Sam had found that the worst nightmares weren't the ones that made him jump awake. At least the ones where he jumped awake, he could escape. No, the worst ones were the ones that finished. The ones that he couldn't get away from until he woke up on his own.

Tonight, the dream hadn't even made sense. He had dreamed he was back at Stanford. Jess was there and they were working on homework. The dream shouldn't have been a problem. Dreams of Jess weren't uncommon. No matter how bad they were, they hadn't left him feeling like this in years. The problem with the dream hadn't been Jess or the setting. It was a feeling. He felt like he needed to find something or someone. It was like something was coming and he had no way to prepare. Or maybe whatever he had been dreading had already happened and he hadn't been prepared.

The dream felt weird. Things were off. He had heard a dog barking down the hall, even though he didn't have a memory of a dog ever being in the dorm. He remembered smelling blood. Yet when he mentioned it, Jess hadn't noticed. It was like he was the only one who realized something was going on. He was the only one who wanted to stop whatever it was that was coming.

Maybe the weirdest thing was that the homework they were doing was what Sam had expected for law school. In the dream it was as if Dean hadn't ever stopped by Stanford to get Sam back in the hunting life.

Sam scrubbed his hand across his face.

The hair was still standing on the back of his neck and he felt tense. He needed to run. He needed to fight. To save. He needed to do something. He didn't have anything to fight and he didn't have anyone to save. Not anymore.

Sam propped himself up on his elbow and switched on the light. It wasn't like he was going back to sleep anyway. He didn't have anything to fight and the only way to change that was to find a case.

Sam pushed himself out of bed even though he knew he hadn't had enough sleep in days. He sat down at the table and pushed open his laptop.

Then he made the mistake of looking around the room.

The only room available when Sam checked in had two queens. (Though Sam had a feeling they were actually fulls.) He'd been careful since Dean had been killed. He'd been careful to get rooms that he and Dean would have never picked. He chose the room furthest from the fire escape. He chose rooms with only one bed. He tried to pick hotels that Dean would have never checked in at. After what happened, Sam had even switched beers. He didn't get the same kind anymore and now the fridge had some kind of IPA that Sam didn't even like. The Impala almost had to go after Dean died because he couldn't even look at the car without hearing Dean. But he knew Dean would have hated it if Sam got rid of it, even if it was only to drop it off at Bobby's for a while. So instead, he added an iPod jack and that made him think of Dean a little less.

Sam put the pieces together and suddenly the dream made sense. He'd finally made a mistake. He got a room with two beds and now he couldn't shut it out.

When Sam had a nightmare when they were kids Dean had always been there to put the pieces back together. And now Dean was gone.

The other bed was empty because Sam had been too slow. He hadn't found out how to get Dean out of his deal. All of his research had meant nothing. Dean still died hearing hounds baying and barking and Sam had stood there watching Dean get pulled apart as the air became thick with the smell of blood. He hadn't been able to fight or save. He hadn't been able to do anything.

So far Sam had been able to put what happened in a box, lock it, and shove it in a dark room in the corner of his mind, shut the door and leave it alone. He'd been able to handle it. Until he rented this stupid hotel room with two stupid beds in a stupid town that didn't even have a stupid case.

Sam stood, covering his mouth with his hand.

Sure, they'd been kids when they made the agreement. The so called "Nightmare Pact." And Sam knew he shouldn't hold Dean to a deal that was made so long ago, but Sam was pissed anyway.

Dean had promised that he would be there every time Sam had a nightmare and he wasn't. Dean wasn't there to fix it as Dean claimed he always would be.

Sam stopped his pacing when he reached the table and flipped it.