"Dean, I'll be back on Sunday night." John said as he put his hunting equipment into a backpack.
Nine-year-old Dean held his father's jacket, readying to send him off, but also inhaling the scent of his father. "Okay, Dad. Be safe."
"I will, Son." John didn't look up. "I'm just helping Bobby." He gestured for Dean to hand him his jacket. "In case of an emergency you call Jim."
"Okay." Dean nodded and flicked his eyes to Sam, who was watching television.
"What is an emergency, Dean?" John needed to make sure his oldest son would not call the Pastor at a moment's notice. As much as he cared about Jim, Mac and Caleb and The Brotherhood, he did not like them involved with the raising of his children. As their father it was his prerogative to do as he saw fit.
"If I'm bleeding or Sam is bleeding-a lot." Dean recited what his father had drilled into him.
"Right." He winked at his son, and ruffled his hair. He went over to Sam and kissed him on the head. "Be good." John left, closing the motel door behind him with a click.
An hour out of Equality, Illinois John met up with Bobby at an all night diner in Joppa. After a cup of hot coffee, and a quiet discussion they decided to leave the Impala at a local motel and take Bobby's truck to the lake.
"Youngins alright?" Bobby asked to break the monotony of the drive. Sam and Dean were the mascots of The Brotherhood, and Bobby enjoyed how the brothers livened up their surroundings.
"Boys will be boys." John stated. He was focused on the map spread out on his lap. He trusted Dean to take care of things.
Bobby snorted, but John didn't catch the reaction. If they were normal boys then they would have their father home with them instead of on a hunt. But that made Bobby feel guilty too.
"Think it's witches?" John interrupted the other hunter's thoughts.
"Bad coven's possible." Singer had done some research on the group causing trouble in the Crab Orchard Lake area. "Hate to rout 'em out-with them being all persecuted."
"Persecuted?" John glanced at his friend in shock, surprised at his use of a three syllable word.
"Those Salem hangings." Bobby gestured with his fingers. "I don't think they're gonna forgive and forget."
"Probably not." John laughed as they continued on to their destination.
A long hike and some reconnaissance, and the hunters believed they were prepared. Bobby didn't know how it happened, but they got the jump on both the hunters. They had been separated, and blindfolded. Singer tried to break through his bindings. He stretched to reach his boot, all to no avail. "What are you going to do? I don't taste good." He knew there were people in the room with him.
There was no reply. He felt something sprinkled on him. "Fairy dust? You got to be kidding me." Bobby growled, and then felt overcome. He fell into unconsciousness.
Bobby awoke; the blindfold was gone as were the bindings. He tried to work up some saliva in his dry mouth. "Fuckin' fairy dust," he mumbled. Singer opened his eyes with a groan. He was in a wood shack. He lifted his head and saw John slumped in the corner. "Winchester," he called out.
There was no reply. Singer rolled over, getting on his hands and knees. He looked down and noticed the markings on his hands. "What the fu--?" He didn't recognize the symbols, but knew it wasn't good. On the other hand, they hadn't been killed or sacrificed.
Bobby crawled over to John, and tried slapping his face for him to wake up. He sat back with his friend and looked around. There was no one there, and it was quiet. He made it to his feet, and with unsteady steps made it to the door. He listened for any sounds, heard none and slowly twisted the knob. It opened. "This just gets better and better."
He peeked out the door. The few shacks were seemingly abandoned. It was still nightfall, the moon was covered by a clouds. There was time to get some distance between the coven and the hunters.
With another groan Bobby lifted his friend into a fireman's carry. "Shit, Winchester, you're heavy." Part of the complaint was that Bobby's body was protesting. He didn't even want to examine what was broken and bruised.
The vehicle was three miles away, after a mile Bobby deposited John to the ground. He tried to wake up the other hunter, but was only able to illicit a moan. "Fine, I'll drag you heavy ass, but don't complain about the ride." Singer built a rough travois and loaded John in.
At the hospital, John was whisked away to a trauma room as Bobby was led into another room to get checked out. The nurses wouldn't let him leave to make a phone call. He waited while they bound his fractured ribs and wrapped his foot. Finally, he was allowed to the waiting area and to the beckoning payphone.
He waited for the operator to connect the collect call. "Jim?" Bobby was relieved when the pastor agreed to the charges.
"Bobby, where are you?" Jim asked. Concern was evident in his voice. "No one has heard from you in a week."
"A week?" Bobby frowned. He never knew Jim as one to exaggerate. "What're you talking about?"
"You have been missing for a week. There are people looking for you." Jim replied very slowly. "Where are you?"
Bobby raked a hand through his hair. He felt like he was in the twilight zone. "At the Massac Memorial Hospital. John's with me."
"John?" Now it was Jim's turn to be confused. "Dear Lord. He's been with you this whole time?"
"Whole time? We're gone for one night!" Singer tried again. They went to the lake, found the coven and then woke up. Twenty-four hours of missing time.
"No, check the date." Jim was adamant.
"Hey," Bobby called out to a passerby, "What's today's date?" He received a brusque answer, and was stunned. He hated fairy dust. "Fuck." He bit out the words into the phone. "You better get down here."
"Bobby, put John on the phone. We need to find Dean and Sam."
"That's the problem." Bobby looked at the clock on the wall. "John went into surgery."
"We'll be right there." Jim replied.
Singer hung up the phone, stuffed his hands in his pocket and took a seat. It was going to be a long night. When this was all over he would find those witches and relive the Witch Trials.
The Guardian having to leave his tower was one thing, but then having Mackland Ames, The Scholar show up made Bobby feel as though he had really screwed up. Ames had taken a flight out of New York, and made it to the hospital just as John was coming out of surgery. Jim drove from nearby Kentucky.
Ames quickly got some answers from the hospital staff. "He's in recovery. There was a ruptured spleen. He still needs to come out of the anesthesia." Mackland gestured for them to follow him. "He already has a room set up. We can wait for him there."
Bobby took the only chair in the room. His ribs protested, and his body wanted to be sleeping, but he needed to see this through and make sure everyone was all right. "Dean hasn't called?" he asked the pacing pastor.
Jim clasped his hands together, looking like he was about to pray. "No, but unfortunately that is the norm. John wants to encourage independence in his children."
Singer loved how Jim worded things; somehow the hunter knew John hadn't worded it that way. "Dean's like what ten years old?"
"Nine," Mackland answered from where he was leaning against the wall.
Bobby shook his head. "Have to take him out for a beer next time I see him to celebrate."
The others did not find his comment humorous.
"We have two children who have been on their own for a week. It cannot happen again." Jim resumed his worried pacing.
Ames remained calm, a clear mind was needed. "John will be here soon and then he will tell us where they are."
"Here's the guest of honor now." Bobby leaned forward as the gurney with John was rolled in.
Mackland made sure they stayed out of the medical staff's way as they set up the devices which would monitor the injured hunter.
"A doctor will come and speak to you in a minute." A nurse added as she left the room.
Jim shut the door behind them.
Mackland went over to the patient, scanning the chart and the equipment. John had dozed off again as they transported him. He laid a hand on the Knight's arm, and said his name. It only elicited a moan. Ames placed a hand on John's chest and gave it a slight rub. This time, John's eyes opened.
"Yes, John you're in a hospital. You've been hurt." Ames wanted to be quick with his explanation, knowing the injured man would only grasp about a third of what was being said to him. "We need to know where your boys are."
"My boys?" John blinked in confusion.
"Dean and Sam. Where are they?" Mackland repeated clearly and slowly.
John registered it was an important question to answer. "Gold Post Motel in Eldarado."
"Okay, good." The doctor smiled at his friend in reassurance. "You get some rest." The other hunter complied, and closed his eyes.
Booby stood up, using the chair to help him. Jim waved him off, gesturing for Singer to sit down.
"Mackland, can you please go and find those boys?" Murphy asked.
Ames knew it was Murphy as The Guardian giving him an order. "It's about a two hour drive." Mac glanced at his watch. "I'll leave now. If you need me then you can reach me on my cell phone."
At a safe distance away from the hospital he called his son. He had left Caleb a note early in the morning. His son was not an early riser, especially on the weekends. "Caleb, it's Mac."
"Hey, Dad, I found your note-a little cryptic there." Reaves stated. "What's up?"
Mac had not wanted to explain too much to his son until he had all the facts. With John, Caleb's mentor on the road to recovery then all could be revealed. "John was injured, and yes, he's going to be fine. But, the boys have been left on their own for a week so I am going to pick them up and bring them to Jim."
"Well that was a big screw up. And Deuce didn't call anyone?" Reaves didn't give his father a chance to answer the questions. "Why don't I just meet you?"
Caleb sounded like he was already packing up. "Son, stay put. You have school on Monday." Mackland reminded his son. "Why don't you stay with your grandfather until I get home?"
Reaves snorted. "Dad, I think I can stay on my own-in a secured condo complex surrounded by weapons. Hell, John is all about being independent."
Mackland tucked the phone in the crook of his neck as he opened the door to the rental vehicle. "I am not John. Humor me because that wasn't a suggestion." Ames thought of the two Winchester boys and their predicament. "I thought you liked your grandfather, and the fact that he indulges you."
"There is that." Reaves sighed. "I am short on some cash. . ."
Cullen Ames unfortunately spoiled his grandson. Many times Mackland had to speak to his father about limiting his gifts. "Caleb-."
"Fine, fine –I'll have a sleepover at Cullen's."
"Thank you, Son." Ames smiled that his son had actually complied with a request. "I'll check in with you later." Ames shut the phone. He'd have to call his father too and let him know Caleb would be staying with him. He'd also have to give a warning that Caleb was to win no more than one hundred dollars in any card game.