Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?
Disclaimer: Don't own them, never have, never will.
Author's Note: This chapter contains implied, but not graphic child abuse. If that sort of thing bothers you to read, now is the time to hit the backwards arrow.
Thank you to Jubilea who is better now, and able to beta. This is a better chapter thanks to you!
Alicia lay in bed awake. She was wearing her favorite pink flannel pajamas, and she was snuggled under her down comforter. The unicorn nightlight cast long shadows on the walls, but she was not afraid of shadows. Alicia's red curls were smashed flat in the back from lying on the pillow.
Alicia was tired, but she knew she could not sleep yet. She could not sleep until she knew her little sister Lila was safe. She pulled the covers up closer to her chin, and snuggled deeper into the comforter.
Alicia heard the great grandfather clock in the living room chime the Big Ben melody before it struck ten times. Ten o'clock, no wonder she was tired. Her eyes never left the closed bedroom door, and her ears listened for any noises in the hall.
Shadowed feet appeared in the crack under Alicia's door. She stopped breathing, and waited. The shadows disappeared, and she could hear the soft footfalls on the hardwood floor walking further down the hall, then stop in front of Lila's room.
"No!" her mind screamed. "No, you can't let him!"
Despite the fear gripping her throat, Alicia jumped out of bed, and padded to her bedroom door. Squinting into the light as she opened the door, she looked down the hall. "Daddy?" she called.
Mike Bevons dropped his hand from Lila's doorknob, and turned to face his eldest, seven year old daughter. "Yes, sweetie?" he asked with a concerned look upon his face.
"I can't sleep, Daddy," Alicia said pulling on the neck of her pajamas. It felt like her pajamas were hugging her too tight, pulling on her neck, and her skin.
"That's okay, baby," Mike said walking down the hall towards Alicia. "Daddy will stay with you, and help you get to sleep." He scooped Alicia up in his arms, and gave her a wide smile. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
"Yes, Daddy," Alicia said quietly dropping her eyes.
"Honey!" Mike called down towards his bedroom.
"Yes?" came the muffled response of his wife, Janice from the master bedroom.
"Alicia can't sleep, so I'm going to sit with her for awhile," Mike said.
"Okay," Janice replied sleepily. "Try not to make too much noise when you come in."
Mike walked into Alicia's room, and closed the door behind them. He dropped her on to the bed where she bounced several times. He leaned over Alicia, and tickled her for several seconds until she burst out laughing, "Daddy, stop! I can't breath!"
Mike stopped tickling Alicia, and looked into her sparkling blue eyes. She was taking great gulps of air, trying to catch her breath. "Get under the covers, sweetie," he said, lying down beside her.
"Okay," she replied, and snuggled under the covers.
Mike picked up Alicia's favorite book, and flipped on the small table lamp beside the bed. As Alicia listened to her father read, "Little Red Riding Hood," she could feel her eyelids growing heavy. When he started to read the part about the woodcutter rescuing Red Riding Hood, and her grandmother Alicia pretended to fall asleep. Sometimes, being asleep kept the bad things away.
Mike placed the book on the bedside table, and turned off the lamp. Turning towards Alicia, he pushed several wayward curls away from her forehead. "You know, you're Daddy's special girl, don't you sweetie?" He asked.
Alicia lay very still, and did not answer. Her muscles strained with the effort to be completely motionless. She felt her daddy unbutton her pajama shirt, and her eyes popped open. She stared into her daddy's eyes. Alicia knew pretending to be asleep was not going to keep any of the bad things away tonight.
An hour later, alone once again, Alicia cried hot, angry tears until she fell asleep.
Sam walked out of the mini-mart at the gas station with a small, brown bag filled with ibuprofen, and two bottles of water. Reaching through the open driver's side window of the Impala, he tossed the bag to his brother, who was sitting in the passenger seat. Dean was resting his head on the window, and sporting a pair of dark sunglasses. He jumped when the bag hit his lap with a crinkling sound.
"Wha?!" Dean shouted. "Sam, what the hell?"
Sam laughed, and climbed into the driver's seat. The day was unseasonably warm, and the sun was shining brightly. Sam squinted against the afternoon sun, as he pulled the Impala out into traffic. "What's the matter, Dean?" Sam asked still laughing.
Dean glared at Sam from behind his sunglasses. His head hurt, and his stomach flipped once, twice before settling again. His nights of self-medication did not always agree with him. Dean opened the bag, and managed to get the lid off the bottle of ibuprofen. It took him three tries to dry swallow the pills. He coughed sharply, his head throbbing with each burst. Grabbing a water bottle, he blindly fumbled with the lid.
"Here," Sam said handing Dean an opened bottle of water.
Dean tossed the unopened bottle on the seat next to him. He drank deeply from the bottle Sam had opened for him.
"Dude, no way you are going to avoid puking, if you don't slow down," Sam chastised. He took his eyes off the busy traffic momentarily to glance at his brother. Dean looked positively green.
Dean did not answer, but he did hand the bottle of water back to Sam. He leaned back against the window, and closed his eyes. He toyed with the idea that he should never mix warm beer with cold fries, second-hand smoke, and flirting. It was definitely the flirting that had landed him in this sorry shape. He was beginning to truly believe the red-headed chick had slipped something into his drink while he was winning his last game of pool.
"So, tell me again why you think we should go there?" Dean asked. His muddled mind was having trouble hanging on to the information. As a testament to how awful he felt, Dean had not uttered a word when Sam had grabbed the car keys this morning, and slipped into the driver's seat. He had not admonished Sam about driving carefully, treating her right, or flying straight. He simply sat in the passenger seat, a pathetic lump, trying to keep from soiling the interior of his car.
"Mike Bevons, the owner of Eagle Lake Resort, was killed in his home, by what appeared to be a wild animal. He was fine when his wife left for the restaurant, but dead when his daughter found him two hours later," Sam reiterated. He knew Dean was not feeling well, but it wasn't like him to forget their conversation entirely.
"Agh," Dean groaned. "That's right. Angry animal spirits run amok." Dean closed his eyes again, and allowed the familiar rumble of the Impala's engine to lull him to sleep.
Sam glanced at Dean when he heard the snoring begin. Evil thoughts formed quickly in his head, but were just as quickly dismissed. Despite the fact Dean had brought this on himself, Sam could not bring himself to play a prank on him. It was a golden opportunity for revenge, and he was going to pass. Congratulating himself for conquering his secret impulses, Sam nearly missed the turn off for Eagle Lake.
The tires squealed loudly as Sam turned the wheel sharply, and hit the brake briefly to navigate the turn. He could feel Dean's eyes boring into him.
"Don't say a word," Sam said through gritted teeth.
The silence stretched on for several long minutes, and Sam thought for one brief, shining moment that he was off the hook.
"Enjoy your day in the driver's seat," Dean dead-panned. "Because it is going to be the last time you drive her for a very long time."
Sam sighed heavily. He had no doubt Dean's words were not an idle threat. He was inwardly cursing his bad luck, when an idea gripped him. Grinning at his sudden inspiration, Sam decided to enjoy one of the perks of being the driver. Turning on the radio, he flipped through the stations looking for music that he was rarely able to listen to. Finding a song he liked, Sam turned up the volume. It was heaven. It was bliss. It was – Nirvana.
"Oh God," Dean moaned. "Kill me now."
Sam only smiled, and turned up the volume in response.
Sam wound the Impala through the trees, along the gravel road surrounding the lake. The cabins along the shoreline were nestled among the trees. Driving past one of the cabins on his right, he could see a family with a young boy, and a slightly older girl running down to the lake. The little girl had long blonde hair tied into braids. With a twinge of pain, he could not stop himself from musing briefly about what his would-be life with Jessica would have been like.
Pulling up to the last cabin on the road, Sam pulled the car to a stop near the front porch. Dean did not wake up when he turned off the car.
"Dean," Sam said tapping Dean on the shoulder. "Hey, man, we're here."
Dean groaned in response. He was still feeling sick, but his stomach and his head were no longer playing dueling banjoes. That was something at least.
Sam decided to let Dean sleep while he unloaded the bags, and took a quick look around. He closed the door as quietly as he could, and walked around back to grab the duffles. Closing the trunk lid with a small clink, he made his way into the cabin.
The interior of the cabin was dark, lit only by the sun shining through the lakeside western windows. There was a fireplace on the far side of the sitting area in front of him. There was a small eating nook to his left with an attached kitchen area. Sam walked further into the cabin, and found the postage stamp size bathroom tucked behind the kitchen. He walked into the sitting area, and found the stairs to the loft. A flight of stairs to the beds was never a good arrangement for the Winchesters. They returned all too often unable to navigate the stairs due to exhaustion or injury.
At the top of the stairs two full size beds, a small dresser, and a large bookcase filled with dusty hard-cover books greeted Sam. He tossed the duffles on to the first bed, and went outside to wake Dean.
The first thing Dean noticed upon waking was that Sam was not in sight. He looked around quickly in all directions, and decided the most logical place for Sam to be was the cabin in front of him. The second thing Dean noticed was that his headache was actually gone, and his stomach was no longer rumbling in distress, but in hunger. He stretched, and exited the car.
Dean's back and neck protested strongly as aching muscles from sleeping in a cramped position made them-self known. "Damn," he muttered, and stretched again. He walked up the three stairs to the door of the cabin. His hand had barely made contact with the doorknob, when the door swung open suddenly, revealing Sam.
"Shit!" both brothers yelled simultaneously.
Dean slapped Sam on the shoulder, and walked past him into the cabin. "Keys?" Dean asked turning back towards Sam and holding out his hand.
Sam tossed Dean the keys. "I didn't get a scratch on her," Sam said.
"I know you didn't," Dean said with a smile. "You're a smart guy, went to college and everything."
"Sh'yeah, thanks," Sam replied. Sam walked around Dean towards the fireplace. "Bathroom's behind the kitchen. The beds and our bags are upstairs."
"I'm going to grab a quick shower," Dean stated as he disappeared up the stairs to fetch fresh clothes. He definitely needed to scrub some of the bar smell off of him.
Sam shivered in the quickly cooling cabin. He spotted the empty wood box, and the matches stashed near the fireplace. He was fairly certain he had seen a woodpile outside the cabin next to the porch. Walking outside, he quickly found the woodpile. A few of the logs were fairly large, and Sam looked around for an ax. Finding one tucked into the corner between the house, the porch, and the woodpile, Sam made quick work of cutting the logs into smaller hunks.
Gathering an armload of wood, Sam went inside. He filled the wood box and the fireplace. Within moments, he had a roaring fire started. He was tired from an entire day of driving. He had no idea how Dean drove miles and miles for hours at a time. Sinking into the sofa he decided that research could wait for a few minutes for a change.
Sam awoke with a start when Dean flopped down on the sofa next to him.
"Getting a lot of research done there, Sam?" Dean asked flippantly, his green eyes sparkling with renewed vigor.
"I was thinking, I was tired," Sam said his hazel-brown eyes drifting shut. He folded his arms across his chest, and sank deeper into the corner of the sofa. "I drove all day."
"You've got to be kidding me," Dean replied incredulously. "Sam, you were driving."
Sam opened one eye, and gave Dean a puzzled look. "That's what I said."
"Dude, you were driving," Dean repeated. "I let you drive. That should pump you up!"
Sam shook his head. Dean had been driving now for twelve years, and he still acted like a teenager who had just received his driver's license.
"Well, you're obviously feeling better," Sam said changing the subject. He yawned, and leaned back stretching his tall, lanky frame nearly to the fireplace. "What do you want to do first?"
"Let's go check out the house tonight," Dean replied. "I'll bet the cops won't let them back in until at least tomorrow."
Sam nodded and said, "The lady at the check in desk was more than willing to share information. She said the Bevons' were spending three days in one of the cabins while the police were conducting their investigation. She also said Mr. Bevon was ripped apart in his own bed, and that the house was locked up tight. She was actually a very chatty lady. I'm sure I could find out more from her, if we need to."
Dean chuckled and replied, "Just how old was grandma check-in lady?"
"What?" Sam asked turning more towards Dean and shooting him an annoyed glare. "Why would you think she was old?"
"Sammy," Dean said smiling, "No woman over forty can resist those puppy dog eyes of yours. They all turn maternal on you."
Sam rolled his eyes in annoyance. It was bad enough that Dean noticed things like that. It was even worse when he was right. "I think she was in her sixties," Sam muttered.
Dean laughed, and lightly slapped Sam on the leg. "Told you," he said standing up. "It's almost nine now. If we hurry, we can grab a quick bite at the restaurant before heading to the house. We may even get back before midnight if we get cracking."
"Yeah, okay," Sam replied following Dean out the door.
"Well, that waitress certainly was helpful," Sam remarked. He shifted his weight to the other foot, and steadied the flashlight.
"That's because," Dean replied working on the lock, "She couldn't resist my charm. And, you'll notice, she was twenty-seven, not seventy-two." He threw Sam a cocky grin, and the door to the Bevons' house opened. Pocketing the lock pick, Dean walked into the house first.
The coppery smell of blood reached Sam's nose. He wrinkled his nose against the scent. As accustomed as Sam was to the odor, it still bothered him somewhat. He followed Dean down the hall towards the back of the house. The odor was much stronger here.
Dean opened the door to the master bedroom. His footsteps crackled as his shoes stuck to the slightly tacky bloodstains on the hardwood floor. Sam followed close behind, shining his flashlight over the floor, the walls, even the ceiling roving over the bloodstained areas.
Sam slapped Dean on the shoulder, and pointed his flashlight along the floor. Large, canine, bloody footprints littered the floor. He shined his flashlight around the room, but could not find where the footprints led out of the room.
Sam and Dean both stopped short at the bed. It was saturated with blood. The sheets, the mattress, blankets, and pillows all had dark, crimson stains. The splatter-pattern bloodstains on the nearby wall spoke of the ferociousness of the attack. Little pieces of bloody tissue were stuck in the bloodstains on the wall, and on the sheets.
"Well, hell," Dean said softly.
"Yeah," Sam agreed to the sentiment. Sam walked back to the door, and shined his flashlight over both sides of the door. There was no evidence of claw marks, or any other sign of forced entry. Evidently, either the door was open at the time of the attack, or whatever did this, did not leave a trace. Sam felt Dean's hand land on his shoulder.
"Let's get out of here," Dean said.
Alicia watched from her bedroom window in the next door cabin as two men left her home. They did not look like the police. The car they drove off in was big and black sort of like the police car that had visited before, but Alicia knew it was not a police car. She did not like these strange men walking around their house. They made her feel scared, and she did not like that feeling.
Climbing into bed, she pulled the covers up all the way to her ears. Curling around Lila, she wrapped her arms around her little sister protectively. Alicia's breathing evened out as she fell asleep.
Dean pulled up to the cabin, and he and Sam headed in for the night. They could catch a good night's sleep, and interview the Bevons' family in the morning.
Sam crawled in to the bed near the window. Tired from his day of driving, Sam fell asleep almost instantly.
Dean lay in the bed next to the stairway. He had napped too long in the car, and now sleep was eluding him. He was running the different possible scenarios for the attack through his mind. Slowly, inexorably, Dean too drifted off to sleep.
A large, gray wolf darted silently through the silver woods.
TBC – feedback welcome!