Disclaimer: I don't own Sam, Dean, John, or Bobby, but I do own Eric and Officers Johnson and Ramen - Yay me!

A/N: So, I was more than a little pleased with the last chapter's cliffhanger ending ... and I know some of you weren't, hehe. Hopefully, this makes up for it; enjoy!
Please see warnings in chapter one.

I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story. It really means the world.

When Mary died, John wasn't prepared to take care of two young boys, much less a baby. Elizabeth took Sam for the weekend and just … never brought him back.
At the time, John thought it was for the best; sixteen years later, it seems it didn't much matter anyway.


Through heavy eyelashes, Sam took note of his surroundings.

The walls were gray – stone, rough and not somewhere people normally gathered, if the demonic symbols etched deep into the rock were anything to go by. Voices were pitched low, and Sam had counted ten so far, but that didn't mean there weren't more. The smell of burning eucalyptus and sulfur hung thick in the air, suffocating Sam and making feigning sleep difficult.

Whoever these people were – and Sam was only about eighty percent sure they even were human – they didn't seem to care one way or the other if Sam woke; two of them grabbed his arms and ankles roughly, carrying him across the room. Warmth from the fire seeped into Sam's right side, but his back and left side remained chilled from contact with the cold floor … and blood loss.

Naturally, the first thing Sam did after waking up in a strange place and surrounded by ill-meaning beings was assess his injuries. Two of his ribs were bruised, but not badly, and his head hurt like all hell was trapped inside and pissed off about it. The faint coppery smell was coming from a gaping hole in his side, of which Sam had no recollection. Other than that, he felt peachy, and ready to kick whatever asses needed kicking to get out of this mess; but not before he came up with a plan.

"Look who's awake; rise and shine, sweetie." The voice was feminine, and familiar; Valerie. A cold hand ran through Sam's hair, and his eyes flew open of their own accord. Valerie smiled down at him.

Sam opened his mouth to make a retort, something along the lines of go to hell, bitch, but he was gagged. That was … surprising, actually; he hadn't noticed until that moment. There weren't any ties or restraints on him otherwise; just the gag. Sam reached up to remove the cloth, which tasted as though it had been dunked in salt water … gross. Sam tried not to think about why that might be.

Valerie's hand shot out with unimaginable speed and locked his wrist in midair. She smiled indulgently and shifted, keeping a firm hold on Sam's arm. "Oh, Sam." She sighed with false regret. Her hand moved back to his hair; Sam tried reach up to stop her, but she just grabbed that wrist, too, and added it to her little collection, somehow leaving one hand free to continue petting him.

Any attempt at words was useless, but Sam still managed a seething glare. It got his point across.

Valerie laughed. It wasn't the same laugh she had used back outside Ingrid; it was darker, as though something volatile was lurking behind it, waiting to be unleashed on the unwary.

"I would say I'm sorry for what we're about to do to you, Sam, but I'm really not. And neither should you be. You have been chosen to participate in a momentous occasion, Sam." Valerie smiled ominously again. Her fingers twisted in Sam's hair, tugging sharply. "This will be our most important ceremony yet, and you are the guest of honor. Not many can even dream of fulfilling as great a purpose as you are being given." Her tone turned almost wistful and her hands stilled, as though she had forgotten where she was.

Seizing his moment, Sam threw himself away from Valerie, hoping to take advantage of her distraction. It didn't work.

Valerie seemed to come back to herself, and she restrained Sam easily. "You should be proud, Sam." She informed him, as though nothing had happened. She sounded dead serious.

This seemed to be the signal for two of her buddies to come and pull Sam to his feet, pushing, pulling, and dragging him towards a six-foot stone altar set up in the middle of the cavern. Sam fought back with everything he had, but it wasn't enough; he was weak and dizzy after only a few minutes of hard struggle. They called over a third man, and Sam was soon lashed to the altar, with ropes across his legs, chest, and tying his hands above him so that he was completely vulnerable.

Sam's head rolled lethargically on the smooth stone; it as all he could do to keep his eyes open. The smoke from the fire was getting bigger; it was beginning to fill the surprisingly large space, clogging the air with fumes that left a bitter taste and made Sam strangely sleepy.

None of Sam's kidnappers seemed to be having a problem staying awake or breathing; they probably inhaled whatever it was they were burning for kicks, while chanting their gothic, wannabe mumbo-jumbo. Most of the spells and wards Sam had seen on the walls were small potatoes; nothing really dangerous, but frightening in the sole fact that these freaks had somehow managed to get a hold of them.

The only really disturbing thing Sam had seen so far was drawn onto the altar he was now stretched out on, currently resting in the middle of his back. The symbol was drawn in white chalk, as it must be to work properly for such a ritual, and Sam was sweating bullets at what it meant.

A summoning ritual.

These idiots were trying to work a summoning ritual, with Sam as the unwilling sacrifice needed to draw the spirit in to where they could, theoretically, control it. But there was no way in hell any of them knew what they were doing, except maybe Valerie. The only way this was going to end was in disaster.

Looking around at all of the misled teenagers – most not much older than Sam himself – Sam hoped he wouldn't have to kill them; assuming, of course, that he could get free and gather enough adrenaline-fueled energy to do so.

Most of the kids didn't appear the type to be into this kind of thing, and about half looked terrified to even be there. Sam would bet his life – he was – that, given the choice, the odds came down to about four of them against him. Not great odds in his current state … pretty shitty odds, actually.

One of the girls stalked boldly across the room to stand by Sam's head. She was pretty; a redhead, with deep green eyes that were currently wide with excitement as she lifted a curved knife above her head and began chanting in Latin. She was one of the four Sam had picked out as true fanatics.

The foreign words quickly picked up, moving faster and louder as they ricocheted in the cave, and the girl began to sway. Her eyes had glazed over, lending an extra hint of crazy to the spectacle. Others joined in the chant, and the noise was deafening.

The knife was poised, glimmering in the firelight, and the green eyes above Sam mirrored the blade; cold and indifferent.

With a final, terrible cry, the arm swung, the knife came down, and Sam screamed.

XXX

John watched in horror as one of the psychopaths huddled in the cave brought the knife down. He was already moving, but he was too late. John yelled in fury and fear as the blow landed.

The blade pierced skin, and the scream struck John's heart.

Everything was a blur of motion and fire and angry faces as the cultists turned toward the intruders. Before John even knew what he was doing the redheaded girl with the knife – just a kid, just a kid – was on the floor, arm bent at a strange angle John had seen too many times. He didn't pause to register the fact that her arm was broken, or even to wonder if he had killed her as he hurried to Sam's side.

Sam was pale; he had lost a lot of blood. John's hands moved like a conductor's, flitting rapidly in the air but not making contact with the body on the altar. John was afraid to touch the boy – his son – without knowing what exactly had been done to him; the last thing Sam needed right now was internal injuries.

The sounds of a quick battle engulfed the cavern for less than a minute before all fell silent. Most of the kids went willingly where Dean and Bobby told them to, obviously terrified of the hunters. They stayed in a tight knot, clinging to themselves and each other, making no sound but the occasional whimper.

Dean took up a post between Sam and his dad and the cultists, scowling fiercely and brandishing his weapon, daring anyone to make a move. A few of the boys glared at him challengingly, but Dean didn't think they'd try anything; they looked like high school kids, and they probably were. Not big bad supernatural creatures, but evil nonetheless. At the very least misguided, and if that was the case then Dean, John, and Bobby would need to single out the leader before they left and teach him or her a lesson in manipulating innocent kids.

Bobby walked slowly back to stand beside his longtime friend, looking down at the kid he had somehow grown attached to. Neither John nor Sam was moving. John had lifted Sam up, and was clutching the boy to his chest, crushing him, his face buried in Sam's hair.

It broke Bobby's heart, and he came damn close to letting a tear or two fall, but they couldn't afford such luxuries as loose emotion now; Sam needed medical attention.

John let Bobby pry Sam from his arms grudgingly, hovering as Bobby examined the wounds.

Bruised ribs, knife wound in his side – that's probably where they got Sam's blood for the sacrificial knife coating – and a possible concussion, but by far the most worrying injury was the knife that was embedded to its hilt in Sam's shoulder. That would be a bitch to remove, but at least the girl's aim hadn't been better; without the distraction of their less-than-stealthy entrance, they might have been recovering a corpse, instead of treating a victim.

"Dean," Bobby called, glancing briefly at John; the other man didn't seem to hear him, focused completely on Sam. Bobby didn't blame him. "We gotta go – now."

"What about these idiots?" Dean asked, keeping his gun leveled on his captives. None of the kids seemed aware of the fact that it was only a stun gun, for which Dean was enormously grateful.

Bobby thought for a moment. "Leave 'em here. We'll seal 'em in an' call the cops." He ordered. Sam needed medical attention, and talking to the police would take too long, not to mention how awkward trying to explain all of this to the authorities would be.

Dean nodded and began backing towards the other hunters, eyes still on the cultists.

John lifted Sam gently, with all the care of a worried father, and headed for the door with Bobby in tow and Dean slowly bringing up the rear.

Before he followed Bobby out, Dean paused for a moment. "Now, if any of you try to leave before I say you can, I swear on my own grave that I will shoot you. Got it?" he waited for the terrified nods and then turned and walked briskly after his father and his friend … and Sam.

XXX

Whoever thought the bland color schemes of hospital waiting rooms might be soothing should be fired immediately. And then shot … repeatedly.

Dean glanced over to where John was pacing, his agitation apparent. Dean would have questioned why John was so worried about a kid he had never even met, but he felt the exact same way; the only reason he wasn't wearing a twin rut beside his father was Bobby, who harrumphed grumpily until Dean sat back down. John either didn't hear Bobby, or didn't care enough to stop.

"Family of Samuel Winchester?" a nurse in green scrubs called out, peering around the room.

Dean and Bobby jumped up, but John beat them both to the nurse, who was looking a little bit intimidated by the three fierce men looming over him.

John got right up in the nurse's personal space, scowling impatiently. "Where is he? Is he alright?" he demanded harshly.

The nurse – his nametag said Eric – smiled pleasantly and placed a reassuring hand on John's arm. At John's glare of death he quickly reversed the movement. He cleared his throat uncomfortably before speaking. "Samuel is stable, and the doctor is confident that, in time, he will make a full recovery. However, before you can see him, I need you to answer a few questions."

Bobby moved to stand in front of the Winchester men, shouldering John roughly back. Eric looked relieved, though he tried valiantly to hide it. "What kinda questions?" Bobby asked.

"Well," Eric said somewhat nervously, fidgeting with his clipboard. "Sam came in with some … unusual injuries. When a patient is admitted with a giant hole in his side, we like to know how it got there."

"We already told you; he was helping my dad and I at a construction site and he tripped onto an exposed pipe." Dean supplied. The lie had been hastily fashioned on the way to the emergency room, and so far it had held, but any doctor would know the difference between an on-the-job injury and a knife wound. They had all just been hoping to get Sam and get out before the police were called –

… Too late.

Bobby touched Dean's shoulder, directing his attention to two police officers standing uncertainly in the doorway. Dean turned back to Eric and found the young man nearly slumping with relief as he spotted the authorities.

"Officers!" Eric called, his voice going up two octaves until it was almost a squeak. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Officers, over here, please."

Dean cringed internally as the police gave him, John, and Bobby each a quick once-over. All three of them were dirty, and probably looked a mess.

"I'm Officer Johnson, and this is my partner, Officer Ramen." The darker of the two men introduced himself and his companion, who nodded genially. "I was told a teenage boy was admitted with a knife wound in his side?" he looked to Eric for confirmation.

Eric nodded. "Yes, this is his family; John Winchester, father, and Dean, Sam's brother. This is Bobby Singer, Sam's uncle."

Ramen studied John with silent appraisal. "You wanna tell us what happened, Sir?" he asked carefully.

Johnson nudged Ramen in the side. "Not here," he admonished. "Why don't we take this somewhere a little more private?"

Johnson turned to Eric, who hurried to lead the way to an unoccupied examination room. The nurse left them at the door, and Johnson motioned for the Winchesters and Bobby to follow Ramen in.

The room was decorated in shades of salmon, but it was at least better than the grey-and-blue motif of the waiting room. There were two chairs, one of which Bobby took. Dean sat on the exam table, legs hanging casually off the side, and John opted to stand. Ramen took the other seat and Johnson remained by the door, mimicking John's crossed arms and calculating expression.

"So, what happened?" Johnson asked finally, directing the question at John.

John shrugged. "Like we told the doctors, Sam was helping me and Dean at work and he fell onto a pipe. Kid's been all legs since last summer; uncoordinated."

"Doctor said it was a knife wound." Johnson pointed out evenly.

John stared the cop down, and Dean glanced at Bobby. The last thing they needed right now was a couple of pissed off police officers after their hide, and John seemed completely oblivious to how suspiciously he was acting. Bobby shrugged and kept his eyes on John.

Ramen seemed to notice Dean's deference to Bobby, because he aimed the next question at the grizzled hunter. "So, Mr. Singer," he drawled, tone almost disinterested but eyes appraising. "Where were you when Sammy was injured?"

"It's Sam." Dean corrected automatically. Everyone turned to stare at him, and he felt his face heat. "His uh, his name is Sam. Not Sammy." He clarified, clearing his throat embarrassedly. Dean wasn't sure why the officer not using the nickname was important, but for some reason … it just was.

Ramen nodded slowly, focusing on Dean now. "Alright then, Sam it is. Are you and Sam close, Dean?" he asked.

Dean shot a look at Bobby, unsure how to reply. He realized only after his eyes met Bobby's that such uncertainty from the supposed brother of the victim might make the police suspicious, and he hurried to answer. "Uh, yeah; yeah, Sam and I are real close." It sounded strained even to him, and he wasn't looking into a possible child abuse or attempted murder of a teenage boy.

Ramen and Johnson exchanged a glance, and Dean knew they were screwed.

"I think we'll need you all to come down to the station with us."

TBC