A/N This is actually a spin on a certain event in the boys past mentioned in season five but contains no major spoilers. It's been done before and probably done much better than what I have here but hopefully there's some originality to my take on that event. I started this a few months ago but gave up on it after a while because the subject matter is something I (fortunately) have no real experience in and I felt I couldn't do it justice especially given the point of view I was taking. However I decided to revisit this and finish it and I'm posting it today because of when I set this story and also I've come to the point where I've been overthinking this - a bad habit I really need to get over - and need to just post before it drives me mad. I really hope it works.

Disclaimer: "Supernatural" is not mine. If it were the boys would've defeated Lucifer Winchester style without either of the boys saying 'yes' and the boys would be back on the road working in tandem again. (I'm a little bitter with recent turn of events in the series - can't you tell?)

Warning: Abuse, language

Anyway, without further ado, enjoy!

Sins of the Father

by Deana W.


Ten years.

Ten fucking years.

Ten fucking years to the day.

That's how long it's been since Mary died.

John tips his head back and downs the shot of whiskey in front of him, the burn of the amber liquid moving down his throat a temporary distraction from the pain in his heart, but it's not enough to dull the pain to a bearable level. He motions for another one, heaving a deep sigh and hanging his head in grief and regret.

He never thought it would last this long, this long dark road of revenge. He thought, hoped, foolishly believed he'd be done by now. By now he thought that the thing that killed his beloved would've been long gone and he and his boys would've moved on and settled down into the normal, carefree lives the boys deserve.

Sometimes John thinks that he should've just heeded Elkins' warnings and got out while he still could, quit before he even began, before his first kill. "Once you're in there's no going back. There's no walking away from it, the only way out is death," Elkins had warned him, "Do you really want to subject your boys to this life? Because you'll be damning them as well."

But back then he didn't think so much about the consequences to him or his children. Back then he was naïve, believing it won't happen, so blinded by his need to kill the thing that took his beloved, so driven to protect his boys from it that he didn't care about the consequences. So he went ahead and dived in head first. He was so certain that he'd be the exception—that he'd be able to move on once he got that closure, that revenge. But Elkins was right. Even if Mary's killer were to walk into the bar right now and John were to blow its demonic brains out, ending it forever, it wouldn't be over. Not for him, not for Dean, not for Sammy.

The thing is, you can't know what lurks in the dark and pretend it's not there. You can't spend almost a fucking decade fighting back the darkness that seems hell-bent on stalking your family and driving you to the ground and then just turn your back on it.

John catches himself grinding his teeth in anger at the thought. Oh, how happy life was when he didn't know better! Ignorance is bliss and John would give his right arm for him and his boys to be fucking clueless to the truth. He bites his lip in bitterness, feeling his cheeks grow hot with anger. His fingers twitch restlessly, pent up aggression begging to be released.

Ten years ago, he cursed himself by choosing this fucked up life, and because he was too stubborn, too blind, he cursed his boys as well. Now Sam's growing to resent him and the lifestyle he chose for them with every new day, new town, new school and new sketchy motel he's dumped them in, and Dean's more of a parent to Sammy than John is, all too often bearing the burden of taking care of everyone. Dean's turning more and more into the perfect toy soldier in John's personal army and yet deep down still holds onto the ghost of the four year old boy who lost his mommy.

It's his own damn fault.

Ten fucking years.

He should've never dragged them into this mess, but what else could he have done?

John would love to settle down and let Sammy play soccer and make friends and stay in the same school all year instead of always be on the move, he would love to teach Dean more about girls and cars instead of teaching him about weapons and how to hunt and kill supernatural creatures, but he can't. He doesn't know how to be a loving father. Not anymore. Yet deep in his soul that's all he really wants, it's all he's ever wanted—ever since Mary announced she was pregnant.

Avenging Mary's death wasn't the only reason he chose the life he did. It was also that paternal instinct to protect his boys from the things that go bump in the night, it was that need to make sure what happened to Mary wouldn't happen to them. He never wanted to drag them into it, but destiny offered him no choice, not really. Not when whatever killed Mary was in Sammy's nursery for a reason. He knows that the boys are alive today because he had chosen to drag them into his cursed life, instead of leaving them to be raised by distant relatives, but he regrets his decision all the same.

Sammy and Dean deserve more than what he has to offer. They deserve a father who is loving and present, not one who leaves them in questionable motels while he runs off to kill yet another creature of darkness. But in all honesty, how safe are they when he leaves them alone all the time? Sure, he knows he can trust Dean to keep a protective eye on Sammy, keep him safe, he knows that Dean's more than capable of fighting for his and Sammy's life if the need presented itself as it had once or twice before. But at the end of the day he's still a fourteen year old boy with more responsibility thrust upon him than any kid his age should have to bear. John knows this, and the guilt and regret only serves to fuel his rage because he doesn't know how to fix it.

He keeps telling himself that everything he does, every choice he makes, right or wrong, he does it to protect them. While that's true on some level, keeping the boys happy and safe is often overshadowed by his need to avenge Mary and hunt every evil sonofabitch he can find. It's on Dean's shoulders where the burden of caretaker rests.

When did that happen? He wonders bitterly, When did this life become more of a crusade for vengeance than a need to keep the boys safe? To keep them happy?

The little voice of truth in the back of his mind answers for him, a truth that only feeds his ever growing anger. Since the very beginning when you handed Sammy to Dean and told him to run and not look back. Since you first left the boys behind to go hunting with Elkins and Harvelle. Since your first kill. Since you learned of the other nursery fires and every new lead after that has taken you one step forward and two steps back.

Closing his eyes to blink back the memory of that night, of Mary on the fucking ceiling, of the fire, of the terror in Dean's wide eyes, John shakes his head and tips his head back, downing another shot of whiskey. Here's to you Mary.

He motions to the bartender for another one, resisting the urge to throw his empty glass against the wall. As soon as another glass is there in front of him he swallows it back, the amber liquid burning his throat, but tonight it's still failing to numb the pain in his soul.

That pisses him off.

"Want to talk about it?"

John clenches his fist tightly around his glass into a white knuckled grip and glares daggers at the bartender. Fucking bartenders who think they know everything.

"Sorry man, you just look…"

John's expression darkens even more. The last thing he needs is a nosy bartender who moonlights as a therapist. The fucker has no idea what the hell he's talking about, and who the hell he's messing with.

The bartender raises his hands in surrender, "OK, it's cool. Want another?"

Without a word John shakes his glass in a silent hint, raising his brow.

Nodding he pours him another shot which John empties in one smooth motion. "Keep 'em coming," John growls, his voice hoarse.

The bartender glances at him, uncertain. John knows the look. The asshole is determining if John's had one too many. He nudges the glass towards the bartender, danger in his eyes. He's been spoiling for a fight all evening, and so far John's been able to resist the urge to punch something, but if the bartender wants to push his luck…

The man gives him another shot, but John decides to nurse this one. As much as he'd love to get all shit-faced and pass out in the backseat of the impala until morning, he wants to get back to his boys sometime this evening. He's been away from them for a little over a week now and after a failed hunt that's left him wallowing in bitter regret as the date harshly reminds him of his failures and fills him with grief and pent up rage, all he wants to do is see them. He needs them.

First he needs to cool off though. The anniversary, the failed hunt and several sleepless nights has him on edge, filled with dark thoughts and emotions he doesn't want to bring home with him. He's done that before too many times already. He'd love to get smashed and fall into oblivion, or pick a fight, lash out at anything or anyone who might cross his path to release the aggression he has swelling up inside.

But he can't, he won't. He needs his boys more than anything right now, so he nurses his last drink, sipping it slowly in hopes that this drink might do what the other shots could not and render him numb and free from the debilitating emotions coursing through him.

He closes his eyes and tries to relax, but memories of that night ten fucking years ago merge with that of the hunt and John feels his whole body tense and his heart pound in response.

Tonight John had been faced with what he thought was a solid lead, what he thought would be the breakthrough he needed to get him that much closer to finding Mary's killer. A part of him believed, prayed, that tonight would be the night to end it all. It would've been fitting, wouldn't it? To end his quest ten years to the day?

Bloody wishful thinking…does more harm to his psyche than good.

He had hoped, but the bitter truth is that it's probably better not to wish, to hope, at all.

He got a call from Bobby a few weeks ago, informing him of a string of omens and signs of demonic activity. John had known for a while now that he was after a demon, and somewhere along the way learned it was a higher level demon than what the few hunters who managed to encounter one were used to. When he learned of a possible demon, he jumped at the opportunity to follow it, track it, hunt it. Get some bloody fucking answers.

Tonight was the first time John had encountered an actual demon face to face. If nothing else, he learned tonight that demons are nasty sonsabitches and know how to hit you where it hurts. He's not sure how exactly, but the fucker seemed to know how to breech his mental defences and managed to reopen many old wounds and bring to light all the painful truths he'd worked so hard to suppress and deny.

Truths about his failure as a father, a husband.

It wore the body of a girl maybe a year or two older than Dean and somehow knew all the buttons to push. It pointed out how much Sammy was growing to hate him, resent him for the decisions he's made in their lives.

"One day he's going to leave you, Johnny boy... switch sides," it had taunted, "and when he does, we'll be waiting for him."

It taunted him with the truth that at fourteen, Dean was the responsible adult in the family and that he'll never feel like he's good enough for dear ol' daddy.

"I think he's going to die for this family, because that's his job, isn't it?" the demon had grinned, a sick, twisted smile on its face, "You're raising him to be cannon fodder—or that's what you're leading him to believe, aren't you?"

John had tried to ignore the taunts, the declarations that one day his children are going to leave him, Sam's gonna run off to where they'll find him and turn him and Dean's going to throw himself in the line of fire all because of him and how he's raised them. He tried to tune it out, he did. Bobby had warned him that demons aim for where it hurts, that they know how to dig deep and expose ones darkest fears and regrets. "Ya can't let it get to ya or it'll destroy you," Bobby told him.

"Probably a good thing, isn't it," the demon had said, "that Mary died before she can see what a bastard you really are."

John managed to trap it, he tried to torture some solid answers out of it, but the fucker got away. It tore into the darkest corners of his soul and left it raw and open, and then it got away, leaving the body of a beautiful young teenage girl behind.

She was still alive when the demon left her, and all the wounds he inflicted on the demon transferred to her. He had tried to help her, but she had cowered away from him in fear, terror and confusion in her large green eyes as she stared at him as though he were the one with the demon inside.

"Please…"she had whispered weakly, blood spilling from her mouth as she feebly tried to get away from him. She had collapsed then, her body convulsed and then she died. He watched the life leave her innocent eyes.

Tonight was the first time in years that a hunt had him losing his lunch afterwards. An innocent girl had died because of what he had done to her—to the demon. She died thinking he was her murderer, and in a way he was. He could've exorcized the demon, maybe even saved her, but he had to get answers out of that thing. Answers that would actually get him somewhere.

But he didn't get that, did he? All he got was another life on his hands and a shitload of pain, the kind of pain he doesn't know how to deal with.

He can't erase the image of the girl, weakly cowering away from him, and he can't help but juxtapose that image with that of Mary on the ceiling, the terror in her eyes before she burst into flames. It couldn't have been a coincidence that the demon chose a host that looked so much like Mary did at that age, because its sole purpose it seemed was to taunt, and hurt. And it did hurt, it hurts still, and probably will for some time to see the girl's large, innocent, green eyes stare at him with such horror.

Shaking his head John downs the rest of the whiskey and pays his tab. A part of him wishes the bartender or someone, anyone would say something nasty, get in his way. Pain, guilt and sorrow always morphs into rage, and John's got plenty of it. It's part of what makes him a natural hunter. A part of him hopes someone will try to rile him up. He's been spoiling for a fight, longing to release the aggression and heartache the hunt and the anniversary left in his soul.

But no one does. He pays for his alcohol and the bartender thanks him politely. He bumps into someone on his way out, subconsciously trying to instigate a fist fight, but the large, tattooed biker excuses him and John climbs into the impala without incident.

John's hands ball into fists.

Ten fucking years.

He wants to punch something, break something.

Taking a deep breath John steadies himself, reels his emotions back in. The whiskey did nothing to pull him from the edge, but it's just as well. All he wants to do now is see his boys. Make it up to them somehow for the fucked up mess he's put them in time and time again. Maybe when he sees them, sees how wrong the demon is about everything it said about Sammy, about Dean, maybe then everything will be OK, even if it's just for a little while.

He doesn't know how to be a good father, not anymore, but he can at least try.

How many times have you made that vow only to fail? His subconscious taunts bitterly. He shakes his head and drowns it out by promising that this time will be different.

Nodding decisively to himself he turns the key in the ignition and drives into the night, hoping that the long drive and the radio and the warmth of the whiskey combined with the anticipation of seeing Sammy and Dean will be enough to lift the weight of the evening off his shoulders.

By the time he reaches the motel, it's late and he's exhausted.

The long drive managed to calm him down, but there is an achy numbness that's settled within him as the anger and pain retreats to the back of his mind. He tries not to think about what the demon said and instead tries to focus on seeing his boys. He's misses them. Always. But with the significance of the day, and the days events…he misses them more than ever. While deep down it hurts to think about how frequently he leaves them behind for a hunt, right now it doesn't matter. He's home. Home for John is where his boys are. Mary's boys.

Climbing out of the impala he shrugs away the irony of it all, because that only brings his guilt to the surface and he doesn't know how to deal with that.

He grabs his duffel and locks the Impala's door, wondering why the light is still on in their room. It's ridiculously late and Sammy and Dean should be asleep by now. He takes out his room key and opens the door and startles as Dean jumps up from where he was lying on the bed closest to the door like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"Dad!" Dean exclaims in surprise, "You're back!" The kid looks as exhausted and stressed as John feels, dark circles under his eyes, looking a little thin. There's a crease on his cheek indicating he had fallen asleep on something that wasn't a pillow. John's eyes shift to the bed where there are maps and papers and books strewn all over the place.

John rolls his eyes, feeling the irritation start to creep in, "What's all this?" he demands because he's tired and both beds are a mess. At first John thinks that maybe the boys found a hunt, but he's at a loss as to why. But the absence of Sammy leaves a sick feeling in his gut.

Dean's lip trembles, "Uh…"

"Where's Sammy?" John asks, his eyes drifting to the back of the room where the bathroom is, noticing the door open and the lights off. He swallows as worry and fear suddenly slams into him and he doesn't know how to properly process that.

Clearly Dean's just as worried as he is and he bows his head, "I…I looked everywhere, sir."

His hands are suddenly clutching Dean's arms before he can register the movement and the next thing he knows, he's shaking his eldest, hard. "What happened?" Worry makes his voice sound angry, threatening.

So many scenarios play through his head. Images of demons breaking in and spiriting him away to turn him into one of their own, rogue hunters luring him into a trap, supernatural creatures taking him and feeding on him… images of Sammy lost, hurt and alone, images of Sammy dead, his tiny body in early stages of decay in the cold unforgiving ground… they all flash through his mind and the raw panic it causes leads him to shake Dean so hard his teeth rattle because anything could've happened and where was Dean through all this?

"What happened?" he screams again, his grip on Dean's arms tight and unforgiving.

"I don't know! He took off when I was sleeping, I think," Dean gasps, "I woke up one morning and he was gone. I've been looking ever since!"

John feels as though he's been sucker punched in the gut. For a moment he's not sure what's worse, the fact that Sammy's missing or the fact that Sammy took off on his own free will. Of course if Sammy's run away then he might be safe, hiding somewhere, but the implications behind it…John inwardly curses because Sammy's been threatening to run away for a while now; he just never thought he'd go through with it.

"You let him run away? Disappear? On your watch? Why didn't you call me?"

"I tried!"

John reels as though struck. It's common knowledge that John Winchester is next to impossible to get a hold of when he's off on a hunt. But damn it! If Sammy's missing, Dean should've tried harder! And that's exactly what he says. Screams. Even though he knows that it's not Dean's fault that John's hard to reach...

"How long's he been gone?" he asks, demands.

"About a week..." Dean replies, his voice small and meek.

John's world is spinning. The events of the night, his guilt for the life he's chosen, the life that's driving Sammy further and further away, the demon's words, all crash into him at once and the only way he can process the flurry of emotions is to turn them to rage.

After all, he's been spoiling for a fight all evening.

So much goes through John's head as he tries to wrap his mind around what happened. It's not Dean's fault, he knows that, but damn it, Dean should've been watching him, kept an eye on him! Dean should know better than to let him run off! He's supposed to protect him and keep him safe.

And that's exactly what he yells as he shakes Dean again, shoving him roughly against the wall.

"I know, I tried and I'm sorry!" Dean snaps brokenly, his face red, his eyes puffy. It's clear he's worried, it's clear that he feels guilt, and fear and that he probably hasn't slept in days, and John knows that he's being too hard on Dean, but the filter is gone and John can't restrain himself.

"Sorry?" he snaps back in fury, "You stupid kid, what were you thinking? He's a ten year old boy! You know what's out there! He could be killed and it would be your fault!"

Funny thing is, it's not Dean he is angry with, not really. He's done nothing wrong. All he's done is let his sneaky ten year old brother slip past him. If there's any blame to pass around that goes to Sammy for running away but even then that's not entirely true. Nope, the blame truly belongs to John for driving him to it and not doing his job as a parent. Sammy's been threatening to do this in the heat of many arguments, and as his father he should've listened, he should've tried to make things right and keep the family together. It's supposed to be his job.

He knows that Dean would do anything to keep Sammy safe, that Sammy is his world and he'd do anything in his power to make him happy. He knows that as much as Sammy's actions hurt them both, it probably hurt Dean more.

He knows this and yet and he can't hold back.

Missouri once told him when left alone with his thoughts for too long, he can be a dangerous man. He scoffed at it at the time, because John Winchester is too impulsive to be contemplative, but without an anchor, without Mary, those thoughts can run away from him and everything hits him suddenly, all at once. Every negative thought and emotion that crossed his brain tonight, coupled with the new revelation that Sammy's made true to his threat hits him at once. And in the heat of it all, he can't control himself.

As passion overrides all reason, he's suddenly outside of himself, moving without thought.

It's not until Dean's on the floor and his own fist is throbbing that he's aware of moving at all. His fist connects harshly with Dean's jaw, throwing him off balance, knocking him off his feet as he careens into the dresser against the wall. His back slams against the corner of the dresser and he slumps to the floor, winded.

Passion overrides reason, rage overrides compassion and he can't stop. He wants to, but it's like John is suddenly outside himself, inwardly screaming at himself to stop, but he can't. Dean curls into a ball and John's foot slams into his stomach again and again. He's moving without thought, through a hazy fog of fury and there's nothing left for him to do but lash out at the closest target.

"Dad! Please, stop! Please!"

Dean's voice slices through his skull, giving him sudden clarity and he stops mid-kick. He's suddenly acutely aware of what just happened, what he had done and he stares at his son in shock.

John Winchester never hit his boys before. Sure, he's given them the occasional spanking when they'd done something to deserve it, but he never let himself cross the line between discipline and beating his kids. That's a line he vowed to never, ever cross. He may be a horrible father, but at least he wasn't one of those monstrous abusive bastards who beat their kids…

Until now.

He feels his stomach churn.

Dean looks up at him with wide green eyes, flashes of Mary and that terrified girl he killed tonight strike his psyche with such force that he has to back up a step and gasp for air.

"You should've watched him," John breathes, unable to contain the anger in his voice. Dean's staring at him, his face already beginning to swell, his mouth bloody, eyes glistening with tears and guilt, his arm is protectively wrapped around his stomach and he's trembling. What have I done?

He coughs, trying and failing to hide a wince of pain, "I…I'm sorry Dad…"

"You should be sorry," he snaps, instantly regretting it. It's not Dean's fault, not entirely. He knows that, but he can't shut up. Dean just nods. John backs up another step, unable to reconcile the fact that he's the reason Dean's lying broken on the floor. He reels his emotions back in, fights to gain back control and holds his hand out to help his son up.

But the control he has is delicate and breaks the moment Dean flinches at his outstretched hand. For a second he's not seeing Dean, but the possessed girl he killed, he's not seeing the pain and guilt in his eyes, but the fear, fear of him and he growls once in frustration before turning away, he looks at his own hand and sees that it's shaking. He balls it into a fist and closes his eyes in shame. He hurt his own son.

John knows he's committed many crimes as a father since Mary died ten years and a day ago and he's allowed the hunt and his drive for revenge consume him. He had crossed many lines in the last ten years, and every failure weighs heavily on his conscience but there is one line he never thought he'd cross, the one he thought should never be crossed by anyone and he had just crossed it: he had just beaten his own son.

Oh god, what have I done?

An apology dies on his lips as Dean flinches from his hand, angering him once again and instead he spins on his heel and wordlessly storms out of the motel room, slamming the door behind him.

He has to get away, he has to run, how can he face Dean a moment longer after what he did? He has to find Sammy, bring him back safely…

As he climbs into the impala and drives off to look for his runaway kid, he can't help but chuckle humourlessly at the irony. Here he is, John Winchester, one of the best hunters out there who has hunted and killed just about every kind of monster you can think of afraid to face his own son after what he did. Afraid to face his failure as a human being, afraid to face the fact that tonight he had become of those fathers, those abusive monsters that he's always abhorred. He'd rather face a pack of werewolves armed with only a silver fork than face his crimes as a father. And doesn't that just make him a fucking coward?


He returns hours later to find Dean sitting on the bed farthest from the door, hunched over, holding his stomach with pure misery etched on his bruised and swollen face. Dean glances up at him as he comes in and John has to look away. Silently John starts to pack, shoving clothes and stuff haphazardly into duffels, not caring about what goes where.

"Dad?" Dean's voice is hollow and hoarse.

"Grab your stuff," he says, his voice equally empty, "we're leaving. We're going to find your brother."

"Yes sir," he replies softly, hissing slightly as he stiffly rises to his feet and starts to pack up his stuff, his face a rainbow of swollen bruising. The kid can't even stand up straight.

John takes a deep breath, "Dean…" he sighs, feeling his heart pound in his chest, his emotions quaking with uncertainty as he tries to gather the courage to face his son and face what he had done to him.

Dean pauses and looks at him with soulful eyes that radiate pain, worry, guilt and apprehension. He swallows hard and with a raw voice he whispers, "Yeah Dad?"

He has to look away, "Sit down," he orders as he grabs a towel and a plastic grocery bag and leaves the motel room. He goes to the ice machine and scoops some ice into the folds of the towel and puts it in the bag and breathes deeply through his nose before heading back to the room. Dean glances up at him as the door opens and John can't help but lower his gaze. He's not ready, he's not ready to face him yet, face what he'd done.

"Put that on your face, help get the swelling down," he says as he hands the bag of ice to him, finally looking at him once with hard eyes, hoping Dean will see the apology in them, because it's there.

Dean's eyes lock with his and he nods, taking the ice without a word, wincing as he gingerly puts the ice to his bruised cheek. He rises to help John pack but with the wave of his hand he motions him to sit down.

"Sit. I got this," John's voice sounds harsher than he intends it to be. Dean nods again his swollen and bloody lip quivering like he's about to cry but he doesn't. Instead he bites his lip, his eyes momentarily squeezing shut from pain and breathes deeply through his nose, clearly fighting to keep it together himself.

"Dad I…"

"I don't want to hear it," he cuts him off. Dean's apologized already and he shouldn't have to apologize again, especially considering... John knows he's sorry and there's not much to be sorry for except for letting his ten year old brother get past him. If anyone should apologize it's him, but he doesn't. He's afraid to, it's stupid but he's afraid and he can't even figure out why.

John gathers their stuff and loads it into the car and returns to the motel room where Dean still sits as he was told. The air around them is tense and John can feel it in his shoulders, putting him on edge again. Sammy's been gone a week. A week. Anything could happen in a week. He may have run off on his own free will, but anything could happen. Shit, that demon could've found him. It's what it threatened to do.

Taking a deep gasp of air as though he'd been underwater for too long he cries out, "FUCK!" and sweeps his arm across the table by the door, knocking off the lamp, phone book and ashtray and then kicks the lamp where it landed, his hands balled into fists. Dean jumps at the sudden display and John turns to him and growls, "Get in the car, we're wasting time."

Despite the pain it causes, Dean silently obeys, rising to his feet and staggering out the door in a slightly hunched position, quickly moving past John to wait beside the passenger side door. John climbs in and reaches over to unlock it and Dean slowly, stiffly climbs in beside him, hissing in pain.

John glances at Dean briefly before clenching his jaw and pulling the Impala out onto the road. He knows he should say something, anything. As he pulls up to a red light he sees Dean lean his sore face against the cool window, his eyes closing shut in a subtle grimace. He looks back at the road and bites his lip, at a complete loss as to what to do.

"Dean…" he breathes finally.

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat Dean turns to face him, his eyes glistening with tears John knows Dean's refusing to shed. Dean bites his swollen lip and mumbles softly, "Yeah?"

"You know…" he clears his throat, at a loss for words, "what I…" the light turns green and he's forced to look back at the road, relieved that he doesn't have to look Dean in the eye. "It's been a long night," he sighs lamely and then clams up. Winchesters don't cry, nor do they do the touchy-feely heart-to-heart thing and John's never been good with words and even worse with apologies. "Bad hunt tonight and tonight was the anniversary…I'd been drinking, you know? And when I…and Sammy's run away…and you…I…"

"It's OK Dad," Dean mutters quietly, "I understand."

John risks a sharp glance at Dean who has his eyes closed sinking against the cool window, trying in vain to find a comfortable position. He turns back to the road guiltily—he doesn't even know how badly he hurt him.

"I don't blame you for being mad," Dean's breath hitches as he continues, "I get it. I screwed up."

John nods and focuses back on the road.

Dean's wrong. He's the one who screwed up.

He knows he should say so, but he doesn't.


If Mary could only see him now…

Ten fucking years.

Silence follows them to Flagstaff.

A/N I know the ending's a little abrupt and messy but then so is the lives of our dear Winchester boys, right? I'm really worried about my portrayal of John because he's so complex and it's always challenging to delve into his psyche and yet while I prefer to read and write stories about Dean and Sam, there's something about John that makes me want to get into his head and figure out what exactly made him tick. I mean the man was a terrible father in many ways, but he wasn't always that way and he clearly loved his boys and I think the big tragedy of "Supernatural" was how much Mary's death broke him. Had John been able to cope, greive and move on after her death in a healthier fashion, Dean, Sam and the entire show would be drastically different.

Anyway, I hope that my portrayal of John worked, that I was able to make him sympathetic without justifying or excusing his actions because it was so friggin' hard writing from the POV of an abusive parent (though I think the emotional abuse was more damaging than anything even though it was the physical that tore John up the most in this story - I don't think John in the show ever realized how much his actions affected Sam and especially Dean).

I may continue the story where it left off but switch POV's because the Flagstaff incident in "Dark Side of the Moon" facinated me and it's a story I'd love to explore from all three points of view but for now this is complete. I like it where it stands.

Thanks everyone for reading, now please let me know what you think, good or bad. My muse is a review junkie and she needs her fix!