This was not good. Any plan - a through z - that John had been counting on had effectively been thrown out the window. Worse than the fact that he'd been injured was the fact that he left a wounded creature behind. Now it was pissed - not good. John had made some serious misjudgments on this hunt, and there was very little time to rectify his mistakes.
John frantically tried to organize his thoughts as Dean drove like a bat out of hell back to the motel. It was hard to stay focused when the pounding of his crushed fingers screamed for his attention, but John had to come up with an alternative plan, and he had to come up with it now. Mentally John began to break down the situation and regroup - identify the target, assess available resources, make a plan and deploy.
Identifying the target was easy. John bit back a harsh laugh at the irony - identifying the target was easy now. The werewolf they'd been tracking was, in human form, Juan Reis, grandson of Professor Benedict Reis, eccentric teacher of literature and folklore. Professor Reis had been their local source for information. Reis' desperate attempts at misdirection were painfully transparent to John; he was obviously trying to protect the very creature they were looking for. But his misdirection had been in vain. The Winchesters had successfully tracked and killed the werewolf that had been Juan Reis.
What John didn't know… what he hadn't counted on, was Benedict Reis being a walking legend himself. They'd been hunting one werewolf when they should've been hunting two. John never saw the second werewolf coming – that's where the hunt went to hell.
Taking down the junior werewolf had been somewhat routine - track him, tag him, bag him. Most werewolves John had encountered over the years were very strong, but not very smart. Their desire to hunt and kill far outweighed their caution and they were easily trapped. This one was no different. John had taken the creature out with a heart-shot silver bullet; Dean approached the body to confirm the kill. Then, an explosion of rage and destruction burst from the underbrush.
John was thrown against a tree and pinned with his own rifle across his throat. His right hand was crushed against the barrel of the gun under the grip of the creature holding him there. What shocked and disturbed John were the eyes of the werewolf before him. The yellow eyes had a feral cast, but they hadn't completely lost their human features. When John looked into those eyes he saw a human soul in the grip of madness.
Dean's cry of "Dad!" permeated John's brain even as his oxygen supply was cut off. A shot rang out and John was released as the creature howled in agony. John could hear Dean cocking his shotgun again, but Dean was never able to take the shot. The werewolf lifted John and flung him with deadly accuracy at Dean. They hit the ground in a jumble of limbs. Dean reacted immediately, pushing John off of him, scrambling to his feet, gun at the ready. He might have taken off after the creature if John hadn't stopped him.
"Back to the car, Dean. Now." John got to his feet, picked up his rifle with his left hand and headed toward the car. Dean was right beside him. The howls of the wounded Reis accompanied their short and frantic journey. But he wasn't coming after them; not yet. The echoing, howling cries were filled with more grief than anger – John knew from experience that the anger would come later, and it wouldn't take long.
John pulled his attention back to the present. Dean was driving in concerned silence, waiting for John to give the next order. John shifted slightly against the passenger door cradling his throbbing hand against his belly. Assess available resources and make a plan. There were a number of things that John knew about what had to happen next – they had to make a frontal assault on Reis as soon as possible. The man was mad with grief, making the wolf inside him that much more dangerous. They had to act tonight, before he fled and went to ground, or more likely, came after them. What John had in mind was a two-person job, but with his right hand injured the way it was he could barely hold a gun, let alone pull the trigger; that made Dean the shooter. And there was no way John was going to let his seventeen year old son go up against a grief-stricken, crazy werewolf without backup. But...if John's position was to back up Dean, that left the second job of their two-man job unmanned. Without the second - or in this case third man - the plan would fail.
Assess available resources. This hunt had unexpectedly turned into a three man job. John Winchester had access to that third man, but it broke his heart to have to use him.
Sam looked up at the unexpected and noisy entrance of his brother and father; he hadn't anticipated their return for a few more hours. Sam had been engrossed in his U.S. History homework and was startled when they came rushing in. One look at Dean's face was enough to tell Sam that something had gone terribly wrong - Sam immediately began to look for injuries. Both Dad and Dean were walking upright and under their own power, so that was a good sign, even if Dad was a little wobbly.
He had only begun to rise from his cross-legged position on the bed when Dad started barking orders. "Sammy, get the box of books from under the desk and bring them here." He pointed to the foot of the bed where he stood shrugging out of his jacket. "Find the one with the brown cover...the one Pastor Jim gave me. You're looking for a binding spell with the words Ego redimino vos. Vos es inconcessus dimitto. Show it to me when you've got it."
Sam was in motion before his brain could catch up with his body. Something was off. Something was definitely not right. Sam had seen Dad and Dean come home wound up from hunts before, but this was different. Dean had headed straight for Dad's duffel when they'd arrived and dug out the first aid kit. With tight, efficient movements Dean had opened the box and found the surgical tape he was looking for. Dad continued talking even as Dean began to splint and tape his fingers. It was at that moment that Sam realized what was wrong - they hadn't come home from a hunt...they were still hunting. The realization gave him pause and he stared in shock at his father and brother. Whatever they had started out hunting tonight was still out there. Dad's words only confirmed his suspicions.
"Where did you hit it, Dean?"
Dad grunted. "Why didn't you go for the head shot?"
Dean grimaced as he ripped the tape. "No guarantee I wouldn't hit you too." Dad nodded but didn't comment.
Sam blinked when he was suddenly the focus of his father's attention once more. "Did you find it yet, Sammy?"
"No, sir." Sam gulped and turned his attention back to the task at hand. But he listened keenly to the conversation between his dad and brother.
"This is going to be close quarters, Dean. Load up the guns with silver bullets. Make sure you've got a knife with a pure silver blade in your belt."
"Yes, sir." The sound of Dean checking and reloading the guns was so familiar it was almost comforting to Sam.
Of course the book Sam was looking for was at the bottom of the pile. He fished it out and laid it on the foot of his dad's bed. Kneeling on the floor, Sam began to flip through the book looking for the phrase Dad had asked for. This was one of the books that Sam liked to browse through because he knew it came from Pastor Jim, so he had more familiarity with it than some of the other books. Sam let his eyes scan over the pages of flowing script until the phrase he was looking for jumped out at him.
"Dad." Sam knelt straighter and pointed to the sentence in the book. "Is this it?"
Dad turned as he awkwardly pulled his jacket back on. He gazed intently at the page Sam was pointing to. "That's the one, Sammy. Now get your flashlight and grab your brother's jacket." Dad's tone left no room for discussion. Sam jumped to his feet and rushed to gather the items his father wanted. Moments later Sam had returned to stand at the bedside by Dean who had finished reloading the last gun, closing it with a satisfying snap. With the flashlight in his left hand, Sam held out Dean's army jacket to Dean with his right, but his father held up a hand.
"No Sam, put the jacket on. You're coming with us."
Sam's heart made an uncomfortable acquaintance with his stomach. He looked to Dean for confirmation. If anything, Dean looked even more shocked than Sam was feeling. It only got worse when Dad took one of the guns Dean had loaded and held it out it to him. "Put the jacket on." Dad repeated as he gestured with the gun. Once Sam had shrugged into Dean's oversized jacket, Dad passed the gun to him. "Safety's on. Put it in the inside pocket on the left. When we get there - safety off, and it stays off."
Sam's breath caught in his throat, but he immediately responded, "Yes, sir."
Dean watched the road intently, trying not to telegraph his tension by tapping on the steering wheel. He responded automatically to Dad as they reviewed the plan of attack, but he was continually distracted by the sound of Sam murmuring Latin in the back seat. A glance in the rear-view mirror showed Sam hunched over the book he'd dug out of Dad's box; flashlight held close to the ancient page so the reflection wouldn't be a distraction to the driver.
Dean tried to swallow around the knot of tension that had taken up residence in the back of his throat. When he and Dad had headed out this evening, Dean had been excited - this was his first werewolf. He wasn't excited anymore. Dad needed him to take the lead. Dean was fine with that - he felt ready for it. Dean knew he could handle the hunting part of this excursion, but he was terrified of the possibility of letting Dad down. And, having Sammy there to actively participate in the hunt was totally throwing Dean off of his game. How could he possibly be expected to hunt and take care of Sammy at the same time?
The sharpness in Dad's tone indicated that this wasn't the first time he'd tried to get Dean's attention. Dean ruthlessly shoved his anxieties aside and focused on Dad. "Yes, sir."
Dad unsuccessfully stifled a sign of annoyance. "Run it back for me."
Dean nodded, never taking his eyes off the road. "Professor Reis was injured and still in werewolf form when he ran. Most likely he returned to a place he feels safe. We know he lived outside of town with his grandson - he probably holed up there. We need to establish that he's in the house and trap him there." Dean swallowed hard, and then kept going. "Shoot to kill, not to wound."
"Sammy." Dean could see Sam's head snap up in response to Dad's call. Sam looked awfully pale to Dean, but that seemed to be the only outward sign of his nervousness. Sam responded swiftly, "We go in the house together. I'll find a spot by the front door and start the incantation. Don't stop chanting until you or Dean comes back to get me."
Dean watched his father turn around toward the back seat to pin Sam with his gaze. "It's important, Sammy. With that spell you'll be chanting, Reis won't be able to leave the house. He'll be trapped. We won't be able to catch him if he runs. And if he runs, there's no telling how many people will die tonight."
Sam nodded in understanding, looking much younger than his thirteen years to Dean.
All too soon they arrived at the Reis home. It was a big house, almost impressive, if somewhat rundown and in a remote location. Two cars in the driveway made it look like everything was fine and dandy, but Dean knew one of those car's owners would not be back to drive it; and the other couldn't drive it in the state he was currently in. Now that they had arrived, Dean felt a familiar state of hyper-awareness settle over him. His confidence grew as he stepped out of the car. He double checked his weapons although he knew it was unnecessary; Dean didn't miss Dad's slight head nod of approval. Then Dean checked Sammy as well - hell, if he was going to take the lead, he might as well take the lead.
Dean reached into the inside pocket of the jacket Sam was wearing and drew out the gun that was resting inside. He flipped off the safety and handed it back to his brother. "Safety off, Sammy. Keep it off until we get back in the car." Sam repocketed the gun. Dean stepped in and pitched his voice a little lower. "You don't have to chant loudly for the incantation to be effective, Sam. Keep your head down - keep your voice low until Dad and I come back for you. Got it?"
Sam nodded while he adjusted the jacket, then nodded again with more emphasis. He looked up and caught Dean's eye; Dean was staggered by the trust he saw in that one look from Sammy. He tried to convey his confidence in a look of his own - Don't worry, we're going to take care of this, and you're going to do a great job. With a squeeze to Sam's shoulder, Dean turned and faced the house. A glance toward Dad indicated that he was ready.
Dean led the way onto the porch. Sammy followed with John right behind. The night was unnaturally quiet. Sam jimmied the lock, leaving Dean free to maintain surveillance with his gun drawn. Sam drew back allowing Dean and John to make the advance into the front hallway. John nodded his approval when Sam started chanting as soon as he crossed the threshold. Dean continued to maintain a vigilant stance as Sammy looked for a good place to situate himself. There was a small, foyer table near the front door. Sam crouched, then sat on the floor, back to the wall - almost lost to John's sight, swimming in Dean's jacket. He settled himself quickly drawing his knees up to his chest making as small a target as possible, all the while murmuring softly in Latin. John made sure Sam had his gun drawn before he looked away.
A crash and a rising howl from the back of the house made what might have been a lengthy search of the house a hell of a lot shorter. It gave John a small bit of comfort to know that Reis was not upstairs - potentially able to cross their back-trail while he and Dean were searching and in the process, stumble across Sam.
Dean glanced John's way, and John made sure he was on Dean's six before they slowly began to advance into the house toward the sound of anguished howling. A lengthy corridor led from the foyer to the back of the house. It was difficult to tell which rooms they were passing; probably a sitting room and a formal dining room. Both of the open doorways they passed led into darkened areas; most of the lights around the house were turned off. But there was a light up ahead.
The soft, warm glow emanating through the open doorway looked like lamplight, not harsh like fluorescent lights, so they were probably dealing with a living room or study, not a kitchen. Dean continued his steady approach, making no more sound than a whisper; it was unlikely Reis could hear them over the racket he was making. It sounded like the werewolf was dismantling the room he was in from the sound of the crashes and bumps coming from within. The door to the room stood open, and through the open doorway John could see bookcases and a large, oak desk, but not much else.
A shadow and a figure raced across John's line of sight from the right side of the room to the left. Dean saw it too and tried to get a bead on the target, but it was moving too quickly for him to get a good shot. Dean shot a glance at John looking for confirmation of what they'd both seen; John nodded tightly. Reis was on the left side of the room; in order for Dean to get a good sight line on him, he'd have to place himself in a more exposed position in the open doorway. John was already moving to back Dean up when silence abruptly fell. The unexpected hush was deafening, and in a horrible moment of clarity John knew exactly what happened. Reis hadn't heard them coming - he smelled them.
Dean never had a chance to react. The looming figure of Reis filled the doorway. His transmutation into werewolf form was like nothing John had seen before. He was covered in a grey pelt, but it was still easy to see the human skin beneath. It looked like Reis' human form had been stretched and pulled, giving him unnatural height but very little breadth. He was walking on two feet, unlike his grandson who ran on the four in the traditional wolf form. Reis' facial features were neither fully lupine nor fully human. His face was stretched into a twisted parody of grief, and his eyes were still filled with the madness John had seen earlier. But now, rage overshadowed the madness, and Reis took action.
With a ferocious howl, Reis grabbed Dean by the wrist. Although Dean managed to squeeze off a round, the aim was wildly misplaced. Reis whirled, pulling Dean into the room; the force behind the motion was so strong it sent Dean flying across the room to crash into a bookcase on the far side of the room. It was all John could see before the door was slammed in his face and Dean's gun was tossed casually at his feet.
He separated us. The son of a bitch separated us. And he disarmed Dean.
Suddenly John was overwhelmed by a fear so strong it nearly matched his paralysis the night Mary had been killed. This was not your run of the mill, slash and grab werewolf. This creature was thinking - that made him more dangerous than almost anything John had encountered. John didn't know how Reis had managed to maintain enough of his humanity during the transformation to control his animal instincts and think an attack through, but his ability to plan instead of react had just taken this hunt to a completely different level. And, Dean was in there with him.
The silence had returned. Reis was waiting.
Ego redimino vos. Vos es inconcessus dimitto.
The words Sam had so diligently memorized in the backseat of the car spilled out of his mouth in an endless litany. But Sam knew he had to be careful; he couldn't allow the words to become meaningless. He couldn't allow his attention to wander while he recited the incantation because if he lost the meaning of the words they would lose their power.
Ego redimino vos. Vos es inconcessus dimitto.
It was actually a very simple binding spell allowing the spell caster to prevent anyone from leaving a prescribed area. So Sam kept his mind on keeping everyone who was in the house, in the house.
Ego redimino vos. Vos es inconcessus dimitto.
It was difficult to keep the flow of the incantation going when the unnerving howls of the werewolf echoed along the empty hallways of the house. Sam's heart was pounding in his chest keeping perfect rhythm with the pulse of blood rushing in his ears as he chanted and tried to block out the sound of that awful wailing. Knowing that Dad and Dean were heading toward the source of the baying filled Sam with a level of dread he'd never experienced before. He tried to keep them in sight, but they were soon indistinct forms ghosting down the corridor.
Crouched beneath the foyer table, Sam curled with increasing tension. Ego redimino vos. Vos es inconcessus dimitto. He tried to put all of his will into the words knowing how important it was that the werewolf not be allowed to escape from the house. But, competing with the ancient incantation was a mantra of Sam's own Keep them safe keep them safe keep them safe...
The report of a gun and the slam of a door caused Sam's stomach to turn over in his gut. He reflexively clenched the gun in his grip. It turned out that angry shrieking was not nearly as terrifying as silence.
John had only one move to make. He twisted the knob of the library door with his injured hand loosening it enough to swing free. Delivering a massive kick, John sent the door swinging open and rushed forward into the room. He swung around frantically, trying to see everywhere at once, but he was no match for Reis' superior speed and strength. The lycanthrope tackled John from behind sending him sprawling. It snatched his gun away as if John were no stronger than a newborn kitten. The creature howled in triumph as it grasped John's shoulders with its claws and threw him against a nearby bookcase.
Keep fighting. Keep it distracted. Dean's still here. He has a second gun.
Beneath the sounds of the struggle and the growls in his ear, John listened for the sound of movement elsewhere in the room. He tried not to let his hope surge when he heard a groan from Dean, and a shifting sound like he was trying to get to his feet. But what John heard with his human senses, he knew Reis could hear even more clearly with his lupine ears. Pulling the massive oak bookcase away from the wall, Reis pinned John to the floor and left him struggling beneath the weight that was crushing his legs.
The sound of Dad breaking down the library door in full on Rambo mode brought Dean back to his senses. He couldn't have been out of it for more than a few seconds. Adrenaline surged through Dean's system – Dad was in the fight, and it didn't sound like it was going well. It was up to Dean to take the son of a bitch out before he could do any more damage. Dean gathered his legs under him and pushed up off the floor. The room spun as Dean got to his feet, and that moment of unsteadiness cost him.
Reis leaped across the room and delivered a backhand blow to his face that Dean never saw coming. Explosions of light at the edge of his vision didn't prevent Dean from drawing his second gun, but he wasn't a match for Reis' enhanced speed. Ducking in under his reach, Reid grabbed Dean by the wrist and flipped him onto the desk.
The air came rushing out of Dean's lungs in one gasp, but he struggled to find purchase on the desk with his feet – anything to give him a bit of leverage against the werewolf. It was a losing battle. Reis still had a hold of Dean's right wrist; he slid his clawed hand down and wrenched the gun out of Dean's grasp. The werewolf negligently tossed the weapon aside.
In one swift move, Reis pulled Dean, who slid off the desk backward into the creature's embrace. Reis' right arm encircled Dean's chest, pinning his arms to his sides. That didn't stop Dean from attempting to reach the knife that was in his belt. Reis' morphed form gave him a height advantage; Dean knew he was tall for seventeen, but Reis' held him high enough that his toes were barely on the floor. Reis ignored all of Dean's struggles; the werewolf's superior strength ensured that Dean was pinned. Hoisting him as though Dean were a rag doll, Reis moved out from behind the desk and back toward the door to the library.
For the first time, Dean caught a glimpse of his father. Seeing him trapped beneath the bookcase sent a bolt of panic through Dean's system, accompanied immediately by a surge of guilt. This was my hunt and I fucked it up. Damn wolf got the jump on me and now we're both unarmed. I fucking HATE werewolves!
John struggled against the bookcase that trapped him; both guns that had been taken away from him and Dean were still in the room - they were still in play. If he could get himself free...there might still be a chance. But there was no time. What was Reis waiting for? With horrified understanding, John looked up at the creature that stood before him holding his son's life in its hands. Reis deliberately reached his left claw across Dean's abdomen and delicately placed it under Dean's ribcage. Dean sucked in a hissing breath as the claws found purchase in the skin on his right side.
Reis was waiting because he wanted John to see. He wanted John to watch in helpless agony as he eviscerated his son right in front of him - payback for the death of his grandson. John uttered a strangled cry as he tried to free himself, and Reis responded with a satisfied snarl that sounded far too human.
Time froze for John. Blasts of information from his overloaded senses assaulted him one at a time. The pain in his legs was erased as adrenaline flooded his overtaxed system. John's vision was filled with the sight of Reis' claws and the tracks they'd begun to trace on Dean's stomach. The sound of his own frantic heartbeat filled his ears with noise, but it wasn't loud enough to drown own the muted gasp of pain from Dean when Reis' claws dug in and started to pull. A part of John's brain registered another noise as well; something familiar - something that had been getting closer for a while but John had missed in the melee. It was someone speaking in Latin.
It wasn't possible. It wasn't possible was it? When they'd approached the room earlier, Reis had known they were coming. He'd smelled them. John bit back hysterical laughter. The werewolf couldn't smell Sammy, because wrapped up in his brother's jacket, Sammy smelled like Dean.
A shot rang out. It caught Reis totally unaware; he twitched backward, unable to maintain his balance on a suddenly injured leg . Sam could see Dean's feet hit the floor, but it wasn't good enough - Reis still had a hold of him. But his brother wasn't one to just sit by in a fight and Dean increased his resistance against the werewolf. When Dean threw all of his weight to his right and ducked his head Sam knew exactly what Dean was doing; he was giving Sam a bigger target. Sam took the shot.
The impact of the bullet with Reis' shoulder caused his arm to convulse, drawing his claw that was still embedded in Dean's flesh across his abdomen. Dean cried out, and Sam swallowed against the bile in his throat as four tracks of blood exploded across Dean's shirt. But Dean hadn't stopped moving and he spun out of Reis' hold - to Sam it looked almost as practiced as a ballet - but the werewolf grasped at Dean's left shoulder, unwilling to be denied its revenge. Reis closed on Dean, jaw gaping, ready to rip out his throat. Sam didn't have time to take another shot without risking hitting Dean. But Dean had freed the silver knife from his belt and stabbed upward as Reis descended upon him.
The startled yelp from Reis was all the time Dean needed. "Sammy! Gun!" he demanded. With a practiced motion, Sammy turned and tossed the gun to Dean. Dean caught it easily in his right hand and brought it to bear on the center of Reis' chest. Without hesitation he pulled the trigger. Reis collapsed and fell behind the desk. Dean staggered slightly, but followed. He fired two more rounds in quick succession. In the silence that filled the room, Sam realized that he could breathe again.
"Sammy!" John called trying to get his younger son's attention. Sam seemed to be transfixed by the sight of Dean. John could see Dean try to pull himself together for Sam's sake; Dean turned slightly and pulled his jacket closed on the right side. "Help Dad, Sammy. I'm alright." he ordered.
Sam blinked and turned; it was as if he was seeing John for the first time - maybe he was. "Dad!" Sam breathed out in a rush. John had some doubts about Sam being able to lift the bookcase off of him without Dean's help, but Sam found a fireplace poker to use as a lever, and with some effort on both of their parts, John was freed. John gingerly climbed to his feet; it didn't feel like anything was broken, but he might be sore for the rest of his life. John moved as quickly as his protesting body would allow to get to Dean. Dean was leaning heavily against the desk.
John gripped Dean's shoulder hard, his thumb on Dean's neck. He peered intently into his oldest son's eyes, trying to read what was there. "How're you doin'? You alright?"
Dean nodded, "'m okay, Dad."
"Sammy, " John ordered looking over his shoulder, "pick up the guns. Mine's in here, Dean's is in the hallway."
With Sam somewhat preoccupied, John did a cursory examination of Dean's wounds. John knew it was silly to try to protect Sam from seeing Dean's wounds because he'd have to be part of the first aid process back at the motel, but he did it anyway. John shrugged out of his leather jacket, then helped Dean ease out of his. There was a lot of blood pooling on the right side of Dean's shirt, but it wasn't gushing; that was a good sign. John didn't pull the shirt away from the gashes on Dean's abdomen - it was catching and clotting the blood and that's what he wanted.
Light treaded footsteps heralded Sam's return. "Sammy, give me your shirt." John ordered even as he stripped off his own plaid shirt. Sam obeyed wordlessly and passed his shirt to John. John folded Sam's shirt into an oversized square and tied it in place around Dean's middle with his own shirt. Dean endured all of this stoically. Satisfied that Dean was not going to pass out in the immediate future, John got them moving. John settled the boys in the back seat of the car with Sam keeping pressure on Dean's side using a blanket he had salvaged from the trunk. It was dicey leaving Reis' body exposed and unattended, but John had to make sure Dean was out of the woods first. With singleminded focus, John headed back to the motel.
John stood staring stupidly at the battered army jacket in his grasp. He had stormed up to Sam's room determined to pack everything away and maybe find a clue to the plan Sam had obviously been hiding him from so long. How could he not have known Sam was planning on running away to STANFORD?
But, finding Dean's old jacket tucked neatly in a backpack Sam had forgotten to scoop up and take wiith him in his righteous rage stopped John in his tracks. He couldn't prevent the tide of memories that assaulted him any more than he could fight his overwhelming fear of Sam being out there alone. Sam had sort of adopted the jacket as his own after that first hunt, and Dean had let him. John knew that Sam saw the jacket as a talisman of sorts, and he always chose to wear it whenever he thought the situation might get particularly hairy. Sam had meant to take the jacket with him to school; knowing that was like a kick in the guts.
John's legs gave out beneath him and he sat heavily on the bed. John buried his face in the jacket clenched in his hands. This was not good; and this time, he might not get a chance to rectify his mistakes.