Whiff of Sulfur

by Vanzetti

The man on the front porch reminded Bobby of a dog he had, maybe twenty, twenty-five years back, lean and watchful, and careful not to show how hungry he really was. A lot of hunters reminded Bobby of Haig, though, but this one... whiff of sulfur, maybe, though he sat on the porch and drank down his holy water beer without complaint. His looks didn't match his voice, maybe that was it. Dark stubble and a fierce-looking scar across his throat, a stained leather jacket and jeans -- and then he opened his mouth and out came that fancy accent, each word with all the consonants present and accounted for. Introducing himself with a name Bobby'd never heard, Wesley Wyndam Pryce, even though he could see the man had years of experience in him. Maybe that was it.

"I hear you keep a library," Pryce said when he'd finished the beer. "I'd like to see it."

"Hunh," Bobby said. "Where'd you hear that?"

"John Winchester mentioned your name."

Well, that was interesting, considering that John was a close-mouthed son of a bitch at the best of times. "You knew John?"

"I played billiards with him once or twice. In Hell."

Whiff of sulfur, all right. Bobby's mouth was dry. "How'd that work out for you?"

"He cheated."

Bobby snorted. "Yeah, that sounds like John."

"Did he make it out?"

"And went on," Bobby said. Pryce, he thought, looked pleased for the first time; anyway, some of the tension left his mouth. But Bobby was left with another question. "What're you doing, still hanging around here? Got some unfinished business?"

"In a sense," Pryce said. "I don't belong here." And at the look on Bobby's face -- which must have made it clear what he was thinking -- he added, "This isn't the world I died in. I came back in a town north of Los Angeles, but it wasn't right. It wasn't the world I left."

"You sure?" Bobby had to ask it.

"The town I came back in no longer exists in my world," Pryce said. "I'm perfectly sure. That's why I'm here; my hope is that somewhere in your library I can find a way to open a portal back to my own world."

Bobby tipped his own beer up and swallowed. "Not sure I can help with that," he said.

"Can't, or don't want to?"

"One portal between worlds was enough for me," Bobby said. "I was there when the gates of hell opened up, and I got no desire to see that again."

Pryce's mouth twisted into a bitter smile. "I do know what you mean."

"And you know," Bobby said, watching him sidelong, "You and John weren't the only thing to crawl out of Hell two months back. Seems to me the rest of us could use another hunter around."

"A hunter?" Pryce asked.

"You know, someone who deals with..." he waved his free hand. "Ghosts. Demons."

"A demon hunter," Pryce looked surprised. "I haven't... Well. I suppose I could." The surprise was shifting to something else -- humor, Bobby thought, and honest this time. "I don't suppose you have anything for breakfast in there."


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