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Rating: PG

Genre: angst, family

Characters: John. Dean, Sam (gen)

Warnings: suicide/suicide attempt

Wordcount: 1392

Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, they'd be getting therapy, lots and lots of therapy.
Circa Dead Man's Blood/Salvation.

The three of them have been hunting together for about a month and as far as John is concerned, things are fine. Sam has stopped provoking him, and John, knowing a good thing when he sees it, has refrained from saying a word about The Ultimatum. They're saving people, hunting things, and getting a little closer to The Demon every day.

Dean is on board - that goes without saying. His oldest son is 100% focused on the hunt - well, except for when he is focused on Sam. Four years have done nothing to change the dynamic between his sons - Dean is protective of his brother, perhaps overly so, whether there's call for it or not. Meanwhile, his youngest has done some growing up, and is finally becoming a decent hunter in his own right, his fighting skills nearly on par with Dean's. And although he isn't going to admit it out loud, John is secretly thrilled to watch Sam dedicate his Stanford-worthy brain to research for the family business.

They're going to need it, John muses, as he returns to the motel with all the local newspapers. He could have sent out one of the boys for them, of course, but the less they're out and about, the better. It's a fine line he's walking, unsure now whether they're safer with him or without him. As he'd gotten closer to finding his quarry, it had seemed best to keep his distance from his sons, even when it had meant ignoring their multiple attempts to reach out to him. But there was being practical, and there was being a father, and eventually he had given in to his instinct to keep his children where he could keep a close eye on them.

Dean's gone - for breakfast, according to Sam - since John can't bring himself to confine them 24/7. At least he knows Dean will seek the most direct route to satisfy his appetite, and won't have gone far. Meanwhile Sam, the one who has always chafed at confinement in grungy little rooms, appears totally absorbed in whatever he is doing on the laptop. While both his boys have tried to persuade him that they didn't need to get newspapers where they have wi-fi, John remains unconvinced.

John does ask him what he's doing, partly out of curiosity and partly just in the interest of maintaining the truce. As long as Sam is willing to give up struggling against the life they lead, John is willing to indulge him with respect to his little projects.

Sam glances up at him, through shaggy hair that is still too long for John's liking, as if gauging the sincerity of the question. John suppresses a sigh, knowing the kid's suspicion is warranted.

Apparently concluding the inquiry was genuine, Sam launches into an explanation of how he is organizing hunting information on the computer. He throws around a lot of words - bookmarks, tags, hyperlinks, metadata. John doesn't quite follow everything, but does as well as he can, grasping that what Sam is doing really does have a lot of potential, even if he's not ready to give up on his journal and newspaper clippings quite yet. Old habits die hard, but John has to agree that the traditional written journals aren't necessarily easy to make head or tails of. John is especially interested in the indexing possibilities, only half listening as Sam goes on to emphasize that hunters need a system where knowledge won't be lost, even if the original writer isn't around anymore.

They're deep in the woods, wrapping up a black dog hunt, since the regular, everyday evil continues right alongside the malevolent forces targeted specifically at the Winchesters, and it's not like John can pretend not to notice, not when there are people who need saving. Besides, he hopes that continuing normal hunting will help keep up appearances and throw off any demonic observers. He's just retrieved a can of gasoline from the car and is heading back into the forest when he overhears Dean, who is checking Sam for injuries - the boy had cut it a little close on this one - asking about a watch, apparently some gift from his girlfriend.

They haven't really talked about Jess. Nobody needs to say out loud that it's hardly a coincidence that Sam lost his girlfriend the same way that John had lost his wife. Sam wants answers, but John has none to offer. Giving Sam even a hint of the truth would open the gates to more questions, and John isn't risking it. Besides, Sam is still upset about her, and he doesn't want to make that any worse than it is. The sooner Sam gets over her, the better. It's not as if Sam's situation is really identical to John's. After all, Mary had been his wife - they'd known each other for a decade, they'd gotten married, they'd had a home, children. Sam and his girl had been together for a span better measured in months than in years. He knows, he'd gone to Palo Alto more than once, kept vigil over his son as well as he could, and the two had only really been together since their junior year.

Not long at all.

Sam is resilient, he tells himself, he'll recover.

By the time he returns to the car, the boys are ready to leave, and while Dean seems vaguely troubled by something, he sure as hell wouldn't be sitting there calmly if Sam had been seriously injured, so John allows himself a moment of relief that Sam is unhurt, that for another day his sons are safe and sound.

They're supposed to meet up, the boys are late, and John automatically starts to call Dean, when he remembers that Dean's phone is out of commission, so he'll have to call Sam. He'd rather not - even when he and Sam are getting along, when they're on a job, he prefers following the chain of command as they always have, knowing Dean is keeping on top of whatever is going on with Sam. He's a bit relieved when it's his older son who answers the call. They

need to discuss the current hunt, and even though Sam is finally getting with the program, Dean is really the best one to talk to about that kind of thing.

John doesn't surprise easily, not in his line of work. Still, he wonders if some witch has snuck past the salt lines to inflict some kind of bodyswapping curse on his boys. Returning to the motel room, he's visibly startled to find his elder son scrutinizing the computer while the younger strips and cleans the guns. They must be getting really bored, he suspects. He compliments them on the cross-training, which can't be anything but good news, and resolves that he's going to have to give them at least a little room to run sometime soon.

He knows this town is clean, checked it every way he knows how, it's secure, for a couple of days, at least, nothing on their trail. So when Sam wants to take a walk, John has no reason to stop him and lets him go with nothing more than a warning to get back in time for a good night's sleep before the next hunt. God knows the boy needs to get out for a little bit, especially after declining to go bar-hopping with his brother the last two chances he'd had. Even knowing there shouldn't be anything supernatural in their vicinity, John looks on approvingly when Sam takes a gun with him. You can never be too careful.

John pores over his journal (he'll get to those bookmarks of Sam's eventually, he supposes) while Dean drinks a beer and listens in on the police scanner.

When Dean's phone rings and the call puts an odd expression on his son's face, it takes John a moment to place it. He's seen it often enough, too many times in Vietnam, and these days, on the people he's trying to help, when they're talking about the ones he was too late to save. It doesn't belong on Dean.

End Part II

Reviews/comments feed the beast.

A/N - If this chapter seems weaker than the last about what's going wrong - well, let's chalk it up to whose POV it is.

Part I - Retrospective

Trigger Words:


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
Why don't this fic have more comments? *promptly saves it to Memories* I love fics where Sam has had enough, where the life they lead is breaking him one way or other and he just needs to get out. In any way possible.

You do switching POVs very well, can't wait to read the next chapter! Ah, the angst is tearing at my heart in the best of ways. John never did get that it wasn't a matter of Sam finally settling into the hunting life, but rather how long it would take for the hunting life to finally crush his will.
May. 22nd, 2013 01:24 am (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, romantiscue. I had some comments (I think on fanfiction.com) asking me to go more into *why* Sam is in the state he is in here, but there's no one thing, you know? I'm trying to figure out how to make part 3 do justice to that.

If you like this flavor of angst, I hope you have read "Cost" by Faye Dartmouth and the "Beneath the trees, where Nobody Sees" 'verse by ficviendha.
May. 22nd, 2013 08:51 am (UTC)
Could you link me to your FF profile? And yeah, I definitely get what you mean by "there's no one thing" that put Sam in the state he's in. It's this whole life.

And I have read "Beneath the trees...", and absolutely LOVE it, but I don't recognize "Cost" *wanders off to read it*
May. 22nd, 2013 12:34 pm (UTC)
My fanfiction profile is *faint praise*, here: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2759700/Faint-Praise.

Faye Dartmouth's "Cost" is on fanfiction.net as well, here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2683344/1/Cost

Happy reading!
Aug. 18th, 2013 03:37 am (UTC)
I really like this so far!
Aug. 18th, 2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm still hoping I can add a Sam POV that works.
Sep. 25th, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
Looking forward to more!
Nov. 12th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
It's really interesting here how John doesn't get that something is wrong with Sam, in particular the bit where he just seems to shrug off Sam losing Jess, and thinks that Sam shouldn't be grieving as much as John did.
And how John seems to look down on Sam a little here (his hair, the line 'is finally becoming a decent hunter') but he also seems to try to connect, like when Sam is explaining about the bookmarks (I liked that scene, it reminded me of trying to explain computer stuff to my own dad XD).

The more I read this the more details I pick up about John's character, I think you've managed to get a lot of info about him in such a short fic, which is pretty impressive.
I kinda want to see more fics from you about John ... you have an interesting take on his character.
Nov. 13th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughtful comment, and for noticing how John (however unintentionally) belittles Sam, even if only to himself. I'm definitely trying to get across that even though these three are in the same place . . . they're not really in the same place.
I am in fact working on another fic that provides more insight on John - which is funny, as I don't seek out stuff that focuses on him - but I find I like looking at Sam through the eyes of others, so there you are.
Nov. 13th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
Cool! I look forward to your next fic then :)
I don't normally read much John fic either but I find it really interesting to see his POV of Sam and Dean.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )