AN: Man, I'm on a Supernatural frenzy at the moment! They just keep popping out! I'll get back to my Narnia ones in the end… I just need to get these ones out first. :)

Disclaimer: I don't own. You can't sue. Bugger off.

OoO

The Price of Vengeance

OoO

It was sort of inevitable that Sammy would end up more attached to Dean than to his own father.

With all the time John spent away from his boys – hunting, researching, trying to gather enough money to keep his kids properly looked after, looking for the thing that killed his wife – and between all the hotels, motels and friends-of-Dad's places they stayed, Dean was the only constant thing in young Sammy's life.

It still sucked though, to come home from one of his first hunts to be greeted enthusiastically by his nearly five-year-old eldest son and told that Sammy spoke his first word today. His youngest child had spoken his first word, and John hadn't been there to witness it.

What did that say about the turn their lives had taken?

Still though… Sammy had spoken! He'd said his first word! It didn't really matter that John had missed it – now that Sammy had started talking, it was unlikely he'd stop any time soon.

Dean certainly hadn't, John had reminded himself with a smile as his eldest led him down the hallway, chattering all the while.

"So what did he say?" John had asked eagerly.

And Dean had looked up at his father with those big green eyes and said in an awed voice, "He said 'Dean'."

OoO

It shouldn't have come as a surprise that after nearly two months spent away chasing trails and following leads that things had changed.

Six-year-old Dean had grown nearly an inch and had started learning how to read – a fact he was incredibly proud of and that he wanted to show off within ten seconds of Daddy's arrival.

Little two-year-old Sam had grown too – his cheeks filled out in that adorable manner that only young kids have. He'd become more co-ordinated too and, according to Bobby, spent most of his time charging about the house after (or before) Dean at full pelt.

He'd also become wary of strangers, and apparently two months worth of absence was enough to classify John as a stranger. It made sense, really. Most kids would be cautious if a guy they thought they might recognise, but who they hadn't seen in ages suddenly showed up wanting a hug.

It made sense, and he shouldn't have been surprised, but John still felt gutted as he watched his precious Sam hiding behind Dean, peeking out around his brother's shoulder and observing the strange bearded newcomer from a safe distance.

OoO

It was almost to be expected that Sam would turn to his brother for comfort and protection than to his not-always-present father.

After all, it had been Dean who'd spent the past years beating up bullies, patching cut knees and chasing closet-monsters, not John.

It was still disheartening, though, when Sammy would automatically run to Dean to get a booboo made better; still upsetting that Sam never crawled into John's bed after a nightmare; still frustrating that Dean was the only one who had any hope of stopping a middle-of-the-shopping-centre-tantrum.

In those early years, Sam wouldn't even do as John said unless Dean okayed it first.

"Time for bed, Sam," John would say, and Sam would glance over at his big brother as though asking permission to follow the order.

Dean was good about it – every time it happened he would dutifully nod encouragingly, or repeat the instruction, or get up and lead Sammy to the bedroom, and Sam wouldn't even squeak in protest.

Sure, John's orders were obeyed in the end, but as an ex-marine he found it irritating that they had to be seconded before they were followed.

That, and he knew that if ever Dean were ever to not confirm John's orders, if he were ever to say, "No, Sammy, don't go to bed," John knew there would be no way in hell he could make his younger son comply.

They actually came across that problem years later.

Sammy, fully grown and rearing to get his taste of the real world, had announced he was leaving to study law of all things. Of course, there were the inevitable fireworks.

John – determined that both his son's would continue working – versus Sam – determined that at least one of them wouldn't.

Dean had stayed quiet through the entire argument, and then it came to the crux.

John, certain that his eldest son would back him up in the matter and trusting to Sam's habit of always doing as Dean ordered, demanded, "Dean, tell him. Tell him he can't go. Tell him he's got to stay with us."

Dean had looked torn, but still John had been confident.

Then Sam had turned to Dean, eyes all wide and imploring and sincere as he silently screamed just how much he wanted this change.

And Dean had folded, and John really should have known that he would, because Dean had never been able to stand his little brother's pain or upset.

"Sam," he had said uncertainly. "Sam… I want you to stay. I really want you to stay. But… I think you should do what's best for you."

And just like that, the battle was lost.

OoO

In the competition – if one could call it that – for Sam's affections, John had never really stood a chance. Though Dean had never set out to be Sam's favourite, he'd been a shoe in from the start.

It was a case of priorities, really.

There was Dean, who from the moment he'd understood the words Mommy's pregnant had been utterly and unwaveringly devoted to the needs, wants and general well being of his younger sibling... and there was John, who would put everything on hold without hesitation in favour of the hunt.

It took him years to realise he had been putting hunting before his boys, blinded as he had been by the want for justice. By the time he realised, Sam and Dean were all grown up and independent, and though they both still loved him and wanted him in their lives, neither of them actually needed him.

They hadn't for a long time.

Long ago, when they had needed him, he'd been too busy chasing monsters to notice.

Such is the price of vengeance.

OoO

AN: There. What'd you think? Review! And now I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Supernatural. From the end of 2.22, All Hell Breaks Loose II.

Sam: How long do you get?

Dean: ...One year. I got one year.

Sam: You shouldn't have done that. How could you do that?

Dean: Don't get mad at me. Don't you do that. I had to. I had to look out for you. It's my job.

Sam: And what do you think my job is?

Dean: ...What?

Sam: You've saved my life over and over. I mean, you sacrifice everything for me – don't you think I'd do the same for you? You're my big brother. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you.

Review!