We returned last week to our hiatus fan fiction series, which is building toward an epic Winchester summer adventure! In Chapter 1, “Every Thursday Night”, we discovered what Sam is doing on....well....every Thursday night during their summer months. Dean had been tinkering in the bunker’s garage, and Cas was off on some sort of Angelic errand. Then in Chapter 2, “Castiel’s Big Mistake”, we found out why Cas had been away, and what his big mistake had been. A couple of surprises at the end of that story led us to Chapter 3, "Mission from Bobby". The Winchester Family Business' Supernatural fan fiction hiatus series continues now with Chapter 4, "Countdown to Adventure"!
Each story is unique and can be read on its own, but for maximum Supernatural fun, we recommend starting at the beginning, with “Every Thursday Night”. “Let’s get on with the story, as Team Free Will gets ready for the biggest and best adventure they’ve ever had!
COUNTDOWN TO ADVENTURE
Sam, Dean and Cas spent another hour or so at Rufus's cabin, searching it thoroughly, but the journal was the only thing they'd found that they could use. Sam tucked it under his arm to take back with them to the bunker. Rufus had been an efficient and capable hunter in his own right, and it never hurt to have an extra reference book. Like his and Dean's dad's journal, Sam could see that Rufus had kept a lot of notes on his past cases. There was way too much to read through now, but Sam was going to keep it in the library with the other books on lore, and go through it when he had the time.
When they got back home, Dean told Cas to give him a few hours to grab some z's, and then Dean would be ready to roll.
As Dean headed down the hallway to his room, Sam took out his cell phone. "I'm going to call Garth, and find out if he's available," he told their angel friend. It shouldn't be an issue, he hoped. Garth was more or less officially retired from the hunting life. He was a werewolf who was married to another werewolf, and that kind of situation wasn't normally sustainable in the hunting world. But Garth had also kept in touch with the Winchesters, usually making himself available if they needed his help with something. They tried not to call on him too much though, not if they could help it. Regardless of what Garth and his wife were, they had never harmed any humans, and they had vowed that they never would. There had been a time when either Winchester might not have cared about that, one way or the other. A monster was a monster was a monster. But after everything that Sam and Dean had seen and dealt with over the years, they had learned that even in the world of the supernatural, things were not nearly so black and white. That book had it wrong; there were about a million shades of grey, in-between.
"What makes you think I could teach a class?" Garth asked the younger Winchester, once Sam had told their friend why he was calling.
"Why not?" Sam said, shrugging. "I am."
"Yeah, but you're....and I'm...." Garth was at a loss for words. He did know his stuff, of course, and he'd been passing that knowledge on to his wife, Bess. But Garth was no Winchester.
"Look, Garth, you'd really be helping me out, here," Sam said earnestly.
Their friend sighed. "OK, I'll tell you what: let me run it by Bess, first. I still have about half a dozen safe houses, in and around town. If Bess is OK with it, we'll move into one for the rest of the summer, so I can be close to the school. Unless you think you might want to take the con, once you come back."
Sam was thoughtful. "How about we just leave it open-ended, for now? I don't want to say one way or the other, until we see what we're dealing with, with this statue. I still have no idea what we're supposed to do with it, once we have it."
"How was Bobby?" Garth asked his friend, in a more subdued tone.
"He was fine," Sam replied automatically. Then, realizing how absurd that sounded, he amended his statement: "Well, you know what I mean. He seemed....content."
"Then, that's good, isn't it?" Garth remarked.
Sam was working his jaw again. "Yeah, I guess it is, Garth," he said finally. "I guess it is."
The friends made arrangements for Garth to come and meet Sam's class the following Thursday night, and then they hung up. Sam put his cell phone down and stared at the bookshelves for a while. But he wasn't thinking about books or lore, not at the moment. He was thinking about Bobby, and about how much he missed their friend. And Sam knew that Dean did too, even though they seldom talked about it.
"Cas...." Sam began to say, looking to the spot at the table where Cas had been sitting when Sam had placed the phone call.
But the angel was no longer there, and Sam had no idea what he'd been about to say, anyway. He sighed, reaching for his laptop.
"Come on out, Cas. Let me see it," Dean cajoled his friend. Cas was in the change room of the mens' clothing store at the local mall, trying on yet another combination of clothes.
This had been going on for the better part of an hour now, and even though the entertainment value was still there, Dean was starting to get a little annoyed now, too. Nothing Cas had tried on was any good; at least, not from the angel's point of view. Well, Dean had the same view, and he couldn't see anything wrong with the clothes Cas had tried on so far. It was all pretty much the same: shirt, pants, shorts, sandals, done. It wasn't like they were chicks, or anything. What was Cas being so picky about, anyway? Anything was an improvement over his friend's usual attire. True, it had taken a bit of an adjustment to see Cas in something other than his trenchcoat, but he couldn't wear that on the beach, or people would be giving him funny looks.
"Come on, Cas," Dean tried again. "Let's see. I'm sure it'll be fine."
Cas stood in front of the mirror in the change room, looking at his reflection with a dubious expression on his face. But he could sense that Dean was becoming impatient. How did humans choose different outfits to wear every day? Castiel had never thought about clothing in terms of how it looked on him prior to this; not really. He wore the same things, daily. The suit, shirt and tie, and the trenchcoat had been what Jimmy Novak had been wearing when Castiel had taken over his vessel. Back then, clothing had merely been a way to blend in with humans, and to preserve his vessel's modesty. But now that Cas had learned how humans thought with regard to these types of things, he knew that people, some of them at least, put a lot of stock in which clothes "went with" other clothes.
He emerged from the change room. "Do you think this shirt 'goes with' these shorts?" Cas asked Dean.
Dean rolled his eyes. "I'll say the same thing I said twenty outfits ago: it's fine, Cas. You look fine. Now let's pay for the stuff and get out of here, already!"
Cas was standing in front of the full-length mirror in the waiting room now, moving from side to side, looking at his reflection again. He caught one of the sales staff by the arm. "Do you think this looks OK?" the angel asked the man.
"Cas, I swear, man...." Dean said through gritted teeth. To his relief, the clerk gave Cas a nod and a thumbs-up. That seemed to satisfy the angel. He ducked back into the changing cubicle, emerging a few seconds later dressed in his usual ensemble. The sales clerk gaped. How was that possible? How had the guy changed clothes so fast?
Dean's lips twitched with amusement. He could see the little hamster wheel turning in the guy's mind. Not that Dean could blame him. The first time Dean had seen Cas do that, it had freaked him out, too.
But the silver lining was that Cas was finally good to go. The angel's arms were loaded down with all the clothes he had tried on.
"Good. Great," Dean said, letting out a breath. He was nearly home-free. "Now, pick which ones you're gonna buy, and leave the rest here. They'll put them back."
Cas looked at the bundle uncertainly. His eyes widened, then narrowed in concentration. Finally, he said, "Maybe I should try the white shirt with the blue shorts."
As Dean debated the merits versus the consequences of punching his best friend in the face, Cas sighed. "I'll take them all," he said to the sales clerk.
Dean let out the breath he'd been holding. He wasn't sure who was happier, right now: him, or the store employee, who probably worked on commission. "You heard the man," he said, gesturing. "Let's wrap this up."
Minutes later, Cas was holding a half-dozen bags, stuffed full of clothes. "Happy?" Dean asked his friend, rolling his eyes.
"Yes, Dean," Cas replied, although he wasn't smiling. The reason for that became evident a moment later when the angel smiled nervously, looking closely at his friend's face. "Now, we have to look for swimsuits."
Sam had been noodling around on his computer for a while when his brother and Cas got back from their errands. Dean dropped a bag on the table, beside Sam's laptop.
"Are those my sandals?" Sam asked his brother, not looking up from the screen.
"No," Dean replied. "It's your dinner. I'm tagging out. You and Cas can go shopping for sandals, tomorrow." He shuddered. "Life's too short."
Dean headed down the hall to his room with his purchases as Cas followed behind, giving Sam a shrug on the way by.
Once his brother and their friend had stashed their purchases and come back out into the library area, Sam was already partway through his food.
"I wasn't able to find out very much about Ba'al and Anat, and a lot of the information I did find out wasn't extremely helpful," he said to the others. "I wanted to see if I could find out something about a possible connection between the amulet and the figurine. Ba'al was one of the horned bull gods in the Bible. He was a - "
"He and El were Canaanites," Cas interrupted him. "Everybody knows that."
Sam looked at their angel friend with raised eyebrows. They did? He was highly skeptical. In fact, as Sam looked at his brother, he wasn't even sure that everybody in this room knew that.
"Hey, 'Project Runway'," Dean said to Cas, gesturing with his beer bottle. "Let Sam talk." He looked at his younger brother. "OK, Sammy. Ba'al. Horns. Bible. Go."
"Ba'al is the God of Life, according to Google," Sam went on.
"Cool," Dean remarked. He touched the necklace. Ever since Bobby had said to keep it close, Dean had gotten into the habit of slipping it around his neck after his morning shower.
"Of course, some other sites call him the God of Fertility," Sam added with a wry smile.
Dean let go of the amulet like it was hot to the touch. Yikes.
"His sister is Anat, the Goddess of War. I found some artists' interpretations of what the figurine should look like." He turned the laptop around on the table so Dean and Cas could see the screen.
"What's that on her head?" Dean said, peering closer.
Cas made an impatient motion, and Sam suppressed a grin. Their angel friend obviously knew the answer, but he wasn't sure if he should say so, following Dean's scolding. Finally, Cas couldn't take it any longer: "It's an atef crown," he remarked.
Dean waited, but apparently, that was it. Well, that certainly cleared that up, didn't it? He restrained himself from rolling his eyes again, but just barely. "Looks like a lampshade on her head," he commented. "And why's her arm up in the air? Is she testing out a new deodorant, or something?"
Sam's forehead wrinkled in puzzlement, and then he realized what Dean was talking about. "In some drawings, she's holding an axe, and in some others, she's not," Sam told them.
"So we're looking for a party girl, who likes to chop people up with an axe?" Dean said, taking another drink from his beer bottle. "Awesome."
"It's just a statue, Dean," Cas said quietly. But he was thinking about the loud pounding on Rufus's cabin walls, and a woman's voice, screaming to be let out. Was it just a statue, or was there more to it than that?
The next few days passed by uneventfully, for the most part. Preparations were underway for their imminent departure, which meant taking on mundane tasks such as laundry, and cleaning out food from the kitchen that could spoil when they were gone.
All that remained now was for Sam to introduce Garth to his class, and assure them that he was leaving them in very capable hands. After some debate with himself about it, Sam had decided to tell his students that a sudden family obligation had arisen, one that he couldn't get out of. He didn't want them to think that he was bailing on them just to go on a tropical holiday. Which he was, kind of. But the addition of the quest for that figurine made it seem like just enough of a case to justify what he was doing. That was, if he even had to justify it at all. He and Dean had never had a vacation. Never.
Besides, he was leaving them with an excellent substitute. Sam had filled Garth in on what they had covered so far, also mentioning the fact that he'd used the pseudonym "Russell Johnson" to teach the class. Garth had found that funny. He'd come up with his own fake name: Jasper McGillicuddy. Sam had given Garth a double-take on that one, but when no further elaboration was forthcoming, Sam just put it down to a Garth-ism, and moved on.
But there was one problem that Sam really should have forseen. He guessed he'd been so preoccupied with the upcoming trip and checking items off of his mental checklist that the dilemma hadn't occurred to him until it was too late to do anything about it.
Garth had met all of the students now except for two: the usual suspects, who always seemed to arrive borderline late, and in a rush.
"Sorry, Russ," Grace said breathlessly, barreling through the door. "One of these days, my brother might actually surprise me, and get us here on time."
"We're on time," Frank said, sauntering into the room behind her. "He just - "
Frank stopped short, glaring at Garth. Grace had already gotten to her desk and she'd been taking her books and notepad out, but now she stopped, too, and her eyes narrowed.
Oh, geez, Sam thought. They know. They know what he is. Sam could have kicked himself. Frank and Grace weren't just students, they were a brother-sister hunting team. Since the day that Sam had helped them out with that nest of vetalas, he'd come to know that the siblings were a lot more experienced than he'd thought. The three of them had gone out for a drink one night not long after that incident to a bar frequented by hunters, and they had swapped stories about different types of monsters they'd dealt with over the years. That had been a fun couple of hours. In fact, when they got back from their trip, Sam had been intending to invite Frank and Grace over to the bunker, so they could check out the library. Frank had also expressed an interest in seeing some of the classic cars they had in the garage.
Well, they had a few less of those now, thanks to Dean. But the memories they would have from their vacation would be something they couldn't put a price on, and that would also be thanks to Dean.
First, though, Sam had this situation to deal with. "Frank, Grace, could I talk to you both for a minute, please?" Sam said, gesturing to the siblings. "Sorry; we'll be right back," he told Garth and the rest of the class.
The instant they were in the hallway, Frank wheeled on him. "You've gotta be kidding us with this, Sam," the man protested. He and Grace knew Sam's true name, of course, but they respected his alias within the confines of the classroom.
"I know, I know," Sam said, raising his hands in supplication. "But, just let me explain. Yeah, Garth is a werewolf. But he's also a semi-retired hunter, and he's one of our friends."
Sam went on to give the two of them a brief summary of his and Dean's relationship with Garth, emphasizing the fact that neither Garth nor his wife Bess had ever harmed a human.
Grace was eyeing Sam warily. "Are you one hundred percent sure about that?" she asked their new friend. "I took a night class to get educated, not eaten."
"He's fine, I promise," Sam assured her. "I would never have brought him here if I thought that there was any danger to any of you. OK? You can trust me."
There was silence for a moment, and then Frank heaved a sigh. "All right, Sam. If you say it's okay, then I trust you." He smirked. "I'll just have to make sure to bring something made out of silver to class, in case he gives me a bad grade," Grace's brother quipped.
Sam knew what Frank was like by now, so he shrugged off the comment. "Don't worry; he grows on you," the younger Winchester told the brother and sister with a lopsided grin. It was true, too. When he and Dean had first met Garth, the young man had struck them as a bit of an oddball, to be charitable about it. More than just a little overconfident, too, considering how new he was to being a hunter. But Garth had eventually won them over, and he had proven to be a loyal and helpful friend.
Like now, for example. It would have been a lot harder for Sam to leave town if Garth hadn't been willing to step up and take over his class at a moment's notice. As Sam, Frank and Grace came back into the classroom, Garth was engaging the students in a lively conversation about which was more gross: spiders, snakes, or scorpions.
Grace wrinkled her nose in disgust. "I hate spiders," she remarked, taking her seat.
Sam shook his head slowly. It was funny, really. It just went to show that everybody had something. He had seen Grace take on and beat a snake monster that was nearly twice her size, yet she was afraid of spiders. Dean Winchester was the most fearsome hunter around, but snakes gave him the creeps. And Sam himself had a thing about clowns. Everybody had something.
Sam grinned. "Speaking of things that are gross, who can tell me how to recognize a pishtaco?"
"A fish taco?" Frank wisecracked. "You just bite into it!"
"Good luck with this guy," Sam said to Garth, gesturing to Frank. But Garth was grinning now, too. Frank's humour was always well-timed, and his quips helped liven up the class when everyone started to get tired toward the end of the night.
Both Sam and Garth had ended up teaching the class that evening, and at the end of it, any reluctance Sam might have had to leave his students in Garth's hands was gone. Garth was a natural, keeping the class both educational and entertaining.
Frank and Grace hung back, until all of the other students were gone.
"Can we buy you guys a beer?" Frank said to Garth, extending his hand. "I think I might have judged you a little too harshly, when we first got here." He nodded toward his sister. "But, you've got to understand...."
"Ain't no thing." Garth said, half-shrugging. The men shook hands. "I get that a lot. I know it's more than a little weird, me being - what I am - and a hunter too, but there are more things, Horatio. You know what I mean?" Garth looked down at Grace. "I mean, look at you. What are you, five feet one? But Sam tells me you can handle yourself, and then some. So that just goes to show you, you can't judge a book by its cover. Am I right?"
Grace was annoyed. It was always the same thing: whenever they met another hunter, her height was always the first thing they commented on. "What do you weigh, like, a hundred pounds, maybe?" she shot back, looking Garth up and down. "But I guess you can handle yourself, too. Am I right?"
Garth was taken aback for a moment, and then he smiled. "OK, I guess I deserved that. But, just so you know, I go as high as a hundred and ten, with change in my pockets."
They all had a laugh, and then Frank said, "So, how about it?"
But Garth shook his head. "Sorry, I promised Bess I'd come right home after class. Maybe next time. It was good to meet the both of you, though."
"How about you, Sam?" Grace asked the younger Winchester. He thought for a second. "Sure, why not?"
Frank bought Sam a beer, and his sister a glass of wine.
"So, tell us," Frank said calmly, taking a drink from his beer bottle. "Where are you really going?"
"Is it a case?" Grace said eagerly.
Sam smiled, shaking his head. These two were sharp. He took a drink, stalling. Still, he couldn't see the harm in telling them what was really going on. So he gave them a condensed version of the story.
"Wow," Grace marveled. "I'm not sure what I'm more impressed by: the fact that you're after this spooky statue, or the fact that you're going on a Caribbean vacation." She looked at her brother, frowning. "We've never been on a vacation. With Frank, it's just work, work, work."
Sam said nothing. He knew better than to get in the middle of a dispute between two siblings. He and Dean had sure had some big dust-ups, over the years.
And, speaking of which.... "What's going on, Sammy?" Dean said, sauntering up to their table. "Need a designated driver?"
"No, I just texted you because I thought you and Cas might want to come down for a Holiday Eve drink," Sam told his brother. "Maybe shoot some pool."
Dean sat down at the table, next to Frank. "OK; who are you two, and what did you do with my nerdy, no-fun brother?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, 'Bob'," Frank said with a smirk. Dean did a double-take, and then he remembered: When Sam had first introduced him to the brother and sister, he'd said that Dean's name was "Bob". That was before everybody had known who everybody was.
"Where's Cas?" Sam asked his brother.
"He's at home, trying on clothes," Dean said, shaking his head slowly. "I'll tell you, Sammy, I think we've created a real monster, there. Maybe you should bring him to your next class, for Show and Tell." He rose from his chair. "I'm gonna get a beer. Anybody else?"
"I'll go with you," Frank said, standing up. "Want to go halves on the Special? It's Thursday, so it's the Carnivore Platter."
"What's on it?" Dean asked Grace's brother.
"Who cares?" Frank retorted. "It's meat, meat, and more meat. What else do you need to know?"
"I think I like this guy," Dean said, gesturing to Frank. The two men left the table.
Grace was smiling. She took a sip of her wine, then looked at Sam. "Cas is your angel friend, isn't he?" she said quietly, making sure no one else around overheard.
"What's it like, having an angel for a friend?" Grace wanted to know.
The younger Winchester thought about it for a moment. "Different," he said, finally. "Challenging. Exasperating." Then Sam smiled. "Terrific."
Grace smiled back. "Frank and I will have to meet him, sometime."
"When we get back, you two can come over to the bunker," Sam said.
"We'd like that," Grace responded, and she lifted her wine glass. Sam clinked his beer bottle lightly against it.
Frank and Dean returned to the table a few minutes later, talking excitedly about classic cars. Sam nodded to himself. He'd figured as much.
"I told Grace that after we get back, we would invite her and Frank over for dinner," Sam told his brother.
Dean looked at Sam, surprised. He tried to remember the last time they'd had anybody over for a purely social visit, and found that he couldn't. When he and Frank had been over at the bar ordering the Special and another round, Dean had discovered that he really did like Frank. The guy was friendly and funny, and Dean could bet that he had a lot of good stories about hunts he and Grace had been on. It might be fun to sit down to a meal with the brother and sister, and compare notes. He and Sam would be able to match them interesting story for interesting story, that was for sure. When Frank had mentioned that Sam had told him and Grace where the men were really going and why, Dean had been irritated with his brother. Why did Sam have to go blabbing about that? But now, Dean thought he could understand. It was good to have friends they could be themselves around. When you did what they did, it was hard to be around so-called "normal" people for more than a couple of hours at a time.
"Sounds good," Dean said, nodding. He looked at Grace. "But, be warned: the first person who says anything to Cas about what shirt goes with what pants is gonna regret it. One way, or the other."
The server came to their table, bearing a massive platter of food. "Here you go. Carnivore's Delight. Or, as my cardiologist would call it, a heart attack on a plate. Watch out: the beef bites are really, really hot."
"Ohhh, Sammy, look at this," Dean said open-mouthed, surveying the contents of the platter. "Are you sure you should be sitting here for this? Do you want me to see if they can scrounge up some celery sticks for you?"
Sam made a face at his brother. "Very funny. Not necessary, Dean. In fact...." He extended his plate across the table. "Give me a couple of those beef whatevers. I want to try them."
Dean's eyes widened, then narrowed. "Are you absolutely sure you're my brother? Are you sure this isn't some kind of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers-type situation we've got going on, here? Maybe I should ask you a question only my real brother would know the answer to." He thought for a moment. "How many different kinds of conditioner does the real Sammy use on his hair?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Would you just....?" He gestured with his plate.
Dean looked at him suspiciously for another moment as Grace and Frank grinned at each other, enjoying the give-and-take between the brothers. Then Dean shrugged and grabbed a few of the beef bites with his bare hand, putting them on Sam's plate.
"Dude!" Sam chided him, nodding to Grace and Frank.
"What?" Dean said.
"Ummm....I think Sam meant you should use a fork, in case we wanted some, too," Grace said dryly.
"Don't worry about it," Dean joked. "I almost always wash my hands, after chopping off a vamp's head."
But as Grace rolled her eyes, Dean started to feel it: "Ow!" he exclaimed, looking at his hands. His fingertips were beginning to turn red.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what they call karma," Grace said pertly, grabbing her fork. She speared a couple of chicken strips, putting them on her plate.
"Son of a - " Dean looked around frantically, hoping to find some way to ease the stinging. He eyed his beer bottle, for a moment. Alcohol, on a burn? No. Bad idea.
He reached into his jacket pocket, wondering if what he was looking for was still there.... Yahtzee. When he'd been packing his suitcase earlier, Dean realized he'd forgotten to get sunscreen. He didn't mind coming home with a tan, but he didn't feel like getting roasted like a chicken on a spit, either. He'd been in the drugstore when Sam had texted him to come here, so Dean had shoved the tube into his jacket pocket and headed straight to the bar.
But when he put his burnt hand in there, Dean exclaimed again. Geez! Now, it hurt even worse! What the....? Then, he realized: he'd also stashed the amulet in there.
Bobby'd said he was supposed to keep it with him at all times, but he hadn't said anything about actually wearing it. Dean loved his brother more than life itself, but he couldn't count the number of times they'd been in the middle of a fight, and the thing had come flying up and hit him in the face. Once, he'd even chipped a tooth.
And now, it had hurt him again. Dean withdrew his hand hastily from his pocket, looking at his fingers. He must have stuck his already burned finger on one of the horns, or something. Thanks a lot, Ba'al. For something that was supposed to be a protective charm, the amulet was sure doing a lousy job of it, so far.
Luckily, the stinging sensation eased in a few minutes, and then Dean was able to enjoy the food, and the company. They spent another fun hour or so there at the bar, and then the two pairs of siblings went their separate ways.
The brothers woke early the next morning to find Cas already waiting for them, smiling excitedly. Thirty minutes later, Team Free Will was heading to the airport, to begin their Caribbean adventure.
Will Cas ever find out which shirt goes with which shorts?
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