Eight: Family Album
house was in darkness.
houses went, it was fairly unremarkable: white clapboard
walls, brightly colored porch, welcome mat laid out
on the doorstep and a guttering porch light that finally
spluttered and died in silence.
inside of the house was no different: a welcoming foyer,
thickly carpeted and warm despite the late hour, coat
stand and shoe rack, photographs on the walls.
lounge off to the right had pictures on the mantel of
a handsome man, broad shouldered, dark haired and dark
eyed, his attractive wife, blonde and demur, and their
two small children, a boy and a girl, smiling out of
their picture frames into the darkened room as a shadow
fell across their adorable, cherubic faces.
shadow, barely substantial, barely there, nevertheless
paused in front of the photographs, long dark fingers
gently caressing each picture before moving on, deeper
into the house.
hadn’t found what it was looking for yet.
a creak scarcely perceptible to human ears, the basement
door slid open and the shadow slipped noiselessly inside,
gliding down solid stone steps until it reached the
was no light in the basement, but the shadow didn’t
need it to find what it was looking for, seemingly insensible
to the skylight set high into the wall offering meager
moonlight to illuminate its way. It turned slightly,
the cold light of the full moon glancing briefly off
jet black eyes, and the shadow creature blinked, following
the slanting beam of pale white light to a trunk nestled
in the corner of the room.
fingers fumbled for a second with the metal catch, finally
flipping open the lid and peering inside.
trunk was full of knickknacks and keepsakes, almost
as if someone’s entire life—or the parts
of it they wanted to remember—had been stored
inside for many years, often forgotten, more often regarded
with sadness and longing for a life left far behind,
moments in time that could never be recaptured.
substantial fingers caressed a well-worn baseball mitt
in a child’s size; a Father’s Day card with
the word “Daddy” scrawled across it in brightly
colored crayon; a dog-eared copy of Dr. Seuss’s
Green Eggs and Ham; a silver charm bracelet; a
school report card littered with “A”s.
trinket was regarded and discarded with disinterest
until the shadow lit upon the item it was looking for.
the bottom of the trunk was a large book covered with
peacock blue satin, the words “Family Album”
embossed in gold letters across the front.
shadow creature flipped it open to the first page, running
its fingers over pictures displayed in monochrome beneath
the plastic: A young boy in short trousers beaming up
at a tall, dark haired man in front of a car; the same
boy, older, in uniform, standing proudly to attention;
a group of soldiers smiling for the camera, a snapshot
of doomed youth in a jungle destined to be their final
shadow turned the page.
This is what it came for.
it began to mumble an incantation, strange words in
an ancient language that gradually built in volume and
edges of the photographs began to glow as the intruder
continued its chant, fingers caressing the pictures
as if they were long-lost friends, and as the words
finally reached a crescendo, the shadow itself began
to glow like the photographs at its fingertips, obsidian
eyes reflecting the blinding light emanating from the
pages of the album.
the light increased in intensity, the entire basement
seemed to bleach out to a blinding whiteness, a whooshing
sound reverberating around the brick walls causing the
items on the various shelves around the room to rattle
the light was gone.
so was the shadow.
faint glow lingered on one of the photographs: another
handsome, dark-haired man, his beautiful blonde wife,
a small boy and a baby, standing outside a house with
a large tree behind them.
the glow faded, a shadow passed behind the tree…
Red Roof Inn,
Cinderella, how about you curl your eyelashes after
we’ve hunted this black shuck, huh?” Sam
Winchester yelled through the flimsy plywood bathroom
door as he carefully packed his belongings into the
duffle his brother had slung onto the bed.
made no reply, but the shower abruptly shut off and
Sam snickered to himself.
payback was such a bitch. Dean would think
twice before calling him “Princess” again.
your horses, Princess, I’ll be right out!”
Dean summarily yelled back through the door, causing
Sam to grunt as he resumed his packing.
wasn’t even sure they should be going on this
hunt. It was only two weeks to the spring equinox after
all, and they still had no clue how they were supposed
to get their dad out of Stull when the gateway finally
reopened. But while Dean was more than capable of research
when he put his mind to it, right now Sam sensed his
brother needed a distraction, anything to take his mind
off what the hell they were going to do come March 20th.
last time they’d heard from Bobby he’d assured
them he was working on it, and Sam’s own pile
of hurriedly scribbled notes grew larger by the day.
But they still didn’t have the answer, and Sam
figured if he didn’t find a way to stop his big
brother dwelling on that, Dean’s head might just
a black shuck in Huntington, West Virginia would have
Sam called again as his brother’s cellphone began
to belt out the chorus of Rainbow’s I Surrender.
no further response from his brother, Sam cast his eyes
about the room and finally located his brother’s
cell on the opposite bed, partially submerged beneath
a pile of randomly scrambled clothing. Reaching over,
he snatched up the vibrating device, glancing a little
furtively at the caller I.D. He generally avoided answering
Dean’s phone just in case he picked up one of
those angry boyfriend or husband calls his brother seemed
to receive so often.
instead of reading “Stacie” or “Candi”
or “Trixee” or some other name Dean could
barely remember programming into his cell, the caller
I.D. came up “Unknown,” and that was enough
to pique Sam’s interest.
sliding open the cell, Sam offered a wary, “Hello?”
as he steeled himself for an explosion of vitriol from
the cuckolded partner of Dean’s latest conquest.
considering how long it had been since Dean had actually
shown any interest in extracurricular activities of
that nature, Sam shouldn’t have been surprised
to hear a perfectly sane-sounding woman on the other
end of the line. A woman who certainly seemed a little
more mature than Dean’s usual type.
this Dean?” the woman asked a little hesitantly.
he knew Detective Guevara had fixed Dean’s police
record months ago, Sam still couldn’t get past
cringing every time someone addressed either of them
by their real name. Dean had been officially dead for
a lot of years, and Sam guessed old habits died hard.
no,” he answered at length, glancing over at the
still-closed bathroom door. “Dean can’t
come to the phone right now.”
was a pause and a tiny exhalation of breath on the other
end of the line. “Sam?” the woman hazarded.
“Sam, is that—is that you?”
had to admit, he was a little thrown.
neither Sam nor Dean knew but who appeared to know them,
know their real names, knew Dean’s cellphone number,
calling them up out of the blue like this?
so couldn’t be good news.
is this?” Sam asked slowly, trying to sound as
unthreatening as possible but not entirely succeeding.
name—my name’s Bonnie,” the woman
explained softly. “Reynolds. Bonnie Reynolds.
I’m—I’m a friend of John’s.”
She paused for a second, before adding, “Winchester.
room seemed to slide sideways, and Sam had to grab hold
of the bed to stop himself collapsing onto it. “How
do you—how do you know John?” he asked,
attempting to sound calm and composed, but pretty much
sucking at that too.
was another pause that seemed to last a little longer
than the previous one.
you Sam?” the woman asked again.
hesitated, looking up as Dean finally emerged from the
bathroom, a threadbare off-white towel slung around
his hips, short hair sticking up in spikes as he rubbed
at it with another towel which seemed in even worse
shape than the first.
you talking to?” Dean asked distractedly, stirring
the discarded clothes around on his bed as if he was
searching for something specific before suddenly looking
up at Sam and blinking. “Who you talking to on
my phone?” he added, apparently more than
a little perturbed by the idea of Sam answering his
phone, or talking on his phone, or, God forbid, calling
a number stored in his phone.
rolled his eyes at him. “Shhh!”
rolled his eyes right on back. “Gimme,”
he insisted, holding out his hand for the cell.
waved him into silence before returning his attention
to the woman on the other end of the phone. “Yes,”
he admitted at length, finally replying to her question.
“Yes, this is Sam.”
raised an inquisitive eyebrow, and the woman on the
phone released what appeared to have been a long-held
I ask who you are exactly?” Sam continued.
the woman repeated. “Call me Bonnie. Your dad
and I—well, we’re old friends. John gave
me this number and told me to call his son Dean if I
was ever in any trouble and—and couldn’t
get hold of him.” She paused again, drawing in
a short breath. “Is—is he okay?” she
asked hesitantly. “John? Your dad? Is he okay?
I—I’ve been calling his number for a couple
of days now and I—I was getting a little worried
that he hasn’t picked up.”
woman—Bonnie—sounded a whole lot more than
“a little worried” to Sam, and Sam wasn’t
sure he wanted to dwell on that too much.
he distracted himself by idly wondering where John’s
cell might actually be right now, figuring his dad probably
had it on him when…well. At Stull.
out of cell contact right now,” he managed to
reply, trying to be as vague as possible while not exactly
lying to the woman. After all, if she really was
a friend of Dad’s, didn’t she deserve some
version of the truth? Even a sugar-coated version? “Can—can
we help you?”
was another pause, then an uncertain, “Is Dean
pause was even longer and more uncertain than Bonnie’s
had been. “Uh. Yeah, Dean’s with me.”
His eyes locked with his brother’s, and Dean frowned
is it?” Dean mouthed, a frown crinkling his forehead.
shrugged, half expecting the woman on the end of the
phone to hang up.
there was the tiniest of resigned sighs. “I think
I have something you and your brother might want to
see.” Sam had no clue what Bonnie looked like,
but right then he imagined her running a tired hand
across a furrowed brow. “Can you—do you
think you and your brother could come to Lynchburg?
Sam echoed. “Tennessee?” He glanced sideways
at Dean, whose face had suddenly lit up like the night
sky on the 4th of July.
of my best buddy, Jack!” he burst out with a massive
frowned and put his hand over the phone’s mouthpiece.
“Jack?” he mouthed uncertainly.
grin widened. “Daniels, Sammy!” he burst
out. “Jack Daniels!”
shook his head. Looked liked the black shuck might have
yeah, okay,” he said into the phone. “You—uh—wanna
give me your address, ma’am?”
It’s Bonnie,” the woman corrected him, before
proceeding to give Sam her street address. “And
Sam?” she added, when Sam had taken down the details
and assured her he and Dean would be with her asap.
“Thank you. Thank you both.”
wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Yeah.
Yeah, that’s okay. We’ll see you soon, okay?”
sounded ridiculously grateful. And nervous. Grateful
and nervous. And when she disconnected the call, Sam
couldn’t help thinking that wasn’t the greatest
of combinations. This could be a trap. She could be
a demon. She could be one of Lucifer’s flunkies…
But she sounded scared, and she said she was a friend
know a Bonnie Reynolds?” Sam immediately asked
Dean, tapping the notepad he’d used to scribble
down the woman’s address against his thigh in
an uneasy tattoo.
shook his head. “Nope. That the chick on the phone?”
nodded. “Said she’s a friend of Dad’s.”
how she got my number?”
told her to call you if—if she needed some help
and couldn’t get a hold of him.”
Dean pulled a vaguely cleanish t-shirt over his head.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”
okay,” Dean conceded. “So what kind of ‘friend’
are we talkin’ here?”
sighed heavily, sinking down on his bed and running
an uncertain hand through his hair. “Dad’s
not a monk, Dean,” he pointed out, knowing he
was stumbling right on into a minefield without any
kind of exit strategy in place. “Even if he does
still wear his wedding band.”
Dean just looked at him, his expression for a moment
completely unreadable. “Look, as far as I know,
Dad really has lived the life of a monk. Has
done since the day Mom died.”
Dean. You can’t honestly believe he’s not
snorted. “No way, dude. He had a chick stashed
in every port, I’d o’ known about it.”
Sam argued. “I’m just being realistic here,
man. Just ’cause Dad never paraded any ‘female
company’ around while we were growing up doesn’t
mean he never had any. Just means he was careful.”
shook his head and turned away, making a show of searching
out clean jeans and underwear.
Sam tried to regain the older man’s attention,
but Dean seemed to be finding his laundry pile a hell
of a lot more fascinating than his little brother right
about then. “Dean!” Sam repeated a little
more forcefully, and Dean grudgingly looked back up
at him. Sam sighed and shrugged his shoulders a little
helplessly. “Dad has a lot of secrets, man.”
made no immediate reply, just returned to his inspection
of his dirty clothes for a few long seconds. “He’d
have told us,” he finally said at length, his
voice so low Sam barely heard him. “He’d
have told us, Sammy.”
nodded silently, not wishing to shatter Dean’s
illusions regarding their father—or his devotion
to their mother—with idle speculation. Bonnie
could just be a friend after all.
we’re going to Lynchburg?” he asked at last,
looking up expectantly as Dean finally located an almost
clean pair of jeans at the bottom of the laundry pile
and pulled them free with a triumphant flourish.
of Jack Daniels, man,” Dean repeated with a grin
that didn’t quite make it all the way to his eyes.
“God’s own distillery.”
smiled weakly. Well at least it was better than Dean
insisting they camp out at Stull cemetery for the next
that as an answer, he shrugged neutrally. “Okay
then,” he said, throwing the last of his clothes
into his duffle. “I guess we’re going to
drives went, this one had been pretty uneventful, Dean
blasting out AC/DC at full volume all the way down the
I-65, studiously refusing to discuss anything but bacon
cheeseburgers and the weather, while Sam repeatedly
threw him his standard emo please can we talk about
this? bitchface every couple of miles, just in
case he’d forgotten they were on their way to
visit some chick who may or may not be Dad’s girlfriend.
Girlfriend. That made Dad sound all of sixteen.
had a hard time trying to imagine his dad as a teenager,
so trying to imagine a sixteen-year-old Johnny Winchester
engaged in extracurricular activity with a member of
the opposite sex was damn near impossible. Not to mention,
ew. It fair made his toes curl.
he chuckled to himself, glancing at the street sign
as he swung the Impala around onto Bonnie Reynolds’
street. “Elm Street. Just as I was beginning to
think this was all one doozie of a nightmare. Guess
I was right.”
Sam said quietly, switching off his cellphone’s
GPS map locator which he’d insisted on using,
even though Dean had assured him he wouldn’t need
it. “We don’t even know who—what—we’re
dealing with here. Be nice.”
Yeah, that pretty much summed up the neighborhood: the
unremarkable little clapboard houses in their unremarkable
little gardens full of unremarkable people. Nice.
Yeah, the area was nice.
shuddered as he pulled the Impala to a stop outside
the address Bonnie had given Sam. This was all a little
sitcom suburbia for him. Any minute now he expected
to see the Cosby family come strolling down the street
in matching sweaters, or one of the Cunningham kids
heading off to feed the jukebox at Al’s Diner.
tried not to think about how much this house reminded
him of their house back in Lawrence. Or, at least, the
house back in Lawrence that still existed in the memory
of a four-year-old kid.
also tried not to think about the possibility his dad
may have had a whole other family tucked away nice and
safe out here in the ’burbs.
whole other family neither Dean nor Sam knew about.
shook his head decisively. No. Sam was being
would have told them.
would have told him.
Bonnie was just a friend of John’s. Nothing more.
Just a friend. Just a friend who needed some help.
a friend whose existence John had kept hidden from his
sons, possibly for years.
the rational part of Dean’s brain interjected,
keeping Bonnie’s existence on a need-to-know basis—and
John obviously didn’t think even his sons needed
to know about her—had probably also kept her off
the radar of all the vindictive creatures of the night
who would have liked nothing better than to see the
entire Winchester family—and anyone connected
that’s why Dad didn’t tell them? To protect
Bonnie and her family?
made a conscious effort to swallow the hard lump in
his throat as he swung his legs out of the car and stepped
onto the sidewalk outside Bonnie’s picture perfect
nice,” Sam muttered as he drew up to his shoulder,
and Dean grunted dismissively.
if you’re one of the Bradys,” he returned.
nice, yeah I’ll be nice, just like the house,”
he assured his brother, stepping onto Bonnie’s
driveway and faltering a little when he spotted the
pristine 1966 Pontiac GTO parked on the red paving stones.
While ordinarily he would have been drooling over such
a fine example of American automotive artistry, the
memory of the haunted Pontiac factory in Michigan was
still a little bit too fresh in his mind for comfort.
took a hesitant step backwards before giving the Pontiac
a wide berth, Sam sniggering softly in his ear.
up, Sam,” he muttered, casting his gaze over the
slightly dented mailbox with the name “Reynolds”
painted on the side in bright orange and the old basketball
hoop rusting over the garage door. Huh. He guessed kids
used to live here once.
jaw tightened, fists balling at his sides.
way. No freakin’ way.
Dad would have told them.
was knocking on the front door of the Reynolds house
before he even realized he’d reached the top of
the drive, and when the door opened it suddenly occurred
to him he had absolutely no idea what to say to the
woman standing on the doorstep, a slightly nervous smile
on her face.
was in her late forties maybe, long blonde hair tied
in a braid down her back, twinkling hazel green eyes
and fair skin, and Dean had to look away from her for
a second, swallowing hard and breathing a little too
quickly while his heart did a mad tango in his chest.
spent more time than he’d ever care to admit over
the last twenty-six years trying to imagine what his
mom would look like now if she was still alive. And
the second he clapped eyes on Bonnie Reynolds he figured
she must have popped right out of his subconscious and
onto this doorstep in the middle of Elm Street, Lynchburg,
Tennessee, the home of Jack Daniels.
if Mary Winchester were still alive? Dean was pretty
damn sure she’d look a hell of a lot like this.
must be John’s boys,” the woman hazarded.
She was looking at Sam as she spoke, but Dean was pretty
sure she was including him in that statement too.
cleared his throat, managing to find his voice before
Dean had even thought of a coherent sentence. “Bonnie?”
he said, holding out his hand, which Bonnie took gently
between both of hers. “Hi, I’m Sam, this
is my brother, Dean.”
smiled a little awkwardly, wrapping her hands around
Sam’s and nodding briefly at Dean before turning
her attention back to the younger brother.
would have known you were John’s, even if I just
bumped into you in the street,” she insisted,
still not quite looking at Dean as she spoke.
the hell was this strange effect Sam seemed
to have on older women?
ma’am,” Dean put in, finally finding his
voice. “We’re real chips off the old block.”
actually seemed to look at him for the first time then.
have your mom’s eyes,” she observed wistfully,
which shut Dean right the hell up. “Your dad had—pictures…”
she trailed off, glancing behind her before beckoning
them into the house. “Where are my manners?”
she said, her voice a little high-pitched. “Come
on in now. Can’t have you both standing out there
on the porch all day!”
immediately followed Bonnie into the house, Dean following
Sam after a last wary look at the GTO.
house was pretty much as Dean would have expected it
to be from the looks of the outside: plain, pastel walls
and simple furniture, a few mismatched ornaments scattered
here and there.
he hadn’t expected was the salt line he and Sam
had to step across to get inside, or the wards carved
inconspicuously into the door frame.
like Dad had done a pretty good job of teaching these
folks how to protect themselves.
Sam into a moderately sized but comfortable living room,
Dean felt his footsteps falter as he caught sight of
the young man and woman sitting on one of the sofas,
their expressions a little bit too unreadable for Dean’s
were both about Sam’s age, maybe a bit younger,
the girl blonde haired with hazel green eyes like her
mother, the boy darker with brown eyes that kind of
reminded Dean of… Oh hell
Dean, this is my son Chris and my daughter Amie.”
blinked a little uncertainly at the guy, who merely
nodded his head in acknowledgement.
to meet you,” he heard Sam say from somewhere
a million miles off to his right as his vision tunneled
and his chest constricted painfully.
a breath, his attention skittered to the photographs
on the mantel, a handsome, dark haired man with a woman
who was clearly Bonnie a couple of decades earlier,
and two little kids, a blonde girl and a dark haired
boy whose brown eyes were the mirror of…his father’s?
sucked in a relieved breath.
Dad had a type, then so, apparently, did Bonnie.
sit.” Bonnie’s voice drifted back up to
him, and Dean felt an insistent tug on his sleeve, looking
down to see Sam making a face at him as if he was a
space alien, or nuts, or both, as he pulled him down
next to him on the sofa.
favored his brother with a disgruntled scowl before
turning a not-entirely-fake smile at Bonnie, who had
perched herself on the edge of the opposite sofa, next
to her daughter.
a second no one spoke, the Winchesters just looking
at the Reynolds, who just looked right on back.
how did you know our dad?” Dean’s voice
broke the uneasy silence, Dean himself not entirely
sure where it had come from.
felt rather than saw Sam wince next to him, but Bonnie
just smiled fondly, obviously not taking Dean’s
question the same way Sam had.
husband,” she said, twisting a gold wedding band
around her finger before inclining her head toward the
photographs on the mantel. “Andy. He was killed
getting on for twenty years ago now. Thought it was
an accident at the time—fell off the roof fixing
a couple of loose tiles.” She blinked a couple
of times before smiling weakly. “You know to be
honest I think I’d rather have stuck with the
leaky roof.” She was back to twisting her ring
again, and Amie gently took her hand to still the movement.
back up at the Winchesters, Bonnie continued her explanation.
“It was a couple weeks after Andy passed that
John—your dad—showed up on the doorstep
asking some weird questions that honestly made me think
he was a bit of a nut!”
smile was almost as sad as Bonnie’s. “Yeah,
that’s the first impression he tends to give most
people. Last impression usually involves firearms or
smile widened a little bit and she nodded. “I
kinda sensed that about him,” she agreed, nodding
affectionately. “Anyway, he told me that Andy’s
was the fourth ‘accidental’ death in a two
square mile area in as many weeks. Figured there was
something in the neighborhood, maybe even something
in this house—” she looked around herself
wistfully. “Something that wanted us out. Or wanted
Dad figure out what it was?” Sam asked, sitting
forward slightly, his hands clasped together between
nodded. “You know I never was much of a believer
in ghosts and such like, but after meeting your dad?”
She chuckled. “Well, he could make a believer
out of anybody!”
can be pretty persuasive when he wants to be,”
Sam agreed with a wan smile, glancing sideways at Dean.
pretty charming,” Bonnie added. “I was skeptical
at first. He told me it was the spirit of William Richardson,
a Confederate soldier who died up at the Battle of Shiloh
in 1862. His brother Thomas was a Unionist, owned the
house and the land that stood here back then. The spirit
had apparently returned in search of his brother, somehow
realized Thomas was long dead, and instead decided to
find and kill his heirs, effectively erasing his brother’s
bloodline from history.
of the four men he killed—including Andy—was
related in any way to Thomas Richardson. They were just
in the wrong place at the wrong time. William was just
systematically working his way through all the men living
in the two mile plot of land that had been his brother’s,
just in case any of them were his heirs.”
yet methodical,” Dean commented. “Kinda
like Sammy here.”
Sam protested, and Dean grinned at him.
dad put the soldier’s spirit to rest,” Bonnie
continued. “Not sure how. Had something to do
with his remains—”
thought at that time the remains of Confederate soldiers
who died in battle were just left where they fell on
the battlefield?” Sam put in.
nodded. “Yes. That’s why it took your dad
a while to put him to rest.”
salted and burned a whole battlefield?” Dean asked
a little incredulously.
shook her head. “Your dad performed some kind
of cleansing ritual around the circumference of the
land Thomas Richardson owned and the circumference of
the battlefield. He said that was enough to lay the
brother’s spirit to rest.”
nodded. “Yeah, I’ve read about rituals like
that. Never actually tried one though.”
dad—” Bonnie hesitated. “Well he told
me he’d brought you boys up to know about all
this supernatural stuff. Said you both helped out with
the ‘family business.’”
way he could think of to keep us alive,” Dean
suppose,” Bonnie agreed. “I think he had
the same idea about us. Stayed in touch with me and
my kids, tried to make sure we could protect ourselves.”
breathed out a mental sigh of relief. Bonnie had her
kids before she met Dad. Dean knew the guy
had his secrets, but no way would he keep something
that big from him and Sam.
dad was so good to us,” Bonnie continued. “Looked
out for us, came to visit whenever he could. Taught
all three of us how to shoot. Taught Chris about cars.”
your GTO out front?” Dean asked, his voice constricting
a little in his throat.
virtually beamed with pride. “Uh-huh. Used to
be my dad’s. John helped me fix it up. Showed
me how to take care of it till I was old enough to actually
drive it. Showed me how to actually drive it!”
he laughed softly, and Dean didn’t fail to notice
the tiny crease that crinkled Sam’s brow.
taught you to drive?”
Chris confirmed. “Amie too.”
nodded stiffly, his mouth compressing into a line, and
Dean wanted to make a joke of it, tell Sam he’d
taught him to drive way better than Dad ever would have.
He kinda sucked when he taught Dean.
instead he just leaned slightly in Sam’s direction,
lightly brushing his shoulder with his own.
obvious hurt in Sam’s eyes dimmed a little. “Yeah,”
he said softly, only loud enough for Dean to hear. “I
taught us how to protect ourselves when he wasn’t
here,” Bonnie continued. “Showed us how
to lay salt lines. Draw wards to keep stuff out. Gave
us the tools to deal with whatever was out there in
case it ever came knocking at our door again.”
cleared his throat as Bonnie trailed off, her eyes misting
up. “He—he spend a lot of time here?”
he asked as casually as he was able, and this time it
was Sam’s shoulder that bumped up against his.
shrugged. “Whenever he could. Sometimes he’d
show up for a couple of days, sometimes for a couple
of weeks. Sometimes it’d be weeks between visits,
sometimes longer. He always used to say we’d be
surprised how much there was for him to hunt around
Dean agreed weakly, smile never faltering as he tried
to remember how many times dad had brought him and Sam
with him to Tennessee. Off the top of his head, he could
only think of maybe two occasions, and one of those
might have been when Dad first came here to deal with
William Richardson’s spirit.
Dean realized she’d moved, Amie had pulled a photograph
from the mantel, one that had been tucked in a corner
where Dean hadn’t seen it.
she said, holding it out so the Winchesters could look.
“I guess I was maybe nine or ten when this was
didn’t think he could remember Dad ever looking
so happy. Except maybe in those photographs with Mom…
There he was, arm slung around Bonnie’s shoulder,
the two kids in front. Just like the other pictures
on the mantel, the ones with Bonnie’s husband
in them. Portraits. Posed portraits. Like Dad
had gotten himself all cleaned up and actually gone
to a photographer’s studio with his surrogate
should have told them, dammit…
long have you known him?” Sam suddenly asked,
breaking in on his thoughts. “Our dad. I know
you said your husband passed getting on for twenty years
died in 1994,” Bonnie replied promptly. “Chris
was ten and Amie was only seven.” The wistful
smile returned and she gently tucked a strand of her
daughter’s hair behind her ear. “In some
ways, John’s been more of a father to my kids
than their own dad ever got the chance to be.”
John had been seeing this woman since 1994? Sixteen
years? Since Dean was fifteen? When he was cutting
class and flunking school because he was too busy taking
care of Sam while Dad was off playing house with this
woman and her two normal kids. All the Christmases
he’d missed. All the birthdays. Was Dad here
while his sons were taking care of each other because
their dad had more important things to take care of?
He’d always thought it was the job—the job
always came first, before everything. But maybe he’d
been wrong. Maybe it hadn’t been the job that
had kept Dad away all those times.
a second he was so angry he wanted to smash something.
took a breath, tried to look at Sam but couldn’t.
he’d been fifteen. Not like he’d been a
little kid. He’d been more than capable of taking
care of Sammy by that age—had been for years—and
he and Sam got to do a hell of a lot of cool stuff John
would never have allowed had he been around all the
time. And it wasn’t like John had taken off and
forgotten about them. Sure, he’d had this second
family he’d never told them about, but it’s
not like they were blood or anything. Not like
Dean and Sammy.
was rationalizing and he knew it. And when he finally
plucked up the courage to steal a glance in Sam’s
direction, he could tell from the expression on his
brother’s face that Sam knew it too. And he’d
not even said anything.
didn’t Dad tell us about you?” Sam finally
asked the question Dean had been wanting to ask but
hadn’t had the stones to string the words into
a sentence. “Why did he never bring us by here?
Introduce us? Why the big secret?”
shrugged. “Lord knows I asked him enough times,”
she said softly. “I mean, he talked about you
boys all the time, showed me pictures, but—but
whenever I asked him to bring you here he always made
some excuse—you were in school, you had places
to be. I couldn’t understand it at first, but
after a while, when I learned about what happened to
your mom, what you’d all been through, I began
to figure that maybe he wanted to keep the different
parts of his life separate, compartmentalized. So that
if anything happened to you boys, he’d still have
us, and vice versa. As if he didn’t dare have
us all in one place just in case something happened
to all of us and destroyed everything he had left. Like
it did when he lost your mother.”
shook his head, his shoulders tense. “He still
should have told us about you.”
Bonnie agreed. “But I think he thought he was
protecting you boys. You know? He always said you wanted
a mom so bad, Sam, maybe he thought you might want to
come here and then…then…I don’t know.
Something would happen to us. He’s terrified of
losing anyone else. Terrified.”
fleetingly wondered whether Dad had told Bonnie about
the Curse, about Haris. About what Sam could do.
Bonnie ran a tired hand over her forehead. “I
can’t speak for your dad’s motives. He plays
things pretty close to his chest, always has. But—”
she looked up suddenly, clearly upset and worried and
scared out of her mind. “I just need you to tell
me where he is; whether he’s okay. Please. Just—just
tell me. Even if it’s bad. Please. Just tell me.”
obviously knew what John’s “work”
involved. She knew what he dealt with every day. But
how to explain something like Stull to her?
trapped,” Dean began with a resigned sigh. “In
a—well, it’s a little like a doorway between—uh—”
planes of existence,” Sam offered. “Alternate
universes? You know, there’s this theory that
there are an infinite amount of realities coexisting
together and—and Dad—”
through a doorway into one of ’em,” Dean
expression remained stoically neutral, although Chris
and Amie both fidgeted a little on the sofa. “Can
you—can he get home?” she asked hesitantly,
looking first to Sam and then to Dean. “Can you
get him out?”
think so,” Sam said, doing a pretty good job of
sounding reassuring. “We hope so.”
doorway opens again on March 20th,” Dean added.
think we’ll be able to get him out then.”
Chris asked, causing the boys to glance sideways at
worry,” Dean offered, smiling. “We’ll
figure something out. We always do. We’ll get
him back. Don’t worry.”
laughed mirthlessly. “Don’t worry?”
she echoed. “The way you boys aren’t worrying?”
straightened. Was he that transparent? “We’ll
get him back,” he asserted a little more forcefully.
“We will. Only way this ends.”
seemed to take some comfort from that. “I believe
you,” she said earnestly.
quirked an eyebrow. “You do?”
do,” Bonnie confirmed. “’Cause you
sounded just like your dad when you said it.”
expression lightened a little. “I think I’ll
take that as a compliment.”
was meant as one,” Bonnie confirmed. “When
your dad sets his mind to something, you better get
out of his way and let him get on with it.”
Dean agreed. “Story of our lives.”
gently took the picture of John Amie still held, gazing
at it briefly. “And his.”
broke the silence that followed. “So you were
trying to get a hold of Dad?” he said, deftly
changing the subject. “You said on the phone there
was something we needed to see…?”
nodded, rising slowly to her feet. “This way,”
she said, heading for the door.
and Sam followed, Amie and Chris remaining in the living
followed her into a homely kitchen, a big wooden dining
table with a vase of daffodils in the center; more photographs
of John and Bonnie and the kids scattered on the dresser.
opened the kitchen door leading out onto a modestly-sized
garden, indicating the unbroken salt line lacing the
threshold. “I take all the precautions,”
she informed them. “Always keep the doors and
the windows salted.” She put her hands on her
hips and shook her head. “I don’t know how
it got in.”
frowned. “How what got in?”
turned to close the door without answering, showing
them instead to another door which appeared to lead
down into the basement. “This way.”
was like any other basement Dean had ever been in—stone
steps, slightly uneven, leading down to a concrete floor
and a room full of crap. Older crap, newer crap. The
kind of crap people kept in their basements. A washer
and a dryer.
a trunk thrown open in the far corner, US Marine Corps
asked if he could leave some of his things here,”
Bonnie was saying, heading straight for the trunk. “Clothes,
books. Some other little knickknacks. And this wooden
box full of photographs that he kept in the back of
remember that,” Dean told her. “Jenny, the
lady that—that used to live in the house in Lawrence
where our mom died, found it in her basement.”
the one,” Bonnie confirmed. “For John’s
birthday a couple of years ago I decided to make a photograph
album for him,” she said. “Put in the pictures
from that box, some others he had in this trunk of his—pictures
from when he was a kid, his mom and dad, his buddies
from the Corps, Mary.” She laughed softly. “He
had a lot of pictures of you boys. From before the fire
told you about the fire?” Sam asked.
Bonnie said. “Not sure he told me everything,
but he told me the basics. About how he found your mom…”
She trailed off, shaking her head. “Twenty years
later, he still could barely talk about it. Talked about
you two instead. Showed me these pictures—”
she turned her attention to Dean, “—of you
driving that big old Impala of his when you were about
ten. Sam’s graduation.”
seemed surprised. “He kept my graduation picture?”
couple of different ones, yeah,” Bonnie said.
“He was so proud of you boys.”
sniffed and rubbed at his eyes a little, and Dean shoulder-checked
Sam returned wetly.
grinned before turning back to Bonnie. “Always
wondered what he did with all that stuff. Figured he
must be stashing it someplace.”
think he has other hidey-holes,” Bonnie commented
wryly. “But he kept some of his most precious
things here.” She indicated the open trunk.
the open photograph album lying in front of it.
glowing photograph album.
thoughts exactly,” Bonnie agreed, finally coming
to a stop a couple of feet away from the thing. “Can’t
explain it. John always kept it at the bottom of his
trunk. Last time he looked at it was probably the last
time he was here—last March or April maybe. Yesterday
morning, I woke up to find the basement door open and
the album lying on the floor like this, glowing. At
first I thought I’d been burgled, but there’s
no sign of forced entry, the salt lines are all intact,
nothing’s missing and this seems to be the only
thing that’s been touched.”
took a step toward the album, but Bonnie caught his
arm. “Careful,” she said urgently. “Anything
happened to you boys in my house I’d never be
able to live with myself.”
smiled reassuringly at her. “Family business,
remember?” he reminded her.
you’ve seen something like this before?”
coughed. “Not exactly.”
another step forward, Dean bent over to examine the
album a little more closely, immediately recognizing
one of the photographs staring up at him from the open
page: Mom, Dad, Dean when he was a little kid and Sammy
when he was a baby. He swallowed. Part of him hated
that photo. Remembered Dad just staring at it for hours
on end in the months after the fire. It had been stuck
in the cover of his journal until Sam had that weirdo
vision that had led them back to Lawrence, to their
old house, to Jenny and her kids and Missouri.
didn’t really remember the photograph being taken,
but he’d looked at it enough times since Jenny
gave that other copy back to them to know every last
detail of it by heart.
a little lower, he frowned at the dark shape lurking
behind the big tree in the background. That wasn’t
there last time he—
I don’t think—”
reached out toward the faintly glowing pages.
wait, don’t touch it!”
Sam’s warning came too late, Dean’s fingers
already having grazed the plastic.
was a blinding flash, and Dean felt Sam’s fingers
gripping his arm, trying to pull him back, so tight
it hurt, and it was as if he was teetering on the edge
of a canyon, Sam pulling him one way while gravity pulled
him the other.
was falling, and it was dark and the wind was rushing
past his ears, and then there was something solid at
his back, something solid and hard, and he was pretty
sure he banged his head.
he was lying on something soft.
a breath as his heart tried to tango right on out of
his chest, he gingerly opened one eye. Then the other.
Only to find himself staring up at the roof of the Impala.
the hell? Did he fall asleep in the car? Did he dream
Bonnie and her kids and their suburban house with their
suburban garden and their GTO and their freaky photo
bolted upright, his head swimming a little as he attempted
to follow the direction of his brother’s voice.
was lying on the backseat of the old Chevy, one arm
slung over his eyes. “Oh man, got any Dramamine?”
he asked mirthlessly, and Dean had to admit, he did
look a little green around the gills.
I think I just had the trippiest dream ever,”
Dean confessed, casting his eyes around the car nervously.
“I dreamt we were in some woman’s basement
and she showed us a photo of Mom and Dad and it was
glowing, and…and…now we’re in the
in the Impala?”
finally removed the crook of his elbow from his eyes,
looking up at Dean uncertainly.
in the Impala.”
I remember Bonnie’s basement too. You weren’t
dreaming, man. You reached down to touch the photo album,
and I tried to grab you, and…and…”
in the Impala.”
rubbed at his eyes, half expecting his car to disappear
only to be replaced once again by Bonnie’s basement.
But as he looked around, he realized he was still in
the old Chevy, which looked exactly the same as it always
from the old radio cassette player in the dashboard.
replaced that with a CD player years ago, right? After
they got turned into a pretzel by the semi? And he would
swear a couple months ago he remembered Sam adding that
fancy gizmo for plugging in his MP3 player.
scratched his head thoughtfully.
he asked, fishing around under the seat for his box
of beloved cassette tapes, which also appeared to be
missing. “I didn’t dream you putting a CD
player in my car either, did I?”
head and torso suddenly sprang up from the backseat,
and he was squinting uncertainly at him. “Huh?
Man, did we both hit our heads or something?”
at this.” Dean waved in the general direction
of the dashboard. “And my cassettes are gone.”
don’t look at me. I know I’ve been telling
you to get rid of them since we got the CD player, but
I value my life too much to mess with your Metallica.”
popped open the glovebox, peering inside a little apprehensively.
“Dude, my IDs are gone too,” he told his
brother, feeling around for the cigar box in which he
kept the laminated cards. “All that’s left
in here’s a flashlight, a roll of Life Savers
and a pacifier.”
what?” Sam blinked at the bright blue rubber and
plastic item Dean was holding.
a pacifier in my car, Sam.” Dean threw the offensive
item back into the glovebox disgustedly. “Why’s
there a pacifier in my car?”
grimaced uncomfortably, reaching underneath himself
and pulling out an obviously well-loved teddy bear,
one eye missing and mostly pretty threadbare. “Man,
you have a kid while I wasn’t lookin’?”
drew in a sharp breath. “Mr. Teddy?” he
murmured, snatching the bear out of Sam’s hand
and examining it incredulously.
Teddy?” Sam snorted.
scowled at him. “Sam, I remember this thing. This
was my teddy bear!”
dumbass, when I was a kid. Y’know. Before. Took
it to bed with me every night until…until the
fire. Used to pretend he was one of those ‘angels
watching over me’ Mom always insisted were hanging
didn’t even try to hide the smirk breaking out
on his face. “You had a teddy bear? Aw, Dean,
listen to me!” Dean said, barely keeping the panic
out of his voice. “That thing burned up in the
fire! Understand? It burned Sam! I left it
in my room when I heard—when I heard Mom—when
I heard—when I got you out of the house, and when
Dad went back a couple days later, he said it was gone.”
instantly sobered. “Seriously?”
what the hell’s going on here?”
cast his gaze out of the front windshield, desperately
trying to figure out where—when?—they were.
was autumn beyond the Impala’s windows, the leaves
were a golden brown and gently falling from the trees.
The Chevy was parked on a suburban street, not unlike
the one where Bonnie lived, and Dean got the distinct
impression he’d been here before.
remembered this street. He remembered parking in this
exact spot four years earlier, that first time he and
Sam visited Jenny and her family after Sam dreamed about
the tree and the house…
took him several seconds, but he finally managed to
screw up the courage to look at the house.
was their house.
one he’d lived in until he was four. The one Jenny
had lived in until last year, when Mia finally razed
it to the ground.
looked perfect. The way it looked in his memory. Not
his memory of four years ago, but his memory of before.
When he was a kid. Just like it had looked in that photo,
the one he’d been looking at when…
he said quietly. “I think we’re home.”
Sam. Lawrence. We’re home.”
can we be in Lawrence, Dean? We were in Tennessee a
couple of minutes ago!”
shook his head, finally tearing his eyes away from the
house, and for the first time noticing the people standing
on the lawn out front. The lawn where he’d stood
with baby Sammy in his arms all those years ago as his
mom burned up in the nursery.
wasn’t sure why he recognized Dad’s former
business partner and best friend first. He was slimmer
and a whole lot younger than he had been four years
ago when he and Sam had spoken to him at the garage
he and Dad used to run together.
in a little closer will you?” the mechanic said,
squinting through the viewfinder of an ancient-looking
camera at the family of four arranged on the lawn in
front of the tree.
closer and I’ll have to marry her!” the
guy on the lawn said, turning to the woman and grinning.
“Oh wait, I already did that!”
just do like Mike tells you for once, huh?” the
woman chided him playfully. “Sammy’s getting
heavy. Not sure I can hold him up here much longer!”
crap,” both Dean and Sam managed to mutter in
Sam whispered. “Dean, that’s us.
That’s Dad and—and Mom, Dean!”
nodded dumbly, taking in the sight of his parents, his
baby brother and himself standing right there
on the lawn, not twenty feet from where they were sitting,
posing for the very photograph Dean had just been looking
at in Bonnie’s basement, the one in John’s
journal, the one Jenny had found: “The Winchesters.
John, Mary, Dean and little Sammy…”
he began to wonder whether they’d fallen back
through Stull’s revolving door into unreality.
wasn’t entirely sure Chris believed her.
not making this up, Christopher,” she insisted
a little haughtily, pulling out her cellphone and frantically
scrolling through her contact numbers.
serious?” Amie burst out. “They
fell into the photo album?”
and Chris were standing staring down at the still-glowing
photo album, both seeming to be keeping a safe distance
despite their obvious skepticism.
Amie. John’s boys fell into the photo album. One
minute they were here, the next minute they weren’t.”
a second, she turned her attention away from her cell
and back to the album, squinting down at the photograph
of the Winchester family in front of that big spooky-looking
dark seemed to move to the left of the frame, and she
blinked. When she opened her eyes again, the shadow
she would swear she had seen was gone, and she was left
looking down at a picture of John and his dead wife
smiling into the camera.
she muttered, dragging in a breath and trying to think
for a minute. “Ordinarily, something this weird
call John,” Chris finished for her, bending to
look a little more closely at the photograph.
caught his arm and pulled him back, smiling sheepishly.
“Doesn’t hurt to be cautious,” she
told him. “It may sound crazy, but a lot of what
John’s told us is pretty whacked too, right?”
we need to get some help, here,” Chris informed
his mother a little redundantly. “Maybe we should
call the cops?”
tell them what?” Amie demanded. “Our mom’s
boyfriend’s sons just fell into a photo album?”
be quiet,” Bonnie hushed them suddenly, finally
finding the number she’d been looking for in her
contact list. “John gave me one other number to
try in case of emergency. I think this qualifies as
was getting dark and Sam and Dean had nowhere to go.
been skulking around their old house for a while now,
hiding in the Impala until the family on the lawn—their
family—had gone back into the house, before
figuring they’d better shag ass out of there before
someone saw them and called the cops.
like Mike Guenther, who’d looked at them very
strangely as he’d left their old house, crossing
the street to avoid them, and then glancing over his
shoulder every couple of feet as he’d made his
way back to his own house a few blocks away.
is stupid,” Dean growled, once again bashing his
fist against the invisible barrier barring his and Sam’s
tried to do the sensible thing, tried to retreat to
a safe distance while they regrouped to figure out what
the hell was going on, but the universe seemed to have
other ideas, and they couldn’t get any further
than a few feet along the sidewalk in either direction
of their old house before they hit one of these stupid
smacked his fist against it one more time, and when
it still didn’t give, he virtually growled.
let’s think,” Sam said, pacing backwards
and forwards along the sidewalk. “We can get across
the street to—”
Mr. Russell’s house,” Dean supplied absently,
dragging a hand through his hair.
Sam conceded. “But we can’t get further
than a few feet in either direction on this side of
the street either, almost as if we’re stuck in—”
photo,” Dean said suddenly.
looked up at his brother’s apparent revelation.
photo,” Dean repeated, suddenly dropping down
onto the curb outside the Russell house and staring
across the street toward the place where he’d
spent the first four years of his life. “Sammy,
I think we’re in the photo.”
sat down heavily by his side, saying nothing, but turning
his gaze in the direction of his brother’s, the
two of them staring at the only childhood home they’d
ever known as the lights came on in the living room,
then in one of the upstairs rooms.
your nursery,” Dean murmured, resting his elbows
on his knees while he cupped his chin in his hands.
do you mean we’re in the photo?” Sam interrupted,
his voice soft, his eyes still focused on the house
across the street.
photograph I was looking at—the one I touched
before we wound up here,” Dean explained, sighing
lightly. “It was the one Jenny found—the
one from Dad’s journal. Mom and Dad and me as
a kid and you as a baby standing in front of that tree,
in front of that house. The picture we saw Mike Guenther
take this afternoon. Sam, we can’t go any further
down the street because we can’t go outside the
photograph—a couple of feet to either side of
Sam held up a hand, his scrutiny shifting to his brother.
“You’re actually saying—you’re
saying we’re in the photograph? As in—really
shrugged, still not turning his gaze away from the house.
“Stranger things have happened, man,” he
pointed out. “And someone—something—messed
with Bonnie’s photo album. Dad’s photo
album. Maybe they put a whammy on it—some kind
of mojo that—”
us into the picture?” Sam asked a little incredulously.
“So…so you’re saying this was a trap?
Someone lured us to Bonnie’s house with the express
purpose of trapping us in her photograph album? C’mon,
man! Not only is that—y’know—nuts,
but how could anyone know Bonnie would call us?”
Dad missing?” Dean sighed again. “Who else
would she call?” He shook his head. “I dunno,
man. It’s the best I got. This is our house. This
is the house Mom died in. That was Mike Guenther taking
that picture, the same picture Jenny found in Dad’s
box in the basement of the same house we’re looking
at right now. It’s gotta mean something, Sam!
Coincidence I get, but this? This is more than that.
what?” Sam looked up sharply.
When we were in Bonnie’s basement I—I thought
I saw something in the picture. A shadow. Something.
Something moving. That’s why I wanted to take
a closer look.”
you think something else is in here with us?”
drew in a long breath. “You know this makes no
when did our lives ever make sense?”
Sam conceded. “So…not that I’m completely
convinced by your theory,” he said slowly. “If
we are inside the photograph, how come we can
get across the street? That wasn’t in the picture
because we’re behind where Mike was standing when
he took the photograph?” Dean hazarded. “The
picture’s only two dimensional, right? There’s
left and there’s right, but there’s not
forward and backwards. So maybe as long as we’re
looking in the same direction the camera was looking,
we can move in that direction.”
raised a skeptical eyebrow. “So can we go
behind the house? That’s the direction the
camera was pointed.”
question,” Dean conceded. “The camera couldn’t
see behind the house.” He drew himself to his
feet, having to look away and back to his brother when
he noticed his mom drawing the curtains across the nursery
window. “Maybe we should go check?”
stood, nodding slightly. “Okay. Although we could
get ourselves arrested if Dad catches us.”
we could,” Dean agreed. “But where the hell
are the cops gonna take us if we can’t leave the
Sam said. “Could make for an interesting experiment,
don’t recommend it,” Dean returned, crossing
the road and casually checking out the lay of the land
before wandering up onto the Winchesters’ front
lawn as if he owned the place.
followed him, hands in his jeans pockets as he rounded
his shoulders, fairly ineffectually attempting to make
himself look smaller.
they made their way around the back of the house, Dean
pulling up short when he hit the back fence.
get any further,” he informed Sam, pushing his
hand against the air above the wooden slats only to
find the same invisible resistance they’d encountered
out on the street.
we definitely can’t get around back of the house,”
Sam added, tugging on Dean’s sleeve.
followed the direction of his brother’s gaze,
sucking in a breath when he checked out the back of
the big black hole of nothingness where the back of
the house should have been.
crap,” Dean muttered, taking a step toward the
pool of blackness where the garden should have stood.
don’t,” Sam warned, and for once Dean heeded
his little brother’s advice, drawing back from
the area of darkness.
was as if the rear of the house was composed of precisely
nothing, or maybe more accurately, the absence of anything,
a place devoid of definition because the camera hadn’t
been able to see what was back here simply because the
house itself was in the way.
in the far distance, on the other side of the house,
the other side of the garden, fences and gardens and
neighboring houses were clearly visible, the edges of
the area caught in the camera’s lens.
was as freaky as all hell, and Dean shuddered.
get out of here,” he suggested, shoving his hands
in his jacket pockets and trying to pretend this didn’t
freak him the hell out.
made a move toward the front of the house, but suddenly
Sam grabbed his sleeve again.
glanced back at his brother, who was squinting into
the patch of darkness where the back garden should have
brother frowned minutely. “I thought I saw something,”
he muttered. “Something moving. Almost like—like
a shadow within a shadow. Like I could only see it when
I wasn’t actually looking at it.”
turned to scrutinize the spot Sam was staring at, but
couldn’t see a damn thing, and eventually Sam
laughed hollowly and shook his head.
at shadows,” he said. “Literally. C’mon,
continued to stare at the shadows for a couple more
seconds, before reluctantly accompanying his brother
back out onto the street.
there, they again assessed their surroundings, wondering
what the hell they were going to do next.
someone’s gonna call the cops if we hang around
out here much longer,” Sam pointed out, fidgeting
nervously from foot to foot. He shoved his hands under
his armpits, and it was only then that Dean realized
how cold it was getting out here.
our luck we couldn’t get sucked into a photograph
of a tropical beach in summer,” he grumbled, taking
a few paces to the right, before returning to his starting
position with a grunt. “Okay look, we wanna avoid
getting arrested out here, I think our only option is
the Impala. It’s not locked. It’s warmer
in there than it is out here—barely. And if we
keep our heads down, maybe we can hole up there till
we work out how the hell to get out of this place…”
how long’s that gonna take?” Sam asked.
“Dean, we could be stuck here! I mean, really
stuck here! What if we can’t get back?”
burn that bridge when we come to it, Sammy,” Dean
said, making his way back to the Chevy, still sitting
patiently by the side of the road. “But for right
now? I call front seat.”
* * *
wasn’t like they’d never slept in the Impala
before, Dean told himself, staring up at the vinyl ceiling
and trying to slow his breathing to the tempo of Sam’s
soft snores emanating from the back.
this was different. The Impala was different. For all
Dean knew, history was different, just for them being
that even possible? Had they really travelled back in
time? Could a photograph do that? Capture a moment,
freeze it, enable someone with the right words, the
right herbs, the right knowhow, to create a link to
another time, another place? Deposit a person in any
particular moment in history as long as that moment
had been captured by the lens of a camera?
was pretty wacky, even for them.
tried to remember when that photograph had been taken:
The Winchesters. John, Mary, Dean and little Sammy.
He didn’t think it was long before the fire, but
he was just a little kid, and little kids had no real
concept of time at that age.
needed to sleep. Go to sleep. Don’t think about
it for a couple of hours. In the past, he’d come
up with some of his best solutions to seemingly unsolvable
problems while he was sleeping.
sleep. Listen to Sam breathing. Breath with Sam. Go
was a noise.
bolted upright, no idea how long he’d been out,
if he’d actually been sleeping. Whether he’d
dreamt the noise. Whether he was dreaming now.
to get his bearings, he cast he gaze about himself,
taking in the interior of the Impala, Sam still asleep
on the backseat, all ungainly limbs and floppy hair.
street outside was quiet, the streetlight casting a
puddle of orange along the empty sidewalk.
took a breath and glanced at his watch: 11.25pm.
at his eyes, he absently wondered to himself why that
time sounded somehow familiar.
to dislodge the fuzz of fatigue and worry from his brain,
his attention wandered to the Winchester house, a light
snapping on upstairs in the nursery, the flickering
illumination of a TV bleeding out through the living
shadow lurking by the front door.
sat up a little straighter, squinting into the darkness
as he remembered the shadow he thought he’d seen
when he’d been looking at the photograph in Bonnie’s
basement; at the shadow Sam thought he’d seen
behind the house.
was there. Something was at the front door of the house.
it was moving.
frigid fingers fumbled for the handle behind him, opening
the car door as silently as he was able and sliding
his feet out onto the asphalt.
was stirring in the backseat, and he turned to see his
brother sit up, eyes muddied with sleep and bangs falling
in his eyes, just as he heard a click from the direction
of the house.
snapping back to the front door, Dean’s brain
rapidly identified the sound he had just heard as he
squinted into the darkness: it was the sound of a key
turning in a lock.
shadow on the doorstep moved very slightly and there
was a glitter of something shiny, something small, maybe
a key in long shadowy fingers.
crouched lower as he moved around the front driver’s
side wing of the Impala, trying to keep the big Chevy
between himself and whatever it was that was lurking
outside his childhood home.
Sam said again, the back door opening with a creak just
as a pair of jet black eyes turned in Dean’s direction.
froze, ducking his head as another sound reached his
ears, chilling the blood in his veins and making his
heart thud against his ribs.
mother was screaming.
he couldn’t move. He couldn’t move and that
thing, the thing on the doorstep, was just looking at
John’s terrified yell filtered out through the
brick and the glass and the lawn was lit up orange and
Dean could hear his dad’s scream, desperate and
like the first time he’d heard it.
somehow he was standing on the lawn with no idea how
he got there, a part of him not daring to look up because
he knew what he was going to see if he did.
didn’t need to look at his watch to know the time.
It was 11.27pm. 11.27pm on November 2nd, 1983.
he finally plucked up the courage to raise his eyes
to the window of Sam’s nursery, he could see flames
licking their way across the ceiling, the curtains catching
alight as his mother burned above his baby brother’s
swallowed hard, trying to breathe, trying to move, to
help, to run, to do something, but he couldn’t,
he couldn’t move, his legs were Jell-o and he
could sense Sam standing behind him yelling at him,
but he couldn’t seem to make out a word he was
the obsidian eyes blinked at him once before the shadow
moved, quickly, rushing away toward the back of the
house as Sam sprinted after it while Dean just stood
there looking up at the nursery window, a horrible sense
of déjà vu invading his senses.
move. Can’t think. Can’t be
here. Not again.
was as if everything had stopped, time, space, sound,
the flames in the window above his head, everything
stopped until all he could hear was the hammering of
his heart, echoed by an insistent hammering on the front
door of the house and the terrified voice of a little
boy screaming, “Daddy! Daddy!” at the top
of his lungs.
the little boy screamed. “Daddy, it’s locked,
the door’s locked and there’s no key! Daddy!
We can’t get out!”
heard his younger self screaming for his father from
the other side of the door, heard his baby brother howling
in terror, his dad yelling and glass breaking and a
sickening realization suddenly hit him. What that shadow
had been up to. What was happening here.
shadow creature had locked the door. It had locked the
door and taken the key.
tried to think, tried to remember. The door had been
unlocked. When he’d run downstairs with Sammy
in his arms and the flames flickering above his head
and his mom screaming while his dad yelled out her name.
The door had been unlocked. The door had been unlocked
and he’d taken his brother outside, just like
his dad had told him to.
that shadow creature… it had locked the door.
Dean’s younger self inside.
couldn’t get out of the burning house.
if Dean couldn’t get out, neither could Sam. Neither
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