The forest behind the barrack they had chosen was quite a bit bigger than Sam had thought. He walked for almost an hour before he came out on the other side. There was a clear path leading through the undergrowth, so finding his way back would not be a big deal, but for now he just needed some alone time as far away from everybody as possible.

What he found on the other side of that patch of forest wasn't what he had expected, though. Considering where they were, he would have expected maybe a field, maybe the foothills of a mountain range or something in that corner. The land stretching out in front of him was flat and he could make out the fence that encircled this compound. There was a slight slope easing away from the edge of the forest and at the foot of that slope was the beginning of a fairly big field of corn. The stems swayed lightly in the breeze, creating the sound of water brushing against the land.

Sam eyed the green expanse for a moment and then his gaze settled on the barn at the back of the field. It looked a bit like the one those hunters had taken Dean to and it made him angry to think about that. He closed his eyes, forced his mind away from that line of thinking, inhaled deeply and let it out in a sigh.

"Calm down," he muttered to himself, drew in another deep breath and started down the slope. There was a path cutting through the cornfield and he followed it out to the barn. The barn doors were closed, but not locked, and he pulled one open and stepped into the relative shelter of the fairly new building. It smelled of hay and fresh wood. He scanned the open area for a moment, then made his way over to a bale of hay and sank down on it. Whatever it was he wanted out here was beyond him right now. An urge he had never felt before had driven him away from other people, which in and off itself was odd because he liked company, always had.

He wrapped his arms around himself and glanced around for a bit, trying to determine what to do about this new-found and disturbing need to be alone.

Sunlight was filtering through cracks in the boards of the walls where dust moths danced in the rays. It was completely silent out here and the stillness soothed him to a degree that was a bit unsettling. Out here he could let his mind wander, could allow himself to think about the things that scared him. Like what he had seen in the mirror when he had faced himself.

When a hand slipped onto his shoulder from behind, the shock over not being alone sent him scurrying away from the bale of hay. With his heart hammering in his chest, he stopped and turned back to face the woman standing there, an almost sultry smile on her lips.

"Well, well, well, look at who we have here," she cooed. Her eyes briefly glowed red. "Sammy Winchester. Alive and doing ... well, not so well, huh?"

"Who the hell are you?" He actually had a fair idea of who she might be, of what she might be doing here, but it made no sense.

She chuckled. "Ah, Sammy. I picked you for the smarter brother. Are you going to prove me wrong?" she cooed. "I need to check up on my investments from time to time, don't I?" She stepped around the bale of hay, her body language oozing sex.

"Stay away from me," he pressed out and backed up a step.

"Oh, don't worry, Sammy. I'll do nothing to hurt you. That would be poor sportsmanship, after all, and ... it would also annul that little deal I made with your brother. How is he, by the way? You Winchesters suffer so well, it makes me impatient to get my hands on him."

"Yeah, well, you're not getting him," Sam shot back at her, unsure of just how he was going to prove that point.

She laughed haughtily at that, seeming genuinely amused. "Oh, Sam. What are you going to do about it, huh? Any interference and you drop dead. Now good old Dean wouldn't want that to happen, would he? So he'll do whatever he can to undermine any plans you have of getting him off the hook," she countered.

"No, he won't. You stated specifically that if he did anything, I would drop dead. So he's not doing anything. I am," Sam countered, slowly regaining his composure and upping the anger to boost his courage.

She eyed him for a moment, then made a face. "Your dedication for each other is so ..." She sneered, "... cloying."

Sam knew he had hit a nerve, which made it obvious that his idea was the right one. She couldn't touch him as long as Dean didn't get involved. "Yeah, well, at least we're there for each other. That's never happened in your twisted little world, has it? Why exactly is it that you lot are so hateful? Don't you have any friends?" He couldn't help himself. Taunting her seemed the right path to take, even though he knew how dangerous it could be to push a demon.

Her eyes glittered red. "Watch it," she snarled.

"Or what?" Sam snapped and took a step forward. "You know, I kinda get the feeling that you're actually a little afraid of me. Why exactly is that, huh? It's not like I have any abilities to kill you or anything." He snorted. "Trust me. If I did, you wouldn't be standing here anymore."

She took a cautious step back, her body language now that of a cornered predator. "If you weren't off limits ..." she started, then smiled hatefully. "If you survive the coming storm, Sam Winchester, I'm coming back for you. Rest assured. You are not in the clear."

That said, she turned and strode away, disappearing through the doors. Sam remained where he was, listening to the restored silence with his heart thumping away in his throat. Off limits? What the hell had she meant by that? Why was he off limits? And then he remembered the dream again and it all started to click into place, to make sense. "Oh god," he whispered. He needed help and bad. Without further thought, he stormed out of the barn and ran as fast as he could back toward the main building.


Dean was going out of his head with concern because he couldn't find Sam anywhere and nobody seemed to know where he was. He had gone as far as finding Lisa and getting her to try and trace Sam with no luck. She had been very specific about the fact that her range was very short, but that didn't put his mind at ease.

Frustrated, Dean trailed around to the back of the main building when he finally spotted his brother, who came hurtling out of the forest behind their barrack as if the devil himself was breathing down his neck.

"Thank god," Dean muttered and stepped in his way.

Sam stopped, a little out of breath, and briefly sent a glance back over one shoulder before he faced Dean. "I need to find George," he finally said.

"No, you need to tell me where the hell you've been. I was worried sick something had happened to you," Dean countered sternly.

Sam narrowed his eyes a little. "Drop the parent routine, Dean. It's not working anymore," he said. "I met your demon. She's checking up on us," he added.

If Sam had punched him in the guts, he couldn't have been more surprised. "What?"

"You heard me," Sam countered. "We need to talk to George. We need to get you out of this deal. As in right now. Because I don't think that bitch is going to wait a year before she sinks her claws into you."

Dean could feel the color draining from his face. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Dean, stay with me here, okay? You need to get the hell out of this deal. Right now. I've heard that demons can't access this area, but she did. She was here. And she's eager like hell to get a hold of you. And ..." He trailed off, his expression darkening.

"And what?" Dean felt left behind right now. He couldn't really keep up with Sam's way of thinking. The whole thing had rattled him badly already and the thought that this bitch was coming after him ahead of time made him anxious like hell. "And what, Sam? What did she say?"

"I'm not safe even if she does get you," Sam countered quietly. "She said she was coming after me if I survived the coming storm. I don't think she has any intention of honoring this deal."

"Shit," Dean hissed. "Shit, shit, shit!" He kicked at a stone that tumbled across the ground until it hit another, bigger stone and came to a stop. "Bobby called while you were out. He said that George has a similar background to yours, but that he dropped out of sight for a while and then came back. Bobby thinks something's not right about him and we should be careful. Sam, I don't think we can trust this guy after all. I think it might be best if we just got the hell out while we still can."

Sam eyed him for a moment. "I don't know, Dean. I know Bobby means well, but I really think he's a little too paranoid sometimes. He's not a hunter, after all. He knows a lot, sure, but ..."

Dean ran all ten fingers through his hair in a sign of utter frustration. "Aw man. Why the hell can't anything ever be easy?" he hissed.

"Dean, so far George hasn't told us any lies. We haven't heard his story yet, which means he might be on the level and Bobby might just be a tad too nervous about this whole thing. Ever since you made that deal, he's been on edge. And I'm getting there fast too. We need to find a way to get you out of this deal and George seems to be the way to do it. Please. Let's just stick around for one more day, get his side of the story." Sam was begging now and that was never a good sign.

Every single fiber of Dean's body told him to get the hell out before this turned ugly, but when Sam pulled the puppy-routine on him, he usually lost the fight. "I don't know, Sammy. We can't risk it. What if he turns out to be in lead with the damned demon or something? What if this is ..."

"Dean, stop it," Sam demanded. "You're the one who was all for this place from the get-go. Don't do a one-eighty on me, man. Not now."

"Sam," Dean tried, but couldn't think of anything to say that might make a difference.

"Is something wrong?"

They both turned to face George, who had just turned up out of nowhere. Dean eyed him for a moment, then glanced at Sam. "Nope, nothing wrong," he said before Sam could say anything.

Sam gave him a glare, then returned his attention to Dean. "Yes, there's something wrong," he said.

Dean sneered, but knew he was overruled. He'd have a word with Sam about when they were alone, but right now he settled for sighing angrily and folding his arms over his chest.

George glanced at him, then returned his attention to Sam. "Like what?" he asked.

Sam shifted uncomfortably, which indicated that he wasn't happy about overruling Dean. "I was just down at the other end, at the barn," he said. "And ... well ... there was a demon there."

George eyed him seriously. "That's not possible. This area has been demon-free for the past two hundred and fifty years at least," he said.

"Well, I saw her and she was definitely a demon," Sam countered, his tone taking on a familiar lilt. He was ticked off at not being believed.

George obviously heard that change in his tone, because he frowned lightly. "Are you sure?" he asked.

Sam nodded, his expression a bit tense.

George made a face. "That is not good news," he said. "That means that someone here has the ability to let a demon in."

Dean stared at him for a second, then glanced at Sam who was watching George with a somewhat unreadable expression. "Someone who can control demons?" he asked.

"No, not control," George countered while never taking his eyes off Sam. "Is there something you boys haven't told me? About yourselves, I mean?"

Dean glanced at Sam again, wondering what exactly his brother had told this man. Sam glanced at him, briefly, then made a face.

"Has Lisa talked to you?" Dean asked, taking over the conversation.

George eyed him for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, briefly," he said. "She mentioned a deal that you are at the receiving end of."

So she had blabbed. But perhaps she had not told George everything? Perhaps she didn't know everything. It had crossed his mind that her ability might be to read his mind right here and now. Maybe she didn't know what the deal was about.

"Is there something you want to tell me?" George asked quietly.

Sam glanced at Dean and Dean could tell Sam was anxious to tell George the truth. So much so that his brother was very close to fidgeting. Dean sighed and let his shoulders sag a little, an indicator to Sam that he could say whatever he saw fit. "Dean made a deal with a crossroad demon because ..." Sam began, but stopped. He looked uncomfortable, almost in physical pain.

"Because Sam had been killed," Dean finished for him. "And I just couldn't let that happen."

Dean had expected some type of violent reaction to this confession; like anger or horror, but George just stared at him. "You sold your soul to get Sam back?" he asked quietly and Dean assumed the reaction would come once the disbelief had withdrawn, so he nodded. "To a crossroad demon?" Again, Dean nodded. "How did Sam ..." George tried, but trailed off while a slight frown furrowed his brow.

"Long story short, the demon. It pitted all the special kids against each other, set them up so they would kill each other. But Sammy here didn't want to kill anyone, so he ended up having his spine severed," Dean said, keeping his tone flat and unemotional even while his insides were boiling over with emotion. "That freaking bastard has taken everything else from me. I wasn't going to give up on Sam too," he added without thinking.

Sam glanced at him, surprise in his eyes. But he said nothing.

George nodded solemnly. "Well, I can understand your reasoning," he said. "Making a deal with a demon isn't the right path to take, of course, but ... I take it the circumstances did not exactly offer any other way out of that situation."

For a long moment all Dean did was to eye this man, who understood him like none other ever had before, and even though he was still doubtful about this whole setup, his immediate urge to run, to get the hell out of here, tapered off. "Exactly," he finally said.

"Well, we'll have to see what we can do to get you out of this deal, Dean," he said and then turned his attention back to Sam. "And I think ... no, I know, who the conduit is," he added. "It's you, Sam."

"What?" Sam stared at him, then glanced at Dean and took a step back.

Dean grabbed his arm. "Take it easy," he warned. "What do you mean, he's the conduit?"

"If you were brought back from the dead by a demon, Sam, there is no doubt in my mind that the yellow-eyed demon has had a hand in that. Without knowing for sure, I am almost positive that you brought something extra back with you. What it is ... well, we don't know yet, do we?"

George's demeanor was non-threatening in every way, which was probably the only reason for that Sam didn't bolt right there and then. The kid looked horrified, but there was something else there too, something Dean could identify only as realization. Sam glanced at Dean, then looked away, guilt in his eyes.

"We have to protect you from the demon somehow, Sam. If you are a conduit ... and I'm fairly certain of this ... then it has access to you even here and that is not good news. Not for you and not for anyone else hiding here," George continued.

Dean raised a hand. "Wow," he said, stopping George before he could say anything else. "Uh ... the demon ... it's dead," he said and glanced briefly at his brother, who was staring off into space, apparently not paying attention right now.

George nodded. "I know. Sam told me," he said. "The problem is ... when that crossroad demon brought Sam back, I think it's fair to assume that the yellow-eyed demon had a hand in that ... as I said before. And I think that its influence might have been a kind of ... life insurance."

"Life insurance?" Dean asked. He felt Sam's arm tense under his grip. "What the hell does that mean?"

George glanced from Sam to Dean and then back again. "As I said, I know nothing for sure, but if I'm right ... the demon is not gone. Its essence lives in Sam and the only reason for that it has not yet broken out is because you're here, in Perdition. This place has a preemptive influence on demons and their ways. But by being a conduit, Sam gives other demons access to this place. And we have to put a stop to that."

Dean tightened his grip on Sam's arm when Sam pulled back another step. "How?" he asked.

"That is something I will have to research," George said. "Until then, I would be more comfortable if Sam at least moved into the main manor," he added. "Just as a precaution."

Dean glanced back at Sam, who's expression could be called stony right now. "Sam?"

Sam swallowed and briefly met his eyes. "He's right," he finally said, his voice breaking. "The dream I had last night. It was about the demon coming back. And ..."

"And what?" Dean prompted when Sam trailed off.

A slight tremble rippled through Sam. "My eyes ... were yellow ... this morning," he muttered.