There wasn't any time for Sam to react. Not enough time to shout at his Dad to leave Jess alone, not enough time to run forward and cover Jess with his own body, not enough time to get out of Dean's firm grip on his arm. It happened within seconds but time seemed to have slowed down for Sam.
He saw his Dad's face twice into a hateful snarl as he looked back down at Jess, saw his Dad bring his leg back and up, saw Jess's wide eyes as she tried to protect herself.
Just as John brought his leg forward, Dean pushed Sam back until Sam was stumbling into the living room behind him. He heard the thump of a foot hitting a stomach - (heard it enough times to recognize the sound.) -, heard Jess cry out once again - (heard that sound enough times, too. Different places, different women, but they all made the same sound.) -, saw her curl into a tight ball. Couldn't do a damn thing about it though, not with Dean pushing him into the armchair and forcing him to stay sitting.
"Dean, please." He felt his lips move, felt them form the words, but didn't hear it. All he heard was the echo of Jess's pain; the pain that was being caused by his own family - his own Father. Heart pounding against his chest because he knew that there was much more to come.
His eyes darted between Jess and Dean, as his brother crouched down infront of him, his face blank but his eyes stern. He locked eyes with Dean when his brother spoke.
"You will sit there and you will not move. Is that understood?" Dean's voice was hard as he spoke the words slowly and clearly, making sure Sam didn't misunderstand a word of it.
Sam's eyes moved back to John and Jess, tensing up when he saw his Dad's hand twisted in Jess's hair, his own eyes tearing up when Jess looked at him with pain written all over her face.
His head whipped back towards his brother as he jumped with fright at the shout of his name.
Dean glared at him as he pointed his finger at Sam's chest. "You move from there, Kid, and I will personally strip the skin off her bones." Sam flinched but Dean carried on, too angry to care. "I mean it, Sam. You've pissed me off enough tonight; don't push it! You stay here and you don't move, you got me?"
Sam quickly nodded, pushing himself back into the chair, trying to move away from his older brother. Dean glared at him for another moment before he stood abruptly and stomped away up the stairs, not even sparing a glance at Jess who flinched as he walked past her.
Sam watched as John pulled Jess up off the floor by her hair, wanting desperately to jump up and do something to help her. His entire body was tensed with the effort to keep himself sitting down. Dean's never made an empty threat in his life, and this is one threat Sam doesn't wanna test; so he sits there and doesn't move, clenches his teeth until he has a slight headache and prays.
He prays for Jess's forgiveness, prays for someone to help, prays for the strength to get through this, prays for guidance and patience and courage...
Prays for Jess's life.
'Please. Keep her safe. Keep her alive. Watch over her. Protect her. Please.'
Watching John drag Jess to the opposite armchair, Sam prays for his prayers to be answered.
As soon as Jess is thrown into the chair, John spins around and marches back into the hall, only to stop and stand there. He closes his eyes and takes a couple of deep breaths, trying to control his anger. He would never speak to his kids when he's this angry; refuses to speak before thinking, refuses to say something he'll later regret and could never really apologize for, refuses to give his kids the memories of words that should never be spoken. So he calms himself down as best he can - clenches his fist and squeezes his eyes shut while he pictures Jess's dead body infront of him. It does the trick and he calms down enough to turn around and walk back into the living room.
He stood infront of his youngest with his hands on his hips.
"You'll never learn, will ya, Kiddo?" He said softly. His voice didn't hold the slightest bit of anger, but his hands tightened on his hips until he felt his blunt nails digging into his skin.
Sam said nothing, continuing to hold onto the arms of the chair to help himself stay seated. John shook his head in disappointment and looked at his youngest sadly.
"You always had to do things the hard way." John whispered. He gave a small fond smile as he continued. "Even when you were little. You were never satisfied with being told that the stove was hot; you had to find it out for yourself."
Sam kept his eyes on the floor, his vision going blurry as he remembered. His Dad had constantly told him to stay away from the cooker - "It's hot, Champ, you'll get burned." - and Dean had kept pushing him away from it - "No, Sammy, listen to Dad and stay out of the kitchen." - but even at the age of five Sam wasn't good at just listening. He had needed to know for himself; snuck away for five minutes while Dad had been getting Dean's comic book from under the bed and Dean had been in the bathroom. Not only did he end up with a burnt finger, but he had spent five minutes on his Dad's knee while John lectured him on doing as he was told - at the same time as kissing his finger better - and then spent the next few days being supervised in everything he did.
His body twitched when he heard Dean's footsteps on the stairs, but he still didn't lift his head.
John glanced at his oldest before looking back at Sam. "Well, Kiddo." He sighed. "You're about to find out how hot it can get."
Sam glanced up and watched his Dad walk back towards the couch to sit on the arm of it. Then he spotted Dean walking down the rest of the stairs. His brother's face was hard; lips in a tight line, eyes filled with determination. Sam noticed, as Dean came into the living room, that his brother had changed out of his wet clothes and was carrying three white towels and his and Sam's duffle-bags.
Dean was silent as he dropped the two duffle-bags in the middle of the floor and two of the towels on the couch. He gave the third towel to John, who nodded his thanks, before walking back into the hall and into the kitchen. The only noise in the living room were John's movements as he rubbed the towel over his head and around the back of his neck and Jess's small sobs that she tried to keep down. Sam watched as Jess's right hand rubbed at the red mark on her cheek while her left hand massaged her sore stomach. The guilt hit him hard, but Sam still stayed seated, Dean's threat ringing through his mind.
Dean came back into the living room a moment later, carrying a wooden dining room chair. He still didn't talk as he roughly pushed the coffee table to the side with his foot and slammed the chair on the floor in its place.
Sam and Jess both watched in trepidation, wondering what Dean was planning, although Sam had a sinking feeling that he already knew.
His thoughts were confirmed when Dean started going through his duffle and brought out a roll of rope. Watching Dean unwind it as he walked towards Jess, Sam couldn't stay quiet any longer.
He regretted opening his mouth and just as quickly sealed it shut again as a loud smack rang through the room. John carried on drying his face, not even pausing or flinching. Sam's eyes teared up as he stared at Jess. Her head had whipped to one side with the force of Dean's slap and more tears strolled down her face. Dean didn't even turn around when he spoke; he just continued to stand there and stare at Jess. "One more word, Sam. That's all it's gonna take right now; just one more word."
Sam's eyes closed for a moment; guilt once again smacking him in the chest. He didn't bother wiping away the single tear on his cheek. He opened his eyes again and watched Dean drag Jess over to the wooden chair. Jess whimpered when Dean tied the rope over her wrists and the sound went straight to Sam's heart. It was obvious that the rope was too tight, was gonna leave burn marks on her skin, but it was just as obvious that Dean didn't care and pointing it out would only cause Jess more pain she didn't deserve.
Once Jess was secured to the chair, Dean grabbed Sam's duffle and one of the towels from the couch before going over to Sam. He crouched down infront of him and spoke over his shoulder to John. "Dad, can you do me a favour and grab another chair from the kitchen, please? Thanks."
John threw his towel into a corner as he stood and walked into the kitchen. Dean lifted the towel he was holding and started to gently wipe the rain from Sam's face, ignoring the soft cries coming from the girl. He had calmed down a little but was still angry that, once again, Sam had took off. What would it take to teach the kid? When would Sam realise that every time he ran off he was putting himself in danger? That was unacceptable, and Dean had to show him that.
He was brought out of his thoughts when John came back with the chair. Dean stood and waited for John to put the chair down before sitting on it and scooching closer to Sam. "Bend your head." He mumbled and waited until Sam did before draping the towel over it and rubbing it across Sam's hair.
Sam sat perfectly still, waiting for Dean to finish. When he felt the towel wipe over the back of his neck, he spoke hesitatingly. "I'm sorry." He whispered.
Dean paused and looked at his younger brother. "I know, Sammy." He said, all traces of anger gone from his voice.
Sam glanced up at his Dad, wanting John to know that the apology was for him too. John smiled softly and stroked Sam's hair once before bending down to place a kiss on his son's head.
"You good down here?" John asked Dean. He nodded his head in the direction of the stairs and grabbed his wet t-shirt, pulling it away from his body. "Gonna go get changed."
Dean nodded and waved his hand in a gesture that meant 'yeah, go for it, we'll be fine.'
John nodded and gave Sam's hair one last stroke. "Wet puppy." He mumbled affectionately under his breath as he turned around and walked up the stairs.
Dean grinned at his Dad's comment and remembered the numerous times his Dad and him would say that to Sammy when he had gotten out of the bath. - "Isn't it meant to be 'wet dog'?" Sam had asked once and Dean had shook his head while John had chuckled.
"With those eyes of yours?" John would smile and Dean would interrupt - "Don't forget the dimples, Dad." - and Sam would roll his eyes and show his dimples and let out the cutest giggling noise as John tickled his sides.
Dean shook his head, coming back to the present and concentrating on what he had to do. That little memory had drained the rest of his anger away and he smiled softly at his brother. "Alright, Tiger, come on." He placed the towel on the floor and grabbed the hem of Sam's t-shirt, tugging on it to let Sam know what he wanted. "Let's get this off ya."
While Sam dragged his top over his head, Dean rummaged through Sam's duffle and pulled out a dry t-shirt with a grey hoodie and a pair of dark blue sweatpants.
"And the pants, Sam." Dean said as he rolled the t-shirt up to the neckline.
Sam didn't bother to stand; instead he lifted his hips up and pulled his pants off, kicking them off with his feet while he bent his head forward so Dean could put his green t-shirt on him. He took the sweatpants that Dean offered and put them on, grateful that Dean was allowing him to. Sam remembered the time before he left his family; remembered how Dean had always insisted on doing it for him. And it was because of that that Sam didn't say anything when Dean placed the hoodie on him. Sam had learned at an early age when to pick his battles - and the simple case of who got to dress him wasn't a battle worth fighting.
Once Sam was in dry clothes, Dean stood and grabbed the third towel, giving his hair and face a quick swipe with it before throwing it in the corner with his Dad's.
Sam didn't fail to notice that Jess was still soaking wet and Dean obviously had no intention of offering her a towel. But what could he do? Object to her treatment? Like Dean would listen, anyway.
Dean turned to Sam and stared at him for a moment, then he looked towards the kitchen door, looked towards the front door, and then looked back at his little brother. "I'm gonna go in the kitchen for a sec." He informed. "I want you to stay there, okay? I'm serious, Sam, you don't move an inch out of that chair and you don't talk to your little Bitch here." He paused for a moment. "Understood?"
Sam nodded and clenched his hands against the arms of the chair, keeping his eyes down.
"Eyes up, Sam." Dean ordered and Sam's eyes shot up to lock onto his brothers. "Understood?" Dean repeated.
Looking into his brother's green eyes, Sam saw how serious Dean was. If Sam moved from this chair, if Sam spoke to Jess...
...Jess's life would end before this night did.
Sam nodded again, meaning it this time. He wouldn't move, he wouldn't speak - he wouldn't endanger Jess's life.
Dean gave a single nod in return and stared at him for another second before turning around and walking into the kitchen, leaving the door open.
The only sound in the living room was Jess's soft hiccups as she calmed herself down and the shifting of her clothes as she tried to move into a better position. A second later both Sam's and Jess's heads whipped up to the ceiling as they heard the sound of banging. Sam closed his eyes and dropped his head back to lean against the cushion.
John was boarding up the window.
They were screwed. They were both so screwed and Sam didn't know how to get them out of this. Didn't stand a chance of getting them out of this. He had tried, he had failed and Jess was gonna pay the price.
Sam jumped and turned his head towards Jess. Her voice was a croaky whisper, hitching at the end of his name. The second he realised she had spoken, his eyes went wide and whipped towards the kitchen, praying Dean didn't hear it.
He didn't respond; just shook his head and turned it away.
He didn't see Jess's wounded look, didn't see the couple of tears that fell from her eyes.
The silence continued in the living room, the banging continued upstairs, and Sam continued to hate himself. He should have known better than to fight against his family, should have known better than to try for a normal life at College, should have known better than to get attached to someone who wasn't blood related.
Just should have known better.
Two minutes later Dean came into the hall, stood near the stairs and shouted up. "Dad!" Then he walked back into the kitchen without waiting for a response, completely ignoring the two in the living room.
The banging stopped and John came down the stairs, smiled at his youngest and sat on the couch. Dean walked into the living room carrying a food tray that he set on the coffee table. He passed John a plate of sandwiches and a cup of coffee, settled another plate of sandwiches with another cup of coffee down on the table, and gave Sam a bowl of warm chicken soup and a glass of milk.
"It'll warm you up." Dean explained. "I wanna see it all gone, including the milk." He took his own plate and sat on the sofa next to their Dad.
Sam lifted the spoon, then tilted it to its side and watched the soup spill back into the bowl. He looked at Jess, then back to his bowl, then back to Jess. He couldn't eat knowing that she wasn't.
Without looking up from his sandwich, Dean spoke. "Eat, Sam."
Sam's gaze went between Dean to Jess to his soup, his stomach turning with guilt once again. Even if Dean had given Jess something to eat, Sam didn't think he could keep the soup down. But Dean wanted him to eat, and right now Dean had the upper hand.
Sam had obviously waited too long because a second later Dean placed his plate back on the table and bounced off the couch towards Jess. He grabbed the back of the chair, tipped it backwards onto two legs and dragged the chair out of the living room and into the kitchen, ignoring Sam's questions and Jess's begs to be left alone.
Walking back into the room, Dean pointed at the bowl in Sam's hand. "Eat." He ordered before sitting down to finish his own food.
Sam didn't hesitate this time; he brought the spoon to his mouth, ignored the feeling of the soup swishing around his stomach and the bile in the back of his throat, and blinked back the tears.
Dean had the upper hand.
And he knew it.
Ten minutes later the food was gone, the drinks were gone and Dean and John were leading Sam back up the stairs. Sam glanced in the direction of the kitchen, desperately wanting to ask to see Jess.
Without turning around, Dean spoke. "Don't even think about it, Sam. It ain't happening."
Sam lowered his eyes, his shoulders slumping as he admitted defeat. He wasn't gonna see Jess again tonight.
Arriving in "his" bedroom, Sam glanced at the wooden board covering the window before quickly looking away as Dean led him by the hand to the bed. He didn't want to be reminded of his failure.
John stayed by the door, leaning his shoulder against the frame as he watched Dean put Sammy to bed. Sam didn't say anything; just laid there as Dean pulled the covers up to his shoulders and tucked him in.
"Night, Sammy." Dean whispered, kissing his forehead and stroking his hair before moving towards the door.
"See you in the morning, Son." John waited for Dean to leave before turning off the light and closing the door, locking it for good measure.
Sam laid there in the dark, a cold feeling in his chest. Turning his head to look at the empty space next to him, Sam realised he felt lonely. He had gotten used to having Jess beside him; a warm presence to help him sleep. He closed his eyes tightly as tears fell from them. If he had only listened to his family and had gone to sleep he would have Jess here; but, no. He had to disobey! Had to test his family's limits, had to ignore their warnings! He couldn't have just listened to them for once, could he? No, he had to be difficult.
He scoffed inwardly.
And where the hell did it get him? Alone in a bed in a cabin that was in the middle of nowhere with Jess tied to a chair in the cold kitchen probably counting the minutes down to her death...
When would he learn? When was he gonna stop trying?
He turned over onto his side, facing the window. When he opened his eyes and saw the wooden board he instantly bounced over to his right side instead. But staring at the empty space beside him brought more tears to his eyes. He flipped onto his back.
The rest of the night was gonna be long and Sam doubted he'd get any sleep.
But after five minutes of staring up at the ceiling Sam started feeling drowsy, his eyes started feeling heavy and he found himself slipping into a light doze.
His last thought for the night was; 'Sleeping pills.'