irismay42 & Tree
Winchester pressed the cellphone against his ear, willing
his youngest son to respond to the authoritative tone
in his voice. It would have worked on Dean. Not so much
Dean’s here.” Sam spoke as if he hadn’t
even registered the entreaty in his father’s voice,
his relief at his older brother’s imminent arrival
twisted in John’s gut, something born of twenty-some
years of experience; something telling him his boys
were in danger.
gritted his teeth as static assaulted his ear, pulling
the phone away as he realized Sam’s voice was
no longer on the other end of the line. He was gone.
He was alone.
youngest was alone.
she was coming.
He yelled for his son again even though he knew it was
futile, the call having already crapped out before he
even thought to hit the phone’s disconnect button.
His hands balling into fists at his sides as he squeezed
hard on the offending piece of plastic, he set his jaw
and tried to concentrate enough to clear the cloud of
panic beginning to fog his brain.
Sam had said they were in Plano.
break – Plano wasn’t that far, maybe sixty-five
miles as the crow flies. It’d be a longer drive
though – an hour and half, maybe an hour if he
broke every speed limit from where he was to where he
needed to be.
glanced at his watch as he tried to force his thought
processes back into some kind of order: Get to Plano.
Find his boys. Get them the hell away from that half-demonic
he had no doubt she had them.
thought it merely a coincidence at first when he’d
realized how close he was to his boys. He’d been
in Texas for a while, figuring she’d turn up here
sooner or later, like the proverbial bad penny. But
with Winchester luck running true to form, he’d
scoured almost every inch of this mammoth state –
followed every lead, every dead end – and repeatedly
come up empty. No one had been able to tell him what
had become of Emma Collins; what had become of her after.
found out about the fire; about the murders. But after
that, the girl had pretty much disappeared off the face
of the planet, and if anyone knew where she was, they
sure as hell weren’t talking.
to John Winchester anyway.
his boys had been with him – Sam with his sincere
expression and sympathetic eyes, Dean with his easy
charm and quick wit – he had little doubt he’d
have stood a better chance of shaking something loose.
he should have told them.
he should have warned them.
we’re stronger as a family, Dean had once
told him, and even though he recognized the truth in
that statement, he just couldn’t bear the thought
of intentionally putting his boys in the path of this.
the path of her.
say ignorance is bliss, after all…and the road
to Hell is paved with good intentions.
should have told them. He should have trusted them.
He’d left them vulnerable; unaware; unprepared.
now she had them, he knew it.
before Sammy had mentioned the birthmark on her shoulder,
he’d known. Deep down, he’d known. Her just
showing up out of the blue; the possessions and the
deaths; Dean falling for her so damned hard.
had found his boys before he had found Emma.
a fool he’d been. He should have known
to ask after a girl named Cameron. So obvious she wouldn’t
be going by the name Collins anymore. He should have
known. He should have figured it out.
mentally berating his own shortcomings wasn’t
going to get him anywhere. And right now he needed to
get to Plano, to his boys. No matter how old, how big,
how tough they got, they’d always be his children.
And he’d be damned if he’d let that Hellspawn
do a damn thing to them to punish him for what he’d
done to her.
was his fight, not theirs.
wrenched open the driver’s side door of his truck,
the graveyard he’d been investigating all but
forgotten as he leaped in behind the wheel.
didn’t even seem to notice the piles of paper
littering his usually orderly vehicle. Handwritten notes,
photographs and internet printouts were strewn haphazardly
over the front and back seats, and as he started the
engine his hand brushed the bottle of holy water and
the crucifix nestled next to him on the seat, a loaded
shotgun and a bowie knife within easy reach in the passenger
wasn’t taking any chances on this hunt.
briefly in the rearview, ignoring the dark circles under
his eyes and the few days’ stubble on his chin
that spoke of sleepless nights and days filled with
worry and with guilt, he shifted the truck into gear
and sped away from the sidewalk, trying not to think
about the hell he’d gone through this past couple
the phone call.
found you, Johnny. Wanna come out and play?”
ignored her the first time. Some random chick raving
about revenge and retribution, about having his head
on a pole. She could have been any one of a dozen demons
or monsters he had tussled with over the years. He’d
never for a minute thought….
the second time.
Bobby’s rebuilt house in South Dakota, his boys
safe and smiling, sipping beer with his old friend,
just four guys together and relaxed, talking, laughing…
His phone ringing. A familiar number. A familiar voice…
trying to ignore me, Johnny. I don’t like to be
didn’t begin to cover her end of the conversation,
and at first John couldn’t work out who the hell
she was. Not until she casually dropped Fort Worth into
the conversation. Exorcism. Screaming and blood. Then
made me, John. Now it’s time for you to suffer
the consequences. Retribution, Johnny. One family for
another. Better find me before I find them. Your boys
are fair game.”
hung up on her, spine turning to ice water, fingers
gripping the phone so hard he was amazed he didn’t
crush the thing.
never thought… He’d never thought….
taken off immediately, explaining nothing to the boys,
less to Bobby. Something’s just come up and
I need to take off...A friend of mine needs some help....
lies he’d told his sons haunted him as he put
Sulphur Springs in his rearview and drove doggedly into
the night...or the early morning. Time had lost all
meaning to him as those fears and those doubts, the
resignation and the terror he’d felt as he’d
left Bobby’s, settled into a tight hard knot in
his stomach, a dull reminder of why he’d taken
off in the first place: He needed to protect his boys.
had no idea what she was capable of – still had
no idea – but the more he’d found out about
the last few recorded deeds of Emma Collins the more
he’d begun to fear for the lives of his sons.
If she meant to harm them to get to him, then he needed
to find her. To end her. Fast. Even if it meant sacrificing
his own life to do it.
it had been months since that day in South Dakota, since
he’d walked out on his boys yet again; as he always
seemed to be walking out on them. Dean, still looking
like that scared four-year-old sitting on the hood of
the Impala, while Sam fought back the inevitable petulant
scowl, the “You’re leaving again?”
that he had perfected so well as a kid.
in all that time, he’d still found no trace of
the girl who was threatening his family. Every time
he thought he had a concrete lead, he hit a brick wall;
every piece of confirmed intel nothing more than a red
herring. He was starting to despair he’d ever
track her down.
she hadn’t called him again, not after Bobby’s,
almost as if she’d found a far more entertaining
way of drawing him to her: something more ingenious,
more despicable, more fun than merely bating
him over the phone.
found his boys.
now he had to find her. He had to.
his boys first. They were in trouble. He just knew it.
Deep down inside, he just knew it.
if she had them, if she had his boys? If she hurt them,
if she so much as touched them? Then she’d
rue the day she ever crossed John Winchester.
had no real clue where he was looking. He’d screeched
into Plano a little over an hour ago, as if the Devil
himself was on his tail.
in John Winchester’s case? That might actually
be the truth.
down the panic gripping his insides, he’d fallen
back on his military training, quickly identifying a
search grid and methodically checking every street,
every nook, every cranny. His boys were here. Or they
had been. He just had to be patient. He just had to
be thorough. He’d find them.
would find them.
search every damn street in this town if he had to.
Every house. Every room. Every square inch.
almost knocked the holy water off the seat as he snatched
his phone up from the place where he’d abandoned
it after the last twenty times he’d tried calling
Sam. Pulling it to his ear, he hit redial, not really
expecting an answer and not really surprised when he
didn’t get one.
it, Sammy, where the hell are you?”
rolled down the window, needing the cold early morning
air to keep him sharp, keep him focused, sucking in
a breath as he prepared to disconnect the call…just
as he heard music.
didn’t recognize the song – anything later
than 1983 and he didn’t have the first idea –
but it was music. And he was driving at twenty miles
per hour down a road on the outskirts of the town, the
nearest house a mile away, the nearest car probably
in the next town over.
disconnected the call with his thumb, and the music
on the brakes, his headlights illuminated something
dark and viscous in the middle of the road, and as he
jumped out of the truck his insides lurched when he
realized he was looking at a pool of blood congealing
on the blacktop.
Sam’s number once again on his cellular, he pulled
a flashlight out of his jacket pocket and began to shine
it around the deserted road, distant music again drifting
toward him on the early morning air.
played the flashlight away from the pool of blood in
the center of the road, following a trail that lead
to a ditch running alongside the blacktop. He sucked
in a breath, knees almost buckling out from under him
as he took one shaky step toward the gully.
be there. Don’t be there.
much as he needed to find his boys, he didn’t
want to find them like this. Not like this.
swallowed. Suck it up, Corporal! a voice in
his head barked at him. Get your ass over there,
right now, soldier!
foot in front of the other, he made his way hesitantly
to the side of the road, the flashlight finally illuminating
a dark shape lying in the ditch, unmoving, twisted into
an odd position.
swallowed down bile, trying to keep it together, trying
to be strong.
flashlight played across something small, something
glinting on top of the dark silhouette, and John frowned,
almost glad of the distraction from the images his mind
was creating of its own accord.
down the slope, his boots sliding a little on the damp
ground as he hoped to hell he wasn’t skidding
on blood, he came to an abrupt halt inches away from
what was clearly a body. John had seen enough corpses
in his time to know.
took another breath before crouching down next to it,
his flashlight slowly moving up the broken, bloodied
torso to the face.
youngest was a mess, blood all over, limbs twisted in
odd directions, his face a patchwork of bruises and
cuts, the skin beneath tinged blue with cold. With…with….
His boy wasn’t dead. He just wasn’t.
he was scared to touch him, scared to check for a pulse.
Scared to confirm that worst case scenario making kaleidoscope
pictures of white dots in front of his eyes.
lost what little he’d eaten then, vomiting bile
when there was nothing else left in his stomach; throat,
eyes, lungs, heart burning.
never seen his hand shake so much as it did when he
reached out two fingers and gingerly placed them against
his youngest’s neck.
please, please… I’ll do anything. Anything.
Just please, please….
strength remaining in his legs left him when he felt
the weak, thready pulse beneath his fingers, and he
collapsed to the cold ground with a noise somewhere
between a choked sob and the keening wail of a dying
he crawled toward him, still scared to touch him, scared
to move him, scared to think, scared to act. There was
so much blood and…silver.
thing he’d seen in the flashlight beam, the thing
he’d seen glinting from the road. Bending further
over his son’s prone form, John squinted in the
darkness, fingers running carefully over his son’s
chest until they closed on something cold, something
silver; something ring-shaped.
raised the object up for closer inspection, fearful
he might puke again when he realized what he was looking
at: Dean’s ring. And it was covered in blood.
Sam’s blood? Dean’s blood? John didn’t
know, couldn’t tell, and somehow that made things
low moan somehow snapped John out of his paralysis,
and he snatched up his cell once more, hitting 911 with
okay, Sammy,” he whispered, one hand ghosting
in his boy’s hair. “It’s gonna be
and dusty. Splintered in places. Moldy in others. Old
carpet fibers stuck to protruding rusty nails.
Crumbling and dirty. Peeling paper and flaking plaster.
Cobwebs all over.
exits. No door on either, just crooked frames.
pool of light from a bare bulb dangling from the cracked
blinked, finishing his inventory of his surroundings
as he turned his attention to himself.
he was breathing. And he was in a house. And he was
seated. And his wrists and ankles hurt.
was blood on his jeans. A new hole just above the knee
where his leg had snagged on the trunk catch as she’d
shoved him in.
almost choked on that thought, forcing it away, forcing
true not true not true….
by the amulet.
knows what she is….
his ring from his finger.
grateful I didn’t take the whole finger, lover.”
to sleep, baby. It’ll all be better when you wake
sure as hell didn’t look better.
a hold of yourself, Dean!
took another breath.
he was tied to a chair. Great. Never a good start to
struggled a little, the white hot pain suddenly shooting
up his arms strangely making him grin like a loon. Yeah,
it hurt like hell, but he could move. He could move.
Not much, especially considering he was trussed up like
a Christmas turkey. But at least he wasn’t paralyzed
continued his self-assessment, flinching at the agony
he felt in his fingers as he was assaulted by vivid
images of his hands, bloody and raw, clawing at the
lid of the Impala’s trunk. Desperate to get out,
desperate to get to his brother.
true not true….
least that explained why his fingers stung like they
were being gnawed on by a ravenous wendigo.
tugged at his wrists again, barely stifling a whimper
as new agony radiated up his arms. He couldn’t
see behind him to where his hands had been twisted at
his back, but judging by the copious amounts of baling
twine twisted around his torso and his ankles, he was
pretty sure that this was what he could feel biting
into the already abused flesh at his wrists.
he thought to himself, thoughts suddenly returning to
Mia and stopping abruptly.
think. Don’t think.
rundown house, boards up at the window, filthy curtains,
broken furniture… I’ve lived in worse
sniffed cautiously. The place stank. Not just of old
and abandoned but of something else. Blood. And
shuddered involuntarily, hunter’s senses instantly
on alert as he continued to assess his immediate surroundings.
He’d been in a lot of haunted houses in his time.
And this place? Well, there was certainly something
not right about it, even if it wasn’t
haunted. Couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
He wasn’t sure if it was the smell or…something
it was the psychopathic half-demon shimmying through
the open doorway toward him, a huge self-satisfied smile
on her face.
someone’s having a good time,” he muttered,
not quite making eye contact with her.
sweet home, Dean!” Mia burst out, arms wide to
indicate their surroundings. “Welcome to my homecoming
grimaced. “Figures a skank like you would live
in a craphole like this.”
giggled. She actually giggled. “I didn’t
live here long, honey,” she told him. “Your
daddy saw to that.”
looked up at her sharply. “What the hell are you
talking about, you skanky demon Bitch Queen from Bitchville
narrowly avoided flinching when Mia’s fingers
were suddenly pressed to his lips. And a knife was pressed
to his throat.
leaned down toward him, soft chestnut tresses brushing
against his cheek. “That’s half-demon,”
she reminded him, looking long into his eyes before
abruptly straightening and pulling away again, the knife
leaving a thin trail of blood across his neck as she
gritted his teeth. “Well excuse me,” he
ground out. “I’ll be sure they write that
on your gravestone.”
laughed sardonically. “Oh, I don’t think
you’ll be around to see me buried, lover,”
she told him. “But if you’ve got an epitaph
in mind for yourself? Y’know, something punchy
like ‘Here’s lies Dean Winchester: Sap.’”
didn’t reply, merely plastered his most winning
smile across his face and tried his best to pretend
she wasn’t getting to him even a little bit. “So
where the hell are we – no pun intended?”
he asked at length. “You know, I’d have
thought you might have brought me somewhere a little
more classy for our first real date.”
worry, baby, there’ll be candles and roaring firelight
soon enough,” Mia told him. “Of course,”
she added, running her fingers playfully across his
chest, “it’s gonna be your flesh that’s
burning.” She sighed dramatically. “It’ll
be such a shame when I have to incinerate those adorable
freckles of yours.”
ran the back of her hand across his cheekbone, and Dean
jerked away sharply. “Didn’t answer my question,”
he pressed on.
the sky blue? Where do bees go in the winter? Did little
Sammy go splat when he got slammed by that
huge frickin’ truck?”
strained at his bindings, despite already suspecting
the damage they were doing to his wrists. “Where.
The hell. Are. We?” he demanded for the second
time, lip curling at the half-demon in something approaching
figured you for the control freak type, Dean,”
Mia snarked. “Thought that was more your brother’s
thing. Still.” She shrugged. “It’s
kinda poetic. This is where I was born. And it’s
where you’re going to die.”
raised an eyebrow. “You were born here?”
Worth, Texas,” Mia confirmed. “Of course,
the house was a little less –” she paused,
searching for the right word, “– shabby
back then. It’s been abandoned for years. Ever
since…” She trailed off, a thoughtful expression
flitting momentarily across her face. “Well. You
know how it is. When something bad happens
in a place. Upsets the karma or the chi or whatever.
No one wants to live here. Bad vibes. People keep seeing
things. Hearing screams in the middle of the night.
You know, your kinda deal.”
happened here?” Dean asked slowly.
wagged her finger at him. “Naughty naughty. Wouldn’t
want to blow the ending for ya. Let’s just say
this was my parents’ house.” She laughed
hollowly. “Well, Emma’s parents’
frowned. “Who the hell is Emma?”
smile slipped and she drew one slender finger along
the blade of the knife she still held. “Maybe
we’ll ask your daddy when he gets here.”
Plano Medical Center,
rolled Dean’s silver ring between thick fingers,
dried blood still clearly visible both inside and out.
He sighed long and hard, the fingers of his other hand
clutching at Sam’s wrist as the machines surrounding
his youngest beeped out the symphony that indicated
his boy continued to live.
turned his attention to Sam’s pale face, relieved
that he’d not required the ventilator, but a little
confused as to how he could be breathing by himself
when his chest had looked like it had been run over
by a tank.
were still tubes and wires attached to various parts
of his son’s body, their presence perhaps more
frightening to John than the bruising to the boy’s
face and all over his bare torso and arms. He looked
like he’d lost a fight with a wrecking ball.
liked to think not much scared him, but he was never
as scared as he was when one of his boys was hurt. He’d
never forget the first time either of them got injured
on a hunt – that sick feeling that welled up in
his stomach, that voice in his head chiding him,
“This is all your fault. You didn’t protect
certainly hadn’t protected Sammy, he reflected,
his thumb rubbing gently over his son’s pale skin
while his hand balled into a fist around Dean’s
ring. Hadn’t protected Dean so good either, he
forced back the tears prickling at his eyes as Sam suddenly
straightened, fingers tightening unconsciously around
his son’s wrist as reddened eyelids parted to
reveal unfocused blue-green eyes.
here. I’m here, son.” The relief was obvious
in John’s voice as he leaned forward, further
into his boy’s still limited field of vision.
Sam slurred groggily, trying to raise a hand to his
face, but only succeeding in lifting it half an inch
off the hospital bed.
okay, Sam,” John told him confidently, despite
his insides fluttering wildly. “You were…hurt.
But you’re okay.”
stared at him for a second before his eyes drifted shut…and
then suddenly opened wide. “Dean!” he yelled,
his shoulders lifting a good few inches off the bed
before his father’s firm hands pushed him back
down again. “Dad!” Sam continued to protest.
“Dad, Dean – he was – and Mia –
know, son, I know,” John said soothingly, not
releasing his grip on Sam’s shoulders.
Dad she’s gonna kill him!” Sam continued
frantically, eyes wild as he struggled against his father’s
hands. “Dad, she’s gonna kill him! We gotta
find him! We gotta –”
John interjected firmly. “Sammy, I know. I know.
Okay? But we need to take care of you first, son.”
blinked at him. “How – how can you know?
Dad, she – she’s some kind of demon! And
she’s got Dean! And she wouldn’t tell me
what she’d done with him and – and…She
– she paralyzed me somehow – I couldn’t
move – and this truck – this truck just
kept coming and –”
took a breath. “How am I not dead?” he asked
suddenly. “I should be dead.”
a miracle boy, Samuel James Winchester,” John
told him, a tiny smile flickering at the corners of
his mouth. “Or that’s what one of the nurses
frowned at him. “Dad. What’s goin’
shrugged, a sigh parting his lips. “I don’t
know, kiddo,” he said at length. “The docs
don’t get it either. I mean – there was
so much blood…” He trailed off, shaking
his head, not insensible to Sam averting his gaze at
his father’s uncharacteristic show of emotion.
“Sammy, the ER doc who admitted you – swears
up and down that when he performed his initial exam,
you had a broken left leg, six broken ribs, a punctured
lung and a fractured collarbone.”
glanced down at his obviously uncast limb and wiggled
his toes, before checking he could move his arms and
shoulders and take a deep breath without any discomfort.
looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Maybe it’s
a miracle,” he commented, shrugging his shoulders.
snorted. “Yeah, because we Winchesters are always
on the receiving end of miracles, right?”
He shook his head, trying to figure another explanation…
“Dean called me demonic,” he muttered
suddenly, and John looked up at him, the frown deepening
on his dark features.
were fighting – it was stupid. We both said some
not demonic, Sam,” John assured him. “That’s
not what this is.”
met his father’s level gaze. “Then what
is it?” he asked, his eyes almost pleading John
to have an answer.
didn’t reply, just turned his attention back to
the ring still clutched in his hand.
eyes widened when he caught sight of it. “Dad!
Is that –?”
left it on you, Sam,” John confirmed, nodding.
“The bitch left it on you. For me. So that I’d
be able to see what she’d done, what she was capable
Sam huffed as he tried to sit up a little, and John
immediately moved to help him, catching him beneath
the shoulder and propping him up on a hastily assembled
stack of pillows at his back, all the while trying to
ignore the fact that the bruises on his son’s
chest seemed to be fading right in front of his eyes.
“Dad, tell me what’s going on. Why’s
she doing this? Mia. Why’s she after us? Why’s
she after you?”
sighed heavily. “It’s a long story, son.”
I think I better get comfortable.”
held Sam’s stubborn gaze a while before finally
shaking his head in resignation. He couldn’t protect
his son from the truth any longer.
was 1985,” he began slowly, a sigh in every word.
“Two years since we lost your mother. I was still
a rookie as far as hunting went, didn’t really
know what the hell I was doing…”
Fort Worth, TX
November 2nd, 1985
was glad, in a way, that he wasn’t around his
boys today. Today of all days. It had hit him hard last
year, too hard, so hard he hadn’t even been able
to look at Dean for most of the day. Couldn’t
bear to see Mary’s eyes looking back at him. It
wasn’t fair on the kid, he knew that, and he also
knew that Dean might still have been a little kid this
time last year, but he knew. He knew what day it was
when November 2nd rolled around. Just as John knew he
should have been there for him last year. But he wasn’t.
He couldn’t be. Just as he hadn’t been there
for Mary a year earlier.
year, he’d abandoned Dean altogether. Him and
Sammy both. He knew the boys were safer with Pastor
Jim than they would be with him here, but that didn’t
really make him feel any better about leaving them.
Not today. Of all days.
he reminded himself, it was better for all concerned
that he was here lost in a hunt than there lost in a
bottle of Jim Beam. Better for him, better for Sammy.
And, he tried to convince himself, infinitely better
for Dean. Dean didn’t need to see him that way,
the way he’d seen him last year. He didn’t
need to see that again. Not ever.
sighed, readjusting his coat as he scrunched lower in
the Impala’s front seat.
for all concerned that he was here, hunting.
he wasn’t entirely sure what he was hunting.
Jefferson had been able to tell him was that he’d
heard some noise about demonic activity in Fort Worth
– electrical storms, cattle mutilations –
typical signs of the presence of demons, just as Bobby
had explained to him as part of the Demon 101 course
the older hunter had insisted he take before he let
him anywhere near a book of exorcisms.
this point in his hunting career, John was pretty much
tracking down anything that might be the bastard
that killed Mary.
glanced up through the windshield at the ordinary suburban
house that would have looked right at home on their
street back in Lawrence.
had been an odd trail of strange happenings and whispered
rumors that led John to the home of the Collins family.
were the epitome of “normal,” completely
ordinary in every way as far as John could tell. Dad
worked security at the mall; Mom was a dental hygienist;
and they had two small boys about Dean and Sam’s
was, demons seem to prey on “normal,” and
it hadn’t taken much in the way of surveillance
for John to figure out Mom was possessed. Two nights
running she’d snuck out of the house just after
midnight and disappeared into a building in a less than
salubrious part of town.
had tried to follow her inside on both occasions, but
even though his lock picking skills were improving under
the patient tutelage of Jefferson and Caleb, his knowledge
of electronic security systems still left a lot to be
the oily film of black he’d seen ripple across
Mom Collins’ eyes as she exited the building was
all he really needed to know about her.
was possessed. She had to be exorcised.
was also heavily pregnant. Which was a problem.
had offered to come help him out if it turned out there
was a demon stalking the suburbs of Fort Worth. But
John had stubbornly declined the assist, informing his
friend that he had to perform his first solo exorcism
some time. Why not now?
course, that was before he knew about the baby.
knew he should have called Bobby the second he found
out, gotten some advice. Sure, he’d seen the grizzly
hunter and Jim Murphy both perform exorcisms a whole
bunch of times, but watching and doing were two completely
different things, and he knew there was a hell of a
lot more to it than just reading Latin from a book.
he’d never seen a pregnant woman exorcised before.
he really banish the evil entity within her without
hurting her or her baby? Could he risk destroying another
family, leaving two little boys motherless? Today, of
light snapped off in the upstairs window, and John glanced
at the time: 11.20pm. He pulled his coat tighter around
him, wondering if he could squeeze in half an hour’s
shuteye before Mrs. Collins went for another nocturnal
that would be the best time to take her out –
when she was away from the house and the boys –
take her someplace quiet and get that damn evil thing
out of her.
eyes drooped shut before he was aware of it, his head
lolling forward tiredly.
came awake with a start as the Texas night was ripped
asunder by the sound of a terrified scream.
wasn’t sure why, but for some reason he glanced
at the clock on the dash: 11.27pm. The exact time Mary’s
scream had ripped him from his slumber in front of the
TV, two years ago tonight.
leapt out of the car, sprinting across the road and
hurdling the Collins’ garden gate, feet pounding
up the pathway as another scream tore through the night.
No! Mommy please – please stop!”
was the oldest boy. The one Dean’s age.
John reached the front door, the boy’s screams
stopped abruptly. And then the man stopped screaming
paused for just an instant, the blood pounding in his
sound could be heard from inside the house.
until he heard…laughing.
up on one leg, he kicked hard at the door, the wood
splintering beneath his boot as the smell of blood and
death assaulted his nostrils.
almost gagged, almost turned and ran away, but the thought
of those two little boys – same age as Sam and
Dean – made him muster the courage to hold firm
and enter the house.
years of hunting hadn’t even remotely prepared
him for what he saw.
was blood everywhere, blood and lumps of flesh; muscle,
sinew. Bone. Internal organs. Strewn everywhere, all
around the room. The eviscerated remains of what had
once been Vincent Collins were a bloody heap in the
center of the family room, and the little boys…the
blinked hard, trying not to picture the faces of his
own sons on the broken little bodies lying amidst the
scattered remains of their father; two broken shells
lain at their mother’s feet.
it was she who was laughing.
Collins surveyed the devastation wrought by her own
two hands with something akin to glee, black eyes flashing
joyously as bloodstained fingers smeared pieces of her
family across her face.
laughed maniacally, obsidian eyes coming to rest on
John Winchester, who stood frozen in horror, silhouetted
by the moonlight streaming in through the broken doorway.
been following me,” Emmaline – no, John
reminded himself, the thing inside Emmaline
– commented. “What can I do for you, John
baulked. It knew him. The thing knew him.
was all he managed to ask, even as his fingers fumbled
for the bottle of holy water in his coat pocket.
shrugged. “Why not? Family only ties you down.
Doesn’t it John?” She took a step toward
him, casually licking blood from her index finger. “Where
are your little boys tonight, John? How safe do you
think they are?”
blood in John’s veins turned to ice water, and
for a second he was completely incapable of any rational
the fury hit him, and before he really knew what he
was doing, he was dousing the screaming woman with holy
water and shoving her backwards into a dining chair
positioned further into the room.
didn’t fight him, and the demon within her barely
protested as he pulled a coil of rope from his duffle
and proceeded to tie the woman to the chair.
expected more of a struggle, remembering Bobby’s
talk about protective circles and devil’s traps
and other tricks of the hunter’s trade usually
necessary to subdue a demon.
whether it was the holy water, or the simple fact of
the host’s pregnancy, or something else entirely,
this particular demon seemed to offer little resistance,
the smile still dancing across Emmaline Collins’
bloodied face as John fumbled for the well-worn book
in his pocket, trembling fingers hastily searching for
the Latin ritual inside.
te, omnis immúnde spíritus, omni satánica
ahead, Johnny,” the demon encouraged him. “Do
your worst. I already got what I came for.”
paused, momentarily distracted from the Latin. “What
do you –?”
incúrsio infernális adversárii,
omnis légio, omnis congregátio et secta
diabolica...” the demon continued for him.
“Come on, Johnny. Don’t keep a demon waiting!”
wiped sweat from his brow, resuming his chant uncertainly.
“...In – in nómini et virtúte
Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, eradicáre
et effugáre a Dei Ecclésia, ab animábus
ad imáginem Dei cónditis ac pretióso
divíni Agni sánguini redémptis...”
woman – or was it the demon inside her? –
groaned, her head thrown back in obvious agony as John
continued to chant the Latin from the pages of the little
book, glancing up at her between sentences as she writhed
and bucked against the ropes binding her to the chair.
insídiis diáboli, libera nos, Dómine,”
he continued, trying to remember to breathe. “Ut
Ecclésiam tuam secúra tibi fácias
libertáte servire, te rogámus, audi nos...”
glanced at the woman, swallowing hard as he swore he
saw the shape of a baby’s foot kicking out from
its mother’s stomach.
inimícus sanctæ Ecclésiae humiliáre
dignéris, te rogámus, audi nos.”
Collins threw back her head and screamed black smoke,
screamed until her throat was raw and she could scream
no more, her stomach jumping as the baby kicked harder
then she stopped. Everything stopped.
drew in a breath, barely daring to move.
woman had slumped against her bindings, eyes closed,
a single trail of blood running down her chin from her
demon was expelled.
rushed to her side, anxiously checking for a pulse and
blowing out a long-held breath when he found one.
saved her. He’d saved her. And he’d
saved her baby.
was then that she started to moan, bloodied hands clutching
at her stomach, breath coming in short hard pants. “Coming…”
she breathed. “She’s coming…”
No! Not now! Not when he was so close to saving
coming!” The woman turned dark brown eyes up to
his, pleading, begging. “Help me. Please help
the room around him, he spotted a phone on the wall
in the adjoining kitchen, rushing over to it and dialing
Ambulance. Right now!”
the street address before hanging up even as the dispatcher
was still talking to him, John rushed back to Emmaline’s
side, pulling out his pocket knife and slicing through
the ropes. She collapsed forward and he caught her awkwardly,
lowering her gently to the floor even as he grimaced
at the blood everywhere beneath her.
caught hold of his hand, smearing her children’s
blood onto his skin. “Please. My daughter. Please,
save my daughter!” There was horror in her eyes,
horror and revulsion and John knew that she’d
been aware of what was happening, of what her own hands
had done to her husband, her boys.
going to help you,” he promised, stroking her
hair gently. “The paramedics are on they’re
way. You’re going to be fine. Your baby’s
going to be fine.”
Please – it’s – my daughter –
if she – if she…” She broke off, tears
streaming down her face as she closed her eyes tightly
and shook her head. “Monster,” she whispered.
screamed anew as contractions hit her, and John looked
around himself helplessly – at the blood and the
remnants of the bodies, and this woman, this pregnant
woman, lying here at his feet, blood on her face and
her hands and in her hair.
never be able to explain all this.
the paramedics arrived – and the cops. When the
cops arrived. How was he going to explain this? He’d
left Lawrence under a cloud – CPS on his tail
and the cops still wary of his involvement in Mary’s
death. How the hell was he going to explain showing
up two years later to the day in Fort Worth Texas, the
bodies of a father and his two sons in pieces all around
be arrested in a heartbeat. He’d be arrested,
and charged with triple homicide and thrown in jail
forever and his boys… What would happen to his
boys? They’d be alone. They’d be defenseless.
He couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t.
He had to put them first. He had to.
sorry,” he muttered to the young woman lying in
front of him. “I’m sorry.”
let go of her hand and it fell limply to the blood-soaked
floor. Her face had drained of all color, her eyes squeezed
shut. She didn’t see him anymore.
rose to his feet, backing away from her even as he heard
the distant wail of sirens, finally turning and running
for the Impala, only stopping when he was inside, the
got four blocks before he turned the car around and
were two ambulances and three cop cars parked outside
the Collins house, boys and girls in blue erecting sawhorses
across the street, stringing them with yellow police
a few minutes of waiting, a young paramedic brought
a bundle out of the house wrapped up in silver blankets.
paramedic was trembling, his face as white as Emmaline
Collins’ had been.
John heard the sound of a baby’s wailing and a
part of him almost cried with relief.
save her. He’d saved the baby.
watched as she was carried into one of the waiting ambulances,
the sirens sounding and the lights flashing as the vehicle
sped away down the street.
sat there a long time after, watching, waiting. More
marked patrol cruisers showed up; a couple of unmarked
the County Coroner’s van.
bit his lip as he counted four body bags being carried
from the house.
saved her baby. But he hadn’t saved Emmaline.
He hadn’t saved her husband. And he hadn’t
saved her boys.
Blue Earth, MN
November 3rd, 1985
pulled the Impala to a gradual stop in front of Pastor
Jim Murphy’s house, shutting off the engine and
for a second just staring up at one of the darkened
second story windows.
boys were behind that curtain. Safe and whole and alive.
All he had to do was get out of the car and go upstairs
he couldn’t move.
could barely even breathe.
started at the insistent rap on the window, rolling
it down hurriedly as Jim Murphy leaned in toward him.
are they?” he asked, always his first question
when he’d been gone any length of time.
sighed. “They missed you. They always miss you.
You should come inside.”
should come inside, John.”
recognized the steely tone in his friend’s voice,
and he sat up a little straighter. “I shouldn’t…”
He looked up into Jim’s sympathetic blue eyes.
“Maybe I shouldn’t bring this home to them.
It’s not fair on them. This life. They deserve
more. They – they could get hurt. I could get
them hurt. I could hurt them –”
happened in Texas wasn’t your fault, John.”
blinked up at him. “How did you…?”
pastor shrugged. “Don’t have to be psychic
to know that story didn’t have a happy ending.”
shook his head, gripping the steering wheel tightly.
“I could have saved them, Jim. I should
have saved them. That little girl – she’s
an orphan now. If I’d done something differently,
if I’d moved on them sooner, if I’d –”
you do your best?
I thought was best, yes.”
that’s all anyone can ask of you.”
didn’t reply, just rested his forehead against
the steering wheel.
see your boys, John.”
* * *
was snoring softly as John entered the boys’ bedroom.
He figured the kid would probably snore like a freight
train by the time he was ten. Dean would probably never
over his youngest, he ran gentle fingers through his
mass of curls, softly kissing him on the forehead before
straightening. “’Night, Sammy,” he
muttered quietly, gaze lingering a little longer on
the toddler. “You have sweet dreams now.”
Dean’s voice sounded across the darkened room,
still half asleep, obviously unsure whether he was dreaming.
boy sat up, rubbing sleep out of his eyes, and as John
approached his bed he must have realized he wasn’t
dreaming and his dad really was there, because his face
lit up with an incandescent smile. “Daddy –
perched himself on the edge of Dean’s bed, running
his thumb along the boy’s cheek before pulling
him in for a hug. “Yeah, kiddo. Told you I wouldn’t
be gone long.”
pulled away a little, squinting up at him as his expression
altered slightly. “You okay, Daddy?” he
asked. “Nothing hurt you, right? The bad things?
The bad things didn’t hurt you?”
no,” John assured him, gently planting a kiss
on the top of his boy’s head. “I’m
fine, little man. Nothing for you to worry about. Now
go back to sleep.”
pulled away again, looking up into his dad’s eyes,
and John knew the boy could sense something was wrong.
drew in a breath. “Long day is all, kiddo. Long
you kill the bad thing?”
nodded. “Yeah. Sort of. I think so.”
you saved some people from the bad thing?”
considered that for a long moment, looking away from
his son and lowering his eyes. “I saved a little
girl,” he said at length. “She was the only
one I could save.”
felt a small hand clutching at his shoulder, and glanced
back up to see his boy looking at him with Mary’s
eyes. “Then it’s okay, Dad,” he said
firmly. “If you saved someone. It’s okay.”
Plano Medical Center,
baby,” Sam said slowly, a look of horror creeping
across his face. “The baby you saved. That was
couldn’t look at him as he nodded in the affirmative.
“I thought – I thought I saved her, Sam.
I thought I saved a life that night.”
swallowed, placing a gentle hand on his father’s
shoulder. “You did, Dad. You did the best you
could for her.”
looked up at him, expression pinched and eyes dark.
“My best wasn’t enough, Sammy. I thought
she was okay. I mean, a couple years later, next time
I was passing through Fort Worth, I tracked her down
to her grandparents’ house – her mom’s
parents. She – she seemed like a normal, happy
little kid. I watched her playing on their front lawn
– she was giving her dolls a tea party or some
dumb little girl thing. Laughing, singing. I –
I saw the birthmark on her shoulder. That’s how
I knew – when you were describing her…”
He trailed off, and Sam nodded.
wondered if it meant something. Like – like she’d
been marked by something – maybe one of the demons
trying to possess her.” Sam stopped. “Except,
they weren’t actually trying to possess her, were
shook his head. “I don’t know what it means,
Sam. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it.
I spoke to a couple of the neighbors. She was an ordinary
kid, they were an ordinary family. I figured she’d
dodged a bullet and was fine.” He sighed heavily,
running thick fingers through his hair and down his
beard. “But now…” He met Sam’s
questioning gaze with a look of distressed anguish that
aged his features by about twenty years, shoulders sagging
under the weight of his little portion of the world.
“Sam, I thought I was saving her but – but
I think – I think I brought something bad into
this world, Sammy. Something worse than bad. Something
demonic. A hybrid. I don’t think I exorcised that
demon. I don’t think it ever left her mother.”
caused it, Sam. I created her. The demon – it
fused with her somehow. She was what it wanted all along.
And it’s my fault. It’s my fault she hurt
you – it’s my fault she has Dean. And if
she hurts him, if she – if she…” He
trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. “Sam,
if she hurts your brother, it’ll be my fault.
It’ll be my fault and I’ll never forgive
Fort Worth, TX
don’t get it,” Dean said, squinting up at
Mia as she hovered over him, the knife still clutched
menacingly in her hand.
that happens a lot, don’t it?” Mia commented,
running the tip of the blade along his scalp as if she
were running her fingers through his hair. “Huh,
scowled at her but didn’t rise to the bait. “Why
my dad?” he demanded instead. “What’d
he ever do to you?”
face was suddenly inches from his own and he jerked
want me to tell you a story, Dean?” she breathed
into his ear, the tip of her tongue grazing his earlobe.
“Well let’s start at the end, shall
pulled away from him, straightening, fingers toying
with the blade in her hands as Dean’s eyes followed
the movement warily.
know your precious baby brother’s dead, right?”
she told him, obvious glee radiating from her voice.
somehow managed to fix her with a steely glare, barely
any emotion showing on his face even as his blood pounded
loud in his ears and the room began to swim a little
before his eyes.
smile twitched. “Pretty stoic, Dean. I’m
impressed. Not so impressed by little Sammy, though.
Those craptastic ‘powers’ of his? Wow, what
a letdown! Couldn’t even move outta the way of
that truck with I whammied him! Lemme tell ya, that
was one helluva mess he made on that guy’s windshield.
Worse than a whole swarm o’ bugs! Guy’ll
be scraping bits o’ Sammy off o’ there for
continued to gaze at her levelly, wrists straining at
the twine which continued to bite into his flesh, his
own blood making an insistent drip-drip-dripping noise
as it hit the floorboards behind him.
grin widened. “You know what I did then, baby?”
she asked, bending forward and running the tip of the
knife from his knee up along his thigh until his mask
of controlled indifference finally slipped a little.
“I left him there. All alone. To bleed to death.”
Smiling at him, she pushed the blade through the denim
of his jeans and he had to force himself not to flinch
as the tip found first skin then muscle. He sucked in
a breath and gritted his teeth, refusing to take his
eyes off her as she pulled the knife back out. “Just
a little love bite, honey,” she told him. “Nothing
compared to what I’m going to do to you. What
I did to little Sammy –”
you bitch –!” Dean hissed, and
Mia just smiled at him serenely.
little Sammy. All messed up and bloody by the side of
the road. Left him in a ditch, miles away from anywhere.
I doubt anyone’ll find his rotting, putrid corpse
for weeks –”
gonna kill you –” Dean swore menacingly,
all pretence at calm stoicism evaporating.
sure to let me know how that works out for ya,”
Mia taunted. “’Cause from where I’m
standing, I’d say the odds are pretty much on
my side, babe.” She pressed the tip of the knife
just below his eye, relishing the way his whole body
stiffened in response. “Oh, Dean,” she sighed,
running the blade down the side of his face. “Don’t
you get it? It’s you who’s going
to die here, sugar. Just like Sam. All alone. Bleeding
to death in a ditch. Your story’s gonna end just
like his, Dean. I’m only keeping you around till
Daddy shows up.”
not gonna fall for this,” Dean snapped.
’cause he’s the uber-hunter, right?”
Mia hazarded. “So very, very smart.”
smirked at her. “You bet your slutty ass he is.”
pot, kettle, Dean. Better take a good look at yourself
before you go calling anyone a slut. That’s probably
the real reason you don’t think Daddy’s
gonna come charging in on his white horse to save you,
right? ’Cause you’re not worth saving?”
Dean didn’t respond, she continued, “You
know, in hindsight, you’re probably right. Johnny
might have made more of an effort to save Sam. But he’s
not half as much fun to play with as you are, baby.
I only needed one of you after all. One down, two to
go. As soon as John gets here, you’re history.
Just like Sammy. This is where your story ends, Dean.
Right here where mine began. Poetic justice. Time for
me to get a little revenge, a little retribution.”
She bent down close to him, a hand on each of his knees
as she gazed deep into his eyes. “This is it,
Dean. This is the place where your family dies. Just
like mine. Because you know what’s gonna happen
next, Dean? I’m going to wipe the Winchesters
off the face of the earth…”
the episode here