Dean’s voice was pleading and choked as Caleb locked eyes with the pain filled green eyes of his best friend. The feeling of Dean’s warm blood covering his fingers was enough to make him sick. Seeing Dean hurt had never been something he was particularly fond of but right now as he tried to staunch the flow of blood seeping from the side of his friends abdomen he idly wondered how they had gotten themselves into this situation.
“God …” Dean panted, trying to contain the little grunts of pain, caused by the pressure Caleb was putting on his wound with little success.
“No need to be so formal Deuce. Call me Caleb.” Caleb smirked briefly before he set his lips in a grim line when Dean gasped in pain. “I’m sorry man I gotta stop the bleeding.”
Dean tried to smirk back at his friend but it was hard when he could barely think straight, he could see the panic in his friend’s eyes and he could hear his brothers whimpering panicked breathing. Sam was terrified. Dean felt the need to get up and comfort the fourteen year old despite the fact that he was currently bleeding all over Caleb and the ground. He hated seeing his brother and Caleb so scared.
Caleb was more than a little scared. Dean was loosing enough blood to open up his own blood bank and was trembling from shock and pain. How had he let this happen? He was supposed to be watching out for the boys.
Caleb looked up and across at the youngest Winchester who was kneeling by his brothers head running his fingers through Dean’s short hair. The kid was a mess and barely holding it together but considering the circumstances Caleb could understand. He looked down at his own hands when he felt Dean’s blood slicked grip trying to remove the pressure Caleb was applying to stop Dean’s life giving fluid from leaving his body. For the first time since this whole disaster had begun Caleb noticed that his own hands were trembling.
“Damien, stop it!”
Dean’s eyes looked so pained and glassy that Caleb wanted to give in to the kid’s plea. Shock was definitely setting in. Caleb wasn’t surprised what with the blood loss, shock of the injury and the cold dirt floor beneath him. Shock was inevitable and Caleb knew that sometimes shock was just as dangerous as the wound itself.
“I can’t kiddo.” Where the hell were John and Bobby anyway? “You just stay with me okay Deuce? No checking out!”
Before Dean had a chance to respond John and Bobby seemingly came out of nowhere.
“Johnny.” Caleb didn’t know which emotion showed through when he called the man’s name, relief or annoyance that he had taken so long. But for some reason he felt somewhat comforted that the older man was finally there. “What took you so long?” Caleb cursed himself when the question came out sounding more fearful than he wanted it to.
He couldn’t help but flinch when his mentor laid a rough hand on his shoulder. It felt strong but oddly calming. He could feel Dean trembling beneath his blood covered fingers and he wasn’t sure whether he was imagining it but it felt like it was getting worse.
John laid a hand on his oldest son’s sweaty forehead. “God damn it, boys!”
The greeting was so typically John Winchester and that coupled with the squeeze to the psychic’s shoulder snapped him back from his own state of shock. He hoped John couldn’t feel the tremors coursing through his body.
“What a fucking mess.” John hissed brushing his hand over Dean’s sweat soaked hair much like Sam had been doing moments before. Caleb couldn’t agree more with John’s statement. This was a total fucking mess. He should have reacted faster and now one of the boys was hurt badly. Sam was sitting back watching his father with a fearful gaze. The look was accompanied by a look of total faith in his father. The kid still believed that his father could fix anything and Caleb was willing to hope more than anything that that was the case.
The warmth of John’s hand left when his mentor removed it to concentrate on his son and Caleb shivered in his absence. He felt freezing but he wasn’t sure whether it was his body or the damp earthly conditions.
Caleb watched as John checked his sons pulse and rested a hand on the young mans chest. “What did I say about bloodshed Ace?” John sighed although his worry filled brown eyes betrayed his calm exterior.
“I’m sorry … dad.” Dean choked.
“Whoa kiddo, calm down. Just stay with me okay son. That’s an order!” Just like John reverting back to orders when dealing with something out of his control. The man was a definite control freak. But then that was nothing knew.
“Y-yes Sir.” In true Dean fashion the teen took his fathers order very seriously and Caleb could picture the kid standing up gut wound be damn to salute the drill sergeant.
Caleb’s gaze was ripped from Dean’s face when another set of hands grabbed Caleb’s arm and the psychic suddenly remembered the mechanics presence when he heard Bobby’s rough voice.
“Let me see Caleb, move.”
Caleb numbly released his hold on his blood soaked shirt from Dean’s side. He felt like he’d been holding the damn shirt there for hours. Despite the numbness that was encroaching Caleb’s body the psychic moved aside so that Bobby could get to the injured teen.
“Hold his hands.” Bobby ordered.
Caleb stilled for a moment hating the thought of restraining his friend but he realized it needed to be done so moved to comply with the order. Dean’s hands matched in colour with his own. The stickiness and the sickening smell of it were making Caleb want to hurl. The blood was hindering his efforts to keep a hold of Dean’s hands. He could feel the teen’s pulse racing through his wrist and suddenly Caleb was angry.
“What took you guys so fucking long?” Caleb repeated his ignored question with more force than before.
“We had to finish off the Elf.” Bobby explained automatically as he took a look at the damage hiding underneath the blood soaked shirt, his face paling.
What the hell? He had damn well heard Sam express the seriousness of the situation to the older hunters over the radio. It was an emergency and those two decide to take out the elf first while Dean lay bleeding out on the cold wet ground. Just fucking great!
Caleb’s internal ranting was interrupted by Dean’s cry of pain. The kid was breathing harshly through his nose and trying to squirm away from Bobby’s none too gentle hands.
“Ease the fuck up man.” Caleb snapped, at his wits end and he really didn’t care about the twin glares he was receiving from both older hunters. His language was not at the top of his priority list right now. Neither was being polite. The only thing that truly mattered at that very moment was the death grip that Dean had on his sticky blood covered hands.
John turned back to the gruff mechanic. “How bad is it?”
Bobby looked up at his friend; fear for his son was evident in John’s brown depths. “It’s not good John.” The hunter replied, using what he could from the first aid kit. “But not too bad.”
What the fuck did that mean? Caleb glared at the older hunter and had a sudden real urge for his father to be here. Mac would have Dean sorted out in no time. Sometimes Caleb believed there was nothing that his father couldn’t fix especially when it came to medicine. He knew one thing for sure. They could certainly use the doctor right about now.
“Damn it!” John cursed almost under his breath.
Caleb didn’t know whether to feel angry or worried at the raw concern and fear he saw in his mentors gaze. If John hadn’t been so damn stubborn then they wouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place. But in the end Caleb brought his anger back to himself. He should never have let it come to this. When John wasn’t there to watch out for the boys it was Caleb’s job to look out for them and even sometimes when John was there to look out for them Caleb still took it upon himself to watch the kids backs. It was a habit that he couldn’t break and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to. As much as he wanted to direct all his anger at the oldest Winchester Caleb knew that he shouldered some of the blame and it was eating him up. Dean’s shivering and pained noises, along with Sam’s fearful and tear streaked face was a constant reminder of his failure.
Caleb was drawn to Sam’s face again just in time to meet the fourteen year olds eyes. It struck him at that moment how much Sam’s eyes were like his fathers. Everything he wanted to know about Sam’s emotions was clearly shown in the brown eyes as was John’s. Caleb didn’t need to be psychic around the Winchesters. He could read them like a book without his powers.
Sam’s concentration went back to his brother, stroking his hair and trying to calm him even though the kid was barely holding it together himself.
“It’s okay Dean. Dad’s here now.” Sam’s confidence that his father could fix this problem made Caleb realize that no matter how old he got he was still so similar to the boys in so many ways. John was here and now everything would be okay. Caleb was sure that once Dean was well and on the mend Sam would go back to being the rebellious teen that he had become when it came to John and hunting.
John ran a shaky hand down his face. Seeing his son like this was scaring him. His boys being hurt were always something that feared John the most. Sam and Dean were all that John had. He couldn’t loose them, either of them.
“Fine mess you got your self in here son.” John’s false bravado was comforting and appreciated by Caleb. The look in Dean’s glassy eyes told him that it was also appreciated by the bleeding teen.
“Cant l-let Caleb always … be the hero.” Dean choked out. His attempt at humor felt like a punch to the gut. Caleb looked away wanting to punch something but he wasn’t going anywhere for Dean’s sticky grip on his hands tightened as if the younger hunter could sense his spiraling emotions.
Dean’s eyes left his fathers and searched out his friend. “Sorry …” a pained sob interrupted him. “Sorry you lost y-your bet Damien.”
Caleb gave the kid what he hoped was his usual cocky smirk. “You kidding, I call interference.” He glanced at John for a moment clearly remembering the conversation that he had begun with the oldest Winchester when the argument he’d had been having with his youngest son was getting out of hand.
“I’ll bet you a hundred dollars we finish off the elf and have Sammy back in time to finish his boring paper before the sunsets.”
Caleb looked heavenward and briefly registered that he had already lost that bet. It was getting dark. He should have known not to be with a fucking Winchester but the bet meant nothing to him right now although he wished it had been as simple as he had so carelessly believed.
“You always were a crappy loser.” Dean shuddered violently.
“What the fuck happened Caleb?”
Suddenly everything seemed to stop, even Sam’s rambling. The kid was looking at him. That question had even seemed to quiet Dean. The younger hunter’s harsh breathing quietened a notch.
Caleb dragged his eyes away from Sam’s and looked directly into John’s. “I-I’m sorry John.”
“What the fuck does that mean Junior?” John’s brows narrowed.
“It was me.” Caleb swallowed thickly already feeling nauseous at the look of utter shock on John’s face. Bobby raised his eyes from Dean for a moment at Caleb’s surprise confession.
He could feel Dean tense and glanced quickly at his friend taking in the confused look in the injured teen’s eyes. He didn’t need to be psychic to be able to read the ‘what the…’ expression on the kids face.
“You did this?” John looked from Caleb then down at his son then back at Caleb again. The thought that Caleb had actually caused Dean’s injury was obviously hard to swallow.
“It was an accident. I swear John I thought he was the elf …”
“Pretty funny looking elf.” Bobby muttered under his breath but loud enough to be heard.
“Shut up Bobby!” “Not now Bobby!” Both Caleb and John snapped at the same time. Bobby wisely kept the rest of his thoughts to himself. Now was not the time for wisecracks.
John looked back at Caleb with a hurt and angry look in his eyes and Caleb knew that he would have preferred John take a swing at him instead of the disappointment he could see swimming deep in the brown depths.
“Dad …” Dean almost whimpered. The kid was hanging on by a thread.
John glared at the psychic before turning to look down at his son, his eyes softening. “Hey dude.”
“s’my fault … dad …s-sorry.”
“Calm down son.” John laid a gentle hand on Dean’s brow.
“Shut up Deuce.” Caleb hissed.
Dean ignored Caleb’s warning and looked at his dad imploringly. “Didn’t … didn’t report my location.”
John closed his eyes and sighed. “It doesn’t matter right now kiddo. You just stay with us okay.”
Dean nodded, his breathing labored. “S-sorry.”
“It’s okay Dean.” Sam whispered starting up a litany of comforting words. Dean’s tight grip on his hands didn’t loosen. Dean’s eyes were at half mast now, only a sliver of green could be seen and suddenly John’s disappointment took a backseat to the worry he felt for his friend.
“I’ve done what I can here.” Bobby’s voice filtered through Caleb’s thoughts and brought him back to the problem at hand. “We need to get him somewhere I can dig that bullet out of him John.”
Caleb’s eyes widened. “Wait a minute.” He protested loudly. “John, he needs a hospital.”
John turned a hard steely gaze in Caleb’s direction. “No … no hospitals.” Dean’s protests could be heard in the background but Caleb’s focus was on John.
“You Reaves …” John pointed a finger at the psychic. “Have no say in the matter.”
“Not now Caleb!” John all but growled. “Hospitals ask too many questions.”
“Gee John hunting accidents happen all the time.” Caleb’s voice was laced with sarcasm.
“And just what the hell were you hunting with a 9 mm in the off season genius?”
“Both of you shut the hell up!” Bobby had obviously had enough of the bickering.
John and Caleb both turned to glare at the mechanic. Bobby didn’t flinch at the heated glares. The most important thing at that very moment was to get Dean fixed up. John turned away from Caleb and bent down to his son, gently lifting him into his strong arms. “Come on kiddo, let’s get you home.” Caleb had to give John credit. Dean wasn’t exactly a light weight. The kid was all muscle and the man didn’t even stagger.
Dean groaned as he was lifted and situated against his father’s chest, his head falling to John’s shoulder. “Not Caleb’s fault Dad.” He slurred, trying his best to convey what he needed to his father. “Shh.” John responded quietly.
With Bobby’s help on hand should he need it, John headed off towards the car. Caleb stood there for a moment, hands covered in Dean’s blood, watching John’s retreating back. “Home.” He snorted. Home was a crappy apartment/motel room right off the interstate, typical Winchester accommodation.
Caleb closed his eyes to steady himself before opening them again and starting to collect their weapons and John and Bobby’s gear that had been forgotten in the rush to get Dean home. He noticed Sam was still with him, watching him. He looked to be in a state of shock, tear tracks glistened on his cheeks.
“Are you okay Sammy?” Caleb asked cautiously walking towards the youngest Winchester.
“He’s gonna be okay … right Caleb?” There was so much fear in the kid’s voice that Caleb almost wanted to pull him in for a hug, despite the very real chick-flick moment it would create.
“Aww Sammy, you know your big brother. He’ll be fine.”
“Are you okay?”
“Me?” Caleb asked confused.
“I’m sorry Caleb.” Sam cried. “I didn’t mean to shoot him. God, he’s gonna hate me.”
“Hey runt.” Caleb gripped one of Sam’s shoulders with his free hand. “It was an accident and Deuce could never hate you.”
“I’m so sorry.” Sam tried valiantly to hold back more tears that were threatening to spill over.
How the hell had things gotten so screwed up? He’d thought it was amusing when Dean had been teasing his kid brother about the elf’s liking for young boys. He had even joined in at one point. It was what they did but usually the result was harmless. What he hadn’t planned on was Sam’s real nervousness and him shooting at the first thing he saw and heard. What had ever possessed him to allow Dean to scout the area by himself? He’d just wanted to give Dean some time away from his little brother and now the teen was on his way to a two bit apartment so that Bobby could perform an emergency bullet removal surgery. His father would not approve of a lot of things that had gone on tonight. Caleb should have been able to prevent this somehow. Maybe if he had of taken more notice of the feelings he was reading from Sam. The scene kept replaying in his mind over and over again.
47 minutes earlier…
“Do you think Dad and Bobby have finished it?” Sam asked causing Caleb to roll his eyes silently asking for some of Dean’s unlimited patience that he seemed to have when dealing with his younger brother. “We’ve been here for hours and I want to go home.”
“You know what else attracts and elf runt, impatience and bitchiness. It can sense it in the air from miles away.” Caleb lied with a smirk as he concentrated on his surroundings.
“You’re a jerk you know that?” Sam shifted his rifle in his hands looking around nervously. “Do you really expect me to believe that? I just want to finish my paper. Is that really too much to ask?”
Caleb shrugged his shoulders. “Believe what you want to Sammy you’re like a walking elf lunch … or probably more like an afternoon snack.”
Caleb snickered when he saw the nervous look Sam was giving their surroundings when he thought that Caleb wasn’t looking. The kid was so easy. “Take it easy Sammy.”
Caleb continued scouting ahead silently wondering to himself how he had ended up with a sulking teen trailing behind him. Caleb surmised that he was just too nice. They really should have dumped the brooding kid with John considering Sam’s pissy attitude had sporned from his latest argument with the older man.
The five hunters had split up, John and Bobby had headed west while the three boys had gone east. Usually Sam would have paired off with his older brother but Caleb had thought that Dean could use the break. When they had separated they had agreed to stay in radio contact until the met back up. According to the map the separate trails would join up at a creek. It was simple recon and had been handled efficiently on many occasions by the two older boys.
With no sight of the elusive elf Caleb kept a look out for the meeting point while keeping in mind that just because they hadn’t seen the elf yet it didn’t mean that it couldn’t jump out at any time. He hadn’t heard anything from Dean via radio or from any of the hunters for that matter, which lead him to assume that they were all empty handed.
No matter what Sam told him he could feel the kid’s nervousness like a silent beacon. He could also sense that Dean was nearby and frustrated with his lack of a find. Caleb hoped that John and Bobby had managed to have better luck than they’d had.
He felt Sam tense and stop behind him moments after he heard movement in the distance. “I saw something.” Sam gasped, pointing his rifle in the direction the noise had come from.
Caleb stretched out his senses and was about to tell Sam to relax when he heard the deafening sound of a gunshot. “Sammy!”
He turned back to look at the teen who was standing there in shock like he hadn’t meant to pull the trigger and Caleb was more than a little panicked. He didn’t need to radio Dean to know that it wasn’t the elf that had been hit. He’d been searching out Dean when Sam had fired and felt his friend’s pain as Sam’s bullet struck home. “Fuck!”
“The safety wasn’t on. Caleb?” Sam asked fearfully.
Caleb looked down at the fourteen year old with a look that told the boy everything he needed to know. Something unthinkable had just happened. “Come on.” He gestured, racing off in the direction they had heard something hit the ground.
Less than a hundred meters away Caleb found their disaster lying on his front, gun discarded beside him. The blonde was moving and Caleb could still feel his presence and he thanked whoever was listening for small miracles.
‘Oh my God!”
Sam’s strangled cry barely registered as he reached his friends side and helped him turn over onto his back. He heard Sam’s rifle clatter to the ground but all his attention was on the injured form of the teen in his arms.
Dean’s eyes were tightly shut against the pain and his breathing was ragged. “Deuce?” Green eyes bright with pain and confusion opened wide upon feeling hands on him and his name being called. Caleb saw recognition and smiled reassuringly down at the young hunter. “Hey man.”
“Caleb?” Dean’s voice sounded so small and confused.
“You’re shot.” Caleb clarified as he helped Dean lay back on the cold ground so he could get a better look at the wound.
“I am?” Dean lifted his head from the ground to look at where his hands were automatically clasped on his stomach, blood already covering his hands.
“You’re gonna be fine dude.” Caleb pulled Dean’s hands away, finding the grey Metallica t-shirt turning red as blood continued to seep from the wound. This was so not good. He turned his head to call Sam to get his ass over to them but found that the kid was standing right behind him looking on in horror.
“Sammy, get on the radio and tell your dad that Dean’s hurt and then bring me something to elevate his legs … now Sam!” He shouted when Sam still hadn’t moved. He turned back to Dean who was grunting in pain as he was still trying to look at his abdomen.
“This sucks!” he gasped out as Caleb shrugged out of his jacket and then his over shirt. “I’m gonna lose the s-shirt aren’t I?”
“It was getting old anyways.” Caleb quipped as he laid his jacket over Dean’s legs. He balled up his shirt and shivered as the cold air touched his bare arms. The atmosphere was chilly despite the time of year and if Caleb was cold then shock was a definite consideration; Dean was lying on the wet ground. Without giving him any warning Caleb pushed his balled up shirt against the wound. He winced in sympathy as Dean arched his back, crying out in pain. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He apologized quietly, hating the added pain he was causing while trying to help.
“Oh God!” Dean grit out through harsh panted breaths.
“It’s gonna be okay Deuce.”
“Dean! Oh my God I’m so sorry!” Sam cried as he carried the log he’d found and situated it under Dean’s feet.
“Are you okay Sammy?” Dean’s concern for his brother’s welfare was too much for the boy to handle and tears slipped from Sam’s eyes.
“Sammy?” Dean started to panic when his brother didn’t answer.
“He’s fine Deuce.”
Dean closed his eyes again and concentrated on breathing. His eyes snapped open when Caleb repositioned his shirt over the wound causing the fiery pain to erupt. “Aghh.” He cried out.
“I’m sorry Deuce, I gotta stop the bleeding.” Caleb didn’t let up on the pressure as much as he wanted to stop the pain his friend was in.
“I’m sorry Dean! I didn’t mean to I’m sorry!” Sam rambled, tears still running down his face. He had moved up to his brothers head and was looking down on him.
Dean suddenly seemed to realize how close his brother was to his face and looked up into the watery brown eyes. “Y-you shot me?”
If Caleb thought that Sam was crying before it was nothing compared to what that question evoked. The teen was beside him self. “The safety wasn’t on.” Caleb explained for Sam.
“God, I’m sorry Dean. I didn’t mean it I swear. I should have been paying attention … I just wanted…”
“Sammy.” Dean croaked, interrupting his brother’s tirade. “Sammy, stop.”
“S’okay Sammy.” Dean’s eyes closed of their own violation but once again they snapped back open when he felt a sharp slap to the cheek. “No checking out on us Deuce.” Caleb ordered in his no nonsense John Winchester imitation voice.
“You have to be okay Dean.” Sam ran his fingers through his brother’s short hair.
“Just a f-flesh wound, right Caleb?” Dean slurred looking at Caleb willing him to agree with him for Sam’s sake. The so called flesh wound was going to bleed Dean out if they didn’t get help soon. John and Bobby had the first aid kit with them and they also had the keys to the vehicles on them. So until the older hunters got there they were screwed. “He’s gonna be fine Sammy. He’ll be back to his annoying self in no time.”
“You’re all heart Damien.”
Caleb smirked down at his friend and then looked up at Sam. “Sammy, get on the radio and see where the hell your father is. We need them here.”
Caleb thought that Sam was going to protest leaving his brother but after a moment the boy reluctantly left his brothers side and headed over to where they left the radio.
Caleb glanced back down at Dean and saw that his eyes were closed again. “Hey Deuce, what did I say about taking a nap?” Caleb asked loudly as he freed a hand and checked his friend’s pulse which was way faster than what he was comfortable with. It wasn’t healthy.
“Dude, you have nothing to be sorry for. Just stay awake for me okay?”
Dean licked his lips and nodded. He tried to shift but gasped in pain and steadied himself under Caleb’s hand on his shoulder. “Sammy … really s-shot me?” he asked a little incredulously.
“Yeah man. Lucky he doesn’t have you aim huh.” Caleb joked. He was starting to get a little worried with the blood loss and Dean’s shivering, not to mention the unhealthy sheen of sweat on his pale face.
“Damien, don’t tell Dad … it was … Sammy.”
“P-please Caleb.” Another violent tremor attacked Dean’s body and he groaned out loud while still keeping in eye contact with the psychic. Dean was a bastard. He knew that despite Caleb’s hard ass image that he liked to portray he would do pretty much anything for Dean and the teen knew exactly how and when best to use this weakness.
“Don’t worry about it Deuce I’ll think of something.” Caleb pressed down, putting more pressure on the wound. Dean could have asked him for the moon at that very moment and he would have tried his hardest to get it for him. It was partly Caleb’s fault that they were in this predicament and he was going to make damn sure that he did everything he could to make up for it.
Taking the blame for Dean being shot was the only excuse Caleb could come up with at the time because he was damn sure that even in Dean’s current state the kid was likely to confess that he had shot himself rather than have Sammy under their fathers wrath so fessing up to it in Sam’s stead was the most logical and simple solution he could think of in the short amount of time he’d had to come up with a feasible answer to John’s inevitable question of ‘what the hell happened?’
Caleb knew that Sam was going to carry this accident with him for a long time, if not forever. It wasn’t every day you shot your older brother in the stomach and for a kid like Sam who adored his brother it was the worst thing that could ever happen. Caleb knew because if it actually really had of been him that had shot the older Winchester brother he would have never forgiven himself either. That didn’t mean that Caleb hadn’t tried to convince the kid to let it go, as useless as that sentiment had been.
Once back at the motel Bobby and John had set to work on removing the bullet and Caleb had been pushed aside and for the first time he had really felt like an outsider in his small surrogate family. John had been cold with him, not so kindly ordering the psychic to keep out of his way and away from his boy. Caleb knew that John was just angry but the words hurt all the same and for a second he selfishly wished he could take back the blame. Disappointing John was never something that he liked doing, despite the amount of times he had butt heads with the man and now John thought that Caleb had shot his son. Would he ever be forgiven? Would John even want to speak to him? This was just like the time with the black dog and Joshua’s fucked up tracking equipment. John had reamed him good when they had gotten the boys back to Jim’s hunting cabin for putting the boys in danger and for getting Dean hurt. He had been angry and hurt and stormed off shouting that he didn’t want anything to do with John or his boys. Of course that had been a lie and he hadn’t known what to do with himself until John had come out not long after and made peace with him. He had received his ring that night, with John’s blessing. Surely this time would sort itself out as well. God he hoped so. The Brotherhood, his father and the Winchesters were the most important things in his life.
He played with the silver ring on his right hand, remembering back to the night with the black dog and John giving him his ring. Dean’s cries in the background had been even worse as they weren’t stocked with any morphine and were only working with the strongest pain killers Bobby had on hand. Caleb hadn’t wanted to push his luck but there was no way he was leaving so he stayed pacing in a far away corner of the room, jumping when at one point Dean had called his name. He had wanted badly to rush over there and comfort his friend but one look at John’s face had Caleb staying where he was until John sighed and told him to get his ass to the bedside. Apparently the man wasn’t pissed enough to deny his son what he wanted in his time of need and Caleb was grateful.
Despite giving Dean assurances Caleb kept quiet holding Dean’s hand tightly while Bobby finished the painful process of extracting the bullet. Thankfully a mixture of pain and pain killers Dean was out like a light before the end and Caleb stepped back reluctantly and let John and Sam hover over their injured family member, once again making Caleb feel like an outsider.
Feeling a little shaken after everything that had happened Caleb had taken that chance to step out into the night air. He needed time for his mind to assimilate everything that had happened and everything that was about to happen. God, he was psychic. He should have been able to warn Sam faster. If only he had of been just that little bit faster then they could have avoided this whole mess. Mac kept telling him that his abilities were a gift but sometimes he really doubted the truth in that statement. What kind of gift were they if he couldn’t even help his friends and family?
Before he realized it he looked down and saw that he had been out in the cold night air for many hours, still without his over shirt or jacket. He was shivering a little with the cold air and decided it was time he braved it and walked back inside to check on his best friend.
Upon entering the motel room the first thing he noticed was that it was very quiet, John and Bobby thankfully nowhere to be seen. Sam was sitting in a chair buy his big brothers bed his head bobbing as he started to lose his fight against sleep. The psychic walked over and shook a groggy Sam awake and steered him over to the other side of Dean’s bed so the kid could lie down and sleep. He only put up a little bit of a fight before he realized that Caleb was telling him to lie down next to his brother. Caleb stood standing over the youngest Winchester until he looked settled and whispered “I’ll take this watch runt.” As he brushed the kids hair back from his face.
He sat down in Sam’s vacated seat and watched Dean breath in and out. It was comforting to see Dean in what seemed like a restful sleep. Dean fighting for breath and against the pain would be etched in his mind just like he would probably see Dean’s blood on his hands for a while even though he had washed it off hours before.
He heard the floorboards creak and turned to see Bobby standing in the doorway. “He okay?” Singer asked as he made his way into the room.
Caleb leaned forward and felt Dean’s brow. “No fever. So far so good.” Caleb was relieved to reveal to the older man. “What are you still doing up?”
“Come to check on my patient. Doctors got to do his rounds.” The mechanic answered as he sat down on the end of Dean’s bed and looked across at the psychic.
“Right, Doctor Bobby. I forgot.” Caleb half smirked as he leaned forwards, elbows resting on his knees as he looked down at the silver ring on his finger again. He slowly began to twist it around his finger, a habit he had picked up a long time ago.
“Where’d you go off too?” Bobby asked nonchalantly, looking at Dean as if checking him over himself.
“Figured Johnny could use a little time without me for a bit. I didn’t go far.” Caleb shrugged.
“Keeping bedside vigil while John’s not around?” he asked and then suddenly turned to look at the small figure almost curled up to Dean’s side. “What happened to Stretch? I thought he was doing the good little soldier routine?”
“Sam’s beat. Thought I’d take over. Deuce needs someone watching his back.”
“It’s the least you could do.” Bobby nodded. “Since you did shoot him and all.”
Caleb’s eyes snapped up to meet Bobby’s but then quickly looked away. “Shut up Bobby.”
Bobby frowned but then gave him a knowing look. “But then you aren’t really the one who shot him are you?”
“Bobby.” Caleb sighed loudly scrubbing a hand over his face. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I think you know damn well what I’m talking about Junior.” Bobby’s conviction didn’t falter.
“What do you want from me Bobby? Johnny seemed to have no trouble believing it.”
Bobby shrugged one shoulder. “Yeah well John’s always acted before he thought but then again I think he was more worried about the state of his son than what caliber bullet I pulled out of the kids gut.”
“Seems to have come from a rifle and I’m willing to bet that if we checked you gun we’d find it hasn’t been fired.” The older man was totally onto him and he wasn’t giving up.
“Does it really matter man?”
“Hell yes it matters kid.” Bobby snapped a little louder than he meant to, causing both hunters to look at the slumbering Winchester boys. Both remained oblivious. Bobby turned back to the young psychic.
We all make mistakes Caleb and despite what all you heroes like to believe you are only human.” Bobby stated carefully so that Caleb would take in what he was saying. “And sometimes kid we need these mistakes in order to learn from them.”
Caleb ran a hand through his dark hair still keeping his eyes on Dean. “What’s your point Bobby?”
“My point is that now you and your buddy here are going to be running two weeks of maneuvers in the closest thing John can find to a jungle this summer while Sammy sips sweat tea on Pastor Jim’s porch with Scout. Now tell me one thing. How the hell does that help anyone?”
“You’re telling me I should have let Sergeant Johnny go ape shit on Sammy’s ass?”
“I’m saying that by you and Dean protecting him all the time it’s not always for the best ... Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“You going to tell Johnny?”
“But you won’t.” Caleb said confidently.
“And why the hell not?”
“Because I don’t think Mackland would appreciate you doing surgery on one of his favorite nephews in a crummy two bit apartment.” A familiar smirk slowly appeared on his handsome face.
“You’re running to Daddy now?”
Caleb shrugged. “What can I say; it pays to be the son of someone so influential.”
Bobby snorted. “I aint scared of Mac.”
“Dean is Jim’s favorite …” Caleb trailed off and then caught the expended rifle bullet that Bobby threw to him.
“You’re a bastard Reaves anyone ever tell you that?” Bobby grumbled.
Bobby made to walk past him but stopped and turned back to face the young psychic. “You know I get it.”
“Sam isn’t the only one with one hell of a big brother.” Bobby patted him on the shoulder.
Caleb was momentarily speechless. He wasn’t sure how true the statement was. He wasn’t sure he did such a good job in the big brother department. He’d never gotten the chance to find out with a younger sibling of his own but he knew that Dean was the closest thing he would ever have to a little brother which was precisely why he had given in to the kids request to protect Sam. Dean wasn’t the only one with a little brother to protect.
“Who are you and what have you done with our Bobby Singer?” Caleb quipped when he had found his voice.
“Shut up kid, hallmark moment is over.” Bobby walked away from Caleb shaking his head.
“Christo,” Caleb called out as Bobby exited the room, flipping him the bird before he wad totally out of sight.
Caleb chuckled, pocketing the bullet and sat back down on his seat facing Dean to find that the teen was awake. “Deuce?” Dean’s eyes were clouded over with confusion upon first awaking but soon cleared up as he recognized his friends face.
“Where’s Dad?” he rasped, swallowing, his throat hoarse from crying out in pain.
“He’s asleep and before you ask Sammy is fine too. He’s what you might feel currently attached to your side.”
Dean looked next to him to find his younger brother curled up next to him, his next question had been answered. He looked back at Caleb. “Was that Bobby?”
“Yep, he came to check on his patient. I’d be careful man, the guys getting a little too doctor happy. He might try turning you into his personal guinea pig.”
Dean smiled and shook his head. “What were you two talking about? You gonna start braiding each others hair next?”
“Funny smartass and for you information Bobby’s hair isn’t long enough to braid.”
“Not like yours.” Dean’s smirk turned into a wince as he tried to shift on the bed, his hand automatically searching out the wound.
“Easy Deuce.” Caleb stood up and helped Dean shift up so he was lying higher up on the pillows.
“Thanks Caleb.” Dean’s words were spoken quietly but Caleb heard them nonetheless.
“For what?” he asked sitting back down in the chair locking his eyes on Dean’s bright green gaze.
“For you know … covering for Sammy.” He clarified what Caleb had already guessed he was talking about. “I am sorry that you got in trouble for it.”
“Don’t worry about me Deuce. I can handle whatever Johnny dishes out.”
“Still … thanks man. I owe you one.”
“Damn straight you and the runt owe me one … and you’re welcome.” Caleb patted the teen on the leg, giving it a squeeze before pulling back. “We’re gonna have to do something about that though.”
“I know.” Dean sighed and looked briefly at his sleeping brother before looking back at the psychic.
“I mean he might not get into or feel it like we do but if he is going to be watching our backs, more importantly your back then he has to pay attention. This could have been a whole lot worse than what it was.”
“Worse than a bullet in the gut?” Dean raised an eyebrow sarcastically.
“Had he been as good a shot as one of us we could be burning your corpse right now and that’s something I never want to have to deal with let alone from a friendly fire incident.” Caleb answered back in all seriousness.
“I know that Caleb but what do you want me to do? He won’t listen to dad, which just makes dad push him harder…”
“Then we’ll just have to make him listen to us. This isn’t an option kid. He needs to be good at this while he’s doing it!” Caleb interrupted.
“I know.” Dean conceded.
“Dean …” Caleb started and then stopped not sure exactly how he wanted to say what he wanted to say.
“What?” Dean asked tiredly. His wound was starting to throb but he didn’t miss the use of his name rather than Deuce.
“Sorry for what?” Dean was clearly confused now. They had already gone through the apologies what could Caleb possibly need to apologize for?
“You shouldn’t be lying here. I sensed you moments before Sam pulled the trigger. I should have warned him sooner before he got the shot off.” Caleb began twisting his ring around on his finger again, choosing to not look at his friend.
“Dude … you couldn’t have known. If anything it was probably our teasing the kid that got us in this mess, got him all nervous and jumpy before we even got started.”
“Let it go Damien … coz I am so not braiding your hair.” Caleb smiled at the attempted humor. Glad that Dean gave him an out because that was a third meaningful conversation he’d had in the last couple of minutes. “Want me to get your Dad?”
“No, its okay besides I think he’ll like you even less if you wake him up.” Dean chuckled as he kept his hand pressed against the bandaged wound.
Caleb frowned. “You want something?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Dean quipped, rolling his head to look directly at Caleb.
The psychic nodded and stood, walking over to the first aid kit that held some of Bobby’s best pain medication. This had been a close call and hit too close to home for Caleb’s liking. His biggest fear was losing any more of the people he loved. Bobby was right when he said that Dean was like a brother too him. He knew all too well how Dean felt when it came to protecting Sam because it was the same for him with the boys but especially Dean. Sometimes the protective streak made him wonder whether they were doing the right thing by bringing the boys up in this lifestyle. Sometimes he just wished he could keep them away from it all but in the end all he could do was have their backs and protect them, even against their own mistakes. He just hoped that it would be enough.
This story came from a request from Ridley that I write a version of her fic "Friendly Fire" and have Dean be shot in intsead ... thought that might apply here :)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. No Copyright infringement intended!!