In the months since the hunt at the Psi Project, Sam had fallen into the habit of drawing the four of them together into a dream: himself and Jessica, Dean and Jo. He chose social settings: a bar, a beach full of families and sun, Disneyworld. They got along well, the four of them, in spite of their very different backgrounds.
But tonight was just Sam and Dean. If they were going to fight, even in a dream, Sam didn’t want witnesses.
When he dreamed with only Dean, Sam liked to create settings from places Dean had never visited: isolated but popular places like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. Tonight, he put them on top of the Empire State Building, with the sun coming up over New York, giving everything a rose-orange glow. There was a definite chill in the morning air and Dean had his hands stuffed into the pockets of his coat. His shoulders were slightly hunched and he slouched against the perimeter rail.
“Tell me about Jenn,” Dean insisted. His breath made white clouds in the air.
Sam probed Dean’s mind, carefully so Dean wouldn’t feel it. Dean’s fury rolled over Sam like a tsunami, rage enough it almost shocked Sam out of the dream. Dean knew already, or thought he knew. Nothing else would have made him so furious.
“Tell me,” Dean said again.
“Dean,” Sam began, choosing every word, “I don’t know what you’ve heard, but…”
“You feed me more bullshit, Sammy, and I swear to god…”
“Jennifer will be okay. I promised you, Dean. I keep my word.”
Sam saw Dean tense just in time. He exerted his power over the shared dream as Dean began to move. He didn’t try to avoid the punch; instead it passed right through him as if Sam were a spirit. Sam could have let Dean hit him – after all, Dean couldn’t hurt him in a dream – but he was just pissed enough to deny his brother that satisfaction. Dean should have trusted him.
Dean staggered, overbalanced by the failed swing, and Sam caught his arm before he fell. He used Dean’s momentum to shove him up against the wall.
“Dean! She’s not dead! She’s not gonna die!”
“Don’t lie to me!”
“I’m not. Just listen.” Sam stepped back, releasing Dean. The sunlight shone in his eyes and he raised a hand to shield them. “The hearing was never likely to clear Jennifer,” Sam admitted.
Dean watched him steadily. He looked calm, but Sam could still feel Dean’s rage, The emotion was leashed, for now, but it was still there. Dean was pissed.
“Under the Psi Project rules, she’s guilty, Dean. It’s not fair and I did everything I could to get them to make an exception, but I never really thought they would.” That had been Jenn’s problem from the beginning: she did what she did. It could have been worse didn’t mitigate anything, it made her situation worse.
“So she’s going to die,” Dean concluded.
“No,” Sam insisted. “I had a plan B, Dean. I know better than anyone where the loopholes are in the Project’s rules.”
Dean relaxed – just a little. “Alright. Talk fast, and don’t give me any crap about it being too complicated to explain.”
It was complicated, but Sam did his best to simplify it for Dean.
The Psi Project was under federal jurisdiction, so the allegations against Wesley Bishop had been referred to the FBI. They took allegations of child abuse very seriously. Jennifer was under eighteen, so she’d needed an adult to accompany her when the investigating agents took her evidence. She asked Sam to do it, but he was also a witness, and had suggested Jessica. Jess told him that Jenn did very well, telling a clear and convincing story.
It seemed likely that the case would take a long time to come to court. Bishop was granted bail, but he was out of the Psi Project and Sam was sure the cops, or the Feds, were watching to make sure no one else was in danger from him. He knew the case would drag on. Bishop would be crazy to plead guilty, so there would be delays while the lawyers on both sides built their cases, negotiated plea bargains and tracked down witnesses. Jennifer’s testimony would be key to the case, but if the Psi Project’s death sentence were carried out, she would never be able to testify.
That fact was going to save her life.
The two FBI agents who interviewed Sam about the case knew little about the inner workings of the Psi Project – few people outside the Project did. So Sam had explained it before Jennifer’s hearing, pointing out that the self-defence argument meant nothing to the Project. So when Jennifer’s hearing went the way Sam anticipated, they were ready to intervene immediately. The hearing wasn’t the end of the process. There were two more stages in the Psi Project review process before they could execute Jenn. Both were mere formalities – the hearing decisions were always upheld – but they took time.
Now a federal judge had issued a court order preventing that process from continuing until Bishop’s trial was concluded.
“But that’s only temporary,” Dean objected, when Sam reached that part of his explanation.
“That’s all it needs to be,” Sam told him. “Jenn just turned seventeen. On her eighteenth birthday, the Project loses all power over her. Even though she’s deathlisted, if she’s still alive they have to let her go.”
Dean frowned. “So…you’re hoping this trial won’t happen for another year?”
“It only has to be three months. That’s when Andy retires.”
Dean looked at him. “Sammy, do you really think you’ll get his job?” He said it as if he was asking if Sam believed in unicorns.
Sam shrugged. “I think I have a good shot. I’m qualified, I can present a clear plan for the future of the Project, and I have Andy’s backing. But even if I don’t get the job, the new director will need time to settle in to the job, and I’m on the inside now. I can keep her safe, Dean.”
“You sure about that?”
Sam grinned. “Well, let me put it this way. Worst case scenario, I have a brother who can bust her out.”
Dean didn’t return Sam’s grin. He nodded, his expression serious. “Okay, then,” he agreed.
“So…we’re okay?” Sam asked uncertainly.
Dean’s eyes met his. “We’re family,” he answered simply.