So, yay! My very first Supernatural story. :D I'm so excited to finally post this! Can't you tell? :P
For everyone who's reading my NCIS stories, I appologize for not posting the sequal to my other stories first. I got the idea for this story and it just wouldn't leave me alone until I finished.
But I promise, I am working on that too and will try and post it as well before too long.
So, that being said, enjoy, everyone! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own.
Bobby Singer was surrounded by morons.
How half the hunters he knew managed to live as long as they did, he'd never know.
It was like they were born with an inability for common sense, and a full vein of never ending stupidity.
Sometimes he swore the only thing that kept most of them from getting killed was just plain stubbornness.
And the latest generations of hunters - bar the Winchester boys - were even worse. He could swear they were getting dumber by the day.
Or maybe it was just that most of the idiots seemed to flock to him.
Either way, Bobby was pretty sure if they didn't wise up soon they were either going to drive him crazy or he was going to kill them. At the moment he was leaning towards the second option.
Sighing, the grizzled hunter massaged his temples, trying to ignore the sharp, stabbing pain above his right eye. A pain only made worse by the sharp trill of his phone.
He glared at the cordless as it continued to ring for a moment, blaming his annoyance on the inanimate object and cursing it's timing before snatching it up and hitting the 'on' button.
"Singer." He snapped.
"Geeze, Singer, what's crawled up your-"
"What'd ya' want, Rufus." He growled even as he went back to massaging his aching temples, cutting over the hunter before he had a chance to finish his sentence.
Rufus' tone sounded almost amused when he announced, "You need to call Meyer."
Bobby blinked, surprised at the statement, "What? Why?"
"Needs your help with a hunt." There was the sound of a shuffling movement, followed by a swift thump and the odd whir of some sort of engine. Bobby didn't even want to think about what the other hunter might be doing on the other end of the line.
Bobby sighed, shaking his head, "Last I knew Meyer was a big boy and didn't need me holdin' his hand."
Rufus snorted, but otherwise didn't acknowledge Bobby's grumblings. "He's out huntin' a werewolf." He informed.
"And that's my problem because?"
"Because that's not what he's really huntin'." Rufus said, and Bobby would swear he could almost hear a smirk in the other man's voice, "Idiots tracking a Black Dog, just doesn't know it."
Bobby blinked in surprise, taken aback by the answer he received. He opened his mouth once, to comment, but found himself at a loss for words in the face of the other hunter's stupidity.
" How-" He started to ask, incredulously, instead.
"Don't know, don't wanna know." Rufus responded before he finished, "All I do know is if he doesn't get help, morons gonna get himself killed."
"Why don't you call him then, Rufus? You obviously know what he's dealing with." Bobby grumbled; he really wasn't in the mood to deal with Meyer's problems today.
The man might be able to hold his own when the creatures started crawling out of the wood work, and he could find his way around a gun well enough; but when it came to the research and the actual thinkingthat came along with the hunt, the man was worse than clueless.
"I ain't got his number!" The gruff hunter exclaimed on the other end of the line.
"I'll give it to you."
The quick click and loud drone of the dial tone was his only response.
Bobby growled. "Yeah. Thanks." He muttered to the phone with a scowl; jabbing the 'off' button a little harder than necessary before tossing the piece of plastic aside.
Sighing, he set to work, digging through the piles of papers, stacks of books, and mountains of research in search of the younger hunter's number.
Bobby snorted in disbelief at the thought of the younger man; he always knew Meyer wasn't too bright, but this was a new low even for him.
How the heck did you confuse a werewolf with a black dog?
They didn't look anything alike, the patterns were all wrong, and the killings were in ranges all their own.
The only thing that moron probably had gotten right was the fact that they were both part of the dog family. Big whoop.
If he didn't know better, Bobby would swear sometimes these hunters pulled these stupid stunts just to mess with his head.
In his shifting, a stack of research folders slid from the corner of his desk, hitting the floor with a loud thud; the papers, notes and newspaper clippings from several hunts scattering everywhere, floating to the floor in one jumbled mess.
Letting out a lengthy round of curses under his breath, he stopped to scoop them up, tossing them back in the folders haphazardly. He'd sort through them again later.
It wasn't until he came across a photograph, obviously having been misplaced in the files, that he paused.
He scooped it up, leaning back in his desk chair, ignoring it when it creaked and groaned with age and use.
The photo's glossy cover had started to fade and crease, but the image was still clear.
Sam Winchester. Or, as his brother still preferred to call him - Sammy. Something that was slowly becoming an annoyance to the younger boy.
Bobby could still remember when this particular snapshot had been taken. A little over a year ago now; a few days shy of Sam's thirteenth birthday.
John had taken a particularly ruff beating a week prior from a Wendigo and had showed up on Bobby's doorstep, both boys in tow, near collapse from exhaustion and injury. Although John would never admit that. Of course not.
He'd fed Bobby some line about it being 'high time they got a break'.
Not that Bobby disagreed; but that wasn't the only reason he was there and they both knew that.
He'd rolled his eyes at John's stubbornness, saying nothing as he ushered them in, letting them crash in the guest rooms as always.
They hadn't stayed long, barely a week. But it was long enough to throw Sam an impromptu, albeit small, birthday party.
Nothing much - a few poorly wrapped gifts, a store-bought cake courtesy of Bobby himself.
But the kid had been thrilled; eyes lightening up with an excitement rarely seen, his grin wide and never leaving his face.
Sam was a relatively happy kid, but even still, the look of pure, unadulterated happiness he'd sported that day was a rare sight. And something told Bobby, those looks would become a scarcity as the years passed. Being raised a hunter, it was a given.
So he'd snapped a few pictures of Sam - and Dean - and saved them.
Bobby sighed harshly, scrubbing a weary hand down his face; his headache pounding all the worse, but this time for a different reason.
It had been four months.
Four months, two weeks and three days to the day that Sam had gone missing.
Closer to being half a year than not.
And they were no closer to finding him than since the day he had disappeared.
Though the search had, by no means, stopped.
Not since the very moment Dean had went to pick his little brother up from school, only to find the school yard - and after a further search, the school itself - empty.
John and Dean both had spent the better part of the next two days searching the town frantically for the youngest Winchester, but their search came up empty.
It was then they had called Bobby, Jim, and a few other familiar faces and created their own search party. They had practically taken the town apart brick by brick, but still no Sam.
The search had carried on for nearly two days more when the local cops had gotten wind of the missing child.
Of course, in a town as small as Wheaten, Minnesota having several strangers suddenly converging on the town intimidating and questioning the locals, driving the streets day and night, and searching every corner of the small hicktown was bound to draw attention eventually.
John hadn't been thrilled when the boys in blue had started asking questions, pressing themselves on the investigation, but he had accepted it a lot better than Bobby would have normally expected.
But after nearly a week with no Sam, John was getting desperate and was willing to try just about anything - even involving the cops - if it would help him find his youngest.
The search had soon spread from Wheaten to every town, city, and county within a hundred mile radius. Still, they found nothing. There was no trace of the green-eyed, fourteen-year-old anywhere.
It was as if Sam had just disappeared into thin air.
Though they had checked that theory too; and like everything else it had been a bust.
If there was a supernatural being within two hundred miles of Wheaten that could have whisked the younger Winchester away, they hadn't found it.
Aside from a few troublesome ghosts and a Wendigo several towns over, there wasn't another supernatural being in sight.
He was pretty sure that had been John's undoing.
The man had been so sure that it had been something out of the ordinary (at least for most people) that had taken his son.
So sure that they would find that something supernatural had been to blame, and that all they had to do was track it and find it. So sure that it would lead them to Sam.
It might sound a bit harsh, to hope that something so dark and deadly would have taken his boy, but Bobby understood.
At least then they had something to target - a monster to kill, something to destroy.
Then, they knew the patterns, the MO of the creatures they were hunting. They could know what was happening to Sam.
And they could take out whatever had hurt him.
This was worse.
Not knowing if it hadbeen something supernatural, or if it had been something all too human. Not knowing what had happened to the kid. And not having a clue as how to stop it and bring him back.
As it was, the hunters had done everything they could and then some; every contact in both John and Bobby's journals (and Bobby was willing to bet probably Caleb's and Jim's as well) had been called and put on alert to keep their eyes out for the 14-year-old teen.
So far, they hadn't heard anything.
The grizzled hunter leaned forward, plucking his cap off with one hand and ran his hand through his thinning hair before putting the cap back in place with a sigh.
Maybe he'd been wrong before. It wasn't going to be the brainless, reckless hunters that would be the death of him. It would be the Winchesters.
A knock came from the front entrance, making Bobby jerk in surprise at the unexpected noise and drop the photo back to his desk.
Whoever it was didn't wait for Bobby to even responded as they paused for only a second just to knock again, and Bobby scowled.
"I'm come'n, I'm come'n." He growled under his breath as he snatched the hunting knife from his desk. Bobby hadn't lived this long by being a trusting soul.
The knock sounded again, more urgent this time and Bobby growled.
"Yeah, yeah, I heard ya' the first time." He snapped, grabbing the handle in one hand, knife still clutched in the other, throwing the door open, "What do ya' want?"
The sight that greeted him was the last thing Bobby Singer ever expected to see.
All five foot, four inches of him; his too-long hair falling into his green eyes - which were at this moment staring at Bobby in widened alarm.
They both stilled, frozen in place for a moment, green eyes locked with blue, before Bobby could react.
"Sam?" He breathed, shocked.
Sam swallowed thickly and nodded slowly, silently.
Letting out an incredulous huff, he reached forward, gently grabbing the kid by the shoulder and steered him into the house, kicking the door closed behind them.
Getting down to one knee to kneel in front of the kid, he let Sam tower over him as he roved his eyes over him, checking for injury. He was skinnier than he remembered - if that were possible, the kid had already been a bean-pole.
There were some cuts on his hands and face that had long since started to heal, bruises under his eyes that spoke of lack of sleep, but he otherwise seemed to be healthy and whole.
He let out a relieved sigh, pulling the kid to him and hugging him close.
Sam seemed shocked at first, stiffening in Bobby's arms at the contact, before putting his arms around the older hunter's neck and hugging him back.
Swallowing thickly, Bobby pulled back. "Good to see you, kid." He gruffed, his voice a little rougher than normal.
And for the first time, Sam smiled, eyes lightening a little.
"Good to see you too, Uncle Bobby."
Ignoring the misting in his eyes, Bobby nodded, letting a smile stretch across his stubbled face.
He didn't pay any attention to his protesting knees as he stood, keeping a gentle hand on the kid's shoulder as he turned him in the direction of the living room and over to his slightly tattered couch.
Sam sank into it gratefully with a tired sigh, flopping back into the cushions and letting his head fall to rest against the back of the seat; his eyes slide close in exhaustion.
Bobby frowned, but said nothing, he'd ask about that later. First things first,
"You okay, kid?" He sat, turning to face the teen, giving him another once over, making sure he hadn't missed anything.
Sam rolled his head in the direction of the older hunter's voice, slowly opening his eyes to look at him, before nodding. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired."
Bobby frowned, noticing for the first time the harsh rasp Sam's voice carried.
Not liking the sound of it, he let the kid rest and went to grab a bottle of water.
Sam looked up at him, sending him an appreciative smile as he accepted the drink and unscrewed the cap, taking a swig of the cool water.
Watching him, Bobby reclaimed his seat, "Not that I'm not happy you're here, kid, but what about Dean and your dad?" He asked with a confused frown.
"Your place was closer." Sam explained, lowering the water bottle and sending Bobby a shrug; his voice sounded much clearer now, more like Sam, "And besides, I wasn't sure where they would be."
Bobby frowned, "They're still in town."
Sam looked at him, confused for a moment at the answer before he asked, "Wheaten?"
"Yeah. Where else would they be?" Bobby asked, raising a brow. The kid didn't seriously think the two men would have left. Not until they found Sam at least.
Apparently, that's exactly what Sam thought.
He blinked in surprise, frowning, but said nothing in response.
Bobby bit back a sigh, looking the kid in the eyes, "They stayed to look for you." He said gently, but still keeping his voice firm, making sure there wouldn't be a doubt left in the kid's mind.
Sam stared steadily back for a moment, reading his eyes, his expressions, seeking absolution. Finally he swallowed thickly, slowly nodding, and Bobby sent him a small smile, reaching out and ruffling the kid's hair.
Sam let out a huff of laughter, smiling even as he pulled back from Bobby's touch, shaking his messy hairs back into place.
"We'll call them." Bobby assured of Dean and John, before raising a pseudo threating finger and pointing it at the kid, the teasing gleam and the smile that tugged at his lips giving him away. "Just don't tell 'em I didn't call the same second you showed up on my doorstep. They'll try'n flay me within an inch of my life." He pulled a face at the thought, reveling when the kid laughed. Mission accomplished.
"Come on," He stood and led Sam to the kitchen, before digging around the cluttered side table - all the while cursing the mess - before finally finding the old corded phone and plunking it on the table in front of Sam.
Sam smiled, already reaching for the phone, more than ready to talk to his family again.
A smile twitched at Bobby's lips; he could only imagine how the other two Winchesters would react, finally able to talk to their youngest, finally able - after months of waiting - to hear from him.
Bobby blinked, suddenly frowning.
On second thought...
"Better let me call them." He said quickly, placing a hand over Sam's own to prevent him from lifting the phone from its cradle.
"Why?" Sam asked frowning.
"Because if you call 'em out of the blue like that, I think you just might give 'em a heart attack, kid." Bobby's lips twitched. "'Bout gave me one."
Sam smiled hesitantly, dimples slowly forming on his face as he ducked his head and glanced almost shyly up at his Uncle Bobby.
Man, but he had missed this kid.
"Yeah, okay." He pulled his hand back, letting Bobby have the phone.
Bobby smiled, reaching out to ruffle the kid's hair again even as he picked up the phone.
He dialed the number of the apartment John had given him several months back; it had become familiar now, his fingers able to trace the numbers without thought.
He waited through one ring, then two, and three; sending Sam a reassuring smile as the kid started to fidget.
"Yeah?" A bleak voice finally answered.
Bobby almost winced.
The poor kid sounded worse than the last time he talked to him. And that was saying something.
The upbeat, happy-go-lucky kid who's all too cheery attitude was often used as a weapon against Bobby to further irritate the man when he was in an already sour mood had long since disappeared in the months since his brother's disappearance.
And had been replaced by a down-trodden, impassive, robotic kid who looked, and sounded twice his age at the best of times.
Dean had been like this for a while now.
For the first month or so of Sam's disappearance he'd had a fire and determination like Bobby had never seen. He plowed through research and leads like a whirlwind, outstripping even the more seasoned hunters like himself in their search for the younger boy.
But the longer the search continued, the longer his little brother was missing and out of sight, the longer he couldn't find Sam, the more he seemed to deflate.
Though he had never stopped looking for his little brother, Dean's fire had dwindled considerably over time.
Of course, he had by no means given up.
Any time anyone so much as mentioned the possibility of an outcome where Sam wasn't found, or worse, found dead, it was like they snapped something inside the kid.
He'd fly off the handle, yelling, swearing, punching, and pretty much taking out every ounce of pent up worry and frustration - and goodness knows the kid had enough of that these days - on whoever had been stupid enough to suggest it.
But eventually it was like the life had just gone out of him.
Unless it involved a possible lead in the search for Sam, Dean didn't seem to care about much of anything anymore.
Least of all his own well-being. It had only been John's proddings towards food and rest that kept Dean from collapsing.
Sometimes he swore that the only thing that kept that kid getting up every morning was the hunt for his brother.
He swallowed past the sudden lump in throat to speak, "Dean? It's Bobby."
Out of the corner of his eye, Bobby could see a smile twitching at Sam's lips at the sound of his brother's name.
"Oh, hey, Bobby."
"Hey, kid." Bobby's lips quirked; at least Dean sounded marginally happy to hear from him, that was an improvement. "Your daddy around anywhere?"
"Went into town. Said he was going to see if the Sherriff had found anything yet about..." Dean paused and Bobby winced this time, listening as Dean sighed heavily on the other end of the line.
He cleared his throat loudly, making his tone sound stronger than Bobby was sure he felt at the moment, "You need somethin', Bobby? I can get dad if you need-"
"No." Bobby cut across quickly, "No, uh, was just checkin'. You can tell him yourself."
Bobby could practically hear the kid's frown through the phone.
"Tell him what?"
Bobby sighed, "Listen, Dean, I, uh," He hesitated, rubbing at the back of his neck, briefly wondering if there was a gentler way to break this to him, but realized there probably wasn't. "I have some news for you...About Sam."
The magic words.
There was a soft thud of something or other hitting the floor, probably having fallen out of Dean's now slack grasp; he was instantly on alert, questions coming at an alarming rate. "What, Bobby? What do you have? Do you have a lead?"
The older hunter paused, not quite sure how to tell the kid that his previously missing little brother had just suddenly turned up on his door-step, without putting the poor kid into shock.
"Bobby!" Dean yelled into the short stretch of silence, his tone close to snapping, "What do you have?"
Bobby sighed; he was never good at the indirect approach anyway. "Sam."
"What?" Dean asked, confused.
"I... have Sam. He's here. With me."
His response was met with silence on the other end of the line, and it rung deafly in Bobby's ears.
"Dean? You still there, kid?" He asked, brow starting to crease in worry.
He could see Sam starting to frown now.
There was a pause on the line, and then "...you have Sam?"
"Yeah." Bobby tried to keep his tone patient, gentle; not quite sure what to expect from Dean right now. "He's right here."
There was a small huff of incredulousness in his ear as the kid tried to process that news.
"Is...Is he...I mean, he... He's okay...right?" Dean managed to choke out, his voice sounding all of five right now.
The older hunter felt a small, sad smile pull at his face, "Why don't you ask him yourself." He asked, and handed the phone out to the youngest Winchester brother who accepted it with a wary smile before almost hesitantly placing it to his ear.
Dean felt his breath leave him in a whoosh even as his legs started shaking, dropping him to a sitting position on the end of the bed.
Swallowing past the impossible lump that had lodged in his throat, he spoke, "Sammy?"
He waited, breath hitched in his throat, willing the voice to answer in the affirmative.
"Yeah, Dean, it's me."
"Sam." He breathed out, shocked. Thank God, thank God.
"Where are...what...how did..." He stumbled over his words, wanting answers to the questions that had taken to playing a constant loop in his mind for the past several months, but at the same time not sure he really wanted to know.
Taking a deep breath, he focused on the most important question. The one he needed an answer to.
"You okay?" Despite any efforts to calm his nerves, his voice still cracked when he spoke.
"Yeah, I'm okay."
And he did sound okay. Maybe a little tired, but otherwise he sounded perfectly fine.
But still, he just needed to know, to be sure.
Because Sam had been gone - four and a half months of not knowing if Sam was okay. Not knowing if Sam was even alive. He needed to know.
"You sure? You're alright?" He asked again.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Sam responded quietly. "I promise, Dean." He added firmly, trying to reassure his big brother.
Dean let out a shaky laugh in response, allowing some of the tension, the panic to come to spilling out; he probably sounded a tad hysterical he realized, but he didn't care. Laughing, however crazy he might sound, was better than crying.
And right now, he was walking a fine line between the two.
"Yeah, Sammy?" He asked.
Sam paused for only a few seconds before continuing. "Are youokay?" He sounded worried, cautious.
Dean smiled a slightly shaky smile. Only Sam.
Only Sam could go missing for months, turn up out of the blue and then ask Dean if he was okay. Only Sam would worry over something like that, over Dean, at a time like this.
He nodded before realizing Sam couldn't see him, so he answered, "Yeah." He ran a shaking hand down his face, ignoring the wetness on his cheeks, "Yeah, I'm fine, Sammy. Just...just really good to hear from you, man." That was an understatement.
But Sam knew what he meant. Sam always did.
"Good to hear you too." He responded; Dean could hear the smile in his little brother's voice, and he couldn't help but let a smile lift up the corners of his mouth as well.
It almost felt strange, foreign even, to his face. He hadn't smiled since... since Sam went missing.
And then Dean smiled for real, a weight lifting off his shoulders.
Because he could finally stop thinking of Sam as missing. Because Sam was there, just on the other end of the line, Sam was alive and okay, and things could go back to being normal.
Well, maybe not normal.
Most people didn't consider driving from town to town in a Chevy Impala to live out of decaying motel rooms while you researched things that went bump in the night and hunted vengeful ghosts exactly normal.
But, so long as Dean had his dad and his little brother, he didn't much care. As long as he had his family with him to ride the highways and hunt the creatures of the night, he'd take it.
John heaved a tired sigh as he threw open the front door to the small apartment room, letting it slam behind him as he entered.
He tossed the Impalas keys to the counter even as his eyes made a cursory scan of the room, out of habit.
Salt lines were still intact, protections still holding up; the kitchen was dirty, littered with unclean dishes and discarded wrappers from various fast food places.
But that was a given, considering the circumstances.
The kitchenette table was cluttered too.
Littered with books, maps and papers of varying colors, most were falling apart from years of use; their pages torn and crinkled, covers crumbling, colors fading, but they severed their purpose still.
John's journal was spread open to a random page next to a map of Minnesota, the thick, dark trail from a marker mapping its way around a few roads and highways.
John almost expected to see his youngest son, Sam, in one of the wooden chairs, hunched over, pouring over all the material. Only stopping in his search long enough, to look and smile up at John as he walked in, dimples and all, before turning back to whatever research he was doing. Whether it was for a new case, or just for the enjoyment, John didn't know at times. Sam had always been more interested in the hows and whys than either John or Dean had ever been; always wanting to find out the reason behind everything. Always wanting answers.
But instead, he was only met with empty chairs and disregarded research.
Because Sam wasn't here. And Sam hadn't been here for almost five months.
John sighed, running a weary hand down his face, shaking his head even as he frowned.
Because this wasn't right, for more than one reason.
Not only should Sam be here, but so should Dean.
These days Dean spent most of his time at some table or another, pouring over research, old maps, and newspapers, looking for something, anythingto help find his brother.
But the chairs were empty, his oldest having abandoned his work.
John wasn't sure whether he should be worried or relieved.
But as he heard the quiet inflection of his oldest's voice carry from the other room, he let himself relax a little, settling on relived for the time being.
Shaking out of his jacket, he tossed it over the back of one of the rickety chairs, dumping his bag on the counter before making his way into the other room, on the path to the bathroom and nice, long shower.
He glanced around the bedroom as he entered before his eyes landed on Dean, who had taken up residence on the end of his bed, a phone pressed to his ear.
He glanced to his oldest as he walked by, locking eyes with him.
And then froze.
The look in Dean's eyes - those that had been so hauntingly empty these past few months - full of a turmoil of disbelief, fear, relief, and, though his son would never admit it, a few tears.
He didn't even have to ask - he knew it had something to do with Sam.
It was the only thing that could get Dean to respond like that, especially as of late.
He stared at his son, his gaze questioning, and Dean stared right back, his mouth working as if he wanted to speak, but wasn't sure how to say what he wanted to say.
Dean swallowed thickly as he locked eyes with his dad, opening his mouth to respond to his unspoken question.
The words were formed on the tip of his tongue, but unable to come out further, clogged by the emotion in his throat.
"Dean?" Sammy's voice drifted through the end of the line, and Dean's attention snapped back to his little brother, everything else forgotten; the tone of Sam's voice hinted that this was obviously not the first time he had called his brother's name.
Dean cleared his throat again. He seemed to be doing that allot in the past few minutes.
"Where's dad?" Sam asked; again, his tone sounded repetitive, like this wasn't the first time he had asked that same question.
Dean answered this time. "He just walked in." He looked up to meet his dad's eyes again and was met with a slightly curious, yet otherwise blank look from the older man.
It was a facade and they both knew it.
"Can...can I talk to him?" Sammy was hesitant in his question, like he was afraid this was too good to be true that he was getting to talk to his family again.
Which, Dean realized sadly, was probably exactly what he thought.
He paused at Sam's question; a part of him wanted to refuse it, wanted to be selfish. Wanted to keep the phone - currently his only link to his little brother - and not let go.
Because if he let go, he might just loose him again. And he couldn't do that, not again. He was so close.
But he couldn't keep this from their dad, he knew that. He had missed Sam just as much he did.
And besides, as much as he might say otherwise, there was no way he could deny Sammy anything right now.
"Of course." He answered, albeit a little bit slow.
He stood slowly, his legs still a little wobbly, and walked over to his dad who's expression of curiosity had turned to one of wariness.
Slowly lowering the phone, he held it out to his father.
He swallowed. "It's Sam."
His dad's eyes widened, and for a second Dean was pretty sure he actually stopped breathing.
The eldest Winchester's eyes flew from the phone in his oldest's hand, to his son's pale face, and back to the phone again before he reacted, snatching the phone and pressing it tightly to his ear.
"Sammy?" He demanded, though his voice was only a whisper.
"Hey, dad." The voice was tentative and quiet, but there was no doubt it was his Sam.
The aged hunter closed his eyes, swallowing thickly past the emotion that rose up.
He cleared his throat, making sure his voice would ring clear before he spoke, "Are you alright?" Even still, his voice barely kept from wavering.
"Yeah, dad, I'm fine."
He nodded jerkily in response to his youngest's answer, drawing in a deep breath.
Sam was okay. Sam was fine. Sam was alive.
"Where are you?" He asked. He needed to know. Needed to get there.
"I'm at Uncle Bobby's."
He started to nod again before he paused, eyes snapping open in surprise; Dean was hovering near him, eyes wide and worried.
John frowned. Bobby was in South Dakota, a good three hour drive from Wheaten, over a hundred miles of travel.
"How'd you get there?" He asked.
Sam let out a small huff of weary laughter, "Walked."
John's frown deepened. There was definitely more to it than that.
But for now, it could wait. He'd get answers later.
Right now, he needed to see his son.
And if Dean didn't get to talk to Sam again soon, he was pretty sure the older brother was going to rip the phone from his hand.
"You stay there, okay, Sam? We'll come to you." He assured his youngest gently even as he cut his eyes to Dean.
Dean gave him a curt nod, message received, and wasted no time in grabbing their things, tossing clothes and weapons haphazardly into duffle bags in his haste to leave.
"We'll be there soon, okay, Sammy?"
John smiled wanly at the kid's tone; hesitating as he moved to drop the phone back to its cradle, not sure if he was ready to let go of that that link to his son just yet. But he gave himself a shake - reminding himself the sooner they left, the sooner they'd get to Sam - and he let the phone click back into place.
He turned to face his oldest who had frozen, one hand clutching a half-full duffel bag and the other a wad of clothes, to stare at his dad.
He sent him a reassuring smile, nodding to the bag even as he snatched up one of his own and started hauling it out to the car.
"Come on, Dean, let's go get your brother."
"The eyes glowed, huh?" Bobby asked, scratching at his beard thoughtfully as he leaned back in his seat, "Sounds like you ran into a leshy, kid. Although, I've never heard of one being this far west."
"A leshy." Sam repeated thoughtfully, frowning. "Don't they usually just protect the forest?"
"Usually." Bobby nodded as he stretched across the kitchen table to snatch Sam's empty mug and give it a refill, "But they're also tricksters. They like to mess with people who disturb their woods."
"But I didn't!" Sam protested, accepting his mug back from Bobby, wrapping his hands around the warm ceramic. "I was just walking the trail."
"Sometimes, that's all it takes. They can get pretty possessive." Bobby explained with a sigh, "And some of 'em, they like playing tricks more than others."
"But then, why haven't they noticed more people going missing?" Sam pressed. "People walk that trail all the time."
Bobby shrugged, "It's a big area. Nothin' but woods and trees for, literally, miles. Probably just assumed they walked off the trail and got lost. Not too hard."
Sam nodded slowly, biting his lip, finger tapping against the side of his mug in, deep in thought.
Bobby waited, slightly amused, knowing the kid would spit out what was bothering him sooner or later.
And apparently, this time it was sooner. "It let me go." He mumbled, looking up at Bobby with curious eyes, "Why would it do that? After all the time it kept me lost out there?"
"Found a new target? Got bored? Who knows." Bobby shrugged, "Sometimes leshys form a bond with humans."
"After five months?" Sam asked, brow raised in question.
Bobby opened his mouth, ready to respond, but was drawn to halt at the sound of an all too familiar rumbling engine and the sound of squealing tires.
Both hunters' heads swiveled in unison, following the direction of the noise.
"I'm gonna guess that's Dean and your daddy." Bobby remarked dryly, drawing a small smile out of the youngest Winchester.
Sure enough, the engine had barely been cut, the sound of a slamming car door following it, when there was an unmistakable yell of, "Sammy!"
Sam paused long enough to glance at Bobby and wait for the older hunter to jerk his head in the direction of the door, before taking off at a run, letting the screen door slam behind him even as his feet pounded down the rickety wooden porch steps.
He hit the bottom, pausing to glance around the yard for the familiar black Chevy.
The youngest hunter froze at the sound of his name, this time much closer and clearer than before.
He turned to look behind him, following the sound of his big brother's voice.
Dean stood frozen several yards away, staring back in surprise at his brother, as if he couldn't believe he was seeing Sam with his own eyes. John, just a few feet behind his oldest, stood with wide eyes, his hand hovering on the Impala's door as he had been preparing to close it before his eyes landed on his youngest son.
A smile twitched at Sam's lips at the sight of his family; yelling - "Dean!" - he took off again.
Dean blinked, shaking himself as he hurried to meet up with his little brother; jogging at first, before breaking into a run.
Meeting in the middle of the old salvage yard, the two brothers plowed into each other, older grabbing the younger by the shoulders and pulling him close.
John huffed a humorless sound, almost not believing what he was seeing.
Because while the Marine and hunter had held stubborn, and while the father in him kept hope, there had been a part of him, in the back of his mind and the darker depths of his heart, that had doubted he would ever get to see this again. That he would get to see his two boys together again.
Swallowing thickly, he drank in the sight, watching as the boys clutched to each other, Sam pressing his face into his big brother's shirt, and Dean burying his in Sam's hair; only tearing his eyes away to look up at the sound of the screen door creaking on its hinges.
Bobby walked out and leaned against the paint-chipped post of the porch, his eyes landing first on the two brothers, then traveling up to meet John's eyes over the heads of the boys.
The hunter rose a noncommittal brow, smiling a bit as he glanced back to John's boys and then the father in question, and John's lips twitched in response as he nodded his thanks.
The exchange went unnoticed by the two brothers, both too focused on one another and on keeping the other close to notice much else.
Dean gripped his fists in the back of his brother's ragged over-shirt, briefly registering the tears that shredded the faded plaid, but pushed it to a back corner of his mind to ask about later.
Because right now, Sam was here. He was here, close enough to reach and hold and see. He was whole and alive and breathing and at least relatively healthy. And for now that was enough.
He could feel his little brother cling tight, his hands wrapping in the leather of his jacket, holding on like he never wanted to let go. And that was just fine with Dean.
"I missed you, Dean." Sam tried his best at holding back the tears, but Dean still caught the small sniffle that accompanied those words.
"Me too, kid." Dean responded gruffly, hugging him tighter. "Me too."
Sam sniffed again and Dean could feel the kid nod his head against his chest and pull in closer.
Dean clenched his eyes tight; he wasn't going there. After almost five months of missing Sam, he wasn't going there now.
He swallowed the tears down thickly, letting out a ragged breath, realizing exactly how much he had missed his little brother now that he had him back.
The sound of footsteps and crunching gravel broke the moment, bringing both brothers' heads around in the direction of the noise to meet the eyes of the eldest Winchester.
The father squatted down next to his sons, and Sam slowly pulled back from Dean to face his dad.
They didn't move, Dean's hand rested on Sam's shoulder as the kid held his breath and he stilled; John moved his eyes over his youngest, taking in his appearance, much like Bobby had done earlier, checking him over for injures, seeing for himself his boy was okay.
He reached out, running a barely trembling hand through his youngest's hair and down his face to cup his cheek, finally letting loose a small smile.
"Sam." He breathed, and Sam sent him a hesitant smile in return.
It was all that was needed; he grabbed for his son, pulling him in tight; Sam slipped his arms around his father's back, hugging him back and pulling himself in even closer.
He felt the kid bury his face in his shoulder and John moved a hand to cup the back of his neck, reveling in the strong, steady thump of the pulse that beat beneath his thumb.
After a minute he could feel Dean's presence move in, and he looked up to meet his oldest's eyes.
Dean splayed a hand against Sam's back, not ready just yet to lose contact, before looking to his dad's stare.
The corner of Dean's mouth pulled up slowly into a smile and John couldn't stop his own lips from pulling back to smile back at his son as they shared a look, words not being needed.
Nothing else being needed now that they had their youngest back.
The three Winchesters turned their heads in the direction of the unexpected noise, none of them willing to admit they had been so distracted in their moment that they hadn't even heard anyone approach.
Bobby stood closer now, arms crossed in front of his chest as he watched the scene with a fond look. "We gonna stand out here all day, or you three want to come inside and get somethin' to eat?"
Sam chuckled, and John could see Dean's face spread into a wide grin at the sound even as he gave Bobby a nod of acknowledgement.
Standing, John pulled his boys closer to him, slinging an arm around each of their shoulders - his oldest pulled into his right side and his youngest pressed to the left - he held them in close even as he turned them in the direction of the older hunter's house and they followed Bobby inside.
Things were finally right. His boys were healthy and whole and where they belonged. Together, and with him.
Sam was home. He might be a little worse for the wear, as were they all, and there were still a lot of questions that needed to be answered.
But he was there and he was alive.
Everything else could come later.
And when it did, they'd face together, like a family.
So, what did ya'll think?
Constructive criticism is welcomed. Even though this story gave me some trouble, I find I really like writing for the SPN fandom and really want to write for it some more. So let me know what could use some work.
And reviews just in general are lovely. They never fail to make my day! :D