Okay, I think this will be the last installment for a while, unless someone points out something I've left hanging. We need new adventures for Rae for a new story, I'm pretty sure this one is done now. Thanks to everyone for their support and enthusiasm in this rather lengthy tale.
Bobby pulled up next to Sam's car at the ice cream parlor. Did they still call them that? He waited a moment for Rae to jump out of his truck before slamming the door closed. Rae shot him a broad grin before racing inside. As he turned to follow, Bobby heard the throaty purr of Dean's Impala. With a glance through the window, Bobby saw Sam greeting Rae so he waited. A four door sedan pulled in just behind Dean.
He ignored the other car at first, until he saw Dean shoot it a nasty glance. Curious, he watched the people get out. It looked like that Kevin kid and his father. Dean actually invited them? No, that sounded more like something Sam would do and it would explain the sour look Dean sported. The boy waved at him, running ahead of his father.
"Is Rae inside?" Kevin asked, too breathless for it to be just from that short run. Bobby nodded and the boy darted around him through the door.
"Bobby!" Dean hollered, walking toward him with purpose. "This is Kevin's father, Mister Smith." Dean paused beside him to whisper, "He's a judge.'
Bobby nodded, extending a hand to Mister Smith when the man approached. "Bobby Singer," he introduced himself.
"Nice to meet you," Mister Smith replied, shaking his hand. "I've met Dean and Sam, may I ask where you fit in Rae's family?"
Bobby smiled broadly. "No." He turned to Dean. "You really want a banana split?"
Dean looked amused. Bobby had no idea if it was his question or how he answered Mister Smith. "They sell ice cream sundaes and malts, too."
"Mister Cooper?" Mister Smith followed them through the door. "I was wondering why you didn't finish your turn? I mean, it looked like you could have taken the individual best shooter award."
Bobby could almost feel Dean's irritation. "It wasn't about winning," he said as he pulled out a chair. To someone who did not know Dean well his voice probably sounded perfectly normal, but Bobby could hear the underlying tone of anger and irritation. He knew Sam picked up on it too when Sam insisted Dean sit between Bobby and Sarah. Unfortunately that left a free seat beside Rae for Kevin.
Sam and Sarah had a table large enough for all of them, which confirmed Bobby's suspicions that inviting Kevin was Sam's idea. Bobby did not miss the fact the rest of their conversation during the ice cream celebration remained either on the skeet tournament or school. Kevin and his father's team trophy for third place sat in the center of the table. Sam kept picking it up and commenting on it until Dean shot him a hard look.
"Not that trophies are important," Sam told Rae, looking a little embarrassed.
Rae grinned. "But banana splits are! Especially with extra cherries." She pointed out the mound of cherries decorating her treat. Sam chuckled and Dean's face slipped into something a little more relaxed.
"I take it you don't go out for banana splits very often," Mister Smith said as he chopped his banana with his pink plastic spoon. "Thanks for inviting us."
"Any friend of Rae's is always welcome," Sam stated, a bit forcefully, cutting his eyes at Dean.
"Whatever," Dean mumbled, scooping up a spoonful of ice cream. Bobby nudged him with his foot. Dean looked over and Bobby nodded toward Rae, across the table.
"…but if Dad likes it, I'm never allowed to buy it. He says he has terrible taste in girl clothes," Rae confided in Sarah. "Uncle Sam says Dad just has terrible taste in women, it's not the clothes." She laughed.
Dean rolled his eyes as Sarah replied, "Well, I wouldn't mind coming along, to give you a woman's opinion."
Rae frowned. "Well, maybe. Amy's mom already invited me to go shopping with them next time they go and Dad said I could."
"Sarah could go, too," Dean said. "I can drop you two off at the mall when Amy and her mom go."
"Or I could," Sam protested. "And I might like to see where our money is going."
Dean made a scoffing noise. He leaned over to whisper to Bobby, "He just wants to hang around Sarah."
Bobby nodded. "Can't blame him for that," he whispered back.
They caught each other's eye, mouthed the word 'smokin' to each other. Dean's head dropped in a fit of silent laughter as Bobby pulled his ballcap lower over his face. He caught Rae watching them suspiciously, but she said nothing.
"Done!" Rae announced, dropping her spoon triumphantly in her bowl.
Dean pushed his empty sundae bowl to meet hers. Bobby looked down at his half eaten ice cream and shoved it forward too. Dessert was not his favorite thing; he was more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. A few veggies were tolerable, especially if they were fried with plenty of butter or batter.
Dean tossed some cash down on the table. "Ready, Sunshine?"
Rae paused in standing. "Yes sir, but I kinda thought I'd ride back with Gramps. We were having a good talk."
Dean eyed her shrewdly. "I had a feeling. Maybe you and I need to have a good talk? Come on, tell your friend bye."
"Bye, Kevin. See ya Monday!" Rae waved as she followed her daddy outside.
Kevin sighed heavily, watching her leave. "Dad? Isn't she amazing?"
Bobby exchanged a look with Sam, and he was a little surprised at the sour look on Sam's face.
"Come on," Sarah tugged Sam's sleeve. "We can plan our shopping trip while you drop me off at home."
Sam's head snapped around. "You aren't staying for dinner?"
She smiled brightly. "Nah. I wouldn't want to intrude."
"But you wouldn't!" Sam insisted.
"Yes, I would," Sarah replied calmly. "Rae needs to take me in small doses. She already agreed to let me come shopping with her, so that's probably enough for today."
Sam nodded, standing. "You're probably right." He stood, hand extended to Mister Smith. "Nice seeing you again, sir. I hope Kevin and Rae can continue to earn A's in their group assignments."
Mister Smith grinned in return. "Me, too. I've never seen Kevin so excited about school before. And, I must add," he stood, taking Sam's hand in a firm handshake, "it is so refreshing for Kevin to make a friend who still uses sir when speaking to adults."
Sam chuckled. "Well, I'm afraid you have my brother to blame for that one." His head jerked toward the door. "I would have let her call me pretty much anything she wanted when she first started talking to me."
Mister Smith tried to engage Sam in more conversation as Bobby slipped out. He walked into the parking lot just in time to see the Impala pull out, headed for home.
"So," Dean pretended not to sound concerned, "what's all this secret conversation between you and Bobby?"
Rae sighed. "It's not a secret, Dad. And I thought we were calling him Gramps now?"
Dean tried to suppress the sigh of irritation. When did this girl get to be so difficult, anyway? When she got like this, he kind of missed the timid girl who jumped at the sight of her own shadow. "Okay, if it's not a secret, what were you two talking about?"
"Well," Rae's fingers moved slowly across the door armrest, something she always did when she wanted to avoid answering a question, "the banana splits were great, Dad. Thanks for suggesting it."
Dean nodded. "Rae. I think I asked you a question." Sounded a lot like his own dad there, didn't he?
"I wanted a different kind of answer, so I asked Bobby," she said, her voice quavering slightly.
Dean swallowed hard. A different kind of answer? What was that supposed to mean? "About what? What are you so worried about?"
"Nothing," she protested. "Honest Dad, it's not because I'm worried. I was just a little confused."
That set off alarm bells in Dean's head. He wished Sam were in the car right now. "Confused? About what? Rae, the last time you were confused was because the dude from Family Services was trying to figure out if you were ever molested."
"Incested," she corrected.
"Uh, okay." Dean wondered if that was actually a word. "What's confusing you?" he actually found himself thankful to be stopping at a red light.
Dean turned to look hard at her. "You mean Bobby is confusing?"
Rae shook her head. "No, your father is confusing." She pointed forward. "Green light, Dad."
"Thanks," he mumbled as the car behind them honked. They pulled through the intersection. "So how is my dad confusing?"
Her fingers drummed on the armrest. Dean wondered if she was trying to think of a way not to answer. "Well, the way you and Uncle Sam talk about him. It's confusing. You talk like he was the greatest man ever to walk the Earth, and Uncle Sam talks like maybe he didn't like your dad too much."
"He said that?" Dean demanded. Oh, he and Sam were going to have a serious talk later!
"No! It's not what he says, it's what he doesn't say," Rae informed him.
Dean shook his head. This was too confusing for him, no wonder Rae was confused! "I don't get it."
"You say that your dad was a hero, a great man, brilliant, all that. Uncle Sam says things like your dad did the best he could and he really misses his dad now that he's gone." With a couple of quick glances, Dean could see Rae staring right at him. "It's confusing. I didn't understand how you could see him so differently, so I asked Bobby about it."
"What did Bobby say?" Dean asked. He found he was not angry, which was a little surprising. He wished he had known she was curious about his dad. Sure, she asked a question here and there, but he had not noticed anything to indicate she was this curious or confused. He pulled into their apartment parking lot, finding a spot near the apartment. "Well?" he asked as he shut the motor off.
"He told me a story. It explained a lot," Rae replied, still looking at him, arms crossing over her chest.
"About?" Dean twisted in the seat, one arm draped over his steering wheel and the other over the back of the seat.
"About why he went after your dad with a loaded shotgun," she said, as though such things happened every day.
Dean felt his eyebrows shoot up. "Really? You know, I've always wondered about that. I just left for a minute to get something out of the car and when I came back in, Bobby was holding a shotgun on my dad." He frowned. "Last thing I expected to see, but I guess it had to happen sometime. Dad had that kind of way with people." He chuckled at that. Boy, did Dad have that kind of way with people!
"It wasn't because of anything he did to Bobby," she said. "It was because of what he told Bobby about Uncle Sam leaving for college." Rae glared at him. "You really should have told me about that."
Dean shrugged. "It was a long time ago. Besides, Sam hasn't acted like he wanted to go back in a long time." But that didn't ease his mind about it, did it? "So what did my dad tell Bobby that would make him break out the shotgun?"
She crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not sure I want to tell you." Her chin lifted defiantly. "Unless you're willing to tell me what happened, too."
"Rae," Dean used his warning voice.
"That won't work," she snapped, looking thoroughly annoyed. "Sir," she hastily added, he guessed because he was starting to look thoroughly annoyed.
He glared at her for a moment, but she did not back down. With a sigh he realized if he wanted to know what Bobby said, he was either going to have to ask the man himself or tell Rae what she wanted to know. "So what do you want to know?"
She stared at him quizzically for a moment before answering, "What happened? Why did Uncle Sam leave for college? And how did he tell your dad?"
Dean leaned back against the door, contemplating her questions. He longed for the days of simple things like 'Daddy, what happened to the ghost after you burned the body?' Not that he had a good answer for that, but it certainly seemed easier than right now. It could be worse, he reminded himself, she could be asking about boys.
He cleared his throat. "You'll have to ask Uncle Sam why he left for college. I never really got that, except that he had a full scholarship to Stanford."
"Stanford?" Rae's eyes sparkled as she listened to him. "That's a really good school, right?"
Dean nodded. "Your uncle has always been really smart, about most things." He paused, unsure how to describe The Fight, or if he should.
"So, what happened? How did Uncle Sam tell your dad about it?" Rae leaned forward, those sparkling eyes pushing him to tell her.
She would fixate on his least favorite topic. "Look, do we really have to go into any details here? Sam wanted to go to college and Dad didn't want him to." He shrugged. "So they had a fight and Sam left. End of story."
One of Rae's eyebrows arched at him, reminding Dean of the way Sam acted when he wanted to drag something out of him. "So Uncle Sam didn't pick a fight with your dad to get his way?"
"Well…I didn't think…What makes you think he picked a fight?" Dean asked, feeling a little dazed.
"Because your dad told Bobby that Sam picked a fight to get to go to college because he had a stupid, stubborn father." Her mouth twisted to one side. "Or something like that."
"Dad said that?" Dean asked, his eyes going wide. He had a hard time wrapping his mind around his father actually admitting fault. That had been damned rare.
"Yep," Rae replied with a nod, studying him. He felt a little like a lab rat under that intense gaze. "That was why Bobby got out the shotgun."
"Because he was mad at Dad?" Dean wanted to hang his mouth open, but he clamped his jaw shut.
"Oh, yeah!" Rae said with enthusiasm. "That plus your dad finally admitting that you took care of Uncle Sam more than he did all those years. I guess Bobby just kinda snapped." She shrugged, her brow crinkling with concentration. "I wonder…"
It took a few moments for her words to sink in. "You wonder what?" he finally asked, unsure if he really wanted to hear it.
"Well," her eyes darted away, like she expected Bobby to park alongside them any moment, "since he reacted that way, I just wondered if he really started adopting you back then. That would mean it took you a while to figure out you needed to adopt him and even longer for Bobby to finish adopting you back." She met his eyes then. "He has, by the way."
"He has what?" Dean's mind was in a whirl. Were boys this age so confusing?
Rae let out one of those sighs that meant Dean had not been keeping up like she expected. "Adopted you! Geez, Dad, are you really that thick or didn't you think he would?"
"Well, I…" Okay, how the hell was he supposed to answer that?
"You do know there's more to adopting than just a piece of paper, right? People are adopted into other families all the time, and I mean adults. If Uncle Sam continues to see Sarah," she rolled her eyes, "we'll probably have to adopt her, too."
"She's not that bad, Rae," Dean admonished. He caught some movement from the corner of his eye. Bobby walked along the path toward their apartment. "There's your Gramps."
Her face lit up and she pushed open the door. "At least we don't have to worry about Sam leaving us," she raced to say as she slammed the door shut. Rae ran toward Bobby as Dean locked up the car. That kid was really something else. Her words hit him as he opened the apartment door. They didn't have to worry about Sam leaving? Did that mean he needed to talk to Rae about it, or Sam? Then again, if Rae said so, she was probably right. She certainly seemed to have a handle on things like that these days. Better than he did.