Pin and the Fork
The Pin and the Fork In Chess: In Chess The Pin and the Fork are two separate strategies which basically rely on the same idea. A clever move places your piece in a situation which not only attacks one of your opponents' unguarded pieces, but two! This places your opponent in quite a predicament, since they must lose something!
Defense: If for some reason you are ever caught in a pin or a fork, all hope is not lost. There are still some evasive maneuvers which are highly effective in destroying any advantage to your opponent.
Retreat and Reinforce - Defensive move option. One piece retreats from your attacking opponent, but on its retreat, it moves into a position which will protect your other vulnerable piece. This effectively reduces the situation from being advantageous for your opponent to one of an exchange. If he does decide to follow through and attack your other piece, then you will be able to capture his piece, thereby maintaining equality on the board.
Dean felt every bruise and pulled muscle as he opened the door to his father’s truck and eased himself out. His recently wounded shoulder jarred with the impact and he winced as the reopened bullet hole sent a wave of heated agony cursing down his left arm. He knew he should have redressed and bound it, but dealing with it one-handedly wasn’t an easy task. It would also have made driving across country a bitch. He shut the truck door. It had been odd driving his father’s truck. John’s scent still remained and Jim’s dangling cross made it as though he had company for the ride.
The shoulder had been the least of his worries with all the other aches and pains making themselves known. But now as he walked towards Jim Murphy’s farm house, he felt overcome by a sense of weariness.
It had always been that way, as if his body on a cellular level recognized a place of safety and his defenses would start to drop one by one. A wolf retreating to its den.
Dean felt protected at the farm and through the years had allowed himself moments of weakness. It was here he would feel a tiny bit healed when a gig gone bad left him feeling overwhelmed and shattered beyond repair. He only wished Jim were here to aid in the process.
The pastor had been a big part of why Dean felt safe. Jim wasn’t important to Dean because he was the Guardian or one of his father’s true and trusted friends. He was important to Dean because Jim saw past all that John expected his oldest son to be, and doted on the hidden parts the patriarch of the Winchester often times tried so hard to bury.
A cool breeze brushed against the hunter as he approached the screened in porch where a glowing light had been left on for him. He lifted his face to the star-filled sky and sighed. This was the first time he had been back to the old place in years, unless you counted the weird dreams magically transporting him to meet with Jim and Atticus after the minister’s death at the hands of the same demon who had just possessed Sam. The irony wasn’t lost on Dean. But despite the tug of sadness and loss at the back of his mind, he couldn’t deny the even stronger pull of peace that prodded him to climb the rickety wooden steps and open the creaky screen door.
He almost jumped when a thump of a tail alerted him that he was being watched from the corner. He smiled when the black Labrador limped out of the Igloo-type dog house.
Scout had to be almost sixteen if not older, but despite the graying snout and face, her warm brown eyes still twinkled like the fiery pup she had once been. “Hey girl,” he whispered, when she leaned her heavy flank against him and nudged his good hand for a hearty rubdown. “Still guarding the place, I see?”
Another nudge was the only reply he received and he sighed when she looked up at the door with a pleading whimper. It was warm on the porch, but Dean couldn’t resist holding the door open just long enough for her to scoot inside. He was surprised his little brother hadn’t sneaked her inside to sleep with him like he use to when they were kids. Of course, the person scowling at him from the kitchen table explained why the furry sentry had been banished from the house. Scout ran directly for the living room.
“Dean Mathew Winchester, that beast needs a bath before she roams over all the furniture.”
“What kind of heartless person puts an old dog out of her own house, Missouri?”
The woman shook her head slowly standing up. “The same kind that will put you right back out there if you don’t wipe those muddy boots.”
Dean grinned, scooting his feet over the well-worn mat that faintly showed the carved word ’Welcome’. “It’s good to see you too, Missouri.”
The psychic propped a hand on her hip. “I would have been glad to see you, yesterday.” She gave him a critical once over. “That was when you were supposed to be here.”
“Sam was supposed to tell you I was running a little behind him.”
The woman frowned, gesturing for the hunter to sit at the table. “Sam showed up two days ago. He’s been worried sick about you.”
Dean rubbed a hand over his hair, and then down to pinch at his stiff neck. “Yeah. I busted my cell. Didn’t really have a way to keep in touch. Sorry.”
Missouri brought over two cups of coffee and put one in front of Dean before reclaiming her seat beside him. “You best be glad Caleb could sense you were alive…at the least. Mackland had to threaten to sedate both those boys to keep them from going out to search for your sorry behind.”
Winchester took a drink of the bitter brew and sighed. “I got tied up.”
“Un huh.” Missouri watched him over the rim of her cup. “You’ll be lucky if Mackland doesn’t string you up when he finds out what you’ve been up to, boy.” The psychic moved her knowing gaze to the hunter’s bruised and cut knuckles. “You’re almost as mule-headed as your daddy.”
Dean took another drink of his coffee avoiding the sudden change in conversation. “How’s Sammy doing?”
Missouri sighed, toying with one of the rings on her fingers. “Well, you’d have to ask him that, considering he hasn’t been very chatty since arriving.”
Dean raised a brow. “When has that ever stopped you from knowing how someone is feeling?”
“Boy, are you accusing me of snooping through people’s private thoughts?”
Winchester shook his head, hiding his smile behind his mug. “No, Mam. I’d never do that.”
The woman exhaled loudly, shaking her head. “He’s gotten very good at blocking out unwanted help. Sam‘s not as open as he use to be.”
“That what you calling it these days? Help?”
She frowned at him again and Dean dropped his smirk. “Your brother’s been holed up in the library with that dog mostly. Although he’s been taking meals with Caleb and occasionally playing a game of chess with Mackland.”
The hunter hesitated. “How is Caleb?”
Missouri’s gaze lifted to meet Dean’s and her face softened. “He’s as stubborn as ever. I swear you’d think you boys think you’re invincible.”
Dean toyed with his half empty cup. A part of him still felt guilty for leaving the hospital while Reaves was in a coma, despite the fact it was the Scholar‘s idea. And then Sam had disappeared, which left him the only option of searching for his brother.
He had stayed in contact with Ames during the entire time. When Reaves finally did come out of it, Mackland again made an executive decision not to tell his son about Sam until he was more stable, hoping Dean would come up with something before Caleb was truly lucid.
In hindsight it all made sense. The timing of the attack- tying Mac’s hands as well as taking the Knight out of the equation. The one person who could have helped track Sammy, as well as the one who would have been able to sense his brother’s possessed state. Then there was the most important factor in the equation, the one that could change everything.
“Dean? Did you hear me?”
“What?” Winchester blinked, looking up at Missouri. “Did you say something?”
“I said that you can’t be in two places at once.”
“You’re feeling guilty for something you had no say in.’
“I don’t need any help, Missouri.”
“Mmm hmm.” The woman stood up, taking her and Dean’s cup back to the sink. “Why don’t you go up and see for yourself about Caleb. Your brother is in the library, sleeping-the last time I checked. And stop pestering me with questions.”
“Where’s Mac? I need to talk to him first.” There were things the Scholar needed to know, and Dean wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say to Sam or Reaves. How did you tell someone they had merely been pawns in a game they didn’t even realize they were playing, especially when both had been hurt in the process? It was one of the reasons he had taken the long way from Texas, where Sam had dropped him to pick up their father’s truck. The unplanned side trip to Arkansas had given him a legitimate reason to follow up on the information Fisher had come up with, but now he was wondering about that whole ‘ignorance is bliss’ thing.
“I swear, boy, do you need him to check your hearing, too?”
Again, Dean brought his eyes up to the psychic. “Sorry. Where’d you say he was?”
“I sent him into town for some things.”
Dean nodded, carefully standing and pushing back his chair. “Will you tell him I need to see him when he gets back?”
“Thanks.” Dean started towards the living room, but Missouri’s voice stopped him.
“Bobby called a little while ago.”
The hunter cleared his voice. “Yeah?”
“He said he heard through the grapevine that a group of hunters were having a big pow wow at the Roadhouse.”
“You don’t say? Maybe Ellen’s having a special on tap. Service sucks there, but the brew‘s not half bad.”
“I hope that’s all it is.”
“Should I take anything up to Caleb?” Dean asked, once again changing the subject.
“No.” Mosley shook her head. “I’ll make some dinner after Mackland gets back. I’m using Jim’s recipe for fried chicken.”
The hunter swallowed thickly. The thought of sitting down to dinner without Jim reawakened all the deadened pain from before. “Sounds great,” he forced out. It was about time for another one of those little magic pills Jo had given him.
Each step to the second floor seemed like ten as his legs rebelled the extra stress. The familiar feel of the wooden banister beneath his fingers didn’t help, nor did the pop and crackle of the fireplace below or the sweet smell of cedar. Dean felt his stomach turn and he pushed his body even more to make it to the bathroom in his and Sam’s old room.
He didn’t bother turning on the light, easily maneuvering his way by memory to the small door on the opposite side of the room. There wasn’t much in his stomach but what was there made a painful exit. Throwing up was a bitch when there were bruised ribs and a gunshot wound thrown into the mix. Thankfully the torture didn’t last long and Dean pulled himself up and over to the sink where he filled a glass and tossed back two of the pain pills before splashing his face with water.
A slight knock had him lifting his head. He didn’t have a chance to say anything before the door was pushed slightly ajar and the light was turned on. Caleb Reaves leaned in the doorway. “Tell me you’re not drunk.”
Dean laughed, the sound bordering somewhat on a sob. He shook his head, rubbing a hand towel over his face. “I should be so lucky.”
Reaves moved a couple of steps into the room, picking up the bottle of pills and squinting at the label. “I’m jealous.” He cocked a curious eyebrow at the other hunter. “These are better than mine and I lost a fucking organ.”
Dean met his gaze. “Help yourself, Damien. You look like hell.”
Caleb smirked, pocketing the prescription meds. “Check out that ugly bastard in the mirror, kiddo.” He jutted his chin to the medicine cabinet. “You definitely don’t have room to talk.”
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Dean sighed and stepped back. “Seriously.” The younger hunter hadn’t been joking about the psychic’s appearance. Bruises in varying states of healing littered his face and his dark hair barely covered the startling white bandage that covered a large portion of his forehead. Caleb was also hunched over slightly, holding his cast-ensconced arm protectively across his ribs. I
“I heard you come up. Jim never did insulate these freakin’ walls.”
Dean swallowed, his stomach making another threat to expel what meager contents might be left. “Sorry.”
Caleb frowned. “You okay, Deuce?”
It would have been easy to lie, or at least it should have been. But Dean found his mouth suddenly had a mind of its own. “No,” he said softly. “I’m not.”
Reaves straightened up, taking a step closer. “Are you hurt?” He reached out and squeezed the other man’s arm. “I mean besides the obvious botched face job someone attempted to give you.”
Dean glanced up at him. “Nothing Mac can’t fix.”
Reaves’s frown grew. If Dean wasn’t denying injuries then something was definitely wrong. He let his guard down without thinking and suddenly felt like someone had taken another swipe at his head with that aluminum bat.
Dean watched what little color the psychic had drain from his face. He quickly reached out to steady Reaves as the psychic grasped his head and hissed in pain. “Caleb.”
“Shit,” the older hunter growled in frustration at his body’s betrayal. Things were not getting back to normal as quickly as he had hoped. It had been over a week since he had come out of the coma and he had been home for two days. “I’m okay.”
Dean moved his hand, once he was sure the man wasn‘t going to do a header on the bathroom floor. “Sure you are.”
Caleb cracked one eye open. “Just give me a second.”
“I‘m not going anywhere.”
Reaves took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Good thing. I could kick your ass for not showing up when you were supposed to.”
Dean smirked. “That is so far out of the realm of possibility now that you might as well tell me you have Giselle and a few of her model buddies waiting in your bedroom for you.”
“As if I’d tell you.”
The younger hunter grinned. “ Really, what’s going on with you, man? Should you be out of the hospital?”
“I’m fine.” Caleb straightened to his full height, feeling weak under the quiet scrutiny. “My abilities are fucked. Stupid drugs…definitely a reason to just say no.” He glanced up at Dean. “If I don’t stay on guard, everything filters in, including everything everyone is feeling.”
Winchester felt another pang of guilt. “I’d say the concussion doesn’t help.” He took the psychic by the elbow. “We’re going to have to get you a special helmet to go with all that chain mail, Lancelot.”
“Speaking of helmets.” Caleb snorted. “Remember that time you got hit by that line drive when you were like in the ninth grade?”
Dean frowned at the odd reference as he helped the man back across his and Sam’s room and through the adjoining door into his own bedroom. “I remember you and Sam embarrassing the hell out of me.”
“The kid thought you were dead. Your head split open like a melon. Blood was everywhere.”
If Dean remembered right, Sam wasn’t the only one freaked out. “Your point, Random?”
“I now feel a little bad for calling you a pansy ass.”
“It’s good to know you‘re getting so sensitive in your old age.”
“I still don’t think I would have cried, but after getting up close and personal to the business end of a ball bat, I have a better appreciation for the whole head exploding thing.”
“I didn’t cry,” Dean said indignantly, easing the other hunter onto the double bed. “That was Sam.”
“Right.” Reaves leaned back against the headboard, where several pillows had been placed.
Winchester shook his head, shoving away the typical evidence of Caleb’s nesting. He picked up several books and an architectural digest so he could sit on the edge of the bed. There were numerous empty glasses and plates as well as a half-hidden bag of chips. Dean pulled the junk food from beneath the blanket figuring Sam had smuggled them in against Doctor Ames orders. “Well scalp wounds bleed a lot and I didn’t have a skull fracture?”
Caleb grinned ruefully. “True. But then again, you’ve always been a lot more hard headed than me.”
“Sometimes stubborn pays off,” Winchester said around a mouthful of the salty chips. “Got any M & M’s hidden around?”
Reaves rolled his eyes, but didn‘t disappoint the younger man when he retrieved the familiar yellow package from beneath a pillow. “If you say so.”
Dean took the bag with a grin. “I say so.” Despite the purging from moments before, his stomach perked up and he poured himself a handful of the chocolate candies. “It got this back.” The younger hunter put down the food long enough to reach into his pocket and retrieve a small black pouch which he tossed to Reaves.
Caleb caught it and frowned. “This would be?”
Dean grinned. “Your precious, Gollum.”
The psychic dumped the contents of the bag into the palm of his cast-covered hand and glanced back up at Dean. “What the hell did you do, Deuce?”
The younger man shrugged. “I got what was yours.”
“This is what took you so long to get back here?” The psychic’s eyes darkened, as he picked up his silver hunter’s ring. “You went after those fucking bastards on your own?”
Dean tossed the bag of M & M’s on the nightstand. “You’re welcome.”
“Damn it, Dean.” Caleb sighed loudly. “It’s just a ring. You could have gotten your self killed.” He raked his gaze over the kid again. “Looks like you nearly did.”
“Just a ring?” Winchester shook his head. “No it’s not. Not to you. And you know it.”
Reaves stubbornly shook his head. “It’s not important enough for you to get hurt over.” Nothing was.
“I didn’t get hurt.”
“Like hell. Look at you.”
“Sam did most of this.”
That seemed to stop whatever rebuttal Caleb was planning and he clasped the ring in his hand, shaking his head. “You should have waited until one of us could have gone with you, Deuce. Or better yet, both of us.”
Dean clenched his jaw. “I needed to do this on my own.”
“Why?” Caleb raised his voice. “ So you could prove something?”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You tell me, man.”
Winchester glared at him. “Forget it.”
He started to stand, but Caleb reached out and caught his arm. “Don’t. We need to talk about this.”
“What? So you can order me around, just like the Scholar did?”
“Mac was trying to keep you safe, Dean.”
“A whole hell of a lot of good that did, huh?” Dean looked away, but remained sitting. “Sam got possessed, a hunter got killed, and I got shot. We would have been better off at the hospital.”
“There was no way Mac could have known all that…” Caleb let him go. “And I’m sorry that I wasn’t there…I know…”
“I don’t blame you,” Dean interjected, shooting a hard look in the psychic’s direction. “None of this is your fault. I think I told you before that you‘re not always going to be there. We understand that.”
“But if I hadn’t been out of it, then I would have known Sam was possessed.”
“Exactly.” Dean met his guilt-ridden gaze. “You remember telling Sammy during your whole mind melding session you were pretty sure that was what prompted the attack? At least, the getting you out of the way part.” Now Dean knew for sure that had been the first move in a very deliberate strategic plan.
Reaves frowned. “I don’t remember any damn thing, Deuce. After getting out of the truck at that motel in Texas…after my skull met that bat…everything is pretty much a blank until I woke up in the hospital.”
“Trust me, man. You were going to be out of the equation one way or the other.”
Caleb’s frown deepened. “Did you find that out when you got this back?” He held up his ring and watched his best friend nod. “What else, Deuce?”
“I’ll explain it all when Mac gets here. I don’t want to have to tell it twice.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Then talk about the other stuff?”
“What other stuff?”
“Oh I don’t know…” Caleb gestured casually with his hand. “There’s the whole possession thing and you getting ventilated by Sammy. And of course the exorcism gone bad. Take your pick.”
“There’s nothing to say.”
Caleb held his gaze, wincing as little slivers of the younger man’s pain bled through the cracks in his defenses. “I know that’s not true.”
“I thought your abilities were off-line.”
“They are.” He pinched at the bridge of his nose. “Trust me, I’m not trying to read you, but I’d pretty much have to be back in that coma not to sense you right now.” The feelings were raw and all too real. Guilt. Pain. Fear. But stronger than anything else was the doubt.
Dean watched the other man for a moment, could tell he was hurting. “Maybe I should just go…”
Reaves looked up at him. “You should just talk to me.” The older hunter willed Winchester to listen to him for once. He wasn’t above playing dirty. “Please.”
“What the fuck do you want to hear, Damien?” Dean choked, feeling his eyes start to sting. “That I screwed up? That I lost Sam again?” He stood quickly, pacing in front of the bed, needing to place some distance between him and Reaves. It wasn‘t like he was ten again and could go running to the psychic to fix everything. “Hell, not only did I lose him, I almost had to kill him.” Winchester blinked, stopping suddenly. He turned his gaze back to Caleb. “You want to hear how he put the gun in my hand, begged me to do it?”
“Sam already told me that part.” Caleb swung his legs over the side of the bed, looking up at Dean. “I want to know what’s going on with you. That wasn’t Sam and you know that. It was that fucking demon.”
“That’s not the point.”
Reaves’s brow furrowed. “Then what is, Deuce? Demons lie. They hit us where we‘re most vulnerable. Those are some of the first things Bobby taught us.”
The younger man faltered, licking his lips. “The point is, man, that for just a second…”
Caleb watched him struggle, felt the overwhelming anguish pouring off of him. “What?”
“I thought about doing it, then eating a fucking bullet myself.” Dean sighed. “It would all have been over. I thought about putting both of us out of our miseries. No more pain. No more doubts.” He met Caleb’s gaze again. “Maybe we could have been a family again without all this crazy shit. I‘m so fucking tired of all the crazy shit..”
Reaves swallowed back his own fears that the confession stirred up. “That doesn’t sound like you, Deuce,” he said softly. “You never take the easy way out of anything. You’re a fighter.”
“I’m tired of fighting.” He looked away. “Especially a battle I’m not going to win.”
“What?” Caleb pushed himself from the bed.
“Meg…or whoever that demon bitch is she called it right. I screwed up. Dad’s dead because of me and now Sam…”
“Is alive because of you,” Reaves interrupted him, stepping into his personal space. “You saved him this time- just like a hundred times before.”
“The odds say I’m bound to mess up eventually. What if I can‘t save him?”
“You have to stop beating yourself up.” Caleb was picking up on some of the kid’s feelings loud and clear and despite the ringing in his ears it was causing he was damn well going to deal with them. “You’re not worthless! You’re not pathetic! And you’re not around just to watch out for Sammy.”
Reaves reached out with his good hand and clasped the other man’s wrist. “I want you to get this through that thick skull of yours because after these meds wear off, I‘m pretty sure I’m going to be pissed about this whole girly conversation. You’re important. Got it? More than you realize. You have a destiny all your own, a purpose, and Sam’s not the only one who needs you. So the next fucking time you think about checking out, remember you have a family here, too.” Caleb let him go, lowering his voice. “And you will save Sam. There’s nothing I believe more.”
Dean’s mouth twitched. “Tell me I don’t need to pull out the flask of holy water.”
Reaves rolled his eyes, holding his side. “I’m pretty sure if I were possessed I’d be feeling no pain right now. You can trust me on that.”
“I do trust you, Damien.”
“Good.” Caleb looked at him. “Because the feeling’s mutual.”
“Then can I ask you something?”
“Is it going to make my blood pressure go up?” Caleb sighed, sinking back down onto the bed, shaking his head at how alike the Winchester boys could be sometimes.
Dean nodded. “Probably.”
“What it is it with you and your brother?” Reaves gestured for him to continue. “Go ahead, Deuce, it seems nothing’s off the table tonight. Knock yourself out.”
Dean seemed to hesitate a moment, and then finally moved directly in front of the other hunter. “Is Sam the next Scholar?”
Reaves eyes widened, his mouth opening and then closing. “What?” he choked.
“You heard me. Is Sam supposed to be the next Scholar?”
Caleb held his gaze. That was the last thing he expected, and once again the psychic cursed his freaking abilities for not giving him a fucking heads-up. He had never lied to Dean before, not straight out, and he wasn’t sure if he could do it now. But the kid was looking at him, and he had to say something. “Deuce…”
“Yes. He is.” Both men turned towards the unexpected voice and watched as Mackland Ames moved from the entranceway into Caleb’s room and shut the door. He set his medical bag on the nightstand. “After I’m gone, or retired, your brother is expected to take my position in the Triad.”
Dean sat down on the bed beside Reaves, and both men continued to look at Ames. “I was waiting for the appropriate time to tell you and of course, Samuel, but that time has yet to come.” Mac opted for a weary smile. “Until now.”
“Did you know?”
Caleb moved his gaze from his father to Dean. “Yes.”
“I ordered him not to tell you,” Mac told the younger hunter. “He wanted to, but it wasn’t his decision to make.”
Caleb looked at Dean. “Who did tell you?”
“One of the bastards who attacked you.”
“What?” Mackland frowned. “How…when…”
Reaves looked down at the floor and felt Dean shift beside him under Ames’s scrutiny.
“Dean, tell me you didn’t…”Mackland started, but Winchester cut him off.
“Fisher got the names of the bastards who did it and hell yes I paid them a fucking visit.” The anger was back in Dean’s voice. “I tracked the three of them to Arkansas.”
“Three?” Caleb asked. “I thought there were four.”
Dean looked from Reaves to Ames, a grim line settling across his mouth. “Seems Sammy already took care of the fourth.”
“Oh, God.” Mackland exhaled loudly. The situation continued to grow grimmer. When Bobby had called the doctor about the hunter’s death and when Sam had explained his part in it after arriving to the farm, Ames had only thought they had hit rock bottom. “Please don‘t tell me the fourth hunter was Steve Wendell?”
“Yahtzee,” Dean told him.
Caleb frowned. “That‘s the guy Sam wasted while he was possessed.”
“That‘s the hunter the demon murdered,” Ames corrected. “And that makes this officially look like a retaliation killing by The Brotherhood. By the future Scholar, no less.”
Reaves still couldn’t quite wrap his addled mind around it all. “You’re telling me someone sets me up to take a beating, and then sets Sam up to kill one of the bastards who did it, all to make The Brotherhood come off looking like something out of The Godfather saga?”
“Not just anyone. Someone willing to make a deal with a demon,” Dean added.
“Why would hunters do that?” Caleb looked at his father. “Why would it matter to them about The Brotherhood or whomever was meant to be the next Triad? They‘re not in the union.”
Mac shook his head. “Usually it wouldn’t, Son. But with the war coming, everyone is going to have to choose sides.” He glanced to Dean. “This still doesn’t explain how this hunter came to tell you about your brother.”
“This guy, Garland, he was the one who had Caleb’s ring. I wasn’t especially happy with him and he decided to bargain with me.”
“He told you about Sam?” Reaves frowned. “But how did he…”
“Good question.” Dean snapped. “Considering his own fucking brother didn’t know…and oh yeah, there’s the whole thing where Sam himself doesn’t know. What kind of show are you running, Mackland?”
“What exactly did he tell you, Dean?” Ames ignored the insinuation, pulling a chair from beneath the small desk in the corner and dragging it in front of the bed, facing the younger hunters.
Winchester sighed. “He was sniveling about knowing something even more valuable. Kept saying it would be worth me letting him keep breathing.” Dean rested his elbow on his knee to take some pressure off of his ribs. “Then he started talking about how he was the one the big man behind it all paid. He was the contact. Garland was hired to put together a team of men that could take the future Knight of The Brotherhood out of commission, but it was all just a big smoke screen. Because the real target was the Scholar. Seems there‘s a whole faction that doesn’t quite agree with a freak wielding a lot of power in the future Triad.”
“So they make Sam look like a killer?”
“They undermine the whole Brotherhood.” Mac rubbed at his eyes and then looked at Dean. “Did the man give you a name?”
Winchester nodded. “Yeah. Griffin.”
Mac rested his head in his hands and sighed. “Wonderful.” Now it made perfect sense. It wasn’t about The Brotherhood as much as it was the Triad. They were setting themselves up to challenge the new Guardian.
“Griffin?” Caleb asked, bringing his father’s weary gaze to him. “Isn’t that the name of that bastard who kidnapped us? The one who wanted Jim to step down as the Guardian-to give up the location of the silver used to make the rings?”
“What?” Dean shot the older hunter a disbelieving look. “That crazy doctor who almost got us all killed?” He’d completely blocked out most of the incident, but he couldn’t believe he had forgotten the man’s name. “Holy shit.” He looked accusingly at Ames. “What the hell is going on, Mac?”
Ames scrubbed a hand over his face. “I need to make some calls boys. We can talk about this further when I have had a chance to discuss this information with Bobby and Missouri.”
“But what about Sam? Those bastards summoned a demon to possess him. And not just any demon, Mac. A demon with a grudge against me. The same demon that killed Jim, the same demon who happens to be connected to old yellow eyes himself. What’s to keep them from doing it again.”
“You have the charms that Bobby gave you?”
“So he’s been searching for them since your father was possessed. It took him a while to track down the antiquities expert that Jim use to deal with, but when he did the man helped him locate the artifacts. One was in New Orleans, and one was believe it or not, in South Africa. They’ll protect you.”
“What about you? And Caleb?”
“We’re pretty sure the rings keep us safe. Those charms are made from the same silver and Bobby had them blessed by a priest who deals in such matters.”
“But I already wear a ring.”
Dean sighed. “And neither does Sam.” He glanced at Mac. “This is bad, Mac. First the fucking FBI, then other hunters, now some faction against The Brotherhood.”
“I understand that, Dean, and I realize you are upset, but there are things at work here that you can’t understand and…”
“He could understand them if he knew what the hell was going on,” Caleb pointed out and his father shot him a heated look.
“Is this guy, Griffin, vying to be Jim’s predecessor? Because when I took Caleb’s ring from that bastard, Garland, I told him only the fucking Guardian had the right to take a hunter’s ring or to give it. You’d have thought I’d just told him the sky was falling. I’m pretty damn sure he crapped his pants.”
“Dad…” Caleb started again only to have his father cut him off.
“Griffin will never be the Guardian, Dean. I can promise you that. His generation has come and gone.”
“But…” Dean could feel the other shoe about to drop.
Ames sighed. “But he could be working on the behalf of someone else. He may have a candidate of his own in mind.”
“So this is like some freaky twisted political campaign?”
“But the stakes are a whole hell of a lot higher,” Caleb interjected.
“Are you going to tell Sam?” Dean asked.
Mac held his gaze. “Do you think with all that the boy has been through the last few weeks, the last months, that I should add one more thing to his plate?”
“I kept Dad’s secret from him to protect him and look how that turned out.”
“I suppose I could order you not to tell him, Dean, but we both know that when it comes to you boys,” he pointedly looked at Caleb and then back to Winchester, “you don’t always trust in other’s judgment. Even mine.”
“You should have told him a long time ago.”
Mackland gave him an exasperated look. “Your father should be here dealing with this. Jim should still be alive.” The doctor gestured with his arms to encompass them. “I should be able to protect those I love. There are a whole hell of a lot of should haves in this world, Son. I should have already checked on that shoulder of yours like Missouri so kindly instructed me to do, also.” He went over to the nightstand and underneath was a box of medical supplies he had been using for Caleb. It would supplement what his medical bag lacked.
“Can’t this wait?” Dean frowned. The drugs had taken away most of the throbbing and he didn’t want anyone making it flare up again.
“Sometimes I like to feel competent and important.” Mackland gestured for Dean to remove his shirt.
“We need to feed his ego.” Caleb stated and then began humming the stripper song.
“Shut up.” Dean glared with a wince as he pulled off his flannel button down. He could see his t-shirt had a blood stain on it.
“That’s gonna hurt,” Reaves warned.
Dean tugged off the shirt, pulling it free of the bullet wound with a sharp exhale.
“When was the last time you tended to it?” Mackland asked as he cut away the stained bandage and saw the rawness of the wound.
Dean shrugged, not wanting to admit to the doctor it had been two days. He hadn’t wanted to ask Sam, since his brother had been carrying around so much guilt.
Ames shook his head and then looked at the young hunter’s torso. “I’m going to tape those up, too.”
“They use a bat on you, too, kid?” Caleb frowned at the rib cage bruising.
“Bats are for pussies.” Dean taunted. Two of the men had thick plastic coated steel cables and got in a few whacks before Dean could disarm them.
Reaves smirked. “Yeah but a gun beats a bat any day.”
Mackland cleaned the wound with some saline, then repacked and bandaged it. He used an Ace bandage to bind the younger hunter’s ribs. “You need to take some antibiotics.” The doctor handed Dean a pill container.
Ames looked at his son. “And you should be resting until Missouri has dinner ready.”
“I‘m in bed, Dad. What more do you want?”
Mackland picked up his medical bag. “Sleep would be as start.”
“Didn‘t I catch enough Z‘s in the coma?”
Mac threw up his hands, shooting Dean a pleading look. “Talk to him, please.”
The doctor strode out of the room and Dean looked at Reaves. “I guess I could knock you out and work out that frustration I‘m feeling.”
Reaves sighed. “I get that you’re pissed at me now, but thanks for this.” Caleb gestured to his ring. “It means a lot…you getting it back for me.” The psychic glanced up at him. “Although, I could still kick your ass for handling it on your own.” It was something he would expect from a Guardian and for the first time he realized what the position might actually mean for Dean-the danger it could place him in. It made his job of Knight all that more important.
The younger hunter held his gaze. “I don’t understand how you could keep this from me, Damien.”
Reaves looked back down at his ring and then up to Dean again. “You’re Captain Onehelluva Big Brother. You figure it out.”
“It’s not the same.”
“Why? Because you say it’s not? Maybe it is the same for me.” Reaves shook his head at the younger hunter’s pig-headedness. “Or is it because you don’t think you need the same kind of protecting that Sam does?” That you don’t deserve it.
“I can’t keep this from, Sam.”
Caleb nodded. “It’s your call.” He held the younger hunter’s gaze. “But you need to talk to him about all this other shit, too. You can’t sweep it under the rug. The demon might have pulled that trigger but Sammy was holding the gun when you got shot and he has the bruised knuckles to match your face. It’ll eat you both up inside.”
Dean frowned at him. “You’re all for being open and honest as long as it’s someone else doing the sharing.”
“You want to take a swing at me, Deuce, go right ahead.” Caleb gestured to his face. “But if I were you I’d go vent some of that pent up energy on Sammy. He’s in the library.” Reaves leaned back against the headboard. “At least he was when he kicked my ass in chess earlier this evening.”
Winchester sat there for a moment longer. He glanced at Caleb who was watching him. “This whole thing is beginning to seem like one big chess game. I get you‘re the Knight, and a Scholar would be like a Bishop, but where the hell do I fit in?”
Caleb looked at the younger man, wishing he could explain, wanting nothing more than to reassure Dean, but he wasn’t certain what the right move was anymore. He wanted to tell him that he was the most important piece, but couldn’t risk putting him in further jeopardy. “You’re not anyone’s fucking pawn, Deuce.”
“Not today.” The younger hunter nodded. Sometimes he felt like the sacrificial lamb. He slapped the other man’s leg. “Get some sleep, man.”
Take Someone Hostage - This saving technique moves the attention somewhere else on the board. You attack one of your opponent's important pieces (protecting yourself, of course) somewhere else on the board. This distracts the opponent, who must retreat or defend their other piece.
Dean watched his kid brother sleep, Scout curled on the floor beside the couch. Harper Lee was resting in front of the hearth and the older Winchester wondered briefly how the wily Beagle had managed to escape Missouri’s wrath.
He frowned as he noticed the book his brother had apparently been reading. It was Jim’s well-worn Bible, and it was spread open, face down over Sam’s chest. It was obvious the younger Winchester hadn’t given up his quest for faith. Dean sighed and took a seat near his brother’s hip.
At least Sam actually looked at peace for once, appearing younger than usual. It made Dean ache for the old days when his kid brother could just be innocent, and a little naïve about the world they lived in. He hated that once sleep abandoned him; Sam would have to face what had happened once more, not only the events of the last couple of days, but the last months and even the last year.
Maybe it was the library, the lingering presence of Pastor Jim, or just the pain meds kicking in, but Dean suddenly felt years younger too. His father always said the farm seemed to magically transport the boys back in time. Maybe he was right. At that moment Dean wanted it to be true, so he indulged himself.
He reached out and brushed his hand over his brother’s hair, pushing the unruly strands away from the younger man’s face. In this place, in this time, Sammy was simply his little brother. And Dean could protect him from anything.
Dean moved his hand to his brother’s face and Sam actually turned into the touch, mumbling something that sounded like Dean, before his eyes blinked and finally opened.
At first he looked confused, as if he wasn’t sure he was dreaming or actually awake, but then a hint of a dimple played at his cheek. “Hey.”
Dean removed his touch, but forced a smile. “Hey, kiddo.”
“You’re back.” Sam sat up, rubbing at his eyes. “What happened to your face?”
“You have another black out?” Dean motioned to the Bible. “You went all Cain on me, remember?”
A hurt look flashed through the younger hunter‘s dark gaze. “That wasn’t all there before.”
Dean shrugged, trying to recapture the magic that had been right at his finger tips only seconds before. “I’m okay. I had a little run in with the guys that worked Caleb over.”
Sam’s frown deepened. “Let me guess, you just happened to run into them after I dropped you at the truck?”
“Something like that.”
“You went looking for a fight?“ The younger Winchester continued to stare at his brother. “I would have helped you. You were hurt to begin with. You know better to go into a situation like that with a disadvantage.” Sam looked away. “Or is that why you didn’t want to take me?”
“No, man.” Dean reached out and squeezed his brother’s wrist. “It wasn’t like that. You needed some down time. Besides, now I’m not the only one that needs to lay low for a while. Wait and see how important finding a hotel with some entertainment like the magic fingers becomes to you now.”
“Yeah.” Sam picked up Pastor Jim’s Bible and closed it. “So you took care of the guys who hurt Caleb?”
Dean nodded. “Yeah. They’re not going to be doing any more damage for a while. How are you doing?
Sam shrugged again, but Dean didn’t miss the shiver that ran through his brother’s lanky frame. “I’m fine.”
The reply was too quick and to the point for Dean’s liking. “No really, how are you?”
The younger hunter looked up at him. “Mac checked me over. I’ve been running a fever, but Missouri says that’s normal after a possession that lasted as long as mine. But she checked me over. There’s nothing lingering around.”
“I wasn’t worried about anything lingering around.” Dean frowned, reaching out and laying the back of his hand against his brother’s forehead. Sam was a little warm. “Is that why Missouri is here? Mac called her in to make sure you weren’t going to be going all Sybil again?”
“She was here when I got here. I think Mac convinced her to come by telling her he needed help looking after all of us. But I really think he wanted to keep an eye on her until he figured things out-if she was safe or not.”
Dean rubbed a hand over his face. “Makes sense.”
“So you don’t have to worry about me.” Sam hugged his arms across himself. “I’m fine.”
Dean sighed, picking up a very familiar patch-work quilt from the bottom of the couch. He wrapped it around his brother’s shoulder, ignoring the surprised look Sam gave him. “It kind of goes with the job description.”
“Which job is that?”
Dean sat back, satisfied when his brother took hold of the ends of the blanket. “Being the older, wiser, much better-looking brother.”
Sam snorted, sitting up straighter on the couch. He pulled the quilt tighter around his shoulders. “So what’s my job?”
“To keep me on my toes,” Dean replied. “Although you’ve been way too much of an over achiever, Dude.”
“About that…” Sam picked at a loose thread on the quilt. “ You didn’t give me a chance to say I was sorry about what happen…about what I did to you. You wouldn’t even let me talk about it.”
The older Winchester exhaled loudly. “That’s because there’s nothing to be sorry for, Sam. It wasn’t you.”
“It wasn’t me…but it was.” Sam bit his lip, when he felt his throat constrict around the huge lump that was suddenly lodged in his windpipe. “I…I tried to stop her…it, whatever. When I was holding that gun on you…”
“Sammy…” Dean tried to cut him off.
“No. Let me finish.” Sam shook his head. “It was just like the demon said about Dad…I was trapped in my own meat suit. I couldn’t do anything but watch as that thing said those things to you…shot you.” Sam remembered what it was like to watch his possessed father say those things to his brother, but to inflict the pain himself was a hundred times worse. “God, Dean, it would have killed you if Bobby hadn’t have stopped me.”
“Speaking of which,” Dean reached out and grabbed his brother’s right arm. “How’s the burn?”
“Damn it, Dean.” Sam pulled away. “Mac took care of it. I want to talk about you…what I did to you.”
“Not you, damn it!” The older Winchester snapped. “That fucking thing wasn’t you.”
“But it could be.”
“No.” Dean shook his head.
“You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about it. It was like my worst nightmare come true, Dean. Like some kind of preview of what might happen in the future. I couldn’t fight it.” Sam’s voice broke.
“Sammy…” Dean felt his own control slipping. “Just stop.”
“I wasn’t in control.” That was the one thing that haunted Sam. “I was helpless.” It was the feeling that plagued him even in his sleep. The last two nights he’d woken up screaming, unable to pull himself free from the nightmare of once again being in the demon’s grasp. Only in his dreams no one stopped him from killing every one he loved…Mac, Caleb, and then Dean. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t say that!” Dean grabbed his brother again. “This is not your fault.”
“But nothing! Do you remember Dad, Sam? He’s the strongest man I know and that demon made him do things that I never thought would ever be possible. What that bitch did could have happened to anybody.”
The younger man dropped his head. “But it didn’t.” Sam peered up at him, seeming too damn young and too vulnerable.
He ran his hand over his brother’s hair again, letting it come to rest on the back of the younger man’s neck. “I know, little brother.” He squeezed the taunt muscles. “And I’d have done anything to protect you from that.” It was the thing Sam had been afraid of. Turning evil, even if it wasn’t truly him. “I’m sorry.”
“Dean…” Sam choked. “I hurt you, not the other way around. I shot you…for the second time.”
The older Winchester opened his mouth to reiterate what he had been trying to pound in the younger man‘s head since leaving Bobby’s, but thought about something Pastor Jim had once told him. People weren’t always looking for reasons or answers, as much as they were looking for forgiveness. “And I forgive you.”
“What?” Sam pulled back a little, blinking.
Dean took a deep breath, let it out slowly. “I forgive you, Sam. I’d forgive you for anything.”
The younger man frowned. “Why? How can you?”
“Because I know you. You’re my brother, and…” Dean motioned with his hands. “I…you know.”
Sam’s mouth twitched and for a moment he had the absurd notion to start laughing. “You love me?”
“Dude…” Dean groaned. “Did you have to go there?”
“I’m just saying.” Sam grinned. “I shot you. I beat the crap out of you, and I went after Jo…”
Dean held his hand up at that last confession. “Good move by the way. That’s when I knew you were possessed. The real Sammy would have known if he wanted to piss me off he would have went after the girl I love.”
“The Impala.” Sam nodded. “I would have so trashed the Impala.”
“That’s my boy.” Dean shoved him. “Bitch.”
Sam pushed him back. “Jerk.”
“Are we good, now?”
The younger Winchester’s smile faded some then and he looked at his brother. “Yeah, but there’s just one thing I still don’t get, man.”
“Why?” Sam stared at him the way he used to when he would ask his big brother a question like why the sky was blue, why their daddy worked all the time, and why they didn’t have a mommy like the other kids.
It cut Dean to the quick. “Why what?”
“Why did she do this? Why me? Does it have something to do with the yellow-eyed demon or was it just to get revenge on you for exorcising her back to hell? It doesn’t make sense? Why kill that hunter? And did she posses one of the hunters who hurt Caleb? Was that part of her plan, too?”
Dean let his smile fade, remembering the other things he needed to talk about with his brother. How could he tell his brother that it had all been a part of something much more sinister…something they still had yet to unravel.
When he came to the farm, he dreaded the idea of having a heart to heart with Sam. He worried about what he would say to him to make things right. But what he found was the brother stuff was the easy part. The things Sam was asking about weren’t so simple as the idea of forgiveness or unconditional love. “Sam…”
“I mean Caleb could have died, Dean. You almost did die. And I…” He paused. “It’s going to take a while for me to get past this.”
As usual Mackland had been right. Caleb had been right, too. Because more than anything Dean wished he didn’t know just one more thing to worry his kid brother about. He wished he didn’t have just one more secret to carry on his shoulders. He cleared his throat. “I think she has a thing for me.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
“The demon bitch. She wants me. It’s her way of getting my attention. Sort of like pulling a girl’s pig tails when you really want to kiss her in the coat room.”
“What?” The younger Winchester shook his head. “You honestly believe that this demon put together this elaborate plan because she has a thing for you?”
“Yes. Unrequited love is a bitch. You ever heard about the woman scorned, little brother?”
“Do you remember the whole shooting incident and the part where I was beating the shit out of you?”
Dean shrugged. “Hey, we already established she was buckets of crazy. S&M probably comes with the whole hell mouth package.”
“You’re insane.” Sam frowned, continuing to shake his head. “You know that right?”
“What I don’t understand is why she picked you? I mean if she had wanted to really get my attention she should have possessed some hot super model.”
“That’s what confused you?”
“Definitely. That and the freaky-ass Snickers commercial they showed during the Super Bowl.” Dean shivered. “What’s the world coming to?”
Sam sighed. Sometimes his brother was an enigma. “Yeah. That’s a puzzle, man
“Yeah.” His brother nodded. “The rest of it, we’ll figure out as we go along.”
“Sure we will.” Sam agreed. “It’s not like we have a lot of social engagements to keep us busy.”
“We can toss around theories between magic finger massages.” If Dean had his way they would stay as far away from the topic as possible. There was a reason Mackland was the Scholar. He would let the only remaining member of the Triad earn his keep. His complete attention was going to be on keeping the future Scholar safe and sane.