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May Robinson [userpic]

Fic Update: Armistice (ch 5 of 9)

August 26th, 2007 (12:52 pm)
irritated

how i am: irritated
accompanied by: barking dogs (mine)

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 5 of 9.
Rating: T (PG-13), language.
Pairing: None, Gen, Dean and John Winchester
Spoilers: None.
Notes: Thanks to Penny, Heather and Jennie for helping to make this a better fic. My Sunday was freed up so I plan on posting the remainder of the story today. 
Disclaimers: See my profile page.

Armistice
by May Robinson

Chapter 5 - Skirmish

"Hey, what went on out there?" Dean asked as John walked back into his son's room. He'd hoped Dean hadn't managed to hear any of his profuse apology to Sister Carol for cracking up on her outside the door. The woman really did have patience and understanding down to an art-form. She had taken John's behavior in stride, blamed it on the stress and he hadn't denied it - hell, knew it was true - before they went their separate ways.

"Nothing, dude. How you feeling?" John asked, leaning against the wall opposite the bed and hoping his deflection was successful.

"Fine. What did Sister Carol want?" Crash and burn.

Scrubbing a hand through his still damp hair, John then pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to quell the sudden urge to laugh yet again. The irritated scowl Dean was wearing rivaled anything John had ever seen reflected back at him in a mirror. Not very sweet, if you asked his opinion. Regaining his control, he answered, "No big deal, sport. She just had some good things to say and didn't want to risk your head starting to swell again if she said them in front of you."

Apparently ignoring the dig, John was rewarded with a grin from Dean. "Hah, women. . . they all love me."

"Uh huh. . . practicing your humility, I see."

"Hey, when you got it--"

"Yeah, yeah, just remember who gave it to you," John countered, thoroughly enjoying the teasing and banter that had been absent between them for months.

"Well, it couldn't've been you," Dean deadpanned. "Unless you call what you did with the coffee and, oh yeah, the stuttering, workin' your mojo."

"She's a nun, Dean," John ground out, a hint of don't go there mixed with good humor in his tone as he stalked toward his son. "Married to God and all that." Expecting something along the lines of a smartass "so what", John dove in first, equally straight-faced, "I'd like to think that's one vow you'd respect."

The change in Dean was so sudden, color leaching from his face almost as though he was about to pass out, John's first instinct was to hit the call button. Instead, Dean's words froze him in his tracks.

"I don't screw married women, Dad." Gone was the laughter that had briefly found its way into Dean's voice. Instead, John's son sounded hurt and pissed off. "I wouldn't do that."

Shit. Truth be told, John never really thought about Dean's choices when it came to women. Tried not to think about it. Years ago, once he'd realized his chick-magnet of a son wasn't likely to keep it in his pants, John had passed on just a few grains of wisdom: to always use protection in the conventional sense and, to watch out for and protect himself against the likes of succubi and rusalki and their ilk. Beyond that, he really, really didn't want to know what his skirt-chasing son was up to.

Despite recognizing that Dean's strong reaction to the vow crack was more than likely due at least in part to post-concussive mood swings, the hurt expression his son still wore was forcing John to replay and reconsider his words. And in doing so, it didn't take him very long at all to come up with a theory he felt explained the moral code he'd honestly had no idea his son was operating under. It was simple, really and it swelled John's chest with pride at the same time it broke his heart. . . Dean wouldn't risk being responsible for a man losing his wife. No way in hell would he play any role in a family falling apart. John should have known that.

"Dean--" John started, struggling with what to say. "I get it. And I should've known better, all right?" It was the best John could do. He hoped his voice, the meaning behind his inadequate words, would reveal how awful John felt.

Dean hadn't made eye contact with John since making his declaration but, with John's apology, his eyes lifted and their gazes met. After everything he'd seen over the last two-plus decades, John Winchester didn't surprise very easily, but the intensity of the anger now etched on Dean's features startled the hell out of him. What the fuck?

"Yeah, you damn well should have," his son responded and, though instinct promptly put John's back up, rankling at the accusing words and insubordination, he tried to focus on the positive, the momentary relief that blossomed in his chest that the fire and intensity missing from Dean was making a comeback. He'd let the snarkiness go. . . this time.

To an extent.

"I'm gonna blame that attitude you're handing me on your concussion and let it go. Do not get used to it though, you hear me?"

"Don't do me any favors."

"Jesus, Dean!" Okay, the kid was making this damn hard. He wondered briefly if another side-effect of Dean's concussion was the ability to channel Sam.

"Don't Dean me either," he snapped in response. John caught the resultant wince but chose to ignore it.

John could feel his blood pressure rising, heat surging through his veins. His senses were heightening in this foreign territory, as though he was in the middle of a hunt. He suppressed it, willing himself to calm. This was just Dean -- hurt, hospitalized and still very ill. Don't blame him, it's the concussion talking, becoming the mantra looping through John's mind.

"Then what exactly do you want me to say?" He couldn't hold back the frustration though, but at least his own anger was now held in check.

"For starters you can stop lying to me!" That response was so completely unexpected, John was sure he must have looked like an idiot, what with the stunned expression he had to be wearing. Before he could gather his wits to ask, Dean continued. "Where do you get off?"

"All right, that's--!" John stopped the fury. He honestly didn't know what was going on and was starting to worry. The emotions playing across Dean's features ran the gamut, from anger to hurt, confusion to condescension, and everything in between. Not to mention it was obvious that these outbursts were physically taking their toll. John didn't have a clue but he knew one thing, losing his temper like he had so often with Sammy - too often - was not the answer. Had never been the answer. "Dean, come on," he spoke softly, wanting to calm Dean down yet unable to hide the anxiety from his voice. "You got me at a real disadvantage here. What in the hell are you talking about?"

As quickly as Dean's anger had escalated, it seemed to deflate even faster. Sighing heavily, he sunk deeper into his pillows. "The hunt," he answered forlornly. Signs of further confrontation gone, as though they'd never existed. "You said I didn't mess up. But I remember now. . . I did. I fucked up."

Shit. John had really hoped to avoid this conversation, particularly while Dean was still recovering. His son had gone from livid to miserable faster than the Impala from zero to sixty and John felt like he had whiplash. He just was not used to walking on eggshells. For anyone.

Rubbing both hands over his face, pressing the heels into his eye-sockets, John took his seat next to the bed. He suspected Dean's memory might still have holes, considered what he was going to say and decided he'd stick with what he'd told his son in the first place. He'd just have to elaborate a little. "I never said you didn't make mistakes, Dean," he started, intensely focused on Dean.

Clearly confused, Dean spoke up, "But you said--?"

"I said it wasn't your fault," John cut in. "I meant it."

"All due respect, sir, but that's bullshit."

"Excuse me?" John blurted, unsure now whether he should be pissed or laugh.

"I mean, come on, Dad. If I hadn't been giving you such a hard time instead of actually doing my job, I might've noticed that whackjob coming after us."

Not us, kiddo. You. The memory Dean's words invoked sickened John and he felt a shudder travel his spine. Despite resolutely trying to shuffle thoughts of Wellington's spirit attacking Dean to the back of his mind he didn't miss how hard Dean was being on himself. That was typical Dean though. Always his own worst critic, tougher than he ever had to be. Wanting to nip the kid's self-loathing in the bud, John decided he'd have to push harder than he'd hoped would be necessary. "Dean, let me ask you something. . . "

"Yeah."

"Last time you checked, who was running this show?"

"You, sir. But--"

"Enough," John interrupted, raising a hand in what was clearly a signal from father to son to shut his cake-hole. "No buts. I've got the command, I take the heat. End of story."

Dean sighed, sinking even further into the bed, his entire being radiating misery and defeat. Wanting to placate him, John added, "Dean, we both screwed up, all right. Let our tempers get the better of us in the middle of a hunt. I never should have let that happen, never should have left you alone up there knowing your mind wasn't on the hunt. That's my responsibility. Not yours."

"Yeah, well. It's not like you have a choice anymore." John cringed at Dean's soft, utterly despondent response. The words Dean spoke held truth but John did not want this talk to head anywhere in Sam's direction right now. He regretted not facing the reality of their proximity to Sam before the hunt but, at this moment, Dean was wearing down, the dark hollows under his eyes looking more pronounced, as though he'd been punched. John sure as hell wasn't treading Sammy waters right now.

"Yeah, about that," he said, schooling his features into a half-assed smirk, hoping what he had to say next would help. "While you've been getting your beauty rest, I've been doing some thinking and it occurred to me you've already come up with a solution. . ."

John was gratified to see Dean's interest piqued, curiosity putting some color back into his complexion. "Okay, Captain Cryptic, it's my turn, you've totally lost me."

John couldn't contain his grin, the corners of his mouth upturning as he lightly brushed his knuckles against the fringes of Dean's hair. "Yeah, well, you've got one hell of a good excuse, dude, so why don't you let me spell it out for you?"

Palms up, arms spread wide, "Captive audience here, I'm all yours," he replied, before settling them across his chest in obvious anticipation.

He was acting so much more like the real Dean right now, it was almost impossible to fathom the kid's outburst of just moments before. This rollercoaster ride would soon pass, John reminded himself. He would just have to hang on tight and ride it out.

"Your EMF meter," John explained. The kid's forehead creased in confusion, but he kept quiet, so John elaborated. "From now on, we turn it on when we're digging graves. It's a substitute for that extra lookout we need." The now that Sam's gone remained unspoken.

Dean was definitely more alert, though uncertainty still shadowed his expression. "But I didn't think you had any use for it?"

"Christ, Dean, we just used it at Wellington's house, didn't we?"

"No, sir," Dean countered. "I used it at the house. You pretty much ignored it."

A picture was beginning to form in John's mind. The image of a shy, uncertain freckle-faced little boy, very much in need of his father's praise and reassurance. He'd thought that child was long gone and in his place stood a cocksure, oft times astonishingly capable, twenty-five year old smartass. John forgot too often that those boys were one and the same. Funny how that same kid confined to a hospital bed could kick-start a father's memory though.

"Dean, do you honestly think I'd let you spend three days fucking around with the thing back at Jim's if I didn't believe you'd make it work?" Dean seemed to be at a loss for words, though the pink hue starting to warm his cheeks was speaking volumes. John was pretty pleased with himself. Not only had he avoided a painful Sammy discussion but he also just managed to make his sick kid feel better.

"You really don't think it was a waste of time?"

"Of course not, why? You fishin' for a medal?"

"No, but a merit badge would be cool."

"Do I honestly look like a Scout leader to you?" John grumbled jokingly, more than thrilled he'd been able to draw Dean up from the pits of this downward mood swing and into some verbal sparring. He knew with Dean's injury, more emotional peaks and valleys were inevitable but he'd still revel in the victories. No matter how small.

Straightening in his chair, John opened his jacket wider, pulling out two rolled up magazines from its inside pocket. "In the meantime, here," he said as he lightly tossed them onto Dean's lap. "These don't exactly qualify under electronics but consider them your reward as master of all things mechanical."

John's words were lighthearted but the pride and respect was heartfelt. The awkward silence left in its wake told him that Dean knew it too. Damn kid. . . wanted the praise so badly but didn't have a clue what to do with it once he got it.

"Awesome, thanks." Dean finally spoke, wearing a genuine grin as he quickly flipped through the pages of the magazines. They were latest editions of Hot Rod and Muscle Car and John couldn't help but notice that Dean was lifting them up to his face to view them, keeping his head completely still. Another reminder that any head movement at all still hurt like a sonofabitch.

That realization took some of the wind out of John's sails and he found himself slumping further into the chair his ass was starting to consider home, second only to the Impala. His own exhaustion was definitely beginning to catch up with him. Reaching across the rail, John grasped both magazines and forced them, along with Dean's hands, down onto the kid's lap. "Just look at the pictures for now, son. I don't want you trying to read yet."

"Hell, orders like those and you didn't pick me up a Playboy?" Despite the wisecrack, Dean didn't offer any resistance and abandoned the periodicals in his lap. At the sound of a slightly irritated "Dean" coming from John, he did offer up a blatant lie. "I'm all right," he said, slowly rolling his head to directly meet his father's gaze. "Just tired. M'head hurts."

Like it ever stopped. It occurred to John then that Dean had been awake talking with the sister the entire time he'd been away. Over two hours, which was by far the longest stint he'd lasted since getting hurt. With that realization came another. . . despite it having been Dean's idea for John to leave; he was now sure his son had been waiting for him, might have even been too uptight to go to sleep without John being there. Damn, this concussion was messing with Dean in too many ways to count; only now it was being more subtle about it. John would have to stay diligent, watch for signs.

"Well, then, if that's the case. . ." John began, watching Dean watch him and speaking softly while well-practiced hands unlocked and lowered the guardrail again. Gently slipping the extra pillows out from behind Dean's head, he continued. "Why don't we do something about that?" John now had the bed's remote control in one hand, pressing the button to return Dean to horizontal. In spite of John's vigilance, Dean whimpered briefly at the motion of the bed, biting into his lower lip to cut off the sound and John hesitated, reaching with his free hand to rest it on Dean's nearest shoulder before continuing the downward momentum. "Close your eyes, you're okay." Redundant, since Dean was squeezing them shut anyway. They remained sealed tight until fluttering wide when John removed his hand from Dean's shoulder, adjusted the blanket covering his son and then rested his arm alongside Dean's. Dean watched in silence, blinking slowly but not succumbing to sleep until John finally said, "Go to sleep, Dean. That's an order," followed by a whispered oath, "I'm not going anywhere."

 

To be continued in Chapter 6  

Back to Ch 1   To Ch 2   To Ch 3   To Ch 4

This fic is being cross-posted to  supernaturalfic  and  hurt_dean

Comments

Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: August 26th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)

Such love for this story!!!! Thanks!!
*Hugs*

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: August 26th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Bros on set

LOL, you're making me grin! So glad you're having fun with this fic!

Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: August 26th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)

*G* I am enjoying this so much! It's rare I get into a fic this much-so for that this is well worth the wait!
*Hugs*

Posted by: Pheebs1 (pheebs1)
Posted at: January 12th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
67 Impala

The section that was the subject of our discussion! I am interested in Dean's strong reaction here - I agree with you I think Dean sticks to a certain moral code all of his own.

I esp. love however, the discussion of the EMF Meter. For me, you nail the relationship between John and Dean (well how he treats both sons with it). Dean thinks John thinks the EMF Meter is a waste of time (poor Dean!). John thinks by letting Dean play with it, that's enough approval.

"You really don't think it was a waste of time?"

"Of course not, why? You fishin' for a medal?"

"No, but a merit badge would be cool."

"Do I honestly look like a Scout leader to you?"


Awesome exchange, gets the heart of it, I really think.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: January 13th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Dean Golden

I agree with you I think Dean sticks to a certain moral code all of his own.

Dean may not operate within our boundaries but I'm sure he has his own. I hope I never get Kripke'd here because I'd love to think that Dean's mindset is to not knowingly screw around with married women.

Awesome exchange, gets the heart of it, I really think

I'm so glad you enjoyed that *g*. This exchange was very much at the heart of the story, a driving force, if you will. For the reasons you mention above and also to show how Dean was not solely the so-called soldier boy fandom often accuses John of turning him into, but rather the independent hunter John trusts to be capable to hunt safely on his own.

Posted by: limpflig (quirkies)
Posted at: December 5th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
dean

praise for the emf meter!!! aww! that was one of my favorite moments of early season 1. *sigh* i'm glad john appreciated it. *thwacks sammy*
i'm loving this study of dean. he's just out of it enough to reveal more than he'd like. i liked his outrage at the thought of going for a married woman. and john's attitude towards dean's sex life was hilarious. :D

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 5th, 2008 04:40 am (UTC)
GIF Dean Halo

Oh, yeah, Sam deserves a smack for not recognizing the brilliance of Dean's EMF meter. Little brothers truly can be ungrateful pains in the ass!

So happy you liked my ideas about Dean here when it comes to women. We know he's a slut and, if Kripke writes him sleeping with a married woman, *I* certainly wouldn't feel outraged but, I personally think he would have that code given his family history. I also think John, being a man's man, would've resigned himself early on to Dean's looks and success with bedding girls/women. Marine or boyscout, I envision hive to live by a "be prepared" motto and would pass that on to his son, no matter how awkward the conversation ;)

Thanks again for your lovely comments ♥

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 5th, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
GIF Pilot Smack

*thwacks sammy*


Ask and yee shall receive ;)

Posted by: limpflig (quirkies)
Posted at: December 13th, 2008 07:42 am (UTC)
smirk

he heh!
&hearts