Chapter 1.

Sam stretched out on the bed, reading a study on djinn, written by the Men of Letters and then catalogued, stored and left to gather dust. His attention kept wandering. Eileen would soon be back from her shower and there was something bewitching about a smiling, slightly damp Eileen.

It had been three weeks since they had returned from their honeymoon in New Mexico and Sam still didn't feel like the honeymoon was over. Being married still felt new and exciting.

Their room was full of pictures of the wedding, the horse riding, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets on Jesse and Cesar's ranch. One of his favourite pictures was of the four of them together, two happy couples, four hunters who had managed to make their own happiness. Jesse and Cesar had achieved theirs by leaving the life behind. For Sam and Eileen, it had been a matter of choosing to share a life as hunters, because neither could walk away from saving people or, he had to admit, hunting things.

He had slept well, the night before. He often did, now. He couldn't remember the last time a night terror had awoken him and even his usual nightmares came less often now and with less intensity. Eileen also slept more peacefully and each knew that if something did torment them in the night, they had only to reach out and the other was there, beside them, ready to console.

He felt refreshed and happy and full of optimism. The permanence of his marriage to Eileen made him far less afraid of the future, although it did give him more to lose.

He had been ordered not to phone home from New Mexico, not to think of the bunker at all, but he had called a few times, to check on Dean. He as glad he had, because the news had been good each time. Because it was Dean's habit to stay up late in the library, alone, brooding on things he would never discuss, Jules had come up with the idea of making hot chocolate every evening and sharing it in the library.

It was such a Jules thing to do. She had preserved her sanity in the ruins of her own world with little domestic rituals like that. I was the domesticity that had lured Dean in. It had become family time, Dean, Cas, Jules, Anael and Charlie, sitting together in subdued lighting, just talking and eating some of Sarah's cookies with their hot chocolate.

According to Cas, Dean did talk, mostly about minor stuff or about how good it was to see Sam happy, but then, later, when the others were quiet, he would open up about other stuff and if he seemed not to be able to talk in front of Jules and Anael, Cas and Charlie would stay up later and he would say things to them, about his childhood, his fears, stupid dreams he had long ago left behind.

Sam had been a little afraid that his return would see the end of all that, but Jules had a kind of motherly authority in the bunker and he had merely continued to bring in the tray of hot chocolate and pass around the cookies and sometimes it was Sam who stayed up late and sometimes Dean would tell him things he wouldn't usually say.

Maybe it was partly that Sam was married now, a rite of passage that seemed to make him more of an adult in Dean's eyes. He no longer needed so much protection, perhaps.

The stuff Dean talked about reassured him a lot. Dean was not making cynical statements about the world or the future. He talked about a future for the family and for the world that was full of hope. He talked about his own part in that future, which quelled Sam's fears that he didn't feel invested in the world.

There was still stuff he couldn't say and Sam could see it in his eyes, hear it in the voice that would trail off into silence and then cough itself back to the present with the words, "Well, it's getting late." That was okay. They had plenty of time and it was a long road. It was enough to know that Dean had set out on the journey.

The door opened and Eileen flashed him a beautiful smile. "Sam," she said, "Are you busy?"

"Yeah," he said, "I have a wife I need to admire for a while."

The smile became a broad grin. Then she said, "You know that project we've been working on? That thing we agree would be wonderful if it ever happened?"

Now he grinned. "Uh-huh." he said, "We've put in a lot of hours on that."

"So, how would you feel if it became a lot less hypothetical?"

He got up from the bed. "You're pregnant?" he said.

She signed, "I'm pregnant."

He signed, "I love you. I love our baby." He hurried to her and wrapped her in a huge hug. "I'm a Dad!" he said. Then, realising she couldn't see his lips, he stepped back and repeated it.

Her smile could have ignited suns. "You are!" she said.

"We can tell Dean now." he said. They had agreed not to tell him they were trying to conceive, in case nothing happened and his hopes were disappointed. Both knew how much he wanted Sam to have kids, both for his own happiness and to ensure that the Winchesters did not die out. Dean himself would not consider having any kids. He spoke as if the very idea would be ridiculous.

"You can tell Dean." she said, "I know how much you want to."

"We'll tell him together." he said.

"He's in the kitchen, with Charlie." said Eileen, "Cas and Jules are still in Sioux Falls."

"Cas has been there a lot recently." said Sam, "Do you think he was avoiding us because he knew?" It seemed unlikely that Cas could not detect a pregnancy in close proximity. He was an archangel, after all.

"You think he knew and didn't want to say anything?" she said.

"Probably." said Sam. He took her arm. "Come on. Let's go give Dean the best news he's heard in years."

Dean was talking when they got to the kitchen. "A woodchipper's gonna gank anything short of a leviathan." he was saying, "Of course, you have a serious portability problem. Your basic angel blade is much easier to carry around with you." He looked up as they came in. "Hey, you two, what's the best all-round weapon?"

"Before we get into that, we need to tell you something." said Sam, "We need to child-proof the bunker."

Dean looked less happy than he had expected. In fact, he looked troubled. "What are we talking?" he said, "Another antichrist? Another nephilim? or just a standard creepy kid?"

Sam laughed. "No, Dean, I mean the other kind of child-proofing."

Light dawned. "You mean ... You and Eileen?"

"Yeah. We're having a baby."

"Yes!" said Dean. He got up and hugged Eileen. "First Winchester baby in a long time!" he said, "Congratulations, both of you."

"Congratulations! Is it okay to tell Lydia?" said Charlie.

"Tell everyone." said Eileen.

"I didn't even know you were trying." said Dean.

"We didn't want to get your hopes up." said Eileen.

"After all I've been through, you think disappointment's gonna hurt me?" he said.

"After all you've been through, we thought you didn't need disappointment too." said Sam.

"Okay, Eileen, you are officially retired from hunting, just until the baby is born. Can't put you or the little one at risk."

"Don't worry," said Sam. "We've always agreed that she can't hunt while pregnant."

"Good, so, no arguments." said Dean, "Not that I'm trying to take over here. Your baby, your decision, on everything but the hunting."

"It's fine, Dean." said Eileen, "We're on the same page. The baby is our priority."

"Great!" said Dean, "Charlie, take care of these two. I'm going out."

"Going where?" said Sam, suddenly concerned.

"On a food run." said Dean, "We need some green stuff that isn't my expired bacon. We need some fresh, organic food."

"You're shopping for fresh, organic food?"

"Of course!" said Dean.

"But didn't you say ... "

"Nothing I said matters." said Dean, "There is nothing in this kitchen that I would feed to a pregnant woman."