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] [Chapter 3]
Dean shut the back door to the diner with his gloved hands. He'd spent a good hour sorting through their damn change to find a lousy dollar and seventy-five cents' worth of coffee money while trying to be as quiet as possible. It didn't help that he knew the family that owned the diner were asleep upstairs. All he could say was thank God they hadn't shipped off their money to the bank before he'd gotten there.
After a quick survey of the alley, Dean crept toward the street. He knew there was a little niche next to the park right across from the diner where he figured he could wait until Sam showed. He wanted to make sure he put enough distance between himself and this place as quickly as possible. Small town police never had enough to do, and he wasn't about to be their night of fun.
Dean checked his watch. 11:50. Sam better come get him soon before he started freezing his ass off.
He was just about to dart across the street when he saw a flicker of light above him. Dean stopped and focused, frowning as he caught two shadows – one small and the other warped - fumbling in the weak light. Then with a snap, they vanished.
Every muscle in his body tensed. He so had not just seen what he thought he saw.
Quietly, Dean started back down the alley, alert and quick on his feet as he headed toward the apartment window above the diner. When he sniffed the air, he could smell something dank and moldy, like old hair caught in a sink drain.
Dammit, the thing was here.
As he rounded the corner, he scanned the sides of the building, the alleyway itself, and the garbage bin that rested to his right. He didn't see anything – not a shadow or the bogeyman's lanky form. But that didn't mean he'd left.
Above him, a long fire escape climbed upward stopping by the apartment window. Dean paused, studying the stairwell as he considered his next move. He hadn't brought any of his gear with him, but he'd be damned if he'd let an opportunity slide. Without a second thought, Dean grabbed the rails and started up the fire escape.
When he reached the top, he crouched low and peeked through the window. The room was dark, but he could still make out a few items: the unmade bed, the dresser and nightstand, and a closet door slightly ajar.
Dean shook his head. He was too late. The poor kid probably had never seen it coming. The stench in the alleyway must have been the pedo bastard's lingering scent.
That wasn't about to stop Dean.
Quietly, he lifted the windowsill and slipped inside. He kept his steps slow and deliberate, careful not to step on any toys that might be lying around the room. The last thing he needed was to get caught and land in jail. Claiming he was a demon hunter from the future would land him in the loony bin faster than Britney Spears losing her panties. And while Sam could be slick with the tongue, he doubted that Stanford education would do them squat this time around, considering technically he hadn't even gone yet.
He crept over to the closet door and inspected the handle. Sure enough, there was black soot clinging to the metal doorknob. He dug into his pockets, grabbed a bag, and withdrew his knife. With the blade, he scraped a few flaky pieces of residue into his bag. While he and Sam weren't officially working this job, he figured it couldn't hurt to grab some residue. At this rate, they could be trapped here forever.
Dean sealed the bag, secured his knife, and slipped through the window, making sure to close it after he exited. Quietly, he started back down the fire escape. When he reached the bottom, he turned his head and glanced back at the apartment for one last look.
He gasped as he was knocked back by the collar of his jacket.
Before he had a chance to right himself, Dean was thrown against the wall of the building. He grunted as he pushed off the brick, striking his assailant with a punch to the stomach. Dean went to throw another, but the figure dodged and went for his throat. Again, Dean slammed against the wall, harder this time, and gasped as he struggled to breathe. He was about to kick out when a bright light flooded his vision and blinded him.
Dean blinked, cursing under his breath as the brightness sent a current of pain shooting through his head. The shock sent him off balance, but he fought to stand straight, only to nearly tumble with surprise when the pressure around his neck vanished. He collapsed against the wall, but not before drawing his .45.
He wasn't about to get snuffed by a freak in an alley. Not now. As he kept his aim steady, Dean forced his vision to clear. He jerked and dropped his arm. The fuzzy figure faded in and out, but was unmistakably his father.
"Da—" Dean caught himself and squeezed his eyes shut, forcing down the panic welling inside. Finally, he breathed out and cleared his throat. "What was that?"
"Enchanted mirror," John said, waving it in front of Dean. "Shine it in the face of a bogeyman and you can see its true face."
Ignoring the lingering spots that danced in front of him, Dean shoved the gun into his jeans and nodded once as he processed the information. Then he stopped and frowned, staring at John. "You thought I was a bogeyman?"
"You or the other one." John pocketed the mirror. "I had to be sure."
Dean blinked. If he and Sam were starting to pass as bogeymen now, then they should really start to rethink how they hunted. After a moment, he blinked again, realizing just where his dad was going with this train of thought. "You think it's posing as people?"
"They have limited ability, yeah." John paused, that discerning gaze of his chewing through Dean. "You should do your research."
Dean felt his cheeks flare at the rebuke. He knew about bogies. Both he and Sam had studied that journal front to back and then some. He knew how they grabbed kids and how they moved through the shadows. He knew they were near damn impossible to track. Dean might not remember everything, but he knew a lot about them. Yet when he looked at the disapproving face of his dad, he just couldn't bring himself to say it.
"This'll help mask our energy so the bogey can't tail us." John tossed a marble-sized ball onto the fire escape.
The ball rolled onto the metal frame and hit the wall with a nearly inaudible pop. Then, it burst into a gentle puff, releasing a soft, floral scent that made Dean's nose itch. As he resisted the urge to scratch it, he marveled at how something so normal could overpower the rancid smell of the bogeyman. Then again, he never would have thought a bunch of stinky potpourri would have blocked a nest of vampires.
"What're you doing out here?" John asked abruptly. "I thought you were leaving town."
"We had some things to take care of." Dean sniffed and wiped his nose. He glanced upward. "I saw the thing in the upper apartment."
"Did you get a good look?"
"Better than that." Dean reached into his pocket and withdrew a small bag, tossing it to John. "I managed a sample."
John caught the bag and examined it. A spark of nostalgia warmed Dean, and he found the tension in his shoulders wane. It was standard procedure: John would lay out the plan and Dean would take an inventory of the site. After research and recon was complete, they'd move in to nail the sucker.
But when John brought his attention back to Dean, there was dark suspicion in his eyes, and he gave Dean an almost quizzical, confused look, one that could easily be missed under his controlled exterior if you didn't know the man.
Dean's shoulders sagged as the warmth evaporated. He had seen John give that look to wary strangers many times.
"I thought you'd want the lead on this one," Dean said quietly.
"I work alone," John said.
Dean felt his throat tighten, but he nodded and tried to ignore the ache. He didn't know what he'd been thinking. He needed to find Sam and just get the hell out of there.
"But if you boys are working this case, I can't stop you." John wiped his mouth and glanced up at the apartment. "And I'm running out of time."
Dean stiffened. "What? Really?"
He was about to ask John what plan he had mapped out for this hunt, when he heard a piercing scream. Both John and Dean froze as the apartment light flickered on.
"Crap," Dean muttered.
"We gotta go," John said.
John started to back into the shadows before breaking into a steady run. Dean found himself following John deeper into the alley, even though a little voice in the back of his mind – one that distinctly sounded like Sam - warned him not to get too close. Dean knew the dangers. He still couldn't even believe this was happening. But in the end, he stayed with his dad, following him to the very end.
They both broke out of the alley onto another street. The two of them slowed to stop, pausing a minute to catch their breath, before easing into a relaxed walk. Neither said a word, and Dean didn't push the issue. He was content enough just to be near his father again. He wished he could hold onto the moment longer, to make their time together last forever. He pushed away all the conflicting thoughts he had, all the anger that kept wanting to bubble to the surface, and just walked with John, admiring his worn but determined face.
He never deserved to die. None of them deserved to die.
In the distance, Dean heard the wails of police sirens as they closed in on the area. He and John picked up their pace.
"This way," John said.
Up ahead, Dean saw his dad's Chevy Impala parked by the side of an old mill. Dean knew they looked far from inconspicuous - two men dressed in dark clothes walking in the middle of the night – but he hoped that they could slip by unnoticed until they could get away from the scene of the crime.
John opened the driver's door and hopped into the car; the Impala hummed to life with her unmistakable purr. Dean stared at the car and hesitated.
"Get in," John told him.
As the police sirens wailed louder, Dean grabbed the handle, opened the door, and hopped inside. John tore away from the mill and started down the street, leaving the diner, the apartment, and the heart of the town behind.
Dean remained quiet as John drove away from the scene of the bogeyman's latest kidnapping. In the distance, he could still hear the police, and imagined the chaos as the officers and innocent bystanders tried to make sense of yet another child's mysterious disappearance. Dean seriously hated this thing right now.
John was the first to speak. "It won't show again for another day."
Dean nodded. He didn't doubt his dad's knowledge on this thing. He knew that John would be defeating the bogeyman in just a few days, so now they just had to wait and destroy the thing once it showed its ugly face.
"I checked the sewers," John said, continuing, "and some rundown abandoned buildings - the usual haunts. This thing isn't in town."
"So, what?" Dean asked. "You think it's wearing people's faces long enough to get out of Dodge and get to its den?"
"Yeah, that's what I'm thinking."
That could be a problem, Dean thought. He knew that bogies could travel through shadow, disappearing and reappearing at will. But if the creep was posing as people in between, then it could be hiding out anywhere near the town.
At least Dean was confident they'd kill the bastard.
The car fell into another awkward silence. Dean fought the temptation to play with the stereo, trying to remind himself this wasn't his car, at least not yet. Instead, he started to hum under his breath, hoping the distraction was enough to keep the restlessness he felt from John's piercing sideways glances at bay.
"You sure I don't know your dad? You look familiar."
John shot him another wary glance. "Where's your brother?"
Dean's eyes widened. He pushed back the sleeve of his jacket and fumbled to right his watch. He swore.
It was 12:15 am.
"Drop me off here," Dean blurted out, pointing to the side of the road.
John glared at him. "Excuse me?"
"Just drop me off." When John continued to drive without any indication of stopping, Dean sighed. "Look, my brother was supposed to pick me up."
"That's a sloppy plan." John shook his head and pulled over to the side of the road. "You boys should have a contingency plan. You go in smart, or you don't go in at all. Or else one of these days one of you'll get killed."
Dean swallowed hard and gave a quick nod. "I'll be careful. I promise."
He jumped out of the car, unable to look his father in the eye any longer, and bolted down the street. Right now, his main objective was to get to Sam and hope that he hadn't driven their weapon-loaded car right in the middle of a cop-filled hotspot.