It feels so good to be driving away from the M-21, to be leaving Michigan in the rearview mirror and moving on. Logically, Sam knows that simply leaving a place won't cause what happened there to stay behind, but he still hopes, as he watches it grow distant in the side mirror, that what occurred between him and Dean will stay there.
Ten hours of Metallica is a lot to expect any person to endure, much less Sam, who gets sick of the same tape after about twenty miles, but Dean never seems to grow tired of it; he sings along for the first couple of hours before falling into silence when his voice begins to go hoarse.
Sam doesn't know what Dean's thinking, but his brother's quiet and slumped down in his seat for awhile; Sam goes back and forth between staring out the window at a shapeless landscape that never seems to change—darkness falling quickly and leaving everything but the little bit of land beneath the pools of light from the streetlamps to his imagination—and casting rapid, aborted glances at Dean.
Dean doesn't seem to notice. If he does, he's much better at hiding things than Sam remembers, but that's not really a surprise. Sam still can't believe, sometimes, that he's sitting next to Dean in the Impala like the intervening nine years never happened.
Sam keeps expecting Dean to stop for the night, or to offer the keys to Sam and ask him to drive, but his brother simply carries on, silent now, in the Impala for miles upon miles until they finally cross the state line into West Virginia.
It's at that point, with Sam still holding the map, eyes half-closed, dozing in the passenger seat, when Dean says,
Sam pops his eyes open and focuses with difficulty on Dean. "Yeah?"
"Don't feel guilty."
Sam is too tired and still too woozy from what amounts to no real, deep sleep to completely comprehend what Dean's getting at, but he thinks it has something to do with Dean's lips under his, Dean's skin warm and firm under his fingertips.
He gulps and turns his face back to the window, where faint streaks of purple are starting to feather through the sky like streamers.
"The cheapest motel in the area we'll be staying in is in Lewisburg. America's Best Value Inn," Sam says, running his tongue along his teeth and gums, trying to rehydrate his mouth, which is sour and dry from sleeping.
"Probably has orange walls and a plumbing that clanks and rings all night," Dean mutters, but Sam already knows that Dean's used to things like that by now, anyway.
"It might have naked women cut-outs in the wallpaper," Sam offers, but his mouth still feels like it's been stuffed with lint for the last several hours. "Look, Dean, can we stop for breakfast before we check in?"
Dean flicks his eyes towards Sam, and looks like he's about to argue, when Sam's stomach growls loudly, complaining about the fact that they haven't eaten since dinner before they left Michigan. Sam can't really say he's sorry to have left Michigan behind, though.
Then again, from the looks of things, West Virginia isn't going to be that much more fun to be stuck in, though hopefully not for as long. Sam adds a fervent prayer to that that he doesn't get injured again, now that his rib is finally healed.
"You see any IHOPs," Dean says, "I want pancakes."
"Duly noted," Sam replies, but even in the pre-dawn light, he still doesn't see much of anything besides trees and vegetation. As the Impala streaks by some little overgrown bushes, birds flutter up into the lightening sky, and Sam puts a hand on the glass of the window, counting them as they scatter. It's easier than allowing his mind to wander back onto oft-treaded paths.
Sometimes, he thinks as he watches the birds wheel in the sky, his mind follows the same tracks around and around in circles, and this morning, it wants to travel down the rutted path that takes him back to a dilapidated, deserted cottage in overgrown weeds in the very back of his mind. Inside, Sam knows, are the memories of Dean he's tried to hide.
If Dean's aware of Sam's preoccupation, he gives no indication. His brother is placid, hands loose on the steering wheel, eyes on the endless ribbon of highway in front of him.
The birds disappear into the distance and Sam is left alone with nothing but his thoughts for company. With Dean in the seat beside him, there's nothing to distract him from sidelong glances at Dean's physique: his worn Levis stretched across his powerful thighs, his chest broad under the leather jacket and faded light blue t-shirt.
Sam sighs and closes his eyes again, only to be startled into yelping in a totally non-girl-like fashion when Dean whaps him on the knee.
"You're supposed to be keeping your eyes peeled for someplace to eat, since you were the one who wanted to stop," Dean says, and Sam is abruptly cognizant that Dean has been aware of Sam this entire time, and he wonders just what Dean has been thinking about. Whether Dean is able to tell what Sam has been thinking about. The thought claws at his mind painfully and he turns his head away from Dean.
"Yeah, well, I'm still tired," he says lamely.
"You're still a freak, is what you are," Dean says cheerfully, as though he's not exhausted from driving. Sam peeks at Dean from out of the corner of his eye, and tries not to own that—to own the idea that he is a freak, and has been one all along.
"So, Mrs. Dayton, do you think you could tell me exactly what happened the night before you were taken to the hospital?"
"I ain't crazy," Patricia Dayton says with steel in her tone. This is clearly not a woman who is frail or likely to fall apart at the sight of a spider or rat. Her hair is immaculately curled and she smells clean, like apples and baby powder, and Sam can tell that she's not crazy. Even in the psych ward, she's obviously well-taken care of, and he doesn't think it's the hospital's doing.
"No, ma'am, of course not," Sam says soothingly. "Sometimes, well, things just seem a little overwhelming. It doesn't mean that what you think happened isn't real."
"I don't need no patronising, either," she snaps, looking from Dean back to Sam. "Seems like you two boys are just two more in a long line of people who want to gawk at the mayor's daughter for being crazy."
"Naturally not, Mrs. Dayton," Dean says, voice whiskey-smooth, just like Dean tends to be. "We just want to get to the bottom of things. Do you mind if we check out the crime scene?"
"If you mean my house, Mr. Turner, it's not a crime scene. The police say that because I did this—" she rolls up her sleeves "—to myself that there's nothing to be done with my house. And my husband comes home every weekend and sleeps there, so he claims he's never seen a single thing."
Sam leans forward. "Holy shit," he says, and then, "pardon my French, ma'am. And how did you say these markings occurred?"
All up and down her arms are scratches, thick and deep. But what sets them apart from obvious, self-inflicted wounds is that, with a careful eye, one can tell that there are what appear to be four claw marks in lines equidistant from each other. He catches Dean's eye; they could've been made by a razor or other sharp object, but it's unlikely, especially considering that the marks are so uniform. Dean nods.
"I was sleeping," she says. "I was dreaming of devils—and yes, I know how that sounds—and I was in excruciating pain, being tortured. When I woke up, I had these marks, and that was two weeks ago, and as you can see, they are still as fresh as if I got them this morning. The doctors are convinced I keep reopening the wounds, but I ask you, Mr. Bachman, how could that happen in a psychiatric hospital like this one?"
"I am certain I couldn't say," Dean remarks, and she pulls her sleeves back down to cover the injuries.
"Mrs. Dayton," Sam says in his most compassionate tone, "please give us permission to examine your house. We might be able to help you."
"If you must," she says. "There is a spare key underneath the lilac flowerpot at the back porch."
"Thank you for your time," Dean says, and pats her hand. And then he stands up, and puts his palm over Sam's shoulder-blade, turning him away from the woman in the chair and steering him out of the room and back down the hall.
Once outside, walking briskly towards the Impala, Dean says,
"Dude, we gotta get her back into the house, or we might never solve the case. Obviously whatever is in that house has it in for her, if it's not bothering her husband."
"What do you think it is?" Sam asks.
"I haven't the first clue," Dean replies. "I don't know of anything that can invade dreams and cause physical markings like that. Well, except for the demons Dad refers to in his journal."
"Well, if they just bought this house—"
"Even if they did, why her, and not her husband?"
"Maybe because her husband seems to travel a lot. Whatever's there might be angry about sharing the space, and Patricia Dayton would be home alone and often."
Sam scrubs a hand through his hair, pushing it out of his eyes.
"I know you don't wanna do it, Sammy, but you know as well as I do that it's just as likely we won't find anything unless we bring her back into the house."
"How are we going to get her out of the psych ward, then?" Sam asks, grabbing Dean's arm and stopping him in the middle of the parking lot. "It's not like they're just going to let her go home."
Dean grins suddenly, wicked and obscenely bright in the sunlight. "If we are from another facility, transporting her, then we should be able to just wheel her right out of there."
Sam squints into the sunlight, trying to bring Dean's features into clearer focus. "And if we succeed, and take care of whatever's in the house, then that would get her back home. Without the trouble of trying to get her discharged."
"Well, technically..." Dean's grin turns sly. "I know someone who is excellent at breaking into computer systems. We don't even need to talk to anyone; we just need you to mark her as available for discharge to another psych facility, and then we play dress-up, go in, bring her out, and take her home. The paper trail will lead nowhere, and as long as nothing else bad happens, she'll be able to stay home without any further trouble."
"Except her husband," Sam reminds Dean. "Her husband is going to want to know how—"
"If we save her, she'll back up our story, Sammy. And then if her husband asks the hospital, well, they'll say she was discharged."
"I suppose it could work," Sam says dubiously. "What if her husband is involved? What if that's why the demon, or whatever it is, doesn't bother him?"
Dean looks grave then, eyes dark and grim. "Then I'll have to take care of him."
"Dean! You can't just kill the guy!"
"I have to do something," Dean says. "I'm not going to let that woman rot in there forever when she's obviously been the victim of some supernatural force."
Sam starts walking again, and Dean follows, his hand fluttering for a moment next to Sam's shoulder. "We need to go check out the house."
Back at the motel, Sam and Dean pack a duffle to bring to the house, and as Sam moves to reach for a knife, Dean reaches across in the other direction for his holy water, and for just a split second, their lips are almost close enough to touch, the heat of Dean's breath searing Sam's skin as they stare at each other.
He swallows and ducks his head down and away, and the spell is broken. But not before his traitourous body remembers the way it felt to press against the hard muscle of Dean's body.
"Let's go," Dean says, and his hand rubs against Sam's collarbone as he draws it back with the holy water clutched in his fingers. Sam doesn't think the caress is deliberate, but oh, how badly he wishes it were.
The Impala pulls into White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and Dean navigates them to Church Street, which is where Patricia Dayton lives.
The house looks completely innocuous. With thoughts of demons whirling around in his mind, Sam was almost expecting to see a house like the Amityville house, with windows that looked like eyes glaring down at the street, but instead it's huge, white, and ancient-looking, like its been standing for hundreds of years.
It's a beautiful house, too, with gables and a wraparound porch, and Sam looks down once more to double-check the address on the little slip of paper he's holding. Just as his eyes move away from the house, something flirts with the edges of his vision, and he jerks and his gaze snaps to an upper window. Once he's looking directly at it, though, there's nothing there.
"All right, Sammy," Dean says. "You man the camera, and I'll take the EMF meter. We gotta sweep the whole place, and I wasn't really expecting it to be this big."
"I thought I saw something," Sam says, still staring at the window. He points. "Up there, in that window. We should start there—especially if that turns out to be the master bedroom."
Dean pats Sam's thigh, which weirds Sam out a little. It's like Dean suddenly can't stop touching him, when before he couldn't seem to keep his hands far enough away from Sam.
"Let's go, dude," Dean says. Sam nods, and they get out of the car.
They sweep the whole first floor without finding anything. It's quiet, too quiet really; Sam likens the silence to that of a cemetery at night, when even the little night creatures around pause and go soundless around the dead. Especially the dead that might rise up as a vengeful spirit at any moment. Those thoughts lead Sam to be very careful; the last thing he wants is to wind up nearly-bedridden for another whole month.
There's no EMF on the first floor, so they go upstairs carefully; Sam's got his wrists crossed with his gun in one hand and the video camera in the other. He doesn't see anything on the viewfinder, but then again, there is sunlight splashing through all of the giant picture windows, so it's probably not the time when the ghosties and ghoulies would be about anyway. Still, though.
Dean keeps just behind Sam and to the left, covering him with his own firearm, the EMF in his other hand. Sam keeps waiting for the telltale whine and ding that suggests something is there, but there's nothing. Yet Sam doesn't discount what he saw on that woman's arms with his own eyes: there is something here, somewhere. Something that wanted to hurt Patricia Dayton, and something that might have killed her if she hadn't've said something.
After some more tense minutes, Sam can't take the eerie, utter silence any more. He inclines his head towards Dean slightly and whispers,
"There's nothing, Dean. Do you see anything?"
And then Sam stops, a full-halt right in the middle of the hallway; Dean jostles his shoulder with his body as if he couldn't stop fast enough. Yet Sam has the creepy, skin-crawling sensation that Dean meant to do that. He puts it out of his mind, though, because they've come to a door. The first door in the house that has been closed, and the doorknob is glowing slightly as if there's a luminescence on it.
Sam peers through the camera, but there's nothing—and then there's something, in between one blink and the next, there's a dark shape that flits across the viewfinder so fast that Sam isn't even sure he saw it.
"Dean," he says. "There's something in there."
"Yeah, that ain't normal," Dean concurs, still pressed against Sam's shoulder and evidently staring at the knob the same way that Sam is. "I'm not sure if we should—"
But that crawling sensation fades, like Sam's not in any kind of danger, though he knows his sense of danger should be heightened, alert. He reaches out and turns the knob, and the door swings inward on perfectly oiled hinges, wide open as if Sam pushed it instead of just turning the knob.
"Yeah, that's not supposed to happen," Sam whispers, and looks up from the camera.
He's pretty sure they both see it at the same time: the wallpaper is yellow, with wide curlicues and flourishes, and that might give the impression of movement anyway, but Sam knows what he just saw. He knows that something just shifted in that wallpaper, rippled a little as if there's bugs underneath the paper.
Which is when the EMF goes crazy, and Sam is certain that whatever just moved in the wallpaper was not, in fact, something that could be explained away by bugs or mice or anything mundane.
"Jesus Christ," Dean breathes behind Sam. "Never saw anything like that before." He muscles around Sam so that he's standing in front of him, his gun pointed, but there's nothing to aim at. The EMF settles to a low whine, and whatever was there is gone.
Sam scans the room, and realises it's a day room of some sort; there's a chaise longue at the far end of the room, which is huge. There's also a sofa that kitty-corners the wall on the other side, and two end tables on either side of the cushy furniture.
Sam takes a breath and walks around Dean, their shoulders touching intimately as he does; he circles the room and discovers that the sofa—which extends on one side the length of an armchair but on the other side is like a full-sized couch—turns out into a bed. He runs a finger along the incredibly soft fabric and looks over at Dean.
"She might have slept in here," he says. "I think we should have asked her if she was having marital problems—enough to keep her sleeping someplace besides her own bed with her husband at night."
"That's a really personal question," Dean comments, but he smiles at Sam. "Though you're right, and when we bring her back here, we are going to have to ask some sticky questions."
"There was definitely something here," Sam says. Dean comes further into the room and Sam closes the door; behind it is a giant china cabinet filled with little glass animal figurines. Sam walks over to it, examines them, and there's a whole zoo of different animals, from monkeys to pigs to little bears standing on their hind legs. As he leans in, their little black eyes reflect the green-blue of his own, and then something slides, oily-slick, across the surface of one of the pigs.
"Dean..." he says, and his brother is next to him in a matter of moments. "Look at their eyes."
His brother looks, then sucks in a breath like he's been punched in the lungs. "That is not normal," Dean whispers, and the EMF in his hand goes wild yet again. The closer Sam peers at them, the more he can tell that some of the little animals—all the little glass pigs—are looking back.
"When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you," Sam breathes. "Those little glass animals—inanimate objects—are staring at us."
He straightens up and away from the curio cabinet, and as he does so, the door slams completely shut. Sam whips his head around, but the windows are closed and latched. There's a fine wind curling through his hair like ghostly fingers, though, and Sam feels oddly welcome here. It's a totally disconcerting thought.
Dean backs away from the china cabinet, his gun aimed, but there's a loud concussion of sound behind them, and they both whirl to face it.
Which is when Dean goes flying through the air, straight into the cabinet. Glass tinkles and breaks and smashes all around his brother, and Sam screams,
"Dean!" like that might help, then runs for his brother. Half-way there an invisible force stops him; he can't move forward another step. Dean is slumped against the broken cabinet now, his head lolling down against his shoulder, apparently unconscious. "Dean! Wake up, Dean. God, get out of my way!" Sam yells, and pushes against whatever is restraining him. It gives suddenly and without warning and the thick atmosphere that had been choking him, climbing down his throat, vanishes.
He falls to his knees next to Dean and cups his face, turns it up to examine; there's a fine trickle of blood dribbling down from the corner of Dean's lips, and there's tiny cuts from slivers of glass all over him. Sam knows it's time to leave; he has to get Dean back to their motel and clean out all of the shards of glass so none of them get infected.
"Dean," he whispers. His brother's eyelids flutter and then open slowly. Dean blinks, takes a breath, and winces.
"For fuck's sake," he murmurs as though winded, "I gotta stop getting thrown into walls. Man, that stings."
"C'mon, it's time to go," Sam says, trying to help Dean to his feet. "We can come back with Mrs. Dayton and try and figure out what's going on, but for right now, we gotta get you back and take care of—" Sam gestures and Dean winces again at the sight of the glass lodged in his hands.
When he gets Dean out of the wreckage of the cabinet, leaning heavily against him, Sam can see that most of the little glass animals are shattered. Except... all the little pigs, which are eerily still standing on their little legs, their black eyes sentient. Sam shivers and reaches for the door, yanks it open.
Sam would've preferred to get Dean out of the house as quickly as possible, but his brother is almost a dead-weight against him, and the house is freakin' huge.
It takes them fifteen minutes to get back outside to the Impala, and the sun is bright and welcome, chasing away the shadows in Sam's brain. He settles Dean, still a little woozy, in the passenger seat, then looks back up at that window.
A thin, wispy shadow wavers past the window and disappears.
Sam drives way over the speed limit away from that house—but not because he's afraid.
No, because he feels like it was speaking to him, welcoming him, asking him to stay. And that is what terrifies him.
Dean has glass everywhere: his forehead, down his chest, even inside his boots. Sam gets the tweezers from their first-aid kit and begins the painstaking process of removing each tiny glass sliver from Dean's skin.
His brother is sitting on the closed toilet lid—and Sam remembers this set-up from years ago, ages ago—and he's topless, his jeans slung low on his hips, his skin glittering in the harsh fluorescent light due to the glass embedded like diamonds in it.
Sam has a magnifying glass to go along with his tweezers, and each tiny piece of glass gets dumped into one of the complimentary paper cups that came with the room.
"Tell me if I hurt you," Sam says, but Dean doesn't respond; Sam knows that his brother won't say a word even if Sam manages to accidentally gouge out a chunk of flesh.
It takes almost three hours to get all the glass he can find, and when he's finished, Dean is bleeding from a thousand tiny breaks in his skin. Even though, Sam looks at all that naked skin and wishes that he were allowed to kiss the wounds—to taste Dean's blood as it mixes with the tang of his sweat and the slight flavour of his skin that Sam can't forget.
Sam stretches, his back aching from leaning over for so long, and he just drinks in the sight of Dean: even with the little pinpricks of blood, Dean is impossibly beautiful. He's got his flaws like everyone, and scars marked like words into his skin, but he still looks good enough to eat to Sam, who is surprised all over again that most of the negative feelings that used to belong with those lustful feelings are gone.
"Sammy," Dean whispers. He's talking quiet like if he raises his voice something bad will happen, and Sam is caught up in that same web, feeling like spun sugar surrounds them, the strands of connection easily snapped. And he does not want that to happen.
"I'm gonna get some alcohol pads," Sam says, voice curiously choked up. He gets to his feet and rolls his shoulders, his neck. But he can't quite take his eyes off Dean long enough to reach into the first-aid kit for the little pre-packaged alcohol pads.
Dean is staring back up at him with something wide open and almost wounded in his eyes. Like he's hurting inside, not from all of those little cuts, or the bruises scattered across his chest and shoulders. Something Sam can't—no, something Sam is afraid to read in his brother's eyes.
Michigan comes back in a rush, Dean's birthday, the drinks he should've left alone and the girl that never came back with them; the way he had Dean's skin under his tongue.
It's like a spectre: it won't retreat and nothing Sam does can banish it. He's left staring just as dumbfounded at Dean, struck all at once with the idea that maybe Dean is thinking of the same things, that Dean is remembering the way Sam felt on top of him.
Sam forcibly turns his head, the bones in his neck popping, and rummages for the alcohol pads. He doesn't look in Dean's eyes again, just cleanses each tiny wound and tries not to hear the hiss of Dean's breath in and out of his lungs as the rubbing alcohol stings.
He uses up every last one of the pads in their stash and knows that he's going to have to go out and replenish the supply, probably tomorrow, because evening is coming down on them quickly and Sam—well, Sam wants to put the TV on and try to pretend that Dean isn't sitting less than six inches away from him half-naked.
Unfortunately, his dick likes the idea of Dean being half-naked way too much: he's hard, almost fully, inside his jeans, and his cock rubs against the seam of his jeans with every tiny movement of his body.
"Sammy, look at me," Dean says softly, and he sounds vulnerable at the same time that the note of command rings through. Sam doesn't know how he managed that, but he meets Dean's eyes again. They're so green, so filled with something Sam is still terrified of. "C'mere," his brother says. "Kneel down."
Sam has never taken orders well, but he gets to his knees anyway, his face mere breaths away from Dean's. And then Dean reaches out with just one finger, and runs it along Sam's jaw. He's not commanding when he gently urges Sam to tilt his head, but Sam follows his lead anyway, paralysed by the feelings welling up inside him like blood.
Sam should've seen it coming, but yet he's still taken utterly by surprise when Dean kisses him. Dean's lips still taste faintly of blood from where Sam pulled glass out of them as well, but Dean doesn't complain that it hurts.
Sam keeps his eyes open, but Dean's are closed, and he can see miniscule freckles he didn't even know his brother had on his closed lids; he can count every pore, even the ones that are a little bit inflamed, the imperfections that no-one can see 'til you get up close—he sighs into the kiss and shuts his eyes.
Dean's tongue enters Sam's mouth, and he touches the tip of it to Sam's; Sam breathes through his nose, nostrils flaring, arousal flaring, and takes over, crushing their lips together, heedless of the injuries. He sucks at Dean's mouth, eats from it like it's the Tree of Knowledge and it can somehow save him, and then, just before he's going to pull away to look at Dean, to glance down and see if Dean's as turned on as he is, something happens and he—
—is standing in that grassy meadow with the yellow flowers again. There's a man standing there, looking confused, his eyes clear blue. Sam turns in a circle, slowly, looking for the yellow-eyed man, but there's just the two of them. When he glances back, the blue eyes have flipped to yellow, glowing and piercing.
"Seems like we're back here again, Sammy-boy," the man says. "Just like always, the two of us keep meeting up for trysts like lovers."
"I don't have any control over that," Sam says fiercely. "You think I want—you think Ilike this?" Even wrapped up in the sticky coating of the vision, Sam knows his head hurts.
"Oh, but you do," the man says. He smiles, poisonous and predatory. "Remember what happened back at that house?" He snaps his fingers and Sam opens his mouth to protest and says, loudly—
"I don't know what the fuck happened back there!" And then Sam claps a hand over his mouth and he's staring straight at Dean, the pain flooding out of his head, leaving him feeling drained. Dean's lips are puffy from their kiss. Sam feels his stomach roil unpleasantly, forebodingly.
"Sammy," Dean says. "Are you okay? Did I—God, I'm sorry, you can have a free shot at me if you like," Dean blathers, coming off the toilet seat and winding up half-sprawled across Sam's lap, touching his face as if he's searching for injuries. "Are you all right? What happened?"
"Just..." Sam pauses to collect himself. "Just another one of my episodes. Happens." He shakes his head. What did the yellow-eyed man mean? He could control them? He could stop them from occurring?
Sam searches Dean's eyes and finds only understanding. His brother's not running away, not taking a swing at him, not looking scandalised. In fact... Dean really does look like he enjoyed that kiss, in spite of the worry now crossing his features.
"He keeps saying I can have... I think he meant I could have you," Sam says slowly. "But that's stupid. Crazy."
"But you do have me," Dean says. Sam shifts uncomfortably.
"I mean, like..."
Dean sighs. "Sam, you can have that too, if you want. I don't know who the man is, but he's not an authority on Winchesters."
"Seems to think he knows an awful lot about me," Sam whispers.
Dean leans in and kisses him again, quickly, there and gone. "Doesn't know everything. Only I know everything about you, Sam."
"He's got... he's got yellow eyes," Sam confides at last. "Some type of monster. Keeps breaking into my consciousness and transporting me—not physically, obviously—somewhere else."
"I never heard of any creature with yellow eyes either," Dean says. "I'll have to check Dad's journal, see if he knew anything."
Sam cups his hand over the back of Dean's neck, feels the bristles of his short hair scratch his palm as he pulls Dean down again. A hairsbreadth away from his lips, Sam says,
"I should hate this," and kisses Dean. Dean kisses back, and it's not the shock Sam's expecting, nor does the sky come crashing down on top of them.
When they both come up for air, it feels like they've cleared the air. Sam feels a weight lift away from his chest, like he can take a full breath for the first time in months—and not because of his newly healed rib, either.
"We still have to solve this case," Dean says. "Let's break out the beer and relax for the rest of tonight, go see Mrs. Dayton again tomorrow. You need to use your super-special computer skills by then, Sammy. Tomorrow morning, though. Tonight is just... for us to get back in the right headspace. And Sam?"
Sam nods, looking expectantly at Dean.
"We'll figure out the other thing, I promise," Dean says. And Sam knows that a promise to Dean is an unbreakable vow. His brother won't let him down.
Dean goes out early the next morning to procure supplies for their rescue mission, which they have decided will take place around 2 p.m.
Sam's phone rings at exactly 11:02 a.m. and he picks it up, still intent on the laptop screen, and he hears the crackle of what could be a bad connection... but he knows it isn't.
He'd put the last ghostly phone call out of his mind, but he should have known better. Just because Jess hadn't called him back didn't mean she was gone, and he should have taken precautions. Even though Sam knows he took precautions anyway, obviously he didn't finish the job; he sighs and says,
"Sam," Jess whispers through the cellophane-crackling sound. "You know what you're doing is wrong. Have you forgotten me? Have you forgotten our—"
"No," Sam growls into the phone. "No, I haven't forgotten. If you knew me at all, you'd know I wouldn't forget—couldn't forget. Just leave me alone."
"I can still remember kissing you," she says wistfully. Sam can almost believe that he's really speaking to her, but he tempers himself with the reminder that she's dead, and that even if this communication is real, it's still inherently wrong.
"I know," Sam says at last, sadness burrowing into his chest. "I love you, Jess, but you have to move on. You have to."
"You know I can't, Sammy-boy," she says. Sam touches the phone with one finger where it rests against his face. He thinks of her beautiful face, of her vibrant personality, reduced to this: ashes and a spirit that is clinging to earth.
"Why," Sam asks desperately. "Why are you still here?"
"Because of you," she replies simply. "Because I love you. I'm watching you, Sam. Please—please remember me."
The crackle fades and the phone sits silent against Sam's ear. He puts it down on the table and stares at it, trying to make sense of things. She didn't really speak like a ghost—she was too coherent for that. Too adamant about saying things that she would know were hurtful; Sam slams the flat of his palm down against the table. Someone, something, is fucking with him.
If Jess loved him—and Sam knows she did—then she wouldn't go out of her way to hurt him.
Nevertheless, Sam gets up and goes to his duffle, finds the place at the bottom where the seam is carefully re-stitched, and rips out the threads. He always knew he shouldn't have kept them, knew that he was just hanging on to things that were gone forever, but at the last minute Sam couldn't bring himself to let them burn with the rest of their house.
Sam lifts out the slender gold band with the heart-shaped diamond, and the thicker gold band inscribed with Forever love on the inside. His wedding band, and her engagement ring. He looks at the gorgeous, perfectly-cut heart and feels one tear slide down his face.
He kisses the ring and lifts it up to the light, watches the way the colours spark and refract. And then he takes both of the rings and shoves them into his pocket. He's pretty sure that any hospital will have an incinerator.
But even as he contemplates burning away the last piece of Jess he still has, he thinks of Dean. Of how sweet it is to kiss Dean.
Of how much, how pathetically in love with his brother he is. His phone is still sitting, quiet, innocuous, on the table; Sam remembers Jess, but even though the grief is still there, it's faded, encased in glass and put away now. The way he feels about Dean has replaced some of the acuteness of the sadness he's felt about Jess in the past.
Sam closes his eyes and fingers the jewellery in his pocket, and as he does so, he hears the faint echo of the screaming. He hasn't heard it in awhile, and with everything that has been going on, he's almost managed to forget the pained sound of his children. Hell, maybe he wasn't cut out to be a father.
Because even though his poor kids are gone, he doesn't really think of them.
"It's not her," Dean says at once, when Sam tells him later about the two phone calls he got from his dead wife. Dean is pulling blue scrub pants up over his hips, tying the drawstring and then shrugging the v-neck shirt over his head.
Sam discovers his scrub pants are a little too short, and Dean grins ruefully when Sam starts yanking on socks to cover his bare ankles.
"All they had; sorry, little brother."
"It sure sounded like her," Sam says, flipping his hair out of his eyes and adjusting the shirt, which strains across his broad shoulders. "I took care of the records. Everything should be in order to just go in and bring her out. Dean, I hate this idea. Whatever's in that house tried to hurt you. Probably tried to kill you, and I know it wants to kill Patricia. We shouldn't bring her back there."
"We have to find out what it wants, what it is, so we can deal with it," Dean says reasonably. "We will be there with her, to protect her, Sammy."
"She did say some odd things," Sam muses. "I don't know what to think about it. I'll figure something out. C'mon, Dean, it's almost time to go."
"You can't blame yourself," Dean says. "And you're right. You got everything you need?"
Sam nods. "Let's go impersonate orderlies and break someone out of the psych ward," he says, and grins. Somehow, the idea of that cheers him up.
"You're kidding," Mrs. Dayton says when they walk into the room dressed like the rest of the staff. "You're crazy, both of you."
"We know there's something in your house," Sam says gently. "You are absolutely not crazy, and you don't belong here."
"This is kind of what we do," Dean adds, as he helps her into the wheelchair he stole from the nurse's station. "We, uh, take care of things like this. We're gonna do what needs to be done to make your home safe, so you can stay there."
"All right," Sam says in an undertone. "Quiet, now, Dean," he says as they start to wheel her down the hall. Her sack of belongings are hanging from Sam's elbow.
The walls along the hall are cheerful, painted yellow with pretty sprigs of flowers bordering the top. Dean pushes the wheelchair and Sam pretends to flip through a folder full of blank pages they're using to represent her 'chart'.
"I don't want to go back there," she says softly. She's trembling a little, her knees shaking beneath the white blanket across her lap.
"I'm sorry for that," Dean says, "really. I'm sorry."
The escape goes off without a hitch, and they carefully settle her into the backseat of the Impala.
Just before they drive away, Dean pulls out Dad's journal and hands it to Sam. "See if there's anything of use in there on the drive over."
Sam opens the journal and starts trying to decipher the lines of writing that could just as easily be the prints of dancing monkeys, for all he can read it.
But something catches his eye: Demons will often leave behind a sulphuric residue; it is best when attempting to identify a demon to look for such a residue. Dealing with demons, as well, works with a Devil's Trap and an exorcism.
He looks out the window and thinks about what they saw at the house. Could John be right—could demons exist?
Sam remembers hours upon hours of Latin lessons with Pastor Jim, and he knows that he was taught to pronounce Latin properly—to understand it—for a reason, but he didn't realise that this is what it was for, until he finds the exorcism, all in Latin.
"I hope this is not a demon," Sam hisses under his breath at Dean, leaning in impossibly close. He has to stall himself from kissing the tender side of Dean's neck.
"If it is, we'll still be ready," Dean says. "I know I said I didn't know if they existed, but after our last trip to this house, I think I'm ready to be convinced."
Right then, Dean's cell phone rings. Dean fumbles it out of his pocket and tosses it to Sam, and Sam flips it open and says,
"Sam? Sammy, is that you?" John says on the other line, and Sam feels every organ in his body grow heavy and sink down into his feet.
"Yeah, it is, Dad," Sam says in resignation.
"You be careful," John says. "I know what you're doing, and it's dangerous, Sam. It's especially dangerous for you. You shouldn't—shouldn't do this. Sit this one out, Sam; let Dean take care of it."
"No," Sam says vehemently. "No way. I am not gonna let Dean go in there by himself."
"Don't ignore my warnings," John says, his most terse, authoritative voice in evidence. "You should remember the last time that you—"
"Good-bye, Dad," Sam says, and hangs up. Dean cuts him a quick, inquisitive glance, but he doesn't complain that Sam basically hung up on their father. Sam can tell, just from the way the muscle ticks in Dean's jaw, that he still struggles with his rebellion against their father, but that he was telling the truth when he said, long ago, that he had chosen Sam's side. That he had decided to go against John's orders when necessary.
"We're here," Dean says. "Time to get this show on the road."
The creepy wallpaper is just as creepy as when they left, still shimmering with the illusion—or not an illusion, terrifying prospect that that is—of movement; in the corner, behind the door, the china cabinet is in pristine condition. Sam doesn't even know how that can be possible, but he takes a deep breath and holds Patricia's elbow as she walks into the room, sits down on the sofa.
"Were you having problems with your husband?" Dean asks suddenly, without any sort of lead-in whatsoever.
"What?" she says. "No! But he's gone all the time and it gets lonely, feels wrong in that big bed without him, so I'd come in here. This is supposed to be my room, my sanctuary. I don't—I don't even know what happened, just that it's—it makes my skin crawl just to be in here."
Sam lines the doorway with salt to keep whatever it is in this one room with them, to trap it as it were. He loads up his shotgun, too, and then tosses Dean's to him.
Dean's got holy water in one hand, and the sawed-off in the other, and Sam's standing, still, just watching the way the wallpaper creeps, like there's something—someone moving behind it.
And then, even though the hair is standing up on the back of his neck because his back is to the curio cabinet, he forgets everything but Mrs. Dayton because that thin wispy shadow appears quite abruptly in front of them, then pours down her throat. Sam jumps, starts forward; Dean grabs his hand.
"Oh, shit," Dean says. "Didn't see that coming."
Sam can feel sweat seep through the underarms of his scrubs shirt, trickle down his spine. "Dean," he murmurs. He drops to one knee and pulls John's journal out of the duffle by his feet.
"It's so nice to finally meet you, Sam Winchester," says Patricia Dayton; or rather, what is now inside of Patricia Dayton.
"Okay, yeah, yup," Dean says. "Demons? Definitely real. Don't know of anything else that can possess a person."
Sam is still staring, mouth open, shell-shocked, at the woman on the sofa. Her eyes go slippery black, the void filling in every inch of her eyes.
"I don't—" he starts.
"Don't you know? Didn't daddy tell you?" it says, voice holding a sibilant quality. It bares its teeth in what might be a smile. Sam doesn't feel endangered, but he can feel the adrenaline as it ramps up inside his body.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Sam says, almost drawn to converse with the thing inside her body.
"Sam!" Dean says. He grabs Sam's shoulder. "Don't talk to it, get the fucking—"
"Oh, I wouldn't," the thing says. The demon. "Not if you fancy your skin, Dean-o."
Sam reaches for Dean, but something—the same force as before—propels Dean hard into the wall. Sam cries out in shock. Dean slides up the wall, held suspended there.
Sam puts out his hand as though he can do something, and shock reels through him again when Dean just as easily drops gently back to his feet. Sam looks at his hand.
"Oh, baby!" the demon says, gleeful. "You have got the stuff daddy promised you'd have! Oh, this is delicious."
Sam can feel his heart pumping, like a frantic child locked in a closet, banging on the door. "Fuck you," he says.
"From what I hear—" the demon starts, and Sam just knows it's going to say something about Sam and Dean and their new relationship, so he puts his hand out again and snarls,
Just like that, the demon goes silent, but it radiates menace from Patricia's eyes, now back to their regular colour.
Dean is staring at Sam like he can't believe what he's seeing, but calculating, like it's not as much of a surprise as one might expect.
"You," Sam says. "Get out of her, and go back to hell." He lifts up the journal to read from the exorcism, but the smoke flies from her mouth, curls and rises into the air, then turns the colour of fire and vanishes.
All at once the atmosphere settles to a clear, non-threatening weight, the hint of violence and the darkness of a malevolent presence gone.
Sam looks at Dean.
Dean touches the back of his head, like he bumped it pretty hard, then nods at Sam.
They make conciliatory remarks and gestures to Mrs. Dayton, and she thanks them profusely, aware as much as they are of the lack of whatever dangerous presence used to be there.
The marks on her arms are gone.
And in a matter of less than twenty minutes, Sam and Dean are gone too.
They don't talk about what happened in that house. Not at first. Mostly because as soon as Sam and Dean get back to the motel room, Sam's on Dean like a starving man who's just spied his first meal in weeks. The adrenaline that he still feels, the exotic high after a hunt—something he'd forgotten about, how addicting it could be—rushes through him, and from Dean's response, the light in his eyes, Dean feels it too. He grabs Dean by the scrub shirt and slams him back against the wooden panelled door of the room, searing their lips together, grinding his dick through the very thin fabric of his scrub pants against Dean's equally interested cock.
Dean doesn't complain about the back of his head, even though Sam knows he pushed him pretty hard.
Dean's mouth tastes like cedar and oranges, and it's exotic and intoxicating. Sam bites at Dean's lips, sips at his mouth like Dean's a fine wine that Sam can't get enough of, reaches down between them and cups underneath Dean's cock. His brother is already partway there, but with Sam's hand against him through the material of his scrub pants Dean hardens up fast. Sam rolls Dean's balls in his hand and then strokes up the length of his shaft, feeling the heat and weight of Dean's dick in his palm; all the while, he's still making out with Dean, hot and heavy and everything he never knew he wanted.
There's something about what Dean is wearing that turns Sam on even more; he rips the bow out of the tie in the pants and they droop down off Dean's hips. Sam shoves his hand inside, gets his fingers wrapped around silky hot flesh, and it's like something sparks to life in his brain—a sense memory of Dean's cock in his hands once before, and he strokes lightly at first, quick and fast but barely-there touches, and Dean gasps and pants into Sam's mouth, breath humid against Sam's face.
His own dick aches so much for friction that he winds up grinding up against his own hand and Dean's cock at once, feeling the way his caresses over Dean stimulate his own nerves.
The fire of arousal races along each nerve in his dick and he catches his breath in his throat, slips his mouth away from Dean's and touches Dean's cheekbone with his free hand, watching Dean's eyes flutter open, the green consumed by the wide dark of his pupils.
Everything stops; time, space, movement, breath. They stare into each other's eyes, and Sam knows that they are both swallowed up by the words written there. Words that will never be spoken, but Sam can feel his heart beating in his chest with the echo of Dean's just behind it, the knowledge that Dean shares this, that Dean knows now how Sam feels and that Dean feels the same way.
Everything comes rushing back at once in a whirl of noise and sensation and when Sam speaks, Dean's lips rub against his.
"The bed," he says, his breath jagged in his lungs. "This would be easier on a bed." He rips Dean's shirt over his head between frenzied, hungry kisses.
Dean nods, and without taking their hands off of each other they stumble over to the bed, where Sam kicks Dean's legs apart and then curves his palm around the back of Dean's head before lowering him, far more carefully and with more patience than he thought he had, to the mattress.
He yanks the scrub pants down over Dean's hips, down his legs, and tugs them, wrinkled and smushed up, over Dean's feet. He unties Dean's soft orthopedic shoes and drops them to the floor, then pushes Dean's knees up on the bed, exposing the tiny little puckered hole that Sam recognises and remembers from his time with Jess.
It's because of her that he has any idea what he's doing as he urges Dean's thighs even wider apart, and he suspects it's because of Dean's liaisons with men that Dean has any idea what to do, as his brother takes a deep breath and uses it to relax every muscle in his body, going pliant and soft on the bed.
"Don't move," he orders, and just before he gets back to his feet Dean opens his eyes, looking slightly lost yet aroused beyond belief.
"Side pocket of my duffle," he says hoarsely, throat thickened and roughened by his arousal.
Sam doesn't want to leave Dean for a moment, doesn't want to stop touching every conceivable inch of that bared skin, but he knows this can't go any farther without lube, so he hurries over to the duffle on the floor next to the bed and scrounges around inside the pocket—breath mints, two spare bullets, a button, and three tubes of lipstick—until he finds the little clear bottle of lube.
He tosses it onto the bed next to Dean and climbs onto the mattress next to him, swings one leg over and kneels above Dean, kissing him breathless again.
Sam puts one hand on each shoulder and just hangs on for awhile, enjoying the feel and taste of Dean's mouth, the soft way his lips give under Sam's, the way Dean's plump lower lip fits perfectly between his teeth.
He takes a few moments to learn Dean's mouth in every possible way before mouthing down along Dean's jaw, stubble scraping across his lips, then down to the side of his neck. Dean arches his head the other way, neck stretching beautifully, and Sam sucks at the juncture of his shoulder, sinks his teeth into Dean's skin and leaves behind a dark swelling of blood with the prints of his teeth in it.
Dean's breath is short, erratic, as Sam moves down his body, laving scars with his tongue and realising he finds them damn sexy; kissing around each nipple in turn and then rolling them between his lips, dragging his teeth against them, and Dean shudders. Sam lowers himself down carefully so as not to crush Dean, and when Dean's dick slides up against Sam's scrub pants it leaves a streak of wetness on the fabric and then up over the waistband onto Sam's belly.
The feel of Dean's cock against his own sends a thrill of lightning up and down his spine. Sam rubs against Dean, little circles of his hips, driving their cocks together, cradled perfectly between Dean's thighs.
Sam can barely stand to part from Dean long enough to push, one-handed, his pants down over his thighs. He did something daring this time and didn't wear underwear, so his cock slaps flat against his belly with a wet sound, and then he manages to shuck them off, nudging one knee in-between Dean's thighs again to open him up further. Dean's hands rove over Sam's body, up under the thin blue shirt, and Dean toys with Sam's nipples as Sam slicks their cocks together again, this time almost blinded by the pleasure of naked flesh to naked flesh.
Sam's hair is falling sweaty into his eyes, and Dean uses one hand to swipe it away from Sam's forehead.
"Wanna see your eyes," Dean says throatily. "Wanna see your pleasure, Sammy."
Sam gasps, dick twitching hard with those words, and feels their pre-come smear together. Feels their skin slide together, the veins on Dean's dick rubbing against Sam's own.
"I'm gonna fuck you, Dean," Sam says. "So hard. Want to fuck you so bad."
"Do it," Dean says breathlessly, spine bowing off the bed as their dicks glide together, easy as pie with their pre-come slicking them up. "Want you to do it." Dean reaches down and grabs underneath one thigh, lifts it up and drops his leg over Sam's shoulder. The perspiration at the back of Dean's knee dampens the fabric at the shoulder of Sam's shirt.
Sam bites his own lips until they sting, swollen, and fumbles for the lube, getting it all over his fingers, Dean's belly, and the bed underneath Dean as he slips his fingers in between their bodies to find that puckered secret place on Dean's body.
His fingers push past the resistance far more easily than he expects; he gets two fingers into Dean and starts fucking them in and out and Dean makes a thready, strangled noise and arches his back again.
Dean's leg almost slides from Sam's shoulder, but Sam grabs it and holds it in place with one hand as he keeps moving his fingers in and out of Dean with the other. Inside of Dean is satiny and smooth; it feels rich like expensive fabric, only sweltering hot and throbbing, alive.
Sam works another finger inside Dean, and Dean grunts, muscles going taut in his thighs, and Sam pauses, as if to give Dean time to adjust, and instead Dean grinds down onto Sam's fingers, cramming them deeper inside with his movement.
Sam turns his head and bites Dean's juicy thigh, right next to his lips, and feels Dean spasm around his fingers. He pulls them free with a wet, sucking sound and then wipes leftover lube onto his dick; he pours more out of the bottle and works himself up, dick slippery, and then angles his cock so that it bumps up against Dean's hole.
He keeps his mouth fastened on Dean's thigh, his breath making the skin damp, and takes a moment to relax himself before he wraps his fingers in a tight circle around his dick and begins to ease it into Dean.
Sam's big, but the muscle is elastic and stretches to accommodate him; he knows he did a good job preparing Dean as his cock slowly slips into the sheath of Dean's body.
And then Dean's fingernails dig like claws into Sam's side, and his brother pants,
"Faster, Sam. Fuck me faster—don't be shy, don't worry about hurting me; you won't." He can barely get the words through his constricted throat, but Sam doesn't really need to hear them to understand; he drives the last several inches of his dick into Dean and comes to a rest with his balls snug into the space between Dean's ass-cheeks.
Dean bucks his hips up and Sam sinks in even deeper, encased thrillingly tight within Dean's body, his cock twitching and pulsing with his heart beat. His balls feel swollen and tender and Sam starts to move, loves the way the silk of Dean's inner walls moves with him and against him; inside of Dean is throbbing just as hard as Sam's cock.
He bites down on the corner of his lower lip and starts fucking in and out of Dean, fast and wild, the rhythm frenetic and almost panicked. His cock fills Dean up and then Sam just rocks his hips for a moment, moving their bodies together, learning the way Dean feels in every possible way, before dipping his head down, sweat thick at his temples, and kisses Dean.
Sam mimics what he's doing with his dick with his tongue in Dean's mouth, thrusting in and out, licking at Dean's lips, making their mouths wet and slick even as the lube paves the way for Sam's cock in Dean's ass.
Dean's grunting in time with every thrust, the sounds filling up Sam's mouth, and Sam can't even hear himself over the pounding of his heart, the throb and twist and ache in his dick and balls as he fucks into Dean over and over again.
Dean's leg drops from Sam's shoulder and the new position squeezes Sam's dick even tighter into Dean's body; Sam encircles Dean's cock with one hand and starts jerking him off, fast and in time with his thrusts, as he climbs ever closer to the peak of the mountain, staring over the side and ready to fall, freewheeling and pleasured to the bottom.
He sucks in a breath and manages one last, thick, pistoning thrust before his balls go achingly tight and his cock spasms and shoots off inside of Dean.
Dean makes a noise that Sam has never heard before and his head turns away from Sam, his body wracked with spasms of its own, the tendons standing out on his neck and Sam latches onto the flesh there, burns another bruise into his skin with his lips as Dean splatters Sam's belly and hand with his come.
Sam pulls out reluctantly, carefully, and collapses to the bed next to Dean.
Which is, of course, when Dean decides to let Sam in on the secret that pillow-talk, for Dean, equals shop-talk.
"So what happened back there, Sammy?" Dean asks, and Sam flattens his palm over Dean's heart, feels it fluttering rapidly against his ribs. Dean's still breathing fast.
"Telekinesis, I think," Sam says nonchalantly. He waits for the inevitable explosion, but it never comes.
He pauses to amuse himself with the double entendres in that thought, then cracks an eye open and peeks at Dean.
"You—" Dean stops. "Yeah, I shoulda known."
"You knew about this? That I could—I might—"
"Not exactly. Dad just said you'd be able to do things most people couldn't do." Dean sighs. "I don't wanna argue, though I am sure that's where this is going, but Dad did say there were others like you."
"Dead now," Sam says. "I saw it happen in those visions." Apparently sex with his brother makes him relaxed enough that it relaxes his tongue, too.
"Yeah, I saw the news articles," Dean says. "But you... you sent that demon back to hell."
Sam rolls onto his side, ready to try and come up with an explanation, and then—
—Sam is standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down. He closes his eyes and spreads his arms and takes one final step off the side. Instead of feeling like he's falling, he feels like he's flying, and as he speeds towards what is most likely his death, he sees Jess at the wheel of her car, her eyes perfectly in Sam's view, her lips turned in an expression of fear even as her eyes fill with poisonous yellow.
And it all suddenly makes sense. Frightening, terrifying, repulsive sense.
Jess wasn't depressed or crazy or not in love with him any more. Jess waspossessed. Sam remembers what the yellow-eyed man said, about how he could control things, and forces himself back out of the vision and—
—into Dean's arms. He blinks and says, a tear tracking down his cheek,
"She died because of me." He knows it with complete certainty. He remembers the smudge of her fingerprint on the bottle of liquor. "She drank that liquor because she was possessed by a demon. I should have realised—"
"There was no way you could have known," Dean says, one hand stroking up and down Sam's spine through his sweat-soaked scrub shirt.
"But you warned me and I didn't listen." Sam can feel his heart breaking all over again, right up until Dean kisses him. And the pain fades into a blissful nothingness. Dean smothered it, put it out like a fire with no more oxygen to burn.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, either," Dean says against Sam's mouth. "Sammy, please don't torture yourself with this. Please."
Sam meets Dean's eyes. His brother looks apologetic and worried. Sam swallows a sigh and leans closer to Dean.
"That yellow-eyed man. He's some kind of demon, I'm sure of it now. It's the only thing that makes sense. But what I don't know is why he would want my family dead. What he wants me for."
"We'll figure it out, Sammy. We will. Together."
Sam runs his hand over the blanket on the bed behind Dean, then up over one smoothly muscled shoulder, marred by a thick scar.
"I don't think it was her."
"If there's a demon gunning for you," Dean agrees, "then he'd probably mess with you however he could."
"I almost—I don't want to burn her ring. I guess I don't have to, now."
Dean tightens his hold on Sam, as if he doesn't care that Sam is wet and rank with perspiration or covered in Dean's come.
"We need to put the past to rest," Dean says into Sam's hair. He kisses the side of Sam's neck.
Sam pulls out of Dean's arms, tilts Dean's chin so that Dean's eyes match up with his exactly.
"That means going back to the beginning," he says. "Back to Palo Alto. To Jess's grave."