Dean woke up suddenly from his sleep.
A warm, huddled bundle of baby brother was snuggled close to his side. Dean let out a sigh of relief. Sammy was fine.
Dim lights from the road outside flickered through the poor excuse for curtains across the room. It gave the appearence of monster's shadows dancing on the wall. Dean knew they were just shadows, just as he knew real monsters existed, but he was glad his Dad was here with them for once.
Dean cast his eyes towards his sleeping father, noting once again that he had not managed to get to his bed before he gave up to a restless slumber.
John Winchester was laying in the chair, his head back against the wall and his legs spread out in front of him. Every now and then, he would twitch and murmur before stilling.
On the table next to him were books, still open on the pages John had been studying hours before. The weapons bag was next to the chair, in arms reach if they were needed.
Dean watched his father carefully and knew that what ever haunted his nights, would only increase the desperate need during the day. Since Dean's mother died, Dean's father had began searching for her killer, and then he had begun training his sons to defend themselves. He did it with such a military flare that Dean sometimes thought he was in the marines instead of at home.
Dean still remembered how life used to be before 'that' night. Sammy never knew, he was too young. Dean glanced down at his baby brother and knew he would have to wake his father soon. If the dream got too bad, then he and Sammy would have a full on day when the sun came out.
It was the weekend, and Dean wanted to play with Sammy at the park, but if their dad didn't escape this nightmare, that plan was history.
Slowly, so not to wake up Sammy, Dean slipped out of bed and crept across the room on barefeet towards his restless father. The fact his father had not woken as Dean got steadily closer just proved to Dean just how drained his father was.
Hoping he was doing the right thing, just like every time he woke to find his dad caught in a nightmare, Dean raised his left hand and touched his fathers sweaty shoulder in a soft yet firm hold.
All around was dark. The lighting in this cheap motel was crap to say the least.
The damn bulb had gone - again.
John sighed as he stretched his arms above his head to try and relieve the tension from his stiff muscles. An entire night of reading was not what he had imagined he would be doing when he left the marine corp.
John gave a small smile when he looked over at his sleeping children. Sammy was curled into his older brother, while Dean had a protective arm around his baby brothers back.
They were safe. John was going to make sure of that.
He swallowed hard, tears springing to his eyes. He quickly wiped them away. This was no time to get emotional. He was having enough trouble staying in control when he was asleep, and he was damned if he was going to let it haunt his days as well.
Not that it was day time anymore.
He looked at the clock.
Damn it. Closing his eyes for just a second while he rested his head was all his mind needed to shut down, sleep over took his exhausted mind and body.
He felt every nerve in his body react violently, screaming out at him to move, as he tried to see his surroundings.
He was here again. There was nothing he could do to escape it.
The damp, freezing air seeped through his clothes and into his very soul. He let out a shuddering breath, he knew what was coming next. It was always the same.
John forced open his eyes.
Once again he saw her.
She floated above him, her pale face stark against the blood on her body. Her blond hair tumbling down over her shoulders towards him. Her breath came out in puffs of white mist as she sunk lower and closer to him.
He shuddered. He couldn't help it.
His beautiful Mary needed his help, and he was frozen to the spot. There was nothing he could do. So he stared, unable to unlock from her gaze.
In her eyes he only saw fear.
Fear of him.
Fear for him.
Fear for their children.
Her hand reached down towards him, John shook his head and tried to say something to her, to tell her he is sorry. But nothing comes out of his mouth.
He trembled as her hand gently caressed his face and let out a gasp of heart felt agony.
It was like Mary was staring into his soul. She knew him so well, just as he knew her.
He couldn't hide.
He lost everything the night she died.
As the air left his lungs, he knew it was over. He lost the love of his life, and here she was warning him that he would lose their children too.
Almost giving into dispair, John felt a warm presence.
A small touch on his shoulder.
Warm and comforting. It anchored him.
Suddenly he jerked awake, back into the real world.
John realised a lot of things all at once.
Mary was gone. Dean was here, looking concerned. The day had come in, chasing away the darkness, but not the cold.
He could see colours again, not just the white.
He blinked and looked back at Dean.
"Daddy, are you alright?"
The words were spoken softly, but the way Dean said them always made John feel stronger. This was his son, and he needed to be protected, but at the same time, John felt it was Dean who was watching out for him. Keeping him sane.
"I'm fine, son."
Dean smiled. It was too old for his age, but John knew Dean knew. Things would never be alright.
"Wake your brother. Its time to go."
Dean watched his father stand up and disapear into the bathroom.
Dean knew it was going to be another long day. He knew his father was not fine.
But Dean did what ever he could to help him.
Dean woke Sammy up.
Inside the bathroom, John leaned heavily on the sink.
He glanced up into the broken mirror, and saw his own reflection. What he saw was a trapped man, unable to escape. He turned on the tap and splashed cold water onto his face to wash away the sweat.
Funny, he thought, even though the water was cold, and he felt cold all over, he could still feel Deans warm handprint on his shoulder.
That gave him hope for his children.
They were special.
Nothing would get them.
He would train them to be safe if it was the last thing he would do.
His family would revenge Mary, then maybe she could rest in peace.
And so could he.