"Bobby, I swear," John said as he stormed past, "I'm going to kill them."
Bobby followed John with his eyes for a few seconds – John's fists were clenched tightly at his sides – and then looked back to the cause of John's homicidal mania.
Sam was sitting in the front seat, if you could call what he was doing sitting, Dean was in the back – where he'd been relegated to since Sam had turned into Gumby somewhere around his twelfth birthday – and there was a furious fight going on. As he watched, Dean flipped Sam over the front seat to the back and the fury of the fight picked up a notch. Dean's face squished against the side window as Sam briefly gained the upper hand and then there was just a flurry of limbs. Bobby shook his head as he turned and followed John back to the house. They could fight it out in the car – he didn't want any of his furniture wrecked.
John was slouched in a low armchair, his hands rubbing his face tiredly. "Jim wouldn't take them." He looked pleadingly - as much as John Winchester ever could - from behind his fingers.
"Me?" Bobby said, surprised. "I'm not looking after your hell-spawn, John. You made them, you deal with them."
"Just for a couple of days?" It was the closest to pleading Bobby had ever seen the man. "I can't leave them alone; they'll end up killing each other. I got pitying looks, pitying looks, from a lady in a diner the other day."
Bobby didn't tell him that he'd probably been getting those looks for years; Dean and Sammy Winchester seemed to bring that out in people. True, initially it would have been because people seemed to spot motherless boys a mile off.
"What did they do?"
John gave a half laugh, his shoulders twitching quietly. "Sammy called Dean a dwarf, so Dean 'accidentally' dumped his glass of coke down Sammy's front and announced to the world that Sammy had wet himself."
Bobby let the silence fill for him for a few seconds. "Well, that doesn't sound too bad."
John slumped back further into the chair. "That's the nicest they've been to each other in three weeks. My kids are brats."
"N-no," Bobby drawled. John raised his eyebrows in response. "Well, yes, they're brats, but they're also teenage boys, John. This is what teenage boys do. Just be thankful that there've been no injuries yet."
John looked away.
"Okay, be thankful that there've been no serious injuries yet."
John sighed. "Sammy just won't shut-up, to me or Dean. He talks back, calls Dean shorty or dwarf, and then Dean calls him sasquatch back and threatens to cut his hair. They can't pass within three feet without hitting each other. Dean hasn't filled out yet and, with Sammy's height, sometimes Sammy can pin him."
Bobby thought that they were finally getting to the point. "You worried he'll hurt Dean?"
John rubbed a finger across his lip. "When Dean was that age, he was sparring with me. I had the weight and experience vantage and held back. Dean, Dean doesn't really have much of either. He shows restraint with Sammy, but Sammy gets carried away now that he can finally beat Dean."
"And he might push Dean too far and he'll hurt Sammy, or Sammy'll hurt Dean," Bobby finished for him.
"Yeah. I suppose it would be one hell of an object lesson."
Bobby rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well, John," he said slowly, "I think one of those two things is going to happen no matter what you do." He stood up and grabbed a bottle of whiskey off a shelf. "Might do Sammy some good to realise just how dangerous he can be; might make him grow up a little." He poured some whiskey into a glass and handed it to John. "You look like you need it."
John nodded in thanks as he took a gulp. The front door slammed and they heard voices moving towards the room they were in. Dean and Sam appeared in the doorway with a scuffle, Sam flipping his hair out of his eyes as Dean elbowed him in the ribs. Sam replied with a too strong shove before walking ahead of Dean into the room.
"Hey, Bobby," he said. Dean followed him, nodding in greeting.
"Dean, Sammy," Bobby nodded, noticing the flicker of irritation in Sam's eyes as Dean's name came first. "How are you boys doing?"
"It's Sam," Sammy spat out quickly, his jaw jutting out in indignation.
"Sammy," John snapped, his voice low. If both boys were ignoring that tone, then John really did have a problem.
Dean cuffed Sam on the back of the head. "Stop being a little bitch," he hissed.
Sam turned and punched him in the shoulder. "Stop being a jerk, Virgin Mary." He made no effort to lower his voice.
Dean flushed and shook his head, his nostrils flaring. "That's it-"
"Sam," Bobby interrupted. He waited until Dean had settled down and Sam had given him his attention. "Go and get yours and your brother's stuff out of the car."
Sam stared from him to John and back again when John made no movement.
"Now, Sam," Bobby said forcefully.
Sam sullenly turned and bumped purposefully into Dean before walking out the door. Dean looked curiously at Bobby.
"Go and say hello to the dogs," Bobby said quietly, jerking his head in the right direction. Dean nodded and silently left.
Bobby sank down into a chair after grabbing a glass for himself and pouring some whiskey into it. "Well, they're just a barrel of laughs," he said sarcastically. John snorted in response. "Virgin Mary?" Bobby continued. "I remember how that boy talked about girls at fifteen. Never figured he'd have problems in that regard."
John took another sip of his drink before cradling the glass in his hand. "Problem is, every time he's fallen head over heels it's been a cheerleader."
"Ah." Bobby nodded in understanding.
"He was told by one girl that there's no way she was going to slum it with a freak, another that he's 'too pretty'."
Bobby arched an eyebrow in surprise. "He tell you that?"
John took a final gulp. "Eventually." He stood up and placed the glass on a nearby table. "I assume since Sammy's bringing in their bags that my 'hell-spawn' can stay here?"
Bobby stood as well and smiled. "Well, I know howmuch Sam enjoys fixing cars, so he can help me out. And there's a few obscure and rare books that are just calling Dean's name. I'm sure that they'll both love that."
John rumbled with quiet laughter. "I owe you one, Bobby. Dean and Sam know where I'm going. I'll see you in a week, at the most."
They shook hands quickly and John headed out the door.
"Be careful, John," Bobby called after him. "I'm not inheriting your hell-spawn."
He downed the last of his drink in one gulp. This was going to be fun.
Bobby made sure that the boys were never together in the same room, at least until they had dinner. It made him realise that keeping them apart for even a few hours the rest of the week was going to be near impossible. He sure hoped that John would be back earlier rather than later.
The little table was large enough that they weren't sitting on top of each other while eating, but still small enough that Sam and Dean could kick each other under the table. One stray kick got him instead of whichever brother it had been aimed for and he slammed his fork down.
"That's it," he said forcefully. "Get to bed, now."
"But, Bobby…" Sam started.
"I said now, Sam." His glare was enough to force both Winchesters to sullenly put down their silverware. "Dean, you take the upstairs room, Sam, you've got the couch."
"Why do I get the couch?" Sam whined.
"Because I said so. Now get, both of you."
He was somehow not surprised when he heard raised voices two minutes later. There was only one bathroom.
Dean sought him out the next day, when he was alone between several rows of cars playing a game of fetch with Eisenhower.
"I'm not a kid, Bobby."
Despite Dean's words, the tone proved that he still was.
"I've been looking after Sammy since I was nine. I don't need you telling me what to do."
Implicit in the statement was the fact that John should never have left the boys with Bobby, Dean could take care of them both well enough. Eisenhower brought the stick back, dropping it at Bobby's feet with his tongue lolling. Another throw and the dog was bounding away, ears flapping madly in the wind created by his speed.
"You're not a kid, then don't act like one." Bobby didn't look at Dean, just stayed focussed on Eisenhower. He rubbed the mutt around the ears as the stick dropped and listened to Dean walking away.
He knew that Dean was trying when he heard furtive whispering from the next room instead of yelling, kicking, screaming or bodies hitting the floor. Uniting against a common enemy almost always worked, and, after the brain numbing sorting of parts that he'd had Sam doing, they definitely had a common enemy.
"I bet he's bald," Sam said, his voice just a little too loud. "And he wears it to bed."
Bobby really wondered what it was about Sam and his hat.
One more day until John would be back, early, thank goodness, and all hell broke loose.
Bobby was reading when Sam's six foot frame crashing into the room, out of breath and frantic.
"Bobby," he gasped out, resting his hands on his waist and bending slightly, trying to get his breath back. There were drying, dirt-smudged tear tracks on his cheeks, tinged with streaks of red.
Suddenly standing, Bobby moved to check for any injuries, but the blood wasn't from Sam, it was still drying stickily on his hands.
"What the hell happened? Where's Dean?" He looked behind Sam even though he knew that Dean wouldn't be there.
Fresh tears tracked down Sam's face. "I didn't mean…he fell…"
His jaw trembled as he grabbed Bobby's arm, pulling him towards the door. Bobby managed to break free long enough to get the first aid kit, before letting Sam lead him at a run into the piles of wrecks. Patton got up from where he was lazing underneath a tree, his old body loping easily after them. He wasn't a very active dog anymore, but he was still there if his master needed him.
Bobby didn't know whether to be alarmed or relieved that he couldn't hear any screams or yelling. Dean always internalised his pain, trying not to give anything more than a grunt in reaction, even when any grown man would be screaming. They rounded a crushed mess of car bodies to find Dean sprawled out on the ground, Eisenhower standing guard by his head. A hand was wound tightly in the dog's short fur, holding the dog in place.
Kneeling down, Bobby assessed the situation. There was bruising coming up around Dean's eye and blood oozing out of his lower right leg and splattering to the dirt below. A piece of rusty metal grotesquely stuck out of the wound, unattached to anything above. A quick glance underneath and to the side showed that it was part of the frame around a windshield that was sticking out into the open from a pile next to him. There was no way they'd be able to move Dean without cutting him free. Gently prising the jeans material away from the wound revealed that the blood flow was slow and the metal hadn't hit an artery.
"What have I told you two about playing this far out?" It was a familiar mantra from the dozens of times that the boys had been there for the day. Bobby knew that this time it wasn't playing they'd been doing.
He continued studying the piece of metal. They could call for an ambulance and the fire brigade, get them to cut Dean out, but they'd take at least half an hour to get there. There was a section of the metal attaching the piece in Dean's leg to the rest of the car body that was relatively thin and probably would be easy enough to cut through with a hack saw or bolt cutters.
"Sam." Bobby looked up. "Go to the tool shed, get a hack saw and the biggest pair of bolt cutters there. And give me your jacket."
Jacket removed and Sam sprinting away again, Bobby placed the makeshift blanket over Dean's shivering form and moved to sit beside his head. Patton whined low in his throat and licked at the fingers of Dean's free hand as the other hand tightened its hold on Eisenhower.
"Dean." Bobby tapped his cheek trying to get his attention. The glassy eyes swivelled, tears leaking out the sides, gradually focussing on Bobby's face. "You with me?"
He got a long blink in response. Bobby'd seen fresh snow with more colour than Dean's face.
"We're going to get you out of here," he murmured, resting his hand on the side of Dean's face. The skin was cool to the touch. "It's going to be okay."
The whimper just about did Bobby in. Dean had gritted his teeth throughout Bobby cutting through the metal that was attached to the car body, letting little more than a grunt escape. He'd regained some of his colour by the time that Bobby had returned with the truck, but rapidly lost it the instant he tried to stand up.
Letting him sink back to the ground, Bobby put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Dean, I'm going to have to carry you."
Not happy with that idea, Dean attempted to shake his head, but stopped abruptly, paling even further. Truth to tell, Bobby wasn't too happy with the idea either. Not quite six foot yet, although it did look like he was going to reach it, and skinny, it was still going to be an effort to carry Dean, particularly as he hadn't been able to move the truck very close and putting Dean over his shoulder wasn't very feasible. The kid was going to be heavy and Bobby was starting to get old. His knees and hips complained when it rained, he couldn't run as far or fast as he could ten years ago, and his hair was starting to thin a bit under his cap.
His knees creaked as he bent down beside Dean and wrapped an arm around his torso. Dean reluctantly put his arm around Bobby as Bobby slid his other hand under Dean's knees. Sam was there, helping to support the weight from the other side as Bobby slowly stood up, staggering slightly. A quick glance down showed that Dean's eyes were closed and his head was almost lolling against Bobby. The arm wrapped around Bobby's waist had relaxed and dropped limply towards the ground. Thirty slightly staggering steps later and Bobby was gently depositing Dean in the back of the truck and doing his best to situate the leg so that the metal wouldn't be bumped.
It wasn't until he was driving that he had any time to really think or process. Dean was going to be in the hospital for a little while and Bobby wasn't sure what to do about the insurance. John was going to get back and blow his stack, Dean was unconscious, Sam looked terrified out of his skull, and Bobby felt out of his depth.
"Bobby, can you give us a minute?"
He looked from John – jaw squeezed shut, tension radiating from every inch – to Sam – head down, almost cowering submissively.
"The boy is going to be okay, John." He knew that John knew that, and that it wasn't the point, but he had to say it anyway.
Even as Bobby left the house, he heard the yelling. It was not his place to tell John how to raise his kids, and hell, he'd already yelled at Sam too, but the kid was already beating himself from one end of the earth to the other about it all. And Dean was trying to take the blame all on himself, starting from the minute he'd woken up in the hospital.
Sure as hell, those kids weren't going to be staying with him again. He didn't need the aggravation.
It was quiet; well, except for their feet crunching through the leaves, the birds chirping away in the trees and the distant hum of planes flying overhead. Everything else around Bobby and Dean was loud; it was they who were quiet. Bobby studied Dean for a moment. He was trudging along, shotgun in one hand and a shovel in the other, swishing the shovel around to clear an unnecessary path through the undergrowth. It seemed like he'd finally reached his full height, standing an inch or so shorter than John and Sam. Bobby would bet anything that Sam still had some slow growing left to do and was going to end up being taller than his daddy. Dean was finally starting to fill out, putting on bulk and muscle and leaving behind his rangy teenage build. He'd probably always remain slim, having not inherited his father's solidness. Bobby was pretty sure that Dean was mostly Mary, with his colouring, facial structure, body type, and relatively even temper. Dean wasn't prone to extended periods of general grumpiness or explosive bouts of anger, unlike both of the other two Winchesters; which made the quietness puzzling. A quiet Dean was a moody, grumpy or upset Dean. With girls around, and things to hunt, that wasn't usually a Dean that Bobby saw.
Bobby stopped suddenly, holding his hand up for quiet and angling his head towards their right. They both looked to the right; raised voices, the words indistinct, travelled on the wind, blowing towards them and then away. Sam and John were searching in that direction, and yelling could only mean one thing: they'd encountered the spirit. The voices steadily increased in volume as they ran towards them, both loping easily through the woods. The woodland noises abruptly stopped when they came within a few hundred feet of the disturbance. Bobby stumbled slightly, stepping into a depression that was deeper than he thought, before righting himself and continuing after Dean. His ankle twinged slightly with every step he took, reminding him that he wasn't used to this anymore. Hunting was a young man's – or woman's – game.
"What's the point of this? HUH?"
The yelling going on up ahead had abruptly gone from too quiet to make out to a volume where it was unmistakeable as to who was speaking. Sam sounded angry and Dean's jaw had tightened in reaction, a vein in his neck throbbing in time with the beat of his feet on the ground.
"You know perfectly well what the point of this is."
John sounded just as pissed as Sam did. Bobby was starting to get the feeling that this had nothing to do with the spirit they were hunting, at least, not directly. He'd been aware that John and Sam were occasionally at each other's throats, but had no idea that it had gotten so bad that Sam was challenging him on hunts. Dissension when hunting was a no go area with John Winchester, and Bobby didn't blame him. There was no faster way to get killed then being distracted. For all the man's faults, he knew what he was doing, more than anyone else that Bobby had worked with. Yeah, Bobby could see how being forced to obey orders, no questions asked, could be frustrating for his kids, but it kept them both alive.
"What saving people? So our lives are screwed all to hell because we're so civic minded that we've got to help everyone else? That it?"
"I'm not having this argument again, Sam."
Dean put on a burst of speed and Bobby tried to keep up.
"Oh, and avenging Mom's death, we'll throw that in, too, because I'm sure that this is exactly what she'd have wanted for her family. You still don't even know what it was that killed Mom."
They reached a break in the trees and could finally see Sam and John a few feet ahead, standing toe to toe, Sam right in John's face, yelling. John looked about two seconds away from exploding.
"Face it, you're so screwed up that you wouldn't know how to live any other way. Aren't you? Aren't you?"
Sam's face was twisted up into an ugly sneer, his fists were balled at his sides, ready for a physical confrontation. Give John about half a second more and he'd have it. Dean sprinted the last few feet, shoving out both hands to roughly push the two apart, and stand in between them.
"All right!" he shouted, turning his head both ways to look at them.
Bobby slowed to a stop a couple of feet away; close enough, should it turn really ugly, but far enough away to show that he really didn't want to get involved in the fight. Dean took a deep breath, seemingly realising that he was holding a shotgun up in front of his dad's face and a shovel in front of his brother's. He gave a surprised look to the shovel and shrugged, before letting both hands drop to his sides.
"That's enough. Both of you."
"Dean, stay out of this," John said warningly, making a move to go around him. "This is between me and Sammy."
Not budging an inch from his stand against them both, Dean deliberately put himself in John's way, the angle of his head indicating that he wasn't going to let his father pass.
"So, what was it about this time, huh?" Dean asked, not taking his gaze from John's face. There was almost a look of bemusement on John's face, rather than the anger that had been there only seconds before. Bobby had never seen Dean take him on before, but considering John's reaction, Dean was used to playing referee and peacemaker. "Research, school, how much our lives suck?"
Dean turned to look at Sam at the second word, catching the tell that indicated he'd hit on the answer. "What, you got an essay due on Monday?"
"Yeah," Sam muttered. "History and it's worth twenty percent." His voice rose in volume as he spoke, defiant to the end, but he couldn't hold Dean's eyes.
"And knowing you you've got everything except the references done. Am I right?"
The slight pursing of Sam's lips and the wrinkle of his nose were the answer. Sam stuck his jaw out and straightened up, on the warpath again. "Why do you always take Dad's side? Huh?"
"Because I'm right," John answered tersely, confirming what Bobby had just realised. John thought exactly what Sam did, that Dean was on his side. From where Bobby was standing, Dean didn't have a side; he was just trying to stop one of them from saying something really stupid one day, as opposed to the normal level of Winchester stupidity, and wanting to kill the other.
"I'm not taking sides," Dean snapped.
Bobby's attention was drawn away from the fight that was going on in front of him by something flickering at the corner of his eye, off to their left. He stepped away, closer to the surrounding trees, trying to see what had caused the movement, the iron bar held ready in front of him. A branch in front of him swayed back and forth, seemingly having been jostled by something. The canopy was too dense to allow much wind to penetrate this far down, so he couldn't really blame it on the wind, and any wildlife that was around was real quiet considering there weren't even any insects chirping. The branch swayed to a stop as he grabbed it, still looking around for what had caused the movement. Everything was still, but he gave it a few seconds more, before turning back to the Winchesters.
John caught Bobby's eye, questioning whether he'd found anything and proving that at least one of them hadn't been oblivious to their surroundings. Bobby shook his head and stepped back in their direction, ready to tell them to get their heads out of their asses; they had a violent spirit to find. His foot caught on something and, before he had a chance to look down, he was hitting the ground hard, his chin bouncing painfully on a rock. His vision sparked and swam as he was dragged over the detritus on the forest floor until his head hit something harder than it. The last thing he heard was John yelling his name.
Regaining consciousness was never fun. He blinked steadily, trying to get his eyes to focus, and grunted slightly at the pain in his head as he moved.
Sam was suddenly looming over him, holding his shoulder and stopping his torso from hitting the ground again. The contact point ached, just like the rest of Bobby's body, and he got the feeling that he was going to be bruised black and blue from head to toe.
"Just, just take it easy, okay. Here." Sam guided him back until he was leaning against a tree trunk, which was more of a relief than Bobby wanted to admit. Every bone, muscle and joint in his body had twinged with pain at the brief movement, but his ankle and head were the worst of it. The foot was bootless and a bandage was wrapped around the ankle, but at least he didn't think it was broken.
"Where's your dad and your brother?" he asked, once the spots had disappeared from his vision again.
"Looking for the grave," Sam said, settling down on the ground opposite him and pulling a shotgun to rest in his lap. He looked nervous, his gaze darting around and never really settling on any one thing, his hand hovering over the gun at every normal forest noise around them. That reassured Bobby more than anything else; the spirit was nowhere nearby if it was business as usual for the local wildlife. Sam hadn't seemed this green in the hunt they'd been on six months ago and Bobby wondered exactly what it was that had Sam so spooked.
"Anything happen while I was out?"
"No, not really," Sam replied, shaking his head. "For some reason, it stopped pulling you and just disappeared. Dad checked you over, said you were going to be okay, and then he and Dean left."
The tone that Sam had been using with John earlier had crept back into his words, leaving Bobby wondering whether Sam had argued for getting Bobby back to the car and leaving. This far in, it was smarter to finish the hunt then to retreat and try again. Plus, Bobby wasn't willing to take the risk that another hiker would get killed before they managed to deal with the spirit.
"They'll be fine," Bobby said, his tone dismissive.
The reply was quick. "I know."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Sam's knee jiggling up and down and Bobby searching for something to say before the silence became more uncomfortable. He'd seen a reasonable amount of Dean in the past few years, between researching and hunting, but not so much of Sam.
"It's okay, I guess," Sam started, the normal enthusiasm for learning he had missing from his voice. "Everybody's starting to talk about going to college."
"You thinking about going?"
Sam twisted his mouth around, as if searching for the words. "I dunno…maybe. Dad would have a fit."
Bobby shrugged. If Sam wanted something else, if his head wasn't really in the game for hunting – and Bobby got the impression that it wasn't – then he'd turn into a liability. "It's not your dad's life."
"Yeah, well, to hear him talk, you wouldn't think it."
Not wanting to get into an argument or give support that could possibly come around and bite him on the butt in the future, Bobby decided to keep his mouth shut.
They sat in silence, waiting for John and Dean to come back.
Bobby rubbed his hand across his mouth, trying to process all that John had told him. This…this had the potential to be very, very bad.
"You have to get Sam out of Stanford," he finally said, the words coming slowly as his mind whipped through decades of research, trying to see whether anything could be relevant.
"No." The word was typical 'no argument entered into' John Winchester.
"Are you insane?" Bobby exploded, not understanding how John couldn't get it. "He could be putting people's lives at risk by being there."
"And here, surrounded by things that might want to hurt him, or use him, he'd be safer?" John snapped back.
"Damn straight. How the hell is he meant to protect himself if he thinks he's just Joe College?"
John shrugged. "It's what he wants, Bobby. He wouldn't leave even if I tried to get him to."
With something like this, what he wanted wasn't important. Staying alive was. "Make him. John, you can't mess with things like this."
Bobby knew that John didn't believe it, not in this case. "Yeah, and sometimes they tell the truth, just to mess with ya. You can't take that risk."
"What it said about Mary…"
Hearing that Mary might have known what had killed her had cut John to the core. Bobby didn't know what to believe, but things that were that specific, it could be true. "I dunno, John. Hell, maybe it's a demon that's responsible for all of this. You at least need to tell Sam and Dean what you know."
"I don't know anything, not for sure," John evaded.
Bobby couldn't believe it. This was the sort of stupidity that turned a good hunter into an unsafe one. "You'd leave them in the dark about something like this?"
"I'm protecting them!"
"You're trying to get them killed!" Bobby shouted, throwing his arms up in frustration. He reined in his temper and tried to get John to understand. "If there's something special about Sam, if something wants Sam, it could come after you or Dean and use you to get to him. Can't you see that?"
John shook his head and spoke, his tone dangerous. "You're not their father, Bobby. I know what I'm doing."
"Yeah, you're being an ass and putting your entire family in danger," Bobby said angrily.
"From the minute Mary died they've been in danger. Everything,everything I've done is for them."
There'd never been any doubt in Bobby's mind that what John said was true. But that sort of dedication, that sort of zeal, wasn't necessarily what the boys needed.
"Maybe, but doesn't mean that it's right. I've watched you over the years, John, and I've kept my mouth shut, but the way those boys grew up." He shook his head. "It was wrong."
John stiffened, his whole body radiating anger, and clenched his jaw. "You don't know anything." His voice had gone quiet, a sure sign he'd just gone over boiling point. "And you really shouldn't talk; you killed your family."
John always had a knack for getting under Bobby's skin, but that was a low blow, even for him. It fit with the man in the murmurings that Bobby had been hearing, that John was seeing the grey in the world even less than he had before, that he was willing to do things to get information that were making some hunters squirm. He was a man on a mission and damn anything or anyone who'd get in his way.
Bobby'd hoped that it would never come to this. He'd seen what happened when hunters let their obsession get the better of them, when it had overridden commonsense, when it put other people's lives in danger, and he'd sworn that he'd never let a hunter who had reached that stage put his own life in danger. It was almost too easy to grab the shotgun.
"Bobby…" John looked at him uneasily as he picked it up and aimed it in John's direction, disappointment burning beneath his anger. There was no turning back.
"Get off my property, John. I'm not having a stubborn-ass idjit putting my life at risk…and I can't watch you put your kids' lives at risk." His tone was even and matter of fact, like he aimed guns at his friends all the time. John didn't move, his gaze locked on Bobby's face like he was trying to figure out whether this was just another of their fights or whether this was something more. Bobby cocked the shotgun, his voice deadly serious. "I mean it, John."
"Bobby, Dad, what's going on?"
Bobby hadn't heard the Impala pull up and cursed Dean's timing. The kid sounded wary and Bobby didn't doubt that he'd had a gun trained on Bobby the minute he'd seen the frozen tableau on Bobby's doorstep.
John nodded as if reaching a decision. "Dean, get back in the car. We're leaving."
He turned around calmly and walked down the steps and past Dean, heading towards his own truck. The expression of hurt and betrayal on Dean's face was quickly hidden as he let his own gun drop and turned and followed his dad.
Only when the twin rumbles of the engines faded away did Bobby slowly lower the shotgun.
He hoped to hell that he was wrong.