Family, Faith & Certitude
by May Robinson
"Sammy, go see what your brother's doing."
The words weren't a request, came out as a command and Bobby winced when he saw the rebellious look flash across Sam Winchester's face. Every man had his limits and Bobby figured, after days of rations, curfew, and what might as well have been boot-camp, Sam had just about reached the end of his tether.
Bobby'd been watching John ride herd on Sam and Dean for days now, training specifically for the added rigors of their upcoming hunt. Sure, it was the middle of March so winter couldn't exactly be declared over, and they were going to be roughing it in the wilds of Minnesota. Hunting a Wendigo, no less. Still, the boys were still boys and Bobby's stomach always did turn when he witnessed John Winchester, USMC, in action with those kids.
It hadn't always been that way. Bobby remembered a time when the kids were little squirts that the man actually seemed to have a kind word to say to his sons. Hugged them even. Admittedly, over the last number of years, whenever they did swing by his yard, they were always in the middle of a hunt. Never saw them during downtime like Jim Murphy did. Hell, aside from that brief glimpse of humanity making an appearance last year when John handed over the Impala's keys to Dean in his salvage yard, Bobby wasn't really sure when he'd last seen Winchester crack a smile around his kids.
And that just didn't sit too awful well with him.
"They won't let me in there, Dad, you know that.
"So, given that Bobby was of the opinion that John was just plain too hard on his boys, it came as quite a shock to him to see John just sit there and let slide the implied, "you imbecile" that Bobby could hear clear as crystal in the boy's sullen reply.
Hell, Bobby wouldn't put up with that kind of shit coming from Sam.
True, Sam was underage, but then again, so was Dean. Admittedly, Sam's latest growth spurt did nothing in the way of helping him appear a day older than his nearly fifteen years. Already a hair taller than both Dean and his daddy, with those gangly arms, legs and monstrous feet, not to mention in dire need of a barber, the kid was starting to resemble an overgrown chimpanzee. It was a true testament to the boy's grit and determination that he hadn't killed himself keeping up with his brother on any of the recent drills John had been putting his boys through.
Dean though, was a different story. Despite being only nineteen and possessing the blonde hair, big eyes, and long lashes that should only belong on Hollywood starlets or one of those god-awful early 70's velvet kids paintings, he still had the carriage and confidence required to waltz past the "no-one under 21 permitted beyond this point" sign, order a draft, pick up a cue, and make himself at home.
It was Jim Murphy who'd pointed them all to Brogan's Pub years ago. Being just off of 169 with a motel right next door, it was the best place to be when Jim was otherwise occupied with his day-job. Close enough to Jim's, Brogan's served decent food and drink, and Bobby knew John liked it because the billiards room provided him, and more recently Dean, ample opportunity to hone their considerable abilities at both eight- and nine-ball.
Neither of them hustled here. Too near to Jim's stomping grounds. And since Murphy's was the closest the Winchesters had ever come to referring to as a home-base over the years, Bobby's place included, John wasn't inclined to step on toes by fleecing any of the pastor's flock. Bobby couldn't say he blamed him. Jim carried a big knife.
Though, by the sounds of the ooin', awin' and hootin' and hollerin' going on in the next room, and the all-suffering sigh just exhaled across the booth from him, Bobby knew John wasn't gonna be too happy if his eldest was putting on a show. Kid didn't quite understand yet that those looks combined with masterful pool skills would get him recognized. Or worse yet, garner him a reputation as far away as the Twin Cities or beyond. And just because John drew the line at hustling the good people residing in and around Blue Earth, it didn't mean he had any qualms about making a buck off of the neighboring populace.
Hence why the sudden din of applause and laughter emanating from the other room made Bobby cringe and undoubtedly prompted John's, "Now, Sammy. Go."
Winchester's growl brooked no argument and Sam, wisely responding this time with a "Yes, sir," bolted up from his spot where he'd been reading over Bobby's shoulder all night. His hip or thigh or some other part of that still growing anatomy knocked the table's edge as he exited the booth, causing John to let fly a muffled curse and grab up their drinks while Bobby rescued the notes and maps they'd spread out between them.
"Sorry, sorry," the kid sputtered, all signs of petulance gone as a blush, noticeable even in the dim lighting of the pub, worked its way from the poor kid's cheeks to his ears. Or, at least what Bobby could see of them.
"No harm done, Sam. We got it covered," he said genially as John used a napkin to blot up the beer that had escaped during their table's short-lived impersonation of a tilt-a-whirl. "Go on and do your father's biddin' now," he added, spreading the map over the table-top and then sorting the documents back into their respective piles.
"I'm on it," was Sam's reply, his dark eyes expressing gratitude as he headed toward the other room. No doubt more than a little relieved he had a legitimate excuse for escaping John's disapproving wrath.
"Christ, I'll be glad when he grows into those feet," John said then, surprising Bobby with a definite thread of humor in his voice. If that hadn't thrown him, the fondness quirking John's lips into a warm smile definitely did, even as they watched his youngest exit their aisle and make his way over to lean against the archway dividing them from Dean.
Was Bobby actually witnessing downtime?
Throwing caution to the wind, Bobby tossed out a taunt. "Careful what you wish for, Johnny-boy." Hooking a thumb in Sam's direction, he continued. "That boy there grows into himself, fills out some, and he'll be able to kick your ass from here into next week whenever he has a mind to."
"Don't I know it." John bobbed his head in agreement, took a swig of his Pabst. He was grinning damn near mischievously now. "That's why I've got Dean training him. The old man needs to keep a few tricks up his sleeve."
Chuckling at the bull Bobby knew Winchester was slinging, he still raised his half-empty mug in salute. "You keep tellin' yourself that, old man."
Another thing that peeved him about John was that the man kept altogether too many secrets from his sons. But, when it came to training them, preparing Dean and Sam for what might be out there waiting for them in the dark, he knew John would never hold out on those boys. Not when it meant life or death. Bobby had to believe that. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to hunt with him, let alone look at the man.
Sobering at the thought and more than a little reluctant to put a dent in the comfortable ease with which they were finding each other, Bobby's concern for John's kids couldn't stay unspoken. "You sure they're up for a Wendigo, John?"
"You sayin' my boys can't pull their weight, Singer?" Shit. Sure enough, Winchester's hackles went on the rise.
"Jesus H. Christ. Now don’t go gettin' your panties in a twist." If there was ever any doubt as to the source of Sam's temper. . . No, come to think of it, there never had been any doubt. Bobby'd still have to smooth John's ruffled feathers though. "You know damn well it ain't my ass I'm worried about. You said it yourself. . . Sam's still growin' into himself."
Apparently granting Bobby a stay of execution, the tension in John's posture eased, as did the hard glint in his eyes. "He'll be fine, Bobby." Pure conviction in his voice. "Give Sammy something to focus on and he's as stubborn and particular about doing things the right way as I am."
Stifling a snort, Bobby couldn't help but agree. "All right, John. I won't worry about 'em then."
Throwing Bobby's words back at him, John smirked. "You keep tellin' yourself that, old man." Shrugging his shoulders, his tone getting more and more conciliatory. "If Sam knows it's all on him to watch his brother's back, he won't take a misstep. You can count on that."
Trusting John's assessment of Sam's abilities, Bobby still knew he'd be quite content to never have to see it put to the test. It wasn't that he didn't trust the Winchester boys. Rather, he'd just as soon never see them in that kind of a life and death situation.
Never in a million years did he imagine they'd all be tested right there, that night, in the middle of Brogan's Pub.
Rating: PG13, T (harsh language)
Wordcount: approx. 12,000
Pairing/Characters: Genfic, no pairings. Bobby Singer, Dean, Sam & John Winchester
Spoilers: Minor, none beyond 2.22
Disclaimers: See my author's page