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Breathe

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Their Clint Eastwood movie marathon was, not surprisingly, interrupted by a phone call.

 

Dean hit ‘pause’, listening to Bobby’s end of the conversation.

 

“Yeah….Whoa, whoa, calm down!  Just tell me what happened.”  Bobby pantomimed writing something down, and Dean pushed himself to his feet to find the man what he needed.

 

“Uh-huh….Yeah, I been there once or twice...Sure sounds like it --”  He snatched the paper and pencil from Dean’s hands, locking the phone between his shoulder and ear as he began writing furiously.  “What’s that address again?”  He checked it against what he had jotted down.  “Alright, you just hang tight….No, don’t!  You’ll just git yerself killed!....Yeah, I’ll give Winchester a call.”

 

Dean cocked an eyebrow.

“Coupla guys I know that hunt together.  Went after a vamp, stumbled into a nest.  One of ‘em got taken.”

“You think he’s still alive?”

Bobby’s look was grim.  “Depends on how you define ‘alive’.”  

 


 

“I’m not going.”

John growled in irritation.  “For Christ’ sake, Sam!  A hunter is missing, and it’s the goddamn weekend!  What is your deal?”

 

“Hunter hunter hunter!  Got me a hunter!”  

Sam folded his arms over his chest to hide a shudder.

“I’m done with it.  I told you that.  Just because you refuse to believe it doesn’t make it any less true.”

 

“You are coming with us!  That’s an order, Sam!”

The lanky teen shifted his stance, widening his base.  “Make me.”

John started towards him, and Bobby reached out, laying a hand on his bicep.  “John --”

The enraged father jerked his arm away violently, and Bobby gasped as the motion ground the two halves of his separated sternum together.

A sneer flickered across John’s face and was gone again, the arm continuing its motion, fist headed toward his younger son’s insolent --

Dean stepped in front of his brother, shoving Sam back as he raised an arm to block his father’s blow.  “Dad --”

He barely had time to drop his elbow, shielding his ribs from a left hook, plowing forward with a forearm curled over the side of his face as another right came at him.  He wrapped around his father, driving with his legs, forcing the man across the room and away from Sam.  “Dad!  Calm down!”

He meant to sound commanding, but the panic that chased through him at what he well knew could be the imminent dissolution of his family twisted his words into a desperate plea.

He stopped short of slamming his father into the wall, pressing his hands to the older man’s chest instead.  “Maybe we should --”

 

Pain exploded inside his midsection as John crushed his son’s testicles with a well-placed knee.

Dean’s torso folded in on itself as his legs buckled, and John kicked him in the chest, sending the injured man onto his side, retching.

 

The sound of a hammer being cocked dropped like a bomb in the middle of the room, and everything stopped.

 

“You touch that boy again and I’ll be saltin’ and burnin’ your body within the hour.”

 

Bobby’s voice was as steady as his aim.

 

John took a step back, palms raised.  “We need him, Bobby.  It’s a whole nest.”

“No, we don’t.  An’ we don’t need you, either.  Get out.”  He gestured toward the door with his head.

“Bobby --”

“I will shoot you, Winchester.”

 

John’s eyes flicked to Dean, who had pushed himself up to a sitting position to lean against the bed, legs sprawled, one arm across his stomach, the other hand cupping his groin.  “Dean.”

Bracing his palm on the top of the mattress, the younger hunter lifted himself slowly to his feet.  “Yes, Sir.”

 

“You don’t have to go, Dean,” Sam’s strident voice called to him.

 

Tortured green eyes  focused on Bobby fleetingly before settling on his younger brother.  “They took a hunter, Sam.  I gotta.” And I need to get Dad away from you before he does something I can’t fix.  He licked his lips, eyes flicking to Bobby once more, then away.  “I’m sorry.”

 

He followed his father out the door.


“Jesus Christ.”  Bobby lowered the pistol, arms shaking, and nearly fell into the frail chair beside an equally questionable table.

“You okay, Bobby?”  Sam’s voice was small.

The frazzled hunter set his gun down to wipe a hand down his face.  “I could use a drink.”

 


 

All Dean wanted was for the people he cared about to get along.   What the hell was Sam thinking?  And Bobby!  He drew a fucking gun on my dad!  Would he really have shot him?  What the hell is happening to this family?

 

“Are you sure you’re up to this, kiddo?”

 

Dean was fairly certain that was the closest his father would come to apologizing for kneeing him in the balls.

He also knew that John didn’t expect an honest answer.

“Yeah.  I’m good.”

He turned his head, watching his father in the reflection of the passenger window as they sped down a dark highway.

“I just don’t know what gets into your brother sometimes,” John offered.

Dean reached for the olive branch tentatively.  “He’s just not like us, Dad.”  He hesitated, not sure how volatile his father still was.  “Maybe we tried a little too hard to keep him safe, ya know?”

He felt his father’s ire, knew to change the subject.  “He’s only got a week of school left.  Maybe he’ll settle down after that.”

John grunted, but his grip on the steering wheel relaxed.  “You sure you know where we’re headed?”

“Yeah.  Heard Bobby say it, but I also watched him write it down.”  He paused.  “I hope we make it in time.”

And the big car rumbled on.

 


 

Sam handed his surrogate father a bottle of beer and a pair of Tylenol.  “I’m sorry, Bobby.”

“‘S alright, kid.  You got a right to find your own way.”

The tall young man dropped into a chair, suddenly appearing much younger than his seventeen years. “I can’t do it anymore, Bobby.”

The older man kept his eyes on the bottle turning deliberately between his fingers, waiting.

“That last hunt...this crazy vampire kidnapped me.”  Sam swallowed, and Bobby caught the residual horror in his voice as he went on, “He was going to make me rape women to build a...a herd of feeders.”

“Christ, Sam.  No wonder you refused to take on another nest.  I don’t blame ya, son.”

Sam blinked back tears.  “Well, clearly my father does .”

“He’s obsessed, Sam, you know that.  Has been as long as I’ve known him.”

“What do you think he’s going to do?”

“As pissed as he is right now?  Probably clear that nest single-handed.”   I just hope to God he doesn’t take out Dean, too.  Why’d I let that boy go?

Sam shook his head impatiently.  “No: I mean when he gets back.”  He shifted, eyes flicking to the gun resting on the table between him.  “You threatened to shoot him.  Don’t you think he’ll do something about that?  Aren’t you afraid?”

“Ain’t the first time I’ve threatened to ventilate your father, boy.  The man is the most bull-headed idjit I ever met.”  He raised the bottle to his lips, closing his eyes as the cold brew washed down his throat.  “He’ll get over it just as quick though.  Long as this hunt goes good, that is.”

“Maybe.”  Sam picked at a mark on the battered table top.

Bobby chuckled, breaking the sound off to wince and press a hand to his chest.  “Betcha twenty bucks he walks back through that door and  pretends nothin’ ever happened.”  He couldn’t tell the boy that it wasn’t himself he was afraid for.

Sam relaxed enough to throw him a wan smile.  “I don’t have twenty bucks.  Make it a nickel?”

And Bobby laughed.

 


 

“You think they’re Bobby’s friends?”

Dean was examining the room, avoiding the mangled bodies that had decorated it with a thick coat of crimson.   Why do vamps spill so much blood instead of drinking it?

John squatted down, pushing a dismembered corpse over to fish an ensanguined wallet out of the back pocket.  He flipped it open, examined the contents briefly, then held it out to Dean.

“Game warden?”  Dean cocked an eyebrow.

John leveled his eyes on his son, face solemn.

“Oh.  Fake I.D.  Got it.”  Dean shook his head.  “We were too late.”

John stood, wiping his palms on his jeans.  “We were too far away.”  He scanned the derelict warehouse they were standing in.  “Better take care of them.  Keep an eye out, though.  Never know if the blood suckers are layin’ a trap for us.”

 

 

 


 

They stopped at a rest area to catch some sleep just as the sun was coming up.

 

A hunter’s funeral -- wrapping the body in cloth soaked with salt water, then placing it on a pyre and watching it burn --  took some time.

They’d found the bodies of two decapitated vampires, as well.  Those had also been burned, but with much less ceremony.

“Eye for an eye?”  Dean posited, and his father just shrugged.

Whatever the case, the vamps were still out there, and the hunters’ deaths needed to be avenged.

Dean hoped that would be enough to make his father forget the incident in the motel room the previous evening.

 

Or at least pretend to forget.

 

It was, after all, the Winchester way.