Dean heard a quiet fumbling at the door. He reached under his pillow, feeling for his .45.

"Dean!" A whisper from outside the door. "Dean, open the door!"

Dean left the gun and sped to the door. Taking a quick peek out the window to make sure his dad was alone, he opened the door and John lurched in, arm held tight against his torso, blood soaking through his shirt sleeve and dripping to the floor.

Glancing outside at the Impala, parked more or less evenly, Dean closed the door and bolted it. "Dad?"

"It's okay, Dean. Don't think it's too bad," John said, his voice a tired croak. "Hurts like a bitch, though."

Dean glanced apprehensively over at his still-sleeping baby brother. "Watch it, Dad! You know how Sammy copies everything you do!"

John smiled wryly, thinking of the last time his youngest had parroted his father; in front of a priest, no less. "Sorry, son."

Knowing just what his father was thinking of – man, that old guy had looked funny - Dean grinned back, then put a careful arm around his father's waist and helped him to the bed.

Once there, John settled back with a muffled groan of relief. He frowned when Dean got the scissors from the dresser and started to cut away his shirt. "Dean, it can wait 'til morning."

"No, Dad." Dean's tone was firm. "It could get infected."

"But – " John stopped, knowing that stopping Dean when he had that look in his eyes was strictly a no-go. Nodding reluctantly, he set his teeth and let Dean finish cutting his shirt away.

A couple of nasty claw marks, across the front of the shoulder to just below the elbow. Deep and bloody, but nothing he couldn't handle. "It's not too bad, Dad," Dean said with relief.

A small voice came from the other bed. "Dean?"

Rats. "It's okay, kid," Dean said reassuringly. "Go back to sleep."

Sammy said nothing more, but Dean could feel the weight of his young brother's eyes.

"Lie still, Dad. I'll be right back." He rested his hand on his father's shoulder for a moment, then ran to the bathroom and got his supplies together - a basin of warm water, some rags, needle and thread, a nearly empty bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a tube of antibiotic cream.

When he got back to his dad, Sam was curled up against John's uninjured side.

"Sammy, you should go back to bed -" Dean started.

"Please, Dean," Sam whispered pleadingly, small hands stroking his father's unshaven face.

Dean sighed and looked at his father. Up to you, Dad.

John gave his youngest a tired smile. "It's okay, Dean. He can keep me company while you patch me up. Right, Sammy?"

Sam nodded eagerly.

Listening as his brother told their father - in exhaustive detail - about their day, Dean cleaned his father's wounds quickly and gently, then carefully poured the last of the hydrogen peroxide over them.

Okay. Now for the fun part. Mouth set, Dean threaded the needle, comforted by the fact that his hands weren't shaking. He looked at his father. "Ready?"

John's eyes were dark with pain. "Dean . . . "

"It's okay, Daddy," Sam whispered reassuringly. "Dean's really good at stitches."

Resigned to the inevitable, John curled his arm around his youngest and looked up at Dean. "Okay, son," he said wearily. "You go ahead. Sammy will help me hold still."

Dean nodded, took a deep, calming breath and, needle in hand, bent over his father and went to work.

John didn't flinch. Eyes full of pride, he watched as his oldest boy steadily, expertly, sewed up his father's wounds.


Fifty-four stitches.

It took a while.

Stitches done, Dean carefully daubed them with antibiotic cream and then bandaged them, taping them securely so they wouldn't slip.

The need for sleep winning out over pain, John had fallen asleep. Sam was asleep as well, clinging to John limpet tight. Dean yawned and ghosted a soft kiss over them both.

Then he cleaned everything up, not forgetting the blood on the floor inside the door and making a mental note to check outside tomorrow.

Okay. Good.


Body humming with fatigue, Dean crawled up onto the bed. Spooning in behind Sammy, he pulled a blanket over the three of them. There wasn't much room and he doubted he'd get much sleep. But . . .

He closed his eyes and snuggled in contentedly. There was no place else on Earth he'd rather be.