Dean, diner, breakfast food. All ingredients of an apparently normal Winchester morning, but things go rapidly downhill!
The waitress smiled appreciatively at the customer waiting patiently to have his order filled.
Intelligent green eyes and full red lips set in an unbelievably perfect face.
A guy like him was way out of her league, she thought sadly. Short, dumpy and plain, she was definitely not a woman who could ever attract a man like that.
As if he'd read her mind, he offered her a heart-fluttering smile, a sort of consolation prize, before gathering up the bagged goods and pushing through the doors of the diner, leaving her to stare yearningly after him.
Dean sighed happily at the abundance of food he'd just purchased. Burgers and coffee were two of the things that always perked him up. They were familiar and comforting and rarely did he deprive himself of either.
He'd left his brother back at the motel.
Last night's hunt had been harrowing and Sam had borne the brunt of the work while Dean's shoulder was still recovering from a previous injury.
An exhausted Sammy was a positive in Dean's eyes though, because it meant his little brother had sunk promptly into a deep sleep and so was less likely to fall prey to one of his agonizing nightmares.
Dean positioned the bags carefully on the Impala's passenger seat. The last thing he wanted was a coffee stain on his baby's upholstery. He circled the car to the driver's side, sliding in, when from the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of his brother's head towering over a group of people gathered outside the windows of a nearby store.
"What the hell, Sammy!" Dean frowned, swinging his legs back out of the car and setting off towards his brother. "I left you tucked up in bed."
By the time he got to the entrance of what turned out to be a book shop, 'Ink Tales', the little crowd of people, including Sam were already inside.
Dean was poised to push open the old-fashioned door and bitch at his brother for not calling him, when what he spied in the shop window stopped him cold.
He retreated a couple of paces to get a better look, and stared incredulously at what was exposed there. It was a poster-sized photograph of a smiling Sam, accompanied by a caption.
'Book-signing of his first best-selling novel 'World of Darkness' by the new young author, Gerard Ross.
Tuesday the eighth of March, from 10.30 to 12.00'
It took a lot to surprise a man who'd seen the unimaginable but Dean physically felt his jaw drop open in astonishment.
He studied the face on the poster. He could have sworn it was his brother right down to the mole on his cheek but unless Sam had been living a double life, there was no way he was the guy in the photograph.
The first things to race through his mind were 'shape-shifter' or 'ghoul', but writing books had never been a characteristic of any shape-shifter or ghoul he'd come across!
Pulling himself together, he barged into the store and made a bee-line for the back of the room where a group of book-wielding persons, mostly women, were all crowding around a table.
Braving the killer glares of those he pushed aside, he eventually managed to get a clear view of the guy.
"Oh, Mr Ross. I just adore your book, so thrilling and scary, " gushed an old lady as she waited expectantly for the author to autograph her copy.
"Thank you so much Ms...?"
"Marie," she simpered sweetly.
"Marie. I'm really glad you enjoyed."
The Sam lookalike smiled, adding her name to the dedication with a flourish of his pen.
Dean looked on in bewilderment.
That was his brother's voice and that was his brother's face and that was his brother's smile, and the giant paws holding the pen were his brother's hands!
A chill ran down his spine. But something was wrong, very wrong!
The woman moved away and Dean found himself face to face with... whatever this was!
"Um... your book, "
His brother's hazel eyes looked up at him, his hand outstretched to receive another book to sign.
"Sam. Is this some sort of joke? " Dean asked uncertainly, not sure now that it wasn't his brother after all who'd set up some shitty complicated prank.
But there was no recognition in the cut hazel eyes, only a mild curiosity.
Not even Sam was a good enough actor to pull this off, Dean decided, but before Dean got an answer, he felt himself being elbowed to the side by a couple of the over-eager women he'd pushed past earlier, too taken aback to offer any resistance.
Making his way back outside the store, he studied the photograph in the window.
It was uncanny. The guy even had the same girly hair his little brother favoured, if a little shorter. Dean knew it was possible to come across look-a-likes, but for them to be completely identical was uncanny.
He re-entered the store and forked out 20 dollars for a copy of Ross' book, then tagged on to the diminishing queue of book enthusiasts and before long found himself standing in front of 'Sam' again. He held out the book, getting another curious glance from the author as he waited for Dean to speak.
"Is there any particular dedication you'd like, Mr...?"
"Winchester, " Dean replied. "Dean Winchester, and no, just the usual."
"Okay," Ross answered with Sam's soft voice, the name Winchester not causing any obvious reaction
"To Dean Winchester. Enjoy, Gerard Ross."
Dean raked 'Sam's' face trying to find something, anything, that didn't mirror his little brother, but it was useless. The man before him was a perfect copy.
"Excuse me," an annoyed voice complained. "There are still people waiting for a signing."
Dean gave the guy one last confused look, picked up the book and walked out the store.
He yanked out his phone and called Sam, not sure if he actually wanted his sibling to answer, for if he did, it meant the Ross guy was a walking enigma.
"Dean.." a sleepy voice mumbled. "Whatcha want?"
"Nothing Sam. Just checking." He closed the call. That was it! He had to get to the bottom of this and there was only one way to do that!
Loitering outside the store, he kept a surreptitious eye on the interior. There was still a good half hour until the signing ended, then he'd find out what the hell was going on!
The kermesse over, Dean's eyes zeroed in on the Sam clone who was shaking hands with the little group of enthusiasts still milling around him outside the shop.
Dean followed him to a grey Honda Civic parked around the corner from the book store and pulling out his gun, he pointed it at the guy.
"Get in and do exactly as I say," he ordered in his most threatening voice, feeling like a bully when the Sam clone's eyes opened impossibly wide, an expression of fear on the so familiar features.
"What do you want...?"
"Shut up and get in the car, " Dean repeated. "Unless you want me to drop you right here with a bullet to the heart."
He waited until Sam clone got behind the wheel, then jumped in the back and put the muzzle to his head.
"Good boy, now just do what I say and nothling'll happen to you. Take the first turn to the right then second left. You got that?"
"Why are you doing this. If it's money you want, take my wallet." 'Sam' pleaded.
"I said shut up and drive."
When the motel came into sight he told the Sam clone to turn into the parking lot.
"Get out!" Dean motioned waving the gun, encountering the man's anguished eyes in the rear-view mirror
Dean saw him hesitate as if he was desperate enough to try and make a run for it.. Dean pushed the barrel of the gun to the back of Sam clone's neck.
"Don't even think it!" he warned. "I'm not going to tell you again so get out."
"Okay, but at least tell me what you want from me," 'Sam' answered, his voice laced with panic.
"Oh, you'll find out soon enough. Knock on that door."
From the other side, Dean could hear his brother shuffling towards them.
Sam was gonna have a heart-attack but there was no easy way to present him with an identical clone of himself.
If it wasn't for the seriousness of the situation, Dean might have let out a heart-felt chuckle at Sam's expression when he opened the door, blinked away the last vestiges of sleep and saw the person standing in front of him.
Dean looked on mesmerized as two pairs of hazel eyes widened in exactly the same way, causing him to wonder what hell of a situation he'd been caught up in.
After the initial shock, Sam's eyes searched out his brother's.
Dean's returning gaze flashed out a silent answer. 'Hell if I know!'
"Move," he ordered the clone."Inside."
Seemingly less afraid now by the gun Dean was threatening him with, the clone turned to look back at him.
"What kind of sick joke is this?" he bitched, and Dean had to give it to the guy, he might be shit scared by the gun, but he was no coward.