1. When his wife died, and Bobby started hunting, he met up with a real crank of an old hunter, Jamie-Lynn Foster. Jamie-Lynn--and didn't you risk her wrath if you ever tried to call her just "Jamie"--was a loner even for a hunter, and a foul-mouthed old biddy even after her third cup of coffee.
But she knew her stuff, took Bobby along on his first three exorcisms, taught him a hell of a lot about demons--not everything she knew, because there wasn't no way to do that. But she taught him what signs to look for and how to do the research and what made an exorcism ritual that worked.
When she kicked him out of her car on the side of the road one December night in Billings, Bobby figured that would be the last he'd ever hear of her.
Which made it all the more surprising when Jamie-Lynn died, and Bobby inherited her library.
He figured out, two months into the indexing project, that she hadn't meant it as a favor.
2. There's a house in Cheyenne, on the outskirts of town, that looks like nothing more than a run-down mid-60s ranch house, with a falling-down corral next to it and two old trucks up on blocks in the yard. Inside, organized by no system comprehensible to the stranger, is the best collection in North America about the nature spirits and monsters of the New World.
When he goes there, Bobby never meets the librarian; he's not entirely sure if the librarian is even human, as he's never seen him (or her) or heard his (or her) voice. Visitors stand in the carport and speak into a tube, and after twenty minutes to an hour, a book comes out through the slot in the door, in exchange for five hundred cash as a deposit. The loan is only good for a day, and no visitor can take out more than one book at a time.
Even though no hunter Bobby knows of has ever been inside, Bobby's pretty sure the librarian keeps a pet, because every time he borrows something, he hears this weird "ook" noise, and the book comes out with coarse orange hair stuck in the binding.
3. Bobby wouldn't call John Winchester's collection an archive. It's technically a miscellany; a random assortment of materials John's felt useful over the years. Most of it is material Bobby already has, anyway. But Bobby at least makes a habit of not tearing pages out of codexes in university libraries.
If there's a god of archivists, John Winchester's surely suffering the torments of the damned.
4. Once, about five years ago, Bobby had to track down the first name and hometown of a soldier who'd been in the Legion of the United States in 1793. It had to do with a restless spirit and a colonial farmhouse and the possessed statue of a beloved cow (no, seriously).
The only place to find that information is in the National Archives, in Washington DC.
So Bobby dusted off his denims and drove down from Ithaca (which was where the farmhouse was) and parked his truck on the National Mall and went into the archives, trying not to look like too much of a hick from the boondocks.
But it was hard, because the building seemed even bigger on the inside than the outside, with the tall ceilings and the marble and brass everywhere. And they checked his ID twice just getting into the building, and then he couldn't just ask for the materials, he had to get a researcher's card, and then they wouldn't let him bring anything into the records room but a pencil and a piece of blank paper.
"Fort Knox ain't guarded better than this," he groused to the guard who stamped his blank paper; the guard just waved him to the request desk.
Bobby had written down everything he needed to ask for. They checked his slip twice and then the young red-headed girl walked away, leaving him at the table. The room was large, filled with small tables lit by desk lamps, and despite the two dozen people it contained, fairly quiet. Every once in a while, there was a rustle as someone turned a page, or a whisper between the reference librarians. Bobby resisted the urge to drum his fingers on the desk.
Finally the girl came back wheeling a cart, on which was piled a series of enormous folders, each three feet by two, which she stacked on his desk before turning away.
"Right, then," Bobby muttered, and set to work, opening the folders and paging slowly through the contents. And while he was here for a job, and lives were at stake, it wasn't long before he was suckered in. Because these were the original muster rolls from the late 1700s, written by hand in quill pen by men who had faced down the British Army and maybe fought under George Washington himself. Bobby was used to old material: he had books in his library that were three times as old as the United States themselves. But somehow this was different, this was public, it was history, important in a way much different from his texts about demon possession and 17th-century rites of transfiguration.
When he found what he was looking for -- Pvt. William James, enlisted January 24th 1792, Medford Massachusetts -- Bobby just took a few minutes to sit there and appreciate that he could touch this, touch the lives of these men, most of whom were now forgotten.
And then he went back to his truck and drove up to Ithaca and torched the son-of-a-bitch.
5. In 1989 Bobby's library was much smaller than it would become later, but he was already getting a name as the guy you asked about things supernatural if you were within a thousand miles of South Dakota. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when John Winchester showed up for the first time, looking for advice about a bush-devil in Newark, Oklahoma.
Winchester had a name already, as yet another hunter-by-tragedy rather than being raised to it, and for that alone Bobby had some sympathy for the man. Said sympathy didn't, however, extend to letting Winchester's kids loose in Bobby's house. There were delicate artifacts there, and weapons, and delicate artifacts far more dangerous than any weapon.
"Stay on the porch, boys," growled Winchester, and followed Bobby inside.
An hour later, leaving Winchester poring over the Grindle Codex on the kitchen table, Bobby got up to check on MacNamara. The dog was on the porch where he'd been left, sprawled boneless in the summer sun, but the boys were nowhere to be seen.
"Sammy!" a voice hissed from around the corner. "C'mon, Dad's gonna catch us!"
Bobby raised an eyebrow and followed the whisper around the corner of the veranda, to find the older boy, Dean, crouched against the open window into the library. Frowning a bit, Bobby backtracked silently and went back into the house, coming to a halt in the doorway into the library.
Little Sammy Winchester wasn't but five years old at that point, Bobby figured, and if asked, Bobby would have guessed Sammy couldn't do more than read his ABCs.
But there the boy was, hunched over an open book on the table, his finger tracing over what looked to be a summoning ritual for a lesser Albanian tree-sprite. Sounding out the words, his face twisted in concentration.
"Can you read Albanian, son?" asked Bobby dryly, letting himself loom over the boy like the wrath of God.
The kid jumped, gulping loudly, and Bobby heard Dean hiss, "Shit!" from the veranda.
"No, sir!" squawked Sammy.
Bobby nodded solemnly and closed the book, putting it back on the shelf where it belonged. "Then you shouldn't be in here. Come back when you can read Latin, Greek, and Sumerian without moving your lips, and we'll see."
"You're not gonna tell Dad?" the boy asked, his eyes wide.
"Tell me what?" John Winchester stood in the doorway, coat on and journal in his hands. He'd got what he needed, then.
"Your youngest loves books, Winchester," said Bobby easily, and turned to let the boy out. "But I figure he's safer in the children's section for a while yet."
"I expect so," said Winchester after a moment, and smiled, but the hesitation made Bobby wonder, then and later, how much he knew, and when he'd learned it.