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Fractured Bonds

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Chapter 1

It hadn’t been a good week.

In fact, it had been the worst he could remember. The worst since he’d lost Mary. And yeah, he knew that was saying a lot.

John had been tracking this shifter for a few months now. It should have been standard: find, kill, salt, burn. But here they were, four months and six states later, and only now did he realise what he was hunting: not just a shifter, but one that attacked… he could barely bring himself to think the words. Little boys. Newly presented little omega’s raped and brutalised. There was something about… something… something even worse about these monsters that preyed on little kids. It turned his stomach. He knew he had to stop it.

He realised that even if this monster was human and not supernatural, he’d kill it.

It turned his thoughts to Dean and Sam. His own little boys.

Even though he didn’t need to worry about them (as the children of beta’s odds were they were betas too), it had still been hard leaving them tonight. It was hard every night, of course, but tonight Dean had not been feeling well. Even as John packed his hunting bag, the little voice whispered to him, “Daddy… Daddy I don’t feel good…”

Closing his eyes, John breathed deeply. Dean never complained. He must have been feeling terrible. But John had to leave him home. It wasn’t safe, and John would have left Dean at home even if he had been in tip top condition. In no universe was John putting his boy in front of a child molester.

With a stern, “Not now, Dean. I have an important job. You know how it goes, champ. I have to go, and I need you to be a big boy and stay here. I need you to look after Sammy. You can do that for me, right?”

Dean had looked at him, eyes shimmering with tears. Flushed and miserable.

“Yes, sir.”

John ruffled his hair, ignoring the fact that he felt warmer than usual. “Make sure your brother eats. Salt all the doors and windows, make sure the shotgun is loaded and in easy reach, then you can go to bed.”

Nodding miserably, Dean watched his father walk out the door.

That had been hours ago, and John expected to be home well before now. The monster did the same thing every night.

Nearly every night.

Biting his lip, John looked around. That never boded well. But since he was here, he’d give it a few more hours then head back. He was sure his boys were safe. Dean was a good, obedient boy. He would have put down the salt lines as soon as he could.

Something buzzed in his head, but he pushed it back. Of course Dean was fine. It was just because he’d been unwell, and that was… well… unusual.

Focus, Winchester, he firmly told himself. Dean would still be there in morning. And if he could just stick it out a little longer, this monster wouldn’t. Glancing at the clock again, John slumped in his seat and settled in for the wait.

--oo--

The next three hours were excruciating in their slowness. It was three hours later. Right at the edge of his deadline. Just as he was about to stop and pack it up for the night, the monster came strolling in. The man (well, that was no surprise; it always took the body of a man), paused at the door before turning and looking John straight in the eye.

Fuck! What the fuck! How did it…? What was it doing? It held something up. A shirt. A little shirt with a batman symbol on it. John’s mind immediately recalled Dean. Flushed face, teary eyes… and batman shirt.

No!

He didn’t remember leaving the car. He didn’t remember walking up the path. He must have flown, because next thing he knew, he had the shifter by the throat, pressed against the door.

“What have you done to my son?”

The thing’s mouth twisted in a smile. Licking it’s lips, it stared at him. “Not really a son,” It said. All friendly and conversational. “A bitch. A very pretty little bitch.” John’s hand tightened and it choked out a laugh. “First heat is always the sweetest.”

--oo--

John killed it. There was no question. Regardless of what it had or hadn’t done, it was never going to live. But it was a kinder death than it might have otherwise got. Quick. Silver knife to the jugular before pumping it full of lead and silver. Stony eyed, John watched it sink to the floor before decapitating it. Perhaps burning it on the doorstep was over kill, but the son of a bitch - (no, not that. He’d never be able to use that term again, not without thinking of the satisfaction in the creatures eye) - the sick, twisted asshole would never touch another kid again.

--oo--

He didn’t remember the drive home either. Thoughts of Dean, of his baby boy, filled his head. It had to be lying. It had to be. It knew how to hurt and it had done it. But… No. Don’t go there. There was no way it had touched his boy.

Pulling into the car park, he took a deep breath. He couldn’t turn up distressed. It would upset Dean. Sammy was probably asleep and would continue to sleep. Kid could sleep through anything. Dean was different. Woke up every time John came home, even if he didn’t say anything.

Deep breath, and John was ready to face whatever awaited him.

--oo--

He wasn’t.

He really wasn’t.

The first think he noticed was the half laid salt line against the door. Distracted, he told himself. For some reason Dean got distracted. Well. They’d be having words about that.

One step into the lounge and John knew they wouldn’t be having any words at all. The room stank of foreign alpha and the sweetness that was an omega’s heat. He could see blood, a trail to the bathroom, which had been hurriedly wiped up. Oh god. Oh god. John felt his heart speed up, and his head start to spin. He felt his knees start to give, but somehow hauled his body upright. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t panic. Not yet. Perhaps not ever.

Forcing oxygen into his lungs, he headed towards the bathroom on unsteady feet.

The door was pulled to. There were bloody finger marks against the dirty white walls. Little finger marks.

Muffled sobs filled his ears. Dean. His baby.

Pushing the door open, he scanned the bathroom.

Dean. Naked. In the corner. Bruises darkening against his hips. Blood smeared across his skin. Heatscent filled the air, and something… something John chose to ignore.

“Dean? Baby, it’s me.”

The scared little sound broke John’s heart.

Not as much as the words.

“No! Go away… don’t… please don’t.”

John’s hand fell. His thoughts did white out then.

“No…” the word was a broken whisper.

Dean did look up at that. “Dad… Daddy?”

“Oh god, Dean? Dean… he… he…” What the fuck was he supposed to do? What do you tell your son who’s been raped by a monster wearing your face?

“Dean. Dean… it’s dad -daddy.”

The lack of trust in the eyes. He thought Dean had lost all his innocence when he was four. With the way John had made his baby grow up, protect Sammy, protect…

“Daddy?” The scared hope hurt.

“I killed it, Dean. I killed it. It will never hurt anyo-“ John cut himself off. Even now… even now he was not putting his son first. “I killed it, Dean, and it will never hurt you again.”

Under any other circumstance, John would scold his boy for just trusting him. He had a whole mental list on what sort of monster could be out there, but right now? He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

For the first time since Mary’s death, he was putting his boy first.

Talking to Dean the whole while, he moved around him and starting running the bath. When it was full enough – and warm enough (he’s in shock. Warm him) John picked him up. Dean’s shivering intensified, but he didn’t pull away.

John could smell the fear and sadness and something that was a lot like giving – up radiating off his boy. He scented at Dean’s throat, feeling the little body relax in his arms. “Just gonna wash you, buddy. Get you nice and clean. Then we’ll get you dressed in pyjamas, and into bed.”

--oo--

He sat in the bath, fully clothed, before pulling Dean down on top of him. John’s clothing seemed to help – not only as a protective layer between their skin, but the warmth of the water seemed to enhance John’s scent: all father and home and safe.

Holding Dean against him, he waiting until Dean’s shivering eased before moving the wetted washcloth gently over his son’s body. Thank god he’d trained Dean to trust him. Never mind it was that trust that caused this… No. Don’t think that. Don’t go there. Look after your son.

A deep breath later, John was moving the washcloth over Dean’s body, the soft movements removing the evidence of the earlier trauma. Even in his own mind he couldn’t think rape. He couldn’t… Dean moved uncomfortably against him, and John attempted to reign in his distress. This wasn’t helping Dean. As John relaxed, so too did Dean. The power of an alpha scent, as much as anything. (And there was another thing John was not going to think about now. How something that was supposed to be celebrated had been turned into something neither of them would ever want to think of again).

Crooning, he gently moved Dean, consciously not looking at the bites and scratches. It would only make him furious. He knew he had to avoid that at all costs. If John felt like he was only hanging on by a thread, he couldn’t imagine what was going on in Dean’s head.

It was all fine until the cloth brushed against Dean’s hip. The reaction was immediate.

“No! No! NO!” Dean threw his head back, hitting John in the chest. John huffed a pained sound – he should have known it wouldn’t be so easy – and grabbed onto Dean’s arms, intent on ensuring Dean didn’t hurt himself.

“No! You can’t! I don’t want… please don’t! Please don’t hurt me again…” The terrified little voice trailed off into sobs. John was hard pressed not to cry along with him. At least he’d stopped fighting, instead laying against John, head buried in his chest, little hands bunching his shirt into fists. John held him until he’d cried himself out.

Using his most matter of fact voice John spoke to Dean. “I have to clean you there, buddy.”

Turning sad eyes towards, Dean sniffled and shook his head. John was just grateful it hadn’t brought on more tears.

“Hurts, Dad.” The voice was a whisper.

Until that moment, John hadn’t thought his heart could break anymore. He didn’t know how much more he could take, but steeling himself, he spoke to Dean in the calmest voice he could muster. “I know it hurts, champ. But we need to clean you all over. I don’t want,” And it didn’t take Dean tensing in his arms to realise his anger and frustration were bleeding through. Taking (another) steadying breath he continued. “We need to make sure you’re clean, and that nothing’s going to get infected. It’ll hurt a little, Dean. Then it will be over.”

And he prayed to a God he didn’t believe in that it really would be over.

While Dean’s face was hidden in his chest, John allowed his eye to roam over him, taking in the bites and bruises. He refused to think of what else he’d removed. As Dean shivered, John stroked a hand over his back. There was no way Dean wasn’t in pain and shock. And there was nothing John could do about it. He was so fucking impotent in this! Right now though, he just had to get Dean clean without causing more damage.

“It’s going to hurt a bit, Dean. There’s no way around it. We’re going to do it, but we’ll go as slow as you need. So, you gonna work with me here, buddy?”

Slowly, ever so slowly Dean unclenched his hands. He couldn’t look his father in the eye, but he inclined his head.

Breathing a quiet sigh of relief, John was thankful he didn’t have to force this on his kid as well. It was traumatic enough thinking… Stop that thought right there, Winchester, he sternly told himself. Later, when Dean isn’t here. Think of your son.

Dean trembled the closer the washcloth got to the crease of his buttocks. He paused, letting Dean settle before moving. By the time he was clean he’d talked him through three panic attacks. When Dean was finally clean, he let the water out of the tub, not letting Dean down as he wrapped a towel around him.

At least Dean was clean. At least that monster’s filth was no longer on Dean’s skin.

Wrapping Dean tightly in the towel, John headed towards the boys’ bedroom, only to be stopped as Dean pulled frantically at his wet sleeve.

“Dad – no!”

“Dean?”

Dean didn’t say anything, just clung tighter to his father. Honestly, John was at a loss for what the problem could be. Surely the bath was the worst? John jiggled him a little.

“Dean? Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Dean bit his lip but said nothing.

“I need you to tell me what’s wrong, Dean. If you don’t tell me, I can’t help.”

Blinking back tears, Dean whispered, “I can’t…”

He waited, but Dean obviously wasn’t going to continue. “Can’t what,” he prompted.

Dean buried his head in John’s shoulder again. “Can’t go in there. I’m dirty. Can’t make Sammy dirty.”

Taking a deep breath, John set Dean down on his feet, ignoring the distressed squeak and the way Dean’s hands reached for him. Grabbing him by the shoulders, John held him still and looked him straight in the eye.

“Dean. You are not dirty. You did nothing wrong and nothing has changed. I love you, and Sammy loves you just the same.”

Although John blinked back his tears, he could still see Dean’s expression clearly. And it indicated a complete lack of agreement.

Sighing, John lifted him into his arms again, and put him on the sofa.

“Ok, then. Wait here, champ. I’ll get us some dry clothes and I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Dad!”

“You and I will sleep out here. Unless you want to sleep in the same room as Sam…?” frantically Dean shook his head. Yeah, he didn’t think so. “Dean, I need to leave you here, buddy. I’ll just be a few minutes. Get some dry clothes and come right back.”

“Tomorrow…?”

Fuck. Tomorrow. What were they going to do? They couldn’t stay – John hadn’t been as careful as usual when destroying that sadistic fuck. And there was Dean. No way was he keeping his boy here a second longer than he needed to. If he wasn’t so tired, they’d be out the door now, but John knew his body well enough to know if he drove now he’d end up asleep at the wheel which wouldn’t end well.

So where to go?

“Tomorrow we’ll leave.”

He left it there. Dean was his good boy, and wouldn’t even think to question John’s words. “Now, sit tight, Dean. I’ll be back soon.”

Dropping Dean on the sofa, John waited until he’d curled up in the corner before heading to his room. It took only a few moments to towel himself dry and change. And… well, since he was here… John quickly and efficiently packed the room. It’d be easier to leave tomorrow, he justified. And it didn’t take that long. Not really.

Next stop was the boy’s room. Since he was here he may as well pack it too…

It took a little longer, as he really didn’t want to wake Sam. Although by the end of it he got the impression that the extra care taken was a waste of time: nothing short of a bomb going off would wake his youngest. Best work on that, he noted idly to himself. It was the difference between life and death.

Blanching, John realised he’d taken much longer than expected. Hopefully… hopefully Dean was asleep.

--oo--

Dean was not asleep.

Dean’s whole body shook with the effort to keep his sobbing quiet.

Fuck!”

He swept in, pulling Dean into his lap and pulling him tight against his chest, just wanting to surround Dean with comfort. He pressed Dean’s nose into the base of his throat, hand curled protectively around his head.

“Shhhhh. It’s ok, buddy. It’s ok. Daddy’s here. I thought you were asleep, Dean. I’m sorry…”

Dean’s sobs didn’t ease. Instead, if John listened carefully, he could hear sorry, my fault, dirty and left me.

“Oh, Dean!”

“No, Dean. Not left you. I’d never leave you.” He didn’t even wince at the lie, just pushed through. “Daddy’s sorry, Dean.”

John didn’t know how long it took for Dean to fall asleep. As soon as the tears stopped he’d helped Dean into his pyjamas before pulling him back against his chest. Eventually he felt Dean’s body fall against him. At which point he couldn’t help but look at every fucking life decision that had brought him here. Fuck! He’d never apologised so much in his life. He’d never imagined he’d be apologising to his twelve year old son. Sighing under his breath, he pressed a kiss to the top of Dean’s head. He was starting to drop off now, so John could start worrying.

An omega! He hadn’t seen that coming. Or… maybe he had. Dean had certainly never complained about looking after Sam. And although Dean had been treated as an adult for a decade, John couldn’t help the bit inside him that cried for his little boy.

--oo--

John didn’t know when he slipped into an uneasy sleep. What he did know was that morning came way too soon. His mouth was gummy, and his back hurt from sleeping sitting up with Dean in his arms. As well as the little body that had curled up beside him. Looking down at Sammy’s floppy hair, he couldn’t help but curse himself. He hadn’t even stirred when Sam turned up.

It was as if Sam sensed his increased mental activity. John had barely taken in Sam’s presence when he was up on his knees, leaning against him.

“Why’re you on the sofa, Daddy?”

Ah. He hadn’t really thought that through. He’d never expected Sam to wake before him. Biting back a yawn, he tried to think of lies he’d remember.

“Dean wasn’t sleeping – he’s not well, Sammy – so I took him out here until he felt better.”

Sam was a smart kid. Even at eight he could pick holes in most of John’s best thought out lies.

And this was not one of his best. John never cuddled with the boys. And when they were sick he told them to man up. Dean did. Dean had to. Sammy still got coddled – but by his older brother, never his father.

To John’s surprise, instead of arguing Sam curled up again. He laid his head on John’s lap, bumping it against Dean. Although he couldn’t see Sam’s expression, he could hear the pout in his voice.

“Shoulda got me too. I never get to sleep on the couch with you. Not fair, Dad.”

For the first time in what felt like forever, John smiled. Sammy was still his perfectly difficult self.

“Life’s not fair, kiddo. Now, listen up. Dean’s still pretty sleepy. Think you can be my big boy and help me?” Sam was nodding before John finished. “The bags are already packed. Can you put them in the car?”

Sam nodded, before he noticed John’s arms were still wrapped round Dean, and a scowl crossed his face. John recognised the stubborn set of his shoulders as Sam stuck his head more firmly into John’s hip. “Not fair! I didn’t get any cuddles. Dean should do it.”

Before John could reason with his youngest, Dean stirred against his chest. He snuggled against John and snuffled at John’s chest. John held his breath. Maybe Dean would be ok this morning…

Dean’s body tensed and his eyes flew open. John immediately released his arms, as Dean threw himself back off John. “No – don’t…”

John spared a look at Sam who had shuffled back to the other corner, unable to take his eyes off his brother. Keeping his voice calm, he said to Sam, “Please go get the bags, Sam, and put them in car. Dean isn’t well. We need to go somewhere to help him get better.”

Thankfully Sam didn’t complain. Nodding his head, he leapt off the couch, running for his room. Shifting his attention back to Dean, John sat up, and grabbed a blanket that had fallen to the floor. Ignoring the way Dean flinched, he started with the words he’d repeated every time Dean woke in the night. “It’s ok, Dean. It’s daddy. And I’m not going to hurt you. I won’t touch you, buddy, not if you don’t want me too.”

He kept up the quiet talk until Dean’s eyes focused on him again.

“Dadd- dad?”

“We’re heading out, champ. I’m going to carry you to the car.”

Dean was already shaking his head. “I can walk myself.”

John shook his head firmly. “You don’t have a choice right now, Dean.”

Dean didn’t argue with John at the best of times. And he was still in shock, obviously working as hard as he could to forget what happened yesterday. He had to, John realised with a start. The monster wore his face while…

“Dad? Dad what’s wrong?”

Right. He still couldn’t think about it. Not yet. Not with two boys – one a child, the other compromised and unable to deal with Johns emotions. Breathe, he reminded himself.

“Nothing, Sammy. Bags in the car? Good. Let’s go.”

--oo--

In the end it was easy getting them into the car. Sammy was now very worried about his brother, and Dean didn’t want to do anything to upset Sammy. And that worked for all of fifteen minutes. Sam was very attentive towards his brother. And that could have made the car trip much easier. But Dean shook his hand off. To John’s surprise, Sam didn’t take it out on Dean. Instead he turned frustrated eyes on John.

“Where are we going, anyway?”

John didn’t know where to take them. Normally, he would drive them straight to Sioux Falls, and into Bobby’s house. Despite their differences, John trusted Bobby. Unfortunately, last time had resulted in Bobby threatening to shoot him the next time he showed his sorry ass.

At the time, John had rejected the idea that there was anything wrong with his parenting. Now though… some of the comments were ringing too true for comfort. There was no way he could go see Bobby. But who else could he trust with a newly presented, traumatised omega?

John glanced at Dean in the rearview mirror. He looked about as well as expected. He was still wrapped in the blanket, so the worst of the bites and bruises were covered, but John couldn’t dwell on it. Not yet. Inside him, his rage was banked, but a stray thought and… well, let’s just say he wasn’t ready to terrify his boys.

So where could he take them?

“Dad?”

Wait. There was one man. “Daddy’s friend… Jim.”

Sam leant back and ran the name through is head. “He is… Father? Father Jim? We don’t need another father. We have you, right, Dad?”

John stoically controlled his eyeroll. Sam sounded truly worried. “It’s Pastor Jim, Sam. It’s a title for people who are in the religious orders.”

“I knew that,” Sam muttered. Then eyed his father with suspicion. “You aren’t just leaving us there are you Dad? Because Dean’s sick? I can look after him! He needs family.”

Groaning inwardly at the belligerent tone, for the first time John considered that Sammy might be an alpha. John had never cared about the secondary gender of the boys. He wished he’d though about it more now, with Dean quivering in the corner after… after that, and Sammy staring at him like he was a monster.

John knew he had a lot to think about, and it needed to wait. “I’m not going to just leave you, Sam. I told you Dean wasn’t well, and I’m hoping that Pastor Jim can help.”

To his eternal surprise Sam didn’t continue questioning. Just laid back in the seat and wrapped himself protectively around his brother.

The journey after that was fairly uneventful. Although it warmed his heart seeing the way Sammy fussed over his brother. Dean then broke it when he tentatively snuggled against Sam, craving the smell of family.

John vowed to give his boys what they needed.

--oo--

Pastor Jim welcomed John with a sharp look. When he noticed the boys, they at least got a warmer welcome. Although that then lead to an accusatory glare from the good Pastor. John had neither the inclination nor patience to decipher it. Jim would let him know.

After ushering the boys into the kitchen, Jim set them up with something they appeared excited about. John felt something in him uncoil as he saw Dean’s genuine smile. Before he could go and join the boys, Jim informed them he had to talk to their daddy.

“You can wait here, right? If you’re still hungry, there’s plenty of food, so help yourselves, ok?”

Sammy nodded enthusiastically, while Dean shot a questioning look at John. Shrugging to himself, John inclined his head. Jim wasn’t going to offer something he didn’t mean. Although… John was already questioning if bringing the boys here was the right thing.

“I think we need to talk, John. My office?”

The tone was mild enough, but Jim’s suspicious expression solidified into something that was almost rage at his interaction with Dean. What the fuck was going on here? Had Bobby been in Jim’s ear?

As soon as they were safely ensconced in Jim’s office, John was defending himself. “I don’t know what Bobby’s said to you, Jim, but I can tell you…”

“I don’t want to hear a word you have to say, John Winchester! You are a monster!”

John had no idea the pastor had such lungs on him. But that was irrelevant. “What the fuck, Jim? I come to you for help, and you call me a monster?” He shook his head, disgusted. He’d hunt Bobby down…”My boys need help and…”

Pastor Jim advanced on him. To his eternal shame, John gave ground. There was something frightening and righteous in the mans’ intensity. Even when his back hit the wall, the pastor stalked forward until they were nose to nose.

“Your boys? Your boys? You don’t deserve those boys! What kind of father impregnates his boy and then…”

Pregnant.

Dean was pregnant.

That change in his scent. The one that John had ignored (because you couldn’t deal with it, he snarled at himself), was that of his little boy, now ripe with the new life. Life formed when Dean had been forced by a shifter that looked like John.

John threw up all over Pastor Jim’s cassock.

--oo--

All sorts of things happened in his office, so Jim was able to easily remove his spoiled robes, push John into a chair, and get them both a stiff drink.

Sitting on the edge of the desk, Jim stared at the man before him. That had been quite a reaction. He sipped at the whisky, relishing its burn. He could already tell it was preferable to whatever he was about to deal with now.

But he didn’t get to where he was by putting off the unavoidable.

He decided to start with an easy question. “So you’re not the father?”

John spat his drink out. A waste of good whisky, but Jim felt some relief.

“Fuck’s sake, Jim! No. No, the… It…”

John was lost for words. Jim stared at him. John was never lost for words. He defended every stubborn, pig-headed, foolish decision he made with no problem. And now he was unable? Jim felt a flash of anger, quickly damped down. He’d already acted rashly – and incorrectly. But how could John call himself a decent father when his twelve year old son was pregnant! His thoughts were once more interrupted.

“I didn’t rape my son. A fucking monster wearing my face did.”

Jumping up, he started pacing the room. “My baby boy was fucking attacked and raped by a shifter wearing my face! He’ll never be able to look at me again without thinking… and now… a baby… Fuck!”

Jim’s stomach dropped. But he didn’t interrupt. He let John pace and rant and scream.

“He hurt him. He looked at me and held up Dean’s shirt and laughed.” John punched the desk and rounded on the pastor. “He died too easy. I wanted… I wanted it to hurt. I wanted to make him suffer. But I… I couldn’t. I didn’t know if Dean was ok. I didn’t know…”

John’s voice trailed off. After a moment’s silence, Jim took up the conversation.

“You did the right thing, John. You did the right thing for Dean. You killed that…” There wasn’t even a word. It was worse than a monster. It was more than the nature of the beast. It was perverted. It was hard to think about. “You killed the monster, John, and then you went home to your son. As a father – and not just a hunter,” He added sharply when John looked ready to argue. “You are a father first, John. Your boys should come first.”

John didn’t respond.

“You know what you have to do.”

John didn’t move.

Jim spoke more sharply. “John. You know what you have to do.”

“I can’t hurt my boy anymore.”

The words were whispered, but Jim heard them clearly.

“The child of a monster is a monster, John. Evil. You’ll need to exorcise it.” Shoulders trembled beneath his palm, but the Pastor pushed on. “It can’t live, John. And it… you know what happens! Dean won’t survive it. They kill the hosts.”

Jim kept his distance with words, fighting for a cool that was hard won. While John ranted and raved out loud, Jim did in his head. Each and every time something like this happened, some monster unleased its brand of evil on the land, Jim questioned why. Why did these things happen? And why to the good, the underserving, the innocent.

Jim felt his heart break. Despite the way John had raised his boys, there were still innocents. Until yesterday, Dean had not even presented, and Sammy was still a child… John’s next words mirrored his thoughts.

“He’s just a baby, Jim. How am I supposed to hurt him again.”

The pastor looked at John seriously. “If you want him to live, you have to.”

--oo--

“Are you sure? There’s no other way to remove it? Maybe we’re wrong…”

Jim lost his temper. “We aren’t wrong, John! Sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to solve a thing! I’ve looked everywhere, I even…”

He trailed off. He still wasn’t sure what caused the bad blood between John and Bobby Singer, but he was unsure as to how receptive John would be to hearing Bobby’s name. John shot him a tight smile.

“Bobby’s the best. I wouldn’t let you do anything if you hadn’t spoken to him.”

Blinking, Jim took that in. That was good. Well, except that the only answers they had were bad.

“It’s going to be painful for Dean. There is no way around it.”

“Why will it hurt him? There’s nothing wrong with Dean!”

Scrubbing a hand over his face, Jim realised the subtle approach wasn’t working. “The thing is going to have to find its way out of Dean’s body.”

John looked blank, and then paled. “Fuck.”

Jim nodded grimly. “The sooner the better, John.”