denyce: (SPN: 3 Winchesters)
[personal profile] denyce
Title: No place like Home
Author: Denyce
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Summary: John and Missouri, Coda to Home S1E9
Word Count: 1,683
Disclaimer: Owed by TBTB Eric Kripke, & the CW. Not mine, zero profit, written for fun/entertainment purposes only! Note: credit to Eric Kripke on his dialog borrowed from the episode in the first 250 words.
Notes: First a huge!! Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] sublimatedangel< for polish beta {{hugs!!}} Written for the [profile] spn_s1_ficathon





1/1

After seeing the boys off, Missouri stood there in her entryway, strangely bemused, then shook her head as she walked into the living room and spoke more to herself than to John Winchester who was sitting on the couch. “That boy… he has such power. But why he couldn’t sense his own father, I have no idea.”

John hid his face in his hands, discreetly rubbing away a stray tear before staring down at his wedding ring. His mind was on replay, going over what Missouri had told him, what he had overheard his boys say earlier that morning and where he'd filled in the blanks of what they hadn't said. Turning his head in her direction without lifting it, trepidation in his voice, John asked, “Do you really think Mary was there, that she saved the boys?”

With unwavering sincerity she answered. “I do”

A small tight smile pressed into place as he nodded, his eyes glistening, his facade cracking. Purposely he focused on his wedding ring.

A tense silence enveloped the room, breaking Missouri’s patience. “John Winchester, I could beat you with a stick. Why won’t you go talk to your boys?”

Tearfully John looked up. “I want to. You have no idea how much I want to see ‘em. But I can’t. Not yet.” John shook his head and looked down at his ring then back to Missouri and firmly added, “Not until I know the truth.”

She stared back, her face grim, barely reining in the tidal wave of anger she felt. “The truth? What truth, John? He’s your son; in your heart you know the truth—you’re family and they’re your sons - that’s the only truth that counts. What matters the most.”

John shook his head, dismissing her words.

“If you don’t stop this, it’s going to be too late…”

“Don’t!” he ground out.

Unruffled, fists clenched tightly at her sides, Missouri bit back a string of curses before demanding. “Don’t what? Damn it, John, those boys need you.

If she weren’t already staring intently, she would have missed the slight tremble of his body. Might have missed how John’s eyes closed in a lousy attempt at hiding the thick shine of wetness. He shifted and glared down at his hands. His voice raw with emotion, this time he broke the silence. “You think I don’t know that?” Touching and twisting his wedding ring like it was a touchstone, his words were soft but determined as he said, “It’s safer for them without me.”

“Bull! You’re just being a stubborn fool, John Winchester. Fact is you’re killing them.” John’s head snapped up, glaring questionably at Missouri’s accusation.

She didn’t move toward him, but held his eyes as she implored him. “Not like that, but they DO need you! John, you’re setting things into motion that you won’t be able to take back. Your boys… they need you. Inside they’re still really no more than little boys, following your orders. Hoping you’ll make it better. Especially Dean. Truth is, they need their daddy. Without you they’re lost, empty, and desperate, blindly hanging onto each other.” She paused and stepped back, turning around and facing her mantel, blinking away tears that threatened to fall, no longer able to hold back the depth of sadness that crept over her soul.

From the moment the boys had returned and she’d felt them, she had known she’d have to distract Dean. Luckily he still responded whenever she baited him. Sadly, from where she stood, the young man she'd met the other day wasn’t that different from the scared young boy she'd met years ago; his emotions and heart easily readable to even a blind man.

Even at four years old, Dean had been overly protective and barely able to let go of Sam or let him out of his sight. He had only relented his hold to John. All of which had been understandable right after the fire, especially after John had told her he'd had Dean carry little Sammy out of the burning house. Dean loved Sammy, then and now. They were brothers, but that didn’t explain everything like why Dean had hovered both physically and emotionally over Sam, even around her. The fierce protectiveness Dean had for Sam now was greater than it had been when she'd first met the boy. It had nothing to do with Sam’s powers, of that she was certain. And Sam was just as protective over Dean. It wasn’t their love that was different, but if she had to pinpoint it, it was Dean’s intensity and depth that was different unique toward Sam.

She didn’t need words to explain it. It was something she could see and read just as clearly as she could Sam’s power.

Remembering Dean then brought her back to that day like it was yesterday.

~*~*~

The town was still buzzing over the devastation of the fire that left a man widowed with a small child and an infant, just weeks before the holidays. It was only a week after the fire when John first showed up at her door. He had Sammy cradled in one arm, a diaper bag slung over a shoulder and a carrying rocker in the other hand.

A small noise got her attention and she glanced down in time to see a dash of blond hair timidly poke out from behind John’s leg, a small, frightened boy; she had read about them in the paper. John immediately introduced her to Dean, who never let go of his father, only nodded in greeting. Even later after being ushered in and given the promise of fresh baked cookies, Dean didn’t relinquish his hold on John. It was only after John told him to sit, as he set the rocker on the table and secured Sammy within, that Dean actually followed John’s order, switching his hold on John to Sammy’s foot and gently rocking his sleeping brother.

She placed a large glass of milk on the table for the boy and scooted the plate of cookies closer. Still they went untouched, until John nodded his approval and told Dean only three so as not to spoil his dinner; then Dean finally reach for a cookie. It laid a foundation on how she treated Dean. Giving orders with a splash of sass, mimicking her grandmother. It seemed to cut through the grief and chaos; only orders and Sammy were able to soothe the turmoil going on inside the boy.

In the days that followed both Winchesters were understandably inconsolable in their grief. Sadly instead of grabbing and holding on to each other, their grief led them to anchor emotionally in different directions. John wanted answers not platitudes, which led him to her door in the first place. He quickly settled into research that would turn later into hunting the thing that had killed his wife. Dean, on the other hand, anchored himself to Sammy. The boy barely left his brother’s sight. Although it had been only days after the fire, already Dean was proficient at changing Sammy’s diapers, feeding him, and bathing him. It didn’t end there; at four Dean quickly acclimated to the situation and was there not only for Sammy’s every whim, but also for John’s.

Admittedly, she knew she didn’t help matters when she asked Dean to bring his father food and bluntly told him to get his father to eat. It worked, though. Previously, whenever she had tried it, the food would just sit there getting cold and or stale, but with Dean pressing him, John would actually stop and eat. It quickly became a pattern, where Dean filled his day checking on one and then the other instead of anything that’d resemble what a normal four year old did. Not that she had much experience with toddlers, but Dean Winchester defied any standard.

He was no longer a boy, but a little man, highly tuned to Sammy’s and John’s every need. And John allowed it; encouraged it in fact, was proud.

~*~*~

At the time she'd believed, had hoped, that once grief ran its course John would reestablish his role especially in regards to Dean. It had never occurred to her that what she had witnessed then would dictate and cement their future relationship. There was no doubt in her heart or mind that John loved his boys. She also had no doubt that John had an agenda. To find and destroy Mary’s killer.

Even after all these years, it was plain to see that John’s focus and need to find Mary’s killer never varied—if anything, over time it had strengthened. Just as Dean’s identity did. It was clear to her that Dean’s core of self worth was cemented and tied in and around his family.

She didn’t know what was going to happen, only that the path they were currently on… wasn’t good. Determined, she turned back around and faced John. “You have to stop this, John.” She had nothing left to offer other than the truth. “There’s a hole in that boy. Seeing his momma just ripped him apart. Fact is, John, he’s barely hanging on….”

John turned away, unable to face her charge. He didn’t need for her to tell him which son she was talking about. He heard it in Dean’s voice when he called, could hear it now as it easily replayed in his head—haunting him.

“Is finding that truth worth losing your boys? You think Mary would have wanted this?”

The questions went unanswered as John stood.

Desperately she called out, “John?”

Shaking his head, his voice was hollow with pain. “Have to go.” He moved toward the door.

Shocked, she said again, pleading, “John?”

As he reached the door and started to open it, he paused without turning around. His head was bowed, a small bitter smile sliding into place, his voice hoarse with emotion. “Lost the boys a long time ago. Fighting for their lives… and that’s worth everything.

The door quietly shut behind him. A silence of impending doom enveloped around her as she stood staring at her door—realizing too late that this would be the last time she’d ever see John Winchester—alive.


FiN~

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