The gun battle raged before John and Sam got two of the shapeshifters. They could hear gunshots from behind the house before Dean came back around and joined them. Flames had already started to lick up the side of the shapeshifters commune. Without a word they turned and ran as the house behind them continued to burn. Reaching the truck and the Impala, they stood catching their breath looking back at the inferno. Suddenly Dean fell to his knees and sat back. His breath still ragged from the run, his face showed his exhaustion laced with pain.

"Dean!" Sam cried out as he watched his brother limply land on his knees. John turned around as he heard Sam voice.

"Son you're bleeding" John bent over to examine the wound in Dean's left shoulder. "How bad is it?"

"I'm ok I just need a minute." Dean said weakly protesting their concerns. He wanted to get up to prove he was ok but his legs didn't seem to want to move. For a moment, John was anxious. He knew his son would never admit to his pain but his body was overriding him. That meant it was something serious.

"Dad we need to get him to the hospital." Sam said concerned when he saw the pain on his brothers face. He too recognized Dean had surpassed his body's limitations and it scared him.

"No!" both John and Dean answered.

"No hospitals" Dean said weakly. Sam was about to complain when his father interrupted him.

"Dean's right. They will only asked questions there. Lets get him back to the motel." He said ignoring his youngest sons glare. "Do you think you can walk to the car?" he nodded for Sam to help his brother up. Sam quickly wrapped his arm around Dean.

"I can do it dude." Dean struggled to stand and would have fallen back down if it hadn't been for his brother.

John looked around, his shotgun still in his hand as Sam helped Dean to the car. Dean winced when Sam placed him in the back seat though he tried his damnedest not let his brother see him.

"Dean you need to see a doctor" Sam looked at him, worry clearly on his face as he settled his brother in the car.

"Its ok, Dad can fix me up. It's not like he hasn't done it before." Dean tried to calm his brother down. Sam was still worried. He knew his father got some medic training in the Marines, but this was Dean now, and the wound looked bad. Sam didn't think the risk was worth it. He jumped behind the wheel of the Impala and drove like a bat outa hell back to the motel. John drove closely behind him and was out in a flash to help him carry Dean into the room. Once inside Dean sat limply on the bed as they peeled his shirts off to look at the wound. Sam ran around and got the medical supplies he knew his father would need.

"This might hurt son." John said as he started to probe the wound. Dean nodded gritting his teeth as he felt his father feel around for the bullet. By the time John was through Dean was pale, and visibly weakened. Sweat rolled down the sides of his face.

"It's not too deep." He said as he wiped his hands off. "Sam hand me the kit." Sam pulled out a small medical kit with Johns medical instruments inside and handed it to his father. "Lay back son." He said as he gently pushed Dean down on the bed. Dean fell back eyes closed, his breath quickening anticipating what was about to come.

"Dad shouldn't you give him something for the pain before you try and dig that out." Sam said as he realized his brother was gonna be awake while his father dug out the bullet. His father just shook his head.

"We don't have anything left." He heard Dean say weakly his eyes stilled closed. "We used the last of it last month when you got slashed by the demon dog." Sam sat there horrified. The pain in his back instantly returning as he remembered being clawed and the 50+ stitches his father had to sew. John had given him a local anesthetic to dull the pain before he started. Sam didn't realize that was all they had to use. He just assumed his father had gotten some more in the last few weeks.

"Jesus Dean." He looked up at his father. "Dad what are we gonna do?"

"You're gonna hold him down, and I'm gonna dig out the bullet." John told him flatly. Dean looked up at Sam and gave him a reassuring nod.

"It's okay Sam. Dad lets do it." He said as he held up his right hand for Sam to grasp it. Sam quickly took it in his own and put his right hand on Dean's chest to hold him down. John looked at Sam and Sam nodded that he was ready. Without wasting another moment, he pushed inside the wound to dig out the bullet. Dean tensed up as he felt the instrument and grabbed Sam's hand hard. Sam watched Dean's face unable to watch his father cause his brother so much pain. He knew John was being as gentle as he could but he could tell the pain was excruciating for Dean. Finally, after several agonizing minutes, Dean passed out and his body went limp.

"Thank god." John said as he watched his son lose consciousness. He quickly pulled out the bullet knowing Dean could no longer feel the pain. Sam stilled clutched his brothers hand as he watched John clean and bandage the wound. When John was finished, Sam got up and moved to sit on one of the kitchenette chairs totally emotionally spent. His father sat down beside him feeling the same.

"I never mind seeing my own blood but when its one of your kids…." John suddenly felt so tired. Sam looked up at him as he spoke. In his mind, he always saw his father as John Winchester, demon hunter, and now suddenly he saw him as he really was, a father whose son was hurt. He reached across the table and patted his fathers arm offering what little comfort he could. John looked over appreciating the gesture.

"Its never easy when one of us gets hurt is it Dad?" Sam acknowledged seeing the pain on John's face.

"No it isn't. I know I make you take a lot of risks; it comes with the job, that's why I stressed so hard on your training. I guess I've seen you as soldiers for so long that sometimes I have to be reminded that you are still my sons. To lose either one of you would be unimaginable." John wearily rubbed his eyes as he spoke.

Sam felt like he was witnessing a miracle, his father admitting his affection for his sons. They sat there lost in the moment before John got back up. He stopped and tousled Sam's hair before returning to Dean to check on him. At John's insistence, Sam forced himself to take a nap. Hours later Sam would wake up and find his father sitting next to Dean's bed gently rubbing his hand through his brother's hair.

"He still asleep?" Sam whispered not wanting to interrupt.

"Yes and so should you be." John sternly told him.

"Yes sir." Sam answered, smiling before he laid back down. He awoke mid morning and found his father gone. No note, nothing. Looking out the window he could see the truck gone as well.

"Damn it Dad, couldn't you have waited till Dean woke up." he said looking around. He got up and checked on Dean. His brother was still unconscious and that worried Sam. Checking his pulse he found it stronger than the night before and the bleeding had finally stopped. For that Sam was grateful. He was still cursing his father when there was a knock at the door. Recognizing the knock he and hearing the password he quickly opened the door. There John was standing, his arms filled with boxes.

"Here take some of these." He said as he struggled to hold on to his load.

Sam jumped up and grabbed a couple setting them on the table. Right away he could tell they were filled with medical supplies. Shifting through them he found pain killers, antibiotics, bandages, even a couple of bags of saline solution for an IV.

"Dad what the hell did you do, knock over a pharmacy?" He said amazed as he pulled out various supplies. John started to unpack the boxes as well.

"They shouldn't leave their back doors open son. Always lock the door, remember that." He turned to Sam winking. Sam was shocked. He decided he wasn't going to ask about his fathers foray into the life of crime. Desperate times meant desperate measures. Dean needed medicine so his father did what he had to, but still. John looked over at Dean still asleep.

"How is he?" He asked getting one of the IV's ready.

"'bout the same Dad, he still hasn't woken up." Sam looked down at his unconscious brother. "He lost a lot of blood last night, and the pain. I don't know how he hung on this long."

"Your brother is a fighter Sammy, always will be." John moved over to his son's side and started to insert the IV into his arm. Then he gave him a shot of painkiller. "This should help some."

Sam watched his father work on Dean. John's skill practiced over the years between the Marines and the hunts. Sam knew he had woken up a time or two to find his father patching him up. His growling stomach suddenly interrupted his thoughts.

"Dad while you were knocking over a pharmacy did you think to hit a fast food place too." He asked rubbing his stomach.

"Front seat son." John looked up and nodded at the truck parked outside. Sam quickly came back inside with two bags filled with stuff from McDonalds. Sam started to rip into a couple sandwiches when he stopped and looked at his father sheepishly.

"Go ahead Sammy," His father said shaking his head smiling. "but don't eat them all, save me a couple too."

"No promises Dad." Sam said his mouth full of food. When Sam was finished he moved over to Dean's bed and allowed his father a chance to finally eat. Looking at his brother he could already see a difference in his appearance. His face no longer filled with pain, his color looked better too. Sam was relieved to see the difference. He looked back over at his Dad and suddenly noticed how tired John looked as well.

"Dad maybe you need to catch a few hours of sleep too eh?" Sam nodded over to the second bed. John shook his head.

"I grabbed a couple last night son." Sam knew immediately he was lying.

"Yeah right Dad. Somehow I don't imagine the kitchen chairs were made for sleeping." He tried to convince his father to get some rest.

"I suppose you'll just harass me until I do?" John knew how tired he was both physically and mentally. A few hours sleep would make him feel a lot better.

"I'll stand over you with a shot gun if I have too Dad." He smiled at his father before making a fake play for the gun.

"Ok! Ok, but promise me you'll wake me up as soon as Dean wakes up." John laid down on the other bed.

"I promise Dad now sleep." He ordered his father.

"Yes sir!" John answered him and was quickly asleep. Sam watched him for a few minutes before sitting back at the kitchenette table opening up the laptop. A couple hours later he started to hear Dean stir in his bed. Sam moved the chair over to his brother's side and leaned over.

"Dean. Dean can you hear me?" he whispered. Dean struggled to open his eyes but when he did he immediately looked up at Sam.

"Hey…" he said weakly as his eyes focused. He immediately started to look for John. "Where's Dad?"

"Right next to you." Sam nodded over at the next bed. Dean turned his head and was relieved to see his father. Amazed he turned back to his brother.

"How'd you manage that Sammy?" he asked giving his brother a weak smile. Sam pointed over to the shotgun. "Ahhhhh." Dean shook his head. He started to laugh but it quickly turned into a cough.

"Dean!" Sam jumped up to help his brother. Dean brushed his brother's hand away.

"I'm okay dude." He settled back down on the bed again. "How long was I out?"

"Since yesterday afternoon. You really gave me and Dad a scare Dean." Sam tried to hide the fear in his voice but didn't quite make it. Dean looked up at the IV in his arm and the boxes on the table. He shot Sam a questioning glance. Sam saw the look and started to chuckle before he began to explain.

"Dad knocked over a drug store." He said as Dean gave him a shocked look. "When I woke up this morning he was gone. A little while later he comes back with all this stuff." Sam waves his hand over toward the table.

"You're kidding me right" Dean asked amazed his father would go so far. Sam looked over at John and lowered his voice.

"Yeah, when he wasn't here when I got up I just assumed he had taken off again like usual. He doesn't exactly have a good track record in that department." Dean nodded his agreement. Sam continued.

"Anyway he comes back with all this stuff. Dean, I never was so happy to see him. You were bleeding so much and we didn't have half the stuff we needed and when you passed out……" Dean cut him off.

"I'm okay now Sammy." Dean spoke his voice a little stronger. He knew he needed to reassure his brother that he was going to be fine.

"This time….." Sam looked away. "What about next time?" he thought to himself. Dean could see his concern. He suddenly remembered something from their childhood.

"Lions and tigers and bears oh my" he looked up at his brother smiling. Sam looked back at him like he was crazy.

"Lions and tigers and bears oh my." He repeated. Sam started to chuckle.

"Please tell me how the wizard of oz fits into all of this Dean?" Sam just knew his brother had gone off the deep end.

"Remember when you were 5 and you watched it for the first time. The flying monkeys scared the crap out of you. You didn't sleep in your own bed for days afterwards." Dean smiled at the memory.

"Yeah most kids were scared by the wicked witch but I knew real witches didn't look like that." Sam remembered. Of course he also remembered Dean torturing him by telling him if he didn't behave flying monkeys might come and take him away. He also remembered how he promised he would behave and how Dean kept a bat in bed with them those nights "just in case the monkeys try to get you." Sam smiled at the memory.

"So what's that got to do with this Dean? Do we just hold hands and skip down the yellow brick road?" Sam asked still a little confused at where his brother was going with this story.

"No you ass….I told you nothing was ever gonna get you, not while I was around. I didn't leave you then. I'm not leaving you now." Dean was suddenly serious. "Look dude I know you are concerned. I understand, but it's gonna take a lot more than shapeshifters, bullets and whatever to do me in. You can count on that."

"You should listen to your brother." John suddenly spoke up from the next bed. The boys looked over to see their father leaning up watching them.

"Hey Dad." Dean said as he saw his father.

"Hey yourself. How you feeling?" He got up and leaned over to look at Dean's shoulder.

"Better Dad really." Dean replied wincing a little as John touched his shoulder. He looked up to see John staring at him. "Dad really, sure it hurts like hell but its not gonna keep me down."

"Next time be more careful." John nodded his voice back to being authoritative.

"Yes sir." Dean answered. John looked over at Sam.

"You too."

"Yes sir." Sam agreed. John knew they would, they always were. He also knew there might come a day when careful wasn't enough. Until then he knew he could count on his boys too look out for each other no matter what situation they were in. The real battle was only just beginning. He could only pray they would all be standing at the end.

The End

A/N: I started to write this a couple of weeks ago. It's meant to be a one shot, pre pilot,but I sorta got a little carried away.I wanted to show John as a caring father because we really didn't have too much to go on about his characters history and a lot of the post Nightmare stories were making him out to be horrible. Now that we have seen Shadows, we know how much he really loves his sons. Could there be some truth to some of the post Nightmare stories? I think the answer lies somewhere between. Thanks for reading and RR please.