"The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"
"Chapter Four: Disposable Heroes"
"Dude, what the hell is that?" an eleven-year-old Dean asked his seven-year-old brother.
John looked up from the kitchen table at his sons. Dean was standing with his back to his father and blocked Sam's small frame from view. Craning his neck to look around Dean, he saw something small and black situated in Sammy's arms. Oh no…
"Sammy, what do you have?" demanded John.
Sam took several tentative steps forward, his eyes locking with Dean's as he passed his big brother. Standing opposite of his father, Sam cradled the black thing close to his chest. It moved slightly in his arms, a high-pitched meeeeow ringing in the kitchen. John sighed and thought of the gentlest way to say no.
"His name's Abracadabra," announced Sam as he cuddled the kitten as close to him as humanly possible. "I found him in the alley out back."
"Sammy… you can't keep the kitten."
As though the cat knew what he had said, he let out a whining meow and tried to climb up Sam's shirt. Sam told the kitten to stop and struggled to keep him still in his embrace.
"Because…" John racked his brain for a good reason but failed to come up with one, "you just can't."
"But I saved him, Daddy. I'm Abracadabra's hero."
John pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. His gaze drifted towards his oldest son who was shaking his head as though Sammy was crazy. The hunt was almost complete. John was going to salt and burn the body tonight and tomorrow morning they were moving out. They couldn't take the damn cat with them wherever they went. It would ruin the upholstery of the Impala.
"Because, Sam, I'm the parent and you are the child. What I say goes."
"That's stupid," snapped Sammy.
"Sam," warned Dean as he took his spot next to his kid brother.
John thanked his lucky stars that Dean was on his side about the whole kitten thing. If he wasn't, it would make things twice as worse. Maybe, just maybe, he would have said they could keep it.
"Sammy, I know you saved the kitten," reasoned John as he licked his lips. "You will forever be Abracadabra's hero. Except, he has a family out there. He just got lost. Instead of keeping him, you need to give him back to his family."
"But…" Sammy's brow furrowed, "we can give him a new family."
"What if you were lost, Sammy, and a bear took you to his cave. The bear wouldn't let you leave, because he wanted to give you a new family. Wouldn't you miss Dean and me?" he reasoned.
"More than anything in the world," the child admitted as his bottom lip found its way between his teeth.
"You know what, Sammy?" asked John gently as he rose from his chair and closed the space between him and his youngest. Crouching down, he got down to Sam's eye level. "I'd miss you and your brother more than anything in the world too."
Sam smiled a toothy smile and wrapped an arm around his father's neck. The kitten squeaked out a few meows when it found itself squished between father and son. Gently, he kissed his son on his temple. Pulling back, he reached out a hand and scratched the kitten's head for a few seconds.
There was a low growl that filled the empty warehouse, jolting John out of his reverie. His gaze trailed from the ground to the man tied to the chair a few feet away from him. A Devil's Trap was painted carefully on the ceiling above. Taking a few steps forward, John dangled a canteen filled with holy water from his fingertips.
"That was very attractive," commented John. "That your mating call?"
"Fuck you, Winchester," the demon hissed as its eyes flooded black. "I'm not telling you shit."
"That's perfect, because I don't want to hear about shit," he replied with a shit-eating grin. "I wanna hear about the psychics."
The man adjusted himself in the chair and let out a bloodcurdling laugh. John twisted off the cap to the canteen and flung the water at the demon. The laughing ceased as a cry of agony filled the room.
"I'm not going tell you about the psychics either," the demon spat. "I'd rather you send me packing to Hell instead of being tortured to death for squealing like a pig. Hell is the worst thing you can do to me. I'll crawl back out soon enough. I'm helping Azazel. I'm one of his."
"Who said anything about sending you to Hell?" John said with a smirk. "I know how to kill a demon."
"If I was a betting man, I'd call your bluff."
Grabbing a spare chair, John dragged it until it was directly in front of the trap. Then, he swung a leg over the seat and straddled the chair. His arms rested on the back of the chair, the rest of the holy water swinging in and out of the trap. John only smiled.
"You know Abaddon?"
"You mean the bitch who has been trying to get in Azazel's way? She doesn't even know what he's doing and yet she calls that the sky is falling."
"I killed her," he said with a smirk. "Haven't heard from her in months, have you?"
The demon narrowed its black orbs, a snarl working its way on its face. John played it cool, kept his poker face on the entire time. This was his only chance to gain information. If he got caught in his bluff, it would all be over with before he could blink.
"The Colt," John lied with a soft smirk. "Didn't think it existed until I found an old antique gun that worked on your little demon friend."
"Why should I believe you?"
"I don't care if you do or don't. I will torture you until you give me the information I want. Then, I'll send you packing to Hell to get tortured some more by your demon buddies. I doubt they'd be as gentle as I would. That's the hard way. The easy way… you tell me what I want to know and I'll kill you with the Colt. No torture, no being the rat, nothing."
The demon looked like it was contemplating the options that were laid before it. John thought he had the demon right where he wanted it.
"You can torture me all you want," the demon hissed. "I'm loyal to Azazel. I want to see the end of his plan."
"A plan that involves what? A psychic army?"
"No, just one. Azazel doesn't need an army. They're just disposable heroes that are meaningless. Only one psychic is needed for the grand plan – a starring role."
"What's the grand plan with the one psychic?"
"We're not buddies. I'm not telling you anything more. For what you're doing to me, I hope that Sammy is just one of the disposable heroes who will die in a pit of nameless, faceless waste."
John stood up so fast that the room spun. Kicking the chair across the room, it hit the wall and shattered into several pieces. He poured the rest of the holy water onto the demon before reaching into his jacket pocket to pull out a container of salt. Grabbing the demon by the hair, he jerked the head back and poured the salt down the demon's throat. The demon squirmed beneath his grasp, choking on the tiny pebbles of salt.
When the container was empty, he threw it across the room and stepped out of the trap. He could hear gagging and coughs behind him, but he paid no attention. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on his breathing. In and out. In and out. He tried to calm himself down. He needed the information.
"They're all going to turn evil," the demon said as he spit out the remaining salt. "When Azazel is through with little Sammy, he'll be as twisted as a demon. He'll rape, pillage, and kill. If he doesn't do it as well as the other psychics, his throat will be slit. Azazel only wants the most twisted, evil psychic of them all."
"You're not going to touch a fuckin' hair on his head," John growled as he whipped around to face the demon.
Footfalls sounded in the distance. John kept his focus on the demon, his chest heaving. Within a few seconds, Caleb Lyons appeared in the warehouse. Sweat covered his forehead as he peeled off the dirty gloves from his hands.
"You ready, John?" he questioned.
John didn't say anything. Instead, he stepped into the trap and gripped the bound wrists of the demon. Leaning forward, until his face was mere inches away from the demon's face, he sneered.
"I'm going to kill Azazel," he said in an even voice, "before he can lay one finger on my son. You're not going to get the satisfaction from his fuckin' plan. You're all going to die. Do you understand me?"
"Is this you blowing your poker face?" the demon questioned with a wide smile. "I had you pegged a mile away."
"I'm ready, Caleb."
The younger hunter grabbed a large trunk from beneath the shadows. Dragging it over, he flicked it open to reveal the inside painted in Devil's Traps. The demon looked from the trunk to the hunters with a confused look.
Instead of untying the demon from the chair, they merely threw him and the chair into the trunk. Closing it, they wrapped iron chains around it. Grabbing each side of the trunk, they carried it outside to where Joshua Harper was standing with a shovel in hand beside a large grave.
Caleb and John heaved the trunk into the massive hole. Immediately, Joshua wiped his brow and started to pile the dirt into the grave. John and Caleb each picked up their own shovels to help. None of the hunters said a word as they worked. It wasn't until the grave was completely filled that Joshua spoke.
"Can I ask what is going on?"
"No," replied John.
"John, we're burying demons and you have me calling your kids telling them things you could tell them yourself. Hell, you should have been with your kids when Dean was dying."
"Josh," warned Caleb.
"I didn't ask you to come," snapped John. "If I had known you were hunting with Caleb when I called him, I would have forgotten about it. You should have told me the kid was with you! What were you thinking, Caleb?"
"I was thinking about how young and spry Josh was. I figured he'd be a big help in digging your ten foot hole," he replied dryly.
John shook his head. Sometimes, he just wanted to kill Caleb when he was being a smartass. There was no doubt in his mind that his kids had smart mouths on them because of Caleb Lyons. He was the worst influence in the world to small children.
"Keep your mouth shut, Joshua," barked John. "You don't tell Dean or Sam or anybody about what went on tonight. You understand me?"
"I couldn't even if I wanted to! I have no idea what the hell is going on!"
"Let's keep it that way then."
"Right. Caleb's the only one allowed in the know-how. I can't say I'm surprised."
"You wanna adjust your attitude?"
"Sorry, Sir," Joshua replied with slight sarcasm in his tone. John overlooked it.
The three went their separate ways, and John couldn't have been gladder. It would be the last time he would call Caleb for help. He was always trying to add his two cents where it wasn't needed. Bringing Joshua into the mix was the final straw.
He put three states in-between him and the burial site of the demon. There was a small motel off the Interstate where he was going to hole up in while waiting for his next move. Perhaps, Irene would call him within the next few days with more omens. Maybe he would find another demon case to go on so he could drill the damn thing and find out more information.
The next night, while he was researching, he got a phone call from Dean. He thought he had a lead on the demon in Chicago. After listening to the voicemail, he called Irene to see if she could find any omens there. There were none. Part of him thought it was some sort of trap. Maybe Azazel knew he was getting close? John debated for five minutes before packing up his gear and heading to Chicago. He had to be there for his boys.
Luckily, he was only a few hours out of Chicago. He was there in no time really. Grabbing a map in a gas station, he figured out where the warehouse was that Dean mentioned. He got there as fast as he could, his mind running a million miles a minute.
He found the warehouse easily enough and cut the engine. He was just about to get out of the truck when there was a loud crash. A young, blonde girl in a yellow coat fell from a window. Her body collided with the asphalt. John sat in the car, his hand on the handle. Glancing up to the broken window, he saw two figures looking out. It was no doubt Sam and Dean.
John beat his sons back to the motel room. It had been long enough since he had seen them. There was an aching in his heart, a void that needed to be filled. The only ones who could fill that gaping hole were his sons.
Standing at the window, he watched them exit the Impala. They were talking to one another in low tones. Dean said something with a smirk, his elbow jabbing Sam's side. The kid merely rolled his eyes and continued on their way into the motel.
The keys jingled in the lock and Dean shouted out when he saw his father's figure. Turning around, he felt a wave of relief wash over him at the sight of his sons. He looked from Dean to Sammy then back at Dean.
"Dad?" questioned Dean.
"Hey, boys," he replied with a smile.
No other words were exchanged. Instead, John took a step forward. Upon the movement, Dean started forward as well. In a few small steps, John pulled his eldest into a hug. He could feel tears prickle his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. Pulling out of the embrace, Sammy started forward. John turned to him, his heart pounding in his chest. He looked so much older that it was nearly incomprehensible. What had happened to his little boy? When had he grown up into a man?
They talked briefly about Meg and the demon. Sammy wanted to come with him, and he couldn't allow that to happen. He couldn't put them in the crossfire while he sought revenge. The last thing he wanted was for his boys to die just like Mary had.
"Listen, Sammy, last time we were together, we had one hell of a fight," John said slowly, changing the topic.
"It's good to see you again. It's been a long time."
Stepping forward, John pulled his youngest into an embrace. He had missed Sam more than he could fully comprehend. Losing his son was the second worst thing that had ever happened to him. The only thing that could beat it was the death of his wife. His family meant everything to him. Losing anyone, even to college, was just too painful. Clapping him twice on the back, John pulled away from Sammy. He could feel a tear roll down his cheek as he glanced over at Dean.
Suddenly, something hit him and dragged him backwards, flinging him into the kitchenette cabinets. He glanced up just in time to watch Sam and Dean get attacked also. After his boys were on the floor, the Daeva attacked him. It slashed again and again at him, sending white-hot pain through every inch of his body.
The attack stopped. The room was filled with a bright light. For a second or two, John was convinced he had died. He was sitting on the floor, waiting for Mary to appear before him and take him off to wherever you go when you die. Except, she never appeared to him. Squinting through the bright light, he saw his boys alive and moving. Smoke filled the room, and he could hear his sons coughing.
Dean called out to him, and he told his son where he was. He couldn't find the strength to move right away on his own. Soon enough, Dean was at his side helping him up. His son gave him strength to get the hell out of dodge. They were outside before he even knew what was happening.
Upon seeing the Impala parked on the side of the road, his mind started to clear. Sam was urging them to leave, but Dean faltered. He said that they needed to split up. Part of John screamed not to leave his boys. They were bloodied and weak. He should stay with them to ensure they were all right. Dean, always rational, said they were weak when they were together.
Sam gripped his shoulder, pleading to stay together. John's heart ached in his chest as he told his youngest son that he needed to let go. They needed to separate, that the fight was just beginning. Walking to his truck took everything he had in him. Turning around to take one last look at his sons, he told them to be careful.
After Chicago, John followed the omens. He was scrambling for more information and was nearly going insane when it was one dead end after another. A month later, he heard about Daniel Elkins' death. Even though him and Daniel had their spats in the past, he went to Manning, Colorado to pay his last respects. The last thing he expected to find was Dean and Sam already there. Even more shocking, he found the Colt. It seemed like finally, the pieces of the puzzle were coming together.
John stayed with his sons through the vampire nest and afterwards. With the gun in hand, perhaps it was time to allow his children to be apart of the fight. They would surely want to experience the death of Azazel. Their family could find vindication only after the demon's demise.
John drove his truck, glancing every now and then into the rearview mirror to ensure that the Impala wasn't far behind. His phone rang not long after they crossed into Salvation, Iowa. Glancing down at his phone, he recognized Caleb's number on the caller ID.
"Hey, John. I, uh… how are you?"
John clenched his phone tightly. He could immediately tell that something was wrong. Caleb rarely called to just chat. The way his voice waivered, something had happened.
"What's wrong, Caleb?"
"It's Pastor Jim. He's dead. His throat was slit."
Pastor Jim had been a beloved figure in the hunting community. He ran a training program of sorts. He introduced hundreds of rookie hunters to more experienced hunters. He provided useful information to all hunters. He was constantly researching and lending a hand to anyone who ever needed it. He even offered a safe haven for a few dozen hunters, gladly welcoming them into his home as though they were family.
"Josh's there right now. He says there's sulfur everywhere."
"You think it's Azazel? Beezlebub?"
"I have no idea."
John doubted that it was Azazel. Irene would have called him saying that omens had cropped up in Blue Earth. Beezlebub, well, John didn't really know much about that sonofabitch. All he knew is that it did Abaddon's dirty work. With Abaddon trapped more than six feet under, Beezlebub wasn't getting its orders from its maser any longer.
"Listen, Johnny, be careful."
"I'm always careful," replied John. "Watch out for yourself and your family."
John ended the call and threw his cell phone onto the seat next to him. A little ways down the road, there was a little dirt path. Pulling off the main road, John cut the engine and swore. Telling Dean and Sam the news was harder than he thought. The two had been fond of the pastor, treating him as though he were a surrogate uncle.
John vowed to his sons that he was ending it. He didn't care what it took. It was going to be over with tonight. The death of Jim unnerved him greatly. First, his wife and now Jim? Who was next?
After researching for babies born six months previous, they met back up at the motel room. In that room, John's worst nightmare came to life. He was hoping, praying, that all of the whispers were wrong.
"A vision?" questioned John in disbelief.
He knew this moment would come, knew that some psychic power was going to be bestowed upon his youngest son. Except, upon hearing it with his own ears, it finally became a horrifying reality.
The more he listened to Sam and Dean explain the visions – how they started out when he was asleep and then he got them when he was awake – John could feel his heart speed up. Why hadn't they called him and told him about it before? He should have known when exactly they started and how much Sammy knew about it.
"Alright, when were you going to tell me about this?"
Dean's smartass remark about not knowing what it meant only infuriated John more. What were his sons thinking? They couldn't deal with something of this magnitude. They should of freakin' called him. John told them so. Except, Dean set him straight and told him that he never picked up the phone when they tried to call him.
John couldn't blame him. He had been ignoring their phone calls for months. At the beginning, they came frequently and desperately. They were searching for him to find out if he was all right and what he was up to. John couldn't blame them. He had essentially dropped off the map so he could go hunting for Azazel.
Sam's phone rang, and immediately John had the worst feeling in the world. Meg had killed Caleb Lyons over the phone while he listened. He couldn't help but see Riley and their two children wearing all black and crying over his hunter's farewell burn. He pictured Kenley riddled with grief over the death of the man who had tried her whole life to fill the gaping hole of her deceased father. He lastly pictured Irene who had said more times than he could count that Caleb had become like a brother to her.
Caleb had been one of his best friends, had been like an annoying younger brother to him. He had been a surrogate uncle to his children. Hell, when Dean grew up, the two had become good friends as well. Caleb was essentially a Winchester by association. He always stood behind John and his sons no matter what happened.
That phone conversation sealed his fate. Perhaps, John didn't know it yet, but that was the beginning of the end to his story. He became gung-ho about killing Meg and Azazel. They had killed the people closest to him in a ruthless, inhumane manner. He could not rest until he murdered those demons himself with the Colt.
Except, John would never get his chance at revenge. In a whirlwind, everything happened quicker than he could have imagined. Meeting Meg with the fake gun, being possessed, the hospital, the deal… it all happened so quickly that all of the events blurred together. The one thing he did remember was seeing his eldest son alive. His heart had filled with more joy than John ever thought possible.
After losing Mary, Dean and Sammy kept him afloat, kept him alive. Without them, he didn't even dare to think of what would have happened to him. If he had lost Dean, he wouldn't have survived. His life for Dean's? No contest. He trusted Dean to kill Azazel, trusted him to watch out for his kid brother, trusted him to put an end to Azazel's psycho disposable heroes.
Leaving Dean's hospital room, he felt his heart start to slow. His head spun, thoughts jumbled together. Before he knew it, he was on the cold tiles of the hospital. He tried to gasp for breath, but it felt like his lungs had stopped functioning. He couldn't talk, couldn't move. His eyes fluttered. Then, everything went black.
Three Days Later
Dean and Sam watched their father's body burning. They had given him a hunter's farewell with a salt and burn. When the embers died, Dean grabbed two plastic coolers. He grabbed three beers. He placed one on his father's ashes, handed one to his kid brother, and saved the last one for himself. Sitting down on one of the plastic coolers, Dean pulled the tab to his beer and took a swing.
Sam sat next to him, cracking open his own beer. The two brothers sat in silence as they shared one last beer with their father. Five minutes into their final goodbyes, Dean's cell phone rang. Digging through his leather jacket pocket, he produced his cell phone. He looked at the caller ID long and hard before ignoring the call all together.
"Who was that?" questioned Sam.
"No one," commented Dean as he drained the rest of his beer.
A minute later, Sam's own phone rang. It was Kenley Lyons calling him. Standing up, he sat his beer on the cooler and answered his phone. He walked away from Dean and their father.
"Hey, how are you?"
"As good as I can be, considering."
Closing his eyes, Sam thought of how to apologize for her uncle's death. The only reason he died was because of his close connection with the Winchesters. That fact alone was almost too much to bear.
"I'm so sorry about Caleb."
"He was like a dad to me. I just… I can't believe he's gone. Avery's a mess. She's been asking for Dean."
Looking back in the general direction where his brother was, Sam wondered if his brother would go see the Lyons family. Part of him doubted it. The deaths of Pastor Jim, Caleb, and their father had damaged Dean more than he could admit. Dean had been close to every single one of them.
"We're, uh, holding a hunter's funeral for our dad."
"Dean's pretty messed up over it. I don't think it'd be wise to have him near Avery right now."
"Where are you? I can meet up with you."
"I don't know if that's such a good idea."
A branch snapped. Sam turned around to see his brother entering the clearing. His hand was reaching out for the phone.
"Kenley, hold on. Dean wants to talk to you."
Sam handed the phone to his brother. Dean gripped it, a frown etched into his brow. Slowly, he raised it to his ear and closed his eyes.
"Caleb died because of us," Dean said slowly in a thick voice. "You need to stay away from us before you end up dead too."
"Dean, we've known each other since we were five years old. We've been friends forever."
"It's time to stop being friends, because our friends get killed." A lump formed in his throat. "Go date Rick and get married and have babies just like you've always wanted to do. Get out of hunting and stay away from us."
"I don't want Rick. I never wanted Rick."
"Then go date Josh. He's a good guy."
Dean clenched the phone in his hand. He never wanted to see anyone with the last name of Lyons again. He couldn't bear the thought of being responsible for any more deaths in that family. Caleb had been like a brother to their dad, had been a surrogate uncle to Dean and Sam growing up, had become good friends with Dean as he got older. He could remember being in Caleb's wedding, walking down the aisle with Kenley on his arm. He could remember standing in-between his father and Sammy as they watched Riley walk down the aisle in white.
"Dean, would you just stop?"
"I can't watch you die too."
"Dean… please. It's no secret that I've always liked you in ways that wasn't just friends. I need you now. Don't do this."
"I hope you have a great life, Kenley. I'm so sorry about Caleb."
Dean ended the call, a single tear running down his cheek. He looked up at his kid brother to see him crying. Licking his lips, Dean tossed his brother his phone and made his way back to his father's ashes. He took one last look at where his father's body had lain. Wiping the tear off his face, he grabbed the coolers and made his way to the Impala. They had work to do.
Author's Notes – I hope you enjoyed the story. Please, if you haven't left a review before, leave one now. It is the last time I can get feedback on this story. Reviews will give me motivation to get the next "The Dark Horse" story up as quickly as possible. :)
The next story in the series will be called "Albatross" and deals with a wounded ten-year-old Dean. If you review and ask for a preview of "Albatross," I will gladly give you the summary and a little excerpt as a thank you for reading and reviewing. Make sure you are logged in though so I can respond! :) Thank you for reading.