In the Company of Dragons

By: Ridley C. James

Beta: Tidia

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


Chapter 2/7

“It never does to leave a live Dragon out of the equation.” -The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

“One of these days you're going to pick a battle that I can't help you win,” Dean pointed out, helping Sam out of the tub once Caleb was gone. “You really shouldn't piss-off people bigger than you, little brother-and especially not ones bigger than me.”

“Nah,” the little boy shivered as air met his wet skin. “You're like Athewm. You'll always save me,” he stated, confidently.

The blond rolled his eyes at his brother's comparison.

Athewm was a dragon from one of Pastor Jim's 'made-up' stories. It didn't take Dean long to figure out he wasn't just like Athewm, but he was Athewm. Athewm, was Mathew, his middle name, slightly rearranged, and in Jim's story he was an emerald green, guardian dragon-Prince Samuel's protector.

There were other familiar characters, too. Take Belac, for instance. A powerful red dragon forged in the fires of the Underworld, who despite his dark lineage had sworn allegiance to the Prince. Among Belac's many talents was his ability to read minds. Big mystery who that was.

Then, Cam, an intelligent blue dragon that could heal people with the touch of his claws. Of course, there was Astorim, a silver, wand-wielding, dragon, the oldest of all the beasts. And last but not least, there was Oh'Nathan Jay, a fierce black dragon who protected the kingdom where Prince Samuel lived.

Jim had told Sam the tale for years, expanding it as time went by, even buying his little brother small plastic dragons that went along with the story. Dean had to admit he liked it too, when he was a kid. But now he barely listened when Sam would beg the pastor to regale him before bedtime. After all, he was practically an adult. But half-grown or not, Caleb was still a whole heck of a lot bigger. “Yeah, well, I'm not sure Athewm could take Belac if it came down to it.”

The little boy frowned. “Why would Athewm and Belac fight each other? They both protect the Prince.”

The younger Winchester shook his head. “Maybe the Prince did something really stupid to Belac-like dousing him in the moat. You know how fire dragons hate water.”

Sam grinned, mischievously. “That would be funny.“ He lifted his arms as his brother dried the rest of him. “Now. Scout,” the little boy said, pointing down to the puppy, who was busy chewing on the plastic sail boat.

“Sammy,” Dean sighed, “give me a break.” But even as he complained, he squatted down and rubbed the little Lab with the towel, until she was barely damp.

Jim had gotten the puppy for Sam's birthday, even though they weren't allowed to have pets. The priest swore to their father the dog wasn't a present, just a purchase at convenient timing. After all, Atticus was getting along in years, and the priest hoped having a young pup to look after might liven him up a bit. Jim said it worked well enough for him, and John couldn't argue with that logic.

Caleb entered the bathroom, mop and bucket banging behind him. He looked at Sam, then glanced around to all the mess. “Next time take the mutt to the pond, kid.”

“She's not a mutt,” the boy said indignantly. “She's a Labrador Retriever!” Sam explained again, to which Reaves only rolled his eyes.

“I don't care if she's Eukanuba Dog of the Year. Just keep her on a leash, and out of my bed, if you don't mind.” Scout had mysteriously found her way into Caleb's room the day before, even though he had shut and locked the door. “I don't need her panting in my ear. I have an alarm clock to wake me up, thank you very much.”

“And here I didn't think you'd kick any bitch out of your bed.” Dean smirked, letting the water out of the tub. “Especially one that would get close enough to pant in your ear, Damien.”

Reaves smirked. “Nice, Deuce.”

“She's not a …” Sam frowned at his brother. “That word.”

“It means female dog, Sammy.” Dean defended innocently.

“You didn't mean it that way.”

“He's too smart for you already, kid. ” The psychic snorted, swabbing the floor with a wicked grin on his face. “By the time he's your age, you won't even be able to carry on a conversation. You'll have to lug around a dictionary, maybe even hire an interpreter.”

“Shut up,” Dean growled, slinging a wet towel towards the older man. “Like you're a freakin' Rhodes Scholar.”

Reaves easily caught it, and raised a brow before he twirled it a round a few times. “Smart enough not to give the enemy a weapon.” Dimple and white teeth flashing in a devilish grin, he snapped it out like a whip towards the blond.

The wet material popped, missing Dean by inches. “Hey!” he yelped, as Sam laughed, and Scout barked, delighted the fun had started back once more.

“I bet that would have hurt,” the seven-year-old said, backing up, so he was behind Caleb, who was advancing on his brother again.

“Traitor.” Dean glared at him, and tried to dash out of the way as the dark-haired hunter aimed the towel at him again.

It barely missed as he dodged out of the way. “Moving a little slow there, Deuce,” Reaves chided. “ I'm amazed you were able to hustle it to home plate at all this season.”

“You don't need to run when you can hit the ball like me,” Dean boasted, and once again attempted to duck away from Caleb. Unfortunately, the floor was still soaked and he slipped in a puddle of water nearly crashing into the washstand as his feet slid out from beneath him.

Reaves' quick reflexes saved him and the glass pitcher on top of the vanity. “Yeah, you're so smooth, graceful.”

The teen started to snap off a suggestion Jim would not have been happy with, when Reaves took a sharp intake of breath and suddenly released him. “Damn it,” the psychic growled, bringing a fisted hand up to the center of his forehead. “Not again.”

An explosion of light flashed behind the psychic’s tightly closed eyelids and he felt his legs buckle before he could even reach out for anything to catch himself. His knees struck the hardwood floor, the shockwave that rocked through his spine and back was nothing compared to the cataclysmic quake rumbling in his head. The pain was blinding. It stole his breath like a vicious punch to the solar-plexus, making him wonder if this would be the time his skull might actually shatter against the pressure.

He heard his name through the agony, mostly because Sam was obviously shouting it in his ear. The frightened sound of it mingled badly with the roar of the rushing blood as it coursed through his veins like an angry, flood-swollen creek.

Reaves couldn't stop the strangled gasp that was torn from his throat as he curled into himself, wrestling with his instinct to fight, to resist what was happening. Six years of having visions and he still had a hard time 'letting' them come, as Mac had coached him. Although he'd gotten better at it, giving up control wasn't something that would ever come natural to him.

But something about this vision was different. More intense. More painful.

It was like the two others he'd experienced in the past few weeks. The ones that had accompanied the nightmares that had worried him enough to call Mac, who had in turn insisted he call John.

Caleb felt consciousness slipping from him, just as the horror movie started playing.

He was in a park, standing near a swing set. The sun was setting in the distance, the night air cool on his skin.

The location was different, but the set-up was the same. Whomever he was connecting with this time was in big trouble- if his previous visions were any indication.

Victims were his curse, for they drew him in. But the perspective with which he viewed his visions had always been more about the monster behind the melee. He saw what was happening through the perpetrator's eyes-feeling, and experiencing every nuance. Reaves supposed it was his demonic nature mixing with his abilities in one fucked up way, fate's attempt at piddling on his shoes.

But this time he could feel the most recent victim's heartbeat speed up. His breathing became shallow and forced as he realized he wasn't alone. The false illusion of safety was shattered with the snapping of a twig, with the crunching of leaves beneath a heavy foot. The darkness became smothering, painful. Then the monster was there.

Reaves felt the fear as if it were his own. The child turned, cried out, and started to run into the darkened forest, but the threat was faster. It reacted quickly, stealthily making its way towards the kid-a young boy. The psychic wasn't sure how he knew the age or sex of the victim, but he did. Even the name-Ian.

Despite the control Caleb uselessly tried to exert over the body he was mentally trapped in, the little boy stumbled, fell to his knees, and couldn't recover before...

Mercifully, it was over quick. The viciousness so brutal it didn't take long for the job to be finished. Still, the psychic felt each blow as if he were physically there. Felt the bones snap, heard the rushing of blood as if it were in his own head. And then the oxygen was cut off by a crushing grip, and his own lungs felt ready to explode…

As the last breath of life left the child's body, Reaves felt his own chest constrict. His lungs burned hot, like the tears that streaked from the boy's cheek to land on the killer's hands.

The psychic looked up through the sightless eyes as the child's body was dropped unceremoniously to the cold ground. Through the black spots dancing before him, he barely made out the flash of gold . The ring was fuzzy still, but the symbol was clearer than it had been in the nightmares. A twisted type of cross, with a letter emblazoned over it, Celtic-looking, but not quite like anything Reaves had seen.

Then it was all gone as quickly as it had come. No rolling credits, no blooper reel-just all encompassing pain…then blackness. And the dreaded feeling of falling away into the dark abyss with no safety net below.


He came to with a gasp, his weak muscles sending him back to the mattress almost as soon as he had jack-knifed into a sitting position. “Shit,” he muttered, weakly, reaching a hand up to rub at his aching, burning throat.

“Take it easy,” a voice whispered and Caleb's head whipped to the side. He was more than surprised to see Mackland Ames' concerned face, shadowed in the faint light coming from the small table-side lamp.

“Hey,” the young hunter croaked, searching the rest of his surroundings for any indication of where he might be, and how exactly he got there.

“Hey yourself.” Mac grinned, reached out and took Caleb's hand, placing his fingers along the psychic's wrist.

Reaves frowned, but didn't pull away. “What are you doing?”

“Taking your pulse.”

Caleb rolled his eyes, licked his dry lips. “I mean…what are you doing here?”

The young hunter realized he was in his room at Jim's, the one he'd stayed in since he was a teenager when visiting the priest. Like Dean and Sam, he'd spent plenty of summers at the old farm, especially when Mac had still been a practicing surgeon. “John called me.”

Reaves groaned, instantly pissed that Winchester would drag his adoptive father all the way to Jim's because of a stupid vision. “What? To tattle because I wasn't being a good little boy?” The hunter closed his eyes, took a deep breath to push away the last of the pain. “God, I'm twenty years old. I don't have to listen to him anymore.”

Mac snorted. “Like you have ever listened to anyone, Caleb Reaves. Although John has come closer than most.” When his son peeled only one eye open to glare at him, the doctor's face softened. “And he didn't call to report back on you. He called because you weren't breathing.”

“What?” The other gold-flecked eye shot open and the hunter once again tried to shove himself to a seated position. Although his sore ribs protested, he was able to make it this time. “What do you mean I wasn't breathing?”

“I mean,” Mac sighed, rubbed a finger over his eyebrow, “that whatever happened in your latest vision triggered some sort of seizure and you stopped breathing.” The doctor's gray eyes darkened. “Thank God it was only for a minute, and you spontaneously started back on your own, but still…you scared everyone.”

“Shit,” Reaves mumbled again, dragging his hand over his face, across his mouth. The little boy in the vision had stopped breathing-had he been that connected? He recalled vividly the feeling of suffocating. “Holy shit.”

“My sentiments exactly. You want to tell me what happened? It was a vision?”

“Yeah…a vision about a murder.” Caleb rubbed at his temples. “ I was cleaning up the bathroom, and then…” The psychic paused, trying to recollect exactly what he was doing when the vision was triggered. It all seemed foggy-as if it had happened a lifetime ago.

“Yes, you were with the boys,” Ames added, hoping to spark more memory.

“Sammy?” Caleb suddenly remembered the youngest Winchester calling his name.

Mac nodded to the pillow beside of Caleb, where several ten-inch, plastic dragons stood watch. “He was quite concerned. Dean convinced him that his dragon friends would provide sentry while he was asleep. John ordered them to bed a few hours ago, though much protesting ensued.”

“Damn. How long have I been out?”

“Over five hours.” Mac looked at the clock. “Luckily I was near by.”

Reaves glanced away from the other man then, feeling slightly guilty Mac had been pulled away from his research. He reached over and picked up one of Sam's dragons to avoid the doctor's pointed gaze. “The runt must have thought I was going to die.” He observed, with a quick quirk of his lip. He held up the shiny, green beast. “This is Athewm- his favorite one.”

“Ah yes, Prince Samuel's guardian.”

Caleb chuckled, shook his head despite the fiery pain it stoked. “Is it weird that we know this?”

“No, considering we have all, at one time or another, been conned into playing with that castle.”

“It's a Gothed-out Barbie Dream Home,” Reaves pointed out. “Jim got it at a charity sale at the church. Made me paint it years ago.”

Mac smiled. “If I'm not mistaken, you and Dean added the bridge and moat yourselves.”

The younger man shrugged, brushing off the implication he had gotten in to the project. “What's a castle without a moat and a draw bridge?”


The dark-haired hunter tossed the toy back with the others. “So, he and Deuce are okay?”

“As I said, they were concerned. Rightfully so.” Mac's brow furrowed. “To be such amazingly brave boys, they frighten easy when it comes to their circle of influence. I think they have a heightened sense of danger-an ingrained fear of losing those close to them.”

The hunter quirked his brow at the psych terms, and Mac smiled. “All the Winchesters happen to have that same affliction. Perhaps I should do a case study.”

“Like John would go for being one of your lab rats.”

“Speaking of John…he only left a few moments ago. Although he claimed he was anxious for you to awake mostly because of your current job. He was quite overcome with concern.”

Reaves snorted. “Right, Dad. He's gone all warm-fuzzy on me. I'm surprised he didn't try and get you to pump me full of adrenaline, or maybe mind-meld with me to get access to that last little show.”

The doctor frowned, not quite sure if his son was kidding, or if he really believed John Winchester didn't give a damn whether he lived or died. He hoped it was the former and not the latter. John was many things, but cold and heartless was not one of them. Especially where Caleb was concerned. “He said you've been having nightmares.”

“I told you that when I called.”

“Yes, but John said they were bad-very bad.”

“Great.” The psychic palmed his eyes. “Jim needs to insulate this damn place. The walls are like paper.”

“You could have called me. Perhaps Bobby could dig up a protection symbol to ward off whatever connection you're making this time.”

“Look, I'm a big boy. And the nightmares didn't get bad until I got here. Besides John shouldn't have called you.”

“I would have been angry if he hadn't, and this incident with your abilities…well, it wasn't the only reason he called.” Ames tilted his head. “And what do you mean they didn't get bad until you got here?”

A wave of anxiety washed over Caleb. He winced as his battered mind suddenly processed the emotions rolling off the other man. “What's wrong? Why are you worried?” He pushed himself up against the headboard. “You're never worried.”

Mac waved the questions away. “It's something we can discuss in the morning, but about…”

The dark haired hunter's frown deepened, his brow furrowed. “What about Dean and Sam?”

Mac raised a brow. “You're reading me?”

Reaves sighed, frustrated the older man sounded surprised- almost amused. The very way John often sounded when Caleb challenged him to a game of pool, or a sparring session. “Something about John and the boys…”

Now the doctor frowned, as he watched his son rub at his temples. “You're hiding it,” Reaves hissed, still pushing to find the source of the fear he'd felt from his father.

“Son,” Ames reached a hand out, laid it on the hunter's arm. “What's this about? Is it this job?”

“Don't patronize me.” Caleb pulled away, not sure why he was suddenly moving past irritated, right into full blown pissed. “What's going on with John? Why are you worried about the boys?”

“Keep your voice down.” Mac moved his gaze to the adjoining door on the far wall. Dean and Sam's room lay just beyond it. “As you said, these walls are practically porous. You don't want to wake them.”

Reaves reached out, touched each boy's mind, content they were still safe asleep. He refused to be swayed by his father's concerned gaze. Not only was he more than curious as to what Mac was blocking, he was anxious for a distraction-any distraction-to erase the lingering images of what he'd just witnessed. But he did lower his voice. “Fine. I'll ask him myself.”

The young psychic shoved at the blanket covering him, and stood quickly. Ames reached out a hand to steady him as he wavered. The stubborn kid turned away, starting for the door that led to the hallway. “But you haven't told me what happened…” The doctor sighed, raking his fingers through his salt and peppered hair before following after his son. “Of course it's not like you've ever listened to me before.”

“What's going on, Johnny?” Caleb demanded as soon as he entered the bright and way too cheerful kitchen. For not the first time, he cursed the day Jim chose to paint the room sunshine yellow. Even in the dead of night it glowed with a welcoming aura.

The priest and Winchester were sitting at the table, papers and files spread out before them. They both looked up when the dark haired hunter stumbled in. A mixture of concern and relief reflected on their tired faces. But Reaves didn't miss the quick glance they shared or the bottle of Jose sitting in front of John.

He was right. Something was definitely up.

“My boy, you're back with us?” Jim stood motioning to a chair. “Why don't you sit down?”

Caleb frowned, rubbed at his throat again, but didn't reply, nor did he move from the doorway.

“That was Jim's way of saying you look like shit,” John said, but the words didn't ring with their usual gruffness, nor were they slurred, which was a good thing. Winchester was damn contrary when he was drunk. “Now sit down, goddamnit. Because I ain't carrying your heavy ass twice in one day.”

Reaves huffed out a breath, but did as the older man requested. He watched silently as his father entered the room, poured himself a cup of coffee and joined them at the table. “He okay?” John asked Mac, not bothering to address the subject of his concern.

“He's awake.” Mac smiled over the rim of the mug. “That's always a good sign in the medical field. The fact that he's irritable, oppositional and uncooperative is also positive.”

“Seeing as how that's his normal state.” John agreed, rubbing at his eyes.

“You're concern is touching,” Caleb growled.

“They were both very worried.” Jim piped up, going to the refrigerator to retrieve a pitcher of iced tea-his elixir to cure anything that ailed. “We all were.” He added with a wink, as he filled a glass for Caleb. He gave it to the young psychic before reclaiming his seat. “But, are you sure you shouldn't still be in bed?”

Reaves took a drink of the sweet liquid and glared at him. “Is that the nice way of saying you want me to leave the grown-up table?”

“Caleb,” Mac warned.

The Pastor raised a brow. “No, that's my way of saying I'm worried about you.”

“I'm not a kid, Jim.”

Murphy folded his hand on the table, glanced down at the silver ring on his right hand. To him they all seemed like children. “Sorry, but finding you unconscious and not breathing on my bathroom floor has left me rather unsettled and concerned for your health. By all means, though, do stay. Push yourself to exhaustion. I won't think anything else of it. After all, as you have pointed out, you are an adult.”

Reaves groaned, rolled his eyes. Nobody did guilt like Jim Murphy. Who needed a mother, when they had the Pastor. “I'm fine.” He lied. “It was just a vision.”

“Same as the others?” John asked, hesitantly.

Caleb nodded. A sudden sense of letting the man down washed over him as his gaze met Winchester's. “It was another kid. A little boy. But I didn't get much more on the crazy.” He had the urge to say he was sorry, though he wasn't quite sure why. Caleb took another swallow of Jim's ice tea, instead.

“Damn it!” John pounded his fist on the table. “What the fuck else can go wrong?”

“Daddy?” As if on cue, Sam entered the room, rubbing his eyes, yawning. Scout was trotting behind him, a crumpled pair of socks grasped between her teeth. “What's wrong?”

Winchester grunted, lifted his eyes heavenward, in a 'you've got to be kidding me' gesture.

“Sammy, why are you up?”

The little boy shrugged making his way around the table, coming to stand beside Caleb, leaning against the psychic's chair. “I was thirsty.” He glanced up at Reaves. “Are you better now?”

Some of Reaves apprehension seemed to evaporate as Sam's shoulder brushed against his. He reached out and ruffled the sleep-tousled mop of hair before he could stop himself. “Are you kidding? Nothing hurts me, runt. I'm invincible.”

“You were thrashing around on the floor like the fish do when we pull them out of the water.” The kid must have took the rare physical contact and smile as an invitation. He climbed up in the chair with Reaves, planting himself on the hunter's knee. Scout whined and attempted to do the same by placing her big puppy-paws on the psychic's leg. Sam leaned back against the hunter's broad chest and yawned again. “Your lips were blue.”

Reaves sent a quick desperate look to his father, who suddenly found his coffee much more interesting to look at. But Caleb didn't miss the hint of amusement that flashed through his gray eyes. It was the same look that was plastered on Murphy's grinning face.

John was the only one who seemed at least a little sympathetic. “Sammy, leave Caleb alone and go back to bed. He's still breathing. No harm, no foul.” Okay, so maybe 'sympathetic' wasn't the right word.

“Brain cells die when people don't get oxygen. And they don't ever come back.” Sam told him, before glancing back up at Reaves. “That's why people aren't suppose to hold their breaths too long.”

“Thanks for pointing that out, Tiny Einstein.”

The little boy frowned. “Dean was worried when I told him that. He said you couldn't afford to lose brain cells. That you were close to being a vegetable already.”

“Oh did he, now?” Caleb growled.

Mac hid his laugh behind a cough. “I assure you Samuel, that Caleb is quite fine. Your father's right. There was no lingering damage.”

Sam stared up at Reaves again. “Was it because I hit you with the sponge?”

“What?” The psychic's brow furrowed, trying to process the shift in conversation.

“Dean promised it wasn't, but sometimes when Dad gets hit on the head he goes to sleep like you did. I didn't mean to hurt you.”

“Sammy…” Caleb sighed, feeling a wealth of emotions all at once, and oddly unsure of what to say. “Trust me. It had nothing to do with you, kiddo.” Thank God. “It was a vision.” About some other little boy, that had no connection to them. “That's all. I promise.”

“The movie in your head?” he asked, his earnest concern once again taking another sucker punch at Caleb.

“Yeah. The movie in my head.”

Sam twisted his fingers in the sleeve of the flannel shirt the twenty-year-old was wearing. “It was a scary one? Like that one with Freddy Krueger that we watched?”

Before Reaves could answer, incriminating himself for letting the boys watch Nightmare on Elm Street, John was on his feet. He lifted his son up and into his own arms in one practiced scoop. “Enough Q&A, Tiger. Caleb's tired, and so are you. You're going back to bed.”

“But I just woke up,” the kid protested around another yawn.

“I'll take him,” Caleb heard himself saying, as his legs seemed to move him to standing on their on volition.

No one was more surprised than Reaves, himself, when he bent down and picked up the Lab puppy, hefting her up in one arm. John quirked a brow as the psychic stood back up and the younger hunter shrugged. “Hey, I have a bone to pick with his brother,” he explained. “No brain cells to spare, my ass,” he grumbled as he turned his back to the Winchesters. “Hop on, runt.”

The seven-year-old didn't hesitate as he practically leaped onto Caleb's back. His hands clasping across the hunter's neck, gangly legs latching around the psychic's waist in the well-practiced piggy-back carry. “Giddy-up,” Sam whooped, and Reaves groaned as the loud voice echoed in his brain, rattling around the overloaded synaptic pathways.

“Keep it to the inside voice, Cowboy,” he said, glaring at his father and Murphy, who were still yet to say anything. But they were looking at him like he, Scout and Sam were on the cover of some sappy Hallmark card. All they needed now was a Christmas tree twinkling in the background, and Dean to join them wearing a freakin' Santa hat. God. They were turning into the Brady Bunch. He hoped to hell this didn't give Murphy any ideas about a group portrait.

“No stories! No pit-stops! Straight to sleep. I mean it.” John's thundering voice thankfully broke the spell. Caleb was for once eternally grateful for his well-timed Scrooginess.

“And re-salt the door and around the bed.” Okay, that was more like it. The Munsters he could live with.

“And here I was thinking we'd hit the bar for a night cap-couple tequila shots and he'd go out like a light,” Reaves told him, with a smirk. “But I guess that can wait a few years.”

“Bed!” John pointed towards the hallway, when his youngest son laughed.

“And the same goes for you.” Mac echoed, his slight smile not having the same effect. But Caleb still felt chafed by it. He was being banished from the big boy table, goddamnit. Something big was going on.

“I mean it, son,” the doctor added, obviously interpreting the reaction. “You need to rest. We can discuss all of this later.”

“Fine,” Reaves hefted Scout higher and she dropped her socks, or rather Dean's socks, to deliver a sloppy lick right across his mouth. “We know when we're not wanted.” Besides, Caleb would just read Jim tomorrow-find all the answers they weren't willing to share with him. The man was like an open book.

“They're grumpy,” Sam said in a softer voice as they left the room.

“That's what happens when you get old, kiddo.”

“I heard that,” Murphy called after them, but only a little boy's giggle echoed back to them.

John sighed, wearily sank back down in his chair once they were gone-out of earshot. He buried his face in his hands. “I can't lose him, damn it!” he said softly. “This is my worst nightmare.”

Mac and Jim shared a quick look, before Ames spoke. “We'll fix it, Jonathan.”

The seasoned hunter looked up at the doctor. “How the hell do you propose we do that, Mackland? The man has us dead to rights. You willing to give up your career? Your freedom?” He shook his head. “You want Caleb to go to jail? Or worse, to some lab to be studied? They'll hunt down everyone we care about. We'll all be put away. Then the boys will be at his mercy, anyway. ”

“That won't happen. Conner doesn't understand all the workings of the Brotherhood.”

“But he knows a lot,” Jim chimed in, rubbing his silver mustache. “Too much for an outsider. I have a feeling he may know even more than he let on and that means only one thing.”

Ames frowned. “You believe he has an inside source? One of our own?”

Murphy nodded. He and John had already discussed the possibility, decided it was the only plausible theory. “I fear so.”

“And that's exactly why I don't have a goddamn choice but to do what the sonofabitch wants.” John pounded the table. He looked at Mac again, but this time all anger fled, replaced by complete helplessness. Fear. “I'm going to lose my son, Mac. God help me. I don't think I can do this again.”


Onto Chapter 3


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