Title: Supernatural The Return Pg-13
Description: Part 1
Tawrens - July 29, 2010 05:08 PM (GMT)
*Title: The Return
*Email address: Phoenix3567@juno.com
*Status: new, unfinished
*Special warnings: None
*Disclaimer: This story is an original work of amateur fiction, and is written purely for the private entertainment of Supernatural fans. This story is in no way affiliated with whoever. The characters are their property, and this story is not meant to infringe upon the copyrights of any organization that owns an interest in "Supernatural"
*Summary: When a father loves enough can he save his children from beyond the grave?
Dean Winchester:Jensen Ackles
Sam Winchester:Jared Padalecki
John Winchester:Jeffrey Dean Morgan
"Dean!" Sam screamed as he struggled with the men who held him keeping him from going to his brother's aid. They'd hope to finish the job by taking out the guy they were hunting unfortunately it was a trap. Two men held Sam while two more held Dean as a fifth man beat him. The man stopped beating Dean and drew a gun pointing it at him. Sam struggled harder as the man cocked the gun and suddenly from nowhere a large shape slammed into the man causing the gun to go off. The men holding him and Dean tore off in fear as the fifth man grabbed his gun and ran after them. Dean groaned and struggled to sit up as Sam rushed over and helped him sit up. He motioned for Sam to help him over to where their savior lay face down. Sam didn't want to because he thought Dean should be in a hospital as well as something about the man that had saved their lives made him very nervous. Arguing with Dean though was useless and so he helped his older brother to his feet and then over to the man who lay face down unmoving. He helped lower a badly bruised Dean down to a sitting position and then helped him turn the man over only to be stunned by who he saw. It was impossible but the man lying next to them looked like their father. John Winchester their dad had died September 28, 2006 almost four years ago. The boys had seen their dad die and then had burned the body. Sam turned to his brother only to find him unconscious and slumped against the wall. He quickly checked his brother's pulse and he was relieved to find it strong and steady despite Dean's injuries. He pulled out his cell phone and called Bobby Singer an old friend of his dad's for help. He only said that Dean was injured and unconscious so he needed help to get him to medical aid. Sam felt it was best to refrain from telling him about his dad apparently still being alive for fear that it would shock the man too much. He checked the man who appeared to be his father over and found a lump on his head and bullet wound in his shoulder bleeding sluggishly. Sam tore off part of his shirt and balled it up to press against the wound in hopes of stopping the bleeding.
He glanced up when he heard a noise and saw Bobby had brought Ellen Harvelle with him. She stopped as her eyes widened and she looked a bit pale on seeing the man Sam was tending to. Bobby looked a little ill but he didn't let that stop him from crouching by Dean and checking him over. They got Dean and John into the car and to the nearest hospital, Bobby did all the talking explaining how the man and his sons had been mugged and he and his wife had interrupted it scaring off the muggers. Ellen smiled slightly at Bobby's calling her his wife but she wisely stayed silent as the doctor's took Dean and John into the exam rooms. Moments later Karen Harper walked in the ER and greeted Ellen and Bobby before grabbing Sam in a hug that he could have sworn would knock all his stuffing out. "It's okay mom." Sam said quietly to the woman who'd become like a surrogate mother to him since his birth mother's death. Mary Winchester Sam only remembered via photos, videos and his dad and brothers memories. Neither man seemed to want to talk about her much because they claimed there was no reason but Sam figured it was because they both loved her, missed her and it hurt too much to talk about her. Her violent death had to have been shocking to those who knew and loved her. He felt a twinge of grief mixed with guilt that he didn't seem to care more about his birth mother. She was a virtual stranger to him, for as long as he could remember it had been the Winchester men. John, Dean and little Sammy. Karen had taken over his mothering at the age of eighteen when Sam was two years old and Dean was six. She'd been more of a mom to him then Mary in his memory although it was odd at times to be torn between the woman who gave him life and the woman who might as well have. "It's dad mom!" Sam exclaimed, she pulled back and looked up into his eyes as if seeking the answers she needed there. She smiled sweetly and gently and Sam knew it was her let him down easy smile. "Sam your dad died three almost four years ago." She said quietly as she rubbed his arm. "It's him mom, I know it is." Sam clung stubbornly to his insistence.
She tucked a piece of chestnut hair behind her ear and her hazel eyes seemed worried as she smiled gently at him. She took his face in her hands, hands he knew to be competent because they had more then once took out bullets or sewn up wounds on all three Winchester men with a lecture about using the ability to duck and weave. Despite only being five foot four and a half and barely a hundred pounds she could hold her own in a fight and had more then once kicked all three of their butts. The woman knew multiple forms of marital arts and how to use just about every weapon out there today as well as being a weapon herself. She had only told Sam that her father had trained her and was a harsh taskmaster but she studiously avoided her past and talking about it. Despite being forty three years old and he knew that because she had no vanity and didn't care if anyone knew her actual age. It didn't matter because she looked between seventeen to twenty years anyway. The blond highlights originally in her hair had turned silver but she had no lines on her face and looked as if she could be Sam's sister. In fact Dean teased her regularly about the fact that she looked just as she had when they'd met back in 1985 over twenty years ago. Sam's stomach growled loudly and she smiled, "Hospital food isn't much but you'd better eat something and keep your strength up.” She pulled on Sam’s arm and then pushed him out of the waiting room, “Mom….” Sam started to say. “Bring me back something as well my stomach’s talking about a rebellion.” She smiled and swatted Sam playfully before turning and heading back into the waiting room. Sam headed to the cafeteria in hopes that maybe food and time would make her listen. He headed down the corridor to the elevators so he didn’t notice Karen leaving the waiting room and heading in the opposite direction. She quietly entered the exam room where John lay waiting to be taken to a room. She lay a hand on his uninjured shoulder, “Who are you?” she asked quietly. “Miss? I’m sorry but you can’t be in here.” She turned to see a nurse approaching her. “My husband is going into surgery and I was worried….” She trailed off knowing the nurse was falling for her helpless concerned wife act.
She’d learned early in life the only one you could trust was yourself and that only part of the time baring illness and so on. Funny though how a man with two little boys totally at a loss and in desperate need of help put her mercenary side out for the count and turned her into Mrs. Rogers. The minute she saw him with those two very unhappy little guys her heart just went out to him and despite her mind arguing that it wasn’t the smartest thing to do and that he’d figure it out sooner or later she needed to help them. Especially once she got a look at Dean’s eyes. So like his father’s not in color but look of a wounded old soul. He was too young in her opinion to have eyes that old. She knew he’d seen something very bad and needed help to heal his soul before it literally tore him apart. John found a way under her skin too something no other man had ever been able to do in her lifetime. She actually got jealous when some air headed bimbo had chatted John up. She’d never had that feeling before, looking back on it though she didn’t regret a moment. She loved John deeply and the boys were her life. She said her goodbyes as the nurse reassured her he’d be in the best of hands and she left for the waiting room. Strange as it seemed that man in there that looked so much like John felt like him too. She could always tell if it wasn’t John, a sorta feeling of rightness. It was no doubt John Winchester and the boy’s father. What was she going to do when Dean started to ask after Sam pushed his assurance that it was their dad? When Sam returned to the waiting room the nurse directed him to the sun room where patients relaxed and recovered. He stopped on the threshold and saw Karen playing the piano. He didn’t want to disturb her so he listened to the haunting tune.
The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello but never touched at all
He was in his paper I was in my room
How was I to know he thought I hung the moon
The greatest man I never knew came home late every night
He never had too much to say too much was on his mind
I never really knew him and now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had
Then the days turned into years and the memories to black and white
He grew cold like an old winter wind blowing across my life
The greatest words I never heard I guess I'll never hear
The man I thought could never die S'been dead almost a year
He was good at business but there was business left to do
He never said he loved me Guess he thought I knew
“Mrs. Winchester?” Karen and Sam turned to see a doctor standing by the door. “Yes?” she asked worriedly as she rose to face him. “Your son is still in surgery but your husband has awakened.” He said. She noted the name tag said ‘Myers’ “How is he?” she asked, “He seems alright except for the gunshot wound which is minor and the head injury which is anything but.” He responded. “What do you mean?” Sam asked worriedly and Karen placed a restraining hand on his arm. “He has absolutely no personal memory. He remembers how to talk, feed himself and so on but as to who he is, how he learned these things he couldn’t tell you.” Doctor Myers explained. “May we see him?” Karen asked knowing Sam would need to see his father was alright despite his injuries. “This way.” He motioned for them to follow, “The gunshot was a through and through meaning the bullet went in and then out. We x-rayed it to be sure there wasn’t any bleeding before stitching it closed.” Myers said. He led them to a room and opened the door allowing Karen and Sam to enter the room ahead of him. “Mr. Winchester, your family is here to see you.” He said as Karen and Sam took positions at the end of the bed. John looked at them confused, as if he didn’t recognize them. “This is your wife and son.” Myers explained. John took in the small woman barely five foot five and the shaggy haired young man standing next to her. He tried to remember them, tried to place them in his life and felt nothing. “I don’t know you.” He said and noticed the boy flinch at what he said but the woman’s only emotion was a brief flash across her eyes. She was a cold one, he wondered how he could have ever loved her enough to marry her. What did that say about who he was? He was scared and worried that maybe he was some kind of monster. “Dad?” the boy’s voice warbled as he said it and started towards him only to stop as if afraid to come any closer. “John.” The woman who was supposedly his wife said quietly with a whiskey sounding voice. He was suddenly struck by a searing pain shooting through his head and he saw something in his mind.
John could barely remember the last time he felt discomfort of any kind. Longer still, the last time he’d felt pleasure. Hell, when was the last he’d felt anything at all? He remembered pain, remembered loss, the anger that had consumed him when his beloved Mary had been murdered. It seemed that was all he would ever feel for the rest of his life. A commotion caught John’s attention and he saw a small figure being surrounded by three men. He cursed as he saw one of the thugs take the small figure by the hat and flung the person to the ground. With a running leap, he dropped down into the fight, John ducked to avoid a fist headed his way and got a good look at a dainty young girl who’d been pretty much swallowed by her jacket. She was on her stomach being held down by the leader’s foot pressed against her back as she uselessly scrabbled to get away from her assailant. John drove the snarling vampire into the side of the brick building and held it with his forearm wedged under the chin. “Get out of here! Run!” he shouted to her as she started to drag herself up off the ground. The vampire grabbed John’s shirt and flipped their positions and he grunted as the vampire slammed him into the wall. His heart was in his mouth just as a blade swept across the vampire’s head removing it from his neck. He saw it was the petite girl and then he looked for the other vampires to see that they had scattered. John turned back to the girl and roughly grabbed her arm, “I told you to run!” he chided her. “Sorry Captain Bligh but I’m a civie and don’t have to take orders.” She responded sarcastically. John looked her over head to toe, finally getting a good look at her. She was barely more then a child, sixteen tops was his estimate. “Where are your parents?” he demanded, it was all he got out before her elbow cracked into his chin. John dodged the kick to his groin as he grabbed her, and she turned in his arms. She stumped down hard enough on his foot to have stars springing into his head and then back fisted him in the face. Initially he blocked her blows, which wasn’t an easy matter, she was obviously trained for combat. Her next move was a swift flying kick to his mid section. He hooked a foot under her leg and sent her sprawling and then he grabbed her.
Her knee had better aim then her initial kick but he hung on. It frustrated her enough to resort to dirty tactics. She landed a blow to the side of his head and another to his kidneys. “There won’t be enough of you left for the cops to scrape off their shoes.” She snarled savagely at John. “Fine stay here.” John said angrily as he stood and headed away from her only to be confronted by a vampire that had stayed behind. A dagger sailed through the air and thudded home in his chest. “What a woman.” John made quick work of beheading the vampire. He turned to see she held a gun on him. “Oh put that thing away, it’s not as if you’re going to shoot me.” John said frustrated. “Oh no?” she asked smiling sweetly and then to his surprise she pulled the trigger. John felt the bullet skim across his arm and he grabbed it as blood welled up in the wound. “You know it’s one thing to threaten, but ruining a perfectly good jacket is just rude!” he snarled. “You can send me the bill. I’m sure I’m not the first woman to shoot you. They’re probably lining up for the privilege as we speak.” she snarked. “Alright that’s it!” John lunged forward and grabbed the gun twisting it from her hand as he elbowed her in the face knocking her cold and then catching her before she hit the ground. “Geez somebody woke up on the wrong side of reality today. Kid you have good reflexes and pretty good aim.” He said as he tucked her gun in his waistband and tossed her over his shoulder, he bounced once to get a feel of her weight. “What are you a feather?” he thought she was awfully light for a kid who appeared to be about five foot five. He exited the alley warily checking for more vampires as he carried her to the impala. It was awkward but he managed to get her into the passenger seat of the impala and proceeded to bind her hands together, as an afterthought he tied her legs as well. He drove back to his motel and carried her into his room before dumping her unceremoniously on the bed and then proceeded to handcuff her to the bed post. “Sleep tight pixie and hopefully I’ll be back before you wake up.” He told the unconscious girl and headed towards the door. A moment later he returned and stuffed a rag in her mouth. It wouldn’t due to have the motel staff find her, too many questions.
“Honey I’m home.” He barely had time to dodge the heavy lamp she threw at him as he entered the room “You bastard!” She threw another item at him before frantically turning her wrist this way and that, flexing her hand in an attempt to escape. “You’re a real comedian.” She said sarcastically, “I’ve been thinking.” John responded. “Well then why am I worried? You’ve been thinking.” He grinned at her sauciness, she scrunched up her face and stuck her tongue out at him. “As I was saying, since you’re responsible you should do it.” John said mischievously. “I don’t like that look on you’re face.” She said apprehensively, “By the way the name’s John.” He told her. “Yeah? So?” she crossed her arms as best as she could being handcuffed to the bed. John began to unbutton his shirt. “What are you doing?” she asked trying not to look concerned. “Getting naked.” He answered with mischief, “Pervert.” She snarled, “I hope to get to the perversion part of our program shortly. But for now I need to tend some wounds.” He replied and hissed as he drew the jacket off of his injured arm. “You are a first rate bastard.” She hissed angrily “Yes I hate to be second at anything.” John grinned wickedly as he gave her a lazy look from head to toe forcing her to grab the front of her shirt and clutch it tightly together in her hand. ‘How could his eyes chill her blood and sear her flesh at the same time?’ she wondered. “Take off the handcuffs.” She demanded trying to regain some dignity. “No.” he said firmly, “Why not?” she asked. “The next time someone comes gunning for you I won’t be there unless I can keep my eye on you. It’s the only way I can keep you safe-the only way I can sleep at night.” He answered. “You practice those lines much?” she asked sarcastically, “Not really. Usually I just tell people to f*** off and die.” John replied. “Wow, I love it when a man sweet talks me.” She responded. “I’ll bet you do.” John winked at her, “You’re not afraid of me are you?” he asked. “Should I be?” she gave him a look that suggested he was crazy if he thought he was anymore frightening then Elmo but in truth he could tell she played a good game but given half a chance she’d wet herself in terror.
“Nope just wondering.” He said tossing his shirt on to a chair. “Just out of curiosity when you go to bed at night, do you find yourself fighting with that ego to stay on the mattress?” she asked sweetly as she batted her eyes at him. “You don’t know me, or what I’m capable of doing.” He said in a tone of voice that sent a chill of ice slithering down her spine but her pride refused to allow her to acknowledge him and let him know how he made her feel. “It’s not enough to make his victims cry. He destroys them mind, body and soul.” She said quietly. “I take it you know him?” John asked, “Could you toss me a piece of bread before the interrogation continues or do I have to beat your butt for it?” She asked sarcastically. John grabbed a hamburger and tossed it towards her and she caught it easily unwrapping and biting into it. “Does anything faze you?” he asked, “I fight people for a living. Do you honestly think this is going to frighten me?” she answered. “You know I marvel at the fact that you’ve lived to your age and no one’s taken the rose colored glasses and shoved them up your-“ she began. “Hey! Mind your language. You know you’re entitled to your opinion just as I’m entitled not to listen to it.” He answered teasingly. She would show them no mercy for there was none in her to give. His purpose was made even stronger by his pain but also by hers. Despite the darkness that consumed him, he clung to love. He’d give up his soul in exchange for Mary’s life and he wondered if he’d ever be the same again. “I’m trying to protect you from-” John began, “I never asked for your protection, and I swear this very minute to you I never will!” she said angrily. “What’s your name? I’m John.” He said, “Ain’t that sweet telling each other our names are we?” she answered. “What made you such a….”John began, “A bitch? Wouldn’t you like to know.” She replied. “Look kid….” He started frustrated, “I’m not a kid. I’m twenty one and pissed off right now.” She give the handcuffs a yank for good measure. “Yeah right. You’re twenty one and I’m grandma Moses.” John responded.
“How ya doing Grandma?’ she snickered and John lifted an eyebrow as he grinned at her. ‘He is bright, loyal, fearless and imaginative. He was a man of morality, decency, he’d stand up for himself even when the evidence was against him. He fights for what he believes in and he protects the weak. She thought to herself. Definitely not the kind of guy she should be involved with, she had no time for heroes. A warrior with a single purpose was who this man was, who he would always be. John looked at her and knew only the guilt of a man who knew killing was the sole way to survive and wished it wasn’t could see where she was coming from.’ He had killed Mary, he had become something detestable, and his cause ceased to be an honorable one even in his own eyes. He’d become a monster to save what he loved. But she had been taken from him and so would the boys. The girl threw him a look he would not want to see her wearing while she was holding a weapon. “I do what needs to be done. I don’t know if I can bear it, if you die because of me.” John told her. “If the worst happens, I’ll want you to. Make me a promise, if I’m stupid enough to get turned, you kill me and I’ll do the same for you.” She answered. “You would, wouldn’t you? Thank you.” John answered. “God you’re weird.” She said. “Teach me to be like you.” She asked John. “No.” he replied quietly, “Show me. I can be an asset to you. I need to help, do you understand?” she practically begged. “Forget it.” John snarled at her, “Why because I’m a female?” she asked sarcastically. “Because you’re motivated by pain and that’s a fatal weakness. You’re too raw, you’re too swallowed in your own self pity to be of use to anyone. I’m not saying it to be cruel.” John explained. “No of course you aren’t, because even cruelty would signify some kind of feeling wouldn’t it?” he didn’t so much as blink at her angry outburst. She had an sudden absurd urge to pick up something and hurl it at him, just to get some kind of reaction out of him. “Grief is a useless emotion, the sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be.” He said as he began to tend to his injuries.
“Have you ever lost somebody you loved?” She asked, “You should rest while you can.” He told her. “I want to help.” She demanded angrily. “I work alone, and you don’t know what you’re asking for.” John responded. “I can learn, I want to learn. Please! I need to learn. Whether you approve or not, I am part of this war. I didn’t go looking for it, they brought it to my door. All I’m asking is you show me how to be more effective. I need to make this right! Do I have to beg you!” she hissed. “Lesson number one don’t count on me for anything. I will only let you down. Because of me, my wife was gutted like a pig. I can’t protect you….just like I couldn’t protect her.” John said. “I’m not her, I don’t need you to protect me. I don’t want you to. I can take care of myself.” She insisted. “Whatever you think you’re doing, forget it. I told you I work alone.” John chided her. “You can take on all of them by yourself, but you’re scared to death that someone actually might care for you or worse that you might come to care for someone is that it?” She asked. “You don’t know the first thing about me.” John hissed at her. “Does anyone?” she asked quietly. “I understand loss. I have to live with so many of them. They don’t always go away when you stop their killers, they never go away if you don’t find them. I got a freaking army of the dead in my head and they still have faces and voices and pain.“ she told him. “Let go of your pain. If there’s any kindness inside you, kill it. Remember the only person in this life that matters to you is you. No one else will ever care about you. The only person who can protect you is you. Let everyone else go to hell. Remember that whenever you were being kicked there was no one standing beside you to soften the blow. No one there to help you lick those wounds or protect you. You can’t spend your life living for the dead.” He told her. “You blame yourself for what happened to your wife, don’t you?” she asked. “I couldn’t save her, she depended on me to keep her safe, but I failed her. She didn’t deserve the death she was given.” John answered. “Karen my name is Karen.” She answered him quietly. He threw her a puzzled look, “My name.” she said. “If you betray me….kill me. Be kind and don’t let me live in pain. I can’t take another blow like that. I’m not that strong.” John said.
“John are you alright?” he looked up to see the woman who claimed to be his wife looking down at him with a worried frown. “I’m fine just a bit of a headache.” He answered. “I’ll get you something for the pain.” Doctor Myers said before saying his goodbyes and leaving. He wondered if he was going insane, either he had seen something so terrifying that his mind had inserted vampires to cover it since vampires weren’t real or he was losing his mind. “John?’ asked the soft warm whiskey voice again and he felt a hand lay on his knee. He looked up to see Karen had sat down next to him and was looking very concerned. “Maybe I better get the doctor….” She began to rise but he took a hold of her hand stopping her. “I’m fine just a bit tired sweetheart.” She frowned at him puzzled as if she seen something that worried her but then she settled down next to him again as his son took up a chair and dragged it close to the other side of the bed as he sat in it. “I’ll be fine.” He said as he drew her close to him and she curled up next to him on the bed sighing quietly as she settled her head on his chest. She seemed to relax as he drew her closer, and strangely enough he also seemed to relax as she cuddled closer to him. He slowly drifted off to sleep but his dreams were far from peaceful. Blackness gathered at the edges of John’s vision as he tried to get to the bed but made it as far as the rug in front of the sofa before he went down, first to his knees then flat on his face falling into unconsciousness even as he tried to struggle back onto his feet again. “Great!” Karen hissed angrily swearing under her breath and made quick work of the cuffs before heading over to him to see if he was okay. She touched his shoulder to find his skin was hot and clammy so she felt for his pulse. His eyes snapped open and his dark gaze zeroed in on her, she was pretty certain he wasn’t seeing her though. The hand that was hidden under the couch emerged holding a gun pointed in the general direction of her stomach. “Put the gun down before it goes off.” She said wondering if he could hear her through his delirium. His body went slack, the gun clanking against the floor.
Without giving herself time to think a lot about danger she sprang forward and grabbed his wrist as she pushed the gun barrel away from both of them struggling to pry his fingers off the gun. Struck by the notion that there was something remarkable about this man even in his weakened state his physical presence give an impression of strength and power. She unbuttoned his shirt, he was a man who trained and honed himself into a weapon but he wasn’t just physical strength. He had the wisdom to not over build his stature in a way that it would hinder his flexibility and strain his body movements. Karen assessed the wounds, they were red and oozing and the surrounding skin was hot and swollen. She rose quickly and got some water and her bag before heading back over to him. He groaned as she began to clean the largest wound with a piece of her shirt and the water so she could get a better look at it. There was a dart sticking out of his shoulder and had caused the biggest injury she could see. She took a bit of cloth from her shirt and used it to get a better grip on the end of the bolt protruding from his shoulder. She yanked it hard and fast, feeling the tear of his flesh and he groaned harshly. Tossing it quickly aside she pressed balled pieces of her shirt to the wound to steam the fresh bleeding. She began inspecting every wound and treating them with herbs she had with her, suddenly he burst into life exploding into movement as he seized her by both wrists and hauled her violently over his body holding her tightly against his body despite the pain it had to be causing him. John flipped her on her back and held her wrists with one hand as his other hand encircled her slender throat. Karen yanked her hands free and encircled the thick wrist of the hand clenching around her throat with both her hands. John’s eyes were wild with confusion and pain and she saw a fresh stream of blood slipping over his skin and drip onto her. John blinked, seeing through a hazy wall of pain. “What the hell is going on here?” he demanded, “I’ll explain once you get into bed.” She answered snarkily. “I’ll do no such thing! Answer me woman!” he demanded. John suddenly felt dizzy and looked as if he were about to faint, he released his hold on her and slumped up against the sofa.
She was by his side before he knew she was moving, inserting herself under his arm to give him support. “I swear hunter, if you make me carry you I will get quite annoyed. Playing with bad types again I see.” She joked “The other children weren’t playing fair.” John answered playfully as she helped him up and over to the bed. John slumped onto the bed with a groan as she got him to lay flat on his back so she could finish tending his wounds. Taking three careful rattling breaths, his eyes closed, “John!” She asked slightly panicked. “Just resting my eyes.” He reassured her before letting his eyes flutter close again. “You are bad you know? What the hell were you thinking or were you trying to get yourself killed?” she asked. “The possibility of death is a risk all of us take. From the minute we wake up to the minute we go to the grave. My safety is in jeopardy everytime I take a breath.” He told her. “I need you. Who else will going to teach me what it is I need to know?” Her voice was hoarse and breaking. “You shouldn’t worry about me.” John said as he shifted to a more comfortable position. “I’m not going to let you die, all you have to do is beat this infection.” He stared at her as emotion overwhelmed her voice. “I’ll be fine I just need to rest is all.” He said as he drifted off to sleep. John came to one painful inch at a time and noticed something soft brushed his chin. Opening one eye he recognized Karen’s hair. She was curled up in a ball sleeping beside him. “She’s been asleep like that for a few hours. Stayed up with you all night. Refused to leave your side.” John looked over and saw Bobby Singer fellow hunter and friend. “She okay?” John asked and then cleared his throat, “She may be small, but there isn’t anything frail about her.” Bobby chuckled. “What’s the damage?” he asked as if talking about a machine and not his body. Karen stirred next to him and looked up to see John was awake. She smiled at him and he returned the smile. “Hey you what the hell are you doing scaring the crap out of everyone like that?!” she demanded. Bobby coughed to cover what sounded suspiciously like a laugh, “Nice to see you too.” John responded with a mischievous grin. “How are you feeling?” she asked as she tested his forehead with her hand for fever.
“Depends, did you get the hell horde that ran me over or not?” John asked playfully. “I’m assuming you took care of that yourself.” Bobby said. John smiled but suddenly the scene seemed to melt and change and he found himself at a park watching Karen play with two boys. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” John demanded angrily as he roughly took a hold of her arm leaving bruises behind. The strange thing though wasn’t that he was angry but in fact scared spitless. “Keep your voice down. I was getting the boys some air so you could rest and recover in quiet.” Karen answered. “What business do you have taking the boys without asking me first.” John asked. “I didn’t want to wake you and Bobby said….” She began as she pulled him away from the playground and turned to look at the frightened looking boys, she smiled and waving to them to continue to play. “Oh well Bobby said!” John replied sarcastically. “I was only taking them to get burgers and the playground was just there. Both of them looked so pitiful I thought it wouldn’t hurt to let them run off some energy and for a while be normal kids. If you don’t like that I can take the stick out of your ass and beat you unconsciousness with it.” She huffed and gave him a small shove before turning and stalking away towards the boys her body rigid with anger. “Your wife is a real spitfire ain’t she?” John turned to see a gray haired man who watched Karen and the boys with amusement. “She’s not my wife.” John answered, “Well the boys mama….” He began. “She’s not their mother.” John answered, “Well you can’t tell from here.” He said. John watched as Karen chased the boys who squealed with delight as they raced away from her. “She’s got that look in her eye, maybe she ain’t their mama by blood but she is where it matters in the heart, soul and mind. The younger one he’s what two? I remember mine at that age, favorite word was no.” John chuckled, “I got the same problem with Sam, I doubt he has any vocabulary other then no.” John replied. “I’m Michael.” The man held out his hand and John shook it. “I’m John, that’s Karen, Dean and Sam.” He introduced them. “Love like that is a special thing, you’re a lucky man. Not many women would be willing to take on someone else’s kids and make them her own.” Michael said.
“Yeah I guess I am.” John murmured. He felt a tug and looked down to see Dean pulling on his pant leg. “Dad if you’re angry we can go back.” Dean said. “No Dean it’s just….” He turned to look for Michael but strangely he wasn’t there anymore. John hadn’t heard him leave and he figured he would of. He frowned and then looked back down at Dean and smiled. A squeal caught his attention and he looked up worriedly but saw Karen had Sam pinned and was blowing on his stomach. The squeal wasn’t because of fear but of pure unadulterated glee. Sam was actually happy and looking down at Dean he saw a fleeting smile on the boy’s face as he looked at his brother before quickly sobering and turning to look up at John. ‘Did I make those too old eyes?’ he wondered. No six year old should have eyes of a wizened old man, “Come on tiger let’s play.” He grabbed Dean up and slung him onto his shoulder. He headed over to where Karen and Sam were and slung Dean onto the top of the slide before heading over to her and Sam. “My whole life changed the day my little boy was born. I never felt so scared, proud, weak or strong as at that moment. Everything I’d ever been, whatever plans I had, nothing mattered anymore. My whole life belonged to him and I knew nothing would ever be better then that moment. I am proud of him I am always proud of him. They put him in my arms a squalling wriggling infant. All that life in that small little body. I’ll tell you that whatever you feel for anyone, however much love’s inside you, there’s more of it when you have a child. You can’t understand it until you’ve experience it. It doesn’t change as they grow into men it just grows with them. Each child brings that special glow into your life. Each child in their own unique way and personality, Dean has been made old before his time and I want that to stop now. I want him to be a little boy for as long as he can be and not some frightened old man in a child’s body.” John told her. The memory faded again and reassembled into a kitchen, Karen was cooking breakfast and Dean and Sam were sitting at the table as John stood leaning against a counter drinking a cup of coffee. He was trying to hide his grin at how miserable Dean looked and how the banging and slamming Karen was doing was no doubt to make him more miserable.
“Please mom my head hurts.” Dean pleaded with the petite woman. “That’s what you get for thinking it’s smart to get drunk with your buddies. You’re sixteen can you even think?” she asked whirling on him and John tried to hide his grin harder knowing if she caught it in the mood she was in she’d turn on him. She wasn‘t intentionally cruel but when worked up she could loose her good sense because all that mattered was the subject that got her so worked up. “Teenagers! Sixteen and he thinks he knows everything, alcohol kills your brain cells you know?” she asked him angrily. Karen being allergic to alcohol was a fervent teetotaler, “Only the stupid ones.” Dean said mischievously. “Well then all yours are the stupid ones because drinking is just plain stupid. And don’t think I don’t see that smirk Samuel Winchester or that grin John Winchester.” John coughed and stood up straighter. “If you two are through you can go now.” Karen said, “Yes ma’am.” They both said quietly as they quickly put their dishes into the sink and exited the room. “Not you Dean.” Dean sat back down and she turned off the stove and went over to the counter and did something before turning to him with a glass that held a worrisome color. “Drink this.” She placed the glass in front of him. “I don’t think….” He began as he rose from his seat. “That’s right you don’t think now drink it.” She ordered in her marine drill sergeant tone as she placed a hand on his shoulder and gently pushed him back into the chair. He looked up at her and she glared down at him, he took a tentative sip and his face screwed up in disgust. “All of it.” She said crossing her arms, Dean chug a lugged it but it still tasted nasty. “Now…” he croaked, “Now that I’ve had my punishment can I go?” he asked meekly. “Dean.” She sighed and sat down next to him with a worried look, “You could have been hurt or killed.” She held up a hand silencing his protest. “I may not be your biological mother but in every other way I am your mom. I love my boys and want them to be safe. In my heart I feel like I gave birth to you and Sam and if I ever get the chance to meet your mouth I‘ll thank her for the gifts she gave me, you and Sam.” She said. John leaned against the wall and smiled knowing the anger was for show and she was just concerned for Dean.
The memory faded and reassembled into a dark night on a highway and a man held his son Sam with his arm wrapped around his throat. “Drop the weapons or I kill him.” The man demanded. “I don’t think so.” He heard himself say followed by a gun shot and he watched as a hole opened up in the man’s forehead. John jerked awake gasping trying to slow his racing heart. “John?” he heard the whiskey laced voice and looked up to see his wife but his son was missing. “Where he….um where he’d go?” he asked clearing his throat. “Sam? He went to check on Dean his brother who came in with you. He was injured and the doctor have yet to let us know how he’s doing.” She explained. “I know this son?” John asked confused. “He’s just our first born.” She laughed and then stopped when she noted he didn’t laugh with her. “John maybe I should get the doctor.” She offered. He grasped her wrist, “No I’m fine. Like the doctor said I’ll remember soon enough.” He answered. “Is there anything you want me to tell you or explain?” she asked. “How did we meet?” he asked, “Well it wasn’t one of the best beginnings.” She smiled gently at him. “You were a father of two and a widower. I never met Mary your wife and Dean and Sam’s mother. She died when Sam was six months old and I didn’t meet you until he was two.” She explained. “You weren’t jealous of Mary?’ he asked, “No she let you know what being loved was and she also gave birth to the two best gifts I ever got. Dean and Sam, sometimes I think it’d been nice to actually give birth to them but I wouldn’t of given up you and the boys for anything.” She said and then kissed him gently on the cheek before stroking it gently with her hand. “When we met I was eighteen and full of attitude and with a very good reason for it too. I’m afraid I was literally hell on wheels to you.” She said. “We met in an alley.” John said as his brow furrowed. “Yes that’s right! You saved me from some thugs.” She answered. Sam entered the room and took in his mother’s smile, “Good news I take it?” he asked. “Your dad’s beginning to remember some of his past so maybe he’ll remember everything soon.” She told Sam.
John frowned, “How about if you read your journal?” Karen suggested and handed him a battered leather journal that looked as if it had seen better days. John flipped the book open to a page and read what was written there. ‘My whole life changed the day my little boy was born. I never felt so scared, proud, weak or strong at that moment. Everything I’d ever been, whatever plans I had, nothing mattered anymore. My whole life belonged to him and I knew nothing would ever be better then that moment. I am proud of Dean, the way he carried himself. The way he took to the job as if born to it, maybe he was. I was always proud of him from the start. When they put him in my arms a squalling wriggling infant, all that life in that small little body. I’ll tell you that whatever you feel for anyone, however much love’s inside you, there’s more of it when you have a child. You can’t understand it until you’ve experience it. It doesn’t change as they grow into men it just grows with them. A memory formed in front of his eyes, “No you aren’t coming. I forbid it.” John said angrily. “You forbid it? Look….you can’t forbid me anything. I do what I want.” Karen answered him just as angrily. “I’ve forbidden you from accompanying me. I’m thankful for what you have done but you’re staying home.” He told her. “You chauvinistic pig! I can help you and you know it. You can’t just walk out of here. You don’t know where you’re going.” She replied. “I will find him, I have too. I can’t endanger you any further. I don’t have a time to be delicate about it. If I did, I would earn your trust and…. Ah the devil take it.” He said suddenly, before she knew what he was doing, he curved an arm around her neck, setting his free hand against the wall by her head. He leaned in, protective and aggressive all at the same time and kissed her soundly. “You are the most remarkable woman, thank you for the chance you have given me to redeem my sins.” John said. “You’re welcome but….” she began, “You‘re my family and have been for sometime.” John told her. “You’ll do anything for family, including dying? You don’t have to die for me, John. Do you hear me? I won’t let you die for me.” Karen told him. “It’s not your choice.” he answered, Karen ran for the door and by the time John reached her she’d released the bolt.
John grabbed her and spun her around, pressing Karen up against the door. He held her wrists pinned above her head, “You can’t hold me against my will.” she told him angrily. “Wanna bet?” John kissed her hard on the lips, pressing the length of his body against hers, one hand holding her two wrists above her head, the other hand roaming down over her body John suddenly pulled away from her leaving her breathing heavily. She heard a click and tried to jerk free, “What the hell?!” she jerked her hands away from his, but it was too late. He had bound her securely enough she couldn’t budge, “What is it with you and bondage?!” He bent and wrapped his arms around her legs, hefting her up over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. She kicked her feet, squirming to get loose . “Put me down or I’ll scream..” she threatened him. “Go ahead.” he told her with amusement so Karen screamed. He laid her on the bed, gathered her flailing feet and zip tied them before straightening. “I’ll be back.” he told her, “I won’t be here.” she answered angrily. “If you know what’s good for you you will be.” John responded gruffly. "We really need to work on your communication skills." She said, "Give it up, he's just not a people person and we're never going to housebreak him." Bobby said as he came out of the bathroom. "We have three kinds of family. Those we are born to, those who are born to us and those we let into our hearts." He told her. "Don't make me grieve for you too.“ Karen replied. “You are blood of my blood. For better, for worse, for war, for peace. You’re my family and I would die if I lost you." John answered. "You're tough. There’s nothing you can't handle." Karen said. "Not where you're concerned. Don’t make me lose you. I'm not that strong." John replied. John opened the door and motioned Bobby to proceed him before closing the door behind him and locking it. “She’s going to be mad as hell.“ Bobby said. “Let her be, at least she’ll be alive.“ John responded before heading for his car. The memory faded into a new one with a young man with light brown or blonde hair and green eyes, John changed a toddler's diaper. “It’s so strange to see you doing something like this after all the battles we’ve fought.“ John picked up the little boy and leaned him across his shoulder and rubbed his back.
“Damn if the two of you don't look alike. Except Colin doesn't drool as much as you.” the young man said and the two of them laughed. John lowered the little boy before straightening and then smiled when he felt a tug on his leg. He looked down to see the toddler tugging at his leg. "What do you need, sport?" the toddler wrapped his arms around John's legs, squeezed tight, then ran toward the kitchen. “Why don’t we see what your mother has made for breakfast?” he asked. “Mom cooked?” Dean asked in mock horror but his eyes were full of amusement. “Your mother’s cooking is always an adventure in one way or another.” John chuckled. Karen swatted the back of John’s head and John chuckled, “Damn make some noise woman!” he said in mock outrage and the other man laughed. “Yuck it up putz you’re next.” Karen told him, John took her into his arms. “No violence against my firstborn you wicked woman, Dean make a run for it while you’ve got the chance.” The next memory flash was his exiting a building covered in blood and the building exploded moments after he left it, the door wrenched off and flew past him by mere inches without even a flinch by him. “Where‘s Peter?” a man asked him, "If he isn’t here then he’s dead.“ John said without any emotion.“ You let him die!“ the man got angry and another man held him back. “Peter was a warrior, he understood the risks. You all did." John said. "He wasn't supposed to come with us. That was never the plan." The man replied. "Plans change in battle. Every warrior knows this.“ John answered. “You didn't know him, or you wouldn't sound so....callous!" the man answered angrily. "I'm not callous, I can honor the sacrifice he made without belittling him? He was a warrior, he had experience and courage and he knew his own mind. And he died for something he believed in. You do him no honor by questioning his judgment now." He replied. "His judgment got him killed! He should of stayed down. He shouldn't have believed in you, no one should. Because getting close to you is a one way ticket to trouble." The man stalked off. "You take too much on yourself, John. Not everything is your fault, not every crisis is yours to solve.” the man said. "I know that Deacon!" he answered, "Do you? Perhaps I can see clearer, because I've been at it longer." Deacon responded. "I'm not a warrior at all." John replied, "I thought the same once. I fought with the rest, I grieved for them by honoring what we fought for, by keeping our small group together and free." The memory faded and reformed once again.
“How do you say goodbye to a friend? How do you say I'm sorry I wasn't there for you? That I wasn’t strong enough, that I should of shot the bastard when I first had the chance? How can you say those things when he's no longer around to hear the words? And how do you get over the grief when the body is little more then memories, his soul is long gone from this life? Caleb and Jim you were among those who saved my sanity and soul but there was no savior for them. There should of been, but I failed them.” John popped the cork and took a drink and then raised the bottle to the sky as the tears poured down his face. "May I one day earn your forgiveness, my friends and may you find peace, happiness, in the fertile meadows of the afterlife." He poured some over the side of the cliff and then took a swig himself. The memory faded and reformed. “They’re greatest sons any man could ever have and they're better then any I ever deserved. At least this way they know someone out there still loves them, sometimes that's all we have in this world. When everything else falls down around us, just knowing that there's another person who will miss us when we're gone is enough to see us through our darkest moments. Never underestimate how powerful that knowledge that can be.” John said. "What the f*** have you done?" Bobby asked angrily. "I've saved my family." John answered, "You're an idiot, John. Have you any idea what they'll do to you?" he told him. "Yeah I do." He answered, "I don't understand you. You could of handed the colt over and been free." He replied. "Freedom bought on the back of a loved one isn't worth crap. He's my son and I would die for him. Whether you agree with what I did or not, I’ve done my time. It’s over.” John responded. “I don’t want to see you hurt.” Bobby replied. “I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not your problem.” He laughed softly, almost bitterly, “You came to me, John. Someone has to say it. It’s time to put the past behind you and move on. Let Mary go, let her rest in peace knowing you’ll be okay. If your time is done stop punishing yourself. Let‘s talk….” Bobby pleaded. “You don’t seem to understand that talking wouldn’t make me the man I was once:the proud soldier, the doting father, the loving husband. I can never again be those things. I don't want to do this anymore. But the truth is, I will time and time again, I will do what I have to do, until the killer takes me over. A coldness that has nothing to do with temperature and everything to do with death. and not just this death, but all deaths.”
“The ones in the past and the ones in the future. the ones that had stained my soul and the ones that would if I let it. Mary died and with her death she both condemned and freed the monster known as John Winchester. I never knew the pain of her life but I use her to remind me of all the children out there like my sons....the children who are silent in their pain. They have no voice and no hope. But I hear them, I hear the sobs that are kept inside for fear of making their lives worse, and I will not stand by and watch as Dean be torn apart by an animal. Doesn’t seem worth risking everyone.” John said, “Just yourself, you mean.” Bobby said as his eyes took on a steely look as the shutters came down, “I’m losing too many people, too many.” John explained, “So what’s the plan? You take all the risks because you can’t be killed, and leave us to do the office work?” Bobby asked snidely. “How many more people do I have to lose? Tell me that. When’s it going to stop? And how much more can I take? How many more deaths are going to pile up in my memory? I’m running out of room in here. Something’s gotta give.” John tapped the side of his head. “Maybe, you just need a break.” Bobby suggested, “There aren’t any holidays in this job. You know that.” John answered. “Everyone needs downtime.” Bobby responded. “The bad guys never takes a break. I can’t afford to stop. I just can’t bear the thought of losing you or anyone else.” John said firmly. “Not even the great John Winchester can do this job all by himself.” Bobby replied sarcastically. “You’d be surprised,” he said with a sad smile of his own,, “Then we’re truly staring into the abyss, when you stare into the abyss the abyss stares into you. John becoming the monster you’ve fought all these years is not a good thing!” John felt it then-that stillness in him-the trained warrior taking over. No emotion, only the killing machine, there could be no mistakes, not when so many innocent lives were at stake. “When she died I watched a part of you die with her. Oh, you’ve done a good job pretending to be alive, but I knew there had to come a day when you got tired of acting, pretending for those around you.” Bobby said. “I don’t want to talk about her.” John snarled, “I know that. I think you have to or you’ll live the rest of your life too damaged for any woman.”
Tawrens - July 29, 2010 05:09 PM (GMT)
“You will continue to live half a life, terrified of loving someone who someday might leave you. I think maybe I’m your best friend because the two of us survived something you thought would kill you. Life is also about joy as well as pain, about loss, about the courage it takes to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to something that scares the hell out of you, to love again. Because without love somewhere in your life, you’re playing at life. All your advantages and toys can keep you but ignoring what’s missing, someone, anyone, who can look at you, all of you, and reaffirm you’re beautiful and worthy of real happiness is the point. Any guru worth his love beads will tell you all the answers are inside you.” The memory reformed into what looked like a hospital room. “The war between the dark and the light is never ending, there’s always a price to pay for freedom. I need to know how far you’ll go to protect these ridiculous people and their corrupt world.” Azazel asked. “What is going on?” John asked “Consequences. Evil has a task, a significant place in the structure of things.” Azazel explained. “He destroyed lives.” John said angrily, “He did that no more consciously then you and I breathe the air. It was what he did. A purity so immaculate, so delicate because your evil was his good. He did what he did to survive. What you fail to grasp, is the consequences of your actions. Humans are their own worst enemy they irradiate their crops with insectides, because the tiny creatures they hate destroy their crops. When they destroy the insects, the things the insects feed on then live, flourish and grow stronger. With no natural predators, they mutate. Evil is the devourer. You can’t stop that.” Azazel explained. “He killed hundreds of people!” John raged, “They were irrelevant! Insignificant! Food to keep him sated so that he could continue.” Azazel smiled maliciously. “Why are you doing this?” he asked, "World domination, of course. Really, is there anything else worth fighting for?" Azazel asked. "I can think of a few things." John answered. "If you say love or friendship, I may have to end this pleasant little introduction right now." Azazel snarled. "It is morally wrong." John responded, "Morality is an invention of the personality. It is something you creatures require to uphold judgment against others. “
“You crave the accusatory judgment, the ability to place yourselves above another, to lift your souls. I am of the light, I judge none and I serve all. One man's morality is another man's sin. What you can not understand you seek to destroy. We are but atoms and light, these are but borrowed bodies-the soul is the great equalizer. What are you looking for, Winchester?” Azazel asked, “Inner peace. Okay, let's run this. You see a halo?” John asked. “No, but wait....are those little horns?” Azazel asked with a mischievous smile. The future stretched before him years of drinking himself into oblivion to get through the nights. Years of keeping women in his bed and out of his life to avoid pain, betrayal.… love. “Most of my life, I have been hiding from the truth, living in denial of what I am. Running from things I couldn’t control. I thought if I put enough distance between myself and my problems, they would just....go away. Well, they don't. You have to stand up and face the things that scare you most. When you don't know what you can have, you’re okay with what you've got. But I know, and I don't think I can get through without my family. I wouldn't be just fine, or okay, or anywhere close to it. I don't know how people get through. All the people left behind, the ones I have to look in the eyes and say he's gone or she's gone. I don't know how they take the next breath. You can't think about it or it makes you crazy. I’m tired. Going down in battle is one thing...Taking the next breath without them? That's not possible. This is a good thing, I’ve stood by way too many gravesides. And I’ve been in a few. It never gets easier. I'd rather know death was coming, see it as the enemy it was, then welcome it like a lover. I guess you can never truly run away from your problems. Sometimes you have to face them head on and defeat the demons that reach out of the dark to grab a hold of you." John said. “Very funny Winchester.” Azazel said. "You never do flinch do you?" he asked. "It's not in me. I expect you to abide by your word and spare my family." John responded. "You have nothing to say on your own behalf, any last words before you go to hell?" Azazel asked. "Not really." John answered. "Then prepare to die." Azazel said, “I prepared myself to die the day I decided to hunt you down. The day you died was the day I lived for, planned to rejoice as I celebrated your death with gusto. I made this deal to save my son’s life and I have absolutely no regrets.” John answered.
Karen sat sipping her drink as she watched John sleep in his hospital bed. She allowed her thoughts to drift and a memory formed in her mind. John leaned back on his chair with his long legs stretched out in front of him. His black t-shirt was pulled tight over his stomach that was rock hard and flat. His short dark hair slightly shaggy and even relaxed and dressed to disappear in a crowd he was still hard to miss. His rugged features were covered with several days growth of beard and his eyes were completely concealed behind a pair of opaque sunglasses. There was something about him that screamed power, something lethal, deadly, even raw. The woman inside her could appreciate how impressive it was to give off that vibe while completely at ease, hell her libido was singing praises to his ass alone. “He’s so beautiful, he’s like an angel.” John looked over to see a tall buxom redhead sitting with Karen smile at him. “Yep the one that fell.” Karen answered and scrunched her face up at him. “Probably has a lot of notches on his bedposts.” said the blonde on the other side of Karen. “Which bed? More then likely has a new one every night.” Karen asked, “Don’t tell me you don’t find him attractive.” asked another girl. “I find him annoying.” Karen answered, John stood fluidly and stalked over to the table like a panther on the prowl. “Hello beautiful.” he said to Karen, “Get lost.” she muttered from behind her drink. “You wouldn’t deny your hungers, would you?” he asked as he swung a chair around and sat placing a leg on either side. “More like you make me nauseous.” she slammed her drink down causing it to slosh dangerously. “Will you be home later?” he asked, “I’m always home John but I’ve got tons of time before my curfew.” she replied, John kissed her and strolled to the bar. Her memory reformed, Karen went looking for John and as she stepped out into the yard and she saw him and Bobby working. John had taken off his t-shirt due to the heat. Her gaze shifted of it’s own accord to John’s bare, broad, and thick heavily muscled chest and his muscular arms. His chest was ridged with well-defined muscles, covered with dark hair. His butt was tight and firm as it gets. “Good morning libido this is your wake up call." She murmured to herself.
His stomach was incredibly flat and hard looking, entirely exposed by his low, riding jeans. She blew out a breath and fanned herself before turning and going back into the house trying to think of anything other then how much she wanted to jump John’s body. ‘Maybe a cold shower might work.’ She thought to herself. She started to busy herself making breakfast to keep from embarrassing herself by drooling after a man who was obviously off limits. John entered the kitchen and stopped to stare at Karen as she cooked. He once again realized just how beautiful she truly was as she moved smoothly and reached toward the ladle but her hand instead came back with a pistol she had hidden in a dish towel. In the space of a breath, she came around to face him and leveled the pistol before her. “What are you doing here?” He asked, “Why?” she asked but he noted Karen didn’t lower her weapon. He stepped right up to her and he noted she didn’t lower the gun or bat an eye at his closeness. “You can put that away.” He told her. “Really and here I thought I’d probably have to shoot you again.” Karen answered. “Dad?” John swung to see Dean at the kitchen door holding Sammy’s hand. “Hey my favorite guys.” Karen said cheerfully, “Sammy wet the bed.” Dean said solemnly. “Why don’t you visit while I get him changed?” she said and helped Dean into a chair before taking Sammy’s hand and handing John the spatula with the other. “Keep an eye on things.” She said before leaving with Sammy. John turned and looked for a sign of the gun and saw no sign of it. “Is something wrong dad?” Dean asked, “No son, Bobby and I were just working outside. I bet you’re hungry.” He asked and Dean nodded enthusiastically. Karen smiled and took Sammy by his hands back to the bathroom and drew a bath for the boy before undressing him and placing him in the tub. She took a bar of soap and washcloth. “I can do it.” he said, she stopped and smiled. “You’re getting to be a big boy.” She handed him the soap and washcloth before leaving. She headed into the bedroom and stripped the bed the boys shared. She opened the room to air it out and allow the mattress to dry while she took the sheets and blankets to the washer. Her memory reformed once again.
There was something not quite right, Karen was suddenly overcome with a foreboding sensation crawling up her spine. She acted on instinct as she slid off of the bed with quick and efficient movements. The intruder in the room swung something out of the darkness and she barely managed to duck it. She shoved back and snapped the hard flat of her palm into her attacker’s nose as the intruder swung at her again and she blocked with her forearm. He punched at her and she leaned swiftly out of range, then she shot the edge of her hand up into his vulnerable throat. He backed up and then lunged forward grabbing her by the hair, yanking her so hard by it that she did a complete one eighty on the heel of her foot. His arm locking around her throat and choking her as he tried to hold her still “Name?!” he demanded. “Peel, Emma Peel.” Karen slammed her head back, crashing into the intruder’s face as she grabbed the hand with the knife in it and hit him as hard as she could. Then she whirled around and sent her knee into his groin with every last ounce of her new found strength. “Have a nice sex change you son of a bitch.” She whirled and struck again, as she swung her leg up and around high enough to force her heel into his head. The intruder flew backwards and before he had a chance to regroup, she was on him, straddling his chest and grabbing up the nearest thing she could find to threaten him with. The light switched on and she looked down to see an older man with brown hair and a brown beard. “John! Get this hellion off of me!” he demanded, “Karen get off of him he’s a friend.” John said. She lurched to her feet, bristling defensively as she moved to place herself between him and John. She looked as though she would gladly run him through and if he had a sword he’d be tempted to give it to her just to see her try. “It’s a good thing women with weapons had always been a weakness of mine.” Bobby laughed worriedly as he rubbed his nose. “You’ve got one hell of a protector there.” Bobby said and John laughed causing Karen to glare at him. The memory reformed once again. She didn’t have a home and it hurt in the empty, hollow pit in the center of her chest. When she told John she wanted to go home she’d meant she wanted to go with him. She didn’t have a place to call her own, only anything that fit in her backpack.
John had changed all that, he was the one person on earth who wouldn’t judge her, use her and who could love her unconditionally. When her family died violently at the hands of evil, she no longer wanted to live. And she wondered if she had truly been alive ever since? Or had she merely survived? Command rode easily on John’s shoulders, very much second nature to him, something he didn’t have to think to do. He was one of those rare men who was so settled in his own skin, so confident in his own strengths, that he didn’t have a problem deferring to others; he didn’t see others status as undermining his own. He didn’t see taking orders from a female as undermining his masculinity. Home her uncle had told her, was wherever you chose to make it. If fate allowed, she would chose to make it with him. His mouth covered hers in a long desperate kiss that stole the soul from her as she clutched at his shoulders that had borne so much, and held on for dear life, "I always viewed not having attachments as a strength. I thought I was better off, not getting too close to people I'd probably just end up hurting. I'm more of a target then before, and I can't live my life closed off from everyone....I'm a target independently of anything you'll ever do. And I assure you, I can take care of myself. I can't keep the people I care about safe by distancing myself. They're at risk anyway; They’re always going to be. I just have to love now, while I can. Now is all we have." He turned and walked towards the desk and she noted he had the finest butt she'd ever seen in her life-she could bounce a quarter off of that butt - or break a tooth biting it. His entire body was a symphony of sinew and grace. And he moved like lightning. Fierce. Strong. Fluid. She'd never known that a man could move like that.. "I want you to see the kind of life I lead. I want you to see that I don't care about anyone other than my friends and family, and I will hunt anyone - anyone - who threatens them." John said. He had on his jeans and nothing else, his dark hair was wet, curling at his neck. He hadn’t shaved and looked dark and almost unapproachable as she came into his arms. She didn’t understand how she had come to this place but she was glad she had made it.
Tawrens - July 29, 2010 05:10 PM (GMT)
John had been released from the hospital and she took him back to the motel after a short visit to Dean’s hospital room. Dean was recovering but would still be in the hospital for another day or two. Karen helped John to the bathroom where she’d drawn a bath for him and helped him sit on the edge of the tub. “Can you get undressed and bathe by yourself?“ she asked, “Yes I can handle it from here.” he answered. “You’re sure?“ she asked. “I’m a big boy and can handle it myself.” She chuckled and handed him a washcloth and a bar of soap, then placed a razor, shaving cream, and mirror on the floor within his reach. "If you need me, call." She headed out and John made sure she was gone before undressing and sliding slowly into the warm water. He washed as quickly as he could and then he got the razor and began to shave, he hissed and he flinched as he cut his chin. "What happened?" Karen said as she rushed into the bathroom. "I cut myself." she grabbed a piece of tissue and covered it. "Can't I leave you alone for three seconds?" she took the razor from him and carefully raked it over his cheek finishing shaving it before she took his chin in her hand and gently forced him to lean his head back so she could shave his neck. Karen put the razor up on the sink. "I know you're not helpless, but do you need me to help dry you off?" "she asked. “No, I think I can do it." He answered, "You’re sure?" she asked. "Yes." He answered and she left him alone. John slowly rose from the tub and wrapped a towel around his waist before placing a towel on his hair and drying it with his right hand to avoid aggravating his injured shoulder. He walked slowly and stiffly out into the motel room. John sat on the edge of the bed with his elbows on his knees, and his head in his hands. He was so tired of everything. Tired of trying to hold himself together. Tired of hurting. Of longing for things he couldn't have like his memory and very likely his sanity. He just wanted one minute of peace. Karen sat down beside him and John leaned sideways and laid his head in her lap, her hand trembling, she brushed his hair back, he pulled back to look up at her. Those dark eyes singed her with sincerity.
Dean groaned in his sleep, the muscles in his body twitching as he tried to run away from the nightmare. The muffled cries awakened John from an uneasy sleep and he rose grabbing his gun just in case. John hurried as the screams grew louder, Dean was obviously having another nightmare and from the sounds of it it was a bad one. As he reached Dean’s room he saw Bobby outside looking in. At John’s arrival he held up a finger and motioned John to silence. His heart began to race as his mind ran through the possibilities for the reason to be quiet. John saw Karen seated on the edge of the narrow bed and Dean cowered in a small, quivering mound under his blankets. John started towards them but Bobby stopped him and mentioned for him to watch. “Now stop that.” Karen said softly, Dean stopped shrieking and poked his head out to peer owlishly at her with huge green eyes and far too serious to belong to the face of a little boy. Dean fought unsuccessfully to keep his lower lip from trembling and to stop the tears that coursed down his babyishly plump cheeks. ‘What kind of world demands so much of a child?’ John asked himself. Karen stood and the boy tensed instantly, as long as boys needed him he was able to keep himself sane, sane enough to at least take care of the boys. Now that Dean was doing better, John was slowly falling apart. Most nights he awakened at least once with the sensation of something huge crushing on his chest. Three soft feathers like fingers being drawn lightly across the back of his neck. It was hard to say, exactly, who needed who the most, John needed him and Sam to help him deal with what had happened, but it was wrong to depend so much on Dean because he was such a little kid. “You aren’t going to die are you?” Dean asked Karen. “No I’m not going to die.” She answered quietly, “Promise?” Karen nodded, realizing rather guiltily that she was making a promise she might not be able to keep but Dean needed certainty in his life now, even if it meant lying a little. “I promise.” She said as her voice broke with emotion. “Can you stay a while?” Dean asked in a timid voice, “Sure under one condition. You’ve got to get under those covers and let me tuck you in.” She tickled him and Dean squealed in delight.
John knew the boys obviously needed a female in their lives, things men couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to handle for little boys like kissing boo boos and reassuring them after nightmares. Dean slid down under the covers grabbing his pillow to him with a sigh and Karen lay down next to him and gently drew him into the crook of her body. “Go to sleep angel boy, I’ll make sure nothing happens to you. I’m your personal guardian angel.” She said and planted a kiss on his forehead causing Dean to snuggle closer to her. John’s heart clutched in actual physical pain, he was used to being alone until Mary and then the boys so he had no problem dealing with the loneliness but how did he let the boys deal with it? John knew he shouldn’t let the boys get too attached to Karen but right now it seemed John needed her as much as the boys did. He returned to bed but found it difficult to sleep since his mind tumbled with all the possibilities. A noise caught his attention and at first he thought it was Dean waking again but it wasn’t. Karen was quietly exiting Bobby’s obviously trying not to wake anyone in the house. John followed her into the city and down a residential street where he was positive she was going to meet someone. When she reached the street her pace picked up and then she suddenly stopped. It seemed to John as if something had caught her attention and John came closer noting that she was staring at a lump in the middle of the sidewalk. A lump that looked suspiciously like a body, it was a body of a man who looked as if he had more damage to his body then a simple fall would of done. John stopped behind her, “Karen?“ Karen raced up to him and beat her fists against him, anywhere she could strike him. Her eyes were swamped with tears, her voice lost to the sobs and wails that came out of her throat. John took the abuse in silence. What could he do? What was there to say? She flailed out using her fists and finally John took a hold of her wrists and pinned her. Incapable of speaking she wrapped her arms around his solid warmth and wept softly into his chest. Karen was in his arms, her body trembling as she cried, John found himself at a complete loss with what to do. “Your friend….” John trailed off unsure how to continue.
“Michael.” She interrupted a rock in her throat made it impossible to talk but she couldn't bear to have him being reduced to nothing more then a nameless victim. He had a life and he had a name. He was more then just some nameless victim on the street, he had somebody who cared. “Perhaps it’s selfish. But I want him to mean something.“ She turned and slammed her fisted hands against the trunk of a nearby tree. "Stop you'll injure yourself." his hands closed over hers from behind. “I don’t need you!” she said angrily as she swiped at the tears on her face. Stubborningly refusing any and all help, regardless of how badly she might need it. Defiant, proud and so afraid to be hurt. He knew that kind of fear personally. He was coming to realize just how strong she truly was and how alone as well. He found it easy to picture Karen as a little girl who refused help from any and all who tried to help her. Her eyes were haunted, and her expression was grim and focused as though she were trying to outrun an enemy. It must be hell for her, watching good men and women die, knowing there's not a damn thing you can do about it. The look on her face would stay with him for the rest of his life. Karen pulled away from him angrily and wrapped her arms around her shivering body as she went back to the crumpled mess that used to be human. John could barely manage to see him as the human being he obviously been once. Suddenly without warning she came at him, slamming his body against a wall violently knocking the breath out of him. He grabbed her wrists barely in time to save his eyes as she tried to use her legs to trip him up, but he was way too fast, there was nothing sane looking back at him. The Karen he knew had retreated to a safe warm place in her mind where nothing could hurt her. John watched the strong woman she had been disintegrate by degrees as the warrior he’d come to respect fell to pieces in front of him as she sank to her knees and took the lump John couldn’t swear to was a man and held him to herself. There was a fragility to her, she appeared strong but it was obvious she wasn’t, someone or something had hurt this woman. “Do you want to stay here and waste his sacrifice, or do you want to come with me and make his killers pay for it?” he asked. “No, because of the nature of war, individuals aren’t important.” Karen answered. “They are to those who loved them.” John answered.
When she had bared her teeth at him and began to twist and struggle like a lunatic, he knew she was going to hurt herself if he didn't stop her. He pinned her arms against his body in a tight hug. Her teeth clamped over his neck and he knew if she wanted to she could probably shred his neck. "You need to come back because if you don't, he wins." John told her quietly. She let go of his neck and leaned back to look at him, her eyes were confused. John took his chance and swung hitting her in the chin knocking her out cold. “You’re more trouble then your worth.” John grunted as he tossed her over his shoulder like a bag. He said her name pressing her close as if that alone would bring the warmth back to her body. Michael had taught her not to show weakness not to anyone. When someone was weak, one was vulnerable. John took a hold of her arm and she twisted her arm this way and that, trying to escape. Suddenly John realized she held a knife in her hand. She struck out at him and he managed to jump back, but just barely. He grabbed her wrist holding the knife and used his strength to force her to drop it, kicking it aside. She lunged for it, but his hold on her allowed him to easily pull her back. She tried to kick him but he held onto her firmly regardless of here attempts to escape. A sharp elbow in his side caused him to lose hold of her arm which she used to smack him in the chin. “Damn!” John cursed and released her pushing her away as he wiped the blood from his face. “You lie to me! You take my kids! And now you hit me!” John said angrily. “Yeah I am, a liar! I never tried to be anything else, because I know that my mission is more important then your life, your friends lives…..your kids lives!” She screamed at him. “Daddy?” a small trembling voice said and John turned to see Dean standing in the doorway rubbing his eyes with both of his hands and he knew it wasn’t because of sleepiness. “It’s okay son.” John reassured him as he started towards Dean only to be surprised when Dean ran past him and launched himself at Karen flinging his small arms around her legs before looking up at her. “You promised you wouldn’t leave me.” Dean said quietly and John saw unshed tears begin to fall as she slowly slumped to the floor. “Everything’s going to be okay.” Dean told her as he wrapped his small arms around her neck and hugged her tucking his face into her shoulder.
“You walked into what could have been certain death. Why would you do such a thing?” she asked “Because you could have been killed.” He answered. “I wasn’t and you risked your life for mine as if you had no responsibilities. It was a selfish thing to do. Are you so eager to value my life above your own?” she asked. “It was my decision to make! I am not used to people criticizing my actions.” John replied. “Well maybe they should! If I had known I wouldn’t of let you do something so stupid! Why do you value my life above your own?” she asked. “Because I’m not so special that people would be deprived for my sake! Don’t blame yourself for being a victim.” He said. “What do you know about my feelings?! Stop trying to help me! The rescue is over. And you don’t have to be nice to me any longer. Don’t pity me because I wept all over you before. I’m not some weakling girl who needs a pat on the head and praises.” She said angrily. “What you need is peace and rest. You’re too hard on yourself. I swear you are enough to try the patience of a saint or is that what you’re trying for?” He asked. “It’s all I know!” she answered, “It’s all you’ll let yourself know.” John answered. “You should of killed him!” she yelled at John. “I couldn’t because I was too busy saving your bratty backside.” He answered. “One life in exchange for all those other lives you could be saving?” she asked. “One very important life, very important to me at least. I have a feeling this might work out in the long run.” John said. “I’m glad you think so.” Karen said. “Provided I do not kill you before then.” He replied. He saw Karen and Dean back to bed, he decided to take a stroll around Bobby’s house to check the windows and doors. A short time later he came to check on her and found her in the throes of a nightmare. “You’re alright, you’re safe.” He watched, trying to comfort them both. “I couldn’t find you.” She cried, “I’m right here.” Getting on the bed, he propped himself up on one elbow beside her and stroked his free hand over her hair in a gentle caress. "Shh. Sleep I'll keep you safe." her trembling stopped. In the dark, John's arms came around her, drew her against him. He felt her heart, the steady beat of it, against his chest. His arm, the comforting weight of it, over her waist. He knew her in the dark- here, with her there were no questions, just answers.
He was needed there for her as no on else had ever been. "I'm scared. It must be nice to never be afraid." Karen said. "It's also kinda of crippling. You don't want to be what I am." John murmured quietly in her ear. He knew he was beyond redemption but she obviously thought otherwise. The memory faded to another, With a choking cry John shot up from a nightmare, he found himself tangled up in the sweat-cold sheets. He was panting hard and he could feel the perspiration on his neck and chest. He struggled with the sheets trying to get them untwisted from around him. After a few moments he gave up trying when Duke lurched across his lap making whuffling noises. He scratched the dog’s head, “Who said you could sleep on the bed? I believe we discussed your sleeping arrangements and they didn’t include the bed.” Duke gazed up worshipfully, he couldn’t help but smile at the dog. “For a mutt you’re a real con artist you know that.” he told the dog as he rose from the bed and headed over to the table. Duke a black mutt with white on his chest and paws showed some signs of black lab and greyhound. John wasn’t sure but there also might be some Doberman as well. The dog had shown up following Karen back to the motel which had been a good thing because she’d been attacked and the dog had launched himself at the demon possessed guy in an attempt to protect her. Karen had given him food and a bath, John had come back to find a wet dog trying to wipe the water off on the rug and bed. He barely looked big enough to be three months old but the vet said he was at least a year old. He’d smelled horribly and each of his ribs could been clearly seen but that had quickly changed since Duke as Karen had named him was an incredible mooch. He found even he wasn’t immune to those big brown eyes that could look adoring when they needed to be. When John would walk him he’d chase just about anything, as far as he could determine the dog had spent a long time hunting rodents as his only source of food. The dog was a lot like Karen, small but determined and made of strong stuff. Neither was easily deterred once they set their minds to something. The mutt could get out of just about any place you put him just like Karen, they were both the ultimate escape artists. The memory faded and another formed.
“I’ll get some glasses.” Bobby said as he headed for the kitchen. John though wasn’t paying any attention to him anymore, His attention had been grabbed by a picture on Bobby’s mantel. A picture of Mary who was literally glowing as she smiled at the camera, the loose dress she wore couldn’t disguise the bulge of her pregnant stomach. John had his arm wrapped around her shoulder, kissing her cheek. “John,….uh damn. I’m sorry, I’ve had those pictures up for so long, I don’t even see it anymore. I didn’t mean to leave it there for you-.” Bobby said. “No don’t be sorry I’m okay.” John answered, “Is that why you tore into Karen for taking the boys on an outing?” he asked. “They’re my kids, Bobby!” he said angrily and made an aggressive move towards Bobby before he managed to stop himself. "You're walking the edge, I can see it in your eyes. The pit is deep and I’d hate to see you fall." Bobby said. “Spare me the concern, you're the last person I need to hear it from Bobby." John replied. "Yeah, you got it all under control right?" he asked, "That's right." John answered. "You keep telling yourself that and maybe you'll believe it some day. Because looking at you now, I sure as hell don't. You got one foot in the grave and you’re a step away from making those boys orphans." Bobby said. "f*** you!" John answered unable to control his anger. "You're looking for an enemy? Then take a look in the mirror. That's the one son of a bitch that's going to beat you everytime. The point of life is to become better souls." Bobby said. “To have that I’d have to have a soul first.” John looked down at himself, at a gun that had without him meaning to had become a kind of second skin. The gun that had somehow become a comforting presence against his hip. The nature of the other John, the one that carried a gun and killed with it, when he had to. The John whose birth he'd tried so hard to prevent. He had hated it so much, in the beginning. Funny how something trying to kill you could help change your mind....how you could find yourself doing just about anything to save your own life, a loved ones life or the life of a friend....and not regret it after. That had been the hardest part, the not regretting. Never once had he imagined he was a man who could kill without regrets.
Even though who-what he killed was evil and deserving to be killed. He thought he'd care a little bit-if only because they'd been alive. Turned out he could hate with the best of them. Once it had all seemed clear to him, and what his future should hold, where he belonged....now he wasn’t sure about anything. How could he ever expect to integrate back into the old life he'd once known? He only knew that the half-life he was living was over starting now. Being a Hunter was his choice, his destiny. Abruptly he felt bereft, as though he'd lost something precious and of profound importance. And in a blinding flash of insight he knew what it was, his innocence. He thought he’d lost it when Mary had died but apparently he hadn’t. Today was the actual date of the death of his innocence. “People I love die.” John said brokeningly. “People die, whether you love them or not. You promised to help that woman but there is nothing wrong with being attracted to her.” Bobby said. “Not while we’re under threat. I can’t afford the distraction.” John complained. “There will always be crises and threats out there but we can’t let it defeat us, otherwise death wins.” Bobby explained. “No matter what we think of to defeat them, they come back. We cannot relax our guard for a moment until they are beaten once and for all.” He answered. “And how long will it be until you’re sure.” Bobby asked. “I know what it feels like to wake up…. and discover between one breath and the next ….that your children….your future….that you’ll never see them again? Can you imagine? It was just too much….so I buried it. Tried to convince myself….it was another man’s life. It was the only way I could cope with the loss. How can I go through that again? How can I let myself love my sons when I might have to lose them? I have to be a soldier, I can’t afford this vulnerability.” John explained. That’s one thing I’ve learned it’s the memories of our family, those we’ve lost are something we should embrace not run away from. I know it’s worth having again. I understand the responsibilities but you need to get used to the idea that you have other responsibilities now. For one a responsibility to the woman you promised to help.” Bobby responded.
“And it’s her that I’m trying to protect!” John exclaimed angrily “She doesn’t need a protector! She needs someone who’s willing to live for her, not just die for her! Haven’t you figured it out yet? Family isn’t some incidental thing that takes a back seat. Family is where everything begins, sure you need to protect the future but it’s those boys who will create it. Without teaching them what matters, there’s no future to protect so don’t tell me being a father is to them is less important then being a Hunter! Damnit, are you ever going to stop fighting everything that moves? Why is it so hard for you to accept things as they are and make the best of them?” Bobby chided him. “You don’t think I know that? You think I like being at war all the time? That I wouldn’t change if I could? I crossed a line I can’t uncross. All I can do is pay the price for it.” John answered. “Fine but don’t make everyone else pay the price because you’re too busy wallowing in self pity.” Bobby said. ”You think you can get me to change with guilt? Add it to the pile, I’ve got plenty already. You still don’t get it! I’ll be an outcast forever!” John hissed. “I do understand, I know how it feels to be an outcast. All my life, I’ve been an outsider one way or another. But that hasn’t made me weak. It’s just meant I’ve had to find my strength from within-and find others who would benefit from the strength and give me theirs in return. I always found it to be a source of strength-a unique perspective that I can offer, heritage I can take pride in. Yes a home is a thing worth fighting for but you can lose your home without losing who you are. As a Marine you’ve made some tough calls that weren't always appreciated and you've lost men on your own and suddenly it's not so black and white anymore. I think you were blinded by your own pain. I think somewhere inside you there’s a decent person still trying to get out from under that rage. Don’t let the rage eat you alive John.” Bobby responded. “I've done things that would give you nightmares for the rest of your life. I am a warrior and my hands are stained with the blood of innocents. There is nothing heroic about my life." he answered. “You can’t change what happened or rewind time to turn it back. You keep yourself isolated from things that’ll make you slow down and live. You can’t permit yourself to feel because there is danger in feeling.” Bobby said. “Now you can pick on someone your own size.” Karen said as she entered the room. “You’re not my size. You’re tiny, only your mouth is big.” John snarled at her.
“I want you to learn how to grit your teeth and accept my help because you’re getting it whether you want it or not. Stop being an obstinate pain in the ass and give in gracefully, you’re not going to win.” Karen told him. “The hell I’m not! Mary’s death was so painful that two years later grief still kicks me awake in the morning, keeps me company all day, and crawls into bed with me at night! Mary has been in the face of every young girl who has no idea what is walking the streets alongside her, masquerading as human. She is all the people I couldn’t save! Don’t ever try to humanize me again because I’m not and never have been human! I’m a predator always on the hunt, the hunt is all there is for me.” He replied. “You are human! You are….” Karen began. Suddenly she was trapped there between the wall and his body, with no awareness of how she had gotten there. He held both her hands pinned above her head at the wrist by one of his. The other was around her slender throat. He looked every inch the avenging angel in a way no other man ever could. “When it comes down to combat I’m best alone. I know I can take care of myself. It’s watching out for someone else that never seems to work out. I’m not the nurturing type. I may be ultimately on the side of the angels but it’s because I’m the angel of death!” he snarled at her. “Don’t let yourself die, leave things left unsaid and undone. You can’t lose hope because hope is all we’ve got. Grief doesn’t end, you just get numb from hurting yourself on it after a while? You’re afraid if you stopped hurting, that would mean that you stopped loving her!” she told him and felt his hand tightening on her throat as rage warred with grief in his eyes. “Shut up!” he hissed, “Make me!” she challenged him. John let go of her and stepped back. She exploded launching herself on top of him, and she hit him so hard that he toppled backwards sending them skidding across the floor. She straddled him, and punched him in the stomach hard. Not even noticing his wince of pain. She tried to punch him again and he grabbed her wrist holding it when she tried to punch him again. Karen swung at him with her other hand and he caught that, too. “You’re acting crazy!” He yelled at her as she tried to yank her fists from his hands.
“To hell with you! Rip away everything that meant a damn to you and see how well you do!” She yelled at him. “I have lost everything that I care about, they did take it from me!” John responded just as angrily. “You lost your wife but you still have your friends! You still have your children! I don’t!” she cried out before slumping against him as she began crying. John unsure what to do stroked her back and murmured gently to her trying to soothe her. The memory once again changed.
“I’ll take a shower.” Karen said, “I can’t let you do that, you obviously have a concussion. I don’t want you falling down and reinjuring yourself.: John said. “I’m not going to let you give me a bath. I’m not a baby!” Karen answered angrily, “Right now you’re my baby, so don’t argue with me. It’s alright. You’re not well. Let me take care of you. You’ll be safe with me.” He told her. He entered the bathroom and started the tub. He tested the temperature of the water before pouring something in that she quickly realized was bubble bath. “Get in and soak, I’ll be back in a minute.” John left the room. Karen quickly stripped and climbed into the tub intending to quickly bathe and get out as she usually did. She barely managed to get into the tub and covered by the bubbles when John reentered the bathroom causing her to hunch down in the bubbles. “Here take them.” He held out a couple of aspirin and a glass of water. She took them quickly and returned the glass to John. John placed the glass on the sink, Karen groaned and John turned to see her eyes were closed as she sank lower into the water. “Are you all right?” He asked concerned as he reached out to her and found himself flipping into the water next to her as he heard her laugh. “You think that’s funny do you?” he asked sputtering as he wiped water from his eyes. He grabbed her neck drawing her face gently to his and he kissed her passionately. Her moan brought him quickly back to his senses and he abruptly pulled back from her. There was no place for a woman in his life. If something happened to him, he wouldn’t be able to protect her….just as he had failed Mary. John stood and got out of the tub, she looked up at him puzzled. “What’s wrong?” she asked obviously concerned for him. “It’s nothing.” He replied, “You were just kissing and then all of a sudden you’re acting as if you’ve committed a crime. I know you’re attracted to me” she answered.
“My feelings for you are inconsequential. I knew what I was doing when I became a Hunter. I lost everything I had to become what I am.” John explained. “I live the way I have to in order to survive every day. Do I do abhorrent things? Yes. Do they bother me? No, not anymore. The lines blurred into non existence a long time ago. I have nothing to offer a woman, but every once in a while, I yearn for the taste of what I can’t have. Someone has to stand for justice, without it, the actions we go through day-to-day mean little. I can’t rest as long as there are those who have the power to steal, to rape, to murder, and no one to anything to stop it..” John explained. “Is it worth your life?” she asked, “Yes. And a man has to take a stand because if he doesn’t, he keeps running, then he isn’t much of a man.” John answered and then left the bathroom closing the door behind him. John leaned against the door and released his breath and looked down at his hands and saw they were trembling. He could withstand pain, being tortured, shot, knifed. He’d sewn his own flesh and he had killed numerous times, but his hands had always remained rock steady. Nothing shook his calm because that cool detachment was what kept him alive. Emotions could get a man like him killed. There was no redemption for him. He didn’t expect or want it. He can take a hell of a lot of pain. It took near starvation and absolute agony for him to be able to stand on his own two legs, to get where he is today. The John he’d known didn't come out of that hole he fell into when Mary died. Something cold, very cold did.. He’d been s a very good man, he has a very noble heart underneath all those defenses but that man had died with Mary. The memory reformed once again. John took a firm hold of her arm, “Get your head back in here before you get it blown off.” He yelled. “I hit them! They backed off!” Karen said with a big smile, her face flushed with excitement. “No you didn’t I’m outrunning them, don’t you do something so stupid again. You’re lucky you didn’t fall out the window and get your head shot off.” John chided her. “Are you going to kiss where it hurts?” she teased him, “You should be so lucky.” John answered. Karen turned and started firing out the window again. Suddenly a bullet tore through her chest and strangely, it wasn't pain she felt but an odd sort of pressure.
She fell in the window and back against the passenger’s seat. The gun fell from her hand as she let out a whimper of pain. "Don't leave. Do you hear me? Don't you leave me. Don't you die on me!" Karen groaned as the pain radiated through her. “You promised Dean you wouldn’t leave him remember?!” he was hoping to get a rise out of her and get her to hold on. “Son of a bitch!” she snarled at him, he wasn’t sure if it was because of what he said or because he was pressing his hand against the wound on her chest in an attempt to stop the bleeding while driving as carefully as he could with his other hand. John pulled up in front of the ER and quickly stowed the guns under the seat. He exited the car quickly heading for the passenger side where he opened the door and gently lifted Karen out of the car. He kicked the door shut with his foot before heading for the ER. A nurse quickly called for a gurney as she threw orders around like a master drill sergeant. He filled out form and lied to the cops about how Karen got shot. Now he sat in the waiting room waiting to hear if she would be okay. John stared down at his scarred hands, “I’m sorry. I know I didn't protect her well this time but I promise I'll do better. Don't take her from me. I can't live without her.” He would give his life to trade places with her. He had offered his life to god in exchange for hers more then once so far. He had prayed, bargained, raged, and begged god not to take her. He lowered his face into his hands, but only moments later he felt someone standing next to him and he looked up to see a woman smiling at him gently. The memory reformed into another memory. “I know you’re too big to ask for help, but I’m not. You need some attention.” Karen said, “That can wait. Tell me about…. “ John replied. “If you loose much more blood, you’re going to pass out and save us all a lot of trouble.” Bobby answered. John started to fumble with his jacket and Karen came to help John take off his shirt and jacket, John didn’t make a sound. “I can see how deep the wounds are.” Bobby said. “They’re aren’t that bad.” John responded. “Be quiet, you could be bleeding to death but refusing to admit it. Hold him in place by his shoulders. This may hurt..” Bobby said. “I think I can handle it.“ John responded with amusement. Karen did as she was told and she watched as Bobby tended to John’s wounds, she didn’t even feel him flinch.
What had John been through that allowed him to gain such control over pain? After he was finished and had bandaged John’s wounds he gave John a glare. “Let’s get him to bed.” Bobby said, "No I’m not!” John replied. "I don't think you sh-." Karen began. “Said I'm good. Took a few hits before and I don’t need you two treating me like an infant.” John complained. “I swear you’d make a mule look agreeable.” Bobby fumed and stomped out of the room. He’s right you know. Come on I‘ll help you to bed.” Karen said. “I haven’t forgotten how to walk you know.” John said in an amused tone. “Just like you haven’t forgotten how to be a pain in the ass.” she responded, “Do they have a vaccine for that?” he asked. “No, not yet.” she answered. “I’m gonna walk to my own bed. Not letting you drag....me there. I don’t need any help getting up.” John complained. “Easy big guy-" she teased, “You know this isn’t the life I wanted.” he said softly. “What kind of life did you want?” she asked. “One that was a crash course in self destruction. One that made me feel powerful and sent me home drunk and bleeding more nights then not.” The memory reformed once again. “I’m Hannah what can I get you.” asked the pretty young thing tending the bar. “A beer would be nice.” John said, “Bottle or draft?” she asked. “Surprise me pretty lady.” he responded and she laughed. “One surprise coming up.” she drew a draft and set it in front of him. “Here you go.” he handed her money, she returned with the change. “Are you single?” he asked, “Are you hitting on me?” she asked smiling. “No I’m…well no it’s my son, he’s meeting me here and he will hit on you fair warning.” John responded. "You have a son?” Hannah said, "What do I look that disreputable? I do. Actually I have five and they’re great kids in spite having been around me. Somehow they managed to overcome the ill fate of having been cursed with me as a father. You'll like them especially Sammy. He's a lot like me, only much better-looking. He‘s very smart as well, he has a full boat ride to Stanford and he‘s studying pre-law." John said with obvious pride. “What about your other sons?” she asked. “Well three of them are little guys, way to young for some a lovely lady such as you. My eldest is Dean, he is twenty five. Better looking and smarter then I ever was at his age.” he replied.
“Hey beautiful how about some beers?” a guy who leaned against the bar said in a lecherous tone obviously eyeballing Hannah with intent that no decent man would ever think of. “I think you’ve had enough.” Hannah said and the man grabbed her wrist roughly enough to cause bruising. “Let go of the lady.” John said quietly, “This tramp is no lady.” the guy said rudely. “Let her go.” John said his voice even lower as he placed a hand on the man’s wrist. “You going to do something about it gramps?” the guy snarled and John noticed two guys the size of city blocks came up behind the man obviously friends of his intent on backing up their friend. John took one of the man’s fingers and bent it back until the man gasped in pain and released Hannah’s wrist. “You’re a dead man.” the next thing he knew he was trying to hold his own in a brawl against three guys. He was holding his own until he was handling one guy and noted movement behind him, after he flattened the guy he turned to see Dean dealing with the original jerk who’d obviously thought it was a good idea to pull a knife and try to knife John in the back. If it hadn’t been for Dean John would have been wounded or worse. “What the hell are you doing here?” he demanded “Don’t get pissed dad.” Dean replied. “I’m not pissed, and, I’m your father. I’m the one whose supposed to be protecting you. Not the other way around. Which is why I’m having a hell of a time coming to grips with the fact.” John explained. “I decided I see the wisdom in your advice.” Dean answered. “Has hell frozen over?” John teased. A new memory reformed pushing the old one away. John turned on the balls of his feet as his hand went to his pocket to dig out his weapon. He’d always been fast but this time, he wasn’t fast enough. At the same instant Don leapt in front of him, and took the knife meant for John in his chest. John fired his gun and the man went down with a bullet in his forehead. The open eyes left no doubt to the attacker’s condition. He was on his knees almost immediately, pressing a hand to the wound as blood deep and dark gushed through his fingers. “How bad he get me?” Don asked, “Not so bad.” John replied. “Damn, you used to be a better liar.” Don teased. “You’ll be all right.” John responded, “You know I’m done for.” Don answered. “Quiet, Don, the paramedics are coming.” John said.
“Oh, screw ‘em. Will you light a candle for me?” he asked. “Yes.” John promised, he sighed as if releasing a heavy burden before turning his face to the side and dying. Helpless sorrow flooded over him, he could do nothing but rock, his bloody arms clinging to Don while the sorrow drowned him. His eyes stark, naked when he lifted them to Karen’s. Kneeling with him, she put her arms around him, drew him to her. John laid his head on her shoulder and grieved. He’d hoped for rage, even searched for it but he couldn’t find it. Something not wholly on the side of the angels moved inside him flashing across his eyes. “I work for the dead, I can’t count the number of them I’ve stood over. I dream of them. All those lost faces, those stolen lives. It’s hard, it’s so hard to see those faces in your sleep, you wake up hurting. Knowing I can’t do anything else. I’ve wanted to help as long as I can remember. It was my one clear thought and it’s all I can do to ease the pain.” She put her hand on his and under her fingers she could feel the violence being ruthlessly restrained. Then his eyes cooled, a change so abrupt it brought a chill to her. He was a man who barely lost control and now he was on the edge of rage and mired in grief. There was nothing he could do to change it, to fix it. Nothing he could do but hunt down the one who’d done it and balance the scales. He knew the varied and sundry reasons a man could kill but none were more fierce, none were more vital then to hold safe what he loved. The living predator inside of him refused to let go of the need for revenge. It wasn't just the shadows under his eyes that worried her, but the cold set of his face. “I will never let anyone hurt you. I would die first.” John said, “That’s what I’m afraid of.” Karen said. “I wish, I could tell you don’t be afraid. I wish I could take your fears away but I’m here for you, for us, and I’m not going away.” John said. “I’ve spent my life not caring, just doing what needs to be done.” John told her. “That’s a lie.” Karen responded, “You don’t know me.” John answered angrily, “You haven’t spent your life not caring, you’ve spent your life trying not to care. I know you, I see who you really are, underneath the armor and defenses. You care, and it hurts because that you can’t save everyone but still, you go on everyday, fighting a battle you didn’t start, that you never wanted, because it’s the right thing to do.”
Tawrens - July 29, 2010 05:11 PM (GMT)
“Most people ignore evil, of those who believe in evil, few do anything but kneel and pray. Most people shy away from those in need, most aren’t willing to put their butts on the line to save any soul but their own. I admire you more then you could possibly know. You give me strength, I never knew I had.” she replied. He really didn’t like how Karen saw him for who he was. It made him vulnerable and in his life vulnerable was not something a Hunter looked for. The memory reformed once again. “What’s your body made of?" John asked, "Skin. Blood. Bones." She answered. "Deeper then that. Down to the cellular level, from cell structure to chains of molecules, then impossibility even closer to the dance of atoms, the fuzzy glowing zip of electrons. Deeper and deeper to the smear of quarks. It's all the same, the barriers between one and the other are illusion. Concentrate now, and you can feel it. Who are you?” he asked, “Karen Harper.” she replied. “Strip away the name, who are you?” he asked, “A woman, eighteen. A daught-“ she said. “Just labels, who are you?” he asked angrily. “I don’t understand.” she began. “Close your eyes. You exist only inside yourself. No one else sees you. You are without censure, beyond judgment. There is no law. No right or wrong. How do you feel when you see your friend’s body? Now tell me who you are?” he asked firmly. “Vengeance.” she said, “Better. What are you?” he asked. She looked at him confused, “I’m stronger, smarter, faster, and hungrier then everything else out there. And I don’t apologize to the prey when I take it down. Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it’s those hours that make us what we are. We stand strong or we cower. We emerge victorious, tempered by our trials, or fractured by a permanent damning line. Life isn’t fair. It’s one of the first lessons we learn. But life is precious, regardless of what we endure to live it. I believe that the people who come and go throughout our lifetime are meant to do so for a purpose. Some teach us a lesson. Some give us joy. And some appear for the sole reason of showing us the way life should be lived. I have had many people in my life, and each and every one has been an influence as to the man I have become. Think about what your body is capable of, what will push it to the limit, what won’t. To use a tool effectively you must first know it’s capabilities.”
“Throughout the centuries mankind has turned to the stars and heavens in our pursuit of faith but only by looking within ourselves can we truly find it. The death of even one of us….diminishes us all. Don’t see yourself as instigators of force, forces are intrinsic to the universe. We don’t create them, merely channel them. The attacker’s force and the defender’s force are part of the same continuum. Understanding that oneness is the key to achieving your goals. By understanding your opponent-feeling what he feels- you gain the key to success. Empathy is not merely a function it’s two opposing stances on the same subject, neither of which has any real evidence to back it up. The war between the dark and the light is never ending, there’s always a price to pay for freedom. I need to know how far you’ll go to protect these people. Your enemy what he did to survive. What you fail to grasp, is the consequences of your actions. “ Karen leaned casually against the door, trying not to look like it was holding her up, the run they'd just returned from she no doubt considered cruel and unusual punishment. "Guns jam and misfire and they aren't always effective against every enemy." John said as he shoved a sword at her. "You can't be serious?" she responded, "It's the smallest I have and your instincts were good. You need to pay attention to this! I can't be everywhere, and even when I am there are somethings from which I may not be able to protect you." he answered. "I didn’t expect to." John surprised her by attacking and she barely twisted out of the way before the blow could land. A second later, his sword was aimed at her jugular, she found myself staring at cool hazel eyes that she could see were assessing her. He slowly circled her, never crossing his feet or giving her a chance to unbalance him. "Watch for the shift in weight, the drop of the shoulder, the slight tensing of the muscles that precipitates an attack. Be confident but not overconfident. Stay open and flexible. Hit the person not the sword! It isn't the sword that's trying to kill you." John said as his blade swept down, then suddenly reversed it's stroke. Karen made a slashing move on a downward arc and got a glancing hit as he danced out of reach.
"Remember to breathe." John’s feet made hardly any sound against the polished wood floor despite his size and his sword was like an almost living extension of his body flowing seamlessly into muscle and sweat and bone, "There's no such thing as a fair fight. Use what you have, Remember the goal is survival." A twist and a step took her inside his reach and his foot hooked around her ankle. With a pull they were on the floor with John on top of her with the blade against her neck. "You might have warned me." She complained, "And what would you have learned from that?" He stood and offered his hand which she took and he helped her to her feet, “Let’s try it again.” he said and they sparred for what seem forever and John had no compunction about spanking her across the backside with the flat of his blade if he thought she was giving less then her best. “He who accepts his own death masters his own life. “ The memory faded and reformed. He wished foolishly that he could take her away from everything evil in the world. He would give his life to give Karen peace in hers, peace and security. Something she’d never had before and he hoped someday she would have it. He might not deserve it but Karen did. "I want you in more then just my bed, and I want to spend my days, whatever time I have left with you. I want that as my life, my future. I told you I wanted to share my life with you, but I didn't say anything about marriage because of the fact that I might die. Until we reach the end of this, I can't - in the honorable way can't-make any formal offer for your hand. But I can tell you this-you are the woman I want to share the rest of my life with, whether you consent to marry me or not. I won't willingly let you go, and while, as you're so relentless in telling me, I can't force you to stay with me, I can and I will, do everything I can to change your mind. I want you as my wife and I would prefer not to settle for anything less. I've been a soldier all my adult life, and I'm going to fight for you and win. Because for me, there's no other choice. You are my future, the only future I want. I don’t want you to change. I value all you are now, and the real truth, is that I would fight anyone who tried to force change upon you. Only you, you are the lady I want. You are all and everything I want. All and everything I will ever need, now and forever.”
“I know you can’t yet see how that can be, how and why that-you and me, married, a team forever-will work, and I can’t explain it here, now. Trust me-you are the lady I want. I won’t have anyone else, and I’ll never stop wanting you. I’ll never stop needing you, only you.” then he kissed her and for once let his warrior shield fall. Let all he felt for her that he normally hid--rise up and be known. “If you get yourself killed I'll make it my duty to make the rest of your misbegotten afterlife a misery." John eased her down onto his lap, he kissed her. "My life is already yours to do with as you please-to make it a misery, or even a living hell. Just as long as you're alive to do that, I don't care." Karen was always discreetly surveying the people on the street, and analyzing potential threats. She never stopped, she was always on alert, always tense, watchful. The only time he felt her relax noticeably was when she fell asleep in his arms. She practically melted into him, showing complete trust. He would fight to protect this precious bond. What if he loved so deeply he couldn’t think? That he couldn’t fight? That he couldn’t protect those he cared about out of fear for their lives and souls? He refused to add anymore weight to her load. So he couldn‘t tell her ‘I need you, I love you.’ he could do this for her, every night by holding her, loving her. Finally though he couldn’t hold it back. Knowing what he was about to face he needed to tell her what he felt. He’d wanted that memory to add to his stock, to balance some of the horrors. To remind him why -his mission was so important. Why evil- a real and persistent evil- had to be defeated. In that instant knew he’d fight for this, to keep this-forever. He closed his eyes, whatever was coming it was the stuff of nightmares, something he would never forget. John never really slept, sometimes he dreamed, and sometimes the dreams were bad ones. He knew something bad was coming, real bad. He couldn’t identify what it was, but he felt as though he was standing on a cliffs edge, overlooking the destruction of the world. And it started here, with him. He couldn’t move. He was paralyzed, unable to even speak. John now realized, there were corpses. He was surrounded by them, knee deep in cold, unmoving bodies. When he looked down at the nearest body, John saw that it was Dean- He had to concentrate, resist it, focus on what had to be done.
Something bad was coming and he had to be ready. It was funny, how time separated you from tragedy and allowed you to remember the good times rather than the bad. But what if, cumulatively, the bad times began to outweigh all of the others? John could think of those who were dead, and he could remember how each and everyone of them had died. Had he become obsessed with death? The only thing he could never have, had become the driving force in everything he did. He felt as if a great crushing weight had suddenly come to rest on his shoulders. The memory once again reshaped. “I know something about what you're dealing with, so you're not alone. A long time ago, I gave into the same wildness, only my drug of choice back then was rage. It nearly killed me and it would have, if Karen hadn't pulled me out of it. But it's always there. The beast never fully goes away, but I'm here to tell you that it can be mastered.” John said to Seth, "My dad was on the floor, coughing up blood. His skin was already turning blue. He was dying. I knew it. I didn't think he could save him. But when I looked in my dad's eyes, I saw a raw fire ignite. He reached out to me and I took his hand. His grip was so weak that I thought he was going to say good-bye to me....my father pulled me close enough that he could whisper in my ear. "Don't worry, kid. I won't leave you alone." He fought his way back from the brink of death to keep me safe. To keep the promise that he'd made to me. And I knew then he would never abandon me. Not even death would keep him away." He said. “You don’t want to honor him with murder.” John replied. Before the boy can answer he was attacked by the creature and John rushed to help him. The creature seeing John ran off but John’s only concern was Seth. “G-go after him, you can't....can't save me.” Seth gasped. “Like hell I can't. I'm going to get you out of here.” John answered. “No. Leave me....I am dying. Already dead. You and I both know it.” Seth said. “You’ll recover from this. Please. I can't. You know that. I won't give up on you, not before....not now. You saved my life. Now, goddamn it, I'm gonna save yours.” John tried to help him until a sigh brought his attention to the Seth’s face. He gathered his friend’s ravaged body into his arms and gently rocked him, praying that Seth had finally found peace.
Closing his eyes he concentrated on restraint. He was a fourth degree black belt. He was an expert marksman. He had thrived on survival training. He was a man who understood discipline. Nothing and no one broke him. He rose and carried the lifeless bulk in a careful grasp, Seth’s weight a precious burden he would never know again….in a few short minutes he would shatter lives with grief and pain when he alerted the others to Seth’s death. The very things he sought to protect them from were the very things he brought them. A shadow fell across him and he looked up to see Karen and Bobby. "I thought I understood, when Charlie went down, I thought I understood what you deal with because of what I do, what I am. I was wrong. And tonight....it was so fast. In seconds I saw Seth go down, and the world just stopped. It just ended." John said. "It didn't. And here we are." Bobby said as he took Seth from John’s arms. John turned towards Karen, "I did okay before you - without you. I was doing just fine. Christ knows you were doing just fine before me." He told her. "I don't want just fine. Do you?" she responded. "Isn't that why, in a very real sense, you do what you do? You are what you are? You can't think about it or it makes you crazy. When we were in there, and it looked like we wouldn't walk out again, I could deal with it. Because I know it's stupid." Karen said trailing off. "We'd of died together. Going down together is one thing...Taking the next breath without you? That's not possible. But you have that possibility every day. I wish...." He trailed off. “I fell for a Hunter, didn't I? I married a Hunter, through you tried to discourage me. We're not easy people, either of us. Do you want easy?" she asked. "No. Hell, no. I want you." John answered. "Aren't we the lucky ones to have exactly what we want." Karen answered. She faded as the memory reformed again. "Let me make myself clear if you kill her, if you hurt her in anyway, I will spend the rest of the time you last making you pray for mercy as your blood slowly drains into the dirt, and when I'm done you'll be alive. You'll wish you weren‘t....but you'll have no way to scream in pain. No way to end your life.” He was too quiet, and watched everything with sharp eyes, ready to pounce on any man who wandered too close intending harm.
The blast of a gun momentarily deafened her and she saw John jerk as the bullet made impact with his body and it’s motion threw him back. He stumbled into the wall, gasped and fell “No!” Karen screamed and she heard the man curse as she hit his stomach with her elbow and stomped on his foot. She ran and hid and peeked out to see if the attacker was still there. He was walking purposely toward her. She also heard John trying to distract him. “Over….here….you….son of a bitch,” he groaned, trying to get up to protect her. As the man went past him he grabbed his leg hard, unbalancing and the man went down hard his gun hitting the floor and spinning away until it struck her shoe. Karen grabbed the gun and rose firing at the man praying she didn’t hit John. The attacker fell back and didn’t move as Karen slowly stepped forward and nudged his foot with her foot as John slumped back onto the floor. She tucked the gun in her waistband and kneeled next to John to tend his shoulder. He didn't say anything but he was sweating and trembling by the time she got the bandage secured around his shoulder. Perspiration gleamed in the hollow of his throat as he breathed faster and more shallow then usual. But there wasn't a flicker of emotion in his voice when he spoke. "As soon as you're able head back to Jonas and do not leave his side." Karen shook her head. "Listen to me; we don't have much time-" John said, "Before what?" Karen asked angrily. "Stop asking questions and pay attention." He demanded. "Stop giving me orders!" Karen said, she stared at him, unable to believe this was happening. That he could disappear, along with everything rich and wonderful he'd brought into her life. "You can't do this," he said, finally meeting her eyes "You can't tear yourself up everytime you lose someone. War-" he began. "Don't give me a lecture about war when the person we're talking about is you!" John's hand came up and framed her face, his fingers in her hair. "One person is not important in the grand scheme of things, but you are important, and yet you couldn’t see that. A Hunter is valued by his peers only for his ability to kill things they feared.“ He kissed her, the kiss weighted down with everything she meant to him. "I can't lose you!" Karen said. "I promise-you won't. I'll follow you." John responded. "I don't want to do this," she said, "I'm a big fan of safe, in this case, yeah. I'm willing to risk it.” she replied.
The memory reformed again. John felt a presence beside him and looked up to see the young woman he’d come to call Angel because she always showed up when he needed someone. “Whether you agree with me or not I’ve done my time. It’s over.” John told her. “You’re still “doing your time.” Because you refuse to forgive yourself. You love your job a little too much, also hate yourself for it. No wonder the thought of her death troubles you. In your eyes, you would of failed to protect her. The deaths you brought about in the line of duty have given you a healthy appreciation for mortality. Now you expect everyone around you to die, knowing there was nothing you could do to stop it -nothing you could do to protect them. To a man who values strength and honor, that helplessness has to bother you a lot. That must be why you keep yourself distanced from everyone but your sons. The fewer people you care about, the fewer people you have to worry about
saving.” Roarke said. "I can take care of myself." He answered her. "You shouldn't always have to, John. Somebody has to protect you the way you always protect others. You’ve always been the protector, the one to keep others safe. That someone else wants to care for you is terrifying to you Because you aren't what you believe you are. You aren't what everyone else believes. You might have delivered countless deaths but you love more fiercely then anyone I've ever known. You give of yourself with no thought to your own happiness or safety. That’s the joy of life. To protect what we love, remember love? Love. Passion. Belief. Duty. The line blurs sometimes but they will fight to protect what they believe in, no matter what the cost on belief? On that blurred line between love, duty and belief. I understand perfectly. It’s a little pathetic actually.” she said. “Excuse me?” “John said, “I never would have thought you such a coward.” Roarke said. “I’ve killed men for less then such an insult.” he answered. “You’d never physically harm me and we both know it. You wait too long to realize what it is your heart wants- what you need and she’ll be gone. Go ahead and run but if you aren’t back by daylight I’ll come looking for you. I’ll hunt you to the day I die.” she said. “Why?” he asked, “Because I’d rather spend the rest of my life chasing you then, missing you.” Roarke got up and left leaving John stunned.
The memories faded and reformed. “You said you wanted to marry me-is that still the case?” John asked. “Yes.” she replied, “Good. Because I want to marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, by your side. I want….all those things I never thought I could have-and I want those things with you. I didn’t, at that time, understand that love is all emotion. It’s need and want and desire. It’s a hunger like no other, and once in love, there is no other choice but to own it and go forward. I knew I’d fallen in love with you, but I didn’t realize, not until now, all that loving you meant. If I underestimated your love for me, I had no appreciation of love’s strength and passion. I didn’t realize because I loved you, my heart had already made up it’s mind, given itself to you and would remain yours regardless of anything and everything. That you are, now, forever and always, all I want, all I need, all I will ever desire. You humble me with your courage. Stagger me with your love. I want nothing more then to spend the rest of my life with you-can you love a man like me?” he asked. “Of course. You’re still you, aren’t you? The circumstances of your life don’t matter. The kind of man you are does. I don’t really care how-I just want to live the rest of my life with you.” John knew this was what linked two hearts together and forged a unified soul. “You taught me John. I understand your fear, I'm not going to run away. And I won’t let you push me away, either. I love you. I never wanted you to have to shoulder the burden of having to destroy something you loved. We wasted a lot of time on secrets and festering fears, I can't waste another minute like that. I‘m willing to go anywhere with you even hell.” she said. "What do you know of hell? Try mine," he whispered before catching her lips in a bruising kiss. He’d faced guns and led charges in battle, yet she was now so important to him that he didn't want to take even the slightest risk of her rejecting him, of losing her. He never thought it could be possible after Mary but somehow a woman had swept into his life and made him hers. He was asking this woman to marry him a thing that in a normal life would be world shattering but in his world where a breath could chance things it was worth even more.
“John!” Karen cried out when he gasped sharply and fell to the floor clutching his head between his hands. “Dad.” Dean tried to get up but he was still too weak to stand on his own. Shapes and colors flirted past his eyes too fast to see but he knew they were memories breaking through the barrier his mind had placed against them. Each seem to land in his conscious mind like a nuclear bomb, he could hear his family calling to him but couldn’t seem to find the strength to respond. After a while the pain and pressure eased some and he could finally take a breath even if it was agony to draw a breath. He was finally conscious of Karen’s arms around his shoulders and her murmuring to him quietly as she tried to reassure him. “Dad?” Dean finally made it off the chair and over to his father’s side pulling himself along by his one good arm, the other was in a sling from having been broken during his beating. John lifted a hand and touched Dean’s cheek gently. “It’s okay son.” he gasped out in a scratchy voice. “John?” he turned to see Karen staring at him worriedly, “I’m okay.” he told her. “You were convulsing which is as far from okay….” she began. “My memories….they’ve all returned. They were coming back bit by bit and then the last bunch decided to hit all at once.” John explained. He struggled to sit up and Karen helped him into a seated position. “Help me up.” he reached out a hand to her, “Only if you go directly to bed.” she insisted. “I’m not ready for bed just yet. Give me a chance to catch my breath and I’ll met you in bed.” he laughed. “You know along with that EMT degree I should of studied abnormal psychology so I’d know how to deal with you.” She helped him up and into bed but as she tried to get up John wrapped his arm around her waist. “Woman this bed is cold, how about helping me warm it up.” John teased. “Your worse then an octopus because he only has eight tentacles. I think you’ve got a hundred.” she finally disentangled herself from him and went over to help Dean who was struggling to stand. “Let me help you to bed.” she aided Dean in standing, walked him over to the other bed in the room and got him settled into before drawing the blanket up to his chest. He caught her wrist, “Sing me a song?” he asked, Karen settled in the chair next to Dean’s bed “I’ll sing you Angel’s lullaby which is perfect for you.“ she said and began to sing.
Midnight moonlight shining through the curtain lace
Paints a perfect picture of your perfect face
One sweet angel sleeping in my arms
You are the promise I knew God would keep
You are the gift that makes my world complete
And you'll never know how much I love you
But I'll keep on telling you my whole life through
Now I believe in miracles, and you're the reason why
So dream on while I sing