?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

SPN Fic: Part III


He woke to low tones of bickering from the front seat. Momentarily confused, he listened, trying to get his bearings, though it wasn’t easy to pay attention to anything beyond how sick he felt, and how bad he was hurting. Squinting through nearly closed lashes, he saw it was dark, only the dim light of the dash illuminating the shadowed features of his father and brother. But seeing them was enough to help him relax.

“We’ve got to hole up somewhere,” Sam insisted, sounding as if he’d made the point a few times already. “You can hardly stand, and Dean … we’ll kill him if we’re not careful, dragging him around like this when he should still be in a hospital!”

“Sure, fine, we’ll hide out for a bit,” John grated back. “But we didn’t have to leave the county, let alone the state, to find a motel where we can rest. We were close Sammy, so close! I don’t want that thing to get away again.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, that thing,” Sam spat, “is hunting us now. Don’t worry about finding it or its pals again. He’ll track us down wherever we go. We need to be ready for it this time.”

John snorted and shook his head. “This isn’t about being on the defensive, kid,” he growled angrily, not happy about being challenged. We need to go after it, surprise it, hit it when it’s not expecting us. That’s how we’ll beat it. Not cowering in some godforsaken motel room or shack. Nothing’s more important than hunting it down. Nothing.”

Dean glanced up at his brother’s face, darkly reflected in the rearview mirror. Sam looked … torn. The aggressiveness was gone, but determination had taken its place. And for some reason, he also looked guilty. Probably still haunted by Jessica. When he spoke again, his voice was taut as he said, “Not everything is about killing the demon, Dad. First, we have to take care of one another. It’s not … it’s not all about revenge. Not anymore. Maybe it never was. There’s something else going on here. We, all of us, need to survive to figure out what it’s really all about. Dying for the cause won’t solve anything.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John argued.

“I do,” Dean interjected, his voice thin and reedy, just barely audible.

“Dean?” Sam exclaimed, sounding anxious as he twisted for a quick look over his shoulder. “You’re awake. How’re you doing?”

He waggled his hand to indicate he was okay but could be better. Clearing his throat, he struggled to sound stronger than he felt. “Sam’s right. Something big is happening.”

“What?” John challenged aggressively as he half-turned in his seat to glare at him. “What’s more important than getting the demon that slaughtered your mother?” As an afterthought, his gaze cutting to Sam, he added gruffly, “And Jessica.”

Wincing, Dean looked away, but he refused to rise to the bait. He didn’t have the strength to waste on arguing. “We don’t know what. But there’re dozens and dozens more demons in the world than there used to be,” he said weakly, as he swiped his hand over his face, as if to chase away the cobwebs that cluttered his mind and made it hard to think. Grimly, he continued doggedly in the face of his father’s stern censure, “There has to be a reason,” he rasped, his breath coming tight in his chest. “And … and there has to be a reason they’ve started coming after us now. Hell, we’ve been chasing them for years and they haven’t given a damn before. We need to figure out why they suddenly care so much now. And why the demon has always been after Sammy.”

Sam nodded resolutely. “So we find a place to recover and ….”

“And figure out our strategy,” Dean agreed, his voice wispy, once again closing his eyes as he tried to conserve his limited and quickly waning strength.

John rolled his eyes and threw up his hands before turning to stare moodily out the window.

“And we do it together,” Sam added, though there was a hollow, somehow questioning note in his voice that bothered Dean.

Frowning, he opened his eyes and locked his gaze with Sam’s in the mirror, and then he nodded soberly. “Absolutely,” he affirmed resolutely. “Together.”

John sat stiffly frustrated, and continued to stubbornly stare mutely into the night.

**

Sam eventually decided they needed to stop, if only to get Dean into a bed where he could get some decent rest. He pulled into a nondescript motel off the highway, and wordlessly went into the office to get them a room for a couple nights. When he came back out, he pulled the Impala into a parking spot right in front of the door, and then he and John helped Dean out of the car and inside. John pulled down the coverings on the bed nearest the door and they eased him down upon it. Sam pulled off his shoes and drew the blankets back over him before going back outside to get their gear and Dean’s laptop. While he dealt with their bags, John hobbled to the fast food joint next to the motel to get them something to eat, returning with soup and juice for Dean, sandwiches for himself and Sam, and soft drinks.

As he and Sam lifted him and shoved pillows behind him, so he could swallow the soup more easily, John’s expression flattened when he saw the blossoms of blood that had soaked through the bandages on Dean’s chest. “We’ll need to change those dressings,” he muttered.

“Later,” Dean sighed, not sure he had the energy to deal with much more than night. Nor was he hungry, but he knew he had to help himself recover by eating. He only hoped he’d be able to keep the soup down.

John nodded and got the Styrofoam bowl of soup and plastic spoon out of the bag he’d left on the small, battered desk. Drawing the single chair in the room close to the bed, he unceremoniously began to feed his son. Dean looked humiliated, but he couldn’t hold the bowl and eat with one hand, and he knew he’d never be able to sit at the desk that night. When the soup was gone and he’d had a few sips of the juice, he waved away more and murmured, “Thanks, Dad.”

John nodded, eased the pillows out from under him so he could lie more comfortably, and moved away to eat his own makeshift dinner. Meanwhile, Sam had scattered salt in front of the door and along the window ledge. When he finished that chore, he set up the laptop to search through sites that reported on alleged demonic possession, and speculated at why the demons were coming into the world in increasing numbers, while he munched absently on his sandwich.

But it was late, and they were all exhausted. Neither John nor Sam had slept much for days, and Dean felt as if he’d been trampled by a herd of elephants. When Sam and his father had finished eating, they decided to call it a night. John put an empty large disposable cup on the bedside table beside Dean, so he wouldn’t have to struggle up in the night to the bathroom, and Sam began to shake out a sleeping bag on the floor between the bed and the door.

Dean squinted at him in the dim glow of the lamplight and slightly shook his head. “Hey, Sam,” he called out softly. “You don’t have to do that.” Patting the empty space beside him on the queen-size bed, he added, “Plenty of room right here.” When his brother hesitated, he grinned crookedly. “‘s okay. You won’t bother me. Not the first time we’ve shared a bed.”

Sam grinned slowly back as he gathered up the bag. “No,” he agreed, thinking of the years they’d traveled with their father, camping out in one dreary, anonymous place after another. “No, it sure wouldn’t.”

John shook out some pain killers from their stash, brought a glass of water from the bathroom, and helped Dean swallow a couple, before taking two himself. Crawling into the other bed, he laid down with a sigh of relief he didn’t bother to hide. “G’night, boys,” he murmured as he closed his eyes.

“G’night, Dad,” they echoed as quietly.

Sam turned off the lamp and eased in beside Dean. “You sure you’re okay?” he whispered.

“I will be,” Dean whispered back.

**

The next morning, Dean awoke with a fever high enough to make his misery complete. Though he was less than excited about the idea, his father and brother helped into a tepid bath to cool him down, and to clean his wounds. After they got him dried off and back into bed, they rebandaged the ugly claw marks on his chest, and gave him more painkillers, washing them down with more juice than he really wanted to drink. Exhausted, he fell into a troubled, restless sleep.

Once they’d attended to Dean, Sam took a look at his father’s wound and insisted on cleaning and rebinding it, too.

“I’ll go get us some breakfast,” he said, after discarding the stained linens and washing his hands. “Maybe pick up some supplies, so we don’t have to go out for the rest of the day, or tomorrow.”

“Want me to ride shotgun?” John asked, already pushing himself to his feet.

“No,” Sam replied, but not argumentatively. Glancing at Dean, he added, “I’m not the one it wants to kill.”

Frowning, John followed his glance and then demanded, “What are you getting at?”

“I’m not sure yet,” he replied as he pulled on his jacket, and grabbed the car keys from the desk. “I want to do a bit more research. And then I think we all need to talk.”

With that, he turned and left, leaving his father staring moodily at the door that closed behind him. After a moment, John sighed and scrubbed his stubbled face. Stoically, he went into the tiny bathroom to shave and wash up, and then he rummaged in Dean’s carry-all bag for his notebook. With it in hand, he propped himself comfortably on his bed, and began to leaf through it, looking for ideas that might help them destroy the demon. From time to time, he glanced over at Dean, his expression troubled, uneasy about his son’s health, and about Sam’s cryptic comment.

When Sam returned, Dean roused briefly, and they forced him to drink more juice and to eat a piece of bread smeared with peanut butter. When he resisted, just wanting to be left alone to rest, John growled at him that he needed fluids and protein if he expected to get better. Chastened, he nodded wearily and ate and drank until he couldn’t stomach more without retching.

After they’d finished their own breakfast, and Sam had stacked the meager supplies beside the desk, John returned to the contemplation of his notes and Sam fired up the laptop. They worked quietly for the next several hours, occasionally staring into space as they each tried to put the pieces of what they knew and surmised into some kind of pattern. Every couple hours, they checked on Dean, waking him to ensure he was lucid and his head injury wasn’t worsening, and urging more fluids on him, until he irritably demanded the paper cup by the bed, and rolled his eyes at the indignity of it all. “I’m fine,” he growled, finally. “I just need to sleep, okay? No big deal.” After that, they left him alone.

Late in the afternoon, thunder rumbled menacingly in the distance, and a few minutes later lightning flashed, briefly glinting through the thin fabric of the curtains across the window. A moment after that, there was a thunderous crash of thunder directly overhead that made them both jump and which woke Dean. They looked uneasily at one another and then John shrugged.

“Just a storm,” he said. And then added ominously, “But check the salt barrier around the door and window.”

Sam gave him a worried look as he stood to do as he was bid. “How’re you feeling, Dean?” he asked over his shoulder as he poured a fresh layer of fine white granules on the floor and window ledge.

His brother thought about that for a minute, taking inventory of his body, and then nodded with some satisfaction. “Not bad, actually,” he replied with a yawn. “Headache’s gone. Can breathe with no trouble.”

John got up to lay his palm over Dean’s brow. “Fever’s gone,” he reported, and there was subtle easing of the tension of his body.

“So, what have you guys been doing while I slept the day away?” Dean asked, accepting their help to build a pile of pillows behind his back, so he could sit against the support of the headboard fastened to the wall. “We got a plan yet?”

“Not yet,” Sam told him. “But if you feel ready to talk …?”

“Sure, shoot. I’m all ears,” he replied with some of his usual energy.

Sam settled himself on the chair beside the bed, so he could see both his brother and his father easily. “Okay, well, Dad’s been going through his notes, and I’ve been on the Net for most of the day. You raised some good questions in the car last night,” he explained, “and I’ve got some ideas but no real answers yet.”

John scratched his cheek. “I have to admit that this is all beyond what I’ve encountered over the years,” he admitted grudgingly. “I didn’t find many answers, either.”

Looking from one to the other, Dean shook his head. “That’s it? That’s all you’ve got? No answers? C’mon, we gotta do better than this.”

“Well, like I said, I’ve got some ideas,” Sam replied slowly, and then shifted forward in the chair, his hands clasped between his knees. “Dean, one of the questions you asked is ‘why now?’ And that’s a good question.” Turning to his father, he went on, “You’ve been doing this, hunting and destroying evil entities for over twenty years, and the demons stayed out of the way. Why have they decided to confront us now?”

John squinted at him and then looked away. “More and more demons all the time,” he mused. “More now than ever.” Looking back at his sons, he went on, “You’re right. They’ve got something big planned, some power game, and they think we might get in the way.”

“Yeah, I think so, too,” Sam agreed, nodding vigorously. “We aren’t the only people who know they exist, but not many go out to hunt them and other … creatures, manifestations of evil. We’ve become something more than an annoyance to them. Something that has to be dealt with.”

Dean thought about that. “But … that’s not all,” he ventured, then gave his brother a piercing look. “That creep wants you. Wants something from you. That’s what started all this when you were born, and why … why they went after Jessica. Because you’re special,” he went on. “You’ve got special skills, talents that they want on their side and not arrayed against them.”

Sam’s gaze fell away as he nodded in sorrowful agreement.

“That wasn’t your fault,” Dean insisted vehemently. “None of this is your fault, Sam.”

“I know,” he murmured, but the muscles along his jaw rippled and he swallowed convulsively. “I’ve got to get a better handle on these … talents,” he went on hoarsely. Sighing, he sat back in the chair and gazed at both of them somberly. Finally, he told them what he hadn’t shared the day before. “When the demon showed up at the hospital, he said … he said if I didn’t join him willingly, he’d kill the both of you.”

“Bullshit,” Dean erupted. “You can’t believe anything that lying sonofabitch says!”

“No, I know,” Sam agreed giving him a thoughtful look. “And neither can you.”

The shaft found its mark, and Dean looked away, his head slightly bowed. Once again, Sam leaned forward, his tone compelling. “Who has the demon tried to kill?” he asked. Without waiting for an answer, he looked from Dean to his father. “Not you. They captured you. Possessed you. But they didn’t try to kill you. Didn’t try to erode your … your beliefs, your values. Why?” His gaze went back to Dean.

“Oh, well, hey, it was pissed, right?” Dean objected. “I killed his two kids, and he was furious about that.”

“Was he?” Sam countered, turning to his father. “Did you sense the kind of emotion you’d feel if we’d been killed? What any caring father would feel, when he talked about that?”

Startled, John frowned and thought back to the chaos and confusion of that night in the shack in the forest. Slowly, he shook his head. “No, I didn’t feel any of that from him. There was rage, but more like his plan was being thwarted; and … and,” he faltered and shook his head as he looked at Dean. Swallowing hard, he went on, “He felt triumphant when he … when he was torturing you. Fiercely satisfied, if that makes any sense.”

Dean lifted his hand to fend off the discussion that he was any kind of special target. “No, no, you’re both forgetting that his so-called son tried to kill you, Sam. And he would have, too. So it’s not just me that’s a target – it’s anyone who gets in their way.”

“I’m not sure about that,” Sam replied, his expression intensely thoughtful. “I … I think that demon was jealous – of me. That his father wanted me, has wanted me for, well, for all of my life, I guess. I think if you hadn’t killed him, the demon would have stopped him before he killed me. I’m some kind of tool he wants.”

“Well, you’re not going to give yourself to him, that’s for damn sure,” Dean insisted.

“No, no, I’m not,” Sam agreed. “Because, as you said, he … it … whatever … can’t be believed. I think he’d still do all in his power to kill you.”

“Oh, come on,” Dean muttered with a grimace of discomfort.

“What are you getting at, Sam?” John asked, his gaze level, impatient.

Restless, Sam stood to pace the floor at the foot of the beds. “Bear with me, okay? It’s, uh, just a theory.” When he glanced at them and they both made ‘hurry up’ gestures, he went on, “There are some things we know, and some things we can surmise. We know there are a lot more demons in the world than usual. We can surmise they are all appearing for some purpose … domination, maybe. Or some bigger game between heaven and hell that’s being played out on this ground, now, or at least soon. Agreed?”

They nodded encouragingly.

“Dad, for more than twenty years, you’ve been fighting and winning, taking evil out of the world – so, yeah, you’re a threat. So they tried to show you that you can’t win against them by taking over your body, and by using it to … to hurt Dean, both physically and emotionally. Right?”

Again they nodded, but uneasily, neither at all comfortable with those memories.

“They don’t take me over because they want or need something from me that they can’t just take,” Sam said then. “But why haven’t they ever taken over Dean, or even tried? In the apartment, when we went after you, they sure didn’t have any trouble taking over some firemen who then tried to kill him. Why bother when they can take over what seems like anyone, if they can take you, Dad. Why not just turn the both of you?”

“I don’t get the point you’re trying to make, Sam,” Dean complained, his initial energy beginning to wane. “Could you just cut to the chase, here?”

“We’re all, all three of us, dangerous to them, to whatever they’re planning to do,” Sam replied as he paused in his pacing to hold their attention. “Dad, you’re probably one of the most experienced and successful, the most wily, hunters on this earth – they don’t need you breathing down their necks. And I’ve got talents that, if I learned how to really use them, could make trouble for them. Maybe we don’t need any more silver bullets. Maybe I just need to learn to use what I’ve already got. So, I could be dangerous to them, too.” He paused and then looked at Dean, holding his gaze. “But you’re the most dangerous of us all,” he said. “You’ve been hunting almost as long as Dad, and know a whole lot of his tricks. And you’ve got a power even greater than my own, one that scares them, really scares them.”

Dean snorted and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right,” he drawled, knowing he was nothing special, not like Sam was special. “Me and my shotgun full of rock salt. I’m sure I scare the bejesus out of them.”

Sam drew closer and squatted by the edge of the bed. Glancing between his father and his brother, he urged compellingly, “Think about it. What are demons about? Hate, lies, deceit, jealousy, rage, destruction of the innocent, power for power’s sake, greed, even revenge.”

John nodded thoughtfully, while Dean just gave him a ‘yeah, so, what’s new?’ look.

“Dean,,” he urged, “you told me yourself, the other day – you gave me shit because I was in it for revenge. If they hadn’t killed Jessica, I’d be going to law school. Dad … Dad’s in it for revenge, too, because of what they did to Mom. But … why are you in the hunt, Dean? Why have you given everything up – everything, even your identity as a living being – to go after these evil entities?”

Uncomfortable with what felt like a cross-examination of his most personal motivations, Dean impatiently looked away. Swallowing, he finally replied roughly, “I told you why. Because Dad needs my help. And … and because those things feed off and kill innocent people who have no defence against them. And … and because we’re family. You’re all I’ve got.”

Reaching out to lightly grip his brother’s leg through the blankets, Sam murmured softly, “And the demon tried to undermine that, didn’t he? By telling you that we didn’t need you. That we’d never need you as much as you need us. Trying to make you feel guilty and self-serving, twisting your motivations, making them small … when they’re really pretty amazing.”

Looking up at his father, his gaze dark with sorrow, he went on haltingly, “I … I heard Dean a few months ago talking to a little kid who was so scared that he’d stopped talking to anyone because of what he knew, what he’d seen. Dean told him he knew what that was like, really knew how the boy felt, that he understood completely.”

John stared at him, confused but knowing that Sam was making a point he should be getting. Uncertainly, his gaze flickered to Dean, remembering how he had stopped talking for months after his mother had died, and how withdrawn he’d become. At the time, he’d been worried about him, sure, but he’d mostly been impatient. He didn’t have time to deal with the boy’s hysterical reaction and had just wanted him to snap out of it. He frowned, his memories going back to that time … to when he’d gone down the hall behind his wife, to check on the baby. And he blinked, remembering for the first time in all of the chaos his life had been since that night … that he’d passed Dean in the dark hallway, and had told him to go to bed.

“What did you see?” he asked, his voice tight, hollow with premonition.

Flinching with shock at the question, Dean turned his face away. How could Sam do this, spring this on him in front of their father? His jaw clenched, as did his fist, and he shook his head. “Nothing,” he said flatly.

“What’s your secret, Dean?” Sam asked gently. “What have you hidden away and borne all your life? Alone.”

Dean flashed him a hard, angry look of denial, but his expression taut and colourless as if it was taking all he had to conceal his emotions and he couldn’t risk letting go. But when Sam held his gaze, hoping he was conveying support and understanding, Dean’s eyes flickered and the belligerence gave way to wounded shadows, as if he couldn’t believed Sam was betraying him this way, confronting him with something so private, so hidden – and why now? Why when it would destroy whatever relationship he had with his father?. Dean swallowed and blinked, and then he turned his face away as he tightly shook his head. “Secret? What secret?” he stonewalled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“It’s okay, Dean,” Sam told him, his voice rich with compassion and sorrow. “You were only four years old. There’s nothing you could have done.”

The muscles in his jaw flexed. “This is crap, Sammy,” he returned, an edge of warning in his voice. “Let it go.”

“Dean –”

White with anger, trembling with his effort to fend off the memories that never failed to rip him apart, Dean cut in low and dangerous, “Stop it. There is no secret,” he insisted, but the slight quaver in his voice betrayed him. Giving his brother a narrow-eyed, stubborn look, he grated icily, “And even if there was some big secret, correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you the guy who said men are entitled to keep some things to themselves?” Flicking his father a look, reading the dawning comprehension on his face, he hastened to add, “This is a waste of time that’s getting us nowhere. There’s nothing to tell.”

The silence stretched and stretched as Sam continued to look at him as if … as if Sam just felt so bad for him but didn’t know what to do. The heavy silence became palpable tension as John looked from one to the other of them, a dark scowl growing to furrow his brow. Dean drew a shuddering breath, and wished he could think of something, anything to say, to deflect the conversation, to make a joke, something, but he was fresh out – and he didn’t think he could trust his voice to say anything more. He was too shocked that Sam had guessed; worse, had decided unilaterally that it had to be brought into the light. Dean didn’t know whether to punch his brother out or … or just do the best he could to keep pretending and denying. He had no choice, really, he thought bleakly, but to keep hiding the horror of his long ago cowardice. His father would never, ever forgive him if he ever guessed the truth.

But, even as he fought to hold the pieces of his splintered soul together, he knew with a sick, desolate conviction that it was already too late. Their father could read him too well, and always knew when he was running a bluff, a scam; he swallowed as he bowed his head, waiting for the explosion. His shoulders hunched defensively; every muscle in his body tightened, and pain suffused him, physical and emotional. Breathing shallowly, he tried to get himself under control, but he was so tired and the memories … dear God, the memories that he’d long ago done his best to banish to his nightmares threatened to unman him. He felt as if he was going to vomit, or choke with remembered horror, and he could feel insipient tears burn the back of his eyes. He couldn’t do this. Could not deal with this. Not now when he was already hurting so bad.

“What the hell are you saying?” John snarled, breaking the silence as he lurched to his feet. His face was infused with sudden fury at his stark realization that maybe that monster could have been stopped and Mary’s life might have been saved.

Sam threw his father a quelling look of warning as he too stood, coming between his father and Dean. “He was hardly more than a baby, himself,” he growled. “Don’t you dare make it worse for him now.”

Their angry, strong gazes locked and held for a long moment. But John’s broke first as he looked away and closed his eyes, and forced himself to calm down by taking deep breaths. Sam went on relentlessly, his tone low and fierce, “You want to know what he told that terrified little kid a few months ago? Huh? He told that boy that … that he knew what it was like to see something so horrible that it was too scary to face. And he told that kid that he’d only gotten past it because he thought his mother would want him to be brave. And … and that’s when it hit me, when I realized that Dean has done his absolute best to be brave every damned day of his life since he was four years old.”

His emotions in turmoil, John’s memories again sped back to that night. To a little boy he’d asked for help to safeguard his baby brother. And how Dean had looked up at the flames in the room above, where she’d died. He scraped his hands over his face as he tried to block out the vision of little Dean seeing her gutted by a monster. How terrified he must have been of that beast. How deeply scarred by what he had seen. Drawing shuddering breaths, John remembered how Dean’s face had changed from the vulnerability of shock and terror, how grim resolution had slowly filled the pale features, and how steady his haunted gaze had been when he’d nodded with such solemn deliberation, making his mute commitment to protect Sammy. Moisture brimmed in John’s eyes then, realizing now that his son must have been imagining having to stand between his baby brother and that demon he’d seen destroy his mother. Only four years old and he’d made a promise like that. Because he thought his mother would want him to be brave.

Shaking his head numbly, awash with despair for what his son had experienced, had lived with all these years, John’s throat closed up tight and he had to sniff back tears. Swallowing hard, he ruthlessly brought his turbulent emotions under control. However badly he felt, this wasn’t about him. Gently moving Sam out of his way, he sat down on the bed beside Dean.

“I’m sorry, son,” he rasped miserably. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”

Dean shook his head helplessly and held himself tensely. He wanted desperately for this not to be happening. But John gripped his shoulders with his strong hands. “Would you blame a child for being afraid? For being too shocked to move if that child had seen what you saw?” he asked gently.

“What kind of question is that?” Dean protested, still hoping to deflect the inevitable. “Like asking a man if he still beats his wife. No matter what he says, he’s in trouble.”

“Dean, come on,” John encouraged, his fury long spent, leaving only sorrow behind. “Would you blame any child who saw his mother brutally murdered for being afraid?

Struggling for control, Dean closed his eyes and tightly shook his head. “No, of course not,” he whispered huskily.

“Then stop blaming yourself,” John urged with rough compassion. “You didn’t do anything wrong, son. You couldn’t have stopped what happened. You couldn’t have saved your mother. The man you are now knows that. You’ve got to forgive that child inside of you.”

It was too much. What was the use of denial if they couldn’t be persuaded from the truth they’d divined? And he couldn’t let them feel sorry for him, or forgive him because that would be wrong. It was his fault that his mother had died so horribly, that Sammy had almost been taken that night. He’d been so ashamed for so long; had hoped they’d never know, but … but they knew now. And the memories were so bad. Acid churned in his gut and tears blurred his eyes, but he forced himself to tell them the truth. There was no point in hiding it anymore, and they deserved to know what he’d done. Not done. Swallowing convulsively, he rasped hoarsely, “I could have yelled for you. I could have tried to fight him.” His voice broke and his pressed his lips together. Covering his eyes, he choked, “I could have done something. Not just stand there and … and see … see Mom ….” His voice cracked and broke, and a sob broke loose as Dean lost the last vestiges of his control; humiliated, he hunched over and covered his face with his hand.

“Ah, Dean,” John murmured brokenheartedly. “Oh, son, no, no.” His grip tightened on Dean’s shoulders and then he drew his boy close, to cradle him against his chest.

“I was a coward, Dad,” Dean insisted hoarsely, forcing himself to be completely honest. “I didn’t do anything to stop …. I was s-so s-scared. And then, and then ….” But he couldn’t say it, couldn’t ever put into words what he’d seen that night. If he kept trying, he knew he might never be able to speak again.

“Shh, now, it’s alright, son,” John consoled him. Gently, he stroked Dean’s back while Sam looked on, tears in his own eyes. When the shudders stopped racking Dean’s body, quietly but firmly John murmured, “You’re no coward, Dean. Believe me. You were just a little boy who saw something he never should ever have to see or carry around in his soul. My God, son; what you saw would bring strong men to their knees, have them running for their lives. But you never let it stop you, did you? You are brave, son. Braver than anyone else I know. You made a vow that night to take care of Sammy, and you’ve kept your word, all your life. And you’ve helped me … helped me all these years, when you knew even better than I what we were up against. Dean, son, your mother would be very, very proud of you. And so am I.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean whispered, exhausted, his thin reserves of energy spent. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t help her.”

“You were a child,” John insisted again. “Just a little boy. But you’ve helped so many people since. Saved so many lives.”

Sinking onto the edge of his father’s bed, Sam said soberly, “And that’s the point, I think. That’s what makes Dean so dangerous to them.”

Embarrassed to have fallen apart so completely, Dean sniffed as he eased out of father’s embrace, and then scrubbed the tracks of tears from his face. Frowning in confusion at Sam’s last statement he looked askance at Sam, as did John. The words didn’t make any sense.

Seeing that they didn’t understand, Sam looked away to order his thoughts, and then slowly explained, “Dean, you’ve never been driven by revenge, like we have. You’ve never gone on a hunt for the sake of selfish, dark satisfaction. Even with what you saw, you don’t need to take suicidal chances to get even.” Bringing his gaze back to his brother’s, he went on, “You’re in it because you really care about the innocent ones, the defenseless ones – like Mom, and Jessica, and even yourself as a little boy and me as a baby – who need to be protected, sheltered from ever knowing what you know, or suffering what you suffered.”

Dean flushed with embarrassment, and his gaze dropped away. Needing him to listen, to hear what he had to say, Sam reached across to grip his arm, and draw Dean’s gaze back to his own. “The demons are all about destruction and hate,” he said with deep conviction as he looked squarely at his brother, “And you’re their antithesis. You’re the skilled hunter who faces them without flinching, and for reasons that are exactly the opposite of darkness. Dean, you’re all about the light. You do what you do out of compassion and love and raw courage. And that’s the power, maybe the only power that can defeat them. The love inside of you – and the love you inspire in others.”

“Oh, come on,” Dean objected disparagingly, pulling away. “You make me sound like some kind of hero.”

“Maybe because that’s exactly what you are,” Sam replied soberly. “I think that’s why they can’t take you over. There’s no darkness in you to latch onto.”

Dean closed his eyes and shook his head. “I’m no saint, Sammy,” he said repressively. “Don’t make out like I am. I lie, I scam on a regular basis. Hell, I’ve even killed that poor innocent guy who had the bad luck to be possessed.”

“But what do you get out of it; personally, I mean?” Sam challenged right back. “I’ll tell you what: nothing; absolutely nothing but the satisfaction of knowing that you do what you have to do to save lives, innocent lives. Dean, you think I haven’t noticed that you have no dreams for yourself? That … that your whole life has been devoted to protecting people and you just assume that’s the way it’s always going to be?”

“Whatever,” Dean said abruptly, dismissively, uncomfortable with the picture Sam was painting of him. “What does any of that have to do with stopping these bastards?”

“Maybe everything,” Sam said, looking from his brother to his father and back again. “What stopped him, God, was it only two nights ago? Not Dad’s experience. Not my skills. What stopped him, what gave us the ability to push him away, to fight back, was love – not hate or a desire for revenge. But the pure and simple love we felt for you and our desperation to keep him from hurting you anymore. That’s what stopped him, Dean. What defeated him in that shack. What drove him away. Love. Scares the shit out of him because it’s a power he can’t match.”

When they both still looked uncertain, he strove harder to convince them of what he was increasingly sure was true. “Dad’s got the experience, and maybe even insights into what they’re planning, given the demon that seems to be the leader of the whole damned horde of them was inside him.”

Startled, John gaped at him, and then became thoughtful, wondering what he might not know he knew, what he might not have realized in the chaos of what was happening and his desperate, furious fight to regain power over himself. Seeing his introspection, Sam nodded encouragingly as he continued, “And I’ve got some special abilities that I can find out more about, learn to handle better. But you’re our rock, Dean. You keep us honest; you make sure we stay focused on the right reasons and not get lost in our anger and our need to just destroy that … that thing; just like you made me face it the other day. You keep reminding us that it’s about helping people, about caring for one another more than we hate it. About being a family.”

When Dean and John looked at him thoughtfully, Sam vehemently insisted, “There’s no one else out there who can fight back the way we can; no one with the knowledge or skills or experience. We’re the only ones who can take them on with any hope of winning.”

He paused and then added meaningfully, “But only if we do it together.”

Dean’s brows quirked and he shrugged. He knew it was crazy, given what they were up against, but he couldn’t quite repress the simple joy he felt that they didn’t despise for the secret he’d hidden from them. Nor could he keep the quirk of a grin from the corner of his mouth or the sparkle from his eyes at the thought of spending time with, working beside, both his father and his brother, the two most important people in his life. “Works for me,” he agreed without hesitation, and then glanced at his father.

As he came to grips with Sam’s theory, John grappled with his fierce independence and his overwhelming rage and desire for revenge. They were asking him to break his pattern of a lifetime. And then he looked at his sons and thought of all that was at stake – much, much more than his eventual, hollow satisfaction at finally avenging Mary’s death. Straightening with new determination, he gripped Dean’s shoulder and then reached across the narrow space between the beds to take Sam’s hand. “Together,” he affirmed with a sharp, decisive nod. “We do this together.”


Finis

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
bbrownsugar
Jul. 1st, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
Very nicely done. You've got talent, and I think you've pegged down the Winchester boys as much as any writer Kripke's team.

Great job, and keep 'em comin', if you can.
caarianna
Jul. 1st, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Oh, wow! I love your enthusiasm and the way you give feedback as you go along! And I'm SO pleased you feel I both captured the characters and that the plot was credible! I was pretty nervous going ahead with this when I haven't yet seen all the eps! But, man, once I started watching this series, I was hooked in about two minutes, LOL. And the cliffhanger was just about the best writing and acting I've ever seen on tv. Breathtaking!

I'm primarily a writer in Hercules, The Legendary Journeys, and The Sentinel fandoms, but I love these characters and the whole scenario. Now, I just need to come up with some 'horror' plotlines. Until SPN, I've avoided horror themes like the plague! But now .... LOL. I've got to do some research for storylines.

Thanks again for your really terrific feedback and encouragement!!!!
bbrownsugar
Jul. 1st, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
You're very welcome :).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Dorian
caarianna
caarianna

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow