Never an Absolution
Happy Belated Birthday to Cindy123. Enjoy, my darling.
A month in Australia visiting family, followed by a stinking cold rather delayed this little project, so I do apologise.
Synopsis: Sam cops the blame when a vital piece of equipment is damaged on a hunt. But things become convoluted when their next hunt results in an injured big brother, and John's anger seems to be spiralling out of control...
Limp/Heartbroken Sam, aged 14, Hurt/Angry/Protective Dean, aged 18.
Angry/Guilty John. Awesome/Hero Bobby.
Warning: Physical violence towards a teenager. Suicide attempt.
Many thanks go out to Phx and Sendintheclowns for the beta, and many hugs for all their patience. This one nearly drove me insane!
"Don't you dare turn your back on me, boy!" John roared the moment they stepped into the kitchen. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"
The silent car ride home from the hospital had been strained to say the least, but the senior Winchester was keen to vent his anger at the first opportunity. Sam's attempt to slip into his bedroom, before the fire fight began again, had failed. The blow out in Dean's ICU room had been bad enough to get them both kicked out, but this was clearly going to be far worse.
Sam repressed a sigh, knowing full well it would only piss his father off all the more. The guy'd been drinking again, which meant nothing Sam did or said would please him. John Winchester and Jim Beam made for a volatile combination, and when they started socialising it was often best to just disappear for a while. But that wasn't an option this time. For a start, John was blocking his escape, and to finish, there was a set to his body language that had Sam a little scared.
He stayed perfectly still, his own body language non-threatening but certainly not submissive. The effort of holding back the tears was costing him, despite being so well practiced. Right now, Sam wanted to cry his eyes out, but that wouldn't win him any brownie points with his father.
All John wanted to do, right then, was play the blame game, and no amount of reasoning was going to work.
Sam was screwed either way, but he tried.
"I told you, Dad," Sam spoke calmly and clearly, watching carefully for sudden movement. "I didn't damage your shotgun. I promise, ok? Maybe it got damaged in the trunk…"
Sometimes dealing with the Winchester patriarch was like trying to handle a bad tempered rattler, and when Sam found himself slammed up against the kitchen wall he knew he'd lost the initiative, and been bitten.
"Damaged in the trunk my ass! Dean secures everything after a hunt! I trust him to handle weapons with care and respect!" John growled, face red, eyes blazing. "Unlike you! You were the last one to touch the damn thing! When you gonna learn to take responsibility, huh? Instead of blaming everyone else for your mistakes!"
Sam was getting tired of this. He knew for a fact he wasn't the one responsible for the state of his dad's shotgun, because he'd seen John drop the damn thing in the mud after nearly getting his arm torn off by a wendigo a few weeks back. It hadn't worked properly since.
Despite copious cleaning, readjusting and oiling, every so often the shotgun failed, something John claimed hadn't been a problem until the last hunt. But all John remembered seeing was his youngest son picking up the mud encrusted shotgun, wiping it off on his jeans and later 'throwing' it in the Impala's trunk.
Yep. 'Throwing'. His wording, not Sam's.
And this was part of the problem. John barely remembered that hunt, which wasn't surprising given the hefty whack to the head he'd received by a frightened Sam.
As Dean had so eloquently put it, that piece of news, delivered once John was no longer seeing double, had gone down like a lead fart. But it really hadn't been Sam's fault.
At fourteen years of age, Sam should have been worrying about school, girls, pimples, raging hormones and the accompanying boners that sprang forth at the most inopportune moments.
He should not, however, have had to worry about being sent out into the forest as bait to a strange and lethal mythological creature. He should not have had to worry about either a) being disembowelled on the spot, or b) being dragged back to its cave to face a possibly much slower but equally gruesome death. He should not have had to worry about being eaten alive, but with the strange and lethal mythological creature crashing after him in the undergrowth it was kind of hard not to.
It wasn't supposed to have followed him that far; his father and brother were meant to have wasted the bastard by that point, but clearly it had slipped on by them. So Sam quickly assessed his predicament with all the emotional maturity and intelligence of a man twice his age, and legged it.
When Sam's escape attempt came to an abrupt and disturbing halt in the form of a sheer drop over a cliff, he reverted to plan B.
And it might have worked.
Ok, if his pursuer had actually been the wendigo, then yes the hastily swung tree branch might well have knocked it off the cliff.
Fortunately, depending on how Sam chose to look at it given all the yelling and shouting that followed on later, it didn't. Because the wendigo, had turned out to be his father. John had ducked just enough at the last moment to avoid being swept off the cliff, but he still took a nasty blow to the side of his head, and to say that he was a little less than amused by it was a laughable understatement.
The whole incident had grown into a huge dark storm cloud hanging over the tiny family, and Sam had the nasty impression that any time soon the weather would break, the shit would hit the fan, and the resultant precipitation would splatter whosoever was unfortunate enough to get in its path.
And he was one hundred percent correct.
Several weeks and two hunts later, Dean was lying in a hospital bed, his insides near enough clawed out by a black dog. The damn thing was eventually disposed of, but guess who John blamed for his oldest son getting hurt in the first place?
The plain fact was there hadn't been time to take the shotgun to a professional gunsmith, and there was no way of replacing it on short notice.
And the shotgun was the most powerful weapon in the Winchester arsenal at that time. High calibre, consecrated iron rounds were required for eliminating black dogs, and the shotgun was the best delivery tool for the task. John's patch job only worked for so long before the weapon jammed again, and at the most crucial and inconvenient time possible, leaving Dean quite literally gutted.
Sam knew he wouldn't be living it down anytime soon, and the truth was he already blamed himself for Dean's injuries, but none of it prepared him for the sheer blast of wrath issued forth by his father.
It was supposed to hurt, that much Sam understood, and he fully agreed he deserved John's anger. He should have been there when Dean took off after the damn thing as it plunged back into the forest, but his brother was taller and faster, leaping over bushes and streams like a mountain goat in hot pursuit. Sam couldn't hope to keep up, but he tried. God knew, he'd tried so damn hard. But when he stumbled onto Dean in the clearing, his brother lying on the cold, damp ground, shivering, eyes rolling wildly in his head, blood pouring... no, pumping from his wounds...
The black dog launching out of the undergrowth had Sam turning and firing his .45, injuring the evil mutt though not killing it outright, but it was enough for John to find his boys and finish the job with a consecrated iron machete.
All's well that doesn't end well, huh?
Because Sam hadn't seen his brother since he disappeared through the ER swinging doors three days ago, though not for want of trying. His father had kept him away, claiming Sam had done enough damage.
"I don't know why the hell I even bother training you, boy!" John growled and shook his youngest son hard, the kid's head bouncing off the wall. "You don't pay attention, you never listen, and I'm fed up with all your questions. You're incapable of obeying orders! I fucking warned you..." he breathed heavily, hot breath ghosting over Sam's face. "I told you, someday you're gonna get one of us killed!"
Sam tried not to squirm in his father's grip and smothered another wince at the pain in his back.
"Shut up, Sam!" John's strong hand forced his jaw shut. "Just shut the hell up!"
Sam's eyes widened. His father was furious, bordering on madness, and it was really starting to scare him. Pawing at John's arms, trying to struggle free only made things worse; in the next second Sam was flying through the air and crashing into the pine dresser on the other side of the room. He cried out in pain when at least of two of his ribs shattered on impact, and the side of his head bust open, spraying blood in every direction.
Through the haze of pain and turmoil, Sam blearily gazed up at his dad, head swimming and his gut churning. John had never been this violent before. Sam had never seen him this angry before. The senior Winchester strode across the kitchen floor towards him, and for a moment there Sam felt a shiver of genuine fear cascade down his spine. He withdrew as best he could, his bruised back pressed hard against the pine dresser.
John dropped into a crouch, a cold sneer stretched across his face.
"You worthless little shit," he whispered, softly. "To think Mary, your mother, died above your crib..." he shook his head in disgust, and then said the worst thing a father could ever possibly say to his child. "I shoulda just left you there to burn along with her."
Sam gasped in pain, mortified when the tears methodically conquered his defences, and poured down his cheeks. "Dad... no... you don't mean that..."
"You think so?" John studied him, like an insect under a magnifying glass, and Sam suddenly felt as worthless as his father had declared only moments ago. "Let's see now. I had to leave my eldest boy, my only true son..." he smiled at Sam's small flinch "...in the hospital just to drive you back here. He could wake up anytime."
Sam could feel his very soul shrivel up under that white hot glare.
"You hearin'me, kid?" John hissed, suddenly. "He could wake up all alone, with a hole in his gut, thinking his family's dead!" Reaching out, he grabbed Sam by his shirt front and hauled him up until he was virtually nose to nose. "Tell me now how I don't mean it!"
Sam slumped against the dresser, and didn't so much as twitch when the fist collided with his right temple, knocking him out of the world and into the dark pit below.
He might not have seen his father's brown eyes roll to pitch black, but he still caught the parting shot.
"Why don't you do us all a favour, and just die..."
Bobby paced the hallway outside Dean's room and glanced at his watch way too often. John's call had really shaken him, and he'd hit the road a few minutes later. His status as 'Uncle Bobby' had allowed him five minutes alone with the injured youngster, before being asked to leave for the next round of tests and checks. Dean was still heavily sedated, and it would be some hours before he showed any sign of joining the land of the living.
John had driven his youngest son back to their apartment and it was a safe bet he was only just getting stuck into the poor kid. Which explained why he wasn't at the hospital to greet Bobby.
Bobby shook his head. It wasn't just Dean he was afraid for now. He'd heard the anger in John's voice, listened to him blaming his youngest kid for Dean's injuries. No amount of reasoning would persuade the guy that things just happen.
Bobby tried, but John had an answer for everything.
Perhaps Dean shouldn't have run off like that. If he'd waited for his little brother...
His little brother should have kept up with him!
Sam's not tall enough to keep up...
Excuses, excuses. If he'd paid attention and acted fast enough, Dean would've had back up. And besides, the little bastard damaged the shotgun...
Scratching the back of his neck, Bobby realised he actually felt nervous at what he was about to do. It was the only course of action, because he'd tried everything else. Sure, Sam and John had been at loggerheads over the last few years, but the level of menace... no, pure hatred in John's voice was just wrong. No way on God's green Earth was this the true John Winchester. Either it was a shape shifter, or something far more sinister.
Bobby's eyes rose slowly to the ceiling outside Dean's room, examining his handiwork.
I'm gonna go with sinister.
A shifter was a bitch to deal with. They were tough, physically strong, and hard to kill.
But not impossible.
He'd managed to deflect many awkward questions from nurses and doctors alike, claiming that the Winchester's were an unorthodox family of wiccans, who believed in painting ancient protection symbols over the doorways and windows of the patient's bedroom. Given how other religions got away with special dispensation in the wake of society's fear of accusations of religious and racial prejudice, no one pushed to have it removed. No doctor, no matter how high up the chain of command, was going to risk the negative press.
The headline 'Medic denies religious rites for dying wiccan patient' wouldn't look too good for a hospital that boasted a mosque, a synagogue and a catholic chapel.
Bobby snorted softly. Might as well ban Christmas, Thanksgiving, and gut the Easter bunny while he's at it!
So The Eye of Solomon was allowed to stay, provided Bobby paid for it to be cleaned off on Dean's release.
Like he'd be hanging around that long...
If he was dealing with a shifter, 'John' would walk right under the devil's trap without a flinch... and right into Bobby's silver blade. But if Bobby's intuition was correct, the exorcism he'd memorised years ago would sure come in handy.
Sam coughed painfully and opened his eyes. The pounding in his skull was exacerbated by the kitchen strip light; it seemed to burn into his retinas like a laser, scorching every nerve ending in its path.
"Nuuuhhhggguuuhhh..." Sam winced and moaned, rolling slowly onto his side, trying to shield himself from the new enemy. He honestly didn't remember the kitchen being this bright. Jagged, broken ribs inside Sam's chest slipped and ground together with the movement, and he smothered an outright scream.
He lay, panting, on the floor for a few minutes, eyes scrunched shut again, waiting it out, willing away the pain. It was an exercise in futility, because every movement, large or small, carried the same result and Sam had to resign himself to living with it. Otherwise it meant a night spent lying on the kitchen floor until his father or brother found him...
Sam sat up with a jolt, and this time he didn't bother holding back his scream of pain. White bolts of agony knifed through his head, his back, his chest... not one single part of him seemed to escape the torture. The room spun lightly and the walls morphed into swollen, black holes that threaten to swallow Sam.
Images of his dad, angry, furious, sneering, shouting... gradually came sauntering back down memory lane, and it wasn't pretty. Dean, convulsing in a pool of blood, a large gap where his intestines used to be. Dad, his face up close and personal, yelling in fury, and throwing Sam across the room.
Sam gulped and shivered in distress, gut churning like a ship in a storm, and slowly, oh so carefully, clambered to his feet. Wrapping an arm round his chest to support the damaged ribs, Sam staggered forwards a few feet until he was leaning over the kitchen sink. Sensing an outlet, his stomach finally rebelled leaving Sam gagging and retching helplessly. It hurt so damn much, but what hurt even more was the knowledge of who did this to him. A tiny ray of rational thought tried to fight a path through the foray it wasn't... couldn't have been him. Dad would never hurt you like that... but was quickly swallowed up in the blackness of despair and depression that came from a broken heart and nasty head wound.
...worthless little shit...
...shoulda just left you there to burn...
Sam clamped a hand over his mouth but fresh vomit spilled over, dripping down his tee-shirt. A paper towel roll on the windowsill came in handy for a quick cleanup, and Sam rinsed his mouth out with a cupful of water.
Breathing a little fast, shaking just a little too much, the youngster turned and limped out of the kitchen, heading for the bathroom. Shock awaited him when he gazed into the mirror over the bathroom sink. The entire left side of his face was covered in blood, mostly dried but fresh was still leaking from a deep gash over the eyebrow. His bottom lip was also full, swollen and bleeding, and his nose looked suspiciously disjointed.
Sam stared at his reflection in horror. And the final memory, fuzzy, out of focus, but there nonetheless, came back to finish him off.
Why don't you do us all a favour, and just die...
Sam whimpered loudly, almost bending double. The blow was emotional, but the pain it caused was very physical. Sam slid down to the floor, curled up and began sobbing his heart out.
Now that was fun! How 'bout we go see your other kid, huh?
You fucking bastard! Don't you dare hurt 'im!
Aw c'mon Johnny boy, let's not fall out. We could be real good friends ya know...
Fuck you! If anything happens to Sam...
S'already happened, John. He'll finish himself off soon enough, and you won't have to put up with his incessant whining. And boy! Does that kid whine like a dog!
John fumed, helpless in his own meat suite. He wasn't quite sure when he'd picked up his own personal demonic hitchhiker, but he vaguely remembered arriving at the hospital with a badly injured Dean, and a panicking Sammy. After that, it was mostly a dark blur... until the demon woke him up, and put on a show. He'd heard everything, the vile that spewed out of his mouth, blaming and damning his baby boy, the kid whimpering in pain. He'd seen and felt it all, the hurt on Sam's face, the feel of his young body just as he hurled the kid across the room. His knuckles were bruised and sore, his heart heavy like lead. But John couldn't even cry.
Though he wanted to.
Just, please... don't hurt Dean, and let me call Sam, let... let me talk to him...
Uhuh, Johnny boy. Where's the fun in that?
What do want from us?!
The demon chuckled low in John's throat and glanced into the rear view mirror, eyes black as night.
You think you've had it rough so far, huh Johnny? Let me tell ya, by the time I'm through, there won't be nothing left of your little family.
The voice sharing John's mind grew angry and malevolent.
Like you did to mine.
What? What did I do? Talk sense for fuck sake!
That low chuckle again, though this time there was little humour to it.
The black dog you destroyed?
A small pause followed as it dawned on John just what this was about.
You're kidding, right?
Nope. That black dog was my daughter!
John didn't think he could possibly have anything to say in response. But Dean Winchester must have got his snarky attitude from somewhere...
Aw. Lassie was yours? Show me the nearest Hell Pet's R Us store and I'll buy you a new one!
The demon shook John's head and clucked his tongue, attitude deceptively casual, though John could feel the fury drumming through his veins.
Shouldn't have said that Johnny. I'm only just getting started...
Here we go again. So John's possessed, Dean's in hospital, and poor Sam... so lost and alone. This story is finished, and three chapters in length. Big Sammy hugs (you know, the kind where he gives you that sweet dimpled smile, lifts you off your feet and his strong arms just hold you soooo snugly) go out to everyone who leaves a review.
Cheers my darlings.