood chilling way all movement stopped? It was almost a blessing when Joshua had instructed his men to take Sam’s limp body away. He’d spared a cold glance in Dean’s direction with a reassurance that Sam was alive and “about to serve his purpose.”

How long ago had that been? Dean swings on his bindings in a half-hearted attempt to regain a sense of purpose, a belief he’s doing something – anything – to help Sam. Even though he knows the handcuffs have been designed to hold the most skilled escape artist in place, he has to try.

The cellar’s been empty since they took Sam away and he’s beginning to wish he’d listened to Bobby. Maybe he should’ve called the Turners. He might not entirely trust them but right now they’re looking pretty damned attractive. It’s been a long time since Dean’s doubted himself and he doesn’t like it.

Then there’s a light, a glimmer of hope, as the door opens and the light spills through. It’s artificial light so Dean reckons it must be at least evening, maybe even later. He stills his swaying and squints at the silhouette on the threshold. It’s a woman and Dean’s spirits lift. As long as it’s not that redhead he might be in with a chance of charming his way out of here. Or at the very least, find out where Sam is, what they’re doing to him, who he’s going to have to kill first.

He hears the click of heels on the stone flooring and he finds himself bracing himself but he doesn’t know what for. Then she flicks a switch and he has to squint against the sudden flood of harsh light.

When he manages to open his eyes again and focus, he sees the maid from earlier, silently going about her business. Which seems to entail clearing away the detritus from the earlier ceremony. She pays no attention to Dean and he takes the opportunity to study her, sizing her up.

She’s younger than he thought at first and her face is worn with what is probably years of hard, unappreciated work. The lines round her eyes and mouth look out of place and her brow is furrowed beyond her years. She seems to be engrossed in her work and her shoulders are hunched, as though she’s expecting to be berated at any minute.

She looks out of place here to Dean.

Then she turns to him and seems to notice his eyes on her for the first time. She drops her head slightly but Dean’s pretty sure there’s a blush to her cheeks that wasn’t there a second ago. He tilts his head at her and raises his eyebrows. She doesn’t seem to understand what he’s getting at but that’s okay. If she’s confused, she only has to get rid of his gag. He pleads to her with his eyes, knowing full well the devastation those eyes can wreak.

Eventually she succumbs and steps over to him. Her hands hover in front of her, uncertain where they should go. Then she raises timid eyes to him and gently removes the gag from his mouth. Dean swallows compulsively a couple of times, croaks out a word of thanks to her.

She turns to go but to Dean she’s a lifeline and possibly his only hope.

“Wait,” he calls, and she stops in her tracks. Dean doesn’t want to scare her off but he doesn’t want her to go just yet. He has questions and she might just have the answers. He’s encouraged by her stillness. “Where did they take my brother?”

She shakes her head and looks down at the floor, back still turned to Dean and he can all but feel her despair. “Back to his room,” she tells him.

“Is he …” Dean can’t quite bring himself to finish the question but luck seems to be on his side.

“He’ll be alright,” the maid reassures him and turns to face him. “They’ll look after him. He’s too valuable to them not to,” and Dean’s surprised by the bitterness in her statement.

“Listen,” he begins, testing the handcuffs once more, just for the hell of it. “I need to get him out of here, but…” and he casts a glance up at his chains.

The maid laughs humorlessly. “Don’t we all,” she comments under her breath and suddenly Dean sees his breakthrough.

“I can help you,” he promises, not really knowing what he’s promising but hoping he’s reading the situation right. Looks like he is.

She stares at him and for a minute he wonders if he’s got it wrong. Her eyes have hardened and the lines around her mouth have tightened. “Help me with what?” she virtually hisses. “What is it you think I need?”

He decides to take a stab in the dark, trusting his initial instincts.

“I can help you get out of here,” he tells her and studies her closely, watching for a reaction, something to give him hope.
And there it is. The softening of her face, the almost non-existent wobble of her lower lip. He knows he’s won, knows he has to keep going.

“I know you don’t want to be here,” he presses on. “I know you don’t want any part of this. Sam and me? We can help you. We’ll get you out of here.”

“Why would you do that?” she asks and Dean thinks she’s on the verge of tears. He’s not the one she needs if she’s about to have a complete emotional breakdown. That’s far more Sam’s thing.

“Because you don’t belong here,” the hunter tells her gently, suddenly recognizing the truth in his words. She’s not like the other people he’s encountered so far and it doesn’t sit right with him to leave her here in this excuse of a life.

She shakes her head sadly. “You can’t help me. Not now.”

“Yes,” Dean insists. “I can. I just need Sam and then you and me and him? We’ll be out of here so fast you won’t even have time to put your shoes on.”

She drops her head and Dean thinks, hopes, she’s considering the offer, considering the possibilities. She’s silent for so long though, Dean’s almost convinced himself it’s a lost cause when she finally looks up to him again and offers him a sad, slightly apologetic smile.

“Okay,” she agrees. “What do I need to do?”

*****

When Sam opens his eyes again he’s back in the room they seem to have decided is his. He’s got the headache from hell and everything is slightly fuzzy in his memory. He thinks Dean is here somewhere, he’s sure he remembers some witty remarks that could only have sprung from his brother’s smart mouth. But it’s all so vague and that worries Sam more than the headache pounding away behind his eyeballs.

He groans silently and turns on his side, registering the softness of the bed and the cool crispness of the linen. His stomach feels like he’s gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson, clenching and relaxing rhythmically with the beating of his heart.

He starts when a wet cloth is placed on his forehead and it takes all he has not to lash out at the intrusion in his misery. The fingers laced round the washcloth are long and soft and definitely not Dean’s. Which confuses Sam because the only person who takes care of him like this is his big brother. Or Bobby. And he knows Bobby’s not here because fingers this soft have never seen the underside of a Chevy.

“Sam?”

He screws his eyes shut against the flood of memories the voice provokes. He knows it’s Alicia and he really, really doesn’t want anything to do with her now. Not now he thinks – no, he knows – they’ve got Dean somewhere in this luxurious abode, chained up like an animal.

Before there was a chance, just a slight chance, he could have persuaded her to help him, to get him out of here and find Dean. But now? Now all he wants to do is ring her pretty little neck until her eyes bulge out of their sockets and her veins burst through her skin.

Wait. Where the hell did that thought come from? Sam doesn’t think those thoughts. Dean, maybe, but Sam? Never.
He mentally shakes himself down, purges the wickedness from his mind and squints at her through surprisingly clear eyes.
She smiles at him and he feels his skin crawl with disgust and just a little amusement. “You’re awake.”

Stating the obvious, Sam thinks uncharitably, and so he just grunts at her. She doesn’t appear to take offence at his response, simply settles herself down on the edge of his bed and reaches a hand out toward his head. He jerks back reflexively and she lets her hand fall on the pillow, close enough for Sam to feel the warmth pulsing off her. She tilts her head to one side and regards him through puzzled eyes.

“I don’t understand,” she mutters to herself. “You should be fully recovered by now.” Then she straightens up. “No matter. What did she tell you?”

Sam wants to be confused but clarity is rushing through his system, filling every nerve ending and synapse. The memory of Mia is strong and in the back of his mind there’s a mantra drumming on his brain, page surgere rursum vivat, page surgere rursum vivat. He knows what it means but he doesn’t know what it means and that’s the cue for confusion to reign supreme again.

Alicia doesn’t seem to pick up on any of this though, and for that Sam’s grateful. She just gives a smile as bright as sunshine and pats his hand like she would a four-year-old’s.

“Never mind,” she chirrups. “Grandpa will be here soon. He’ll know what to do.” She bounces up from the bed and moves over to the window. For the first time Sam notices the sunset, a beautiful rosy glow to the sky, and he suddenly wants, needs, to be outside in the fresh air.

He struggles to push himself to a sitting position, and when he’s there he decides to take a little rest. His stomach aches from the demands he’s put on his abdominal muscles but he decides that’s not important.

“Where’s Dean?” he croaks, then clears his throat, slightly embarrassed by the way he sounds about seventy.

“Don’t worry about him,”

Don’t worry about him.

Sam frowns and glares at the girl silhouetted in the window. He doesn’t think she possesses the power to duplicate and throw her voice but he definitely heard that statement twice.

“What?” he queries.

“He’s fine,” Alicia reassures him with a false smile but in the back of his head he hears Don’t worry about Dean. He doesn’t matter in all of this.

“I want to see him,” Sam decides. He’s the one holding all the cards here. If they want his cooperation, they’ll play ball.


No they won’t, Sam. They’ve come too far to pander to your petty little demands, and your brother? He’s nothing to them.
Or me. Or you anymore.

He’s not imagining it, not this time. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts but it doesn’t help. Mia’s voice is getting stronger, louder, crushing his own thoughts and impulses and he knows he needs to fight it.

You can’t win, Sam, Mia tells him. You’re part of this now. And this is so much more than you can ever imagine. You have no idea how powerful Berengar is. And you’re the key, Sam.

Sam shakes his head again. “No, I’m not,” he hisses under his breath.

Alicia looks at him curiously but doesn’t seem surprised to hear him talking to himself. Instead she nods and tilts her head to one side.

“You can hear her now, can’t you?” she asks, although from her tone of voice it sounds as though she already knows the answer. “That’s good. It means we can proceed.”

Sam can hear Alicia talking but Mia just won’t shut up. Words are running round his head unbidden, some in English, some in Latin, some running into each other so fast they don’t make any sense at all. He clenches his fists and tries to scrub the voice out of his head via his ears. He feels like he’s losing his mind and worse, losing control.

Alicia takes hold of his wrists and gently but firmly pulls his hands down. He can hear her vaguely over the droning in his head. “Don’t do that Sam. Let it happen. This was meant to be,” but he doesn’t like it, doesn’t listen, fights her hold on him.

He sometimes forgets how strong he is and Mia’s influence is getting stronger. He can hear her clearly now and she’s telling him how powerful he is, how much they’re going to achieve together, how Alicia is getting in the way.

And before he knows it, he’s pulled away from the girl’s grip, twisting her hands brutally, and throws her away from him with far more force than he would ever use on an innocent girl.

But she’s not innocent, is she Sam? She thinks she’s going to get the glory but we both know that can’t happen, don’t we? We won’t allow it.

Alicia falls to the ground with a cry of pain but Sam can’t bring himself to care. He’s losing himself in Mia’s spell and the consequences of his actions don’t bother him. He looks at the girl on the ground and feels a sense of satisfaction.

But the moment doesn’t last as the door to the room opens and Joshua enters, followed by his staff and suddenly Sam knows his time has come. Soon he’ll truly be the Master of the Books.

*****

Her name is Hayley and she’s worked for Bryant her entire adult life. Which, as far as she’s concerned, is far too long.
Dean’s learnt a lot about her in the last couple of hours. Ever since she found him a hairclip to get out of the cuffs suspending him from the ceiling. When he said that he and Sam could help her, he didn’t really realize just what he was offering.

Hayley’s only here for one reason. Her son, Owen. Dean’s learnt how Joshua employed her when she was just a young girl, pregnant, disowned by the father and her family. Took her in and gave her work. Then, when the boy was born, took him from her and told her she could leave whenever she wanted but Owen was his now. Forever.

Owen’s seven now and Hayley last saw him properly three years ago. Now, she catches glimpses of him through half open doors, out of windows and sometimes he sees her but he doesn’t really know who she is any more.

Which is why, Dean supposes, she leapt at his offer of help. Family means everything and Dean can relate to that.

The cuffs were a piece of cake to get out of once he had the hairclip and he ignored Hayley’s look of incredulity and, if he’s honest, a slight hint of panic, as if she was considering whether she’d done the right thing. Once he’d managed to reassure her, he pumped her for information. He reckons he could find any room in the house now, in the dark.

Or at least that’s what he keeps telling himself as he hovers by the butlers sink, watching the maid slip out of the kitchen door into the herb garden. And seriously? Who the hell has a herb garden these days? And a thyme maze? Dean wonders how many of the plants are for medicinal or culinary purposes and how many have other, more sinister uses.

As soon as he loses sight of Hayley, Dean takes the time to scope out the kitchen. Or, more precisely, the kitchen utensils. Joshua may be many things, he muses, but stupid isn’t one of them. His weapons are probably long gone – assigned to some goon or other. And doesn’t that just make him want to smack someone upside the head? The thought of his armory in someone else’s hands.

He shakes his head. There’s no time for thoughts like that. Focus, Dean, focus, he tells himself.

He needs a plan. A good one. One that will get Sammy back to him, stop Joshua raising any warlocks and get Owen back to his mother, where he belongs.

Hayley’s given him a quick, cursory tour of the house but Joshua has too many accomplices for them to have been able to get upstairs, to where Sam is. But it doesn’t matter. She managed to describe it easily enough and despite the façade Dean puts out there, he’s got a fast mind and the description is carved into his brain as though he designed the house himself.

Sam’s room is at the end of the hallway and Dean knows there’ll be guards. He’s hoping they won’t be too attentive – after all, they think he’s hanging from the ceiling in the cellar still. He hopes.

He wonders briefly if they’ve discovered his absence yet and decides it’s too quiet for that to have happened. He’s sure all hell will break loose when his escape is noticed.

He realizes he’s let his mind drift when his hand brushes against something cold and hard. Letting his eyes fall down, he spots the knife nestling in the bottom of the drawer he’s pulled open. It gleams and sparkles so much Dean wonders if it’s ever been used.

He curls his fingers round the handle and lifts it out, feeling the weight of it, admiring the intricate workmanship on the blade and wondering who needs such fancy carving knives. But he decides not to worry about that too much and just be grateful for its existence.

Slipping it into the back of his belt, he stands still for a moment, listening for any movement in the house. There’s nothing. The air hangs heavy and still and Dean has to repress a shudder. The total silence? It’s just not natural.

He makes his way cautiously to the doorway with a speed and skill that would make Dad proud, and he’s at the foot of the main staircase without being noticed or challenged.

He’s about to make his way up when he hears voices and freezes.

“I knew you’d come around, Sam. It was always meant to be.” Bryant’s voice floats down to the ground floor, followed by footsteps.

Dean looks round, frantically trying to find somewhere to hide. He’s torn between standing his ground and physically ripping Sammy from their grasp and doing things right. He can almost hear his brother telling him not to be rash and he knows in his heart he’s right.

He slips through the nearest door, finding himself in a washroom. It’s not the most auspicious hiding place in the world but it does the job. He leans forward, straining to hear what else is said.

“It won’t be long now,” Joshua is saying. “The ceremony itself will be at midnight which will give us – you – time to adjust to your new position.”

“I don’t need time,” Sam replies and Dean frowns, trying to recognize his brother in that tone of voice. He sounds cold and distant. There’s no warmth, no humor, no emotion, not even fear, and Dean knows he’s running out of time.

“Of course you don’t,” Joshua smarms “but it might be better for Alicia…”

“Alicia isn’t part of this, old man,” Sam declares and now there’s a hint of something in his voice. Something Joshua clearly doesn’t recognize but Dean does. Danger.

“If you say so,” Joshua continues, seemingly oblivious to the tone the conversation has taken, and Dean finds himself wondering who he’s going to have to save from whom.

He ducks back against the wall of the washroom, watching through a crack as Sam and Joshua pass by, heading for the front door, followed by three of Joshua’s staff. Dean doesn’t recognize any of them and he wonders how many people are in this damn house. He thinks maybe he should have asked more questions of the Turners but it’s too late now.

He leans back and takes a deep breath as the voices fade into the distance, only to freeze when the door swings open slowly. He drops immediately into a fighting stance and whirls to face the intruder, hands up, feet apart for balance.

“What’s up, Dean?” Sam asks with a broad grin on his face and Dean can’t mask the confusion on his own face.

*****

Sam knew Dean was hiding behind door the second he got to the top of the staircase. He doesn’t know how he knew, just that he did. And he thinks he should be overjoyed that his brother is free, safe, relatively unharmed. But he’s not. It’s just one of those things he’s come to expect from Dean.

That, and Mia’s voice nagging him about how worthless his brother is and why it’s really not a good idea to let him wander around, how he could scupper all their plans, how she never should have let him live this long anyway.

He fights her as much as he can, but looking at Dean with that stupid look on his face he finds he’s losing the will to disagree with her. Which he knows is wrong.

He waits patiently for Dean to string a sentence together. Hell, even two words would do at this point but it’s like watching paint dry, he thinks. Finally Dean shakes his head, just a little.

“Sam?” he stutters. “What…”

“What am I doing here?” Sam interrupts, finishing the question while he steps into the room, forcing Dean to move aside. He pulls the door shut behind him. “I came to find you, Dean,” he explains.

“Find me?”

“Yes.” He pauses and looks around the small room they’re in. “Seriously, Dean?” he mocks. “A bathroom? This was the best place you could find to hide?”

“What’s going on, Sam?” Dean demands and he straightens up. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Sam thinks they should be getting the hell out of there but he’s strangely compelled to see this through now. It’s like a train heading out of the station with no brakes. He has no choice but to keep going till he hits the buffers at the end of the line.

“Look at me, Sammy,” Dean requests softly. Sam recognizes his older brother’s concerned voice and smiles at him.

“I’m fine, Dean,” he asserts even as Mia rages in the back of his mind. He wants to bang his head against the wall to shut her up, cause her as much pain and suffering as possible. “I just have a little…company,” and he brushes his hand meaningfully through his hair.

He watches as the confusion fights with concern all over his brother’s features, unsurprised when concern triumphs and suddenly Dean’s a picture of efficiency and purpose.

“What sort of company?” he demands.

Sam wonders how to answer that question without freaking his brother out too much. It’s too much to ask of Dean to take this calmly; after all, the girl trampled all over his heart and tried to kill him.

“Sam?” Dean prompts and Sam realizes he’s fallen into silence and there’s no way to soften the blow.

“Mia,” he states, watching Dean carefully for the reaction he’s expecting.

But Dean surprises him. He doesn’t pale, doesn’t fall back in shock, doesn’t try to take Sam down where he stands on principle. He just looks at Sam and cocks his head to one side, raising a single eyebrow in query.

“Mia? As in Mia Cameron?”

Sam just nods, not really knowing what else he should be doing.

Dean turns away from him, scrubbing a hand over his face. Sam watches as his shoulders stiffen and then relax. He watches as his brother reaches into his pocket.

Here it comes, Sam, Mia taunts. Any minute now he’s going to shoot you because he hates me more than he loves you. How does that make you feel?

“Shut up,” he hisses under his breath.

Take him out, Sam. Do it now. Before he can do it to you.

“Stop it.”

“Who you talking to, Sammy?” Dean asks, slowly turning round and yep, there it is. The knife in his hand, just like Mia said.
Sam tenses and raises his hands protectively.

“Dean,” he pleads. “Don’t.”

“Is she here?”

“I told you, Dean,” Sam explains. “She’s in my head.”

“How can that be, Sammy? She’s dead, remember?”

“I don’t know,” Sam admits. He’s been asking himself the very same question since he came to his senses. He still doesn’t have an answer for himself that sounds even remotely plausible, so how Dean expects him to come up with a full explanation he just can’t fathom. “She was just there, in my head, when Joshua gave me that drink.”

“Yeah, about that drink,” Dean wonders. “What was it? How can a drink bring back some skanky half demon bitch?”

“I don’t know, Dean,” Sam repeats. “I don’t think she’s back, back. But she’s in my head. Maybe she’s been there ever since…” and he trails off as the realization hits him.

Dean’s silent.

That’s because he has nothing to say, Sam. Look at his little brain going ten to the dozen. There’ll be smoke comin’ out his ears soon.

Sam ignores the mocking voice, the sneer echoing round his skull. He’s working out how this could happen and it’s like a revelation. He doesn’t like it, but he thinks he knows now how Mia got there.

*****

Dean watches his little brother struggle with his thoughts and wonders just how long Mia has been on board. He’s pretty sure it’s something to do with Joshua – just one more reason to gank him, regardless of any “but he’s human” protests Sam might come up with.

Sam looks confused and a little lost but Dean thinks he can put up with that so long as they’re together. He doesn’t really question why Sam is here, alone and apparently safe. In his confused relief all he wants to do now is honor his promise to Hayley and get out of this godforsaken place.

He looks down at the knife in his hand and sheepishly lets his hand drop to his side, deciding that threatening Sam isn’t really going to help. He’ll worry about Mia once they’re out of here.

“C’mon, Sam,” he says. “We need to move.”

Sam nods slowly. “What about the books?” he asks and Dean feels a twitch of apprehension. It’s not that he’d forgotten about the books per se. It’s more that Sam’s the one who’s brought them up. And the look on his face when he mentioned them. Almost wistful, as though Dean was taking away his candy at Christmas by denying him the books.

“What about them?” Dean counters, praying Sam will let it go. As far as he’s concerned, the books are impotent without the Master. And seeing as that appears to be Sam, the further away they are the better. He can always send Bobby back here later. Or come himself.

But watching Sam straighten up, he’s not so sure that’s an option at the moment.

“We need the books,” Sam reaffirms.

“Why?” Dean pushes. “Let’s just leave them here and get going.” He’s getting nervous now. Sam’s not quite right in the head. Maybe that’s not the best way to put it but, hell, he’s said so himself. He’s got company in there and that’s enough to cloud anyone’s judgment.

But Sam stiffens and shakes his head. “Can’t do that, Dean. We have to get the books.”

“No, Sam. We don’t. What we need to do is get out of here.”

Dean could be talking to a brick wall for all the effect his words are having on Sam. As he looks closely at his brother, really closely, Dean notices Sam’s eyes are unfocussed and his muscles are held so taught it must be hurting.

Dean’s apprehension ratchets up a notch to full blown worry and he decides they’ve prevaricated long enough. Joshua will be looking for Sam by now and then Dean understands where this apprehension has come from.

Joshua.

Last Dean looked, Sam had been merrily chatting to Joshua and his cronies. Next second he was in here with him. He peers at his brother through narrowed eyes.

“Sam,” he starts. “Where’s Joshua? How did you give him the slip?”

He waits for the answer, painfully aware of every second ticking past them, eyes flicking between his brother and the door, which he half expects to come crashing open any minute. Sam’s not moving though and Dean doesn’t like this inactivity. He dislikes the lack of response from Sam even more.

But what he really hates is the thought that’s moved in and set up home in the corner of his mind. The one that’s querying how sane Sam really is right now. How much control he really has over his own thoughts. As it settles down on the La-Z-Boy of Dean’s imagination it asks who’s really asking about the books – Sam or Mia?

Sam seems to be miles away and Dean hopes he’s not having a conversation only he can hear, but he thinks that’s the most likely explanation because Sam starts visibly when Dean nudges him with his foot.

“Joshua’s outside,” he tells Dean as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “He’s waiting for me.”

“Does he know I’m here?”

“No. I don’t think so,” Sam decides after another moment’s pause.

“Then let’s go,” Dean presses, moving forward till he’s level with Sam.

The next few minutes don’t really go the way the older hunter had planned. He should know better really than to turn his back on a not-quite-all-there Sam.

But he does it anyway, opening the door a crack, just wide enough to see if anyone is waiting for Sam out there with less than honorable intentions. The hallway is deserted though and just as Dean allows a tentative smile to creep onto his face, he feels a large hand on his back and he’s stumbling over the threshold like a toddler who’s just discovered his feet.

Regaining his balance, he whirls round to face his assailant – and isn’t that just a dandy of a word to describe his slightly off kilter brother?

Sam is just standing there though, looking at his hand as if he’s never seen it before. He raises his head to catch Dean’s eye and his mouth opens and closes rapidly. Dean thinks he’s probably trying to say something but it’s not quite fully formed yet. Dean thinks his brother looks remarkably like a fish out of water.

“What the hell was that, Sam?” he demands, fists curling subconsciously by his side.

“I…I don’t know,” his brother whispers, blinking rapidly. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“Was it Mia?”

Sam chews on his lower lip for a second before deciding, “It must have been.”

“How, Sam?” Dean hisses.

But before Sam gets the chance to answer there’s another voice and the unmistakable pressure of a gun barrel digging into the base of his spine.

“Because we helped Sam to remember,” Joshua states calmly, stepping round his flunky, holding his arm out to Sam. “Because this is his purpose, Mr. Winchester, and you are simply getting in the way.”

 

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The Winchester Chronicles

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