Summary: Pre-Series – Sam, 12; Dean, 16 – The man, the familiar-looking stranger, was staring at him. And not only that, he was smiling and nodding – the way people did when they finally found what they had been looking for.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Minor language and extremely vague spoilers for season five. But unless you know what happens in that season, you won't see them; which also means you'll probably miss the entire point of this story.
marked (märkt) adj. – Singled out, especially for a dire fate: a marked man.
The devil takes my hand; says, "Child, come with me." ~ Paper Route
The man, the familiar-looking stranger, was staring at him.
At first, he thought he was just being paranoid – as hunters and children of hunters were wont to be – but now he knew that was not the case. The uneasy feeling, the feeling that someone was watching him was well-founded because the man was looking at him.
In the late afternoon glare of the Detroit sun, the man in the crisp white suit, with slicked back hair was staring at him from across the street. His gaze was too direct, not sufficiently vacant. He was not merely resting his eyes on those opposite him, as people often do; he was looking at him. And not only that, he was smiling and nodding – the way people did when they finally found what they had been looking for – and then ever-so-subtly pointed at him and then back to himself.
You are mine.
A sudden rush of heat swept over Sam, followed by a shiver-inducing chill. He swallowed, then almost gagged at the unexpected metallic taste, the coppery tang of blood filling his mouth. Startled, he inhaled sharply and coughed as a result, covering his mouth as he did so, and then searched his hand for evidence. But there was nothing. No red flecks of blood-tinged saliva and – he swallowed again – now no taste, either.
Hearing the sudden cough, Dean glanced down at his brother. "You okay?"
Sam nodded as his eyes darted back across the street, focusing on the man that was focusing on him; that was standing immovable and unnoticed, that was no longer pointing but beckoning.
Sam's eyes widened as he slowly shook his head.
The man's expression implied that he was laughing – though there was no sound – and he nodded, quite confident.
Unnerved, Sam looked away, stepping closer to his brother as they waited for the light to change at the crosswalk.
Feeling Sam's bony elbow brush against his arm, Dean nudged him back. "Dude, personal space." Expecting a bitchface or a smartass retort, but receiving neither, Dean frowned and nudged his brother again. "Hey."
Sam glanced across the street – the man was still there, still staring, still smiling – and then looked up, squinting in the sun as he adjusted his backpack on his shoulder and moved impossibly closer to Dean.
Dean's frown deepened. Sam looked pale and freaked and was being far too quiet and clingy. "What's wrong?"
Sam held Dean's gaze, considering his brother's reaction if he told Dean some weirdo across the street was staring at him, had actually pointed at him and made a vaguely threatening, unmistakably possessive gesture towards him.
"Sammy?" Dean prompted, his eyes searching the kid's face even as Sam turned away, once again glancing across the street. Dean did the same, scanning the opposite sidewalk for whatever had upset his brother. "What?"
Sam heard his brother's voice but didn't respond, too focused on the mystery at hand; feeling simultaneously relieved – because the man was gone – but even more freaked – because where did he go? Surely he hadn't just imagined all of that?
You are mine.
He must have made some sound of confused distress because in the next instant, Dean grasped his shoulders from behind, was steering him away from the suddenly moving crowd – the light must have finally changed – and pushing him toward one of the benches a few feet away.
Sam blinked, startled to find himself sitting; to find Dean crouched in front of him, one hand braced against his shoulder, one hand clasping his knee.
Sam blinked again, feeling shaky and overwhelmed, confused and scared, as tears welled in his eyes.
You are mine.
"Dean," he whispered, sounding two, not twelve as tears blinked free from his lashes. "Did you see him?"
Dean's heart pounded in his chest. What the fuck was going on? One minute he and his kid brother were walking back to the motel room after doing research at the library for an upcoming hunt; and the next, Sam was having some sort of meltdown in the middle of the sidewalk.
"Who?" Dean asked, trying not to sound as freaked as Sam looked.
Sam didn't respond, instead looking past Dean as his eyes darted back and forth, obviously looking for something – or someone.
Dean gently shook his brother. "Sam."
Sam met his gaze.
"Did I see who?"
Dean frowned, his protective nature instantly on alert. "What man?"
You are mine.
He glanced across the street – nothing, no one – and then back to Dean before ducking his head. "I don't know."
Dean sighed, resisting the urge to growl his frustration – because he couldn't protect Sam if he didn't know the threat – but instead brushed his fingers through Sam's bangs, trying to soothe, to see the kid's face; not expecting to feel the degree of warmth radiating from his brother.
He narrowed his eyes – that was strange – and flattened his palm against Sam's forehead, feeling even more heat. "Dude." He pressed the back of his hand to Sam's cheek, then cupped the back of his brother's neck. "Since when do you have a fever?"
Which sucked, but actually made sense, made Dean feel a little better. He could handle a fever; had handled a fevered, overly emotional, seeing-things-that-aren't-really-there Sammy many times. And although this had come out of nowhere – as most of Sam's illnesses tended to do – Dean felt instantly calmer and back in control; the man forgotten because he probably never existed to anyone other than his brother's fevered mind.
"Hey," he said, his tone lighter as he nudged his brother. "What d'ya say we go home, huh? Get you settled and cooled and drugged up. Sound good?"
Sam looked up at Dean, suddenly realizing that he did feel like crap; but knowing that didn't cancel out what had just happened. He had felt fine a few minutes ago and fever or not, he knew what he had seen. He sighed; his cheeks flushed, eyes watery and bright under the fringe of damp bangs. "I really did see him, Dean."
The conviction with which his brother said those words made something in Dean's stomach twist even as he forced a smile and stood up. "Not saying you didn't, kiddo. But he's gone, and I'm here. Not going anywhere; not leaving you; not letting anything bad happen to you. Right?"
Sam sighed again and then smiled tiredly, feeling some of the fear and tension ease as he stood as well. "Right."
"Right," Dean affirmed, lifting Sam's backpack to his own shoulder before lightly squeezing his brother's neck and steering the kid back to the crosswalk.
As they once again waited for the light to change, Sam leaned into his brother's side – hot and exhausted – as his gaze lingered on the opposing sidewalk, seeing nothing but a blur of people; and yet unable to escape an unspoken promise that echoed in the Detroit streets.
You are mine.
And somehow Sam knew it was true.
It was only a matter of time.