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John Winchester stopped in front of the motel room door and ran a hand over his face. His most recent hunt had not gone as well as he’d hoped. Yes, he had managed to capture the demon he’d been tracking, and even to exorcise it and save its vessel, but it had revealed nothing that he could use against Azazel. John had come back days early with nothing to show for his effort, and he was irritated.

With a sigh, John swiped his motel key and pushed open the door.

“Shit!”

That was definitely Dean’s voice, but John couldn’t see a thing. Instinctively, his body tensed for a fight. One hand gripped the knife at his belt. The other reached out and flipped on the light switch.

Yellow light spilled into the room.  John squinted against the sudden brightness. Somebody was fumbling around under the covers of one of the beds. Two somebodies, from the look of it. John made out Dean’s head, then his bare shoulders. Great. Not again. Ever since Dean turned seventeen, it seemed like he had a different girl every week.

“Damnit, Dean, what the hell are you doing?”

The second person under the blankets came into view, and John froze.

Dean’s partner under the sheets was another boy.

“Dad, I—“

John turned away. He could feel his face getting hot.  “Where’s your brother?” he demanded.

“He’s studying at a friend’s house. He’s fine, Dad.”

“I need to talk to you. Get your friend out of here.”

Without waiting for an answer, John stepped back out into the night air, shutting the door behind him.

A boy.

Dean liked men. Dean had sex with men, and John hadn’t even known.

There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that. There wasn’t anything wrong with that. It was just different, was all. Not what he thought. He was going to have to reorder his whole way of thinking.

His son had sex with men.

Did he still like women, or was it just guys now? Jesus, John didn’t even know.

There was nothing wrong with that. It meant Dean’s whole life might be different, though. Harder. There was a lot of prejudice out there, and Dean would have to face it. John didn’t much like that thought. Would it be a woman Dean ended up with, or a man? If it was a man, it would probably mean he wouldn’t have kids. That meant John wouldn’t have grandkids, at least not from Dean. Unless they decided to adopt or get some woman to carry a baby for them…

Babies. What was John thinking?

He must be living in some kind of fantasy land. Neither of his boys were ever going to be able to have kids. What did he think, Dean was going to settle down in a house with a white picket fence and a freaking flower garden? He’d raised his boys as hunters. There was no getting out of that life.

John was a fucking idiot. Here he was, imagining the ways that being queer might change his kid’s life, when the truth was, Dean’s life was already fucked over three ways to Sunday. And that was thanks to him.

Behind him, John heard the door open. The guy Dean had been in bed with shuffled quickly past him without saying a word.

The door didn’t close. John could sense Dean hovering, waiting for some kind of reaction. He knew he ought to say something. He just didn’t know what to say.

“So, uh…”

Dean’s voice wavered, uncharacteristically quiet.

“…I guess… you should know that… sometimes… I like guys. I mean, I dig chicks, too, I just…”

Dean fell silent.

Jesus Christ.  John wished, as he did every day, that Mary was alive right now. She would have known how to deal with this. She would have had exactly the right thing to say.

But he was just John, and he never had the right words.

If John wasn’t a hunter, if he’d raised his boys right, there would be so many possibilities open for Dean. Possibilities that John had never even thought of.  It was John’s fault that Dean couldn’t have them now. Hunters rarely had families, and when they did, they sure as hell didn’t have functional ones.

But what the fuck was John supposed to have done? Sat by and let that yellow-eyed bastard get away? This was about more than just Mary’s death.  Azazel had a plan, and it involved Sam, and, damnit, John was not about to let that evil piece of shit take any more of his family from him. Never again.

No, there hadn’t been a choice. Dean and Sam needed to grow up knowing how to defend themselves, and that meant knowing how to hunt. Better a future with no family than no future at all.

So why did John feel so goddamned guilty?

“Dad?” Dean’s voice broke on the word. “I’d really like to know what you’re thinking right about now.”

John turned to face his son. “It doesn’t matter what I think, does it?”

He didn’t realize how harshly he’d said it until he saw Dean’s face. The boy looked as though he’d been slapped.

He ought to say something else. Something to make it right. But what was he going to say? Some sappy bullshit about it not mattering who he ended up with? When he knew that odds were Dean would end up alone, thanks to him? There was too much to say, and John didn’t have the faintest idea where to start.

He looked away.

“Go get your brother,” John said gruffly. “We’re getting out of this town.”

He pushed past Dean into the room and started packing their things up. For a moment, he didn’t hear a thing. Then the door clicked shut.

John looked up. He was alone in the room.