Who Your Friends Are

By Ridley

O Devine art of subtlety and secrecy. Through you we learn to be invisible , through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.”

-Sun Tzu

Cosby, Tennessee

“That's mine.” Caleb snatched the burger Sam was about to eat. “I had ketchup only.”

He tossed him the other burger. “This one has rabbit food on it.”

The younger Winchester rolled his eyes and took the other wrapped sandwich. “It's called lettuce. And what is with you and the ketchup fixation?”

Reaves took a huge bite of the burger and frowned. “It's a preference.” They had been sitting in the car for over an hour and Caleb was more bored than hungry. “Not a fixation.”

“The hell it's not.” Sam snorted, going back to his work on the computer. “You eat it on everything.”

“Do I make fun of your weird need to arrange everything on your plate by food groups, OCD?”

“At least I have more than one food group,” Sam mumbled, taking another bite of his own meal.

Caleb shot him a look out of the corner of his eye and leaned back in the driver's seat of the Impala. He was really tired of the tight quarters and being cooped up with Mr. Nitpicky. “Why did we agree to let Dean do the leg work on this one?”

“Because you can't shoot pool with a broken arm.” Sam didn't look up from the screen this time. “And you're not suppose to drink any alcohol with your meds.”

“I can go in a bar without drinking or hustling.” Caleb huffed, finishing off the last of his burger and wadding up the paper, which he tossed in the backseat. He never actually needed to hustle. John had taught him the art right along with Dean. Caleb liked the challenge, and learning had been a challenge. It had come naturally for Dean. Caleb actually studied pool players. He wanted to impress John and win a game against the man, which never happened.

The younger hunter raised a brow. “We don't have time for you to hook up with a woman either.”

“So that's why I'm banished to little brother sitting.” The older hunter rolled his eyes. “That sucks. All these years of hunting and I'm still a glorified nanny.”

Sam flashed him a lopsided grin. “Actually, I'm big brother sitting. Dean paid me forty dollars to keep you occupied and out of trouble.” It was a nice change of pace not to be the only one on the receiving end of Dean Winchester's pit bull routine. And the look on Caleb's face more than made up for the payment his brother was bound to renege.

“What the fuck?” Reaves groused. “I'm the one in charge here. Mac sent me to watch your backs. Not the other way around.”

Winchester shrugged. “Whatever you want to think, man.”

“Are you saying Mac had an ulterior motive for sending me on this road trip from hell? That he wanted you two to keep an eye on me?”

Sam kept typing. “Of course not.”

Caleb let his head fall back on the seat. “Well, damn. You could have at least sprung for a better meal since Deuce was being liberal with the daycare money.”

“I asked for fifty.” Sam shook his head. “You're lucky I fed you at all.”

“Great.” Reaves glanced back to the bar across the street. The Fort Marx was apparently known country-wide and booming with customers. He would have given his good hand to be inside where Dean was working his magic to turn up more information on their current hunt. “I'll remember that the next time I pull a coffee run. No more venti caramel lattes. From now on, it's gas station brew with powdered cream for you.”

Sam sighed, staring at the back of the other man's head. He had easily picked up on the spike of psychic energy. “You're not supposed to use your abilities either. Dean will kick your ass if your nose starts bleeding again and you get blood on the seats.”

Caleb turned to glare at him. “You're really starting to push your luck, Runt.”

“And don't you think I've outgrown that nickname?” Winchester turned, resting against the passenger side door. “Seriously. I'm taller than both you and Dean. And I could kick your ass right now if I wanted to.”

“Did you start wearing heels, Samantha?” Reaves laughed. “Because last time I checked, you barely had half an inch on me. And you better have slipped some of those pain killers into my burger if you really think you have half a chance of taking me down-one-armed or not.”

Sam grinned. “Whatever you want to think, man, but your math is off. I'm 6'5" and your 6'3", that's two inches. No wonder you had to stick with architecture instead of focusing on engineering.” He went back to look through the research he had downloaded earlier.

“That's really starting to get on my nerves, kid.” Caleb growled, referring to Sam's sudden laid back persona. “It's almost as annoying as when you went through that stage where you mocked everything we did and said. I know Mac wanted you to start the whole meditation thing for your abilities, but give it a rest.” Sam liked to reflect that Caleb and Dean reverted in years when they were together, but Reaves found it pretty damn ironic that the twenty-three-year old liked to act like his former adolescent self.

“I'm just agreeing with you.”

“In an obnoxious 'know it all Sam' way that's more about being patronizing than accommodating.”

“Would you rather I argue with you?”

“How about you just not say anything at all?”


“You're doing that on purpose.”

“Doing what?” Sam asked, innocently. “I'm just doing what you asked.”

Reaves's frown grew and he used his middle finger to gesture first to the younger hunter and then to the lap top. “And that would be coming up with all the information you can on elementals.”

Sam frowned, thoughtfully. “I've actually gotten some interesting stuff.”

“Then do tell, because if things get any 'less' interesting in here there's a good chance I'll be slipping back into that coma. Then Dean will kick your ass for falling down on the job.”

“Well, we already knew about the four types and that they each seem to have a powerful leader called a King, or so the legend goes.”

“Right.” Caleb crossed his arms over his chest, closing his eyes. “Ghob is king of the gnomes which are earth elementals, then there is Nischsa king of the undines or the water keepers. Then let's not forget the most powerful and my personal favorite Djinn, the king of the salamanders.”

“Fire keepers.” Sam glanced at the other psychic. “That's appropriate for us.”

Reaves cracked one eye open. “Yeah. I guess it is.”

Sam took a deep breath and pushed the negative thoughts out of his mind. “So, what we're dealing with in the latest death would appear to be Paralda or an underling sylph, seeing as how the guy supposedly died in a freak storm and they control the air.”

“Death by unnatural tornado.” Reaves shook his head. “Not the way I want to go.”

“Every bone in his body was crushed. Like he was lifted into the air and then slung back towards the ground.” Sam flipped through some of Dean's handwritten notes he had gotten from the county medical examiner.

“Or he jumped out of a plane passing over head and left his most important piece of luggage behind.” Reaves frowned. “But out of all the elementals, sylphs are supposed to be enamored by humans.”

“Elementals also operate on a psychic level. We should be able to sense them.” Sam grimaced at some of the black and white photos his brother had snatched from the coroner. “Massive blunt trauma is not pretty.”

Caleb shifted in the seat, trying to find a position that didn't put pressure on his ribs or side. “We can't look over the fact that elementals can blend with each other.” The older psychic spared another glance towards the bar in question. “Especially since the other guy died of a freak rock slide. That could have been gnomes work. Then there is the whole thing that elementals can be summoned and controlled by other higher beings.”

“Like the shadow demons that Meg liked to keep as pets.”

Caleb sighed. “Yeah. That's exactly what I was thinking, too. In fact, Devas are a type of elemental.”

Sam exhaled loudly. “This could have ritual magic written all over it.”

“And who better than demons to have their hands all over the dark side of the art.”

Sam closed the computer. “We could call Joshua. He might have an idea about what to look for.”

“It's a thought, but let's wait and see what Deuce turns up from the locals.”

“There's a good chance someone will know the two victims. This isn't exactly a bustling metropolis, even though the tourist industry seems to be up tonight.”

Reaves nodded. “And despite his pissy attitude these days, your brother can turn on the charm when needed.”

Sam stared at the other psychic for a moment, knowing he wasn't the only one having a hard time adjusting to Dean's new demeanor. “He's just worried-stressed about what's coming.”

Caleb continued to watch the door of the bar for a moment before flashing Sam a half-assed grin. “Maybe you should teach him some of that yoga you've been doing, Runt.”

“It's Tai Chi and you use it too. I read it in your journal.”

Reaves laughed. “But I look cool when I do it. You look like Mr. Miagi after his morning prune juice smoothie.”


“I thought so.”

Sam didn't get a chance for a rebuttal as Dean's exit from the bar drew both the hunters' attention. “Thank God.” Caleb breathed. “Maybe we can either get a hotel room or get the hell out of this place.”

Dean opened the driver's side door of the car and motioned Reaves out of his seat. “Did you boys miss me?”

“You can pay me the forty bucks, Deuce. Mrs. Doubtfire Sammy is not.” Caleb informed him as he carefully extricated himself from the car, opening the back door to move into the backseat. “I nearly died of boredom.”

“Did you find out anything?” Sam got straight to the point, ignoring the accusing look his brother shot him.

Dean slid behind the wheel, like a cowboy mounting up. “Oh yeah.” He flicked his gaze to the rearview mirror. “Damien, you should have seen the redhead…”

“Dean!” Sam cut the older Winchester off. “I was talking about the two victims.”

Dean smirked at his brother and continued, “The redhead who manages the chalet rental where the second victim was staying.”

“Did she notice anything unusual about the guy?”

“You mean besides finding him in a pulverized mess on the front lawn?”

Caleb sighed. “Yes, besides that, Inspector Obvious.”

“You should appreciate this, Sammy. Our bug on the windshield boy was no one other than Francis Sedwick.”

“Who?” Caleb asked.

The younger Winchester wracked his brain for a reason as to why the guy should be familiar.

Dean grinned. “Frankie boy is a hotshot lawyer.”


“He just happens to be a liaison for the same company that victim number one also worked for.”

“Did we establish a place of employment for the first guy?”

“No, but Maggie knew where he worked.” Dean drew the woman's name out in an imitated Southern twang. “Seems the poor guy tried to impress her the week before by bragging about his prowess as an engineer.”

“He should have gone the architecture way. Chicks dig the artist thing.”

“Would you focus?” Sam shook his head at Reaves and his brother.

Caleb looked at him. “If you start that breathing thing again, I swear to God, Sammy…”

“You two aren't letting me finish my story.”

“Could it wait until we get a hotel room, man. I'm sick of this car.”

“Well, that's part of the story. Maggie is letting us stay at one of her places.”

“A nice, secluded mountain chalet.” Reaves sighed. “Now you're talking, Deuce. I knew I taught you well.”

“It's not really secluded and it's not exactly a chalet.”

“Then where the hell is it?” Caleb asked.

Sam frowned. “And more importantly, what is it?”

Dean started the car. “It's at Camper's Paradise.”

“Do not say it, man. I'm not staying in a tent. I could barely walk after sleeping in the Impala last night.”

The oldest Winchester shot his friend an annoyed look through the rearview mirror. “It's not a tent, Reaves. It's an RV.”

“Lovely. I'm sure it's a piece of heaven. No offense to your new lady friend, I think I'll just stay at that nice little place we saw back on the main road.”

“The Bear Cub.” Sam stated with a nod of solidarity. “The one with the big carved bears in front. I'm with you.”

“No Vacancy,” Dean announced, as he pulled onto the road. “Just like every other joint from here to Arkansas.”

Caleb leaned forward, resting his elbows on the front seat. “How the hell do you know that?”

“Because Maggie told me, and if you two idiots were half the NASCAR fan she is, you'd be in the know, too.”

“Come again.”

“Racing. The sport of the South.” Sam took it upon himself to explain.

“I know what NASCAR is, Sam. What I want to know is what it has to do with why we won't be sleeping in a hotel tonight?”

“Bristol Race.” Dean shrugged. “Apparently it's bigger than the Super Bowl.”

Sam glanced to Reaves. “That explains all the tourists in the off season.”

“An RV?” Caleb complained. “Really?”

“Yeah, but it has satellite.” Dean offered. “And, believe it or not, free Wifi.”

Reaves relaxed back in the seat. “Yeah, but does it have a place for Sammy to do yoga?”

“It's not yoga!”

Onto Part 2