A Good Son

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the world of Eric Kripke's Supernatural

A/N: This story takes place between Everybody Loves a Clown and Bloodlust from Season 2

Bobby walked into his living room and sighed. Once again, Sam was already awake and gone. It had been less than a month since John Winchester had died. Bobby had tried to get the brothers to talk but a maze had grown around them, watered by their father's blood. Neither boy was dealing with John's death. Each claimed he was fine. Each was trying to handle it on his own. Each stood on a precipice poised to fall. He wanted to smack them. Didn't they realize they drew their strength from each other? Sam knew but Dean had become so distant that Sam had stopped trying to reach out. Then the nightmares began. He turned inward instead, eating away at himself. At least he was eating something, Bobby wasn't the greatest cook but surely Sam could choke down more than he had been.

Bobby had first met them when they were young and John had first brought them by. Dean had always watched out for Sam; Sam knew his brother would do anything for him. That had been proven time and again as monster after creature after terror had threatened Sam only to be destroyed by Dean. Now, the only thing that drew Dean's attention was his Impala. Yeah, if Sam had been in physical danger then Dean would react, but he couldn't see Sam's silence as being dangerous. Instead, it was something to be desired. Something was bugging the older boy. Something beyond John's death. He wouldn't open up or allow the subject to be broached. He just walked away.

There was a glimmer in his eyes now, a fire, banked, that could become an inferno at the slightest wind. It had been building while he was rebuilding his beloved car. Bobby was afraid of who might be engulfed. He prayed it would be something evil rather than either Winchester.

England, Bobby's new mastiff puppy, whined and pushed his paws into Bobby's thighs. He wanted out and then breakfast, in that order if you please. Bobby smiled at the pup and opened the door to let him run outside. That possessed girl, Meg, had killed his Rumsfeld. Bobby needed a special guard dog and had searched for another. A buddy of his, Paul, had recommended England's breeder, a man not unfamiliar with the supernatural. Fine. Just so the silly thing learned fast. With the Winchesters living with him, Bobby was just a little nervous about certain visitors. He was picky about who was invited in. Speaking of houseguests, he'd better start the coffee.

Bobby looked up as Dean wandered into the kitchen. That boy had either the most impeccable nose or the greatest luck when it came to coffee. He always appeared just as the pot finished percolating. "You doing anything right now?" Dean asked softly as he approached the table. He'd had a bad night. He snorted softly. Normally, it was Sam who had all the nightmares. Maybe he'd infected Dean. Dean's whole life had turned into a nightmare. His father, his rock, was gone and Dean's world had crumbled. The other third of him, Sammy, was still there but John's absence left a hole never to be filled. Dean could not get his father's words out of his mind. He wished John had never entrusted his secret to him. Sam would be furious with Dean for not being honest with him. Dean sank into a chair and buried his face in his hands. He'd made Sam promise that he would not risk himself. He needed Sam whole and with his news, Sam would be broken. Dean knew Bobby was watching him; his friend wanted to help. But there was none to help either Winchester. The only ones who could have helped with this had been John and maybe Pastor Jim.

"I was going to go through some books with Sam looking for rituals later this morning. Why?" Bobby was shocked when Dean lifted his head. "You look as bad as Sam." Dean's eyes had dark hollows below them, his face wan and pinched. Bobby wasn't sure what it was about but it was frightening. Dean had always maintained his composure before.

"I really need to talk, Bobby, and I can't talk to Sam about this. . .not yet anyways."

Both men had been staying at Bobby's off and on since the accident and John's death. They would leave for a quick hunt but until the Impala was repaired, they stayed close to his salvage yard. They were healing, physically at least; the scar on Dean's forehead was fading but Sam still looked worn down. A few nights ago, Dean and Bobby had learned that Sam was suffering from his nightmares again. Dean had tried to help him but had been pushed away. Now, it seemed Dean needed the help.

"Sure, Sam is in the office digging through the stacks."

"Can we go outside?"

Bobby was surprised. To his knowledge, Dean had never kept anything vital from Sam. It seemed to be the other way around. England raced around them, first running ahead then lagging behind before finally trying to trip the two men. "Git mutt!" Bobby missed Rumsfeld; that dog had been his companion for years. It would take a while before England would be as good a guard dog. Lots of training. Bobby followed as Dean wove through the scattered wrecks in the yard, hands curling around his cup of coffee seeking a bit of warmth against the early morning chill.

Dean didn't seem to feel the cold, finally stopping when they reached the Impala. He didn't know how to start. He cleared his throat a few times. "I'm not sure how much longer I can take this!" he finally blurted out.

Take what? His father's death? Their lives spent being hunters? Sam's silence and subsequent retreat? The demon still out there? What?

"Sam asked if Dad told me anything before he died. I said no. I lied." Dean looked over to see Bobby's reaction before continuing. "I know Dad had a lot of secrets but this one. . .this one he ordered me to keep to myself. I can't do that! It's. . .I think Sam needs to know. Our lives might one day depend on him knowing." He was torn. John's secret. His secret. One needed to be set free soon. Which one would it be? Or would both finally escape from his iron control?

Bobby watched Dean whose green eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. Whatever John's secret was, it was tearing the boy apart. Heaving a sigh, Bobby wasn't surprised. One of John's worst traits was his need for secrecy. He'd alienated many hunters with that trait. Only those who truly knew him, Pastor Jim, Caleb, Bobby, Joshua, overlooked that and saw the man beneath. The fact that he'd burdened his eldest with such an obviously painful secret before he died irritated Bobby. He wondered if either boy had figured out what John had probably done. From what Sam had described, Dean had been at death's door before recovering miraculously. Bobby admired John's sacrifice though he regretted the need. He'd thought the man had been so focused on destroying the demon that he'd left all of his humanity behind. John had proven a lot of people wrong with his actions. Stop woolgathering. "Do you want to tell it to me?"

"No. This. . .it's going to be hard enough to tell Sam. It has something to do with the demon. . .Mom's death. . .other things. I'm still not sure if I should tell him."

"Do you want some advice?" At Dean's nod, he continued. "It sounds as if it's bugging you a lot. You might say something. . . blurt something. . .hint at something when you don't mean to. Sam's not dumb. He'll put two and two together and then you'll really have a mess on your hands. If it's that important, tell him. Don't wait too long though. The longer you keep it to yourself, the more upset and pissed off he'll be. It will seem like you didn't trust him with the info. Just like your daddy didn't trust either of you. You didn't have a hint of this before he told you?"

"No. I think this is why Dad vanished last October. He said he was trying to find the truth, that we were all in danger. I wish he'd told us as soon as he found out. He had the chance to tell Sam in Manning while I was at the morgue. I guess he didn't want to rattle him but still. . ."

"You wish you didn't have to be the one to tell him." Bobby squeezed Dean's shoulder in silent sympathy.

"I wish it wasn't true!" Dean broke away and slammed his fists against the car's hood. He knew he was close to losing it. Any second he'd blurt it out to Bobby and then there would truly be hell to pay. Dean had already decided that if he told Sam, it would be up to Sam to tell anyone else. But that boy was so trusting; sometimes he couldn't keep his mouth shut, even when silence was vital. Sam was sometimes such an innocent when it came to people. Both secrets burned in the pit of his stomach. One was destroying him and the other would destroy Sam. "Sam's driving me nuts wanting to talk about all this. Like you said, I'm afraid I'll say too much. Can't he understand I don't want to talk? I don't need to talk!"

"Who are you trying to convince, Dean? Me or you?" Bobby was dismayed. After over ten years of hunting and researching, he understood the thoughts that got trapped inside. Dean was young but he'd hunted most of his life. He'd seen things, done things that most people only had nightmares about. The past few weeks had stretched him to the breaking point. Dean had asked to borrow the arc welder a few weeks ago. Bobby hadn't asked but Sam had told him about the damage to the Impala's trunk. Sam was spiraling downward as well. Bobby had seen the boy wake from a nightmare. Jim, Caleb, and Bobby had all learned about Sam's nightmares. Dean had talked to Jim often after Jessica's death. Since John wouldn't answer the phone, Dean went to the next best father figure for advice. Bobby had tried to bring Sam out of his shell after the accident; their love of old texts being a common ground. He hadn't had any success. "I don't know what to tell you, Dean. Why didn't you tell Sam when he asked?"

"Dad gave me an order." Sam's taunt about being a "good little soldier" came back and haunted Dean. Why hadn't he confessed then? The truth was, he was scared. He'd taken care of Sam since he was an infant. With John dead, Sam was all he had. If Sam left. . .Dean would be alone. But if he wasn't prepared, he might leave him the way Dad had left them both. Permanently. Dean had been proud of being a good son. He was proud of being an awesome brother. Now he could not be both; the two could no longer be synonymous.

"Dean, all I know is that you need to have trust between the two of you if you're going to continue hunting together and searching for the demon. That trust is going to take a big hit when you tell Sam about whatever this thing is about. You need to decide how big that hit will be. You seem really close to breaking and talking about it. He'll find out and when he does, you know how explosive he can be."

"Yeah. He always exploded against Dad. He's never really been that pissed off at me. I'm afraid of his reaction, of him leaving." God, help me, he thought. I think I might be afraid of Sam. He shook his head to dispel those thoughts. He had raised Sam. He knew that boy didn't have a mean bone in his body, never towards Dean. But people can be changed. That demon had plans and it had proven what it would do to achieve its purpose. Mom and Jessica had already paid. But no matter what, Dean would stand between his brother and whatever wanted to destroy him. Dean would never give up on Sam. He just hoped Sam stayed close so he could protect him. "Thanks, Bobby. I need to think some more about this. I've got some stuff to do here. Guess I'll get started."

Bobby knew a dismissal when he heard one. Dean really couldn't do much on the Impala until those parts showed up. He just needed a chance to think. He nodded at Dean and headed back to the house. Sam and those books awaited him. He only hoped the Winchesters would be able to get themselves sorted out and soon. He'd said it before; there was a war coming and they were smack dab in the middle of it. They had learned to be a team over the past year; they needed to find that balance again. Their side needed Sam and Dean. Or evil would win.