Summary: John generally made it a point not to get on a first name basis with men who were going to get themselves killed. But Harry had always been special. John/Harry
Warnings: Slash (eventually), English spelling and a pairing that probably shouldn't have ever existed.
The kid was a tiny slip of a thing.
He was bird like; his bones unbelievably fragile beneath John's hands and the hunter momentarily tightened his fingers, listening to the rush of the breath that exploded from bloody lips and the painful creak of collar bones.
The necromancer's alter burnt up around them, bright against the darkness of the sky and the boy tried to rip himself away from John, ready to throw himself into the flames in order to get at the smouldering corpse that was splayed across scorched stone. Fire made crude patterns with its skin and its hair sizzled and crackled; the petrol John had poured on it made quick word of the body and left the sky a rainbow of purple hues and strips of orange.
John thought it might have been pretty if it wasn't for the smell of burning flesh.
"Don't you ever, ever do that again" he snarled and tucked the small body under his arm, barely even noticing the clawed struggle and the desperate whine as he stormed back to the Impala. The kid howled and his good arm swiped at John's face, leaving a stinging slash across his cheekbone. He was pretty sure the backhand he gave in return hurt a hell of lot more but really couldn't care much.
"Put me back, leave me alone!" The youth sobbed and, scratched weakly at the arm holding him.
John grimaced at the wetness that smeared along his limbs; he had shot the boy's arm and it was bleeding sluggishly; blood spider-webbing between demonic markings and dripping like nail vanish from his fingertips.
The kid was too weak and too broken to cause any real commotion but the angry screech he released as they drove out of sight of the burning alter caused hairs along the length of John's spin to stand up right and quiver. He glanced over his shoulder and into unnaturally brilliant eyes, seeing the memories of death and fire reflected back at him and wondered what the hell he had gotten himself into.
The boy flinched at his sharp gaze and drew his legs up clumsily to his chest; skinny, blood stained arms coiled around himself defensively and John wasn't even that surprised when the kid started to cry.
It took John nearly two weeks to get the kid to speak.
He obeyed John well enough, staying when he was told to stay, moving when he was told to move but there was a scary emptiness in him and John realised quickly that the kid wasn't normal. He was wrong and not in a supernatural way, but in an entirely human way.
Something had been broken inside of him; he was all smashed up edges and distorted emotion and the part of him that should having been fighting for life was long gone, leaving only a weary hollowness that shone so brightly through his eyes that John wished he cared enough to cry for him.
Whatever had happened to the boy had destroyed him inside and he seemed determined to destroy himself outside as well. He never slept, never ate and John could feel the panic rising as he watched the kid start to fade. There was no evil witch in those moments, just the broken remains of a child; his skin was a paper thin off white, the only hint of colour on him was the rings of purple pressed deep beneath his eyes. His bones protruded thin and razor sharp and John was sure he could count ever rib without much trouble.
It was after watching the boy, push away his food once again that John finally snapped. He couldn't take the morbid silence from the kid any longer; it felt like he was watching someone die and he had been forced to watch enough people die.
He grabbed at the boy's shoulders, his large palms curling around frail collar bones and pressed into the ridges and dips that seemed to make up his form. Green eyes snapped up to stare at him, bright with apprehensive and full of emotion that was close to hate and closer to fear.
"You will tell me your name now" John said and the emotion in the kids face softened his voice but the steel behind the words was still present and the boy knew it. It caused him to shift against his chair in agitation and stare glumly at his torn up jeans, his hands moved with nervous movement in his lap and John almost didn't expect a reply.
"Harry" the boy whispered and his voice was hoarse and surprisingly deep and John wondered if maybe the boy was older than he had assumed.
"Just Harry?" he pressed and Harry's forehead knotted, his whole body tightening and humming with suppressed energy that seemed to shine momentarily beneath the odd translucency of his flesh. He was hot beneath John's fingers. Like fire.
"Just Harry" the kid repeated and he nodded in acceptance, unwilling to push too much. John had never entirely forgotten the circumstances of their meeting. Harry may have seemed like a weak, broken child but he remembered the blood and the demon magic and the corpse that Harry had been trying to reanimate.
The boy suddenly seemed to lose the tension and confused jumble of feelings that were keeping him upright and he slumped forward, his face hidden behind a tangle of dark curls that shielded him from John's sharp gaze.
"Why are you keeping me here?" he mumbled and he was all but leaning against John's chequered shirt, the heat from his lips scorching.
John scowled and gripped the boy's face, staring into gaunt features and blank eyes. "You tried to bring back the dead, I can't let you go out and do it again"
Harry flinched away from him, hunching inwards and making himself seem if possible even smaller and more pathetic that ever. "I can't do it again" he whispered, "It was a onetime deal, now he's gone forever."
John closed his eyes and drew the boy close to him, pressing Harry's face against his stomach and holding the boy's narrow shoulders as they shook silently. Harry fisted his hands into John's shirt, gripping a little too tight for comfort as the wetness of his tears seeped through to the man's skin.
He didn't know what to say to the boy, he didn't really understand what had happened and his distaste for magic and necromancy stopped him from asking.
Lost in his thoughts he almost didn't hear Harry's whisper beneath his tears.
"And it's your fault"
John pressed his fingers into dark curls and stopped himself from telling Harry he would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Once Harry started to talk, things got easier.
He was still like a well trained dog, obeying without question when John gave him orders but their monotonous interactions seemed to keep his desire for death at bay a little and his fear eased to a wary apprehension.
John told him about hunting in vivid, gore filled detail; at first to scare the boy and hopefully make him never touch witchcraft again and later because he didn't have much else to talk about. Harry probably knew a lot of it already; he had been trying to raise the dead, but he never interrupted and soaked up everything John said about hunting with was an odd light in his eyes that almost looked like purpose. It wasn't quite right but it was enough keep the stories coming.
He also started to sleep and John almost wished he hadn't.
Harry had screaming nightmares, nightmares that had him writhing with pain and clawing at his face until his forehead and fingers were coated in blood. He couldn't wake up and John could only watch him warily that first night, his neck prickling nervously at the odd light that seemed to shimmer and pulse across Harry's skin. It was easy to forget the odd glittering light in the morning but the memory of his cowardice stung.
The next night he didn't look at the boy at he shuffled towards him. Harry's skin felt hot and charged up with electricity as he cautiously enfolded him; the odd shimmer of Harry's flesh was easy to ignore and John closed his eyes and focused on the tiny shudders the boy made against him. At first Harry fought against the barrier of his arms, whispering his fear against John's chest and clawing at him weakly before the nightmares subsided and he laid shivering and sobbing against John, his hands like vices as he clung onto the man.
It was like watching someone nearly drown.
The nightmares continued neither of them spoke of their routine but Harry's eyes, pressed deep into his gaunt face with exhausted, were bright with thanks.
It was another two weeks before John took Harry to Bobby's.
Dean might have been sixteen but John was hesitant to leave him with Sammy any longer than a month. He had to go back and find his sons and he didn't want Harry anywhere near them.
John knew that men who wanted death tended to find it and in the supernatural world that meant they took those around them to the other side too. Protecting his boys would always come first and he didn't care how much the green eyed youth tugged at his heart strings, he would shoot him dead before letting him anywhere near the vicinity of his sons.
Bobby was stood on the porch of his house, his cap pulled low of his frowning brow and his dog sitting patiently in reaching distance, tail thumping against the wooden floorboards. Harry stared at the house silently, his expression completely unreadable.
"Harry, you're going to stay with Bobby for a while" John told the boy, nodding at the man in the distance. "I...." he trailed off unsure of what to say.
Harry glanced at him, unmoving apart from the slant of his green eyes, they blazed in the twilight and John was a little captivated by them for a moment, the kid was kind of stunning really. "Will you come back for me?" Harry asked quietly and John was surprised at the desperate longing in his voice.
"You want me to come back?"
Harry shrugged and seemed to fold in on himself, hiding away from his emotions and John's cold inquisition. "I don't have anybody else"
John let his hand rest on Harry's thin shoulder, wincing inwardly at the sharpness of bones beneath his fingers. "If you want I will"
Harry didn't reply or move in response but John thought he could see the hope for a moment, shinning like sunlight through the fine pale layers of his skin, for a second Harry looked like he was on fire.
Bobby left him a voicemail every few weeks.
Apparently Harry had come on leaps and bounds as John knew he would in Bobby's company. Bobby was like balm to the injured and the weak. He made people feel strong and he was sure Harry responded just like everyone else in the man's company. What he was surprised at however, was the fondness with which Bobby spoke of the boy.
Bobby was tapestry of old scars and scabs and consequently he kept people at arms distance; hesitant to let himself become vulnerable enough to be hurt again, he had seen too many people die and fall and loose themselves to trust easily. That he let Harry into his closed world said a lot about both of them.
John had no doubt Harry would just end up being another scar in Bobby's collection and almost felt guilty for introducing them.
He didn't go back to get Harry though.
When Sammy hit twelve he snapped.
Not in a mental way, but in a rebellious teenage way that Dean had never done. Everyone said Dean was the most like him but John knew better; Sam was a mirror image of his father; he the same destructive determination and the same selfish fault that John had never really seen in his oldest. Dean despite his drinking and womanizing was a purer, simpler being; he lived only for his family and his selflessness made John love him and despise him in equal amounts.
The truth was he didn't understand Dean enough and he understood Sam too much and now that Sammy wasn't okay with sitting back and just taking orders it made their family almost constantly tense and agitated.
Sam's intelligence meant he knew how to hurt people, he knew where to prod them to get the biggest reaction. He needled at John's fatherhood, poked at his beaten up car and the lack of any permanent housing. He scoffed when John left them alone, staring with great big eyes full of condemnation and John was so close to raising his hand to kid that he had developed a tick in his eye.
Dean knew it too, he was rubbish in school but knew everything about his family, and approached John quietly, slumped up in a heavy, leather jacket that was a still a little bit loose on his broad shoulders and his eyes were oddly dark in the dim light of the motel.
"Here" he said quietly and pressed the cool handle of a loaded gun into John's hands. "Go away for a bit before you do something you regret."
John looked in to his Dean's face, taking in the high cheekbones and long, almost feminine lashes and saw Mary staring back at him.
He didn't have a reply for his son, but when he left, a bag slung over his shoulder he saw Sammy watching condemningly from behind Dean; staring at him with his mouth all twisted up in disdain and realised he probably wouldn't have regretted hitting the ignorant brat.
The banshee from Iowa was a bitch.
Its friend was even worse and it's was with a slash pouring blood down the entire length of his torso that John approached Bobby's junkyard. He almost wasn't surprised to see green eyes staring at him patiently from behind the crumpled body of a Ford.
"You waiting for me kid?" he asked and was surprised by the weakness of his voice; his voice box bobbled a little against the skin of his neck and Harry raised one skinny shoulder in a nonchalant shrug.
John decided not to ask how Harry had known he coming; asking meant he had to acknowledge the kid's unnaturalness and staring into Harry's familiar face he didn't really want to.
"You never came back for me" the boy said suddenly and John was expecting to see the same betrayal and anger that Sammy's face was constantly painted with, but instead Harry's features were blank and his eyes pale with knowledge, reminding John that Harry wasn't normal once again.
"I'm sorry" he gasped and let himself cling onto rusty metal frame behind him, unable to admit that his knees were knocking weakly and his vision was started to narrow.
Harry smiled slightly; it twisted at the redness of his lips and made his heart shaped face lob-sided and pained; he was an attractive kid even with the most ugly of emotions. "No you're not" he retorted and then slipped his shoulder beneath John's arm, wrapping his limbs around the older man. "It's okay" he added as they wobbled towards the front door and John couldn't have said if he meant it or not.
Bobby's face was dark with surprise and irritation when Harry stumbled through the front door, John slung half dead over his narrow shoulders.
"What you doing here, Winchester. I thought you had completely forgotten we were alive" Bobby's anger was a sharp disdainful light shimmering in his pale eyes and John realised that Harry may have forgiven him but only because Bobby held the grudge for him.
"Banshee" John answered shortly and the man scowled at his answer.
Bobby placed the shot full of Holy water before him, ignoring Harry's protests and told the kid to get the first aid kit as John swallowed dutifully. The boy scuttled away and the silence he left would have been unbearable if John could have seen straight.
"You're a cruel man, John Winchester" Bobby said softy, his accent heavy and curling at the vowels, "It's been almost a year, were you just gonna leave him with me forever?"
John shrugged, his tongue heavy and dry plastered against the roof of his mouth "I thought you liked him"
"We both know that's really not the point"
Harry came back and John's heart ached as he watched the boy tenderly stitch up his wound, his small pale face tight with concentration. Bobby watched him coldly over the top of Harry's dark curls and the distance between them seemed so much bigger now that they were finally face to face.
"Harry, go and set up the spare room. John will be wanting to stay for a while I presume"
John didn't have the energy to argue and looking at Harry's bright happy eyes as his proudly told John he didn't have nightmares anymore he didn't really want to.
The week John stayed with Bobby and Harry was a bittersweet blur.
Harry worshipped him, though he couldn't say exactly why. He followed the hunter around everywhere, his silence destroyed by his excited chatter as he proudly told John about hunting and researching with Bobby. The broken little witch John had pulled from a necromancer's circle was gone replaced by a bright eyed teenager and John was grateful.
Harry's necromancy had always left a bitter taste in his mouth and he had never allowed himself to think of the boy as anything but a ticking time bomb. Seeing Harry rolling around the Bobby's old dog made the memories fade and he almost saw his own kids reflected in the kid's grinning face.
At least until he saw Harry doing magic.
Harry's room was at the top of the house, in a little attic room, protected by Bobby's most potent charms and painted with devil traps and salt soaked metal panels. Bobby may have not been able to protect Harry from himself but he was trying hard to protect him from anything else.
John had been looking for the kid and his room had seemed like a good place to start. Maybe it was because he was so used to moving silently that the kid hadn't stopped or maybe Harry hadn't realised he was meant to, but John had swung open to the door of Harry's bedroom and nearly been sick.
Harry hands were full of fire, his skin was sunlight and glitter and his eyes were unnatural in their brightness as he glanced at John. Lightning crackled along the seams of clothes, leaving little black scorch marks on the material and Harry smiled happily at him. The magic pulsated and slithered away, sinking and soaking back into Harry's flesh leaving his skin perfectly bright and ethereal and his curls ruffled around his beaming face. He looked a bit like an angel.
"Hey John, did you..."
"What are you" John interrupted, his voice sharp with fear "I told you, never again..."
"It's not necromancy" Harry interrupted and his smile dimmed even as his skin pulsated with magic. "It's magic. It's okay, it's just magic"
John knew what his face said at Harry's answer and the boy flinched away from him, his arms wrapping around himself protectively as if he expected to be struck and didn't really want to avoid it.
"It's wrong, you are wrong. It's evil." he stated coldly and Harry brilliantly bright eyes faded, washing out to a familiar nothingness.
He didn't say any more, but nothing else needed to be said. John knew he had just destroyed a year's worth of Bobby's hard work with the kid. He knew Harry was right back where he started with his memories and old betrayal and shadows of death.
His grip tightened on his steering wheel and he remembered the lightning and fire magic and wondered if it might have been for the best.
Bobby left him a voicemail a week later with a single sentence.
Harry had run away.
End of part one.
Reviews are much desired and will be well cared for.
The second half is almost finished and I hold in hostage in anticipation.