Characters: Sam, Dean, (Characters related to the past hunt)
Genre: Gen/Horror, A/A, Angst, Hunt Fic
End Word Count: ~31,000 (chapters are about 2500)
Summary: After Sam opens a mysterious box, he and Dean find themselves battling the same bogey their father defeated sixteen years ago. As they fight alongside an unlikely ally to safeguard the town, Dean struggles to tie up loose ends in his life while Sam continues to search for a way to save his brother's soul.
Notes/Disclaimers: Not mine; no profit. Takes place after Dream a Little Dream of Me.
[Chapter 1] [Chapter 2]
Sam couldn't move, couldn't speak. A thousand emotions flooded him all at once, conflicting thoughts of anger and love, of pride and sorrow, a surge that he couldn't neatly divide and categorize through the storm raging in his mind. He found himself mute, staring at the discerning figure of his dead father – a man who happened to be very much alive.
"You boys wanna tell me what you're doing?"
John eyed them closely, his gaze flickering between Sam and Dean. Sam knew that he was sizing them up, getting a good read on them. They had to come up with something quick.
When he turned to Dean, Sam quickly realized his brother would be no help. Dean's face was ashen, his eyes wide, and his whole body rigid with shock. Sam would never fully understand why John had such an effect on him, but he didn't have time to consider it right now.
He cleared his throat. "Uh, we…" His voice trailed off as he noticed John's gaze lock onto the amulet dangling around Dean's neck. Sam quickly shoved it under Dean's shirt and stepped in front of him. "We're detectives."
"Detectives?" John rubbed his chin, only to stop to give them a pointed look. "Can I see some ID?"
Sam swallowed the lump that had started to form in his throat and quickly went for his jacket. He nudged the uncharacteristically quiet Dean, urging him to do the same. Dean kept staring until finally he started to show some signs of life and absently patted his jacket. Sam was still trying to form some contingency plan when he heard chuckling.
John smiled. "I didn't think so."
"We-we left them in the car," Dean managed to say.
Sam glared at Dean.
"You can drop the act," John said. "I know who you are."
Sam and Dean exchanged a worried look. He didn't want to call John's bluff, but he didn't know what other lie he could pull out of his hat. If this were real, if this weren't some crazy dream, then he and Dean had to be careful. They had to watch their every move, their every word.
Not that it mattered now, he realized a second too late. Dean was already talking.
"You do?" Dean asked.
John nodded. "Yeah, I do. I overheard you boys talking earlier. You say your dad's a hunter?"
"Oh," Sam said as he struggled to keep the shock out of his voice. "Our dad. Yeah."
"He's a hunter," Dean said with a nod. When Sam shot him another glare, he winced and turned his head.
"Maybe I've run into him."
"Yes, sir." Dean shook his head. "No…sir."
"I don't think you have," Sam added quickly, praying Dean would shut up. "He tends to work alone."
"He does, does he?" John seemed to ponder the story, but kept a wary eye on them both. "You know that hunting isn't a joke. This is serious business."
"Yes, sir," Dean said.
"Good," John said. "Now why don't you pack up and head on out?"
"Look, maybe you don't get it, but we have a lot of experience, and we're good at taking care of ourselves. So why don't you —" Sam clamped down, figuratively biting his tongue. He wasn't about to get into an argument with his dad, especially not here or now. It was bad enough that Sam could see the complete mistrust and suspicion in John's eyes. They knew that John was hard enough to deal with when he was in a good mood. The fact that he wasn't buying their story or their competence was going to make it impossible.
He felt a punch to his arm. "Sam!" Dean hissed under his breath.
John frowned and stared at Dean. "What did you just say?"
"Sam. As in Joseph Samuel." Sam reached out his hand and forced a smile. "People just call me Joe."
John eyed his extended arm, pausing to study them once more before he shook it. "Name's Jack."
Sam nodded, smiling all the while. So, they were both playing the same game. And by the glint in his father's eye, he knew they both knew it.
"That's Frank," Sam said, motioning behind him. "We heard there was a possible hunt around here and came to check it out."
"Yeah," John said, and let out a long sigh. "I've heard some rumblings. What kind of intel do you have on this thing?"
"Probably the same as you," Sam said with a shrug. "The creature takes kids between five and fifteen, always at night, always through the closet."
John nodded. "Those are the typical signs of a bogeyman."
Sam knew they were. He knew that their dad would know it, too. John would never start a hunt without having some background research done. The only problem was Sam didn't know just how much information he had. It was obvious that some sort of time transference had happened. As crazy as that sounded, Sam knew he had to tiptoe around this conversation as carefully as possible. Any slip could alter history and screw up the future, their present. Sam was beginning to think grabbing that box had been a big mistake.
"What about you?" Sam asked, pushing his thoughts aside. "What do you know?"
"I'm working on it."
Sam felt the corners of his mouth twitch. John had no idea where the bogeyman was hiding.
Sam frowned at the sound of the high-pitched voice. He cocked his head and peered around John, speechless as he saw a little boy darting out of the diner followed by a slightly older one. Sam fought the urge to clutch his stomach; he felt like his body had dropped in a freefall.
He dared not look back at Dean.
The younger versions of themselves jogged up to John's side, their curious expressions glued unwittingly to their older selves. The younger Dean didn't even bother to mask his disdain.
Sam didn't know what to say. He towered over both himself and Dean like a giant. All his childhood memories were skewed. Suddenly Dean seemed a lot, lot shorter. But before he had a chance to formulate any kind of response, John herded their younger selves away from the Impala and away from them.
"Dean, what did I say? Now take your brother and go inside."
His angry frown only deepened. "Dad, it wasn't—"
"I said now."
Dean grumbled something under his breath and punched Sam in the arm, earning him a battered "ow." Sam watched himself shuffle after Dean, only stopping once to sneak a peek back at them. Then, they were gone.
"Aren't you being a little harsh?" Dean asked.
Sam jerked his head, turning to his brother. There was something raw in his eyes, pained, but it faded quickly, leaving an unsteadiness that Sam knew he had seen before, a sense of discomfort he recognized from after their fight with Jeremy.
"Excuse me?" John asked again. "Are you telling me how to raise my kids?"
"Okay." Sam let out a nervous chuckle. "Well, we didn't mean to bother you." He patted Dean's chest and started to steer him away. "We'll just be heading out now."
John's face didn't break. "I think it would be best if you boys left town."
"So would we," Sam said under his breath. As soon as they could figure out how.
Sam didn't say another word as he guided a still ashen Dean away from the car. Even as they crossed the street, he knew that John was watching them, mentally keeping tabs on where they went. He also knew there was a good chance that he would grab their younger counterparts, pack up the car, and follow them. The last thing Sam needed was for John to find the Impala, their Impala.
The two of them hopped onto the sidewalk and started down the main street, away from where they had originally parked.
Dean frowned. "Dude, the car is that way."
"Forget about the car." He shoved Dean into an alley between a bakery and a dry cleaning service. "What was that all about?"
"What was what about?"
"That whole thing with Dad?"
Dean shrugged. "It was nothin'."
"Man, I dunno." Dean wiped his face and looked down as he leaned against the brick wall of one of the buildings. "This is seriously messed up."
Sam nodded. "I know." He looked out into the street, watching as the Impala slowly drove by. He turned back to Dean. "Look, we have to get out of here."
"Tell me about it," Dean muttered. "Maybe if you hadn't touched the Magic Box…"
Sam sighed. He wasn't going to get into this with Dean right now. "Let's just go back to the car and take it from there."
Dean gave a half-shrug and a half-nod, but started out of the alley. Sam followed him, cautiously glancing over his shoulder every few seconds. He didn't see the other Impala nearby, but he didn't want to take any more chances. He could only hope that whatever damage they might have done, time would straighten it out. His main priority was discovering how to undo what they had done, and figure it out before it was too late.
Sam stared at the silver box in his lap. He'd been holding it in silence for the past fifteen minutes, struggling to wrap his mind around the surreal meeting they'd just experienced. Dean sat beside him, completely and oddly still, just staring out of the driver's side of the Impala into the street.
Their dad. They'd just come face to face with their dad. Sam didn't know how to process all the feelings and images that kept overwhelming his mind. He couldn't even believe this was happening. But with all the insanity in their lives, he knew that it was crazier to believe it wasn't real.
And now, somehow, they were in the past.
Sam wasn't a physicist, but he knew there were theories on time travel out there. Those theories were rooted in the realm of pseudo-science. This he knew was completely magical.
However, he knew there was something both magic and science could agree upon – meddling with the past would have consequences. He and Dean did not belong here.
"You turned my car into a freakin' Delorian."
Dean was angry. Sam could hear it in his voice. But it wasn't just anger. Dean refused to look at Sam, not even a quick glance or a turn of the head. There was something else eating away at him, something Sam wasn't sure he could identify. He only knew it had been lingering around Dean for the past few days, building and growing, and soon he knew it would burst.
"I think we should lay low until we can figure out how to reverse this."
Dean nodded and gripped the steering wheel. Sam was positive he was clutching it so hard to keep from punching him. "So, what? Hole up in a hotel?" Dean asked.
"We just stay out of dad's hair until we figure out how to get back."
"Perfect. Meanwhile, Bela's in the future with the Colt, and by the time we find her, we'll be in our forties." Dean paused. "Well, I guess you'll be. One of the perks of dying young."
Sam shook his head. "Let's just find a motel."
As Dean went to start the car, Sam reached into his pocket for his money clip. He wanted to make sure they budgeted right, since he had no idea how long they would be stuck in this town or the year 1992, for that matter. With a sigh, he pulled out the clip and started to flip through the bills. He froze.
"What?" Dean asked.
Sam turned to Dean. "We can't use any of this money."
Dean frowned. "Why the hell –" Dean's face went blank. "Crap."
"Yeah, it hasn't been minted yet." Sam jammed the money back into his pocket. "How are we going to get a room?"
Dean went for his stash of credit cards and other illegal paraphernalia. Sam held onto the box and watched as Dean searched through years' worth of junk, but he started to think this was just a waste of time.
"I don't think you're going to find anything old enough," he said.
"Then shut up and help me."
Sam reached over to help sort through the cards that Dean had spread onto the leather seats. Just as he was leaning over to examine a card, he felt the box slip from his lap and hit the floor of the Impala with a thud.
Both of them froze.
"You did not just drop the voodoo box in my car," Dean said.
"I think I did."
Dean blurted out a string of nonsense that Sam didn't even try to figure out. Instead, he shook it off and glanced at the passenger side floor mat of the car. He could see the talismans, the instructions, and even some of the soft felt that had come undone.
Sam grimaced as he reached down to pick up the spilled contents. The last thing they needed was for him to set off the talisman again only to dump them further back in time.
"Be careful!" Dean shouted. "I don't want to end up in Jurassic Park."
"I'm just putting it back in the box." Sam started to pick up the items and drop them into the metal container when he frowned, noticing something sticking out from behind the torn felt. As he finished scooping up the contents, he brought the box to his lap and peeled away the rest of the felt.
From the corners of his eyes, he could see Dean's eyes widen. "Hey!"
Sam blocked Dean's hand with his arm. "Wait," he said. Sam ripped the felt and grabbed the wad of bills from within the box. Sam did a quick check. Minted in 1991. He held them up and waved them at Dean.
"That's awesome." Dean leaned over toward the box. "I want a Philly cheesesteak."
Sam stared at him. "Dude, what are you doing?"
"It's like in Bill and Ted's when they just ask for something and –" Dean rolled his eyes. "Nevermind, you uncultured freak."
Sam didn't have time for Dean's incoherent nonsense. He had too many other ideas buzzing through his head. "Do you realize what this means?"
"It means no free grub."
"Dean, stop thinking with your stomach for two seconds. This means that whatever is in this box was meant to be here." He tapped the top for emphasis. "Why would there be money hiding in the side of the lining? Why would we find it just when we needed it?"
"You think we put it there?"
Sam nodded. "I thought maybe this was a big mistake. Now I think we're supposed to be here."
"Sam, that's just messed up."
"But think about it. The money was placed in here for a reason. Maybe when we find a way out of this we leave ourselves the money. Or someone does."
"Okay, then," Dean said. "What are we supposed to do?"
Sam glanced down at the box and then to the cards and paper slips beside him. "I don't know yet. But we have to be very careful. We have to make sure that don't change or interfere with anything until we know exactly what is going on."
"So find a motel. Lay low. And do what the box tells us." Dean sighed. "I'm taking orders from Thing."
He scowled. "What now?"
Sam sifted through some of the cards and pulled out the receipt from earlier that afternoon. "Your receipt."
"What about it?"
"It's for a dollar and seventy-five cents."
"You're kidding me."
Sam smiled, recalling their earlier conversation. "Guess you're that idiot."
"Aw, man." Dean shook his head once, mumbled something Sam couldn't hear, and turned to glare at the box that sat innocently on Sam's lap. "I really hate this town."
"The place was robbed for exactly a dollar and seventy-five cents," Sam told him. "No more, no less."
"Yeah, got it." With a sigh, Dean swung the Impala door open. "I'll case the back while you find us a room. I'll call you after I'm done." He paused, turning back to Sam. "I don't want my baby anywhere near this place when this thing goes down."
Dean stared at him. "No?"
"No phones. We won't get a signal."
"Dammit." Dean wiped his face. "All right. Come back around midnight. That should be plenty of time." He sighed again. "I can't believe I'm about to make the lamest heist in history."
Sam shrugged. "It could be worse."
Sam opened his mouth to reply, but stopped and just shook his head. "Okay, maybe not."
Dean glared at him as he shut the door. "Remember. Midnight."
Sam nodded as Dean tossed him the keys. "Got it."
He watched Dean disappear into one of the alleys between the main street buildings. Once he was sure no one was watching them, he slid over to the driver's side and started up the Impala. Now all Sam had to do was find the right motel.