By Ridley C. James, June 2007
Rating: T-for Language
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me,
but the idea, which is obviously not original.
“Yeah?” Caleb Reaves grabbed the
phone on the second ring, casting a quick, sleep-blurred, glance to the
other side of the bed as the figure under the blankets stirred. He
hoped the woman didn’t wake because for the life of him he couldn’t
quite recall her name.
Mandy…Sandy…Bambi or something.
The choked voice immediately erased
any concerns of insulting his latest ‘date’ and Reaves shoved the
blankets aside and sat up. “Sammy?”
“I need you to come. Please.”
The twelve-year-old sounded on the
verge of panic. Fear spiked through Caleb’s heart. “Sam? What’s wrong?”
“He’s such a stupid idiot, that's
what's wrong. I told him not to do it, but he thinks he knows
Caleb glanced towards the alarm clock
by the bed. It was one-thirty in the morning. “Who, Sammy? Your Dad?”
Sam and John's relationship had become somewhat strained as Sam
ventured into the edges of adolescence. The youngest Winchester wasn't
above voicing his distaste for his father's behavior. Maneuvering
through the Winchester household these days was a bit like taking a
blind-folded trip through a minefield.
Reaves turned on the lamp, not caring
if Candy awoke. He blinked in the sudden brightness, scanning the
scattered clothing on the floor, looking for his jeans. “Sam? You still
“Dean. I‘m talking about my stupid
Caleb cradled the phone precariously
between his ear and shoulder, struggling to get into his jeans while
searching for his shirt and socks. “Deuce?” He growled in frustration
as another sweep of the room only turned up one damn sock. “What the
hell has he done now?” Caleb hoped the kid hadn’t been hit by the
“He was hustling at a bar…a very bad
“Hustling? Pool?” Caleb demanded,
already running worst case scenarios through his head. What the hell
was Dean doing at a bar alone? He was sixteen for fuck's sake.
“What else? Dad told him to stay away
from this stupid place, but you know how he is.”
Caleb did know Dean. Disobeying John
wasn’t something he did on a frequent basis. He wasn't as explosive as
his younger brother. Only one thing made sense. “You two out of money?”
There was a long pause, which gave
Reaves enoughh time to slip his shirt on and return the phone to his
ear. “Talk to me, Runt.”
“Yeah. Dad's been gone longer than we
thought. Caleb…I think Dean‘s hurt bad. He barely got out of bed today,
and he's really been out of it the last few hours.”
In Winchester speak awhile could mean
anything from a few days to a week and bad could mean a massive head
wound or disembowelment. Caleb sat down roughly on the bed to pull on
his shoes. Screw the fucking socks. “Where the hell are you, Sam?” If
Dean were willing to leave Sam alone to go hustling, then they must
have been completely out of supplies and food. Fucking John.
Caleb shoved his barefoot into the
neck of his biker boot. “No, Sam. I know where you guys are staying. I
mean where are you right now?” Caleb had talked to Dean a few days
before, but the teen hadn’t said anything about John being overdue or
needing money. Although neither surprised him. Dean had inherited his
father's idiotic pride and need to appear completely in control of
“I’m outside the motel. Dean told me
not to call anybody. Dad will kill him if he finds out about the
bar…and the fight. But he‘s having trouble breathing…and there’s blood
on the towels in the bathroom.”
Reaves stood, picking up his keys and
wallet from the nightstand. He cast a quick glance over his shoulder,
where Randi hadn’t moved. “Sam, I’m on my way, kiddo. Just sit tight.”
“He waited until I fell asleep to
go…I didn‘t know or I would have gone with him.”
“I don’t think the fake ID would have
worked for you, Runt.” Reaves sighed, slipping out the door,
understanding the kid's self-recrimination. They were all hard-wired
for it. He pulled it closed behind him. “I know you think you’ve left
Captain Crunch and Saturday morning cartoons behind you, but you’re not
even shaving yet. All we need is for you to get busted in a bar.
Children’s Services would be all over it.”
“But what if something bad happens to
him…He wouldn’t let me patch him up.”
Fear had replaced the boy's
frustration and anger. He sounded more like the kid Reaves knew and
less like the moody bundle of hormones Sam had become over the last few
months. “Sammy, your brother is just being his usual pain in the ass,
stubborn self. If he’s being pissy, he can’t be hurt too bad.” When the
kid didn’t reply, Reaves clenched his fists. “Besides, I’m not far from
“Okay. But hurry.”
As Caleb started his Jeep he silently
sent thanks to that little guilt-inflected voice in his head that
convinced him to take a detour to Washington for a quick overdue visit
with his grandfather, Cullen Ames. He had gone to bid a job for TriCorp
in West Virginia. Reaves wasn’t far from D.C., which meant he could be
to Greeneville in under an hour. “I’ll break every speed limit.”
“Don’t tell him I called you.”
“I’m a psychic. I’ll tell him I had a
Caleb often cursed his abilities, but
no more so than when they didn't seem to work in a way that would
prevent those he cared about from being hurt. He ran thoughts of Dean
in his mind, eating up the forty-five minutes it took him to reach the
run-down motel. It didn't get him there any faster.
He wanted to kick down the door. But
more than likely it would result in scaring Sam or receiving a face
full of buckshot. Caleb settled for pounding on the cheep wood door.
The motel was a wreck.
It was just the kind John liked. Out
of the way. On the wrong side of the tracks. Cheap. Perfect for a
hunter. No place for a child. No where in the vicinity of where Caleb's
'nephews' should have been staying. He sent a special curse out for his
Caleb pounded again when his panic
started to override his common sense. He was afraid he might pull his
gun and blow the lock away. "Sammy? Damn it!"
"Caleb?" The voice on the other side
of the door sounded younger and smaller than usual.
"Open up, Runt."
"What's the password?"
"Come on, Sammy. You've got to be
kidding me here."
"If you were a demon, Dean would kill
Reaves rolled his eyes at the
irrefutable yet faulty logic. "If I were a demon I'd probably finish
you off before your big brother had the chance, Einstein."
"Fine." The hunter raked a hand
through his hair, trying to recall the list Dean had told to him the
last time they spoke. He had been in the middle of something for
TriCorp and he was only catching bits and pieces of the conversation.
Funny how you let those little moments slip by, convincing yourself
there would be time for them later on.
The disgusted grunt reeked of fresh
testosterone. "I'm almost thirteen!"
Okay. Sam wanted to do grown-up.
Caleb could do grown-up. "Breasts." He refrained himself from some of
the more colorful terminology. This was still 'Sammy' after all.
The sigh came through loud and clear
through the door. "No."
Maybe Dean had picked it? "Jimmy
"Didn't Dean give you the list?" Sam
Of course Dean had, damn it. But
Reaves couldn't do everything. He was having a hard enough time
juggling a fledgling new business, jobs for Jim and Bobby, and the
extra training John seemed hell-bent to heap on him. Keeping up with
everything was getting harder.
Mackland always said time-management
was one of his weaknesses. Maybe he could cheat, just this once. After
all what good were his abilities if they didn't help someone-namely him.
He reached out and brushed against
Sam's mind. The overwhelming fear rushed through him, emotionally
choking him-like being unexpectedly knocked down and sucked under by a
wave in the ocean. Caleb fucking hated the ocean.
"Hogwarts," he said quickly, needing
to get to Dean. He wasn't sure what the hell a Hogwarts was, but it was
on the genius's mind.
The lock clicked, doorknob turned,
and soon a frowning Sam was glaring at him. "You cheated didn't you."
It was more accusation than interrogative.
Caleb offered a half-hearted grin as
he stepped across the un-breached salt line. He reached out and
mercilessly mussed the boy's hair. "Prove it."
Sam ducked away but not before Caleb
caught the relieved look that crossed his young face. Reaves skirted
around him, headed towards the bed closest to the door. He could
already sense Dean's misery. Even in sleep, the kid was hurting.
"How's he doing?"
"He didn't even move when you
knocked," Sam told Reaves.
They shared a knowing look. If
nothing else that statement revealed a lot about the oldest
Winchester's condition. Dean was always hyper vigilant when he and his
brother were alone. He would never leave Sam unprotected..
Caleb let his gaze go to Dean. The
kid was shivering even under the pile of blankets.
Memories of another time flashed
through his mind and he licked his dry lips. "When did this happen,
The youngest Winchester sat on the
bed near his brother, let his hand rest on the older boy’s chest. "Last
night." He glanced at Reaves. "I tried to get him to go to the
hospital...or at least call Mac. But he said he would be fine after
"Obviously not." Caleb pulled back
the duvet, and cringed. The kid was a fucking mess.
An assorted array of cuts and knicks
maligned Dean’s young face, including a nasty gash on his forehead that
could have been caused by a beer bottle. Dean's lower lip was cracked
and swollen, the faint impression of knuckle-sized bruises decorating
Caleb hesitated in touching him,
afraid of the images that would come-not only Dean’s but his own long
"He can't keep any food or water
down." Sam's frightened gaze had locked once more on his brother's
shivering form. "And he couldn't catch his breath earlier."
Caleb frowned, steeled himself,
reached out and held his fingers against Dean's throat.
The pictures came in fragmented
frames-like spliced film on a third-rate projector. The bar was dark.
There were three of them, another holding Dean from behind for a total
of four soon to be fucked-up sonsofbitches. Caleb bit his lip, forcing
himself back to the current moment.
Dean’s skin was cool and clammy. Not
a good sign by any means, but at least his pulse seemed normal-maybe a
little quick. "When was he last awake?" Caleb asked, resting the back
of his hand against the side of Dean's damaged face. The kid turned
towards the touch, barely muttering something undecipherable.
The twelve-year-old glanced towards
the glowing red numbers on the nightstand. "About nine tonight. I tried
to get him to drink something."
Reaves nodded. There was no time to
waste. There could be hidden injuries much worse than the visible ones.
He let his mind travel back to when he was Dean’s age. Jim had insisted
that John take Caleb to the hospital, no matter how Reaves had assured
his mentor he was fine. Of course it had all been a front. Caleb had
been slightly terrified. He had been banged around before, but never
like that. The phantom ache of his own injuries intensified his need to
get Dean to the hospital. He wondered if John had felt half as
desperate and helpless. Jim had been the calm one; the man always had
his priorities straight. Getting medical attention was more important
that pacifying a scared fifteen-year-old. Caleb could appreciate it
now, back then was another story.
"Should I have called you sooner? Did
I mess up?"
Caleb was once again pulled from the
past and he met Sam’s watery dark eyes. "No.” He would not let the
twelve-year-old feel guilty. “You did good. You listened to your
brother and then when you needed to, you did what you had to do. That's
how it works, kiddo." In the end that’s what John had done. Caleb had
been pissed and relieved, caught between that age when you wanted so
damn badly to look like an adult, but needing just as much to feel the
safety and reassurance of a child.
Reaves dreaded it, but he too was
going to have to do what needed to be done. "Right now, I need you to
get the keys to the Impala and go start her up for me."
"Where are we going?" Sam asked
"To the hospital."
"But, Dad's not here...And there's no
insurance or money."
Caleb squeezed his shoulder. "I got
the money covered, and I'm holding the Uncle Caleb card. It'll be okay,
Sam bit his bottom lip. "Dean's going
to be pissed."
Yeah. But he'd be alive. Caleb
offered the boy a grin. "If we stick together and we can take him."
When Sam still looked unsure, Reaves
turned solemn. "I'll take the blame, Sam. I gave you an order. You
followed it. If nothing else, your big brother understands hunter
protocol." The kid hesitated and Reaves knew he didn't want to leave
Dean's side. "Sam, I need you to get some blankets. You're going to sit
in the back with Dean and keep him warm. We're dealing with a pretty
nasty case of shock here." And God only knew what else.
That seemed to snap the pre-teen out
of his trance and he quickly stood. "He'll be okay. Right, Caleb?"
"Of course he will." Caleb forced
another smile. "This is your stupid big brother we're talking about."
Sam's lower lip trembled and he
looked entirely too much like the five-year-old that could bring the
hardest-assed hunters to their knees. That list unfortunately included
Caleb. "He's a big jerk, but I love him. I don't want him to die."
"That's not going to happen." Caleb
would do whatever it took to make sure of that. He loved the jerk too.
Sam grabbed blankets from the other
bed before collecting the Impala's keys and scurrying out the door.
Reaves transformed to the dreaded lead hunter in charge. "Come on,
Deuce. Time to rise and shine." He roughly patted Dean's uninjured
Dean groaned and tried to curl into a
Caleb clasped his shoulders and held
him still. "Dean!" He snapped in a damn fine John Winchester imitation.
A cross between a whimper and a moan
slipped through the kid's bruised lips and Caleb fought hard to hold in
his rage. Whoever had done this was going to pay. Caleb understood all
too well why John had wanted to tear Ian, Fisher, and Joshua apart.
"That's it, kid. Daylight's a burning."
"Caleb?" The kid blinked, one eye
barely slitting to reveal a bloodshot mess. The other, although working
properly, held confusion and more pain than Caleb wanted to witness.
"What...are you doing here?"
"You were expecting that hot chick
from biology class to come kiss your booboos." Caleb forced a cocky
smirk. He had listened to some of the conversation from a few days
before. "I hate to break it to you, but if Liz is as tasty as you said,
she's not going to go for the 'pummeled by a cement truck' look, Dude."
Dean closed his eyes, grimaced. "You
always say chicks dig scars."
"Scars yes, fresh ground hamburger
meat kind of disfigurement, not so much."
"I'm okay." Dean said weakly, opening
his eyes again, appearing a little more with it. “Looks worse than it
"Sure it does." Caleb shook his head.
When Reaves had taken a beating from his fellow hunters, even the
tiniest of movements had hurt-breathing had been torture. He was pretty
sure it was the same for Dean. "But I'll feel a little bit better when
someone who has been to medical school backs you up on that, Doogie."
"No." Dean frowned. "No doctors."
"Yes." That was the ‘I’m all
grown-up’ sixteen-year-old speaking, but Caleb wasn't in the mood to
argue. They were too damn much alike in some aspects. "Doctors, nurses,
noisy tube-like cylinders to test that mush-filled head of yours.
You're getting treated to the whole gambit, Deuce."
The teen's frown turned to a twisted
glare of defiance. "I'm okay. I told Sammy not to call you."
"I'm psychic. Sam didn't have to call
me." Not really a lie...which is something they vowed never to do. But
more like half truths with some subterfuge thrown in for good measure.
"Although he should have."
Dean's brother radar kicked in
despite being somewhat dulled by injury and he glanced around the room
in a slight panic. "Where's Sam?"
The kid tried to push himself to
sitting, but instead let out a gasp of pain. Caleb swore. "Take it
easy. Sam's fine. He's outside getting the car set up."
Dean didn't reply. He wrapped himself
tighter into a ball, holding his abdomen. Reaves glanced at the phone
wondering if an ambulance was necessary. "Deuce?" He laid his hand on
the boy's hair. "Just breathe, okay."
"Hurts." Dean's answer was muffled by
The word sent a shot of blazing fury
through Caleb's chest, down to his gut where it ignited white hot in
the pit of his stomach. The kid rarely admitted to any kind of physical
pain, another John Winchesterism they all seemed to inherit.
Reaves ran his hand over the teen's
short blond locks again, hoping to provide comfort. "What hurts,
kiddo?" He'd need to pass along the information to the doctors, and
know if it was okay to move him.
"My side." Dean gasped, his breath
coming in hard pants. "Chest, back..." He choked on a laugh that held
no trace of humor. Maybe it was a restrained sob. "Easier... to tell
you... what doesn't." The boy swallowed painfully. “Can’t…breathe.”
“Sure you can.” Caleb exhaled
heavily, his hand stilling on Dean's head. "Short breaths, Deuce. You
know the drill. Busted ribs don't like drama."
"You're... all love, Damien." Dean
griped, but he was looking at Caleb and his breathing started to even
Caleb looked down when Dean’s fingers
twisted in the folds of his shirt. There was the little boy who needed
an anchor, rearing its head. The ache to know someone was there to make
things right, and provide protection from the pain even through the
overriding voice to suck it up and take it like a man.
The psychic clenched his jaw as his
mind once again conjured images of himself at the same age, clutching
to John Winchester as Bobby drove like a madman to get them to the
Reaves shoved the memories away,
swallowed down the bile at the back of his throat. "Let's see what you
got yourself into."
Caleb didn't wait for the kid to
consent, before gently prying Dean's arm away from his midsection. He
lifted the faded t-shirt from his body. More bruises and swollen skin
greeted him. Reaves winced right along with Dean when he laid sensitive
fingers against the rigid, hot skin along the right side of the teen's
ribs. It looked bad. Really bad.
“Caleb?” Sam spoke up from the
doorway. “Are we going?”
The kid’s patience had obviously worn
thin waiting in the car. He took a hesitant step into the room, but
Caleb stopped him with a look. “We’re coming.” Reaves tried to recall
Mackland's impromptu first aid lectures about internal bleeding,
bruised kidneys, and perferated ograns. All the information seemed to
jumble together in the psychic's head mixing badly with both his and
Dean's turbulent emotions.
The soft voice and cold, clammy hand
wrapped around his wrist snapped Caleb to the present. “For what?" He
found his own voice cracking under the strain as he regained his mental
footing and looked down at Dean.
"I didn't pay attention...broke the
first rule…got cocky. I was winning...didn't notice they had buddies. I
Caleb had apologized to John also all
those years ago-tried to tell him that a particularly nasty poltergeist
had gotten the drop on him. Told John it was his fault-just as Dean was
willing to accept the blame that wasn’t his. “That’s okay, kid. We’re
going to get you fixed up.” Reaves bent lower, slid an arm underneath
Dean's shoulders, another beneath his knees. It was an awkward way to
move someone, and Dean would be mortified later, but he couldn't risk a
fireman's carry. "Your pals in the bar won't notice me either."
If Dean picked up on the veiled
threat to those who had worked him over he didn't comment, or he was in
too much pain from the jostling to respond. Caleb wasn't sure which. It
didn’t matter. Reaves would get Dean taken care of, and then he would
take care of the men who had hurt him.
Dean was taken to an examination room
immediately. Reaves refused to be bullied into waiting in the ER and he
glared at the intern who tried to pry Sam’s hand from his brother’s.
“How long has he been like this?” A young resident came to tend to
Dean. From the harried expression to the sleep-deprived eyes, he was a
walking poster child for residency hell 101.
“It happened late yesterday.” Caleb
realized that yesterday was technically only a few hours ago, but the
physician seemed to understand his timeline.
“And you’re just now bringing him in?”
Caleb bit back on the colorful reply,
instead focusing on what he knew. “He’s been having chest, back and
abdominal pain. His breathing’s been labored, too.”
The doctor continued to frown but
refocused on Dean, who was concentrating on the fluorescent lights
above. He roughly took hold of Dean’s chin and pulled his pen light.
“What’s his name?”
“I’m not unconscious.” Dean ground
out, wincing as his injured eye was pried open and assaulted with what
felt like a solar flare.
The physician prodded the swollen
laceration skirting the sixteen-year-old’s hair line and snorted. “From
the size of this lump that’s dumb luck, kid.”
“Dean.” Sam answered, as his brother
was being assaulted by the pen light again. “His name is Dean and he’s
sixteen. He’s allergic to penicillin.”
They had been through the routine
before. Sam glanced to Caleb, who nodded. “Some kids were picking on me
and Dean stopped them.”
“Sammy…” Dean started only to be cut
off by a yelp of pain as the physician turned his none too gentle hands
to the teen’s abdomen. The physician seemed unfazed as he continued his
rough examination, pressing on bruised flesh, causing Dean to arch off
the examination table.
Caleb’s iron grip closed around the
doctor’s wrist and he wedged his six foot two frame between the
resident and Dean. “He’s not some fucking cadaver from anatomy lab.
Take it easy or find us someone who didn’t barely pass medical school.”
“Is there a problem?” An older man in
a white coat approached the trio, his bushy silver brows rose slightly
as he gave the resident a critical appraisal. “Daniels?”
Daniels jerked his arm free of
Reaves’s and shook his head. “No problem, Dr. Jones.”
“Why is a child back here?” The man
gestured to Sam and then shot Caleb a hard look. “And who are you?”
“I’m not leaving my brother.” Sam
gave the new doctor the briefest of glares, showing his distaste for
the man’s terminology. “Not with this jerk.”
“Daniels, why don’t you help Mercer
with the cardiac arrest in five, I’ll take care of this.”
The resident gave Caleb a withered
look as he removed his plastic gloves and tossed them in the trashcan.
“Be my guest.”
“Tell me he’s not one of your best
and brightest.” Reaves looked at Dr. Jones. “That wouldn’t speak very
highly of your hospital.”
The older man took his own torture
light out and started to examine Dean. “Residents behave better when
they have slept and eaten. We’ve been rather busy and short-staffed.”
He moved his eyes to the wound on Dean’s forehead, took in the
butterfly bandages with an amused quirk of his brow. “But it seems you,
young man, have had a hard time of it also.”
“What makes you think that?” Dean
licked his lips. “I was actually having a good time before Bones got a
hold of me.”
“Dean.” Caleb breathed. “Cut it out.”
“I take it he behaves better when
he’s not been beaten to hell?”
Reaves snorted. “No. He’s pretty much
the same smart ass you’re seeing now.”
“And what’s this rather large tumor
attached to your side?” Dr. Jones asked, momentarily cutting his eyes
Dean closed his eyes when the doctor
raised his shirt, but still managed a smirk. “That would be my little
“Sam.” The twelve-year-old corrected,
eliciting a wink and knowing grin from the doctor.
“No respect, huh?”
Sam sighed. “None what-so-ever. They
still think I’m five.”
“The plight of little brothers
everywhere, I’m afraid.” Jones glanced to Reaves. “Being the oldest has
its perks as well as pitfalls.”
“Yeah.” Caleb placed a hand on Dean’s
shoulder as the physician nodded to the boy’s injured side. He could
still feel the minute shivers and wished, not for the first time, he
could simply switch places with the teen.
Although much more gentle, Jones’s
examination had the sixteen-year-old clenching his jaw, his hand
tightening in Sam’s grip. Caleb cleared his throat as he watched one
pain-induced tear slip from beneath Dean’s long lashes. “How’s he
doing, Doc?” He asked hoping to quicken the process.
Jones removed his hands much to
everyone’s relief. “I want to get him down to radiology. I don’t think
those ribs are broken and there doesn’t appear to be any severe
bleeding going on inside; but I want to make sure.” He looked at Caleb.
“After all, letting your little brother bleed to death wouldn’t speak
very highly of my hospital. Now would it?”
Caleb didn’t correct the doctor’s
assumption. “No. It wouldn’t.” He let the implication that it would go
very badly for Dr. Jones as well remain unspoken.
“Yeah?” Caleb grabbed the phone
before it could wake the sleeping occupants of the room, speaking
softly for the same reason. Red-tinged morning light was barely
starting to seep thorough the closed blinds of the hospital room. It
had to be early.
John’s voice came across the line,
weary-filled and sharp as glass. “Caleb?”
Caleb pinched the bridge of his nose.
He could feel a headache building. John picked a hell of a time to
check in. “Hey, Johnny. How goes the hunt?”
“What the hell are you doing
answering Dean’s phone? What’s wrong?”
Reaves bit back a jaw-popping yawn
and attempted to separate Sam’s head from his shoulder without waking
the boy. Caleb eased himself off the cot, putting a pillow in his
vacated spot. Sam twitched slightly but settled as the psychic
stealthily moved away.
“Nothing’s wrong. The boys are still
asleep. I was closest to the phone.” It was the truth. Sort of.
Reaves cast a quick glance to the cot
Dean’s nice nurse, Helen had brought in for Sam. The kid had fought
sleep tooth and nail-wanting to be awake when his brother was brought
down from radiology. The fact he’d finally given in was evident to the
lack of sleep the twelve-year-old got the night before. “Some of us
don’t get up at the butt crack of dawn, jarhead.”
“I just finished the gig I was
working on” Caleb grimaced at their unbelievable bad luck, slid a hand
over his face. “Why are you in Maryland? I thought you were going to
work that white stag thing with Bobby?”
Caleb snorted. He had almost
forgotten about that. “A mythical white stag? Come on, next you'll be
telling me that animals talk too.”
Winchester cleared his throat. Reaves
crossed the room to stand by Dean’s bedside as he listened to his
mentor grumble obscenities. The kid was out of it when they brought him
back to the room. He fought the pain medicine long enough to make sure
Sam was settled and to ask Caleb not to tell John. Beg was more like it.
“Three motorists have been hurt
because of that thing, Kid.”
Winchester was lecturing and Caleb
found himself nodding, despite the fact John couldn’t see. “They should
be paying attention to the road.”
“Damn it, Junior.”
“Why don’t you give Bobby a hand?
Aren’t you pretty close?” Caleb watched the steady rise and fall of
Dean’s chest. There was no serious internal bleeding, no broken bones,
but the doctor said he needed to stay at least overnight for
observation. Then the bruises on his face would need time to heal or at
least fade. They could hide the rest easy enough-blame it on sparring.
“I might stick around here for awhile.” There was no way Caleb was
“You’re volunteering to babysit?”
Reaves could hear the suspicion.
“It’s not exactly babysitting
anymore. It’s kind of like hanging out. I could use the downtime.”
“I thought you were swamped with
work?” The doubt was still there. “Isn’t that the excuse you gave me
when I wanted you to do a week of maneuvers?”
“Maneuvers? Jesus, Johnny, I don’t
remember signing up for the Reserves.” Reaves rolled his eyes. John’s
maneuvers were a twisted version of supernatural boot camp. They would
roam around the mountains in full combat gear complete with swords,
salt, holy water, and paint guns.
It was not Caleb’s idea of fun, but
he hadn’t been lying about being too busy. “I prefer my vacations
include five-star accommodations and some scantily dressed females.
Being forced to sleep in a mildewed tent with Bobby in his skivvies is
not my idea of a good time. I needed some real downtime. You know me.”
“Yeah. I know you.” There was only a
slight pause. “Which leads to the question what the hell are you and
Dean up to?”
Caleb sighed. “I’m hurt, man.” He
watched Dean closely. The teen’s jaw clenched under too pale skin, one
hand fisted in the sheet. “You think I would corrupt your son?” Caleb
wished Dean was up to some harmless fun.
“Hell yes. I remember the field trip
to the Red Caboose.” Reaves heard the heavy exhale, then. “You sure
“Everything’s fine. We’re all okay.”
Caleb said more to Dean than John. He let his hand rest on the teen’s
hair, ran his thumb over Dean’s forehead until the lines of distress
Caleb refocused on John. “Or at least
we will be when you stop yelling and let me get back to sleep.”
Winchester was close to taking the bait, was almost there-almost ready
for the door to be sprung. “Everything, including your favorite grunt,
will be even better if you cut me a break and give me an excuse to
escape reality for a few days.”
“You really want to hang out there?
Let me take the job with Singer?”
“Yes.” Caleb smelled victory.
“Sounds like you’re slacking to me,
“No.” Caleb’s voice lost the humorous
tone. “I’m just prioritizing.” Something the man on the other end
didn't seem to know about.
“All right.” John laughed, oblivious
to the younger hunter’s change in tone. Reaves couldn’t even muster the
energy to remain pissed at him. “Tell the boys I’ll check-in, in a few
“Right.” Caleb removed his touch from
Dean, satisfied the kid was once again in a more restful sleep, away
from the pain. He raked the hand through his own dark hair. “About
that, Johnny…I was thinking we might head out to D.C. Drop in on
“You want to take the boys to your
grandfather’s? You sure that’s a good idea?”
“Are you kidding? Cullen will love
it.” It was true. The old man had a soft-spot for wayward teens. And
Dean could recuperate somewhere besides that hellhole John called
adequate living quarters. Plus, Sam would get a kick out of all the
tourist stops and museums. He deserved a break too. “We’ll take the
brainiac to the Smithsonian and check out the memorials.”
“And Cullen Ames is going to be okay
with you three apes crashing his place?”
“The man lives in a mansion, Johnny.
We could show up and he'd not even know it. He has staff to handle
anything we destroy. But trust me, he’ll eat it up. The last time we
were there he was trying to talk Sammy into studying corporate law and
he thinks Dean has my head for business. You know he’s hoping to mold
one of us into the next CEO of Ames Enterprises.”
“You have a head for business?”
Caleb scoffed at the sarcasm. “Damn
straight. A head for business and a body for sin.”
“Just make sure that sinful body
doesn’t take my boys anywhere they have no business being.”
Reaves cast a glance at Dean’s
battered face again. Like hustling pool for money in some sleazy bar?
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Johnny. I’ve got my priorities straight.
“Yeah. Your priorities just landed me
Ditto. “We can call it even.”
The silence of the ended call was the
only reply and Caleb claimed a perch on the edge of Dean’s bed with a
heavy sigh. “Thanks to me your old man has an appointment with one of
Santa’s albino reindeer. You should be good as new before he blows back
into town. One problem solved.”
Reaves laid a hand on the boy’s leg,
reaching out telepathically to brush against the younger man’s mind. He
filtered through thoughts and feelings until he found the images he was
looking for. “Now to take care of the rest.”
After each face was memorized he
opened his eyes. Caleb smiled wearily and continued his one-sided
conversation. “What are me, you and the runt going to do, you ask?
We’re going to visit D.C. in style. Your old friends from the bar are
going to foot the bill with all that hard-earned money they stole from
Before Caleb made them pay for each
bruise on Dean, before he inflicted a just amount of retribution for
every ounce of pain the kid had suffered over the last couple of days,
Reaves was going to take every bit of their money. After all, Caleb had
his priorities straight.
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