Title – Revolver
Summary – While recovering in the hospital after a hunt gone wrong, a spirit latches onto John and slowly begins to kill him.
Part of "The Dark Horse" series. Follows the events of "Albatross," but does not need to be read before this story. Everything that is needed to know is summarized within the story.
"Now after all, don't it feel like nothing,
Like walking away, like a mouthful of rain.
At twelve o'clock, a bell starts ringing,
A dog starts barking, and you're still missing."
- "Revolver" by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
"Chapter One: Windom"
Blue Earth, Minnesota
January 25, 1990
John Winchester sat in the spare bedroom of Jim Murphy's ranch house with a revolver clenched in his bandaged hand. A gun had never felt heavier in his entire life. The weight was nearly unbearable. With every beat that passed, his grip tightened around the metal. He could hear the blood pulsate in his ears. His heart pounded wildly against his chest cavity, threatening to burst right through the rib cage. Tears burned his eyes as his breath hitched in his throat. Licking his busted lip, John thought about just ending it all. It would be quick, painless. He could be with Mary once again.
Closing his eyes, he pictured Mary's smiling face. When she smiled, all of her pearly whites showed and the freckles scattered across her scrunched up nose. The sun radiated around her, her golden locks shimmering in the bright light. A pale hand reached out, almost as though it were pleading John to join her in the afterlife. He wanted that more than anything in the world at that moment. After everything that happened, surely it was the only way he could find peace with himself.
Laughter wafted in from the living room, which caused John to gaze towards the door to the bedroom. Six-year-old Sammy was squealing as his newly eleven-year-old brother laughed loudly with him. John blocked the voices out of his head. Closing his eyes again, he saw Mary's face beckoning him towards the light. Nothing had ever been the same without her. Honestly, John should be impressed at how long he lasted without her.
His heart clenched, felt as though a vice was tightening around it. His head was clouded with thoughts of despair and sought the comfort that death would surely bring. Slowly, his thump flicked off the safety. As though in slow motion, the revolver raised to his head. The muzzle grazed his temple. His hand shook violently. A strangled sob ripped at his throat.
The door to the bedroom opened with gusto. Through the tears clouding his vision, John noticed his eldest son standing in the doorway with wide eyes and mouth open. He liked the thought of Dean being the last thing he saw before dying. It was comforting. His finger twitched, resting against the metal trigger. It would all end, all the pain and sadness. A little round could erase all of that.
Suddenly, Dean was in front of him, his tiny hands gripped his wrist. He jerked his father's arm and the gun fired.
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Twenty-Four Days Earlier
John stirred awake when the sun seeped through the curtains of the living room and danced across his face. A messy, brown head was lying on his lap. A tiny hand was gently grasping the fabric of his jeans. With one hand, he brushed the kid's hair off his forehead. Sammy was sleeping soundly, his mouth opened in a small O. Tucked away in his other side was his eldest son. Dean's face was buried into his side, a tiny arm laid across his chest.
The small family had been in Blue Earth for the holidays. His six-year-old son had been adamant that they stay up to watch Dick Clark host the ball dropping. His excitement had been overwhelming. John had fed him some sugar just to keep him awake long enough, except it was 11:30 when the kid started to crash. He had missed the ball drop by a mere eight minutes, but John stayed awake with Dean. Somewhere along talking and watching television, the older two Winchesters had fallen asleep on the couch as well.
John looked around the room. The pastor was nowhere to be found. He must have had enough sense to make it to bed before it got too late. John shifted slightly, his back was stiff and his arm buried underneath the lightest Winchester was painfully asleep. The movement stirred Dean awake who groaned and tried to bury himself deeper into his father's side.
"Dean, wake up," John said gently.
Motioning for his son to get off the couch, Dean stood up lazily with his fist rubbing against his eye. John eased off the couch and grabbed Sammy underneath his armpits to haul him up. It took everything he had in him to concentrate on not dropping the kid. His arm prickled so much that is was numb. Once the child was situated on his hip, he wrapped his free arm around Dean's shoulders and led them into the spare bedroom.
Immediately, Dean crawled under the covers and looked up at his father through half-lidded eyes. John laid his youngest onto the bed. Sammy immediately turned towards his big brother and snuggled into place. Leaning down, John kissed both of his sons' temples before exiting the room.
Settling into the kitchen, John made a pot of coffee and grabbed the paper from the front stoop. There was one article that caught his eye. In a town about an hour drive away, people were disappearing. They had disappeared for a day or two at a time. Then, they would come back as though never being gone. Except, their demeanor was different and family members claimed that something had changed them in their time away. Finally, they would disappear a second time and were never seen again. The bodies had never been found and it had happened five different times over the course of the last month.
Taking a sip of his coffee, John got out a map of Minnesota and a red sharpie. He drew a straight line across I-90 W then followed I-71 N until he landed on Windom, Minnesota. He could commute between the two towns, save on an apartment or motel. Plus, the boys could stay with Jim while he was away. That was always better than leaving them home alone.
He looked up to see the pastor standing in the doorway, a soft smile gracing his features. His gaze rested on the map and newspaper briefly before looking back at the younger man. He settled across from John and quickly read the newspaper article that was highlighted in yellow marks.
"Windom's about an hour and fifteen minutes away," explained John. "If you don't mind, I'd like to leave Dean and Sammy here and just commute to the hunt."
"The boys are always welcome in my home."
"I think I'll pack up my gear and head out today then."
Jim slid the paper back to John. Folding his hands onto the table, the older man peered at John. The last month had been a hard one for the Winchester family. In fact, John hadn't been hunting since the end of November. His last hunt had been in Pennsylvania. Some kind of creature had been viciously attacking hikers in a wooded area after the sun set. Dean had been bugging him for months to be let in on a hunt, so John allowed him to do some recon in the woods with him during the day. He thought it was safe, except they weren't alone in the woods. There was a pair of hunters who had been searching for the same creature. One of the hunters got trigger-happy and shot Dean.
John had basically abandoned the hunt. Instead, he spent his days in the hospital with Sammy while Dean went into three separate surgeries. They high-tailed out of Pennsylvania as soon as Dean was released and holed themselves up in Blue Earth while he recovered. A month without a hunt was getting John antsy. He would have hunted anything in that moment.
"Are you ready to go on a hunt again?" the pastor asked gently.
During the last hunt, John had developed an unhealthy obsession with finding the hunters who had shot Dean. When he found out their location, him and Caleb Lyons broke into the hunting cabin they were staying at. They found a match in shotgun shells. Before he could decide what to do with the information, the hunters arrived back at the cabin. John brawled with the one hunter who had more mass and weight on him. Caleb, who was only twenty-five at the time, made the ultimate mistake and shot the man. That meant that the other hunter had to die as well. John had taken the gun from Caleb and shot the other hunter at point blank range. John had never hightailed quicker out of a hunt before.
"I'm fine. I only killed that man to protect Caleb." He took a sip of his coffee. "What do you think Bobby would have done if he were there? He would have shot the fucker too. We protect our own, Jim."
"You killed an innocent man, John. You can't tell me that it's all right. Caleb is a wreck."
"That wasn't my first rodeo," he snapped. "Want to know how many innocent people I killed in 'Nam?"
"That was in the context of war!"
John let out a bitter chuckle as he gathered his papers and map together. Running a hand through his dark locks, he could no longer look at the pastor. Things were black and white to Jim Murphy. John understood that there was no black and white. Everything was a hazy shade of gray.
"The hunting gig is one big war, Jim," he commented before draining the dregs of his coffee. "We battle supernatural creatures instead of invading countries."
"I don't doubt it's a battle, but I would hardly constitute it as a war." The pastor sighed heavily. "You killed a man, John. That is all I am saying. I'm not debating whether you had to or not… I'm merely stating that there is spilled blood on your hands. It is okay to falter in your stride after something so horrific occurs."
John stood up, situating his things underneath his arm. He could remember the horrified look on Caleb's face after he pulled the trigger. The kid had been pale as a ghost and shaking so bad that he could barely stand. Caleb needed time to get over the events that had unraveled. John did not need that time. He dealt with the murder and wanted to move on.
"I get it. Trust me, I get that I took a life. The fact of the matter was, those two hunters jumped the gun on that hunt. They shot an innocent ten-year-old boy! I'll bet my life that it wasn't the first time. If they were still alive, it wouldn't have been the last. There's no room for reckless hunters."
"Caleb was a reckless hunter that night," Jim reasoned. "You going to shoot him too?"
"Dammit, Jim! Caleb's a rookie kid who didn't know how to react in a bad situation!"
"I cannot condone Caleb's actions that night, but I understand that fear drives us to make mistakes. Those hunters that you killed, what if they were just rookies? What if they were not inherently bad people like you deem them to be?"
"They weren't rookies. I did my research. I'd say they were players for at least the last decade."
It had been the first thing he had checked out honestly. The two had a wrap sheet as long as the Mississippi River. Most of the crap they were wanted for was stuff that could be consequences of hunting such as fraud and theft. Then, there was some downright suspicious stuff on their record that disturbed John more than he was willing to admit. Both of them had a history of assault and violence since they were just fifteen years old – long before the hunting inconsistencies appeared on their rap sheets. These two were messed up kids who got mixed into the hunting world. They were dangerous.
"Let me put Bobby on this case in Windom. I would like you to go to Nebraska and see Caleb."
"Caleb's fine," commented John even if he didn't fully believe it. "He just needs time to process everything that happened."
"You and Caleb are like brothers to each other. He views your sons as nephews. You're family to him, John. Right now, he needs you to act like his family. He cannot talk to Irene about this, and he hasn't been in contact with his father for years."
The floorboards creaked and the two hunters shut their mouths immediately. Soon enough, Dean appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. His blonde hair was tousled as a fist rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"Why are you two fighting?" asked Dean.
"We're not fighting, Dean," the pastor said gently with a warm smile.
"Is this about what happened in Pennsylvania?"
"What do you mean?" snapped John harsher than he intended to.
They had avoided telling Dean or Sammy about the events that unfolded in the cabin. The tale was too much for small children; however, it had not stopped Dean from questioning why they high-tailed so quickly out of the state. He knew something dreadful happened but did not press the matter.
"When we first got here, Irene was yelling at you and Caleb about how two hunters died. Then, Caleb just left and we haven't heard from him," reasoned Dean. "Is he going to go to jail?"
John swore under his breath. Dean had big ears and was constantly listening to the adult conversations that occurred. He wanted to be let in on the discussions, wanted to know what was going on. He felt entitled to the information, because he took care of Sammy. The kid already considered himself a hunter in training.
"No, Caleb's not going to jail," the pastor replied. "He just needed some time alone. Killing someone isn't an easy thing to do."
"Who did he kill?"
"Alright, that's enough," commented John. "I need to talk to you. I'm going on a hunt that's about an hour away from here. You and Sammy are going to stay with Pastor Jim. I'll try to be home every night, okay?"
Dean glanced up at his father, a frown etched into his forehead. Instead of arguing, he just nodded his head in the positive and said, "Yes, Sir." John ruffled his hair and smiled down at his eldest.
By the time his gear was packed, Sammy had wandered into the kitchen and was munching on Lucky Charms. John told his youngest to be good and to do everything that Pastor Jim asked of him. The kid wrapped his arms around his father's neck and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek before turning his attention back to his beloved cereal.
John clapped a hand onto Dean's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. He told his eldest to be good and to watch out for his brother. The kid merely nodded and told his father to be careful.
The ride to Windom was a boring ride without his two boys chatting up a storm. They usually played car games, told stories, fought, asked their father a million questions. They were a source of entertainment that John had taken for granted during car rides.
Upon entering Windom, John pulled over when he found the nearest pay phone. Digging through his pockets, he popped in a few coins and punched in a familiar Nebraska area code. It rang for several seconds before a familiar voice answered on the other end.
"Hey, Caleb, it's John."
"What do you need?"
Clenching the phone in his hand, he leaned against the booth and closed his eyes. There was no doubt in his mind that he might have been dead or seriously injured if Caleb hadn't stepped in when he did while they were in Pennsylvania. He owed him something.
"Nothin'. I'm just callin' to see if you're alright."
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Jim seems to think you need to talk about what happened." John glanced around the area. "If you need help, don't be too prideful to ask for it. Are we clear, kid?"
"I killed a man, Johnny. It's not just something you forget."
"I know what it feels like."
"Monsters, ghosts, anything supernatural… that's easy. It's barely a kill, man. I watched the life leave those guys eyes. I did that."
"They weren't good people, Caleb. They were monsters in their own right." John glanced out of the phone booth and watched two small boys running hand-in-hand towards the park across the way. "I'm in Windom on a hunt. Why don't you get your ass out here and help me out so I can get home to Jim's at a decent hour to see my kids."
Caleb Lyons had three weaknesses: his niece and the two Winchester boys. He would go to the ends of the earth for them. The one thing he needed now more than ever was to be around people who cared for him and wanted to help him through his rough patch.
"I'm fine, dude. I don't need a hunt or a babysitter. Look, I got to go. I'm doing some research for Bulldog."
Bulldog was Caleb's affectionate name for Bobby Singer who had been his mentor when he entered the hunting world. He claimed that the older hunter not only looked like a bulldog but also had the same temperament of one. The nickname was not well received by the owner. In fact, it only took one moment of Sammy barking at Bobby to make the hunter smack Caleb across the back of the head. The name was never uttered in front of him again. Whenever Caleb, Dean, and Sam were at Bobby's house, they would whisper barks at one another. Sometimes, just sometimes, John felt like he had three sons and not two.
"I bet it's just busy work," commented John. "You need to get back in the saddle and go on a hunt. You're one of the few people I trust to go hunting with me, so you should take that as a compliment and get your sorry, scrawny ass out here."
"As delicately as you put that, Johnny, I already told you I'm busy. You want to get me out of Bulldog's thigh-high shit work, then call him and bitch. Until then, I got ancient texts to go through and answer his pop quizzes."
"You know very well that Bobby and I are like oil and vinegar. I'm not askin' him for shit if I can help it. Come out to Jim's when you're done. We're staying with him until at least Dean's birthday and then heading out. Dean's been dying to see you."
"I'm sure he is. I'll bring him the best issues of my skins magazines for his big one-one."
John snorted but didn't say anything about the skin magazines. Dean would get his hands on them one way or another. Caleb would make sure of that. There was no doubt in his mind that Dean was going to take after Caleb when he got older: a smartass, sex-crazed, cocky hunter. Although neither would ever admit it, Dean secretly idolized the hunter he viewed as a big brother.
Bidding his goodbye, John hung up the phone. Flipping through he phone book, he found the local police station and jotted down their address before heading back to the Impala.
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Dean stood on the front porch with his arms propped on the railing outside of Pastor Jim's ranch house. Sammy was running around the front lawn jumping in the snow like a rabbit. Childish squeals escaped his lips as he hopped around. The kid could entertain himself easier than anyone Dean had ever met in his life.
"DEAN! Look how high I can go!"
He jumped as high as his little legs would let him. The snow crunched underneath his boots. Eventually, he pushed himself too hard and went tumbling into the snow face first. Dean let out a laugh and asked if his brother was okay.
The kid struggled into a sitting position, snow covering his messy curls. His hat had disappeared off his head. His cheeks were growing increasingly pink as snow tickled his eyelashes. Except, Dean was no looking at his brother anymore. He was watching as a black pickup truck pulled into the driveway.
The door opened to reveal two men in leather jackets and worn jeans. Straightening up, Dean knew immediately they were hunters. They had that weathered, worn look about them. Their eyes held knowledge of death and monsters. It was the same haunted look that his father possessed when he was on a job or talking of a job.
"Hey, kid, we're lookin' for a Jim Murphy," the one man announced as they made their way to the porch. "You his kid?"
"Who wants to know?" demanded Dean with narrowed eyes.
"Dean!" Sammy gasped out as he ran as fast as he could through the piles of snow to his big brother. "Dean, we're not 'posed to talk to strangers."
He scrambled up the stairs, squeezing past the two men. His mittens wrapped around his big brother's arm. Sammy tugged on his arm a few times, his eyes desperate for him not to say anything else. Anyone who knew Dean, Sam included, understood that he didn't know when to keep his mouth shut.
"Is this Murphy's house, kid?" the other man snapped.
"Are you deaf? I asked who wants to know," challenged Dean.
Before another word could be spoken, the front door opened to reveal the pastor. Immediately, Sammy made a beeline for Jim. Dean stood his ground, not moving an inch from his original spot. He wanted nothing more than to seek comfort in the pastor, relieved that he appeared when he did. Except, he knew not to show any weakness in front of hunters. That was the first thing Caleb taught him.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" Jim inquired in a cheery tone as a hand rested on Sammy's shoulder.
"Yeah, you see we're friends with Jacob Everett and Kevin Rhodes – or should I say we were?"
Dean glanced behind him, eyes staring intently on the pastor as though waiting for him to confirm the suspicions that he had for the past month: Pennsylvania had become deadly and that's why they hightailed out of there so quickly. Except, if the pastor knew anything, he didn't let it show on his face. This only made Dean narrow his eyes, concentrating on the lines of his face. Pastor Jim had the worst poker face.
"I've heard of them," the older hunted admitted. "Although, I fear under the most dire circumstances. Dean, Sam, why don't you boys go instead for a bit?"
Sammy reached out his hand towards his big brother, his eyes wide as they darted from the strangers to Dean. The older boy held his ground for a few seconds, sizing up the hunters that had arrived. Slowly, he backed up and gripped his brother's hand into his own. They disappeared into the ranch house.
Immediately, Dean inched towards the front window and carefully slid it upward so that it was open just a sliver. Sammy tugged his brother's arm, his lips twisted in a frown.
"Dean," he whispered loudly, "we're not 'posed to eardrop!"
"Shh," was his only reply.
Sammy began to protest again when Dean grabbed the boy by the waist with one hand and the other closed over his mouth. He held his baby brother close to his chest and they crouched down in front of the window.
"Now, I find it interesting that you got a boy named Dean here. 'Cause, we did our research into our friends' deaths. Apparently, the woods where they were hunting, a kid named Dean Winchester got shot. Also heard his daddy is a player."
"The Winchesters are good friends of mine. It is true that Dean was shot in those woods. That's why I contacted Irene Lyons. I wanted to see if there was anyone in the area who could take over the hunt," Pastor Jim replied in an even tone.
Dean narrowed his eyes, wishing more than anything he could ask questions about what had been going on since he got shot. His dad and the pastor talked in hushed tones late at night discussing how to deal with the situation at hand. More than once, he slipped out of the spare bedroom and listened to the conversations about how he had been shot by a reckless hunter and somehow his dad and Caleb found out where they were staying. In the end, the two other hunters had died by their hands.
From what he gathered, Caleb's sister-in-law Irene had discovered their whereabouts. She had not emerged into the hunting world when her husband was killed like Caleb had. She took a more subtle approach and operated much like Pastor Jim did. They researched and helped hunters but rarely hunted themselves.
Dean couldn't help but worry about what had happened in Pennsylvania since a month later the topic was still being discussed and scrutinized. Now, two strange hunters found out where they were staying and asking questions.
"We did our research on John Winchester. A lot of people say he's hard to work with, hard to get along with. They say he's as stubborn as a mule and is Satan in a Sunday hat," the hunter continued. "Wanna hear my theory?"
"I have a feeling you'll tell me even if I politely decline," the pastor replied coolly.
"I think Winchester killed our friends, because he thinks they shot his son."
Underneath his grasp, Dean felt his kid brother start to shake at the words. Several seconds later, fresh tears connected with the hand that was rested against Sammy's mouth. Tightening his grip around the kid's midsection, he planted a reassuring kiss on his messy head of curls. Except, Sammy didn't stop shaking in his grasp.
"I cannot argue with you that John is a hard hunter to work with. I believe that is because he lacks trust in people. I can assure you, however, that John was beside himself with worry. He was at the hospital twenty-four sev-"
"Our friends were murdered the night that kid got released," the other hunter snapped. "What's your new excuse for him?"
"I can understand your suspicions, Mister…"
"Mister None-of-Your-Damn-Business! You tell Winchester that I want to talk to him! Tell him he should probably thank you for covering his dead ass!"
It sounded as though the hunters descended down the porch steps. Standing up, dragging Sammy with him, Dean peered out of the window to see his suspicions were correct. He let his kid brother slip from his grasp and quickly closed the window shut tight. Then, he grabbed his brother's hand and led him into the bedroom. The last thing he needed was for Pastor Jim to see Sammy crying and know they had been listening to the conversation.
Author's Notes – I hope that you enjoyed the first chapter Please, leave a review and let me know how you liked the first chapter! :) Since you're all going to review, I am going to give you a fun story fact. If this was filmed for television, "Revolver" by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan would totally be played in the background during the flash forward part of the story.