“The Line” by Ridley C. James

Do you really think that it is weakness that yields to temptations? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to. -Oscar Wilde

Chapter 1.

“You’re crazy, Duran,” John Winchester shook his head at the man’s unreasonable request. "You brought me here for this nonsense. I thought lives were in danger.”

“Lives are always in danger, John.”

“And that makes you happy?”

The medium smiled, his dark eyes giving no sign of humor or teasing. “If people didn’t die, I’d dare say that I’d be out of business. So would you for that matter.”

“I deal in putting the dead to rest, not resurrecting them. And I sure as hell don‘t profit from someone else's misery. ”

“I’m not asking you to resurrect anyone, Saint John. Just assist in finding what I need to do the job. I know you have contacts.”

“I don’t mess with black magic, and neither do the people that I associate with.”

“There’s a first time for everything, my friend.” Duran motioned towards the large living room of the pent house suite. The two of them had moved their conversation to the master bed room for privacy. “Surely you can understand a man’s desire to have his son back.”

“The man’s son is dead, Duran!” John tried to keep his voice low, but its volume was growing, right along with his frustration. “You giving him a reanimated corpse is not going to bring his child back.”

“I’m not dealing in necromancy here, John. It’s more like body sharing. And his quest is not so different from your own. He‘s trying to wrong an injustice done to his family. To seek revenge and gain redemption.”

John raked both hands through his dark hair, mostly to keep them from around Duran‘s throat. “Caleb was right. I was an idiot for coming here.”

“Speaking of Caleb,” Duran’s gleam turned feral. “I think he could be useful in this little hunt. Don’t you? All that muscle should come in handy in the second phase. ”

Winchester‘s dark eyes hardened, a warning flashing dangerously. “He’s already on a hunt.”

“Right,” Duran nodded. “With Dean.”

There was no need for John to mention that the two of them would be back later that day. No one in his family was going to be helping Hughes with this gig. “And even if he wasn’t, he doesn’t think too highly of you. I think the words bastard and crazy son of a bitch were tossed around quite a bit. I doubt if he’d be willing to jump into bed with you on this little disaster in the making.”

“I can’t say that I haven’t tried to persuade Caleb to ‘jump into bed with me’ on occasion,” Duran smiled again, his lewd insinuation causing the hairs on the back of John's neck to stand at attention, making him more sure than ever that he‘d made a grave mistake by attempting to hear Duran out. “But you’re right, he doesn’t appreciate my type or my talents, I’m afraid.”

“You and that witch of yours should give this man his money back and cut your losses before someone gets hurt.” John started out of the room, having heard all he was willing to. For some reason he had a sudden urge for a hot, scalding shower. The hunter quickly made his way back to where he’d left Sam with Mr. Kline and Syria.

“Sam, we’re leaving.”

The sixteen-year-old sat the glass he was drinking from down on the small silver tray on a table near Syria and stood. “Dad?”

“There’s nothing we can do here.” John looked at the white-haired man who had also stood at his announcement. “I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Kline. But I can’t be a part of this.”

“But Mr. Hughes spoke highly of you. He said you have a reputation for being one of the best in your field.”

John sighed. “Mr. Kline, do you even know what my ’field’ is?”

“Hunting.” Kline answered, looking as if he’d just been forced to swallow a very bitter pill. “I believe you call it hunting.”

“That’s right. I hunt things that hurt people.”

“This item that we are searching for will not be used to cause harm.”

John shook his head sadly. “I also destroy things that don’t belong in this world-that weren‘t meant to walk among the living. Do you understand that your son no longer belongs in this world?”

“Do you understand how much money I’m willing to pay to have you help Duran with this, Mr. Winchester?”

John looked at Syria, who carefully twirled a long strand of dark hair around her finger, and licked her lips like a cat that had just swallowed a very precious canary. She was enjoying the display much like a feline enjoys toying with his next meal. “I’m sorry, but Mr. Hughes, I’m not willing to cross certain lines for money.”

“I see,” Kline straightened his Armani suit coat and his face hardened in a way that let John know the man wasn’t use to not getting his way. “Then it is I who am sorry…for wasting your time.”

John nodded. “Let’s go, Sammy.”

“Bye, Sam,” Syria purred, and the teen’s face reddened slightly.

“See ya,” He lifted a hand to her and grinned, thinking of how pissed his brother was going to be that he’d missed a chance to once again try and woo Duran’s partner.

Duran entered the room as John opened the door that led to the elevator. The hunter motioned his youngest son through, and started through himself. Hughes' melodic voice stopped him. “If you change your mind, John, you know how to reach me.”

John glanced at the man. “I won’t be changing my mind.” He then turned to Kline. “But I really suggest that you do, Mr. Kline. I can understand your pain, but you have no idea what you’re asking for. The heartache you’re feeling now won’t even begin to compare.”

“Apparently, you’ve never lost a child, sir,” Kline said in a clipped tone, turning his back on the hunter, to stare out the huge glass windows affording a spectacular view of the city below.

“No, I haven’t.” John sighed wearily, looked at Duran once more. “I’ll be telling Jim about this.”

The younger man laughed. “You do that, John. I’m sure the cleric will have some sermon for me. He usually does. He might even try to take my membership card away like last time.”

Syria slinked her way from the plush chair she had been curled in and wrapped herself around
Duran’s arm. “Was that when he disapproved of me, Love?”

“Yes, I believe it was.”

John shook his head. “Maybe you should take a lesson from Caleb, Duran. Get a little pickier about who you crawl into the sack with.” With that he was gone.

“I’m going to enjoy watching him suffer,” Syria whispered, once the door was closed between them.

Duran patted her hand. “Remember, my pet, this is business, not pleasure.”

“So what now, Hughes?” Kline poured himself a scotch from the well-stocked mini-bar. “You said Winchester was the best. I expect the best. I‘m paying enough for it.”

“And you shall have him,” Duran replied. He tapped his forehead. “I’ve seen as much.”

“And I don’t have to be privy to your psychic crap to see the kind of man John Winchester is. He doesn’t have a price, Hughes.”

“Everyone has a price. Why just look what you’re willing to pay me to have your son back at your side.”

“That’s different.” Kline took a long drink of the amber liquid, steeling himself. “A son is not measurable in riches.”

“Exactly.” Hughes looked at Syria and grinned, before turning to Kline once more. “Did you know that John Winchester has two sons?”

“I met the one boy.” Kline frowned. “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”

"Only everything." Duran made his way around the huge leather couch and sat in the chair that Sam had vacated. “Did you also know that my dear Syria has ancestors in Haiti? Her great, great grandmother was a powerful Priestess there.”


Duran picked up the glass that Sam had been drinking from. “Syria has inherited many of her dear departed grandmother’s talents. Not only her breathtaking beauty, but her ability to create amazing potions and spells.”

“And that’s going to help me, how?” Kline moved closer, glancing from the smiling Syria to Duran.

“It’s going to give John Winchester empathy to your cause. Sometimes a man needs to walk in another’s shoes before he can understand the depth of the other’s suffering.”

The lines etched into the successful entrepreneur’s forehead deepened. “She did something to that boy?”

“Nothing that we can’t cure.” Duran swirled what was left of the tea. “For the right price.”

“I didn’t intend for anyone to be hurt, especially a child, Hughes.”

“Come now, Mr. Kline. Don’t grow an ethical code on me now. Do you want your son back or not?”

The man hesitated, running his free hand through his thinning gray hair. “I want Scott back.”

“Then a little blood on your hands shouldn’t bother you. As long as you‘ve been in the business world- as rich as you are- I suspect it won‘t be the first.”

“I don’t want the boy to die.” Kline spoke softly.

Duran shrugged. “That’s not up to you. It rests entirely on the head of the high and mighty John Winchester. And trust me…” Hughes rolled his eyes in disgust, “He‘ll do the right thing.”

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Onto Chapter 2