"You will be mine."
Her hair crackled with energy, blonde tresses floating in the air, blue sparks shooting between the ends; her fingers were extended, the spell dancing along the edges and spilling out of the long blood red nails. Dark black veins marred her once porcelain skin as the magic took her, consuming her energy for the spell she was weaving.
"Over my dead body."
He held his ground, sacrificial knife in his hand, standing between her and the sobbing child. No more, he thought, there would be no more death, no more mourning parents. The witch was going to pay for the destruction she'd left in this small, once peaceful town.
"Oh, darling, why would I want you dead? I have a much bigger plan for you."
A sphere of light grew, bobbing in her palm and a chill settled over him; he hoped he'd bought enough time for his sister to save the girl and to lay down the protective runes. With an evil laugh, the witch spun the globe, its sinister light throwing her face into shadowy relief.
"Your plans are done, bitch. We're taking you down."
"Hardly, Hansel. I'm just getting started."
With a flick of her wrist, she threw the magic at him. He tried to dodge, but it expanded as it came, overtaking him before he could take more than a step to escape. Pain engulfed him, lightning shimmering down his body. Blinding white light, followed by a kaleidoscope of colors behind his eyelids, and he slammed hard into something unmovable. Then all was dark.
"Dude! I so rock this look." Dean did a little spin, showing off his costume. "Look, laces. Authentic as hell."
Sam would never admit it, but Dean knew he looked pretty good in the medieval get-up. The leather of the pants was buttery soft and worn – thank heavens for used clothing stores – and the leather vest was buckled tight around his linen shirt, wide belt tied off and sword hanging on his hip.
"Where did you get that chain mail? It looks real." Sam reached out a hand and felt the cold steel ringlets, tightly interwoven sitting on Dean's shoulders and upper chest.
"Handmade by the best blacksmith at the faire," Dean fairly crowed. "It's a loaner 'cause he liked me. You should have seen him Sam; he could make a living doing porno with that chest and long hair." And he'd managed to get the guy's number too along with the sword and mail. Plus the one of the busty beauty who helped him pick out the leather. She'd talked him into the worn brown boots that fit so comfortably he might just have to keep them.
"Good god, Dean. You ever going to grow out of your omnivorous stage?" Sam shook his head in disgust. Sammy was a one woman man, and those women were few and far between; Dean gave his little brother grief about his monogamy streak. But there were just too many sexy people in the world to not partake of what was freely offered.
"When I'm old and can't get it up anymore. But until then," he stopped to look at a tavern wench strolling by with cups of beer to sell, her ample breasts on display in a low cut pirate shirt, "I'm going to enjoy myself. Maybe you should learn to do the same."
"You know she could be one of them." Sam scanned the crowded row between the stalls, the press of people. Every age was out at this time of the afternoon; families with screaming children in tow fought for space beside young punks with low riders and knights in tabards. "We don't know who anyone really is."
"Exactly. What better way to get information than to chat up the locals? I've got a date for a drink with the shop girl later and a maybe for dinner with the blacksmith. He's a regular at these things, travels the country to sell his stuff. Makes a pretty good living that way. He'll know the regulars from the newcomers." Just the thought of the coven they were hunting made his good mood evaporate. He hated witches almost as much as he hated demons. Freakin' bitches with their hex bags and petty jealousies that ended up with dead innocents. He might enjoy poking at Sam, but his flirting had been part of his plan from the start; infiltrate and learn.
Sam gave him an appreciative look. "That makes sense. I thought I might hit up the areas kids are likely to go to see if we can find a pattern. The faire is only here for two more days; we need to figure this out before they pack up and move on to the next town."
Over seven children had gone missing in different states in the last two months. They'd been on the trail since the fifth child; the clues led right to the conclusion that witchcraft was at work. The body of the fourth kid, a cute little blonde 8-year-old, was found with the symbols painted on her still evident, despite being dumped in a wooded area. A random hiker had stumbled upon her just hours after she'd been left. But they hadn't made the connection to the Virginia Renaissance Faire until after it was already closed, the participants moving on to other states. By the time they'd tracked the various threads, two more kids were already missing – and the commonality was the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival in New Stanton, PA. The plan was simple; Sam was in his best fed suit, investigating the disappearances with the story that an amber alert had been issued for a child abduction across state lines. Dean was going native, blending in as one of the performers in the tournament; thanks to Charlie's connections in the SCA and LARPing communities, Dean was a mechanic who had just moved here from California.
"Agreed," Dean's tone changed completely as he caught sight of the approaching figure. "And that's all I can tell you about it. I wish I knew more and could help, I mean kids and all? That's sad, man. I hope you find the bastards who did it."
"There you are, Sir Fredrick!" Lord Castellan, aka Roy Montgomery, owner of a local chain of pizza parlors, strode up to them. "I see you've met Agent Deacon. Any luck so far?"
Montgomery was a large man, and he was sweating in the afternoon heat, decked out in a velvet robe with an embroidered stole and heavy gold chain of office (it was fake; Dean could see where the gold plating had rubbed off from wear around the man's neck). As the executive director of the RenFaire, as it was called, Montgomery's job was to run the day-to-day operations; unlike the King and Queen, ceremonial titles given to big donors, the Castellan's job was to make this behemoth of an event come off with as few hitches as possible. And two disappearances was a big hitch; he'd doubled down on the sweat the minute Sam had flashed his badge this morning.
"Still following leads Mr. Montgomery. I'm off to the children's area now." With a nod, Sam took off at a good clip, his long legs eating up ground towards the happy forest part of the site.
"What did he ask you?" Montgomery hissed, wiping droplets from his forehead before they ran into his eyes. His blue velvet hat had dark wet spots all over it. "I mean, I'm so worried about this. If people hear about a kidnapping at the faire …"
"Nothing much, just if I'd seen anything odd or unusual. Can't say I did since I just got here." The man seemed awfully anxious, and Dean wasn't sure if it was just the stress of the job or a sign of guilt.
"Right, yes," he nodded absently. "Actually, I came to ask if you'd help out down at the tournament field. They're having some problems with the sound system, and I thought I remembered you'd worked on that kind of electronics before? Damn thing is new, but it keeps fritzing in and out with tons of static."
Dean knew jackshit about public announcement systems, but static and misbehaving electronics were right up his alley and probably a sign of magical activity. "Sure thing. I'll wander on down and see what I can do. Sire," he remembered to add.
The jousting field wasn't far from the main food alley and shopping areas; the evening's entertainments drew in large crowds, and Montgomery was smart enough to know people passing through good smells like roasting turkey or sugary cinnamon were more likely to stop and buy something. There were even shops that sold flags emblazed with the heraldry of the various jousters for fans to wave. The biggest draws were the bands though; tonight was a performance by Rising Gael, and the concert was sold out. Dean turned off the main track and headed around behind the grandstand towards the small concrete building hidden behind the fabric of a large tent. As he passed a small corpse of trees that served as a barrier between the patrons and the work areas, the smell of creosote made his eyes water, and a spark of blue static shot out from the entrance of the control room, bridging the space between it and the metal support strut of the bleachers, singeing the air with a crackle.
"Fuck," Dean jumped back to avoid getting caught in the circuit of electricity, reaching a hand out to the wooden pole nearby to ground himself. He felt the pull of the air rushing into the building then the flash outward as a fireball engulfed the structure, showering bits of rubble in a large radius. Screams went up from the behind him as people heard and felt the explosion; even before the rain of concrete pieces stopped, he was running forward, looking for survivors. Little was left of the walls and the roof was entirely gone; circling he saw no movement inside or out until he walked a little way into the trees that crowded at the smoking back wall still half-intact. A groan drew his attention; a black boot stuck out from a smoking … literally smoking … dark leather coat. Dropping to one knee, Dean turned the man over.
"Dude? You okay?" He ran his hand up the man's neck; a weak pulse, but steady, beat there beneath a layer of soot and grime. Dean took quick stock of the man's condition; leather pants, leather vest … very authentic too, not some newbie then but a regular worker at the Faire … and an assortment of weapons. Huh. Dean leaned down to look at the shotgun still loosely held in the man's left hand, the well-oiled and cared-for knife on his belt, and the definitely used crossbow on the ground beside him. Those weren't new or for show; they bore all the marks of constant use.
"What the fuck happened?" The man rasped out as a hand closed around Dean's throat, constricting his air and holding him tight; blue-grey stormy eyes were open and staring at him with an angry glare. With a sharp arm movement, Dean broke the man's hold, locked his fingers around the wrist just above the fingerless glove and dropped his other knee down on the man's other hand, immobilizing the man.
"There was an explosion. You've been hurt; I'm just trying to help." Dean argued. Then the sky tilted and Dean was on his back being straddled by a leather-clad Matrix reject, muzzle of that damn shotgun under his chin so tight he felt the vibration in his gut when the man cocked it. Two things went through his mind: first … that damn gun looked for the world like a giant penis. He was going to get his head blown off by a cock gun. And, second, this guy was freakin' hot. Like, forget everything and fuck me now hot.
"Where is she? Where's Cassandra?"
"Look, dude, you just got blown out of a burning building. I think maybe a few eggs got scrambled." Dean spoke slowly and kept his hands still, not wanting to give the guy any reason to pull the trigger. "I don't know any Cassandra. Was she with you inside? 'Cause if she was, I'm afraid I've got some bad news for you."
"Where am I?" For the first time, he seemed to become aware of his surroundings; he'd ended up facing the fire, the destruction before him. "It's daytime."
"Yeah, just a little after two in the afternoon. And you're in Pennsylvania in the good old U. S. of A at the Renaissance Festival. Ring any bells?" It might take him a few minutes, but he could add, after all. The strange static disruptions, the blue electrical bolt before the explosion, and now this guy appearing out of seemingly nowhere? Magic. That's what was going on.
Voices shouted, coming closer; the first responders were on the scene, coming to investigate. Soon, they'd be overrun with people. With a nod to himself, the man dropped the barrel to the ground. "I need to find my sister. There's a dangerous witch on the loose, and this is probably her doing."
Gobsmacked, Dean stared for a second. Cock gun, scorchingly hot (okay, even he knew that was a bad pun), and now witches? What were the odds?
"You're a hunter."
With ease, the man pushed up, his weight leaving Dean and, for a second, Dean missed it. He really needed to get laid; the hand in the shower just wasn't cutting it lately. Standing up, he tugged his leather jerkin down over his growing hard-on and offered his hand to the man who, after a moment's hesitation, took it. Dean felt the familiar callouses of someone who used weapons and fought barehanded and the smooth leather of the glove, worn in all the right places.
"Dean Winchester. Also a hunter." A man rounded the building, a hose in his hands, spray of water aimed at the structure. "But people around here think I'm Fredrick May."
"Like Hansel & Gretel Hansel?" Dean couldn't help but laugh. Using rock star names wasn't the greatest, but fairy tales?
"I see my reputation precedes me." He flashed Dean a wicked grin. "And, believe me, I'm better than what you've heard." The damn man winked at Dean. Winked. "I think we should get out of here before the constabulary show up."
"If you mean we should beat feet before there are a lot of questions, I agree."
Hansel tried to keep from staring at the people around him as he and Dean walked down the street of this odd town – a man talking into a small rectangle held to his ear, the woman rolling two children in some sort of small carriage, the young women with their arms and legs bare to the sun. So much was familiar, but most of it was slightly off. The outfits, for example. Not that Dean didn't look … good … in those leather pants, but chain mail? Nobody wore chain mail in Hansel's time. And the men dressed as knights roaming around mixed with people in the oddest clothes. None of it made sense. But then neither did Cassandra sending him here.
"Sir Fredrick!" Montgomery called from behind them; Hansel hid the shotgun under the coat folded over his arm as they turned to see the sweating man catching up to them. "I'm glad to see you're alright. We couldn't find you at the tournament grounds. What a mess. Electrical fire. At least we have a backup system since that breakdown a few years ago." His eyes fell on Hansel.
"This is my friend … William. William Grimm. But he goes by the name of Hansel."
"Hansel? As in Hansel and Gretel?" The man did a slow survey of Hansel's clothes and body; he felt a shiver of distaste at the man's obvious interest. Why the hell did everyone know their names?
"Yes, but I'm not a big fan of candy." He saw Dean bite back a grin.
"Great outfit. Very realistic. Who made it?" The man had such a cavalier attitude towards the dead and destruction that had just occurred; he didn't seem worried at all.
"My sister." Telling the truth was often the easiest option.
"Oh, she's good. She should have a stall here. I'd love a vest like that." Before Hansel realized what he was doing, the man had a hand on his chest. His first impulse was to punch the son-of-a-bitch, but then he felt the weight of an arm around his shoulder and the whisper of breath against his cheek seconds before Dean's face leaned towards his.
"Guess I wasn't clear, Roy. William's my partner." Warm lips brushed Hansel's cheek, little tendrils of heat crawling under his skin from Dean's feather light touch.
"Oh, um, well, of course. Didn't mean to start anything, Fred. Didn't realize you were gay." Montgomery stepped back quickly, dropping his hand. "I better get on with the clean-up. Lots to do." He practically scurried away.
"Yeah, sorry about that. But hey, for what it's worth, he didn't hit on me at all. Must like dark-haired, short, muscle bound guys." Dean was joking again, a sparkle of mischief in his eyes.
"Short?" he asked when Dean's arm slipped away. "And what is 'gay'?"
"Guys who are into guys. Sexually." Dean answered.
"You're … gay?" Hansel was surprised at how openly people talked about it; he'd spent most of his life hiding the fact that women didn't turn him on. Gretel always believed that it was his hatred for witches that made him avoid girls, but he knew it was just the way he had always been.
"Me? I'm into equal opportunity; man, woman, if I find them attractive, I'm open to the idea." The damn man wiggled his eyebrows at that terrible double entendre. Holy hell, but Dean had just admitted to sleeping with men. And Hansel found that fact entirely too arousing to deal with – this whole adventure just kept getting more surreal.
"And you just talk about it? Tell people?" Hansel wondered aloud. "Aren't you worried about the Church?"
Dean stopped and stared at him, a question in his eyes. Grabbing his arm, Dean dragged him between two stalls. "Okay, what the hell, man? The Church? What do you think this is, the 14th century?"
"More like the 18th. At least that's what it was this morning when I woke up."
"Shit." Dean breathed, head hanging down for a second. "Shit. Only in my fucked up life. The real freaking Hansel shows up right out of the fairytale."
A woman came down the small trail, heading into the back of the stalls; Dean smiled at her and winked, leaning into Hansel and bracing his hand on the wooden wall. With a knowing smile, she continued on her way, and the two men stayed that way, Dean's face close to Hansel's after she'd turned the corner.
"What the hell is a fairytale, and, more importantly, where the hell am I?" Hansel demanded.
"2009." Dean was far too close for comfort, but he made no move to pull away, voice quiet between them. "How did you get here?"
"A witch's spell. Gretel and I were hunting a coven that was kidnapping kids." He saw the change immediately in Dean's eyes, recognition and the steely determination of a true hunter.
"Seven kids so far; two from here. We think they're using the faire to pick the victims." Dean told him.
"There will be thirteen in all. That's what they need to make the ritual work." It was too much of a coincidence, him ending up here where the same exact thing was going on. Again.
"… and I told him to get the off the damn computer and pay attention to me or I was leaving." The two women strolled into view, deep in conversation, blonde and brunette heads tilted toward each other. "Can you imagine? He prefers World of Warcraft to sex?"
Hansel's blood ran cold at the familiar voice, words grating along his nerves.
"I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be," he murmured. Catching the edge of Dean's mail, he pulled the other man towards him, lining their bodies so the Dean's back blocked the women's view; he brought those kissable lips to his, a light brush of the lower, fuller lip first and then firmer, tilting his head for a better angle to hide his face and body. Dean caught his breath, lips parting in surprise, and then he was taking control, pressing Hansel's back into the wall, hand curling along Hansel's neck, thumb running along his jawline. His tongue invaded, nothing easy and gentle about it, demanding a reply; Hansel answered, tongues tangling together in a war of dominance that he wasn't sure he wanted to win. Someone groaned, a deep sensual sound as mouths slanted and moved and broke apart and dived back in; with a start, he realized it had come from him when Dean's teeth nipped at his lip, sucking it in.
"See? Why can't he be romantic like that?" The woman continued to complain as she and her friend walked away. "Just once I want him to slam me up against a wall and kiss me like he means it …."
They could stop now. Really. Hansel knew it with the rational part of his brain, but it wasn't his brain in control right now, it was his very interested and very hard dick that made him want to fall back into Dean's lips and keep kissing and discovering each other.
Dean was the one who finally pulled back, not far, but enough. "Yeah, I'm not sorry either, for the record. Now who were you avoiding?"
"Cassandra. The witch who sent me here."