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29 June 2009 @ 09:08 pm
FIC: The Long Narrow Rope 1/2  
Title: The Long Narrow Rope 1/2
Author: pdragon76
Rating: PG-13 (sailor-mouths, tornadoes, horny toads)
Genre: Gen
Characters: John, Dean, Sam
Spoilers: Pre-series, circa summer 1997
Disclaimer: It’s Kripke’s world, we’re all just living in it. *snaps fingers, points*
Summary: It’s been said that roots and wings are the only two lasting bequests you can give your kids, but sometimes all you’ve got is guns and how to use ‘em.
A/N#1: This fic was commissioned for Sweet Charity by the incredibly generous harleyjames, who put the prompts to a poll and ended up with this. I sure hope you like it, babe. Beta’d by the applause-worthy graduate july_july_julyand the ever dazzling ultraviolet9a. Gorgeous JDub icon by the ethereal smilla02
A/N#2: Those unfamiliar with the street rules of Bloody Knuckles may brush up here.


They sicken of the calm, who know the storm.
~ Dorothy Parker



The ER had that generic, white-washed linoleum John had seen in too many hospitals across a bunch of different states. They all had the same type of marbled floor that was supposed to tolerate a lot of scuffing before it showed any wear. He was staring down between his boots, calmly lining up the insole of his shoes with the square, straight seams of the tiles when Jim called.

There was a job in Santa Rosa and the pay was decent, if they could get on the road tomorrow.

John glanced up at the admissions desk, where the nurse with the attitude problem was stamping forms as if her job personally offended her. He still didn’t understand how anyone that frustrating to deal with could be so unaccustomed to being cussed at, even after Security had explained it to him that second time.

He’d been further irritated by the obvious assumption this was all somehow his fault. As if he’d asked Dean to detonate a homemade explosive in the carport. Like that might have been a task he’d delegated.

Son, while you’re out there, do me a favor and blow the eastern face off the house.

John had no clue what he’d used as an accelerant, but the boy had never been one to do things by halves. The blast took out three support pillars, brought down the awning, and sent Dean twenty feet through the neighbor’s porch railing. John had seen action in two separate tours, and a lot of shocking shit since, but there was nothing quite like an unsolicited explosion to interrupt the sinus rhythm. At least Dean had the courtesy to knock himself unconscious, which had actually saved John the trouble. Kid was kind of dragging his heels waking up, though, and that would be a concern, if John were the type of man to worry about things he couldn’t control.

He did, however, have complete power over how many times he heard that Zen bullshit about things taking as long as they took. And if anyone tried that on again he was…probably going to have another conversation with Security. That’s why Sam was now drinking his coffee, and he was carefully squaring off his boots with the floor covering while he took the paying job in Santa Rosa.

“Sure. Hang on a second.” John turned to Sam, made a writing motion in the air, and Sam shrugged to indicate he not only lacked a pen, but also any inclination to fetch one. John pressed the phone to his chest and pointed to the desk. “Go get me a pen,” he growled. “Now.” He watched the lanky little pissant flounce to the counter and back, took the procured pen with a pointed, “Thank you.”

He smoothed a gas receipt from his pocket on his thigh and transcribed the address, asked Jim the latest time he could get there.

“Why? Problem?”

“No, no problem. I’ve just got a thing here with Dean. Don’t know how long it’s gonna take. We can be on the road tomorrow, I just dunno what time.” He stood, stuck a finger in his ear and moved away when Sam started to protest.

“Dad, he’s not even…”

Jim wanted to know if Dean had been arrested again.

“No, no. It’s not the police. He let off a bomb out in the carport. Knocked himself stupid, singed a few nose hairs. They’re just runnin’ some scans. Rulin’ shit out.”

“Oh Lord,” Jim said, with the peculiar, long-suffering inflection of a direct address.

“Yeah.”

“I’ll have a word.”

“With God?” John queried animatedly. “You’re gonna have a word with God?”

Jim sighed audibly. “Yes, John. With God.”

“Tell the sonuvabitch I said howdy.”

When he punched the phone back into his jacket pocket, Sam was staring up at him reproachfully over the lip of the takeout cup.

“Did you just call God a sonuvabitch while Dean’s in the hospital?”

“Your brother’s fine. Drink my coffee.”

Dean didn’t have any brain damage — not that he hadn’t started out the day with, at any rate. They kept him overnight for observation and John had been a single parent long enough to recognize a rare reprieve when he saw one. He left the nurses to handle the fallout and bundled a reluctant Sam into the car, went back to the house to pack their stuff.

He found the bag of weed while he was loading Dean’s gear, and Sam knew far too much about exactly how it didn’t belong to his brother.

John plucked the latest of Sam’s discarded Grisham novels off the coffee table, tossed it at him. “Think you’re serious about this lawyer crap, kiddo, you wanna get a whole lot better at lying.”

It wasn’t just the explosion or the pot. They’d been in Poughkeepsie for six weeks, which was plenty long enough these days for Dean to get bored. In the last fourteen days he’d been returned to the house twice by the cops: first time over a narrowly-avoided D and D charge, the next sporting a black eye. And if the horny little toad didn’t keep his paws off that Becky girl down the street, her father was going to end up on their doorstep again. And John was pretty sure the guy was going to get clocked in his dumb suburban face when that happened. If not by Dean, then by him.

A man had his limits and, occasionally, it paid to know what they were.


**********

It's cold out folks. Bonecrushing cold. The kind of cold which will
wrench the spirit out of a young man, or forge it into steel.

~ Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure.



They discharged Dean early the next morning. John drove them south out of New York’s cloudless, crisp spring while the boy slept against the passenger window. John had caught wind a few months back that Grant was still in Searcy, which was right on the way to Santa Rosa, so long as you didn’t look too hard at any maps. He called in the favor from their motel outside Roanoke, but he kept the boys clueless, right up until the drop.

They pulled up at Grant’s ranch under a grumbling sky — smell of wet, warm earth intermingling with the promise of further rain. The main house was an angular, A-frame affair that speared the skyline like an arrowhead, dark tiles and pale frontage. There was a sign stuck near the porch stairs that said: FORGET THE DOG, BEWARE THE OWNER.

There was no sign of either. John checked his watch as he got out of the car. They weren’t late. The entire universe had been conspiring to make him tardy since January 24th 1979, but they weren’t late.

Dean didn’t seem to believe it, even after John dropped the duffel at his feet near the trunk.

“Who is this guy?” Dean eyed off the house, cast his gaze back over the start of Grant’s rambling property.

John took a deep breath of the rich April air, made a show of filling his lungs and letting it out slow. “Old buddy. Used to run a training program out of the Rifle Range Detachment over at Camp Lejeune. Retired now.”

“Great. So, you’re leavin’ us with some old Marine fogey while you go work this gig? I’m fine. We can stay at a motel.” Dean seemed to think the issue was health-related.

“Not ‘us’. You.”

Dean flicked lizard eyes at Sam. “Whattaya mean just me?”

“I mean, Sam’s comin’ with me. You’re stayin’ here with Grant. And I wouldn’t go calling him an old fogey anywhere he can hear you. Just a head’s up.”

“What the fuck…?”

“And I’d watch the language, too.” John leaned on the quarter panel, tried not to enjoy his son’s growing apprehension.

Dean widened his stance and crossed his arms, prepared to deploy the pièce de résistance. “And what’re you gonna do with Sam, exactly?”

John clapped hands on either side of Sam’s shoulders, clucked his cheek and smiled broadly over the kid’s head. “I’ll worry about Sam. You worry about Grant.” Beneath his fingers, Sam stiffened.

Dean let off a sharp, overly loud laugh. His eyes narrowed. “How long?”

“That’s up to you.”

“Bullshit.” Dean’s mouth curved in a faint, nervous smile.

“No, Poughkeepsie was bullshit,” John shot back. “This is the natural consequence of your actions.”

Behind Dean, Grant pushed out his screen door and came down the stairs. John hadn’t seen him in a good many years, and his limp was a lot worse than John remembered it. Didn’t seem to slow him down any, though.

“John fuckin’ Winchester,” he announced grandiosely as he approached. “Been a while.”

“Gunny.” John gave him an easy smile. “Yes, it has.”

“Farmer Grant now.” He tapped the side of his nose, and John gave him a conspiratorial grin, jutted his chin towards the pastures beyond the house.

“What’re you growin’ out there? Landmines?”

“Somethin’ like that. Those cows do big craps, man. You ever seen those things?” Grant motioned to Dean. “Speakin’ of shits. Who’s this? This yours?”

Dean looked so affronted at the description, John laughed out loud.

“Yeah, he’s mine.”

Grant got in Dean’s airspace, studied his bruised eyes and the cuts and scratches and burns. “I can tell. Nice face, dipshit. Your dad tells me you nearly blew it off.”

Dean leaned away from the scrutiny, irritated at the intrusion. He didn’t say anything.

Grant maintained a steady eye contact with Dean, addressed John.

“Webber says you’re freelancing these days.”

John nodded. “Yep.”

Grant’s gray gaze glanced off Sam and moved up to John. “You got any cops on your tail?” he asked plainly, and John shook his head.

“Nope.”

“Good. I’m not in the business of lyin’ to any cops.”

“Not askin’ you to.”

Grant turned his attention back to Dean. “You like blowing shit up, son?”

“I like makin’ explosives,” Dean corrected. “As far as I remember, the detonation was accidental.” He paused in the headlights of Grant’s iron glare, added a hesitant afterthought. “Sir.”

John had to dip his chin on the laugh that wanted out. He’d just about kill to stick around and watch, because this was going to be fucking priceless. But a job was a job, and some shit you had to just leave to the ether and trust it’d be hilarious without you.

Grant motioned to the lattice of nicks on Dean’s face, the blue-black rings around his eyes. “You got a headache?”

Dean made an early and astute judgment about where lying to men like Grant could get you. “Yes, sir.”

“Son, you’ve never had a headache.” Grant clapped him on the back, steered him toward the house. “I’m gonna show you what a headache is.”

It was quiet as the grave without Dean in the car, and you’d think John had cut off Sam’s right arm or something. The kid took three days of seething silence to come around, which was just fine by John. It was the most peace and quiet he’d had in a good long while.

“I dunno why you’re so fuckin’ upset,” John muttered, as he packed rounds to go meet his contact for the job in Santa Rosa. “All he does is slap you around.”

Sam’s stony glare followed him the entire way out the door.

**********


Children are like wet cement. Whatever
falls on them makes an impression.

~ Dr. Haim Ginott


Sometimes a situation backfired right in your face, and other times it took longer. It was nearly four weeks before Grant called him.

“Okay, you can come get him.”

“You done?”

“We’re done.”

The clouds tumbled and rolled in restless waves across the new summer sky, and the trapped humidity was armpit hell. It was a bronzed, relaxed Dean that came up off Grant’s porch stairs where he languished. He looked taller and stockier than John remembered, even though a month wasn’t long enough to make the difference. New muscle bunched beneath the confines of his t-shirt as he ignored John’s offered assistance and lifted his duffel into the Impala’s trunk. A fresh criss-cross of abrasions smattered his cheek beneath his sunglasses. Wait. Not his sunglasses. The shades were new.

“Where’s Grant?”

Dean shrugged. “Out. He said to say ‘seeya’.” He moved to the passenger door where Sam sat and thumped the window with the flat of his hand. “Hey, I get a hello?”

Sam cracked the door and John heard his wan, “Hey.”

Dean frowned down into the vehicle. “What’s up with you?”

“I’m sick,” Sam answered sulkily, and John rolled his eyes.

“Whatever. Party’s over, bitch.” Dean held open his door, jerked a thumb toward the rear of the car. “Backseat.”

John stopped them in Hope under the guise of an early lunch, left the boys with a couple of greasy burgers at a flaking picnic table near the roadside diner while he put in a call to Grant.

“What the fuck did you do? He looks like he just got back from Club Med.”

“Hey, don’t start with me. You said throw the book at him, I threw the book at him. Apparently, the boy likes to read.”

“He give you any trouble?”

“Sure.”

“And?”

“Then he didn’t.”

“Little shit.”

“He’s a helluva shot, John.”

“Yeah.”

“No, I mean he’s an exceptional shot. You run that kid till his lungs bust, he can still slap down and take out a mover at five hundred yards.”

“Uh-huh.”

“He can pick a tin can off a post at a thousand.”

“You don’t say,” John said dourly.

“Military got hold of him? You’d never see him again. They’d have him halfway across the planet faster ‘n you can blink.”

“Uh-huh.”

“He’d eat that shit up like pie, John.”

“He’s not lookin’ for a job, Grant.”

“I’m serious.”

“Tobias?”

“What?”

“Stay the fuck away from my kid.”

Jim called when he was halfway back to the boys. There was a job in Jarrell, and it wouldn’t pay, but Jim needed him there tomorrow.

**********

You always were a strange man;
holdin’ you was like huggin’ a hurricane.
I coulda been sunburned by your smile,
frostbitten by your eyes
(such an all or nothin’ character)…

~ Penelope Swales, Letters to the Dead



It’d been two hours since Dean bled dry Grant’s outrageous war stories. After a while John had stopped trying to keep track of which ones the lazy son of a bitch was still recycling after twenty-five years.

The conversation had somehow wound its way into a game of Bloody Knuckles over the backseat, and it was getting predictably out of hand. When Dean started climbing over to better whale on his brother, John intervened before it turned into an all-out brawl.

“Hey! Knock it off.”

Dean landed a sickening slap-punch before he turned and planted his ass back on the seat. Sam yelped like a kicked dog.

“Dickhead,” he accused, sounding more wounded than Dean’s smack warranted. John flicked eyes to the rearview mirror, caught a fleeting glimpse of Sam cradling his jaw in his hand, but he couldn’t see any blood. Generally, you only pulled over when there was blood.

“What’d you just call me? You little cocksucker.” Dean twisted again, jackknifed over the seat, and John heard the sharp smack of skin on skin and Sam’s indignant bark of alarm. He reached out for a fistful of cotton tee, jerked Dean back a second time.

“Jesus Christ, you two.” John returned both hands to the wheel, shook his head. “I didn’t miss this bullshit.”

Dean picked restlessly at the knee of his jeans. A light rain began, and to the east, a spidery vein of lightning flashed in the distance. John could make out the dark fog of rainfall beneath the storm clouds on the horizon, but directly above the sunshine was making prisms of the drops sliding down the arc of the Impala’s windshield.

Dean half-turned toward Sam. “So are you fakin’ it or you’re actually sick?”

“I’m not faking it! Dad left me in the car and the heater didn’t work.”

“No, you didn’t work the heater,” John clarified. “There’s a difference.”

“Because you took the keys. You always forget to leave the keys.”

“Christ, again? We’re gonna have this conversation again?”

“No,” Sam slung sulkily.

“Good.” John muttered.

“You took him on a job?” Dean grimaced.

“It was just a poltergeist, Dean. Kid’s fourteen.”

Dean stretched an arm across the seat, cocked an eyebrow back at Sam. “You coulda just hotwired her, dumbass. Like I showed you.”

“Yeah, and screwed up the ignition. Dad walloped you, remember?”

Dean shrugged as if he might have actually forgotten about that. “Better than freezin’ your ass off all night.”

“Or you coulda come and got the fuckin’ keys,” John suggested, as though the idea was an ingenious flash of brilliance.

“You told me to stay in the car.”

“Right. Because I wanted you to freeze. It’s always all my fault. Right, Sammy?”

Sam fell silent, and John was glad. When he checked the rear view mirror again a few miles later, he seemed to have fallen asleep.

Dean was caught on the poltergeist gig, like a stuck arm on a turntable. “Sam do anything on that job?”

“Which job?” John grunted. “You’ve been gone a month, Dean.”

“The one with the poltergeist.”

“Nope. I had a hand from a guy.”

“Which guy?”

“Just some guy, Dean. You just heard him, Sam didn’t get out of the car.”

“Was he any good?”

“Who?”

Dean tutted in exasperation. “The dude who helped, Dad.”

John raised his eyebrows at the windshield, nodded. “Well, he knew what he was doin’, I’ll give him that.”

That knee was jiggling again, and John waited while Dean reached some kind of internal crescendo and the words spilled out of him.

“So’d you miss me or what?”

John turned a lazy poker face on his son and found him wearing that cocksure expression forever borne of something needy behind the eyes. Truth was, it embarrassed the hell out of John, that look. He didn’t know where the fuck it came from, because he didn’t get it from his mother, and he sure as hell didn’t get it from his old man. And maybe he’d grow out of it, but in the meantime, you couldn’t pander to that crap. These kids had to be tougher than that.

He chewed his cheek, doled Dean a squint-eyed reprimand that gave away nothing. The smile faltered on Dean’s lips and he turned his face to the window, pinched his mouth between his fingers. John hated to disappoint him — he really did — but what the hell kind of question was that?

The silence was approaching unbearable when the brown Bronco ahead of them pulled into the first of two side-by-side gas stations on the outskirts of Dallas. John followed suit at the next joint along, even though he still had half a tank. He watched the back of Dean’s head through the window while he pumped. Sure enough, when the bowser clicked off, Dean leaned and pushed his shades up with one finger, looked at the gauge.

“Where’d you get those sunglasses?” John asked, as he plopped back behind the wheel. The Bronco must have been low on fuel, because they needed to wait.

“Grant.”

John slowly worked through his keys, found the right one, and made a show of pissfarting about getting comfortable. He tugged his jeans out of his ass, plonked back down. “You say thank you?”

Dean blew out a low, humorless chuckle, shook his head. “Oh, they weren’t a gift. Don’t worry, I earned ‘em.”

The Bronco pulled out from the lot behind them, and John started up the engine, let a few cars get between them before he peeled out onto the road.

It was less than a mile before Dean wised up. He popped up in his seat like a terrier.

“Why are we tailing the Bronco?”

Not bad, kiddo.

John played dumb. “What Bronco?”

**********


Fanatics in power and the funnel of a tornado have
this in common - the narrow path in which they move
is marked by violence and destruction.

~ Oscar Ostlund



John was no stranger to pro bono work. He’d done enough of it over the years. More unpaid jobs than paid, if you were going to grab a pen and start counting the fuckers. So getting shafted on a fee shouldn’t be that big a deal, except John Winchester didn’t get shafted on a fee, or anything else, come to think of it. Especially not by some two-bit hunter he’d contracted for backup while his son was getting a tan.

But it was panning out okay, because Dallas was right on the way to Jarrell, where he was going to not get paid again. John had made some sour noises about the ratio of dollars to work Jim was sending his way, but they were good people, apparently.

They were all good people. Jim was never going to call and say he knew some assholes with a problem, and could John bust their shit up while he was at it? That was never going to happen, even if it turned out roughly half of them really did deserve it.

John pulled into the lot and surveyed the front of the bar. It looked like the kind of sticky-floored place favored by serious drinkers — people who didn’t plan on being aware of the texture of the floor for very long.

“What’re we doin’ here?” Dean was staring at the Bronco parked nearby, and when he tore his eyes away there was something lit about him, like a fuse.

“I got an errand to run.”

“Yeah, right,” Sam said from the backseat, voice thick with sleep. John hadn’t realized he’d woken up.

“You boys stay put. I’ll just be a sec.”

“Remind me, how many errands go into a fifth again?” Sam asked Dean, as John got out of the car. Then: “See? He takes the keys.”

John’s hand froze in the pocket of his jacket, fingers wrapped around the key ring in an automated claim of custody. He briefly debated throwing them back through the open window directly into Sam’s face, but the mature option was to pretend he hadn’t heard.

The inside of the bar was as filthy as the side alley via which John entered. He made his way through the kitchen, ignoring the shout of protest from the greasy-looking cook preparing whatever passed for a meal in this joint. From the smell, John couldn’t readily identify what that might be.

He marched down the smudged walls of the corridor to where it dog-legged into the main bar, pulled up short in the cover of the doorway and snuck a preliminary scout around the corner. It was about as busy as he’d expected. Two barflies warming stools at the long stretch of wood veneer bar, a guy wiping the cheap laminate with a soiled rag, and three other patrons spotted at the tables. Victor Milo was among them.

The guy was hard to miss. He was built like a goddamn tank, which had been useful on the job — dual spirits meant twice the grave digging — but it was less handy when it came to payment disputes. Still. No point beating around the bush.

He hiked the .44 out of the back of his pants, and poked the nose down the front of his jeans near his hip. He flapped his shirt over the top, checked the weapon was only going to be visible if he chose. When he broke cover, he did so at a brisk walk and he headed straight for Victor’s table.

“Oh, you meant this bar?” he called out when he got in Milo’s earshot, and the man didn’t look very surprised when he twisted around.

He rolled his eyes, shook his head as he turned back to his drink, and John had to tamp down the urge to grab his collar and get things messy right off the bat.

“Cause here’s me sittin’ like a dick in that dive back in Tucumcari.” He came around the front of the table and made a casual, deliberate show of adjusting his jeans so the shirt tightened across the lines of the .44. “Which means I must have misheard you.”

“Long drive for a few bucks, Winchester.”

“Only if it’s about the money, Milo.” John leaned his knuckles on the chipped laminate. They stared each other out, and by the time John spoke again, he pretty much knew how this was going down. “You owe me some money. You got two options: you can give it me now, or I can take it from you now. But I got my boys waiting in the car and if this takes long enough for either of them to get it in their heads I had a drink in here, I’m gonna be very annoyed.”

Victor sighed — a condescending, put-upon sigh — and started to rise. The minute he got to his feet, the odds would swing largely in Milo’s favor, so John did what he could to stop him getting there. He snapped up and chopped Victor hard in the throat, sent him staggering backwards over his toppling chair into the table behind him.

When the dirty shit came back up, he had a knife. Even getting paid was hard in this line of work.

John lost the gun somewhere near the jukebox, probably when Victor’s right hook put him on his ass. And it didn’t really matter, because a firearm wasn’t winning any paper-rock-scissors in a knife fight, but he’d have to find it after.

The trick with a blade was to stay out of range, and John copped a decent reminder on his forearm before he managed to get a grip on Milo’s wrist. The guy moved fast for his size and he was occupying John’s complete attention, so when the surprise gunshot went off, they both jumped six feet in the air. Victor dropped the knife, got both hands above his head, and John was expecting a cop when he turned around.

It was Dean behind him, standing staggered stance with the recovered .44, face completely impassive.

“Dad, you okay?” He sounded kind of breathless, for a kid standing so still. John could see his lungs working through the adrenaline rush.

He straightened his shirt, glanced down at his bloodied arm. “Thought I told you to wait in the car.”

“Sam’s not feelin’ so great.”

“Okay.”

“So, can we go now or what?”

“Yeah. Just a minute.”

The first punch only backed Milo up a step, and John had to put the rest of his flagging grunt behind the haymaker that sent him down. He went through the asshole’s pockets until he found his wallet and counted out six hundred bucks from a roll of about a thousand, pushed the rest back into Victor’s tri-fold. He returned it to his pocket with a pat.

The barkeep backed up when John approached, pointed to the register. “Hit the key with the buck on it.”

John surveyed the squall-tossed furniture, the two remaining patrons plastered against the wall like startled geckos. He pocketed the five hundred he was owed, slapped the remaining two fifties on the bar. “Not exactly The Ritz. That should cover the damages.”

The guy looked at the blood-smeared bills and then John’s face. “Huh?” His eyes flitted to Dean, who was still holding the .44 loosely by his thigh. John waved off his interest.

“Don’t worry about him. He’s okay. Dean, put the gun away.”

Behind him he heard the click of the hammer being released, the safety going on. John rolled up his sleeve to get a better look at the cut, nodded at the money. “Can you take a whiskey outta that?”

“Uh, yes?” The barman clearly didn’t understand. When he made no move to fill the order, John got specific.

“Double, neat. Quicker I get it, the quicker we’re outta your hair.”

“Uh, sure.” The barkeep fumbled for a tumbler and poured straight from the bottle with no regard for measurement. He slid the glass across the counter.

John wanted to take a sip. He deserved a fucking sip. But Dean was standing behind him and damned if Sam was going to be right about him again today. He held his arm over the bar instead and upturned the entire shot on the gash. He grimaced, then sent the glass back with a flick of his fingers.

“Sorry ‘bout the mess.”

When they got out to the lot, it was pouring rain and Sam had puked in the car.

**********

The afternoon knows
what the morning never suspected.

~ Swedish Proverb



They stopped under a steel grey sky at a gas station in Jarrell. The second the car came to a halt, Dean exploded out of the passenger seat and took off to the grassed area to lose his own lunch. Kid was the worst sympathy-puker in history — always had been — but John had to admit the smell was starting to get to him, too. The place had a wash bay, so John got Sam out of the car and did what he could to clean the rest of the mess out of the backseat.

“Fuck that,” Dean announced when he returned, wiping his mouth. He leaned a test nose into the vehicle and withdrew it in a hurry, shook his head. “Dad, you know I love this car but I am not gettin’ back in there. We’re gonna have to sell it.”

John motioned to the meager cleaning tools at his disposal. “Well, I’m doin’ the best I can here.”

Dean spun on his heel in sudden alarm, Sam’s absence dawning. “Where’d he go?”

John nodded to the eastern corner of the building, where the sign indicated the bathrooms. “Where do you think?”

“Jesus Christ, he’s still goin’?”

“Apparently.”

Dean sighed, hands on hips. “Great. I’m gonna go see if he’s okay.”

“Hang on.” John rummaged in the trunk, found Sam a change of clothes. “Take these.”

Dean took the sweats and the tee, handed the shirt back. “Not that one.”

“Why, what’s wrong with it?”

“He hates that shirt.”

“So?”

Dean motioned to the back of his neck. “So, it makes him bitch about the stupid taggy thing stickin’ him.” He rolled a hand impatiently. “He’s already whiny. Pick another one.”

“Why does everything have to be so fuckin’ hard?” John slopped another tee into Dean’s hands, exasperated.

“Because he’s a prissy little princess,” Dean said, as if John were better off just resigning himself to the fact. He trotted off in the direction of the bathroom, and John headed into the convenience store to see if they had any deodorizer.

“You’re gonna have to move that, sir.”

The guy behind the counter was balding, in his mid-forties and apparently had a giant bug up his ass about the parking. Not that John expected any different from a man who wore a sweater vest. He swung around, looked back at the Impala where he’d left it in the attitude of three people desperate to be free of its confines.

“Sir, you can’t park like that,” the man tried again, adjusting his glasses.

“Well, I just did, so…keep your pants on. We’re not gonna be long.”

“I have a truck due. They won’t be able to get past you.”

“Then they can wait,” John suggested testily. “Deodorizer?”

“More likely, they’ll just take the back end off your Impala there, sir.”

“Great, ’cause I’m lookin’ for an excuse to kill someone. You sell deodorizer or not?”

“I’d be really grateful if you’d just move your car, sir.”

John stopped, shook his head, and moved to the counter. “Listen, my son just puked all over the back seat of my Chevy, and I’ve already had one dissatisfying conversation today.” John blinked while the clerk took in what was no doubt his already bruising face. “So I’d be really grateful if you’d just shut the fuck up and point me in the direction of something that smells better than vomit.”

The man paused, seemed to make a decision in favor of not asserting himself further. He lifted a hesitant hand to the far wall. “I think we have some potpourri spray back there.”

“Thank you.”

John’s cell rang while he was finding it. Apparently, Jim had nothing better to do than sit around pressing redial.

“If this is another job where the gig and the pay are in different states, you can go fuck yourself.”

“You have a lovely phone manner, John. Have I ever told you that?”

“Like I said.”

“Are you in Jarrell yet?”

“Yeah. Sam’s sick. You know what gets a puke smell out of a car?”

“A new car?”

John frowned at the can in his hands. “Yeah, that’s what I figured.” He sighed. “Whattaya want, Jim?”

“I have some information for you. I don’t think your job’s a black dog. They’ve had sightings during the day, and apart from the one fatality, the attacks have been mostly on livestock.”

“Drained?”

“Yes.”

“Chupacabra?”

“It seems more likely, yes.”

“Nice. I could do with a cakewalk right about now. What are these people’s names again?”

“Herbert. Nicholas and Sue. They have a daughter named Stacey. They’re good—”

“Yeah, yeah, they’re good people. They’re all good people. That’s supposed to make me feel better about the not getting paid, right?”

“Making a difference in people’s lives is its own reward, John.”

“My boys can’t eat that, Jim. Warm fuzzy glows don’t feed my boys.”

“What’s wrong with Sam?”

“I dunno.” John moved back to the counter, dumped the spray can in front of the clerk and squeezed the bridge of his nose. He was developing a hell of a headache, no doubt thanks to Victor Milo and his gigantic ham-fists. He tugged his wallet out of his pants. “Flu or somethin’. He’ll get over it.”

“Fluids. Bed rest.”

“Oh, really? I was gonna see if they had a football field round here. Have him run up and down it.”

“Is Dean with you?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. God bless, John. I’ll talk to you in a few days. You boys take care.”

“Oh,” the attendant said nervously, as he rung up the sale. “You’re bleeding, sir.”

John turned his arm, saw a bright splotch on his sleeve where he’d bled through Dean’s hastily applied dressing.

“Yes, I am.” John thumbed through the notes in his wallet. “How much is that?”

“Three twenty-eight.”

The front door yanked open, and Dean was on the other side holding up a limp-looking Sam in his change of clothes. A sharp wind blew in, sent a couple of newspapers flapping from their stand to the ground.

“Dad, he’s really burnin’ up.”

John closed his eyes on an epic sigh. He took a quick mental inventory of the first aid kit. “Ibuprofen?” he blew out on a weary breath.

The attendant pointed again. “Last aisle on the right.”



Part II

.
 
 
dragons 10-20: at the coffee table
dragons feels: sicksick
dragons hears: Johnny Cash: six white horses
 
 
 
unplugged32unplugged32 on June 29th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
**squeeeeeeee**

I'm copying this to read tonight, will feedback asap!!
Come on in, the water's bloody.lemmypie on June 29th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
GOD DAMNIT! What have I said about posting shit like this on a MONDAY when I have to WORK!?!?!
Oh I've said nothing about posting shit like this on a Monday when I have to work? Well I have now cut it out. It's distracting. ;)

(no subject) - pdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
ficwriter1966ficwriter1966 on June 29th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Two parts, so I'll comment twice. This is Made Of Awesome, Dragons - SO much Winchesterly goodness. And a number of turns of phrase that would have made me spit beverage onto the screen had I been foolish enough to be drinking something.

Onward to part 2! Excellent gift for a Monday morning.
out of your calculations: eyesshuthandmouthpdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
HOMG, I hope you mean the phrases I MEANT to be funny. *hides face in couch cushions*

Thanks for reading, dude. :D
Rhymes with Morticia: Donna brilliantfeliciakw on June 29th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
I'm only to the beginning of the second "stanza" (or whatever), and I see that use used a quote from NX.

HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME?????

NX is, for my money, one of the best TV shows EVER. Like, Ever EVER.

*dies a little bit from the awesome of seeing a Chris in the Morning quote in the middle of an SPN fic*
out of your calculations: gigglepdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
LOL. Well, it seemed appropriate. Northern Exposure is definitely one of my alltime favorite shows. It's up there with Twin Peaks, Buffy and Firefly, for sure. :D
chemm80: DeanHandMouthchemm80 on June 29th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
This line is pure gold:

found him wearing that cocksure expression forever borne of something needy behind the eyes.

The section that follows it is an astute assessment of John's thought process as well, I think. In some ways parenting is a balancing act between nurturing and inflicting damage, deliberate and otherwise--you can't develop protective calluses without injury and pain--and John lived in a world a degree of magnitude more dangerous than you and I.

“Cause here’s me sittin’ like a dick in that dive back in Tucumcari.”

Yay! You made him mention Tucumcari! That's about 50 miles from me. Right on the doorstep, really. We could pop over there for a drink or something. You know, if there was anything actually inTucumcari other than...actually I don't think Tucumcari's known for anything. Maybe John Winchester slept there?
out of your calculations: hey youpdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
Hey! Tucumcari has bars! Okay, maybe one bar. And it might be more of a grill. But I did check.

Heeee. John prolly slept there, yes. Plotting the many deaths of Victor Milo, no doubt.

Thanks for reading. :)
tabaqui: johnsepiabyangstpuppytabaqui on June 29th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
I already love it. I love John's Marine buddy having a crush on Dean's ability to kick ass. I love Sam being sulky and sick and mostly *right*, i love Dean being a sympathy puker and knowing about the t-shirt.

I kinda hate John for being a dick to Dean about not missing him. But i kinda love this story so i'll let it slide.
:)
out of your calculations: has coffeepdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:53 am (UTC)
I kinda hate John for being a dick to Dean about not missing him.

I kinda think John's prolly right there with ya, somewhere beneath all that colossal fail at expressing himself effectively.

*pets the JDub*

Thanks for reading. :)
the island of conclusionsariadnes_string on June 30th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
Generally, you only pulled over when there was blood.

OMG, John Winchester and I have the same parenting philosophy!

I'm telling you, raising boys: you keep them cooped up for too long and they destroy stuff; you bring them with you, and they almost run you off the road fighting (and/or puking) in the car...

::finds it all a little too close to home::

I am loving, loving, loving the John POV here, and the whole story! But it's late now, so I'm going save the rest for tomorrow--

more then--
out of your calculations: grapple boyspdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
Well, I can only assume this is standard parenting 101. Because otherwise, why the fuck did Dad of Dragons not intervene more frequently to save my ass?

*squints at JD*

The shit my brother and I used to get up to in the car, I'm surprised we didn't go through more vehicles growing up. Srsly.

Do not make me tell you the story about JD's boogies and the paint scraper. *mouthvomits*

Thanks for reading. :) Glad you can relate.
brigid_tanner: John-smilingbrigid_tanner on June 30th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
Loving it! I like your John a lot, and smart-ass Dean with the explosives and sick Sam are a lot of fun, too. I knew I was going to love it at this point:

He’d been further irritated by the obvious assumption this was all somehow his fault. As if he’d asked Dean to detonate a homemade explosive in the carport. Like that might have been a task he’d delegated.

Son, while you’re out there, do me a favor and blow the eastern face off the house.

John had no clue what he’d used as an accelerant, but the boy had never been one to do things by halves. The blast took out three support pillars, brought down the awning, and sent Dean twenty feet through the neighbor’s porch railing. John had seen action in two separate tours, and a lot of shocking shit since, but there was nothing quite like an unsolicited explosion to interrupt the sinus rhythm. At least Dean had the courtesy to knock himself unconscious, which had actually saved John the trouble. Kid was kind of dragging his heels waking up, though, and that would be a concern, if John were the type of man to worry about things he couldn’t control.





Edited at 2009-06-30 03:41 am (UTC)
out of your calculations: gigglepdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 06:25 am (UTC)
Dude. Since that day back in April when you told me that story about the kid blowing up the stump? Dean has been blowing up this carport in my head ever since. *facepalm*

That is all your fault, lady. That is on you.

*chuckles*

Thanks for reading. :)
(no subject) - brigid_tanner on July 2nd, 2009 02:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cybel on September 16th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
saberivojosaberivojo on June 30th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
The next time you tell me you don't know Jdub, please be watching out for the smack surely headed your way.

Dragons, I love this all. Dean blowing shit up. Dad dropping him off with Gunny for some consequences to your actions learning and then Gunny finding out what Dean is made of.

The boys fighting in the car is so perfect. I think that John's philosophy of not pulling over unless there is blood is probably pretty true. All three of them are a pretty a physical group. And you know how much I love to see them slap the shit out of each other It is funny that John tell that to Sam when they drop Dean off! All he does is slap poor Sam around!

I love this top to bottom.
out of your calculations: gigglepdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
*\o/* I am so glad you're enjoying it, babe. *smish*

I have a fairly vivid pool of memories to draw from when it comes to car-based sibling relations and the code of conduct for parental intervention.

I don't recall that code ever helping me out any, as the youngest and therefore the person most frequently screaming for mercy.

*chk-chk* Thanks, Dad. *chuckles*
choccachocca2 on June 30th, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
What! How did I miss this!? I swear there was no alert thingy and I'm looking through flist and I can't see it. *rubs eyes*

This here is lunchtime reading! \o/ you're awesome! I'll be back with me review later =)
out of your calculations: gleepdragon76 on July 1st, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)
DO SOME WORK, WOMAN.
irismay42irismay42 on July 3rd, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
John ditched Dean. He has a habit of doing that. I liked how Dean came back completely (apparently) unbroken from his little 'vacation' - and how he was instantly all about the "did you miss me?" and "what's wrong with Sam?" Very Dean. And very John that he cared but didn't feel he could show it. I also liked Grant's comments about Dean's prospective employment by the military and John's reaction to that!
out of your calculations: boys having teapdragon76 on July 5th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
Hey you! Thanks for reading. JDub does have a habit of ditching our boy, doesn't he? *shakes head* And yeah, despite their lifestyle, I think John Winchester would go down in a flaming heap before he let Dean pull on a standard-issue ANYTHING.

alexandra_08: butSmilealexandra_08 on July 14th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
I know it’s been hard to keep up with writings this year, but how come this went by me?! I’m taking a peek at your LJ and find this! I remember the poll and the prompt. A pre-series story! I’m always in for those.

Again I have to say how I appreciate how rough the boys are under your care. How Dean may be “territorial” about Sam, but doesn’t treat him with kid gloves. Brothers getting physical. And that’s just it about Dean, isn’t it? He’s physical. Physical throughout. The need to occupy himself physically - the fabrication of the bomb, the time with Grant (and I love how Dean is quick to seize the man he’s dealing with and “Sometimes a situation backfired right in your face, and other times it took longer” Hehe), the taking charge by coming in the bar and firing up (how I love that!) and later the girl, the running, the need to get Sam, the drawing on the napkin… Of course, he’s eighteen and bursting with energy, but being physical also means he doesn’t find himself alone with his thoughts…

I understand what the hell of a question that is, but damn it, John, damn it! Couldn’t you meet the kid half way for once? Always with the good intentions, the nice thoughts in your head (like being so fucking proud of him in Tiger Boy, but of course, heaven forbid the kid should know), but the actions translating rather differently… I have to say wow to this perfect line “found him wearing that cocksure expression forever borne of something needy behind the eyes”.

Oh, but I had some laughs. And the quotes are great.
out of your calculations: hugspdragon76 on July 19th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
Every now and then someone leaves me a comment that reminds me exactly how honest and pure and true our fangirl investment is in these boys, and it makes me forget all the annoying wanky crap that goes on and give y'all a group hug.

*group hug*

Thank you for being the bearer of this comment today. :D And for reading. And for reminding me why I write fanfic, right before I knuckle down for my summergen draft.
layne: spn memorieslayne67 on July 15th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
I was going to wait until the second part before I comment but I just have to say something about this :

FORGET THE DOG, BEWARE THE OWNER

*falls off chair laughing*

And the image of Pastor Jim with his finger on the redial button omg that's so goooood!!
out of your calculations: gigglepdragon76 on July 19th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
LOL. Pastor Jim's itchy dialing finger was a last minute addition, so I'm glad you liked it. :)
(Deleted comment)
out of your calculations: has coffeepdragon76 on July 17th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
Weirdo.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - pdragon76 on July 17th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
kayto1kayto1 on July 22nd, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
See - I am so massively behind I am just now getting to read this.

You captured them so perfectly - John - tough, asshole, but....John. And jeepers - Sam??? I would have killed him (loved the "see, he always takes the keys - my god - that summed up so much - perfect show, don't tell on his attitude). And their interplay. And poor dumb ass Dean....

Off to part II!
out of your calculations: oopspdragon76 on August 29th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA*soberface* Let's just pretend it's still July and I didn't completely miss this comment of yours, shall we?

*pretends*
faithintheboysfaithintheboys on August 21st, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
I really love this. The characterizations are great. Can't wait to read more!
out of your calculations: cafeboyspdragon76 on August 29th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
Thank you!