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"Aftermath" (PG, gen)
dean has bottomless eyes
innie_darling
Hi, everybody!

It's my second lj-anniversary, and since I got an lj because of Supernatural, I thought I'd post on this date a story relating to the very first SPN episode I ever saw. The story itself is John-POV, a series of ten linked drabbles featuring John and his circle of contacts. My thanks to the wonderful janissa11 for looking at this with her keen and clever eyes.



"Aftermath"

The message is terse. It always is, but the cryptic shit is new. Yeah, he can get to Ford City, Nebraska, but he's found no sign pointing to that yellow-eyed bastard leaving the golden shores of California.

Yellow Eyes is probably still tasting the ash that had been Sammy's girlfriend as sweet flakes in the back of his throat.

He can't, he just can't take a break right now, no matter what other case pops up. Someone else can take on whatever's going down in Nebraska. Not me he texts.

Has to be you, John. Caleb texts back. Joshua says.

*

Who the fuck does Joshua think he is? And it's not like Caleb to play messenger so passively. Joshua had to have a pretty damn convincing sales pitch, but John knows he can learn more from talking to Caleb, can get Caleb's read on Joshua too, layers of meaning and shades of intention. He can pick them apart, no problem. Always been good at that, even drunk, one level sliding off another, each lit up amber as it flashed before his eyes.

He's stone-cold sober when he dials Caleb's number. He can hear his own heavy breaths.

"Caleb. Tell me."

*

"Step right this way, Detective," the man says, thin and nervous, hands fluttering like small birds.

He likes being a detective, the way that TV and movies have primed people to think of them as higher up than cops, allowed to bring steaming cups of coffee into crime scenes, not mocked for being doughnut-munching lard-asses. He breathes the caffeine deep, letting the aroma cut through the thick smell of chlorine staining the muggy air.

John looks around; he can see twenty-three different ways to die in this room right now. "Why don't you tell me what the problem is, sir?"

*

"Strange noises. And blinking lights. And cold air," John summarizes. He's going to kill Caleb and Joshua for insisting his boys had to stay clear of this. Why? "Anything else?"

"Well, the deaths too," the man says almost apologetically, as if he's to blame for John's incomplete information.

The pang in his gut grows uselessly sharper. "How many deaths?"

"Four. All in the last few weeks. The first three looked like accidents, but this last one didn't, so the cops came back out."

"Any links between them?"

"Just the timing, Detective. All happened a little after four in the afternoon."

*

His soles are dry but the tang of chlorine sticks with him. The library is warm and cozy, but the last thing he wants is another sweet-smelling volunteer demonstrating how to use the microfilm machine. All he needs is plain information.

But there's a big glossy photo on the checkout desk and a spray of flowers resting in front of it. Recent death - those flowers are real, and they're fresh. Seems a little quick to be one of the four victims, though.

Could be she's the angry spirit killing the rest. The engraved placard within the frame says Layla Rourke.

*

Layla couldn't hold a candle to his Mary, he thinks. Layla had actually been almost the same age as Mary when she died, though she'd had a chance to get used to the idea, could set all her affairs in order.

He can't find anything that would make this girl lash out at four of her neighbors at the community pool. She died in a hospital bed, her mother holding her hand, everything clean and white and calm.

He shuts his eyes and tries to ignore the flames and blonde hair twining behind them. He turns to the victims next.

*

Was there something special about this last one, something that set her apart from the previous three? April Hixon, sixteen, planning on the Olympics instead of college: medley, relay, and 200 meter backstroke.

The first picture tells the same story. Head like an egg under the bathing cap. Stocky body solidly packed with muscle. Probably outweighed half the boys in her class.

But in the second picture, she's cute, feminine; her hair is dry and she's grinning out at the camera, bright freckles glittering like jewels in the sunlight. He looks and sees a kid, a freckle-faced kid like Dean.

*

No way future Olympian April drowned in that pool. The others might've slipped, sure, been careless maybe, but April wouldn't have been fooling around. Not when she had to give up hanging out with her friends after school to do her laps. Not when she had a driving purpose in her heart.

There's another strange death referenced in the article, another hometown athlete. A man this time, training for a regional triathlon. Guy's name was Marshall Hall.

He gets up to find that back issue and passes under Layla Rourke's watchful eyes. Girl's kind of creepy-looking, if you ask him.

*

The triathlete was gay and not at all shy about it. No wonder there wasn't much of a hero's funeral for him when he keeled over. Not a lot of friends willing to say they mourned him. Not even a boyfriend, or partner, whatever, brave enough to stand over his grave. Not an acceptable way of life around here.

If he were in those dead shoes, he'd probably be pretty pissed too. Maybe even enough to kill.

The picture of Hall with medals around his neck is uncomfortably familiar. John's gut is screaming now. He knows he's got the guy.

*

Digging the lonely grave, he thinks. The article said Hall had a heart attack. Too young for that, he would've thought. But he remembers Sammy's voice breaking on a plea for help, a tale of woe. He casts that out of his mind when his shovel hits wood.

He jumps down and opens the coffin up. Hall's decomposing slowly enough for the horror on his face to still register.

He salts, douses, and wraps the body and burns it to dust. "No more killing, Marshall," he says; this one's gotten under his skin. "I'll take care of whatever got you."


++++++++++++++++++
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

Terrific John pov. The mood of this is quietly sad, and a little but not to creepy, haunted not only by Layla's presence and the actual haunting, but John's memories.

Thank you so much! I wasn't sure if this one would work.

Oh, heck. I love the different view John brings here, with our own sympathies scewed by what we saw it makes a great contrast. And that last line *wibble*

John's doing this part right, you know? It's just the part where he has to be a *dad* that seems to be eluding him.

Thanks!

Oh, so creepy and sad.

I'm so glad this worked for you! Thanks!

Oh what an awesome idea! Brilliantly executed and a nice turn on canon. :)

I thought this would be fun to try - glad it worked for you! Thank you!

Ooh, so very interesting, that what happened in 'Faith' had a lingering effect. Creepy! I like it.
:)

"Faith" had a lingering effect on *me* - it made me start lusting after a boy on his deathbed (!). It was gooooooood.

Glad you liked it!

You keep writing things that make me sad! Beautifully sad, heart-touching sad, but sad!

Oh, then you won't want to read my bigbang story! It ends happily, but it's a long, hard road getting there. (I say this as if it's already written. Ha!)

Sorry you were made sad.

Mm, nice expansion of both 'Faith' and of John. I loved how much was unsaid, how much John wasn't thinking about.

Thank you so much! Glad you liked!

Oh, this is awful in the very best way. Sad and haunting and Layla going so quietly and oh, Marshall. You deserved more.

*sigh*

Just beautiful.

Poor Marshall! He gave us Dean!

Thanks!

I really liked how you brought Layla into it. Really neat, and nicely connected to Sam and Dean although I did have a moment of your-son-almost-died-for-her related John fuming! lol. I like your tone! Like dotfic said, quietly sad and a little creepy.

Also?

Yellow Eyes is probably still tasting the ash that had been Sammy's girlfriend as sweet flakes in the back of his throat.

That totally made me wince, and was just so cool! Nice writing, my dear!

Oh, thank you so much! Glad you liked this!

Such an interesting look at those characters, seeing it from such a different perspective.

Happy LJ-anniversary!

Thanks, honey! I wanted to try to write something we knew in reverse, you know?

Oh, wow, what a really unique and fascinating concept and so well executed. I loved that Joshua said this job wasn't for John's boys... nice to know these friends were looking out for them. I always felt kinda ripped off that we didn't get to meet him.

Lovely insight into John's thoughts - sad and bitter at Jess' death, understandably, and his ever present grief for Mary. Thank-you.

Oh, I have all sorts of ideas about Joshua - and he wasn't killed off, so maybe we will get to see him! Glad you enjoyed this - thanks!

Whoa ... Marshall Hall is often forgotten when Faith is referenced, considering this guy died for Dean. Fantastic. Lucid. Fluid.

Lovely. And love your John, especially when it all came together in the end.

Yeah, I feel for Marshall. He had no idea, poor guy.

Thanks so much!

I liked this, I like the idea, and most of all the bleak mood you created. Great job!

And Happy LJ Annyversary!


Thank you so much for the kind words!

Nicely done. Bless Joshua for insisting that John, not the boys, take care of this one. Sam and Dean really, really didn’t need to revisit that painful place and time.

Good John voice. :)

Favorite lines:

John looks around; he can see twenty-three different ways to die in this room right now.

I love this line. Trust John to do that.

Hall's decomposing slowly enough for the horror on his face to still register.

Eew!

No, the boys definitely didn't need to be back in this place. Though I wonder if either of them has ever forgotten it.

Thanks!

Wow, this is gorgeously vivid, and felt just like John to me. Wonderful idea, beautifully executed. I love that he knows a side of the story the boys never will, and vice versa. So cool.

I liked the idea of playing with the reverse side of the needlework, see if that picture made any sense on its own, you know? Glad you liked this, thanks!

Nice. It seems right that Marshall Hall would become a vengeful spirit. Being taken by a Reaper pissed off about being bound and taking lives out of cycle would probably be pretty hard on the psyche! I love all the subtext in this. There is something innately satisfying about knowing more than the characters know and speculating about how they would feel if they did know. I like your John POV a lot. He is so forceful and so relentlessly focussed. I also really liked the line about Yellow Eyes and Jessica's ashes. That was inspired.

There is something innately satisfying about knowing more than the characters know and speculating about how they would feel if they did know. Especially with these Winchesters, who keep so much locked up!

John's voice just came to me - that was a nice surprise for me. I'm so pleased you liked this. Thanks!

I haven't seen this before and I really enjoyed it

it's post-faith! one of my favorite episodes. :D no wonder caleb and joshua made john go out there.... i really like how he's concentrating on the job but can't help thinking about his boys, and i can't remember if he ever knew sam took dean to this particular corner of nebraska when dean was dying, but towards the end it seems to click for john in some way - this one's gotten under his skin - it's not just another job - and i went *heart-clench* at the way it comes together. (and i love how he decides layla's creepy-looking around the time he figures her spirit's doing all the killing. perceptions.)

I don't know, actually, if we ever find out how much John heard - whether he listened to Sam's message, if any of the other hunters ever said anything to him, if he pieced it together himself. I thought it would be fun to play with, anyway, since "Faith" is a favorite of mine too. Glad you liked!

I really liked the feel of this. Faith was a very emotionally charged episode, but John's whole take on the aftermath is all so detached and sort of absent minded while he thinks about the demon. It allows for great little tidbits about why he likes playing detectives. Very nice. I like the ending too. Of course, he has no idea about Dean, SueAnne, the Reaper or the fact that it's already taken care of.

John! This is why you need to talk to your kids! Ah, "Faith" was such a rich episode - there's so much to work with there. Thanks!

Excellent. Such an interesting take on the canon of Faith. I wish there was a whole 'nother show just devoted to what John was doing during all those months of leaving our boys on their own in S1.

Thanks for sharing. ♥

I wish there was a whole 'nother show just devoted to what John was doing during all those months of leaving our boys on their own in S1. Dude, ME TOO!

Hmmm, I wonder, if after bigbang is over, or some time, if we should propose this as a challenge? That would ROCK!

I'm so pleased you enjoyed this, honey - thanks!

(p.s. - hope this means you're feeling better)

A John that is haunted not only by those he sought and found. Thanks for sharing the read. John does not fall into this life that easily, or willingly, imho.

I'm glad this worked for you! Thanks so much!

Oh, that's good. Bravo!

Oh wow. Now I want more. I was expecting more. Can John put it together? Can there be another chapter where he does put it together? And what got him was well....Dean in a way. So wow. Awesome job!

Ooh, I doubt I'll be writing any more - I pretty much never write sequels - but maybe we can get lots of what-was-John-up-to stories soonish?

Thanks so much!

I think you are awesome. Period.

Well, that's always nice to hear! Thank you kindly!

Wow. What an awesome twist of canon...that feels like canon.

Wonderful story!

Thank you so much! I'm very pleased you enjoyed it!

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