Disclaimer: Not Mine

AN: I don't know where it came from, or if it even makes sense, or if it flows or catches John accurately (i prefer John in a sympathetic light myself). Just something that came to me. Hope you guys like :D

John Winchester has built up a tolerance to hard alcohol over the past couple of decades that could rival an Angel's, although he would never know that because to John Winchester, angel's don't exist.

It's late spring, almost summer, of 2005 and John's somewhere outside of Toledo, Ohio, in a hole in the wall bar on a Sunday night, and its not as empty as he'd like. He sits at the bar and waves at the bartender to signal another shot, because damn him if he hasn't just found out the worse news ever.

He wasn't sure exactly how or why it had come to pass, but he knew that on an unusually cool day in May in Louisiana, he'd been on a hunt involving a hoodoo preistess when he'd brushed by a young woman in a park, his arm faintly making contact with her own. She collapsed to the ground, her body writhing and twitching, her eyes rolling up into the back of her head as soft inhuman moans escaped her lips. Some bystanders who had witnessed the innocent exchange crouched near her as John stood back, too dumbstruck to do anything, until she had stopped seizing and had fallen unconscious. He had followed the ambulance to the hospital, because it was just too damn weird, and in his line of business, anything that strange deserved looking into.

He waited in the parking lot, and there must have not been anything medically wrong with her, because she was released shortly after (no insurance, he later found out) and he followed a cab to her home. He waited for her to go inside before he rang the bell and when she opened the door shortly after, her eyes went wide and fearful before she slammed the door in his face.

He didn't relent though; John Winchester was never one to give up anything, and he stood outside for damn near an hour banging on her door and waiting, because that reaction meant that something definitely happened out there in the park. When she opened the door, he was met by a sawed off shotgun in his face as she backed into her living room while he did his best to assure her that he wasn't there to hurt her, that he just wants to know what that was all about. That he specializes in these kinds of...things.

"I know," She replied in a clipped tone, her glance cutting. "Sit down, John."

She explained that she wasn't sure what she was (because she knows he wanted to ask), that she's maybe a psychic, or an oracle or whatever, but she saw something when he brushed her in the park and she suddenly buried her face in her hands, shaking her head over and over, telling him to just go.

He ended up emptying his wallet and a few other trinkets he kept for protection. "I can handle it," He promised, even though he and she both know that's not a definite promise he could keep. "...and if you got a read on me that easy, I probably need to know it. Innocent lives are at stake."

She nodded, like a small child who rocks back and forth for the comfort of the movement. "Your boys."

Something inside John snaps and he no longer cared about talking gentle and nice. He didn't threaten or force her, but he made it explicitly clear that he would not be leaving until he got answers. He began offering things that weren't even his to give, with promises that she would definitely get said objects; anything to keep his children safe, just like it's always been.

She accepted the trinkets and charms and tells him to keep his money.

His boys are destined for something far worse than whatever Yellow Eyes has planned for Sam. Something that is made of great disaster and heartbreak, two brothers, torn by strife and pain and will face off in a Great field of battle and there will be many deaths; something that sounds too much like End Times for John's comfort. That's the extent of the information she gives him, at least the information he could make sense of; she's some sort of clairvoyant, after all, and interpretation was not John's strong suit. But it had left John with a heavy feeling in his gut, one that made him drive slow and stay up for days on end and drink much more than usual, which was already a lot.

"You have the mark of Angels on your soul," She had whispered to him as he left. He looked at her strangely, and asked her what it had meant but she shoved him out the door and closed it roughly behind him. Angels didn't exist, so part of him wanted to excuse her ramblings as ridiculous drivel but he knew, deep in his soul, that there had always been something about Sammy that was...not off, but not quite on either. Because Sam was a good kid, a smart kid with a good heart; but it wasn't happenstance that the demon was in his nursery that night, and that it had happened to so many other children as well. And this wasn't just for kicks. They had plans; something big.

Something like the end of days.

And that's how he found himself, on a Sunday in late May, almost June, drinking cheap whiskey and staring at the clock on the wall. There's a couple of guys having some beer and shooting pool to the left behind him and a few couples at the tables finishing up dinner and drinks as well. He wonders if the next day is a holiday or something; not that its even near busy, but on Sunday's at 8 pm, he's used to being one of the only ones in a bar.

"Look like you need a drink."

John starts as he hears the man, and whips his head around in alarm, only to relax immediately. The source of the voice is of small stature and looks as if he crouches back from him in defense.

"Excuse me?" John's glare is hostile and gruff, but he hates being interrupted and having people pry. To the smaller man's credit, he swallows quite noticeably and keeps talking.

"I said, you look like you need a drink. Josh," The man signals to the bartender, waving him over and gesturing between the two of them. John doesn't take his eyes off of him, narrowing by the second.

"I'm set, thanks." He gestures to the three overturned shot-glasses in front of him.

"No, no, I insist. As they say, misery loves company." He chuckles nervously, and as the shots of whiskey come, he slides one over to John. John looks at him skeptically, considers pining the man against the bar and threatening his life, for more than a moment, then shrugs and takes the whiskey. He's watched the barkeep pour it, straight from the bottle, so he trusts it. The amber liquid is smoother than what he's been drinking, warm and easy in his stomach and when he opens his eyes, the guy is still there. He wants to frown, but this guy just bought him some of the best stuff in the bar and he figures maybe he's not the only one having a bad life and that he's always in the mood for a pissing match.

The guy holds out his hand. "Chuck. Chuck Shirley."

John takes it, gives his name back then settles against the bar once more. Chuck climbs on the stool next to him, his frame weak and slight in comparison to John, but he waves two fingers once more and the bartender nods at him. John looks at him again, and Chuck shrugs.

"Josh and I go way back. Good friends."

That's about all the information he gets. John doesn't really care; he's getting some free whiskey and someone to talk to about nothing, so he figures he should thank God for small favors. He clears his throat.

"So Chuck," He begins, picking up the shot glass and swinging it around slowly as he stares down. "What brings you here on a Sunday night?"

"Writers block. And some killer migraines." He replies, taking his shot quickly and slamming the glass down. John looks at him strangely. "I'm a writer," He offers. "Well. I'm trying to be."

John frowns, like that's not enough of a reason to be depressed enough to be drinking alone on a Sunday night, and turns his attention back forward.

"What about you? Fight with the misses or something?"

John stiffens, and he knows the hostility is just pouring off of him because he's keenly aware of the man leaning away from him. He makes himself breathe and calm down. It's not like the guy knew or anything.

"My wife's dead."

An awkward silence follows. "Oh, I...I, uh..."

"It's not a big deal, she's been gone over 20 years." He looks down at his callused hands and smiles softly at the ring he's never taken off. "You didn't know."

"I'm still sorry, John." His voice is soft and low, and it causes John to look down into the man's face. The eyes are sympathetic, but there is no pity on his face. John's thankful for that.

"No, I uh..." He clears his throat, forcing himself to relax now because relaxing is so much more uncomfortable than being prepared. He knows he's constantly stressed and that he's tense and twitchy, but it's kept him and his boys alive for years and he doesn't see anything wrong with that. But this guy is innocent and safe, and John doesn't know how he knows that but he just does; hunters intuition, he supposes. "My sons...I'm worried about them. They're..." He doesn't know how to explain it. "They seem to be headed for a lot of difficult situations that aren't really their problems."

"That so?"

"Yeah, it is." He replies sharply, and the man cowers. John looks back ahead, and for some reason he doesn't understand, keeps talking. "They're good kids. Smart...sometimes, too smart." He smiles to himself. "And they have good hearts, but they're meant for things no one should have to face." His face turns sad. "I worry for them is all." And worry is an understatement, because what he really wants to say is he is scared to bejezus for them and about all the gibberish the woman was spouting days earlier. But this guy is a normal guy and he knows nothing of demons and monsters, so John knows he can never fully quantify that feeling, can't ever explain that kind of worry & fear.

"I just...I worry, that I didn't teach them enough, or that I did something wrong, and that...that they won't be able to handle it. That they'll have to do something they shouldn't have to do." He scowls a little. "You have children?"

The man smiles now, and there's something odd in the way his lips twitch and curl upward; as if the question is much funnier than it ought to be. "Yeah. Yeah, you could say that."

John doesn't question it. Chuck keeps going.

"I get the worry thing though," He says, shifting uncomfortably. "2 of my boys...they had a huge fight a few years back. Huge. The younger, got thrown in jail for it...

John's kind of listening now, but he's more so examining the man next to him, because he really doesn't look old enough to have a younger kid in jail; he really doesn't look too much older than Dean. But he supposes that some people are different, and age differently, and who is he to question it?

"...should be getting out soon though." Chuck finishes softly, downing another shot the bartender has provided with a shake of his head. "Point being, though, you do what you can for your kids. You teach them what you can, and you try and protect them, but in the end, it's their lives and it's their decisions. And they're gonna do what they believe is best. You just have to hope that the values you've instilled in them are the right ones for the situations they'll be facing and that they stick. You just have to have faith in them."

John doesn't look up at the man once he finished talking, but stares down at the top of the bar where the shot glass stand still full. His throat his clogged up and when he breathes, it's hard and tight in his chest and he feels the pin prick of tears at the sides of his eyes. Both his boys are good boys; while Sam is rebellious, he still takes care of business. He may be living in California and going to school, but he knows in his bones that if there was something going on in his neck of the woods and he could help, there's nothing Sam wouldn't do to try. And Dean...God, Dean. John has to shake his head at the thought of his eldest. He's always been the one John could rely on, always been so on point and loyal, to a fault really, because he's sure one day it's gonna get his boy killed and John wonders briefly if he'll be able to live with himself when it happens. He has nothing but faith in his boys.

But this. End times. How can he believe that with everything weighing on them, if that is what it comes to, that they will choose what is right? Who's to even say what will be right? Or that they won't get so turned around, they won't know which way is up? John hopes if it truly comes to that that he's around to be there because he's their father and at the end of the day, he's worried about them. He always will be. Most times, he wishes it were less complicated, that they weren't hunters and didn't live this life and have knowledge of these things, but if it does come to end times, he supposes he'll be thankful of it then. He wishes life were as simple as it were when they were little, and Mary was alive and the worst thing he had to imagine was a sharp edge to a short table.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

He's done with this. He's had too many shots of whiskey and he's tired of talking and he's tired of thinking about this, and all he wants to do is go to his crap motel and collapse on the bed in some semblance of a drunken stupor that will keep the nightmares at bay. He moves to stand and spares a glance at the shorter man, who is looking up at him with uncertainty, like he is contemplating his next words carefully. John stands there for a moment, waiting.

"You should trust him, you know." The man says softly as John turns to leave. "Sam. And Dean, for that matter. They're good men. You've done everything you can to make them good people. They'll follow what they think is right. In the end, they'll do what's right." He swallows. "Even if you're not there to help them."

John looks at the man oddly, slightly grunts and nods. He knows they're good men, knows it because they're his sons and if anything, they have Mary in them, and that's enough for him. He throws down a crumpled bill, enough to cover his tab and the smaller mans, plus a tip and walks out of the bar. He's surprised to realize his shoulders feel a little lighter and his stomach a little less heavy; maybe there is something to the whole namby pamby talking about your problems shit. It's only when he reaches the rough gravel of the parking lot that he realizes he never told Chuck his son's names.

He spins around and rushes back into the bar within seconds, but it's too late.

The man is gone.