A/N: This fic is a fusion with The Shootist, written for SPN Cinema. Nothing you recognize (or could potentially recognize) is mine. No copyright infringement intended. The story is complete in five parts; I plan to post one chapter a day.
Disclaimer regarding characters: The role I've split between Sam and Dean in this story is filled by one character in the movie, played by John Wayne. There is a minor female character in the movie, played by Sheree North, with whom he has an established past relationship; in this story, it made more sense to pair that character with Sam than with Dean. It wasn't until I'd made that decision, written the scene, and gone back to revise it while watching the movie with the closed captioning on that I discovered that I'd misheard the character's nickname; the correct spelling turned out to be the same as the name of a well-known RL Sam-girl.
That resemblance is 100% coincidental and goes no further than the name. Neither the portrayal of that character nor Dean's opinion of her should be construed as being a comment on the RL woman who shares her (nick)name.
Last of the Breed
By San Antonio Rose
March 5, 1861
"Dean!" cried Sam, and Dean's gloating over the shootout flipped to all-out panic as he realized their time was almost up. He dove for the phoenix's ashes, scooped up a bottleful... and nothing happened.
Dean swallowed hard and looked at Sam. "Get some more bottles—maybe he's just late."
Sam nodded and dashed to the saloon, where Elkins hurriedly gave him a few more empty bottles and followed Sam back outside with an armful of his own. The three men quickly had as much of the ash bottled as they could safely gather without getting dirt mixed in. And still there was no flash to carry the Winchesters back to their own day.
"Something's wrong," Sam muttered, looking at his watch, which caused Elkins to stare in astonishment.
"Maybe? Or maybe not. I don't... I don't know why, but I've got this really weird feeling that we've been shanghaied."
Dean huffed. "C'mon, dude, this is Cas. He wouldn't just leave us here."
Sam met his eyes. "Wouldn't he?"
March 5, 2012
Balthazar was pacing when Castiel finally answered his summons. "What is it, brother?" Castiel asked.
"Your pets," Balthazar replied. "They've fallen off the radar. I... wanted to find out what they remembered about the Titanic fiasco, but I can't find them. At all."
Castiel frowned. "You know they're hidden."
"Yes, but their dreams aren't—or shouldn't be." Balthazar walked up to Castiel. "Cas, what have you done with them?"
Castiel sighed deeply. "I have... made a tactical error. Dean located a phoenix in the past that they could kill in order to devise a weapon that will kill Eve, and I thought I would be able to retrieve them after 24 hours. But I was ambushed by one of Raphael's supporters and was not able to recover in time to bring them back."
"Balthazar, it doesn't matter. Even if I told you, you might not be able to find them from this remove."
Balthazar studied him for a moment and then nodded slowly. "All right. If that's the way you want it."
"That's the way it is," Castiel replied sharply.
Balthazar nodded again and left. But rather than going back to the mansion he'd appropriated for himself, he flew to the nearest library and began searching like a human would, the best way to keep his inquiries from coming to Castiel's attention. Finally, he found information that had him swearing quietly under his breath.
And then he took off after Bobby Singer.
He found the Winchesters' oldest and dearest friend in Battle Creek, MI, steeling himself to inform Lisa and Ben Braeden of Dean's disappearance. Balthazar somehow managed to convince Bobby to take him along, and once they were all together and Bobby had given the Braedens the bad news, Balthazar revealed his addition.
"I'm not certain exactly what dear Cassie is up to," he said slowly, "but I suspect he deliberately stranded the lads in the past. He wouldn't let me try to retrieve them myself—won't even tell me what year he sent them to. And he's powerful enough now that I don't dare cross him openly on something like this. But I've found some newspaper articles that place the Winchesters in Carson City, Nevada, in January of 1901."
Bobby stifled a curse. "That's a thousand miles and forty years away from where he dropped 'em."
"That's not the worst of it. Unless I miss my guess, if either Eve or Hell's forces have cause to try to smoke the lads out, they'll come after the Braedens. Regardless of whether Cas wanted the Winchesters safe or only out of his way, he's not thought through the implications."
Lisa put an arm around Ben's shoulders. "So what should we do?"
Balthazar shrugged. "The surest way to keep you safe is to send you after the lads. Where did they go?"
Bobby sighed. "Sunrise, WY. March of 1861."
Ben's eyes widened, and Lisa blanched.
Balthazar shook his head. "No, that's no good—they'd face more than twice the natural dangers even with the lads on hand for protection. Not very good odds the Winchesters will want to stay in a grubby little town like Sunrise any longer than they have to, either." He tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Lisa, could you run a small boarding house if you had to, tell people you're a widow?"
Lisa shrugged. "I guess so."
"Might take a few years for the lads to find you, and they'd be older than you remember. But I can guarantee you a telephone and running water, indoor bathroom, even electricity within a few years."
"Where and when?"
"Carson City, 1895. It would be a one-way trip, but it would keep you out of the line of fire."
Ben was clearly skeptical, but Lisa drew in a deep breath and nodded. "Ben's safety has to be my first priority. I'll... find a way to survive."
Balthazar nodded. "All right. I can't give you long to prepare, but I can give you... three days."
"Three days. Okay. We'll be ready."
As hunter and angel walked away from the Braeden house and back to Bobby's truck, Bobby asked, "What didn't you tell them about those articles?"
Balthazar pretended offense. "Withhold information? I?"
Balthazar sighed. "The last one... was an obituary. For both lads."