Season Two

Episode Twenty-One: Sacrifices

By Tree

Part One

 

Lexington, Kentucky

John Winchester pulled his black truck to a stop outside the gate to Lexington Reservoir Station Number 4. It was just before midnight and the moonless sky helped create an eerie feel to the pump station and the water as it rested undisturbed within the huge catchments.

John glanced at his watch, knowing he had some time before the scheduled meet was to take place. He hated being late for anything, years of Marine “promptness” drilled into his head. Yet, there was something to be said for being early. Being early meant that he had time to kill, and time to kill meant he had time to think. Thinking lately for John Winchester meant that he could reflect on the one thing that haunted his every waking thought: Haris!

The demon was out there and even more active than he’d been before. There certainly had been enough signs recently to validate that. There was no doubt that he was coming after John’s boys, maybe even more so since Dean had tried to bind him in the bow of a submerged ship and add to the fact that Sam’s deal with the demon had miraculously been broken. If demons could be pissed, then John felt sure that Haris was definitely one pissed-off demon. To some extent, there was a certain amount of satisfaction to be taken in knowing that his sons had harried the yellow-eyed demon.

John knew it was all just a matter of time before Haris caught up to his sons. Just a matter of them slipping up or letting their guard down for one critical second and that bastard would claim them both. If John Winchester had thought that the pain of losing his beloved Mary had been agonizing, he knew he’d never survive the loss of his boys to the same demon. A fact his sons had never understood, never comprehended when he tried to keep them out of harm’s way. Sam had always assumed that John’s disappearances were part of some effort to keep him out of the big battle. And Dean, well Dean was the faithful trooper, always doing whatever John asked without question, at least until recently, when it seemed that Dean’s loyalty had shifted slightly more to Sam than to John.

Still, for all his sons’ misunderstanding, maybe even for his own misguided efforts, it was all about protecting his boys. Finally, John had a plan. He’d spent the better part of the last several months hunting and researching, but he was now fairly certain it would work. It might not be the best plan in the entire world, but at least it gave him some hope, some glimmer of saving…

His watch beeped out its alarm, alerting him to the hour and his appointment. John pushed away the thoughts and climbed from the cab of the truck. He patted the pocket of his jacket, reassured that the 9mm was tucked away inside. He was meeting another hunter, but years of experience taught him that one could never be too careful.

John walked slowly toward the tall gate of the pump station, looking around cautiously as he advanced. The scuff of a boot on concrete caused him to spin around, instantly alert, his hand halfway inside his jacket until he relaxed as recognition of the person approaching eased him.

“JD.”

“Howdy, John. It’s been a while,” the taller man replied back. “How ya’ll been?”

John shrugged. “You know, saving people, hunting things. Second verse, same as the first.”

Jefferson nodded, smiling back easily.

“Yeah, same here. Just got done with a job down near Texarkana. Woman said there was a ghost of some man haunting her house, breaking things, scaring her and her friends, typical poltergeist kinda stuff. Hired me to get rid of it. I’m getting my ass kicked by this dude ’cause he got no intention of going down without one helluva fight. Come to find out, she killed the poor bastard, then moved into his place, took all his money, all his stuff. Needless to say, he was one vengeful spirit.”

“Did you salt and burn the body?” John asked.

Jefferson paused, then his face spread in a wide grin. “Hell no! I figured she got what was coming to her. Better justice than anything our court system was likely to hand out. Besides, the good ol’ boy was just protecting what was his anyway. I figure it was a match made in heaven, er… maybe

that’s hell?”

John chuckled and Jefferson joined him, their laughter breaking the silence of the dark night. When the moment passed and seriousness returned, John broke the awkward silence.

“So, what’s going on Jefferson? Why all the secrecy? Why meet out here of all places?” John asked.

The lanky Texan looked down toward his boots, scuffing his right nervously back and forth as he absently toed at a stray pebble.

“Jefferson?” John asked again, his tone filled with apprehension as the skin on the back of his neck began to prickle.

“John, you have to understand. After Tennessee, after what we saw at Haris’ compound, a lot of hunters, well, you know how they are John.”

“No, Jefferson. Why don’t you tell me how they are,” John snapped back.

“John, we saw things. We saw your boys, well, you were there, you know what we saw. What do you expect? Things are pretty black and white for hunters. It has to be for us to do the jobs we do.”

“So, that’s what this is all about? You want to get my boys? You think I’m just gonna hand ’em over to ya?”

“No, we didn’t expect that you would John.”

The deep voice came from behind him and John spun around to come face to face with Sid Morrow. He instantly recognized the burly hunter from the assault on Haris’ compound and later on the attack at Bobby’s.

“You see, we know how you prize those sons of your above everything else in this world, Winchester,” Sid sneered as he leveled a 9mm at John’s chest. “And we know that you’d die a thousand deaths before you’d ever give them up. But, we’re willing to bet that your sons aren’t quite as hardened as dear old papa, freaks that they are.”

John shook his head and looked back at Jefferson. The betrayer turned away, unable to face the accusing glance of his former friend.

“You give it your best shot, Morrow. But you just remember, I raised and trained my boys to be hunters. They didn’t just wake up one day at twenty and say ‘hey, what do I want to be when I grow up? They’ve ate, drank, slept and breathed hunting since they were kids. Every. Single. Day,” John spat back defiantly.

Sid nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, you trained them, but then, you fell for our trap too,” he stated simply pulling the trigger on the pistol.

The gun discharged shattering the stillness of the night and even disturbing the calm of the water as two mallards stirred from their nest. Sid looked down at the motionless body of John Winchester, a wry smile crossing his face.

This had almost been too easy!


Fort Yates, North Dakota

Dean threw open the door to room number twenty of the Sitting Bull Motor Lodge and walked inside. The uncontrolled laughter that had emanated from the older brother softened abruptly as he led the way into the room. Always cautious, Dean Winchester usually made it his objective to be the first through the door whenever they came back to the room. It was an unconscious habit that he’d developed many years back, but it had saved the brothers’ asses more than a few times.

Once the lights were on and a quick sweep of the room revealed no immediate threats, Dean felt the hilarity return. Sam sensed it too and inwardly cringed.

“I’m telling ya, Sammy, the look on your face, it was priceless. If I’d have had a camera, we’d be a million dollars richer after I submitted the video to one of those programs on T.V.,” Dean chuckled as he tossed the gear bag onto the nearest bed. He dropped into one of the chairs, slouching back and still laughing as he watched Sam follow him in.

“Yeah, real funny, Dean. How was I to know that crazy old woman was gonna come flying out of that cornfield?”

Sam trudged in behind him, a thin cover of dark brown covering the lower half of his jeans and most of his back side. He mimicked Dean by discarding his own bag on the adjacent bed and was about to follow the pack’s path when Dean abruptly stopped him.

“Oh, no way!” Dean shouted, rising to his feet. He grabbed Sam by the shoulder and spun him towards the closed bathroom door. “This is one time I won’t fight you for the first shower. Bad enough the Impala’s gonna smell like cow manure, but no way I’m gonna sleep in here tonight with the room smelling like a freakin’ barn. Get your ass in there and wash that stench off ya.”

Sam acquiesced, feeling the tightness beginning to seep into the muscles of his legs and lower back. If Dean was willing to sacrifice hot water to be rid of the odor, then Sam was will to oblige his older brother and indulge his aching body. Besides, it served Dean right for making fun of him.

Dean watched his baby brother slowly move into the small bathroom. He could tell from Sam’s body language that the younger man was sore and gradually becoming stiff. Yet, even as the door closed behind Sam, Dean barely stifled the smirk as he recalled the evening’s events.

The brothers had come to Fort Yates just a couple of days before on what seemed to be another Woman in White type of case. Except, as they investigated further into the sightings, they found that it was actually a "woman in black" that the locals had claimed to have seen. Even more strange was that while there had been deaths associated with the sightings, unlike the case in Jericho, none of the men actually disappeared. There were no blood-stained cars left behind and in fact, most of the men’s death’s looked to be accidental.

They spent the first day in town researching the local news sources for reports of any suspicious deaths or suicides on the roads outside of Fort Yates. But an afternoon spent in the local library turned up little more than weary eyes for Sam and a couple of potential phone numbers for Dean.

Following dinner, they drove out to the area where most of the sightings and deaths had occurred, but an early evening thunderstorm seemed to have warded off any likelihood that their spook was going to appear.

Another day spent checking out the town and basically poking around only left the brothers more skeptical as they headed back out to Black Tongue Hill that evening. Sure there were plenty of stories about a ghostly apparition dressed in black wandering the roadway and preying on unsuspecting male drivers, but there weren’t really the tell-tale deaths associated with her as the hunters would have expected.

So they began by driving the four mile stretch back and forth just after dusk, but when the woman in black failed to appear, Sam proposed that maybe she was a “no-show” because they were both in the car. Of course, the only problem with Sam’s logic was that it meant he got to hide off in the edges of the cornrows since there was little chance that Dean would give up the driving duties.

It was on the tenth or eleventh pass that the excitement really started. As the Impala crested the top of the hill, a small figure enshrouded in black stood ethereally in the center of the road.

Dean slammed on the brakes to the old Chevy, screeching the tires as the car shuddered sideways to a stop. He stared curiously at the slight shape before him in the headlights; long white hair cascaded outward as the evening wind whipped over the high plains, a thin black shawl wrapped tightly around bony shoulders, tattered edges joining the hair in its wild dance.

The woman stood there, mockingly, defiantly, as though she were eager for Dean to continue towards her. He obliged her, gunning the accelerator while she cackled maniacally. But just as the car was nearly to her, she dodged to the side and dashed into the one of the many lines of endless cornstalks.

Dean rapidly hit the speed dial button on his phone to Sam, eager to alert his brother even though he could have nearly shouted from his position to where he had left Sam hiding off the side of the road.

In the end, it hadn’t mattered. Sam’s startled yelp sounded out both from the cellular as well as across the dark North Dakota sky as the old woman popped out of the field and nearly right on top of the younger Winchester.

Definitely not a ghost, but only slightly less angry and deranged, she clawed and shrieked sufficiently to rival the best of banshees, hopping onto Sam’s back as he whirled about the cornfield blindly trying to dislodge her while Dean shouted at him over the phone.

By the time Dean pulled the Impala to the side of the road and scrambled from the car, Sam was seated on the ground with an equally disheveled looking old woman sitting several feet away. The old woman looked back and forth between the brothers, glaring at each of them in turn. Both she and Sam alike were covered in muck although Sam bore more scratches from both her nails and the sharp stalks.

Dean drew up short, taking in the scene and chuckling slightly. “She’s no ghost dude.”

Sam had looked up at him, flinging down mud from his fingers. “You don’t say, Sherlock?”

And so they pieced together that the old woman, every flesh and bone bit of her, had created her own fragment of urban legend by taking up “haunting” that particular stretch of lone highway. Getting her back to town and to the local hospital encompassed several more scratches and a few near-miss bites for both of them, but Sam insisted and after all, as Dean rationalized, they couldn’t exactly salt and burn her anyway.

Now, hours later, showered, slightly refreshed, and definitely on the downside of a less-than-typical hunt, Sam and Dean headed back out to grab a quick bite to eat before calling it a night.

“I’m telling you, Sammy, I know you’ve been looking for easy hunts ever since Harrisburg, but dude, I think this one might take the cake. Actually, does this even qualify as a hunt?” Dean mused as he finished tying the laces to his boots.

“Dean, please, can’t you just let it drop?” Sam whined, grimacing slightly as he stretched to pull a t-shirt over his head.

“Aw, what’s the matter, Sam? You sore cause granny got the drop on ya or 'cause she got the free piggy-back ride?” Dean asked, rising up and grabbing his cell and keys. “I know, you’re just embarrassed because your scream sounded more girlie than hers did.”

“Ha ha ha,” Sam answered in fake laughter. “And once again, I bow to your sparkling witticism and obtuse humor.”

Dean paused at the door, staring at his younger brother as he tried to wrap his brain around the words. He knew there was a "dig" in there somewhere, but like always, Sam’s larger vocabulary left him speechless. Shrugging, he merely waited for Sam to walk out the door before pulling it closed behind them, choosing to focus on the grumbling in his stomach rather than the temptation to tease his brother any more.

Before he took a single step towards the car, the first strong chords of Black Sabbath’s Ironman warbled out from Dean’s cellphone. He stopped abruptly, fishing into the right pocket of his jeans and looking at the caller ID before hastily jabbing the button to answer the call.

“Dad?” he asked tentatively, trying to mask the hesitancy in his voice. After all, the last communication he’d had with his dad hadn’t exactly gone all that well following Sam’s near-death in New Jersey.

“Dad, is that you?” Dean repeated when there was no immediate reply.

Sam drew closer, seeing the concern in his brother’s face and hearing the name, now said twice. “Dean, what is it? Is it Dad? Is he okay?” he asked rapidly.

Dean waved him off as he strained to listen for any response. He was about to call out for his father again when a harsh grunt emitted from the phone followed by his dad’s low voice.

“Dean. Son, I need you to listen carefully, okay?” John began.

“Yeah, yeah, sure, dad,” Dean stammered back, his heart beginning to race as he detected the urgency and even the hint of pain in his father’s voice.

“Son, I’m needing a little help on a hunt I’ve been on. I’m uh, up near Northern Wisconsin, after a Hodag. I need some help Dean. The thing’s a big bitch and I can’t seem to bring it down by myself. I need you and Sam to bring the Colt and the special bullet to me. It’s the only thing that’ll work on something like this,” John explained, his voice raspy as he tried to feign normality, but Dean knew better.

Dean, more than any other living soul on the planet, could read John Winchester’s tells. Not that it was saying much, considering that John basically had two emotions that he showed the world: angry and determined. But over twenty years of hunting, Dean had also glimpsed fear, desperation, and pain. If Sam wanted to accuse his older brother of building walls and hiding his emotions, then Dean had to admit that he’d learned it from a pro.

“Dean? Did you hear me?” John’s voice cut through the elder son’s reverie.

“Yeah, Dad, I understand. Are you okay? Where are you exactly?” Dean demanded, pacing the sidewalk in front of the motel.

“Son, just do as I…” John’s voice rose in irritation but before Dean could press for more information, his father’s voice and the call were abruptly cut off.

Dean stopped, looking blankly at the silent phone in his hand. He shoved the cell back into his pocket and wiped a sweaty palm against the front of his jeans as he looked up at his brother.

Sam’s eyes met Dean’s, questioning him, needing his older brother to fill in the gaps to the bad news he’d already gleaned from Dean’s reaction. He tried not to notice the slight tremble in his older brother’s hand as Dean unlocked the door to their room.

“Dean, what’s going on? Where’s dad? Is he okay?”

Dean sucked in a deep breath, moving across the room and grabbing his gear bag.

“Dad’s in trouble, Sammy,” he began, as he rapidly stuffed clothing into the pack. “Someone or something has him. He was trying to warn us.”

“What did he say exactly? Do you know where he is?” Sam asked eagerly, moving to mimic Dean and packing his own belongings.

“I’m not sure. He said he was hunting a Hodag in northern Wisconsin. Hodags are bogus, never existed.”

“I know that, Dean, but what does that mean?”

“Well, he also said that he needed our help hunting it, but to bring the Colt and the special bullet. He said the special bullet was the only thing that could bring the Hodag down,” Dean repeated.

“So, we’re heading to Wisconsin?” Sam asked.

“No.”

Sam spun around to face his brother, slamming the backpack down on the bed. “What do you mean, no? Dean, something’s got Dad and we’re not going to get him?”

“No, Sammy, we’re not. Dad calls us and tells us that he’s hunting a bogus creature. Then he tells us to bring him the Colt, which we don’t have, and the special bullets, that we know are fake. He’s telling us that whatever he says is also a lie. He doesn’t want us coming after him,” Dean explained.

Sam exhaled in frustration, plopping down onto the bed and staring up at Dean. He shook his head angrily, until his brother noticed that Sam had ceased packing.

“What, Sam?” Dean shouted, his own irritation compounded by fear for their father and the desire to beat something, anything, with his fists right at this particular moment.

“This is Salvation all over again, just like when Dad was taken before,” Sam griped. “We sit with our thumbs up our asses and wait while a demon or whatever has him.”

“This is not Salvation and by the way, I was right then too,” Dean threw back. He calmed slightly, stopping his own hasty packing and squatting down to face his brother. “Sam, trust me, please. We need more intel first. I don’t think this is Haris. Call it a gut feeling, but this is something else. Dad’s trying to warn us and the deal with the Hodag, there’s more to it than just the ruse. We gotta talk to Bobby.”

“Bobby?”

“Yeah, 'cause Bobby Singer and John Winchester once went on a Hodag hunt together. Course, all they returned with was a pickup truck full of empty beer cans and some stories that never made a helluva lot of sense,” Dean answered, a wry grin crossing his face.

Sam loosed a brief laugh breaking the tension as he pictured Bobby and his dad on some drunken pseudo-hunt.

He rose to his feet and slung the backpack over his shoulder, moving over to gather the laptop.

“So, we can be at Bobby’s by midday tomorrow then?” he asked.

Dean didn’t immediately answer. With his back turned away from his brother, he hoped his voice wouldn’t betray him. He really had no idea if Bobby could help them or not. He wasn’t even sure if he had interpreted his dad’s message correctly. For all he knew, their dad could be dead by now.

“Yeah, Sam. By tomorrow,” he answered simply, forcing the negative thoughts from his head as he walked over to the motel room door and looked out into the night.

Singer Salvage
Next Day

Bobby beat on the rusted fender of the old Ford with the ball-peen hammer, sweat glistening on his brow beneath the rim of his baseball cap. He momentarily stopped his labor to remove the hat and run an equally sweaty forearm across his forehead.

It was already shaping up to be a humid day, but if he wanted to get the old truck running any time in the near future, he knew he needed to get some of the creases out of the metal so that it didn’t gouge into the tire when it turned.

Despite the fact that Bobby considered himself a hunter first and foremost, he faced the reality that it didn’t pay the bills. Unlike others of his kind that hired themselves out as mercenaries or chose other means of keeping fed and clothed, Bobby elected to maintain something a little more law-abiding, at least on the surface.

Sure, having a salvage yard wasn’t the most glamorous occupation in the world, but then, it also kept people from asking questions and for that matter, any greater expectations of him. After all, junkmen were by popular definition, a strange lot. Why should he bother to try to change anyone’s opinion on the profession?

He tucked the hammer underneath his left arm and pulled a beat-up thermos from the bed of the truck. Even in the heat, he still preferred coffee before noon and then, well, something with more of a kick to drink for after the lunch hour.

Replacing the thermos, he reached inside the old pickup and turned up the volume on Tammy Wynette and whoever was cheating on her now. He tapped the side of his grungy jeans in time with the song before picking up the rhythm with the hammer against the metal once more.

Bobby worked on the fender for another ten minutes until he stepped back to eye the line of the vehicle and was satisfied that it would suffice. With the radio still blaring, he then ducked underneath the hood, his attention fixed on the radiator.

“Now where are you leaking from?” he asked, his hands running over the back of the grille and across the attached hoses. “I 'spose I’m gonna have to replace you altogether.”

He took out a wrench and began loosening the bolts that held the part in place, resorting to beating on the radiator with the tool when it failed to come loose.

As the cacophony of country music and hammering echoed throughout the property, the stealthy approach of six armed men went unnoticed. They spread out in a standard flanking formation, leap-frogging ahead of each other by twos, each pair covering the one before them as they darted from one point of cover to the next. Within a few seconds, the teams had closed in on the unaware hunter.

Several yards behind them, a lone figure walked casually through the mounds of stacked, rusting hulks. Seemingly unconcerned about covertness, the figure watched from behind as the teams took up their places strategically.

With a wave of a small hand, Rennie Lofton signaled the group to continue. Her dark hair hung loose, obscuring her features but not hiding the steely glare from her eyes. The men she commanded held no particular respect for her, but the stories that circulated about the vicious scar that bisected the otherwise creamy complexion of her face were nearly an urban legend on their own.

Whether any of the stories were true, no one but Rennie knew for sure, but the woman’s tense body language and terse speech generally told everyone to “stay clear” regardless. Those that she allowed close enough to hunt with her knew she her looks were deceiving. Like a pitbull, the woman was a bundle of muscle in a small package. And like the breed, she tended to fight just as ferociously.

Man, creature or demon spawn from hell, it didn’t matter to Rennie, everything was perfectly simple in her mind: hunt it and kill it.

She watched as one of the men from the lead team pulled the rifle from his shoulder and drew a bead on the target. Bobby Singer would never know what hit him. Quick and efficient, Rennie had argued for doing the job herself, but Sid had insisted on the extra men.

Looking at Bobby now, she didn’t see why Sid was so concerned. This man, this supposed hunter, didn’t look like much to her, even less than she remembered him from the assault in Tennessee. Hammering on the engine of some broken down old truck, Singer didn’t look to be much more than the old beater he was working on.

“What a waste of manpower,” she griped. “Could’ve taken this old codger in my sleep.”

She continued to watch in feigned boredom as the sniper took careful aim. Rennie felt the sudden cool breeze blow the hair from her face and she silently willed the shooter to hold until it passed. A dozen yards away, she heard the clanking of the wrench suddenly stop, followed by a low “sonofabitch.”

NO! Rennie shouted a silent warning even as the gunshot barked out. The female hunter slapped her hand on a nearby car frame in disgust as she watched Bobby duck down to retrieve a dropped wrench just as the bullet ricocheted off the metal of the hood inches from where his head had just been.

The element of surprise lost, the hunters began firing rapidly and randomly as their target ducked behind the relative safety of the truck. Rennie rolled her eyes in frustration and pulled her own .45 as she took off in a run to join in the battle.


* * * *

Bobby breathed heavily as the hail of bullets rained around him. He was too busy being angry with himself for having let his guard slip to be truly surprised by the attack. Still, there’d be time for self-recrimination later, right now he was outnumbered, exposed, and unarmed.

He listened intently, marking the positions of his attackers from the reports of their weapons. They might have the numbers and the surprise, but Bobby Singer wasn’t stupid. He’d prepared for this possibility years in advance, strategically placing those so-called junked cars throughout the property, likewise leaving little hidden caches of weapons where he could get to them if need be.

Dodging between the rows, he hunkered down when he reached the frame of an old Ford Escort. Reaching underneath the hatchback, he grabbed the stashed shotgun with his left hand as his right sought out the loose shells that were tucked beneath the mat.

Immediately, he was back on the run, taking only the briefest opportunity to turn and fire whenever one of his enemies got too close. He only casually recognized the sting of a bullet that cut through his upper arm, tugging at his shirt as it dug a furrow into his bicep. Another whizzed past his head, narrowly missing him and fragmenting metal as it penetrated the door of the truck beside him.

He ignored the panic that was threatening the back of his mind, focusing only on the back door to his house and the relative safety that it represented. Taking a tentative step away from his cover, he caught the movement of the man out of the corner of his eye and quickly ducked back. Waiting till his foe committed to stepping out into the clearing, Bobby took careful aim and fired the shotgun.

The man went down with a scream, clutching his ruined leg as he writhed on the ground. Bobby took the opportunity and darted for the backdoor to the house. He was nearly through the door when he felt the bullet slam into the back of his left shoulder, spinning him around so that he was face to face with the shooter.

“Rennie!” he shouted, seeing the woman standing several feet away, the .45 still raised in her hand.

Before she could pull the trigger again, he dropped and rolled into the house, hearing the bullet splinter the wood frame of the door. Bobby slumped against the kitchen cabinets, limply holding the shotgun in his numb left arm as he pushed several more shells into the weapon.

Outside, the other hunters surrounded the ramshackle house, firing round after round into the walls. High-caliber automatics pierced holes through the siding, spraying papers and shattering glass as they continued their path through the interior of the house. Bobby crawled along the floor, keeping low as the barrage continued, coming to a halt when he reached the wall between the living room and the book-filled dining room.

“Bobby!” Rennie’s voice rose above the din of the weapon’s fire. “Come on, Bobby, why make this so hard? You got nowhere to run now. You’re trapped.”

The older hunter responded to the taunt by firing his shotgun defiantly through the large window to his right. He knew he wasn’t going to hit anything, but he had no intention of letting that bitch think he was giving up.

“Are you bleeding bad, Bobby? Vision getting a little blurry? Hands getting shaky? We can just wait till you bleed to death, doesn’t make a difference to me, old man,” Rennie mocked.

Bobby scooted over toward the window, ignoring the pain in his shoulder and the huge stain of red that marked the wall where he had just been. He’d been shot before and knew that the current wound in his shoulder wasn’t good. In fact, he knew Rennie was right and that if he kept losing blood at this rate, he’d either pass out or bleed to death, neither of which boded well for his chances of survival.

Peeking over the edge of the windowsill, Bobby spotted Rennie standing defiantly in what passed for the front yard of his place. Dressed in black leather pants and an equally dark leather jacket, he knew the clothing was more for effect than appropriate for the weather. She looked hot, in more ways than one, but Bobby knew that underneath the hard body was an equally hard soul.

As much as Bobby Singer didn’t care for hurting women, somehow Rennie Lofton no longer fit in that category for him. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired at her, glass shattering as the spray of the pellets ruptured it on the way out.

Rennie jerked backwards as some of the pellets struck her. While none of them were lethal, they still stung nonetheless catching her in the upper chest and peppering her neck. She screamed in anger, her hand flying up to her throat.

“You sonofabitch!” she shouted, whirling around to take cover behind her black Yukon.

“Are you bleeding, Rennie?” Bobby called out from the house. “Is it easy to get blood out of leather?”

He smiled as he imagined her fuming in anger, knowing he was correct when she capped off several rounds in his general direction. Bobby heard her yelling orders to the other hunters that had surrounded his home and from his vantage he could see them closing in.

“You’re gonna die, Singer. I’m gonna have these men drag you out here and I’m gonna stomp on your skull until there’s not enough left of you for anyone to identify,” Rennie hissed. “You’re gonna pay for betraying the cause and protecting the Winchesters.”

“Betraying the cause? Is that what this is all about? You people are still going after John and his boys? You really are insane, Rennie. John Winchester and his sons are fighting on our side, always have been. You simple fools are just too blind and dumb to see that.”

“You’re the blind one, Bobby, helping those Winchesters. One’s a freak and the other is a demon’s pawn. You’ve lost your edge and its time for retirement,” the small huntress yelled.

“Bring it on, better men than you have tried,” he shouted back, punctuating the statement with two more rounds from the shotgun.

Another volley of return fire answered and Bobby ducked down as more of his home was ventilated. He considered that things weren’t looking too optimistic at the moment and even considered calling for help. The only problem was who to call, and really, by the time anyone would get there, he’d surely be dead. At the very least, he thought he should warn John and the boys. But as he moved to reach for the phone, there was a loud crash from the rear of the house.

Bobby struggled to his feet, knowing that the hunters had grown tired of waiting on the outside and had finally launched their assault. He saw the shadow of movement in the kitchen and readied himself around the edge of the doorway.

Just as he was about to swing around into the room, another loud crash sounded from the front. He spun to see the grenade land on the hardwood floor and roll underneath his cluttered desk.

Diving toward the kitchen, firing the shotgun repeatedly as he moved, the house behind Bobby exploded violently. Wood, glass, paper, a lifetime of research, a life’s worth of blood blown outward in a fiery blast.

Hours later
Road leading to Bobby’s

Sam fumed silently in the passenger side of the Impala. While Dean could at least hide away in the solitude of driving, Sam was left with nothing other than his own mind to keep him occupied.

He really did understand that Dean was doing the right thing. It was just that the right thing didn’t feel very right at the moment. Not that he could ever be accused of excessive displays of emotion when it came to his relationship with his dad, but Sam hated the feeling of helplessness, hated that they only knew that their dad was being held captive, was probably hurt, and they weren’t doing anything to rectify that situation.

While Dean continued to stare out the windshield, his gaze fixed on the road ahead of him, his hands clenching the steering wheel as if he could snap some imaginary foe’s neck, Sam in turn focused his frustration in the steady thump of his foot as his entire right leg bounced nervously.

He knew the worried movement was grating on Dean, could see the occasional glance of Dean’s eyes his way, the huff of air when Dean knew Sam was watching him. Sam just didn’t care. He, not unlike his older brother, needed to vent his anger, needed to strike out, and unfortunately, confined to interior of the old Chevy, the siblings had no other focus for their emotions than each other.

“Sam, if you don’t stop with the hyperactive leg thing, I’m either gonna tranquilize you or yank the damn thing off and beat you with it,” Dean finally barked.

“Yeah, 'cause not like you clenching your jaw over there isn’t just as annoying. Really, Dean, I could tolerate listening to friggin’ Nugent rather than listen to you grind your teeth or hear your knuckles pop while you strangle the steering wheel for the next hundred miles,” Sam snapped back.

He waited for his brother to say something equally hurtful back, but when Dean remained silent, Sam knew that his older brother was absorbed in God only knew what sort of thoughts about their dad and really didn’t need any more added pressure to the mounting stress he was already under.

Stopping just short of apologizing, Sam dialed the number to Bobby’s once again. He waited for the same unanswered ringing that had greeted him the last few times he had dialed. Instead, Sam found his right leg beginning to bounce even faster as this time, Bobby Singer's phone line was completely out of service.

Tossing the phone onto the dash, he ran a nervous hand through unruly brown hair. Trying to contain his worry, he knew it was too late when Dean looked at him, hazel eyes flashing with concern.

“What is it?” he demanded.

“The line to Bobby’s is dead,” Sam answered simply. When Dean didn’t answer, Sam added. “How far out are we?”

“An hour,” Dean replied in monotone, his foot pressing on the accelerator as his hands gripped the wheel even tighter, knuckles turning from red to white.

“Dean, do you think…”

“Yeah,” Dean cut him off.

Sam wanted to press for more conversation, needing in some sadistic way to hear Dean verbalize the fear that he knew was eating away at both their minds. But Sam also knew his brother too well, knew that Dean’s method for dealing was silent introspection and internalization of every damn emotion that the elder Winchester remotely perceived as a sign of weakness.

“Dean,” he began.

“No, Sammy. We are not gonna have the What if conversation,” Dean quickly intercepted. “Bobby’s fine, Dad’s alive and we’re gonna get him back. That’s the only way we need to think right now.”

“Dean, I was only going to say, that I trust you. I’m behind you one hundred percent. Whatever’s happening, whether it is Haris, or… well, whatever, I know you’ll do what’s right.”

Dean swallowed hard and Sam could see the hitch of his breath before he spoke.

“Sam, I… I don’t always know what I’m doing. And I’m sorry that sometimes I kinda boss you around instead of asking your opinion. The truth is… I, well I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know where dad is or what has him. But if it is Haris, no way am I gonna let that yellow-eyed bastard anywhere near you. And that I do know for sure,” Dean stated, casting a glance over to Sam, his eyes suddenly more hardened and serious than his younger brother had seen them in recent weeks.

Sam nodded, watching as Dean turned his attention back to the road. He knew what that little glimpse into his brother’s head had cost Dean, knew that he would have rather gone ten rounds with a Hell Hound than to have admitted what he just had to Sam.

“Thanks, Dean,” Sam softly offered.

They continued on in mutual silence until the familiar scenery of the salvage yard rose on the horizon. Sam breathed a sigh of relief, glad that Bobby’s place was finally within sight, but just as quickly it turned into a gasp.

“What the hell?” Dean shouted, as Sam sat up straighter in the seat.

A large plume of thick black smoke rose from amid the wall of old automobiles. Sam braced himself, one hand reaching out to the dashboard as Dean slammed on the gas. Dust and rocks flew out from the tires as the Impala fish-tailed briefly before Dean righted the car on the dirt road.

The stop was as violent as the start, the cloud of dust shrouding the black Chevy as it came to a sudden halt in front of the still smoldering remnants of Bobby Singer’s home. Both brothers tore from the car only to be gagged by the choking smoke that clung to the smoldering ruins like the ethereal form of some demon settling over the site to observe its handiwork.

Fanning the air around his face, Sam picked his way to where the front of the house had once been. Beyond him, Dean was already searching out the property, desperately hoping to find their friend somewhere other than among the destroyed structure.

“Bobby!” Dean’s voice shouted out towards the garage and assorted sheds.

He called out several more times but received no answer. Turning back towards Sam, he shrugged.

“Maybe he wasn’t here. Maybe he took off into the woods or somewhere safe,” Dean suggested, still frantically looking around.

“Dean,” Sam called out solemnly. “Dean, come here.”

Sam knelt down in the rubble of the old house, one hand covering his mouth as he lifted a charred board from the ground. Dean was by his side immediately, his hands tearing into other pieces of burnt debris.

As the final board came free, Dean shook his head and turned away. He flung the piece of wood remaining in his hand with every ounce of energy he possessed, screaming out a long “NO!” as he did so.

Sam flinched as his brother raged. Unable to lift his eyes from the sight before him, all he could do was stare at the charred human remains that lay exposed in the bright afternoon sun.

“Aw, Bobby,” Sam cried, as his eyes landed on the scorched remains of a baseball cap sticking out from the rubble like a makeshift tombstone.

 


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