A/N This is a story I came up with when I got in the mood to see a fatherly John. Not sure if it works or not. Hope you enjoy. Please R&R. Kelcor

A seventeen year old Dean stared sadly at his little brother's still form. He still couldn't get used to seeing the tube sticking out of Sam's mouth, even though it had been there for the past three days. Nor could he get used to all the wires sticking out of him. The bandages covering one side of his head. The IV. The silence. The lack of response to his presence. It was just all so... so WRONG! He longed for Sam to start babbling non-stop about something he learned in history class, or science class. Heck, Dean would be happy to just see the kid open his freakin' eyes!

This never should have happened, Dean thought bitterly. Sammy never shoulda been there. Dad shouldn't have let him come along… no, I shouldn't have given in so easily. No sense blaming dad when it was my own fault.

One Week Ago:

"Okay, boys," John began, "we need to be constantly on the alert with this one. This creature is strong and it's not gonna be happy that we killed its mate."

"Sure thing, dad," a thirteen year old Sam said.

John did his best to hide the smile forming on his lips. What? No argument this time, Sammy? Apparently, his efforts fell short of their mark.

"What's so funny," Sam asked, his voice slightly indignant.

"Nothing, Sam. Just happy we're both on the same side for once."

Before Sam could respond, Dean looked up from loading his shotgun and cut into the conversation. "I think Sammy should stay here, dad. He's still not 100 percent."

"Hey, it's Sam! And, I'm right here! So, stop talking about me like I'm not!"

Dean rolled his eyes at Sam's recent decision that Sammy was the name for a baby not a teenager. "Fine. I think Sam should stay here, dad," Dean repeated, this time not taking his eyes of his still too pale little brother.

John turned his own concerned gaze to his youngest. "You still feelin' the effects of that flu, son?"

After shooting a glare at his over-protective oaf of a brother, Sam looked his father in the eye. "No, dad, I'm good to go. Dean's just being too much of a Florence Nightengale to realize it," he added with a smirk, knowing the comment would throw his brother off a bit.

Now, it was Dean's turn to be indignant. "What? I'm not… I'm just…" Finally, giving up on his attempted come back, the middle Winchester glared back at Sam. "Fine. Be a stubborn jack-ass. Just don't come whining to me if you get hurt!"

Present Day

As Dean reminisced, he prayed fervently that his brother would whine to him about getting hurt. In fact, any freakin' words coming out of Sammy's mouth right now would be a welcome change to the silence that had been enveloping his baby brother for the past 72 hours.

The teen flinched slightly when he felt a strong hand on his shoulder. When he looked up to see his father gazing sadly down at him, he shrugged away from the touch.


"Dean, I'm -- "

Whatever John was about to say was interrupted by the entrance of Sam's doctor. "Mr. Preston. I'm glad you're here. I need to discuss a few things with you," the doctor began, turning to look at Dean. "Son, could you please give us a few moments in private?"

"I'm not your son," Dean said angrily. "And, I'm not leaving my brother. I need to hear what's going on with him."

The doctor shrugged dismissively. He looked at John and, very bluntly, said, "I think it's time to take your son off the respirator."

"What?" Dean said. "No way!"

Ignoring Dean, the doctor continued, "It's been a week, Mr. Preston. He's not going to wake up. We're just prolonging the inevitable by not pulling the plug today."

John grabbed his oldest by the upper arms to stop the teen from launching himself at the smug doctor. "You don't know what you're talking about, you bastard," Dean yelled. "My brother is gonna wake up!"

Though glaring at the doctor, John's words were for Dean. "It's okay, Sport," John said, motioning the doctor out into the hallway. His gaze softened when he turned it towards his oldest son. "I'll be right back, okay. We'll sort all of this out."

As the door shut, Dean felt himself begin to panic. Sammy, I'm so sorry. I shoulda fought harder to keep you outta this one. Please, don't die, Sammy. I'm sorry. Just, please, don't die! He tried desperately to control the torrent of emotions flowing through him. Guilt. Fear. Pain. Guilt. Loneliness. Failure. Guilt.

One Week Ago

John agreed that Sam still looked a little worse for wear, but if Sam said he was okay to hunt, then John had to trust him… else, prepare himself for another fight.

He trudged ahead through the snow, taking point, as usual. Sam was a couple feet behind him, with Dean taking up the rear. Despite Sam's complaints about always being 'the monkey in the middle', John was not quite ready to allow his youngest to come out from this protective barrier against evil just yet.

In hindsight, it would seem that he had ended up putting Sam in more danger than ever because the Wendigo launched itself out of the bushes, taking out the middle-man, so to speak. John would never forget the sound of the anguished cry that erupted from Sammy's mouth when the creature's claws slashed across his mid-section. Before John and Dean could get a good enough aim to be sure not to hit Sam, the Wendigo had zipped back into the forest, dragging their youngest family member behind it.

Present Day

As soon as the door was shut, John turned angrily on the doctor.

"How DARE you talk about something that sensitive with my boy in the room!"

"He wouldn't leave," the doctor said nonchalantly, doing his best to not be affected by the look in John's eyes.

"Then you and I could've come out here to talk, like we are now." When the doctor still failed to show proper remorse for his actions, John went into marine-mode, moved until he was mere inches from the man's face and spoke dangerously quiet so that only the doctor could hear him - and, judging by the fact that his eyes were bugging out so far out of their sockets they were practically smudging the lenses of his glasses, the doctor was appropriately terrified. "And, another thing, Dean is right. Sam will come out of this. We just need to give him more time. So, I don't want to hear another word about 'pulling the plug', or any other heartless euphemisms you want to give it. Do I make myself CLEAR?"

The doctor nodded and turned to leave. John couldn't help but feel somewhat satisfied with the sight of the doctor scurrying down the hallway, glancing over his shoulder nervously every couple steps. Then, he sighed deeply. He couldn't lose his baby boy… okay, maybe not a baby anymore but that didn't matter when he was faced with the possibility of him dying. He turned to go back into the room to check on Sam and Dean, when the chirp of his cell phone brought him to a stop. He pulled it out and looked at the call display. Missouri. I should've guessed.


"John? What is happening to you and your boys?"

John sighed inwardly, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "Sam was injured on a hunt, Missouri. The doctors say he's not gonna make it. They say he's brain dead."

"Well, those doctors don't know the Winchesters. Sam is fighting this, John. I can feel it." John felt his heart soar with a little bit of hope. It wasn't a guarantee but it was a possible light at the end of the tunnel. That light was abruptly extinguished, however, with his friends' next words. "What about Dean?"

"What about him?" John asked, a sense of foreboding seeping its way into his heart. "Dean is fine. He wasn't hurt. Just Sam."

"Oh, please tell me you're not really that dense."


"Those boys are practically attached at the hip. When one feels pain, so does the other. And it's even worse for Dean."

"What are you talking about, Missouri?"

"He doesn't just feel Sam's pain. He feels guilty that it isn't him lying in that hospital bed. You gave Dean the responsibility of taking care of Sam, John. Or don't you remember?"

"I remember, all too well," John said heatedly.

"Don't you take that tone with me, John Winchester."

John bit his tongue to keep from yelling into the phone. Instead, he waited for Missouri to continue because Sam wasn't the only one the man couldn't bear to lose.

"I can feel Sam fighting, John. But I can also feel the emotional tornado making itself at home in your oldest son's heart and soul. He feels like he failed."

"Failed who?" John asked, clearly confused.

"You. Sam. Himself. Take your pick. You put the weight of the world on his shoulders, John."

After a brief hesitation, the eldest Winchester found his voice again. "He hasn't said anything -- "

"Well, of course, he hasn't," Missouri cut in, scornfully. "That's how you trained him. You trained him to be a marine, John. To suck it up."

He squeezed his eyes shut, knowing his longtime friend was right. "What do I do?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Missouri paused for a moment, then… "You have to train him how to be a boy again."

"Thanks, Missouri."

"You're welcome, John. Now, go help your son."

After hanging up with Missouri, John took a deep breath to fortify himself then opened the door to Sam's room. He saw Dean, still standing next to the bed, holding his little brother's hand in his own, slim shoulder's hunched in defeat. He looked so young and, when his oldest looked up at him, John saw the four year old that he had placed way too much responsibility on all those years ago. He took a step towards Dean, only to see his son take two steps away. Dean, now is not the time to close yourself off, son. He hadn't realized he had spoken aloud until Dean responded.

"Now, is exactly the time, dad," he murmured.

"Dean -- " John attempted to inch closer to him but, again, Dean stepped away. He watched as his son reluctantly let go of his brother's hand so that he could step even further away. Sighing, John stayed where he was and waited... for now.

"It's my fault," Dean said, so softly that John could barely hear him.


"It's my FAULT," he repeated. His green eyes, blazing with fury and guilt, finally meeting John's.

"How can you say that, Dean? You tried to warn me. If anyone is at fault here, it's me."

"I should have tried harder," the younger man roared.

The eldest Winchester did not miss the tears in his son's eyes and took another step forward.

"No," Dean pleaded. "Just… just stay away from me."

"Why, son? Why won't you let me help you?"

"Because, Sam's in pain. And, as long as he's in pain, I have to be, too."

"But, why? I don't understand," John continued, trying desperately to distract his son while he inched closer to him.

"Haven't you been listening? It's my fault, dad! I should have protected him, damn it!"

"Dean, son, it wasn't your fault. You hear me? It wasn't your fault," he insisted, closing the gap between them even further.

Dean looked up at his father and was shocked to realize how close he was. He had to get out. He had to get away. His eyes darted from one side to the other, seeking escape. When his dad took another step forward, Dean seized the only chance he had and bolted for the door on the far side of the room. He wasn't at all prepared for what happened next.

John knew what his son was going to do before he did it because it was the same thing John himself would have done at his age. So, when Dean tried to make a break for it, John whipped his arm out, wrapping it around his son's waist, and lifted him slightly off the floor, thwarting his escape. He clenched his teeth when his seventeen year old let loose an animalistic cry of anger. Ignoring his protests, however, John pulled the squirming teen against his chest. "It's okay, Dean," he whispered in his ear.

"No!" Dean cried, trying desperately to free himself from his father's grasp. "Get off me!"

John was thankful that his son was still as slight as he was, it wouldn't be too many years before keeping him pinned would be a much more difficult task. But, as it was, John was more than able to over power his son and give him what he so richly needed right now. Dean was pounding his fists against John's back.

"Let me go!"

"No," John replied, matter-of-factly, adjusting his grip to hold him even tighter.

"Dad, please," Dean pleaded, too exhausted to struggle anymore.

"No, Dean. You can't keep bottling this stuff up inside, son. I know, it's my fault. But, son, everyone needs to shed a few tears now and then. Sometimes you just have to be strong enough to show your vulnerable side to the people you trust. To the people who love you." He felt, rather than heard, the hitch in his son's breath. Then, Dean's shoulders started to shake with the effort of holding the tears back. "That's right, Dean. I love you. I always have and I always will. Just let it out, son."

"No," Dean whimpered. But even as the word was spoken, John felt his son's entire body shake with the sobs that wracked through him, and he kicked himself for not saying those words to him more often. Dean clutched John's shirt in his fists, as the tears flowed freely from his eyes. His knees buckled but John held him firm, taking his full weight into his arms.

"It's okay, kiddo. I gotcha. I gotcha."

"He can't die, dad. He just can't."

John's hand moved up to stroke his son's hair and he was shocked to realize that he couldn't remember the last time he had offered that small form of fatherly comfort.

Several long moments later, Dean tried again to pull away, though half-heartedly, only to have John redouble his efforts at holding him close. "Not yet, Sport. I'm not ready to let go yet, okay?" Dean nodded weakly.

Sam opened his eyes and saw his father holding his crying brother. Thinking this was long overdue, the youngest Winchester attempted to keep quiet, not wanting to interrupt the moment… his body had other plans, however, because as soon as it felt the intrusion of the intubation tube down his throat, it tried to push it out.

John and Dean immediately pulled apart when the loud choking sound filled the room. They turned to face the youngest member of their family and, upon seeing his blue eyes staring wildly up at them, they said in unison…


The End... or The Beginning

A/N I know this probably would've worked better if Sam had died but I couldn't bring myself to kill him... I don't think I'll ever be able to write a 'death' fic for this show. I love the characters too much. Anyway, sorry if it's a little to melodramatic for that reason, but I had to get it out of my system. Kelcor