The movie theatre was dark, regal, silent. A lone figure sat in the middle chair of the centre row, his elbows on the plush armrests, his fingers interlaced. His eyes were fixed on the large pair of dark red curtains, obscuring the screen, waiting, perhaps, for something to begin.
A side door opened far to the man's right, throwing pale light across the room half-heartedly, as if actually lighting up the place was too much effort. A tall figure paused right in the doorway. "Dean?" it called. "Is that you?"
"Sam - what are you doing here?" the seated figure replied.
The taller newcomer walked in, closing the door behind him. He found the correct row and edged down it with care, stopping to sit in the comfortable seat next to the watcher. "No idea, man. I think I was doing something important. I just can't remember what it was," he shrugged. "How did you, ahm, get here?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. One minute I was… doing something real urgent, the next… I was outside the door of a cinema. Had to come in, right?" Dean asked.
"So… Any idea what we were doing before this?"
"None. But… I get the feeling we should be watching something."
"No, really?" Sam said, flashing a smile in the darkness. "In a cinema? Great detective work, Dean."
"Why else would we be here?" Dean asked. "Thing is, I been here… a while. I mean, I think I have. Nothing's happening, man. And there's no-one else here. Something's not right."
"There was no-one outside, either," Sam said. "Why are we the only ones here?"
"I got a better question," Dean said. "How did we both get in here if we didn't buy any tickets?"
As one, the men leant forward in their seats, their hands delving into back pockets of jeans. They both fished out a slip of paper. Dean lifted his closer to try to read it. He went into his other pocket and retrieved a baby Maglite. He twisted it on, read the slip, and then sat up straight in surprise.
"What?" Sam demanded.
The beam of light from Dean's torch stretched for the ticket in Sam's hand. "What does yours say?" he asked.
Sam read the black print. His face screwed up in patent confusion. "It says 'Three Days Ago'." He looked at his brother. "I don't get it."
"Me either." Dean shone the Maglite back on his own ticket.
Sam stared around the auditorium, shaking his head. "Let me see this again," he said, taking the flashlight from his brother. He pointed the beam at his ticket. "Dude, this ticket says six pounds fifty," he stressed. "Six pounds."
"That's a heavy ticket," Dean blinked.
"No, it's currency. It's British currency."
"You mean we're in a British cinema?"
"I guess," Sam shrugged. He flicked the light up, casting it around the room. "Huh."
"Huh," Dean echoed. "How did we get here?"
"I don't know," Sam said faintly.
"Do you remember anything about… not being in America?" Dean asked quietly.
"No. -Wait," Sam said. "I think… maybe… Something about… a plane?"
"Wow. That's good detective work," Dean snorted.
"Shut up," Sam grumped. "Let me think."
Silence pervaded every inch of the huge room.
Finally: "A plane. From Illinois. I remember being in Illinois," Dean muttered.
"I… just can't remember," Sam said. He looked at the paper still in his hand.
"You think it has something to do with these magic tickets?" Dean asked.
"Maybe," Sam shrugged. "Do you remember anything else?"
"Uh… maybe. Some airplane chick… red uniform, blonde, about five-six tall… Debbi," he murmured. "Her name was Debbi. She said… Oh!" he said, looking at Sam. "She said 'you boys have a good time in London'."
"London! So we must have got on a plane," Sam said. "We just need to remember why."
"Get thinking, Sammy. This feels really wrong."
"You get thinking first," Sam shot back. "Just concentrate. Think about Debbi - what happened after you spoke to her. What did you do next?"
Dean began to shrug, but then froze. Both men heard the hum of power and the scrape and swish of curtains opening. They turned to look ahead of the seats, finding the tall, heavy curtains drawing apart slowly. The screen flickered into life in a way that made them both squint at the bright white writing on the black background.
The Winchesters exchanged a look. Then they got comfortable and concentrated on the movie that was beginning to unfold. They squinted, seeing themselves caught on film. As they watched themselves talk and walk on the big screen, Dean pulled out his cinema ticket again. He looked down at it, shining the torch on it.
Sam sniffed, bemused in a worried, almost-freaked-out kind of way as his eyes refused to leave the film. "Uhm… That's us, dude. That's us."
"Yeah," Dean muttered.
"Why is that us?"
"I don't know." He stared at the ticket.
"What's this movie supposed to be called again?"
Dean looked up. "Apparently, it's called
THREE DAYS AGO
"Well that was a nightmare," Dean said with a whole suitcase full of false cheer, dragging himself to stand behind Sam in the queue of people. "This better be an easy gig."
"It probably won't," Sam said, tucking his passport and plane ticket stub into the back pocket of his jeans. He put both arms out in front of him and and stretched, yawning for an Olympic medal. "Just make sure you don't forget your alias when the nice man asks you."
"I got it."
"Seriously - these people look pretty irritable already," Sam said as he eyed the wooden box-like counter. The man sitting behind it, his midnight blue sweater with a lanyard swinging about on top, looked like he had had better days losing money on a horse race.
"I said I got it," Dean hissed, as the line crept forward. He counted the six people in front of them, then looked over at the far left. "How come they get to go through the big magic gate thing?" he protested, as the people that way seemed to fly through the large metal-detector-like exits.
"Because they're locals," Sam said. "What are you going to say to the guy?"
"Uhm… We're on vacation, we want to see dear old England, and we'll be here for ten days," he intoned.
"Right. Remember that."
"I still don't see why we had to come all the way to the UK for this gig. Why are we chasing rumours across continents?"
"Because it sounds too much like our kind of thing, that's why," Sam said, turning and looking down at him. "It disappears from Illinois and a few days later there's an identical case in London? After the man that we thought was dead bought the plane tickets himself? Definitely our gig."
"But why come here? We just spent eight hours on a flight, Sam. A flight. Do you know how long that is in creeping-fear years?"
Sam couldn't stop himself from smiling. "I get it."
"No, I don't think you do!" Dean protested. "You were asleep. How you can sleep for eight hours on a friggin' plane I'll never know." The line moved again. Sam turned back to follow it, Dean shuffling up behind him. "And we weren't supposed to bring any of our work gear with us. What happens when we find this thing? We need stuff to kill it," he went on, keeping his voice low.
"I'm sure England has fire and silver and sharp implements too. A lot of the monsters we hunt originated in Europe, don't forget," Sam smiled. Then he paused, turning to look down slightly at his brother. "Wait - what do you mean, 'supposed to'?"
"Do you honestly think I'd come to a foreign continent naked?" Dean hissed. "I still got a knife."
Sam pouted as if he could make his brother melt through the floor by sheer willpower. He bent a short way to bring his face closer. "You mean to tell me you smuggled a six-inch Bowie knife out of the U.S.?" he hissed.
Dean shrugged with a whole truckload of defensive pride. "Kinda." Sam huffed at him. "Hey," Dean protested, "I got skills."
"That's not the point, Dean!" Sam hissed. "What if they find it on you getting in here? Do you know what they'll do with us?"
"I ain't comin' here without protection, Sam!" he hissed back. "And it was just sitting there in the freaky bastard's chowin'-down pad!"
"I told you to leave it there!" Sam hissed back.
"Hey, a free weapon is a free weapon, Sam."
Sam opened his mouth, but no words decided to jump out and cause a ruckus. He turned deliberately, straightening up and looking at the people in line ahead of him.
"And my car's back at O'Hare airport," Dean pressed. "What if something happens to her?"
Sam's eyes were already poised for an eyeroll, but a huge huff got out instead. "You paid the guy to take special care of her, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Cost me a game of pool," Dean admitted.
"Then quit whining. And pray they don't find that knife."
The line moved again. They found themselves at the yellow line, waiting for an audience with the man behind Passport Control.
Sam pulled the passport out of his back pocket, making sure the many white and green slips for entry were filled in and ready on top of the photo identity page. He looked over his shoulder at Dean. "Ready?"
" 'Spose," Dean muttered. He fished inside his black jacket and found the inside pocket, complete with passport.
"Who did these for us, anyway?" Sam asked, admiring the handiwork that must have gone into the fake travel documents.
"Barry. Cost me another two games of pool," Dean said clearly.
"It was worth it. These are awesome," Sam admitted.
"As long as they work," Dean shrugged. "I don't want to get arrested in a place that looks like time stopped about 1970."
"Then maybe you shouldn't have brought the knife," Sam said. The man behind the counter was waving him forward. He motioned to himself and Dean, a question on his face. The man looked past them, saw the millions of people behind, and nodded wearily. "Let's go," Sam said as he looked back at Dean. "Biggest smile. Best behaviour."
"Alright!" he protested, following.
They stopped in front of the desk, putting their passports and associated gubbins on the desk in front of the man.
"Reason for your visit?" he asked slowly.
"Holiday, sir," Sam said with a wide, toothy smile, that spoke of falling in line and blind faith in the Powers That Be to do their job in an orderly fashion.
"Right." He flicked open the first passport, going through the pages. "First trip abroad?"
"Yes sir," Sam nodded cheerfully. "First time on an international flight."
"And where are you staying?" he asked.
"Oh, around London. We want to see the city."
The man paused and looked Sam over very carefully. He flicked to the page with the photo, studying it and then looking back at Sam. He pulled the landing papers from the pages, turning to a computer on the desk.
"Excuse me. Do you know where we can get coffee?" Dean asked urgently.
The man opened his mouth but got stuck on something on Sam's passport. He looked up at him with a small smile, then back down at the passport. Finally, still smiling, he looked up again. His eyes went to Dean. "There are loads of coffee shops just outside baggage reclaim, sir," he said.
"Really?" Dean asked, his face lighting up. "Sweet."
The man took Dean's passport from the counter, flicking through. "First time abroad for you as well then, sir?" he asked, finding the pages empty.
"Yes sir," Dean nodded. The man studied his face, then flicked to the photo in the back of the passport. His eyes whipped up to Dean. Then he looked back down at the passport. His head tilted in bemusement.
If I didn't know better, I'd say he's trying not to laugh, Sam thought rather warily.
The man's right hand went out to a small microphone on the desk. He pressed the button in the base. "Security to desk four, please. Security to desk four," he said quietly.
The two Winchesters looked at each other, mirroring the other's look of alarm. The man let go of the button and turned back to them.
"I'm sure it's nothing, gentlemen," he said calmly. His face still appeared to be laughing its socks off on the inside. "If you'd just like to step into a little interview room, it won't take more than a few minutes to clear this up."
Sam and Dean looked around just as a man and a woman appeared, dressed in the kind of military-looking apparel people who worked at night wore for cover.
The woman stopped by the desk. "What's the problem?" she asked.
The man handed over the two passports. "See for yourself," he said, and a smile broke through.
She opened them and flicked to the names. Then she grinned before she managed to cough out a controlling breath. She looked back at them. "If you'll come with us, please."
"Aw, man," Dean whined. "We were just gettin' closer to the coffee."
"I'd be more worried about our apparent passport problem," Sam hissed at him.
The woman smiled at them both, but Sam judged it to be more laughing at them than being polite. "This way, please." She walked off, the other security man waiting and watching.
Sam pushed at Dean's elbow and they followed quickly. The man brought up the rear, and they were marched into a small room. The smoked glass walls and the open, white feeling to everything made them relax, the possibility of a strip-search having been reduced to zero. As the man shut the door behind them, they wandered to the middle of the room. Sam put his hands in his pockets, turning to direct the full impenetrable force of his most earnest expression on the shorter woman. She looked at him for a long moment, then appraised Dean.
"Take a seat, please," she said politely.
The brothers looked at each other before pulling out the cheap, light metal chairs. They sat, Dean almost falling off the edge in a way that made the two immigration officers pretend they weren't smiling.
"This is your first visit to the UK, is it?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am," Sam nodded.
"And you two have never been here before?"
"No, ma'am," he said, with so much innocence she wanted to reach out and stroke his hair.
Instead she leant on the table in front of them, watching them both very carefully. "How old are your passports?"
"Uhm…" Sam looked at Dean. He shrugged. Sam looked back at the woman. "A coupla weeks, I guess."
"And these are your first passports?"
"Yeah," Sam shrugged.
She nodded, standing back and folding her arms. "I see."
"Look, lady, what's this all about?" Dean asked rather testily. "I been on an airplane for eight hours and I just want-"
"You really have no idea, do you?" she grinned.
"Well that much is obvious," Dean said under his breath.
She shook her head. "Please, stay here. Do you want anything whilst you wait?"
"Wait for what?" Sam asked.
"Coffee," Dean nodded. He caught the way Sam stared at him. All he could do was shrug.
She shook her head again, this time more resigned than dismissive. "Alright. You two stay here. I'll have coffee brought to you."
She turned and walked out, leaving the two of them to take stock of the single officer by the door. Tall, dark, and impossibly unamused, the way he glared at them with his hands behind his back made them both look back at the table.
"When we get back," Dean muttered, "I'm going to find Barry. And then I'm going to-"
Dean twisted in the cinema seat. He looked back behind the seats, at the projection room above. The black window was opaque, but that didn't stop him. "Woah! Hey! Pause it! Hey! Woah horsey!"
The film ground to a halt, Sam staring at the picture of them on the large screen. "What?" he asked urgently, his eyes interrogating the image before them.
"I remember this. I mean, I do now," Dean said. "Do you?"
"Yeah. Weird. It's like… I totally forgot I knew this. But now I've seen it, I remember that… I remember it. Does that make sense?" Sam asked innocently.
"No. Which means, yeah, for us it does," Dean nodded. He twisted in the seat again, raising a hand. But he stopped short, clapping a hand over his left eye. He looked up suspiciously.
"What is it?" Sam asked.
Dean let go of his face, blinking experimentally. "Nothin'. Just felt like something in my eye." He sniffed, made his arm drop, and got comfortable in the seat. He raised his voice, over his shoulder: "Ok, dude! Roll it!"
Sam grinned even as they heard motors gearing up. "Dude. Do you really think you can make the film start up just by-"
"-beat my money out of him. Then I'm going to get a real huge cheeseburger. And coffee," Dean finished on the screen. He frowned at the desk in front of him as if it owed him a hundred dollars. Sam was too busy turning on his phone and dealing with the fact that there did not appear to be any free wi-fi in a helpful radius. He drew in a deep breath, let his brows knit together as if only a new jumper would convey his disgust, and then huffed in such a way that even the immigration officer by the door appeared impressed.
Dean frowned, Sam waited. He watched the minutes, then the hour, tick by on the large, silent clock over the door.
Eventually, the door opened and the woman came back in, followed by two men. The first one was taller, with almost black, wayward hair. His long dark blue coat and carelessly knotted scarf looked very warm indeed, but his eyes were anything but. The other man, shorter and chunkier in a very reliable-looking way, had lighter hair and a more easy-going air to his stride. They stopped with the woman, looking at the two visitors.
"Interesting," said the taller man.
"What is?" Dean asked immediately.
"You two. Well, this is quite a turn-up for your blog, eh John?" he said with a smile, swishing to his right to look at the shorter man. He was watching the two Winchesters, his head slightly tilted.
"Look, sir, if you could just explain to us what we're doing in here," Sam began slowly, "then maybe we can help you-"
"So you are American, at least," the man said, putting his right hand out, palm up, to the side. The shorter man didn't even look away from Sam. He slapped two passports into the man's waiting hand. The taller man flicked through and found the identity pages. He lifted one in each hand, looking from the picture to each man carefully. "Hmm. Good photo work. Poor fixings. Pretty good inkwork…" He trailed off, his eyes narrowing on some small detail he had noticed on one passport. Then he snapped them both shut, his attention crawling up and down Sam in meticulous interrogation. "You should have… No." He turned his head to stare at Dean, and his eyes picked through every detail of the eldest Winchester. "You should have paid for better forgeries. These are terrible."
"Sorry," Dean said with a smile that Sam knew was a warning in its sweetness. "Didn't have time to run them past Forgeries R Us for a proper check."
The man nodded, looking back at Sam. His eyes ran up and down him, then turned back to Dean.
"What do you want to do with them, sir?" the woman asked.
Sam and Dean waited.
The man put his hands behind his back, the passports in his hands. "What do you think, John?" he asked, still watching the two men.
"I would like to know what they're doing here," the shorter man admitted.
The taller man turned to the female immigration officer. "Leave us. We'll have all this cleared up in a few minutes."
"Yes, yes, I know," the man tutted, flapping a hand at her. "You can't leave them without an officer in the room or you're breaking some law or other. Well you can stay, then - but he has to go," he said tersely, indicating the other man still looming in the corner. "He's affecting the IQ level."
Dean blinked in surprise, Sam's mouth hung open, but the woman simply looked at her uniform shoes. She turned and spoke quietly to the man and then he left. She closed the door behind him and then turned back to watch, her hands behind her back.
"Now then," the man said, his attention back on Dean. "What have you come for? What are you working on?"
"What?" Dean asked dumbly.
The man's eyes narrowed. "Start at the beginning. Fill in the pieces I'm missing, please."
"Sir," Sam said, leaning forward and pinning the man with his best and brightest version of earnest puppy-dog eyes, "we just came for a holiday."
"He looks pretty innocent to me," the shorter man observed.
"RSPCA adverts work on you," the taller man tutted. "Tell us everything," he snapped at Sam.
"Look, honestly, sir - we don't even know why we've been detained."
The shorter man scoffed, then began to chuckle. "Do you really expect us to believe that?" he asked. He took the passports from the taller man's hands. He opened them up and splayed the photo page of each, as if the owners had never seen them before. "Who are you?"
"It's right there in official ink, pal," Dean said irritably. "We're still waiting for coffee, here."
"Do you have any idea of the trouble you're in?" the fairer man demanded. "Fake passports, impersonating citizens-"
The taller man's eyes flicked from one Winchester to another. "Save your breath, John," he advised, and the other man dropped the open passports to the table in disgust. "These two aren't afraid of a little red tape. They've got bigger problems," the taller man mused.
"What do you know?" Dean muttered resentfully.
"Oh god," the shorter man breathed, his eyes rolling so fast Dean had to accept that they were good competition for Sam's.
"I know you're brothers, that you've come direct from Illinois with one bag each in check-in, probably a duffle by the marks on your jackets, and that you're here on business. You're afraid of flying so whatever this thing is, it's important enough for you to tolerate a seven and half hour flight. Your… younger brother left the fake passports up to you, and you asked someone you didn't entirely trust to arrange them for you. I know you don't have regular jobs so you would have scrounged the money through gambling, possibly pool if the elbow of your jacket is anything to go by. It's a new jacket but your brother doesn't like it - which means it either replaced a family heirloom or he resents how easily you adapt to loss. You have some dealings in the occult as if it's more than a hobby. Your younger brother does all the studying and you do all the planning - not very well, I'm afraid, a point to which your current predicament will attest." He sniffed, looking down at them both, his hands behind his back. "Did I get anything wrong?"
The Winchesters stared up at him, suitably gobsmacked.
"Dude, he's like Missouri," Sam hissed from the side of his mouth.
Worry hijacked Dean's face. "Oh crap - am I going to get whacked with a spoon?"
"What I'd like you to tell me," the taller man went on, "is why you're really here."
"What's it to you?" Dean managed. "You're not Immigration. You're not even the police."
"Oh?" the man asked, a wisp of a smile on his lips. "And how did you arrive at that conclusion?"
"Your shoes are expensive," Dean shrugged.
The man smiled. He swished in a circle to look at the shorter man, who shook his head at him. He spun back and grinned. "I don't believe we've been introduced," he said, pulling his hands from behind his back and thrusting out his right. "Sherlock Holmes," he announced. "And this is my colleague, Doctor Watson. Doctor John Watson."
Sam and Dean looked at each other, then at the names on the open passports on the table.
"Yes," Sherlock said with a smile. "Looks like your forger friend took your money and had a little fun at your expense." He paused to tilt his head at Dean. "So, Mr Fake Sherlock Holmes - what's your real name?"
Wow - it's been a very long time since I've done a Supernatural fic. Thanks for reading this far, folks - we're a long way from the end.