A Father's Pride and Joy

By: KaitlynRose

Author's Note: This is my take on just what's up with Dad. Takes place after Hookman.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. Don't sue me.

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John Winchester stood in the shadows provided by a small grove of trees. He watched as the EMS person stitched and bandaged his youngest son's arm while Dean talked to the sheriff.

The loneliness in his heart at the sight before him was almost strong enough to bring him to his knees but he held tight to the tree next to him and continued to watch unseen. He missed his boys, especially Dean. After four years at each other's side it was hard to suddenly be alone.

It wasn't loneliness that had him standing here though. He had been shocked to open a newspaper and read that Dean Winchester had been shot dead by police after committing several murders. He had literally fled his small apartment and got on the road to find Sam. He knew Dean wasn't a serial killer, but if Dean was dead then that meant Sam was alone and in danger. He had to put his grief on old and find his youngest.

There were no words to describe how relieved he was when later that day Dean left him a voice mail saying he wasn't dead, but that a shape shifter had stolen his identity and tried to kill Sam but that they were both okay.

John didn't bother to go back home. He decided that he needed to check up and see if his boys were doing okay. It didn't take him long to find them. They tended to make a ruckus almost anywhere they went.

He hadn't been prepared for the hurt and heartache that would follow once he saw his two sons walking side by side. He almost got out of his car and marched right up to them he wanted to join them so badly. Still, he had to do what was necessary to keep his sons alive, and walking away from them had been necessary.

The truth was John was getting old. He was fifty-seven. At that age his reflexes weren't what they used to be. He was getting slower and Dean's life was getting put at risk every time they went on a hunt together because he couldn't pull his weight like he used to.

He hated what he did to Dean. The kid had left at least twenty messages on his phone begging him to call him. Still, it was the only way Sam would come back.

Sam…would he ever really understand his baby boy? He loved him. He loved him so much that he let him go. He let Sam have his four years at college. A many a night He had stood outside his apartment watching his boy grow into a fine young man. He would walk along the campus just to catch a glimpse of him as he walked to his next class. He knew about Jessica and Sam living together. He knew that his son had graduated with honors. He even knew that Sam was planning to go to law school. It was the three years of law school that propelled John to take such drastic actions.

He was willing to let Sam go and find himself, but he knew that if Sam got a law degree then there would never be a chance to get him back. He would have married Jessica and started a life with a home and kids. Sam would have been truly lost to them then.

His actions weren't completely selfish though. Sam had to come back. He had gotten soft while away. He needed his boys to train together and get Sam tough again, especially now that Jessica had died the same way Mary had.

John had suspected for years that Sam was tied somehow to his mother's death. Not that it was Sam's fault…but that somehow the fact that she died over Sam's bed meant something. It was no coincidence that Jess also died over Sam's bed. Whatever this thing was, Sam would be the connection to finding it. He needed his youngest to be with his brother.

Dean would protect Sam, watch over him. It was what Dean had been trained to do his whole life…to protect his baby brother. True, Sam wasn't a baby anymore, but there was a vulnerability in Sam that John couldn't overlook. Sam felt too much. He cared too much. John had never been able to harden Sam the way he had Dean. John had never succeeded in making Sam stop wanting to be normal. They were not normal people, and they never would be. Especially if there was something out there that had attached itself to Sam the way he believed.

Dean climbed into the car and Sam stood talking to a cute girl whose life he and his brother had just saved. He saw Dean watching them from the car. He could read Dean's mind like the back of his hand. He saw the fear in his gaze. Would Sam leave him again? John was confident Sam wouldn't abandon his brother again. Not after losing Jess. No, Sam was definitely back in the family business for good. Sam got in the car with Dean. The two said something and then Dean started the car and drove away.

Another piece of John's heart broke as he watched his boys drive farther and farther away from him. He had never been an emotional man, but at that moment he would give anything to pull both his sons in tight hug and just hold them. That wasn't going to happen though. If you love something, you have to set it free.

It was Dean's turn to lead. It was Sam's turn to provide assistance. Together they would hunt the things that went bump in the night and attacked and preyed upon the innocent. And John Winchester would watch from the outside the way he had watched over Sam the four years he had been at Stanford.