A/N Thanks to all of you who waited patiently for this next chapter! I thought I had a handle on things but obviously I was wrong, I apologize for this taking so long!
Jim made the rounds of the house before going to bed. Like most people he made sure windows were closed, doors securely locked and lights off. Unlike most people he had a canister of salt with him to reinforce the salt lines hidden in grooves over all the doors and windows. He took the business of securing the house much more seriously now that he had the Winchesters staying with him. Jim thought back over the last few days and couldn't help but feel that his 'guests' were becoming more like the family he and Isabelle had dreamed of having.
His Isabelle would have loved June, they were so much alike. The boys…oh how she would have loved having those two boys as part of her family! Not for the first time Jim felt a tiny pain of loss at the children and grandchildren he missed having with his wonderful wife.
These last few days had been a glimpse into what that kind of family life could have been like. June had taken to cooking meals and doing laundry, generally taking on the housekeeping routine any family would have. Dean had slowly been improving, venturing away from his aunt for longer periods of time, playing out in the garden with his little brother and talking more than Jim had ever heard. Sammy was the bundle of energy he had always been, worshiping his big brother and chattering constantly.
Jim found himself looking forward to returning home after his daily church business was completed. He relished the home cooking and thoroughly enjoyed having family time at the dinner table, everyone discussing their day and plans for the next. Today had been their first Sunday together and June had brought the boys to services at his church. Jim hadn't expected the feeling of pride and thankfulness he experienced when the young family showed up to support him.
They had returned home to a real home cooked Sunday dinner and spent the afternoon relaxing in the late summer sunshine. Jim working in his garden, explaining to June the many herbs and plants he grew for their medicinal and protective properties. Dean and Sammy had played nearby with the kittens, working tirelessly on trying to find the perfect name for each one.
Jim was so lost in thought, he nearly jumped out of his skin when there was a knock at the door. "Who on earth?" He mumbled to himself as he made his way to the front door, thinking most likely Bobby Singer had finally arrived.
Jim paused with his hand nearly on the doorknob, the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. He had been at the front window and had not noticed anyone pull in the driveway. He hadn't seen anyone come up the front steps. It was nearly 1:00 a.m., much too late for a random visitor and Bobby Singer normally let himself in the kitchen door, he had a key to Jim's house. His hunter instincts kicked into high gear and he stepped away from the door. Jim returned to his den, quickly pocketing his flask of holy water, a small journal and taking his handgun loaded with silver bullets from its hiding place in the false desk drawer and tucking it into his belt at the small of his back.
There was another, more insistent knock at the door. Jim turned on the outside light and peeked around the curtain, looking through the glass. A middle aged man wearing a trucker cap and vest stood on his porch. His face was dirty and bruised. He had one arm around the waist of an unconscious Bobby Singer with Bobby's other arm draped around the man's neck. Jim's first thought was concern for his friend, but he had been a hunter too long and knew that he needed to be careful, he didn't know this man and something felt 'off'.
"Yeah?" Jim said through the door.
"Bobby's hurt, he said you could help us." The mystery man replied.
Jim opened the door slightly, leaving the chain in place, "Who are you?" Jim calmly asked.
"M' names Carl. Singer was helping me on a hunt. Things went south. He said to get him here and you could help. Are you going to help or what?" It wasn't lost on the older hunter that 'Carl' didn't attempt to enter the house.
"What's the word?" Jim asked.
"Yes, the word. Bobby wouldn't tell you to come here without telling you our code word." Jim forced himself to breath evenly and maintain eye contact with the stranger on his porch.
Carl returned Jim's stare, a gradual grin spreading across his features. In the blink of an eye Carl released Bobby's arm held around his neck and pulled a sawed off shotgun from under his trucker vest. He pointed the gun at Bobby's drooping head. Carl's eyes were now coal black.
"I have some words for you, preacher man. How about you break that salt line and let me in before I blow your buddy away?"
Jim concentrated on his breathing, careful not to betray the fear that was spreading through him. Only because of his focus and years of experience was he able to notice the nearly imperceptible signal given him by Bobby. His friend wasn't as unconscious as he was pretending to be. Bobby obviously had no intention of letting some stinking demon blow his head off.
"You think you are the first low life demon to show up on my doorstep? Singer is a grown man, he got himself into this mess, and he can get himself out. There is nothing for you here."
"That's where you're wrong, preacher man. I was sent here on important business. Do you really think your little salt lines are going to keep me out?"
"They seem to be working pretty well so far. What is your important business?"
"Let's just say someone is interested in the welfare of your little houseguests."
Jim's blood ran cold but he kept his voice level. "So you're just a demon reporter, someone's low life messenger? You got the short end of the stick here pal. I've been sending shit faced demons like you back to hell for over 20 years."
The demon growled, "This is your last chance, let me in or Singer is history."
Bobby used the demon's frustration to his advantage and knocked the sawed off away from his head. Then, using the arm draped over the shoulder of the demon and his other hand he expertly twisted the demon's neck, breaking it with a sickening crack. Carl's body reflexes pulled the trigger of the sawed off, the gun went off blowing the top of the doorframe apart.
Amidst falling splinters of wood Bobby dove into the house. Jim was unable to close the door because of the blown apart frame. Bobby struggled to his feet and as he watched the demon possessing Carl manipulated the dead man's neck back into position. He turned to face the two hunters, his head not quite centered correctly on the body.
"Thanks guys, just the opening I was looking for." The demon smiled and attempted to walk through the door. Jim and Bobby both staggered back, wide-eyed. The demon stopped as though he had run into an invisible wall. Confused, he looked around and finally up to the porch ceiling. There, painted in pale yellow on the off white porch ceiling, was a perfect devil's trap.
Jim looked out at the frustrated demon. "You really didn't think I would put all my faith in salt lines, did you?"
The demon screamed and growled, threw himself around the circle of the devil's trap, trying to break free.
Bobby stood on his own shaking legs. He looked at Jim and smiled. "You aren't as rusty as you think you are, padre."
Jim took his Latin exorcism journal from his pocket. "Be that as it may, let's dispatch this demon before he wakes June."
"Oh…it is way too late for that." Both Bobby and Jim turned to see June standing on the bottom step.
"What on earth is going on here?"
Before either hunter could answer there was a gleeful cackle from the man on the front step. "My oh my, isn't this a pretty picture! You must be a Winchester, I can smell it from here. Learning the family business? Trying to pick up where your brother left off?" His tirade was cut off by a slash of holy water to his face. Steam rose from his skin and a howl rose from his throat as Jim started reading the exorcism. June was too stunned to speak. She looked to Bobby and realized he was dangerously pale and swaying on his feet, barely staying upright.
"Mr. Singer, you're hurt!" She helped the older man sit on the bottom landing. Jim continued to read.
"What is happening?" was all she could think to ask.
Bobby took June's hand and used what little strength he had to pull her next to him on the step. "That," he said pointing to the creature writhing in the doorway, flailing and contorting in ways no human could, "…is a demon. The man he is possessing was a hunter. An inexperienced hunter."
Just then Jim's voice rose with the end of the exorcism and the demon/man threw his head back and black smoke flew from his mouth and nose in a giant eruption. The smoke seemed to melt into the porch floorboards and the man crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap.
Jim placed his small journal and flask of holy water back in his sweater. He took his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow. Jim turned to his audience sitting on his stairway. Bobby looked like he was barely holding on, the adrenaline rush obviously having worn off. June was sitting with eyes as wide as saucers and her mouth hanging open, it would have been comical if it wasn't the sight of a lifeless body on his front porch holding her attention.
June's head was spinning, she really didn't have any idea what she had just witnessed. How could such a thing be possible? She looked up at Pastor Jim, a million question going through her mind, when suddenly she had only one thought.
Please review if you can – I would love to know what you think! It's a learning process here, I'm certainly not an experienced writer. Your thoughts and suggestions really are appreciated!