Born of Ill Intent.
Please read warnings from chapter one.
Chapter Twelve and Epilogue.
"So, you going back to the hospital after all this?" Bobby enquired one afternoon.
They were sitting at the breakfast bar, nursing a bottle of bourbon between them, much to Patch's disgust.
(That stuff'll rot ya feckin' innards, you mark my words!)
Through the kitchen window, they could spy Dean chopping wood, while Sam watched on from the veranda with a blanket round his shoulders, occasionally commenting or laughing at something his brother said.
William stared at them for a long minute, and then shrugged. "For a little while, maybe… don't know."
Bobby nodded his understanding. "Don't even think it."
"What?" William asked, all too innocently.
"You're not cut out to be a hunter," said Bobby, firmly. "You're a doctor. A healer. Take my advice, and make good and sure you stay that way. 'Sides. You're too damn old to be getting your ass kicked by evil on a daily basis." Then he stopped and considered his own words for a second. "I'm too damn old, but at least I'm used to it."
William scowled at the 'old' comment but let it go, and sighed. "You're probably right. I'm not all that big a fan of pant-crapping for the rest of my life, if you catch my meaning."
He took a swig from the bottle, "But." And another. "Not sure I can go back to the way things were before all…" he gestured round the house with his free hand. "…this."
Patch sat down on the other side of the doctor, his own better class of liquid nourishment in hand.
"There's always a job going here for a medical genius," he intoned with a raised eyebrow. "Me and the house here can only do so much with injured hunters. You saved Sam's life. That makes you a genius."
"Ha!" William snorted, goodnaturedly. "I stitched him up. Hardly a genius."
"I'd say playing midwife to a man is pretty much genius," replied Bobby. "Not too many doctors or even hunters can claim that on their portfolio."
William nodded slowly, then glanced over at Patch. "You serious, man?"
Patch grinned. "I'm always serious. Except for when I'm not."
"I'll think about it," the doctor told him, but his eyes gleamed with excitement.
Patch climbed up the final rungs of the ladder and cast his gaze about.
"I know you're here somewhere," he crooned, softly. "Dean saw you."
He was answered by a tiny cough and a flurry of dust drifted downwards.
"Come on," he said, in a sing-song voice. "You really are the most stubborn book-sprite I've ever met… ah! There you are, m'sweet!"
A small ball of blue light winked on right next to him, floating and bobbing in mid-air. Patch smiled, indulgently.
"That's my girl. Now," he said, mock-stern, eyebrows drawn down. "You want to show me what you've been up to this time?"
The ball of light chittered softly, and bounced up and down with apparent excitement.
Patch listened, head cocked to the side in amazement. "Have you now!? That's very sweet of you, my honey. The boys will be pleased. Now. Let's have a look, shall we?"
The glowing ball nudged at the ladder and pushed it gently over to the right, the wooden wheels squeaking quietly far below, reminding the Irishman just how long he'd been climbing. In fact, if Patch leaned back a little, he could still just about see the corner of Sam's bed reflecting the firelight.
A variety of faint snores and wheezes made their way up through the stacks to Patch's ears, like a badly played opera. He snorted softly. Dean was no doubt still slouched by the fireplace where Patch had left him more than an hour ago, whereas Sam, Bobby and William had actually made it to bed this time.
The ball of light moved upwards, bypassing hundreds of old and dusty books, and Patch followed, until it stopped by a particular journal high up in the darkest recesses of the roof.
It wasn't dusty, but bound in brown leather, worn and faded, and apparently stuffed with cuttings and photographs.
Patch smiled when he opened it and saw the initials on the inside of the cover.
Several weeks later, Sam was fully recovered and bearing only a few thin scars across the gut from his ordeal, and it was time to leave.
Bobby had a salvage yard to return to.
William had a pissed hospital director to appease and explain why one of their best doctors had disappeared for the last month or so with no word. He had accepted Patch's offer but, man of principle William was, had insisted on working his notice or at least until the hospital found a suitable replacement.
And, finally, Patch had a consignment of holy water and silver RPG shells to deliver to some hunters up in Alaska. Apparently, Big Foot didn't live with the Hendersons and he sure as hell wasn't so nice – the trail of torn and mangled bodies across the icy tundra was the first clue. They were taken rather by surprise, Patch explained, because lore suggested they were dealing with an Abominable Snowman or Yeti, not Big Foot on vacation. This thing stood out against the snow like a sore thumb, and no one could take it down. The RPGs were a last resort, given the avalanche danger, but there was always the hope that if worst came to worst, Big Foot would be buried alive.
The brothers planned to head back with Bobby and pick up the Impala from the yard. After that, they had no real place to be until another hunt came along.
Sam sat on the porch swing, staring off into the distance, while the wind picked up and whirled a gentle flurry of snow round his feet.
"We'll be fine, Sammy," Dean sat down beside him.
"I guess," came the doleful answer.
Dean studied his brother from the corner of his eye, then slung an arm around the kid's shoulders. "It'll be ok. We'll write our own journal or something."
Sam risked a half smile. "Yeah. But it won't be the same."
Dean followed his brother's gaze, but said nothing. Sam was right.
Over twenty years of blood, sweat, heartache and chilling terror had gone into that journal, the Winchester Hunting Bible. Now it was gone, leaving the brothers bereft of its guidance and, most tragic of all, their father's voice. For neither of them could ever read that journal without hearing it.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
And somewhere out there, the yellow eyed demon was waiting for them, biding his time before making his next move. Maybe the demon-killing colt was trained on them right at that very moment, the brothers caught unwittingly in its cross-hairs.
Dean inwardly shuddered, blew on his hands and rubbed them together to warm them up.
Winter looked here to stay, in more ways than one, and it would be a long time before he felt fully warm again…
A long shadow fell over him, blocking out the veranda light and derailing his dark train of thought. Sam swung his head round, startled.
"Sorry to disturb you both, but I believe this belongs to you boys," said Patch, softly, and shoved a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and string under their noses.
He watched the brothers stare at each other, guessing the dilemma, but letting them decide among themselves.
Finally, Dean nodded, grasped the package and held it out to Sam, who hesitated before untying the string, and removing the paper.
"How… when…" Dean nearly choked on his own tongue.
"But," Sam blinked back tears. "But Dean threw it in the lake," he said, voice shaky. "I saw him throw it. I saw it go in."
"H-he's right," Dean stammered a little, then took the book in both hands and thumbed through the pages. "There's no way you could have gotten it back, especially in such good condition. I mean, there's no water damage or anything!"
"Good condition!" exclaimed Sam, wide eyed and stunned. "It's exactly the same as before it went in the lake." He glanced up at Patch. "How's that even possible?"
"What can I say? The house likes you," the Irishman smiled, mysteriously.
Dean stared at him. "What are you, exactly?" he asked, in wonder. "Are you even human?"
"Oh, I'm human alright," said Patch, nodding slowly. "Just with a few… extra curricular skills, you might say."
"What does that even mean?" Sam asked, frowning. "You're a witch of some kind?"
"Now, that would be telling." Patch grinned, tapped his nose, and went back inside the house without another word.
Obviously, the guy didn't plan on sharing with the rest of the class any time soon.
The boys were speechless for quite a while, glancing through the journal, smoothing out creases, and gazing at old and faded photographs.
"This is unbelievable," whispered Sam, gently stroking a finger down a page filled with his father's handwriting. "I mean, losing his journal was like… well, like losing him. All over again, ya know? And now it's back." He glanced up at his brother with soft, moist eyes. "You ok, Dean?"
Dean sucked on his bottom lip, jaw clenched tight and nodded just once. "Yeah, I'm ok, just…" he rubbed a trembling hand down his face and blinked rapidly. "Yeah."
He pulled himself together, clamped a hand down on Sam's shoulder and offered up a watery smile.
"I don't s'pose Patch'll ever tell us how, huh?" he said, with false joviality.
"Doubt it," Sam replied, vaguely. He returned his gaze to the journal to stared at it in wonder and sadness.
"It's great, Sam," Dean told his brother after a pause. "But it doesn't change a thing. I'd throw it right back in that damn lake all over again if I had to."
Sam sniffed, reached up and patted the hand on his shoulder. "I know, man. I know."
They sat there in silence a little while longer until Sam spoke up again.
"Thanks, Dean. For everything…"
"Duuude!" Apparently bored or, perhaps, fed up with the emo fest, Dean broke the moment by rolling his eyes and grinning. "I'm used to saving damsels in distress. S'no big deal."
Sam reached out and slapped the back of Dean's head. "It's called 'modesty', Jerk!"
"Ungrateful bitch!" Dean groused, but slipped his arm fully around Sam's shoulders to administer a quick, affectionate squeeze.
They sat there until twilight fell behind and the night fell properly into place. Relaxed, if a touch bewildered, they continued talking quietly and watching a fresh layer of snow settling on the treetops. They had a long journey in the morning, but for now the forest was theirs and the night was still young.
Patch watched them from the kitchen window, while Bobby stood by, silently drying a plate.
The brothers had bounced back well, but there would always be scars.
Those scars were making them stronger.
"Ah, Johnny, ya stubborn little bastard," the Irishman whispered, sadly. "If only you could see your boys now…"
That's all folks!
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