Title: Air Freshener and a Laundromat
Series: Ignorance is Bliss verse
Genre: Pre-series AU
Word Count: 1,909
Warnings: underage, wincest, denial(like whoa)!John, John's!PoV, pre-series, established relationship, teen!chesters,
Summary: There was a smell. John was smelling it every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes in the middle of night. It was driving him nuts.
A/N: Third one-shot for my Ignorance is Bliss verse. All in John's PoV and showing another level of denial that, really, is rather impressive.
There was a smell.
A musky, heavy, spicy, somewhat familiar smell and John, for the life of him, couldn't quite figure out where it was coming from. He'd catch a whiff here and there, sometimes in the Impala, sometimes in their motel room, sometimes in a diner after the boys took a trip to the restroom, but it was never quite as prevalent as it was now.
John was smelling it every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes in the middle of night. It was driving him nuts.
Because he remembered what that smell should mean, but he couldn't quite make that knowledge coincide with when and where he was smelling that smell now.
He remembered that the smell meant feeling Mary's creamy skin underneath his hands, hearing her soft gasping moans in his ears, and tasting her lips and breath and sweat on his tongue.
But that didn't explain why the Impala had started to constantly emanate the smell after a long drive across country, or why it had started to follow Sam and Dean nearly everywhere they went.
Maybe he needed to tell Dean to change the Impala's air filter. Since John had bought his truck he hadn't spent much actual time riding in the Impala so maybe it needed some maintenance. Dean was usually so good about taking care of her, but lately he'd been somewhat distracted so John figured he could do it himself.
Sam and Dean had said they were talking a walk in the small little forest behind their motel so John popped the Impala's hood and yanked the filter out. It was clean, nearly spotless and John just frowned down at it and scratched at his head in confusion.
Okay, he thought as he slipped the filter back in place still frowning in puzzlement, so maybe it wasn't the air filter.
The smell didn't go away.
It was a near constant now. And John was starting to put together a pattern of when it got the strongest.
They stopped for a pit stop and the boys came back from the bathroom reeking. They all finished their morning PT and the boys came back from their room after showering, smelling like that smell. Eight hours of driving, two state lines, and at least half of the east coast later and that smell practically wafted off of Sam, Dean, and the Impala.
It had gotten to the point where John had started wrinkling his nose. And he never wrinkled his nose.
He figured out the pattern, he figured out when, where, and what was smelling like that smell that was driving him up a wall, but John couldn't, even if his life depended on it, figure out why it seemed to follow his boys around like a shadow.
Maybe it was the boys. Yeah, it was the boys. They were both young, energetic teenage boys. And teenage boys sweat. That was totally what that smell was. Sweat. Teenage boy sweat. Totally.
Grinning to himself for figuring it out, John strolled into the gas station they'd just stopped at for a fill up and headed straight for the rickety turn stand with those little tree shaped fresheners on display.
Since boys sweat and it was the middle of the summer and the Impala did have a rather hit or miss air conditioner, John figured he could at least save his sons from their own sweaty smell and pick them up an air freshener.
The boys were in the bathroom and John figured he had at least fifteen, maybe twenty minutes before they were done doing whatever it was teenage boys do in the bathroom for that long to pick them out a scent that wouldn't totally offended all of their manly sensibilities.
John ignored the fact that air freshener in general was the epitome of the opposite of manly. Instead he flipped through trees and sniffed through cellophane wrappers till he hit one that sort of resembled the smell of a cedar tree forest with a hint of truck stop mixed in and slapped it down on the counter along with a lighter and a pair of cheap aviator knock offs.
"That'll be eleven seventy-five." The tubby bored looking cashier droned giving him an unimpressed look up and down.
John ignored it and flashed his most charming smile, the one Dean inherited, at her and said, "Oh, and pump number four, please."
He got a sigh and an eye roll for his trouble, but by then Dean and Sam were stumbling out of the bathroom looking a little bit less put together than when they'd stumbled into it and John knew he better give them the little tree now or he'd forget about it and his truck would stink like cedar and trucker for months.
"Oh boys, here." He stopped them just before they hit the door and shoved the tree into Dean's hands with a helpful smile. "I got you this for the Impala so it won't stink quite so bad from ya'll sweating during the drive."
Perplexing enough, John watched in confusion as Sam went three shades of red sputtering unintelligibly and Dean froze like a deer in headlights and blinked at him like he'd been speaking Sanskrit. Just as Sam looked as if he was going to stroke out, Dean elbowed his little brother in the gut and slapped the innocent smile he used for cops, teachers, and authority figures that weren't his father on his face.
"Thanks, Dad." Dean said and John let out a relieved breath that he wasn't going to have to fight with his boys about a little freshener tree. "I'll stick this on the rearview mirror. Sammy can get real sweaty what with the AC on the fritz and all."
Dean spoke deliberately and a little strained. It took another nudge in his brother's ribs to get Sam to stop with the panicked panting and get with the program.
"Uh, yeah." Sam said after he huffed indignantly and nudged Dean back hard. "It can get real hot and I do kinda sweat a lot."
Dean grinned wider and flicked a leering glance at him. "It's that fast metabolism of yours. You always run just a little bit hot."
Sam sputtered again and snagged Dean by the back of his shirts and yanked him toward the door. "Thanks, Dad. We'll see you at the next stop." He called over his shoulder as he dragged his chuckling brother away toward the Impala.
John watched his boys go with an exasperated and amused shake of his head. Dean always did get a rather large kick out of poking at and teasing his little brother. It was comforting to know that even though his boys were growing up some things never changed.
With a satisfied smile on his face and bit of a proud swell to his chest for his cleverness, John strode toward his truck and got back on the road.
Unfortunately, despite John's truly brilliant idea, the smell didn't exactly go away. It dissipated somewhat, but it didn't cease to exist like John secretly so badly wanted.
Now the boys just got out of the Impala smelling of cedar, truck stop, and musk. The last one being a problem for John's suddenly rather sensitive scenting sensibilities. And of course the little tree didn't really help with every other time John noticed his boys smelling like a couple horses rode hard and put up wet. Like when they came in from their morning PT, or from picking up dinner.
The final straw was when John returned to his boys from a solo hunt and stepped into their motel room only to realize that the entire room reeked. The air was hot and humid; every breath John took felt heavy, that smell just wrapping him up to choke him with its thickness. It permeated nearly everything in the room. His freaking reference books smelled like a dog in heat.
Of course the boys didn't notice anything wrong, but for John's own sanity he decided to take some drastic measures.
Before the boys could even get out their slightly distracted "welcome backs" John ordered them to gather up everything, clothes, sheets, blankets, and towels and to march down to the laundromat two blocks over.
John threw the windows open not caring about theft just as long as the room aired out and followed his boys out of the room with his own duffle full of laundry. Not all of it was actually theirs, but John knew he wasn't going to be able to sleep in that room if the smell of his sheets was going to make him blush like a virgin on her wedding night.
The fluorescent lights flickered annoyingly and the waiting chairs were plastic and cracked and horribly uncomfortably, but the machines worked and it was relatively empty so they could have most of the place to themselves. John left his boys organizing the laundry and ran across the street to the small grocery store like his butt was on fire.
Skidding to a stop in the detergent isle John spent all of five minutes picking out the smelliest, most scented detergent and fabric softener he could get hands on with a promise, in blindingly bright cloying print, of LONG LASTING FRESHNESS before he practically threw money at the cashier and high tailed it back to the laundromat.
Two hours later the smell was dissipating somewhat and John could finally take a breath without feeling like he was going to pass out. Dean and Sam kept sending him worried suspicious looks and John tactfully did not to roll his eyes when Dean whispered Christo under his breath.
Finally there was no more entertainment to be had from watching clothes spin in soapy water and Sam was started to get a bit antsy.
Sighing tiredly, John went back to folding socks and called over to his boys, "Dean, why don't you take your brother and go down to the arcade for a bit. We've got some extra quarters."
Dean and Sam's eyes nearly bugged out of their heads and John figured it was for good reason seeing as how he almost never allowed money to be spent on frivolous entertainment. But like the smart kids that he'd raised, they chose not to look this particularly suspect gift horse in the mouth.
"Sure thing, Dad." Dean said as he snagged the extra quarters and started ushering his little brother toward the door. "We'll be back in an hour to help switch the next load."
John just waved them off and started separating more lights from darks.
When an hour was up and his boys stumbled back into the laundromat with still heavily jangling pockets, flushed faces, and a certain distinctive smell floating on their heels, John came to the conclusion that he would just have to buy one of those little trees and hang it around his neck like a talisman.
They'd have to start making laundromat trips every other week instead of once a month, too, he realized lamenting the loss to his wallet, but he would just have to get used to it. Because as he watched his boys nudge and tease and touch and bicker at the other end of the row of chairs he figured that boys will be boys and all boys smelled.
You just didn't always want to look too closely at why they smelled.