No Place Like Home.
"When are we going home, dad?" Dean asks softly. It's the third time he asks since they started traveling, eyes wide and scared while keeping a hand over the tiny ones of Sammy.
It's also the third time he doesn't answer.
Dean hasn't let go of Sam since Mary died, and the one way the baby calms down without his mother's familiar warmth and smell is when Dean shushes him and half hums the lullabies Mary used to sang for him, the lullabies she barely had time to sing for Sam.
He has foregone of the brief older brother jealousy he had and now he clings to his baby brother as if he was the only thing certain in his life. Dean doesn't ask about Mary but instead wonders about home, and John knows that by home he also means her.
He keeps his hands in the wheel and the eyes over the road, and hears his boy sigh before he turns to look towards the sleeping baby.
"Dad, when are we going home?" Dean asks again, still sitting by the floor with the two toys the boys own, but he barely looks at him for a moment before he turns around running to half pick up his baby brother and make him turn, taking him away from the bathroom. Sammy is starting to crawl and Dean has to constantly run around to stop him from hurting himself.
John is hurting after chasing from a werewolf where he barely managed to get his side bitten off, and the sight of that boy (eyes like Dean, and he had been barely more than a kid, barely around fifteen) after the silver bullet had pierced through him is almost enough to move the ghost of Mary's body burning.
They can't get to stay long in one place. Social Service focus on them if they do, focus on Dean's baggy clothes or in Sam's weird behavior for a toddler. They'd start doing questions if they stay for more than a month in one place, so that means that he's the one that has to teach Dean how to read, how to write, and those lessons aren't too frequent at the time being. It's much more important to tell his son that he must stay in their room always when he's not with him and to never ever go out in the dark alone.
He feels Dean's eyes on him from time to time, even when Dean is going 'No, Sammy, you can't touch that' or 'No, Sammy, here!', but he doesn't turn to see him, and instead he focuses over the sharp tang of pain.
"When are we going home, dad?" Dean asks just after the sunset once. They're in a small town near Idaho, but there are rumors of there being a witch near. Dean is slowly forcing himself to stop being afraid and he makes questions about what's real and what's not with increasing frequency. Sammy's starting to wobble on his own two feet, though he wasn't there to see his first steps. Dean was, and he was beaming when he told him that Sammy hadn't cried at all when he fell down, just moved to try again.
It's been a little more than a year that they've been traveling, a little more than twelve months since Mary died and he knows he should answer his son, that he should tell him once and for all the complete truth about their life.
"Dean…" he starts but stops himself, because he doesn't know how to tell his son that they don't have a home anymore, that know they're going to have to get used to motel rooms and fast food and knowing that sometimes the darkness will be staring back right at them.
"It's okay, dad." Dean says softly and yawns, exhausted after stumbling his way through Snow White and the Seven Ninja Turtles as a story for Sam to sleep. Dean's blond curls are shorter now and his eyes seem steadier, much more focused than any five years old should. It makes him both proud and aching, but he has gotten used to the feeling. "I know we're not going back home. I was just asking anyway."
John gives a tight smile when Dean yawns him a goodnight, crawling his way back to the bed he shares with Sam. Within five minutes of shifting around he's deeply asleep, but one of his hands is taking hold of one of Sam's small ones.
John leans to kiss each of his boys' forehead and, after taking a deep breath, goes out to hunt.