Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own them. Pretty much broke, so no point in suing.

A/N: Well, I still hate John, but I figured he must have done something right to get those two boys, so I'm trying to get in his shoes for a moment. Another young Sam/Dean story, mostly John's POV. Reviews make me write faster...


John Winchester came close to losing his children more than once.

Chapter one: The bad man

John remembered the first time he drank enough to pass out. After the military, that is. Losing Mary hurt like hell. He couldn't stand the pain of losing her. He had no idea what he would do without her, and soon became obsessed with avenging her death. He still had no idea who, or what, had killed her, but he was determined to find out, and seek retribution.

He was finally making some progress. That psychic woman, Missouri, she wasn't like the others. She knew what was out there, and she tried to help. Other people tried too, of course, but none of them really did. They all seemed content that Mary simply died in a fire caused by faulty wiring. They all did their best to ignore his side of the story. He hated the way they looked at him, but it didn't matter. He knew he had promised to love until death did them part, but he wasn't ready to let Mary go just yet. Not like that. No way.

John returned to Mike's house after another visit so Missouri to see Kate holding little Sammy in her arms, looking very worried.

"John, you really have to talk to your son." She said, a little uneasily. John nodded lightly. Dean was acting… well, not like the little boy he used to know. He used to talk incessantly, but not anymore, not since Mary… Dean didn't cry. Honestly, John wasn't so sure Dean understood what had happened. He kept tugging at Kate's dress at the funeral, asking when they could leave and telling her he didn't like being there. He put his hands over his ears when she told him they were saying goodbye to mommy, and wouldn't talk to her again for days.

"Where is he?" John asked. Kate tilted her head a little and John nodded, heading in that direction. He admired Kate a little. Mary always kept the house sparkling, but Kate wasn't used to having three more people in the house, and Sammy still hadn't slept a night through. Nevertheless, the house seemed spotless.

Dean sat on the floor in the guest room, flipping through the pages of 'The Cat in the Hat', reading it up loud even though he couldn't read yet. John stood at the door, smiling at hearing his son mess up the rhymes. That was the book of the month. Dean had insisted they would read it to him every night before he went to bed.

The boy must have had eyes in the back of his head, because a moment later he stopped talking again, turning his head to look at his father. Dean closed the book, coming to his feet and stuffing the book under the bed. John smiled at him.

"Hi there, sport. What are you doing?" he asked, noticing Dean was wearing his best clothes. Well, the best ones he had managed to scavenge out of what was left of his house.

"The house is really clean, isn't it?" Dean asked.

"Yes, it is." John agreed. "Did you help aunt Kate clean up?" Dean took his hand, leading him through the house, through each and every room.

"It's all clean. Just like mommy likes, right?" Dean asked, looking up at John. John sighed, picking him up in his arms.

"Yeah, kiddo. Mom would have liked it." He said.

"Then she can come back now, right?" Dean asked innocently, looking hopefully at his dad. "I'll be good, I promise. I won't leave my toys lying around anymore, just make mommy come back." He pleaded and John's eyes watered. He held his son to him, giving him a strong hug and putting him back down.

"I wish I could, Dean." John said solemnly. "But mommy isn't coming back."

"But I won't be bad anymore, I promise! I'll do anything you say!" Dean pleaded, and John couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't take the thought of Mary never coming back. He couldn't take the thought his four year old son thought it was his fault somehow. He couldn't stand the thought of his boys growing up without their mother there to see them. He kissed the top of Dean's head and started to leave in search for a drink.

"Is it because of the bad man?" Dean's question made him stop dead. He turned.

"What bad man?" John asked.

"The bad man that was in my room." Dean explained. "He looked kindo' funny. He woke me up, and I got scared, so he read me a story and told me to be very quiet. He said he was going to play with Sammy, so that Sammy won't cry, and that after that he would come back for me." John's heart raced. His entire body shook. There was someone there? In his house? With his kids? His knees buckled and he stumbled.

"Did mommy go with the bad man?" Dean asked in a tiny, sad voice.

"Why didn't you tell me?" John wanted to scream, but his voice came out sounding more like a hiss. Dean looked at him.

"Because he said I couldn't." he explained. "He said he would be back, and that if I woke you and mommy up you would be angry." Dean looked up at John, waiting for his father to say something, but John couldn't think of anything to say. It was all too big of a shock for him. "He's going to come back, you know." Dean went on a moment later. "He promised. You can't go back on a promise."

That was the first time in a long time John had drank until he had passed out. The day after that he took his boys and ran.