John growled as the alarm clock went off. A few hours of sleep after lengthy hunt was not enough time to recover; he was barely fit for the company of his boys, and certainly wasn't coherent enough to be out in public. But he couldn't risk raising further suspicions of the school's administrators so he reluctantly rolled over and sat up. He was so not ready for this parent-teacher conference.

Groaning at the pounding in his head that was a combination of caffeine withdrawal and lack of sleep, John pulled his legs out from under the blankets and pushed himself to a seated position on the side of the bed. Wearily he ran a hand down his face.

The smell of coffee assaulted his senses and he blinked at Dean hovering in the bedroom doorway. The kid had finely honed radar when it came to John's sleep cycles and he made a damn good cup of coffee.

John was pretty sure he must've looked at Dean like he was the second coming because Dean grinned as he stepped into the room. "I made you some coffee, Dad."

John cradled the mug in his hands and deeply breathed in the aromatic steam. "Thanks, kiddo." He took a tentative sip and murmured his appreciation. He looked up to catch Dean's eye. "Good one."

Dean lit up again and ghosted away, presumably to monitor Sammy. John ran a hand down his face again. If he wanted to look like something other than a crazed mountain main or some sort of derelict that Dean hired to stand in as his father he needed to do something about his appearance.

An exceedingly hot shower did much to improve not only John's appearance, but his temperament as well. Sam arrived with a second mug of coffee just as John was about to do something about his beard. Sam didn't hesitate to push down the lid of the toilet and perch to watch John shave. It made John smile; the kid didn't have much of a sense of privacy.

"Whaddya think, Sammy? Trim or shave?"

Sam jumped up, crowded in close to the sink and raised his hands. John obligingly lowered his face into them and smiled again; he had no idea how it started, but this was a Sam thing. He loved the feeling of those little hands ghosting over his face. Sam seriously examined the stubble on John's face and then gave his evaluation.

"You should shave, Daddy. I bet Dean's teacher would like a clean face."

John nodded, it was easy enough to go with Sam's recommendation since shaving was his plan all along, and Sam always voted for a shave over a trim. John pretended to take the advice into consideration as he looked back toward the mirror. He pulled thoughtfully on his chin, making the hair beneath his hands rasp with each movement.

"But if I shave, I can't do this…"

With one swift move John scooped Sam up and held him against his chest. He blew a raspberry on Sam's neck and tickled him with his patchy beard. Sam shrieked and giggled fruitlessly trying to evade the attack. John laughed at the flailing, slippery six year old in his grasp and it turned his whole day around. Unsurprisingly, the commotion got Dean's attention and he checked in.

John put Sam down and he wobbled back to the toilet. His eyes were bright with merriment at the old, familiar game. John turned slightly to include Dean in the conversation. "Sam thinks your teacher will like a clean face."

Dean shrugged. "She's pretty cool. I think as long as you don't smell it'll be okay."

John barked a laugh. "Okay. Clean face and not smelly. I think I can do that."

John organized his shaving equipment around the edges of the sink. Sam left the bathroom door open when he delivered his cup of coffee and the cooler air from the bedroom cleared out the humidity making the mirror usable for the task. John squirted a healthy amount of shaving cream into his hand and quickly lathered up his face. A glance in the mirror showed John that Dean had decided to hang out at watch him shave too.

"Hey Dean…C'mere." John indicated with a look that Dean should join him at the sink.

Dean was surprised and curious and immediately stepped forward. John peered at Dean's reflection in the mirror. He took a good long look. When John's examination lasted a little too long, Dean began to peer at his reflection as well looking for whatever it was that caught his father's attention. Dean was so focused on trying to find the problem that he didn't see the glimmer of amusement in John's eyes.

"Whaddya think, Sammy? Trim or shave?" John repeated his ritual question, but Sam was just as confused as Dean was. He had hauled himself over to the sink with his feet on the toilet but his belly on the lip of the sink trying to get a glimpse of whatever it was that John and Dean were looking at in the mirror.

John moved slightly to stand behind Dean. Both of his hands were still full of shaving cream after applying it to his own face. He placed his hands on either side of Dean's face and covered it from cheek to chin with shaving cream. Dean stepped back in surprise, but that only put him further in John's grasp. John made quick work of redistributing the shaving cream, making sure to coat Dean's upper lip, even as Dean began to try and wiggle away with an exasperated "Da-ad!" But there was no mistaking the delight in Dean's expression which was exactly what John was going for.

Sam watched the whole encounter with rapt amazement. John reached around Dean and grasped Sam's little face in his hands; the remaining shaving cream was transferred to his cheeks. He yelped in reaction and that made Dean chuckle.

"Okay boys, Sammy says it's time for a shave so let's get to it."

Sam had no vantage point of the mirror from his position on the toilet so John waved him around to his other side. Even standing on the lip of the tub didn't give Sam a good view, so John hoisted him up so he could kneel on the sink tucked into John's left side. John popped the blades out of two razors and handed them to Sam and Dean. He stopped the sink up and filled it with warm water.

John swished his razor around in the water and then raised it to his right cheek. The fact that the boys mimicked his movements exactly would've made him laugh out loud if their faces weren't so dead serious.

"Alright now, you want to keep the razor steady and slow…"

John shaved away days worth of stubble while the boys scraped their smooth faces clean of shaving cream. A warmth filled John's chest as the small bathroom was filled with the sounds and smells of something that might seem so mundane but John recognized as a rare treasure.

The "shaving" was completed with relatively little fuss and the boys were impressed with their new skills. Since they were already involved they decided to help John out on the "not smelly" part of his assignment – second lesson learned, when it comes to cologne, less is more.