Disclaimer: As usual nothing from 'Supernatural' belongs to me – wishing it is don't make it so
Summary: John and Pastor Jim talk about John's relationship with his sons. Set shortly after Sam's phone message to his father when Dean is ill in 'Faith'
Author's note: Thanks to Rae Artemis for her betaing expertise and for pointing out the parts of this chapter that needed work – Fingers crossed it's okay now... and for the speed with which you betaed - Thank you!
Author's note 2: Please read and review. What do you think? Does it end right?
Chapter 3 – The truth
'Do you honestly believe that John? Do you honestly believe that Mary meant nothing to Dean?'
'I don't know anymore. It's years since he's even mentioned her to me. He's always refused to go back to Lawrence. Well, until he went back because Sam asked. He'd never go back for me.'
'Don't sound so petulant John. We'll talk about this properly. I can tell you why he would go back with Sam but not for you. He was a child, when you asked him to go back, a traumatised child and you were asking him to go back to where that trauma happened. At first, he was probably frightened that going back there, he would lose you or Sam as well. How well did you ever deal with his fears? You said before he used to cry himself to sleep, how long did that go on? Did you sit with him? Did you ever talk to him about what upset him and frightened him when he was still young?'
'Can you imagine what it was like for me?'
Anger flared in John's voice as he began, 'My wife died. She left me with two boys to look after. She died because something I never knew existed took her and pinned her to the ceiling, slashed her stomach open and burnt her. And you ask me if I listened to Dean's fears at night? What about mine? What about the fact that no-one believed me? What about the fact that without Mary there was no-one to hold our family together? Time and distance have never filled the gap Mary's death left in my soul.' There was defeat in his voice. 'So go on then, you tell me why after years of denying me, Dean would go to Lawrence with Sam.'
'Because you told him he had to. You told him he had to keep Sam safe and to do that he would do anything. His wishes, hopes, fears all get kicked to the back of his mind when Sam needs something from him. He didn't want to go, but he couldn't say no to Sam.'
'Humph', he snorted by way of reply, disbelief evident.
'John, tell me about Dean.'
'Before she died? Dean was like her little shadow, he followed her everywhere, if not physically, he would watch her; he always knew where she was. He'd be playing in the garden and he would run into the house and go straight to her, even when she was in a different room to the one he'd left her in. They would sing constantly; nursery rhymes, children's songs, Christmas carols, songs from the radio, and jingles from the TV. They'd sing or they be laughing and talking constantly while she tidied up or cleaned or ironed and he'd go along with her picking up and helping kind of, or while they were in the kitchen. They used to bake together cookies and stuff you know, or when she was making dinner, sometimes he'd try and help, other times he'd sit at the table and colour or play with his toys or Sam once he was born. He watched Sam all the time. Dean and Mary, they were so close; he had all these bits of personality that were like hers. They would smile at the same things; they liked the same foods, songs and bedtime stories. When I read to him in bed at night, I could read anything, he never fussed but the two of them always shared the same three stories. His mannerisms were like her in so many ways, he wasn't girlie but he was gentle, he never liked to upset people.'
'He was a good boy.'
'Yeah, I suppose he was.'
'He changed. Nothing was good enough for him. It didn't matter what I cooked he didn't want it, which book I picked up he wouldn't listen, what clothes I picked out he didn't want to wear them. He kept asking when Mary was coming back, just wouldn't except that she had gone. Then one day it changed, he changed.'
'Do you know there are still days when I can't bear to look at him? He just exudes Mary from every pore, every fibre of his being. The way he turns his head, his eyes, not the flashy smile, but the slow one he turns to Sam, I suppose you would call it the genuine one. When his guard is down and he's ill or when he's looking after Sam, you can hear her in the way he speaks, the way he expresses concern and all of that was worse when he was younger.'
Jim waited; John was being brutally honest with him, with himself too. For what could possibly be the first time since Mary had died, he was recognising the truth about his relationship with his eldest son.
'It was like torture to watch him and he doesn't know he does it. When he changed, it just got worse. I told him that he had to be a good boy, that his mommy had gone and couldn't come back and that all she wanted was for him to be good and do everything he was told and look out for Sammy. I told him he wasn't allowed to ask for mommy anymore because she wouldn't come back to him no matter what, I told him he had to do everything she would have wanted to make Sammy happy and me proud.'
'I think that was when I drove the nail into the coffin of our relationship but once I'd done it there was no going back. He wiped his hands across his eyes, nodded and walked away from me and he was gone. He stopped speaking to me or any other adult for that matter unless it was to tell me what Sam needed but do you know what was the worst part about it, other people saw it happen, told me I needed to do something about it and I told them they were wrong, that I knew my own son and he was fine. It took me almost a year to realise that what they said was right and by then we were on the other side of the country and the boys had no-one else to speak to.' John dropped his head into his hands, elbows resting on the table in front of him.
'He stopped playing, he hated it when Sammy was out of his sight, hated being left alone, sometimes I think that is still what he fears the most, being alone. I would take the boys to the park and he would stand next to the stroller and watch the other children play. I started to train him because he wouldn't do anything, I made him run and climb because I thought maybe he would want to do those things again, I wouldn't let him hold Sam until he'd done what he'd been told. I thought maybe if he had to do things without Sam and me that he'd want to be apart, be like the other kids. It never worked. He always tackled everything he was ordered to do with a desperation that was so profound even I could feel it. He got quicker, better, more agile, more proficient not because he enjoyed it or wanted to do it but because the better he was the quicker I would let him back to be with Sam and me. I never intended it to be torture, I wanted him to be able to cope and I did it all wrong.'
Jim recognised the truth in the words. John had been a man lost in his own grief, alone with no-one to support him and his sons because they'd left behind their home and the people who had known them. He'd not known how to handle his own grief, let alone that of his young son, so he'd tried to handle it like a man, like a soldier, suck it up and get on. Every time he'd looked at the boy, he'd seen his wife and so he'd tried to rid his son of that but it hadn't worked because it wasn't just about looks, it was about the essence of Dean's being, and that had been moulded in the likeness of his mother's. In his heart, he cared for other people like his mother had done, he wanted others to be happy and protected and the more John had pushed him, the more he had retreated within himself building walls around himself, trying to hide what he was but leaving the chink, the weakness that was the need to protect his family until it became his only focus. Dean, in a bizarre way, had become his mother, his whole purpose in life to protect as his mother had done in both her life and her death. The more John tried to deny the Mary in him, the more it had shone through as the strongest part of him and the more it had hurt John.
'It all went so wrong. It was never meant to be like this. Mary would hate what happened to him. I can't look him in the eye and watch him die, knowing that it's my fault he's there.'
'John, you need to see the boys. You need to talk to them. You need to tell them that it doesn't matter who they are and what they want, you love them. You need to accept them. You should go to the hospital, help Sam look for a way through this, help him try to find a cure, help Dean fight it for as long as he can.'
'I found something, last night, it might help.'
'Go to them, tell them.'
'Go John today.' Jim paused, unsure how to continue, 'Do you want me to come with you?'
'No, I'll sort it out. I'll make sure they know what to do.'
'John, please. Don't get someone else to tell them. Let them know it's you looking out for them.'
'We'll see. I should go. Thanks for everything. I'll be in touch again. You know how to contact me if…'
'Think about what I said.' Jim watched as John picked up his bag and went back out to his truck. Maybe it would make a difference, John had been more honest than he'd ever known him to be before, maybe he would find a way to go to his boys now.
Jim tidied the plates into the sink and went to the church. He knelt to pray as he always did, and started with thoughts of Dean and Sam as he always did.