Category: Angst, Drama, Humor
Spoilers: Spoilers through On the Head of a Pin
Summary: When a hunt to protect one of the seals goes wrong, Sam awakens to find he's a hot-shot lawyer and Dean is a mechanic. Now, as the end of days nears, he must navigate a foreign life to figure out what went wrong, and get back to who he should be even if it means sacrificing the ones he loves.
Word Count: Approx. 33,000
Disclaimer: See previous posts
[Chapter 1][Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4]
Sam was losing patience. No matter whom he called, where he searched, or whom he cross-referenced, he couldn't find the damn mirror. He'd even called Mr. Shaker again, hoping to reach him, but the elusive man just could not be found.
He knew the longer it took him to find the mirror, the more likely this mess would escalate. The demons (or angels) were doing something. He knew that Castiel had told Dean that time couldn't be changed. So what was he experiencing? What was happening, and why only to him?
Was he trapped in a mirror world of his own making?
Sam couldn't keep the charade up for much longer. People like Ross could see something was wrong. He wouldn't be able to hide from his clients, his bosses, or any of the other perks and pitfalls of the legal world. Everything would crash on him, and crash soon, if he didn't find a way to fix it.
With a sigh, Sam closed the notepad and stared at the phone. He considered calling Mr. Shaker again, but he was afraid to scare the guy. Sam needed to do anything to secure the mirror, not kill his chances.
Then, the buzzer rang.
Sam groaned. He couldn't deal with another so-called buddy bugging him.
When the buzzer rang for the fourth consecutive time, Sam pulled himself up and walked back to the front door where the monitor for the security camera was stationed. He jerked, surprised to find Dean leaning against the entryway, poking at the buzzer over and over.
"I hear you," Sam said, pushing the call back button. "Come up."
"About time," Dean mumbled back.
Sam didn't care if this was mindwiped Dean, a fantasy Dean, or a different Dean altogether. It was great to actually see him.
He reached over and unlocked the door, standing back to wait for Dean to make it upstairs. Sam still didn't know how he was going to convince Dean of his dilemma, what he was going to say, or what he should even expect.
Sam didn't have time to dwell. Within moments, he heard shuffling in the hall outside of the elevators. When he heard a loud grunt, Sam reached over and opened the door, finding Dean leaning against the frame of the door, his arms straining to hold the various suitcases he carried.
"What's the emergency?" he asked, rather breathless.
Sam took a moment to appraise him. He seemed much like the Dean he remembered, but there were some small differences. His face was fuller, not by much, but had the healthy glow of someone who regularly enjoyed home cooked meals. His plaid shirt was buttoned and tucked into his jeans, and his disheveled hair, slightly longer, fell flat on his head.
"You just gonna stare or you plan on helping?"
Sam gave a sheepish grin as he grabbed some of the suitcases. He was about to ask if Dean had remembered to pack the kitchen sink, but before he could speak, he froze.
Behind Dean stood a slender blonde carrying a small young girl. A little boy clutched her free hand.
"Hi, Sam," she said.
Sam stared at the four of them. He was speechless.
The little boy, as if finally realizing where they were, released the woman's hand and launched himself at Sam. He threw his arms around Sam's legs and squeezed hard. When Sam looked down, the little boy was beaming. "Uncle Sam!"
The hole in the pit of Sam's stomach deepened. His voice finally returned, and the words were out before he could censor himself. "You have kids?"
The smile on the woman's face faltered and Dean's looked mutinous. Sam quickly backtracked and cleared his throat. "I mean, you have your kids with you?"
"Charlotte didn't want me to come alone," Dean told him. He ushered the boy away from Sam and back to his mother. "Afraid I might speed and get into an accident or something."
Sam let out a half-hearted laugh. He didn't know how to respond to that.
Deciding not to bury himself any further, he secured his grip on the luggage and started toward his room. "Come in and sit down," he called over his shoulder. Dean followed him with the rest of the suitcases.
They both set the luggage down in his master bedroom. As Sam glanced at the bed, a sudden thought occurred to him. He had no idea where he was going to have everyone sleep. The second bedroom served as his study, and he couldn't stick any of them on the couch. He supposed they could all fit on his master bed, but even though the kids were small, that was going to be a tight fit.
He wondered if he had an air mattress or cots around, but one look at his opulent surroundings and he guessed that was about as likely as pigs flying.
"You could at least pretend," Dean muttered, as he stood in the doorway and glanced out to the living room. "You might see them only like twice a year, but they exist, you know."
"Sorry," Sam managed to say. "I just expected you to come alone."
Dean just shrugged off the comment and waited at the doorway. Sam wanted more than anything to pull him aside and tell him what was happening, fill him in on every last detail, but there was something holding him back. Sam felt guarded, and that old ache returned.
He had only been with this Dean for a few minutes, but already there was a palpable distance between them, not unlike the one that had been killing him this past year since Dean had come back from Hell. The disappointment pressed down on his shoulders. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting.
"So, what's this emergency?" Dean asked again, this time with evident annoyance in his voice. "What did ya need me for?"
Sam looked at him. Blurting out how he needed to use Dean as a blood sacrifice wouldn't be the best way to open this conversation. He ran his fingers through his hair. The family revelation was complicating things.
The agitation in Dean's eyes softened, and Sam swore he saw a hint of concern. "What?" he asked. "What's got you ruffled?"
There was a crash in the living room.
Dean bolted from the room. Sam followed him and stopped when he saw the destruction. One of the kids, the boy, apparently had knocked over one of the expensive vases that he kept on his coffee table. The boy was in tears, his face buried in his mother's pants as she stroked his hair.
"He got excited and knocked it over," Charlotte said.
"It's okay," Sam said. In truth, he didn't even know what that vase was supposed to represent, so he wasn't bothered in the least. "It was just an accident."
He reached over to the supply closet in the hall and retrieved a dustpan and brush. When he reentered the room, he saw Dean already trying to pick up the sharp edges with his hands, while the little girl watched, babbling, as she kicked her little legs off the side of the sofa.
Sam had no time to make this place kid proof. He was still reeling at the idea of kids. No matter how hard he tried to process the information, the idea of Dean as a father wouldn't stick.
Sam bent low and swept up the remaining pieces, holding the dustpan steady so Dean could dump the large pieces he'd scraped off the floor.
"It's okay, uh…" Sam let his voice trial off, suddenly mortified when he realized he didn't know the kids' names. "Don't worry about it."
He could feel Dean's glare burning a hole in the side of his head. He did his best to ignore it and finished cleaning the mess, walking quickly from the living room to the kitchen so no one could see how embarrassed he was.
Sam needed to think of something fast. He needed a way to keep them occupied while he came up with a plan. While he prided himself on the ability to think fast, he knew he was at a distinct disadvantage in this situation.
He swung the refrigerator door open and sighed. Just as he's expected, there wasn't much inside. He had a few necessities, and some bottles of water, and a bottle of wine chilling on the last shelf, but he severely lacked any food of substance. He could only guess that he spent most of his time dining out with friends and clients.
When he felt a presence behind him, he slammed the door shut and went for the kitchen counter. He knew Dean was watching his every move. He avoided his gaze and started to flip through the phone book.
"Do they like pizza?" Sam asked, his finger hovering over the closest parlor location. "What do they like on it?"
"Timothy and Rebecca," Dean finally told him. There was no mirth in his face or in his eyes. "I'd have thought you'd know their names by now."
Sam winced. He was sure that if he really was an estranged brother living the life of a city lawyer, he would at least know their names, but nothing short of a miracle would magically dump a lifetime's worth of alternate experiences into Sam's head right now.
"What the hell's wrong with you? Are we that unimportant?"
Sam faced Dean. There was a mix of sadness, pain, anger, and concern laced throughout the features of his face. Vaguely, Sam wondered if this was how Dean must have felt when he was trapped in the world created by the djinn.
"No," Sam said quietly. "It's not like that."
"Then what's it like? Huh? Because right now I feel like I'm talking to a total stranger."
Dean didn't know how right he was.
"I'll explain later. I promise," he said. "But you look hungry. Let's order some pizza first to feed the kids."
Dean didn't look too happy at the suggestion, but Sam was sure the appeal of food would win out in the end if this version of Dean were anything like the one he remembered. When Dean didn't protest, Sam took that as a sign that he agreed. Sam called the pizza parlor and placed his order, hoping for the deliveryman to get there as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the act of eating together would break the ice.
Mealtime was awkward. Sam had ordered a couple of pizzas, some soda, and paper cups and plates. Charlotte sat with Rebecca diagonal from him at the table, Dean across from him, and Timothy had dislodged himself from his parents to firmly plant himself by Sam's right side. Every so often, when Sam stole a peek to his right, he saw the little boy smiling up at him. Sam would promptly stare at his plate.
Charlotte kept quiet through the dinner. After she cut up a couple of cheese pizza slices into bite-sized pieces for Timothy and Rebecca, she started on her own slice. When she wasn't watching them eat, her uneasy gaze found him. He didn't know if she was shocked he hadn't shown off his expensive dinnerware or if she thought he figured they weren't good enough to be served with his very best.
Dean also remained quiet, but there was a dark air that hovered around him. Sam had become used to it back in his normal life; Dean had been carrying that same air like a black stain since he'd come back from Hell. But this time, here, Sam knew the circumstances were different. He could almost see through Dean if he tried hard enough, knowing his brother was struggling to work out why he was here, and when the other shoe would drop. Sam assumed Dean was trying to understand what the emergency could be, if it had been worth the trip, or if Sam was just playing one big mental game with him. From his encounter with other people in Boston, Sam knew that messing around with people's heads seemed to be one of his specialties.
He couldn't think about any of that right now. Sam knew he had to corner Dean, ensure they were alone for some privacy, so he could spring his plan on him. Sam just didn't know how to do it.
The only hint of normalcy came from the children who kept babbling on in a way that Sam didn't understand.
Dean was the first to speak. "You look thinner," he muttered. "Mom's gonna be pissed."
Sam tried to cover the ache that the mention of their mother caused by taking a bite of his slice of pepperoni pizza.
Charlotte cleared her throat and shook her head at Dean. He quickly censored himself by ramming another piece of pizza into his overfilled mouth.
"We would have been here sooner," she said, "but we hit some traffic on I-95 in Connecticut." She gave Dean a pointed look.
Dean ignored the look and downed half a glass of soda.
"Daddy's scared of planes," Timothy explained.
Sam swore he heard Dean mutter something about clowns under his breath as he continued to chew.
Another uncomfortable silence filled the room. Sam turned to his half-eaten pizza, moving to pluck a few extra pepperoni slices off the top. He could tell Timothy was leaning close, watching him with interest.
Then, a distinct odor hit the table, and Sam wrinkled his nose. Dean raised his eyebrows, and for a second, he thought he saw the ghost of a smile glide across his face. Charlotte was the one to make the move.
"Sam?" she asked, standing and plucking Rebecca out of her seat. "Is there anywhere I can use to change her?"
"Oh." Sam looked around. Nothing he knew would really serve as a changing table, aside from the counter. The thought of a dirty diaper all over the kitchen didn't sit well with him.
"Just use the bed," Dean said. "Sure Sammy won't mind."
Sam gave them both an uneasy smile. "Sure."
He watched Charlotte hurry Rebecca out of the kitchen, stooping to grab something in the connecting living room, before she rushed into his master bedroom. That left Sam alone with Timothy and Dean.
Sam stole another glance toward Timothy. His head dropped, his little stubby fingers picking at a large red stain on his shirt. The more he dug at it, the more the stain seemed to spread.
Dean was already on his feet. He dabbed a paper towel with some of his spit and started wiping at the spot. Timothy thought it was funny and let out a chuckle, but Dean managed to get the job done. Timothy seemed a little red faced from the ordeal, and for a moment Sam thought maybe he'd messed his pants, too.
Sam looked to Dean. "Does he--?"
"Nah," Dean said, picking up Timothy and plopping onto the seat next to Sam. He lowered the boy onto his lap. "I told you he'd been potty trained back at Thanksgiving dinner at Mom and Dad's."
"Right." Sam nodded for the hell of it.
Dean eyed him in that way that reminded Sam of a hunter on the prowl.
"Big boy pants!" Timothy exclaimed, slapping his shorts.
"That's right," Dean said, and for the first time that night, he saw his brother truly smile. He bounced the boy on his knee once before he bent over to look him in the face. "Why don't you go get some of your trucks to show Uncle Sam?"
He squirmed in Dean's arms until his feet hit the floor. Then, he was off running for the living room. There was a momentary pause. As Sam leaned back for a better view, he saw the kid bolt from the living room, probably realizing none of his stuff was in there, and make a beeline for the bedroom.
"Hey, no running!" yelled Dean, but the boy zoomed into the bedroom regardless. Dean just shook his head. Once he was out of sight, Dean smiled again and muttered "Timmaaay" as he made a face.
Sam stared at him. "You named your son after South Park?"
Dean frowned. "Yeah, so? I like that show. It's got cartoon…dudes."
Sam laughed. For a second, he could have sworn he was sitting with his brother, the one he'd known all his life, not some other warped version that left him feeling uneasy and alone.
Dean wasn't laughing. He'd grown serious again, leaving Sam to wonder if he'd missed another detail or cue that he should have known.
"Is it cancer or something?" Dean asked, his voice grave, barely above a whisper.
Sam blinked. "What?"
"It is, right? Cancer. Some disease? The weight. The meds messing up your head, memory, something."
"Dean, I don't have cancer."
"Drugs? Gambling? Prostitution ring?"
Sam let out an aggravated sigh. "I'm not on drugs, and no, I don't have a gambling problem." He frowned. "Prostitution?"
Dean's face displayed his complete puzzlement. "What's the emergency? One of your psycho clients after you?"
That comment made Sam freeze. Did Dean know about his "charity" cases?
He could see that Dean thought he'd hit the jackpot the way his eyes lit up. "So you got some whack job on your case?"
"Something like that," Sam mumbled. He decided to leave the demon part out for now.
"And you didn't think about calling the cops? Trying to play hero?" Dean shook his head. "What's this got to do with me?" And suddenly Dean's face changed. He looked scared, his eyes dancing with an anxious fire, as he glanced over at the bedroom towards his family.
"No, not like that," Sam assured him. Or was it to assure himself? He lowered his voice when he saw Charlotte emerge with Timothy and Rebecca in tow. "I'll tell you as soon as it settles down."
Dean stared at him, but didn't argue the point.
"Sam." Charlotte offered a small smile as she glanced at the flat-screen TV. "Do you think it would be okay for the kids to watch one of their movies?"
"Oh, sure." Sam jumped to his feet and led them into the living room. He paused by the DVD player.
"Why're you asking? Just use it," Dean said, after throwing himself onto the couch. "He's the one that had us drag our asses out here for nothing."
"Dean!" Charlotte's eyes were livid.
"Fine. Drag our bums for nothing."
Sam let the comment go. He turned to reach out his hand for the DVD when he saw Rebecca take a hesitant step toward him, holding the DVD case in her hands. She slowly brought it to his fingers, her wide eyes watching his every move. When he took the case, she squealed and ran behind her mother.
Charlotte laughed and patted her head. While Sam was relieved to see the woman relax, he couldn't help but be confused. He glanced at Dean, a questioning look on his face.
"She thinks you're a giant," Dean explained.
"Don't take it personally," Charlotte said. "She thinks there's a monster in your parents' clock."
The thought of a monster living in the house of two hunters made Sam chuckle until he realized where he was and how things had changed. He started to wonder if there really was a monster there, and they didn't know it.
"My frucks," Timothy said, coming to Sam and holding up an assortment of colored vehicles.
Sam wasn't sure what he was supposed to do or say, so he just nodded and held out one of his hands. Timothy plopped a navy blue pick-up into his palm.
"Trucks," Charlotte said. "Your trucks."
"He has trouble with some words," Dean told him.
"I can see that."
Sam regretted the retort right away, but whatever misgivings Dean had were interrupted by the start of the movie. Charlotte had eased in next to him, content as Dean slung his arm over her shoulder, while Rebecca squeezed between them, humming happily as she pointed to the logos on the screen. Dean opened his mouth, apparently about to call for Timothy, but the boy had other plans.
Timothy grabbed Sam's free hand and steered him toward the middle of the floor. The little boy plopped himself down in front of the TV and started to tug.
"Come watch," he said.
Sam looked down at Timothy. If ever he felt like a giant, it was now. The boy gazed at him with expectant eyes, the anticipation etched in his face. Sam knew he should do anything but sit down and watch a movie. He had a magic mirror to chase. He had a demon breaking seals. He had a life that needed reclaiming. Sam didn't have time for distractions.
The tug persisted, now with a sense of urgency; the movie was about to start.
"I don't get it," he heard Dean mumble. "Sees him twice a year and he's like a god."
Sam smiled despite himself.
They were twenty minutes into the movie - some story about talking bugs - when the phone rang. Sam excused himself and made his way to the kitchen, trying not to feel too guilty about leaving a saddened little boy behind.
He picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Sam? This is Patrick Shaker."
Sam's eyes widened. He covered the receiver for a moment and motioned to Charlotte and Dean that he needed to take the call. Dean looked mildly annoyed, but didn't protest. Sam didn't dare look at Timothy. He strode across the room to his study and eased the door shut, leaving it open just a crack, before he sat down in the chair at his desk.
"Hi," he said, offering his friendliest tone. "This is Sam Winchester. You recently bought an antique mirror from me?"
"What's with the formalities, Sam? Frantic calls. Distant attitude. Am I in that little black hit list book of yours now?"
Sam forced a smile. "No, just been a long day."
"Tell me about it. What can I do for you?"
"I feel silly for asking, but I'm starting to have some second thoughts about that mirror. I was wondering if you were willing to part with it?"
He heard a sucking sound, like a deep inhalation with no end, before finally he was greeted with a dejected sigh. "I'm sorry. I just sold that thing to a buyer on Long Island."
Sam grabbed onto the arm of the chair and clutched it hard. "What if I outbid your buyer?"
"Hey, you know you're one of my best clients and I'd do anything for you, Sam, but I have my integrity and reputation on the line here. She made a fair purchase and I can't take it away from her."
"You wouldn't be able to give me the name of the buyer? Maybe I can talk to her and see if we can make an arrangement."
He heard the hesitation and indecision in the silence that followed. "I don't know. Privacy law and all."
Sam forced a charitable laugh. "I think you know me well enough to know that I'm not going to run out and harass the woman."
The other man chuckled in return. "True. Look, how about this. The mirror ships out this weekend from New Bedford. So, when she receives the mirror, I'll give you the information so you can fly out there. She's a nice old lady and I'm sure she'd love the company."
Sam frowned. "New Bedford?"
"Oh, you know my man Charlie down at the wharf. Way cheaper to ship out of the wharf down there than trying to get anything out of the harbor up here. Well, if you know the right people," he said with a chuckle.
Sam laughed and wrote the name on his pad. "Where's Charlie located by the way? You mentioned shipping, and I realized I could throw the man some business."
"Oh, no problem. He's right there on the wharf. Building is 565, I think. Big red building. You can't miss it. I'll tell him you're coming by."
"Yeah," Sam scribbled down the location. "Probably not until next week when my schedule clears."
"He'll be happy either way."
Sam said goodbye and ended the call. He grinned at the piece of paper in his hands. An address. He was going to grab that mirror and be done with this.
When he looked up, he saw Dean standing in the doorway.
Sam narrowed his eyes. "Do you always listen in on people's conversations?"
Dean shrugged, but Sam already knew the answer. This Dean was no different than the one he had grown up with, not in that regard.
"Little obsessive," Dean said, picking at the doorknob. "For a mirror."
"I really need it," Sam said, knowing his voice sounded defensive.
"Yeah." Dean peered out into the living room before he glanced back at Sam. "Timmy's dying for you to get back. Wanted to pause the movie and everything."
Sam felt a twinge of guilt. Part of him really wanted to sit down and watch a movie with his "nephew." The thought sounded so strange, so normal, but almost comforting. He still wasn't sure what was happening, but he knew he had to fix it. He just didn't want to destroy everything else along the way.
Dean was waiting, and he didn't look happy. He let out a heavy sigh and slapped his thighs. "Come on, man. When you gonna be straight with me?"
And suddenly, all that guilt, all the lies and secrets he'd kept the past year hit him. He just wanted to be honest with Dean. That's all he ever wanted.
Sam realized if he ever was going to have a moment to talk to Dean, this was it. "I know this is going to be hard to understand." He took a deep breath. "I hunt things."
"You do not," Dean said matter-of fact. "You remember that time that Dad wanted to go deer hunting?" He puckered his face and whined, "'Oh no, you can't, poor Bambi.'" Dean snorted. "Right."
"You cried at Bambi, Daddy."
Sam and Dean turned their heads at the sound of the small voice. Rebecca was standing between the partially closed door and the frame, the traces of a big pizza sauce grin still on her face. She must have overcome most of her initial shyness, but Sam noticed her gaze would flicker to him every few seconds.
Dean shot a devastated look at his daughter. Then, after a quick recovery, he chuckled. "Daddy's having a private conversation. Scoot, kiddo. Go see Mommy." He pat her on the back to get her to move before he shut the door. Dean sniffed and shot a somewhat embarrassed look to Sam. "Never mind that."
Sam shook his head. "Whatever, Dean. But the truth is I hunt things. Supernatural things."
Sam nodded. "Monsters, ghosts, demons."
Dean stared at him. "You're serious."
"Yeah, and I can prove it to you."
"How you gonna do that?"
Sam took another deep breath. He hated to have to strike a defenseless Dean, but he promised himself he'd go easy on him.
Without warning, Sam reeled back and threw a punch.
Dean blocked him.
Momentarily stunned, Sam jumped back, but he quickly pushed the doubt from his mind and went to strike again. Just as before, Dean blocked the punch and went for his face.
Now Sam was on the defensive as Dean attacked. The two of them sparred, grabbing punching, kicking, sweeping - both of them using the tips and tricks their father taught them. For a few seconds, Sam thought he was lost in time, taken back years before, as he and Dean had lived out a similar mock challenge on the floor of his apartment. But that was another time, another life, and Sam pushed the thoughts from his mind as he went in for the kill.
Sam pinned Dean to the floor and looked down into his eyes. His brother started laughing. Sam had a sickening thought; what if Dean was a possessed? What if he was a demon? But as quickly as he thought of the notion, it was gone. Dean started to cough.
"I'm not that bad," he said in his own defensive. "I still got it."
"Got it?" Sam snorted. "I kicked your ass."
Dean muttered, and then gasped, but managed to force himself to sit. "Only cause I'm out of practice."
Sam shook off the excuse, but one question remained: How did Dean know all of the defensive and offensive moves their dad had taught them?
He felt his heart pound harder. "You remember--?"
"Remember?" Dean held out his hand and Sam pulled him to his feet. "Dude, I'm the oldest. Dad taught me first."
Now Sam was thoroughly confused. He pondered whether Dean had retained some memories of their former life, or if the mirror had warped everyone's memories. His last thought couldn't possibly work. Not with Dean having kids.
Dean must have read the confusion in his face. The edges of his face softened, replaced with worry and concern. Above all, Sam felt a twinge of guilt, of concealment, in his eyes. It was a look he remembered clearly from years ago, back on one dreary Christmas Eve.
Sam felt like he was eight all over again, desperate to know just what he was and what their family did. "Are we hunters?" he asked.
Dean bowed his head and grew quiet. Sam almost thought he was going to open the door and walk out. He didn't. After he paused by door -- Sam assumed he was making sure they were alone -- he looked back to Sam. "What's the matter with you?"
Sam wished he knew. He would give anything to figure his own way out of this mess.
"Are you having some crisis? You're way too young for that mid-life crap."
Sam kept his gaze locked on Dean and shook his head. He tried a different tactic. "Are you a hunter? Just answer me."
"What the hell is there to answer? You got amnesia? One of your celeb clients pump you with too much crack?"
"Dean, please. Humor me."
Dean sighed. "I left that years ago. Mom was having fits."
Sam just gave him a blank look. Time was supposed to be immobile, untouchable. Whatever happened, happened. The demon couldn't have changed Sam's past. This had to be something else. Sam needed to know more.
"You're supposed to know that," Dean said. "You're supposed to know a lot of things, but you don't."
"There's something wrong," Sam said.
"You're telling me. Something wrong with your head."
Dean whipped out his cell phone and started mumbling. Sam stared at him, aghast. "What are you doing?"
"I'm calling Dad," he muttered. "You've gone and lost it. He'll know what to do."
Sam charged up to him and ripped the phone out of his hands. Dean's expression wavered between a glare and pure astonishment, maybe even a hint of fear. Even here, Dean deferred to their father. Sam couldn't believe it.
"Dad taught us to fight. He wanted us to protect ourselves. Why?" Sam asked. "Why would he do that? Why would he need to do that if Mom is alive?"
Dean stared at him like he'd grown another head. While they looked at each other, speechless, Sam started to understand. He could see past the confusion in Dean's eyes, past the cloud of anger and doubt, to what he had begun to suspect all this time.
Mary was a hunter. No matter how hard she tried to run from that life, it would eventually catch up with her, just like it had done with Sam. Hunting wasn't escapable. Mary must have known this. Mary would have wanted her sons prepared, eventually, in case something were to happen.
That was all part of a life Sam had never known. As he looked deep into Dean's eyes, the cloud started to lift, and in that moment, he knew Dean understood as well.
"You're not my brother."
Dean's voice was level, but hard.
"No," Sam said quietly. "I don't think so."
"Who the hell are you?" he asked, angry. "Where's my brother?"
The questions ran like a ticker through Dean's eyes. Sam could see the fire smoldering just beneath. He wondered if Sam was a demon, a shapeshifter, or any number of creatures. But Dean, this Dean, was not the hunter his brother was, and lacked the resources, the speed, or the initiative to do anything. He hadn't even tried to use silver or holy water to check if Sam was something else.
Sam swallowed hard. That concerned him.
"I don't know what happened. Just hear me out, okay?"
Dean nodded, but his anger was already driving his body. He started to pace.
"I was living a different life. We both were. I woke up days ago living this life." He sucked in a deep breath. "This isn't right, Dean. None of this is right. We're supposed to be hunters."
"No," Dean said. "No, we aren't. What the hell you talking about?"
"I don't know if time has changed or if your memories have been altered or if I've been transplanted into some alternate dimension where everything is different." He shook his head, wishing Dean would open up to the possibilities. "Whatever happened, I don't belong here. I don't belong doing this."
"So, what? You're a walking Twilight Zone?"
Sam let out a nervous chuckle. Sometimes that's exactly how he felt.
"So, okay, so you're just Sam with different memories?" Dean nodded and rubbed his hands together, giving Sam the impression he was hatching some master plot. "We find something, fix you up, and you're normal again?"
Sam frowned. He didn't like Dean's use of the word normal.
"Dad'll know what to do. He knows a couple of people. Mom knows tons of people. Of course, they're on that cruise you bought for their anniversary, so don't know how much help they'll be…"
He looked up.
"I already know what we have to do."
Dean groaned. "That mirror?"
Sam nodded. "Whatever happened it starts and ends with that mirror."
"Some kind of charm? Hex?" Dean asked, surprising Sam.
"I'm not sure yet," Sam said truthfully. "I just know that is what we need to fix everything."
"And we do this and your right memories come back?"
"Something will happen," Sam stressed. "I still don't know exactly what happened. I just know that the mirror will fix it."
That seemed enough to placate Dean for now. He nodded and composed himself, giving a side-glance to the door. "Not a word to Charlotte," he warned Sam.
Sam agreed. There was no need to drag anyone else into this.
"We'll need to leave. I know where to get the mirror."
A slight frown creased Dean's brow. "Leave?"
"Just a little over an hour south from here," Sam assured him. "We go in, grab the mirror, complete the incantation, and it's over." Sam wished their plans were that simple, but there was no sense in scaring off Dean. When he saw the anxiety hadn't ebbed, he realized Dean was concerned for a different reason. "I might not be the brother you remember, but I wouldn't put your family at risk," Sam said quietly. He handed Dean back his cell phone. "We're still brothers, just different."
No truer words had ever been spoken, he thought to himself.
His reassurances helped calm Dean. The weight on his shoulders seemed to lift; some of the spark returned to his eyes.
"Let's go, then."
The two exited the study and started for the door. As they passed the couch, Sam noticed that Rebecca and Timothy were on either side of their mother, but Charlotte didn't move to face them.
"Have a job?" she asked casually.
Dean froze by the door. "Uh, just going out for some…ice."
"Do me a favor and give me the common courtesy of being honest."
Dean looked to Sam.
"I just need to borrow Dean for a little while," he told her. "It shouldn't take more than a few hours."
She still didn't turn. Sam could tell by the stiffness to her shoulders that she was angry, possibly scared.
One of the small bodies stirred next to her. Rebecca's tiny hands poked over the top of the leather. "Come see, Daddy?"
Dean broke away from Sam and walked to the other side of the couch so he was facing his family. "Uncle Sam and I will watch it with you tomorrow. It'll be super special."
Sam saw their twinkling eyes mirrored in Dean's.
He stopped and leaned over Charlotte. "It'll be quick."
"I don't like it," she whispered. "The two of you shouldn't go. Something will go badly, I just know it."
Dean grinned and gave her a kiss. "Me and Sammy? We're invincible." When she didn't laugh he touched her face. "I'll call you. We'll be back soon. Just picking something up."
He gave her another kiss before giving his two kids a couple of kisses on their foreheads. Then, he turned to Sam, his face turning glum, as they exited the apartment.
They were just going to pick up the mirror, Sam assured himself as they walked to the elevator. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shake the sense of foreboding that came from Charlotte's warning, forced to carry it with him into the night.