Thank you to everyone supporting this story! I may not reply to all the reviews, but know that I read and love them all.
Sorry this is later than usual; I hope you all enjoy!
I do not own Supernatural.
John and Bobby stayed up late arguing - quietly, so they wouldn't wake the boys exhausted from all the excitement of killing Lilith. The next morning, John pulled the impala into the lot of a roadhouse with minimal grumbling, a stark contrast to Bobby's triumphant grin.
"Come on, John," the elder hunter cajoled. "It'll be good for the boys."
"'Boys'?" Dean squawked from the back. "There is only one 'boy' in this car, and it's not me."
"Hey!" Sammy complained, but was distracted by a formidable woman exiting the roadhouse to stare at the impala, stance wide and arms crossed. "Uh, Dad, who is she?" Whoever she was, she looked ready for battle, and the teenage girl who came out to stand beside her did nothing to bely that image.
"That," John sighed. "Is Ellen Harvelle and her daughter Jo. They own this place, and their family has resources that, hopefully, they'll share with us."
"Despite the fact Ellen has good reason to hate your daddy," Bobby added.
John grumbled under his breath, but climbed out of the impala braced for an assault. It came like a tidal wave.
"John Winchester!" Ellen yelled, marching up to him. "What in the world made you think it was a good idea to come back around here?"
"Hello, Ellen," the eldest Winchester nodded, doing his best to appear relaxed. "I didn't, but the crazy hunter in my passenger seat did."
Her eyes turned to Bobby as he got out of the car, and she fought a smile. "Bobby Singer. Same question I asked him. You know our history -"
"He needs help, Ellen, and I've never known you to deny it to anyone," Bobby raised an eyebrow, silently asking if she was about to start now. Behind him, the back doors of the impala opened and two boys climbed out looking awfully curious about the precedings.
"Jo," Ellen said calmly. "Take John's boys in to get something to eat."
"No 'but's, Joanna Beth. Get inside."
Grumbling under her breath, Jo obeyed her mother, beckoning Sam and Dean after her.
Ten minutes later, the teenagers all looked up from their food to see the adults coming in. "Boys," John announced. "Ellen has been kind enough to rent us her extra rooms for the next few months." Ellen nodded a hello, and then turned towards the kitchen, John and Bobby in tow. And that was that.
The Winchesters and Bobby stayed at the Roadhouse for as long as they could, combing through the small collection of books Ellen had and interviewing the hunters that stopped in, searching for any information on inter-dimensional travel. Inevitably, they came up empty - all theories were just that, theories - and inevitably, they left. They couldn't sit still for long, especially when nothing came from it. They're hunters, after all. A hunter hunts.
They wiped out a werewolf pack in Illinois, a den of djinn in Missouri, a lone shapeshifter with quite the reputation as a grifter in Kansas. In Colorado they stumbled on a hibernating wendigo, Arizona brought a pack of werecoyotes, and they discovered man-eating mermaids in California. Oregon brought some kind of rock spirit that even Bobby couldn't name.
Singer stayed with them long enough to reach South Dakota, but then he left for home. The Winchesters continued to work their way around the United States, never staying in one place for more than a few weeks, never slowing long enough to get attached. A year went by, then two.
John and Dean taught Sammy everything they could, and he soaked it up like a sponge. They didn't want to risk losing him like they'd lost the other Sam, and he didn't want to be a liability on hunts. The Winchesters became better than they ever had been, preparing for the apocalypse to come. Mistakes made once were never made again. Only injuries slowed them down, and even those delays didn't last long. The Winchesters didn't let them.
Another year went by, and then another. In the other world, Sam knew, at this age he had been shaking loose the bit, applying to colleges and scholarships. Not in this one. After four and a half years of solid family business, with the warnings of the other Sam hanging over them, the Winchesters had grown closer together than they had been since Mary died. None of them would risk that.
The Winchesters had, at least until the apocalypse began, found their place in the world.