Growing Pains

By: Ridley

Beta: Tidia

Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me. All the lovelies belong to Kripke Enterprise and the CW.


Chapter 1/5

“I never should have let you lead the way.” Eighteen-year-old Caleb Reaves was not a happy hunter at the moment. Not only was he cold and hungry, but he was lost. He glared at the man ahead of him. “You, and your new tracking gadget, suck.”

Add to that the fact the sparse sunlight was fading quickly, the temperature dropping right along with it, and his anger was swiftly edging up to fury. John Winchester was going to kill him. But only after Caleb got through kicking the know it all, pretty boy's ass.

“Stop your complaining, Reaves. If you hadn't made me take the long way around four miles back we would be at the cabin right now in front of the fire, probably enjoying some of Jim's chili and his home-brew.”

“Yeah, because crossing that raging river would have been so smart,” Dean Winchester spoke up with a scoff. He reached out to steady his little brother, who had once again stumbled in the growing darkness.

Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Sawyer was almost to his wit's end. The kid had barely spoken to him in the three days they had been at Jim's cabin, and when he did it was to mouth off. Which was really annoying considering the ten-year-old had ‘Caleb‘ speak down to an art form. “Shut up, kid!” It was not an endearing trait.

Caleb drew up short. “Don't tell him to shut up, Sawyer.”

The older hunter stopped then, turning to glare at Reaves. “You tell him to shut up all the time.”

The psychic grinned, cockily. “Yeah, well, that's me.”

“How about you shut up then?” He had endured just about all he was going to from Reaves. The shit-eating, cocky, lop-sided grin was really getting on his nerves. The bad-ass attitude was hard to stomach at the best of times. He and the younger hunter barely tolerated each other on a good day. And today was not a good day.

Caleb had criticized every action he'd taken since setting out that morning, and it was getting really old, really fast. Mix in Winchester's two brats and it was enough to drive anyone to the end of their rope.

“Can we rest now? I'm tired.” Sam Winchester complained, despite knowing the reaction it would garner. He'd asked the same question hours ago and got a chorus of negative answers. “And hungry,” he muttered when everyone turned to look at him.

Dean and Caleb shared a quick look before the younger boy knelt in front of the five-year-old. “Sammy, I told you we'd be home in a little while. Just hang in there,” his older brother told him.

“But…that was forever ago, and my feet hurt.”

“For crying out loud!” Joshua growled, raking both his hands through his short, blond hair. “Can't you get him to be quiet?” He looked at Dean and then Caleb. For as quiet and anti-social as his brother was, Sam Winchester’s gregarious, talkative nature seemed never ending. No matter what anyone else said, Joshua didn’t find it an endearing quality either.

“He's five!” Reaves snapped back, slipping his pack from his shoulders and bending down to rifle through it. “Sorry he's not the good little trooper you want him to be.” He withdrew a bag of animal crackers and handed them to Sam, along with a small thermos bottle with Superman on it. “Here, runt, munch on these until we decide what we're going to do next.”

Sawyer laughed. “I've got to say, Reaves, John's turned you into quite the accomplished baby-sitter.”

“At least he's learned something from Dad.” Dean looked up at him, his green eyes defiant. “You couldn't find your own ass in a dark room.”

“I don't see Caleb or you, for that fact, making any progress, Deuce. Or is it Ace?”

“It's Dean.” Dean stepped forward, but Caleb caught the sleeve of his jacket and pulled him back.

“Leave it, kid. I don't want you catching cooties.”

“Yeah. Leave it, kid.”

“Stop being an ass, Josh.” Caleb stood back up. “I know it's your first instinct, but try to fight it for a change.” He was tired of the overachiever picking on Dean because he was severely lacking in the comeback department. Apparently Sawyer saw the much younger boy as a less threatening opponent. That showed how little he knew..

“Just like you fight your instincts, Demon Boy.”

Caleb glared at him, feeling the heat of anger rush through his body, his face burning. “What the fuck is your problem, Sawyer? This was your idea.”

“And yours to tag along.”

It was true to a degree. Caleb had offered to come along after Joshua decided he would take out after the other hunters, and track down the location of the Black Dog himself. At first, Reaves had told him he was an idiot. One of the first rules of hunting was you didn't do it alone-especially if you were walking into a situation with unknown variables.

But if the young psychic was honest with himself, he had to admit he was more afraid Joshua would find the lair than he was concerned about the man's safety. A score like that would make him even more impressive to the other hunters-to John. It might even get him a coveted ring.

“I could have found the dog's lair without your help,” Sawyer continued to rant.

“Yeah, that's why Caleb led you straight there,” Dean's voice broke into the psychic's reverie. He shook himself from his self-incriminating thoughts just in time to see the older hunter's demeanor change.

Josh took a step towards Dean and Reaves grabbed the front of his jacket, shoving him back so hard he stumbled. Caleb let the anger at himself fuel his distaste for Sawyer. “Oh please do something stupid so I have a reason to leave your body out here for the Black to snack on.”

Sawyer grinned to hide the slight twinge of fear that raced through him. Caleb was younger, but he was strong, and quick. He had passed up Sawyer at six foot a few inches ago, and although he wasn't as muscular as the older hunter, he was skilled-extremely skilled. Who the hell knew exactly what he was capable of.

Joshua's father, Harland, often likened Caleb's acceptance into the brotherhood to trying to domesticate a wolf hybrid. You could never be quite sure if it would tear off the hand that fed it. “Bodyguard and babysitter. Great combination.”

“Can we go home now?” Sam asked, once again drawing everyone's attention. He was huddled on a rock, quickly devouring the last of the cookies and milk.

“Yeah, little brother.” Dean glanced at Caleb and then glared at Joshua. “If these two are finished marking their territories.”

“And if Joshua can get that terrific new tracking system that he was bragging about to actually work,” Reaves added, stepping back from the other man's personal space after roughly patting him on the chest. “He's in charge, after all.”

Joshua watched those perfect white teeth curl into a feral smile, and quickly swallowed the lump in his throat back down. The last thing he needed to do was show fear. “Yeah, I am in charge and if it weren't for these two,” Sawyer gestured to the younger boys. “We would have crossed the river and been back home now-with the location of the Black Dog's lair.”

Caleb rolled his eyes, his grin fading. “Stop making excuses. You have no idea where you're going now, and you didn't back there either. That sophisticated technology of yours is severely lacking.”

“Okay, if you're so smart, why don't you use those psychic abilities of yours to navigate us back home?”

“It doesn't work that way.”

“Of course not.” Josh grumbled. “It's no wonder everyone is severely disappointed in what Jim thought you were going to be.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Caleb asked, stepping towards the blond again.

“Never mind,” Joshua shook his head. “I'm tired of arguing with you. We're going my way, and that's an order.”

“An order?” Reaves snorted, starting forward again, but Dean caught his arm.

“Sammy's tired, and it's getting cold.”

Caleb sighed, raked a hand through is hair. “Yeah,” he nodded to Dean. “Get my pack. I'll get the runt.”

“I can get Sam.”

Reaves recognized the defiant look and frowned. He respected Dean's resolve, but right now was not the time for pride. They could move faster if Caleb carried Sam.

He moved them slightly away from Sawyer and didn't miss the sigh of frustration the other man let out. “Look. I know you can take care of Sammy, but I need you to watch our sixes. I don't exactly trust Davy Crockett's trail blazing.”

Finally, Dean nodded. “It's like trusting Bobby to set you up on a blind date.”

Reaves laughed, shaking his head at the kid's astute observation skills. Maybe he had to be more careful with what he said in front of him. “Right, now move your ass, Deuce. We're burning daylight.”

“Ready to go, Cowboy?” The psychic knelt in front of the youngest Winchester.

“I'm tired of walking, Caleb,” Sam complained, looking up at the older man.

“Who said anything about walking? Just call me A Million to One.”

The five-year-old grinned at the mention of Pastor Jim's rescued race horse. The big Arabian, A-Mill-O, was more trail pony than Kentucky contender these days, and one of Sam's favorite things. “Hop on.” Reaves grabbed the little boy's hands and swung him up onto his back. “But no spurring like last time. Got it?”

Sam giggled. “Can I have a crop?”

Dean handed his brother a stick before the psychic could get a word in edge wise. “Here ya'go, little brother.”

Reaves glared at him. “You know where I'm putting that if he hits me with it. Right?”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, pretty sure.” A small, but cocky grin split his face and he glanced towards Sawyer, who was working with the hand-held tracking device. “But I can think of a better place.”

The psychic shook his head again. Okay, he was definitely going to have to watch his mouth around the kid. “I’m sure you could.”

“If you boys are done playing, we need to get moving.” The older hunter called out to them. “I think I have the hang of this thing now.”

Dean and Caleb shared another look, but it was Sam who summed it up best. “I think Josh's new toy is a piece of crap.”


Onto Chapter 2


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