The package really isn’t much bigger than a standard three-ring binder, the kind Jenn uses to collect her thousands of English lit notes. Sam tears off the brown paper and tosses it over onto the passenger side of the seat and–it’s a cardboard box, plain, but a plain envelope’s stuck to it. He tears it off, tears it open, and inside there’s a single sheet of thick, cream-colored paper, an Aquarian star embossed in the center, and there’s Dad’s neat handwriting, again:
Dean, it reads. I’ve picked up a lead. It will be dangerous, but it is necessary for the work I’ve been doing. This package contains all the information you will need to continue, if I don’t succeed. Do not open this unless you receive confirmation of my death. If that happens, you know what you have to do.
It’s signed with a terse JW, along with a shape that Sam’s pretty sure is the Phoenician aleph, though who knows why.
Sam stares at the letter, for a minute. He knew he was leaving–knew he was going to disappear, for god knows how long, and he couldn’t pick up the damn phone. Sam doesn’t crumple the letter, though it’s tempting. He stuffs it back in its envelope, his throat tight, and turns to the box. No obvious warding on it, no magic sealing it tight–just plain packing tape, and Sam doesn’t really think about it. He flips the keys in his hand and uses one as a makeshift boxcutter, slicing the damn thing open in a quick move, because he wants to see what was so important that John Winchester would bother sending it along to his son.
Cardboard flaps peeled back–something wrapped in more brown paper. He pulls that away, and–and it’s Dad’s journal. It’s Dad’s journal, and Sam just stares at the box in his lap, shocked into stillness. Whenever their dad bothered to come home, when Sam was little, all he got was, that’s Dad’s, don’t touch it, from Dean–and it was serious, a rule, harder and stronger than practicing Latin declensions and recognizing the signs of a banshee roosting. Sam touches the black leather of the cover, made soft with the years. He’d asked, once, what their dad was always writing, and Dean had shaken his head, steered Sam away into a game of find-the-ghost. Don’t worry about it, Sammy, he’d been told, and he hadn’t, but now–
He lifts the journal out of its box. It’s thick, ruffled with tucked-in newspaper clippings, post-its and random notes jutting out between the pages. A glance out the driver’s window proves that no one’s watching–and of course, of course they aren’t, but he still feels like he’s under surveillance as he props the spine of the thing against the steering wheel and finally folds the cover back.
Embossed inside the front cover: J. WINCHESTER, in thick raised letters. The first page is in an unfamiliar hand. To John, it says, in a wide looping cursive. Aspicio praeteritum, tueor futurum. Sam traces a finger over the words, wondering, and then flips to the first few pages.
It starts, Today I am a Man. January 4, 1973. This is really it. This is their dad, starting out as an initiate. Sam flicks through the pages. Brief details of research, lists of omens and monsters, articles taped in with notes spidering off the newsprint, all laid out neatly in their dad’s well-practiced hand. Drawings, of shadows and monsters, going on and on through the years, and he flips to the end to find another little list addressed to Dean–instructions on where to go, what to do, how to continue the work, with no indication as to what the work actually is. Impersonal and businesslike and just like a Warder, giving orders to a subordinate without giving too much away.