Chapter 1: A Single Night
“Oh… oh my…”
“Sam, are you listening to me?”
Sam snapped out of his reverie and turned to Dean, who was staring at the dark road ahead of them, clutching the wheel of the white 1970 Monte Carlo SS that they had rented. The streetlamps came and went, and bars of orange light illuminated Dean’s weary face, reminding Sam of how tired the two of them were — of how bad things had been of late. They were on their way to Atlanta, Georgia, based on a phone call that Sam had received, and Dean was still unhappy about it.
“There’s nothing left of my wall to break, Dean,” Sam replied with a sigh. “Going back to a place where I completed a job while I was soulless isn’t going to make me any worse.” He proceeded to rub his own eyes. He was so worn-out he could be comatose, yet Lucifer wouldn’t let him sleep. His head hurt and his body ached. He wished for a few hours of peace, but his own mind wouldn’t allow him that.
“It’s not that,” Dean replied, his eyes still on the road. “We never go back to any town where either of us has worked a case, remember?”
“Yeah, but this is not like the last time,” Sam insisted, referring to the hunt that they had sorted out in Rhode Island. “We didn’t know the source of our information then, but this time I know. I remember.”
“So is this Allison chick trustworthy or what?”
“Yeah, she knows what we do. She realised I wasn’t an FBI agent early on during the case.”
There was silence, and Sam put his head against the window, shutting his eyes and willing sleep to overtake his senses. Soon, his mind was drifting away, taking him to memories of the past.
He and Allison were in her apartment. They were alone and Sam was bleeding from a spot just below his belly button. Little rivers of crimson flowed down his lower abdomen, into the pad of cotton that Allison was holding below. She was helping patch up the wound. He was shirtless, leaning against the bathroom sink while she sat down on the toilet, trying to stem the blood flow, and, when that was done, she dabbed antiseptic-soaked cotton on the cut.
“This doesn’t need stitches,” she said, sounding relieved as she examined the wound and reached for a bandage. She put a wad of cotton over it and then taped it up, standing up from her place and giving him a half-smile. “All done there.”
“Mmm hmm.” He smirked back at her and she bit her lip unsurely in reply. “Thanks,” he said.
She made to walk out of the bathroom, but he grasped her wrist, his smile widening as she turned around to look at him. Before they knew it, he had hauled her up on the sink, and they started to kiss frantically.
Slender fingers traced the area below his navel and went down to undo his jeans, reaching for his boxers. Sam gasped, crashing his lips with Allison’s, tongue bordering her mouth, hands gripping her thighs and slowly creeping under her skirt…
She pulled away, just for a moment. “Bedroom,” she gasped.
“Oh, that’s sexy, Sam.”
Sam sat upright at Lucifer’s voice; all sleep leaving him as he rubbed his slightly sore neck and swore under his breath. It seemed like he had managed to catch a few minutes of sleep, but then his stupid, fucking mind. . .
“Have you tried sleeping pills?” Dean asked, glancing over at Sam briefly, concern flashing in his eyes.
“Yeah. They work sometimes, and sometimes they don’t,” Sam replied, yawning, his eyes filling up with tears of exhaustion. He rubbed them away and smacked his dry lips. “Hey, could we stop for coffee?”
There was silence again, except for the purr of the car, but Sam knew that Dean’s lack of reply meant a ‘yes’. A lot of conversations between them were characterised by plain silence lately. There barely seemed anything to talk about anymore, because honestly, what would they converse about? The latest deaths? Dick Roman? How they were practically alone now, Sam for Dean, Dean for Sam, with no one else?
They stopped at the next coffee shop, grabbed their coffees and set out again, and Sam could feel Dean’s eyes on him. He sighed.
“I’m okay, Dean.”
“Sure you are,” Dean muttered.
“Anything on Frank yet?” Sam asked his brother uselessly. They both knew the answer to that, but Sam really wanted to push the conversation away from his deteriorating mental health. It wasn’t as if Dean could take any more shit anyway. Sam wanted his big brother to have one less thing to worry about.
“Yeah, he’s dead,” Dean replied stoically. He reached for his coffee and took a quick sip before squinting back at the road. “So.”
“So?” Sam turned to his brother, putting his own Styrofoam cup to his mouth, and realised that he had drained it already. The stuff had gone down like water.
“Did you bang her?” Dean asked him.
Sam swallowed at the question. Did he bang Allison? That wasn’t the question at all. How many times he had done it in his week at Georgia with Samuel — that was the better query.
“My boyfriend’s been missing for two months. I think he might be d-dead.”
Sam lifted her off the bathroom sink in one go, letting her wrap her legs around his hips as she dipped her face to kiss his neck. They were in the bedroom in a moment. They undressed quickly, their breaths coming in short, urgent pants. She pushed him onto the bed, crawling up over him and straddling him, her face coming down again to meet lips with his.
His hands wandered on her back to locate the bra hooks and one-by-one, they were both off. The bra came away and she took his hands in hers and led his long-fingered palms to her full breasts, before coming back down to kiss him again.
His body reacted, goosebumps forming everywhere, and his toes curled at the impending pleasure. She kissed his jaw, and then his neck and his chest. His hands let go of her breasts and got hold of her hair, long strands slipping between his fingers, tickling their webs. He hissed, and she slipped lower still, and he groaned as her lips found a sensitive area, making him quiver with pleasure.
“You banged her, didn’t you?” Dean asked Sam again, but it looked like he already knew the answer.
“I was soulless, remember?” Sam replied wearily, running a hand through his hair. “Apparently, the only instincts I had were hunger, thirst and lust.”
“Yeah, and I feel dirty saying this, I really do,” Dean said, “but dude, there’s got to be a limit to this. How didn’t you catch the fucking clap from all that? It’s not fair. I behave like you, and I get that waitress in Tampa!”
Sam smiled at the incident with the waitress. Dean had been wary of his sexual partners for months after that, and then had gone back to his old ways, but the episode hadn’t repeated itself.
“Stop smiling like a bitch,” Dean snapped. “Should I remind you of the wonderful time you had when that witch gave you the clap?”
“No, thanks,” said Sam, immediately making an effort to stop smiling. It was still a painful memory. Especially with all the itching and burning… God.
“So, what does this Allison want?” Dean asked Sam, diverting his mind from the disturbing memory.
Sam cleared his throat. “Well, apparently, she’s seeing her boyfriend again.”
“Not in the good way, I gather.”
“No,” Sam replied. “He is dead. And there have been killings too. Around where Allison is living. Stabbings. From the kind of wounds on the victims, the local cops have classified these as homicide, but they have nothing on the culprit.”
“So it’s one of our random, psycho, run-of-the-mill monsters.”
“Seems like it.”
Dean scratched at his nose. “Was the boyfriend buried or cremated?”
“So we could just be dealing with a spirit here,” Dean deduced, cocking an eyebrow.
“I guess so,” Sam admitted to him.
“Aren’t we going too far for just a salt and burn, Sam? We could have sent someone else,” said Dean, rubbing between his eyebrows irately for a moment before putting his hand on the wheel again. “I mean, we have a lot of other shit to deal with right now.”
“Yeah,” Sam replied, “but the thing is, she wants to see me again. She said there is something important that she has to talk to me about.”
“Did you ask her what it was?”
“I did, but she wants to meet me in person.”
Dean raised an eyebrow, his eyes still trained on the road. “Sammy,” he said cautiously, “what did you do to her?”
“Nothing, Dean,” said Sam. “Well, if you don’t count the sex…”
“There isn’t something I should know about, is there?”
“No,” Sam replied, fingering a tear in his jeans. “Unless you want details—”
Dean scrunched his face. “Keep those to yourself. That Ruby bitch still haunts me, thank you very much.”
Sam chuckled and folded his arms. “And for all your ‘natural process’ talks, Dean…”
“Shut up,” said Dean, spots of pink appearing on his cheeks. “We’re done here.” He reached for the radio and switched on a channel, which happened to be playing AC/DC. “Huh,” he said happily. “Look at that!”
Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m going to try to sleep.”
“You want me to change the music to some soft rock?” Dean asked him, and Sam was surprised by the concern in his voice.
He shook his head. “No. But thanks.”
“Yeah, no problem,” said Dean, but he changed the channel anyway, and Sam flashed him a smile before leaning against the window and drifting away into sleep for as much time as his mind would allow him.
Allison Lane was fidgety. She was nervous, anxious and terrified. Her gut had been tingling for days with an intuition: a terrible, daunting thought that wouldn’t go away. She was scared. Extremely scared. And she had good reason to be afraid.
She had been catching glimpses of her dead boyfriend, Henry, for a while now. She saw him when she went to work or to the grocery store, and she saw him when she came home. He lurked in the corners of her eyes as though he were stalking her. If she hadn’t been aware of the various, terrible, scary things that skulked out there in the dark, Allison would have been worried that her busy life was finally catching up with her. But no. Thanks to one Sam Winchester from two years ago, Allison knew that she wasn’t hallucinating or imagining the situation. And somehow, this was less comforting than the possibility of having a mental illness.
Henry had died a horrible death. A werewolf had killed him and kept his corpse locked in a shed, along with its other prey, when it had finished eating their hearts. When the number of disappearances around the town had increased, the FBI became concerned and sent two of their agents to look into the case. Allison discovered later on that they were not FBI agents. They were ghost hunters.
Allison had forced the truth out of the younger of the two ‘agents.’ She told them that she was aware they weren’t with the FBI, and had threatened to file a report with the police if they didn’t tell her what was really going on. The young man, Sam, had given in. He told her a few secrets, and then some more — some during the day and some during the night. The nights had been as unforgettable as the days.
Once Allison had started to see Henry again, she had called Sam and informed him. He sounded different on the phone, somehow: softer, and… tired. Allison wondered what had changed. By the time she had reached the end of her conversation with Sam, Allison had also reached an important decision. She told Sam that she needed to speak to him face-to-face, thus requesting him to come to solve the case in person instead of sending someone else, like he had suggested. And now, as she thought about those moments with Sam two years ago, Allison couldn’t wait to see him again and talk to him.
Her roommate, Veronica, didn’t believe Allison when she told her about seeing Henry around. It did sound pretty crazy if you didn’t know and believe that the supernatural actually existed. So Allison had stopped bothering Veronica and had decided to let Sam handle this.
Allison blinked as she realised that the couch she was sitting on was suddenly too uncomfortable. Her heart fluttering uneasily, she leapt up and looked around the living room. She could swear she had heard a sound from the farthest end of the hallway — footsteps, maybe — but she wasn’t sure.
She crossed her fingers, entered the hallway, and waited for a moment by the first room. The door to the room was shut, but Allison wished she had an extra-strong lock she could put on it. She had a bad feeling about today, and hidden behind that door was the one thing in this world that was precious to her..
Allison made her way to the stairs and held the wooden railing.
“Veronica?” she called out, looking up the staircase, wondering if Veronica was in her room. “You in?” she enquired again, but she wasn’t surprised when Veronica didn’t answer, since Veronica had a date with her boyfriend that evening.
More footsteps sounded, from the living room this time, and Allison’s heart throbbed as she turned around, but there was no one. She went back to the couch and knelt on the cushions, reaching to part the window curtains. All she saw outside was the small, empty yard. That was when she heard shuffling from outside the door.
Allison made her way outside to the porch. The driveway was empty and there was no one to be seen. The neighbourhood was relatively quiet tonight. Allison let out a shallow breath and hugged herself, feeling goosebumps rise everywhere when she realised that someone was right behind her. She turned around nervously.
A figure moved in the shadows and, the next instant, Henry stepped out of the darkness and smirked at her.
“Hey, Allison,” he said in a low voice.
Allison took a step back. “Henry,” she breathed, “what are you doing here?”
His grin widened, as he walked towards her. Allison began to back away but soon she hit the wall of the shed, and her breath came in short gasps as she watched Henry advance on her. Tears sprung in Allison’s eyes. She glanced at the house, and said a silent prayer in her heart before turning to Henry.
“What do you want?”
He shook his head. There was a flash of silvery metal.
“No!” Allison gasped. She held his wrist with both hands and tried to keep the knife away, but failed. He overpowered her easily. She started to scream. His free hand went to her mouth, muffling any sounds from her. She scrabbled at his armed hand, weakly trying to fight him but before she knew it, there was excruciating pain. Her vision tunnelled as she saw the crimson of spurting blood.
She was still trying to fight him but his hand slipped away, albeit leaving behind a dislodged fingernail in her hand.
The fingernail fell to the floor as she gave in to the blackness.
The next day
Sam frowned as the coroner undid the zipper on the body bag to reveal Allison’s pale corpse, supine in a sea of black. A large wound decorated her abdomen and Sam tightened his gloves around his fingers before reaching for the mouth of the injury and inserting his finger, trying to assess the depth.
It was very deep. There were no hesitation cuts, and, as Sam prodded at the wound, he realised that the stab was upwards, in a direction which would have been difficult to achieve with one’s own hand. No one killed themselves meticulously. They usually hesitated, but even if they didn’t, the direction of the stabbing was almost always downwards or sideways, since these were easier to attain when the person was being quick and impulsive.
Definitely a murder. And if Allison was to be believed, this was positively supernatural.
After inspecting Allison’s body, Sam and Dean made their way to her house to speak to her roommate. The young, scared woman had tears in her eyes when Sam and Dean introduced themselves as FBI agents.
“Come on in,” she said, wiping her eyes. “My name is Veronica.” Veronica was in her late twenties, and she had blonde hair which was currently swept up in a ponytail. She led Sam and Dean into her cosy little house and gestured for them to sit.
“We’re sorry about your loss, Veronica,” Sam said softly as he and Dean made themselves comfortable on the couch. “We understand you were close to Allison. We just need you to answer a few questions, for the investigation.”
Veronica nodded. “Allison was my best friend.” A wistful smile appeared on her face, and a tear fell out of her eye. “I will do anything to help,” she said.
Dean stood up and cleared his throat. “I’m going to take a look at the…” He jabbed his thumb at the window, towards the garden, where the crime scene was cordoned off by the police. “If you don’t mind,” he added to Veronica, whose eyes were tearing up again.
“Sure,” she whispered.
Dean nodded at her, and gestured for Sam to continue, before making his way out of the house. Sam watched his brother leave and turned back to Veronica, leaning forward, so he could continue talking to her. “Was Allison… was she behaving strange in the days before her death? Was she scared of something or someone?” he asked.
“Well, actually, yes,” she replied. “She… she…” Veronica paused, and bit her lip. “It was weird.”
“Well,” Veronica looked at the floor, as though she were unsure how to say it. “Allison… she thought she was being stalked by her dead boyfriend.”
Sam pursed his lips. “Was he buried or cremated?”
Veronica raised her eyebrow. “Cremated, but what does that have to do with anything?”
There was silence as Sam waited for Dean to return. In the meantime, he noticed that Veronica was staring at him. Her eyes narrowed, and he looked away from her awkwardly. “Uh…” he said, keeping his eyes fixed on a wall behind Veronica, “we’ll be out of your hair in a minute.”
Veronica nodded, but her scrutiny didn’t end. Sam licked his lips and played with his fingers. This woman was strange.
“I know you,” Veronica said suddenly, just as Sam was thinking of joining Dean outside. He looked up at her. “Well, I’ve heard of you,” she corrected herself. “Weren’t you Allison’s… that FBI guy she had a thing with? Are you him?”
Sam didn’t know if it could get any more awkward, but he nodded. Veronica’s eyes turned soft, as she clasped her hands together. “Did Allison say she wanted to talk to you? About something?”
Sam didn’t know how this had anything to do with Veronica, but he nodded. “Do you know what it was?” he asked her.
Veronica ran a hand through her hair. “I do. I do, actually.”
“Can you tell me?”
She turned around, and glanced at the hallway behind her. “I can’t tell — you’ll have to see.”
“Come with me.”
Just as Veronica stood up from her place and took a few steps, the door opened, and Dean walked in, sweating slightly from the sun outside. He raised his eyebrows at Sam, and made a gesture to say that he had found something. Sam waited as his brother made a beeline for him.
“Fingernail,” said Dean in a low voice, when he had come close enough, producing something from his pocket and blocking it from Veronica’s view. “I found it near the bushes where she was found. Police must have missed it.”
“How do you know it’s the killer’s?” Sam whispered to him.
Sam hesitantly raised his hand and prodded at the tiny, white fingernail in Dean’s palm, recognising the anomaly immediately. The fingernail wasn’t hard or smooth like it should have been. It was soft, damp and rubbery. Sam took his hand away. “Shape-shifter.”
“Yup,” Dean agreed with him. “Gets his kink off killing ladies with dead exes.”
Sam scrunched his nose, and then looked at Veronica, who was still waiting for him. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he told Dean, and his brother nodded.
“Don’t take too long.”
Sam didn’t reply to that as he followed Veronica to the first room in the hallway. The door was shut almost all the way and Veronica stopped outside for a moment, before pushing it open.
“Here you go,” she said. “Might be a bit of a shocker but…” she shrugged, “Allison had wanted to tell you for a while now.”
Sam stood before the room and took a peek inside, and his heart missed a beat when he saw it.
The room was actually a nursery.