John didn't move, and neither did Dean. His mouth was suddenly dry, and he couldn't get anything out but a quiet whimper. He stared up at his father, who still did nothing.
Dean tried to remember how long Bobby and Sam had been gone, and how much longer before they would be back. He thought that maybe he could hold John off long enough for them to return. They had to be leaving soon. They'd be back, and they'd protect him.
But he didn't want to be protected, not really. He wanted this to be over.
"I..." Dean took a step back and pressed his body against the counter. His voice was shaky and weak, just as he felt. "I-I-I'm s-sorry for -"
"You're sorry, huh?" John didn't let him finish. He pinned Dean down with only his eyes, which were strangely void of expression at the moment, like the dead eyes of a Great White. But Dean knew there was more than a storm hiding beneath his father's exterior. There was a fucking hurricane, and it was about to hit. "What are you sorry for? For kidnapping your brother and running away? For shooting me and leaving me to die?"
"Yes!" Dean agreed louder than he meant to. He wanted to scold himself as soon as the words got out. It was amazing just how fast he gave up. He knew he had to face his father. Not only for himself, but for Sam, too. And yet, he ended up getting back into the same old routine, as if he had never run away. Him, trying to smooth things over with a man who only wanted trouble. Deep down he knew there was no sense in trying to calm a man who craved violence. Did he really think that kissing up to his father would make him stop? That if he just backed down and took it, John would be satisfied? He thought getting away from John would change something, would make him stronger, but all it did was make it worse. "I shouldn't have, sir. I won't do it again..."
Dean did nothing as John got to him in two strides and grabbed his arms roughly, pulling him forward. He kicked the knife across the room. Dean's eyes followed it as it slid. "I'm s-sorry, I'm sorry..." Dean struggled weakly against the older mans grip, but he knew there was little he could do. John's fingers dug into his skin, unwilling to move or loosen. "I won't leave again, I swear."
"I trusted you, Dean, and you betrayed that trust." John pulled him close enough that Dean could feel his breath on his face. Surprisingly there was no alcohol on his breath at all. He was completely sober, and dangerously pissed. "I do not take that lightly."
Dean meant to say "I know," but he wasn't sure the words ever came out of his mouth. He couldn't hear himself think over the sound of his own heart beating in his chest. Before he could try again, he felt himself be thrown backwards into the kitchen counter. Dean pressed up against it, scanning the room for an out. All he had to do was tough it out long enough for Bobby to get back before John either took Dean with him, or killed him. At this point it could go either way.
All his life Dean had been taking the heat. He had been letting John push him around because he saw no other choice. John was his father, after all. What could he do?
But the moment Sam grabbed his arm, the moment his baby brother looked into his eyes, and Dean had to face the fact that he knew, was the moment Dean knew he had to do something. He had to be stronger, if only for Sammy. He was his brother's hero, his protector. But if he was going to keep protecting Sam, and keep being his hero, he had to learn to protect himself. Even from the people close to him. Even from family.
He wasn't going to let himself be locked behind a door any longer. He was better than that. He was ready to open the door, and be free. But first, he had to get away from John.
John went forward towards Dean, and the younger Winchester knew he and a decision to make, and fast. Before John could reach him, Dean bolted. He ducked his head and ran around his father, who was momentarily confused. "What the fuck?"
He ran for the front door, but before he could reach it, John was already at his heels. He grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled, causing Dean to loose his balance and be forced backward. Dean again considered just letting it go and taking his punishment, as usual, but he already come so far. He didn't want to put up with this bullshit anymore, and he had to be the one to put an end to it.
He struggled to pull one arm out of the over shirt, and then the other escaped easily. Once he was free again, he ran for upstairs.
To be fair, going to the second floor was a dumb idea, but the stairs were the closest things to him, and he wasn't exactly thinking straight. "Dean! Get back here!" He heard his father booming from below him, but he ignored it.
As he ran up he tripped, banging his knee hard into one of the stairs, but it didn't slow him down for a second. He had almost made it through the bedroom door when he felt a hand on his face. He tried to to yell, but any sound was muffled.
"You stupid son of a bitch! What the fuck were you thinking?" John growled and forced him into the room. Dean clawed at the hand on his mouth and the hand on his chest but they wouldn't budge. "You're gonna run from me again? I'm your father, Dean. There's no running from me." Dean tried to dig his feet into the ground to stop himself from being dragged across the room, but to no avail. He tried to kick at John's shins, but John easily lifted the smaller hunter off the ground and slammed him down onto the bed.
"Dad, stop!" John's hand left his mouth, and Dean could finally breath freely. "Please, let me go!" He begged. John had crawled on top of him and was pinning him against the mattress.
"What kind of son are you, anyway?" Dean was frantically trying to get away as John pulled out a knife. "You shot me! From just a few feet away! Right in my arm!" John shoved the blade into Dean's upper arm in one motion, causing Dean to scream out in pain. As he pulled the blade out, slowly, blood soaked into the white sheets. "That's right! You're damn right it hurts! But you didn't stop there!" Dean's eyes were now closed, but he could feel the blade enter his side with a sharp pain. "And then you just left me! Left me to die! What kind of family does that!"
This time he didn't remove the knife. "I'm trying to help you, Dean! I'm trying to teach you some respect!" He felt the first punch landed on the side of his face, and he no longer tried to hold back tears. His vision was blurry from the pain, but he put his hands up in a feeble attempt to protect himself. "If you would just do as I asked, none of this would have to happen!" Another hit. "You think this is easy for me? I'm your father! Everything I do is for your own good!" Hit. Hit. Hit.
Dean finally managed to grab John's arm at the wrist, temporarily halting the assault. John was able to pull his hand out of Dean's grasp with little effort, but that moment gave Dean enough time to think, and attack.
He kicked his leg upwards, nailing John right in the crotch. John winced in pain and Dean took the opportunity to push him back with his legs, knocking him off the bed entirely and on to his ass. Dean spared no time running out the door, slamming it behind him. He could feel his skin covered in some mixture of sweat and blood. He ignored the pain in his arm and focused on his side as limped down the stairs. He was just halfway down when the front door swung open, and a figure came to a halt in the doorway. "Dean?" It called, frantically.
"Bobby..." Dean practically collapsed out of relief and pain at the sight of the man. He had never been as happy to see him. He stumbled down the last few steps where Bobby was able to catch him and keep him from falling over.
Bobby wasted no time. "Where's John?"
"He's coming," Dean motioned weakly upstairs. Bobby seemed to notice the knife for the first time. "You c-c-can't... can't pull it out..." In the state that he was, he couldn't afford to loose anymore blood.
"I won't, boy. Let's get you out of here." Dean nodded, and he was suddenly overwhelmed with an exhaustion he had never felt before. So this is it, He thought briefly to himself. This is dying.
As if on cue, John's shadowy figure appeared at the top of the staircase. The dim lighting made him look even more menacing. His face was sheathed from the light, like the villain in a movie before he is revealed. But there was no need for a dramatic reveal in this story. Stepping out of the shadows, he glared down at the two of them with nothing short of hatred burning in his dark eyes. His fists were clenched violently. "John, don't come any closer."
"This isn't your place, Bobby." John growled, though he did not yet move. "This is between me and Dean."
"Hell it is." Dean had latched onto Bobby's arm, and there was no way in Hell that Bobby was going to let this poor kid go back to that. He had been fighting monsters his whole life, but Bobby had never seen the boy as scared as he was right now. "You need to leave, John, I'm serious."
"I will leave. With him, and Sammy, too." John slowly began descending the staircase. "You ain't their father, I am, and I ain't leaving without them, again."
Dean felt himself getting weaker, and his eyelids started to droop. His grip on Bobby relaxed, which made Bobby worry even more. "He needs help, John. You're going to kill him, you know that? Is that what you want?"
"He wanted me dead, Bobby. He shot me, twice." John was on the first floor, now, and Bobby and Dean were across the room. "Besides, he's fine. He's had worse."
"Look at him, John! He's bleeding out!"
Bobby wished he had brought some kind of weapon with him, but he hadn't had the time. He was driving Sam back from his appointment when he saw a strange car parked outside his house. He didn't have to look inside to know exactly who it was. He told Sam to stay in the car—made him swear he would—and bolted for the door where he immediately found Dean, and thank God he did.
But now it was just the two of them against John, and Dean was getting weaker by the moment. He was loosing blood fast and wasn't going to be much help pretty soon.
"Don't make me do something I don't want to do, Bobby." John warned. He had backed them well away from the front door, now, and Bobby knew he had to do something. "Let us go,"
John grabbed Dean by the hair and yanked him back, earning a yelp from the boy. Bobby, not wanting to hurt Dean anymore, let go of him and grabbed John by the shirt collar, unsure of his next course of action. John didn't give him any time to think, though, because he clocked him right in the jaw. It sent Bobby to the ground in an embarrassingly short amount of time.
"Bobby!" Dean reached for the older man, but John held him back, fingers twisting into the blond hair.
Bobby held his face on the ground and looked up just in time to see Sam standing in the doorway behind John and Dean. He had a gun in his hand, and his eyes dead set on John.
"Dad!" John turned at Sam's voice, spinning Dean along with him. Bobby saw the look of horror as he saw his brother from the front. He held the gun up and pointed it straight at John's head. "Let him go, now. I'm not warning you again."
"Sam... Sammy, wait," Dean's voice was high and panicked.
Bobby couldn't see John's face as he ordered, "Put the gun down, Sam."
"Sammy, no." Dean pleaded, but it was too late. Sam had made it perfectly clear that he wasn't looking for an argument.
Bobby flinched at the sound of the gun shot. When he opened his eyes, John fell to the floor. "John?" He stood up slowly with the intent of checking on the man on the floor, but then he looked at Dean.
"Dad? No...no no no no..." John's fingers uncurled from Dean's hair, but the boy held onto his hand, anyway, clutching it to his chest as he fell to his knees beside his father. "Dad, no, come on..."
Bobby knelt beside Dean and took him by the shoulders. "Dean, come on, we need to get you some help, okay?" Dean just kept shaking his head. Tears were flowing freely down his face, and his whole body was shaking. "Dean, you gotta stand up, kid. You gotta stand up."
"I c-can't..." Dean shoulders slumped forward, and his eyes fluttered closed.
"Damn it!" Bobby slid his hands beneath him, and with tremendous effort, picked him off the floor. He started towards the door where for the first time since the gunshot, he realized Sam was still standing in the doorway. The kids face was pale, his eyes were wide, and he was staring at John's body on the floor. "Sam, we need to get your brother help." Sam didn't move, or even look at Bobby. "Sam! We need to go." Sam's head snapped towards Bobby, and after a moment he nodded.
The two of them ran to Bobby's truck. Bobby laid Dean in the backseat. "Sit back here with him. Make sure he's okay." Bobby asked as he sat in the drivers seat.
Sam sat beside his brother. Dean's eyes were closed, but he was still breathing, albeit only lightly. Bobby started to drive. Sam brushed his fingers through his brothers hair. He could feel sticky blood at his brothers hairline, and for the first time he could truly look at his brothers injuries.
There was blood almost everywhere. His face was beaten and bruising. He had already seen the small knife sticking out of his side. But even without seeing all of this up close, he had seen enough when he entered the house.
Bobby told him to stay put, but damn it, he knew he could not. Not when his brother was in there. If John was here, it only meant terrible things for Dean. He waited at first, hoping Bobby would come back out quickly with a false alarm. But that never happened, and eventually he had to go in. He grabbed a gun from the back of the truck, and ran to the house.
Seeing his father again elicited both anger and fear, but his fear was quickly dismissed at the sight of his brother. John's hand, covered in Dean's blood, twisted into his brother's hair. It took all his self control to not shoot him right then and there, no warning needed. But he gave him a chance, and John was too stupid to take it.
And so he pulled the trigger.
Sam had been so ready to do it. He was fuming with hatred and felt an overwhelming sense of protectiveness for his older brother, and in the moment there was no other logical course of action than to shoot him. But as soon as he had done it, he started to regret it.
He couldn't believe that he had actually done it. He had killed John. He had killed his father. The horrified look on Dean's face was too much to bear as he fell beside John.
He tried to convince himself that it was the right thing to do. Just look at Dean. He was broken because of this man. John deserved what he got, and Dean deserved to not constantly be watching his back. He deserved to not be afraid.
But would Dean ever forgive him for it? Dean still felt some kind of loyalty to John that Sam would never have again. In Deans mind, John was still their father, no matter what.
But not anymore, because Sam had killed him, and now Dean was going to wake up, and who knows how he was going to react.
"Bobby," Sam wished he could speak at a normal level, but he didn't think he could speak any louder without crying.
Bobby's hands tensed on the steering wheel at Sam's tone. "Sam? What's wrong?"
"I killed him."
Relieved that it had nothing to do with Dean, Bobby nodded slowly. "I know, kid. But let's worry about your brother right now."
Dean was rushed into the ER, and Sam and Bobby had to stay in the waiting room.
They waited with an old man attached to an oxygen tank, a young mother and her sniffling child, and several other random people with ailments of their own. Sam sat in the same room as them, but felt like he was far, far away.
None of this could really be happening. He wasn't really in the waiting room at the hospital. His brother wasn't really having emergency surgeries done to him as he sat around, helplessly. All these people surrounding him, they weren't real. They couldn't be.
As soon as they were allowed, they went to visit Dean in his room.
He wasn't awake at first. Bobby sat in the one chair in the room, and Sam sat at the end of the bed. They didn't say anything to each other—both knowing that small talk wouldn't help anyone.
Dean made a noise and shifted in his bed. This immediately grabbed Sam's attention. He got off the bed and walked to Dean's side. "Dean?" He grabbed his brothers hand and watched for any signs of waking up.
Dean eyes fluttered open slowly as he tried to focus on Sam's face. He opened his mouth and then closed it. For a few moments they just stared at each other in a strange calmness. But then Dean seemed to realize where he was, and he sat up way quicker than he should've been able to, and fumbled to take out the IV in his arm. "Dean, no, stop." Sam tried to stop him, but it took Bobby coming over to restrain him.
"Dean, look at me." Bobby held him down, trying not to hurt boy, but Dean kept pushing against him. "Dean." Finally Dean looked up and met Bobby's eyes. He stopped fighting, and let himself fall back into the bed. "You're okay, Dean. You're safe. Don't get up."
Bobby let him go, and Dean did as he was told. He still didn't say anything, even when Sam asked him how he was feeling. "Dean, can you hear me?" He didn't respond. Sam took Dean's hand. "Dean, please answer me." He didn't say anything, instead squeezing Sam's hand in response.
Sam looked at Bobby, who just shook his head, sadly. "Give 'em time, boy. He'll come around."
They settled back into their positions from earlier; Bobby in the chair reading a magazine, Sam on the edge of the bed. Dean looked around, taking in his surroundings, but stayed totally silent. Sam desperately wanted him to talk, but knew he couldn't pressure him, so he just waited as patiently as possible, picking at the sheets.
After a few hours, Bobby fell asleep, leaving just the boys. A few nurses came in and were very excited he was awake. He still didn't speak, but when they asked him questions, he would answer by shaking or nodding his head.
They left after a few minutes, and Sam noticed Dean staring at him. "Is something wrong, Dean?" Dean held out his hand, much to Sam's surprise. Not wanting to screw up the moment, Sam put his hand in Dean's. Dean immediately yanked him towards him. Sam semi-panicked, and tried to pull away. Dean sat up and held Sam in place. He reached one hand up to Sam's face. After a moment, Sam realized what he was doing. He was checking to see if Sam was hurt. "Dean, I'm okay." Dean didn't seem to hear him, though, and didn't stop. "Dean, I mean it, nothings wrong with me." He grabbed Dean's hands and pulled them off of him. "I'm fine, okay? I'm fine."
Deans face scrunched up, his lips twisted down into a frown. He gently tugged at his hands as if asking for Sam to let go, and Sam did. Dean pulled his hands in close, looking down at them like they were foreign. Then he laid back down.
Sam felt tears welling up in his eyes. There was something really off with Dean. He wasn't acting like himself at all. He waited until Bobby woke up to voice his concern.
"This isn't him, Bobby, it's not." Sam whispered, not wanting Dean to hear, if he could hear. "There's something wrong. Something we don't already know about."
"He's tired, Sam. He's been through a lot. You can't expect too much from him right now." Bobby had the same suspicions, but he didn't want to voice them to Sam. Sam had been through a lot as well, and there was no reason to freak the boy out unless they were sure something was wrong.
"Bobby, you know Dean. You've seen him when he's down. Has he ever acted like this?"
Bobby sighed, thinking. "Look, Sam, why don't you take a break. Go get a drink and something to eat. I'll stay with him."
Sam looked like he wanted to argue, but decided against it. "I'll be right back."
As soon as Sam left, Bobby walked over to Dean's bedside. Dean looked up at him, but the warmth that was normally obvious in his eyes as he talked to the older hunter was not present. That worried Bobby a lot more than his silence. He cleared his throat and said, "Dean, I know you can talk, so why don't you?"
Dean shifted slightly in the bed. Bobby didn't think he was going to say anything, but then, "I don't know where I am."
Bobby was relieved to hear the sound of his voice once more. "You're in the Sioux Falls Hospital. Do you remember what happened?" He shook his head. "What do you remember, Dean?"
Dean paused, looking down at his hands and back at Bobby. "Nothing. I don't remember anything. I... I don't even know who you are."