Epilogue to "Something Wicked" from John's POV

Three Hours

John grabbed his young sons, threw their stuff in the trunk of the Impala and booked.

He glanced in the rearview mirror at his sons in the backseat as he roared down the highway. Sammy was already asleep; his head leaning against his big brother in the position he always took when he slept as they traveled in the car. Dean… Dean was wide awake. He was staring straight ahead, a steely determination building in his young eyes, alongside the pain he had yet to bury deep in his heart.

It was just dumb luck his sons were still alive. He'd pursued the Shtriga and almost gotten it, but it had somehow managed to elude him. He'd promised Dean he would be back Sunday night, so he had returned to the crummy motel he had left his sons in three days prior. He'd returned just in time.

The Shtriga had broken in to suck the life force out of his youngest son. Just a coincidence? Or did this evil son of a bitch somehow know to seek out the children of the hunter who was tracking it? John would never know the answer, but he certainly had plenty of questions to add to his growing list.

He'd told Dean to keep watch over his brother. He'd told him to not leave the room. Yet, his oldest had disobeyed. He'd left his brother alone, unprotected and danger had again almost imposed a terrible wrath upon their family. He'd made a mistake, a child's mistake. It needed to be his last.

The look in Dean's eyes as John held his youngest after narrowly avoiding disaster had broken his heart once he settled down and realized they were all safe. He'd hugged Sammy and checked him over to make sure he was fine. He'd felt anger and disappointment toward Dean for not listening, for not following orders, but he had mainly felt terror. The terror of realizing how closely they had tread. How narrowly they had skirted disaster.

If Mary were still alive, if they were the normal family they once were, he would have wrapped Dean in his arms and told him it was okay. He would have hugged him and held on for all he was worth, but they were not a normal family, they would never be normal again.

John knew what went bump in the night. He knew what evil lurked in the shadows stalking his family. He knew evil would come again and again to hurt his family. Dean could no longer be a child; he needed to be a man. It was a raw deal, it was harsh and it certainly wasn't fair, but that was their life now. Nothing was fair since his beautiful wife was put on the ceiling over Sammy's crib and burned into oblivion.

He knew his son. He knew his pride would never allow him to disappoint his dad again. He knew he would never again make this mistake. As much as John had schooled his son in this war on evil, this would be his greatest lesson. This would be the reminder for the rest of his life to be diligent, to always be prepared, to always be alert. To always protect his brother.

John didn't know the full extent of Sammy's significance; he just knew evil had wanted him, chosen him. John and Dean would be the only obstacles to evil getting what it wanted. This was a deadly battle; if John fell then Dean would have to pick up his mantle. Dean would have to carry on alone.

He needed to prepare him as quickly as he could. He needed to insure his son was ready to wage war. He had already seen numerous signs Dean was a hunter. He knew his son would mature into a more formidable hunter than he. Pastor Jim said it was his calling, his destiny. He was born to be a hunter.

John wished they lived in an alternate reality where Dean could play baseball and hang out with friends. A reality where his mom was still there to bake cookies and give hugs. Where laughter overflowed in a house full of love. Hell, he wanted to live in that reality.

But this was their reality: fighting evil, vanquishing demons, killing things and saving people. He was desperately trying to save his sons. Save them from the evil that wanted nothing more than to hurt them. Damn, he wished it could all be different, but he was forced down this path of retribution and he saw no end in sight.

Dean was strong and tough. He knew his son would steel himself in determination and grit and become an awesome hunter. It was what he was meant to be. It was his destiny.

As much as John wanted to hold his son and comfort him, he knew that was the last thing Dean needed. He needed to be strong. He needed to be determined. He needed to protect Sammy. He needed to be a warrior. Anything less and he would fail, and he would die.

John knew it was a crappy deal. It wasn't fair and it wasn't what he would choose for his son if he had the choice of lives to lead. But these were the cards they were dealt. Evil had come to his family and he had no choice in his mind but to rail against it as long as he held breath.

Dean was a part of this war. He was a warrior and he would fight to protect his brother. John could only hope for the fortitude to prepare and train his son. He loved his son, he loved both his sons, but they would have to battle evil to stay alive. It was his job to make them ready for whatever came their way.

He had to make them strong to keep them safe.

He looked at his son differently now. He saw all the lost possibilities, all the things Dean would never have and it made his heart heavy. Dean was trapped on this path toward vengeance and he was still just a child. A child that had to disappear so the man, the soldier, the warrior could emerge. A lone tear rolled down John's cheek as he considered the cost.

bjxmas April 2006

All standard disclaimers apply.