Okay so it's a little over a week late but it's also a hell of a lot longer than I first anticipated it would be so hopefully that evens it out. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Title: And A Child Shall Lead Them...Maybe...Eventually Chapter 2
Pairing/Characters: Sam/Dean, Bobby, Grady, OCs, mention of Castiel
Warnings: Distrubing imagery, cannibalism, swearing, implied wincest
Spoilers: 1.02 Wendigo, 3.03 BDABR, 4.19 Jump The Shark
Word Count: 8,369
Disclaimer: Don't own - just playing in somebody else's sandbox.
Summary: The 66th seal was broken but instead of out fighting against the demons, Castiel has charged Sam and Dean with a much more important job.
A/N: So several people asked for a continuation of the original one shot and this is it, or the next chapter at least. Also did you read the warning? Chapter 1
It was safer to travel at night, easier to blend into the shadows and the trees at the side of the roads they had chosen to trek. Sounds echoed father at night and the footfall of a horse could be easily mistaken for a deer or a moose to an inexperienced ear. Even when they were forced to traverse open areas it was still the safer bet that they would go undetected at night, just another set of shadows.
But there were times when they were forced to move during the day. Maia waking up too quick and too coherent for a nine month old, “Dem, Dem, Dem” a constant repeated whisper as they quickly grabbed up the few belongs not packed in their duffle bags and made for the horses. Or the tell tale sounds of survivors coming too close to their chosen hide out, bringing with them suspicion and anger and fear and god only knew what else and they slipped away for Maia’s protection. Or times when the memories outweighed logic and neither could stomach staying longer than what it took to travel through an area, day time or not.
Blackwater Ridge was one of those areas. They knew the Wendigo was dead, had killed it themselves a few years before but some memories were too sharp, too close to shake. Sam had still been lost in his guilt over Jess’ death, wallowing in his anger and Dean had been too shaken because of his father’s disappearance and trying to find a way to be the big brother he thought he was needed to be. It had been their first hunt since Stanford and only the second one together in four years. Anger, secrets and missteps trying to be a team they hadn’t been for years had gotten Dean caught and could have gotten them all killed.
It was a place neither of them had wanted to return to if possible but necessity sometimes forced issues better left alone.
It probably never would have been a problem only that they had decided shortly after being charged to care for Maia to stay in States were foothills and Mountains were prevalent. More square land covered in forests, more places to hide, it made sense.
Until the season changed and it started getting cold.
No electricity, no gas, also meant no heat with the exception of wood fires and even when they happened upon abandoned cabins, having a fire for anything other than cooking was out of the question. It was too risky as it was, smoke could be seen on clear days and even with curtains drawn, at night there was a risk of someone spotting the glow.
So the only feasible answer had been to winter in the Southern States. However the plan had been conceived while they were in what was left of Wyoming and the most direct route had been through Colorado and then into New Mexico. But Blackwater Ridge was part of the Lost Creek Wilderness area, which was in Colorado, which was where they found themselves.
The memories had been bad enough on their own, making them tense and short with one another, but it was when they first started noticing a distinctive tang in the air that things went from tense to almost unbearable.
It didn’t make sense, Wendigos didn’t cook their food, and yet it did. Men, generally harmless, or at least before the apocalypse, cooked their meat and the smell, that was only getting stronger the farther South they travelled, was definitely meat. It made their mouths water with want but their stomachs clench in warning.
It was probably only survivors, though it could have been a demon or two, and their rule of thumb was to stay away from anyone. But the smell was enticing, the last of the canned ham two days gone and although they had the knowledge and ability to bring down wild game, they had so far held off the temptation. Raw meat, even something as small as a rabbit meant a fire that had to stay lit for longer than either of them was comfortable with while out in the open.
But to endure the smell of it, to hold the phantom taste on the back of their tongues, was almost enough to risk everything by breaking their first rule of survival and making contact. Especially the closer they drew, to what was still the unseen camp, and the smell only got stronger.
But the thought of Maia still sleeping soundly against Sam’s chest, secure in her carrier, kept the words locked tight in Dean’s throat and the thought of fresh cooked meat a fantasy.
“Dean we need to stop.” Sam’s voice was only loud enough to just be heard over the creaking of leather.
He twisted in his saddle to look back at his brother, hand automatically searching out and finding the gun tucked into the back of his jeans. “What is it?”
Sam raised an eyebrow, “I need to check the map for another route.”
Dean reined his horse to a stop and pulled his gun out to let it dangle at his side. He might have been entertaining the idea of trying to make contact with whoever was nearby but it had always been a fantasy. Not to mention that the smell was too strong, the possible danger too close for comfort. “What? Why?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” He hissed as he pulled up along side. “Someone or someones or something is really fucking close by. Do you really want to keep going this way and run head long into them?” He made a sharp waving motion towards the thinning tree line twenty feet ahead.
In the back of his head, Dean knew he was right but they had studied the map not sixteen hours before when they first spotted the tattered remains of the highway sign letting them know that they were entering the Lost Creek Wilderness area and already agreed that this was still the best, fastest route for them to take.
“Sam, do you remember the last time that you noticed a turn off that didn’t lead to an overrun campground or rest area?” He motioned towards the ribbon of broken asphalt they could just make out between the trees to their left.
He scowled silently at him while hugging Maia tighter to his chest.
“Exactly.” He smiled softly to ease the truth. “We’ll continue heading this way until we risk getting spotted then we’ll take whatever animal trail we find that will take us around the camp.”
“And if they have people keeping an eye out for intruders?”
Dean snorted, tried to put as much disdain in his tone as possible. “Intruders? Really Sammy?”
It gulled him that he hadn’t thought of that but it really got to him that his brother had, especially since Dean was the one that was supposed to be looking out for him and Maia, not the other way around. But it wasn’t a normal thought even for the world they found themselves in. All the survivors they had come across weren’t that organized but he could grudgingly admit, silently, that eventually they were going to run into ones that were. He could only hope that today wasn’t that day. It really was at least three or four hours of backtracking to find an alternate route and a guarantee of at least two more days stuck on Blackwater Ridge and that just wasn’t acceptable.
“Fine.” Sam growled, “People on the look out for more fresh game then.”
That gave him pause, the smell of cooking meat lending credence to his brother’s words.
Still, Blackwater Ridge, a mineshaft and the memory of almost being nothing more than fresh meat himself kept him from reconsidering.
“They’ll be bow hunters.” He assured, ignoring the voice in the back of his head questioning just which of them he was trying to reassure. “And we’re on horseback. We’ll be fine.”
Sam nodded but when he spoke his voice was laced with sarcasm, “Bow hunters, not men with rifles but bow hunters. Okay let’s say they only have bows,” he sneered, “that they must be pretty proficient with to be able to bring down an animal. Have you lost your fucking mind? We’re turning around!”
He understood his brother’s argument, he really did but he wasn’t going to stay on Blackwater Ridge, he just wasn’t. He had taken care of Sam long before the apocalypse, long before Stanford and he damn well knew how now.
“Sure.” He growled back, “Matter of fact I’m pretty sure we’re about an hour’s hike to a mineshaft I know of.” He made a show of slowly looking around them. “Let’s make camp there until dark Sam. What do you say?”
Whatever else he had intended to say was cut off by a woman’s voice raised in fear and anguish.
“No! Oh God, David! No!”
Maia woke up at the scream and whimpered softly, her impossible blue eyes first searching out Dean’s before turning to find Sam’s. She nuzzled her head against Sam’s chest, seeking comfort, her low whimpers slowing but not stopping.
Sam ran a hand down her back as he glared over at Dean, his body tense and, as far as Dean could tell, unconsciously leaning towards where the sound had come from. The fingers of the hand still stroking Maia’s back twitching, almost like he yearned for the gun tucked into the back of his own jeans but unable to hold it, comfort their girl and control his horse all at the same time.
Automatically his own hand tightened around the gun still gripped snugly in his grasp, as unease snaked up his spine at being the only one armed, the fact that Sam had another way to contribute to any fight they might stumble into not settling him in the least. It was hard to put to rest the belief that the less Sam used his powers the better, regardless of the fact that Castiel had pretty much given his brother his blessing when charging him with protecting Maia.
The horses, sensing their rider’s sudden tension, danced nervously, front shoulders knocking against each other, causing Dean and Sam’s knees and shoulders to painfully grind together.
Protect the innocent.
The words were his father’s, the voice ringing in his head his too and he damn well knew that something similar was playing through his brother’s mind. It was the only explanation for their combined reactions.
But whom were they going to try to protect? A woman they didn’t know but was in obvious trouble or the child that an angel had told them to take care of?
The answer was so simple and so hard at the same time.
“Dean.” Sam’s voice broke.
“I know.” He shook his head, feeling sick but unable to do anything about it. “I know.”
He wasn’t sure what it said about him that he recognized that whatever was going on was going to be a perfect distraction for them and he was, if not at peace with it, willing to take it for the break it was.
He forced himself to gently touch his heels to his horse’s flanks instead of pounding them in and riding into the fray, guns blazing. “Lets go.”
Dean twisted his head to look over his shoulder at his brother and their precious cargo, “Keep an eye out all the same.”
“No shit.” He snarled back, his eyes already slipping away to jump from shadow to shadow as they began to move forward.
He bit back his response and swallowed back his anger. He knew frustration when he heard it and he knew why but there was nothing they could do. Nothing.
He just had to keep telling himself that.
Dean’s grip tightened to almost painful on both the reins and his gun as he scanned for a trail leading farther into the trees and away from the break coming up too quickly. If they could just get off the path they were on, start heading away from the bitter weeping echoing around them then he could push this all into the corner of his mind where he left things to forget.
It had to be that way. It had to be.
The absolute fear in the woman’s voice was like an electrical shock directly to his spine and it was a fight not to whimper along with Maia.
“I won’t! I won’t!”
He didn’t know what it was she wouldn’t do and without being able to hear her tormentor, he wouldn’t know. He wished it was better that way but he had seen too much, even before the world went to hell, and his mind could give him several examples that made his blood run cold.
Dean tried to focus solely on the occasional whimper from Maia, Maia first, on constant repeat in his mind while he chewed his bottom lip bloody. He didn’t dare turn to look at his brother, wouldn’t be able to see his own guilt reflected back at him and not keep the course.
“Leave her the fuck alone!”
It was like running, full throttle, into a brick wall, his body went instantly numb with shock before snapping back to life, sights, sounds and smells too intense to almost manage. All because he knew that voice, knew it almost as well as he knew Sam’s.
You’re like a father to me.
Jesus fuck no!
Family don’t end with blood boy.
Not him, anyone else, anyone, but Bobby. He couldn’t just leave him to whatever had him, had them, he could not do it.
Dean shut his eyes against the raging he knew would come from his brother as he reined his horse to a stop. They had lost so much, he wouldn’t stand by and lose Bobby too, not when there was a chance he could save him.
Dean! He could hear his brother’s voice clear as day in his head, almost like he had yelled directly in his ear and yet it was only in his head.
He twisted around, knowing there should have been bitching, instantly worried when there wasn’t and expecting to find that someone had managed to get the jump on them. Instead he caught the tail end of his brother sliding from his saddle and watched him start to route through one of his saddlebags.
“Sam!” He hissed, his voice sharp with anger because of his fear, because he thought that he had failed in protecting him, them. ‘What the hell are you doing?”
He turned and waved their set of binoculars at him before making for the thinning tree line only feet ahead of them now.
“Wait!” He snarled and dropped from his horse. “God damn it Sam! I said wait!”
He didn’t bother to feel embarrassed that he had to jog to catch up with his brother’s longer stride, too concerned with trying to keep one eye on their surroundings and the other on Sam at the same time. The black straps of Maia’s carrier wide slashes against the faded blue of his over-shirt, taunting him, reminding him that that was his family, mostly unarmed, while his brother’s earlier words echoing around in his head like the warning they should have been before.
And if they have people keeping an eye out for intruders?
Jesus fucking Christ!
Whoever they were, was making a woman beg and Bobby to lose the cool he, almost, always seemed to have, weren’t normal people. They might just be the kind that had others keeping a look out.
Dean skidded to a halt beside Sam at the edge of the trees, his gun clasped tightly in his hands, and peered out at the clearing that couldn’t been seen from where they had been.
Probably only months before, a chain link fence had encircled a half dozen bungalow style cabins built in a semi circle around a large fire pit but recently, large chunks had been cut out of the wire. A quick scan showed the missing pieces winking back at them from the windows they could see. Once upon a time, the campground had probably belonged to the Scouts or the Girl Guides or maybe even a bible camp. Now it looked to be nothing more than a way station for a group of maniacs, with the reinforced windows and piles of trash littering the ground.
The late afternoon sun made it difficult for him to make out much more detail than that, other than there were about eight people standing around the large fire pit full of glowing coals, above which, the remains of some animal was speared on a makeshift spit and a couple more people kneeling, arms pulled behind them, just on the other side of the pit. The jerking movements of a person held by the arms between two others and the sounds of sobbing, led him to believe it was the woman they had first heard.
“What do you see?” He squinted, certain that someone was trying to force-feed the woman something but she kept violently shaking her head back and forth.
“For the love of God leave her alone!”
Bobby’s outburst snapped his eyes back to the two forced to their knees and he quickly spotted the telltale green ball cap that seemed to be the older hunter’s trademark. He would have laughed at the sight, so much had been lost but somehow Bobby had managed to keep a hold of his hat but even with the distance between them, he could still make out the other man struggling against his unseen bonds and the sight wasn’t so funny anymore.
A man, had to be from his bulk, stalked up and backhanded him, forcing his head back and to the side.
Dean growled and barred his teeth, “Sam! What the hell is going on down there?”
A harsh poke to his shoulder caused him to spin to look at his brother. “What the fuck…” The words died in his throat as soon as he got a good look at Sam.
Sam had gone pale to the point where there was a green tinge to his skin and there was a look of devastation mixed with disgust that, in all their years and all the shit they had seen, Dean had never seen before.
“Sam?” He whispered.
He shook his head, “I…Jesus Christ Dean!” He hissed before pushing the binoculars into his hand. Then, silently, he turned his back on the camp, wrapped his arms around Maia and her carrier and tilted his head down to bury his face in her soft gold hair.
Dean took a deep breath, trying to calm the slamming of his heart. His brother was rarely shocked silent, always vocal about everything that pissed him off or disturbed him or just generally upset him. He wasn’t quiet and nothing ever made him so physically ill that he looked ready to vomit up their meagre meal of canned tuna and crackers from hours before.
He knew, with a clarity that sliced deep, that he did not want to see any clearer into the camp. But he had to, Bobby was down there, apparently helpless, and he had to know what was going on so that he knew how to fix it. Ignoring the shaking of his hands, he forced himself to peer through the binoculars to get a better handle on the situation.
It took a moment before he could tilt his head low enough to escape the glare of the sun but soon enough the area around the fire pit came into sharp relief. The first thing he sought out was Bobby, slumped forward, his head hanging low but not hiding the rough rope circling his throat or that his hands had to be tied behind him to something, a stake most likely, driven into the patchy grass covered ground.
At first all he could focus on was the older hunter, the dark bruise on his right cheek, the dried blood around his nose and fresh crimson staining his lips. He didn’t think he’d ever seen Bobby that rough looking and it shook apart the certainty that no matter what the older man may land in, that he would always come out on top. It was like finding out that his father had had another life all over again, something so far removed from what Dean had believed to be the truth about the man that it shattered the image he had held for his whole life, leaving him feeling confused and angry and betrayed all over again.
At least this time he would be able to do something about the feelings because he could see the shallow rise and fall of Bobby’s chest even if the man was slumped forward in unconsciousness. The thought of getting him out then kicking his ass for getting caught in the first place then kicking his ass a second time for not being infallible seemed like a good idea.
He slowly started to scan the area, taking in the second man similarly secured, noting that he recognized him but not able to place him without further thought but knowing he didn’t have time to dwell on it. His scrutiny was needed elsewhere if he was going to assess the danger and get Bobby and the others out safely.
The first captor he focused on was the one that had struck the older hunter. It wan an unconscious decision but he would be the first to feel Dean’s rage for trying to take a part of his family from him.
What, at first he had thought was the bulk of muscle, turned out to be a too big, ratty t-shirt and loose skin, hanging from a body that used to be bigger. It might have been muscle, maybe fat, but now the body was simply sickly looking, mass lost too quickly to be healthy, especially if the yellow cast to the man’s skin was anything to go by.
Dean knew the signs of Jaundice, it had been one of many diseases stemming from lack of proper nutrition, that his father had taught both him and Sam about at a young age. Concerned and determined that they both knew and understood why, even with the way they lived, that it was important to ensure that their bodies received everything it needed to remain healthy. Or maybe it would be more truthful to say because of the life they had led.
The point was, that he could recognize what he was seeing and as he swung the binoculars to the next man and then the next, it was the same thing. Whoever they were, none of them appeared to know how to properly take care of themselves.
It was when he settled on the forth person, a woman this time, that chills began to work through him. Like the others, her skin was yellow but there were three open sores oozing pus on her face and a quick once over showed several others on the uncovered skin of her arms and legs along with noticeable bumps and her dark hair was limp and like the lumps on her skin, even at a distance he could see places were it had thinned to the point that he could just make out scalp.
Whatever was wrong with the people of the camp, it wasn’t Jaundice.
Disease. Whispered treacherously through his mind. Maybe it was something that Lucifer and his demons cooked up, maybe it wasn’t, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that these people were sick and probably contagious, which meant getting to Bobby, getting him out, was not going to happen.
At least now he understood what had struck Sam almost dumb.
The woman screaming, her voice angry and fearful at the same time, kept him from falling into the pit of rage and despair that was swirling in his gut. And automatically his head swung towards the sound, only he never got to get a better look at her, his gaze skimming then getting stuck on the remains of the animal on the roasting spit.
Only, now that he could see it clearly and was actually focusing on it, he could see that it wasn’t an animal.
The body was mostly burnt black and mostly intact, with the exception of a few chunks of cooked meat missing here and there and wholly recognizable as a man.
Oh fuck! Oh Jesus mother fucking Christ!
Dean’s stomach lurched and he dropped to his knees while swallowing several times to stop from throwing up. The smell that had been so enticing moments before now burnt like acid and at the back of his throat.
He clapped a hand over his mouth to keep the noises of his gagging from maybe echoing across the small distance and alerting the cannibals. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to completely stomach the smell of cooking meat again.
He was never going to be able to accept that Roogaroo’s diet consisted of nothing but human flesh because every single one of them had a choice not to but he could, at least, vaguely understand it. But a human eating another human being, especially when there was wild game nearby and he knew there was, more than once he and Sam had seen traces of Deer and Moose, just made no fucking sense.
“It’s a pack of Wendigos in the making.” He muttered absently, his mind connecting the one they had hunted down years before to these ones and idly wondering if there was a curse on the land.
Logically it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were a group of rabid animals that needed to be put down before anyone else was caught by them and more importantly before they could do to Bobby what they had done to the man on the spit.
They had to be stopped and there was no one else around but him with the ability and the skill to do it. Well, him and Sam but Sam had a more important job, Dean could only hope that he saw it that way.
“Sam.” He started low, still staring at the base of the fire pit, now back to a distant sight since he refused to use the binoculars again to get a better look. He didn’t need to, he knew there were eight people, eight insane people, probably armed with knives and rocks but hopefully no guns and three breathing victims. That’s all he needed to know. Who needed to be shot, who didn’t.
“I know.” His voice was soft but there was a steel to it that settled something shaky in Dean’s chest.
He shifted until he was kneeling, “Even if it wasn’t Bobby down there…”
He listened to Sam move to settle in the scrub grass beside him, both of them still more or less hiding from view by the thick trunks of the trees bordering the camp.
“But it is.”
He turned his head to look at his brother’s profile, Sam now the one looking at the disturbing scene before them. “Even if it wasn’t. They can’t…I have to…Sam they’ve got to be stopped.”
Sam turned and met his eyes, his gaze cold. “I know.”
The look in his brother’s eyes shocked him silent for a brief second even though it shouldn’t have. It wasn’t Sam’s usual hard look, the one that he had worn since before he was even old enough to be told the truth about their father, their mother and what exactly they were being trained to do for the rest of their lives. Dean had only started to see that particular look shortly after Castiel had dragged him out of hell and generally it had only popped up when Lilith or anything about his time in hell had been mentioned. It had faded to almost non-existent since the last seal had been broken and it scared him to see it once again, knowing that it hinted at a violence in his brother that bordered on mindless brutality.
“If something happens…” he started, pushing through his concern at the look. “Take Maia and go.”
His eyes narrowed, “What makes you think you’re the one going down there?”
“What?” He growled, “Of course it’s going to be me.”
He wasn’t going to even entertain considering the thought that he wasn’t the one that wouldn’t be heading into the camp. Sam had the more important job of protecting Maia, a job that an angel of God had told him was his. He had no right to even be considering walking into a den of psychos.
“And what are you going to do Dean? Shot them all?”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums up the plan.”
He wasn’t entirely certain what Sam was hinting at but he knew he probably wouldn’t like it.
“And if they rush you, you’re going to manage to take them all down before any of them reach you.”
His voice held a note of disbelief that just pissed Dean off. Yes the plan was exactly that, kill each and every one of them without hesitation, without flinching. But there was always the chance that there were others in the buildings and maybe he wouldn’t make it out. All the more reason why it had to be him going in, not Sam. As much as he hated the idea of leaving Sam alone again, he would always make the decision to risk himself before his brother.
He swallowed down the guilt clogging his throat, he hated lying to him and really wasn’t very successful at it. “Like there’s any question of it happening any other way.”
Sam glared at him, obviously not convinced, “No. I go in, throw them around and gun them down like the animals they are while they’re stunned.”
Dean reared back. He might have grudgingly accepted him using his powers to protect Maia but this was not Maia related. At least not directly, maybe in the spring if they came back this way but not now.
“You can’t mean…” he flicked his right hand, binoculars slapping against some of the taller scrub grass, in imitation of his brother using his mind to throw demons around.
“Well since I’m not Superman,” He snapped back, “Then one can only assume that’s what I meant.”
He wasn’t even going to consider it. There was no way he was letting Sam even try.
“It’s a damn better plan then yours.”
He snorted, “You don’t even know if your powers work on regular old humans.”
Sam barked out a soft laugh of disbelief, “I wouldn’t call them regular old humans. For all we know they are all demons.”
He could hear the hint of desperate hope in his brother’s voice and, maybe if they were lucky, a demon was controlling them. And when in the hell had hoping a demon was controlling a group of people become something that seemed lucky? But he knew that even if there was, it wasn’t riding any of the people he had seen, even the ones he had only caught a glimpse of in the binoculars had looked sick. And they both knew, from first hand experience, that as long as a demon possessed a body, it appeared healthy, even if the host was dead. And none of the group had looked healthy, not by a long shot.
Then there was Maia’s ability to consider. Granted they had never tested the limit of her ability to sense when demons were nearby but there had been that one time they had only just hit the outskirts of some little podunk town in Washington and her litany of “Dem, dem, dem.” had started even though neither he nor Sam could make out any movement at all. But they didn’t question it, if Maia felt the presence of demons then there were demons and right now, other than the occasional whimper, she was silent. There weren’t any demons nearby, Dean would bet his life on it. In fact, he was about to.
“Sam you saw them,” he motioned towards the camp. “None of them are demons.”
“Could still be one lurking somewhere nearby.” He pushed on mulishly. “My plan’s still the better one.”
The woman screamed again before gagging replaced the shrill tone.
Dean knew they could keep on in the same vein for hours, arguing back and forth and get nowhere. But they didn’t have the luxury of time, the woman didn’t, Bobby didn’t. So he brought up the one thing that Sam couldn’t argue.
“Cas gave Maia to you to protect, Sammy.”
He ensured that his voice remained soft and persuasive and held nothing of the urgency he felt now that suddenly the camp had gone eerily silent.
He watched the fight leave his brother as he hugged the little girl closer to him, not feeling any victory from winning the fight. The truth of the matter was that he would have preferred to have him by his side to do this but it just wasn’t possible. It wasn’t like they could leave Maia by herself, one of them was going to have to stay behind and as far as Dean was concerned it was going to be Sam. In fact it should always be Sam.
“Dean…” Sam’s voice was broken.
“If anything happens…”
“I’ll stop it.”
He let the binoculars drop to the ground beside him and gently grasped Sam’s chin. “You take Maia and haul ass.”
Sam shook his head, “I’m not leaving you.”
“No!” He hissed, the fire back in his eyes. “I’m not leaving you again, not even for Bobby.”
Dean knew he should have seen it coming; there wasn’t anyone who didn’t like not getting their way and his brother particularly loathed it. The threat of him dragging Maia into the centre of that hell was making him seriously reconsider going after Bobby. He loved him, felt like the older man really was like a father to him, in fact, in the secrecy of his own mind, he sometimes wondered if things wouldn’t have been better if he was. But he wasn’t Sam and he wasn’t Maia and really how many people could possibly stumble into that particular camp? If all those animals were eating only humans then maybe they would starve soon enough.
“Don’t!” He snapped, “You’ll never forgive yourself.”
He’d always been able to read Dean, sometimes he mistook what he saw but usually he was pretty close to the truth, like now. The little bastard.
“Just make sure you get them before they get you and we won’t have any problems.”
He could see what it cost his brother to stay behind in the thin line of his mouth and the pinched look in his eyes. “I’ll be back with Bobby before you know it. He promised, the words not tasting like the lie he knew they might become.
Sam grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him forward until they were both up on their knees. “I know.” He assured before pressing their lips together.
It was quick, hard and not nearly enough but it was all he could allow himself.
“Go before I prove that I can throw around regular old humans by using you as an example.”
Dean gently ran his hand over Maia’s head before pushing to his feet. He waited until Sam had his own gun out, clip checked and slammed back home, before double-checking his own.
The cabins were too far away and the sun was now low enough to make even using the binoculars useless but he squinted and tried to make out if there was any movement in the dark windows. He was going to have to hope that no one in the camp was turned in their direction and that there wasn’t anyone in the cabins because there wasn’t time to make his way around so that the sun’s glare was behind him.
“Fuck it.” He growled and broke cover, running in a half crouch towards the closest cabin.
It was seventy, maybe a hundred feet and didn’t take much time for him to cover the distance, even in a half crouch. But it felt like he was moving in slow motion, the centre of his back burning from the heat of Sam’s stare and his body tense, expecting an outraged yell from the camp. At least he hoped that one of the cannibals would yell if they caught sight of him coming and that they weren’t all smart enough to let him get close enough to get caught before they let on that they knew that he was there.
He made it to the closest cabin and pressed himself against the weathered wood, taking his first deep breath since leaving the relative security of the trees. He stared back the way he had come, happy and relieved when he couldn’t spot Sam even though he knew pretty much exactly where he was. He wasn’t a stupid man, he knew that if his brother had spotted a trap he would have been already half way to him by now. After all, in hindsight, he hadn’t made him promise to stay put, not that it would have done any good but it might have given his brother pause for at least a couple seconds.
Carefully Dean slid along the wall until he could peer around the corner of the building.
“Son of a bitch.” He snarled low and squinted until his eyes were almost closed, the sun still not low enough to be hidden by the tree line. Still he could see enough.
The cannibals, all eight of them thankfully, had moved to standing around their “dinner”, the sunlight glinting off their knives as they cut off hunks of meat.
As soon as he recognized exactly what they were doing, his body heaved at the sight and he had to press a closed fist against his mouth to stop any sound escaping.
Maybe he could still do his job well while becoming a vegetarian because as of that moment, meat held no appeal whatsoever.
It was both easy and hard to look away from the group. Easy because he really didn’t want to have to see anymore but hard because he wanted to keep them in his sights. But he needed to check on Bobby and the other two, see if any of them had spotted him and if they were going to be of any help or worse, a danger.
Bobby looked to still be out cold, the other man, and on closer inspection it occurred to Dean that he was a hunter even though he still couldn’t remember why he knew that, seemed to be in some sort of daze. The woman was laying on the ground, arms and legs splayed out, either unconscious or dead, he couldn’t tell.
So no help but no hindrance either. He was okay with that.
With one last look back at the trees, Dean took a deep breath to calm the pounding of his heart and stepped out from behind the cabin just as the sun finally slipped behind the tree line.
Everything seemed to fade away, the constant smell of roasting meat, the yells of the group as they finally realized that they were no longer alone, even the sight of everything as he zeroed in on the first cannibal, took aim and effortlessly squeezed the trigger.
It barely registered as the man that had struck Bobby fell, a bullet hole appearing in the centre of his forehead as Dean turned to the next then the next and then the next, until there wasn’t anyone but him standing in the area.
Absently it registered that the five men and one of the women had come at him, the closest, one of the men, laying an arm’s length away, gasping out his last breath as his life’s blood spurted out of the hole of what was left of the right side of his throat. The other two women had tried to run for the cover of the trees in the opposite direction of Sam and Maia.
He wouldn’t, couldn’t, feel bad for shooting them in the backs as they ran. They were nothing more than rabid animals that needed to be put down. They ran and he stopped them, end of discussion.
After a quick look to ensure that there weren’t anymore of them coming out of the cabins, Dean ran over to drop to his knees before Bobby.
“Bobby.” He gently patted his face. “Bobby. Come on old man, wake up.”
“Don’ call me old.” He slurred, his eyelids fluttering before he managed to slowly crack them open. He squinted blankly up at Dean for a minute before his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
“Hey Bobby.” He smiled, “How you been?”
“Dean?” He spluttered, sounding hopeful but leery at the same time.
“Where in the hell have you been boy?” He demanded before he stretched his neck to look around, taking in the carnage before turning back. “Where’s Sam?”
He glanced over his shoulder, not surprised to see Sam already moving through one of the breaks in the fence towards them. “Just coming now. And it’s a long story.”
He caught Bobby studying him, eyes narrowed in suspicion. He knew what he was thinking, wondering and as much as he understood it, especially now, it still hurt.
“I’m sure Sam will have some water with him that you can go ahead and bless.” Dean was pretty sure that it would actually be holy water already, Maia’s ability notwithstanding, but he didn’t bother to mention it. He already knew Bobby would still want to take the precaution of blessing it himself; Dean would have if it were him.
He shrugged as best as he could, his voice almost apologetic, almost. “Can’t be too careful, especially now.”
He gave a short nod before slipping behind the older man and working on the ropes that held him, throat and wrists, to a lead pipe driven into the ground. He didn’t doubt that on a good day Bobby could give him a hell of a fight, had been through that once already, but the older hunter had been forced into an uncomfortable position for who knew how long. He wasn’t particularly worried about him trying to take Dean’s head off any time soon. Besides he couldn’t just keep sitting there and waiting for Sam to show up when he knew that Bobby was in pain.
He managed to get the noose untied first and threw the length of rope away in disgust.
“Thank fuck.” Bobby grumbled and started twisting his head back and forth. “I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to lose that until it was my turn on the…” He trailed off and audibly swallowed.
Dean’s hands shook at the thought and he had to will them to stop so that he could finish working on the knots. “What happened Bobby? How did you end up like this?”
He shook his head, “Wait for your brother. I don’t want to go over this more than once.”
He figured it was only fair since he hadn’t demanded Dean to tell him where they had been hiding out for the last six months, accepting that he would probably learn the truth once Sam was with them. He could only accept the same idea in return.
Dean’s head shot up and he glared over at the rough sound of the other bound man’s voice. It was his fault that Bobby had almost ended up as…well as dinner and that someone else had? He was going to kill him. Didn’t matter that he knew the dark haired, bearded man was a hunter and that the world was in desperate need of them. If he were reckless enough to get them all caught in a mess like this, with non-supernatural humans, what the hell would happen if they crossed paths with a demon or two?
“But she was just a little girl.” He muttered low, not looking up at anything or anyone. “She just wandered into the camp, looking sick and by herself. What was I supposed to do?”
Dean finally got Bobby’s hands free but before he could move to beat the hell out of the other hunter, the older man’s arm shot out and he grabbed him by the wrist.
He hadn’t even heard Sam come up and for the first time in months, didn’t acknowledge him. Choosing instead to try to stare down Bobby.
“Let. Me. Go.”
“Just wait Dean.” Bobby urged low, not ordering but asking. “We’ve got to find Melanie and her two little girls, make sure Julie’s okay and get the hell out of here.”
He grit his teeth and gave a terse nod. If it had been anyone else but Bobby he never would have hesitated, well, with maybe the exception of Sam.
The horrifying image of it being Sam tied up and waiting for his turn on the spit, rose up behind his eyes and his stomach clenched in fear. No, Sam wouldn’t be the exception in a case like that.
“What the hell is going on?” Sam demanded, his voice harsh with left over adrenaline and fear. “And who are Julie and Melanie? And find them where?”
“Water Sam.” Bobby grunted, raising his hand in his direction but not breaking his eye contact with Dean.
“What?” He demanded.
“Water boy!” Bobby’s head swung around so that he could glare up at Sam. “You got something stuck…”
Dean knew the exact moment it sunk into the older hunter’s head that his brother had a carrier over his chest and a baby in it, he could see it in the way his jaw went slack and his eyes widened. It would have been funny any other time but not so much now, not when, now that all the shooting was over and Bobby was alive and breathing and free, that their surroundings were coming back into focus, the sounds of embers crackling, of sizzling meat, the smell.
“Give him your canteen Sam and your rosary, if you’ve got it.” Dean pressed low, “I want to get the hell away from here as quickly as possible.”
He turned to watch Sam do as he asked before he shifted to stand.
“Uhh boys?” Bobby hedged.
“Just a helpless, little girl.”
He watched Sam’s eyes snap to the mumbling hunter before he took an unconscious step back while trying to completely cover Maia with his free arm and pointing his gun at the bound man.
“Grady.” He hissed and everything slid into place for Dean.
Grady. He had been once of the two hunters Gordon had convinced that Sam was evil. They had hunted his brother while they had hunted for Bela and the cursed rabbit’s foot years before. They had actually come close to killing Sam and now he was mumbling about a little girl. It couldn’t be Maia, it wasn’t possible, was it?
But Castiel had told them to protect Maia, to suspect everyone they came into contact with. Was it possible that Grady knew about Maia? And if he did what exactly did he know and who had told him?
“Sam no!” Bobby barked, “It’s not what you think. There was a girl that wandered into our camp one night while Grady was on watch.”
Without warning, he stiffened and his eyes swept the clearing again. “She’s not here.”
The small hairs on the back of Dean’s neck stood on end. “There are more of them?”
“The girl.” He was nodding as his line of sight shifted to scan the cabins. “About ten or eleven and…”
An animalistic screaming drowned out Bobby’s hurried words. Dean swung his head around to see a lanky girl, her long, brown hair a mass of tangles and her cream-colored blouse blood stained, rushing at them from the exact same spot that he himself had emerged into the clearing from.
She’s insane. Was his only coherent thought as he watch in stunned silence as she ran closer, a big butcher knife clutched in one tiny fist.
Bobby was right, she was eleven at the most and apparently had no sense of self-preservation if she was willing to try to attack not one but two adult men, who were free and armed.
Logically he knew what he had to do, his gun arm rising, as if of it’s own accord, but she was a child. She couldn’t be held responsible for what the adults around her had forced upon her.
Maybe they could help her, maybe Bobby could rehabilitate her.
She was only a child.
The sound of a gunshot made him jump and he barely registered her falling backwards as he twisted to look up at Sam. His brother was already letting his gun fall back to his side and he was whispering to Maia, his words lost beneath her startled cries.
His heart broke a little as the image of the girl falling backwards replayed in his mind and he had to fight down the urge to yell at him, punch him for shooting a child. But he had seen the sores, the lumps. It had been too late for the girl, he knew that, or at least, it was what he was going to choose to believe. He couldn’t risk her being around Maia and wouldn’t have, in good conscience, been able to leave her with Bobby to deal with her ugly urges.
What Sam had done had been the only way to deal with her, the best way in a extremely bad situation.
Dean pulled himself to his feet and swallowed down the urge to either leave Grady where he was or strangle him. There would be time for the other’s ass kicking later. For now he just wanted to get as far away as possible, as fast as possible, from that place.