Day 16: Self-Portrait

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 16: Self-Portrait
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 16 of 100
Rating: Overall Rating Sup13+ (some elements might be too intense or scary for those under 13; includes bad language)
Dates: Begun September 2006. Some material is based on previously written stories from 2003-2005.
Word Count: 2,971
Summary: Sam begins researching to figure out the identity of the artist in his nightmare. He gets help from an unexpected source.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #16 Evil and [info]Coclaim100 Prompt #16 Books.
Author's Notes: Not beta'ed. If anyone wants to look over the remaining chapters, even if it's just this one, I'd really appreciate it.
Cross-over with the tv show "Supernatural." Set pre-series. To my knowledge, they never mentioned what Jessica's major was, so I gave her one.


        Sam Winchester didn't hunt anymore.

        So why was he currently in the Stanford library looking through books on Greek mythology, trying to find the meaning of the name Heptamera?

        Sam wanted to be spiteful. He wanted to say "Screw him," and just let his father fend for himself. After all, isn't that what he'd done to Sam? It wasn't like John Winchester wasn't a badass in his own right; he could handle this case just like any other.

        But Dean... Sam was afraid for Dean.

        The dream he'd had made him feel as if his brother could be a real target here for reasons he did not fully understand yet.

        Leaving Dean out there with no advance knowledge of the case, defenseless... well, his heart wasn't in it. Sam could thumb his nose at his father, but he couldn't allow Dean to be hurt in the fight against the latest evil being. Dean needed a leg up.

        So far, Sam had found only one small blurb in a book about ancient Greek monsters. Heptamera, the Daemon of Seven Days, Guardian of the Mediterranean Sea. A daemon... not even a demon. A creature that pre-dated demons. Daemons were considered intermediaries between gods and man. Sam wondered for a brief moment if his dad could even handle this one. Would he and Dean have to take the thing on, or just his "bride," as the woman had called herself? Seems the daemon demanded tribute from the villagers of various Greek isles every seven days or he'd wreak a terrible wrath upon them. It was rumored that Heptamera raped comely young women who ventured too far into his waters. Some hybrid children may have been born.

        Well, Sam could pretty much call this more than a myth with some conviction...

        Then it hit him. Was there a connection between the girls who had spoken to him through the television and the other dream that he'd had, of Heptamera's bride? If she was the bride... were these "sisters" Heptamera's children?

        A hand being smacked down on the table startled Sam out of his thoughts. A friend of his from one of his English classes snickered at him. "Did I scare ya?"

        "Hey, Henry. Yeah, a little." He may have been given an English name, but Henry was Chinese. Sam wondered if he'd be able to help. "You know an Asian language or two, don't you?"

        "Yeah. Do you need to know something?" Henry looked at the books spread out before Sam on the table. "Studying a lot of books, huh? You're always doing that," he said with amusement.

        "I just like to learn new things." Sam took a piece of paper from his pocket. On it, he'd written the foreign phrase one of the sisters had uttered, to the best of his recollection. "I heard a phrase in a movie the other night in some language I don't know. They didn't subtitle it, and it's been driving me crazy."

        "What did it sound like?"

        "Asian."

        Henry let out a small laugh and sat down next to Sam. "There are a lot of Asian languages, Sam."

        "I know, but I don't know any," he said with a grin. "I would guess it was Japanese. Sounded something like the Japanese I've heard in the past."

        "What's the phrase?"

        Jessica Moore hadn't seen Sam Winchester since the Christmas party. Now, there he was, sitting at a table with another student, chatting about languages. She wanted to go over and say hi, but needed it to sound casual, like she hadn't been thinking about him as much as she had. Especially on the days when she and Craig fought. Sam was one of the biggest guys Jessica had ever known, but remarkably, he sometimes looked so small in those hoodies and layers of shirts he always wore. Often, she wondered if he was trying to hide from something.

        Sam was now saying, "Shi... kata... nai ga... something..." and Jessica stepped a little closer to better hear their conversation.

        "Shikata ga nai ne?" Henry said questioningly.

        "Yeah, I think that was it. What's it mean?"

        "It's basically the Japanese equivalent of the phrase, 'So be it.' If that's the way you want it, it can't be helped. Like a verbal shrug," explained Henry.

        "Ohhh..." Sitting back, Sam sighed. It made sense. Sam wouldn't do what the Heptamera girls told him to, so they wrote him off and left him with the consequences. 'If that's the way you want it. So be it.' At least, the one who spoke Japanese felt that way toward him.

        "Does that make sense?" Henry asked.

        Sam nodded. "Yeah, it does. Thanks."

        "I wish I knew more Japanese. All I know is 'arigato.'"

        Sam and Henry both looked up. The expression of pure delight that came to Sam's face made Jessica's heart leap. He was happy to see her! He was practically ecstatic to see her. A few seconds later, Sam tried to dial down the over-bright smile she had brought out of him, but he didn't hide it completely. "Well, hi, Jessica! I haven't seen you in a while."

        Jessica grinned back, tossing her long hair over one shoulder.

        Henry looked from one person to the other. They were practically beating him over the head with the fact that they were attracted to each other, with all the "oh my God it's YOU!" smiles and enthusiastic greetings. Henry smirked. "Hey Jessica."

        Jessica slid into a seat at the end of the table, a few chairs away from Sam. Not a good idea to be too overeager. She dumped her books on the table in front of her and flashed Sam a flirtatious smile.

        How could he resist such a beautiful face... "As long as you're here, Jess, maybe you'll be able to help me with something else..."

        "Try me." She was just happy to have an excuse to stay.

        "I heard that Japanese in a movie I watched the other night. It was, you know, sort of an artsy movie..."

        "What was it called?"

        "Um... I'll have to get back to you on that one." Sam laughed lightly. He couldn't tell her the whole truth.

        Jessica just enjoyed listening to his cute laugh.

        Sam continued. "Anyway, there were these two images they used throughout the movie that I know I've seen somewhere before, but I can't for the life of me pinpoint where. They reminded me of oil paintings."

        "Oil paintings of what?" Jessica questioned.

        "Paintings? Oh God, art." Henry leaned his head back on his chair, closed his eyes, and pretended to snore.

        "Just ignore him," she joked, although she meant it. The only thing better than hanging out with your crush was having a deep conversation with him. "Paintings of what?"

        "Two women. I thought you might recognize them because we had that Art History class together last semester. Isn't that your major?"

        He remembered! Jessica nodded with a knowing grin.

        "The first image was of a dark-haired woman brushing her hair in an oval mirror. And the second was a girl with blond hair riding a black horse across a beach on an overcast day," Sam said, describing the two images that had flashed across his television while he spoke with the sisters.

        Instant recognition in her eyes, Jessica knew that she'd be able to help Sam solve his quandary. She said, "I think I've seen these paintings before," and excitedly flipped to the back of one of her Art History textbooks.

        Henry watched silently, amused with how much they liked each other, but how reluctant they were to admit it. After all, Jessica was supposed to still be with Craig.

        Jessica found the artist's name she'd been searching for in the index, then fanned through the pages to that chapter. "Here," she said, and pointed to a two-page section. "Alexandra Baptiste."

        There was the dark-haired woman brushing her hair in a painting entitled The Mirror in the Hall. The oval mirror was off-center, far to the right side. "That's it," he confirmed. "Alexandra Baptiste?"

        "Yes. She's not a well-known artist, but she did enjoy some popularity in the late 1700's. A Greek woman who lived during the time of the occupation of the Ottoman Empire." Flipping the page, Jessica showed him a few more of the paintings reproduced in the book. One was of a blond girl riding a black horse across a beach, but from further away than Sam had seen her on the TV. In the foreground, the artist had painted part of another girl's arm and side; her fist was balled up in what could be assumed was anger or tension. She seemed to be watching the girl ride by on the horse, and was much closer to the viewer. This one was titled One Regret.

        "She was Greek, huh?" Sam tried not to show how much this disturbed him, that this artist was probably the woman in his dream. He looked over some of the other paintings. "What else do you know about her?" Sam asked Jessica.

        With a small shrug, she replied, "Not a lot. I read the chapter a while ago, but only so much sticks in your head. She was one of the most notable Greek artists of that time period, especially since she was a woman. This is only a couple pages on Baptiste; to tell you more, I'd have to get a book on just her. I seem to remember that she was considered quite eccentric. Like Dali, except spooky-eccentric." Jessica wiggled her upright fingers and imitated a Theremin. "Ooooh-weeeee-oooooh."

        "How so?" asked Sam with dread. He thought he knew why.

        "There's a little bit here about it." Jessica, pointing it out in the book, continued, "Baptiste claimed that she got the subjects of her paintings by entering into a deep hypnotic rapport with a spiritual being from the sea. Isn't that wild?"

        Henry scoffed and said, "Methinks Alexandra was partaking of the funny little papers a little too much."

        "Yeah." Sam tried to laugh it off, so it wouldn't seem like he believed it.

        Playing a little bit of matchmaker, Henry casually threw in, "Well, you really saved Sam today, huh Jessica? It's like you two are perfect for each other." He took a dramatic pause. "I mean, it's like you came along at the perfect time."

        Jessica fell silent, blushing furiously. She glared at her mischievous "helper."

        Sam would have reacted, but he was too focused on the book. On the second page, he saw a painting that didn't surprise him much - it was the woman from his dream. Her lace cloak covered her head. Long black hair cascaded out from under it on either side of her face, on which she wore a menacing smile. She seemed to be gazing out of the painting.

        Sam had expected this.

        Looking over his shoulder, Henry shuddered at the woman's gaze. "It's like her eyes follow you," he commented.

        The painting was entitled, Self-Portrait.

*****

        A tiny smile remained on Sam's lips for the rest of the afternoon despite the fact that he wouldn't let himself rely on Jessica's word that she would be back. She'd said she was going to go ask one of her professors for a recommendation of books about Alexandra Baptiste and then would meet him at his dorm room sometime around five. It was almost 5:00 now.

        Sam wondered if she really meant it, if Jessica was sincerely interested in him or just the weird artist they were researching. He'd gotten the impression that she really liked him, and might be using this research thing as a way to spend some time with him. That was fine with Sam.

        Being stalked by a long-dead ghost? Not fine.

        He was tempted to line the door and window with salt. Ultimately, Sam decided against it. Not only would Gerald find it mighty strange, but Sam wanted to gain as much information about this ghost as he could. Keeping her and the "sisters" out would only limit his knowledge of them. They seemed to be in a gabby mood. If Sam could get them to talk about themselves, the things he learned might be useful.

        Careful there, Sammy. Someone might think you're hunting.

        No. No, he wasn't a hunter anymore. He was just trying to help Dean. That was all.

        Speaking of...

        Sam checked his e-mail while he waited for some word from Jessica. There was an e-mail from Dean. His older brother's e-mails were few and far between for two reasons. One, Dean had no computer. He sent and read e-mails from the libraries that he and his father passed through while researching local legends and history. Two, Dean would never be considered a computer expert. He knew how to read e-mail, play games, surf for porn, and get into dating chat rooms, but those formed the extent of his computer knowledge.

        There wasn't much point to answering the e-mail; Dean probably wouldn't be able to read it for weeks. Whatever Sam found out about the ghosts making contact with him, he'd have to figure out some other way to get it to Dean.

        He grinned a bit wider when he read the e-mail.

"My Most Honorable Brudder Samuel Stikupdabutt,

Greetings! Please to read message from most handsome and desireable brother-type, Sir Dean the Great. Okay, then just read this e-mail from the coolest sib ever? Great! (Don't tell me I'm neither.)

How are things going over there? Dad and I are fine, though you did miss the weekend from hell. And you know I might just mean that literally. Long story. It's always a long story. Finer points: Dad and I battled a really badass creature that I can't remember how to spell. I'm not even going to try 'cause I know how you'll correct my spelling and send it back to me since you're such a GEEK. Anyway, it ran out in front of Dad's truck while he was in hot pursuit and he almost hit it. Could have totalled the truck and everything. It was like some really twisted episode of "Starsky and Hutch."

How is Stanford? Still in California? Dude, what is wrong with all the other states? You used to visit them all the time with Dad and me instead of staying in one place. You really like that? I could never sit still that long. But you know that. Okay, don't make me say it, man. Just know that Dad promised he'll buy you that pony you've been begging for for years if you come back. He told me. <--- lies, all lies!

I've atached a picture I took with my new digital camera. It's of Dad, Bobby, and me. Incase you've been away so long you've forgotten who everybody is, Dad's in the blue shirt, Bobby's the one in the middle, and I'm on the right. Who is that handsome devil? I never would have been able to figure out how to get the picture to you if it hadn't been for the help of a verrry cute blonde at a Walgreens in Virginia Beach. Her picture's attached too. She's wearing the Walgreens shirt and not much else. It's true, I'm evil.

Mail me back sometime and let me know how it's hanging.

Your favorite and, coincidentally, only brother,

Dean"


        Sam wanted to get mad over how many times Dean had tried to make him feel guilty for not being there, but he couldn't. The underlying message of I miss you touched his heart too much to get angry. He wanted to say I miss you too every time he found a typing mistake, an egotistical joke, or more conclusive evidence of his brother's obsession with electronic toys he didn't really need. It all added up to what made Dean Dean. The fact that he had to be a casualty of Sam's newfound independence brought tears to his eyes.

        Virginia Beach. That could mean that they weren't in Boston, like the ghosts said they were.

        The ghosts said they were headed to Boston this weekend, Sammy. Dad and Dean aren't there yet. You're looking for an excuse to get out of this before it starts.

        Sometimes, Sam would give anything to shut up his conscience.


it won't stop

The Ringu series is (c) 1998 The Ring/The Spiral Production Group. It is based on the novels by Koji Suzuki.
The motion picture The Ring is (c) 2002 DreamWorks Pictures. The title "She Just Wanted to Be Heard" comes from a line of dialogue spoken by Rachel Keller in this movie. The motion picture The Ring Two is (c) 2005 DreamWorks Pictures.
I do not know if the prequel, The Ring 3, will have any bearing on this story or not until I see it.
Supernatural is (c) 2005 Kripke Enterprises, Wonderland, & Warner Brothers/The CW Television.
Everything else is (c) Demented Stuff.


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there really is a tape