Hazy moonlight filtered through the gap where Bobby's ragged curtains didn't quite meet in the middle and settled across Dean's content face. His belly full and his mind empty, he was sleeping soundly across the sagging width of Bobby's old couch.
The couch may have been old but it was surprisingly comfortable. Nestling back into the cosy depth of springs that had been pummelled into submission through years of use, sleep came quickly to Dean.
Together with Tom who was hunkered down in two armchairs pushed together on the other side of the lounge, their soft snores floated across the room, soothing both men into a deep and dreamless rest.
Dean sighed, unconsciously scratching his nose and burrowing his shoulders down under the fleecy grey blanket Bobby had left for him.
He relaxed. He drifted.
So it came as something of a shock when an unseen hand suddenly gripped his hair and yanked his head back with a force that suggested that Dean's personal wellbeing was not at the forefront of their mind.
Instantly awake, Dean's eyes snapped open and he briefly looked up through the gloom into an unfamiliar face, faded almost monochrome in the moonlight. The scowl that adorned the face indicated that as well as being unfamiliar, it was unfriendly too.
"What the hell?" Dean gasped, twisting and squirming; arms flailing blindly through the darkness in an attempt to free himself from the iron grip and inflict some damage on the douchebag that was currently looming over him, one twitch of a wrist away from snapping his neck.
His frantic efforts came to naught, however, as a syringe was suddenly slammed heavily into the side of his neck.
Letting out a shocked yelp and, breathless from the burning pain of the needle, he managed to scramble clumsily to his feet, realising straight away that it was a wasted effort as his leaden limbs gave way beneath him and he flopped bonelessly back onto the couch.
As his head and his stomach tilted nauseously, seemingly attempting to swap places, the last thing he saw was three blurred and faintly purple Toms clambering frantically up out of their three equally blurred and purple armchair beds.
"Hey, you," Tom yelled; squinting in horror through the darkness at Dean's unconscious form sprawled limply over the couch.
The way the two intruders spun round to face him made it clear they hadn't previously been aware of him, and the fact that one of them raised a gun toward his head suggested they weren't pleased to see him either.
Inwardly kicking himself as he stood helplessly in the middle of the room, Tom glared at the intruders. Why had he faced these two assholes without thinking of picking up a weapon? Bobby had plenty of guns and knives lying around the house. He sighed; a mixture of sleep-addled disorientation and panic will do that to you.
The figure that stood pointing a gun at him kept glancing down impatiently at the other who had crouched down beside the couch and pulled Dean's left arm out from under him. Pushing up Dean's sleeve, he was intently examining the crook of his elbow with some small probe-type object that Tom couldn't recognise.
"I can't find it," he hissed; "it's not registering."
The second man snorted irritably; "forget it; we know it's functioning – it's been working well enough to bring us to this crap-hole."
The first man continued running the small probe over the warm skin of Dean's motionless arm.
"Yeah, but it went off-line for nearly a whole day, remember?"
"Quit moaning, it's specimen one alright, we can fix the stupid tracker when we get it back to the lab."
"What are you looking for, can I help?" Tom asked cautiously, his years of police training kicking in as he raised his hands in a gesture of contrition.
"Shut it, asshole," came the response, followed by the ominous click of his gun being cocked.
It was the last word Tom heard from the intruders before a shot rang out and the gun pointed at his head dropped limply from dead fingers, tumbling across the threadbare carpet.
The man who had been manhandling Dean leapt to his feet, gasping in shock, and dropped the small probe as a wild-haired and sleep-muzzed Sam stepped out from behind Bobby and his smoking revolver, and lunged toward him.
The intruder threw himself forward to reach his dead comrade's gun, but Tom managed to kick it aside as Sam grabbed the stranger by the throat, driving him backwards and slamming him against the wall.
"What the hell are you doing with my freakin' brother?" he snarled.
Behind him, Tom wasted no time in stepping over the body and dropping to his knees in front of Dean. Through the darkness, he saw Jimmy's horrified face staring over Bobby's shoulder and gestured to him to switch the light on.
The intruder sat tightly cuffed and bound to a sturdy wooden chair in the corner of the room, sporting a fine swollen cheekbone and split lip, having been subdued by Sam before being salted, soaked in holy water and enthusiastically perforated with iron, bronze and silver by Bobby.
The depressing conclusion, after all of Sam and Bobby's efforts, was that the man was 100% human.
Bobby had suspected as much; with a house charmed against every supernatural creature known to man, he was fairly confident that Chez Bobby was a no-go zone to anything magic, creepy or even vaguely paranormal. Unfortunately violent, unwelcome douchebags was another matter entirely.
"Tom, is Dean okay?" Bobby asked, schooling his voice to remain steady without taking his eyes away from the man.
A brief examination had satisfied Tom that Dean wasn't poisoned, merely anaesthetised; he would have been much happier knowing which drug had been used, but for now, he could assure Bobby and Sam that Dean appeared to be in no immediate danger.
"Yeah," he replied quietly; "he's drugged, doesn't seem to be in any distress; not yet anyway."
Bobby nodded his head in Dean's direction; "Tom, take care of Dean. Sam, take Jimmy upstairs and get him away from this asshat."
Sam hesitated, glancing wistfully across at his brother's lax form. It was a testament to his trust in Tom that he turned and gently herded Jimmy out of the room and away from the unwelcome visitor without argument.
From his chair, the intruder scowled at Bobby, then across at his dead accomplice, curling his lip in contempt as Tom strode toward him.
"What was in that syringe?" Tom demanded, pointing back at Dean.
The man huffed a humourless laugh; "I don't know," he shrugged lazily, glancing toward his dead companion; "you murdered my goddamned cousin, you expect me to tell you anything?"
Squaring his shoulders, Bobby folded his arms across his chest, his furious stare prompting the intruder to continue.
"He never told me," the man glanced over Bobby's shoulder at the dead man behind them; "we just came to take back what belongs to us."
Bobby's glare darkened; "he doesn't 'belong' to anyone. He's a human being, a free man, and he doesn't want to go back to you dicks."
Tom folded his arms across his chest; "why should he go back to a place where people care so little for him, they wanted to kill him?"
"You couldn't even tell the difference between him and his donor," Bobby added venomously.
"It's the property of our organisation and we'll do what we need to do with it," the man spat furiously; "anyway, theft of our property and," he nodded again toward the body crumpled on the floor; "murder as well? I don't think you backwater inbreds are in any position to judge me."
"I've had enough of this," snarled Bobby; "ya better start talkin' or I'm gonna start relocating kneecaps."
Waving his gun to add weight to his words, Bobby fired a shot into the floor, inches from the man's feet.
"Whoops," he grunted menacingly, "my aim's always a little off when I'm woken up in the middle of the freakin' night by some moron breakin' into the place and threatening my family."
The prisoner's lips stayed firmly sealed, but his wide eyes and the tightness of his jaw betrayed his fear.
"What were ya doin' with Dean's arm?" Bobby began; "you said something about a 'tracker', did ya plant a tracking device inside the clone on top of everything else you did to him?"
The man stared silently past Bobby into a dark corner of the room, blatantly ignoring him.
"Why did ya clone Dean without his permission?"
"Where's your laboratory?"
"Jimmy said ya wanted to 'eliminate him', why?"
Bobby scowled, he glanced back at Tom who had returned to Dean's side, then back to his prisoner.
"I know about Project Catalan and Gemini Pharmaceuticals," he warned; "you planned to clone him to create soldiers for sale."
For the first time, the stranger's face twitched in response; something that could have been amazement flashed across his guarded features.
"That's right," Bobby sneered; "not such backwater inbreds after all."
The man's face rearranged itself back into its former sullen frown.
"I've had enough of this crap," snorted Bobby and aimed a shot right into the toes of the man's left foot. It exploded into a pink mist, and the man threw his head back with a scream.
"The clone," Bobby roared; "who ya working for and why did you want to kill him?"
"Not w-workin' for anyone," the man gasped, gagging nauseously through the pain; "working for ourselves. Wars, 'specially civil wars all over the world, always a market for hired soldiers. Governments pay handsomely for them; especially from an organisation that's small enough to stay under the radar, y'know, small enough to be invisible."
"How small?" demanded Bobby.
The surly figure bit his lip and shook his head, dislodging pained tears that had rolled down his grey cheeks.
Bobby aimed the revolver at the man's right foot.
"How SMALL?" he barked.
"My uncle, he's the scientist," came the whimpered reply; "forty years of genetic research for the military. Then his son, my cousin, he was the technician." He nodded in the direction of the crumpled body on the floor beside the couch; "then me, I do the day to day stuff."
"So, uncle and Cuz are the brains and you're the friggin' dogsbody," Bobby growled; "is that right?"
He got a barely perceptible nod in response.
Bobby leaned down into his prisoner's personal space; "that's why you were only looking for a fit young guy's DNA. Y’idjits thought you were going to make a natural born killer, and you ended up with the boy next door instead. Well I'm not freakin' sorry for you at all, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let ya kill the clone, just for not bein' your goddamn GI Joe."
The pained grimace on the man's face lifted for a moment as he smirked.
"You think that's all that's wrong with it?"
Bobby rocked back on his heels; behind him he could hear Tom approaching again, his curiosity piqued.
"What?" Tom asked; "what's wrong with him?"
"We don't know," the reply was ground out through clenched teeth.
"You've got ten seconds," Bobby growled.
"I don't know why you're so precious about the damn thing," the man gasped, his voice rising in anger and fear; "it's just a failed experiment; who freakin' cares?"
"Five seconds," Bobby repeated, trembling with anger.
"We needed to autopsy it; but the bastard ran away and ruined everything."
"Autopsy?" gasped Tom, "you were going to kill him, then take him apart."
"It would have speeded the process up, and we could have got the project moving again," the voice was growing weaker as the injury began to take its toll; "but whether we killed it then or not, it'll be dead within the week anyway."
Bobby and Tom both recoiled as if they were the ones who had been shot.
"Dead," Tom spluttered; "what … why?"
"I told you, asshole," the man groaned; "we don't freakin' know. Something wrong with the DNA transfer – that's why we needed to do an autopsy. Then we can make sure whatever went wrong with this one, won't happen next time."
"There won't be a next time," snarled Bobby as a shot rang out.
The man slumped forward in his seat.