"How is he?"
Sam turned at the sound of his father's voice, both surprised and not that he had finally shown up.
John had been completely silent since yesterday when he walked out after Dean's confession. Sam didn't try calling their father. He stood by his words months ago. If John Winchester couldn't handle Dean's new identity, they didn't need him.
Sam had left their room the following morning to get him and his brother breakfast. Sam was paying for the foil-wrapped breakfast burritos when John came up behind him.
Sam calmly accepted his change from the cashier, gathered up the paper bag with the breakfast food, and turned to his father with no hint of warmth. "Wiped out."
John silently picked up the cardboard holder with two cups of coffee off the counter and followed Sam out of the restaurant.
Sam had walked to a diner two buildings over from their hotel. When he and John were walking through the parking lot, Sam added, "He slept most of yesterday when we got back to our room."
John still said nothing.
"He turned into the wolf once," Sam said casually, as though it were as little as discussing the weather. "Just to make sure what you'd done to him hadn't damaged the wolf."
John faltered but still didn't speak.
"You'll be glad to know you didn't cause any permanent damage," Sam said haughtily.
"It wouldn't have been damage for the wolf to be gone," John argued.
"Yes, it would have been," Sam insisted. "That's what you don't get, Dad."
"That Dean wants to be like this? No, I don't get that. How can he do this to himself?"
Sam stopped walking and turned to face his father. "You haven't wanted to understand. You don't see him the way I do, Dad. As the wolf. Happy. Dean is happy, you know that? When you're not busting his chops about what he's become, he's the happiest I've ever seen him."
John looked down at the cups he was carrying.
Sam sighed. Indignation was replaced with sadness. Sam had learned to dismiss John and his opinions years ago, but Dean still wanted their father's approval.
"Is it so impossible for you to accept this? It's what Dean wants," Sam pleaded, not for his sake, but for Dean's.
John sighed. "What happened yesterday… I won't do that to him again. Not when I know he doesn't want me to. But I don't know if I can ever understand it. I'm going to need time."
Sam supposed they would have to be satisfied with John's vow not to try to tear out the wolf against Dean's will. He began walking again and John, sullen and silent, followed.
Sam reached the room he shared with Dean and slid in the key card. When he opened the door, he saw Dean was out of bed, riffling through his bag with his back to the door.
"Breakfast," Sam announced as he entered, John close on his heels.
Dean spoke without turning, "Sammy, first forest we find on our way out of here, we have to stop. I won't feel right in my skin again until I get to be the wolf for more than a few-" Dean stopped cold when he turned and saw his father.
John cleared his throat awkwardly. "Hey, Dean."
Dean cut a look at Sam, who moved to the side of the room and hopefully out of the way. This was a conversation that needed to happen between John and Dean, for better or worse.
"Dad," Dean finally returned woodenly.
John stared at Dean a long moment. Probably trying to figure out the boy he always thought he knew backward and forward.
Sam could feel the tension in the room. Usually, this kind of Winchester family unrest was his doing. It was strange to not be the eye of the storm for once.
John set the coffee down on a nearby dresser and stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets. "Look, Dean… I can't say I understand, but if this it what you want… I just want you to know I won't try to get it out of you. Not until you change your mind."
Dean stiffened. "I won't change my mind."
John looked pained by that admission. "Well, if you ever do… I'll keep the amulet, and the incantation to call the shaman spirit. So, you know… that's always an option."
Dean didn't respond to that.
"So…" John tried to sound casual, "where are you boys headed now?"
Recalling Dean's aborted words when they first walked in, Sam answered, "The woods first. Then, who knows."
John eyed Dean critically.
Dean averted his eyes.
John nodded. "Right."
The silence that fell was almost maddeningly.
John was the one to break it. "Listen, boys?"
Both sons looked at their father.
John frowned. "You two look out for each other, okay?"
Usually, John bade Dean to watch out for Sam, the little brother. This time, the order was given to both.
"We always do, Dad," Dean said.
John nodded. "Well, I should be hitting the road." He turned to go but stopped, his hand frozen on the doorknob. He looked back at Dean, hesitant.
"Dad?" Dean asked carefully.
John considered his words a long time before speaking. "Can I see it?"
Dean blinked, surprised, and shot a questioning look over at Sam. Sam was just as startled. He would not expect their father to want to see the very thing in Dean he reviled. Could he actually be asking because he wanted to try and see Dean the way Sam described him? It seemed like hoping for too much from through and through hunter John Winchester.
John offered a one-shouldered shrug. "The only time I've seen… it… you were bleeding and… I didn't know it was…" John smirked sickly and gave a dismissive shake of his head. "Never mind." He turned back to the door.
"Wait," Dean called out.
John froze and turned slowly back to Dean.
Dean stood stock still a moment, then he took off his flannel shirt.
Sam put down the bag of burritos and stepped closer to Dean. He didn't know why, but he felt like he should be nearby for support… or backup.
Dean peeled off his t-shirt. John watched, morbidly fascinated.
Sam sat on the end of Dean's bed as Dean kicked off his shoes and pulled off his socks.
John looked uncomfortable when Dean moved to stepping out his jeans and underwear. Sam would have laughed under any other circumstances. He was so used to this by now that he didn't flinch. And even if it still bothered him, he wouldn't so much as bat an eye in front of John. He had a point to make.
Naked, Dean knelt on the ground, in contact with the carpet by the balls of his feet and the tips of his fingers.
He lowered his head toward his chest purposefully.
When he lifted his eyes to John again, they were the gold eyes of the wolf.
John drew back a step and stared.
Dean, the wolf, looked up solemnly at his father. Sam knew the intense look of the wolf that was now leveled at John. It was the wolf's power, its grace, its natural place in the universe, all contained in its golden eyes. Sam wondered how John could see the breathtaking animal and think it wrong.
Dean took half a step toward John.
Like a reflex, John took half a step back.
Dean stopped cold in his tracks and looked long and hard at his father. Sam scowled at John, knowing neither his brother nor his father was paying attention to him. Did John actually think Dean was at all dangerous? Or was it just the hunter that John was to his very core making him retreat?
If so, Sam supposed they should count themselves lucky John hadn't pulled a weapon.
John's expression grew taut when he realized what he'd done. So it had been automatic. That was better than consciously recoiling from his son. But still, it was too late to take it back.
Giving up on approaching their father, Dean jumped up on the bed and padded across the mattress over to where Sam sat. Sam, as always, glanced at the gold amulet hanging around Dean's neck. The reminder of the man that was in the wolf.
Dean stood by Sam's shoulder as both sons leveled their father with an expectant look. Brown-green hazel and gold eyes locked on John Winchester, both stares saying 'this is how things are, Dad… what are you going to do about it?'
John finally nodded. Maybe he understood, maybe he didn't. It didn't matter anymore. It didn't hinge on John's approval. "Well, um… be careful… boys."
With one last assessing look at Dean in wolf form, John left.
Sam sighed, the tension that had kept his spine locked ramrod straight dissipating, and Dean looked toward him.
Sam offered a faint smile. "He'll come around."
Dean's golden gaze was piercing.
Sam smiled again, and this time it was genuine. "Let's get out of here."
Some of the intensity lifted from the wolf's eyes, and Dean's tail swayed in a hint of a wag.
A/Ns: So that's it, fellow SPN fans, the end of Wild by Skye. I hope you enjoyed it.
While I was writing this fic, I made a video to go with it, so for those of you nearly as geeky as I am who might be interested in seeing it, I have it posted on my LJ.
I usually do not do this, but I have two questions for you guys. One is because I am merely curious. The second is because if you want it, you got it.
One - I'd really like to know what you guys thought of Skye. As I said before, women in the SPN fandom don't fair well, and I have this theory that only the writer of OC female characters in SPN fic ever truly like them. Be brutally honest with me, I can take it... did you hate her?
Two - I couldn't leave the Skyeverse (as Sierra Phoenix dubbed it) alone. I had just too much fun in it, and the Muse wouldn't walk away. I wrote several short stories in the Skyeverse and wondered if anyone besides me was interested. I guess this could tie in to question number one - if I'm the only one who likes Skye, it may be I'm the only one who cares for more of the Skyeverse!