Satisfied that the two young people were ready for the off, Ephraim nodded to them and headed out the door, leading the way into the cold morning. "Henry has arranged for your truck to be returned to B&E Salvage in Sioux Falls," he said, his words crisp. "We'll get you both back home safely, don't you worry. But since you've come all this way with the obvious intention of camping outside until we let you in, the decision has been taken to allow you entry to the bunker. Rebecca, we will leave you at a local motel, where you will stay until you are collected by myself or your friend here."
Becky knew better than the argue, though it hurt to realize she was being deliberately cut out of whatever was going to pass within the Men of Letter's repository.
At first, Sam thought the man was addressing them both and that both of them would be allowed inside the bunker, but that hope was quickly dashed when Becky was told she would not be permitted inside. "But she's an initiate. Same as me. Why am I being permitted inside and she's not?" Sam asked, thinking Becky had just as much right to be there as he did. Sure, he was a Winchester, but so what? She had her own connections to the Men of Letters.
"Because she is not fully initiated into our organization, and has refused to be until she has a chance to explore the world a little on her own terms." Becky blushed, hearing the bitterness in her grandfather's voice as he explained to Sam. Ephraim paused beside his own car, a sturdy-looking Jeep, turning to look at Sam. "I don't pretend to know the whole truth of what is going on here, but whatever you said to Henry has convinced him to give you access and a chance to prove yourself to him," he said quietly. "Rebecca, however, is my granddaughter and my concern. I will not trap her into a life she is not ready to live, no matter her tendency to act for my benefit. If she is to stay free of the bunker for a while longer, she cannot go inside today."
Sam shook his head, as if ready to argue the point. He wasn't planning on becoming trapped in any way either, if that was what the man was implying. Like his father before him, he was a hunter, but he was also an initiate, and refused to choose between the two, but then the world he came from needed him to have possess the knowledge and skills of both, and he hoped he could convince his great grandfather of that necessity here. He opened his mouth to argue, then thought better of it, realizing that the older man was right. Though Sam wished she could have come with him, he realized it was probably better this way, at least for now. "I'm sorry, Becky," he apologized again, now that they had a moment to talk, reaching for her hand, while her grandfather looked on. "I didn't mean for this to happen."
A little downcast, Becky shrugged, curling her hand into his, ignoring the curious look her grandfather gave them. "It's okay," she lied unconvincingly. "I should have realized, really. It's the most important secret we have, after all." She managed a smile, trying to reassure Sam. "None of this was your fault, either," she added pointedly, looking him in the eye.
"I'll talk to him. See if he'll make an exception for you. If we're..." He hesitated a moment, as if just remembering that they weren't alone. "I meant what I said before. Nothing has changed," he told her, trying to make her understand that the promises they'd made together hadn't changed, and nothing Henry Winchester might have to say to him was likely to change his mind, at least where she was concerned.
Her smile relaxed, reassured instantly by his gentle reminder of the promises they'd made not so long ago. "I meant it, too," she promised him. "And you're right. Nothing has changed. But don't put yourself out trying to get me in. I've got a pass, when the time's right." She glanced at her grandfather, startled to see him grinning at the pair of them. "What's so funny?" she demanded.
Ephraim shook his head, chuckling, and gestured to the Jeep. "Get in, the pair of you," he told them, the sternness gone from his attitude and expression. He'd been given an insight into his granddaughter's new fella that had put him very firmly on their side, that was all. "I doubt either of you will have to go back on any plans you've already made."
If not for Ephraim Hoffman's presence, Sam might have had more to say to Becky, but he didn't want to get too personal or intimate in front of the man. He reluctantly let go of Becky's hand as he turned to face the man who was her grandfather and offered that hand to him. "Sam Winchester," he introduced himself, though he assumed he already knew that. "Thanks for your help."
"Ephraim Hoffman," the old man answered in kind, shaking the boy's hand firmly. For someone who had spent his life in a library, there were tell tale weapon calluses on his hands that spoke volumes to a hunter. "Come on," Ephraim told them. "I'm going to book the pair of you into a motel so you can get a wash and some sleep, and I'll come by later to collect you, Sam. But first things first."
Sam smiled, the thought of a warm shower and bed sounding like heaven. He wasn't sure if the man was going to book them into separate rooms nor did he care, knowing they'd find a way around that soon enough. "And food," he added. Whatever meager meal they'd been served in jail hardly passed for food, in Sam's estimation.
"Did you think I was going to let my granddaughter starve?" Ephraim laughed, knocking on the back door of the Jeep as he moved to climb in at the front. He could spot which way the wind was blowing, and despite Becky being a minor in the eyes of the law, he didn't mind. It was about time she started showing some signs of being more than just a book reading machine, and if this truly was a Winchester, he couldn't think of a better man for her to be doing that with. Of course, if Sam wasn't a Winchester, he wouldn't survive the night, but he didn't need to know that just yet.
Sam had no idea what the other man was thinking, only that the prospect of food and shelter was being offered. He wasn't too worried about proving himself, knowing things about his great grandfather that few even among the Men of Letters knew. He helped Becky into the Jeep before climbing in to join her, unslinging his pack and dropping it onto the floor at his feet. "How well do you know my great grandfather?" he asked, curiously.
"We've worked together for almost thirty years," Ephraim explained as they settled themselves in the back seat. He waited until the doors were closed before starting the engine, pulling smoothly out of the parking lot and turning onto the snowy road, a surprisingly confident driver for a man of his age. "He was my mentor, the man who first introduced me to the order. I was originally a member of the Judah Initiative, but being no longer a Jewish family, it was considered better manners for the Hoffmans to join the Men of Letters. Henry Winchester brought me in and taught me most of what I know. He's a good friend."
Beside Sam, Becky shivered with the chill, inching closer to make the most of his body heat as the Jeep slowly warmed up around them. She knew most of this, though not the specific names, but she never tired of hearing her grandfather tell the story.