Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words: Weekend Challenge: On the run from a past that they can’t leave behind and A night in a crappy motel
Word Count: 1,764
Date Written: 6 May 2018
Summary: Prelude to the author's One Thing More.
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Kripke, not the author, and are used without permission.
The night was quiet with only the chirping crickets and the occasional squeak from the rocking chair beneath him to disturb it. He wasn’t used to solitude like this. He long ago grew accustomed to being cut off from the rest of the world, but not like this. He wasn’t used to this . . . this peace that threatened to make his tired, red eyes want to slide closed. He rocked again and tapped the shotgun in his lap, reminding himself of why he absolutely could not close his eyes.
He would have loved to stay there. He knew none of what had led him here to this peaceful moment had happened on purpose, but sometimes, in some ways, it felt like it might have. What were the odds that he’d arrived too late to a scene with a broken down truck to find the old farmer and his wife already slaughtered, their entrails hanging off the truck’s side mirrors? What were the odds even more so that they should have left no family behind but left an old house still in pretty damn good shape, hundreds of acres of land, and animals to care for?
Sammy already loved it here. There were sheep, cows, horses, and even a dog to care for. The kid couldn’t be happier. He hadn’t seen him this happy since . . . well, ever, and as long as his youngest son was happy, so was his older boy, the one who had taken it upon himself without even being told to take care of his younger brother after seeing what had happened to their mother.
It’s ideal, John mused. It really was. It was too perfect to be true, and yet here he was, sitting out on the porch for the seventh night in a row, his shotgun at the ready just in case he needed it and still having not had to fire a single shot. They’ve been running for so long now that he’d given up hope of ever being able to settle down with his boys, but here, out in the middle of nowhere, he might just stand a chance.
No one knew they were here. He hadn’t even told Bobby. He had been even more careful than usual to leave no trail behind them, and the Demons had yet to find them. Having long past been forced to become a realist, however, John knew that that didn’t mean they wouldn’t find them. They always found them eventually.
Bobby was always after him to give his boys a real life, but it wasn’t like he didn’t try. He had tried so many times. He’d all but given up when he’d gone to the farmer’s home to tell his next of kin what had happened and found the place empty except for animals. Somebody had to take care of the beasts, and John couldn’t exactly go to the authorities and tell them what he had found without turning suspicion on himself.
At least, that was what he had told himself to make himself give them one last chance. He was sick and tired of one dirty motel after another and even more weary of always having to leave his boys alone and never knowing when, or if, he was going to be able to come home to them. He wanted to find Mary’s killer. He ached to make the bastard pay. But he had two young boys depending on them, and he knew that the life he’d been able to give him since his wife’s murder was not at all the life she would want them to have.
With a weary sigh, John ran a hand down his beard. He hadn’t shaved in . . . well, again, he didn’t know how long just like he didn’t know how long it had been or would be before he could sleep again at night, if ever. At least he was able to sleep in the daytime right now on this farm. He’d fall asleep as the sun crawled high into the sky, and he’d leave his boys to play with the animals all day. But they were happy. They were safe, at least for now, and that was what mattered.
He had more things he needed to do for them, more tasks he needed to complete if they were truly going to make this place their home. He needed to get them enrolled in school. He needed to fix that broken board in Sammy’s bedroom before his kid tripped over it. He needed to figure out exactly how far their new land’s borders stretched and put up proper precautions. He needed to figure out what the animals needed from them and take care of that too.
There was always work to be done, and he knew running a farm would mean endless hours of hard work, but they were hours that would be spent a lot nearer to his kids than he had been ever since Mary’s death. They were hours that could be spent, once he got the hang of it and made certain it was safe, in the daylight. They were hours that could be spent improving their lives and the lives of the animals around them and not just running for their lives.
John leaned back and dared to let himself close his eyes, a smile actually crossing his face. His boys didn’t have to keep running for their lives. It seemed almost too good to be true. Maybe there was a Greater Power, as Mary had always insisted, looking down upon them. Maybe He was taking favor upon them at last. Or maybe his wife was just watching them from Heaven and finally guiding them toward a little good luck.
John rocked back. Then he heard a squeak, snatched his shotgun up and to the ready, and popped his eyes open. The anger in them faded into a much softer expression as he saw Dean, halfway inched out of the screen door, his hands held up in defense. “I was just gonna ask if you wanted a beer or something?” he asked in a small voice.
John surprised himself as he started to ask for coffee. He’d been drinking too much around his two, young, and easily influenced children. He needed to set an example, a far better example than the one he’d been setting so far for almost all their lives. He cracked a grin instead, because he knew they had no coffee. “Shouldn’t you be in bed, tiger?”
“I was.” Dean slipped out from the door and stood on the old, rickety porch in front of his father. His thin shoulders lifted into a shrug. “Couldn’t sleep.”
“Why don’t you go crawl in with Sammy?” John suggested, well aware that Dean was used to sleeping in the dirty motels in which he had so often been forced to leave his boys with his small arms tightly around his younger brother. “Make sure he isn’t having nightmares again.”
Dean’s eyes lit up with the realization that his father understood more than he let on. He opened his mouth to answer even as John wondered if he might suggest a shopping trip tomorrow. It had been so long since they had shopped together as a father and sons just out looking to pick up some normal, everyday supplies. It had been . . . He scoffed at himself. Hell, they’d never gone to pick up normal supplies just the three of them!
“Dad -- “ Dean said even as John’s head jerked up. There was suddenly something different about the night wind.
For just a second, Dean saw a myriad of emotions that would haunt him for years to come flash through his father’s tired eyes. “No,” John breathed, but there was no mistaking the sound that came next on the quiet wind. The howl chilled their blood as the sheep started to bleat.
“Get inside!” John growled, jumping to his feet, but Dean was already beating a hasty retreat. “You know what to do!” The door slammed shut before he even got the words out. He could hear his boys quickly locking the silver chains on the other side of the door. He had one last second to think about what a good boy his son had grown into before he was leaping off the porch and running toward the sheep.
Sheep bleated. Cattle bayed in frantic, fearful voices. Horses whinnied. Somewhere, the dog barked. More wolves howled. And all the while, John knew. He knew he had been living a dream. Tomorrow, they would go back to reality. Tomorrow, they would go back to the endless shuttling on the road from one town to the next and the dirty, cheap motels that smelled like things that John, at one time, had never wanted his sons to be around. Tomorrow they would go back to the lives of a hunter and the hunted -- if they lived through tonight. John raised his gun and shot silver bullets again and again.
The fight was over sooner than he’d thought it would be, but the message was clear. He had four dead Werewolves and three more on the run. They’d marked the farm for an easy target, and they would be back. They would be back, probably with reinforcements. They couldn’t stay here. His boys weren’t safe here, John thought, stopping to pant for breathe. Doubled over, with his hands on his knees, he could already see animal corpses littering the grounds. His heart felt sick as he saw one of the sheep he’d just noticed frolicking the afternoon before.
The Werewolves had come for veal this time, but tomorrow, they would be back and ready for real flesh and blood. Tomorrow, they’d find him and his boys already gone. He shook his head, tears streaming down his face. “I can’t do it, Mary,” he whispered, looking painfully up at the starry, night sky. “I can’t do it. I can give them life,” he vowed, “but I can’t give them the lives we wanted for them. I’m sorry, baby.”
With his head hung low, John released the animals who remained before heading back to the farmhouse and his children. Dean was wide awake and handed him a beer the moment he trudged in. Father and son looked at each other. Dean hadn’t spoken a word, but John nonetheless understood his question. “Tomorrow,” he grunted before downing the whole bottle in a single gulp.
Dean looked away before his father could see the tears in his eyes. Without another word, he went to sleep with Sammy for another night.