Java Chat
Author: girlguidejones
Rating|Pairing: G | Sam/Sarah | 2700 words
Disclaimer: No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement intended. All characters are the property of Eric Kripke and the CW.
Author's notes: My thanks to Maygra for her beta fu, and to her and Gekizetsu for graciously allowing me to hang on their playground. This is a companion piece to this story: In Which John Knows Best.

Summary: John and Sarah have an early morning talk. 

...a lot of people think Sammy got all the brains.


"Coffee?" John looked up at her from his seat at the workbench. His dark eyes flashed, eyeing the mug in her outstretched hand, and he chin-pointed at the other one she still held close. 

"Not if it's the same stuff as you're drinking," he grinned, and Sarah laughed with him. 

"Not to worry. Fully leaded is still available for all the Winchester men." Sarah pulled a stool up to the opposite side, inhaling the gun oil smell that her mind long ago started associating with home, safe, Sam. "Dean didn't waste any time buying that mini-pot for me. I actually think there's one at his place, too." 

"Well," John drawled back, threading a bristled brush into the barrel of something-or-other, "a lot of people think Sammy got all the brains. You and me, we know better, don't we?" When he winked at her, it looked just like Dean. 

"That we do," she concurred, setting her mug on the smooth-worn wood. She kept her fingers wrapped around it; the mornings were getting crisp, and she was glad of Dean's thermal-lined flannel he'd left on the chair last night. They all made the trip out here every couple of weekends; the boys trained with John, and Sarah would do a little target practice herself, just to keep competent. She and Sam would always bring something to make it more livable for John, and Dean brought beer. Curtains, a couple skillets...this time she and Sam brought an old bookshelf they'd found for five dollars at a yard sale. It was solid oak, if more than a little beat up, but John had smiled and had her help him unbox several crates of books. The old farmer who'd rented this place to John had waved an arthritically-knotted hand when John asked about fixing up the place, giving him free rein. His grandkids three states over were a bigger priority these days; he wouldn't be back before the lease was up. The gigantic old barn they were currently in was still drafty despite Sam and Dean's best efforts to chink up the biggest gaps. Still, it made a good storage area for stuff that any household needed, with room enough left over for the stuff that a Winchester needed, too. 

Sarah climbed onto the remaining high stool across from her father-in-law. As always, she found herself privately amused at the number of innocuous-seeming farmstead-type implements hanging on the walls. No one here was likely to take up hoeing and tilling, after all, but there were lots of other reasons that a Winchester might find a scythe or a sickle or a box of old iron nails useful. An entire hunter's armory hung right there on dozens of pegs in plain view, and no one would ever even blink at it. One section of the barn had been cleared out for John's truck, but the Impala rested there now. Sarah remembered how Dean had pulled the car inside two nights earlier and crooned to her that she was now a "kept woman" with a cushy place to sleep. 

Another corner had been outfitted as a makeshift workout room, with barbells and a punching bag and targets that looked like innocuous dartboards but had slits matching Sam's favorite throwing knives. Dean had scoffed, and suspended one of the cork-backed bullseyes on a swinging arm, rigging it on some sort of pendulum which could swing in any direction. "Like the bad guys are gonna stand there and vogue for you," he'd said to Sam. Sam and Sarah had spent the rest of that day quoting Madonna lyrics whenever they could, giggling until Dean gave up, grumbling, and stuffed his mp3 earbuds into his ears in surrender. John bumped her out of her reverie when he toed the portable heater a little in her direction, and she smiled her thanks as it breathed gusty heat on her ankles. 

"You sleepin' okay?" John asked, laying down a shiny silver barrel and picking up a duller one for the same treatment. "Up awful early." 

"Yes. I mean, I'm not as sick now, but... I still feel the best in the morning, you know? I don't want to waste it." John nodded, hummed something noncommittal in response, but didn't look up. It wasn't yet light, but it wasn't full dark anymore either. Sarah ventured a little more, drawing in a sip of hot decaf, burbling it across her tongue to cool it. Stalling, really. "Was...was Mary sick at night too?" 

John paused, just half a beat. Someone who didn't know any Winchesters would never have noticed. Sarah was a little proud of herself that she did. "Nope. She had the normal morning stuff." Maybe he answered a little too evenly, which she should have taken as a sign, but, well, she wanted to know

"Oh." He didn't leave her much of an opening with that. Obstinate bastard. Dean might have gotten his smooth delivery from John, but Sam's stubbornness didn't come from any stranger. Still, Sarah didn't hook a Winchester by being a wilting flower.... 

"What about your mother?" John startled her right out of whatever it was she'd been straightening her spine to say. 

"I- I don't really know." She paused, but John had those dark eyes pinned on her now, while his hands kept moving just as efficiently and surely as they'd been when he was watching them. Clearly he expected more of an answer than that, and she fought the urge to not squirm on the stool, like a grade-schooler being quizzed about who put the shaving cream on the principal's door handle. "My dad...he...he never got over her dying. He doesn't -can't- talk about her." 

John let his gaze drop, and they both sipped noisily as dawn arrived. Sarah hadn't intended to guilt him, but he's the one who'd asked. She only answered with the truth. 

"Mary loved being pregnant." John let the parts rest on the benchtop, and hooked his heels over his stool rungs. His hands were wrapped around his own mug, marking the white ceramic with greasy prints. His eyes were watching her, bright and assessing. Sarah felt like one wrong word from her would have him stalking away. But the right one...the right one might open up a hidden door, one that Sam and Dean themselves hadn't even been inside. 

"Tell me. Please." Sarah never dropped her gaze, just kept it steady and earnest on his, and John started talking. 

"Not so much to tell. She loved those boys before they were even bumps in her belly, both of them. Wanted a girl, too, but I think it was just something to say because she wanted more babies." John grinned, a real one, and Sarah grinned back. "Don't ever let on to Dean, but he's not far off when he calls Sam "Samantha". He was going to be a Sam no matter what bits he came out with," he chuckled, and she giggled with him. 

"I think having a Dean would make anyone wish for a girl," she retorted, and John laughed aloud at that, almost spitting coffee. 

"Ain't that the truth? Either way, though, I think we'd have had a half-dozen if we had the chance." John didn't sound as pained as she was afraid he might, just sad. Disappointed. Regretful. 

"You waited a while, between Dean and Sam." Sarah said mildly. She knew it was prodding, but it felt like a spell had descended, and this might be her only chance to hear these secrets. 

"No. We didn't," he answered after a moment, eyes locking on hers. "We lost one after Dean." Stunned, she gripped her wobbling cup, willing her mind to dredge up something appropriate. 

"I...I'm so sorry. I didn't know." Sarah loosed her grip on the coffee mug, reaching out her hand to touch John's wrist lightly. She didn't grip, and he could have let her just slip away again. Instead he grasped her fingers, hard. 

"They don't either. No point in telling them now, is there?" It was phrased like a question in word only. 

"Of course not." She wasn't sure how to follow that, but John went on without her, voice and grip easing. 

"Dean wasn't even two. Too young to remember. It took us a while to get Sam. Mary thought...she wasn't sure she could. It was a tough coupla years." 

"You must have been thrilled when Sam came." Sarah said quietly. 

"I remember the day -the night, really- when he moved inside her for the first time." He stopped, and Sarah wasn't sure he was going to go on. This time she wasn't going to push him. If that was it, that was it. She'd gotten so much more than she'd hoped already. "Mary was crying, and it woke me up. I was scared to death, thinking the worst, 'til she put my hand on her belly and I felt him bouncing his fist or his foot or something." 

"You had to have been so happy." 

"I was the luckiest man in the world. Until then...I felt like I was on my own, on the outside, waiting for Mary to do everything and I couldn't help or be a part of it." 

"But once he moved...?" 

"Once he moved, I felt like I was right in the middle of it. It changed everything." 

Sarah paused, the rhythm of the conversation faltering as she let her turn spool into empty seconds. She'd come out here hoping for insight on what it would be like for her, and especially anything she could learn about Mary. She didn't expect to learn what becoming a father felt like for John. She realized that she hadn't put as much thought into what Sam was feeling as maybe she should. Before she could ask, John spoke again. 

"Sam's a different man, Sarah," he said softly. "I don't think you have to worry about him." He chuckled. "I'm not sure you could un-involve him if you tried." Sarah had to laugh at that; she thought that felt right. Still...Sam wasn't the only one whose life was changing. There was someone else she hadn't thought of...someone whose life might be changed most of all. 

"Do you think...I mean...Dean...has he said anything?" she stuttered. John gave her the same amused-indulgent look she's seen on Sam's face a few times. 

"You mean besides crude comments about Sam's ability to reproduce that I'm not going to repeat to you?" he asked, eyes gleaming at her over the rim of his mug. By the tilt of it, Sarah could tell it was almost empty, and she wished she'd have brought a thermos. When the coffee ran out, the spell would break. She wanted to keep the sip - learn a secret - laugh rhythm going. 

"Ha! You're assuming he doesn't say them in front of me already. Tell me, John, have you met your oldest son?" That got a bark of laughter, his shaggy head thrown back. It warmed her more than the coffee, or the space heater, to know she could do that for him. It made it all the more disconcerting when he calmed, and leveled his gaze back on hers again. 

"Why don't you say what you really mean, Sarah?" He wasn't unkind, but it was still awkward. Sam and his thoughts and feelings were like an oncoming train. They'd always head straight at you, and there was no getting out of their way. John and Dean? If they weren't angry, they generally came at things sideways, if at all. This...this direct questioning subverted all of her conversational segues. 

"I just...I don't want him to feel left out. I don't want things to change for him and Sam. Or for him to feel like he doesn't belong. That he's lost anything. His place." Everything just bubbled out, once she let it. It wasn't hard to say after all. It was hard to stop saying. God. She was not going to cry. Damn hormones. 

John watched her breathe deeply, waiting until she was steadier before answering. "I don't want you to take this the wrong way, Sarah. But...there's nothing on this earth -or anywhere else- that will come between those boys. Part of why they both love you so much is because you'd never dream of trying." Sarah pressed her palms flat into the wooden tabletop to keep them from trembling, and stared, speechless. "This baby? It's only going to make them closer. Who do you think is going to teach Sam how to change a diaper, anyway? Or how to keep from going insane when the baby won't stop crying for hours?" John smiled, as kind as she'd ever seen him, and Sarah found her breath again. "There'll never come a time when Sam won't need him. Just try and keep Dean away." 

"Keep me away from what?" Dean materialized in the doorway, slurping coffee and wide awake. Sam shuffled sleepily behind him, a thrift-store pea coat incongruous over blue-striped pajamas. 

"The cookies Sarah said she was baking later," John said mildly. His eyes were laughing at her as he emptied his cup. She'd been Winchestered. 

"Mmmm. I vote for peanut butter." Dean set his coffee down and draped himself over her back facing John, resting his chin on the top of her head. His hands searched under the flannel for her still-flat belly, fanning there. "Nothing yet, huh?" 

"I'm sure you'll be the first to know," Sarah said primly. 

"Uh, Dean? You do realize that's my wife you're groping?" Sam took possession of Dean's temporarily abandoned coffee, making a face at the bitterness, then leaned in for her kiss. "Morning, babe. Feeling good?" She nodded and gave him her best smile -the one she kept just for him- running fingers through his messy hair. Sam was so cute when he was sleepy. 

"Wench stole my coat. Man's got a right to keep warm." Dean burrowed his cold nose in under her hair until Sarah squealed, which he took as a plea for mercy. He and Sam exchanged hostages -Dean's coffee for the warm space at Sarah's back. 

"You two solving peace in the middle east out here?" Sam's voice sounded genuinely curious in her ear. Sarah looked at her father-in-law, and smiled, leaning back into Sam's solid chest. 

"Just drawing up a schedule for dirty diaper duty," she replied, winking at John. 

"That's right, Sammy," John added. "You'd be shocked to find how often yours' and your brother's names happen to show up." He rose, clicking off the space heater, and the last bit of the spell dissolved, as the three of them stirred to follow him back to the house. 

"Now see, this's all your fault, Sam." Dean groused. 

"How's it my fault?" 

"If you could find some way -like a real man could- to keep your woman in bed..." Whatever else Dean was going to say was lost in an indignant squawk, as Sam pounced. Sarah and John grinned and rolled eyes at each other. They paused, hanging back to follow at a safe distance. 

"Sarah, I want you to promise me something." He'd draped his arm over her shoulders casually, but John's voice was low and earnest in her ear. 

"Of course....what...?" She looked up, intrigued, but maybe not as apprehensive as she would have been a half-hour earlier. 

"Don't have just the one." He nodded up ahead, to where Sam had Dean in a headlock, and Dean was awkwardly trying to yank Sam's pajama pants up his asscrack in retaliation. At the moment there was real potential for the two of them to end up rolling across the ice-tipped crabgrass between the barn and the house. They were silly, and juvenile, and inarguably, adorably brothers. "Someday you and Sam will be gone, and he...she...shouldn't have to be alone." She blinked up at John, then looked again at Sam and Dean, whose alternating laughs and curses puffed white cloud-breaths into the frosty morning. They were hooting and shuffling and tripping, all tangled up in each other, and she almost couldn't tell where Dean ended and Sam began. 

Sarah promised. 


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November 28th, 2007