Author's note: So my internet is finally back! Which means I can post what I've been working on to pass the time without it... It's going to be a long one, but hopefully worth the wait... Enjoy:)
A flash of lightening lit up the sky again and Dean cursed as he went blind for a second. He was already driving as slow as humanly possible - any slower and they'd be going backwards. As it was the torrential rain made it virtually impossible to see out of the windscreen, despite Dean's careful driving.
He was leaning forward, practically with his nose on the glass, in an effort to see the road. His neck and shoulders ached from the tension of being in such an uncomfortable position and he was getting a headache from concentrating so hard.
All in all, he was not having a good day.
"Where the hell is the damn turn off?" he demanded and Sam glanced down at the map that was open in his lap.
"It should be on the right any second now." he said.
Dean glared at the rain, glancing briefly at his brother.
"You've been saying that for the last 10 minutes, Sam." he said and Sam refrained from commenting, knowing Dean's nerves were already stretched given the horrendous driving conditions.
He was pretty tense himself if he was honest. It was scary being in a car in this weather, even with someone as good as Dean driving. The rain had started a few hours earlier as they'd hit the state boundary and they'd been hoping to reach the cabin before it got too bad.
Unfortunately it looked like the Winchester luck was working as well as ever.
Sam was about to suggest they just find somewhere to pull in and wait for it to clear a little when he spotted the turn they were looking for.
"There!" he shouted and the Impala swerved as Dean jumped.
"Jesus Sam! Are you trying to kill us?" he said, even as he swung the wheel forcefully to the right.
The car slid slightly as Dean braked hard so as not to overshoot the entrance to the track, but he controlled it with practised ease and seconds later they were heading down the single track road.
Sam peeled himself off the door and rubbed his shoulder as he glared a little at his brother.
"I didn't think you'd wanna try and do a U-turn in this weather. There was no need to take it like you're trying out for the Dukes of Hazzard though."
Dean snorted. "Please – my baby could kick the General Lee's ass any day. And that was a perfectly controlled manoeuvre I'll have you know."
Sam raised his eyebrows. "Oh sure, that's why I've now got the imprint of the door on my shoulder."
"Well if you'd given me more notice than 'hey, turn now!' I wouldn't have had to take it so hard!"
Sam took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a second. This was getting them nowhere. Better to just let it go and try and maintain the peace until they got settled in the cabin. Hours spent in the car and now the weather from hell wasn't conducive to brotherly relations right now and starting a fight wouldn't exactly improve the evening.
Dean too forced himself to calm down a little. Just because they hadn't exactly had the best journey was no need to take it out on Sam. He glanced across at him and when Sam looked up and caught his eye Dean gave a slight smile, which his brother returned a moment later.
Non verbal apologies taken care of, Dean went back to concentrating on the road ahead. Now they had thick tree cover on either side it was easier to see, as the trees blocked the rain a little. The track was mostly dirt but it was passable and Dean was grateful that for once he wasn't negotiating huge potholes.
"How far is the cabin?" he said and Sam measured the distance on the map with his fingers.
"Should be able to see it in about 5 minutes or so." he said.
Sure enough 7 minutes later the place came into view. The track actually ended outside the cabin and Dean pulled the Impala round till she was parked in front of it, side on. They both stayed in the car for a second, peering out at the building.
It looked pretty much like every other cabin they'd ever come across, with a wooden porch running the entire length of it and two windows either side of the main door. It was pitch black except for the light from the Impala's headlamps and Sam reached into the glove box and grabbed both flashlights. Handing one to Dean, Sam zipped up his jacket and turned up the collar before bracing himself as he opened the door.
They sprinted up the steps and although it took only a matter of seconds they were still drenched by the time they reached the front door. Dean shook his head, spraying Sam with yet more water, and Sam elbowed him.
"Hey! Knock it off with the Lassie impersonation!"
Dean just smirked at him and shone his flashlight at the door. He turned the handle and was surprised when it just opened. Glancing at Sam, who nodded to show he was ready, he pushed it open further and stepped in cautiously.
There was a light switch next to the door and deciding to see if someone was on their side for once, Dean flicked it on. For a moment nothing happened, then there was a loud rumbling/grinding noise that was presumably the generator and the room lit up. Flashing a pleased grin at Sam, Dean turned off the flashlight and looked round the room.
There was a huge fireplace against one wall, that held the charred remains of a previous fire, a couch that faced it and at one end there was a large wooden table and four chairs. The room smelt damp and musty but Dean guessed that was because it had been so long since anyone lived there. There were pictures on the walls and brightly coloured rugs on the floor, and the whole effect was one of a comfortable, lived in, home.
Moving through to the next room Dean turned the light on in there too. It was a medium sized kitchen, with wooden cupboards and an old fashioned sink. Again, it looked as if someone had left in a hurry. There were still plates stacked next to the sink to drain and a mug on the side that had Dean grimacing when he glanced inside.
"I'd keep away from that, Sam – I think it's alive."
Sam shook his head and moved into the room opposite, which was the bedroom. It had a double bed, a large wooden wardrobe, and a dressing table that sat in front of the window. Through another door leading off from that room there was the bathroom, which was small but just big enough for a free standing bath in the middle and a toilet to one side.
Dean had wandered back into the main room and when Sam came back out he saw his brother was holding a photograph he'd picked up from the mantle. He looked up as Sam came over and handed it to him.
"They look like a nice couple," he said and Sam glanced down.
Two smiling people stared back at him. The woman looked like she was in her thirties and was dressed in jeans and a green jumper. Her short hair was copper coloured and she had green eyes that seemed to sparkle even in the photograph. The man was about the same age with brown hair that sat in tight curls against his head. He was dressed casually as well, in jeans and a dark blue shirt, and he had his arms round the woman holding her tightly. The cabin was visible in the background behind them and they both looked completely happy.
Sam sighed as he handed it back to Dean. He hated when they came across the 'before' stuff in their line of work. It made it even harder when you could see how happy people were before their lives were destroyed.
It was also of course painfully familiar.
Dean frowned at him and Sam gave a half smile to show he was ok. Dean didn't look entirely convinced but let it go. He knew his brother had a tendency to get drawn in to the personal aspect of a job, whereas he tried to keep more detached.
Not that that always worked.
Walking back over to the door he peered out at the rain which was still falling heavily. He shivered as the wind blew and glancing to the left he spotted a pile of logs at the end of the porch. He walked over and felt one of them. It was damp but would probably light.
Well, given enough lighter fluid, which they happened to have an abundance of.
"Hey, Sam – bring in some of these logs would you? I'm gonna grab the bags."
He didn't wait for Sam to answer, ducking his head down into his raised collar as he made a run for the car. By the time he got back to the top of the steps, now completely soaked and muttering under his breath, Sam was clearing out the fireplace and stacking the logs he'd carried in.
Dean shoved the door shut with his foot and dropped the bags, and the shopping they'd bought in the last town, on the floor. Shrugging out of his jacket he put it on the back of one of the chairs to dry. He ran his hands through his hair, shaking excess water all over the rug he was standing on.
"You look like a drowned rat." said Sam with a grin as he went to one of the bags to look for the lighter fluid.
Dean shot him a look and threw his hands up in the air.
"Where the hell does that saying come from anyway? You ever seen a drowned rat? Cos I never have. It's not exactly a common sight."
Sam rolled his eyes.
"It's a saying, Dean."
"Yeah, well it's a stupid saying. And since you find it so funny, next time you can go and get the stuff from the car."
Taking pity on his brother Sam reached back into the bag and grabbed a towel, throwing it across the room.
With expert reflexes Dean caught it, and began to dry himself.
A few minutes later Sam had the fire going and the place was already beginning to warm up.
Dean stood in front of the flames, his clothes literally steaming. Sam had taken off his own wet jacket and came over to stand next to him.
"You're sure there won't be anyone coming to check on the place?" said Sam, frowning a little and Dean shook his head.
"It look like anyone has been here for years? I told you, they had no family and the cabin went to a distant cousin who lives in Australia. Or New Zealand. One of those. They never even came to claim it from what the records said. The nearest neighbour is about twenty miles away and we're not exactly gonna get spotted from the road. Relax, Sam – it'll be fine."
Sam winced. "Do you have to say that? Every time you say that, something goes wrong. Are you not getting the hint, Dean? Quit tempting fate."
Dean grinned. "You worry way too much, Sam. You're gonna have an ulcer by the time you're thirty."
Sam muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'I will with you for a brother' but when Dean's gaze narrowed he just looked innocent and went to get the food they'd brought with them out of the slightly soggy paper bag.
The hot water was clearly run from the generator as well and Sam was surprised to see it run clear when he turned the tap. He washed a couple of mugs, plates and cutlery, and took out the loaf of bread and fresh ham they'd bought at the store. They'd had a proper meal at the Diner there, not even knowing if the cabin would still have electricity, so he quickly made some sandwiches and found a kettle to boil some water for coffee.
Dean was sat on the couch, flicking through some print outs, when Sam came back in.
"Thanks." he said, taking the proffered plate and mug.
They ate in silence, the only noise the crackle of the logs as they burnt and the howl of the wind through the trees outside.
It was weird, thought Sam, to think that they were the first people to sit there since the previous owner's abrupt departure. It was kind of creepy.
"So what's the plan?" he said, feeling the need to break the oppressive silence.
Dean shrugged. "See if we get any action in here, and if not go down to the river when it's light. Hopefully this damn rain will let up at some point." he said.
"Were all the sightings from the river?" said Sam and Dean nodded.
"All the ones I found, yeah. There were four people who saw her and lived to tell the tale. The six guys who drowned were all either going up the river alone and stopped at the mooring or came across this place after walking through the woods. There's a path that runs along the river at the back."
Sam frowned. "So that's ten people who've encountered the spirit over the last two years. When did that last guy die?"
Dean glanced down at the papers. "Uh, two months ago. It was only in the paper last week because his boat finally showed up down river. It was intact, which is why they still can't explain how he ended up in the water."
"Unless he was pulled in." finished Sam and Dean grinned.
"Surely there must have been more than just ten people who passed this place in all that time though? Why did the spirit pick on those guys?"
"Well, they all seem to follow the pattern of having brown, curly hair and having the same build as the husband. Could be the spirit's recreating what happened that night."
Sam sipped his coffee as he thought about what they'd found out about the couple whose home they were currently sitting in.
Rob and Jenna Copper had been married five years when they bought the remote cabin and decided to leave city life behind and live there. He'd been a web designer and able to work from home, and Jenna had been a nurse who got a transfer to the nearest hospital, which was 20 miles away.
By all accounts they'd been happy there for the first year until Jenna had a car accident on her way home one night. She'd been unconscious for a week and when she woke up her personality had changed overnight. She'd gone from being a lively, bubbly, independent woman to a weeping, clinging, irrational wreck. According to police reports from their friends who'd been interviewed, she'd refused to leave the cabin afterwards. She'd quit her job and become a virtual recluse, insisting Rob spend all his time with her as well. He'd struggled enormously but he loved his wife and wouldn't even consider sending her away for help.
It had been a fatal mistake.
One night a storm had been raging for days, similar to the one that battered the cabin now. Frustrated with Jenna's accusations that he'd been having an affair – a ridiculous notion since she never allowed him to leave her sight – Rob had finally snapped. He'd told her he was leaving, that he couldn't take it anymore. The roads had been flooded so he'd grabbed some things and made for the boat they kept moored down on the river.
Jenna had followed him and from what the police could piece together, they'd fought by the waters edge. Something in Jenna had obviously finally snapped and with the river so high from the rain she'd managed to hold Rob's head underneath the water, drowning him.
Realising what she'd done, Jenna had made her way back to the cabin. She'd scrawled a note confessing to her crime and saying she couldn't live without her husband. Then she'd disappeared.
The police had searched the entire area but no trace was ever found. Her bank account and credit cards remained untouched and there wasn't even one sighting of her anywhere. Eventually the police concluded that she'd either killed herself in some remote spot or she'd been swept away by the river. Later that night it had burst its banks and swept through the town where Jenna had used to work as a nurse. It was only because they were checking on people that the Sheriff had made the grim discovery of Rob's body the following day.
"They look like they were so happy before the accident. It doesn't seem possible one blow to the head could make a person change so much." said Sam sadly.
"The brain's a complicated thing, Sam. You hit it hard enough someone's whole personality can change. I guess I'd better keep an eye on you, come to mention it. I mean you've certainly had your share of hits."
"Hilarious. I could say the same for you, you know. Although there does have to be a brain there in the first place to be damaged."
He easily dodged the cushion that came his way, ignoring Dean's glare and taking his plate and mug back into the kitchen.
Rinsing them at the sink, he peered out of the window but it was too dark to see anything. If he strained his hearing he could just about make out the roar of the river but they wouldn't be getting their first look at it till morning, that much was clear.
When he went back into the other room, Dean was sprawled on the couch with his eyes closed.
There was no response and when Sam went over he saw his brother was asleep. He debated waking him, but the drive had been stressful and tiring and clearly Dean was exhausted.
Going into the bedroom he came back with a pillow and blanket. Carefully he lifted his brother's head and slid the pillow underneath, then covered him with the blanket. Picking up the papers that had slid onto the floor, he put them on the table. Smiling slightly as Dean shifted and pulled the blanket further over his head, Sam switched out the light. There was still a glow from the fire and he put another log on, to make sure it didn't go out too soon.
With a final check on his brother, Sam made his way to the bedroom. He was pretty tired himself so he simply kicked off his boots and lay on top of the covers. The idea of getting in the bed when someone else had slept there – even if it had been two years ago – was not a pleasant one. He did pull the other blanket over himself though and decided he'd be warm enough till morning.
Closing his eyes, he listened to the wind in the trees until he drifted off.
If either of them had been awake of course, they might have noticed a brief glimpse of a woman's pale face against the front window.