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Grimm Truth 3: A Year With Demons

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Chapter 278: Nightmares of a Certain Future

Samuel James Winchester recoiled hard, ducking backwards out of reach. Eyes wide and horrified, the teenager watched the woman in the black slip slide free of the shadows. As familiar as her features were to him, there was nothing he recognized about that face now.

Marina Petrovka stood before him, her normally hot chocolate eyes the color of black pitch. While there was always a lethal grace to his foster mother, she had never looked like this. The body slinked forward, leonine and predatory. There was a cruel smirk on the beloved face, the expression twisted and unfamiliar.

Every fiber of him rebelled against the knowledge building in his mind. The eyes . . . the strange behavior . . . he knew what all of that meant.

There was a demon riding his foster mother. And the caring, gentle, protective woman he had come to love so fiercely, had been reduced to a meat suit. Marina was trapped within her own body, either helpless . . . or dead.

The thought sent agony slicing through him like a butcher knife through butter. That pain warred with the hot flame of rage, battling against each other to leave him stunted and speechless. The woman smiled, his face shining in the obsidian of her eyes, reflecting back to him the depths of his heartbreak.

Her mouth twisted as she sneered, “Oh, little Sammy . . . I wonder what you know about your destiny. What has Daddy Dearest told you?” An evil grin slipped across her lips as she laughed. “My Master has plans for you, little Winchester. As for me . . . I have plans for this body. Young and pretty - strong and durable; yes, she’ll do very nicely, don’t you think? And you’ll have a familiar face with you, when you’re ruling in hell. Won’t that be wonderful?”

The well of fury roiled through him and he lunged forward. Horror overtook him as he remained motionless, unable to move or rescue her. “Pretty little Boy King . . . what will you become? Won’t it be fun to find out? Personally, I can’t wait.”

Screams of rage poured from him, an agonized howl that reflected his fear, pain and anger. Hands came up to grip his shoulders, invisible but strong. “Samonik,” whispered a disembodied voice, the sound familiar and warm, “sweetheart, it’s just a dream. Wake up kiddo.”

Sam almost knew the voice, could almost call its owner to his memory. He knew it wasn’t his brother’s or his father’s, but even still, the person’s identity eluded his terrified mind. The woman - because that was not Marina - seemed to hear the voice too, because she cut in with a vicious taunt. “Are you sure this is dream, little Winchester? You see things in your dreams, true things; how can you be sure this isn’t your new reality?”

Despair ripped through him, earning another scream. The invisible hands tightened, as the earlier voice hardened, barking out, “Samuel James . . . wake! Up!”

The teenager’s eyes slammed open and he jackknifed upwards, nearly headbutting his foster father in his panic. “Marina!?” he demanded, hands coming up to grip the man’s wrists, “Where is Marina? Is she okay!?”

Will’s eyes were clouded grey as he watched Sam fidget uncontrollably, eyes roaming the room as though searching for some threat he believed was there. The man’s hand shifted from his shoulder to the curve of his neck, his thumb smoothing gently over his jawline. As for his voice, it was purposefully low and soothing, as he promised, “Marina is fine.” Catching the boy’s eyes, he held them as he reminded the kid, “She went with Nick and Maria on assignment, remember? It’ll be a cakewalk for those three.”

Feeling his heart rate slow at the reminder, Samonik joked feebly, “I thought directors didn’t go into the field.”

“Most directors aren’t Nick Fury; he gets antsy when he’s been stuck in his office for too long.” There was a ring of bright blue growing outward from the Colonel’s pupil as he gave the teenager a sly wink. “I think he just likes being allowed to go raise a little hell with my Marishka, from time to time.”

Sam locked up at the name, hand flashing to grab his foster father’s arm as he demanded, “And you’re sure she’s okay?”

“Last report, they were on the transport and headed home. Everyone accounted for and no injuries.” Will’s face turned fond as he shifted to crook one knee up onto the bed. “Nightmare was about Marina, then, huh?”

Shocked at the question, the youngest Winchester found himself nodding as he begged, “You have to keep her safe, Will . . . please!”

Samonik, I would love nothing more than to be able to promise that. Except this is Marina; she would do literally anything to protect the ones she loves, no holds barred.” Warm fingers ran through Sam’s hair as he chuckled fondly, “She wouldn’t be the woman we love so much, if we tried to cage her, Samonik.”

“But there are other ways to cage her, Will!” he protested with wide eyes. “Demons . . . my dad! He calls their vessels meat suits, and that’s not something I ever want to worry about. Not for Marina.”

Will’s eyebrows rose as little as he asked, “You dreamed about Marina . . . being possessed?”

His head nodded up and down in panicked agreement. “Sometimes, my dreams? They come true . . . and this is one dream, I don’t want that to be the case.”

“Come true?” Will echoed, eyes narrowing. “What do you mean? Come true how?”

“I don’t really know?” he replied with a sheepish shrug as he stared down at his hands. “Sometimes, I can’t remember the dreams themselves, but I know something bad is going to happen. Once it does, it’s kind of like pre deja vu? Sometimes, though, I remember everything that happened in my dream.”

The teenager shuddered as he insisted, “I hate those ones.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll see them later on the news?” He could feel the all too familiar fear well up inside of him as he choked out, “My dad would flip out, if I tried to tell him I was a clairvoyant or something. And Dean? He’s in a good place right now! He shouldn’t have to go back to that life, just because his baby brother is fucking up his life again.” Looking up at the Colonel, the teenager implored fervently, “Will, he loves MIT.”

“Considering the dejected look on his face when he thought he was going to have to transfer out?” Will reminded him with a small, lopsided smile. “That I already knew. Besides, last I heard from Sarge, Dean’s made a new friend too.”

“You mean Mac?” Samonik asked with a fond smile. “Dean said he’s a little older than me . . . ‘builds crazy shit out of even crazier shit’. Direct quote.”

“Yeah; it’s good to hear though. I thought Dean was going to content himself with you and Sammichka for the rest of his life,” Will agreed with a grin. “Kid could afford to socialize more. Boston isn’t exactly around the corner.”

After a moment, the Colonel sobered, and returned to the original conversation. “You know, Samonik, there are others you can talk to about anything Supernatural.”

“No offense, Will, but you and Marina aren’t exactly experienced in that world.”

“I was talking about my Dad and Aunt Gretel,” the Colonel snarked with a roll of his eyes. “Dad heads up S.W.O.R.D. here at S.H.I.E.L.D.. He has a whole network of hunters, who could track down the people in your dreams to prevent them from coming true. You just have to remember to talk to someone about them, when they happen.”

Sam frowned, suddenly remembering the department the former witch hunters ran together within S.H.I.E.L.D. The department began collecting hunters not long after the blood moon hunt when the Grimms first met the Winchesters. Currently, there were upwards of fifty previously freelance hunters working for the department, and most of them were very well connected among other hunters. Probably one of the most unusual departments, S.W.O.R.D. stood for the Supernatural and Witchcraft Observation and Response Department.

He spared a moment to wonder whether or not S.H.I.E.L.D. could even manage simple name.

Then he blushed, ducking his head as he looked up at Will through his fringe. “I . . . ah . . . I actually . . . totally forgot about S.W.O.R.D.”

“Obviously,” he chuckled with a smirk and a wink. “It’s okay. We’ll talk to Dad tomorrow, okay? See what he recommends, about your dreams. This is kind of his job, and he’s always been pretty good at it.”

Samonik sagged in relief at the reminder, feeling the last of the adrenaline slip away to leave him exhausted. Giving the older man a feeble smile, he insisted, “Thank you, Will.”

The man’s smile was small but fond, chin nodding once in amusement. “You’re welcome, kiddo.” Eyes scanned the teenager as Sam yawned, slumping downwards and scrubbing his hands over his face. “You ready to go back to sleep now?”

“Yeah, I think so. I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Don’t worry about that, Samonik. I wasn’t asleep,” Will promised with a soft chuckle.

“Oh,” he breathed, suddenly reminded of Marina’s fussing at her partner about “self-medicating” as well as reminding him where to find the Ambien. Also, his brother’s pointed teasing during dinner about setting the record for staying up in a stretch suddenly made a lot more sense. “Yeah, I forgot you don’t sleep while Marina’s away.”

“I worry about her, too, Samonik.” There was a ruseful tilt to his smile as he guided the teenager flat and drew the covers up over his shoulders. “We’ll do everything we can to protect her, sweetheart, I promise.”

Bending, the Colonel pressed a kiss into the shaggy blond hair, completely unselfconscious about the action. “Love you, kid. Get some sleep; you have school in the morning.”

“Yes sir,” he murmured, a sleepy smile slipping free at the man’s muttered grumbling.
“Sorry Will.”

“It’s all right, Samonik. We’ll keep working on it.” Ruffling his hair fondly, he stood and promised, “I’m in my study, if you need anything, okay?”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart,” he agreed with a fond smile. “Sleep . . . I”ll see you in the morning.”

Yawning, he replied, “Kay . . . night.”

“Good night,” was the last thing he heard before Sam slipped into the Land of Nod once more.

For the rest of the night, he did not dream.

The next morning he woke at his usual time, eyes still half-glued shut as he dressed in his uniform and combed his hair. He might as well have been a zombie when he trudged into the kitchen and collapsed into a chair at the table with an unintelligible groan. “Morning,” he grunted.

A soft laugh brought his head up and he stared with growing relief building in his chest. Marina stood at the stove, wearing her favorite pair of black pajama pants under a too-large Army t-shirt. She was watching him with a fond smile, spatula in hand. “Good morning, love. How would you like your eggs?”

Fumbling out of his chair, he scrambled forward to throw his arms around her. Unable to help it, he buried his face against her shoulder, reveling in the soft reverent, “Oh!” the woman released in response.

Her fingers came up to pet through his hair as she murmured, “I’m okay, sweetheart. Your dream hasn’t come true yet.”

Sam closed his eyes at the promise, feeling guilt rise in his gorge as he murmured, “Christo!” directly into her skin.

She didn’t so much as flinch at the word, leaving Sam slumped against her in wordless relief. Ruffling his hair, she promised, “I’m okay . . . Vati and Gretel are coming over for breakfast. We’ll figure your dreams out, okay?”

“Sounds good,” he replied, finding himself unwilling to release her for a longer moment than either of them expected.

After a moment, she pressed her lips to his cheek and murmured, “Eggs over easy this morning?”

He grinned, eyes sparkling as he moved to take his seat at the table again. “Yeah. Hey Marina?”

“Yeah, Samonik?” she asked, fussing with his breakfast as she hummed happily under her breath.

“Thank you . . . for everything.”

She smiled at him, features warm and familiar as she vowed, “Anytime, love . . . anytime at all.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 279: Wrestling with Demons

Dean Winchester had never been in the habit of lying to himself. Lying to everyone else was just par for the course, considering his father’s “work”. He’s lied to teachers, social workers, and assorted cops, throughout his growing up years. But poe-tay-toe and toe-may-toe’; that is not the same thing.

Today’s drive, had been twice as long as any other time he could remember making the trip back to New York City from Boston . . . home to the base where his brother lived with their foster parents. A good part of that was probably Dean’s inability to get into his usual happy-go-lucky “driving mood”. From the time he left MIT, he tried everything he could think of to improve his mood, but so far nothing was working. Not even the rumble of Baby’s horses could improve his outlook as they shuddered through his palms.

The ROTC cadet had tried to blare his music at the highest volume his speakers could manage. However, every cassette had been tried, and every cassette had been tossed aside, one after the other. Finally, he’d shoved in his newest Metallica album, thinking that his go-to jam would lift his spirits, his hands drumming on the steering wheel as he belted along. Even that, though, had faded into nothing and he’d sighed as it too was ejected from the tape deck.

Literally, the world sucked, and he was right there with it.

Out of the blue, Dean was suddenly reminded of all the time he’d warned Sammy not to make friends, when they were kids. People always leave. Granted, the histories had typically made them the leaving party, considering their father usually waited long to pack them up and haul them out once the job was done. But still, the principle of the thing remained.

For the first time in his life, Dean was learning how hard it was to be person left behind.

There was a part of him that was chiding himself for a fool. That part of him was also the part convinced he should probably be used to being left. After all, John Winchester had spent Dean’s entire childhood leaving, before finally bolting out for good the year before. Which had sucked, to be fair, except that his dad had been gone for so long, Dean didn’t really notice he wasn’t around now.

Just then, the gates into S.H.I.E.L.D. appeared in his windshield and he groaned at the line of cars waiting their turn to get through. It wasn’t even five minutes before he realized that this line was both long and ponderous, shoving his mood even further down the toilet. By the time, he was handling his ID to the guard at the gate, he wouldn’t have been surprised to learn there was a mini-thundercloud building over his head.

Not even Maverick’s typically good cheer was enough to bring a smile to the younger man’s face. “Hey man! Welcome back!”

“Hey Mav; thanks,” he replied, making at least an attempt to remember his manners.

“You want me to let the Colonels know you’re back on base?”

Some part of him wanted to say “yes”, head his foster mother’s pleased surprise off at the pass. The rest of him - the larger part - wanted all the fussing Marina was willing to bestow. A small smile quirked one corner of his mouth as he insisted, “Nah, that’s okay. I was planning to surprise them.”

“Sounds like fun,” he agreed, gathering Dean’s ID from the computer and handing it through the window. “Welcome home, Winchester.”

The word struck a hard chord and the reverberating pang seized his lungs in a vice grip. The former hunter barely managed to nod his thanks, before guiding Baby onto base while contemplating Maverick’s statement.

Welcome HOME . . . something he hadn’t considered when Will and Marina had brought the two Winchesters home with them. They had an actual home; someplace to come back to, with people he cared about waiting for him. It wasn’t anything transient or temporary; no fear of a midnight move or being left to follow on.

The base house was permanent. The people in it were permanent. The realization was just what he needed to shoo away his earlier mood. As it was, the swell of emotion nearly took his breath away as he swung the Impala into the driveway. Two people sat together on the front porch swing, the shorter occupant coming to their feet, with curls a riot around her beaming face. “Dean!” Marina called happily, hands gripping the railing in front of her, mosaic opal flashing cheerfully in the sun.

Her companion joined her a moment later, and Dean’s smile widened at the sight of his little brother. Shoving open his door, he reached for his bag in the passenger seat and climbed from the car. He hadn’t even made it all the way around the hood, before Marina scampered down the front steps and bolted to throw her arms around him. The bag dropped at his feet, and he caught her up, her arms coming around his neck as he swung her off her feet.

Delighted giggles slipped free from the tiny woman as she clung to his shoulders, her eyes glowing as he set her back on her feet. “This is a wonderful surprise, shchenok. What brings you back to us?”

If she’d asked him during the drive, his answer would have been sullen and angry. As it was, he bent and pressed a warm kiss to her cheek. “Just . . . felt like coming home,” he insisted, guilt twinging at the small white lie. “It’ll be a short visit, because ROTC has a training mission scheduled for this week, but . . .” Here he paused self-consciously, cheeks glowing with warmth as she bounced happily in place.

“We’re just glad to have you here at all,” the Russian promised, squeezing his wrist fondly. “We’ll take whatever we can get. It’s always wonderful to have you here.”

“You too, Marina . . . it’s good to be home.”

She seemed to catch the particular emphasis on the word and squeezed his arm again. “Let me get started on something to eat for you, hm? Dinner's a couple hours away, but I'm sure you're hungry. Oh, and I know there’s some pie in the freezer.” Winking, she insisted, "You can consider it wishful thinking, da?"

“You’re the best, you know that?” he insisted with a grin. He let her drag him down for another hug and a quick kiss to his cheek, before watching her scurry away.

Sam joined him, hazel-green eyes sparkling as they embraced firmly. “I didn’t think you were gonna be able to make it back this week.”

“Again, not for long,” he reminded the younger brother, roughing one hand through his hair fondly. “Something’s better than nothing, yeah?”

“Hell’s yeah!” The kid was nearly vibrating with curiosity and Dean chuckled as he shoved him towards the door. “What are you chewin’ on, Geek Boy?”

“So, when do I get to meet Mac? He sounds awesome! Look at you, friends with a geek!” the kid teased, unknowingly piercing the heart of his earlier bad mood.

And just like that, Dean’s good mood was buried six feet under and he grunted bitterly. “I dun know.”

“What!? Why not?” the teeangers asked, visibly confused at the sudden turnaround.

“I said, I don’t know, Sam! Back off!” he barked, tone snappish and bitter.

Sam recoiled hard, looking as though someone had kicked his puppy or something ridiculous. Before the older brother could say anything - or apologize - Marina stuck her head out of her kitchen with a frown. Her hot chocolate eyes narrowed and she spoke firmly. “Samonik, would you go check on the girls for me? They should be waking up soon from their naps.”

“Sure thing, Marina,” he agreed, trudging towards the stairs.

“Thank you, sweetheart. Dean, kitchen,” she ordered, tone firm and disappointed, “Now.”

Dean cringed a little, shoulders coming up around his ears as he obeyed, “Copy that.”

The two Winchesters separated, one tromping up the stairs and the other slinking into the kitchen. The Russian pointed to a chair at her nook table, ordering brusquely, “Sit.”

“Marina . . .” he protested, tone meek.

“Nope, don’t wanna hear it. Sit!” she repeated, placing a plate in front of him as he obeyed. “Eat . . . and once you’re no longer as grumpy as a sleep-deprived badger, we’ll talk. Da?”

Dean grimaced; second language or not, Marina definitely had a way with words. “Yes ma’am.”

“Thank you,” she sighed, features stern even as her fingers ruffled fondly through his hair.

There were times Dean wondered what Mary Winchester would have thought of Marina Petrovka. Granted, if his mother had lived, there wouldn’t have been any reason they would have met. He didn’t remember a lot about his mother - losing her at the tender age of four had guaranteed that - but he liked to think she would have liked Marina.

He did remember one thing, though. Mary Winchester had been a terrible cook. He couldn’t even feel bad about acknowledging the fact; her husband had teased her for it ruthlessly. Dean could remember laughing as his mother had chased his dad around their kitchen wielding a knife and a giant grin. Take out and pizza had been a staple of his childhood diet, which had given him a firm appreciation for home cooked meals.

Smiling at the hazy memory, he turned his attention to his plate and tucked in to the steak and potatoes he’d been given. About two minutes into his meal, the Russian joined him at the table. Concern and kindness warred in her eyes, and she frowned a little as she folded one hand over the wrist laying beside his plate. “Dean . . . sweetheart . . . what’s wrong, love?”

Caught out, Dean swallowed hard around the lump in his throat. “How did you know?”

“You just about ripped your brother’s head off?” she replied with a single cocked eyebrow. “Not your usual MO.”

“Yeah; I should apologize.”

“Yes, you should. But first, I expect an answer,” she insisted, firm and utterly implacable.

“So, when we were kids, I used to tell Sammy not to make friends,” he began, using his fork to push the potato cubes around the plate. “Not to be mean or to make him miserable, but . . .”

Marina nodded solemnly, as he trailed off, finishing his thought. “To protect him from getting hurt.”

“Yeah, pretty much. We never stayed anywhere for long and I just trying to do my job. Protect Sammy!”

Those eyes pinned him in place as she cocked her head at him in silent question. After a moment, she asked, “This have anything to do with Mac?”

Emerald eyes were huge as his head snapped up to look at her. “You know about Mac?”

“Mhm,” she hummed in quiet agreement. “Sarge mentioned that the two of you were getting to be close? And Sam’s been looking forward to meeting your ‘nerdy friend’.”

“Yeah, he mentioned,” the cadet snorted with a roll of his eyes. Sobering once again, he sighed, “He’s dropping out; gonna join up.”

Her body sagged in shared remorse as she reached out to caress his shoulder. “Oh honey, I’m sorry. I know how hard it is to watch people you care about, leave you behind.” Her mouth twisted as she continued, “I also know how hard it is to be the one leaving everyone you care behind. It’s not always easy to be the one leaving, I promise.”

“So why do people leave?” he huffed, well aware that he was being irrational.

“Lots of reasons. I left my sisters and Zima behind so I could protect my boys from Cahill; I didn’t see any of them for nearly three decades after that. When you were kids, your brother would leave his friends behind, because he had to . . . your father would leave and he had to go too.” A small, sad smile tilted the corners of her mouth. “Have you asked him why? MIT is a big deal; he probably has a good reason why he’s going.”

“No, not yet,” he confessed with a shrug. “I kinda huffed and puffed a bit. We argued.”

“I’m sure that made your living situation a lot of fun,” she snarked, one eyebrow lifting sardonically. “A single room, two person dorm isn’t exactly big enough for two people to hide from each other.”

He blushed a little, feeling his ears grow warm at the gentle scolding. “Yeah, not really. Part of the reason I came home for the weekend.”

“And we love to have you home, but he’s your friend shchenok. Even if you don’t like his decision, you should still support it. And just because he’s going to join up, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your friend.”

“He’s leaving, Marina.”

“Uh-huh, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to come back. My Misha left us when he joined up, all those years ago; his brothers loved having him come home and they still follow him with eager devotion. I wasn’t able to follow him into the service for nearly six years after that, but at the end of that time, he was still mine. What about Jay? He was still my boy, even after he joined up too. And Brian . . . I can keep going, you know,” she teased, a sly smirk on her lips at his exasperated huff.

“Very funny,” he snarked, giving her a half-hearted glare. “Do you always have to be so . . . mom-ish?”

“Welcome to parenthood, honey. One day, you too will get to enjoy the thrill of never being wrong. You may not always be right, but you will never be wrong.”

He chuckled at her cheerful teasing, even as he shook his head. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, love,” she chirped with a wink.

There was a clamor from the door and both turned to see Valya barrelling into the kitchen, going at least a hundred miles per hour on her still unsteady legs. “Dean! De! De! Dean!”

Lunging to catch her before she face planted into the tile, Dean scooped her up onto his lap. “Geez, Trouble. Haven’t you ever heard of a speed limit?!”

“That’s rich, coming from you, Dean,” was the accompanying snark from his little brother, Katenka seated on his forearm as they paused in the doorframe. “You don’t even know what a speed limit is.”

“Not in my Baby I don’t,” he cheered, earning a scolding look from his foster mother. “I mean, shut up, Bitch.”

The comment earned his brother’s epic bitchface as well as a sharp, “Dean Matthew!” from the Russian.

Dean winced, earning a gloating smirk from the youngest Winchester. “Serves you right, Jerk.”

“Samuel James, you too!” was the resultant scold, Marina’s eyebrows disappearing into her hairline. “Bozhe moi! Get out of my kitchen, the both of you. And watch your mouths around your sisters! Valya is a mimic bird, and I’m blaming the both of you if she starts swearing. Is that understood!?”

“Yes ma’am,” they agreed meekly, glancing at each other sheepishly.

“Good . . . out!” she ordered, throwing her hands up and muttering in disgruntled Russian as she pushed up from her seat at the table

The two Winchester beat a hasty retreat from the kitchen, the twins giggling in their arms as they fled. Just before he disappeared from sight, though, Dean took one last opportunity to tease her. “Love you, Marishka Mama!”

“Love you too, shchenok,” she laughed in replied, the sight of her head shaking in fond exasperation the last he saw of her before the kitchen door swung closed between them.

It would be more than week before he understood the impact his teasing had on the people there; on Marina, on himself . . . and on his brother.

Chapter Text


Chapter 280: Missing in Action

Sam Winchester was never late.

It was the one completely unassailable fact Rene Grimm knew about his foster brother and best friend. He’d promised to meet Rene and the girls after the conclusion of both Debate Club and Student Council. So far even Dacia and Inari were with him, waiting, but Sam was still a no-show.

Debate Club had let out ten minutes ago.

“This isn’t like him,” the blond teenager insisted, pulling his phone free for the tenth time to check for texts he may have missed. Same as before, there was nothing. “Something’s wrong. I can feel it.”

Just then, small hands grabbed his bicep and all but threw him around. Velma Dinkley, square framed glasses stark against usually pale features, looked pink-cheeked and livid. “Where is he!?”

“Who?!” Rene stammered, summer blue eyes wide as he stared at her. Behind Velma, he recognized several members of the debate club, as well as Velma’s friends, the clique known as the Scooby Gang” (so named for their dog, a lovable if cowardly Great Dane, Scoobert “Scooby” Doo). Getting over the shock of her action, he felt his jaw hardening as he demanded, “What the hell, Velma!?” Yanking his arm free from her grasp with a fierce glower, he snapped, “Where is who!?”

“Your brother!” she sneered angrily. “He had all of our notes, and he never showed up! We were completely unprepared for practice today.”

Her features hardened into the know-it-all look Sam was always muttering about. “If we lose our spot at regionals, it’ll be on his head . . . our ‘Beloved Captain’! I knew this was going to happen! I should be Captain! Clearly, I can at least be counted on to be dependable.”

Inari glanced over at her sister in concern, before both turned to look at Rene. The blond had gone drastically pale, staring at the petite senior in horror. It was clear to both Wesen that Rene was quietly freaking out. The dark haired girl rounded on Velma, tone hard as she demanded, “Explain!”

“What is there to explain?” the girl snapped, narrowed eyes aimed at the Asian girl - there wasn’t a kid in school who didn’t know about her feeling for Sam or his for her. Clearly, Velma was holding those feelings against her as she continued caustically, “We counted on him, and he bailed.”

Rene’s tone was strangled as he insisted, “No, he didn’t. That’s not like Sam at all, for starters. Secondly, I felt him at the doors of the auditorium, before I went to Student Council.” He frowned as he explained, “He got a call just before he went inside, so he was still in the hallway when I rounded the corner, but he had one hand on the door handle.”

“A call?” Dacia echoed with a frown. “From who?”

“I don’t know. He answered it though, so it had to have been someone he knew. You know how he is about his phone,” the blond snarked, one hand shoving back through his hair. “It can’t have been anyone in the family, though.”

“Why not?” was the curious inquiry from Daphne, her red hair gleaming in the sunlight.

Dacia spoke up in concerned reply. “Because we’d know about it already. During school hours, or while we were at school, it would have been a roll call or a round up. If we don’t know . . .”

Her sister bit down on her lip with a soft hiss. “. . . then Oba and Oji probably don’t know about the call either.”

“You call Cat, Inari,” Dacia insisted, her eyes on the blond. “I’ll keep Enj busy.”

“I hate that name,” he muttered trying to sound as though he meant it, all while feeling as though his throat was starting to seal closed in a kind of distant panic.

“Bullshit,” was the warm reply, the younger teenager waving off her sister.

Velma’s eyes were searing as she stared at Rene, taking in his quiet devastation and growing panic. After a bit, she paled as the realization of Sam’s whereabouts suddenly struck. “Is Sam . . .?”

“He’s gone,” Dacia agreed, wrapping her arms around her best friend’s waist and holding on as tightly as she could manage. “And we don’t know why.”

Fumbling for his phone once again, Rene dialed his brother and pressed the plastic to his ear. His other hand pulled on his hair as he listened to the ringing. “Come on, Sam . . . answer the phone,” he muttered, a silent prayer building as he hoped there would be an answer.

A few more rings sounded through the phone, before the call went to voicemail. Sam’s voice was warm and practiced as the recording played. “Hey, this is Sam Winchester. If I know you, please leave a message and I’ll call you right back. If this is Dad, hi? And if I don’t know you, you can shove off.”

Rene snorted, amused as always about the message. “Sam, man, call me. You know my mom is going to flip out if you’re not okay, so for all of our sakes, please be okay.”

Clicking the phone off, he instantly redialed only to get the voicemail once more. “Damn it! Why won’t he answer his phone!?”

“He either no longer has it, or he can’t answer it,” Velma rattled off in her usual matter-of-fact manner. After a moment, she winced as she realized how that would be received at Rene’s glare. “I’m just stating the options.”

Growling, Rene looked down to redial his phone once again. Dacia, however, snatched it away before he could complete the call. He reached for it, feeling his features contort as she held it out of his reach. “Dac! Give it back! Right now!”

“No,” was the simple refusal, the two blonds glaring at each other as she continued, “If Sam still has his phone, we need it functioning and we need it on. If you keep blowing up his phone with voicemails, you’re going to kill his battery.”

Inari spoke up then, holding her hand over the receiver on her phone as she waited for her own foster mother to answer her line at the precinct, “If you need someone to call, Rene, you could call Oba.”

“Right; so Mama can go on a murderous rampage? That’s a brilliant plan,” he hissed before taking a deep breath. “I’ll call Dad first. Dad can fix this . . .” Accepting his phone back, he dialed his father’s office line as he insisted, “He will fix this.”

As he lifted his phone to his ear, he turned to find the Debate Club kids starting to walk away. Frowning, he demanded, “Where the hell do you think you’re going, Dinkley!?”

The girl binked, pausing at the front of the group and bringing the rest to a standstill behind her. Confusion was visible in her eyes, even behind the lenses of her glasses. Glancing around at her friends and teammates, she replied cautiously, “Um . . . home?”

“Like hell you are,” he argued, feeling Dacia step up beside him.

Reaching out to wrap her hand around his wrist, she picked up the argument. “Rene’s right. You and your friends need to stay here. They’ll need to talk to you.”

The club members exchanged glances, before one of them asked the hesitant question, “Who is ‘they’?”

Just then Hadley’s voice came through the earpiece of his phone and he held up a hand to signal for patience as he turned his attention to his father’s aide. “Hadley, this is Rene. I need to talk to my dad.” He could feel his jaw tightening in genuine anger as she put him off. She had a million reasons for why the Colonel couldn’t come to the phone and he finally snapped, “Hadley, I need to speak to the Colonel, right the hell now! It’s an emergency, and I guarantee you, he’ll take my call if you tell him so. Thank you!”

The woman’s huff was audible through the phone, causing his blood to boil. A moment later, the line went silent as she put him on hold. A soft grunt escaped the teenager before he refocused on the other kids. He could feel the plasticity of the expression on his face as he answered the earlier question, as cheerfully as he could manage, “My parents.”

Velma looked seconds from protesting, though a gruff voice came through the receiver only seconds later. “Rene?! What’s wrong? Are you, Sam and the girls all right?”

“I’m okay; so are the girls. But Dad, Sam . . .” he stopped, choking at the words at the reminder. “Dad, Sam’s gone. He didn’t go to Debate Club, even though I dropped him off at the door to the auditorium. His teammates are saying he never showed up and he’s not answering his phone either. I’ve called twice, and both times it went to voicemail.”

Rene had never been privy to the underlying rage within his father. The Colonel was notoriously stone-faced and ice-cold - even Rene had heard the rumors about the ice in the man’s veins and the glacier for his heart. As the man’s son, though, Rene knew better than anyone how deeply the Colonel’s emotions went and how poignantly he felt.

Even still, Rene would never have believed the heat of the man’s fury without having witnessed it for himself. Will Grimm’s tone was vicious and furious as he proceeded to cuss a blue streak down the line. Finally, the Colonel fell silent, though his anger was still palpable in the tremble of his tone and in the sharpness of his consonants. “I’ll call your mother and we’ll be right there. Did you can 911?”

“‘Nari called Cat - she’s on shift at the precinct today apparently,” he replied firmly.

“Good; Cat and Tess will take care of what they need to do for an Amber Alert without causing a massive fuss. Rene, keep the girls with and all of you stay put. Is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” he agreed, nibbling on his lower lip anxiously. “Dad, was this John? Did he take his kids back?”

“I doubt it, kiddo, but we’ll find out. Last report had Winchester in Sacramento yesterday. Not to mention, even if he did have to go, Sam would have told you he had to go; he wouldn’t have just dropped everything and disappeared without a word like this.” His father’s tone gentled and he promised calmly, “We’ll find him, Rene. Sit tight; we’ll be at the school soon.”

“See you soon, Dad.”

“You too, kiddo,” was the last his father said before the line went dead in Rene’s hand.

Pressing his phone against his forehead in an attempt to steady himself, he took a deep breath through his nose then put his phone away. After a moment, he turned to face the other kids with a heavy sigh. “My parents are coming. They’ll be here soon. Inari?”

“I called Cat; she had to find Tess and then they’re coming too.”

“Okay, good,” he replied, feeling strangely detached and subdued now that he’d done everything he could do about the situation. “So now we wait, I guess.”

“Wait for what?” was the cautious inquiry from Fred Jones, one of Velma’s core friends with an ascot fixation.

“For my parents . . . for Catherine and Tess . . . for the end of the bloody world,” he snarked sarcastically. Huffing out a breath again, he turned to look at Dacia and informed her, “This had better not be John, or Mama is gonna hit the fan.”

“You think it could be?” Inari asked, eyebrows furrowed curiously at the statement. “I mean, Sam wouldn’t have just left, right?”

“That’s what Dad said, but John Winchester isn’t exactly the most subtle person. If it was him, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to think that he threw Sam’s phone out the nearest window so that they couldn’t be tracked.”

“He’d actually do that?!”

“According to Dean, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s forced Sam to cut ties in drastic fashion.”

“What about Dean?”

“Dean’s at an ROTC retreat for the week. Even if we wanted to call him, there’s no way to get ahold of him. He told Mama and Dad he was leaving his cell phone at the dorm, and to leave any messages with the RA.” Frowning, he sighed, “He won’t get back until tomorrow. And by then . . .”

“Don’t think like that. Dean will call us if it is John. And if it’s not, we’ll figure it out.”

Dropping into a crouch, Rene dropped his forehead onto his wrists as he folded them over his knees. His voice was muffled but still understandable as he asked, “Is it awful to say that I really want this to be John? I mean, at least then we’ll know he’s okay . . . mostly.”

“But I thought Oba . . .” Inari mentioned hesitantly.

“I know; she’ll flip out. Then head out to bring Sam back . . . and John’s corpse.”

“So let’s hope he’s not that stupid then,” Dacia replied, glancing over at her sister to see Inari watching their friend with the same sense of growing alarm.

Resting his chin on his wrists, Rene sighed, “Yeah . . . let’s hope.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 281: A Son’s First Hero

Will could practically feel the NSX vibrating with the depths of his partner’s anger. There was little in the vast world that could truly piss her off. Croatia, while annoying, was an irritant not really an antagonist. The Red Room, for all of its pain and tortures - and its well-earned titled as a circle of hell - was at least tolerated due to everything she’d gained from her time within it - Bucky, her sisters, the assignment with Stark, and him.

To date, there were really only two things in the world guaranteed to trigger her temper. Obviously Ross pissed her off, almost as much as he terrified her. But then there was harm to her loved ones, while made her anger at Ross seem like child’s play.

And now Sam had been abducted from his school. Damn, his Russian was pissed.

“Marishka, samaya malen’kaya,” he soothed, one hand reaching to fold over her own as she twisted them around her scarf in her lap. “Talk to me, zhemchuzhina.”

“He’s supposed to be safe with us,” she insisted, looking up at him with wide eyes. “He shouldn’t be . . . this should never have happened.”

“Agreed,” Will promised, lifting her hand to his lips and pressing a gentle kiss to the clenched knuckles. “But even we can’t prevent everything.”

“How could this have happened, Misha? Who would even dare to . . .?” here his Russian trailed off into a near feral growl.

“Calm, Marishka. We don’t want to frighten anyone, da?” he murmured, even as he acknowledged how close he was to joining her in her rage. Only their long-standing agreement kept him in check.

Over their long years together, the two had cultivated an efficient system between them. Only one could be out of control at a time, while the other focused on whatever problem had risen to blow their world out of the water. Currently that problem was Samonik being abducted, with the resulting goal getting him home safe . . . and destroying whatever - or whomever - had taken him from his family.

Will loved his sons, all four of them, whether they were officially adopted or not. It was no great secret about the lengths he would go to protect his children, but Marina . . .

She had lost a child; never held him or even looked into his face with her own eyes. All she had was a locket with a tiny portrait the size of his thumbnail. Once, not longer after their first night together, she’d told him of the weeks following that loss. The devastation, the feeling she’d been betrayed by her own body. She’d vowed to him then - and had renewed that vow often - she would never lose another child.

She’d risked her life to save Kenny, and Kenny’s brothers, after the termination order was given. Clint’s hospitalization at sixteen, and the hopeless prognosis the doctors had given them, had been met with fierce refusal to give up. The announcement of Kenny’s death had wrecked her, though she’d clung stubbornly to hope following Clint’s determined belief. Her stubbornness had taken a hit when Kenny had run from her, but Aaron was home now and she was determined to keep him protected - even knowing he didn’t need it.

Every one of her boys had her solemn vow to keep them safe, to make sure they returned home safe. None of her Misfits had ever misunderstood the dangers of the job, and they each knew the risks. Each of them knew without a shadow of a doubt, she would come for them if they were in trouble, trailing hellfire and blood in her wake. To date, she’d never let any of them down in that belief.

Samonik though . . . this one was the hardest hit she’d ever taken.

The teenager was taken from their own backyard, more or less. The safest place available to him, or so they’d believed. When they got the kid home - and they would - there was going to be a hailstorm of fussing. Frankly, Will was praying the younger Winchester was a lot more willing to be smothered by her affection than the elder had proven to be.

Marina drew a deep breath in through her nose, her hands twisting under his to clutch his hand tightly. “I’m trying,” she vowed, tone strained as she worked to calm herself. “What if he’s scared . . . or hurt . . . or . . .”

“Marishka!” he interrupted, pulling her attention to him immediately. “No matter what, we’re going to find him. Right?”

Taking another deep breath, she nodded firmly, “Hell yes, we are.”

The red brick face of Brooklyn Latin appeared, causing Marina’s shoulders to tighten up once more. “I want more security at the school. If they can snatch a child off campus, especially a child like Sam? He’s so tall and he has always stood out, especially in his uniform. Someone should have noticed something.”

Will nodded, leaning over to press a warm kiss to her temple. “I’ll talk to Jason and Principal Mayfield. We’ll work something out.”

Marina nodded as the sportscar rolled to a stop, her door open before he’d even put the car in park. He couldn’t bring himself to comment on it, however, equally as eager to lay eyes on the rest of the children as she was. The sooner the better, as the Colonel wasn’t sure how long he could stay in control, the agreement between them notwithstanding.

“Dad!” came the call from the doors, and Will’s head snapped up to look at his youngest son. Rene looked worried and frazzled, but mercifully whole, blond hair ruffling in the breeze as he rushed forward with the girls close behind. “Dad! Why would someone take Sam!? What about John? Was it him!?”

“We tracked John’s phone; he’s in Vegas and we have traffic camera footage of his truck from within the last hour. So it wasn’t him,” he promised, letting his son crash into his arms like a heat-seeking missile.

“Shit,” Rene huffed in a quiet murmur. “Is it awful that I’d hoped?”

“No; I hoped too,” his father promised, squeezing him for another second before releasing the teenager to his mother’s fussing. “So who was the last person to see Samonik?”

“Rene,” Dacia explained as she wrapped her arms around herself, hands clutching to her elbows. “Bärchen apparently never went into debate club, because no one inside saw him. But Rene dropped him off at the door on his way to Student Council.”

Marina nodded once, releasing their son from her embrace. “Did anyone see anything strange or unusual today? New teacher? Janitor? A parent you didn’t recognize at the curb this morning?”

“There was a weird car this morning outside the coffee shop, where we met up with the girls before school,” Rene replied with a frown. “Remember, Dac? I pointed it out to you.”

“Oh yeah! The grey one; it was really old and kinda beat up. It didn’t really look like it belonged there.”

“Why not?” Will inquired curiously, feeling a small flicker of an idea start to batter against the back of his brain.

“Cat and Vincent’s apartment is in an upscale neighborhood. Every other car on the street costs at least $15,000 resale; this one was a hunk of junk. Maybe three thousand, if it was lucky?” Inari explained, a worried tone in her soft voice as she nibbled on her lower lip.

“Did anyone get the license plate?”

Both Rene and Dacia nodded, as Rene announced, “We were going to tell you about it after school, just in case.”

“Good; we’ll get Jay looking into that in a second. Now, how about Samonik? Did he seem out of character at all today? Anxious, distracted, anything at all?”

“He had an exam third period, so he was spazzing out about it a little bit this morning. But after it was over, he seemed okay,” Dacia replied with a shrug.

Inari nodded as Marina directed a stern eye on her - it was no secret the two teenagers had been flirting steadily since the girls had arrived two months before. “He was normal after the test. But even before it, he didn’t seem all that out of character - he was the same as he always is before a big test.”

Reaching out to squeeze the girl fondly, Marina continued, “What about the coffee shop? How often do you four go there?”

Rene frowned, the girls exchanging looks with him before he replied honestly, “Every weekday, I guess? It’s under their apartment, so it’s the easiest place to meet up with them before school. We drop them off there too; sometimes we’ll hang out and do our homework there if we know that you and Dad will be home from S.H.IE.LD. late.”

“And you’ve never noticed this vehicle before? Girls, you’ve never seen a different car you didn’t recognize, lingering around the neighborhood?”

Shaking his head, the teenager frowned as Dacia insisted, “I’ve never seen this car before.”

“But there has been a customer I didn’t recognize coming in while we were there; everyday for the last two weeks,” Inari confessed meekly.

“What!?” was the alarmed demand from her friends, as they both rounded on her.

“Yeah; kinda stocky, wears a baseball cap and always orders a plain black coffee. It’s why I even noticed him; the place has every kind of specialty coffee imaginable, and they make you pay for the privilege. If you just want black coffee, the gas station around the counter or the corner store across the street is cheaper,” she offered with a sheepish shrug, watching as the two officers turned to look at each other.

Marina looked furious with almost literal flames in her eyes. As for Will, it was visibly evident he too was trying to hold on to his temper. The Russian hissed, her fists curled at her sides as she informed her lover hotly, “This was planned!”

“It certainly appears so,” he sighed, his face contorting for a moment before smoothing into calm once again. “Rene, why didn’t Sam go into debate club, when you left him at the door.”

“He got a call,” the teenager replied, looking between his parents with narrowed, calculating eyes. “He answered it, so . . .”

“He answered the call!?” the two adults echoed simultaneously, Marina’s eyebrows raising into her hairline while Will’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Yeah,” he agreed with a nod. Everyone knew Sam’s policy regarding his phone; unless he knew you, he never answered calls and very rarely returned any calls he’d missed. If Sam had answered his phone, the call was either from someone he knew . . .

. . . or someone he thought he knew.

Will fished for his phone in his pocket as Marina moved to meet Catherine halfway. The NYPD detective looked worried as the two women crashed together into a strong hug. His son’s voice drew Will’s attention back as he asked, “Dad?”

“Yeah kiddo?” he asked, lifting the phone to one ear and turning the rest of his attention onto his youngest son.

“Is Sam gonna be okay?”

“He’s gonna be just fine.”

“You promise, Oji,” Inari begged, eyes wide as she looked up at him with her heart in her eyes.

The promise was on the tip of his tongue, before he paused, looking over each of their hopeful faces. Taking a deep breath in through his nose, he nodded once firmly. “Maybe not right away, but yes . . . I promise.” A large part of him wished he could offer more to the kids, but Jason was now rattling off a laundry list of information into his ear and he turned his focus there.

He had a son to bring home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 282: Valiant Protector

This was NOT what Dean wanted to come back to.

The training mission for his unit had been grueling, brutal, dirty and a lot of fun. He and his guys had really come together, and Dean finally felt comfortable as his unit CO. As a result, he was riding a helluva high when he arrived back at the dorm and found the handwritten note on his pillow.

He stared at Mac’s chicken-scratch for at least ten minutes before his brain finally accepted what was scrawled across the page. “Son of a bitch,” he whispered, his eyes huge as he read through the note once more.

Finding no change to the contents, his fist tightened around the page, crumbling it into a ball as he roared, “SON OF A BITCH!”

There was anger in every movement as he stormed to his nightstand, fumbling open the door and for the phone he’d left inside. Getting it on and his screen up, he blinked to see an assortment of texts and voicemails. He flicked impatiently through the junk, before clicking on Marina’s message and gathering fresh things as he pressed the phone to his ear.

Dean, sweetheart, take a deep breath, okay? Because getting angry is not going to get Samonik back. I’ll call your RA once I get off this call to you, so by now you know that Samonik was abducted from school this afternoon.

Based on the evidence we’ve been able to put together, we’re pretty sure his kidnapper is a hunter, and that the abduction itself was planned. If you can get ahold of your father, honey, that would be a huge help. Misha and I have both tried, countless times, and he won’t return our calls.

His jaw tightened as the message continued, every muscle trembling as he forced himself not to react to what he was hearing. Come home, sweetheart, please. I’ll call you if anything changes before I hear from you, but please . . . come home, as soon as you get this.

Unbeknownst to the voice on the recording, the cadet was already on his way there. He left a message with his ROTC sergeant, explaining the details. After which, he called the attendance office at the school and managed to finagle the next week of classes into excused absences, with final approval being a note of some kind from his parents and/or the detective in charge. That he shrugged off as inconsequential; Will, Marina and Catherine would write him as many letters as he needed.

Hanging up with MIT, he called his father - once, twice, then three times, each subsequent voicemail more terse and angry than the last. The base had obviously been informed he was coming, as he was directed to a second gate before he got within a half mile of the gates, waved through without even a cursory check of his ID. Relieved he didn’t have to wait, he gunned it, flying through the base towards the house. His Baby ate up the pavement, as eager as he to get his baby brother back.

Rene and the girls sat on the porch together, looking completely miserable. Rene was practically a ball, his chin on his knees and his arms wrapped around his ankles. Dacia sat next to him, one hand on his shoulder while the other hand smoothed through her sister’s long dark hair. As for Inari, the evidence of a long, drawn out crying jag was all over her face, as she lay with her head in the blond’s lap. All three looked wrecked and worried.

His younger brother pushed himself to his feet as Dean shoved free of Baby’s embrace, watching the older brother warily. Dean barely noticed, pulling the kid into a warm hug, as he promised, “This is not your fault, okay?”

“I should have waited until the door closed behind him. Been there with him, when he was taken,” Rene insisted as he clutched to the older man.

“And if you had, we could missing you both . . . or Sammy could still be gone and you could be dead, okay?” Dean insisted, pushing him away to look into his face sternly. “Sam’s a big boy, okay? You shouldn’t have known what was going to happen.” Glancing towards the door, he jerked his thumb in that direction as he inquired, “The folks inside?”

“Uh, yeah. Uncle Jason found some intel, so he’s in with them. He just got here, so you shouldn’t miss much,” the teen explained, looking a little dejected as he pushed his hands in his pockets.

“What about Sam? He coming?”

Inari nodded in fervent agreement, tone quiet as she agreed, “Soon as he can. But the SRU is short-handed this week, with Team Two on the injured reserve list. Could be next week at the soonest.”

“He’s literally called every hour though, so he’s trying to be as supportive as he can be, from where he’s at,” Dacia insisted, with a rueful twist of her mouth.

Ruffling Rene’s floppy blond hair, he joked, “We have a pretty awesome big brother.”

“Hell yes we do. I have three,” the teenager agreed with a lopsided smile, face scrunching up as punched him lightly in the shoulder.

“As soon as I know more, Rene, I’ll be back to tell you what’s up, okay? I promise.”

“Thanks, Dean.”

Nodding, he dragged the kid into one more desperate embrace, before rushing inside. Jason was in the living room, setting up his laptop on the coffee table when the hunter burst into the room. Will sat on the couch, his arms folded over his chest, mercurial eyes flicking back and forth between his brother and his lover. The latter of these two paced the length of the room, a caged lioness and for once the very epitome of her infrequent moniker, “Hurricane Marina”.

Her features resembled a thunderhead, her jaw contorted with fury and chocolate eyes as hot as a boiling pot. Dean was absent for her reaction to his capture during the Blood Moon hunt, when Winchesters and Grimms had first met, but he’d heard stories. As most people usually did, he made his own assumptions of what her reaction had been back then. Add in a year of care and love, and the growth of their affections . ..

He had grossly miscalculated her reaction to Sam’s kidnapping.

Marina turned to face him at the sound of his footsteps, relief flooding across her face as she rushed to throw her arms around him. “Slava Bogu!” she breathed, tucking herself against him.

Dean’s own arms may as well have been vices as they pulled her closer, his face ducking to hide against her shoulder. “I’m all right, Marina.”

“A mother worries, shchenok, no matter how much you tell her not to,” she reminded him, stepping back after another hard squeeze. “Have you noticed anything strange or unusual at MIT lately? Anyone that didn’t belong, anyone that stood out?”

“I’ve been in the middle of a desert for the last week, Marishka Mama. Only things I’ve seen are sand, cacti, and my unit . . . and damn are they all ugly,” he joked weakly, relieved to earn a small snort of amusement from the woman. Sobering, he looked to Will and inquired, “She said it was a hunter, on my voicemail. How do you know?”

“Take a seat. We’ll go over the details now,” the Colonel replied, barely glancing at him before turning his attention to the Russian was practically vibrating herself to pieces next to Dean.

Knowing the man was worried, Dean turned to look at her and pulled on a sheepish smile. “Hey, I’m starved. I didn’t stop to eat after we were released from training, and I came straight here after I got your message. Is there anything to eat in the kitchen?”

Marina straightened sharply, instantly distracted from her rage as she insisted, “Oh, absolutely honey. Give me a second; I’ll get something fixed up for you.”

As she disappeared, Will turned his full attention on his foster son and insisted, “Thank you.”

“Spazzing out a little, huh?”

“I think I got more sleep than she did last night. That has NEVER happened before,” he agreed, standing slowly and approaching the younger man with his hand outstretched.

Dean consciously step-sided the hand and threw his arms around the man. Will made a soft sound of surprise, before softening and pulling the almost twenty year old into a firm embrace. “He’s gonna be okay, Dean. We’re going to bring him home. I promise.”

The ROTC cadet should have felt ridiculous - he was a Winchester, damn it. And Winchesters did not demand hugs from father figures or trust anyone outside of themselves with Sammy’s safety.

And yet . . . and yet.

“You think he’s okay?” he asked quietly.

Glancing at the kitchen, the Colonel shook his head once. “Not if what we know about his kidnapper is true.”

Blanching sharply, Dean felt his stomach roil at the thought, his knees turning to water under him. The Colonel braced the teen without though, guiding him into a chair and forcing his head between his knees. “Breathe, kid,” Will ordered, his tone gruff but kind as the action proceeded to banish Dean’s breathlessness and lightheadedness.

The cadet dragged in a deep breath, tears prickling in his eyes while the feeling of helpless futility attempted to swallow him whole. “Is my brother going to die?”

“Hell no,” Jason insisted, standing from where he’d been fiddling. “But that doesn’t mean he’s going to have been enjoying tea and candy with this asshole, either.”

“We need your help, Dean. Anything you can tell us would be helpful,” Will agreed solemnly.

“I’ll help however I can. I just want my brother home.”

“So do we; and we’re going to make that happen, I promise.”

Nodding, he sat up and scrubbed at the tears he’d never admit to with the heels of his hands. “So, what do we know?”

Marina came back in then, carrying a plate piled high with food. There was a steak sandwich on her famous homemade bread, alongside a pile of freshmade kettle chips and an apple. In the other hand, she held a bottle of water and a can of Coke. “Here you go, sweetheart.”

“Thanks,” he replied, with a small smile, before tearing in to the meal ravenously.

She nodded in acknowledgment of the thanks, before taking a seat on the armrest of her partner’s chair. Will’s arms came up over her thighs, his fingers drawing lazy designs on the skin of her knees as they both turned their attention to the middle Grimm. As for Jason, he turned on the television, the laptop connected and broadcasting onto the screen.

Dean frowned at the picture displayed there. “Wait . . . Carl Merrick? You think it was Carl!? Dude is harmless - a total whackadoodle, but still basically harmless.”

“You know him?” the technical specialist asked with a lift of his eyebrows.

“Yeah. He’s an old hunting buddy of my dad’s. They teamed up a time or two, way back.”

“Did you know he worked for S.W.O.R.D, here with S.H.I.E.LD.?”

“He did what!?”

“Yeah; your father directed him our way not long after his own recruitment. He was ours . . . for about four months.”

There was suspicion in Dean’s tone as he asked, “What happened?”

“We learned some disturbing intel. Merrick was obsessed with rumors of demons, specifically demon possessions. He was abducting people he suspected of being possessed, and torturing them,” Marina explained, her eyes going hot as the rage lit its fuse in her eyes once again.

“S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands aren’t the cleanest, but we do not condone the torture or murder of innocent civilians. We couldn’t allow him to continue with his tactics, so we sent a tatical team to apprehend him and bring him into custody.” Will huffed furiously, as he continued, “He slipped our leash and fell off the grid, along with all the gear we’d supplied to him with S.W.O.R.D..”

“Including his phone,” Jason clarified. “The phone that showed up on Samonik’s caller ID as S.W.O.R.D.; he answered the call thinking it was one of our hunters here.”

Dean leaned back, the picture starting to take hold as he continued to look over the information Jason had on the screen. “And Dad trained us to always help other hunters. And Sammy knows Carl; he never worked with him personally, but they met once, when Sammy was maybe ten or so.”

“We don’t know why Sam went to help Carl immediately, instead of going into Debate club and then helping after. But we’re pretty sure, Sam went to help and Carl knocked him out, then took Sam with him when he fled the area.”

“Can’t you track the phone?” the younger man asked Jason, a frown on his lips as he turned to face the tech specialist.

“No; it’s off,” Jason replied with a disgruntled twist of his mouth. “And not even I can trace a phone that’s not sending out an active signal. It’s been off since he disappeared, except for three minutes when he used it to call Samonik.”

“What about Sam’s phone? Can we track that?”

Will shifted up onto one hip, then tossed something onto the coffee table between them. Dean blinked and the object resolved into Sam’s beloved Galaxy Note. The screen was spiderwebbed with cracks and it was clear someone had beaten the thing to hell before they’d abandoned it - Sam was going to be pissed if they couldn’t save the information from its internal storage. “We found this in the alley behind the school. Based on cameras in the area, we’re assuming that’s where he parked his car.”

“Do we know where they are, right now? Even a ballpark area at all?”

“We put out a worm to keep an eye out for the license plate the kids saw. The plates came back stolen; however, we’ve still been getting hits on traffic cams heading north through three states.”

“Three states? Where is he!?”

“The last anyone saw? He’d just crossed the border into Maine,” Will answered calmly, a frown on his face as he smoothed his fingers over Marina’s knee. “That was about four hours ago.”

“What about the border? Is he trying to get into Canada?”

“We’ve already closed the border - that was the first thing we did, when we noticed he was heading north. All the known crossing locations, legal or otherwise, have a border patrol presence; they’ve got sketches of Carl and a picture of Sam. They’re searching every car that attempts to cross the border and stopping everyone who even comes close,” Marina promised, her jaw tight with fury. “However, we don’t think he’s trying to get to Canada. He would have been there already, if he was.”

“So he’s in Maine?” the former hunter asked, some part of his memory screaming for his attention.

“That’s our best guess at this time . . . at least until the license plate pings against another border camera. Can you tell me why Maine? Do you know anything about why he’d go there?”

Dean frowned, struggling to remember when Maine was so signifcant with respect to Carl Merrick. He knew it was . . . he just couldn’t . . . quite . . . remember . . .

After a moment, it hit him like a freight train at full speed. “Wait! The Benning Manse!”

Marina’s eyebrows rose as she echoed, “The Benning Manse? What - or where - is the Benning Manse?”

“It’s an old abandoned house, just across the border into Maine. Dad and Carl had a hunt there once, maybe ten years ago? If you’re looking for a place to go, where no one will notice you there?” Here Dean paused, looking between the three with a worried frown. “It’s the perfect place to hide someone you don’t want found. I mean . . . Old Man Benning did it a lot while he was still breathing, hence the need for the hunt.”

The look Will and Marina exchanged was eloquent with restrained violence. After a long moment of silence, the Colonel spoke, “Call the crew, Marishka . . . our bird needs to be in the air in the next few hours. Sooner the better.”

Klassno,” she purred, flowing to her feet, the very picture of lethal grace. “Dean, you should be there too. We don’t have a lot of time, and we want to hit the ground running.”

Dean blinked at the statement, “Wait . . . you’re gonna take me with you?”

“Like I’d leave you behind,” she scoffed with a roll of her eyes. “So get a move on. I have to call Roslyy. We’re going to want him along for the ride, too, just in case.”

Jason spoke up then, tone matter of fact as he reminded the room, “Dean doesn’t have a comm.”

Will shrugging, insisting, “Then I guess you know what you’re doing while we’re gone, huh?”

“Copy that,” he agreed with a sardonic smile. “GPS locators embedded inside? The kind that can be remote triggered?”

“Was that actually in question?” Marina asked over her shoulder as she strode from the room, already focused on the mission and getting her son back.

Winking at his nephew, Jason’s eyes were calm, if worried, as he stated fondly, “Nah . . . not really.”

Chapter Text


Chapter 283: Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men

Vincent Keller was the last to arrive at the planning meeting, coming into Marina's kitchen to find everyone else assigned to the rescue already there. Will and Jason were bent over the map laid out on the table together, the Colonel’s eyes shifting between Dean and Marina even as he listened to the family's tech genius speak about the map.

Marina was fussing at the stove, bustling back and forth while still paying fervent attention to the goings on behind her. He smiled fondly; she was in full-on "Mom Mode" as Grant liked to call it. She couldn't do anything to protect Samonik at this exact second, so she was taking care of everyone else until she could.

Dean was pacing around the perimeter of the room, his emotions waffling between all-consuming rage and heartrending concern. Some part of the kid reminded Vincent of a powder keg from a cartoon, where the villain and the hero were racing each other along the fuse. At this time, the medic wasn't sure which of the two was winning - the anger or the worry.

Brian and Natasha were standing by the wall, having apparently decided that they were in charge of protecting - and shielding - the occupants in the room from anything that might show up. Knowing well Brian's affection for the elder Winchester brother, Vincent wasn't actually sure why he was surprised by his inclusion to their mission.

Even Joe Hardy was there, straddling the back of a chair next to the table, his eyes following Jason's fingers across the map with intense focus. Though the medic had never worked with the undercover agent personally, Brian had always been highly complementary of his agent. And the second eldest Grimm did not give out praise lightly.

The two brothers at the table looked over with the rest of the family as Vincent entered the kitchen. There was a rueful smile on the younger's face as he greeted him, "Sup, Vincent! You were Spec Ops, right?"

"Yeah," he agreed, tone wary and eyes narrowed suspiciously, "before Muirfield and the project anyway. Why?"

"We're having a difference of opinion and could use a new set of eyes," Will explained, a small quirk twisting his lips into a parody of his usual smile.

"Sure . . . hit me," he agreed, squeezing Marina's shoulder fondly as he passed her before leaning over the table next to them.

Will's pointer finger traced around a squarish gray shape next to the house. "What does that look like to you?"

After examining it for a bit, he hedged cautiously, "A shed?" The fact that neither brother reacted to his guess implied they had already figured out that much at least. Frowning, he turned his attention back to the map and considered it closer. After a moment, he reared back in shock, "It's new!"

"Ha!" Jason cheered with a whoop. "I told you!"

Will rolled his eyes in amusement. "I didn't disagree that it was new. I was arguing that it wasn't new enough; not to be Merrick's addition to the surroundings."

The medic's eyes remained on the map as he continued evaluating the building and its surroundings. "Well, I am going to have to agree with Will on that at least." He ignored Jason's grown as he traced the edges of the structure. "There's too much weathering on the edges of the roofs. It's been there for at least a year . . . maybe more."

"Which doesn't mean that Merrick didn't add it," Jason argued, his features set. "Merrick has been off the grid for a year - and that is the perfect hiding place! No one knows it exists, and those who do avoid it. Considering the deaths that happened there, it's completely isolated."

Will frowned at the statement, forced to concede the point. "And it's an abandoned house, so it would have furniture and a kitchen. So that makes sense." He grimaced as he continued, "And now I'm afraid of how many other people he's taken to that hell hole."

Dean's tone was brittle as he insisted, "Best thing to do, once we get Sammy back, is to salt and burn that bitch down." There was a slow burn in his tone. "It has housed far too many ghosts."

Will grunted in reluctant agreement, straightening from the table and folding his arms over his chest. "And while I agree with you, Dean, I also don't want to make a big scene. A fire at an abandoned house, tends to be pretty noticeable and draws a lot of attention."

Dean's eyebrows furrowed as he surged forward, protesting hotly, "Noticeable or not, that house is dangerous. Who knows how many ghosts Carl has added to it?"

The Colonel nodded, mercurial eyes focused on the younger man seriously. "No matter what, Dean, we'll deal with the house. I promise."

Brian's tone was gruff as he promised, "There's more than one way to skin a fish, De."

Everyone turned to look then as Inari wandered into the room, looking worried and skittish. Her whole demeanor perked up at the sight of Vincent, scampering over to hug him tightly. The man's arms wrapped around her just as fiercely, tone warm as he questioned, "Are you okay, Inari?"

"Yes, just . . ." here she trailed off, her lower lip trembling a little as she struggled to keep her emotions under control.

Her foster father gathered her a little closer, understanding without explanation. "We're going to bring him home, Inari. I promise."

She nodded, clinging close for another moment before stepping back again. Pushing away the escaped tears with the heels of her hands, she straightened her shoulders with a firm nod. "I believe you." Her lips twisted ruefully as she continued, "I actually came in for some snacks? If that's okay?"

Marina's tone was warm and gentle as she agreed, "Of course it is, sweetheart. My pantry is always open to you kids. Samonik and Rene know that; so should you and Dacia."

Inari smiled at her de facto aunt, teeth gleaming behind her smile. "Thank you, Oba."

"You're welcome. Come on; I'll put together a plate for the three of you."

As the plans - and his girls' random entrances - continued, Vincent watched as Will and Marina's eyes filled with genuine concern and fond suspicion. The two girls traded off, arriving in the kitchen for something or another, every half hour or so. It was quickly apparent, however, that Rene was avoiding the kitchen as obsessively as the girls were visiting.

Vincent would eat his medical degree if the teenager wasn't making himself scarce for the exact same reason the girls were hovering around.

Finally, Marina straightened from her place bent over the table, hands finding her hips as she stared Dacia down. The Blutbad froze like a deer in headlights, her eyes wide as she came to the realization she'd been caught out. "All right, Dacia. Subtle? You girls are not," she scolded with a fond roll of her eyes and an amused twist to her lips. After a moment, she sobered, her tone hardening as she demanded, "Explain, Dacia Joelle."

Dacia grimaced at the use of her full name, something she knew the family Russian only did when you were in trouble. Shooting a quick look in Vincent's direction earned a cocked eyebrow from the man in question. She sagged at the realization there would be no rescue there, before turning to face Marina again. "Okay; this isn't what it looks like it. Honest."

Will's tone was dry but amused as he countered, "It looks like you're keeping tabs on us for Rene."

She winced, tone meek as she agreed sheepishly, "So it's exactly what it looks like."

"Dacia, we're going to get Samonik home," the Colonel vowed solemnly, watching her with dark grey eyes.

"And Enj knows that. That was never in question, Dyadya, honest."

Marina's hip leaned against the table as her arms migrated to cross her chest. "So what is in question?"

"Nothing!" she protested instantly, the response too quick to be anything other than the truth. "I mean, not technically."

The family's Power Couple frowned in unison, causing Jason to speak up with clear curiosity. "Wait. Not technically? Define 'not technically'."

Dacia huffed a little as one hand pushed back through her hair. Finally, she spoke, "Enj is terrified he's going to lose his parents in the process of getting Sam back." A small flinch ran through her at Marina's horrified gasp, Vincent's eyes flashing to see the Russian's hands fly to her mouth. Straightening her shoulders, the blonde teenager continued, "His biggest fear is being alone . . . left behind by the people he loves."

Will and Marina glanced at each other, hot chocolate eyes worried and dark grey resigned. The medic couldn't help marveling once again at the silent conversation between them. After a moment, Will turned to Dacia with a firm nod. "Thank you for letting us know, Dacia."

"Don't tell him I said anything? Please? He'd be horrified."

Marina's smile was small and pained as she agreed, "We promise. Just between us."

The blonde teen nodded briskly in reply, then bolted. The Colonel's hand came up to squeeze his partner's shoulder, before she moved away toward the window. A deep breath in through the man's nose was his only reaction. After a moment, he turned to the rest of the room. "Let's take five okay?" Here his mouth twitched sadly. "We may need to reevaluate the plan."

The agreement from the rest of the group was clear as one by one, they trickled towards the doors. None of them went very far, however, each of them lingering outside the kitchen door. On the other side of the wood, the Colonel's tone was brittle and harsh as he insisted, "When we find this asshole, someone had better shoot him. Repeatedly."

Marina hummed in absent response, her attention on something else entirely based on the tone of her response. "Of course, Mishka."

Vincent turned to look at the younger Grimm as Jason began to cuss under his breath. Inside the kitchen, his older brother's tone turned coaxing as he inquired, "Marishka? Zhemchuzhina? Talk to me."

"Look at him, Misha. I have never seen our son so quiet . . . so withdrawn," she insisted, tone quiet and mournful. Her fear and concern for both of her children was clear in that tone, both for the son outside her reach for the moment and for the son still within her grasp. "I didn't even think about . . . I mean, we know that! His fear should not have been a surprise to us. We've known that for years!"

"Samonik is his best friend," the Colonel reminded his lover. "And even knowing that Merrick is our kidnapper, and a more than better idea of where Merrick took him?" Here he paused, cloth rustling together and heavy footfalls crossing away from the kitchen door, both obvious to Vincent's sensitive ears. "There's a lot of variables we can't control. We're all worried, Marina."

"Agreed," she replied, subdued and scared in a way Vincent had never heard from her before. It was different to the fear she had shown when Sam got bit by the infected zombie in Georgia . . . and wasn't quite like the fear she felt when Grant and Brian were incarcerated in Latveria. This was more than those emotions, as well as less than them too. It was a feeling she felt keenly . . . sharply. Her tone was firm and resolute when she spoke again. "Which is why one of us needs to stay here. For Rene. So he knows he's not alone."

For a while, it was silent on the other side of the door. There was no movement, no words, and no sound at all except for two people breathing in perfect sync. Vincent would have given anything to know what was happening beyond the door. After a moment, he turned to look at Jason, hoping to get a read on Will's Second. Those green bottle eyes were solemn and unreadable as they met Vincent's own, his head shaking once in silent answer to whatever question the medic was broadcasting through his eyes.

Apparently, Jay didn't know either. Or he did, but was reluctant to say.

After a moment, the Colonel's voice broke the silence. "When we were kids . . . when Jason was a kid. He fell and broke his arm, remember?"

Marina sniffled hard, tone curious as she agreed, "Yeah. He fell off the roof, trying to fix the PA system. Shattered his arm - he had to have surgery to reset the bone, and put in the plate to repair it."

"He was fifteen years old," Will reminded her warmly. "And all he wanted was you . . . his mom." There was a pause, as the two partners clearly exchanged some unspoken understanding between them. "You're Samonik's mom . . . he's going to want you most. I'll stay."