Characters: Sam, Dean, (Characters related to the past hunt)
Genre: Gen/Horror, A/A, Angst, Hunt Fic
End Word Count: ~32,000
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] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5]
When Dean returned, he found Sam seated in front of his bed, a half dozen papers across the sheets. Dean was positive he saw maps, charts, old newspapers, and Dad's journal.
He stood in the doorway, coffees in hand, and stared for a moment. "Huh," he finally said.
"Oh, you're back." Sam hopped to his feet to oversee his work. "I've been mapping a pattern of the places the bogeyman struck, and I've noticed that each child who has been kidnapped lived right off the main street that runs through town."
Dean eyed him closely. "Oh yeah?"
Sam reached over and grabbed a cup from Dean's hand and turned back to the maps. "It must be waiting right outside of the city."
"Yeah, Dad figured that out." Slowly, he moved toward the bed. He tilted his head to double-check the calculations, and dammit, it looked like Sam was right on the money.
He felt Sam's eyes on him. "What?"
"I thought you'd be more excited," Sam said.
"It's fabulous. You're a regular bogey tracker."
"Why all of a sudden are you digging this case?"
Sam looked away, stopping to pick at the edge of one of the papers. "It's just important."
Dean let out a heavy sigh. Please let it not be psychic crap, he thought to himself.
With a shake of his head, Dean leaned over the bed and picked up their dad's journal with his free hand. Sam had it opened to the entry on bogeymen. From what he could tell, there wasn't a whole lot of information to go on – just the standard lore. Kids, closets, soot: nothing new.
Dean tossed the journal on the bed and stepped back to ease himself into an extra chair. "Shoot," he told Sam.
"Well, you know the lore. Bogeymen mainly aim for children and only hunt adults to feed off their body heat. With the kids, they sneak into naughty children's rooms and kidnap them. Most people think it's just a scare tactic to make kids behave."
"Poor bastards don't know it's true until it's too late," Dean mumbled into the cup.
"Right. But it's worse."
"Worse?" His head bobbed. "How is it worse?"
"Dean, these kids aren't just being dragged off somewhere. They're being changed," Sam said. "That is how the bogeymen reproduce."
Dean stared at him. That had to be one of the most twisted things he'd ever heard, and he'd heard a lot. Just imagining the slimy bogey dragging off innocent kids and turning them made him angry. No choice. No will. And then, poof, their humanity was gone.
He wiped his face. "That explains why they can pass as human for a while. I wonder what our window is."
Dean looked up at him and frowned. "Where'd you find that out? That wasn't in Dad's journal."
Sam didn't reply. He didn't need to; Dean could see right through him. In Sam's defiant eyes, he saw all he needed to know.
"Oh, you didn't." Dean slammed the cup down. "Dammit, double standard, Sam?"
"He bumped into me," Sam explained. "I didn't plan it. So why don't you get your facts straight before you go accusing me."
"It's not like I planned bumping into Dad last night, either."
Sam shrugged. "So, we're even."
"Is that why you're so interested? Because of Dad?" He cocked his head and made a face. "That doesn't sound familiar."
"Okay, Dean. I get it. And no, it doesn't have to do with Dad." Sam let out a deep breath. "I just think it's important."
"Oh this is some of that freak psychic crap."
"Stop calling it that," Sam snapped.
That was perfect. Just when Sam was starting to be normal again, they would have to deal with demonic psychic powers. He had hoped that would have been gone once and for all.
"It's not," Sam told him. "It's not that at all. I just can't explain it yet."
Dean frowned and leaned forward, an idea striking him. "Are you remembering something from when we were here last time?"
"Maybe. I'm having massive déjà vu."
"How come I'm not?"
"I don't know," Sam admitted. "But you have to just trust me on this. If you don't, I think something terrible is going to happen."
"Time come undone? Catastrophic paradox?"
"Something like that."
Dean tried to pull up any old memories. They were spotty at best. He remembered their dad working a case on a bogeyman and firmly telling them to keep the closets secure. He thought he remembered their dad slipping in and out every other day, coming home in the wee hours looking exhausted and discouraged. He remembered some flashes of memory of the two hunters that helped on the case. Then, he and Sam got sick while their dad killed the bogey, and they left town.
He tapped at his own coffee cup as he watched Sam finish his. He wasn't too keen on all this déjà vu stuff, just like he'd about had it with all the sneaking around. While he appreciated the need to keep the time line in tact, or whatever physics crap dictated they be careful, he wanted to cut straight to the heart of the matter and take a direct approach. He didn't exactly have time to waste on sneaking around.
And with the news about the kids in the mix…
"Maybe we should just tell Dad," he said.
Sam tossed the empty cup in the trash and let out an exasperated sigh. "Dean, we went over this."
"Dad deals with weirdo stuff all the time. We tell him we're from the future." He shrugged. "Worked for Marty."
Sam glared at him.
He fished through his pockets, threw a couple of Twinkies on the table, and held up a small folded piece of paper. "I can just slip it in his pocket when he's not looking and—"
Sam marched over and grabbed the note from his hands. Before Dean had a chance to snatch it back, Sam had already stormed into the bathroom, lit a match, and placed the note over the flame. Dean jumped to his feet and ran after Sam, but it was too late. He watched the paper smolder into ashes in the sink.
"You can't tell Dad! It's bad enough that he's already suspicious."
"Well, what do you expect with us sneaking around all the time?" Dean asked.
"Look, I told you," Sam said. "We have to be careful."
"Well, if you'd figure out the damn box, we could go home and avoid this mess."
"It's not like you've been a very big help."
Dean glared at him. "Fine. Sure, I'll just go downtown and pick up a flux capacitor."
"Dude, enough with the Back to the Future references." Sam eyed him closely, his eyes darkening. "And now you're so eager to leave? What about the case?"
Dean didn't want to talk about the how and why. He didn't want to tell Sam how much it was killing him. He didn't want to admit that every moment they stayed here, the harder it was for him to concentrate.
He looked to the ground. "I'm just saying, Sammy. First you want us to hole up in a motel room and get home. Then suddenly you're all over the case and wanting to stay. That's enough to tell me something's up, and whatever it is, it can't be good."
"I told you. We need to be here. Just a little bit longer. Trust me, Dean. It's important that we keep—" Sam's voice cut off and his eyes widened.
The panic alarm in Dean immediately went off. "What?" he asked, frowning. He took a step towards Sam. "What's the matter?"
"You're in your car."
Dean spun around. Through the opening in the window, Dean saw himself sitting in the passenger seat of the Impala, rummaging through the glove compartment.
"Son of a bitch!" No friggin' way was he going to let him steal from himself.
Dean marched over to the door and swung it open, determined to get to his baby before Sam came up with some lame excuse to stop him.
Little Sammy stared up at him.
The little version of Sam was exactly how Dean remembered him: scrawny, but steady on his feet, a little fearful, but determined. He stared up at Sam and Dean, his resolute face unwavering.
Dean stared back.
"I'm Sam," the younger version of his brother said.
"I'm…Frank," Dean said, hoping his voice didn't sound too unsure. He motioned over his shoulder. "That's Joe."
Little Sam frowned. "The Hardy Boys?"
Dean's face went blank. So much for no one noticing.
"I guess we're kinda like them," Dean said with a smile. "There's no doubt I'm the cool one."
Little Sam snorted.
The smile faded from Dean's face. This time he looked over his shoulder and shot Sam a hard glare. Sam gave him a sheepish smile and shrugged.
He was so picking the names next time.
When he turned back to the younger Sam, he noticed the kid was quietly searching the room.
"You're the hunters working with my dad," Little Sam said more than asked.
Dean exchanged an uneasy look with Sam. He just knew that Sam was probably ready to explode underneath his cool exterior and mutter some non-interference nonsense. Though, part of Dean hoped Sam was freaked out by coming face to face with himself. He seemed to be taking this whole time travel business a little too well for Dean's liking.
"Yeah, we're working a case," Dean said. "What're you doing here?"
The younger Sam shrugged. He looked to Sam's bed before his gaze found Dean again. "Hey, my dad has a jacket just like that."
Dean tore off the leather jacket and slung it over his chair. He glanced back at his Sam and gave him a pointed look. "Jump in anytime."
Sam shifted his weight and took a step forward to engage himself while Dean darted out of the room to head to his car. From behind him he heard Sam talking, but Dean blocked it out to concentrate on what his younger self was doing.
He slid against the side of the Impala and rested his arms on the passenger side window. Inside, he saw himself flipping through his cassette tapes.
"Hey," Dean said. "No snurching the Zeppelin."
His younger self froze and for a brief second had that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. Dean frowned. If this is what he looked like whenever he got caught red-handed, then no wonder everyone always knew when he was lying. How embarrassing.
"I was just looking," the kid mumbled.
"Yeah right." Dean opened the door. "Out."
His younger self let out a heavy sigh and jumped out of the car onto the walkway. Dean shut the door behind him.
He totally didn't know what to do. Staring at your skinny little ass self had to be the weirdest thing ever.
"What're you doing out here?" Dean asked.
Little Dean shrugged. "I was bored."
"You should be inside with the door locked, looking after your brother."
"God, you sound like my dad," he said with disgust. "I don't need to be told. I know what my job is."
Dean had nothing to say to that. With a sigh, he rubbed his mouth and tried to think of another approach.
"Shouldn't you be waiting for your dad?" he asked, this time making sure he kept his tone softer.
Little Dean shrugged. "He'll be gone all day. He won't even notice."
The words stung Dean harder than he thought they would. He recoiled slightly, disturbed by the timber in his younger voice. After a moment, he coughed and turned away, feeling the sudden need to check the oil in his car.
"You should listen to your dad," Dean muttered as he popped the hood. "He's only doing what's best for you."
"He said to stay with Sammy." His younger self nudged his head toward the motel room. "I'm with Sammy."
Little wiseass, Dean thought to himself. He stuck his head under the hood and started randomly checking parts of the engine. Maybe if he ignored himself long enough, he'd just go away.
"My dad has a car just like this."
"Yeah, it's amazing. What a coincidence."
Dean stiffened when he realized the other him was leaning in closer. "So you're really a hunter?"
He skirted away and checked the windshield wiper fluid. "Yeah. It's part of the family business."
"You must meet a lot of chicks."
Despite himself, Dean let out a chuckle. He glanced over to himself and smiled. "Flash 'em those pearly whites and they just can't say no."
His younger self scowled. "I'm good with girls. I don't need advice."
Dean had to keep from rolling his eyes. He seriously hoped he didn't always come off this way.
"Well, here's a tip for you. Not advice, but just something between you and me." He patted the grill of the Impala, his grin widening. "The chicks really dig the car. And flattery. That'll get you everywhere."
His younger self shrugged the advice off, but Dean could see the acceptance in his eyes. That's when Dean realized he was having a conversation with himself, which was just wrong on so many freaky psychological levels.
"So, have you killed lots of things?" he heard himself ask suddenly.
"So's my dad." Little Dean beamed. "He's the best."
Dean swallowed hard and gave a curt nod. "Yeah, there's no one else like him."
"You've heard of him before?"
Dean gave a sad smile. "You bet."
"One day, I'm going to show him how great I am. He'll see. He'll be proud."
"He'll be real proud," Dean whispered.
He bowed his head and closed his eyes, squeezing back the pain that threatened to well to the surface. He didn't have time for this kind of crap. What was done was done.
Dean exhaled and straightened himself. He shook his head, clearing it, as he shut the hood. He walked to the trunk and opened it, grabbing a cover for the car. "Wanna help me?"
Younger Dean frowned. "Why? It's a nice day."
"Gotta take care of my baby."
Dean grabbed the cover and swept it across the top of the Impala. His younger self helped fasten the ends. Once the cover was secure over the Impala, Dean took a step back to examine their work. No way did it hide the fact there was a classic car sitting underneath it, but at least it wasn't as obvious as before. They didn't need John taking a good long look at their car only to find it really was his car. That would unlock all kinds of crazy.
Not that having a heart-to-heart with yourself wasn't crazy enough. He glanced over to his younger self who in turn looked at him with a bright smile and shining eyes.
Dean shuddered. Hopefully, Sam had managed to convince himself to go back to the motel room since Dean doubted he'd be able to ditch himself any time soon.
"Uh, you shouldn't really be here," Sam said.
His younger self blew off the comment and walked into the room. Already, Sam could see that he was soaking in the scenery, cataloguing everything in his mind. Sam never knew if it was his natural inclination towards order, or if it was borne out of the need to understand a world his father and brother had kept closed to him.
His younger self stopped at the bed and leaned over the maps. "Are you tracking the monster?"
He nodded and sat at the edge of the bed, looking over the different materials Sam had been studying. Then, his gaze fell to one item in particular – Dad's journal.
Sam intercepted the journal before his other self could, but the damage was already done. The younger Sam stared at him and the journal, waiting for an explanation.
"It's private," Sam explained.
"It looks just like my dad's." His eyes flashed with a twinge of darkness. "Did you steal it?"
"No, no it's just..." Sam looked down at the brown leather bound journal and sighed. "We carry around a book with information so we always have it handy."
"Do all hunters have them?"
"I guess," Sam said. It wasn't an answer he really knew. He assumed all hunters had to carry something with them. Not everyone could have a library like Bobby.
His younger self let out an aggravated sigh as he slumped his shoulders. While he fingered the newspapers and documents on the bed, Sam took the opportunity to toss their dad's journal in Dean's duffle and peek out the window.
The hood of the Impala obscured Dean's head, but Sam could tell by the way he was tilted that he was talking. So was the younger Dean.
He sighed. He just hoped Dean wasn't spilling too much information.
As he tried to quell his own anxiety, Sam returned his attention to his younger self. His body went numb.
The box was wide open. By its side sat Little Sam, propped up between the bed and the desk, clutching one of the talismans in his small hand.
Sam reacted immediately. He charged across the room in two long strides, snapped on one of the gloves from the table, and tore the talisman from the other him's hand. Without a second thought, he dumped it into the box and slammed it shut.
His younger self fell silent and inched back. Sam didn't miss the look of terror in his young face, even in its brevity.
"I'm sorry," Sam said as he slumped into his chair. "I just – it could be dangerous. Are you okay? No tingling?"
The younger Sam scowled. "No. What was it?"
He let out a heavy sigh. "No one tells me anything."
Sam fell silent. As he studied himself, he felt as if he was looking into a mirror. He knew that look, the look of pain, of anger, of feeling isolated and cut off. Sam had spent a good part of his life in the dark, and somehow despite the risks, he realized he just couldn't help perpetuate that never-ending cycle of seclusion.
"You found out about all of this recently, didn't you?"
The younger Sam frowned. "How did you know?"
"I can tell. I think we're a lot alike." When his younger self's frown deepened, Sam continued. "I was left in the dark for a long time, and when I found out I didn't know what to do. I just wanted us to be normal."
The younger Sam nodded, but there seemed to be a new appreciation in his face, even some relief despite the concern mirrored in his eyes. "My dad fights monsters," he said quietly. "One day, the monsters might get him. They might get Dean and me."
Sam gave a nod, trying not to think of all he'd lost and all he would be losing. "I know. That's why you have to keep an eye on them. At least for now."
He nodded again. "I know."
Sam exhaled. He couldn't believe what he was about to do. He glanced over to the box and with a sigh, he dragged it across the table and pulled the chair in. His younger self, understanding what was about to happen, crowded in closer and leaned over, spying inside the velvet interior.
"We're not sure how it works, but we know there is magic involved," he explained. "My partner and I have been trying to figure it out, but that was before we found out about the bogeyman in town."
It wasn't a full truth, but it was enough to satisfy himself in more ways than one.
"I'm not sure what it does exactly," Sam said. "But I think it might be able to help someone I know."
"But the bogeyman has to come first?" he asked.
"Yes." Sam closed the box. "That's why we want to help your dad."
The younger Sam nodded and finally gave him a smile. "Thanks."
Sam couldn't help but smile to himself as he pushed the box back against the wall. All he wanted when he was younger was for someone to treat him like an adult, like a person, and not some ghost waiting on the outside, peering into a world that was everywhere yet unreachable.
He had just wanted some honesty.
Sam heard the door creak behind him. When he turned his head, he watched Dean walk inside followed by his much shorter counterpart. The exasperated look on his face told Sam everything.
Sam just shook his head in response.
Dean slapped his hands against his side in frustration. "Okay, you two should go—"
"All right! Twinkies!" Dean's younger self walked over to the table by the window and leaned over the junk food.
Sam turned to Dean and raised his eyebrows.
"My breakfast," Dean muttered. He sighed and nodded for the younger to take one. "You want one?" he asked Sam's young counterpart.
The younger Sam shook his head. Sam and Dean watched him patter off to meet his brother and settle down at the table.
"This is beyond weird," Dean said as he came to stand beside Sam.
"Tell me about it," Sam mumbled. He crossed his arms, suddenly feeling a little unnerved at how the younger Dean kept looking at the older Dean. "You know, maybe you had more than one role model growing up."
Sam smiled and looked back at the table. They were watching themselves, sixteen years younger, pick on each other. It was a comforting and oddly wrong feeling all wrapped into one, like pulling out a forgotten memory and turning it inside out, so that the participant became the observer while still living in the moment. Sam wondered if an out-of-body experience was something like that.
"We have to get rid of them," Sam said quietly.
"Yeah, sure. I'll just punch them out and take them back to their room. Sure Dad would love that."
Sam glared at him. "We keep running into ourselves and Dad more and more and I don't think it's a good idea."
"Well what the hell are we supposed to do? It's not our fault—what?"
Sam stopped listening to Dean and stared at the doorway. Standing between the frame appeared a very angry John Winchester.
Dean let out a nervous laugh. "This looks bad."
"We can explain this," Sam added.
But John wasn't speaking to them. His attention kept diverting to their younger selves seated at the table. Based on the blank looks on their faces, they knew they were in trouble.
"I thought I told you to stay in the motel room."
"We wanted to come see your friends," Little Sam said.
"Go to the room," John said. "Now."
The young Sam and Dean scrambled away from the table and slipped out the door. Sam caught them giving one last wistful stare through the window before they started running toward the motel room down the strip.
That left Sam and Dean to face their irate father.
"I warned you to stay away from my boys."
"They came to us," Dean said.
Sam shook his head, warning Dean not to go there.
"You poke around my car. You show up at one of the bogey's kidnappings. You follow me to my motel, and now you're with my kids." John took a menacing step forward. "I don't want you near us."
"Look, we don't want anything to do with your children," Sam said. "We're just here working a job."
"I don't care if you're hunters. Family's family. I want you gone tomorrow or I'm calling the cops."
Through the corner of his eye, Sam saw Dean shift his weight nervously. "Yes, sir," he muttered.
But Sam couldn't take the threat lightly. Dean might be off his game, but they still had a job to do. They still had a reason for being here. Sam couldn't let go of the fact that they had appeared in a spot that they had been to sixteen years ago. Something had cemented them to this time and place. They couldn't leave. Not yet.
"And what are you going to say?" Sam stepped in front of Dean and stared John in the eyes. "How are you going to explain why your children aren't in school right now? Or how you leave them alone during the day?"
"Sam!" Dean hissed under his breath.
John's eyes darkened. "Are you threatening me?"
"I'm just leveling the field," he said evenly. "We're here. You're here. We don't have to like each other, but we all want the same thing in the end. We want that bogeyman dead."
Sam wasn't sure if he had gotten through to John or not, but he thought he saw a slight softening in his eyes. "I want you to stay away," he said, pointing his finger. "Just stay away from my family."
John backed out the room and started down the walkway. Sam and Dean stood in silence as they watched him disappearing into the room at the end of the motel. Once he was gone, Sam felt a hard slap to his shoulder.
"Oh that was fantastic," Dean muttered. "Good job at the low profile thing."
"It will give us some space," Sam said. At least he hoped it would. Sam needed some time to think and consider what he might be missing in this giant puzzle. He had a feeling that if he couldn't pull the threads of the mystery of the box and the bogeyman together, then something terrible was going to happen. And with time wasting away, he couldn't afford to wait.