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Part II
blue moon
kaylennz

Sam watched as Dean disappeared into the house without a backward glance. He walked back to his car in a daze of mixed emotions. While he was elated to have made contact with his brother, his heart felt heavy with loss. It appeared he had lost his chance. Dean had moved on without him. The man he loved was married to someone else…and had a child. Dean was a father. A father!

On auto-pilot, Sam started the car but remained frozen behind the wheel. He had no idea how long he sat there lost in thought.  When, eventually, a neighbor eyed him curiously as she walked her black lab in the opposite direction it was enough to get him moving. 

For over an hour, he drove aimlessly before being drawn back to the quiet little street. Feeling less conspicuous under the cover of darkness, Sam parked in nearly the same spot. He just couldn’t bring himself to abandon hope. 

A low, pink glow from an upstairs window allowed Sam to easily identify Isabella’s room. Movement on the ground floor indicated that Dean was still up and about. Sam managed to catch brief glimpses of him at various windows before the lights were extinguished just before 10:00. Unable to move, Sam just sat there, staring at the house. 

A shadow interrupted the pink glow of Isabella's room and once again withdrew. Sam sighed when he saw no other lights. He was just thinking about calling it a night and getting some shut-eye himself when movement in an upstairs window caught his attention. Dressed comfortably in a t-shirt and sweatpants, Dean climbed through the second story window and sat on the eave over the breezeway. It was a corner of the house that would normally have been shadowed, if not for the nearly full moon. Sam watched as Dean took a swallow from a long necked bottle of beer.

The sight of his brother offered a contentment that was at complete odds with the roiling emotions that threatened to unbalance him. Without taking his eyes from Dean, Sam reached for his cell phone and speed-dialed his father, willing the man to pick up. He needed answers now.

As if he'd been waiting for Sam's call, John picked up on the second ring.

"Dad." The whispered word held all of the day's worth of anguish. 

He heard his father sigh, then, "I know, son. I know." And Sam could hear it in the man's voice, and knew that John was the only other person who could possibly hope to understand what he was feeling right now.

John let him have a long moment of silence to collect himself before saying, "He looks good, doesn't he."

"Yeah,” Sam agreed. "He does. He looks real...good." There was a lump in Sam's throat that deepened his voice with emotion. John tactfully ignored it. 

"Where's..." Sam had to start again, stumbling over the word wife even in his mind, vividly recalling the gold band on Dean's left hand. "Where's...?"

He stalled again, unable to say it. Thankfully, John understood. 

"Jenna,” John supplied the name Sam had been dreading to hear. There was a lilt to the name, followed by a long sigh that had Sam on alert. "His wife's name was Jenna." 

"Jenna,” Sam said, testing the name out. It took a minute for the import of John's last few words to wash over him. "Wait. What do you mean was?"

When John remained silent, Sam's dampened hope surged, clashing uncomfortably with sudden dread. It made for a nauseating mixture in the pit of his stomach.

"Dad?" He couldn't stand not knowing. His father's voice was low and quiet when he continued.

"Jenna was a nurse at the hospital in Millidge. Usually worked first shift." Sam listened intently, worried that if he interrupted, John would clam up again. "About a year and a half ago, she covered a second shift rotation so a friend could attend a wedding."

John paused before continuing and Sam knew he was getting to the heart of the matter. "She was hit head on by a drunk driver on her way home."

"Jesus." Sam said, horrified. "Dean." His eyes caressed the moonlit profile of his brother, longing to reach out to him. 

"Yeah." John agreed. "He was pretty messed up. For a long time. If it wasn't for Izzy..." His father cut off, voice uncharacteristically emotional. Sam absently noted the use of the nickname. "I'm not sure he'd have survived Jenna's death."  

"Isabella." Still a little in awe of her existence, Sam recalled an image of her looking up at him curiously as he'd snagged Spooky the cat. He continued to have a hard time with the reality of Dean being a dad. Sam had always known Dean would be an awesome father, but to be totally honest, he just never thought it would actually happen. 

"She's beautiful, isn't she?" John asked, filled with all the pride of any grandpa. 

Sam shook his head, remembering all the tiny features so reminiscent of Dean. "She's...amazing." He said truthfully. 

On the rooftop, Dean took another sip of his beer and turned to set the bottle on the windowsill. Sam tensed a little, fearing he would disappear back into the house. Foolish as it was, if he could see Dean, he felt connected to him. He relaxed when Dean laid back against the roof, knees bent, gazing at the stars.

"She's got Mary's hair and Dean's bone structure." John continued. "Deadly combination, that. Gonna be a heartbreaker for sure." Just like her daddy.  Sam was shocked into silence at the mere mention of his mother, not to mention the softness in John's voice as he continued to muse on his granddaughter.

Sam listened with one ear even as he let his thoughts drift to Dean, to how nice it would be to lie next to that warm body, to run his hand across the smooth planes of his brother's stomach. To gently kiss soft, sinful lips. It was a desire for comfort and closeness that superseded anything sexual.

"God, I miss him Dad." The full longing wrapped in those words could not be denied. 

"I know, Sam." John replied in the hard voice Sam was used to, the same words spoken only moments before now held a different meaning.

"No, you don't." Sam countered tightly, in no mood to be told once again that there was no place for him in Dean's life.  

"You think this has been easy for me?" There was an edge of warning in that voice that Sam recognized. "I've been watching over that boy, my boy, for five years. Five years, Sam. Do you have any idea what it's like to have to watch from a distance as your child suffers and struggles? To know in your soul the deep pain that comes from losing the one and only woman you've ever loved and not be able to offer a word or touch of comfort? Do you?"

Sam swallowed, duly chastised, while John regrouped.

"Where are you?" John asked in a swift and sudden change of topic, firm hold on his emotions once again. “At the hotel?”

“No.” It was all Sam offered, but it was enough. 

“Sam.” John’s disapproval laced the word. “Tell me you’re not where I think you are.”

His silence was answer enough. He heard John sigh again, could envision the man running a hand through his hair. A habit that Dean had picked up over the years.   To Sam’s surprise, John’s tone of voice changed.

“Is he on the roof?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Sam’s surprise at the question was reflected in his response. The urge to ask, How do you know these things? flared and was quickly suppressed. John had always been just as good as Sam, but in an entirely different way, when it came to research. It was an area of mutual respect between them. One of the few that remained. 

“Isabella’s night-light still pink?” John's need to catalogue the tiniest of details never ceased to surprise Sam. He could just as easily been preparing for a hunt. You got silver rounds in that chamber, son?  

“Yep.” Sam's mouth twitched, finding that particular question from his grizzly bear of a father somewhat amusing. He wondered just how often his father did exactly what he was doing now. 

"Dad..." Sam started after a long pause, hoping that John was ready to share all the details, ready to push if he didn't. "Tell me what happened." 

"Sam, I already..." Sam cut him off.

"All of it Dad." He lowered his voice, losing the edge. "I need to know."   Not knowing if it would make any difference with his dad or not, he added, "Please." It had always worked with Dean. 

"What do you want to know?" John asked. Sam nearly rolled his eyes. Why did the man have to make it so damn difficult? Why couldn't he just tell him exactly what happened? All of it. So he didn't have to ask a thousand and one questions to get the whole story. There were too many holes in the brief outline of events that John had given him at Stanford. 

"Everything." He refused to play the question and answer game. "Just tell me everything." Then, for extra incentive he added, "I'm not going anywhere until I know what happened." Sam left unsaid for now that he knew John was somehow involved in Dean's current set up. The Impala and the amulet were proof enough of that. 

"Fine,” John agreed, managing to sound pissy about it. "Just...just get the hell out of there and go back to the hotel. Call me when you get there."

"Dad…” Sam heard the warning in his voice, an eerie echo of his fathers. John wasn't always the easiest person to reach. Twice in one night was just pushing the odds.

"Just do it, Sam,” John ordered before the line disconnected. 

With a long-suffering sigh that filled the small confines of the car, Sam tossed his cell phone to the passenger seat, jaw clenched. Yes, sir. No one could get his hackles up like that man. 

It was another fifteen minutes before Dean disappeared back through the window and twenty more before Sam chanced starting the car. The sound of the engine turning over was loud in the stillness of the dark and peaceful neighborhood. Reluctantly, Sam drove away, leaving behind for now that piece of his heart that was Dean. As Sam drove off, his gaze flicked to the rear view mirror, catching a final glimpse of the Impala in the driveway.

Night, bro.

                                                                                                -wWw-

 

Deciding to take John at his word, Sam took the time to grab a sandwich and a bottle of water at the mini-mart next to the hotel. Following a quick shower, he settled cross-legged on the bed in his sweats, dialing John even as he took the last bite of his dinner. 

"Sam." His father's voice was neutral as he answered on the third ring. Having agreed to this, Sam was happy to hear that John was all business with none of the attitude.

"Start at the beginning,” Sam said, settling himself in, giving John the time he needed to decide exactly where that was.

"About two months after you left for Stanford, Dean and I headed to Georgia for what we thought was a standard poltergeist disturbance." Sam listened as John outlined the basic intel of the hunt. It was an old plantation that was being renovated by a rich couple who wanted to turn it into a tourist-trap bed and breakfast. Not long after breaking ground, weird things began to happen. No one was too worried at first and the crew even joked about having a ghost as a mascot, until two men were beheaded in a freak accident involving a stretch of barbed wire. That pretty much cleared the place. All work stopped. 

The owners, unwilling to give up on their investment, had asked around, and after a string of whispered referrals ended up with John Winchester's number. The fact that it was a paying gig all but sealed the deal. 

"It should have been an easy job,” John said and Sam held his tongue. Nothing could be taken for granted when dealing with the supernatural. His father of all people should have known that.

"We chose the mausoleum for the cleansing ritual. The EMF picked up the highest readings in and around that area. We'd just barely gotten started when it all went to hell." 

"What?" Sam asked when John didn't continue right away. "Was it a poltergeist?"

"No." 

John's response was short and clipped. Sam felt a small flutter of anxiety ripple through him, heard it in his voice as he spoke. "What was it?"

"Elemental."

Sam blew a long breath out between his teeth. Damn. He knew the lore on elementals but in all his years of hunting he'd never actually encountered any. Similar to poltergeists in manifestation, Elementals were a more powerful and unpredictable entity. Their penchant for malevolent mischief made them infinitely more dangerous. Means of exorcising them varied from complex to damn near impossible. You had to know exactly what type of elemental you were dealing with to even attempt it. 

"What did you do?"

"What do you think we did?" John nearly snapped. "We high-tailed it out of there. No way were we prepared to deal with that." Only it wasn't that easy. It never was. 

"They're smart little bastards, Sammy,” John admittedly grudgingly. "They toyed with us, got us separated more than once." 

"Wait, they? There was more than one?" Sam asked, not liking where this was going.

"Four." John let the answer hang in the air. 

"Fuck, Dad!" Sam said in horror, absently running his hand through thick chestnut waves. Ignoring the comment, John continued. 

"'Course, I didn’t know that ‘til later. Until it was too late. We'd walked in blind and had no choice but to deal with it."

Sam stayed quiet but in the back of his mind he couldn't still the voice that wanted desperately to place blame. If Dad had done his homework a little better they may have been prepared instead of caught off guard. He knew that thought wasn't entirely fair, knew from experience that sometimes, no matter how much preparation and research went into a job, there was always an element of the unknown to deal with when hunting.

"They focused on me at first, no doubt perceiving my age as a weakness to exploit." And here, John hesitated. Sam gripped the phone tighter, feeling the weight of it. "I...if I hadn't..."

Okay, he was scared now. John Winchester didn't stutter - was never at a loss for words. John Winchester's voice never trembled with emotion. Not even when that emotion was anger. It took everything Sam had to keep his mouth shut, to just wait for John to get it together. 

"Without meaning to I telegraphed loud and clear my real weakness." Sam closed his eyes as John continued. Dean. "It didn't take them long to figure out that Dean's safety was more important to me than my own." A pause. "It...it happened so fast." 

"What happened to Dean, Dad?” Not unaffected by the rare vulnerability in his father's voice, Sam managed to sound sympathetic. 

"I'd just managed to get a good grip on him. I had him...I had him...and then he was just… gone. Ripped out of my hand." Sensing that John was replaying the scene in his mind, Sam didn't push.

"He was thrown about twenty yards. He hit the side of the mausoleum. Hard." Sam felt his eyes prickle when John's breathing hitched. "God, Sam." The voice wavered again. "I think I heard his skull crack."

"Jesus." His voice sounded strange and he felt a little numb - a little sick. 

"After that, everything just stopped. The EMF flat-lined, the wind died” John’s voice firmed as he talked, the details now coming a little easier. "I threw Dean over my shoulder and got the hell out of there before round two started."

Father and son maintained mutual silence until Sam realized that it was in deference to him. When he was able to speak again, Sam said, "Go on." 

"I took him to the nearest hospital. They did what they could to stabilize him. They weren't equipped to deal with a head injury that severe so he was life-flighted to Atlanta." John sounded tired and Sam knew that it had nothing to do with the lateness of the hour. "He was in a coma for forty-two days…"

“God, Dad. Why? Why didn’t you call me?” Sam had promised himself he wasn’t going to go there. It was done. There was nothing he could do about it. This wasn’t helping at all. His head knew that. His heart didn’t care. 

"There was nothing you could have done, Sam" John's voice held no heat.

"You don't know that." Sam's voice held enough emotion for both of them. Aware that he was bordering on irrational, Sam got a lid on his emotions and when he continued his voice was softer. "I could have...just...been there."

"For how long?" John asked, no longer sounding quite so understanding. "A week? A month?" A significant pause. "A semester?"

Surprised by the blow, Sam's, "Screw you," was delayed. "You should have called."

"Look, Sam, I did what I thought best at the time. I had a decision to make and I made it." There was no apology or uncertainty in John's tone to indicate that he had any regrets. It brought back all the anger and resentment Sam remembered feeling for the man before he'd left for Stanford. He was practically seething.

"And to hell with everyone else, right?" Sam’s voice rose. John Winchester could infuriate him like no other. "This isn't the corps Dad, this is our family. Dean is my brother. I had a right to know."

There was dead silence on the other end of the line for so long that Sam thought John had hung up on him. 

"You wanna hear this or not?" John asked coolly. Sam understood that he'd pushed far enough and was on the verge of losing his opportunity for answers if he didn't pull it together. He recognized that tone of voice and his response was instinctive.

"Yes, sir." The words were respectful, even if he couldn't quite manage to rid his voice of the lingering resentment he felt.

"Then do us both a favor: shut up and listen,” John ordered. Sam's jaw tightened but he kept quiet.

"I had every intention of calling you, Sam." It was a small concession, voice thawing imperceptibly. "Everything was just so uncertain those first few days." Not a justification by any means, John just didn't do that. More like he was just throwing the information out there for Sam to deal with however the hell he pleased.

"The doctors didn't know when, or even if, Dean would wake up." Sam paled, despite the fact the fact he'd seen his brother alive and well less than an hour ago. "Oh, and they were pretty damn good at reminding me that, if by some miracle he did wake up, he’d likely suffer brain damage – if not from the initial impact then from the effects of the coma. The longer he stayed under, the less likely it was that he would fully recover.”

Belatedly, Sam discovered some empathy for this father. It must have been horrible to go through that alone. Difficult as it was, he quelled the urge to point that out, knowing John well enough to realize that it would be perceived as an accusation – and knowing himself well enough to realize that is exactly how it would sound if he put it to words.

“I thought I’d lost him, Sam,” John said so quietly Sam almost missed it. It put into perspective something that Sam tended to sometimes overlook. While he loved Dean as a brother and a would-be lover, John’s love was that of a parent - a fierce and protective love of a kind that Sam could well imagine but with which he had no practical experience.

“But you didn’t.” Then, “We didn’t,” Sam corrected. “Thank God.” The fact that he’d almost lost Dean without even being aware of it made him all the more desperate to reconnect with his brother.

“He’s a fighter, Sam,” John said with obvious pride. “More so than I ever gave him credit for.” And that was saying a lot. 

“So where does Jenna fit into all of this?” Sam asked.

“I met her when Dean was moved out of ICU. She was his third-shift charge nurse.” Sam snorted at John’s words. Unconscious and in a coma his brother still managed to pick up women. The only difference was, he’d married this one. Sam couldn’t help but feel more than a little jealous.

“All of the nurses were great with him, but there was something about Jenna…” John’s voice softened just a little and Sam realized that his father had actually been fond of the woman. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that information. “The way she touched him, the way she spoke to him…” John paused and Sam really wasn’t sure he wanted to hear more, knew that he had to. “I think she was in love with him before he even opened his eyes.” 

"We got to know each other pretty well,” John continued, again, without any elaboration of details. "She was a spitfire, that one. Tough as nails one minute and soft as a breeze the next." 

Feeling irrationally betrayed by John's approval of this woman, Sam almost didn't register his father's next words

"By the time I got back, Dean and Jenna were..."

"By the time you got back?" Sam interrupted abruptly, then it hit him that his dad had probably gone back to the plantation to finish the job. "You left him?"

"I had to Sam,” John’s said in his and don't give me any shit about it either voice. "We needed the money. The insurance set up was legit, but the deductible was five thousand dollars. That kind of cash isn't easy to come by." Legally. "As it was I had to call in Bobby and Caleb. It took all three of us to get rid of the little fuckers." 

Well, that explained Dean's current alias. Sam knew about the policy - set up as a precaution for just such a circumstance. A fake credit card was fine for a day or two in the hospital, but anything involving long term care required something that would withstand scrutiny and that was actually valid. He and Dean were both listed on the policy with aliases that were variations of their first and middle names. Dean's was pretty easy. Sam's required a little tweaking as Samuel Jonathan just didn't sound quite right. It was Dean, thinking himself pretty darn clever that came up with Sam Johnson. John's son. Get it? John's son. His brother had been obnoxiously proud of that. You are such a dork. Yeah, like I'm the dork in this relationship. Sam actually considered himself pretty lucky. The older Dean got, the more outrageous his sense of humor became. He could have easily ended up as Sam Dorkle at a later date by way of payback.

"So what happened? Was he still in the coma when you left?" Sam asked, not happy with the big gaping hole in the story. 

"Yeah." Turned out John had stayed with Dean for almost a month. Sam was surprised at that. "It took me a lot longer to get back than I’d planned. "

"Why is that?" Sam asked, irritation evident, already suspecting the reason.

"I took another job on the way back." John's voice rose over Sam's loud exasperated sigh. "It was on the way." Again, not a justification, just an explanation. "I broke my leg and ended up with a concussion." 

"Nice,” Sam said in the most disgusted voice he could muster. 

"Caleb and Bobby had already split. I couldn't drive. Had to hole up for a bit until I could get the cast off." 

"How long?" He was in lecture mode, could feel it coming on despite the fact he knew how John would react.

"Don't start, Sam." Apparently John had recognized the tone. "I had given Jenna the number for my cell and was aware of every change in Dean's condition. She called me the day he woke up. He couldn't speak, didn't even seem to be aware of his surroundings for days."

Sam swallowed, effectively silenced.

"Dr. Ellingwood called me three days later to inform me of the memory loss. It was too early to tell at that point how severe it was or if it was even permanent." 

“By the time I made it back to the hospital in Atlanta it was pretty clear that it was extensive. Dean remembered the basics such as walking, talking, how to read, knew his colors and such, but no memory of his life up to the time he came out of the coma.”

“Jesus.” Sam said, feeling a little shell shocked. “Is it permanent?”

“No way of knowing for sure, though after five years it appears that way.” John voice was resigned, but Sam could hear the sadness in it. “Doctor called it severe traumatic retrograde amnesia.

“So there’s no hope at all?” Sam asked, hating the small waver in his voice.

“Doc wouldn’t make any predictions either way. Brain injuries are unpredictable. He could wake up one day and remember everything or….not. The more time that goes by, the less likely it is that that will happen.”  

“But there is a chance.” Sam said more to himself, unable to mask the hope in his voice.

“Sam.” John’s voice held that low warning again. Sam overrode him with his next question.

"You still haven't explained how Jenna fits into this." John sighed and Sam gathered that John either didn't want to talk about it or was debating whether or not to let the previous subject go. 

"No. I haven’t." Apparently it was the former, which didn't sit well with Sam. He had a feeling he really wasn't going to like whatever his father had to say. 

"It took him months to recover, Sam," John said almost reluctantly, as if he knew Sam was going to have a conniption at whatever he was about to say and he wanted to cut it off at the pass. 

"What does that have to do with anything?" Sam asked, dreading then answer. And then knowing his father followed up with Oh, God "What did you do?"

"Sam..."

"What.Did.You.Do?"

For a long stretch of seconds, Sam only heard the sound of John's breathing. 

"I did what was best for Dean." A barely noticeable hitch in John's voice. "I let him go."

Sam was speechless. 

"Jenna..." John continued. "She made an offer I couldn't refuse." 

"So, what? Sam's anger resurged and he asked, incredulous, "You just let her have him?"

"No." Surprisingly John didn't respond in kind. "Not at first.” 

"So what the hell happened?" Sam was losing his patience again. John was leaving out a helluva lot of details. 

"Jenna didn't take well to being told ‘No’.” There was a sound that may have been a laugh. Sam sensed a story there. “She was more than willing to fight for what she wanted.   And she wanted your brother." Again there was that hint of affection and respect there that Sam couldn't help but resent.

"What about what Dean wanted? Did either of you even think of that?" Sam asked, unable to keep the accusation out of his voice. 

"Dean wasn't in any condition to make decisions..." Sam interrupted before John could finish.

"He should have been given the choice, Dad! How could you take that away from him?"

"Listen, college boy,” John countered, voice cool as steel. "Dean may be your brother but he is my son. Got it? I don't answer to you on this. Or anything else for that matter. You wanted to know what went down and I’m telling you. Period." 

John paused long enough to take a few deep breaths. "Understand?" The question demanded an answer.

"Yeah. I got it." Sam fumed. Asshole.

John sighed and Sam could tell that he was pacing the floor of whatever room he was in. 

"Look. I just...I don't need you second guessing me here, Sam." John's voice had returned to normal and was damn near apologetic. "It was the hardest decision I've ever made. Probably the only selfless thing I'd done since before..."

Sam was caught off guard by the underlying emotion he was picking up from his father.

"Your mother was taken from me, Sam. I had no say in the matter. I wasn't ready to let her go - don't think I ever would have been. But I wasn't given a choice. I just had to live with the consequences."

The conversation had taken a turn Sam wasn't prepared for. 

"You leaving was nearly as unexpected. I realize now that it shouldn't have been, but at the time it blindsided me." John admitted. "I wasn't ready to lose you either."

"Dad..." Sam really wasn’t sure what to say, but felt he had to say something.

"I...uh...I didn't react very well, did I?" They both knew the answer to that and Sam couldn't help but smile, happy he'd gotten to a place where he could.

"Understatement," he said, feeling a connection with his father that was often elusive.

"Yeah." Sorry 'bout that.  

"Yeah." Me too.

A Winchester apology at it's finest. 

“It was different with Dean. I had a choice to make, Sam.”   When John continued his voice was low, almost contrite. “I know I wasn’t the best father. I made mistakes, but I did the best I could.”

“I know.” It wasn’t often that Sam empathized with John but as an adult he could understand where the man was coming from, even if he didn’t agree with how he went about things.

“Jenna…she offered Dean a normal life. A life I couldn’t give him. A life I realized that he would never have if he continued to hunt.” 

“And you accepted her offer.” Sam’s voice was resigned, no longer having the energy to argue about events that had already come to pass.

“No.” John surprised him. “I told her to go to hell. Politely of course. It wasn’t about Jenna, it was about Dean.”

“Then….” Sam started to ask, confused.

“He was in love with her, Sam. It was never about what Jenna wanted. Dean made the decision for me.” John finished. “He just didn’t know it.”

God, that hurt - illogical as it was. It burned all the more for the fact he couldn't even properly resent the woman now that she was dead. 

It hadn't happened over night of course. Dean's recovery had taken months and John's acquiescence to Jenna's offer had taken nearly as long. During that time, John had remained an invisible witness to not only Dean's returning health and strength, but to his growing love for the spirited and devoted young nurse who stood by him through it all.

Calling in a few favors, John expanded Dean's alias and had both his driver’s license and the registration for the Impala switched over. He'd even managed to acquire a social security card - which Sam suspected was actually used in setting up the insurance claim all those years ago. He likely had one as well. The Impala was Dean’s and as much a part of him as his beat up leather jacket and that cocky smile. It was a foregone conclusion that that piece of Winchester family history would remain with Dean. Sam had silently approved the sentiment. The protection amulet had been a harder sell, but John was adamant that Jenna understand its importance. There was no way she really could without knowing what they did for a living, but she had honored John’s wishes and promised that Dean would never be without it. Sam had to admit a grudging respect at that.  

"Did you see him or talk to him at all?" Sam finally had to ask. He knew John had watched over Dean and remained close between hunts, but he had to know that John had at least tried to make that connection with Dean - hadn't let him go without a fight.  

"Once." The response was final and filled with undefined emotion. Sam knew to let it drop. 

"You were right to leave, Sam,” John said. "I know that now. This fight - this never- ending hunt is my life - my fight, not yours, not Dean's. It never should have been."

Okay. Speechless. Again.

"You took your chance at normal, Sam. I resented the hell out of you for it and for leaving like you did - but I respected you for it. Eventually,” John said seriously, but with a smile in his voice. 

"This was my one and only chance to make sure Dean got the same opportunity. We both know he would never have taken it on his own. So I made the decision for him. I let him go." And there it was - the whole sordid mess. 

“It didn’t exactly turn out happily ever after.” Sam pointed out. 

“Does it ever?” John asked pragmatic as ever. 

Sam had to agree.” Guess not.” 

“Dean’s happy, Sam,” Leave him be, was implied. “There’s no telling what effect your presence will have in his life.”

Sam frowned at the comment, defensive. “He’s my brother. I want to be part of his life.”

“It’s not about you, Sam. It can’t be.” John was relentless. “Dean has a child. Isabella will always be his first priority.” Not you, not anymore.

“I know that,” Sam said sharply, resenting the implication. “Do you honestly think that I would in any way interfere with that?”

John sighed, but was apparently not ready to give up. “You'll only complicate things for him, Sam."

"I don't think Dean would agree,” Sam said stubbornly, but feeling a heartfelt truth behind the statement. 

Another sigh, this one in exasperation. "Just,” John cut off with a low growl. "Just promise me you won’t do anything impulsive." 

“Ah…” Sam's silence was apparently telling. Impulsive?

"Sam…” It was both a warning and a demand for explanation. 

 Sam rubbed the back of his neck self consciously, knowing John wasn't going to like this but deciding it was best to just get it out in the open. "It may be a little late for that."

The stillness on the other end of the line was unsettling. 

"Look, Dad, it just happened,” Sam explained without really explaining, refusing to feel guilty. "It was unavoidable."

"What exactly was unavoidable?" God, Sam hated that interrogatory tone, but refused to react to it. 

"I had a little run in with Dean and Isabella today."

The words were barely out of Sam's mouth when John exploded with, "Damnit Sam!"

“Like I said – it couldn’t’ be helped.” Taking a page out of John’s book, just for spite, Sam refused to elaborate. 

“You sure ‘bout that?” John asked, deceptively calm. 

Sam refused to dignify that with a response. John could take that however the hell he pleased. 

John had apparently moved on. His next words had Sam’s full attention. “Be careful with him, Sam. There’s no telling how his subconscious will respond to your presence.”

A very real concern that Sam wasn’t sure how to respond to.

 “Look, I’ve got to cut this short,” his father said unapologetically. "Got something going on I need to take care of." Then in USMC mode added, “Keep me updated.” 

It was an acknowledgement of sorts. No more threats or warnings – do what you’ve got to do, what I know you’re going to do – just be careful how you do it. 

Sam’s agreement was soft and he felt an undeniable relief at John’s assent.

“I will.” 




Part III

 

 



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