SOMETIMES YOU LISTEN, BUT JUST YOU DON'T HEAR
Beta Extraordinaire: Kokoda2007
John Winchester gazed down at Sam's sleeping face, large fingers tugging through the unruly mop of hair. It had been the longest week of John's life. He shuddered unconsciously; the memory of the hunt that hurt his boy still weighed heavily on his mind. He had shot his own son. In fourteen years of protecting his children from the supernatural, it had been his own bullet that had almost killed his boy. He shook his head, and sucked in a weary breath, shaking off guilt was not as easy as he had originally thought.
Dean eased quietly back into the hospital room, door swinging closed in his wake.
"Caleb get off okay?" John questioned, eyes never moving from the pale face of his youngest.
"Yeah, he's gone." Dean flopped down against the plastic chair, fingers grabbing up the Guns and Ammo magazine he had read at least ten times in the last week.
It had been a traumatic week for Dean, having to stand by and watch as his little brother recovered from a bullet wound inflected by their Dad. The thought still pissed him off, but after seeing the guilt his father carried around, he knew it was just a horrific accident. He smiled at the reassurances that Caleb had offered him, helping him to stay focused on what was important…getting Sammy well. The Winchesters had few friends in their crazy life, and Dean was glad he could count on Caleb.
The older brother raised his head from the magazine, his green eyes resting on his stoic father. He knew his Dad was carrying around a truck load of guilt, but he didn't know how to help him get past it. Sam was going to be fine, he was going home today. His father really needed to come to terms with it and just let it go.
Sam's arms moved slowly against the white sheets, sleepy lids fluttering open. He blinked several times at the face that rested above him.
"Dad," he said questioningly, as he stared up at his father's sad eyes.
"Hey buddy, how you feeling?" John whispered, his hand falling silently to his side.
"I'm good." Sam yawned, fingers rubbing his drowsy face, concerned orbs blinking up at his Dad. "You okay?"
John smiled. This child was such a caring, giving soul; so much like Mary.
"I'm fine, Sammy, just fine."
"You don't look fine Dad, you look sad," the fourteen year olds honest words radiated around the room.
Dean's head rose from the magazine, listening attentively to his brother.
John shuffled away from the bed to stand at the window, face staring blankly out at the bustling street below them, grief weighing heavy on his slumped shoulders.
"It wasn't your fault Dad…" Sam whispered as he stared at his father's forlorn face.
John raised his head to gaze at his youngest son, forgiveness radiating from Sam's innocent features. How could his boy be so forgiving, so understanding? He had SHOT him. He felt his boys fingers curl around his wrist, tugging gently at his arm.
"Com'on Dad, it was an accident." Sammy persisted firmly; face pleading with his father to forgive himself.
"Yeah Dad, listen to Sammy, it was an accident." Dean spoke decisively from across the room, firm agreement plastered on his face.
John's fingers grasped his youngest hand tightly as he moved back to stand by the bed; his strong arms reached around Sam, tugging him gently into a hug. His fingers caressed the nap of his boy's neck in a caring motion. He hastily pulled away to smile widely at his boys, all guilt ebbing slowly from his face. He was a lucky man.
The ride from the hospital to the Winchester's small rental house was uneventful, John driving the Impala, Dean turned sideways in the passenger seat, staring intently at his dozing little brother. Both men were lost in their own thoughts, obviously relieved that their youngest family member was going home. The radio stayed off, silence and Sam's quiet breathing, the only noise as the car hummed down the road.
John stared absently out the front windshield, eyes darting to the mirror to check on his son. His boy was going to have to train harder, be more aware of what was going on around him during a hunt. He had been given a second chance with his youngest, and he knew it. The events of the last week had been a close call, too close; he would not let that happen again.
Dean watched as his baby brother slept, long legs curled at the knees against the leather seat, blanket clutched in his fingers just beneath his chin. Dean smiled. The occurrences of the last week had him reevaluating his relationship with Sam. Although he never spoke up when his Dad and Sam were arguing, he realized now, that was about to change. Looking out for Sam was his number one priority, and from now on, his Dad would not be putting Sammy at risk. If that meant arguing with their Dad, then so be it.
The classic car eased into the driveway of the old rental house, pulling slowly to a stop.
"You get the front door; I'll get your brother." John smiled assuredly at Dean.
"No , you get the door, and I'll get my brother ." Dean said matter of fact as he pushed the passenger door open.
John gave his eldest a quizzical look, but nodded in conformity, a smile curling to his lips. Dean, always the definitive big brother.
The knock on the front door pulled Dean from the television, remote setting lax against his palm. He glanced at Sam, who was almost asleep against the ratty green couch. His eyes darted to their father, who was sitting amongst a mound of research at the tiny dining room table.
John's face rose from the paperwork to gaze quizzically across the room.
"Are we expecting anyone?" He asked curiously as he looked from Dean to Sam.
Sam pushed himself up against the cushions, tugging the blanket along with him. "No sir."
"Nope." Dean nodded to his father and grabbed up his handgun, stuffing it quickly into the back of his worn blue jeans. He moved to stand in front of the couch, next to Sam.
John dropped the papers to the table, rising abruptly and moving slowly to the front door.
Another rapid knock permeated against the wood, and a high pitched voice echoed through the door and around the room.
John's brow furrowed. Who the hell is that? He gave Dean one last look, then wrenched the door open. His eyes dropped downward to the top of an elderly woman's head. He took a step back.
Dean's looked surprised at the neatly dressed older woman standing in front of his Dad; she was definitely a librarian or something. He relaxed and released the grip he had on his handgun as he eased down to sit on the end of the couch, hand resting on Sam's blanket covered feet.
"Hello there." The graying, older woman said to John. "I'm looking for Samuel Winchester, does he live here?"
"Mrs. Wiggins." Sam muttered eyes growing wide with disbelief.
John was taken aback. What did this old lady want with his son? His face darted from the woman to Sam and back.
"Yes, I'm John Winchester, his father, is there something I can help you with?" John said sternly.
Dean looked curiously at his little brother and to the woman that had now pushed around John and stepped assuredly into their living room.
"I'm Sam's English teacher, Mrs. Wiggins," she said confidently, her eyes now scanning the sparsely furnished room. A wide smile fell to her lips when she spotted Sam. "Samuel Winchester, where have you been?" She stepped assuredly past John.
John couldn't help the smirk that rose to his lips as he was pushed aside by the abrasive older woman. He turned and watched his youngest shuffle uncomfortably against the couch cushions with the demanding teacher's words.
Sam's mouth falling open, stunned, he stared blankly at the teacher.
"Ah…ah…Sam's been sick with the flu." Dean offered suddenly seeing his little brother's distress. He stood and grinned at the woman.
"Oh, Samuel, I am so sorry. I hope you are feeling better." The teacher fumbled her hand into her large shoulder bag as all three Winchester's gaped at her, unsure of what she was doing in their living room, or what she would do next.
"I have the award." She smiled at Sam as she whipped a square of paper from her bag excitedly.
"Award?" John and Dean both said simultaneously.
Mrs. Wiggin's fingers flapped a piece of paper down in front of Sam's face, waggling it back and forth. "We were counting on you to be at the ceremony with your family…so it was a little disappointing when you didn't show up."
The matronly woman's head rose and she glared at John and Dean as she spoke.
Sam stared wide eyed at the award and Mrs. Wiggins.
Dean stifled a laugh as his father seemed to shrink back from the woman's harsh glare.
"He was sick." John muttered uncomfortably. Okay, enough of this . "Thank you for bringing it by." His hand reached up and clasped the elderly lady by the elbow, subsequently escorting her toward the front door.
Mrs. Wiggin's fingers released the paper, and it fluttered to the floor.
John pushed the teacher lightly out the doorway to the porch. "Ah…Sam, I hope you feel better." She yelled as she yanked her arm from John's clasping fingers.
With those words, the door shut, leaving Mrs. Wiggins standing confusedly on the rickety front porch.
John turned to see Sam slinking down beneath the blanket, crimson red rising to his pale cheeks. He glanced over at Dean, large grin resting on his face.
Dean smiled. He reached down and grabbed up the paper from the dirty carpet, his eyes falling to the writing. He turned the paper quickly in his hand to face their father, and watched as John's face suddenly beamed. Both men grinned and then looked down to the covered fourteen year old huddled completely beneath the blanket on the couch.
John's large hand ripped the award from Dean's fingers, eyes scanning it with an interested glare.
"A writing award huh?" Dean eased down against the couch slowly, not wanting to jar his recovering little brother; his fingers tugged the blanket down to reveal Sam's embarrassed face.
His little brother rolled his eyes beneath his long bangs attempting to hide his face.
"Is that what you wanted to stay home from the hunt for?" John asked sternly, glaring down at his son.
Sam swallowed convulsively, as he looked up at his Dad.
"Yes. Sir." He whispered.
"Humph…well, you should have said that." John grinned.
Sam and Dean's mouths fell agape. They watched in amazement as John stepped hastily toward the kitchen. His large hand yanked up a magnet and stuck the award beneath it. He grinned at his boys, then, turned back to the paperwork resting on the dining room table.
Dean punched his kid brother lightly on the shoulder. "I'm proud of you kiddo."
Sam blushed, a small smile curling on his lips.
"I think he is too." Dean whispered with a nod towards their Dad, who was already completely engrossed in his research.
Sam's hazel eyes gazed across the room to the paper award, hanging askew beneath the old magnet on the tattered refrigerator. As he watched, it slipped an inch, the thin cardboard way too heavy for the tiny magnet to hold. A warm feeling washed over him. His Dad was proud of him. He turned silently back to the T.V., to see Dean's bright smile glaring at him. It made him grin. He knew it was only a matter of time before the award fell to the ground; to be forgotten, discarded and left behind as the Winchester's moved on, but for one brief moment in time, he felt special.