Sam spent the night in the second bed in Dean’s room. He slept with a loaded shotgun at his side. He knew how to use it; since Rachel’s kidnap he had kept guns at home and made sure he knew how to use them, though he’d never actually fired a gun outside of the shooting range.
When Sam insisted on sleeping in the room with Dean, Dean told Sam pointedly to stay out of his head. Because Dean was exhausted, Sam didn’t explain that he couldn’t “stay out”, not if they slept in the same room. He couldn’t not dreamwalk and Dean’s would be the first mind he encountered. But Sam didn’t have to go deeply into Dean’s mind and he didn’t have to stay there. He wasn’t willing to risk Dean kicking him out - with Jo spending the night with the children, and Dean helpless in his hospital bed, Sam was the only protection Dean had. So he simply lied, telling himself it was for a greater good.
Sam lay awake until he was sure Dean was sleeping peacefully. He remembered Dean staying at his side through half a dozen childhood illnesses. It was always Dean who brought him ice cream when his throat hurt too much for real food, Dean who laid a wet cloth on his feverish forehead, Dean who cleaned up the mess when Sam threw up all over his own bed. The least Sam could do was watch over Dean now.
Sam slept, touching Dean’s sleeping mind only briefly. He caught the edge of Dean’s dream - a glimpse of Jo, the scent of her hair - and he shied away. That was private, and personal. Sam reached out to Jo and found her awake. He touched each of the kids he knew, checking that they were all okay. Colin and Jennifer were together, not sleeping. Colin felt Sam’s mind-touch and didn’t shield, this time. «We’re fine,» he sent, and Sam moved on.
He reached out to Jessica. They shared dreams often and touching her mind was familiar and comfortable to Sam. Usually, he created an outdoor setting for them to share: the river near their home and the beach in Bali where they spent their honeymoon were favourites. Tonight, though, Sam wanted to be at home. He built an image of their bedroom, placing Jessica on the bed. She was wearing soft grey pants and a midriff top, with her blonde hair in tousled curls around her face. Sam lay beside her, dressed in similar, comfortable clothing. He reached out to trace the slight ridge of the appendectomy scar on Jessica’s stomach.
Jess smiled. “This is new.” She rolled over and snuggled against his side. She understood that he needed comfort tonight.
“It’s been a long day,” Sam explained. He brushed her curls back from her face, lifted a lock of hair to his mouth and kissed it.
Jessica lifted her head and kissed his lips, but when she drew back her expression was questioning.
Sam knew she wouldn’t let him pretend. Jessica was a good therapist, and she couldn’t help thinking like one. She knew he was troubled and expected him to talk about it. “Dean got hurt today,” he confessed. “Badly hurt.”
“Your brother? He’s with you at the Project?”
He had forgotten she didn’t know. Sam nodded, wrapping his arms around her. He wanted to feel her close to him. “The Project’s problem is more in his area of expertise than mine. They let me call him in, but…” In his mind, Sam saw Dean fall again and heard himself shout Dean’s name as he ran across the grass, unable to catch him.
Because it was a dream, Jess saw it, too. “My God. Is he…?”
“He’s got a lot of broken bones, but he’ll be okay.” Sam sighed.
Jess sat up, moving away from his touch. “I know that sigh. What’s on your mind, Sam? Is it the Project?”
Damn. Sam nodded reluctantly. “There’s a girl here, Jennifer. She’s been deathlisted.”
Jessica nodded, understanding. “And she’s…special to you?”
Sam looked at his wife. There was just a little bite in the way she said special, as if she were jealous. Why would Jess be jealous of a kid? “She saved Dean’s life,” he explained. I want to help her, but…Jess, I’ve been going over and over it in my mind and I don’t think I can.”
Jess looked very serious. She brushed back her hair with one hand; an habitual gesture. “Are you sure you should interfere?”
“No. But I am sure Jennifer doesn’t deserve to die.”
“Why was she deathlisted?”
“Someone tried to rape her. She used her psychic ability to defend herself.”
“But that’s self defence! Why would they kill her for that?”
“Self defence is irrelevant,” Sam explained. “The Psi Project rules have no room for motive. It only matters what and how.”
Jess frowned. “Okay, but…let me see if I understand. You were deathlisted when you were fifteen, but you hadn’t done anything.”
“So…?” Jess prompted when Sam didn’t elaborate.
“When I was a student here it wasn’t about what you did, only what you could do. I didn’t kill that girl, I didn’t even know her, but they were right when they said someone with my ability could have done it. She was depressed already and her nightmares pushed her over the edge to suicidal. That was enough.”
“But that’s changed?”
“Partly because of me - my case - they can judge cases based on character now instead of solely on psychic ability. The question hasn’t changed: it’s still Is this person capable of killing? They’ve just expanded the definition of capable.”
“And you believe this Jennifer isn’t dangerous. So, are you saying you don’t trust the people making that decision?”
Of course Sam didn’t trust them! He knew how the Psi Project leaders thought. They would rather execute an innocent than risk the Project graduating someone who later became a danger.
“No, I don’t. But that’s not it. The problem is Jenn did what she did. Even if they judge her on character, they’ll interpret that as evidence that she could do worse.”
“But you don’t agree?”
“Well, let me ask you, Jess. If some man tried to rape you, and you were capable of killing, don’t you think you would?”
Jessica took too long to think it over. “Sam, it’s not a simple question,” she answered eventually. She had her psychiatrist-face on. “In that situation, I think most people would panic,” Jessica agreed. “Panic is a survival trait. We do something that seems irrational and, sometimes, it works. So, I agree, a person might kill in panic. That’s one of the reasons we accept self-defence as a mitigating factor. But to have that capability and not use it…Sam, that doesn’t sound like panic. It sounds like planning.”
She was right! What Jennifer did to Wesley couldn’t have been a spur of the moment thing. She had to have thought about how to do it. Maybe that made sense: Jenn had said she wasn’t the first girl Wesley abused. There was more to her story, Sam realised. He needed to know exactly what happened between them that night.
Sam reached up to cup Jess’s cheek in his big hand. “Thank you,” he said softly. Jess smiled and he pulled her down into a kiss. Sam parted her lips, exploring with his tongue as he ran his hands down her back. He traced the line of her spine with his fingers and slipped his hands beneath the waistband of her pants to squeeze her buttocks gently.
Jess laughed into the kiss.
“I have to go, baby. I think I have work to do.”
“Of course you do.” Jess was disappointed, but not too much. She kissed him again. “I miss you,” she whispered against his lips.
“I miss you, too.” Sam let the dream dissolve around them, leaving Jess to dream her own dreams.
Sam could hear the noise from the dining hall long before he reached it: the voices of children, talking, shouting and laughing. It was inevitable. Asking so many children to crowd into one room, even such a large one, was bound to result in chaos. As Sam entered the corridor leading to the hall he saw the children crammed into the corridor ahead, and understood the problem. The younger kids were herded outside so others could re-arrange the tables for breakfast. But in the meantime the youngsters were unsupervised.
A girl fell just ahead of him and Sam darted forward, pushing his way through the crowd to help her up. He lifted her to her feet and made sure she was okay.
“Everyone, stop!” he shouted. It took a while, but eventually he had the attention of most of them. “Everybody, listen. I want you to form a line, up against this wall.” He thumped the wall beside him. “Two by two, so there’s space on the other side. Move!”
He waited for the kids to shuffle over to the wall. It wasn’t the most orderly arrangement, but it was better than the crush that had been there before. “Good. That’s right. Now wait quietly. It won’t be long.” He saw Jo watching through the hall door and smiled a greeting, making for her.
“How’s Dean?” Jo demanded at once, without so much as a hello.
Sam didn’t mind. He knew she cared about his brother. “He slept well.” Sam had to shout to be heard over the noise in the room: people moving tables and chairs around. “He wants to see you,” he added, “to talk over what to do.”
“Good. I’ll go now.”
Sam moved into her path. “Wait a moment. How did things go last night?”
Jo looked up at him impatiently. “There was no trouble from the spirits. It’s the first time on a hunt that everyone has done what we said, so no one was outside the protection. A lot of the kids couldn’t sleep, but I think that’s the whole thing making them scared. Dragging everyone in here was a crazy idea, even if it was mine.” She hefted her gun. “We’d better take care of this today. I’m a lousy babysitter.”
Ah. She was impatient because she wanted to escape. Fair enough. “Dean thinks we can end it. Can you tell me about Jennifer and Tamara?”
“Jenn seems fine. Tamara had a bad night, but she’s fine this morning. They’re over there.” Jo indicated a direction with a jerk of her head.
Sam frowned as he followed her gaze. He’d checked on Tamara several times during his dreamwalking overnight, and hadn’t found her in nightmares. “A bad night?” he asked.
“You’ll have to ask her. She was talking in her sleep. Kept waking up. I don’t know.”
“I’ll ask her. Thanks.” Sam stood aside so Jo could leave. “Hey, Jo?”
She looked back.
“Better take Dean some breakfast. It might be the only chance you get to eat this morning.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m not his wife, you know. I’ll take him a tray if I can find one, but I’m damned if I’ll feed him.”
Sam grinned. “Outside the hall, turn left. The first blue door leads into the kitchens. If you tell them it’s for the infirmary they’ll give you first pick.”
Jo returned his grin. “Cool. Thanks!” She headed out of the hall. Sam smiled to himself. He could see why Dean liked her.
Tamara was with Colin and Jennifer on the other side of the hall. They were, like everyone else, arranging tables for breakfast. Amazingly, Colin and Jennifer weren’t trying to hold hands while they worked. Sam crossed the room toward them, wondering if Tamara felt like a third wheel. The three of them seemed to be a tight-knit group, but three was often a crowd when two of the three were a couple.
Sam turned to find Andy Gilbert coming toward him. He waited, knowing Andy would want an update. Sam needed to talk to him, too, about Jennifer and Wesley Bishop. But this wasn’t the place for that: it had to be a private conversation. He let Andy make the usual small talk (good morning - sleep well? - fine, you?) before Andy asked after Dean.
“He’s doing okay.” Sam lowered his voice as much as he could with all the noise around them. “Dean says we need to consecrate the cemetery; that should end what’s been happening here. He and Jo are going over how it’s done.” He started walking toward the three teenagers as he talked.
“Don’t you need a priest for that?” Andy asked.
“I don’t know. If we do, we’ll find one today. They’ll get it done.” Sam saw Jennifer look up. She stiffened as she saw them coming. She straightened the chair she had been placing and waited, her hands resting on the chair back.
“Good morning, Director,” Jennifer said, looking down at her hands.
Sam remembered being just as intimidated by Andy, many years before. He’d never shown it the way Jennifer did, though. She should be bolder if she hoped to win her freedom. But, of course, she didn’t have that hope. She thought this was just a short reprieve.
“Hello, Jennifer. How did you sleep?”
“Well enough,” she answered, in a voice that implied she hadn’t slept at all. “Director, I wanted to ask…what should I do today? Ms Ellis said everyone is to go to class as normal, but…” she spread her hands, indicating a dilemma.
“Hm.” Andy regarded her for a moment. “I certainly can’t send you back to your mentor group…”
Sam interrupted, afraid Andy would order her back into isolation. “She could stay with Dean. He’ll be glad of the company and, well, Jenn can learn a lot from him, if she wants to. It’s not the same as going to class, but it’s something.”
“You trust her with your brother?” Andy asked.
Sam hesitated. He hadn’t told Andy Dean was his brother. “I trust her,” he answered simply. To Andy, he added, “We must talk about her case, but not here. There are some things I don’t think you know.”
Andy nodded. “My office is open to you, Sam. Whenever you are ready.”
“Jennifer, I’m trusting you to stay in the infirmary. If you leave there without good reason you’ll go right back to isolation.”
Jennifer looked down again. “I understand, Director.”
Sam waited until Andy was out of earshot then pulled out a chair for Jennifer. “You should stand up for yourself with him. He respects strength.”
She shrugged. “What difference does it make?”
Sam drew a breath to answer her but Tamara interrupted him by grabbing his arm. “He is your brother? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Sam frowned, not understanding why it mattered. “I didn’t tell anyone here. Dean must have told the Director.”
Tamara looked exasperated. “You and Dean have the same father?”
“Yes, and the same mother.” Sam was about to add that they were both dead when Tamara said it for him.
“And he’s dead, right? Was his name John?”
Sam stared at her. “Tamara, what are you talking about?”
She told him.
The coffee was barely lukewarm and Dean finished it in one long swallow. He rarely ate so slowly as he had that morning, but the pain medication didn’t seem to be working any more and he had only one good hand to eat with. It slowed him down. He set the cup on the wheeled table next to his empty plate and pushed it away. It rolled a short distance from the bed and then stopped.
Jo’s eyes followed the movement, but she wasn’t watching Dean. She was still on the phone to her preacher friend.
Dean was frustrated by his helplessness. He couldn’t even piss without someone holding a bottle for him, but what really bothered him was the thought of Jo finishing this hunt without his help. It wasn’t as if she needed help: Jo had been hunting evil on her own for years before he showed up. The ritual to consecrate the cemetery ground wasn’t dangerous. It shouldn’t be like an exorcism, where you had to worry about the demon getting loose while you worked. It was just a matter of saying the right words…or so he hoped.
Consecrating the burial ground was the only way Dean could think of to lay so many spirits without digging up all three hundred bodies. A spirit was nearly always tied to the remains of its human body. A person buried in consecrated ground could still become a ghost – that happened all the time – but most spirits couldn’t cross consecrated ground. Dean didn’t need to understand how it worked; he only needed to know that it would.
“That sounds great, Marty,” Jo said brightly. “Send it to my phone, okay?” She glanced across to Dean. “I will. Thanks.” She ended the call and pocketed her phone.
“Good news?” Dean asked.
“Marty’s got a consecration ritual. We need consecrated oil as well as holy water, but that’s okay. I’ve got both. We’re good.”
“Think you can do it on your own?”
“Yes, but – ” Jo broke off as the door opened.
It was Sam with Jennifer and Tamara. “Dean, I think you should talk to Tamara.”
The phone in Jo’s pocket bleeped and she glanced at it. “That was fast. Sam, I could use your help with this, if you’re free.”
He hesitated. “Sure, but – ”
“It’s okay, Sam,” Dean said. “Go with her.”
Sam seemed reluctant, but he nodded. “Alright.” He looked at Tamara. “Tell Dean what you told me, but if he says no, I want you to drop it, okay? Don’t push.”
“Dean, I told Director Gilbert that Jenn could stay with you today. I hope that’s alright. He would have sent her back to isolation otherwise.”
“It’s fine,” Dean agreed.
Jo kissed Dean lightly. “Don’t go away,” she whispered against his lips.
“Very funny,” Dean growled. “Hey. Forward that ritual to me, would you? It’ll give me something to read.”
“Sure. C’mon, Sam.”
Jo punched buttons on her phone, forwarding the ritual to Dean while Sam walked beside her.
“Sam, what’s your number? You should have a copy of this, too.”
Sam told her, and waited for her to finish. He heard his phone beep an alert. “What do you want me to do?” he asked her.
“Keep that ass Gilbert off my back for starters.”
“Andy’s not that bad,” Sam answered reflexively. Then he considered what she said. Andy would want to be kept informed about what they were doing. “I can run interference,” he offered, “so you won’t have to deal with him, but that might be the best I can do.”
“If he’d let us bring Dean’s car in, Dean wouldn’t have been hurt,” Jo said coldly.
She was right. Her reference to Dean made Sam glance back over his shoulder to the closed infirmary door. “Jo…” he began, unsure how to ask his question, “while Dean recovers…will he be okay?”
Jo shook her head. “He'll be a pain in the ass. Dean’s like most men: he can’t handle being sick.”
“I meant…well, I don’t even know where he’s been living. He’s going to need someone to take care of him, and he can’t come to my home. He’s still wanted for murder in Washington.”
“Oh. My mom runs a saloon in Nebraska. Dean’s been living with us.”
A saloon didn’t sound like the best place for Dean to convalesce, though Sam had nothing better to offer. “He’s going to need medical care, Jo…”
“We look after our own,” Jo snapped. It was a dismissal, and clearly excluded Sam from the category of our own.
That bothered Sam more than it should have. He wasn’t part of their world and he’d never met Jo before she came here. He was still searching for a suitable answer when Jo turned to him.
“Tell me something. If these spirits are looking for revenge against the Project, why haven’t they attacked Gilbert? Or the other people who run this place?”
It was a good question and Sam didn’t have a good answer. “Dean told me that spirits don’t see things the way people do. You can’t predict who they'll blame for…whatever.”
Jo nodded. “It’s weird, though, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Sam agreed. “I can guess why Andy hasn’t been targeted, but it’s just a guess.” They reached the end of the corridor and Sam opened the door for Jo.
Jo gave him a look that said clearly it was a faux pas. “I’ll take a guess.”
“The students here know Andy Gilbert by sight, because he’s the director, but that’s it. Most of them will have a conversation with him just once: the day they turn eighteen. Kids who have died here…”
“Probably never met him,” Jo concluded for him.
“There’s that, and…Jo, I’m not sure how to explain it. There’s a bond, psychic to psychic. And Gilbert isn’t a psychic.”
“What kind of bond?”
“Recognition. Imagine walking down a crowded street, but seeing everything in black-and-white, like an old movie. Then imagine that just one or two people on that street appear in colour.”
“You'd be drawn to them,” Jo nodded, understanding.
“Yes. And if you’re a spirit, not a person, maybe the other people wouldn’t be quite…real.”
“That’s creepy.” Jo shuddered. “How can you live like that?”
Sam smiled. He wanted to ask how she could live without it. “The short answer is, I don’t. The longer one is I've never known what it’s like to be any different. If I didn’t have that psychic sense I'd feel…blind. Or like I was missing a limb.”
“It’s still creepy.” Jo shrugged. “I guess with the monorail down I’ll have to walk to Dean’s car.”
“That’s probably quicker than asking for a cart.” When Sam had been a student, there had been a number of electric carts that could be used to get around the compound instead of using the monorail. They were used mostly by mentors transporting very young children. But Sam hadn’t seen a cart since he arrived back at the Project and getting the use of one would mean going through Andy, which Jo seemed to want to avoid.
“Then that’s where I’m going,” Jo announced. “Sam, how’s your Latin?”
Sam hesitated. He remembered his father making him memorise Latin rituals, going over the words and pronunciations over and over. But that was a long time ago. “I can read it and understand a little. I don’t think I can translate.”
“Can you pronounce it?”
Sam nodded. “Yeah. Dad drilled that into me, and there’s a lot of Latin in medical training.”
“Then I want you to study that ritual. It’s okay if you don’t understand the words, but you've got to be able to read it.”
“Aren’t you going to…?”
“Yes. You’re my backup. It should be Dean, but you'll do.”
Gee, thanks, Sam thought, but didn’t say it.
It must have shown on his face, though, because Jo gave him an impatient look. “Listen, I can do the ritual. But some of these rites are thousands of years old and they're…pretty sexist. You understand me? It'll only work for a man.”
“And this one is like that?” Sam thought he understood her irritation.
“Don’t know until we try it,” Jo answered.
Jennifer gathered up Jo’s breakfast things, helping herself to a slice of toast Jo had left. She added Jo’s plate to Dean’s on the wheeled table, and pushed the table out of their way.
Tamara took the chair Jo had vacated at Dean’s bedside. “How are you feeling this morning?”
Dean narrowed his eyes. “Don’t do that,” he instructed.
“Make conversation. I feel like I fell thirty feet from a monorail. Which is what happened. Sam said you wanted to tell me something. So spill it.”
Tamara’s cheeks reddened under her dark skin. “Well…you know I’m a medium.”
“Last night I had a spirit pestering me. It happens sometimes. I…”
“Wait,” Dean interrupted. Weren’t you sleeping in the dining hall with everyone else?”
“Then how could you have a spirit around you? You were supposed to be protected in there.” Dean looked at Jennifer, who was bringing another chair so she could join them. She nodded silently, confirming, Dean hoped, that they had indeed been in a salt circle.
“It wasn’t a ghost,” Tamara protested. “This is…” she hesitated, biting her lip. “I’ve noticed that you say spirit when you mean ghost,” she volunteered finally.
“That’s because a ghost is a type of spirit. Like a lion is a type of cat. Do you understand?”
Tamara frowned. “Then maybe I need a new word for what talks to me. I can see ghosts, but what I call spirits, the things that talk to me, aren’t ghosts. They’re just dead people.”
Dean wasn’t sure she was right about that, but it wasn’t his problem. He nodded. “Okay. So, last night…?”
“It’s not like talking to a person. Sometimes it’s just pictures or words that don’t quite fit together. Sometimes only feelings. But last night I kept getting the same thing. His sons were in trouble and he wanted me to warn them.”
Dean held his breath, not daring to let the thought form in his mind. Not daring to hope.
“I don’t know any brothers here, so I told him I couldn’t help. But he was very…persistent. He wouldn’t go away. And this morning I overheard Sam talking with Director Gilbert. He said you were his brother. So I think maybe…”
“It was my dad?” Dean breathed.
“I think so.”
Dean stared at her. “Well, what did he say?” he demanded urgently.
Tamara looked uncertain. “I’m not sure. I was trying to make him go away. But…I can try to make contact again. Now. If you like.”
"So…er…how does this work, exactly?" Dean felt self conscious, holding Tamara’s hand in his. On the other side of the bed, Jennifer rested one of her hands on the fingers of Dean’s broken arm and reached across his body to hold Tamara’s other hand.
"The first stage is a bit like tuning a radio. I have to make a connection to your father’s spirit. I’ll tell you what I see or hear, and you need to let me know whether you think it’s right. When I’m sure of the connection you'll be able to communicate with him."
"Am I supposed to close my eyes or somethin'?"
Tamara smiled. "Only if you want to." She closed her own eyes and squeezed his hand. "John," she said aloud. "John, I’m listening now. Do you want to speak to your son?"
Dean watched her as she spoke. Tamara’s eyes were closed, her young face very serious. Dean knew she had nothing to gain by conning him and it was certainly no joke to her. Still, he found it hard to believe that she could really do what she claimed. Or perhaps he was hoping she couldn’t…he wasn’t sure his Dad would be happy with him. Dean had killed him, after all. Though Dean would never have more than brief flashes of memory from that night, he knew it hadn’t been a quick or clean kill. He used a machete, and John fought him. Hard.
"I see…a car," Tamara said softly. "It’s old…I smell gasoline. The car is black, very big…"
"It sounds like my car. She was my Dad’s car first. He gave her to me for my eighteenth birthday."
Tamara smiled faintly. "There’s a gun on the seat. I…I don’t know much about guns, but this one is special. I don’t know why."
Dean was silent. His Dad owned a lot of guns, but so did he. Gun on its own meant nothing. A special gun? Nothing came immediately to mind, although there had been guns that had particular meaning.
“Oh!” Tamara exclaimed. “It’s not his. There’s a boy. A little boy with a gun across his lap.” Tamara frowned as if she found the image disturbing. “The man is laying his hand across the boy’s. He’s saying something. I can’t hear the words, but there’s a name. Maria? No, Mary.”
Dean closed his eyes. “That’s my mother’s name.” He could see the scene Tamara described so vividly: the Impala, the weight of a sawed-off shotgun across his lap, Dad’s voice… Dean couldn’t remember a specific incident that matched Tamara’s description, but it sounded very familiar.
“It’s coming through so clearly,” Tamara said. “His spirit is strong.” She sighed, her fingers relaxing in Dean’s hold. “John,” she said, her voice suddenly soft, “I feel you now. Will you speak to Dean?”
Dean held his breath.
The chain clinked as Sam unlocked the cemetery gate and pulled the chain through the railings. He didn’t go in, just looked through the gate for a moment.
And then he looked with more than his eyes.
Sam’s sixth sense wasn’t confined to his dreams, it was just there that he was most comfortable, and most powerful. As he had tried to explain to Jo, it was easy for him to slip into an altered state of consciousness from which he could perceive the world in a very different way. Most psychics could do it to some extent, and most didn’t do it often, because the switch in perception could be confusing, even frightening. Sam suspected it was the reason so many untrained psychics ended up in padded cells: if a person couldn’t control that psychic vision or didn’t understand what they were seeing, it must make the world a terrifying place.
But it could also be useful. At first, Sam couldn’t tell what he was seeing. Inside the cemetery, filling the air, he saw a swirling mass of colour and darkness. Vague shapes swept out of the confusion and were swallowed again, too quickly for him to recognise anything. There was smoke, and sparks rising as if from a bonfire. Then suddenly the ever-shifting cloud seemed to coalesce into something Sam almost identified. And it was gone.
The rough, flaking iron of the gate dug into Sam’s palm and Sam realised he was gripping the bar tightly. His mouth was dry with fear. What was in there was huge. It was powerful. And it was growing. He had no doubt about that last. The centre was dark, a great vortex drawing in more and more…what? Power? Evil?
Sam leaned closer, his face not quite touching the bars of the gate, hoping to see more clearly. He caught a glimpse of a face, of long, dark hair and caught his breath. Without thinking, he started to push the gate open.
A hand grasped Sam’s wrist.
“Sam, what are you doing?” Jo demanded.
When Sam turned to her, he saw her with his psychic vision, her hair and eyes aglow with life. He closed his eyes, concentrating to “switch off” that second sight. When he opened them again he just saw Jo, gazing at him with concern.
But Jo had been heading out to the parking lot when he last saw her. Why was she here now? Then he saw the sleek black car parked on the grass a short distance away. God, how many memories did he have of that car?
But if Jo had been out to the parking lot and was back now, how long had Sam been standing here at the gate? He’d lost time standing here. Maybe a lot of time. The realisation sent a chill down his spine.
“Sam!” Jo said sharply.
Sam shook his head. “Sorry, I…” he muttered. He took a deep breath, centring himself the way he did before a dreamwalk.
“Dude, what are you smokin'?”
Sam answered, “Psychic energy. There’s a lot of it in there.” His voice was steady.
“Well, duh,” Jo told him impatiently.
He’d pissed her off again. Sam wished Dean were with them. Dean at least understood a little about Sam’s power. He tried to explain. “When I arrived at the Project a few days ago, I came here to…to pay my respects. There was something in the cemetery then…” - that spark of heat he felt at Nedah’s grave - “but nothing like what I can feel there now. Maybe I’m more sensitive now I know what’s here, but…”
“…But maybe it really is stronger,” Jo finished.
“Tell me what you see.”
Sam thought about it. How do you explain a symphony to someone who is deaf? He frowned. “Have you ever seen Kirlian photography? Auras?”
Jo nodded. “Sure. In books.”
“If I try, I can see something like that. It’s a…a sense of life, or energy. It’s not clairvoyance, like Tamara. It’s…different. Seeing the world that way can be damned confusing, so mostly I don’t try. What I can see through the gate is a little like that, but life is always attached to something. A person. A plant. Something. What’s in there isn’t physical, but it’s powerful…energy? I don’t know.”
“Ether,” Jo suggested. “You see changes in the Ether.”
Sam shook his head. “I’m a psychic, Jo, but I’m also a doctor. A scientist. Ether is a Victorian invention.”
“It’s ancient Greek,” Jo disagreed, “and it’s just a word for a plane of existence that science hasn’t figured out yet. Call it whatever you like, Sam. You’re the psychic.” She looked through the gate, her expression wary, but Sam knew she wouldn’t be able to see what he had seen. “We need to get this done, Sam. Are you ready?”
“I’m ready,” Sam answered, although his experience at the gate had shaken him badly.
Jo opened her pack and extracted a small, clear bottle. “This is consecrated oil,” she explained. “It’s all I have, so be careful. Mark a cross on both of your hands and your forehead. It’s…protection. A kind of blessing.”
Sam took the bottle from her and spilled a little of the oil onto his fingers.
Jo moved toward the gate. “This is iron, isn’t it?” she asked, running one hand down the bars.”
“I think so,” Sam agreed as he followed her instructions, marking his skin with the oil. Protection. Would it work against all that power?
“It’s a pity it doesn’t go all the way around.” She knelt in the grass and started to pull plastic bottles out of her bag, stacking them in a row beside the gate. “We need to lay down a circle of holy water around the space we're going to consecrate. I'd planned on going around the inside of the hedge, but maybe it'll be safer if we go around the outside.”
She seemed to be asking him, so Sam nodded agreement. “That sounds like a good idea. The hedges are a complete perimeter around the cemetery.”
Jo handed him a bottle of water and unscrewed another. “Hold it like this.” She demonstrated, holding the bottle pointing downward, with her thumb covering the open neck. She shook it, letting water drip onto the ground. “You want a sprinkle, not a flow, got it?”
“It’s not like a salt line. We’re just marking out the space, so it doesn’t have to be a perfect unbroken line, but go slow and try not to miss any spots. If you run out of water, mark the place and come back here for more.”
“Got it,” Sam answered.
Jo added a few more instructions, and they began.
For the first time, Sam saw fear in Jo’s eyes. He wondered if she’d ever done this before, but he wouldn’t ask. It only mattered that she could do it now. Sam nodded to her, feigning a confidence he didn’t truly feel, and Jo pushed open the gate.
They walked into the cemetery side by side. Sam was braced for…for something to happen, but nothing did. The grass was soft beneath his shoes and a light breeze played with his hair. The cemetery was as quiet as it had been when Sam visited Nedah’s grave.
Everything was still. The breeze rippled through the grass and rustled the leaves of the surrounding hedges.
Jo lifted her voice. “In nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti.”
“Amen,” Sam responded.
Everything was still…
…It was waiting.
With the thought, Sam concentrated on raising a psychic shield, protecting his mind. Only when the shield was solid in his mind did he risk opening up his second sight again.
What had been an amorphous cloud of colour and sparks was now dark and roiling. It was…angry. The cloud was circling, forming a shape something like a twister, but slow-moving. Moving toward Jo.
Sam drew a breath to warn her and something shot out from the cloud and closed around him. Abruptly, there was no air. Sam took a step backward and and his foot caught on something. He fell awkwardly, twisting as he tumbled in an attempt to break his fall. He could no longer hear Jo’s voice. He rolled onto his back, looking for Jo. He saw her with his second sight, her light shining through the sudden darkness.
Surely she had noticed him fall? Sam tried to get up, reaching out to her, but Jo remained where she was, half-turned away from him.
Sam tried to fight through his second sight, to see her reality. He fumbled for his phone where his copy of the ritual was stored. If Jo wasn’t able to complete the consecration, he had to. Sam struggled to his feet, feeling as if he were fighting through a tornado, though no wind whipped his clothing or hair.
“Jo!” he called, hoping she would respond, but he could no longer see her. Sam took a step forward, intending to go to Jo, to help her, but then he realised that the best way to help was to do what she’d told him: finish the ritual.
The display on his phone flickered as Sam punched buttons, calling up the text. What was wrong with his phone? He shook it hard – a stupid thing to do, but remarkably it seemed to work. The display steadied.
As the whirlwind of power closed around him once more Sam began to read.