Ficawesome Gift Exchange- 3some
Title: The Other Side
Written for: Saren Kol
Written By: Silverspoon
Summary/Prompt used: 1) Our pair get lost.
2) Our pair end up in a sticky situation.
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September 25th 2011
Driving after dusk was one of the things that Hal Munroe loathed most, especially given the coupling of his advancing age and receding eyesight. He found that he strained all the more to pick out definite shapes from the swirl of shadows against tarmac, often leading to him making a wholly unnecessary emergency stop for nothing more than overhanging tree branches, and causing him to be the sole reason for the deaths of no less than fifty red squirrels. It was on one such occasion when Hal had narrowly avoided a fender bender with a doe and her young faun that his failing eyes actually picked up something of note in the copse of trees that lined the road.
Squinting, Hal drew his ancient-seen-better-days Ford Pontiac over to the grass verge, and flicked on the beams of his fog lights in order to illuminate the swirling pattern that had first captured his notice. He started as from the unoccupied passenger seat at his side the sound of his cell phone trilling out a tinny, computerised version of Garth Brooks' Friends In Low Places filled the car.
Hal fumbled for the phone, his pudgy fingers swiping it from the seat with some difficulty, and sending a stack of overdue paperwork skittering across the floor. He made no move to retrieve the fallen pages however, knowing that he was so far behind in his work of late that it would truly be a miracle if he managed to retain his position in the firm until the end of the month. Lately, things had taken a turn from bad to worse for Hal, and the frequency with which he began to escape to rundown redneck bars to avoid reality had increased to an almost nightly basis. This had done little to help his already failing marriage, or doubtlessly his sky-high blood pressure, and yet Hal simply could not bring himself to care much for either. Divorce or death were both certainties in his near future, and all Hal could do was hope that the former came before the latter so that he could at least gain the satisfaction on his deathbed of knowing that there would be no hefty insurance payout for his shrew of a wife.
"What?" Hal barked gruffly, mopping at his brow with the back of his hand as he continued to frown into the distance in search of the shimmering lights.
"Where are you?" an equally irate female voice demanded, immediately setting every last nerve in Hal's rotund body on edge. The fingers of his free hand, which so happened to be the one upon which his wedding ring nestled, clenched into a tight fist which Hal began to work into the top of his thigh.
"On the road, Ronnie," he all but snarled back, beginning to work the knot of his mauve tie free from his collar, before popping the first few buttons on his shirt. He waited for the sour response he was certain would arrive, not disappointed when a derisive snort greeted him from the other end of the phone.
"Make your millions yet?" Ronnie drawled in a voice thick with the after effects of too much liquor. Her barb was punctuated with a hiccup, and Hal rolled his eyes as he waited for the conversation to begin its natural wind down.
"What did you want?" Hal demanded, wondering momentarily when things between them had gotten so bad that they had resorted to addressing each other more as enemies than partners. Certainly, they had not been lovers for quite some time, although Hal had his suspicions that Ronnie was not going unfulfilled in that area. Only weeks before he had discovered a pair of boxers in the laundry too small to possibly be his, and whilst his insecurities had been ignited, he had failed to confront his wife over the find.
"You need to stop by the grocery store," stated Ronnie, her tone neither softening nor adopting even a tinge of politeness. Hal bristled, awaiting the rest of the demand. "Get milk... and beer."
"Sure," Hal snapped, beginning to lose even the faintest interest in the conversation now as the silvery gleam caught his eye once more.
"Are you listening to me?" Ronnie pressed, her words slurring together a little as her anger mounted. Hal refrained from replying, his gaze affixed to the distance where the lights had reappeared, beginning to shift and intertwine in mid air. Hal's eyes grew wide and he found himself withdrawing his keys from the ignition before his intuition had even begun to warn him against such an idea. There was something ominous about the appearance of the tiny, silvery orbs, which were just a few inches above the forest floor, and positioned amidst a thick copse of trees barely shy of the roadside. However, Hal found himself inexplicably drawn forwards, his keys clutched in his hand seconds after he had allowed the engine to die. Not even bothering to disconnect the call, Hal set his phone down on the dashboard and opened the car door, causing a loud screech of grinding metal to ring out through the night air. Nearby, birds vacated the tree branches they had occupied in fright as Hal began to press on, the twinkling dots beckoning him.
"Hal? Hal?" Ronnie repeated in a furious and shrill scream as she attempted to bring her husband to task. Hal could no longer hear, however, as he had moved several feet away from the stationary vehicle, and was now poised directly in front of the curious oddity that had first been the reason for him to pull over.
Hal cocked his head, jaw slack, as he regarded what appeared to be some kind of shimmering portal, although his logic and better sense scoffed at the very idea. Taking a tentative step forwards, Hal rolled up his shirt sleeve to the elbow of his right arm, and plunged the limb through the wall of light without much thought for the consequences; Hal was a man of action, and his natural curiosity had already succeeded in getting the better of his sense. Moving to the side slightly, Hal poked his head around the back of the doorway, and sucked in a sharp, startled breath as he realised that the rest of his arm was not in fact visible from the other side.
"What the..." Hal began as he shuffled closer to the light, his eyes wide and his breath coming in shallow gasps that indicated his unease. He could hear the rush of blood in his own ears, drowning out the simultaneous pounding of his heart.
It was as he extended one leg in preparation to pass more of his body through the portal, that Hal was greeted by a pair of crimson eyes, which appeared just above his own eye level; feral and brimming with malice.
Hal opened his mouth, preparing to unleash a scream, which was lost to the darkness as an olive skinned arm materialised from within the portal, and strong fingers fixed around Hal's collar.
As he was wrenched so unceremoniously through the gap, Hal Munroe made barely a whisper of sound, before he disappeared without a trace.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
October 3rd 2011
"So, what do we got, Sammy?" demanded the older Winchester brother as he reached for a slice of thickly buttered bread with which to begin mopping up the puddle of grease that coated his breakfast plate. The chipped white china, probably amongst the finest the dive of a diner had to offer, had been presented to Dean along with the greasiest bacon, sausage and egg sub that Sam had ever laid eyes upon. It was a stark contrast to his own bowl of muesli, glass of fresh juice and fruit cup, yet so much about the Winchester brothers seemed wholly incompatible that Sam had given up making the comparisons long ago. To everyone who knew them well enough, the Winchester boys were chalk and cheese; and yet they would each happily lay down their life for the other (and in fact had) time and time again, such was the strength of their immeasurable bond.
Sam watched, his upper lip curled in disgust, as Dean allowed the thick, brownish goop to soak into the bread, before taking a generous bite between his teeth. A hundred concerns for his brother's heart and cholesterol levels surged up in Sam's mind but he pushed them all beneath the surface again, knowing that his brother would hardly appreciate the attempt at coddling, as he saw it. Dean knew that his penchant for food, mainly of the fast and greasy variety, would pose a health risk in later years but he had long ago decided that those concerns were reserved for people who were likely to make it to retirement age. The only hunter they knew of who had survived long enough to inch towards his sixties was Bobby Singer, and the kind of life he led could only be described to Dean as just that – 'surviving'. With a deceased wife, a considerable drinking problem, and a house that threatened to fall down around his ears, Bobby led a life that Dean was not all that certain he was in a rush to mirror. So he would enjoy his artery-clogging breakfast subs and chilli cheeseburgers when and where he could, secure in the knowledge that if the hunt didn't manage to kill him first, his end would be secured before he was forced to live out too many of his miserable retirement days.
"A choice," Sam finally piped up, tapping one of the two open newspapers that lay on the table before him. "A possible Rugaru in Minesotta. Fits the pattern- guy disappears for a few days then when he turns up again, he's seen to be devouring his mother and step-father."
Dean chuckled as Sam grimaced, thoroughly disturbed by the images the gruesome article prompted.
"Says he fled the scene when the police arrived after taking a chunk out of one of the officers with just his teeth," Sam revealed, cocking his head as he continued to pick out points of interest from the story. "Bullets penetrated and wounded him but seemed to have no effect slowing him down. He fled the scene and there've only been brief sightings of him since. Awful lot of homeless dudes have turned up at the morgue in a pretty strange way, though."
Dean nodded, licking each of his fingers in turn before then pushing away the empty plate, and reaching for his coffee cup. He sucked down a mouthful, now immune to the bitter and wholly unpleasant taste of cheap filter coffee, finding himself drawing some satisfaction from the act of swallowing.
"What's the alternative?" Dean inquired, resting his cup on the edge of the table and affixing Sam with the weight of his green-eyed gaze.
"Not entirely sure," Sam answered cryptically, enjoying the look of irritation that sparked across Dean's features. "A string of disappearances in the same town dating back to a month ago."
"What's the deal?" Dean demanded, awaiting the supernatural undertones to the revelation he knew could not be far behind. He was not disappointed when Sam finally spoke up.
"Each of the victims turned up three days later, dead, in the same spot they were last traced back to," said Sam, removing a red pen from his inside jacket pocket and beginning to scribble notes in the margin of the paper.
"So what makes you so sure it isn't just some whack job with a pulse who likes to run around in his Mom's underwear?" pressed Dean, reaching for the paper and finding his hand batted almost effortlessly away by his brother. He shot Sam a frown, which tugged the corners of his lips downwards and succeeded in emphasising the natural creases at the corner of his eyes.
"This latest victim- Hal Munroe – an insurance salesman... disappears on Tuesday, reported missing by his wife, and by Friday the police recover his body in the spot his car was found abandoned."
"Doesn't sound so strange to me," Dean challenged, adding another sachet of sugar to his coffee, more for something to do rather than in an effort to affect the taste.
"Says here that Hal once donated a kidney to his brother, twelve years ago to be exact, leaving him with only one functioning kidney," Sam continued, a somewhat ghoulish and delighted smile forming on his lips as he added, "the post mortem revealed two kidneys present."
Dean frowned and made a second grab for the newspaper, his irritation growing as Sam pulled it into his lap at the last second.
"Can't those things like, grow back or something?" Dean said, unsure of the truth behind the rumour he had once overheard back in high-school biology. It was a useless fact, but one he had filed away nonetheless should it prove to come in handy for future reference.
"The third victim was Ian Landings," Sam revealed, seeming unconcerned with addressing Dean's query, "he disappeared two weeks ago, turns up three days later just like our pal Hal... only thing is, Ian lost an arm from below the elbow after serving in Vietnam. However, our corpse turns up with..."
"I'll take two perfectly in tact arms for a hundred, Alex," Dean quipped, this time diving for the paper, which he managed to pry from Sam's fingers. The youngest Winchester let out a snort as Dean settled the paper in his own lap, and began to skim the article with piqued interest. It was only as he started in on the penultimate paragraph that Dean noted the locality of the newspaper with a sort of sinking feeling.
"This paper says Lawrence, Kansas, Sammy," Dean observed, his words almost a challenge. Sam shrugged, popping his last piece of melon into his mouth and chewing on it slowly in a deliberate attempt to prolong his answer.
After swallowing, he mumbled, "I like to keep an eye on things back there. Just in case."
"I say we go after the Rugaru," Dean replied almost immediately as he folded the paper in his lap and tossed it across the tabletop, evidently displeased. "We'll call in the other case to Bobby."
"Wait, Dean," Sam protested, beginning to scramble to collect his jacket and other belongings as Dean tossed a twenty dollar bill onto the table and beat a hasty retreat to the waiting Impala. It was a sure sign to Sammy that he had pushed some, if not all, of Dean's buttons, given the fact that the cheque had actually come to little over twelve dollars and ordinarily Dean Winchester hated to tip.
"Dean, wait up!" implored Sam, grunting as the diner door swung closed almost against his nose, forcing him to wedge it open with one booted foot. He all but tumbled out into the parking lot after Dean, his previous smile now twisted into a frown as he watched his brother slip inside the driver's seat.
"Why are you so against this?" Sam demanded, dropping down into the passenger seat and tossing his possessions into the back as Dean gunned the engine, even before Sammy had managed to pull the door shut.
"Oh, I don't know," Dean replied tartly, stabbing the button on the cassette deck as the strains of a rock chorus filled the car. Generally speaking, when Dean was not in the mood for music, he was more than just a little upset.
"Maybe it's because every single memory I have of that place ends in blind terror and heartache," snapped Dean, taking a left a little too sharply and sending Sam's body careering into the passenger side door. He grunted in pain, his brow furrowing as he shot his brother a dirty look.
"I can't possibly imagine why I wouldn't want to work a job there," Dean retorted, no sign of ending his tirade imminent. Sam rolled his eyes, settling back in his seat and crossing his arms in front of his chest, his resolve clear.
"You're telling me you're going to let a case like this slip through your fingers because of bad memories?" Sam demanded, shooting a glance at the newspaper that now skittered about the back seat, splaying pages haphazardly.
"Bad memories?" Dean repeated, almost disbelieving of Sam's nonchalance, "are you freakin' kidding me? Sam, that place tore our family apart."
"It wasn't the place Dean, it was... circumstances," Sam finished somewhat lamely, shooting a sideways glance at Dean, who was worrying his bottom lip with his teeth.
"Whatever, Sammy," Dean growled, apparently thinking better of his decision to ride back to Bobby's in silence as he jabbed at the cassette player once again, and heavy metal blared from the speakers. Frowning, Sam reached across and twiddled the volume dial, his lips set in a line of grim determination; the details of this new prospective case had Sam intrigued, and he was reluctant as a result to allow it to pass to another and, to his mind, less experienced hunter. The case was one that had been stupefying the Lawrence County Sherriff Department for five weeks now, with a stack of as many bodies all turning up days after their disappearance under seemingly impossible circumstances; Sam was itching to don his fake ID's and poke his nose where it was legally not permitted.
"Come on, Dean," Sam attempted, grimacing as Dean ran a red light in his haste to get back to Bobby's house, and thus draw a line under their conversation. "First victim, Joseph Manners, disappears perfectly healthy and yet when his corpse is recovered three days later, the autopsy shows signs of stage three prostate cancer."
"That's not so hard to believe," Dean replied, shrugging, and yet not once removing his gaze from the stretch of road they travelled, "doctors miss things all the time, and if the dude showed no symptoms..."
"There were also traces of radiation in his system, indicating he'd received radiotherapy within the last three months at least, although his family doctor had no record of even a first consultation," Sam revealed, his eyes practically alight now as he recounted the details of the case. "Second victim was Kathleen Jones, a secretary vacationing with her sister when she disappeared. Kathleen broke her ankle as a teenager and was fitted with metal pins. Autopsy showed..."
"From your chirpy tone, I'll guess nothin'," Dean interjected, almost breathing a sigh of relief as he rounded the corner into Singer's automobile lot, and began to manoeuvre the Impala into her usual parking space.
"Exactly!" Sam almost yelped, slamming a balled fist on the dashboard in his excitement. "Then we have another victim discovered in the same spot, minus the glass eyes he's sported for the last thirty-two years."
"Look, Sam," Dean began, blowing out an unsteady breath through clenched teeth as he turned the keys in the ignition, and the engine quieted. "I'm not denying there's a case..."
"You just want to pass it up to someone else," Sam interrupted, looking away from his brother momentarily as he redoubled his efforts to reign in his disappointment and frustration.
"Why do you want this so bad, Sammy?" demanded Dean, unclipping his safety belt and yet making no move to exit the vehicle. "What is it about this case that's got your panties in a bunch?"
"Honestly..." Sam began, shrugging as he met Dean's gaze- wide hazel eyes affixed upon intense green, "I don't know. Something's just telling me that we gotta work this job, Dean."
"Oh that's great," Dean muttered, chuckling dryly as he rolled his eyes, "we're heading out on a hunch."
Sam opened his mouth in preparation to redouble his protests, when a smile slowly began to inch its way across his lips.
"Wait, you said, we're heading out," Sam stated, shooting Dean a hopeful look, "does that mean...?"
He allowed the question to hang in the air, the tail end unspoken, although both knew what Sam had been getting at. Heaving a sigh, Dean shot his brother a glare, which over the years the younger Winchester had realised not to question.
"Sammy," he muttered darkly, his arm swinging out towards the door handle, "you had me at glass eye."