Fic title: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself
Author name: liliaeth
Artist name: spn_2008
Word count: 25168
Betas: Much thanks to creepylicious and Mary Laws
Warnings: mentions of child abuse, both sexual as physical, trade in children, non graphic depictions and mentions of adults raping children, non graphic flashback to the rape, abuse and dehumanization of a child
Summary: Shortly after John Winchester lost his wife to demons, he lost his oldest son to a Skinwalker. Now, twelve years later, he's hunted down every single Skinwalker he could find and killed them, unaware that his oldest is still alive. That the monster that took his child hadn't taken his life, just his humanity. That she'd turned his child on the command of a human slave ring that traded in Skinwalker children. Dean ended up saved and raised by the Hunter Bobby Singer, but what's a young pup to do when his foster father goes missing and the only one who can help him find him, is a Hunter who despises his kind and would kill him on the spot?
This is the second story in my Skinwalker Dean series. The prequel can be found here
Masterpost Art: Can be found here and is made by the far more awesome than I deserve spn_2008
Masterpost Fic: http://liliaeth.livejournal.com/400286.html
Carter Willis sat down in his car, glaring at the front mirror. He hated waiting, he especially hated waiting when it wouldn’t end with him being able to shoot something. But he also knew that he wasn’t the type of guy women liked to talk to. For some reason they always seemed to start looking for doors and ways out when he came near them. Not that he cared what women, or anyone else, thought of him, because he wasn’t some “sissy”, dressing up in froofy outfits to impress a chick who wouldn’t know a good man when she saw one. If they couldn’t take them as he was, then to hell with the lot of them.
Bruce on the other hand, had to throw them a smile and he had them eating out of his hand. If it wasn’t so damn useful, it’d be revolting.
Willis started rolling up something to smoke, just as Bruce got out of the gas station shop. The kid came up to him, rolling one of those new agey anti-cancer sticks, that made Willis scratch his head in confusion.
“Well?” Bruce looked at him in expectation.
“Winchester passed here, all right. The old turd still had the ‘walker with him.” Willis answered, talking to the old man sitting in the shadow next to the shop had told him that much.
“Damn. Surprised he hasn’t killed the little shit yet.”
Willis had to agree on that. Winchester was a cold son of a bitch, showed little or no mercy for anything. It was something Willis could respect the man for, if Winchester hadn’t stolen the dog right from under his hands. It stuck in his craw, that did. Seeing the Skinwalker ride off with the likes of Winchester after the way the thing had humiliated him in front of everyone that mattered.
“It’s not like the thing’s going to live much longer Willis. Not with Winchester on the job.”
And Willis got that. Winchester wasn’t like Singer, he wouldn’t let the dog run loose. Once it served its purpose, it’d go the way like all the rest of its kind.
And that’d be a darn shame.
It wasn’t that Willis wasn’t pissed off at the thing, and he sure as hell wanted to kick the shit out of the ‘walker when he found it. But that didn’t mean he wanted the dog dead. In fact, seeing the Skinwalker stand up for its owner like that, only made him want it more than he had before.
Willis was close to sixty years old, yet he couldn't remember a time that he'd been without a dog for more than a few months. Ever since he was a kid up in the hills, most of his life had been spent around thugs, on four as well as two feet. But taking a dog out on a hunt was risky. They worked well when a man went up against a monster, up to a point. Except, there was only so much they could tell you. Only so much they could do for their master. And they died so quickly.
Willis was just so sick and tired of seeing his dogs die on him, at times it seemed like they were the only thing in the world that gave a damn about him.
And then he found out about Singer and his dog.
Singer had raised a Skinwalker , a dog that could back him up in a fight and could then go and get his owner a drink at the bar when needed. A dog that could only be killed with silver. And Willis had to admit he’d wanted one of his own since he first saw Singer bring the young ‘walker into the bar two years ago. He’d seen the loyalty the critter showed to Singer, the way it looked to its master for answers before taking a step out of line. Willis had thought about finding a Skinwalker of his own, but most of them were wild, more eager to go for your throat than to let you put a leash on them. Fucking shame that Singer wouldn’t even consider selling his pet.
“That dog ain’t gonna listen to ya, Willis,” Bruce had told him then.
Willis didn’t care. If an old coot like Singer could get that dog to follow his orders, then there was no way that any son of Old Man Willis wouldn’t be able to do the same.
“So what’s the plan?”
“We follow them, see what Winchester’s planning, and then get him to hand the dog over to me when he’s through with it. “
“You think he would?”
Willis could hear the scorn in little Brucie’s voice - still thinking he knew better. “No reason he shouldn’t. It’s not like he’s attached to the thing like Singer was.” And what was up with that anyway?
“Aaaall right,” Bruce said, clearly not all right with any of it. But it didn’t matter.
They’d meet up with the Winchesters tomorrow, see if they could help out with that Skinwalker ring Winchester was so worried about. And then when Willis had the chance, he would simply jump in and get himself a new dog. He could hardly wait.
His father was worried. But then, when wasn’t his father worried?
In between the constant check in calls while Dad was on a hunt, or the demands to know where he’d be when, whenever the man 'was' in town, Sam couldn’t help but struggle against his father’s motherhenning.Sam loved his dad, he really did, and he knew the man loved him and just wanted to keep him safe. But sometimes it left him so smothered that he wanted to do nothing more than run away and be rid of it, for a few days at least.
Sam stretched out on the bed, he felt … uneasy. He shouldn’t even think about the Skinwalker locked up in the bathroom, but he couldn’t help the sense of guilt crawling up on him as he sank down on the way too soft mattress. It was like an itch that just wouldn’t stop bugging him until he grabbed the pillow from his bed and marched up to the bathroom. Dad looked up from his journal and rolled his eyes, but Sam couldn’t stop himself. Yep like those mosquito bites, that you knew you should stay the hell away from, but God, they drove you out of your mind, until you finally gave in and let go.
And like with the bites, afterwards, when he closed the door and sat back down, he knew he shouldn’t have done it. It had been one thing to tell his father he needed someone to watch his back, but quite another to think of the gun in the short of his back, and having to use it on the boy who seemed only a few years older than him. It was miles away from helping his dad with a ghost –they were already dead to begin with – or to watch the perimeter while his father went after Wendigos.
But the Skinwalker looked so … normal - human even. There wasn’t anything about him that screamed “monster” at Sam. Even when they’d gone after that werewolf two years ago, it had been attacking them and grabbing for his gun to defend his father had seemed like the natural thing to do - the right thing. It was a whole other thing, looking at a chained up kid, and thinking of having to kill him, murder him.
Sam tried to distract himself with television, but he was almost happy when his father took them out for food.
Anything to get away from the room and the creature locked up there.
“Is something wrong, Sam?”
Sam hadn’t even realized how silent he’d been until the words were spoken. He shook his head and concentrated on his food. “It’s just weird,” he finally said, five minutes later. “I know he’s a monster, but… it feels like we’re the bad guys, locking him up like that. All he wants to do is find his dad.”
His father grabbed a napkin and wiped off some of the sauce that had gotten stuck on his chin.
“It’s not too late to go back to Ellen, Sam. I won’t think any less of you, if you can’t handle this.”
Great. The ‘understanding dad’-speech, including the look. As if Sam was too immature to do the job, or too naive to be trusted. Combined with that longing look that his father tended to get every time he fled back into the past to think of how better things could have been. As if he just knew that if his oldest son hadn’t died, “he” would have been able to handle any situation they might have gotten into. “He” wouldn’t have been too weak to do the right thing and back up his father when needed.
Sometimes Sam hated his older brother, the one his father refused to talk about, the one that still ruled most of their life even though he’d died over a decade ago, long before Sam was even able to talk. How could he ever hope to compete with the ghost of John’s perfect son? The one that had looked after Sam, when John hadn’t been able to do so. The one that pulled Sam out of a burning house when Sam had been no more than a baby. The one that smiled so nicely at his mother, giving the best hugs and that got peanut butter and crusts cut off of his toasts.
Everything that John had a hard time reminding himself to do for Sam, and that he sometimes wished he could go back to.
And then Sam would hate himself for being jealous of this boy, whose name dad couldn’t even say without breaking down half way and tearing up, because his older brother was dead and gone. And Sam wasn’t. It was difficult to remember that at times.
“I’ll be fine, dad. I just have to keep remembering he isn’t human."
“Sam, you can’t trust that thing, or turn your back on it. I know it’s tough to imagine, but it really isn’t human. Monsters like that thing, killed your brother. Singer might think it’s tamed, but it isn’t – an animal can be trained, Skinwalkers may look like animals, but they aren’t. In the end it’ll show its true colors and try to kill people. It might even think it’s doing it to protect Singer, that it just wants to look after its master, while really it just wants the feel of flesh beneath his teeth. Because that’s what things like that do, they pretend to be harmless, sometimes even to themselves, they hide out as dogs so that people let them get close, and then they attack. They can’t stop themselves, it’s their nature.” Dad put down his knife. “It’s not like with werewolves. There’s not a human and a monster in there; that thing’s all monster, all the time. It might be behaving right now, but that won’t last. The best thing we can do for the boy the Skinwalker used to be, is to kill it before it gets blood on its fangs. That is the only kind of mercy we can afford.”
Sam nodded, it's not like he hadn't heard the same thing before, and continued munching on his salad, picking through the lettuce until he’d gotten all the carrots out.
“I just don’t get why they’d turn a kid? It’s not like a kid could be a threat to anyone.”
“I’m guessing you asked it this question already?”
“He said I wouldn’t want to know.”
His father looked away after that. “He might be right. Some things, Sam, are beyond evil. “
“Like getting sold?”
“Far as I can see, these Skinwalkers figured that the easiest way to get their kind spread out and into people’s homes, was to use people’s desires against them. Get them to think they’re in control. All the while those monsters get new recruits served to them on a silver platter. The kids learn to hate humans while they’re with these “masters” and then once they’re old enough, and their owners lower their guards, they kill the master and move on to the next home.”
“Oh.” That wasn’t how Sam had imagined it, but then he wasn’t his father and Dad knew a lot more about these kind of things than Sam did.
"Save your pity for the kids that are kidnapped by those monsters, Sam. They’re the only innocents in this mess."
By the time they got back to the motel, Sam was holding the extra burger that his father had ordered for the Skinwalker. He had startled, having to stop himself from running when he noticed the door to their motel room was open. Oh shit, housekeeping. Both Sam and his father had forgotten to put the “do not disturb” sign on the door.
Sam was standing right behind his father when they saw the woman in a maid’s uniform sat next to a dog. The Skinwalker looked just like the kind of dog Sam used to want to have when he was a kid -big ears, and what might have passed for a smile if the face were human, with a short stubby tail wagging between its hind legs.
It was still wearing the Skinwalker’s shirt; A chain hooked to the collar was still attached to the sink.
“What are you doing here?” His father demanded.
Sam stood back for a moment, thinking about grabbing his gun, before the Skinwalker could put its teeth in the woman’s throat. She was so close to the dog, that Sam expected her to be killed any second now.
“Maid service,” the woman said, turning to them with a look of disapproval. “No one was in here, but I noticed that poor Singer here didn’t have any water. I thought I’d give him some before I continued my work. “
Singer? Where--? Then Sam remembered the tag; it probably had Bobby Singer’s last name on it. It was as good a name as any for the Skinwalker. In fact, it was almost easier to think of him like that.
“Thanks, now get out!” His father didn’t seem to care much about names or manners. He just wanted the woman out, before she was at risk of becoming Singer’s next meal. Not that she seemed to have a single clue to the danger she had been in.
The maid was an older woman, about his father’s age, maybe slightly older - late forties, early fifties - with a gigantic mole on her left cheek. It was weird to be fixated on that as she faced off with his father. “You do realize that it’s midsummer, don’t you, sir? And leaving an animal in this heat, without at least a bowl of water, could be considered animal abuse? “
And that’s when it hit Sam, the gigantic bullet they’d just dodged. If that woman had come in, and found a kid sitting there, chained up, the way - the dog was now - she wouldn’t have bothered waiting for them to get back. She’d probably have called the cops on them already. So he did the only thing he could do, stepping in before his father got them into even more trouble. “I’m sorry, ma’am, Dad told me to do so, but I forgot.” Better for Sam to take the blame, to be seen as the careless teen who needed to be taught a lesson.
“Pets are a huge responsibility, young man. You wouldn’t want your dog to get sick, now would you?”
Looking at the dog, pushing away from them all, Sam could almost think it really was a dog. Just a helpless creature that he’d abandoned without a second thought, it was enough to make him blush in shame.“No ma’am.”
She left, still untouched by the eldest Winchester’s anger, pushing a pair of towels in his way. “Have a nice day, sir.”
Singer waited just long enough for the woman to leave before his skin started rippling. Sam had to hold in his lunch at the sight, hearing bones snap and skin rustle over tightening muscles. Sam couldn’t help but wonder if it hurt the Skinwalker to do so. The way it had to stretch intestines, handling the transformation between the two shapes and how it all worked.
“What? It’s not like I could let her find me chained up like that if I were human. Now could I?”
Sam wondered why the Skinwalker had even cared enough about what happened to them. But then if it really wanted to find Bobby Singer, it probably felt every bit of help was needed. Probably even more so than Dad needed the Skinwalker.
Singer didn’t even bother waiting for a response from Dad, turning to Sam instead. “So, did you get me something?”
It was only then that Sam noticed the boy was sitting there still half naked. He quickly threw him the burger and took a step back, getting out of the room as quick as possible. He heard Dad mention something to Singer about getting his pants back on, but Sam was too busy trying to erase the image of the dog turning into a boy. Inhuman, monster … the words seemed so trite at first thought. But they were real, weren’t they?
Singer wasn’t human. He might walk amongst them, for now, but he wasn’t one of them. And he never would be.
Sam fought the urge to shake, the desire to ask his father if he could just call Uncle Bill and get him to come pick him up. But he couldn’t do that. Not now, not to his father, not now that he knew exactly what they were dealing with. Seeing those jaws bite into what was left of the hamburger, Sam couldn’t help the shiver at the thought of imagining those same teeth biting into the poor woman that had just left.
But damn, Singer looked adorable as a dog. It almost made Sam wish he had taken a picture.
Bobby listened for sounds while he tried to free himself from his cuffs. The damn pin he’d been using had broken off, leaving him with a half messed up lock that was even harder to work on than before.
He wasn’t even sure when or how the bastards had managed to grab him. One moment he’d been walking out of a bar after asking questions about a guy he’d spotted last time he’d been looking around. And the next he’d woken up in total darkness.
The room was dark, wet, smelled like someone dug up a grave and didn’t bother to cover it back up. Which didn’t really soothe his nerves, thanks for asking. His hands were chained behind his back and he had a hard time even sitting up on his knees, trying to get up.
The Hunter had to give up on trying to find anything to free himself when he started losing the feeling in his wrists.
He blinked when the door shrieked as it opened and light flooded the room. It blinded him and froze him for a moment while several men came in and grabbed hold of him before releasing his chains. He struggled, he even got in a few good kicks, but none of it mattered, their grip was too tight and soon he found himself dragged along on up the stairs.
He was forced on a chair, with his hands pulled painfully behind his back. He stared up at the people surrounding him. Six men, two women, dressed in hoodies and sweat shirts and in one of the girl’s cases, a tight black dress that showed off every curve of her body. They all had one thing in common, they all smelled of dog.
It wasn’t that noticeable, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d probably miss it. But Bobby had spent too much time with Dean not to know exactly what it meant. Skinwalkers, six of them, and that meant he was in deep deep shit.
One of them reached over to him, smelling his breath, Bobby felt he owed Dean an apology, at least the boy understood about brushing his teeth. “Where’s the boy?!” The man whispered in a craggy voice. Bobby kept his mouth shut, he’d die before betraying the boy to these things.
The Skinwalker hit him in the face, knocking him backwards. “Don’t lie, human. I can smell him all over you.”
All right, that was the last time he let Dean borrow any of his clothes. But with the boy’s latest growth spurts, letting him use his own stuff at times had only seemed convenient.
“Oh come on.” Bobby muttered. He was hit again, this time he fell to the floor, one of the women leaned over him, pulling him up by his shirt.
“The boy, where is he?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Sharp nails cut into his cheek. “Where ..is … the… boy.” She said, dragging out every word.
“I don’t…” She kicked him back, chair and all until he hit the wall.
Bobby was dazed for a second, but didn’t flinch as two of the Skinwalkers changed to their dog form while the others surrounded him; the same question, over and over, but he couldn’t answer, he had to protect Dean.
Questions, a rapid fire of them, kept streaming out of his lips while the monster in front of him just withstood them. He didn’t get angry, didn’t rage, didn’t even try to attack. He just listened and answered. It only pissed John off more. In the end, all he got out of it was the name of a bar. And the worst part of it was that the thing in front of him hadn’t even been trying to fight him.
John had wanted the Skinwalker to be lying, to say something, anything that would go in against whatever crap it had been telling to make Sam feel sorry for it earlier. But even that hadn’t worked. Instead he had to fight the urge not to feel sorry for a young boy taken from his family and turned into a monster. The only way he kept away the sense of pity, was by separating the boy that had been and the creature that now sat on the bed in front of them.
“This bar you mentioned, would it still be in use?”
Singer’s dog had said that the dogfights tended to change locations, but bars, like the one mentioned, stayed in use to guide participants to the arenas of the month.
“Probably, I’m not sure. But even if it isn’t, someone there might tell us where to go next, right?”
For a moment, John wondered if the dog was looking for approval.
John turned around, away from the boy and looking at his son who was sitting at the desk behind him. Sam had been quiet throughout the interrogation, it almost made John wonder if he was sick. It wasn’t like his son not to have an opinion.
“So when are we leaving?” Sam finally asked.
John closed his eyes, “’We’ are heading for the bar this evening, ‘you’, are staying at the motel.” He raised his hand before Sam could interrupt. “I need you to call Bill and Ellen if something goes wrong and I don’t get back on time.”
It looked like the dog wanted to say something as well, but stopped himself as soon as John glared at him. After that it got up and went to the bathroom.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” John growled at it.
“I figured you’d want to lock me back up again?”
“And let you out of my sight?” John hissed in response.
The dog raised his hands in defense, but kept quiet.
It didn’t meet John’s eyes, looked away when John glared at it. And John couldn’t help notice the stains on the boy’s shirt. Dark red brown, flushed out, but still there. Sauce, ketchup, anything could be the reason for it. But all John could think of was a shred of a t-shirt the cops had given him years ago. A child’s t-shirt stained in red and browns, torn to pieces.
“I’m sorry, sir” The cops had said as he held the fabric in his hands and they told him his son was gone. “I’m sorry, sir.” They told him when they couldn’t find the dog that did it. “I’m sorry, sir, you can’t be there.” As he’d broken into the house where they found the shirt and had found the first trace of the thing that took his boy.
“I’m sorry.” The dog said and he slapped it in the face, forcing it to the floor. John didn’t even care what the thing was apologizing for.
“Dad!” Sam’s voice sat in the background as he stared at the Skinwalker and wondered why he let it live, why he didn’t just kill it already and got it over with.
The monster crawled up. Its head bowed down.
And John closed his eyes, ‘this isn’t the thing that killed Dean’, he reminded himself, making it a mantra in his head. He knew he should apologize, knew he should say something, knew he shouldn’t have hit it, it hadn’t done anything to deserve it. But he couldn’t make the words come out, instead he made a quick command.
“Get on the bed and sleep, we’re leaving in four hours.” And then he turned away and got back to his journal. Anything not to have to look at the monster’s human form, and see it shaking in fear. It was just a monster, just a thing,
He tried to ignore his son moving up to the bed and whispering to the dog, asking it if it was ok, worried for its sake. God, what was happening to him? He had to get a grip on himself. “This isn’t the Skinwalker that killed my son.” He whispered to himself, knowing that Sam hadn’t heard him, but the Skinwalker had. And it looked at him with pity.