Author's Notes for Chapter Four:
The reference to John having an older brother is in the story "It's What You Do". In Rid's story John's deceased older brother was never named, and it was never explained what happened to him. I took liberties.
The story about John not knowing about his mother's first family until after she was dead, I based on numerous real life stories on Holocaust survivors. It was only until very recently that Holocaust survivors really started stepping forward to tell their stories.
POW (Prisoner of War) /KIA (Killed in Action) bracelets: If you'd like to learn the history of this particular military tradition, why they're worn and its ties to the Vietnam War please go here. You can also find lots of other interesting information on other subjects like the tradition of leaving offerings at The Wall.
The Wall: For any Non-American readers that's a common nickname for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
Jim's sniper career: Since the Army didn't officially reopen its sniper school until 1968-1969. I'm assuming Jim was a Green Beret. Placing Jim in the 5th, the unit that President Kennedy personally reactivated in 1961, is me once again taking liberties.
Ghillie Suits: These are the camouflage suits you commonly see Snipers wear. Every one of them is personally hand-made and woven depending on what environment the sniper is in.
Recon: Short for Force Recon- That's the USMC equivalent of the SEAL's.
"And if your son asks you in the future, saying, What are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, that the Lord our God commanded you? You will say to your son, We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. -Deuteronomy 6:20-23
Lawrence Kansas - 1984
The Festival of Lights
It had always been one of his mother's favorite holidays. Hanukkah was considered a lower Jewish holiday, but his mother had still loved it. Had always whispered to him and his older brother it was a celebration of hope. A proclamation that you believed simple miracles happened every day.
There still were days John Winchester when he closed his eyes he saw his mother's proud, fine face. He could still picture in his mind's eye her expressive green-blue eyes as she studied him. Feel as she pulled him in to her warm embrace. Hear her soft voice whisper softly, 'Giovanni, have faith. Evil shouts. God whispers.'
He still marveled his mother found the strength to feel that way knowing what she had lost in the flaming plumes of machine gun fire. It had been only after his mother's death John had found the pictures of the half brother and sister he never knew. Pictures and memories of his mother's first life, of a family, in a far away country locked away and never spoken of.
It was funny how he thought of his mother when his mind drifted towards Dean. Maybe it was because Dean had always reminded John so much of her. There had always been so much life and music around his mother. Some of his earliest memories was of her singing as she made bread in the morning. From the time Dean had been old enough to recognize a music beat, John remembered how his lively, energetic little boy would sing or get up and dance with his grandmother every time music was played. How Dean had managed to bring a smile to his mother's last days.
A smile only his older brother Matt had ever managed to coax out of her before.
He looked down at his brother's KIA bracelet on his wrist.
Matt, another piece of his soul lost.
Brought home in a flag draped coffin and a cold name on The Wall.
Mary killed in a burning pillar of fire.
John simply didn't know if he had the strength to keep going if he lost Dean now too.
He had seen evil's shouts as his wife burned on the ceiling. He had smelt its aroma with the ungodly smell of his wife's burning flesh. He had heard its echoes in his oldest boy's silence. Now he prayed to God, a creator he wasn't sure he believed in, for a simple whisper.
John Winchester didn't believe in miracles anymore.
Hell, all he had managed to light was a single candle in his mother's honor this year.
That was pretty much all the hope he had anymore.
John looked at his tired, haggard reflection in the Impala's review mirror as he checked on his two sleeping children in the back seat. God, he hated Dr. Harrison. He dreaded every damned appointment with Dean's psychiatrists. Today's appointment had gone as well as he expected with the doctor once again insisting on him admitting Dean to a private facility and John saying no. The cheerful, bright doctor's office somehow resembled some twisted mirror image of his life. John loathed how it reminded him of how much he'd lost that night of the fire.
How every instinct he possessed screamed at him to take Dean and Sammy and keep on driving.
And God, he hated that feeling too.
The way his stomach would clench up every time he walked in to this office. How the ugly taste of coppery fear would creep in to his mouth. His feeling that evil dwelled right below the cheerful doctor's office facade. It made John feel like he couldn't even trust his own instincts anymore.
It made him feel crazy.
Crazier than even the suspicious whispers of the neighbors behind his back or the pitying glances they shot his son when they didn't think he was looking.
John didn't need to guess what the neighbors thought.
That was mirrored in his brother-in-law's eyes.
They thought he had killed his wife and set the fire to cover the murder.
The thing was every night he woke up to the feel of blood and screaming his wife's name as she burned suspended on the ceiling.
And John wasn't sure the neighbors weren't right.
John had been let in to the ICU briefly to visit with Dean.
He wished he hadn't.
Looking at his lively, vigorous little boy among all the flickering and beeping equipment had almost been enough to undo the 'Dad' mask he had slid in to place for Sammy. Dean looked awful. His little boy had resembled some puffy bloated corpse, not anything human.
That had scared him.
Mac's bleak face when he read Dean's chart had scared him even more.
It had taken all the will-power John had not to cave in to his instincts, snatch Dean up out of that bed and run.
Mac had been hovering behind him ever since. His best friend didn't do the 'don't worry, things will be okay' comfort thing well. That was fine with him. John didn't do it very well either. It was one thing that made their friendship work.
"If you wanted vanilla ice-cream why didn't you order vanilla ice-cream?" Caleb Reaves' voice grumbled at four year old Sammy across the table. The hospital's twenty-four hour snack bar was virtually deserted at this time of night. John shook his head as he hobbled in to the snack area. Caleb and Sam, stubborn, tired, and worried, could make his stubborn, argumentative streak look down right reasonable.
Jim was crocheting.
That was not good.
It was an anxious habit from Jim's old sniper days. The days where the only thing that stood between Jim and being killed or captured behind enemy lines was how well Jim wove camouflage in to his Ghillie suit. How skilled he was at hiding in plain sight. A majority of Jim's military record was still highly classified, even today. Not even John's RECON contacts could tap it. But the moment John had seen how adeptly Jim's skilled fingers could weave or crochet that had told him all he needed to know about what unpleasant tasks Jim had been called to perform in the line of duty to his country.
If Jim was crocheting….
Sam and Caleb were getting on his last nerve.
Sam looked up from his ice-cream and shot Caleb a look he usually reserved only for 'yucky' girl cooties. "I wanted chocolate chip."
"You're picking the chocolate chips out," Caleb pointed out to him bluntly. "Without the chips it's plain vanilla ice-cream."
Jim Murphy tiredly looked up from what he was working on. "Boys," he snapped, "I know your both worried about Dean but this is not the time or the place."
Sammy lifted his chin stubbornly at Caleb. "I wanted chocolate chip."
Caleb pinched his nose, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. "Try to have your little OCD ass follow me here, Sammy. You're picking the chips out. It's vanilla ice cream without the chips."
The pastor glared at both of them. "Boys…"
Sammy glared at Caleb. "I don't like you. I want Dean. You're mean."
"Right now, I'm not all that found of you either, Runt," Caleb replied snidely.
"When Dean gets better. I'm going to tell him how you were mean to me."
Caleb snorted, "Go ahead. I'll tell him what type of brat you were."
"Enough," Jim barked. "Both of you."
Caleb gave the pastor an exasperated look. "Hey! Sammy started it."
"Samuel's four and it's past his bed time." The pastor shot Caleb an irritated look that had sent more than one grunt running in his Army days. "What's your excuse?"
Caleb opened his mouth to reply when John decided it might be a good time to intervene, "Sammy, what have I told you about screwing with Junior's head?"
Sammy shot his ice-cream and then Caleb a sideways look. "I shouldn't do it. Caleb's only got one, maybe two, good hits to the head in him. He doesn't have the brain cells to spare."
Caleb smiled sweetly at John as he hobbled over to their table on his crutches. Mac followed behind him. "Despite all you say, I know you like me."
John rolled his eyes as he and Mac took a seat at the table. "Whatever delusions get you, through the night there, Junior."
"Hi Mac," Sammy greeted the doctor. "Did I tell you I did my school project on dinosaurs? Dean helped me. The word dinosaur comes from two Greek words deinos, meaning "terrible" and sauros, meaning "lizard". They're just like real life dragons. The study of dinosaur bones is called Paleontology. Did you know that?"
John sighed. Caleb looked like he wanted to start hitting his head off the table. John had a feeling in the coming weeks he was going to learn more about dinosaurs than he ever imagined possible.
Mac's mustache twitched. "As a matter of fact I did."
"I want to be a paleontologist and study mass extinctions when I grow up," The four year-old announced matter of fact. "My teacher gave me a gold star for the dinosaur tooth I and Dean made." Sammy pouted, "Not like Dean's teacher that freaked over the head he brought in."
All eyes at the table suddenly shifted to John.
Jim and Mac both lifted an eyebrow.
"Don't look at me," he growled. John's back stiffened at his friends questioning looks. "Last salt and burn all body parts were accounted for." Then he turned and asked his youngest calmly, "Sam, what head?" Someone was not passing on his memos.
"A Spartan King," Sammy informed him. Then the four year-old bit his lip. "Dean told me but I don't remember his name."
John raised an eyebrow, shifted his casted foot, and offered "Leonidas?" Dean's love of the Greek warrior culture, especially their sly dry wit, was well known. He just wished Dean would stop embracing the Spartan ideal of playing the part of moron to gain an advantage with such gusto.
Sammy nodded. "That's it. I don't know why Dean's teacher got girly about it, Dad. It's not like Dean made the blood gush. Dean said the Persians beheaded Leonidas after he was already dead. Who's Leonidas?"
"Damn I forgot. I need to call their school." John rubbed his forehead. "And he's nobody, Sammy, just some Spartan King that saved Western Civilization."
Caleb suddenly shot John an innocent butter-wouldn't-melt look. It was a look John knew he'd be kicking Caleb's ass for later. "Hey Sammy, did anyone tell you about how the Jewish people celebrate this wonderful holiday called Hanukkah?"
Sammy blinked at Caleb, baffled at the change in topic. "No."
"Junior," John snarled, "Don't you dare. Or Sammy's going to see an extinction event up close and personal tonight."
Ignoring his mentor the teenager plowed right ahead gleefully, "It's like Christmas but only better. Hanukkah has eight nights of gifts instead of just one."
Sammy looked big-eyed from his father to Caleb and back again. Then he turned to Mac, "Is this true?"
Mac nodded. "Yes it is."
Then Sammy asked, "And Dad's Jewish?"
"Ethnic. I'm not a practicing anything." John growled.
Mac grinned at John then nodded at Sammy again. Despite the circumstance it was amusing to see John squirm. "Yes, your grandmother was Jewish and that does technically make your father Jewish."
"They refuse to claim me," John countered, "Ask Goldberg."
Jim shot John a disdainful look. "Leave poor Peter out of this."
"Hey, I was in a pinch and I needed a babysitter" John grumbled. "Peter IS a fully trained hunter of the Brotherhood. I thought he could handle them. I advised him not to turn his back on my two little fiends for a minute. Did Peter listen? Nope. Not my fault he didn't take my recommendation to secure a position with his back to the wall and wait for reinforcements to arrive."
Ignoring his father Sammy looked at Pastor Jim, "And Hanukkah is like Christmas?"
"No it's not, "John jumped in before the Pastor could reply. "Christmas is a pagan holiday that the early Christian church couldn't snuff out so they absorbed it. It's nothing like Hanukkah. And don't even get me started on the icon of modern commercialism and greed that is Santa Claus."
Jim shot John an amused look over his coffee. This was an old rant. Samuel had managed to latch on to the one aspect of the Christmas holiday John absolutely loathed. "John stop being silly. Christmas is Jesus' birthday. That's why Santa gives gifts to all the good little boys and girls."
Sammy nodded solemnly. "Yeah, Dad, stop being silly, or Santa will bring you coal in your stocking again."
"I hate to break it to you, Runt," Caleb snickered, "but I'm pretty sure your old man is on Santa's permanent naughty list."
Thinking of Dean and needing something to do with his restless fingers the Knight suddenly pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.
Jim's eyes narrowed. "I thought I cut you off."
"You did." Then the Knight smiled evilly at his protégé as he lit one up. He took certain amount of satisfaction from Jim's nose crinkling. Get back was a bitch. "I filched these from Junior."
Mac head snapped around. He looked at his son and asked, "Oh really?"
"If it makes you feel any better," John added in sweetly, "These wussie things really are all filter and taste like ass."
"Knowing you're going to lift them," Caleb growled. "I'll be sure to pick up the off brand, in the black box, named 'Tumors' next time."
John grinned dryly at Caleb. "Please do. Next time try to hide the porn stash a little better too. It was no challenge to find."
Mac shot Caleb 'THE' look. "We'll discuss this later."
Sammy suddenly looked up at father. "When can Dean come home?"
All eyes at the table looked in John's direction again.
He grabbed the ash tray from the center of the table, knocked off the ash from his cigarette, and then took another long puff. He had been dreading this question. Sammy was just too damned smart and insightful for his own good sometimes. "Hopefully, with no complications, your brother can come home in a couple of days."
This time it was Caleb's gold eyes that narrowed. "What do you mean with no complications?"
John hated kids.
Especially sharp ones.
Mac cleared his throat. Then he started spinning his silver ring around on his finger. "It means that barring no rebound reaction tonight. This episode itself, and the cocktail mix they gave Dean to counter it, left his immune system extremely depleted. It could cause complications with the Streptococcus infection Dean currently is fighting."
Out of the corner of his eye John caught Dean's anxious doctor making his way quickly towards their table. "Mr. Winchester may I speak with you?"