This is a companion piece to Shattered, which was Dean's breakdown after the crash in Devil's Trap. Several readers wanted to know a more definitive answer as to what happens to Dean. This is told from John's POV as he lay in his coma, remembering his life and contemplating his possible death.

All the King's Men

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king's horses and all the king's men

Couldn't put Humpty together again.

When the semi hit, John was filled with feelings of rage, disappointment and defeat. It all could have been over if his youngest had just fulfilled his destiny and pulled the trigger. At long last, the Demon would have been dead, and Mary and Jessica and countless others it had savagely killed would have been avenged. His own death would have been a small price to pay for the vengeance he had waited twenty-three years for. Why did Sam hesitate? Why did he disobey a direct order?

'I'm surprised at you Sammy. Why didn't you kill it? I thought we saw eye to eye on this? Killing this Demon comes first, before me, before everything."

"No Sir, not before everything."

What the hell does that mean?

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John welcomed the darkness, the stillness, and the emptiness that finally settled over him as he lay in the twisted wreckage. Then his descent into peaceful slumber was rudely interrupted by shouting, pulling and prodding as he felt his broken body being lifted out of the mangled car. He prayed all his suffering would soon be over when he felt the life drain from his body, but he was not to be so fortunate. Human hands pounded his sore chest, shocking his heart back amongst the living. Damn them all.

His fragmented mind was weary from all the years of fighting and turmoil and he felt himself running from his torment, falling blissfully into a deep, comforting oblivion. He no longer wanted to continue amid all the anguish that had consumed him since he lost the love of his life, so he tightly closed his eyes and refused to open them.

He'd show them all that he was in control of his own destiny. He'd had enough, so with the same stubbornness he had always possessed, he checked himself out of this life. They could keep his body hooked up to all the damn machines they wanted, he was outta here.

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"Hey, Dad. It's me. Sorry I haven't been by in a while. I needed time…..to sort out ….you know….what happened. I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for saving me. I know you did. You pushed that Demon down and you stopped it. You saved me and you saved Sam."

Dean was with him now, he could feel his presence. God, he was going to miss his boys. He loved them so much and had lost so much precious time with them; time stolen by that Demon and his own quest to destroy it. His sons had learned everything he had to teach them. They were strong, brave, and capable. Sam was right, they were men now and no longer needed him. They would be fine, they had each other. He had given his all to them and could offer them nothing more.

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"Hey, Dean."

"Daddy!"

"Hey buddy, so what do ya think? You think Sammy's ready to toss around a football yet?"

"No Daddy."

His firstborn was everything a man could hope for in a son. He was the spitting image of his beautiful wife, both in looks and temperament. He was bright and inquisitive. He was kind and compassionate. He was fun loving and devilment in the making. He was a complete bundle of everything that was good and true. He was the embodiment of all the love John had finally found with his one true love, his Mary.

John had not thought it possible to find any more happiness than had already encompassed their small family, and then Sam was born, and the love and pride he had in his precious family had grown exponentially. Dean's embrace of his new baby brother had made him cry tears of joy on more than one occasion.

Dean's heart was infinite, and he drew Sammy into his inner circle and treasured him as the 'best baby brother of all time'. Dean was so young and innocent, yet he had the empathy of an old soul. He always seemed to know intuitively when Sam needed something. He knew if he was hungry, tired, and yes, he always knew as soon as the diaper needed changing.

Sam was Dean's world from the very beginning. He embraced his role as big brother, spending hours holding his baby brother and playing games with him, all the while whispering tender words of love and support. John was thankful his boys had started out their young lives with such a strong bond, and he knew they would always be there for each other, brothers united as one 'til the end of time itself.

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"I'm proud of you. Sam and I, we can get pretty obsessed, but you. You watch out for this family, you always have."

"Thanks." Dean replied, looking hesitant, like he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.

Why doesn't Dean believe? I've always been proud of him. He has always taken care of his family. Dean has always put the family's needs first, above his own. I know that, I've seen it over and over again. Dean is the most selfless person I have ever known, except for maybe Mary.

"He'd be furious that I wasted a bullet. He wouldn't be proud of me, he'd tear me a new one. You're not my dad. I know my dad better than anyone, and you're not him."

You saved your brother's life; you had to use a bullet! What other choice did you have? Why would you think I wouldn't understand? I used a bullet to save Sam from those vampires, so why would you think I'd be furious with you?

You were right though, it wasn't your dad, but your reasons were way off. Your intuition has always been dead on, kinda like a sixth sense. You have the best hunter instincts I've ever seen.

Dean, I respect your judgement, I respect your skills, I am proud of you, what man wouldn't be? Don't you know that?

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"This is never the life that I wanted for you."

Dean hit the ball off of the t-ball stand and ran for first base. John jumped to his feet screaming his support for his son. Mary just smiled as the pride on Dean's face showed all the way into the stands. Moments like this were the true joy of their lives.

After the game they went for pizza and Dean declared he was going to play professional baseball when he grew up. His coach told him he had natural ability and he loved baseball more than anything, well anything except his family. John reminded him that it takes a lot of hard work, not just natural ability, but if Dean wanted it, there was nothing that could stop him from his dream.

John made a pact with Dean that night; they would practice every day before dinner. Then John grinned when he declared he would be the proudest Dad in the whole wide world when Dean hits the winning home run in the World Series. Dean just beamed at the thought.

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"Let him go, or I swear to God."

"Listen, you mind just getting this over with, cause I can't stand the monologuing."

Dean was always bold, strong and fearless. He would march into hell to protect his brother and not even bother to pack sun block. He was invincible when he went into protective mode, and he was always ready to protect his brother. Sam was in capable hands. His boys were men now, they no longer needed him. They were fine on their own; they had proven that numerous times over the past year. They were united together, and nothing could ever tear them apart.

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"You fight and you fight for this family, but the truth is they don't need you, not like you need them. Sam, he's clearly John's favorite, even when they fight, its more concern than he's ever shown you."

Well no need to refute that! Obviously a big fat lie and Dean knows it. This family would have fallen apart long ago if not for Dean's tenacious determination to keep us together. It still amazes me how strong he was when Mary died. I was the one who was losing it, but all I need do was look in Dean's eyes to know we were going to make it. It sure as hell wasn't easy, but we made it together. Dean saw to it.

As for favorites, a father doesn't have favorites. But if I did, well Dean was always the easy one, never gave us any trouble, no denying that. As for Sam, he just demanded attention, always fighting me, questioning everything, forcing me to spend time explaining and cajoling him. I love both my sons, what is it they say, equally but differently. Sam could always make my blood boil, but Dean, well; Dean is the pride and joy of my life, always has been. He knows that.

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"I'll bet you're real proud of your kids too. Oh wait, I forgot, I wasted them."

Dean never did know how to back down; it's just not in his nature. He would taunt the devil himself, if it would draw attention away from his brother and focus evil's wrath on him. Even as I realized the danger Dean had just put himself in, I felt immeasurable pride in my son's guts. He is braver than I could ever hope to be.

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"Dad, Dad don't you let it kill me. Dad, please. Dad………."

"Stop. Stop it."

John didn't want to think about this. This memory hurt more than any of the others. This is the memory that filled him with soul shredding bitter regret. He could feel the Demon's claws invisibly ripping Dean's chest open and he could taste the blood as his son stood bleeding to death from his own inaction, and his gut twisted from the agony of it all. The rasp of his son's screams still jarred him even now in his current slumber.

He had never seen terror like the terror he saw in Dean's eyes in that moment. Not concern for his own life, but terror for his family, and for Sam. In that horrific instant, Dean knew they were losing this battle and the end was near, but the thought of losing his own life was secondary to his family disappearing. Damn, what a remarkable man.

The look of desperate hope, of complete trust and belief in the power of his dad's love, had shown through Dean's tortured eyes and reached deep within John's possessed body to stir his dad to action. He would overcome this Demon's control based solely on Dean's infinite belief in him.

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"No Sam. I want to stop losing people we love. I want you to go back to school. I want Dean to have a home. I want Mary alive. I just want this to be over."

"I want my life back."

"Daddy, can we take Sammy on a picnic? Mommy says she'll make sandwiches. Huh Daddy, can we?" Dean was so enthused; he got a thrill out of every little outing they undertook.

Money was tight, and John dreamed of taking his boys to Disneyland and Legoland once they were old enough. He had already started saving for the trip. In the meantime, Dean was content with any time his parents spent with him, and they delighted in spending as much time as possible with their wonder child.

The food had all been eaten and the spread cleared when John grabbed his oldest and proceeded to torture him with his fingers on his stomach. Dean screamed and rolled on the ground as his dad tickled him. His dad released him and he jumped to his feet running to his mom for protection, laughing uncontrollably, hiding behind her as his dad came to grab him once more. His laugh was infectious; John had never heard a sound as sweet and reassuring. What happened to that laugh? When was the last time he heard Dean laugh?

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"I've been waiting a long time for this fight. Now it's here and I'm not going to be in it. It's up to you boys now. It's your fight. You finish this, you finish what I started. You understand?"

John's thoughts became more scattered and the images blurred into a hazy fog as he felt himself releasing from this world, finally free to rejoin his Mary, finally free of his burden. His vengeance incomplete, but even that could no longer hold him to this world. His sons would have to carry on, they would have to follow through and avenge their mom and Jess. They would now have to watch over and protect each other.

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"Dad, I need you to wake up. OK? You need to help take care of Sammy cause I don't know….I don't know how much longer I can do this, you know? I try so hard to be strong, but I feel the cracks growing and sometimes I think I'm just gonna shatter."

Who is this talking? This can't be Dean. Dean doesn't need anyone; he's the strongest of us all. Still, his voice sounds so despondent, so scared, so fragile and confused. John needn't worry about him. Dean was fine, Dean was always fine. He was mature beyond his years: strong, steady and sure.

Now Sam, he worried about. The Demon wanted him, even stalked him, and Sam wasn't as strong a warrior as Dean, maybe because he didn't have that drive, that incentive like his oldest had. Dean had always taken on the responsibility of protecting Sammy, even before that night.

Dean was always single-mindedly focused on his goal of protecting Sammy and defeating evil. John knew he could count on him to finish this business. Sam wanted a normal life and that was his one true weakness: his failure to see his true destiny. Denial could sure be a bitch.

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"Dad, I don't want to disappoint you. I don't want to let Sammy down. I just can't do this anymore Dad. So I need you to wake up, I need you to take the responsibility back, cause I just….. I just can't keep doing this. It's just too hard. Please Dad, wake up. Please. You did it before; I need you to do it now. Please."

Dean has never disappointed me, ever. He has never let his brother down; he's always been there, taking care of his brother, taking care of his family. What is he talking about? I feel him holding my hand, tight, desperate, and wet. Wet? Tears? My son doesn't cry. Does he?

What is he asking me? Dean never asks for anything, he's the easy one. Never demanded any time, effort or worry. Always my strong, self-reliant son. When did he become breakable? Why couldn't I see? Why didn't he show me? Dean, I'm sorry, I didn't know. Don't you break son, don't you do it. We're gonna make it. We're a family and you've always kept this family together.

"I think we should do this together. We're stronger as a family, Dad. We just are. You know it."

John squeezed Dean's hand, just a subtle, soft squeeze to let him know he heard, and he was coming. John Winchester was damn stubborn, and sometimes it takes a hard slap upside the head to make him see what's been right in front of him the whole time.

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"Dad. Promise me something. This thing goes south, just get the hell out. Don't get yourself killed; you're no good to us dead."

John never saw Dean's pain before, maybe he was too consumed with his own. He now knew Dean was not just the fearless, cocky warrior he showed the world. Sometimes a scared, broken, four year old boy still lived beneath the bold exterior of bravado and determination Dean projected, and that boy needed his dad.

He had thought that child disappeared a long time ago. When did he reappear?

John took a breath on his own and it felt good. He once more had a purpose in life, he still had a job to do, his son needed him and he would be damned if he would desert him before his needs were met. He loved and missed Mary and wanted nothing more than to be with her again, but not yet. He still had work to do, his son still needed him.

"But I guess we are stronger as a family. So, we go after this damn thing together."

John tentatively opened his eyes, grimacing at the bright lights that almost blinded him, adjusting until he could see his son there beside him. Dean slowly looked up, bolstered by the soft squeeze to his hand, and John looked into the soulful eyes of despair. For once John saw all the pain and torment that festered in his son's tortured psyche, before Dean's eyes filled with sweet relief to have his dad back, to know his dad had once more answered his prayers. In that instant John saw the pain momentarily pushed aside, as hope once again came to reclaim Dean's soul.

A hesitant smile crossed Dean's lips as he felt years of pressure release off of his strong, but weary shoulders. His eyes were now moist with tears of joy as he lay his head down on his dad's chest to feel the steady rhythm of his breathing. John willed his arm to move and placed his hand at Dean's head, softly stroking his son's hair.

All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again, but Dean had John Winchester again and that was the piece he'd been missing.

The End

OK, well I hope that is a satisfactory resolution. Thanks so much for reading. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. I put my main story Valentine, Texas on hold just to spend hours working on this story, so please tell me what you think, was it worth my time? I do so appreciate hearing your comments.

Disclaimer: No connection to Supernatural or the boys. Darn it all! All quotes belong to the show Supernatural or my previous story, Shattered. Thanks to the talented real writers at Supernatural for providing such amazing material.