Four Times John Winchester Got Drunk, and One Time He Didn't
by Innocent Culprit
John Winchester's wedding day began with coffee and a shot of Jim Beam.
He wasn't nervous, more kind of .... freaked.
One week ago he'd been buying a car and just considering asking the question. Then came the Van Halen guy, dead future in-laws and Mary turning round to him in all her grief and rage and asking the question herself.
He'd said yes.
The whole thing - Pastor, chapel and breakfast - was fixed on a wing and prayer and he was going into it hardly knowing which way was up.
So it really had to be Jim Beam when he woke, and then later too much cheap champagne shared amongst too few people. By the time he got to their wedding bed in the Downtowner Inn he was not so much wasted, as high.
And Mary was just rushing things along. Wild-eyed and full of that energy he loved from her, she had him flat on his back and fairly thrumming with desire before they were barely through the door.
"Your Pastor know he was marrying me to a wildcat?" John asked, lips numb from the booze.
"Shush, Jim knows all about me .. he wouldn't have agreed otherwise."
"So ... what? You're going for a world record consummation here .... ooomph .... oh ... kay ... huh."
"Damn," Mary said, settling into a rocking rhythm, "hope I'm not going to have to get you drunk every time."
"No," John found himself murmuring, floating somewhere between champagne and release. "No, no, no ...." and then "Yes, yes, oh yes."
"Babies," Mary said in his ear, "Soon as we can make 'em."
John wasn't quite sure why there was such urgency. But he was off-the-scale happy.
"Yeah," he said. "Think we might have scored one already."
He was right.
Bobby rang to tell them what happened.
"Said they had a ... um ... operational disagreement," explained Sam, who took the call. "Dad's on his way home. Jeez, Dean, shall we go out?"
"You go if you want," Dean said, but of course Sam didn't. He was scared out of his mind when Dad walked on the wild side with tequila, but he wasn't about to leave Dean in the firing line alone.
The falling-out with Bobby had been brewing for months, and the reasons were more or less incomprehensible to Sam who was mostly protected from the hunter code, and even if he hadn't been, would have found it dumb. Dean tried half-heartedly to explain, but he wasn't very good at getting the finer points across to an eleven year-old with a highly-developed appreciation for civilized behavior.
John got back four hours later and he grinned at them as he came through the door.
"I knew you'd hide it," he said, rummaging through the cupboard anyway. "So I took the precaution of bringing my own."
"Course," Dean answered.
"And I drunk most of it already."
"Dad ..." said Sam sadly.
""S"OK, Sammy, 'm not going to be throwing anything tonight. I'll finish this off and go to bed. How's it going, Dean?"
"Bobby called, said you'd been a dick."
"Dean!" said Sam in fright.
Dean cleared up the broken glass later, keeping Sam away with an arm. They got John to lie down and sleep in the end and Sam scrubbed at the carpet until Dean made him go to bed. When he got up for school in the morning, Dean was sitting keeping watch.
"I'm gonna skip it today, Sammy," he said. "So you go get the bus. You're not to walk the short cut without me."
Sam rode the bus to school full of worry but still managed to blow the rest of the class out of the water in the math test. When he got back in the late afternoon, John and Dean were sitting at the kitchen table laughing their asses off.
As far as Dean was concerned, he totally came of age at sixteen, when he spent the night of his birthday with Amy and Barb, who were twins, four years his senior and silly with it. He had no memory of the night of his eighteenth, although Sam said they'd been on a hunt and he'd had to sit in the car. Actually, Dean didn't really like marking things, not even birthdays, but at twenty-one John suddenly said that he must.
Sam wasn't going to develop his occasional penchant for whisky for another year or so, and the beer that formed the basis of the evening made him gassy, but that was OK. He drank Coke and watched in increasing bemusement as his brother attempted to keep up with John bottle for bottle.
"You're so gonna be barfing up later, dude," Sam said to him at ten o'clock.
John's face was a little pink, but he was relaxed and in good humor. He kept clapping Dean on the back.
At eleven Dean was funny as hell, but by midnight he'd stopped talking.
Sam found him railing at the moon at the end of the road, and guided his steps home through rutted puddles and a cold, November wind.
John was brought home by a cop at three in the morning.
He was the one who barfed.
As surely as day follows night and as bad luck follows Winchesters, Sam left his family in the end.
It was easier than you'd think. Nothing but static for months, close calls in the field and John insisting Dean step it up even when he'd got broken bones.
"This is just not me," Sam told his brother. And Sam had an admirable sense of self, at all times. It wasn't until much later he lost that.
"So damn busy protecting me, Dean. Do you even know anything about me? Do you actually care who I am? I don't think so."
The I-don't-think-so was classic Sam. And all the more stinging for that.
Leaving Dad was much harder. John was angry in a way that lit him up and it took all of Sam's considerable backbone to confront him. Being told to stay gone was almost a relief. It only hurt - agony - weeks further on.
New life, new hope. Probably the brightest beacon there'd ever be in the Winchester family history. Sam passed, briefly, and of his own, admirable volition, from the darkness into the light.
John couldn't bear it and drank himself into dangerous oblivion. He woke from it in a warm bed, looked after. Sam was still gone of course. But Dean was there. Stone-cold sober and wearing the cussed, whipped-puppy look.
"We've got things to do, Dad," he said.
As soon as it was all over, soon as the fire had damped down and the earth was back in place, John was striding for the car, shovel over his shoulder.
Sam squinted in the dark to see what Dean was looking like.
Brows drawn. Impassive.
"He's gonna go for it," Sam muttered, picking up the duffle and beginning to walk off after his father.
"Nothin you can do, Sam," Dean told him from behind. "You can't change the day, you can't change a damn thing."
They drove back in the overwhelming silence that marked the twenty-fourth year.
Once through the door John dropped his bag with a clatter, and made for the chipped Belfast sink in the corner. The JW was propped at a jaunty angle against a jar of pickled garlic and there was the noise of the lid spinning off and then bouncing on to the porcelain. Dean shut the door with his foot, shrugged off his pack, then reached inside his jacket for the sore place it had been bumping.
Sam ditched his stuff too. He got far enough into John's space that he could make himself felt.
"OK, Dad, how 'bout you don't drink that?"
John looked at him like he was a changeling just appeared in cadaverous form at his deathbed.
"And why wouldn't I drink this?"
"Because you don't need to."
"Well you wouldn't know," John said calmly, lifting the bottle high so he could peer in at it. It was not quite full but near as damnit.
"Give it me," Sam said. "Let's do something different this year. We don't have to remember Mom like this, we don't have to." He reached out and John swung the bottle away from his grasp and turned away to take a swig.
"Dad," Dean said from the door. "Could maybe use it for something else."
"Oh crap," Sam said. "God's sake, Dean ... you're bleeding."
Dean showed them his hand as he pulled it out from under his jacket. "Need to sit," he said, but instead fell straight down, hitting the floor with a smack before Sam could get there.
They were all out of morphine so John gave Sam the bottle and told him to keep tipping whisky down his brother's throat while he set about digging around for the metal spoke that was lodged in Dean's side.
"Not. Helping," Dean kept saying, but his hand stayed clamped around Sam's, and Sam's was round the bottle neck.
"You drink it down, son," John told him.
Halfway through Sam was saying, "Take another one, Dean." The whisky sloshed each time he scored a direct hit and glooped each time he righted the bottle. Dean moaned that it was burning his lips but other than that didn't make a sound.
He didn't pass out until near the end of the stitching. Sam felt the fingers let go and then the side of Dean's head impacted under his chin.
"Helluva time to start holding his liquor," John said.
When he patted Dean's clammy cheek and left Sam holding him close on the couch, he didn't take the half-empty bottle to bed with him.