Word Count: 3,087
Warnings: Nothing really, no pairings or spoilers.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Pre-series. A cursed mirror traps Dean's soul behind its glass, while his body is hijacked by a spirit. There's a limited amount of time to save him before the doppelganger is all that's left but will John and Sam even notice Dean's missing?
A/N: Sorry for the delay with this chapter. Thank you to extraonions for the initial beta and marvinmuse for the final beta.
"Anything?" Sam asked as Krandel came down from the attic.
"Me neither, I'm starting to think the house has nothing to do with it." Sam grumbled as they headed down the stairs.
"Dean, Sam, you boys find anything?" John asked as they joined him by the front door.
"Nothing." Sam agreed, adding "it's possible the spirit or whatever it is only acts up when there's women around."
"I know, but the only way to be sure would be to bring a woman here and I'm not willing to risk someone's life." John replied. "Alright, we know where Ruth Shelby's buried?" Sam nodded. "Then we're going to salt and burn her bones."
"If it's not her then we'll have desecrated an innocent person's grave." Sam protested.
"We don't have much choice Sam, it's the 30th tomorrow, if we do nothing someone will die and it's the only lead we have."
As salt and burns went this one was proving to be rather anti-climatic. A clear marked grave, ground easy to dig and so far no spirits trying to stop them. Sam and Krandel had worked together to dig while much to their annoyance John had stood watch. Sam climbed out at they hit wood and Krandel raised his shovel, breaking the rotting wood easily.
"Damn, that reeks!" Krandel couldn't get out of the grave quick enough, covering his nose and mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.
Sam leaned over the open grave, his curiosity getting the better of him as he wondered what could be so bad to make Dean react like that. But he couldn't smell anything that wasn't to be expected. "It's not like it's your first salt and burn, it smells no worse than usual."
"Maybe to you." Sam heard gagging noises from behind the shirt.
John meanwhile had doused the body in gas and salt. Lighting the matches, he waited a moment for them to catch fire and burn. He dropped them, and yellow flames shot up as the gas ignited.
A moment later, over the light of the fire licking up the sides of the grave he saw a pure white glow, brighter than the fire. Looking up, behind his sons stood a woman, pale and coloured only in whites and greys she was clearly a spirit. The spirit of Ruth Shelby. John immediately raised his shotgun.
"Boys! Move!" Sam moved quickly out the way, like he'd been trained to do while Dean followed John's gaze to the woman. John shifted a step to the side to be sure Dean was out of the line of fire growling his son's name. John's finger tightened on the trigger as Dean finally moved backwards, away from the spirit.
John paused though, she wasn't trying to hurt them or even come closer. She merely stood, her expression so sad and compassionate. She slowly shook her head as her form quivered like a mirage and faded away.
"What was that about?" Sam said, confused, John however had more pressing concerns.
"Dean, what the hell were you thinking? If I give you an order; you do it!" Dean looked at John. He was surprised by the shocked look on Dean's face, like he'd seen a ghost from his past rather than just a ghost.
"I, uh, I don't know."
"Well, maybe you'll know when you do extra training tomorrow morning." John barked, heading back to the car. "I want that grave filled in and you back in the car in ten minutes. Sam, you're with me."
Recovering from his shock, Krandel fumed as he looked from the retreating backs of Sam and John and the large pile of dirt he had to move. Just a little longer.
The car was cold, and John quickly started the engine, turning on the heater as he rubbed his hands. Sam opened the passenger door and slid in, disregarding the fact that the seat was usually his brother's.
"Dad, since we finished the hunt so quickly, can we go back?" John sighed; this wasn't going to end well for either of them, especially as there was no Dean to diffuse the situation.
"Back where?" He tried to buy some time by playing ignorant.
"I want to see my friends."
"Sam, after this we're moving on. Finding another hunt."
"Why what?" These were the questions John hated the most. 'Why' had been Sam's favourite word when he was three, he'd foolishly hoped Sam would grow out of asking it. Instead, the questions had only become a lot harder to answer as Sam grew older.
"Why can't we settle down somewhere, hunt things that are nearby rather than across the whole country."
"It just doesn't work like that son."
"It's not fair." Sam crossed his arms.
"I know. But that's life."
Sam snorted but said no more. They spent the time waiting for Dean in silence. When he returned, they drove back to the motel. Dean didn't say anything for the rest of the evening, not even when Sam wished him goodnight.
Krandel gently turned the handle, trying to avoid any creaks that may wake up Sam. He'd come back earlier tonight, not wanting to risk Sam carrying through on his threat and telling John if he woke to an empty bed again.
"Dean." Krandle froze. "Where have you been?" John was sitting by the table in darkness and both beds were empty. Clearly he'd been waiting for his son to come home. Sam had been a tattletale. Didn't he know things like that could get him killed?
Krandel didn't answer and John stood, walking right up to him and into his personal space. He could no doubt smell the alcohol on his breath and the smoke clogging his clothes.
"You been out to a bar?"
"Maybe." Krandel said in a 'what's it to you' manner, "a guy's gotta have some fun around here." he raised his eyebrows, amused at the incredulous look on John's face.
"Not while we're on a hunt, and not after that stunt you pulled at the grave yard."
"Hunting what, Dad? There's nothing at that house. And you never said I was grounded." Krandel stepped around John, taking off his jacket and dumping it on Sam's bed before slouching in the seat John had just vacated.
"I was listening in on the police radio chatter. A woman was found dead two hours ago, could be a coincidence but we don't have coincidences in our line of work. So don't you tell me there's nothing to hunt." John walked over and stood over Krandel, his voice was low and it vibrated with anger. "You've been drinking and smoking and from now on you don't go anywhere without my express permission, you may be eighteen but I'm still your father. Get your act together, Dean. And don't even think about driving the car for the next month"
"You have no right to talk to me like that." Krandel stood coming face to face again with John. He had had enough, he'd escaped one prison, he wasn't about to allow anyone else to restrict him again.
"I have every right." John shouted.
"Shut up old man, I don't need to put up with your crap. You treat your sons like nothing more than soldiers!"
"I'm teaching you how to protect yourselves!"
"Consider me taught then." Krandel stormed out the door, slamming it behind him.
Dean sat crossed legged in front of the mirror staring into the 'real' attic. A few hours ago he had started to notice that the blue colour of his new jeans had faded somewhat and knew that the Krandle had been telling the truth. With nothing else to do his mind wandered; thinking about what his family might be doing right now, thinking with a shudder about what Krandle might be doing with his body.
He'd better not be shovelling down cream cakes and chocolate dessert.
Dean worked hard to stay in shape; he didn't want some murderous spirit to ruin it all. He resolutely avoided the voice in the back of his mind that pointed out that Krandle was probably doing much worse, and all while wearing Dean's face.
"Dad? Where's Dean?" Sam pushed the door separating the two motel rooms tentatively. Sam had heard the door slam and the argument, and he was worried. He briefly wondered if this was what Dean felt like when he argued with dad.
"He went out." John's reply was tight-lipped. He stood in the middle of the room, hands clenched into fists at his side.
"Not now Sam, a woman was found dead this morning." John pulled himself together and turned to the table, rummaging through the various papers on the surface. "Burning Ruth Shelby's bones didn't work."
"But that's not like Dean. You don't argue and he doesn't slam doors and…and he's been acting off." Sam said. The argument had shook him slightly, it was so out of character.
"I don't know where his new attitude has come from, but I don't have time to deal with that right now." He knew something was up with Dean and he intended to deal with it, but women were dying now. Finding his notes from earlier and pocketing them, John turned to Sam. "I'm going to the police station; see what I can find out. Stay here, go over what we have, see if you can find anything we might have missed." John shrugged on his leather jacket. "If Dean comes back, make sure he doesn't leave again."
"Yes, sir." Sam said as the door slammed again.
A few hours later John returned, bringing lunch, coffee and a hot chocolate for Sam but no further information. Other than a cursory glance around the room he didn't mention Dean's absence.
"The police have no idea. They haven't got an official ID yet but it sounds like its Kelly Young. She was reported missing yesterday. Her friends last saw her leaving the club they were in with a guy. CCTV cameras were broken so they don't know who the guy is but obviously he's the number one suspect. Her body was dumped on the outskirts of town in a woodland, neck broken. There are no clues to her attacker, at least not yet, the forensic teams are still there. They estimate time of death as the day before yesterday."
Sam's mind immediately flashed to Dean coming back in the morning, smelling like a club. But it was Dean, and he probably didn't even go to that club.
"So it may have nothing to do with the case? Just coincidence?" Sam said around a mouthful of bacon sandwich.
"It's possible." John conceded.
"Well, I found something. There was another death in the house."
"Yeah, well, not technically. He died in the hospital a couple of days later but he never regained consciousness. He collapsed in the house."
"This is from a report in the local newspaper. It says here that Robert Krandle, an antique collector, had heard about a valuable mirror that Ruth Shelby owned. He went to see her, wanted to try and persuade her to sell it. She refused, he became violent and she defended herself. When police arrived on the scene they found Krandle collapsed."
"Why a mirror though? Why was he so desperate to own it?"
"Is there a picture of the mirror?" John asked.
"Yeah, in the police report. Here." Sam shoved a piece of paper towards John. He picked it up, studying the carved mirror.
"The first appearance deceives many" John muttered, "There's something more to this mirror, could be cursed somehow, the Latin must mean something. And there has to be some reason beyond greed as to why he wanted it so badly."
"Where's do you think the mirror is now?"
John shrugged. "Could be anywhere, there's a chance it could still be in the house. The Shelby's left a lot of things there when they moved, and since all the owners of the house since have died, it could still be there."
"You reckon it's Krandel that has something to do with the murders?"
"It's looking more and more likely." John admitted.
The silence was stifling, the boredom was mind numbing and that was nothing compared to the insatiable need to do something. Dean felt powerless inside the room and he could feel himself growing weaker all the time. The fading was becoming more noticeable, like the sand in an hourglass, his soul was slipping away.
Dean pushed himself to his feet for the tenth time in as many minutes. There had to be something he could do. Even running through Metallica albums in his head got old after a few hours. Dean had never been very good keeping himself occupied.
Dad and Sam would find him. Of that Dean was sure. Although doubt had begun to creep into his mind a few hours ago as to whether it would be in time. Dean found himself wanting to talk to them again, even if it would be for one last time. He didn't believe in tearful farewells or emotional confrontations, even though he was sure Sammy would turn it into one. The thought brought a small smile to his face.
Sighing in frustration Dean turned and kicked a box in frustration. A book slid off the top of the pile and fell out onto the floor, pages open. The letters and words held no interest to Dean, but an idea began to form in his head. There was a way he could speak to his family before it was too late.
Two hours later Dean was finally finished. Two hours of careful tearing, stinging paper cuts and five books later he had finally composed his message ransom note style. His hands had been fading and he found it difficult to see to tear out letters. He had no glue so he secured the torn out letters from chapter titles to the blank pages torn out of the back of books with spit. He was the only one in the room anyway; he'd just have to be careful not to disturb them. Dean looked over his work, feeling satisfied and accomplished and perverse sense of glee at how Sam would be horrified he had defiled books.
dAD, SAM, sOUl StUck IN MirRoR, kRAndLe In mE. DOnT Read lATin. HELP.
What to write for the last line had been bothering Dean for a while, he didn't want to say goodbye although he realised it may very well be the last thing he said to his family.
LooK AfTEr EACh OthER.
KiCk HiS ASS fOr Me.
The door opened. John and Sam both turned in their seats to see Dean walk in. He appeared to be calmer but Sam held his breath, watching his father and Dean waiting to see if it was about to kick off again.
"I'm not apologizing." Dean said.
Sam winced. Good start, Dean.
Luckily for Dean, John was more focused on the job. "We'll talk about this later." He said with a glare. "We're heading back to the house, there's a mirror we need to find. It may explain some of this. Sam will fill you in, get your gear ready, I want you in the car in five minutes." John stood and walked out the door.
Sam relaxed slightly and began to explain. "There was another death in the house –"
"I don't care." Dean cut him off. Dean walked over to his bed and began checking his weapons in his bag. He slipped a knife into the holster by his ankle and got out the rock salt shotgun.
"You should care." Sam pointed out as he cleared up the research on the table.
"Well I don't, and you should care about how you tattled on me to Dad."
"Well I don't. I warned you, Dean."
"I warned you of the consequences."
This was so unlike Dean. He'd had been acting different, out of character for the past few days.
"That's not what you're supposed to say, Dean."
"What?" The look of confusion on Dean's face was so genuine that Sam stopped what he was doing.
"When I say jerk you always say…" Sam left it open, waiting for Dean to finish. He didn't. Suddenly everything over the last few days fell into place. The sneaking out, the drinking, the insubordination to Dad, a thousand little things that all deviated from how Dean usually was. It all started to come together like Sam was finally putting the finishing touches to a jigsaw and seeing for the first time what the picture was.
"You're not Dean."
Dean's smile sent shivers down Sam's back. He'd never seen Dean smile at him like that, cold and malicious. Sam slowly stood, tensing and ready to run.
"Christo." He prayed it was just a demon. Demons were seriously bad news, but they could be exorcised. However, Dean didn't react.
"Not the sharpest, are you, Sammy? I'm honestly surprised, I thought you would have figured it out before now, you obviously either don't pay much attention to Dean or he and I have more in common than I thought."
Guilt flashed across Sam's face. "Who are you?"
"Right now, I'm Dean Winchester." He said spreading his arms out wide. "Part time hunter, part time brother to your wimpy ass. But if you want to know who you're talking to? I'm Robert Krandle, with a full time new lease on life."
"Krandel? The antique collector? But…how?"
"It's a long story; let's just say my death wasn't as natural as reported."
"Get out my brother!" Sam raised his voice, hoping his father might hear.
"Well, since you asked nicely…no. I don't think so." Krandel started walking towards him and Sam edged backwards.
"If you won't get out then we'll make you." It was an empty threat, Sam didn't have a clue how you got dead spirits out of people. He turned to run to the door but Krandel was too quick, his arm grabbed Sam, twisting him around and onto the floor where he pinned Sam's body with his own.
"You can't, and soon it won't matter anyway. Dean will be gone." Krandel spoke with a certainty that chilled Sam.
"You're lying." But there was no guarantee; Sam had to get away, he had to find his dad now.
"We'll see." Krandle drew back his hand and Sam saw black.
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