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half the man i used to be

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It’s strange, the first time you smell sex on one of your kids.

It’s an odd disparity; knowing this person since he was small and pink and crying in fits and crackles in his mother’s arms in a hospital bed and looking at him now at twenty, loose-hipped and relaxed as he saunters over where John’s bent over the hood of the car in the driveway of their rented shithole, smelling like a whore’s bed.

John takes one look at him and raises an eyebrow, unable to keep the smile from pulling at the corner of his mouth.

“You look like shit,” he informs his oldest son, though the sparkle in his eyes and the pride hidden there surely says something different.

Dean flushes, such a rare thing for John’s cocksure boy, tugs at the already stretched-out collar of his t-shirt and clears his throat as he comes to a stop beside John.

“Yeah, well,” is all Dean offers, leaning in to squint at the guts of the car, obviously in need of a distraction from the conversation.

John doesn’t tell him to go take a shower, doesn’t lecture him about safe sex or how he better’ve been a gentleman to whoever she was, he just shakes his head, smiles, and hands Dean the Crescent wrench.

“Hope you were quiet,” he says, wiping his hands off on the dirty rag he stuffs back in the pocket of the jeans Dean will inherit in a couple months. “I don’t think Sam slept very well last night.”

“Oh, he’s asleep,” Dean replies, his face hidden as he leans over the engine. “Promise.”


“Jesus, Dean,” John nearly yelps. He looks up from the tomato sauce he’s stirring in a pan on the stove, his eyes laser-focused on the violence inflicted on his son’s throat. “What, is your girlfriend a vampire?”

Sam looks up from his homework, a toss of his head sweeping his messy-long hair out of his eyes. He smirks as Dean slaps a hand over the offending hickies, his eyes wide, caught.

“Maybe a succubus,” Sam pipes up, one of his socked feet dangling just above the dirty tiled floor where he’s got his legs all colt-tangled in the shaky chair. He’s beaming when Dean looks over at him with a particularly vicious glare.

“Can we drop it?” Dean mumbles, tossing the keys on the counter and reaching for the unopened package of pasta.

Teenagers, John thinks with a smile and a pleased shake of his head, stirring with a wooden spoon in his tired hand.


He spends most of the day Saturday at the library, giving the boys a break from school and hunting by not making them come with him. His hours spent pouring over old volumes of local history and old newspaper articles amount to absolutely nothing, and he comes back home with nothing on his mind but the six-pack hanging from his thick fingers, the Jayhawks-Baylor game, and the pizza he’s going to get Dean to order.

Sam is pink-cheeked and hyper-focused on the book in his arms when John shuffles into the house, and he can’t help but stop and stare at his youngest, at the long-limbed sixteen year old sprawled out in the scratchy mustard-yellow chair next to the couch.

Sam is not very good at looking innocent when he’s anything but.

“Sammy?” he ventures, pulling the door closed behind him. He can hear the shower running from the bathroom through the door left cracked-open.

“Hey, Dad.” Sam looks up after a beat, presumably to finish a sentence. His gaze is bored, mismatching the two dots of pink on his cheeks. “How’d it go?”

John sighs, dropping the keys and the beer on the coffee table. He reaches for one and has the cap twisted off before his ass hits the couch.

“Shitty,” he replies, letting his eyes close as he takes the first long pull of discounted beer. It was either Miller High Life or dinner, and they’d run out of creative pasta dishes last night. “I got nothin’.”

“Dean called Uncle Bobby while you were gone. He said he’d call you back tonight.” Sam almost sounds happy, dangerously close to downright chipper. John cracks an eyelid and squints over at his kid, looking at him real close.

“What’d you do today?” he asks.

“Laundry,” Sam replies with a shrug, eyes on his book again. “Finished up my paper on Othello, went for a run. Kinda boring day.”

A run. That explains the flushed face, at least.

“Hm,” John says. He finally takes in what Sam is wearing; the socks that look like they belong on a soccer player, so long they come up just below his knobby knees, white with a couple of red rings on them, running shorts so tiny they’re all but hidden underneath an old Cheap Trick shirt of Dean’s that Sam has cut into, has snipped the collar right off of and let hang off his scrawny body, baring one, almost slutty shoulder.

Both of John’s eyes are open now.

“Did you go running in that?”

Wild-colored eyes up and on him again, wide with an adopted innocence.

“Yeah,” Sam replies, shrugging that naked, bony shoulder. “Why?”

“Hey, Dad.” Dean wanders in, running a hand through his damp, spiky hair, dressed normally in loose jeans and a Joe’s Crab Shack shirt. He comes to a dead stop beside his brother who is draped over the chair in what John now perceives as seduction, can only be called that when he’s wearing that crazy get-up.

“Did your brother lose a bet?” John asks Dean with a laugh, a little uncomfortable with seeing Sam in any kind of suggestive way, but Dean doesn’t react, doesn’t even blink. He’s staring at Sam like he’s an apparition, his eyes narrowed, jaw tense.

“Guess so,” Dean finally grits out, tongue scraping over his bottom lip before he at last looks up at John. His pupils are blown, his neck pink.

“...Did you two get into my whiskey?” he asks his sons, looking between the two of them in growing suspicion. “If you drank it all, I swear I’ll--”

“I’ll buy you some more,” Dean interrupts all too eagerly, turning his little boy smile on John that makes him wonder if they’re under some kind of spell. Or maybe got ahold of some pills from that weird fucker who lives next door.

“Can we order a pizza?” Sam asks, closing his book with a snap and standing up from the chair, his legs a mile long and only a little hairy and looking absolutely obscene. He’s standing next to Dean now, their heights matching exactly. Dean stares at Sam while Sam looks over at John.

“Uh, yeah,” John replies, his hand in a painfully tight grip around the neck of his beer. He should’ve dug through his change stash and scrounged up enough to get two six-packs. “I want sausage and onion.”

“Dean, you wanna come help me pick ours?” Sam gazes at his brother while John watches on, practically gulping down the rest of his beer. His head is tilted to the side, his hair lazy day-messy, one of his socked feet pressing on top of the other, rawboned leg twisted up like even it is flirting. Something coils dark in John’s stomach. He reaches for a second beer and uncaps it with slightly shaky fingers.

“Bet you want the meat-lovers,” Dean says, soft and dirty and not meant for John to hear. His hand goes to the small of Sam’s back, and John can see--clear as day when Sam starts in toward the kitchen--a mouth-shaped bruise on the inside of Sam’s thigh, too high up to be anything else. It looks fresh and angry, so deep that John can practically see the teethmarks.

He sits where he is, stunned, feeling ancient and blind and terrified of his own sons.


Two weeks later, what used to be weekend benders are now nightly ones. The brown bag in his arm clinks when he hauls himself out of the car and toward the motel room they’d gotten two nights ago in Wise River, Montana. It’s a cold night in late September, the glow from the streetlights a hazy orange that makes the tiny walk from the Impala to the door feel like a dream.

He fumbles for the motel key in his pocket, and a small, odd noise from inside gives him pause, makes his hand stay where it is just against the thigh of his jeans, his fingers twitching. He frowns, holds his breath, and listens.

“Shh, shh,” he hears from inside the room, through the thin, cheap door. Dean. “Relax. Just relax.”

There’s a pause of quiet, one that is probably anything but on the other side of the door. John’s hand falls limp at his side, his eyes wide in the shadowed darkness, and he can’t move, can’t do anything but listen to his worst nightmare come true.

The sound that follows is a pained wail, one that would have him charging into the room, gun drawn, if he didn’t know better. But he does know better.

He knows now.

Dean,” Sam says, a word John has heard him say a thousand times, but not like that. Never like that. Like Dean’s got his hand around Sam’s heart, and he’s pulling.

“Just let me in. I’ve gotta hurry, babe. Gotta hurry, he’ll be back soon. C’mon, Sammy, just--”

Another cry, this one like a sob, and then a groan from Dean that sounds feral, that sounds too much like noises John knows he makes himself.

“That’s it. That’s it, little brother.”

“Dean, please. Oh, god.

“Oh, god,” John whispers, mouth against the rotting wood of the painted door. He closes his eyes and prays that he’s wrong, prays to Mary’s angels, but he knows he’s not. He knows it’s too late. No amount of praying is going to stop what’s happening in there.

John becomes aware, in tiny nightmaric pulses, that there’s some pretty intense, pretty rough fucking going on in that motel room, between his only sons. He can hear the shuddering whine of the bed, the squeak squeak squeak that tells him Dean is good with his hips, that they’ve been doing this long enough that he has a really nice rhythm almost immediately. He can hear the low thud of the headboard against the tragically thin wall, and he wonders if the tired, strungout couple on the other side can hear it, and what they think is going on, if they do. Who they think, of the three of them they’d seen climbing out of the Impala earlier, is currently going at it like a couple of dogs in an alley in the room next door.

He can just barely make out Sam and Dean’s voices, soft whispers meant to be said against skin, the rush-breathed sounds of them kissing, audible even through a goddamn door, of Dean’s low, hungry grunts as he fucks his baby brother.

John pushes away from the door, moving on autopilot back to the car, to the one safe place he has left. He settles into the driver’s seat and stares straight ahead, at that door that is probably bulging with trying to contain all the wrong, all the sin happening on the other side.

He cracks open the first of three bottles of whiskey in the bag, touching it to his lips while a tear slides unfelt down his cheek, all the while wondering what Mary would do if she knew what he’d let their sons become.


“You gonna eat that?” Dean asks, point to Sam’s last piece of bacon with his fork as he chews, licking jelly from the corner of his mouth.

“In a minute,” Sam replies with a scowl, hunkering down over his plate to protect his bacon. “Jerk.”

“Bitch,” Dean practically purrs against Sam’s ear, making him shiver and jerk away, both of them casting naive, worried glances at John. John who is hungover and sleepless, breakfast sandwich salted and peppered but untouched on his plate.

“You okay, Dad?” John’s well-fucked youngest son asks, his eyes all big and little boy-worried when he finally takes a bite of his bacon. “You didn’t get in ‘til late.”

“Fine,” John replies faintly, eyes trained on the way Dean leans over and takes a bite from the other side of Sam’s bacon, neither of them flinching when his greasy lips brush the side of Sam’s hand. “Got into a card game with some guys down at the bar. Had to win my money back.”

“I can drive,” Dean offers, licking his lips clean of Sam’s bacon. “Sammy can sit up front next to me so you can sleep in the back. It’s a long drive to Sioux Falls.”

He can imagine, with growing, horrific precision, what the two of them look like together, sweaty and desperate and rutting in a borrowed bed.

“Yeah,” he says on a sigh, staring at the complete lack of distance between Sam and Dean’s arms. He grabs the half-smoked pack of Marlboros next to the bottle of ketchup and plucks one free, pressing it between his lips and fumbling with the lighter. “That’ll be fine.”