Characters: John, Bobby
Word Count: 5100
Rating: R (language)
Warnings: Spoilers through “The Girl Next Door”; however, the story goes AU from canon from Season 6X16.
Author's Notes: This story follows Onstermay, Clean Slate, Killing Time, and Backseat Driver in my resurrected!John verse.
Author’s note: In this ‘verse, John Winchester has inexplicably been resurrected and is trying to adjust to a whole new world and his ever-changing relationship with Sam and Dean. This story begins in mid-season 6, when Eve was still in the picture, and continues as an AU through 7X03.
I am so grateful to callistosh65 for being such a wonderful beta. And thank you to saberivojo for her loyalty to John and her reminders to me to give the poor guy a break sometimes.
Summary: After discovering the truth about Adam, John takes off, determined to rescue Adam on his own. Months later, he tries to re-establish contact with Dean and Sam, but their numbers have been disconnected.
There couldn’t have been a bigger red flag because if there was one thing he drilled into his boys, it was that you don’t cut off your lines of communication.
Castiel tells him about Adam.
John Winchester has never trusted a monster in his life, and really, angels are just a coin’s flip away from demons, which makes them monsters in his book. He wasn’t planning to trust this one, but something in those unblinking eyes lets John know he’s telling the truth. It would take one hell of an imagination to make shit like this up.
John doesn’t have a chance to ask why the angel is telling him all this and obviously backstabbing Dean and Sam who had clearly intended that John never find out. But he doesn’t exactly leave room for questions. As soon as the story is finished, Castiel is gone.
And John is left alone, sucker-punched by a fucking angel in a dilapidated trucker’s bar outside of Gary, Indiana.
After downing the remaining fifth of Jack, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and reaches for the phone in his pocket. Turns it off without hesitation. Sam will be calling soon, just checking in, and John doesn’t want to talk him right now. Sam never likes when John goes off drinking. Doesn’t like it when Dean goes off drinking either. A couple of days ago, Sammy had griped that the two of them should go off and get drunk together. At least they could watch each other’s back that way. But John knows full well that Dean would never get drunk with someone he didn’t trust to watch his back, and that’s the problem in a nutshell.
John isn’t in the running for father-of-the-year—he knows that. He’s made his choices when it comes to his boys, and for the most part, he doesn’t have any regrets. Keeping Sam and Dean alive has been his life’s work, so training them to be warriors was a no-brainer. He would do the same thing again and again, if he had a hundred lives to live.
But John knows now that he never did right by Adam.
So he orders another shot of whiskey. It’s only liquid courage and it won’t last, but he needs it. He can feel the cold of what Castiel told him in the marrow of his bones.
The truth is that John hasn’t let himself think about Adam much since he came back from the dead. He’d actually been relieved there was no news from Windom, Minnesota. No news was good news when it came to his second family.
When it came to his own boys, no news usually meant someone was bleeding out.
It had been cheap faith to allow himself to believe Adam and Kate were safe in their little house where he’d last visited them, months before he’d died. He’d told himself that neglecting them after he came back from the dead was an act of strategic kindness.
Poor Adam, poor kid. John never really knew Adam, but he loved him as best as he could. But not enough, as it turns out. The boy only got the leftovers, whatever he could spare from Dean and Sam. He doesn’t know how he can do this. Is he going to fail Adam in death the way he failed him in life?
The bartender startles him by asking gently, “Sir? Are you all right?”
But he just motions her away and scrubs his hands over his eyes. He’s got to fix this. This is all on him. He can’t drag his boys into it with him. The hell-wall in Sam’s head is barely intact as it is. The last thing Sammy needs is to get anywhere near Lucifer’s cage. There’s no way Dean would even allow it—he’s so goddamn protective of anything that could possibly trigger Sam. They are still neck-deep, trying to keep up with Eve’s new monster-of-the-day, and the last thing the boys need is another distraction. It makes sense they split up. Dean and Sam focus on killing Eve; he will focus on rescuing Adam.
John realizes he can’t go back to the motel. He hates leaving what little gear he’s accumulated, but he can’t take a chance on returning and having them talk him out of it. He’d rather piss them off than worry them. He has always known he should have told them they had a brother.
He truly believes Dean could have saved Adam.
“Look after Sammy” would have translated perfectly into “look after your brothers” if only Dean had known there was an extra brother to look after. Dean kept Sam alive against all odds—it’s not like he would have ever let a pair of ghouls take Adam out.
He doesn’t blame them for not telling him what happened. It’s not like he can threaten them with, “You lose a brother to the depths of Hell, you fucking call me!” No. He blew it. Baseball games and an occasional camping trip do not a good father make.
Shit. John is really, really drunk. He leaves a tip on the bar, staggers through the door and out into the night. He reels with the knowledge that this is all on him.
God help him, John didn’t teach the boy to hunt…
TWO MONTHS LATER
It’s hard not to let his imagination get the best of him, but there is nothing like the stench of ruin to make you think the worst. And the Singer salvage yard is still smoldering. There is no way anyone inside the house could have survived a fire that ran this hot, which is why John knows that his boys were not inside that house.
His boys don’t die by fire. Not in this life anyway. Missouri told him that. She said they wouldn’t go by fire, but maybe by ice. She couldn’t tell him more…she was breaking some “psychic code” just by telling him that. She also told him not to shoot the messenger.
John fervently wishes he’d kept in touch with Missouri. He could use her right about now. He stares at what remains of Bobby’s house. Dean and Sam walked away from this, and John is going to find them.
The problem is they aren’t answering their phones. They haven’t been for the past week, which is when John first tried contacting them. It’s fucking ironic is what it is. All his life, he has always been a day late, a dollar short. There’s no good reason why this resurrected life should prove to be any different.
For two months, he has tried his damndest to find a way to rescue Adam, but his resources are severely limited. It’s not like he’s part of any old boys’ network, not any more. Every hunter he has ever trusted is either dead or would gladly put a bullet in his head for bringing Lucifer’s vessel into the world. They always ignore the fact that Sam sacrificed himself to save the whole fucking world. Hunters are myopic that way. Once a monster, always a monster.
With all his bridges burned, he’s got nothing left to try but the crossroads, and that is the one boundary he won’t cross. Not again. He can’t do that to Dean and Sam—no more deals with a crossroads demon.
Even without going to the crossroads, he “persuaded” a couple of low-ranked demons to talk. Most of their intel seemed sketchy, and they were very clearly bottom feeders. The first demon fed him a story about Castiel going darkside and sucking souls out of Purgatory. John didn’t give the story much credit until a second demon told him the same damn thing. Demons love to talk when they’re pissed.
But none of the demons could tell him how to get Adam out of Lucifer’s cage. They shuddered at the very idea.
Out of leads and out of ideas, John finally broke down and called Sam’s cell. When he found it was disconnected, he tried Dean’s. Also out of service. There couldn’t have been a bigger red flag because if there was one thing he drilled into his boys, it was that you don’t cut off your lines of communication. Even years ago while closing in on Azazel, John still checked his messages. If his boys disconnected their phones, they better have a damn good reason to do so. And that was why John headed straight back to Bobby’s to find out what the hell was going on.
But he found nothing. Nothing but the burned-out wreck of Bobby’s house.
Running his hands over his stinging eyes, John tries to figure out what he should do next. He’s been running on little more than convenience store coffee for days now, and it is muddling his thinking. He needs to think without distractions. Needs to focus. Something did this—someone? John has heard through the grapevine that Eve is dead. Some retired hunter in Ohio told him that his boys had ganked her. John asked him if he was sure, but the guy insisted his source had never let him down.
If anyone can save the world on an off day, it’s Sam and Dean. At the time, it had reassured John he was doing the right thing, leaving them to it. But now he’s not so sure. He wracks his brain, trying to remember what Sam had said in some of the last messages he’d sent.
He’d deleted most of them after his voice mail filled up. He’d listened to them first—Sam apologizing for not telling him about Adam, asking him to come back, arguing that they could all figure it out together. There were a couple bald-face attempts to guilt him into coming back so he could help them with Eve.
The last few messages were mostly about Dean—never from Dean. Sam said that Dean was killing himself over this, destroying his liver, grieving Lisa and Ben. That John was making it so much worse. John had no doubt that his oldest son was pissed with him, but Dean would just have to get over that.
Sam’s final message had been classic Sam.
Dad? I just wanted to say….go fuck yourself. Sir.
After that, there were no more calls from either of his boys.
John pulls out his phone and tries calling Bobby again. Singer’s number hasn’t been disconnected. It goes straight to voice mail, which gives John hope that Bobby is still checking his messages.
Grimly, John waits for the beep. “Singer. Call me, goddamnit.” He shoves the phone back in his pocket.
He decides to do another perimeter check before he heads back into town to start interviewing potential witnesses—he figures he’ll start with the county hospital and then move on to local law enforcement.
Kicking still-burning scraps of rubber out of the way, John carefully looks for evidence. The house took the worst of it. Many of the cars in the yard are completely unscathed. Absent-mindedly, John wonders if Bobby’s demon shelter is still there, buried under all that rubble and ash. He can still remember when Bobby built the damn thing. At the time everyone gave him shit for it, needling Bobby for being a paranoid sonofabitch. Yet, from what he’s been told, Bobby was right. For every cent he put into that fortified room, it paid its way.
It makes John a little sick, jut thinking about it. He has heard how Sam agonized through demon blood withdrawal in that room, but John can’t think about that right now. His son is a soldier—they both are. John is counting on that to get them through this, whatever the hell this is. They were trained to use every tool in their arsenal, and John has no doubt that wherever his boys are, they’re fighting back hard. The three of them…they are all Winchesters, and they have come back from Hell before.
Except for Adam. Because Adam was a Milligan. John never gave the boy his name. He’s never been one to waste time looking back with regrets, but there is no way he can claim that his eyes are tearing up only from smoke.
Near the front gate, he hesitates next to a car that still attached to the crane. There is something wrong with the way the job was left, half finished like that. He nudges the junker with the toe of his boot, and it doesn’t so much as creak. He crouches down next to it but isn’t even sure what he’s looking for.
John is brushing dirt off his jeans, when he sees the blood on the ground. It’s not much blood, just a small spatter, and it almost blends in with the reddish dirt. He starts working his way out from the car, and he spots more several feet away. Of course, it could belong to anyone. But gut-deep, John knows who that blood belongs to.
Sam and Dean have to come first. Afterwards, he will save Adam.
If the pattern fit better, John would suspect a kitsune was loose at Sioux Falls General Hospital. But it’s not just brains that the victims are missing—most of the bodies have all internal organs completely gone, and the bite marks don’t resemble any kitsune attack he’s seen before.
The hospital staff isn’t much help—obviously, they’ve already been warned about lawsuits. Most of the unexplained deaths are being blamed on a rogue doctor who disappeared a few days ago. One vaguely traumatized nurse suggested to John that he suspected the internist of having some kind of psychotic break. He claimed the doctor had mutilated patients before he’d skipped town. Other hospital staff said the doctor was a nice guy—good with patients, a family man.
Yet, the best information comes from an orderly who worked the night shift. She described that same internist, by all accounts a decent guy, as suddenly turning into an asshole, classic Jekyll and Hyde. And there was that hungry gleam in the doctor’s eyes… and she could swear she saw the doctor take a bite out of Mr. Henderson, who had died of congestive heart failure the day before.
John asked her to be more specific about doctor’s eyes, but the orderly swore they weren’t black. They were just strange. Wrong. Nothing the orderly could pin down…but John would never discount a bad feeling. Goosebumps have been known to save lives.
John tugs at his uncomfortable blazer as he sits down in front of the office manager’s computer. He’s looking through files of recently admitted patients, looking for any patient profile that resembles his boys.
He starts with burn victims, but only comes up with a toddler and an unfortunate Starbucks incident. So he widens the search for other trauma patients that have come in over the past week. It doesn’t take long to find what he is looking for.
Less than a week ago, paramedics responded to a 911 call at Singer Salvage. They transported two John Does—both young Caucasian males. One had a leg fracture and mild concussion; the other presented with severe head trauma and suffered a Grand Mal on route.
John briefly closes his eyes and swallows. He can’t think about this like a father. Otherwise, he’s not going to do his boys any good at all. He keeps reading.
A note on the head trauma patient’s chart tells him that the young man disappeared, without being checked out of the hospital. Further inquiry reveals that both patients were last seen in the company of an older man who fit Bobby’s description down to the cheap suit. The guy was last seen fleeing with John Doe number two, still unconscious on a gurney. John takes notes and reassures the technician that he won’t be fired for losing a patient.
Once outside the hospital, John spends a long moment thinking about what he’s going to do next.
John knows one thing for sure—his boys are in trouble. There is no way Bobby would have pulled Sam out of a hospital in critical condition, not to mention risking Dean’s recently casted leg. Whatever chased them out was dangerous. There’s a morgue full of mutilated bodies attesting to that.
It kills him that he is leaving a hospital full of unanswered questions, but for once, John isn’t sacrificing his family for the job.
Finally, Bobby calls him back.
Two days later, they meet up, each parking at either end of a deserted dirt road. Like two washed-up gunslingers, they get out of their stolen trucks and begin the long walk toward this particular showdown. Singer’s got his shotgun in hand—paranoid bastard that he is—but John keeps his own .38 caliber pistol tucked in the waistband of his jeans. It’s not like he needs to wave it around to make his point, although by the grim look on Bobby’s face, John just might need it. Singer may not be a young man, but he’s fast.
John’s not worried. Fast is good, but accurate is better. John rarely loses in a fair fight.
When they are a body’s length apart, they come to a stop. Bobby’s hand rests on his shotgun. “You’ve filled up my voice mail twice.”
John shrugs. “I stopped calling once you answered.”
Bobby scowls at him. “Been a little busy. Saving your boys’ lives and all.”
“I want to see them.”
Bobby shifts his weight and says, “The boys don’t want to see you. Dean put it more strongly than that, but you get the idea. They’ve got enough to worry about.”
“They’re my boys, Bobby. You don’t get to tell me whether I see them or not.” John maintains eye contact. He is not conceding on this.
“It’s their choice. Not mine. But the fact they’re not here should tell you something.”
“So you’re their gatekeeper? How do I even know if you’re passing on my messages?”
Bobby gives John a disgusted look. “I ain’t gonna get in a pissing contest with you. So instead of marking your territory, why don’t you just say your peace and be done with it. I’m taking a big risk, just meeting you out here.”
In frustration, John clenches his fists, but he forces himself to keep his voice steady. “Tell me about Dean’s leg…the x-rays looked bad.”
Bobby looks a little surprised. “It was a bad break, but he didn’t need surgery,” he says. “The idiot took his cast off too soon. But it’s been holding him up all right, so I figure we dodged a bullet with that one.”
We dodged a bullet. It rubs John wrong, but he isn’t taking the bait. “What about Sam? How’s the concussion? Any lasting damage?”
Bobby looks away, but his “screw you” face eases up a little. “It’s hard to tell, what with the Lucifer visitation hours going 24/7. But he’s not eating his gun either. We’re talking about Sam…you know how he is. He’s a tough kid.”
John frowns, trying to catch up. “What are you talking about? What about Lucifer? What the hell is going on?”
“You poor bastard. You don’t know, do you? About Sam?”
Ignoring the shotgun, John steps forward and clenches Bobby’s jacket in his fists. “Tell me what happened, goddamnit. Tell me, or I swear, Singer—”
“Just calm down—got enough drama in my life,” Bobby grumbles, shoving him off. “I just figured you’d know all about this already.”
John steps back, away from the temptation of throttling Bobby. He takes a deep breath. “The goddamn wall fell, didn’t it?”
Bobby doesn’t answer, but then again, he doesn’t really have to.
John scrubs a hand over his face. He is just so tired. “How is he?”
“Like I said already. He’s Sam. He’s surviving.”
John can tell there’s a world of information that Singer isn’t sharing but he focuses on the essentials. “The wall? Did Sam…did Sam bring it down himself?” John has been endlessly worrying about Sam and his infernal curiosity. Really, it was only a matter of time.
But Bobby shakes his head. “Long story short. Castiel did it. He took Sam out of the picture to keep Dean off his trail long enough so he could loot Purgatory. Can’t even blame his god phase for it. Cas was still just Castiel when he did it.”
John wishes it was easier to kill an angel. “And Dean…how’s he handling it?”
“I ain’t gonna lie to you. None of this is easy for Dean.”
John sets his jaw. “Tell me that you killed Castiel for turning on them.”
Bobby looks away. “I didn’t kill him, but we think he’s dead. It’s hard to tell what passes for dead these days.”
“Did Dean kill him?”
Bobby pulls his cap off his head absent-mindedly before tugging it back on again. “It’s more like…he self-imploded. But John…it’s not that simple. Cas just… he lost his way. We still owe him. If Cas hadn’t pulled Sam out of Lucifer’s cage, we wouldn’t have Sam back at all.”
“Cas pulled Sam out?”
Bobby smiles with bitterness that really doesn’t suit him. “It’s what he told us, but it ain’t like he never lied before.”
But it’s the only theory John has heard that makes any sense at all. “He saved Sam but not Adam? Why would he leave—”
“Says he could barely get a grip on Sam, and like Sam told him—Cas did a piss poor job of even that.”
Something is always better than nothing, but John hasn’t seen Sam yet, so he can’t say that for sure.
Bobby continues, “If anything’s left of Castiel, it won’t be like he’ll be doing any more rescue operations.”
“Why do you think he told me about Adam?”
Bobby shrugs. “Wanted to keep you out of the way like Dean. It worked.”
This makes too much sense. His weakness has always been his boys, and it still seems that every supernatural being on the face of the planet seems to know that. And that reminds him of the fact his boys are on the run.
“You were talking about the leviathan….”
Bobby’s mouth tightens. “Oily sons of bitches….so the story goes that God—the real one this time—threw them into Purgatory to curb their appetite. Well, when Cas sucked up all those souls, he sucked them up with them.”
John remembers one of his demon informants getting worked up about the leviathan, but John had just thought the bastard was going all Old Testament in the face of torture. “They’re the ones that torched your place and killed those patients at Sioux General?”
Bobby nods. “They’ve got it out for Sam and Dean, which is why I gotta get back to them.”
“Why go after Sam and Dean?”
Bobby stares incredulously. “Because they’re Sam and Dean. They’d hate you too if they spent any time with you.”
They’re wasting time. “What kills them?”
“Nothing, from what we can tell. Sam dropped a car on one, and it barely slowed him down.”
“Everything has a weakness,” John says, gesturing impatiently.
He is trying to dredge up every fact he has heard about the Leviathan—there isn’t much. They are mentioned a few times in the Torah, which is where they should start before moving on to the Talmud. It’s important to always start from the beginning. If he’s remembering right, the Leviathan were used in the Middle Ages as an image of Satan, mostly because of their insatiable appetites….
“Look, John, I gotta go. I only came to tell you the boys are all right and to warn you that you need to lay low for a while.”
John shakes his head. “I can help. We have to figure out what kills them. Take me to them.”
Bobby says calmly, “Sorry. Can’t do that. Won’t do that.” He taps the barrel of his shotgun on the ground, as if for emphasis.
“I get it. They’re angry,” John says. “But I did what I needed to do.”
“You’re the only one who sees it that way.”
John takes a step forward, but Bobby tightens his grip on his shotgun.
John smiles his slow, dangerous smile. “Take your best shot, Singer. Let’s see what you got.”
Bobby snorts. “I ain’t gonna shoot you. My daddy taught me never to corner something that’s meaner than you are, and you have always been meaner than me. But I sure as hell ain’t taking you to those boys.”
“What right do you have—”
“I’ve got every right. Now, you listen to me. I have no proof that you’re even you. Leviathan like to borrow people, just like demons.”
“I’m not possessed,” John says. “You can test me. What do you need? Salt? Silver?”
“That’s what I keep telling you—we don’t know. Tell you what. You do research. The boys and I will hold up our end. We’ll touch base next week.”
“Fuck you, Singer,” he growls. “They’re my kids. You think you’re better than me, like you’ve got some right.”
Bobby leans forward until he’s close enough that John can smell the whiskey on his breath. “I stuck around. You didn’t.”
“That’s bullshit! I had to find a way to rescue Adam without endangering—”
“Again and again, you left those boys. You let them down, and I’m telling you, they deserve better. They deserve a dad who doesn’t take off the minute they don’t live up to his goddamn expectations.”
“What the hell does that even mean?”
“Castiel told us he told you about Adam. They were both terrified that you’d blame them for not saving him, even though I told them that was a load of crap. But then you had to go and prove me wrong.”
John shakes his head. “That’s not how it was.”
Bobby glowers at him. “So it was all a misunderstanding? You didn’t mean to turn off your phone, not even tell them where you were going? What happened to Adam is tragic. But it’s not Sam and Dean’s fault. They did everything to try and do right by that boy. If you try and make those boys feel any worse than they already do, I swear to God, I’ll hunt you and kill you instead.”
John is still trying to make sense of what Bobby is saying. “They think I’m blaming them for what happened to Adam?”
“What else would they think?”
John says shakily, “I never blamed them. Never. Adam had nothing to do with Sam and Dean. I never even told them they had another brother.”
“Yeah and why’s that?”
“I wanted to protect them. All of them. You don’t have to tell me I fucked up!” John turns away and kicks at the loose gravel that covers the road. “This was on me! I’m the one who left Adam and Kate unprotected. I didn’t warn them that there were monsters under their bed that wanted to kill them. The angels would never have gone after Adam, if it weren’t for me. I had to fix it. It was my mess. I had to find a way to get him out.” He runs a hand over his face and turns back to Bobby. “God help me, I tried.”
“Those boys are better hunters than you and I ever were, John. Why didn’t you let them help you?”
John looks away. “I didn’t want them to get hurt.”
“They’re already hurt!” Bobby retorts. “They’re about as hurt as two human beings can be on this damn earth! What exactly were you trying to spare? Their feelings? Or maybe they were just inconvenient.”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” John says in a dangerous voice, and he means it. He’s done.
Bobby looks away. “You were right. I didn’t tell them I was coming to see you.”
“Why the hell not?”
“I didn’t want to hurt them.”
John is impressed by the amount of vitriol the man can infuse in a single word. But he is starting to realize he has no choice. Bobby is the gatekeeper, and John is going to have to pay to get in.
John says, “Look. You don’t even know what you’re up against. Getting another opinion…getting my opinion could be a game changer. Are you really going to risk one of them getting killed, just because you refused to give me a second chance?”
“It would be more like a hundredth chance,” Bobby grumbles, but John can tell he’s softening.
“I’m their father, Bobby.”
“You left them.”
“I came back. I would do anything for them.”
Bobby shakes his head and rests the shotgun against his leg. “I might not be their father, but I was there for them when they needed me.”
“You’ve always been a jealous sonofabitch,” John says. “You don’t turn into their father just because you were around. That’s not how family works.”
“And you’ve always been a selfish bastard….that’s exactly how family works.”
Bobby is going to win this battle. But there is no way that John will lose the war.
“Go back to them. Tell them I’m sorry and I don’t blame them. You know they won’t forgive you if you don’t pass it on.”
Bobby sighs deeply. “John, how times are you gonna break their hearts before I have to put a bullet through yours?”
Bobby doesn’t play fair, but for what it’s worth, John is kind of impressed. If he had known that a second-tier hunter like Bobby Singer would be this kind of pit bull for his boys, John would have tried harder to keep the old man on his side.
“I guess I’ll take my chances. Tell them I want to hunt with them again.”
Bobby smiles ruefully, tugs his cap over his eyes, and then turns to head back to the car.
“You tell them, Singer,” John calls after him.
Over his shoulder, Bobby growls, “Go to hell, Winchester,” but for once, he doesn’t sound like he wants to send John there himself.
John smiles. Bobby will tell them.