Chapter 96.

Sam's phone rang. He glanced at the screen and answered it. "Hey, Bobby." he said.

"Can you talk?" said Bobby.

"Yeah. Dean and Anael are out topside. I got Cas, Jules and Eileen with me."

"Don't need a full report," said Bobby, "Just tell me your brother's okay. I'm worried that maybe I left too soon but it's always hard to know with Dean and I know if I put him under too much pressure, it's sayonara and off he goes into another train wreck."

"I think you judged it right." said Sam, "You let Dean know you were around, properly now and you let him know you cared. He's never gonna say it, but both mean a lot to him."

"Every instinct tells me to talk to him, but I know it's just 'cause I've felt responsible for the pair of you since you were rugrats. Deep down, I know it's the dumbest thing I could do./ Hard to get the balance right, ya know?"

"Yeah, right there with you." said Sam.

"At least you and Eileen don't need your heads knocked together. You got your Paradise in order."

Sam looked at Eileen and quickly signed a summary. She smiled. "Yeah, Bobby, that's one thing you don't have to worry about."

"Good to know. We didn't get a lot of time to talk earlier, but I want you to know, I'm proud of you, kid. Everything you've been through and you made it to the happy ever after."

"I hope so." said Sam.

"Seeing you marry that girl was the happiest moment of my life."

Sam felt unexpected emotion at that. Bobby's had not been a happy life and knowing that he felt that way made sense but was also deeply moving. "Mine too." said Sam, "Well, that and finding out I'm a dad."

"Yeah, that's a big one too, huh? You'll be a great dad. I know it."

"If I can be as good to my kid as you are to us, I'll be amazing." said Sam.

"You tryna make me cry, boy?" said Bobby.

"Uh-uh, Sir. Just stating a cold, hard fact. You don't know how good it is to have you back."

"It's good to be back, son."

"Did you let Jody know you're now free to move around?"

"Yeah. I called her. Felt a little weird. I mean, she and I, we never really … We were always just friends and for a time, I thought … Anyway, I told her and now I have an invite to go have supper with her and the girls tomorrow night. Which is great."

"And gives you the perfect chance to suggest a date another time without the girls." Sam suggested.

"Like I said, nothing ever happened between us. Nothing was understood and when I came back as a spirit, she'd call and sometimes visit, but she never said …"

"When do hunters ever say? Come on. You're sounding like Dean." Then he remembered Karen. "Or is this about your wife?"

"I want to make peace with Karen, but no, we won't ever be what we were. I need to fully invest in this world, because no-one in Heaven has anything for me. You really think the sheriff would go for it?"

"Not if you call her sheriff, but I can tell you she was as broken up about your death as we were."

"Well, I'll see how supper goes." said Bobby, "But you keep your big mouth shut. We're both too old to need a matchmaker and you'd be unconvincing as Cupid."

"I don't know. I met Cupid." said Sam.

"Our lives are weird." said Bobby. He was quiet for a moment, then said, "You know, that bunker of yours seems like the kind of place a guy like me could get happily lost in the archives for a good week or two. D'ya think you two would be cool with me spending some time studying the stuff you got there?"

"Whenever you like for as long as you want." said Sam, "What's ours is yours." He smiled to himself, remembering how Bobby had always let them take what they wanted from his refrigerator or pantry, telling them, "What's mine is yours." Growing boys, with big appetites and he had never asked for anything in return

"Thanks, Sam. I appreciate that. All in all, you boys have done pretty well for yourselves, despite some hefty odds against you."

"Yeah, it looks that way, but we didn't get here alone. Without you … "

"Kid, without me is not something that you'd ever have had to face. We've been family a long time." He didn't mention his long absence and Sam knew why. His death had never seemed to him a legitimate reason to stop feeling that way. They had sought his help in Heaven and he had given it without hesitation.

"Forever." said Sam, "Come when you want. Borrow anything you want. You know you'll always be welcome."

"Okay, well, you take care of yourself and your brother. Don't need to tell you to look after that pretty wife of yours."

"No, you don't." said Sam.

"Course, I don't really need to tell you to look after your brother. You always did. You always will."

"Yes, sir."

"So maybe I should just underline the whole 'look after yourself' part, because that's the part that never seems to stick."

"I'm getting better at that." said Sam.

"Well, it's about time. Call me if you need me, okay? Or just let the angel know. Saves on gas."

"I will. Enjoy supper with the girls."

Bobby sounded uneasy. "Now don't make it sound like something it ain't. It's just a little family supper. It's not a date or anything."

"A family supper to which you were invited." Sam reminded him.

"They'll wanna talk hunting, most likely." said Bobby.

"Great. You're fluent in that."

"Boy, I'm fluent in just about everything except Enochian."

"I know you are. You speak frickin' Japanese."

"Cas tells me your Aramaic's pretty good, these days."

"Nah, I recognise a few words here and there, but my grammar is all over the place."

"I should go break up the demons again. Crowley's accusing Meg of cheating at chess."

"Did she?"

"Probably. She cheats at everything else, but I know for a fact his queen has been moved three times when Meg wasn't lookin'. They're both as bad as each other, but Cas gets upset when they fight. He put together a weird team."

"We're a weird family." said Sam. You go keep order. We'll talk again soon." He ended the call. He wondered whether it had been as hard for Bobby as it was for him. It seemed stupid, but the full resurrection had made him more reluctant to end any contact with Bobby. Maybe it was because it didn't quite feel real yet or maybe it was that having Bobby back in the w old felt so good, he didn't want to miss a minute of it.

Eileen was now looking at her own cellphone. "Text from Charlie." she said, "Just wants everyone to know they're having a good day."

"I don't think it'll be long before Charlie leaves us." said Sam.

"She needs to lead her own life." said Eileen.

"I know and believe me, I want that for her, but the thought of letting her out of my sight … Last time … "

Eileen looked at the latest reply from Charlie and said, "She said she'll check in again tomorrow. I don't think she plans to cut all ties."

"I need to learn to let go. Our kid is gonna wanna leave home at some point." he said. He grinned at her. "At least you're contractually obliged to stick around forever."

"As a founder member of the Winchester Ass Appreciation Society, I had no intention of ever leaving the bunker anyway."