Title: 3 New Voice Messages

Author: BlackWingedbird

Beta: Amy

Slight language, standard dis

Author's Note: I'm probably the last to post a Father's Day fic, but hey! Better late than never!

John Winchester finished drying his face with the motel's threadbare hand towel and tossed it to the corner of the countertop before flicking off the lights on his way towards bed. The ancient air conditioning hummed loudly from its place beneath the window, but John was thankful there was even a unit to hum. Last night, in a motel on the northern border of Texas, he'd spent the night in his underwear, lying in front of the open (but salted) window. The middle of June was hot, no matter where you slept.

He moved to the side of the bed closest to the door and sank onto it, grabbing the small digital clock and making sure the alarm was disengaged. Savoring the idea of sleeping in, John sighed and returned the clock to its original position against the yellowed and peeling wallpaper. He glanced around the room one last time, making sure the entry ways were thickly salted, the reached up and turned off the overhead lights. He turned, stretching his legs out on the mattress before him, and leaned back against the headboard. He grabbed his cell phone and flipped it open.

3 new voice messages

The glow from the screen was bright and the numbers were illuminated, guiding John's movements as he scrolled through the menu. The phone beeped softly then he pushed the 'call' button, bringing the phone to his ear as it dialed the voicemail. The date and time of the message was announced, then the recording began:

'Good evening Mister Gordon, this is Mike calling from the Visa billing department… you've had an outstanding account with us for over 90 days now and if we don't receive immediate payment in full, we will be forced to turn you over to-'

Rolling his eyes, John pushed a button and the message was erased with a soft beep. He leaned forward and rearranged the pillows behind his back, listening as the robotic voice confirmed the deleted message and introduced the next one. He settled back as it began to play.

'Uh, hey Dad… it's me, Dean."

John blinked in surprise and readjusted his grip on the small phone, holding it just a little closer.

'I just called to say, 'Happy Father's Day'… so… Happy Father's Day.' There was a pause, and the background noise grew louder. It sounded as if Dean were next to a road. 'I hope you're doing okay- you don't have to call me back or nothing… I was just thinking about you. Sammy and I were driving and we passed one of those Hallmark stores… there was a big sign in the window and everything… so, you know…' Dean laughed a little. 'We don't know where you are, so we couldn't send you a card. But I just wanted you to know that we didn't forget about you.'

A smile spread over John's face as he listened to his oldest son's voice. 'Sam and I, we're doing okay,' Dean continued. 'We're in Utah, on our way to check out a haunted house. Sam thinks it's the real deal.' The wind picked up suddenly, then disappeared, as if Dean had walked between two shelters. 'We miss you, Dad. I miss you. I miss how we used to be together, a team.' Dean chuckled dryly, 'We were awesome, weren't we? You remember that time in SoCal with the black dog? Damn mutt… it's a good thing Sam had stuffed that cookie into his pocket or that thing woulda ate us for dinner.'

John remembered. The giant dog had been baring down on Dean and himself, its eyes glowing red and long strings of foamy saliva hanging from its lips. They had been ill-prepared- an incident that would not happen again- and cornered. It was Sam who stepped to the rescue, getting the dog's attention by waving a chocolate-chip cookie at it, then hurling it in the opposite direction with instructions to 'Fetch!'. Who knew demonic dogs liked Chips Ahoy brand cookies?

There was a shout, then some static and another louder, muffled shout. Then Dean's voice came back, 'That was Sam. Guess he's ready to get back on the road. He's such a impatient brat sometimes… well, you know how he is.'

John nodded, rolling his eyes in the darkness.

'So, I guess I'll let you go. I just wanted to call and say, you know… I love you and shit. We both do. So, watch your back old man. And if you ever want to… um… like, join forces again? I'd really like that. Gimme a call sometime.' The Impala's horn honked. 'Cut it out, jackass! I gotta go. Happy Father's Day, Dad.'

John listened as the message ended and the voice listed the numbers to push that would either save the message or delete it. He blinked slowly, his vision blurring as unshed tears spread over his eyes. Dean's voice left an aching in John's heart that he hadn't felt for a while. He missed his sons terribly but had gotten quite good at forgetting them. If he didn't think about them, or how much he missed them, then he didn't feel as guilty. Hearing Dean's message reawakened his longing to see them, to be with them. But despite the pain, he took a deep breath and pressed the number '1', sending the message to storage.

It was the nicest gesture he'd gotten in a long time. It was priceless and he couldn't bear to throw it out, no matter how useless and sentimental is was.

John listened absently as the third message began, his mind focused on his sons, alone and fatherless as they carried out his coded orders. What was he doing?

'Dad. It's Sam.'

John jumped as if he'd been electrocuted and stared at a point on the opposite wall, listening to the voice of his youngest son.

'I don't know if you ever listen to you messages- you certainly never return them, so…'

John was barely breathing, listening past the slight static and far away sound of running water to the resentment lacing Sam's voice. The fact that he even called at all was enough of a surprise to steal John's breath. He ignored the tone of Sam's voice.

He was used to it by now.

'I know you were probably expecting Dean, but he's been driving all day and I don't think he even realizes what day it is. We're heading down to Richmond, to check out the coordinates you sent us. Guess we'll figure out what's going on when we get there…' There was a pause, then a slight shuffle and Sam sighed. 'Look- Dad…' Sam's voice was softer now, and John's heart tightened. 'It's Father's Day… I'm sure you've heard it on the radio by now, or seen the ads in the paper. And I just wanted… I know we've never seen eye to eye on a lot of stuff… hell, our relationship has been downright rocky… '

Images of controversy flashed through John's mind: arguing with Sam about why he couldn't join the soccer team, telling Sam that money needed to be spent on ammunition- not a tuxedo for the dance… being unable to afford a car of Sam's own, don't bother getting a part-time job, Sam- we won't be in town long enough… this family needs you Sam, and if you walk out that door, you won't be welcome here any more… John snorted. Rocky was one word for it.

Sam's voice continued, 'But you're still our Dad and you did the best you could. We always had what we needed. Things could have turned out very differently… you could have just spent your days as the bottom of a bottle. And God knows I didn't make it easy on you.' John smiled. Adolescence had been a bitch, alright. 'And we're all still alive today, so I guess you did something right.' There was a smile in Sam's voice. 'Guess the hard times really do make you stronger.'

John had yet to find out.

'So I just wanted to call and say, you know… I appreciate the effort. Sure I didn't have the childhood I wanted, but I always knew you loved me. So… thanks. Happy Father's Day, Dad.'

There was a moment of silence as John sat perfectly still, feeling the burn of tears in his eyes. Then Dean could be heard shouting in the background, 'Sam? Who you talkin' to?'

'Nobody!' Sam shouted back, and John winced, smiling as the normalcy eased the tightness in his chest. 'Well, I gotta go,' Sam continued, quieter. 'I hope you get this message okay. And you know… if you ever wanna call, I know Dean would really like to hear from you…' There was a hesitation, then almost so quiet John couldn't hear it, 'And I would too. Bye, Dad.'

The phone clicked and John lowered it to his lap, watching the seconds of the call monitor tick upwards. The messages were the best gift he'd ever received from his boys. The thoughtfulness behind their words shook him to the core- he'd never exactly taught his boys to be affectionate, especially towards him. They'd given him a lot to think about tonight, and he sighed wearily as he saved the message and set the phone on the nightstand. He was proud of Dean and Sam. Despite his unorthodox rearing, they had grown into fine young men. They were reliable, brave, resourceful, and honorable. They would be his legacy, his insurance that the fight for good would continue even after he no longer walked the earth. They meant everything to him, stood for Mary and everything good in this world.

He loved them.

In the dark silence of the humid motel room, John Winchester lay staring out the open window and up at the sparkling stars as a comforting warmth filled his heart.