This one belongs to John.
Title: Payment Plan - Epilogue IV (This story/arc is now completed!)
Following: Payment Plan 1 - 3 & Epilogues I - III
Rating: R - Gen - Wee! & Teen!Chesters -John POV
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
John had been expecting to find a body.
If he was lucky, maybe an intact body.
He had spoken and behaved as if he wasn't. He even had kept referring to his son in present tense. But he knew deep down that all he would be holding at the end of the night would be a corpse.
He just nodded when Jim talked about the how and whys of purchasing a human being. He just listened to the scumbag they had found in a bar that John knew the contact used for his forays into his 'business'. There were no questions about what happened to the kids this guy found and where and when they vanished into the ether.
Into some stranger's car. Into some stranger's carefully planned deranged and brutal request.
John knew at least that maybe he had stopped that one step from happening. But time was passing quickly. He knew more than most just exactly what people could accomplish in a mere 24 hours. If they didn't make a move to provide cash then someone else would.
It created a chance that Dean wouldn't be taken very far away just yet. However, there was absolutely no reason why this man wouldn't just have shot his boy in the head and just come to collect his money. The mere possibility that this man hadn't murdered his son by now was so remote that he knew he had to push it full speed and on fire until the story played out. The thought of never ever knowing where Dean's body might be made him start to tremble in a way that he knew promised some real true madness behind it. There was no option. He had to find him.
Why he had let Sammy follow him into that warehouse he wasn't quite sure. Maybe some part of him felt as dead as one half of his children already were. Let Sammy see what the world could do to you. To him. To them both. It can take anything you have and crush it. Snuff it out like it was as fragile as one flicker of flame. Treat what is yours like garbage. Everyone had to feel that agony sooner or later. It seemed a good a time as any for his youngest son to learn the lesson that life remorselessly and ruthlessly had to eventually teach you.
But he hadn't found a body in the dark.
When he felt Dean breathing he felt the stowed hope he hadn't let himself know he had. It flooded and overwhelmed him. He felt the heavy black terrible weight crushing his chest just evaporate and vanish. He started breathing again just like his son was in his arms. The colors of the drab gloomy room were sharp and vibrant.
He was alive. Somehow his boy was alive.
When he saw Dean look with hope up into his eyes and ask for him, he saw how greatly and profoundly he had failed this boy. How, after all of this, could his son still believe that his father was what had saved him.
If it weren't for John, his son would have never had one moment of this pain at all.
Dean had clearly been given something.
John guessed some massive dose of an Antipsychotic. Fluphenazine. Thiothixene. Maybe even Haloperidol. The stuff used on manic mental patients to keep them sedate. Quiet. Immobile. Gone. The motel lamps were dim and yellow, casting their shadows along and up all four walls. He laid down his eldest son on the bed and took off the tableside's dusty lampshade for better light.
For the hundredth time that night he thought about how Dean could have started throwing up while he was still restrained. Maybe a few minutes more delay and he'd have found his boy choked on his own vomit instead of breathing and speaking. Thinking and moving. Seeing and hearing. There weren't many minutes that sat between a life and a death. It was all it was really. A series of those strange miracles and disasters of timing.
With a damp wash cloth he wiped away the blood that had dried on his son's face. Head wounds always looked a lot worse than they usually were. The gash on his boy's head was nothing compared to the bleeding it had caused. He could fix that. The bruising on the side of his face wasn't as easy to look at.
He knew that came from a grown man's fist.
John used his son's confused drugged state to his advantage. Over the years he had noticed on more than one occasion his older son had a slightly stubborn streak in and about admitting the extent of his own injuries. The kid had once walked around for a week with a cracked rib before John had even known about it. Another time John had accidentally walked in on him taping a couple of broken fingers together. There were other times. Other worries. Who knew how many that John still had no idea about? With those foreseeable issues in mind, he pushed up his son's T-shirt to check all over for anything else.
He started to undo his jeans but Dean's hands weakly stopped him. The kid wasn't quite a kid anymore and had started shutting bathroom doors and dressing in privacy. But John wasn't real interested in his growing son's modesty right at the moment.
"No.." Dean slurred in a dull panic. "D-don't..."
John realized that Dean still wasn't quite sure where he was. The sound of fear in his son's voice made him go cold. What exactly had that son of bitch done to his boy that would make him afraid of his own father?
"I w-won't yell." Dean dazedly assured him.
John squeezed the hands that were shaking on his, deciding to wait for the rest of the inspection for when Dean wasn't half out of his mind.
In fact, the boy was going in and out with the drugs in a manner that was even making John dizzy. Every now and then his body jerked violently with a start when his unfocused gaze fell on his father. John wondered what exactly his son was seeing. The man that had tortured him? A dark blurry shape of some other stranger? He tried to keep talking to him in a calm tone of voice but whether or not Dean was listening to him was uncertain.
But Dean did seem to keep looking behind John and staring hard at some point just past and above his shoulder. Unsure of the drugs effects or what it exactly caused, John was grateful it distracted his kid enough not to fight him while he poked and prodded him thoroughly. From what he could see, he found nothing besides what looked like typical binding wounds. Circles of bruised skin at the wrists, arms, ankles. Probably the knees too. Surely painful but nothing that wouldn't fade with some time. With a frown, he found one ankle was also swollen purple. He could fix that too. Before he could help himself he half smiled. But there was no humor in it. It was pure pained pride. These thick bands of darkened flesh meant a prolonged struggle.
Dean had tried like hell to get away.
He felt the muscles in his jaw twitch as he clenched his teeth. Breathing slowly, he worked his shaking hands until they stopped. A good amount of time had passed before he felt like he could move again without punching holes into the drywall until he smashed his hands into bloody pieces. With a deep exhale, John turned his attention back to his son.
To his surprise, he saw that the kid appeared to have become somewhat alert. His eyes seemed to be slowly losing that completely confused and lost cast to them. But the steady gaze was locked not on John, but again at the space just behind him. John watched Dean's bruised mouth tug into a tired soft trace of an unexpected smile.
His boy seemed so focused that John wondered if maybe somehow Sammy or Jim had had come into the room without him somehow knowing. He turned his head to look if he had maybe left the door open--
For the briefest moment in the corner of his eye he saw something.
It was a flash of fleeting white. A gentle fall of pale hair. The soft departing subtle shift of air of someone's passage.
Startled, he blinked. There was no one there in the empty motel room with them.
John felt his gut flip.
Getting up swiftly from the bed, he scrubbed at his face and paced the floor for a few minutes. His own edges of exhaustion were finally wearing at him until he was now as thin as a sheet of paper. The full two days of adrenaline pumping and no sleep had really caught up with him. Not only had it caught up with him, it was now savagely taking all of his senses for a joyride. But he had to keep it together for a little while longer. Taking several deep breaths, he refocused on the task at hand.
He looked back at his son who seemed to be now sleeping almost as peacefully as if he'd just dropped off in bed while watching TV. Maybe it was just in John's frayed imagination.
Tugging the dirty T-shirt back down over Dean's chest, he patted the denim clad thigh.
"Let's get you stitched up."
He liked this part of the country that the clergy man claimed as home.
There was something about how the sun shone down through the trees like it was some kind of cosmic greeting card. The sky seemed more blue. The clouds more white. The pines greener and taller. The breeze that flowed through the rolled down windows was sweet as a field of valley flowers and as cool as a mountain high. All of it without some elaborate signature from the All Mighty at the very bottom but a message there nonetheless. Jim had laughed at him when he revealed that once.
The Pastor had gone on to say that if God did indeed leave humanity gifts like a living breathing card, than maybe John was like one too. Maybe everyone was. We were all just a different message or sentiment that was scrawled in our own messy script along our insides. John didn't ask what the clergy man might suppose his message was. Sometimes he didn't think he had it in him to wonder what he'd say it was if he could even write his own--
With a glance up into his rearview, he narrowed his eyes in surprise. The soft metallic thud came again. John settled back into his seat with an appreciative raise of an eyebrow.
He hadn't really expected for the guy to still be alive back there. That trunk was pretty tight and it had gotten fairly warm this week. And all that plastic tarp? He'd used so much to make sure the car didn't reek like road kill in a few days that he had almost not been able to get the trunk lid down. There was another thud. A much louder one. Which was saying something considering it could be heard quite clearly over the rumble of the engine. John was the first to admit that he was a difficult man to impress. But he would also be the first to say that he was a man that admired endurance.
In less than an hour he'd be up into the wilds of the northern nation and swallowed whole by the endless forests. Vanished. Dematerialized. Faded away. He glanced back up in his mirror towards the trunk again.
You needed privacy and isolation to really properly cease to be.
The sun was on his face and the tank was full of gas. For the first time in a week John felt a genuine truly happy smile come to his face.
He really did like this part of the country.