The furniture comes
crashing down all at once, and the house goes silent. John
lies flat on his back, staring up at the lamp swinging slowly in
circles above him; it's time for him to drag himself upright, stumble
outside to the family, tell them that the spirit is gone. But
the floor is cool beneath him and his ribs hurt from the chair the
potergeist threw at him; he isn't ready to move yet, because there's a
smile on his face and only thing he can think is, holy shit, it really
"The boys are learning what they need to know," John says. He's not used to contradiction.
Jim's come all the way to Iowa to argue with him, though, and he's a stubborn man. "How to fight? This is the third school Dean's been kicked out of."
"He didn't start it -- three against one and the other boys were seniors."
"The other boys didn't stand a chance," Jim says. It's true; Dean told him, half-proud and half-sulky, and John didn't know whether to be proud or ashamed either, because that's his teaching, right there. Who cares if Dean flunks history?
Absence betrays them like a phantom limb, muscle memory insisting that there's flesh to hold them up. Jokes fall flat, hatchets are thrown where there's no one to catch them, and a werewolf clawed a gash in Dean's back while John was busy taking down its mate. He blinks away rage to keep the stitches even, ignores the set of his son's jaw, knows there's no bandage big enough for this. There's a poltergeist in Reno; he'd take it alone, leave Dean here to heal, but they need practice working as a pair. Trusting what's gone will get them killed.
He nearly says something, but shock takes
away all the words as he reads: the fire, the baby, the
mother’s burnt body. Dry words, but John knows what
they signify: horror and triumph. One week ago, in a suburb
of Phoenix, the thing he wants most in the world stopped hiding from
He lifts his head to share it, the long hunt coming to a close; Dean looks up from the rifle he's cleaning and smiles Mary's smile at his father. "Found something?"
He can’t lose Mary's smile twice. "New Orleans," John says. "Want to go on your own?"
Sam tries to ignore it; shakes his head, brushes off Dean's questions,
tries not to see out of the corners of his eyes. It's too late now for
sorry and goodbye. But a jammed gun fires when he needs it, there's
never broken glass where they fall, and the Impala runs a hundred miles
on an empty tank and a flat they only find that night. Dean stopped
talking about their crazy luck three states back.
Late at night a calloused hand brushes his forehead; Sam shuts his eyes against the sight of Dean, snoring quietly in the other bed.
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