Okay, this is a longer one... And we're heading straight down the road towards the end. There's only one chap left after this. But don't worry! Next story's already finished... *grinning* I'd be glad if you'd join me there, too! Thanks!

Dean fell silent, not daring to look at Bobby when his face burned with the shame of failing and disappointing his father.

Bobby blinked, not able to move at first, the words of the boy settling down with a sour taste.

„That damn bastard" He finally hissed and rubbed a hand down his face, suddenly exhausted by Dean's confession. „Boy, why – just why – did you never say a word to me? Or anyone else? It's never right to beat a child, never, you hear me?"

„Again, Bobby, we're not normal children, Sammy and me. And he never laid a hand on Sammy, I swear! It was always me that made the mistakes." Dean smiled crookedly, having the odd feeling as if a heavy burden was taken from his shoulders.

„Yeah, sure." Bobby rolled his eyes. „He made the mistake to not drop you two off with some couple to grow up as kids, not little adults. And I tell you, I won't let him take you with him, I'll take care of that. Should have done that the first time he showed up with you two! You don't have to go back to him, if you don't want to."

Dean tensioned and fervently shook his head. „No, Bobby! There's no need for that."

„Right" Bobby said dryly and motioned with his chin towards the freshly bandaged back of Dean. "That's pretty obvious."

Sam burst into the room, cheeks flushed and hair tousled. „Dad's come back, and he looks really pissed!"

Bobby gestured the boys to stay inside and grabbed his scattergun. „You stay. I'll take care of that. Once and for now."

He went outside, blinking at the glaring sun that forced him to shadow his eyes.

John stood a few yards from the porch, hands stuffed into his jacket's pockets. „I'm here to take my boys, Bobby." His voice was loud and thundered.

Bobby pushed the shield of his greasy cap back and slowly shook his head. „I don't think you will do that, John. I can't even believe you have the guts to show up and pretend nothing has happened."

John growled and took a step towards the porch, only stopped by Bobby who raised the gun now. „I certainly do nothing like pretending, Bobby. I'm always acting for the best of the boys. Now, please send them out to me." He lifted his empty hands and moved a step forward.

Bobby pressed his lips together. „You're such son-of-a-bitch, John. You just beat your kid bloody and dare say that was for his best? Ya' know, he's in there, Dean, finding excuses why you did that, he's not even mad at you – and that really scares me. What else did you do to this boy, John, huh? Just how could you kill any self-respect in Dean? He doesn't deserve such a treatment, he's a fine boy!"

„Yes, I know that he is." John smiled. „That's why he's coming with me. And his brother, too."

Bobby cocked the weapon and aimed it at John. „Get away from my property. Now."

John froze, staring at the weapon. He slowly rose his empty hands and gradually walked backwards to his car. "Easy, Bobby. If you think that's maybe the best for now, fine. You got the gun. But believe me, I never wanted to hurt any of them – there just was no other choice. Besides, I don't have to justify my actions to you." His shoulders dropped a few inches, and Bobby lowered the gun in unison. "No other choice?! Who do you think you're fooling? This boy's done everything you always wanted – damn, he'd jump off a bridge if you just sniffed your nose! And what did he get? You beat him, 'cause you were too drunk to realize he did what you hammered into his head since he was a kid!"

"Bobby..."

"No more Bobby, please. Just go now." He lifted the gun once more and felt his heart beat so hard against his chest it almost hurt. He had thought he'd known the guy opposite to him, but that had obviously been a big mistake. And now that he looked into John's dark eyes that seemed bottomless he was so tempted to just pull the trigger and pay him back all the pain he had caused the two boys now safe in Bobby's house.

"All right, all right, I'm leaving. But I tell you one thing, Bobby Singer: you can't hold them back if they don't want to. I know my kids." He turned on his heels and went to his car, leaving the yard with a big dusty cloud.

Bobby couldn't help but sigh. He knew deep in his heart that John was probably right, but still he felt he had stopped the deadly spiral John had drawn his boys into ever since the horrible death of their mother.

„BOBBY!" The despair in Sam's voice whirled the old hunter around, throwing the gun away, not caring if it could go off by the harsh treatment. He ran back into the living-room and came to a dead stop.

„Whatta ya think you're doin'?" He snarled at Dean, who had lifted his aching body from the couch.

„Dad needs me. I have to go. And there's no way you could hold me back." He agonizingly slow pulled the black shirt over his head and shoulders, barely stiffling a moan when his torn skin cracked open again on some spots. Bobby watched him helpless, angered. „You should really stay and let those slashes heal before you head after him," he tried and got into Dean's way.

„Thanks for the offer, Bobby, but I think I should be with Dad."

"And I don't think that would be a good idea just now. You're no help to him in the state you're in." When he saw that logic didn't get through to Dean, his voice became harsh and commanding. "You get back onto that couch now! You can go after him once you're better!"

Dean's eyes grew wide and he obeyed mutely, with Sam standing by his side, mouth wide open. Bobby had to turn away and barely made it into the kitchen, where he leaned heavy onto the sink, fighting the urge to retch. It had been the tone of John he had thrown at the boy. He reached for the faucet and rinsed his mouth with the cool, clear water. By all Saints, who was he to judge John?! Pushing the same buttons that John had for the boy's whole life. And now he, Bobby, stood here, defending himself with the own very words that John had used only a few minutes ago: It was just for Dean's best. His vision blurred as the whisky he had drunk last night together with John rolled up in his stomach and he bent forward in time to spit it into the sink. How come our lives are so screwed? He raised his head, wiping his mouth with his sleeve and resolutely shook his head. No need to whine over spilled milk. Besides, if that demon-shit hadn't happened to any of us, we most certainly never would have met. And not for the first time he wondered what life would have looked like if his wife hadn't been possessed, with him stabbing her down. They had talked about having kids, before – before the thing had happened. And all he now could think of was that he was glad no kid of his own had been forced to see it's mother being overtaken by a supernatural entity. This won't lead to nothin'. He jerked his head to the door.

Dean stood there, leaning against the frame, with a shy, careful look in his eyes. "Everything okay with you, Bobby?"

First, Bobby was tempted to unburden his heart to the younger one, but he refrained himself. No need to add further shit on the boy's shoulders. The older hunter shook his head, a sad expression on his face. „Just tell me why you not just send that father of yours to hell after what he did to you."

Dean froze. „He's my dad. All and everything he did was to protect us and to keep evil at bay. He always had a good reason for any of his actions."

„Boy, you can't be right in that head of yours!" Bobby barked and chided himself for that when Dean winced and unconsciously took on a defensive stance. Great, Singer, doin' the same mistakes all over again.

„I am. And if his methods are the only way to make things clear to me, then that works for me. If he had raised us the soft way, shooing every little ouchie we got over the years, we certainly never would have survived until today. He's my father, Bobby – I got no-one else left except for him and Sam. It's all about family and loyalty."

It was as if the younger one had slapped him right across the face. I got no-one else left. These words burned into Bobby and made his eyes suddenly sting. He wished he could move, he could grab that stubborn boy by his shoulders and shake him, shout at him and pull him into his arms all at once. But I'm part of that family too, Dean! Family doesn't end with blood, his heart screamed at him. But, being the rough and tough Bobby Singer, he came up with nothing but a simple "Okay." He cleared his throat and continued, surprised that his voice sounded like a stranger's: "But please stay at least until your back is better. You don't want to scare Sammy to death again with your bloody back, will ya?!"

Dean hung his head and obviously weighed the facts. Then he nodded slowly, not looking up.