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May Robinson [userpic]

Fic Update: Armistice (ch 3 of 9)

August 23rd, 2007 (05:31 pm)

where i am: at work
how i am: content
accompanied by: Spinning Wheel, Blood Sweat & Tears

Summary: Pre-series. A hunt gone terribly wrong prompts John's first trip to Stanford. Dean's hurt and hurting, father and son angst ensues. Chapter 3 of 9.
Rating: T (PG-13), language.
Pairing: None, Gen, Dean and John Winchester
Spoilers: None.
Notes: See under cut.
Disclaimers: See my profile page.

Author's Notes/Comments/Warnings: Big thanks as always to Penny for her beta-reading awesomeness and I'd like to thank Heather for having so willingly jumped on board to add her invaluable medical expertise. Jennie, too for the impromptu grammar checks. . . you're all making this story better because of your input. Thanks also to everyone who is still reading and especially those who take the time to send feedback. It's truly appreciated.

by May Robinson

Chapter 3 - SNAFU

All right, John was willing to admit it. A cup of caffeine seemed like a hell of a good idea about now. Sister Carol had popped in and offered to grab him a refill about a half hour earlier but John had declined. Had still been pretty pumped and was nursing a piss warm one she'd already given him before anyway. Now he felt like he was fading. He'd finished that last cup but didn't want to slip out of the room now, not this close to eight o'clock. They'd be in soon to check on Dean again, wake him up again, ask those necessary questions again. John hoped Dean would retain something of what he'd told him after his first check-up at six. After the doctor and nurses had cleared out and he'd had a minute alone to talk to him. Dean had been so exhausted though and still hurting so bad, John highly doubted the name "Wyman" or anything else he'd said would stick.

Hell, the kid could barely keep his eyes open during that first wake-up check but thank God he had finally woken up. It had taken precisely long enough for John to become petrified, fear that Dean had slipped into a coma while his dad had been sitting mere inches away from him, oblivious. Even now, the thought of those agonizing few minutes spent trying to rouse Dean made him feel light-headed and heartsick. The relief when those long lashes finally fluttered open, in recognition no less, had nearly driven John to his knees.

After the CT-scan, they'd wheeled Dean into this room, hooked him up to an IV and oxygen, along with just enough monitors to ensure that John felt lower than pond scum and then told them both to get some sleep. They'd be back later to check on Dean. John had wanted to talk then but one look at those exhausted, too pale features and John had relented. Pulling a chair up next to the bed, he'd lowered the rail and rested his arm alongside the length of his son’s. Dean had long since released the stranglehold on John’s hand, his previous clinginess replaced with a milder, half-awake version of the tough guy façade Dean had mastered long ago. John couldn’t help the soft smile that crept across his face, never thinking he'd ever apply the word clingy to the adult Dean. Oh, how Dean would hate that. But still, John had seen through the kid’s mask and knew by the way those imploring eyes had tracked his every move that Dean had wanted his dad nearby. Guilt and warmth had poured into his soul then and John had leaned closer, his fingers lightly brushing the top of his son’s hand, remaining there as Dean slept.

John hadn't seen Rowe in a while now, didn't think the man's shift would be over yet but wasn't complaining about the absence. Good riddance as far as he was concerned. Clearly the jerk knew his craft but John didn't like him. Didn't like his judgmental huffs after John had told his story about why Dean wouldn't remember his address. . . that they'd packed up and moved ages ago and were road-tripping cross country. It was the best John could come up with under the circumstances and something he'd hoped Dean could latch onto once he'd been fed the spiel.

Once Rowe had shown up with the preliminary test results, John had actually been able to relax, just a little, breathe again. The scan looked promising; thank Christ, so now they were treating the injury with less gravity. Weren't worried about brain damage so much. Of course, John didn't need Rowe or eight years of college to remind him that any concussion was still serious. All he had to do was look at his son, with his unusually slack, practically translucent features and eyes sunk deep into shadowed hollows, to know that his kid was still very sick. And he'd feel a hell of a lot more confident in those results once Dean could actually carry on a conversation or be able to stay awake for more than mere minutes at a time.

Speaking of which, John checked his watch, frowning, then compared it to the one on the wall. They agreed, just as they should have since John had synchronized his to the wall clock when Dean had fallen asleep that first time. It was already 8:07, damn it, and no one had shown up yet to look in on Dean. Tight ship they ran around here.

John had no patience for this, sitting idly waiting for the nurses to do something he was perfectly capable of doing himself. Though the admission left a bitter taste in his mouth, he couldn't deny that this wasn't the first hunt that had ended up going south with a Winchester out cold. And shamefully, he couldn't even say he preferred it when he was the one down for the count. Though he loathed seeing either of his boys hurt, John was definitely no good to them knocked out of commission himself. So long as he was conscious, he could keep his sons alive. It was a hunter's warped logic, he knew. Something he hoped Dean understood, knew Sammy didn't.

The thought of his youngest sent a shiver down John's spine at the same time he felt his blood pressure spike. God, Sammy would be having a self-righteous field day over this. John's imagination didn't have to work overtime to envision the daggers Sam would be shooting in his direction about now. The snide comments whispered only out of respect for his injured brother's much needed sleep. John could hear the accusations pin-balling in his head. . . he should never have considered digging up that grave without making sure the spirit was bound to the house; never should have stepped into that cemetery distracted as he was, as they both were; never should have let his temper cloud the rest of his senses; never should have left Dean up top with no-one there to watch his back; never should have driven Sam away so there'd be no-one watching out for De--

"Damn it!" He practically growled, abruptly putting an end to his runaway thoughts and shoving off of and away from the chair.

He was across the room in a few long strides and staring out the window before the still resonating echo enlightened him on just how loud his sudden movements had been. Despite the hour, the fourth floor was still as hushed as a library and John was being about as subtle as a Huey taking off under enemy fire. Appalled at his loss of control, John couldn't prevent the groan from escaping his lips when he heard the telltale rustling and creaking that signified Dean was waking up. Despite the hint of shame he felt in being responsible for Dean waking before the nurse got there, he couldn't deny the immense relief he felt that the kid had stirred without too much prompting.

Swiftly making his way over to the bed, he placed a restraining hand on Dean's shoulder, anticipating the worst; that Dean might wake up disoriented and do something stupid like hurt himself trying to get out of bed in unfamiliar territory. "Easy, it's just me," John reassured as he felt Dean tense under his firm hold.

"Unh--Dad?" Dean's voice sounded raw and shaky but John still couldn't help but bow his head and smile, relieved that Dean recognized his voice, thankful his memory hadn't regressed. Unaware until this very moment that particular concern had even been plaguing him.

"Yeah, I'm here," he responded, the hand restraining Dean now smoothing what he'd hoped were soothing circles on the kid's chest. The motion had worked to settle both his boys in their youth when they'd woken up in strange places, or worse, woken from night terrors, both encountered and imagined. He was out of practice but it didn't feel as awkward as he'd anticipated, discovering that this part of fatherhood - this affection - was a bit like riding a bike. He never really forgot how, just didn't have occasion to do it much anymore.

Not since Sam had started to resist and Dean had followed suit. Hurt by it, John had pulled back too, eventually realizing too late that, in Dean's case, the resistance had been his eldest's way of making Sam's rebellion seem less blatant. By the time of that realization though, both of his sons had grown into young men and John had figured he'd missed his chance to reestablish it with Dean. If not for a concussion's side-effects, it probably was still too late but, for now, the way Dean was sinking further into his bed, John realized the TLC was working too well, sending Dean back into la-la-land. "Hey," he said, roughly patting him now instead. "Why don't you open up those eyes and see for yourself?"

"Don't wanna," he slurred and then added, "Sir," seemingly as an afterthought.

If he didn't know that Dean was obviously in pain, John could have laughed at the memories his kid's reluctance evoked. He supposed he should be worried over Dean's sluggish speech, but this reminded him so much of the teenager who didn't want to drag his ass out of bed to go to school, as opposed to the eager hunter he grew into, that John didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He chose neither, instead resorting to a tried and true response. "Well, that's just too bad, princess, but it's gonna hurt a hell of a lot worse when someone comes in and tries to scald the corneas out of your head. Might as well suck it up now, get 'em used to daylight."

"--all heart--," Dean grumbled, eyes still closed, and John did grin this time. Despite the concussion, Dean was all there, John was sure of it. Just might take a few days for his smartass son to make a full comeback. Patiently he waited, watching as the kid furrowed his brow, working too hard at processing his father's words. Emotions in flux, John suddenly felt unusually queasy as he watched that bruised and newly stitched up souvenir from his son's too close brush with death moving up and down in his hairline. Once again those lashes bequeathed to him by Mary fluttered in an attempt to open, eventually revealing twin slivers of hazel-green before parting almost fully.

Seemingly becoming aware of his surroundings, Dean reached for the line trailing from the cannula beneath his nose and John abruptly stilled Dean's movements with a light smack and a sharp, "No. Leave it alone."

Immediately Dean's gaze fixed on John's and John could read the confusion there before Dean even had to ask, "Hospital?"

Damn. John was really hoping Dean's memory would be in a hell of a lot better shape than this. They'd already covered this territory after all. "I'm afraid so, dude," he replied, sympathy seeping back into his voice.

"Sonofa--," Dean paused, now staring at the IV in the back of his hand, obviously still trying and failing to remember. "What happened?" He asked after a moment, bracing his elbows against the mattress as though about sit up.

"Not so fast, hotshot," John cautioned, holding Dean in place. The restraint failed to steady Dean's head however which rocked forward slightly before falling back against his pillow. The movement wasn't much but it was enough to cause a lot of hurt. The pain had to be extreme, though the cry torn from Dean's throat was typically understated. John knew how much Dean abhorred showing pain in front of his father; had himself to blame for that, a fact both Sam and Jim were all too happy to remind him of whenever Dean exceeded his body's limits. If the tears leaking from those eyes squeezed tight against their escape weren't already telegraphing how badly Dean was hurting though, the rigid body, but for the white-knuckled fist rhythmically pounding against the mattress, was broadcasting it nationwide.

Unwilling to bear witness to his son's pulsing agony, John latched onto that fist, stilling its movements and prying it open, weaving strong fingers around their younger counterparts, as much gratified as he was alarmed that Dean returned his grip with interest. "C'mon, son, breathe," he coaxed, not at all liking the grey-green hue of his skin-tone. Last thing Dean needed now was to throw up. "Easy breaths, that's it."

John kept up the steady litany, staying calm and encouraging those rasping breaths; one rough hand carding through the damp hair at his son's temple, the other still holding tight. Eventually Dean's breathing eased as did his grip and when Dean's fingers loosened and pulled away, John felt an aching loss he knew he was no longer entitled to and didn't offer any resistance of his own.

The hand that had been resting in Dean's hair subtly skimmed along his son's face, wiping away the traces of moisture before settling once again on the kid's chest. "You okay?"

"God, that sucked out loud," was the answer and, because John's heart was still stuck in his throat, his laughter bubbled out on the tail end of the panic he'd been trying to suppress and he damn near choked on it. "Dad?"

The concern in Dean's voice nearly sent John over the edge and he pulled away abruptly, shaking off the remnants of fear and guilt as he harshly scrubbed his hands over his face. God, I'm too damn tired for this.

When he finally returned his attention to his son, John was struck hard by how young and fragile Dean looked lying in this hospital bed. Gone was the sickly discoloration of nausea but the kid was still way too pale, his freckles standing out in stark contrast to skin damn near as white as the pillow he lay upon. His eyes were bloodshot again, still brimming with moisture, and if John allowed himself, he knew he'd get lost in them, drowning in the memory of a mute little green-eyed boy, suffering and incapable of understanding why.

"Dad, what the hell happened to me?"

The irony was too much and John tried unsuccessfully to stifle another choking laugh, knowing he was upsetting Dean but unable to help himself. Jesus, get a grip, Winchester! Wiping his own eyes, John schooled his features into what he hoped resembled composed concern, inhaled a calming breath and responded with his own question. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"Jim's place, I think," Dean answered, clearly still a little unsure. . . of his response and his father's mental state, no doubt.

"Jesus, Dean, that was three days ago." Dean flinched at John's reaction, looked like he was about to apologize or worse, bawl. And John, remembering that memory loss wasn't the only side-effect of Dean's concussion, immediately felt like an ass. "'S okay, bud, it's not your fault," he reassured. "I just hate like hell that you've lost so much time. You don't remember anything at all about the hunt?"

Dean closed his eyes, his brow creased once again in concentration. John was seated now, elbows resting on the mattress, hands clasped together beneath his chin. Waiting. When he was just about convinced that Dean was going to answer with a big negatory, the kid's eyes sprung open and he apprehensively said, "Reno. . . Jim figured it was just a ghost?"

Just a ghost. Yeah, right. John shuddered as flashes of Dean being thrown around, knocked unconscious, and dragged like a rag-doll by the spirit of Peter Wellington assaulted his mind. His voice was rougher than he intended when he answered. "Yeah, that's right. It was a spirit, son."

"Standard salt and burn, right?"

Glad that his son's memory was improving, John wanted nothing more than for Dean to just shut the fuck up. He wasn't about to tell him that though; he had encouraged this scenic jaunt down memory lane after all. Still, now that he was knee deep in it, John really didn't relish the reminder of last night's fubar hunt. "Nothing fucking standard about it, Dean."

Not surprisingly, Dean flinched again and John knew he'd sounded too harsh, too angry. Couldn't help it, his churning emotions were conditioned to morph into hostility at times like these. Dean had every right to balk. Always was better at reading his dad than Sam was.

"Did I mess up?" Christ, Dean sounded twelve again. Scared and small and awaiting his father's retribution. "Dad, tell me. Did I fuck up?" And all John could do was bury his face in his hands and try not to scream.

John knew it was unfair to hold out on Dean but couldn't yet form the words he needed to say. Instead, John thought about the rebelliousness that had driven him crazy the last few days. It had started nearly the instant the kid had realized they would end up within two hundred fifty miles of Stanford and had lasted right until that bastard Wellington damn near killed Dean. He thought too about Dean's lack of focus during the hunt, his distraction, the inattention, the back talk, and the petulance. . . and he came to a startling realization. That all that irritating moodiness had been a more than welcome change from the expressionless, too-obedient, too-quiet kid that had been his partner over the last number of months. Ever since John had slammed the door closed and turned his back on a departing Sam.

Dropping his hands away from his face, John finally lifted his head to meet Dean's anxious gaze. This time John didn't resist the pull. Reaching out, John answered, starting with his firm, don't mess with me timbre, "You listen to me, Dean and listen close. . . this was not your fault." He couldn't maintain his bad-ass façade though and settled his hand once again in Dean's hair, smoothing it downward until his palm rested against the juncture of Dean's neck and shoulder. Dean's eyes had closed as he leaned into his father's touch but slowly blinked open with his whispered words. "This was all my doing, son. Everything. . . it's all on me."

To be continued.

This story is being cross-posted to supernaturalfic  and  hurt_dean.

A/N: The weekend is going to be hectic so only Ch 4 will be posted then, followed by Ch 5 again on Monday.

Ch 1  Ch 2  Ch 4


Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: August 23rd, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Dean made me emo

Loved it-it's getting even better ;-P Thanks!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: August 24th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
Burgundy Dean

I'm so glad you're enjoying this and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to send your feedback. More to come, likely some time on Saturday.
Thanks a bunch!

Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: August 24th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
Ackles glee!

Oh loving it! I can't write myself out of a paperbag-lol, so it's nice to read other's work-who can ;-P I'm good for spamming-lol, but that's where it ends! Can't wait for the next chapter ;-P

Posted by: saberivojo (saberivojo)
Posted at: August 24th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)

What a great story. I love John soothing Dean, rubbing circles on his chest. Yeah, he is a hard ass but he loves his boys.
We don't often get a chance to see "warm and fuzzy" John, but that does not mean it did not happen.

Can't wait until the next chapter.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: August 25th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
Dad Dean

Thank-you! No doubt about it, John loves his boys and I think canon has shown us enough hugs and hands-on-shoulders between the brothers and their father to believe that, though they couldn't be described as touchy-feely, they also weren't afraid to be demonstrative with their feelings.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the story so far. Ch 4 should be up late Saturday if all goes to plan.

Posted by: Pheebs1 (pheebs1)
Posted at: January 11th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Jared and Jensen

I love how in section 2 you realistically showed how their lying and cover ups made Dean's lack of memory confusing.

John's realisation that a back talking kid was more welcome than a too obedient one, here, was interesting. Onto the next bit!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: January 13th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
Dean Sam

I love how in section 2 you realistically showed how their lying and cover ups made Dean's lack of memory confusing.

I can only imagine how frightening that would be, especially for a kid like Dean who is so afraid of what he perceives as failing his father.

Posted by: limpflig (quirkies)
Posted at: December 4th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)

this little piece of winchester history is a brilliant illustration of how deeply engrained their roles are. one can't move without the other two reacting. Not since Sam had started to resist and Dean had followed suit. Hurt by it, John had pulled back too, eventually realizing too late that, in Dean's case, the resistance had been his eldest's way of making Sam's rebellion seem less blatant.
oh, i adore this image! weaving strong fingers around their younger counterparts, as much gratified as he was alarmed that Dean returned his grip with interest. younger counterpart indeed.
Did I mess up? - Oh,Dean!
John knew it was unfair to hold out on Dean but couldn't yet form the words he needed to say. - I think this could be said about a lot of John's actions. Sam just didn't have the patience to let him find the right words.
It's all on me. - *wibble*
i'm enjoying this muchly!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 5th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
John Dean IMToD

I'm so glad you're enjoying the little metas within a story I threw in this fic. Though the boys don't hug or touch as much as we'd like, I think Dean and John are more demonstrative than we admit to ourselves and Sam always seemed the most awkward to me which largely drove that little "scene" you quoted. John is certainly more demonstrative than my dad (retired army, fwiw) and my father had "daughters".

Though I certainly don't expect you to single out quotes or sections for each chapter I love that you did here... it's been such a while since I've read the fic, I was reading your quotes practically objectively and appreciating and enjoying the words from the perspective of a reader. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked what you pulled out up there ;)

Thank-you so much for your enthusiasm {{hugs}}