(Of The Beginning)
By A. Taylor
I claim nothing but the words of this story.
The Demon is dead, but that's not the end of the story. In fact, it's just the beginning. a one-shot of epic proportions
YES. Can I emphasize how pumped I am that I am now able to magically upload documents again? I dunno if it was just where I live or what, but for the past couple of days I haven't been able to post anything. Don't ask me why, but it just wasn't working--and now, voila. I'm quite happy. xD Anyways, this is something I worked long and hard on and really had fun doing. This was originally going to be a quick one-shot but it morphed. Ah well, you know how it goes--I swear, these stories write themselves and have minds of their own. The topic of this is not my usual style at all, but I still really enjoyed doing it anyways, and I hope you like it, too. As always, read and review!
In the end, they get the Demon.
It dies, he knows, with a screeching, howling noise, with ash falling from the sky like thick, black snow, blocking the sun, extinguishing what little light there is left.
Yeah, It dies, but not without doing one last thing to ruin his life.
Its yellow eyes are burning with fire, gaping mouth stretched wide; It's screaming and the roar is so loud he can't think straight or see, can only gasp hollowly.
The roaring reaches a new volume and suddenly, there's this hiss in his ear:
Say goodbye to your brother. The Demon's voice is horrible when it's not possessing somebody—not that it's ever pleasant—but now it's like nails on a chalkboard, worse than even a Banshee's cry.
"NO!" he roars, lashing out wildly. "You're not taking him too, you bastard! You're not taking him!"
And he can't see anything, can't find his brother, it's just thick, black smoke everywhere and oh God, he's choking, he's dying—somehow, he manages to find the trigger of the gun, somehow he manages to know where to shoot—then the final explosion—
That right there is what the end of the world sounds like.
Then it is silent, so silent. He screams his brother's name, but even if there was a reply, he wouldn't be able to hear it, because he's already tumbling into unconsciousness, already suffocating on ash, and despair
The world comes into focus blearily and he wakes coughing.
"Oh, good!" a cheery voice says brightly. "You're awake. You've been drifting in and out of consciousness for a long time now."
"Where am I?" he rasps, wincing at how stupid and clichéd that sounds. Ah well. He's not at his best.
"Our Lady of Mercy Regional Hospital." The owner of the cheery voice, a pretty young brunette doctor, presses a stethoscope to his chest and he starts slightly at the coolness of it. "You were lucky someone spotted the fire right away and got an ambulance there within minutes, or else you wouldn't have made it."
"Yes; it was horrible. It seemed to be caused by an explosion of some sort, but luckily it appears there were no casualties."
"No casualties?" His heart leaps. "Thank God."
"I know! What were you doing at the church so late, if I could ask?"
"Praying," he responds abruptly, and really, it's not entirely a lie. "I had a bad day. Apparently even worse than I thought." The doctor laughs.
"Well, I'm happy to tell you you're going to recover just fine. We've already moved you out of ICU. We'd like to keep you for observation for a couple more days, but then you're free to go."
"Great." He grins. "Listen, when can I see my brother?"
"Brother?" She frowns. "I'm sorry…we hadn't been able to get in touch with any of your relatives. You didn't have ID on you, so—"
"What? What, no—you have to have him here! He was with me at the church!" He scrambles upright so he's sitting, ignoring the dizziness that accompanies it. The doctor's eyes widen.
"Oh, my," she says softly, and looks, quite suddenly, very sad. "I-I'm sorry, sir, but you were the only one our ambulance brought here. There didn't seem to be…there weren't any…remains. I—"
"No!" He feels the desperation clawing at his insides now (please don't let this be happening, please) and tries to tug at the IV in his arm. "I have to find him! Somebody has to go back and find him!"
"Sir." The doctor is looking at him now with such pity in her eyes he wants to strangle her. Pity. He doesn't need fucking pity, doesn't want it, never has. "It's been nearly a week."
That right there is what the end of the world feels like.
He feels like an asshole for stealing clothes from a dead guy, but no way in hell is he walking out of the hospital in a paper gown that barely covers his thighs. The clothes were sitting right there in a bag, and the pants are a little short, but he doesn't care. His own clothes were burned to rags from the last fight with the Demon, and he's supposed to stay at the hospital, but the doctor did say he would recover fine. Right now, his priority isn't his own life, far from it. He has to find him—there just can't be any buts about it. His brother has survived worse…hasn't he? There must be some explanation, he must be here somewhere. He didn't see him die (I believe what I can see with my own two eyes), therefore it doesn't necessarily mean he's gone.
Because he's not. He can't be. Too much has happened, they've survived too much together—fate would not be so cruel.
He checks every impound lot in the area, and—he doesn't know if it makes him more miserable or relieved—finds the Impala in almost perfect working condition at last.
"She yours?" the manager (named Joe) asks.
"Yep," he says.
"Well, the keys were in the ignition," Joe says dubiously. "You got some proof of insurance?'
"Sure do," he says, opens the dead guy's wallet and forks over five hundred dollars (he has to wonder how the dude died, because who in their right mind walks around with that much cash?).
"Ah, this seems to be in order, Mr. Smith," Joe declares, counting the money and then dropping the keys into 'Mr. Smith's' outstretched palm. "You have a nice day now."
"You too, Joe."
He gets in the Impala, breathes in the familiar scent, lets his eyes drift over to the empty passenger seat.
"We're going to find him," he tells the car as he inserts the key into the ignition and turns. Nothing happens. "Come on, now, don't give up so fast. You and me, we'll get him back." The Impala coughs once, then determinedly sputters to life. "Atta girl," he mutters, patting her steering wheel fondly. "Here we go."
The first motel listed in the grungy Yellow Pages he finds at a rundown telephone booth is a Holiday Inn Express.
He drives there as fast as he can go without breaking the speed limit, races to the check-in desk.
"This is an emergency," he pants as the startled employee stares up at him. "Look, I need you to tell me right away what room Jim Rockford is in."
"Sir, we have a policy about—"
"This is an emergency," he repeats, nearly in hysterics at this point. "Please, miss, I'm begging you."
The woman's eyes widen.
"Well," she says nervously, "I'll…I'll see if Mr. Rockford is staying with us."
She clacks at the computer, frowns, then clacks again.
"I'm sorry, sir," she says after a moment, "but no Mr. Rockford is staying at this particular Holiday Inn Express."
"That's impossible," he gasps, but he knows it's really not. The sinking feeling of dread is engulfing him now, and he wants to strangle something again. "No—he should be here—he has to be—"
"Sir, read it there for yourself." The woman looks very concerned, worry creasing her kind features. She motions for him to lean over and look at the computer screen.
He falls backwards helplessly, mutters a strangled thank you, ignores the woman's worried inquiries.
He's out the door before she can stop him, gone before he sees her thoughtful gaze, hears her mutter,
"Rockford. Rockford. Why does that sound so familiar?"
He doesn't want to give up, still refuses to, so he resolutely checks every single motel in not only this town, but the surrounding towns, even checks fancy hotels his brother would never be able to afford. He drives and drives, looks and looks, but there is nothing. No one has seen his brother or anyone fitting his description. No one knows anything—they're all so very sorry, but they just can't help him.
He goes to the church (or what once was the church) and there are no signs, no clues. There is merely rubble and scorch marks and yellow police tape.
There is nothing.
The Demon has taken everything from him now, no matter that It's dead. Everybody he ever loved is gone, and now, that includes his brother.
He wants to die now, wishes he had it in him to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger.
He wants to stop living because there is nothing left, but he's too scared.
What if when he dies, he'll be alone then too?
He can't bear the thought, so he gets back in the Impala and drives.
Fate, it turns out, really is that cruel.
He's been on the road for days and he's stopped to eat and use the bathroom and that's about it. He won't allow himself to sleep or rest, won't allow himself to relax until he gets to the right place. The calls start coming from Ellen after a little while, but he ignores them.
When he starts getting calls from Bobby too, he throws the cell phone out the window.
That feels kind of good.
Inspired, he pulls over on the side of the road. He empties out everything—the guns, the knives, the research for the gig they were supposed to be on, the rock salt, the gasoline—and throws it into a ditch, anything that might remind him of his old life.
It's time, he tells himself, to start over. You don't have to be a Winchester anymore. You don't have to be anybody.
He can't help himself, though, and he ends up keeping one knife, a steel one, and one gun—oh, and a couple chunks of rock salt, all stashed away in the glove compartment, where he promises himself they'll stay unless he really, really needs them.
Oh, and he keeps the Impala, too.
He's not entirely stupid, after all.
He finally stops in this little town in Texas, in a place where he has no ties, no connections of any kind, where no one will ever recognize him.
This is where he can start over.
First, he goes to a bar and turns on the charm, wins a couple of card games, throws some darts and ends up with enough money to get himself a room at a motel, some new clothes, and a hot shower.
On impulse, he also gets a haircut—just a trim, really. He doesn't feel good, because he can't, but he is ready to start forgetting now.
He's ready, really ready.
More because it's six-thirty than because he's hungry, he heads to a restaurant and buys himself dinner and then goes to the bar and orders a beer.
The bartender is pretty and redheaded, with freckles sprinkled across her nose. She's smart, too, and before long her shift is over and she's taken a seat next to him, is having a drink of her own.
"What's your name?" she asks at long last, after they're both half-drunk and they realize they didn't ever properly introduce themselves.
"Dean," he says without really thinking, then winces. Well, so much for starting over.
"Dean," she repeats, smiling slowly. "And do you have a last name?"
"Moore," he says quietly after a moment, because, after so many meaningless or ridiculous aliases, it seems like it's the right thing to call himself. "Dean Moore."
"Well, Dean Moore," she says, extending a slender hand and smiling, "I'm Andrea McIntire. Andy for short."
"Andy." He smiles. "I like it." She laughs delightedly.
"So, are you just passing through? You look like one of those types."
"Actually," he says, leaning forward, "I was thinking about sticking around, settling down. I just need a job and an apartment, I guess." Andy's grin widens.
"Small world," she says. "I have a friend who's looking to rent."
And that's how, in the space of a few hours, he acquires a new name (sort of) and a new life.
Andy's friend is named Greg Chase, and not only does he rent Dean the apartment, but he helps him find a job at a The Page-Turner (a local bookstore), which is the only place hiring at the moment.
Dean settles in to small town life as best he can, telling himself at first that maybe this will be temporary. He's so used to all the constant moving and re-locating that it's disconcerting when he realizes one day that he's been in the same place for almost seven months.
He's hesitant to form friendships or relationships of any kind—what if he loses them too?—but the people here are so relentlessly kind and friendly that it's not long before he and Greg are good friends, before he's buddies with several of the people at the bookstore, before he finds himself growing closer to Andrea than he's allowed himself to get to a girl in a long, long time.
Withdrawing is what the old you would do, he reasons with himself. That's a Winchester thing. You're Dean Moore now—don't start to forget it.
His friends ask him where he's from, why he's here, about his family, and it's easy to lie.
I 'm an only child, he'll tell them. My parents died years ago in a fire. I needed a change. Always wanted to visit Texas.
They accept these answers, write off what they call his 'idiosyncrasies' as part of his charm ("Honestly," Greg had hooted one time, "only Dean would line his doorway with salt." Dean had turned red, regretting his inability to overcome the precautions his father had drilled into him.), grow to trust him.
After awhile, Dean starts to really begin to forget his life was anything than what it is now.
After awhile, it's just easier.
He's been in Texas for four years. He's dated Andy for two and a half. He's been manager of The Pager-Turner for one.
It's time, he thinks, really time, to settle down. For real.
So he does two things.
First, he buys a house; it's not a huge house, or anything, but it's a nice one. He's just proud he's saved enough money—and came by it honestly—and he pretends not to mutter a few Latin protection charms when he walks through it (just in case, you know).
Second, he asks Andy to marry him.
She says yes, of course, and he pretends not to feel guilty that he loves her, pretends not to feel guilty that he'll never tell her who he really is—no, really was.
She wouldn't love him if she knew the truth, he thinks firmly as she wraps her arms around him. It's safer this way, for both of them.
Time, Dean learns, is a tricky thing. Years seem to flash by in the blink of an eye.
For example, even though he's been married to Andy for three years now, it seems like just yesterday he was sitting next to her in a crowded bar.
Even though he's been a father for six whole months, he can hardly believe the tiny baby girl he holds in his arms is really his.
Her name is Jessica, Jessie for short. It was actually Andrea who suggested it, and Dean had agreed without hesitation. Jessie has soft, dark hair and her mother's blue eyes, and freckles, too; Dean never saw a baby with freckles until now.
Tonight, on her six month birthday, he holds her to his chest and sits with her in her rocking chair, feeding her from a bottle of formula occasionally.
"You just sleep tonight, Andy," he had told his wife. "I'll take care of Jessie, okay?"
"Thanks, hon," Andy had agreed gratefully, having no idea just how closely her husband would watch their daughter, no idea that Dean wouldn't sleep at all tonight.
Dean looks like any other new father: slightly out of place with a baby in his huge arms, and when he sings to her softly to calm her down when she fusses, it's almost funny, in an endearing sort of way. The only difference between Dean and any other new father is that he has surrounded the rocking chair he sits in with rock salt—has in fact, salted the door to the room, the windows, the closet door, and has a bottle of holy water in his pocket.
Jessie sighs as she sleeps in her father's arms, and Dean tightens his grip a little.
He's not taking any chances, new life or no. No demon is ever, ever, ever taking anybody he loves from him ever again.
Not on his watch.
More years pass, and Dean loses count of the days.
He has a real life, a good life, with a beautiful, intelligent, funny wife, two wonderful kids and another one on the way, a great best friend who he plays poker with on the weekends (but never hunts with, try as Greg might to convince him to take up the sport).
He went to school for a little while a few years back, got his degree, and now teaches English at the local high school; Andy owns the bar she was working at when he first met her.
He never remembers the way things used to be if he can help it, and only dwells on certain days. When he has nightmares, his wife holds him, but doesn't ask questions (she knows him well enough not to pry—she only ever asked where he got all of his horrible scars once, and when he didn't answer, she didn't bother him further), and he tries t o stop carrying around salt or lining his children's doors with it, but he can't bring himself not to.
There are things out there, in the dark. Dean can't ignore that, as much as he wishes he knew how.
Jessie is ten now, with wild dark curls she doesn't bother to tame and the most outgoing, friendly nature in the world, coupled with a sharp, sarcastic tongue (she's much wiser than any ten-year-old has the right to be).
"I can't think where she gets all that enthusiasm," Andy will sometimes remark bewilderedly. "I'm not exactly a shy one myself, but even I could sit still for more than three seconds at her age." Dean has to bite back a fond smile sometimes when he looks at his daughter, because there is so much of his brother in her, it hurts.
His son, Jared, is eight, with his mother's red hair and a quieter nature than Jessie. He's bookish and tall for his age with little interest in sports (unlike his big sister, who plays everything from football with the boys down the street to field hockey with the girls at her elementary school) and tends to shy away from roughhousing of any kind.
Dean sighs. History has a hell of a way of repeating itself.
His baby son, Jonathan, is only a few weeks old at this point, and absolutely adored by his older siblings. It can all be so overwhelming, really, when Dean stops to think about it.
He has a family.
And there are no fires, no ghosts, no demons.
When a terrified Jared drags Dean into his room one night saying,
"Daddy, there's something in my closet!" Dean doesn't even blink. He merely smiles at his son, throws open the door to reveal an empty closet, makes a show of looking for the thing, and then tucks Jared back into bed.
"Son, as long as I'm around, nothing is going to hurt you," he says. "There is no such thing as monsters."
Dean's turned off the light and gone to go back to his own bed before he realizes that he almost believes what he just told Jared, almost has forgotten that there are monsters.
Well. About time.
"Hey, guess what? We're invited to go to hang out with Sophie's family on Saturday!"
Both Andy and Dean glance up; Jessie is standing before them in the kitchen with her best puppy-dog face and her sweetest grin.
"Who's Sophie?" Dean asks, finishing filling the coffee pot as Andy mixes the scrambled eggs.
"The new girl," Jessie says, in the kind of tone that seems to suggest this should be obvious. "She's really nice. She moved here at the beginning of the year."
"Remember Sophie, Dean? Cute little girl, blonde braids?" Andy nudges him. "She's been over a few times."
"Has she?" Dean winces apologetically. "Sorry, Jessie. I guess I didn't remember her name."
"It's all right. Anyways, can we go, please? Sophie's parents said they wanted to go down to the carnival and they said I should bring my whole family!" Jessie looks delighted. "Sophie has twin brothers who're just a year younger than Jared, so he can play with them!"
"That sounds like a great idea!" Andy announces. "Tell Sophie I'll give her mom a call." She turns to Dean. "The Rockfords are really nice people," she tells him. "I think you'll like them."
"Great," Dean says, trying to sound enthusiastic but failing miserably. God, a carnival. Just what he needs—freaking clowns. Those things are never going to stop scaring the crap out of him, no matter how old he gets, and judging by the way Andy is grinning evilly at him, she remembers this little tidbit of information he once confided to her in a drunken stupor.
"This will be fun," Jessie decides. "I'm going to call Sophie right now!"
"Gee, dear, thanks a lot," Dean mutters as soon as Jessie has headed out of the kitchen.
"Oh, don't be a baby," Andy laughs. "Clowns are our friends, Dean."
Dean thinks of one clown in particular and shudders ("And apparently clowns kill!").
"If only you knew," he sighs dramatically. Andy laughs, walks over to Jon's highchair and gives him his bottle.
"I love you, you nut," she informs Dean over her shoulder. "I know that much."
The day of the carnival is a typical July day in Texas—hot as all get-out, and humid.
Apparently, it's been arranged that they'll meet Jessie's friend and her family at the Ferris wheel in the carnival and that Jessie will spend the night at Sophie's after the carnival's over. Dean's always been a little shy around new people, but he doesn't mind it in the way he once did, and besides, Andy has already promised she will "protect him from the clowns," so technically, he's in a pretty good mood.
Jared is excited about getting to ride his first "big-kid ride," which his older sister has generously declared she will accompany him on, and Jon is his usual, bubbly, happy baby-self, so the short drive over is cheerful; Dean actually finds himself looking forward to the day ahead. He helps Andy make sure both Jared and Jessie have their sunscreen on and then trails after her into the park, lugging Jon's baby bag.
Almost immediately after the tickets have been purchased, Jessie spots her friend and rushes over to greet her. Standing next to the little girl is a tall, slender woman with dark hair and a friendly smile.
"Hi!" she says brightly as Jessie and Jared approach Sophie eagerly. "Good to see you, Andrea! And this must be Dean!"
"Hi," Dean greets her, smiling broadly and holding out a hand to shake.
"Molly Rockford," she introduces herself. "Nice to meet you."
"Where's Sam at?" Andy asks, bouncing Jon on her hip.
"Oh, he's picking the boys up from soccer practice, he should be here any minute." She grins. "Max and Danny are looking forward to playing with Jared."
"Dad!" Jessie tugs on Dean's sleeve. "Dad, will you take us to get a balloon animal?"
"Please, Mr. Moore?" Sophie begs, smiling up at him sweetly.
"Yeah, Dean," Andy snorts, nodding at the clown who is making said balloon animals, "go on!" Dean scowls at her as he is dragged away by the eager kids towards the creepy-looking—uh, he means…cheerful-looking—clown.
Jessie and Sophie both want "princess crowns" and Jared shyly asks if he can have a dog; the clown busily sets to work, cracking jokes and smiling in a totally-not-terrifying way the whole time as Dean eyes it suspiciously, waiting for it to morph into an evil monster-thing he has to stab with bronze.
Fortunately, however, this clown appears to be normal…or as normal as clowns can be, and as soon as he has finished making the balloons, the kids eagerly head off to show their mothers. Dean follows behind, listening as Jared talks animatedly about riding rides and eating cotton candy. Dean can see from a distance that Sophie's father must have arrived; he's standing with his back to Dean, shaking hands with Andy and laughing at something. Sophie runs to him, bouncing up and down eagerly on the balls of her feet, and points to her balloon crown. He kneels down, appearing to approve of it, and then sees Jessie and greets her with a high-five.
Jessie says something to him, pointing behind her, and the guy turns.
Dean gets one look at his face and stops stock-still in his tracks, inhaling sharply.
"Dad?" he can faintly hear Jared asking, sounding worried. "Dad, what's wrong?"
The guy is staring at Dean now, too, his eyes wide, his mouth slightly open.
I must be dreaming, Dean thinks dazedly, even as he starts to take one or two steps forward. This can't be happening. This is impossible.
He walks until he is standing mere feet away from this man, their gazes locked.
"What's going on?" he can hear Andy's voice asking, obviously bewildered.
"Dean?" His voice breaks as he says it, even as he reaches out a cautious hand to touch the man's shoulder.
"Sammy." The man's voice is so familiar, so full of emotion. His eyes are disbelieving, uncertain, pain etched in the lines of his face.
The man who's called himself Dean Moore for over a decade doesn't realize he's crying until he reaches forward and pulls the older brother he thought was dead into a crushing hug, sobbing into his shoulder.
His brother, he realizes, is crying too.
"I thought you were dead."
"I thought you were dead!"
"I looked—I swear to God, Dean, I looked for…I tried—"
"I thought It killed you. I—please tell me you're not a ghost."
"Um, I'm sorry," a voice interrupts, and the brothers pull apart to turn and look at their shocked wives and children. Molly is staring at them, Andy looks almost worried, and the kids simply appear confused. "What the hell is going on?" Molly asks.
"Molly," Dean says, and this time, it's his voice that breaks a little. "I'd like you to meet my brother, Sam."
The kids have been sent off to ride the rides and told to come back to the picnic tables in half an hour. Sophie's little brothers, Danny and Max, immediately took a liking to Jared, and when the kids had raced off, they appeared to be having the time of their lives. Jon has been put in his stroller and is napping, and now Molly and Andy sit across the table from Sam and Dean and stare wordlessly at their husbands.
"Uh, so," Sam says at long last. "This is kind of difficult to explain."
"I don't understand," Andy says to him. "I just don't get it, Dean—Sam—whatever your name is. You told me you were an only child. You lied about your name—what are you, some sort of ax murderer?"
"I could ask you the same thing!" Molly directs to Dean, her voice high. "Who are you?"
"God," Dean sighs, and Sam watches happily as his brother runs a hand over his face, one of his most familiar gestures, one Sam thought he'd never see again. "Okay, Molly. My name is Dean Winchester."
"My name is Sam Winchester," Sam tells Andy. "And no, I'm not an ax murderer."
"Neither am I," Dean adds.
Their wives both stare at them disbelievingly.
"I thought Dean died," Sam says quietly, "and it looks like he thought I died. It's…it's a really, really long story."
"I have time," Andy says.
"So do I," Molly agrees.
And so, hesitantly, Sam and Dean tell them about their lives.
Their old lives.
It's a long tale, and it's a hard one to tell, and worst of all, it's almost impossible to believe. Sam wouldn't blame either Andy or Molly for locking him and Dean away in a mental ward on the spot.
"So, after I woke up in the hospital," Sam is explaining, "I went out to look for Dean. And I didn't find him." Now, Sam turns to his older brother, at a loss. "Where were you?" he adds softly. "Why didn't I find you?"
"After the explosion, I must have ended up on the opposite side of the church as you," Dean says. "I nearly died, man. Some lady was walking her dog and it found me under this pile of rubble like two days after the place exploded. She rushed me to a hospital—not the same as yours, I guess—and when I woke up a few days later, I made someone take me to the Holiday Inn Express to look for you." Dean winces. "You weren't there. I guess you were still in the hospital yourself."
"I didn't think to check the other hospitals!" Sam slams his fist into the table. "Dammit, I should've thought—but…oh, God, this is my fault."
"Sammy, you ruin this by blaming yourself, I swear to God I'll beat your ass," Dean says in his best big brother voice, but Sam knows it'll be a long, long time before either of them will be angry enough at each other to do anything like that.
"All right," Andy interrupts. "Assuming you aren't a pair of raving lunatics and this Ghostbuster business is true—"
"It is," Sam says heatedly. "Why do you think I line the doors with salt?"
"That's not exactly hard-core evidence, Dean," she says coolly, then shakes her head rapidly. "I mean…Sam. But…but anyways, assuming you aren't lunatics, why did you lie about your names? Why did you lie about everything? I love you, and I sure as hell haven't pried into your past, but this—this is…"
"Andrea, you have to understand," Sam says, leaning in and taking his wife's hands, "I nearly destroyed myself over this. You don't…the life we had, it was hell. I didn't want to remember it, I didn't want to be a Winchester. I wasn't even going to use Dean's name but it just sort of slipped out."
"That goes for me, too, Molly," Dean tells his wife. He glances at Sam worriedly, then says, "Maybe we should talk to them separately…?"
"I think that's a great idea," Molly snaps. "I've got a few things t o clear up with you, Samuel." She grabs Dean's arm and yanks him upright, leading him away from the picnic table to stand just out of earshot.
"Ghosts, Dean?" Andy says weakly, looking like she wants to burst into tears. "What the hell am I even supposed to call you now?"
"How do I know you aren't lying about all of this?" she asks, throwing her hands up. "I'm married to a man who doesn't trust me enough to tell me his own name."
"I trust you completley," Sam says seriously. "If I didn't, you wouldn't know anything about the ghosts. Dean and I would have made up some other story, something you could believe. Look, I'm not saying I was right to hide all this from you." He stares at her pleadingly. "Andy, I love you. I was protecting you—our family. I thought my older brother was dead, and before I met you, he was the only person in the world I had left."
"I have to think about this," Andy says at long last. "I need some time."
"I'm…I'm going to go watch the kids." Andy stands, picks up Jon. "I'll…" She shakes her head wordlessly, then stalks off. Moments later, Molly follows her, catching up to ask her something. Andy glances over her shoulder at Sam, then turns to shake her head at Molly.
"Sammy, I still kind of think this is a dream or something," Dean says from behind him, sitting down beside his brother and staring down at his hands. "You've been dead—I thought you were dead—for sixteen years."
"How did you even end up here?" Sam asks, shaking his head.
"You know, it's really creepy," Dean says, shuddering a little, "but see, I'm a firefighter, just got promoted to fire chief. I've been living down in San Antonio, and then I got two job offers: one in Dallas, one here. I wanted to take the one in Dallas at first because it had better pay, but then I had a dream. And it's weird, but in the dream I was driving the Impala again and I kept getting text messages from Dad." He laughs. "They were coordinates, Sam. To this town."
Sam laughs then, and claps Dean on the shoulder.
"I'm glad you listened," Sam announces.
"Me too," Dean agrees. They beam at each other like idiots for a couple of minutes, and then Sam says,
"You used the last name Rockford?"
"Hey," Dean says, shrugging. "I always thought…just in case, you know?"
"Yeah." Sam nods. "I know."
Andy doesn't talk to him for a solid week, but she doesn't tell him to pack his things either. She leaves it to him to explain to the kids about his real name and their uncle Dean and really, they handle it pretty well (especially because he leaves out the part about the ghosts for now).
"Will we change our last name now?" Jared asks, looking intrigued at the idea. Sam eyes Andrea, who is determinedly ignoring him as she feeds Jon.
"I don't know," he tells him quietly. "We'll see."
He and Dean see each other a lot—every single day, in fact, when they meet for a drink at the local bar. They have a lot of catching up to do, after all.
For the time being, Dean's living at the firehouse, giving Molly some space and seeing the kids on weekends. The brothers are glad to have each other back again, but they don't exactly want to lose their families either, and they decide something must be done
"Hey, I wonder if Missouri's still around," Sam says one day out of the blue.
"Huh." Dean shrugs. "Well, who knows?"
Two days later, Dean stomps into the bar, looking annoyed.
"Missouri is alive and kicking," he announces sourly. "I called her old number just for the hell of it and the minute she picked up the phone she started reading me the riot act." Dean raises his voices to an absurd decibel in an impression of the kindly old psychic. " 'Dean Winchester, why, you and that fool brother of yours only ever think to call when you need my help! You disappear for sixteen years and I don't hear one word from you and now you think you can call and beg for me to make your wives come 'round? Well boy, you got another think coming, 'cause it just ain't that easy!'"
"That sounds like Missouri," Sam says, laughing.
"Yeah, and she still threatens to whack me with a spoon," Dean complains. "Mind you, I didn't get a word in the entire conversation except for when I said I was sorry, and even then she accused me of being 'flip', whatever the hell that's supposed to mean."
"Well? Is she going to come and see us?"
"You want her to?" Dean looks aghast. When Sam smiles widely, Dean sighs wearily and mutters, "Unfortunately, she'll be here tomorrow. Her flight gets in at five."
"How'd you get her to agree?"
"I didn't." Dean looks even more pissed off. "She said that our poor wives deserved real explanations Like we didn't try that already!" Sam laughs, feeling happy, relaxed.
"God, Dean, I missed you." There is a pause; Sam almost expects to be told to cut it out with the chick-flick moment, but then Dean claps him on the shoulder.
"Yeah, Sammy," he says, and he smiles at his little brother. "I missed you too."
"Oh, boys." For all her angry bluster, Missouri looks delighted to see Sam and Dean when they pick her up at the airport, and she hugs each of them. "It's been a damn long haul, hasn't it?"
"Yes ma'am," Sam agrees. Dean grunts in acknowledgement, eyeing the psychic warily. She's a lot older than either Winchester remembers, but her smile is the same, and so is her embrace.
"You've made a real mess of it this time," she informs them as they head for the car (Sam had kept the Impala and had happily returned it to an overjoyed Dean almost immediately after their reunion). "Your poor wives!"
The car ride to Sam's house is long, and Missouri fills the silence with admonishments and questions, and when they pull up, Missouri gets out of the car and marches into the house without so much as a by-your-leave. An amused Sam and irritated Dean follow her in the door to find her greeting Andrea and Molly, who are sitting together talking quietly, each drinking a glass of iced tea.
"I'm sorry," Andrea says, looking politely confused. "Who are you?"
"I'm Missouri Mosely, honey. I'm here to explain to you about the crazy things your husbands have done."
"Really?" Molly looks interested. "How do you know them?"
"Oh, I'm a psychic," Missouri declares, sitting down next to Andy. "I was the one who told John Winchester—their daddy—about what happened to his wife."
"A psychic." Andy looks dubious at best, and Molly looks down right exhausted.
Dean leans against the kitchen wall, next to Sam.
"This should be interesting," he mutters.
"Yes." Missouri eyes Andrea. "Right now, you're wondering why Sam brought a crazy old lady into try to back-up his ludicrous story. Well, Andrea Louise, let me tell you something: I'm a lot of things, but crazy ain't one of them. And you there, Molly—you're thinking about your grandmother, Rose. Ah, she was a psychic too, wasn't she?"
"I can keep going if you like," Missouri says conversationally. "I can even summon you up a spirit. But mostly, what you should do is listen, because I know these boys, and I can tell you right now, they don't mean nobody harm. These two have seen things you couldn't even have nightmares about, and they've lost a lot. Now, you can hear their story—their whole story—and know the truth, or you can punish them more and let them lose you. You two love them; I'm sure you know what's best."
There's a long moment of silence in which Andrea and Molly stare at their respective husbands.
"Well," Molly says finally, turning to Missouri. "Let's hear it."
In the end, they get the Demon.
In the end, each Winchester believes the Demon got them.
In the end, they move on, believing their lives to be over, the last person they love to be gone, and they start anew.
In the end, they find each other again, through the most unlikely circumstances, in the most unlikely of places.
In the end, Andy and Molly find it in themselves to believe Sam and Dean—they do, after all, know an honest to God psychic. It doesn't hurt when Dean finds a spirit in his house and exorcises it during Christmas dinner later that year.
In the end, there are still secrets and stories to tell, still people to remember, still ghosts to hunt. The Winchesters are still Winchesters, no matter how hard they have tried not to be.
In the end, though, none of it matters, not really—because in the end, it is never really the end.
It's just another beginning.
Each breath the Winchester brothers draw is proof enough of that.
(or is it a beginning?)