12 April 2012 @ 02:59 pm


It’s him.

Dean knows it’s him.

There’s no way he could ever mistake the mop of brown hair, bangs just long enough to get into cat-like slanted eyes, or the dimples deep as caverns as he smiles. The man – and when did his Sammy become a man? – laughs, loud and booming and deep, arms stretched high above his head. A curvy young woman, she can’t be any older than Sam, with blonde curls that reach below her shoulders and a face flushed red – but a smile tugging at full, unmade-up lips – is jumping on her toes trying to grab whatever Sam’s holding in his outstretched hand that she can’t hope to reach.

She stops, looking up at a smiling Sam with some mixture of amusement, irritation, and exasperation and Dean watches – gut clenching at the obvious closeness between them, something that feels familiar to him even though he hasn’t felt anything like that in a long time – as one corner of her lips stretches up in a mischievous smirk. Bright hazel eyes widen, Sam’s lips turning down and he just barely bites out a "Don’t" before the girl has both hands up, fingers curling into the sides of his ribs until he’s panting out breathless pleas for her to stop, red crawling up his neck and face until his cheeks are painted crimson.

"Joanna Beth, would you leave your brother alone, you’re scarin’ off the customers."


'But mom, he took my book and won’t give it back!"

Joanna – apparently – sticks out her bottom lip and glares good-naturedly at the man in front of her, who starts slowly lowering his arms to his sides, book still clutched in his grasp. He sticks his tongue out but sucks it right back in when the woman – who he’s assuming is Joanna’s mother – with brown hair that comes down to her shoulders and a gruff, no nonsense look about her, turns stern, brown eyes on him.

"Samuel Harvelle, you give Jo back her book right now or do I have bend you over my knee?"

With a sigh, Sam holds his hand out and Jo takes her book with obvious glee, tongue between her teeth but Dean is still stuck somewhere back at Samuel Harvelle and it’s as though the oxygen has been sucked from his lungs as he stands frozen, eyes wide on his brother who he hasn’t seen in nine years. His brother who Jo just called her brother and that rankles something deep inside him, eyes focused so hard on Sam that he doesn’t realize anyone is speaking to him at first.

"Hey there stranger, what’ll you have?"

Dean blinks, eyes flitting over to Jo’s mother – not Sam’s mother because Sam’s mother was Mary and she’s gone but Sam had Dean so it was almost okay, but then his brother was gone and he was alone – as she leans forward, hands planted firmly on the bar in front of her, white towel draped casually over her shoulder while she waits for him to order. The others behind the bar turn to look at him as well and he knows the exact moment Sam recognizes him, ever-expressive eyes widening.


A barely audible "Dean?" breathes past Sam’s lips and Ellen – because that’s who she must be, who he originally came here to see – tenses and holds out an arm, wrapping a hand around Sam’s wrist before she tugs, placing herself more firmly in front of him in a protective stance Dean remembers from years ago. Jo’s brows turn down, looking between Dean and her mother and finally to Sam, grabbing his other wrist when he sways on his feet, almost threatening to fall over. Dean jolts forward automatically, instinct still ingrained to catch his brother before he falls – something he knows he’s failed at, but he can’t fight instinct – but the cock of a shotgun halts him before he can get a foot off the ground.

"Jo, take your brother upstairs."



Before Dean can blink, Jo is pulling a shell-shocked Sam through a door behind the bar and he listens to the muffled pounding of feet on steps, eyes focused on the woman pointing a shotgun at him. Hands held out in a show of surrender, Dean forces himself out of the daze seeing Sam again after so many years left him in.

“You John Winchester’s boy?”

Dean bristles at the sneer in her voice when she says John’s name, but it isn’t surprising; his father just rubs some people the wrong way. Even Dean, who has only been able to just barely tolerate the man since the night Sam ran away. Since the night, nearly ten years ago now, his dad got so drunk he didn’t realize Sammy was gone before it was too late.

"I’m Sam Winchester’s brother."

The woman scoffs and shakes her head, glaring at him over the barrel of her gun. "You lost the right to call him that the night you and your father sold him to a pair a' demons." She doesn’t give him the chance to protest, his brows furrowing in outraged confusion – how dare she accuse him of selling his Sammy to anybody. Especially a pair of demons, after everything he’d always done to protect his little brother. "Now you best head on out the way you came if you don’t want a bullet in the chest."

Then: Four Years Ago

Ellen looks up from the glass in her hand at the sound of the bar door opening. It’s late, near closing time, but she’s never been one to turn away someone in need of a strong drink after a long hunt and she’d rather they come to her than going out and getting themselves into trouble. Especially the ones who show up with blood stained into their clothes. It happens more often than she cares to think on; that and more. There’s little Ellen Harvelle hasn’t seen in this world.

So it comes as twice the shock when she sees Rufus Turner come striding in, dark face twisted in a scowl deeper than usual, (and that’s a sight to see alone) with a kid trailing behind him looking banged up and moving slow and skittish, eyes on the ground. He isn’t tall; when Rufus pulls him – gently, Ellen notices which is another sight to behold, Rufus ain’t the kind to be all that gentle even if he likes someone – to stand just in front of him, the top of the kid’s head barely reaches the middle of Rufus’ chest. His eyes, and most of his face, are hidden behind unruly hair, long and tangled-looking like it hasn’t been brushed in too long. Skinny fingers tug and twist at a threadbare shirt that hangs off him and his shoulders are stiff and tense but slumped down like he can make himself even smaller.

She shifts her gaze from the kid to Rufus and raises an eyebrow, staring him down with her sternest look until he caves, scowl easing off as he rolls his eyes like Ellen is trying to be difficult when he’s the one who dragged some poor kid into her bar lookin’ like death warmed over.

“Ellen,” Rufus grunts with a nod. Her eyes are drawn from the hunter to the kid again when he flinches, fingers gripping the threadbare shirt tight enough that his already too-pale knuckles are turning white. Setting the glass down on the bar top, Ellen throws the drying cloth over her shoulder and steps out from behind the bar, moving slow and careful.

The kid tenses when she stops in front of him, no longer fidgeting his fingers in favor of nearly tearing his shirt to pieces instead. She bends ‘til she’s at his height but he still doesn’t look up from the spot on the ground he’s been staring at since they walked in here.

“Hey there, Sweetie,” she starts, voice low and soft like when Jo was little and crawled into her bed after a nightmare with her stuffed dog, Oscar, held close. If anything, the boy tenses further, pulling his knobby elbows into his sides and almost letting go of his shirt like he’s going to cross his arms across his chest (or maybe hug himself). He shivers when she holds out her hand, but seems to relax when she doesn’t touch him, “I’m Ellen.”

Rufus lets go of the boy’s shoulder and is thankfully smart enough to stay quiet. The bar is painfully silent while she waits for a response but the stillness pays off when minutes later, fingers loosen their hold on the hem of his shirt and the kid’s skinny hand is gripping hers. His hand shake belies his size; strong, if a bit unsure. His voice is small, not changed and deep from puberty yet. But it's rough like he hasn’t spoken in a long time, like he’s been screaming. “Sam.”

He still won’t look her in the eyes but she smiles at him anyway, calling up all her experience from soothing Jo when she was little and not too old for her mother to take care of her. “You hungry, Sam?”

His hair sways a little, revealing frightened shining eyes when he shakes his head. It’s an obvious lie – from the looks of the boy, he hasn’t seen a fitting meal for far too long.

“No?” She straightens and turns back to the bar, heading into the back. Rufus ain’t leaving until they talk – not that she thinks he’d leave without makin’ sure Sam was okay considering how gentle he handled the kid when they came in – and there’s no way she’s gonna let Sam go any longer without getting some food into him.

There isn’t much to choose from so late – the kitchen closed hours ago – but she’s got some soup left over from her own dinner. Add in a packet of saltines and it’s nothing fancy but it’s substantial and filling and hopefully not too much for his malnourished body to handle.

When she comes back out, they’ve moved to a table. It’s at the far end of the bar and it isn’t lost on Ellen that it’s the perfect spot to keep an eye on the kid from anywhere in the bar. The kid – Sam – lifts his head, nose up like he couldn’t help himself once he caught a whiff of warm tomato soup and the hunger is clear in haunted hazel eyes. Setting the bowl down in the center of the table, Ellen puts the plate of saltines next to it and slides both until they’re right in front of him.

“I know you said you weren’t hungry but I was really hoping you could help me out. I had all this soup left over after the dinner rush tonight – apparently soup isn’t big on the menu when you’re drunk,” she pauses and the corner of her lip twitches up when Sam gives a small smile, “and it’ll just go to waste if somebody don’t finish it off and I’m full up. Think you could help a lady out?”

Sam shifts his gaze from the food to her and their eyes meet for the first time since Rufus brought him in. He nods hesitantly, lips moving in a silent yes, like his throat is too dry to get the words out and she makes a note to bring him a glass of water.

“You’re a life saver, Sam.” With a wince that makes no sense to Ellen, Sam lifts a shaking hand to drag the bowl a little closer before picking up a cracker and dipping it into the soup.

It’s a blur of movement after the first bite makes it into his mouth; he’s gripping the spoon in the bowl and shoveling mouthfuls like he’s afraid one of them will take it away from him and the sight breaks her heart. But it also hardens her resolve to find out what happened to him, why Rufus brought him here and she looks pointedly at the hunter who’s got one eye on the kid even as he nods and stands up. Sam tenses at the movement, pausing uncertainly, mouth open wide with a cracker halfway there.

“What was I thinkin’, givin’ you soup and crackers without anything to help wash it down?” she says with an exasperated shake of her head. It gets the response she was hoping for; Sam shrugs one of his shoulders and finishes the cracker in his hand before whispering, “S’ok.”

“Still, I better get you somethin’ to drink. Water okay, Sweetie?”

He nods, a little less hesitant this time around and Ellen walks to the other end of the bar, grabbing the glass she set down when they first walked in and makin’ a show of pouring water from the hose when she feels the weight of his eyes on her.

Sam sips the water when she first hands it to him, and his voice is a little less rough when he whispers his thanks. Nodding, Ellen turns to Rufus and hits the back of her hand against his shoulder to get his attention, “Well come on then, Rufus. You look like you could use a drink of your own.”

The hunter doesn’t hesitate, making it across the bar in a few long strides. Ellen takes her place behind the bar, grabbing a tumbler and a bottle of whiskey, the good kind she keeps in stock for him and a few others. Pouring more than his fair share, she holds back the glass when he reaches for it. “Get explainin’, Rufus.” She keeps her voice low; if Sam’s smart he’ll know who they’re talking about, but the poor kid don’t need to hear it.

He holds his hand out expectantly, eyebrows raised and she hands it over, watching as he knocks it back in one swallow. The burn of the alcohol seems to have no effect, something she’s gotten used to around hunters, her Bill was the same, and he sets the glass down. She doesn’t pour anymore into the now empty glass, just leans against the counter and waits.

For a minute the only sounds in the bar are the quiet crunchslurpcrunches from Sam and the occasional cricket’s song. Then the hunter sighs, wiping a weathered, calloused hand over his face. “Ran across a demon after takin’ care of that damned werewolf in Lexington – "

Rufus has had enough of these damn stoplights and how he keeps hitting them right when they turn red. He’s finished his hunt – that werewolf didn’t stand a chance against him, let alone him
and Bobby – and he's tired, and way too sober considerin’ the sun is down. There’s a bottle of Johnny Walker waiting for him in his motel room and another at his place all ready for when he heads out tomorrow.

Another red light and he’s about ready to get out and

walk to the motel – his damn truck can wait ‘til tomorrow – when movement in the corner of his eye catches his attention. He turns to peer out of the passenger side window, expectin’ to see some kids walking around, thinking they’re so tough for being out at dark.

And he

does see what looks like a group of kids but from where he’s sittin’, it don’t look like the one being shoved around, back and forth between them is there for shits and giggles.

But it ain’t his business and when the light turns green, he’ll press down on the gas pedal and book it the rest of the way to his room and his old friend whiskey and forget he ever saw a damned thing.

That’s the plan, at least, until one of those damn mini-cars drives past him in the right lane and turns - headlights trailing over the trio that caught his attention – and the one holding the scrawny kid still while the other goes at him gets caught in the beam, eyes flashing dangerously in the light.


The light finally turns green and he drives forward, switching lanes and taking the next right. Grabbing the silver knife he always keeps on his person, Rufus double checks for his flask of holy water – because a good, a

living, hunter is prepared for whatever the hell fate wants to throw his way – and slams out of the truck with a huff. Why did he have to see the damn shifter? Why not Bobby – the miserable cuss has got a crazy need to help people whenever and whatever way he can.

But Bobby ain’t here and Rufus can’t just let a shifter – probably two shifters – run free just because he’d rather be knockin’ back a finger or two before passing out for the night. The door creaks when he slams it shut but he doesn’t think either of the duo will care, or even notice, considering how they’re messing with some kid in plain sight. With one last check that he’s got what he needs – and deciding to grab his gun with the consecrated bullets, another

just-in-case – Rufus is as satisfied as he can be with this whole damn situation that at least he should come out of this alive.

When he’s finally walking by the trio again – and only the one is a

kid like he’d originally thought, the short one between them. The other two are still younger than him but the way they’re holdin’ themselves make it obvious now that he’s up close that they’re not one hundred percent human. They don’t look anything alike, so they aren’t a couple of shifters who’ve assumed the identities of family. The blonde one is tall and would be the more intimidating of the two in size if it weren’t for the way the dark haired one holds himself straight and commandingly – that and the way the shifter who’d caught his attention keeps shifting his eyes back to the shorter one, waiting for cues.


you lookin’ at?” the blonde one calls, tightening its hold on the kid’s shoulders until he whimpers, but Rufus sees how he isn’t tryin’ to get away.

The one on the other side raises a dark eyebrow, expecting him to shake his head and walk away like he hasn’t seen anything and Rufus would like nothing more than to do just that but there’s a shifter tormenting a human – as far as he can tell, he hasn’t had the chance to look at the kid’s eyes past too-long bangs of shaggy brown hair – and he can’t just let that go, no matter how much he doesn't want to get involved.

So instead, Rufus straightens up, lips curling in an annoyed sneer, “Me? I’m just lookin’ at a coupl’a soon to be dead dicks and a kid who ain’t got the sense to run.”

The kid looking up through his fringe, shred of defiance sparking in dark eyes and pale hands clenching into fists just before he wrenches himself forward and out of the shifter’s slackened hold, isn’t the reaction he’s expecting but it’s something he can work with. The first shifter goes down almost

too easily, too shocked from the boy’s sudden movement to dodge the knife Rufus launches at its chest.

Pulling his gun out from behind, Rufus aims at the darker one, peripherally aware that the kid hasn’t gone far but managed to find a place just out of the line of fire to hole up in for now. It’s a surprise – a pretty damn

gigantic surprise – when the thing’s eyes flash and he’s staring into onyx black instead of the expected pale yellow of a shifter’s.

The demon doesn’t look put out, lips twitching into a smirk that’s more amused than anything. Rufus’ fingers tighten around the flask he’s been carrying at his left – he’ll congratulate himself on being the smart son of bitch he is later – and holds it up higher, taking aim.

Just as he’s about to throw his arm forward and douse the damned thing, black eyes turn and zero in on the kid with a wink, “See you later, kiddo.”

Then it throws its head back, mouth opening in a silent scream and Rufus watches the black smoke pour out and away until the meat suit’s all that’s left, collapsing unconscious – or worse – on the cold, hard concrete.

“Any idea why a shifter’d be runnin' with a demon?”

Ellen pours another generous helping of the whiskey, seeking Sam out with new worry in her eyes only to find him polishing off the last of the soup and lookin’ like he could stand to eat another bowl or four. But there’s color in his cheeks and even though she can’t see his eyes, the tension he’d been carrying just minutes before has eased off some. In fact, the kid looks about ready to drop where he’s sittin’ and Ellen needs to get him into a warm bed and soon.

Rufus shakes his head, lips twisted in the dark scowl all hunters share, the one that says he doesn’t have all the answers and it’s gonna piss him off until he finds them. “It doesn’t make a lick a’ Goddamn sense.” He takes a long pull of the amber liquid in his glass and swallows, tongue runnin’ over his teeth as he runs his index finger across his chin thoughtfully. “But the kid ain’t got a family far as I could tell and he’s got a demon on his tail. And I’m not keepin’ him- “

“He’s not a dog, Rufus.”

Regardless, he needs protection – our kinda protection.”

They fall quiet for a moment, Rufus tilting his glass back and forth on the bar top before swallowing back the rest. Ellen glances at Sam one more time, watching the way he sits with his back straight now that there’s no food to bend forward for, head twitching up irregularly and she would bet money he’s sneakin’ glances of his own at them and waiting to see what they’ll do. Even as straight as he’s sitting, the fatigue he must be feeling is obvious in the way his whole body sways occasionally forward or to the side before he snaps back up in the seat.

“Right now the boy needs a good night’s sleep. We’ll deal with the rest in the morning.”

Not giving the hunter a chance to respond – knowing he’s got no objections if it means he’s not responsible for this kid anymore – Ellen walks out from behind the bar and back to Sam. “You look like you’re about to drop where you’re sittin’. Grab your bowl, we’ll put all this in the sink then get you layin’ in a proper bed, all right, hon?”

Sam nods, a jerky little motion, and stacks the bowl, spoon, and glass up when he stands. He sways a little on his feet, but it’s only a second before he’s standing straighter than she’s seen all night and she leads him behind the bar, holding open the door for him to step through. Shooting a look over her shoulder, Ellen raises an eyebrow as Rufus pours himself another drink, “You good?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he nods, knocking back another swig. “Gotta go see Bobby about a dog.”

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