Author: embroiderama PM
John wishes he didn’t remember the first time Dean was hurt by his quest.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Drama - John W. & Dean W. - Words: 1,566 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 6 - Published: 07-05-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3027694
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Challenge: chart challenge, first injury
Characters: John, Dean, Sam
Word Count: approx 1400
Disclaimer: None of the Winchesters belong to me, alas.
Summary: John wishes he didn't remember the first time Dean was hurt by his quest.
Notes: I've been having this problem where I want my stories to be longer, but they want to be shorter. I'm not sure what to do about that other than apologize for the not-enough-words.
Quiet nights, when there's nothing to keep him from admitting it to himself, John Winchester looks forward to it all being over. He's deeply sure that there's no way for him to defeat the demon and come out the other side. And what would be left, anyway? He'll never, now, be the man he was, and he hates the idea of having nothing to do but remember all that's lost to him.
He looks forward to nothingness the way another man, a whole man, would look forward to going to sleep after a triple shift. The way he once looked forward to going home after a long stretch overseas. In the nothingness, he won't have to see Mary burning, again and again, the blanket of fire she was wrapped in curling down to swaddle his youngest son.
He won't have to see the look in his oldest son's eyes the night that Dean was first burnt by John's need to pursue the demon and everything like it. That night… There are so many things that seem worse, rationally, quantitatively, but very little cuts to his core like the memory of those hurt eyes looking at him from his boy's face. He can feel them watching him sometimes, even now when he can look at Dean and catch his gaze, flinty and mocking, from across a room.
He doesn't have to close his eyes to remember.
It had been a very bad week--not so much the hunting but the complex and frustrating mechanics of their lives. The boys were 3 and 7, and they'd been staying with his sister in Topeka while he stayed on the road. John didn't like leaving the boys there; his sister was their only living relative, but John didn't trust her worthless husband not to kill them driving drunk or worse. His worst nightmares at the time consisted of his brother in law burning down the house, oh god forbid, burning down the house with his boys in it.
When summer came, and at last Dean was out of school, he took the boys out on the road with him, relieved each night when he could see them settled into bed safely. But that week they were cursed with mundane problems: the Impala needed a new transmission; Sammy had a cold; Dean wouldn't stop complaining about the fact that he couldn't play on the baseball team that the other boys at his school had all joined. The only motel in the small town he was working out of didn't feel safe. John couldn't sleep, and he missed Mary with an ache that had him twisting his wedding band until the skin underneath grew raw and red.
He couldn't quite get a handle on what he was hunting. He knew that some kind of non-corporeal entity was attacking people at an abandoned house, but no other details had emerged yet. He went to check the location out, but ended up heading back to the motel having found nothing. He hadn't, at that point, developed the research skills and intuition he needed to hunt best, and so often it all felt like stabbing in the dark.
Stepping out of the Impala, he felt invisible hands slam into him, and he hit the ground before he could pull the holy water out from under his jacket. He heard steel creaking as the entity rocked the car on its wheels, and then he heard lightly pounding feet approaching from the direction of the hotel room door.
"Daddy!" The sound of Dean's voice, so small, made John push himself upwards. The entity could be anywhere.
"Dean, no! Get inside right now!"
But the damn thing was too fast, and suddenly Dean was flying, swung around by his small arm, landing against the side of the Impala with a scream and a dull thump. John shouted a rough incantation to corporealize the spirit and then blasted it with salt shot, running around the car towards Dean even as the spirit shrieked and dissipated.
"Dean!" His boy was curled against the rear wheel on the passenger side, clutching his left arm hard with his right, his eyes pressed closed. "Oh god," John husked out, kneeling down at Dean's side.
Dean opened his eyes, and John felt the boy's wide, wet, uncomprehending gaze pierce his soul. Like Mary's eyes. Like Mary looking down at him from the ceiling. Like Mary… "Daddy? What?" His voice rose, filling with panic. "What happened? I didn't--"
"It's okay, we're okay, Dean. Let me see your arm."
Dean shook his head, his face pale with pain, and pulled his knees up to scoot back another inch until he was almost sitting in the wheel well. "No, it--it's okay."
John sighed, knowing that his son was terrified and in pain and also knowing that they couldn't continue this way, out in the middle of the parking lot. "It's okay, Dean, come here." Reaching one hand behind Dean's shaking back and the other under his knees, John picked the boy up, ignoring his protests, which quickly subsided into silence.
In the room, he found Sammy asleep, snoring a little wetly through his congestion. John sat Dean down on the second bed and inspected his arm, easily locating the fracture in the forearm. The arm was already swelling, and Dean's eyes seemed so large, though they were dry now in his pale face.
"We're going to have to go to the hospital, son." He gently patted the shoulder on Dean's uninjured side. "You sit tight while I go wake up Sammy."
Dean just nodded and looked down.
Once Sammy was awake and wearing shoes and something resembling clothes, John carried him out to the car in one arm while guiding Dean, who still clutched his left arm close to him body, to the car. They had a thirty minute drive to get to the nearest emergency room, and though he couldn't see his son's face in the dark car, he could hear his breathing roughen every time the car passed over a pothole.
The hospital was a quiet nightmare. Sammy mostly slept in John's arms or at his side, as he filled out paperwork. As he explained to the suspicious-eyed young doctor that his son had nearly run out in from of a semi, that he'd had to grab him swiftly in order to save him. That he hadn't known his own strength.
John felt the doctor's distrust and felt simultaneously irritated with the man for not minding his own business and angry with himself for not protecting his family from this. Dean's story, which John overheard him telling to the doctor in a subdued voice, matched his.
"I wasn't supposed to, but I ran out by the cars."
And he was damn right that he wasn't supposed to. Dean's orders were to stay in the room with Sammy. To stay in bed until Daddy came back. John could see the knowledge of his mistake in Dean's down-turned gaze. He could see his son's determination to look like a man by refusing to cry, even when the doctor gave him a shot and set the bone in a cast.
But Dean couldn't control the look in his eyes, and John hated himself for the pain he saw there. He hadn't chosen this quest, this burden, but he had accepted it, and now Dean had to bear it as well.
Eventually, the night ended. In the early dawn, the hospital released Dean, and finally the boy was so exhausted from pain and medication and lack of sleep that John carried him out to the car in one arm, leading the now wide-awake Sammy with his free hand.
Soon, Dean seemed to get past the trauma of his encounter with the ghost, and his cast collected decorations--amongst Sammy scribbles, John drew a protection sigil copied from one of the texts Pastor Jim had lent him. By the end of the summer, Dean's arm was healed, the cast removed in another hospital, in another town.
Years later, as John trained Dean in fighting and weapons, he made sure that Dean's left arm got extra training to be just as strong as the right. Dean only vaguely remembered the confusion, the snap, the pain, the long night in the bright lights, but John wished his memories were so soft in focus. His son's pained eyes had injured him, too, that night, and he knew that, when he died, it would be with that wound in his heart.