Dean glanced back to see if Sam was following the conversation and was stunned to find his brother faintly glowing. He blinked. "Uh, Abby? Should he be glowing like that?"
"What?" Abby looked at Sam in the rear view mirror. "Well, wow," she said. "He's figured out how to use the crystals." They stopped at another light. "You guys are really something. You shouldn't be able to see it and he shouldn't be able to do it, not without an ounce of training."
"Ah, damn!" Dean rubbed hard at the middle of his forehead. "Is this gonna to happen a lot?"
"Don't worry about it. It's probably your connection to Sam that opens you up. You haven't noticed anybody else glowing have you?"
Dean thought for a moment. No, thank God. Only Sam. He shook his head.
"This could be useful." Abby leaned toward him and whispered. "Sam can be less than forthcoming about what's going on with him, ya know?"
"I heard that." Sam's voice floated dreamily from the back seat.
"Hey Buddha, we're almost there," Dean said. As Sam broke his concentration and dropped the crystals from his hand the glow faded. Dean noticed the grimace. "It's back isn't it?"
"Yeah. The second I stop concentrating."
"The crystals are still helping though, right?"
"Oh yeah. It's manageable. But hey, don't be turning your evil eye on me! It's bad enough you watching me every second without…"
"Hey, you think I want to see you go radioactive?"
"Come on guys, we're here," Abby said. She parked the car at the curb. "Sam, he really can't help it. You'll just have to get used to it. And one more thing, the crystals shield you psychically. They won't stop bullets so don't let your guard down." She turned sternly to Dean. "You either."
"Okay, Mom." Dean grinned at her and was pleased to see her cheeks flush.
"Ohhh, just get out of my car, we're wasting time."
Sam followed Abby and Dean up the sidewalk fingering the crystals, trying to figure out how to concentrate on them and walk at the same time.
Dean looked around. Big, old homes lined the street, their small front yards crowded with generous front porches and huge trees. The sidewalks bore the scrapes and gouges of many passes of snow blowers. He pushed his hands deeper into his pockets and shrugged his leather jacket higher. Though the sun was warm on his skin, the breeze that found its way into cuffs and collar had a nasty bite.
When they neared the University of Colorado campus, the sidewalk grew more crowded. Dean eye’d the kids, preppy types in hiking boots, worried about nothing but midterms and pimples, oblivious to things that go bump in the night. Backpacks bulging, they all seemed to be in a hurry; off to class or keggers; whatever college kids did all day.
It was lunch time and despite the chill, plenty of them were out in sunny patches on the lawn grabbing a bite, books open on the ground. Dean felt a familiar pang of regret for his little brother. It was a conflict he'd struggled with ever since Sam left for Stanford. His brother had never wanted the hunter’s life. Sammy and Dad had butted heads about the training, the discipline and the sacrifices as long as Dean could remember.
Sam still had his eyes fixed firmly on the ground, a look of determined concentration on his face. Dean touched Abby's elbow. "We need to grab some food.” He nodded toward Sam.
"Good idea. You hungry Sam?"
Sam looked as if he'd just woken up. "Ah no, not really."
"Come on Sam, you've got to eat something. This may be our last chance to fuel up before things get cookin'." Dean swung around looking for a food source.
Abby pulled him to their right. "This way; the student union is decent. We can grab sandwiches."
They squeezed through the front doors jostling past a girl in a Cat Woman costume; the old one from the TV show. Dean turned and watched her walk away swaying her long black tail. She'd have been disappointed if she'd seen his scowling face.
Halloween had never been an opportunity to extort candy from the neighbors for the Winchester boys. In their household it usually meant a long night with Dad out hunting and Dean nervously guarding his baby brother, tensing every time trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell. When they'd gotten older they'd tried to get into the spirit, but it was like playing soldier after you'd been to war; just not fun anymore.
Skeletons and Jack-o-lanterns festooned the walls inside. Hand painted signs advertised a smorgasbord of costume parties and haunted houses.
"I hate Halloween," Dean grumbled. Abby gave him a sympathetic look, cocked her head at a young woman behind them in a ragged black robe, frightening wig, green face paint that included a false nose complete with hairy wart.
Dean whispered, "You want me to throw a bucket of water on her? See if she melts?"
A slow grin spread across Abby's face. "You would wouldn't you?"
"Hey, it's what I do."
She considered his offer, then shrugged. "Nah, she's just ignorant. She believes what movies and fairy tales tell her about witches."
"Up until a couple of days ago, I was right there with her."
"Not any more?"
They were close. He reached up and stroked her cheek with the tips of his fingers. "God, no," he murmured. For a few precious seconds they were the only two people in the room, the din of conversations, clattering silverware and bustle of hundreds of bodies in a hurry faded into the background. Their world spiraled down to the electric contact of cheek and fingertips. Then a student in a…student costume bumped Abby's shoulder. The moment passed.
Abby pursed her lips and murmured words too low for Dean to hear. The student stumbled, a cup of soda toppled on his tray. Abby turned guiltily away as the boy looked back trying to figure out what he'd tripped over.
The three of them made their way outside again protectively clutching food and drinks against their chests. Abby had a foot-long salad on a bun. Dean checked Sam.
"That all you gonna eat?"
Sam glanced at the apple in his hands. To be honest, he wasn't sure he could get even that down. The pendants helped with the nausea, but they hadn't brought his appetite back. "Yeah, this is it. Hey, it's probably better for me than whatever you've got dripping down your shirt."
Dean jerked his sandwich out in front of him and, sure enough, the blue shirt he'd put on this morning now had a line of dark red tomato sauce running down it's center like blood from stab wound. "Ah crap!"
"Come on. I've got extra napkins," Abby said helpfully. "And a handy little repel spell I've been working on that might get rid of that stain."
They found a sunny spot in the grass. Sam forced himself to take a bite of apple. It tasted like wax in his mouth, but he was duty bound to keep chewing or face Dean's badgering. With his drink in one hand and sandwich in the other Dean had his arms outstretched as Abby dabbed at the tomato stains on his chest with a wad of paper napkins and quietly spoke her spell trying not to attract the attention of fellow picnickers. They were both smiling and close enough to murmur comments back and forth in voices too intimately soft for Sam to catch the words.
He looked away, a wistful smile on his lips. Sam remembered those moments. It was odd to watch his brother in one. He'd seen Dean with a lot of women. His brother had always kept his guard up until now. Abby seemed to effortlessly slip under it.
Sam closed his eyes and turned his face up to the sun, it felt good, clean against his skin. He slowly relaxed and reached for the pendants around his neck letting his mind drift. Memories of Jess floated like bubbles rising to the surface of a quiet pool. Vivid, sensual snapshots burst and slipped away; her laugh, her face in concentration bent over a text book, the scent of her breath just after a kiss.
Had it been two months? Most times he struggled to bring back the details of her face, the feel of her body under his hands. Her physical presence in his mind was fading like a watercolor painting left out in the rain, battered slowly into a swirling wash of color and emotion. But other times, like now, he could close his eyes and breathe in the scent of her. He craved these memories and opened himself to them, allowing her presence to fill him.
Abruptly, the moment shifted. A chill sent goose flesh tingling up his arms.
Jess was beside him on the grass.
Sam felt the brush of her long blond hair as she leaned toward him. He felt the feather touch of her lips against his ear as she whispered… urgently.
Sam drew in a shallow gasp, equal measures of desire and horror flooding his system. Her voice wouldn't coalesce into words. He forced himself still; strained to listen past the hammering of his heart. Focus!
Dean…. His brother's name stood out in her whispered rush. Dean… Again. Frustration threatened to shatter his concentration. What about Dean? Then, …Vetis Garanth Izar … With these words the warm touch of her breath turned to ice. The demon's name entered his brain like a shard of glass. And she was gone.
A moan of pain and newly rent grief pressed up out of his chest. He found himself still sitting on the grass, flanked closely by Abby and Dean, the crystal pendants clutched tightly in his fist. Her loss was so raw again that he knew the wound must be visible; there must me a gaping hole in his chest. Judging by the look on Dean's face, his brother could see it.
"You were glowing again," Dean said, his voice strained. He glanced over his shoulder to see that the nearest group of students sharing the grass was paying them no mind.
Abby squeezed Sam's shoulder. "Something happened."
Sam nodded, not yet trusting his voice. He reached toward his Coke can on the ground. His hands were shaking too badly to pick it up. Dean handed it to him, making sure he had a good grip before he let go. Sam wished it was hot coffee, anything warm, but took a gulp anyway.
"Sam?" Dean said.
"Jess… was here. She spoke to me."
"What do you mean she spoke to you?"
"Spoke! Talked! She sat right here!" Sam glared at his brother, daring him to doubt his word.
"Okay, okay." Dean shook his head. "This is just…this is just…Ahhhhg!" One more damn thing! Dean flopped down onto the grass. "What did she talk about?"
"You,” Sam said, exhaustion filling him as the adrenalin seeped away. "You and the demon. Abby, I think she gave me its full name."
It was Abby's turn to flop onto the grass. "Sam, are you sure that it was really Jessica, not more of the daymare?"
"I'm sure!" He'd felt none of that sickening taint until she'd said the name.
Dean pushed his brother's hand up and Sam took another gulp of Coke.
"I couldn't understand most of what she said. It wasn't that I couldn't hear; she was so close I could feel her lips…" Sam stopped, swallowed. "Most of her words were just sounds, no meaning." He looked at Dean. "Except for your name. She said it twice. It was a warning."
"A warning about what?" Dean asked. "Things are gettin' dangerous. We already know that. Heck, Sam, maybe she just wanted to say hello."
"It must have been the crystals." Abby spoke half to herself. "They guided her to you. It's Halloween. The veil is thinnest today of all days of the year.” One hand moved to squeeze Sam's forearm. "The garnet boosted your gifts enough that you could see and hear her too.” She gave his shoulder an excited squeeze. Her bag was behind her. Abby dug around in it till she came out with a pencil and small spiral notebook which she handed to him. "Sam, knowing the demon's full name could be a powerful tool for us, but it's also extremely dangerous. I don't like you even having it in your mind."
Sam pressed his hand against his right ear; it still felt cold. He didn't like having it in there either.
"I want you to write it down for me, but I never, never want you to say it out loud. Got it?"
"Yeah, got it." Sam took the pencil and notebook from her hand and wrote the demon's name onto a blank page. He imagined he was emptying the greasy feel of it down through his hand and out the pencil as he wrote. It helped a little.
Abby took the notebook back and tucked it into her bag. "Come on guys. We still have a lot of work to do."
Sam didn't protest when Dean grabbed his hand and hauled him to his feet.
"The Master chose us! You and I, Brother!"
"He bid us call the lure in the language of the light. Do you remember it, Sister?"
"Yessssss, of course, of course I do; from wasted years in the first coven. I remember the language of rules… Don't try that…Don't hurt this…Don't touch greatness…Don't! Don't! Don't! No! No! No!"
"Now we know THE TRUTH, Sister. We know the roiling, indomitable mass of the dark."
"The lure evades us. It won't listen, brother."
"We must speak the language it will hear."
"Yes, do you remember?"
"We'll call with pine-bough voices…"
"Speak with burbling snow-melt tongues…"
"Whisper with sun-warmed, wild flower breath…"
"With mountain trail, and open sky, bird song, brook song, creaking pine…ahhhh!"
"Weep, brother. Send your longing too. Set the hook with desperate yearning for the light. It will emerge from its hole."
"And the dark will take it, Sister."