To say that Sam was astounded would be an understatement. A really big one. Though given the fact that it wasn't an everyday thing to see a person appearing from thin air in the middle of his living room while he was just cleaning some piece of jewelry, well, no one should blame him for being a little startled. Especially because, as soon as the man appeared, he knelt with such a frighteningly inhuman elegance on one knee, bowing his head as he called him master.
And then his mind went blank. There was a faint noise in the background, he realized, seemingly unimportant to his soon-to-be panic attack, but it was still there. The man was speaking. Their eyes didn't meet and Sam still wasn't able to hear anything besides the beat of his heart but he now noticed the movement of the other's lips. Sam tried to concentrate but after a couple of seconds he only managed to half hear him. It was really hard for his brain to think anything besides the obvious: A. Man. Just. Appeared. From. Fucking. Nowhere.
He let out a shaky breath.
"Are you unwell, master?" the man asked, his voice and smile were polite but the last word held a resigned tone laced with a barely hidden disgust that made Sam want to twitch in sympathy. The man tilted his head up, his eyes never leaving the same spot on the floor he had looked since he appeared, and Sam got a better look of his clenched teeth. "How long are you going to space out, may I ask?"
Sam would have frowned at the mocking edge of his words that made the curl of his lips somehow sharper, that's it if his brain had still been able to process it.
He glanced slowly at his door, trying to think in some logical answer. Nothing came. He shook his head, trying to clear it so he could think calmly about his situation.
"Never let your eyes wander from the threat until you know it's safe," his mind provided with what suspiciously sounded like Dean's voice.
Sam's eyes returned to the man, to observe him, analyze him. To determine the possible danger he could be. After a quick glance, he couldn't find any cause for alarm. Sam realized that he could easily overpower him – the man was not thin by any means but some of his bones were somewhat visible through pale skin that looked as if it hadn't seen the light of the sun in a long time. His hair was dull and there were slight bags under the eyes he had now catch a glimpse of. He barely looked healthy enough to be standing on his own feet. Or kneeling, as the current case might be. Even so, Sam wasn't going to let that trick him. Even with those physical characteristics, the man emanated a power that made him want to recoil and run away.
One would think the most startling thing would be the clothes – or more like the lack of clothes, because though the only clear sight he had now was the blond hair of the man, he could still see the other wore some kind of weird baggy pants with a red cloth wrapped around his waist – but it wasn't. The bright jewelry adorning his wrists and the gold, leather-looking collar around his neck that were part of the man's scandalous attire didn't weird him out as much as those eyes had done. They struck Sam the most because they were simply terrifying. They hadn't locked eyes yet but there was something in that icy blue gaze that looked ageless— as if there was hidden, dark, gruesome knowledge behind them. Something told him he didn't want to meet those eyes.
The man cocked his head to the side, his lips curling in a falsely polite expression.
"Perhaps you had fallen from your crib as a youngling and now you cannot process information properly? Should I repeat myself more slowly, master?"
Okay, that wasn't very polite.
Sam didn't answer and the man obviously thought Sam had some kind of brain damage. That's the only thing that expression could mean.
"You are the necklace's new owner. That makes you my master." he man chanted tonelessly, in a way that indicated he had said the same words many times before. He then bowed his head once more. His once ageless eyes now looked vacant and subdued. "I'm here to serve you and do as you wish."
Okay, Sam was going to have a panic attack any time now. His palms were already clammy and his lungs were starting to burn with every breath he took. He swallowed thickly and took a deep breath to steady himself, , trying not to show his discomfort. "Is Dean behind this?"
The man's eyebrow rose and— Okay, Sam totally deserved that look. He did just see the man appearing from thin air only a moment ago.
Fuck. Get over that, Winchester. You've got more problems to deal with.
He backed up as far away of the blond as possible. He almost jumped when he felt the end of the couch against his back. He couldn't remember when he had slided so much from his original spot but the cool, soft sensation of the armrest against his back was a clear hint. His hand started to tremble; his mouth was dry and his tongue was heavy. Sam clenched his fists once before standing up, determined to go to the kitchen, never giving his back to the other.
"I need some water," Sam said as a way of explanation, though he didn't know why he was explaining himself to the stranger.
Before he could take a step though, Sam was stopped by the sound of snapping fingers. Suddenly the man was in front of him again, his right knee and left hand touching the floor as he held a weird-looking glass full of water between the fingertips of his free hand.
Sam shut his eyes tightly. "Okay, none of this is real. This is just a dream. I was tired from work and fell asleep on the couch. Yes, that's what happened. I haven't slept well in days, that's the problem. When I open my eyes there won't be a man in my living room. I'll be alone and go back to dream normally."
There was a faint sound of fluttering papers before silence followed. Hoping he was truly alone after a couple of seconds without any incident had passed, Sam slowly opened his eyes. There were bright spots in his vision from shutting his eyes so tightly but after blinking twice, he could see everything normally once more.
There was no mysterious stranger in front of him.
Sam sighed in relief, running fingers through his hair as he collapsed on the couch. He was alone in the room. It had been a hallucination.
Well, that suited him just fine. As if he didn't need more stress in his life.
Once relaxed, he glanced at the spot on the floor where the necklace had fallen from his fingertips. He frowned at it cautiously but didn't move to grab it, just concentrated in steadying his beating heart.
- x -
That night he couldn't sleep. He went to the small room he had started calling his office and continued doing the work he still had to finish, though not before grabbing a fork to move the necklace from the floor to the small jewelry box that Jess never took from his apartment after moving out.
He didn't know how much time had passed but the room was quiet, the tick-tock of the clock on the wall the only background he had had for hours. His eyes were already burning from reading the same paper three times. It was in Spanish and even though he was good at it, he was better with Latin. All thanks to Pastor Jim. But not in Latin anymore and there aren't papers that need to be translated in that language, so that ability of his wasn't needed. Even so, it still helped him with some of the terms he now had to work with.
His phone went off, the sound too loud in the quietness of the room. Sam sat up straight; Spanish notes left aside as he glanced at the pile of papers he was sure he had left his phone on. It wasn't there.
Sighing, he took his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose, slowly letting his fingers massage his tired eyes as he concentrated on the sound. It came from his left. That he was able to get easily enough. However, as he was a Winchester and thus possessor of the well-known Winchester's 'luck', when he started searching for the phone, the sound stopped. He still looked for it though, choosing to open the curtains as the dim light of the lamp beside his desk didn't help him in his search.
Sunlight poured through the window and Sam squinted into the surprising brightness. He hadn't considered it could be past six, but the too bright sky seemed to tell a different story.
Well, at least it's not too late, Sam thought as he started opening his drawers, a soft, tired sigh escaping past his lips. By the time he found his phone under a book, it had started ringing again. Jess's name was on the screen.
"You forgot where you put your phone again, right?" she said immediately after he answered.
"Of course not, I always put it on my desk—"
"'—Next to me so it's always close'," she said in a mocking imitation of his voice. "Yes, I know. And I'm sure there must be a lot of books and paper littering the desk as well."
"Just some. I'm the one the firm charged to look into the archives, after all," Sam yawned. "Our team hasn't found anything on The Rack yet. Well, at least nothing big enough to give us some more time. If we don't find anything our client will have to sign the agreement Crowley settled on behalf of our client."
"I get is not a nice agreement then?"
"Let's just say our client will have to pay for the 'troubles' he caused to the company. When it should happen the contrary."
"So you're busy I get? I'm sorry for calling this early then, Sam."
"No, no. I should be thanking you for calling. I forgot to set my alarm again and would have lost track of time if it wasn't for you."
There was a relieved sigh on the other end. "Well, you're a lucky guy then." She chuckled softly. "Though one usually sets an alarm to wake up not, to let you know that it's already early. But well, the case sounds difficult."
"It is. Crowley's the worst. And so you know, I did set my alarm to go off in an hour or so. I still need to do some errands, after all."
"Errands? But are you home now, right? Because I'm outside."
As if on cue, he heard the front door opening.
Crap. Sam looked at his phone for the date. It was Saturday. Jess almost always came on Saturdays.
"Uh, yeah. I'm here."
Sam got up from the chair and left the office, headed towards the living room. Jess waved the phone at him. "We can stop talking using these then, right?"
Sam took the phone away from his cheek and Jess walked forward to give him a kiss in greeting, replacing the chill of the glass phone screen with the touch of her lips.. She then let herself into his room where there still was some of her things in a bag under his bed, her hands moving fluidly to take her long earrings off. She put them next to the jewelry box and Sam almost had a heart attack. He was lucky she didn't open the box and instead knelt next to his bed. But he knew her routine. After all, his apartment was near the place she worked and sometimes she used it when she needed to change her clothes quickly.
He knew she would put the bag out from under his bed, go to the bathroom for a quick shower and then come out wearing her scrubs before moving around the apartment to gather some of the other things she need because, aside from the bag and some other feminine necessities in his bathroom, there were also other things that belonged to her scattered in his apartment. Like the jewelry box where he had stashed the necklace.
The one he knew she would visit last to take some small earrings from it.
"Okay, so there's a problem," Sam started, waving a hand at the box. Jess hummed to prove him she was listening even if her attention was on her hand as it moved under the bed. "Well, the thing is… Uh, there's a— a spider. Yes, that. There's a really big spider inside your jewelry box." It was a lame excuse and he knew it. By the look Jess threw him she thought that, too. "So… I think you shouldn't open it?"
"A spider?" she was giving him the chance to think in something better, he knew. Sam didn't bulge though.
"Yeah, I found it yesterday? I wanted to move it outside but I was too busy and…" He sighed then, and the action sounded almost believable to his ears. He sometimes was glad that he took that improvisation class back in college because it actually helped to his career. It didn't seem to be working now, though. "I put it there because I didn't want to step on it."
. She headed towards it and Sam tensed for a second, thinking she was going to grab it. She didn't though. Sam almost sighed in relief when he noticed she was reaching for her brush instead.
He forced himself to relax when she smiled at him, clearly aware of what her action had caused. Sam answered with a smile of his own. He knew they had broke up a long time ago and that it was weird that some of her things were still scattered around his apartment but he felt lucky they've ended on the good terms they did. Jess had been one of his best friends before they were a couple — he didn't know what would have he done if he didn't have her to talk with.
"I'll take it outside after changing then, you don't have to worry, big boy."
That made Sam blink. He moved towards the box before Jess had the chance to go near it again. "Don't worry about it, you go and take a shower. I'm going to deal with this."
She gave him a curious, amused look, her clean clothes under her arm. Eventually, Jess nodded and left for the bathroom, shaking her head as she did.
Sam opened the box the moment the bathroom door clicked shut behind her. The necklace glinted as soon as he opened it but—thankfully—no blond man appeared when he did. He glanced around. He didn't know where to put it anymore. Jess was observant and Sam didn't want to hide it somewhere he was sure it was going to end up forgotten.
He was still mostly convinced last night had been a fatigue-driven hallucination and this was just him being paranoid.
But a glance toward the table with the weird looking glass from yesterday told him it was pretty much real.
He swallowed and with a determined grip, he picked up the necklace and put it on, letting it fall on top of his shirt. He looked at himself on the reflection of the window in his living room. The necklace was very similar to the one he once gave Dean. When he saw it, it kind of reminded him of the days they were young and played together, ran around the house, racing each other to reach some predetermined finish line. Dean was always at the head, though when they were only a few feet from their goal, he would stop running with all he had and start jogging instead— just long enough to give Sam the opportunity to win. It only made Sam want to train harder so he could beat him fair and square .
Sam stared at the street outside his window. It had been a while since he had jogged. Even now it wasn't as though he would ever win against Dean, but he actually just liked to jog.
He stroked the necklace with his thumb. The texture of it against his skin reminded him why he had bought it in the first place.
"You took the spider out?" Jess asked from the bathroom and Sam tilted his head towards that direction.
"Yeah," he answered quietly, placing the pendant under his shirt, being careful when touching it.
- x -
He was planning to go back to the store where he had bought the necklace and perhaps just leave it there for the owner to deal with, maybe even ask for a refund –though he wasn't too interested in that option— but he couldn't. Not from lack of want but more because he was still new at the law firm as the junior associate he was and he had little time to spend in chores like that. It had amazed him he had the time to actually go to his brother's that day let alone finding that store and venturing inside to buy the necklace.
So without time to spare, Sam found himself forgetting about what had happened. He put the weird looking glass in the corner of his kitchen counter and didn't look at it again. He started to jog again in an attempt to not let the stress overwhelm him and concentrated on his work. He continued with his life and eventually, he even got used to the weight of the necklace against his chest. Even so, Sam still kept looking at the necklace with what he thought was the right amount of wariness every morning when he changed clothes before starting his busy routine. Perhaps he had a little more curiosity than he should.
His brother always said that he was too curious for his own good and maybe he was right because now, when he rested his eyes from the screen of his laptop and looked through the window, he wondered if there were things that might be hidden between the bushes of the small park in front of his apartment. He found himself with the same sensation the man from the MIB movie must have felt after realizing aliens existed. He also tried to look intently at his surroundings in an attempt to catch a glimpse of something else. Everything felt new because, if what happened that day was real and it wasn't another consequence from sleep deprivation then, then what other things might exist out there?
Sam often found himself glancing down at the necklace when similar thoughts invaded him.
He started spending some time just observing the world around him, eyes trailing longer than necessary in what could be a hint of the new world he had saw. Sam began to notice the little things. The sound of leaves rustling as the wind blew through the trees when he walked towards his classes. The way light reflected on the water droplets as his neighbor watered her flowers in the mornings, small rainbows forming on those drops the plants didn't completely soak, making the colors turn into something more rich and bright.
He also felt the freshness in the air every morning when he jogged, the smell of dusty earth and humid, cold wind as it brushed against his face. And he didn't know how to explain but that's how—after almost a week since the incident he still hoped was just a dream—he hadn't got rid of the necklace yet. It seemed to make everything look more special just because of the infinite possibilities it brought.
Sam really wanted to talk with that man again. He looked forward to satiate the curiosity growing in him. He thought a lot about the conversations they could have, even dreamt about it once. More times than he liked to admit, he found himself wanting to grab some piece of cloth and clean the pendant. He always stopped himself though. The desire to do so was big but he didn't know if he was ready to open his world like that. He was afraid.
- x -
"Please tell me those aren't for me?"
Meg placed a new stack of documents on his small desk. "Oh my, you're going to make me think that you don't love my presents anymore."
"Well, your presents tend to be tiring, so don't blame me," Sam sighed as he looked through the papers. "Though I'm a bit surprised you're this late. You usually leave early."
"Yeah, well, I had to bring this to you," she crossed her arms over her chest. "And now I'm one of the last people leaving."
"Anyone could have given me documents," Sam said, grabbing the paper on top of the others. It was from a bank account. His eyes widened as looked at the others and realized some of them held similar information, others were about old cases The Rack, the name of the company they were going against, had under his belt. His gaze slowly went from what it was most likely some impossible information for them to have to Meg's eyes. "This is..."
"Some information I have gotten hold of. Your new work."
Sam raised an eyebrow after the initial stupor passed. "You mean you got Ash to help you with the case?"
"I'm not Ellen; he's not my paralegal. I admit the guy's good, but I've my ways too, you know? I'm not senior partner for nothing." Huffing, she held up a hand at him. "I'm here for the other research about our client, too." A soft, mocking sigh left her lips as she continued, "I'm doing all the work here and you're supposed to be my associate. It doesn't look like it."
Sam scratched the back of his neck as he searched for the files and gave them to Meg. He then pointed the new pile he had now with a finger, "What do you want me to find here?"
She smirked in a way that made Sam wary. "I don't know, you tell me. I'm sure you'll find something. Just make sure to do it quickly."
Sam ran a hand over his face, the motion was tired and he could feel the questioning glance Meg threw him from where she was leaning.
"Don't stay too late today, though. Rest or something; I don't want you to mess up this case. The boss would be on me since I gave you that position, after all."
Sam smiled. Even if his first job in the firm for now was mostly fact-checking and research, it still was against Crowley, the top lawyer of The Rack and one who had gained the title of the king of the crossroads for his ability to make deals with anyone, it was really a good offer to be working on this team now. The experience he was gaining and will continue to gain will be worth it even if he barely had time to spare. "I really appreciate this, you know. Thanks," he said, and really meant it. This was a big case.
"Don't mention it."
Meg raised an eyebrow when Sam only smiled at her.
"I mean it," he insisted.
Sam laughed when Meg rolled her eyes as she turned and walked away. "Don't be the last one here, moose."
- x -
He was the last one in the end.
Well, okay, not the last one, per se. The security was there, too.
Sam should get a life outside the archives room. Papers were spread around him and his back hurt like Hell—every time he sat straight something popped between his shoulder blades. His body felt heavy, ready to fall asleep, and the coffee wasn't helping anymore. He wanted to go home but he really wanted to finish this as soon as possible even if he had to read boring old cases about previous cases The Rack had won and lost. Because it did count as lost if you had to pay a great sum of money to other small companies to shut their mouth, right?
Yawning, Sam took off his glasses before rubbing his face. He leaned back on the chair and his back didn't make any sound; instead, it formed into a knot that sent tension all through his shoulders. Sam groaned in pain and stretched his upper body as much as he could until a pop sounded. A pleased, tired sigh escaped him.
"Fuck, what I would give for a massage," he said as he dropped his arms to his sides, not really hoping for anything, just wanting to whine to the air. But then there were hands on his shoulders and Sam stiffened, his head turning slowly to look behind him.
The weird man was there again and all Sam could think was, It wasn't a dream.
"Shall I give you a massage, master?"
Sam jumped from his seat so fast one of his hands caught on one of the numerous bracelets the man wore. "Crap," he said as he stumbled with the table, breaking the bracelet with the force of the pull and making his coffee mug clatter onto the floor. Pieces of the bracelet scattered over the floor and lay floating in the dark liquid. Sam cursed his long limbs. Sometimes he had the grace of a ballerina (Dean's words, not his); others, he wondered how he was able to walk.
He threw a glance to the stranger who was now kneeling, eyes on the floor. Not looking at his jewelry in the puddle of the spilled coffee.
"If my master wishes, I will—"
"I'm sorry," Sam blurted, also kneeling next to him. He tried to collect the pieces but a knock on the door startled him. His head turned towards it.
"Sir, is everything okay?" a man asked. Sam's eyes returned to the stranger whose gaze hadn't left the floor.
"Crap." Freaking out, Sam stood up, glanced once to the man. "You need to disappear," he said more to himself, but the man blinked up at him and Sam saw in his eyes that he was ready to obey.
"Wait, no! I want to talk to you!" Sam took a quick glance at his surroundings, searching for a good place to hide. "Maybe I can hide you behind the desk and then we can go to my apartment if we leave for the back of—"
Sam ran towards the door after hearing the sound of keys. His brain was already searching for some excuse to give, but there was a familiar sound of ruffled papers and his step faltered as he looked over his shoulder only to find the man already gone. Trying not to look disappointed, Sam put on his best charming smile and opened the door to face the security guards .