A/N: I just want to say thank you to you all for reading, reviewing, favouriting and alerting. Hey look, a new year, a longer chapter, and enjoy the little mystery I'm leaving you here.
2008 – January
"Chaaaarrrlotte," the voice sang. She closed her eyes and tried to force her breathing into nothing but quiet whispers. "Chaaarrrlotte," the voice said again, this time closer. A small whimper left her mouth and she squeezed her eyes tighter shut, her back pressed into the wooden wall, the fear climbing the insides of her ribs.
The sound of footsteps echoed and she held her breath when they stopped by the door she was behind. In the slither of light underneath the door she could see the shadow of feet stop and she slapped a hand over her mouth.
There was a faint memory of pain, torture, and more pain. Lots of pain. She needed to get away from him before he could cause more pain, but she was trapped and cornered in a cupboard and he was right there. All he would need to do was open the door and she was his. That thought dug up the fear of what was to come and she let her eyes water.
"Charlotte," he said in a low, sweet whisper, "no more hiding. Let's get this over with shall we?"
Through her tears she managed to twist her face into a glare and stood. Fear clawed itself over every inch of her fibre, but she was damned if she was going to sit back and do nothing. Her bottom lip quivered she fixed her eyes on the door handle. It wriggled and shook for a few seconds. Any bravado she'd had quickly disappeared and she found herself slowly falling against the back wall.
She closed her eyes, sunk to her knees and waited, prayed that it wouldn't hurt as much, and waited.
She lifted her head and blinked back the tears. Maybe it was a trick. It wouldn't be the first time. Her heart hammered in her chest and she wiped at her face with the backs of her hands, listening.
"Charlotte?" She frowned. That sounded an awful lot like Dean. "Charlotte?"
It took her a few false starts to find her voice, but she managed a, "Dean?"
Her hand grabbed the handle and she pushed the door open. Sure enough, Dean Winchester stood there, a look of utter confusion on his face. Charlotte turned her eyes to the room, her chest still beating a little bit too hard against her ribs. "You found me?"
Dean frowned and took a step towards her, "Yeah, well me and Sammy had to take some of that Dream Root stuff. Sam's trying to wake Bobby up right now."
She stared at him, her brows furrowed. "What? Dream root? What's wrong with Bobby?" Before Dean could say anything there was the echoed sound of drumming fingers and her heart stilled. Her face fell and she turned towards a set of doors that were open. "We gotta go," she said.
As she turned Dean grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards himself, "Charlotte, what's going on?"
She stared at him, her face a mixture of fear and anger at him, "We have to go Dean. Before he gets us."
Dean's brows dropped further into a frown and he said, "This is a dream."
Now she was the one confused. "What?"
"None of this is real," he planted his hands on her shoulders, "it's all a dream."
Over his shoulder she watched the guy appear, his face a bright mixture of light twisted into a strangely beautiful face that she just knew had evil lurking inside of it. "He's not real is he?"
She watched Dean's head turn to see what she was talking about. The guy tilted his head to one side and she watched his mouth twist into a sardonic smile. "Charlotte," he said, his voice sweet, "you ran out before I could finish." He raised his hand and she flinched.
"Run," she whispered, pulling on Dean's arm and pulling him through another door. When he was through she slammed the door shut and pressed her back against it.
Dean stood in front of her, his eyes on the door, her and back. "Who is that?"
She shook her head, trying to drag the name up from somewhere deep within her mind. But there wasn't one. Just pain. "I don't know," she said.
His confusion came back and he pressed himself against the door as the guy thudded against it and jerked the door handle into her back. "Who is he?"
"I don't know!"
"Then why are you running from him?"
She turned fearful eyes up at him and shook her head, her mouth clamped shut. She couldn't explain it, couldn't put it into words that she just knew that he was the source of a lot of pain.
"Chaaaaarrrlotte," the voice sang again and she whimpered, pinching her eyes shut, "open the door Charlotte. I just want to check something. It won't take long. Open the door Charlotte," he said, "you can trust me."
Her head was jerked up as Dean grabbed her face in his hands. "Listen to me," he said, "this is a dream." She shook her head, her eyes moving towards the door. He pulled her back and said, "Charlotte, do you trust me?"
There was another bang on the door and she jumped, her hands coming up to rest on his. "Dean," she whined, her voice watery and on the verge of tears.
"Please," he said, "trust me. This isn't real. Snap out of it. The moment you give in you die and I know that you don't want to die."
She blinked watery eyes at him, frowned and eyed the door as it gave another bang.
"You're dreaming," he said.
She pulled her eyes back to his and said, "You promise?"
He smiled and nodded, pressing his head to hers, "Yes." She closed her eyes and listened to his voice, "Take control."
She focused, concentrated on sending him away, on being alone with Dean. The banging stopped and she opened her eyes. Dean stepped back, opened the door and she stared at the empty space. "It's a dream," she said.
"Yes," Dean said, "now wake up."
She jerked awake in bed, her chest heaving and her eyes wide. Hospital. She was in a hospital and she turned wild eyes about the room. Bobby was sat in the other bed, panting the same as her and she dropped her head. "A dream," she repeated to herself, holding her head in her hands. She closed her eyes and tried to scrub the fear out of her system. She didn't know the guy, but somehow the emotions she felt were familiar. Had she seen him before? Met him?
"You okay?" Bobby said.
She nodded and forced herself to look at him with a small smile, "Yeah. You?"
He nodded, "I've had better days."
She laughed and slowly let herself fall back against the pillow. "Yeah." The next few minutes consisted of Doctors and Nurses bustling around them, asking them questions, taking blood and checking vitals. It wasn't long after they left that Dean entered with a pile of papers in his hands. Charlotte shuffled in her seat, dropping her eyes to the bed.
"Hey," he said, "you two okay?"
"Yeah, thanks to your brother," Bobby said.
Charlotte lifted her eyes and forced a smile onto her face, "I'm good."
Dean held her gaze for a few seconds and she looked away first. There would questions but there would be no answers. "Well," he said, "I'm glad. You have nightmares too?"
That pulled her eyes up and she looked up to see Dean looking at Bobby, putting the paper onto his bed. Bobby nodded, "Yep. Wasn't pretty." His eyes turned to her and he said, "Bad?"
She nodded, "Yeah. Erm," she cleared her throat and shuffled in her seat, "just some stuff I thought I'd dealt with."
There was a look from both of them and she shrugged her shoulders, dropping her eyes back to her bed. Footsteps made her look up to see Dean dump a load of papers onto her bed as well before he perched himself on the edge of it. She grabbed at the paper, ignoring the feeling of his eyes boring into her.
Sam entered then and she lifted her eyes to see Dean still looking at her. She just stared, a tired expression on her face and went back to the papers. "Hey," Sam said and she glanced at Sam, "glad to see you're both alright."
"As good as can be," Bobby said.
Charlotte's eyes drifted to Bobby, to Sam, to Dean and back to the papers. "Yeah," Sam said and she heard his voice begin to lower, "look, I'm sorry about that, erm, that stuff, with your wife."
She lifted her eyes back up with surprise and turned to look at Bobby. The guy kept his eyes fixed on Sam and said, "Don't apologise. Everybody got into hunting somehow." There was a pause before he carried on, "Look Sam, thanks. If it weren't for you I'd still be lost in there. Or dead."
Charlotte moved her eyes to Dean and caught him giving her a look out of the corner of his eyes. She gave him a tight smile and dropped her eyes again. "Was he in his dorm?" Dean asked.
"No," Sam said, "my guess is that he's long gone by now."
She tuned out as the three guys started talking about Jeremy and his story. The guys face was still imprinted on her mind and she frowned, trying to remember where she'd seen it. It wasn't exactly a face. It was something more along the lines of smears of light that resembled some kind of face. It creeped her out and she kicked herself, knowing that something like that should've been pretty memorable, and more than just a few feelings.
"Before we knew it was him he offered us a beer. We drank it. Dumbest friggin' thing." She tuned back in at that point and gave Sam a sheepish expression.
"Oh I don't know," Dean said and she turned frowning eyes in his direction. "It wasn't that dumb."
"Dean," she said.
"You didn't," Sam said.
"I was thirsty," Dean said.
"Great," Sam said, his voice rising, "now he can come after any of you."
"We'll just have to find him first," Dean said.
"And fast," Charlotte said. She put her hand on Dean's shoulder and said, "be ready to coffee up cause none of us are sleeping til we've got him."