Megaera – in Greek mythology, one of the Furies born of the blood of Uranus. Translates to Grudging, a hateful or spiteful woman. Daughter of Azazel.


They're on I-90, halfway through Minnesota, when Sam bolts up in the back seat, throwing off Dean's jacket he's been using as a flimsy blanket as he sleeps. Dean rests his elbow on the seat back and cranes his neck to look at his brother while John keeps driving.

"You okay back there?"

John glances in the rearview mirror so he can see Sammy. He had been napping pretty hard, which John doesn't really mind because they had started out early in the morning and Minnesota was pretty boring for landscape anyway. Sam looks around the car, wide-eyed, like he can't really believe he's just in the Impala.

"Sam?" John really hopes Sammy doesn't have to hurl because he doesn't think he can pull over to the shoulder and slow down fast enough.

But then Sam's head lifts enough that John can see the line of red on Sam's top lip.

"Sam, you're bleeding," Dean says before John can point it out.

Sam lifts a hand to his face and presses the back of his fingers to the skin between his top lip and the bottom of his nose. It comes away red and wet. He ducks his head down and starts wiping the back of his arm across his mouth and nose.

"Don't," John orders. "Tip your head back."

He digs in his pocket and fishes out a handkerchief that has seen better days. But it's better than getting blood on Dean's coat.

Again.

Dean snags the square of cloth as soon as John lifts it up, and then Dean's back is facing the windshield and half his body is lying over the seat back. John smacks the boy's back just to remind him that he probably should stay sitting down while John is driving.

"Here, take that," Dean orders. "Pinch your nose. No, up higher."

John tries to look at what's going on just in the rearview mirror, but mostly he just gets a view of Dean's back and arms. Finally, Dean settles back into the front seat, although he keeps his body backwards.

"Okay, you got it?" he asks Sammy, just to be sure.

John looks over his shoulder now. Sammy has John's handkerchief pressed under his nose and his other hand is pinching the bridge of his nose so hard that his fingertips are turning white.

"You still bleeding, Sammy?" John asks.

They passed a rest stop at least twenty miles ago, but he find a spot on the shoulder somewhere if he needs to.

"I'm okay." Sammy's voice is muffled by the handkerchief, but he still sounds confident in his answer.

So John keeps driving.

"What happened to you?" Dean asks as he turns around and settles back into the passenger seat. "You sneeze too hard or something?"

"No."

How Sam can sound like he's pouting from behind a handkerchief must be a special talent John doesn't know about.

"Bad dream," says Sam, short and hard.

"What, so you hit yourself in the face?" Dean twists in his seat to look back at Sam. Which means that John can focus his attention back on the road.

"No," Sam says. "It was weird."

And that's all he says. John would leave it alone — he's not the best at comforting after bad dreams, and he knows that — but weird in his line of work usually means he has to kill something before too long.

"Weird how?" he asks with his eyes still on the road.

"Nothing." And there's that pouting through the handkerchief again. "It's just … I was bleeding in the dream, too."

That's not so weird, actually. John knows that pain can translate to dreams, especially if Sam was already hurting. Maybe he should turn down the A/C.

"And I think I had a gun," Sam says. "I think I was gonna shoot somebody."

John glances in his rearview, but Sam's head is still tilted up and turned so that Sam can see out the window. John doesn't know enough about dreams and what a shrink would say to know if this is something he needs to take care of or just something Sammy's worried about.

"Hey, don't worry about it," Dean says suddenly. "We won't be shooting anybody in Sioux Falls. Except maybe some target practice."

Dean smiles over his shoulder and then turns around again, only glancing at John when his eyes catch him.

"Right," John says. "You guys have been to Bobby's before."

Actually the last time the boys had been at Singer Salvage, Sammy could barely walk. John doesn't even know how much Dean remembers of that visit.

"He'll have stuff for you to do," John says. He wants Dean and Sam both to keep busy, especially when Seth arrives and they have to start going over how Hell works and how to kill or contain a Knight of Hell like the Yellow-Eyed Demon.

"It's summer vacation," groans Sammy from the back seat.

John frowns into his mirror. First the kid wants to do homework, and now he's complaining because he wants a vacation. He doesn't know how to get through to Sam.

"How's that nose doing, Sammy?" Dean asks quickly.

Sam pulls the handkerchief away from his nose and leaves a smear of mostly-dried blood on his skin between his lip and his nose. But no new blood seeps out of his nose, even when Sammy folds the handkerchief over and presses the clean part to his lip.

"You'll be fine," Dean concludes.

John just shakes his head.

"Next rest stop, we'll stop so you can wash your hands," he says.

He doesn't really want Sammy to be covered in blood when they get out at Bobby's place. Plus, he can't get blood over the seats in his Impala.

o0O0o

John cranks the wheel to turn into the dusty driveway of Bobby's place, labeled only with a peeling sign nailed up to the wooden fence. It looks just like a salvage place is supposed to look, lines of cars sitting dead in a row, like caskets. Bobby's house hasn't changed at all, and John parks his car near the front door. Sammy's already out of his seat belt and opening the door eagerly.

"Help your brother with the bags, Sam," John says before his kid can get too wild.

Sammy slams the car door shut and rushes around to the trunk of the car, waiting on the balls of his feet as John tosses the keys to Dean so they can take care of the baggage. Dean shrugs as if to say, What're you gonna do? John rolls his eyes and heads for the house ahead of his sons.

"When's Seth coming here?" Sam asks, heaving one of the duffles up to his shoulder.

"I don't know."

John had tried to call Seth's landline several times before he even got on the road, but Seth never answered. Given that the landline is the only real form of contact that John has, he gave up after the fourth call and just packed up the Impala, driving for Singer Salvage.

He knocks on the door three times and waits for Bobby to let him in. Knowing Bobby, there's probably some booby traps for him to disable before John can actually get into the house. But then the door opens, and John stares at Seth standing just inside Bobby Singer's house.

"Hey, John," Seth says, lifting his eyebrows on his forehead just enough that John thinks the bastard's actually surprised to see him.

"Didn't know I was running late to this thing," John says flatly.

"What thing?"

God, if Seth looks any more like a confused puppy, John might have to slug him in the shoulder just on principle.

"You told me to meet you here."

"No, I know." Seth quickly pulled the door wide open to let John into the house. "I didn't expect you so soon. Why didn't you give us a call?"

"I tried calling the number you gave me." John stubbornly keeps his jacket on his shoulders. "You didn't answer."

"I was probably here already." Seth rubs his palm over the top of his head sheepishly. "I should probably get a cell phone, huh?"

Sam and Dean come barreling through the open door before John can find any response to Seth that doesn't include the words no shit.

"Hi, Seth," Sam says immediately.

Seth smiles brightly at Sam and then reaches out a hand to Dean, who shifts the duffle in one hand to his left so he can shake hands with the tall hunter.

"Hey, man." Dean nods auspiciously, but his smile is that little half-quirk that John recognizes from when Dean is happiest. Usually when he's driving the car and has complete control over the stereo system.

John never should've instituted the rule about driver picking the music. He really has no love for Led Zep.

"You letting strangers into my house now, Wesson?"

Bobby Singer comes up to the open front room of the house and surveys the ladened crew that stands with their backs to the door. He has put on a few pounds from the last time John has seen him in person, but he still wears that grungy cap even indoors.

"No, sir," Seth immediately replies.

So, John gets the snarky Seth Wesson, but Bobby Singer warrants a sir from him. Perfect. John stores that tidbit in the back of his brain, where he keeps most of the information on Seth that he doesn't dare write down. Bobby nods at Sam and Dean and scratches at his beard.

"Seem to remember your boys being shorter, Winchester," he says. "You sure these string beans are yours?"

He raises one eyebrow in John's direction, but John puts up with it when Sam stifles a giggle that John rarely hears from his son. When he glances from the corner of his eye, Dean is looking at Sam and trying not to laugh. The boys are loose and relaxed, and while John would usually remind himself to tell them to be on their guard, there's something safe about Bobby's place. Maybe it's because he knows how paranoid Singer is and how many defenses he has already built into the place — John hasn't forgotten the permanent devil's trap on the ceiling of the porch — but he doesn't have a problem with Sam and Dean treating this like a vacation. The salvage yard is a pretty good place for a couple of boys, especially one like Dean, who shows as much interest in learning to change the oil in the Impala as how to load rock salt into shotgun shells.

"Well, I got a room set up for you boys, if you don't mind sharing," Bobby says.

"No, sir," Dean answers.

Bobby lets out a grumbled "ah" and waves his hand.

"You call me Bobby," he says. "Bad enough I got this giant thinking he can call me sir." He jerks his thumb at Seth, who ducks his head in between his shoulders like a boy getting caught doing something he knows he shouldn't.

John tucks this away in the back of his mind, too.

"C'mon, I'll show you." Bobby waves the boys after him and takes them upstairs. Seth turns to John as soon as Sam's foot falls on the first step, taking up the rear of the little party.

"I took some books along with me, and Bobby has some already here," he says, shooting straight into what John suspects he wants to hear. "We got a little distracted when I first got here."

"Distracted?" The worst thing would be if there was a hunt or something that either Bobby or John needed to get to.

But he follows Seth to Bobby's kitchen table and finds a mess of papers spread out like a mangled tablecloth. Many of them are filled with the same types of symbols as Seth has pulled out of his journal in the past. But there's also a large swatch of graph paper that is filled with square drawings in pencil, like something an architect would bring in.

"You building something?" John leaned down to take a closer look at the drawings.

The drawing was just of a square room, not an entire house. And the margins of the paper had penciled notes like iron w/ salt with an arrow pointing to a long drawing of a wall.

"Just a room," Seth says. "Bobby wanted some extra security, so I brought some drawings from the bunker."

"Bunker?" That hadn't been the first time Seth referred to a bunker, but it only makes John think of bomb drills in school.

"Yeah, I live in a bunker." Seth shuffles around the papers until they form mostly-organized piles. He's not looking at John, and his voice is a little muffled by the way he's tucking his chin into his chest. "It used to be a bomb shelter, but …"

He lifts one hand to flap in the air with a half-hearted gesture John can't begin to interpret. But then Bobby walks down the stairs again, empty-handed and alone.

"Your boys grew fast, Winchester," he says. "How tall is Dean now?"

"Pushing five-seven."

The kid's going to get taller than John at this rate, 'cuz he's certainly not done growing yet.

John waves the back of his hand across the table.

"What's all this?"

"Panic room," Bobby says, as if that's any kind of answer. "Seth brought some good ideas from the Men of Letters."

John juts his chin out and nods, considering.

"Big group, then," he asks, giving Seth a sideways look. "Real think tank of hunters?"

The thought makes him smile because it sounds like the biggest oxymoron since "jumbo shrimp." Seth just hangs his head and focuses on the paper he's trying to sort into piles.

"It's just me." He doesn't look anywhere but the table.

John leans back to look at Bobby; although he's probably not being very subtle about what he's doing. Doesn't really matter when Seth refuses to even raise his head. Bobby pushes his hat back off his head and uses the heel of his hand to smooth down what little hair he has left before he slides his hat right back where it belongs. The look he shoots John is all wrinkled eyebrows and mouth curved almost into an upside-down U.

So, Bobby probably knew that was a stupid question to ask Seth. John rolls his shoulders back and tries to figure out the best way to apologize.

"So, what'd you bring for me?" he asks.

Bobby rolls his eyes at the ceiling, and his arms spasm like he's a second away from throwing them up to the ceiling. John ignores all this and places his palms down on the table so he can lean into it.

"Yeah." Seth lays all the piles he's gathered in front of Bobby — who shoots Seth a dirty look as well — and reaches out to dig under another large sheet of graph paper. He pulls out a book as think as a dictionary and about a hundred years old. The pages are even yellow.

Seth sets the book down in front of John and flips the first few pages so that John could see the beginnings of what looked a whole lot like encyclopedia entries.

"That's the best demonology text I could find," Seth says. "It really helps if you know the name you're looking for, but I think we can get something from that."

John immediately starts clawing his way to the middle of the book to find the "M" names. Meg may not be an actual demon name, but he has to take the chance and find whatever he can.

"I got some better devil's traps than what you've been working with," Bobby says. "We can look them over and try to figure—"

John doesn't know if Bobby actually stops talking or if he just can't hear the man past the thundering of teenage feet down the stairs.

"Dean, wait!"

And there's the tagalong. Dean slides right up to the table and starts scanning the table, his head basically on a swivel as he tries to look at everything at once.

"We hunting something?" he asks eagerly.

"I told you this is just reconnaissance for now." John closes the book with all the demon names.

Dean is always more impressed with what he's doing — or what John tells him to do — when John starts talking like they're on missions. John can't really blame the kid. He's still at the age where soldiers are heroes, not guys who go into battle and don't come back or come back wounded.

Sammy shuffles his way next to Dean and gives the table a cursory glance.

"Dean, you said you'd help me unpack," he whines. "I gotta put my clothes away."

Seth glances at Bobby, confusion written all over his face. John doesn't tell either of the other men that this is what Sammy does: unpacks as soon as he can and stays that way for as long as he can.

"I want both of you learning from Seth while we're here," John says.

"Homework?" Dean's face twists into teenage disgust.

"It's summer, Dad." Sammy rests his chin on Bobby's table, not pouting but definitely lethargic.

"Hey, that reminds me," Seth says suddenly, "I brought something for you guys."

He turns and strides to Bobby's open living room, where an green olive duffle and two other bags are lined up next to Bobby's dilapidated couch. John shifts almost the same time as Sam and Dean do to watch where Seth is going.

"It's not books, is it?" Dean lifts his eyebrows to show how impressed he is with that idea.

Sammy almost straightens when Dean mentions books. But Seth just dives into the backpack next to his duffle and pulls out two baseball gloves. He stands up slowly again and gives a sheepish smile.

"I couldn't find a soccer ball," he says — and why would he want a soccer ball anyway? "But Bobby said he had a baseball around here somewhere."

John frowns and wants to protest. He's not even sure why; he could make the argument that they don't have time for a baseball game, but he doesn't really want the boys involved in this research anyway. But Sam's already halfway to Seth before he even remembers to look back at John for permission.

"We have some things to set up today, anyway," Bobby says. When John looks at the other man, Bobby shrugs by tilting his head on one shoulder rather than lifting the shoulder all the way up. "Probably won't get much studying done."

John can't argue, and a game of catch will at least get the boys out of the house while they look at demonology texts.

"Fine, go on."

Dean bolts from John's side and reaches Seth before Sammy even does. Bobby leaves the room as Seth hands over both gloves and lets the boys try them on.

"That's an adult glove," he says as Dean flexes his fingers to open and close the mitt of the glove. "I think it was my grandfather's."

A real family business, then, if Seth's father and grandfather were both hunters.

"This one's kinda small." Sammy frowns at his hand with his nose wrinkled.

"Sorry, it was the only kid's one I could find." Seth gives a useless tug to the tip of the glove, like he can stretch it to the right size. "It's not very used."

He gives Sam a hopeful smile then glances back to his backpack.

"I got another adult glove, but that's for …"

Seth doesn't really finish his sentence. Instead he glances at John like he's looking for permission, too. No. No way is John letting Seth off the hook so he can play catch while John does all the work.

"Go on, you two." He nods at his boys, and only at his boys.

Bobby walks back in and tosses a baseball that's more beige than white. It lands right in Dean's glove with a smack.

"You heard yer father," Bobby says. "Scamp!"

Dean shots Sammy a wide grin that has none of the smugness or cockiness that John usually sees in Dean's smiles. They both bolt for the door, scrambling outside as the door bangs shut behind them. John finally looks at Seth only to see him staring at the shut door, not smiling but not really pouting, either.

"Let's clean this up," Bobby says gruffly.

John turns back around and focuses on gathering up the papers on the table so he can actually see the wood underneath.