In Another Dimension
Kane’s office is located one floor up in a complex of rooms that contains many FBI bureaucrats and their personal assistants. AD Kane’s assistant, Briana Buckmaster, a capable blond woman who looks like she would be just as comfortable working a case out in the field as behind a desk, smiles when he and Misha walk through the door.
“You can go right in. He’s waiting for you,” she says.
Kane is standing at his floor-to-ceiling window, arms crossed, watching the traffic flow by on the busy street below. He turns as they enter, trademark scowl firmly in place. “I have a new case for you.” As usual, his tone is clipped and commanding. Only a fool would argue with him. Well, either a fool or Misha Collins.
“But we’re still wrapping up the Vanessa Wall case. Our suspect is being held by local law enforcement pending a hearing. It wasn’t the cat; in case you were wondering. Also, there is a mountain of paperwork to fill out. Another case so soon seems premature.” Misha lays out his facts calmly, head tilted to the side.
Kane’s eyes narrow as he takes a step forward to rest his hand on a file lying on his desk. “Premature or not, I think you’ll want this one. Two dead, Mr. and Mrs. Tomas, found in their suburban home. Cause of death: asphyxiation. Method: undetermined. Local police are stumped.” He looks over at Jensen, steely gaze unwavering. “It fits the pattern.”
Jensen’s heart skips a beat and then races as though trying to make up for the temporarily lost blood flow. “Can I see?” he asks, holding out his hand for the file.
Kane doesn’t answer, just gives the file a push closer to him.
Sweeping the slender file up, Jensen starts leafing through the meager contents - crime scene photos, transcripts from interviews with neighbors who saw nothing unusual, the coroner’s report. He’s looking for one thing in particular, one piece of evidence that will link these deaths to the deaths of his parents.
He can feel two sets of blue eyes watching him, one set stormy and brooding, the other concerned and wary. They both know what he’s looking for. The one thing that will give him hope and fuel his desire for...what? Closure? Revenge? Peace? Sanity? All of the above? He strives to hold himself together, remain cool and collected. Christian wouldn’t have called them in here like this if he hadn’t already seen what Jensen is looking for. It’s here, he just has to find it for himself, pick it out from the random collection of facts and conjecture.
His expression must change, betray his emotions despite his effort at masking them, because Kane says, “You found it,” with a curt nod of his head.
“Found what?” asks Misha, caution making his words come out deadpan.
Jensen flicks the lab report he’s looking at with his thumb and middle finger. “Here, look.” He holds the report out for his partner to read, unable to speak further for fear of the tremor he knows will rend his voice.
Misha takes the page, eyes scanning it quickly. “Substance of unknown origin found at the crime scene,” he reads out loud. “Description of substance: Black, viscous fluid, greasy in texture with adhesive qualities.”
The words spawn a flashback - black goo stuck to his arm, on his mother’s nose, around his father’s mouth - and the effort to suppress it makes him dizzy. He gropes for the nearest chair and finds it a second before his legs give out.
A forceful hand pushes his head down. “Put your head between your legs. Breathe. Don’t pass out on me, Ackles,” Kane says.
The dizziness passes as quickly as it came. Jensen shakes off his boss’ hand. “I’m fine,” he rasps.
Misha presses a bottle of water into his hand. Where he got it from, Jensen doesn’t know, doesn’t care. Twisting off the cap, he swallows several mouthfuls in rapid succession. His hands are shaking and he needs his music, needs to blast it straight into his brain, mainline it like heroin.
Such a pretty boy...you shine so bright...want you
Jensen jumps up. “Can we...when can we go?” He doesn’t even know where the deaths took place, where they’ll be going. It doesn’t matter.
“I’ll have Ms. Buckmaster book your flights for first thing in the morning. Go back to your office, finish your paperwork, then go home and pack. And get some sleep, idiot.” Kane puts a hand on his shoulder propelling him out of the office. To a casual observer, it probably looks like Kane is an uncaring bastard, but Jensen feels the unspoken friendship coming through the contact.
Misha’s footsteps behind him hesitate and he hears Kane’s grumbled baritone saying, “Take care of him Collins. He’s the best agent I’ve got.”
Dusk shrouds his house in a soft, ambient glow by the time he gets home that evening. Cars line the street in front, a total of four, leaving the driveway free for him. All four of his housemates must already be home. It’s somewhat unusual for all five of them to be here this early on a workday. Ty’s job as a nurse and his erratic schedule at the hospital don’t allow for much leisure time. Then there’s AJ the perpetual student who is still taking graduate classes at Howard University during the day and moonlighting as a bartender at a trendy restaurant at night. Felicia works out of the NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. as an independent IT contractor. Her schedule varies on a project by project basis. Danneel is the only one of them with normal nine to five hours.
Toeing off his shoes, Jensen pads toward the living room where he hears talking. Conversation stops as four sets of eyes turn to regard him at the same time. Felicia, Ty and Danneel are all siting on the large sectional couch. AJ is perched on a chair he must have dragged in from the kitchen dining area. First to recover from the awkward silence, Ty says, “I’m glad you’re home. Do you have a minute?”
Jensen takes a guarded step further into the room, suspiciously looking at each of his friends. If he had to label their current expressions, he’d say Felicia looks guilty, Danneel anxious, Ty seems resolves and AJ bored. “I guess so. What’s this about? What are you guys up to?” Usually, he’d be happy to have them all here. More people mean more commotion, and more commotion means more diversions, which all adds up to peace and serenity in Jensen’s screwed-up head. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like a fun time. In fact, the way they’re sitting there, staring at him makes it look like...oh hell no!
Jensen turns around and storms back to the front door. As he tries to get his shoes on, Ty catches up to him, blocking his path. The burly man is faster than his size would let on. “Please brother, hear us out,” he pleads. “We just wanna talk to you. We’re worried about you is all.”
“An intervention? You guys are seriously staging an intervention? What the ever-loving-fuck, man?” Jensen lashes out. He doesn’t want to deal with this shit. Not tonight when he’s already repressing and denying with everything he’s got in him. Ever since reading about the black goo found at the Tomas residence, Jensen has been fending off attacks. The voice has been relentless, demanding, downright brutal.
Ty has the good grace to flinch in the face of Jensen’s fury. Mustering his courage, he places a hand on Jensen’s upper arm. “There’s obviously something bothering you. C’mon, open up to us, maybe we can help.”
Jensen’s anger recedes from full-on boil to a low simmer. He pinches the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, squeezing his eyes shut against the headache that has sprouted fully-formed inside his skull. Reluctantly, he allows Ty to pull him back into the living room. He gives his friends a wan smile and sits in the recliner they’ve conspicuously left empty for him. “Okay, you want me to play along? I’ll play along. Who wants to start?”
AJ stops puttering around with his phone, lying it face down on his thigh.
Felicia tucks her feet up underneath herself and fidgets with the sofa pillow she has clutched to her chest. “I know this is unfair. It must seem like we’re ganging up on you. That’s not what this is. Please, don’t be mad at us.” She looks at him with big, Bambi eyes. Her lower lip trembles.
The last of his anger gutters and is extinguished similar to a campfire doused by a bucket of water. Fuck, talk about unfair. Now he doesn’t even have the shield of his anger to protect him. He slumps in the recliner, resigned. “Fine, I’m not mad. What is it you wanted to talk about?”
Ty sits down on the couch between Danneel and Felicia, elbows on his knees. Apparently, he’s the designated speaker because he starts right in. “Like I said, we’re worried about you. There’s a darkness hanging over you, brother. You hide it well, but we’ve all noticed the sleepless nights, the restless, almost manic behavior. There’s no shame in asking for help.”
Jensen groans internally. They think he’s manic depressive or bipolar. Just like back in the Home. They’ll want him to see a shrink and take meds that make him feel like a zombie. Well, they can forget that shit, he’s not doing that again. Fight or flight response makes him want to bolt from the room, but his higher reasoning capabilities kick in, guiding him along a path that, while risky, might work to salvage his friendships. In the Home, he’d told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him god. That’s what got him into trouble there. Ever since then he has hidden the truth behind stoicism and a carefree facade that has been slipping of late. Neither of those two approaches work in the long run. Besides, his friends deserve at least a partial version of the truth, as much truth as he thinks they can handle before they have him committed.
Taking a deep breath, he says, “My parents were killed when I was fifteen years old. I’m the one who found them.” He goes on to tell his story, carefully omitting anything to do with the shadow monster or the voice that has tormented him ever since. He describes the suspicion that followed him everywhere he went, how his sister was afraid of him, how his aunt didn’t want anything to do with him. He relays the years he spent in the Home, as he calls it, the capital H well deserved in his opinion. The Home was where he lived after his parents died, a place with other teenagers that no one wanted, the misfits, the freaks. And he was the freakiest of the bunch. He even tells them about Jared. His housemates sit silently through the entire story, giving him their rapt attention. Even AJ loses his air of boredom. At the end of his monologue, Jensen looks down at his hands twisted in his lap. “So, I know I’m messed up. I know I’m a freak. But I’ve had enough therapy to last a lifetime and I swear to you, I’m not a danger to myself or others.” His delivery is way off. What he’d meant as a joke to lighten the mood elicits not a single chuckle.
A heartbeat later, Danneel flies off the couch and crashes against his chest, slender arms around his neck. “You aren’t a freak. You aren’t! I don’t ever want to hear you talk about yourself like that again.”
Over Danneel’s head, Jensen can see tear tracks running down Felicia’s pixie-like face.
“Hey,” he says softly. “I’m okay. It was a long time ago.”
Ty pulls Felicia into a hug, offering comfort. She goes willingly.
AJ opens his mouth, closes it, opens it again. “I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but did they ever find out who killed your parents? People don’t just drop dead for no reason and you said yourself someone killed them.”
Danneel pulls away to glower at AJ. “Insensitive much?”
Jensen applies pressure to his temples where the worst of his headache has set up residence. “No, the killer was never found. I may be onto something though. This new case I’m on may be the breakthrough I’ve been looking for.” Damn, that’s more than he’d planned on saying. This headache is making it hard to concentrate.
“Wait. Breakthrough? Have you been searching for the murderer all this time?” AJ leans forward in his chair, reaching a hand up to adjust his heavy, dark-rimmed glasses.
Jensen considers AJ for a moment, the man he’d met at a symposium at Howard University about a year ago. About ten or so years older than the rest of them, AJ is the most recent member of the little family Jensen has cobbled together. Brash and somewhat egotistical, AJ shares Jensen’s interest in all things scientific. Although most of his studies lie in the realm of quantum physics, he has a basic understanding of string theory. In fact, the symposium where they met had been about string theory and how it may be used to prove that extra dimensions exist. Jensen has occasionally considered talking to AJ about his beliefs that beings from alternate dimensions can and have crossed over into their dimension. If any of his friends might understand, it would be AJ. But, his fear of rejection and ridicule has always stopped him. No, Christian and Misha are the only ones he’s told since adulthood and he’s sworn them both to absolute secrecy. Whatever they personally believe about his motives, they seem to respect him enough as a colleague not to bust his balls over his crazy ideas.
“Off and on, yeah,” Jensen responds to AJ’s question. “It’s the main reason I joined the FBI. Even if I never get my parents the justice they deserve, at least I can help other people find closure. The job is satisfying in that sense.
“And you’re damn good at it too,” Danneel pronounces emphatically. She gives him another hug before returning to the couch.
Warmth spreads through him. He has the most awesome friends ever. He’s not certain he’s worthy of their support, especially since he hasn’t been one hundred percent honest. Then again, experience has taught him what happens when he’s totally honest with his friends and he’s not willing to take that risk.
Ty kisses the top of Felicia’s head and gives her shoulder a final pat as she scoots back to her original position on the couch. Wiping her wet cheeks with the back of her hand, she says, “What can we do to help you, Tigger?”
“You guys do more for me than you know, just by being here. I’m not great at talking about, you know, my,” he grimaces, “feelings or whatever.”
That gets a chuckle from Danneel and a “Tell me about it,” from Ty. Felicia rolls her eyes.
“It helps knowing you’re nearby, that I’m not...alone.” Jensen waves a hand around in the air dismissively. “Okay, can we stop now? This sucks.”
“One more thing before we give this subject a rest,” Ty speaks up. “Forgive me for sounding like a medical PSA, sometimes its hard to ditch the profession.” He quirks his lips in a self-deprecating smile. “But listen, man, these bouts of insomnia aren’t healthy. I’m not even sure how you function half the time. I know you say you don’t like to take pills so sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication are probably out for you.” He pauses as though he wants to make sure he’s right.
Jensen nods. “I hate the way pills make me feel.” What he doesn’t tell them is that pills leave him defenseless against the voice’s attacks, not to mention the nightmares.
“Alright, but have you considered meditation or hypnosis? Both methods have decent success rates in helping people who suffer from insomnia.”
The thought of opening himself up enough for hypnosis to be effective or meditation for that matter makes his skin crawl, goosebumps popping out all up and down his arms. He puts a hand over his mouth and scratches the stubble on his cheeks and chin, hoping it looks like he’s pondering the merits of hypnosis and not like he’s afraid he’s about to blow chunks.
The thing is, he’s never been able to figure out why he hears the monster’s voice inside his head. Not definitively. He has his theories, mostly formed from the things the voice say to him, but questions remain. Did the monster do something to him when he rammed his shoulder into it? When they came into contact with each other did their minds link? Was a bridge forged between them? Is the Shadow actually talking to him, or does a part of the creature live inside him? Where does the voice originate? The Shadow? Or him? With those questions swirling through his brain, Jensen can’t imagine anything good coming of hypnosis.
Putting a hand on his left shoulder, he tries to rub some of the age-old ache out of it. “My main method of coping is to keep going, keep moving, don’t think too much. Hell, I figure since I don’t sleep much, I can get that much more stuff done. Isn’t everybody always complaining that they don’t have enough hours in the day to do what they want? I’m lucky, I’ve got what everyone else wants.” He shrugs, like there’s nothing more to it. “So, anyone else hungry? We could order a couple pizzas and play Rock Band while we wait for them to come.”
Ty huffs, seemingly unconvinced, but then he relents. “I get to play drums this time.”
Felicia pulls out her phone to place the order with their favorite pizza joint.
AJ cocks his head and says. “Where is this new case you’re on?”
“Lexington,” Jensen replies. “We leave first thing tomorrow.”
AJ nods, a far-away look in his eyes.
The flight to Lexington Kentucky the next morning is uneventful, clear skies and little to no turbulence. Jensen needs a distraction and Misha is usually good for providing them. A question occurs to him. He turns to his partner who is sitting next to him, both of them crammed into airplane seats with too little leg room. “Who takes care of Tony and Maria when you go out of town on a case?”
Misha side-eyes him, continues examining the contents of the seat back pocket in front of him. “One of the wonderful things about sea monkeys is they don’t need much care. They can take care of themselves for the most part.” He sits back, trying in vain to stretch his legs out and then giving up with a grunt. “I must say that I was reticent to leave them this time, however.”
“Why’s that? Did something happen to them?”
“Oh no, nothing drastic. Only...Maria wasn’t her normal playful self. Typically, I chat with them while drinking my coffee and this morning Maria was a bit green around the gills, lethargic. Tony was beside himself with worry. It’s not like her at all.”
“Umm...” Jensen is unsure how to respond to that. There are many things he could ask, like how one might go about chatting with an underwater animal. He settles for, “Do you think she needs to see a vet?”
Misha turns a serious face toward him, brows drawn. “You mean a sea monkey doctor?”
“Um yeah, that.”
Misha hums thoughtfully. “Not yet. I talked Tony into waiting until I get back. If she’s the same or worse by then, we’ll make sure she sees a doctor.” Misha scrapes a hand over his scruffy chin. “What about you, did you follow orders and get some sleep last night? You look like shit, Jense.”
“Gee thanks.” Of course, he hadn’t slept. How could he? Memories of his encounter with the thing that killed his parents and the godforsaken days that followed their deaths plagued him all night long. Not to mention the wonderful therapy session his housemates had forced upon him. After convincing them he was okay and was turning in for the night, he’d waited until they were all asleep and then proceeded to prowl around his house like a guard dog protecting its territory, constantly alert for intruders. “I slept like a log,” he says. “Never better. Now, shouldn’t we discuss the case? Where do you think we should start?”
The deflection works to some degree. Misha arches an eyebrow, lips flattened in a straight line, a look that clearly says, ‘you’re not fooling me’, but then he sighs and goes along with the topic change. “Our flight gets in at 10:30, assuming our rental is ready and waiting for us, we can be on the road by 11:00. That gives us plenty of time to begin our investigation today.” He takes a sip of ginger ale from the small plastic cup on his tray. “We’ll need to check in with the Lexington Police Department first thing. Let them know we’ve arrived and see if we can talk to the officers in charge of the case. Maybe they’ve found something new or can give us some insights they didn’t put into their report.”
Jensen nods. Sometimes with the more bizarre cases, the ones with pieces that don’t fit together or unexplained phenomena, those parts that don’t make sense don’t make it into the official report. Talking to the officers involved in person will often uncover those hidden details that make all the difference in solving the case. “After that we should check in with the ME. I want more information on the unidentified substance they found on the bodies.” More than that, Jensen wants to see it for himself, compare it to his memories from that night. “It’s the same, Mish, the same as the stuff they found on me, on my parents. I’d bet my life on it.”
“Jense,” Misha cautions. “I know you’re hoping this case will give you the answers you’re looking for. I know you need a fresh lead. There hasn’t been anything substantial for a while now. But please, don’t get yourself all worked up. Last time-”
“Yeah, yeah, I remember,” Jensen cuts him off, angrier than he has a right to be. Last time, meaning a case they’d worked about a month and a half ago, Jensen had been positive the shadow creature was involved. So much so that when it turned out to be something else entirely, he’d fallen into a deep depression. His despondency had even rivaled the time he’d spent in the Home.
“All I’m saying is,” Misha lowers his voice to a barely audible hiss, “your theory about interdimensional monsters is difficult to prove. You may never find the lead you need. You may never find this shadow thing you say is out there.” Jensen opens his month, but Misha holds up a finger, forestalling his protest. “Let me finish. I believe you, I do. After all the unexplainable things we’ve seen, I’d be an imbecile not to. And I’m with you on this all the way, whatever you decide. You want to continue following up on every obscure case that comes across Kane’s desk? I’m there. You can count on me. But maybe it’s time to focus on finding another way to get that fucking voice out of your head. I hate seeing what it does to you.” Sincerity softens Misha’s expression. “It’s destroying you.”
Jensen deflates, all the anger running out of him like water from a punctured water balloon. Unshed tears sting his eyes. He looks around to see if any of the other passengers seem interested in their whispered conversation. No one is paying them the slightest attention. “There is no other way. I have to find it, kill it, send it back to whatever dimension it came from. I don’t know yet what it will take. All I know is, destroying the monster is the key to getting rid of the voice. There’s no other way.”
Link to Chapter 6
Link to the Master Post