Thought I heard laughter as I walked past the bank, so I think it's safe to assume I'm making no money from this.
I'd like to thank everyone who was kind enough to leave a review on the first chapter.
John Winchester doesn't know what to say to his son.
Winchester men don't deal with grief by talking in the open; allowing it to shine in the sun for as long as it needs where it can taint no memory is simply not an option. No, grief is dealt with in the dark alone; or at least with a bottle of something either clear or amber. It's dealt with in blood, revenge and guns, salt and flame.
At least, that's how John has always dealt with it. His twelve year old has yet to feel the burn of alcohol; has yet to cleanse his soul with the fire of whisky and the ice of tequila. Entering the bedroom with his son, however, John feels the familiar pull, the haunting oblivion that beckons like his wife's body had done once. He needs a drink, badly, but Jim has impressed upon him that Dean needs him more.
The hunter feels old today.
His hand shakes as he drags it down his whiskery face; his body is slowing coming down from the adrenaline rush and it leaves him in weak and in pain. His head pounds, his eyes are burning and his muscles scream their protests as he urges himself faster, trying to position himself in front of Dean.
Looking into the eyes of his first born, watching as the soul beats, trapped within the glassy confines of the features that most reminds him of Mary, John finds a pain that outshines anything he has felt so far on this most frightening of days.
It's the first time since the school that he has been able to face his boy, the first time that his son has allowed their gazes to connect.
Dean is still huddled in John's coat, still trembling and still terrifying. John reaches out to help him out of it, but Dean's voice, soft and angry, stops him.
"Why didn't you kill him?"
The words paralyse John; he can do more than stare at this child he has raised through war and pain and death.
"Why, dad? What stopped you?"
Dean is slightly louder now and once more John finds himself at a loss.
"You saw what he was going to do!"
"Dean," John breathes, like it's always been the name on his lips, "I can't do that." He's lying, of course. There was a moment when he would have if asked, would have dropped the body at Dean's feet and declared that nobody, absolutely nobody was going to hurt him again. John swallows and forces himself to continue. "He's human, Dean."
"He's a monster!"
The anger in his Dean's voice is raw and sharp; it cuts his father so swiftly that at first he doesn't feel the pain until the bleeding starts.
"He wasn't going to stop on his own, dad, you saw him!"
The last three words are a scream, a nightmare given life in the light of day and it appears to drain the boy of the last of his strength. He sinks slowly to his knees, sodden jeans soaking water into the thin carpet.
John finds himself mirroring his boy's posture, head bowed in front of him, hands reaching for him but unsure whether touch would be welcomed.
"I couldn't, I'd have been arrested."
"Nobody would have known."
John closes his eyes against the soft words. "They'd have found out. I'd have been arrested, or Jim might have, if we'd skipped town."
"I want him dead."
Dean has never sounded so serious in all his life. His dad knows he's had a bad scare, he knows that bravado has always been Dean's defence against a world that's never been able to care enough to heal the many hurts it's inflicted on his too young soul, yet the sentence is too cold for Dean.
The eldest Winchester brother has always run hot, as yet unable to master the indifference that the teenagers at his school have introduced him to and for him to wish death on a human frightens John.
"Baby, think what you're saying," he murmurs, falling back on a name he's only really used on Sammy for the last eight years.
"He's a monster," Dean repeats, just as vehemently. "He was hurting me, dad." His voice breaks over the sentence, the shiver becomes more pronounced.
John nods to give himself time to clear the lump in his throat. "I know, son."
"So kill him. You kill monsters, kill him." The words are soft, so soft they hardly seem real. John answers anyway.
"There are some that I can't touch."
"I don't believe you," Dean hisses, his heat is back; scorching his father's heart, the flames licking at the open wounds that may never heal. "You kill all the other monsters."
John winces. How do you explain that there are laws that protect the monster your son wants - needs - you to send to hell.
Dean's attack is relentless, disregarding the flicker of emotion that has appeared on the usually granite face. "You help everybody else, help me!"
Dean's earlier words haunt John then, hitting him so hard he can't breathe, echoing in the cavernous silence of his numb mind.
"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!"
"I'm not going to let him hurt you," John whispers, but Dean doesn't seem to hear.
"Why won't you help me?"
"I'm trying, Dean, I am," John replies, knowing how pathetic he sounds, how inadequate his words are.
"Why aren't I important enough?" Dean screams, small face begging for answers.
"You and Sammy are the most important things in my life. You're the only things in my life!" John realises he's shouting himself and it's with a supreme effort that he lowers his voice again. "I can go to the police, but you'll have to be brave and tell them what happened -"
"No!" Dean's breathing hitches, and he forces himself to calm down. "No," he repeats, softer this time. "I can't."
"I can't do anything else. But I can promise you, you'll never see him again, kiddo, never. He comes into my line of vision, he knows what'll happen."
It's not much, it's disgustingly little, but it's all John can offer.
He watches as the shards of soul that lie shattered within the moss green eyes are hidden as Dean lowers his eyelids, long lashes sweeping onto pale cheeks. Tears cling to the dark lashes as he opens his eyes again.
"I don't think I'm the first and he's going to keep doing it."
John interprets the sentence correctly as 'I'm scared he'll come after Sammy. I'm scared he isn't finished with me.'
"He's not going to hurt you, Dean. You have my word. You're safe; I'm going to keep you safe." John reaches out to finally bridge the chasm that has kept Dean from him, pulls the frightened boy back in his arms the way he did at the school and although Dean resists at first, he eventually melts into the embrace.
Dean's fingers grip onto his father's shirt as his legs crumble, unable to continue to keep him supported in the awkward kneeling position and John sways under the sudden extra weight, but doesn't fall, doesn't let Dean fall. Won't let him fall, promises to keep him from going under, all whispered into his son's hair, but he can feel Dean nod beneath his chin and the vice gripping his heart loosens ever so slightly.
John eventually convinces Dean to run a bath, to get out of his wet clothes and warm up. As the boy bathes, John heads towards the kitchen, where he knows Pastor Jim has made a pot of coffee and is waiting patiently for him.
Sammy is there too, keeping himself quiet and out of the way and he goes unnoticed by the two adults. John has already been caught by Jim's sharp, worried eyes.
"John?" the older man queries hesitantly. "What happened?"
Sammy's dad sighs heavily. "I don't know what to say to him, Jim, I can't do it. I just can't fix this."
"Fix what?" the Pastor asks in much the same tone of voice in which John has spoken to Dean in, earlier. "Fix what, John?" he repeats.
"That damn bastards been molesting kids," John hisses, which Sammy recognises as his father's angry voice. The one he uses when he's so angry that shouting just isn't going to cut it. Pastor Jim calls it John's scared voice, but Sammy is sceptical of that opinion. His dad isn't ever scared.
Sammy edges slowly closer to the adults. He feels invisible as his father spits words Sammy's sure he's not supposed to hear.
Jim, for once, ignores the bad language and struggles for words of his own. "Did he – is Dean … John?"
His father shakes his head vehemently. "No ... no. He's … that bastard almost, but – God, Jim! My son was almost – he had his hands all over him and was going to…"
Sammy isn't sure what was going to happen, but is very glad it hadn't, if the look on his dad's face is anything to judge by.
"You stopped it?" Jim's voice is as pale as his face as the horror of the situation sinks in. "John?"
Sammy watches as a shaky sigh escapes his father's lips, as his shoulders slump and his body collapses in upon himself as if his muscles will no longer support him. "Yeah," he breathes. "I stopped it. Him."
"You saved Dean," Jim informs him, and Sammy can't help but wonder why the Pastor, who's always been so smart, is standing in the kitchen, his hand on John's shoulder, saying things that should be obvious. But Sammy, who's always been smart in his own way, stays quiet and listens hard.
"I could have been too late."
Sammy blinks. The man who has just spoken isn't his father.
The man who uttered those despairing words is an old man. A broken man. Sammy's dad is neither of those men, yet they both entered the house and are staring at Jim with terror in their eyes.
Jim holds the younger man's gaze for a moment and repeats his earlier observation. "You saved Dean."
"He knocked me out, had Dean under him, was about to – Jesus Jim!" The last two words thunder around the small, homely room and Sammy cringes, expecting the mugs to fall off the counter as the shout bounces off the walls.
"You saved Dean." Pastor Jim repeats the sentence in the same calm, placid tone and John finally bows his head and breathes out through his nose, a calming technique that he taught Dean several years ago when he came home with a black eye and proudly displaying a note claiming he had broken another's boy's nose. John had been impressed that his nine year old had laid out a fourteen year old bully, yet had had to temper his pride in the face of the principles displeasure.
"Yeah," he sighed, eventually.
"He needs you still, John."
Sammy's father nods, stands straight and sees his Dean at the door to the kitchen, pausing briefly in the hallway before stepping barefooted into the room. Dean clears the doorframe, towel around his waist and John blinks hard at the sight of the marks on his child's body.
Scattered bruises mar the smooth flesh of his wrists, his shoulders, when he leaves the sanctity of the hallway and walks towards his father, display twin bruises, purpling storm clouds gathering on his clear summer sky skin, the marks repeated verbatim upon his upper arms.
Worse, though, is the terrible mark on his son's lower back which is shown as Dean half turns away from the stares. Someone has held him down viciously, if the haemorrhaging beneath the fragile skin is to be believed. Remembering the way Peterson had held Dean down, John's heart twists violently within his chest.
John has a hard time trying to fill the sudden silence that strangles the room; he licks his lips and clears his throat, softly suggests that maybe Dean should head on up and get tucked into bed. When Dean's body tenses, the thrumming in his straining muscles vibrating through the thick, choking quiet, John hastily explains it'll warm him up.
Dean doesn't move; eyes fixed on the floor tiles, breathing coming out in rough, harsh inhalations.
"Go on, son."
John's voice is soft and encouraging and Sammy can't stop himself from wanting Dean to move. Their dad has always said Dean was like a storm in a house, too wild to be contained within one room and that's never made much sense before today. Now it really does feel as if a storm has taken up residence in the kitchen and surrounded his brother. Sam's skin even tingles.
He finds it's very hard to breathe when everyone else seems to have taken all the air from the room, holding it deep in their lungs and not even knowing they're doing it.
Dean breathes out what might have been interpreted as a sob coming from anyone else and finally moves. The tension ebbs as John moves to wrap a strong arm around the slight shoulders, mindful of the swelling from an injury that seems months old now and gently steers Dean back towards the bedroom.
Winchester men don't deal with grief by talking in the open, allowing it to shine in the sun for as long as it needs. No, grief is dealt with in the dark alone; or at least with a bottle of something either clear or amber. It's dealt with in blood, revenge and guns, salt and flame.
Fear is dealt with in much the same way.
Except maybe, John thinks as Dean makes to close the door to his room and hide the pain away, maybe this once it should be dealt with in another manner.