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
The parking lot was filled with cars, old and new, some looked as if they were ready to fall apart, while others looked as if they could be featured on a car show tomorrow.
Dean slipped out of his truck, grabbed his cap and quickly pushed his feet into his boots. He latched onto the silver amulet at the end of his key chain, finding strength in the familiar burn as the object's shape hit flesh. He gasped, struggled to control his breathing as he checked the mirror to find the reflection of the teenage boy he wanted to be, looking back at him.
Once he had shut the driver's side door, he noticed another teenager sitting on the front step, messing with a knife. The boy looked at him and, for a moment, something about him - about his scent - felt familiar. Dean pushed the sensation down and opened the front door of the establishment.
The Roadhouse fell still as soon as Dean entered the room. Most Hunters eyed him with barely hidden disgust, while others looked up as they noticed the change in tension.
"Who's that?" a distant voice asked.
"Singer's dog," came the roughly mumbled answer.
Dean ignored them as he walked up to the bar; if stares were loaded with silver, he'd have been dead a dozen times over. He’d been here before, but every other time, he’d had his father with him. Bobby Singer’s name meant a lot with these people; he hoped it meant enough to keep them from killing him now.
“Singer.” The woman behind the bar said.
Dean remembered his father calling her “Ellen”. She ran this bar, along with her husband.
Resetting his baseball cap and pulling his jacket closer around him, Dean tried to ignore the scents of gunpowder and cheap metal in the air. He was seventeen and he could do this. More than that, his father needed him to do this. “Bobby’s missing, ma’am,” he stated clearly, not daring to look her in the eye. “I… Did he tell anyone where he was going?” Had Bobby come here looking for information? Had he been on the hunt for something, or someone, he didn't want Dean to know about?
Dean knew that Bobby often tried to protect him, both from Dean’s own urges, as well as from other Hunters. Except he would never be gone this long, not without sending news along to Dean. A note, a card, a phone call, something. Anything. Bobby would never be this neglectful for long stretches of time. Dean stood unmoving as he sensed the presence of several of the hunters approaching him. He tried not to react to them, but the hairs in the back at his neck rose in alarm. Either way, he kept his hands in clear sight on the bar counter.
“What are you doing here, doggie?” One of the Hunters snarled through broken teeth, Dean caught a whiff of his breath, it was almost enough to make him puke..Willis, Dean remembered his name, Bobby had mentioned it a few times, usually during phone calls that ended up with the phone’s hook getting smashed down to end the conversation.
“Yeah, where’s your owner?” A second voice continued, coming from a younger man with slick dark hair and dressed in jeans and a leather vest as if he were trying to be James Dean. The guy would have looked pretty if not for the hateful glare in his eyes as he pushed on the brim of Dean’s cap to send it flying to the ground.
Dean had to resist the urge to growl; he knew he couldn’t do that. Not here, especially not here.
“Leave the boy alone, Willis.” Ellen requested, glaring at the men.
“Oh, come on, Ellen, you know as well as I do that this -thing- ain’t no boy.” As the man pulled out a knife and moved the flat of a silver blade over pale skin, leaving a red rash where the metal touched, Dean tried not to cringe as he heard, “It's a monster.”
“The kid’s Bobby’s, Bruce.” Ellen countered with a lift of her chin.
“And that makes it okay for it to march right in? As if it belongs? Simply be'cuz Bobby's a soft-hearted id-git who couldn't bring himself to kill the creature when he had a chance?”
Dean forced himself to count down from a thousand like Bobby had taught him. He couldn’t fight here, because he knew he would lose. If they killed him, there would be nobody left to look for Bobby.
“Singer’s a puss-i-fied, lilly-bellied monster-lover who shudda put this -thing- down years ago.”
That’s when Dean lost it.
Turning around in one swift move and shoving the man to the ground, Dean hissed, “ Never!... Insult!... My Fa-ther!” If it weren’t for years of training, he would have morphed shapes, charging forward to rip the bastard's throat out.
For a second, it didn't matter that it was him – one lowly Skinwalker against a bar full of Hunters. Just one single moment... until he felt the barrel of a gun against the back of his head. He closed his eyes, waiting for the bullet to come, begging Bobby’s forgiveness for failing him like this.
The bullet didn’t arrive; Dean could smell the rancid stench of piss as a dark stain erupted around the man’s bulge. Dean froze for a mere second, growled and pushed the idiot out of the way. He was Bobby Singer’s son and his father had taught him better than this.
The gun was never removed from the back of Dean's head as he got up and swiveled to face Ellen. “I’m not looking for trouble. Something happened to my father and I want him back.” Knowing she was probably the only one in the bar that was on his side, he knew he had to get her to help him. It was the only thing that had made him come here in the first place.
“Put down the gun, John. The kid’s right.”
The end of the gun felt cold; Dean figured he could grab the stock, moving the barrel before the bullet ran through his head. Only, it wasn’t the only gun aimed his way.
“Singer might be missing."
“And I should care about Singer, why?”
“You really oughta, John. The last time I heard from him,” she was looking directly at the man behind Dean now, not at Dean, “he was going after a Skinwalker trade ring. And that kid you’re aiming a gun at is probably your best chance at finding them.”
Dean could hear the man cock the gun, so he didn’t move. He wondered if this “John” would go searching for Bobby after killing him. “Did he say anything else?” Dean inquired on the off-chance he'd get a response.
Bobby had always been on a permanent mission to hunt down the men who took Dean – who had turned him, making him into a monster. He didn't like Dean to come along on those trips, thinking the whole thing was too dangerous for him. But if they had been the ones to take Bobby, then it was Dean’s fault, and Dean’s responsibility to get him back. After all, wasn’t that what most children would do for their fathers?
“Just think about this, Winchester, this is Singer’s son you’re about to shoot.”
Winchester? Dean’s heard that name before, when Bobby was talking to other Hunters and didn’t think Dean was listening. John Winchester was a Hunter known for two things: hunting demons and his utter hatred towards Skinwalkers.
They said the man would kill any Skinwalker he met, that he wore a necklace made out of Skinwalker teeth. That he once killed a Skinwalker that sat eating in a diner in the middle of a crowded morning and didn’t care who saw him. Dean knew for sure that that last bit was crap, no Hunter would be that stupid, but that didn’t mean the rest of it had to be.
It was a surprise to them both when the bullet didn’t come.
John barely even bothered to look at the monster as he led it outside to the Impala, “My car.” The thing dared to say.
“Leave it. Get your stuff and get in my car in two minutes. “ John didn’t bother to say what he’d do if the thing decided to be a pain about obeying. He wasn’t even sure what he’d do. He wished it wouldn’t look so much like a kid. He pointed at Sam to join them as the monster went up to the truck, opened the door and grabbed some stuff together and threw everything he could grab in one sweep in an old duffel bag. It stood next to his car mere seconds later, looking about the same age his son would have if it weren’t for a monster just like this one. John wondered if it did that on purpose, even knowing that Skinwalkers only had one shape to shift into.
John wished he knew what he was getting into; he should just kill this thing now and get its eventual death over with. But as Ellen kept saying, Bobby Singer had a lot of friends in the hunting community. There weren’t many who’s life hadn’t depended on the guy’s expertise at least once. If Singer was missing, then he should be found. And if it meant John had to put up with one piece of dog’s breath, so he could take out an entire pack of those monsters, then it’d be worth it.
Besides, there was no reason one of his silver bullets couldn’t miss its target later on and ‘accidentally’ take out Singer’s dog as well. Even if Singer might not realize it right away, John would probably be doing the old man a favor in the long run.
“Sam, I expect you to stay with Bill and Ellen for a few days.”
“This could be dangerous.”
“But you said I could go along on your next hunt. You promised.” The boy was giving him that look reminiscent of when he was four and John would refuse to stop to get him ice-cream, as if he were the worst father ever, if he didn’t give in right this second.
“Dad, you can’t expect me to stay with Aunt Ellen and Jo while you’re off all alone with that monster. Somebody needs to watch your back.” Sam seemed so damn small, yet so serious, convinced he was right and looking far wiser than any kid his age had a right to be.
John froze, because he knew Sam was right. Unable to turn his back on the Skinwalker, he’d be forced to be on constant alert. With Sam along, at least John would have an extra pair of eyes.
“Alright.” Sam jumped up in joy, fist raised in the air as John went on, “But you do as I say, and you never turn your back to the dog. Got it.”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
The Skinwalker was staring at its feet, pretending he hadn’t heard a word they said, which John flat out knew was a lie.
“I said to get in the car.”
“And my bag?”
“Drop it in the back.”
The thing was, at least, trained enough to obey, putting its bag on the back seat - next to Sam - before climbing in to ride shot gun.
John would rather have had Sam next to him, but he certainly would never let that thing sit behind him. He wouldn’t be able to keep a proper eye on it that way. “When did Singer disappear?”
The Skinwalker seemed unsure for a moment, as if it was unclear at whom the question was aimed. “Two weeks ago. Usually, he calls in every few days at the least. I tried reaching Rufus, but he was off on a hunt of his own.”
“Yeah, he watches me sometimes, when Bobby needs to be gone for a while.”
Turner was a grouchy piece of shit. But he was a good man, and a good Hunter. Rufus also wouldn’t have had a single problem taking the Skinwalker out if he thought it had killed Singer. There was always the chance that thing had killed both its owner and its sitter, but John doubted that. It didn’t seem to be that smart. If it had been, it wouldn’t have been stupid enough to show its face within miles of a Hunter’s bar.
The Skinwalker seemed to be about seventeen - eighteen at most – with dirty-blond hair streaked with wisps of light brown and a pair of deep green eyes that made John think of a happier time, before he’d lost everything years ago. The intense feeling of sorrow made him hate the thing even more.
The lanky, hunched-over frame was dressed in a t-shirt and stretch pants, loosely tied boots on his feet, a black collar around his neck, some kind of thick set of earrings in his left ear and that damn baseball cap back on its head. Anyone who didn’t know what they were dealing with, would think it was just some dumb punk kid.
“What’s up with the collar?”
“Bobby figured that if we got split up and I got caught while changed, it’d be best if people knew how to reach him. It has his contact information on it.”
Of course it did.
The Skinwalker sank backward in the seat. It wasn’t small for its years, but the thing looked too damn young just sitting there.
“Ellen said you know about this ring of Skinwalkers, so talk.”
The thing – a mere boy -, closed its eyes as if it hurt just reaching back for the memories. “They found me when I was a kid.” It started. “I was little and they took me, threw me in a room with a Skinwalker. When they came to get me out, I wasn’t human anymore.”
John let every word sink into his head. They had changed children, which probably made it easier to recruit than going after adults. It was better to think that way, reasons, motivations, anything not to feel sorry for the little boy that had been pretty much murdered and replaced by this… thing sitting next to him.
“After that, they sold me and I ended up in a mansion with four other Skinwalkers. Master liked to take us to underground fights; shifters, walkers and vamps. Whatever they got their hands on, they’d make them fight one another to give the audience a show. I was too young, but Master liked to start our training early, so we’d know what we were up against later on.“
“That’s where Singer found you?”
“Some of the others had attacked trespassers on Master’s grounds. Dad – Bobby - came to check things out. He killed the others, but he took me with him. He said I was too pathetic to kill.” There was a sense of fondness in the young Skinwalker’s voice. “Dad knew I’d never be human again, but he gave me a chance. I owe him.”
“Bobby never caught up with them. He would hear rumors, end up finding tracks in the area, but by the time he’d catch up with them, they’d have moved on.“
John wasn’t sure what he would have done, if he would’ve found the Skinwalker brat, instead of Singer. He’d have probably shot the thing before it had a chance to become a threat. Instead, Singer had chosen to raise him, from a small mongrel to the thin and lean but well muscled young man that now sat in his car. He’d have to find some chains by the time they found a place to stay. Not like he would allow it to walk around while they were sleeping, who knows what it could do to Sam. Its kind had already shown their willingness to damn children to their fate. He wouldn’t allow one of them to do that to his son as well.
Sam sat in the middle of the backseat, playing with the zipper of the Skinwalker’s bag.
John noticed that the green eyes kept throwing looks at the mirror, staring at Sam, while its fingers played with the ashtray. But one glare from John kept the thing from mouthing off.
Maybe the reason that Singer had never gotten close to the Skinwalker ring was because he’d been too obvious as a lone Hunter; an outsider clearly there only to take them down. If one entered the place with another Skinwalker in tow – especially a young pup like this one – the savage beasts might think John was one of them, letting him close enough to take them all out. It was also one more reason to keep the damn thing alive long enough to use it to get in past the door.
It would never bring his son back; Dean was gone and John had accepted that years ago, once the cops had shown him the blood covered rags that were all that was left of his once golden boy. But maybe one day, if he managed to destroy every last piece of supernatural slime that stood for everything that had taken his wife, his little boy, he might be able to let go of the pain and be the father Sam deserved.
Winchester was nuts. What did he think Dean was going to do? Attack the only people who might help him find Bobby? Dean cringed a bit as the silver chain hit skin, before trying to find a better position to curl up into the tight space in between the toilet and the shower. When they’d arrived at the motel room Dean hadn’t really expected the man to let him have one of the beds, but that didn’t mean the bastard had to chain him up in the bathroom. To be fair, the man had let him use the toilet first, and he hadn’t tied the chain directly around Dean’s neck, but had attached it to the collar surrounding his throat.
The silver still stung like hell.
“You could at least let me have a pillow!” Dean yelled at the door, not really expecting a response. He lay down on his back, trying to ignore the silver chain attached to the collar around his neck. Or the other end of it hooked to the bathroom sink. If he could get his hands on the chain for more than a few seconds he could probably get enough of a grip to pull it free; but not now. It burned just being this close to the silver.
Winchester hadn’t even left Dean any of the towels to tie around the chain. He could use the bathmat, but then he’d be lying on the cold mildewed tiles. Dean wasn’t quite that desperate. At least he could change; he managed to kick off his boots while thinking about getting rid of his pants as well. Winchester might complain, but Dean knew he’d be a lot more comfortable with a bit of fur between him and the cold than he was in human form.
Dean had no idea what the man thought he’d do if he was allowed in the living room with them. Yes, he was a monster, he realized that all too well, being kicked out of the warmth of a comfortable room hurt. He was part human after all too.
Half an hour later, the door opened again, it was the boy – Sam - Winchester’s son. The kid was holding a pillow, the damn thing was paper thin, but Dean was about ready to beg for any kind of comfort.
Dean managed to catch the pillow thrown at him in mid-flight. “Thanks.” He muttered.
The boy didn’t answer, he just kept staring at Dean.
“Take a picture.” Dean said, making himself as comfortable as he could manage, “it’ll last longer.”
“Is it weird?” the kid asked.
“Is what weird?”
“Being a monster?”
Dean thought about the question. “I don’t know. I don’t remember being anything else.” Which wasn’t quite true. He had the occasional flash of a kind woman singing to him, or being scared of something hot and sometimes - quite often- he remembered something being pushed into his arms and being told to run. But those were mere flashes - there one second, gone the next.
“You told dad they turned you when you were a kid. How old were you?”
Dean tried to remember. “I don’t know. I was little, younger than when Bobby found me.”
“Why would they turn a kid?”
Dean sat up and looked at the boy, a pretty kid, dark brown hair, innocent. “You don’t want to know,” he whispered, because he sure wished he didn’t know a thing.
Memories were a hard master to serve, and Dean knew that if he tried to remember the past, he’d have to remember the time before Bobby as well. And that way lay all the shades and nightmares he didn’t really want to think about, hands going places they shouldn’t, being told to sit, or lay, …
“Master wanted a pup he could train. See, the older the dogs, the more bad habits they come in with, the younger the pup, the less work an owner has to do to train you up right. “
And the more things Dean had to unlearn after Bobby took him in, like finding out he had the right to refuse, like knowing that certain things - certain touches - were wrong and no matter how angry Bobby might get, Dean would never, ever have to let his new master lay hands on him to make Bobby happy. Those lessons had been the hardest of any of those Bobby had to teach him.
“But what about school?”
Dean grinned at that. The kid couldn’t be that stupid, could he? Even Bobby knew better than to send a monster off to school, especially after the time a Hunter had been bugging him and Dean almost killed the bastard for grabbing his tail one time too many. After that incident, Bobby had locked him up in the shed, leaving him for a night, before sitting him down to talk. He hadn’t said a word in the first half hour, just looked at Dean with pain in his eyes.
Disappointed, and Dean knew he’d let his father down, knew that his father might have to kill him. And it would be his fault for making him do it.
It didn’t matter that Walter had been after him for hours ever since he had caught Dean in the middle of a change, while Bobby was working on his case for him. It didn’t matter that Dean kept being pestered , teased with a silver chain and promises of what would be done to him if Dean wasn’t a very, very good dog. All that had mattered was that Dean had nearly killed a human being because he couldn’t control himself.
Dean had begged Bobby then, telling him he’d do better, promising he’d be better and for Bobby to please forgive him. And Bobby had, telling him it wasn’t his fault. But Dean knew it was. He hadn’t been good enough and Bobby lost a friend because of it.
After that, everyone knew Bobby had a Skinwalker running around his house. It didn’t matter that no one ever saw him change again, all that mattered was that Walter had spread the news. And it had killed Bobby, how many people looked down on him after that. All because of Dean.
So no, Dean hadn’t been to school. How could he, if on any given day, a kid might push him an inch too far and end up bitten because of it. He could read and write, speak several languages and do math, anything Bobby could find to teach him. But school, that was for human kids, not for monsters like Dean. If there was one thing Dean understood, it was that.
He huffed at the thought of Bobby finding out he called himself a monster, Bobby hated it when he did that, he always told Dean that he might be a freak, but he didn’t have to be a monster. Dean didn’t see the difference.
“School is for humans, not for mongrels like me.” Dean answered before turning away. He had to try and sleep, find some way to make himself useful, find his dad. It was all that mattered in the long run.
“We’re going out for food later. Do you want me to bring you something?” the kid asked. Dean had known the boy was still there. The scent had been a dead giveaway, but he’d tried to ignore it.
The kid finally left after that.
Dean had tried not to listen to the conversation in the other room, had tried to ignore the crackle of the television as two half heard male voices argued about cards. He could hear the scratching of pen on paper. He realized he hadn’t paid enough attention when the main door opened and for a moment he could hear outside sounds like cars coming from the freeway or a lone bird marking its territory. He was happy he was starting to recognize the sound of the Winchester’s engine when it set out to leave. Dean managed to fall asleep, for a while, haunted by dreams of chasing cats that turned into monsters and a blond woman singing “Hey Jude” as she burned. He did wake, hearing keys hit the door and sat up, wondering how he missed the Winchester’s car coming back. Dean found himself struck by an unfamiliar scent; a woman, probably a maid. The stench of citron mixing with vinegar, made his eyes tear up, he wished he couldn’t smell the day old bread on her cart as it screeched when she pulled it into the room.
Dean could hear her cheerful voice, she didn’t seem to wait for an answer, before he could hear her shuffle around. He couldn’t let her see him. Much as he had and still did hate the chain, the fact was that he needed John Winchester. If this woman screamed, calling attention to them - hell if she called the cops - he’d lose what last bit of help he had found. Dean managed to push off his pants and turn right before the light hit the room as she opened the bathroom door.
Dean pushed his paws across his eyes against the sudden brightness, growling softly at the intrusion.
The woman simply froze. “Oh my god!” And here came the screams. “You’re adorable!”
Uhm. Rottweiler, full-grown one, thank you.
Dean knew he was a vicious yard dog, not an adorable lapdog. He had outgrown that stage, right?
“Did your owners leave you all alone, you poor dog. “ She was petting his head, while she checked the tag on his collar before he could make even the slightest move of alarm. Was this woman brain-dead or something? He was a strange big dog, with huge teeth, didn’t she realize she was playing with her life?
“Singer, is that your name?”
Dean lifted his head in response, she seemed to take it as an answer.
“Please tell me they at least left you something to drink?” She left the bathroom after that, leaving him to sigh in relief, only to come back with a plastic bucket from her cart that she quickly held under the shower head. Cleaning it out, before she filled it with water and placing it in front of him.
Dean hadn’t even realized how thirsty he was before she did it. When she started rubbing his belly as well, her hands pushing over and under his shirt, he suddenly had a new all time favorite human. Yes, there, just there… his mind kept saying as he rolled on his back to make it easier for her.
“Who’s adorable? … yes, you are - yes you are.”
And Dean forgot everything for a second, forgot he wasn’t really a dog and simply enjoyed the sensation. So much so, that he missed it when the Winchesters’ Impala arrived and both father and son entered the room.
When he did notice Winchester’s glare Dean quickly pulled away from the woman as far as the chain would let him. Which admittedly wasn’t far, but hey, he was trying.
“What are you doing here?”
“Maid services,” the woman said. “No one was in here, but I noticed that poor Singer here didn’t have any water, so I thought I’d give him some before I continued my work.
“Thanks, now get out!”
The woman didn’t let the man out-glare her though. She might have been tiny in comparison to Winchester, but underneath her gray hair and hunched back there was apparently a spine of iron.
“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. “
“I’m sorry ma’am, Dad told me to do so, but I forgot.” Sam quickly spit out, looking embarrassed as any teenager should when he forgot to fulfill an important task.
“Pets are a huge responsibility, young man. You wouldn’t want your dog to get sick, now would you?”
She left, still untouched by John Winchester’s anger, pushing a pair of towels in his way. “Have a nice day, sir.”
Dean waited for the door to shut before he immediately changed back, still half naked.
Nudity had stopped bothering him long before he ever met Bobby Singer. “What? It’s not like I could let her find me chained up like that if I were human, now could I?” He wasn’t even expecting a response as he turned towards Sam. “So did you get me something?” The kid threw him a burger and Dean barely managed to force himself to stop and remove the wrapper before he bit in.
Dean still felt warm and cozy after the earlier belly rubs; he took one last sip of water from the bucket before turning his eyes back to John who was clearly trying to pull himself together. He wondered why he hadn’t been screamed at yet; it would feel more like being on safe ground if Winchester just let go of the rage.
“Get your pants back on,” the man growled out before unchaining Dean. Dean licked his lips and obeyed. Humans, he’d never fully understand them.