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] [Chapter 6]
That night Dean stayed by the window. Every few minutes he would lean over the table and push back the curtain to peek outside. He couldn't really see anything aside from a shadow or two as they passed across the shrouded window in John's room. He knew that the younger versions of themselves had to still be getting chewed out by their dad.
He also knew he was driving his Sam crazy.
"Dude, will you relax?"
Dean lifted the curtain again. "I am relaxed."
"You've been sitting there most of the day," Sam said. He turned sideways in his chair, away from the desk, to stare at Dean. "Do you know how creepy that looks?"
"No creepier than you playing with that box all day."
Sam shook his head. "Well, at least I'm being productive."
"I'm productive," he said with a frown.
"No, you're sulking," Sam said.
Sam let out an aggravated sigh and turned back to the box. Dean knew he was alternating between deciphering the Latin on the paper and studying the talismans. And while he knew that Sam was being careful, Dean was still nervous that in the blink of an eye, he might go poof and even up in the middle of the Civil War. The box had some serious mojo, and for all the hunts they'd been on, Dean still felt uneasy around something that could hold that much power.
Plus, he had to admit Sam's obsessive fascination with it didn't help none. He didn't have a clue why Sam would be so convinced that a stupid puzzle box was the key to saving him.
But he didn't have time to think about that right now. He pulled back the curtain and tried to steal another glimpse of their dad.
He figured his dad would do one of three things. One, he would wait until he and Sam left somewhere and would break into their room and search the joint. If they never left the room, then he'd quietly observe from afar, just waiting for his opportunity to strike. Finally, if only one of them left the motel room, then he'd tail that person, waiting to get them alone and spring to attack.
Since the third option would inevitably happen, he was banking on John to choose that one.
That meant he was going to be stuck with Sam in a small motel room for the night.
God help him.
Dean spent the next couple of hours poring over the paperwork Sam had accumulated on the case. All afternoon he had picked at Sam's work, going over the places the bogey had hit and possible locations for where it was hiding. But no matter how hard he focused on the paperwork, he just couldn't concentrate. He still couldn't concentrate.
Instead, he just kept seeing the image of his younger self munching on a Twinkie while the younger Sam babbled on about something. The image made him feel warm, and he longed to go back to those days when all he had to do was whatever his dad told him and his biggest concern was to make sure Sam was okay. While that had never changed, the stakes were higher now, more complicated, and with his time running out, he couldn't afford these distractions.
Dean leaned back in his seat and turned his head, finding Sam watching him. "What?"
"Yeah." Sam's face puckered with concern. "Are you okay?"
Dean gazed at the map in front of him. The biggest places outside of town were some old farm ruins and a mineshaft, both of which he knew his dad would have already checked. The thing had to be close by, but he couldn't think of any other dank dark place the bogey could hide.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine," he muttered. "I'm just trying to make sense of this." He sighed. "Did we look sick to you? Like the flu or something?"
Sam shook his head. "No, I was wondering about that. Maybe we get sick later."
"Yeah." Whatever it was, Dean didn't like it.
"Why don't you go take a drive and see what you can find?" Sam asked.
"Can't. Dad's watching us." He rubbed his eyes. "Besides, aren't you the one that keeps blasting me for going out?"
"Yeah, but it's hard to get work done when you keep muttering to yourself." Sam paused. "Dad's watching us?"
Dean didn't look up from the map, but tapped the window glass to make his point. "After your little outburst, no way is he taking his eyes off us. He's waiting for one of us to leave."
Sam collapsed into the back of his chair. "That complicates things."
"Ya think?" He scrubbed his face and sighed. "This thing is going to hit again tomorrow if we don't figure out where it's hiding."
"Why don't you work on it in the morning?" Sam offered. "You look beat."
"I'm not beat." Dean forced himself to sit up a little straighter. He knew the answer was right here staring him in the face. He just couldn't see it. Dean thought he was doing pretty well on this case considering he wasn't cheating like Sam was with his déjà vu vibes.
He heard Sam start to protest behind him, but Dean did his best to block it out. He grabbed his dad's journal and opened it up to the page on bogeymen and resolved to find some answers before the night was done.
Dean had fallen asleep hours ago. Sam let him stay sprawled out over the maps and documents, not in the mood to bother him or get into an argument. He just hoped Dean didn't drool too much and ruin all of his hard work.
He sighed as he glanced back at Dean. He knew this whole case was taxing him. His brother didn't seem to realize that it hurt Sam too, but for whatever reason everything seemed to strike Dean faster and harder. Sam had learned long ago that Dean could function and get the job done despite the raw emotion their job brought, yet he was having serious doubts about that ability this time around. Seeing Dad was too much. It just was too much for either of them to handle for very long.
That was why Sam felt so torn. On the one hand, he knew that he needed to unlock the puzzle around the charm box, but on the other hand, he still felt this inescapable pressure to remain here in the past just a little longer or else the consequences would be disastrous.
He didn't know how he knew this. In fact, he was starting to doubt it was déjà vu and worried that Dean was right: his powers were creeping back in again.
Sam shook his head. That answer didn't feel right. It was something else. Something was happening that he just hadn't discovered yet.
So, it was back to the drawing board.
Sam reached into the charm box and withdrew the small piece of paper with the awkward and stilted handwriting scribbled across it. He had already deciphered half of the scribbles, though some of the writing was so severe he was unsure if he would ever unlock it. He squinted at the print; he still felt it appeared purposefully coded, as if someone had made it their mission to make this hard on him.
So far, he knew that the Latin was a spell to activate the talisman. He knew that even before he started translating the messy handwriting. At least now, he was certain.
The spell centered on travel and the passage through impossible places. In this case, Sam assumed that meant time.
The reverse side had most of the same writing with only a few words changed. It remained as coded and messy as the original side.
Sam sighed. He was starting to lose patience. He didn't understand why the note had been created to be so cryptic. If they were meant to be here, why make it so difficult to read? It almost seemed like whoever had penned the spell had taken great pains to make the notations as messy and indecipherable as possible. Frustrated, Sam held the paper up to the light to see if he could find a new perspective.
And that was when he saw it. Near the top of the sheet, he noticed a faded logo, so light on the sixteen-year-old paper that it was barely visible. Sam couldn't believe he'd missed it.
He blinked. That was the motel's logo.
Sam had written the spell.
Feeling a spark of energy hit him, Sam jumped to his feet and grabbed the pad of paper beside Dean's head. His brother didn't stir, which was fine with Sam, and kept catching up on the sleep he'd missed the past few days.
Sam, on the other hand, reeling with the anticipation of a new discovery, felt energized and refreshed. He flattened the crumpled note on the desk and started mimicking everything he saw onto the notepad. He found himself laughing, finally realizing it was his own handwriting that he had tried to distort. He didn't know why he would do that to himself, but he knew there had to be a valid reason. Maybe it was just another sign they needed to stay in the past longer.
Whatever the reason, Sam knew that now that he recognized his own handwriting through the deliberate coding, he could figure out and find the patterns he created. He was one step closer to solving this puzzle and giving them the opportunity to go back home.
He knew he was one step closer to helping Dean.
Satisfied, Sam held up the paper to the light once more.
And that was when he found the second hidden mark.
On the bottom of the paper, scratched and etched into the fibers, faded and light but without ink, read one simple sentence, a sentence that zapped all the hope from him, replacing the optimism with a growing fear.
Don't let him go.