Disclaimer: I made a wish on a shooting star AND when I blew the candles out on my birthday cake, but I still don't own anything Winchester. And, alas, I am still poor.
A/N: Well here we are at the end already. It's not a long story, but I put as much effort into this one as some of the longer tales. The idea came to me, but it resisted allowing itself to be put on paper… so to speak. I still have a few days of break from school, but I'm going back to work on Monday so you never know what might happen.
Thanks to everyone who has read this and especially to those who have left comments. I hope the ending is satisfying enough. I'm thinking it's time for me to do a more Dean-centric story again…
"Now what?" Sam asked. It wasn't easy, but John found a place to hide the truck so they could watch the gas station undetected. They saw Alan drive away and took the opportunity to do a quick search of the station. "There's nothing here."
John nodded his agreement. "Let's get to the truck before he gets back. Maybe we can find where he went."
Just as they reached the truck, Alan drove by. After waiting until he'd parked and gone into the station, John and Sam walked the short distance to the street Alan had come from. It turned out to be a long driveway with a couple of storage sheds on either side and a house at the end. John continued to the house while Sam examined the sheds. They were locked and appeared not to have been opened in some time, judging by the rust on the locks. John carefully looked into the windows of the house and saw a woman, about his own age, putting a cake into a large plastic carrier. He watched as she filled a container with soup from a large pot on the stove and set it on the table. He had the oddest feeling that she knew he was there.
"What did you see?" Sam asked as John rejoined him at the closest storage shed.
"A woman, I assume Alan's wife." John said. "She was in the kitchen being domestic."
"Something doesn't feel right." Sam commented.
John looked at him. "Do you have anything more specific?"
Sam shook his head. "No. Just a feeling."
"Yeah. I had the feeling the woman in the kitchen knew I was watching her."
"What do we do now?"
"We could push our way inside, which would probably end badly. Or we can find out who these people are."
"Do you think Dean is here?"
"I don't know." John put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "But I think there's something going on. Let's get into town."
Dean woke up; again not sure how long he'd been asleep. Hearing the door being unlocked, he sat up, grateful not to suffer a wave of dizziness. He was surprised to see an older woman come through the door. She was carrying a tray with various containers on it.
"You're awake. Good." she smiled. "You're probably hungry."
Dean watched as she put the tray on the floor and turned to look at him. "How do you feel?"
He tried to move, but felt like he was glued to the bed. "What have you done to me? Where am I?"
"You're home." she said pleasantly. "I made you some soup. There's also water, coffee, and some bread. You don't want to eat too much too quickly."
"How are you holding me on this cot?"
"You ask a lot of questions. Maybe you should just eat your soup." she paused just inside the door. "I'll be back later."
Sam and John found a small library in town, but it was all they needed. While John scoured past issues of the local newspaper, Sam went to the only motel in town to make sure his brother had not been seen there. He also checked the bar across the street from the motel. One thing about small towns; they were easy to search.
"Find anything?" Sam asked, joining John back at the library.
"Take a look at this." John handed him a single piece of paper. It was a microfiche print-out of a news story. "See this woman?"
Sam looked at the grainy picture and nodded, looking at his father expectantly.
"That's the woman I saw in the kitchen."
Sam looked at the page again, then turned his attention back to his father. "Can't anything normal ever happen to us? Does it always have to be supernatural?"
John shrugged. "I guess we need to go back to the gas station."
Alan saw John and Sam park outside the gas station and he wished he was anywhere but here. They looked determined as they got out of the truck and walked through the door. He pasted on his best smile.
Sam and John discussed their strategy on the way from the library and agreed that they didn't have time to be subtle. They didn't know how Alan fit into what was going on, but Sam's instinct told him that they could get Alan on their side.
"We went to your house a little while ago. I looked through the kitchen window and saw a woman." John put the printed newspaper story on the counter and pointed to the picture. "This woman."
Alan went pale. "You must be mistaken."
"I don't think so." John said, staring at him. "Now I don't have time for long explanations, but let me assure you that I have some experience with what's going on here. A lot of experience, actually. I think you – or this woman – has my son, and I want him back."
Alan started to tremble. "How can you know what's going on here?" he whispered.
"According to your wife's obituary here, she died of cancer three years ago. I saw her in your kitchen. That means she's either a spirit or she was brought back. Which is it?"
"Oh my God."
Sam was standing just behind John and becoming very frustrated. Before John could stop him, Sam had Alan by the throat, pushed up against the wall behind the counter.
"Where is my brother?" Sam demanded.
"Sam, let him go!" John jumped behind the counter and tried to pull Sam away from the other man. "Sam!"
Sam allowed John to pull him away from Alan, who dropped to the floor gasping for breath.
"I suggest you end this now." John said, nearly snarling.
"Don't you think I would if I could? This isn't what I wanted. This is never what I wanted." Alan sobbed.
"Right now I don't give a damn what you wanted." John said angrily, a hand still on Sam's chest. "All I want is my son. So, I suggest you tell me what's going on."
Alan slowly made his way to his feet; he refused to look at the Winchesters.
"Marilee didn't want to die. She fought it from the time she was first diagnosed. She underwent the treatment the doctors recommended and searched everywhere for other answers." he said, his voice strained. "In the middle of the night, she disappeared. She left me a note saying she would be back, but had to check out some information she'd found. When she came home a week later, she looked younger than she had when the treatment started and I thought she'd somehow found a cure. She wouldn't tell me where she'd been or what information she found. And then she started getting sick again. She'd been off the chemo for a while and the doctors wanted to start it up again. I was surprised when she refused, but she told me that it was okay. I didn't know what she meant; I thought she'd made her peace and she didn't tell me anything different."
John and Sam watched as he slowly sat down on a stool behind the counter. John had not taken his hand from Sam's chest and could feel the tension coming from his son.
"Go on." John said.
Alan leaned on the counter. "She died. She wanted a home funeral with just her closest friends, but that was still most of the town, and her body was in the living room for almost twenty-four hours before she was put into the ground. I didn't think anything about it at the time, but there was a woman I didn't recognize at the house most of the day. I figured it was someone Marilee had met in treatment or something. I never talked to her; every time I would try, she would just kind of disappear."
He stopped talking and looked toward the window. Just as John was about to prompt him again, he continued with his story. "Three days later, there was a storm. It was just after midnight, but I was awake and sitting in the living room. I guess I hadn't gotten used to her being gone yet. Then all of a sudden, she was back. She just walked in the front door like she was supposed to be there."
"The woman at the funeral –"
Alan nodded. "Marilee told me she was some kind of witch or something and was able to bring people back. I wasn't thinking right at the time. I was just happy to have my Marilee back. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care. And things were fine for a while."
He looked at John, as if he expected to see compassion in the man's eyes. When all he got was a steely glare, he looked away. "Of course she couldn't go into town, but you've seen our place. People mostly come here to see me and I don't get a lot of visitors at the house. It's private. But then –"
"Then what?" Sam asked, furiously.
"We had a son. He died in a bus accident. Marilee never really got over his death, and now, whenever there's a bad storm –" he began to cry again. "A young man shows up at our house and becomes David for a while."
"What do you mean becomes?" John asked.
"Somehow she makes them believe they're our son. It doesn't last, though, and it kind of makes the boys crazy."
"Take me to my son." John growled. "Now."
"It's not that easy. Marilee; she's powerful. I don't know how to stop her."
"We do." John said. "And it will be permanent."
Alan's expression was a mixture of sadness and relief.
His eyes opened, but he didn't immediately know where he was. He almost recognized the sports posters on the walls, the desk across the room and the shelf of trophies near the door. He sat up slowly, feeling a vague wave of nausea pass through him. He heard a knock on the door just before it opened.
"Hello, Sleepy Head." the woman smiled as she stuck her head in the room. "I know you had a late night, but you shouldn't sleep the day away."
She walked all the way into the room and opened the curtain covering the only window in the room. He could see nothing but trees outside.
"Your father is closing the station early today so we can all have an early dinner together. I baked you a birthday cake."
She stood in the center of the room, hands on her hips, and smiled. "Why don't you get up and take a shower, David? I've got some food for you in the kitchen."
He watched her walk out of the room and a moment later, he tossed the covers off and stood up. Looking around the room again, his eyes settled on the shelf that held the trophies and he moved closer. They were all for baseball; apparently high school and college. He had a fuzzy memory of being on a baseball field, but he couldn't remember anything clearly.
The sound of singing floated into the bedroom and he felt dizzy. There was something familiar about the sound, but also something not right. He hoped the shower would help to clear his head.
"What's the plan?" Sam asked, trying to stay calm as John looked through the weapons he still kept in the back of his truck. Old habits really did die hard, he decided, although he had added some to the locker before leaving home.
"I think we need to get Dean out of there first and then deal with the missus."
"What if she's already convinced him he's her son?"
John shrugged. "Let's just hope that hasn't happened yet."
"How do we stop her if she's not a spirit? If, somehow, her body was brought back to life?"
"You know the answer to that. A sliver bullet will probably do the trick. Decapitation, for sure." John handed Sam a couple different knives and a rifle. They looked each other in the eye.
"It's been a long time since we've been on a hunt together." Sam said, feeling an odd sense of pleasure.
John put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Let's go get your brother."
After showering, he dressed in unfamiliar clothes he found in the closet of the room he assumed was his. He was starting to feel more at home, but his memories were still fuzzy.
"Feel better, David?" she asked as he walked into the kitchen.
A rush of feelings flowed through him and, for a moment, everything around him blurred. He fell into a kitchen chair and opened his eyes when she put a glass in front of him.
"Have some water, Sweetheart. Maybe you shouldn't go out with your friends until all hours of the night anymore. Looks like you're suffering from quite the hangover." she smiled sweetly, as if unaware of his reaction only a moment ago.
"Yeah, I guess so." he said, starting to recover.
"I made you some soup. That should help settle your stomach." she smiled and smoothed the hair on his head. "
"Thanks, Mom." he said, almost flinching at the words.
Marilee watched him for a moment, not sure why things weren't going like they were supposed to. Normally by now the boys would have David's memories, they would be David, but something wasn't quite right this time and she didn't know what it was.
"I'll be right back, David." she smiled, kissing the top of his head before leaving the kitchen.
She walked toward the front door, sensing something amiss outside. She understood how important it was to stay out of sight of people, but it had been a long time since anyone had come to the house. The entire town knew what hours the gas station was open; there was no need for anyone to look for Alan at the house this time of day.
"Hi, Honey." Alan said, trying to smile as he walked through the front door.
She looked at him, suspiciously. "What are you doing home already? David's birthday dinner won't be ready for over an hour."
"I thought I'd come home to spend time with my family." he said, not sounding at all convincing.
"What are you up to?"
"Nothing. I just –"
Marilee turned when she heard David yell out. She glared at Alan before rushing to the kitchen.
"Who are you?" David demanded, seeing two strangers in the kitchen.
"It's all right, Dean," John began calmly.
"My name is David." he said, uncertainly.
"No, it isn't. Your name is Dean Winchester and I'm your father."
There was a flash of recognition in his eyes, but it faded as soon as Marilee entered the kitchen.
"Who are you?" she spat.
John kept his eyes locked to his son's. "I'm his father."
David pulled his gaze away from John's and looked at Marilee. "Mom?"
John felt weak when his heard his son use that word, but he hid his reaction behind the wall of stoicism he'd so carefully crafted over the last twenty-six years. He tried to regain eye contact with his son, but Marilee's voice interrupted him.
"David, Honey, come over here." she said sweetly.
John watched as his son moved closer to Marilee.
"I don't know who you are, but this is my parents' house and you need to leave." David said. John knew he was trying to sound angry, but he sensed an uncertainty in his son.
"Dean," John said. "Listen to me. You know who you are. You know you're not David. I'm your father; you have a brother –"
He saw another flash of recognition in Dean's eyes.
"Stop it." Marilee hissed at John, then turned her attention to David. "Don't listen to him."
"Your brother was waiting for you at the motel." John said, as he slowly started moving toward them. He could see into the living room and saw Alan let Sam in through the front door.
"Sam." Dean whispered.
"That's right, Dean. Sam." John said quickly. He wanted to get between Marilee and his son before Sam made his move, but he was surprised when Marilee whirled around to face his younger son. He silently cursed himself for not being prepared for that.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
Dean turned around. "Sam."
"Yeah, Dean, it's me." Sam said, sounding very much younger than he was. He always hated seeing his brother injured or in any kind of pain. "How about you come over here and we'll head home?"
"He is home." Marilee insisted, taking David's hand. "I don't know who you people are!"
"Dean." Sam said, locking his eyes on his brother. "Remember when I talked to you last week and I told you I didn't think I did well on that one exam? I got the grade back before I left school the other day. I wanted to surprise you so I didn't tell you before, but I got an A."
Dean put his free hand to his head, as if he was in pain.
"And remember what we talked about doing while we were at Dad's?" he went on. "We were going to make him go fishing with us; like that one time when we were kids. Remember that? You got mad because I caught a bigger fish than you did."
"Sammy?" Dean whispered, ripping his hand out of Marilee's and putting it on his head.
As Dean fell to the floor, John rushed forward and grabbed the woman, pushing her against the cabinets. Sam ran into the kitchen and pulled his brother into the living room.
"Get him out of here, Sam!" John yelled. "And watch out for Alan, I don't know where he went."
Marilee was stronger than John expected and she was able to free herself from his grip. He heard Sam yelling a warning to him, but he couldn't focus on it as Marilee lunged forward with a butcher knife she had taken from the counter behind her. He heard another voice yelling, but couldn't place it as he was struggling to stay away from Marilee's blade. He yelled for Sam to take Dean outside, hoping he would get the upper hand in the fight and afraid of what seeing Marilee hurt might do to him.
Sam pulled Dean to his feet and helped him out the front door. He heard his father yelling inside and the high-pitched wail of someone he didn't think was Marilee. Quickly settling his brother in a chair on the front porch, Sam ran back inside. He stopped at the kitchen door when he saw Marilee's head on the floor near the sink and her body draped over his father's legs as he tried to get up off the floor. Alan was standing over them, an axe high over his head. Sam was about to rush him, when the axe fell to the floor and he sunk to his knees.
John pushed the body off of his lap and got to his feet, moving to Sam's side as Alan sobbed over his dead wife. He put a hand on Sam's back and whispered for him to go take care of his brother while he dealt with the situation in the kitchen.
"Dean?" Sam knelt in front of his brother. Dean leaned over in the chair, his head nearly on his lap. Sam reached out and touched him gently. "Dean?"
Dean slowly looked at his brother. "Sam?"
"You back with me?"
Dean nodded slowly.
"Yeah, other than a hellacious headache. Dad?"
"Don't worry, he's fine."
"I really want to get out of here."
Sam smiled at him. "I know, we'll be on the road soon."
"If you weren't involved in the kidnappings," John began as he helped Alan clean up the mess in the kitchen, "why did you try to get Dean to spend the night?"
"Because he'd have been safe from Marilee. The bus wreck happened a few miles west of town and that's where she was able to get her – victims. It happened in a storm, she came back in a storm." Alan shrugged. "Look, I'll take care of the rest of this. Why don't you take your sons home?"
"Any idea where my son's car is?"
"There's a garage out back of the house. There's a path through the woods and a road leading away from the garage that goes to the highway. There are rose bushes growing near the entrance of the path. The keys are in it." Alan paused as John walked to the door. "Mr. Winchester, I'm sorry about all this."
John only nodded. "You should burn the body." he said before joining his sons on the porch. Dean was still sitting in the chair, Sam in the one across from him, their knees practically touching.
"How are you feeling?" John asked, putting a hand on Dean's shoulder.
"Better, but my head still hurts."
"You'll probably start feeling even better when we get out of here. Alan told me where your car is; why don't you go with Sam in the truck and I'll meet you?"
It took a few days for Dean to recover from his ordeal with Marilee. It brought up some long-repressed feelings about his own mother, but he was well past the need to keep everything inside and had a long talk with John. It was probably a very long overdue talk that they both walked away from feeling better.
John had found Dean's watch and cell phone in his car; Sam asked him about the phone call during the storm, but Dean remembered nothing about it.
Sam's vacation went by too fast and he was sorry to have to leave his family. They made plans to spend Christmas together and knowing there would be many phone calls between now and then made it easier for him to go back to school.
"You sure you don't want to stay the night?" Sam asked when Dean pulled up in front of his apartment building.
"Nah, thanks. It's still early and I can make some good time."
"Where are you going?"
"There's something in Wyoming I want to check out."
"You'll be careful?"
"Sure. I'm always careful."
Sam got out of the car and Dean followed carrying his brother's duffle bag.
"Try not to get kidnapped by any crazy reanimated bodies this time, okay?" Sam joked.
Dean smirked. "Bite me, College Boy."
Sam smiled at the nickname that used to annoy him. "Hey, Dean? I –"
"Yeah, me, too kiddo." Dean smiled as he pulled him into a brotherly embrace.
"Call me later!" Sam called after him as Dean got into the car.
Dean waved. They spent a moment staring at each other, then Dean finally pulled away from the curb. Sam watched until the Impala turned the corner before going inside. He always felt a little lonely after parting from his family, but it was an okay feeling because he knew he would see them again.
Watching Sam on the porch until he turned the corner, Dean already missed his brother.
He had some residual feelings from his time with Marilee. Even though his mother had been gone for nearly thirty years, and he hadn't gotten the chance to know her that well because he was so young when she died, he still missed her. His few memories had been reinforced by his father over the years and he knew that anyone John Winchester loved had to be a special person. He decided that after checking out the gig in Wyoming, he would make another trip to Oregon to spend time in a place he was more and more considering to be home. And, maybe on the way, he'd stop off to spend a few days with Sam.