Title: Up Keep
Rating: PG - Gen - wee!&tee!chester
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Dean takes care of his family when they can't take care of themselves.
John woke up instantly but lay still to gauge the necessity and which grade of consciousness was required for the moment. He could tell his fourteen year old boy where the pliers were without actually waking all the way up. If the kid needed the keys to the car he didn't even have to speak, he could just point. But if the farm house they currently were residing in was on fire he might have to actually open his eyes.
"Dad, you awake?"
Dean's voice was louder and a little insistent.
With a sigh, John was surprised to find the room dark. Rubbing a hand through his hair, he took a look at the red glow of his digital clock on the bed side.
It took him a moment to figure out what was going on. He had laid down in the beginning of the hot seep of the afternoon to take a one or two hour power sleep before he headed out again. But he'd slept a little longer than he'd planned. In fact, he'd managed to black out for almost fifteen goddamn hours. Several hours of heavy gun maintenance left undone and an entire night he was supposed to be using to get to Maine.
"Jesus." He groaned and rolled over onto his back.
It felt like he could just drift right on back to dream land too.
He sighed and swung his legs over the side of the bed, scrubbing his face with his hands and feeling the stiffness in his shoulders and neck from having been laying down for so long. John looked up to his open door and saw the familiar shape of his son's shadow standing in the doorway.
"Looks like I hit the snooze button." John joked wryly, unable to see Dean's face for any kind of reaction.
"Hungry?" His son asked.
John took a moment to wrap his groggy mind around the question before he realized that yes, he was extremely hungry. That kind of hungry that didn't even feel like anything but sharp pains that hovered near nausea. Alongside all of that, the dull thud of a headache told him just how long he'd been without a cup of black coffee too.
"Cornflake time." He murmured.
With a stretch, he stood and yawned. The thought of navigating his way to some cold stale cereal and waiting for water to turn into coffee almost made him want to give up and just lay back down. But he knew that wasn't really an option.
"You go on back to bed." John told him.
"Wasn't sleepin'." Dean replied.
John heard him go, his footsteps down the stairs steady and slow.
The bottom floor of Joshua's house was almost all one room.
The living room just turned a corner into a kitchen, and then the kitchen door out to a front porch that was practically a room itself. It was a comfortable place for having belonged to a solitary bachelor for who knew how many years. The entire house and the farm it sat on were neglected to the point of run down, but that suited John just fine. There was old soft overstuffed furniture that was pleasant to lay or sit on. The rickety porch even had a rocking chair on it. Unlike most of the men John knew that boasted at best a solitary old box of pasta and a fridge filled with nothing but expired condiments, these cabinets were filled with actual food and cooking utensils. Thinking of nourishment, John realized something bubbling on the stove smelled pretty good.
He was distracted by what he found sprawled on the sofa.
"What's that doing down here?"
Dean glanced over at his younger brother whom was sleeping upside down in a strange tangle of blankets and pillows.
"He wouldn't go to bed so I let 'em knock himself out."
Long rides in the back seat and the late night drone of a television in the dark. Two sure fire ways to get that kid to sleep. But he didn't like it much that the rules seemed to fly right out the window the moment their father was out of commission. He figured that it was probably like this every time he stepped out the door and left his oldest in charge. John rubbed at his forehead as his caffeine withdrawal settled into a steady pound behind his eyes.
Dean had never been much for ruling with an iron fist.
Sammy would rather die than eat dinner? Fine, his older brother would just go ahead and give the kid one of those protein bars that looked like candy so at least he'd eaten something. Sammy didn't want to wear his jacket? Fine, he could wear three sweaters and that ridiculously too big hunters hat with the ear flaps that he never got to use. It went on and on, with Dean quietly letting his little brother think he'd won the battle while ultimately winning it himself. A series of stacked and rigged compromises, one after another and another to get through the day.
Sammy knew better than to play that game with his father. For now at least. John wondered just exactly how long that would last. That kid was going to realize one day just how powerless every parent on the planet truly was. And when he did, John was sure it wasn't going to be pretty. Just thinking about it made him feel even more tired than he already did. But, whatever Dean's method, Sammy was sleeping.
And at the moment, John was too wiped out to argue with results.
"Looks like you weren't feeling much like bed yourself." He said pointedly to his oldest.
At the stove, Dean looked back at him over his shoulder. John recognized the look of uncertainty there. Was he in trouble or was his old man just asking him a question? In all honesty, John was sure either. His boy had gotten to that age where he was more of a man than a kid. Looking more like one too. It felt strange and somehow demeaning to assume that his son couldn't put himself into bed when he was tired and get out of it when he wasn't.
John saw the fresh pot of coffee steaming on the counter.
Pouring himself a cup, he slumped down in a chair at the round wood table that sat at the den and kitchen's adjoining corner. Taking a grateful first sip, his gaze fell on the multitude of jammed up and dirty weapons he'd left for after his 'nap'. They now all sat cleaned and oiled, neatly propped up against the wall in perfect order.
"Yer going to end up sleeping your day away and completely wasting it like I did." John decided to say. Not quite a reprimand, but no approval there either.
Dean set down a few bowls and tossed a hand towel down before setting a big pot of stew in front of him.
John wasn't quite sure when or how it happened but his boy was a pretty decent cook. It wasn't like the kid was about to start a cable show or anything but what was being scooped into his dish didn't look half bad. Usually he only noticed when they were in a place like this. A place where they were able to do better than the contents of a can to heat up or something from a bag that was already cold. Sparsity tended to lead to creativity he supposed.
"No school today." Dean said in a mumble as he took his own seat.
John's mental weekday calendar was blurred by his time loss. But it was true, it was Saturday. It didn't take him long to realize just exactly why his son had felt the need to inform him of this tidbit of information. After all, there was that job he was a day late for up north.
"I don't know." John shook his head. "We'd have to detour to drop Sammy with Jefferson..."
Dean's spoon made repeated noisy contact with the bottom of his bowl.
John looked down at the food he'd said he'd make himself and then at the row of his arsenal that required nothing of him but to be placed into the car's trunk. He drank the coffee he hadn't had to brew and began to go over the details of the gig that somehow was about to become a two man mission instead of solo.
"You think yer not too tired to take a trip up to Maine with me?" It felt right at the moment to make it a question.
His boy broke into a smile. "No, sir!"
As John started to eat he studied Dean who was now hurriedly gulping down his food so they could sooner get on the road. His boy was something all right. Compromises and unworded persuasion. Careful observation and even vigilant grades of obedience. He wondered if maybe Sammy wasn't the only one around here that thought he was getting his way most of the time.
John wondered just how many battles he thought he was graciously letting go just so Dean could get them all through the day.