He's wandering through a maze, in the dark. One hand stretched in front of him and the other gripping the wall for dear life as he makes his way through the cavern. He can't remember how he got there, but he knows it is somewhere deep, deep underground, and it has something to do with
Someone he loves a lot.
He pushes his foot tentatively forward, feeling along the floor for traps. It wouldn't be the first time he's stepped on one. His foot touches what might be a loose stone, and his toes, covered in steel and leather, poke under it, trying to see if it's really loose, or just another trap. His boot fits, meaning that it's safe to step on, which he does, slowly. He exhales as his weight settles on his foot. He never really knows if one of the stones is trapped until he tries it.
He really hopes he's going further out of the labyrinth, instead of deeper in.
Sometimes Dean really fucking hates dreams. Well not sometimes, all the time. Normal people get wet dreams, or conversations with inanimate objects. Not Dean Winchester. Dean has nightmares about underground mazes and being tortured and (this one scares him more than the others) having the same fight over and over where he always, always, punches whoever he's fighting with, even though it makes him feel like part of his soul is dying.
He's wrenched out of his current dream (the underground maze) by the sound of his own voice yelling "Dude! Wake up!"
See, his friend is kind of a genius when it comes to electronics, so when he offered Dean a mutant alarm clock that was fused with a voice recorder, Dean didn't say no. Now he's starting to reconsider it though, because while the idea was cool at first, the alarm's starting to piss him off. Maybe he'll record it over with AC/DC or something.
Dean hits the button, stopping his voice mid-shout. He wants to just roll over and fall back asleep, after downing enough Nyquil to make his dreams fuzzier, but he has to get up and go to work.
It shouldn't be a new concept for someone in his thirties, but Dean has some issues with doing normal things. Namely; they're boring.
He could be a cowboy. He thinks that would work for him.
It's pretty easy to picture, actually. Dean would ride into town on a jet black horse, beat up the bad guys, get with the girl, and be gone by morning. He'd even have a trusty sidekick. Probably a girl, and even though spandex uniforms and cowboys don't quite mix, he's sure he would be able to convince her to wear one anyway.
Perfect fantasy aside, it's time for him to go to his actual job. He goes to his closet and throws on the first thing he can find, a black Metalica shirt and old jeans. They're just going to make him change when he gets there anyway. On his wrist he slides an old leather bracelet, a braided loop, and puts a silver ring on his opposite hand. Jewelry, but still badass.
Dean pauses in front of his dresser, strewn with coins and other small objects. After a second, he picks out a heavy gold colored medallion shaped like a monster's head. Fugly thing. He should just get rid of it.
He slips the cord around his neck, and the monster's head hangs over his breastbone.
Dean's convinced he's too fit for his job. He has a six pack, and works in a candy store. There's definitely something wrong there. Although, with all the 'employee benefits' he reaps from it, he's not really sure how his looks are going to go. Will he get fat? Will his teeth rot out? Will he become the pizza faced wonder? Any or all of the above.
Admittedly working in a candy store is a little awesome, seeing as he gets to spend all day at the only store in the mall that plays hair metal, albeit quietly, and his clothes smell like Gummi Worms. But his co-worker is insane.
Dani, her name is, and she's quite possibly the most annoyingly cheerful person Dean has ever met. She actually likes spending five hours a day in the mall wearing a yellow and orange striped shirt with matching apron. Sometimes, she even shows up with shorts and matching tights. Her hair is always in these platinum pigtails that remind Dean of the tufts of hair on poodles ears, and she wears a different candy necklace every day, even though they usually stain the back of her neck with little splotches of colored sugar.
When they first met, Dean had the sneaking suspicion that she wasn't human, so he gave her a chocolate gecko with it's back legs broken off, so it kind of looked like a cross. Dani ate it without bursting into flame, so she's probably just sugar high all the time. Or stoned.
Right now Dean's hiding behind the counter, taking his union mandated (or at least that's what he tells his boss) break and eating chalky candy cigarettes, because those things wouldn't be more addictive if actual nicotine were added to them.
Some guy comes in, a creeper in a trenchcoat, and walks right up to the front counter.
"Hello, sir!" Dani says cheerfully. He ignores her. Actually he's ignoring petty much everything, except Dean. And he's seen random women come into the store to hit on him, but never a guy. Dean's a little flattered and a lot freaked out, so he decides to turf the creeper off on Dani.
"Sorry, dude. I'm on break." Dean says, crunching candy between his teeth. The guy seems to be having a bit of trouble understanding him, and cocks his head to the side. Dean doesn't think he even speaks English until he opens his mouth.
"What are you doing here, Dean?" Holy shit, the creeper knows his name. Dean's eyes widen, and Dani says, "friend of yours, Dean?"
"No." Dean's about this close to having a panic attack before he remembers that he's wearing a nametag that says, in bright red block letters, Hello! My name is Dean. Just…the guy said his name in such a familiar way, like he already knew it, like they didn't just meet.
Not that a stranger saying his name constitutes as meeting someone.
"Sir." Dani says, firmer this time, "Dean's on his break right now, but I can help you over here." The man continues to stare at Dean, not even acknowledging Dani. And Dean's staring right back, not about to be intimidated by some random person that wants to get into a staring contest.
He wonders what the guy's name is. Probably something out of the ordinary. There's no reason for Dean to think that, other than the fact that he doesn't look like a Bob or a John. Maybe a Casey. Or Chris.
"You don't remember." Maybe-Casey says, and it's more of a statement than a question.
"Remember what?" Dean asks. And he must've blinked or something, because the guy's right in front of him without seeming to have moved at all. Maybe-Casey reaches out with one hand, quicker than Dean can react, but not to fast for him to see. Dean's expecting a punch, wondering what the hell he did to deserve it, but instead the man just taps his forehead with his first two fingers. They're cold.
Dean's bracing himself for something with a bit more impact, so he's a bit confused that he's being poked. By a full grown man, no less.
Maybe-Casey's brow furrows, like he's surprised, and not in a good way, that Dean's not really any different than before he was tapped.
"Uh, dude." Dean says after a few seconds of incredibly awkward silence. "What are you doing?" The man just stares at him, with that confused and not quite angry look, until a group of teenagers walk in, making Dean turn his head for a split second. When he looks back, Maybe-Casey is gone.
Weird. That dude's fast.
Dean goes to his boss to ask if forehead molestation is a viable reason to take the rest of the day off.
In the maze, Dean steps on a false stone. It depresses, making him sink forward. Whoever designed the labyrinth must've watched too many India Jones movies. Dean's expecting arrows or spears or some shit to fly out from the walls, so he's not prepared when he moves back and a spike comes out of the ground and pierces clean through his thigh.
Dean wakes before his alarm, clutching his leg. He can still feel a bit of phantom pain from the dream, but it's fading. He rolls over onto his back, slowly, so as not to disturb his leg. It gives one last twinge of pain before stopping entirely. Like it's healed over.
The thought makes him shudder.
Back at work again, Dean's only truly awake after eating about five pounds of M&Ms, though now he might just throw up. He grabs a cherry sucker to balance out the effect. Eric, the nerd friend who made his alarm clock, comes over on his break to hang out with Dean.
Of course, he's heard about the creeper who forehead molested him yesterday. It had traveled around the mall, from Dani to Jeff, the coffee shop guy, to Amy, the Abercrombie and Fitch stock girl, to Eric, who'd sent massive strings of emails out to everyone who had ever come into contact with Dean.
"I heard the guy had a gun." Eric states, looking more exited at that prospect then Dean appreciates.
"There was no gun."
"Are you sure, 'cause I think you could've taken that guy if there wasn't a gun."
"It wasn't even a fight."
"Are you sure, 'cause I heard there was a fight." The conversation pretty much rotates around that point. Dean finally boots Eric out by telling him that his head hurts, and Eric scurries off to tell everyone that he has a concussion or something.
During his lunch hour, Dean stays in the stock room, munching on candy and making a tower out of candy legos (the best invention known to mankind) in order to stop himself from dying of boredom. For some reason, he just feels twitchy.
It may have something to do with the ridiculous amount of sugar he ingests on a daily basis (honestly, he must have the metabolism of a hummingbird), but he really doesn't think so.
He thinks it might have a bit more to do with that guy who's name might have been Casey. Actually, Dean isn't thinking it's Casey any more, but it's close. The name has to start with a 'C', he's sure of that much. His gut tells him so, and he trusts his gut.
"Where is he?" Asks a voice from just outside the door, and Dean immediately stops chewing on whatever sugary thing is in his mouth, in case the crunching sounds alert Eric to his location.
"Food court." says Dani, but not in her normal, perky Dani voice. This voice is more tired, cynical. Older.
"Good." says Eric, the cheer slipping out of his tone too. And Dean probably shouldn't be spying on his friends like this, but it feels like he needs to. Some deep, gut instinct is telling him to stay put and listen, so he does just that. "The angels were here again."
"Damn them." Dani growls, and Dean wants to laugh, because he has never heard so much as a 'hell' come out of her mouth. "Are the barriers holding?"
"Yes, sir." Eric says respectfully, like he's in the army and Dani is just above him on the food chain.
"Then they aren't a problem, as long as Dean stays inside." What? What does he have to do with this?
"But…" Eric stammers.
"What?" Dani hisses, and Dean almost feels sorry for Eric. Almost.
"They are sending…the Boy King." Dean can feel the temperature drop as Dani's mood turns homicidal.
"Then we kill him."
Dean's not sure if she's talking about him or this king guy, but he's kind of hoping for the latter.
After a bit of thought, Dean decides that he'd much rather deal with 'angels' then two crazies pretending to be his friends. So he sneaks out of the supply closet, pockets loaded down with everything from little bags of cotton candy to Snickers bars, and exits the building through a back hallway normally reserved for custodians.
A brisk wind blows through the parking lot, making Dean shiver and wish he had changed out of his thin uniform before he left. No matter, he still has everything important on him. His wallet, keys, and fugly monster head on a string.
Dean heads for his car, a rusty old blue bucket. He wants a better car, but it seems cruel to just leave this one the way it is, so he plans on fixing it up before he gets rid of it.
He almost, almost walks right past the most beautiful thing he's ever seen in his life, but backtracks in order to admire it.
A '67 Chevy Impala, in perfect condition. Glossy, jet black, like a crouched panther about to pounce on some unsuspecting animal. Dean just barely resists the urge to ran his hands over it, for fear of messing up the shine and, on a slightly lesser scale, frostbite. He sighs wistfully, wishing he had a car like that. No, that he had that car. But Dean is aware of his own penniless state, and moves on, knowing it's impossible.
He saddles up in the Rust Bucket, giving one last longing look towards the impala. Dean starts it up and drives it over to a secluded part of the parking lot, far out, near the freeway entrance. Dean flicks on the fuzzy radio and heater, determined to spend his last twenty minutes of lunch break thinking up an awesome excuse to get him the hell out of the mall until next week. He chews on a blue Gummi Shark, waiting for the sugar to activate his brain, stretched out across the backseat.
And who the hell was the Boy King anyway?
The title first made him think of a little kid, 'cause 'boy' didn't really lend itself to full grown men. But now he's thinking that maybe it really is a man. How would a little boy become king anyway? Unless he was forced into it… He's piecing together a picture of the Boy King in his head, probably a youngish guy, but definitely an adult, with more power than he can really deal with, when someone taps on his window.
Dean turns around, and right outside is Trenchcoat Creeper.
"Dude." Dean says, like the guy can hear him through the car. Obviously the guy can't, and stares impassively at him. Going against his better judgment, Dean rolls the window down.
"Here to poke me again?" Dean asks dryly. The creeper stares at him more. Dean stares back.
"You really don't remember." He says.
"Remember what?" Dean snaps. "The reason you're following me? 'Cause, dude, I honestly don't know."
"Yes you do, Dean." the Creeper says in such a sure voice that Dean's pretty sure the guy actually believes what he's saying. So, totally crazy. Not that great for Dean right now.
"I haven't met you!" Dean says. "I've never seen you before in my life." He's stubborn enough to ignore his gut, which is telling him that what he just said isn't entirely true.
"I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition."
There isn't anywhere Dean could've heard those words, in that exact combination, before, but it sounds familiar. And terrifying.
"What do you mean?" Dean asks.
"You know." The guy--whose name most definitely starts with a 'C', Dean's as sure about that as he's sure his own starts with a 'D'-- says it in such a blank way that Dean thinks that maybe everything he says is blank, that maybe this guy's emotionless, and not in an emo way, in a not human way.
This guy is one heartless bastard.
And Dean can feel it, something fucking huge just off the edge of his consciousness, pressing up against it. If he thinks about it too hard, he could bring it to the front of his mind, or push it away entirely.
Trenchcoat Creeper is staring at him, not surprising because Dean's been staring back for the last…however long he's been sitting here staring.
"You know, Dean." Creeper says, and Dean feels whatever it is swell up against the side of his mind like a balloon about to pop.
Someone in the distance screams.
Dean's head snaps around, nearly smashing his face against the door of the Rust Bucket. More screams came from the direction of the mall, and Dean's gut is telling him that bad things are happening inside. His almost epiphany is gone, it had evaporated the second he lost his focus on it.
Dean turns his head back, and Creeper is gone, which isn't as big of a surprise as it should be. Dean opens the door and climbs out of the car, knowing full well that he should be driving his stupid ass away.
"Walk towards the screaming, that's smart." Dean mutters to himself.
He really hopes he isn't about to die in a neon apron.
Just inside the front doors, the main entrance with a tacky circular arrangement of benches and fake plants, there's nothing suspicious, so Dean moves forward. He doesn't bother hiding because his chance at stealth was shot when he decided to walk around in his bright fucking orange uniform. His gut's telling him to head west, so he does.
Dean's not exactly expecting hellfire here, but there isn't really any sign of a battle going on. Except for this weird sort of tension in the air, making his nerves go into overdrive with adrenaline.
He walks forward, unconsciously fingering his fugly necklace like it's a good luck charm.
There's no one, absolutely no one there, which is terrifying, seeing as it's a mall at 1 o'clock on a Saturday. It should be packed with teenagers and irritated parents.
Until a black cloud of smoke rushes out of Borders, quickly followed by a guy with a shotgun. Dean freezes on the spot, his knees locking and trying to dive out of the way at the same time, rendering themselves useless.
Shotgun guy looks around, probably for more malicious smoke, and spots Dean. The guy's mouth drops open, and Dean's half prepared to get his ass filled with buckshot.
"Dean?" Shotgun guy says, and Dean's pretty sure he's not just reading the nametag. Great, Trenchcoat Creeper has a friend. With a weapon.
"Dean." Shotgun guy says again, and it's less of a question this time, the guy walking towards him with the longest stride Dean's ever seen. An oddly familiar stride.
"Dude, don't scare me like that." Shotgun guy sighs, looking like he wants to hug Dean. Dean has some objections to that. Thankfully the guy suppresses the urge, and immediately moves on to more important things. "Where have you been?"
"Uh…" Dean says, really confused as to why a tall, muscular man with a shotgun is acting like his mother. "Here?" The guy frowns at that, like Dean's being immature. "Why?"
" 'Cause you fucking disappeared in the middle of the night a month ago and I've been looking for you since!"
"Dude, I don't know who you think I am, but trust me, I'm not your boyfriend." The guy's jaw tightens at that, he really can't take a joke. Shotgun guy's ability to take a joke isn't really the issue, though. The guy being distracted from the gun, however, is.
"Dean!" He half barks, half whines. "You're my brother and you can't even stop making stupid jokes long enough to explain why you left!" Whoa, wait a second.
"Brother?" Dean says. "I don't have a brother. I'm an only child." The guy's grip on the gun loosens as his face falls. Just a bit more.
"Dean. Don't even…don't say that." He says, and for a second he doesn't sound like a man. He sounds like a scared child.
"I don't know you." Dean says, in a deliberately blunt voice. The man's pretty much forgotten about the gun now, just a bit more and Dean can grab it.
"It's Sam." He says, voice broken. "I'm your brother. Sam Winchester." Dean lunges, all his joints back in perfect working order, and snatches the gun right out of Sam's hands. His lunge sends him into a slight roll that has him behind the taller man's back, crouching and pointing the shotgun at him.
"Don't move." Dean says, as Sam starts to turn around.
"Dean…" It's funny how every time Sam says his name it has a different inflection. This one is 'don't do this'.
"Stop it." Dean says. "Stop saying my name like you know me. You and that Creeper guy. I don't have a brother, or cousins, or anything else."
"You do Dean. You're my brother."
"No I'm not." Dean says, and that stupid bubble is pressing up against the side of his mind again, paired with the voice in his head that's telling him he's making a huge fucking mistake right now.
"Oh, Dean!" Says a voice from behind him. Dani. "Thank god you're here. That guy just walked in and started shooting." She walks into his field of vision, a few feet off to his side.
"She's not human, Dean." Sam says calmly. "She looks like it, but she isn't."
"He's crazy, Dean!" Dani says hysterically.
"She's a demon. A demon in some poor girl's body."
"Can you hear him? He's insane! Shoot him, Dean."
Dean pumps the shotgun, the sound shutting them both up.
"I'm going to shoot the next person who says my name." Dean says calmly. He stands, rising slowly to his feet, keeping the gun pointed at Sam. "If you're my brother, why don't I know it?" He asks, following his gut.
"Don't tell me you're seriously-" Dani starts.
"Shut up." Dean says. Dani stares at him, her expression scared and confused. And more than a little angry, though she seems to be trying to hide that.
"They erased your memories. Or brainwashed you or something." Sam says, and Dani gives a little snort of disbelief. Dean glares at her. "They can't kill you, Dean, because if you were dead, we'd know where you were."
"We?" Dean asks, keeping his voice neutral.
"Me and Ruby. And Cas."
"How would you find me, if I was dead?" The bubble's growing with every word he says.
"We have before." Sam says simply.
"Dean, can you just shoot him already?" Dani says, and her voice sounds a little less hysterical. A little more angry.
"Y'know," Dean says, directing his words at Sam, ignoring Dani. At this point, he's really hoping that his gut's not just fucking with him, 'cause if it is, he's going to be royally screwed. "I had a little brother."
"Had?" Sam whispers.
"Yeah. He died, in a house fire when I was little." Sam draws a sharp intake of breath.
"Dean, shoot him. Shoot him now!" Dani's not hysterical in the slightest anymore, just angry.
"His name was Sammy."
"Dean!" Dani barks, and now there's more than just anger, there's fear too. Dean grins.
"But I'm guessing that's not how it really happened." Dean says.
"Not really." Sam says, and Dani rushes Dean. Quick as a whip, Dean turns to face her, firing the shotgun into her stomach at point blank range.
"Is that supposed to stop me?" Dani laughs, eyes black. She tackles Dean, trying to wrestle the gun away from him.
Sam's hand comes out of nowhere and pulls her off him. He stabs Dani in the chest. There's this weird, electric glow and she crumples. Sam pulls the knife out and reaches his other, unbloody, hand to Dean.
Dean grabs it and lets Sam help him up.
"So, does that make the Creeper in the trenchcoat Cas?" Dean asks, letting his brain come up with a comment without him, because he's a bit preoccupied at the moment.
"Yeah. I guess so." Sam, the guy who might be his brother, chuckles.