"Chapter Eight: Shots Heard Around the World"
Caleb wiped the back of his hand against his sweet-drenched forehead and bangs. Stepping back, he used the tip of the shovel to pry open the casket. The stench that emitted into the air was nearly unbearable. Caleb gagged openly, climbing out of the grave to allow Bobby to salt the corpse.
With his sleeve over his mouth, Bobby poured the salt and gasoline into the grave before bravely taking away the barrier from his noise and mouth. He swiped a match on his matchbook and dropped the stick into the grave. The body instantly burst into flames as the stench grew at an alarming rate. Caleb turned around, his eyes watering from the smell.
"If this doesn't fucking work, I'll be so pissed at you," snapped Caleb.
"Calm down, cowboy," Bobby growled.
The flames licked the decaying body, the burning flesh odor growing rapidly. When they were sure the body was completely ash, Caleb started to shovel the dirt back into the hole. He silently prayed that this would work.
They rushed back to the ranch, their hopes high and arms aching. Caleb entered the house first, spotting Dean and Sammy on the couch watching Fraggle Rock. Both their heads snapped towards the entryway, eyes wide and curious. Forcing a tight smile, Caleb nodded in their direction before rushing towards the bedroom.
John was still handcuffed to the bedframe, his head lolling to the side. The bruises still resided under his unnaturally pale face. His lips were nearly invisible. He looked miserable, looked on the brink of death. Caleb's heart sank.
"It didn't work," he breathed sardonically.
The pastor looked up at him, words failing to form on his tongue. Bobby entered the room. At one look at John, he took off his trucker hat and ran a frustrated hand through his graying hair.
Later that night, Jim leaned back against the armoire, his eyes drooping shut. John was across from him, his wrists still handcuffed together around the wooden bedpost. Lying on the bed in a fetal position, sound asleep, was Caleb Lyons. Sitting at the foot of the bed, with his back resting comfortably against the wall was Bobby Singer. A book was open in his lap.
It was unnecessary to have three hunters watching out for the suicidal man ailing from a ghost attack, but it made everyone feel a little bit better. Plus, Jim knew that himself and Bobby would get little sleep that night. When the salt and burn of the body had failed to cure him, it brought the jolting realization that death might be around the corner. Nobody felt like sleeping or giving up when John's death would mean Dean and Sammy would be orphans and taken away from them.
John shifted in his spot, his raw wrists scraping against the metal. A wince crossed his graying features. His stark white lips parted as jagged breaths escaped. Bluish purple circles illuminated under his dull eyes in the moonlit that seeped through the window. Bobby said they didn't have much longer to save him. He gave them two days maximum before John was going to croak.
"HELP!" a shout resonated through the tiny house that belonged to the eldest Winchester.
The shout had jolted Jim out of his musing, had caused Caleb to shoot up into a sitting position, has caused Bobby to toss his book onto the comforter. Then, there was a loud crash. A bloodcurdling cry, which could only have been from the youngest Winchester, followed. Bobby was off the bed in two seconds with a revolver clenched at his side. Another scream, from Dean no doubt, sounded and Jim was up and rushing towards the door.
"SAM! DEAN!" John shouted weakly, his arms tugging at the handcuffs that bound him to his spot.
Rounding the corner, Jim saw Bobby standing in the boys' bedroom with his gun drawn. Before he could even blink, there were two shots fired. They echoed in the ranch house, sent shivers down his spine. Jim faltered in his stride, not quite believing what was occurring.
Out of nowhere, Jim was pushed against the wall as Caleb ran past him and entered the bedroom. The slam against the wall was enough to make Jim's legs start to move again. Peering into the doorway, the pastor felt as though all of the air had been knocked out of his lungs.
Two men were lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Underneath the one hunter was Sammy Winchester. He was covered in blood and crying out for his dad and big brother. Caleb untangled the child from the dead body and clenched him tightly in his arms. Dean sat on the carpet, shell-shocked as his eyes darted in-between the two bodies.
"Dean!" snapped Caleb.
This was enough to get the kid to snap out of his trance. Struggling to stand up on shaky legs, his eyes never leaving the still bodies, he made his way to Caleb. Immediately, the hunter wrapped a free arm around the kid and pulled him close to his chest. His hand rested on the side of Dean's face and tried to block his gaze from the floor.
"Caleb, get them out of here!" shouted Jim harsher than he intended to.
The young hunter tugged Dean to follow him. Sammy rested on his hip, his face buried into the folds of his T-shirt. The youngest Winchester was shaking like a leaf, muffled cries escaping his lips. Once the three were through the threshold, Jim stepped forward.
"These were the hunters who were friends with Rhodes and Everett," Jim commented as he crouched down beside one to check for a pulse.
"They were going to kidnap Dean and Sammy," Bobby voiced the common opinion.
The first hunter was dead. Moving to the second one, he felt a faint pulse. Jim looked up at the younger hunter. The moral thing to do would be to call an ambulance and try to save the man's life. Except, Jim could hear John screaming for his children in the other room. It was distracting enough to make him want to let the hunter die.
"Do you know them?"
"Dante Evans and Jason Norman," Bobby supplied. "I've met them a few times at the Saltbox."
The Saltbox was a bar for hunters – akin to the Roadhouse. The only difference between the two places was that the Roadhouse was meant to enable hunters to form friendships and make connections meanwhile the Saltbox was meant to enable hunters to get drunk and meet one night stands. Usually the degenerates and loners wound up in at the Saltbox. Bobby would go from time to time to seek out unlikely hunting allies. Jim could not complain. It was good to have a variety of alliances.
"They have a history of kidnapping kids?"
"No, but they have a tendency to protect their own at any cost," replied Bobby dryly.
Jim closed his eyes, his forefinger and thumb squeezing the bridge of his nose. He tried to block out Sammy's cries and John's screaming. Without looking at Bobby, he spoke.
"Call 911," demanded Jim in a soft tone as he pulled off his flannel shirt and applied pressure to the gunshot wound.
"Excuse me?" asked Bobby.
"Call an ambulance. Tell them that two men broke into my house, tried to kidnap the children I was watching, and were shot. The one is still alive and the other one is long dead. Then, grab John and handcuff him in my hunting office in the basement of the church," the pastor clarified.
"You're shitting me, right?" snapped Bobby. "I pulled the freakin' trigger! I'm the one going down, not you!"
"You're protected," the pastor reasoned as he applied as much pressure as he could to the wound. "Minnesota has a very liberal castle law."
"What about hunters? We let the cops know, then the whole fucking hunting community is going to be riding our asses for the rest of our lives! Hell, I might as well take John out back and put him down like a dog, because he's as good as dead this way!"
Jim sighed. He had to get the man help. He couldn't, with a clear conscious, just let him bleed out. On the other hand, he understood Bobby's point of view.
"Is that gun registered?"
"You think I'm an idjit and would actually register my guns?" snapped Bobby.
"Good, I was hoping you would say that. Call Hamilton Slane and have him get that gun transferred into my name. Tell him I need it yesterday."
Hamilton Slane was a hunter who came from a long line of hunters. Some even said he was somehow related to Samuel Colt. Whether that was true or not, Hamilton never said. He kept his family and his personal life secret. The one thing about Hamilton, however, was that he could forge documents like a pro and get those documents into the right databases quickly. Some said he was teaching his boys the tricks of the trade to give them an edge if they ever got into trouble.
"Tell Caleb to call 911 and tell them what happened. Have him tell the operator that I was the one who shot the intruders. Have him talk to Dean and Sammy. They need to say their dad is out of town on business and they're staying with me. They need to know that Caleb was just passing through to see them when their dad was gone. Meanwhile, you get John in my office and stay there with him. You were never here."
"That's fine and dandy, but those hunters will still go after you, Caleb, and the boys!"
"This ends here and now," commented Jim in an even tone as he stared at the dying body in front of him.
"How do you expect to do that?" questioned Bobby dryly.
"We send out a warning to all hunters," the pastor replied. "That warning is that if you come after us, you will regret it."
Bobby glanced over at the pastor with a scoff of disbelief lodged in his throat. The pastor might have been a popular and beloved figure in the hunting community, but he would not be able to instill the fear of consequence into damaged hunters. They would eat him alive.
"Don't you kind of think a warning would be counterproductive?" snapped Bobby in a harsh whisper. "It will only cause things to be worse."
"In prison, other inmates always try to hurt or murder the child molesters and child killers," Jim matched the hushed tone. "Two hunters that shot and nearly killed a ten year old boy are dead. Now, another two hunters tried to kidnap two children and they ended up dead. If I come out and make it clear that these hunters were harming children, a majority of the hunters are going to side with me."
"I don't doubt that when it comes to kids, people have a soft spot. Except, killing a clique of hunters and claiming it was because they were harming children… there are those who aren't going to give two fucks because they think you're just lying and will come after you and everyone else in full force."
"Do you know how many hunters I have trained over the years, Robert?" the pastor reeled around. "I'll give you a hint, it wasn't just you."
"You think because you've trained a lot of hunters that you're a king or something?"
"I've trained more hunters than I can count. I have paired up countless rookies with experienced hunters. You ask any hunter you meet and they know me. They will listen to what I have to say and they will follow. I can damn well guarantee you that no hunter will bother the Winchesters again."
"Yeah, good luck with that, Jim," snapped Bobby before exiting the room.
Meanwhile, in the living room, Dean and Sammy were huddled on the couch on either side of Caleb. The youngest Winchester was crying something awful, begging to see his dad. Dean was frozen in Caleb's side, his eyes wide with fear. He blinked a few times, seemingly trying to escape the shock that his body was processing.
"I want my dad!" screamed Sammy, tears pouring down his cheeks, as John's screams echoed throughout the house. "Daddy!"
As though a bolt of lightning hit him square in the chest, Dean jolted away from Caleb. He reached out his arms to his kid brother who climbed over Caleb's lap and wrapped his limbs around his sibling.
"I want Daddy, Dean," he continued to wail.
"Caleb!" Bobby snapped from across the room.
The younger hunter left the couch to talk to Bobby. Dean only held his brother in his arms, his eyes wide as saucers and lip trembling slightly. He buried his face into his brother's messy locks as he rubbed his back.
"I know, but Dad's sick and we can't see him," reasoned Dean.
"I want Daddy! I don't want you!" cried Sammy as he struggled in his brother's embrace.
"Sammy, stop!" he pleaded as his grip tightened around his brother. "Please, I need you, okay?"
Sam stopped squirming, his cries mixing with hiccups as he wiped his nose on his brother's t-shirt. For once, Dean didn't even care. The motion only made him grip his kid brother tighter.
"Dad can't always be there for you," he whispered, "but I always will be. When you can't have Dad, you have me."
Dean didn't know how long he held his brother. He was only broken out of his trance when Caleb was suddenly crouching beside the couch, his hand resting on Sammy's shoulder and giving it a little squeeze. His eyes met Dean and immediately he understood. It was time to hear their cover story, time to be told what to tell the authorities who were most likely on their way.
"Listen to your brother, Sammy," Caleb added. "You have the best big brother there ever was. Most aren't always there for their brothers when they need someone. You got a good one."
"Yeah," agreed Sammy through his hiccups. "I love you, Dean."
"Dude, don't be such a girl," replied Dean with a shaky smile.
"Listen, both of you, quickly," Caleb demanded their attention. "Your dad's out of town on business. Bobby was never here. Pastor Jim was the one who shot those dicks, okay?"
Dean nodded in understanding, but Caleb paid no attention. He knew the older Winchester understood the routine. It was Sammy he was worried about. Moving his hand to the kid's chin, he gently tugged his face to look at him.
"Daddy's out of town, Bobby was never here, Pastor Jim shot the men," he replied.
"Good. You two stay put, I gotta call 911."
Dean continued to hold his brother close to his chest. Suddenly, he realized he could no longer hear his father screaming. Most likely, Bobby took him out the back door so they wouldn't see him.
"So," started Dean, "there were these two kids named John and Jude. They were not only brothers but also best friends. They did everything together and told each other everything…."
The next few hours seemed to be the longest hours of the young Winchesters' lives. Caleb stayed with them in the living room the entire time. The police officers questioned them about what happened. They watched the two body bags being reeled out. Sammy cried when he saw the bags, his arms latching around his big brother's neck. After what seemed like forever, they were finally allowed to get cleaned up and go to bed.
Sammy was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. All of the excitement had tired him out. Dean, however, could not welcome sleep. He lay on his side with his little brother's back flush against his chest. An arm lay lazily over the kid's side. Behind Dean lay Caleb who could not find sleep either. He was lying on his back, his forearm resting against his forehead. He stared at the popcorn ceiling lost in his thoughts. They were only broken when Dean rolled on his back, his arm still caught under the slight weight of Sammy.
"Do you think those hunters would have killed us?" questioned Dean in a serious tone that did not belong to an eleven year old.
"Probably," Caleb answered honestly. "Usually when people get kidnapped, it's not for anything happy."
"The one guy told me if I made a sound or fought back, he'd kill Sammy on the spot. I did it anyways. You think he would have killed Sammy if Bobby didn't get there so quickly?"
"You did the right thing," Caleb said as he turned on his side to face the kid. "If they would have taken you out of this house, your chances for survival would have decreased dramatically. We might have never found you two again. You always fight. You never comply with demands and you never let yourself get tied up. You fight like you're taking your last fucking breath. If you fight at the beginning, you have a chance to survive. You comply and wait around, you would only survive based on pure, dumb luck."
Dean nodded, a frown etched deeply into his face. Fight: it was what his father always said to do. He instilled in Dean that you have to fight for what you want - that you can never just lie down and have good things happened. That's why Dean fought off the attackers, why he screamed for help. He had to fight, not only for his life, but for Sammy's life as well.
"Is my dad going to die?"
"The salt and burn failed," commented Caleb with a frown. "Bobby and I are going to the parents' house tomorrow to see if they have anything of his that might need burned too."
"If there isn't?"
"Then we'll cross that bridge when we get there, Debbie Downer."
"If it doesn't work… if my dad dies… what happens to me and Sammy?" Dean swallowed a lump in his throat. "Will they separate us?"
"Dude, your dad's not going to die. If by some slim chance he does, you two would live with Jim or Bobby or me or whoever the hell you guys wanted to live with. You'd never be separated."
"You'd take in me and Sammy?"
"In a fucking heartbeat, motherfucker."
A small smirk worked its way onto Dean's lips. As quickly as it came, it left even faster. A frown worked its way into his forehead.
"Luckily, I won't have to," Caleb said in an even tone. "If anyone can find out what's still linking that spirit to your dad, it's Bobby. He's like the whisperer of everything supernatural."
"Dad hates Bobby," replied Dean.
"I know he does. It's stupid and childish. On the other side of that coin, however, your dad trusts him. He thinks he's a damn fine hunter and would trust you guys' life with him. They're both just stubborn and don't agree with each other on a number of issues."
Dean nodded, his eyes drooping slightly. His head lolled against Caleb's chest. Before long, he slipped into a dreamland filled with fears of death and loneliness.
Author's Notes – So sorry for the late update! A lot has been going on. I moved to a new city to attend graduate school, I got engaged, and I bought a puppy. Needless to say, my life is hectic! I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter! There is only one chapter left! So, please, leave a review! :)