: In All The PausesAuthor
: PG-13Author's Notes
: ~1,400 words. Scenario included after fic.Summary
: John and Dean have a new case, but why does John make Dean leave his baby behind?
When John Winchester says those words, “We’ve got a new case," Dean doesn’t even stop to ask for a place name any more. They don’t seem to matter. Even towns with names lose them; become the place with the teenage werewolf
or that town with the schoolteacher poltergeist
or that town where you said Sam wasn’t your son any more
. Dean doesn’t bother asking. Sam was always the one with the questions, anyway. If the town name was important, John would say it, and that was that.
This case seemed like it was going to be by the book, mountain lions spotted stalking a popular trail, especially dangerous because students liked to run by there, and the beasts were displaying some oddly un-mountain lion-like qualities. It seemed like it was going to be a little paint-by-numbers until John said, as Dean was cleaning his guns, “We’ll take the truck. The Impala will be safe here."
Dean pauses. In the pause, he can almost hear Sam bristle, and demand to know why they are leaving the car behind. Sam’s voice is so clear in that silence that resentment tightens Dean’s stomach, and he just nods.
They’re on the road in minutes. John Winchester does not take things slowly.
Sitting shotgun doesn’t sit well with Dean, and not just because Truckzilla has uncomfortable seats. He is so used to following his father, that sitting next to him feels wrong. Maybe
, Sam’s voice says into the silence, it’s because you know you’re sitting like you’re partners in all of this, but dad doesn’t think of you as equals. You’re his subordinate. You prefer following in the car because you know that’s all you are – a follower.
Dean tells Sam’s voice to get lost, in less rational language, and adds that he prefers to follow in the car because he loves the car. Simple as that. And Sam’s just jealous because John gave him the car, and-
He realises he’s taunting his brother when he’s not even around, and shakes it away. Dean thought he would have stopped doing it by now, because it’s been months
, but apparently his brain is just programmed to mock Sam.
Dean opens his mouth to tell Sam that, and is met by a quizzical eyebrow from his father.
He shuts his mouth, and settles back. It’s apparently a long drive to wherever they’re going, because his dad puts Led Zep in the deck, and starts to hum along. Sometimes those little clues are all the answer John Winchester ever gives to anything.
It’s tricky getting accommodation where they are. Seems like it’s the end of the semester in a town near where they’ve ended up, and the place is filled with students, drinking and swearing, yelling and dancing, and Dean doesn’t envy them, not one bit. See, Sam, I can lie too. Like when you yelled and said you hoped you would never see us again. Because you couldn’t have meant that. Not really.
There are parents everywhere too, dining out with scruffy teenagers, looks of pride on their faces, or walking down the streets, buying Christmas presents and laughing and joking. They find a B & B with a harassed owner who’s worrying about a cancelled booking, and is so grateful for their money that she doesn’t even blink at the name on John Winchester’s newest American Express card, the one Dean dared him to get. Freddie Mercury.
From then on, it’s like clockwork. That’s all Dean’s life ever is. If it wasn’t for the fact he enjoyed ridding the world of the monsters, then Dean thinks he might have exploded like Sam did a long time ago. He wondered once whether that was why Sam left – because he didn’t enjoy the actual hunt and kill – but Dean knows differently. He saw the gleam in Sam’s eyes, the triumph on his face when they brought something down. If Sam has left because he hates killing monsters, then he’s in deep denial.
A student is hurt out on the trail. John goes to check the medical reports on the attack, to sneak into the hospital and check up on the girl.
Dean does his thing – research. Hits a local bar, frequented by students. Finds a couple of girls who know the victim. One of them is probably his perfect girl – blonde, curly hair, a hearty laugh, a wicked turn to her eyes and she actually shares his birthday. She’s quiet, though, and devoted to her boyfriend, unlike her friend – dark-haired, small, glasses. Dean leads the friend astray just out of habit, kissing her in the toilets of the bar, whispering her promises in the dark that he knows he can’t keep.
Afterwards, the two girls hurry away, in search of their friends. The dark-haired girl presses her number into his hands, and when he looks down after the two girls have run off, it’s just a little note saying thanks. Dean tries to pretend he’s not relieved.
John’s face when he meets Dean back at the motel speaks more than a million words. Dean wonders briefly, irreverently, if John has ever spoken more than a million words in his entire life. He feels bad for the thought – Dean remembers hearing his mom and dad talking for hours, in hushed low voices, about anything and nothing – because losing mom stole his voice too, for a little while.
They pack up the room quickly and quietly, eliminating any trace that they had ever been there. Dean pulls down the potential identities of the possible monster first, not wanting his dad’s esteem to take any more of a blow, and he happily burns them along with other debris while John Winchester sweeps the salt away.
Dean shoulders the bags and mutely follows his father back to the truck, which they’d had to park a few blocks away.
They settle down, but don’t move off. It’s like his father is waiting for something.
Dean shuffles to break the silence, and says, amiably, “Sometimes a mountain lion is just a mountain lion."
John’s face is blank but he nods once, tersely. Dean follows John’s gaze. His throat tightens. There’s a gaggle of students piling out of the library. Some are laughing. One stood out – a guy half a foot taller than the rest, a more serious expression on his handsome face, and a tell-tale head movement. Dean recognises it as a movement he uses himself, to check around for potential dangers.
“Oh," Dean says. “I did… wonder why we left the car behind. It is a mite recognisable." He swallows. “He’s taller. Needs a hair cut. And Stanford… That… I mean, he just said college, he didn’t…" He stops. Swallows. Watches.
The students move away. The tallest one moves to the back – a protector’s position. He even looks back and over at their truck, but it’s too far in the shadows, and a minute later the students are gone.
John silently puts the truck into gear, and eases it out of their parking spot. His face is carefully blank as he says, “Carson Anderson left a message on my cell. Possible poltergeist in Indiana. Think you can handle it on your own?"
Dean only lets the surprise show on his face for a second, and says, “Yes, sir," and then, gently, with a hint of bitterness, “You didn’t have to make up a case just to check up on Sam, you know."
“I’ll drop you off at Jim’s so you can pick up the Impala," John says, in a casual tone, and then adds heatedly, “and I would never make up a threat when it comes to our enemies, and I highly resent the implication."
“Of course," Dean said, “Sorry." But resentment seethes, and as they speed away, he says, “Idiot should have clocked us. Impala or no."
John doesn’t say anything.
But fifty miles onwards, when they accidentally happen across a doxy attacking a young man at a gas station, and Dean clumsily gets hurt, John carefully says, “There is a measure of idiocy in the Winchester bloodline," and Dean knows he’s not talking about Dean’s injury.
It’s the closest that John Winchester will ever come to admitting he misses Sam too.
That sort of thing only gets said by the silences, when Sam’s voice is so clear in their heads that it hurts.
Pain is something a Winchester never
: 1. Case fic that turns out to be entirely non-supernatural.