Disclaimer: The characters of John, Dean and Sam belong to the studio to which we all owe a great debt of gratitude, without them coming up with the fabulous show; we wouldn't have anything to write about. Thankyou you marvellous people you, we LOVE you.

Author's note: Sam and Dean are aged six and ten (ten and a half Dean says sounding miffed) years old respectively in this particular story.

A Normal weekend

"Dad…."

"Yes Sam." John glanced up from his coffee to regard his youngest son.

Sam looked at him from across the kitchen table. He ran his little fingers across the scratched plastic surface a quizzical expression on his face.

"Dad, how come there are only O's in Spaghetti-O's." Sam looked mildly curious as he examined his breakfast.

John smiled at how close Sam's face was to his bowl. "I'm not really sure son, why do you ask?"

Dimples digged big holes in his baby cheeks as he laughed. "It would be cool if there was S's then they could be Sammy-O's"

Sam giggled and John reached over to ruffle his hair.

"Less contemplation more eating."

Sam nodded his shaggy head and picked up his fork, not having any idea what contemplation was, he just figured his Dad wanted him to finish his food. Anyway the sooner he finished his breakfast the sooner it would be school time and the sooner it was school time the sooner he would be in library class, and the sooner he was in library class the sooner it would be lunchtime, and the sooner it was lunchtime the sooner it would be time to play T-ball and then it would be home time, and then Daddy would come and pick he and Dean up from school and then they would come back here and have dinner and then Daddy would read him a story and that was the best!

John looked up from the obituaries in the paper when Dean finally made an appearance at the kitchen table. Dean sat down silently in his chair and proceeded to pour himself a bowl of cornflakes. Unlike Sam who liked to play with his food for at least ten minutes before he ate a single bite, Dean wolfed down his food like a starved man and was therefore always finished before his brother. Even when Sam had been at the table for half an hour longer than he had.

John watched in a kind of morbid fascination as the entire contents of the bowl, followed by a tall glass of orange juice disappeared into Dean in three minutes flat.

Only after he'd finished eating did Dean raise his eyes to look at his Dad. When he noticed he was under close scrutiny Dean sat up straighter in his chair and tried to think about what he could be in trouble for.

John grinned at Dean's distress and stood to clear the plates. Sam hadn't finished but the Spaghetti was cold and starting to congeal. Anyway Sam lost interest in just about everything when Dean entered the room.

"Hey Dean, guess what I'm doing at school today?"

"Making boogers like yesterday."

"It wasn't boogers!" Sam tried unsuccessfully to stifle a giggle when he said a naughty word "It was slime."

"Whatever, same difference."

"Not the same."

John interrupted before the conversation turned into an argument. "What are you doing today Sam?" he asked grabbing a wash cloth and scrubbing the table… and Sam, clean of Spaghetti.

Sam beamed up at his father. "I'm going to be in a play."

Dean snorted in what was the child equivalent of contempt.

"A booger play?"

Sam swung a punch that Dean easily ducked, slipping out if his chair.

"Hey! No fighting in the house." Dean looked at him strangely.

"I mean 'No fighting at All!'" John corrected.

"What sort of play Sam?" He asked, giving Dean a reproving glare when he tried to make faces at Sam behind his back.

"I'm going to be a sheep." Sam said with a satisfied smile. "Baa baa BAAA"

Sam happily baa-ed his way around the kitchen while Dean helped his father get out the lunch stuff. A sandwich, peanut and jelly for Sam, turkey roll for Dean, a banana and a muffin went into each of the boys' lunchboxes which together with a drink of cordial was put into their school bags.

John then bundled his boys into coats, scarves, mittens, woolly hats, gave them a goodbye kiss (much to Dean's embarrassment) and drove them to school in the Impala. The boys may not have had a mum to microwave their underwear when it was cold, or a dog to play fetch with, or even one of them cool fluorescent lunchboxes, but they both felt secure in the knowledge that no kid had a Dad with a cooler car than they did.

While Sam spent the time between Library and Indoor T-ball perfecting his sheep sounds and Dean mastered the 8 times-tables, John was standing in the pouring rain watching an old house. The reason his boys were enjoying the frigid winter of Montana instead of playing on a Florida beach was a vengeful spirit he'd tracked into the area. He was fairly certain he'd killed it the previous night while his boys slept but he had to make sure that the thing was gone before they moved on.

John shivered as liquid ice dripped from his upturned collar down his spine. Maybe they could stay just until Sammy did his play. Sam always got upset when they moved towns and John didn't think he could handle a miserable sheep. He stood in the rain for maybe an hour before he came to the conclusion that the spirit must be dead. Anyway it's not as if anyone was going to break into that creepy old house when it was absolutely freezing out. Checking his watch John realised he was late in picking up the boys so he cranked up the heating and raced to the school, sliding to a stop on the ice out the front of the principles office.

John entered the office looking like hell. His face was blotchy with big red stains that perfectly matched the colour of his now swollen nose. He looked like friggin Rudolph. The secretary looked at him like he was about to hold her up, she was shaking for Gods sake. Her fears that the tall dark man was going to do her any harm seemed to disappear when a mop of brown hair wrapped itself around his leg.

"Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. I got to be sheep all day, it was so fun and then I asked the Miss MacKay if I could go and show Dean my costume and she said yes! Dean said I was a good brother because I got him out of Spanish class and it was sooo fun. Did you have fun today Daddy?"

John looked down at his son with bemusement. He must have got his energy from Mary because neither he nor Dean ever talked that fast.

"It was wet." John said simply, swinging his son up into the air. Sam giggled as he landed face first against his father's wet chest.

"Where is your brother?" John asked not really anxious. Dean always wore the protection amulet that Pastor Jim had given him and that should be enough to cover him at school.

As if he had heard his Dad's query Dean stomped round the corner and came face to face with his Dad. John didn't take any notice of the man standing next to his son, only to the extent that the guy had his hand on Dean's shoulder.

No-one touched his kids….ever.

The principle must have seen the hidden meaning in John Winchester's hard steel eyes because his hand slipped from Dean's shoulder as soon as John came fully into view.

John held out an arm and in an instant Dean was at his side, completely safe in his father's arms.

"Dad… I have"

John's voice broke in on his son's frightened apology "Tell me about it later okay, let's get out of here."

John sat sniffling in an armchair by the hearth in their rented house. Flames licked the pile of wood and kindling and the room was slowly filling with warm air. Having stripped himself of his wet clothing and changed into snug sweats and a long t-shirt John was gradually ridding himself of the chill in his bones. Unfortunately he could already feel a cold coming on. At least it was Friday. That meant he had two whole days before he had to take the boys to school again. He could mope about and get better by then couldn't he?

Dean sat cross-legged at the coffee table, his homework spread out in front of him in ordered piles. English on the left (Done), history in front of him and maths to the right. John knew Dean was putting off the maths until last. It wasn't that Dean wasn't good at maths, both his boys were very smart, but more the fact that Dean didn't like maths. And if Dean didn't like something it tended to end up shredded, or maybe set on fire, or in some cases shot with rock salt, he was like his dad in that way. John leaned over to see what his son was working on. Dean looked up at his dad, shrugged and chucked the completed history homework together with his English book into his bag. He looked forlornly up at John silently begging him not to make him do any maths. John laughed.

"Come on it can't be that bad."

Dean sighed and grabbed the sheet of paper and climbed up onto the arm of John's chair. John took the paper and scanned the page.

"The nine times tables?"

Dean nodded, looking for the world like a man sentenced to death.

John laughed again and pulled him down into his lap. "Okay here's a trick your mum taught me."

"Mum taught you?"

Smiling John leant down and whispered into Dean's ear "Can you keep a secret son?"

Dean nodded seriously and crossed his heart with his finger.

"Well, your old man didn't learn his times tables until he was 20"

Dean looked shocked… "No."

John threw back his head and laughed. "Yep. I dropped out of school when I was 15 and joined the army. I'm not stupid mind." Dean shook his head again fists curling to defend his dad against any insults. "I just didn't like school but when I met a pretty girl who offered to teach me. Well…. I was a lot more studious."

"Why were you more stoo… stoodious when you met mum?" Dean asked, honestly confused

"Studious, s-t-u-d-i-o-u-s. I was more studious because I liked your mum a lot, and she was real nice." Dean looked up at his Dad who had a sad, whimsical look on his face. "We were just kids… just kids." He mumbled to himself.

Dean shook John's arm, a little frightened by his dad's remembering.

"Dad you're being weird."

John swung his head around and stared into his firstborn's big green eyes.

"Weird? Who are you calling weird mister?" he tickled Dean's stomach and he tried in vain to escape from his dad's embrace.

Laughing Dean squirmed until John eventually relented.

"Anyway here's the trick. Hold up your hands."

Dean stuck up his hands promptly, spinning so he could see his Dad better.

"Okay so 1 times 9 is nine." John put down the finger on the end.

"Now 2 times 9 is eighteen." John raised the end finger and put down the one next to it. So one finger was up, the there was a gap and then there was eight left.

"See Dean? 1 then 8 is eighteen."
Dean studied his fingers for a minute 'so… 3 times 9 is" he put down the next finger "Twenty seven?"

John nodded his heart filling with fatherly pride.

Dean looked up in amazement "Wow Dad. Mum must have been really smart huh?"

John nodded again, grief taking pride's place in his soul. It should be her sitting here teaching him this. It should be her patching sore knees and elbow. It should be her…" a shudder ran through him as he tried to hold back tears. Five years and it still tore him up inside.

Dean scampered back to the coffee table and was busy putting down fingers and scribbling answers onto his sheet. John took a look at the mantle clock and stood up.

"Dean?" the boy looked up with a smile. "I'm going to check on Sam and then lie down for a bit, if I'm not up by six o'clock come and wake me okay" Dean nodded and John left the room.

Sticking his head into the boys' room John found Sam playing with his fire truck and stuffed elephants. Sam drove the red plastic truck around the room, crawling through the legs of the desk chair and under the desk. He stayed hidden in there for a minute and then the truck zoomed out of the 'cave' and disappeared under one of the beds. Then Sam plodded the green elephant out and shuffled across the room to the bed. That was when he noticed his dad.

"Hi daddy… do you want to play?"

Unable to resist his son's hopeful countenance John entered the room and dropped to his butt on the floor.

"What are we playing?" he asked praying it wasn't space invaders. Dean broke his arm last time Sammy wanted to be a spaceman.

Sam rose to his knees and waddled back to the desk. "This is the cave and this is where the elephants live. But the mean firemen want this cave for their secret Base of Operations so the Daddy elephant has to smoosh them."

"Smoosh them huh?"

Sam nodded very seriously, his long lashed battering together as he blinked up at his Dad.

"Sometimes you have to defend you own." Though John smiled and brushed the bangs out of Sam's eyes inside he was wondering what damage he'd already done to his kids. No 6 year old should have to know anything about 'smooshing' evil or defending their family. Deciding he really needed to sleep for a bit he gave up thinking heavy thoughts for the moment.

"Well how about the Daddy elephant just goes and finds a better cave?" John asked his face a mask of seriousness.

Sam seemed to contemplate this for a while.

"That could work." He eventually decided.

"Grab your elephants' then son 'cause I know the perfect place."

Sam plodded his elephant family over his sleeping dad's stomach and into the 'cave' John had made him out of pillows and blankets. They 'drank' water from a cup and then laid down to go to bed. Sam yawned himself, suddenly sleepy and crawled back across the bed to sit on his dad's legs. John woke startled for a moment before he noted Sam's sleepy face and opened his arms. Sam gratefully snuggled into the warmth and they both soon nodded off.

Dean opened the door to his father's room at six o'clock on the dot. The heavy wooden door swung open on creaky hinges. John refuses to fix the squeak because he says it gives him warning if someone is sneaking in on him. That was how Dean knew that something was wrong with his Dad. He should have woken up when Dean started to climb the stairs, if he was really tired maybe he wouldn't have woken up until he was outside the door, but Dad definitely shouldn't have slept through the squeak. Dean slowly edged into the room walking on tiptoes, his socked feet sliding across the floorboards silently. Dean saw Sammy lying on his belly, his head pressed up against Dad's shoulder. John's bristly cheek was resting gently on Sammy's forehead, they were both sleeping soundly.

"Dad…" Dean whispered softly.

John snorted in his sleep and Dean giggled.

"Dad… its 6 o'clock… you said to wake you." He spoke a little louder this time but John continued to slumber.

"DAD!!!" John sat up with a start is hand reaching for the pistol on his nightstand automatically. He'd switched off the safety and was half way out of bed when he spotted Dean standing right in front of him.

"What's wrong?" John asked sitting heavily back on the bed to fight off the swaying of the room. Dean watched in amazement when John dropped his head into his hands and let out a groan.

"Ehhhh" John swayed dangerously and was overtaken by powerful nausea.

"Dad?" Dean was in front of him in second small hands on his shoulder pushing him back onto his back.

"Lay down Dad"

John obeyed and eventually the room stopped swaying and the four Deans' he'd seen before merged into his one. Dean peered worriedly at his father wringing his hands in fear as he watched for any signs of immanent demise.

"I'll be okay in a minute. Don't worry it's just a cold."

Dean looked visibly relieved but his visage changed to one of disgust when he saw that his little brother hadn't even moved throughout the whole ordeal.

"Little tyke could sleep through a hurricane huh?" John asked when he saw the object of Dean's obvious disapproval.

Dean nodded... then smacked Sam on the butt.

Sam woke abruptly from a dream and shot Dean a glance that would have wounded anyone other than his brother. Anyway death glares loose a bit of their menace when shot by a six year old with tousled hair.

"What was that for?"

"Dad's sick."

Sam whipped his head around so fast John was afraid he'd pull something.

"Are you dying dad?" Sam asked fearfully.

"No baby, just a cold. I was stupid and was standing in the rain, that's all." He gathered Sam to his chest and held a hand out to Dean.

Dean shook his head and turned to face his sibling.

"What do you want for dinner Sammy?" Dean asked reverting to big brother mode now that dad was out of commission.

"Sammy-O's!!!" Sam tried to scamper out of bed but John grabbed an ankle and yanked him back.

"No Sammy-O's! I'll get something for us, just give me minute."

"No!" Dean said firmly. "You're sick and the only ways you'll get better is if you stay in bed." When John tried to protest Dean interrupted him "That's what you say when me or Sam is sick and we want to go out and play."

Stumped John couldn't think of a comeback. He was being mentally berated by a ten year old.

"Come and help me Sam."

Sam wriggled free of his father's half hearted hold on him and bounded out the door after his big brother.

"Just don't burn anything"

"What are we having Dean? Pizza? Pancakes? Sishushi?"

"Sushi" Dean corrected him pulling out a loaf of bread.

"We're having toast."

"Ohhhh… why can't we have chicken wings" Sam whined.

"Because I don't know how to make chicken wings, I know how to make toast."

Dean popped four slices into the toaster and stacked another four beside it. He then crossed to the fridge and got out the butter and some cheese slices.

"Get out the plates Sammy."

Sam scurried over to the cupboards under the sink and fished out three plates, none of them were the same size or pattern but that didn't matter.

Dean buttered the toast peeled the plastic off the cheese and put it on top and then he put on the next slices and repeated the process. Then he passed Sam a bottle of milk. "Take that up to Dad's room okay." Sam gently picked up the glass bottle and slowly inched his way out of the room. It would take him half an hour to climb the stairs with his cargo.

Sam arrived breathless at the door to his father's room and held up the bottle like it was a trophy. John grinned at took it off him, placing it on the bedside table. "How's it going down there?"

"Dean's making toasty cheese." Sam said with something akin to disgust.

John took Sam's little face in his big hands and turned it up so he was looking into Sam's eyes.

"You have very good brother Sam. You are very lucky to have him looking out for you."

Sam nodded his head.

"But I don't want toasty cheese."

John turned him around and gave him a gentle push toward the door.

"Go help your brother."

The boys carried the tray loaded with toast and glasses up the stairs and plopped it on their Dad's bed. John poured out three frosty glasses of milk and they dug in.

John ate every last crumb of his toast and most of Sam's too, even though he wasn't very hungry. Dean had gone to such trouble nothing was going to waste.

After they'd finished Sam begged for a story so John told them his favourite. The one about Queen Mary who was slain by the dragon but her King fought the dragon and their son's lived happily ever after. That night, like every night, John wished with all his heart that the fairytale would come true for his boys' sake.

Sam fell asleep soon after he'd got into his P.J's, curled up against John's side snoring softly. Dean sat comfortably on the other side of his dad, John's arm wrapped securely around his shoulder.

"What happened to make you upset at school today, Dean?" John asked suddenly remembering Dena's flushed face and embarrassed look upon being picked up from school.

"I got in trouble." Dean said simply, not meeting his father's eyes.

"What for?" John asked calmly.

"I hit a guy."

"What for?"

Dean cuddled further into his dad's chest.

"He made fun of Sam."

John remembered Sam's ecstatic ramblings about showing Dean his sheep costume.

"Oh"

Dean looked up, his green eyes dark. "Am I in trouble?" he didn't fear his father's wrath. He just wanted to know if what he did was wrong.

"No son, you did the right thing. Taking care of little brothers is what big brothers do, even if sometimes it's not much fun."

"I don't mind" he whispered patting Sam's hair gently.

John kissed him on the temple. And switched off the bedside lamp.

For one whole weekend the Winchester's were a normal family. On other less normal days, almost twenty years later John looked back on that quiet weekend with a smile on his face and a tear in his eyes.

"I do this for my boys."

Hey guys. What did you think? I wanted to explore John as a father but also show what the boys were like as kids. Did you like it? Hate it? Think I should be locked up somewhere (Don't answer this one Bec) Please let me know. Hit that wonderfully splendiferous purple button and review. Please.

Take care,

Keep on Ficcin'

Love Fi