An eerie silence fell over the exhibits on display, from the cowboys standing in front of the panoramic fašade to the Native Americans all standing in their circle prepared to do their dance for museum visitors, from the animals standing at attention in their nature exhibits to the ancient artifacts nestled under protective glass.
Light from a flashlight shone on the Native American artifacts and grew brighter as Larry, the night security guard, approached the exhibit on his routine sweep of the museum.
A little out of breath, he quickly swept through the remaining exhibits. It was the same as it was every night. Just him and the exhibits. Being a night watchman always sounded glamorous enough to people, but Larry figured they’d never actually done the job.
It was, in short, boring. Lock the doors--check. Set up security surveillance--check. Do hourly rounds--check. Try not to fall asleep--check. Learn how to have long conversations with himself and drink lots of coffee--check and check.
What did people think--that the exhibits would move? That someone would actually want to break in and steal ancient Indian weavings?
No, it was all a requirement. Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. Larry was just anxious to get back to his security station since his darling wife, Ann, had packed him a thermos of his favorite coffee as well as one of her homemade donuts.
As he reached his station intent on enjoying both, the lights started to flicker.
Since the generator had been on the fritz on and off during the past week, Larry shrugged to himself and settled down to enjoy his snack. Not even a minute had gone by, when the lights flickered again. It took them longer to recover this time and blinked out long enough to trip the security tape.
Which meant not only did he have to make another sweep--as per protocol--but he had to ensure electrical integrity.
He grumbled under his breath as he got up to go and check on the generator.
As he moodily stalked out of the security station, he failed to notice the flickering of the video image as a dark figure crossed the screen.
Muttering to himself about his frugal bosses, Larry strolled down the dim corridors that led to the generator room. This was just like the guys upstairs. So concerned with their precious funding that they’d spend fifty thousand at the drop of a hat to secure some traveling rock exhibit, but when it came to basic maintenance? Well, that simply wasn’t in the budget.
Sighing, he unlocked the utility room. Switching on the lights, he moved past the equipment and found his way to the generator. Expecting to see the generator not working, he was surprised to find that it was running just fine.
Puzzled, he started to turn back, becoming more alert to his surroundings as he went. The lights were still flickering occasionally and that fact alone was making him feel very anxious as he switched from a quick stroll to jogging down the corridors.
An echoing noise sounded throughout the building.
Larry froze, his breathing quickened and fingers tensed on his stun gun. That was not normal, he thought to himself as he nervously glanced up and down the corridor.
The noise echoed again, louder this time, and he swallowed hard. They’d had some electrical storms lately--it could just be something related to that. Or maybe faulty wiring--this place was pretty old.
Still, the noise--it was hard to ignore.
Harder still to explain away.
Cautious, his fingers clutched tighter around the flashlight as he started to move in the direction of the Native American display.
He crept down the corridor and as he neared the exhibit, his breath caught in his throat, his fingers curling on the gun. With a burst of bravado, he shone his flashlight and--
Saw the Native American mannequins standing in their circle.
Just like he’d left them.
He was getting too old for this. Ann would tell him he needed to relax--the doctor didn’t like his blood pressure as it was without his old fool mind playing tricks on him.
Laughing to himself, he searched the place once more before turning back to go to his waiting coffee and donut.
He crossed the threshold of the exhibit room, walking smooth and easy before he was yanked clear off his feet into a strong, unyielding grip.
Larry’s terrified screams echoed throughout the museum, as the security camera captured his body collapsing to the ground while a dark figure loomed over his dying body, holding a knife dripping blood.
As the shadowed figure turned to leave, he lingered for a second in front of the camera. Black-eyed and smiling, John Winchester saluted the camera as he walked away from Larry’s corpse.
Sunlight shone into the room, falling on the sleeping figure on the couch. The room looked old and worn. Though Bobby was not a fastidious cleaner by any stretch of the imagination, the room was even more untidy than normal. There was an assortment of weaponry spread out on the far wall near the fireplace, as well as haphazard collection of clothing spilling out of two duffle bags lying at the base of the couch. Some of the room’s former glory was still visible through the patches of faded flower pattern wallpaper still on the walls.
The couch was too small for the slumbering figure, making it an uncomfortable bed. Sam had outgrown it years ago, but some habits died hard. In some ways, Sam supposed Dean was trying to be a good big brother by giving Sam the couch. In truth, Sam was pretty sure he’d prefer the floor.
Shifting, Sam attempted to find a better position, one with less pressure on the small of his back, before snuffling and attempting to ease his way back into unconsciousness.
The door on the far end of the room opened quietly, a faint creak of the hinges marring the stillness. Cautiously, Dean crept into the room, clearly doing his best not to wake Sam. The older brother sighed, and Sam heard him pick up one of the bags before padding back out of the room.
For as observant as Dean was, he didn’t notice the eyes that followed him as he left the room.
Sitting up on the couch, Sam gave up the pretense of sleep. Lately, he had just...he couldn’t really say. He felt lost, out of focus. Nights weren’t easy and his days weren’t much better. Ever since Timothy Sheldon painfully possessed him—Sam shivered at the memory—he was forced to relive Timothy’s devastation when he thought that his sister had abandoned him and that he was left all alone. Contemplating the entire ordeal, Sam compared Timothy’s pain to Dean’s devastation of losing him.
Sam shuddered as he recalled the painful flashes he experienced while Timothy’s spirit controlled him: Dean standing over him sobbing and begging Sam not to leave him—shifting from upset to anger to being achingly alone. It wasn’t easy for Sam to know that his hero of a big brother really depended on him—he had always thought the opposite, since growing up he had seemed dependent on Dean for so much.
Sam knew if he hadn’t been brought back then Dean would have definitely done something more drastic. That was just Dean’s style. Sam didn’t like to think about it, but part of him knew Dean would have tried to join Sam and their parents, as desperate and misguided as it would be. After all, they knew now their dad probably hadn’t gone to Heaven, and there was no sense of where their mother had ended up after seeing her spirit and Lawrence. And given Sam’s new found memories, he was fairly certain his own fate wouldn’t have been much different. Sam probably would have remained a ghost, not passing over any time soon.
Still, Sam could understand the appeal. He sometimes wished it were true. That Dad and Mom were up there in Heaven together, that maybe he could have been there, too, biding his time until Dean joined him. Winchesters didn’t seem meant for happy endings, though.
Nonetheless, he was grateful he and Dean had worked things out for Timothy and his sister. Sam liked to think they’d also brought peace to the siblings, seeing as Kady passed on not even minutes after she spoke to Timothy’s spirit.
But whatever peace it had afforded to Kady and Timothy, it seemed to have stripped Sam of his. Ever since his death and resurrection, he’d felt...off, that much was undeniable. But actually remembering it, feeling what it was like to die, to wander as a ghost--it was an entirely different thing. It was dark and it was hollowing, as though his soul had been ripped so harshly from his body that it was left in tatters.
The experience with Timothy had left Sam addled with nightmares. Dreams and visions had always been his curse, even before he knew of the Yellow-Eyed Demon’s presence in his life. But now, the dreams were different. Dark and visceral. And they all started out the same: Dean, standing over Sam’s bloodied body.
What was weird was that the dreams started off just like the flashes he’d experienced right after his resurrection. The same dark, uncertain feel, but then they changed. Sometimes, Dean would stop crying and just laugh gleefully while saying that it was good Sam was dead. Other times, Dean would talk to him and try to convince him to come back and finish what he started—killing Jake, since it was his destiny.
As difficult to understand as those could be, there were even more variations, like when a glowing figure appeared beside Dean and gestured towards Sam. He liked to think of his mother when he recalled those particular versions, that she was there to guide Sam or to comfort Dean. But the presence never stayed, and it was gone before Sam could feel any of its warmth, and it left him hollow and colder than ever.
In the end, any variation of the dream left Sam feeling restless. Sometimes, the dreams were so bad, so intense, that he would lay awake for most of the night, not wanting to fall asleep and dream at all.
It seemed like there should be closure in remembering. Some kind of letting go. But Sam still didn’t know why it had happened--why he’d been in Cold Oak to begin with. What had the demon wanted? What had brought him back? Would he ever feel whole again?
He wondered if Dean could tell that there was something wrong with him, something missing in him. He hoped to God that Dean didn’t because Sam didn’t know how he would handle that. His own self-loathing was hard enough to deal with; thinking about enduring it from Dean as well...well, it was the one thing Sam wasn’t sure he could survive.
Sam knew Dean would never let on, even if he did sense something off about Sam. That was the way Dean was; he would lie to Sam’s face if he thought it was for the best.
Sam couldn’t help but be grateful to have a brother who would do that for him.
That still didn’t change the fact that Sam had darkness in him, though--nothing would. It didn’t change his doubts either, not only about himself, but that his brother would wake up and see Sam for who he really was--for what he really was. And it certainly didn’t change the fact that Dean had more thoughts about this than he was letting on. After all, Dean was sneaking out of the room before him, casting forlorn looks his way and giving weary sighs. This wasn’t easy on Dean either--not Sam, not their dad, and there was something else with Dean that Sam couldn’t quite place yet.
Sam figured His big brother had his secrets, and if Sam weren’t so intent on keeping his own that might bother him more. But they were both different since Cold Oak, in good and bad ways, and Sam wondered if they’d ever face up to the fact that things really weren’t going to be the same. Not anymore. Not with Sam’s so-called miraculous resurrection. Not with their father...
But if Dean didn’t have to talk about the various pink elephants in the room, then Sam didn’t either. Sam couldn’t deny certain truths, but that didn’t mean he was ready to face them. Especially when it came to his death.
With a sigh, Sam shook his head at his dark thoughts. He couldn’t run from his destiny. With that, he got up to get dressed before joining Dean and Bobby for breakfast. After all, this stop at Bobby’s wasn’t pleasure--it was all business.
Normally, Sam might have found that wearisome. But these days, he was willing to take any distraction he could get.
Throwing his legs over the side of the couch, he rolled his shoulders to work the kinks out of his back. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants, he padded toward the kitchen mentally bracing himself. Time to face another day; maybe focusing on something else would take his mind off things.
Bobby had been very cryptic two nights before when he had first called Sam’s cell. All he said was that they should just get their asses over to his place on the double.
Sam had glanced at Dean, who was eyeing the cute blonde waitress serving them and told him what Bobby had said. They immediately paid and left, changing their direction and starting toward Bobby’s. They had arrived after midnight, and Bobby had directed them to their usual sleeping quarters in the living room and said they would talk in the morning.
Sam wondered what Bobby wanted to talk to them about; it was highly unlikely that it was about his salvage place and how well it was doing. No--it had to do with something else. Given Bobby’s reluctance to broach the topic at all on the phone or when they’d arrived, Sam could only figure that Bobby was nervous about the conversation.
Bobby Singer was many things, but nervous was not among them. No, as far as Sam could tell, there were really only two things that could make Bobby this uncertain: the opening of the devil’s trap in Wyoming and him, that demon who dared parade around in John Winchester’s meatsuit.
The first was bad. The second was worse. And since Bobby had already helped them figure out that the demons were working toward the apocalypse now, he could only guess that Bobby’s news related to their father--or the thing that looked like their father.
Grimacing, Sam swallowed hard. If that was the case, Sam hoped that Dean didn’t take the news too badly, knowing his brother and his hero-ship of their father. More than anything, Sam didn’t want to see Dean get hurt.
“Morning,” he said as he crossed over to the counter to pop some bread in the toaster.
Dean and Bobby looked up from their respective breakfasts, chorusing, “Morning.”
Sam offered a meager reply and eased into a seat, pouring himself a cup of coffee and a bowl full of cereal. “So,” he said. “What’s so important?”
Dean snorted and rolled his eyes a little.
Bobby shot him a glare. He took a sip of coffee, swallowed hard, and looked at Sam. “Enjoy your breakfast, first,” he said.
Sam raised his eyebrows. “Since when do we put the hunt second?”
“Since today,” Bobby groused. “Now eat.”
The message was clear enough. Sam had enough to deal with. Whatever Bobby’s mystery news was, Sam supposed he should be grateful for the reprieve, however brief.
Even without talk of Bobby’s news, it was a slightly tense breakfast. Sam kept catching Dean shooting him weird looks and he sighed to himself. Dean never could leave well enough alone. He had to butt in and get involved no matter how much Sam didn’t want him to. Sam tried to ignore him by chatting to Bobby about books they had both read lately. Bobby was cool like that—being able to talk shop with Dean and talk about books and intellectual subjects with Sam.
It wasn’t long after they had all finished eating when Sam turned to Bobby. They’d made enough small talk and exhausted the friendly topics. “So now can you tell us about this hunt you mentioned?” he asked.
Bobby looked grim. “You ain’t gonna like it.”
Sam thought it was probably about Wyoming since Bobby didn’t seem have a lot of good news lately. And well, anything to do with Wyoming was always news nobody liked.
Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, we haven’t liked much of anything lately, so how will this be any different?”
Bobby sighed and turned around to go wash the breakfast plates, nodding a thanks to Sam who stood up and was clearing the table. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Ten minutes later, they all gathered in the living room, standing in front of a rather pathetic looking TV. Scowling, Bobby dusted it a little and then maneuvered a VHS tape into the battered VCR.
Dean wondered what Bobby wanted to show them. He glanced at Sam, who looked resigned and determined at the same time.
Huh, so Sam figured things out with that gigantic head of his, Dean thought to himself. He wasn’t surprised Sam had kept another thing from him. Sam had been keeping a lot from him recently and he was growing tired of it.
Lately, he was just tired, period. Ever since the hunt with Timothy Sheldon, Sam had been having nightmares and since they slept in the same room, they also kept Dean up. What was worse about it was that Sam hadn’t spoken to him about them. He was keeping secrets from him and Dean didn’t like it.
It wasn’t like he had much of a leg to stand on in that regard, though, not that he’d ever let on to Sam. Dean’s own nightmares were still hit and miss, but when they were on, they were on. Dean knew the only reason Sam hadn’t pounced on them yet was because he was so afflicted with his own.
Which was what really mattered. Dean could deal with no sleep and freaky-assed dreams. But his instincts about Sam were screaming that something wasn’t right with his little brother, and that was something that Dean just wasn’t cool with.
Ever since the Yellow-Eyed Demon had returned Sam from wherever he’d been, the kid had been different. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, that scared Dean. That scared Dean a lot. What if Sam wasn’t Sam? He couldn’t deal with that, especially since there was the possibility that their Dad was alive.
God, he was just so bone tired.
But there wasn’t time to be tired. Dean couldn’t afford it.
If Bobby wanted to talk about the hunt, Dean would talk about the hunt, even if the older hunter was being pretty vague about the whole thing.
“Ever heard of DVDs?” Dean asked, quirking his lips into a smile he didn’t quite feel. Bobby was a man of contradictions. Smart enough to ward off any demon or supernatural creature, while being still old school enough to be comfortable using the aged VHS.
“This is a bit of a bootlegged copy,” Bobby explained with exasperation. “It was hard to get as it was.”
“What is it?” Sam asked.
“A copy from a video surveillance feed from the Natural History Museum at Western Wyoming College.”
Dean made a face. So much for a distraction. They’d had more than enough to do in that part of the world recently. From Sam’s miraculous resurrection to the devil’s gate opening one of the seals of the apocalypse...yeah, he was pretty sure that nothing good could come out of the North American Rockies.
Bobby hit play and Sam leaned forward to get a closer look. “What are we looking for?”
Bobby sat back, his posture ominously guarded. “You’ll see.”
They watched the guard’s routine sweep of the museum, nothing unusual happening. Boring footage of a pudgy old guy making his lonely rounds. Then, Dean shook his head. For a second there, he could have sworn that he saw the lights flicker. It was a slight thing, only there for a second before the footage seemed mundane once again.
He chuckled to himself. This was definitely the result of sleep derivation-- he hadn’t been getting much sleep lately. Between Sam and himself, coffee could only take him so far.
But then the lights flickered again and next to him, Sam sat up in his chair abruptly, shoulders stiff and at attention. Apparently, he saw it too.
Huh, So I’m not going crazy, Dean thought to himself. That was somehow reassuring. Ghosts and demons were a step up from insanity any day.
He glanced back at the screen, focusing again, as a dark figure came into the picture.
There was something strangely familiar about it--the way it moved, the shape of it.
The way it wielded the knife as it sliced the guard’s throat.
Sam whispered something like a prayer--or a curse, Dean wasn’t sure which.
In the back of his mind, Dean wondered what the point was. It wasn’t like faith had gotten Sam very far at this point.
Just then, the figure turned to the camera, saluting them. Bobby hit pause on John Winchester’s smiling face caught mid-gesture.
Dean was stunned. It couldn’t be, not him. Dean had spent the last few months doing his best not to think about their father’s unexpected appearance in Cold Oak, and, in many ways, Dean liked to pretend it never happened. There were plenty of distractions these days, anyway. When he did think about it, he preferred to keep the memory selective. After all, he was a fan of his father being alive. The black eyes? Not so much.
But Dean couldn’t deny it: if Dad was alive, that meant something. A whole lot of something. It meant that there was hope, that maybe they could be a family again. That was what he wanted to think about--that and only that.
But this? A smiling black-eyed father who had just committed murder?
It just wasn’t possible. That wasn’t Dean’s father.
Sam found his voice first. “And it hasn’t been tampered with?”
Bobby shook his head. “I got it from a buddy of mine in the area. He was following some demonic signs that led him straight to Rock Spring. When he got access to the tape, he recognized your daddy and made a copy for me. As a courtesy.”
Dean was incredulous. “A courtesy for what?”
Bobby didn’t answer and looked away from Dean’s glare. Sam looked down at his feet.
Dean hardened himself. “It can’t be what it looks like.” He refused to believe it. He couldn’t.
Sam lifted his eyes, meeting Dean’s gaze with something akin to sympathy. “Dean,” he said softly.
“No, Sam,” Dean insisted, his hackles rising. He knew their dad. John Winchester was stronger than this. Dean knew that fact as well as he knew his own name.
“We don’t know what happened to him,” Sam said, his voice measured.
“Exactly,” Dean countered. “We don’t know. So why are you always assuming the worst about him?”
Sam knew how to push buttons, that much was true, and when it came to Dad, it seemed like they weren’t capable of having a conversation without things going south. Ever since Sam and Dean were kids, it had been like that and recent events certainly hadn’t made things any easier. Sam was still the same petulant bastard he always was, looking for reasons to nitpick at the old man. If there was a worst case scenario when it came to John, Sam would find it. Hell, Sam would find it and then top it off with something ludicrous, just to make his point.
Dean had patience for it sometimes. But he’d had too little sleep and seen too much crap since Wyoming to deal with this now.
Pissed off at Sam--that he could even think that about their dad--he stepped closer to Sam.
Sam pursed his lips and straightened to his full height, shooting daggers at Dean, but saying nothing.
For a tense minute, the brothers stared at each other in angry silence. Time stood still as they glared at each other, neither wanting to make the first move. Sam looked determined, reminding Dean of how he had looked all those years ago, when he had stood defiant against their father, determined to go to college and make his own way in the world.
Sam was always the rebellious one in the family, Dean thought as he stared his brother down. This wasn’t any different. Sam would run the other way if it meant defending their dad and helping him. It was crazy to think that Sam had a bleeding heart for anyone else--hell, even monsters--but not for their father. It shouldn’t have surprised Dean that Sam chose the side that he did. Some things would never change--for as bright as Sam was, there were some lessons that the selfish prick would never get.
But enough was enough. Dean had run more than his share of interference for Sam when they were growing up. Dean was going to take his stand. For family.
“Whether or not it’s your daddy, one thing is for sure: it’s demonic and it was after something specific,” Bobby cautiously interjected, glancing from the one brother to the other.
Sam’s posture eased somewhat, his stance givingin ever so slightly to the break in tension. “Did you find out what it took?” he asked.
Bobby nodded. “The only thing missin’ from the place was a Native American relic.”
“What kind of relic?” Dean asked, relieved that the subject about Dad had been dropped for now.
“A worm pipe,” Bobby explained, putting an open book in front of the boys. “It’s from the Blackfoot tribe and goes way back. Historians have tried to date the thing, but have had a hell of a time getting an exact read on it.”
Sam looked thoughtful as he processed the information. “I’ve heard of this,” he said. “It was sort of a medicinal pipe, right?”
Dean snorted as he made a face. Sam always had a knack for obscure knowledge. It was amazing he ever got a girl.
Sam shrugged and rolled his eyes at his brother.
Bobby nodded. “A mythic one at that. This one is rumored to have supernatural healing powers.”
“So it can cure the common cold,” Dean said. He was fast losing patience with all this talk. None of this mattered. This had nothing to do with their dad. “I don’t see why it’s worth stealing or how it would involve Dad.”
“Well, this one is a little more powerful than that,” Bobby explained pointing to the relevant passage. “The story goes that a grieving widower wanted to get his wife back. When he went on a journey, he got in contact with the ghosts. He appealed to them for help, and after awhile, they agreed by giving him this pipe.”
“And let me guess,” Dean said. “It worked, right? Guy gets his wife back? Otherwise it’d be a hell of a bad story.”
Bobby was not amused. “The legend is well documented.”
“And like I love to remind Sammy here, so are unicorns.”
Sam rolled his eyes, shook his head. “So you think it’s legitimate?” he asked Bobby.
Dean groaned. “I’m still not seeing what this has to do with Dad.”
“The power to raise the dead? That doesn’t sound a little apocalyptic to you?” Bobby asked.
At that remark, Dean felt slightly sheepish. At best, he would have loved to say no but he knew that the prospect of an impending apocalypse was their fault.
“What would have that kind of power?” he asked. “Native American rituals have some pretty powerful connections, but raising people from the dead?”
Bobby didn’t know. “The best I can think of is the origin of the pipe. It’s said to be from the Worm People.”
“Sounds lovely,” Dean said.
“Kind of a nomadic tribe, from what I can gather.”
“So they may not be real,” Dean concluded.
Sam looked annoyed. “Native American legends are some of the most reliable ones we deal with.”
“So even if it is for real,” Dean conceded, “I’m still not seeing how this relates to Dad.”
Bobby looked away from them. He seemed very uncomfortable discussing this. Dean supposed it was because of the long rocky friendship that Bobby and John had over the years. At times, they might have been at each other’s throats over a disagreement, but that didn’t mean they weren’t loyal to one another.
After all, Dean knew from personal experience that sometimes it was the people you cared about the most that riled you beyond the point of no return.
Dean realized that, while he and Sam were focused on the fact their dad might possibly be alive and need help, Bobby was also caught up in this mess. Some of it by default, but Bobby made his choices, too, and after everything, it was clear Bobby was here of his own volition. He’d seen them through John’s death. He’d been with Dean when Sam went missing. Hell, he’d been there when Sam died. Family was more than blood--maybe for the first time in his life, Dean was ready to admit that.
And Dean supposed that was what family was for—supporting each other in times of need. This wasn’t easy for Bobby--not just telling them, but thinking John might be a problem after all.
It was Sam who continued. “If the pipe really can raise the dead--”
“Then who knows who--or what--John intends to raise,” Bobby said.
“No matter what happens, I think that we need to stop it as quickly as possible. Who knows what else Dad wants to bring back from the dead?” Sam said.
Dean shot him a glare, his jaw set, but his younger brother seemed oblivious. This was more than petulant teenage rebellion. This was more than holding a grudge. This was Sam talking about their father. The man who had raised them, kept them safe--and Sam and Bobby were going at it like John was just another monster to be hunted.
But neither Sam nor Bobby noticed how quiet Dean had gotten while they discussed what to do.
“We might have to kill John, you know.” Bobby looked at Sam who nodded.
At Bobby’s last remark, Dean had finally had enough. His limits had been pushed. He turned away in a huff, blowing out a harsh breath before glaring daggers at Sam and Bobby. “We don’t even know if it’s him and you’re both acting like it’s a done deal.”
Sam’s voice was soft, but his words were unyielding. “Dean, you saw him back in Wyoming.”
Dean ran a hand through his hair. He saw a lot in Wyoming, things that he would love to erase from his memory. “I also saw you come back from the dead, so should I start asking if you’re evil?”
Sam blanched a little. A tiny twinge of guilt went through Dean at the stunned look on his brother’s face. Dean didn’t care that he had hurt him, though. Sam should have been supporting him on this issue and not siding with Bobby. This was Dad they were talking about.
Then he realized just what he’d said to Sam. That Sam had been dead and still could be evil. Dean never ever even considered the possibility but it was clear from the wounded look on Sam’s face that he had been thinking about it.
Dean sighed. He would have to make it up to Sammy somehow, but for now—
For now they needed to focus on what they could fix.
“Sammy, I’m sorry,” he said. He shook his head. “That was a low blow, man. I know that you’re just looking out for me and for Dad. This isn’t easy on either of us.”
Sam still looked hurt, but nodded in thanks for Dean’s apology.
Bobby glanced sadly between the brothers. “Look, this ain’t easy for any of us,” he began doggedly.
That was the understatement of the century. “But, Bobby, I don’t believe that it is Dad,” Dean interrupted, with equal determination.
Bobby shook his head, “Dean, you’ve got to face facts. This doesn’t look good and we need to check it out and do something about it. Even if it’s John.”
As opposed to much of this situation as Dean was, Dean wasn’t unreasonable. He was still a hunter--and a damn smart one at that. Bobby’s statement had something of a plea in it. The older hunter was telling the truth when he said this wasn’t easy for any of them.
With resignation, Dean nodded. “I’ll do it,” he agreed. “But only to prove to you two that what we’re seeing here isn’t what it seems.”
Bobby seemed satisfied that he had him on board. Sam, on the other hand was withdrawn. Dean could relate to him on that front because it was exactly how he felt about the whole thing.
“So how do we go about finding our mystery video man?” Dean asked, resigned.
At that, Bobby sighed. “I wish I knew. I’ve started to look for different signs or demonic sightings and nothing. It’s literally like he’s made of smoke.”
“There’s just nothing?” Sam asked quietly.
“Maybe we should try and look at it from a different—“ Dean began to say as his phone started to ring.
Surprised, Dean pulled his phone out. On the screen flashed an out-of-state number he didn’t recognize. He didn’t get many calls as it was, and he had made a point to keep his number on the downlow after their recent run-ins with the law.
“Who is it?” Sam asked.
Dean looked at him. “I don’t know.”
“You going to answer it?” Bobby prompted.
Reluctant, and feeling a growing dread, Dean flipped open the phone and brought it up to his ear. “Hello?”
The voice on the other end of the line made his insides go cold.
The voice that had taught him how to fire a gun.
The voice that had explained how to use protection when with a girl.
The voice that had told him to watch out for Sammy.
The voice that had told him if he couldn’t save Sam, he might have to kill him.
The voice Dean knew better than his own, the one that spoke in the back of his head, telling him which way to go, which instincts to trust. A voice of strength and safety and being sure.
Only it was harder now, with a jagged edge that seemed to slice through his brain.