The Road to Perdition
John Winchester sat in the darkened corner of the crowded bar, nursing his drink. It was near dark outside and the place was starting to fill up, the hum of chatter and the clink of glasses barely penetrating the bubble of his grief. Mary had been dead almost two months – house fire due to a faulty electrical outlet was the eventual ruling – and he couldn't stop thinking about it, couldn't stop seeing his wife in those quick seconds before he had to go after his boys and make sure they got out of the house safely. There had been nothing natural about the way she died, pinned to the ceiling in Sammy's nursery. The fire…it had somehow come from her. And no-one believed him. Had, in fact, suspected him of killing the person he loved most in the world.
He'd always been a skeptic when it came to all things otherworldly or unexplainable. Before his oldest son was born, Mary had talked to him a little about her belief in things that didn't exist outside of horror movies. Well, she'd always been a little quirky that way; it was one of the things he loved about her. But no matter how sincere she'd sounded, talking about ghosts and vampires, he himself never believed. Now he was filled with remorse, and took a long pull off his beer to swallow it back down.
John wanted answers – was desperate for them - and tonight he hoped to get them.
The call had come earlier that day while he was at the garage, half-heartedly replacing a wheel bearing. The boys were staying with Mary's aunt or her cousin, some part of the prolific Campbell clan; he forgot exactly how they were related to his wife but they were numerous and more than eager to help out. John was glad to have them. Missouri had told him to meet her at this hole in the wall bar and to bring an open mind, but bringing the boys would have been out of the question. His mind was as open as it would get. After all, Missouri Mosley claimed to be a psychic, and so far she'd told him enough to make him believe that she wasn't completely full of shit.
His patience was wearing thin and it seemed like forever before Missouri finally walked into the bar. She looked neither left nor right, her expressive brown eyes looking right at John as she made her way to his table. Her hair, long and curly, glimmered with droplets of water; it must have started raining. Missouri took the seat across from him, shaking out the cream-colored shawl that had been draped over the shoulders of her purple dress.
"Where the hell have you been?" John snapped, annoyed. "I've been…"
"Now don't you be using that foul language around me, John Winchester." Missouri held up one pudgy hand. "I am right where I need to be when I need to be there, and I won't have you barking at me like some caveman. Now are you ready to start believing or you still think this is all hogswallow?"
The psychic's eyes bored into him, and he found himself suddenly studying the bottle in his hands. There may have been things he wasn't ready to believe, but even he could sense the power that seemed to emanate from the young black woman in front of him.
"I'm ready for some answers, Missouri. No matter how far-fetched. I need to know the truth."
"Good," said Missouri. "Now I'm going to introduce you to someone that will help you. Do what he says, when he says it. Ask only the questions that will further your education."
"Hush." Missouri turned a bit in her seat, nodding slightly as she looked at the end of the bar. John followed her gaze and watched as a non-descript man wearing a flannel shirt and trucker cap stood up and started walking their way.
"Now you remember what I said, John Winchester." Missouri got to her feet and rearranged her shawl. "You do as he says and you'll have your answers. Not today or tomorrow but you will have them."
With that she turned on her heel and started for the door. John started to rise and stop her but a hand on his shoulder forestalled him. Biting back his annoyance, he sat back and watched warily as the stranger in flannel filled Missouri's seat.
"Don't be an idjit. If she had anythin' else for you she'd have said so."
John would have classified this man as just a local hick, but now that they were face to face he revised his initial opinion. He may have had a non-descript appearance and a plain way of speaking, but he also had a bearing and presence that stood him out from everyone else in the bar. His face was lined, top lip and jaw line hidden by bristly but neatly trimmed facial hair.
"Listen up, Winchester, cause I'm only gonna say this once." The man had a gravelly voice that rang with authority. "I'm a Hunter. And before you ask what I hunt I'll tell you. All those things that go bump in the night."
John opened his mouth, a sarcastic comment on the tip of his tongue, but the man shook his head.
"Shut your pie hole. Yes, monsters are real. Yes, they can and will kill and eat you, and not necessarily in that order. If you can wrap your head around that then I can make you a damn good Hunter." He paused, and then waved an impatient hand. "Well, say somethin'."
John's mouth snapped shut, and he forgot whatever he'd been about to say. He was reminded again of those crazy conversations he'd have with Mary. She'd always seemed so sure, never once wavering in the face of his disbelief. He knew he could walk way right now; make a new life with his boys, try to get past his loss and move on. It might have worked, too, if he could get that vision of Mary burning on the ceiling out of his mind. But he couldn't shake it, couldn't let go of the feeling that he had to do something, had to find someone – or something – to blame. If he could believe in psychics, why not monsters?
"So let me get this straight," he said, finally finding his voice again. "Monsters are real. Like ghosts and werewolves and stuff."
"And you hunt and kill them."
"And by learning how to do this I'll find out why and how my…my wife died." John finished off his beer, but kept turning the bottle around and around in his hands.
"That about sums it up."
"Can I bring my boys? They're all I have left." John told himself this would be the deal breaker. Dean and Sammy had lost enough, suffered enough already. He couldn't be responsible for them losing their father too. And yet, in a dark and distant corner of his mind, he was hoping the answer would be no. So he could be free. Free of the responsibility, free of the little faces that looked so much like Mary, free of the memories.
"Huntin' and bein' around Hunters ain't for the squeamish," the man said. He gave John a thoughtful look. "But I see you're not one to let things go easily. Bring 'em, and we'll see how it goes."
"Good. When can we start?" John asked, telling himself that he was doing the right thing, making the right decision. He couldn't just go back to the garage and pretend nothing had happened. If there were monsters out there, he wanted to be able to protect the boys the way he'd been unable to protect their mother.
"We can start as soon as you can make it to my place with your ankle biters." The Hunter tossed a piece of paper on the table, an address and phone number scrawled across it in pencil, and stood up. He started to turn towards the door but stopped in mid stride and turned quickly back to John Winchester. "By the way, the name's Singer. Bobby Singer."
AN: I've always wondered how Bobby and John met, haven't been able to find anything in canon to show how John became a hunter, so this covers both situations. This is my first Supernatural fic, so please let me know what you think!