Summary: Battle lines are drawn when the touch of the Fae is felt in the town where the Winchesters have found refuge. The repercussions could change the family's path forever. Sam 18 Dean 22.
A/N 1: Over the months I spent researching Celtic lore and playing with this story, its working title was "The Battle of Evermore: Part 1". Alas, someone beat me to it with a title that was very similar. And so I have taken the first line of the Led Zeppelin song as the title instead. Original, huh? There is a wealth of lore in existence about the Fae in numerous cultures, a truly rich history of magical beings. I have sought to remain as true to the lore as I possibly could.
A/N 2: This story is not meant to condemn any of the Winchester men. I have tried to show what I believe the perceptions of the three men would be at this point in time, about each other and themselves. I may not agree with their perceptions, but I tried to be true to the characters. LOL In other words—please don't blast me if it sounds like I'm slamming a character.
Warning: Here there be cursing.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. The incredible fun of playing with them is the only profit I receive from the story.
Chapter 1 Battle Lines
His eyes fixed on the huge puffy clouds studding the deep blue over his head. Bright white, glowing, the cloud edges were sharply etched by the sun. He wanted to raise his hand, reach for them, feel the warmth of that sun on his skin. With each inch of water that filled the space above him the clouds blurred a little more, the details of each becoming wavy and indistinct. His long brown hair fanned out from his head, strands floating lazily in front of his eyes and then away as he began to drift slowly sideways, steadily downward.
The water was liquid silk trailing over his skin. Soft and welcoming. He knew he had to move his arms…but he was so tired. So tired of always struggling.
The screen door squealed a protest as he pushed through it, slamming shut with a satisfying bang behind him. It hit hard enough to bounce once before settling to rest against its worn wooden frame.
"Your ass is fixing that door if you just broke it, Sam!" Dean's voice followed him away from the cabin and Sam flipped his arm up, shooting his middle finger into the air. He knew Dean couldn't see him from his position at the ancient linoleum table in the kitchen, but it felt good anyway.
His muscles stretched into a quick sprint down the long dirt driveway, his arms pumping at his sides. John would give him hell if he saw him. Lecture him about warming up before pushing it. Like he didn't already know that after years of training and months on the track team. Like he was an idiot.
The hell with both of them. Dad and Dean. Dad bursts in and drops the bombshell that they're leaving for a hunt in a couple of hours and Dean just snaps out a quick 'yes sir'? Dean knew how important the date with Kristi was to Sam. Hell, he'd coached Sam through the jitters of asking her out. Now Sam was going to be ditching the date at the last minute. Yeah, like she'd ever talk to him again.
He pushed it aside. The missed date hurt, but it wasn't the cause of the pain in his belly.
Sam was eighteen years old. He had a right to some information about the hunt.
Something clenched hot and tight in Sam's chest. The way John had talked to him…the way his dad had looked at him… There were times Sam wondered if John actually hated him. Dean would have to be deaf and blind not to have noticed. But Dean just sat there, no expression, his attention never wavering from the gun he was cleaning while Sam and John battled it out not five feet away. Dean could have backed him up when he started asking questions, suggesting they delay by just one day so Sam could do some research. But there hadn't even been a twitch of the eyebrow to show Sam any support.
Puffs of dust flew up from under his running shoes as his feet beat out a quick rhythm on the dirt shoulder of the road. The expanse of black pavement had sucked in the sun's energy for hours, and was radiating it out at him in waves of heat. He rubbed his forearm across his eyes, wiping away the moisture that was blurring his vision. His eyes followed the line of utility poles standing sentinel next to the blacktop, stretching into the distance. The road was too open. He felt raw…exposed.
His breath hitched in his chest and his throat felt thick as he veered to the right and onto a well used path through the trees. It hurt. It hurt to think of the way Dean had acted after Dad's truck had peeled away…that disgusted shake of the head…like it was all Sam's fault. He shouldn't be surprised, he knew where Dean's loyalties lay.
It was cooler in the green tinged shade, but the humidity was so thick it made the air feel like it had substance, a soft touch slipping over his skin as he ran. It wasn't even officially summer yet. Too early for this type of heat in the northern California coastal range. The unseasonable heat wave had been locked over the area for the past two weeks, sapping the energy of all the kids in the high school during the last weeks of classes and making his final track meet an exercise in endurance.
He shook his head, sending drops of sweat flying off of the ends of his long hair. The physical strain was working, his anger losing to the burn in his muscles. Hell, he should probably be glad that his dad felt up to hunting again. When he had first been injured it had been scary. John Winchester was supposed to be indestructible. After the first month, when the badly broken leg was the only lingering after effect and they had moved to the cabin…well at first they were just so grateful to have each other that a rare peace had reigned between the three of them. It had been nice while it lasted. The little while it had lasted.
A deer broke through the edge of the trees ahead of him, startling a smile out of him. It leapt gracefully across the width of the path with its front legs tucked up against its chest before disappearing through the screen of trees on the right. Sam slowed as he neared the spot where the deer had landed. There was a break in the dense underbrush that he'd never noticed before. On a sudden impulse he veered to the right, pushing through a layer of brush to follow the deer down a hidden path.
The new trail was narrower and darker than the first, the canopy overhead thicker. Green tendrils extending from overgrown bushes were still swaying from the deer's passing. The path itself was dark springy earth, a soft cushion under his pounding feet.
Almost immediately a thorny vine snagged at the side of his sleeveless shirt, putting a small hole in the soft cotton as he pulled free. Barely three paces later a second thorn whipped across his arm, leaving a thin line of blood traced across his bicep. When a matching mark was scratched across his calf he started debating a return to the main path. His foot caught on a root that seemed to have come from nowhere and he stumbled briefly before smoothly regaining his balance. He'd have to make sure not to tell his dad about the trail. John Winchester would probably consider a sprint down it a good training exercise. Something to toughen Sam up.
John would probably expect him to whine down the length of it.
Sam set his jaw and stubbornly stuck with the path, picking up speed and ignoring the sting of thorns that seemed to fill the dense greenery on either side. He stumbled again, this time managing to hit his toe painfully against a raised root. Yeah, his dad would just love this trail. Sam kept going, his mouth a straight line.
Something small bounced off of the top of his head with enough force to make his eyes water and he ducked his head and swerved to the side, training taking him out of reach of a second falling acorn. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!" He rubbed the top of his head with a quick glare up at the squirrels chattering in the branches above him. If he didn't know better he'd swear they were laughing at him. "I'm not turning around!" he yelled up at them. He couldn't help the wide grin that split his face when he realized he was losing his temper with a small furry animal. Bushy tailed rats according to Dean.
Perseverance began to pay off as he got deeper into the stretch of unexplored woods. The sides of the path were still narrow but the thorny vines retreated until only soft leaves were brushing against his arms as he ran, the fronds of lush ferns caressing his legs. The scent of wildflowers drifted through the air around him as shrubs with masses of snowy white flowers began to dot the woods.
He zoned into that place that was the heart of his love for running. The place where he let it all go and opened himself to the feel of his muscles working smoothly, the air against his skin, the sound of the birds and two chipmunks arguing. His mind roamed free and he drank in the forest around him. From his right the sound of a small stream began to gain strength as his path veered closer to it, liquid notes like chimes filling the air.
The path widened and the overgrowth of brush around him thinned until he was moving through a forest of old, where the trees were widely spaced and you could see swaths of the forest floor. This part of the forest was cool and shaded and a lush green. Soft beams of sunlight broke through occasional openings in the canopy, shafts of light that made everything they touched glow. Magical.
Such a beautiful boy.
Sam's pace faltered, a hitch in his step as his head shot up. He'd been zoning out alright, losing himself so completely in his own musings that he wasn't sure if he'd heard the soft murmur or imagined it. The woods were green and peaceful around him, nothing out of place. He was coming closer to the stream, the sound of water over rocks a constant background symphony. Birds called to each other, long complicated pieces that had probably been turned into musical whispers by a wandering mind.
Sam slowed and stopped in the center of a round clearing next to the small stream, struck by the peaceful beauty of the setting. He leaned over with his hands braced on his thighs, breathing in the glade's fresh, earthy, scent. There was a mix of trees ringing the clearing, the most prominent a collection of stately oaks interspersed with ash trees and a solitary old hawthorn. The boulders lining the edge of the stream were covered by moss, making their surfaces look soft. Filtered sunlight touched the ground, encouraging the growth of soft grass and vining wildflowers that mixed with the spongy moss under his feet. The tranquility of the setting pulled at him, tempting him to sink down against one of the boulders and enjoy the liquid notes of the stream and the rustling of the leaves.
He gave the spot one last regretful look and then began to retrace his steps. His dad could make the next couple of days even more miserable if Sam wasn't ready to go before John got back to the cabin. The calm that had settled into him in the clearing lingered, and his steps were lighter on the return trip. He barely noticed that the thorny vines near the start of the path had lost their bite.
He completely missed the tinkling laughter that filled the clearing after he left, and the soft whisper that seemed like a sigh emanating from the earth and trees.
Such a beautiful boy.
The heavy duffel landed at Dean's feet with a solid thump as he leaned against the doorframe, his shoulders slumping. Sam's duffel, packed and ready to go. Now the kid should have enough time to take a shower after his run without incurring the wrath of John Winchester. He'd already checked to make sure Sammy's temper tantrum hadn't widened the small cracks fissuring the aged wood of the door frame. When they first moved in John's injuries had kept him confined to the cabin. He had worked out his frustrated energy by obsessively rehabbing the rundown structure. Pure grit and a lot of sweat had knocked the cabin into good shape. If Sam had managed to damage it… That was all he needed—for Dad to have another reason to tear a strip off of Sam.
He began to gnaw on the inside of his cheek, willing Sam's tall form to appear on the long dirt driveway. The packed duffle would mean shit if Sam wasn't ready when Dad's truck roared up to the cabin. He'd give him five more minutes. After that he was taking the Impala out to look for the teenager. Anything to avoid sitting through the next round of the John and Sammy heavy weight championship bout. The most painful spectator sport known to man.
A small sigh was the only sign of his relief when a tall figure came into sight, moving gracefully around the trees that marked the intersection of the driveway and the wide dirt road. Dean smiled slightly at the sight and shook his head. The kid didn't look like a kid anymore. Dean's old outgrown AC/DC T shirt had been huge on Sam when Dean had first given it to him a couple of years ago. God, the kid had treated the casually tossed over hand-me-down like it was gold. He'd pulled it over his head with a carefully staged air of indifference, because really, what sixteen year old is going to admit he's thrilled when his big brother gives him a used T shirt? But Dean saw the quickly covered smile. Not to mention the kid practically lived in the shirt for a while.
The sleeves were long gone now, baring the muscled length of Sam's arms, and the remainder of the shirt was beginning to stretch tight across the muscles of Sam's chest. The months spent in one place had been good for his little brother. Dad might think it was the strict training regimen that finally had Sam blooming, but Dean knew better. It was the friends he had made in the laid back mountain town. They'd pulled Sam onto the track team, pulled him out of his books and into the gym. They'd gotten him past the awkwardness that came with going through a growth spurt that didn't know when to quit.
Dean was just so freakin proud of the confidence that seemed to ooze from his brother now. The time they spent training together lately was actually fun. Sparring no longer felt like Dean was being forced to beat down a helpless kid. The flip side was that Dad saw the improvement as a sign that Sam was ready for more. More brutal training, more hunting, more weight on his shoulders. Of course that went over real well with the pigheaded eighteen year-old. Sam didn't get that Dad was just trying to protect him. Trying to get him ready for the dangers they faced.
Dean did what he could to be a buffer between the two of them, but sometimes it felt like someone had greased up the balance beam he was perched on top of. No matter which side he landed on, it was gonna hurt.
He backed away from the door before Sam caught him keeping watch. His own duffel was still sitting on his bed empty and waiting, and he hadn't packed the gear they needed for the gig yet. He couldn't help the little thrill that went through him when he thought of Dad trusting him to take care of the gear. Sure, John would double check everything, but that just came from being careful.
"DEAN!" Sam's flying tackle caught him around the waist and he hit the ground on his back, his brother's solid weight knocking the air out of his lungs. The rock…check that, it was more like a small boulder…that had been on a direct course with Dean's head sailed over them, hitting the small tree behind them with enough force to split the thin trunk.
Sam rolled to the side and Dean raised his arm, pointing the sawed off shotgun at the center of the churning mist. The consecrated iron in the pellets should at least slow the spirit down. There was a shriek of anger as the shot tore through the mist, and it dispersed in swirls of white. It was just going to be a temporary reprieve, though. Cold wind still whipped around the old family plot, a small cyclone centered on them.
"Dad? What's going on?" Dean climbed to his feet and reached down to haul Sammy up next to him. The brothers stood ready, their heads swiveling as they tried to anticipate the next attack.
John stood next to the open grave, the glow of the flames illuminating the confusion on his face. "I don't know, Dean! We must have missed something!"
Dean winced at the incredulous look that Sam shot in his father's direction and silently willed his little brother to keep his big mouth shut. Now was so not the time. He jumped in when he saw Sam's eyes narrow and his mouth start to open, beating Sam to the punch. "Maybe we should get the hell out of here until we figure it out?"
John nodded in agreement and Dean caught his brother's eye roll in the dim light. A small twinge of guilt twisted in his gut. Sam was right. The same comment coming from him would have drawn a sharp rebuke from their dad.
The three of them moved quickly, grabbing the supplies they had dropped onto the ground and then running towards the gate in the six foot tall wrought iron fence that separated the Forbes family plot from the remainder of the large cemetery. Dean turned to pull the heavy gate shut after his brother passed through. The beam of his flashlight swept over the grass and he spotted the object on the ground at the same time as Sam. His mouth dropped open and he looked at his brother in disbelief.
"Oh crap," Sam said softly.
"Your wallet?!" The small square of brown leather was sitting on the ground next to the spot where Sam had tackled Dean. Next to the 'desecrated' and burning grave that they'd been forced to abandon. In the middle of all the destruction caused by the pissed off ghost.
Sam darted back into the family plot, ignoring his father's angry shout. He scooped the wallet up and spun on his heel, heading back toward the iron boundary that would effectively contain the spirit. Dean saw the mist forming and swung the shotgun up, cursing violently when he realized Sam was blocking his shot.
Under other circumstances the look of surprise on Sam's face when he suddenly went airborne would have been comical. Under the present circumstances Dean was a lot closer to panic than laughter. It was like the spirit just picked Sam up in an invisible hand and flung him. He didn't fly very far. His back hit the iron fence with a solid thump and he slid to the ground with a soft groan.
"SAM!" The only reason that Dean made it through the gate before his charging father was that Dean was already standing in the opening. And still it was close. John was forced to skid to a stop so that one of them would still be on safer ground as a backup. One glimpse at his dad's terrified face brought home to Dean just how tough it was for John to think rationally when his younger son might be hurt.
Dean unloaded the second barrel of the shotgun into the slowly coalescing entity and ran to kneel at his brother's side. Sam's face was twisted in pain but he was conscious and already trying to push himself to his feet. Dean reached out a hand to steady him, his eyes running over Sam's body. No blood that he could see, and the kid didn't seem to be favoring or protecting anything—so hopefully no broken bones. "Can you get up?"
"Yeah…yeah…just give me a hand."
"Dean? Is he okay?"
Dean looked over his shoulder to where his dad was still standing by the gate. Christ. The man looked like a ghost himself he was so pale. "I think so." He turned back to Sam and grasped his forearm, pulling Sam smoothly up with him as he pushed himself to his feet. Leaves and loose debris continued to swirl around the small plot. The second shotgun blast had been no more effective than the first. It might have slowed the spirit down, but it sure as hell hadn't stopped it.
"Get the hell out of there. Now, boys." John's voice was a low growl. The voice he used when he was trying to control his temper. A quick glance confirmed that his dad had managed one of his lightning quick mood changes, barreling right through relief and out the other side. John's mouth was set in a straight, tight line, no trace of the earlier fear left in his expression. Sam tensed under Dean's hand as soon as he heard his father's tone and Dean gave his arm a reassuring squeeze as they moved towards the gate.
The hair on the back of Dean's neck began to prickle. Sam must have felt it also, because the hesitant shuffle of his first couple of steps was replaced by a long legged trot. Sam's arm turned in his grasp until his little brother had their positions reversed. Now Sam had a grip on him and was pulling him towards the relative safety of the gate.
Both brothers immediately dropped, their father's command saving Dean's head from meeting the same fate as the small tree that had taken the brunt of the attack the last time the spirit had thrown the large rock. A blinding pain slammed into the side of Dean's head as a second, smaller, rock struck a glancing blow. The world went white for a second and his controlled drop turned into a boneless thud to the ground.
"Shit! Dean! Are you okay, man?" Sam's voice sounded young and scared and he could feel one of those large hands on the side of his head, tentatively touching the area around what felt like it should be a meteor sized crater. "Not too bad," his brother murmured. Yeah, you probably wouldn't say that if it was your head.
There was a sharp blast as their dad fired his own shotgun over their prone forms and then his brother's large hands were under him, lifting him to his feet. He fought to stay in the here and now when the world took a massive swoop around him. "C'mon, Dean, we gotta go before the cops get here."
Dean wanted to tell his brother he doubted anyone was close enough to the remote graveyard to have heard the shotguns, but he decided the energy that would have taken was better spent getting his legs to move under him. He was grateful that Sam's arm wrapped around his waist was doing most of the work.
By the time they moved through the gate and it was shut solidly behind them the earth seemed to have settled back into its rightful position and his eyes had decided focusing wasn't really such a bad thing. His legs were still a little wobbly though, so he didn't shrug off the second arm that was working its way around his back. He was tugged solidly against his father's warm bulk and Sam's arm reluctantly fell away. Dean looked up at Sam, ready to make some type of smart ass remark but the words turned to ash at the look on his brother's face. He looked flat out miserable. Guilty, scared, and hurting.
"Get our stuff, Sam." His dad's voice was cold, promising worse to come. "Make sure you get everything."
Dean sighed. He wanted to tell his dad to lighten up, to make a joke that would ease some of the pain on his brother's face. But his head hurt and he just didn't have the energy to play peacemaker. And he really didn't want John's anger redirected at him. Truth was, he wasn't sure he would be walking without his father's comforting strength against him at the moment.
He leaned more heavily against John and the scowl on his dad's face melted as he turned to meet Dean's eyes. "We're going to have to buy you a helmet, boy," he said with a small grin as they moved steadily towards where they had left the Impala hidden.
Behind them Sam worked wordlessly, gathering the equipment the three of them had carried in together.
John flicked the small penlight over Dean's eyes and nodded in satisfaction. "Double vision? Nausea? Pain?"
"No…no…and about what you'd expect if an elephant stepped on your head."
John flattened his mouth and looked down at Dean with one eyebrow raised.
"No more pain than you'd expect, sir," Dean sighed. He waited until John was occupied with examining the goose-egg on the side of his head before looking at Sam and rolling his eyes at his father's humorless reaction.
Sam couldn't bring himself to smile. Not when his brother's injury was his fault. He dropped his gaze to the worn hotel room carpet and shifted in his spot leaning against the wall, catching himself before his face could twist into a wince when the move put pressure on the bruise across his shoulder blades. He was pretty sure there was an impressive collection of bruises springing to life on his back courtesy of the wrought iron fence.
He thought back over the simple salt and burn that had turned into a huge cluster hump and a hard nugget of anger began to form behind his breast bone. Yeah, he'd screwed up. But before that, why didn't the salt and burn work? Maybe a little research would have been a good idea?
"It's just a scrape. Hit the shower and I'll put some ointment on it after you get it cleaned off." John's voice was gruff, but Sam could hear the concern laced through the words. "And Dean, don't be a macho idiot. If you start getting dizzy you sit down and call me. You don't mess around with head injuries. Sam, let me take a look—"
John's voice cut off and Sam looked up, startled. Apparently he hadn't been guarding his expression very well. Dean was looking at him, slowly shaking his head. His brother's eyes slid sideways and he blinked a couple of times before his features slid into a blank mask. Dad looked…resigned. John brought one of his hands up and rubbed it over his face. By the time it dropped back to his side his eyes had narrowed and his jaw was tight.
"Dean. Shower. Now." The words were bitten out in a low voice and Dean stood without looking at either one of them. He made quick work of grabbing a couple of things out of his duffel before slipping into the bathroom and shutting the door behind him. Sam's eyes remained locked with his father's. The tense silence continued until the sound of the shower came through the flimsy door.
"You got something to say, boy? Spit it out." John's voice almost sounded tired.
Sam pushed his weight off of the wall and stood straight, facing his father. "What happened back there, sir? Why didn't the salt and burn work?" John's shoulders slumped and Sam knew he'd made his point. John didn't know what had gone wrong. They had walked into that graveyard without all the information they needed, and it had bit them on the ass.
The smart thing would have been to shut up at that point, but their earlier argument still rankled. "You only gave Dean and I the bare details. When I asked where you got the information you nearly took my head off! Looks like your 'reliable' source left something out, huh? Maybe you should have listened when I asked why we couldn't drive up in the morning…give me a chance to check out local libraries before the hunt!"
John's shoulders straightened and a tinge of red crept into his face. Sam knew better than to think it was embarrassment. "It's none of your business, but my 'reliable' source was Caleb, son! You think I'm going to get information about a hunt from someone I don't trust? You think your judgment on this is better than mine? Just who the hell do you think you are, questioning my decision about something like that?" The last came out as a quiet roar and John took a step closer.
Sam stood his ground. "A little research, dad! That's all I asked for! The chance to do a little research! But you shot me down like some know nothing kid, and now…" He waved his hand at the closed bathroom door.
"I treated you like a kid because you were acting like a kid! Like a spoiled brat who doesn't know what's important!" John continued to advance, his head jutting forward. "You think I don't know the real reason you wanted to drive up in the morning? Research had nothing to do with it! You wanted to go out and play with your friends! Didn't matter if people were getting hurt, Sammy had more important things to do!" He was in Sam's space now. One more step and they would be chest to chest, screaming into each other's faces.
Loud bangs on the wall in back of the beds shook the grimy framed prints hanging above the headboards, a sudden reminder that it was close to three in the morning and they had neighbors on the other side of the thin wall. They weren't in the living room of their isolated cabin. John took a step backwards, his chest heaving with a deep, frustrated breath. His voice was cold when he continued, going in for the kill.
"You forgetting something, Sam? Your brother didn't get hurt because something was screwed up with the hunt. We were out. We were okay. It doesn't matter how quick you scramble trying to push the blame onto someone else, we both know it was your carelessness, your god damned inability to follow simple orders, that got your brother hurt."
The fight drained out of Sam, chased away by a flood of guilt. His dad was right. He had screwed up, and Dean could have died as a result. The thought flooded him with ice water and he was suddenly fighting not to throw up, his legs wobbly under him.
John pointed at his left hip. "Hand it over."
Sam pulled out the light tan billfold in his left hip pocket and handed it to his father. The slim vinyl wallet held a remarkably realistic set of fake IDs. Enough to cover his butt if a police officer were to catch them in a compromising situation and demand identification. John glanced at its contents and gave a soft grunt. "I guess I should be glad that you at least had this one with you." He stared at Sam's right hip and Sam reluctantly reached around to pull his real wallet out of his back pocket. The brown leather that contained his real driver's license, his real school ID. The wallet that was never supposed to be in his pocket during a hunt. The wallet that had fallen to the ground when he tackled Dean.
He had no defense. He hadn't been able to reach Kristi to cancel their date and had copied down the number of the place where she worked and stuffed the paper into his wallet at the last minute. He had managed to reach her, sneaking into the men's room when they stopped for a quick sandwich, but he'd forgotten to take the wallet back out of his pocket when they left. Too distracted by his anger with John.
"We have rules for a reason, boy. Try to make it my fault all you want, but I didn't put this wallet into your pocket. I wasn't the one who got into trouble and needed Dean to save their ass. I wasn't the one who pulled Dean back into a dangerous position and got him hurt."
If he'd heard one trace of warmth, one trace of understanding, in his father's voice, Sam might have looked up to see the fear written across the older man's features. But he kept his eyes on the ground and only heard the cold words.
"You, or your brother, could have been killed tonight Sam. Because you were careless."
John lifted the scratched glass tumbler and took a small sip of the amber liquid inside. It burned a trail down his throat and hit his stomach with satisfying warmth. Just sips, he wanted it to last. He was only allowing himself the one glass. He needed something to still the tremor that had begun to run through his hands as soon as both boys had stilled into sleep.
He eased himself back on the hotel's spindly wooden chair, trying to ease the dull ache in his recently healed leg. He winced when the chair creaked under him and held his breath, his eyes skimming over the boys on the other side of the darkened hotel room. They gave no sign of stirring and he released a soft sigh. He needed some time to himself.
Both boys. He could have lost both boys that night. There was a distinct shake to the glass when he lifted it to his lips again.
Sam…damn it to hell, Sam was right. Caleb was the best he knew at research. Well, except for Sam. When Caleb gave you information you could bet your life on it. Caleb had caught wind of the incidents in the graveyard and dug out the background information to send to John, the closest hunter.
John swirled the liquid in the glass, mesmerized by the way it caught the light coming through the crack of the mostly closed bathroom door. It wasn't Caleb's fault that everything went to hell. The man had told him that the information was a little outdated and should be followed up with more current research. But it had seemed so straightforward, and then Sam had pushed it…
When he'd told the boys about it and Sam had immediately started with his attitude, it had just pushed all of his buttons. It was never easy with Sam. Everything had to be a goddamn argument and sometimes his son got him so angry he just couldn't think straight. He'd lost his temper and let Sam back him into a corner. If he'd agreed to the day delay for research Sam would have seen it as a victory…and John would be that much further away from breaking Sam of his tendency to argue with…to damn well ignore…orders. A tendency that could get him or his brother killed. It almost had in the cemetery.
He just didn't know what he was going to do with the boy. He just didn't get him. But maybe he'd learned his lesson tonight. Sam'd looked devastated over his part in Dean's injury, and John had let him. Comforting the boy would have diluted the lesson.
John brought the glass to his mouth and took a greedy gulp before dropping it back onto the table and running his hand over his face. Because God help him, what kind of father was he when making sure his son learned a lesson became the goal at any cost? When Sam had looked so broken tonight a small part of him had thought back to all the times the boy had defied him and felt a small tinge of satisfaction at his pain.
What kind of monster was he?
A/N: If you've read any of my other stories you know that music is the source of many of my plot bunnies. This story came in equal parts from Battle of Evermore and two Linkin Park songs: Numb and Breaking the Habit. Listen to the words if you get a chance. Boy do they scream 'Winchesters' at me!
And of course a healthy dose of Loreena McKennitt while writing for a touch of magic.