Hi folks. This here is my first Supernatural fic. This probably won't have a lot of Sam, nothing against Sam but in re-watching the end of season 1 and beginning of season 2, I found myself fascinated by the story of John and Dean. Two separate times they were "alone" (before Sam was born and then when Sam went to college )and I found that I wanted to explore that relationship.

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any of its characters, they belong to Mr Kripke. I am merely borrowing them for the moment.

But why not? Dean asked his father angrily. The young man had been pacing the hospital room for the past few minutes and John sort of wished he'd stop. John's shoulder was horribly sore from where the angry spirit had grabbed him and watching his sons pacing steps going back and forth across the small hospital room hurt like hell.

"Dean, sit down for a minute," John said finally and instantly his son obeyed, occupying the only chair in the room. His firstborn might occasionally try to rebel but he was proud to see that he still followed a direct order. With the kind of life that they led, following orders could mean a difference between life and death.

"Look, I know you want to go after this thing but we can't," John said. "I know that I've continued hunting with injuries, but this," he indicated his beaten body, "it's a little too much. Even for me."

Dean looked at his father, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. His green eyes were intense and the restless energy he had from moments before was still evident even though he was now stuck in a chair.

"But sir," Dean began and John didn't miss the note of respect that was being added in just those few words. "We can't just let this one go, can we? This thing has already killed three people and you and I both know that by tomorrow night there will be at least one more, if not two."

John sighed. He did know that, of course he knew that. There just wasn't much he could do from a hospital bed. He ran his one good hand through his hair and then let it drop to the bed in a hopeless gesture. He had wanted to save those people. That was what he did. That's what he'd trained his sons (both of his sons) to do. But this time they were going to have to accept defeat.

He hadn't told Dean of course but when he'd sent him out for his things earlier, John had tried to call for backup. Trouble was that none of the hunters he could get ahold of would be able to make it in time. That damn ghost had such a particular schedule and Dean was right about one thing, by the next night that window would be closed.

John had never told Dean or Sam about the other hunters out in the world. It had always been yet another way for him to protect his boys. John hoped that someday (once THE demon had been destroyed) maybe, just maybe, his boys could go on to a normal life. While he knew that Sam would be able to do that very easily (as was evidenced by the fact that his youngest had had no problem in leaving to go to college not that long ago), for Dean it would be harder.

His eldest son had taken to hunting so easily and did it so well that John was afraid that if he knew that there were other people out there who did this, in fact an entire network of people who did this, Dean may not ever give it up. No, John didn't want that so he kept other hunters from his boys and he kept his boys away from other hunters. He knew people thought he was crazy for doing it but he was long passed caring what other people thought of him or how he did things. If doing something that someone else thought was "strange" bothered him, he'd never started hunting demons in the first place. As long as it kept his family safe, people could think about him any damn way they pleased.

If he had been able to call in a replacement, he would have made sure to leave right away so that Dean would never see. He'd have faked being sicker or maybe made up a story about Sam being in trouble. Either lie would have worked as he knew his eldest would do anything to protect his old man or his baby brother. John hated to admit it but he used those instincts of Dean's when he had to. He wasn't proud of it but he always told himself that he would only resort to that kind of subterfuge when it was absolutely necessary.

"Dean, you're right but I can't fight in this condition. I mean I know I'm a tough old bird but even I'm ready to admit defeat on this one. You're not gonna blame your old man for walking away from a fight in this condition are you?" John smiled at his son as he indicated the bandages, the sling on his arm and the tubes connecting him to various machines by the bed.

The smile, as always, was enough to lift Dean's spirits and John was rewarded by a magnetic grin in return from Dean. Damn that kid can smile when he wants to, John thought, too bad we hardly ever see it, he though to himself briefly. The fact that his own smile had the same affect on his son, never even entered John's head.

"Yeah, I guess not. Sorry dad, guess I'm just worn out,' Dean said finally and John could hear that he'd given up the fight but maybe just for the moment. Running his hand through his hair in a gesture very much like the one his father had done moments before, Dean said "Why don't we both try and get some rest?"

"Son, that's the best idea you've had all night. You wanna head back to the motel?" John asked though he already knew the answer. He'd have to kick him out to get food, let alone go all the way back to the motel.

"No, I'll stay here with you until they kick me out." Dean replied and promptly leaned back into the chair where he sat and closed his eyes. John smiled at his son and shook his head. Dean's fierce protective instinct was very easy to predict and sometimes a little stifling (again it never occurred to John that Dean could say the same thing about him). Though right now he didn't mind at all and found it very comforting to have Dean with him. He hadn't wanted to get into an argument about giving up the current hunt but he hadn't seen any way around it. He knew that Dean would have a problem with it but what else, really, could they do?

A sigh caught his ear and John looked over and watched his slumbering son. He realized with a start that it had been awhile since he'd actually looked at Dean. He wasn't feeble minded enough to see nothing but a small child any longer but he did have to admit to himself that he hadn't really been able to get past seeing his firstborn as a gawky teenager in a while.

But the truth was that Dean was actually not too much younger than he himself had been when Dean was born. He certainly hadn't felt like a child at that age and he was starting to think it wasn't fair to think of Dean that way either.

He remembered the night Dean was born and the thought brought a myriad of emotions coursing through him. At the time John had thought that nothing would scare him more than that. Little did he know what kinds of horrors the future would bring.

But still that night he had been frightened, frightened by the lack of control he had over the situation and also in the knowledge that soon a life would be coming that would be his responsibility.

Mary had opted to go without painkillers and whoever had said that women were the weaker sex had never sat by a woman who was going through childbirth. He had been amazed by the strength his wife had shown while the contractions had wracked her body steadily, growing ever stronger.

But then once it had been time for her to push she had been so exhausted that she couldn't even sit up on her own. John had climbed onto the bed behind his wife, lending his strength to hers to bring their child into the world. As she had leaned back against his chest he had actually felt her body tense with each convulsion of the uterine muscles. She had grabbed both of his hands for dear life and he had been sure that she would break them, despite having hands half his size.

Then suddenly the baby was there and John knew for certain that his life, their lives, would never be the same again.

He and Mary had shared some tears as Dean was handed into her arms. He had nursed hungrily right away and even the nurses had commented that they'd never seen such an eater. They said most babies would eat a little and then fall right to sleep, but not Dean. John smiled to himself with the thought that even then Dean's true personality showed itself right from the start. If he'd only known then how that boy would one day nearly eat him out of house and home, John thought with a smile.

Finally after awhile Mary had drifted off to sleep and John had taken his new son to a rocking chair in the corner of the room. He never knew how long he had sat there, communing with the newest member of his very happy family. He had looked at the little fingers and toes, counted them even, had watched as his child had looked at him with huge eyes.

John had softly talked to his new son, introducing himself and letting him know that he and Mary were his parents. He had always thought that children should never be treated as dumb little idiots but instead as what they really were: big souls in little bodies. So he had spoken to Dean as he would anyone else and stopped when the exhausted (and full, finally) infant had fallen into a deep slumber. Dad hadn't been far behind son and Mary awoke to find them like that a few hours later, both fast asleep in the rocking chair.

Dean had been daddy's little boy from day one and though he loved his momma fiercely it was daddy whom he sought out whenever he could. John remembered watching as his sturdy little son had first learned to walk and proceeded to follow him everywhere around the house, his little feet beating a fast "rat tat tat" behind John's slower, often boot-clad, steps.

His little boy had learned to walk at a fairly early age, showing then that he was a do-er not a thinker. While Sam had been almost text-book in his development, from talking to walking, Dean always seemed to try to be ahead of the curve. John and Mary had to simply decide to stop being worried about him and the constant bumps and scrapes he bore as silent testimony to his almost insatiable need to do things; sometimes before his little body was ready to do them.

Dean had been fascinated to watch John do almost anything and emulated him whenever he could. One day he had been getting ready for work and while shaving had heard the familiar little footsteps run into the bathroom. Dean came running into the bathroom, just having woken up, his hair going in all directions and still wearing his favorite Scoody Doo footie pajamas. Now as a big strong man John was officially offended that his wife dared to dress his son in those things. That was his official position. But as a dad? As a dad he thought the sight of little Dean pitter pattering around in those footie things was just about the cutest darn thing he'd ever seen.

He had looked down at his son, a small cut visible above his right eye from his latest hard won lesson: not to run on a wet kitchen floor. Mary's warning yell had done nothing to stop Dean, in fact John was sure that his son waited for her to tell him not to do things, just so he could try them and see what all the fuss was about

The two year old had watched wide eyed as John smeared the shaving cream on his face and then carefully applied the razor. After a minute of this rapt attention John had laughed and picked up his son, standing him on the toilet seat next to the sink.

"Wanna try it?" John had asked and Dean had nodded solemnly.

Not stupid enough to even think of giving his toddler a razor, John quickly came up with an alternate. He asked Mary for a plastic spoon and kissed her when she gave it to him, smiling as she giggled at the shaving cream still on his cheek.

He then proceeded to pour some of the shaving gel on Dean's hands and watched as his sons eyes grew even wider as the gel quickly expanded into a white foam. John did the same in his own hand and then showed his son how to put it on his face. Dean followed suit and soon father and son looked like a matched set of Santa Clauses; extra large and mini sized.

John then applied the razor to his own face and Dean copied each stroke, scraping the foam off carefully with the little plastic spoon.

Mary came in a few minutes later with the Polaroid and snapped a quick photo of the two men in her life, covered in shaving cream and laughing as it got all over the bathroom floor. That picture had stayed in his wallet as one of his favorites for many years.

John had never had anyone around who not only watched but emulated everything he did like that and found it sometimes unnerving but mostly downright flattering. He couldn't help it, when your child looked at you like you could do no wrong; it took away all the bad things in the world.

John's musings into the past were interrupted by a soft snore and he was brought back to the present. The young man sleeping in the chair idly by his bed bore little resemblance to the little one he had taught to shave that day. But the look in Dean's eyes whenever he watched his father (loading a gun, melting silver into bullets) was the same.

It made him hate the idea of ever letting him down; which made John wonder if he was letting Dean down now. His eldest wanted so badly to follow in his father's footsteps and John had spent the last nearly twenty years teaching him to do exactly that. What had he been training Dean for if not to do exactly what he'd begged him to do only hours earlier?

His son wasn't a child anymore and there was no doubt that John wouldn't rather have anyone else watching his back on a hunt. Didn't that mean Dean was ready to handle a job on his own?

He looked down at his body, the cast on his arm, bandages wrapping his broken ribs. There was no way he could finish the job, not for a while. But those people needed help and they needed it faster than he could provide it. It wasn't like Dean would be alone, not really, as John would be there to guide him the whole way. He was starting to talk himself into the idea, growing to like the sound of it as he realized they could save some lives.

Necessity may have just brought Dean his chance at what he'd been waiting for a long time: his first solo hunt.