Title: Ward of the State
Rating: PG - wee!wee!Chesters - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Someone gets temporary custody of John's kids...
It was hard to miss.
Big and black it roared like the thing had dropped its muffler somewhere along the freeway. The cracked, plastic telephone rang off the hook with complaints about the noise the first early morning it had arrived. The AM wasn't an unusual time for guests to check in but this guy seemed a little different. It didn't look like some cheerful exhausted break in some family vacation, he looked like some guy on the run with two kids in the back seat.
As a responsible motel manager he'd paid extra special attention to 'America's Most Wanted' the following evening. The bearded man had paid through the week. He saw him go out in and out in that old gas guzzler that had woken up all his guests that first night. Those kids were never with him.
But when one day went by and he didn't see that monstrosity parked out in front of room 7, he took note when the very next day it still wasn't there. The end of the week came and the all American ride still hadn't appeared back into its parking space. Thankful that the week had been paid he marked the room for cleaning service the next day and didn't think much more about it. That was until the very next morning he found a bundle of cash worth another day's stay clipped carefully to some motel stationary.
It had been slipped under his office door. Strange but not the oddest thing his guests had done in his thirty year old establishment. With a shrug he counted the crumpled money out into the register and wondered how he'd missed that big old car come in and out. By the next day and a second bundle of cash had been left under the door, he knew he hadn't missed the car.
It had never come back.
It was a short walk to the room. He looked briefly at the empty parking space in front of it before he tentatively knocked on the door.
He eyed the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the doorknob and knocked again, this time a little bit harder. He heard a television click off and then more silence. His hand was already holding the master key that would let him inside. It was dark in there. The curtains were drawn tight and the air was humid with the scent of warm soap. From the sound of the steady drip, he knew the shower had just been running. He almost missed the little kid sitting under an entire bed's worth of blankets and sheets. The kid was young, maybe 4 or 5 and from what he could see, and from the looks of him, he had a hell of a cold.
"We paid." Someone said out of nowhere.
It was the other kid, his hair damp from his shower, and pulling on a flannel that was a little too big for him. He was older, maybe 8 on the outside. The manager cleared his throat and got his bearings. Taking a good look at the empty soda cans, he sighed at the scattered wrappers from the junk out of the vending machine.
"You can't stay here alone. I have insurance. Something happen to you, they'll eat me alive." He didn't want to say 'I can't watch over abandoned children in my motel'. He didn't want to say 'When do you figure that Dad or whoever he was will be coming back to feed ya both?'
"But we paid." His voice was almost sad, disappointment in having thought he had done everything right.
"Don't worry." The manager told him halfheartedly. "I'm not sending you out on the streets."
He had to make a few phone calls as this had unfortunately happened before in his business and he knew exactly what to do.
It was a small town but it wasn't without its resources.
John knew with one pass of the motel that something went wrong. All the usual signals were missing from the windows and some shiny SUV was parked where he should have been. He parked in a nearby field and confirmed his suspicions. The room was now occupied by a small family of three which included a crying infant that masked his passage under and around their bathroom window rather efficiently.
As he walked back he saw no tracks that would indicate his boys had gone into hiding. He glanced over his shoulder at the far off night manager flipping through a paper on the porch of his office.
It was him.
John sighed. That left social services, the cops and temporary foster care. He swung the car door closed. There would have been cops sure, but his boys knew what to say to them. Social services, well, they were a little smarter, but a town like this would depend on some regional branch that wouldn't get here at best until tomorrow morning.
That left foster care. And foster care usually meant some older woman with a bunch of cats that lived on the edge of town. He pulled off onto the town's main street and looked for the nearest gas station. A few pointed questions about nothing much at all would get him exactly what he needed.
The house was a bit more run down that what he had expected. One of those old farm houses that hadn't seen a fresh coat of paint since the last time the fields were tended. He slipped a 45 in the back of his jeans just in case the old lady was a real country type, complete with loaded rifle by her bedside.
He cringed when his boots made the front steps creak and groan, the unlocked front door hinges had had the decency to have been oiled this century so it swung open silently. John stepped into a tidy small living room, observing the only light that seemed to come from the back of the first floor. He paused when he heard voices. Young ones. His boys.
This might be easier than he had previously thought.
But the click of a rifle locking and loading directly behind his head made him stop dead in his tracks.
Maybe not. For an old broad she moved like a freaking ninja.
Little old granny or not that rifle could put a nice sized hole in him if he made the wrong move. John knew when to put up his hands. To his chagrin the pistol he had concealed in his jeans was slipped out, revealed by raising the arms of his coat.
"Where you come from," the person behind him asked in a soft voice,"...they don't knock?"
John froze. This was no old lady.
"It's ok." John thought to say. "They're mine."
"Left yours with the flu out in a motel, " the rifle point nudged forward towards the light and the voices. "Now it seems the state thinks yours is theirs."
John was stopped at the corner or what looked like a small dining room. There were his boys. Both wearing shirts more than a few sizes too big for them and eating apple pie and ice cream out of mismatched bowls.
"Boys." John said heedless of the danger at his back. He felt the rifle tip immediately disappear as the children turned in their direction.
Dean's smile didn't last long as he looked back guiltily at the bowl half empty before him. "I didn't eat his dinner Dad, I swear, I didn't--"
"He didn't eat it three times." Sammy illustrated by holding up his hand and showing three fingers. He promptly sneezed.
Dean sunk low into his seat and put aside his spoon.
John risked a look behind him and found himself on the rare side of semi-shock. Not only was the man behind him wearing the collar of an ordained priest, the crucifix around his neck was joined by something he didn't see very often on a man of God.
"N-Not many preachers I see wearin a pentagram." John's gaze flickered from the pendant that hung next to a cross against the man's chest, and back up to a gentle countenance that was regarding him with something like amusement.
"Probably not as often as I see a man carrying a concealed 45 wearing rosary beads."
John made to speak but was stopped.
"After your oldest tried to lock me in a police choke hold I more or less got the story from Sam." The clergy man looked back over at the silent children. "Interesting kids you've got here. They mentioned you'd come."
Sam was young enough that his stories usually just sounded like stories. But not to this guy. "Yeah, well, thanks but we've got to get--"
He held out his hand. "My name is Jim, you're safe here."
They shared a look that revealed all their usual secrets. The hunting, the weapons and even what they sought in the dark. So this man of the cloth was a man like him. He'd met them before, but never like this.
John stared at the hand a moment before he took it.
"Your little one has a fever and they both could use a bed." The clergy man named Jim considered him as well. "You look as if you could use some sleep yourself."
Despite the exhaustion that seeped so far down deep in his bones he could have dozed standing right there, he shook his head. "No, thank you, we've got to make Montana by tomorrow--"
Sammy sneezed again and lay his head down on the table. "My belly hurts."
John looked at Sammy's almost untouched pie and sighed.
"Maybe for just one night."
"Make it two, the game is on tomorrow."
John eyed him suspiciously. "What about Social Services?"
Jim smiled. "I never contacted them."
"But the police report--"
"This is my town." He assured him. "Has been for years."
John felt Sammy's forehead and picked him up. Noticing the open bottle of children's Tylenol, he silently was glad that Dean didn't have to be told to do the dishes. He followed the man named Jim up towards some stairs, the air smelling like candle wax and yellowed vellum. Old wood and varnish. Clean sheets and warm blankets.
"You never told me your name." The man ahead of him said quietly.
He readjusted the dozing child on his shoulder and figured, what the hell?
"John." He answered. "John Winchester."
"Nice to meet you John."
"Yeah." He opened a door that had two comfortable looking beds inside.
"Call me Pastor Jim."
(Go here for some artwork by urdsama from this fic! So cute!)