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Fight the Good Fight

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Fight the Good Fight
By JJJunky

 

The words blurred, making it impossible for Bobby to interpret them. It didn't help that the book was written in Portuguese. Not one of his stronger languages. He rubbed his eyes, trying to clear them. He wouldn't let his weakness hinder his search. One of these books had to have a spell or incantation that would keep Dean from going to Hell. All Bobby had to do was keep looking and not give up.

When his cell phone rang, he was tempted to ignore it and let it go to voice mail. But more often than not when someone called him it was because they had a problem needing his immediate assistance. Flipping the phone open, he growled, "What?"

"Bobby?"

"Dean." Bobby could hear the pain in the younger man's voice, but there was something else there that scared him even more.

"I want . . . say goodbye."

"Your year isn't up yet," snapped Bobby.

"Hurt . . . bad."

Refusing to accept that whatever was going on with Dean could mean the end, Bobby demanded, "Where are you?"

"Can't . . . help."

"Dean," Bobby put more authority into his voice, knowing that obeying orders had been drilled into Dean at a young age. "Tell me where you are."

"Minnesota."

Forcing himself to ignore the cracking voice, Bobby asked, "Where in Minnesota?"

"Canby."

As soon as the word left Dean's lips, Bobby was pulling up the city's website on his computer. As he retrieved another phone, he pressed for more information. "Dean, where in Canby are you?"

"Does it . . . matter?"

"Tell me!"

"Construction site . . . edge o' town."

Bobby dialed the emergency number he had found on the city's website. As soon as someone answered, he said, "I'm calling from South Dakota, I have a friend on the other line who says he's at a construction site in your town. He sounds hurt."

"Can you give me any more details, sir? There are a number of buildings under construction or renovation," said the operator.

"He says it's at the edge of town."

"I'll alert emergency services, but if you could get more information it would be very helpful."

Bobby turned his attention back to Dean, interrupting the boy's rambling. "Dean, can you give me any names on the building or the streets closest to you?"

"Reynolds."

"Does Reynolds mean anything to you?" Bobby asked the operator.

"Yes, sir. Our teams are on the way. Do you know where your friend is located within the construction site?"

Dropping the phone he'd had pressed to his left ear, Bobby spoke into the one on his right. "Dean, where in the building are you?"

"On the floor."

"What floor?" When silence met his request, Bobby asked, "Where's Sam? Can you put him on the phone?"

"Can't. Dead."

For a moment, Bobby couldn't speak, there was no air in his lungs to allow him to respond. Finally, he gasped, "How?"

"Damn . . . spirit threw . . . him off."

"What floor are you on?" Despite his grief, Bobby still hoped he could save one of the brothers. Though, that had not gone well before.

"Doesn't . . . matter."

"It does matter, Dean," argued Bobby. "Help is on its way."

"Don' t help."

Hearing the sound of sirens in the background, Bobby growled, "Well you're getting it whether you want it or not."

"Bye, Bobby."

Before Bobby could say another word, the connection was severed. Barely able to keep himself from throwing the phone against the wall, Bobby put it in his pocket and grabbed his car keys. Canby was only a couple hours away. He could be there faster than he could get answers over the phone.

***

On the outskirts of Canby, Bobby slowed to five miles over the speed limit and glanced at the map on the passenger seat. He had circled the hospital in red so it was easy to see, even in the dim light provided by the morning sun. Reading the sign for the street he was on, he pulled off the road so he could find the fastest route to his destination.

Once he had the street names memorized, he pulled back into traffic, if you called a single car driving in the opposite direction "traffic". It was hard not to press the gas pedal to the floor, but he knew he couldn't help Dean from jail. Though, considering what had transpired the last time Sam had died, Bobby wasn't hopeful he would do better a second time around. He had to keep his focus on Dean. Whenever he let his thoughts drift to Sam, grief almost overwhelmed him. He couldn't lose it. It wouldn't do himself or Dean any good.

He pulled into the hospital parking lot and quickly exited the car. Following the signs to the Emergency entrance, he went through the sliding doors and looked for the reception desk. As he approached the middle-aged nurse filling out the inevitable paperwork, Bobby realized he didn't know what names the boys had been using. To hide his ignorance, he amped-up his emotions. It wasn't difficult.

"Please," he breathlessly addressed the nurse, "I was told my nephew was hurt."

The woman looked down at a clipboard near her elbow. "His name?"

"Dean. It happened at a construction site."

"Ah, yes," the nurse said. "We admitted two young men from that accident. Dean Page is on his way up to surgery. That's on the third floor."

Bobby turned away, taking a step toward the elevator.

"And Sam Burrell's in Trauma Room Two," finished the woman.

"What!" Bobby swiveled so suddenly, he nearly fell on his face.

With an admirable display of patience, the nurse repeated, "Sam is in Trauma Room Two."

"He's alive?" Bobby knew it was a dumb question even as he asked it. There was no reason for the woman to lie. But shock sometimes made you say stupid things.

"According to my records, his injuries are not life-threatening."

Bobby managed to squeak out a thank you as he turned and rushed to Trauma Room Two. He saw two policemen at the end of the hall, but barely registered their presence or acknowledged their protest as he entered the room. As soon as he saw the body laying on the gurney, long legs hanging off the end, he stopped and stared. The slow rise and fall of the patient's chest made Bobby's throat tighten and his eyes water. Even with this proof, it wasn't until he put a hand on Sam's arm and felt warm flesh that he truly believed the boy was alive.

"Sir," a policeman called from the open door, "you shouldn't be in here."

"He's my nephew."

"And he's our prisoner. He's under arrest for trespassing and murder."

Unable to take his eyes off Sam's lax face, Bobby said, "I'm not going to help him escape. I just want to see him. I thought he was dead."

"He'll live," a doctor quietly assured, entering the room and frowning at the policeman. "But he won't be in shape to do much of anything for several days, so you can relax, Fred. Your prisoner won't be going anywhere."

Fred pulled the handcuffs off his belt and hooked one end to Sam's right wrist and the other to the gurney. "I don't like to take chances."

Barely controlling his anger, Bobby focused on the doctor. "How badly is Sam hurt, Doc?"

"Doctor Griffith." The physician introduced himself before continuing. "He has a concussion, a broken left collar bone, bruised ribs, and a badly bruised spine. He'll be hurting for a while, but unless there are complications, he should make a full recovery."

"Do you know anything about my other nephew, Dean?"

The doctor shook his head. "Not much. I just know they're prepping him for surgery."

A horrible fear sucking the warmth from his body, Bobby asked, "He knows his brother's still alive, doesn't he?"

"Not as far as I know. Both boys were unconscious when they were brought in. According to their ID's they have different last names. We didn't know they were brothers."

Since there was a simple explanation, Bobby didn't bother to voice it, more interested in reaching Dean before he went into surgery. "Can I see Dean?"

"He won't know you're there."

"Please. I have to see him before they operate."

The doctor shrugged. "Follow me."

Almost treading on the man's heels, Bobby stayed close as an elevator was summoned and they went up to the third floor. He knew if he didn't see Dean before he went under the knife, there was a good chance the boy wouldn't survive. As far as Dean was concerned if Sam was dead there was no reason to keep going. After all, he only had three months left before he went to Hell. Why wait? Life without Sam would only be a different kind of Hell.

The elevator doors opened and the two men stepped out. "Hold on a minute."

Bobby looked up at Griffith's call. Two orderlies were pushing a gurney into what Bobby assumed was an operating room.

"This is Mr. Page's uncle, he would like to see his nephew before you take him in," said Griffith.

The orderly at the foot of the bed frowned but nodded. "Be quick about it."

The request was unnecessary. There was nothing Bobby wanted to do more than see Dean. Though, when he got close, he faltered. Dean was so pale it looked as though he had no blood left in his body. His freckles were the only color left on his face. Bobby had seen enough dead bodies to know how close Dean was to checking out.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Bobby leaned close to Dean's ear and in a voice only loud enough for him to hear, he whispered, "Sam's alive, Dean. You have to fight. Sam's not dead."

"We gotta go," growled the orderly, pushing the bed through the swinging doors.

Bobby let his fingers slide along the edge of the gurney, keeping contact for as long as possible before it disappeared. Fight, he silently implored Dean. Fight.

***

When Bobby returned to the first floor, he found Sam had been moved. The hospital wasn't big, so he had no trouble finding him. When he entered the room, he saw Sam in the bed furthest from the door. It seemed fitting. The other bed was empty as if waiting for Dean. Bobby chose to take that as a good sign.

With a resigned sigh, he pulled a chair next to Sam's bed and sat down. Seeing Sam's handcuffed arm hanging awkwardly from the bed's railing, Bobby softly swore. Apparently, Policeman Fred still wasn't taking any chances. Bobby was tempted to take the cuffs off, but he knew his skill at picking locks was better kept to himself, at least for the moment. The necessity of a quick getaway wasn't out of the question.

Nurses came in periodically to check on Sam, performing tests and writing the results on a chart. Bobby would ask if they had any news concerning Dean, but the answer was always "no".

When Fred and his partner appeared, Bobby stiffened, letting his disapproval show. He lightly gripped Sam's uninjured shoulder, showing his support.

"Has he woken up, yet?" asked Fred.

Bobby spoke succinctly. "No."

"We need to talk to him as soon as he does."

"If he wakes up," Bobby emphasized, trying to remind the man that Sam was badly injured, "we'll let the doctor decide when you can talk to him."

Frowning, Fred rounded the end of the bed and studied Sam's face. "There have been a number of mysterious deaths at the construction site where we found your nephews. They have a lot of explaining to do."

"I can assure you, they had nothing to do with those deaths."

The other deputy said, "This is a small town, Mr. Singer --"

"So, you automatically peg strangers as killers?"

"No, of course not," the deputy stuttered.

Fred rescued his partner. "As I said, we need to talk to your nephews as soon as possible."

"And until you do," Bobby shook the handcuffs, "you're assuming the worst."

"I told you, we're just taking precautions."

"It appears more like guilty until proven innocent," snarled Bobby.

When the unnamed deputy took an angry step toward Bobby, Fred intervened. "We'll be close by. Don't do anything stupid, Mr. Singer." He pushed his partner ahead of him as he walked out the door.

The door swished closed behind the men, leaving Bobby fuming. It took all his self-control not to follow and give the two men a piece of his mind.

"Nice job, Bobby."

The compliment was spoken in a low whisper. When Bobby looked down and saw Sam's eyes were open, Bobby reined in his elation fearing the policemen would return. Biting his lip, he quietly asked, "Do you need the doctor, Sam?"

A few seconds passed as Sam thought about his answer before responding. "I'm good."

"You're far from that," said Bobby, worriedly. "But I sure could use some answers; you boys are in a peck of trouble."

Carefully moving his head, Sam looked over at the empty bed. "Where's, Dean?"

"In surgery."

"Will he be all right?"

Knowing the literal Hell Sam had been going through since Dean traded his soul for Sam's life, Bobby chose an optimistic embellishment. "He'll be fine."

"Did he finish the job?"

"I don't know," Bobby admitted in frustration, "and right now I really don't care."

"It's important, Bobby," insisted Sam.

Almost tempted to tell Sam nothing was as important as their lives, Bobby sighed. "What was the job?"

"We discovered people were dying at this construction site."

"The one where you got hurt?" interrupted Bobby.

"Yeah." Sam grimaced, the slight movement of his concussed head obviously causing him pain. Gritting his teeth, he continued, "The foreman on the job, Carl Posner, committed suicide a few weeks ago. A couple of days later, the first worker died. He fell off the tenth floor."

"Do you know why the foreman committed suicide?"

"No, but talking to some of the workers, we were told a group of men had built a kind of shrine to the man . . ."

"On the tenth floor," finished Bobby.

"It even included his hard hat."

Bobby shook his head. "If they liked him that much, why is he killing them?"

"The shrine wasn't built to honor Posner," corrected Sam, "it was meant to ridicule him."

"That explains a lot," gasped Bobby.

"The deaths will continue until everything in that shrine is destroyed," Sam continued. "Carl threw me off just as we started pouring gas over the items."

Unconsciously tightening his grip on Sam's shoulder, Bobby said, "Lucky for you, he didn't throw you far. You landed on the edge of the next floor down."

"What happened to Dean?"

Licking his lips, Bobby hesitated before revealing, "He was speared on a rebar."

"But you said he'll be all right?" said Sam, obviously not believing what he had been told.

"He will be, he will be," Bobby repeated with less assurance than he would have liked.

A frown wrinkling his brow as fear and pain alternately twisted his face, Sam said, "Then you need to destroy that shrine before anyone else dies."

Bobby wanted to argue, try to make Sam understand that he needed to be at the boys' sides, only he didn't have a good defense. There was nothing he could do for Sam or Dean at the moment. But he could save lives, even if those lives didn't necessarily deserve to be saved. He finally conceded, "I'll see what I can do."

***

A few blocks from the construction site, Bobby saw the Impala parked on a side street. He made a mental note to get the keys and come back for the car. If anything happened to his "baby", Dean would definitely never recover.

During what was left of the short drive, Bobby tried to decide how he would proceed when he arrived. It wasn't going to be easy gaining access to the site, especially for a civilian. As he drew closer, he realized red lights were flashing. An ambulance was parked near the skeletal building. Workers were standing around watching as a gurney with a covered body was rolled to the back of the vehicle and loaded inside. It looked like he was already too late.

Filling his coat pockets with the things he would need, Bobby exited the car and crossed to stand at the perimeter of the construction site. He studied the men's faces. A few were sad, others angry, but most were scared. From the rumblings reaching his ears, Bobby realized most of them didn't believe their colleague's death was an accident.

The red lights on the ambulance were turned off as the vehicle drove away. There was no need to rush; nothing could be done to help their passenger.

A man in a three-piece suit stood on the steps of the trailer serving as the site's office. Several times he called for silence, but it wasn't until the man on the step below him repeated the order in a threatening voice that the workers settled down.

"I know you're all upset about Baker's death," the suit said. "Which is why I want you all to go home for the day. We don't want any more accidents."

A man with a full beard stepped forward. "Giving us the rest of the day off ain't gonna stop the accidents, Mr. Reynolds."

"Steve, I know a construction site is a dangerous . . ."

"That's not what I'm sayin'," Steve contradicted. "Somethin' else is going on here."

Ignoring Steve, Reynolds looked out at the assembled workers. "Go home, get some sleep, come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to work, or hand in your resignation. There are no other options."

Though there were loud grumblings of discord, Reynolds turned his back and entered the trailer. The man who had been standing with him walked off and the other workers dispersed, heading to where they had parked their cars.

Bobby realized it would be easy enough to sneak up to the tenth floor and destroy the shrine since security hadn't been put in place yet. If he did that, it would prevent more deaths, but it wouldn't help Sam and Dean. Having his own priorities, Bobby crossed to the trailer, climbed the stairs, and entered without knocking. "Mr. Reynolds, my name is Bobby Singer."

Straightening in the chair behind his desk, Reynolds asked, "How may I help you, Mr. Singer?"

"Actually," corrected Bobby, "I'm here to help you."

"Excuse me?"

"I know what's causing the deaths of your employees. Or, should I say who is causing their deaths."

Interest mixed with skepticism shown on Reynolds' face. "I'm listening."

"Once I stop the perpetrator, I want your guarantee you'll help my nephews."

"Who are your nephews?"

"The two boys that were hurt here this morning and are in the hospital."

Rather than the anger Bobby had expected, Reynolds looked sad. "If they're responsible for these accidents there's nothing I can do for them."

"They aren't responsible," assured Bobby. "And these aren't accidents."

"If that's true, you and they will have my support," Reynolds promised.

"I need you to come with me."

"Where?" Reynolds rose from his chair.

"The tenth floor of your building." When Reynolds hesitated, Bobby said, "I promise, I won't hurt you but I can't promise someone else won't."

"Then why on Earth would I go with you?"

"Because you want your building built without any more deaths."

Reynolds looked at Bobby for a long moment. Finally, he rounded his desk, and picked up a couple of hard hats. One, he put on his head, the other he handed to Bobby. "I may be crazy, but I'll go with you."

"You aren't crazy, now." Bobby smiled. "I can't guarantee you won't think so when this is all over."

By the time the two men emerged from the trailer, the construction site was almost empty. Only a few guards were visible near the gate. Reynolds led the way to the elevator. Operating it himself, he took them up.

When they reached the tenth floor, Reynolds stepped out and wrapped his arms around his chest, a meager protection against the cold wind blowing through the framed structure. "What now?"

"Where's the shrine your men built to your former foreman?"

"Carl?" Reynolds glanced around in puzzlement. "Why would they build a shrine to Carl? They hated him, especially after they found out he was gay."

"Apparently that's why." Bobby walked out onto the floor. Construction material was scattered everywhere, however, it didn't take him long to find what he was looking for. "This isn't what I would consider a memorial."

Looking disgusted when he saw some of the things that had been placed near a picture of Carl Posner, Reynolds growled, "Carl wasn't popular, but he was a good foreman. He doesn't deserve this."

"Don't worry," said Bobby, "he's getting his revenge."

"I don't understand."

Bobby started to explain when he saw a figure materializing next to Reynolds. Pulling a box of salt from his pocket, Bobby warned, "Look out!"

Turning, Reynolds found himself face to face with his recently deceased foreman. The ghost sneered and started to raise his hand. Before it got very far, a stream of salt crystals struck it. With a scream of rage, Posner disappeared.

"What the . . ."

Ignoring Reynolds' shocked utterance, Bobby quickly crossed to the shrine, a can of lighter fluid already in his hand. He doused everything, particularly the hard hat, knowing it was the most likely source for Posner's reappearance - the rubber around the inside would have absorbed the man's sweat.

"Hurry," pleaded Reynolds as Posner started to materialize again.

The fire hadn't burned hot enough or long enough to melt the plastic of the hard hat, so Bobby threw more salt at the ghostly manifestation. When Posner once again vanished, Bobby handed the carton to Reynolds. "Keep him busy. I'll make sure he doesn't put the fire out."

Though obviously reluctant, Reynolds took the salt and kept a careful watch. Several times he was forced to use the condiment until the box became unnervingly light. "What happens if we run out of salt before everything burns?"

"Hope it don't."

Posner appeared, his face twisted with rage. Just as Reynolds poured the remaining granules of salt into his hand preparing to throw them, fire materialized around the figure. Starting at the feet the flames climbed up the body until both disappeared in a hot, white flash.

Reynolds quickly spun around. "Is he gone?"

"He's gone," confirmed Bobby.

"For good?"

"For good."

His face pale, Reynolds said, "That was a ghost, wasn't it?"

"Yes," Bobby succinctly verified.

"And it was killing my workers?"

"Yes again." Bobby sighed. "If he hadn't hurt Sam and Dean, this is one case where I'd almost be on the ghost's side."

As the fire consumed the last of the shrine, Reynolds sighed. "I wish I had known what kind of Hell Carl had been living in. I might have been able to prevent his suicide."

Realizing Dean was facing a Hell far worse than what Posner had endured, Bobby scowled. "The men who built this shrine were ignorant and cruel, but they didn't deserve to die."

"But neither did Carl." Tugging down his vest and straightening his tie, Reynolds waved Bobby toward the elevator. "Let's go. We need to get your nephews taken care of and I need to hire a new foreman. One who won't allow this kind of desecration on my construction site."

***

After Reynolds promised to meet him at the hospital, Bobby got in his car and turned on the engine. About to put the vehicle in gear, he hesitated. He couldn't in good conscience leave the Impala on the side street. It was a small miracle she hadn't been broken into or vandalized already. Leaving her, even for another hour, was pushing their luck.

Deciding it didn't matter what happened to his own car, Bobby turned off the engine, climbed out and walked the short distance to the Impala. Dean would be furious if he found out Bobby had broken in and hot-wired the car. Once he calmed down though, he would agree it was the lesser of two evils. However, Bobby was going to do his damndest to make sure Dean never found out about his indiscretion. That would be the best scenario for all concerned.

Even with the delay, Bobby beat Reynolds to the hospital. As he entered room 208, he stopped in his tracks halfway through the door. Dean was occupying the bed closest to the door. When he saw him, Bobby wasn't sure how he should feel, relief that Dean had made it through surgery certainly, but also anger at the handcuffs securing Dean to the bed. He had IV's running into both arms with what looked like blood and fluids, and a canella in his nose, yet they had still found it necessary to secure Dean to the bed.

"It's all right, Bobby," Sam soothed. "He doesn't know."

"And he won't," growled Bobby.

Coming up behind Bobby, Reynolds put his hand on the older man's shoulder. "Is everything all right, Mr. Singer?"

Silently counting to ten before he answered, Bobby said, "It will be once you explain things to those . . ." Bobby paused, unwilling to offend the man who was about to save Sam and Dean, he bit his tongue on the word he wanted to use before finally finishing, ". . . deputies."

"I contacted the sheriff," said Reynolds. "Roper and Davies are supposed to meet us here."

Assuming Roper and Davies were Fred and his partner, Bobby crossed to Sam's side. "Sam, this is Mr. Reynolds, the owner of the construction site."

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Reynolds." Sam tried to shake Reynolds' hand, something that was impossible to do with his left arm wrapped against his chest and his right wrist handcuffed to the bed.

"I want to thank you boys for what you tried to do." Reynolds looked over at Dean. "I know you've paid a price. I've already let the financial office know they're to send all your bills to me."

Bobby hadn't expected this; he had only hoped Reynolds would square things with the law. But it was a huge relief. For once, Sam and Dean would get complete medical attention. There would be no leaving with an IV needle still embedded in their arm in an attempt to escape before it was discovered their charge card was bogus.

The door opened, admitting the two sheriff's deputies. His eyes immediately checking the handcuffs, Fred looked satisfied as he said, "Sheriff Daly asked us to meet you here, Mr. Reynolds. I want you to know, we're keeping a close eye on these two."

"Well, there's no need, Lieutenant Roper," replied Reynolds.

Satisfaction turned to puzzlement. "Sir?"

"I want you to remove the handcuffs." Reynolds spoke slowly so there would be no doubt about his sincerity.

"I can't do that, sir. These men could be responsible for the deaths at your construction site."

"They're not." Reynolds moved over to the phone sitting on the table between the two beds.

"With all due respect," Davies spoke for the first time, "you can't know that for sure, sir."

"Yes, I can," contradicted Reynolds. "There was another death at the site two hours ago. So, unless these boys can kill in their dreams, they couldn't possibly be your killers."

"They could have an accomplice." Roper looked at Bobby.

As Reynolds' face flushed red with anger, Bobby smugly said, "If you check with the nurses, you'll find I was here at the time that worker was killed."

"Call Sheriff Daly, he'll confirm what I've told you." Reynolds pushed the phone closer to Roper.

After only a slight hesitation, Roper picked up the receiver and punched the buttons to connect him with his superior. Bobby didn't try to hide his satisfaction as he listened to the one-sided conversation. It was clear Roper was getting a dressing down.

Hanging up the phone, Roper pulled a key out of his breast pocket and unlocked the handcuffs securing Sam to the bed. After a slight hesitation, Davies did the same for Dean.

Roper put the handcuffs on his belt and crossed to the door. "I was only doing my job, Mr. Reynolds."

"Next time," Reynolds suggested, "try not to be so over-zealous. I owe these men more than I can pay. They certainly didn't deserve to be falsely accused of murder."

"Yes, sir."

As soon as the door closed behind the officers, Reynolds held his hand out to Bobby. "Thank you again, Mr. Singer. If there's anything else you or your nephews need while you're in town, just let me know."

"I will," assured Bobby.

As soon as the door closed behind Reynolds, Bobby turned his attention to Sam. "What did the doctor say about Dean?"

Flexing his right arm to get feeling back in it, Sam winced with pain as he lifted his head to look over at his brother. "They told me he nearly died on the table, but shouldn't have. The rebar hadn't hit any vital organs."

"Why isn't he in ICU?"

"They said he's stable." Sam frowned as though he only partially believed the diagnosis. "The only thing we have to worry about now is infection."

"I take it one of those IV's is an antibiotic?"

"Yeah, he has a catheter, too." Sam grimaced.

Sitting on the chair between the two beds, Bobby groaned, "Let's hope he stays unconscious for a while."

"It sure would be nice," agreed Sam.

***

As he turned the Impala down the driveway, and his dilapidated old house with its faded paint and dirty windows came into view, Bobby heaved a quiet sigh of relief. It was good to be home. Being discharged from the hospital after two long weeks was probably more liberating for him than it was Sam and Dean. At least in his own home, Bobby could banish whichever brother was bothering him to another room. In the hospital, he had felt trapped.

Initially sympathetic to the pain and discomfort both boys were being forced to endure, Bobby's patience had disappeared a little more with each day of confinement. They had acted more like children than when they had actually been children.

While neither was in condition to return to hunting, they were mobile and able to fend for themselves to a certain degree. In his own home, Bobby wouldn't be forced to listen to their wining and grumbling. He could simply go to another room or outside to escape.

More importantly, Bobby hoped to finally have a long overdue discussion with Dean. Something he couldn't do with an audience, especially when the spectator was Sam.

Shifting into park, Bobby turned off the engine. "We're home."

Carefully straightening in his seat, Dean held his hand out to Bobby. "Keys."

"Not yet." Bobby knew he was taking his life in his hands denying the request, but he knew Dean too well.

"You said you were only going to drive until we got to your house," protested Dean.

"And I kept my promise."

"Are you going to make me hot-wire my own car?"

Since trying to make Dean understand he was in no condition to hunt hadn't been entirely successful, Bobby was forced to resort to other means to make the boys stay. "You try and I'll hide the distributor cap."

Aghast, Dean asked, "You're holding my car hostage?"

"I guess you could put it that way."

"Come on, Dean," said Sam, carefully extracting himself from the backseat, "you made a promise, too."

"I promised to let Bobby drive us to his house," Dean agreed. "I never said I would stay."

Closing the car door, Sam snapped, "Live with it. We're in no condition to do anything else."

"You're not," agreed Dean.

"And neither are you." Sam followed Singer to the back door. "If it wasn't for Bobby, we'd still be in that hospital or jail. I know it's difficult, but you could try showing some gratitude."

Dean pouted as he walked carefully to the door. "I'm grateful."

"Then show it."

"I am. I'm staying aren't I?"

Shaking his head, Sam had to smile. "We really need to work on your manners."

"What?" Dean followed Sam into the house. "I say please and thank you."

***

When Sam rubbed the space between his eyes for a third time, Bobby knew the boy was fighting another headache. The doctor had said they would reoccur as the concussion healed. It didn't help that Sam was spending every waking moment with his nose in a book trying to find a way to keep Dean from going to Hell.

"Sam," Bobby quietly suggested, "why don't you take a break."

"I'm fine." Sam opened another book.

"No you're not," contradicted Bobby, moving over and slamming the book closed. "The condition you're in right now, even if you found what you were looking for, you probably wouldn't recognize it."

"I guess you're right." Sam pushed the book away and slowly rose to his feet. "I think I'll lie down for a while."

"I'll wake you when it's time for dinner," Bobby offered.

Bobby waited until he heard a soft snore coming from the boys' bedroom before he went outside to search for Dean. The time he had been waiting for and dreading had finally arrived: Bobby wanted to talk to Dean. No, need was the more accurate word. He really didn't want to, but he needed to for both their sakes.

He felt like everything that had happened in the last seven months was his fault. Well, maybe not everything, but certainly the important things like Dean going to Hell. It didn't matter that Dean had practically thrown him out of the house where they had laid Sam's body. Bobby realized he shouldn't have left. He might have been able to keep Dean from making the deal.

But it was too late. They had three months to fix things. But none of it mattered if Dean didn't stay alive for those three months.

It took Bobby longer than it should have to find Dean. The boy had walked further from the house than Bobby would have thought possible in his condition. Ruefully, he realized nothing should surprise him about Dean Winchester.

Never one to beat about the bush, Bobby demanded, "You want to tell me what you were thinking when you called me?"

"What do you mean?" Dean pulled out from under the engine he had been examining.

"That dumb routine may work on others but it won't work on me. I know you too well."

Dean dropped his gaze. "I just wanted to say good-bye and thank you."

"So you weren't calling for help?" Bobby spelled out, though he really didn't need the clarification.

Shrugging, Dean said, "I didn't think you could help."

"Or you didn't want it because you thought Sam was dead." When Dean didn't deny the accusation, Bobby almost lost it. "You stupid son of a bitch, when are you going to learn you can live without Sam?"

"It's not what you think," protested Dean, back pedaling. "It wasn't that I wanted to die. I just thought I was so badly hurt I was going to die."

Bobby didn't believe a word of Dean's attempt to vindicate himself. "I know that all your life you've heard 'Sam and Dean' spoken so the two names seemed like one. But you're two people with two sets of values, two sets of hope and dreams. If one dies, the other can survive. Sam will have a life if you go to Hell. But if Sam dies, you don't have to die with him."

"I know that."

"Do you? You don't act like it. Why are you in such a hurry to go to Hell?"

"I'm not."

"I can see why Sam gets so frustrated with you," huffed Bobby. He put his hands behind his back to keep from hitting Dean. "I know the lengths you'll go to to keep Sam alive, but you have nothing left to give up -- you've already sold your soul."

For once, Dean was left speechless.

Taking pity on the boy who was like a son to him, Bobby let his anger dissipate. "The one thing you should've learned from all this is to never give up."

"And keep your number on speed dial," said Dean, forcing a smile.

Bobby closed his eyes before nodding in agreement. "That goes without saying."