Bridge To Another Day

by Tidia

Beta: That Girl Six

Part 1

Sam stretched until his arms dangled over the edge of the bed and he sighed, scooting back so that his arms were on the mattress. The bed was so comfortable with the soft, sheets smelling of Tide laundry detergent and the sun coming through the blinds but not resting on his eyes, just dappling the room. He felt a small hand on his back and the soft breath against his neck. It was nice. It was familiar.

"What time is it?"

He wanted to keep his eyes closed, but somehow he couldn’t deny the voice asking him the question anything. He opened his eyes and searched out the red numbers on the alarm clock next to his head. "Eight."

There was a noncommittal reply, then a groan. As shapely legs stepped over him, he turned and opened his eyes to see white. The one side of the bed against the wall was empty and quickly growing cold.

"Sam! We over-slept," the female voice yelled out to him.

"No, we didn't." Sam couldn't think of any place he needed to be except for a comfortable bed. "For what?"

Jessica came out, toothbrush in her mouth. She removed it to talk to him after she had glared at him. "Come on, silly. Graduation. The biggest day of our lives, well, until you graduate from law school, that is." She wrinkled her nose. "How much did you have to drink with Zach and those guys last night? You got in late. . ."

"Mmmm," he replied. He must have had a lot to drink since it was all a blur.

"I'm taking a shower first, but when I finish I expect you out of that bed," she ordered and then sashayed back into the bathroom.

Sam sunk into the bed, enjoying the extra minutes of rest. He would get up in ten minutes while Jessica took her usual twenty minute shower. He must have miscalculated or fallen asleep again because he was sure he only blinked once before she was dripping her hair on him.

"I was just waiting for you to finish." Sam grabbed her waist, bringing her down upon him as she lost the beige towel she had tucked around her breasts.

"Saa-am, your parents are going to be here soon. They said they were going to bring breakfast, remember?" She tried to pull away and find her towel at the same time.

"Okay, okay." He gave her a peck on the cheek since he did not want to be caught in bed with Jessica with his parents probably minutes away. That was not the impression of their future daughter-in-law he wanted to give them.

At the thought of the actual word "daughter-in-law", Sam couldn't help but smile to himself. It went well with the picture he had of their future. Until then, the ring was well hidden. He was planning to give it to her tonight when they were surrounded by their families.

He took a quick shower, but still the mirror fogged up, so he wiped a hand down over the mirror so he could shave. For a moment his image was blurred. He placed his hand on the mirror and felt the moist glass. When his visage was no longer distorted he picked up his razor. He made quick work of his whiskers then squeezed some of Jessica’s pomade in his hair. Sam had told Jessica that whatever was in the small bathroom was community property. Most of the time this worked for Sam’s benefit, but sometimes that meant a floral scented shampoo.

When he exited the bathroom with a towel around his waist he noticed Jessica had put out his dress pants and a shirt for him to wear. He had told her he was tempted to go to graduation in shorts and a t-shirt, since he’d be wearing a gown anyway.

When he was dressed he came out to the kitchen and living room area. She held out the tie she had picked. He placed it around his neck, she lifted her hands to tie it. He pretended he didn't know how to do it well just to have her preen over him as she hummed a silly song. "Over and under and through. . ." She had told him her father taught her when she was little.

The doorbell rang and he backed away, coughing when Jessica didn't release the tie right away.

"Wait, I'm finished!" She gave the blue striped tie a final tug.

Sam loosened the tie slightly as he opened the door. His parents, hand in hand after more than thirty years of marriage, huddled in the small doorway. He had seen them yesterday, during the day, but his mother still hugged him. He picked her up slightly and squeezed. His mother was still trim, and her hair was soft against his cheek.

“My baby boy.”

His father, gave his usual gruff greeting, then placed a hand against Sam’s cheek while pushing a bag at him. “Breakfast,” his father announced.

Sam pressed against the door and let his mother enter. "Jessica said you love the muffins and coffee from the place down the street," his mother explained as she gave Jessica a hug.

Sam smiled. He loved Peet's, especially the chocolate chip, coffee cake swirled muffin. He peeked in the bag, and saw the large muffin on the top. He was still waiting at the door, even though his parents were already inside. There was someone missing.

"Who are you looking for, son?" his father asked, placing an arm around Sam's shoulder.

"I just thought. . ." Sam started to explain that he thought there would be more family to witness something he had worked so hard to achieve.

"Your aunt and uncle wanted to come, but they figure they will see you when you come home for your visit." His father led him away from the door, closing it as they made their way to the kitchen for their intimate breakfast.

Arkansas felt like the middle of Nowhere when your brother didn't want to wake up. They had met up with Caleb after the showdown with the siren in Iowa. The brothers had been picking at each other, making every sigh and twitch less endearing and more aggravating and leading to the slamming of doors. A meet up with Caleb was a good distraction, a buffer between them after the verbal volleys in the motel room. Caleb had found a satanic cult that was calling up apparitions on Bono Bridge. It would take more than just one person, and three would be perfect.

They had read over Caleb's material and then done a site visit, marking the territory so that it would ward against whatever the cult was doing. The awkwardness sat heavy in the air when they returned, though, sending Sam to bed while Dean and Caleb sat up without saying much of anything at all.

Dean had awoken early, more now to keep an eye on his brother, and entered the shower to languish in the hot water. For once, there was decent water pressure. There would be plenty for Sam later. Caleb didn't pick roach ridden places. The Comfort Inn had real walls, painted a neutral color, not the normal ugly dark paneling covering god knows what underneath. There were no suspicious stains on the carpet, which when they were kids was an entertaining game of 'what caused the stain.' The Comfort Inn also had a room service menu and wireless.

Sam was still sleeping when Dean exited the bathroom. Dean did not try to be quiet as he unzipped his bag, hummed a tune as he shaved and gargled after brushing his teeth. Sam slept through it all. Dean eyed the menu, then slapped it down on the desk. Still no reaction from his brother. It was almost 10 o'clock. Dean looked at the door, contemplating a bagel and coffee run. Sam was tired, waking earlier than Dean to talk privately to Ruby. Then there was the occasional late nights hunting with Ruby, without Dean.

So Dean would have let Sam continue sleeping if he hadn't felt a burst of anger. "Sam? Sammy?" Dean shook the bed. "Time to wake up, man."

There was not even a twitch from his brother. He shook him again, placing both hands on his brother. He hadn't touched his brother since he had hit him, trying not even to brush against him in close quarters. "Sammy!"

This was not normal and was not a hangover. They each had one beer to wash down dinner. Dean knocked against the bedroom wall. Caleb was in the next room. "Get in here!" he called out. The Comfort Inn was better than their usual motel rooms, but it still had thin walls. He placed his hand on his brother's neck, feeling the slow steady rhythm of a sleeping heartbeat.

"Open up, Deuce!" Caleb said from the door.

Dean walked backwards, his eyes on Sam as he opened the door for his friend. "Sam isn't waking up."

Caleb performed another brief examination. "Deep REM sleep?" he questioned as he patted Sam's face.

Again, there was no reaction.

"Help me get him into the shower," Dean said with the belief that a cold shower would revive his brother.

"Wait a minute." Caleb left his hand on the side of Sam's face for a moment. He grimaced, then closed his eyes before drawing his hand away. "I can't get in."

"What does that mean? Does it mean he's in a coma or had some sort of aneurysm?" Dean placed his hand on Sam's blanket-covered leg and shook it again. He knew Sam using his abilities was bad for his health. This just proved it. "I'm calling 911."

Caleb lifted his hand. "No, wait. I would know the difference. This is like being psychically blocked."

Dean did not take comfort that it was something supernatural that was effecting his brother, and not physical. "Did he take some dream root?" Dean was tired of asking questions and not getting answers, or at least getting the truth.

"And not tell you? Why would he even take it?" Caleb shook his head. "Hex bags?" Caleb began to look around the room, under the bed, sticking his arm as far under it as he could to feel along the springs.

"Why does he do a lot of the stuff he does?" Dean replied, looking in the nightstand for a hex bag but finding nothing. He opened his duffle bag and turned on the EMF. "Clear here. Help me get him in the shower."

Between the two of them, they maneuvered Sam into the bathroom. The shower head was one that could be pulled from the wall. Dean opened the water, and sprayed the water on Sam's face. "Damnit, Sammy." His brother's eyes remained closed.

Dean patted his brother's face, then placed the towel around his neck while Caleb supported Sam's weight. They brought him back to the bed, laying him down once more.

"Should we call Mac?" Dean rested a hand against his brother's forehead.

Caleb shook his head. "Mac's in Jamaica right now. It would take him awhile to get here."

"With Esme? First Hawaii, now Jamaica? You sure it wasn't for a quickie wedding?" Dean smiled, looked at his brother to join in the teasing. At least that was something they still had in common. "You know Sam loves weddings."

"Something about a voodun priestess and another link for The Brotherhood." Caleb waved his hand in the air. "Mac is trying to form a network because of the apocalypse."

Dean nodded, recalling an earlier conversation with Sam. "That's right Sam mentioned that when he talked to Mac last week." Mac had taken up calling Sam once a week to provide him some sort of Scholar training.

"So putting Mac on the backburner for the moment, no hex bags, no dream root. . ." Caleb was reviewing the list.

"Ruby." Ruby was the bane of his brother, and this reeked of her leading his brother down the wrong path. "He spends time with her. Maybe this is Lillith related?"

Caleb rubbed a hand down his face. "How do we get her here?"

Dean wished he knew more about the Sam and Ruby connection. What he knew was enough, and sometimes it was better not to know too much. That way he could ignore the existence of the relationship. "She's always skanking around. Let me try his cell phone." It was charging on the nightstand.

At least Sam had not saved her number in his phone under her name. He remembered the phone number from Iowa when Sam had left his phone behind and Dean had been too tempted not to look. It rang twice before she picked up with a warm "Sa-am."

"No," Dean stated, not going any further with an explanation. "We need to talk."

"Where's Sam? I want to talk to Sam."

"Busy." She sounded annoyed, but Ruby was a demon with lying as part of her core chemistry. We're in Camden, Arkansas, at the Comfort Inn, Room 12."

"I'll see you in ten."

Dean shut the phone and relayed the information to Caleb.

"Ten minutes? She stalks you guys from town to town?" Caleb had taken the pillows from the other bed, and with Dean's help they placed them under Sam's feet to keep up circulation.

Sam's features were slack, uncommon when the conversation was about Ruby. Yet, there was only silence and Dean was allowed to make a biting comment, "Or worse, we follow her."

Both Caleb and Dean were men of action. They stayed fidgeting in silence in the uncomfortable position of waiting for Ruby to help them.

Caleb cocked his neck towards the door.

Dean opened it as Ruby was in mid-knock. He was glad to get her off guard. "What's going on with my brother? Did you do this to him?" Dean pulled her in, manhandling her until she was in front of Sam's bed.

"'Going on?'" She pulled her arm away from him, then pushed Caleb away as she got on her knees and rested her head near Sam's shoulder. "I didn't do this!"

Dean clenched his fists, hating the intimacy and the lies she told. She had poisoned Sam with those half-truths and probably many more that he had no idea about.

"Then what about your friends? What about Lillith?" Caleb was standing shoulder to shoulder with Dean in support.

She pulled her dark hair away from her face, placed a hand on Sam's shoulder.

Dean growled at her for touching his brother.

She stood, ignoring Caleb and facing Dean. "I didn't do this and this isn't Lillith's work either," Ruby said calmly with the security of someone who knew.

"Do what, exactly?" Dean looked down at her, trying to seek the truth from her as he bit out the words.

"Psychic wonder doesn't know?" She turned her head and smiled at Caleb. "I do." She retreated to Sam and sat on the corner of the bed with a hand possessively on his leg.

"Of course you do," Caleb replied.

Dean couldn't allow the taunting to go on much longer. It was wasting Sam's time. "You going to tell us?"

Ruby smiled again, stroking Sam's leg. "Your holier-than-thou buddies haven't dropped in, have they? I would say they were involved."

Dean wished Castiel would show up with Uriel. He wouldn't stand between Uriel and Ruby this time.

"Why?" Caleb tapped her shin with his foot.

She grimaced and rubbed the spot Caleb had touched. "Oh honey, I thought under that head of hair you had some brains."

"Is this how you talk to Sam?" Caleb questioned.

Dean reached out and squeezed Caleb's arm, signaling him to stop. This would get them nowhere. Ruby had her own game, and they didn't know the rules. "Get to the point."

She directed her attention to Dean, batting her eyelashes innocently at him. "He's been placed in a dream world."

He had been placed in dream worlds — by a djinn and by the angels to see how their mother had made a deal to save their father. (1) Castiel was busy with his own business; he had said as much to Dean. They were trying to stop the seals from breaking. He had no way of contacting Castiel unless he wanted to go through the ritual Bobby had found.

Caleb narrowed his eyes. "I can't get in."

"Really? Maybe I should try." She walked her fingers up Sam's leg until Dean grabbed her hand and squeezed.

"No, you don't."

She attempted to pull her hand out of his grasp, but he held firm. "I should be doing something to help Sam. He needs me. . ."

Dean drew her arm behind her and up her back, pushing her towards the door. "And we need you to leave."

"Fine." She opened the door, and Dean released her. "The offer remains open, and I'll be close by."

Dean slammed the door behind him. He assumed Caleb would be satisfied with what he had done, but there was no cocky grin on his friend's face.

"If she's right and it's the angels, then that's the reason why I can't get in."

"Not this shit again." Dean couldn't deal with Caleb's insecurities about being demon-tainted and therefore not worthy of the angels. "I don’t know, but I don't want to her doing God knows what to Sam without us being able to see, too. He is here, and he's alive." Dean gripped his brother's hand, feeling the warmth there.

"Ruby said he was in a dream world. When that happened to you, Castiel showed up. Right now — no Castiel."

Dean followed Caleb line of thought. "So you think this is Ruby."

Caleb nodded. "She could touch him and get a read from him. If she's involved then maybe Josh will know something about how to wake the runt up. It's like Glinda versus the Wicked Witch." Caleb had his cell phone out.

Dean liked the idea. "One problem: Sammy is on Josh's shit list right now." He had forced his brother to tell Joshua the truth, perhaps to his detriment. But Dean was having trouble tolerating the secrets and didn't want to be a party to it — with anyone. "And I wouldn't mention you comparing him to Glinda."

"He'll help." Caleb scrolled through his contact list and called. There was no greeting, Caleb went into a brusque explanation, "Hey, we can't wake Sam up, and Ruby says he's in a dream world." Caleb put the volume up on his phone so Dean could hear Joshua's reply.

"Hello, Caleb, how are you? I'm fine. Thank you for asking. Yes, I am at work presently, but I'll take your call, and I am still waiting for that check for Hawaii."

Dean sighed in frustration. Some things would never change with Sawyer.

"Check's in the mail," Caleb quipped. "Sam needs help. He's been sleeping over eight hours."

They heard the squeak of an office chair through the phone. "Maybe he's tired."

"Caleb can't get a read on him, and Ruby came by," Dean added, trying to rush along some answers.

"Of course," Joshua replied coolly. "Am I on speaker phone?"

"No, you said you don’t like it. I am all about respecting your boundaries. I put the volume up," Caleb replied with a smirk.

"She said that he's in some sort of dream world and she had nothing to do with it," Dean added.

"And you believed her?"

Caleb answered because it was easier for him to believe that if it was bad, then it was a demon, hence Ruby. Dean was still in doubt if it was the angels in which case they would have to wait for Sam to be released by them. "No, that's why we're calling you. Is this something you can fix?"

"Adam and I've been working on something to break down a poison."

"Poison?" Dean went to his brother, placing two fingers against his pulse point, relieved at the thrum-thrum of a heartbeat.

"No one said anything about a poison," Caleb supplied.

"Did you find anything? Hex bags? Writings? Anything?"

"No," they both answered.

"Then it could be, possibly something he ingested."

They had gone out for standard American faire last night, and they weren't affected. "Does your invention work?" Dean had picked up on the fact that Joshua had said he and his friend were working on something, not that it was completed.

"Sam would be our first test subject." Joshua gave what seemed to be a disappointing sigh. "Not a lot of people getting poisoned, lately."

"You want Sammy to be a guinea pig?" Dean looked at Caleb who nodded.

"We've tested the theory and did a trial animal run which worked out well. So technically he is our first human subject."

"That makes me feel oh so much better." They had to take Josh up on his offer. Dean wanted another chance to fight for Sam to get a chance to bring him back. "I know Sam's not your favorite Winchester anymore . . ."

"That is a completely separate situation. However, I cannot make any guarantees if Ruby is in my presence."

Caleb looked at Dean for permission from The Guardian. Dean nodded; he could accept Joshua's terms. "Agreed, if we could be so lucky. What should we do in the meantime?" Caleb asked.

"Try to get through to him. Call Carolyn. She and Riley have that research on Triad power. It could help."

"Fine, just get here quick," Dean added and walked away from the phone, but not before hearing "You're welcome."

Caleb closed his phone with the only background noise of Sam's soft breathing. External injuries were so much easier to deal with. "Do you think Adam is coming with him?" Caleb broke the silence.

"I don't know." Dean thought it was an idiotic question, unless it served the purpose to distract Dean.

"He doesn't like us."

"Are you serious?" Dean didn't know what to do with himself. Sit on Sam's bed? Pull over a chair? Pray? He felt powerless, weak, sending Sam's words echoing back.

"Of course I am. He could be a threat," Caleb explained, getting two bottles of water out of the mini-fridge, handing one to Dean. "He likes Josh but doesn't like us? I don't get it."

Dean decided to pull over a chair. "You can ask Josh all about him when he gets here. We need to call Carolyn."

On to Part II


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