I do not own Supernatural or Star Trek 2009.
Kind of a direct sequel to Shooting the Stars.
"Ugh, I do not want to be here," Captain Dean Winchester grumbled.
His brother shrugged the strap of his duffle bag higher on his shoulder. "Neither of us wants to be here. But Rufus called us and we owe him from way back. He said someone had to save Dad from himself."
They stood in front of the gray farmhouse John Winchester had bought right before he abandoned a three year old Sammy and a seven year old Dean to Starfleet nannies.
It had looked a little run down then.
Now, paint was peeling. Windows were dirty, century-old shingles hanging askew. Weeds choked the yard and the fence was dilapidated at best. "Shit, why the hell did he want to come back to Lawrence?" Dean continued to bitch, booting the gate open irritably.
Sam ignored his brother, examining the house like it was one of his specimens.
Two weeks ago, they had gotten a priority message from Earth. Rufus had gone over to the Winchester house one morning and found John Winchester having a heart attack on the floor of his grimy kitchen.
John was in the hospital for five days and apparently had to make serious lifestyle changes if he wanted to continue existing on the mortal plane. When the Impala docked for a minor re-supply and shore leave, Ellen had kicked the brothers off the ship and ordered them to go make things right before they didn't have the chance.
Dean thought Ellen a hypocrite. She couldn't stand John Winchester, not after what happened on Beta 3-X.
Sam secretly agreed with Dean but also thought she had a point regarding their father.
So he dragged his brother kicking and screaming the whole way from San Francisco to Lawrence, Kansas where people still drove diesel tractors and life was incredibly dull.
Dean wanted to visit the sheriff's office. Sam didn't think that a good idea given that when they had left for Starfleet nearly a decade ago, the sheriff chased them out of town just to make sure they didn't sneak back in to say "Surprise! Fooled ya!"
Right now, Sam was reconsidering that visit.
Banging on the door, Dean glared through the screen as if it had mortally offended him.
A slow shuffle caught both of their attention and Dean swallowed hard.
When he left two little boys in the front yard, John Winchester had been a strapping, decorated Starfleet security officer, bigger than life and strong as an ox, handsome with dark hair and intense eyes.
Now he was slumped in on himself, slightly overweight and displaying all the florid symptoms of a chronic over-imbiber. Dull eyes stared at Dean without recognition.
"Who the hell are you and what do you want?" John demanded through the screen, hand trembling on the doorjamb, liquor on his breath.
Steeling himself, Dean took a deep breath. "Dad, it's Dean."
John blinked blearily and squinted. "Dean?"
"Yeah Dad, the son you abandoned?" Dean growled heatedly.
There was a long silence during which Dean reflected he could have been rock climbing at this very moment with Jim Kirk, who was great company. Certainly better than his drunk bastard of a father.
John creakily straightened to his full height, finally looking taller than Dean. "Dean Winchester?"
"That's what I said."
Dean happily complied, leaving Sam standing on the porch.
Closing his eyes and praying for patience, Sam turned to follow. "Sammy?" John whispered, clearly not expecting to be overheard.
Sam did hear though, and caught a lifetime's heartbreak in one name. He realized why John had ordered Dean off the property. John Winchester was hurting and ashamed, incredibly ashamed.
"Yeah Dad," Sam hitched up the duffel again and opened the door.
People said Dean was the stubborn one. Dean could and did tell others that really it was Sam who could be infuriatingly implacable. Dean shouted and ranted and spouted like a noisy firecracker. In comparison, Sam calmly rolled over any and all objections, staying true to a predetermined course.
In this case, Sam wanted to get into the house and talk to his father.
So he did.
"I didn't ask you in," John tried to sputter.
Then he got a really good look up at his younger son.
Sam was a little amused. People always commented on his size but it had to be a huge smack in the face for the man who had left a three year old behind. "Dad, I don't think you could stop me if you tried. I want to talk to you."
"You aren't gonna follow your brother?"
Sam shrugged. Dean would calm down and come back if only to 'rescue' his brother from the evil clutches of Sam's acute conscience. "Dean's a starship captain, Dad. If he gets into trouble he can't handle in Lawrence, I'll eat both my boots."
"A captain?" John muttered. Sam grinned.
"Oh yeah. Every time he pulls off the impossible, the Admiralty doesn't know whether to commend him or lock him up."
He could see the need to know more in his father's eyes but Sam wasn't feeling that charitable just yet. John would have to ask. In the meantime, Sam took a look around the dingy living room.
A saggy couch, take-out cartons, a cracked view-screen, buzzing flies and a very nasty carpet paired with faded wallpaper to paint a sad picture. This wasn't a home, probably hadn't been since the boys left. Dean hadn't been able to fix the place up but he'd kept it clean and it had been all their own.
"And you?" John finally asked.
"I'm his first officer as well as chief science officer aboard the USS Impala."
"Miranda-class. The Impala's a good ship."
"She is," Sam agreed easily.
The longer his younger son stayed, the more desperate and fidgety John became. "Dad, we came because Rufus said you were in the hospital."
John stiffened. "Damn old biddy," he growled, sounding so much like Dean that it hurt.
That was what drove Sam to put down his duffel and clean the house, totally ignoring his protesting father.
He could see Dean's thinking process in his father – John Winchester felt passionately, deeply. Sam imagined his mother's death was still an oozing wound even twenty three years later, compounded by guilt over leaving his young sons to chase a ghost, searching for an escape from the incredible pain and only knowing how to confront it head on.
It was what Dean might have done had Sammy not demanded his brother's attention.
So Sam did what he had done with Dean on multiple occasions. He ignored the complaining person behind him and did exactly what Sam wanted because Sam usually had a good idea of what that person needed, not what they wanted.
It took him all afternoon. At some point, John Winchester ignored his youngest son, sitting out on the porch. He tried to suck back another beer but Sam was accustomed to keeping Dean out of forbidden substances when Ellen imposed restrictions. John would have to be sneakier than that.
The whole time he cleaned, Sam tried to sort through his own anger. John Winchester left his children behind, assuming Starfleet would pick up the slack. It hurt, it physically hurt that John couldn't at least come home on shore leave. He was a Starfleet officer. Sam knew how frequently they returned to Earth. Bones from the Enterprise and Ellen managed to see their kids on a regular basis and they had more duties than a security officer.
For all his smarts and intelligence, Sam couldn't figure out what he and Dean had been missing. What was wrong with them? Why didn't John Winchester love his sons?
That question caused Sam to irritably chuck a soapy sponge at the bathtub. The reflex response to such hurt was rejection. Who needed the man? The brothers had each other.
But John Winchester needed someone. That much was clear. Sam may not feel much more than cursory affection for the man, but he didn't like seeing anyone throw their life away.
And John Winchester's life was spiraling down the drain in a sea of alcohol.
So Sam finished with the bathroom and started the laundry, feeling like a glorified maid.
He was hanging out the sheets when Dean came back.
"Sammy, you'll make someone a wonderful wife one day. I'm so proud," his brother smirked. Sam stuck his head under the clothesline and scowled at Dean. "Seriously Sam, what are you doing here?"
Sam had been thinking about it all afternoon.
He opened his mouth.
Then closed it.
Dean laughed sadly and picked up the laundry basket. "All right then." Sam was always too willing to help another individual, even one who had hurt him.
They hiked back to the house. John was still sitting on the porch, flipping through the little PADD Sam had deliberately left poking out of the duffel. It had vids of the Impala's crew – Sam arguing theoretical physics with Ash at the top of their lungs while Castiel ignored them, earplugs firmly in place, Dean trying to teach Cas pick up lines (and failing), an inexorable Ellen hunting down blood-stained Dean, Dean smacking Sam when his little brother said something too geeky for comprehension.
Dean listened to the last exchange (Bobby and Dean bitching about how Starfleet refits weren't nearly what they used to be. Sam with the recording tricorder pointed out they were only in dock to pick up a transporter component. He was summarily ignored) and parked himself on the porch step.
"You're a relaxed captain," John remarked.
Dean bristled and Sam rolled his eyes at his brother. "He is," Sam replied. "It works for us though."
"Sounds like a good crew."
"The best," Dean stated immediately.
They left shortly after that.
The next morning, Sam was rousted rudely out of bed by his brother. "Come on, we've got work to do," Dean grumbled. It was barely six am.
Dean cut the lawn. Sam dug out a sander and hovercraft to strip paint from the house. Dean fixed the fence. Sam went down to the hardware store, rented a paint gun and the house gleamed in a new coat of snow white.
John didn't appear and he sure as hell didn't offer them lunch.
Rufus dropped by around one. The older man had been on Starfleet disability since Sam was two. He hadn't seen the Winchester boys since they left Lawrence with a bang.
They reconnected and decided they still liked the straightforward, loyal friend.
"Didn't recognize the old place," Rufus complimented as he limped around the front lawn. "Good job, boys. Imagine Winchester hasn't shown his face." Dean watched with curiosity as Rufus stumped into the house. There was bellowing, crashing and a bone-jarring thump.
Sam stuck his head down from the roof, where he was tacking down the loose shingles. "What's going on?"
Dean sat back on the bumper of the rusty lawnmower to wait. "Hell if I know. But I figure the comedy routine will come out here sooner or later."
He was right. John Winchester was booted rudely out the front door. Rufus might have a ruined left leg, but he was still a Starfleet commander at heart. Sulking and aware he was sulking, John sat in the porch swing and watched the boys work.
Rufus planted himself beside his friend. "They're good boys, John. Mary's dead, has been for years. Look at what's in front of you," he said callously. "Do you even know who they are? What they've done? They're heroes already. Sam's brilliant. Dean's one hell of a captain. Just after the Narada, Dean was forced into command of his ship. Sam came up with a cure that saved an entire planet. Six months ago, they were on a mission with the Enterprise. Rescued six and fifteen hundred lives last count, I hear. They just got shore leave after making a record-breaking run to get new dilithium crystals to the Enterprise so the flagship could beat the shit out of the Romulans. All you had to do was watch the news."
"Damn it, John. Your second chance is here, take it, you bastard. I'd be proud to call those boys my own."
"Don't deserve to," John muttered.
"Damn straight you don't. You didn't raise 'em. They're who they are in spite of you. But they're still yours."
John watched Dean laugh hysterically at Sam, who had just spilled forest green trim paint all in and over his boots.
"Don't look like Starfleet officers," he remarked and felt a small spark of life for the first time in years as Sam slung paint at his brother and splattered it all down Dean's back. The hurt was still there, a yawning cavern where his family used to be. But the living proof that some of that family still remained eased the stabbing ache.
A communicator chirped and Dean held up a hand. "Truce?"
Sam lowered the soapy sponge he was going to use to 'clean' his brother (by 'clean' he meant to mash the thing all up Dean's smirking nose).
"Winchester," Dean barked. "What? Ash, slow down dude. You're what? Cas what?"
Sam dropped the sponge into the bucket and stood at his brother's shoulder, listening carefully – a captain and his first officer. The sight struck home to John that his sons did dangerous work and they were good at it, he could tell. Security knew good commanders when they saw them. It used to be John's job and that experience told him that his sons were the type of leaders men would follow into hell.
Dean rolled his eyes. "Ash, you'll be fine. Castiel will live. Yes, you do have to go see Ellen. Sooner rather than later. Of course, you can always go visit Bones instead if you're feeling brave."
There was a miserable whimper from the communicator and Dean laughed before snapping the little unit shut. "Castiel broke an arm following Ash on a stupid stunt," he explained to a curious Rufus. "If they go see Ellen, they'll never hear the end of it. If they go to a public hospital, her feelings will be hurt. The other option is Dr. McCoy, CMO of the Enterprise, but Bones is…Sammy, how would you describe Bones?"
"Searing," Sam shuddered. "Man's got a tongue like a salted rasp and he applies it liberally to idiots. Ash'll have a hard time convincing Castiel to join him on the next mad adventure."
"Sounds like a good CMO," John volunteered and Dean barked a laugh.
"Oh yeah. He's got to have an attitude like that to keep Jim Kirk in line. Kirk gets into more trouble than I do and he's got a Vulcan first officer as back up. I don't know how he does it."
Sam muttered something darkly.
"What was that, Sammy?"
"I know how he does it," Sam grumbled. "He's just like you. The two of you always attract the worst possible scenario and then you manage to make it worse. Spock and I are going to have grey hair by the time we're thirty. Remember the Tamir?"
Dean grinned widely. "Ah, good times."
Seeing that happy expression, John Winchester decided he did want to know his sons. He wanted to try.
The boys stayed for another three days after it became obvious John was trying. Sam promised to send him updates from the Impala. Dean went through the entire house and sniffed out all the alcohol. They fixed his hover-car.
In one of the most awkward, stilted conversations ever, John Winchester apologized to his sons. It was hard – Dean was still angry and Sam aloof. John thought he could understand. They were afraid of being hurt and honestly John didn't trust himself yet.
But something began during that week off.
When the Impala was deep in trackless space, sub-space packages of the boys' life drifted back to John at home. They were obviously put together by Sam with care and always once a week. Not usually on a regular schedule, but definitely once a week and Sam always included a recording in which he said hi. Dean always had something to say, even if it was just a hello you jackass, hope you're not plastered but I'm not holding my breath.
Sometimes Sam looked exhausted, others he was distracted, sometimes he was sitting odd with sore ribs. John always sent a written response back and he kept every single transmission, playing them when the urge to drink was uncontrollable.
A slow relationship was growing. John began living again – cleaned the house, went grocery shopping, started repairing antique cars for a few acquaintances.
He lived for the snippets of his boys' lives.
Then one week the package didn't come.
John experienced true panic for the first time since leaving Starfleet. He called Rufus, who still had contacts in Starfleet Command. Rufus found out that Starfleet wasn't talking.
John Winchester's boys were missing in action and no one would tell John what was going on.
He raised holy hell until Admiral Christopher Pike personally called him. John could respect Pike, especially when the man calmly explained that the Impala had simply missed a deadline and was assigned to a nebula cloud, which interfered with communications and occasionally impulse engines. The Enterprise had been assigned to bring the Impala back, Pike said. As soon as Pike knew something, John would know it too.
John hung up a few minutes after that and sat staring at the empty view screen, trying to decide if he was going to puke or if he wanted to chug an entire bottle of whisky.
The screen rang – an incoming call from an unknown number. A ship's number, but not the Impala.
John picked up.
A startlingly blue-eyed young man about Dean's age was on the other end. "John Winchester? I'm Captain Jim Kirk. I just wanted you to know that Dean and Sam are close friends of mine and I will absolutely find them and bring them home."
John was going to scoff and blow him off when Kirk leaned forward, those bright eyes boring into him. "Sir, I swear to you that I will find your sons."
"You're the Enterprise captain. The trouble-magnet, the one who doesn't know when to give up," John realized, connecting Dean's friend Jim with Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise.
Kirk nodded with a small grin. "Yeah, that sounds like me."
"Bring them home please," and John didn't care that it was almost a broken plea.
Four days later, the screen rang. It was the Enterprise. John dove for the controls.
It flickered on with the split-second delay of communications spanning the galaxy.
A bruised, battered and exhausted Dean sheepishly waved. "Hey Dad," he rasped hoarsely and John tried to stay calm. "Sam's fine, just passed out in sick bay. Bones and Ellen are keeping an eye on him. Can't tell you what happened until Starfleet declassifies it but it's safe to say we owe Jim."
"Damn it Dean," John choked. "Don't scare me like that."
Dean stiffened and John realized what he had just said.
All he could do was wait and see what Dean's reaction was.
Dean relaxed, shrugged and laughed sheepishly. "Sorry Dad," he apologized and in it was a warmth John hadn't heard since a little spitfire demanded his father get out and stay out if he was going to be an ass.
John was going to say more but Dean's eyes were sliding shut. "Get me Kirk if he's free," John said instead and Dean bobbed his head wearily.
"Hey!" Kirk nudged the screen over. "I've been waiting to talk to you." Kirk was in marginally better shape than Dean – less tired, still beat up. "We'll have them back to you in four days, warp 5. Would go faster, but we're towing some idiot's tinker ship with fried engines."
"Hey! Do not abuse my girl!" Dean mumbled and Kirk tipped the screen so John could see Dean mostly passed out on the couch of some ready room.
Kirk brought the screen back up and nodded. "Gotta run. I've got more people to see to and Dean needs to sleep."
"Captain Kirk," John blurted. Kirk paused. "Thank you."
Kirk grinned. "No problem. My pleasure."
They were home five days later, having spent one day debriefing. They didn't even ask if they could stay, just paid the hover-car driver and headed up the front walk still in uniform.
John had a bedroom ready, the house ship shape.
Sam hobbled in on a walking cast, left wrist splinted as Dean tried (and failed) not to hover. John shooed off the mother hen, who collapsed on the living room couch this time. "Internal injuries," Sam murmured. "Ellen patched him up but he's still regaining all his energy. Usually we stay in a hotel, we're never Earth-side long enough to need a house or apartment, but we needed a little more help this time." Sam glanced at the hip-high cast.
And with that simple explanation, John realized his boys were home.
Still had a long way to go before everything was all right, but they were home.
Next time…how much trouble can one chief of security be? And the idiot's guide for how to break out of a Romulan prison planet, as written by Commander Sam Winchester, with significant assistance from one USS Enterprise.