A/N: This is John Winchester's POV, pre-series. Now, I'm pretty sure that Big John realized the error of his ways by the time "In My Time Of Dying" rolled around. Remember he told Dean: "I made you grow up too fast." Before then? John didn't have a clue. This is not a John bash. I love him, and I miss him, but John's parenting skills were not the best. Dude did the best he could in a bad situation, but sometimes I would dearly love to bitchslap him into the middle of next week.

A/N #2: I have to think that at some time in his young life Dean was diagnosed by the good folks from Children and Family Services. They probably go by a different name in your state. From Wikipedia, re: Attachment Disorder: "Boris and Zeanah also describe a condition they term "secure base distortion". In this situation, the child has a preferred familiar caregiver, but the relationship is such that the child cannot use the adult for safety while gradually exploring the environment. Such children may endanger themselves, may cling to the adult, may be excessively compliant, or may show role reversals in which they care for or punish the adult."

The third type of disorder discussed by Boris and Zeanah is termed "disrupted attachment". This type of problem, which is not covered under other approaches to disordered attachment, results from an abrupt separation or loss of a familiar caregiver to whom attachment has developed. The young child's reaction to such a loss is parallel to the grief reaction of an older person, with progressive changes from protest (crying and searching) to despair, sadness, and withdrawal from communication or play, and finally detachment from the original relationship and recovery of social and play activities."

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. This is for entertainment only, and not for profit.

Chapter 13- Family Remains

Knew something was wrong that night when Dean didn't answer his cell.

I expect that kind of thing from Sam. But Dean? No. Even if he'd found some young lady to spend the night with, he'd stop what he was doing, come when I call, stay put when I tell him to.

Sam used to bitch at me about not answering my cell right away. I don't need to take every call. This ain't no democracy, folks.

Dean gets it. Sam never did.

There was a moment when I thought I'd never get him out of that rec center. Thought I'd lost him for good. That wild look in his eyes…Dean's never looked at me like that. Didn't dawn on me until later that he'd been mind-fucked. Thought there was a demon inside him at first.

The things he said to me?

"How the hell would you know this isn't me? I'm just an extra pair of hands, right? Go here, do this, kill that."

Whatever poison they pumped into him had my boy twisted all around.

Should have known, though, he'd be wide open for something like that. Dedan hasn't been right since Sam left. Wasn't like I didn't see that coming.

Never would let on, but I was scared shitless too. Sam out there in the world, looking for normal, when we know normal's just an illusion. The idea that I couldn't protect him anymore…I couldn't let on that it scared me. We're family. We're supposed to stick together. Sam knows what's out there, he knows, but he still decided to leave.

"You walk out that door, Sam, don't bother to come back." I said it, and I meant it at the time.

The fights were getting louder and longer. Toilet paper, motel rooms, food, I mean damn near everything. He bitched at me just for the sake of bitching. I knew the first argument we had wasn't gonna be the last, and it only got worse, year after year. That damn growth spurt of his only made it worse. He wasn't Sammy anymore, he was Sam, and he'd stand there with his chin stuck out like he was daring me to take a swing at him. His hands were balled into fists and I swear to God I wanted to kick his ass.

Sam pushed, fought me on damn near everything. I pushed back, and Dean usually got in the middle.

We packed up the morning after Sam left. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could feel something in the air. Dean was quiet, too quiet. You have to understand, the only time this kid is quiet is when he's asleep or knocked cold. That morning he moved around the house like a ghost as he packed everything up. Reminded me of the way he went quiet after Mary died. Whatever this was bothered the hell out of me. We were loading up the Impala, and I decided to force the issue, get it all out in the open. I needed Dean sharp for the hunt. We weren't taking this crap out on the road with us.

"You got something to say to me?"

Dean stood there with his duffel on his right shoulder. He looked me right in the eyes and he didn't blink. "No sir."

"You sure about that?"

"Yes sir. I'm sure."

Dean hides a lot. I know that. Does it bother me? A little. Sometimes I look at him and I wonder exactly what's going on inside that head of his.

Never had that problem with Sam. I always knew what was on his mind, especially later.

I've walked in on Dean taping himself up after a hunt. "It's just a broken finger, Dad." That's what he'd say. "It's no big deal. I zigged when I shoulda zagged."

Broken ribs another time.

He sprained his right ankle dodging a dining room table this 'geist threw at him one time. Couldn't hide the way he limped around. Tried to play it off as a muscle cramp until I grabbed him and played medic.

This isn't the life I wanted for my boys, but it's the only life we've got now. We don't have normal. Never will. Normal died the night Mary did.

Sometimes I wonder what she would think if she saw the way we live now.

Hardest time was after she died. Everybody was coming up to me trying to tell me that I didn't see what I saw that night, that Mary couldn't have been stuck on the ceiling over Sammy's crib. Got to the point that I wanted to believe what they told me. I wanted to, but I couldn't.

I know what I saw.

Dean did exactly what I told him to that night. He took Sam and ran out of the house. That's the way he's been from then on.

He got quiet after Mary died. Didn't say a word for months. The social workers were talking bullshit. "Secure base distortion." "Disrupted attachment." That was crap, and I knew it. Dean got himself together, just like I knew he would. Dean's solid. Dependable. He's always got my back. Mine and Sam's.

That business in Fort Douglas? That was the first and only time Dean ever disobeyed a direct order of mine. I told him to stay with Sam. He didn't. Sam almost died that night.

I depended on Dean. Depended on him to watch Sam, to guard whatever place we were holed up in at the time.

I went out hunting that Shtriga and when I came back it was in the damn apartment, it had Sam and all I could think about was I was gonna lose Sam to these damn things and it was all because Dean had fucked up, big time. He didn't do what I told him to, and Sam nearly paid the price.

I dropped them off with Jim Murphy in Blue Earth after I drove the damn thing off. I went back out on the hunt, and the damn thing had disappeared. I gotta admit I didn't want to hear Jim's thoughts on the matter when I came back. Dean was only nine years old at the time, but he's my son. I trained him, but he fucked up anyway. Dean knows better. Jim was of the opinion that Dean had learned his lesson.

I made damn sure he did.

Making him do drills to punish him wouldn't have worked. Had to be something that would hurt him more.

I gave him the cold shoulder for six weeks. I did it for his own good.

I never had any problems with Dean.

Didn't want to start having any. If that sounds harsh, I don't give a damn.

I need to know that Dean will do what I say, when I say, no questions asked. He's not going to be a victim out here, and neither is Sam, not if I have anything to do about it.

You think I don't remember how Dean was when he was little? Kid had a smile that could light up a room. He was a handful, always crawling around the house, getting into everything. He made Mary laugh. He could always make me feel better after a hard day. That's something that's never changed.

I've staggered back to wherever we called home at night or in the morning, cut and bruised and beat all to hell, wiped out by the things I saw, the things I had to do to stay alive.

Dean would always meet me at the door. Even when he was little, he'd tell me "It's okay, Dad. It's okay." He'd go get a wet towel and wipe the blood and muck off my face.

Later on, when he was older, he'd patch me up, take me to the hospital when I needed it.

He was always there, for me, and for Sam. He'd sleep in Sam's crib, curled up around the boy.

Dean understands. I could leave him and Sam alone, in an apartment, in a cabin, motel room, where ever, while I went hunting, sometimes for a couple of weeks at a time, and things were always fine when I got back. Dean took care of Sam while I was gone, always made sure he was safe and fed. "Take care of your brother." That's what I told him, and that's what he's always done.

Sam hated being on the road. Dean never minded. Never complained. Not once.

After Sam left for Stanford I left Dean in the middle of the night a few times. I'd get a call and I'd have to go. Might be a lead on the Demon. Or somebody needed help.

Dean was awake sometimes. I could tell by the way he breathed. Nobody else could tell, but I could. Never said a word. I think that was his way of telling me that he'd be fine, everything was okay. I noticed after we got clear of the rec center he got spooked several times; I could see it in his eyes. He couldn't hide it, seemed convinced that I was going to ditch him.

That was the mind fuck talking. I can leave Dean on his own, and he does just fine.

Even though he was kicking my ass that night, I gotta admit I was kind of proud of him back there. He's got all the moves I taught him and then some, all right. I don't doubt Dean's ability to hunt, to take care of himself and Sam. Dean's better than I ever thought he would be. I knew that from the first time I taught him to shoot. He aced all ten bottles on that wall.

As good as he is, Dean's got to be better. I'd push him, and he seemed to thrive on the extra attention. He can improvise like a mad sonofabitch on hunts, and that scares the hell out of me sometimes. The thing is, what he does, works. He's got an instinct for the job, and I can't argue with that. Sometimes we get wrong intel on the situation and the fugly. Sometimes, no matter how well you do the research things aren't what they seem to be. Some fuglies evolve. They change. Don't like to think about that, but it happens.

It happens more often than I really want to think about.

Pastor Jim called again to check on us at the farmhouse. He seemed relieved when he found out that Dean hadn't bashed my head in or slit my throat. Heard from Bobby Singer and a couple of other hunters. I had feelers out about that Demon I was tracking. Nothing came up, so I didn't have to leave. Dean needed the extra time to get himself together.

It happens like that sometimes, a lot of down time after a job. Funny how things worked out like that.

Kate called twice. She just wanted to talk about Adam, wanted to know when I was coming by again. Would I have left if she needed me? No question about that. I could have left Dean there at the farmhouse for a month and he would have been fine when I got back.

I don't want it to be like this. I don't. I love my sons. I don't want to lose anyone else that I love. Dean's already in the life, and he's not going to leave it. I'll protect Sam as much as I can. I can't help but think that he won't find what he's looking for at Stanford.

I pray to God that what I'm looking for doesn't find him.

I feel like I betrayed Mary somehow. I can make all the excuses in the world, that I was injured and lonely, and all that doesn't change the fact that Kate and I have a son. I'm not in his life as much as I should be, but Adam's not going to be a hunter. I'll see to that.

The jobs seemed to find us when we got back out on the road. Black dogs, spirits, 'geists. You name it and we hunted it down.

Rick Morse called me about those pixies one day. Made me laugh when I heard it. At first we didn't know what we were really dealing with, but I got a clue when the pranks started out non-lethal and stayed that way. Later on Morse looked at me all wide-eyed and said, "This is what you and your kid do all day, all the time?"

I just nodded. "Yep."


We didn't kill anything that time. That was the exception. We got busy and got bloody everywhere else.

Dean knows what I want him to do, and I don't have to say much. Most of the time I don't have to say anything at all. I've saved his ass on several occasions, but believe me, he's saved mine too. I've trusted Dean with my life. Goes without saying. Hell yeah, I love him. Maybe I don't say it as much as I should, but we can't afford to get soft. Sometimes I think about all that girly stuff Sam talks about. Feelings. They don't do much good out here.

And then sometimes I say "to hell with it", grab whichever kid is closest and hug the hell out of him.

And then send them off on a two mile run.

First time I did it Dean squawked, but he didn't pull away from me. He never does, no matter how old he gets.

Let's just say I could get away with that when Sam was Sammy, and leave it at that.

I've heard all the talk I ever want to hear about Heaven and the Pearly Gates. Pastor Jim means well, but I don't want to listen about things like that. Mary's gone now. She's gone and she's not coming back, and the only thing I can do is hunt down the bastard that killed her. I don't want to just send him back to hell.

I want to annihilate the fucker. Completely.

Finally got some solid leads on the bastard. This Demon is one nasty sonofabitch. I've never seen anything like this before.

I bought the truck, gave Dean the keys to the Impala and all the information he needs about his job. He knows the drill and he's got my cell phone. He'll keep in touch. We can split up now, cover more ground that way. It's better if Dean goes his own way. I can't make the moves I would ordinarily make if I had to worry about him.

Kid's solid, steady as a rock. He left first, and he never looked back.

Don't know how I could do this without him. I know sometimes I'm hard on him, but it's life and death out here, and worse.

My boy's tough.

Dean can take it. I know he can.

A/N: Well, that's it. Patricide is officially complete. Hope you enjoyed it, Phoebe! I appreciate all the attention this fic attracted. I'm very glad you guys enjoyed it, and a big thank you to everybody who read and reviewed and lurked!