Author's Note: I'll keep posting in both places if you folks want me to; it's really no trouble. :-)
The front door opened a few minutes later, and Sam and Dean walked in. But they weren’t alone. They were accompanied by a tall broad-shouldered man with a salt-and-pepper beard in a long black coat, and a woman in black suede heeled boots over slim jeans, wearing a black suede jacket to match. Her dark red hair fell well down her back and her cat green eyes were thoughtful.
“Look who we found wandering around the park,” Sam said with a smile as Ladona and Christian looked up. “This is my dad John and his wife Anna.”
Ladona gave a happy shriek, barreled into the living room from the kitchen, and hugged Anna with enthusiasm, nearly knocking her over. Anna was also shrieking with joy.
“I take it they know each other,” Christian said, after being introduced to John. Dean was standing off to one side, looking vaguely disconcerted.
“Email pals,” John said. “There’s a couple of them, chat all the time when there’s a computer around. I think they spend more time telling dirty jokes than anything else.”
“I gave Dad the details on the way over here,” Sam said in explanation when the women had stopped talking a mile a minute at each other and had turned back to the rest of the group, but they had their arms linked together and they were grinning ear-to-ear. “He has a couple of ideas that I don’t know if Alex tried or not.”
“I can tell you what we’ve done and haven’t done,” Ladona said. “We’ve covered as many bases as we could but maybe we’ve missed something.”
“Let me throw in a little extra knowledge before Ladona’s recap,” Christian said. “We’ve got a blow dart Alex found at the scene. I’m going to have that tested but I already suspect a fast-acting sedative, like a wild animal tranquilizer. I’ve seen them before in nature preserves. And I’ve got a buddy in the police department, Detective Matthew Somerville. He tells me police think they’ve got either a serial kidnapper or some wild animal on site – probably not the latter, but the police have to keep their options open. He’s going to keep us apprised of any updates, but basically they know what we know.”
“Did the police find any darts when they checked the scene?” John asked.
“No,” Christian said. “I had to tell him about the one we found. Matthew’s really upset, one of the victims is a 15-year-old girl, and that just makes him sick and furious. Just so you know, he’s a great guy, he’s hunter-savvy, has seen his share of spooks. When I say trust him, I mean trust him like you would anybody else in this group. Anyway, he’s emailing me profiles on all the missing people, something Alex didn’t have access to. Maybe we can find something that links them all.”
They spent the evening going over Alex’s notes and research, Ladona’s information and the information from the police. Ladona and Sam cooked a simple dinner – Ladona realized having Sam in the kitchen made it that much more fun, as he was a novice cook but enjoyed it – and they fed the crew around Nick and Alex’s kitchen table. It struck Ladona as odd that they were eating here and yet neither of the owners was present.
“So where is this Alex?” John asked at one point, looking around at all the pictures.
“Upstairs,” Christian said. “She wasn’t sleeping well, so I sedated her.”
“Not sleeping well?” Anna said in concern.
“Nick’s been missing for days,” Ladona explained. “Those two are like this,” and she held up her hand with two fingers crossed over one another. “If one’s in danger, the other one won’t rest until they’re both safe.”
“So she’s got to be having a really hard time,” Anna said in sympathy. “I mean, not knowing where he is or what’s happened to him.” She’d felt such fear for John while she was trapped, and she knew he felt the same way. Sometimes she didn’t quite know how they’d gotten through it all.
“What kind of hunter is she?” John asked in disbelief. “If she falls apart at something like this?”
“You might too if the love of your life disappeared and you didn’t know what happened to them,” Sam said, his face tight. He’d just gotten back from taking a phone call that had apparently required privacy, but he’d heard enough to feel the need for a pointed remark.
John flushed, and he glanced at Anna. She wasn’t thrilled Sam had brought it up, but he had a point. She couldn’t stand the thought of being away from John again, and she suspected he felt the same way, reacting as he did whenever he couldn’t reach her, for whatever reason. Even a dead cell phone battery could upset him.
“Until you’ve met her, give her the benefit of the doubt,” Dean said. “She’s good at this. Not a lifer, but she gets by.”
“And Nick’s a pro,” Christian said. “He’s trained her well.”
John shrugged and nodded, acquiescing. He was clearly outnumbered. Anyway, there was business to attend to.
After dinner, and after Dean had been pressed into helping Anna and Christian clean up, Ladona and Christian settled the guests in Nick’s home, Ladona and Anna taking care of the things the men would never think of – fresh towels, enough shampoo and soap in the guest bathroom shower, that kind of thing. Sam took the bed in the basement bedroom and Dean said the couch was fine with him, as Ladona was sleeping in the guest room upstairs. Christian kept a small cot in the trunk of his car and said he was sleeping in the master bedroom near the patient to be sure everything went well with the sedative, but he gave Anna and John the keys to his house, down the street, and directed them to make themselves at home. From the sly grin Anna gave Ladona, it was pretty clear they were going to take him up on it.