A/N: Hey everyone! I know that I have other stories in the works and that I have been, quite possibly, the worst updater ever. To make excuses, I just finished my senior year of college and the thought of writing more, on top of completing two theses (the joys of being a double major), was unimaginable. So, this is my attempt to get back into the swing of writing. I know it is outside the fandoms of my other stories, but I am hoping that it inspires me to continue them.
Dean withheld a grunt of pain as he tossed his duffle into the trunk of the Impala. This latest hunt had been hell. The past two weeks were spent in the wilderness of Montana, chasing after the newest baddie. One creepy ass, run-down farmhouse, three broken ribs, and a hit to the head that had left the room spinning and the bastard was finally dead. Needless to say, Dean was looking forward to a few days of recovery time.
Dean jerked his head up and winced as he slammed it on the trunk of the Impala. "Son of a bitch," he hissed, clutching the back of his head as he turned towards the speaker. "Yeah?"
"I just got off the phone with Caleb, he needs some help on a job in Northern California. I told him that you could be there tomorrow."
Dean looked on in disbelief as his dad strode confidently towards his oversized black truck and set his own bag in the back. He was still holding the back of his head, his eyes wide, and his mouth moving almost comically as he fumbled for a response, when John finally looked up at him.
"Is that a problem?" John asked, his tone challenging and one of his eyebrows raised.
Instantly lowering his hand and straightening his body, like a puppet master grabbing the strings of a puppet, Dean replied with a, "No, sir."
"Good," John stated, going to open his truck door. "Call me when it is finished." John didn't wait for a response from Dean because he knew what it would be. Unlike Sam, Dean didn't question orders, he obeyed them, trusting John to know what was right.
Dean lifted a hand in goodbye as John pulled out of the rundown motel's parking lot. He heaved a sigh before he remembered his injured ribs. "Damn it," he mumbled, thinking that he should have had his dad wrap them before he disappeared again.
Pulling open the squeaky driver's door of the Impala, Dean thought about his dad's assignment. While he trusted that his dad wouldn't send him if it wasn't necessary, it would have been really nice to have a few days off. He had one done over on him in the past few hours and if he was honest about his injuries, he was probably sporting a mild concussion...but when was he honest about injuries?
He allowed his body to drop onto the seat of the Impala and pulled out his cell phone. Scrolling down to "C", he clicked on Caleb's number.
Dean only had to wait two rings before Caleb's voice came over the phone.
"Caleb, it's Dean. What's your location?" Dean asked, getting straight to the point.
Caleb rattled off coordinates for a small town in Northern California. "John said you could get here by tomorrow afternoon?" Caleb asked, checking to see what time he should expect the young hunter.
Calculating the distance in his head, Dean figured that he could make it by tomorrow if he drove through the night, "Yeah, I can be there."
Caleb let out an almost inaudible sigh of relief, "Good, this one has been giving me a hell of a time."
"What is it?" Dean was surprised, Caleb was one of the best hunters he knew.
"I am not quite sure, it has been giving me the run around. And the body count is starting to get up there."
Rubbing a hand over his face, Dean inserted the keys into the ignition. "I will call when I get into town and we can go over everything."
"Sounds good, get here in one piece."
"Aww, Caleb, I didn't know you cared," Dean quipped.
Caleb chuckled, "You, I might miss for a solid second, then I would remember what it was like to deal with that mouth of yours. On the other hand, that car of your's..." he trailed off.
Dean smirked, smart enough to realize how much trouble his ribs would give him if he laughed. "You're a real comedian, Caleb. If this whole hunting thing doesn't pan out, at least you know of another career path you can try."
"Just get your smartass ass down here," Caleb ended the call with a smile on his face.
Dean snapped his cell phone closed and turned the keys over, smiling a bit as the Impala rumbled to life. "Let's go, Baby."
"Dean Winchester, you get uglier every time I see you," Caleb drawled out as he sauntered over to Dean leaning against the Impala, which was sitting in the parking lot of the local diner.
"You're one to talk. Tell me, has Rogaine contacted you yet?" Dean countered, his tone and facial expressions deadpan.
Caleb managed to keep a straight face for all of two seconds before he was laughing loudly and clapping Dean on the shoulder, "Good to see you, kid!"
"You too, Caleb," Dean replied with a warm smile. And he was being honest, it was good to see Caleb.
Dean had first met Caleb when he was about ten. Him, his dad, and Sammy had been holed up at Pastor Jim's while his dad had recovered from a hunt gone wrong. It was in the middle of the second week when Caleb had stopped by. At first, Dean had been weary of the young hunter. He didn't trust anybody at first, especially not if they had the potential to hurt Sammy. However, as Caleb had worked on research at Pastor Jim's, Dean had grown to like the man. What had finally won young Dean over was that one day, Sam had been running down the stairs when he tripped and fell down the rest. Dean had watched helplessly as Sam's six year old body tumbled down the stairs, reaching the bottom with a heart-wrenching cry. John and Jim were in the library at the time, so they didn't know of Sam's accident. Dean had immediately thrown the small knife he was playing with on the table and rushed over to Sam. Before he could reach him though, Caleb had come running down the stairs and was checking Sam over. It didn't take long for the two of them to quite Sam's tears and make sure nothing was seriously wrong. Afterwards, Caleb disappeared into the kitchen, only to come out with two rootbeer floats; winning both of the boys over.
Since then, Dean's fondness and respect for the man had only grown. They had been on a few hunts with John and a few on their own as well. They worked well as a team, which meant that Dean was hoping this could be wrapped up as soon as possible so that he could get his R&R in.
"Let's get some coffee and some grub and I'll fill you in," Caleb said, ending Dean's reminiscing.
Caleb watched Dean as he carefully lowered himself down into the booth. He pretended not to notice as Dean's breath left him in a puff of air and a slight sheen of sweat broke out on his forehead. Caleb knew that Dean had just come off of a hunt, but John had sworn that he was fit to be in the field.
After they got some coffee and food ordered, Caleb decided to attempt to get Dean to tell him how he was feeling. "So, how'd the case with John go?"
Dean blinked almost owlishly as he took in Caleb's question, "It went well, took almost two weeks though."
"Hmm.." Caleb pondered, trying to figure out if Dean was up for this hunt.
As if he knew he was being judged, Dean straightened up in his seat and leveled Caleb with a stare, "So, what are we looking at?"
*12 hours later*
Caleb cursed as he pressed on the accelerator of his beat up truck. He glanced over at Dean, he was slouching against the door with his long legs stretched out in front of him, like he couldn't quite control where they went.
"Dean?" Caleb questioned, accelerating even more as Dean's eyes began to droop closed. "Stay with me, kid. I'm going to get you some help."
Dean coughed weakly as he tried to hide the agony his body was currently putting him through. It felt like he was drowning and burning all at the same time. He could belatedly hear Caleb shouting his name again, but as he tried to respond, all that issued forth were increasingly wet gasps of pain.
"Damn it, Dean! Don't you dare die in my truck!" Caleb yelled, his fear obvious in his voice.
The last thought that went through Dean's head before everything went black was that Caleb's truck was the last place in the world he wanted to die.
Caleb sat in the waiting room of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He had tried to get an update on Dean, but so far, no one knew anything. With only slight hesitation, Caleb dug through the pockets of Dean's leather jacket and after a little searching found his cell phone. Flipping the screen open, he quickly found John's phone number and pressed call. As usual with John, it went straight to voicemail.
"This is John Winchester, leave me a message."
"John," Caleb paused, mentally arguing with himself about how to go about informing John that his eldest was currently laying in a hospital, status mostly unknown. His first reaction was to give John a quick message, expressing the urgency. His next reaction was to lay into John about sending Dean off on a hunt while he was injured.
About thirty minutes after Caleb had pulled into the hospital and yelled for a doctor, someone had come out to give Caleb a quick update on Dean. Apparently he had been suffering from a concussion for the past three days and he had three broken ribs and one cracked one. His new injuries, caused by a fall through the floor of a second story (according to the tale Caleb spun, because who would believe a mythical monster had thrown Dean around like a rag doll), were mostly due to these preexisting injuries. The cracked rib, that would not have been a serious concern on its own, had shattered and punctured through one of Dean's lungs, effectively drowning Dean in his own blood. His originally mild concussion had become far worse and they were now worried about brain hemorrhaging. The only injury that was not a direct result of the old ones was a broken arm, which was really the least of their concerns at the moment.
Caleb knew that John loved his boys, he had seen it first hand. He was never easy on them, he was more commanding officer than father most of the time, but the love was still apparent. However, when Sam had run off to college, it had hit John hard. All of a sudden, all of John's focus was on the hunt, and Dean was his only remaining soldier. Caleb had notice Dean get a little bit harder each time they ran into one another, trying to be the best son to his father as he could be. And this...this shitty hospital in an even shittier town...was the result of that. Dean couldn't say no, couldn't disappoint his father, and for that, he was being operated on with only a tired hunter waiting to hear how he was doing.
Caleb felt a stab to his gut when he finished his mental attack on John...he was no better. He had guessed that Dean wasn't at the top of his game, but he was so eager for help, that he pushed that worry to the side and let Dean cover it up. He knew that the boy would never admit that he wasn't up for a hunt, he should have told Dean that he had it handled.
Realizing that more than one person had failed Dean, Caleb decided to take it easy on John. "John, Dean is hurt. He is in surgery at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. John...it's pretty bad. Call me when you get this."
Caleb ended the call and was about to put the phone away when a horrible idea popped into his head. Opening up the contact list once again, Caleb got to "S" and paused when 'Sammy' was highlighted. He shouldn't call, he knew that. Sam had abandoned his family, had cut off all ties, if Pastor Jim's information was correct. It had become common knowledge within their circle that Sam Winchester was not to be mentioned around John and Dean. With this knowledge...why the hell was his finger currently hovering over the call button?
Maybe he just couldn't forget the boy with shaggy brown hair that had followed Dean around, attempting to mimic his older brother's mannerisms. He certainly couldn't forget the way that Dean protected his younger brother. Or the way that his last hunt with Dean had fallen on Sam's birthday, and all day long Dean had fiddled with his phone, his fingers almost betraying his mind's orders to not give in and call. It was nearly midnight when he heard Dean slip into the bathroom with his phone in hand, like it was impossible for Sam's birthday to go by without a call from Dean, even if it was unwanted.
Before he could talk himself out of it, Caleb had pressed the call button.
A/N: There is a bit more of this written and I do have a story plan for it if you guys think I should continue! Let me know!