No profit being made by this dreamer ...
John Winchester doesn't know what to say to his oldest son.
Dean is shivering violently in the passenger seat of the Impala, surrounded and dwarfed by his father's jacket, but John is sure the shaking is the result of shock and lingering fear instead of the strength sapping cold. Dean doesn't say anything, doesn't lift his head and John knows there's something he should be saying to lesson the ordeal; make the world stop pitching and set everything right again, but he doesn't know what to say because he's dealing with the fear himself.
I could have been too late. The thought winds through his mind like black smoke, choking all the life in it's path and leaving ashes in it's wake. Another couple of minutes and it could have been much worse.
John risks a glance at his boy, hoping Dean won't look at him again with those wide green eyes expecting John to put everything back where it belongs, because he still doesn't know what he should be saying. Dean doesn't look at him, however. Won't let him see the fear in his soul.
John finds his eyes on the road once more, but sees the past instead.
John sighed as he climbed out of the car, glancing around at the old school where his son's currently tormented their teachers, Sam because he was too smart for his own good and Dean because he put his own genius to mischief instead of lessons.
John was here for his elder son this time, at Jim's quiet insistence. The boy had joined, reluctantly at first, the baseball team in order to help his slightly anti-social tendencies, and had proved adept at the sport. It didn't surprise John; after all, Dean had always had strength, agility and amazing hand to eye co-ordination. But the game seemed to ease Dean's distrust of others and he found himself proud at his achievements. John didn't have much time to spare on either of his son's activities, but Jim had somehow persuaded him to at least pick the boy up after his practice session, John having returned early from his latest hunt.
The session itself was over, had been for quite some time, and John had waited in the car, watching as other parents came and went, collecting their own gifted offspring, commenting on their achievements loudly with friends, trying to out-do one another while the boys merely rolled their eyes - and God, could John relate to that - or began playing, shoving or some other tomfoolery.
John amused himself as the time dragged on by conducting imaginary conversations in his head with the other parents.
Yes, Dean is a good player, I know. Well, it's to be expected really. Hand-eye is so important when dealing with poltergeists, don't you think?
Your little darling is learning violin? I taught Dean to bow hunt when he was seven, and he's been blasting rock salt at ghosts for some years now. I'm currently training him to knife fight, got a real talent for violence, you know?
Yes it's a shame he's covered in bruises, but being thrown into a wall will do that to you. Still, he got right back up, stood in front of his brother and killed the son-of-a-bitch that tried to take him down. Would you consider that precocious?
Now, though, John was alone in the car park and Dean had yet to emerge from the building. He knew that Dean usually walked home and that he didn't know his father was waiting, but John was impatient, striding towards the school. He hadn't taught his son's to tarry, damn it, and besides, he was anticipating the smile lighting up his twelve year olds features. Dean had a smile that could light up a room and when he was really happy, he could smile with his eyes, just like his mother. Which was a bittersweet pain, but John wouldn't let Dean know any of that.
He wandered lost for a few minutes, but it didn't take him long to find the locker rooms. Never let it be said that John Winchester didn't have a sense of direction. Especially when it came to his boys. Every nerve was tuned to them, he always knew where they were, made sure he did.
He could hear someone talking, commenting on the session and an upcoming game. John smiled softly. This explained why Dean was late - for who else could the man be talking to? - his coach had asked him for a chat.
"You do as well on Sunday as you did today, Dean, and we'll have the cup in the bag."
John frowned. Why hadn't Dean mentioned this sooner? He had been planning on taking the boys with him to investigate that haunting just across the state line. He had been looking forward to spending the weekend with his sons, away from everyone, just being able to enjoy them to himself, which he knew was selfish, but they were growing up so fast and he was determined to treasure them as long as he could. It didn't strike him as at all odd that he considered a little ghost hunting as a good father/sons experience.
"Sunday?" he heard Dean reply, confusion evident. "I thought we weren't playing until the following week?"
"I know, I thought I'd put you in with the teens, let you handle their pace."
Dean's voice, when it came, was a whisper. "The teens?"
"Sure. You're playing well; you're nearly as tall as some of the younger ones. You'll be moving up there next term, anyway."
"I don't know if I can make Sunday, Coach."
John, glowing with fatherly pride at the compliments, could hear the gentle regret in his boy's soft answer.
"Nonsense. You want to make it, don't you?" the Coach, John thought his name was Peterson, replied heartily. "Let me look at you, stand up now."
There was a small pause, then. "You're already strong, aren't you, Dean?"
John recognised the expression in Dean's tone, he was uncomfortable. The man was likely standing too close in inspection. Dean hated having his personal space invaded.
"Relax, kiddo. Just want to make sure you're up to it. Now, off with that shirt, you took a bit of a battering winning that last round, lets see if you damaged your shoulder in the skid."
"It feels fine, really."
Peterson laughed gently. "Why don't you let me be the judge of that? Or are you trained in physical therapy as well?"
John, somehow reluctant to intrude on Dean's time with his trainer, stayed where he was, out of sight, but able to hear everything. He could hear the rustling of the shirt as Dean took it off.
"Ooff," Peterson sympathised. "That's a hell of a bruise. Hhmm, some swelling, too."
John felt a stirring of guilt. The swelling was likely due to the fact that Dean had dislocated his shoulder a week before and John had been less than gentle setting the joint back. Like Dean himself, it was stubborn to the point of idiocy. Still, the boy had insisted on playing and the session had simply aggravated the almost healed injury.
He heard the shower begin to run.
"In you go, son. It'll help."
Dean laughed. "I'm not getting in there. That water's freezing, I can feel it from here!"
"In, Dean." The tone brooked no arguments, but the man obviously didn't know Dean as well as he thought he did.
"I've nothing to change into, I'm not getting in the shower. Besides, I gotta get home. I'll put an ice pack on it, okay?"
"Dean, I'm not going to ask again," the man pushed, sounding eerily like John, had he but known it. "Take your clothes off, get in the shower. Now."
John was puzzled, but didn't move. Didn't know how. Couldn't quite work out what was happening. He heard his boy move, could see in his mind's eye what he was doing. He was backing away. The next thing out of his mouth was a warning.
"Seriously, dude, back off."
Peterson's voice had been steadily getting firmer, but now he was angry.
"I told you what I want you to do, kid," he said coldly. "Get in there before I throw you in."
John moved then, a surge of power that took him into the room. Dean was beside the open shower, shirtless and bruised, his face white with anger, small fists raised and body balanced like a prize-fighter. Just like John had taught him.
Between him and his father stood the Coach. He was a huge man, heavily muscled and taller than John, who was by no means a small man. He looked like he could snap Dean like a twig.
John had expected Peterson to go for him; Dean had too, for he lowered his fists, so when the man ran at Dean, it had taken both Winchesters by surprise. John leapt forward, closing the distance between the two adults, and realised a second too late it was a feint. The Coach had taken one step, pivoted with an ease a man that big didn't have any right using, and clothes lined the elder Winchester.
John hit the ground, the wind knocked out of him, smacking the back of his head on the tiles. A well aimed kick saw him seeing stars and several more pounded his ribs and back as he tried to move away.
Dean leapt onto his Coach's back, pummelling the guy for all he was worth. With a snarl of frustration, the man reached around, grabbed the boy by his injured shoulder and flung him away. Dean landed on his side, a soft cry escaping him as he hit the hard surface and found himself hauled to his feet by his arms, his biceps protesting at the pressure Peterson's hands were exerting.
He was flung away again, further away from his still father. He stumbled for his footing, teetering and Dean fell, tripping over the raised lip of the edge of the shower complex, going down hard under the cold spray.
He lifted himself to a sitting position, already soaked through, as the Coach joined him, staying mostly out of the water. He reached in and took Dean's face by the chin, forcing him to look at him.
"I'm sorry it has to be this way, Dean," the man told him regretfully. "I was going to look after you, take care of you. Be more than just a friend, make it all better." He sighed, wistfully. "It was going to be beautiful, Dean. We were going to be beautiful."
He dropped his hand sulkily. "But now that's ruined."
Dean shivered, unsure whether the man's words or the cold water coursing over his skin chilled him more.
Peterson saw the movement, reaching out to lay his large meaty hand on his good shoulder. "I don't blame you, Dean, I really don't. You'd have seen it, eventually, seen that what I was saying made sense."
Dean was confused, bewildered by the sudden anger and the almost familiar man he knew as his Coach. His teeth were beginning to chatter and he couldn't stop the wild spasms the cold was inducing.
"Can I come out now?" he asked, sounding younger than he had in years, hoping Peterson wouldn't become angry again.
"Let's see that shoulder first, Dean."
The boy tried to stay as still as he could as Peterson's hands probed the area.
"Still pretty warm, kiddo," he murmured. Dean glanced up to see Peterson looking at him, staring as if trying to imprint him in his memory.
"You're a beautiful child, Dean, has anyone ever told you that?" Peterson reached out, but paused as Dean flinched. "It's okay, it's okay." It was said softly, soothingly. "I've seen a lot of boys come through this school, Dean, but none like you. You're something else. Special."
He reached for Dean again, one hand cupping his face, the other running light fingers down Deans chest to his stomach. Although his dad hadn't gone into details during one of his lectures, most likely prompted by Pastor Jim, Dean knew enough to know that his Coach wasn't allowed to touch him like that. His breath hitched and he pushed the hands away, only to be slapped in the face.
Panicking, Dean continued to fight, Peterson grabbing his wrists easily and holding them in one meaty hand, the other slapping him again in a backhand blow.
"I said stop that! Stop it now, Dean!"
The boy, shivering and frighteningly exhausted, complied. A headache began to pound behind his eyes.
"That's better." Peterson stared at him and Dean closed his eyes and turned away from the look on his Coach's face. Hands on his body again, firmer, more confident. "It's okay, shhh, it's alright."
Dean wasn't sure if the words were meant for him or Peterson. As hard as he tried, he couldn't distance himself from the assault of senses his body processed. The waistband of his tracksuit was pulled away from his pale skin. Rough fingers against the soft skin of his hip. A hand gripping his thigh now, then his chin again.
"Look at me, Dean." Peterson's voice was calm, caring. Soothing. "Come on, look at me." His voice was a little harder, insistent. A shake of the hand holding his chin made the boy do as he was told. Peterson was in the shower with him now, reaching up and turning it off.
Once done, he returned it to Dean's hip, but not before stroking the flat plains of Dean's stomach, marvelling at the softness of the flesh that was firmed by the beginning of the muscles Dean would have in later life. Dean knew with sickening clarity what was happening to him now.
"Stop it." The plea was whispered, so quiet it was almost lost in the cavernous shower room.
"It's alright, Dean, I'll be gentle. But we don't have much time."
Dean shook his head, fighting nausea. "I don't want this."
Peterson frowned, glancing behind him at the prone body of Dean's father. "We don't have time for this, Dean. Just relax, I'm going to make it all better."
Dean pulled away, the mere inches the shower wall enabled him to at least, shaking his aching head again. "No, I want to go home."
He sounded so like Sammy, he knew and the thought of his brother was all it took for the first tear to fall.
Peterson tenderly wiped it away with his thumb. "You will. Soon."
Dean glanced at the body behind his Coach, willing the man to wake up, not even acknowledging the fact he might not get up again. He couldn't believe this was happening. He'd been around this man for months, laughing, joking and being listened to. He should have known he was being set up. Should have seen this coming. And now he was going to be ... abused? Was that the word Dad had used to explain it to him? Now he was going to be abused while his dad lay not six feet from him. Another tear escaped him. His dad would never look at him the same again. Would he tell Sammy? Or Jim, or Bobby or Caleb? Or would it remain their little secret? When he woke up, there was no way of hiding the fact from John Winchester. He would know instantly. Ashamed, more tears fell.
"Hey, shh. Hush, Dean." Feather light kisses on his cheeks, spreading the tears as they were caught on the rough lips. "Don't worry, it'll be a secret. Our secret. It'll be so beautiful."
Dean cried harder. "I don't want to!"
The slap slammed his head into the wall, the shock halting the crying. "Shut up!" Peterson snarled. His anger was back with a sudden ferocity that left Dean reeling. "Just shut up! I don't care what you want anymore. Are you playing me, boy?"
Dean shook his head quickly, wincing at the pain the movement brought. "No, sir," he whispered.
"Sir? Learn that off your daddy? I like that," Peterson grinned.
Dean knew exactly what was expected of him. "Yes, sir."
"You listen to your dad, don't you Dean?"
"Even though he leaves you most days? I hear the talk in the teachers lounge. Brave little Dean Winchester, always watching out for baby brother, father hardly ever a feature, left with a pastor, but so tough! Let me clue you in, kid. You're dad's a waster. Drinks too much, doesn't he? Mean drunk too, I bet."
Despite knowing it would be easier to agree, Dean found the words coming out in defence. "Not my dad. Maybe yours," he added slyly, "but not mine."
The strike was expected and that knowledge enabled Dean to roll with the movement, to lessen the blow.
Peterson was breathing hard now. "You're a tough little bastard, aren't you? Beautiful to look at but like stone to touch."
Dean said nothing. His hands and feet were numb, he was still trembling and his head wanted to explode with the pressure building up inside. Peterson was still speaking.
"You're a carving, Dean. Nothing more. But for daddy, you'll behave, won't you?" Peterson glanced behind him again. "I'll make you an offer. You behave and I'll leave your dad alone. You make me angry and it won't be you I'll hurt. Got it?"
Dean nodded. He saw his father's leg twitch out of the corner of his eye but kept his face devoid of relief.
"Good boy, good Dean."
The hands were back again, stroking and feeling, as if wanting to memorise his body in the hopes of creating a replica later by touch alone. A hand grabbed a fistful of hair, tilting his head back and his mouth was suddenly, violently captured by Petersons. Hard hands gripped him by the upper arms now, just below the shoulder, strong fingers digging cruelly into tender flesh. Dean squirmed, desperate to breathe, determined to break the hold, but Peterson clung on.
Without warning, Dean was thrown across the room, landing face down on the cold tiles. Before he could move, Peterson pressed a knee into the small of his back, a hand once more grabbing a fist full of hair. He lifted Dean's head by that method again and Dean could see his father. He blinked, surprised at the mist covering his vision. He had thought he'd seen John move. He had thought his dad was going to save him. Would he now have to look at his father as this awful thing happened?
"I want to take this slowly, Dean," Peterson gasped. "But we haven't much time and I just can't wait any longer."
Letting his weight settle cruelly onto the knee pressed into Dean's spine, who gasped at the pain, Peterson tugged off the child's wet trainers and socks. Dean felt tears running down his cheeks again, hot against the frozen skin. This was it. There was no way out. Dad wasn't coming to the rescue.
Dean lowered his head, sobbing like he hadn't done for years. Not since he realised, at age five, that mummy wasn't going to miraculously walk through the door she had disappeared through a year before. After months of hardly daring to breathe in case he upset the delicate balance he and his father lived in, Dean had fallen down, breaking his arm and sobbed in his father's arms, knowing his mother would have come back for him now if she was ever going to.
"Please!" Dean begged brokenly. "Don't, I don't want this, I'm sorry, please let me go! Dad! Dad, help me! Don't let him hurt me, daddy!"
The weight lifted and he was flipped over, Peterson smiling widely down at him. The man reached for Dean's waist again, intending to rip off the tracksuit bottoms the boy wore when he vanished from Dean's sight.
The boy lifted himself up in surprise, watched as his father sent his fist furiously into Peterson's face until the Coach fell to his knees, bloody and broken.
Standing above him, lifting him up with one hand in his shirt, John looked like the fury of thunder. "You touch my son again, come anywhere near him, attempt to even think of him -" he paused for breath. "- and I will end you."
His voice was soft, but stronger than tempered steel.
John remembers dropping the sorry excuse for a man at his feet and lifting his eyes to glance at Dean. Had he asked, John would have killed for him. As it was, his boy was staring wide-eyed, tears still streaming, his breathing harsh and ragged.
It was his child's desperate pleas, his cries that had eventually roused him. A fierce protectiveness had washed over John, enabling him to pick himself up and go to his son's aid. Dean had reached out for him and John had shrugged out of his jacket, wrapping his boy securely in it before wrapping him more tightly in his own arms. He had sat on the wet floor and cradled Dean in a way that Dean had never let him before. Not since his mother, at least.
Dean hadn't said a word. Just believed his dad was going to make things better again. John hadn't known what to say and the light had slowly faded from Dean's eyes.
Now, John listens to the breathing that has calmed somewhat, replaced by a child withdrawn into himself so deeply that all John can touch is a shell. His baby boy is hidden in there, somewhere, but John for the first time can't feel his presence.
John Winchester doesn't know what to say to his oldest son.
He knows there's something he should be saying to lesson the ordeal; make the world stop pitching and set everything right again, but he doesn't know what to say because he's still dealing with the fear himself.