|What Never Should Have Been
Author: Linda Atkinson PM
Supernatural AU where John doesn't die and Dean and Sam have a normal life growing up, but with a catch. Dean learns the hard way again. GENRated: Fiction T - English - Dean W. & John W. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 22,450 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 6 - Published: 06-08-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5121559
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
What Should Have Never Been
Author: Linda Atkinson
Characters: Sam, Dean, John, OCs
Warnings: Completely AU after What Is and What Should Never Be, violence, angst,
Drug-use, abuse, Evil Sam(maybe)
Summary: Dean is so shaken by events in What Is and What Should Have Been that he makes a deal with the cross-roads demon to change the past so that his father doesn't become a hunter and ends up in a alternate world where things are radically different, except that he alone can remember the original time-line.
Many thanks to Sioux_Sioux for her beta and assistance on the story.
The hotel room was quiet except for the rattling hum of the air conditioner. Dean rolled over staring at the bed on the opposite side of the room. He could just make out the man-shape bundle that was his brother swathed in blankets despite the suffocating heat. With a sigh Dean fumbled the covers off and staggered to the half-size refrigerator under the window pulling out a plastic bottle of water.
He regarded his own bed with all the enthusiasm of man digging his own grave. Instead Dean flopped down into one of the wooden framed upholstered chairs shoved around the small round table beside the fridge. He lifted the water bottle noticing, not for the first time, that his hand was shaking. Of course, he had lost a lot of blood at the djinn's hands.
He wondered if that was the sole reason for his continued unease.
Sam had saved his ass, dragged Dean out of his comatose state and set him firmly back into reality. The only problem was that his reality wasn't any better than the damned nightmare world the genie had created. Seeing his Dad's happy smiling face, if only in that dream state, reinforced in Dean the gaping hole in his life that his father's death had left. Dean sighed. It was odd that the djinn could give him his mother but not his father, as if Dean was to always be denied his family, whole and intact. Either one or another, but never both.
After he had settled down enough to realize that the things he saw were not really another life, a do-over on reality, Dean had come to the conclusion that his father's absence affected him more than his mother's death. It was harsh but true. Dean had had his mother for four years his father had been there all his life. What did it say about him that if he had to choose he wanted his father back? But, and this was a big one, he wanted the happy smiling man in the softball uniform and the silly Santa hat, not the hard, stone-cold killer that his father had become in the end. Dean could never forgive his father for making that deal. How could a man be so cold that he would consign his own soul to hell to save his son, when that son couldn't live without him?
All these thoughts kept streaking through Dean's mind, crashing into his consciousness, sending him spiraling down into depression. Sam couldn't understand, he didn't have the frame of reference. He never understood Dad not the way Dean had. He didn't have those happy memories of an all too brief time of normalcy, of a happy loving father, and a warm, caring mother who were all things to one little boy. Dean felt the bitter sting of tears and he scrubbed a hand over his eyes. He knew he couldn't have that back, somewhere in the back of his mind Dean realized that his mother was lost to him, but Dad? He could get his father back; he just had to craft the deal well enough.
Sitting up straight Dean sighed; he fingered the water bottle tracing his thumb lightly over the spout. His father had taught Dean how to hustle pool and cards and run credit card scams. John Winchester was a con artist extraordinaire. He had taught his older son that Winchester Hustle, and Dean could sing and dance with the best of them. All he had to do was beat that red-eyed bitch at her own game.
Sighing, Dean rose and ambled back over to his bed. He'd craft the deal right, make it air tight. Make sure that she couldn't screw him on this one. Demons weren't any smarter than humans in the long run. All he had to do was think about this, take his time. He had one shot and he wasn't going to screw this up by going off half-cocked. Sam rolled over in his sleep and Dean held his breath wondering, briefly, if Sam could hear his thoughts. This was something his brother really didn't need to be involved with.
Still it was two weeks before Dean decided that he had the terms of the deal settled enough in his own mind that the demon couldn't mess with his head. They had pulled into Barstow, California, three hours ago, on a bogus hunt that Dean had told Sam about and insisted that they handle, despite his brother's eye rolling and bitching about the drive.
He wasn't sure why he had insisted that they needed to come to California, only that in his mind this was the place he wanted the deal to go down. He had parked Sam at the Motel Six just off the freeway exit ramp and they had done take-out for dinner. Then Dean made an off hand remark about hustling up some action, pool or otherwise, and here he was, the intersection of Dead and End Streets.
The cement tilt-up structures were bare and ugly in the sickly orange glow of the sodium lights. It might be midnight but with CalEd on the job it was never dark. Rubbing a hand over his eyes again Dean dropped to his knees and scratched out a trench in the hard, clay earth. As soon as the photograph was buried in the dirt Dean hobbled to his feet, not trusting the demon to not just pop up behind him. His Dad had drilled into his head at an early age, "Always watch your back, son."
Dean took him to heart.
"Come on, come on. I ain't got all night, sister," Dean snapped, then flinched as a cool breeze ruffled his hair. He stepped back, pacing a few feet away from the gouge in the earth looking intently at the intersection. And was still surprised when a hand fell on his shoulder.
"Shit, do you have to do that?"
Cocking her head she grinned at him.
"Well, girls just wanna have fun."
Rolling his eyes Dean sighed.
"Do I have really have to tell you why I'm here?"
"Oh come on, just for old time's sake."
"I wanna make a deal," he said simply, and she nodded, encouraging him to speak with her soft doe eyes and slinky smile.
"Some poor sucker got a little lost wifey?" the demon asked, twirling her finger against the front of his shirt. Dean looked down then shot her a glare.
"Oh I see; here on a more personal basis?"
"I want…" Dean began but she interrupted him with a giggle and a flourish of one slender hand. She hummed a phrase of music then whispered,
"So I want to warn you laddie, though I know that you're perfectly swell. That my heart belongs to Daddy, 'cause my Daddy, he treats me so well…" she leered, making the words sound so much more vulgar than they were meant to be. "Oh poor Dean, does his little broken heart still belong to Daddy?"
It took every ounce of strength that he had not to toss holy water on the bitch, but that would only piss her off, so he swallowed his anger and smiled. That made her pause. He felt a brief rush of pride at knocking her off her game, and his grin went from pained to genuine. She narrowed her eyes.
Dean took a step forward, no longer overwhelmed; let her say what she wanted, as long as he got his deal. He brushed a hand across her cheek, and she took a step back. With a grimace the demon waved an impatient hand.
"So get on with it."
All trace of humor had left her face and, for Dean, that was almost as satisfying as getting what he came for.
"I want to make a deal, well that's sort of a given isn't it?"
"Just cut the small talk, Deano…" she paused, as if waiting to see if that was going to hit its mark, but his father hadn't called him that in so long that it was a moot point. He smiled just as smoothly as if she was a pick-up in a bar.
"I want my Dad, alive again. And I want it so that he can never make that deal with the yellow-eyed demon, never goes to Hell. In fact, I want it so that he never was a hunter at all. Me and Sam grow up in a normal house, Sammy gets to go to college and I do whatever the hell I do."
"Okay, so that can be done. Of course, you realize that all the people that you and your father saved over the years are going to die. This affects so many more lives that just the three of you."
"I know, I kinda dealt with that already, but that isn't necessarily true. We aren't the only hunters out there. Some of them will be helped by other hunters. The rest I don't care about right now."
Her smile was almost blinding.
"I just have one further little stipulation. You'll have to remember this time-line when you move into the other reality, but it does have an upside for you Deano. The Dean that you are replacing will pay your debt here. I get his soul; can you condemn an innocent man to Hell?"
"Hey, if he's another me, he's no innocent. You can have him."
"Just remember that little phrase, 'be careful what you wish for'."
She winked then leaned forward. Dean bent down wrapping his hand around her head, fingers raking through her hair. He squeezed her neck gently, pressing his lips to hers and she opened for him. They stood pressed together for a long time, Dean holding her close to him when she tried to pull away. Finally, she shoved him back.
"Oh you'd better hit the road, Dean. Sammy and Daddy are waiting for you in Palto Alto. Don't be late; Sammy gets a little cranky when he has to deal with the old man without his enforcer."
Dean didn't stop to think about what that might mean. With a grin he strolled to the Impala and stood glancing back at the empty intersection. He thought that he might feel dizziness or some kind of disorientation when the time-line shifted, but apparently the demon world was fresh out of 'speshul FXs'. Dean laughed flipping his keys in the air and walking back to the trunk of the car.
His duffle bag was tossed in the trunk, and that was odd because he distinctly remembered leaving it in the Motel Six in Barstow with Sammy. But that was then, this was now. He pawed through the trunk looking over the contents. A first-aid kit, plastic and white, still swathed in shrink-wrap, as if it had never been used. A box with some road flares, a can of Fix a Flat, and a toolbox that had a ratchet set and a can of WD-40, shoved on top of some greasy, oil-stained tools, but no false bottom, no shot-gun, no holy water, no hunting paraphernalia at all. He smiled, better and better.
Closing his eyes Dean walked around to the driver's door and slid behind the wheel. The demon had said that Sam and his father were in Palo Alto, and that was a bit odd. Why had his Dad relocated to Palo Alto? Maybe when Sammy got into Stanford the old man had been so happy he had moved the whole clan to California. Well, that was a new twist on the situation, and one that Dean was more than happy with, although she had said that Sammy didn't like dealing with their father without Dean so maybe things weren't so copasetic after all. Still, Sam and Dad living together had one operative word in it, living as in both alive.
Dean smiled turning the engine over and cranking the music up. He bypassed the side streets leading to the hotel and hit the interstate all the way to the California coast. The sun was just rising when the Impala pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway and Dean rolled into a Denny's parking lot. He needed a cup of coffee, and he had been half way to the city when Dean realized he had no idea where they lived.
He was debating just looking up Sam or his Dad's name in the phonebook when his cell phone rang. Dean pulled it out of his pocket and flicked it on happily slurping his coffee just to annoy his younger brother.
Sam sounded annoyed, more than annoyed, he sounded pissed off, and that took some of the cheer out of Dean's morning. Frowning he nodded at the waitress as she topped him off and then sighed into the phone.
"Sammy, what's up my man?"
"Dean, you were supposed to be back yesterday. Where the hell are you? You know that he's difficult to deal with when you're not here. I mean the whole reason that I support your lazy ass is that you can keep Dad in line. If you're not going to do that I don't need either of you here. You can do what you like and he can go back…"
"Whoa big fella," Dean said with a grin, so Sammy and Dad were going a few rounds. He'd take it any day. "I'm almost home. I drove all night and I had to pull off and get some coffee before I drove right into the big blue ocean."
Sam sighed. "Okay, it's just that I have a final this week, and Sara is running herself ragged trying to deal with Dad and the baby."
Dean blinked, Baby? Well, hell where had that come from? He almost said something like that outloud then clamped his lips shut. Sara? Hadn't that chick Sam had been dating been named Jess? Who the hell was Sara?
"Don't panic little bro, I'm on my way." Dean clicked the phone off then gave himself a mental kick in the ass, but it would have sounded funny if he had added, "Oh, by the way Sam, where do we live?"
He settled for star 69ing Sam's number then hoping that he was calling from the house and not his cell. He lucked out, the number popped up on the screen when he grabbed the phonebook. Quickly Dean flipped through the pages until his finger landed on Samuel Winchester, the number and an address. Ripping the page out of the book, Dean headed out to the parking lot.
The house that Dean pulled up in front of was huge, at least five bedrooms, nicely landscaped and in a good neighborhood. He smiled; Dad must have done really well for himself for them to land in this kind of place. Dean pulled the Impala up in the driveway beside a nice four door sedan, something sensible that he was sure belonged to Sam. Then he glanced around looking for his father's pick-up, but there was no other vehicle in sight. Maybe Dad was out.
Dean tugged his keys out of the ignition and retrieved his bag from the trunk. There was a house key on his key ring and Dean opened the front door.
The front room was spacious, airy and beautifully decorated. In fact it looked like something he had once seen in a magazine ad. The hardwood floors were spotlessly clean, and the overstuffed furniture looked immaculate and barely used. The place was kind of a let down for him. It felt more like a museum than a home, but considering some of the places they had lived as kids Dean wasn't going to complain.
A harried looking tall blond woman carrying a baby in her arms appeared around the corner and she smiled.
"Oh Dean you're home."
"Yeah uh…Sara, I'm sorry that I'm late. Sammy called me and said that he was having trouble with Dad."
She frowned. "Well you know how it is. You're the only one that can keep him in line. Sam just doesn't have your way with John."
Sam appeared in the hallway frowning at his brother.
"God, I'm glad you're back. You know it's your job to make sure he stays in line. It's why you're here and he's not at Clearview. He's in his room, come on. He hasn't been cooperating with me or Sara and he needs to take his meds."
Dean felt his stomach clench.
"Did he get hurt?"
"No Dean, it's really fortunate he didn't get out and cause a fuss. He just won't take his meds. You get them in him, whatever way you usually do. And get him cleaned up for lunch."
A sudden sense of dread fell on Dean. That didn't sound good. But he followed his brother down the hall to a closed door. Sam didn't bother knocking he just pushed into the room. Dean followed. The bedroom was neat, almost fanatically clean. Tall dresser with a frilly looking fern of some kind on the top, a large bed, rumpled but clean, with two nightstands and a small desk pushed against the far wall.
There was a large bay window with a really nice view of the yard and the street, on the other wall and a chair was pushed in front of it. Dean stumbled to a halt. Seated in the chair was his father, hair a bit longer than Dean remembered him ever wearing it, but still thick and dark, curling around the collar of the blue cotton pajamas he was wearing.
"Dad," Sam snapped and the figure in the chair flinched at the sound of his voice. Dean frowned again. "Dad, Dean is here, and you are going to behave yourself and take these pills or he'll make you."
For the first time Dean noticed that his brother was carrying a paper cup in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. He shoved both at his older brother then stormed to the chair.
John cringed again when Sam tugged at him arm, and then he rose silently coming to stand beside his older son. Dean looked at his father aghast. John was thinner than he had been in the other life, but he was not as weather-beaten his skin smooth and free from damage from too many years spent in dark smoky bars. But he had a black eye and split lip. When he looked up at Dean there was a definite hint of fear in his face.
"Dad," Dean said, but John shrank back.
"You're not him, not my Dean. Where is my son?"
Sam looked angry and turned to his brother.
"See, this is what we've been putting up with all weekend. He keeps saying that Dean is gone somewhere else. The same crazy bullshit he's been spouting for years."
Sam turned back to their father.
"Take your pills, Dad."
He nudged Dean's arm and Dean held the cup out to their father. John looked at Sam and then back at Dean.
"No, I don't need it. I'm not crazy. Tell him you're not my Dean. You're somebody else's Dean."
"Dad," Sam said grabbing John's wrist. "Take the damn pills."
With a snarl Sam jerked their father's arm and the older man winced. Dean could see the line of bruises ringing John's wrist. John tried to pull away and Sam slapped him hard across the face. The cut on his lip opened and blood dribbled down John's chin.
Dean jerked back, horrified, when John cringed and cowered into the corner. Sam pulled him out again and raised a hand.
"Look Dean it's your reasonability to take care of him. Get the damn pills in him." Turning back to their father he snapped, "Do you want to go back to Clearview, Dad?"
"No Sammy, please. I'll take the pills."
John carefully accepted the cup from Dean and obediently swallowed several capsules in it. He choked a bit on the water and ended up dribbling bloody fluid onto his pajama shirt, but the pills stayed down.
With a snort Sam turned and stalked out the door, he whirled in the hallway jerking his chin in John's direction.
"Get him in clean clothes. Uncle Roger and Aunt Carol are coming for lunch, and I want him presentable."
"Hey, Dad," Dean began but John pulled away from him frowning. The pills must have been strong because they were beginning to affect him already and John looked a bit disorientated. "Dad, come on in the bathroom, and let's get that cut taken care of."
His hand was shaking again and Dean tried to ignore it as he surveyed the interior of the small en suite bathroom in John's room. The porcelain counter was immaculate, and held a brush and electric razor, although his father looked like he hadn't shaven in a week. Dean pulled one of the thick white wash clothes off the rack on the sink and ran cold water over it. Pressing the cloth to John's lip he tried not to notice that this father trembled beneath his touch. If Sammy had beaten John it might account for some of John's discomfort. Dean set that thought aside for now, concentrating on stopping the bleeding, it was something he was all too familiar with, and his father settled down after a minute.
"Did you take a shower this morning?" he asked and John nodded listlessly. "How about some clean clothes?"
He tugged on John's arm and his father followed along silently. Quickly Dean went through the closet and came up with a blue chambray work shirt and a pair of jeans. His father began silently stripping off the soiled pajama shirt and Dean turned offering him the work shirt. He hissed in surprise as he caught sight of the bruises on John's side and back, ugly, dark purple marks of a recent beating.
John hung his head, cheeks pink with shame, but he accepted the clean shirt and hustled into it without help. Dean sighed as he handed the jeans to his father and turned to walk across the room, but John merely shimmied out of his pajama bottoms as if Dean wasn't there and tugged the jeans on. There were more bruises on one leg and Dean was really angry at Sam now. How could his brother have done this to their father when the man was obviously ill?
When Dean turned around again John was fumbling with the sleeves of his shirt, trying to roll them up and failing. Dean stepped forward and John held out an arm complacently. It hurt Dean to watch a man who had moved with such deadly grace and precision unable to even cuff his own sleeves.
The doorbell rang when Dean and John walked down the hall from the bedroom to the kitchen. Sara hurried through the house smiling broadly at the middle-aged man and women a few years older than their father. Dean remembered them vaguely, he remembered the big bluff man at his mother's funeral, and the screaming fight they had had with his father a few months later. That was just before Child Protective Services had shown up at the hotel they were staying in, just before they left Lawrence the first time.
Apparently though, in this time-line, Uncle Roger and Aunt Carol had played a more important part in their lives and Dean felt uneasy about it. Sam's wife, his sister-in-law, Dean supposed, ushered the couple inside. They smiled coolly at Dean and looked right through his father. That pissed Dean off, but he kept quiet. Aunt Carol reached for the baby in Sara's arms.
"How's grandma's girl," she cooed. Turning, Carol held the baby up to Roger and smiled. "Look, honey she's getting so big."
Roger took the baby and bouncing her, she giggled. "That's grandpa's little lady, yes she is."
John stiffened. "She's not your granddaughter, she's mine. You took my sons you're not taking her too."
Dean frowned at that. He clearly remembered Uncle Roger and Aunt Carol coming to the hotel to talk to their father and the almost knock-down, drag-out fight that resulted in. He remembered their Dad practically throwing their things into boxes and packing the Impala. But in this reality something had happened, they hadn't gotten away. He desperately wanted to find out what happened. He wasn't sure he could ask his father, as drugged-up as the man was, anything he said was suspect. There had to be someone he could ask.
The uncomfortable silence began to grate on Dean and he patted his father's arm.
"Come on Dad, let's go see if we can scout up Sammy for lunch."
John cocked his head then nodded, casting one last glare at the couple beside the door. Dean could hear the murmured voices behind them. Roger's angry bluster.
"You should talk Sam into putting him back in the institution, and kicking that older boy's lazy ass out of here."
The resignation in Sara's voice convinced Dean that she had approached his brother about that very subject, many times.
"Sam won't Uncle Roger, you know how much he loves his brother and he'd never put John in Clearview again, not after the incident last year."
Dean frowned, incident? He hadn't been here more than two hours and he was beginning to hate the name Clearview. Quickly he tugged John into the dining room. His father let Dean lead him by the hand, and Dean ran his fingertips over the skin of the older man's wrist. Suddenly he stopped, turning John's hands over palm up. John didn't pull away even when Dean ran his fingers over the raised red scars that ran across both wrists. He flinched, horrified that his father had tried to commit suicide.
"Awwww, Dad why?" he whispered not really expecting an answer, but John looked at him shuddering as he tried to put his thoughts into words.
"I didn't, she did it. She made it look like it was me, but she did it. She's one of them you know," John said looking over his shoulder at the young woman cradling the baby in her arms.
Dean cast a glance at the people in the hallway.
"One of them? You mean Sara? She's one of what?"
John leaned forward letting his eyes slip closed, "A demon."