Sam's long overdue rest wasn't disappointing.
Although the brothers' beds in Bobby's spare room were ancient and lumpy and inclined to creak at the most inopportune moments, they were horizontal and warm, and for someone who hadn't slept for near enough the weirdest 24 hours off his life, they were the most beautiful sight in the world.
It seemed like half a lifetime had passed Sam by when he finally opened his eyes again … to see Dean sitting on the side of his bed staring right at him.
Sam almost choked on his tongue; "Dean?"
"Jimmy? Wha … uh?"
Sam yawned as his bleary eyes scanned the same tousled morning-thatch of hair that he saw every morning, the sleep-heavy eyelids weighed down by the same ridiculously thick, dark lashes which he was under threat of death never to mention, and the same long, heavily muscled arms, which looked comically willowy, hidden down to the elbows in Sam's giant navy-blue T shirt.
As wakefulness washed over him, however, he could see there was something in the way that the figure before him held himself. Cautious, shy, and almost apologetic, he took up a lot less space than Dean's larger-than-life presence. Physically, Jimmy may have been Dean's mirror image but in mannerisms, he couldn't have been more different.
"Where's Dean?" Sam croaked, knuckling his tired eyes; "he said he was going to turn in soon after me."
"He did," Jimmy explained; "he's downstairs on the couch."
"Oh …" Sam pointed to the room's other bed where Jimmy still sat; "but that's his bed."
Jimmy nodded hesitantly; "Dean told me to sleep here, in case anyone came looking for me. He said I'd be safer up here sharing a room with you than downstairs sharing the living room with Tom. Dean says Tom couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag."
Sam shook his head with a wry smile; there it was - proof positive that Dean's acceptance of Jimmy was complete.
"Yeah," he sighed and flopped back down into the bed; "he's probably right, Tom's far better at mending injuries than he is at causing them."
"… thank you so much, that's been very helpful. Goodbye," Sam smiled into the cellphone as he disconnected the call and put it down on the table.
He leaned back in his chair, looking up at the two identical figures who were sitting across the room at Bobby's kitchen table, polishing off a mountainous pile of toast.
"Well, the post office said the advert for the clinical trials was taken down the day after you answered it," Sam called across to them; "they couldn't tell me much else except that it was booked in the name of a Doctor Smith who runs a small pharmacy in Phillipsburg."
"Yeah, that's where they sent me," Dean replied, crossing the room toward Sam; "about an hour out from the bunker, a real old-looking place. Come to think of it, I think it was called 'Smith's Pharmacy'.
"Is that where they did the trial?"
Dean perched on the table next to Sam and it creaked disapprovingly under the weight of his butt. "Yeah, they took me into a back room; it looked like a doctors surgery – had all the couch and the kit and the scales and crap like that," he shrugged; "it all looked like the real deal."
Sam pulled his laptop toward him. "Well, I'm pretty sure it's not some crappy little provincial pharmacy that's creating clones. There's got to be more to it than that."
"I'd remember the place," Dean snorted; "c'mon lets go down and take a look, huh?"
Sam shook his head as the screen before him blinked into life. "Not yet," he stated flatly, "I wanna find out a bit more. And besides," he added; "if we do go down there, you're not coming."
"Why the hell not?" Dean snapped in outrage.
"Dean, your face," Sam sighed; "Jimmy's face. They'll recognise you. They might even think you're him." He shook his head defiantly; "no, if we check this out, it'll be Bobby and me – you're not going anywhere near it."
"No buts Dean, not this time. There's no way you can show your face near these people. Stay here and keep an eye on Jimmy instead – he needs all the help he can get."
"But, Sam ..."
"Dean," Sam snapped; "you can't be involved in this job, just, no!"
They both looked across at Jimmy who sat at the table, intently studying a lump of marmalade which wobbled precariously on the end of his fork.
Dean sighed in defeat; "relegated from hunter to friggin' babysitter; this sucks!"
It was early afternoon when Bobby and Tom returned from an unexpectedly urgent supply run, given that it was suddenly clear that having Dean's appetite times two in the house was catastrophically bad news for Bobby's larder.
While Sam had zoned out, busy on his laptop, Dean had been equally busy teaching his clone some of life's more important skills; specifically how to drink beer without snorting bubbles up his nose, and how to play poker.
The two older men crashed through the door laden down with four bags of groceries, a crate of beer and a bag of clothes from the local Wal-mart for Jimmy.
"Ya can't keep borrowing Dean's clothes," Bobby announced as he handed the bag to the bemused clone; "and I just can't keep watching ya trailing around in Sam's gear – ya look like you've been through the freakin' hot wash and shrunk!"
Jimmy's face lit up with appreciative glee, as he sifted through the purchases, repeatedly looking up at the assembled gathering as if he couldn't believe that the unremarkable items spread out on the table before him really were all for him. Sam was quite sure he'd never seen anyone quite so made up at owning a ten-dollar hoodie.
Damn, the dust in Bobby's place was stinging his eyes …
It soon became clear that Tom bore something other than provisions; he was bearing news.
"I got the results back from my police pal," he looked up at Dean and Jimmy as he spoke; "it's all official. The DNA is identical. Dean, Jimmy's definitely your clone."
Dean had pretty much known that was the case but to hear it officially, straight out of the mouth of the one man who would know for sure was still a shock to the system. He dropped down into the couch, and rubbed a hand over his stubbled face; "holy crap, that's ... uh, yeah ..." He pulled in a deep breath; "I guess that makes you, kinda, my identical twin."
"That's exactly what Jimmy is," Tom replied with a quiet smile; "identical twins are clones of each other, just naturally occurring ones."
Dean's face eventually arranged itself into a shaky smile. "Welcome to the family," he mumbled, patting Jimmy on the back.
Jimmy clutched his green hoodie to his chest and beamed with a joy that suggested his life was suddenly complete.
His smile was so much like Dean's it hurt to look at.
It wasn't until late the following evening that Sam had some news to impart.
After over twenty-four hours working on his laptop, with minimal sleep and barely a bite to eat; his eyes stung, his back ached and his mind whirled.
But he would have taken the backache and the double vision any day over the sickness he felt when the penny finally dropped.
Bobby had cooked a fine stew and the five men were sat round the dinner table as Sam began to explain what he had discovered.
"I did some digging around to find out what I could about that Smith's Pharmacy place,” he began, pausing as he watched the other men wolfing their food down enthusiastically. As good as the meal was, Sam's appetite had fled, and he played absently with his food as he spoke.
"Their website was pretty basic," Sam explained; "and I get the feeling that was done deliberately to make people believe that it's some little mom and pop one man band, but in a way, that was a good thing because it was easy to get inside it and look at the coding.”
"Geek," snorted Dean around a mouthful of potato.
Sam rolled his eyes and carried on regardless.
"I found references in the script to another company called Gemini Pharmaceuticals, and their website was a lot more professional – and secure. It took me over ten hours to hack into just one part of their system."
"It looks like a regular Pharmaceutical company," Sam continued; "got the usual stuff going on, you know, selling drugs and medicine and stuff, clinical testing and development, and they've even got links with the World Health Organisation." he paused, frowning in thought for a moment; "but then there was another part of their web, that I just couldn't access, like a dark page."
"A dark page?" Tom mumbled round the neck of a beer bottle.
"Yeah," Sam replied; "a dark page is a type of web page that's designed not to be traceable through normal means. It doesn't turn up on any search engines, or stuff like that. It's literally 'dark'."
"And I'm guessing that's never a good thing?" Bobby murmured.
Sam took a deep breath, and shook his head. "No, not a good thing."
Sam took a long draught on his beer and continued; "I dug around but was only able to find random bits of data throughout the script, phrases like '... DNA transfer integrity', '... track down at all costs', '... specimen one not fit for purpose', and then something called 'Project Catalan'.
Dean wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, and stifled a satisfied burp; "Catalan? That's in Spain isn't it?"
Sam nodded; "sort of, it's the name of the people and the culture of the Catalonia region of Spain," he shook his head, adding; "and I started to wonder what the hell all this has to do with Spain."
Bobby glanced up at Jimmy; "does that mean anything to you?"
Jimmy shook his head uncertainly.
"Anyway, I researched it," Sam continued; "I found loads of information about the place and the people, and I also found some stuff about an organisation called the 'Catalan Company'. They were Byzantine mercenaries from the early 14th century."
A loaded pause settled across the table as four sets of concerned eyes turned to Jimmy who flushed awkwardly under the scrutiny.
"Dean, think about it," Sam warned; "why did they want a fit, strong guy to clone? Why did they ask Jimmy to kill his rabbit for a reward? Why did they think he's not fit for purpose when they found out he's friendly and gentle?"
A collective gasp went up around the table.
"Holy shit," Bobby croaked; "they're creating mercenaries."