Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of SyFy & Nick Willing (Alice), and Warner Bros. Television & Eric Kripke (Supernatural); as such, they are only used for fan related purposes.
The Impala coasted up to the curb, idling for a few seconds before the driver killed the engine. The end of the Led Zeppelin tune that had been wailing through the speakers whined to a close as Dean Winchester leaned back into his seat, not even bothering to hide the slight frustration he felt.
It was late evening, dark, and he was sitting in some empty alleyway when he could be sleeping in a bed somewhere; even some seedy motel was a better option than this. True, their latest hunt had ended yesterday morning on a high note, and he'd had a long night last night as a celebration, but now he was tired, his stomach was growling (but that was nothing new) and he had no idea what they were doing in this particular deserted back alley (see, that was new).
Needless to say, Dean was not feeling his best.
"Okay," he said, turning his head to look at his passenger. "You want to tell me what we're doing here?"
"What do you think we're doing, Dean?"
Dean made a display of looking around him. It was a dingy alley, opposite of an empty, abandoned warehouse; trash cans and rubbish dotted the street and there wasn't another car in sight. He snorted. "I hope this isn't your idea of a lover's lane, Sammy."
"It's a possible hunt," Sam retorted, rolling his eyes. Sometimes he wondered why he put up with Dean before realizing that, at the very least, the Impala—and her keys—belonged to him. And hitchhiking—unless you were cute and blonde—wasn't as easy as television made it out to be. "We were in the area, I was looking through Dad's journal," he explained, holding the thick, dog-eared journal up so Dean could see it, "and something stuck out at me from one of the pages."
That got Dean's attention.
Sitting up in his seat, he leaned closer to his brother in order to get a better look at the journal. He had leafed through that thing forwards and backwards in the months they spent looking for their father, searching out a clue, trying to find meaning in some cipher or code meant specifically for him. He was positive that, if there was something about the city they were in in there, he would've known about it.
Sam was already flipping through pages. He had marked the one they needed and quickly had the book open. "Here," he said, pointing at a small note on the bottom right-hand corner.
"'Through the Looking Glass'," Dean read. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I was thinking it might have something to do with 'Alice in Wonderland'—"
Scoffing, Dean cut his brother off as he carefully handed the journal back. "Sam, that's just a kid's story."
Sam took the journal back and, closing it gently, weighed it thoughtfully in the palm of his open hand. "Yeah," he agreed, "but how many times have the things we've seen and done been considered 'just kids stories'?"
He had to admit that Sam had a point. "Okay, I'll bite. What's going on here? People disappearing through a mirror and coming back crazy?"
"I don't know, Dean, but… maybe?"
And Sam was serious, too.
Dean knew his brother well enough to know that there would be no shutting him up if they didn't at least take a look around. A couple of questions, maybe, a quick scan with the EMF and then they could be back out on the open road, searching out the next demon—or maybe even the demon—in a bid to help their father fight all the evil there was out there.
Besides, Alice in Wonderland always seemed a bit trippy to him… but he didn't remember anything all that evil about it. Well, Tweedledee and Tweedledum were kind of strange and, okay, the Queen of Hearts was a homicidal bitch with a weird fetish for cutting people's heads off but—
Shaking his head, Dean let that thought stop right there. What was he thinking about? Ghosts, yeah, they existed, and demons and all sorts of evil spirits. Shapeshifters. The undead. Hell, he'd even seen a walking scarecrow come to life! They were real, not fictional characters; damn real, and those were the sort of evil lowlifes they should be going after, not a throwaway line in their father's journal that referenced some old kid's book.
Still, it was better to just humor Sam and get this "hunt" of his over with. The last thing he needed was for his brother to get all huffy and take off again, not after last time. Dean still looked twice at any scarecrow he saw, and apple pie didn't seem to taste so sweet after that adventure.
He shrugged. "Why here?"
"I looked it up in the laptop last night when you were out—"
Dean's grin was suddenly devilish, with just a hint of wolfishness thrown in for good measure. It had been a good night. "Yeah…"
Sam ignored him. "—and I found out that there's been a few disappearances in a couple block radius from this warehouse. All sorts of people, adults mainly, they just went missing. Bankers, waitresses, cops, even some of the homeless if we can trust the reports… they were gone. And it's not just now… it's been going back over ten years, but it's never so much that the cops were worried."
"Okay, Sam, maybe it's just… just some kind of nut, right?" He shuddered inwardly just a little, remembering some of the nuts they'd had the misfortune to run up against during his travels. Humans. And he thought demons were creative. "We've met them before. It's not always supernatural."
"No bodies, Dean. How many people can go missing without a single body popping up? Or witnesses? Never a struggle, either. They just… vanish."
"Vanish, huh?" Dean nodded and, knowing damn well he was giving in, took the keys out of the ignition. "Fine. We'll go. Let me just grab some flashlights from the trunk first, and maybe some of the phony badges. I've got a feeling we might need 'em."
He was right, too, about the flashlights at least. No one was around to watch as the two brothers slipped inside the abandoned warehouse but that didn't necessarily mean that no one was watching. The badges stayed in their pockets but, as one, they each flicked on their flashlight. The inside of the building was made up of many rooms, all dark, which, to an experienced hunter, was never ever a good thing.
Trying to keep his skepticism to a minimum, Dean merely snorted under his breath when Sam pulled out the homemade EMF meter from his coat pocket. "Got anything there?" he asked. "I can sing some Jefferson Airplane if it'll help the mood."
"Funny," Sam said dryly, not even bothering to look up from the EMF light display.
It didn't matter, though: there was no reading. He moved deeper into the empty front room but still nothing. With Dean humming "White Rabbit" under his breath as they went, Sam went through an open door, wondering if this was really worth it after all. Dean was right, damn it. It was a stupid throwaway line at the bottom of the page. Sam only noticed it because he'd been up all night, poring over the old journal again, looking for something, anything, to help him find the Yellow Eyed Demon.
Oh, and Dad, too.
Like the hunts and the jobs that came before this one, he was using work to take his mind off of the nightmares, the worries, the fears… because, maybe, if he could save just one more person—always just one more person—everything would be all right.
Sam shook his head, glared at the non-obliging EMF meter and stalked purposely forward. Maybe this was a stupid, pointless hunt. But, without a word from their father or a lead to go on, what else did they have to do?
The two had come up to another door and a hall that branched off in another direction. Sam pointed into the doorway. "Why don't you check it out in there? I'll see if there's anything on the other side." Suddenly he wanted nothing than to be alone. Besides, Dean's humming was really beginning to grate on his nerves.
Dean shrugged and nodded, absently tossing the flashlight back and forth between his hands. It was easy to see just how little he thought this job was worth his time. Still, a lifetime of being Sam's older brother gave him habits he couldn't break and he said, "Be careful, Sammy." Then, because this was Dean Winchester, he added, "Don't go falling down any rabbit holes now."
Sam rolled his eyes and headed down the hall. The corridor looked longer than it was, though maybe that was because he didn't take his eyes off of the silent EMF. The air was still and every nerve in Sam's body told him that something was up—but maybe it didn't have to be a spirit. Putting the EMF back in his pocket, he sniffed the air. No sulfur. No demon. He glanced up—
—and was nearly blinded when the beam of his flashlight was reflected back at him.
Shielding his eyes, Sam lowered the flashlight. After only a second's hesitation he headed towards where the flash had come from. At the end of the hall there was another doorway that opened up on an empty room. At least, Sam thought it was empty.
He immediately understood why the light had slammed into like that. An oversized, pretty tall and very wide mirror was propped up against the far wall. This room had windows, small windows near the ceiling that let in either moonlight or the streetlights. Whatever it was, it landed on a still figure lying prone on the concrete floor at the base of the mirror.
Sam drew closer, realized by the mass of dark hair that the figure was a girl, realized by her closed eyes that she was out and realized by her soft breathing that she was alive, and went right back to the open doorway. "Dean," he called, his voice echoing down the hall. Over his shoulder the girl didn't stir. "I think I found something!"
When Dean came jogging into view, heading straights toward him, he lowered his voice considerably to explain. "There's a mirror, like right out of the book. And that's not it, either, there's a girl."
"A girl? Then who's that? Hey," Dean said, louder, "who are you? Where did you come from?"
Dean had squeezed past Sam into the room, his one hand brandishing the flashlight like a sword, the other reaching for the gun that was never too far. He might've thought Sam's hunt was ridiculous but it never hurt to be prepared. Quite the obvious, actually.
The flashlight's beam framed a young man with a weirdo hat who was crouched and hunched over the sleeping girl. Sam blinked, surprised and partly confused. Dean was right: where the hell did that guy come from?
The man, squinting against the light, straightened when he heard Dean. He squared his stance, folding his right hand into a tight fist. There were small cuts and faded bruises dotting his face, and, though he was shorter than Sam and even Dean, he was vaguely threatening in a way—but, since he was nothing compared to the other things that lurked in the dark and appeared out nowhere, Dean just waited for him to answer.
In an accented voice that the Winchester boys didn't expect, the hat-wearing stranger said sharply, "Alice! What happened to her?"
"Alice?" Dean asked, raising his eyebrows as he dared a glance at Sam. Sam just tried to elbow his brother in the side, a jab Dean nicely sidestepped by moving forward at the right moment. "Is that Alice? Coulda fooled me, I thought she'd be a blonde."
The stranger didn't appear to get the joke. He was glaring now. "What did you do to her?"
"Hold on there, buddy," Dean said, holding his hands up warningly, his mischievous grin turning serious. "We didn't do anything to her. We just found her lying there."
"Just? She's been lyin' here so long? She left hours ago! Unless," the stranger said, mumbling enough that Sam and Dean couldn't be so sure what he was mumbling, "unless Time's at work again and this world and its oysters don't go round like we do back home." Shaking his head, he let his right hand relax as he squatted back to position himself protectively over Alice. "C'mon, Alice, time to rise and shine, eh? Up and at 'em. I came," he told her, talking softly as if there was no other audience but her, "and you promised me pizza, didn't you? How's pepperoni sound?"
She didn't answer, of course she didn't answer, and Dean—who thought pepperoni sounded pretty good but knew better than to say so—decided that something was definitely up. It may not be supernatural—or maybe it was?—but something was definitely going on there. The guy was strange and he was pretty sure that there was no way he could've gotten in the room without him or Sam noticing, and surely Sam would've seen him if he was hiding in there when he peeked in. Yeah, there were windows but, apart from the mirror, the only door that led in was the one he'd just entered.
Apart from the mirror.
Through the Looking Glass.
Sam nudged him. "He wasn't in here before," he said, affirming Dean's suspicions—or making them more suspicious. "Only the girl."
"Still nothing on the EMF?"
After removing it from his pocket, Sam held it up wordlessly. Nothing.
"Didn't think so." Dean shrugged and moved closer. The sound of his footsteps were enough to remind the other man that he wasn't alone. He jerked his head up, nearly losing his hat, and Dean held his hands up in what could be considered a gesture of good will this time. "Okay, look, we want to help. What's your name?"
The stranger paused for a moment, his lips quirked in what could've been an almost grin if he hadn't looked so worried, and said, "David."
The guy was good but nowhere near as good as Dean and Sam. They'd given so many fake names over the years that Sam and Dean Winchester seemed like just another identity. Still, they had to recognize a kindred spirit—and Dean did so the only way he could. "I'm Agent Slick," he said, pulling one of the fake badges out, "and this is my partner, Balin."
"But you can call me Dean and him Sam," Dean added smoothly.
If Sam was expecting the curious look and the questions that would follow from Dean's introduction, he was pleasantly surprised. This David seemed like he couldn't care less who they were; he had eyes only on the girl at his feet. Crouched over her, his hands were reaching out to her but only close enough to have an inch or so separating them. He was protective, but he couldn't bring himself to touch her. Hesitant, but definitely determined to make sure she was okay.
Dean had a lifetime experience of hunting monsters, demons and villains—and he was pretty sure this guy didn't fall into any of those categories. Sparing the eerily large mirror behind him a quick, curious glance, he nodded to himself before turning to look at his brother. "Sam… some help?"
Sam nodded and stepped away, already pulling his cell phone out of his pants pocket as he went. He left Dean with the other two, moving out into the hallway to make his call.
David resumed his worried position over the girl; Dean had the idea that he was doing so to keep the Winchesters away from her. Once or twice Dean caught him looking over his shoulder at the mirror as if he expected to see someone else's reflection staring back. He even glanced up to find the room's ceiling, shook his head after holding his hat on tight and mumbled, "Remember to breathe, he said. Why is it, Alice, that you never do listen."
No a demon, Dean was sure, but something was definitely up.
"The police are on their way," Sam announced when he came back, "and an ambulance, too."
David didn't sound worried when he asked, just confused. The brothers shared a quick look. It was almost as if he had never heard the word before.
"Yeah," Dean said, "the cops. They'll help your, uh, your lady friend."
There was no mistaking the relief that crossed David's face, even underneath the shadow caused by the brim of his hat.
Standing up straight again, he took a look around him; Dean couldn't help but notice how carefully he avoided the big mirror that loomed in the background. When his eyes landed on Alice, he nodded to himself. "I should move her. It should be easier for her to be found, I think."
Sam, who'd been thinking along the same line, moved forwards. "Let me help."
It was a good thing he offered, too. Alice was heavier than she looked, all muscles underneath her blue dress if Sam was any judge. He grabbed her boots while David—who was stronger than he looked—hooked his arms underneath Alice. With Dean following close behind, they brought her unconscious body into the front foyer. It just seemed smarter than leaving her so far inside the abandoned warehouse.
Especially since none of them wanted to be the one to explain how they found her, or how in the world a great big mirror was stowed in a warehouse like this.
When the cops and the paramedics showed up shortly after Alice was moved, Sam and Dean made sure to vanish into the depths of the building, hiding in the shadows just in case they had to make a quick exit. Their travels across the country hadn't brought them to this city yet so there was no reason to fear these pesky cops but… St. Louis wasn't so far behind them that neither felt comfortable being exposed to the officials. It just wasn't a hunter's way.
The cops, their hands full with the unconscious Alice and David's continued hovering, never noticed them standing there; the brothers were able to watch the scene unfold before them. David may not have understood the concept of the police coming in response to a call for help but he was an old hat at spinning a tale and making it sound a whole other way.
Suddenly he was just an innocent construction worker named David Hatter who happened to be scoping out the abandoned warehouse when he noticed a young woman run inside. The story was sketchy at best but, to Dean's amazement, the police seemed to believe every word. Before long Alice—but not Alice because, suddenly, David had never seen her before—had been loaded into the back of the ambulance and David was being commended for doing the right thing and calling them for help.
The cops left right after, David following as closely behind as he could. Regardless of all he said, he'd be damned if they just up and took his Alice away from him.
Dean and Sam waited until the coast was clear before they stepped back into the hall. But, instead of heading towards the exit, the Impala and the open road like Sam had been expecting, Dean made a sharp left and went straight back towards that last room again. His jaw was set and determined. His body language old Sam that this… whatever it was… it wasn't over just yet.
Sam followed his brother right to the mirror's edge.
"'Through the Looking Glass'," Dean said after a minute, partly to himself and partly to no one at all. If he was being honest, mirrors had spooked him just a little ever since the whole Bloody Mary incident in Toledo. Not that he was too worried, and, hey, there were skeletons in everyone's closets; Dean's were simply more monster-shaped than most. Still, he'd thought he'd gotten over it but, damn, there was something about this one. You could almost think it was possible—
—was it possible?
Just… what if?
He was slowly lifting his hand up to touch the mirror's surface when the sharp smack of Sam's palm knocked it back against Dean's thigh. He shook his head angrily, feeling a sudden rush of stupidity wash over him. "What the—"
"It's just a kid's story, Dean," Sam said slowly, pointedly turning his back on the innocently shimmering glass. If it was possible for a great, hulking sheet of mirror to smirk, it might've been doing just that.
Dean reluctantly followed his brother's lead. Jamming his hands into his pocket, he reached into his coat and pulled out the keys to his car. He'd never admit it to Sam but what he needed just then was to grab a microwavable burrito, have a cold beer and sleep this one off.
"Yeah, Sammy," he agreed, overtaking his brother as he headed back to his beloved car. "Kids' stories."
Author's Note: I've been working on getting this to a point where I was happy with it for a month now, in response to the crossover prompt in the first quarterly challenge at new_wonderland. I don't know what possessed me to write an Alice/Supernatural crossover when I've never written SPN before but, well, there's a first time for everything, right? I hope it came across the way I wanted it to, and I really hope it makes sense to anyone else but me. I mean... it could've happened. Maybe. In a different timeline, definitely. Yup. I'll go with that ;)
- stress, 03.31.10