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>> The Visitor

TITLE: The Visitor.
AUTHOR:[livejournal.com profile] ultraviolet9a
SPOILER: Not really. Up to 4.03 and generic stuff for later.
GENRE: Gen
CHARACTERS: John Winchester centric thing, with reference to other characters throughout the seasons (and pre-season).
SUMMARY: Uhm. It will all make sense in the end. Or so I hope.
RATING: PG13 for potty-mouth.
FEEDBACK: Dude…duh.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t own, no profit, don’t sue.
NOTE: for [livejournal.com profile] animotus, muse-magnet extraordinaire.
BETA: by shiny [livejournal.com profile] may7fic



The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.
-Tennessee Williams





On the night of his twentieth birthday, John Winchester is still in Vietnam. He shares piss-smelling shots with Jim and cracks dirty jokes with Deacon. They smoke cigarettes, drag after drag, snuffs moving like fireflies in the dark. John looks at his companions, then the night sky, wondering what the future holds.

Turns out the future holds a lot. It holds getting back home in one piece, carrying medals and the burning desire to make something of his life. A black Impala he’ll love once he drives her. A blonde girl named Mary he’ll fall for so deep he’ll never see daylight again. It holds a wedding and two births. A fire and everything avalanching after that.

But that comes after. What the future holds right after the night John turns twenty star-gazing are bullets; the world fading into blood as Deacon carries him back to the chopper, telling him not to fucking dare die on him, don’t you fucking dare, John or I’ll kill you myself. It holds the shrapnel scar that will run alongside his face for the rest of his life; Jim Murphy sitting beside comatose him, thanking him for saving his life, but why’d you have to take those bullets for me, you idiot? folded hands, praying to God and for the first time believing the words.

John can see all that. Sees his wounded body, closed eyes, nurses. Jim praying and Deacon waiting, waiting for him to wake up. Can hear himself speaking but neither Jim nor Deacon hear his confused frustration and the fear that starts building up, as he stands next to his own broken body.

He can see his hand go through it as if he’s made of smoke and realizes that this is not a dream. Not exactly.

That’s when he first sees the stranger.

.:::.

The stranger is sitting opposite him and John knows he’s looking at him, not the body on the bed. John grows still.

He’s not a religious man, but so far he kind of understands what’s been going on. How he got hurt covering Jim, how he bled out till the doctors got to him, how somehow he is having what he will later in his life call an out-of-body experience. It makes some sort of sense to him, this realization that the shit hit the fan and he’s dying. Can’t return, can’t touch his real self. It dawns on him that his birthday has been only a day ago and he doesn’t really want to die. And nobody can hear him.

The man is still looking at him with luminous eyes and John can do nothing but stand there, till he remembers to speak.

“Who are you?” he says. Jim walks out of the room and even though John’s sure that Jim can’t see the stranger, Jim takes one step to the right and avoids walking through him.

“What are you?” he asks again, and the stranger makes a sound deep in his throat, before speaking.

“Just a visitor,” he says kindly.

“Mind telling me what’s going on?” John asks. It feels surreal, but nothing is exactly sane and he can’t waste any time. “Are you dying? Like me?”

“No, John. Everything will be alright.” The voice is eerily familiar; it fills him with calm, a certainty that nothing can go wrong, and at the same time confusion, as if he should have realized something essential by now.

The stranger glides towards him, stretches out his hand to John’s forehead; the palm connects solidly on skin and John finds himself being moved by two forces in the same direction: pushed by the stranger’s hand and sucked back into his own body.

“What…” he starts saying, already protesting by instinct.

“Never one to go gentle, huh?” the stranger sighs, palm harder against John’s forehead, and suddenly John feels cut in two like an amoeba; he looks at himself lying on the bed and at the same time feels like he’s the one lying down doing the upward looking. It makes him want to throw up, but all he can do is blink till his perspective becomes one again. He hears his vitals screaming, sees the nurses starting to run towards him, feels the room around him spin.

Just before he passes out, he thinks he hears that voice speak again, say something like fight the good fight, John and keep the faith.

Darkness.

.:::.

After he’s had his neck snapped, there is no confusion. John knows he has died. He feels his soul dragged upwards towards something resembling peace. For a short moment John remembers what he saw the first time he almost died, the flash of life passing before his eyes, the transition from harsh light and breathing to darkness, then to warm and safe. And then, eerily familiar, a feeling of being torn back down again to his body.

Just before he opens his eyes to watch a crying Mary holding him, he recalls everything in perfect clarity: the warmth of his mother’s skin, memories of a birth he shouldn’t remember, and in that memory is the feel, the concept of what life is about. When he opens his eyes, for just the tiniest fragment of time he thinks he sees someone like a ghost hovering near them, a stranger he somehow should know. But John takes his first breath (again) and mercifully the vision is gone. The memory is gone. All memories.

“You passed out,” Mary says. “You passed out, John, that’s all.”

.:::.

After the fire, death becomes a constant companion. John won’t remember dying and coming back, but his mind will hiccup the vision of a strange man whenever he is deeply wounded. He’ll think of his sons and of the good fight, and even as the memory fades because his body’s healing, it’s a comfort. He tries to hold on to the memory, latches on to it every time death brushes him till the feeling of it makes him safe.

Sometimes the world comes tumbling down, falling apart, avalanching, mud sliding, choking him and it’s just John on the hunt, always on the hunt, senses tingling. And then sometimes… sometimes he doesn’t feel alone anymore, sometimes he thinks he still catches glimpses of something with a luminous gaze, but he’s too high on adrenaline, and the EMF meter shows nothing, and there can be nothing anyway, or so he tells himself.

But when John’s holding Bill Harvelle as he’s dying, Bill’s eyes are locked both on him and somewhere beyond, and John’s name comes out in bloody gurgles. And despite the adrenaline and the pain and the mourning, John feels watched again.

He knows it can’t be Mary watching over him. He knows how the world works, in most its layers. So he clenches his teeth and moves on, because that is how John Winchester works, too.

.:::.

Dean’s pleading and John doesn’t have control of his body and that sonofabitch that took Mary dares take John’s body, dares let him watch as it shreds John’s sons to pieces and John’s helpless, helpless, doesn’t have the right controls to command what is his, doesn’t have enough anger, enough despair, enough love or adrenaline to kick this fucking parasite out of him… until he does.

It’s the same strange feeling again of having an ally, the same eerie sensation of having his body invaded, but this time it’s not a hostile invasion, this time it’s a stealthy sleek one that starts melding with him, starts working with him, starts wriggling and protesting till the demon lays subdued even if only for seconds.

Seconds is all John can give, and they are enough. When he gets back, in full possession of his body, he can’t exactly remember how he did it, just that he did.

It is enough. There is a war going on, and they are still alive.

There is no time to wonder.

.:::.

When he dies for good, when Azazel pushes his body into Hell, when John is tormented through what feels like eternity, the stranger shows up once more. He touches John again, and this time the touch jumpstarts memories John had thought lost to Hell: the tobacco his daddy smelt like, his grandpa’s arthritic fingers caressing his scalp and the feel of corn around his house, the sound of a hummingbird in the summer, the feel of Dean in his arms, the feel of Sam, the scent of Mary; memories that shaped who he was, who he is, that force him to follow crawling the way the stranger is leading him.

There is no time to marvel, because death and freedom from torture and Hell have given John the clarity that all living beings lack, but he can’t afford questions: all he can do is make each second count, all he can do is give his boys another chance. And they take it. Oh, they take it and John watches the bullet fly, watches with fierce joy as it hits home.

And for a moment, just that moment, there is nothing but peace. Nothing but closure.

.:::.

He wants to talk to them, wants to tell his sons about love and how proud he is, but there is no time for words, just for a smile. Because the stranger is standing across him, beckoning him, and John knows him, has known him all along.

“How?” he asks, as he is pushed, pulled, dragged upwards, travelling through light, that strange sense of duality there again. “How?”

“Time is irrelevant and angels can bend it. And I was given grace,” his self says, and both are flying closer and closer, touching, and the touch feels like sinking into sand and wind and memories. “I was given grace because it was the only way to soothe my anger,” and now the voice seems to come from his own throat too, “I was given grace because I earned it. I was given grace the minute I led me here,” John says pulling his own self upwards towards the light, travelling higher and higher, both selves already melding together.

“What about Dean and Sam?” John says and his voice comes in Dolby surround, and he watches luminous eyes that are his own looking at him. “What about my sons?”

“My sons will find their own miracle,” himself says, keeping the faith, fighting the good fight, soaring into the sky, merging into one, grace and John and peace and unity, “I’ve already got someone to take care of them.”

One bright light into the sky.



-The End.



When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

-Mary Oliver (When Death Comes)



I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.
-Carl Jung




SIDENOTE: This had started as a different concept, which involved… never mind, that might turn into a different fic. Anyway, the seed was planted about two years ago I think, and I got to finish it now. I know, I know. Turtle. Still, faster than Penelope.

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