Summary: The Maze is real. It sucks you in. And then the fun begins. A year after Artificial Exemplar and the boys are still finding trouble on Halloween. Sam is 11, Dean is 15.
The Blah-blah Section: Okay, this is a sequal to Artificial Exemplar. You can probably read this without reading that, but a few parts will confuse you, and really… it's only about 3,000 words, it's not gonna kill you to go read that one first. ;) This is in response to a real life game someone made online. If you haven't played it or seen it let me know and I'll send you the link. If anything, it is absolutely hysterical watching your friends and family get the crap scared out of them. I still jump and I even know its coming. Ultimately, this came from a conversation over at SFTCOL(AR)S concerning one particular vid someone posted where an older brother pulled it on his younger brother – hilarity ensued. Thanks to Bayre for her superfast Beta skills! Enjoy :)
"Hey!" Dean hung heavily on the door frame, his upper half hanging in his brother's doorway and a huge grin on his face.
"No." Sam's voice was dull, finite, and he didn't bother looking up from the book practically covering his lap and then some.
Dean frowned. "You don't even know what I'm gonna say."
"We're not going out."
"Dude, come on." Dean righted himself with a huff, releasing the frame and stepping into the bedroom. The room was small, both boy's rooms were; about the size of a closet. But neither complained because it was very rare they got a room to themselves. He kicked at the foot of his brother's bed, bored. "There's nothing else for us to do."
Sam finally looked up. "This is me doing something." And then he was back to reading again.
"Why not?" Dean half growled, half whined.
Sam's shoulders dropped and looked up again, annoyed. "Because last year when it was Halloween I almost got killed while you were busy catapulting gummy bears at the wall. All we did was open the door-"
"You opened the door."
Sam gave him an incredulous look. "Because you told me to!"
"So? You've got a mind of your own."
"Yeah, and right now it's telling you no."
"Dean, all we-" Sam paused, eyes rolling to the ceiling. "All I did, that you told me to do, was open the door to hand out the candy… opened the front door." Sam enunciated carefully. "And you want to actually go outside… into deadliest night of the year?!"
"It's Halloween," Dean stated, inflecting into his voice just how much of a drama queen he felt his brother was being.
"No, it's Samhain, the most powerful wiccan holiday throughout the year."
Dean looked at him dully.
"Besides, Dad would kill us," Sam mumbled quickly, returning his gaze to his reading.
"Yeah, that's what I thought. Look, Dad's gone for another four days, he'll never kno-"
Sam looked at his brother with narrowed eyes, cutting him off. "Right, because I've never heard that one before. He'll know."
"Think of all the candy." Dean enticed.
"Candy rots your teeth." Sam turned the page in his book and ignored him.
"Fine." Dean growled in disgust, but didn't move from his spot at the end of the bed. "Would you at least come downstairs and entertain me then?"
"You're your own self imposed prison Dean."
"And you're a walking geek goddess."
Sam snorted without raising his eyes from his book. "Very mature."
"Come on, please? I've even got something I think you'll enjoy."
"I doubt it."
"No, really," Dean perked up; he hadn't said no. "It's a thinking game of sorts."
"Then why are you playing it?"
"Because smart ass it also requires some stealth skills. And I'm a mad ninja when it comes to stealthy."
Sam chuckled, shaking his head. He sighed finally, looking up, no commitment on his face. "What is it?"
Dean held back his grin, he could see he'd piqued his brother's interest, but he couldn't give away he knew or Sam would clam up and flat out refuse to play the game. "It's a maze."
Sam watched him a moment, waiting for the catch. "…A maze." He said flatly.
"Yeah, on the computer."
"It's a computer game?"
"What, you don't like computer game's now? Are they not ancient enough for his highness?" Dean gestured toward the large, aged book in his brother's lap.
"Did Dad say you could use his computer?"
"Oh my God, you are such a Cleaver." Dean complained.
"Whatever," Sam mumbled into his book.
"Look! You are a big boy now Dean. You can entertain yourself."
Dean pursed his lips, eyes narrowed in thought. He smirked suddenly. "Hey Sam, did you hear Mr. Wiggle's back in town?"
Sam's head jerked up with wide eyes. "Don't even think about it," he warned.
Dean's grin turned malicious.
"Dean!" Sam's eyes darted toward the door, desperately. Dean slowly walked toward him, hands rising at his sides. "It's not funny!"
"What's that? You don't like Mr. Wiggles?" Dean asked with feigned shock.
Sam shoved the book off his lap and stood, backing away from his brother. His back hit the wall. "We're not five anymore!" he growled.
Dean advanced closer, grin held firmly in place, wiggling his fingers.
"Dean, stop! I mean it!"
Dean leapt just as Sam shoved him and made a run for the door. Dean stumbled backwards but was still able to grasp hold of a leg. Sam went down, bouncing off the side of the bed before hitting the floor. Dean recovered first, pouncing on his kid brother and struggling for supremacy.
Sam yelled a few colorful phrases at his brother who grasped first one hand then the other. Dean flipped them both over, Dean's back against the bed and Sam's back against Dean's chest. He crossed his brother's arms across Sam's chest and then pinned them down with one hand. Sam was still pretty small for his age, hadn't hit his growth spurt yet; Dad soothed his brother's fears saying Sam was just holding it all in for one big burst.
"Stop it! This isn't funny!" Sam screamed, kicking and struggling for all his worth.
Dean chuckled making sure he had a good grip on his brother's wrists and brought his free hand in front of his brother's face, wriggling the fingers around. "Mr. Wiggles thinks you should come downstairs and play with your brother Sam. What do you say?"
"Kiss my ass Dean!" Sam growled angrily.
"Uh-oh, you have displeased Mr. Wiggles." Dean's wiggling fingers moved lower. Sam's eyes trailed them with fear, still struggling.
"This isn't funny!"
"Mr. Wiggles thinks widdle Sammy needs a lesson to not be so grumpy."
Dean dug his wiggling fingers into his little brother's stomach, hitting all the right spots. Sam gasped, grunted, bit his lip and tried desperately to hold in the giggles. Dean pressed in a little harder, fingers scraggling and wriggling frantically in his sensitive stomach. The smile broke free and traitorous laugher filled the air.
Dean smiled at his success and chuckled at his brother's predicament. "What's the matter Sammy?" He tightened his hold as his brother squirmed with uncontrolled laughter, changing to lobster clawing Sam's sides. The laughter turned to high pitched screeches and squealing laughs. "I thought you didn't like Mr. Wiggles?"
Sam's hair flew into his eyes as he shook it back and forth in denial, he couldn't speak past the laughter. Dean laughed a bit himself at his brother's expense. His little brother was just too easy sometimes.
"Will you come downstairs and play the game?" Dean dug his fingers into a particularly sensitive spot just above the boy's hip bones and Sam lost it.
"YES Ha Ha HaHA! YES! Please! Sto-ha-ha-haaap! I'll do it!"
Dean stopped, released him, shoved the younger boy off his lap and stood with a satisfied grin on his face. "Good, let's go."
Sam lay gasping on the floor, trying to reign in the phantom giggles. "I hate you."
Dean shrugged. "It's not my fault you're so ticklish."
"You exploit it. You're bigger than me. It's not fair." Sam was still trying to catch his breath on the floor, arms wrapped around his middle protectively.
"You'll get over it. Now come on." Dean bounced chipperly on his feet. "I got to level four. I wanna see how far you can get."
Sam grumbled as he pushed his weary frame up and followed his brother downstairs. Dean tried to hide his excitement at what would most likely be the most entertaining scene he'd ever be witness to.
The laptop sat by itself on the small kitchen table. Sam paused in the kitchen doorway, staring at it a moment.
"What?" Dean asked innocently, pulling a chair out for his brother to sit in. Be cool, be cool.
Sam was reading him; his face set in caution mode. "What's goin' on Dean?"
"What do you mean?" Dean played expertly. All day he'd been bugging his brother about going out and stealing candy, smashing pumpkins… being generally destructive. All of it had been so this, this harmless little game wouldn't look like that big of a deal… wouldn't be suspicious. Dean knew his little brother, and Sam was lightning quick on picking up on things; super cautious and intuitive as hell. It really was a testament to how good Dean was as playing the con when he could work one over on his brother.
"I mean, what is the big deal with the stupid game?" Sam gestured toward the table, still not setting foot into the kitchen.
Dean stood to his full height, pretending to be slightly offended. "Look, you don't have to play it if you don't want to, but I'm bored and I thought this might be something we'd both like. But if you don't want to, then fine, you don't have to. Go back to your reading." Dean put on a mask of defensive hurt… just enough to lay on some guilt.
Sam's shoulders dropped marginally, as did the cautious look in his eyes. Score! Guilting Sammy 101; Dean had no qualms abusing his older brother status and hero-worship into getting what he wanted. At least not for this anyways. Sam looked sufficiently guilty for stepping on Dean's attempt at some brotherly bonding time. So much so, he visibly stuffed down his caution and walked into the kitchen.
Dean grinned and patted the head of the chair; Sam slid into it, scooting it closer to the table.
"So how do you play?" Sam asked, trying to cover up his shame; relieve the awkwardness.
Dean leaned over his shoulder and clicked the mouse on a link. The page loaded and a blue screen popped up with directions listed out. Dean started explaining, despite knowing Sam was probably already reading them.
"Okay, the object is to get from start to finish without touching any walls. So you have to have a steady hand."
"How many levels are there?"
"I don't know. I've only gotten to level four." Total lie. There was no level four. Halfway through level three the game automatically flashed a surprise across the screen. Dean had heard a couple of kids laughing about it in class and had gotten the web address from them. He'd tested it out, and then planned all day yesterday on how to pull it over on his brother.
"How do you know there even is an ending?"
Dean paused, the grin dropping. "What do you mean?" Leave it to Sam to analyze every little thing; always ruining his jokes.
"What if this is some sick and twisted way to get people to spend all their time doing this mind numbing game and never really reach a goal? What if it goes on forever?"
Dean pursed his lips in frustration. "Why would someone spend all that time making something like that?"
Sam blinked at him flatly. "Because they're sick and twisted."
"Look, if you don't think you can make it past level three that's fine, just say so. Not everyone can be good at mazes-"
Sam slapped Dean's hand away from the mouse and Dean had to fight off the giddy chuckles that wanted to escape. When in doubt, play on Sam's competitive nature; the little guy was always trying to prove himself.
Sam clicked on the start link and the screen changed to a black square with a simple blue 'L' shaped looking maze. Sam's brow piqued. "I thought this was a maze."
"It is." Dean assured.
Sam's head turned, looking up at him with his usual 'you're kidding me' expression.
"It's harder than it looks," Dean grumbled, shoving his shoulder to make him pay attention to the screen. The shove pushed Sam's arm resting on the mouse, causing the cursor to move into the black wall along the maze.
The screen immediately switched to a blue page that stated in bold black letters "You Lose".
"Now see?" Dean pointed to the screen over Sam's shoulder. "You can't touch the walls or you have to start all over again."
"So if you get to level 50, or however many levels there are, and you screw up, you have to start all the way over?"
"Yup." Dean smiled down at him.
"So basically this is a frivolous, never-ending game that you've felt the need to prove yourself on."
Dean stared right back at him with a grin. "Bet ya five bucks you don't make it past level three."
Sam's lips pursed as he turned back toward the screen, trying to hide his competitive excitement; Dean could see right through it though. He beamed widely behind him as Sam hit the start link again and the 'L' shaped maze popped up. Sam easily guided his cursor from start to finish in less than two seconds.
The screen immediately switched to level two. It looked a bit more like a black and blue version of the Donkey Kong barrel roll, but easy enough all the same if you concentrated. Sam leaned a little further closer to the screen, adjusting his grip on the mouse for more control.
Dean covered his smile with a hand, stepping back a bit.
Sam made it though level two and the screen switched to level three. It didn't look as hard as its predecessor, but the very last leg of the maze, the walls narrowed fairly thin. Sam leaned even closer to the screen, licking his lips and pulling the bottom one between his teeth. His gaze was intense and close to the screen as he maneuvered the cursor through the easy part, nearing the narrow walls.
Suddenly an ear-piercing scream accompanied the screen changing to a huge picture of a scary exorcist girl with flashing eyes, grey skin hanging from her face, black rotting teeth, and mangled hair.
Sam's eyes widened to saucers, screamed, flung himself backwards in the chair, tipping it over, nearly knocking the table over, rolled off the downed chair onto the floor, scrambling toward and behind his hunched over brother who was laughing hysterically at him. It took Sam exactly .2 seconds to realize Dean had set him up.
Dean knew the moment Sam figured it out because he found himself shoved onto the floor with a solid kick to his hip. He hardly felt it, he was too busy laughing, even on the floor, as embarrassing as it was, he couldn't get the picture of his little brother having a complete freak-out session out of his head.
"You're a complete jack-ass!" Sam screamed from the living room.
Dean swallowed down the laughter to at least a manageable level, pushing himself up and staggering into the living room, still hunched over with chortles and wiping at his wet eyes. As soon as he saw his little brother lying on the living room floor, a hand to his chest and a look of shocked anger on his face, he broke down again into convulsive guffaws. He couldn't help it, and his legs gave out on him; falling to his knees with uncontrolled, high pitched laughter.
"Oh my God!" He wheezed out between laughs. "You shoulda' seen yer face!"
"I hate you." Sam growled, still pressing a hand to his chest and trying to control his adrenaline trembles.
Dean laughed harder, bending over like he was about to wet himself. "That was the funniest thing I've ever seen!"
Through his tears he could see his little brother's scowl suddenly twitch, twist- fighting it, he was fighting it… but he lost. Sam broke out into a grin, a snort of laughter following close behind as he watched his older brother completely lose it with laughter.
Dean wiped at his wet eyes and cheeks again and soon both boys were rolling on the floor, cracking up. Minutes later, the boys still lay on the floor, exhausted and spent; stomach muscles cramped, and sweat and tears lining their hair.
"You shoulda' seen yer face dude," Dean wheezed, grinning across the floor at his brother.
Sam's head rolled to his right, meeting his gaze with a tired smile. "You're a jerk," he said hoarsely.
"You totally set that all up didn't you? The going out tonight and everything? It was all just to get me to play that stupid game?"
"You got owned dude." And Dean couldn't help it if he felt a little prideful hearing the slight awe in his brother's voice. Yeah, he was awesome, and he knew it.
"You're lucky I didn't try dousing it in holy water this time… Dad would've been pissed." Sam chuckled.
"Consider it retribution for Mr. Churbie."
Sam sighed loudly, relishing just laying in the aftermath of tense muscles gone goopy. "I can't move."
"Me either." A minute of silent breathing passed and the room stilled. "Wanna play it again?"
Sam snagged a pillow from the couch and flung it at his brother's face.
It was late. Actually, it was early; John grimaced, glancing at his watch as he silently closed the front door behind him. He was careful to not disturb the salt line and made certain he locked the door and bolted it. It was Samhain after all.
He didn't know what he'd been thinking; leaving his boys home alone on the most dangerous night of the year. He'd ditched the wisp in the forest and hauled butt home. It wasn't like the thing had hurt anyone anyways, more of an annoyance than anything. Definitely something to be hunted on a less wicked night. Especially considering what had happened last year.
He was still proud of his boys for their efforts in killing that monster. He never found out what it was, but his boys were alive and well and he'd count his blessings just this once.
He glanced up the stairs, seeing Dean's door cracked open and flickering light from the television escaping through it. He could barely hear a mumbled comment from his youngest, followed by his first-born's muffled response. He smiled warmly.
He turned and quietly made his way into the kitchen, dumping his jacket on the table and pulling a soda out of the refrigerator. Quietly, he opened it and leaned his back against the counter. It had been a long drive with a lot of stops to allow costumed children to pass in front of him. Really, what were parents thinking?
He frowned slightly as he noticed his computer opened; a simple looking website already on the screen. He pushed off from the counter, righted the chair on the floor, sat in it, shifting so the gun in his belt wasn't digging into his back, and started reading the simple directions on the screen.
"No way," Sam scoffed at the screen. He was sitting beside his brother, Indian style with their backs to the wall, watching an old favorite. No matter how many times they watched it, Sam still felt the need to point out the flaws.
And Dean still felt the need to defend it. "What? It could happen."
"Dean, matter doesn't work that way." Sam gestured toward the TV. "You can't just form it into a ghost busting ray that catches everything supernatural."
"Because they're all different. Just like you can't use a binding spell on a goblin."
"Actually, I don't think we've ever tried that," Dean looked thoughtful.
"Dean," Sam spoke with flat patience, "if crossing the streams were really that big of a deal, you'd think they'd tweak the settings a little so the streams weren't so uncontrollable… ya know?"
Dean was cut off when a high pitched, familiar scream sounded from downstairs followed closely by a loud thud and then three deafening gunshots. The boys froze, eyes wide and holding their breaths. A few seconds of silence but for the movie on the TV, passed.
"DEAN! SAM!" Their father roared suddenly from downstairs.
Sam and Dean slowly turned to look at each other; eyes wide, mouths open, faces paling.
(at least until next Halloween ;)