Set basically anytime after Provenance, when the brothers again meet up with John to do some hunting together.

Reality of a One Night Stand

Chapter One - Perceptions

"Where's your brother?" John asked as Sam returned to the motel room alone.

"Dean got himself a hookup. Another one night stand to add to his collection." Sam replied in his superior tone.

"What's with the attitude, Sam? Since when do you get to pass judgment on your brother?"

"What are you saying Dad? You approve of him whoring himself around? With all the diseases out there it's a wonder he isn't on a permanent dose of penicillin." Sam replied with disgust.

He'd had a nasty fight with Dean. Another hurt, angry, blowout fight over Dad, as usual. Sam had again bristled at Dean's blind obedience to a father who obviously had better things to do than spend time explaining himself to his sons. Sam was mad. Mad at Dean, mad at Dad, mad just for the hell of it, and his mouth was spouting words his mind hadn't even processed. He was mad and hurt and he didn't care one iota if he was being fair to his brother or not.

Problem was John did.

"So Sam, when did you become so judgmental? Or were you always and I just didn't notice? I mean….I know you've always judged me, always thought I fell short of what you expected, what you wanted. But your brother? How can you judge him?"

"Might have known you'd defend him. Gotta protect your perfect son."

John stood staring at his youngest in disbelief, debating with himself whether to try and reason with him one more time. Deciding whether to give him the explanations he always claimed he wanted, or just walk away and leave Sam to his twisted perceptions.

He really didn't want to get into this right now at this particular point in time. He was too damn weary for another confrontation with Sam, still….damn it all! Sam needed to see the truth for once. It was about time he understood his brother and since Dean would never confront Sam on this, he knew it was up to him to defend his oldest against these accusations.

John took a deep breath to settle his anger and calm his frustration. If he was going to do this, he needed to be clear headed. He needed to make sure he said all he wanted to say, cause he sure as hell wasn't gonna have this conversation again. After a reflective moment to gather his thoughts he continued.

"Sam, do you remember your Senior Prom?" John calmly inquired.

"Yeah, Dad I do. So what's that got to do with anything?" Sam defiantly answered.

"Remember Dean waxed the Impala, spent all day detailing her, and then he let you drive his baby. He gave you the money from his poker winnings to take your date out to eat. You had a good time, didn't you? A real normal time, just like you always wanted."

"Yeah, so?"

"So, you remember when Dean went to his Senior Prom? For the first time in his life, I actually encouraged him to go, must've been that head injury I suffered that month. For once in his life, he was going to do a normal teenage thing."

"He went to his Senior Prom? I don't remember that."

"Well smart guy, you don't remember cause he never made it to the Prom. He made the date with Stacy, had the tux and everything. I think he was actually excited about it. He always liked Stacy." John stopped, distracted in a far away memory, a memory that seemed at first pleasant, but soon descended into painful the more he thought about it.

He looked at Sam with moisture in his eyes, a pain lingering there that Sam had never before noticed. He took a quick ragged breath before continuing, "Then that couple in Pittsburgh called cause a poltergeist had ripped apart their house. They had a daughter, a high school senior, who disappeared into the thing. They called frantic, begging for help. I was chasing down that black dog down south, so Dean went up to help….

He shouldn't have done it. He wasn't experienced enough and it was too big a job for just him, but they needed help so he went. He saved that girl so she could go to her Senior Prom….

He ended up in the hospital and we almost lost him. Missed the prom and never once complained. Never once questioned whether he made the right choice or not. That's the man I know. The man who always puts everyone else's needs before his own. The man who never asks anything for himself. Hell, I don't think Dean even realizes he deserves something for himself, and believe me, I know I'm to blame for that."

John sat down on the bed, exhausted from his candor. His hands cupped over his eyes as he inhaled deeply, facing his son's sacrifices for the first time himself, regretting all the times he had let Dean sacrifice himself for others, all the times he himself had expected it, demanded it.

"Dad, I didn't know." Sam weakly admitted.

"Yeah, well Sam you should be the last one to put him down. He's given up more for you than anyone. He took on the responsibility of raising you. You think I wasn't the father you deserved? Well, you're probably right. I certainly wasn't the father Dean deserved.

He grew up way too fast, and I let him cause I needed him. I couldn't afford to let him be a child, so I didn't. Maybe you think you didn't have the childhood you wanted, but you certainly got the best childhood Dean could give you under the circumstances.

He always did his damnest to give you everything he never had and never even asked for. That's who your brother is."

Sam stood staring, dumbstruck at John's heartfelt confessions. His dad had never in his life been this forthcoming. He silently wondered what had possessed him to reveal all this now. Leery that the mood might shatter and end his dad's epiphany, he patiently waited, not wanting to disturb the man's train of thought, lest he clam up again and never reveal what he was on the brink of disclosing.

"I knew a man in the Marines, never married, always said the Core was his wife. He spent his entire life serving his country and visiting hookers when the pressure got to be too much.

We got drunk once and he told me how lonely he was, how he wished he had a wife and kids, but he always had this overwhelming sense of duty. Whenever he tried to have a relationship, she always knew she rated second and it just never happened for him.

You don't think your brother would want one woman to come home to at night? You don't think he'd want his own family? You don't consider that I'd want that for him?" John stopped, overcome by regret and the immense weight of his guilt.

"Dad, I never realized." Sam tried to comfort his dad, tried but couldn't quite bring himself to actually touch him, the miles of estrangement still imposing an insurmountable gulf between them.

"The worst part of it is I always thought Dean was better off without any entanglements. If he never fell in love, he would never be hurt like I was. He would never experience losing his great love. I thought I was protecting him. What the hell did I know?

When he met Cassie, he changed. Two weeks was all it took for him to fall in love and then lose that love. I never saw him happier than he was with her, still I couldn't let them be. I always thought I knew best. He was a hunter and the road was his home. I told him to leave her behind, to move on.

My perfect son, the obedient soldier you always see, hesitated. He wanted her, wanted her for himself, wanted something for himself for the first time in his life….

Ultimately, I won out. They broke up and he was back riding shotgun for me. My big victory.

It wasn't 'til much later that I realized what I'd done. I denied my son the chance to know the happiness he could have had. I denied him the happiness I found with your mom. I had six years with Mary and I wouldn't let go of one day of that, even knowing all the pain that came when she was taken away.

Dean never got that chance. He could have tried with Cassie, but I wouldn't let him. I needed him and he lost her. He sacrificed his hope of a real love because of this damn job, and I let him do it. Hell, I demanded it."

"Dad, I'm sorry. You're right. I'm sorry I put Dean down. I didn't mean it. I was just mad, you know?" Sam replied, implicitly asking for forgiveness with his tone.

"Sam, you know what today is?"

"Monday, Oct. 16th?"

"Cassie's birthday. Their first date was on her birthday. Your brother had barely two weeks. Two weeks of normal, before this job stole the rest of his life. I wish you could've seen him then. I barely recognized him. He actually smiled and laughed those two weeks."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there. I did meet Cassie; I think he still loves her."

John looked up, momentarily locking eyes with Sam, eyes filling up with tears of bitter regret. Sam gasped from the sight. He had never before seen such emotion welling up in his strong, rigid father. He could barely believe his eyes.

"Well, that just makes it all the harder doesn't it? I had your mom for six years; you had Jessica for two years. Can you imagine what it would feel like to only have two weeks?"

They both sat in silence, contemplating that tragedy, before Sam finally spoke.

"Dad, you remembered Cassie's birthday?" He softly asked with amazement.

"No. I overheard Dean call Cassie this morning to wish her a Happy Birthday. Dean remembered. I could see it in his eyes all day: the regret, the broken dreams, the lost possibilities. Dean may never have more than those two weeks and it breaks my heart, and it should break yours too.

I know your brother wants more than a one night stand, he just doesn't believe it's possible and what's worse, he doesn't believe he deserves it. And I've never done a damn thing to change his mind." John sighed.

"Dad, I'm sorry."

"Yeah, I'm sorry too. Dean risks his life every God damn day and if he needs to find comfort in a willing woman's arms then so be it. Really Sam, who is he hurting but himself?"


Next chapter, Dean's POV

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