Bad Moon Rising
By CS WhiteWolf
[ main | part one | part two | the artwork | notes ]
It was late afternoon by the time John arrived back at the cabin. He pulled the car to a slow stop and killed the engine, listening to the tick-tick-ing sound it made as it cooled down. He looked out the front window towards the cabin, his brow a furrow of thought. He couldn’t put this off any longer. Reluctantly, John pulled open his door and stepped out into the chill air. It had rained in the time he’d spent away and his boots squelched in the wet mud of the drive as he made his way towards the front door.
He’d scoured the forest where the attack had taken place, tidying as much of the area as possible of their presence there the night before. He’d returned to their motel room afterwards and spent long hours sitting and staring at nothing, his thoughts turned inwards and focussed on the situation with Dean. He couldn’t stop thinking that the entire state of affairs was his fault, and that he should have trained Dean better or schooled him harder.
Damn. He should never have brought him along on the hunt in the first place! He knew he wouldn’t always be around to make sure Dean’s solo hunts went well but for this one he really felt as though he’d let him down. Too filled with thoughts of Sam and his youngest son’s betrayal to give a damn about his eldest and whether or not he was as prepared as he should have been to take on a werewolf. And now, with the bite and the infection spreading through his system, John knew that it was his fault entirely that his eldest was to become a monster.
John knocked once upon the cabin door before pushing it open and stepping into the entrance. He could hear the murmur of low voices coming from the kitchen and assumed that Remus and Severus were inside. The voices continued uninterrupted as he made his way past the partly-closed door and on towards the room in which Dean lay. It was better that way. He’d rather spend this time alone with his son whilst he could.
He entered Dean’s room with quiet steps, closing the door gently behind him before taking a seat on the bed opposite Dean’s. He placed the duffle he carried on the bed beside him, his hands trembling minutely as he unzipped the bag and drew from within it his gun. He placed the gun on his lap, his fingers holding loosely at the handle.
Dean lay pale and unmoving on the bed, wrapped in bandages from what appeared to be head to toe. His chest rose and fell in a slow, even pattern beneath the thick sheets draped over his prone form. John wanted to reach out and touch him, to assure himself that his son was alright, that Dean was going to be okay, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.
He opened his mouth to speak, to say something contrite and appropriate for the situation but found that he could think of nothing that would make either of them feel better about what was happening here. What use were apologies in a situation like this? How could he tell Dean that he was sorry this had happened to him, and that he blamed himself for it? How could he tell Dean that he was sorry for what he was about to do, but that he believed it was the right thing to do? How could he tell him that he was terrified of losing him, like he’d lost Sam, and that he loved him just as much as (if not more so than) his brother, that he was sorry for pushing him so hard and not appearing to give him much back in return but stilted affection and demands for more?
John closed his eyes against the unfamiliar prickling of tears before standing with sudden purpose and stepping towards Dean’s bedside. He bent at the waist and pressed a kiss to Dean’s forehead before straightening and moving to press the barrel of his gun to his son’s temple.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, closing his eyes and praying that Dean knew everything he couldn’t ever tell him.
His finger tightened on the trigger then and a bang suddenly rent the air.
Instead of the gun going off however, the bedroom door suddenly burst open, banging against the wardrobe behind it just seconds before he heard a shout and the gun went flying from his hand, jerking John sideways with the motion. He watched as it crashed into the wall, falling to land on the floor between the beds with a thump.
“What the-!” John turned towards the doorway, half-crouched and ready for an attack as he reached instinctively for his belt buckle and the knife sitting securely at his side. He heard another shout and suddenly found himself frozen still. His gaze landed upon the doorway and he saw a seething Severus Snape standing just inside the room, his right arm stretched out before him. He looked to be holding a stick in his hand, a stick which was pointed at John and which John vaguely recalled seeing back in the forest during the attack; the stick, a wand, which had emitted a beam of light that had chased after the werewolf.
John tried to speak, tried to yell and curse and demand to know just who the hell Severus was, but found his tongue just as frozen as the rest of him. He struggled internally, mentally trying to overcome the invisible binding he felt holding him in place. He met Severus’ dark eyes and found himself unable to look away; spine tingling as the man stepped closer and closer still.
“The question,” Severus began, his voice a sibilant hiss; menacing almost in its intensity. “Is what the hell you think you’re doing?” His face came within inches of John’s and he sneered down at him.
“Severus?” Remus stepped into the room a moment later and Severus jerked himself back from John. “What’s going on?”
“He just tried to kill his son,” Severus spat, disgust lacing his words. Remus frowned, his brow creasing heavily as he turned his gaze to John.
“John?” he asked. John said nothing. “Severus,” Remus turned, placing a hand on Severus’ arm, encouragingly.
“He’ll only try again,” Severus said, still glaring towards him.
“Severus,” Remus repeated his name and Severus clenched his teeth before waving the wand in his hand. John stumbled forward suddenly, landing heavily on his knees before the two men.
“Who the hell are you?” John demanded, pushing upwards and successfully reaching for and drawing his knife. Severus shot the knife in his hand a look of utter disdain, his fingers twitching against the wand in his own hand.
“We’re trying to help you,” Remus said, hands raised in a placating gesture.
“Bullshit,” John swore, tightening the grip on his knife. “What are you?”
“We are wizards,” Severus interrupted. John’s glare only deepened itself at those words. He’d already assumed as much, of course; the attire they chose to wear and the sticks they used to perform their magic aside, John had noticed the subtle artwork of wards placed around the house as well as the multitude of herbs and other ingredients Severus must use in his potions. The way he’d treated his son’s wounds from the get-go had pretty much alerted him from the start.
Remus slanted a look towards Severus, his lips pursed in displeasure before turning his gaze back onto John.
“Mr Winchester, please just hear us out, we’re only trying to help your son-,”
“-no one can help him,” John interrupted gruffly. “You said it yourself, he’s infected. He’d never want to live like a monster.”
Remus suddenly let lose a growl, the very sound of it coming from a grown man caused John to startle and take a step backwards, his legs bumping against the bed behind him.
“It is a manageable condition!” Remus barked out, his voice just as deep and rumbling as the growl he’d only moments ago emitted.
John allowed himself a moment before jumping to the one and only conclusion he could come up with for the current situation.
“You’re the werewolf?” He asked, his voice a deliberate calm that neither Remus nor Severus allowed themselves to be taken in by.
He watched as both men tensed up; Severus’ fingers tightening knuckle-white on his wand whilst Remus seemed to be bracing himself for an attack- though whether for a verbal or physical one John wasn’t sure.
Remus hesitated. “Yes and no,” he answered.
John didn’t care what the hell a ‘yes I’m the werewolf but no I’m not’ meant, all he could think was that Remus had just admitted to being a werewolf and that a werewolf had attacked and infected Dean. Without further thought, he dived at Remus with a shout, his knife slashing an arc just inches from Remus’ face before Severus managed to react, cursing him into stillness once more. There was a rushing in his ears, a fury pumping through his veins as he struggled against the invisible binds holding him immobile and keeping him from exacting his revenge on the creature before him.
He saw, more than felt, himself being hovered up off the ground and taken out of the room. He heard the door to Dean’s room shut before he was moved through into the kitchen.
“Right now, Mr Winchester,” Severus began, his voice a deadly calm, “we’re going to talk and you’re going to listen.”
- - -
His entire body felt as though it were on fire. He wasn’t sure how else to describe the searing spikes of pain that flared throughout his body; each breath was a labour, every twitch and tic of muscle set off spasm after spasm of agony and all Dean wanted to do was bury himself in the mind-numbing darkness of unconsciousness but found instead, to his great fear and discontent that he was slowly but steadily being drawn to wakefulness and the full extent of his body’s hurting.
It started with a bang-bang-ing and then the sounds of raised voices, angry shouts that pitched from high to low to high again, sounds of scuffling, a flare of light that reddened the insides of his eyelids and made him flinch back into himself. The quiet came afterwards, and Dean felt a contentment rise through the aches assaulting him as he tried once again to sink himself back into sleep.
There came a niggling then, a nagging impression that something wasn’t quite right. Dean pulled himself to full consciousness then, instinct and training kicking in, as he forced himself to keep his breathing even and slow before cautiously slanting his eyes open. It took a moment for his eyesight to adjust itself to the dimness of the room. A room, he realised, his eyes opening wider as he failed to spot anyone else within, that he did not recognise.
With his heart pumping erratically in his chest, Dean cautiously pushed himself upwards, hissing softly as he felt already torn flesh pull and rip as he moved. He paused a second to breathe through a fresh burst of pain before pushing aside the sheet that lay draped over him. Dean froze, staring in horror at the bandages covering most of the upper half of his body. He must’ve been in one hell of a fight, he rationalised, brow furrowing against the absent memory of just what exactly had happened to him.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed, about to push himself up on legs that trembled at the mere suggestion of supporting his weight, when he noticed the gun on the floor. He’d know that gun anywhere and he knew that there was no way, come hell or high water, that John Winchester just left his weaponry lying about haphazardly, and on the floor no less.
His heart picked up the pace again, adrenaline surging through his body as he realised something was not quite right. With slow, cautious, movements, Dean reached out and picked up the gun, his wrist twinged more than a little at the gesture but Dean ignored the little spikes of pain. The gun felt heavy but familiar in his hand and he felt secure just holding it. He checked the barrel- loaded- before urging himself up and off the bed. His legs shook beneath him and he stumbled into the cabinet beside the bed, gripping at the edges as best he could as he fought against the weakness he felt. He closed his eyes momentarily. When he opened them again it was with renewed determination, his father could be in trouble, his dad needed him, he couldn’t afford to let this- whatever the hell had happened to him- get the better of him.
Dean looked around the room again, this time checking for anything that could give him a clue as to where he was, or even explain why he was here instead of… Dean frowned, unable to visualise exactly where else he thought he should be. He scanned the room, asides from noticing the wooden walls and vaguely remembering something about being on a hunt with his dad, Dean was at a total loss. He found no sign of his clothes either, but did find what looked to be a couple of dresses of some kind hanging in a large wardrobe along with a dressing gown. He grabbed for the latter and struggled his way into the worn, but deceptively soft, fabric.
He leant himself up against the wardrobe a moment, breathing heavily through the pain and wooziness that seemed to wash over him in waves of varying degrees. He vaguely considered that exerting himself may not be the best of ideas in his condition (whatever, exactly, that condition may be) but pushed the thought away, pressing on and making his way with shuffling footsteps towards the door.
By the time he made it out of the room and down the short hallway, stopping outside a partly-closed doorway that showed what looked to be a kitchen with two men and his dad inside, Dean was shivering and sweating with the physical exertion. He raised a shaking hand to his face, pressing the back of it to his brow and squeezing his eyes closed a long moment. Everything hurt, every single part of his body screamed pain and agony and he felt as though another step would see him hurtling to the floor unable to support his own weight much longer.
He rested himself against the wall, breathing quickly but quietly and strained his ears to listen to the murmur of voices coming from within the small kitchen area. He heard his dad’s gruff tones, the brusque questions and comments he threw out with angry deliverance and Dean found himself both tensing and relaxing at the mere sound of his voice. He heard softer replies, a more conciliating tone countered with another’s curt remarks. The actual words took a long while to translate themselves within his mind. He heard comments about monsters and treatments and couldn’t place them into any sort of context for a long while.
It was only with the mention of a werewolf,- his father spitting the word out with such contempt that Dean wanted to flinch back from the mere sound of it,- that things started to fall back into place for him. Suddenly he could remember the hunt, the forest, the waiting for hours on end, the intermittent rain, the night setting in, body cramping and chilling, boredom, instinct, the wolf, the growling, the attack, werewolf, watching sharp teeth sinking into the flesh of his wrist, the pain and fear and screaming for his dad, the darkness... the all consuming darkness...
“We won’t let you take him,” a voice said, Dean’s eyes sprang open.
“He’s my son! I’ll take him wherever I goddamn want to!” John’s words were an angry growl.
Dean moved, slow and cautious, his own hurts suddenly at the back of his mind as he turned towards the doorway and peered into the kitchen to see the exchange between the three men inside.
“We can help him here,” the man with grey-brown hair beseeched. Dean frowned, vaguely recognising the man. “Becoming a werewolf isn’t a death sentence. He still has the chance to live a relatively normal life.”
“I don’t need witches telling me how to treat my son.” John snapped.
“Yes, because killing him is clearly the best solution,” A man with long, dark hair spat. He held something out towards John and Dean noticed then that his dad wasn’t moving, at all. In fact he seemed to be struggling against something Dean couldn’t see, his face red with anger and frustration, his jaw clenched with whatever exertion he was putting himself through.
Witches. Werewolf. Dean leant back against the wall beside the door. He’d been bitten, he knew that, but somehow he hadn’t managed to link that with the fact that he’d been infected, that he was now one of the very creatures they hunted. A wash of dizziness swept over him, a nauseous cold feeling that made him want to sink to the floor and never move again. Dean fought against it, breathing in and out and in again, slowly but with determination.
His hand was sweaty on the gun, his wrist twinging with renewed pain now that he recalled the bite. He looked down at the thick wrap of bandage encircling his wrist and imagined again the piercing bite; the flow of blood and the crunch of bone. Dean swallowed heavily, trying to push the vivid rememberings aside as he turned back towards the doorway.
The nausea stayed with him as he moved, pushing the kitchen door the rest of the way open. All conversation immediately ceased as eyes turned to him. He leant himself up against the doorway, too weak to hold himself up alone, and slowly raised the gun in a two handed grip to point in the general direction of the two strangers.
“Let my dad go,” he managed through clenched teeth. The men startled.
“Dean-,” the more kindly looking of the two took a step forward. Dean clicked off the safety, the sound of it loud against the silence. The man stopped, stepped back.
“I’ve heard as much as I want to,” he said, body shivering again, “and I don’t want to hear anymore. Just let my dad go.”
The man who’d moved turned pitying eyes on him and Dean found he could not meet his stare without wanting to break down where he stood. His arms shook with the strain of holding the gun up. He didn’t know how long he’d be able to stay like this before the darkness- already creeping in at the edges of his vision- consumed him completely.
“Severus,” the man said. Dean watched as, with obvious reluctance, the dark-haired man beside his father waved the object in his hand, releasing his father from whatever spell he’d been holding him under.
John didn’t spare a moment in striding over towards Dean. Taking the gun quickly from his hands and aiming it towards the two men in a left-handed grip with expert ease before wrapping his right arm around Dean’s waist and helping to support his weight. Dean sagged against him, fingers clenching at the sleeve of John’s jacket and using the familiar feel and smell of his dad to anchor himself.
“We can help you, Dean,” one of the men called out.
John began walking them backwards out of the kitchen and Dean followed with stumbling steps, ignoring the comment. With the immediate danger out of the way as far as he was concerned, Dean felt the exhaustion and pain come at him with renewed vigour. He stayed on his feet however, determined not appear completely weak and useless as he followed his father’s lead out of the kitchen and eventually out of what looked to be a cabin in the middle of the forest.
He started shivering again, the damp ground and chilling air swirling about his bare feet and legs as they stepped onto the muddied path leading from the cabin to the car. Dean found himself being bundled into the front passenger seat almost without realising that they’d reached the car. His head was spinning horribly now, his vision blurring with dizziness and pain and he curled in on himself, his thoughts troubled with everything he’d just heard. He didn’t know what was going to happen now with him- to him- he didn’t want to become a werewolf. He didn’t want to become another one of the monsters out there, hurting and killing people, tearing families apart like his was torn apart all those many years ago.
He felt the rumble of the impala stirring to life beneath his slumped body and for a moment was eased into a feeling of comfort and security; he felt safe in this car. He felt as though nothing could touch him whilst inside it, as though talk of witches and werewolves were things that only existed out with it and that if he never stepped foot outside again he’d never have to deal with it.
The car shuddered beneath him as it pulled away from the cabin,
- - -
They didn’t go far. John pulled the car over once they were under the cover of the trees, out of sight of the cabin and the two men there. Dean stirred back to full wakefulness then, sitting himself up as much as he could and looking to his dad who sat, silent and brooding and staring out the front window. His hand was hesitant in its touch as he reached out to tug at the sleeve of his dad’s jacket.
“Is it true?” He asked, breaking the silence and turning wide eyes upon his father, uncaring of the fact that he wasn’t hiding his emotions, his terror, as well as he’d always been taught.
John’s fingers whitened as he increased his grip on the steering wheel.
“Dad?” Dean pressed, his voice soft but hesitant; brave in the asking but cowardly in wanting to know the answer. He wanted his dad to lie to him. To sling his arm around him and tell him it was all nonsense, that of course it wasn’t true, he was going to be fine and what the hell was all this worrying about? But he didn’t, and Dean watched as John closed his eyes a brief moment, swallowing heavily as he tried to form the words Dean didn’t want to hear.
“I don’t know, Dean,” John answered after a stretched minute of silence. “I…” he looked over at Dean then and Dean almost cried as his father reached out for him, wrapping a tight arm about his shoulders and drawing him up against him in a one-armed hug. Dean clung to his dad then, pressing his face against the gun-powder and oil smell of his jacket and sucking in a deep breath, trying to control himself. His entire body ached, his entire being inside and out hurt and he just wanted to close his eyes and sleep all these troubles away.
“What’s going to happen to me, dad?” he asked softly.
“We’re gonna figure this out, Dean,” John countered, squeezing at his shoulders. He felt his dad shift, felt the kiss he pressed to the top of his head and felt the tears fall from his own eyes then.
“And if we can’t?” Dean’s voice was barely a whisper. John’s response was nonexistent.
He thought of how one of the two men in the cabin had spoken about John trying to kill him and wondered if it were the best, perhaps the only, solution after all. Dean pulled away from his dad, brushing the back of his hand in a quick and angry swipe across his eyes before reaching for the gun sitting upon his dad’s lap. He held it for a long, contemplative minute before he clicked the safety off and looked up to his father. John was watching him intently, unmoving, barely even breathing, his eyes following every movement of the gun as Dean turned it in his hand and offered it, handle first, to his dad.
“Please, dad?” Dean bit at his lip, his words a plea as he held the gun out towards his father in hands that trembled, urging John to take it from him. To use it on him. “I don’t want to be a monster.” He whispered.
“You’re not a monster,” John instantly returned, his look fiercely intent.
“But I will be,” Dean pressed, accepting the truth of his own words.
“No, you won’t.” John denied, vehemently.
“Dad-,” Dean tried, but his words were swiftly cut off as John took the gun from his hands in another practiced manoeuvre. He held it aimed towards Dean and Dean felt his heart lurch and his mouth dry almost instantly with fear and trepidation. He squeezed his eyes closed, unable to watch (not wanting the last thing he ever saw to be his father about to shoot him through the head).
There came a click and a shifting of fabric before the unmistakeable sound of the glove box being opened and closed sounded. Dean peeked his eyes open. John’s hands were back on the steering wheel, his gaze focussed on a point in the near distance. Dean felt his eyes well up in a mix of frustration-gratitude-disappointment and he shifted himself in his seat, turning his head as if to stare out of the side window.
John started the engine soon after. Nothing more was said on the subject, not upon their return to their motel to pick up their things. Not during the seemingly endless drive from North to South Dakota. Not even when they reached Uncle Bobby’s place and holed up there for the remainder of that calendar mouth. Nothing more was said on the subject, unless that is, Dean wasn’t around to hear it. Or rather, unless Dean appeared to not be around to hear it.
He’d been put on bed rest for the weeks following on from the attack but boredom and restlessness and a sick-nervousness of what was to come drew him from the room Bobby had made up for him and sent him in search of his father and uncle. He’d spend hours sitting in the shadows, listening to pages turning and candles flickering and the occasional shared piece of information pertaining to werewolves and the lore surrounding them.
He wanted to be angry at his father for keeping him from helping, but at the same time he was insanely grateful not to have to pour over page after page of unnecessarily graphic depictions of werewolf transformations, of the mutilation they caused, of the pain and suffering they were said to both endure and produce. He didn’t want to know how every bone in his body would bend and break and shift and reform in order to turn him into a wild and slavering beast. He didn’t want to know how he’d go insane at the merest whiff of a human scent and hunt that same scent down until it was ripped and torn and consumed in shreds of bloody meat.
He really didn’t want to know anything about werewolves at all.
He certainly didn’t want to be one.
The closer they got to the end of the month though… Dean could feel strange things happening to his body. Inexplicable urges for rare meats and changes in the way he saw, heard and smelled things. His bones ached and pulled and he felt as though he were in a constant state of alertness, waiting… just waiting for the inevitable to happen.
He asked his dad only once more since leaving Fort Ransom to help stop him from becoming a monster; his gun held out like some kind of offering, his please as earnest as they were desperate, but John had refused him again.
His dad stopped him from sleeping with a gun beneath his pillow after that.
In fact, his dad had stopped him from keeping any weapons at all.
- - -
There was only pain. Pain and fear and an all consuming hunger raging within him. There was no thought. No ability to think, to theorise, to understand. No recollection of events, only flashes of disjoined memories; metal walls, screams that turned to howls, splintering wood, the taste of blood, screaming voices, claws scratching, teeth biting, the sound of flesh tearing, bones breaking, searing pain, a hunger left unsatisfied.
The only thing Dean remembered about the transformation was the itch beneath his skin. The rush of prickling heat that assaulted him as he stood in the middle of his uncle Bobby’s panic room. His dad’s worried eyes watching him from behind the safety of the metal door keeping him prisoner within.
He remembered the itch, and the shakes, and the sweats, and the disconcerting sensation of his flesh crawling and his bones stretching.
He remembered the pain. Oh god the pain. He remembered dropping to his knees with a scream, a scream that never ended, a scream that rang in his ears right through the blackness of unconsciousness until he woke, the next morning, to find himself bundled in bandages. He woke up screaming.
He did not remember the transformation itself. He did not remember the wolf taking him over and ripping through the furniture in the panic room. He did not remember tearing into his own flesh when the wood proved unsatisfactory and the scent of humans because too unbearable to ignore.
He did not remember his dad screaming for him, or Bobby screaming at John and holding him back. He did not remember collapsing, spent and wounded in a bloody mess, his body convulsing as the transformation reversed itself.
He did not remember much about his first transformation, he only knew that he wished it were his last.
He lay in bed for three days afterwards, his body aching and burning in ways he never knew were possible. He was covered in self-inflicted bite marks and bruises and gorging scratches, and no matter which way he tossed or turned, there was always a fresh hurt to take into account. In those first few days after the transformation Dean wished he’d never survived the initial attack. Even being doped up on painkillers couldn’t entirely save him from the pain and delirium.
It took three days for his dad to make up his mind and bundle him into the impala. Three days of his drug-induced ramblings and half-choked screams of anguish before his dad packed them up and drove him straight back to North Dakota. John told him about Messrs Lupin and Snape who lived up in the cabin in the Sheyenne State Forest, about what they were and how they knew things, how they had medications that could help Dean, about how Remus was a werewolf and how they’d offered once to help him and how maybe they’d still be inclined to help him now.
Dean just wished everything would stop hurting.
- - -
Before they’d even pulled to a stop outside the cabin, the front door was opened and the two men Dean now recognised as being Severus Snape and Remus Lupin stepped out and onto the porch. It was almost as if they’d been expecting them. Dean shivered beneath the blankets piled around him and closed his eyes. He felt his dad touch hesitantly at the top of his head and tried not to flinch away from the contact; everything hurt; from his skin to his bones and even to his hair. Everything was a constant ache he couldn’t seem to rid, not even with the painkillers his dad had been giving him every couple of hours.
John lifted his hand just as quickly as he’d lowered it and Dean could almost see the grimace on his dad’s face at the sight of him, all bruised and cut up and looking so close to death’s door it was amazing he could still summon the energy to breathe. He felt the car shift on its axel as his dad pushed open his door and stepped out of the car. He could feel the coolness of the breeze that floated in from outside and he grit his teeth against it. He heard the crunching of his dad’s boots against dry leaves as they walked around the front of the car, stopping only when they reached his side and gently opening his door.
There was an apology somewhere in the silence as his dad reached in and eased him out of the car and into his arms. He paused then, and Dean could imagine him looking up towards the cabin, staring at the two men waiting on the porch for them. Dean kept his eyes closed, scrunched tight against the jarring ache as his dad began to walk them the rest of the way up the drive. Nothing was said as they climbed the steps, at least nothing that was said with words, there only seemed to be an air of acceptance as they made their way into the cabin.
Dean felt himself being lowered onto a bed soon after and then a hush of words spoken in quick succession before footsteps left the room. Someone, his dad he assumed, sat beside his bed and touched at his forehead. He flinched back then, choking on a whimper as he pulled at already torn muscles.
“I need you to drink this for me, Dean,” said a voice beside him. Dean blinked his eyes open in surprise at the sound of the unfamiliar voice and saw the man he knew to be named Remus Lupin sitting at his bedside.
“You’re… you’re the werewolf?” Dean asked, his voice raw and hesitant. The man looked… better than Dean had thought he would have looked, especially considering the full moon had only been a few days ago.
Remus smiled grimly and nodded his head. “Not the one that infected you, but I am a werewolf, yes.”
“How?” Dean frowned, feeling tears leaking from his eyes through the pain. Remus reached out with deliberate care and brushed them away with the tips of his fingers.
“How have I lived so long going through this every month?” Remus asked, smiling gently. Dean nodded fractionally.
“It’s not an easy life, Dean,” Remus started, “and for the longest time all I ever wanted was an out. But there are ways of managing the condition now; you won’t ever have to turn into that kind of werewolf again. You won’t have to be alone either.”
“Will it still hurt?” he asked, knowing that whilst he could keep himself locked up and away from people he could harm, there wasn’t any way he knew of to stop the all consuming pain that the transformation and his time as a werewolf had brought to him. Even now, days afterwards, he still ached with the wounds he’d inflicted upon himself during the transformation.
“Yes,” Remus said, not smiling anymore. “I won’t lie to you, Dean, it will always hurt, but I can promise that the pain won’t feel like this. It’ll never feel as bad as it did this first time. And it certainly won’t last this long either. We have a potion,” he explained, “that will let you keep your mind once you have transformed, and in turn this will allow you to keep in control of your own mind and stop you from hurting yourself.”
He reached out, urging Dean into an upright position before holding a vial of pungent smelling liquid to his lips. Dean pursed his lips, eyes looking to Remus for further reassurance despite himself.
“This will help to ease your pain.” He said, seeming to understand.
Dean opened his mouth and drank the liquid back with a few quick gulps. He wanted to gag on the taste but managed to swallow back the urge as he felt the liquid sliding its way thickly down his oesophagus before settling heavily inside his stomach. Remus lowered him back to the bed and tidied the blankets around him.
“Try to get some rest,” Remus urged.
Dean felt a heat begin to spread itself throughout his body, soothing his muscles and dragging him down into a haze of dreamy warmth. He opened his mouth, making as if to speak but Remus shushed him, repeating that Dean should try to get some sleep. When Dean closed his eyes, that’s exactly what he did.
- - -
When Dean woke next, it was with a feeling of bone-deep weariness but without the aches and pains he’d been expecting. He shifted cautiously against the bed and sighed in relief as instead of the flinching sting of tearing flesh he’d expected, he felt only the scratching of the sheets.
“Hey,” came a voice from beside his bed. Dean smiled, content, as he turned onto his side and saw his dad sitting and watching over him.
“Hey,” he replied, the word a cough against the dryness of his throat. His dad leant forward and helped ease him into an upright position before holding a glass of water to his lips. Without argument, Dean drank, his eyes closing against the sweet taste as it soothed his throat.
“Thanks,” he muttered as his dad took the glass away and helped lay him back down.
“How’re you doing?” John asked him, watching him intently.
“Okay.” He carefully stretched out his body. “Just tired now I think.”
“You should get some more rest.” John said.
Dean nodded but didn’t close his eyes. He didn’t really want to go back to sleep, not just yet anyway. He wanted to know what was going on, what was going to happen, now that he could think clearly. His dad was still watching him.
“How long have I been out?” He asked, wincing a little as he cleared his throat to ask.
“Only a couple of hours,” John said. Dean nodded. He wondered what Remus had given him that could work so fast. The silence stretched on. John shifted in his chair. Dean fingered the edge of the sheet covering him and thought that maybe he should just close his eyes and pretend to sleep. He continued to fidget with his sheets instead.
“Dean-,” John started then stopped. Dean looked up. There must’ve been something, some look on his face or in his eyes, because his dad reached out suddenly and took his hands, squeezing them tightly in his own. Dean felt a flush of heat rush through him and was embarrassed to realise his eyes were tearing up.
“I’m sorry,” John said. Dean looked away, trying to blink his eyes dry. His heart was pounding in his chest. “I just… I want you to know how sorry I am Dean.”
“S’not your fault,” Dean muttered.
“It is my fault,” his dad squeezed his hands again. “I’m your father and I should have protected you better. I should have…” John sighed, “We should have been talking. I should have answered your questions…”
“Dad,” Dean tugged one of his hands free, wiping quickly at his eyes as his tears began to fall. John let his other hand go and Dean brought both up to his face. He felt the side of his bed dip and then felt arms wrapping around him. Dean buried his face into his father’s chest, breathing in his scent whilst trying to pull himself back together.
“I love you, Dean,” John whispered against his ear, “I don’t ever tell you, or even show you, but I do. And I’ll do anything I can to help you through this, I hope you know that.”
Dean nodded, his heart swelling at the words. “What’s going to happen now?”
“Now?” John pulled away and Dean scrubbed his hands over his eyes a final time. “We’re going to stay here for a while, at least until… until the end of the month.”
Dean felt nauseous at the very thought of there being an end of the month. He shuddered, sinking back against his pillows and turning his head away.
“They tell me they have a type of medicine Remus takes to stop him transforming completely. Wolfsbane or something I think they said it was called. Do you remember the wolf we saw in the woods? Right before…” John trailed off.
Dean nodded, biting at the insides of his cheeks. Where once the memory of what had happened to him had been vague at best, he could now seem to recall it all in startling clarity, particularly the moment he’d been bitten, and infected.
“Remus told me that the wolf was him, instead of a werewolf he just turns into a normal wolf but he keeps his human mind. He says he’s in control of himself in that form.”
“He says it’ll still hurt to transform,” Dean whispered, speaking his fears out loud. “I mean… I don’t ever want to hurt anyone but… I don’t…” he clenched his jaw shut against the choke of words. His dad reached out and squeezed at his shoulder.
“I know, son,” John said, understanding. Dean didn’t know what to do with this side to his father; the caring, the displaying of emotion, the physical reassurances. It just all seemed so unreal, so unlike his dad that it kept throwing him off guard, kept making him want to just curl up in a ball and have his dad hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright when usually he’d be trying to man it up, brush it off, and convince everyone around him (including himself) that everything was alright, that he would be absolutely fine.
“I’m sorry,” Dean blurted out, scrubbing at his eyes again. John actually smiled at him; it was just a quick twisting of the lips, but a smile nevertheless.
“I think you get a free pass with this one, Dean.” John reached out, ruffling at his hair like he used to do when Dean was still a kid.
“I was told to give you some more of this potion stuff when you woke up,” John said, pulling his hand back and reaching for a small bottle sitting upon the bedside cabinet. “It’ll make you drowsy, but they assure me it’s healing you inside and out.”
“Why do you trust them so much?” Dean asked, frowning a little.
John paused, considering his words carefully before he spoke them. “Because they’re the only people I know who can help you.”
It wasn’t the best of reasons to base ones trust on but it was something at least, he supposed. He reached for the bottle and took a quick sip, cringing at the taste of it and the feel of it slipping down his throat.
“I’m going to get the monster that did this to you, Dean, I promise you that.” John’s voice was low and intense as Dean passed the bottle back to him.
Dean stilled at the words. There was something in the way John said them that raised the hairs on the back of his neck.
“Dad-,” Dean hesitated. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell his dad not to, to tell him that he didn’t want to see him getting hurt, but he said nothing, knowing how ridiculous such comments would be especially considering the job they did on an almost daily basis. It wasn’t as if either of them had never been hurt before now. Sure they’d landed in the hospital a handful of times apiece, but never like this, never this seriously (or permanently).
“Remus has agreed to stay with you this evening,” John said, eyeing him carefully.
Dean frowned at his dad once more. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
“I never said you did.” John almost smiled at him. “But I’d like for someone to watch out for you while I’m away and Remus volunteered.”
“Why, where will you be?” Dean asked, his heart beginning to hammer out a beat against his chest.
John slanted a look at him. “Hunting.”
“Dad…” Dean pressed his lips together. He knew it was the werewolf John would be hunting. His dad seemed hell bent on extracting some kind of revenge on the creature for what it had done to him.
“I should be there,” Dean finished.
“It’s not your hunt anymore, Dean.” John said, shaking his head and pushing to his feet as if that put an end to the matter.
“You can’t just leave me out of this,” Dean protested, pushing himself up a little more. “I’m the one who got attacked here, don’t I get a say?”
“I can and I will leave you out of this.” The words were spoken like a rebuke and Dean bristled to hear that tone in his dad’s voice again. John sighed then, huffing the breath through his nose.
“You’re in no fit state to be hunting, Dean,” John placated. “Severus has information regarding the creature’s whereabouts, but we have to do this now before we lose the trail for yet another month.”
Dean pursed his lips. It wasn’t as if he particularly wanted to meet the creature that had done this to him again. Not even if he was currently untransformed. It made him nauseous just thinking about the werewolf, about that night, about his own transformation which had been brought on by the werewolf’s bite. Dean clenched his fingers into the sheets. He didn’t want this happening to someone else either, nor did he want to hear about further incidents, about families losing loved ones as a result of these savage attacks.
He tried to imagine the werewolf with a face, a human body, a conscience, and failed. He thought of Remus then and his heart stuttered in his chest. He had a face, a human body, and a conscience. He was a man- werewolf- who had morals and compassion and managed his condition to the best of his abilities. If Dean hadn’t had his dad, Bobby, even Remus and Severus who were helping him now, if he didn’t know about werewolves and the transformation… what would there have been to stop him becoming the same as the monster out there attacking people when he turned into a werewolf? The thought made him uncomfortable.
“What will you when you find him?” Dean asked, fingers twitching against the linen.
The look John gave him spoke volumes and Dean… well, he said nothing. The werewolf, knowingly or not, had still killed people. There had to be some kind of comeback for that, hadn’t there?
“Try not to think about it, Dean.” John reached out to squeeze at Dean’s shoulder a moment before moving towards the door.
“Dad-,” Dean called, feeling a spike of panic shoot through him as his dad reached the door. John turned to look at him.
“I…” He hesitated, throat drying up against his words. John raised his eyebrows, waiting.
“Can I borrow your phone?” he finished, somewhat lamely, looking away. John paused a moment before fishing his cell phone from his jacket pocket and passing it over.
“I’ll see you later tonight, okay?” he hovering a second longer before moving back to the door and twisting the handle to open it.
“Dad-,” Dean called again, fidgeting with the phone. His heart was thundering in his chest again. All he could think about was how his dad was going off on a hunt and how he hadn’t yet had a chance to tell him what he wished he’d had the chance to tell him before the attack, how he’d just never said…
“Yes, Dean?” John answered patiently, prompting him.
“Thank you.” Dean blurted, “For looking out for me and… and I love you too, you know that right?” He ducked his head a little but kept his eyes on his dad’s.
“I know, son.” John said, smiling softly at him before finally leaving the room. As the door closed, Dean sagged back against his pillows. He stared up at the ceiling, already wondering how his dad’s hunt would go, how John would manage to work with Severus, what exactly they would do when they caught the werewolf, whether they’d give the guy a chance to explain or just…
Dean shook his head. Maybe he’d regret it later, but right now he really just didn’t want to know.
He looked down at the phone in his hands instead, trying to take his mind off the whole thing.
Life was too short for regrets after all.
Dean took a deep breath, and turned his thoughts from the impending hunt. He flipped his dad’s cell open and keyed in a number he knew he could probably rhyme off in his sleep.
The line on the other end rang once. Twice. Three times.
“Hello?” The word was a cautiously spoken question and Dean found himself grinning just a little.
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