Genre: Gen, pre-series
Characters: Bobby, Dean, Sam, John
Word count: 9057
Spoilers: up to and including 3.10 Dream a little Dream of Me, to be on the safe side. I've never read Origins, so this will probably contradict anything in that.
A/N: Written for lostandalone22 for Sweet Charity, from the second half of 2007. Thanks for your patience, sweetie. Title from a quote by Samuel Johnson. Huge thank you to starrylizard and erinrua for betaing, and thank you to strangevisitor7 for suggesting dog names. Any remaining mistakes are mine and concrit is gratefully accepted.
Summary: When Bobby Singer first met Sammy and Dean Winchester, he didn't even know that John had kids. A look at Bobby's relationship with the Winchesters over seven time periods. Includes an extended version of the events in one of my other fics, "Hell Spawn".
The last thing that Bobby expected when he knocked on Jim Murphy's door was for it to be opened by a kid.
"Uh, hi, there."
The kid silently looked up at him with an intensity that made Bobby want to reach for the holy water flask in his back pocket. Other than that, he was just an average boy as far as Bobby could tell: around five or six, dark brown curly-ish hair, dirt or some sort of food smudged on one cheek and generic little kid clothes.
"Sammy, what's Dad told-"
The door was abruptly pulled wider open and out of Sammy's hand as an older kid with lighter hair and a freckle invasion stopped mid-sentence and looked at Bobby suspiciously. If Bobby didn't know any better, he'd think that this kid was thinking about reaching for his holy water bottle and laying a few Christos on Bobby.
"Dean, someone's a' the door," Sammy said rather redundantly as 'Dean' pushed his way between Sammy and Bobby.
"Get Dad," Dean commanded, his voice low, as he gave Sammy a shove away from the door. Sammy looked up at Bobby with eyes wide enough to be viewing a nuclear explosion before running back further into the house shouting "Dad!" at the top of his lungs.
"Whadya want?" Dean asked, distrust very plain in his stance and voice. He still held the door tightly, ready to slam it at a moment's notice, even though it was obvious – at least to Bobby – that Bobby had more than enough weight to force it fully open before he succeeded.
"Why should I tell you?" Bobby replied, keeping up his half of the staring contest the kid seemed to have initiated. He'd give this to the brat, he had balls in spades, which would have been plenty amazing on a man Bobby's age but was downright phenomenal on a kid who was so wet behind the ears that he couldn't even be thinking about thinking about wanting to shave yet.
"Dean, it's okay." John's low voice came from behind the kid.
The door was pulled further open and John's hand descended to rest on Dean's shoulder, pulling him back against John's body. The kid relaxed a little, but gave Bobby a glare that seemed to indicate that he hadn't been fooled and he'd be keeping an eye out for any false move.
John held out his other hand, his stance and face more relaxed than Bobby had ever seen, and Bobby shook it. "Bobby. Didn't expect you till tomorrow."
"The part came in a little earlier than I thought." Bobby kept his answer deliberately vague, not knowing what Dean knew or even exactly what relation he was to John.
Dean and Sammy were his kids, by the look of it, but Bobby knew better than to go on looks and this was the first that he had ever heard about any kids in the two years that he'd known John Winchester. It wasn't really surprising that John had kept the boys' existence a secret; there was a fine line between some hunters and what they hunted and trust wasn't just given willy-nilly in the hunting world. Letting people in on your vulnerabilities and what you're trying to protect required absolute faith and trust – which Bobby had now seemed to have earned. He wasn't sure whether he should feel privileged or worried. If something happened and John suspected Bobby of selling him out, well, Bobby had seen enough of the man in action to be seriously worried.
John backed away from the door, pulling Dean with him, and gestured for Bobby to come in. Stepping over the threshold, Bobby rubbed the bottom of his shoes thoroughly on the mat placed there for exactly that purpose. He did not want Jim Murphy yelling at him over the uncleanliness of his house. Jim didn't seem to particularly care about the cleanliness of Bobby's soul – 'God sees your good work, Bobby Singer, everything else just washes out in the balance. Besides, I know when to give up on a lost cause' – but he sure did care about the house.
"Go and see what Sam's up to," John suggested, giving Dean a push down the hall. The kid glanced between them, still assessing Bobby, before starting to slowly walk away. "Make sure he's not bothering Pastor Jim with any more questions," John added.
With a nod, Dean picked up his pace. John watched him until he turned into a doorway and disappeared out of sight, a softness to his gaze and a quirk gracing his lips that Bobby had never seen before.
"I'm guessing they're yours?"
The answer to Bobby's question was a full-blown grin, transforming John into the man that matched the wedding ring on his left hand and the two cute kids in the other room.
Bobby was all too aware of just how easily that could all go to hell.
Sammy was staring at him.
It seemed like every time Bobby looked around, Sammy was watching his 'uncle Bobby'. He never said anything, just stared with those intense eyes that appeared to be peering right into your soul and judging your very worth – and, finding it lacking. Bobby didn't think that John would appreciate him testing some holy water out on the kid, even though it was starting to look like a good idea. A little slipped into his milk and nobody would be any the wiser, unless the kid really was possessed.
But, enough was enough.
"What?" he snapped, glaring at Sam.
The kid stopped, his fork filled with peas halfway to his mouth. John, Dean and Jim paused in their eating to look at Bobby, and then at Sam.
"Sam," John warned. The boy glanced at him briefly before resting his gaze again on Bobby.
"You're not allowed to wear your hat inside," Sammy said in a rush, a scowl on his face. "'specially at the dinner table. 'specially in front of Pastor Jim."
Dean gaped at him and inched away in his chair, silently declaring that this was nothing to do with him with his wide eyes. It was the only emotion the boy had expressed in the few hours since Bobby had met him, other than suspicion. There was a stunned expression on John's face that was rapidly turning into anger and something resembling a smirk hovered in the corners of Jim's eyes.
"Sammy," John snapped. "You know better than to speak to your elders like that."
Sam's lower lip trembled as he defiantly stuck his chin out. His big eyes held the promise that this was make or break time – would he burst out into wailing sobs or would sanity rear its ugly head and his dad realise that Bobby was the one in the wrong, not Sam?
After all, polite society did decree that he should have removed his hat on entering Jim Murphy's home and, particularly, before sitting down to sup with the master of the house and his guests. Bobby was just so used to being on his own and so hell-bent stuck in his ways that he didn't even think about the fact that he was wearing it. It was as much a part of him as his beard.
"No, John." Bobby held up his hand in a restraining gesture. "It's okay. Sammy has a point." He pulled his hat off, the movements slightly sheepish, and placed it on the floor beside his chair. "There, happy now, Sam?"
Sammy looked from him to John and nodded before raising the fork the rest of the way to his mouth and eating the peas. Bobby had no doubt that both boys were going to get a talking to about politeness later, not that John was the most polite being out…and Bobby was probably going to get one from Jim about him and his 'unnatural' attachment to his hat.
After Jim finished guffawing.
Bobby moved to the window and stuck his fingers between two of the blind slats, widening his view of the outside world. As he thought, there was a black Chevy Impala sitting behind his truck. Patton hadn't even lifted his head off the hood at the arrival – the car and the person inside were too familiar to disturb the dog.
Letting the blind snap back into place, Bobby walked out the front door and stopped on his small porch, just as more than one door opened on the car. John got out of the front seat, looking slightly frazzled around the edges, while Dean climbed out of the passenger side and Sammy virtually fell out of the back.
"John," Bobby called, descending down the few steps to the driveway. They shook hands as the boys looked around, a quiet 'wow' making its way out of Dean's mouth.
Bobby had seen both the boys a few times since their first meeting, but it was the first time that all three Winchesters were on Bobby's home turf. Bobby wasn't sure how he felt about that. A salvage yard wasn't exactly a place for little kids.
Having gravitated towards Patton, both boys stood out of direct biting range, but close enough that if the dog decided that they were lunch they'd be goners. They'd at least obviously been taught that you don't pat a strange dog without getting permission first – that way you didn't lose required limbs or appendages.
"Uncle Bobby," Sam said, barely repressed enthusiasm present in his voice. "Can we pet him?"
Bobby walked across to the mutt and rubbed him around the head and ears. A raised eyebrow was all he got in response from Patton. Seemingly incredibly mild-mannered in the day, he was a ferocious protector at night, earning his place in the salvage yard.
"Down," Bobby said to the dog, giving a slight tug on his collar. He obediently jumped to the ground, resting his head again on his paws and raising both eyes to look at his owner. Bobby ran a hand over his back. "Let him sniff your hand, then pat him real gentle. He's not going to bite."
Sam followed his instructions before his small hand joined Bobby's, rubbing along Patton's flank.
"Look, his tail is wagging!" Sam exclaimed, delight beaming from his face.
Looking up, Bobby saw the incline of Dean's head and the slight nod John gave in reply, and then Patton had two enthusiastic small hands running along his back.
"What's his name?" Dean asked, scratching just above the ear to Patton's resulting ecstasy.
"Like the General?" he queried.
"Just like the General."
"What you moping about?"
Bobby lowered himself into the passenger seat of the wreck – a 1989 Honda Accord that had been well and truly totalled – and closed the door to cut out some of the cold before eying Sammy. The driver's seat was pushed far enough back that he looked dwarfed by the enormous space between him and the steering wheel and nowhere near tall enough to reach the peddles. He was big for an eight-year-old, but he was still only eight.
"Nothing," Sam sullenly said, pushing his bangs away from his eyes and looking out the hole that used to be the driver's side window, the sigh that he wasn't expelling present in his whole stature.
"Sure doesn't look like nothing."
"Just…" Sammy trailed off, rubbing his hands together to warm them up.
With both windows broken, there was a hell of a draft in the car. It wasn't quite ass-freezingly cold outside, but it was damn close, and Bobby wanted to get back into the warm as soon as possible. The only reason he was outside to begin with was to bring Sam back inside before he froze to death. Sammy turned his head to face Bobby again, a wary curiosity in his eyes.
"How do you know my dad?"
"Your dad?" Bobby repeated, stalling for time. This wasn't a question that Bobby expected right now and it wouldn't go down well with John if he told Sam the truth. Bobby really didn't get why Dean was allowed to know about things that go bump in the night but Sammy wasn't. It seemed to be a very strange inequality. "Well, I met your daddy when he needed some parts for the Impala. He just kept on coming back, nothing I said made him stay away." Bobby smiled and Sam gave a small grin back. "That really what's bothering you?"
There were a few moments of silence in which Bobby contemplated the fact that his nose was starting to freeze.
"It's almost Christmas," Sam finally said.
"And?" Bobby prodded.
"Santa doesn't bring presents for grownups. I don't have anything to give Dad."
"Ahhh," Bobby replied. He hadn't even thought about the fact that it was almost Christmas. When you lived by yourself and didn't really have any family, at least any that didn't think you were bonkers, it didn't even register on your radar.
"I don't have any money either, so I can't even buy him something."
"Why don't you come back inside, and we'll see whether we can find something to give your daddy, huh?" Bobby offered.
If he could find something appropriate, well, it would be better than the kid giving him those puppy-dog eyes. He just had to make sure that it wasn't too obviously occult that Sammy would start asking questions. Considering the things that he'd accumulated over the years, there should be something there.
"But, I can't pay you anything," Sammy protested as Bobby hauled himself back out of the car.
"Did I ask you to?"
Bobby slammed the car door and raised an eyebrow. "Well, then, are you coming or do you intend to freeze to death before your daddy and Dean get back?"
The driver's door was opened and Sam climbed out before repeating the slam on that side of the car. They slowly trudged past the rows of dead and abandoned cars towards the house, Patton padding up behind them and shadowing their movements.
"It's a necklace."
Sammy was giving him the look, the one that said 'I'm not buying what you're selling'.
Bobby really didn't see what the problem was. The necklace was a perfectly respectable – and not too hokey or occult looking – protection charm. It wasn't even on a chain; instead it was on a nice piece of leather.
"Dean says that only girls wear necklaces."
Bobby rolled his eyes. Dean said a lot of things, and most of the time he was full of crap. "Does Dean know everything?"
There was a shrug. "He thinks so…" Sammy grinned at him slightly, mischievous little brother sharing a confidence, before frowning back at the necklace in his hand. He twisted it in the air, looking at it from all sides. "Would Dad really want a necklace?"
This was a ridiculous amount of convincing for a Christmas gift. He was doing the boy a favour, and yet he was being treated like he'd offered him something the dog had dragged in that was already four months dead.
"This is a real special necklace, Sam. Your daddy would love it."
Sam continued to study the necklace, rubbing at the dull surface of the charm. He looked up at Bobby, his expression still unsure and waited a few moments more, as if to make sure Bobby wasn't going to offer something else.
"It has horns. I guess that's not girly," he finally said.
Bobby never did ask how Dean ended up wearing it instead.
Bobby knocked on the door and looked around. It was a bog-standard motel and didn't appear to be too busy, which was good. Well, not for the motel, but it was useful for the occupants of this particular room. There were only three other cars parked in front of rooms, other than the Impala and his own car, and the closest was five doors down. He heard the chain being pulled off the door, the lock being flicked and then the door opened a little to show part of Dean's face.
"Bobby…what you doing here?" Dean asked, glancing around. When he seemed to be sure that no one was watching, the teen pulled the door open a little further, revealing a nasty purple bruise on his cheekbone.
"I heard that your daddy was sick; thought you might need some help, knowing what a disagreeable bastard he can be."
He put a hand on the door, not letting Dean reply, and pushed it enough for him to enter, closing it behind him. There was a definite smell of sickness in the room, almost certainly emanating from the man lying in the scrunched up blankets on one of the double beds. Sammy was sitting on the other double bed, looking at Bobby and Dean, an almost guilty expression on his face. There was a rollaway bed beside it, which was evidently where Dean was sleeping.
"Sam!" Dean snapped, moving angrily towards Sam's bed. "You called Bobby?"
That mystery revealed and deciding to ignore their spat at the moment, Bobby sat down on the edge of John's bed. His face above the blankets was flushed and his hair and beard were shiny and limp with sweat. A testing hand on his forehead revealed that the fever was high.
"What happened?" Bobby asked, interrupting what was almost a shouting match between the boys.
"Everything's fine, Bobby," Dean replied, his voice cracking slightly, possessively and defensively striding back to the other side of the bed to face him. "Dad told me what to do, and I've been doing it. He's going to be fine."
"Uh huh." He gestured to Dean's cheek. "That how you got that, everything being fine?"
Sam had told him on the phone that John had been sick for the past four days; the bruise was only a day or so old, so it couldn't have come from whatever hunt had laid John out like this. Dean reddened, his hand automatically coming up to cover the evidence.
"Dad hit him," Sam piped up helpfully.
Dean glared in Sam's direction and quickly jumped in, "He didn't mean to."
Considering how high his fever appeared to be, Bobby could believe that.
"You hurt anywhere else? Sammy hurt?"
Dean shook his head at the same time that Sam replied, "His ribs."
"It's nothing," Dean denied, sending a death stare Sammy's way. "Just some bruising. And Sammy's fine."
Bobby hmphed. They'd see about that after he had a look at John. One thing he'd learned dealing with all three Winchesters was that stubbornness seemed to be genetic.
"He was hurt on a hunt?"
The boys nodded, Dean grinning slightly. It was an odd reaction, considering how sick his daddy was.
"He got attacked by a Wolpertinger," Dean said.
Searching through his memory revealed nothing. While Bobby's 'speciality' was demons, he still knew a fair bit about other supernatural creatures. "Haven't heard of it."
"It's a rabbit with antlers, wings and fangs," Sam said as Dean sniggered.
Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
"Oh, yeah," Dean agreed. "Very Monty Python. It apparently flew at him, literally flew at him, and before he could stab it, it bit him on the hand."
Evil bunnies. That was a new one. "Sure it wasn't just rabid?"
There was a shrug. "Dad said that its bite is poisonous and you just have to let the poison run its course. His fever is lower than what it was and the bite doesn't look as infected."
"Right or left hand?"
"Right," Dean answered.
Bobby lifted the bedclothes slightly, causing John to restlessly move and murmur in protest, and pulled the hand out into the light. There were two purple puncture marks, surrounded by red, puffy skin. If this was a bite that was healing, well, it must have been pretty damn bad.
"He said to bandage it for the first two days, and then leave it uncovered after that."
The hand was tucked back in under the blankets and Bobby looked up at Dean to find that he was being watched, anxiety and worry barely hidden in Dean's eyes. The kid looked exhausted.
"You've done good, Dean," Bobby reassured, seeing the slight slump of Dean's shoulders in response.
Bobby damned John Winchester and his independent ways. No kids should have had to deal with a very sick and possibly dying father alone.TBC...