Fic: Old Friend

Dec 19, 2010 12:37

Title: Old Friend
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: John/Caleb
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Not mine, no credit or gain

John could see the Salvation town sign up ahead when his phone went off. Keeping one hand on the wheel he fished it out of his coat pocket.


“Caleb?” John frowned slightly when he recognised the voice. “This isn’t really a good time - “

“It’s Jim” Caleb interrupted.

“Is he ok?”

“No, they, they found him with his throat cut, he bled out. There were signs of sulphur.”

John’s hands tightened on the steering wheel, his eyes closing as he tried to reign in his anger.

“John?” Caleb continued when the other man didn’t respond. “This has something to do with why you’ve been off-grid all year, hasn’t it?”

“Caleb” John hissed the warning.

“No, its fine I get it, you have to be some lone warrior, a martyr that is better than the rest of us plebs. John Winchester against the world, and to hell with the rest of us.”

Resisting the urge to drive headlong into the nearest tree, John pulled over to the side of the road. “Caleb, just,” John’s voice softened. “Be careful.”

The long silence ended with the sound of Caleb hanging up. It took John a moment before he could get out of the car to go talk to his boys.

Fourteen Years Ago

“Boys come here!” John hissed the command.

Dean instantly obeyed, moving to his father, but Sam, six and already so stubborn, hovered near the man sitting at Jim’s table.

“It’s ok John, this is Caleb, a friend of mine.” Jim reassured as he came in behind the Winchesters.

Ignoring Jim, John reached and hauled Sam towards him, his youngest son rolling his eyes dramatically. With this attitude at six, John wondered if anyone would survive Sam’s teenage rebellion. The man at the table, Caleb, just watched with an amused smirk. John had to resist the urge to wipe it off his face.

“Boys,” Jim glanced between the men, before turning to the children and handing Sam a basket. “Why don’t you go out back and see if there’s enough fresh eggs for us for dinner.”

Dean looked to his father for permission before shoving Sam towards the back door.

“Ok,” Jim said with a practiced patience. “Let’s try to pre-empt the dick-sizing shall we? This needs to be dealt with, and it’s too big for one of you to handle on your own.”

“I don’t work with other hunters.” John grumbled as he sat at the table.

“That’s because they all end up preferring to kill you than the evil son-a-bitch you’re supposed to be hunting.” Jim gave an amused snort. “But this time you’re both going to suck it up. You’re going to try to contain the arsehole, and Caleb is going to try to refrain from shooting you, and you’re both going to save a town full of people from violent and horrific deaths.”

Pastor Jim was a good man, one of the few people John trusted with his sons. But only a fool would judge the outward appearance as a sign of weakness, and only someone with a deathwish would cross him. The fact that Jim seemed to trust Caleb didn’t change John’s opinion, but this wasn’t the world where people got their ideal outcomes.

After dinner, and after the boys were settled for the night, with clear instructions for Dean to keep an eye on Sammy, John waited in the car for Caleb to pack his weapons into the back seat of the Impala. He could see Jim standing in the doorway as they drove off and had the moment of doubt. Always when he had to leave his boys behind, there were those doubts, was this really the right path to take, shouldn’t he be a better father, what if he didn’t return. Before the thoughts could crowd in, he shoved them down, knowing vengeance was the only way his boys would ever be safe.

“I know what happened with Harvelle” Caleb said, after 30 minutes of driving in silence.

“You don’t know shit” John growled, his hands tightening on the wheel.

“I know you put the poor bastard out of his misery, only to have his wife call you murdering scum.”

John doesn’t comment. They are together to do a job, and that doesn’t include spilling feelings like thirteen year old girls at a slumber party.

“He died because I screwed up.” John finds himself saying ten minutes later.

“So, we all screw up.” Caleb shook his head at John’s snort. “What? You think this is like some choreographed stunt fight in the movies? It’s not. Things don’t go according to plan, any hunter that doesn’t realise that, isn’t prepared for that, shouldn’t be out there. You screwed up, fine, deal with it. Harvelle should have adapted as well. We are all responsible for our own choice of action.”

“I killed him” John could only stubbornly reply.

“No, that evil son of a bitch killed him.” Caleb replied before they both sunk back into silence.

The hunt had been a success, they had put the monster down. The town had been saved, at least most of it. The people would bury their dead, and learn to live with their grief. They would pick up their lives and find a way to rationally explain away the horror that was wrought on their lives.

John didn’t have the same luxury of denial. He knew the things that went bump in the night, knew the evil that had strung up those three children, leaving their intestines hanging from them like grotesque ribbons. So he marinated his grief and rage in the bottle of whiskey he shared with Caleb.

It was this rage at the futility of it all that lead to John pushing Caleb up against the wall of their motel room. The kisses were returned with equal anger and violence. They shoved against each other, alcohol burning in their veins. Hands fumbled and found cocks. Breaths and obscenities passed between them, as hands became insistent, demanding. It was a rush towards release, a way to burn away the sickening images.

It left them wrung out and exhausted. John, too drained to bother with clean up dropped down on his bed. He was vaguely aware of Caleb moving around, cleaning up, turning off the light. John lay in the dark, listening to the breathing coming from the other side of the room before slipping into sleep himself. In his dreams the dead children’s faces turned to those of his sons, and when Sam’s head turned, his dead gaze turned yellow.

He dropped Caleb off by his car the next day when they arrived back at Pastor Jim’s. He expected that to be the end of things. He wasn’t one to team up with other hunters. He had the safety of his boys to think about, and even without them in the equation, he couldn’t see himself trusting another hunter. Hunters by their nature, were dangerous untrustworthy bastards. He wasn’t any different, and doubted Caleb was as well.

John had almost forgotten about Caleb, when months later he found himself lying, literally, on top of the other man. He had thought he’d burnt the bones of the ghost terrorising the neighbourhood. He returned to the abandoned house to collect his bags when he was stuck. The force lifted him off his feet and slammed him into the door behind him so hard, he found himself rolling down the stairs into the basement.

Instead of hitting the floor he landed against another body, tumbling them both to the floor. The force of the impact means it takes him a moment to realise he recognises the face of the man under him. A moment of recognition and then they were tossed violently across the room, slamming hard into the wall. He could see a trail of blood dripping from the corner of Caleb’s mouth.

“John, b...” whatever Caleb was about to say was cut off. John could see the tendon’s straining as some supernatural force tried to crush his throat.

John didn’t have time to think, to wonder why burning the bones hadn’t work. Even as his eyes rolled back, Caleb’s head seemed to jerk in an odd movement. It took another moment for John to realise it was intentional, that Caleb was trying to get John’s attention. It was then, he noted a bag lying on the floor near the staircase. With the invisible spirit’s attention so focused on crushing the life out of Caleb, it’s grip on John was less. Using that advantage and every ounce of strength in his body, John was able to push himself from the wall and drag himself across the room.

There wasn’t time to investigate, he could only hope that whatever was within the bag was what was holding the spirit to this plane. He didn’t want to risk being discovered and stopped, so with the ease of regular use, he flicked open his lighter and dropped the flame onto the bag. He heard the hiss of anger, and turned just in time to see the air in front of Caleb flare into flame. The other hunter dropped to the floor, gasping for air as he coughed and spluttered.

“Two ghosts.” Caleb gasped. “Got to get the other bones.”

“Already done.” John responded and collapsed on the concrete floor, letting himself catch his breath from the fight.

“Fuck, that was fun.” Caleb spat on the floor, staining the concrete with blood.

John forced himself to his feet. “We should probably...”

Caleb nodded. There was always a danger that their activities would be discovered. He’d had to deal a number of times with police and security guards getting too close, with hysterical civilians screaming and rushing him. It was part of the job, and no matter how much they tried to avoid discovery, it was always a risk.

John stopped as Caleb headed towards his own car. “Hey, want a beer?”

Caleb looked back for a moment, and then nodded. “Sure, could probably use one.”

It wasn’t love. John wasn’t even sure he was capable of that feeling anymore, well, besides from his sons. He’d run into Caleb on a few hunts, they had both gone to each other for information. And over time, distrust and stress relief had altered into the edges of friendship and escapes into lust. John had always told himself he didn’t have time for friendship, he had a mission to complete, vengeance for his wife, and to ensure his boys would be safe. Friendship got in the road of that, was a complication he couldn’t afford. He never sought out Caleb, never felt an ache for the other man. When he took his cock into his hand at night, it was never Caleb he pictured as he stroked himself. So he was surprised to find himself pounding on Caleb’s door, reeking of cheap booze and cigarettes.

“John?” Caleb seemed just as surprised when he pulled the door open.

It was extremely late, but Caleb just hauled John inside and deposited him on the old battered couch. He poured them both a drink, and sat in silence as John spewed forth all his rage and fury over his youngest son. He called Sam ungrateful and spoiled. He listed all the boy’s failings, and picked apart his personality. In his drunken rage, he cursed his son, calling him a burden, and wishing him dead and gone. Caleb, for his part just bared witness, accepting all the vile rage John vocalised. Rage sated, the alcohol finally took hold and soon John lay on the couch snoring loudly.

The next morning he woke to find himself under a blanket, his head aching and the taste in his mouth reminding him of something vile he’d cleaned off his boots. He considered pulling the blanket over his head and just waiting for death to turn up, but the smell of coffee waffling from the kitchen made him force himself to his feet.

Caleb placed a mug down on the table in front of John and turned back to the stove. “So you’re worried for Sam?”

It’s not really a question, John understands, but he can’t find it in him to disagree, so instead he picks up his coffee, concentrating on the dark liquid.

“You’ve done a good job with your boys John, they both know how to defend themselves, they are aware of what’s really out there. That’s all you really can do.”

“Sam’s different, he never wanted to deal with all this Caleb. He’s going to get to school and forget everything, and I’m not going to be there.”

Caleb sighs as he puts down the plate in front of John. “Maybe, but you have to trust he knows how to protect himself. You trained those boys hard John, maybe too hard, but no one is more prepared to handle what is thrown at them. You’ve got to let him make his own choices.”

John’s stomach rolls a little as he looks down at the eggs on his plate. “I know, but I made a promise, I’d protect them Caleb. I can’t do that if Sam’s off in a world I don’t belong to anymore.”

“God, you’re a stubborn bastard you know that Winchester.” Caleb smirked as he dug into his breakfast. “Sam’s not like you, and he’s not like Dean. He needs his independence, he needs to discover where he fits in the world. You need to stop worrying and just be proud of him.”

“I am proud of him Caleb.” John glared across the table, insulted to think someone doesn’t believe he loves his sons.

“I know, but does Sam. When he left, did you tell him you were proud, or did you curse him out?” John’s silence was all the answer Caleb needed. “That’s what I thought. Look, I know you, better than you might realise. You’re going to watch over young Sam, even if he doesn’t want you to. You’ll never just abandon one of your boys.”

John grunted a noise, not willing to admit Caleb was speaking the truth.

John pulled up in front of Caleb’s house. He leaned against the steering wheel, staring up at the house. He knew this was a bad move, that he was too close to something big, something that had been yipping at his heels for the last 22 years. He knew disappearing would take Dean to Sam, and hopefully convince his brother to join him. If they were going to stay together he would have to disappear, he would have to work alone. This was just too big, too important to worry about anyone right now. All of which didn’t explain why he had driven here straight from Jericho.

John startled when there was a tap against his window. He turned, his hand reaching for the shotgun resting on the passenger seat beside him. His posture relaxed slightly when he saw Caleb standing outside his truck, looking concerned. Which made sense, since John had been parked there, unmoving for almost 20 minutes, and the other hunter would have become concerned.

“Caleb” John acknowledged the other man as he pushed the door open.

“John. So what’s going on?”

“It’s... it’s big Caleb.”

“This is about that yellow-eyed demon, isn’t it?”

John nodded, but remained silent.

“So you going to tell me what’s going on, what you’ve found?”

“Caleb, I can’t. It’s too... I have to do this by myself.”

“John don’t be an idiot. This demon is a big deal. You can’t go off and be an idiot, you’ll get yourself killed.” Caleb studied John for a moment. “You damned fool, that’s what you want isn’t it? You are going to do a suicide run on this evil bastard.”

“If that’s what it takes Caleb, to save my boys. I’ll do fucking anything.” John’s voice filled with rage.

“And how will that help your boys, knowing your death was because of them. Use your fucking brains boy, you’ll go in and get yourself killed and those boys will be all alone.”

“You don’t get it Caleb, you’re... you’re not part of this. This is about my family, not about you. So back the fuck off, and stay out of it.” John’s voice turned icy, and he reached back for the door handle. “This is for Mary, and my boys. The only people that matter to me.”

As John drove off, he refused to look back in the mirror, refused to wonder if Caleb still stood there, hurt by the rejection, or just furious at the destroyed friendship. John was an arsehole, but he had to be. The answers to all his questions were finally just in reach.

Sam frowned slightly as he handed his phone over to John.

“Howdy, John. I’m Meg. I’m a friend of your boys. I’m also the one who watched Jim Murphy choke on his own blood.” John’s own blood ran cold, rage and futility running through his veins. “Still there, John boy?”

“I’m here.” John growled into the phone.

“Well, that was yesterday. Today, I’m in Lincoln….visiting another old friend of yours.” The cruel amusement showing in Meg’s voice. “He wants to say hi.”

“John,” Caleb called out. “Whatever they do, don’t give-“

“Caleb?” John felt the panic begin to grow inside him. “Caleb. You listen to me. He’s got nothing to do with anything. You let him go.”

“We know you have the Colt, John.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” John pushed his fear down, silently begging Caleb to forgive him.

“Oh. Okay. So, listen to this.” Meg sounded completely amused even in her anger, as she reached out and slit Caleb’s throat, letting John listen to Caleb gurgle in his own blood as he slowly died.

“Caleb? Caleb!” John called down the phone, knowing there was nothing to be done, that he was listening to the last breaths of his friend.

“Can you hear that? That’s the sound of your friend dying, now let’s try this again.” John struggled to take in Meg’s words, his mind picturing Caleb in his last throes of death. “We know you have the gun, John. Word travels fast. So, as far as we’re concerned, you just declared war. And this is what war looks like-it has casualties.”

“I’m gonna kill you, you know that?” To John it wasn’t an empty threat, this woman had threatened his sons, killed his friends. Caleb had been a part of his life, a part of this journey of his that started when Mary was burnt on the ceiling, he’d been something more than just a friend to John, and now because of him, because of his family, he was dead. Someone would have to pay.

fanfic, fandom: supernatural

Previous post