Uhh…Hello? I don't know if anyone remembers me – I used to be the one with the wacky Babylon 5 &Supernatural crossovers. I haven't given any signs of life because I got busy with my own projects. I also lost sight of Supernatural, but then started watching the later seasons around May (lockdown makes you hella bored). I actually like the brothers' dynamic from season 11 onwards. Sure, they've still got their ups and downs, but they seem to have reached an understanding of each other. So, this is my first attempt at a Supernatural fanfiction that isn't a crossover. And it's a case-fic.

This is set in season 12, after Lilly Sunders has some regrets. It's mostly canon, except the part that the British Men of Letters have managed to exterminate all monsters in Europe. Because no way. Trust me, we've got some dark stuff down here and it would be a shame not to use it in fanfiction. So, yeah, this will deal with some critters from across the pond (from Finland, specifically, but more about that in the story) who've somehow found themselves on foreign shores and on Sam and Dean's radar.

More notes at the end of the chapter. Supernatural doesn't belong to me, obviously. Enjoy and let me know what you think ?

Chapter 1

Brad pushed his bike down the street, keeping a discrete distance from his quarry. He was whistling as he walked, still pumped up after his encounter. He could barely wait to tell his friends the next day. After all, they had all told him he wouldn't be able to just walk up to her and ask for an autograph. They said he'd stutter so much, he wouldn't be able to even say hello. Well, that just went to show they didn't know him at all.

It was getting dark. Brad knew it was late and he should probably head home. After all, he was still in moderate hot water with his folks after conveniently forgetting to tell them about that failed Chemistry test. He was lucky enough to be allowed to go to the concert. He suspected Ken had something to do with that. Sometimes, having a big brother who was the family's golden child came with benefits. Not always, but sometimes.

His phone rang and Brad chuckled, shaking his head.

"Speak of the devil," he muttered before picking up. "Hey, dude, you're not going to believe this…"

His brother's voice came out clipped and angry:

"Brad, where the hell are you? You should've been here half an hour ago, man. Dinner with Aunt Clarice, remember? She wants to see the whole family, and I'm running out of excuses."

Brad cursed. He had forgotten the hag was coming to dinner that night. Why they had to play happy families when she was around was beyond Brad. He suspected it had something to do with the nifty pile of cash she had promised would go to Dad if he stopped being a cheating scumbag and showed he could be there for his family. Brad was tired of playing the part of grateful son whenever she was around.

"Look, I'll be there, I just went by the hotel, you know? Where the bands playing at the festival are staying. I hung around for a while…and dude, I met Helmi. She gave me an autograph, can you believe it? Helmi actually talked to me."

"Who?"

Brad rolled his eyes.

"Helmi Jokinen, man. Lead vocalist of Apostles of Shadow? She gave me an autograph and she flashed that sweet smile my way. I think we had something going on, you know?"

There was a brief silence. Brad pictured Ken counting to ten in his mind.

"Isn't she married to that drummer from that Polish band?"

Brad rolled his eyes. He had to give Ken points for trying to sound interested.

"Norwegian, actually," he corrected. "So?"

"So, if she's married to some badass drummer, why would she share a moment with the likes of you? Not to mention that little uncomfortable detail about how you're underage and all…"

Brad was in no mood to be reasonable. His target had just crossed the street and entered a small diner. Brad had passed it a few times, but he had never gone inside.

"Pancakes," he said. "She likes pancakes. She went into Hal's Diner, that's the one with the pancakes, right?"

This time, the silence at the other end held more than exasperation.

"Brad," Ken began cautiously. "Are you stalking Helmi Jokinen?"

Brad had stopped on the other side of the street, wondering if he should go in.

"What do you mean stalking? I just saw her leave the hotel, I was curious to see where she was going all alone…"

"Dude, no!" Brad's voice now held a tight edge to it. "You don't follow people you don't know all over the town. You especially don't follow women you don't know after dark. Now get your ass back home before I have to bail you from the police station. You can kiss the Apostles of Shadows concert good-bye then. If you get arrested, nothing I say is going to convince Mom to let you out of your room before you graduate high school."

Brad was no longer listening. He had spotted something further down the road. Lights glittering in a strange pattern.

"The light. It's like a puzzle," he muttered.

He ignored his brother and stepped towards the lights, suddenly drawn by something he could not understand. At first, he thought the alley was empty. Then he spotted him. He was a tall man dressed in dark clothes, handsome, like a character from the Gothic romances Brad's ex-girlfriend used to read. He turned towards Brad and there was something disapproving in his eyes. Brad gulp.

"Look, man, if this is about the girl, I swear I wasn't actually following her. Or, I was, but I swear I was just curious to see where she was going…"

He backed away when he saw the man change into something else. He stared at the thing in horror. It reached out clawed hands towards him. Brad could not move. From far away, he heard his brother calling his name on the phone. It was the last thing he would ever hear.

Dean sauntered into the bunker's library. Sam was, unsurprisingly, already there. Sam was always an early riser – if he had gone to sleep at all the night before. But no, he remembered Sam retreating for the night shortly before him. A better look showed his brother nursing a mug of coffee. Another mug was placed on the table, opposite him. Dean made straight for it.

"Thanks."

Sam looked up briefly from his laptop.

"Yeah, good morning. It's still hot. I only just woke up myself."

Dean nodded, taking a sip, pleased to discover it was as strong as he liked it. Sam might disagree with his habits and call them unhealthy, but there were times when he indulged Dean out of the blue. "Just because", as he had mumbled once when Dean had asked him. He had sounded uncertain, slightly afraid Dean would tease him for acting like a girl. Dean, for once, had decided to let it go and just be grateful.

"Cass not back yet?"

Sam shrugged.

"He said he'd be here by tomorrow morning, probably." He seemed to hesitate slightly, then went on, speaking faster than before: "What about Mom? Did she check in at all?"

Dean frowned. He was so thrilled whenever he got a message from their mother, he sometimes forgot Sam did not get the same treatment. He honestly did not understand why Mary insisted on having minimal contact with Sam – she had gotten over the initial awkwardness with Dean, after all, and the only thing Sam was asking was for a bit of acknowledgement now and then. Dean sometimes thought of telling Mary that. He always stopped, afraid it might anger her too much. Afraid that he would lose even the sporadic contact they had now.

"Yeah, she was saying something about some leads with another Hunter. Said she'd call if she needs some extra hands."

Sam nodded distractedly, not looking up from his laptop screen. Of course, since this was Sam, it could either be because he was really interested in what he was reading, or he was in avoidance mode. Dean decided to figure out which it was this time.

"So…uh…what are you reading there?"

"It's a case – I think. In Gatlinburg Tennessee. At the first edition of a symphonic metal festival."

Dean raised his eyebrows.

"A what now?"

Sam smiled, partly to show his amusement, partly in that I-know-something-you-don't annoying little brother sort of way.

"Symphonic metal. It's quite popular in Europe and Latin America, apparently. It combines heavy drums and guitars with classical music – like an orchestra for example. They often have female vocalists who can go full operatic."

Dean snorted.

"Oh, come on, man. Metal is supposed to be badass. How can you get badass with opera?"

If possible, Sam looked even more amused.

"I don't know, Dean" he drawled. "I would say a tall chick in leather headbanging to guitars and then immediately bringing out high notes like she doesn't need to breathe sounds pretty badass."

Dean took another sip of his coffee trying to picture Sam's words in his mind.

"No, you're right. That sounds kinda hot."

Sam grinned. Two smiles in one day and it was still early, Dean thought. He was on a roll. If he managed to put several more smiles on Sammy's face, he'd consider his job done for the day. He cleared his throat, glad Sam was not a mind reader, otherwise he would accuse Dean of being a major sap.

"So, case?"

Sam nodded, pushing the laptop towards Dean.

"Sixteen-year-old Brad Sniders was found dead in an alley last night. His throat was sliced open and his eyes were missing. Well, actually, they weren't missing, they were in his hand."

Dean flinched. That was a whole new level of weird even for them.

"Any witnesses?"

"Yes and no," Sam replied. "Brad was on the phone with his older brother. Apparently, he was missing some family function and his brother had called to get him to come home. At some point Brad stopped responding and mentioned something about lights and a puzzle."

Dean finished his coffee and pushed his mug back.

"I'd like to hear more about that."

Sam nodded.

"So would I. Also, I've looked over the brother's account to the police. Something doesn't add up. He doesn't say why Brad was late to that family thing, or why he was in that alley in the first place. It's pretty far from his house."

"You're thinking big brother was covering up for Brad," Dean deduced, then shook his head. "Hey, remember when I told Dad you were somewhere practicing your shooting skills while you were actually off with some chick from school. I think you were sixteen too at the time. You still didn't tell me what happened between you two."

Sam sent him a scathing look.

"That's because nothing happened – not what you think happened at least. I'm not you. We just went to the planetarium. To watch a meteor shower."

Dean snorted, shaking his head in mock disappointment.

"I lied to Dad for a geek who went to watch some rocks falling from the sky. Damn, that's disappointing. Probably Brad had a more fun reason for being out, though. We've got about eleven hours drive. We should get going."

Dean half-expected Sam to suggest they call Mom and ask her to join them. He was secretly glad when Sam did no such thing.

It was late at night when Dean finally pulled in front of a motel in Gatlinburg. He booked a room and shook Sam awake.

"Bedtime," he said in answer to Sam's dazed look. "We'll start looking into stuff first thing tomorrow."

Once in the room, Sam went back to sleep quickly enough. Dean was actually relieved. What with Lucifer and their time in prison and all the crap before that with that chick from the British Men of Letters, Sam had been in hypervigilance mode. Barely sleeping, obsessively looking for cases. Dean got it, but he also knew that Sam needed to rest. It was harder in the Bunker where they had separate rooms. Here, though, Dean could monitor exactly how much sleep Sam was getting.

Dean walked to the window. He could not see much outside. Somewhere up ahead was the stage where the festival would take place. They had driven by it on their way to the motel. Dean blinked. He thought he saw lights flickering there. It could have been some technicians making sure everything was fine with the lighting. It was quite late, though, and Dean could not forget what Sam had said, that Brad had apparently mentioned lights and a puzzle right before he died.

To be continued

I hope you enjoyed. Here's a couple of extra notes:

-This story will have a lot of the stuff that I like (and that I'm unfortunately missing on right now because pandemic…). Symphonic metal is quite popular in Europe. From what I know there's probably no symphonic metal festival in the US (I'm not from there, but from what people have told me it's not that well-known there).

-I've chosen the town of Gatlinburg because it has a low population, I wanted something in the mountains, and it apparently has some history (some fires and all). I've researched the town, including on its own website, but I don't know if I got anything right. If anyone's from there and I've messed something up, I apologize. I could have made up a place, but it wouldn't have been as much fun. Also, I don't remember if Sam and Dean ever had a case in Gatlinburg.

-Apostles of Shadow is not a real band, (I googled the name just to see I wasn't using a name someone else had already claimed) but it does bear similarities to some of the bands I like. More about that in the next chapters.

I hope you enjoyed and don't forget to drop a line or two. This is more fun when there's feedback involved ?