dripped off the faces of the men that sat cramped together
in the small meeting room, the assembly quarters far
too small to accommodate their number. They had all
gathered for the same purpose, and each man wiped the
moisture from his forehead in apprehension, tingling
with excitement as they awaited their leader.
acquaintances and fresh new alliances were formed within
the daily expanding group as more hunters joined the
fight, but the overwhelming sense of purpose and duty
had formed camaraderie among them, regardless. Weak,
fledgling bonds and former disputes were given less
importance than the strength they all stood to gain
against the common enemy. Today, they were united.
air was thick with the heavy scent of whiskey mixed
with the hint of gun powder and leather as the older
hunters, their gray hair, beards, and well-worn faces
conveying their stint in battle and a wealth of knowledge,
took their seats along the far wall, drinks held idly
in their hands. Their empty, tired eyes watched the
young counterparts to their impending mission drink
and celebrate recklessly, their chatter booming through
the small space. No man doubted that youth and agility
were certainly assets they could draw upon, although
the breakneck tendencies of the inexperienced younger
members laced fear into the hearts of many. This was
not a time to fail because of carelessness.
sliver of light pierced through the dim room at the
creak of the main door, and every man turned, voices
falling silent as they watched two men appear through
the entryway. Their hearts swelled as the first man
was revealed to be their leader and then hardened again
when a dark-haired stranger sauntered in behind him.
their leader greeted, his damaged voice but a harsh
whisper, his badge of courage earned breathing fire
demon destruction at very close range. He gestured for
the men to relax but listen. “I would like to
introduce John Winchester, a man I’ve known for
some time. He has come to join our fight, and we’re
very fortunate to have him.”
nodded a greeting, and a loud welcoming cheer echoed
through the room, the expanse of which filled quickly
with the clinking of shot glasses and shouted orders
for more. A wry smile appeared on both John and the
leader’s faces. John stepped aside, leaning against
the wall as he watched how, with just a clearing of
his throat, the commanding hunter fought to regain the
silence. A slew of older hunters began issuing orders
for quiet and order, their respect for the man obvious.
When the room fell silent yet again, the leader smiled
at his compiled army, vibrating with anticipation for
he began, the raspy susurration captivating every man’s
attention, “it has been a long road and we have
lost many in our fight. But in this hour, the tide has
slew of whispers and questions hit the air and were
silenced by a wave of the hand from their leader. “As
you know we lost two good men when they attempted to
scout out our enemy, their bodies were left displayed
to strike fear in our hearts. But when we recovered
the bodies, we were rewarded with information.”
The speaker held up a small piece of crumpled paper
stained with spots of crimson. “They left us coordinates.
I searched them out this morning and it is with pride
that I tell you—we have found our enemy.”
Winchester’s eyes widened in skepticism and disbelief.
He had hunted this demon for years, and while his past
ally was declaring that and end was in sight, he had
to admit it seemed sudden. Why had none of these scouts
had been mentioned before? The other men, however, appeared
prepared for a fight, and the excitement became tangible
as the voices grew louder and shouts of readiness and
battle filled the air.
is the time,” the leader stated quietly, his eyes
scanning the crowd slowly, “The war has come.”
John swallowed the shot of whiskey, relishing in the
dull burn as the amber liquid rolled down his throat.
His eyes had yet to leave their self-appointed leader,
and upon seeing the man turn to head outside, John quickly
rose, his long strides catching up as he exited the
was quite a speech you gave in there,” John commented
with a smirk, his voice held an edge of questioning.
“Can’t help but wonder if it was all on
the up-and-up, though, or if you might just be warming
up for a career in politics.” He looked down briefly,
aware that his friend was probably not used to being
questions, based on his observations of the rest of
the growing crew. “I mean, I’ve know you
for years, and you never once told me about those scouts.”
wasn’t much to tell,” the man replied, rubbing
a hand over the scar lining his neck gingerly, “It
is not wise to dwell in failure, John.”
scratched the stubble lining his chin, his deep brown
eyes locking on his fellow hunter’s form. His
comrades attention was distant, focused on the surrounding
wall that encased their hideout. “Zack.”
man turned a weary smile on his face, reading the desperation
in his comrade’s expression. “What do you
need your word that my boys stay out of this fight,”
John answered, running his hands through his hair. “Look,
you’re the only one who really knows about them,
and you’re calling the shots here. I need your
guys to lay off and let Sam and Dean handle their own
boys are men, John,” Zack’s gravelly voice
chided. “Don’t you think that is their decision?”
clenched his jaw, his body going rigid with frustration.
“After what happened last time - No, it’s
not their decision.”
nodded thoughtfully, his lips forming a tight line.
“They think I’m dead. Most of the hunters
in their realm do as well. If that’s what it takes
to get you fighting by my side, John Winchester, then
it shouldn’t be a problem.”
John sighed, his nervous hands sliding into the pockets
of his jacket. “I’m gonna have to call them
soon, keep them busy.”
what you must,” Zack stated absently, his gaze
returning to the wall as John nodded and turned to walk
away. A sea of loud voices flooded the outside as the
father re-entered the hunter’s headquarters.
breathed in the afternoon air deeply, finding his center
before reaching into his jacket and pulling out his
worn cell phone and dialing. John wasn’t the only
man with work to do.
the Impala into the motel parking space directly in
front of their room, wiping a hand across his face and
grimacing at the wetness there. “Look, Sam, all
I’m saying is that if you want a woman to pay
attention to you, you might want to lose that ‘I
sweat, therefore I am’ scent you got going on.”
not the one who suggested a ten mile run, Dean,”
Sam griped, groaning as he cracked open the passenger
door and moved his sore, screaming body out of the car.
“What was with that damn trail anyways? Uphill
on the home stretch?”
you’re getting soft on me, Sammy,” Dean
teased breathily, pulling at the damp collar of his
T-shirt as he trudged to the room. “Your heart
rate is supposed to go up. Why it’s called exercise.”
people wonder why the majority of the population just
doesn’t care,” Sam commented through a deep
exhale. He jiggled the door handle and looked at Dean
in desperation. “Key, bro. C’mon.”
coming,” Dean muttered, wincing as he reached
for his wallet, retrieving the motel key and unlocking
the door, his face twisted from his body soreness.
I’m not the only one who’s not in shape,”
Sam laughed, nudging his brother in the ribs and eliciting
a shaky scoff from Dean as he brushed past him and flopped
down on the far bed.
shook his head as he sank down on the edge of his bed
and slowly lifted a leg that now seemed weigh several
hundred pounds in order to remove his shoe. “You
are the one who’s going to shower first, though.”
Sam murmured, shifting slightly and carefully as his
whole body felt like it was on fire, his head buried
in his pillow.
bro,” the older brother snarked, dropping the
heavy with a thud and lifting up the other one with
equally exorbitant exertion, his arms protesting the
motion as he reached for his second shoe. “But
if I let you sleep there for even ten minutes, they
ain’t never gonna get the smell out of those sheets.”
you’re hilarious,” Sam slurred, his voice
muffled by his comfortable head rest.
seriously, dude,” Dean laughed, reaching over
and swatting the younger brother’s foot, “Just
leave me some hot water.”
slid up slowly, his hair askew and a glare on his face.
“No way in hell.”
be like that,” Dean drawled, throwing a clean
shirt in Sam’s direction. The younger man caught
it and trudged wearily to the bathroom, stopping at
the coffee table to retrieve a fresh pair of jeans from
his pack, his eyes falling on Dean’s phone.
you got a message,” Sam stated, selecting a pair
of pants from his grand total of three.
Dean asked curiously, grunting to a stand and shuffling
over to the table. He retrieved his phone, eyes studying
the screen. “Well, somebody loves me.”
rolled his eyes and groaned, moving in closer to peer
over his brother’s shoulder. “Who’s
get in the shower,” Dean complained, scrunching
his nose in disgust and jerking away from Sam’s
smell like a sweat shop too, you know?” Sam shot
back, crossing his arms in defiance. “Who called?”
Dean said with a cocky smirk. “It was a text.”
sucked in a breath. “From Dad?”
number. So, yeah, probably,” Dean reasoned, dropping
the phone down on the table and glancing over at his
brother. “Coordinates. He’s giving us another
run around. Can you believe that?”
don’t know that,” Sam stated thoughtfully,
“Maybe it’s where he is?”
barked a laugh, his eyes brows quirked in amusement.
Dean, I’m pissed too, okay?” Sam offered,
ducking his head to establish a sight line connection
with his brother, “But we need to check this out.
We don’t know if it’s a real gig or not.”
man, I know,” Dean sighed, scratching his head
idly. “You pretty much ready to go? I mean, after
you shower that is. You’re not getting back in
my baby reeking like that.”
up,” Sam muttered, turning on his heel and heading
toward the bathroom. “And yeah, I’m ready.
I’ll research those out when you’re in,
okay? Find out where we’re heading?”
for me,” Dean stated, rummaging through his own
pack and waving Sam off to the shower. He heard the
soft click of the bathroom door, and snapped his head
up. “Hot Water!”
cry pierced through the worn wood separating the brothers,
and Dean nearly knocked it down when Sam’s petulant
reply flew back at him.
were ready in less than half an hour, Dean sulking in
the driver’s seat, body still damp from the ice
water shower and Sam sitting comfortably in the passenger,
wringing the flicks of water out of his long shaggy
better be a real case,” Dean snapped, selecting
his musical choice for the beginning of the drive, and
clenching his jaw when Sam shook his head, droplets
of water flinging onto Dean’s face. “Dude,
that gets on the leather…”
know, I know,” Sam placated, twisting the stolen
motel towel in his hands.
sure you do,” Dean threatened, eyeing his little
brother carefully before reaching over and smacking
the back of his head playfully.
think I got the point,” Sam shot back, rubbing
his head and feigning hurt. “And I don’t
think Dad would do that again, Dean.”
not,” Dean muttered with a sigh, “Then I
might have to kick his ass.”
That’d be fun to watch,” Sam laughed, shaking
his head when he saw the CD Dean had chosen. Switching
expressions quickly he issued a begging glance for Dean
to pick another. “I think I’d sell tickets.”
be right next to me,” Dean stated with finality,
inserting the CD despite Sam’s protest. “Tag
team, only way we stand a chance.”
still kick our asses,” Sam murmured truthfully,
a frown on his face as Blue Oyster Cult pounded out
do your homework, Sammy?” Dean asked, turning
onto the highway exit.
Sam replied, patting the top of his laptop lovingly.
“Got it right here.”
this is just…peachy,” Dean grumbled, pressing
his lips together hard enough on the “p”
to make a noise like cracking chewing gum as he spat
it out. The word was obviously not his first choice
phrase, considering he’d spoken in mostly four-letter
words the entire drive up there. He smacked his hands
against the steering wheel indignantly and stepped out
of the car, taking in his surroundings, and shutting
the door as solidly as he could while refraining from
actually slamming it.
would just be abuse. The car was the only Winchester
not allowed to take any of that.
wasn’t the Impala’s fault that the entire
facility that the mysterious coordinates had led them
to was surrounded by a ten-foot, chain-link fence. “I
thought you said this was a school, not a friggin’
prison,” he scowled, stalking around to the trunk
which, like the rest of the car, was semi-hidden in
the dense underbrush.
school,” Sam corrected. “Might as well be
prison. Some very rich people spent a whole lotta cash
to send their spoiled brats here for some tough love.”
He looked at the towering fence appraisingly, almost
kinking his neck as he pointed his chin to the top.
“Kinda makes you glad Dad never took Aunt Cindy’s
advice about sending you to one, doesn’t it?”
He asked, cocking his eyebrow expectantly as Dean frowned
dubiously at the task before him. “Not that we
needed military school with our own flesh-and-blood
drill instructor sleeping in the next room.”
Dean said distractedly, not nearly as quick to jump
to his father’s defense after the wild goose chase
he’d sent them on a week earlier. The fact that
the old man was apparently back to sending them coordinates
again instead of addressing them directly was almost
a slap in the face after all they’d been through
in the last year.
grasped the chain links in one hand and gave the fence
a shake. Not even a wiggle. He guessed the support poles
had to be embedded in concrete to keep the wire stretched
that tightly over the years of abandonment. “School
my ass. Add a little razor wire and this place could
pass for Manticore.”
wrinkled his eyebrows. “Dark Angel?”
Jessica Alba in camouflage and army boots, kicking ass
and taking names?” He defended, dismissing his
brother’s skeptical smirk. “She was like
Luke Skywalker with b… boots,” he waffled
with a smirk, leading his brother on. He wiggled his
eyebrows. Thought I was gonna say boobs didn’t
that show was freakin’ hilarious,” Dean
continued. “That guy, Normal, he was totally gay
for the good-looking transgenic kid. What was his name?
Alex? Allan? Alec?” He shook his head to break
the train of thought and get back to the business at
hand. “Something like that anyways…”
he trailed off, following Sam’s glare up to the
apex of the perimeter fence. “Could totally use
some of that souped-up, genetically-engineered strength
about now, though. Then we could just make like an X-5
and jump this mother.”
caught the doubtful look on his brother’s face.
“Well, we could always walk the perimeter and
see if there’s an opening,” he suggested.
the matter, Francis?” Dean smirked, stuffing his
EMF meter into the inner pocket of his jacket and zipping
it safely inside. “‘Fraid you might break
right. I was thinking more about you and your little,
uh, handicap,” Sam snarked.
I hate to point it out to you, big brother, or should
I say, older brother, but you’re a little vertically
just looks that way from your freakishly exaggerated
perspective. Objects in Sam’s line of sight are
closer than they appear. You’re just getting the
panoramic view. You miss a lot of the detail that way.
A good macro lens comes in handier in our line of work.”
took a few steps away from the fence and assumed a runner’s
standing start position. “C’mon, Twiggy.
Let’s just get this over with.”
that, he sprinted forward and launched himself as far
up the wire as he could reach.
was an impressive leap, and he managed to get a handhold
about eighteen inches from the top, grunting loudly
as his arms stretched in their sockets. He hit the wire
chest first, feet uselessly dangling for a hold beneath
him. After a couple seconds of awkward kicking, he managed
to wedge the toe of one of his boots into the diamond
mesh and pushed up, alleviating the strain on his arm
sockets and taking a moment to catch his breath.
heard two long strides crunch over the gravel behind
him and a grunt of exertion, and then Sam was at his
the older brother’s dismay, the long-legged geek
boy was like a cat, latching the top rail of the fence
in one bound and hoisting himself smoothly up to the
top while barely wiggling the wire. Sam balanced his
big feet on the top rail for a second, taking most of
his weight on his arms as he smoothly turned around
and began lowering himself down the other side. He paused
momentarily, a cheshire grin on his face that seemed
remarkably fitting as his bangs clung to his forehead
in black tabby stripes.
were saying, Shorty?” He teased, looking down
upon his brother as Dean wrestled his way up by brute
ignored the remark and kept doggedly climbing, concentrating
on each hand and foothold. He was nearly to the top
when he felt a strange movement beneath his jacket.
was then that he remembered the tear in the lining of
reached out gracefully with his own cat-like reflexes
and caught the EMF detector just as it slid free of
its hiding spot. He caught the prized meter easily but
lost both footholds in the process and was dangling
helplessly by one arm in the blink of an eye.
face grew red with exertion as he tried to muscle his
way back into a safe position using just the strength
of his one arm and upper back. Oh crap. This is
Before his brutalized fingers could slide free of the
death grip they were trying desperately to maintain
on the wire, Dean felt two giant hands snake under his
arms and haul him up to the top. Sam maintained his
grasp long enough for Dean to get his one free arm up
and over the rail, fingers twined into the mesh on the
opposite side and feet braced in firm holds.
caught sight of his brother’s self-satisfied,
expectant smirk and groaned audibly with a roll of his
eyes. He would have preferred falling on his ass to
having his ginormous baby brother save it, thus validating
Sam’s suggestion that they should’ve just
looked for an open gate somewhere.
had it, Sam,” he protested with a look of ‘God
just kill me now.’
laughed in disbelief and proceeded to lower himself
down the other side of the fence. “Whatever, man.”
watched him work his way down to the ground and managed
to get himself turned around to the other side of the
wire with just the one free arm. Then he paused momentarily
to consider what he should do with the EMF detector,
because no way was he gonna be able to climb down with
it in his hand. “Sam, I’m gonna drop the
EMF down to you…” he began.
he turned his head to find Sam’s position, he
lost his tremulous grasp of his own and a wave of vertigo
washed over him just long enough for his fingers to
unwind from the rail. Without warning, he fell, landing
on top of his brother and knocking them both to the
fence was located on the top of an incline, and the
brothers went rolling down it, through the brush and
gravel for what seemed like a hundred yards before they
coasted to a stop, leaving behind a trail of dust and
a string of curses they were pretty sure they wouldn’t
want their dad knowing they had in their vocabularies.
course, they’d learned most of them from John
to begin with.
his head as the world stopped spinning at last, Dean
took stock of his various body parts. He quickly realized
that nothing was seriously injured, but the position
of his arms and legs, akimbo atop Sam’s sprawled
form, was likely going to get him in a whole world of
hurt if he didn’t get the hell off before his
brother decided to go mechanical bull and throw him
spastically, awkward much, Dean rolled off
of Sam and stood shakily, brushing the leaves and dirt
from his body as he did so. “You okay, Sammy?”
He asked, glancing down at his brother uncomfortably.
“You know, if you wanted to go for a roll, we
coulda stopped a couple of towns back to relieve a little
tension with a couple of pretty local girls,”
he snarked half-heartedly, embarrassed at his own clumsiness.
looked at his brother with an expression of total bewilderment.
“Zack? Dude, you didn’t hit your head or
anything did you?”
then did he catch Sam’s glance diverting to just
over his right shoulder. The click of a revolver being
armed, the cylinder rolling into place just behind Dean’s
head, had the older brother’s hands stuttering
in their process of cleaning up and raising weakly in
a gesture of surprised submission.
The voice that parted his hair was the unmistakably
raspy bark of their crazy old friend, Zack Murzak.
of you boys to finally drop in,” Zack growled,
and the barrel of the gun pressed hard into Dean’s