John Winchester had always dreamed in black and white. He had never found that strange, although it had fascinated the Marine headshrinker they'd sent him to for his discharge debriefing. That guy had told John that the black and white dreams were probably his subconscious' way of distancing him from the things he'd seen and done in country. John didn't pay much attention--he never woke up screaming like some of the guys in his unit, and that was all that mattered. If he had a super special kickass protective subconscious, well, bully for him. He had done his duty for his country and was going home to marry his sweetheart and grab hold of whatever portion of the American dream he could.
And he did, and his life was good.
Until he started dreaming in color.
He wasn't sure what frightened him more--the fact that the colors were so vibrant and lifelike, or that the main color featured was red. Red like blood and fire, and both shades covering the woman he loved--who was improbably positioned on the ceiling, mouth opened in a silent scream.
And then the dream came true, and even though John saw the red of the blood and felt the heat of the fire, the actual event was less real to him than the dreaming of it had been.
Afterwards, his dreams returned to monochrome, but that didn't make the experiences he relived through them any less horrible. So much for his super special kickass subconscious, he thought, although deep down he knew the only thing that would protect his psyche from the dreams that haunted it would be insanity or oblivion.
So he hunted, and he raised his boys to protect themselves, and he asked them from time to time about their dreams. Sam dreamed in color, so John took special care to ask Sammy what appeared in his dreams, because the ones in color seemed so much more dangerous, more capable of becoming real.
Dean dreamed in black and white and John thanked God, because he knew his son would be able to bear the horrors he would be facing.
Then the day came when Sammy took himself and his technicolor dreams off to college, and John dreaded sleeping, for fear that one night his own dreams would be in color again and would feature his youngest boy and too much red. But years passed and it didn't happen, and John began to believe that maybe whatever haunted him stopped with him and Mary, and that it didn't want his entire family after all.
And then John dreamed of Dean in red and white and black, and he was holding his oldest son while Dean's blood spilled out in an endless river of red. Sometimes they were in a clearing, and John could see the claw marks across Dean's chest. Sometimes it was a graveyard, and the red flowed from his eldest's neck. Sometimes it was in the car, and the blood was a mere trickle from Dean's ear, but the open, sightless eyes told John that even though the bleeding had been hidden from view, it was still there, it was enough. In each dream, John was a witness, just as he had been with Mary, and he knew that if he stayed around long enough, what he saw in those horribly colorful dreams would come to pass.
So John did the only thing he could think of--he left. He knew Dean would search for him, knew Dean would go get his brother, and knew, also, that as long as the two of them were together they would be safe. He knew this because he dreamed it in color, but the colors in his dreams of Sam and Dean were green and blue and white--soothing and safe.
He sent them clues, jobs to keep their minds off of his absence, and he searched for a way to change the outcome of his dreams. He knew that the dreams were somehow connected to the thing that killed his wife and now his son's girlfriend, and he hoped that he could finally find what he sought before his boys reached the point beyond which forgiveness was impossible.
John Winchester dreamed in black and white, and prayed his luck would hold.