A few hours passed. Dean woke and noticed that Bobby had dropped off to sleep in his chair. He went to the phone and looked up the barbecue place in the phone book. They delivered! He called and ordered brisket, sausage, chicken, beans, potato salad, and rolls. He paid for it over the phone and gave them the address. He went down to Ben's office and let Ben and Cas know that dinner would arrive in 24 minutes. Both of them nodded, Ben thanking Dean quietly for the trouble he went to for that. Dean smiled at both of them. He mentioned that the others were still asleep and he was going to let them. Midnight was still a while away.
"Of course, they manipulated time last night."
"I think that was because we were up so late," Castiel commented as the group headed back to the suite.
"True." They entered the suite quietly. Dean had tea, beer, coffee, sodas, and hot tea ready.
Ben laughed softly as the angel went straight for the root beer. It seemed Cas had developed a strong fondness for the beverage. Dean laughed as he watched Cas. He wondered if Cas was getting addicted to the root beer as well as the hot chocolate? He wanted to go back to Starbucks and get Cas some gift certificates also.
"Have you offered him cream soda yet? Or better yet, root beer floats."
Dean grinned. "No. But, that's something I will have to do. He definitely seems to have a sweet tooth."
Ben chuckled. "Definitely have to try them. My brother was the one that got me stuck on the floats. I think I've got the makings for it here. We'll have to indulge later."
"That's a good idea."
Castiel went to wake Sam up, and the host flinched at the sudden loud yelp from the bedroom.
"What in the world?"
Dean ran towards the bedroom, hearing Bobby wake behind him. He barged into the dark room.
"Damn it to hell, Cas. I'm gonna pluck your wings and fry them up!"
"What the hell happened?"
Castiel looked innocent as Sam spat his answer out at his brother. "He put something cold on the back of my neck!"
Dean tried not smirk. "What did you do, Cas?"
He held up the bottle of root beer innocently, and Ben covered his face, laughing so very hard.
Dean leaned against the wall, holding his sides, laughing. Bobby snickered, ignoring the dirty looks they were all getting from Sam.
Dean, heard someone at the door. "Barbecue's here, guys!"
Sam perked up. "BBQ?"
"Yeah, brisket, chicken, and sausage with all the trimmings."
Dean went to the door and took the bags and signed the receipt. He headed to the dining area.
"Come and eat, guys.”
The group was sitting at the table, waiting for Dean to get back. Sam was still shooting glares at the oblivious angel. Dean brought plates, silverware, glasses, napkins, and seasonings. He brought Bobby a beer, and one for himself. The meal went by quickly with laughter and teasing. It felt nice to enjoy time together, even if Sam was picking on Castiel a lot more due to his prank earlier. Dean enjoyed the meal tremendously. He couldn't believe Cas' joke on Sam. It was a wonderful meal.
Bobby was still cackling to himself on occasion. It wasn't often Cas was able to pull one over on Sam.
Dean offered a toast to all of them and to a successful hunt. All of them replied in kind, hoping this hunt would go well. After they cleaned up after dinner, they sat in the sitting room. They explained to Ben what was gonna possibly happen, what they thought was going on, and what he would need to do. Dean turned on the DVD player and played the flute music. Ben listened, trying to figure out who this person could be that was causing so much trouble for him.
Dean had his eyes closed, but he did comment. "We have to have seen this person."
"That's just it though, I see a lot of people throughout the day."
"Yeah, but we don't and this person has seen us, but not Bobby."
He shook his head, trying to concentrate. Dean's brow was furrowed, running people through his mind. Ben couldn't think of anyone that fit that description.
Dean slowly drifted back to sleep, dozing softly. The group stayed quiet, researching as they waited for the time to approach.
The clock clicked on 11:45. Bobby threw a wadded up napkin at Dean to wake him up. Dean jumped reaching for his knife. "What?!"
"It's almost midnight," he answered.
Dean got up and walked into the bathroom and washed his face. He got his gun and ammunition, and the knife. He grabbed his jacked and put it on.
Sam had also geared up and surprisingly, Ben had too.
"Bobby, if you don't plan on coming, you'll need to go the bedroom. If you are coming, what weapons do you want?"
"Shotgun with rock-salt, plenty of ammo, and at least one hand gun."
Dean headed to the Impala and brought Bobby the items he asked for. Castiel was ready as well, finishing up the last minute parts needed to trap the ghost. Dean looked up at the clock and watched the minute hand draw close to 12. Everyone was ready, the older brother slowly counting the seconds.
At the stroke of midnight, the room began to grow icy cold. Dean tensed and started looking around. As soon as Dickens appeared, the candles immediately lit, filling the room with their horrid smell. Dean choked, but kept his gun drawn.
The sound of chanting filled the air and something glowed on the floor. Dean backed away from the area.
Dickens stared at them for a moment. "I haven't seen anyone with spells this ancient before."
"Cas is a lot more ancient then anyone you know."
"Then I'm glad he is on your side," was the soft murmur.
"We need to talk, Mr. Dickens. Do you know who is conjuring?"
"Partially but I am forbidden by spell to speak of it. If you could solve this, I'd be grateful. I am tired of having my rest disturbed."
"It's not a curse, is it? My gut tells me it's just a spell of control."
It was obvious he was fighting to try to answer, which gave Sam enough of an answer. "I'd say that's a yes."
Dean looked relieved. "Spells can be easier then a curse. Deal with the caster and the spell is broken."
"Yes," the relieved look on the ghost's face told them that he agreed. "I do not know how much assistance I can provide."
"We need advice as we go along. We'd like you with us."
"I am bound to you through the spells the angel cast. However, due to the compulsion from the other, I may not have the answers you seek."
"We know but you may not be able to speak it but an eye at the right person would be helpful if you can."
The ghost nodded. "I will try."
The time passed slowly, edging towards one a.m.
Dean watched the clock, getting edgy. "Are these ghosts running in another time zone or something? This happened last night. Soon that clock will go backwards."
"Calm down, Dean," Castiel replied. "You will be no use if you are this nervous during the hunt."
"I'm never nervous during a hunt, Cas, but waiting does get on my nerves."
"Which will affect your skills. Calm down."
Dean looked at the angel, wondering what the hell? First Bobby getting bitchy and now Cas, knowing Dean knew his job, acting like Dean was a kid or something.
Sam tapped his brother on the shoulder. "They're just worrying about you."
Dean looked at Sam. "You wanna tell me how you know what I'm thinking? I'm not used to people acting like this. I know my job, Sammy. Honest, I do," Dean whispered.
He gave him a one armed hug. "That's the wonderful thing about being around people so much of the time. We get to be almost telepathic," he teased.
Dean shook his head. He understood part way, that this was supposed to be what family was like, but it was hard. He finally smiled back at his brother. He sighed and tried to relax. Thirty years of living made it hard. Sam poked him playfully, trying to get the smile into the hazel eyes.
Dean grinned and finally relaxed totally. This was family. His eyes sparkled a little and the laugh lines showed. Ahhh good. Castiel, Sam, and Bobby relaxed at that. They wanted Dean to be his amusing, smart ass self for this. If nothing else, it would help draw out their necromancer.
Dean got up, hit replay on the DVD player and flute music started playing. He leaned back in his chair and pulled his legs up, relaxed. He waited. The entire group waited in silence, occasionally cracking a joke. It gave Ben an insight into the unusual sense of humor this group possessed and helped him understand this family better. Times like this, he missed his brother.
Dean closed his eyes, not sleeping, alert but enjoying the music and conversation. Time passed slowly, but pleasantly as they took the opportunity to bond. Dean got into the mood of things and was laughing and joking with the rest.
Slowly but surely, it wound down to one a.m. The older Winchester happened to glance at the clock and noticed it going backwards. He froze in mid-sentence. The room started to grow cold.
"Guess it's time," Sam murmured. "Let's give them hell."
"Yeah, should be a little easier, we'll be protecting Ben and finding that SOB who is doing this. Our turn was last night. He's found out he couldn't take us. Now we get to go after him, Sammy."
Castiel drew the group together, eyes watchful for the first visiting spirit. Dean stood with his brother, both holding guns, Cas, near Ben, kept control over the spell on Dickens. Bobby was near them, armed to the teeth.
Two figures emerged from the mist, and Bobby growled. Of all the people to show up, it had to be him.
Dean froze, then reached out to his brother, a hand on his arm. "What the hell?"
"Son of a..."Sam's voice trailed off.
Dean shook a little. He looked at Sam. "I can't do this one, Sammy. I might have to put a bullet in him. Don't know if I can do that. I don't want the memories he brings."
Bobby growled. "I sure as hell can. Shot his ass before."
Dean stared at the other ghost, a decrepit looking man in a moth-eaten bathrobe. His brows raised in question. "Sammy, who the hell is that supposed to be?"
Ben answered that one. "That's my ancestor, the one I'm named for."
"You got to be kidding? The book's Scrooge? Dickens, he the one that started all this? Would he know what's going on? Damn it, Sam, they gonna try to split us or have us together but in two different realities?”
"Let's wait and see,' he commented as Dickens nodded. "My old friend, Ebenezer."
"Okay, how do we want to handle this? I don't like it. To be honest, Sammy, I'm a little scared of this one. Don't have much choice though, it looks like. After last night, I thought our haunting was over. He's got to be playing divide and conquer. This ain't gonna turn out good."
Castiel was tense as the ghosts looked at them. It was obvious both were not comfortable but bound to their tasks.
"Cas, whatever you do, stick with Dickens and Ben. Please? Sammy and I got Bobby, but someone's got to take care of them."
The angel nodded. "I will. Let's see how this works."
Dean stepped forward but not far from Sam. "Okay, Dad, I'm assuming it's really you. The other ghosts were real spirits from our past. As tough as you are, how'd you let him get you?"
John smiled and walked closer to his sons. "No different then Yellow Eyes, Dean. He took you on eye to eye. It was quite a battle of wills, son. You lost by the way. You would have been dead if Sammy hadn't shot me. Sam, you did a lousy job there. Should've killed me with the colt. All of this wouldn't be happening right now."
"Shut up," Bobby growled. "You're an ass and always have been John Winchester. Stop with the damned posing. You're the weak one, and you know it."
John looked at Bobby. "I'm walking, Bobby. Care to join me?"
Dean threw himself at his father and a fist caught John Winchester square on the jaw, throwing the ghost backwards against the fireplace. His son shook his wrist and stared in shock.
"Damn, you're real?"
"I'm breathing," he said with a cruel grin.
Dean shook his head and backed up. "Sammy, you okay? Bobby, you okay? I know ghosts can be corporeal but not quite like that. Any ideas? How long do we have before he takes us somewhere? I know we don't leave the room, but in reality, Cas won't be with us and neither will Ben. Bobby, I don't know if he will take you either. This is divide and conquer. If you are left behind, you might be in real time. If you are, protect us."
Castiel nodded before there was a surge of coldness and the group was divided.
Ben looked around and found himself in ancient London with the angel by his side. "This is not my past. This is my family's past. Castiel, this worries me."
The angel nodded. "This does not bode well. Keep your side arms in hand and eyes alert. Perhaps we can find the one we seek and end this before it gets too far."
Ben nodded. He started watching everyone he could see. Dickens and Scrooge were beside them.
Dean turned at the coldness. Cas and Ben were gone. Bobby was nowhere to be seen.
Castiel kept alert as well, trying to sense any form of magic that could be used.
Sam blinked. "Where the hell is Bobby?"
"I don't know. Dad, where's Bobby?"
John sneered. "He's worthless and shouldn't be here."
"Damn you, Dad. Bobby's worth a 100 of you. He never treated us like soldiers. He cares. That's not something you ever bothered to do."
Again, a sneer. "Soldiers are what's needed. Makes for strong hunters."
“Bobby's stronger then you, Dad. He did something you couldn't do. You had a demon and you let him control you and almost kill me. Would've done it too because you didn't care enough to fight him. You just hollered at Sam to kill you. Put that burden on him. Bobby got a demon too. He's in that chair because he cared enough to save my life. He's the Dad we never had in you."
The ghost shrugged. "The demon was what mattered."
“No, he wasn't. Your possession was what mattered. Your not fighting to stop him from killing me was what mattered. Your selling your soul to save me so you could go out in a blaze of glory mattered. Your telling me that I might have to kill the person who meant more to me then anything is what mattered. I was never meant to be a soldier, Dad. I didn't have it in me. Sammy may have had it. You tried to destroy us for revenge."
Sam whispered, "No, I didn't have it and I never wanted it. You chose this for us, Dad, not us."
John rolled his eyes. "Get over yourselves. You both need to grow a pair and do what's needed to get the job done. That's all that's ever mattered."
"No, Dad. Family is what mattered. You dumped us at Bobby's. Sam wasn't weaned. I couldn't talk because of shock. For years you left me to take care of Sammy. I did my best but I have scars, Dad. I did things no kid or teenager should ever have to do, to keep him fed and protected. You were our dad, and I know Mom would not have wanted you to do what you did to your children. You cared about one thing. That was revenge. Mom would be so angry with you for doing what you did to her sons."
"She'd be proud that she and all the other poor women were avenged. Stop being a damned weakling because I didn't train either of you to be that way."
Sam growled. "You nearly killed us with neglect. It's amazing either of us can function in society. You failed at the one task you were given - to be a father. Dean has been more of a father to me than you!"
"You deserted us to go hunting. You left Pastor Jim and Bobby to take care of us. You never knew how to love anyone but Mom and yourself. You're the coward, Dad. You couldn't face us. You let mom die. You knew some of what happened back in the past. You had to have guessed that mom was a hunter and she sold out all of us for ten years with you alive. It nearly cost Sammy his soul. It cost me a hell of a lot too. You are the failure. Not us."
"Like you two were supposed to keep the apocalypse from happening? Or Sam getting addicted to damned demon blood?"
Dean took in a breath and continued.
“It was because of our parents, Dad. You both put us in the situation we got in. My need to protect Sam, Dad. It was driven into my head by you. I went to hell because of that need. Sam should never have died if you and mom had been smart and talked. You could've been prepared, killed Azazel and all of this would never have happened. Someone else may have started it. That would be bad, Dad, but we could've had lives. I know we have a job to do now and we'll do it, but you pushed yourself out of our lives. Sammy and I can do what we gotta do now. But that's because of Ellen, Jo, Jessica, Madison, who are all dead, and Cas and Bobby who have both given up large parts of their lives to help us. We'll do it, but we don't need you to do it. We've outgrown you. Sam and I...well, we don't need you any more."
"I don't think we ever did, John. We may have the Winchester last name, but in our hearts, we're Singers."
Dean turned and looked at his brother. Sam, who turned the hunt for their father into a necessity to find Azazel. Sammy, who drank demon blood and chased demons for revenge on Lilith and tossed Dean aside for power, had just become his brother totally.
Dean grinned, "I think you lose, John."
Cas and Ben walked the streets of ancient London with the ghosts. Dickens, Ben, and Cas looking for one familiar face. Just one.
Sam smirked. "I know he did. Come on, Dean, let's see what we can find and leave the loser to stew. Know this, John, any child Dean and I have later after we retire and settle down, they'll know Bobby as grandfather and you won't live on in anyone's memories."
Dean turned and the scene faded away. Bobby sat there with his face soaked with tears. He'd heard everything. The boys looked and could see Cas, Ben and the two ghosts walking in place, going nowhere. They stared at each other , and then at Bobby.
Bobby stared at the two. "You really meant that?"
Castiel was known for his patience but this..how was it possible for one human to hide so easily?
"Yeah, Bobby, we meant it."
Castiel looked around him at the crowds. He saw a woman walk towards them.
"Well, Ebenezer, you come home to make fun of me after you leave me with child? Are you going to care for your son?"
Sam nodded, smiling as well. "We do, Bobby."
The angel's eyes narrowed at that while Ben winced, watching the ghost give a negative answer to her.
Dean, Sam, and Bobby could see the woman as she spoke with the ghost. "That's the witch?"
Sam frowned. "I think that's the ancestor that caused the problem to begin with."
"Well, isn't she just a doll? That's one ugly woman. You guys remember seeing anyone that even began to look like her just a little?"
Both Bobby and Sam shook their heads. "No but with more blood coming into the family, it's possible they look nothing like her."
"Yeah, I was just hoping for one thing being easy, you know. Cas looks really frustrated. I wish we could help him."
Dean walked over and gave Bobby a hug. "Love you, Bobby."
Bobby hugged him back. "Love you too, Dean. You as well, Sam." He was proud of his boys. "You two did me proud tonight."
Dean flushed. "Thanks, Bobby. Sam, we need to find a way to pull them back once they get whatever they need from the woman."
"I have no idea how to, Dean."
"What if we just grab them?"
Sam reached over, tugging on Castiel to see what would happen.
The angel stumbled backwards, Dickens with him. Dean jumped forward and grabbed Ben before the scene disappeared.
"Damn, it worked."
He grinned. "That's something at least."
Dean grinned back. "We at least know there's a way out. You think the necromancer thought we'd stay shook up when John appeared?" Castiel turned and stared at Dean's name for his father, surprise on his face. He began to stare at the brothers and Bobby, wondering what had happened.
Bobby filled him in on what the boys had done, pride coloring his voice.
Dean went into the kitchen and made hot cider. "He came out with five cups of the hot beverage. "It didn't take a full hour. We got about thirty minutes to present occurs."
All of them sipped at the beverage gratefully.
"Okay, he's playing divide and conquer. He's gonna be somewhere in one of our hauntings. We need to watch for something or someone that doesn't fit. Grab hold cause he's real. Oh, and the ghosts are real. Hitting John hurt my fist pretty good. Like hitting you, Cas."
The group nodded, contemplating what to do for the next round.