Sam felt the familiar smile brighten his features as he watched his son play in the sandbox. Mikey just loved coming to the small park down the street from their apartment. Sam found his grin growing at the sight of his chubby little four year old's attempt at a sand castle.
If, just a few short years ago, someone had told Sam he would one day be this happy and content again, he would have scoffed in their face. But Sam was happy and he was content. There was only a small piece of his heart that still ached, but on most days he was way too preoccupied with Mikey and work to have any time to think too hard on it.
Noticing the time and feeling the chilled breeze as it ruffled his shaggy brown hair, Sam decided it was time to head home. The last thing he needed was for Mikey to get sick.
"Mikey! Time to head home!"
Mikey looked up and administered a half-hearted pout as he abandoned his creation. Hand in hand, the two Winchesters began their walk home in a comfortable silence. It wasn't until they were stopped at a crosswalk that Mikey's huge hazel eyes stared pleadingly at Sam.
"Daddy, do I have to go to preschool tomorrow?"
Sam frowned at the random question, but kept his tone light. "Of course, you do, silly." They crossed the street and their quaint little apartment building came into view. "What would make you ask that?"
Mikey's head was down and his voice defeated, "Nothing, just wondering."
Sam didn't like the sound of this and was determined to get to the bottom of it. Mikey had always enjoyed preschool. He was such a sweet kid that it had hardly taken him anytime at all to make new friends when he had first started months ago. Come to think of it, everyone liked Mikey, and he tended to like most everyone else, especially those he associated with preschool. Well, it was obvious his son wasn't going to elaborate on the subject at the moment. Sam decided to poke around a bit during dinner.
Later that evening, over meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and salad, Sam was prepared to broach the subject, but his son beat him to it. About halfway through his salad, Mikey set down his fork with a determined set to his chubby jaw.
"Daddy, why don't I have a mommy or another daddy like the other kids at school?"
Needless to say, Sam was completely caught off guard and choked on his iced tea. Mikey frowned in worry as his father coughed and sputtered.
"Daddy? Are you okay? Do you need the High-mo-lick?"
Sam shook his head and managed to compose himself after a few more coughs. He then mulled over Mikey's question before a lightbulb clicked.
As gently as possible, he asked, "Does this have something to do with why you don't want to go to preschool tomorrow?"
Mikey's eyes shot up to meet his and then resumed their intense study of his mashed potatoes. This alerted Sam that he had hit the nail right on the head.
The boy shrugged one small shoulder. "Maryellen Casp asked me today."
There was silence at the table for a moment as Sam sat there at a loss.
"Well", he began, slowly. "Do you think you need another parent?" Sam watched as Mikey's features took on a look of concentration. He was obviously giving this question a lot of thought. Finally, his eyes met his father's brown ones.
"No, you're a good daddy." And with that, his round face split into a grin so familiar it made Sam's heart ache. His little baby, that the preschool teachers were already saying was extremely smart for his age, could still say or do the simplest of things to cause Sam's heart to swell with love. He came around the table and took his son in his arms.
"What do you say we get you in the tub and then off to bed?" Sam said this as he was already leading him down the hall and into the small bathroom. Mikey griped a little but was complient for the most part.
One quick bath and bedtime story for Mikey, and a few clean dishes later, and Sam was finally able to sink into the comfort of his worn sofa. His body had been screaming all day for a rest and he just relished in the pleasure of total relaxation as he aimlessly channel surfed.
It was times like this, when he relaxed and let his mind wander beyond work and Mikey, and just continuing to put one foot in front of the other, that he thought of Dean.
It truly did feel like a lifetime ago. The hunting, the seedy motels, the relationship that had been established. It hadn't lasted long, but while it did, it was so good. Sam remembered the mornings when they just had time on their hands. They would lay in each other's arms, not talking, just enjoying the other's company. Not to say their hadn't been fights. There were, and some of them got pretty nasty or violent. However, for the most part, the good outweighed the bad.
And then, Sam had caught a stomach bug. At least, that's what he thought it was. Yet, after a month of nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, and backaches, Sam became suspicious. He somehow bought a pregnancy test without Dean knowing, and took it while he was out hustling pool. That was when Sam's world came crashing down. Though in the back of his mind, Sam had known the test would be positive, it still came as a bit of a shock. After about an hour of sobbing hysterically on and off, Sam began to think. He had money saved up, quite a bit of money actually. It would be more than enough to get him started. And there was a bus stop right down the road...
Staying with Dean was not an option. Sure, he would settle down and raise a kid, if Sam told him about the baby, but Dean would never be happy. Dean was a hunter. He needed the hunt as much as he needed to eat or breathe, and Sam would not take that from him. In the end, Sam wrote him a long note apologizing and asking him not to look for him, knowing Dean would anyway.
Sam eventually ended up in Hopewell, New Jersey. It was a nice, quiet town and Sam thought it a perfect place to settle down and take care of his baby. He used some of his stash to pay for a minuscule apartment and worked both at a library and a supermarket. Sam mostly kept to himself as much as possible during his pregnancy, yet Dennis Sawyer somehow found his way into Sam's life. He turned out to be Sam's best friend and stuck by him through absolutely everything. It was Dennis that was right by Sam's side when he gave birth to Mikey. And Dennis was the one that had turned him on to the excellent job at the bank, where Sam was slowly working his way to the top.
Michael Dean Winchester had been a blessing to his father from the moment he came into the world. Raising a child was a constant struggle for Sam, but Mikey brought so much joy into his life that he never cared how many hours he had to work to make ends meet or how many times he had to change his vomit soaked clothing. The hardest part was the fact that most everything about Mikey just screamed "Dean's son". From the dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes, to the crooked, carefree grin that so often made an appearance. It was a constant reminder of what Sam had walked away from almost five years ago.
The obnoxiously loud theme song to some cheesy reality TV show startled Sam from his contemplations. Deciding to turn in for the night, Sam went through his nightly routine. That night, Sam's dreams were filled with rock salt, leather, and an old black car.