AN: This was born when I was trying to write a flashback for another story, but the scenario didn't quite work. I couldn't keep it short enough, and my brain kept filling in more and more details. I do love writing teen / young Winchesters, and I am also enjoying writing John in a lighter way. LMK what you think. Chapter 2 is almost entirely written; not sure how long it will be. Maybe 4-5 chapters?

I don't own anything. I will own the latte I'm about to buy to jump start chapter 3, but that doesn't count.

Rated T for some violence and language. You've been warned!

John Winchester answered the phone with a hint of desperation. It was a feeling he was familiar with, but normally it was associated with revenge and a desperate need to keep his sons safe. Today, it had to do with his sons, but not in the normal way.

They were two weeks into Sam's summer break and John hadn't found anything to hunt the entire time. He was itching to leave the stupid, too-hot, too gossipy little town they'd used as a home base for the last few months of Sam's sophomore year. And if John was antsy to move on before one more bored housewife tried to seduce him or get his life story through a gift of food – well, the food was nice – Dean was even worse. And a bored Dean plus a sick of everything teenage Sam was enough to make anyone feel a bit desperate.

"Touch me again and I'll kick you in the balls so hard they'll pop out your eyeballs!" shrieked a voice that was only starting to drop.

"Try it, little Sammy!" A laugh. A crash. John winced.

"Singer?"

"Winchester." There was a question in the other hunter's voice, and John knew some of what he was feeling must have been clear in his voice. Bobby could read people better than almost anyone John had ever met, though Dean was getting there.

"You got something for me or what?"

Bobby paused, and John could nearly hear him shrug. They weren't caring/sharing types anyway. "Yeah, kinda. You ever heard of George Webb?"

"Nope." Behind John, something came flying out of an open upstairs window to thunk onto the porch roof and slide down, a sound that was accompanied by a growl and laughter. The laughter cut off abruptly and John pretended he hadn't heard anything.

"Well, not surprising, since he got out of the game 'bout 20 years ago, except for research and tracking, He ain't that old, but his rust has probably got rust." Bobby paused, probably to take a sip of his libation of choice. "But he's tracked some harpies and he's got a bee in his bonnet. Harpies are…kinda his thing."

John understood the unspoken part of the message. Every hunter had a painful reason that they hunted. Every hunter had an albatross, and Webb's was harpies. "He's goin' after them whether he's got support or not, and he's gonna die. I wouldn't ask, but he's in Oklahoma and I got nobody else anywhere close. He's a crabby old bastard, but he can't take 'em on alone." Bobby trailed off briefly. "And, Winchester, he saved my ass once. I'd hate to see him go out like that." It was as close to asking for help as the older hunter would ever get.

John considered for a second. He hated, hated relying on other hunters to watch his kids' backs, but if all three of them went, they could keep the old guy safe enough. Harpies stood four to five feet tall with a wingspan of ten to twelve feet, and were nasty, with long claws and a bad attitude, but they were fairly easy to kill. For whatever reason, bullets didn't do shit, but any old blade could hurt them and severing their brain stem or destroying their heart killed them. The danger they posed was two-fold. First, they flew, and they did it fast. It was a very different mindset to fight something that had another dimension of movement. Second, they fought in packs, intelligently. They would identify one target and attack without pause. And once they started attacking, they would never quit until they had killed everyone or they were all dead.

From inside came the sound of two bodies rolling down the stairs. After a moment, there was another crash, much louder than any of the others. "Hang on, Singer." John lowered the phone but didn't bother to cover the mouthpiece, since Bobby would hear him anyway. "IF THAT WAS THE COFFEE TABLE I'M TYING YOU BOTH TO THE BUMPER AND YOU'RE RUNNING TO OKLAHOMA!" He took a breath and brought the phone back up to his ear. "Send me everything you got and tell your buddy we'll be there tomorrow." He hung up to the sound of Bobby's laughter.

WINCHESTER * WINCHESTER

John sighed with pleasure. Both boys were sleeping in the back seat. Yes, the back seat. They had, in fact, broken the coffee table. And the bannister. And the item that had been thrown out the window was Dean's boombox, and it was unrepairable. The book Sam had been reading had taken a swim in the toilet and was possibly unsalvageable as well.

So John had put his boys to work. They had repaired the coffee table and the bannister, and pounded down every nail that wasn't perfectly flush on the porch and front steps. They had chopped enough wood for the entire next winter. They had done all of the laundry and cleaned every inch of the house. Except for breaks to eat, drink, and use the restroom, they had been hard at work until 11 pm. Then John had gotten them up at 5 am and they were on the road within half an hour.

He had banished Dean to the back seat, and the kid hadn't even argued, not interested in earning more of his dad's ire. So…peace. John looked at the boys in the rear-view mirror again. It was the observation of all parents, probably, but the boys looked so young when they slept. Hell, they were still young. Though they were 19 and 15, they were better hunters than most adults he'd hunted with. They had the instincts, the abilities. They could shoot and handle themselves in a knife or fist fight. They could track and perform first aid. They could load a gun or pick handcuffs blindfolded, read Latin, and stay cool in dangerous situations.

John took another glance. Dean was behind him, face plastered against the window and mouth just slightly open, freckles standing out more than normal in the morning light. Sam had tipped against his brother's arm like he used to do when he was small, face pitched forward so John could barely see his face. His lips were tilted up just the slightest bit as if he had a secret. Damn, he loved those boys. And sometimes, briefly, he wished they could just be boys instead of hunters. But once John knew what was out there, he was incapable of leaving them without protection.

With an ability he had practiced a great deal over the years, John put those thoughts aside and focused on what he knew about the hunt that was coming up.

Three hours later

Dean made sort of a snuffle / grunt sound and John knew his time of quiet was coming to an end in 3…2…1…

"Ugh, getoffmebitch."

Sam jerked straight up, John assumed from a brotherly shove. "Wha -- ?"

"Hey, Dad, we gonna stop for food soon?" Dean scrubbed at his face.

"It's only 9 am, so no, not until lunch. You had breakfast."

Dean groaned. "That was hours ago, Dad. And it was only, like, toast. Toast!"

Sam yawned widely. "You're such a pig, Dean."

Dean's response was too quiet for John to hear, but it must have been quite pointed, because Sam let out a growl and dove across the seat with the closest thing to a tackle he could accomplish in the back seat of a car.

John sighed and drove faster.