Title: With Blood

Summary:Bobby Singer was just a friend to a widower, not minding the occasional babysitting. But his devotion for the Winchester family truly began when he was struck by a terminal illness and saved only by a sacrifice from Dean. Pre-Series.

Hi gang!

Thanks to all who read, alerted, favorited and especially all who reviewed my last story, Heroes for Ghosts. The reception to that fic was so incredible, and I am so grateful for your support. I am about bursting with excitement for the season premiere tomorrow, and as a kind-of salute to the happiness that will surely come when the episode airs after such a long wait, I am posting the first chapter of my new fic, With Blood. I hope you enjoy it and as always, I heartily welcome all c&c's. Thanks again and 'til the next post!

With Blood

1: Your Time


The arrogant rumbling of that goddamn car was unmistakable.

The Impala ate up ground all lordly and gleaming black, and that self-aware, unconscionable purr was her soundtrack. She was a gorgeous piece of work, that beauty, and it was just a little too bad that her arrival inextricably heralded stray cats into the Singer Salvage Yard.

Bobby sighed, part in fondness and part in resignation.

Here come the Winchesters... all nine lives of each of the three of them, snarling and licking at their wounds.

He looked at his useless lump of black dog lying on its stomach in front of his television, looking unworried and disinterested by the approach.

"You a guard dog or what?" Bobby asked him.

Rumsfeld glanced up at him but didn't otherwise move, not even when Bobby leaned down and sniffed lightly at the fur on his big head.

"At least ya don't stink," he declared.

The junkman trudged to the fridge in his weathered kitchen, grabbed three bottles of cold beer and deftly twisted the caps off. He took a good swig off of each one, and then drew the ever-handy flask of holy water from his pocket and refilled the swigs he had taken. He left the bottles on the counter and gave his pantry a quick scan. Enough to feed an army, as always. Which was good because Dean Winchester was coming.

He checked the first aid kit under the sink, one of many he kept in the house. He was unsurprised but nevertheless happy that it was well-stocked, because every time John and his boys came along, someone always had a hole somewhere that needed fixing.

He hastily put his newest book acquisitions on easy view in the living room too - easier to keep the increasingly impatient and profoundly teenage Sam Winchester occupied that way.

Bobby watched the Impala languidly stop to a park from his window. He wiped his greasy hands uselessly against equally-greasy pants, and then removed his cap and matted his hair down before smartly slipping it back on. Not that there was anyone to look good for, and most of the time the Winchesters came in looking much worse than he did. It was just that there were a very few people in the world who looked happy to see him, and he might as well look a little bit presentable.

He pulled open the door of his home just as John Winchester swung heavy legs off the driver's side of the car and rose to his feet. Bobby gave him a welcoming nod, before turning to the other doors of the car expectantly.

He waited for the latest incarnation of Sam to come bounding out the backseat. He looked different every time Bobby saw him, just getting bigger and bigger. The only thing that didn't change was that he was always stomping-angry or stomping-excited about something.

He waited for the theatric emergence of Dean from the passenger seat, indulgent and suave, dressing more and more in John's hand-me-downs and curiously enough looking more and more like that gorgeous mother of his instead. Hell yeah Bobby knew how the aspirational Mary looked like; the Winchesters have spent enough time at the Yard for John to have drawn out and drunkenly rambled about her photograph from his wallet a few times. Bobby doubted that old man Winchester would even remember any of that, or want to.

Bobby frowned when none of the other car doors opened and John jogged over to the one on the passenger side, its immaculate glass windows shining and hiding what Bobby guessed would be Dean's hunched figure. He walked toward them apprehensively.


"Kid got himself banged up some," replied the other hunter with a grunt. He opened the door and leaned in, reaching for Dean's legs and swinging them over to the ground. Bobby angled his body just-so, looking around John's considerable bulk to find the younger Winchester looking rail-thin and pale as a sheet, green eyes just hollowed out in painkillers even as his tightly-set jaws screamed that he probably wasn't having enough of them. The source of the aggravation was apparently a heavily-casted right leg, mid-thigh down to just below the knee. Stiff, shaky movements, the bruised and scarred left arm folded and wrapped around his chest and the gauzed-up right arm slung over John's shoulders only promised that Bobby could only see the worst of what was actually more hurts.

"Jesus, John," Bobby breathed, wanting to move forward to help, but not knowing quite where to grab or touch... the kid was a mess.

"He'll be all right," came the curt reply.

"Yeah, but--"

"I know, Bobby," John growled, "Can it."

"Where's Sam?" Bobby inquired warily, peering into the empty backseat, "He all right?"

"Packed up and went off on his own a couple months back," John said gruffly, "Doing better 'n all of us. Dean-o here," he readjusted his grip as the three men ambled toward the house, "He just has to get used to a bare right side now, huh? Gotta cover that better."

"Not," Dean gasped, surprising Bobby with some semblance of alertness, "Not Sam's fault."

"Never is," John mumbled, stopping by the porch steps of the house and sighing as if he was standing at the foot of a mountain, "Bobby, you wanna make this place handicap accessible?"

The junkman snorted at his guest, and moved over to Dean's other side. "What do you want me to do?"

"Just..." John said, eyes already calculating some form of plan, "Just grab the duffel in the back, would you?"

"You got him?"

"'Course I do."

Bobby shrugged and walked back to the car, tried not to turn around when he heard Dean's gasping whimper of "Dad..." and John's quick and panicky assurances of "I got you, almost there, you're doing good..."

Bobby shook his head and sighed, wondering how things would have been for him if his wife had lived, if... if they had a kid of their own. The thought caused a familiar twist in his gut, and he just leaned over the Impala's backseat, grabbed the duffel and slammed the door shut.

Bobby returned to his house to find Dean asleep on the couch in his living room, the old brown monstrosity folding around the young hunter in a familiar way, sinking beneath his weight lovingly. Dean's left arm was hanging off of the couch, and Bobby was going to put the limb to rest on Dean's chest until he found that Dean's left hand rested right smack on top of Rumsfeld's big head. The dog laid down on the floor by Dean and looked pleased with himself.

Bobby rolled back his eyes and put the duffel down on the floor quietly, before seeking out John and finding him in the kitchen, staring at the three beer bottles on the counter.

"You're gonna need to start putting out just two now that Sam's up and left," John said to him.

"That's all right," Bobby said carefully, "More for me."

John sat down on one of the battered seats around the dining table and ran his hands through his hair.

"You all right?" Bobby felt compelled to ask.

"Yeah," John winced.

"Kid got too close to the fire for your liking, huh?" Bobby guessed, pushing one of the beer bottles his way. "Go take your drink, Winchester. Dean obviously gets a free pass, this one time. And you look like you need it."

John shrugged and downed a third of the bottle in a gulp, "It's a dangerous gig."

"And he's still your son," Bobby pointed out, "You got rights to be shaky whenever he gets hurt. What the hell happened?"

"The usual shit," John said, looking at Bobby pointedly, "And the hunt ain't done yet."

Bobby frowned. "You want me to send someone up there?"

"I did when I was in the hospital with Dean," John replied, wincing again and drinking again, "But I lost a guy already. Davids, you know him. Good man, dirty fighter? Kids and a goddamn widow up in Stamford, now. Terrain's a tricky bitch too. I've called up some people; it ain't a one-man job. But more and more I know I gotta be there. Terrains a bitch, I said." He looked at Bobby meaningfully.

"You leavin' Dean here?" Bobby asked, though he already knew the answer.

"There's kids out there dying, Bobby. I gotta go back and take care of this."

"You don't need to sell it," Bobby said, "It's just..."

He stared at his old friend, who looked exhausted but as driven as always.

"I like having your runts around, you know that," Bobby said, scratching the back of his neck uneasily, not quite able to find the words to say that he wasn't really in a position to be caring for anyone at the moment, much less a belligerent Dean whom he knew from experience he sometimes had to fight to help.

"Only a couple of days," John promised. He looked sincere and he probably thought he was telling the truth, but Bobby doubted it was how things would turn out because it almost never did, with John. One hunt stretched longer than expected, and one became two or three, the next state became two states over and so on, and with Dean laid up like he was, Bobby was almost sure the younger Winchester wasn't going anywhere with his father until he was much more mobile and functional.

Normally, Dean staying wouldn't be a problem. As a matter of fact, it was almost always a pleasure. But things were a bit different...

How could he tell an old friend that he was in no position to be caring for anyone else but himself right now?

How could he tell an old friend that he was sick? Or – scratch that crap – dying?

But John had to do what he had to do, as always, in a hunt god knows where. And Dean... Dean would have suffered getting dragged to hell and back by his daddy, but tanked up on painkillers on one leg was a little too much to ask, wasn't it? He'd end up passed out alone in a motel or in pain for endless hours on the road, looking as sick and thin as Bobby had just seen him.

Bobby resolved that though he might be ill, these damn bones had some kick to them yet.

"Fine, I got him," Bobby said, "A coupla days, huh?"


Poor, clueless liar.

"Does he know?" Bobby asked, "Your brat hates getting left behind and he turns into a bigger pain in the ass."

"I wanted to get you in first," John said, "I shoulda known you'd say yes."

"Damn straight."

John smiled a little then, looking as if he hasn't done it in a long time, like it was a crack on his face. "You're a good man, Singer."

"Hey," father called to son, the older man lightly tapping Dean's uninjured left leg, "Hey, Dean."

The sleep-even breathing hitched, and fever-bright green eyes fluttered open and immediately found his father's face.

"Know where you are?" John asked.

Irritation flashed across Dean's eyes, "Of course I kn--"

"Yeah, yeah," John cut him off, waving his hand around vaguely, "I'm headed out."

Dean took a deep breath and moved to sit up, but his father's hand was already pressed to his chest. He grit his teeth in determination and held his father's wrist in a death grip, trying to get it off of him.

"You listen to me," John said, voice turning unsubtly into the clipped Drill Sergeant version, "You stay here, you get better, all right? I'll be back in a couple of days, you hear? I gotta finish the hunt, but I'll check in, all right?"

"No," Dean said, voice hoarse, sounding and looking like a child for the first time in more than a decade, "Dad, please."

"Aw, come on, kid," Bobby piped in, appearing beside John, "I'm not that bad."

"Now you settle down," John said to Dean, "And not give your uncle Bobby any headaches."

"Uncle?" Bobby snorted, "Your boy hasn't shown me any respect in years."

"See?" Dean pointed out, gasping when he tried to shift away from his father and jostled his leg. He grit his teeth and hissed, "He doesn't want me here."

"Aw, hell, Dean," Bobby said, taking pity, "You know I do--"

Dean gave him a small grin, eyes weary but alight for the first time since he was brought in the house, and Bobby knew he'd just been had.

"Nervy bastard," Bobby grumbled, rising to his feet.

John chuckled, patting Dean lightly on the uninjured leg again, "No headaches, I said."

"He's laughing inside," Dean guaranteed as he shifted and winced again.

"You know what else is inside my head?" Bobby asked, "I'm thinking about my hands, wrapped tight around a punk's scrawny neck."

"You two are a riot," John sighed, "I'm heading out. Back in a couple of days, champ."

"He thinks he means it, but he doesn't," was the first thing Dean said to him, the very moment John stepped out the door. The audience just left, and he could be more truthful now. The kid's eyes turned glazed and lonely, helplessly drug-honest as he looked up at Bobby earnestly, "That's kind of sadder, isn't it?"

Bobby knew what Dean meant. It wasn't going to be a few days and they both knew it.

"I'm sorry, Bobby," Dean said, "I swear to god I'm outta your hair as soon as--"

"Don't even think about it, boy," Bobby snapped, "'Sides, who says I'm not gonna work you like a dog to make up for sleeping in my house and eating my food?"

"You know you don't mean it but you still say it," Dean said, "Now that's sad."

"I'll figure something out," Bobby promised him. It sounded a little like a threat, which they both knew Dean found more palatable than being a helpless charity case.

"Hm," Dean murmured mildly, eyes beginning to slide close sleepily.

"You go settle in down here," Bobby said gruffly, patting his leg and picking up the duffel bag from the floor.

"Hey, Bobby?" Dean called after him.

"Don't thank me 'til we both come outta the next few weeks without killing each other, boy," Bobby growled at him, reading his mind.

Dean snickered and relaxed against the sofa.

John had set aside in a battered old envelope Dean's pertinent medical records and the medication he needed. Winchester was an anal sonofabitch about certain things and Bobby had no trouble at all figuring out what Dean was going to need. John had even snuck in a wad of bills to pay for incidentals that Bobby had no plans whatsoever of touching.

He thoughtfully walked up the stairs to the upper-level of his house. The place was damn big, too much space for a widower, really, but came in handy in terms of housing the occasional guest. The Winchesters dropped by frequently enough for John to have made constant use of a particular room, and for his sons to share another.

He stopped outside Dean and Sam's room.

There was one bedroom in the entire world where Dean allowed himself to sleep on the bed furthest from the door, and it was this one. Normally, Dean would plant himself between his younger brother and all dangers that would come through a door. In Bobby's house, he felt Sam would be safer by the door because Bobby's room was across the hall from theirs, and Dean would be much more useful keeping himself between Sam and the window.


So...Sam was gone. Should he plant Dean in John's usual room instead? Probably not, as Dean was not a very big fan of change. But, stationed in a two-bed room occupying just one of them and leaving the other empty kind-of magnified Sam's absence too.

Keep him on the couch, Bobby considered, knowing it would be convenient in terms of refraining from moving Dean and hauling him up the stairs, and Bobby wouldn't have to bring food from the kitchen so far. Then again that couch, while comfortable, was no place to be healing up a broken body either.

"The usual spot it is," Bobby said to himself, putting down the envelope in the drawer on the nightstand separating the two beds. He kept the orange prescription pill bottles out though, and left them on top of the table beneath the night lamp.

He grabbed some fresh linens from a cabinet in the hall and put matching sheets on the two beds; his wife had been a stickler for symmetry and it was a habit he was loathe to shake, especially since all the rest of the house had gone to disrepair after she died. He plucked out and set down a thick, white towel too; Dean Winchester liked his indulgent baths, and the swiped, threadbare motel-issue towels in the duffel just would not do for convalescence.

He went down to his kitchen, grabbed a couple bottles of water and some packs of crackers and set them on the night table too. From his living room he snatched up a bunch of books – Dean had a quiet heart for the contemporary classics – and left them there as well.

Finally, he went back to the living room and looked at his sleeping charge. Dean's hand was resting on Rumsfeld's head so naturally and casually that Bobby was tempted to pick up the dog and leave it on the nightsand also.

"Yeah you should be so lucky," Bobby muttered at the mutt, who was looking at him with the lazily doleful eyes that had Bobby bringing him home in the first place, as if knowing what the junkman was thinking.

"Hey, Dean?" Bobby called out, leaning next to the younger hunter, "You ready to move to a decent bed?"

Dean stirred lightly, and his brows furrowed at the heightened pain that always accompanied waking up. "What?"

"A bed, kid," Bobby said, "Upstairs."

"You, me and your rickety stairs," Dean murmured, eyes opening and looking at the older man, "You serious?"

"As a heart attack."

"That's pretty serious."


"But there's no TV there," Dean pointed out, pouting prettily. Bobby wanted to smack him over the head.

"I got you some books."

"Do I look like The Sasquatch to you?"


"I can't," Dean cut him off, no longer sounding flippant, sounding self-loathing instead, "I can't, all right? I'm not... I'm not much use getting up there."

"I know," Bobby said, now understanding the boy's earlier obtuseness, "I gotcha."

"I'll take us both down," Dean said quietly, averting his eyes, "End up breaking your neck. Dad's all bruised and hurting lugging me around. He warn you about that?"

"Well he's older than me," Bobby joked, and the delivery was so flat that it made Dean smile a little, as it was supposed to, "Not as fit, you know."

"I knew that," the kid said, wryly.

"Do I look like a fragile flower to you, boy?"

"Well you're a big softie," Dean pointed out.

"Maybe if this was a couple weeks back, I'd have ended up dropping ya," Bobby said, "But I hate to break this to you, Dean. You look in a mirror lately? You're rail-thin. All bones and a big mouth. I think I can handle that."

"Even the big mouth?"

"Well maybe not the big mouth," Bobby said, lips quirking, "You ready?"

Dean glanced past Bobby at the stairs that seemed to just go on and on forever. "No. But when did that matter?"

"Damn straight," Bobby said, helping him sit up. He felt the younger man's body stiffen up as his teeth grit and his jaws clenched on his pained cries. Dean breathed harshly, and Bobby lost his nerve. Briefly, he considered having Dean stay where he was and abandoning this damned crusade.

"Maybe we should just keep you here," Bobby murmured.

"Don't flake out on me now," Dean gasped, "I'm gonna bitch because it's gonna hurt like hell, but for god's sake don't stop, and go as fast as you can."

"You sure about this?"

"I just realized I don't wanna look like a discarded rag on your couch, man," Dean said with a wince, as he raised his right arm and Bobby placed it over his shoulders, "Maybe you wanna have people over."

"Yeah, right."

"Like," Dean gasped again when Bobby pulled them both to their feet, "Like a lady-friend or something."

"Since when?!" Bobby snapped, as he dragged the two of them toward the foot of the stairs. The dog was trailing obtrusively, almost tripping him and certainly making him cuss, "Damnitt Rumsfeld!"

"Since now," Dean muttered, and Bobby could feel his body shaking and tightening, just locking itself against the onslaught of pain. His head was lolling around, mirroring his efforts to stay alert.

"After all these years?" Bobby asked, realizing that Dean was effectively distracting the both of them, and he's already dragged them up three steps without noticing.

"You got lots to offer and your wife... she'd want you to be happy," Dean said.

"Would she?" Bobby snapped, biting back, You wouldn't know. You don't know what I had to do to her. You don't know...

"Why... why wouldn't she?" Dean asked.

"Is that what you say to your daddy?" Bobby asked, shifting the onus the other way. Three more steps up. Dean was getting heavier and heavier against his side, breaths coming out in a tight wheeze from his stiffened frame.

"Breathe, boy!" Bobby commanded.

Dean obediently exhaled and ended up coughing instead, doubling over and almost sending them to the ground. He sagged against Bobby in a dead faint, and if the older hunter were less agile, they'd have come tumbling back down the way they came.

Grunting with the effort, Bobby shifted his grip and picked up Dean in a cradle that would have had the mouthy brat either biting his head off or feeding him some inappropriate line if he was even just half-aware.

Bobby sighed and carried Dean over to his usual bed, and he could have sworn that they both sighed in relief at the exact same time when he lowered Dean on the obliging mattress. Bobby looked down at the younger hunter and satisfied that he was out for now, unlaced his boots and pulled them off so that he could sleep more comfortably.

Dean's socks were funny looking and Bobby could not help but stare; they were painfully clean but they were faded and there were mismatched color patches on the toes and heels. There were so many patches that Dean might as well have sewn an entirely new pair of socks on his own.

"You got a fetish or something?" Dean murmured, eyes half-open. The green of his eyes were glazed over, making them glisten. They looked like jewels in the poor light of the room.

"Nice patch up job," Bobby said, trying to keep a straight face.

"Sammy said I should throw 'em away."

"Why didn't you?"

"'Cos Sammy said I should throw 'em away," Dean grinned sleepily. He pursed his lips, and his gaze registered more awareness, and all the pensive loneliness that accompanied it. He averted his gaze, "I saw him, you know, when he was packing his clothes to leave us. He picked it up and thought about bringing 'em with him, I swear to god. What a sentimental idiot."

"Why didn't he bring 'em?"

"'Cos he knows they're my favorite."

"Speaking of sentimental idiots," Bobby said.

Dean smiled tightly, "Hey, Bobby?"


"I'm sorry."

"I told you, you're not so heavy anymore," Bobby said.

"It's not that," Dean cleared his throat, "Your wife, I shouldn't have said--"

"No steaks for you until I'm sure I'm not gonna end up carting your ass places," Bobby said, tone calm though the volume of his voice had risen, drowning out the rest of what Dean was trying to say. He looked at the younger hunter imploringly, asking him without words just to drop the damn subject of his .

"Well," Dean murmured after a long moment of thought, "You always burn 'em anyway."

Something woke him, deep in the night.

Bobby's eyes snapped open and he stared up at the cracking ceiling of his room, wondering what it is that had woken him because it was so damn quiet. He looked at the time: 3am. He had put Dean to sleep just a few hours ago; the kid was pliant about taking some crackers and his pills, and then went straight to dreamland.

The night was quiet, still. He liked the solitude of his Yard at weird hours, the odd clinks of wind against battered metal, leaves brushing against the wood of his house, the off-key singing of the loose side of his business sign swinging with the breezes.

He sat up, wondered if he had dreamed about something and just forgot what it was. He rubbed at his eyes tiredly and decided that since he was up anyway, he might as well check on his guest.

Quietly, barefoot so as he would not wake the usually sharp-eared younger hunter, he walked to the slightly open door of Dean's room. He peered inside and jumped in spite of himself; Dean's emerald gaze met his squarely.

"Cripes, kid!" Bobby hissed, "Warn an old man, would you?"

Dean closed his eyes, and in the dull light of the moon seeping in the room, Bobby saw the streaks of tears that tracked from his eyes to his cheek and then down to the pillow. Dean's body was practically damn folded in on itself, and his pale face was glistening with a fine sheet of sweat. He was trembling, hands clawed around his casted limb, and his breath came in deep and measured, very carefully controlled. Bobby made to stepped forward in a panic, "Did I get the dosage wr--"

His voice fell flat when Dean's eyes snapped open and pinned him where he was.

They stared at each other for a long moment, Dean inhumanly making absolutely no sound whatsoever, except for his screaming, anguished green eyes. Bobby marveled at his resolve, and his heart felt cold at the idea that this probably wasn't the first time the young hunter laid in bed in a room somewhere, biting his lip against his pain, lying still and unmoving, fearing to bother his father or his brother. Painfully constrained, soundless crying.

"Sorry if I woke you," Dean rasped, breaking the spell.

"What can I do?" Bobby whispered, as if they were going to be waking up anyone else.

Dean took a deep, shaky breath. "No offense, man. But you gotta leave me the fuck alone right now."


"It goes away in the morning," Dean whimpered, "I promise, it goes away. God, Bobby, just... I can't do this right now... Get the hell out..."

Can't face you. Can't pretend. Can't hide. Can't, can't bethis in front of you...

"You know where I'll be," Bobby said, his mouth dry, not knowing what else he could do for the younger man. Wanting to hold him or something and at the same time, wanting to respect him as a man, not understanding if there was some form of middle-ground.

He walked back to his own room, stared at the ceiling and and didn't fall asleep for hours.

Something woke him midmorning.

The sun was high up in the sky, and the suffering young hunter who looked like death the night before was leaning heavily against his doorframe, hair neatly combed and clothes fresh and changed. His eyes were bright, alert, fully in possession of himself again. He was holding out a steaming cup of coffee.

Appropriately overcompensating, Bobby concluded, which was oxymoron-ic, but also typically Dean. Again, Bobby had a feeling this was not the first time the younger man had dragged himself out of bed in a bid to look like he was fit for the rest of the day.

"You gonna sleep all day?" Dean grinned at him. His eyes were so damn clear that Bobby was tempted to believe he had just dreamed up last night's misery. But the smile shook at the corners as if the kid was losing his nerve, looking at Bobby expectantly, wanting him to join in on the charade. They weren't going to be talking about the night before, apparently.

It goes away in the morning, I promise it goes away?

... he hadn't just been talking about the pain.

"How long you been up?" Bobby asked, scratching the back of his head.

"Not long," Dean said, hobbling over to Bobby's bed. He grabbed at walls and tables and cabinets; it was a long road and the coffee sloshed in the cup but somehow, Bobby's floors were safe from spillage. Rumsfeld was following Dean around attentively.

"Break anything?" Bobby asked, when Dean offered it to him.

"I know how to fricking operate your coffee machine."

"I meant you know," Bobby said as he took a sip; the kid had a good hand with the coffee, "Your neck, your other leg, an arm... anything you got left that isn't busted, going down my stairs?"

"I feel good today."

Bobby looked at him, sidelong, measuring.

"I do!" Dean insisted, "I get all stiff in the car and when I'm in bed, anytime I stay still too long. I took my morning pills, got a bit of exercise in... I'm good."

"No more stairs today," Bobby ordered.

Dean looked like he wanted to argue. He licked his lips and wrestled with himself. He finally just nodded.

"You sure you got your medicines this morning?" Bobby asked.

"Yes, yes," Dean rolled his eyes, "I took 'em. Otherwise I'd be dead from the coffee run. I took 'em."

"Good," Bobby said, approvingly, "Now the hard part."

"You're not thinking of helping bathe me or something, are you?" Dean asked, wide-eyed, "'Cos--"

"I'm not fricking suicidal," Bobby said with a shrug, "I'm gonna have to look for something for you to do."

Bobby handed him a power tool, some screws, a metal handlebar from god knows where, some polish, and then deposited him on the cold tile of the upstairs bathroom.

"Make yourself a handlebar," the junkman ordered.

"You sure this is for me?" Dean smirked at him, grateful for the absorbing work, "Or for you in your old age?"

"Polish it good too," Bobby snapped, "And for god's sake, be careful with the power tool; tiles are a bitch to drill into."

"I think I can figure it out," Dean said with a sly grin.

"When that's sorted, then you can handle yourself taking a bath," Bobby said, triumphantly, "See? A reason for everything; it all works out."

"Maybe you could also ask the invalid to build you an elevator so you wouldn't need to haul me up the stairs," Dean said, sarcastically, "Build a ramp too, maybe a lift, an escalator, and other forms of inappropriate hard labor."

"What do you think of me, boy?" Bobby snapped, before giving him a wink, "That's for tomorrow."

Bobby did some repairs on an old Chevy at the yard, periodically checking on his patient/forced laborer every few hours. Dean whined about dying for a cool beer, and Bobby gave him water, crackers and his medicine instead. He pretended to mind, but did as he was told. Bobby cooked them a hearty lunch and fixed up a tray to bring up the stairs, humming absently to himself.

"You're awful quiet up there!" Bobby called out as he was going up the stairs, "I don't hear you working!"

He put the tray down on the floor just outside the bathroom and found Dean off the tiles and on his feet, already making good use of the newly-installed, shining metal handlebars. There was some blood on them; the kid must have nicked himself on something. He was standing by the sink, and the medicine cabinet was open in front of him.

"What the hell is all this?" Dean asked, his voice flat. The lightly-dripping, bloodied hand was forgotten as he stared at Bobby's little pharmacy. Rows and rows of orange prescription bottles stared back and mocked them both.

"They're yers," Bobby growled, shutting the mirrored cabinet, almost hitting the younger hunter's nose, "Got them from yer daddy's care package."

Dean turned to him, accusingly. "Yeah, and they're all probably Viagra, right? Jesus, Bobby. I saw your name on the damned things. Anything you wanna say? What is it, huh? And this shit-ass lying? You're scaring me here."

Bobby averted his eyes, "You know how old men are. There's a supplement for everything, and then there's a blood pressure thing, and one for the sugar and arthritis--"

"Bobby," Dean said, staring him down, "Look at me."

Dean could be so insistent, sometimes. His eyes burned through and through and through...

"What the hell is all this for?" Dean asked.

"You know how old men are," Bobby said, meeting his gaze, smiling sadly, "I'm dying, kid. When it's your time to go, it's just your time to go."

To be continued...