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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."

Chapter Text

Chapter 284: All for One . . . One for All

Marina Ivanovna Petrovka was more than livid. She didn't think there was even a word to describe how she felt at this moment. It was one thing to come after the agents, snipers, assassins and spies in her family; she was still going to kill you, but they at least understood and accepted the risks.

To come after her children? That was a whole other level of stupid.

However, Dean's fury - it was an entity unto itself. Her foster son's emotions were white hot and raging with uncontrollable fear, a veritable supernova of tangled emotions and violent revenge. The young man may as well have been an inferno, running wild . . . and out of fuel to burn.

It was a side of the young man Marina had never seen before. She always suspected that beneath his devil-may-care, easy going demeanor, there was a deeper well of emotion. There had been glimpses of his temper when she and Will had confessed about Cassian's existence, though it hadn't been directed at them personally. However, she knew Samonik had a temper - she had been a witness to it more than a few times.

Dean's temper, though; this she had not prepared for.

After he'd assimilated the information he'd been given regarding Carl Merrick, he suddenly turned stone cold and eerily focused. His announcement that he would meet her and Vincent in Maine had startled her, badly, and only Misha's quick thinking in confiscating his keys had prevented him from leaving them all in the Impala's dust. It was the first time the MIT cadet had ever been truly defiant with them, in their role as his foster parents.

When his bitter argument over his right to go had come to a rather ignominious end - her lover had forbidden him from driving and refused to return his keys - Dean had actually screamed with the force of his frustration and fear. The younger man slammed from the living room in a rage, storming to his room where a rush of bangs and crashes indicated the damage to a slew of his things. It went quiet for a moment, before a string of staccato, rhythmic thuds sounded against the walls.

Marina winced with each thud, able to easily imagine the damage her son was doing to his knuckles as he punched the walls full force. Will glanced at her with a sigh, earning a sad smile, before the continued sound sent her partner up the stairs for a second go-around with their boy.

The two had another brief argument, before Misha banished the hot-headed kid to the attic gym, and the heavy bag that hung there. A moment later, she found her lover in Dean's room. His hands were braced on the desk, his head hanging between his shoulders as his knuckles turned white with the force of his grip. Above them both, the Russian could hear the sharp thuds and angry grunts as their son worked out his anger on the heavy bag.

Arms coming up across her chest, she leaned one shoulder against the doorjamb as she watched him pull his emotions back behind their usual wall. "I'll talk to him," she promised, feeling steadier and more capable of taking control of their problem to let her lover release his own rage over the situation. Her eyes watched him carefully as she sought some indication that he was willing to accept her offer.

A blond head nodded once, the action sharp and forceful in agreement. His silence was looming and she frowned softly, "What's wrong?"

"Samonik . . . what he told me - told us! - last month," he began in a strained whisper, words halting and pained as he tried to force them out.

Marina flinched hard; no further clarification was needed there. She remembered her terror and her worry when Misha had imparted that information to her. "I know . . . I remember . . ."

He was silent for another moment, before he spoke again as though he hadn't heard her. "He dreams true dreams, but I know he didn't dream this."

Marina's eyebrows furrowed as she asked, "How do you know?"

Turning to face her, he shook his head. "He thought it was a kind of clairvoyance. Except there have to be gaps - he promised he'd tell us when he had another dream. And he didn't say anything about this."

"And you think . . ." she trailed off, knowing she didn't need to finish her thought for her lover to know her mind.

"I think that's why he was taken. Somehow, someway . . .” here the Colonel paused, a deep pain embedded in his eyes at the thought, ". . . Carl Merrick knows about Sam's dreams."

"Which means Carl didn't just take him as leverage against us," Marina moaned; though it hadn't been ideal, the initial scenario had at least guaranteed her son's safety.

"No; Merrick was hunting Sam. Ten to one, once Merrick has the information he needs from him, he intends to kill him."

Marina's face hardened as she hissed, "I will not let that happen. I will bury that mudak first."

"Good," he agreed, eyes blazing silver in an otherwise granite face. "Joe Hardy is going to be your most reliable back up on this assignment." Firming his jaw, he insisted, "He's under orders to drive for you the whole time, from the moment you leave the house until you bringSamonik home."

"But . . ."

"No." The refusal was finite as hep shook his head to negate her argument. "Dean's too upset and I can't count on him to be clear-headed right now. You're going to be focused on him on the way up there . . ." Here he interrupted himself at the look of betrayal on her face. "Don't give me that look! I know you better than that! Samonik is going to need you focused on the way home. Not to mention, Vincent will be all hands on deck once you have him back. A driver is necessary, for my own peace of mind, if nothing else." He sighed, running a hand back through usually orderly blond strands. "Joe Hardy is dependable, clear-headed, and a proven asset in a crisis. He's driving."

There was a small part of Marina that wanted to be offended that her lover didn't think she could handle the task. The other part of her knew he was only trying to look out for her and their family. Heaven knew they rarely made it easy for him. The Russian stepped further into the room, her arms coming up to hook over his shoulders while her forehead pressed against his sternum, taking comfort in the steady thrum of his heartbeat. "I love you," she breathed, eyes closing as she tried to settle them both so as to provide the best help to their son they could.

"And I love you," he replied, arms looping around her shoulders and pulling her in tightly. "Bring our son home."

"Copy that," she murmured in fervent reply, eyes clenched closed as she grasped for all the time she could feasibly steal before it was time to leave.

The doorbell rang then, indication the Joe had returned with their vehicle, pulling attention to the front of the house. Marina's shoulders straightened as she pulled back a half-step. "Looks like our ride has returned."

The Colonel hummed in noncommittal agreement as he leaned back himself. Both of them were aware of the clock ticking down in their heads and neither was willing to let it tick to the end. "You need to go," Will insisted, tone low and adoring. "Samonik needs you."

"I know. Take care of everyone here?"

"I will. I'll see you soon."

"Damn right you will," she vowed, going up on tiptoes to accept a quick peck. Pulling free, she moved to the door, "I love you."

"And I, you," he replied, his hands finding his pockets as he watched her leave the area. "Be safe."

"Hey, it's me."

"Kinda what I'm talking about," he replied, completely deadpan and utterly serious.

The last she saw of him was over her shoulder as she bolted from the room. Once her back was turned, he had sagged back against the desk, face pale and features drawn. Her heart wrenched in her chest, every inch of her torn between these two men she loved. Marina had never seen her lover look so old before . . . and she hoped she never would again.

Turning forward she bolted. Her son needed her now . . . her lover would have to wait.

Once they were airborne, the Russian allowed Dean to sulk for all of three minutes, before she smacked him up the back of the head. Dean flinched, grabbing for the back of his head with a shouted, "Ouch!" Glaring at his foster mother, he demanded, "What the hell was that for!?"

"Get your head out of your ass, Dean Matthew!" the handler snapped in reply, her arms coming up to fold over her chest. "I know you're angry and you're worried . . . I am too. But sulking in a corner and throwing a temper tantrum because we didn't let you book it to Maine by yourself is not going to bring Samonik home."

"I could be there already, Marina!" he protested hotly. "I should be there!"

Marina frowned at the wording; she was pretty sure she'd just said something about that desire. He was so adamant that . . . here the lightbulb in the back of her head went off. "Ah!" she breathed, suddenly understanding. "Honey, you're not alone anymore, remember?"

Dean froze, a veritable deer in headlights as he stared at her in startled shock. She could feel one corner of her lips quirk upwards, moving to wrap her arms around him and squeezing firmly. "I know it's hard for you to believe that, shchenok," she whispered as she felt the nineteen year old begin to tremble in her arms, "but Misha and I are here for you and Samonik, always."

His head dropped onto her shoulder heavily, as though it was suddenly too heavy for him to carry without the help, his fingers turning into claws in the back of her tactical shirt. "My dad . . . he won't return my calls. It doesn't feel like he even cares that Sammy's gone."

The constant, low-grade fury Marina typically felt for John WInchester at all times, flared into a roaring inferno as her jaw clenched hard on the nasty, unflattering things she'd like to say about the man. However the Russian forced herself to calm, to contain that anger, so as not to alarm the skittish child in her arms.

Her heart ached, feeling the desperation and the fear in the way he was clutching to her. Distantly, she wondered how long it had been since the last time someone had promised to help him in his trials . . . to help him protect his little brother. Every inch of him was screaming for reassurance and for some kind of attention. Though she wanted to, there was nothing she could say about his father - she had made a promise not to consciously lie to him.

Instead, she smoothed her fingers through his hair and promised, “I care. And we’re going to get Samonik back and bring him home.”

He nodded against her body, before confessing in a strangled whisper, “I wish we’d found you and Will sooner.”

Quiet joy shot through her heart as she murmured, “Me too, sweetheart. But you’re here with us now and we will never let you go.”

He sniffled hard as he straightened up, discreetly brushing at his eyes to wipe away the evidence of his small breakdown. Willing to let him get away with the small deception, Marina turned to get some water bottles from the mini-fridge to give him that time. She stiffened a little when he spoke up again, “Is Sammy gonna be okay?”

Biting down on her lip, she let herself feel the fear she’d been harboring for her children, before shuttering it away again. “Maybe not immediately, but eventually . . . yes. We’ll help him get better, if Merrick has hurt him. And we’ll be there when he breaks down. Because he will; someone facing the end of this kind of situation always does.”

Dean sank into a chair, dropping his face into his hands. “I’m supposed to protect him, Marina,” he sighed with a frown.

“Dean, I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell Misha every day - if you start blaming yourself for things you can’t control, you’re gonna sink into a pit you can’t climb out of,” the Russian scolded. “Misha and I are his guardians; how do you think we feel about this mess? He was taken on our watch.”

“But you’re here!” You . . .” he protested, cut off by her calm interruption, “So are you, shchenok.”

There was desperation in his features at her insistence, so willing to believe her words and equally unable to put his faith in them. She reached out to cup his cheek, and promised, “Take it from me, shchenok, regret will eat you alive. There is no point in it. We put faith in the school to keep him safe - that was a mistake. You were in Boston - that was not.”

“Promise?” he asked, wanting to believe her.

“I promise,” she agreed with a fond smile. “Now, let’s focus on getting our boy home, yeah? Tell me what you know about the Benning Manse. Anything you can tell us will be a huge help when we go in to get him back.”

The sound of movement near the doors of the lounge drew her eyes away from her foster son. Joseph Hardy leaned back against the wall, looking cold and lethal - a far cry from his usually fun-loving demeanor. It was a look she had seen more than a couple of time, and she smiled tightly to see it now.

Say what you wanted about the younger Hardy brother, but he knew the job . . . and he was damned good at it. To have him at her back brought her a significant amount of relief. At least one agent on this rescue mission would have a clear head. She could trust him to do what needed done, no matter how grisly the job. Making a mental note to apologize to her lover for questioning his insistence, she turned back to Dean once more.

The former hunter shook his head to see her attention once more. “It’s old and abandoned. I don’t even really understand why he’d go there . . . or even that he did. It’s just a guess.”

 

Joe spoke up calmly. “Thermoscans from our satellites indicate the building is inhabited. Two heat signatures - one has been stationary and unmoving throughout surveillance, while the other one is almost frenetic.”

“If the building is abandoned, we’re going with the heat signatures belonging to our guy and Samonik,” Marina agreed, flinching a little to know that Sam was at best restrained and at worst completely unresponsive. “Dean, where would Merrick have stashed Sam? Where would he have him, that he wouldn’t be worried about Samonik escaping or even being seen?”

Dean bit down on his lip, visibly cycling through everything he could remember. After a moment, he looked up, suddenly pale and sick to his stomach. “It has a cellar . . . or maybe it’s a basement.” He swallowed hard, before continuing with a twist of his mouth, “It’s where Old Man Benning use to torture his wives before he murdered them. When Dad and Carl were there, they ended up salting and burning the bones of ten women he’d buried in the floors and the walls. Dad was never a hundred percent sure that they'd found all of them.”

Vincent’s tone was dry from the other side of the room, as he insisted, “You know . . . just when I think I can’t like this any less . . .”

Marina sighed as she scrubbed her hands over her face, before nodding. “. . . it gets worse.”

Chapter Text


 

Chapter 285: Confessions From The Dark Side

William Grimm hated fighting with his kids and last name or no - legal adoption or not - Dean Winchester was his kid. John Winchester be damned. Which was likely anyway - seven calls and counting to the man with still no response.

Cleaning up the smashed lamp and other broken detritus in Dean’s room had kept him busy for thirty minutes following Marina and Dean’s departure. Ordering replacements online had kept him busy for another hour after that. However, once both of these chores were completed, he was at loose ends.

Vika had taken the girls for the foreseeable future, considering the situation - his Valya and his godson, Yasha, had been thrilled by the impromptu slumber party. Those two were already as thick as thieves, and some part of him had already accepted the inevitability of a relationship once they were older.

The louder part of him longed to keep his baby his “Little Girl” forever. Not that he thought that would work; there was so much of her mother in the eldest twin. It was both a comfort and a dread that Valentina would never be forced into - or away from - anything she truly wanted.

He ate the dinner Marina had left out for him. There was requisition paperwork Hadley had been pushing at him to complete. Then he called his eldest son; Sam was worried about his younger brother and furious as all hell that he was unable to come and help yet. A promise to keep the sniper updated on the situation went a long way to soothing the bulk of his fear, but both of them knew nothing would complete ease the worry until Sam was in New York and could see his little brothers for himself.

A brief conversation later, the Colonel hung up the phone then went to check on his youngest son. Rene was in Samonik’s room, curled up on the foot of his brother’s bed. It should have been a surprise to see Inari and Dacia curled up together across from him, but Will knew better. Leaning one shoulder against the doorframe, his hands found their places in his pockets. “Please tell me Cat and Vincent know where you girls are, considering everything that’s going on right now.”

“Cat is at the precinct tonight, trying to smooth things over regarding Sam’s kidnapping,” Dacia agreed with a small smile.

Inari continued with a small nod, “And Vincent went with Oba.” Her tone was meek and curious as she stated, “Is it okay if we stay?”

“Absolutely,” he promised, secretly relieved to have them close and accounted for. One corner of his mouth twitched upwards into a small smile as he insisted, “You both are always welcome here. You know that.”

“Thank you, Dyadya,” the blond Wesen replied with an equally small smile in reply.

“Rene, you okay?” Will asked, eyes locked on his youngest son. “You know I’m always here to talk, if you need to. It doesn’t matter where I am, what time it is or whatever I’m doing.”

The blond teenager snorted derisively, causing his father to blink in startled shock. A frown pulled at his mouth as he questioned with genuine concern, “You don’t believe me.”

“I believe you, Dad,” Rene promised, before his tone darkened angrily, “but would you mind letting Hadley in on that memo?” There was irritation and anger accompanying her name as his son all but snarled, “She apparently has a difference of opinion.”

“Wait; what about Hadley now?” Will asked, feeling his temper start to boil. He didn’t think he needed the explanation, but it was still a good idea to hear it anyway.

“She wouldn’t let me speak to you! Initially, she refused to transfer me!” Rene burst out, all his fire and passion lending heat to his words as he vaulted off the bed. “She didn’t even care that I said I needed to talk to you, because she had a dozen reasons for why you couldn’t come onto the line to talk to me . . .”

“Rene!” The Colonel spoke up, derailing the rant the officer could see his teenager working himself up to.

Startled by the interruption, Rene stuttered to a stop with a blink as he stared at his father in surprise. “Yeah, Dad?”

“I’ll handle Hadley, okay?” the man promised, his jaw tight as he tried to forced himself to remain calm while he was still with the children. “Have you guys eaten yet?”

Inari shrugged, “Kind of? We ate what Oba left out for us. But I’m not really hungry.”

“Me either,” the other two agreed, as they slumped back into the bed with a sigh.

Will frowned, watching them and trying to come up with something that would get the kids out of the house for a little bit. There were some things that needed to be taken care of, and for their own peace of mind, these three didn’t see to see them. Finally he asked, “Not even for Cold Stone?” He smiled to watch the two girls look torn between their interest and their concern. The Cold Stone Creamery on base was a noted weakness of the two girls - something that neither of them had ever had before. Digging into his wallet, the Colonel pulled out his AmEx Black and offered it to his son. “If you feel up to it, feel free to get some ice cream, okay? Or you can stop by the Coulsons and help put your sisters to sleep - I'm sure they'd appreciate seeing a familiar face for bedtime.”

“Dad, are you sure?” his son asked, looking wary at the offer.

“Yeah. I need to deal with Hadley and I don’t want you here for that.” A warm smile quirked his lips as he promised, “I’ll update you as soon as I know about Samonik, I promise. But waiting and moping around here is not going to help bring him home.”

The blond still looked hesitant before accepting the card with a nod. “All right. How long do you need us to be gone?”

“Be back by curfew. That should give me about two hours to take care of Hadley, and some other things that need doing.” Accepting his son’s strong hug, he let Rene cling for a minute before smoothing gentle fingers over the top of his head. “Stay on base, okay? You’ll be alright.”

“Okay,” he agreed, arms tightening for a second before the three teenagers pulled on their shoes and trooped towards the front door.

Though a large part of him wanted to deal with his aide now, the small and more rational voice in his head knew he was entirely too angry to handle the upcoming talk with any calm. As a result, he retreated to the master suite he shared with his Marishka, hoping that the lingering presence of her perfume would calm him enough not to blow his lid at the woman.

The canvas hanging across from the bed put paid to that in a heartbeat. Normally, he loved this picture - and he still loved it now - but the very sight of it stabbed through him like a knife. Sinking onto the bed, his hands fisted into the comforter while his eyes roamed over every face.

Two days after the twins turned one, while Sam was still in New York, Marina had announced an appointment she’d scheduled with a photographer for a formal portrait session. Then proceeded to bully each of their sons into sitting for the assortment of pictures she wanted done. (There was a charming picture of Sam, Julianna and Sadie sitting on both of their desk at S.H.IE.L.D.. The profiler held their daughter in her arms, while Sam had his arms around wife and daughter both, the married couple looking down at their sleeping child.)

But this portrait was just the immediate family. Marina sat in the middle, flanked on both sides by the eldest and the youngest sons. Sadie sat in their eldest’s lap, wearing a charming pink pinafore dress with lace trim. As for Rene, he held Katenka in his own lap, her favorite green dress matching her brother’s own dark green sweater with white collared shirt and navy tie. The four of them were smiling at the camera, their knees brushing against their mother’s own.

Samonik sat on the other side of Rene, a shy smile on his lips as he looked at the camera. Katenka’s eyes were on the younger Winchester, her hand reaching out and clutching his own. The fact that her fingers were holding him so tight was impossible to miss, as was the tight grip Samonik had on Katenka in reply.

On the other side of the portrait, Dean flanked Sammichka and Sadie, holding Valya on his own lap. The two of them were in blue, her jumper a pale blue that complemented his own navy button-down and black tie perfectly. Green eyes glowed in the picture, what little of his sister’s features you could see clearly adoring as she craned her head back to see his face. The girl they all called “Trouble” adored both of her Winchester brothers, though Dean was definitely her favorite. The cadet was infinitely more likely to indulge in a prank or a bit of mischief with her from time to time.

As for Will, he stood in the space between Rene and Marina, with his right hand draped over Marina’s right shoulder. Her own right hand had lifted to link with his, their fingers threaded together through ease of long practice. As for his left hand, its placement on Samonik’s right shoulder was impossible to miss. Will’s head was turned to look at Dean and Valya, frozen in mid-smile at the sight of the two siblings.

The sight of that portrait was a physical pain in his gut.

Will slammed his eyes closed, feeling fury well up through him like the tidal wave that heralded an incoming tsunami. He struggled to contain it, even as the logical side of him knew there was no need. Marina was out on the rescue with Dean. Rene had been sent off his friends. The twins were with Vika, Coulson and Yasha. There was nothing and no one requiring him to remain calm and in control.

The realization was like a butcher knife to fishing twine. His calm snapped.

Rage swelled like a living thing, pushing him to his feet in a reckless surge. His arms swept across the top of his dresser, knocking everything to the ground with an enraged scream. Candles shattered, papers scattered, and various toiletries flew to all corners of the room, causing chaos in their wake. Some part of him was soothed at the sight of the blatant destruction, pushing him onto the nightstands and then Marina’s vanity.

By the time his rage had abated, the master bedroom looking as though a tornado had hit. Marina’s jewelry chest - the one he’d made for her 30 years ago - lay smashed on the floor. The bed had been savagely ripped apart, while glass and other detritus shimmered maliciously in the carpets. The portrait alone remained untouched.

Dragging in a deep, calming breath, he sagged down onto his knees as he took in the scope of the mess. A heavy sigh pushed free before he moved to rescue his partner’s jewelry from the shards of wood. Placing the treasured pieces in the drawer of her vanity table, he left the room behind, already pulling his phone free. A quick call to their cleaning service would handle the mess. Then he called his brothers, the three of them still currently in town.

They arrived just after Will dispatched the cleaning crew up to the master bedroom. “What happened?” his Second inquired, eyes roaming over his brother’s face. “What are Heather and Stacy doing here?”

“I threw a tantrum,” Will replied bluntly, knocking back a glass of Glenlivet in search of a moment’s reprieve.

“You son was abducted, little brother,” Doyle reminded him calmly. “Most people would call your reaction ‘righteous fury’.”

“Maybe,” the Colonel allowed, pulling a set of keys from his pocket and offering them to the middle Grimm. “Can you please give the Impala a tune-up and whatever other upgrades you think would be appropriate for her?”

Jason accepted the keys cautiously, tone wary even as he agreed, “Yeah, of course. But why?”

“Dean and I had a fight; as such, I would like to make it up to him.” Turning to Aaron, he continued his thought, “After Jay’s done with the tune-up, can you make sure she’s detailed for him? I want her to look perfect by the time he gets home.”

“Of course!” Aaron promised with a nod, but his gaze remained focused on his elder brother. It took a moment, but understanding flared in his eyes as Will’s expression turned sheepish. His eyes went wide. “No shit! The jewelry chest!? Really?”

Will’s wince was answer enough. He sagged back into his armchair with a frown, one hand coming up to push back through his hair. “Yeah; I’m pretty sure it’s beyond repair, but . . .”

The two younger brothers exchanged a concerned look between them. The jewelry chest had been a gift for Marina for her fortieth birthday. The Russian loved the ugly, ridiculously clunky thing; she’d taken good care of it over the last thirty years, regardless of the rough-and-tumble circus life, the constant moves with the Army, and the years in storage. She was going to be devastated at its loss.

Aaron frowned, trying to remember what it looked like as he promised, “As soon as Samonik’s home, I’ll build her another one. The old one was . . .” he trailed off with a grimace, suddenly remembering that Will had actually built the thing himself.

“Hideous,” the eldest brother supplied with a snort. “It’s okay; it really was ugly. I tried to get her to replace the stupid thing a hundred times once we could afford it.”

“She loved it,” Aaron reminded him with a shake of his head.

Jason’s tone was awed and horrified as he nodded in agreement to that assessment, “I can’t believe you actually smashed it.”

“Not consciously,” the Colonel sighed, sagging back in his hair. “I wasn’t really focusing on any one thing. I just . . . fury will make even a brilliant man stupid.”

“You did something stupid? That’s not possible,” Doyle snarked, plopping down into the couch and narrowing his eyes at Will.

The Colonel forced his shoulders straight. He knew how far he’d unraveled, but he’d be damned if he let his brothers know how far he’d tumbled down the rabbit’s hole. A flash of warmth stabbed through Will as he snarked in reply, “Ha ha; very funny.”

 

The family’s Master Sergeant’s laugh was somber as he promised, “I’ll make her a new one. Maybe she won’t even notice the old one is gone.”

Will’s smile was small and forced as he shook his head. “Oh, she’ll notice. It was a hell of a tantrum.” Sheepishness tilted his lips as he announced, “I already know which diamond I intent to grovel with.”

Doyle’s tone was a low hum as he commented, “Marina’s never seemed to be the type who cared about stuff. I’m pretty sure she’s going to completely understand where you were coming from.”

 

“It’s just stuff,” the simultaneous intonation from the four Grimms, before Will grimaced. “And the fact that she’ll be understanding will actually make me feel worse than if she’d just yell at me.”

Jason’s tone was cheeky as he joked, “Hence the expensive apology.”

“Ha ha,” the Colonel snarked. “You two have your orders. Now get out of my house.”

The younger brothers nodded, each of them coming to exchange a hard, bruising hug with the family’s leader. Will knew better than anyone how perceptive each of them was - he may not want them to know how close he was to his breaking point, but what he wanted was typically worth horseshit around this crowd.

Once they were gone, Doyle folded his arms over his chest. It had not escaped his notice that Will hadn’t chased him out at the same time as the younger Grimms. “So what do you need from me?”

“For starters, I need you with me so that I don’t strangle Hadley before I fire her.”

“Fire her?” he echoed with ill-concealed surprise.

“Remind me later, and I’ll tell you all about it.” Shoving his hands back through his hair, he continued, “Secondly, I could really use a sparring partner right now, or I’m going to have cracked completely by the time Marishka comes back with our sons.”

The brothers watched each other for a long moment, before Doyle nodded once in silent agreement. “If you need someone at your side, Will, I’m your man. You wanna have her come here or do you want to do this at S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

“I’d like to here, but at this point, she’s probably still at her desk.”

“Then I’ll call her and have her come here,” Doyle promised. “You shouldn’t be driving, Will; you look about as relaxed as a sprung spring.”

“Once Samonik is safe and home, I’ll settle out again,” Will promised, looking ashamed of his erratic behaviour.

Doyle’s hand was warm and familiar as he reached to clasp his brother’s shoulder. “Will . . . if this was Bellamy or any of my kids, I would be feeling the exact same way you are right now. No one is expecting you to just ‘settle out’ or to react to this calmly. Okay?” Those khaki green eyes were warm and sober as they watched the younger brother. “Frankly, it’s nice to see that you’re human from time to time.”

Will snorted with a roll of his eyes, feeling a lump growing in the back of his throat. Doyle continued seriously, “We’ll take up the slack - the kid is going to need his parents once he’s back home. Let us handle everything else. You just focus on being there for him.”

“We’re not his parents,” Will reminded the elder brother in a whisper.

“Like hell you’re not,” Doyle snapped back. “I don’t see Winchester anywhere, rushing off to rescue his son and smashing things because he’s terrified for that same son’s life. You’re the kid’s father . . . and when this is all over, he may not call you ‘Dad’ but he’ll know that you’re the one who was here for him, not the one who actually has the title.”

Muted joy at the thought filled Will from the top of his head to the tip of his toes, leaving him just that little bit calmer than he had been a moment before. His chin dipped in a small nod, accepting the reassurance in the spirit it was meant . . . with relief and pride. “Thank you, Doyle.”

The tactical specialist grinned, expression turning playful as he teased, “Eh, what else are big brothers for, right?”

Chuckling at having his own phrase turned back on him, Will shrugged, “Right - very funny.”

“You know, Scar tells me everyday I’m hilarious.” Doyle’s eyes warmed as he winked along with the growing grin. “I’m not always sure she means it as a compliment.”

Bursting into laughter at the joke, a small part of Will felt guilty for feeling lighter and calmer when Samonik was still in danger. Still, the younger man allowed the older brother’s patented teasing to cleanse away the stress that was dragging him over, and moving back onto an even keel. “Trust me, man,” Will teased somberly, “that’s not a compliment.”

“Ah hell, that means I’m gonna have to buy her flowers.”

“It’s going to take more than flowers to get a compliment from Scar, big brother. You know that.”

“Well look at you, bein’ a little shit,” Doyle laughed, relief scrawled over his face, the expression earning a small smile from Will. After a moment, he sobered once more and reached out to clasp Will’s shoulder firmly. “We’re going to be fine. Samonik is going to be just fine. You KNOW that.”

“Yeah . . . I know.” Here Will paused, a real smile on his face as he looked at his brother and promised, “He’s got an amazing family. How could he not be?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 286: Reality Bites

International terrorists, hijackers, murderous cults and criminals of every sort - Joe Hardy could name any number of insane situations he and his brother had faced since they were teenagers. He still didn't think that list could even come close to the crazy world of the Grimms, though.

Seven brothers wearing near identical faces, each with their own unique personalities and quirks. Not to mention their father (who carried a big damn shotgun) and their aunt (who busted at least as many heads as her Star-Spangled boyfriend).

A legendary assassin, who had been little more than a ghost, before his daughter pulled him from the cold. As for the daughter herself, she'd been raised by the assassin and the KGB to be a top-rate killer . . . who also managed to be one of the most maternal women Joe had ever known.

Witch hunters. Super soldiers. A hyper-elite brain trust called "The Nerds", a brain trust that included his older brother as a valued – and particularly favored - member.

Currently, Joe's entire world was a conglomeration of a million different fantasies - fantasies the younger Hardy hadn't even believed in prior to recruitment. Now those same fantasies were all too real.

Gifting the Scary Boss Lady a small smile, he nodded in response to the significant look she aimed between him and her son. The woman smiled tightly and pressed a brief kiss to his hair before bolting from the Quinjet's briefing area. As for the older of her Winchesters, Dean didn't even seem to have noticed that she'd fled.

A state of being Joe more than understood.

The older agent leaned into the back of the couch, watching the kid fret over his missing younger brother. The Hardy brother could relate; there had been more than a few times in their sordid, detective history where one or the other - sometimes both - of the brothers had gotten themselves into a situation it hadn't looked like they were going to get out of again.

It was hard to know you best friend was in trouble, as well as to know that there was nothing you could really do except wait.

Wait for the avalanche to stop, so you could hopefully find your buried brother in the snow.

Wait for your brother to disarm the bomb so it didn't kill everyone you cared about.

Wait for the storm to end, so as to rescue both Frank and their Girl Friday from the cave-in that trapped them in their suspect's cabin. (A cave-in that had prompted something between Frank and Nan, something that neither of them would confess to even years later. The not knowing nagged at Joe and one day, he was determined to wheedle the details out of at least one of them.)

It was especially hard when your best friend was also the one person you had always expected to be around for the rest of your life . . . living in your back pocket, always at your six, and consistently on your left. From all he could see, there was equally co-dependent relationship between the two Winchester brothers. And just like Frank would be blaming himself if something had happened to Joe, Dean was eyebrows deep in his own blame game for not protecting his little brother.

This is what Joe liked to call "Big Brother Syndrome". Fortunately, Joe was long practiced in distracting big brothers from the depth of this phenomenon.

It had been years since Joe last got a full dose of it from Frank, but the agent recognized the signs and symptoms easily enough. Time to get the kid out of his own head, before he did something he couldn't take back. Or spontaneously combusted - both were likely.

"So, how much younger is he?"

The younger man stumbled to a stop, clearly surprised over being addressed. "Wait . . . are you talking to me?"

"Yeah?" he drawled with a small smirk. "You have all the classic signs of 'Overprotective Big Brother' going on right now."

"That obvious?" he asked, emerald eyes shadowed by both the gloom and his own worry.

"A little bit, yeah," Joe agreed. "My brother, Frank? He has utilized that look a time or two, though - I know it well."

Dean Winchester looked wrecked, the kind of frenetic which could get an agent killed on mission. And yeah, he didn't have the job but this was a mission, personal or otherwise. Joe was assigned by the Scary Boss Man to protect the Scary Boss Lady AND their sons. Best way to do that was to cool the kid's jets and get him focused on a singular goal.

Not rescuing his brother or even finding his brother. That was the secondary goal. The primary goal was keeping himself safe or he would be completely useless to the younger Winchester when the time came.

"So I'm only a year younger than Frank," Joe explained with a wry grin, "but everyone knows that I'm the 'act first, think later' brother. It's his job to use that big brain of his to keep me outta trouble." A wicked quirk gripped the corner of his smirk as he continued, "Bless him, but he does try. It just - by the time he's finished using that big brain, I'm already halfway through whatever stupid idea I probably shouldn't have done in the first place."

Dean smile was small and worried as he replied, "Sounds familiar. Sam's the smart one though; the thinker."

"Yeah," Joe agreed with a twist of his mouth. "That I'd already figured out for myself."

"Suddenly I understand how Sammy feels," Dean scoffed with a roll of his eyes.

"What? Frustrated by our lack of basic intelligence? I get that from Frank all the time," the younger Hardy replied with a cheeky grin.

A soft snort slipped free as Dean sunk into a chair, his face in his hands as he grunted, "I'm worried about my brother. What if . . ."

"Hey!" the agent barked, anxious to cut off that train of thought before it left the station. "You don't want to think that way. That rabbit hole never ends."

"So what?" the cadet asked with a fierce frown and anger building in his eyes. "I just ignore the reality of the situation."

"Reality never starts with 'what if'," the agent recited. "That was the first thing Crazy Boss ever taught us in our training classes. Fear starts with 'what if'. Uncertainty starts with 'what if'. 'What if' is the fastest way for an agent to get himself killed."

His head jerked in the direction of the door Marina had disappeared through ten minutes prior. "Fear and uncertainty are also two of the last things that should be on your mind right now."

"How do you figure?" the younger man asked, with a single cocked eyebrow. There was visible skepticism in his features, as well as an almost desperate hope shining in those eyes.

Joe could feel his eyebrows climb towards his hairline as he threw a hand back towards the door. "Do you not realize the ace in the hole you have? Marina Petrovka is the damned VIPER, an assassin with a reputation for protecting her loved ones. That reputation is bloody as fuck, steeped in lethal efficiency and hardened by ruthless vengeance. You ever hear about her little soiree in Latveria last year?"

He paused, waiting for a small nod of acknowledgement from the cadet, just to be sure the Winchester knew what he was talking about. Once Dean's chin dipped with eyes narrowing in curiosity, he continued, "Let's just say, the rumors of her awesome have become even more awesome. And that particular rescue mission was for Ward and Crazy Boss."

Dean's eyebrows furrowed in clear puzzlement as he protested, "Grant is . . ."

"The Scary Boss Lady's Misfit?" the blond interrupted with a smirk. "Yeah, I know . . . everybody knows. Which proves my point - your brother isn't just her Misfit. He's her son; anything she did in Latveria is going to look like child's play by the time this is over."

Pushing himself to his feet, the Hardy brother laid a hand on the younger man's shoulder familiarly. "Your mom is gonna burn down the world to get your brother back."

"She's not my mom," was the only response the kid could come up with, Dean all but twirling in place to confront of the other man about the declaration.

Joe's smirk softened into an amused smiled as he paused in the doorframe. Blue eyes met green, the two staring each other down for a long moment. Eventually, Dean looked away, unable to meet those knowing eyes any longer. The older man’s tone was careful and respectful as he finally offered the only reply to the kid's statement that he could.

"Are you sure about that kid? Because, if so . . . you may wanna take a good look around you and ask yourself why you think so."

His knuckles rapped carefully against the steel door frame, insisting, "Gear up, kid. The landing lights just came on." His smile was sharp edged as he announced, "We're here."

With those final words, he left the space, leaving the kid behind to think about what he'd said. The eldest Winchester was clearly intelligent - a full ride to MIT on a GED was evidence enough of that - but Joe had a feeling it would take the cadet a little bit to come to terms with his place in the family he'd become a part of. When it came to the Scary Boss Lady's kids, though, they always seemed to figure it out sooner or later.

Yanking open his gear bag, Joe got kitted up in record time. Black tactical gear and an assortment of weapons scattered throughout the uniform - there were times he still wondered at the new world he had become a part of since leaving his teenage years before him. He joined the Marines at 18, while Frank had gone to Boston University to study a veritable litany of computer sciences.

This - the rush, the adrenaline, the batshit crazy - suited him much better than a desk or even a badge.

Ready to go, he bolted for the loading bay at the back of 'Jet. Marina Petrovka stood alone in the cavernous space, bare arms folded over her chest as she watched the ramp lower to the ground at the back of the plane. "What do you hear, goryachaya golovka?" the Russian asked, her tone cold and hard as she continued to glare out at their surroundings.

Not that there was much to see - it wasn't winter anymore, but apparently this far north, spring was running a little behind schedule.

Joe smiled at the well-deserved nickname, hooking his thumbs into his holsters as he replied, "Sounds like a hell of a party."

Even with her features in profile, the Hardy brother could see the wicked tilt that formed in the visible corner of her mouth. "Indeed it does. Let's make sure to bring the fire and brimstone - we wouldn't want to offend our hosts," she replied.

"I got the party favors right here," he agreed, patting the butts of his Magnums. "So let's blow this popsicle stand."

Chapter Text

Chapter 287: Love Them Hard

Brian Joshua Grimm was not a patient man. He never had been and more than likely never would be. So when he had to wait for his protégé to come to him, it was almost the worst experience of his life.

Almost . . . a very distant third, at best. Maybe.

The second eldest Grimm hated knowing there was nothing he could do to help calm his nephew, if the kid wouldn't let him help. So he paced, like an avenging dragon hell bent on destruction, while his woman looked on. As for his beloved Natasha - as fiery as her hair and twice as wild - she laughed at him as he stalked to and fro. "I just don't get it, Tasha . . . why won't he come talk to me? He knows he can, right?"

"Of course he does, Bri. You're his favorite uncle; he knows you're here because he needs you. He's not stupid."

"So is he angry with me or something?" he muttered plaintively, before rolling his eyes in frustration with himself. Ugh, chick flick moment - bleugh!

Natasha looked equal parts amused and concerned as she relaxed back against the armrest of her chair. "Brian, why don't you just go to him?"

"Because I know better," he replied with a miserable frown. "Going directly at Dean, is the quickest way to get to the kid to completely turtle."

She frowned at the explanation. "Oh."

The undercover agent grunted his agreement to the reaction, one hand pushing back through his hair while the other found its way into his pocket. Unfortunately, he knew better than to confront Dean in any way head on. The downside to that knowledge was that the direct approach was the only way Brian knew of to resolve any problem.

Attacking head on was most effective with his baby brothers, when the Terrible Twos were eyeballs deep in yet another prank war (one that would inevitably involve the entire family). It worked with the family's eldest Sam, who appreciated the straight talk, and with Rene, whose suspicious nature responded well to complete transparency.

Of course, it didn't always work out quite the way he wanted it to. With Marina, he made a habit of trying not to practically assault her, which usually led to her laughing at him when he tried to sneak anything past her. There was also the fact that the direct approach only worked on his elder brother when Will was drowning in "Perfect Soldier" mode. Otherwise it made the Colonel either clam up or lose his infamous temper.

A frustrating similarity his brother shared with his eldest foster son. Coming at Dean would result in the kid clamming up like an oyster around a pearl. The reaction would inevitably result in the teenager shoving away the very help he needed. It was a damned catch-22, and Brian's patience was running thin.

"Brian," Natasha murmured, her stoic features glaringly at odds with the fondness sparking from her emerald eyes, "have I mentioned lately how much I love your devotion to those you love?"

Guilt stabbed, harsh and deep, as he snapped, "I bailed on them once, Tash - I'll never fail them again."

"That was a whole other life, Bri, and your family forgave you for it years ago," she reminded him, her fingers warm and familiar in his hair as he flopped onto the floor at her feet. "Just talk to Dean."

"How?" he demanded lightly. "How do I do that? If I tried, he'd run. He always runs from the hard stuff - from the feelings he doesn't know how to process or doesn't understand and from the words he's afraid to say. I don't know how to reach him, not about this."

"He is his father's son," she agreed with a soft chuckle.

The reminder was like a match to gasoline, fury blazing through the agent like wildfire. "I don't even have words for how much I hate that man!" Brian growled, mahogany eyes turning as murky as swamp water. "John is such a . . ."

She interrupted the impending rant easily, tone firm as she insisted, “I wasn’t talking about John.”

Brian blinked at the statement, craning his neck around to stare at her in muted shock. There was adoration in the small curl of her mouth, her palm cool and tender on the joint of his jaw, as she guided him around to lock eyes with her. "Nat . . . are you talking about Will?!"

One elegant eyebrow rose as she teased, "Unless you're looking to be his father now?"

"Hell no! Favorite uncle - that's me! Means I can spoil the kid rotten, then ship him home to Will and Marina," he protested, even as he cringed. There was a part of him that yearned for the emotional stability to be a good father . . . even just to be an okay father, if that was all he could actually manage.

The Black Widow's fingers smoothed through dark blond hair, letting him gather his thoughts under his own control. Both members of the couple had their hang ups about parenthood, as well as an undeniable longing for the chance. Neither was entirely sure it was ever going to be in the cards for them, even as they refused to give up hope.

After a long moment, the Grimm frowned as he dropped his forehead to rest on his girlfriend's knee. "He's nothing like Will though. Will has never run from the hard job - hell, he's usually the first one running at it!"

"And while that's true, your brother has an intensely difficult time asking for help, whether that's from you or Marina or your dad. Not to mention, he refuses to let himself be vulnerable around you or your brothers, because he's terrified he's going to disappoint you."

He glanced at her sharply, earning a smirk as she reminded him, "My sister is your brother's partner, lover, soulmate . . . whatever the fuck they are. She betrays very few of your brother's secrets, but my sisters and I are very adept at extrapolating from what little she does say."

Brian rolled his eyes, prompting Natasha to narrow her eyes at him and continue her argument. "Furthermore! 'He always runs from the hard stuff - from the feelings he doesn't know how to process or doesn't understand and from the words he's afraid to say'." One eyebrow rose as she inquired, "Now, who does that sound like?"

The agent made a face at being quoted verbatim, muttering under his breath in unflattering Russian. Natasha giggled, earning a brilliant smile from her lover at the sound - his partner rarely giggled and Brian thrilled to hear it every time he managed to coax the sound free. After a moment, he huffed in exaggerated frustration, “So, we’re blaming Will for Dean’s squirrelishness then?”

“No more than we’re blaming you, handsome,” she laughed, her nose wrinkling a little as he stared at her in perplexed horror.

“Me!? Why the hell are we blaming me?”

“Stubborn. Devoted. Hard-headed to a fault. With a soft - virulently denied - underbelly when it comes to allegedly ‘annoying little brothers’,” she recited, smile widening with each grunt of reluctant agreement he released. “Not to mention, you both share the same aversion to quote, ‘chick flick moments’.”

“Hey!” he protested with indignantly, “I ‘chick flick’ with you all the time!”

“No, you ‘porn’ with me all the time,” she purred lustfully, her eyes sparkling as they scanned him from head to toes. “No complaints here, of course, but - Bri, you two are so alike, it’s scary. And he needs to know that you care enough to be there for him, even when everything in his head is telling him he doesn’t want you there.”

Brian frowned, tone hesitant as he asked, “So, basically come at him as though he’s me.”

“Except less ‘bull in a china hutch’ and more ‘Marina is worried about you’. Considering historical data, it’ll be more effective,” she teased.

The agent could feel his mouth twist with uncertainty at the clarification. “You’d think I wasn’t raised by the woman, considering I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Natasha rolled her eyes heavenward as she sighed, “Of course you don’t. My sister is a saint - dealing with you is cruel if you’re not getting anything out of it.”

“Ha ha,” he snarked, with a roll of his eyes as she chuckled softly. “And what exactly do you get out of it then?”

Her eyes were serious over her smile as she cupped his cheeks and pulled him to her, indulging them both in a heady, lengthy kiss. “I get you, which is more than I ever knew I wanted to begin with. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.”

He laughed, overtaken by a rare sentimental moment as he brushed the tip of his nose along her cheek. “I’m pretty sure I got the better end of that deal, Vdova.”

She kissed him once more then flowed to her feet. “That’s what you think, Skopa. You should hurry - the engines are winding down. I think we’re here.”

Cussing under his breath, he heaved to his feet with a sassy grin. “Working on borrowed time? I can work with that - sounds like every mission we’ve ever been on.”

“Not for a lack of your brother trying,” she agreed with a roll of her eyes. “Go; I’m going to find Marina.”

He pressed a haphazard kiss to her cheek, then dashed away. Brian found the kid arming up, a focused frown on his face as Dean glowered at the gear he’d brought. Brian scrubbed on hand over his face as he tried to figure out how to start the conversation, before finally giving it up for a bad job. “Fuck it,” he muttered, before strolling into the room as easy as you please. “Hey kid.”

Dean froze at the words, shoulders hauled up around his ears as his instincts drove him to try and protect himself. Brian could understand the reaction, even as pain stabbed through his heart like a hot knife through butter. “Just me, De. It’s okay,” the agent promised, shoving his hands in his pockets and leaning against the doorframe so as not to crowd the teenager.

There was a sheepish look on the younger man’s face as he visibly relaxed, shoulders dropping and he turned to face his uncle. “Sorry; I’m just . . . my gut’s all in knots.”

“Understandable. I’ve been there a time or two,” he reminded Dean, mahogany eyes searching through emerald green ones. “I know you’re worried about Samonik, but other than that? How are you doing? You ready for this? It’s gonna be ‘go go go’ in a bit - there won’t be any real time to process once things get rolling.”

“I think so?” he hedged, taking a deep breath in to steady his nerves even as he sagged against the armrest of the chair behind him. One hand waved towards the door opposite Brian as he continued, “Joe just left. He said some things . . . things I hadn’t considered. I guess I’m just trying to absorb it all.”

Jealousy bit deep even as Brian shrugged the sensation away. At least his protege had talked to someone, instead of festering alone in the turmoil of his thoughts. Forcing himself to calm, he asked, “Like what?”

There was a moment where Dean just watched the older man, before he released a heavy breath and confessed, “Joe called Marina my mom. Said, ‘your mom is going to burn the world to get your brother back’.”

Brian blinked in surprise. On the one hand, it was a sentiment he agreed with, but on the other, he knew how protective the teenager was of Mary Winchester’s memory. His chin bobbed once in mute understanding, before asking, “And how did you react to that?”

“Told him she wasn’t my mom, and he asked me if I was sure.” Dean’s face turned down to watch his hands as they moved to disengage a clip from his gun, check it then slot it home once again. Hands flashed as the kid chambered a round then shoved it back into the holster at his thigh.

When he finally looked up at his uncle, Brian was alarmed to see the tears in the cadet’s eyes as he asked, “Is it wrong, that I’m not sure? Does it mean that I don’t love my mom anymore, if I find myself calling Marina ‘Mom’ in my head sometimes? Am I a bad son?”

“Of course not!” Brian protested firmly. Swarming into the room, he threw his arms around his nephew’s shoulders and pulled him in tightly for a hug. “De, no one ever said you couldn’t have more than one mother. I know I never met your mother, but I don’t believe the Mary Winchester you talk about could be jealous of any feelings you have for another set of parents. I’m sure she’s looking down on you, relieved to know that you have people who love you and who take care of you when you need someone in your corner - that you’re not growing up in motel rooms and you have a future that’s not built around revenge.”

“Dad would be pissed.”

“John Winchester can take a long walk off a short pier. And I can tell him so, if you’d like me to.”

Dean’s shoulders jerked with an aborted laugh even as he shook his head. “Thank you though.”

“You’re my favorite nephew, kid. I’m always gonna be here to punch that idiot for you, if you need me to.” Squeezing the cadet for another second, Brian released him and grinned. “All right - let’s go get Samonik back, yeah?”

“Hell yeah,” Dean agreed, emerald eyes glowing with warmth.

“Good kid. Come on - I’m sure they’re wondering what the hell is keeping us.”

“You think so?” Dean asked, looking surprised by the statement.

“Marina’s a mom, kid. Trust me; she’s always wondering about what her boys are doing. Adopted, Misfit, foster or Grimm - how they came to her doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they’re hers, and that they’re safe.”

“That’s kinda cool,” Dean hedged, looking shy about the fact that his grin was splitting his face in two

“Damn right it’s cool,” Brian agreed exuberantly, eyes wide and sparkling with mayhem. “Now come on - we have a little hell to raise.”

Chapter Text


Chapter 288: The Calm Before

Dean felt a little guilty for doubting his foster mother's persistent protectiveness, following his entrance into the cargo bay behind Brian. At the sight of him, Marina's face had smoothed with evident relief, her eyes warm and worried over the small smile she aimed at them. "Everything okay?" she inquired, those eyes watching the two men take up the empty spaces in the half-circle before her.

The teenager glanced over at Vincent with a weak smile, as the medic laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and squeezed. Joe was watching from the other side of Natasha, who had taken her usual place beside Brian. The six of them were the best hope his little brother had for a rescue, and Dean felt his heart swell into his throat with relief.

He nodded sharply along with Brian's own insistence, "As good as it's going to get for the moment."

The handler pinned Dean in place with those eyes, every emotion she was feeling easily seen as they scrolled through her. He smiled at her, relieved to see that she was looking for his own input into the situation. His jaw tightened against his fear, worry, relief and affection as he nodded sharply in silent agreement. Her chin dipped in reply, before she turned her eyes across the collection of assets before her. "All right then. With caution in mind, we are currently ten miles from the Benning Manse. Joe will be driving us to the location - once we have arrived, the last thing I want is for anyone to go rogue. We need tactical recon, so we can evaluate the situation in real-time."

Her jaw hardened as she insisted, "We will be performing a clean, coordinated strike, because we are not a ragtag band of vigilantes, we are careful and exacting government agents . . . HARDY!"

The cadet couldn't completely stifle his snicker, when Marina turned an arch glare in the direction of Joe Hardy. Whatever had prompted the look, the agent didn't even both to feign guilt or remorse. Instead he flashed Dean's foster mother a naughty grin, his eyes flashing with wicked amusement. "What did I do to deserve being called out like that, Scary Boss Lady?" he all but cackled.

Brian snorted at the seemingly innocent question, earning a spike in Dean's curiosity even as Marina scolded firmly, "We are not rushing in guns blazing, Joseph!"

"That happened one time!" he protested through laughter.

"And that 'one time' was so messed up insane, my smut/yan made a point to tell me about it," she reminded him, one eyebrow cocked upwards at the ludicrousness of his deflection.

The teenager chuckled at the exaggerated "Who me?" look that tripped across Hardy's face. Even Brian sniggered at the younger man, at least until Marina's tone turned saccharine sweet as she continued, "Joe, if the craziest of my boys is insistent in telling me about the 'Charge of the Light Brigade', batshit crazy thing you did? It was chertov insane."

"Well,” the young man chuckled, his eyes sparkling with mischievous amusement, "no argument there at least."

"Oh good!" she snarked with a roll of her eyes as her hands flew into the air in frustration. "I'm so glad we're all on the same page considering the insanity that was the Kostadin mission. There will be none of that crazy here."

"Yes ma'am," he agreed, gifting her with a cheeky wink that was at direct odds with the sincere smile on his lips and the solemn nod he gave her.

Huffing out in mild frustration, the Russian whirled on her heel to glare at Brian. "He's your agent, dikiy rebenok - I'm blaming you."

Natasha laughed outright at the statement, earning an aggrieved glare from her partner. The red-haired agent didn't even flinch, simply gifted him with a taunting smirk as she teased, "Love you, Bri."

Rolling his eyes at her, the undercover agent protested, "I have it on good authority that Joe Hardy was crazy long before I was ever in the picture, Marishka - just ask his brother. As a result, I cannot take all of the credit for his crazy."

"But you can take some credit," Marina chirped with a tight smile and a pair of bright eyes. As for Joe, the agent looked torn between laughter and offense as the Russian continued, "Ergo, he's your problem."

The younger Hardy smirked wryly as he joked, "Feeling the love here, Scary Boss Lady."

"Of course you are," she shot back, "because if we didn't like you, we wouldn't give you shit about your crazy."

The agent beamed at the reminder, before bounding off to help finish packing up the Jeep with Vincent. The medic had come prepared for Sammy to be in any kind of condition, which was both comforting and terrifying. With any luck, there would be no need for half of the equipment the doctor brought along. Amused by the fond interplay between his companions, Dean's lips twitched even as guilt swelled through his gut. While the familiar banter helped soothe his nerves, it still felt wrong to find comfort in the familiarity when Sammy was still in danger.

The older Winchester brother had been around long enough to experience the family's typical gallows humor in response to high stress situations. He used to employ the same tactic with Sammy when they were kids, and their father was home later than they'd expected. Laughter and jokes can diffuse a multitude of tense situations, as well as assist in focusing people before action needed to be taken.

He'd watched the way banter, pranks and teasing helped to focus the Grimms, steadying them for the sometimes gruesome work ahead. Dean remembered the almost gleeful teasing prior to the Blood Moon a little less than a year ago, as well as the cold ruthlessness with which they'd executed the coven who had kidnapped the children - and him. That mission had ended in a bloody massacre that they had handled as effortlessly as other, more seasoned hunters. Why and how the ploy triggered the switch to their more vicious natures, Dean didn't know. He would probably never truly understand the mechanics of the behavior, but he trusted in its effectiveness nonetheless.

The cadet was startled out of his thoughts with a blink as a warm, familiar hand curved around his jaw, pulling him back to the present from his musings. He smiled down at the petite Russian, trying to ease the worry he could see in those dark eyes. "I'm okay, Marishka Mama."

"Are you?" she asked, tone calm if a little challenging as she watched him closely. "I doubt it, to be honest. And it's okay if you're not, shchenok."

Dean bit down on his lower lip at the knowledge that she didn't expect him to be okay, and was there for him if he was freaking out. Not that he'd ever admit to freaking out - he was a Winchester and Winchesters did not freak out. Still, he couldn't help the plaintive question as he asked, "Do you think he's okay?"

Her mouth twisted at the question, pain flashing across her features like a wave over sand. "Oh honey," she breathed, voice cracking on the tears starting to build in the corners of her eyes, "no . . . he's not okay. As much as I wish he was."

The teenager's heart sank at the truthful response, already dreading the completion of her thought. Her hesitant "But . . ." earned a sharp flinch from the teen, as though the physical reaction would keep the knowledge at arm's length.

Her hand tightening against the skin of his cheek pulled his attention back to her and he blinked at the sight that greeted him. There was resolute determination in her eyes as she insisted, "Dean, as bad as it is, Samonik is not dead. He's going to be all right in the long run."

"How do you know that?"

"Because he has you," she replied calmly, a proud smile lurking in the corner of her mouth. "He has Misha and me . . . Rene and Sammichka and your sisters . . . Inari and Dacia too."

The cadet moved to protest or question the assertion . . . he wasn't entirely sure what he meant to say, but she cut him off before the thought could completely materialize. "It won't be easy; his physical condition and the severity of any injury will of course determine the length of his physical recovery. An uptick in his nightmares, as well as a tendency towards paranoia and hyper-alertness are very likely as well." There was sadness in her smile as she explained, "It's not going to be a quick process. It's impossible for even an agent to just bounce back from this kind of scenario and immediately 'be okay', let alone for a teenager."

"But," he hedged, knowing that she wasn't done yet, even though dread was building in his gut.

Her smile brightened as she agreed, "But . . . your brother is strong and stubborn and resilient as hell. No matter how long it takes, he will be okay. I promise - we'll all be right there with him to make sure of it."

He stared at her, overwhelmed with affection for this tiny woman with a heart twice the size of her body. Throwing his arms around her, he bent to bury his face against her neck and insisted, "Thank you, Marina."

"For what, shchenok?" she asked, clearly startled by the effusive behavior.

"For being here; for giving a damn about Sammy. He deserves to have someone who does."

Her mouth quirked as she huffed in disgruntled agreement, insisting, "You both do, honey."

Her lips pressed against his cheek in a tender moment of affection, before she backstepped so as not to crowd him per his usual reactions to affection. "I'm always going to be here for you boys - always. Okay? Family first, last and always."

"I know," he promised, closing his eyes against the unfamiliar emotions swelling his throat closed. "So do we know anything about who is where in the Manse?"

She nodded briskly, her tone sharp and professional as she reverted to work mode. "Complete debrief is in the Jeep as we go; and we're going as soon as we finish loading up. Like I said earlier, I didn't want to tip our hand to Merrick, so we're about ten miles from the house. He sees us coming? He could do something drastic that we can't take back."

"Good call," he agreed, torn between frustration that it would be another twenty minutes before they arrived and fear that Merrick had already killed his little brother. He glanced down at her, and noticed the guilt in her features as she watched him process that information. "Hey, it's okay - I get it. I don't want anything to happen to Sam either, so I'm grateful for the thought, really. I just . . . Merrick's already had him for so long."

"I know," she promised, with a quiet devastation in her tone. "The last thing I want, though, is unnecessary injury to Samonik or to ourselves. It sucks to have a wait a little bit longer, but better to be cautious and he's alive than reckless and he's dead." She grimaced looking sick to her stomach as she continued, "Gunshot wounds and torture can be fixed but death is permanent."

Dean shivered, unable to fault her logic. Bending to press a quick kiss to her cheek, he insisted, "I'll help load up," then turned and stormed away.

It was a chaotic rush from that point. Dean gave as much attention as he could to the debrief once they were on their way, but even he acknowledged that was even less than the bare minimum of what he could spare. All of his concern was for Sammy . . . and whatever state they would find him in.

He vaguely noticed the Devil's Trap in front of the door on the porch, and the other demonic booby traps littered across the front of the house. He did notice the rusty shmear against the doorframe - and completely lost it.

Kicking open the door with an impassioned roar was definitely stupid - and considering the disappointed look on Marina's face, he was going to be hearing about it later - however he felt only a little guilt for the rash action. Finding the basement door was as simple as following the blood droplets splattering the old wood floors.

Locked . . . from the inside.

Rage swelled, along with fear at the realization that Sam was beyond the door. . . and Carl fucking Merrick was with him. Howling, he rammed against the door with a shoulder, grimacing as the elderly panel splintered from the blow, imbedding themselves into his jacket and his exposed skin. Dean stepped back and slammed his boot into the door, the hinges and lock giving way, before the panel clattered down the stairs and out of his way. He scrambled down after it, bellowing, “Sammy!”

"Here!" came the return call only moments later.

The voice was wrecked, a sob and scream and gasp all twisted up together in the beloved voice. Dean wasn't sure how he managed it, but in the next second he was on his knees next to his baby brother. Sam looked like shit, bloody and beaten and tired, but there was relief in his eyes as he breathed, "Dean!"

"I got you, little brother," Dean choked out, the promise firm even as his fingers were careful as they gripped his brother's shoulder. "It's okay . . . everything's gonna be okay."

Sam's eyes went wide with terror a moment later, staring at something over Dean's shoulder. Before the older brother could react, the sharp report of a gun snapped through the concrete room. Merrick fell choking, as a dark, furious voice stabbed through the dark, "Get the hell away from my sons!"

The bullet had ripped a gash through the hunter's larynx and he gasped for air not even an arm's length away. As for Sam, the younger teenager sobbed in visible relief, every part of him yearning for the Russian woman. Dean's teasing was wobbly but effective in settling him back again as he joked, "You really thought I was coming alone? Marishka Mama was nearly dragging me out the door, not the other way around."

The cadet twisted over his shoulder to look up at the woman as she moved alongside the two brothers. Dean had heard Joe's insistence that Marina would burn the world, but had never seen her in a full-on rage.

She was magnificent, terrifying and awesome all in the same moment. Suddenly, the teenager understood why people stepped lightly and tried to avoid pushing her temper into a display of "Gadyuka". One hand lifted, a shiny black pistol in hand as she brought it to bear on the Hunter's head. The woman had never sounded more like the animal from which she'd earned her callsign, as she hissed, “Tell all your friends in hell to stay the fuck away from my kids.”

Dean watched as Sam flinched with a small grimaced, as three sharp sounds cracked through the small room. Intense satisfaction rushed through the older brother as Merrick went completely limp. Sam sagged with relief, which incidentally mirrored the loosening of Marina's own shoulders. The Russian stowed the gun then turned her attention onto the two brothers. Her eyes went huge at her first complete view of Dean's little brother, her tone soft and terrified as she breathed, “Samonik . . .”

Dean tried not to feel jealous when his little brother reached out to Marina with a quiet whimper, his eyes wide and scared. As for the Russian herself, she was on her knees next to Dean in an instant, one hand grasping Sam's while the other folded over his forehead. She was humming quietly under her breath, something soft and soothing. Sam's eyes fluttered, turning into her palm in an almost unconscious need for comfort.

"He's burning up," she murmured, before turning to her eldest foster son with a firm command, "Dean, go get Vincent."

He nodded; as much as he wanted to stay with his little brother, Vincent was the best hope Sammy had for the moment. Shoving to his feet, he hauled ass for the stairs, already shouting the medic's name. Two and three at a time, he didn't even have time to stop before he crashed into the man at the top of the stairs.

Vincent's smile was tight and understanding as he grabbed the younger man by the shoulders and steadied him on his feet. "Hey kid, you found him?"

"He's downstairs," he agreed, side-stepping to clear the way for the man.

"Go find Joe - help him get my gear out of the Jeep."

Dean hesitated, terrified by the idea of not returning immediately to his brother. The former soldier seemed to understand the fear and reached to place both hands on the teenager's shoulders. "Dean, I know you're scared - I get it. But the best help you can be to your brother right now, is to get the equipment I need to help him. Okay?"

He took a deep breath through his nose before nodding, "Okay. Thanks."

"You're welcome . . . go!"

Turning on the heel of his foot, Dean bolted. The sooner he did what needed to be done, the sooner he would be back at his brother's side.

Chapter Text

Chapter 289: Demons of the Past

Although the origin of the rule escaped Marina, somehow an unspoken doctrine developed in the family – Will Grimm and Marina Petrovka did not talk about Peru. Not matter what others rules might be implemented – or forgotten – this one remained as firm as adamantium.

Which isn’t to say that anyone else abided by the same rule.

Older agents whispered about the mission, giving it the air of a ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ type horror story when terrifying their baby agent trainees. When the younger Grimms spoke of Peru, they used sparse, cryptic comments – always given in hushed tones tinged with awe as if it existed on the same level of existence as magic and unicorns. Colonel Grimm and Lieutenant Colonel Petrovka never spoke of it at all.

It was Peru…

They didn’t discuss Peru.

No one knew how a simple reconnaissance mission turned into such a total clusterfuck. The Army assigned them to observe a new drug running operation about a year before Nick Fury cornered Marina in a room and offered her a position with S.H.I.E.L.D. Sometimes she even wondered if that mission – and Misha’s recovery – had been the final piece of the puzzle that led the magnificent bastard to the Cahills.

Such an easy mission only required two of them, so Will and Marina chose to take the job themselves, leaving the three boys in Lima for some leave time while the two officers disappeared into the Peruvian Amazon. They expected to be back within seventy-two hours at most.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Isn’t that the way the saying goes?

Well organized, but ill-equipped for the Amazonian rainforest, the drug runners seemed too busy with rusting vehicles and equipment to pay much attention to the forest surrounding the small clearing they’d created, giving the couple ample cover. A small operation of maybe fifteen or so men worked to get their drugs off the ground and on the way to buyers in the north. Despite the small size, the Army restricted their operatives to observation only. Engagement was to be avoided except in the case of immediate and personal danger.

The couple fully intended to stick to their orders.

Sometimes Marina still dreamed of that assignment, flashes of gory, bloody horror streaking through her mind. To this day she didn’t know how the sentry found her over - Misha excelled at concealing himself in plain sight. Will didn’t remember either, and considering the amount of blood he lost, the doctors believed he’d never recover those memories. A small mercy to her mind as he already suffered from way too many nightmares.

Marina didn’t remember everything either except in those dreams of hers. What she did remember burned in her mind with fierce desperation: the sound of shouting, a mix of Spanish and English and even a scattering of Portuguese; the sight of her beloved on his knees in the dirt, hands clasped together at the back of his head as he glared at the man holding a gun on him; the smell of wet leaves and dirt at her back as she pulled her weapon from its holster; the feel of the guns in her hands as ice began to flood her veins; and the taste of blood in her mouth as she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from screaming as the thug fired three shots into his prisoner’s torso. The last thing she remembered was watching Misha crumple to the ground as his shooter strode away, bellowing orders. Everything became a blur after that.

Until she found herself on her knees beside her lover, working to stop him from bleeding out in front of her. She didn’t even realize she’d wiped out the entire operation until she looked up in search of her first aid kit and found the bodies littering the ground around her.

Not that she could bring herself to care.

At some point during her blacked out period, she must have sent out a call for help because her boys arrived not long after she’d come back to herself. Relief and terror mingled in their eyes as they hurried to her side, but of all of them, gentle Kenny was the first to give voice to the third emotion gripping them.

A very awed, very impressed – “Damn!”

While they always knew Will and Marina would do anything to keep them safe, this proved to be the first time they actually saw an important similarity between the two members of the family’s Power Couple. Both of them possessed a vicious, ruthless side – something capable of immense bloodshed and total devastation in order to complete a necessary task. They’d known about Will’s ‘Perfect Soldier’ side, but now they knew Marina could lose herself to the ‘Gadyuka’ when faced with those same circumstances.

Enemies of the Grimms could consider themselves lucky that only one side of the couple tended to lose it at a time – God help them if both of them cut loose.

Now, almost seventeen years later, Marina struggled to pull herself back from the edge of wrath. Peru might have been the first time she’d gone full rage blackout, but it hadn’t been the last – Latveria being the most recent incident. Peru’s legendary status aside, most of her family accepted the behavior when her Misfits were in danger. Accepted, hell – people expected the reaction!

Now, as the haze began to clear from her mind, she wanted to hide.

Rene, Samonik, and Dean had never seen that side of her; something she would have liked to maintain. She’d tried to remain calm – God knows she’d tried! But the sight of Carl Merrick advancing on her sons with a knife in hand snapped the frail threads of control she held over her temper. A vague image of Merrick’s death settled in her memory, though she recalled the recoil of the gun as she unloaded three bullets into his head better. What she said to him was anyone’s guess, but she figured it boiled down to some version of “Stay the fuck away from my kids!”

Holstering her weapon, she turned to seek out her sons and felt clarity hit her like a sledgehammer.

Samonik." His name came out in a whisper. For a brief instant, she wished she had taken the time to torture the hunter further. Maybe forced him to feel the same pain and terror he’d visited on her child.

Then he reached for her, a small whimper escaping him, and all that mattered was soothing his fear and pain. Dropping to her knees beside him, she enfolded his hand in one of hers while placing her other one over his forehead. The burn of fever against her palm alarmed her considering how little time he’d spent with Merrik. “He’s burning up,” she murmured, concern turning her tone sharp as she glanced at her elder son. “Dean, go find Vincent.”

Without hesitation, the older teenager bolted for the staircase, already shouting for the medic. Marina hummed in the back of her throat as she brushed her fingers through his hair. “You’re safe now, love,” she promised. “Close your eyes and you’ll be home soon.”

No doubt, not even a shadow of it, haunted her boy’s eyes as he offered a tremulous smile before giving himself up to unconsciousness with a murmured, “Love you, Mom.”

She bit down on her bottom lip as a sob tried to rip from her throat at the endearment. Her heart soared with happiness, but she could still feel the blood on her hands – metaphorical as it might be. Bending down, she pressed a tender kiss to his forehead. “I love you too, sweetheart.”

A tentative touch to her shoulder pulled her upwards, her dark eyes swimming with tears as she looked into the face of another of her Misfits. Vincent gave her a reassuring smile as he moved to kneel on the other side of the fifteen year old. “How’s he doing?” he asked, his tone absent and the question rhetorical as he touched the younger man’s face with gentle fingertips.

His sharp frown at Samonik’s temperature confirmed the Russian’s own fears and she turned to look for the knife Merrick had been holding when he fell. Marina’s nose crinkled with distaste at the congealing blood coating the rust blade. “I’m worried about infection,” she informed him as she ripped a length of her shirt free to wrap around the handle.

“Any particular reason?” Vincent asked, rolling the limp body away from him to check Samonik for further injuries. “Other than the sheer filthiness of this place?”

“Merrick was holding this when I shot him,” she explained. Moving back to his side, she showed him the dagger. “The blood’s still tacky.” Her lips trembled as her eyes focused on her son. “He’s used it - and recently.”

“Shit.” Vincent pulled a plastic bag out of his kit and held it open for the blade. “We’ll get it tested for any contaminants once we get back to base.” Putting the evidence bag to the side, he gestured with his head for her to join him. She slid into place beside him, her arms reaching out to accept her boy’s weight so the medic could begin to remove Samonik’s filthy shirt.

“Sammy…”

Marina looked over her shoulder, struggling to pull up a reassuring smile. It didn’t work, but she needed her older son to focus on her. “Dean.”

“Yeah?” Haunted eyes locked on hers, eyes begging for her to assure him it would be alright.

Taking a deep breath, she managed to turn the corners of her lips up. Not much of a smile, she knew, but she could see a tiny sliver of the darkness fade from his expression. “Where are the others?”

He blinked, surprise at the question seeming to shake him loose from the spiral of negative thoughts. “Ah . . .” One hand came up to rub his forehead. “Joe’s getting the full kit from the jeep,” he replied. “Brian and Natasha are clearing the house.” Fear and fury clashed in his gaze for a moment before he shook his head. “Brian said something about making sure no other hunter would find anything that might lead them to Sam.”

“Good.” Marina cradled the gangly frame to her, smoothing through the hair at his nape as she tucked his head below her chin. Bednaya malen'kaya lyubov," she murmured against his temple. Careful to avoid any of the open wounds littered across his body, she held him and continued to hum, trying to reach him and remind him he was safe.

Time passed in a strange manner, both too fast and not fast enough, when someone you love lies bleeding in your arms. Every heartbeat becomes both blessing and curse; the very muscle that keep them alive pumps blood the injured party couldn't afford to lose. The seconds ticked by with help seeming to take an eternity to arrive...and yet its arrival startled with the abruptness of its appearance. Case in point? Marina strained her ears, desperate to hear their backup coming, but she still fought off the jerk of surprise when it materialized.

Joe bolted down the stairs, Vincent’s gear in hand. He bit off a curse before jumping down the last few steps and striding over to the small knot of people. “What do you need?”

Vincent looked up from a gash in Samonik’s thigh. “You’re field trained, right?” he demanded.

“I’m not as practiced as your best friend, Doc, but yeah, I can manage,” Joe agreed, already stripping off his shirt and rolling up his henley.

“Good.” The medic pulled a bottle of alcohol out of his kit and tossed it to the younger agent. “Douse your hands and let’s get to work.”

“You got it.” Joe cleansed his hands and forearms as Vincent turned to face Marina. A glint of gold glimmered in his eyes, highlighting the wrath buried beneath his calm surface. “Marishka, can you hold him?”

“What?” She blinked at the question. “I am holding him.”

“No, Marina.” Her Roslyy looked distant and detached from the job - the picture of a focused physician - as he rested one hand on her knee. “Can you hold him?” He paused, his gaze becoming stern. “We’re going to hurt him.”

Horror shot through her and her hold tightened, earning a soft moan from her boy at the action. The choked sound behind her reminded the loving mother that she had two sons needing reassurance. Loosening her arms, she smoothed her fingertips over the back of Samonik’s neck to soothe him further into unconsciousness once more. “Explain,” she ordered, knowing Dean needed answers...even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear them.

“We’re going to have to handle Sam the same way we did Grant after Latveria,” Vincent explained. He grimaced a little as he looked down at his patient, fondness breaking through his professional facade. “Trying to patch him up enough to move him is going to hurt him. When that happens, he’s going to move, unconscious or not.”

Dean bit back a curse as Marina’s breath huffed out in an almost silent sob.

“So I have to know.” Sympathy might have filled Vincent’s eyes as he locked them back on hers, but his voice held an implacable will. “Can you hold him? Or do we need to get Brian to help me?”

On a logical level, the Russian - spy, handler, fighter - understood the mechanics of what he asked. Any work they did to stabilize Samonik would cause him pain. Unconsciousness didn’t guarantee the absence of pain - something she’d known since her first boys were still small, but which her recent tending of Prizak drove home yet again. The victim might not remember the pain once they woke up, but they still felt it in the moment.

But on a maternal level? No way in hell would she let anyone else hold her son when he needed her so desperately.

“Dean.” Clutching her baby a little closer to her shoulder, she looked around to his brother. “Shchenok, honey, I need you to go find Brian and Natasha and help them get the house ready to burn, okay?”

“But-.”

“Trust me, baby, we’re going to help Samonik.” Marina cut off his protest. “But I need you to do this. Bri and Tasha have never salted and burned anything before, and we can’t leave this house to cause anyone else pain.” Her eyes flashed. “And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Merrick’s ghost become an issue.”

“I -” he attempted to protest, cut off as Marina continued insistently, “You’re the senior hunter right now, sweetheart. They need your help.”

Dean’s jaw tightened for a moment. “Okay.”

“I’ll take care of him for you.” Her voice, soft as it was, seemed to echo in the room. “I promise.”

“I trust you, Marishka Mama.”

“Thank you, love. Now, go.” Dean cast one more look at his baby brother before rushing up the stairs and out of her sight. Once he was gone, she shifted her hold to anchor the teenager to her. He began to try and shift, little sounds of discomfort escaping him, and she kissed his forehead. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.” Her eyes lifted to meet Vincent’s waiting gaze. “I can hold him.”

"All right," he agreed, willing to take her at her word. Reaching for the bottle of alcohol and a wad of gauze, he took a deep breath in and held it. Then he dumped the liquid into the cotton and announced, "Let's get to work."

Chapter Text


Chapter 290: City of Blood

In his childhood, Specialist Vincent Ryan Keller, MD, had never realized he was misnamed. He didn't realize it in college, or during medical school. It wasn't even a realization he'd come to himself - it was something he'd been informed of by a unit mate following his enlistment.

The medic had been witness to more than his fair share of death and bloodshed. He had been a firefighter until his two older brothers kicked his ass all the way to medical school. After that he'd specialized in trauma care with an emphasis on emergency surgery.

He was a resident at Manhattan Bellevue, working an ER shift, when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Horrors unspeakable happened that day, and he'd been elbows deep in some of the worst of it. Vincent lost both of his brothers to the Towers. His sisters-in-law lost their husbands, his niece and nephews lost their fathers. All of them had lost what little innocence they'd still had, suddenly and inescapably aware of their own mortality and the rupture of their previously accepted American invulnerability.

As soon as the dust settled on the Towers, Vincent had gone to enlist . . . to do something to avenge his brothers, the Towers and the dead he'd been unable to save. The decision put him on a collision course with Muirfield and their project, leading to still more deaths he could do nothing to prevent. It seemed that everyone he knew died, and the most common denominator in all of those instances . . . was him.

The slaughter of his unit had left Vincent alone once more, and his time on the run was haunted by the dying words of a friend. The soldier had held the man in his arms, hoping to save him but unable to do anything. Just before he died, though, he gave Vincent another name, gasped out in his accented English - a name which would haunt Vincent all the years he was on the run from Muirfield, his past and his mistakes.

Kalaraja, the Lord of Death. Ruling over a kingdom of blood spilled in his wake.

All throughout those years he'd been alone, he forced himself to defy the moniker. Even when he should have been keeping his head down, he did what he could to help as many as he could. Now, under the employ and protection of S.H.I.E.L.D., he had still more opportunities to renounce its hold over him.

And yet, no matter what he tried, he always seemed to find himself back here. Hands covered in blood as he worked to save the injured. Only now, more often than not, his patients were also those whom he loved. Or those who meant the world to people that meant the world to him.

Case in point, Sam Winchester. His older daughter's de facto boyfriend. And Marina Petrovka's dearly loved foster son.

The poor kid had been sliced and diced by a psychotic piece of shit with a rusty knife. His wounds, especially the large one in his thigh and the pentagram carved over his breastbone, were already displaying the signs of sepsis. And even with the vaccine the medic had administered, it would be a miracle if Sam didn't succumb to lockjaw or some other tetanus related infection.

Rummaging through his bag, Vincent considered his options and grimaced when he laid hands on an unopened bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide applied directly to the wounds was a grisly option, and more painful than Vincent felt entirely comfortable with. However, they were frankly out of good options. The wounds needed cleaned - in the case of the thigh, it would possibly need to be debrided to clear away the dead and dying tissue, as soon as possible. To wait could mean Samonik might lose his leg, if not his life.

Yanking on a pair of gloves, cussing under his breath all the while, Vincent gripped the knee and rotated the leg to allow for the excess liquid to run off. Then, he doused the wound with the cleanser directly to the site.

Sam's shriek probably woke the dead, his weak frame struggling against the implacable grip Vincent had on his leg. When he couldn't escape the pain, his fingers scrambled for purchase in the neck of Marina's shirt and pulled, seeking sanctuary as he keened. The Russian herself had tears in her eyes, but she pulled him as close to her as she could, her voice tremulous but sure as she murmured against his forehead. "Hush now, love," she soothed, fingers grounding on the base of his neck. "I know it hurts, sweetheart, but it's helping, I promise. Regko, moy mal'chik, regko. You're all right, love . . . it's all right."

"Mom," he whimpered, earning a startled look from Vincent. He'd never heard the teen address her that way, though from the tortured look on Marina's face, she had and only recently. The kid's eyes were wide and unseeing, as he lay listless and almost fragile in his foster mother's arms, clutching her t-shirt for comfort like a child much younger than he was. "It hurts, Mom."

"I know sweetheart," she soothed, ducking her face over him.

Vincent had seen Sam's behavior from others before, too many times to count on the faces of friends, unit mates and colleagues. The teen wasn't truly conscious in the traditional sense, reacting only to the physical sensation of pain though not mentally aware of it. It was a handy coping mechanism and - thank God for small favors - Sam wouldn't remember any of this once he woke for real.

Turning his attention to the gash in the teenager's thigh once more, he frowned to see an ugly black clot clinging stubbornly to the very deepest recesses of the slice. Dousing the wound again, he flinched to hear Sam's keening scream once more, as the boy tried to arch away. "Mom, please!" the teenager sobbed, "It hurts!"

"I know," she promised accepting his full weight against her as he buried his face in her neck once more with a body-shuddering sob. "Hold on to me, honey; tight as you want. No one is going to say a damned thing - you scream as long and as loud as you need to."

"It hurts," he whimpered, slumping against her, weak and exhausted.

"I know. Believe me, baby, I know. Just hold on - this will all be over soon," she vowed, hooking his head under her chin as she turned a stern eye on her Misfit. "Roslyy, at this point? Quicker is better, da?"

"I'm trying not to hurt him too much, Marina."

"Either way, it's going to hurt him. You told me that - so hurt him quickly and be done with it," the woman ordered, tears glittering in the corners of her eyes.

Vincent nodded, watching as the teenager drifted into semi-consciousness once again. After a moment, he cussed and turned to Joe. "I'm going to have to cut out that clot, before it becomes an abscess or blood poisoning. You're going to have to hold his leg still."

Marina made a wounded sound in the back of her throat at the declaration. As for the younger Hardy, he grimaced in pained understanding. "Aw hell . . . poor kid."

Grasping the ankle, Joe used his grip to straighten out the leg then pinned it down at knee and hip. Trapping the other leg with his own, Joe grunted, "I've got him. Whatever you need to do, I’m good to go."

Vincent pulled a scalpel from his bag and tore into the sterile packaging, bringing it down to the leg. Looking at Marina, he watched her tighten her hold on Sam, before nodding sharply in an unspoken "go ahead". He took a deep breath in through his nose, then announced, "All right, here we go," before lowering the scalpel to the thigh.

If anything, Sam's scream this time was enough to shake the rafters. The sound of it reverberated through the small room as the clot came free with a sickly sounding squelch. Determined to clear out as much of it as possible, Vincent cut further, looking for clear, oxygenated blood. Once it started flowing, Vincent tossed the scalpel into the red hazard tote and rushed to bind the wound and stop the flow of the very bleeding he'd wanted only seconds before.

Such was the way of medicine. Sometimes the treatment you needed to start with, produced a outcome you didn't by the end. Healthy blood flow from the wound would help to carry a good percentage of the filth and bacteria from the wound, but the kid didn't have a lot of blood to lose. It was a gamble to hope that the benefits of the treatment would negate the risks. The human body was a truly wondrous work of art . . . when it behave the way Vincent wanted it to.

And sometimes - more than sometimes - it refused.

Sam had been limp in Marina's arms for nearly ten minutes before VIncent had sufficiently packed and bound the leg to his satisfaction. Looking up from the leg, Vincent laid his hands on each side of the kid's neck and frowned. "He's still too warm. Once we get him on the plane, we're going to need to get some cool towels to try to bring that down, ASAP."

"Copy that," she agreed, smoothing her fingers through Sam's hair as the boy settled completely into unconsciousness. "How are we going to move him?"

"I'll carry him," Vincent insisted, "Joe can clear out a space for him in the back of the Jeep . . . and you can go get Dean."

Marina's mouth twisted in concern at the statement, earning a warm affection deep in Vincent's gut. "I'm surprised that child of mine hasn't come bolting down those steps like a bat out of hell."

"Either Scary Boss has him hogtied," Joe interrupted, as he fished out a gauze pad, "or they've plugged his ears with dirt."

She rolled her eyes as she conceded, "Entirely likely." She watched critically as the two taped the pad over the pentagram Merrick had carved into her child's chest.

"Or they've done both," Vincent agreed, repacking his bag and setting it aside. "All right, let's get him in the Jeep. Joe, salt Merrick's body and don't spare the lighter fluid. I wanna watch this place burn."

Marina's only response was a vicious growl, those usually bright eyes dark with hatred and fury as she glared over at the body still bleeding onto the concrete floor. "I'm going to enjoy watching this hell hole burn."

"I think we all are, Scary Boss Lady," Joe agreed, reaching out to clasp both of the kid's ankles and hold them still. "All right, I've got his legs."

"Keep that leg as still as you can. I don't want to risk it bleeding any more than it has to," Vincent ordered, tone brusque and sharp. His arms eased under shoulders and knees, before he looked up into Marina's face. "Can you grab my bag?"

"Yeah, of course," she agreed, smoothing back sweat slicked strands of hair for one final kiss to Sam's forehead before she relinquished him into Vincent's arms.

The medic smiled at her tightly, before standing and lifting the teenager free of her embrace. Fortunately, Sam seemed to be well and truly out now, only a soft keen slipping free as Vincent cradled him close. Behind them, Joe emptied an entire can of salt over Merrick's body and then another of lighter fluid. Marina scooped up the first aid kit, slinging it across her chest and clutching the strap in tightly clenched fingers going white at the knuckles.

Tossing the cans into the corner, Joe rifled in his pockets then came out with a box of matches not unlike you'd find at a bar. "So, should we wait for Dean?"

"No, just do it. This is one sin my son will not carry," Marina argued, glaring at the body once more. "Light him up and let's go. Samonik needs a hospital, and the only one I trust to care for him is S.H.I.E.L.D. Medical."

Joe grinned at her, a lopsided charming grin that Vincent was certain had melted more than one girl's heart in the past, before nodding towards the stairwell. "Better get going then. With all the lighter fluid, this place is gonna go up like tinder in a second."

One slim hand reached up to touch her comm as she spoke, "Skopa? Are you clear?"

It took a second, before Brian’s voice came through the comm, clear and cheerful, sounding completely unlike himself and instantly triggering Vincent’s more suspicious nature. "We're good. We've got Merrick's things; his research, weapons, spell books, what have you. Anything related to Samonik specifically is already ash in a trash can. You good down there?"

"For the most part," she agreed, eyes narrowing as she considered the tone her boy was using – based on the look on her face, she was feeling just as suspicious as Vincent himself and probably for better reason. "Smut'yan?"

"Yes Marishka?" he replied, still using his most innocent tone.

Vincent chuckled under his breath. If there was one thing you could always count on when it came to Brian Grimm, it was his tendency to yank his sister's tail. And the family's Osprey was definitely poking at the Viper, though his reasons for doing so more than likely centered on another Winchester teenager the undercover agent was particularly fond of.

Marina's eyes narrowed at the sound, giving her Misfit a narrowed eyed look, as she demanded of the other, "What did you do with my son, Bri?"

"He's fine, Marishka. Currently, he's running laps."

"LAPS!?" she echoed, surprised by the statement.

"Apparently that's what you do in ROTC, when you've disobeyed a direct order," Natasha replied with a soft laugh.

Marina sighed, "Oh dear. Which order did he disobey?"

"It's not important, Marishka, honestly. It's taken care of, and you'll only embarrass the kid if you bring it up again," Brian insisted, with a gentle amusement to his tone. "As I said, we're all ready to go up here. What about you guys?"

"We're ready."

"Then let's burn this sucker."

Chapter Text


Chapter 291: Unconventional Consequences

Natalya Alianovna Romanova understood grief . . . loss . . . fear. People wouldn't believe it of her, the legendary assassin known as the Black Widow, but most forgot the call sign itself was not a person. There was a history behind the given moniker, complete with love, trauma, joy and pain.

So when Samonik screamed the first time, the redhead was instantly on high alert. She didn't know the older Winchester as well as her lover did. However she did know her sister and the Colonel well enough to know they had probably expected this kind of pain in the younger of the brothers.

Still the Widow's heart hurt to see Dean bolt across the lawn towards her, as a second scream ripped through the air. "Sammy!" he bellowed, storming up the stairs like a bull in a china hutch.

Only her quick side step into his path prevented him from gaining entry into the house. Her sudden appearance in front of him, jolted him off course and he backpedalled hard, trying not to run her over. As a result, he flailed backwards and landed on his backside, sprawled across the porch at her feet. One elegant eyebrow rose as the two stared at each other, the air around them heavy with fear and pain.

After a moment, Natasha folded her arms over her chest as she inquired rhetorically, "And where do you think you're going, mal'chik?"

Dean's jaw tightened hard, as his inherent stubbornness rose like an angry black cloud. The Russian resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the expression - she'd seen its mirror more than once on her own partner's face. Some part of her had always known Brian and his protege were more alike than most gave them credit for. As far as she was concerned, the last thing she needed was for them to share facial expressions proving it. Her head barely turned as she called the only reliable reinforcements she could bring to her aid. "Bri! I could use your help out here!"

For once, the second eldest Grimm didn't question the request, leading her to believe he too had been expecting this reaction from Dean sooner or later. The Widow turned back to Dean, only moments before he made a move to dodge past her. "Nuh-uh, mal'chik," she scolded, shifting deftly into his path. "I don't think so, boyo."

"Sammy's screaming," he argued, just as Brian filled what little space Natasha didn't cover in the doorway. If anything, his mentor's appearance only made the teenager that much more stubborn. "I need to be down there! He needs me!"

Brian's head was already shaking before Dean had even finished speaking. His tone was even and mild as he replied, "Samonik has exactly the people he needs with him, right now. You will only be in the way, kid."

"Brian!" Dean protested in horrified betrayal. Clearly he'd been expecting the older man to be on his side in the argument. Brian's head shook again, leaving Dean's jaw tightening hard in resolute determination.

The crazy thing was, if it had been anyone else in that cellar room with the younger Winchester, Brian would have been on Dean's side. He had three little brothers of his own, and while his relationship with them had been tumultuous in their childhood (by his own admission), he was fiercely devoted to their safety now. But it was Marina with Samonik - and there was no entity in this world Brian Grimm trusted more than the woman who had raised him.

"No, De," the agent insisted. "You're not first aid trained to the same level as Joe. And Vincent is a trauma doctor specifically trained for this - he's the best chance your brother has right now."

"Then why does Marina get to stay?" Dean threw out savagely, before his eyes flew open wide in horror. "I didn't . . . that wasn't . . . I'm sorry, I . . ."

Natasha had never seen the look on Brian's face before - a mix of disappointment, understanding and guilt. His tone was gruff with those emotions as he rumbled, "I get you have a hard time trusting this - I understand it more than I can say. But I don't know how to get the facts of your new world through your head, Dean. She loves you . . . you and your brother, and she would do anything for either of you." A deep breath through his nose was his only pause, before he spoke again. "Furthermore, she's the only mother your brother has ever known."

Dean floundered at the reminder, blushing hard at having to be reminded at all. This allowed Brian to press on with his argument. "I can tell you from personal experience, Dean. It doesn't matter how old you get - when you're a young man, and you're hurt or sick, the ONLY thing you want? Is your mom. Especially when you have a mom like Marina." He snorted in quiet amusement as he continued, "Clint is in his thirties, with a boyfriend AND a girlfriend. And when he gets one of his ear infections, Marina's still the one he goes whining to. Because she's his mom, and he trusts her to make it better."

Bracing his hands on Dean's shoulders, he forced the kid to meet his eyes. "Samonik deserves that . . . to have his mom there, whether you like it or not."

Natasha watched these two face off, suddenly struck by more than the obvious similarities between them. They looked very alike in this moment - dark, close cropped blond hair and strong, stubborn jaws. A muscle jumped in quiet frustration, almost hidden by the scruff on Brian's face, while a vein pulsed angrily at the teenager's temple. Surprisingly, neither of them looked angry with the other, only resigned to the truth in the other's argument and very, very stubborn.

She leaned one shoulder against the doorframe, curious in spite of herself. She knew Brian - knew how much these two men meant to each other, to her sister, to the Colonel . . . how much this family meant to her in its entirety. Not for the first time, she wondered how she had come to be here, in this moment with these people she had come to love so fiercely. The Chernaya Vdova she'd been at 19 - hell, the Black Widow she'd been at 40 - would never have imagined a life like this one.

Frankly, would have turned herself in in a heartbeat if she had even dared to try.

Natalya Romanova had once been a legend within the walls of the Kremlin. A triumph for her trainers at the Krasnaya Komnata and its hellacious Akademiya. Her call sign had garnered both fear and respect as she'd walked those storied halls. The assassin was equally admired for her loyalty to her country and revered for her ruthlessness on the job. Both traits had been drilled into her from childhood, as natural to her as breathing and equally as inescapable.

At the age of sixteen - and flush with pride over her first solo assignment - the girl she have been could never have imagined herself here.

Some part of her snickered as she watched Dean draw himself up to full height, fully prepared to leverage the inch and a half he had over Brian in pursuit of whatever new argument he was coming up with in his head. She'd seen that exact look on Brian's face, when he was getting ready to read a rookie the riot act . . . or go head to head with his older brother. If anything, it was probably a good thing only one of these two was crazy.

Sobering at a soft whimper floating upwards from the cellar behind her, she felt pain stab deep as Dean sunk back into himself. His face spasmed with barely concealed pain, only barely masked by an underlying and all-consuming rage.

It was a good thing Carl Merrick was already dead. She had a suspicion Dean would have come up with something creatively bloody and excessively painful if he wasn’t.

Natasha reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder, trying with all her might to erase the murderous look from his face. "I know it's hard and it sucks. But Dean . . . you can't go down there."

Of course, it was then Samonik screamed once more. There was desolate agony in this one - whatever was happening downstairs, it was causing the younger teenager a considerable amount of distress. As soon as it faded away, it resumed, the sound piercing and horrific to hear.

There was a sobering amount of concern in Brian's face as the couple locked eyes for a moment, before they both turned to look at the elder Winchester. Dean was staring at the wide open cellar door with his heart in his eyes and a visible lump in his throat. After a moment, his face closed in a startling reenactment of the Colonel's. He looked Brian square in the face and announced, "Fuck you."

Natasha wasn't sure why she was surprised when his hands flashed out and shoved Brian hard, but she would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. Fortunately, Brian seemed to have anticipated the action and grabbed the kid by the collar only seconds before Dean pushed. As a result, he was able to swing Dean around and off the porch, sending him sprawling into the dirt.

Twirling on his heel, Brian stormed to the door and slammed it shut, muffling the continued sound of screams. Natasha heaved a small sound of relief - the poor kid.

Brian's shoulders lifted then sank as he took a deep breath, trying to soothe his temper, before he stormed down the stairs. The undercover specialist bent to grab Dean by the collar and haul him to his feet. Dean's eyes were huge as Brian shook him once by the lapels, his face hard and angry. "I get you’re upset, kid, but let's get one thing straight. I am your superior officer on this assignment," he barked, his eyes narrowed and cold. "I give you an order? You don't get to run off and do your own thing. This isn't a hunt with your waste of space father - this is a real mission, the events of which have to be meticulously documented and cross-examined and validated."

Dean’s eyes were huge as he stared up at Brian. The agent’s tone gentled despite the stern set of his features as he insisted, “Do you understand, kid?

The response was instant, “Yes sir.”

“Good,” he grunted, pushing Dean back a step.

Natasha spoke up then. “What would your ROTC CO have you be doing right now?”

Dean’s grimace was obvious as he replied sullenly, “Running laps.”

“Then I guess you know what you’re doing now, don’t you?” Brian questioned, one eyebrow cocked upwards as he glowered at the younger man.

The kid groaned wretchedly at the thought, even as he was nodding in miserable agreement. “Yes sir."

“Better get started then - I want six laps completed before we have to leave, or you’re going to be doing twenty once we get home,” the undercovered asset demanded, arms folding over his chest as he glowered.

Dean blanched at the threat, before rotating on his heel and bolting away. Natasha waited until he was out of earshot then snickered. Her lover twisted to look back at her, eyes narrowing at her visible amusement. “Enjoying this, are you?”

“Hell yes - the similarities between you two never fail to amuse me,” she agreed with a sly grin. “Let me guess; you feel bad for yelling at him.”

“No,” was the immediate protest, his frown deepening as he attempted to look even more ferocious than he already did.

Unfortunately for Brian, they both knew she could see through him as easily as if he was made of glass. “Horsehit,” she snarked with a wicked grin, before taunting him lightly, “I promise not to tell.”

He made a face at her, earning a swell of fondness within her at the expression. Grunting at her lack of shame, he grumbled for a moment before asking, “Think he’ll learn? Or will we be doing this song and dance again?”

“He did learn, Bri,” she promised, remembering the look on the teenager’s face when the second eldest Grimm had barked at him. After a moment, she smirked as her lover’s actions coalesced more firmly into her memory. His eyes narrowed her suspiciously as she laughed, then teased, “I promise not to tell the Colonel you channeled his murderface.”

Brian groaned, eyes squeezing shut in silent confirmation of the accusation. “I was hoping you hadn’t noticed.”

“Fat chance,” she replied, moving to wrap her arms around his waist. “Dean heard you, Brian; he’ll remember the rules of the family from now on. With any luck, we won’t have these ‘head first plunges into danger’ anymore.”

“One can only hope,” he grunted angrily. “Family or not, we all have to toe the line where there’s a line to toe. Even Will and Marina answer to someone. If we all just . . . rush off half-cocked . . .

Natasha’s tone was amused as she joked, “Rushing off half-cocked. Now who does that sound like?”

“Hardy har har,” he snarked with a roll of his eyes. “You’re not as cute as you think you are.”

“Like hell I’m not,” she snapped back with a wide grin, earning yet another grunt from the undercover agent.

He chuckled, the sound forced and uncomfortable as he tried to let her distract him. “Okay . . . maybe a little cute.” His grin turned lecherous as he continued, “I mean, I don’t think ‘cute’ when you’re sprawled across my sheets, but eh.”

She rolled her eyes at him, scolding playfully, “Lech.”

He grinned, the gesture a rictus of his usually carefree smirk. “You love it.”

“Occasionally,” she replied loftily, “when you mean it.”

“Slander and calumny!” he protested, arms hauling her back into him before she was able to strut too far away. Bending to nibble against her earlobe, he assured her in a husky tone, “I always mean it.”

The scruff of his goatee tickled against her neck, combining with the continued screams muffled by the doors to send shivers down her spine. Turning her head into his throat, she allowed herself to take comfort in his presence. “Bozhe moi, what are they doing to him?”

Brian’s chin shifted against her temple, fingers smoothing through her curls. Considering the tension in his arms and shoulders, he was just as concerned as she was. “What they have to,” he replied soberly. “Who knows what the bastard did to him - I’d prefer they have to hurt him now when he may not remember as opposed to later when he will.”

Bednyy rebenok,” she breathed as one of the screams suddenly hiked an octave, before dying away completely. It was silent for a long moment, causing the two to look at each other with growing concern. “What do you think happened?”

Brian shook his head, equally as worried as she was. “Maybe he finally passed out,” he guess, before there was an audible clicking sound from their comms and Marina’s voice - tired and thin - spoke, “Skopa? Are you clear?”

He grit his teeth at the question, his anger with Dean smoldering a little as he watched the teenager finish his first revolution around the house. Natasha snickered a little, earning a smirk in her direction as he adopted his most innocent tone and replied cheerfully, “We’re good.”

Flinching away from Natasha’s pointed poke into his ribs, he glared at her for a moment before continuing his recounting. “We’ve got Merrick’s things; his research, weapons, spell books, what have you. Anything related to Samonik specifically is already ash in a trash can. You good down there?”

“For the most part,” Natasha’s youngest sister agreed, tone suspicious and earning an amused grin from the redhead as Brian cussed under his breath. “Smut’yan?”

“Yes Marishka?” he asked innocently, sticking his tongue out at Natasha even as he evaded her second poke.

Poking the Viper is a bad idea, she mouthed with a cocked eyebrow, earning a shrug and a hand wave from her lover in reply.

“What did you do with my son, Bri?” the younger Russian demanded, clearly onto Brian’s act and unwilling to stretch the play any further than she needed to.

Brian’s eyes rolled as Natasha silently gloated beside him. “He’s fine Marishka. Currently, he’s running laps.”

“LAPS!?” was the incredulous echo, her tone alarmed at the explanation.

“Apparently that’s what you do in ROTC when you disobey a direct order,” Natasha replied with a soft laugh. She suspected there would always be a part of her amused by the similarities between these two men, but she was even more sure this instance in particular would always stick out as the most obvious.

Marina’s sighs was pained and understanding as she replied, "Oh dear. Which order did he disobey?”

You would never be able to claim Brian didn’t love his sister. His features gentled with affection as he insisted honestly, "It's not important, Marishka, honestly. It's taken care of, and you'll only embarrass the kid if you bring it up again. As I said, we're all ready to go up here. What about you guys?"

Exhaustion clung to her tone as she confirmed, "We're ready.”

"Then let's burn this sucker,” he agreed, a manic smile growing on his face.

Chapter Text

Chapter 292: The Wait

Will Grimm was more than a little irritated with himself.

He had wanted to deal Hadley the previous evening, however his emotions had been all over the map and he hadn't felt comfortable with this idea. As a result, he'd spent most of the evening with his brother, the two men sparring until they both had literally dropped to the mat with exhaustion. By the time, they finally dragged themselves off the mats and into the shower, both knew Hadley was long gone from her desk, giving Doyle a chance to bully the younger brother into an actual shower, a decent meal and then into bed with actually very little arguing.

Will could see how much it meant to Doyle to be able to help in some way, no matter how small. Hence, the lack of argument.

Because of course, Will couldn't actually sleep. He tossed and turned for an hour, before going to check on the children he still could. In Rene's room, the teenager was curled up in the middle of a Wesen dogpile, sleeping fitfully and with a fierce frown on his face even in unconsciousness.

Both girls were curled up at his sides like tadpoles, clearly needing the closeness as much - if not more - than he did. Samonik was Rene's brother, but he was the girls' Pack; a state of attachment that Will was still trying to work his head around, but seemed to be as intensely important to them as Will's younger brothers and sister were to him and Marina. Reluctant to disturb them - or possibly startle both Fuchsbau and Blutbad out of their slumber - he blew them each a silent kiss then retreated from the room on silent feet.

The twins had not been returned to the house yet as they would be staying with Vika and Coulson until Samonik was recovered and everyone was at least back on base. However, both Coulsons were well acquainted with the Colonel's personal brand of paranoia. He slipped into his office, turned on the little coffeemaker on the corner table and settled into his desk chair. His desktop hummed familiarly as it came to life, keys clicking as he logged into the server. It was then a floorboard creaked outside his office, Will's head coming up sharply and eyes narrowed at the crack in the door suspiciously, even as he reached for the pistol holstered to the bottom of his desk.

"Easy little brother . . . it's just me," came the easy drawl from Echo Team's tactical leader. "You know, I'm pretty sure I put you to bed."

Will chuckled ruefully, moving his hand from the weapon as he snarked in reply, "And I'm pretty sure, you went home."

There was a bark of amused laughter as Doyle leaned against the doorjamb with a cheeky grin. "Scar would have kicked my ass if I'd left you alone tonight." The two brothers watched each other for a moment, before the older of the two shook his head in fond amusement. "There a reason you're not in bed?"

"Checking on my kids that I can," the Colonel replied, pulling up the surveillance cameras Jason had placed in Yasha's nursery years ago. A small smile tugged at his mouth to see his twins and godson cuddling together on a mattress on the floor next to Yasha's crib, each of them sprawled without a care in the world.

Doyle nodded quietly, seeming to understand that desire without further explanation. "You heard from Marina yet?"

"No," was the simple response, a resigned twist to his lips as his acknowledged in the next breath, "I won't until she has a definitive prognosis on the mission . . . Samonik . . . all of it."

"When do you think she'll have that?"

"Tomorrow morning at the very latest."

"Good, cause I'm pretty sure you're going to come out of your skin if you have to wait any longer than that," Doyle joked, earning a small chuckle and a roll of his eyes from the younger brother. He watched as Will logged in to his S.H.I.E.L.D. desktop and pulled a stack of files from a locked door in his desk. "Wait - so you're just going to . . . work? Until that point?"

"Yeah," Will agreed with a sheepish smile and a small chuckle at the incredulous look on his brother's face. "You know, you'd think you would have heard by now about my terrible sleeping habits."

"Shockingly, I had assumed that most of the jokes were actually jokes," Doyle deadpanned with a roll of his eyes. "Wow, you really don't sleep when she's gone?"

"Depends on how long she's gone for. But in answer to your question; no, not often and definitely not without pharmaceutical assistance," the Colonel replied. "In fairness, she doesn't sleep easily without me either."

"Geez, Will - no wonder you're a rail," the tactical leader sighed.

"Well, there's lots of reasons for that actually," was the familiar deflection, earning Doyle's flat rejoinder, "Uh-huh. Whatever you say, little brother."

Will's features were set in clear amusement as he leaned forward on his elbows. "Really, Doyle; you don't have to stay and babysit me. Go home to your wife; get some sleep."

Doyle's head was already shaking before the words were even out of his brother's mouth. The tactical expert moved to the couch against the one wall and sprawled out on it, one arm flung up and over his eyes to block the sparse light coming from the desk. "Remember the part where Scar is gonna kill me, if I leave your traumatized ass alone tonight?"

"Traumatized!?" the man sputtered in scandalized horror. "Is that how people see me?"

"Hell no," Doyle scoffed, motionless except for his mouth. "Breathe in anyone's direction and they're going to run screaming in terror as though they've just seen a dragon. Those of us who know you, though . . ."

Here there was a meaningful pause and Will was forced to concede the point. He didn't talk about it with his brothers and barely with Marina - who knew everything anyway - but that didn't mean they didn't know at least the bare minimum of the details. "Fair point," he agreed with a reluctant chuckle, slumping back in his chair to watch the older man wiggle a little deeper into the couch. "So, you're just going to sleep on my couch, while I work?"

"Sounds like a plan to me," Doyle grunted.

"Was that a yes or a no?" was the closest Will could manage in the way of any argument. It would be nice to have some company, even if he didn't want to admit it.

"Shut up and go to work."

Will chuckled and reached for a file folder as he allowed the comment to pass by unremarked upon. He flipped the file open and the officer bent to the work, eyes flicking up to his brother then dropping down to the pages once more. "Good night, Doyle."

"Night, Will. Have fun, I guess."

"Loads," he snarked sarcastically, before letting the familiar work pull him under its influence.

Time moved quickly once he had something to occupy his worried brain. Fueled by obscene amounts of coffee and no little concern, the Colonel killed the night through a steady stream of reports and work. It was only his son's curious question of "Dad? Why is Uncle Doyle on the couch?" that brought him out of his files once more.

Will looked up at the question, smiling to see his youngest son already up and dressed in his school uniform with his rucksack packed and slung over one shoulder. "Hey kiddo; you're ready for school already?"

"Yeah, Dad, it's like 6:45," Rene replied with a small smile. Tilting his head back, he asked, "So, are we gonna get a ride? The girls are still here, and considering what happened to Sam . . . I didn’t think you’d want us to walk or take my bike."

"That would be an understatement. Your dad might have a coronary," Doyle grunted, shoving himself to his feet and stretching widely. "Geez - that thing is a medieval torture device at best and a deathtrap at worst."

"Most people don't sleep on it," Will teased, with a smirk. "I did tell you to go home."

Doyle grunted, earning a lazy shrug from his nephew as Rene insisted, "I've found Mama sleeping on it before, when Dad's on a work bender. She doesn't seem to have any problems on it."

The older brother braced his hands on his back and bent backwards to the accompaniments of audible cracks along his spinal column. "She's the only one who could possibly fit on the thing, so I'll believe it. Come on, kid. I'll take you to school. Your dad has to get ready for a meeting this morning."

Rene looked between the two with narrowed eyes, tone suspicious as he asked, "Everything okay?"

"It's work stuff, Rene, pretty routine bullshit," Will promised, as he pushed up from his son and accepted his son's fierce hug with open arms. "The meeting isn't anything to worry about.”

He nodded suspiciously, before frowning, “Have you heard anything about Sam? Has Mama called? Are they on their way home yet?”

“I don’t know, kiddo. I haven’t gotten any calls from your mother yet, but as soon as I hear from her, I'll send you a text to give you a heads up, okay? I promise.”

The teenager nodded with a small frown. "Are we going to have shadows?"

Will snorted hard, question clearly rhetorical as he questioned in reply, "What do you think?"

His son's grin grew wide and wicked, as he asked, "Are you gonna flunk the ones we catch?"

"More than likely," his father agreed with a small chuckle, amused to see Rene already starting to plot.

There was a moment as the teenager considered it, before asking, "The usual rules then?"

"Clothing, location, car and/or hair color; and they have to match at least three out of four. Deal?”

"Deal," Rene promised with a small grin. There was still concern in his eyes, but he was willing to let his father distract him with an old, familiar pastime. “And I’ll get all of Sam’s homework too.”

"Good," Will replied with a thin smile, “if I know Sam at all, it’s the first thing he’s going to worry about once he’s home.” Hauling his son in for another rough hug, Will took comfort in his closeness as he insisted firmly, "Keep your nose clean and watch out for the girls."

"Yes sir, I will," he agreed, before bolting from the office calling for the girls to tell them about their shadows.

Chuckling, both his father and his uncle left the office after him, Doyle following his brother to the master bedroom. Will disappeared into his closet to start getting ready for the day, while Doyle took up his usual place against the doorjamb. "Well it looks better in here."

"Yeah, Heather's amazing. We always call her crew, because they don't even blink at the weird stuff anymore," Will agreed, flipping through the hangers to find something he wouldn't shred anxiously. He finally settled on his tactical pants and a paid S.H.I.E.L.D. t-shirt, starting to strip out of his nightwear and into the new clothes.

"So, flunked?" was the curious question.

"It's a game the Foursome play. If they catch one of their tails, they get whatever treat they want. If they don't, a baby agent passes to the next stage of training," he explained, as he dug for his watch, wallet and other essentials.

"Considering Dacia's enhancements, isn't that kind of cheating?" he laughed, amused by the very idea. It was notable that he didn't sound disappointed in the game or unimpressed by its inception.

"Probably, but it'll keep the kids distracted too. So I'm calling it a win for the moment; the longer they spend trying to catch baby agents, the less time they're absorbed with worrying about Samonik."

"Sneaky," was the acknowledgement.

"Only if it works. And who knows with those three."

A small huff of laughter slipped free of Doyle, before he sobered again. "I would assume that Hadley would be at her desk within the hour, yeah? I'll be back by then. But should I meet you here or at S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

"I'll meet you at my desk. If I'm going to fire her, I want there to be no rumors or false speculation as to why."

"All right then. I'll be there," the tactical leader agreed. "And hey, call Marina, okay? Even if you only get her voicemail, the sound of her voice might help level you out."

Will blushed a little, relieved to still be out of view of his brother. "Are you taking mother henning lessons from Marina?" he joked, fingers nimble on the buckle of his belt before he bent to tie his shoes.

"Who do you think asked me to keep an eye on you?" was the laughing reply, before the master bedroom door closed behind him.

Rolling his eyes, Will conceded to having been played, even as he muttered, "Of course Marina was the one asking you to babysit. Scarlett my ass."

A moment later, the Colonel could hear his brother's voice bellow through house, "Load up, rugrats! The party train is leaving the station!"

A soft laugh slipped from the man, as he listened to the children scramble down the stairs in a veritable tumble of teenaged limbs and laughter. The sound of their footsteps receded completely, before at last he could hear the front door open then close with a bang.

He stepped from the closet as he fiddled with the latch on his watch. As he gathered everything into his pockets, he considered Doyle's suggestion.

Even the cheerful sound of his lover's voice over the voicemail would be a welcome relief from the constant concern. He was still debating the idea, even as he was reaching for the phone and pressing the speed dial to call her. With the phone tucked between his chin and shoulder, he entered the kitchen in search of some of Marina's homemade power bars for breakfast. He smiled as the line connected through, her ringback tone of TATU's "Dangerous and Moving" never failing to make him smile.

Abruptly, the song cut off and a warm voice replaced it, "Allo, Mishka."

She sounds tired and worn through, but there was relief in her voice too. Love for her, warried with his own relief to hear her voice and his concern for their son. Taking the phone in hand once more, he smiled softly and replied, "Allo, zhemchuzhina . . . how's our boy?"

Chapter Text


Chapter 293: Big Brother Trouble

It was official. These kids were terrifying.

That was the only thought Doyle was able to clearly process as he listened to all three teenagers in the backseat of his sedan plot and plan a truly devious level of mayhem. It was a good thing he'd already been graduated before his brother's kids became part of the training regime, because he would have flunked, HARD, in the face of their combined mischief making.

Also, he was pretty sure that he was going to be fending off at least one murder attempt from his gorgeous wife, if these three were any kind of preview of his own triplets as teens. Wincing at one of Dacia's ideas - the girl didn't need to sound so gleeful about it, geez! Way to be ruthless, Dacia - he amended that thought. Probably more than one murder plot.

He smiled a little as he listened, though. In addition to no little awe, there was genuine amusement at their dynamic. There was clearly a hole where the younger of Will and Marina's Sams should be, but they each seemed determined to ignore that hole and push forward.

Dacia and Inari were almost puckish in their excitement over the game, each idea more and more outlandish. They were both planning to utilize their Wesen abilities - carefully, at Rene's insistence - to try and catch the agents out. Fortunately, neither of them seemed all that keen on getting caught using them, leaving Doyle relieved not to have to say anything as a reminder.

As for his nephew, the youngest of his brother's sons was another kettle of fish altogether. It was clear, Rene had the same quiet authority with his friends that his father had with the family as a whole. He was willing to accept any suggestions put to him, as well as listened intently to each one offered. However any suggestion he vetoed was summarily abandoned and others offered in its place.

He was their leader - quietly and without demanding it, but still their leader.

To watch them, Doyle could see the lessons Rene had acquired from his father. There had been careful attention paid to the unconscious lessons Will offered during every family council or crisis. As a result, whether subconsciously or deliberately, Rene mimicked the behavior with his friends. They both respected him and followed him without question. From what Doyle had seen of Rene's relationship with Samonik, despite the Winchester teenager being the older, he tended to defer to the younger more often than not.

It amused him to see his brother so completely in his son, as well as his sister-in-law's fierce temperament. It hadn't been something he would have considered when they first met, but Marina was one of the most idealistic women Doyle had ever known. She had passed that idealism onto her child. Unless he missed his guess, Rene possessed her generosity of spirit and relentless enthusiasm in spades. And he was going to use it to either change the world or remake it entirely.

As Doyle guided the car through the city, he noticed that Rene's commentary on the game started to dwindle until it disappeared completely. He'd originally intended to just drop the kids at the door, but as the red-bricked front of Brooklyn Latin came into view, he took the entrance to the parking lot instead. Pulling into a spot, he twisted in his seat to look at the three. "Speaking as an agent, you may not want to overplay your hand, yeah?" he asked, eyes on Rene as he watched the kid stare out the window just past Dacia's head.

Rene's answering hum was absent, before he seemed to realize they were stationary. He blinked hard, then turned forward to face his uncle. He was silent for a moment, visibly trying to gather his thoughts, before he forced a smile. "Thanks for the ride, Uncle Doyle."

"You're welcome, kiddo," he agreed, features open and expectant as khaki green eyes locked on dark blue. "You seem to have something percolating in that brain of yours. You wanna let it out before it eats you alive?"

"How did you know?" he asked, with a rueful twist of his mouth, ears turning red with his blush.

"I recognize the look," was all Doyle would say. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to the teenager to know his father had the same exact look, and used it often. "Spit it out, Rene."

There was a long moment of silent, before Rene slumped back against the seatback. "Is Dad okay?"

Doyle reared back a bit, having not expected the question. "I think so. I don't see why he wouldn't be. You know something I don't?"

Rene rolled his eyes as he replied, "He looked tired."

"Your dad always looks tired," was the quick rejoinder.

"I just . . . are you going to be with him today?"

"Yeah, Owen and I both are," Doyle promised, suddenly understanding his nephew's roundabout way of thinking. "He's not going to be alone today. I promise - we won't let him ruminate in his own thoughts."

The two stared at each other for a long time and Doyle had to wonder what the kid was seeing in his face. Rene's ability to parse out bullshit was well ahead of his years, and there was little Doyle wanted more in this moment than to know his nephew trusted him to watch out for Will.

After a moment, Rene nodded once. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Go on - you're going to be late if you hang out here much longer. And you won't get to start on your game."

Dacia gave the man a smile as she asked, "Are you going to be here to pick us up this afternoon?"

"If I'm not, someone wil be. Probably Frank, seeing as Joe is with Marina in Maine." He glanced at the clock as he shrugged, "We will simply have to see."

"Do you think they have Sam back yet?" was the timid question from Inari, red streaks just barely discernable against the usual black of her pinstraight hair. "Do you think he's okay?"

"If you want a pretty lie, Inari, I can't give you one," Doyle replied in lieu of an answer. "Will seemed pretty sure he'd be hearing from Marina today. As soon as he knows, Rene will know. And I"m betting a pretty penny on the fact that once Rene knows, you'll know."

Inari nodded in agreement. "Thank you, for being honest."

"I'm still trying to get the hang of this whole, 'uncle' and 'big brother' thing. But I can promise you, I will never lie to you unless it is a matter of national security or I have been specifically ordered to keep confidence. Agreed?”

“Got it,” she replied with a weak imitation of her usual smile. It was clear she was worried about Samonik - fair enough, they were all worried about the young man.

"All right then. Everybody out!" he ordered, with a grin and a broad wink.

As the kids tumbled out their doors, he called out the window after them. "And hey!"

They each turned back, curiosity in their eyes as they watched him. Rene's head cocked as he asked, "Uncle Doyle?"

There was fond amusement in that face as he insisted, "Be nice to the idiots, huh? They're young and you're not stupid."

Rene chuckled as the two Wesen teenagers grinned wickedly from behind him. "Yeah, we'll think about it anyway."

Rolling his eyes, he snarked in reply, "That's all I can ask . . . I guess."

"We promise to let them think they're winning," Inari agreed with a wicked smirk.

"Seeing as they don't know they're playing a game, I'm not entirely sure that's fair. But all right - I'll take it," he laughed. "Be good. Do well in school."

"Yes sir!" they each agreed, before traipsing together to the back doors of the school.

Putting the car into reverse, Doyle chuckled as the kids disappeared into the school. "I will never understand how Will isn't gray or balding yet," he muttered as he swung the car back towards base. If he booked it, he'd get to his brother's office just before Hadley was due to arrive for work.

His thoughts drifted away from the insanity of a New York City rush hour as he manuevered the car back to the base, distantly relieved to be going against the flow of chaos. As they so often did, those thoughts turned to the incredulity of his new life once more.

It never failed to amaze him that this was his life now. He'd been a loner for all intents and purposes throughout his life. At least, he had been until Director Fury called him to his office after the Georgia mission. That meeting had changed his entire world. The Colonels had given him back his Scar, as well as offered him a family and siblings. He'd suddenly become the big brother of SIX - seeing as Minna had only been a sparkle in an eye at that point. Not to mention, he gained a father who was actually proud of the place he'd earned with Delta Force. It was surreal, and yet it was definitely one of the best moments of his life.

Over the years since then, he'd played big brother to most of his younger brothers. He and Gus were still trying to feel each other out, but the younger Prototype seemed to be coming around to the idea that occasionally, Doyle was just going to call for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Slowly those calls had extended from a whirlwind sixty seconds, to a much more acceptable fifteen to thirty minutes now. It wasn't quite where Doyle wanted it to be yet, but they were getting there.

Clint and Aaron still reserved their awe for Will, but they were more than willing to let Doyle scold them when they'd done something crazy or asinine. Which considering the levels of mayhem those two could get up to together, actually happened a lot less than most people thought.

Brian was always up to spar with Doyle, and the two spent a lot of their time together trying to beat the shit out of each other. And occasionally, the second eldest of the Brothers Grimm would come to him, to vent about something he didn't think he could take to Will or Marina. It made Doyle smile to think that they had some kind of relationship with each other, no matter how unconventional. He had worried initially that Brian would be the hardest nut to crack, considering the rumors that flooded around S.H.I.E.L.D.

How wrong he had been. In point of fact, that honor went to one William Michael Grimm. If there was a picture depicting stubborn in the dictionary, it would surely have been Will's face. Though the eldest of the Grimms had welcomed, and accepted, Doyle with open arms, his heart - and his confidence - had been decidedly closed to him.

It was frustrating and infuriating and aggravating.

It was also heartbreaking.

He was pretty sure it had taken the younger brother getting stabbed before things began to change. While Will was still infuriatingly self-sufficient and utterly resistant to accepting help from almost anyone, he was also much more willing to accept Doyle's presence when Doyle forced it on him. The Colonel was painfully reluctant to talk about the past, or anything that could hint at weakness of any kind, but he was also willing to pester Doyle for assistance regarding personnel or tactical issues.

It wasn't perfect, but for now Doyle would take it. They could build on that. And if it took fifty years - which it was looking as though it might - Doyle could bide his time. Years as a tactical asset had taught him patience, and he had no problem using it against his brother. Will deserved it.

He handed over his identification to Maverick at the gate, idling quietly as the guard ran his credentials in his booth. For once, the guard didn't engage in random chatter, clearly seeing that Doyle's mind was far away. After a moment, Mav leaned against the car and grasped the asset's shoulder firmly. Doyle jolted and looked up at him with wide, startled eyes. Suddenly back in the present, he settled back into his seat and gave the man a thin smile. "What's up, Mav?"

"I heard about the Colonels' kid. They get him back yet?"

Doyle took a deep breath, silently cursing himself for not being ready for this question. This was a base - he'd been on enough throughout his career to know that nothing stayed secret on a base for long. The Grimms' origins as Cahills was a fluke not the norm. He forced a small smile and insisted, "Marina took a team to get him back yesterday evening. We haven't heard back yet, but we should by this morning."

"You let the Boss know, the wife and I are praying he's okay."

"I'll let him know, Mav. Thank you."

Maverick nodded once briskly, offering the ID and stepping back into the guard box again. Doyle nodded in reply then pulled into base. Once he was out of the man's line of sight, he shook his head in distant shock.

He'd forgotten that too. Terrifying or not, Will and Marina - and their crazy family - was well liked on base. People respected them, because they offered their own respect in return.

He'd seen the horror on Will's face the night before, when he'd let his tongue slip. The fear that his demons had caused his people to lose faith, to whisper behind his back. Only the truly stupid or foolhardy would dare, and only the very new ever did. Chuckling a little, he gunned the engine toward Command - he had a little brother to get to, and support to offer while he still had the opportunity.

He arrived at his brother's office just in time, as he could see Hadley coming up the aisleway only seconds before he let himself into Will's office. The Colonel's eyes flicked up from the stack of paperwork at his desk, before redirecting back to the file in front of him. "Kids get to school okay?"

"Yeah - and Rene's worried about you," Doyle agreed, taking up a place against the wall at his back. "She's here. I just saw her coming up the aisle."

Doyle watched his brother's shoulders rise, as he pulled an audible breath in through his nose. "You have good timing."

"Tell me about it," he agreed with a soft chuckle, eyes laser sharp on the back of Will's head. "You want me to call her in?"

Another deep breath preceded Will slouching backwards in his chair. He would have looked relaxed and almost lazy to anyone who didn't already know him; to Doyle, he looked tense and deliberate in his posture. He was trying to present a calm, cool and collected veneer, but the older brother could see right through him. When it came to his kids, Will Grimm was never calm, cool and collected. There was rage boiling under that surface, and it wouldn't take much for the volcano that was Will's temper to turn someone's career into a wasteland of devastation.

Man, Doyle was glad he was not Hadley.

Will's hand was trembling a little as he reached to trigger the intercom button, tone cold and implacable as he ordered, "Hadley! Get in here!"

The girl sounded startled as she replied immediately, "Of course sir."

Doyle grimaced a little at the address. It was no secret that Will hated being called "sir" by anyone - subordinate, grunt or otherwise. Doyle strongly suspected the aversion stemmed from the Hoover Base and everything that had happened there. Meaning Hadley should know better.

The girl was in her late twenties, hands clasped in front of her as she entered the Colonel's office meekly. "You called for me, sir?"

Doyle watched as the muscle at the join of Will's jaw jumped, aggravation clearly sketched in the action even as Will waved a hand toward the seat across from his desk. "Sit, Hadley."

"Yes, sir," she replied, obeying quickly. For a brief moment, the girl looked unsettled . . . almost fearful as she watched Will with wide, uncertain eyes. “Is everything okay, sir?”

“No.”

If that cold word had been directed to him, Doyle would have begun planning his new career. Nothing good ever came from a tone like that in a superior officer’s voice. Will never even moved, the stillness more telling than any agitation. “Did you hear what happened yesterday?”

Her eyes widened a little more, flicking up to Doyle in silent question. He arched an eyebrow upwards in reaction, causing her to turn her attention back to her boss. She swallowed delicately and then nodded once, the gesture quiet and small. "Yes sir - your foster son was abducted from school."

“My son!”

Doyle had to repress the flinch at that sharp correction. For just a moment, his little brother lost control of his temper – and of course it came at the mere suggestion that Samonik might be anything other than Will’s son, adopted or not.

Before Hadley could make any reply, Will continued. “Do you remember taking a call from Rene yesterday?”

The girl looked alarmed now, eyes widening a small centimeter more as she stammered, "Yes sir, I . . ."

She should have left it at a simple reply. Not that it would have made any difference in the outcome of this meeting, but it might have made things a little easier. “You told him I couldn’t speak with him.”

As the already cool voice grew colder, Doyle shifted a step closer to Will. It sounded like his brother had the reins of his temper held under tight control, but the potential for him snapping seemed to be growing. “He was calling to tell me that his brother, my son had disappeared, without any explanation.” Fury flashed in those mercurial eyes of his, but his expression remained remote, as if carved from stone. “And you brushed him off . . . as though it meant nothing.”

She shifted a little in her chair, tone censorious as she protested, "Sir, you had a phone conference with the Secretary of Defense, as well as several high profile meetings here at S.H.I.E.L.D. - meetings that could not feasibly be missed! I did what I thought was appropriate; the police are there to locate kidnapped children. Abductions of civilian children – yours or otherwise - are not within the purview of this organization." After a moment, she frowned, tone stern as she insisted, "I was doing my job. Same as I have always done it."

Doyle spoke up, trying to head off the explosion at the pass. "Would it have made a difference to know, the person who abducted Sam is a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as on our most wanted list? And that the abductor in question once worked for S.W.O.R.D.? As such, the abduction is within the purview of this organization?"

Will's jaw tightened hard at the question even as Hadley reeled, utterly taken aback by the statement. The Colonel's tone was hard and cold as he insisted, "Whether it would have or not, this conversation is over. Your employment is terminated, Hadley, effective immediately. Pack your desk and get out. Seeing as you live off base, I'll have you escorted to the gates. Turn over your entry badge and all security equipment to the guards there."

"But sir!" she objected, sitting back as he growled, "My decision is final. Get out of my sight."

She stared at him in distant shock, clearly having never expected an outcome like this, before pushing herself up to her feet. "Yes sir. Shall I inform the Army or . . .?"

"I'll notify the Brass, you are in need of new employment," he conceded, tone still cold. "I'm sure there are any number of officers desperate to take you on. However, I have no further need of your services."

Her chin dipped in a brisk nod, her lips compressing for a second before she continued, "I understand, sir. Will there be anything else?"

"No, Hadley," he replied, eyes slipping closed as he took a deep breath through his nose. "Just get out . . . please."

"Yes sir," was all the girl said, slipping from the door and pulling it closed behind her.

Doyle looked down at his brother, one eyebrow cocking upwards. "Do you want me to escort her out?"

"No, I've already called for someone. They'll take her out, once she's done emptying her desk," Will replied, pulling open one of his desk drawers in search of a small bottle. Tossing back a couple of the migraine tablets, he slumped back in his chair with a heavy sigh. "She's a good attache - she's good at the Army side of the job. The S.H.I.E.L.D. side makes her panic, because the things we deal with here, can't seem to fit themselves into her worldview. She's just so painfully by the book, and unwilling to accept that anything outside the job is a worthwhile interruption."

"She married? Kids?"

"Married to the Army," Will agreed with a shake of his head. "I should have known this was going to happen. Vika's been doing the job of an assistant for all S.H.I.E.L.D. related activities for months now, while Hadley handled liaisoning to the Army." He sighed again, as he allowed, "It was never going to be a long term assignment for her, I'm afraid. I just wish it hadn't come to an end like this."

"Gonna write her a recommendation?"

"It's not her fault, that my childen are more important to me than the job she values above all else. It won't be glowing, but it will be honest about her credentials." His hand waved away the next question before Doyle could even ask it. "She'll be fine - I wasn't lying when I told her there would be people who would be more than happy to snatch her up."

"Sounds like you may have done her a favor, then?"

"Yeah and given Vika another reason to hate my guts," he agreed with a dry chuckle. "I just doubled her workload."

"Considering how much Vika loves to bury herself in administration work, I'm not sure she'll be very upset about it."

"No - you're probably right."

Doyle watched his brother for a moment, then asked, "You spoken to Marina yet?"

Will took a deep breath through his nose, then nodded. "Yes. They're waiting for the house to burn down, then they're on their way home. ETA is around noon."

The older brother was almost reluctant to ask, nervous to know whether or not the rescue team had arrived in time to save his nephew. "How's the kid?"

"It's bad," was the deadpan response. "High fever; severe lacerations in his thigh as well as a pentagram carved into the skin of his chest; he's battling one hell of an infection."

"But?"

Will smiled with a soft huff. "But he's alive. And Vincent think he's going to be okay. And frankly, that's the best news I've had in months."

"Anything you need to finish here before they get back?"

"I could work."

Doyle smirked with a roll of his eyes. "Of course you could. That's not what I asked, but all right - I'll allow it." Moving to the couch against the wall, he joked, "Is this couch any more comfortable than the other?"

Will chuckled as he dragged a file folder towards him. "Marina liked to sleep on it, when she was pregnant."

"That's not an answer," Doyle scolded, before sprawling out on it anyway. "Well, I guess we'll find out. Do your work, little brother. I'm here if you need me."

Closing his eyes, he folded his hands over his chest and focused on falling asleep quickly. He'd just about managed it when his younger brother's voice broke the stillness of the room. "Doyle?"

"Yeah Will?"

"Thank you."

The tactical leader smiled as he snuggled a little further into the cushions. "That's what big brothers are here for, Will. Isn't that what you always say?"

Will snorted lightly, before a pen began to scratch over the pages in the file. Doyle's smirk softened into a smile before he settled back again and drifted to sleep. For the moment, his brother didn't need him. But when he did, Doyle would be here . . . right where he should be.

Chapter Text


Chapter 295: Homecoming

There was a small - fairly inconsequential - part of Marina that longed to find a secluded corner of the Quinjet and cry. The rest of her was intimately aware of the fact there would not be an opportunity to confront her own emotional turmoil for quite some time. If there even would be any time at all. Currently, she sat alone beside Samonik's bed on the 'jet, holding his hand as he spoke cheerfully to an animal only he could see. His eyes were bright with fever and he hadn't looked at her but for once, when he introduced her to his puppy, "Bones". Surprisingly, the introduction was the reason for her solitude. Dean had flinched at the name of the imaginary puppy, turning away from his raving brother and finding a seat on the opposite side of the 'jet. Marina had frowned at the action, and was still frowning now, as his separation from Sam was so far from what she'd expected it was hiking up a considerable amount of alarm within her.

The Russian had almost convinced herself to leave her son to his hallucination, when he suddenly panicked. "Bones! No!'

Marina blinked, surprised, before suddenly Dean was there, his hands in his brother's hair as he forced the kid to lie still. "It's okay, Sammy; it's all right. Bones is in a good home, remember? I promised."

Sam's eyebrows rushed together as he stared up at his brother, eyes unfocused and far away as he asked, "De?"

"Yeah, Sammy, it's me. I've got you," Dean soothed, fingers smoothing carefully through the tangled, bloody strands. "You're all right - Bones is in a good home, remember? I promised I'd make sure he was taken care of. You remember?"

There was such love and trust in the eyes of the younger brother as he nodded once. "I remember. He's okay, you promise?"

Dean glanced up as Vincent suddenly materialized on the other side of the bed, needle finding its way into the port in the back of Samonik's hand, sedative pushing slowly into his veins. "Yeah, I promise. Get some rest kid - it's been a long day yeah?"

"I'm tired," the 16 year old agreed, eyes fluttering as the sedative took effect.

"I know. Close your eyes. I've got the watch, okay?"

"Love you, De."

Dean swallowed hard at the drowsy statement, before he scolded as sternly as he could manage, "Hey - what have I told you about chick flick moments, huh?"

"Shut up, Jerk."

"Make me, Bitch," Dean laughed softly, watching as the youngest Winchester lost the battle with the drugs and drifted away into sleep.

Once Samonik was out, Marina folded her arms over her chest and glared at Dean. It was obvious the 20 year old was avoiding her gaze, fussing with his brother's blankets, and the chest strap that kept him immobilized to the gurney. Finally, her patience snapped as she all but barked, "Explain to me how your brother had a dog and I'm just now finding out about it!? Did you have to give him up before you came to us - we would never have forced Samonik to give him away?"

"No, Bones was long gone by that point. It was a stray mutt Sammy found on the streets, while he was in Flagstaff," Dean replied, moving back over to his seat and determined not to discuss it any further.

Unfortunately for Dean, Marina was not in the mood to be brushed off. Her baby boy was having nightmares about something she had no frame of reference for, and if she was going to help with those nightmares once Dean was gone, she needed to know where they came from. Hot chocolate eyes narrowed as she echoed, "He?"

Dean winced at the question. He looked up at her through the fringe of his blond hair, grimacing as he replied, "I'd hoped you hadn't noticed that."

"Fat chance," she scoffed. Moving to take the seat beside him, she laid her hand on his wrist and leaned over to be able to look into his downcast features, "Dean . . . talk to me."

Dean took a deep breath in through his nose and then straightened, green eyes piercing as they met her own brown. "When Sammy was thirteen, he ran away from home."

Marina froze, blinking hard in shock at the statement. After a moment, she spoke, "Oh damn."

"Yeah, something like that," he replied with a bitter twist of his mouth. "We were in Flagstaff at the time. One day he was there, and the next . . . he just didn't come home from school. Dad was on a hunt and it was my watch - Dad was pissed to put it mildly when we finally tracked down the kid. Neither of us were sitting comfortable for at least a week by the time Dad was done with us."

Marina bit down on the inside of her lip as she leaned back against the bulkhead. Each of the younger Grimms had gotten the smooth side of her hairbrush against their backsides as children, and even Rene had gotten a taste when he was 11 and stolen candy from the grocery store. It had been a rare occurrence, reserved for only the most severe infractions. Same with her partner's use of the strap; only under the most extreme circumstances. Kenny had never gotten into the kind of trouble to warrant its use, and while Jason and Clint had both received one taste apiece, it had been sufficient to prompt both into being model children from that point forward. Barney had really been the only one who fell prey to its bite more than once.

Considering the dread and bitterness in Dean's voice, however, she was betting that John had taken a hand or belt to his sons more often than rarely. In fact, it sounded common and arbitrary. No wonder Dean sometimes flinched when Marina lost her temper with one of her boys - he was expecting a beating.

She couldn't wait to get her hands around John Winchester's neck. She was going to wring the life from him, as though he was a rat or something equally vile. It seemed that the more she learned about the hunter, the less she liked . . . and the more likely it seemed that one day she was going to either punch him, shoot him or kill him.

Her finger clutched together in her lap as she took a deep breath to calm herself. The last thing she wanted was for an explosion of temper to send Dean scurrying like a bat from sunlight. After a moment, she turned to face him. "Why did he run away?"

"I don't know? He just . . . hunting was never the life he wanted. He's always wanted to be normal. The white picket fence, two parents and a steady home." He looked up at her with heartbroken eyes, as he confessed, "Everything he gets at home with you and Will, is the one thing he considered to be the wildest dream come true."

Marina's mouth compressed as she vowed, "We're not planning to give him up, Dean. It doesn't matter how old he is, or if we ever adopt him legally, he's always going to be our boy."

"I know," the ROTC cadet agreed with a small, sad smile. "If I ever had reason to doubt, this whole experience has cured me of it. It just . . . it shines an uncomfortable light on a few things that I have always considered failures."

Almost without thought, Marina reached out to grip his chin, pulling his eyes up to meet her own. "I want you to listen to me, Dean Matthew. Where your brother is concerned, you have never failed him. He is a good kid," she claimed, putting appropriate emphasis on the last two words. "Smart and loyal and generous with his affections. You want to take a guess at where he learned them from?"

His hands clasped in front of him, knuckles turning white with the force he was exerting on his hands. Marina's hand folded over his wrist, her tone warm and proud as she vowed, "I'm so proud of you."

He blushed, his head ducking even as his ears turned pink. "I just . . ."

Her interruption was gentle but still implacable as she insisted, "You just nothing - he's a Good Kid and that's because of you. Not your father . . . YOU. Okay?"

He nodded meekly, shoulders slumping over as he shifted one hand to lay over the back of her own. "Thank you."

"You're our kid, too, you know," she reminded him. "Misha and I would adopt you in a heartbeat if we thought you would let us. But whether or not you ever take our name, you belong with us . . . here, with your family. We are always in your corner, no matter what."

He sniffled hard, leaning over to rest his temple against her shoulder as he continued to stare at a point between the toes of his boots. Marina's arms came up and around his shoulders, holding him as tightly as she could manage while the fingers of one hand smoothed tenderly through the strands of his hair. Silence reigned between them as they took comfort in each other.

Some part of her longed to tell him how much she loved him, but the larger part knew better than to tempt fate. Dean felt deeply, but expressed those same feelings rarely. To be confronted with care and affection would only earn deflection and a steady recoil back into his tortoise's shell. One day - maybe . .

After a moment, the younger teenager stirred again, causing the entire 'jet to look over in surprise. Pressing a kiss to Dean's forehead, Marina stood and approached the gurney, lowering herself to her knees and reaching up to brush back his hair. Samonik's eyes fluttered a little as his head rolled towards her. "Mom?" he murmured, eyes still foggy with drugs and his voice sounding much younger than she'd ever heard him sound before.

Joy swelled into Marina's throat, forcing her to hum a wordless agreement as she pet through his hair. He frowned, eyebrows furrowing as he asked, "Did Dean have to go back to the group home?"

Her tone was gentle and warm as she smoothed her fingers along the curve of his cheek. "No, my darling, Dean is here with us. He won't have to go back there ever again."

"You promise?" he asked plaintively. "I don't wanna have to go back to Bobby's - I wanna stay with you."

"You're not going anywhere, Samonik. You and Dean are mine now," she vowed, smoothing the pad of her thumb over the ridge between his eyebrows to smooth out the deep wrinkles there.

"I don't wanna go," he begged shifting to nuzzle into her palm.

"You're not leaving. You're staying right here with me, I promise. I'll never let anyone take you away from me, not ever again."

Apparently relieved to have gotten the answer he wanted, he slumped back against the gurney. "Kay," he breathed, sniffling once as he let his head fall back into a more natural position. "Love you, Mom."

"Love you too, baby. Go back to sleep. You're safe now," she promised, bending over him to brush back his hair and press a warm kiss to his forehead. “Sleep well, love.”

Samonik didn’t require any further coaxing. The medications he was on to keep him relaxed and sedated caught up with him and swept him away again. Standing, Marina pushed her hands into her pockets and turned back to Dean. The older brother looked pale faced, though closer inspection revealed that he was more embarrassed that upset about it. He looked up at her through his eyelashes as he insisted, “I didn’t want you to find out about that.”

“If you think I didn’t already know, you’re crazy,” she replied with a snort. He’d been with them for almost a year. Surely he knew of the family’s overall paranoia by now – at least she hoped so.

Even Will had been surprised by how easy it was for John to turn his back and go following the completion of the Blood Moon hunt. The fact that neither of the boys seemed surprised about being left behind implied it had happened before, and probably more than once. As a result, it had taken less than half a second for the couple to ask Jason to run background checks on the boys and their father, with the additional stipulation that the review be as thorough and in-depth as could feasibly be managed for two minor boys.

Dean's stint at a group home when he was sixteen years old had been in the records Jason had uncovered. The report had been vague on the wherefores, but had been clear on the fact Dean had spent two months at Sonny's Home for Boys, a small farm outside of Hurleyville, NY. Dean's grades had taken a significant uptick during the time period (something Tony had leveraged when wheedling MIT into taking the budding, if unpolished, engineer) as a result of the support he received at the farm. He'd also joined the wrestling team - Marina had seen a picture from the school where Dean was holding the trophy aloft but by all reports, the award had disappeared completely.

As for Samonik, the younger Winchester had completely fallen off grid during those two months. The complete absence of the child from any kind of public life had lead the Power Couple to assume that Sam was with John at the time. Neither of them would have put it past the hunter to simply "forget" to enroll his eleven year old in school. Based on what Samonik had just said, however, not only was that assumption incorrect, it was also something of a sore spot for the teenager.

Considering the embarrassment on Dean’s face, and the plaintive tone to Sam’s question, those two months had not been easily forgotten. Not by the boys, and not by their father. That was it; punching John Winchester was entirely too kind - she was going to have to shoot him instead.

Just then Joe came bolting through the cargo area headed for the cockpit. “Better take your seats, guys. We're landing at the airstrip - touch down in ten.”

“Is the ambulance here?” Vincent asked as he guided Marina forcibly to the harness beside Samonik.

“So is the Scary Boss - sounds like the Colonel may be more impatient for us to land than the EMTs.”

“No surprise there,” Dean replied with a fond smile. He looked awed at the statement as he continued, “Will actually gives more of a damn than Dad.”

“Speaking of John, I called him to let him know we found Samonik. No surprise, it went to voicemail - when do you think he'll call me back, shchenok?”

Dean snorted as he shook his head, knuckles white on the harness straps. “He won't. You did the hard part - as far as Dad's concerned, there isn't a reason to come out anymore.”

Marina blinked at her foster son, shocked and appalled by the statement. She barely noticed the activity around her as they prepared for landing, her mind reeling as she struggled to reconcile Dean's words with her understanding of love for your child. Shooting John Winchester was looking more and more like a mercy and far too good for him.

Finally the 'jet bumped onto the tarmac, the hydraulics squealing as the ramp in the back began to lower. As soon as it touched concrete, a dark clad figure was suddenly bolting up the ramp and making a beeline towards her. Marina smiled up at her lover as he bent to help wrestle her free, greeting him gently. “Allo Mishka.”

Allo, Marishka,” he greeted her, offering her a hand and assisting her up from her seat.

As soon as she was standing, he bent to kiss her forehead quickly then moved over to their son's gurney. Samonik's eyes were open and hazy, hazel eyes shining as Will bent over the prone frame. A brilliant smile curved the teenager's lips at the sight of him. “Hi Will,” he breathed, eyes slipping closed as Will's fingers came up to brush through the long strands.

Allo, kroshka . . . welcome home, kiddo.”

Chapter Text


Chapter 296: Pain Before Healing

Will Grimm watched the doors through which Samonik's gurney had disappeared, his right arm around Marina and the other with his phone pressed to his ear. "Is Sam home, Dad? Is he okay?" Rene demanded, sounding mildly panicked while simultaneously fending off the girls who were making their own demands behind him. "Should we come home?"

"Yes, Rene, he's home, and no, you shouldn't. He's in surgery right now, so you can't see him anyway. Stay at school, and Joe will swing by to pick you all up after school, okay?"

Inari's tone was worried as she broke into the conversation, her Wesen hearing easily allowing her to hear Will's side of the conversation. "Are you sure we shouldn't come home?"

"Yes, Inari, I'm sure. Right now, we all need you kids to stay where you're supposed to be - for our own peace of minds, if nothing else. There's been too much uncertainty over the last few days."

She sounded disappointed, but willing, as she agreed, "I understand. Will you tell him we'll come see him, as soon as we're allowed?"

"Of course," he agreed with a small smile. The Colonel had a feeling that they would need a crowbar to keep Inari away from Samonik after this.

"Thank you, Oji."

"You're welcome, Inari," he replied fondly, before insisting, "You kids should go back to class. And Rene, if you'll meet with your brother's magisters and get his homework? The less stress the kid puts on himself right now, the better."

"You really think he's going to stress about his homework?!" Dacia asked with clear horror in her tone.

Rene chuckled miserably as he agreed, "It's Sam. Of course he will. Yeah, Dad; I'm on it."

"Thank you. We'll see you kids later tonight - I'll have Joe bring you here instead of taking you home."

"Thanks, Dad, and we'll see you later. Love you."

"Your mother and I love you too, Rene. Keep your nose clean."

Rene's grin was audible through the phone as he protested, "Hey! It's me!"

Chuckling against his will, the Colonel bent to press a warm kiss to his partner's topknot, murmuring into her hair a response, "You've been spending too much time with your mother."

There was soft laughter from Rene, before the line clicked off and the phone went dead in his hand. Locking the screen, Will tucked it into his inside coat pocket, before wrapping his other arm around her as well. The Power Couple stood there together for some time, before he finally insisted, "Tell me."

"Merrick is dead - I killed him personally. We burned the body along with the house."

Will grunted, gratified to hear that as well as a little envious that he wasn't there with her to see it done. A small shrug of his shoulders shooed the feeling away and he focused back onto his lover once more. "What else?"

"I never want to hear someone I love scream like that . . . ever again," she insisted, her eyes wide and focused on one of the buttons on his shirt, though her gaze was far away. "I know we had to hurt him so he can get better. But listening to him scream . . . I would do a lot to make sure I never have to hear that from one of my children again."

He could sympathize with the feeling and any moment of envy vanished under the relief of having been spared that experience. Some part of him was aware of the gentle sway to their bodies, as he unconsciously sought to soothe her distress as she had so often alleviated his own. "What can I do?"

"I don't know," she replied, tone lost at her own inability to determine an appropriate next step.

Lips compressed in sympathy - he knew how much they both relied on their individual ability to take the best next step in order to take care of their family. Tightening his arms around her a little more, he promised, "We'll figure it out."

She choked on a soft sob as she clutched desperately at the back of his shirt, insisting, "I know."

They weren't standing there for very long, before Yulianna came into the waiting room. Her smile was small as she reached to touch Marina's shoulder, drawing the Russian's tear-stained attention. "Come . . . Vincent said to have private waiting room for you. This way - you can wait there."

"Thank you, Anna," Will replied, hand reaching out to squeezing her elbow in silent gratitude.

"Of course," she soothed, ushering them both quickly through the heavy metal doors.

Yulianna led them through the hallways in the back to a small office Will recognized as having once belonged to the former Medical Director, Patricia Wong. The capable surgeon had left S.H.I.E.L.D. Medical for a more lucrative job at a private hospital nearly a year ago, leaving Vincent to step into her shoes before anyone really noticed she was gone. The transition had been smooth and easy, and a year on things overall were better at the on base medical center.

It still wasn't anywhere he wanted to spend time, but at least it was no longer a veritable nightmare.

Marina sank into the couch against the wall, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees and eyes closed as she took several deep breaths to rein in her chaotic emotions. As for Will, he reached to catch Yulianna before she left, tone reverent as he insisted, "Thank you."

"Family first, da?" she asked with a wink.

"Spasido," he insisted again with a firm nod, before releasing her to return to work.

"Pozhaluysta," she replied before disappearing from the office again.

Coming to sit beside Marina, Will wrapped her up in his arms and leaned back against the cushions, pulling her in to lay across his chest with her ear pressed to his sternum. "Where's Dean?" he asked gently, fingers combing through her hair.

"He wanted a shower and a change of clothes," she replied softly. "I think he needed some time to rebuild those walls of his - between Brian and me, we tore a few out at the foundations."

"Good," Will snorted.

Marina giggled a little at the blunt assessment, her tone amused as she argued lightly, "He doesn't seem to think so." She sighed as his fingers found a knot at the base of her neck and began to knead, loosening the tightness there. "I think we're earning him . . . slowly, but we are."

"He's ours, Marina. It may take him some time to figure that out for himself, but that doesn't make it any less true," he promised her, tilting his head a little to be able to see the way she nibbled on her lower lip. His thumb moved to smooth over the flesh, plucking it carefully from between her teeth and earning a soft kiss to the pad for his troubles. "Also, you know Dean's policy on emotions."

She hummed in quiet acknowledgment, her fingers drawing careful circles on his stomach as she reveled in the quiet, safe place to unwind and relax for a moment. "I'm going to shoot John Winchester," she announced after a long silence, causing Will to blink in surprise.

"Okay," he drawled slowly, gathering her hair into a ponytail at the nape of her neck so he could see her profile. "I'll bite - why?"

She huffed angrily, tone vicious as she muttered, "Do I need a reason?"

"Not for me - he works for S.W.O.R.D., so he's not a civilian," he promised, before shrugging slightly, "You will need to justify yourself to the boys, though."

"Bah humbug,” she sighed with a chuckle. “They’re good kids – they still love him, even after all he’s done.”

The Colonel hummed in agreement, before asking cautiously, “What brought John Winchester to mind?”

She took a deep breath in through her nose, clearly weighing how much she wished to say before settling more comfortably into him. “Samonik called me Mom . . . more than once.” He knew she felt the sharp intake of breath under her ear, though she said nothing. Instead she just nuzzled a small inch closer and continued, “He was delirious and out of it, but . . . is it terrible of me, that I want to hear him say it again? This time, when he’s lucid and knows what he’s saying?”

“No - title or not . . . adoption or not . . .," he paused, cuddling her closer. "Marishka, samaya malen'kaya, he's still your kid. And I have it on good authority that every mother anxiously awaits the day their child calls them 'mom'."

"I'm not sure he counts," she chuckled with a small smile. "He's a little older than the girls are."

"Not really the point though, is it?" he asked in gentle reply.

She sighed, Will grinning as he watched her eyes roll back in frustration. After a moment, she shook her head as she insisted, "He's not going to call me that again, though."

"Maybe not, but you never know. If he's saying it now, that means he's thinking it. And you know how Sam's brain works - if he's thinking about it, eventually he's going to say something about it."

Marina chuckled in agreement. "Good point."

"Just be patient with him. When Winchester gets here, we'll . . ." he trailed off as Marina suddenly went as stiff as a board against him. Frowning, he nudged her upwards until he could look into her face. "Marishka . . . what do you know, that I don't know?"

She stared at him, her eyes hard and angry as she dragged deep breaths in through her nose to try and call down. Finally, she hissed, "Dean says he's not coming," her tone like water on hot lava.

Will couldn't help it - he jerked backwards away from her in surprise. "Why the hell not!?"

"Because we have Sam back. And he doesn't have to come back, because - to quote Dean - 'we did the hard part'."

The couple stared at each other for a moment before Will swore . . . violently, in at least three different languages. Shoving himself to his feet, he paced back and forth across the small office, long legs eating up the space in quick, angry strides. "That bastard! I'll shoot him myself!" Rounding on his lover, he demanded sharply, "Tell me you're kidding."

"I can't," she replied, eyes wide and sad as she watched him. "I wish I could . . . but I can't."

Will's hands reached up to scrub over his face, a laundry list of things he'd like to do to John Winchester cycling through his brain. He turned as the door creaked, indicating the arrival of someone else. Shoulders slouching a little at the sight of Dean standing there, Will was only distantly conscious of the fact this was the first time the two had seen each other since their fight. Forcing a small smile, he greeted the kid gently, "Hey Dean."

Marina's hands hung from her wrists as she braced her elbows on her knees, her tone more pragmatic as she inquired, "How much did you hear?"

Dean's lips twisted as he shook his head. His hands shoved into his pockets as he looked Will square in the face, and announced, "She's not kidding . . . and I'm not wrong. He's not coming."

There was an open wound in those emerald eyes, displaying a vulnerability the Colonel had never seen from him before. It was in drastic contrast to the stoic set of his features, the kid trying so hard to be aloof and unfeeling in the presence of the couple. Will couldn't help the reaction he had - he swore.

Instantly, Dean flinched.

Will sighed, feeling sadness and guilt well up in his gut at the unconscious action from the teen. If he didn't already suspect Winchester of being abusive, that probably confirmed it for him. Moving to stand with his son at the door, he couldn't avoid the way the cadet watched him warily - visibly terrified (and trying not to show it) that Will was going to take a hand to him.

The Colonel was starting to think Marina was on to something, with shooting the asshole. And he wasn't sure he cared about justification any more at this point.

He was conscious to move slowly and clearly as he reached to lay a hand on his son´s shoulder. As soon as his fingers squeezed that muscled shoulder, Dean´s face cracked open like an egg. A veritable firestorm of emotion made itself known in an instant, before it was gone just as quickly. Even having reminded Marina of Dean´s aversion to outpourings of emotion and displays of affection, Will still used the grip he had on the cadet´s shoulder to pull him for a strong hug.

Instantly Dean protested, hands coming up as he sputtered out a mumbled protest. Will just held him tighter, insisting firmly, "You're the only one of my sons I can hug for the moment, so deal with it."

The kid jolted in his arms, before his arms came around Will's waist like a band of iron as his face buried in his shoulder. Will’s fingers trailed through the blond strands as he promised, “It’s all right . . . everything is going to be all right now.”

Chapter Text


Chapter 297: Companions

Dean Winchester wasn’t sure what had happened to the life he’d once known.

Of course, he knew what had happened; but actually reconciling that with where he was now was an entirely different story altogether. He sat next to his brother's hospital bed, watching the younger Winchester sleep off the sedatives Vincent had given him prior to his surgery. Some part of him was impatient to have Sammy wake up, so he could see him for himself, while the rest of him just wanted the kid to get better.

Emerald green eyes scanned over the long, lanky frame while the beeping from the monitor kept time with his heartbeat. The thigh had been thickly bandaged, currently propped up by a truly obscene number of pillows. There was a bandage peeking from the neck of his hospital gown, covering the pentagram Merrick had carved into his chest as well. He’d been meticulously cleaned and his hair cut (Dean was selfishly looking forward to seeing his little brother’s reaction to his shorter hairstyle. Sammy was notoriously protective of his shaggy locks and Dean enjoyed teasing him about them.)

Granted, the ugly looking cut they’d trimmed his hair away from put paid to any satisfaction. Of course Sammy – the girl that he was - would worry if Dean didn’t try to give him grief. Ergo Dean was going to have to at least pretend. He could tell already – this was going to be the hardest con job of his life.

"Dean?" came a gentle voice from the other side of the bed, his Russian foster mother watching him with cautious hot chocolate eyes. "Brian's coming back with some food - any preferences on what you'd like?"

Any other time, Dean would have a ready answer - a big, juicy burger and a slice of pie. Right now, he could barely muster up the inclination to shake his head. "No thank you," he replied with a small shake of his head. "I’m not hungry."

Marina's eyes saddened, as she protested lightly, "Honey . . ."

A hand appeared on her shoulder, Will's head shaking as he guided the woman back into her seat on Sammy's other side. "That's fine, Dean. I'll have Bri bring you a burger and some French fries. You can eat when you're in the mood."

A blink was his startled response - he hadn't thought he'd get away with the deflection. But it was apparent from the look in his foster father's eyes, he'd been in a situation like this before. Forcing a small, brief smile, Dean agreed quietly, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," the Colonel replied with a tight, uncomfortable looking smile. After a moment, he turned his attention back to Marina. It was clear, the Russian had thoughts on the matter as she hissed at her lover in quiet Russian.

He wasn't entirely sure when watching his foster parents had become a favored pastime, but he loved to watch the two. The eldest of his foster brothers told him he'd fallen prey to the same thing when he'd first joined the family, too. Will and Marina’s outward dynamic and private relationship was a fascinating study in human relations (damned required psych course - he was protesting as soon as he got back to school).

According to every rumor Dean had ever heard since joining the family, Colonel Will Grimm was a cold, hard-ass son of a bitch. There were ice floes in his veins and a glacier for a heart. He never smiled, never laughed, and claimed possession for kindness with only his brothers, his children and his partner. (Surprisingly, Will’s relationship with Marina left most people unsure of the exact levels of their affection for each other; as a rule, the couple was traditionally all business in public and saved their affection for behind closed doors. It apparently threw full-fledged spies for a veritable loop.)

It had colored his perception of the man unfairly. He'd expected Will to be as bad - if not worse - than John Winchester had been when it came to the kind of father he would be. As a result, he'd been practically belligerent in the first week, at which time Tony Stark had grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him to MIT . . . and away from Sammy.

To be frank about it, he'd been a dick to Will, overly protective of his little brother and a total jackass about trying to protect Sammy from him.

Of course, then he'd seen Will with his two daughters and his son, Rene, and that theory had flown through the window like a punted football. Will adored his kids, completely and without reservation. To say that his children had him wrapped around their pinky fingers, would have been an egregious understatement. (Geez, listen to him - using actually SAT, college-level, "nerd words". He used to give his brother shit for this, and now he was as bad as Sammy.)

When he'd fought with the Colonel prior to going after Sam - when the man had taken his car keys and all but forbidden him from going after his little brother alone, he'd thought that was it. Justification for every concern he'd ever had. It had been an ugly fight, and frankly he'd gotten off easy with Marina when she'd scolded him later that evening on the Quinjet.

However, the first thing Will had done when they'd seen each other again was to hug him. Dean had been struggling, trying to keep his calm under the stoic veneer his father had pounded into him, but somehow the older man had seen straight through him. He'd gripped Dean's shoulder firmly, then pulled him into a warm hug; when Dean had tried to fight him on, Will had offered him the only excuse he would accept to allow the embrace.

"You're the only one of my sons I can hug for the moment, so deal with it."

The cadet snorted soundlessly at the reminder of how he'd crumpled into the embrace. Some part of him was still shocked by his own shock - he'd seen the way Will touched and hugged and loved on his kids for eleven months. It shouldn't have even been a surprise anymore. And yet, every time Will confirmed the fact he considered Dean to be one of His Kids, Dean continued to feel that little jolt of shock to be included among their number.

He loved getting hugs from Marina - the Russian was such a Mom he couldn't resist her affection. When he'd first come to them, he'd tried to resist her and failed miserably in the attempt. She hadn't even felt guilty for it, when he'd started seeking her affections instead of avoiding them altogether. She’d crowed quietly in her victory, and loved on him as much – or as little – as he would allow at any given moment.

His older foster brother was quiet but emphatic about his devotions. He gave them out as a squeeze to the back of the neck, an arm slung around Dean's shoulders or a playful punch to the bicep. These were the displays of affection Dean knew and understood, and so he responded to them in kind. He wished he could claim to be surprised when he grew close to Sam, however it hadn’t really been a surprise at all. Instead, the cadet reveled in having a big brother of his own, someone he could confide in and who he knew was always going to have his back.

Rene was a firebrand, but he was fiercely loyal. The two high schoolers had made friends quickly, almost instantly becoming friends. By all reports, with the addition of the two Wesen girls the family brought home at the end of last year, the Fearsome Foursome (and there was an apt name, if Dean had ever heard one) had taken up firm ownership of their school. Sam was not the popular kid everyone fawned over, but he was one of the intimidating ones you didn't mess with or you suffered the consequences. Frankly, Dean was hella proud of him.

As for the family’s leader, the Colonel was more reticent in his expressions of love and devotion. Which was not to say that those expressions were not as fervent as those of the rest of his family. They were simply in keeping with the man himself - small and effusive, with deep feeling and clear meaning behind them. No matter how small the gesture, however, the receipt of such an act was always guaranteed to lift the spirits of the recipient.

Dean smiled gently at the reminder of Will's opinion of an apology. After he'd released the cadet from the hug, the man offered Dean back his keys with a sheepish smile. The man's confession that Jason had tweaked her engines to give her a S.H.I.E.L.D.-style overhaul, and that Aaron had been given the task of detailing her, had been the best gift the teenager had ever received. A small part of him longed to take Baby for a spin and see what Jason had done, while the rest of him was inexorably pinned to this chair. He wasn't moving - not until Sammy woke up and he could see for himself that his little brother was okay.

A soft knock on the door brought Dean's head around, staring at the door with wide, hopeful eyes. He knew his father wasn't coming, but that didn't mean he wasn't also hoping John Winchester wouldn't prove him wrong. At least once in his life.

Will stood from his seat on the armrest of Marina's chair, moving to the door and pulling it open carefully. Owen Elliott stood there, with his arms folded over his chest and giving his best friend a fierce look. "You wanna tell me why I'm only just now finding out that your kid was abducted from school, Boss?"

"You were on assignment, Lucky," Will reminded him, stepping into the hallway and pulling the door half-closed behind him. "I didn't want to bother you."

"Boss, I don't know how many times I have to drill this through your brain. Your family is my family - if something happens to OUR family, I want to know about it. Mission be damned," the younger man protested lightly.

"My officer's training is arguing with you," the Colonel replied with a soft chuckle, "even as I concede the point. How was your assignment?"

"Sinking slowly into the Baltic. No problems there," was the flippant response, drawing Dean's attention with a small frown. The cadet knew that Owen's job was a Cleaner, but apparently that was a more vague job description than was truly accurate. Lucky sounded worried as he asked, "How's the kid?"

"He's gonna be hurting for a while, but he's going to be okay. That's the part I'm focusing on right now."

"What about the asshole who took him?"

Will's tone was cold as he answered the question, "Marina took care of it."

"She cleaned the site herself?"

"Burned the house to the ground, with the body inside."

"That's the Boss Lady I know and love," the Cleaner chuckled with a grin. Shifting out of view of the door, Dean heard the rustling around of fabric as he insisted, "Go be with your son, Boss. I got the watch."

"Luck . . ." Will protested mildly, tone a clear indication that he didn't expect his protest to amount to a change though he was attempting anyway.

"I'm going to stop you there, Boss-Man. You'd do it for me - it's the least I can do for you."

The two men watched each other for a long time, each one determined to see the other capitulate to their line of thinking. But Dean could see the way Will's shoulders started to sag - as much as he didn't want to take what little free time Owen allowed himself away from his best friend, there was a significant part of him relieved to know that he wasn't going to have to worry about security while he was focusing on his family. "All right, Lucky. I give."

"Damn right you do. Stubborn bastard you may be, but I can and will out-stubborn even you about protecting this family. And you know it," Owen crowed with a wicked grin. "Go on - I got this."

A soft groan came from the direction of the bed, muffled under the oxygen mask, the sound pulling the attention of everyone like a moth to a flame. Owen smiled gently, pushing his best friend back into the room as he insisted, "Your son needs you, Boss." Cornflower blue eyes pinned Dean in place as he continued, "Both of them do."

Another soft sound came from the younger Winchester and Dean was on his feet in a heartbeat, bending over the bed and staring into his brother's face. "Easy, Sammy - I'm here. You're safe . . . we both are."

Dazed hazel eyes fluttered as his little brother struggled awake, a soft mumbling the only sound the kid could manage. "De?" he slurred, fingers groping across the sheets.

"Yeah, Sammy, it's me." Relief swelled in Dean, twisting to look up as a hand came to fold over his shoulder. "We've gotcha."

Will was standing there with him, other hand coming to rest on the younger Winchester's knee. Marina had taken her place on the other side of the bed, holding on to Sam's other hand and smiling at him fondly as she insisted, "Hey Samonik. Welcome home, honey."

Sam's eyes blinked slowly as he forced a small smile, tone absent as he insisted, "Good to be home."

Dean chuckled, "I'll just bet. Go back to sleep, little brother. Owen's got the watch and we're not going anywhere."

Chapter Text


Chapter 298: Big Brother's Home

Sam Grimm knew it was very late. Furthermore, if he was anyone else - and visiting anyone else - not even Miranda or Anna would turn a blind eye to his arrival during the small hours of the morning. Fortunately, both of the family's favorite nurses knew who was still installed within their halls, and Anna only smiled as she folded her arms on the top tier of the nurses' desk. "Ah . . . Big Brother to Rescue, da?"

"Yes, indeed . . . finally," the blond sighed with a frown.

He paused at the desk, offering both of his favorite nurses – the only two nurses he actually liked - two of the coffees he carried. Miranda grinned at him, wagging her finger playfully as she teased, "Bribery is illegal, you know."

"Is it truly bribery? Or it doing something nice for someone you respect and adore?" he asked with a cheeky grin and a playful wag of his eyebrows.

"Flatterer," Anna scoffed with a bright grin, even as she took a healthy sip.

His wink was broad as he bent to press a kiss to each of their cheeks. "You're both amazing, ladies!"

The two nurses exchanged fond looks, before Miranda reached for the button that would allow the sniper back through the doors. "The kid'll be happy to see you. He's still a little out of it, but he's been showing more instances of lucid thinking over the last 24 hours."

"How bad was it?" he asked, staying put even as the doors swung open, serious eyes fixed on the Head Nurse - a far cry from his playful mien a second before.

"The scarring on his chest is going to be permanent. We did the best we could to try and reduce it, but . . ." Miranda trailed off with a sigh as she shook her head. "The cuts were just too deep. If he wants to go forward with plastic surgery, we'll figure it out. But that's up to Sam and your parents."

Anna shrugged as she insisted, "His father has not come."

"Winchester!?" Sam asked with a frown. 'Really!? Has he been informed?"

"Marina was on a hell of a rant about it yesterday. Apparently, between the two of them, the man's ignored 15 calls," Miranda replied. "And that's not counting the calls we've placed, either."

"I knew the man was an asshole, but he is really looking to prove the point apparently," Sam grunted with a roll of his eyes. "How's Dean?"

"Your mom took him home to sleep. He was getting a little . . . belligerent, with a couple of the orderlies."

Blond brows furrowed as the sniper asked, "Why?"

"Sam is still in a lot of pain, but we don't want to let the wound in his thigh fester either. Dean got upset with some of them, because during bandage changes and irrigation of the wound, they were less than gentle. Dr. Keller's already reprimanded the orderlies in question and reassigned them elsewhere, but . . ."

"Right. Well then, I guess I'll see him in the morning," he agreed with a downward tug to his lips. He'd been hoping to catch the older Winchester, to try and get the cadet to talk before he exploded under the pressure of his own emotions. Apparently he'd been too late to prevent that from happening. Running a hand back through his hair, he asked, "Who's in with Samonik?"

"Your dad," Miranda replied with a smile. "Your parents were worried that sending Dean home alone wouldn't result in anything actually happening. So the Colonel stayed with Sam while your mom went home with Dean, to get him to bed and check on the girls. Tomorrow night, they'll switch."

"This has happened a couple times then, huh?"

Anna snorted as she insisted, “You have missed all the fun.”

The other nurse’s eyes rolled as she agreed, "I’m not sure I’d call it fun. Dean’s been on a hair trigger, the poor kid. Fortunately, Sam seems to be pretty out of it for the most part. But he feels the pain, even if he's not remembering it later."

Sam hummed in understanding; he knew how that went better than he liked to remember. He had been completely out of it, after his unit had rescued him from the Taliban during his last tour, but Matt had recounted a couple of times the way he'd screamed while they'd been carrying him out.

Fortunately, Sam didn't remember any of it. From what Matt had said, if the gods were kind, he never would.

Shaking away the memories, the sniper forced himself to focus back on Miranda. "How does Dad seem?"

"Tired. A little frazzled. He's worried about your brother, but there's also the relief over having him home."

"Sounds like Dad. And Ma?"

"She's just grateful Sam is home; that Dean and Rene are both within arm's reach and that you have been calling every day to check in." Miranda replied with a small smile. "She'll be happy to see you. It means all of her sons are within her reach."

Sam's mouth twisted, his brain supplying the silent contradiction, Well, not all of them. Nodding in outward agreement to the statement, the blond made a mental note to reach out to Cassian. With any luck, the kid could wiggle in a call to their parents; Samonik had been kidnapped and getting him back was definitely a load off their minds, but another of their sons was working almost directly under Swordsman's nose. To have heard from ALL of their children would be of considerable help to them both at this time.

Taking a deep breath in, he flashed the women his brightest smile. "I'm gonna go keep Dad company. Thank you, ladies - your company has been most appreciated, as always."

"You're a terrible flirt," Miranda laughed with a shake of her head.

Wagging his eyebrows at her, he teased, "Does that mean you're finally going to divorce Rafe and run away with me?"

"Get outta hea'," she laughed, some of her native Jersey accent peeking through.

"Love you, Miranda!" he laughed, avoiding the pen she threw at his head.

"Yeah yeah," was the giggling reply, earning a sigh in reply from the younger nurse, "He is very handsome."

"You're new," the older woman agreed, "you'll learn. All the Grimms are handsome; it's in their genes, adopted or otherwise."

"He is adopted? He does not act so," Anna protested with a frown. "No wonder the Sova is so protective."

Sam chuckled as Miranda burst into a torrent of laughter. "Oh Anna . . . you have no idea."

One hand already in the air, he used the other to open the door to his little brother's room, then watched as his father jolted from a light doze to his feet, gun in hand and aimed perfectly at Sam’s head. The blond’s smile was small as he joked, “Hey Dad. I come in peace?”

The cold look faded from the Colonel's eyes seconds before the gun lowered. A solid blue ring formed around the icy grey, before swallowing the grey within it as it widened rapidly. The sniper's name was practically a sigh as Will stepped forward to embrace his son. "Sammichka."

The younger blond accepted the hug firmly, feeling the tired trembling in his father's shoulders and the small tremors from the adrenaline rush. "Sorry it took me so long. I got here as fast as I could."

"I know," Will promised, squeezing just a fraction tighter before stepping backwards again. "How are Jules and Sadie?"

"Jules is good. A little ragged from the constant shifts, but she's good." After a moment, his smile grew as he joked, "And I don't think you have the time to sit and listen to me expound on the awesomeness of my Bug."

Will chuckled as he conceded, "Maybe not this exact second, but once your brother is awake, he'll be equally as eager to hear about his niece as I am to hear about my granddaughter."

"I will keep that in mind," he laughed with a grin.

Looking towards the bed at the sound soft of his name, the blond smiled to see the younger Winchester awake, though with heavy eyes. He reached out to squeeze his father's shoulder and guided him firmly back into his chair, before moving to the bed. Samonik's eyes watched him carefully as Sam moved to the bedside, before one hand unfurled beside him in clear, unspoken invitation. Sam reached to take the hand, then bent to press a firm kiss to the top of the younger brother's head. "Hey, kiddo. How you feeling?"

"You're here?" he asked, blinking frantically and clearly trying to keep himself awake.

"Yeah, I'm here. Close your eyes, kiddo. I'll still be here when you wake up."

"You promise?" he asked, as his eyes started to roll a little, the teenager clearly losing his battle with unconsciousness and equally as unwilling to lose without a fight.

"Yeah, I promise."

Samonik took a deep breath in through his nose, then forced himself to open his eyes wide. "Look after Dean . . . for me?"

The older Sam chuckled, amused as always by the fierce devotion between these two brothers. "You got it. I've got the watch, little brother. Get some rest."

"Kay. Thank you for coming."

"Wild horses couldn't keep me away."

The teenager’s smile was tired and wan as he allowed his eyes to slip closed, then fell to sleep once more. Without releasing the teenager's hand, Sam hopped up onto the edge of the bed and turned stern eyes on his father. Will looked pale and tired, even more so than usual, and the sniper felt a surge of concern at the way the older man all but slumped in his chair. His teeth nibbled lightly on the inside of his lip for a moment, before asking, "How you doing, Dad?"

To his credit, the Colonel didn't even attempt to lie. "I'm tired."

"Yeah, that I can see for myself. I'm pretty sure I've seen printer paper darker than you, Dad," Sam scolded, earning a half-hearted glare though there was no heat behind it. "Come on, it's me."

The man's head dropped against the back of his chair, eyes warring between colors as he peered at his son through his lashes. After a moment, Will's eyes rolled as he conceded, "You're lucky you're one of the only three people who can pull that argument."

Sam winked as he joked, "I promise not to tell." Sobering, he leaned forward on his elbow, his free hand coming up to brace his chin. "So, when was the last time you ate?"

"Brian brought food around 5 or so."

"That's not what I asked, Dad."

Those eyes rolled as he grumbled, before confessing, "It's been awhile."

"Dad!" Sam blurted, translating that from Will-speak into normal-speak easily enough. "All right. Where was Ma when this happened?"

"She'd already taken Dean home."

"Of course she had," he grunted, throwing his hands into the air in frustration. He wasn't sure why he was surprised, but he jabbed a finger at his father and announced, "I'm gonna tattle to Ma," anyway.

"I know," Will agreed with a small smile. "She's gonna scold my ear off, I think."

"You'll be lucky if that's ALL she does." Glancing around the room, he took in a discarded scrunchie – he’d bet his paycheck it belonged to Inari - wrapped around Samonik's wrist, as well as a stack of homework - Rene's contribution, Sam was sure - on the bedside table. "The kids came to visit?"

"Yeah, after school," was the quiet agreement. "Samonik was happy to see them, but he couldn’t stay awake for very much of their visit. They’ll come back again tomorrow after school."

"Good, I’m glad they were able to stop by. It’ll help keep his spirits up.”

“Agreed, which is why Vincent allowed them to stay as long as they did. But eventually, he kicked them out so Samonik could get some rest. He’s really wiped out.”

“That's normal. He went through an ordeal - I'm sure his stamina is shot at this point."

Will’s eyebrow cocked upwards at the matter-of-fact insistence, causing Sam to blush a little. If anyone knew the reality of what his younger brother had gone through, it was eldest Grimm. Chuckling, his father winked fondly, then agreed, "That's what Vincent said. Apparently, he's doing a lot better than Vincent expected, but it's still going to be another week before he's even thinking about leaving Medical, let alone going back to school."

"You considered counseling before he goes back?"

"Yep - he's fighting it, when he's awake enough to put forth the energy. But Marina and I are both insistent on it. I think Marina's gonna try to get Dean on our side about it; see if Dean can help change his mind."

The sniper hummed in quiet understanding, before asking carefully, "Want me to talk to him about it?"

Will's eyes cracked open as he turned his head just enough to be able to watch his oldest son fidget at his own suggestion. After a moment, the Colonel closed his eyes once more, shaking his head. "No. You had our own traumas to work through, Sammichka. Some of them, you're still working through - he doesn't need to be poking at still bleeding wounds, da?"

"If it would help him . . .?" he hedged, watching his father carefully even as relief flooded through him at the refusal.

"It won't."

Sam sagged, eyes slipping closed at the firm - final - denial. "So what can I do?"

"Vincent wants to get Sam up on his feet tomorrow. Dean's being . . ." here the officer paused, trying to consider the best description, before giving it up as a bad job. "He's resisting the idea because he doesn't want to hurt his brother."

"Getting him on his feet will help him heal faster," Sam protested, frowning at the elder Winchester's reasoning.

"Yeah . . . and it's going to hurt."

"Geez," Sam groaned with a roll of his eyes. "Winchester is an asshole - I would have thought that was at least one lesson he'd imparted on his children."

"I'm getting the impression this is probably the first time Samonik's ever been the one in the hospital bed. Dean's having a little bit of a crisis about it."

A soft snort was the eldest brother's thoughts on the matter. "You don't say. Miranda was telling me that he went off on an orderly?"

"A couple of them, actually," was the dry, resigned tone. "I swear, we're going to have to completely re-staff Medical at the rate we're going. Grant got six orderlies fired or reassigned; two have been reassigned after they hurt Samonik during bandaging; Vincent fired at least twenty orderlies and three medical assistants when he took over for Patty; and your PTSD and violent reaction to needles put paid to another two orderlies AND three MAs."

Sam sniggered at the withering look he earned from his father. "Oops?"

"Wasn't your fault," Will snarked with a roll of his eyes. "What I need is someone I can put into HR who actually has a brain, an intimate knowledge of the family and basic common sense."

“One day, that person will actually exist, Dad,” Sam snarked with a roll of his eyes.

Sam could see his own disbelief reflected in his father’s face, just before Will smirked. His tone was amused but skeptical as he replied, “One can only hope.”