"Long Road Home"
Set in November 2005
John Winchester walked through the bar in Eaten, Ohio, heading for a man seated in the corner. The man had a lead on the demon who had killed his wife Mary, and John was eager for the intel. He would rather be working another case, but if he couldn't make any headway on that, he would avenge the killer of his sons' mother.
The case he'd rather be working on was his son's. John had come back from a hunt after receiving a terrified phone call from his youngest son.
John looked at his caller ID while trying to research the werewolf he was hunting.
Rolling his eyes, John answered it. "What is it, Sam?"
"Dad…" came seven-year-old Sam's hyperventilating voice. "It's…I'm sorry…I—"
John was instantly tense. Something was wrong.
"Sam, calm down," John soothed him. "Take a breath. Tell me what's wrong."
Sam hyperventilated a couple more times. "It's Dean."
John's eyes widened. With how Sam was acting, this could not be good. "What about Dean? Where is he?"
Sam hesitated. "I don't know."
John's heart stopped right then. "What do you mean you don't know where he is?"
"We went to the diner next door for lunch, and he told me to go straight back to the motel," Sam said in a rush. "He said he would be right back. I haven't seen him in four hours."
John immediately began packing his bags and research. "Sam, stay there. I'll be right back."
John thanked whatever deity was out there that he was only three towns away.
John had returned to the motel to find Sam crying on the floor next to the boys' bed. John had left no stone unturned trying to find Dean, but who—or whatever—had taken him had left no trail.
That was fifteen years ago, and John still hadn't found his eldest son. He had raised Sam on his own while the two of them hunted for the missing Winchester. They still worked cases they ran into, but most of their time was spent searching for Dean. Sam was now twenty-two, which would make Dean twenty-six.
John shook his head in amazement as he headed through the bar. Dean, wherever he was—if he was even alive, had missed fifteen years of his life.
John settle down at the table where the man was sitting.
"What do you have, Paul?" asked John.
"That's how you deal with your informant?" said Paul. "No offer to buy me a drink?"
"I'm busy," said John. "There are other things I should be doing, but I took the time to hear this."
"Well, then, fine," said Paul. "Go take care of that other stuff."
"Come on, Paul," said John. "I need this info."
"Why? It's not gonna bring her back."
John's jaw clenched. "That demon killed her. He needs to die."
"And what about whatever took Dean?" asked Paul. "Doesn't it deserve to die?"
John glared at him, not wanting to talk about it. "Shut up."
"So Mary's murder gets the attention, but Dean's disappearance just gets pushed to the side?"
John leaned over the table and punched Paul across the face. Paul toppled to the floor as the bar patrons froze at the commotion.
Paul climbed to his feet, glaring at John. "Oh, that's how it's gonna be, Winchester?"
Paul grabbed John and pulled him from his seat, throwing him across the bar. John hit the floor, but jumped back up, hitting Paul a few more times. John kicked him through the back door, and they tumbled into an alley. John hit him a few more times before Paul began backing away from him.
"That temper's gonna get you in trouble one day," said Paul.
"Get out of here, you dick!" John yelled.
"I hope you never find him," said Paul. "He's probably dead already."
Paul ran out of the alley, but John just stood there. That last sentence had hit just a little too close to home. That was, after all, what John had begun thinking recently.
"Don't mind him."
John frowned and looked over at the alley wall to see a kid in about his twenties sitting on the ground, staring at his feet. The kid was wearing dirty black sweatpants with a few tears in them. He wore one tattered black tennis shoe and one blue, faded Nike. He wore no socks. He also wore a filthy, white t-shirt and dirty, huge camo jacket. The kid had light brown hair about the length of Sam's hair that sat in a mess on top of his head. He had stubble that looked to be a couple weeks old.
"What?" John asked.
The kid looked up at him, frowning for a moment when he saw John's face, but then he shook his head. "Paul treats everyone like that."
John smiled. "Is that so?"
"Yeah," he said, looking back down at his feet.
John noticed the kid was shaking. "You okay?"
The kid nodded. "I'm fine."
John stepped closer. "Kid, you're freezing." He didn't blame him. It was November, and the kid didn't have anything warm on.
"I'll be fine," the kid insisted.
"You're turning blue," John told him.
The kid gave what seemed like a bitter chuckle. "Believe me, I've dealt with worse."
John was close enough to see the kid properly. He was skin and bones. "When was the last time you ate?"
The kid shrugged. "I don't know."
"Well, come on, I'll buy you dinner," said John.
The kid looked up at him with a smirk. "Well, you are handsome, but I don't swing that way."
John laughed. "You know what I mean." The kid looked back down at his feet. "How 'bout it? I bet you're starving."
Just then, the kid's stomach rumbled. John and he laughed a little.
"Sure sounds like you are," said John.
"No, it's okay," said the kid. "You don't have to."
"I want to," said John. "It's just…" He was silent for a moment, and the kid looked up at him. "You remind me of my son."
John couldn't really explain it, but there was something about this kid that reminded him of Dean.
"What do you say?" asked John.
The kid smiled. "Uh…okay."
John held his hand out. "John."
The kid offered his own hand, and John pulled him to his feet. "Tom."
"Nice to meet you," said John. "Come on. There's a diner across the street."
"What about your car?" asked Tom.
"I'll get it later," said John.
He led Tom across the road and into the diner. The other patrons turned up their noses at Tom as the two of them took a seat at a booth.
A waitress walked over to them. "What can I get you two?"
"Two waters and two coffees – black," said John. He looked at Tom. "Know what you want yet?"
Tom was staring at the menu choices in amazement. He looked up at John. "Is everything okay?"
John laughed and looked up at the waitress. "What do you suggest?"
"Well, we make a pretty mean bacon cheeseburger," she said.
"Ooh, that," said Tom with a smile.
"Alright," she said with a laugh. "Anything else?"
"Fries, definitely fries," said Tom. "And—" He looked up at John, suddenly shy. "Just those two is fine."
"You can order anything you want," said John. "I've got plenty of money."
Or—at least—the fake guy on his card had enough money.
Tom smiled, looking at the waitress. "And the chicken wings. And the pie."
"Which flavor?" asked the waitress.
Tom frowned, looking down at his choices.
"One of each," said John. Tom smiled in gratitude. "And I'll have the bacon cheeseburger with fries."
"Okay," said the waitress, leaving.
"Thank you," said Tom.
"No problem," said John.
They chatted about random things while waiting for their food. They found out that they both liked classic rock and had a thing for cars. Before long, their drinks and food were brought out.
Tom latched onto his glass of water, draining it in a minute. John watched sadly as he dug into his own meal. Tom grabbed the burger and took a big bite out of it.
"Mm," said Tom. "This is the best burger ever!"
John laughed as Tom stuffed a few fries into his mouth.
"Hey, slow down," said John. "You'll make yourself sick."
Tom looked up at him and swallowed. "Sorry."
John waved it off, and the rest of the meal was spent in silence. Then the pie came.
"You still have room?" asked John as three pieces of pie—an apple, a cherry, and a chocolate—were set on the table.
"There's always room for pie," said Tom. He pulled the chocolate one to him and took a bite of it. He moaned as he closed his eyes. "Mm. I love me some pie."
John laughed again as he watched Tom enjoy the pie. When the last bite was gone, Tom sat back.
"Ugh," said Tom. "I can't remember the last time I was this full."
John smiled. "Glad to hear it."
"So what was your deal with Paul?" asked Tom.
"I needed some information from him, but he just kept pushing my buttons," said John.
Tom smirked. "Yeah. He can do that."
"So, what's your story?" asked Tom. He shook his head, looking down at his hands. "Never mind. That's none of my business."
Tom looked down at the table as John stared at him, thinking.
"My son and I are in town working," John explained.
"The one I remind you of?" asked Tom.
John shook his head. "No, it's my youngest."
"What kind of work?" asked Tom.
"We, uh…we help people," said John, not wanting to give out the truth.
"Like cops?" asked Tom.
John smiled. "Something like that."
"Huh," shrugged Tom. "Sounds mysterious and exciting."
John laughed. "Well, it certainly is mysterious."
Tom smiled, nodding as he rested his elbows on the table. "How'd you get into that?"
John looked down at the table. "My wife…died in a fire a while back. I wanted to make sure something like that couldn't happen to anyone else."
Tom looked at the table. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," said John. "What about you? Where's your family?"
Tom's hand twitched slightly, causing the fork next to it to clatter against the plate it was resting on. "I, uh…I don't really know. My mom died when I was a kid, and I ran away a while back. Lately, I've been trying to find the rest of my family, but, so far…nothing."
"Well, I'm sure they're looking for you," John told him.
Tom nodded. "Yeah…" He shook his head a little. "So,it's just you and your son? What happened to your other son?"
John looked him in the eye for a moment. "He was…taken…when he was a kid. We've been searching for him ever since. So, yeah, it's just me and Sam."
Tom's eyes seemed to widen as he stared at John. "Sam?"
"Yeah," said John. "That's my youngest son's name: Sam. He, uh…was named for his grandfather." John smiled at the memory, laughing a little. "But…Dean, on the other hand, was named for his grandmother."
John watched as Tom's expression grew stunned as his gaze darted to the window next to them, searching for something. Once Tom's eyes got locked on whatever it was, John followed his gaze to his black 1967 Chevy Impala sitting in the bar's parking lot across the street.
"Good eye," said John, looking back at Tom. "It's mine."
"'67?" asked Tom, still staring at the Impala.
"Yeah," said John. "Beauty, isn't she?"
Tom's gaze flew towards John, staring at him in shock.
"Are you alright?" asked John.
"John…and Sam…" began Tom, trying to force the words out. "Winchester?"
John frowned, wondering how he knew that. "Yeah…"
Tom's eyes widened further. "And Mary…was killed by a demon on the ceiling of Sam's nursery on November 2, 1983?"
John leaned back in his seat, starting to get on the defensive. "How do you know all that?"
If it was possible, Tom's eyes grew wider, and fear and—dare John say, hope—filled Tom's face.
"Dad?" asked Tom.
John frowned, staring at Tom's face…at his chiseled jaw, at his freckles spattered across his nose and cheeks, at the green, vibrant eyes staring back at him…
"Dean?" said John.