[personal profile] sinandcinnamon
Oh, hey. I wrote something, and it's not Buffy related, and it's gen. Crazycakes.

So, a while back, [livejournal.com profile] rivestra wrote a lovely bit of werewolf angst: Steel on Shadow and then [livejournal.com profile] varkelton followed up with Sam's POV in Descent into Shadow and I was immediately smitten with the idea of doing John's story.

Title: Shadow Stains My Heart
Fandom/Pairing: Supernatural, gen
Rating/Warnings: Um, gen. Also, angsty and kinda dark. Reading the previous pieces is probably not required, but I definitely recommend it; and the story jumps around in the timeline.
Beta Love: Many thanks to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] snarkgoddess for going over this and giving me lots of great feedback. I couldn't follow every suggestion, but this is a better piece for her efforts... any remaining flaws are mine.



John studied his hands, still resting on the steering wheel, and tried to summon up the
energy to go inside. The slow ticking of the cooling engine counted out the passage of
the night in uneven strokes, the only noise beyond the sough of his own breath. He
remembered when the end of a hunt left him – not happy, never that. Content, maybe.
There had been a sense of satisfaction, a bit of pride in knowing he'd made something
right. Now he only felt an ever-growing weariness. He looked at the flickering light the
television painted against the window, knowing what waited for him inside, and tried not
to let that weariness bloom into despair. It was a long time before he opened the door.

Dean was asleep on the rented sofa when John made his way in, an old black and white movie
washing over his peaceful face in waves. Part of him filled with sudden, bitter yearning –
John missed his sons, the chipped but unbroken sense of family that had kept him sane on
the Hunter's road he couldn't help but follow. He was away more and more these days,
telling himself that Dean was older now, that it was okay to spend more time hunting. On
nights like this, when the empty road never seemed to end, John ached for that
companionship. He missed his sons, damned if he didn't.

The larger part of him was relieved, though it sickened him to admit it. Even if Dean had
been awake, waiting to talk... well, things were different these days.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Dialing with slowing fingers, John eyed the row of change on the shelf, counting and
calculating while the pay phone drilled its distant call in his ear. A few minutes later
and he was hanging up again, biting back the urge to slam the handset back into the cradle.
Another call to a number in an increasingly worn black book, another stumble through facts
he'd related too many times tonight, another dead end tasting like ash and pity in his
mouth. He closed his eyes against the failures, breathing deep to stave off tears. When
he had hold of himself again, he found the next number and made another call.

The quarters dwindled, the sucking maw of despair swallowing his hope with every favor he
tried to call in, every increasingly unlikely source he tried to tap. At last there was
nothing more he could do; his vague reflection in the shelf was still pocked by a
scattering of coins, but there was no one left to call.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Dean's voice was muffled, but John didn't hear anyone else in the pauses. He eased the
door forward carefully, listening as the words came clear.

“So that'd make y 17,” Dean said, and John's confusion remained. There was the sound of
flipping pages, and a sigh. “Except this says it's 8. You probably already knew that,
though, bet you were laughing when I screwed it up... always were so much better at this
than me.”

Anger surged up in John with the realization, and he slammed the door shut behind him,
walking into the room. “What are you doing, Dean?” he asked, his voice quiet and cold.
Dean looked up in surprise, his face going a little pink, his mouth open. The other one
didn't move; John knew it wasn't shocked by his entrance, had heard him and scented him
long before he said a single word. The math book was open in Dean's lap, and John glared.

Didn't Dean get it by now? There wasn't going to be any miraculous cure. Sam wasn't
going to suddenly turn back into the boy he'd been, was never going to try out for track
or ask a girl to the dance or study for a fucking math test. Sammy was dead, for all that
he was still breathing, his whole life snuffed out, snatched away by an animal that John
hadn't been able to put down fast enough. To hear this, see this... this parody of
normality... John saw red.

Dean was still opening his mouth to offer up some flimsy excuse, but John had had enough.
“I don't want to hear one more word,” he growled out, stalking over to snatch up the
offending book, holding on to his temper so he didn't cuff Dean one as he did it. “You've
got so much extra time on your hands, you can get outside and split some of that wood.”

The surprised dismay on Dean's face was twisting into a resentful anger that John was
seeing more and more often. He got slowly to his feet and John stood wary, wondering if
this would be the time when that sullen mulishness flared from embers into open defiance.
He could feel those other eyes on them, but he refused to glance towards the cage, keeping
all of his attention on Dean. “Now!” he barked when Dean did nothing more than glare,
pretending a confidence in the command he no longer felt.

Dean left, simmering but silent, and the echo of the axe filled the air soon after. What
was left of Sam just watched him through the bars; breathing a little faster, maybe, but
with eyes John found impossible to read anymore. “This isn't going to happen again,” he
said, unsure whether he was talking to it or just assuring himself. He just hoped it was
true. There was a time he would have been certain, when he knew Dean would follow orders
straight into Hell if that was what had to be done. This thing with Sammy, though... it
was fucking them both up, making John second-guess everything, doubt what he knew.

It was wrong for Dean to be so attached, to act like that thing was his little brother,
but wasn't John guilty of the same? He knew the creature needed to be put down; it was
more evident with every passing day. Months with not even the hint of a solution, and
deep down, he'd admitted there was none to be found. He still kept up the pretense of
searching, though, researching ever more dubious connections while his cowardice covered
up the truth in his heart.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

John looked away while the dealer flicked cursorily through the cash, wishing for the
thousandth time that there was another way to do this. He couldn't help but notice
there was a kid again this time, a runaway in stained layers of clothing, higher than a
kite on whatever they'd just scored and unaware of anything beyond the transient, chemical
escape flooding their veins. In some other life, would that have been Sam? Dean?

The thought of either of his boys falling victim to one of these predators put a sour taste
in the back of his throat, the irony of his purchase not escaping him. John hated
supporting men like this, passing on the poison they dealt, never sure what it might be cut
with, but what choice did he have? Drugs like this just weren't in a Hunter's arsenal.
His usual avenues of supply were great for holy water and firepower, but pharmaceuticals?
Not really much call for that.

The money was hard to part with. Without the freedom of travel he'd had before, it was
harder for John to get by, the risk in running scams getting higher and other opportunities
getting scarcer. In the beginning he'd been able to five-finger some of the over-the-counter
stuff, but Sam was way beyond that now.

John's fingers tightened. Sam needed this... they all did, didn't they? How else could they
sleep at night?

John looked away from the drifting teen, took the bag without meeting the dealer's eyes.
Didn't deny he'd be back for more even as the acid burned his tongue, knowing a junkie's
desperation and already trying to figure out how to afford the next fix.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The bullets rolled smoothly against the nicked Formica, the cool gleam of moonlight
sliding over them so effortlessly that they seemed to be standing still with the counter
drifting on its own below them. John tipped back the glass and then refilled it even as
he picked one up to weigh with his fingers. There was most of a box there, far more than
he'd need, but it had seemed to make sense at the time. John tried to remember if he'd
planned on using the rest... hunting down weres, maybe, trying to find some cold consolation
in revenge. He didn't remember now. Maybe he just hadn't wanted to count out his youngest
son's death in special order silver.

John remembered firing the ones that weren't in the box, wondering if the gun might move
differently in his hands. It hadn't, and that seemed wrong, as wrong as every other thing
in this whole fucking mess. He'd known then that he couldn't do it, couldn't put a bullet
in the head of the baby he'd sung to sleep, and fuck him if that meant living like a
prisoner to the monster in the next room, but that was his boy in there. Not
untouched, not innocent anymore... the evil was in his blood, and John wasn't fool enough
to trust the beast that moved in his son's body... but he couldn't kill him - it, them -
either.

It was tearing their family apart. John could feel it, sharp and slow. Dean was barely
talking to him these days. Something dark was building there, and John wasn't sure how
much longer it would stay buried before it broke free. He knew he was gone too much, but
hunting was the only escape he had these days. This place was as much a cage as the bars
in the other room, the air fetid with grief, exhaustion, resentment... even the liquor
couldn't blot it out entirely.

And... maybe it would be a mercy. Sam was under so much of the time, the god-damned,
thrice-blessed drugs keeping reality a hazy dream. John didn't think Sam knew how long
it'd really been, but surely that kind of existence would drive him mad eventually...
whatever was left of him, anyway. The beast was already a mad thing, a raw obscenity
poured into his little boy and hungry for violence, for blood. What must that be doing
to Sammy, if he could feel it even a little?

John's fingers combed through the bullets, the metal touching with low, chiming thuds.
It wasn't the first night he'd gotten drunk and tried to talk himself into doing what he
knew he had to do. He was unsteady enough that he wouldn't try it now... but it felt
closer. Whiskey-clumsy hands shuttled the shining bullets back into their cardboard
prison.

It felt very close now.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Jesus, there was so much blood. It was nearly black in the dim light, a spreading
inkblot that was panic in John's pulse, horror in his thoughts. Never should have
happened, not to Sammy... What had they even been doing out of the car? John cleaned the
wound with grim determination, his hands steady even as the turmoil of his mind cycled
viciously.

He shouldn't have brought them, but he hated the fear on their faces when he left them
behind, their eyes brightened with blinked-back tears. Kids their age shouldn't have to
be alone in the night in some cheap motel room, haunted by the uncertainty of their only
parent's return. Sometimes there was no choice, and the guilt spread through him even as
he followed the trail of some monster, but he tried to bring them with him when he could.

It should have been safe.

The bite was ugly, the flesh torn and tattered and difficult to piece back together with
the needle. John knew the night's images would be keeping him from sleep for long nights
to come. Please, let this be the worst of it. He was sure, almost sure, had to be sure...
John told himself that he'd gotten there in time. The deep wells left behind by the bite
would scar, but they'd heal. The taint of its mouth had to have been washed away by all
blood Sam had lost, had to. It would be alright, somehow it would.

John couldn't let himself believe anything else.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

He remembered everything about the night he'd lost Mary with a cruel, crystalline clarity.
Everyone had told him that time would heal the wound – meager comfort in the days that
followed and a lie as well. The years had yet to blunt the pain of losing her; the sound
of her voice and the scent of her hair were still vivid, the bone deep yearning of missing
her still as strong as it had ever been. John knew his heart would never be whole again,
not even when he caught the thing that had taken her.

This would be just the same. A man couldn't take a gun to his own flesh and blood and come
out untouched. John loved his children fiercely; they were all he had in this world, the
only thing that he could hold onto, and he was going to kill one. Premeditated. Planned
with the same cold attention to detail he'd give any hunt, as if this wasn't Sammy, as if
taking the life of his youngest son wasn't the hardest thing he'd ever do.

The knowledge alone – realizing that he could and would go through with it at last - was
Hell enough for a thousand sins. What kind of man was he, to be able to do such a thing?
It would break him, John knew it, sunder his heart with the same poisoned blades that had
cut into him when he lost his wife.

What kind of man would he be, though, to leave Sammy living like this?

It was a travesty, an abomination. John saw both of them in those watchful eyes: the
sweet soul of his son and the wicked hunger of the creature that had taken him, eager to
rend and devour if their caution slipped the tiniest bit. No child should have to live
with something like that inside, its filth and corruption feeding on the misery, the
malignancy spreading like a slow cancer.

They kept him in a cage, for God's sake; that wasn't a life. John hated to think of
what Sam had suffered through, hoped that the haze of the sedatives had spared him some
of it. No, it was time to end this, and if John had to sacrifice one of the only good
things left to him in this life, well... that was a father's duty, wasn't it? To give
up everything if you had to. He wouldn't leave his boy trapped in this hell any longer.

He got out and approached the cabin. One more night. He'd spend tonight sober, soaking
in what little family he had left, steeling his heart against the pain to come. Maybe
he could come up with some reason to get Dean out of the place tomorrow – send him on
some errand and spare him what was coming. Things had been so difficult between them,
their worries and fears for Sammy transmuting into rebellion and demands; John would
have to be careful. He wasn't certain what Dean would do if he suspected. He couldn't
count on his loyalty, not when it came to Sam... Dean didn't see clearly when it came
to his brother, never had.

John hardened himself. Showing the tenderness he felt would only tip his hand.

Tomorrow, he'd change things between them. Take care of the body before Dean got back,
comfort him when realization struck. John would hold him through the tears, the rage
that was sure to follow. Dean was all he would have left... and John was all Dean would
have, once Sam was gone. He'd come back to John, free of the weight that Sam's curse
had put on his shoulders.

He'd be a good son again, eventually. And if John had to make him stay at first, had to
soothe him through the unwarranted anger his brother's death might bring, well. He'd do
whatever he had to. Dean was so needy, for all that he tried to hide it. In the heat
of the moment, he might do something rash, might try to leave... but he'd regret it.

No, John thought. Dean needed him more than ever. John might have failed to save Mary,
might have failed to save Sam, but he wouldn't fail Dean.

It wouldn't be easy. He might have to force Dean to stay until he got better. John was
strong, though. It might hurt them both, but he'd make sure Dean couldn't leave. The
drugs would help. Sammy wouldn't need them anymore, but Dean? Dean would be hurting...
be grieving. Grief could do funny things to you. What kind of father would he be if he
didn't do whatever it took to take that pain away?

Just until Dean got better.








If you want something a little happier to climb out of the dark with, you can go on to [livejournal.com profile] varkelton's In the Shadow of Hunger. Also, um, I have no idea where to post this. Community suggestions, anyone?
From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

sinandcinnamon

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
161718 19202122
23242526272829
30      

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 04:40 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios