Disclaimer: I don't own'em and certainly don't make any money from them. The story plot is mine though, as are any original characters, even the ones I kill off.
This story is for Raven524 who 'won' me in a charity auction. Her generosity is responsble for this story so I hope she likes it. The story is three chapters in length: here is the first. Special thanks to Red Hardy and K Hanna Korossy. You gals are wonderful.
The creature watched from just beneath the lake's surface, its dark scaly form motionless and invisible against the blackness of the water. Unblinking, it watched, coiled and powerful, as a large black car growled to a stop a few hundred feet from the lake's edge and three people got out: a man and two younger males, sons, an enhanced intelligence supplied as it slowly moved closer to the shore, careful not to ripple the water. A flicker of tongue licked at the surface and confirmed what it already knew, the men smelled of the same blood. Family.
Watching, it saw two slowly walk towards the water's edge while the third stayed with the car. The one, father, was dangerous, casting out the stink of a predator and it almost recoiled and rethought this hunt. Almost. The other two, older and younger, were… different.
The older reeked of threat, not as rank as the father, but enough to cast warning to the creature as it watched him for a bit before shifting to the younger, the one that stayed further back. The younger was different: the barest whiff of his elders clung to him, lightly basting him in potential, but something else stronger, sweeter, tickled its senses and awakened its hunger.
The father was at the water's edge now, within striking distance if the beast wearied of thoughts of self-preservation. But it held back, waited; evolutionary patience practiced.
Another quick flicker of the tongue tasted the air and then the creature sank further beneath the water seeking out the lake's murky depth. The younger would fill its belly tonight.
Twenty-year-old Dean Winchester stood on the edge of the large lake and watched his father as the older man crouched down and seemed to almost be reading the water as his dark brown eyes stared out over its expanse. He never tired of watching the man work, endeavoring to take in every lesson he could, even the ones his father never taught.
Something was making people from the local area disappear and the senior Winchester was certain that whatever it was involved this lake. He just wasn't sure exactly what yet as the possibilities were staggering. And after almost a week of driving, research and talking to the townsfolk, they were here, ready to do some actual reconnaissance.
John had hoped to be doing this two days ago but Sam, currently standing by the car with a forlorn look on his face, had come down with a nasty case of food poisoning outside Tucson, Arizona and they were laid up the extra time until puke-boy finished the rounds. Thankfully that part of it was over, but now an unhappy, ill feeling little brother was left behind and as much as Dean pitied him – it sucked to be on a hunt when you weren't feeling exactly up to snuff – leaving Sam behind in the motel room wasn't an option because, well they weren't exactly staying in a motel right now. Funding was low, the weather mild so until John or Dean had a chance to fatten their pockets, the Winchesters would be sleeping at Chez Impala. It wasn't exactly the best of accommodations especially with Sam still doing his 'death warmed over' impersonation, but those extra two nights of sickness just weren't budgeted for. Their father did promise it would only be for a night or two and Dean was hoping, as much for himself as Sam, that the older man was right.
Speaking of Sam…
"Hey, butt-monkey," Dean yelled at his sibling, "get your scrawny ass down here!" Wasn't like people were disappearing in the area or anything… He ignored the daggered look his brother threw him before Sam complied, tramping noisily down towards the water.
One severe look from John lightened Sam's footsteps. They were scoping out the area, after all. Dean didn't miss the aggravated look his father served him either. Oops, maybe shouting hadn't been the best way to go.
"What do you see?" the former Marine asked his sons, once Sam stopped next to Dean and followed his brother's gaze across the lake. John was still crouched and didn't seem to address either of them particularly.
"It's too quiet," Sam offered, earning his own scowl from Dean. That was going to be his answer. Now he'd have to go for something better.
"Nothing's moving in the lake." He grinned and side-stepped a half hearted swipe. It wasn't exactly the same thing Sam said, he'd made it more specific. "No ripples, no bugs. Nothing."
"Anything else?" It was hard to tell if their father was pleased or not sometimes.
Sam shrugged. Dean tried a bit harder. "Ah-" he screwed up his face, hating to admit defeat but he wasn't exactly a lake-kinda-boy so he wasn't really sure what he wasn't supposed to be seeing.
"The lake is self contained," John stood up. "There aren't any rivers coming in or out so if there is anything here, it's either very old or-"
"Or it's been put here!" Sam finished finally showing a bit of interest.
"Exactly," Dean parroted, earning him a scowl from his brother and a silencing glare from his father. Geez. Everyone's a critic.
"Dean, grab your gear, we're going to check out the area, see if we can find anything that'll help identify what we're dealing with." John was already stalking back towards the car. His sons followed. "Sam, I want you to stay here. Keep an eye out and stay away from the lake."
Sam opened his mouth to protest but his father stopped him with a look.
The fact that the sixteen-year-old only gave a defeated sigh was a testament to just how poorly the kid must still be feeling so Dean being the awesome big brother he was, just had to try and help.
"Look on the bright side, Sammy," he pitched as he took the shotgun his father handed him and pocketed a small walkie-talkie, "could be worse… We could tie a rope around your waist and just toss you in, see who's hungry… Let'em do a little nibbling on your toes." He gave his appalled looking brother his best smile, "Hey, we'd pull you back in before it got much past your toes." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"You're gross," petulant little brother grumbled but not before Dean saw the ghost of smile threatening to twitch his lips out of the scowl.
"Dean," John slammed the trunk closed, handed Sam his own walkie-talkie, a crossbow and the keys to the car. "Let's go." Shouldering a small duffle the hunter spoke to his younger son. "We'll check in every half an hour. You don't hear from us, you don't come looking. You drive back to town and call Bobby – he's picking up some scrap about two hours from here and knows we're in the area. You got that?"
Sam nodded but didn't say anything.
"Okay," John hefted the pack a little higher, then continued. "Good. All right, talk to you in thirty." Dean gave his brother a wink and started walking away from the car as his father finished, "oh and Sam. I mean it. Stay away from the water."
"Yes, sir," came a flat reply.
As Dean fell in line behind his father he felt sorry for the kid. This wasn't turning out to be a very good week for Sam and, as much as Dean loved the Winchester-mobile, even he had to admit Impala sitting was boring.
Bottom line? It just sucked being left behind.
Sam felt like crap.
Watching until his father and brother disappeared into the dense forest surrounding the lake, the sixteen-year-old sagged back against the car finally giving into just how miserable he really was feeling. His whole body ached; his stomach muscles sore from the retching, his throat hoarse from throwing up, his head still beating time with his heart, and worst of all was how horribly weak he was still feeling. Standing had taken heroic effort, trying to keep up the front of feeling better for his father and brother, beyond exhausting. Now that they were gone though, the teen was ready to stretch out in the backseat of the car and see if he could get a little rest until the first check-in.
But first he did a thorough visual reconnaissance, his weary gaze taking in the eerily placid lake skirted by an almost white pebble beach and lush green trees so dense that it was impossible to see anything past them. He listened as he looked, making himself familiar with the normal sounds of the area, just as his father had taught.
"Familiarize yourself with how things are supposed to sound," his father's words echoed around him, an unexpected nudge of comfort. "Then listen for what you aren't supposed to hear… Your eyes and your ears will be your two most important weapons. Use them."
"Yes, sir," Sam's response was automatic, his near whisper, gun-shot loud in the quiet. Finally satisfied with his appraisal and confident that he'd pick it up if anything changed, the young hunter gave in to his recuperating body's need to rest.
Tugging open the backdoor, Sam groaned as he sank down into the vinyl, resting the crossbow and walkie-talkie on the floor and pulling the door closed behind him. God, this felt good… Slowly curling up on his side, his long coltish legs practically drawn up to his chin, the young hunter wearily closed his eyes and let the quiet sounds of the lake lapping at the beach lull him to sleep. He was just so tired.
Something woke Sam and he instantly sat up, adrenaline shoving misery to the back of his mind. One hand reached for the crossbow as he peered through the window and tried to figure out what he'd heard. A large ripple in the water drew his attention to the lake and he slowly opened the door, and stood up.
Stay away from the water.
His father's warning rang clear in his mind and he frowned, conflicted between the order and his own curiosity. Something big had disturbed the water. Even now, moments later, water still flicked noisily against the stones.
Indecisive for only a moment, the young hunter spun around and grabbed the walkie-talkie with one hand as the other still held the crossbow loosely against his side. Closing the door with his foot, Sam kept a sharp eye on the lake looking for any darker spots or other tell tale signs of what might have caused the splash. Absently he thumbed the small communicator switch on the side of the hand-held, ready to call his father… but the black water was deceptively placid again. It unsettled him as his instincts screamed something wasn't right.
And then Sam heard something – right behind him!
Whirling around, the cross-bow was up and ready before it even registered that it was another kid, around his age.
"Whoa!" Instantly the other boy's arms were up and he stepped back. Wide eyes in a pale face, framed by a startling mat of black hair, stared in shock from behind thick rimmed glasses. "Holy shit!"
Sam lowered the weapon back to his side, willing his adrenaline pounding heart to calm down. "Sorry," he offered rather lamely. "You scared me."
The kid looked at the crossbow and raised an eyebrow in disbelief. This time Sam only shrugged. What could he say? It was all in how he was raised. "What are you doing out here?" he asked instead.
"I could ask you the same thing," the other teen snorted. "I live around here – can't say the same thing about you though."
"Just passing through-" The sound of another splash interrupted and this time Sam caught the merest glimpse of something large and black. The walkie-talkie was already at his lips when the sound of a click made him freeze.
Turning slowly towards the stranger, Sam felt all the blood drain out of his face as he stared into the business end of a pistol. The kid had pulled a gun on him. He had one thought, Oh shit.
Reconnaissance was a necessary evil. Definitely not Dean's favorite part of the hunt – no, that was the actual killing part – it was still perhaps one of the most important things that had to be done. Next to the killing, of course.
So as the young man followed his father through the dense brush surrounding the large lake, he tried to keep his mind on the task at hand: - try to determine what was making people go missing - but was failing miserably.
Maybe because he was a bit more worried about leaving his recovering sibling behind, unprotected at the car, than he was willing to admit. Or maybe because he really hated trees. At this point, it was a toss up. But whatever the reason, Dean found his thoughts straying back the way they came instead of surging forward with his father. Which is probably why he ran smack dab into his father's back less than twenty minutes after they'd left Sam.
His father tossed a glare over his shoulder as Dean sheepishly pulled back and made a show of kicking at the ground, as if he'd just stumbled over something. Yeah, as if John Winchester would accept that any better than the idea of his son being distracted on a hunt. But as usual, the older man just knew.
"Who?" Dean played dumb but didn't miss the eye roll before his father was moving again.
"C'mon, Lefty, we still have ten minutes until check-in time."
Blushing, the younger man fell back in place, at his father's back. "I wasn't worried," he argued, careful to keep his words only whisper loud, knowing the other man would have no trouble hearing him.
"Of course not," John placated and Dean's cheeks turned even brighter red.
"I wasn't," he mumbled petulantly.
"Good." His father was being extremely agreeable.
"Can we talk about something else?"
"Sure. I hear Bloomingdale's is having a sale-"
"Dad!" Dean's indignant cry was cut off when the walkie-talkie chirped. The two men exchanged a glance – Sam was checking in early?
Sam kept his finger pressed on the talk button. "You don't want to do this-" he started but one threatening motion with the weapon had him shutting up.
He hesitated a mere moment, hoping it had been enough to alert his family.
"I won't ask again," the gunman threatened and this time Sam moved to comply. "And the bow," the kid hissed, his twitchiness making this situation even more dangerous. Sam couldn't risk doing something to set the guy off. He just had to stall. "Now, move it." The other kid motioned with the gun again and it took a moment for the young Winchester to realize he was supposed to move backwards towards the water. He balked.
"There's something in the lake."
The kid didn't even flinch. "Move."
"No, I mean it," Sam urged. "There's something big – I don't know what but it made a big splash-"
A warning shot spit up rocks at Sam's feet. Startled, he jumped back. "Hey!"
"I. Said. Move." The gun was leveled on his chest and the young hunter knew that the other teen's next shot would not be so generous.
"Okay, okay," he grumbled, slowly backing towards the lake, his hands held up in supplication. "What's your problem, man? Did I do something to piss you off? Just tell me and I won't do it again." Sam's heart pounded loudly in his chest. His father hadn't taught him how to handle something like this. The things they hunted didn't carry guns.
The edge of the lake loomed closer with each tentative step.
C'mon, Dad… Dean…
The guy followed, keeping the distance between them. "It's not personal."
"Not personal?" Sam scoffed. "You're threatening me with a gun. It don't get much more personal than that!"
The water licked the back of his sneakers. Oh shit. He stopped, his hands flexed nervously.
"If it means anything," the stranger offered. "I am sorry."
And then something huge loomed out of the water behind Sam. Spinning quickly, he stumbled backwards as the monstrous snake-like creature struck, barely missing when he went down on his behind, hard, "Holy shit!"
Scrambling back to his feet, Sam dodged the next attack, his eyes wide with disbelief. It looked like an anaconda, black and scaly, but he'd never heard of one this size. It had to be at least 25 feet long! With chilling comprehension, Sam suddenly understood what had happened to the missing people – what his father was hunting. This.
"RUN!" the young hunter yelled at the other kid as he dived for the walkie-talkie, frantically trying to think if there was anything in the Impala to help and not willing to see the other kid become lunch, even if the guy had been willing to shoot Sam mere moments ago. His father raised them better than that.
But apparently the other kid's father hadn't.
Again the gun fired.
This time the bullet didn't miss and as Sam was staggered by the pain that burned across his side, the large snake struck, burying its fangs deep into his shoulder and quickly starting to coil itself around the struggling hunter.
"NO!" Sam yelled, his eyes locked on the other kid. "Please!" But the shooter just watched impassively.
Fighting hard, Sam tried to escape the growing constriction but the reptile was heavy and held him in a vice-like grip, continually coiling around him until he was completely covered in the undulating mass. Quickly weakening, Sam panicked and started to scream.
To be continued...