Full Summary: Dean has been harboring a secret since he was 4 years old. After that fateful night back on November 2, 1983, a haunting figure came to him. Over the years, he's seen less and less of this 'someone', but every time he comes back, Dean finds his ability to survive the encounter tested. The hunter knows the last day he saw him: August 28, 2002, the day Sam left for Stanford, just over three years ago; the date was carved in Dean's memory like the epitaph on a granite tombstone. And now he's back…with a vengeance. (Sam is 22. Dean is 26. Set in very early Season 1.)
Disclaimer: As usual, the boys and Supernatural belong to the CW and Kripke. I like to just have a little fun with them once in a while. And the character of Slenderman belongs to Victor Surge, not me.
Author's Notes: There is so much info out there on Slenderman. I did tons of research on him before writing this and came up with 10 typed pages of facts to work with, a treasure trove full of fun (and that was after I narrowed it down from closer to 20 pages). The below only scratches the surface of what he's all about. I've weaved a story together from what I've learned and this is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy.
Oh, and there doesn't seem to be a way to kill him either. I guess I'll leave that up to Sam and Dean to figure out. They're pretty good at figuring out this stuff ;)
Note: They say the more you learn about Slenderman, the more likely it is he'll come looking for you, so if you don't hear from me...
Warnings: Rating due to explicit language and some decent whumpage which includes blood and mild gore, and also a mention of non-con.
Also, the title of this fic is a play on the name of the old Van Morrison song, 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'. Awesome song :) Many thanks for RiatheMai for helping me come up with that one. By the end of this fic, I'm sure I'll owe her many more thanks for her beta/edit help, and overall zany ideas. Thank you, my friend!
While you rest unbound, asleep
The Slenderman will take his keep
His rounded face so blank, so graceful
Dressed in suits that seem so tasteful
Long dark legs that step and stagger
Long fingers sharp like daggers
Moving in such a rapid pace
Gaining on you with no haste
So close to you, no less than an inch
Do not move, blink or flinch
For he delivers pure demise
A cursed soul in disguise
The Slenderman makes no mistake
For he will have your soul to take
(Credit creepypasta . wikia . com)
The dispiriting cry of a vulture echoed out over the landscape, its unsettling sound rousing Dean from his unconscious state. He was sprawled out on his stomach and his body felt stiff, sore. His fingers twitched and he felt the cold, iciness of freshly fallen snow under the calloused palms of his hands; the frigid air had caused his face to grow numb and it felt like his nose hairs had frozen as well.
What the hell?
Dean blinked his eyes open and turned his head, spitting out bits of dirt and debris. The sharp clarity of morning caused him to squint and he let out a low groan from the aches that overwhelmed his body. (The fact that he was nearly frozen wasn't helping much either.) The hunter rolled over onto his back and stared up into the bare trees above; their frost-covered branches where gnarled and crooked and they knocked together like hollow bones in the light breeze moving through them. A kettle of vultures circled high above those same limbs; he shivered knowing he was probably the next thing on their menu.
As his senses came back to him, one by one, Dean forced himself to sit up. He wiped the snow and grit off his cheek as he looked around. What he saw were trees…as far as the eye could see. Aside from the call of the carrion fowl above, the woods were shrouded in a deathly silence.
Again, what the hell?
And then it all came back to him.
…Two days ago…
Dean pushed out through the door of the local tavern moving quickly, cocky grin on his face. He wasn't sure how pissed off the other guy was now that he'd lost two-hundred dollars over a game of pool, but the hunter wasn't about to wait around to find out. Hustling was fun, but only when you got away with it.
Sam had chosen to remain back at the room tonight. He had said something about wanting to get some more research done on their latest gig. And Dean was fine with that. The kid needed his space. It had been less than two months since Jess had died in that unnatural fire and Sam was still picking up the pieces. Whatever time Sam needed, Dean could give him that.
It was damp out and a ghostly fog had settled down claiming most of the neighborhood. It gave Dean an unsettled feeling and he quickened his pace along the sidewalk. Puffs of cold breath escaped in wisps from his nose and mouth and he turned the collar of his utility jacket up, nestling snugly within it. "Shoulda had some brandy," he muttered to himself. It would've at least taken the tension off his shoulders and warmed him up some.
It was roughly a ten minute walk back to the motel, not far by any means, but far enough. The road he was travelling was dark and mostly unlit; only one out of every four streetlamps was actually working. That's what we get for working jobs in these Podunk towns, he thought to himself. On one side of him was a scattering of small, local shops – a video store, a second hand clothing shop, and a bakery were among them – tenant apartments were located on the upper levels. On the other side of him, across the street, was an ominous stretch of trees. As Dean made his way down the sidewalk, his shadow fell long and dark along the ground beside.
Dean jumped as a noise skittered across the asphalt to his right. He glanced over and saw several fallen leaves keeping pace with him out in the empty road. A thin laugh escaped his lips. "Dude," he shook his head, "you're seriously losin' it."
Another twenty feet passed and an unbidden shiver coursed down Dean's spine. He wanted to blame it on the chill, but something was off. The hunter carefully let his gaze drift around him as he loosened his hands at his sides. His Colt was tucked into the waistband of his jeans and he wanted to be ready to use it if he needed to.
Another fifty feet and Dean slowed his step. Something – or someone – was following him; he could feel the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. He cast another casual glance around the area.
And there, off in the trees, he caught a glimpse of something. It was hard to see for the fact that it blended in so well with the forest, but it was there. The hunter continued walking until he came up on a telephone pole, putting it between himself and whatever it was that was following him. He peered out into the forest as he tucked his hand under the backside of his jacket, fingers wrapping around the smooth, pearl inlayed grip of his gun.
Just enough light from the last lamppost shone down and he saw it clearly. A sense of dread suddenly enveloped Dean, nearly smothering him. The feeling, Dean knew, was a side effect from being so close to him. He tried to shrug it off, but it clung to him like a leech. "Son of a bitch," he muttered.
It had been just over three years since Dean had seen him, enough time that the hunter had started to think he'd seen the last of the creature. So much for wishful thinking. The man's pale features were in stark contrast to the surrounding void of night and Dean couldn't turn his gaze away. He found himself frozen in place, gaze locked with that of the featureless face staring back at him.
Even through the all-encompassing fear that was trying to worm its way into his mind, Dean's first thought was that he had to get to Sam; he couldn't let him get to his little brother. But Dean knew he would get what he wanted. He always did. Dean also knew that as soon as he took his eyes off him, the man would instantly be on top of him. Still, he turned and ran, work boots pounding hard against the sidewalk as he did. What other choice did Dean have?
But it was too late. It was always too late once you laid eyes on him.
Dean slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and found his phone. He needed to call Sam, make sure his brother was alright.
"Dean? Shit, are you okay? Where the hell are you?" Dean allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. Sam was okay. "I've been trying to reach you for two days, but your phone hasn't been working."
Fuck, two days?
"Yeah, I think so," he answered as he pushed up to his feet. A bitter wind whipped up against him as he did, chafing his already raw cheeks, its chilly fingers seeking out every square inch of bare skin it could find. Dean took in a full three-sixty of his surroundings. Mountains. Other than that, it was just trees. With what he saw, he was surprised he was getting any cell reception out here at all. Hopefully, that meant he wasn't too far from somewhere.
The hunter rubbed at the nape of his neck with his free hand. "And, honestly, I don't know where I am." Dean knew he could be anywhere. The last time he had gotten to him, he had woken up nearly dead over three hundred miles away from where he had been staying in some rundown shack of a house with his father in New York. He shivered at the recollection, at the thought of how much blood there had been that time. If his dad hadn't gotten there when he did…
At that thought, Dean looked himself over. Aside from the general aches and what felt like mild frostbite, he appeared to be in good health. He'd apparently gotten lucky this time (not that he could remember shit about what had happened). But this was just the beginning. He knew things were going to get worse, a whole lot worse. They always did.
Dean was broken away from his macabre memories of his past run-ins with the creature. "What?"
"I asked you what happened."
He couldn't tell Sam. Wouldn't. The less Sam knew, the safer he would be. "I don't know." The lie rolled smoothly off Dean's tongue. "Listen. It looks like I'm in the middle of nowhere. I'm gonna start walkin' and I'll call you every half hour. When I get to some type of civilization, I'll find out where I am and you can come get me."
"Dean, what do you mean the 'middle of nowhere'?"
Of course Sam had to press for more. "For a college kid, I sure do have to explain a lot of things to you. I'm in the middle of the fuckin' mountains, Sam. Like the goddamn Rockies. Middle of nowhere."
"Mountains," the younger Winchester repeated. – Dean could picture Sam's brow creasing in confusion, the gears in that big brain of his turning. – The line was silent for a moment. "Seriously?"
"Dude, you're killin' my battery." Dean wasn't going to waste time going back and forth trying to explain something he couldn't. "I gotta go. I'll call you soon." Sam knew what he needed to know, so he quickly disconnected the call before his brother went into some kind of tirade.
The hunter tucked his phone back into his pocket and blew into his cupped hands trying to warm them up. He looked around, taking in his surroundings. From where the sun was in the sky, he gathered the mountain range in front of him ran north-south. Figuring the best way to go would be away from them, Dean tugged his jacket tighter around himself and turned on his heel, heading east through the barren trees. It had to lead somewhere eventually. At least it wasn't snowing.
And he prayed he wouldn't run into any unwelcome company during his hike. It was bad enough that he knew what was bound to happen in the upcoming days.
Several hours and a handful of calls later, Dean stumbled through the brush and found himself in what most people would consider a quaint mountainside village. The first thing he did was look at the license plates on the cars. New Hampshire. Wonderful. He had been deposited in the Appalachians. No wonder my feet feel like freakin' blocks of ice.
Not once in Dean's life did he feel the need for hiking that god-awful trail; Dean didn't do nature. The last time he and Sam were out in the woods, he had nearly gotten eaten by a damn wendigo. No, the great outdoors could keep to itself for all he cared. – And Sam was in Pennsylvania. Ol' Slendy was getting better in his efforts. He had almost another hundred miles on the last time. The asshole…
Dean located a motel and used some of his billiard winnings to reserve a room for the night. Once he got settled in and ordered some food, he called Sam.
"Warren, New Hampshire." Dean was holding the small plastic placard advertising the hotel which had been sitting on the table.
"Fuck, Dean. Really?" Sam nearly squeaked in disbelief. He was expecting something a lot closer…like the mountains just outside of Fullerton where their hunt was happening. "Do I even wanna-"
"No, Sam. Just get here. I'm at the Mountain View Lodge, just off of route 25. Room 9. There's a key waiting at the front desk for you when you get here."
"Yeah, okay. But what's that, like a seven hour drive from here? It's gonna take some time."
"Just don't wreck the car or I'll put a dent in you."
"Whatever," Sam deadpanned. "I'll be there later tonight. And when I get there, you're gonna tell me what's going on. – Oh, and thanks for leaving me with all your shit to pick up. You've got dirty clothes everywhere."
"Hey, don't give me that crap. I've been pickin' up after your ass since you were in diapers."
They said their goodbyes and Dean lay back on the bed, stretching out. After a couple of minutes, he got up to take a shower. The delivery guy wouldn't be there for at least another twenty minutes.
Dean turned on the shower, setting it to its hottest temperature, and then peeled out of his sweat-laden clothing. (The temperature flashing on the digital sign at the bank up the street might have said it was only twenty-eight degrees out, but he had built up quite the sweat coming down that hellish mountain; it felt like fucking Mount Doom.) He wrinkled his nose as he dropped the offending clothes into a pile in the corner. Just as he was about to step under the rush of hot water, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His eyes fell to five ragged scars on his chest and abdomen.
Their lines were bright pink and roughly four inches in length each; they were in-and-out wounds from front to back. Dean traced the one closest to his heart with the pads of his fingers. This is what that bastard had done to him last time…and these were only the ones most visible; there were others. The thing had let him remember everything that time. What a nice guy. Dean almost wished it hadn't.
He pushed the memory out of his head. He'd survived; that's all that mattered. And he would survive this time as well.
Dean came out of the bathroom minutes later, towel wrapped low on his waist, steam escaping the small room in his wake; it felt good to be able to feel his fingers and toes again. He glanced at the clock as his stomach rumbled and, just as he did, there was a knock at the door; a voice sounded through the thin wood announcing the arrival of his food.
He took out a few bills from his wallet which was on the nightstand and went to answer the door; his mouth was already watering at the mere thought of the sweet and sour chicken and fried rice which he'd be digging into shortly.
As Dean moved across the room, the silhouette of a man in the dark glass of the television set watched him silently.
After eating his meal of Chinese take-out, Dean sprawled out on the bed. He still had another five or so hours to kill before Sam got there. He was bored and exhausted. With no fresh clothing to put on, the hunter was basically trapped in the small craphole of a room for the remainder of the evening.
Dean tossed his towel aside and climbed under the scratchy blankets. If he could catch a small nap now, he'd be more on his game when Sam got there. He'd have to come up with some kind of passable story to explain how he'd gotten from suburbia Pennsylvania to the mountains of central New Hampshire.
Slowly, the hunter drifted off into sleep. To say it was a relaxing sleep would be like saying the sky was any other color than blue. He was there. Everywhere Dean looked, the creature surrounded him. Dean tossed and turned, crying out in his sleep, but he couldn't wake himself up. He was being held under by him.
Slenderman had Sam. Dean knew it was a dream, but these dreams always seemed too real. The man's long, tentacle-like arms were wrapped around the younger Winchester like a constrictor, squeezing him until his face turned from deep scarlet to a deathly blue. Sam couldn't cry out for lack of air. Dean yelled, fought to get to his brother, but he was frozen in place. He could do nothing but watch as the creature tilted its head and disappeared in the blink of an eye with Sam in tow. Dean cried out as he reached up to the empty space in front of him and then he hung his head heavily in defeat. Sam was gone.
Minutes – or hours – later, Dean felt something warm and wet drip down onto the top of his head. He pried his eyes open and looked up. Another drop, this time on his brow and spilling hotly down the side of his cheek. His breath hitched in his chest before he screamed. Sam…
And during it all, the faceless man remained motionless…watching with that cruel expressionless and blank face.
It was nearly 7:00 p.m. when Sam unlocked the door and stepped into the room. The scene he walked into had him dropping the bags to the floor and running over to the bed where Dean was flailing and crying out. Sam had to manhandle his brother as the older hunter tried throwing him off.
"Dean! Dean, wake up!" Sam narrowly dodged the closed fist which was swung in his direction. "Hey, c'mon, Dean. Snap out of it. You're having a nightmare."
Dean began to calm down as Sam's words started to sink into his subconscious mind. "Sam," fell from his lips as he started to come around. And then suddenly, he swung around faster than his brother could react and wrapped his arms around the younger man.
Sam was completely caught off guard at that. He couldn't wipe the stunned look off his face even as he let his long arms settle around the man and hugged him back, giving Dean what he seemingly needed at the moment.
It only took a split second before the elder Winchester realized what he'd just done. "Dude, get off me," he growled as his hands flew up, pushing Sam away. Dean moved back quickly, tugging the sheets up higher to cover his now partially bared hip, and then rubbed his hands up over his face in an attempt to hide the tears he felt pricking at his eyes.
Sam just sat there on the edge of the bed; he was dumbfounded. What the hell had just happened? And now? He could swear he had seen a flash of tears before the man's hands were up over his face under the pretense of wiping sleep away. That was something he hadn't seen the man do in years. "You alright?" he asked after giving Dean a few minutes to gather himself.
"I'm fine, Sam." That was it. No explanation. Nothing. Typical Dean.
Sam shook his head at his brother's terse reply. "You want some water or something?" He got up and headed into the bathroom without waiting for an answer. A minute later, he came out and handed a glass to Dean. The man took it with little more than a grumbled 'thanks'.
Sam watched as Dean brought the water up to his lips; his hand was shaking. He could only wonder what his brother had been dreaming about. What could make Dean break like that? The man had always been a rock, unbreakable.
"So, are you gonna enlighten me as to what happened to you the other night?" A couple of hours had passed since Dean had woken up and Sam was still curious about what had happened to the man. He knew Dean wasn't going to just volunteer the information.
Dean was now in a clean pair of sweatpants and was sitting at the table drinking a coffee. He looked somewhat haggard and hadn't said much since waking. Whatever he'd been dreaming about had really taken its toll on him.
"I told you I don't know what happened."
"Seriously? You expect me to believe that you have no idea how you got from Fullerton to the fucking White Mountains?" He narrowed his hazel eyes at his brother then. "Dude, I'm younger than you, but I'm not stupid."
Sam watched Dean as he stood up and walked over to the kitchenette without saying a word. He proceeded to wash his cup out and set it in the rack to dry before turning back. Even from where he was sitting, Sam could see the man was still trembling from earlier.
Dean smoothed his hand over his mouth before looking up at him again. "Pissed off a couple of truckers. You know, hustled the wrong guys. I can't remember much since they knocked me over the head, but when I woke up, I was here. Shit happens. End of story."
Sam stared at Dean. That story was so full of shit that he didn't know where to begin. Dean would never let himself get taken down that easily. – They may have only been back together for a couple of months, but Sam knew that without a doubt. – Clearly, something had happened that Dean didn't want to discuss. "Yeah, that's totally believable," he huffed out under his breath. Sam got up and went over to the bed where he began to strip out of his shirt and pants. It was late and he was getting tired. "So, what're we gonna do about the hunt back in Pennsylvania, just leave it?" They still had an angry spirit haunting an old factory that needed to be taken care of.
"We can head back out there tomorrow. The only thing left is the salt-and-burn. There's no reason to not finish the job."
They packed up their things the next morning and stopped by the local diner before heading out onto the highway. As Sam followed Dean across the parking lot into the diner, he saw a familiar figure standing in the shadows of the community park next door.
He'd seen the entity several times since Jess' death and couldn't figure the thing out. Sam had already come to the conclusion that it had latched onto him; it wouldn't be the first time a spirit had been attracted to him over the years. Usually, they just went away after a while.
This one was different from the others though. It was more of a silent watcher, never trying to approach him or communicate with him. The being just remained still wherever it was. He was thin and was always dressed in a dark suit; his features were drawn and pale. There was no face, no hair…nothing…just smooth skin stretched tautly over sharp, boney features. And he was taller than Sam, closer to seven feet tall, possibly more. The way he stared was a little creepy, to say the least, but nothing Sam couldn't handle, not after everything he'd seen in his life.
Sam glanced at Dean; his brother didn't seem to notice the figure. When he looked back into the trees, it was gone. Oh, well, he shrugged. It wasn't hurting anyone. There was no reason to mention it.
The diner was your typical '50s-style place: red vinyl seating, chrome accents on the stools and tables, off-white laminate counters and tabletops, and pictures of old movie stars hanging on the walls.
Dean took the table in the far corner as was his usual modus operandi; he liked to be able to observe everyone who was coming and going. (It was something that had been ingrained in him over the years.) Their waitress stopped by seconds later and delivered their menus while offering them coffee.
Looking over his menu, Dean smiled. Their 'Special of the Day' was an endless plate of mini pancakes, all varieties…plain, chocolate chip, blueberry, cocoa-banana, and last, but not least, bacon-apple. Absentmindedly, he rolled his tongue over his lips, wetting them, as he thought about which ones he wanted…maybe some of each.
Fifteen minutes later, they were digging into their food: Sam his boring sunny side up eggs with whole wheat toast and Dean with his stack of love. (And if Dean didn't sound like he was making love to it as he ate...)
The older Winchester had just finished his second serving and was sprawled back in his seat rubbing a hand over his full stomach – but still contemplating a third plate – when he saw something that almost had his entire meal coming back up. Reflected in the shiny surface of the napkin holder on the table was him. Dean quickly glanced across the room to where the reflection would have originated from, but there was nothing there. He swallowed tightly and looked across the table at Sam who was completely oblivious and was pouring several packets of sugar into his most recent cup of coffee.
Dean suddenly stood up from the table, knocking his left knee against the underside of it hard as he did. "We gotta go," he said without explanation as he pulled out his wallet and threw a twenty dollar bill down between their dishes. He didn't give Sam a chance to ask questions as he grabbed his jacket from the booth and then pulled his brother along by his sleeve.
Sam yanked out of Dean's grip as they stepped outside into the cool morning. "Dude." He spun around on Dean. "Explain that one to me."
"You'll have to trust me on this one, Sam." Dean made a beeline to the Impala and had it started and in gear before Sam even had the passenger side door open.
There may have been a few speed limits broken as Dean floored it to the highway.
All was quiet for the first several miles, not even the radio broke the tense silence. Dean's knuckles were white where his hands were wrapped around the steering wheel and Sam continued to watch him from the corner of his eye.
"You know, you're runnin' like something's after you," Sam said after a while.
Goddamn kid's too observant for his own good. Since getting on the highway, Dean had been trying to get himself calmed down. He was starting to wish he'd left Sam at Stanford; he could find their father on his own. It would have been safer. And maybe Jess would still be alive, too.
"It's not something I wanna talk about right now." I'm tryin' to protect you.
Sam shifted in the seat until his back was against the door and he was facing Dean. He didn't say anything, just sat and stared.
That steady gaze wore on Dean. It pissed him off that Sam knew how to wear him down like that, but then again, for the first nineteen years of Sam's life, Dean had practically raised him. The kid probably knew him better than he knew himself, even after three years of being separated.
"Goddammit, Sam. I can't talk to you about it. It's for your own good. The less you know, the safer you'll be, okay? So just…stop." Dean reached over and pushed the cassette into the player and turned the volume up. Bad Company began to play and Dean settled down into the seat ignoring his brother's glare. It wasn't too long ago that Dean had found out Sam was keeping some big secret. Well, he was just going the have to learn that Dean had his secrets, too.
Finally, with one final frustrated huff, Sam turned and faced the front of the car again. He crossed his arms over his chest and rested his head against the window. It was going to be a long ride.
They had another hour to go yet. Dean was still at the wheel, having refused to give it up when Sam offered to take over back in Connecticut. The younger Winchester had remained silent ever since.
The Impala had just rolled over the state line into Pennsylvania when a high-pitched whine poured out of the car's speakers. Both men cursed at the ear-splitting sound and Dean quickly reached over and turned the radio off. When he happened to glance up in the rearview mirror afterward, terror gripped him in its razor-sharp claws. Right there, in the back seat, was his silent tormentor. All thought of driving ceased and the car swerved across three lanes of the interstate, nearly striking a semi-truck. The only reason they hadn't was because Sam had launched across the front seat and grabbed a hold of the wheel.
"Dude, pull over. NOW!"
Dean blinked and then he was gone. The hunter was so shaken up that he followed Sam's order as easily as if it had fallen from John Winchester's mouth.
Sam spun towards his brother, eyes flashing with a raging combination of shock, anger, and fear. "What the hell is wrong with you? Whatever you're hiding, it's not worth killing both of us over it."
When Dean finally looked up at Sam, the younger Winchester cursed. "Shit, Dean. You're bleeding." He eyed the thin trickle of blood coming from the man's nose before pulling open the glove box to get a napkin.
To be continued...
Author's Note: Please be sure to leave comments. I'd love to hear from you, good or bad :)