Author's Note: Many thanks to BlackIceWitch for the awesome cover art for this story and for beta-reading it. Any mistakes still present are definitely mine. This is my first attempt at writing fan fiction, so I hope you like it.
I knew the second they burst through the window, there was something different about them.
At first, I thought they were goofing around, y'know, just having a private joke between themselves. When I watched them get to their feet and look around, I knew it was something else. Something had really happened. I just didn't know what it was.
I'm getting ahead of myself here. I'm one of two script co-ordinators for a television studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. I live in a nothing one bedroom apartment about five minutes walk from the job, and I spend twelve to fifteen hours a day at work. Sounds like a sucky life, doesn't it? It's not too bad. I don't have pets or plants. Just the job.
Twenty-seven years old. Married once, what a friggin' disaster that was. Five foot five in my bare feet, about ninety pounds soaking wet. I always wanted long hair, some romantic and noticeable shade – red or white-blonde or even raven-black, wavy and able to be tossed back over a shoulder with a grand gesture when needed. No such luck. Mine's a non-descript reddish brown. It's curly and thick and when I tried to grow it long it looked like I'd spent the night in a chimney, being dragged up and down by my feet, most mornings, so I finally gave up and cut it all off. It's what my hairdresser, who's pushing sixty, coyly refers to as 'gamine' now – or on a good day, she'll call it a 'pixie' cut. Whatever that means. Basically it's short back and sides and the curls take all the 'gamine' and 'pixie' out of it, and aside from occasionally being mistaken for a guy from the back, it's okay. She streaked the tips. So now it's two-tone, like an old Buick. It's quick to wash anyway.
I started working for the studio out of high school, thanks to my Uncle Harold knowing someone who knew someone, yada yada, and I've worked on two series so far, the current one being my favourite. Yeah, okay, more than a favourite, more like an obsession really.
It's the characters. Not the actors, I should explain this up front because although they're nice guys and all, they're not any different to anyone else. No, it was Dean and Sam Winchester that got me started on the downward spiral. So, y'see, when they came out through the window, I really knew. Straight away.
"Cut!" Bobby yelled. "Jared, Jensen, outstanding! That was great!"
Mark held up the slate and said, "Supernatural Scene One, echo, take one. Tail slate. Marker!"
I was watching the scene because I had to give them the script updates for the scenes that were being shot later on. I watched them get off the mattress, muttering to each other and looking around as the director and DoP complained about something to do with the signal. I've worked with the actors for six years. I know them. Whoever the look-alikes standing in front of the broken were, it wasn't them.
Before I could even get going the annoying blonde reporter from Prime Time TV had grabbed Sam and Connie, our so-called make up artist, who apparently thinks everyone looks their best in some variable shade of orange, had grabbed Dean.
Sam didn't have a clue of what the woman standing in front of him, and showing a mouth that looked like it could've subbed for Jaws, was talking about. He looked around in confusion for his brother, but Dean was on the other side of the stage, staring in disbelief at an orange-smeared Kleenex. These two guys looked like the actors, they sounded like the actors, but there was no just no way they were the actors.
Dean stumbled out of the chair and across the stage and I hurried over to him, intercepting him when he stopped to look around for Sam.
"Jensen? Here are the changes for the next scene," I said, looking at him closely.
"What?" He looked down at the pages I held out to him blankly. "I, uh, I – have you seen –"
"Jared?" I asked him. I gestured past the cameras and crew. "He's being interviewed, shouldn't take long. Can you give him the extra pages?"
"Sure, right, okay," he said, taking them. Under the mostly-wiped off make-up, I could see bruises and shadows under his eyes. Definitely not the way Jensen turns up for work. He looked at me and through me, not so much as the faintest spark of recognition in his face. Like I said, I've worked with these guys for six years. It's not a close relationship or anything but when you spend most of a twenty-four hour day in proximity, you get by with a lot of small talk – how was your weekend? Did you see the parade down on Fifth? That kind of thing. This guy, he'd never seen me before in his life.
And I'd noticed his hands as he'd reached for the pages. They were dirty, and scarred, and had oil or grease around his nails. Like someone who worked on their car might. Or someone who was in fights frequently. A labourer. Or maybe even a hunter.
He turned away just as I was saying it, his attention fully locked onto his brother who'd walked out from behind a bunch of the grips.
"Dude! They put freakin' make-up on us! Those bastards!" he said, striding toward Sam.
"Look, I think I know what this is," Sam said, and I could see the twisted burn scar on his forearm as he yanked down his sleeve. That scar had been on Jared for one scene. Then the budget had been cut and Frank, the really good make-up artist who'd done it had been canned. Since then, none of the scars that the characters had gotten over the years of fighting monsters had been resurrected or even remembered. But the guy standing twenty feet from me still had it.
They turned together, heads bowed as they talked. I couldn't think of a believable reason to be following them and to be honest, I couldn't think at all. Not the actors, the characters were here. Dean Winchester. Sam Winchester. In the real world. Attempting to be themselves.
You know when you're sleeping and you're kind of aware that you're sleeping but you're having a really, really great dream and you do not want to wake – ever? Well, that's kind of the way I was feeling when I finished tidying up my desk, which was a four-foot square cubicle in one corner of the main writers room, and left at the end of the day.
I'd missed seeing where the Winchesters – and yeah, I was still convinced, more convinced, that they were actually were the Winchesters – had gone, but I saw Clif head out, driving the boxy, black four-wheel drive that looks like a sinister government car in a cheap espionage movie, and figured they were going to Jared's place for the night. Which brought up another really weird question…what the heck happened to the real Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles when the characters dropped in from whatever dimension or space-time continuum they'd dropped in from?
If they'd been switched and were now living in the world that the Winchesters had come from, they could be killed by anything. It was a worrying thought because without them, the series would be a nothing. There wasn't any chance of replacing them with other actors now, they'd made the Winchesters their own.
Wrestling with the main question was giving me a headache. A super-sized one. I stopped at the market and grabbed some Tylenol and headed home, trying not to think about what I'd seen that day.
The apartment looked the same as it always did. Small. Dark. Kind of cluttered. I dumped my bag on the small sofa and went to the kitchen alcove to look in the fridge, grabbing an apple and a soda and chugging it with two of the Tylenol. Then I sat down and tried to make sense of it all.
Dean Winchester had a scar, running from his hairline on the right-hand side of his forehead down to his brow. He'd gotten it in the car-accident after his father had been possessed. The Dean I'd seen today, on the set, had a fine white scar in exactly the same place. Sam Winchester had been burned by Bobby Singer, the character who'd raised them from time to time when their father had been hunting, when he'd been possessed by the demon, Meg. She'd burned a binding sigil into his arm. Bobby had burned a straight line across it to break it. The Sam who'd fallen through the fake window on the set of the Sioux Falls house had had those scars, thick and red and pretty damned nasty-looking.
Dean hadn't recognised me. Sam had barely glanced at me, but only last week Jared had brought a bunch of flowers for me when I'd gotten them the scene sheets early for a rough, packed day of shooting.
Of course, in real life, characters are just figments of the writer's imaginations, right?
Sure they are. Not real. Not actual people. No way, Jose.
The headache was getting worse, not better, and I finished the apple and tossed the core in the trash on the way to the bedroom. Maybe it was a dream, I thought. Maybe the whole day had been a dream, brought on by too much re-watching of the seasons on DVD and too many late-night hours spent reading the better class of fan-fiction online and I'd just hallucinated the whole day.
In a way that would be reassuring. I pulled off my clothes, throwing all but my jeans into the hamper and tossing the jeans over the arm of the small chair next to my bed. It would mean I wasn't going nuts. That had to be a good thing.
But…I thought as I pulled the comforter over me and wriggled down into my favourite position in the bed…it would mean that Dean and Sam weren't here. Weren't real. Would never be real.
I looked at the shadowed wall on the other side of the room. Suppose, for just a moment, I thought to myself, entertaining the idea, they were real. That I wasn't dreaming or hallucinating or having a mental breakdown. What would you do, I asked myself? What could I do, I wondered?
I walked onto the set at five a.m., feeling as if I was going to need my caffeine delivered intravenously to survive after the crap night of tossing and turning I'd done through the night-time hours. I followed Bob and Serge through the house set, handing out the scenes to the crew as I passed them and realised I'd left the Tylenol at home.
"We finish today in twelve hours if it kills us all. Get 'A' and 'B' cam for Scene Twelve," Bob said, walking through the kitchen mockup and into the living room set, looking at the two men standing there. "What is this?"
Stopping in the doorway, I saw him turn to Dean and Sam with a surprised look. "Here for the first run-through, before anyone else? Dedication."
Dean glanced at his brother as Sam picked up the box and walked out of the living room. "Uh, can I talk to you for a second? Um, we're gonna need the, uh, set cleared for, safe side, an hour or so."
"You need it cleared." Bob looked at him carefully.
"Yeah. Yeah. Me and, um...Jared were gonna do some actor stuff," Dean said, trying a smile.
Bob heaved in a deep breath. "Jensen, we're thrilled to see you collaborating so creatively," he said with a patient smile.
How could he not see that it wasn't Jensen he was talking to, I wondered? Looking at him closely, he didn't even really look that much like Jensen, at least, not when the cameras weren't pointing at him. He looked like Dean. Uncomfortable, sweaty-palmed, unable to come up with a decent lie Dean.
"And your enthusiasm is refreshing. Dean Cain was like that on 'Lois', and that man's a real actor," he said, looking pointedly at Dean. "And we will clear this set exactly when we shoot the two and three-eighths pages we are scheduled to shoot on this set. So you do your 'actor stuff' and we'll do our 'camera stuff' and, uh…" he let the sentence trail away with a suggestive hand-wave.
Dean nodded, tried for another smile and gave up, frowning as he walked back off the set, past me and over to his brother.
"Ooh, Priority. What's in it?" Misha came onto the back stage area, in costume, and peered at the box, taking his seat behind Sam.
"I bought part of a dead person," Sam said, watching his brother walk over.
"Oh…cool," Misha said, eyebrows shooting up.
"Uh, so, bad news. Uh...looks like we're gonna have to do a little acting," Dean said uncomfortably to Sam.
"What?" Sam's head snapped up to look at his brother.
As if everything else hadn't been proof enough, that one look was the decider. Both of them looked like they'd rather face a firing squad than have to go through the next few hours.
"Supernatural, Scene Thirty-Six, take one. Marker!"
Mark snapped the slate and moved out of shot, and Bob called, "Action!"
From behind the camera, where I was standing, I could see into the room. Sam was frozen in place and Dean was glowering at Misha, who walked toward the camera while delivering his line, "Balthazar is no hero. But he knows Raphael will never take him back."
Misha turned back to them and Sam flinched slightly, then Dean walked stiffly closer to Misha, looking down as he stopped. His mark, taped to the floor, was a few more inches to the right and he moved over to it, then looked back up at the actor.
"Cut!" Bob shouted exasperatedly. I sighed, turning away and heading for the catering van. It would take a while to get through this scene at this rate.
I turned around, closing the stage door behind me, and saw Jim standing there. "Hey, Jim."
"You seen Jensen and Jared this morning?"
"No," I said, without thinking. "Uh, sorry, yeah, they're inside. Shooting scene thirty-six, actually."
"Thanks," he said, walking past me then turning back. "How'd they seem to you this morning?"
"Oh, okay, I guess," I said, hoping my smile would seem more positive than the tone of my voice. "Why?"
"No reason," he said, looking back to the door. "Just, you know, heard a few things."
I nodded and turned away, not wanting to hear what he'd been hearing. The big catering van was fifty yards up the internal road of the lot and I walked there quickly, grabbing a giant double-espresso and three bear claws, rearranging the folder of script changes, coffee, pastries and my wallet and phone to be able to carry them all back to the stage.
"Supernatural. Scene Thirty-Six, take eight. Marker!"
"Action!" Bob called out.
I set my coffee down on the prop table and watched as Sam twitched and shifted from foot to foot, folding his arms, crossing and uncrossing them, trying one on a hip. He looked like someone had poured itching powder inside all of his clothes. Beside him, Dean was still glowering at Misha.
"Balthazar is no hero. But he knows Raphael will never take him back," the actor said, looking at Dean.
"Dean, grimly. And yet, somehow you got no problem with it," Dean said belligerently, his gaze dropping to the pages in his hand that were out of camera shot.
Misha turned around to the director, mouthing something at him and Bob shrugged, waiting for the slate to mark the next take.
"That's because ...that's because we have no other choice," Sam said uncertainly, his head turning from Misha to the front of the set.
"Don't look at the camera," Dean advised him from the corner of his mouth.
Turning to look at him, Sam said, "What?"
"Look anywhere but the camera," Dean added, looking at the floor.
"That's because we have no other choice!" Sam said adamantly, tipping his head back, his gaze wandering across the ceiling.
"Cut!" Bob yelled. "For the love of ..."
I ate all three pastries and finished the mega coffee over the next few takes. They were getting worse, I thought. Sam was almost hyperventilating as he looked at Misha, and Dean was checking his marks, and reading the pages held half behind his back.
"Take fourteen. Marker!"
Dean stared blankly at Misha.
"Take twenty-two. Marker!"
Sam dropped his script and dove to the floor, scrabbling around to pick it up.
"Take twenty-six. Marker!"
Sam walked unsteadily toward Misha, one arm held stiffly in front of him. "If there's a key, then," he said, lifting his other arm and glancing down at the floor to see his mark. "There must also be a lock."
"Cut!" Bob said, scratching his temple with his fingertips and looking at Serge who was wincing with every line now.
"Take thirty-one. Marker!"
Sam tried again, arm held out stiffly as he walked toward Misha, veering slightly to get around Dean. "If there's a key ... then there has to be a lock."
Even I flinched when I saw Dean do a double-take at his brother's hand as it came past him. He seemed to remember where he was a second later, turning a black scowl back on Misha.
"And when we find the lock, we can get the weapons, and then we can have the weapons," he said. "And the lock," he added uncertainly, glancing at his brother. "We'll still have the lock, I imagine, because we've opened it, and, of course, the initial key."
"We need to get all three of that crap," he growled deeply, glaring at Misha.
"What?" Sam looked at him in surprise.
"That's how he does it," Dean muttered at him, making a face to along with the small shrug.
That was it. The breaking point. Dean stepped back, looking through the set window at Bob. "Do we really need all these lines?" he called out, his voice a lot higher than it been in the last two hours. "I mean, I-I-I-I think we've covered it. Hey?"
Bobby stared at him, his mouth dropping open. "Cut! What is happening?" he asked the room at large, twisting around in his chair. "What's happening?! What's happening?!"
I hurried around to the kitchen set. It would take forty minutes to set up the next scene and that was all the time I was gonna get.
They were at the table, unpacking the cardboard box Sam had brought in.
"What are you doing?" I hissed at them, looking around to make sure no one else was nearby.
"Who the hell are you?" Dean asked, shoving whatever he'd just pulled out of the box back into it.
"I'm Terry," I said, walking to the side of the table and looking back at him determinedly. I felt schizophrenic. On the one hand, I had a job to do. On the other, I was talking to Dean Winchester. "I'm the idiot who keeps your scripts up to date and in order and let's you know the changes so that it's not a great friggin' surprise."
He exchanged a look with Sam, who was pulling out stuff and setting it out of sight behind the box.
"You two really have no clue who I am, do you?" I asked, just to get this absolutely and unmistakably straight. Close-up they really did look like Jensen and Jared. It was unnerving. "You've never seen me before."
Sam looked at me then, his forehead wrinkling up. "Sure, Terry, don't worry about him, he had a hard night last night."
Dean glanced at him and back to me. "Right, Terry, yeah, sorry, hard night."
"Bullshit," I said. "You're not Jensen and Jared."
Sam laughed uncomfortably. "Who else would we be?"
"Dean and Sam Winchester." I looked from him to Dean. "Really, Dean and Sam Winchester."
They both looked around the set, then at each other.
"Those are, uh, characters, in a tv show," Dean said quickly. "Not real."
"Except that you are. Real. Now." I looked at the tattered script hanging half out of his jacket pocket. "And sooner or later, it won't be just me, everyone else is going to look past the look-alike aspect and wonder what the heck is going on."
I thought they'd argue, but Dean looked down at the box and then back up. "How'd you figure it?"
"Dean and Sam have scars. Jensen and Jared don't," I said bluntly, waving my hand in the direction of his forehead. "And they can act. You two can't."
"It's this freakin' script –" Dean started to protest, and Sam shook his head at him.
"We're trying to get out of here and we think it'll go back to normal once we've gone," he said in a low voice. "Do you know how much time we've got?"
Looking at my watch, I said, "About twenty-five minutes. You're in the next scene and the one after. Then you're done till this evening."
"This evening?" Dean looked at his watch. "How long do they make these saps work?"
"Normally? Twelve to fifteen hours a day in the middle of a season," I said tartly. "At the moment, you've got some free time because this episode has a few different characters."
"Any suggestions on how we get through those if this doesn't work?" Sam asked me, his mouth contorting into an unhappy smile.
"Be yourselves," I said, looking over my shoulder as the sound of hammering came from behind a wall. "These characters are you, just be yourselves instead of trying to act."
"That's easier said than –" Dean said, pulling a face.
"Shut it," Sam said, passing him a plastic-wrapped item from the box. "Let's just concentrate on getting out of here."
"Can you, uh, keep a – you know, a watch out for us?" Dean asked me, unwrapping the item quickly.
I nodded and moved away, back to the doorway to the living room area of the set. My heart was thundering and I suddenly realised my palms were damp with sweat. I was talking to them. Dean and Sam. And they were going to leave – that brought me up sharply. I didn't know what the heck I could do about that.
I turned around, just as I heard the crash of the window from inside the set.
"Where the hell have you been?" Karen demanded, striding across the set. "There are updates coming in from LA and you were supposed to be done with this and back an hour ago!"
"Sorry," I said, catching up to her as she swung around and heading back to the stage door.
"Well, get a move on, I'm supposed to be seeing Jim and Bob in ten minutes, some kind of emergency, and those changes are sitting on your desk," she snapped, stopping by the door. "Make sure they're all done by the time I get back, we'll have to hand them out before everyone goes tonight."
"Will do," I promised, going through the door and running down to the office. If I could really burn through them, I might be able to catch up with the Winchesters before they left for the night. Or find them later, maybe. I ran faster. I wasn't sure of what the plan was, but I wanted one, some kind of plan, at least.
They were real. They were here and it wasn't make-believe or actors and scripts. Y'know, I didn't really think it through too well, in hindsight. I didn't think of how their world was, with the monsters and demons and ghosts and angels. I just thought about how my world was … with the job that took all my time and the crappy little apartment that took about a third of my weekly paypacket, and the wish that I could meet someone who thought that putting themselves in between a supernatural danger and an innocent person was the right thing to do.
I could've dated a fire-fighter, or a cop, if I'd thought that one through a little more carefully.
To be continued…
First-time at writing a story so if you liked it, I hope you'll let me know. If you didn't or you have some suggestions to make it better, I hope you'll let me know that too.