Trial Separation

Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue me.

So, Karen you got your wish. Here's a little fic just in time for the end of your birthday week. Shar

Wee – Chester

There comes a time in every young mans life when he must step away from his family – if only for the day.

…..

"Dean get your shoes on, we're going to town."

"What for?"

"We've got to get supplies for next week. We need to shop for new shoes and some clothes for both you and Sammy. You're both going like weeds."

"We're not weeds, Daddy, we're boys!"

Reaching over to ruffle his eldest son's hair John smiled. Dean had been silent for over a year, but with Sammy chattering almost constantly now Dean had again joined the world as a communicator.

"What I mean is that both you and Sammy are getting bigger so we need clothes that will fit you this fall."

"But it's still summer, a long time til it's cold again."

"Remember when we talked the other day about going to school in September?"

"Yeah, but that's a long time from now," a whine creeping into his young voice.

"It's just a couple weeks from now, son."

"But I don't want to go to school!" Dean's small face went into a full pout, the "you can't make me" went unspoken but was carved into the deep furrow of his brow.

"Dean, we've talked about this," John squat down to see eye to eye with his defiant son. Pausing to maintain his patience and tone he continued, "It's your job to go to school and learn to read and write."

"I can spell my name already so I don't have to go."

"You're right you can spell your name but there's so much more you need to learn."

"But who's gonna take care of Sammy when you're at work? We can't leave him by hisself all day," concern for his brother's care had always been utmost in Dean's mind. Sadness washed over Dean's face as he remembered the night of the fire. The night his young life changed forever.

Hugging Dean close John whispered to his eldest, "I know it's going to be hard to leave Sammy but it's only for a few hours each day. I have a hard time every day when I have to leave the two of you to go to work. But knowing that you and Sammy have each other makes it okay for me.

Just think of the things you can teach him when you get home."

The whine in Dean's voice amping up, "But who's gonna to stay with him if I'm gone?"

"Well after we go shopping we're going to meet a friend of mine. She can stay with Sammy while you're at school, then the three of you can play together until I get home."

"What's your friend's name? That man from the shop?"

"No, it's not. Her name is Jeri and she's very nice."

"You're going to leave Sammy with a girl?!"

"Jeri's not a girl, Dean she's a very nice woman that Pastor Jim and Melinda know."

"I bet she smells like an old woman," Dean declared as he turned and ran to the room he shared with Sammy.

John followed Dean into the room and saw his bare feet disappear as he shimmied under the bed.

"Dean, we've talked about this before. You have to go to school and we need help watching Sammy while we both do our jobs." Reaching under the edge of the bed John grabbed Dean by the ankles and hauled him out from under the bed.

"Let's go and get you some new shoes. We can get a happy meal for you and Sammy then you can play on the playground for awhile."

"I still don't wanna go to school," Dean grumbled under his breath.

"Dean, for today we'll just get shoes, a happy meal and we'll meet Jeri. Now go get in the car and we can get to the fun stuff."

Mumbling under his breath as he headed for the backseat of the Impala, "I still don't wanna go to school."

0 = 0

With his happy meal in hand Dean sat in the booth across from his dad with Sammy stationed at the end of the table in the highchair. "This is the best happy meal. It's just how I like it, with cheese, pickle, mustard and catsup."

"Glad you like it son. Wipe your mouth…with your napkin, Dean."

"'K, then can Sammy and me go play?"

"Go ahead, Jeri should be here anytime now," a bit of an edge crept into John's voice, she was late and should have been here about fifteen minutes ago.

0 – 0 - 0

"Shit, shit, shit!" Jeri exclaimed as she signaled her lane change and slammed on the brakes at the side of the road. "I don't have time for this," she muttered as she pulled out her driver's license and registration.

"Ma'am, do you know why I pulled you over?"

"I'm not sure, is there a problem, officer?"

"License and registration, please?"

"Here you go, officer." Trying to remain calm as the officer strode back to his vehicle to run a check for wants and warrants, she chanted, "breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in," she inhaled through her nose, "breathe out," she hissed all the air from her lungs.

When the officer finally returned her heart rate had resumed a near normal pace. "Everything checked out okay, no wants or warrants."

"I should hope not!" the stress she felt ratcheted up again, her tone coming out much sharper than she had intended. Getting pulled over always set her on edge and the fight or flight instinct always took the turn to fight.

"The reason I pulled you over was that we just received a call of a stolen vehicle matching the description of your vehicle and we had to check it out. Everything checked out so you're free to go."

As lame as it sounded to her own ears Jeri found herself saying, "Thank you," to the officer as she returned her license to her purse.

"Have a good day ma'am."

"Sure, no problem, have a good day he says," Jeri sniped as she pull back into traffic.

0-0-0

John's patience was wearing thin when a frazzled looking woman came into the restaurant.

Brushing the hair back from her face Jeri marched up to the impatient looking man who split his time between watching the door and gazing out at the playground where two little boys played in the ball pit. Sticking her hand out, she said, "You must be John Winchester. Sorry I'm late, I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long."

Taking her offered hand John stood and waited while she took the seat across from his. "No, not at all. Pleased to meet you…?"

"Jeri."

"Pleased to meet you, Jeri and yes, I'm John Winchester."

"I'm sorry I'm late, it couldn't be helped. I know how hard it can be to keep children entertained in a restaurant when you're waiting for someone."

"Well, I guess I got lucky with the playground just outside."

"I just hope we all get lucky," she hadn't realized she had spoken out loud until an unexpected blush crept up from the collar of John's shirt. Clapping her hand across her mouth, as a blush of her own made a mad dash up her own cheeks. Jumping up from the seat she had just occupied she headed for the door, stammering as she went.

"I am so sorry. Sometimes I forget myself and don't allow my social filters time to work. I guess I'm still rattled after being pulled over on the way here."

The quizzical arch of John's brow had her rushing to explain, "It was all a misunderstanding, the cop pulled me over because of a stolen vehicle report, turns out it wasn't me…No wait that's not right. It wasn't me! I was in my car. I guess I was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Walking out of the restaurant Jeri shook her head at the lost opportunity for a job.

As she unlocked the car and pulled the door open she turned as she heard, "Jeri, wait."

Turning back towards the restaurant she was greeted by the stern face of John Winchester. "Let's try this again. Hi, I'm John Winchester and you must be Jeri."

Taking the strong hand of John Winchester Jeri stepped back onto the sidewalk and preceded into the restaurant as John held the door.

"Sorry I'm late. It couldn't be avoided."

"Not at all, the boys just went out to the playground and should be fine for awhile. Would you like something to drink?"

"No, thank you. How old are your boys?"

"Dean is five and half and Sammy is fifteen months old."

"Melinda explained that you would need someone to take care of the boys while you're at work."

"Yes, we've had sporadic help but I'd like someone more consistent when Dean starts kindergarten in September. It will be the first time he's been away from Sammy and I'd really like some stability for both my guys."

Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly John continued, "I can't stress how important it is that the boys don't feel traumatized by Dean's going to school. Sammy has never been away from Dean. I just got Dean back… no what I mean is Dean just recently started talking again, after…" tears welled in John's eyes as he tried to swallow past the grapefruit sized lump in his throat.

Reaching across the table and taking John's large calloused hand in hers, "John, its okay. Melinda and Jim explained."

Swallowing the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him John croaked out, "Thank you. It's still hard to talk about that day"

"I know it will be hard on all of you to let someone else in, even if it's only temporary. It will be a little piece of hell for everyone while Sammy learns that Dean isn't abandoning him and that he will come back, everyday and always," giving John's hand a final squeeze Jeri ended the contact.

"I'd really like the opportunity to care for your sons."

Reaching into her satchel Jeri provided John with her resume and list of references. "If it's alright I'd like to meet Sammy and Dean now."

"Thank you. Sure, I'll call them in."

"No, please, let's go out to them."

0 – 0 – 0

Dean had just dived under the pile of red, yellow and blue orbs. Sammy chased after Dean falling in and disappearing into the fluid movement of the balls. Righting himself Sammy came up squealing as he happily searched for Dean.

Dean hopped up out of the pit behind Sammy who burst into peals of laughter as Dean found one of many tickle spots.

"John, your boys are great together. It's obvious Dean is very protective of Sammy."

"Yeah, he hardly lets Sammy out of his sight. They're connected, sometimes it's almost scary. It seems one will think of something and the other will do it."

"So they've never been apart?"

"No, it's just the three of us and until now there hasn't been a reason to separate them."

"That could be troublesome."

"Yeah, I realize that. We just went shopping for school clothes. Dean wouldn't try anything on and for awhile both he and Sammy hid under a clothes carousel. It was all I could do not to yell at them when I found them. It scared the hell out of me. I couldn't imagine losing both of them."

"I can't imagine that feeling of loss."

0 – 0 – 0

Dean stopped tickling Sammy and started listening to the grownups as they stood nearby. His ears really perked up when he heard them talking about separating he and Sammy.

"Shhh, Sammy!"

"Wha D'n?"

"We need to be quiet."

"Why?" Dean didn't realize it but this was just the beginning of "why".

"Daddy is talking to that girl."

"Why?"

"I don't know, be quiet and we can find out."

"'K, D'n I be quiet."

"Shhh, Sammy."

"K, D'n."

Quietly working their way closer to the adults, Dean kept a watchful eye on his father and his brother unknowingly performing lessons he had yet to learn. Much later in life these skills would be honed to a razors edge.

0 – 0 – 0

"Hey, Dean you and Sammy come on over here and meet Miss Jeri."

Reluctantly Dean and Sammy left the ball pit to stand behind their fathers legs. Warily peering out around their father, Dean kept Sammy behind him, forming a protective barrier between Miss Jeri and his brother.

Kneeling down to greet the boys at eye level Jeri waited for Dean and then Sammy to come out from behind Johns towering figure.

"Hello, Dean, my name is Jeri. And who is that behind you?"

"Your name is Jerry, that's weird. How come you have a boy name?"

"It's short for Jerdiah, and much easier to spell."

"That's weird too. That's Sammy, you can't have him."

"Dean," John growled.

Looking up at his father Dean stood his ground, "she can't have him."

"Miss Jeri, isn't going to take Sammy."

"I won't let her."

"Dean, I'm very happy to meet you. How old are you?"

"I'm five and a half," he declared as he stepped closer.

Extending her hand Jeri waited as Dean edged closer. "So you're the big brother."

"Yep. That's Sammy, he's little and you can't have him."

"It's good that you protect Sammy, he needs your help to watch out for him. I hope that you'll let me help, too. You know he's getting bigger and he may need both of us to look out for him."

"Nope, don't need help. Me and daddy are just fine."

"Oh, I was hoping that you'd let me hang out with you guys while your dad is at work."

"Lisa, keeps an eye on us."

"Dean, Lisa is going back to school in a couple weeks and won't be able to watch out for you," John explained. "Sammy, come're."

Rushing out from behind Dean, Sammy flew into John's open arms. Swinging Sammy high John settled him on one hip.

Sammy carefully watched as Dean continued talking to the lady.

"If you come over what are you going to do?"

"Well, I suppose you could tell me what you like to eat and we could fix snacks. Or maybe we could go to the park for awhile."

"You have to be careful in the park, bad men steal kids at the park."

Looking to John and receiving a confirming nod, Jeri said, "Yes, bad people can take kids at the park and other places too. We need to be very careful with both you and Sammy."

"Daddy, can we go play some more?"

"Sure, dude, we can stay for fifteen minutes and then we need to head home. Say good-bye to Miss Jeri."

"Good-bye, Miss Jeri." Dean said politely.

"Good-bye, Dean, it was a pleasure meeting you. I hope I can come and see you and Sammy again."

"It would be okay if you come to see us again."

Reaching towards Sammy to gain his attention, Jeri gently whispered "it's good to meet you Sammy."

"G-bye lady," he called as he scampered after his older brother.

0 – 0 – 0

"John, your boys are great. Check my references, my number is on the resume and let me know if I can help you out."

"I'll call you in a couple days."

"That's fine, I know this is a big decision and Dean needs to be okay with it," waving to the boys as she left Jeri felt she had done everything she could to start building trust with the Winchesters.

0 – 0 – 0

John spent the next four hours verifying every reference and contact listed on Jeri's resume, the last call was to Pastor Jim and Melinda, after all they had recommended her to John when he asked if they knew anyone that could help with his most precious possessions.

"Jim, I met Jeri this evening, she was good with the boys but I'm wondering do you think she's the right one to watch the boys?"

"She has worked in the nursery at the church and has run the daycare center in town for the past three years or so."

"But is she right for watching MY boys. Right now it's just while I'm at work and Dean is at school but as long as we stay in the area I may need her to watch them while I'm out hunting. Can she be trusted with that secret?"

"John, she can absolutely be trusted. Her family has helped hunters since her grand father's time. Her dad was a hunter until he was lost to a Wendigo about ten years ago. She understands the need for secrecy and she knows how to protect your family."

Jim's praise was what sealed the deal. Knowing that Jeri understood the lifestyle and the special needs of a hunter ensured her selection with John. Selling Dean on the idea would be another matter.

TBC