“So, have you completed your assignment?” Caroline set two cut glass tumblers on the table.
“Yeah.” He opened his journal. “I worked it out like an algorithm. Took me hours.” He studied the page as if it had been written by someone else.
“And….I could lose them. You said to weigh the pros and cons, and that’s...that’s one of the cons: I could lose my boys.”
Caroline had located another bottle of Branton’s, and she poured them each a glass.
John ignored his. “I could...I could let ‘em go. Let Sam go to college, let Dean do...whatever it is that he wants to do. And I could keep huntin’ myself, or I could stop….”
He was smoothing the open pages of the journal repetitively, like petting a cat.
“But it feels like…” His voice broke. I am so fucking tired of crying. “Like I’d be letting Mary die. Like as long as I’m looking for this thing that...that killed her...then she’s not really dead, like she could still be out there, still come back, if I just get rid of this thing…”
His breathing was uneven.
He stroked the pages.
“I know that’s not gonna happen.” His voice was a whisper. “I know she’s...she’s gone. But I still can’t...I still gotta kill that thing. For her, I gotta do it.”
“So, just to be clear, you’re choosing revenge for Mary’s death over the possibility of losing both of your sons?”
He swiped angrily at his face, refusing to look at her. “Makes me some kind of asshole, right?”
His admission echoed in the stillness.
“I’ll do everything I can to protect them. I will. Teach ‘em, make ‘em strong. And if they wanna leave, they can. I won’t make it easy, won’t help ‘em desert their mother, but I won’t force ‘em to stay. To be hunters.”
He emptied his glass in one swallow.
Caroline refilled it.
Callused fingers scraped worn paper.
“She was mine first, you know?” His voice had faded to a rough whisper.
Caroline tilted her head in acknowledgement, an unnecessary gesture, as John had not bothered to look to see how she responded.
“She was my wife before she was their mother. I love my boys, I do, and I’m proud of ‘em...but she came first. Mary comes first.”
He looked up, eyes dry.
“That’s my choice.”
“Hey, Mother. I’m home.”
“Zellynnexia, my child,” full lips brushed across Dr. Kim’s forehead, then pulled away abruptly. “What is it, ‘Lynnexia?”
Lynne draped her purse and coat over the back of a chair before dropping into a seat at the table. “I met someone…”
“Show me.” Her mother rested long, elegant fingers on Lynne’s forearm.
Both women closed their eyes.
Her fingers splayed of their own accord. His heart beat strongly under her palm, and she closed her eyes. Nearly against her will that errant hand strayed, appreciating velvet skin over taut muscle--
“Winchester,” the older female breathed, breaking contact.
“You know him?”
“Dean Winchester. He’s a hunter. We have been looking for him.”
“Just ‘cause they pulled the catheter out of yer dick don’t mean ya gotta leave tonight,” Bobby argued. “They left the IV catheter in your hand for a reason.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Dean promptly yanked said IV out. “Help me up.”
“Fer what?” A rough palm pressed Dean back into the mattress. “Ya fergit what happened a couple hours ago when you tried to sit up? Use the bed, ya idjit.” He pressed a button on the controller, and a mechanical hum carried Dean into a sitting position.
“I gotta take a piss, alright, Bobby? And I am not callin’ a nurse who’ll just bring me a damned bedpan!” I’ve taken about as much humiliation as I can stand for one week.
“Well, just calm down and take it easy. Lemme help.”
“I been handlin’ this on my own since I was three. Pretty sure I got it.” He moved to swing his legs off the bed and hissed in pain, forearm pressing to his side.
Bobby lowered the bed rail, then stood, waiting.
“Fuckin’ hate broken ribs,” Dean mumbled. He closed his eyes, his entire being focused on breathing, on fighting back the blackness that taunted him with the promise of oblivion.
When he opened his eyes again, Bobby was ready. Dean made no objection as the older man helped him to his feet, then slid his arm around Dean’s waist, hand curling over his right hip, holding the injured man as he swayed.
The stubborn young hunter, face deathly pale once more, closed his eyes, swallowing convulsively.
Bobby had done this dance with Dean before. “I got nowhere else to be, kid. Take all the time ya need.”
“Better move before my feet freeze to the damned floor,” Dean groused. “Why are hospitals always so fuckin’ cold?”
“To keep half-naked assholes like you in bed where they belong!” Bobby grunted in reply.
They shuffled across the floor, Dean steadily taking more of his own weight, until they reached the bathroom.
“You got this?” Bobby queried. “‘Cause if not, well, wouldn’t be the first time I--”
“Bobby, if you don’t stop bringin’ up that time I got wasted as a twelve-year-old and you had to hold my dick for me so I wouldn’t piss all over myself, I swear to God--”
Bobby chuckled. “Needed a tweezers and a magnifyin’ glass--”
“When I’m healed, I’m beatin’ your ass.”
“Yeah, well, first step is ta piss without fallin’ on your ass. Get to it, boy.”
He patted Dean lightly on the shoulder, and felt the man flinch.
He winced himself before pulling the door part way closed and turning his back to it. “I’ll be right here. Try to call me before ya fall, not after, okay?”
Dean pinned the front of the hospital gown under the hand that he had planted on the edge of the sink. He’s not listening, he tried to tell his bladder, knowing full well that his old friend sure as hell was listening--listening for the sound of Dean passing out and crashing to the floor. He closed his eyes, concentrating-- relax, just relax -- and was rewarded with a sharp sting that quickly faded as his raw urethra rid itself of the last reminder of its own personal torture. Fuckin’ hate catheters.
He sighed as his bladder emptied. Now all I gotta do is eat without hurlin’, and I can go ho--well, I can leave here.
He washed and dried his hands without ever once meeting his own eyes in the mirror.
“What makes Dean Winchester so special?” Why were you looking for him, and why did he have such a strong effect on me?
We created him, child. “Dean Winchester is part of the reason that we were exiled.” Meridiana rested her fingertips on Zellynnexia’s forearm. Mother and daughter closed their eyes.
“It doesn’t have to be this way!” Meridiana stared down at the dead man, disgust a blight on her otherwise perfect features. “We can live as symbionts rather than parasites, create a new race, Nephilim that will be strong enough to--”
“Stop!” Irdulili’s thunder shook the ground. “Nephilim.” He spat lightning at Meridiana’s feet, and his disgust at the word approximated hers of the dead man. “Offspring of ‘sons of God’ and ‘daughters of man’. Are we? Are we sons of God?” Thunder roared as he bore down on her, and despite herself, Meridiana felt her heart tremble. “God lays no such claim. He has forsaken us. We are demons, Daughter! And demons do not serve man!” His voice had risen to a mind-numbing howl, and she cowered before him.
He froze. Meridiana looked up, and in the sudden terrifying stillness, she realized that he had just seen what she had done. “Cambion,” he uttered, voice a bare rumble.
She inched backward. “Father….”
He started enlarging before her eyes. “Cambion,” and his volume was growing as well.
She began to retreat in earnest. “No, Father, let me explain!”
He had doubled in size, a roiling black cloud of malevolence that threatened to devour her. “CAMBION!”
His arm lashed out and a streak of lightning split her in two.
The contact was broken and the two females opened their eyes.
“Mother! You created a cambion?” Lynne’s voice was breathless with disbelief.
“No. That’s what I had wanted to explain to your grandfather, but he was too incensed to listen. We--myself and some like-minded ‘Cubi--we influenced a man and a woman to come together. She came from a long line of Hunters, he from a similarly long ancestry of Men of Letters. The two most powerful lines among the humans, those best equipped to battle Darkness.”
“We went to them in dreams, disguised as the other. Mary dreamt of John, John of Mary, before they ever met.”
Meridiana smiled. “And when they came together, we...we introduced just a touch of ‘Cubi. We ensured that the child that was conceived by these two powerful humans would have the added strength, physical resilience, and seductive powers of a ‘Cubi.”
“Mother!” Lynne breathed, awed.
“The child we created is Dean Winchester.”