Title: Long Distance
Author: nicky69
Pairing: gen
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: G
Summary: Dean's not as OK as he would have Sam believe. Set after John's death, early season two.


Dean can feel it, the need. It calls to him, tainting his days with longing and regret. His hand itches, and he has to make a conscious effort to stop from reaching into his coat pocket for his cell phone. If Sam sees him, sees his struggle he says nothing, and for that Dean doesn't know whether to be grateful or ashamed.

Sam's gone now, out on a rare supply run. When Dean had thrown him the keys to his baby and told him to get gone before he changed his mind Sam's sharp gaze had cycled from suspicious through concerned before settling into an expression of such open eyed delight that Dean couldn't help but smile at his brothers excitement.

Now Dean is alone in yet another grimy, anonymous motel room. Seems like he's spent his entire life sleeping on lumpy beds and eating greasy take out food, everything he owns, a few changes of clothes and his weapons, capable of fitting into a duffle bag in the trunk of his precious Impala.

Most of the time he doesn't let it bother him, his lack of possessions. The life that they live is filled with fleeting and transient relationships, their dealings with others limited to the confines of the job they are working. There's no place for personal luxuries either physical or emotional. It's just easier with nothing and no one to tie him down, but tonight he longs for some connection to the past, something that's real, that's his alone.

Without conscious thought Dean finds his hand reaching for his cell phone, the plastic still warm with retained body heat, and flips it open. Silently he scrolls until he finds the number he wants, his hand hovering over the green call button. The need is strong in him now, overwhelming.

Dean knows that there is a life after death, knows that this life is not conclusion; he has seen it, literally, for himself. Still sometimes he needs more than that intellectual knowledge and the hope that one day- one day he'll see his family again. It isn't enough- it never has been.

He hits call and for a second or two he hangs in limbo until the call goes through. At the first words his heart lurches painfully and grief rushes through him, but he welcomes the pain, it's a sign that he's still alive, still human. It doesn't stop the shameful tears or the hurt but just hearing his voice again is enough, it has to be, it's all he has left of his father.

"This is John Winchester. I can't be reached right now. If you have an emergency contact my son Dean on 555 311 2669."

The message is curt, sharp and to the point, just like the man himself. Sitting perched on the edge of his bed in the grubby little motel room it's a lifeline, and Dean lets the words flow over him and through him, remembering.

Their dad- indeed their entire life had been, to put it nicely, unconventional. John Winchester had been driven, a man on a mission to destroy the evil things that tainted the world and that had left him with little time in his life for bringing his boys up fit to take their place in so called normal society. In truth he was a hard assed, hard headed son of a bitch, more drill sergeant than father and as imperfect as a man could be.

He had pushed his boys hard, always taking, demanding their obedience and respect, occasionally offering praise when they performed well. All they ever truly wanted was to know that he gave a damn about them, that they were more than just daddy's blunt little instruments; like all children they just wanted to know that they were loved!

Perhaps it was his own pain that blinded him to theirs, or maybe he really did think that what he was doing was for the best, toughening them up for the life before them, who could say? In the end it made no difference, John had pushed one time too many and Sam had walked away, seeking the 'normal' that he so craved and Dean had been left to deal with the fallout, alone as usual.

Still none of that means anything to him now. The expression on his face is more wistful than angry, his original fury having burned itself out long ago in a firestorm of grief and pain, leaving behind only an aching sense of loss and failure. He'd give anything to see his dad again; to hold him, speak with him, hell, even watch him and Sammy go at it like they used to before Sam left for Stanford, but this fragment, these few words are all that he has left of the whole. It's a pale substitute but it's all Dean has left; he sits hitting redial until he hears the familiar purr of the Impala draw up in from of the motel room signalling Sam's return.

By the time Sam enters the room laden down with their supplies, Dean's cell phone is safely tucked away in his jeans pocket and he has his game face on. Dean knows that when he gets behind the wheel of the Impala in the morning he'll find the radio tuned to some emo bullshit station and he'll enjoy tearing Sammy a new one for messing with his baby, but for now he says nothing.

Instead they continue a time honoured Winchester tradition and eat lousy Chinese food together for dinner. Sam grumbles about trans fats and cholesterol or some crap like that and Dean smirks and grabs his plate when Sam shoves it away in disgust, happily downing the leftover food. Later that night Sam surfs the net looking for a new job while Dean watches some old Western on TV before they call it a night. And if Dean's eyes are a little bloodshot, his nose a little too red, neither of them mention it. After all, that's the Winchester way.