Disclaimer: I still don't own the characters and, sadly, am making no money from them.
A/N: I wrote a short story called "The Scar" in response to a fic challenge. In that, Sam wanted to know the origins of a particular scar on Dean's shoulder. Being Dean, he didn't give Sam the real answer. I was shocked by the number of private messages I got asking for the real story so I decided to write it. This is set after Sam has been at Stanford about a year.
Scars from the Past
John Winchester was not a man to be trifled with and as he stood in the small room, staring at the man sitting in the only chair, he seemed larger than life. Dean watched his father, admiring the way he controlled the situation without effort. The other man almost melted under John's gaze and Dean was sure he was shaking.
Dean had only met this man a few times before. He was one of John's contacts, but not one that was trusted implicitly. John dealt with him only when he had to and it wasn't until Dean was older and well able to take care of himself that his dad allowed the two to be in the same room. John's younger son had never met him.
"Are you going to tell me what you want, Wally?" John asked. "Why did you want me to meet you here?"
The smaller man tried to get comfortable, but the only comfort he'd have would be when John was gone. He didn't like the hunter any more than John liked him, John had a code of ethics that Wally didn't appreciate, but sometimes dealing with him was necessary.
"A friend needs some help."
"You don't have any friends." John growled.
"You wound me." Wally said, his hand over his heart. "Look, seriously, John, someone needs help and I don't know what to do."
John sighed. He hated this man, but couldn't deny the quality of the information he'd been able to supply over the years. Whenever John needed anything from the seediest of places, Wally could deliver. He took a few steps to his right when he saw the other man was looking at his son.
"Tell me what's going on." John grumbled.
John listened as Wally laid out why he needed help. Every time Wally's eyes wandered, he cursed himself for bringing Dean with him. He had no doubt his son could fend off just about kind of attack; he'd been training Dean since he was four years old and now, at 22 he was a formidable fighter. John also knew that if Wally was stupid enough to try anything, he would be dead before he could take two full steps.
"What are you going to do?" Dean asked John later. They were sitting in a bar near Pastor Jim's church, where they were planning to meet him later.
"See what I can do to help. Maybe Jim has some ideas." John said and took a sip of his beer.
Dean sat quietly, contemplating his own drink, occasionally looking at his father from the corner of his eye. He was sure even that small movement was not lost on the older man; John was eerily perceptive at times.
"Dad?" he began quietly.
When he got no prompting from John, he almost decided not to continue, but his curiosity was getting the better of him. Finally, John glanced at him.
"What's the deal with Wally?"
"He's a poor excuse for a man, Son." John said simply.
"Yeah, I get that. But – I don't know, you act different around him."
John's only response was a nod and a grunt. He knew where Dean was going, but didn't want to help him get there. This was not a conversation he ever wanted to have with either of his sons.
John was a physically strong man; he had to be to fight the paranormal creatures he'd dedicated his life to destroying. He was normally able to keep his emotions in check because many of the monsters he encountered could read thoughts and fed off of strong feelings. He couldn't afford to let one of them get the better of him because he couldn't control himself.
But John Winchester had a weakness. Actually, he had two weaknesses.
Dean was four years old when Mary Winchester was ripped from the family. She woke up to the sound of six-month old Sammy coming from the baby monitor in his nursery. Tired and bleary-eyed, she made her way to the room and saw who she thought was her husband standing at the crib, but gestured away, she headed back to the comfort of her bed. That's when she heard the television downstairs and, seeing John asleep in his favorite chair, she raced back to the nursery. Her screams woke the man and he found her, impossibly pinned to the ceiling above Sammy's crib. He was stunned, but spurred into action when the ceiling around her burst into flames. His only thoughts were of getting his boys out of the house. Dean ran from his room, scared and confused as he heard his father yelling; John put the baby in his arms and told him to run.
The father took a long swallow of beer and ordered another. Dean wanted him to slow down, but knew better than to say anything. Besides, they were supposed to meet Jim soon and would be leaving the bar before John could drink much more. Growing up, the story Sam and Dean used to cover their father's long absences was that he was an alcoholic. John drank, he sometimes got drunk, but he was not an alcoholic.
"Do you know anything about curses?" Dean asked, trying to get his father's attention back.
After a pause, John nodded. "Enough to know the people who can really place them are damn dangerous. But someone needs help, so I'll see what I can do."
Dean nodded, more to himself than to John. His father was hard and tough, but always came to the aid of people who needed it. It had been that way for as long as Dean could remember, but he didn't understand until he was older that John's skills were used against things most people didn't know existed.
That's not how it always was, though. John had been just like those people; he didn't know what true evil existed in the world until it visited his house and took away his wife. Desperate for answers, knowing what he had seen was impossible, he sought help from everywhere. Finally, he found Missouri Mosley, a psychic he found in the telephone book. Unlike the charlatans he consulted before her, Missouri was the real thing. As she would explain to Dean and his brother years later, she pulled the curtain aside for him and showed him what really existed. With her guidance, as well as the guidance of those she put him in touch with, he became a remarkable hunter of the supernatural. His reputation was solid and well-earned.
"John!" Jim said warmly as his friend walked into the church office.
"How are you, Jim?" John asked as they hugged.
"I'm doing well. You?"
John nodded and took a seat. Jim turned his attention to Dean. Although they spoke often, it had been almost a year since Jim laid eyes on him. Still young, he no longer looked like a boy. Jim hugged him and they spoke a few minutes about nothing in particular. Finally the three were seated together and Jim looked at his old friend.
"Have you talked to Sam?"
Dean cringed. His younger brother always yearned for a normal life; he was a competent hunter and his research had always been without flaw, but he wanted more for himself than the life his father led. Without a word to his father or brother, Sam applied to colleges and was accepted to the prestigious Stanford University in California. Dean still didn't know the details of how he orchestrated that, but it resulted in the biggest fight he'd ever witnessed between Sam and their father. John ended up giving him an ultimatum – if he left the family, he could not return. John never expected Sam to leave, but he should have. Dean knew as soon as those words came out of his father's mouth that Sam would not back down.
Dean knew the real reason for John's anger was his concern for Sam's safety, but too many harsh words passed between the two and neither one would take them back. Independent and defiant, Sam left the next day and made his way to California alone.
The older brother learned not to bring up the subject of Sam, though John sometimes would. There was no communication between them and Sam, but more than one trip was taken to Palo Alto to watch him from the shadows and make sure the he was all right. Dean was torn; his family was all that really mattered to him and he thought he was doing what was best for Sam. Not having his baby brother in his life was heartbreaking, but Dean thought it was what Sam wanted.
John stared at his friend. "You know the answer to that."
"You're pigheaded, John. You know that?"
"So I've been told."
Jim dropped his eyes a moment later. "So you saw Wally today?"
"Yeah. He's got a friend," John almost choked on the word, "who is in trouble. He's on the receiving end of a curse."
Jim sighed. "That figures. Leave it to Wally to get tangled up in black magic. Do you know this friend?"
"No. But I've heard of the witch."
"Who is it?" Jim asked curiously.
Jim's eyes widened. "You can't be serious?"
Dean had been curious about John's reaction when Wally mentioned Ellen's name. His father became even more tense and Dean thought he'd seen a glint of fear in his eyes. He wanted to ask about her when they were in the bar, but decided to wait until they were with Jim so he could deflect anything Dean wasn't prepared to deal with. He loved his father, trusted him with his life, but also had a healthy dose of trepidation.
"I'm completely serious."
"Who is Ellen?" Dean asked, his eyes moving between the two older men.
John sighed and rubbed his face. Jim looked away.
"Dad?" Dean prompted.
"Ellen is a psychic. She's also skilled in black magic. Very skilled." John began. He looked at his son. "She is definitely not someone to be messed with and Wally's friend has messed with her."
"I know this is an odd question coming from me," Jim interrupted. "but this friend. Is it someone, uh, worth saving?"
John was surprised and couldn't help but smile. "You're right, Pastor, that is an odd question coming from you."
"All I'm saying is, Ellen isn't someone you want to have on your bad side. If you try to help this person, that's exactly where she's going to be. Is it worth the price?"
John hadn't completely committed to Wally and wouldn't until he'd had time to check out his story, but if it was true he would take his chances with Ellen.