R is to blame, again.
Cheney's name borrowed from Maygra with thanks
Dean's Bob II: Dean's
K Hanna Korossy
Not a lot takes me by surprise these days, and this visitor I heard coming from a mile away. I just hadn't expected who it turned out to be.
Cheney was barking his head off, and the thumping and shuffling on the porch wasn't exactly subtle. By the time the weak knock came, I had a bottle of holy water in my hand and a half-dozen other weapons at hand's reach. The doorway was salted, though, wards all over the place. Nothing was getting in here without my okay. Not even—
I had to squint at him from the half-open door, because the side of his face I could see was covered with dried blood. He was leaning against the outside jamb with both hands and his chest, and he looked like a good wind would knock him over. Huh, forget that—give him a minute and I was sure he'd keel over without any help at all.
Took him effort to lift his head, I could see it, and I only needed one glimpse of his eyes to know he was concussed. But he stared me straight in the face when he spoke.
And with that helpful announcement, his eyes rolled back and he peeled away from my door, falling.
I growled and grabbed him by the arm, pulling him inside the house. I didn't like surprises and had no idea what was going on, but I wasn't about to let one of John's boys pass out on my front porch. I lowered Dean onto the floor just inside, still not sure how bad he was hurt, then stared at the open doorway.
Nothing stirred beyond. Cheney had gone quiet. If Sam was out there, he wasn't close.
I looked back at Dean, frowning. Not Sam? What was that supposed to mean, that he didn't want me to call the kid?
I snorted. Yeah, right. I wasn't about to get between those two. Even as I crouched down beside Dean and started looking for injuries, I was reaching for the phone.
It didn't even finish the first ring before Sam answered, sounding breathless.
"He's here," was all I said.
Heard him pause, just for a second, and not because he didn't understand. "Is he all right?" The kid suddenly sounded like his dad, voice deep and hard.
A pulse beat fast but strong under my finger. "He's pretty beat-up, but yeah, I think he'll be all right."
"I'll be there in an hour," Sam said and hung up.
I had some more questions, but I guess they could wait. Sam's too good a hunter to not tell me if something was about to crash down on us, and Dean's too good to lead something here. It would keep.
Dean wouldn't, though, not on the floor, and not only because of how Sam would react if he showed up and saw his brother like this. I just wasn't sure how to move him. I'm no 90-pound weakling, but Dean's no lightweight, either, and the beds are upstairs. These Winchesters, they always do things the hard way.
I finally settled for lifting and dragging him over to the couch. Dean didn't make a sound, which wasn't exactly encouraging. I went for my supplies, then sat on the edge of the table by the couch and got to work.
By the time I heard footsteps on the porch, it was only 45 minutes later, but I was mostly done. I got up, shaking out my stiff knees, and reached the door just as Sam banged on it. No shuffling and weak tapping here; I knew the kid would've broken my door down if I'd waited too long to answer.
"Where is he?" was all the greeting I got, and I couldn't help smiling. As much trouble as these two were, I'd gotten kind of fond of them.
I nodded back over my shoulder toward the living room. "Couch."
He didn't say another word, just stalked past me.
All the fight went out of him when he caught sight of Dean, though, and Sam looked kinda shaky by the time he took my place on the coffee table. I don't blame him; even cleaned up, Dean was a mess. The side of his face looked like a bad case of road rash, scraped and bruised and swollen under the antibiotic gel. And that was only the part you could see.
Sam reached out hesitantly, and I looked away for a minute, gave him some privacy while I filled him in.
"Showed up at the door right before I called you. He's got deep bruises all down that side of his body and arm, like something mashed him against a brick wall or something, hard. He's concussed."
"Did he say anything?"
I hesitated, still not knowing what it meant. "'Not Sam,'" I repeated, and turned to see Sam look up at me. The kid's face was bleak and confused, like he was hurt, too. Which I guess he was, seeing his brother was lying there unconscious.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam asked in that same gruff John voice.
I shrugged. "No idea. Maybe that he was alone?" It wasn't the likeliest read, but I wasn't really anxious to say what else I was thinking.
Sam's jaw shifted. He turned back to Dean, and I noticed he had one hand wrapped around his older brother's wrist. He used to do that when they were little, too, like he wanted to make sure Dean was there.
I shook my head and stepped closer. "What happened, Sam?"
It took him a minute to answer, but I let him take it. "I don't know," he finally said, quiet. "We were checking out some mysterious deaths near Pine Ridge. Dean went to take a look at one of the scenes while I was at the library, and when I got back, the car was there and he was just…gone. All his stuff still there, no sign of a struggle…"
"He take any weapons with him?"
Sam pulled in a breath like my house was short on air or something. "Just what he usually has on him, so, you know, a small armory."
I snorted and nodded, figuring that was as much as I was getting out of either of them that night. "I'm gonna go look around outside—I'm guessing your brother borrowed some way to get here that needs some cleaning up after."
Sam bobbed his head, his eyes on Dean.
"You know where everything is, just help yourself, and if you can get him upstairs, the beds are right where you left 'em."
I think it was the first time all evening he really saw me, let alone smiled. "Thanks, Bobby."
I shook it off with a gruff, "No problem," and went out.
It didn't take long to find the car. An old Pinto, of all things, with a lot of blood on the driver's seat. Took a while to clean up, but the last thing we needed was police looking into this. Then I hooked it up and towed it a couple miles out to leave by the side of the road.
I turned over Dean's words as I drove back. Sam was obviously Sam—no double is that good, and I would've known if he was possessed. Which meant Dean was probably either saying Sam wasn't with him or telling me not to call Sam. I was guessing the latter since he took off on his brother once already. But that still didn't explain why, and I didn't like not knowing. I had a lot of protections up, but they couldn't keep out everything.
And, yeah, okay, I was worried about those two. They find trouble better than a magnet finds North.
I was skeptical when I first met John Winchester and his boys. No other hunter I knew carted his kin along on the hunt, and it wasn't a life for kids. Then again, the only other hunter I knew who'd lost the mother of his kids to something, left those kids to be raised by an aunt and uncle, and I had to give John some credit for not giving up his own. And they turned out more than all right, considering.
Then he had to go and die on them. Now, I'm not looking to adopt anybody, and those boys were men now. But if they needed a hand sometimes, some experience, I owed it to John, and to them, to give it to them. And if I'd grown kind of fond of them along the way, well, it's a lonely life, and a man needs friends.
When I got back, the living room was empty. I headed upstairs.
Not much had changed; Dean was still out but tucked into bed, and Sam was still glued to his side, sitting on the same chair I remember finding him asleep in some mornings after he first brought Dean back here after the crash. I didn't ask how Sam got his brother upstairs; those two can manage a lot if they put their minds to it. For all those bragging old geezers out there who look down on the younger generation, I don't know anyone else in the community who's faced down a full demon as often as they have and lived to tell about it. Sam and I gave each other a quick look-over, just checking, then I went downstairs to find us some food. Didn't matter if it was four in the morning.
We talked quietly over the meatloaf sandwiches and beer I brought up, about what they'd been up to since I last saw them, the research I'd done since, the car Dean had "borrowed" and some theories on what was going on now.
I lost Sam mid-sentence when Dean groaned and shifted in bed.
"Hey," he said softly, all his attention on his brother. I stood up and moved back, just keeping an eye on things.
Dean woke slow, which told me something right there about how lousy he felt. Then he saw Sam, and his eyes went wide as he jerked back.
Sam recoiled like he'd been shot, and looked about as hurt, too.
I saw Dean catch his reaction. And then...relax.
Ah. Not Sam. I was getting the picture now.
Dean's head dropped back onto the pillow and he turned away, wincing. Muttered a "Go away," that almost sounded like he meant it.
"Dean, what…? No."
Dean's arm had come up to brace his sore ribs, but I didn't think that was what had his face screwed up. "Get out of here, Sam."
I could see Sam digging in, even though he looked pretty miserable. "I'm not leaving, Dean."
Before they started fighting, I broke in, addressing Dean. "Shapeshifter?"
Sam's not stupid, either. He would've figured this out if he hadn't been so busy getting his feelings hurt. He stared at me in surprise, then looked at Dean, eyes narrowing.
Dean breathed out long and quiet. "Glamour," he said, resigned.
That had been easier than I'd expected.
Sam leaned forward. "Dean, tell me what's going on."
His brother finally pulled himself together and stared him in the eye. "You have to get out of here, Sam."
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what happened."
"Let me guess," I broke in again. "Sam?"
"Sam," Dean confirmed wearily, eyes closing as he nodded.
Sam was ping-ponging between us. "So…what, you ran into something wearing my face and took off after it, alone? Dean, after everything—"
"I don't think that's what he's trying to say, kid," I said quietly. I would've let Dean do his own talking, except it looked like he was starting to slide under again.
"Wha—oh." Sam got suddenly quiet, all that restless energy going still. Bookish as he'd been as a kid, he was always the one who got worked up about things, while Dean just went quiet. Guess they'd been rubbing off on each other. "Dean," and he didn't sound mad now. "You would know. I trust you. You would know what was me and what wasn't."
Dean hadn't opened his eyes, and under all the shiny gel and bruising, he just looked…beat.
I decided maybe it was time for me to go. I dropped my hand on Sam's shoulder, felt his attention even though he didn't look away from Dean. "See you two in the morning," was all I said, and I walked out to his nod.
At the door, I could hear Sam start talking, Dean not answering. I didn't like it, either his silence or the fact he'd come to me instead of Sam. Those two always had lived in their own world; I was just getting in the way this time.
But I'd watch their back tonight, for John's sake and theirs. And maybe a little of mine.
Got a few hours of sleep and looked in on the boys on the way out to the yard. Sam had finally curled up in the other bed and was dead asleep, but he was facing Dean and, better yet, Dean was turned toward him. I knew Sam was on guard even while he slept. Proved as much when one eye slid open as I started to pull back, staring at me for a second before deciding I wasn't a threat and closing again.
Sometimes what John had raised those boys to be scared me.
Sam showed up a few hours later, looking tired but alert, nodding his greeting. I didn't have to ask about Dean. He just picked up one of the reference books I'd pulled and started looking. He talked when he was ready.
"Dean didn't tell me very much, but I got the impression even though whatever was chasing him didn't follow him, it'll find him."
"He have any idea what it is? Lot of things can cast a glamour."
Sam's brow climbed. "Yeah?"
"Sure." I ran through a couple, along with their histories. Sam soaked up every word, just like he always had.
"No," he finally shook his head, "and I don't think Dean knows, either. But silver bullets didn't work on it, so all we've got is it's not a shapeshifter."
"Iron rounds, maybe," I threw back thoughtfully. I'd been turning that one over in my head.
"Maybe. If it's any relation to the fae. Consecrate them, cover a few more bases?"
I grinned at him. "I like how you think."
He smiled back, but it was weak.
I chewed on the offer a little while before I made it. "You want me to talk to him? Might tell me more."
Sam turned away. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure he'd tell you more. He doesn't want me to be a part of this."
"Sam, he's just trying to protect—"
"I know, Bobby, all right? I get it. He's scared he'll shoot me instead of…whatever it is. He doesn't get that I don't need protecting anymore."
"Well, maybe he does," I said.
Sam blinked. "What?"
I huffed a laugh. "For a smart guy, you're a little dense sometimes, kid. What do you think it would do to Dean right now if he hurt you, let alone killed you?"
"He'd know it was—"
"Nobody said fear's rational," I interrupted with a shrug.
I moved on to the next volume. Sam stayed there, a finger rubbing the edge of the book's binding. After a while, he pushed it away and got up and went back upstairs.
I hadn't found anything useful, but I went out to add a few more sigils to the wards already on the fence. Wouldn't hurt. When I got back there wasn't any blood or screaming, which was all I asked. But Sam was sitting on the couch pretending to be reading the book he had before, alone, and I figured all wasn't right, either.
"You wanna take your brother some food when he wakes up?" I finally offered.
"He's awake," Sam said tightly.
I gave him a look, but he wasn't looking back, and I didn't ask. Fine. I fixed a plate and took it upstairs.
Sam was right. Dean was sitting hunched on the edge of the bed, one hand pressed against the good side of his face. "You look like something Cheney drags home," I said, pulling up Sam's chair to Dean's knee and setting the plate on it.
"Yeah, well, must be a matched set—feel like it, too."
I looked him over. His eyes weren't focused, but he was trying, and he didn't look like he'd tip over. Yet. "You wanna tell me why Sam's down there looking like that while you're up here looking like this?"
"Figured," I grumbled, and sat on the edge of Sam's bed. "Fine, you don't want to talk to your brother, you want to tell me what's going on?"
Dean dug listlessly into the hunk of meat on his plate. "It's coming after me, Bobby, I know it."
"Why?" I asked doubtfully. "Dean, most of what we hunt takes victims of convenience. Why would it come all this way after you?"
A lazy, knowing smile that was inherited from John yet pure Dean. "Haven't you heard? We're the Britney Spears of the supernatural community right now. Every goblin and ghostie between here and Texas wants a piece of us."
I sat back, processing that. "This is about Sam," I guessed.
"I don't know—it didn't say," he said tiredly, pushing himself straighter. Even keeping his eyes open looked like it hurt. "I just know it picked Sam to play dress-up as without even having met him, and the damned thing nearly got me killed in the process."
"So, you mad at Sam?" I poked, hard.
Dean's face flushed and he cursed. "No, I'm not mad at Sam! I just don't want him…Bobby, he's been through a lot lately. I can't put him through this, too. I need my head clear to face this thing, and that means keeping Sam out of harm's way."
"And what if Sam doesn't want to be out of harm's way?" Seemed to me they'd both been through a lot the last year, but that was Dean for you.
That was when we heard the loud crash, followed by a gunshot downstairs.
I was already running, cursing myself for not being prepared. I knew trouble was brewing, I just didn't figure it would show up on my doorstep so soon, and I had those protections up… Stupid, I'd been stupid, no two ways about it. And if Sam was paying for it, Dean would take me apart.
Speaking of which, I kind of expected Dean to be right behind me, injuries or not, but I was alone when I crept down the stairs and got a look at what was going on.
Sam and…Dean were circling each other around my coffee table. Sam looked all right, even had a gun in his hand, but it was pointed down at the ground. Probably regular bullets, and probably useless. Dean—or whatever it was that looked like Dean—was grinning at him. I'd seen the real Dean look feral like that before, but never at Sam.
"Come to join the party?" it purred to me in Dean's voice.
"Bobby, get out of here," Sam said low, never taking his eyes off the thing wearing his brother's face.
No way was I hiding from this, though, not with my guns and ammo a few feet away. I crept down a little further down the stairs.
"Don't take another step." That purr had just turned into a hiss. I froze, reassessing.
"You're not getting him," Sam growled.
"Who says I'm after him?" it asked. Suddenly, "Dean" was standing in front of me at the bottom of the stairs, moving too fast to track.
Sam immediately lunged after it, and the thing turned back on him, still with that insane grin. Sam slid to a stop, on guard again.
"Both you Winchesters smell so good," it said with a leer, and not a lot of things make me shudder, but that did. "I think I'll have you both."
Sam wasn't slow when he struck, either, like a snake and about as deadly. But the gun butt to the head barely staggered the thing, and God help us if it wasn't still grinning as it straightened.
"Why?" Sam thundered. "Why me, why Dean?"
"Because I could smell you from a mile away. And betrayal tastes even better than fear," it whispered, smiling. "Even better than…power."
I didn't see this ending well.
"Hey!" the same voice abruptly called, but this time from above and behind me. All three of us glanced up.
Dean fired three times, loud enough to make me deaf for a few seconds. I could see two bullets hit center mass, one a head shot. There was a second when we all stood frozen.
Then the fake Dean collapsed. It looked surprised. And stone-cold dead.
I knelt beside it, checking for signs of life, human and non-human. The glamour was already flickering, showing patches, then the whole outline of another shape below it before fading entirely. It was human shaped, with dark coloring and slightly tapered ears. I met Sam's eyes over it knowingly.
"Consecrated iron rounds?" I called over my shoulder.
"Naw, just plain iron," Dean said faintly. I could hear him suck in a breath.
"Dean!" Sam was shoving past me, hurrying up to catch his brother before he fell.
"Sorry, Sammy, didn't want you to see that again," Dean was murmuring. I glanced back to see him slumped on the steps about halfway down, leaning into Sam's shoulder. "Didn't want you to—"
"Shut up, Dean." His brother's endearment brought my grin back. I'd been wrong about who Dean had been trying to protect and from what, but I should've guessed. Sam had always come first for him, and Sam knew that better than anyone. At least now I figured Dean might let him return the favor a little and things would finally get back to normal.
I kept grinning the whole time I was dragging that SOB out back to salt and burn it.
There was some throwing up after that, between the food and the unexpected exercise, but I wasn't about to stick around for it. I heard the heaving and Sam's murmurs and walked right back out of the house again. They could use some space, anyway.
Next time I ventured in, Dean was stretched out on the couch asleep, one arm hanging off the edge. His feet were propped on Sam's lap, and the kid looked up from the book he had balanced on his brother's ankles and gave me a small smile. "He'll be all right," he said quietly.
I'd kinda figured that, for both of them.
"So, I think this counts as being suicidal or something, shooting yourself twice now."
"Hey, I wouldn't've had to do it if you didn't keep needing rescuing."
"He just picked me because he knows I'm a better fighter than you. And better looking."
A quick flash of a grin that might have also been John's, long before I'd met him. "Now you're getting it."
"Yeah, well, I'm not gonna be the one scaring small children for the next few days, Dean."
"It's not kids I care about, Sam."
"I give up," I heard Sam mutter. About time, I thought.
It was a day later, and the two of them sounded back to normal. As far as I could tell, it hadn't come up again that Sam shouldn't be here. From the glint in Sam's eye, I was guessing Dean was not going to get the same reprieve, but I wasn't sorry to miss that conversation. In fact, I was almost starting to look forward to getting my quiet house back again.
Yeah, I wasn't fooling myself, either.
I walked them out to the car, Sam hovering over his slow-moving brother but trying hard to keep his hands to himself. I caught Dean's eye, and the long-suffering look he gave me made me grin.
Sam managed to catch the tail-end of it, glanced over at me. "Bobby, you sure you don't want a partner? Comes with a car and the sorriest tape collection you've ever seen," he wheedled like a snake oil salesman as he opened the car door for his brother.
"Hey!" Dean yelped as he eased inside.
I shook my head. "I'm not that stupid, kid. You're both crazy—you deserve each other."
Dean opened his mouth, and Sam slammed the door shut in his face.
Then hesitated, looked down at the ground, up at me again. "Thanks for everything, Bobby," he said, seriously.
I nodded, then again at Dean when his tip of the head silently echoed his brother. "You two try to stay out of trouble, at least for a few days," I called back. None of us had mentioned what the thing pretending to be Dean had said, or the invisible bull's-eye the Winchesters seemed to be wearing these days.
I could make out Dean's muttered, "Yeah, right," and my mouth twitched again.
Sam got in and started the car. Dean immediately reached for the radio. Sam slapped his hand away. Dean punched him in the arm, enough to rock him back. Like the baby of the family he was, Sam immediately threw me a See what I have to put up with? look.
I rolled my eyes and went inside the house, listening to the rumble of the car's engine pull away.
I might have been a poor substitute for their daddy, but my door was always open and they knew it. I'd leave it to them to work the rest out.