Chapter 3 - John

By infinite shadow

Disclaimer: Nope, they still do not belong to me. As far as I know they still belong to the WB and that evil genius Kripke.

Author's notes: Nightmare was originally meant to be a one shot tag to the episode Benders and was written from Dean's POV. When I was asked for more I was surprised that people liked it that much. So I decided to make the second chapter from Sam's POV. Having made reference to their father coming to see them I decided that John needed a POV piece of his own. I kept the rating T for some questionable language.

I want to add that I don't see their father as evil, just extremely driven. His character has been written and acted so well that I understand what drives him, his decisions and why he does what he does. I just don't think he's the bad person that many make him out to be. I believe he has a strong love for his children and would do anything for them. If you don't like that then be forewarned, that's how I've written him.

Lastly I have made references to a situation that happened to the boys when they were younger with John's friend Joshua. They can be taken as generic references for now, however they will go with another story I am working on when Dean is 16 and Sam is 12. The story is not written yet, but it will be just as soon as I get a few other stories finished.

Still with me? Enjoy the story…


John Winchester parked his truck on the street across from the motel. From here he could see the Impala parked outside one of the rooms and he knew his boys were there. He let out a sigh of relief. After talking with Sam on the phone he'd known that his boys were safe but he wouldn't let himself relax until now.

The message he had received earlier from Dean had left him chilled through to his very core. Sam was missing. He could hear the guilt and fear in his son's voice. Sam had always been Dean's responsibility, a responsibility that the older boy seemed to take on his own just after his new born baby brother had come home from the hospital. It was something that he and Mary had encouraged. After he'd lost his precious wife it was something that John had insisted upon.

His boys were safe. He should leave, now, before it was too late. Before the demon he hunted caught up to him and took all three of them on. John was in good form, but not able to take the demon on yet. There was too much he didn't know, too many questions unanswered to go into battle. His sons were too injured to be in any kind of fight, let alone this one.

Reaching out he started the truck and put it into gear, but his foot wouldn't come off the brake pedal. He looked one last time at the darkened motel window as if to say goodbye when the light switched on. John shut the car off, waited and wondered.

Suddenly he knew that Sam was looking after his older brother. A smile graced his stubble ladened face as he knew how much Dean would hate being mothered.

The smile quickly faded as the reason behind the mothering struck home. Dean had been hurt. Hurt enough to be somewhat delirious on the phone. The glue of their family had been ripped to pieces by a twisted hick.

Anger flashed through him and he slammed his hand against the steering wheel. He'd trained his boys hard. He had to, it was the only way they would survive. But now he knew he'd failed them. The great John Winchester, demon hunter extraordinaire, had not taught his boys enough.

He'd trained them how to do exorcisms, battle all sorts of demons, how to read and speak Latin, and trained them in all things battle worthy. They knew hand-to-hand, karate, boxing, knife fighting, bow and arrow and how to handle all sorts of guns. Hell his oldest son could break down a gun and put it back together faster than he could without blinking an eye.

His boys could fit into any role: Doctor, Cop, FBI, Homeland Security and more. They could make believable fake ID's to back them up. They could hustle the best of them to get cash and Dean was the king of credit card scams.

But the one thing he hadn't done, what he'd never considered training and safe guarding them against were humans. Some sadistic, twisted, seriously fucked up piece of human flesh had hurt his sons.

John sighed heavily in the dark truck as the light went off in the room. His hand reached for the ignition and started the truck. Before he could even think about it he was steering the truck towards the room and parking by his old Impala.

Reaching over to the glove box he pulled open the door, took out his lock picking tools and closed up the glove box. He stared at the small leather pouch containing the tools that would get him to his boys.

He questioned himself once more. Maybe he should just bail now. Joshua had called him from Montana asking for his help. But a small part of him, the part that never took to being a soldier and remembered what it was like before Mary had died, needed him to stay. Joshua was a big boy and could look after himself for a little while. They were his boys. He needed to see with his own eyes that his boys were safe, and if they weren't safe, get them safe.

The decision made he knew this is where he needed to be. He got out of the truck and paused in front of the door. There was really no reason to pick the lock but if they had just started to settle into sleep he didn't want to wake them. He'd just check on them and get back on the road.

If they were awake, what would he say? He'd abandoned Dean while he'd been hunting in New Orleans. And Sam, the thought of his youngest son brought on a whole new conflict of emotions and the older hunter pushed them aside. They were his sons. Nothing should be keeping them apart. Nothing.

Lowering himself onto a knee he made quick work of the lock. He heard the soft click as the bolt slipped open. Standing up he grabbed the door knob, twisted and opened the door. It slowly swung open with a quiet groan. He took a deep breath, stepped forward and tensed as he sensed movement in the room.

"Hey Dad," Sam said softly and a light turned on.

There they were, his boys looking battle weary. Sam looked exhausted and bruised. Dean looked pale, bandaged and unwell.

"Stay back Sam," Dean warned. "I'll take him."

John looked at his oldest son in slight confusion. He had a knife in his hand and was struggling to get to his feet. Even in his condition he was still trying to protect his little brother.

Before John could respond Sam was around the bed and standing in front of Dean.

"Dean it's Dad. Trust me, you don't want to take him on in your condition. You'll lose bro," Sam said softly as he slowly took the knife away from his brother.

"But," Dean tried to protest now completely focused on Sam.

Sam shook his head. "Sit down before you fall down," he said exhaustion colouring his voice.

Dean blinked a couple of times before doing as Sam said.

Sam picked up the discarded washcloths off the motel carpet. He went into the bathroom and came back out with another cool cloth for the burn.

"Lean back against the head board," Sam said as he moved Dean's pillows to cushion his back.

John watched from just in front of the closed motel door, surprised that Dean didn't question or get mad at the attention.

"Don't bother Sammy. Just let me sleep," Dean said.

"You can sleep. I'll take it off in a little bit," Sam said as he gently placed the cool cloth over the burn.

Dean closed his eyes as Sam sat beside him and pulled up the blankets slightly higher around his brother.

"You want to tell me what's going on here Sam?" John asked.

Sam turned and looked over at his Dad. "Which part?" he asked shrugging.

John looked at his estranged son knowing that he meant it as a question and not a smart ass remark. "All of it," he said as he pulled out a chair from the table and sat down.

Sam took a deep breath, rested his arms on his knees and looked towards the floor. He slowly told his father everything he could remember up until he'd spoken with his Dad on the phone.

"What I didn't know was that he was burned. I should've known Dad. There were signs but I missed them. If I had known," Sam said.

"It's ok Sam," John said.

"No sir, it's not. I'm pretty sure infection is setting in," Sam said his voice wavering slightly. "If I'd known, if I'd treated it sooner."

"No. Don't do that to yourself son," John started to say but stopped as Sam's head came up sharply at the word son and John nearly flinched.

"We're supposed to look out for each other. Dad if I hadn't allowed myself to get jumped," Sam said so softly his voice was a harsh whisper.

"You let yourself get jumped on purpose?" John asked already knowing the answer.

Sam paused at the question. "No sir, but I shouldn't have let it happen."

"Still second guessing after the fact I see. What have I always told you about that?" John asked sternly, knowing how much his son hated this particular saying.

Sam grimaced slightly. "Hind sight is twenty/twenty. Learn from it and never get caught with your pants down again."

"That's right. Damn it's good to see you again Sam," John said softly and watched a sea of emotions flash across his son's face.

Sam broke eye contact and looked away.

"Sammy the last time we were together was pretty uncomfortable for both of us," John started.

"Yes sir," Sam whispered and suddenly stood up wishing desperately to get some control. He was too tired for this conversation. He wanted Dean to wake up and be better. He wanted to stop feeling like he was still trapped in that cage. He didn't want to cry in front of his father.

John got up and took a couple of steps forward a little concerned at his behaviour. "Sam?"

Sam raised his head and John could see the tears welling in the young man's eyes. He could tell that Sam was desperately trying to stay in control of his emotions but he was at the end of what he could take tonight. He raised a hand to put it on Sam's shoulder and was surprised when Sam launched himself into his arms.

"Dad," Sam said into his shoulder as the events from the farm and the last couple of months caught up to him.

The tone of his son's voice cut him straight to the quick. He tightly wrapped his arms around him and felt Sam's shaking increase. "It's ok son," he said softly, slightly surprised at his youngest son's actions.

When he'd come here tonight he'd expected another fight, not this. It was the kind of behaviour he frowned upon normally, but this wasn't a normal kind of situation, even for them. He held onto his son for a moment then loosened his hold.

"Sorry Dad," Sam said quietly stepping back and looking down at the floor.

John nodded. "You're exhausted. Why don't you get some sleep?"

Sam shook his head. "I can't. I have to watch over Dean."

"I'll watch over him," John said, and you he silently added. "Get some sleep."

Sam nodded and went back to his bed falling asleep before his head touched the pillow.

John sat at the table and watched over his boys for a while. He got up and took the washcloth off Dean's shoulder. Returning to the table he settled in and began to research the qualities of the demon that Joshua needed help with.

Three hours later John hadn't gotten very far with his research. He was considering calling Joshua for more information when Dean bolted up in bed looking around wildly. John sighed inwardly as he thought nightmares were Sam's specialty.

He wasn't prepared for the panicked look that took over Dean's face as his son saw him sitting at the table.

"Hey Dean," he said softly.

"Dad?" Dean asked. "Oh God, I'm sorry! Please believe me! I'm so sorry! I did everything I could and I didn't mean to lose him! I'm sorry he's dead."

John got up from the table and started to take a step forward. He paused as Dean struggled to get out from under the sheets.

"No! Dad please I swear I'm sorry! I'm sorry that I let him die. Please don't kill me," Dean pleaded sliding to the other side of the mattress away from his Dad.

"Kill you?" John repeated surprised that his oldest would think such a thing. He'd never threatened his son with killing him. There were the few times that he'd wanted to knock some sense into the boy, what parent of a teenager didn't want to do that at some point, but even then he'd never struck his oldest son. He'd never hit either of them, although he'd come close with Sam. The boy knew how to push the right buttons in the right order to make his temper flare to the extreme. It would take the last bit of clarity he had to grab his t-shirt or jacket with two clenched fists instead of lashing out and physically harming the boy. After all he knew how to kill both human, thanks to the military, and demons thanks to Pastor Jim. When Sam was a teenager some days he wasn't sure what his son was.

Sam woke hearing the panic in his brother's voice and struggled to get out of bed. Kicking off the sheets he went over to his brother.

"Dean? Hey I need you to focus here," Sam said in an even voice trying not to spook his brother further.

"Sam? I'm sorry! Please," Dean begged as he moved back a bit to the middle of the mattress. "Please don't haunt me!"

John would've laughed at those words if the situation wasn't so serious. He watched as Sam reached out to his older brother. Dean flinched back from the touch groaning as his shoulder hit the headboard. Undeterred Sam took a strong hold of Dean's hand and held it to his chest.

"Do you remember?" Sam asked holding his brother's hand firmly to his chest. "After Joshua's I had nightmares for a month thinking that you and Dad were dead. You held my hand to your chest so I could feel your heart beating to let me know you were alive. I'm alive and I'm here Dean."

"Sammy?" Dean said confusion clouding his voice. "What happened? How'd we get here?"

"It was a long walk from the farm. Partly through the bush, remember?" Sam asked.

Dean was quiet for a moment. "Yeah. You slipped and fell into some mud."

"Oh sure, that you remember," Sam said smiling slightly.

"Did Dad call?" Dean asked still trying to sort out some of his memories.

"Yeah," Sam said looking over to his Dad.

John sat on the other side of the bed. "Hey Dean," John said softly.

"Dad? When did you get here?" he asked.

"A little while ago. You've been pretty out of it," John said not liking the glassy look in his eyes. "Dean why did you think I would kill you?"

Dean swallowed and looked away. "I let them kill Sammy."

"Right here, remember?" Sam said slightly tightening his hold on his brother's hand.

Dean shook his head. "In a dream. We were at his grave and you said I had to join him cause I let him get taken. I let them kill him."

"Dean I'm not angry with you that Sam was missing. You know that, right?" John asked.

"Yes sir," came the automatic response.

John could see Dean's breathing increase and saw him start to shake slightly.

"Dean," he said waiting for his son to focus on him. "You need to calm down son. You have a fever from a burn you sustained in the field. Now I need you to be strong. You'll need all your wits about you to heal. Do you think you can do that?"

Dean studied his father for a moment and John could see some of the glassiness fade out of his eyes.

"Yes sir," Dean said.

"Good. That's what I like to hear," John said softly. "Now let's take a look at that wound."

Sam let go of his brother's hand as John gently peeled off the white gauze. As he examined the wound the bed shifted slightly and Sam left his field of vision. He returned a moment later with the first aid kit.

"I took out the bits of material I could find," Sam said softly. "But it doesn't look right."

"Actually it's doesn't look that bad. It's clean, and see here," John said pointing to the lower part of the burn. "The blistering is just beginning. That's a good sign."

John looked over at his youngest and saw the relief clear on his face. "You did good Sammy."

Dean looked between the two of them. "Uh as much as I enjoy flashing my chest around could you finish up?" Dean asked. "It's kinda cold."

Dean swallowed back a spike of fear that ran through him as his Dad looked at him and he wondered where it had come from. Even when his Dad had been mad at him for screwing something up he was never afraid of him.

"So I hear you let a child get the better of you," John said seriously.

"Wha - Sam!" Dean protested glaring at his younger brother.

Sam ducked his head to hide his smile.

"Have you forgotten everything I've taught you?" John asked sternly.

Dean looked at his father ready to defend himself but caught the twinkle in his eye and his relaxed posture. "Oh sure pick on the injured," Dean groused good naturedly.

"Are you staying Dad?" Sam asked.

"I can't Sam. Joshua needs my help and he's expecting me," John said. It was true but he wished he didn't have to go. "Listen as much as I would like to stay with you boys I can't. It's just too dangerous right now."

"You're tracking it, aren't you?" Sam asked.

"What?" John asked.

Sam looked at his brother then back to his Dad. "The Fire Demon."

"No Sam I'm not tracking it. I don't have enough information on it to track it. I have a few leads but that's all," John said softly. "But even tracking down those leads would be too dangerous for you and your brother to be around for."

"So Joshua's not helping you with it?" Dean asked.

"No he's not. I don't know what he's fighting but it's a nasty demon and more than he can handle on his own," John growled then paused hearing how harsh his voice was getting and sighed softening his tone a little. "Boys I'd like to stick around with you for a few days, but you know I owe Joshua."

Dean looked away knowing that he was the reason that his Dad owed Joshua.

"Son that night happened a long time ago. It was the right call to take us there and you know it," John said. "If you hadn't taken us to Joshua's that night I would have died from internal injuries and Lord knows what would have happened to you two."

Dean nodded.

"Can we help?" Sam asked. "I mean we're not exactly battle ready, but I could research for you or something."

John smiled at his youngest. "No son. This is my debt, one that I've waited a long time to pay."

Sam nodded.

"I can stay for another hour or so before I have to get back on the road," John offered not wanting to leave them so soon. "Sam could you put the coffee on?"

"Yes sir," Sam said with a hint of a smile.

John stayed for the next couple of hours talking and catching up with his sons. When he left it was done with a great deal of regret and much reluctance.

He hadn't told his boys everything. Missouri had told him when he was in Lawrence something big was brewing, something vast and evil. So evil that he would not be able to handle it alone. John had suspicions that the demon Joshua needed help with was associated to the fire demon and the battle Missouri had referenced would be starting soon. But the battle wouldn't be happening in the next couple of days or even weeks. That was something he was sure of.

As he left it was with the knowledge that his boys were safe. The physical and emotional wounds, both old and new, were well on their way to being healed. For now maybe that was enough until he could help deal with Joshua's demon andget back to his boys.

The End