1) While I've been in fanfiction, bouncing about different fandoms, for a bit over a decade, now, this is my first story built from a game. I originally tried to shake off this plunnie, but it would not go away, so here we are.
2) Updates will be sporadic. Chapter lengths may vary (some may near 5k words, some may be drabble-length [but I will never write anything that doesn't add to the story, I cannot express to you how very, genuinely much I hate giving readers filler, so I just don't, hence the varying chapter lengths and sporadic updates]).
3) While this story will not be nearly as actiony as the game, there will be a stronger supernatural/spooky element here. What can I say? Ghost stories are kind of my bread and butter.
4) Some of the background elements of the game will be in-use here, with respect to both their original purpose and their purpose in-game (for example: the totem pieces will make an appearance and play a particular role).
5) If you didn't play the game, or didn't play it all the way through, this story isn't going to make a whole lot o' sense to you, as it picks up six months after the night of the game's events.
6) Basic warnings apply: Will contain violence, smut, and possible dark themes & general spooky creepiness.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Until Dawn, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit, in any form, from the creation of this work.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Chris frowned, shaking his head as he set down his beer. "You can't be serious, Sam."
Rolling her eyes, she ignored the feel of him and Ashley both gaping at her like she'd just sprouted a second head. "I'm totally serious."
"Who's serious about what?" Mike broke into the conversation as he pulled up the chair on Sam's other side. The bar was quiet this time of night, so he kept his voice low, but still she jumped. He narrowed his eyes, but kept the observation to himself—jumping wasn't much like her.
Ashley twisted her fingers nervously on the table in front of her as she answered. "Sam said she wants to go back."
Sam bit hard into her bottom lip as Mike pinned her with a wide-eyed stare.
"She's clearly insane," Chris said with a sigh before taking a long swing from his bottle.
Trying to break the sudden tension in the air, Mike cracked a grin. "I'm not sure she ever was sane, dude."
Uttering a scoffing sound, Sam slapped him on the arm.
Finishing off her own beer, she shook her head and stood. "You know what? You guys are right, I shouldn't have even brought it up." Six months had passed since that horrible night, and while most people would talk something like that to death to get over it, they never brought it up, not once. She'd considered that might be the best thing for all of them . . . .
Until she heard what had become of the very people she'd told to go into the mines.
"I think I'm gonna call it a night."
A thoughtful expression pinching his features, Mike watched her go as Chris and Ash called out goodnights. She offered a quick wave as she crossed paths with Jess on her way out the door.
He didn't know if it was good luck or bad that Jess assumed he was looking at her as she crossed the floor to their table. While he was beyond glad Jess had made it out alive after everything that had happened to her that night, he couldn't quite say he was happy she'd stuck herself to his side long after he'd felt their so-called relationship had run its course—which, in his opinion, had been all of a couple of weeks.
Taking the seat Sam had just vacated, Jess nodded back toward the door. "She okay?"
Mike didn't answer, lowering his gaze to the table. He was too aware of the look Chris and Ashley exchanged before wordlessly deciding which of them would bring up such an unpleasant subject.
"She just . . . she heard the people who went to check out the mines got killed." Ashley forced a mirthless smile as she grabbed the beer out of Chris' hand and stole a sip. "It's still hard for her. I mean it's hard for all of us, but . . . she was talking crazy about wanting to go back." That shouldn't need more explanation than that. After all, Sam was closer with the Washington family than any of them, even Chris.
"Oh, hell, no." Jess held up her hands and scowled. "Someone needs to go talk some sense into her."
"Well." Chris looked at everyone, in turn, and shifted uncomfortably. "She did say she was going to leave it alone."
Jess' brows shot up. Letting something go didn't sound much like Sam. Folding her arms under her breasts, she shook her head. "Did she actually say those words?"
The others exchanged a glance that ended in an odd amount of wincing for how few people were seated around the table.
"Yeah, so she's probably going to go, she's just not telling you." She looked expectantly at Mike—it hadn't gone unnoticed by any of them that their ordeal had bonded him and Sam in a way the rest of them understood, but didn't quite get.
"I'll talk to her," he said with a sigh.
"Good." Jess snuggled into his side, grinning triumphantly.
As she engaged Chris and Ash in discussion about anything else, she missed the concerned expression that flickered across Mike's face as he eyed the door. He tried to avoid talking to Sam in private whenever possible if he could help it, but just his fuckin' luck, this didn't seem like something that could be helped.
Stepping from the shower, Sam toweled off with a long, low sigh. Most of her plans had already been handled, she'd known none of the others were going to be thrilled at her idea and jump at the chance to go back, but . . . .
Her thoughts trailed off as she felt an icy lurching in the pit of her stomach. The unsettling sensation of someone watching her crept along her spine and raised the fine hairs on the back of her neck. Moving slow as she wrapped the towel around herself, she turned her head to look over her shoulder.
This had been happening more and more lately. She knew it couldn't be Hannah, but sometimes, just sometimes . . . she wondered if Beth hadn't been haunting those mines.
If Beth might not have followed her home.
Swallowing hard, she finally turned her full attention toward the empty shower stall behind her. Nothing. Just as she gave herself permission to relax, however, a knock at the front door sounded through her small apartment, jangling her nerves all over again.
Growling under her breath, she exited the bathroom, shaking out her hands as she walked to the front door. She'd be damned if she was letting anyone in right now while she was—
"Sam? You home?"
Her shoulders slumped as she dropped back her head and groaned. "Mike?"
"Yeah. It's just me."
Unlocking the door, Sam pulled it open. She backpedaled even as she scowled up at him. "C'mon in, I guess."
He snickered in spite of himself as he crossed the threshold and closed the door behind him. "So is this going to be your new thing, now? Greeting me in a towel, because a guy could get used to that."
"Funny," she called over her shoulder as she retreated to her room to toss on her robe. "As I recall, the last time I 'greeted you in a towel' wasn't exactly a fun night for either of us."
Puffing out his cheeks, he exhaled and took a seat on the edge of the coffee table. "That's, uh, that's actually what I came to talk to you about."
"Of course it is." Returning from her room, she went straight to her tiny kitchen to start a pot of coffee. There was no way this wasn't going to be a long conversation. "So, you're going to try to talk me out of it?"
Mike laughed at that. Bracing his elbows on his knees, he clasped his hands in front of him. "Yeah, like talking you out of anything's ever worked."
Shaking her head, she waited until she had the coffee maker switched on and turned around to face him before she spoke. "So, why are you here?"
That worried expression flickered across his features, the one she always had to glance away from. "To ask you why. I mean, have you really thought this through?"
Sam darted her gaze around the room as she walked over to the table and took a seat beside him. Nearly mirroring him as she clasped her hands together, she shrugged. "Okay, I'm going to tell you something I couldn't tell the others, because, well, I really just couldn't bring myself to."
Frowning, he nodded. This had to be serious. "Okay. So, what's going on, Sam?"
"That night, you said Hannah'd gotten Josh. But, do you remember what you told me a few days later? About when Josh said Hannah's name?"
His entire frame seemed to droop as he let out a weighted sigh. "Yeah, I said she . . . dragged him off."
She forced a gulp down her throat and looked toward the wall. "I heard the team that went into the mines a few weeks after we were rescued? They weren't just killed . . . . They'd reported that they had a visual on a survivor before they were attacked."
Mike's dark eyes shot wide, a horrified expression marring his features. "You've got to be kidding me."
"That could only have been Josh." She let out a small, exasperated breath. "We didn't even try to go back for him. So, those people he killed? It's our fault."
Shifting to face her, he shook his head and reached out to grasp her hands in his. "No, Sam, no. Okay? We couldn't have known she wouldn't kill him. We both thought he was dead."
"Yeah, well, it sure as hell feels like it's our fault. So, I'm going to go do something about it." She pretended she wasn't acutely aware of how close they were sitting, of him holding her hands in his like this when she was clad in nothing more than a tightly belted robe and a hastily tossed on pair of panties—awkward. "I don't know about you, but I feel like this all tracks back to the night Beth died. If you hadn't gone along with that prank, if I'd been brave enough to warn her, Hannah wouldn't have run out that night and none of this would've happened."
Pulling one hand from hers, he held up his palm in a placating gesture. "Whoa, wait, so now you're blaming the entire thing on us? When do we get to the part where we're responsible for the mining cave-in that happened decades before we were even born?"
She tugged out of his grasp entirely and stood, returning to the kitchen to fix their cups of coffee. "Look, it's not like I don't know that Hannah overreacted, but the way she felt that night, who could really blame her? I get it, we couldn't have known what would happen, but it doesn't change that I feel like things shouldn't have happened that way."
He got to his feet, taking the mug she offered. "I really do understand how you feel. I talk a good game about being over everything, but yeah, I've thought about it. A lot. I just don't see what good going back up there and getting yourself killed is going to do."
"Even if I could find a way to stop this from happening to anyone else?"
He nearly coughed out a mouthful of coffee at her question. "I'm . . . I'm sorry? Is there even a way to do that?"
"I don't know, not for sure, but I do know I won't find any answers sitting around at home." She took a sip from her mug before she went on. "I've been doing research, and that area? That tribe? They're the only ones with a legend like the Wendigo. I mean, you remember that movie Alive? Based on a true story—bunch of people trapped on a mountain start eating the dead. Just as cold, just as desperate a situation, and all the survivors went home to live their lives. So what's different here?"
"Are you talking about that mountain spirit the flamethrower guy was going on about?"
"Okay, yes, I know it sounds nuts." Sparing a moment to set her mug down on the nearby table, she met his gaze. "After everything we saw on that mountain, we know it's not the craziest theory there is. If it's a curse because of some sort of wronged spirit, maybe there's a way to appease it."
He nodded. She had a point—after that night, he was a lot less skeptical than he used to be. But he really wanted her to think about this. "And if there isn't? If it's not that easy?"
She pursed her lips in thought as she searched his face. "Then I'm at least going to make sure Hannah and Josh can't hurt anyone else. I'm going to do what should be done and put them out of their misery."
"It's still crazy, Sam. Even with a plan, even with feeling responsible. You've got to know that."
"Yeah, I do."
Realization dawned on him, then. "You've already got everything set up to go, don't you?"
"You really have gotten to know me well," she said with a mirthless smirk. "As far as the Washingtons are concerned, Hannah and Beth both died a year and a half ago, and Josh is just missing. I promised them I'd find them answers. They're planning on rebuilding Blackwood Pines, though they don't think they'll ever go back. They're giving me permission to use the workers' housing when I go up there."
"Wait, they've got people there, already?"
She shrugged. "Not yet, it's just some trailers they had set up preemptively for the crew. But in a few months, they're going to start. That's why I thought, if there's any time to do this . . . ."
"Shit, I can't believe they're even thinking about rebuilding that death trap."
"To them, it's not a death trap. They visited that place for years without any incidents, and they don't know what we do, so there's no real reason for them to think there's anything wrong with the area. Yeah, it's where they lost their children, but they also have all the good memories of the lodge from before last year happened. They just want to preserve that."
Snickering in spite of himself, Mike shook his head. "You're too idealistic." Though, when she put it that way, he couldn't really say he blamed the Washingtons. He might feel the same way in their place, and well, if he didn't have firsthand knowledge of those creepy, flesh-munching monsters hiding in the depths of that damn mountain.
"It's a gift and a curse. But you've got two options, Michael, since you already know you're not stopping me from going."
He exhaled through his nostrils as he shook his head, already knowing the answer before she asked the question.
"The fuck do you mean you're going back there?" Jess' voice was doing that shrill thing that made his shoulders hunch.
She'd stopped by just in time to catch him packing some bags—complete with all the new fangled hunting equipment he'd taken a sudden shine to after that night. And, while he wasn't going to not explain before leaving, he'd sort of been hoping he could do this later . . . by phone . . . when he was already on his way out of town.
"Look, Sam's determined, nothing any of us can say is going to stop her."
Jess wrenched the knapsack away from him and held it at arm's length behind her. "Why the hell does that mean you have to go?"
"Because I can't let her go back there alone."
"How is everyone your responsibility? Most of the time you're the most irresponsible guy I know, but when it comes to this kind of shit, you're all Gung-Ho. What is that, even? It's like dating Dean Winchester!"
He let his head drop forward a bit as he let out a sigh. "Listen," he said, slipping his hands around her waist to pull her close. "I can't explain it. But that night, Sam and I . . . we saved each other's asses more times than I can even count. That does something to people."
"Great, so you both go get yourselves killed up there, instead? Genius way to celebrate surviving."
"If she goes up there without me and something happens to her, I'm going to live my whole life feeling like it was my fault for not being there." This was one of the reasons. Even after everything they'd been through up there, Jess really hadn't changed. The rest of them had, but not her, she'd stubbornly clung to her shallow hot girl façade. "And if you really can't understand that, then I don't know if there's any way I can explain it that will make you."
Sliding his hand along her arm, he managed to free his bag from her grasp. He slung it over his shoulder and then hefted up the duffle that held his hunting equipment. Mike dropped a kiss on her cheek and then nodded toward the door behind her. "Goodbye, Jess."
She knew what his tone meant. She'd heard him use it before, but she'd kept coming back. Now that he was using it again as he was about to walk away from her—as he was about to leave his own apartment for what might be the last time—she knew there was no ignoring what he was trying to tell her.
Biting hard into her lower lip, she nodded. She wasn't going to let him see her cry. Not over him, not when he was leaving her.
Jess didn't bother saying goodbye as she stormed out of the apartment and slammed the door behind her.