The Good Son,by C Cawthorne
Author's note: I don't own Supernatural, Sam, John, or Dean (can I have Dean, pretty please?). I make no profits, I claim no ownership. I do love feedback! Special thanks to Carol and Dinah Mack, whose book on subversive spirits is a great source of inspiration.
When Dean dropped off his brother at the bus station there were few words. Everything that could have been said was said – by Sam when he told his family where he was going, by Dean when he tried to keep them from going for each others throats (look how well he'd managed that task) and then when he followed his younger brother out of the house they'd called home all of Sam's senior year.
In the end it was the realization that Sam would still leave – but never talk to him again – that made Dean let go, suck it up, and offer a ride to Stanford; a ride that was refused. So now he was standing here, hands shoved in his jeans pockets, watching his younger brother board the dusty Greyhound bus with barely a look back. And he watched that shaggy haired profile through the tinted windows until the bus pulled out and drove into the damned sunset.
He stood there for a long time, hands still stuffed in his pockets and looking down the empty road, until the ring of his phone snapped him back to reality. He flipped it open, looked at the display, and put it to his ear. "Yessir?"
"You still at the station?" John asked, voice still sharp with bitterness.
"Yessir." He couldn't tell his father that he was afraid of moving. That if he did, he'd probably jump in the Impala and chase that bus all the way to Stanford.
"You going to hop on that bus with him?"
"You know I'm not leaving, dad," he replied, voice softer – weaker – than it should have been.
There was a pause as John registered his son's hesitation. When he spoke, though, his tone was all business. "Caleb called. I'll be in Corinth, Mississippi. Call me if you need me."
The words shook Dean out of his haze. "Dad, I'm coming with you. Just hold on and I'll–"
"You'll stay here. You're no use to me right now, son. Stay put, get yourself together, and we'll meet up later."
"Don't make me repeat myself."
Dean clenched his teeth against the hurt. "Yessir."
The call ended, just like that. He stared at the phone before slipping it back in his jacket pocket, then back out to the blacktop that stretched out West. John was going to be gone for a few days. He could get to Stanford, keep an eye on Sammy, and return without either his father or brother finding out. He would watch his brother from a distance; from a different car. Wondering what building he was in, and what he was doing. Wondering how to put protections on an entire dorm.
When he got to the parking lot the Impala was waiting for him, more of a home to him than any house he'd lived in since that night. He slipped into its cradling seat, taking a deep breath to inhale its familiar scents – old leather, Cheetos, dashboard polish, gunpowder. Then, with the rumble of a well-maintained engine, he pulled out of the lot and onto the road.
- - - - -
Half an hour later and he was at the house. With Sam gone he had to be good enough – fast enough, smart enough – to play both his own role and his brother's. He'd be what his father needed. He wouldn't be useless.
The problem was, a few hours in that silent house were almost as bad as listening to John and Sam yelling at each other. The hole that his brother had left in the house, in him, was growing bigger by the hour, until it was all Dean could think of. He had no distractions, nothing that would burn off increasing amounts of physical energy. No creature to send into deserved oblivion along with his anger. Nothing dared go bump in the night in the town playing host to the Winchesters.
Which was how he ended up at the local biker bar, shooting pool, drinking beer, and being deafened by AC/DC and Judas Priest.
He was feeling better now, getting back into the groove of being Dean as the last of the solid balls curved around one of many striped balls, ricocheted off a wall, and sank straight into a corner pocket. "See, that's what I'm talking about," he smirked at his opponent, ignoring the storm-cloud glower that was settling over the biker's meaty features.
Straightening, he glanced at the bar. Yep, she was still watching him. Dean flashed her one of his patented charming smiles at her and wasn't that surprised when she smiled right back. Hell, she was enough to distract him from the game with that long black hair, short black skirt, and high black heels. Legs long enough to trap a man, not that she'd ever need to set a trap. Not that he'd run over when beckoned, but he would wager a hundred bucks that about any other man would. Well, maybe not Sam...
"Call the pocket," someone nearby growled at him.
Dean started, and looked up into a much-less-pleasing face. Dude had gotten within three feet of him and he hadn't even noticed. He really wasn't himself, even now, if he let something like that happen. Hate it when Dad's right.
"If you're in that much of a hurry to lose your money, sure," he said nonchalantly, switching his attention back to the table (though keeping Meat-face in his peripheral vision). He tapped his cue on his chosen corner, winked at the girl over his shoulder, and sank the eight ball as his foe called him a string of ill-advised names.
"Game over, pay up." Dean held out a hand, half expecting the man to try to break it. Well, he was ready for that. After the day he'd had, he could use a good bar brawl. Already he was tensing for it, anticipating the first duck and swing.
It almost sucked that the man grudgingly thrust a few twenties at him. "We're playing again," Meat-face informed him.
"Yeh, well, about that–"
"He has a date."
A slender hand slipped onto Dean's shoulder and curves pressed gently into his side. He knew who it was but looked anyway, and a whole different sort of anticipation tingled through whole different parts of his body.
"Sorry, dude. A man's got priorities," he said, ripping his eyes reluctantly off the raven-haired temptress and back to his defeated foe. "Next time."
He slid an arm around the girl and his winnings in his pocket, then walked them off toward the bar. "So, I'm Dean."
She smirked up at him, and he was happy to see a spark in her dark eyes. Girls with spirit tended to be a lot more fun than complacent ones.
"Lilah. Buy me a drink?"
"You didn't even need to ask, Lilah."
After half a beer she pulled him close and kissed him deep, doing things with her tongue that made him week in the knees. By the time their bottles were empty, the bar tender was shooting daggers at them with his eyes and they were heading out the door. In the car she was a dangerous distraction, with her hands going to places that put him at serious risk of crashing. Only the threat of harm to the Impala gave him the strength to push her hand away from his zipper. By the time he got her into the house Dean couldn't think of anything other than getting her clothes off so he could feel more of her smooth flesh against his.
In bed she was all nails and demands, and when their bodies finally joined she was the one on top. Not that he would have had it any other way.
- - - - -
Dean woke in a tangle of sheets, dry-mouthed and sweating, head pounding. Wincing at the light streaming through cracks in the curtains – one of which cruelly stabbed right across his pillow – he slowly pushed himself up off his stomach, and looked around.
He was alone. Lilah wasn't in the room, and he was pretty certain she wasn't in the house either. He didn't hear any movement, certainly not the TV, and given that the sun only came through that window after noon he guessed she'd already left.
Collapsing back onto the bed with a groan, Dean forced himself to roll over on his back. She'd left without him noticing. That was pathetic; he should have woken up.
Yeh, and you shouldn't have a hangover either, but you do, he told himself as he rubbed his forehead. He didn't remember drinking that much – wasn't it just two beers? He didn't remember any more than that, but there must have been more.
"Either that or you're losin' your frickin' tolerance." Even his own murmured words were too loud for sensitive ears. "Pathetic. Dad'd be so proud."
He propped himself up on his elbows but immediately regretted it. A wave of nausea swept through him and he collapsed back onto damp sheets. "Shit."
There wasn't any point in getting up, he decided. Dad wasn't there, or his ass would already be out of bed and his head pounding from a lecture about how drinking too much would get him killed. And Sammy wasn't there to tease or train with or feed. No reason he shouldn't just go back to sleep.
So he did.
- - - - -
He didn't feel much better that night, once he'd finally dragged himself out of the shower. Even the weak water pressure had made his headache worse, the thought of food was sickening, and he felt weak as that time he was almost drowned by that bitch of a ghost in South Dakota.
Someone must have slipped him something, he decided. The biker, maybe. Meat-face was gonna pay, just as soon as Dean could get back to that bar.
Admittedly, it wouldn't be tonight. Tonight he was staying in and watching Aliens with the sound off. The lack of dialog didn't matter, since he knew it all anyway, and he still wasn't up for that much noise. He bunked out on the couch, a big glass of water next to him, trying not to wish that Sammy was here to roll his eyes and call him an idiot. He could see it so clearly it hurt, so he focused on the face-hugger attacking Sigourney Weaver instead.
"Yeh, I could totally smoke that freak."
Half-way through the movie and he was sound asleep. And it wasn't acid-blooded aliens showing up in his dreams. It was Lilah, running her nails over the scratches she'd given him in reality. The pain burned through him, and still he pulled her close. Long legs straddled his waist, teeth nipped at his neck, and soon enough he was lost in pleasure. She writhed above him, her face a perfect picture of lust, and he could have sworn that just for a moment her dark eyes flashed green.
Then he was panting wide-eyed on the couch, alone, a mess. "Oh, man, you have got to be kidding me."
Struggling to get to his feet, he staggered to the bathroom. Planting both hands on the sink, he stared at himself in the mirror. "Like Lilah would have anything to do with you right now," he told his reflection. He was pale, freckles standing out in stark contrast, and the skin under his eyes was dark. Even his lips had lost some color, and his eyes seemed a little dull.
"Flu. Beautiful." He recognized the symptoms now. A quick shower, some orange juice, and more sleep was what he needed. He pulled off his underwear, still leaning on the sink for balance, then glanced once more at the mirror and smirked a little. Four parallel scratches stood out red on his shoulder, where Lilah had dug in her nails.
Well, at least he got to have some fun before getting sick.
- - - - -
Being sick alone sucked, Dean decided on the second day. Sure, if Sam were here, he'd have felt duty-bound to be the biggest pain-in-the-ass patient in the world. He'd have fun complaining, making demands as soon as Sam sat down, and making sure he didn't get to read whatever book he was trying to get through. His brother would snap right back, complain, even throw things at him – and he'd do what Dean needed, because being sick was one of the few "normal" things they ever got to do.
Instead, he was stretched out on a lumpy couch in an empty house, with only an entertaining dream or two about Lilah to give him any break from the torture of daytime television. He couldn't listen to his music; his head still couldn't take it. He was out of orange juice, and no one was around to get him more. Dean even would have welcomed a lecture from his dad by this point – it would fill the hollow feeling that was growing inside him.
Lonely. Isolated. These weren't feelings he was used to experiencing. The way he and Sam were brought up meant that he didn't have any close friends; who could, when John kept them on the move so much, and when he couldn't begin to share what he was really doing on those weekend trip? Poverty and the fact that he was never on a sports team had relegated him to hanging out with the Goths and the slackers when he was in school, and he found quickly that he had little in common with them. He'd never even held a day job for long.
It hadn't mattered, because he had his dad and he had Sam. Now he had neither. All he had was fever, headaches, nausea, and a sapping case of exhaustion.
Yeh, being sick alone sucked.
- - - - -
By the fourth day, when John got back, Dean was worse. Too tired to go out, he'd been living off Tylenol and the remnants of food in the kitchen (what remnants he could stomach, anyway). By now there was little left, but it didn't matter – he couldn't stomach anything that wasn't liquid. His dad found him camped out on the couch, watching a movie of dubious quality, alternately pulling on and throwing off a blanket as chills and fever swept through him.
"What happened?" John asked, standing over his son with arms crossed and an uncertain look on his unshaved face.
"Flu, pretty sure," Dean croaked. "Be over it soon."
His dad's brow furrowed. "Need anything?"
"Nah, I'm good." That was obviously a lie, but he'd always lied to his dad about how he was feeling. It was a game they played – John was never sure if he could really believe his son.
"Okay. Call if you do," was all John said before he went to the kitchen to clean his guns. Half an hour later, noises from the living room summoned him back, sawed-off shotgun in one hand.
But Dean wasn't being attacked, nor was he in pain. Once he saw his sleeping son, John recognized exactly what kind of moans he was hearing. That wasn't the sort of dream a man with the flu should be having. Before he took another step forward, his son shuddered, then drew the blanket close around him. His eyes never opened, but he was – impossibly – paler.
John's hand tightened around the shotgun, but it was a useless piece of metal and wood if his suspicions proved correct. Scowling, he strode into Dean's room. The bed was a mess and his son's clothes were strewn on the floor – not exactly an unusual occurrence – but immediately his hunter's eyes found the anomaly. Black lace wasn't exactly his son's style.
The scowl turned into a snarl. He plowed back to his bedroom, yanking open a bureau drawer and rifling through it until he found what he was looking for. His next destination was the kitchen, to grab his journal and the keys to the truck, before making his last stop.
"Dean." John leaned down and shook his son's shoulder. It wasn't the most gentle gesture, but if he'd just been shaking a lazy son awake he would have been rougher.
It took Dean a lot longer to wake up than he should have, and if he'd been himself he would have caught the look of worry that suffused John's face before the older man managed to smooth it away. "Yeh?"
"I've got to run an errand. You going to be okay until I get back? Want me to bring you anything?"
Dean blinked and tried to think. "S'more OJ. How long... gone?"
"A few hours," John replied, shoving another spike of worry down deep inside. He only had once chance at this, and Dean couldn't know the plan.
"I'll... survive." He managed a weak version of his trademark grin. "Maybe throw a party while you're gone."
John managed not to smile at his son's spirit. "You do that and it'll be extra chores for a week."
"Yessir." Dean was already closing his eyes. John reached down, unable to resist ruffling already messy hair, then turned and left. She had to think he wasn't here.
- - - - -
This time Dean was awake when Lilah came, though at first he thought he was dreaming, just like all those other times. She slid in through the front door in that same tight green shirt and short black skirt, that same hungry smile on her lips. He didn't realize she was real until she turned off the television and kicked off her shoes as she walked over to him.
"Lilah. What're you doing here?" he asked, trying to sit up but managing only to prop himself up on an elbow. She promptly pushed him back down.
"You've been fun, Dean," she murmured, running her nails over his chest and provoking a gasp. "You lasted so long. Usually three times and that's it. But you... you've got stamina."
Dean blinked, exhaustion clouding his thoughts. He knew none of this was right, but he couldn't put the pieces together to figure out why. What he did know was that he was helpless – and that was never a feeling he welcomed. Especially not now. "What're you talkin' 'bout?" The words slurred embarrassingly.
"Don't sell yourself short," she said with a smile, teeth glinting too-white in the dim light. "A night with me and one dream, maybe two, and most men are drained. No spark left at all. It's hardly any fun when I come back for the last meal."
"Meal?" Shit. "Get off me, bitch."
She laughed at his snarl. "Like a puppy, all growl, no bite. I'll miss you, Dean." Nails raked down his chest toward his boxers as she knocked away his feeble attempt to push her away.
The command boomed through the small room as John strode out of the kitchen, a silver amulet swinging from a chain in his hand. Dean started, but it was Lilah who jumped up, a hiss on her lips as her nails lengthened into talons.
John advanced. "In the name of Senoy, Sansenoy, Semangeloff, out!"
Lilah screamed as she flew backward, like she'd been shoved by a giant hand. The door crashed open on impact, a chunk of it flying into the weed-infested yard. Taloned hands caught the door frame and dug in, gouging plaster and wood. Her eyes flashed an angry green as John strode toward her, still holding the amulet in front of him.
"How? How do you know this?" she snarled, wood creaking and cracking under her hands as she struggled. "How?"
John smirked. "You messed with the wrong man. Touch my son again and I'll find a way to finish the job. Out!"
He pressed the amulet against a taloned hand and she screamed again as flesh burned. Suddenly she let go and tumbled back, out onto the yard. There she glared at John with green eyes that glowed like the depths of hell – but her hands were human hands, and her teeth, when she spoke, were normal teeth.
"I relinquish my claim," she snarled.
"Good. Get the hell out." He slammed the door.
"Dad?" Dean's voice was weak and uncertain, but he didn't have the energy to do anything about it. John spun and all but ran the few feet to the couch. Dropping to his knees, he draped the amulet around his son's neck, next to the amulet he was already wearing.
"Keep that on you for the next month. Do not take it off – I want to make sure the ward keeps."
"Dad, what... was that a..." He faltered; what he was about to ask seemed absurd even to his ears.
"A succubus, yes. What the hell were you thinking, Dean? Letting her in here? Why didn't you call me when you knew something was wrong? Why'd you lie?"
He tried not to flinch, but his dad saw it anyway and frowned all the fiercer. "I thought I trained you better than this. Dammit, Dean! She could have killed you."
"I didn't know," he admitted, forcing himself to meet John's condemning gaze. "Just thought I was... sick."
John scowled and got to his feet. Now that the danger was gone, he was all but shaking with adrenaline and rage. "You let your guard down. You wanted a distraction and let your guard down. That won't happen again."
Dean lowered his eyes, too tired to do anything other than submit. Why argue, anyway? His dad was right, and he knew it. "No sir, it won't."
"Okay then. Stay there; I'll get your sheets changed and then you're going to sleep. And the next time you see Pastor Jim, thank him for telling me what to do when a succubus comes calling."
- - - - -
It took a week for Dean to feel like himself again. A week of muted glares and lectures from his father about creatures he hadn't faced yet. A week of forced bed rest, during which he decided one thing and one thing only.
Dad's perfect little soldier – that's what Sam had called him, out on the lawn. And now that Sam was gone, Dean couldn't afford to be anything else. Before it had been a choice. Now it was do or die, because his younger brother wasn't there anymore to watch his back. It was just him and dad, forevermore.