John sat at the back corner table rubbing his graying beard. His instincts gnawed at him, jostling him that something was wrong. Jim Murphy, who was damn good with a gun for a priest, nested into the chair beside him, looking out of place in the dive bar. John surveyed the man – a priest in a dive bar with a forty-five. Good times.
He finished his beer and the pretty, red-haired waitress set down another bottle of Guinness, winking. She filled Jim's glass of water with less interest, if not a bit of irritation. If the priest noticed, he gave no indication. He gazed at the smoky bar crowd, his face ripe with disdain and devoid of judgment.
"I promised the sisters I'd return by Sunday mass."
John chuckled. "You're not scared of that gaggle of nuns, are you Jim?"
His friend smiled, kind and benevolent. "Yes. As you should be. My parish needs me. Lives needed saving here, John, but souls still need saving there." He paused. "You're always welcome in the church."
"Uh-huh." John took a swig of beer. "You know I have no room for religion beyond holy water and exorcisms, Jim."
The priest sighed. "Nevertheless, God will always have room for you if you choose…" His words cut off and Jim's eyes fell to the entrance. John followed his gaze to the door, allowing only a slight twitch of the lips at seeing his sons walking through it.
"Dammit…" They shouldn't be tracking him down. Part of him was impressed they'd found him, but still. They were supposed to be lying low. And they had no business here with him. Not until he'd killed that yellow-eyed bastard. Not until…
"John, they're your sons…"
"They wanted out." Sam at least. Dean wanted to keep his brother safe. "They made their choice, Jim, and I made mine. Hunting isn't a hobby. It's a life. You can't pop into it whenever you get the whim."
He caught Dean's gaze, frowning. Even if Sam didn't follow orders, his eldest knew better than to come after him. He had told Dean to keep Sam away from hunting after his girlfriend died and he'd meant it. Dammit, he expected Dean to behave better than this. The boys gave each other knowing glances and sauntered over to them.
"Huh." Dean said, gritting his teeth. Kid looked pissed. Well good, that made two of them. "What's this supposed to be? Your idea of some sick joke?"
The waitress returned. "Hi Dean, can I get you anything? How about it, Sam?"
So the boys had been in town for awhile. She smiled, her eyes undressing one son and then the other. John had seen that reaction enough on the road with his boys. Hell, he'd seen it trained on himself enough times. But it still pricked his protective urges. His kids were more than pieces of meat. Well, at least Dean seemed to enjoy that type of attention. But he ignored it this time, keeping his eyes set on him and Jim. Sam, however, turned to the girl.
"No thanks, Faye." Sam frowned, turning back to John. "Just need to deal with some…" he paused, like he was searching for the right description, "Family business."
The waitress moved closer to his youngest. "You need anything you let me know, sugar. You guys saved my life…" She stayed close for a moment. "And I pay my debts," she said, eyeing them both again before turning back to the room.
"So…" Dean smirked down at them – although it looked more like a wince than a grin. "Obsessed father and second rate priest. It's cute. Stupid. But cute."
John felt his temper flare. It was obvious his son was angry. But disrespecting Jim, he'd raised that boy better than that.
"Dean." John growled. "Show some respect…"
Dean moved forward, looking like he was going to throw a punch. John braced his arms against the table, pulling himself up.
Jim cleared his throat. "John, maybe we should talk…"
He waved his friend silent. If he needed to beat some sense into the kid, so be it. They could talk when the demon was dead. There was no excuse for his eldest behaving like this. Sam stepped between them, an irony not lost on John. He motioned to the door with a harder expression than John ever remembered seeing before. "Maybe we should take this outside?" Well, Sammy always was a smart one.
John nodded. "Yeah. Let's do that." He leveled Dean with an expression that typically had him cowering. The boy chuckled.
"Well, you're good. I'll give you that." Dean held his arm out. "After you… Dad." His voice was laced with malice. "I insist."
He shook his head, but headed for the door with Jim beside him. He'd know his kids anywhere and the boys were acting strange. Not like they weren't them, but there was something… Maybe some nasty had messed with their heads. Dean shoved him as they exited the building. John glared. Well, that kid better hope he was possessed because otherwise John was about to tear him a new one. Thirty wasn't too old for an ass-whooping in his book.
They moved out, around the building, and into the alley. He and Jim turned to face his sons.
Jim raised his arm in appeasement. "Maybe we should all calm down; no good ever came from…"
Sam snarled, pushing the priest against the brick with a large smack. "And maybe you should shut the hell up."
John eyes widened. "Sam!" His son tended to reserve that type of venom for his old man, not kindly priests. "What are…" The glint of a gun drew his attention.
"Back." Dean said pointing his semi-automatic at John's chest. The boy nodded towards the wall.
John raised his hands. "Okay. Okay. Just calm down, son." He moved to step towards Dean, felt his own weapon tickling at his side. Not that he had any intention of drawing on his kid.
"He said back." Sam had a 9mm aimed at him. Hmmm. He hadn't even noticed the Sammy was packing. Maybe he was starting to slip in his old age. Still. He'd taught those boys everything they knew. He glanced at Jim. They could disarm his sons if it came to it.
"Alright." John moved back. Not much, but enough to comply. He'd rather solve this with talking than fighting. "Dean, what are you doing here? And why'd you drag Sam along? I thought he was studying for the bar." Safe and away from this was left unspoken. There was more anger in his voice than he had wanted. His sons glared at him, wrath in their eyes. They were pissed, that was for sure. They were silent for a moment.
Dean smirked. "Yeah, right. And Mom's alive. And Jessica. And the world's not going towards hell on earth. Oh, and angels with fluffy wings and halos run around protecting people and shitting rainbows." He paused, voice becoming serious. "John's dead. Jim, too. Been that way for nearly three years. So what do you want."
John looked hard at his oldest. Dean meant that. The boys must think they were shifters or revenants. That would explain the malice, but three years?
"Dean. Your intel is wrong. I'm alive. Jim's alive." He shuffled forward. "I know I haven't kept in touch much these last years since Sammy's girlfriend died." He turned to his youngest, wishing he'd been able to protect Sam from that. He turned back toward Dean. "But you know me, son. I'm not dead. You're mistaken. Something's messing with your head." Certainly the kid would recognize his own father. It had been a few years, but he doubted anyone knew him as well as that boy.
"Only thing attempting to mess with my head right now is you. One step closer and I'll blow your lying brains out."
Well. Maybe John was wrong on that. He moved back. "Dean…"
His eldest paced, keeping his gun on John. Sam stayed still, his weapon aimed at Jim's head. "So, what's your game? You after something? Or maybe you just get your jollies disrespecting the memories of the dead?"
Jim coughed and turned on his priest voice. "Dean, Sam, listen to your father. You're wrong on this. We can solve this without violence."
Dean snorted. "What do you think about that, Sammy." He said in a sarcastic tone. He nodded towards his brother. "You think we can solve this without violence…"
John gave the priest the signal and rushed Dean before he could finish. He pushed at the gun, but Dean kept hold of it. He threw a punch. His son blocked, using his momentum to hurl him back against the wall. John grunted as the barrel of the gun was pushed under his chin.
"A little slow there, Dad." Dean said. He sounded calm. Controlled.
Shit. The kid might actually shoot him. He looked over. Sam had Jim mashed against the bricks, his large frame holding the priest trapped. He felt reluctantly impressed that his kids had gotten the jump on them. He might have trained them too well.
"It's me, son." John tried again. He felt his son tense where he was pushing him. But it wasn't because he believed him. There was someone else in the alleyway.
John's gaze fell past his son's shoulder. A guy in a long coat with striking eyes stood at the edge of the alley. He wasn't human. John was sure of that. This bastard would be sorry if he was screwing with his children.
Dean frowned, but kept the gun tucked under John's chin and didn't turn. "Why? You know what they are, Cas?"
The man in the trench coat turned his eyes on him. His expression remained unchanged, but John sensed something kin to surprise deep in his gaze. "They are telling the truth, Dean."
Confusion spilled over his oldest's face. "How's that possible? You said he was at peace. You promised me." Dean looked weary now. Worn. Like he'd suffered too many broken promises. And John didn't like seeing that on his son's face. Yeah, this trench coated son of a bitch would pay.
"I did not lie, Dean. But that is your father."
Dean looked over to the guy, loosening his grip. "Are you friggin' kidding me. Cas, did you do this?" He said, accusation in his tone.
The man turned towards his son, expression blank. "No. I did not."
"Then how is it possible?" Dean released his hold on John, but eyed him with suspicion. John noticed Sam had let Jim go as well and was watching his brother like a guard dog.
The guy – no the thing – John corrected himself, in the coat crossed his arms. "I'm sorry." He said. "I do not know."