A/N: This is set in Season 3 between the episodes 'Fresh Blood' and 'A Very Supernatural Christmas'. This fic is dedicated to Jenilee, for whose prompt this story came from. I hope you enjoy it Jenilee! At the end of the story, I'll post what the 'prompt' was. :p Let it be noted that there will be cursing and swearing in this story, so you have been warned. Also, a giant thank you to my beta Bayre for all her hard work. I seriously put her through the ringer with this one. Thanks again! :D
Disclaimer: I do not own the Winchester boys - Kripke does. What a lucky guy.
The water swept towards the beach, swallowing the young man's footprints as he made his way to the dock. The icy cold waters lapping against the wooden planks were the only sounds that could be heard as the young man crept forwards toward the end of the platform. Looking out, he saw the full moon, just coming out from behind clouds, engulfing the waters in its haunting glow. The wind blew along the waters, causing him to zip up his jacket just a little higher. It was the middle of the night, but having had difficulties sleeping as of late, he decided to take a walk along the lake's vast shoreline. He had left his parents a quick note, "Gone for a walk. Be home soon. Travis." Just in case he wasn't back before they woke up.
Sighing, Travis made his way back towards the beach, his dark curly hair blowing in the icy wind. As he stepped off the dock, a strong wind blew past him, causing him to turn to his head to the right to stop the sand from blowing into his eyes. It was then he noticed a young woman walking on the shoreline, the moonlight glistening off of her beautiful figure. Her curly light brown hair swirled around her face as the wind swept by. Her features finished off with her knee-length ebony dress. Entranced, he called out to her, only to hear the wailing of the winds rush past his ears.
Wondering why a woman would be out here in a dress no less at this time of night, he took off towards her, her features ingrained within his mind. The moon fell behind the clouds and Travis was forced to squint in the dim light in order to see, with only the wind racing along the beach and the waves smashing into the sand to comfort him. The moon's rays once again peaked out from behind the clouds and he could see fully again. The woman was nowhere to be found.
"Wha? Where did she go?" Scanning the beach, his eyes fell on the woman again. This time she stationed herself on the end of the wharf, her dress fluttering in the wind. Determined to place a name to this woman, he made his way back towards the pier. He had only set one foot on the dock when he saw the woman fall into the water.
"No!" He ran the length of the dock, the planks creaking under his added weight. He tossed his jacket at the edge of the dock and dived into the water. The lake was ice cold, and he couldn't help but cry out as the water engulfed him. He broke the surface of the water, gasping for the air that had been stolen from him by the chilled lake. He continued to scan the area, calling out to the woman in the hope of hearing a reply. The only noise was the wind above his head.
He was about to go towards the dock and get help, when he felt something nudge the back of his leg. Twisting around and pushing leaves and debris out of the way, he couldn't see what had bumped him. Treading water, he scanned the area around him again. Still, there was nothing but the winds blowing cold gusts across the lake, chilling his already frozen face.
With no sight of the mysterious girl, Travis was about to move towards the dock again, when he felt a pressure around his ankles and was suddenly being pulled under the water.
Panicking, the young man tried to free himself by kicking and flailing, anything he could do to try and loosen that iron grip that seemed to intensify. Travis felt something slither up his legs and back, almost in a caressing manner before spinning around to find its source. In that moment his eyes met with the woman he had seen earlier. Even in the dark, those dead eyes bored into his own. Her once beautiful appearance gave way to decaying features. Her face was pale, her skin peeling and frayed around the edges. A rotten and bony hand reached out, gripping the side of his face in an eerie, calming manner. He screamed, tiny bubbles erupting from his mouth as he pushed away from the dead girl, freeing himself from her grasp, and began clawing his way back up through the murky water. Reaching the surface, he inhaled sharply, drawing oxygen into his starved lungs.
He made a frenzied dash towards the dock, his legs kicking as hard as they could go, while his arms propelled him swiftly through the water. His breath came out in heavy pants, his lungs working at full capacity with each inhale, adrenaline pulsating through his veins. His hand barely touched the wharf when he was pulled under once again. He screamed just before he sank below the surface, a calming voice reaching his ears as he slowly drifted into the dark depths of the lake.
"We're going home."
And the winds died down to a slight breeze, skimming the waters surface as it made its way on land. The moon stood out brightly against the night sky, reflecting against the eerily calm waters as the lake returned to its deceitful tranquility.
A silhouette appeared on the lake's beach, jutting out from behind the trees. A stern looking man in his early thirties gazed out onto the lake, watching as the youth screamed out by the docks, only to be pulled underwater for the second time, never again reaching the surface. Taking one last puff from his cigarette, he tossed it onto the ground, crushing it underneath his heavy boot. Still scanning the lake, the man smiled to himself. He had everything he needed now. "Let it begin."
Dean sat comfortably in the large booth, drinking the black coffee the cute and perky Lydia had placed in front of him. Both he and Sam decided to stop for lunch before ditching town and moving on.
"So tell me again, what exactly is it that makes you think this is our kind of job?"
Sam looked up from the computer, raising a brow at his brother's apparent lack of memory. "Travis Moralzin, twenty-one, went missing three days ago from his home. They found his body two days later, washed up on shore. Cause of death was drowning."
Dean swallowed the bitter coffee and set the cup back down on the table.
"Well, when someone washes up on shore more often than not, Sammy, they died from drowning." Dean couldn't help but smirk as he caught Sam glaring at him from the corner of his eye. He couldn't help pestering the kid.
"So again, why is this our kind of gig? Sounds like your average drowning to me, Sam." Dean asked casually, pulling his attention from Lydia's curvy features and focused his attention back on his still scowling brother. Sam sighed, and turned the laptop around so Dean could see it.
"This Travis guy was on the university swimming team. He won a dozen medals over the years for it. The guy knows how to swim. Besides, it's nearing the end of November. No one in their right mind would go swimming this time of year. And get this." Sam clicked on a new link and brought up some more articles.
"He's not the first to drown either. Five others have drowned in the last six months. All at night and all within the same four mile stretch of beach front. All the victims have been male, and all had the same markings along their bodies." Sam quickly shut the laptop as their food appeared in front of them. They ate in silence for a few minutes before the waitress appeared and poured them each a fresh cup of coffee.
"It looks like handprints, causing extensive bruising and damage to the underlying tissues." Sam muttered quietly as the waitress walked away. Dean swallowed a mouthful of burger before adding to the conversation.
"So the guys got a little frisky with a ghostie before they went under." Dean quipped before he took a sip of his coffee. He waited, and was not disappointed when Sam rolled his eyes at his latest comment. Chuckling, Dean swallowed the last of his drink before getting up from the booth. "Well let's not keep Casper waiting. If we haul ass we can get there in less than eight hours."
Sam sighed, and held the laptop under his arm as he stood up from the booth. "With your driving, we'll make it in under seven."
Dean merely smirked, and went to the front to pay for their meal, casually flirting with the waitress.
Sam watched the scene for a moment and shook his head, pushed the diner door open and listened as the small bell clanged behind him as he made his way towards the Impala, chuckling as he thought about what title Dean was going to give himself this time. Up and coming rock star, newly graduated doctor from Harvard, or Sam's personal favourite, a television writer working on his latest script. These girls would eat up this crap faster than Dean could shovel it out. Sam marvelled at times at how good his brother could con people into believing whatever it was he was telling them.
Still chuckling, Sam opened the passenger door and got in, slamming the door behind him and waited for his brother to finish "dazzling the darling's and improving their bleak and boring day" as Dean called it. Sam couldn't stop snickering as he thought about his brother's self imposed title, even as Dean opened the door and got in; giving him a quizzical look, before the Impala roared to life and headed straight out of town in a plume of dust and rock and roll.
It was well into the evening before the Impala's engine rumbled inside the small town of Lebrant, Michigan. Dean spied a small motel just off the main street and smoothly guided the Impala onto the small street and into the parking lot. Parking and shutting the car off, Dean glanced over at the car's other occupant. Sam was sound asleep, his breaths leaving a light mist on the window as his body leaned against the passenger door. Dean was loathed to wake him, seeing as this was probably the most sleep Sam had gotten in the last few days. Dean had woken up every night this past week to the sound of keys clicking away on the laptop, the computer screen's glow accentuating his brother's paling and tired features. Dean knew Sam was researching ways to break his deal, working himself ragged and it was something that he both loved and hated about his brother.
When Sam began to stir, his decision to wake his brother or not was forfeited, so he left the car to get them a room, leaving his brother a few minutes to properly wake up. He returned a few minutes later, pocketing two sets of keys before depositing himself in the Impala.
"We're around the back, room twelve," he added when Sam didn't speak up. Dean moved the Impala around back and parked the car in front of their room. Dean glanced at Sam, watching as he shifted in his seat and rubbed his eyes with one hand, as if trying to fend off an impending headache. "Headache?" Dean asked as they got out of the car and pulled their duffels from the backseat.
"Hm? No, just a little tired." Sam answered quietly, throwing his duffel over one shoulder and closed the car door and followed Dean into their room. Closing the door behind him, Sam dropped his bag on the bed farthest from the door, and watched as Dean grabbed some clean clothes from his duffel and walked into the bathroom and closed the door. Sam kicked off his shoes and lay down on his bed, his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling as he heard the shower being turned on.
Sam felt exhausted; the lack of sleep draining his reserves down to mere flickers of energy. When they weren't in the middle of a hunt, Sam spent his nights researching leads for ways to break Dean's deal, trying to keep his brother from finding out or trying to interrupt, while using every bit of research knowledge he possessed and then some. Bobby tried to help when he could, but even he hadn't found anything of use.
Sam sighed and rubbed his eyes uselessly trying to rub the weariness away. He just wanted a few more minutes to rest, then he would start up the laptop and get to work on their hunt and look up a few more leads on Dean's deal. Closing his eyes, Sam waited for Dean to finish up in the bathroom so he could have a quick shower and brush his teeth before starting his research. Any minute now….
Dean opened the bathroom door and flicked off the light as he walked back towards the bed. Casting a glance at his brother, Dean couldn't help but smirk as Sam's soft snores reached his ears. The kid had dozed off, and Dean felt grateful. Sam had been working himself to the bone, both day and night and the dark smudges under his eyes were getting harder and harder to ignore. Even when Dean broached the subject of Sam's health, Sam shrugged it off and gave the patented Winchester, "I'm fine" answer, even when his body plainly said otherwise.
Not wanting to jostle his brother and wake him up by trying to pull the blankets up, Dean quickly slipped on his jeans and went out to the Impala, returning a few minutes later, quietly closing the door and covering his brother in the dark brown blanket from the back seat of the car. Sam stirred from Dean's ministrations, but didn't wake. Sitting on his own bed, Dean pulled off his jeans and crawled under the covers, flicking off the light on the nightstand as he tried to get comfortable.
"Night Sammy." Dean muttered quietly before adjusting the pillow under his head and closing his eyes, listening to Sam's soft snores from the other bed. A few minutes later and Dean was enjoying the company of a frisky blonde walking along the shore lines on some unnamed beach.
Opening the motel door and kicking it closed, Dean placed their breakfast on the table. He heard the shower turn off and began taking the packages out of the bag. A few minutes later Sam emerged from the bathroom, moving towards his duffel and pushing the old clothes to the bottom of the bag, before making his way to the small table and easing himself into the other chair.
"Bacon and eggs and sausages. A hearty meal for a man as fine as myself."
Sam snorted and rolled his eyes at the comment, but decided to dig into some food instead of engaging in a useless argument with Dean in a futile effort to humble his brother.
"So we should go and talk to the family first, find out if they saw or heard anything the night Travis disappeared, anything they may have forgotten to mention to the police."
Sam nodded his head in-between mouthfuls of scrambled eggs, before swallowing and adding, "And ask the neighbours if they saw anything else as well. Talk to his friends; see if something strange was going on with the guy before he died."
"Yep." Dean acknowledged before gulping down the last of his coffee. "I'll let you take the hormonal teenagers while I talk to the neighbours. Sounds fair right?" Dean smirked as Sam just shook his head and ate silently.
"Well if you're all done Chewie, let's hit the road. The day's a wasting." Dean was already up and tossing the empty containers in the garbage, while Sam just stared incredulously at his brother.
"Chewie? Dude, you were watching Star Wars again, weren't you?" Sam amended as he grabbed his coat and moved towards the door. Dean shrugged, throwing his leather jacket on before grabbing the keys.
"They had a Star Warsspecial on TV the other night. It's not my fault you and the Wookiee are distant relatives of the Sasquatch. Besides, with the Impala like the Millennium Falcon, but so totally cooler, and me like Han Solo, but way more awesome that leaves you the giant fur ball. So move it, before I leave your Wookiee ass here."
Sam was left standing at the doorway as Dean opened the driver's side door and got in. Chuckling, Sam closed the motel door and got into the passenger seat, and glanced at his brother. God, his brother was such a dork sometimes.
Dean cranked the mullet rock full blast and pulled out of the parking lot, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in time with the beat of the song as they took off with the sound of screeching tires and the Impala's impressive roar.
Spending two hours trying to get information from the grieving family was like pulling out teeth for Dean. Even Sam's natural ability to have people open up and practically eat out of his hand hadn't gotten them anywhere. The family hadn't seen or heard anything, hadn't noticed anything outside of the ordinary. Dean even used the EMF inside the house, wondering if any supernatural nasty had lured him outside. Nothing. No cold spots, no sulphur scents, nothing.
After saying a quick goodbye, the boys left and walked down the porch steps and made their way back to the Impala.
"Well, we learned absolutely nothing other than Mrs. Moralzin has a pink kitchen that needs to be salted and burned. Bloody thing's a monstrosity." Dean grumbled as he unlocked the door and slid into his seat and closed the door, before unlocking Sam's door.
Sam sat down and slammed the door shut, ignoring the comment and began making mental notes about the information, albeit small, that they had gathered from the family.
"We need to talk with his friends. They might know something the family doesn't. Anyone he might have had a fight with, anyone who would want to harm him. Ask if he had been acting strangely the last few days before his death."
Dean nodded his head in agreement as he made his way back to town. "Well I'll let you tackle that, while I chat up the neighbours. But first things first; we find someplace to eat. I'm starved!"
Dean sat near the window, waiting for his coffee to arrive. Sam had taken off to the washroom, leaving Dean to deal with the cranky, snotty waitress, who couldn't crack a smile to save her life. Drumming his fingers on the table impatiently, Dean caught the tail end of a conversation behind him and recognition of one of the voices struck him like a sledgehammer. Dean stood up quietly and moved towards the two voices at the farthest table at the back of the diner. The younger man was standing at the table, talking to an elderly man who was sitting in the booth, both laughing at some unknown joke. Dean's first assumption was clear as he stared at the younger of the two men.
"Declan?" Dean's voice was a mixture of surprise and uncertainty. The young man's head turned towards Dean, and a small smile bore across his face.
"Dean! Quite a surprise to see you around these parts." Declan shook hands with the elder Winchester and gestured goodbye to the older gentlemen before following Dean back towards his table. Dean took a moment to study the former hunter in front of him. Declan was just three years older than he was, and topped him in height by just over an inch. The man was well built, his bulk covered by blue jeans and a black field gear jacket. His hair was similar to Dean's, except for being completely blonde, and his eyes bore a steel-blue grey appearance.
"So what brings you around here, Dean? Last I heard, you were tackling a double poltergeist infestation in Louisiana." Declan asked as he sat down in the opposite booth facing Dean. Dean raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment about how he knew where he and Sam had been a week prior, but decided to keep that to himself for the time being.
"Yeah we took care of that, no worries. Poltergeists got a little pissed off about being sent off to the abyss, but nothing we couldn't handle. As for being here, I'm surprised you haven't caught wind of it. Five kids drowning in the last six months? All male? Bruises in the shape of handprints on all of them. Got the signs of a spirit stirring things up. Losing your touch man." Dean joked, but had a slight edge to his tone. For a split second, Declan's eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched tight to the point of chipping teeth, but in another instant his features relaxed, and Dean wondered if he had seen anything at all.
"What can I say man, it's not my gig anymore. I don't look for signs or disappearances. Don't even watch the news." Declan chuckled, waving his hand as if dismissing some impotent being.
"So what are you doing here? Thought you'd be in the big cities, hitting the casinos and what not. Don't really see you as being a good ol' local boy, ya know?"
Declan laughed, rubbing a hand against his forehead and down the side of his face. "Got a cousin who has car issues living 'round here. Was in the area so I thought I'd offer him a hand."
Dean nodded soberly, not sure what to make of the man before him. A shadow loomed over the table and Dean looked up to see Sam looking at him expectantly. "Sam, this is Declan. A hunter Dad and I hunted with a few years back." Dean gestured towards Declan, who stood up, and shook hands with Sam before moving out of the booth.
"Ah, so you're the little brother I've heard about."
Sam moved passed him and sat down in his vacated spot. "All good things I hope." Sam quipped back, while casting a quick glance at Dean.
Dean gave a quick smirk in Sam's direction, and returned his attention to Declan who was clearing his throat.
"I'm sorry to hear about your Dad's passing, I truly am. He was a good man. Look I gotta book man, my cousin's going to chew me a new one if I don't get those spare parts that he asked for. I'll catch ya later Dean. Nice meeting you Sam. If you guys need help, you can find me at the auto shop down on Faller Avenue. See ya around." With that, Declan turned around and made his way towards the door, letting it swing shut as he left the diner.
"So, an old hunting buddy of yours?" Sam asked, casting a wary eye on his brother. Sam had watched the exchange between his brother and Declan, and if Dean's shoulders being so tight that they had locked in place hadn't been a giveaway of his brother's obvious anxiety, then it was how Dean kept his right hand close to his left jacket pocket, where he kept his .45. Something had gone down, whether it was back then or just now, and Sam wanted to know what was making his brother so nervous.
"Just someone Dad and I hunted with once or twice while you were at school Sam, no big deal."
Sam raise a brow, with a look that clearly said, yeah it is a big deal you moron but Dean didn't elaborate.
"Drop it Sam." Dean grumbled when Sam was about to protest. Another glare sent his way and Sam held up his hands in mock surrender.
When their meals arrived, they ate in silence, each one focusing and thinking about something else. For once, Sam had actually finished his food before Dean, that in itself a testament to how preoccupied Dean was. Dean was busy stirring his food around his plate, his chin resting against the palm of his left hand. Sam mumbled something about paying their bill and quietly left the table, leaving Dean to his own thoughts, which brought him back to the events that lead to his first and only encounter with Declan.
Cedar Falls, Iowa, June, 2004.
Dean pulled the Impala alongside his Dad's truck, outside a small rundown shack that had seen better days. John hadn't mentioned why they were going here, other than a quick mention that it was a 'hunt' and they were meeting up with two other hunters to take it out. Dean then helped pack up their gear and was out the door twenty minutes later, driving behind his Dad, the mullet rock blaring out of the stereo.
Sitting in his seat, he turned the keys and the engine cut off, leaving Dean to feel the humid air blowing against his face from the open window. Dean had kept his questions to himself, even though he wanted to voice his opinions if only for the sake of giving Sam a voice that he no longer had in this family. It had been only a year since he'd last seen or heard from his brother, the bitter blow out between John and Sam driving his brother out the door without a glance back. Dean was still angry with his father for resorting to using the ultimatum in the first place and angry with his brother for being so stubborn and bull headed to take the challenge and leave. Dean had barely said anything to his brother as he packed his bags and walked out the door. Dean wished he had now.
Snapping out of his thoughts, Dean pulled himself out of the car and pushed open the peeling and cracked door and walked inside with his Dad, landing themselves smack into the kitchen. Two young hunters sat at the small wooden table, hutched over a bunch of papers and news clippings, not bothering to look up to acknowledge the newcomers. Dean glanced at his father, and watched as John dropped his duffle on the damaged laminate flooring, and made his way over towards the other hunters. The eldest of the two looked up, his grey eyes lighting up and a grin appeared on his face as he stood up and shook John's hand, and motioned for him to sit down, completely ignoring Dean, who just watched the exchange silently, as a predator did when seizing up a possible meal.
"John Winchester, it certainly is a pleasure to meet you. I've heard tales about your hunting adventures. Quite impressive. The name's Declan, and this is Blake." He nodded his head in Blake's direction. The younger one just grunted in acknowledgement, and went back to focusing on the papers in front of him. Dean was reminded suddenly of a Sam in full geek mode, pouring over manuscripts and articles as if trying to solve an intricate puzzle, while at times ignoring the world around him as he got engrossed by the research that Dean found bothersome and time consuming. It made the loss all the harder to swallow at that moment.
Declan and his Dad conversed back and forth about the hunt, while Dean sat down in the worn down leather seated chair at the end of the table and drummed his fingers impatiently on the kitchen table, while trying to read the papers Blake clutched in his left hand. Blake was busy with the papers, checking and rechecking dates and times, his light blue eyes scanning the pages at a ridiculous pace, to the point it made Dean nauseous.
"Dude, find someone else to annoy." Blake muttered as he shifted the papers in his hands and stood up from the table and went over to the corner of the living room and started typing away on the computer. Dean snorted but held his tongue. He pushed the chair back far enough so he could place his feet on the table and hands behind his head. Declan glared at him out of the corner of his eye and Dean merely grinned wolfishly in reply, daring the obnoxious man to do something about it. Declan chatted for a few more minutes before leaving the table and walking over to where Blake had situated himself at the computer.
"You almost done here? I'd like to get there sometime today." Declan questioned the younger man. Dean couldn't tell what was said in return, but the computer switched off and Blake moved towards the couch, grabbing his jacket and moving passed John and Dean without a word. John was up and going through his duffel bag and grabbing supplies that would be needed for the hunt. Sighing, Dean stood up and stretched, listening to his back pop and his shoulders crack as he got the knots and kinks out of his body. John had already walked outside, the screen door banging against the door frame. Dean made for the door, when he was shouldered to the side by Declan. He stood there, with a reproachful look on his face, while Dean glared back with darkened eyes.
"Look kid, you better not screw up this hunt. I know your old man can hunt with the best of them, but you, you're just green behind the ears, regardless of what the old man may say. Stay out of the way and we won't have any problems." Declan patted Dean on the shoulder before opening the door. "Wouldn't want any accidents, would we?"
Dean growled, and moved to deck the cocky ass-wipe in the face, when his father's stern voice called him over by the Impala. Shooting daggers at the other man's back, Dean walked down the steps and went over to the trunk of the car. "Dad?"
"Dean, I know this may be hard for you, but watch what you say around them and to them. I know you, and you're liable to spit as much venom as they do. They're going to be finishing the hunt with us, so ignore them and we can take off as soon as the hunt is finished." At Dean's incredulous look, John sighed and shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the car.
"Look, we're doing this as a favour to Jim, so we finish this then we're out of here. They're cocky little bastards, but they are good hunters, Dean. We don't need a big production out of this. So try not to pick a fight, okay?"
Dean blew out a breath and shifted his feet, switching weight from one foot to the other. After a moment, he nodded his head and muttered a "yes sir" without meeting John's gaze.
John raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. He clapped his calloused hand on Dean's shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze before making his way over to his truck and climbing into the driver's seat. Dean stood by the driver's side door, watching as his Dad pulled out first down the road, followed by Declan who drove past in his '92 red Ford pickup, kicking back dirt in Dean's direction as he took off down the gravel driveway. The air was heavy with dust, and through it all, Dean stood still, wondering how the hunt would lay itself out. He had no doubt in his mind that blood would be spilt, but the question remained. Whose blood?
"…Dean… Dean!" Dean jumped in his seat and found his brother's slightly concerned face looking down at him. "Dude, you were a mile away. You alright?"
"I'm fine, Sam. Just got stuff on my mind. You want to finish talking to the neighbours and friends before calling it a day?" Dean pulled himself out of the booth and playfully shoved his brother ahead of him towards the door. With Declan in the area, he wanted this hunt over with fast, and then get them both the hell out of Dodge.
A/N: Next chapter will delve deeper into Dean's past, while both he and Sam try to solve their ghostie problem here in the present. More action to come! Please R&R. It's always appreciated.