The 4 times John Winchester was with his son in the hospital, and the one time he wasn't.
A/N: I thought it was complete shit that John wasn't on his way to Dean when he was dying during "Faith", so it got me thinking about how John was before all this stuff went down in their life. I've been meaning to write it for awhile, since I watched S1 again a month or so ago, but I've been needing my fix for the Hellatus! so I hope you guys liked it too :) It's my first "5 times" fic that I've done, so I'm not sure if there's a standard way of approaching them lol..this may seem a bit haphazard, I don't know....; there are psuedo tags to "Faith" & "IMTOD" from seasons 1 & 2. So yeah. Let me know what you think! :)
"Okay, Mary, one more time, one more push, come on!"
The young woman screamed, her hair matted on her head with sweat and tears. She clutched her husbands hand, lookin g up at him with terror filled eyes. "I can't...John, I can't..." She gasped for breath. "It's too soon, too soon..." She sobbed slightly, her heart tightening with fear. John Winchester met the doctors eyes and saw the hesitation, but even though his own heart seemed to be lodged in his throat, his own mind racing for the baby that wasn't quite here yet, he swallowed hard and forced a smile on his face.
"No, no, you can, you can do this! Mary, you're the strongest, fiercest woman I've ever known, you can do this! You have to or the baby---" He stopped speaking, not willing to voice what could happen if Mary didn't push right now. He clutched her hand tightly. "Mary, look at me. Look at me." Her teary hazel green eyes met his, her lips trembling, hair a mess; he brushed it back, planting a kiss on her wet forehead. "Now, all we need is one more big push and our baby will be here. And it'll be okay, okay? The doctors are going to take care of it. I promise you, but we have to do this. You can do this, Mary."
She seemed to hesitate for only a moment before nodding quickly and taking a deep breath. "I'm ready."
"Okay, Mary," The doctor glanced at John, a silent thank you evident in the eyes above the mask on his mouth and he turned back to his work. "I need one big push on three. One, two...."
Mary's screams filled the room, and after a moment of intense pressure and pain, she felt the release. As she fell back on the pillow though, all in the room noted the lack of an infants wail.
But his head was already up, searching as the nurses bustled around and he caught a brief glimpse of a pale, almost blue tiny thing being handed off to someone else.
"John!" Mary's voice reached an alarming tone and she went to sit up as a nurse appeared at her side, a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"It's okay, they've got him, they're gonna get him breathing...it's gonna be okay, but we need you to relax....."
That got John's attention, and his head snapped toward her. In the bustle, it seemed, the doctor had felt the need to attend to the child immediately, and didn't address the parents. "Him?" John asked, somewhat dazed. The nurse smiled at him as, weak and breathy, a small cry split the air.
"Yes, Mr. Winchester. Congratulations. It's a boy."
"So he has to stay in that thing?"
John was jittery, and nerve ridden; he hadn't slept in over 24 hours, and he had been with Mary until she had finally fallen asleep after the long labor, the worry of her newborn son keeping her up until the doctor had given her something to help her sleep. John, finding himself also unable to sleep, rose and left the room, aggressively seeking out some doctor or nurse that could give him some straight answers.
Not that a straight answer hadn't been given, but doctor speak wasn't exactly what John was looking for. The baby was premature by over a month, which they knew; apparently, it was hospital policy, in that event, that the infant had to be monitored in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a few days to make sure everything was going okay. But he wanted to know details, he wanted to understand...he wanted to see him.
Him. It was hard for John to wrap his head around the concept of him. The only relationship he'd had up until know with this...him, was from the outside and while he was excited to be a father, he really had never had experience with baby's. Like, ever. And now that he was here...well, he just wanted to know everything he could, so he could be prepared. A good soldier was always prepared, as he had learned during the war. He chuckled as he made his way to the NICU, the comparison of parenthood and war making him laugh.
His chuckle died in his throat when he came to a stop at the window in front of it. A dozen or so newborns lay in the room, shielded by glass in their incubators, tubes and wires everywhere. Almost every one had a man or a woman standing or sitting by it, their hands and fingers pressed up against the boxes; some were crying, some were smiling, some looked like they had been up for days upon days, but each of them had this light in their eyes that John just couldn't relate to. His eyes sought out his baby's incubator-his son's-but he couldn't place it. He frowned.
"Did you need help with something sir?" An older blonde nurse stood in front of him, her face kind and understanding. He nodded.
"Um. My...my wife had the baby earlier, a few hours ago, and she just fell asleep. They told me...they told me he was here, but I don't...I don't really know what to do." He finished quietly. The nurse smiled, and took his hand.
"Well, then lets get you situated, hm?"
And that's how he came to be standing in front of the incubator, with Nurse Julie, who had 3 sons herself ("All grown up now, all in school," she claimed proudly). He stared at the little pink thing inside, that squirmed in seeming frustration at being contained, and she answered his questions as well she could, reassuring him that this was all precaution, but for premies it was important to make sure they could stand on their own two feet.
"Would you like to hold him?" She asked. "Sometimes that calms them down; the touch of their skin on yours...it's good for them."
John looked up in something akin to alarm, his eyes wide. "Would that be okay? I mean, I don't know...I've never...I don't want to..."
"Oh you'll be fine; you're his daddy aren't you?" She was already opening up the incubator, motioning for John to sit in the chair next to it. He did so almost mechanically, watching as she disconnected the tubes and wires and lifted the tiny being from it's warm bed. He squalled quietly in protest, waving his arms slowly and she smiled with a coo. "Oh, you got a lively one here; yes, he'll be out of here in no time. Here you go, John."
She instructed him on how to hold him, supporting the head, gently-gently!-and released her hold on him so that John was the only one touching him. "There you go." She said with a smile. "A natural."
John offered a weak smile, not able to take his eyes off the baby. "He's just...he's so small."
She laughed. "That's usually how this is. You got a name for him yet? There's not one listed..."
He finally looked up at her. "Uh, yeah, I think...there was nothing official just yet, but I'm pretty sure it's gonna be Dean. My wife...she wanted to name the baby after her mother, Deanna, but it seems this one had different plans, so I guess...Dean."
"Dean Winchester. That's a good name."
The baby yawned, a little squeak emiting from his mouth, and his eyes opened slightly, revealing his dark bluish green eyes that would one day turn hazel green like his mother's. John felt his mouth go dry as the infant stared at him, and grabbed the index finger that John had rested against his tiny hand, squeezing it tighter than John would've expected. Tears pricked at his eyes and he felt it then; felt what was reflected in all the other people's eyes in that room as they stood with their own children. He looked up at the nurse, who stood watch with a small smile of satisfaction on her face. He smiled, and spoke softly, his gaze falling back toward the infant as he wiggled his finger slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, it is."
"Ugh?" John lifted his head off the pillow, sleep gathered in the corners of his eyes as he opened them blurrily. "Mary? What...it's 2:30 in the morning..."
"John, I can't get his fever to go down. I'm taking him to the emergency room."
That got John up. "Still?"
She nodded, her lips pursed worriedly as she turned the light on, changing from her white nightgown into jeans and a sweatshirt, throwing her hair up in a ponytail. John rubbed his eyes. "Okay, now, just calm down..."
"I can't calm down." She hissed. "My baby is sick, and I can't help him...he can barely move his head John...says it hurts when he looks down, and he threw up a little while ago. And the fever just isn't going away, and these pregnancy hormones are not helping...!" Her voice seemed to grow, becoming strained and high pitched, and soon John was on his feet and Mary was in his arms.
"Hey, hey, hey, it's gonna be okay, we're gonna get him to the doctor, he's gonna be fine. Now, you go get him ready, I'll be down in a jiff. Okay?"
She nodded, sniffing as she squeezed John and headed out of the room as Dean's whimper's reached their doorway. He rubbed his face sleepily, but hurried to find a pair of jeans and a plaid shirt to pull on before heading down to the living room, where Mary held the sleepy looking little boy, pale and just...not good. John gasped a little, guilt creating a pit in his stomach. He hadn't gotten up with the child at all, all night, assuming it was just a routine midnight bug, something that mommy could handle much better than he. "Hey, big guy. Not feeling to good, huh?"
"Daddy..." He groaned lightly, and Mary handed the boy off to his father, who sucked in a breath again. This kid was on fire! He could feel the heat radiating off of him.
"Jesus..." He whispered, meeting Mary's fear filled eyes, and pulled himself together. "Okay, buddy, we're gonna get you to the doctor..."
"Nooooo, no doctor..." The almost 4 year old whined, shaking his head in his fathers shoulder, making his father smile a little but he lowered his voice to a gruff, no nonsense tone.
"You'll feel better buddy, I promise, but we got to get going. Now you're gonna sit with Mommy, huh? How does that sound?"
The boy nodded, groggy and almost asleep, and he handed him back to her, grabbing the keys off the counter. "Okay, let's get going."
"I want to run a few more tests, but I think we have a case of meningitis on our hands here. I'm going to push antibiotics until we get results."
"Meningitis?" John asked, alarm in his voice. "That...that sounds serious."
The doctor looked at him above her glasses, her pen paused on the clipboard. Mary sat near the groggy boy, smoothing his hair and whispering to him as a nurse busied around him, preparing an IV and situating the room they were in. The doctor had insisted he stay for a day or so, for observation if it turned out to be serious, and if not, well, then for further measures if they were needed.
The doctor, seeing the distress on the father's face, sat across from him understandingly soft. "Mr. Winchester, I understand your frustration and concern. Meningitis can be serious, but there are two types. Viral is relatively harmless, and usually only takes the normal stuff you'd give someone for the flu. Bacterial, however...the treatment's a little more aggressive but I'd say it's safe to say you got him here early enough for each. We need to identify which we're dealing with though."
He was wringing his hands. "And that's what the tests are for that you were talking about?"
"Yes. It's not a minor one either, I'm afraid. He's gonna need a lumbar puncture for it."
John was silent for a moment. "You're gonna put a needle in his back?"
The doctor pursed her lips. "Yes. Now you and your wife don't have to be in here for it, as a lot of parents find it difficult..."
"I'm not leaving him alone." John cut her off brusquely. Mary shouldn't have to see her baby hurt like that, that was for sure. But this was one of those Dad times, when he had to be strong for his kid.
Mary stood with him outside of the room as they prepped for the procedure. "John, are you sure..."
"Mary, you've been stressed out enough tonight. You look like you need to rest. I'll stay with him, keep him calm. It's not good for the baby."
Her hand went to her barely swollen abdomen, only a few months along, and she nodded. "I know, but..." Her eyes welled. "Is it going to hurt him?"
John bit his lip, swallowing hard. "Yeah, babe. Yeah, it is. But I'm gonna be with him, and it'll only take a few seconds. I'll make sure he's okay."
When the doctors were ready, he made his way into the room as Mary went to the waiting room and he sat in front of his son, who was curled tightly in the fetal position as the nurse showed him to do. It was important that he stay like that, apparently, and that when the doctor did the procedure, that he didn't move. But as the boy was only three, there was a good chance the pain would cause him to, so the nurse-and quite possibly John-would have to hold him in place.
"Hey buddy...you feeling okay, huh? Got that fever down a little, hm?" He smoothed the boys blonde hair out of his glossy eyes that blinked tiredly.
"No shot, daddy." Dean whispered sharply.
"Aw, buddy...I know you don't want to, but we've gotta make sure you're gonna be okay, right?"
Dean squirmed at that. "No..."
John put his arms on the boy, holding him down. "Hey. Hey! I'm gonna be here with you the whole time, okay? The whole time, and you're gonna be okay, okay? I promise..." His voice broke a little as he saw the needle the doctor reached for. He met the doctors eyes, who then nodded. He gripped his son's tiny hands. "Okay, Dean-o. I need you to look at me, and stay really still, okay? Okay, now look at me...look at me buddy..."
"1...2...3..." The doctor began, inserting the needle as she finished her count.
The child's screams filled the air.
John sat across from Dean's sleeping figure, Mary laying in the bed with him. He wasn't very happy with his father; after the spinal tap was done, he had cried in his father's arms for a few moments before Mary had reappeared and he had reached for Mommy with a vengeance. John had excused himself, retreating to the men's room where he splashed some water on his face and about lost his lunch as he fought tears at having to watch his son in so much pain without a damn thing to do about it.
The test had been worth it though; the results had shown it was merely a case of viral meningitis, but it was better to be safe than sorry when dealing with it. They were gonna keep him there for a day or so, just for observation, then they'd be free to take him home.
John ran his hand over his face. Dean had reeled away from him-reeled-when he had sat next to his bed when they got him settled in. With Mary's warm arms wrapped around him, he slept peacefully, but when he was awake, his eyes had clearly held a distrust when they looked at his father that he hadn't wanted. He sighed; this must've been what it was like for his own parents, he wondered, as their own words echoed in his head.
This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.
You'll understand when you're older.
He rose out of the chair, stifling a groan as his sore muscles stretched out. He shuffled quietly out of the room, down the hall until he got to the waiting room where he poured himself a cup of coffee. He just couldn't sleep, as much as he wanted to, as much as he needed to. He needed to watch Dean more, needed to make sure he was okay. He sighed heavily as he took a sip, closing his eyes; in a less than 6 months there'd be another baby to take care of, another kid to make sure didn't have to hurt, or get sick, or any of that. He didn't know if he could do it; the emotional toll of one was quite enough.
A smile pricked at his mouth though. The benefits he got from it were much better; especially with Dean, who just wanted to be like him (which scared him and made him proud all at the same time). He played baseball, and football and dug in the dirt and was just a happy kid. He smiled, rethinking his previous musing; another kid would be doubly stressful, but it would doubly amazing as well.
He shuffled back down the hall, and was alarmed to hear a child's cry as he neared the door. He rushed in the room, the sight of Mary's tired face holding their son in his bed as he fought her grasp, trying to pull from her arms. Once he saw his father, his cries took on a different, louder tone.
"What's wrong? Is he okay, is he hurt?" John asked, alarmed as he rushed over, setting the coffee down before wrapping his arms around the boy as sank onto the bed next to his wife. She looked at him, almost as if she wanted to laugh but wouldn't as the child sank into his father's chest.
"He woke up and you were gone." She said with a smile, knowing it wasn't anything serious that had pulled him away, knowing he was gonna be right back. But Dean didn't.
"Aw, jesus baby, I'm sorry..." He leaned down and planted a kiss on his head. "Are you okay, are you feeling better?" He asked the question, but he could already feel that the fever had lowered through his shirt. Dean was going to be just fine.
"Yeah..." He sniffled into John's chest, pulling back to reveal his messy, wet face. John couldn't help but chuckle.
"Still mad at me?"
The boy shook his head furiously, again burying himself in his father. "No, I loves you."
Tears gathered in his eyes, pricking the corners, and Mary pursed her lips at the scene, placing a comforting hand on John's arm. He took a deep breath. "Yeah, well, kid...I loves you too."
Dean winced, his breathing heavy. Damn, that ghost had gotten the jump on him earlier. Son of a bitch! He'd been feeling iffy since earlier in the night, but he had shrugged it off; he could stave off the flu for a few hours to help his dad out with a spirit. Or so he had thought.
"What the hell was that?" His father barked at him as he slid into the passenger side of the Impala. "You almost got us killed back there!"
"'m sorry, Dad...just...off, I guess..." he sighed. John scowled at his 16 year old, but still leaned over as he slammed his door shut, yanking his son's dearly beloved leather jacket off his arm. He hissed, trying to keep it low, but his father kept scowling. He swallowed the pain, taking a deep breath, trying to keep the wince from his face. Damn, his stomach was starting to feel...weird.
"Eh, you'll live." He shoved the jacket back, going over in his mind if he had the first aid supplies back at the hotel to sew up the minor laceration that was soaking the dirty towel held to the wound. Satisfied, he started the car. "Let's just...get a burger, get back to the hotel."
"Eh," Dean groaned, leaning against the door. "Not really hungry."
That got John's attention. "Not hungry? Dean, you're always hungry."
"Well, I'm not now." He snapped, earning a reproving glare. "Sorry, sir." He rushed afterward. Being rebuffed by his son is such a fashion didn't sit well with John, though; he jammed the car into reverse and sped away from the dilapidated home.
"Fine. Then i'll get a burger."
When they got back to the hotel, Dean was really sluggish and sank right on the bed. He curled up slightly, lying on his good shoulder. His father frowned; this was weird, but not completely unusual. Dean had moods just like everyone else, and he may-may-have come down a little hard on the boy, but didn't really think so.
"Get that jacket off, I'll fix that up after I eat here in a minute."
Sam looked questioningly at his father, but moved to Dean, kneeling next to him at the edge of the bed. "Are you okay, Dean?"
"I'm fine, Sammy..." He breathed. "Just...can you get me a tylenol?" He whispered it low, his eyes sliding to where his father was taking his last big bite of his burger. Sam nodded curtly, hurrying to get a glass of water and pain killers, which he returned to his brother as his father got to the bed with the sewing kit.
"Okay, kid, you ready for this?"
"Just do it." He ground out, squeezing his eyes shut.
As he worked as swiftly as possible, (having had administered a local anstetic he may have swiped from their last hospital stop a few months before), he noticed his oldest sweating a little. He passed a subtle hand over Dean's forehead as he reached for some antiseptic, watching Dean's eyes shut at his touch for a moment of comfort. He frowned as he found it a little warm for his taste, but kept going; if something was really wrong, Dean would say something.
As he finished, he dressed the wound and left his son with a soft pat on his leg as he went to wash up. Sam seemed to appear immediately at the door of the bathroom.
"Dad, somethings wrong." Sam's eyes were narrowed, his tone accusatory. John frowned at his son as he stood back, grabbing a towel to dry his hands.
"Oh yeah? What makes you say that?"
Sam's gaze shifted from his Dad to Dean, and as if there was a newfound bravery in his son, Sam squared off. "He asked for Tylenol. He never does that; and he's really hot, dad...and he's in a lot of pain."
John shrugged; Sam was always a little overly concerned when it came to his brother and father. "Dean hasn't said anything to me."
"Well, he wouldn't! He doesn't want you to think he's weak, but he's sick Dad---"
"Your brother's a big boy, Sammy. If it was something serious, he'd let me know. He probably just has the flu."
Sam glared at him, but said nothing else as he brushed past his father angrily, slamming the bathroom door.
"You may want to hurry it up and get to bed Sammy, it's up and at 'em early tomorrow morning." The boy didn't answer. "You hear me?" He barked, a little harsher.
"Yes sir." The limp reply came. John rolled his eyes and headed to the bed, which he fell in, fully clothed. His eyes were closed before his head hit the pillow.
John awoke the next morning earlier than the boys, in enough time to jump in the shower and get cleaned up before they headed out on the road. Before entering the bathroom, he walked to Dean's side of the bed and bent over him, checking to see how he was doing. He was still running a slight fever and bore a seemingly permanent wince even in his sleep, so John figured he'd force some Tylenol down his throat when they were heading out.
When he got out of the shower, Sammy had already done that though. He had tried to push some Pop-Tarts at his brother as well, knowing he hadn't eaten the night before, but Dean shook those away as well. Sam met his father's eyes once more, as if to say See? Something is wrong.
"Let's go guys," John said, pushing his concern away. Dean was a tough kid; he'd been roughed up a little, and he had a case of the flu, that was all.
He watched Sam help Dean to the car; when he opened the passenger side front door, Dean shook his head. "Would you mind giving me the back seat for this one Sammy? I'm not feeling so hot, kinda just want to sleep."
"Dean, what's wrong?" He asked, helping to lower him into the car. He shook his head, a wave of nausea overwhelming him and he pushed Sam out of the way before dry heaving outside of the car.
"I feel like my insides are being torn up..." He began, gasping between heaves. "Other than that, peachy."
"Dean, you have to let Dad know..." Sam began.
"I'll be fine, Sammy." He spoke sharply. "Just get in the car."
Famous last words. It was barely an hour later, his screams nearly made John swerve off the road. He was cluching his lower right side of his abdomen, the intitial scream lessen to sharp, punctuated breaths.
"Dean, you okay back there?"
"Dad, I think somethings wrong..." He finally was able to breathe out, groaning in between it. John's heart began to race as he looked at his son in hir mirror. All of Dean's symptoms seem to come together in this latest, intense outbreak, and he knew the kid would've had to be near death to admit he was hurting that bad.
"Son of a bitch. Goddammit Dean!." He hit the brakes on the car and turned a sharp left, spinning the car around. He had seen a sign about 20 miles back. As the car faced front, he pushed the pedal to the floor and sped off as fast as he could.
"To be perfectly honest, Mr. Winchester, you're very, very lucky you got him here in time. It looks like much longer and the infection from the burst could've really been bad." John's listened to the doctor, but watched as they wheeled his unconscious son into the room after his emergency surgery. The scream that had torn through the Impala had been the rupture of his appendix in his gut which had spilled plenty of bacteria into his body. Luckily, with a treatment of aggressive antibiotics, he would be fine. He sure wasn't going to be pleased with being caught in bed for the next couple of days though.
"But he's going to be okay?" John finally looked up at the doctor, his eyes concerned. The doctor softened only slightly.
"You need to be more careful. Along with the obvious injury, he also had multiple lacerations and contusions all over him. You're lucky I don't call social services."
John recognized a warning when he received one, and even if it felt like a threat, he didn't feel like fighting it, so he nodded. As the nurses made sure that everything was the way it needed to be, the doctor left John and Sam alone with an unconscious Dean.
The silence was only for a few moments. "I told you something was wrong."
"Sammy, not now!" John wouldn't look at his youngest though; he couldn't. He handed him a few dollar bills. "Here, go get something to eat or something. I want some time with Dean."
His tone brooked no room for argument. Sam left the room reluctantly, leaving John sitting at Dean's bedside. He stared at Dean for a few moments, the silent beep of the monitor the only thing keeping him company.
"Goddammit, Dean. You stupid, reckless...." He faded off, his throat closing up. "I'm sorry."
He thought about his son as a child, when he was just a toddler, how much he hated the hospital. He should have never questioned Sam. It wasn't a surprise, he wasn't some model father who would know if his son was really hurt or not, but Sammy...Sam could charm an answer out of Dean if he was mute. And he knew his brother as well as he knew himself; John cursed himself once more.
Dean had almost died. Mary would be throttling him right about now if she were alive.
Of course, if she were alive, there was a very good chance he wouldn't be this kind of father. The one who ignore their child when they're obviously in pain.
"...Dad?" The whispered voice was almost too slight to hear, but John's head snapped up. "Dad, wha....?"
"What the hell are you doing awake? You shouldn't be waking up yet..." He stood to walk out of the room and get a nurse, someone to give Dean something to help him rest, help him get better!
"No! Dad, don't..." Dean realized the desperate tone his voice took, and knew his Dad had too, so he cut himself short. "I mean, wait...it's not...not bad."
He woke up and you were gone, Mary's words came unbidden to him, the memory of the terrified three year old with it. The best thing he could really do for Dean right now was to man up to his mistake, sit at his son's side, and comfort him.
"What happened?" Dean asked gruffly, his throat and mouth dry. John got up and grabbed him a small cup of water from the pitcher on the side table, which Dean immediately downed.
"Whoa, whoa, slow it down there, tiger."
Tiger? Dean's eyebrow's rose. His dad hadn't called him that in years. "Yeah, you're probably right. So uh...what exactly happened?"
"Your appendix burst when we were driving. Got you here as fast as we could." He kept his eyes on Deans, but his voice was gruff. "It could've been really bad."
Dean's eyes dropped to his blanket. "Sorry, sir." He replied, almost automatically, thinking it should have been his responsibility to tell his dad how bad it was. And that was true; he should've mentioned it, and John would get on him about that later. But for right now, John took his hand.
"No, Dean. I'm sorry. I should've looked you over better."
Dean looked at his father's hand in his own, then at his face, the expression close to what John imagined it would be if he suddenly sprouted a second head. John was not the type of man to admit fault (unless, admittedly, there was fault to own up to), and even less the type to apologize. "Are you feeling okay dad? I mean, is your appendix about to burst?"
"Ha ha. Funny." John replied, slipping his hand back as he rolled his eyes. "No, mine came out right before I went to 'Nam. That's how I finally realized what was going on with you."
"Then I guess I should feel lucky, yeah?" Dean smiled, then winced at the pain that shot through his body as he tried to reposition himself. John frowned.
"Lucky isn't exactly the term i'd use. I'm getting a nurse to give you something...."
"NO!" Dean exclaimed. John's eyebrows rose. "I mean...um. I'm fine as long as I don't move much. And I'll go to sleep soon, I promise, I just...I mean, where's Sammy?" He asked, as if making a very important point. Stalling, was more like it, and John knew why.
"You already have an IV in son. No shot involved."
Dean scowled at his father's assumption-which was right. Although he couldn't quite remember what had happened when he was younger, he knew something for sure; he did not like needles, and he didn't trust anyone wielding one.
But he did trust his dad. "Fine. But I want to see Sammy first." He replied petulantly, and John nodded in submission.
The grouchy expression on his face, mixed with the tone of his last statement made John feel worse. He really was still just a kid. And John always demanded these outrageous things, made him think that if he was in that kind of pain to ignore it...He swallowed hard. "Next time something like this happens, sickness, or injury in the field, you better let me know right away. You got that? None of that macho crap again, huh? You're no good to me dead."
The injured young man just stared at him, slack jawed. "Uh...yes sir. I...I won't. Again."
"Good." John said gruffly, his sentimentality getting to him. In a flourish, he bent and kissed his son on the crown of his head, smelling him briefly before pulling away and patting him on the shoulder. "I love you, Dean. I need you to take care of yourself. Okay?"
"Yeah, Dad, I got it. I'm sorry I scared you." He replied, his own voice growing strained as he realized how shaken his father really was. Because the thing was, to John, Sammy was a lot like him. Sam would never admit it, probably didn't even realize it at this point in his life, but he was. Dean, though...Dean was his mom, through and through. And John wouldn't be able to lose either of his children ever, as they were both part of Mary, but Dean...he couldn't lose that much of her.
"It's okay, just don't do it again." He spoke, as the door flung open and Sam dragged himself in, head hung as he clutched his Coke and Snickers. Dean visibly brightened.
Sam's head shot up at his brother's voice and he nearly dropped his snack. "You're awake!" He exclaimed, rushing the bed and throwing himself at Dean, who groaned at the added weight, but still maintained a smile, throwing one of his arms around his brother.
"Sam, not so rough." John barked, and Sam, suddenly reaware of his brother's state, pulled back as if he'd been burned.
"Aw crap, are you okay? I'm sorry Dean..."
"Nah, don't worry about. Take much more than a string bean like you to do something." He ruffled his hair and on instinct, Sam pulled away with a wrinkled face.
"You're gonna be okay though?"
"Yep, that's what Dad said. Right?" Dean looked expectantly up at his father, while Sam rolled his eyes. No thanks to him, he probably thought.
But there was Dean, laid up in bed, the one who should be blaming his dad, and he wasn't. He was just looked, waiting for the confirmation. Daddy's little soldier, the one whose faith in his father was flawless. John smiled sadly; god, he hoped he didn't get him killed one day.
"So says the doctor. After a few days, you'll be ready to go." He patted him on the leg and Dean's face fell; inwardly John laughed. He knew Dean wasn't going to be happy about this.
"Wait, what do you mean, a few days?!"
Sam sat next to his brothers bed, lips pursed in worry. The doctor had taken blood, run some tests and worked on Dean when they had first arrived, but was gone for the moment retrieving the results, leaving the brother's alone for a few moments. Dean's breathing was shallow, and uneven, and he looked like death. Same cursed himself inwardly; letting the Rawhead get the jump on his brother like that was stupid and reckless, and now Dean was...He spared a glance at his older brother, his stomach tangling into knots. Dean was definitely not good.
"Hey Sammy..." He whispered, almost coughing. "D'we get it? Are the kids okay?"
"Yeah, the cops got them out just fine. I'm sure i'll have to deal with them later, but right now, I wouldn't worry about it. You need to rest."
"I'm fine, Sammy." He scowled as he stubbornly snapped at his brother, a cough leaving his throat right after. "So, um...did you, uh...did you get a hold of Dad? You said you were gonna try him...."
"Yeah, um, I did and...no, no I didn't dude. Sorry."
Sam had told his brother that while the doctors did their work, he'd call their father because he knew that even though Dean would never admit it, his Dad was the one true person who would make him feel better in what seemed to be a pretty dire situation.
Dean hid his disappointment the best he could. He knew that the odds of his brother actually getting John was slim to none, but he thought if anytime John would call back, or call him, or something...this would be it. He hated that at 26, he still felt like he needed his dad. He just knew that while he appreciated Sam's support and reassurances, he just didn't believe his brother like he believed his dad. That was probably due to Sam's wounded look, the shaky fake smile that would sit upon his face as his voice wavered. Or it was the fact that his Dad would look him right in the eye, and very no nonsense, tell him it would all be okay. And he believed him, through and through. Because he was his dad. And he was always right.
"Sir?" A young woman in scrubs peeked her head in the room, offering a small smile of apology as she addressed Sam. "I'm sorry for interrupting, but we need your information for the insurance coverage at the reception desk." The doctor hung behind her, waiting for her to move, his face grave. That doesn't look good.
"Oh, okay...um, I'll be right out. Looks like the doctor is ready for you too, Dean, so I'll be back in in a second, okay?" He asked, looking at his brother. Dean rolled his eyes.
"Don't think i'm going anywhere anytime soon, dude."
Sam rolled his eyes back, shaking his head with a sharp chuckle. He rose and exited the room, excusing himself as he passed the doctor, who smiled tightly at him and closed the door. Sam sighed.
Yeah. So not good.
"Hey, Dad. It's Sam. Uh, you probably won t even get this, but, uh, it's Dean. He's sick, and uh, the doctors say there s nothing they can do. Um, but, uh, they don't know the things we know, right? So, don t worry, cause, uh, I'm gonna do whatever it takes to get him better. Alright...just wanted you to know."
John licked his lips, his stomach twisting into knots, his heart beginning to race. He couldn't imagine it, really; he had this complete image of his son in his head, this strong, bull headed, resilient man that he had grown into, the one who always kept the family together, and there was nothing they could do? It just wasn't possible.
His first desire was to get in his truck and drive, drive as fast as he could to that hospital and just see him. He would sit at the bed, swallow his fear and anger at Dean getting himself into this situation and just tell him he'd be fine. But that was halted by what he knew. Everything that he had found out about his sons, about their destinies...he looked down at the thought. No. Dean would be fine; he had to be. And he was a grown man, who didn't need his father to rub his head and tell him that it would be okay. Dean was a brave kid...man. He would be fine.
It seemed if John kept saying it in his head, it would all be true. He looked up finally, motioning to the bartender who stood in front of him wiping the glasses clean and motioned for a double. After he took it, he flipped his phone open, scrolling to his contacts. He had favors to call in; he would ask around. Even if Dean would be fine, it wouldn't hurt to take precautions.
Yes, Dean would be fine without him being there, without him calling. But somewhere in his mind, John wondered if his son would be able to forgive him.
John hated hospitals. Always hated them. Other than when his sons were born, they always meant bad things. A broken bone, or a life threatening disease, or death itself.
The steady beat of the heart monitor droned on, and John stared on blankly, seeing the slight rise and fall of his son's chest. He had listened somberly as the doctor had explained Dean's condition, and understood what the doctor was saying; Dean wasn't going to wake up. The idea seemed ridiculous, but he knew, sitting at his bedside right now, completely realistic.
He wanted to say something, felt like he should say something, but the words wouldn't come to him. A normal father would be clutching his sons hand, praying to whatever he believed in to make his son well. But he sat, staring, and couldn't help think of how much Dean hated hospitals.
He mused on it for a moment, and realized he'd never told Dean about when he was born; it had never come up. He hadn't had a moment like that with Sam; Sam who had been born a few days late, and absolutely perfect, screaming from the get go. He didn't know why that memory came to him then, his heart growing heavy. He thought of that tiny red fist, clutching his finger, as if to say I got you now, and i'll never let go. He thought about how he had been perfectly fine with that.
He cursed internally, as dozens of memories of their childhood came to him unbidden. Dean had had to raise Sam, practically; he had stopped being a kid the moment John placed the baby in his arms and told him to run. He hated himself for it. Dean deserved better than that. Both his kids had, but Dean was so unlike Sam. He was loyal, and listened well, and never said no. He just did exactly what his Dad said, and did it without complaining. All he needed was for John to be his dad, and John couldn't even do that sometimes.
"Call you?" Dean had scoffed, the hurt evident in his eyes. "Are you kidding me? Dad, I called you from Lawrence, alright? Sam called you when I was dying. I mean, getting you on the phone I got a better chance of winning the lottery."
I'm sorry, he thought to himself, his throat constricting, staring at his son. He always seemed to be needing to say that to his kids. I'm so, so sorry.
But it was already being taken care of. He knew there was a chance Sam may find out about the real purpose behind the supplies he asked Bobby to get, and that Sam would be livid, but this was something that John had to do, on his own, as the Dad. He had to shoulder the burden and make the decision that would help Dean survive, because that was his job. To take care of his son; for too long, it had seemed like the other way around. Dean deserved more than this. The gun wasn't worth Dean's life, and that demon had taken his wife; it wasn't going to get his son too.
"There's something else I want, as much as that gun. Maybe more."
The Demon's words echoed in his head, his body numb as he shuffled down the hallway to Dean's room. It had taken him a few moments to decided for sure, but in the end, it wasn't as difficult to accept as he had thought it may have been.
He entered the room slowly at first, the muffled sounds of his son's voices meeting his ears before his eyes found them. He smiled shakily at them, realizing with dread this would be the last time he'd be speaking with them. He looked at Dean and relief spread throughout his body, muscles relaxing he didn't realize were tense. Dean.
Words were exchanged with Sam, and he loved Sam as much as he did Dean, he did, but it was Dean right now he needed to talk to. Dean who had almost died, Dean who he had just agreed to switch places with. Dean who would yet again be asked to take care of something that he shouldn't have to worry about.
His son stared up at him from his hospital bed, just like he had since he was little, hazel green eyes wide with worry. Sam had left the room after hurling angry accusations at his father, picking for a fight and instead of defending himself, telling Sam to be quiet, John had somewhat crumpled and given in, begging off the fight; Can we not? He had pleaded. Can we not fight? I'm tired of fighting...And that had worried both his sons. He had seen it in Sam's eyes as he left the room, had seen it in his frown. He wandered further into the room, Dean still staring at him knowingly. "What is it?"
John sighed, fighting tears. Facing his own mortality in the last few minutes, he couldn't stop thinking of his kids. Dean especially, because Dean and him had some normal, father son moments. Pee wee tee ball, and football on Thanksgiving; Sam and he had never had those moments. "You know, when you were a kid," He began softly, tears shining in his eyes. "I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... You'd say "It's okay, Dad"," He fiddled with his fingers. "Dean, I'm sorry."
"What?" He was so confused. He had known it was a close call, closer than it had ever been, but the way John was acting, something was wrong. He just knew, after spending practically all his time with the man, that something very bad was going on. His father just wasn't the sentimental type, but those were definite tears in his eyes.
The surprised look on Dean's hurt, but it wasn't confusing. John had never been good at being a dad; he was always better at being Mary's husband, and who's to say he wouldn't have been had Mary not died? But he wasn't, and his sons bore the brunt of his brusque, short approach when it came to emotional issues. He sighed. "You shouldn't have had to say that to me, I should have been saying that to you. You know, I put, I put too much on your shoulders, I made you grow up too fast. You took care of Sammy, you took care of me. You did that, and you didn't complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you." He fought tears, his voice husky, and Dean was looking at him again like when he had his appendix out years before, when John had told him to be more careful. When John had told him why he really was so shook up.
Dammit, he growled to himself. A kid shouldn't be this surprised that their Dad actually gave a shit about them.
"This really you talking?" The disbelief in his voice was evident, and John chuckled sadly.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's really me."
"Why are you saying this stuff?"
"I want you to watch out for Sammy, okay?" He asked, even though he knew he'd never had to with Dean. He was gone so much of the time, but Dean's bond with his brother was almost as much parent to child as it was sibling to sibling. Sammy would be taken care of; he just didn't know if it was in the way John meant.
"Yeah, dad, you know I will. You're scaring me." Big hazel green eyes-Mary's eyes-stared back at him, and John felt the tears well again. He'd never see those eyes again; they looked at him in fear and apprehension, not understand what was going on but knowing that something was very, very wrong. John put his hand on his son's shoulder, giving it a supportive squeeze.
"Don't be scared, Dean." And with those words, he leaned down and told Dean something he wished he never would've had to.
"If you can't save your brother...you might have to kill him." He paused. "I love you both, so much, but that's how it is."
And without looking at him, looking at the mess he would be leaving behind, he turned and left the room.
As he walked back down to his room, thoughts and worries plagued him. Dean was a smart, smart kid; not really book smarts, as that was always more Sam's arena, but when it came to strategy and common sense, he'd bet on Dean's horse every day of the week. Dean would figure this out, especially when the Colt turned up missing. He'd know he made the deal, and he would be so angry, but John didn't much care about that.
He worried that Dean wouldn't be able to do what was necessary if Sammy did turn, but he also knew that Dean being alive reduced that possibility by exponential numbers. Dean would fight to the death for his brother, for what remained of his family; he always had.
He approached the room, wearily walking in. Yellow eyes stood across from him, a smirk on his face that made him want to shoot the thing right between the eyes, but he knew that would be it for Dean, and he stopped himself. He sighed. There were a lot of things he was worried about now; what hell would be like, what they were going to do to him downstairs (because he had certainly made enough enemies in that area), what Mary would think of him...what Dean would think of him. If it would hurt. As he sighed, blinking at the demon as he laid the gun down on the table, there was one thought that was constant in his mind throughout all of this. He nodded.
For all his worries & fears, he had no doubt that Dean was absolutely worth it.
AN #2: I definitely prefer the three moments that I made up, to the ones that were actually on the show because I always feel awkward writing tags, or recreating the scenes because there's just no way in hell I could ever do it justice, or as well as the actors and directors, etc, did it originally. I'm sure you've all seen it, so I know I don't have to reiterate it, but yeah. That why the last two are meh kind of, but it fits with the overarching theme. Let me know what you thought :)