Crucifixion and Kryptonite: An Easter Story

By: Ridley C. James

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

John 15:13, The Holy Bible


"Why did we kill Jesus?"

Desperate green eyes sought out Caleb Reaves and the sixteen year old pretended to be completely engrossed in his task of untying the hay bale in front of him. He felt for Dean, he really did, but wanted no part of this particular explanation.

"Did you hear me, Dean?" At almost four, Sam Winchester had thankfully outgrown the gross dirty diaper stage. Also gone were his fat toddler legs and pudgy fingers that had characterized his terrible two's, along with the disgusting habit of putting anything and absolutely everything in his mouth. Sam's new thing however was questions. Daunting, unrelenting, never-ending, often unexplainable, why is the sky blue and what makes the grass green kinds of questions. "Sam Winchester wants to know why we killed Jesus."

"Sam Winchester needs to learn to use his pronouns," Caleb muttered under his breath. Sam referring to himself in third person was also a new facet, one that was humorous only because it drove the boy's father absolutely insane. Caleb's dad, the great neurosurgeon and dabbling child psychiatrist Mackland Ames had instructed everyone not to draw attention to the oddity, assuring them, mostly John, that it would pass with time; just as the potty training issues and Sam carrying around Atticus Finch's squirrel squeaky toy in his mouth had blessedly passed.

"You're not helping, Damien." The little boy by his side elbowed Caleb, the jade gaze becoming more imploring. Dean hadn't been much older than Sam when he and Caleb first met three years before. In contrast to his brother, Dean rarely asked random questions, but that didn't mean he didn't have them. Gut churning, chest clenching, kick a guy in the balls kinds of questions. Thanks to Caleb's psychic ability he heard them all, even if thanks to Dean's more quiet nature no one else did.

"You're the big brother, Deuce."Caleb bumped the kid's shoulder. It was his go to reply when something came up with Sam that Caleb felt out of his realm, or beneath his status of semi-adult. In the past this had included changing of said gross dirty diapers, removing disgusting things from the kid's mouth, and now answering loaded questions which held potential to land him in hot water. Caleb picked up the pitch fork, making sure both Winchesters were out of the way before jabbing it into the hay. "I default to your judgment on this one."

Caleb wasn't about to say what he was thinking, that people were pretty much crazy, crazy now, just as crazy nearly two thousand years ago when they nailed people to crosses to shame them for the most despicable of crimes. After all, his frankness had landed him in the current situation of mucking horse stalls on Pastor Jim's farm during his spring break.

"That's a hard question, Sammy," Dean tried.

"Why is it hard?" Sam was sitting in the middle of the barn floor having corralled a duckling between his jean-clad legs. The little ball of yellow fluff was peep-peeping its displeasure, no doubt hoping to rejoin its brothers and sisters at the pond. Atticus Finch's big rust head was draped over Sam's knee, allowing the dog access to the waddling baby, which he took great pleasure in snuffling with his big wet nose. Even Moses the elusive barn cat lowered his feline standards, indulging their human presence in order to inspect the newcomer. He did so at a safe distance away from Sam from atop one of the feed barrels, like a hungry lion eyeing prey from a grassy knoll.

"Because it's complicated." Dean picked up the horses' feed bucket and filled it with grain. The Winchesters, who Caleb had been charged with the task of watching for the morning by their dad who woke Caleb up before the sun fully rose had enthusiastically agreed to assist the teen with his tasks, although Sam and his questions were proving to be more hindrance than help.

"How is it complicated, Dean?" Sam was not dissuaded. He stood, much to Atticus's displeasure, carefully picking the duckling up cupping it close to his chest like Dean had instructed. Obviously Caleb's hope that if he gave Sam a charge of his own to look after, he might keep the four year old occupied was a foolish one.

"I don't know. It just is." Caleb watched Dean shrug his shoulders before dumping a few scoops of grain into the pail. The older Winchester did not typically brush his little brother's questions aside, or make up ridiculously preposterous answers as Bobby Singer was prone to do when what Sam was asking required too much mental effort on the mechanic's part. Dean was painfully precise and usually undertook each query with a serious countenance beyond his years. It made Caleb feel guilty for the times when he went above and beyond to dodge what he knew the eight year old wanted to ask him.

"What does that mean?" Sam came to stand by his big brother, looking from the grain in the bucket to the little duckling.

"It means maybe you should just ask Pastor Jim." Dean pointed at the baby duck. "And just like I told you about the jelly beans, horse feed isn't good for the duck."

"When can I ask him?" Sam clutched the duckling closer, tucking it protectively inside his blue jean jacket as if he hadn't been considering giving the baby a quick snack. Sam's thoughtfulness had already scored Atticus a pack of Jim's treasured purple colored Peeps. The pastor had a fetish for the demented Easter candy and pieces of the marshmallow-like substance and their crystallized purple sugar coating still stuck to the fur around the Retriever's snout. It would make incriminating evidence later when the Pastor questioned Caleb about his dwindling stash and how well he was watching the boys. Jim would most likely not give Caleb points on barely rescuing Sam's chocolate bunny from the yellow beast.

"When he gets back." Dean moved to One in a Million's empty stall and portioned out her breakfast before moving to Fat Chance's and doing the same.

"Where'd he go?" Sam nuzzled the duck's downy head with his chin; in return the duckling plucked at the long hair curling around Sam's neck. Moses had left higher ground without Caleb noticing and was now weaving in and out of Sam's legs, rubbing his wiry body along the kid's shins with a loud purr.

Dean looked to Caleb and the teen shrugged. "John said something about him going into town, probably to work on his Easter sermon for tomorrow." Escaped was more like it. Jim was gone way before Caleb arose, hence the less than chipper wake-up blast from The Knight and the fact the boys had not even had breakfast yet.

"When will he be back?" Now Sam looked to Caleb.

"Soon, if he doesn't want us to starve." Jim had promised them pancakes and the pastor despite being a grownup had yet to disappoint Caleb in the telling the truth department.

"What about Dad?" Dean asked, and Caleb felt that familiar knot start to twist inside his gut. "Did he say when he would be back?"

"Dude, The Knight doesn't really see the need to keep his lowly squire in the loop, but I got the picture he might be working on a new hunt." Which meant Dean shouldn't hold his breath for John to be back in time for the big Easter egg hunt Jim was promising the boys after church services tomorrow afternoon. Caleb was so glad in that moment that Dean was different than his brother, that he swallowed down the 'Why would he do that' Caleb knew was burning in the little boy's thoughts.

"Why didn't Pastor Jim work in the library like he did yesterday?" Sam redirected the conversation back to him. His lips pursed, his brow wrinkling as if Caleb was a less than credible witness he was cross-examining on the stand. The disappointed scowl elevated Caleb's guilty conscience right along with his frustration.

"My guess would be because no one's going to be banging into the rectory every five minutes to ask him a thousand annoying questions," the teen growled, shoveling the straw quicker.

"Why not?"

The look on Caleb's face, or maybe the way he was taking pleasure in stabbing the remaining pile of hay must have prompted Dean to resume his role as answerer of all things Sam. "He locks the door, Sammy."

"But Pastor Jim says the door to God's house is always open."

"That doesn't include Jim's office."

"People could still call him. Pastor Jim has a phone in his office. It rang a lot the time I visited him there," Sam challenged, peering up at his brother under his too long bangs and a fluttering of dark lashes. "Can Sam Winchester call him?"

"That's it, Runt." Caleb finally decided he must come to Dean's rescue when he could sense Dean weighing the prospects of humoring Sam and explaining to his father why he'd bothered the pastor with a 'non-emergency'. He tossed the last bundle of hay into the empty horse stall, placing the pitch fork back in its rightful corner. "You have just used how, what, when, where, why and now can all in a matter of like two minutes. I'd say that's your quota on questions for the day."

Dark eyes turned on him. The duckling let out a loud peep. Atticus whined fretfully as if Sam was playing keep away with his treasured squirrel squeaky. Moses yawned widely showing his impressive set of mouse-slaying teeth. "What's a quota?"

"It means you need to be quiet now," Dean said before Caleb could respond. "No more questions."

Sam harrumphed. "Mac says questions are good."

"That's because Mac is a grown up. He knows everything," Dean explained, momentarily cutting his gaze to Caleb. "Damien is just a kid, like us."

"I'm not a kid." Caleb realized that the fact he'd just made that declaration with arms folded over his chest and a little stomp of his foot made him look to be exactly what Dean was claiming.

"Does Caleb not know anything?" Sam asked his brother in an exasperated tone.

"Dad says he doesn't know much." Dean was looking less put upon by the minute and Caleb was regretting coming to his aide.

"I know stuff," Caleb snapped. "Lots of stuff."

"Do you know why we killed Jesus?" Sam asked.

"No!" Caleb shook his head. "I mean, yes, but that's not the point."

"What is the point?"

"The point is you both are really getting on my nerves." The duckling continued to peep, increasing Atticus's frantic whimpers. Moses was now crouched in what looked suspiciously like pounce mode. Caleb glared at Dean, who at this point was not bothering to hide his grin. "Not to mention your two furry side-kicks."

"Ducks have feathers, not fur." Sam said, slowly. He glanced up at Dean. "Caleb really doesn't know anything."

"Maybe we should go wash up for breakfast." Dean grabbed his little brother's free hand, tugging him towards the barn door. Obviously Dean knew a lot of things, like the thresholds of a teenage boy's patience. "Pastor Jim will be here soon."

"That sounds like a smart idea, but first, Deuce take that thing back to where it belongs before Atticus tries to nurse it or Moses has it as a snack."Caleb pointed to the duckling cradled in Sam's arm and then directly to Sam. "I'm also not explaining to Jim why his bathtub has been transformed into a temporary duck pond. Don't even pretend like Sam Winchester wasn't thinking about it."

"You're the one who thought it was a good idea to let him take it." Dean stopped short of opening the door, glowering at the older boy. "Why do I have to bring it back?"

"Because I still have to get the horses in from the field." Caleb re-folded his arms over his chest, straightening to his full height, which he was proud to note was practically a whole inch taller than at Christmas. Dean didn't look as impressed or as frightened as he should have. "And I'm bigger than you. I happen to be the grown-up in charge."

"That's not fair." Dean mimicked the teen's stance, proving he might be smaller in stature but had no shortage in the stubbornness department.

"Well Kid we both know life isn't a shitload of fair." It was his go to answer when he didn't have any better foundation to stand on; one Bobby Singer had provided him with years ago.

"Tell me about it." Dean muttered.

It wasn't the kid's tone that had Caleb sighing, regretting his irritability, but the flash of feeling he caught from Dean as the kid continued to glare at him, his green eyes brighter than a moment before. Dean had thought their week-long hiatus at the farm would include his father, and Caleb was painfully remiss in trying to make up for the fact he didn't have the answers that would make Dean feel better.

"Come on, Deuce. Do this one thing for me. Please." Caleb tilted his head, cracking a half smile. "We'll squeeze in a game of checkers before breakfast and I'll let you win."

"Like you have any choice but to lose." Dean snorted."Uncle Bobby says you wouldn't know strategy if it was a snake and bit you."

"Fine." Caleb feigned resignation, which wasn't hard in a family where a guy got lots of practice in being humbled. "I'll buy you a cookie."

After a long moment, Dean's scowl softened. "Make it two cookies and we have a deal."

"Three," Sam interjected, knowing from experience his big brother was looking out for him and returning the gesture in kind. "Atticus loves cookies, too."

"Two." Caleb countered. "Like I explained earlier as I pried the remains of your bunny's ear from Atticus' foul mouth, chocolate is not good for dogs."

Dean's grin returned, relieving some of Caleb's self-inflicted guilt. "See, Sammy, Caleb does know something."

"I know you better get moving if you know what's good for you." Caleb took a menacing step forward and Dean rushed out of the barn, little brother in tow. The sixteen year old would never hurt either boy but as long as they didn't know that he could still use his size and the threat of an imminent pummeling to his advantage. He was still congratulating himself on his prowess for all things Winchester and his record time in corralling the horses when Sam's high pitched scream broke the early morning quiet.

Fat Chance and One in a Million continued to eat, but Caleb's stomach gave a lurch as dread stirred in him like the rustling of dried leaves caught up in a strong gale. A chill had Caleb breaking out in goose flesh though the morning was unusually warm for early spring. This time when Sam's scream included Caleb's name and was punctuated by the slamming of the screen door, Fat Chance and One in a Million lifted their heads in tandem, snorting, hoofs stomping the ground as if they sensed Caleb's fear.

"Caleb!" Sam cried again.

Caleb turned and took off running out of the barn, calculating all the worst case scenarios he could imagine befalling the Winchesters. He met Sam half way to the house. "Sammy, what's wrong?"

Even as Caleb asked the question he knew Dean was hurt, felt it across the connection that bound him to the eight year old. It was still a strange sensation, this being tethered to another, knowing not just what they were thinking, which the teen was learning could be a great advantage both in hunting and in maneuvering the adolescent social landscape, but what they were feeling. The feeling part could at times be more curse than blessing. The vivid link he shared with Dean was a prime example. It was relatively new, since Christmas when he'd lost the boy at Rockefeller Center in a mass of people. In sheer panic, Caleb had unconsciously reached out his mind for the kid. The good part was that he found Dean, the not so good part; he also discovered a whole other dimension to his abilities.

"Dean's bleeding." The four year old started to cry holding out his arms for Caleb to pick him up. "You have to help."

"Shh, it's okay." Caleb scooped up Sam and jogged for the house. He couldn't focus this power, although Missouri Mosley had promised him in one of her 'psychic' lessons that it would become a useful tool someday, one he would come to greatly appreciate with time. Right now it did nothing but frighten Caleb. It pulsed with a life of its own. Fear. Pain. Worry. Emotions that weren't his own, Dean's emotions pinged off of him like hail striking the ground during the summer thunderstorms here at Jim's farm.


"I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"What happened?" Caleb was never so glad to see somebody on their feet and conscious as he was to see Dean standing by the kitchen sink when he and Sam burst through the back door.

"It slipped." Dean's voice choked with tears, a sure sign that things were not as kosher as they might seem. Caleb took his eyes off the eight year old long enough to scan the kitchen for nefarious creatures, something that would have prompted the rare reaction. The farm was supposedly safe from supernatural attack, but Caleb had been led to believe his boyhood home by the sea was safe as well.

"It's not Dean's fault." Sam pointed to the culprit and Caleb was relieved to find Jim's cookie jar in pieces at Dean's feet.

"Shit." Caleb let out the breath he was holding.

"You said you would buy us a cookie!" Sam squirmed to be let down. "Dean was only going to get two."

"It's alright, Sammy." Caleb put the four year old on one of the chairs, telling him to stay put before moving to Dean's side. "Dean's not in trouble."

"I'm sorry," Dean said again when Caleb knelt in front of him, careful of the broken mess.

"Hey, Deuce, it's okay. No big deal. Jim probably has a couple of these stashed around."

"You have to help him," Dean shook his head.

For a moment Caleb was thrown by the pronoun, afraid Dean was picking up his little brother's habit of referring to himself in the third person, but then he spied Atticus hunched by the stove, his head conspicuously in the corner. Caleb briefly entertained the idea the dog might be hurt but another glance told the truth of the matter. Mr. Finch was quickly feasting on the edible carnage away from prying eyes.

"Atticus? He's fine." Caleb looked down at the shards of ceramic and glass, then back to Dean. He forced a grin, catching the little boy's eye. "I'd say Jim's cookie jar took the worst of it."

"No." Dean pointed to the broken pieces of cookie littering the Linoleum. That's when Caleb saw the blood. It was running in impossibly bright rivulets of red down the kid's arm. "You said chocolate was like poison for dogs, that it would make them sick. I tried to get the cookies up, but Atticus was too fast."

"Those aren't chocolate chips," Sam said from his brother's side. "Sam Winchester ate all the chocolate chips. Those are oatmeal raisens-Atticus Finch's favorite."

"Sammy, stay back!" Caleb prevented the four year old from coming into the landmine of fragments Dean was standing in. Both boys still had their mud-covered shoes on from their trip to return the duck to the pond, but for once Caleb didn't care if he had to mop up after them. He was thankful for the protection. Still, one Winchester was bleeding and he wasn't about to risk the other.

"But Dean..." Sam sniffed.

"Dean is okay," Caleb said, but didn't quite manage to keep the tremor out of his voice or his hand from shaking when he reached for Dean. "Right, Deuce?"

"You sure Atticus is okay?" Dean dodged Caleb's attempt to touch him, bringing his hand up to wipe the tears from his face now that he understood he hadn't poisoned the pooch. Blood from Dean's fingers smeared across his cheek, along his chin. Caleb broke out in a sweat, his heart pounding so hard in his chest he worried Sam might hear it from where he had backed away from the mess.

"I'm not worried about Atticus." Caleb was aware he sounded pissed as he caught Dean's wrist this time, pulling the boy closer. The only one he was mad at was himself. He focused on Dean's hand, his wound a priority over the insane desire to wash Dean's face, to erase all signs of Caleb's failure to protect him from sight. "I'm worried about you. What did you do?"

"I told you I was trying to pick up the cookies," Dean flinched when Caleb turned his hand over. There was a deep jagged gash running about three inches across the fleshy part of the kid's palm. "I grabbed a piece of glass instead."

"Damn it, Deuce." Caleb shook his head, blinking as the sweet copper smell of Dean's blood hit him. He'd smelled blood before, had been practically covered in the stuff after his first hard kill this past winter, but not once had it affected him this way.

"I'm sorry." Dean tried to pull away, obviously misreading Caleb's sudden clenched jaw as a sign of anger when in reality it was the teen's valiant attempt to keep from throwing up.

"Sammy, get me a dish towel." Caleb gestured to the drawer on the other side of the sink, reclaiming his wits enough to do what needed to be done. Stop the bleeding. Bandage the wound. Then fall apart. "Walk around the glass."

Sam tossed him two, his eyes once more glued to his big brother. "Is Dean going to bleed to out?"

"Bleed out?" Caleb swore as he held Dean's hand up to the light to make sure there was no glass imbedded in the cut. New blood continued to well in the gash, dripping onto Jim's floor. He carefully placed the towel over the wound. "Where the hell..."

"Last trip to Uncle Bobby's." Dean explained, glancing up at Caleb with a pained look that had nothing to do with his hand. "Silas and some man named Sawyer had a run in with a Chupacabra. I took Sammy in the back room, but..."

"But the palace walls at Casa de Bobby are paper thin." Caleb forced himself to smile. "I've picked up some of my best nightmare material from time spent there. Not to mention bed bugs, fleas, a few of the finer four letter words in my vocabulary."

"Like love?" Sam asked, wrapping his arm around Atticus who had finished his unscheduled breakfast and was now trying to look completely contrite and apologetic with ears laid back and dropped head.

The completely wrong, but perfectly Sam answer elicited a snort from Dean. The eight year looked up at Caleb and rolled his eyes at his little brother's naivety as if he were decades ahead in the brutal truth department. "More like help."

"Ain't that the truth, Dude." Caleb was feeling slightly better until Dean jerked, whimpering when he applied direct pressure to the wound.

"I'm sorry," Caleb promised. "I know it sucks, but I have to stop the bleeding."

"It's okay, I've been hurt worse."

The completely wrong, but perfectly Dean answer had Caleb convulsively swallowing, trying to keep down whatever remained from last night's midnight raid of the kitchen. He wasn't sure if it was the lone tear that trailed down the eight year olds face, the smell that was still waging a full frontal assault on his senses, or the fact he could now feel the warm wetness of Dean's blood as it seeped through the towel, but Caleb felt like he was going to pass out. Only the thoughts of how his face planting would frighten the boys kept him upright.

"This might need stitches, Deuce" He heard himself mutter as if he had ascended from his body, was watching the scene from a safe distance. Thoughts of cleaning the wound and sliding a needle through Dean's skin had the room spinning. Caleb blinked as a wave of heat rushed through him. His mouth watered.

"Damien, are you alright?"

Caleb would have laughed at the worry in Dean's voice if he hadn't been completely focused on staying conscience. He didn't know what the hell was wrong with him, but the sound of Jim Murphy's voice was nearly his complete undoing.

"My goodness, boys, what's happened here?"

"Caleb wasn't watching us or Atticus very good."

The sixteen year old ignored the fact Sam easily fed him to the wolves, letting go of Dean and jumping to his feet as soon as Jim was in his line of sight. "He's bleeding."

"I see that, but..."

Caleb didn't give the pastor time to finish, turning to head for the back staircase that would take him to the second level of the old house. He took the steps two at a time, reaching the bathroom between his and the boys' room just as the heaving hit him. Caleb dropped to his knees in front of the toilet willing his heart to slow down, the convulsing in his stomach to ease. He felt like he'd been poisoned. When his body had given all it had, the dry heaves took over leaving him spent with a burning throat and watery eyes. The cool seat of the commode felt almost heavenly against his pounding head.

"Son, are you alright?"

His father's voice startled him. Caleb turned to find the doctor taking up nearly all the space in the doorway. For a moment he wondered if it wasn't a cruel apparition conjured by a mixture of his imagination and childish desire for his father to save him from this current misery.


Mac crossed the tiny room, his hand first gripping Caleb's shoulder, then moving to his forehead. "You're sick?"

"How did you get here?" Caleb rasped, his throat feeling as if he'd swallowed pieces of Jim's demolished cookie jar.

"Jim picked me up at the airport." Mac moved to the sink, filled a paper cup with water which he handed to the teen. "Didn't Johnathan explain?"

"I was half asleep." Caleb sat back on his heels, took a tentative drink. He downed the rest when the liquid wasn't quite as tortuous as acid going down. The taxi service explained the pastor's lateness. Louisville was a good hour away.

"I'm glad you're here, Dad." Caleb met his father's gaze. "Dean's hurt."

"Jim's cleaning the wound." Mac wet a wash cloth, placed it along the back of the teen's neck. "I'll take a closer look when he's done, add a few stitches if they're needed. Right now, I'm more worried about you."

It was the same words Caleb told Dean earlier and the memory of the boy's blood had him groaning, wrapping an arm around his stomach.

"Caleb?" Mac's voice was insistent, full of concern that Caleb didn't deserve. "What is it?"

"Dean's blood." Caleb managed to lift his head, met his father's worried gray eyes. "There's something wrong with it, Dad."

"What?" The doctor kneeled by the teenager. "I don't understand."

"It looks different, smells different. My senses went on overload when I saw it. My head was pounding like when I have a vision." Caleb reached out and gripped his dad's wrist for support and because a physical connection strengthened his abilities. Reading Mac was harder because of his blocks. "What aren't you telling me? Is there something wrong with him? Am I picking up on some kind of danger, some sign he's sick?"

"Oh, Caleb." Mac put a hand on top of Caleb's, his fingers tightening in reassurance. "There's nothing wrong with Dean's blood. He's fine. I promise."

"Then, what?" Caleb shook his head, pulling his hand away from his father. "Is there something wrong with me?"

"The only thing wrong with you is that you're human, you have human weaknesses, one of which is seeing someone you love very much be hurt."

"I'm not just some average Joe, Mac."

"You're right," Mac conceded. "You're quite the extraordinary young man, a promising hunter, and a powerful psychic."

"Right," Caleb rolled his eyes, his frown deepening into a well-practiced scowl. "I'm practically Superman."

"Pastor Jim would tell you every knight has a chink in his armor, every super hero an Achilles heel." Mac patted Caleb's leg, his smile sympathetic but also relieved. "You, son, have just come face to face with your very own Kryptonite."

Caleb was prone to believe his father as it took him another ten minutes of deep breathing and a couple more glasses of water to clear his head and calm his stomach enough to force himself to face the kitchen once more. Sam's excited voice had him stopping short on the last stair, the crack in the door giving him a view of the counter where Jim stood stirring pancake batter, Atticus Finch perched expectantly at his feet. Sam was sitting on a stool by the sink, Dean near his side, his hand now swathed in a stark white bandage thanks to Doctor Ames. The mess from earlier had been cleared away, all traces of Dean's blood gone, but Caleb still couldn't make his feet carry him forward.

"Can I put more chocolate chips in?"

"I'd say we have just the right amount, Samuel."

"Are you sure? Sam Winchester thinks we may need more."

"Pastor Jim knows what he's doing, Sammy."

"Does he know more than Caleb?"

"I told you Caleb doesn't know much because he's just a kid," Dean said for the second time that day. Caleb rested his head against the door frame, realizing he'd confirmed the boy's accusation by acting like a complete baby earlier. Kryptonite or not, he had a reputation to protect. "Grown-ups know everything."

"I'm afraid not everything, my boy," Jim confessed, dropping a few more chocolate chips into the batter much to Sam's delight. "But my many years have provided me with some insight into a few things."

"Do you know why we killed Jesus?"

Caleb held back a laugh when the pastor nearly dropped the bowl he was holding. "Excuse me."

"I think Sammy heard some of your sermon yesterday," Dean explained. "The one about why we really should celebrate Easter."

"You didn't talk about the Easter bunny, Pastor Jim."

"No, I suppose I didn't."

"Nothing about coloring eggs, baskets, chocolate rabbits or jelly beans."

"Those things are all wonderful, Samuel, but they are not the true reason we have Easter."

"It's because of Jesus," Dean said, thoughtfully.

"Because we killed him dead," Sam added, banging the wooden spoon Jim had given him to help stir the batter against the sink like a hammer and Caleb wondered just how long Sam had listened to the Pastor's sermon before Dean rounded him up. Atticus Finch slunk away to wait under the table.

"Not exactly," Jim hedged, taking the spoon from Sam and depositing it into the sink. Caleb could not wait to hear how the pastor might put his spin on this. "Jesus chose to give his life for us-a sacrifice. He died, so we all might live."

"Why would he do that?" Sam asked in typical form.

Jim put down the bowl with the batter and Caleb didn't need to see his face to know the thoughtful expression shining in his blue eyes. "Because Jesus wanted to show us how much he loved us."

"What does dying have to do with love?" Maybe it was the fact Dean asked the question, or that Caleb picked up on the real question underneath, the one that was always burning in Dean's heart. Either way, he knew it was time he stepped up.

"Because when you really love someone you'd rather suffer yourself than watch them be hurt." Caleb stepped into the kitchen, answering before the pastor could. He looked right at Dean, making sure the kid understood his answer was two-fold. "You do whatever it takes to save them even if it's hard for them to understand why you're doing it, even if you have to leave them to make it happen."

Caleb was afraid he'd somehow said the wrong thing when Sam, Dean and Jim all continued to stare at him in silence. But then Jim smiled and reached out a hand to clasp Caleb's shoulder.

"It would appear, my boys that Caleb does in fact know something, something very, very wise."

"I guess one thing is better than nothing," Dean snorted, but the half grin he shot Caleb was worth the teasing.

"Sam Winchester knows lots of things."

"Except how to use his pronouns," Caleb ruffled the little boy's hair.

"You're not helping, Son." Mac chose that moment to enter the kitchen from the back door, several bags in his grasp. Some looked suspiciously like they were from Wal-mart. "Perhaps you would like to remedy that by giving me a hand."

"Whoa, Dad, did you go to the giant mega-store, killer of all small businesses?" Caleb and Dean took some of the doctor's load, bringing it to the counter where Jim conveniently busied himself pouring pancake batter into the frying pan. "What happened to supporting local establishments of the common man?"

"It seems Wal-mart is the one stop shop for all things Easter. Egg dye, artificial grass and chocolate rabbits are not available locally at Ned's bait and tackle shop, nor were the highly suspect marshmallow blobs covered with sugar and compressed into shapes resembling chickens."

"I'm sure Sam Walton appreciates our patronage, Mackland." Jim flipped a cake, turning to wink at Caleb. "I know the boys will appreciate the Peeps we picked up while we were there."

"Sam Winchester loves Peeps," the four year old nodded enthusiastically. "So does Atticus Finch and the baby ducks at the pond."

"I see," Jim looked from Sam, to Atticus whose ears were once more flattened against his bowed head. The fact the dog refused to meet the pastor's eyes did nothing to make him or the highly suspect purple substance stuck to his fur invisible. Jim's blue lasers zeroed in on Caleb.

"Speaking of ducks and chickens," Caleb jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "I think I forgot to feed One in a Million and Fat Chance."

Dean opened his mouth, but instead of throwing Caleb to the wolves by reminding the teen he'd already fed the horses he offered to help. "It will be faster if we both go."

The smell of burning pancakes and Sam's most recent question gave them the distraction they needed to escape without further scrutiny.

"What does a giant rabbit have to do with Jesus dying, Mac?" They heard him say as they dashed out the door.

"Sam Winchester isn't going to let it go." Dean said once they were clear of the house and walking toward the barn. He lifted his face towards the teen shielding his eyes from the bright sun with his bandaged arm.

Caleb grinned. "But maybe Mac will rue the day he told the runt all questions are a good thing."

"Questions aren't so bad, I guess..." Dean started to reach for the slide bar to open the barn door but hesitated when he remembered his hand.

Caleb moved in front of him and lifted the plank. ""It's the answers that sometimes suck."

Dean nodded, making his way over to Fat Chance's stall where he climbed up on the gate to give the big friendly Roan a pat. Caleb leaned his back against the adjoining stall, glancing at Dean. "You can ask me anything you know."

Dean cut his gaze to him, his mouth twitching slightly. "Like if Santa really exists?"

"I never said the truth didn't hurt." Caleb might not have always been so sensitive about crushing a little boy's hopes, but the Christmas let down would have come eventually and better it come from him than having Dean wake up that morning three years before and being totally devastated when Mary Winchester wasn't waiting under the tree wrapped in a red bow and boasting a plate of peanut butter cookies. "I don't think you really believe the Matchbox cars, comics and candy you'll find in your Easter basket tomorrow morning comes from an overgrown cotton tail who like Mac and Jim shops at Wal-mart."

"Then who hides all those eggs while we're asleep?" Dean raised a brow, pretending to be puzzled.

"Just call me the Bunny Master." Caleb grinned, patting his chest. "More punishment for telling the head master of my school just what I thought about his policy on uniforms last week."

"You're all heart, Damien."

"I'm a giver, Deuce."

"Uncle Bobby says you're a bull-shitter."

"I'm not the one who told Sam Winchester that frog and turtle piss were to blame for the grass being green." Caleb moved closer to Dean when One in a Million bumped his big head against the teen's shoulder. He took the opportunity to casually brush a finger over the boy's bandaged hand. "Does it hurt?"

"Not really." Dean glanced up at him. "But I think I might not be able to write that paragraph on what I did over spring break."

Caleb snorted. "That's my boy. Use every injury for all it's worth."

"Did seeing my blood really scare you?" Dean's gaze had grown serious. Like flipping a switch the carefree, little boy became as solemn and grave as an octogenarian in his last days. "Pastor Jim said that's why you got sick."

"I still think it might have been that midnight raid we pulled last night, but just in case, what do you say we try really hard to keep all the red stuff on the inside of you where it belongs. Okay?"

"Okay," Dean agreed as if it were a simple promise he could keep, which knowing Winchester luck it most certainly was not. "Can I ask you something else?"

"Like I said, use every injury for all it's worth." Caleb forced a grin. It wasn't like he could say no now. "Shoot."

"Do you believe in all the things Pastor Jim says?"

"Well, besides the old guy's thoughts on pre-marital sex and that Peeps should actually be ingested by people, I guess he's got some good ideas."

"Damien, I'm talking about the Jesus stuff." Dean turned his hand over, picking at the frayed edges of the bandage. "Do you think he really loves us? That he's always watching over us?"

"I think someone is and like I said before Pastor Jim might not know everything, but he's never let me down. If he says God has our back, then I want to believe him." Caleb's answer apparently was not the one Dean was expecting. His frown deepened. Caleb knew what the eight year old was going to ask before the thought clearly formed in the little boy's head.

"Then why did he let our moms die?"

"That's a complicated question," Caleb tossed Dean's own words back at him, but the flicker of disappointment in the younger boy's eyes had him taking a deep breath and pushing on. "It's like grandmother Ruth used to say that God works all things for good; that people can't see that in the moment, because our hurt gives us tunnel vision, like we're looking at just one brush stroke, when God sees the whole painting. So the way I see it, is maybe God didn't necessarily let our moms die, but when they did, he worked it so that you, me and Sammy found each other, so that we had a new family. Besides, if Jesus was willing to lay down his life for his brothers, he's an alright guy in my book."

Dean's face softened. "Like a Musketeer?"

"Totally like a Musketeer." Caleb grinned, bumping the boy's shoulder. "But don't tell Pastor Jim I said that. I'd probably have to recite a Bible verse at the dinner table tomorrow, or even worse, say Grace."

"Deal," Dean said, then caught Caleb by surprise with his next question. "Dad won't be here for dinner tomorrow, will he?"

"No, probably not."

Dean nodded, then jumped down from the top of the gate with a whoop. Just like that, the eight year old little boy was back. "Let's go eat."

"I call the biggest pancake." Caleb led the way out of the barn not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth. He waited for Dean to exit before closing the door.

"I'm injured, I should get the biggest."

"Fine," Caleb conceded, tossing his arm around the kid's shoulder as they made their way to the farmhouse. "Just this once, you get first dibs."

Dean looked up at him. "Damien, what does a giant rabbit and colored eggs have to do with Jesus dying?"

"Damned if I know, Deuce."Caleb laughed. "Damned if I know."