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May Robinson [userpic]

Fic Update: Armistice (ch 7 of 9)

August 26th, 2007 (03:02 pm)
how i am: determined
accompanied by: Chilliwack, Baby Blue

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 7 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.  
Disclaimers: See my profile page.


by May Robinson

Chapter 7 - Deployment

They'd been traveling southwest along I-80 when John started paying attention to the upcoming Sacramento exits. Eagle 96.9 was playing Hotel California, though the radio was turned down so low that Don Henley's voice was barely discernable over the asphalt-eating rumbling of the Impala. He'd wanted the city behind him before pulling over but, in an effort to keep the ride as smooth as possible, he'd been driving slower by far than the norm. Had Dean been aware, he no doubt would've had something to say about the continued geriatric behavior of his old man. The kid was oblivious though, two hours into the trip and he hadn't uttered a sound since protesting his banishment to the backseat when they'd first left St. Mary's.

John had barely merged onto the interstate outside of Reno before Dean had been out like a light. He tried not to worry, telling himself that hurt or not, this was just what Dean did. As much as John knew his son's love for the car spawned his obsessive insistence on being behind its wheel, the father was also well aware of another much simpler reason for it: that ever since Dean was a baby, riding in the Impala could always put him under better than any tranquilizer on the market.

Fond memories of his and Mary's discovery of that trick brought a smile to John's face. Dean hadn't been home a month from the hospital when a bout with colic had sent the first-time parents into a panic John would just as soon never admit to a soul. Their baby boy had started shrieking inconsolably and, even after nearly four hours, nothing Mary or John had tried to do could soothe the little guy. Dean wouldn't sleep at all and had screamed his little lungs out, his tiny, perfect lips nearly blue from lack of oxygen. Petrified, the new parents had loaded their infant into the car, John speeding toward Lawrence Memorial with the Chevy's engine gunning for all it was worth.

Not five minutes into the drive, Dean had started to calm and though he'd still hiccupped some discomfort, his rigid body had relaxed and his color had returned to its natural pink. By the time they'd reached the hospital, he was sleeping peacefully. Quick studies, the young family had frequently gone on short drives to help calm everyone's nerves after that, particularly once Dean had started teething. Sometimes, to give Mary a break, father and son would go on little excursions, just the two of them. And Dean would sleep peacefully in his car-seat while his dad softly sang along to the best of southern rock.

If John had already held too much of an attachment to the Impala prior to the birth of his first child, the sedan's value increased tenfold once Dean had come along. It was no wonder his son loved the car, he certainly came by it honestly.

John knew that the sleep inducing quality of the Impala never changed for Dean. As a child, he could never do homework or read in the car without passing out and, even once he got older, research was pretty much out of the question too. Fact was, if Dean wasn't in the driver's seat, or leading a conversation from the passenger seat, he was out cold.

Despite this knowledge, John was still unnerved by the stillness behind him. Several glances in the rearview - angled not for optimal driving conditions but rather to give him a glimpse of his son - showed him the same image every time: Dean curled on his side, huddled beneath a blanket, his head on a pillow borrowed from the motel. If John allowed his gaze to linger, he could spot the black stitches and mottled bruising stark against the smooth skin of Dean's forehead. He couldn't allow it though, banishing the distraction from his sight and thoughts. Ruminating over past mistakes would hardly be a forgivable excuse if he ended up wrecking Dean's car.

Eyeing a gas station with ample parking to make a pit stop, John signaled his turn and then reached behind him and lightly slapped the back of the seat a couple of times, giving Dean a chance to wake and orient himself. "Up and at 'em, sunshine, we're pullin' over."

Dean didn't react at all so John tried again but when neither sound nor movement breached the bench seat barrier between them, John could feel the pounding of adrenaline start to pump through his veins. Shouting, "Come on, Dean, Come on. Wake your ass up!" He pulled into the parking area, nearly taking out the oncoming Mini that managed to live up to its name and fit into the blind spot between the Impala's front and passenger side windows. "Fuck!" He cursed, swerving to avoid the piss-ant car, and skidded to a stop at the nearest curb, away from incoming and outgoing traffic, so that he could check on his son. 

Scrambling out of the Impala, John swung the back door nearest Dean's head open wide, yelling Dean's name once again then practically stuttering to a stop as he was met with the bed-headed and bewildered appearance of his oldest. "Dad, what the fuck?"

"Dean," John breathed, suddenly finding himself sinking until his butt was planted on the curb just outside of the car.

Scrubbing a hand across his face, Dean left it there, pressing it against his brow. "What's going on?" Dean rasped, confusion and pain pinching his features.

"You weren't waking up." The words came out clipped, an accusation and John forcibly reined in his flaring temper. Once again his fear was morphing into something more volatile and he stopped himself before he let himself take it out on Dean. Sucking in a few calming breaths, his voice was shakier than he would've cared to admit when he added, "You had me worried there, kiddo."

"So, slamming me against the front seat was supposed to help?"

Dean's look was incredulous but John knew what his son was doing. Using humor and sarcasm to let his dad off the hook, absolve him of any blame while still acknowledging the fuck-up. It was a familiar game between father and son and though John knew there were times when he should step up and apologize, he also knew doing so would be too uncomfortable for both of them. So he did what he usually did, grabbed the ball and played along. "Got your attention, didn't it?"

"Next time try texting me," Dean groaned, bringing up both arms and crossing them over his brow, eyes closed beneath them as he sunk back deeper into the seat. As though suddenly remembering the purpose behind their trip, his arms abruptly dropped to his sides as his eyes flew open and he blurted, "Shit, where are we? What time is it?"

John placed a restrictive palm against Dean's chest. "Cool your jets, sport, we're just east of Sacramento and there's plenty of time left on the clock."

"A short way to go and a long time to get there," Dean murmured in response and John would have laughed at the mangled Smokey and the Bandit lyric if not for the fact that the kid had just closed his eyes as though getting back to sleep was next on the agenda. Before John could correct him though, Dean's face worked itself into a thoughtful frown and he muttered, "Did you say Sacramento?" Followed by, "Guess it's time to play Who Wants to be a Millionaire then, huh, Regis?"

This time John did laugh, relief flooding him with the knowledge that Dean's memory for distances and travel times was clearly working at a hundred percent, as was his penchant for pop culture references. "Hey, back up now, wasn't I just the Bandit?"

"Uh uh, no way. I'm the Bandit," he protested, eyes actually sparkling, hinting at a mischief John hadn't seen in months. "I've got the hot car, you've got the truck." Dean grinned then, despite his still obvious discomfort, pointed to his father and added smugly, "You're Jerry Reed."

"So that must make Sam Fred," John offered and then winced as the oxygen was immediately siphoned from the earth's atmosphere. Nice going, Winchester, you stupid ass. Did you forget you banished that son?

A year ago John's comeback would've been appreciated. Not only because Sam's shaggy mop and puppy dog eyes were definitely fodder for a comparison with the loveable hound, but also because of the good feelings brought on by fond memories of the movie. Memories of two giggling boys huddled against either side of their father, eating pizza and popcorn in bed and rooting for Jerry, Sally and good ole boy Burt. The three Winchester men laughing at the crashes and getaways, while Dean and his dad drooled over the sweet Trans Am that damn near stole the movie.

But there was no beer in Texarkana today. Not with so much water under the bridge and especially not with an injured and addled Dean who did not need the reminder of what would likely never be again thrown in his face. Sobering immediately, John changed the subject, back to business. "Let's do that Q 'n A, son. Get back on the road. Daylight's burning."

Given how well Dean was remembering his movie trivia and geography, the question session was more than a little redundant as far as John was concerned. After making his "Sam as a Bassett Hound" blunder though, John really didn't have a clue what to say to make things better so, at least following Doctor Rowe's instructions gave him a convenient, if abrupt, segue.

His knees and back protested as he picked himself up off the curb but John needed to take a good look at Dean, check his pupils as well as gauge how easily he'd respond to the questions asked of him. Thankfully the back seat area rivaled a hockey rink so John had enough room to crawl into the back, squat next to Dean and hover appropriately.

"Dude, personal space," Dean protested, as John pulled a penlight from an inside pocket and leaned in toward the kid's face, the pall that had settled over them once again subdued by Dean's willingness to forgive and crack a joke all in one fell swoop.

"Eyes front," John ordered, ignoring the wisecrack, and Dean capitulated, any further protests expressed only with a weary sigh.

"So, what's the verdict?" He asked, blinking rapidly as John shut off the offending beam.

"We're making progress," John answered, pleased with what he saw. The improvement from twenty-four hours before was definite. He wasn't about to give Dean anything remotely resembling the green light to freedom though. "I think we can safely downgrade you from a dinner plate to a saucer," he added, Dean's unappreciative scowl prompting a returned smile from his dad. "All right, give me your birth date?"

"January 24th, 1979," Dean answered, sounding very bored.

"And where were we bunking before heading to Reno?"

"Jim's place," Dean replied, continuing when John asked for more details. "You know. . . Jim Murphy, Blue Earth, Minnesota. Dude's got grey hair, a grey beard, wears a funny collar and has one hell of an awesome arsenal."

"Can't argue that. Okay, so give me the Impala's plate number?" To liven things up a bit, John decided he'd discard the list given to him by Dean's doctor and just wing it. He was rewarded with an eye roll this time.

"KAZ 2Y5." And then Dean added, just to prove a point no doubt, "The Sierra's is CSG 8R3."

Kid could never be accused of not being observant. "Okay, hotshot, tell me which Skynyrd album was released right before the crash?"

Much to John's surprise, Dean actually looked stumped. And then a little hurt. "C'mon, Dad, concussion boy here, remember?" Dean was almost sulking now and warning bells were starting to go off in John's head yet again.

"Christ, Dean, you know this," John pressed, unwilling to give up any quarter when he wanted to believe, despite the killer headache he knew his son still had, that Dean was doing so much better now. He had to believe it; otherwise the concept of leading him into the lion's den of a Winchester family reunion was just too daunting. "You know you do," he insisted. "Just think, damn it."

For someone who could think on his feet as quickly as Dean Winchester, his father couldn't help feeling twinges of unease as he watched Dean close eyes that seconds before had expressed hurt and irritation and then purse his lips in obvious concentration. When those lips started moving though, without uttering a sound, John realized that Dean was mentally listing the band's albums. When he came to the fifth, he smiled triumphantly and proclaimed, "Street Survivors."

"That's my boy," John praised, giving the kid's forearm a squeeze and beaming as though watching Dean hit ten of ten targets for the first time. His memory was getting better which meant he was getting better. It would just take some more time was all.

Rummaging through the duffel bag on the floor near his feet, John pulled out a bottle of spring water and Dean's woefully inadequate meds. Twisting off the caps of both, he tapped three Tylenol into his palm and then handed everything over to Dean. His son's color drained as he moved to sit up and John cursed himself for being so optimistic that he forgot Dean's frailty. "Freeze," he demanded, stilling Dean's movements with his hands and voice.

"Good plan," Dean groaned, now pressing the bottle of water against his forehead, eyes slammed shut yet again. "Sonofabitch."

"Bad?" John asked, concern softening his voice.

"I'll live," Dean practically croaked. "Just may not enjoy it for a few more days."

"Damn it, Dean." The uncharacteristic admission had John damn near ready to head for the nearest hospital.

Dean opened his eyes, met his father's with a soft, completely uncalled for apologetic gaze. "I'm okay, Dad."

"Better be," John said, more to himself than Dean, then reached forward and worked his arm beneath Dean's pillow. "Okay, let me do the work. Take a drink."

Dean allowed John to raise the pillow a few inches and his head and neck had no choice but to follow. Again John didn't like Dean's fading color, but at least this time he was able to swallow the Tylenols with some water. "That gonna stay down?"

"Yeah, I'm good," Dean answered, though panting slightly.

"Uh huh." John didn't really believe him but for both their sakes, he'd humor Dean. Changing the subject, he said, "I pulled into a rest stop. You need to hit the head before we get out of Dodge?" He was still supporting Dean, not wanting to lie him down if he was going to have to get up again. When he was going to have to get up again.

"Nah, I'm good," he repeated. Clearly that minimal amount of movement had taken its toll. John felt sick knowing he was about to ask so much more. He'd made up his mind though and nothing was going to change it.

Applying a light but steady pressure to the back of Dean's neck, he prodded, "All right, come on then. I want you up front with me this time. . . Before I drive us into a tree." The latter he hadn't actually meant to say out loud.

"You want me where?" Dean sounded incredulous, signs of misery surpassed by looks of confusion and definitely irritation. John couldn't blame him. After all, it had been his insistence that had relegated Dean to the back in the first place.

John was never very good when it came to justifying his actions or decisions though. When he tried, the words always came out harsh. Like now. "Look, I can't hear you back here." John kept the and that terrifies the hell out of me to himself. Dean didn't need to hear how his lack of response just minutes earlier had scared his father shitless.

Of course John knew full well that Dean had it figured out anyway, could read John as well or better than even his mother ever had. Would no doubt give him a hard time about it too. "And somehow that's my fault?" The kid was definitely testy.

"I didn't say that. The fucking engine drowns everything out."

"Don't listen to him, baby."

Oh, for God's sake. Dean had practically cooed the words, stroking the seatback beside him as though it was the family pet. Yup, Dean knew his old man was being a pussy, so John was going to get tormented in return. In truth it was probably a fair trade but John had no intention of letting Dean in on that.

"Dean. Can it," he growled. "Let's do this."



They were both being bitchy but John knew it was for the same reason. Neither was looking forward to this next ordeal. If rising up just a little to drink some water had hurt, getting him from the back to the front was going to be agony. "Okay, grab hold and do not let go." His gruffness deteriorating only slightly, John still retained the command in his voice. Dean needed his father to take control now, to trust that John would get him through the pain.

It was going to be awkward but John did not want to lay Dean's head back down, which would be inevitable if he climbed out of the car first, so they were going to have to get out of the car in two steps. With one arm still beneath Dean's head and neck, John raised him up a bit more, allowing his other access to Dean's back as well. Holding Dean against his chest, he began to move forward - or in Dean's case backward - sliding him along the seat toward its edge. Whether he was following orders or just reacting on instinct, Dean's arms found John's back and neck and he held on like he was drowning, a deep, guttural groan, muffled not nearly enough by its proximity to his father's neck, escaping his throat as John moved him. Christ, they hadn't even gotten to the difficult part yet and John was ready to puke.

"We're almost out, bud." John promised, as his boots met the bottom lip of the door frame. "Hang on," he instructed, waiting for Dean's affirmative and his grip to strengthen before continuing. Loosening his own grasp enough so that he could extricate the pillow sandwiched between his arm and Dean, he let it drop to the seat while he re-gripped, ensuring he had his son's head and neck supported fully. Satisfied, he maneuvered his right leg outside of the car, readying himself for step two. . . standing and pulling Dean up and out of the Impala as he did so. In one smooth, hopefully non-excruciating, motion.

Right, and wraiths are benevolent creatures.

Dean wasn't talking, if not for the panting breaths John could feel against his neck, he would've expected his son's bottom lip to be clenched firmly between his teeth by now. John wasn't sure if that was a good sign or bad. Either way, the kid was hurting and it wasn't over yet. You really are a selfish bastard, aren't you? Great, now was not the time for Sam to make a return engagement in John's head. Shaking off the thoughts and steeling himself, he whispered into Dean's hair, "You ready for this?"


Despite his response, John could feel Dean tense his whole body in anticipation. "Me neither, dude," John replied thickly, moisture welling in his eyes at the resulting huff of laughter that feathered across his throat. At that moment, John's hold on his son became a true hug and he allowed himself the indulgence, pulling him in closer and resting his cheek against Dean's hair.

Already enveloped in his father's arms, Dean couldn't have resisted if he'd tried. He didn't. In fact the grip on John's neck was so brutal, John wasn't sure if he'd felt rather than heard the murmured words, "Just get it over with, Dad. Please," coming from his son's lips. Didn't matter. It was time.

"On three," John didn't hesitate, bracing Dean against him at one.

At three both John and Dean were outside of the vehicle, John's mantra of, "Okay, okay. You're okay," failing miserably at counteracting Dean's, "Oh, fuck, fuck, Dad, fuck."

Despite the vice-like hold they had on each other, Dean still swayed on his way up and John scrambled to re-grip, to take on more of Dean's weight, to ensure they both didn't kiss the concrete.

Despite Dean's unsteadiness, John kept moving, making their way to the passenger side of the vehicle. The sooner Dean was in the front, the sooner he'd be okay again.

Downhill being easier than up, getting Dean into the front seat was still an ordeal for the kid but not quite as bad. He was sitting now, head arched back against the seat. John watched in trepidation as Dean's Adam's apple bobbed along the curve of his throat. Back at the hospital the kid hadn't had a hint of nausea for quite some time which had been the main reason for Rowe's willingness to release him. Looking at Dean now, John couldn't help but wonder bitterly (and, more than likely, irrationally) if St. Mary's just needed the spare bed. "You gonna hurl?" He asked, worried about the trembling shoulder beneath his grasp.

"No. Just give me a minute." If that croak was supposed to reassure John, it didn't. Arguing wasn't going to get them any closer to Palo Alto though so John swallowed the lump of unease clogging his throat and gave Dean's shoulder a comforting squeeze before closing the door and quickly making his way around into the driver's seat.

Waiting a few minutes for Dean to regain more control, John reached into the back, pulling the pillow and blanket over the seat. Dean made a weak grab for the pillow but John held it back, placing it next to his own leg, then pointing to it and gruffly stating, "Here."


"Lie. Down. Here," John insisted, slapping the pillow for emphasis this time.

"No freakin' way."

"It's not open for discussion, Dean."

"Oh, come on--"

"Son," John cut in harshly, then tempered his tone. It wasn't exactly the first time one of his sons had given him grief over this. Trying a new tack, he continued. "Look, your head's fucking well ready to fall off and if that's gonna happen it's less of a drop from here." He didn't even try to maintain his poker face when he added, "We might be able to salvage something."

"Oh, you're all heart, aren't you?" Dean was working his way up to accepting his fate. John knew he just needed another push.

"Think you've got me confused with someone else, sport," John replied, sounding more serious and then fairly growling, but without any punch whatsoever, "Now, Dean."

"Fine," Dean sighed, full of Sammy-like exasperation, as he slumped sideways along the seatback, sliding down toward an unsuspecting John.

"Shit," John swore, lunging for Dean as the kid impersonated a groaning redwood being felled in dense cover. He had too much faith in his father's reflexes but John did catch him, guiding his head onto the pillow until Dean was settled on his left side, knees bent at sharp angles and his boots pushed up against the passenger door.

Despite the tension releasing barbs they'd just exchanged, given what Dean had suffered getting out of the car, John knew damn well that changing altitude again had hurt like holy hell. Aside from trying to avoid the very real potential of Dean tossing his breakfast all over the seat and floor-mats, John truly did want to make this as easy on him as possible.

He was overreacting. No doubt about it. But Dean not springing awake, ready-for-action, like he usually was when John woke him up, had genuinely freaked his father out. Having Dean up front with him meant he could keep a closer eye on him, check on him without having to pull over, make sure he was still breathing. . .


Melodramatic much? Okay, so maybe John was losing it. He now had two voices in his head and they both belonged to his sons.

So be it. It wasn't the first time a full-grown Dean had been forced to sleep like this. It had been a cruel twist of nature that had Sam's long limbs trumping Dean's claim for backseat sleeping seniority by the time Sammy was sixteen. It had been one of the driving forces behind John handing over the Impala keys to Dean. Neither John nor his sons could be considered small and the Impala had simply finally been outgrown by their family. But John could never have sold it and knew in his heart that, like his father, Dean would never outgrow his attachment to the car. So Bobby found John the Sierra and Dean was given the Impala. John would never regret it. Hell, even Sammy had approved.

Before totally losing himself in any further sentimental introspection, John added covering Dean with the blanket and tucking it around him to his list of sappy, grandmotherly acts. Dean pushed John's hands away, grumbling something about no longer being five, but John chose to ignore him. . . aside from adding insult to injury and lightly patting the kid's hair as he told Dean to be a good boy and get some more shut-eye. That earned him the exasperated yet resigned sigh he'd been expecting. Satisfied that he'd sufficiently tormented his son, John popped in one of Dean's mix tapes and hit the road again. And, by the time I-80 crossed number five, Dean was sleeping peacefully while his dad lightly tapped his fingers to the best of southern rock.


Additional notes: Lyrics to East Bound and Down, the Smokey and the Bandit theme, have been borrowed (and mangled) without the permission of Mr. Jerry Reed.

To Chapter 8   

Back to Ch 1   Ch 2   Ch 3   Ch 4   Ch 5   Ch 6

This fic is being cross-posted to 

supernaturalfic and hurt_dean.



Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: August 26th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Dean has Sue's number-mine don't take!

This is awesome-you've really got their characters down to a T!

Posted by: limpflig (quirkies)
Posted at: December 13th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)

oh, poor hurt dean! and john's panic and subsequent descent into grandmotherliness is funny and poignant. loved his memories of the boys.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
John Dark

Thank-you again :). I think John harbors so much guilt - about Mary and his sons - that though he may be self assured when it comes to hunting, doubt about his family must plague him all the time. The decision to cave in to Dean's wishes for this drive would've been hard so, to then see Dean in pain or unresponsive, that would terrify him in ways the hunt simply never could.