Disclaimer: The Winchesters and everything related to them belongs to Kripke and the CW. I am not making a profit from this story.
Author's note: This story picks up three years after Anger's Betrayal
"Shut up Sammy" John growled as he glared coldly at his youngest son in the rearview mirror while driving back to their rented house in Black River Falls Wisconsin. John didn't want to hear Sammy's usual lame excuses about what happened on the hunt.
"Dad, don't blame Sammy. It wasn't his…"
"Can it Dean, I'm sick and tired of hearing excuses as to why it wasn't Sammy's fault. You and I have been coddling the boy for almost three damn years now and I'm tired of holding my tongue. If he had done as he was told, you wouldn't be sitting there bleeding all over the Impala seat." John grit out through clenched teeth as he focused on getting back to their small house.
Dean cringed knowing how much his father's words must have hurt Sammy so he glanced in the back seat to see Sammy slouched down, and how hard could that be with the kid's freaking height, and looking out the side window. He could see the defeated slump in his brother's shoulders and wondered if silent tears were falling down his face.
"Damn it dad, I'm not going to let you blame Sammy for me being injured. I chose to throw myself in front of that black dog, Sammy had nothing to do with it" Dean said in defense of his little brother.
"So you're saying that you didn't do it because that dog was just about to pounce on your little brother because he had his fucking attention elsewhere huh?" John asked knowing that Dean wouldn't be able to dispute what he had just said.
"That's not fair, and you know it" Dean snarled as he looked over at his father. John was hitting below the belt and the words weren't only hurting him, they were hurting Sammy as well.
"Yeah, well life ain't always fair now is it kiddo" John stated rather forcefully to end the argument. He was pissed about what happened and he was making sure that both of his son's knew it.
The Impala was soon overcome with the unnerving sound of silence as each Winchester brooded about the hunt and it's effects on their small family.
Approximately forty five minutes later, the Impala pulled up to the small house that John had rented on the outskirts of town. John flung the keys at Sammy and said "See if you can get the gear out of the trunk and into the house without messing that up too" as he crossed around to the passenger side of the car to help Dean. John reached in to help Dean out of the seat but found his helping hand firmly pushed away.
"I can do it myself" Dean said as he pushed John's hands away. He was angry with the way his dad was acting and didn't want to be near him right now.
"Don't be an ass Dean" John said as he clasped Dean by the arm and helped him to a standing position. "That leg has probably gotten stiff and it's gotta hurt like hell. I'm going to help you whether you want me to or not so get over it."
Dean grudgingly allowed his dad to help him into the house since he knew he wouldn't be able to make it up the porch steps on his own. As they walked, he glanced back to see Sammy gathering their gear that would need to be cleaned after the hunt. But more than that, he saw his little brother swipe his shirt sleeve across his yes before picking the duffle bag up and hoisting it over his shoulders. "Damn it, how the hell am I going to make things better this time" he thought as he focused on trying to get up the porch steps.
After Sam had finally gathered the gear, he shut the trunk and then walked slowly to the house not wanting to face his dad's wrath. He was already feeling guilty enough about what happened and didn't need his dad throwing the hunt back in his face. "I hate this frigging life of hunting" he thought as he trudged through the open door and deposited the weapons duffle on the floor. He started walking towards the bathroom to wash off the grime when he was stopped in his tracks by his father's voice.
"Hold it right there kiddo" John shouted at his youngest son who was making his way down the hall. "I'm going to need some more gauze bandages so you can just walk your sorry ass down to the pharmacy and get them for me right now."
"YES SIR" Sammy ground out through clenched teeth without looking back at his father. "Is it okay if I use the freaking bathroom first?"
"Watch your tone boy" John spat out as he looked at his youngest son. "You keep up the backtalk and I'll wash that mouth of yours out with soap. Do you understand me?"
Sammy nodded his head in an affirmative manner before entering the bathroom and sitting on the toilet seat. He allowed the tears to come for just a minute before standing by the sink and rinsing his face with cold water. "He's never going to approve of me" Sammy said to his reflection in the mirror. "I'll never be good enough for him no matter what. Why can't he realize that I'm not Dean, that I hate this life we lead?"
"What the hell is taking you so long boy?" Sam heard his father shout through the door.
"I'll be out in a minute" Sam said in answer to hi father's question as he flushed the toilet to make it look like he had indeed used the bathroom. He walked back into the living room to see Dean stripping his jeans off so that John could get a closer look at the wounds on his leg. Sam gasped when he saw the deep claw marks that ran from Dean's knee to near his ankle.
Hearing his brother's gasp, Dean looked up to see Sammy staring at him with moist hazel eyes. "It's not as bad as it looks Sammy" Dean said as he hissed when John started prodding the open wounds. He wished Sammy had stayed in the bathroom a little longer so he wouldn't have see the wounds before he got them covered.
"No, it's worse" John stated as he saw signs of infection beginning to take hold in Dean's leg. "These wounds are becoming infected so now I am going to have to go appropriate some frigging antibiotics since we used the last of them because of Sam's tonsillitis last week.
John stood up and pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wallet and tossed it at Sammy as he said "Don't go taking your fucking time boy, get back here as fast as you can with those bandages so I can get the meds your brother is going to need to keep from getting blood poisoning or something worse in his leg." He then turned his back to Sammy and pulled some holy water out of their stash to wash out the claw marks that encompassed most of Dean's lower leg.
Sam looked at Dean with a lone tear trailing down his face and mouthed the words "I'm sorry" before turning quickly and fleeing out the door not giving Dean a chance to respond to what he had said.
"Why the hell did you have to be so hard on him?" Dean asked as John uncapped the jug of holy water.
"Because he's got to start keeping his head in the game and start acting like the hunter he needs to be" John said as he poured the holy water on Dean's leg. John watched as Dean grimaced from the burning sensation of the water cleaning out the wounds. John knew from experience how painful it was and he didn't enjoy having to put his oldest child through that particular experience.
After John finished cleaning out and sterilizing the wounds, he grabbed the needle and nylon thread that he would need to stitch up the deepest of the cuts. While he stitched he said, "You know as well a I do Dean that Sammy wasn't paying attention to the hunt. If he hadn't had his nose stuck in a damn book to study for some insignificant test, then this wouldn't have happened."
"You don't know that" Dean countered ready to defend Sammy just as long as he had to.
Getting tired of arguing with Dean, John looked his oldest son in the eyes and said "Tell me Dean, how do you think Sammy would have felt if you had gotten killed because he chose to disobey a direct order to watch the perimeter as we searched the black dog's hunting ground.
"But I wasn't killed" Dean stated obviously as he tried to reason with his dad. "Whether you like it or not Dad, Sammy is never going to be your perfect little soldier. He doesn't look at the hunting life the way that we do."
"And that right there is the damn problem with the kid" John spit out with obvious contempt on his face. "You would think the kid would want to hunt down the thing that killed your mother, destroyed our lives. But no, he has to be the bleeding heart king and question everything that we do. I'm sick of it Dean. I promised you over three years ago that I would let you take charge with Sammy, but that stops now seeing as how he has become a liability on the hunt. I can't afford to turn the other cheek when his stupid mistakes could get you killed."
"Sammy is not a liability" Dean countered as his father used the last of the gauze in the first aid kit to wrap the bottom portion of his leg. "I already told you it was my fault that I had gotten hurt. It was me who chose to throw myself in front of the black dog. It was my decision to make and I would do it again in a heartbeat."
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of Dean, that you'll disregard the danger of your actions and get yourself killed one day. Don't get me wrong, I don't want Sammy to get hurt either. I just want both of my boys to understand that we could be facing a life or death situation every time we go out on a hunt, and because of that, we've got to be on guard at all times.
"Sammy understands that dad, he'll do better next time if you'll just give him the chance to show you. Just ease up on him some and let him know that you trust him.
"I'm sorry Dean, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust him to watch our backs on a hunt ever again. Starting bright and early tomorrow morning, I am going to start putting you boys through some stringent training exercises to make sure Sammy is ready for the next hunt whether he likes it or not.
Unbeknownst to John or Dean, Sam had overheard the last half of their conversation as he stood outside the door.