Faltered: Chapter 15

He had made a point of walking by the stable on his way back to the Gunsmith shop Monday morning hoping to see her but the filly was nowhere to be seen. His heart sank. He was certain she was gone.

The school bell ringing across town did nothing to improve his mood.

He found Bobby at the workbench looking very much like he'd been there all night.

"Morning." Dean spoke as he closed the door to the shop.

Bobby grunted something unintelligible and didn't take his eyes from the apparently delicate task he was performing.

"Get me that oil can will you boy." Bobby held his hand out and Dean quickly found the can.

Bobby like a doctor administering over a wounded patience gently oiled the inner workings of the gun. Finally he set the can down and sat back with a sigh. Dean stood just behind him looking over his shoulder at the fine piece of machinery with the pearl grip.

"Complicated things these custom jobs, wouldn't use one myself especially when I don't know the maker. Who knows what could go wrong, but I'll clean one, sure, makes life interesting. Impressive isn't she?" Bobby held the gun up to the light and looked back to Dean whose eyes were fixed on the gun.

"Good Lord boy what did ya get in a fight with an angry bear?" Bobby exclaimed as he took in the swollen side of Dean's mouth and the bruise that discolored his chin. Dean jumped at Bobby's exclamation then winced as he hurt his split lip.

"Lose any teeth?" Bobby inquired as he put the gun back down.

"No." Dean shook his head.

"Well that's good, so how's the other guy look?" Bobby patted the boy on the shoulder, as he got up from his stool.

"Guys." Dean's eyebrow hitched.

"What? No. How many?" Bobby looked at the kid.

"Three. Gordan and two Bender boys." Bobby looked back at Dean a little startled. "Yeah I heard about that, Old man Bender came in here yesterday talking about his boys getting roughed up." Bobby squinted at the boy. "Don't go making this a habit it's not good for business."

Dean nodded and a slight smile tugged at his damaged lips.

Dean was out in back of the shop cleaning gun barrels with hot water when he heard the front door to the shop open. Dean quickly put aside what he was doing, wiped his smudged hands off as best he could and went to see who had come.

Bobby and two men Dean didn't recognize were in the shop talking over a very large very old looking book when Dean walked in the back door.

Everything stopped abruptly and awkwardly when they heard Dean. Bobby quickly closed the book and the two strangers looked hard at the new arrival who looked as surprised at seeing them as they were at seeing him.

"Fellas this is my new apprentice." Bobby told them and the strangers relaxed a bit. "Get in here boy and shut that door." Bobby ordered and Dean did as he was told.

"Dean this is Caleb and Ericson." Dean didn't move from the back of the shop as he eyed the roughneck cowboys, he was always wary of strangers.

"How's old Bobby here treating you kid?" Caleb slapped Bobby on the back and the two strangers laughed loudly.

Dean didn't react to the man's question. The shinny Pearl grip handle of the gun at Ericson's hip, had caught his eye, it was the fancy one that Bobby had been working on that morning.

The mood in the room quickly changed again. "What r you looking at kid?" The cowboy demanded and pulled his coat around him so the gun was no longer visible. Dean blinked and then looked down at the floor embarrassed.

"Dean go on upstairs and but some coffee on." Bobby said giving Dean an excuse to escape the present company. The strangers watched Dean limp up the stairs and out of sight.

"Bobby that boy sure doesn't look like much." Ericson scoffed.

"No sir, Bobby he looks pretty wet behind the ears. What's he doing as your apprentice? Wouldn't he be better suited to cooking or do the wash?" Caleb snickered.

"Well I tell ya, you can ask him that yourself after he puts a bullet between your eyes at a hundred paces before you get your gun out of its holster." Bobby squinted his eyes at the other man.

Ericson gave a low whistle. "Really? That good?"

"I never would have quest it." Caleb said wide eyed.

"He might be a better shot but I'm pretty sure I could out run the kid." The cowboys were having a good laugh at Dean's expense.

Bobby shook his head and both men shut up. They didn't want to make Bobby mad. "Fellas that there is John Winchester's son."

"I didn't think John had any children." Caleb said surprised. When he met John he had never struck him as a family man.

"That means…is he trained?" Ericson asked. It was a good question one that Bobby had been wondering himself.

"That kid's a hunter?" Caleb was finding it hard to believe.

"I don't rightly know. I haven't had the right time to bring it up, kids only been here a week. No doubt John taught him how to shoot. The question is what did he teach the boy to shoot at." Most young men learned to shoot eventually. They needed to know how to feed their families.

"You gonna train him to hunt Bobby?" Ericson ribbed the gunsmith.

"I not gonna be the person who tells him what goes bump in the night. If he doesn't know then I'm gonna leave it at that." Bobby really didn't want that weight on his shoulders. He also didn't want John Winchester's wrath.

"But if he does, if John told him…" Both the cowboys looked expectantly at Bobby.

"Well if that's the case then, yeah…" Bobby hesitated. He hated pulling anyone into the life but if the boy already knew about it. Well he wouldn't want the kid getting hurt because he didn't have the right training. "Yeah I'd train him, no sense in not."

Bobby and the men clomped loudly up the stairs.

The coffee hissed on the small wood stove as they took seats around the table and Bobby grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil. Dean stood off to the side and watched. "So I've got your shot guns downstairs and I'll make the modifications. I can make the rounds you want but I'm gonna need more salt. I can also put together some sage bags for you but I'll need to get twine and burlap." Bobby started writing a list SALT, TWINE, BURLAP.

"Anything else you can like of?"He asked as Dean stood off to the side getting cups for the coffee down from the cabinet.

"We need a big box of matches and a thing of lamp oil." Caleb looked over at Dean to see if the boy gave any indication of knowing what they were talking about. He didn't seem too. Bobby wrote MATCHES, LAMP OIL.

Dean who had stayed over by the stove was listening to the list the men were making.

"And some iron slugs. Will the blacksmith make them?" Ericson asked.

"Yeah, he doesn't ask too many questions." Bobby added IRON SLUGS to the paper and handed the list to his apprentice.

Dean took it and looked back at the men.

Dean's look said it all.

He knew.