Summary: Eight years before the Asylum, the Winchesters have thier first encounter with possesion. Evil spirits may turn out to be the least of thier problems though.
A/N:BIG thank you to my beta, chocolate rules! Hope ya'll like it. Let me know what you think, good or bad. :)
John Winchester should know, better than anyone, how five minutes could change the course of a life.
John Winchester should know, better than anyone, that thirty seconds can change the entire course of a life.
And John Winchester should really know, better than anyone, not to wander around a house that's known to be haunted by a truly evil spirit, alone.
But he does it anyway.
He leaves the boys on the first floor of the old farmhouse and jogs up the rotting stairs for a quick, five-minute survey. There's nothing going on though. The rooms are quiet and still, filled with moldy furniture and dust and nothing else. No EMF readings, no smells or sounds, or anything. He's about to go back downstairs and tell Sam and Dean it's a bust when something icy and hot grips at the back of his neck, shooting down his spine like an electrical charge.
Electrocution, now there's something he hopes to never experience.
He spins around but the hall behind him is empty and the EMF detector still reads zero. There is a shift though, a wild charge that dances in the air and he doesn't need any kind of gadget to sense it after so many years in the business. He turns back toward the stairs, gripping the smoothly worn railing, to call Sam and Dean up, but as soon as he opens his mouth something else rushes in, warm and thick and heavy, hits the back of his throat and plunges down to his guts, like puking in reverse. There's no time to choke or call out as the spirit expands inside of him, flooding out to his fingers and toes and tingling up to his brain.
All these years, and he's never really been possessed, none of them have, but there isn't a doubt in John's mind now that that's exactly what's happened. Considering all that he's read and seen it's not what he expected. Just tingling and numbness, even as his body moves down the stairs and he knows he should be feeling something.
And then Dean comes around the corner, followed closely by Sammy, to meet him at the bottom of the staircase. The feelings come on so suddenly that he scarcely has a chance to recognize them. There is a burning itch, fiery in his chest so strong, hatred he's only felt once before and never ever towards his children. He fights the impossible urge to vomit because you can't feel like this when looking at the only things you love in the world, your own two children.
And it's then that John realizes these feelings aren't his. His body isn't his. They belong to the ghost, a gentleman named Arthur Wellington that slaughtered his entire family two hundred years ago with a wood ax and hung himself in the well out back when he was done. Well, shit.
"Did you find him?" Dean asks. The shotgun he'd been holding drops loosely to his side, relaxing now because Dad is here. Dad takes care of everything. John can see that trust in his sons' eyes now, perhaps the undoing of all of them, and again, he swallows bile as 'his' mouth moves, lips curve into a smile.
"Yea," his voice says. "I found him."
But this ghost isn't that good. They see that something is off, thank God, and Dean takes half a step forward as Sam takes half a step back.
"Everything okay Dad?" Dean asks.
"Fine," John's mouth smiles and John feels his confidence bolster at how bad this guy is messing up. His boys can so handle this. And if the smiling doesn't tip them off, he doesn't know what will.
Dean's brow furrows in confusion and he glances back at Sam. And then John's body is moving. He sees his arm before he feels it, but it's too late and too impossible to stop. It's like watching a bad movie as Dean's head cracks back to the left, but the bruising blow he sees delivered by his own fist is only a breath of wind on his knuckles. Dean stumbles away and Sam yells out, but the world is fading and the inconceivable rage is blinding.
Everything goes white and gray, blurring at the edges like an underwater cartoon and then he can't see anything at all. It's dark and white, but he can hear them still, like being in the next room over, listening to a lover's spat through thin walls. Except these are his kids and he's certain a weak sucker punch was only the beginning of Arthur Wellington's warpath. He imagines dismembered limbs and armless hands littering the foyer and panics, trying to remember what sort of weapons he'd been carrying. He pushes at the walls, searching for a weakness or a crack, but this ghost has him locked up good in his own mind and there's no way out that he can see.
The muffled fight rings in his ears. There's a creak and a crash, something breaks and someone, maybe him, yells something about death. That doesn't mean anything though, not if his kids are hurting by his own hands. There's pressure, in his guts, and for a moment John can't breath. The wind is knocked out of his lungs and he cheers for his sons.
Beat me. Hurt me. Kill me.
The victory is short lived though. Even in the calm, blind space of his head, he can tell when the fight turns in his, no, in the spirit's favor. There is a thudding noise that he can't place, the creaking of splintering wood, Sammy's cries and Dean's frantic shouts. The spirit inside of him laughs at the desperation of it all and John shoves back again, willing the thing out of his brain.
Get out. Get out. Stop. Stop…please.
And then, miraculously, the fog begins to clear. Sam's voice speaks clearly through the haze. The world fades back into color and blinks into focus. John drops to his knees, swallowing the vomit that rises in his throat. He's in the archway to the front room now. Sammy stands across the foyer from him, edging up the first few steps with the cleansing ritual in hand and blood running from his now crooked nose. Dean stands defensively in front of him, attempting to steady the shotgun, muzzle not two feet from John's face, with his weaker left hand. The right is bruised wildly and hangs limp at his side.
John gazes down at his own hands. Smeared blood on the back of his palms and blistered knuckles that are sure to swell and bruise. He did this. His own hands.
He leans forward on the dusty floor and retches, harshly expelling the rest of the evil along with his lunch.
They have to go to the ER, just to have Dean's arm set, because no matter how much first aid John has done,you don't mess around withbroken bones. They swing by the motel first though, to clean up and drop off Sammy. A million apologies go unspoken as John explains that the hospital staff will have enough questions without him dragging in two bruised children. It's hard to understand though, even for a thirteen year old genius, and Sam screams at him.
"No! No! I'm going. You hurt him. You did this!"
John holds off Sam's weak blows, mindful of the cuts and bruises that splatter the thin arms and chest. He waits, head bowed, for his son to calm, but an angry Sammy, even injured, has the energy and ferocity of a rabid cat. A well-placed kick to his shin has John cursing.
"Sam! Damn it. Knock it off." He bows to Sam's level, grips his son's shoulders tightly, and tips his head to talk into Sam's ear. "I'm sorry, Sammy. Okay? But you have to stay here and don't pretend like you don't understand why. I need to take care of your brother and the longer you fuss about it, the longer he's going to hurt. Got it?" It's harsher than intended, but he needs to be understood. Sam nods against his shoulder and pulls away to stand stiffly next to the bed.
"We'll be back soon. You know what to do," he offers on his way out the door.
In the car, John tries to talk to Dean. He has to explain about the possession, about the spirit. He has to make him understand that wasn't really him, he didn't have any control and as long as Dean understands, John is certain Sam will too. From his experience though, broken bones hurt like a mother and Dean just stays slumped in the passenger seat, uncharacteristically quiet before turning to John with a tired smile.
"I get it, Dad," he says. "But can we do this later?"
"Sure." John nods weakly. "Later."
The ER is surprisingly calm for this time of night and they're taken back almost immediately. They're almost home free, the fake IDs work beautifully and the doctor, a dark haired, stocky young man, seems to accept the story about football in the backyard.
Kids, don't you know, not as durable as they seem.
But then they cut away Dean's shirt to set the bone and John himself is shocked at the amount of bruising. The past few weeks had been particularly rough, but he didn't think so much so as to cause the spots of blue, yellow, purple and pink that cover his eighteen-year old son. Some old, some brand new and John shoves his hands in his pockets too late as the doctor takes in his bleeding knuckles with a critical eye. The man shares a knowing look with the nurse before she nods and moves toward John with outstretched hands.
"Mr. Winchester, would you like to wait outside?" She smiles sweetly, but it's clear she doesn't mean it as a question as she pushes the door open and guides him out.
"I want him to stay."
He's already half way out the door when Dean argues the nurse's actions.
"What?" he asks and Dean looks up to meet his eyes, determined.
"I want—I want you to stay. Here," he says, not pleading or asking. Just saying it. Dean knows as well as anybody that the doctor wants to get John out of the room so he can press him about the bruises and frankly, John can't blame his son for wanting to avoid that interrogation. John smiles politely and shrugs his way past the nurse, back to the bed.
"Whatever you want, son."
They ask the questions anyway though. Where'd the bruises come from? How'd he break the arm again? What about these scars? These bruises? Mr. Winchester, you really should wait outside.
When Dean is good and relaxed and maybe even asleep under the pain medication though, John knows his continued presence will only cause more suspicion than not and he reluctantly follows the doctor out into the hall where the man, Dr. Haubstadt, informs him that it would be best if Dean stayed the night.
"For a broken bone?" John asks.
The doctor shrugs.
"It's not uncommon. He can rest more comfortably here and we'd just like to make sure everything is…okay." He smiles politely, clearly not intimidated by the man in front of him, and John returns a tight grin.
"Everything is okay, isn't it doc?" he asks, tilting his head naively.
"Sure," the doctor replies without missing a beat. "Medically, your son is fine."
"Well, I really can't say otherwise." He smiles sarcastically. "Seems like he's getting beaten up an awful lot, you know, playing football." The doubtful inflection isn't missed and John smirks at the young man, most likely from a white-collar family. Just out of eight years of med school and hardly worked a day in his life.
"It's a rough game," he smiles.
"No kidding," the doctor frowns. "I played eight years, high school and college. Never broke a bone like that though. Never bruised so much either."
"Huh." John nods. "You know what, doc? I always do have respect for a man that says what he means." Dr. Haubstadt's face darkens.
"Such extensive bruising is a concern, Mr. Winchester. I'd like to draw some blood to identify any other possible causes, unless you can do that for us?"
"I'm not sure what you're trying to say."
"It means that I saw your hands, Mr. Winchester. It's my job to take care of these patients and I'm not about to let that kid go home with you looking like he does. Unless you busted your knuckles up playing football too?"
It's easy for John Winchester to lie. Typically, it's one of the things he does best. Few people know what he does and it's easy to slide up to a stranger and feed them any amount of bunk about who he is or what he does. He doesn't hit his children.
But tonight, he did. All the evidence is on his hands and this doctor knows it. It doesn't matter that he couldn't control his own body; he should have been able to. He should have been able to stop the spirit. He can't lie now, not with the truth slapping him in the face. He nods jerkily at the waiting doctor.
"I'll be back in the morning." He turns and walks away, praying his trembling legs will get him to the car.