Author's note 3/30/08 -- I think the formatting got jacked up, and for that I'm sorry. It looks passable to me right now but I've heard it's still problematic for some -- give me a little time and I hope to have it all fixed up. SORRY. EB

Man’'s Allotted Span

sequel to Land's End



Chapter One

They'’re holed up in Custer City, Oklahoma, and Dean’'s about to lose his mind.

Dad'’s a fucking godawful patient. Bad enough that the tussle with the pack of goblins –-- pack? They’'ve already argued four times about the right word, and Dean’'s pretty sure it isn'’t "pack" but he'’s so damn mad at his father right now -- he'’ll call it a pack to the end of his days, just for freakin’ spite. -- left Dad with eight broken bones and about two dozen gashes that required stitching. Oh, and also scared a good ten years off Dean’'s life, let’s not forget.

No, it’'s worse, because Dad’'s just --– Dad. He'’s stoic enough to put the Spartans to shame, except when he’'s whining about being laid up, or they got shit to do, no time for this, or can'’t a man just get to the goddamn HEAD by himself, and whatever else. Silent except for bitching about Dean’'s cooking or Dean'’s nursing skills or Dean'’s hunting skills.

Bitching about money. Like Dean isn'’t providing the lifestyle to which His Honor John Winchester ESQUIRE has become accustomed or some shit.

After a month Dean'’s ready to kill him, himself, patricide ahoy, and move to California and learn to surf with some of Sam’'s buddies. Although Sam'’s friends probably all have slide rules or something, and two-inch-thick glasses and never saw a board except on reruns of Point Break, but point is: Dean’'s gonna cut a goddamn bitch pretty soon.

It all comes to a head one night when Dad'’s hurting and can'’t sleep, and Dean'’s up and keeping him company for some dumb-ass reason, nursing a bottle of bottom-shelf bourbon. And he'’s talking, just making noise, something to make the time go by, and Dad finally snaps, "So if you want to go back and freeze your balls off in Alaska, why don'’t you just go?"

Dean stares at him, struck dumb. He -- Okay, he talks about Alaska some. Sure. The work had been hell and the weather sucked, but the money was all right, saw them through the winter and into the spring, and that was all right. And he thinks about it some, kinda more now that the weather’'s turning cold and some little rat inside his brain is whispering about how it’'s the season now.

But he hasn'’t had time to think about going back or anything. Last year he was just filling in for some guy in a car wreck; it isn’t like he’'s making a career out of it, for God’s sake. A fisherman he ain'’t –-- or, well, not normally. He’'s played one on tv, that’s all. Bring on the stunt fisherman guy.

Dad watches him, face pale and drawn with tiredness so profound it hasn'’t let him sleep easily all week, and finally he says, "Go earn us some run-out cash. It’'s what you want to do, dude." He doesn'’t even sound annoyed anymore. Just exhausted, and faintly amused. "I'’m out for the count, probably can’'t get back in the game for a couple months. And we could use the money."

Dean says stiffly, "Somebody'’s gotta take care of you."

"Bullshit. You'’re driving me fucking crazy, hovering like that. Come on. You sit there and you tell me you didn'’t enjoy what you did last winter, and that you don'’t think about how it’'s crab season now and you'’re missing out. Go on, tell me."

Dean sits a minute, silent again, because first, he doesn'’t know how Dad knew it was crab season, which means Dad'’s given it some thought on his own. Dean sure hasn'’t mentioned that fact. And second, Dad’'s kinda right. He did enjoy it, as much as you can enjoy the hardest fucking work you’'ve ever done in your life, and some part of him, reluctant and vaguely embarrassing, does feel like he’'s missing out. It’'s not like other-kids-going-to-camp-and-missing-that-fun missing-out. It’'s -- Well. Just.

"Um," Dean says.

Dad’s face softens, not quite a smile but close. "So go," he says. "Stop wasting your time wiping your old man’'s ass and go do it."

Dean stirs, and mumbles, "Probably don'’t got a spot this season."

"Maybe not. Find out."

"Kinda late."


Dean stares at his hands, glances at Dad, studies his fingers some more. Then he says, "Maybe I'’ll call. See what’'s up."

"Sounds like a plan."

"You show up at the airport, I'’ll have a ticket waiting in your name."

It’'s ridiculously great to hear Gib'’s voice, and it makes Dean feel kinda funny inside to hear what he has to say. There’'s just one hitch. "Dude," Dean says in a slightly wobbly voice, "I don'’t do the flying thing."

"You wanna work this season," Gib says promptly, "you fly. We'’re already in Dutch. You wanna catch up, you get your ass up here pronto, and unless you picked up a transporter this year, that’'s gonna mean flying."

"Aw, man."

"Have a couple drinks. Just get on the goddamn plane. Be good to see you."

"Yeah," Dean says. "You too, man."

Dad’'s lying on his bed reading Fortean Times when Dean comes back inside. "You going?"

Dean nods. "Yeah, he, ah. The guy that had the wreck last year, he got some kinda disability. So Gib said come on up."

Dad’'s teeth shine white in the lamplight. He looks better than he has in weeks, and Dean figures it’s because Dean’s been on his last nerve just as much as Dad'’s been on his. "Good deal. Leaving soon?"

"Gotta catch a plane tomorrow."

Dad gives him a look, and Dean shrugs.

Later, when the lights are out and they aren'’t either one of them sleeping, Dean says, "You’ll call, right? If you need anything?"

"Dude, I'’ll be fine. Don'’t worry."

"Just –"

"Just don'’t drop the phone this time."

"Yeah. Okay."

continued in ch 2