Great, Beautiful, Terrible Things

By: Ridley C. James

Beta: Tidia

Rating: T-for language, violence and mention of sensitive themes

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


Chapter 1/4

Sandstrom Memorial Hospital. Texas 2005

No one understood what Sam was to him.

Not even Sam, maybe Dean didn't even understand it himself.

All he knew was that ever since Sam had been born, even before their mother's death, he'd felt an almost desperate, innate, calling to protect his brother. "I'm not saying Sam is my life, but he, well, he..."

"Gives you a purpose?" Marilyn understood that feeling. She'd been a parent, after all. She'd loved someone so unconditionally, that she would have walked in front of a speeding train to protect him. The therapist also knew how risky it was to identify so completely with another. It was one of those blessing/curse ironies in life that really could kick you in the ass.

"How sad is that?"

It wasn't the heartbreaking sincerity of the words so much as it was the imploring look on his face that had Marilyn aching for the young man again.

"I don't think it's sad at all, Dean. I think it's quite beautiful."

If he'd had the energy, Dean would have been pacing. The sluggishness that had rested over his body like a fog, was another side effect of the medicines that he hated. "Beautiful. Right." The young hunter looked down at his hands, twisted the silver ring around his finger. How could he make her understand this?

"There was this one time we were living in some run down trailer park in Arkansas, and I guess I was about fifteen. Sam made friends with this kid a few trailers down from us."

Dean could see Zach's face as if it were only yesterday. He was a scrawny kid a couple of years younger than Sam. What he remembered most though were his vacant eyes, and the bruises he always had.

"Sammy was always bringing home strays when we were kids. Cats, birds, baby rabbits- you name it. If it was sick or hurt or lost my brother wanted to save it."

"I can see that." And Marilyn could. In the short time she'd spent with Sam, it was obvious to her that he was capable of great caring. Dean might have been born to wear the tough guy mask of indifference, but his brother wore his heart on his sleeve.

The hunter looked up at her. "He came home from playing one day and he had a black eye and busted lip.”

The damn image was one of many burned into Dean's memory. Sam in spite of his 6'4'' stature these days, had been a small kid. His clothes never seemed to fit right and his long brown hair always managed to be hanging in his expressive brown eyes. He was like an adorably cute puppy in the pet store window. No one could deny him much, not John, and certainly not Dean.

So, seeing little Sammy with his favorite Spiderman shirt torn and splattered with blood, and his eye quickly swelling to one hell of a shiner, understandably sent his big brother over that invisible edge.

"Did he and the little boy get into a fight?" Marilyn hadn't missed the fact that the young man before her had clenched his hands into fists and his warm, moss green eyes had grown hard and distant.

He shook his head. "No. I knew Zach wouldn't have been able to get the best of Sam." His kid brother might have been small and too kind for his own good sometimes, but he'd been trained by one of the best. John Winchester had taught his boys to defend themselves against the worst evil that could be conjured. No eight year-old could have hurt Sam.

"It was the kid's old man." Dean had known the guy was bad news. John had told them both to stay away from the place, but Sam had begged Dean to go and play with Zach when their father was working, and telling Sam no just wasn't as easy as their father made it look. "He came home from work early one day when Sam was there."

Castle was a firm believer in the idea that everyone had those moments in their lives when they made a choice that would shape, or change, who they were forever. She was sure Dean was about to give her a glimpse at just such a moment in his. "I imagine that you and your father were very upset?”

Dean looked at her as if she had just said that Angelina Jolie was somewhat attractive. "I lost it.”

He looked back down at his hands. "Dad was working out of town, and Sam was bleeding, and crying, and I didn't know what to do."

"What did you do, Dean?”

"I found the bastard drinking it up with some of his buddies, watching a football game.”

Zach had apparently made the mistake of walking in front of the TV and his dad had felt the need to get him out of the way by backhanding him across the room. Sam had inadvertently gotten in the way, while trying to help. The old man had actually grinned when he told Dean that his shrimp of a baby brother needed to be taught some damn manners.

"Did he admit to hurting Sam?”

Dean nodded. "Did I mention that Mr. White Trash weighed about 260 and had to duck just to get through his doorway?”

Marilyn sighed. Unfortunately, the cruelties of what a parent could afflict on a child didn't surprise her. She'd worked with far too many children to have retained that innocence. "Did you tell your father?”

"The police called him.” Dean swallowed hard. "After they arrested me.”

"I see.”

No, Dean really didn't think she did. "I beat him until I couldn’t feel my fists any longer, then I used a table leg. And I took his friends out too, because they were there, and they didn't do anything to stop it.” The admission was said calmly and with a matter of fact air.

The therapist had heard bravado before, but that wasn't the impression she was getting from Dean Winchester.

It was hard to imagine a half-grown teenager taking on three men, but something in the young man’s eyes told her that he was more than capable. No. He wasn't bragging, he was just telling her like it was.

A chill raced its way down her spine.

So, the brothers were more different than she had previously thought. "What stopped you?"

"Sam." The name sounded almost like a prayer when he said it, and it had Marilyn rethinking her previous assumption. Dean's eyes glistened as he met her gaze. "Sam stopped me.”

Okay, so maybe they weren't so different after all. "He must have been very frightened.”

"All I could think about was the fact that the bastard had hurt my little brother. I wanted to kill him, would have killed him." He shook his head. "That's not beautiful.”

Marilyn started to reach out and lay a hand on his arm, but rethought her decision. This wasn't Sam she was dealing with.

"Dean, someone wiser than myself once said love causes people to do great, beautiful, terrible things. And it's true.”

She waited patiently for the young man to look at her again.

“Love is the most powerful emotion that I have encountered. It can move mountains, and it can destroy kingdoms. Who is to judge what we do in the name of something so extraordinary…so powerful.”


Memphis, Tennessee. Summer 1994

The phone was ringing, but Caleb Reaves tried to ignore it, focusing instead on the leggy red-head, Amanda, sitting on the barstool in front of him. He’d just spent the last five hours trudging through the darkest streets of Memphis. It was after six, and he wasn’t about to answer a call from Bobby-who had sent him on the damn goose chase in the first place. Besides, Red was smiling at him in an easy way that said he’d be busy for the rest of the evening, receiving some much needed Southern comfort.

Unfortunately, cell phones were notorious for having no sense of romance or timing. The damn thing continued to ring until the twenty-three year-old finally answered it. “What!” He barked into the receiver. “I swear to God, Bobby, if this is about me sneaking an EMF into fucking Graceland…”


The familiar voice, accompanied by a completely uncharacteristic tremor had the hunter reflexively tightening his hold on the cell. His heart rate sped up as he swallowed back the bitter taste of fear. “Deuce?” He pressed the phone closer to his ear to drown out the blaring blues band in the background. “What‘s going on?”

“I…I’m in jail.”

“What?” Caleb shrugged off the hand that Amanda was currently running through his dark hair, trying to regain his undivided attention. “What the hell did you do? Where’s John?”

“Dad’s working…in Jonesboro, Arkansas,” He replied, sounding somewhat steadier. “Pastor Jim said you were close by.”

Caleb glanced up at his date. “Hey? Do you know how far Jonesboro, Arkansas is from here?”

The red-head sat her drink on the bar, tilted her chin as if she were about to perform brain surgery. “Is it close to Little Rock?” So much for choosing company solely on the looks factor.

The hunter sighed. “Deuce how far are you from Little Rock?”

“Not far.”

“Then I’m pretty damn close. What the hell happened?”

“Sammy…Caleb, they took Sammy. I don’t know where.”

“Who?” Reaves stood now, grabbing his leather jacket from the empty stool on the other side of him and started for the door, despite the red-head‘s protests. “Who took Sammy?”

“Some fucking suits, man,” Dean choked. “Children Services, I guess. He was fighting them…they put me in cuffs.”

“Just calm down, kid.” Caleb could almost picture the distraught teen as he stepped out of the bar into the thick, muggy evening air. The boy was tough, but Sam was his Achilles heel. “We’ll get him back. Where exactly are you?”

“Jonesboro Municipal Building.”

“Tell me what happened,” Caleb asked as he opened the door to his Jeep.

“I got in a fight-with some guys.”

“And?” The hunter cranked the engine. That didn’t sound too bad.

“And I got carried away,” Dean’s voice came through the line lower this time. “Two of them were unconscious…I might have killed one.”

Okay, so it was bad. “Damn it, Dean!" The older hunter hissed, pounding the palm of his hand onto the steering wheel. "You know not to draw attention to yourself. You’re fourteen for Christ’s sake.” Irony overwhelmed him-one of those deja vu things that always freaked him out. How many times had Caleb rolled his eyes when John had said something so similar to what he'd just barked at Dean when he was the kid's age and had gotten into a stupid fight and lost his temper.

“The fucking piece of shit hit Sam.”

The psychic sighed as he pulled out of the parking lot onto the road that would lead him to the Interstate. Now it all made more sense. “Deuce…did you call your dad?”

“Yeah. So did the cops.”


“His voice mail picked up.”

Caleb rubbed at his tired eyes. John had a habit of turning his cell off, getting drawn into a hunt so that nothing else registered. “Do you know where he is?”

“Somewhere in the Ozarks. He said he wouldn’t be back until tomorrow.”

“And you called Jim?”

“He couldn’t get a hold of him either and Pastor Jim’s too far away.”

“I know.” Caleb knew Jim was John’s safety net, but sometimes the man forgot that the pastor couldn’t magically transport himself across the country. “Look, I’ll be there in less than an hour. Just hold on.”

“Hurry,” Dean’s voice held a pleading quality that Caleb hadn’t heard in years, and it cut him to his core. “But find Sammy first. He was scared…and hurt.”

“I’ll take care of it. I promise.” Reaves cut the connection, dialing Mac’s number as he glanced around the darkened interior for the damn atlas.


“Mac, I need a favor.”

“And it’s so nice to hear your voice, too, son.”

Caleb heard the shuffling of papers, imagined his father’s flustered look as he sat behind his mahogany desk. “I need some quick guardianship papers.”


He heard Mac sigh and prepared himself for the next words.

“You must have meant to dial Joshua’s number? Isn‘t he your own personal document Rembrandt?”

“No. I don’t need an I.D. I have one with Winchester on it. I just need some official-looking court papers.”


Caleb felt the wave of anxiety as if he were in the same room, not hundreds of miles away. He noticed the change in the other man’s tone. It went from sarcastic to concerned instantly.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know all the facts, but Dean and Sam are in trouble-Department of Children Services kind of trouble.”

“Where’s John?”

The young hunter didn’t answer.

He didn’t want to hear Mac’s speech on proper parenting for about the thousandth time. Caleb was sure that wherever John was, he had a good reason for being there.

“Son? I asked you where their father was?”

“Working,” He finally admitted.

“You mean hunting?”

“Semantics,” Caleb replied, gruffly. “Dean called me after Jim told him I was close by.”

“Are they okay?”

Reaves could hear the anxious undertone and it made him nervous.

“Dean’s been arrested-he sounded shook up. He said Sam was hurt.”

“Damn it!”

The rare curse had Caleb pulling the phone slightly away from his ear.

“Will we need a lawyer?”

“I don’t know the details, Dad. Just fax me the damn papers!” Caleb would fix it, one way or another.

“Where am I suppose to procure these documents, Caleb?”

“Use the temporary ones you had drawn up for me when I was a kid-and don‘t tell me you don‘t have them color-coded and filed away somewhere right at your anal fingertips. White- out the names. It doesn‘t have to be perfect-just good enough to get me in the door. I‘ll do the rest.”

“That’s forgery, not to mention impersonation. You’re not John’s brother, as that fake I.D. states.”


A deep sigh. “Have I taught you nothing?”

“You taught me about loyalty.”


There was a slight pause and Reaves knew he was about to get his way. “Where shall I have the felony act sent?”

“Jonesboro Municipal Building in Jonesboro, Arkansas. And it wouldn’t hurt if you could maybe have one of your lawyer buddies ready to vouch for me, just in case.”

“You know hunting and the real world doesn’t mix well.”

“I know.”

Mac sighed heavily and Caleb felt bad that he hadn‘t seen the man in over a month. Maybe John wasn’t the only one that let himself get buried in a hunt. “But I’ll see what I can do. Call me as soon as you’ve got the boys.”

“I will.”

“And Caleb?”


“Try to use at least a small modicum of restraint when dealing with the authorities.”

“Are you insinuating that I have issues with the police?”

“I’m not insinuating anything. I just don‘t want to have to raise bail money at this late hour.”

Caleb smirked. “Right. I‘ll be a good boy.”

And he had every intention of behaving himself, right up until he saw Sam’s face. “What the hell?” He shouted, causing the pretty blond caseworker beside him to jump. “Did you let a doctor examine him?”

“We called a nurse, but Sam refused to see her.” The woman, who had introduced herself as Kim, explained calmly. “He seemed more upset than actually injured.”

“That’s why his eye is swollen shut? He‘s emotional?”

“I assure you, Mr. Winchester, that your nephew is quite fine.” Kim’s partner, Mills, was half as polite, and a whole hell of a lot uglier. “He was out of control when we brought him in, so we had to put him in the time out room for his own safety.”

“He’s barely ten!” Caleb shouted, gesturing towards the two-way mirror they were standing behind. The same glass separated him from Sam, who was huddled in the corner of the padded room. “And he weighs about fifty-five pounds soaking wet. You couldn’t handle him, tough guy?”

The balding investigator frowned. “You’d rather I put him in restraints?”

“Be glad you didn’t.” The hunter’s voice was deadly serious. “Now open the damn door, before I kick it down.”

Sam looked up when the door was opened and his gaze instantly went to the only familiar face in the room, surprise and relief wrestled for dominance on his young features as he braced himself against the wall and stood. “Hey, kiddo. Ready to spring this joint?”

“Caleb?” Sam made a cautious move forward, and waited for the older man to sidestep the caseworkers before starting in his direction.

“You okay, Sammy?” Caleb asked, bending down in front of the little boy so he could get a better look at his face. The ten-year-old was going to have a pretty impressive black eye, and his bottom lip was swollen from a small cut running across it. “Are you hurt?”

Sam shook his head, his ash-brown hair falling into his eyes. Caleb didn’t miss the way his right arm was hugged across his small body. He reached out and tugged the little boy’s hand away. The hunter pushed the much too big flannel shirt he guessed was Dean’s out of the way so he could lift the blood-stained t-shirt beneath. “Damn,” he hissed, turning an angry glare to the man and woman behind him. “You people call this fine?”

He was somewhat satisfied when Kim’s face drained of color and her gaze flicked to her partner, who also blanched. “He never said anything.”

“Yeah, well, he’s a real quiet kid.” Caleb looked back to Sam, knowing that the boy in question was also use to handling his fair share of injuries without complaint. But, the bruised impression of a shoe was not one of them.

“Where’s Dean?” Sam finally asked, his hand latching onto Caleb’s shirt. “I want to see Dean.”

Reaves looked him in the eye. “We’re going to get him, Sammy, but we need to take care of you first.”

Sam frowned, his watery, wide eyes not hiding his fear. “Where’s Dad?”


“We left him a message on the number that your other nephew gave the police.” Kim bit her bottom lip, thoughtfully. “He’s not returned our call. We were about to call the foster care division.”

Caleb shot Kim an angry look. There was no way in hell Sam was falling into the system, not even for one night. The young hunter had experienced his fair share of foster homes, and in his experience Mac’s was by far the exception, not the rule. “John will come when he gets the damn message, but Sam’s not staying here, and he‘s not going into some stranger‘s home. I can guarantee you that.”

“Are you even old enough to have temporary guardianship?” Mills waved some papers at Caleb, his pudgy features reflecting his doubt. He looked at the kid's torn jeans, long hair, and biker boots and drew all the wrong conclusions. “Because from where I‘m standing, it doesn‘t look that way.”

The hunter stood up and turned on the bald investigator. “Are you smart enough to be in this job?” Caleb nodded to Sam, “ Because from where I’m standing, it’s not really looking that way.”

“He has the documentation, Sid.” Kim offered an apologetic and somewhat appreciative glance in Caleb’s direction. “You know it’s better to release a child to a relative if one is available and suitable.“ She looked at the long haired man again. “I’ll be glad to call one of our nurses to examine Sam while you complete the appropriate paperwork.”

“No,” Sam tightened his hold on Caleb. “I want to go with you. I want to see Dean.”

“Hey.” Caleb squatted back down and put a large hand on the back of the little boy’s neck, giving it a light squeeze. He lowered his voice. “Your brother and your Dad would kick my ass if I let something happen to you. Let them check you out. Okay?”

“You won’t leave me here?”

The hunter sighed when Sam’s eyes filled with tears. He could understand how frightening the whole ordeal had been. Despite the things the kid had seen in his short life, he had been extremely sheltered when it came to certain things in the real world.

Sam depended on Dean and his father completely, and even Caleb would do anything to protect him, but this wasn’t up his alley, damn it. Crying women were bad enough, but a leaking Sam was an entirely different dilemma.

The hunter swallowed his well-honed instincts and pulled Sam in for a brief hug, something he’d see Dean do on occasion. It felt awkward and mechanical, but the sense of comfort that it obviously gave the kid was worth it. He pushed Sam back slightly, reached out and ruffled his hair, “No, runt. I’m not going to leave you here. You’re stuck with me.”

The ten-year-old wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. “Do I still have to see the nurse?”

Damn, he was tricky. “Yes.” Caleb recognized the tactic, and glanced away from the soulful gaze. His eyes went to Kim’s. “Make sure you stay with him-not Mister Personality.”

The caseworker nodded. “Agent Mills can help you with the paperwork.”

“Right,” Mills grunted. “I’ll hold his hand while he signs his name in crayon.” The man turned to go without waiting for Caleb.

“He always so friendly?” The hunter asked, standing, one hand still resting on Sam’s shoulder.

Kim smiled. “Mills has been in the system for twenty years. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he really does care about the kids. He wants what’s best for them.”

“Like locking them up in padded rooms and separating them from their families?”

“Sam’s brother was taken by the police, not us. We couldn‘t leave a ten-year-old alone, unattended. I don‘t think you would have wanted that.”

“Dean didn’t do anything wrong. He was protecting me and Zach from Mr. Brewster,” Sam defended, loudly.

“Is that who hit you, Sammy?” Caleb glanced down at the boy. "This Brewster guy?"

The kid hesitated, his brow furrowing as he looked up at Reaves. Caleb understood the hesitancy. So much of their world was sheathed in secrets; it was hard for him to know when it was all right to be honest. He could only imagine how confusing it could be for Sam. "It's okay, Sammy. You can tell her."

"Yeah, he hit me and Zach,” Sam admitted, with a nod.

Kim sighed. “We’ve had several reports from that household over the years, but have never been able to get enough proof to make the charges stick. We‘ve taken the other child into custody also, but his mother is on the way.”

“Did you tell the police that? About the other reports? ” Caleb asked.

“They are well aware of the situation. I really don’t think they will press charges against your nephew.”

Caleb nodded, raked a hand through his dark hair. That would be more than he could hope for. “I hope you’re right.” The last thing he needed was to plan a jail break.

Mac would not be happy if the felonies began to stack up.


Onto Chapter 2


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