John felt like dog crap. Having the muzzle of Bobby's shotgun stuck in his face wasn't helping.
After leaving the motel, he'd gone straight to the nearest bar and drunk himself into near insensibility. He'd managed to get back to the motel without killing himself, but had gotten a room of his own, not wanting to face his sons until he'd sobered up.
When he'd found all three of them gone in late morning, it had been a rude shock. Neither of the boys had answered their phones and Bobby hadn't picked up on his either.
Of course, it hadn't been hard to figure out where they'd gone to.
Now, head aching and temper raw, John said brusquely, "I've been calling all day. Why didn't you answer?"
"Didn't feel like talking to you," Bobby said baldly.
John flushed. "You didn't think I needed to know where my boys are?"
"I wasn't thinking about you at all, jackass. I was more worried about your sons."
John rubbed a tired hand over his stubbled face. "I need to see them, Bobby."
Bobby shrugged, his eyes not unsympathetic. "They might not want to see you."
"Damn it, I'm their father!"
"Too bad you didn't remember that before you told Sam it's his fault that demon killed Mary."
John flinched and looked down at the ground. "I'm more sorry for that than I can say," he finally managed. "I'd give anything - please, Bobby. I need to make this right."
Bobby studied him, seeing the guilt and humiliation eating at the man below the anger. Sighing, he lowered his shotgun.
Sam watched as his father's truck pulled up in front of the house. When his father got out of the truck, Bobby came outside and the two spoke for couple of minutes. Then Bobby stalked back into the house, followed closely by John.
Almost to the house, John stopped and looked up at the second story window. His eyes met Sam's and they stared at each other for a long minute. Then John continued on into the house.
Sam sighed. All it took was one look and he felt like a little kid again. A helpless little kid.
The smells of breakfast were wafting up the stairs and into their room. It made him feel a little nauseous.
He heard Dean stirring in bed behind him and turned to see his brother sitting groggily up.
"Was that Dad's truck?" Dean asked.
"Yeah." Sam tried to smile. "Guess Bobby didn't mean it about the rock salt after all."
"It'll be okay." Dean looked at Sam guardedly. "You going down?"
Sam shook his head. "Not yet. In a while. Why don't you go down, get some breakfast. Smells like it's about done."
Dean sniffed the air and sighed blissfully. "Damn, if Bobby were a woman and thirty years younger, I'd marry him."
He got out of bed and pulled on his jeans and a t-shirt. At the door, he paused and looked back at Sam, who was still sitting in the chair by the window.
"You look like crap. Did you sleep at all?"
"When are you coming down?"
"In a while." He smiled, trying to take that worried look out of his brother's eyes.. "You better get down there, Dean, before Dad eats all the bacon."
"Dad?" As Dean entered the room, he sighed inwardly. Great. John was hung-over. That didn't bode well for any encounter with Sam. His patience would be at a minimum. And since Sam didn't seem to be pulling any punches these days, it was likely to be a loud encounter.
"Son," John said stiffly. "Where's your brother?"
John started for the study door and Dean stepped in front of him.
"What exactly do you think I'm going to do to him?" John snapped, his headache pushing his resolution to step softly right out the window.
"Gee, I don't know, Dad," Dean said coolly. "Maybe tell him that he killed Mom?"
"I never said that, Dean." John said defensively, passing a shaking hand through his hair.
"Next best thing." Dean went to the fridge and got a glass of juice for his father. "Drink that, before you pass out. Jesus, you're not any better than Sammy at taking care of yourself."
Making a face, John drank the juice. "Is he okay?"
"No, he's not okay, Dad." Dean said sharply. "He's completely fucked up."
John sighed. "I'll make it up to him, Dean, I promise. Once we're back on the road, things will get back to normal." He sat down heavily at the kitchen table.
"What, are you kidding? We're not going with you. Not now. We're staying with Bobby for a few days."
"No, you're not. Sam can't stay here. Not without me. And I'm pretty sure Bobby doesn't want me here."
"Got that right," Bobby said easily. "But the boys, they're welcome. They can stay as long as they want to."
"No," John said flatly. "Sam has to stay with me."
The other two men frowned at him, sensing something beyond the simple need to control his youngest son.
"What the hell is going on, Dad?" Dean asked suspiciously. "You're acting pretty weird, even for you."
John stared at his hands. "Can't you just trust me?" he asked pleadingly. "Trust me to know what's right for Sam?"
"I might. I'm stupid that way," Dean said, "but Sam won't. You hurt him. Bad."
"Damn it." John said angrily. "This is more important than your brother's hurt feelings!"
"Hurt feelings!" Dean said incredulously. "Are you fucking kidding me?"
"John, you jackass, are you gonna make me get my shotgun out again?" Bobby looked grim.
"No, Bobby, wait, there's something " - John's need to protect his sons warred with his instinct to keep quiet. "There's something you two don't know."
"Yeah, no shit," Dean sarcastically. "That's nothing new. But if you want to get anywhere near Sam, you're gonna have to come out with whatever the hell is going on!"
John slowly reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his hunting journal. At least, Dean thought at first that it was his hunting journal. At second glance he saw that it was a different book. Not as old and worn out.
"What I said to Sam – I never should've said his mother's death was his fault. That wasn't true." He tapped the book. "But when I said that the demon was there for him – that was the truth."
Dean stiffened but didn't speak, just waited for his father to continue.
John look at them seriously. "What I found out – Sam can never know this."
"I can't promise that, Dad," Dean protested.
"I'm not worried about that, son. When you hear what I have to say, you won't want him to know either," John said sorrowfully.
Dean paled. "What is it, Dad?
"The night your mother died, the demon - he fed your brother his blood."
Dean blanched and Bobby cursed.
"Why the hell did he do that?" Dean's voice trembled.
John shook his head. "I don't know all of it," he said wearily. "But I know Sam's not the only one. I found four other children whose mothers were killed on the night of their child's six month anniversary. Demon sign was recorded on that night in the immediate area. I also found two cases where the child died in the fire along with the mother, and one where the child died but the mother lived."
"Jesus Christ!" Dean whispered. "What the hell is going on?"
There was a very slight pause. "I don't know."
"Dad –" Dean said warningly.
"I don't know, Dean!" John almost shouted. "I – don't - know! I've been working on this for years. I've questioned as many demons as I could get my hands on; none of them knew anything except"- he broke off.
"Don't you stop, Dad!"
"The children," John said reluctantly. "They're all supposed to have psychic powers. So far as I can see, they haven't actually manifested yet, but it's only a matter of time."
Bobby and Dean stared at him in dismay.
"We don't know what the blood means for Sam, Dean," John went on. "That's why I need to keep him with me. I need to keep an eye on him."
"What do you think's going to happen?" Dean demanded.
John shook his head.
"Dad, you're not thinking Sam's going to turn into a demon –"
There was a soft sound at the kitchen door. Dean jumped to his feet in alarm when he saw Sam standing there, his eyes wide with horror.
"Sam," John faltered. "Son, it's not what you think -"
Sam turned and ran for the stairs.
Sam heard Dean burst from the kitchen behind him and he ran faster, ignoring the scream of pain from his ankle, using the banister to help move him up the stairs, trying to hang on to the slim lead he had over his older brother.
"Sam! Wait!" Dean's voice was frantic.
Sam reached the top of the stairs a few feet ahead of Dean. He ran for the bedroom and dove in, slamming the door shut and locking it behind him.
"Sam! Open the damned door!" Dean threw himself against the door. "Sam!"
Sam could hear John and Bobby pounding up the stairs. He looked around the room frantically, ignoring the open window. Only two floors up - too far to jump, not far enough to break his neck.
He saw Dean's duffel on the floor and stumbled over to it, dumping it out on the floor.
There. Dean's knife. The one Dad had given him for his sixteenth birthday. Dean's pride and joy.
Sam slid it out of the scabbard, breathing a sigh of relief at the sight of the thin, razor-sharp edge.
This oughta do it.
When Dean smashed through the bedroom door, he saw Sam sitting on the floor, holding Dean's knife to his throat. He didn't look up when the door burst open.
Dean froze and felt his father and Bobby come to a gasping halt behind him.
"Sam," he whispered. "Please don't."
Sam calmly pressed the knife against his throat and a thin line of blood dripped down onto the floor. "Don't come near me."
"I won't, I promise!" Dean tried to stay calm. "Sam, you don't have to do this."
"Yes, I do," Sam said, staring tranquilly at the crimson blade. "I really do."
"Sam, look at me, please."
Sam closed his eyes. If he looked at Dean, he'd never be able to do this. And he needed to do this. Everything would be okay if he could just do this.
No more hunting. No more fear. No more failure. No more demon blood. No more anything.
"Do you think I'll go to hell?" Sam asked, voice small and child-like. "They say suicides go to hell. If that happens, I won't get to see Mom." He sighed. "Well. I guess that's okay. She's probably mad at me anyway."
"Son," John said, horrified. "You didn't kill your mother. Please, I'm so sorry I said that to you. It's not true, it wasn't your -"
"Don't talk to me," Sam said, voice rising and eyes opening, wide and staring. "Don't you talk to me!"
Bobby put a hand on John's arm. John, with a desperate look at his youngest, took a hesitant step back.
"Sam, please," Dean said desperately. "Please don't."
"I'm sorry, Dean. I have to."
"No!" Dean took a step forward but stopped again as the knife pressed harder against Sam's throat.
I can do this. Sam took a firmer grip on the blade. It'll only hurt for a minute.
"Sam," said Bobby.
Sam didn't look at him.
Sam jerked a little. "Bobby."
Bobby kept his voice calm and steady. "Son, I'm not gonna pretend I understand how you feel. I'm not gonna say everything is gonna be all right, because I don't know what the hell's gonna happen."
"But I do know you and I know your brother." Bobby took a deep breath. "If you kill yourself now, you kill your brother, too."
Dean didn't react at all to that statement; his eyes were intent on his brother.
Sam turned his head slightly toward Bobby.
"He might not do the job himself, but it'll happen. Maybe driving that damned car of his too fast. Or maybe just not watching his own back close enough on a hunt."
Sam started to tremble. He shook his head, the knife moving slightly away from his throat.
"So you need to ask yourself," Bobby said gently, though relentlessly, "even if you're ready to kill yourself – are you ready to kill your brother, too?"
Sam dropped the knife.
Dean lunged forward and grabbed it, flinging it into a corner of the room.
Helpless, hopeless, Sam started to sag to one side. Dean scooted in close to him and put his arms around him, holding him up. "Sam," he whispered softly. "We won't let anything happen to you, I promise."
"Don't make promises you can't keep, Dean!" Sam started to cry, burying his face against his brother. "I'm a monster!"
Dean hugged him even tighter. "You're not a monster, Sam," he whispered heartbrokenly into his brother's dark hair. "Damn it, you're not."
Dean felt more than heard Bobby leave the room. John came to stand beside them, looking down at his sons. After a moment, moving slowly, he lowered himself to the floor beside them and wrapped his arms around them both.
Sam shuddered reflexively.
"You're my son, Sam," John said softly. "I love you. No matter what that bastard demon did to you, that will never change."
Tears spilled out of Dean's eyes and he pressed his face against his father's shoulder.
"I love you," John repeated, willing them to hear the truth in his voice. "I love you both."
Sam relaxed slightly against Dean, his eyes fixed on his father's face.
"It's gonna be okay, boys," John murmured, his voice low and comforting. "I swear to you. I'm gonna make this right."
I am determined, no matter how many daddy issues I have, John is NOT going to be a dick in every fic I write. Yes, he's a psycho hoser in "My Boys", but NOT HERE!
I wanted to get his single-mindedness, his unwavering focus on his target. But I also wanted it to be really clear that John loves his boys, even if he is completely incapable of showing it most of the time.
I just saw 'In My Time of Dying' again. Hadn't seen that ep for a while. I'd forgotten how beautiful that last scene with John and Dean was, when he was telling Dean how much he loved him and how proud he is. Of course, then he goes on to completely fuck it up by telling Dean he has to either save Sam or kill him. But hey, nobody's perfect.
Hope you-all liked it.