Disclaimer: The Supernatural universe isn't mine, but I spend enough time there, ya know?

Pride and Joy

John woke with a slight hangover, thirsty with a headache. His bedroom door was being pushed silently open. He blinked the crust from his eyes and looked down at his three-year-old son, who was drowning in a threadbare t-shirt that used to be John's.

Sam scampered over to the side of the bed, peering cheerfully over the rumpled bedsheets. John couldn't help smiling at the dimpled cheeks.

"Shhh. Dean'z sleeping," Sam cautioned with an exaggerated whisper, putting a chubby finger to his lips.

John raised a sardonic eyebrow as Sam attempted to climb into the bed, reaching out a hand to steady him when the balance looked precarious. Sam fell easily into his father's firm embrace, resting his shaggy curls on John's chest and breathing contentedly.

John planted a kiss to the boy's head, breathing in the smell of shampoo and little boy. He grinned as Sam squirmed impatiently in his arms and loosened his grip so that Sam could turn to look at him with sparkling eyes.

"Are you being a nuisance?" He asked with a slight tease in his voice.

"No. I'm being a lion," Sam answered reasonably, demonstrating his roar and popping onto all fours. "Rarrr. Rarrr."

John snorted, filled with love, eyes dancing.

Sammy adopted a deliberate prowl, growling playfully, crouching to pounce. John was ready for him when he hurtled forward. He caught the cub easily and used his much bigger paw to flip Sam onto his back and tickle the exposed underbelly. Sam shrieked, batting at the assaulting hand and sinking into the pillows. John wrestled him gently, laughing when Sam threw his warm baby weight into him once again. He flipped Sam a few more times, until the munchkin was puffing with exertion and laughing breathlessly.

Finally, Sam melted over John's chest, chubby limbs splayed in a carefree hug as he caught his breath. John patted Sammy's back gently, adjusting a little to glance over at the clock. It was about a quarter till 9 and he was still thirsty, still had a headache, still had a job to research, but he was smiling like an idiot. He had to admit, Sam made a good lion.

John's mind wandered to logistics; he used his free hand to flip open his cell to see if he had any messages and was about to insist on getting up when his older son appeared in the door way.

Sammy flailed, pushing himself upright and using a chubby fist to brush his shaggy mane out of his eyes. "Dean! Daddy and I were playing!" He announced.

The seven year old caught John's eye, and the father saw puzzled gratification there. Hmmm… guess I don't do this often enough, John thought. He didn't want Dean so surprised when he showed affection.

"Happy Birthday, Dad," Dean said, smiling shyly.

"Thanks, Dean," John said, his eyes crinkling around the edges as he smiled. He had almost forgotten himself and hadn't expected the boys to remember.

"It's your birthday?" Sam asked incredulously.

"Yep," he said, throwing Dean an inviting wink and tickling Sammy again, just to hear the delighted shriek. Dean grinned and willingly joined in the endeavor.

"Dean!" Sammy protested and retaliated by rolling off John and onto his brother, who made a show of grunting at the added weight. John grinned and used the distraction to slip into the bathroom, listening to the boys' laughter and play ("you be the hunter, Dean, okay? You be the hunter" Sammy demanded. Dean rolled his eyes, but agreed and there were a few shouted "bangs" and followed by a delighted "you missed!" and a triumphant "Rarr!" Then the hunter allowed himself to be bowled over by an enthusiastic lion and was dramatically proclaiming his agony).

"Go get dressed, boys," he ordered good naturedly and there was a pause as the wrestling concluded and Dean ushered his younger brother out of bed and down the hall.

Dean reappeared as John began to shave, wearing a new shirt and blue jeans and looking like he had run a washcloth over his face.

"Sammy's watching TV," he said, answering the unspoken question.

John nodded, catching the low rumble of breakfast cereal commercials in the background. He ran his razor under the tap and went back to shaving. Dean looked at him like he does when the kid is absorbing something. They didn't have to talk to understand each other and fell into a comfortable silence.

"Dad, there's no more cereal left," Dean said after a bit.

"Well, how about pancakes then?" John said. It was one on his limited repertoire of editable dishes, rare enough to earn him a smile at the suggestion.

"Cool," Dean responded, "… but we still need to go shopping soon."

John nodded an acknowledgement, toweling off and reaching for the aftershave. Dean wrinkled his nose dramatically.

"Hey, be nice to the old man on his birthday," John teased before applying it conservatively.

Dean rolled his eyes, but gave an amiable, "Okay Dad," as he dogged his father's heel. John flipped off the bathroom light and went to check on Sammy.

"Daddy, how old are you?" Sammy asked John, following the older Winchesters into the kitchen.

"Oh, I guess this makes 65," John joked, winking at Dean.

"WOW," Sam said.

"He's kidding," grinned Dean.

"Did you do the dishes?" John asked, glancing at the kitchen in surprise and checking the expiration date on the eggs.

"Yeah," Dean admitted, smiling.

"Thanks, buddy."

Dean's eyes dipped to the floor; he was looking guilty as hell. John looked at him sharply, wondering what was up.

"Dad, we didn't get you any presents." It came out so sorrowful that John swallowed his laugh.

"Dean," he said, motioning for the boy to come over. Dean did, still looking shamefaced.

"Buddy," he said, looking directly into the boy's eyes. "As long as you and your brother are safe, I don't need anything else, ya hear?"

"Yeah," Dean said, giving him a tight hug.

Sammy got in the spirit and wrapped his arms around John's knees. "Happy Birthday, Daddy!" he sang out.

"Thanks, Sammy," he said, rising to make the pancakes.