In The Company of Dragons

By: Ridley C. James

Beta: Tidia

Rating: T-for language and violence

Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me. All those lovely men are property of Kripke Enterprise and The CW.


Chapter 1/7

“Come not between the dragon and his wrath.” -William Shakespeare, King Lear

“Holy Fuck!” John Winchester ran a hand through his dark, tousled hair and then buried his face in his hands.

Jim Murphy sat at his side, both of them seated at the large mahogany conference table in the plush office suite. “I usually frown on such language, but in this case, I tend to share your sentiment, old friend.” The pastor picked up one of the glossy black and white pictures spread out before them. “Not really your best side, I’m afraid.”

John let his hands slide down so he could look at the frame to which Jim was referring. It was him, holding a .45, after having just used said .45 to put a bullet in a man’s heart. A shape shifter. But still, in print, it looked like just another human being lying crumpled at his feet. John appeared to be the monster.

“Damn, Jim,” Winchester picked up another picture. This one showed him and his twelve-year-old son, Dean, digging up a grave in the middle of a cemetery, in the dead of night. “How long has he been having us tailed?”

“And how didn’t you realize it?” Jim shook his head. John Winchester was one of the best hunters he’d ever had the honor to know. The man had senses like a wolf, the reflexes of a cat. How someone had gotten that close to him and his family without his knowledge was more than a little scary and disturbing on several levels. The fact that copies of medical records, hotel receipts, and a paper trail a mile long accompanied the candid photos spoke well to the thoroughness that had went into the investigation into John’s life.

“I never expected…”John hesitated, his throat tightening.

“You were expecting Supernatural trouble,” Jim said with an understanding sigh. “Not the human kind.”

“Damn him!” John pounded his fist onto the table, frustration and anger threatening to overtake his forced calm. “What the hell does he want?”

“I’m guessing we are about to find out,” Jim tilted his head towards the glass walls surrounding them. Several men were coming their way and he and John stood as the door to the office suddenly swung open and a striking, grey-haired gentleman entered the room, flanked by two hulks in dark suits.

“I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long.”

“What the hell is this, Cooper?”

The older man stepped forward, gesturing to the contents on the table. “I think I should be asking you that, Winchester.”

“This,” John glanced at the photos of his life, “is none of your damn business.”

“I beg to differ.”

“What are you doing here, now? I haven’t heard from you in over seven years.”

“I’ve come to claim what is rightfully mine.”

Jim laid a restraining hand on his friend’s shoulder, as he felt more than saw the other hunter tense. “Why don’t you just tell us what you believe it is that John has of yours, Mr. Cooper.”

“James Phineaus Murphy,” the man smiled. “Unusual for a priest to associate with murderers. But then again, your hands aren’t exactly clean either, are they? From what I understand you are the leader of this…cult.”

“Cult?” The pastor’s voice hardened. “We are no such thing, sir.”

“Leave him out of this,” John growled at Cooper. “This is between you and me.”

“Oh, I don’t see it that way. See, I have a collection of these.” Again the man nodded to the scattered files. “You may not claim to be a cult, but you do have an odd variety of members in your club. I have a similar dossier on Father Murphy, or is it ‘Pastor Jim’? I can’t quite keep all the aliases straight.”

“Then there is a young Joshua Sams. A Boone Jackson. And a Miss Missouri Mosley. But my absolute favorite is Doctor Mackland Ames-renowned surgeon and researcher. I must say I was more than shocked." Conner shook his head, sadly. "After all, I know his father. We’ve done business in the same circles.”

Cooper picked up another folder, his smile not reaching his eyes. “Then there is that mongrel pup, that I understand Mackland shamelessly pulled out of one of his own psych wards. You’re somewhat of a mentor to him, are you not? I believe he’s in some of these photos with you.” Cooper picked up a black and white, tossed it in front of John. “Caleb Reaves-heir to the Ames fortune. His grandfather bragged to me how the boy was top in his class in some fancy architectural engineering program. Am I to believe you’re providing field study in these photos? Because the last I heard you were a grease mechanic.” The businessman clucked. “It would be a shame for the world to find out just what all these nice friends of yours have been up to.”

“What do you want?” John demanded, dread filling him from a dark place deep within.

“What all great and powerful men want, John.” Cooper eyes glistening like sharply cut jade. “I want a legacy. Something to leave behind when I go to the great beyond. As I’m sure Mr. Murphy will tell you, we can’t take it with us, after all. I want someone to carry on the Cooper name after I‘m gone.”

“Maybe Mac could find you another mongrel pup in one of his psych wards.”

Cooper laughed. “ Oh, John, I’m not as gullible or as stupid as Cullen Ames. I want someone from my own bloodline.”

“Your only child is dead, Charles. You didn’t even come to her funeral.”

The businessman’s face hardened. “My daughter made poor choices. The worst of which was marrying you. I let our hard feelings carry on too long. But that’s in the past. I can do nothing to fix it now, but I can move forward.”

“Your daughter was the finest person I knew, and you disowned her-broke her heart.” John had to fight the urge to reach across the table and wipe the condescending look off of Cooper’s face. “Your only chance of a family is dead-died with her.”

“I don’t think so.” Charles picked up another photo. It appeared to be taken in a park, two young boys on a bench. John’s boys. “My grandsons are still very much alive, despite the parenting skills you so obviously lack. I must say that the oldest one favors his mother, but I hear from reputable sources that he has your manner and temper. That‘s a shame.”

“I’ll ask you one more time, Charles. What the hell is your game? What do you want from all of this?”

Cooper dropped the picture back on the table. “It’s simple really. I’m going to be amicable. I have enough damning evidence here and the contacts to put you away for good, destroy your friend’s lives, take everything that you have.” He glanced up at John and smiled. “But in honor of Mary, and the way she felt about you, I’ll only take half.”

“Half?” John’s brow furrowed, his fist clenched. “What the hell are you talking about taking?”

“Not what, John.” Charles Cooper leaned on the table, giving Winchester the same look he’d used to win countless negotiations in the cutthroat arena of business. “Who. I want my grandson. Mary’s son. I want Samuel.”


“What’cha doing?” Sam Winchester leaned over the papers scattered on Pastor Jim’s kitchen table and looked up at the older man studying them.

“Working,” came the clipped reply.

“On what? Homework?”

Caleb Reaves snorted, and glanced at the seven-year-old, who was holding a jelly sandwich precariously over the psychic's hard-earned research. “I don’t do homework, Sammy.” The hunter pushed the little boy’s hand away. “And if you don’t mind could you take that gooey mess somewhere else?”

“Dean says I have to eat at the table,” Sam resumed his position.

“Then how about the other side of the table?”

“Scout’s eating there.”

Sure enough the over-grown Lab puppy was sitting in the chair opposite of the hunter, front paws precariously placed on top of the table, lapping up what was left of Sam’s Alphabet soup. “God, Sam!” Caleb raked a hand through his hair, “Put that mutt on the floor.” He hadn’t even noticed the animal, which was a usual fixture at Sam’s side these days. “It’s liable to spread rabies or something.”

“You’re not suppose to take the Lord’s name in vain.” Sam explained, as a big blob of grape jelly escaped his hand and landed in the middle of one of Reaves’ plans. “And Scout’s not a mutt. She’s a Black Labrador Retriever . Finest hunting dogs ever!”

The twenty-year-old sighed, and raked a hand through his dark hair. “Where’s your brother?”

“Outside finishing up the list of things Daddy told him to do while he and Pastor Jim were gone.”

“Why don’t you go find him?”

“He told me to stay inside, ‘cause of my cold.” As if to offer an example, the boy sniffled and wiped the back of his free-hand across his nose. “Daddy said I can’t go out when it's raining until I’m better.”

“Peachy.” Caleb rubbed at his eyes, wondering how in the hell he’d gotten relegated to babysitter. He was tired and building up to one hell of a headache. But he was determined to figure out the next move in the current gig he and John were working on, if only he could get some peace and quiet. “Then why don’t you and Scout go watch T.V., or draw, or work on the model bridge we started last night…or whatever it is you do when you’re here?”

“Do you want to work on the bridge with me?”

The hunter sighed again, heavier this time. “Later. Why don‘t you and your four-pawed pal go do Lassie and Timmy stuff.”

“We could take a bath?” Sam offered and Caleb shrugged, not even noticing the hopeful gleam lurking behind the green and brown flecked eyes.

“Whatever rocks your world, brat. Just stay out of my hair until Deuce comes back in.”

The kid stuffed the rest of his sandwich in his mouth and shot off like a rocket, whistling for Scout who bounded from the table, after lapping the last A and O out of the bowl.

“Huh.” Reaves watched him go, surprised that the nagging didn’t persist as it usually did. “Who said babysitting was hard?”

“Where’s Sammy?” Twelve-year-old Dean Winchester entered Jim’s kitchen thirty minutes later, with a bang of the screen door, a soaking Atticus Finch close on his heels. It was pouring rain and he’d finished mucking out the horse stalls in time to bed the animals down for the night.

Caleb glanced up from his work with a frown, frustrated that he’d managed a mere half an hour of uninterrupted, Winchester and canine free, research. The Golden Retriever trotted over to his side, shook itself, pelting the older hunter with cold wet drops of rain water. “Jesus! Jim’s going to kill you for letting that wet mutt in here.”

“He lets you come in out of the weather, doesn’t he?”

“Cute,” Reaves smirked, trying to return to his work.

Dean stepped to the table where his brother’s empty, abandoned soup bowl still sat. He tossed his wet jacket over the chair. “Is he in our room?”

“How should I know?” Reaves wiped the water marks from his papers, with a huff. “Follow the trail of jelly and destruction and you should find him and his furry partner in crime.”

“You were suppose to be watching him.” The boy’s voice was accusatory and it grated on the tired hunter’s nerves. He hadn’t slept a whole night through in weeks, not since the latest nightmares began, and spending the last seven days holed up with the Winchesters hadn’t helped matters in the least.

“That’s your job, Deuce. Not mine. I‘m not a baby-sitter.”

“It’s Dean. And you said you’d keep an eye on him while I was finishing up with the horses.”

“I think I mumbled my acknowledgement that you were leaving the runt in my same vicinity. That’s not the same thing.”

“Dickhead,” Dean muttered, starting out of the kitchen and into the hallway only to have Caleb call him back.

“He said something about a bath, ass wipe.”

The teen stopped and gave the other man an incredulous glare that had nothing to do with the insult. “You let him take a bath? By himself?”

Reaves shrugged, shot the kid his most irksome smirk. “What was I suppose to do? Go in and guard his rubber duckey?”

“You’re an idiot. You know that right?. How many seven-year-old boys do you know that volunteer to take a bath? In the summer?”

Reaves only frowned at him. The twenty-year-old didn’t know any other kids, and the only other seven-year-old that he’d dealt with besides Sam had been the sullen pre-teen now glaring at him. “Like Sammy’s normal,” he shrugged and went back to studying his notes.

Dean didn’t waste his breath on a reply, but instead turned and made his way to Jim’s bathroom. He’d deal with Caleb Reaves, hot shot hunter extraordinaire, later. He was patient, and had a whole bag of tricks up his sleeve that would be perfect to piss off the older man.

Sam didn’t like baths. Everyone with half a brain knew that. And he sure didn’t ask to take one when he wasn’t in school, in the middle of the day. All in all, it spelled trouble. Unfortunately, trouble for Sam, spelled double trouble for Dean.

The blond’s suspicions were confirmed when he reached his destination and found the door shut and locked. He could hear water running, and groaned to himself as he looked down and noticed a small puddle of water escaping from beneath the door. “Sam!” He shouted, banging on the solid oak wood separating him from his kid brother. “Open this door. Now!”

Atticus whined, shifting from paw to paw as if he too knew his own young charge was up to no good.

Dean was about to shout again, when the door was flung open and he was greeted with a sight he would later love recanting to his brother’s mortification every chance that he got.

Sam was dressed only in his swim trunks and was sporting his swim goggles and snorkel that he used when diving for pennies in the pool. His wet hair stuck up in odd angles everywhere and he had a sponge in one hand and a plastic sail boat in the other.

The teen sighed, looked over his brother’s shoulder and noticed that the huge claw-footed antique tub that sat on the far side of the room was barely visible from the mass of bubbles filling it and seeping over it’s sides to the wooden floor. “Sammy,” he groaned. “What are you doing”?

“Scout and I are taking a bubble bath,” the boy said as if it were a common place occurrence. “It’s raining outside and we were bored.”

About that time there was a bark and splashing erupted from the tub as Scout attempted to pull her small, soaking body from the water. Atticus barked and the little Black Labrador puppy yipped playfully as it flopped to the floor like a large, hairy fish. Sam giggled. “She keeps doing that.”

Dean rolled his eyes. That explained the standing water in the floor. “Sam-you know you’re not suppose to take a bath without telling me.” A thousand worse case scenarios ran through the older Winchester’s head, the least of which was Jim’s bathroom ending up in total shambles. “You’re not old enough.”

Sam frowned as Scout shook herself and danced at the younger boy’s feet. “I’m seven!” He said, indignantly. “I’ll be in second grade!” He jabbed the sponge at his brother. “And Caleb said I could.”

“You just turned seven last month, and Reaves is an idiot. He’s not your boss.”

“Neither are you!” Sam pointed out in a huff.

“I am when Dad’s gone.” The blond reached out for his brother, but Sam slipped from his grasp like a wet glass.

“I’m not done yet.” Sam danced away, sliding on the wet floor, nearly falling before he made it back to the tub and practically did a cannon ball into the water. A wave lapped over the top, splashing more to the floor.

The twelve-year-old grimaced, almost fell as Scout scampered around his legs, barking in glee. She stood on her hind paws, forepaws on the tub’s lip, waiting for her boy to re-surface from the bubbling depths, which he did with more splashing and a fountain of water spewing from his mouth. “Look, Dean, I’m a dolphin.”

The older boy was sure if anyone as young as himself could have high blood pressure, then he was sure to fall victim to it. Because at that moment, he felt as if his head were about to explode and he was also sure that if the vanity mirror wasn’t fogged with rivulets of condensation then it would have reflected his freakishly red face back to him. “You’re something all right,” the adolescent growled, clenching his fists.

He made his way to the tub and again reached for his brother who disappeared under the water. “SAM!” He shouted, turning to shut the water off before anymore of the liquid could escape to the floor. “Get out of the tub. Now!”

The seven-year-old sat up, sputtering, and glared at his brother. “Don’t have to be hateful!”

Dean took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. “Just get out of the tub, Sammy.”

“But I’m not done.”

The teen wasn’t sure which was worse, the bratty tone or the whining one, but neither was doing much for Sam’s chances to make it out of this mess unscathed. “I’ll give you to the count of three.”

“One…” Dean stood straighter, crossed his arms over his chest, and glared.

Sam took the boat and whirled it around the tub a few times.

“Two…” Dean drawled.

His brother didn’t look at him as he slowly drew the sponge up one arm and then down the other.

“Three!” Dean growled and Sam stood up quickly, throwing his hands out in front of him.

“I’m getting out!” he shouted. “I’m getting out.”

The blond smirked, triumphantly. “Good. I’ll go get the mop so that you can clean this mess up.”

He turned to go, started for the door, when something large, spongy and wet slapped him upside the back of the head, before falling to the floor with a splat. The twelve-year-old closed his eyes and counted to ten in Latin, so that it would take longer.

Dean could feel water dripping from his short hair down into his already damp shirt. When he finally regained enough composure he picked up the sponge, turned around and found three sets of liquid brown eyes watching him. Scout and Atticus now sat near the tub, conveniently in between he and Sam, who was now blinking innocently at his older brother “Sorry,” the little boy shrugged. “It slipped.”

“Slipped?” Dean shook his head, crossing back to his brother in two large steps. Atticus‘ tail thumped against the floor. “Just shot right out of your little fingers, huh?”

Sam nodded, a huge grin plastered on his face, dimples on full effect.

Dean looked from the sponge and then to his kid brother and did the only thing he could in the situation. He grabbed Sam by one arm and one leg, effectively lifting him off of his feet, before dunking him in the water.

The seven-year-old screamed, which elicited barking from both Atticus and Scout who danced around Dean’s feet now, wanting to be included in this new human game.

He laughed and pulled his brother back out of the water, only to submerge him again, once he was sure the kid had taken a mouth full of air. “Look, you just slipped right out of my hands.” The twelve -year-old said, dipping his brother under the bubbles again, trying to avoid his flailing free arm and leg that was splashing more water onto Dean, the dogs, and the floor. “Too bad you’re so slippery.”

“Stop,” Sam gasped, but he was laughing, and Dean splashed his brother under again.

“Say the magic words.”

“Dean Mathew Winchester! What the hell is going on?”

Those weren’t exactly the words that Dean had been fishing for, but his father’s angry voice did the trick just fine, and he let go of his brother immediately.

“Hey, Dad.” Dean backed away from the tub and a sputtering Sam, nearly tripping over Scout, who was tugging at the cuffs of his jeans. “I was just giving Sammy a bath.”

“Oh my,” Jim said as he entered the small room to see what all the commotion was about. “I see you’ve included Scout and Atticus in all the fun.” He put his hands on his hips. “Well those dogs did need a good scrubbing.”

“God damn it, Dean! You know better than this.”

“John,” Jim said softly, trying to derail the locomotive before it could gather much steam. “Why don’t you…”

“I can’t leave you boys alone for a few hours without you screwing something up!”

Dean glanced over his shoulder at Sam, who’d grown quiet and then back to his father who was looking angrier than he’d seen him in a very long time. “Dad…it’s just some water. I’ll clean it up…”

“Damn straight you will, Dean!” Even as he said it, John knew it wasn’t his son he was truly angry with, but he‘d been denied the much-desired confrontation with Charles. “Then you’ll clean the kitchen, and the hallway, and then the barn.”

“But I already…”

“Don’t back talk me!” John snapped, taking a step forward raising his hand before he even registered the move.

Dean instinctively flinched and stepped in front of his brother, as Jim caught the other hunter’s arm. “John,” he said with warning. “Stop this!”

The hunter turned and glared at the priest, but some of the anger seemed to fade from his face and his threatening posture deflated. Raking both hands through his hair, he took a heaving breath before he faced his boys again. “Get your brother out of there and dry him off. Then both of you clean up this damn room.”

Dean nodded, just as Caleb came stopped in the doorway. “Whoa. What happened in here?”

“Maybe I should be asking you that!” John snapped, his dark gaze landing on the younger man, like a heat-seeking missile zeroing in on its next target. “Where the hell were you?”

“Sitting on his ass,” Dean muttered, only to receive a glare not only from the young psychic, but Jim as well.

“ I was researching the damn hunt like you so sweetly suggested I do before you hightailed your ass out of here, Winchester. I’m not your fucking nanny!”

“Caleb!” Jim snapped, and the hunter rolled his eyes. “Like they’ve not heard that word before living with him.” He pointed accusingly at John.

“It’s not to be used in my home.”

“You better redeliver that particular sermon to Aqua man over there again.” He pointed to Dean. “Because he uses it quite frequently.”

“Shut-up!” the blond snarled.

“You shut-up,” Reaves shot back, sounding much closer to twelve than he did twenty.

“All of you shut-up!” Jim’s sharp voice had all eyes on him. “Enough of this shouting and bickering.” Atticus whined and laid down, glancing guiltily up at his master, as Scout popped her feet back up on the tub for Sam to pull her in. Jim sighed. “We’re all tired. It’s been a long day. I say we call it a night. Start fresh in the morning.”

“But it’s not even dark yet,” Sam bravely pointed out, only to have his brother turn on him. “And it’s summer time,” he added, meekly, despite the warning glare.

The pastor’s face softened. “And if we are to be at the lake when the fish wake up, my boy, you’ll be wanting to turn in now.”

“Okay,” Sam shrugged, with a put upon sigh.

“Clean this damn mess up first, Dean,” John snapped again, pointing a finger at his oldest son.

“Yes, sir.”

John stalked out and Jim glanced at Reaves. “I think it would be very nice if you helped the boys, Caleb.”

“I didn’t make the mess.” The hunter stated, defiantly, his green eyes flashing.

Jim raised an eyebrow, crossed his arms over his chest, and the younger man sighed. “Fine. I’ll go get the freakin’ mop.”

The priest grinned. “That a boy.” He moved past him with a slight pat on his shoulder, and Reaves turned fierce eyes on the two younger boys once he was gone.

“This is all your fault, Deuce.”

“My fault? You’re the one who told him he could take a bath.” The teen gestured to the mess, “Why not just give him the keys to your jeep and have him run into town for a six pack?”

“Don‘t lay a guilt trip on me.” The older hunter shook his head, long bangs falling across his face. “He’s your little brother! Not mine.”

“That’s obvious,” Dean snorted. “No horns. No tail. And he’s not allowed to play with pitchforks.”

Caleb shook his head, his eyes darkening, defined jaw clenching. “Fucking brats,” he growled, turning to go. He didn’t need a bunch of kids screwing around with things, especially when he had enough dead kids fucking up his head at the moment.

Before he got two steps, something soft and wet slapped against the back of his neck, soaking the ends of his hair that fell just above his collar. He stopped in his tracks as he heard a snicker from Dean.

He whirled around, surprised that his attacker was now glaring defiantly at him. “Pastor Jim doesn’t like it when you say that,” Sam huffed.

“Why you little…” Reaves started forward, but Dean darted between him and the seven-year-old.

“Don’t even think about it.”

Caleb stopped in front of Dean, looking down at the boy, who barely came to his chin. The kid had begun to fill out, was all muscle from the hours of daily training that John required of him, and he was quick as a cat. But Reaves still had a good seven inches on him, and at least fifty pounds. It would be a slaughter. “You honestly think you could stop me?”

“If I had to.”

The two stared at each other for a moment and then a slight hint of a dimple appeared at the left corner of Caleb’s mouth. “You are so full of shit, kid.” What the adolescent lacked in brawn, he sure the hell made up for in bravado.

Dean’s cocky stance and challenging glare continued, until the older hunter finally shook his head and pointed a finger at Sam. “I owe you, runt. Big brother won‘t always be around.”

“Whatever, jerk,” Sam sniped, knowing the threat was all bluff.

Dean grinned and Caleb growled deep in his throat. “I really hate kids.”


Onto Chapter 2


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