Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place.

Summary. . . . . . . After John refuses to take a hunt he has been asked to do, a fellow hunter takes drastic measures to ensure his participation.

Disclaimer. . . . . Don't own, so don't sue!

A.N. . . . . . Happy Birthday, Sammygirl1963. Written for you as a present for being a wonderful and supportive friend over the past year and a bit. I hope I do your bunny justice.

John jumped behind the microfiche he was working at, his hand instinctively reaching for the gun nestled in his waistband, as the library's huge wooden doors were pulled viciously open to crash against the wall behind it before slamming back shut again. His senses on high alert, John waited for the attack to begin, years of hunting having him on edge. The attack though when it did eventually start, was nothing like he had expected, yet was something that chilled him to his very bone.

"Ddddddaaaaaaaaddddd!"

John's chair was knocked to the ground as his eldest son's voice rang, sounding especially loud and echoy in the otherwise quiet and still room, his son's voice that was filled with fear and concern.

"Ddddddaaaaaaaaddddd!" Dean cried out again, his small nine year old body unable to see his father behind the bank of computers.

Rising himself to his full height John scoured the room for his son. Spotting him, he quickly made his way over ignoring the stares from the other patrons, as well as the ssshhing noises the elderly librarian was sending his way. When he was close enough he made his presence known and hissed. "Dean! What's with all the shouting? You know better then this." John harsh army voice unwittingly coming forth.

"Where's Sam? Is he here? Why did you take him from school? You knew I was going to pick him up. Where's he hiding? This is not funny, you know? I was scared witless when he wasn't waiting outside. Where is he?"

"Dean? Dean! Slow down I can't make out a word of what you're saying. Take a deep breath and start again. Slowly!"

"Where. Is. Sammy?"

"What do you mean, where's Sammy? He's at school, isn't he?"

"Dad, it's four o clock, his school finished an hour ago, he normally waits just inside the gates for me to finish school, but he wasn't there. I asked around but nobody had seen him, they thought he had been picked up."

"What do you mean nobodies seen him? How could they have let him go off? Why weren't they looking after him? Where's your brother Dean?" John unknowingly, his fears overcoming him, had grabbed Dean roughly by the biceps, shaking his young son viciously, only stopping as the librarian stepped in.

"Sir! Sir! What are you doing to that poor boy? If you don't stop this instant, I'll be forced to call the police, your abusing him."

Coming out of the trance his fears had put him under, John dropped his hands and glanced at his eldest son's shocked, teary and horror filled eyes before traveling down his body to arms not yet filled with the muscle they showed promise of one day having, where hand prints could already be seen imprinted in the tender flesh. Guilt washed over him, making his own eyes water, his face soften, and his voice to become more tender. Opening his arms he beckoned Dean into his embrace.

"Dean, son I'm sorry. I'm so so very sorry, come here." As Dean finally relented and ran into his father's arms, John added. "It'll be okay, Sam's probably gone home with one of his friends. He'll be okay, you'll see."

"No, No! He's not okay, Dad. He's not gone off with anybody, he wouldn't do that. He just wouldn't! He wouldn't worry me like this. He wouldn't!" Dean sobbed out, his body shaking uncontrollably within his father's embrace.

Deep down John knew Dean was right; Sam no matter what, no matter his young age, would never have gone off anywhere without getting permission first, Dean had taught him well. From the day Sam had been old enough to understand, Dean had drummed it into his younger brother to never go off alone; to never trust anybody that Dean himself or their Dad had first said was to be trusted; to always wait no matter how long that wait turned out to be. With a feeling of dread rising in his stomach, John picked Dean up and hurriedly headed for the doors. Something bad had happened to Sam.

Jumping in the Impala they headed back to the run down motel room they were currently calling home, ignoring all stop signs and red lights along the short ride in their haste to get back, hoping that maybe they were wrong and Sam for some unknown reason had headed home. Their hopes though were dashed as they drove into the motels car park, if Sam had made his way back here he would have been sitting outside the room, but the small step was empty; Sam wasn't there. Hastily stepping out of the Impala and not even stopping to lock it, John raced to the motel room, his hands fumbling to get the key in the lock when he reached the door, knowing that probably Sam wasn't even in there but still hoping against hope for small remote chance that he could be. The room though like the step, was empty.

John stood on the threshold for a long time, just contemplating what could possibly have happened to his baby. He visibly jumped as he finally set foot in the room, as the phone positioned on the small nightstand between the rooms two small beds chose that moment to ring. Reluctantly, ominously headed towards the device, his heart beat pulsating in his chest, reaching forward he picked up the receiver, the dread he had been feeling for his son's safety escalating as a voice spoke out, not even giving John the chance to say hello.

"You should never have refused the hunt John. It didn't have to come to this." A voice John recognized spoke out. A pause came on the line then in which John could hear the muffled sound of the phone being handed to someone else before his baby boy's cowering and petrified voice came on the line.

"Daddy? Bad men gave me owies." Sam sobbed out before the phone was yanked away from him, John still able to hear his son's sobs turn into full blown crying, making John vow to make everyone who was involved pay for the hurt they were causing Sam. He listened again as the original voice came on the line.

"You have two choices John, take the hunt and Sam lives. Or refuse and receive your son back in pieces. You have twenty four hours to decide. We''ll expect you here in Sioux Falls if you take option one! The details are in the envelope on your bed. See you soon John." No sooner had the man spoken his last words the call was cut, leaving John stood with receiver in hand, a dial tone sounding in his ear, and no chance to offer his baby reassurances. Putting the phone back down, he picked up the envelope that was placed exactly where the man ad said it would be. Opening it up he spilled the contents out onto the bedspread, missing the polaroid that slipped to the floor as he started to read the details written on an ordinary piece of paper.

Dean though hadn't missed the photo fall and bent down to pick it up with all intention to hand it back to his father, one glance at the image though had him crying out in anguish, and John looking to find out what was wrong. At seeing the photo he took it from his sobbing child's fingers and perused it himself, what little color he had left in his face draining at the image. Sam was staring straight at the camera, huge bulbous tears rolling unceasingly down his face, a face that was already blossoming with mottled bruises.

"Dad? What's going on? What's happened? Who's got Sammy? Where is he? Why are they hurting him?"

"He's okay." John lied, trying to ease Dean's worrying.

"Don't lie to me, Dad. He doesn't look okay in the photo. He looks scared and confused and hurt."

Dean, son calm down. Fine he's not okay, but he will be, I promise you. Now pack up quickly we have to leave, now!"

"What! Where are we going? What about Sammy? We have to go and get him. He needs us. You know he doesn't sleep well at nights if I'm not there. You know he's fussy about what he eats. He's gonna be so scared. We have to go get him back now! Please Dad, come on let's go. Let's go get Sammy now, please?"

John's heart broke as he heard the distress in Dean's voice, he so desperately wanted to ease his son's pain, to do as his son wanted, to go and get Sammy and scoop both boys up and hide them away from all the danger, from all the bad things for the rest of their lives; but he knew that reality would never happen, he knew that just getting Sammy back was going to be hard enough. Caught in two minds as to what to do next, comfort his distressed eldest son, or start preparing to get Sam back, John's head began to spin. Taking a deep breath John turned to Dean, he needed his son to be strong right now. Putting on his military voice, John almost shouted his orders.

"Dean, stop! This is not helping Sam!"

Dean, as John knew he would, immediately calmed. The thought that his actions could in some way hurt his brother even more was something Dean couldn't live with. "I'm sorry."

"I know son, but I need your help, and for that I need you to be calm and in control. Now come on and finish packing, we need to get going."

"Where are we going? Do you know where Sam is?"

"I have an idea, but we're heading to Jim's place. You're going to stay with him whilst I go and get Sam back."

"Dad! No! I have to come along too."

"Dean, I'm sorry but I've made up my mind. I need to know that you'll be okay, that you'll be safe, so that I can concentrate and focus on rescuing Sam."

"But I will be okay, I'll be with you. I can help Dad please."

John walked over to his eldest son and placed his hands on his skinny shoulders. Looking him in the eyes he spoke softly. "Dean, son I'm sorry, but no. I can't lose the two of you. I wont lose the two of you. Pack up now, we're going to Jim's." When Dean just continued to stand there giving him his own version of the puppy dog eyes Sam was an expert at, John added more strongly. "Dean! Pack up now!"

Packing their few belongings took no time at all and soon the two elder Winchester's were speeding down the highway in a desperate dash to Blue Earth and the sanctuary of Jim's, the Impala's gutsy engine eating up the miles with ease as John's foot refused to let up on the gas. Conversation was stilted at best, Dean still angry both at himself and his Dad; himself for the fact that he had allowed Sam to be taken, his young mind unable to comprehend that there was nothing he could have done; at his Dad for not allowing him to accompany him on the hunt for Sam and his kidnappers.

Keeping his face turned to the window to prevent his Dad from seeing the tears of frustration rolling down his cheeks, he passed the time watching the scenery pass him by , until the dull monotonous blurs of green and brown lulled him into a restless slumber, where nightmares of what could be happening to his baby brother, how petrified he would be, roamed through his head causing him to whimper and cry out. These nightmares were nothing compared to the ones that came when his sleep deepened even further, the ones where they didn't get there in time, the ones where they didn't save Sam in time, the ones where he walked Sam's coffin to the grave and watched as it was lowered into the ground, or the ones where they didn't even find Sam at all.

These nightmares had him bolting up in his seat, screaming and grabbing for the Impala's handle, forcing John to brake hard and pull over sharply as Dean lunged from the car and dropped to his knees on the rough ground, gravel and stones cutting into his knees, the pain blocked out as he threw up. His Dad's hands offered him little comfort as they rubbed his back, Dean's thoughts focused as always on his baby brother. Even his Dad's words that he usually found comfort and reassurances in, did nothing for him, the memories of the dreams ran through his head, as the sight of Sam's bruised face burned into his retina's there for him to see whether his eyes were open or closed. Shrugging out of his Dad's arms as the rolling in his stomach eased, Dean stood on unsteady legs and made his way back inside the Impala eager to get on with the rest of the journey, his young mind old before it's years realizing that the sooner they got to Jim's the quicker his Dad could get out there looking for Sammy.

John was pleased that Dean settled down to sleep again not long after they had restarted the journey, exhaustion finally taking it's toll on his young son. As the black beast ate it's way through even more miles, John thought about the hunt that had started all of this, the hunt he had refused to partake in, the hunt that had caused all of this trouble, the hunt that had meant Sam had been taken. A call, out of the blue, from a hunter he had worked with years before, a hunter he had taken a dislike to, his cruel disposition making even John's hardened skin crawl. After hearing what the hunt was John had immediately turned him down, thinking little further of it, with hindsight though he should have known Evan would not have been happy. Never in his wildest dreams though did he believe that the guy would stoop so low, and take his son.

John wondered if he would be able to take up the hunt knowing that Sam's life was on the line? He knew though deep down that he had no choice; Sam meant more to him than any hunt and he would do anything to get his young son back; even hunt human children as young as he was, as special as he was.

A.N. . . . . . Hope that the start has lived up to your expectations, Jean? Next chapter up soon. As always thank you so much to everyone who has taken time out to read, catch you later, Peanut x