Hunter of the Shadows Book 2:
Combined with Epilogue.
Welcome to the final chapter, boys and girls!
This was written with certain people in mind who didn't want to see Sam regain his sight just yet, and because it was a great excuse to see Dean taking care of his blind brotherson.
Many, many thanks and big hugs go out to Phx for her beta work, along with devon99 for her faithful encouragement.
Tobius is the first to stop laughing, and glares at Andy.
Dean's laughter soon dies away.
The young werebear gulps noisily. He's clearly very uncomfortable with all this. And who wouldn't be? No one with a single ounce of common sense or sanity would attempt to pull three large werewolves into protective custody against their will.
"Uhuh," says Andy, and fidgets nervously. "See, when we got back from Mont. Noir, Bobby sent me to join my family. Mom, Dad and little sis were living with the werewolf home pack for their protection…"
"Well, yes. We've already established that," Tobius interrupts a little impatiently. "I told them to go there, for safety's sake."
Andy nods. "Yeah, and we appreciate that," he replies, softly, eyes bright with gratitude. "It's been great living in the forests. There are no humans to disturb us, and the pack… well, they're pretty cool."
Tobius pinches the bridge of his nose. "Yes, that's wonderful, but why is Lucas asking… no, demanding that we join him? For our protection no less?"
Andy shrugs. "Like I said, he didn't share that information with me. I'm not even sure how Bobby told Lucas about Pastor Jim."
"Probably worked a communication spell," Sam pipes up, blank silver eyes seeking out his friend.
"In that case," Dean muses, stretching out his legs and toeing another log into the fire. "Why didn't he contact us directly? Would've saved a whole lot of trouble."
"Um," Tobius looks shifty and glances at Dean. "Remember when you once asked me if this land was charmed in some way?"
Dean's eyes narrow. "Yeaaah?" He draws the word out, voice laden with suspicion.
"Well," his Sire replies with a wry grin. "It is... sort of." He sweeps a hand round, indicating the meadow, river and forest. "The place is riddled with ley lines and sometimes, when there's an over abundance, it can interfere with sorcery."
Sam frowns. "Aren't there usually ancient buildings involved with ley lines?"
"Burial mounds," his grandfather responds and gives Sam a gentle pat on the arm. "There are several scattered around here. The native American tribes were highly protective of this land, which is why they turned it over to me, lock, stock and barrel, way back before the Civil War."
There's a stunned silence, broken by a spluttering noise. Dean appears to be struggling for air.
"Y-you…" his head swivels around, eyes wide with awe. "You own the place? All of it?"
"The tribal chiefs knew I was a non-lunar, and were aware of my immortality, after I hunted down a lunar dependent for them. They'd lost several elders and children to that devil." Tobius shrugs and gazes at his son, eyes twinkling with amusement. "They saw the advantage of giving the land an immortal protector."
"Wow!" Sam whispers and leans forward a little. "That's quite an honour. Where are the tribes now?"
"Yes, it is. Naturally, I was very proud to accept," Tobius heaves a great sigh, filled with sadness. "As for the tribes? They're all long dead, though a few descendants still live in the cities. You see, although I was able to keep the tribes mostly safe from the rest of the world, a few problems did slip through the safety net. I'm afraid, even with werewolf strength and instincts, I was no match for a particularly virulent strain of tuberculosis." He clicks his tongue. "They were wiped out within a few weeks. But I kept my promise, continued to protect their home, and I will eventually settle here to keep up my vigil."
"That's incredible," Sam murmurs, hand blinding reaching out for Dean, who immediately grabs it up and rubs his fingers gently over Sam's knuckles.
Tobius smiles when he sees the gesture, but doesn't comment.
Andy clears his throat. Loudly. "So what now? Do we head out tonight? Or tomorrow?"
The pack alpha sighs again. "I suppose we'd better go and find out what the old fart wants with us," he casts Andy another glance. "Are you absolutely certain he never mentioned why? Not even by accident?"
"Nope, not a word," Andy replies with a head shake.
"Hmm. Didn't think so," says Tobius. "Wouldn't expect Lucas to make a slip up like that."
Dean glances at Sam with a good deal of concern. "Sammy? It's your call, dude. Do you feel up to a long journey just yet?"
Sam swallows hard and nods tentatively. "Might need a little help, though. I still can't see real good in wolf form, and someone's gonna have to carry all our stuff."
"No problem. You can carry the first aid supplies," Dean's grin is wide. "I can be your seeing eye dog."
That elicits a snort of laughter from the youngest werewolf.
"Well," Tobius yawns and stretches. "We're not going anywhere tonight. You, young man," he prods Andy with a finger. "Need to rest."
Dean picks up the camera and grins into the lens. "Guess we're gonna have to say good bye for now. See you in a few days."
The picture winks out and goes black.
It's almost a blackout, the picture a little fuzzy, until it becomes apparent that the lens is pointing at the night sky. In the next instant Dean is peering into the camera.
He does not look happy.
Just the opposite. He's pale, shaking and there's a glint of mad anger in his glowing green eyes.
He doesn't mess about. There's no jokes in this introduction. He just cuts to the chase…
We left the next morning after a full night's rest. It didn't matter whether we travelled by day or night so we weren't stressed about it. Sam carried the first aid supplies on his back, Sire carried the weapons, and Andy once again resumed his self-appointed tail-end Charlie position.
As for me?
Tobius had fashioned a harness and leash out of rope and so there I was, proudly leading my blind and helpless little brotherson through the forest. It was made easier with thought projection, with me able to point out where to step up, down or over, to avoid dips in the ground and fallen trees when the going got rough.
I looked up at Sam every few minutes, making sure he wasn't getting tired. The kid seemed fine for the first hour or so, but when he started stumbling clumsily along, I knew it was time for a break.
Tobius gently pushed Sam down onto a log and ordered him to sit and relax, whilst the rest of us scurried around, putting together a meal fit for three hungry wolves and a bear. Andy squealed like a delighted teenage girl when he found a patch of wild strawberries, which came as a relief. Wasn't sure what the hell we were gonna feed him, but then he seemed quite competent at foraging for his own food. Kid's a fast learner, I guess. Had to be, to have journeyed all the way out here to find us in the first place. It helped that we'd also brought along a few pieces of cooked fish, and though Andy preferred his fish raw and fresh from the river, he didn't complain once. Tobius went out on the prowl and returned half an hour later with a plump rabbit and a brace of wild duck.
The scent of hot duck fat was soon drifting through the trees, and had me licking my chops with appreciation. Sire cooked the duck until the skin was crispy, and even added some wild garlic and berries he'd found nearby.
I changed to human form for the meal so I could subtly help Sam with his food. Not that he couldn't help himself, but I sensed his apprehension over our journey. Kid needed a little reassurance without it being too obvious.
"Here ya go, Sam," I passed over a large dock leaf filled with the juicy, tender duck and berry compote (yeah, that's right! Compote. I'd added a new word to my vocabulary). "It's a little hot, still."
Sam nodded, shades reflecting the midday sun. His fingers confidently took the leaf from my grasp, felt his way around the edges, and tucked in to his food with relish. That made me feel a little better, but I could still sense the tension.
Nerves, I decided.
Sam was nervous about something.
I caught Sire's eye and jerked my chin in Sam's direction. He nodded and smiled.
"So, Sam," Tobius sat down after serving up a portion of the rabbit for himself. "Are you looking forward to meeting up with Cornelius again?"
Sam went very still and hung his head. "I-I guess," he whispered, sadly.
I put down my food and wrapped an arm round his shoulders, taking comfort in the feel of strong, well developed muscles. My beautiful son may have been blind, but otherwise he was in fine shape.
"Kiddo, what's wrong?" I gave him a gentle squeeze until he raised his head again.
"I'm just… uh… not sure how the home pack will react when they see me like… like this," Sam touched his shades, pointedly.
Sire pursed his mouth and slowly breathed out through his nostrils, eyes concerned and sympathetic. "Child, they'll be fine with you. Yes, they'll be worried and sad, but if you think that they'll reject you…"
Sam stiffened but said nothing. We had our answer.
"Aw, Sam…" I was at a loss for words. Sam's super smart, but there are times when his insecurities over-shadow his keen intellect and come up with what can only be described as an answer beyond ludicrous.
Andy had also stopped eating when the rest of us did, but hadn't said anything up until now. His brown eyes misted up as he gazed at his friend.
I don't think so, Sam, the werebear whispered. I mean, that's not the impression they gave me when they talked about you guys. They really love you. They won't let a little thing like being blind as a bat change their feelings towards you.
Both Sire and I winced. Tact? What's that mean when it's at home? Clearly Andy didn't know either!
To our astonishment, Sam spluttered and snorted loudly, and I realized he was actually laughing.
"Andy, don't ever enter the diplomatic corps." Tobius muttered, deadpan. "Your talents would be wasted."
Andy just shrugged, innocently. What did I say?
Lunch wasn't exactly rushed. We never rush our meals. It's far healthier to savour the food and enjoy it. So it was a little over two hours later before we were packed up and moving on again, Sire up front and Andy bringing up the rear. I continued to keep a strict watch on Sam. This was his first long trek since Jake nearly killed him, and I didn't want Sam to over do it.
We walked in a comfortable silence, which meant that I had plenty of time to reflect on a few things. I had questions that needed answers, but hadn't had the time or energy to sit down and talk about it with Father. What with Sam being so sick, and running into miserly motel owners, I guess my plate had been full up 'til now.
I thought back to the cemetery, Sam facing off against Jake, the fight, the sword… everything. I ran through it all in slo-mo, each image like a still picture, checking it over, looking to see what I'd done wrong, if there had been a way of doing it all differently to avoid Sammy being hurt so damn badly.
It was during this post mortem that one of those questions popped up in bright neon letters, demanding an answer and refusing to leave me alone.
Dean? Sam called, softly. You ok? You've been real quiet the last few miles.
Nothing much gets by him, blind or not.
Yeah. Just been thinking, is all.
Careful. You'll give yourself a migraine.
Can it, bitch!
Sam chuckled. Seriously. What's wrong?
My turn to chuckle. I pulled against the makeshift leash and bumped against his thigh. Seriously, nothing's wrong.
Ok. Sam sounded worried, and maybe even a little hurt. If you're sure.
Aw, c'mon Sammy. Nothing to worry about, I promise. Soon as I've got my head all figured out, I'll talk.
That seemed to mollify the kid for now, and he reached down, hand seeking my fur. A gentle scratch behind my ears had me grumbling in approval, and I leaned in close to him the rest of that afternoon.
But Sire looked back over his shoulder at me, curious and concerned. I shook out my mane and stared pointedly at him. He nodded, understanding the silent message: we would talk later, once Sam and Andy were fast asleep.
Around six o'clock Sam tripped over a tree root and sprawled out on the forest floor, groaning in discomfort.
Sam! You ok?
Y-yeah… uh, sorry.
Don't sweat it, kiddo.
Tobius had turned back the very second he heard Sam's sharp cry, whilst Andy bumped into the back of me. Sire knelt down and grasped Sam's arm, carefully pulling him to his feet.
You're tired, pup, his grandfather gazed at him, and kindly stroked back a stray lock of hair from Sam's face. Let's take a break. We've plenty of food left over from lunch. We'll eat, perhaps grab a few hours sleep, and walk a little further later on.
I guess so. Sam nodded gratefully, shoulders slumped in weary defeat when Sire removed the back pack from him.
The fact he wasn't even attempting to argue, told us just how tired he really was.
Sorry, Sam. We should have stopped earlier I whined softly, and pushed my nose into his hand.
Nah. S'ok. Sam, feeling his way, carefully dropped to the ground and leaned his back up against a tree. Tobius smiled and set about fixing a cold dinner.
Andy, without saying a word, gently pulled Sam away from the tree, lay down behind him, and allowed Sam to use him as a giant bear-pillow. I snuggled up against my son, licked his chin, and just lay there, contentedly puffing through my snout.
Dinner was another two hour affair, after which a somewhat fresher Sam changed and romped around a little, stretching out his legs, paws scrabbling at the forest floor, and squinting through his silver pupils.
Feeling better there, champ? I flicked him in the face with my tail.
Sam lunged into attack posture, body low, ass all stuck up in the air, his own tail wagging from side to side.
He pounced without warning, rolling me over and over, until I lay, belly up, and gazing at him, fondly.
Not so tired now, huh?
I've woken up a little.
So I see…
He snorted and jumped back, waiting for me to seek revenge.
I didn't disappoint. If Sam was fit to play then I was only too happy to oblige the kid.
I howled long and loud, and jumped right in.
Sire seemed content to just watch us with a fond smile, whereas Andy was already snoozing peacefully away.
We dodged, weaved and ran through the trees, the setting sun warm on our backs. Only once or twice did I have to stop Sam from running headlong into a tree. His eyesight in wolf form hadn't improved, that much I knew, but his coordination and confidence were growing all the time.
Eventually, we both gave it up for the evening and headed back to our tiny camp. Sire was leaning back against a fallen log, waiting for us. His shrewd eyes were narrowed slightly, watching Sam as he slumped down next to Andy and huffed.
Ready for some rest, pup?
Sam snuffled and let his eyes drift shut. I am now. What time do you want to get moving again?
Sire raised an eyebrow. Let's get a good four hours sleep, then we'll see how we all feel.
Ok. The kid yawned widely, but was asleep before his mouth was even fully closed.
"Now," Sire murmured quietly. "What did you want to ask me?"
I blinked, sat up, and quickly changed. "What makes you think I want to ask anything specifically?"
"Are you going to do that all night?" Sire inquired, sounding amused.
"Do what?" I asked, in genuine bafflement.
"Answer a question with a question."
"Oh," I shrugged and pulled at a blade of grass. "No."
"Good. Then by all means, ask away…"
I took a breath, then just came out with it.
"Back at Mont. Noir, when Sam and Jake were fighting," I glanced at Tobius. "We were all pinned to the rocks. But when Sammy got stabbed, I managed to break free… I just can't figure out how. I mean, even when Azazel confronted us and tried to force his blood on Sam, I wasn't pinned."
"Hmm," Sire reached up and picked a piece of food out from his lower teeth. "Yes, I've been wondering about that, too." He smiled. "I have a theory, if you're interested?"
"Of course," I rolled my eyes at his teasing. "And no stalling!"
Father pressed a hand to his chest and batted his eyelashes. "Would I?"
"Yes!" I growled. "You would!"
He laughed softly. "Fair enough."
Sire settled more comfortably against his tree. "I think that your anger, fear and love for Sam broke you free of Jake's influence. When you saw that weapon enter Sam's body, it flipped something inside of you, something potent and dangerous. I suppose you could say that, like Sam, you have psychic switches of your own. Sam is the trigger."
"Huh," I answered, not knowing what else to say, but it certainly made sense.
"What also helped, I suspect, is the emotional upheaval your body has been undergoing on the run up to your prime," he waved his hands in a vague gesture. "The best analogy I can think of is to compare it to a human child going through puberty. Hormones are all over the place, hair growing in strange places, in the case of girls the breasts are developing, in the case of boys it's the testes that are the focus, wet dreams…"
I was growing steadily more disgusted, but that last one was just too much.
"Alrightalrightalright!" I held up a hand. "That's enough. I went through it not so long ago, I don't need a reminder!"
Tobius, bastard extraordinaire, snorted with laughter. "You see my point, then?"
"Right, well there you are," but he paused, and watched me closely, face turning serious. "But there's something else to consider. Your blood bond with Sam is unique and special. Given that there are no other werewolves quite like you two, it's a little hard to know for sure, but I strongly believe that must have been a major contributing factor."
That gave me pause for thought. It hadn't even crossed my mind.
"Or," something else had occurred to me. "Maybe it was Sam all along."
Sire was already shaking his head. "If that were the case then we would all have gotten free."
"What about Azazel?" I asked, frowning as I thought it through. "Could our bond, combined with my approaching prime, have been strong enough to break his hold over me?"
"I'm afraid that's an even murkier issue," Sire explained and smiled apologetically. "From the way he was goading you, backing towards the tree, I'd have to say no. He wanted you free… to open the hell door."
Yeah. I could see where he was coming from. That did raise a few questions. But what Tobius said next sent a ripple of worry through me.
"Something escaped in that moment," Sire watched me closely yet again. "I saw it. Between opening the door, and cutting down the tree. Those black shades? They were souls. And I have a nasty suspicion that's what Lucas wants to talk to us about."
"You think they have something to do with the attack on Pastor Jim," I stared back at him.
Tobius' mouth twisted in the affirmative, but he wouldn't discuss it any further.
"We'll wait to speak with Lucas before we make any more assumptions, yes? Let's get some sleep, pup. Long journey ahead of us."
Sire let us all sleep for a total of eight hours, and we all woke up refreshed and ready to chow down on the left over food. Andy sniffed out a natural spring gushing with cool, sweet tasting pure water, and we drank eagerly, quenching our thirst.
There's several of these along the way, Andy informed us.
How much further, Andy? Sam asked, nibbling and licking at his fur, then hunkered down to engage in a session of furiously cleaning his paws.
Another two day trek. And Lucas is bringing the home pack to meet us.
That was pretty nice of him; moving the entire pack halfway across the wilderness just for us? But then I guess he'd heard about Sam's injuries.
So we were faced with another two days of the same.
Not much to report here. We followed a routine of hiking for three or four hours, catching whatever food happened to be hopping, bounding, or leaping by, and resting up.
It was just after five in the morning a few days later, when we caught the scent of non-lunars. They were watching us, making sure we were alone and not being followed. Not especially strange behaviour, but I could tell Tobius was curious about it.
They're extremely wary, for some reason.
Tobius insisted on sitting tight and letting them come to us when they were ready. It didn't take long. Within half an hour of arriving, a large wolf padded slowly into our little camp, carrying a large Canada goose in its mouth, probably a welcome gift.
I grinned when I recognized him. Have you been sleeping in a grow bag? Jeez, kid! You've shot up like a weed!
Cornelius spat out the goose, and sneezed. Goose feathers clung comically to his snout, and he sneezed again.
Another loud sneeze later, and he shook his head and scowled.
I heard Tobius' soft rumble of laughter, and the young wolf bowed respectfully to our pack alpha.
Sire returned the gesture, graciously.
Cornelius finally settled his gaze on Sam, who seemed to sense the scrutiny because he ducked his head. He was still in human form and I wondered if he was going to change.
But Sam just stood there without saying a word or moving. The home pack beta trotted up to the kid and nudged him gently with his muzzle, as if to say Please talk to me?
Sam reached down with a shaky hand and ran it through the beta's fur.
Hi. Uh… you're looking well.
Cornelius tilted his head to the side and studied Sam. With a soft woof, he licked Sam's hand and changed into human form.
"Sam, my dear brother," concerned blue eyes searched Sam's face. "I heard what happened. Are you alright?"
Sam took off the shades and revealed his silver eyes. Cornelius, to his credit, didn't flinch or even gasp. The only display of shock was a slight frown.
"No," Sam whispered, a tear slipping down his cheek. "I'm not alright. I'm blind, Cornelius. And we don't know if it's permanent."
With barely a pause, Cornelius enfolded Sam in a hug, and I heard his whispers of encouragement, just as two more wolves moved into the camp. From their scent, I gathered it was Lucas and Victoria. The looks on their faces and the sad eyes told me they'd heard Sam's declaration.
We're so sorry, Sam, Lucas murmured, and glanced at his mate.
Victoria nodded and trotted over to the youngsters. Rearing up on hind legs, she pushed her snout into Sam's face and licked away his tears. A quick change and Victoria's long black hair was falling gracefully down to her waist.
C'mon, sweetheart, let's get back to the others. I've a nice venison roast with apples and wild potatoes that'll be ready in a little while. Lucas has brewed some mead, so come and tell us all about your adventures. We've all been worried about you, my love, but you're safe here, no one's going to hurt you… she held both his hands and, backing slowly away, led him towards the smell of roasting meat and the sound of happy voices. Her gentle ministrations and calming words had the desired effect, and not just on Sam. We were all beginning to relax and we followed on, except for Lucas and Sire.
I sensed they had their own reunion in the making, but I caught a few words before we left them to it.
So… you finally made it, eh? Long time no see, Tobius, you old fool!
Tobius snorted. The only fool here is you, you old git! Last time we saw each other, you were busy munching on the foot of a German Gestapo officer!
I seem to recall it was you who got us caught by Gerry in the first place, Lucas countered and snorted right back you unbearable wolf!
You're the one who tripped over his own feet, you clumsy, insufferable oaf…
And so it went on, an exchange of insults and good natured bickering. I shook my head and trotted alongside human Cornelius. Andy lumbered along contentedly, his huge furry bear ass wobbling with each step. I guess he was looking forward to seeing his own family again.
Campfires blazed away and werewolves lounged around chatting and laughing, but two bears appeared at a high speed gallop, and a small cub scampered at their side. Andy was swept into a series of hugs, motherly kisses and fatherly back rubbing. The little bear cub pawed at her big brother, whimpering playfully until he bent his head and licked at her little snout. With a soft snort, Andy picked her up and settled her wriggling form in his arms.
He gazed down at his baby sister with every sign of love.
It's good to be back, little one.
In the meantime, Sam was being coaxed closer to the largest fire, a thick blanket wrapped round his shoulders, and a wooden mug pushed gently into his hands. He took a small sip and the tension eased the rest of its way out of his body.
Mead, huh Sam? Your favourite.
He actually smiled.
Yeah. Sam took another sip and sighed, blinking slowly. Already he was a little tipsy. S'great stuff.
Just don't drink too much before dinner, Sam. Don't want you falling asleep in the gravy!
He perked up a little, but his words were already slurred. S'mon mention fooood? M'hungry…
I laughed and curled up around him, supporting his tired, slumping body. Cornelius sat down cross-legged next to us, whilst Victoria filled two more wooden mugs with the delicious mead. She set one in front of me, and the other in front of Cornelius.
The other beta grinned from ear to ear. "This is the life, huh? Let the women do all the work, waiting on us hand and foot… Just as it's supposed to be!"
Dude, you are so gonna pay for that! I chuckled when his blue eyes twinkled at me.
Victoria, the very epitome of grace, didn't dignify that with an answer, just raised an amused eyebrow and accidentally on purpose splashed a little mead in his face as she passed us by.
Cornelius spluttered, but decided to be philosophical about it and gleefully licked the liquid off his nose. "I guess I deserved that."
I glanced around No Matthew and Logan tonight?
"They're around," he replied. "But we tried to keep them away tonight, of all nights..." his blue eyes gleamed, knowingly.
I was tempted to ask what he knew, but... he's home pack, a beta just like me, but of a much larger pack with a slightly different kind of governance. If our rules seem stringent to you, then these guys might take you to some extremes.
A hand groped clumsily at my ears and began stroking them.
Heya Sammy. How ya feeling?
Gooood! Wan'foood… hungry…
Coming right up, sweetheart, a smiling Victoria reappeared, carrying several large platters of venison, apples and potatoes, all soaked in a rich fruit gravy and giving off a scent that made me drool all over Sam's arm. Not that he noticed. Sam was too busy sniffing the air, and blindly reaching out for his food in a way that made my heart break just a little. It put me in mind of his desperate hunger just after I turned him, many years ago.
Easing away from him, I changed and picked up the nearest platter. Guiding his hand carefully to the platter, I let him hold it and instructed him on where the meat was, and which were the potatoes and the apples.
No problem, buddy.
The Irish werewolf, who had struck up the song and dance on our first home pack visit, sung a gentle ballad in a duet with Victoria whilst we ate. I smiled when the guy tipped his head to me and gave a small salute.
Will we have ya up and dancing again this night?
Laughing, I replied Not likely, Patrick. Maybe another time, huh?
I indicated Sam's sleepy form, chewing away at his food.
Patrick pointed at me with a wry grin. I'll be holding you to that, so I will!
It hadn't escaped my notice that Sire and Lucas had yet to put in an appearance, but I let it go – they hadn't seen each other in so long, I figured they were entitled to some time alone to catch up. So we just sat by the fire, eating, drinking and listening to folk ballads. From time to time I checked that Sam was eating ok, and as soon as his platter was empty I got up and refilled it without asking.
The venison was superb, unsurprisingly, and went well with the mead. The mead itself seemed a little stronger than I remembered, with a richer, deeper honeyed taste.
As another hour crawled by I began to wonder about seeking out Tobius, making sure he got something to eat before all the food was gone.
Decision made, I touched Sam's wrist. I'm just gonna take Sire some food, ok Sam? I won't be long, I promise.
Sure. Sam blinked lazily, and I figured it wouldn't be long before he was out for the count.
Want anymore food before I go?
A minute or so later, armed with two fresh platters of the aromatic venison, I made my way out of the camp, and followed my nose...
Looking back? I really, really, fucking wished I hadn't. It was no way to find out something like that. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I wanted to know at all.
They were seated at the edge of the forest, side by side in human form, and looking out across the mountains. The low murmur of voices ensured that they were so deep in conversation that they hadn't heard my movements. The fact that they hadn't even caught my scent, or that of the food, told me this was a serious conversation and not for the feint of heart. But, ya know, I figured I could handle that, being pack beta and all…
Their voices grew louder, heated, angry, though it sounded as though they weren't angry with each other as such.
"He's certain?" Tobius said, sharply.
"Oh yes, he was certain alright," replied Lucas, his smooth voice quiet and worried.
"Dammit! I knew there would be repercussions, but not this. Anything but this! The boys will be devastated."
That sure sealed the deal for me. I was definitely down with the whole eaves dropping shenanigans, no matter it went completely against protocol.
"I know, and I'm sorry Tobius," Lucas offered, quietly. "I wish there was something I could do..."
"They've both been through so much, the last thing they need is that bastard showing up in their lives again," Tobius continued as though Lucas hadn't spoken.
My breathing became short and sharp, and I felt like I wasn't getting enough air. This didn't sound good. Who were they talking about? Had Azazel shown up again? Had I not killed him back at Mont. Noir after all? Or perhaps Jake had survived against all odds.
I wasn't prepared. Not at all. Not for what Tobius said next…
"I take it John Winchester went after Pastor Jim with the intention of finding Sam and Dean?"
Both non lunar alphas were on their feet, swinging round to face me, and the two platters I'd brought for them hit the ground. Venison, potatoes and apples littered the forest floor, unnoticed.
Dean… Sire reached for me, but I backed away, almost tripping over. Tobius was faster, however, grabbing my arm and righting me. Calm down, pup. Just breathe nice and slow.
I wasn't panicking, but my anger sure was going for a burn.
"How can he be back?" I virtually screamed it out. "He's dead! I watched you kill him!"
"I know, my son, I know," Sire muttered soothingly. But whatever else he had to say, it appeared to be causing him a lot of pain, because he opened and shut his mouth several times, shaking his head.
"Your Sire told me about the hell door," Lucas spoke up at that point, his Scottish brogue filling in where Tobius had left off. "Apparently, John told Pastor Jim that you were the one who let him out that night, and he sought desperately for a body to possess. You were all protected in some form or other, whether by the humans carrying protection tattoos, or you boys by virtue of being weres. He scarpered that night, went out to find a host. But he's back, alright. I'm afraid your former human father is now a demon."
I bit my bottom lip bloody, only vaguely registering that new piece of information. I hadn't known that weres couldn't be possessed. Regardless, I wasn't comforted.
"And now he's after us, right?" I stared at Sire. "That's what you were going to say."
Tobius closed his eyes in despair when Lucas murmured a quiet "Yes."
I was shaking from head to toe, eyes wide with fear and anger. "So what do we do now?" I forced out from between gritted teeth.
"You'll stay with us for the time being," Lucas answered before Sire could open his mouth. "We're safe out here…"
"No! That's naïve thinking and you know it!" Sire finally barked out. "I won't put you and your family in danger like that!"
"You don't have a choice, Tobius," Lucas stated in reasonable tone of voice. "Your youngest is still recovering from a life threatening injury, not to mention he's still blind. You're too vulnerable at the moment. All of you."
He was right about that part, but neither Tobius nor I liked it.
"We'll keep you safe, on the move, and we won't stay in one place longer than a night or two," Lucas insisted, a little more forcefully by now, though it was unnecessary. I could sense Tobius was about to give in. And that, was unacceptable.
It was my duty as beta to point out the pitfalls, and the plain fact was, I knew John better than anyone.
"No…" I backed away again, my voice rising in volume with each breath. "I'm not gonna just sit by and let that bastard possess and torture everyone he comes across, until he finds us! And he will! John Winchester was an asshole, but he was also one of the best hunters and trackers around. If he wants us, then he's coming, and there's nothing we can do to stop him!"
I pointed a shaky finger at Lucas, lowering my voice. "And now you say he's a demon? He's been in hell all this time? Let me tell you something… I knew that man! He won't stop at us. If he finds you protecting us, he'll tear your pack apart! Every single member of your family will die!"
The three of us just stood there, ears ringing in the aftermath of my rant.
Tobius shook his head and made a small clicking noise with his tongue.
"I think you have your answer, my old friend," he said to Lucas with quiet dignity.
And this is why he's not only a good guy, but an even better pack alpha, 'cos he listens to his beta, even if said beta was on the verge of hysteria.
It was a subdued walk back to the camp, no one saying a word. I could tell that Lucas wanted to protest again, God love 'im, but he's a smart wolf. The home pack alpha knew we'd made up our minds and nothing was gonna shift us. Lucas also knew that we were right, and no way could he, in all good conscience, put his pack at risk, even for us.
Now, all we had to do was break the news to Sammy…
I didn't know if I was capable of that just yet. I was still shaking, still angry, and scared as hell for my son's life once again.
A hand on my shoulder made me look up from my fervent examination of the ground. Tobius smiled sadly. "I can tell him, if you prefer."
But he already knew the answer to that.
"No. It should be me. I didn't stop John hurting him all those years ago, but he needs to know that this time I will. One way or another."
Sire said nothing but held something out to me. It was my digital video camera.
Huh. Not a bad idea…
Dean's still looking pale and angry, but he's no longer shaking, having taken therapy by ranting at his digital watcher.
"We seem to have gone from one uncertain future to another. When I heard that name, it felt like the world had come tumbling down around me. Just when we're getting back into the groove, feeling safe and secure, someone comes along and pulls the rug right out from under us," he shakes his head and sighs. "That guy hurt him so bad... cruelly abused and neglected him. I can still see that poor kid from way back then, standing outside the motel room the day we rescued him from John Winchester, skinny as hell, bruised up and almost starving to death, barely healed broken bones…" he gulps, and takes a long hard breath "how the hell do I tell Sammy that he's back?"
There's a gasp from out of shot, and the camera whirls around with Dean's sudden movements.
Sam is clinging to a tree, barely holding himself up, silver eyes gleaming with tears.
"Sammy…" Dean calls out, voice anguished.
"Nonono…" Sam whispers, shaking his head, his whole body quivering.
But the digital watcher is in for a surprise.
Dean steps forward to help him, but the kid pulls himself up and away, out of arms reach. He's blinking rapidly, and standing on his own two feet.
Sam's clearly in shock, yes, but it's not fear he's feeling…
"I'm gonna kill him," he says slowly, his voice deep and cold, body changing as the wolf takes its cue.
It's sheer, unadulterated fury.
The End of Book 2.
Hope you all enjoyed that, and that the ending didn't creep up on you too much. As I might have told some of you, I have decided on a third book. Can't really leave our boys hanging like that, with a demonic John Winchester after them, eh?
Who knows what will happen, but not all is as it seems…
Gonna be taking a break over the summer to concentrate on some other story ideas that are a little more… canon.
Plus, I still have puppy Nelson, who needs a lot of attention before he rips apart my tomato plants!
Cheers darlings. I've really enjoyed all your wonderful support.
Big Dean hugs and Sammy kisses to you all.
Love ST xxx