Author: Tara aka LovinJackson
Summary: BrotherhoodAU. Caleb's trust in a new hunter causes deadly consequences for John. Will Caleb overcome his new handicap and guilt before its too late for his mentor?
Disclaimer: Kripke owns Supernatural and Ridley C. James owns the Brotherhood. No Copyright Infringement Intended.
A/N1: This story has been a long time coming. Requested by my mother (who wanted a Brotherhood story involving John and Caleb with plenty of hurt for John) I have worked and stressed and come to an agreement with my muse that seems to have worked for both of us. I dont know whether this is any good but I am damn well determined to get this story up and out there and am already writing the second chapter as we speak. Thanks to my Mum and Angelustatt and Ridley C. James who all did their part, reading through this, at some stage in helping me get this chapter finished and thanks to Fredo and cdewinter78 for keeping me motivated even when it looked like I was getting nothing done. If you're going to come along for the ride? I hope you enjoy and thanks in advance for taking the time :) Now onto the story ...
Chapter 1. Gut Instincts are Rarely Wrong
The kitchen was quiet enough to make Caleb suspicious. He let his gaze wonder the immediate area carefully, his experience and hunting skills on high alert for the danger in the midst of a place he considered home.
There was no movement coming from the living room either, human or canine. The entire house was quiet. Too quiet.
Caleb blinked, his eyes adjusting to the light shining through the kitchen window and onto the yellow walls. The room thrummed with an inviting sense of contentment - family. Caleb assumed that was what Pastor Jim had been going for when he had painted the kitchen the bright and inviting colour but right now Caleb was dealing with the stark contrast from The Hunters Tomb where he had spent the better part of the afternoon. He didn't want to be lulled into a false sense of security. The last few days had taught him to stay on guard at all times and it was all Bobby's fault.
What the man was thinking when he gave Sam the idea that magic was a good idea Caleb would never know. It was Sam's interesting new hobby that had kept the psychic sequestered in the tomb doing research.
He had just made it across the linoleum, his growling stomach drawing him to the refrigerator when the banging of the scream door nearly had him dropping the pitcher of Jim's homemade lemonade. "Damn it, Deuce."
The seventeen year old grinned. "Jumpy in your old age, Damien?"
Caleb grabbed the lemonade, stacking ham, cheese and mustard on top of the pitcher before heading to the table.
"You're making lunch?" Dean moved forward. "Where's Jim?"
"Obviously Merlin is smart enough to make himself scarce. Thanks to the Runt 'the Magnificent', we are on our own to forage."
Caleb had legitimate reasons for hiding out but there was only so long he could stay down in the Hunter's Tomb alone. He needed human interaction eventually, but he wasn't desperate enough to play caterer. "I'm making my lunch. If you're hungry you can do the same."
Dean made his way to the cabinet, grabbing two glasses and some plates. "It's good to see all that time alone hasn't hurt your generous nature."
"What are you complaining about? I said I'd share." Caleb spoke while beginning to build his masterpiece of ham and swiss.
Caleb filled his glass and left the pitcher on the table instead of getting up to put it away. "Speaking of my busy morning, where have you been?"
Dean took the bread and started his own creation. "I wasn't hiding."
"I'm surprised you've come up for air. Get tired of hiding?"
Caleb glared. "I wasn't hiding," he replied, mimicking Dean's words from only moments before.
"What do you call it?"
"Research … Johnny's being his usual stubborn self since last night. I'm doing what I can so he doesn't burst a blood vessel when I go."
"You're still going?" The frown on Dean's face indicated he didn't think much of the decision and Caleb wasn't too surprised. If John was worried about something then more often than not it wasn't without reason and there weren't many people that Dean trusted like he did his old man … especially when it came to hunting.
Caleb shrugged, taking another bite of his sandwich. He looked down at the other one and with a moment of deciding whether he really wanted the second one or not, Caleb pushed the plate towards his friend who took it without question.
"I'm still going regardless," Caleb finally answered once his mouthful had been swallowed. It wasn't a big deal.
"It's just a matter of whether it's solo or with a tagalong," Caleb interrupted. "I'm kinda hoping for the former but we'll see."
"You're not supposed to hunt alone for a reason, you know," Dean said, looking at him pointedly. It wasn't something that he didn't know and it wasn't something that he didn't agree with either. He understood exactly why that rule was more often than not enforced but it didn't change the fact that John was overreacting to the whole situation. Caleb didn't want to point out that it was a rule that John didn't always follow himself.
Caleb turned in his seat as he popped the last bit of sandwich in his mouth. "This isn't exactly a hunt … yet," he said, his mouth full.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Semantics … and disgusting."
Caleb swallowed quickly and then smiled. Resting his elbows on the table, Caleb clasped his hands in front of him, catching sight of his watch on his left wrist. It was well after two in the afternoon. It was no wonder why his stomach hadn't stood for any more hiding and forced him to find food regardless of the dangers awaiting him. "Where the hell is John anyway?"
"Giving your jeep a once over. That was the last I heard," Dean supplied, finishing off Caleb's other sandwich. He dusted his hands of bread crumbs over the small plate.
"Hiding too, huh?"
"Maybe the Runt should be this annoying all the time. My jeep would be in pristine condition," Caleb quipped. The jeep got him from place to place good enough but he didn't deny that her upkeep wasn't big on his list of priorities. Besides, having two mechanics in the family should negate his own needs to tend to the jeep.
"It wouldn't be such a big job if you actually maintained it better," Dean admonished and what could he really say to that? Not a lot but he still stood by his idea that having mechanics in the family came with perks … or at least it should.
The screen door once again alerted Caleb to the fact that someone had entered the house. The tenseness was back and then doubled some with Dean also in the room hovering between sitting and standing, an excuse of how he was incredibly busy already on his lips. It would have been almost amusing if Caleb hadn't felt the same. They all loved Sam. Really, they did … they could just love him a lot more pain free without the twenty four seven magic show.
John Winchester walked into the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dirty, greased stained rag. His face was covered in specks of dirt with one single strip of grease down his left cheek. He looked the epitome of your stereotypical mechanic and Caleb suddenly wondered whether John missed it, but wasn't willing to ask.
Two steps behind the Knight was the youngest Winchester, newly thirteen and newly caped … thanks to Bobby. He was going to get that bastard back. The least the older man could have done was stick around for the torture. Gripped tightly in Sam's hand was a black velvet bag, no doubt filled with whatever evils that had come in Bobby's monster magic kit. Oh Joy.
"Hey, Runt. What's up?" Caleb asked cautiously, ruffling the kid's hair as he walked past to sit down on his brother's right.
"Nothin'" Sam replied glumly, plonking down in the chair looking tired ... or bored. The more he looked at the kid he actually felt a little guilty for hiding out the way he had … maybe a little.
"What are you two up to?" John asked good naturedly, grabbing a glass from the cupboard above the bench near the refrigerator. "And put the damn drinks back when you are finished with them. Some of us appreciate cold drinks as well."
"Have you called Joshua yet?" John asked, ignoring Caleb's sarcastic reply as he poured himself a glass and put the pitcher back in the fridge. It barely had any lemonade left in it. It was a damn double standard and something that Jim was always telling them off about, but again Caleb didn't think something like that was really worth mentioning. John downed the glass in three long gulps; the relief of the cool liquid hitting his pallet was obvious.
"You're not going then?"
Caleb looked sideways at Dean. The kid was waiting for an answer as well. Watching to see how this was going to go down. It was nothing new for them to get into a debate but it wasn't often that it was a debate on John keeping Caleb from a hunt. Sam's expression had also turned from boredom to interest.
Giving John back his attention, Caleb crossed his arms over his chest and crossed one foot over the other, Jim's bench now being the only thing holding him upright. "I wanted to double check a few things first. Tony is expecting me."
"Who's Tony?" Sam asked looked from each hunter before his gaze rested back on Caleb.
"His new girlfriend," Dean muttered, a lopsided grin on his face as his eyes connected with Caleb's.
"He's a hunter, Sammy," John corrected.
Sam glanced at his father before giving his attention back to Caleb. "You're girlfriend's a guy?" Sam asked; his voice indicative that he didn't believe that for a second. That was something. At least Sam didn't think being gay was a possibility.
"The vote's still out on whether Tony's a guy or not." This time Dean full on snickered.
"He's just some hunter, Sammy," Caleb explained to the youngest Winchester. "I think Jim's considering him for our little secret society."
"He's not part of the Brotherhood?"
"Not yet. Not just anyone can get a ring, Runt." The silver Jim dolled out had to be earned, had to be trusted to you. Jim was very careful when deciding who got their rings and when. Caleb could still remember the night he had received his own ring … Dean had nearly died that night. That was etched into his memory but so was the feeling when after a massive chewing out, John tossed him his ring. It had been what he had strived for so long to get and what he continued to strive to deserve everyday … sometimes he wondered. "Jim's careful with who he gives these baby's to." Caleb held up his hand, wiggling his fingers and displaying his own silver band.
"So what is Jim looking at this dude for then? He doesn't even come from a hunting family."
"Give it a rest, Dean," John finally spoke up, stepping over Caleb's outstretched legs to get to the sink where he proceeded to wash his hands. "We're not exactly the ones to point that fact out."
"Yes sir." Dean answered, only looking slightly annoyed. He controlled himself, leaning back on his chair, flipping Caleb off when John's back was to him.
Dean disliked Tony Michaels from the first time he had met the man a few weeks back, before Tony had started his undercover stint in the cult they were investigating. Caleb wasn't sure yet why the kid was put off. Tony was a little gung-ho when it came to hunting but at the same time could get way too distracted way too easily. All it took was a short skirt and it was all over. The time spent with the man over the last couple of months - at Jim's request - had Caleb beginning to wonder if he was as easily distracted. Maybe Jim was trying to teach him something before Dean was totally corrupted by his ways. If that was Jim's plan? Then he was definitely a little late on the mark.
"Anyway …" Caleb began again, looking at Sam as he spoke, ignoring Dean's sudden pissy-ness. "Jim asked me to spend some time with him, impart my vast knowledge on cults."
Ignoring was over-rated. "Shut up." Caleb picked up the tea towel lying on the bench and threw it in Dean's direction only for Dean to duck. The towel landed on the floor beside Sam.
"You're aims off," Sam told him, leaning down sideways in order to pick up the towel.
"It's a hand towel, Sammy, it's not science," Caleb retorted.
"Get to the point, Junior." John walked around and took the hand towel from Sam to wipe his hands, remaining standing behind the boys. He rested a hand on the back of Sam's chair.
"To the point?" Caleb asked. Was it old age or just stubbornness? Caleb looked down at his watch and then back up at John. "I agreed to meet Tony at seven. I need five hours to get there and if I want to make the meeting then I need to leave in at least an hour."
"Have you called Joshua?"
"Why would I call Joshua?
"Because I said you aren't going there alone."
Caleb's jaw clenched tightly against the irrational urge to shout in frustration. John had been steadfast against the idea since he'd received the call from the other hunter the night before. "I'm not a kid, John and I'm meeting with a damn hunter. It's nothing…"
"Yet." John countered and then pushed back off Sam's chair and placed his hands on his hips. "I'm sorry, Caleb but this guy is green, been undercover in this so called cult for a week and a half with no contact and … and isn't exactly someone I trust."
"That's exactly why I should go."
"I agree with you but you're still not going alone."
"You're impossible." Caleb complained.
"I'll go," Dean interrupted the escalating battle of wills between mentor and student.
Caleb followed John's line of sight. Dean sat at Jim's kitchen table like the solution to the problem should be obvious. Green eyes too big for the kid's face stared back at John and Caleb unflinchingly.
Caleb eyed him suspiciously. "Since when have you wanted to do anything that involved Tony?" Dean hadn't spent much time at all around the other man but the times that he had it hadn't been pleasant for anyone. Dean wasn't one to hide what he really felt.
"This isn't about him."
"It's a moot point because Dean isn't going either," John stopped any planning between the two immediately.
"Why?" Dean challenged.
Caleb groaned and gripped the back of the empty chair in front of him, leaning forward with his head down. He had the sudden desire to smash his own head against the hard wood of the table … or John's. John wasn't stopping him from going at all, just from going alone and when a solution was presented that wasn't to John's liking it was shot down. Was the man just trying to be annoying?
"You know why, Dean. Don't think you're fooling me on this one, Ace. It's not happening."
"I think a hunt is a little more important, Dad. It's just a paper."
"A paper?" Caleb asked in confusion. John was making an issue of hunting over school work? Now Dean's reasoning for wanting to come along despite meeting with Tony made a little more sense.
Sam nodded up at him. "It's a real important one."
"Stay out of this, Sam."
"I mean it."
"Boys! Enough. Dean you're getting that paper done this weekend. I don't care. Is that understood?"
"Understood," Dean replied without his usual good little soldier impersonation.
Caleb would learn more before he left the farm but for now there were more important issues than Dean's reluctance to do a school paper. "What about the hunt?" Caleb asked bringing them all back to the problem at hand.
"What about it?" John asked. "I don't see the problem."
Caleb snorted and looked away before looking back at John. "I do. I was told to go alone."
"Argue all you want, Junior. Mac would agree with me on this."
"Mac isn't here."
"Exactly and I'm not looking to receive a lecture on the proper care and feeding of one Caleb Reaves. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It's not as fun as it sounds," John noted, keeping his eyes on Caleb as he stood behind the boys, a hand on each of their chairs.
"I'm not a kid anymore," Caleb argued, crossing his arms over his chest. He was twenty five years old and quite capable of handling a meet and greet.
"You're his kid, dude," John pointed out.
"You're being an ass because you're afraid of my father?" Mac had been known to get aggressive. The man was protective of those he loved and it was something that he admired in his father and it was something that he appreciated having directed at him … until moments like these came about.
"No, Caleb, I'm being an ass because I don't trust this. I don't want spend my weekend saving your sorry ass."
"I'm touched … really," Caleb added sarcastically, eye-roll in full force.
"I'm serious, Caleb. Look, all I'm asking is that you take someone with you to hide away in the background. If that's messing with your tough guy image there's nothing I can do about it." John looked down at his sons, who had been surprisingly quiet during the whole exchange and then raised his eyes back to Caleb, a thoughtful expressing hiding in the dark hazel depths and Caleb had a feeling whatever John was about to say next would have him screwed. "Would you let Dean … or Sammy go in alone if you honestly thought there was a danger?"
He knew it. John had a way of infuriating him and knocking the wind from his sails in one well manoeuvred attack. It was probably why John was the Knight and he was the protégé … didn't make it any less annoying. "No … I wouldn't." Caleb scowled at Dean when the kid raised an eyebrow at the turn of events.
"All I'm saying is that it doesn't hurt to be cautious. You're a damn good psychic, kid, but you aint invincible."
"I get it, I get it," Caleb admitted begrudgingly. He didn't know why he was arguing so much over it. Maybe he was subconsciously trying to prove himself or maybe he was getting too complacent. Regardless? John never worried over nothing so if he was being cautious then it meant Caleb should at least respect that. "I still have a problem."
"You are a problem," Dean interjected, seemingly enjoying the chance to take a playful shot.
"Takes one to know one, Deuce," Caleb retaliated, grinning at his friend before bringing his attention back to John. "Joshua's too far out and I'm not sure who else will be able to get there on short notice. I did make some phone calls."
Apparently hunting season was well in force in the supernatural world at the moment. Bobby was at home in South Dakota so he had been a no-go, Joshua was busy and not exactly jumping at the chance to help with the menial task and that suited Caleb just fine. A couple of other names had been called, all brotherhood members and all out on their own job … didn't leave many options.
"Why don't you go with him, Dad?" Sam asked looking at his father intently. What was it with the Winchester boys and their ability to look as if they had just given you an obvious answer?
"Me?" "Him?" John and Caleb asked simultaneously.
Sam shrugged a shoulder, his black cape rippling in the process. "Sure, I mean it would be the best way to make sure nothing happened."
John pursed his lips, not immediately dismissing Sam's suggestion. He seemed to be weighing up his options. Caleb waited expectantly. Whatever happened he needed an answer and he needed it soon. The older man contemplated silently for a few more moments before directing his gaze at Sam's.
"That's not a bad idea, Sammy," John concluded, winking at his youngest.
Sam beamed at the praise. The kid was at a tricky age. The hunting lifestyle was getting less and less appealing for Sam and you didn't have to hear him speak to know that but at the same time praise from John Winchester was better than gold. Caleb remembered those days and could admit to himself that maybe John's praise still did have some of that same effect on him now … on occasion. The older man might frustrate the hell out of him, make him madder than almost anyone else did but John was still his mentor, his family. There was still enough awe there for the child in Caleb to believe John had the ability to fix anything.
"So you're gonna come with me?" Caleb asked to clarify.
"It's me or someone else and looking at the time frame you're working with? The closest person would probably be …"
"Hastings," Caleb finished for him. That was never a comforting thought. The guy was a total douchebag … among other distasteful things.
John lifted a shoulder as if to say 'those were the breaks'.
"I know who I'd pick," Dean commented idly, a darkness having edged its way under his casual appearance. "Unless of course your plan was to hand Ian over as a human sacrifice to this cult."
Ian Hastings had never been Dean's favourite person. Tony? Dean didn't like, but Caleb was sure it was more territorial than anything else. Dean held his family close. But Ian was a whole other story and one that Caleb could relate to considering the past. But the past was the past and Ian wasn't an issue … apparently he had someone else along for the ride. Someone he could trust.
"I guess I'm stuck with you then," Caleb conceded. It really wasn't a hard choice.
"That settles it, then." John wiped his hands on his dirty grey t-shirt and moved away from the table, not before squeezing both his sons' shoulders at the same time.
Caleb reached out and grabbed John's arm as he went to pass. "I'm driving. Remember, you're not there."
"Yes sir," John mocked. "Kid, I have experience in stealth."
"Just reminding you, Johnny, the memory is the first to go with age, y'know.
John chuckled and continued walking, cuffing Caleb on the back of the head lightly as he left the room.
Caleb sighed and then stretched, relishing in the sound of a few joints popping.
"Who's the one getting old?" Dean teased.
"It's just the strain of having to put up with you lot."
Caleb felt like something had been accomplished. It hadn't exactly been what he had been aiming for but when John made up his mind it was almost impossible to change it. Having John tag along wasn't the worst result in the world.
Now he was left with the two youngest Winchesters and there was bound to be an interesting story there. Neither boy had moved from where they had been sitting and Caleb moved to join them, taking a seat across from Sam.
He gave Dean's shoulder a quick push. "So … school paper? What's the deal?"
Dean groaned and looked away in a familiar agitation that had no real fire behind it. Sam looked at his brother and then to Caleb. "His teacher has been hassling Dad about it."
"Really?" Caleb asked slowly, his eyes canting towards Dean again. "Dude?"
"It's nothing, Damien."
"When your Dad makes issue of school work it kind of sparks an interest." It wasn't that John didn't care about schooling. He knew the man did but the hunt usually absorbed all of his attention and with the amount of times the boys changed schools things never really became an issue. New schools, new lessons and new teachers. "If you're having trouble with something you can always ask for help."
Dean looked at him like he clearly thought Caleb was calling him an idiot. "I'm not having trouble with the work, moron."
"Then what's the problem."
"He's been stalling," Sam filled in for his brother, making Caleb's curiosity peak. It wouldn't be the first time Dean had issue with a certain subject or assignment.
"Shut up, Sam." Dean frowned at the younger boy. He looked at Caleb and squirmed. "It's not a big deal, dude and it's about as much your business as it is Mr. Cant mind my own business, here." Dean jabbed his thumb in Sam's direction.
The sound of gravel crunching under tyres and the familiar engine rumble of Jim's truck interrupted the conversation and Caleb took this as his chance. ""Hey Runt, why don't you go and help Jim bring in the groceries?"
"He might be more receptive to some more magic tricks if you help him," Caleb offered, dropping the pastor right into it … and feeling no guilt whatsoever.
Sam sighed in a way only young teens could, clearly telling them that he wasn't happy with being dismissed but that he would do as he was asked. "Fine."
Dean watched his brother go silently but made no move himself. His index finger bounced on the table top and he actually looked tired. Caleb frowned. "So…"
"Well spit it out, man."
"It's just …" Dean stopped and Caleb waited patiently, remembering the occasional Mothers day Dean had had trouble with in the past but it wasn't anywhere near mothers day now so Cale assumed that wasn't the problem. "It's just this paper on our future."
That was it? "What so bad about that?"
"Nothing," Dean admitted. "But what am I supposed to write, Damien? I doubt hunting the supernatural is an acceptable career move to a school counsellor."
The boy had a point but was that all he saw in his future? It worried Caleb a lot. "What about baseball?"
Dean snorted and looked away with a sad, yet amused smile before looking back at the psychic. "That's not being very realistic, dude."
"Don't tell me that you couldn't get a full ride anywhere you want on a scholarship, Deuce. I've seen you play."
Dean leant forward, his green eyes burning holes into Caleb's head. "Do you really think that's even on the cards?"
"Have you met my family?"
"Unfortunately," Caleb quipped. "Look, all I'm saying is that you shouldn't sell yourself short and I know I bitched and bitched, but college isn't all that bad."
"You? Bitching?" Dean raised a brow and smirked.
"Don't try that deflecting shit on me." Caleb wasn't taking that bait.
"Fine," Dean relented and sat back again, resting his arms out in front of him on the table. "And I'm not selling myself short, I just know my options. I can't leave Dad and Sammy … and hunting is what I wanna do."
"Don't close off your options." It was frustrating to know that part of what Dean was saying was right. Caleb had Mac and had been given every chance some people could only dream of. Sammy was encouraged to excel at school but Dean, a lot of the time was left hanging in the wind looking after what mattered most to him … but what was left over for Dean?
"That's all I'm saying and as for this paper? It doesn't need to be totally non-fiction. Dude, think of it as telling a story. It's not like you haven't gone undercover before. Just treat it like that and don't make it personal and see how you go."
Dean's mind was ticking over, assimilating what Caleb was saying. Eventually he reacted with a smile. "I knew I put up with your presence for a reason. That's not a bad idea."
"I do come up with them occasionally," he stated dryly and tapped his head. "You'd be surprised what's up here."
"I'm continually surprised to find there's something up there, Damien."
Caleb felt settled. Dean's thoughts on his own future were worrying but for now they seemed to have come to a point of agreement that he could live with, although he wasn't going to let this go. He didn't want Dean to get lost in the struggle against evil. They all deserved something different to balance life with hunting and it wouldn't be fair for Dean to miss out because he was made to believe he was less important than his family's needs. He had a whole five hours with John at a stretch … maybe on their way back he could bring it up.
"But speaking of good ideas … Tony? Really?"
Caleb hadn't expected that turn and frowned in exasperation. "What have you got against the guy?"
"Do you want a list?"
"Just do me a favour and watch yourself." All jokes were gone from the younger man's voice and real concern could be detected. "That's all I'm asking … of you and Dad."
Caleb lifted a shoulder and gave a lop-sided grin. "You know me …" he paused when he saw the look Dean directed at him. "Okay, I'll be careful. Happy?" he conceded.
"It'll do for now." Dean pushed his chair back and stood as voices and footsteps could be heard coming from the living room. "Although, I think this is a big cop out."
"How do you figure that?" This was bound to be an interesting theory.
"You just want a break from the magic show."
Jumping into the driver's seat before Caleb could reach it; John closed the door with a resounding thud and waited for the younger hunter to make his way around to the passenger side of the jeep.
"I thought we discussed this driving thing?" Caleb asked, frowning.
"It's a long drive and I want you sharp. You can take the wheel back when we get closer."
"Fine," Caleb replied as he got comfortable in his seat, his gaze directed up to where Pastor Jim was standing on the porch with Dean and Sam. The psychic gave them a little wave as John reversed, before sliding the jeep's gears into drive.
They fell into a comfortable silence as John steered the jeep out of the long driveway and onto the road. The jeep felt good under the control of John's hands. He was pleased with how it was running; the rattling sound it had been making when Caleb had first arrived at the farm was now just a distant memory. The old vehicle did its job when properly maintained.
Caleb leant forward, his hand reaching for the dial on the silent radio. John was quicker, slapping the kids hand away. "House rules, dude."
Caleb cocked his head to the side and eyed John skeptically. "House rules? This isn't the Impala, house rules don't apply."
"They do when I'm driving and I'm not spending five hours listening to your crap."
"My music is not crap," Caleb argued indignantly.
John dipped his head to the side, pursing his lips. "Not all of it," he agreed and then slapped Caleb's hand away from the radio again. He wasn't finished yet.
Caleb sighed loudly, taking exception to his radio being off-limits. "What now? And don't give me that 'house rules' crap"
"Answer some questions and you can listen to whatever the fuck you want."
It sounded petulant but John didn't see any of the childish behaviour in the man beside him so he continued. "What's with you and this guy?"
"Have you been listening to your son again?" Caleb asked dryly.
John looked askance at the hunter beside him. He'd had all the smart mouth replies anyone could take over the last few days of Dean and Caleb catching up at the farm. When those boys got on a roll it just about flowed seamlessly from their mouths at each other, at Sammy. John really didn't care all that much what they did together but this was important, this was a hunt and Caleb needed to be serious.
Caleb must have gotten the silent message John was sending because he shifted in the seat, resting his elbow on the open window. "I don't know." Caleb shrugged, his eyes resting on the road in front of them. "I guess I kind of get where he's coming from," Caleb admitted.
"And where is that?"
"You know his story."
John nodded. He did know Tony's story. It was in the job description to know these things but he didn't know everything. "I know his story but I'm still waiting to hear how it connects to this case. What made him go against orders?"
Caleb sighed. "In his final year of High School his best buddy vanished. Tony was convinced it was the new religious group his friend had gotten involved with. They seemed to disappear off the map."
"I know that."
"You asked, I'm telling …"
"I'm listening," John conceded. They had a long drive. There was plenty of time to do nothing but go over what they knew.
"Thank you. Now where was I?"
"Religious group disappearing."
"Right … so Tony joined the cops straight out of high school. He reckons all he could think about was finding out what happened to his friend … they were like brothers, y'know?"
"So he became a cop in order to legally hunt down this group he thought had taken his friend?"
"And use their resources. He followed the trail, transferring from office to office until he finally came across them. Caught the tail end of a sacrifice and that's where it gets shaky. He wasn't too clear on what happened, other than hunters finding him and saving his ass before he was caught. From there you know the rest."
"So he thinks he's found them again?"
"He knows he has but unlike last time he's more prepared, he knows more …"
"He's being reckless." That was the one thing that John didn't like and even more so when one of his own was being put in the position to fall victim to that recklessness. "Jim warned and asked him not to take this gig on by himself. It was going to be taken care of. We don't hunt alone when we can help it, Caleb. You know that. And if Tony can't follow a directive from the Guardian himself?"
"I know," Caleb agreed.
He knew. John ran a hand through his hair, readjusting his loose grip on the steering wheel. Caleb knew and yet he still came running when the other man called surrounding suspicious circumstances. "Why did he even ask to join the Brotherhood then?"
"It's not as simple as that, John. He didn't realise there were others. This hunting community thing is new to him. He has potential or Jim wouldn't have even considered him for a ring, or put me on his case."
"I'm not saying he doesn't have potential."
"I don't like this."
"So you've said. I'm not going into this blind y'know? Are you forgetting who my teacher was?" Caleb's lip curled up in a smile as he looked back at John.
John snorted. "You think buttering me up is going to shut me up?"
"I would never think that, John," Caleb deadpanned, rolling his eyes a second later
"Smart ass," John grumbled good-naturedly. He did have faith in Caleb. He had seen to it that Caleb was the best he could be and the kid had been a natural from day one. But that didn't mean he still didn't worry, especially when the niggling feeling in his gut wouldn't leave. "So Tony thinks this ritual sacrifice he witnessed was what happened to his friend all those years ago?"
Caleb nodded. "Yeah … he followed a pattern of missing persons. He put together a damn good file."
"Jim showed me. He's thorough, I'll give him that. I just don't want his thirst for revenge to get anyone else hurt." He didn't want Caleb caught up in something that was badly planned and Tony had made it difficult to put a team on the job without the possibility of breaking his cover. He'd put them all in an awkward position.
"Some would say justice. I know I wouldn't stop at anything if it had happened to Deuce."
John once again glanced to the side and caught Caleb's expression, the pointed look he was throwing his way. John knew he had just sounded like a hypocrite and he knew all about wanting revenge … or justice. "I know you wouldn't. And we don't leave our own hanging in the cold either."
"I thought he wasn't one of our own yet?"
John shrugged. "It wouldn't be the first time one of us was saved from our own pigheadedness." Tony didn't have a ring but he was a hunter and his cause was not unlike all of theirs. Everyone started in hunting somehow and John could appreciate that. But on the same hand there was one reason and one reason only that he was going along with this. "And this isn't just about Tony. We're going to pick up a cult member?"
"She wants out but she's scared. Tony has gained her trust and has promised her that he will get her out. She agreed to go along with him on the prevision that it was all cloak and dagger. If she sees more than one person she might freak out."
"Right … well maybe you should get some shut-eye. You don't want to freak her out with that face."
Caleb laughed for the first time since their drive started. "Bite me." He leaned forward trying to once more turn on the CD player and this time John didn't stop him.
Placing the sunglasses he'd had hanging from his shirt over his eyes, Caleb folded his arms over his chest and rested his head against the head rest. "Wake me when you want me to drive, Johnny."
John put his foot down on the accelerator, his gaze focusing on the road ahead as his mind swirled with thoughts. He still wasn't sure this was such a great idea and he also wasn't sure that just leaving was a great idea either. Tony was bound to get himself killed and regardless of what John thought of the boy that didn't mean he felt right about leaving him to his chosen fate. "Will do, Junior."
"We made good time," Caleb commented as he slowed the car down by the side of the road a block away from the arranged meeting spot. "And would you mind not jinxing us?"
Caleb snickered and shook his head, shifting the jeep into park without shutting off the engine. "The hospital … greeting sign … it means nothing. You're just getting superstitious in your old age." Caleb hadn't really thought about it as they had entered the town but John had a point. When a town welcome sign had a hospital sitting directly behind it … it did leave a sense of foreboding in their line of work.
John opened his passenger door and stepped out, stretching his long legs for a moment before turning around, both his forearms leaning on the doorframe as he leaned back in. "I just call irony when I see it."
"Yeah? Well hows this for irony? You still have to walk a block … and it just started raining." Caleb gestured with his head to the slight drizzle falling on his windshield.
"Your idea to come here and somehow I end up being the one screwed … typical," John snorted and then became serious once more. "Keep alert, junior. I'll be watching."
"I'll be fine."
John gave him a stern look before shutting the jeep's passenger door. Caleb saluted him before putting the gears back in drive and pulling back out onto the road, leaving John in his rear-view mirror. The only sound now came from the tyres eating up the tarmac, the low tunes coming from the radio and Caleb's own thoughts running around in his head.
The figure of John Winchester got smaller and smaller with the more distance he put between them. The bar Tony had deemed appropriate for this meet was coming up on Caleb's left. It was a long plain brown building made up of two stories. The word 'PLAYMATES' was displayed in large letters across the front of the building. Parking spots were situated along the front of the bar on the roadside but Caleb turned down the street before instead, deciding to park around back to avoid any unwanted attention.
The psychic breathed in the fresh, damp air as he opened the jeep door. Evening had now hit in full force, giving everything around him a dreary appearance as the sky settled into night.
Making sure to lock the jeep, Caleb swung the keys around his finger a few times as he started towards the bar. The drizzle had stopped and Caleb smirked and decided he'd definitely be teasing John about that run of luck on their drive home.
Rounding the corner of the building and walking out onto the main street, Caleb scanned the immediate area. People were starting to turn up. Bikers and locals and all different types of people could be seen and Caleb knew not to take anything for granted in this situation. Tony might have suggested the place but he had also warned Caleb that his cult friend's fears weren't unfounded. He needed to keep his head in the game which wouldn't be all that hard with John Winchester looking over his shoulder.
Caleb shoved his keys into the pocket of his black leather jacket as he walked through the main entrance and into the smokey, dimly lit bar. Bad Company's "Bad Company" played loudly from the lone juke box against the left wall. Pool tables were visible from the back, railed off and separate from the small dance floor and tables and chairs. The bar itself was situated in the middle of the large, long room. Along the wall on the right side of the room was a long line of booths that reached all the way to the back.
Caleb's searching gaze found the exit sign which directed people to the bathrooms and the back door that Caleb assumed more than likely lead out to where he'd parked his jeep.
There were a decent amount of people already inside, enough that Caleb had to wait for two other people to be served before the bartender gave him any attention.
He ordered a beer from the frowning man behind the bar. Caleb frowned back as he picked up the bottle and ambled down to the very last booth in the back. It was empty so he slid into it, sliding along the wooden bench.
He took a large sip of beer, wondering where John was. He didn't look though. John would act like his paranoid self and satisfy that over-protectiveness that only seemed to rear its ugly head when Caleb didn't want it to … like now.
Shouts, laughter and general chatter filled the room, sweeping over Caleb's hearing. The tunes coming from the jukebox faded only seconds before a new song started playing … a different song.
So close, no matter how far. Couldn't be much more from the heart. Forever trusting who we are and nothing else matters.
Caleb snorted at the irony of those words and the truth they held to the one person the song reminded him off the most. Deuce. In fact he could probably relate those words to all of them. His thoughts went to his best friend and wondered what the kid was doing right now, whether he was suffering at the hands of Sammy the great and his box of tricks.
Taking another pull from the bottle, Caleb tapped a finger on the wooden table to the beat of the music. Tony wasn't late but Caleb wasn't the most patient person in the world. Pulling the bottle away from his mouth, Caleb glanced down at the time on his watch.
Thirty minutes, two beers and one raincheck from a rather busty brunette later and Caleb was jolted from his very important task of peeling the label off the beer bottle.
Tony slipped into the booth on the opposite side to what Caleb was sitting on. "Hey man," he greeted.
"Nice of you to show," Caleb replied dryly, wiping the mess he'd made off the table like he'd been caught doing something he shouldn't have been.
"I almost didn't make it at all," Tony glanced around, suspiciously scanning the crowd. His usual gelled spikey hair was clean of any obvious hair products but then when trying to convince a cult that you wanted to be one of them you probably didn't have time to worry about your hair. "Besides, I'm not late." Tony looked at his watch and then nudged Caleb's foot under the table. "You're early."
Caleb sat up straighter. He might have endorsed the guy to everyone but that didn't mean he wasn't going to be careful, despite what John seemed to think. It was natural for Caleb to read others. Sometimes he didn't even realise he was doing it. "What do you mean you almost didn't make it? What happened?" Nothing seemed amiss. Tony seemed on edge but given the circumstances it wasn't all that strange.
Tony shrugged. "She was scared"
"Of what?" Caleb asked, knowing as soon as he said it that it had been a stupid question.
"Of the cult, Caleb. What part of human sacrificing cult didn't you get the first time I told you, it's like out of the freaking movies … or …" Tony clicked his fingers as he tried to think. "Or that episode of Starsky and Hutch."
"Well actually there were two episodes that dealt with cults … it all ends the same in those shows. Someone ends up dead … well unless of course the good guys stop the bad guys …"
"Focus," Caleb sighed, wearily, bring his hand up to rub at his head. A headache he assumed was caused by not enough sleep was starting to edge its way into his consciousness. When he'd first noticed it he'd worried for a split second that it was the beginnings of a vision. He'd soon discounted it. He knew the signs by now.
"Right …" Tony shook his head to clear it of his detour into the endless television and movie references that were at the tip of his tongue at any given circumstance. If he didn't know how dedicated to his work Tony was, Caleb might have thought the guy had entirely way too much time on his hands. Ironically enough it had also been just another aspect about the man's persona that Caleb had been able to connect with.
"So this girl, Susan or whatever her name is, she thinks they'd come after her?"
"Yeah and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. That's why we have to be extra careful, man."
"And what are you going to do? Wait until the final showdown again? If you remember that didn't work all too well for you last time," Caleb reminded him with a sip of his drink. It was the one thing that was making him uneasy. He was confident of what he'd seen so far with Tony but this whole under cover gig didn't seem too planned. Or at least that's the way it would seem until Tony told Caleb what the hell was going on in his head.
"I have a plan."
Tony glanced nervously around them again, as if worried that someone might see them together. Caleb fought the urge to look himself. "Not here. It's not safe." Tony smacked his hand lightly on the table. "Come on, finish your beer. We need to get out the back."
"Alright, alright, don't get your panties in a twist." Caleb grumbled, tossing back the remaining liquid in his bottle and then placed it back on the table in front of him. Tony was already standing, eager to move. To Caleb he looked a little fuzzy. He rubbed his eyes as he slide sideways on the seat, standing out of the booth the world tilted for all of two seconds causing his hip to bump into the table.
Tony looked back at him but Caleb shrugged it off. Apparently taking the wheel back from John earlier than they had agreed on hadn't been the smartest idea. He wasn't going to tell John that but maybe he'd get the older man to drive back. He wasn't exactly looking to wrap them around a tree on their way out of town. That would kind of defeat the purpose of him taking the girl in the first place.
"Well, come on. Let's move." Caleb waved his hand in the general direction of the back exit. He moved away from the table, leaving behind his empty bottle, its tattered label lying in shredded pieces on the floor beneath it.
Tony pushed open the door and walked outside. The sky had dimmed further in the half an hour he'd been inside but it was still light enough to see. Tony looked from left to right and then hopped down the steps with a spring in his step.
The wooden stairs creaked as Caleb followed Tony down onto the damp, soft grass. The evening air rushed over him, a complete contrast compared to the warm temperature from inside the bar. The fine hair on Caleb's arms stood to attention at the drastic change while his head spun for a moment, causing him to reach out and skim the railing with his hand.
"You okay, Reaves?"
Caleb focused on Tony's form, shadowed by the building and tried to shake the haziness away. "I'm fine. Where's your girl?"
Tony turned away from him and whistled like he was calling damn dog. Caleb half expected to see Scout bound up to them, tail wagging in excitement. Instead Scout's image in Caleb's mind faded, forming into a young woman. Caleb eyed her immediately, taking in the mess of blonde hair that was tied haphazardly at the back of her head, looking almost like she hadn't brushed it in days. She wrapped the too-large sand coloured cardigan around her body, keeping the evening chill away from her, the long cream dress she wore doing nothing to conserve heat. Caleb's eyes travelled down to her feet, moving silently in the white sneakers.
The woman was tiny and looked like she'd been through the wars. Caleb was sure that if a small gust of wind came along it would blow her away. Her bright blue eyes darted between Tony and Caleb, almost fast enough to have Caleb's dizziness increase.
"You said he'd come."
Tony held his arms out, his shoulders shrugging. "You doubted me?"
"I don't like to celebrate until I know for sure."
"Celebrate?" Caleb asked. His tongue felt thick and he knew that the effort to force out that one single word had been too much. Something wasn't just wrong with this whole situation, something was wrong with him.
Tony and Susan both turned at the slurred sound of his voice and Caleb thought he might have seen a quick flash of guilt before a satisfied smile rolled onto Tony's face. The two people in front of him became four and Caleb opened his eyes wider in an attempt to fix his distorted vision. "Wha's going on?"
Before Caleb could get his answer, or mentally fix his own problem of vertigo that was slowly climbing to the point of him ending up on his ass, the back entrance slammed open, making all three of them jump.
Susan gasped at the same time that Tony cursed and Caleb would know that voice anywhere. John wouldn't have come out of cover unless it was important and Caleb thought it was very fucking important to tell the Knight that he had fucked up somehow and that he didn't think he would be capable of driving them home if his deteriorating condition was anything to go by. Caleb turned drunkenly towards his mentor's voice, the change in his stance made him lurch to the side just as a white blast of light flashed in his eyes, burning his retina's seconds before the sound of a gunshot finally penetrated his brain. Pain sizzled nerves and caused a strangled cry to wrench from his mouth before he knew no more.
"Caleb!" John's heart raced to the point of exploding as he saw a small woman standing next to Michaels whip out a 9mm and pull the trigger. She flinched at the kick back and the sound that did more to interrupt the quiet night than John's voice had only seconds before.
It was like the whole thing had happened in slow motion and John didn't even remember having pulled his gun out from its hiding place. Somewhere from his revelation that Caleb was being set up to where he was standing now he had pulled the weapon out, feeling comfortable in his hands.
The gunshot was loud and Caleb's head snapping back before his long body folded to the ground allowed John's fast beating heart to finally beat its way all of the way out of his chest.
"Don't move." The obvious gun stuck into his side beat any action he'd been about to jump into. Caleb's name got stuck in his throat, rolling into a growl under his breath. His gun was torn out of his hand with quick precision and then whoever it was stood back out of John's reach.
John knew he was supposed to be paying attention to everything around him, demanding what Tony thought he was doing but his eyes wouldn't leave Caleb's lax form lying on the soft grass.
The kid wasn't moving.
A/N2: Hey there. You still with me? If you are? Well thanks :) I appreciate it and I would love to hear what you thought. Reviews are as golden as John's praise ;) :P
I said my Mum wanted John hurt right? Well some of you should know me well enough by now that the opportunity to hurt my favourite psychic is too good to pass up. So John AND Caleb are in for a nasty ride ... well nasty for them anyway :P I am planning to post a chapter every 2 weeks (this time frame hopefully something I can stick too) So if you want more? Stay Tuned ... same bat time, same bat channel ...