This is a snippet that popped into my mind while thinking about Dean's comment, "He would swing by Stanford whenever he could, to check up on you," to Sam about John, and the phone conversation between Sam and John in Scarecrow. Basically, it's what happened when John found out about Jess. So obviously, spoilers for the pilot, but nothing else.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Supernatural! Do you think I'd be writing fanfiction if I did?
John let out a sigh of relief as the roads beneath his truck changed from dirt outlines and gravel to actual pavement. After three weeks of tracking a string of wendigo attacks that had occurred up and down the backbone of the Appalachian Mountains, he was more than ready to get back to civilization. The mountain roads were surprisingly busier than he had expected, but he took a brief moment to look at the blaze of colors on the trees around him that was the Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn, and understood these tourists' desire to see it. He felt a pang of sorrow as he glanced at the date. It was November 17. He had missed the anniversary of Mary's death. He'd visit her grave on his way west to check up on Dean. Hopefully his son had found his journal with the coordinates and had taken out the Woman in White by now, but it couldn't hurt to make sure.
Thinking about Dean, he felt a surge of pride for his son, who had more than demonstrated he was ready to hunt solo full-time so John could focus on finding the thing that had killed his wife and reciprocating in kind. As he drove, the sun began to set and John felt weariness set in. He wasn't as young as he once was, and camping in the cold for three weeks would have tired him even when he was in peak condition in the Marines. It was time to rest, then. He began to look for exits off the interstate with motels, and pulled off onto the next ramp. Coming to a motel that proclaimed itself the 'Boone Mountain Motel', he ordered a single room for two days. 'Might as well try and get some more research in tomorrow, who knows what happened while I was in the middle of nowhere,' he thought as he fell to the bed and let sleep overtake him.
John woke up the next morning with the stiffness of sleeping on the ground for such a long time making itself known when his joints creaked as he sat up. But even that was better than he had felt in a while. He went through his morning routine, grateful for the real, hot shower no matter how low the water pressure was and found the closest diner so he could eat. After breakfast, John found the local library and headed straight for the computers. Typing 'cattle mutilations, electrical storms' into the search engine, he waited for the results to pop up. If anything came up, he would see if there had been a fire in the area later.
As the computer listed the results of the search, he clicked on the first link. At the location on the map, his heart stopped. In bold type across the top of the screen, 'Palo Alto, California' could be seen. John's thoughts stopped on his younger son, whom he hadn't talked to in four years, along with his last words, "If you walk out that door, you stay gone and never show your face to us again!" He had since regretted those words, and whenever he was in California he did a quick drive-by Palo Alto and Stanford just to check up on Sammy. He was afraid and a little angry at what he might find, since Sam had been a magnet for the supernatural ever since the fire that had killed Mary. And now there was a supernatural presence in the very city his son now lived in – he just hoped that Sam had kept on protecting himself, even if he wasn't actively hunting.
He wondered if that was false hope speaking, but decided it wasn't. Sam was a smart kid – he had gotten a full ride to Stanford, after all, and knew the dangers lurking in the dark and what they could do. Now he had to check and see if a fire had occurred. If it hadn't… well, John was considering breaking his four years of silence and calling Sam to warn him of the danger. A brief thought, 'You knew Sam would be safer with you, that's why you didn't want him to go, and now something may have found him!' surfaced in his mind, but he quickly squashed it. Worried now, he typed 'mysterious fire, Palo Alto' into the search engine, drumming his fingers as the page loaded. The most recent link, a headline for Palo Alto's newspaper, screamed at him, "STANFORD STUDENT DIES IN APARTMENT FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN".
'Please, please, please don't be Sammy, don't be my son!' he thought as he hurriedly clicked the link. 'If he died thinking I hated him…' Underneath the bold headline, the first sentence ran, "Stanford student Jessica Lee Moore, age 21, died in a mysterious apartment fire in the early morning of Monday, November 2nd." John felt a pang of relief, 'It's not Sam, thank goodness, but the poor girl… why was it after you?' Reading on, he saw "After inspecting the apartment, the police have determined the cause to be faulty wiring. Jessica shared the apartment with her boyfriend, Samuel Winchester, also a Stanford student. Samuel, who was also present in the apartment at the time of the fire, suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation. He was unavailable to give a statement to the press, but a friend of the couple, Rebecca Warren, had this to say about Jessica and the couple: 'Jess was one of my best friends, and I'm really going to miss her. She was always so vibrant, full of life, and lit up a room whenever she walked in. Sam's taking it especially hard, but he has every reason to. If there was any one couple who was the definition of soulmates, it was Sam and Jess. I mean, I took one look at them together and I knew it was destiny, they made such a perfect match.'
John looked away, unable to keep reading as the impact of the words sunk in. Sam had tried his hardest to find his 'normal' life, it seemed, but the supernatural came and took it away anyway. But at least he had gotten four happy years. Sam hadn't been the one physically hurt in the fire, and for that John was grateful, but Sam had been directly and profoundly affected. 'Just like me… oh, Mary, I miss you so much! But at least I had Dean and Sam to remind me of you – Sam doesn't have anything left of Jessica except his memories of her.' He felt a pang of sorrow for his son; after so many years of headbutting over their differences, they finally had something in common other than the hunt and genetics, but it was the worst possible commonality they could have shared. He had seen Jessica once or twice on one of his drive-bys through Stanford, and the first thing that struck him was just how similar she was to Mary, then as he spent more time observing them, he saw, just like this Rebecca Warren had, just how well-suited Sam and Jess had been for each other. Sam was serious and intense while Jessica was flighty and quirky; and they influenced each other in the perfect ways. Jessica could drag Sam away from his studies if she thought he was getting too intense, and Sam could be Jessica's grounding force.
He couldn't bring himself to read any more at that moment, but he would need the article to help him track the thing's movements and try and find a common denominator and a pattern to link them together. Then he might be able to predict where it would strike next, intercept it, and kill it. That was the overall plan anyway. Right now, though, he couldn't get his mind off his younger son and the tragedy he had just experienced. John wished he could be in California to comfort Sam, but Sam probably didn't even want to see him, with John's final words before Sam left for Stanford. That left Dean, who had been closer to Sammy than he had ever been, and would probably rush immediately to Palo Alto. That would be better for Dean, too, who had been slightly more unfocused ever since Sam had left. He was still an excellent hunter, good enough to hunt on his own, but there seemed to be a part of him that was missing, and that part's name was Sam. Dean needed Sam back with him, and badly. He hit the print button on the computer and shut it down, gathering the article as he left.
He went back out into the parking lot and got into his truck. Reaching under the passenger seat, he found his cell phone car charger and plugged it in, turning on his phone as he did so. His phone beeped, telling him he had new messages. They were all from Dean, asking him where he was and if he was ok, but the last message made him pause. Dean's voice, cracking a little, said, 'Dad, it's me again. I don't know when you'll get this but I hope it's soon. It's Sam, Dad. He's with me, actually. His girlfriend, Jess, died… like Mom did, and he hasn't exactly been taking it well. So we're out looking for you. I know I've told you to come find me in about a million other messages, but I just want to say it again. Please come find us Dad. For Sam's sake. Bye.' As the message ended, John's heart broke all over again.
Well, that's it and thanks so much for reading! However, I'm toying with the idea of a sequel to be set during the Scarecrow phone conversation I mentioned above, but it's up to y'all to decide if I should write it or not. Let me know in a review!