Author: sangre antigua.

Rating; Title; Pairing: M; Change; John Winchester/Dean Winchester.

Summary: John Winchester has to come to grips with the changes occurring in Dean, whether he likes it or not. [SLASH]

Warning/Disclaimer: Do not own Supernatural. Slash/Wincest. If you don't like it, don't read it.
Also, this is for a writing contest on a website I'm on, called Mibba. My acount is /1627.

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There were a lot of things that John Winchester wasn't. It would have to be a cold day in Hell before he got nominated for the Father of the Year award, and he knew that quite well. Hunting demons while his eldest cooed and fretted over his youngest, fending for themselves while their father was away for days on end certainly hurt his chances of that. Motel rooms made shit nurseries, after all and, though John was grateful as Hell for all of the help he received in "raising" (if one could call it that) his boys, outsiders didn't make the best nannies, either. John had a few other problems, a few choice-picks being his taste for alcohol when he was "off" work and running his family like a his own personal militia rather than two sons and their devoted father.

Once, on the off-brand weekend when he didn't have a case, John took his boys to the park. It was the first time in years, probably, and it was so calming to be out of the car, of the motels, of the dens of demon scum. The wind was crisp and smelt like spring, the grass a surreal shade of green, the clouds a blinding hue of white. John sat at a park bench, forgetting about the knife in his pocket and the gun tucked in the back of his pants, as well as the arsenal in the trunk, and watched his boys play.

Actually play, like boys should. Dean, ever the subconscious mother hen, fussed after a four-year-old Sam as the string-bean of a boy climbed the slide the wrong way. At that age, Dean was all hair and ears and freckles; hardly the ladies' man he would turn out to be. But the care and worry in his eyes both melted and struck John's heart. That kind of worry shouldn't be in the eyes of an eight-year-old.

The youngest Winchester screamed and giggled as he climbed the slide, trying his hardest to keep his feet out of Dean's grips. He was nearly at the top when he slipped on his shoe lace, tumbling backwards and head-first into Dean's stomach. The pain blind-sided Dean and, after making sure Sam was okay—which smashed John's shattered heart into a fine powder—he doubled-over and held himself. John rushed to his boys, giving a once-over to his youngest son, whom was fine but guilt-stricken, before turning to Dean. By the time he managed to get out, "You okay, son?" Dean had cleared the forming tears from his eyes, coughed a few times and hoarsely whispered, "Completely."

Had that been John, himself, when he was eight, he would have landed flat on his ass and cried until his mother scooped him up into an almost painful embrace. But Dean was tough—too tough—and just brushed it away. He knew there was no one to hoist him into the air and hold him until it was better. There was no use in crying, no use in making Sam feel worse with the tears. He would suck it up and keep on going, keeping up with Sam like that was his sole purpose in life.

John was almost certain that he had fractured a rib that afternoon. The boy wheezed throughout the day, and it was even worse at night, for a month and a half straight. He could barely lift Sam up, and when he did tears filled his eyes and his breathing became even more labored. John considered talking to Dean about it, but he knew the boy would politely, yet stoically, respond, "No, sir. I'm fine." Looking back at it now, he should have gone to the hospital, whether he wanted to or not. A father does that for his son.

But what kind of father was John to Dean? Dean was a soldier and John was his superior. He drilled and drilled and drilled into Dean until he was bone dry, and even then John kept drilling. Maybe it was because John couldn't control anything in his life but Dean; because everything else slipped through his fingers, like Mary and Sam and God damn Yellow Eyes. Maybe it was because, after all of these years, John still hadn't coped with his wife's death and he was punishing someone—anyone—for what had happened. Or maybe it was because he just had too much momentum and couldn't stop himself. Dean had always been willing to take the brunt of John's shame and loneliness.

Whatever the reason, he did a shit job of raising Dean. And nothing, absolutely nothing, would ever fix that.

Despite all of his parental mistakes (and mistakes in general), there was one thing that John always was: loving. He did a bang-up job of showing it but, by God and Satan and everything in between, he loved those boys with all of his heart. He would lay down his life for those boys over and over if he could and, even then, the gesture just wasn't enough. Especially to Dean. Dean, though John showed it less often than he should, was so talented and honorable and perfect in the eyes of his father. Too perfect, actually—that was, and is, the downfall of Dean Winchester—but that's a whole different story. Why he subjected Dean to the things he did—days without a single phone call while he was on the road, and then coming home and drinking and barely saying a word to him while he was back at their current faceless motel—John would never know. Maybe the reason was the same as the question before.

Or, maybe, John's actions had no rhyme or reason anymore. He was a bitter, aging man looking for revenge for his murdered wife; for his kids, whom had been virtually orphaned because their father had the compulsive need to search high and low for a God forsaken demon; for his soul that, even before signing on the dotted line to give it away, was trapped in Hell and was probably never going to be released.

Or, maybe.

Just before Dean had reached seventeen, a new option had arisen. Suddenly John was around even less. He would leave in the night without a word, without tell Dean or Sam anything, without leaving even the most rudimentary of notes. Sometimes he didn't even pay for the extension of the room, trusting in the survival tactics that he had instilled in Dean to get his sons through the stretch of time that they were alone. The alcohol he bought went up in quantity or in proof—or both—and he was constantly in a mood that left him either ready for a fight or completely detached. John hadn't the faintest idea what to do with himself anymore, besides drive and hunt and drink and stay the Hell away from his beautiful son.

It had all started on the week of Dean's seventeenth birthday. The teenager was hitting a growth spurt and finally growing into all of his lanky extremities. Suddenly his ears were proportionate, his hair less of a mop-top and easier to manage, his jaw stronger and fuller than before, his body, as a whole, less wafer-like and more like one of a man. Even his boyish freckles and wide, yet calculating, eyes turned into more desirable, adult features. He was no longer John's boy-soldier. He ate constantly and hustled pool regularly, coming home from small convenient stores with half of their product in plastic bags. John chalked it all up to Dean being a "growing boy" and even took pride in the way that his son was filling out.

Until he started noticing a little too well. Until he noticed the way Dean's hips swished back and forth when he walked; the way his dimples set his face aglow when he flashed that get-out-of-jail-free smile; the way his abs were starting to become more pronounced under old t-shirts; the way he smelt like motel-brand shampoo, leather, stale cigarettes and sweat twenty-four seven; the way he could milk a swoon out of anyone with a simple lick of his lips. These little characteristics set John's blood ablaze in both the negative and positive context, as well as frightened him to no end. No father should notice things like that. Ever. But here John was, noticing them all and remembering each and every one with a memory so clear that it was startling. It was like Dean growing up flipped a switch and John hadn't the slightest clue how to flip it back off.

Or if he could.

Sam was the buffer between them. Even as Sam grew into his own body, John didn't notice Sam's appearance quite like Dean's. He noticed that Sam was amazingly tall, that he could eat like a horse and that he was as stubborn as they came. He noticed that Sam was very much like himself and that he was strong yet gentle and wanted to make something of himself rather than spend the rest of his life bouncing from motel to motel. Not even once did he notice the smooth pink of Sam's lips or the heavily sculpted chest beneath his shabby clothes. But he noticed Dean's all the time.

Maybe he fought with Sam because he saw so much of himself in the other. By fighting with Sam, a freakishly large replica of himself, he could keep most of his sinful desires at bay and make himself pay the price for thinking such dirty things. Adding abrupt distances helped. But only for so long. Eventually, John got tired of asphalt and salt and stale beer at dingy roadside bars. He longed for his sons and their compliant companionship. He didn't feel like he deserved it. Not anymore. On top of his bang-up job as a father, he was a sick pervert, lusting after not only a minor of the male sex, but his own flesh and blood. What he did deserve was to have each bone tore from his body and thrust back in…

That week, when the sudden realization of how much Dean had changed hit him like a ton of bricks, John almost missed Dean's birthday completely. He hung around the towns on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, trying to keep both his act and sanity together. The only thing that helped was alcohol and, unfortunately, that was all the alcohol helped with. Sometimes John had hangovers so powerful that he stayed in his motel bed for hours, staring at the ceiling and willing the headache away.

If he missed Dean's birthday, which he, amazingly, never had, he would never forgive himself. But if he got drunk and did something he would regret, how could he live with himself? Cutting alcohol out of the equation totally wasn't going to happen. It was a slight crutch, one that he would overcome but in due time.

His duty as a father won the battle and, with his tail between his legs and a sour taste on his tongue, John Winchester headed back to the motel.