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Characters: John and Dean Winchester
Rating: G, gen
Length: 450 words
Warnings/Spoilers: Canonical character death, spoilers for the pilot only
A/N: A gift for write_light's birthday. Probably nothing like you were hoping for, from this prompt, but hopefully it's better than a pair of stripey socks.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW.
Summary: It's been 137 nights since Mary died.

A baby was crying.

John sat on the bed, slowly sipping the three fingers of whiskey it took for him to get to sleep without seeing Mary burn, over and over. 137 nights now.

Dean tugged on his pants leg. “Sammy’s crying.”

John nodded absently, paging through his journal. Ifreet, poltergeists, demons, witches, elementals. All beings that could take human shape and were associated with fire. What was the thing that had killed Mary? How could he find it? How could he kill it?

Was it coming back?

“Daddy, I can’t get in,” Dean shrilled, on the verge of tears. He was standing by the crib, stretching to try and reach in through the bars.

Missouri had sent them to Pastor Jim. The man was meant to be an expert on spirits. He’d offered to put them up for the week. John didn’t approve of hand-outs, but going a week without spending money on gas and motel rooms meant there was more insurance money left over for protective talismans and building up an arsenal that might, just might, protect them from what was out there. The pastor had even produced a crib and pajamas for the boys, saying it wasn’t the first time he’d sheltered a family.

A family. Jesus.

John wandered over to the crib and looked down at Sam, still howling away. Kid was getting big. Maybe he was teething? John put his thumb over the lip of the whiskey bottle and up-ended it to wet the ball of his thumb. He carefully placed the bottle on the ground, reached into Sam’s mouth, and rubbed his thumb along the little guy’s gums.

Sam made a face. His wailing reached ear-shattering decibels.

Awwww hell. What now? John, struck by a sudden memory of home, bent over and brushed a kiss across Sam’s temple, murmuring, “Goodnight, Sammy.”

Sam choked and sniffled his way to silence, staring up at him. Dean was hovering anxiously. When John looked down at him, he rattled the bars of the crib like an inmate at the county lockup.

With a hoarse chuckle, John lifted him up and swung him into the crib. Dean immediately curled around his brother, kissing and whispering to him.

John leaned down, put a hand on Dean’s shoulder, and kissed him on the forehead. “Goodnight, Dean-o,” he said.

Dean was trembling. “I’m not a baby,” the five year-old insisted.

“Yeah, I know,” John agreed softly. He couldn’t give his sons a home, or a mother, or a safe place to just be kids. But this, right now, he could do. John stroked firmly along Dean’s back until both his boys were asleep. Then he took a final swallow of whiskey, checked the salt lines, and went back to his journal.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
write_light
Oct. 6th, 2010 06:13 am (UTC)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHH! That's so wonderful! What a birthday surprise! :D You absolutely nailed the prompt, I have to say. Once we ruled out kinky stuff, it had to go this way.

I love the whiskey - a call-ahead to 6x02? I love the kisses even more, and you got all three in there so naturally. <3

John remains a silent and enigmatic figure, though. He's a powerful presence, but a mystery. I think that may be the Winchester line's legacy, now in Dean.

keerawa
Oct. 6th, 2010 06:55 am (UTC)
*beams* The whiskey was indeed a foreshadowing of 6x02. And, on a side-note - Jesus, Dean does seem to be downing water glasses of the hard stuff without even blinking these days, doesn't he?

John's interesting, because we really only get to know him in canon through the perceptions of Sam and Dean. Their impressions of him are contradictory and unreliable. So it gives us plenty of room to explore in fanfiction.

I'm so glad you enjoyed your present!
vikingprincess
Oct. 6th, 2010 10:26 am (UTC)
Moments like this, I feel for John.
keerawa
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, me too. So terrifying, being suddenly attacked by the unknown. Thank you for the comment, vikingprincess!
serena64
Oct. 6th, 2010 11:20 am (UTC)
Lovely story. Really well written. I liked the idea that they were introduced to Pastor Jim through Missouri, that makes a lot of sense.
keerawa
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, serena! It'd be so hard for new hunters to find their way into the 'network', I thought she might be able to help.
mymuseandi
Oct. 6th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
I feel for John in this fic. At this point in his life i would think that it's very difficult for him to even put one foot in front of the other.

Wee!chesters are so sweet even though they are crying. :)
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
So true, between the crippling grief and the terror of suddenly realizing what was out there, in the dark, looking to hurt your family. Thanks, mymuseandi!
labseraph
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
Break a fangirl's heart, why don't you?

♥ how you portray grimly studying!John and how he dealt with the aftermath of Mary's death.
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
*offers superglue* Thanks for the feedback, labserph!
mizface
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
Oh my, this was wonderful and heartbreaking. John, so obsessed already, And Dean trying to take care of Sam, taking over for John and John letting him, not able to take care of them like he wants to.

The first line just *hurt* - John hearing the baby but not connecting it to his own son, Just a baby crying.

And this line just did me in, though I don't know if I can articulate why.

A family. Jesus.

And I love how it starts with John so very distant, but by the end he's the father they need, even if it's just for a few minutes.

This is a beautiful piece of writing, keerawa. Thank you for sharing.
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for calling out that first line! When I was turning this story over in my head, looking for an entry point, it was that line that started me writing. And A family. Jesus.!!! John certainly can't articulate why that's so over-whelming for him, and I'm tickled it came worked the same way on you.

Your comment made me very happy. It's like I pitched the ball and heard it thump home perfectly in your glove.



ash_carpenter
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
I just love this. John has a bit of a bad reputation, particularly now, but I think this is perfect insight into him. He loved his boys but just became intently focussed on protecting them, because it had to be his first priority while he was still so frightened and grieving. Great job with young!Dean too. ♥
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
He's doing the best he can. Under the circumstances. It must have been terrifying, hearing from Missouri what's out there. "No, you're not crazy. You just might wish you were." And that idea of him not knowing when the thing with yellow-eyes might come back for the rest of his family. Ugh.

Thanks for the comment!
tifaching
Oct. 6th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Thinking about this time in their lives always slays me. John just struggling to get by, to learn, and still be a father to his boys.

Love the whiskey on the gums! I know people who've done that, and swear by it.

Great, heartbreaking fic!
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
So hard on John, and on Dean. The whiskey is an old folk remedy. I was reminded of it in 6x02. Glad you liked it, tifaching!
borgmama1of5
Oct. 6th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
Poignant!
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, borgmama1of5!
sandymg
Oct. 7th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Oh. That was lovely. Just beautiful. Felt very right.

This: When John looked down at him, he rattled the bars of the crib like an inmate at the county lockup.
--- Fantastic visual. And felt Dean like -- even then.
keerawa
Oct. 7th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
Five years old, and Dean's already got that drive to look after Sam and foreshadowing of the damage to come. Thanks for the comment, sandymg!
candycanerica
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Aww. Sad, sweet little glimpse of a moment. Loved the ending, and loved this line: "Dean was hovering anxiously. When John looked down at him, he rattled the bars of the crib like an inmate at the county lockup." Really great imagery.
keerawa
Oct. 8th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
Thank you, candycanerica! First not being able to get to Sammy, and then Dad acting funny - Dean was really worried.
ficwriter1966
Oct. 7th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Beautiful!

And I love the image of wee!Dean rattling the crib bars "like an inmate at the county lockup."

Thanks for sharing. :)
keerawa
Oct. 8th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Thanks ficwriter1966! That image is a favorite of mine, too.
msninacat
Oct. 9th, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
Beautifully sad. ♥
keerawa
Oct. 9th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you, nina!
darkestnight12
Dec. 19th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
I love this line: When John looked down at him, he rattled the bars of the crib like an inmate at the county lockup. XDD Oh Dean!
keerawa
Dec. 19th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, darkestnight12, I'm glad you enjoyed!
cookiemom6067
Jan. 1st, 2011 08:14 am (UTC)
That was really wonderful.
keerawa
Jan. 2nd, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)
Thank you cookiemom!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )