Black Swan

By: Tidia

Rating: Teen

Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to others.  The Brotherhood and Legacy stuff, that belongs to people I know.


"Once you have seen a black swan-it becomes easier to imagine another on the horizon." Malcolm Gladwell

Part 1

He couldn't remember having so much fun. His small town boasted one bar, and it was his usual hangout on a Friday and Saturday night, unless he planned on making the drive to the city. But the city could not offer all this; booze, women and did he mention women?

He didn't know when it started, but he had some great new friends now. His friend was passing him another beer. He loved beer and the woman in his arms. She was familiar, from the town, but new, too.

His friend pulled him away, and wanted him to follow. The others were waiting outside on their motorcycles. He was the passenger, no helmet, but it didn't matter because it wasn't that cold. He felt warm. They were driving into woods. The trees were dancing, moving, undulating.

The men made a fire, which looked like it was going to touch the night sky. They continued drinking and dancing. There was never enough. There was a drum beat in his head. They all seemed to hear it, twisting their bodies and pounding their feet in time.

He was being pushed around, moved by each of the men until the drums stopped.

"We need a sacrifice!"

The call was answered by a roar of agreement.

**********************The Brotherhood * Legacy ***************************


JT had known since his senior year in high school he was going to be the next Guardian.

He didn't know if it was a hindrance in him getting his ring, a ring he wanted badly. His father wanted him to concentrate on school and baseball, to push hunting to the side until winter break. He pressed to get on the hunting roster on long weekends, but they were easy salt and burns. So when a hunt found him, one that was more complicated than a salt and burn, he dove into it to prove to everyone he was worthy of being a hunter of The Brotherhood.

Finn, a fellow freshman on his floor was concerned about a missing cousin disappearing. It was unlike the cousin. Finn had spoken to the police in the town, and they were not investigating. The police reported Finn's cousin had gone off with some people who had passed through. JT thought normal teens would have dismissed it, but not him. JT was able to do research between classes and training, focusing on proving himself in all facets of his life. Over the next few months he became aware of a pattern - small towns missing men and women. No investigation of the circumstances, as if the town had no memory, no concern for the missing citizenry. The disappearance also happened on the week of the full moon only.

After finals, Max picked him up and they headed to the farm where he was going to present his potential hunt after dinner. His mother did not like hunting discussed at the table, or at least potential hunts were not allowed. He arranged to speak to his father, Uncle Caleb and Max in the Tomb after dinner, feeling a growing nervousness at sharing what he compiled. He had double checked his information in his head as they ate their chicken dinner.

James followed the others into The Tomb with Porthos. JT hoped his brother could keep his sly comments to himself just once. JT laid out his research on the table; Max patted him on the back. JT gave the same explanation he had given to Max and Ryker when he had asked them for some help with the potential supernatural occurrence.

"Over the last six months, and it might be longer, there have been people that are missing from small towns, like under 5,000 people," JT pointed to the sheet of paper with the names of the towns and their demographics.

"I'd run away from these towns, too," Uncle Caleb shook his head, "And they cannot be explained?"

"The police have the reports filed, and there is evidence that something happened." JT brought everyone's attention to a folder marked, 'POLICE REPORTS.'

His father picked it up and began rifling through it, "What's the evidence?"

"We've got a couple of things- blood stains, tire tracks, and this," JT looked for the important proof, a grainy image from a cell phone. "It's one of the perpetrators, I think. It was some random phone picture and no one in the victim's family or friends knew the person."

James turned the picture around, "That's thin, JT. It looks like a picture someone would take if they were drunk." James cleared his throat. "Not that I would know anything about that- being drunk, I mean-"

Max placed a hand over James's mouth. "Dude, stop. It's embarrassing."

JT ignored his brother, but saw that maybe the others doubted there was a hunt. JT had a feeling there was a supernatural involvement. It needed to be investigated so other people did not die. Finn had been close to his cousin, like brothers, like him and Max, him and Ben and James.

"I've got more. All these people go missing the week of the full moon. No one's returned, and there's a group of people involved, not just that one guy." He directed that part to James. "We think we found an area set up for a sacrifice." He gestured with his chin to his best friend, "Max and I did the recon."

They had gone to the small Mississippi town, and saw an area that was reminiscent of coven activity. However, he had never seen the covens use that much blood for their spell work. There were also the tire tracks, the evidence of general debauchery. Granted, the coven knew how to party, but not to that level.

"You did what?" His father's attention was no longer on the papers, but on him and Max.

Max pushed James away from him. His brother was looking smug at someone else being in trouble. "We checked out the area, Sir." He gave a sidelong glance to JT. "We were very careful."

"We even salted the area so they couldn't come back," JT assured his father. They planned it so that they were in and out within two hours, spending the night in Natchez before Max returned JT to school.

His father narrowed his lips with distinct displeasure at JT and Max taking a risk without telling anyone. "Damien, have you heard about any cult activities?"

Caleb shook his head. "I haven't, but this looks like they've been keeping things on the down low." Cults were his uncle's hobby. "But, I've had my hands filled with Jimmy."

"It's not my fault," his brother quickly defended himself. He had been having the full attention of his uncle and father since James was the only Winchester at home. Jimmy couldn't act out at home so he did at school, reporting to JT how he was going to leave his own mark on the local learning institution. "Wait, what were you talking about?" As usual, James had not been listening.

"Pay attention," Caleb tapped James on the side of his head. "JT, there are too many towns that meet the same description. You have anything else?"

"All the towns have a drinking establishment, some sort of bar." Whatever was happening, they weren't dry towns, which a lot of the small towns were. It did narrow the list to those towns that allowed the sale of alcohol, but still there were too many. JT had thought of a solution already, "I've been talking to Ryker. He thinks he can help locate them." JT emptied an envelope. "We found a few things," he presented a stud from a motorcycle jacket, a keychain and a glove, "they should be enough to scry with."

JT saw the glance between his father and Uncle.

"The next full moon is after Christmas," his father replied. They were always aware of the lunar cycle, due to so many supernatural happenings at that time. "Feel like a birthday hunt, Damien?"

"No better way to spend it. JT's going to take the lead on this one, since he found it." Caleb nodded at JT. "Good work."

He felt his face color from the attention. He didn't think he would get to lead a hunt, especially without a ring.

"I'm in," James announced.

"You're not coming and neither is Max." Caleb studied one of the pictures. "Ryker's going with us. He's on break from the Citadel." Ryker was planning to accept a military commission upon completion of his degree. He liked the South Carolina school and its classic military system.

"What?" Max said loudly, a little too loudly and he knew it. "I mean, why, Sir?"

"Next full moon, you're supposed to go to some coven healing seminar with your dad. Ben is coming with you and James," Dad answered, calling the dog to his side with a tap on the side of his leg.

Caleb ignored him for a moment before adding, "And you're not supposed to question me, Private."

"Yes, Sir." Max was crestfallen.

"I'll tell you all about it when I get back," JT replied. He understood Uncle Caleb's changing up of the usual group. Max took every opportunity to shadow him, protecting him from any risks. It was unnerving because they both had the same training.

"The coven is mean to me." James pouted, stooping down to pat the dog.

JT's brother was also afraid of the witches, scared they would turn him into a frog. JT had seen his brother transform into a respectful teen when he was in the presence of coven members.

"No, I just warned them about you," Max added.

JT covered his smirk. The witches were always good to him, he assumed it was because he was the son of The Guardian, but it was more from being the best friend of Maxim Sawyer, son of Joshua Sawyer. Max and James had a bit of a rivalry, and Max used the coven connection to his favor. JT didn't condone it. He let Max have his fun, safe with the knowledge that no physical harm would come to James among the coven or with Max.

"I like Ryker," his father commented to his uncle. "It's always nice to have someone who will follow orders."

"That may be our cue to leave," Max mumbled to JT under his breath.

"We'll contact Ryker, bring him up to speed," JT said, backing slowly out of The Tomb with Max by his side.

His brother caught on, and called them out. "I'm coming, too. I'm tired of getting fed to the wolves."

"We'll talk later about insubordination," Uncle Caleb waved them off.

They took the reprieve, not often getting one, and hoped later meant never. JT would not bring it up again, and neither would James and Max. They could practice their evasive techniques.

"Dude, this is so cool," Max clapped JT on the back. "I haven't led my own hunt, yet, and I have a ring."

James rolled his eyes. Max was very proud of his silver band. "No, you're working on your cooking, Maxie. One day you'll make a great wife."

"I will kill you, Jimmy," Max elbowed James in the ribs. "And wasn't that you going in for second helpings last time I made pasta?"

JT maneuvered himself so he was between Max and his brother. "I'm going to need some help with research on this. Are you guys in?"

"I have some finals, but that shouldn't be a problem," James answered. JT would normally tap his brother on his head for not trying harder in school, but instead he just frowned at him. James ignored him, probably already making plans on where he was going to look first.

"I'll call Uncle Bobby. See if he has heard about something like this," Max replied. They'd be seeing their honorary uncle for the holidays, so if he had any texts, then he could bring them with him.

JT smiled, he had maneuvered his brother and best friend into peaceful coexistence once more without them being none the wiser. He shrugged his shoulders; he would let them go on assuming that he was not devious in his own way.


Part 2


Dean took a seat at the round table, his eyes scanning the research JT had done in the short amount of time he had been in school.

Caleb sat down, began reading in earnest. "This is scary good, Deuce. He's a chip off the old block."

"My block or Sammy?" Noticing patterns was very Dean-like, this research was more like Sam.

"Both." Caleb laughed, then sobered again, "This is stuff that should get him a ring."

Dean groaned. "Not again. I know you wanted me to give him his ring before he went to school, but he's just not ready." He did not make any eye contact with Caleb, not wanting to have this conversation again.

Caleb didn't get the hint, or refused to let it go, like a dog with a bone. "He's not ready or you're not ready?"

"A little of both," Dean finally admitted. He didn't know how his father watched children from birth grow into men and hunters. More than anything in his life, letting his children grow into hunting was difficult.

Caleb's hand was splayed on the table, fingers wide, showing his silver band. "I know he's my godson, a fellow artist, too, so maybe I'm partial, but he has the heart of a Guardian." He gestured to the door. "They'd follow him to Hell and back."

"I'll take it under advisement, okay?" Dean acquiesced, realizing the day was coming sooner rather than later.

"Dean, you don't give him a ring soon, he'll think he's failed you." Caleb connected to all the kids, even the girls, but he forged special relationships with Dean's sons and Max, sharing interests with each of them individually.

"He hasn't failed me, Damien. He's a great kid." He knew other parents put their children on pedestals, and although his kids were amazing, they were also good people. He was holding JT back for a good reason. He didn't want to conscript his son. "Once JT gets his ring, I can't turn back-they will be the next Triad." It's the reason he held off a bit with Max, too. He had talked to Joshua about it, more to put himself at ease, than Josh.

Caleb frowned, wiping a hand down his face. "That's what we want. Right? Because if you want to go with the others, then you need to let Sam and I know. We talked about this, Deuce."

Dean nodded. "I know, Damien. They are my first choice. But, they've grown up charmed with all the advantages we didn't have. I give him the ring, and the dream is over." The ring would end JT's childhood.

"You need to get over that, Deuce. They're not like us, which is a good thing, and The Brotherhood won't ruin their life. It will bond them together for life." Caleb pushed the papers toward Dean before he left The Tomb.

Dean rolled his eyes at Caleb's romantic notions about The Brotherhood, but Dean couldn't discount what his friend had said. He couldn't imagine what his life would be without The Brotherhood, and he had his doubts about leading it. He studied his son's paperwork. He was damned proud of JT, and had missed him since he had been away at college.

He would enjoy the time with his family over the holidays. The house was filled with all his sons, his brother, and his family. The tree looked as if lights had exploded with presents that took up half the room. The remnants of the holidays took at least a week to clean up and pack up for the next year. This year, it would take a little more time.

Caleb did not rehash the conversation, which Dean was grateful for- Caleb could be a pain in the ass when he wanted to be. Caleb also knew he had made his point.

With Christmas over Dean sent off James and Ben to meet Josh and Max. Ben was excited to explore the coven's healing skills. James had begged to be left behind. Max made one last attempt to be taken on the hunt. Max was always a protector. The ring made him more vigilant. It was the reason why he would not be on this hunt. JT needed to assume the risk, and hunt in a different dynamic.

He had given the boys a simple salt and burn as a Christmas gift with Silas, so they could have a hunt together. They would probably be able to get one more hunt with James, too, before JT went back to school.

Ryker passed James and Ben, coming to help on the hunt. Ryker, a giant of a man, took up the doorway, inheriting his father's height and menacing appearance, but the similarity ended there. Ryker was laid back in a way Adam never was, and it was surprising when he wanted to go into the military. "Hello, Sirs, JT."

"Dude, a little less formal," Dean clapped him on the back in greeting, having to reach up to do so. "You're on break. Though, it's appreciated."

JT and Ryker bumped fists. "I have some new toys for you to try out." Being at the Citadel and involved with the military, Ryker had access to materials. JT was a willing participant in the experiments.

JT's eyes glowed with excitement usually reserved for photographic opportunities. His son suppressed his grin, and pointed to the things he and Max collected on their unofficial reconnaissance. "Ryker and I've been talking and he and Joshua came up with a twist on scrying that should help us locate them."

The young cadet unrolled a map, and brought out some vials of herbs, similar to what Dean had seen Joshua use. Caleb extended his hand to touch the map.

Ryker pulled it away. "Please, don't touch that."

Dean hid his grin. Ryker was also very much like his mentor, Joshua or Joshua had warned him about The Knight. Either way, the old Advisor was trying to influence the successor Advisor.

"Right," Caleb replied with a frown. "You trust me to take you into a den of a wendigo, but I can't touch your toys?"

Ryker blocked one side of the map with his arm. "If I remember I came out of that cave with a broken arm and a concussion."

Dean laughed. "That sounds about right. Hands off, Damien."

"Your Dad told you about his precious hawk feather, didn't he?" Caleb remarked, covering his mouth with his hand.

"It was a young golden eagle feather given to him by the medicine man of my great grandfather's tribe." Ryker cleared his throat, shooting JT a quick grin. "Sorry, Sir, but we treated this map..."

Dean waved him to continue. Ryker did not have to explain any further, but he always respected the chain of command.

"Because we are unsure on what we are exactly dealing with it," Ryker added, and pulled out from a backpack some vials and some wire. He started to wrap the JT's evidence together in a gold colored wire.

"Uncle Bobby said that he didn't know if this group is really old or really new," JT stated, watching Ryker work.

"Either way, we want to be careful." Caleb leaned over Ryker, who stopped working to stare at Caleb. Caleb gave the young witch more space.

Dean cleared his throat. "You still thinking about treating this like a cult?" he asked his son. JT had reviewed his notes with him, and it was an agreed upon approach.

JT nodded. "For now, since the missing people could be sacrifices, like Uncle Caleb said."

"I got something," Ryker announced, the wired ball lay on the map.

"Where is that?" Caleb moved in again.

Ryker traced the lines with his finger. "I did this map based on longitude and latitude. Joshua helped me."

"What are the coordinates?" JT asked, pulling out his phone and typing in the numbers Ryker read off.

"Booneville, Arkansas," JT announced. "Population 4,030, and one bar called The Bearcat."

"Yahtzee," Dean replied. It looked like they had a hunt. "Fits all your variables, Son."

"It's not the Red Caboose, but it will have to do," Caleb commented, clapping Dean on the back.

********************THE BROTHERHOOD*LEGACY*********************

Dean thought when the kids were growing up that he would struggle to have a relationship with them. However, as his kids got older, they forged a more even relationship, less father to son and more friend to friend.

Ryker had never heard of the Red Caboose, which led into an interesting and revealing conversation. His son had never told him why Max and he enjoyed spending time at the coven, but it became apparent within the conversation, also surprising. "There are no constrictions, like here," Ryker waved his hand. "We're open with each other."

"Trusting and sincere," JT added.

Dean could understand why that was appealing to his son. Within The Brotherhood, only The Triad's inner circle was trusted.

"We also throw great parties, better than anything at the dorms."

He always thought of his son as serious and quiet, but evidently he had another playful, extroverted side, which came out when he was with the coven. "And you guys are keeping this from your brother? Rave parties are his thing. He has ambitions about throwing one on the farm."

"A guy has to have his secrets," Ryker replied with a glance to JT. His son had bred loyalty in others. They trusted him to watch their backs and they watched his.

Since it was JT's hunt, Dean thought he should drive his extended cab truck. They decided to leave the farm early and make the drive in one shot. JT had checked to see if there had been missing persons reports or a death in the area, and with none reported, they still had an open window.

Hunting like this, without the desperation of the apocalypse, brought Dean back to the reasons he hunted, why The Brotherhood was so important to help people, not just fight evil.

Caleb must have read his thoughts; he didn't conceal them, because he was smiling. "You do know this is not a vacation, Deuce," Caleb commented.

"Cults and missing people are not my idea of a vacation," Dean answered as they entered the town limits.

"That's not what Juliet says," Caleb elbowed him. They had been regulated to the backseat, an uncommon position for him unless he was injured.

"I don't think that Juliet would want to stay at the Kittycat Motel here in Booneville." He didn't remember the last time he and Juliet went away for a weekend. It probably involved visiting Ben and was with the boys. The motel that JT was signaling to turn into was reminiscent of the old days with him and Sam on the road with the Impala, definitely not a place he would take Juliet.

"This is so not up to my standards." Caleb had a look of disdain. He had always considered these types of places roughing it. "I thought we got away from this when we grew up."

"We're grown ups?" Dean asked, he had been one for awhile, built himself a life he was proud of. There were still those moments, and perhaps it came from having children, where he felt twenty years younger.

"Point taken," Caleb mused, then gestured to the younger men sitting in the front seat. "Two rooms, we can at least afford that."

The décor of the motel was dated, faded and unclean, unlike his home which was alive and fresh no matter that the farm house had been there for decades.

"Dad, we thought we could do some recon? Split up to cover more ground and then hit the Bear Cat tonight." JT and Ryker entered Caleb and Dean's room after dropping off their belongings.

"That sounds like a plan. Caleb?" Dean tucked his duffle under the bed.

"Sure, me and JT and you and Ryker," Caleb said as he came out of the bathroom. The Knight liked to give the younger hunters time with the older hunters as much as possible, while encouraging their bonds, too.

Dean clapped his hands together. "Let's go, Ryker. The A-Team's on duty."

"That's right, JT," Caleb commented. "We're taking the north part of town."

JT rolled his eyes. "Ryker, keep an eye on my dad."

Dean snorted, not taking offense that his son wanted to make sure his father stayed away from trouble. After all, the apple did not fall far from the tree, but Caleb would watch over JT.


Part 3


They found the tracks. His nephew, the Eagle Scout, had followed them, but they inexplicably disappeared. Good news was there was no trace of a sacrifice. JT had been relieved; worried they had gotten there too late.

"Dude, I'm not buying you a drink because you found some tire tracks," Dean answered after Caleb had needled his friend.

"They were multiple motorcycle tracks," Ryker clarified, leaning against the bar.

Dean gave Ryker a sidelong glance. "Whose side are you on?"

"Indicative of what was found in the other towns," JT finished with a grin. Caleb always encouraged good natured teasing of Dean by his sons. He didn't want them to have their father on too high of a pedestal, although it was already out of the reach of mere mortals.

This time Dean rolled his eyes at his son. "You have been spending way too much time with your uncle."

JT shrugged his shoulders, which was enough of an opening for one of the ladies at the bar.

"I'll buy you a drink, sweetheart." She sidled up close to JT.

"My u-friend was the one drinking-" JT stuttered for a moment.

It endeared JT to her more, and she hooked her arm around JT's elbow. "I'll buy you all a drink." She pulled JT with her to get the attention of the bartender.

"Friendly little place," Caleb said as Dean shook his head and went to scout out a location.

"Seems so," Ryker answered as he fanned out to take part of the perimeter, separately to wait.

Dean was playing aloof, picking up a pool stick to focus on the game instead of on the women. He was faithful and loyal, with an occasional flirt for hunting purposes only.

JT continued to garner some attention as had Ryker when he sat down. Standing, Ryker was too large and too conspicuous. Caleb was talking to a blonde, young enough, well; he tried not to think in those terms. After all, age was a relative number.

Finally, as the evening wore on there was a trickling of new entrants. They seem to fit a gang like description with a symbol on the back of their jacket, reminiscent of a sickle. JT extricated himself from a young lady, going outside. He returned a few short moments later. He nodded at Caleb, confirming motorcycles were outside.

Dean looked up from his pool game, Caleb caught his eye. As The Knight, The Guardian always came first. Caleb had tried to get information from Tasha, the lady he was speaking to, but she was ignorant on the subject. He was reading others, and finding the same response. It could be easily explained that the gang was new to town, had not gone to the Bear Cat yet, but the reaction the group of men seemed to garner made it look like they were familiar with the locals.

The sleepy local bar with its open floor and booths previously had not been crowded. People sat on the bar stools or in the booths, but there was plenty of standing room. Suddenly, there was a surge of people in motion, a festive atmosphere grew instantly. The volume increased, and Caleb blamed that on his blossoming headache. He tried to make a connection to one of the bikers, or even to Dean, JT or Ryker, but he was blocked.

Caleb rubbed a hand over his mouth. Something was wrong and he needed to get Dean and the others out of the Bear Cat. He started walking towards Dean, noticing he was speaking animatedly with a well endowed woman. As he got closer he heard the conversation was about body shots.

"Whoa there, Deuce," Caleb pulled Dean back as he was about to get a little too close to the woman. Caleb excused them from the woman's company, maneuvering Dean out the door. Dean kept turning his body back to the bar and the woman he left behind. Caleb grabbed his friend's chin. "Deuce, I'll tell Juliet you were cozying up to some woman-"

"Juliet?" Dean frowned. "Juuuu—leee-et."

Caleb dragged Dean outside, no easy feat. "Snap out of it, Deuce." He patted Dean's cheeks once he got him to the truck. Without any resulting sobriety, Caleb pulled out his wrist ties to secure Dean to the steering wheel. "Stay put, and be quiet." Caleb paused and it seemed as though the order was being followed by his best friend.

"Winchesters, always trouble." He rubbed his temple as he entered The Bear Cat again, remaining calm in the joviality, trying to blend in. Whoever this group was had some power, and he didn't want to draw attention to himself, JT or Ryker.

Ryker and JT unfortunately were not following the same rules and acting uncharacteristically, the exact opposite of their training. JT had his arm wrapped around the waist of a woman, pulled close to him. Sidney would not be happy, although Caleb didn't know if they were taking a temporary break again as they did from time to time. Evidently, dating from a young age had its drawbacks.

JT was usually quiet, careful about what he said so when he spoke it garnered attention from his peers. He was a level headed peacemaker, not the boisterous, loud, typical frat boy in front of him.

Ryker was laid back, but controlled, powerful in witchcraft since he had been trained by both Adam and Joshua. He was not one to giggle, but that was exactly what he was doing.

Caleb intervened, placing himself in the middle, directly in line with the conversation. Whatever was happening to the boys lowered inhibitions.

"Uncle Caleb, this is Doug and his girlfriend, Delilah." JT clapped Caleb on the back. "What's that song that you were named from? Can you sing it?"

The girl started to hum it, and JT would add her name in an off-key voice.

"Doug sounds funny," Ryker chuckled, pointing at the namesake. "You have a funny name." He leaned over the smaller man. "I can squash your head."

Caleb rolled his eyes, placing a firm grip on each younger hunter. "Okay, boys, let's get going. Come on, say goodnight to the nice people."

"But, I'm having fun," Ryker whispered loudly into Caleb's ear.

"It's an order, soldier. Outside now." Ryker's training must have kicked in, because although unsteady, he went towards the door. Caleb gave JT a push out the door.

Unfortunately, they were being eyed by one of the alleged gang members. Caleb bowed his head, and looked away after trying one more time to connect to the other man's mind. They made it out the door, and he made the boys jog to the truck in the hopes that it would work out whatever whammy they had been hit with. All Caleb wanted was a giant aspirin for his headache.

Dean at least had returned to his right mind. He lifted his hands up as much as he could.

"You wanna tell me what's going on?"

"Our new friends have some sort of ability. Gives me a headache." Caleb did not mention the nausea as he swallowed. "Makes you act out of your mind. You owe me a thank you for saving your virtue." Caleb cut the cord with his knife, grasping JT's shirt with his other hand. He transferred responsibility of his nephew back to the boy's father. "Coral your son for me."

Ryker was talking to himself, teetering, taking a few steps back to the bar. Caleb escorted him into the backseat of the truck. Dean got JT to follow Ryker.

"Let's get out of here," Dean said, looking back as he took the driver's seat. "They should be coming to their senses soon."

Caleb rested his head against the car seat. "Damn, Deuce, that was like when you got whammied by the sirens." He recalled when Sam was at school, Dean and he had been on a hunt in Florida that had gone bad.

"Dude, I hate to tell you, but no one was aged a hundred years." Dean pointed to himself then to Caleb. "We're getting old all on our own," Dean spoke louder because the boys were singing the latest popular song, "but at least I don't have any gray hair."

"Shut up," Caleb replied to Dean and the boys. His hair was darker so gray hair showed up more quickly. "I'm saying they put some sort of spell on all of you. My abilities must block the effect."

"So are you thinking male sirens? Do they even exist?" Dean rubbed a hand through his hair.

The boys stopped signing, dropping the sound in midnote and clearing their throats. "What happened back there?" JT asked.

Caleb reiterated the story much to the younger hunters' embarrassment as they drove to the motel.

"I can contact Carolyn to see about any information on male sirens," JT stated as his phone glowed in the darkness of the cab. "Umm, I don't have cell coverage."

"Me either, J," Ryker answered.

"Shit," was Caleb's reply, and he looked at Dean's phone, too. "Well, this confirms we are dealing with something supernatural."

"Are we staying on this case?" JT asked. Caleb saw the glance pass between Ryker and his nephew.

This was Dean's call. "We're finishing this," Dean confirmed as he pulled his son's truck into the parking lot.

"Then we'll need some protection," JT said as they got out of the car, and remained outside between the two rooms.

"If it affected your abilities, then I can work something out. That means something involving crafting," Ryker announced as he opened the door to the room. "But there's not going to be time to test it if we're doing this tonight."

JT glanced at his father who gave him a nod. "I trust you."

Caleb clapped JT on the back. He was open-minded about magic, encouraging Max to use his gift and knowledge. "Good, cause if that is the way that you two act when you're drunk, then I don't want any part of it."

"I don't want any more people to get hurt, but we don't know what they are. They are not a cult. If they're sirens, then to kill them we'll need iron, but it's still an if." JT leaned into the wall between the doors.

"Pack your swords and guns, boys," Dean said as he opened the door to the room he and Caleb shared.

"Give me two hours," Ryker went inside with a determined grin on his face. The college student loved a challenge. It made him a perfect candidate for the next Advisor.

"I'm going to stakeout the Bear Cat in the meantime," Caleb announced.

"In the parking lot?" JT asked, stepping away from the wall. "Because that should be a safe enough distance so I'm not effected. Right?"

"I'll tell your dad and Ryker," Caleb tossed JT his car keys.

JT was much like him on a stakeout, reading books that he left in his truck for this purpose. But, they had time for some conversation about school, family and art. JT was worried about James's panache for finding trouble.

"It's a full time job, and with me at school. . .I can't keep track of both him and Max. . ." JT gave a side glance to the bar. The whole place had a party vibe, throbbing with excitement. No one had exited.

"Like I told you when you left for LSU, your brother has my full attention." James was the only one at home, and the adults couldn't control what happened at school, but everything else could be. "How's the portfolio?" Caleb asked changing the subject, getting the older brother to focus on himself, same as he used to do with Dean.

JT shrugged his shoulders. "Nothing new so far."

"Keep up with it. The supernatural pictures are good, but you got more in you." The pictures JT had taken of different creatures helped many new and old hunters better understand what they were coming up against.

"I've been busy with training, school, then this hunt." JT looked away. "It was easier to find inspiration at home."

"A little homesickness, too?" Caleb asked. They were a very involved family with someone always going to the boys' games or events.

"In this family?" JT snorted. "Max has already visited me, James is texting, calling, IMing me or something, Ben has a contact schedule, Mom and Dad check in. . ."

Caleb put his hand up. "I get the point. I hope you're having some fun, and by fun, I mean- girls." College had been a great experience for him, he had protested in the beginning, but then had to agree with Mac that it was a good idea. One all his nephews had been encouraged to follow.

JT rolled his eyes, his hand skimming the dream catcher he had hanging off of the steering wheel. "Remember, you're not allowed to give me advice on women."

"Still? That was like 8 years ago. It was your fault anyway. How did I know what would happen and that your mom would be there?" JT had a crush on a girl during grammar school and Caleb had encouraged him to go for it, which happened at a dance where Juliet was chaperoning. She was horrified to catch her son making out with an older sixth grader. "So it's still you and Sidney?"

JT shook his head. "We're taking a break so we can have the full college experience."

Caleb nodded. That was Sidney talking and not JT, she was the wild one and JT was loyal, happy to have a steady girlfriend and be faithful to her. "That's very mature of you." JT had always been old beyond his years, taken responsibility to temper Max and James's risk taking.

"Someone has to be a grown up." JT chuckled. "I can try to get you an invite to one of the coven parties, if you still want to sow your oats, Uncle Caleb."

Caleb pushed his nephew's shoulder. "Aren't you the comedian? I still get a lot of action, JT. A lot." He felt a familiar feeling in his mind. "Your dad and Ryker are coming."

There was a knock on the passenger side door, and Dean's face appeared. JT unlocked the truck, and Ryker and Dean got into the backseat.

"How did you get here?" JT asked as Ryker passed him going into the vehicle.

"We borrowed a car," Dean answered shortly.

Caleb was surprised. They didn't do that too often, wanting the boys to keep clean records, and trying to keep them more on the right side of the law. Sometimes it was not feasible, other times it was a teaching experience.

"Dean let me practice hotwiring," Ryker stated with a large grin.

Dean cleared his throat.

"And I'm not telling my dad." Ryker sighed. Caleb knew there had to be a catch. They did not want to get on Adam's bad side. He already was not thrilled his son had gotten involved with The Brotherhood, as much as he respected Joshua, he still had his doubts about the other hunters. "Here, put this on." Ryker handed a medicine bag to JT.

JT sniffed it and scrunched his face in disgust. "Do I want to know what's in this?"

"He lost me at frog brains," Dean commented. He lifted up a book that was on the floor panel. "Anything exciting going on?"

Caleb gestured with his chin. The door of the bar opened, releasing a lot of the patrons into the early morning. "Looks like they are calling it a night, and that friend of yours is going with him."

JT leaned forward to get a better look, as Caleb handed over the binoculars. "Doug?"

"The guy with the funny name," Ryker replied.

They watched as the men got on the motorcycles parked outside under the lit Bear Cat neon sign. Doug got on one of the bikes, too as a passenger.

"They're going to head to that clearing we found," JT said, starting the engine on his truck to follow. "I just know it."

"Don't follow too closely," Caleb warned as usual. It was hard to give up control; especially to the boys he helped raised to be hunters.

Dean tapped him on the back of the head. "You forgetting who taught them to drive, Damien?" Dean had taught the boys of the next Triad to drive, took pleasure in doing so. It was the rare opportunity he let others drive the Impala. JT did drive well, and they followed them to the clearing, parking a distance away to go the rest of the way on foot.

They were dressed for a night mission; otherwise the moon and soon the rising sun, would give them away in the shadows. The blades were covered in black, so the glint would not give them away, and there was what Caleb considered the restful click of ammunition being loaded and checked.

The motorcycle group was easy to track, the bonfires, the noise the bikes all gave them away, unafraid of company. It was brazen, and it made Caleb wonder how powerful they were if they did not set sentries.

They crouched in the trees, using the scrub to hide and to get close to the other men.

"What the hell are they doing?" Dean asked, squinting before taking the binoculars.

Caleb could see the bonfire blazing into the night sky, its sparks popping up and away. The men seemed to be continuing the party, larger bottles replacing the smaller beer bottles at the bar. The surprise was the dancing, moving and swaying to yelps and hoots of their own creation. Caleb had never seen men actually enjoy dancing. He avoided it at all costs.

In the middle was Douglas, the poor sap who had gotten caught up in something bigger than him. He was being held up by two of the larger men.

"I think they drugged him," Caleb said, trying to get a read. "They're taking him out of the clearing."

JT put down his own binoculars. "I'll get to him."

"We ready to get this show on the road?" Dean asked getting an affirming nod as Ryker drew his blade.

"Did you bring that camera?" Ryker asked JT. He had given him a new, small camera with high pixels used by the Army.

JT pulled it out of his pocket, then slipped it back in.

"Circle around, sword first, until we know that bullets work," Caleb stated, making sure he made eye contact with the younger hunters.

"Meet you in the middle." JT and Ryker bumped fists as they went out into the night with the predawn sounds covering their tracks.

Dean lifted his blade. "This never gets old."

"Nope." Caleb and Dean headed out.

It was a bloodbath with the sun having risen to greet the destruction the hunters had reeked.

"Decapitation is not pretty." Dean swiped a hand over his face, wiping away a mess of gore from his neck. It hadn't taken them long to figure out bullets worked as well, but they had already taken several of the creatures out the crude way. They noticed that something, like when demons were exorcised, slipped from the bodies, but the bodies themselves remained as instantly shriveled husks. Dean gestured to Caleb's bloody sleeve. The creatures had taken to using tree branches as defensive weapons, but were not adept at hand to hand.

"I haven't had any battle wounds to garner me sympathy in a while." Caleb evaded Dean's concern with a grin. He ran his blade over his jeans, checking to make sure Ryker had dispatched the others. "Did you see the look on their faces before you took their head? They couldn't figure out why we weren't under their spell."

"I noticed that." Dean nodded. "They haven't had a run in with hunters before, weren't expecting us to be prepared. What the hell are these fuckers?"

Caleb toed one of the shrunken heads over. "They don't react to silver like shifters or ghouls. I have no idea."

"Should I go check on JT?" Ryker asked just as their missing hunter appeared from the dense tree line.

JT had gone after the two who had dragged away the victim. He returned wiping his blade. "I took out the two bikers, but Doug freaked out and got away."

"I don't think he's going to be talking about this." Caleb rested his hands on his hips, reaching out with his abilities. "I'm not sensing him. He must have booked it."

Dean cupped the back of JT's neck, giving his son a slight shake. "Well, boys, you know the drill, time to clean up."

"Aren't you helping?" JT asked as he bent down to pull one of the bodies to the middle of the clearing.

"That's what we have you around for," Caleb answered, rolling a head over with his foot. "We'll supervise."

Supervising did not last long; they all pitched in, creating a large bonfire. Ryker performed a spell to contain the fire, and also to incinerate the bodies, leaving nothing to decompose.

"What now?" JT looked at his dad.

Caleb shared a smile with Dean. "Beer?"

"Beer." Dean dropped to a tree stump close to the smoldering fire.

"We're going to drink?" Ryker raised a brow. "Shouldn't we think about a big breakfast instead? This worked up an appetite."

"The Knight and Guardian are going to drink," Dean corrected. He pointed from Ryker to JT. "The grunts are going to clean all of our weapons. Blood is a bitch to get off if it sets too long." He glanced to Caleb. "Tell me you packed the cooler, Damien."

"You should know me better than that, Deuce." Caleb grinned.

"He made me do it." JT snorted. "It went in before the weapons."

Caleb pointed at him. "Just because you're quickly moving up the ranks doesn't mean you're not still one of my lackeys, Johnny. Ring or no ring, you're still a private in Caleb's army."

"Ring?" JT looked from his father to Caleb.

Dean glared at Caleb. "For that, lowly Knight you get to help your private grab our stash."

Caleb sighed. "That's okay; it will give my godson, the prince, and me time to think of how he wants to celebrate this huge milestone."

"I hope it includes breakfast," Ryker commented.

Caleb tossed an arm over JT's shoulder, pulling him toward the woods, and to where they parked the truck beyond. "Maybe we'll combine it with my birthday. A quick trip to Vegas, Rio? Hell, nothing's off the table."

"I'm getting my ring?" JT looked over his should to where Dean was helping Ryker.

"You really surprised at that, Johnny?" Caleb purposefully slowed their pace.

"I guess not." JT cocked his head. "I mean I know Max got his during his first year of college, but…" JT let the statement trickle off.

Caleb didn't want to use his ability with his nephew. JT was the quiet one amongst loud personalities. It was better that JT talk to him, instead of retreating into his own counsel. "But what?"

"Max got his ring for saving my life. I just planned a hunt, one which we still don't know what exactly we were hunting, and I let the victim go blindly off into the woods alone." JT gestured to where Doug had run off earlier.

"Give yourself some credit, Kid. You planned a well-executed hunt. You saved Doug's life." Caleb gave his nephew a little push into the clearing once the truck was in sight. "There's time to figure the other stuff out later. You'll develop the pictures, and figure it out. You might be the first hunter to put a name on these things, whatever they were."

JT shook his head. "It doesn't seem like enough. Dad saved those kids, and Uncle Sam saved you and Dad when he got his ring. Those are ring-worthy things."

Caleb was proud the boys knew their histories, and had read the journals. "Dude, I nearly got your dad and Sammy killed when I got my ring. I thought I'd screwed up for good," Caleb rubbed the back of his neck, the first hints of a headache thumping behind his eyes. "I thought your granddad was going to kick my ass, and never let me near his kids again."

He saw JT's smile flash in the moonlight, the hint of a dimple showing up even in the distance between them. "Dad said that was all Joshua's fault."

"Your Dad has a selective memory." Caleb pinched the bridge of his nose, watching his nephew move towards the truck. "Johnny giving me my ring was the last thing I expected. Trust me, you're much more deserving."

JT turned to say something, but the vision hit first. Sharp and fragmented, like it was being blocked. The few images he got were enough.


JT reach for his gun, but not in time. Doug emerged from the cab of the truck, kicking the door open, flinging himself toward a startled JT.

Caleb saw the glint of the knife, no time to pull his gun, let along get a clear shot. He did the only thing he could do, praying he would be in time to intercede or stop the inevitable.

His body slammed into Doug's with enough force to send them away from JT, both tumbling to the ground in a collision of arms, legs and Doug's blade. He felt the jolt of hitting the cold unforgiving ground only seconds before the hot blaze of agony registered in his gut.

"Fuck!" He grabbed his stomach, his hands latching onto the hilt of the knife, fighting Doug's grip. The bastard shoved the blade deeper into Caleb, twisted it before pulling it up and out with vicious force. The Knight saw an explosion of light, then a wave of black racing to envelope him. JT's shout had him blinking, fighting against the dark current to stay conscious.

Doug lifted the blade again. Shots echoed. Doug jerked with the impact; he howled and ran off into the woods.

"Uncle Caleb!" He was aware of JT beside him, firing his gun in Doug's wake. "Oh God, Caleb!"

"Fucking sonofabitch…" Caleb managed to lift his head, getting a look at his hands, which were already slick with blood. The amount of red and the overwhelming rush of panic coming from his nephew told him what shock was hiding. "I'm…so screwed."

"No." JT was struggling to get out of his over shirt. "Just stay still. You're fine. You're okay."

"JT! Caleb!" Dean's shouts floated to Caleb on a cold breeze.

He let his head fall back to the ground, squeezing his eyes shut. He did not want to go out like this-did not want to hurt JT this way. "Deuce."

The fiery eruption of pain in his chest had him crying out, trying to evade JT's hands as the kid applied pressure on the gushing wound. "Dad! Over here!"

Fear slammed into him like a catapult, JT's magnified by Dean's and Ryker's. His abilities were laid open like his gut, leaving him exposed and vulnerable to his strongest links.

"Johnny…take it easy." He tried to breathe, tried to blink his nephew into focus. It was Dean's face he saw first.

"Holy fuck, Damien! Who in the hell goes on a beer run and gets stabbed?"


"Ryker, get on the phone. Get me a medi-vac out here. Now."

"Dad, it was Doug. He was possessed….or one of them, something. I didn't see him…"

"Not your fault…" Caleb panted. "Deuce, tell him…"

"Shut up, Damien." He felt Dean's hand come to his head. "Save your breath."

"I'm sorry." Caleb looked from his nephew to Dean. "This is not the ending I had in mind…"


Part 4


"Dad, in Great Expectations, do you think Pip is really Charles Dickens?" Mary was reading one of the classics in Sam's home office. He was glad she read books instead of just reading them from a computer tablet.

Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm not that old. I never met Charles Dickens, were talking 1800s, Mary."

"You know what I mean." She waved off his answer.

He was glad his daughter had changed her plans. Mary wanted to celebrate Winter Solstice with the coven and Christmas with the Winchesters instead of celebrating the whole Christmas break with her mother. So Lydia was flying in to spend some time with her daughter in the United States, it would be spa week in LA. Mary had mentioned that Josie was jealous.

Lydia and Sam made it work. Lydia found it easier to deal with Mary as she got older and became what Lydia thought was a mini adult.

She looked nothing like an adult now with her feet draped over the wings of the chair as she sat curled up reading a book with a glass of milk and the rest of her breakfast on the floor. They had gotten up early, both into their early routines. Sam stayed home too, catching up on lesson plans for the next term. He tried not to think about the fact he would not see Mary for a week after tomorrow.

He was reading some cases he wanted to add to his Criminal Law Class when he felt the zing of The Triad connection. He was jolted. The sudden movement alerted his daughter, he was not quick enough to school his reaction.

"Dad, something wrong?" Mary asked, placing her finger in the book as a momentary bookmark.

"Uh," he grabbed his cellphone as he stood. "I forgot I had a phone call to make." He gestured to the door. "Stay here. I'll be back." Sam was already hitting speed dial before he made it out the door.

He called Dean. No answer.

He called Caleb. No answer.

Sam recalled they were on a hunt with JT and Ryker somewhere Alabama. He called JT.

There was no answer.

Sam rubbed a hand down his face, willing the phone to glow with a call. He didn't know how long he stayed staring at his phone, but it was long enough for Mary to come looking for him.


He reacted quickly, opening the refrigerator. "Hey, I thought we could have a snack." There was nothing on the shelves that he recognized, in haste to cover up his worry he pulled out a head of lettuce.

"You want to have a salad? But I'm still full from breakfast." Mary tilted her head, her blonde hair cascading to one side of her head. "Can I help?"

Sam held onto to the lettuce as his phone rang, only getting one beat of Back in Black before his clipped answer, "Dean, what's going on?"

He listened, turning slightly away from his daughter so she could not read any expressions on his face. The lettuce still tucked close to him. Caleb was grievously wounded, extensive damage to his midsection. He'd been medflighted to The University of Alabama Hospital, which had a Level 1 Trauma Unit. He assured and promised Dean to get there as soon as possible.

Mary had not moved from where she had been standing, getting the gist of bad news. Sam placed a hand on her shoulder, spoke to her softly, "Go upstairs and pack a bag. You're going to be staying with Josie."

"What happened?" Mary's eyes filled up with concern.

Sam bent down to be more on his daughter's level. "Uncle Caleb got hurt on a hunt."

"Is he going to be all right?"

"Sure he is, Sweetie," he promised Mary. "Sure he is." There was no other choice. He would not tell his daughter anything differently about her beloved uncle.

He called Joshua, since Ben, Max and James were with him to make plans for them to get to Birmingham quickly. Carolyn was the next phone call. She would take care of Mary and contact Juliet.

Mary sensed her father was upset, and remained quiet in their drive to the Sawyer home. The kids had not known the state of worry their fathers and uncles had grown up with. Going up against demons and the supernatural then had led to an inordinate amount of serious injuries and the realization of the power of death. Sam didn't want his daughter to have that deep of understanding, not for a long time.

Carolyn hugged him and Mary when she saw them, also giving him airline information to a private plane she chartered. Joshua and the boys would meet him there.

Mary gave him an extra strong hug, gripping onto him. "Tell Uncle Caleb to get better." Josie echoed the same. The girls flanked Carolyn in the doorway, leaving Sam with a disquieting image.

Sam got to the hospital first, glad to have time with his brother before Joshua and the boys came. The staff directed him to the waiting room. His brother, nephew and Ryker would not be contained by a room; instead they were in the hallway, standing by for news.

He was fearful of the news. It was not just the fluorescent lighting that was making them all look sickly. Sam could feel the suffocating weight of dread permeating their minds. He hugged JT, shook hands with Ryker and huddled with Dean, a few steps away from the younger men. "What happened?"

Dean bowed his head, rubbed a hand over half his face. "It went after JT, and Caleb stopped it."

As usual The Knight had sacrificed himself, as his duty dictated. Sam glanced at his nephew and Ryker, this was The Brotherhood they had not seen, only something they read about in the journals. "What did the doctors say?"

"S'not good. Had to resuscitate, intubate." Dean gave a twisted grin. "You know Damien, can't do things half way. They had to stabilize him before prepping him for surgery."

Sam squeezed his brother's shoulder. "He's gonna pull through. He promised Mary and Josie a trip to Europe. He doesn't want to disappoint them."

Dean gave him a nod. "I'm just going to take a walk." As he passed his son, Dean reached out and patted JT's face. Sam could see JT lean into the touch. Dean walked to the end of the hallway to look out the large window that overlooked the parking lot.

Sam propped against the wall near his nephew. Ryker cleared his throat. "I'm going to make a coffee run. Anyone else?"

"Coffee would be good. Thank you," Sam replied, dismissing Ryker to attend to his task.

"How are you holding up?" Sam asked, trying to catch JT's eyes, but his nephew was focused on the ground.

"I couldn't get a clear shot. I was able to wing it so it dropped the knife, but. . ." JT shook his head, his hair falling forward. His nephew followed a pattern of a buzz cut during the baseball season, and letting it grow during the off season. His hair was getting to its longer length.

"You did what you could." Sam moved in closer so their shoulders were touching. "You did what Caleb would expect."

"No, I didn't." JT shook his head. "I thought the area was secured. I let him go, and he came back to hurt Uncle Caleb."

"It's not your fault, JT." Sam placed a hand on his nephew's shoulder. He hated to see JT take the blame on something beyond his control. His nephew took his responsibility seriously, embraced it, much like his father.

JT shrugged off the reassurance. "I didn't do right by Uncle Caleb. Not at all."

Sam stayed by his quiet nephew, shared a cup of coffee with Ryker, who filled him in on the hunt. Dean stood next to his son after his break at the window. They remained in hush tones until Joshua arrived with the other boys in tow.

Soon there was a cacophony of too many people talking at once. Ben disappeared to speak to the doctors, using the medical connection that Mac used to do when they were younger. It was good to have a doctor in the family to continue the tradition.

Joshua had cornered Max and James, keeping them from thoughts of revenge. Sam was attempting to talk sense to the two hotheads, then started threatening them with being relegated to the cafeteria on his order if they didn't calm down. Joshua remained their prison guard, not trusting them on their word.

Dean was waiting for Ben to return with some news, effectively ignoring the ruckus. He stayed by the elevator, arms crossed over his chest. Ben came out of the elevator, almost walking into his father. He was rolling his sleeves down.

Sam joined his brother and Ben by the elevator. Joshua and Ryker were allowing them privacy by holding back Max and James. JT had moved closer, but kept a distance between the two groups, enough to overhear and report back, Sam gathered.

"They won't let me scrub in," Ben looked back at the elevator with disgust. "I can watch from the gallery."

"What happened to all that arrogance Mac taught you when dealing with other MDs?" Dean asked, but it was a flat joke, only eliciting a slight grin from Ben, who Sam had seen use the same arrogance as Mac on other occasions with zest.

"About Mac, it might be time to call him," Ben stated, a quick glance to his brothers. He lowered his voice, "it looks bad, Dad."

Sam saw the shock that flashed on Dean's face. He wanted to relieve his brother of the difficult task. "I'll call him, Dean."

"This isn't a Scholar to Scholar to chat," Dean snapped, then rubbed the back of his hand against his mouth. "I'll call him, Sam," his voice was apologetic. "I just need a moment, okay?" Dean got into the elevator, heading outside, or to the chapel, maybe both.

Ben disappeared after reporting the news to his brothers, Joshua and Ryker. He went to the gallery to watch the surgery. Ryker went on another drink and food run. The nurses and medical staff seemed to be avoiding the corridor that they had taken up. Dean eventually returned, looking a little pale. Bad news was always hard to give to a loved one.

"Mac and Esme are on their way."

"You had to call him, Dean," Sam whispered to his brother.

Dean nodded, acknowledging the fact, even though he may not like it. "Is JT here?" Dean looked around.

Sam saw the other boys, but not JT. "I thought he was in the chapel with you?" He reached out with his abilities; he could tell when his family was about. The familiarity of JT was missing. "He's not in the hospital."

"Where is he?" Dean asked, leaving Sam and going to where Joshua was watching Max and James. "Where's JT?"

"I don't know," James answered. "He was sitting over there awhile ago, I guess."

"Jimmy?" Dean's voice was hard.

"I swear, Dad. I'm telling the truth." James eyed Max.

Max had his phone to his ear. "His phone goes to voicemail." He snapped the phone shut. "He's gone after the guy who did this to Uncle Caleb."

Sam was incredulous, as was James.

"JT?" James stuttered. "My level-headed, golden brother? Revenge? Dude, I don't think so."

Max took a few steps towards where JT had been the last time. "I should have kept an eye on him."

Joshua placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "He seemed composed."

"He felt guilty," Sam admitted the conversation he had earlier with JT. "It wasn't his fault."

"JT would not just leave. He doesn't do that. Are you sure he's not with Ben?" James pressed, arms crossed in disbelief of his brother's disappearance.

"I can't sense him. Can you?" Sam asked, knowing that James's abilities also had him form some sort of psychic connection with his family and close friends.

James paused, then shook his head. He had no sense of his brother's presence either. "He's not here."

Max glanced at James. "JT would go after the nutjob who hurt his family. Your brother can be intense when he wants to be. Driven. Have you seen him play baseball?"

"If you know my brother so well, why the hell didn't you do your job and stick close to him?" James retorted with an eyebrow cocking up in challenge.

Max took a threatening step towards the younger boy, but Sam was quicker. He placed an arm between the two. Joshua pulled Max back a bit, he brushed off his father's concern. "I'm mad at myself, not the twerp. He's right. I knew JT would do something like this."

"Dean, we can go after him," Sam announced. JT could not have that much of a head start.

Dean shook his head. "No, Sam."

"But, he's out there alone. He's never hunted alone before," Sam continued. He could not understand why Dean was acting so nonchalant about his missing son. "I don't think it's a good idea."

Dean's lips thinned, his eyes narrowed. "It's my son and I'm The Guardian." He patted Sam's arm. "He'll come back."

"Dad, I want to go. Max, too. We can find JT-" James spoke up, moving closer to Max.

"Ryker, watch them," Dean ordered, lifting an eyebrow at his youngest son. "No one else is to leave this hospital until I give the all clear. I'm going to check on Ben and Caleb."

"Yes, Sir," Ryker replied, standing at attention.

Sam glanced between Dean's retreating back and Ryker's alertness.

"Do you really think you can stop me?" Max growled, stepping close to Ryker, and dwarfed by future Advisor's height.

Ryker placed his arms out. "Sawyer, stand down. I've been given an order that I plan to follow. You can either wait here conscious or unconscious. It's your decision."

"You'd have to take us both out." James was shoulder to shoulder with Max now.

Sam gave Ryker credit. His resolve didn't waver. "That would be unfortunate, but highly probable."

"Fighting is the last thing we need," Sam said softly. "It's the last thing Caleb would want." He watched the tension between the boys dissipate.

Joshua took the reprieve to extricate himself from the situation by moving closer to Sam, away from his son. "I think things are well in order here," Joshua said, relieved of his charges. "Perhaps we can check in with Carolyn?"

Sam nodded. He hadn't checked in with Mary, and wanted to talk to her before she left on the trip with her mother. He had hoped to give her good news about her uncle; instead he was going to ask her to keep the faith for Caleb, and he would keep it for JT, too.


Part 5


No radio, window down just enough to let in some cool air, and there was deafening silence. JT did not need any distractions, not even the bright sunny almost winter sky, he knew what he had to do, was reminded by the flakes of blood still staining his fingernails. He had held his shirt on Uncle Caleb's wound, trying to keep him from bleeding out. Then he did the unthinkable, couldn't stop himself after his father had ordered Ryker to call for a medivac.

"Belay that order!" JT had called out.

Ryker had a stunned look. "What?"

"Drop the phone," JT gritted out, keep the pressure on the wound. His father was by Caleb's head. "Dad, we have a bunch of burning bodies, those bikes, and it won't take a genius to figure out this wasn't a random accident." They wouldn't be helping Uncle Caleb if they were in jail. They would also be exposing The Brotherhood, the hunters.

His father had turned toward Ryker, but kept a hand on his best friend's shoulder. "Is there anything to make it go faster?"

"Yeah." Ryker bobbed his head up and down. "I need 15 minutes, and hope I can control the smoke."

His father gave JT a nod. The smoke would have to be a calculated risk. "Go, then meet us two miles out. I'll take care of the bikes."

"Okay," Ryker had answered before disappearing back into the woods.

His father moved so that he could take over JT's job.

"Dad, I'm sorry," JT had said, finding the apology lame.

"You keep breathing, Damien. Don't you dare quit," his father had ordered Caleb, hands replacing JT's on the wound.

JT had given a quick look at the dozen bikes. He would have to work fast, but he saw his pack and the medical kit. He brought them to his dad, pulling out the compression bandage and an herb from Joshua's kit. "Put this on the wound. It's supposed to slow down the bleeding."

He had taken each bike, revving the engine and dropping them into the nearby pond, running back as the motorcycle was submerged. He would swear later that there was another force helping, the water churned, and it was not from the running engines, but helping to crush the bikes with force of the strongest element.

JT was almost halfway done when his phone buzzed. He pulled it from his cargo pants. "It's Uncle Sam," he had called out to his dad.

"He's already called Caleb and me," his father had answered, unwavering by Uncle Caleb's side. "Keep going," he had spurred JT. "Five more minutes and we need to make that call."

He hid the last bike, making sure it could not be found, covering it with leaves, branches, anything to make it look like it was part of the forest. His dad had called the medivac unit already, and JT could here the clicking sound of a helicopter. Distant sirens were also coming in their direction.

"Hear that, Damien. You're always about the drama, but now you're an attention whore." JT heard his father say as he added his hands to the keeping compression on the wound. Uncle Caleb looked worse, waxy and pale, his lips losing their healthy pinkness.

"Dad, I'm gonna say he got stabbed, and that we were going to go for a morning hike." This was why JT did not lie, because when he did it had to be believable, and he didn't want to waste lies on the mundane.

The police believed it, especially when JT added that the perpetrator looked like he was on drugs. There was a drug problem in Booneville, underground, but still an issue according to JT's research.

JT had to check his feelings as they loaded Uncle Caleb on the stretcher and into the helicopter. His father had stood stoic, watching from a distance after the paramedics had asked him to move away so they could work. He had his phone by his ear, relating to Uncle Sam what had happened.

There was not enough room in the helicopter so JT drove, picking up Ryker two miles from the site.

"Did it work?"

"Yeah, they didn't suspect anything," JT had answered. His father was staring out the window watching the blur of scenery go by as JT ignored the posted speed limits.

When Uncle Sam had come to the hospital he had tried to convince JT that it wasn't his fault. But, his uncle had not been there, had not seen that JT may have relegated Caleb to die. JT likened it to murder in his mind, if Uncle Caleb died, then JT was an accomplice.

He had hatched the plan in his mind, planned his time to slip away. He was glad Max had been occupied by his own need for revenge. It distracted Max from focusing on JT. James would never suspect his brother to run away, always believing JT could do no wrong.

JT was going back to Booneville to find Doug. He hadn't given the name to the police, buying him time, although he wondered if the police would investigate. They were out-of-towners.

He hid his truck further from the clearing, and where Caleb had been stabbed. He suddenly hated this town, held it against them that something bad had happened to his uncle while in its confines. He had to track Douglas. His uncle said he was the best at it, being patient and able to read the land. JT couldn't track every move, but enough to deduce that Douglas had returned to the main part of town.

JT packed his backpack with the essentials and hiked back to where he had hidden the motorcycle by the pond. The water was serene now, not churning like a sudden storm. JT tilted his head, it sounded as if the pond was humming.

There was no wind, an unnatural stillness in fact, no birds chirping or sounds of the wilderness. JT felt he was in a trance, almost stayed rapt until he reminded himself he had a job to do.

He took the branches and debris off the bike, started it easy. He rode dirt bikes with Max on occasion, enjoying being more out in the open than in a car. He wasn't wearing a helmet; there was not one with the motorcycle. He kept his sweatshirt hood up, cap on top, and with a jacket he felt the cold as the wind bit through his clothes. It was not a deterrent. JT made his way back to the Bear Cat, Douglas's girlfriend; Delilah was a waitress at the bar. With her address he would have one more clue.

There were no cars in the parking lot. It was a Sunday; JT had checked when the Bear Cat was opened on his phone. Thankfully, they were closed on Sunday so it would be a simple breaking and entering.

Uncle Caleb had taught him and the others with the caveat to only use the nefarious skills in desperate situations. James had used them to break into the school gym to shoot some hoops because it was cold outside, then had gotten caught. James lived in detention.

JT made quick work of the lock, put his tools away, but kept the gloves on. He found the file cabinet in the one room office. It was a bit disorganized, and he had to rifle through to find Delilah Beeds and her current address. With it memorized he closed the file, and put everything back to where it was before. No one would know he was there.

He still felt like a shadow when he reached Delilah's double wide trailer. He parked the motorcycle a distance away, hiding it on the secluded street. It was a dirt road, off the trail with a neighbor being a half a mile down the road.

In towns like this space was still abundant. JT considered himself a country boy at heart, liking the openness over the stifling city. Between his Scout and hunting training, he blended into the background. He did it well; it was easier not to draw attention to himself unless it came to baseball. JT couldn't help it, everything narrowed to finite detail when he played. He was hyper aware, like a hunt, like getting the perfect picture.

When he reached the door, his senses told him to take it all in. There was no movement inside as far as he could confirm from observing the windows. He knocked on the door, direct confrontation always being the first choice to subterfuge. There was no answer.

All JT needed was information on Doug to figure out where he would go with a bullet wound. He did not want to leave any collateral damage. He put his hand on the doorknob, and twisted it slowly, but with ample pressure. It opened with a smothered click.

He closed the door behind him, pulling out the tools of the hunting trade from his bag. He smelled the blood before he saw anything. All he could think of was that stupid old song, 'Hey there, Delilah, something, something. . .'

It was stuck in his mind now, as he bent down, fruitlessly checked her pulse with the faintest hope she was not dead. He gently closed her fixed eyes.

There was a blood trail. Delilah had been stabbed, and tried to escape. He stepped carefully down the short hall, drawing his gun, and knife from its arm sheath. There was someone else in the trailer, hiding. JT stopped and took a leap of faith; he backed into the kitchen and slashed at the figure hidden behind the wall.

Douglas roared, blood on his hands, lurching at JT with an unnatural strength. JT hit him with the butt of the gun, stunning Douglas for a moment. He repeated the action, seeing that he had wounded Douglas's arm with a gun shot, Douglas retaliating with a gut shot. JT snorted, slashed with the knife he still held onto, then placed a front kick in Douglas's solar plexus, causing the other man to stumble. JT took the opening, brought the gun again down on Douglas's temple, and he was unconscious.

With a huff he dragged Doug, quickly got his duffle and supplies, securing him to a chair so Doug was unable to move, making sure the wounded arm was in an awkward and painful position. JT did some investigating of the home, finding some other supplies he would need for later.

Doug moaned, JT lumbered over him, knife in hand. He pulled Doug up by his hair. "What happened to you man? I talked to you in the bar. You were normal."

He wasn't now. Doug was animalistic, twitchy, and waiting JT out.

"I thought they were going to kill you." JT let go of Douglas's hair, but not without a good shove. "Instead you tried to kill my uncle. You hurt my family. Say. Something," JT grit out.

Douglas licked his lip, smacking his mouth on the blood that trickled down from his nose. "I chose this. I didn't want to die."

JT brought his K-bar knife to Douglas's throat, pricking him so he bled more. "So you chose to be a psychopath?"

"I am a satyr, a brethren of Lillith, se'irim. I am to be worshipped." Douglas strained against the handcuffs and bonds.

JT was stunned. "A satyr. Shit." In Greek mythology they were the companions of Dionysus, drunken, sexually brazen, but not violent. They were pranksters according to the myths. JT had learned from the journals and books that the supernatural was not always like the myths and legends, more like a hybrid. In the Talmund there were se'irim and they were demons. Doug was saying se'irim were satyrs. "Why are you doing this? Why are you killing people? Your own girlfriend." He waved his hand towards Delilah, covered with a sheet out of respect. "Answer me!" He backfisted Douglas.

"Sacrifices. They were chosen as sacrifices to continue on. Some like me are given another choice to become one of them." Douglas snarled.

JT snorted in disgust. "Not much of a choice."

Doug sniffed the air. "You have the choice, too. You can join me, become a satyr."

"Sorry, but not enough benefits-"

Douglas interrupted, almost purring as he spoke, "Long life, celebrating, freed from the constraints we set for ourselves that society sets."

"You realize you're tied up, and I'm immune to your spell." JT had kept the talisman Ryker had made. "You didn't free yourself, you doomed yourself," JT whispered in Douglas's ear before he set the rest of his plan in motion.

JT threw the match behind him as he left the trailer. It would look like a murder suicide, and the fire would take care of any other evidence, though JT made sure he wiped down anything he could have possibly touched.

His plan was to dump the bike, and get back to his truck, drive back to the hospital. He brought the motorcycle to same pond the others had been dropped in, but this time he was being called to it. The whispering was now distinctly clear, holding him rapt in communion.


Part 6


Dean sensed his son's presence as he sat in Caleb's room. He quietly excused himself, Mac not really noticing that he was leaving, the doctor was dedicated to his son as Dean was to his sons.

He had sent Sam and Joshua with the boys to rent out some rooms for the night as dusk began to descend. Sam had restrained himself, wanting to press Dean further about JT. Sam could not see how hard it was for Dean. He wanted to go after JT, bring him back, keep him safe. But, this wasn't the time to be a father- it was the time to be The Guardian.

The role of dad and Guardian crossed on rare occasions. He had accepted his sons' training a long time ago, trusted those involved to watch over his sons, the most precious part of his life.

He would never say JT was his favorite, but he was the one that he tried to pay the most attention to. JT had been displaced back when he was a toddler with Ben coming into the family right before James's birth. JT went from older brother to middle brother in the span of a short time. Dean always felt a little guilty of the circumstances, believing JT's pensive nature was a result of becoming a middle child.

Their connection was strong, not because of baseball, though Dean was grateful that gene was passed down. Now he was being guided to the chapel, down the elevator into the hallway. He knew what had led JT to seek prayer and solace. He knew exactly what his son had done.

It was a small room, more open space than holy, but the simple cross and altar was enough to bring about a connection. There were chairs set up in rows, and there he found JT with his head bowed.

Dean slipped in next to his son. JT had grown up, not just in height, which had happened two years ago in a growth spurt, surpassing his father. He had always had an old soul, responsible and wiser than he needed to be. But now he carried a weight.

He remained quiet, noticing the marks on his son's hands, signs he had beaten someone. Dean tentatively reached out, held himself back from interrupting. His son's head remained bowed down.

"I saw her- the Lady of the Lake," JT said with a hoarse voice. He cleared his throat, turned his head, looking up at Dean with red rimmed eyes.

Dean bent over so he matched his son. JT never hid his emotions. "She gets around."

JT clasped his hands together as if in prayer. "She's The Guardian's secret."

He had never talked about the Lady of the Lake with anyone; people knew the Guardian's connection with water, but nothing more. Dean was now passing that knowledge to his son. "Yes."

"I've never heard her before." JT wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and sat up.

Dean followed suit. "She didn't have to intervene with you." He put a hand on his son's knee and squeezed, sensing that it was okay for some physical contact. "That's a good thing."

JT nodded, tightlipped. "The nurse said Uncle Caleb's out of surgery."

"Mac's with him. He's going to be fine," Dean reassured his son. "You want to tell me what happened out there?" Dean dared not to make eye contact with his son, focusing on the simple cross against the wall, the figure of a risen Jesus.

JT did not answer right away. "I took care of it," he said eventually.

This time Dean nodded. In The Prince, Machiavelli states that for a leader it is better to be feared than loved. JT always had the kind heart of The Guardian, but was missing the cold calculation of a military leader. JT had killed the person involved. Dean had already received a report about the burning house, and could guess the rest. JT had lost a bit of his soul with the ruthlessness of the job, but that was needed.

Dean felt a pang of regret. He never wanted JT (or Ben and James for that matter) to lose their innocence like Sam had. It was inevitable and a necessary evil. Dean pulled out the silver band from the pocket of his jeans. He felt the momentary zing he got from all the rings he created. "When your uncle wakes up, you can show him this." Dean took his son's hand, opened it and placed the ring on JT's palm.

JT grasped the band, covering it as if to hide it from view. "Dad, I don't know if I can do this. I'm not who they think I am. Some golden boy." JT took in a breath, his eyes pleading. "I'm not you."

Dean was taken aback. He never wanted his kids to feel like they had to be Dean clones. He had tried to be like his father, and discovered he could not be John Winchester. "Geez, kid, no one's asking you to be me."

JT shook his head, blonde hair mussed. "You wouldn't have let the guy go; you wouldn't have made a mistake to get Uncle Caleb hurt." He started to stand.

Dean pulled his son's sleeve, forcing him to sit back down. "JT, I've done much worse." He twisted the silver band. "You remind me of Gideon. He had a chance of being The Guardian instead of me." In the early days after Gideon's death, Dean believed the other hunter would have been the better choice for The Triad. During the apocalypse he often asked himself what Gideon would have done differently-probably forsaken Sam for the good of the many.

JT pushed his hair back, cocked his head with a look that made him look more like a curious ten year old. "I've read the journals, Ethan told me some stuff, too."

"Lane was a Boy Scout," Dean explained. "He would have made a great Guardian, but different from me."

"You're the best Guardian the Brotherhood has ever seen," JT said with sincerity and pride.

At these times of validation, Dean wondered how many times he had said the same to Pastor Jim, probably not enough. "I don't know about that." Dean rubbed his chin. "I was The Guardian needed for the time. I think Gideon knew that. It will be the same for you and your Triad when it is your era." Dean had been called to do terrible things, make unimaginable and heartbreaking sacrifices. He hoped his children were not forced to face similar fates. "I have a lot of faith in the next generation." He tapped his son's leg.

JT still looked unconvinced as his hand still remained in a vice grip over the ring. "I don't think I'm ready."

Dean thought his son was lucky to have this opportunity to be under the tutelage of the current Guardian. Dean had missed this step, but he could make sure his son understood the pitfalls of the situation and would be prepared to deal with them. "You've got a hard job, a brother and a best friend as part of your Triad, like me."

"You make it look easy," JT replied, the grip on the ring seemed to loosen.

"Well, it's not." Dean rolled his eyes. Not all his gray hairs could be blamed on his boys, some were owned by Sam and Caleb. "I'm the shoot first, ask questions later, quicker to help those close to me and damn everyone else."

JT snorted, shook his head. "You don't do that."

"Its okay, JT." Dean gave his son a sidelong glance. "That's my style. It's not right or wrong. It just is." The Brotherhood had not faltered with him at the helm with his attitude. Pastor Jim had been somewhat the same, too. He had the implicit trust of his family, friends and the other hunters.

"Dad, I'd be responsible for them. They don't realize I make mistakes. Big ones."

"Dude, you've been responsible for them since you like four years old," Dean reminded his son. JT was in the thick of their plans, but it was to keep Max and James from getting into too much trouble. "Do you always try to do what you think is right?"

"Yeah," JT nodded.

"Then, I'm not worried." Dean placed his hand over JT's and waited.

JT opened his palm and slipped the ring on his left hand. He touched the band after he set it in place.

There were lots of moments of pride with his boys, but giving them their rings, seeing them wearing them, made him gruff with emotion. "Do you want to see your uncle?" Dean stood, his son followed. "Your brother and best friend are looking for you, too."

JT shifted his head side to side as if waiting for his Triad to show up in the chapel. "I'm surprised they didn't follow me."

"I ordered them not to," Dean explained, leading the way out of the sacred space.

"And they listened? That's impressive." JT clapped Dean on the shoulder with a chuckle that had Dean joining in as if it was The Guardians' private joke.

*****************THE BROTHERHOOD LEGACY**************************


When Caleb woke up again he felt the haze of drugs cocooning him. He knew he had been lucid before, but didn't know when, because his father's face was distinct in his mind.

He was in the hospital, recalled being stabbed by some lunatic. He didn't remember anything further after collapsing, but enough had happened if Mac was by his bedside. "Dad?" his voice was barely a whisper, dried from the oxygen mask pouring air into his mouth and nose. But, it was enough of a sound for his father to hear him.

"Caleb," his father answered, lifting the mask, and placing a straw near his lips. Mac's bedside manner had improved with age. "I think you're awake this time."

Caleb tentatively began drinking small sips, feeling the water cool his throat. He wanted to move, but sensed the wires attached to him. He concentrated on remaining calm, and focusing away from his abilities. With this many drugs running through his system he would get odd, jumbled images that were unlike visions. "How long?"

"Enough time for Esme and I to get to Alabama, you to have surgery, and me to still be waiting here for you to wake up," Mac replied as he pulled the mask away, and placed the cannula instead.

He was thankful he did not have a tube down his throat, anything else, although irritating, he could deal with. "Where is everyone?" He expected, par the course that his family would be there waiting for him to awaken.

Mac patted his arm as he took a seat by Caleb's bedside. "Dean just stepped out. Joshua and Sam took Esme and the boys to a local hotel."

Caleb's sense of time was off, and would not recuperate until he had a normal sleep cycle in his own bed. "But JT's okay?"

Mac looked over his glasses, reading the monitors. "As far as I know."

"What does that mean?" Caleb was more alert, worried about his godson. He was tempted to stretch out his abilities.

"I haven't seen him," Mac replied, less distracted. "I'm sure he's fine. Everyone was here, but I was concentrating on you."

Caleb relaxed- all the boys together could be overwhelming, especially with someone hurt. He noticed how tired and worn his father looked. "Dad, maybe you should go to the hotel, too?"

Mac shook his head, pulled his glasses off, and folded them into his pocket. "You gave me a scare, Caleb. I thought these days were behind us."

"Sorry, Dad. It won't happen again." Caleb moved his hand towards his injury to figure out the damage.

His father moved his arm away, tucking him back in. "Somehow I don't know if that is a promise you can keep."

"With the Winchesters around?" Caleb snorted, feeling a reply in his wound, which twinged. "I doubt it."

"What about the Winchesters?" Dean questioned as the door was pushed fully open.

JT, much to Caleb's relief, was with his father. He went over to Mac's side of the bed. "Hi, Grandpa," JT enveloped his grandfather in a hug.

The exchange gave Caleb time to notice a change in his nephew. He quickly glanced at Dean, confirming his suspicions when Deuce winked at him.

"Your uncle was looking for you," Mac said, making room for JT to get closer to the bed.

JT stuffed his hands in his pockets, head bowed. "Uncle Caleb, I'm sorry. You got hurt because of me-."

JT was much like his father, believing he was to blame because he had been in the position of responsibility. Caleb used to accuse John for the burden, but now he saw it was an instinctive trait within the Winchester genes. "Whoa, as far as I know you weren't the guy who attacked me."

"I should have taken care of the situation better." JT shook his head.

Caleb set his eyes on the silver band as JT placed his hands on the bed rails. "I'm guessing you did because Deuce listened to me."

"Yeah, it was all your idea to give JT his ring," Dean remarked, relaxing in a chair, looking worn.

"Congratulations," Mac added, clapping JT on the back.

JT blushed with embarrassment of the attention he was receiving. More attention was coming his way as the door opened again with James in the lead.

"Caleb's awake and your brother received his ring," Mac announced to the new arrivals.

"JT got his ring?" James truly looked shocked, frowned when he saw the band on JT's hand. "I so thought that I would get it before you, be even younger than Uncle Sam."

Max swatted James. "Uncle Caleb's awake." Joshua's son acknowledged, relieved.

James gave a jaunty salute to Caleb. "I told you he was awake." James's abilities let him sense when his 'people' were nearby even though he still wore the medicine bag Joshua had made him, which prevented spirits from constricting him, especially in a hospital.

"When do I take your word for anything?" Max answered, hovering near Caleb's leg, but not going any further. "You're delusional most of the time."

Evidently, once they checked that Caleb was going to be fine, their focus was on JT. Caleb felt like a spectator.

"Don't do that again." Max punched JT in the shoulder. "I'm supposed to be the impetuous one of the group."

JT rolled his eyes at Caleb, who smirked at his nephew's response. "I'm just full of surprises."

"Guess you are." James snorted, staying near his dad. "'cause if I ever pulled that stunt, then I'd be punished."

Dean looked up from his chair to his youngest son. "Glad you know where I stand, Little Man."

Caleb narrowed his eyes. There was something else going on, and he wished his abilities were online so he could figure it out. "Did I miss something?"

"This is just how I used to feel with you boys, but eventually the truth would come out." Mac had his arms crossed looking smug.

JT absently scratched the back of his neck. "It's all taken care of."

"You alright?" Dean asked his best friend.

Caleb was growing tired, but liked to catch the glimpses of the future, of what the next Triad would be. He picked up his hand to wave off the concern, but got as far as wiggling a few fingers.

"The nurse is complaining about too many people being in the room," Sam said as he stuck his head in the room. "Joshua is keeping her at bay for now."

Max seemed to take that as a cue. "Come on, JT. You look like shit. Let's get you something to eat."

JT glanced to his father and Caleb. "I'm not really hungry."

"There's a girl in the caf that Max is convinced likes him," James commented, sitting on the edge of Dean's chair in a precarious balancing position.

"What's not to like?" Max gestured to himself, jean clad with a tight long sleeve t-shirt. Caleb had to smirk as Max reminded him of himself at that age. "I'm the total package."

"In your dreams," James replied pushing off the chair to standing.

JT stood between them and sighed. "I'd love a Sonic Burger."

"There's one down the street." Max pulled JT out, and James followed behind after their well wishes to Caleb and promises to see him the next day. Sam held the door open for them.

Caleb allowed his eyes to fall shut for a moment.

"Mother and you are registered at the hotel. If you are ready, then I can take you back there." It was Joshua speaking. He must have come in with Sam.

Caleb opened his eyes. "Dad, let Josh take you back to the hotel."

"It's good to see you awake," Josh said with a curt nod. "And I hope that your father takes your advice as you are now out of any danger."

"Fine." Mac huffed. "I am capable of making a decision, no need to double team."

Caleb gave Josh thumbs up as Mac turned to put his coat on. They were getting better at maneuvering the parents to do what they wanted instead of what they always wanted to do.

With everyone gone it was just The Triad.

"Birthday in a hospital, Dude. You got to find a better way to celebrate," Deuce commented, scraping his chair closer to the hospital bed.

"He stopped counting birthdays, remember? It's perpetual 39," Sam replied, taking up the seat Mac had vacated on the other side.

Caleb felt calm, even though he had been insulted. "Shut up. When you look this good, you can get away with it." He smiled as he mirrored his own nephew's line, one he was sure he had invented back in the day.

"I wouldn't look in a mirror for awhile if I were you, Damien."

With his eyes shut, Caleb could picture the Winchester brothers having a silent conversation about The Knight's injuries. "Are you going to tell me what happened with JT?"

There was a faint rustling. "He's going to be the next Guardian. Isn't that the important part?"

Their plan was coming together, working out like it was supposed to, and Caleb had been a part of it. He hated that he had to get hurt for someone to get their ring, but it was worth the sacrifice. Encouraging a hopeful future was always worth it. "Yeah, I guess it is."

The End.