Sam's jaw took a rapid trip south as the door swung open and he saw a figure charging up the metal staircase and along the gantry to greet him.
It was Dean.
"What the hell?"
Spinning round, he glanced behind him to see if the ordeal of the last hour had all just been a very vivid, cold and embarrassing nightmare, but no; there standing placidly behind him was indeed Dean; the very same Dean that he just had released from the police station after his nocturnal adventures, looking bemused and slightly nervous as he hunkered down against the cold into Sam's larger frame.
And there, charging up the stairs in front of him was – well – Dean; this particular version looking sleep-muzzed, concerned and far from placid.
"Sam, where the HELL have you bee … uhhhh?"
Dean stumbled to a shocked halt as he caught sight of his mirror image.
Suddenly, Sam's world seemed to slip into slow motion and he barely had a moment to react before he was barged aside by one furious Dean wrestling a second less furious, more like scared-to-death Dean into an iron headlock and dragging him into the bunker.
The brothers stood and stared at their strange visitor who sat cuffed to a dining chair meekly staring up at them through wide, watery green eyes, bound and gagged in an inescapable combination of silver, iron, bronze and good old-fashioned rope.
He had drunk, without complaint, a glass of holy water and barely flinched when Dean threw salt in his face.
Dead man's blood, lambs blood or even his own blood hadn't gleaned the slightest reaction beyond faintly terrified confusion.
Eventually, Dean turned away, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation; "I got nothing," he sighed; "he's not a shifter, a demon, a ghoul, a revenant, a faerie, a skinwalker, a doppelganger, a fetch, or … I don't friggin know what he is!"
"He's probably a martian," yawned Sam, glancing at his watch and reminding himself for maybe the hundredth time that it was barely five o'clock in the morning, and way too early for this sort of crap.
"Well if he is a martian, then at least he's a goddamn handsome one then," Dean replied sourly.
Scraping a hand through his hair, Dean pulled in a deep breath; "Sam, tell me what happened again," he sighed, rubbing his forehead as if trying to erase the pounding ache that had taken up residence there;" I got up for a pee around half past two and while I was in the bathroom, I heard the Impala pull away. You were gone for, like over an hour."
Sam sighed, trying not to think of the lovely comfortable bed where he had been sleeping soundly barely three hours ago; "Dude, how many times we gotta go through this? I got a call from the police at Kensington, about twenty miles over from here toward Kansas City, telling me that you'd rocked up soaking wet and bare-ass naked into an all-night diner there, and as if that wasn't shocking enough, you'd then proceeded to help yourself to a carton of orange juice and a whole bunch of bananas."
"That's disgusting," Dean replied absently, pausing as he glanced between Sam and his lookalike; "I don't even like bananas."
Sam ignored him as he continued; "I wasn't sure I believed it, so just to check, I looked in your room before I went, and you weren't there."
"I told you," Dean sighed; "I got up to pee - s'not my fault that the bathroom's half a friggin' mile from my room." He paused for a moment, as if in thought before continuing; "I heard you go, and then I got your freaky message, so I called your cell but you weren't picking up!"
Sam gestured toward their bemused guest who was listening to the exchange with cautious interest, head flipping from side to side like a tennis spectator with a nervous tic.
"Dude, I thought I had you standing next to me," he replied, trying and failing to mask the exasperation in his voice; "I didn't think to check my cell, because 'you' were standing there, in front of me in all your glory. Literally."
"So why was he butt-naked and flashing my goddamn junk for the world to see?" Dean snorted, waving a hand in the general direction of their visitor; "an' why the hell was he stealing juice and bananas?"
Sam opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by a disconcertingly familiar voice.
The Winchesters turned in unison to the motionless figure sitting trapped between them under a metric tonne of various restraints; "what?" Dean snapped impatiently.
"Hmi-wah-firty," the figure mumbled again round his gag.
Sam wasn't sure if it was the figure's wide, frightened eyes, or the mellow richness of his muffled voice, which was so much like Dean's; but whatever it was, he found himself beginning to take pity on the mysterious stranger, and stepped toward him, reaching out to his gag. "I reckon we're good to take this off now, Dean, don't you think?"
Dean frowned, "Sam …" the warning in his voice was clear.
"Just the gag for now," Sam muttered softly, not really sure who he was trying to reassure.
"Now, what were you trying to say?" he asked quietly, gazing deep into the lookalike's startlingly familiar eyes as he removed the gag.
"I was thirsty," the figure replied in a very un-Dean-like quiet voice.
"Okay," replied Sam non-commitally; "that's why you took the juice?"
There was a faint nod; "and I was hungry."
"Obviously," Sam replied quietly as he looked up at his brother, standing with his arms folded defensively across his chest, making his displeasure at Sam's 'good cop' routine patently clear.
"Can I ask," Sam wheedled gently; "why you were naked?"
"I had no clothes," the figure responded economically; "but now I have these," he added, glancing down at Dean's black T shirt and grey sweat pants, and looking up at Sam with a nervous smile.
"Hey," Dean snapped; "why's he wearing my damn clothes?"
Sam glanced across to him with a scowl; "hello, Dean - naked? Ring any bells?"
Dean huffed irritably; "oh yeah, well … hey, he'd better not be commando in those," Dean added, wrinkling his nose in disgust; "if he is he can freakin' keep 'em."
Sam rolled his eyes, and turned his attention back to their strange guest. Nothing was making sense. Sam suddenly had two Deans to deal with; that in itself was mind-meltingly wild, but when you factor in the possibility that the second Dean could quite possibly be something supernatural, you entered a whole new realm of boggle-eyed crazy.
He was really, REALLY missing his bed.
Crouching down before their strange visitor, Sam sighed; "can you tell me why you were wet? I know it wasn't raining."
"I broke free from the liquid," the figure replied as if it was the most obvious answer in the world.
"O-ookay," Sam added, none the wiser; "that's – uh – good?"
He glanced up at Dean to see him circling his temple with his finger, and chose to ignore him.
"No, it is not good," the figure replied, showing distinct signs of growing nervousness; "I am wrong, I have faults. They will eliminate me. That is why I ran, because I am scared."
He looked up at Sam and the fear shining in his wide green eyes was heartbreaking to see.
"I want to live."