A/N: Many thanks to my fabulous beta team, loracj2 and roseintexas
Discl.: I don't own nuffin
The Mamas and the Papas
Sam shifted grumpily in his seat, stretching and bending his freakishly long legs to find a more comfortable position. Granted, the Impala was more spacious than your average American family car, but after five hours even those seats turned inconvenient. The black leather squeaked as he moved and Sam huffed, angrily pounding his hand onto his leg. Why was he just so restless tonight?
Pressing his eyes shut, Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, willing for the slight headache he felt surfacing to go away. The endless torturing of a single guitar, apparently what Dean called music, blared loudly from the speakers and wasn't at all helping the pressure building behind his eyes.
"Dean, please. Can we maybe listen to something less… dramatic?"
His brother snorted and turned teasing eyes towards him.
"And by less dramatic you mean the girly music you listen to?"
"The Mamas and the Papas were a respectable band in the 60's," Sam growled.
"Yeah well, so was Black Sabbath."
"Dude, they were in the 70's," Sam corrected.
"Whatever, man. No California Dreaming in my baby."
Sam sighed pitifully and shook his head, then sullenly returned to watch the blackness of the night pass by.
Dean swallowed thickly at Sam's gesture, not failing to notice the quick flash of hurt racing over his little brother's face.
Frowning, Dean wondered what he'd said wrong. It couldn't possibly be the stab at Sam's taste in music, which was a constant war between them, mostly upheld to pass the time. And he was certain that he had teased Sam about his choice of music at least a hundred times before, which had never led to a similar reaction.
Of course, Dean knew that Sam wanted, needed to talk about the deal; the figurative sword hanging over them. But it was not like they hadn't been in a similar situation before. Fuck, they'd spent the past half year with John's words of doom in their heads and still had managed to avoid talking about it most of the time.
Biting his lip, Dean watched Sam from the corner of his eye, waiting for any reaction. But his brother remained silent, face blank and eyes guarded as he stared ahead.
Dean flinched, but reacted immediately and slammed hard on the brakes. While fighting to keep the tires on the slippery road, he noticed Sam flying forward, legs and arms everywhere before he connected with the dashboard. Seconds later the car screeched to a halt, its V8 engine dying with a disgusted shudder. Releasing the air he had been holding in his lungs, Dean took a moment to gather his thoughts and recover from the shock of the sudden stop.
Turning around, he reached out with a trembling hand and touched Sam's shoulder, shaking gently but urgently while his eyes scanned his brother's tall frame for injuries. Sam was slouched forward, head resting on the dark dashboard in an awkward position. Dean violently cursed his delay to install seatbelts after their previous accident with the demon truck.
The look of Sam's motionless form raised unwelcome pictures and he swallowed, determined to suppress the urge to gag. Pushing these memories back into the dark places of his subconscious where they lay buried, he opened his mouth, but flinched at his own, fear-laced voice.
An angry huff caught him off guard. Sam's voice came rough, resounding with anger and the fading traces of panic.
"Jesus, Dean, are you insane?"
Pushing himself backwards against the seat, Sam turned fuming eyes to his brother.
Dean noticed the dark traces of blood on Sam's forehead, crimson drops trickling down his face from the small crack in his skin. Concern raced through the older hunter and he reached out, desperate and determined to examine the wound he'd caused.
Sam frowned and caught his brother's arm, shoving it away furiously, his eyes flashing with rage.
"What the hell, Dean?"
"Are you OK?"
Confusion radiated from Dean. Mixed with the omnipresent guilt and concern, it made him appear more vulnerable than Sam had seen him for a long time. Sighing, the younger man nodded and moved his hand to his head, carefully inspecting the cut.
"What did you see?"
Surprised, Sam blinked at Dean.
"What… I didn't see anything?"
It was Dean's turn to be surprised and the confused frown on his face deepened.
"Why did you tell me to stop?"
A bitter laugh rushed from Sam's throat, eyes squinting shut at the ridiculousness of the situation. Shaking his head lightly he glanced at Dean.
"I meant – Dean, stop staring at me like that!"
Dean exhaled slowly, eyes dark and unreadable as he turned his head away and angrily gritted his teeth. Ever since they had killed that son-of-a-bitch demon, they had been walking on eggshells around each other. Why was this so hard? They should be celebrating. Sam was alive, Dean was alive (at least for another 362 days – not that he was counting), Dad was out of hell and their reason for crusade was left dead, rotting in the cemetery.
But things were not all right.
Dean had a feeling he knew what was wrong. Well, besides the obvious selling-his-soul-to-hell deal neither of them could ignore.
During the past few days, he had started to realize why they couldn't go back to the way things had been. Even with the possibility of Sam turning evil, they had been fine, hunting and bickering like they used to. But after Sam figuring out and addressing the nature of the deal, things had changed. The delicate balance Dean had established that fateful night so long ago, with the heat of the fire breathing down his neck and the weight of Sammy in his arms, was suddenly gone. And Dean wasn't ready to accept that.
Angrily reaching for the door handle, he pushed it open. The familiar creak broke the silence of the night. He exited quickly, rage and frustration stealing his breath and blurring his vision.
His brother had died in his arms. Dean had held Sam's limp body when his spirit had fled and the blood had stopped pumping through his system. And Dean had been unable to do anything about it. He would remember the sensation of loss and utter desperation burning deep within his heart forever.
Sam wouldn't understand that those pictures carved into his mind were not easily ignored and impossible to forget. The images were eating away his soul, little by little, poisoning his dreams and pushing him towards the edge of sanity. Why wouldn't Sam just give him a break and leave him the fuck alone, at least for the moment? He needed a time out to process the past few days and to enjoy watching Sam breathe, talk, be.
Despite the darkness on his mind, there was also another thing that kept bothering him. With the demon dead and the prospect of only a few months left to live, memories of his mom resurfaced, memories he had not allowed himself to have or, even worse, had only used to fuel the rage, to boost the determination to hunt all evil. But maybe it was time to grieve now that mom was finally avenged.
Dean craved a "real" road trip. He just wanted to be with his brother, to make up for the past years they had spent chasing the yellow eyed demon. Catch up on normal conversations; maybe finally talk about topics they had avoided before. Like Mom. Sam needed to know the memories he had kept from him, just in case…
They needed a holiday, like he had suggested. Screw the demons from hell; they could wait a few more days. But the two of them deserved some time to recuperate, to relax, to bebrothers.
He heard the Impala door open and unconsciously braced himself for the compassion and disappointment which always resounded in Sam's voice lately.
"What's the matter with you, Dean?"
Dean didn't get the chance to answer when a whimper from the side of the road caught them off guard.
Sam moved forward, stepping carefully in the dark, eyes straining toward the origin of the sound. At first the blackness remained silent, but seconds later a softer whimper, followed by a sob, reached their ears. Dean opened the trunk of the Impala and retrieved a flashlight together with a shotgun. Tossing the gun at Sam, he reached for his own handgun, checked the ammo and nodded satisfied, then joined his brother who was waiting impatiently. The whimpers had now turned into a steady stream of sobs; sometimes interrupted by a muffled cry of pain.
Together, they carefully walked along the dirt spiked shoulder, Dean lighting the road and the bordering grass field with the flashlight. Sam spotted the woman first. She was lying crouched in a small gully, clad in a light summer dress and apparently trying to remain hidden.
Hesitant, Sam and Dean moved closer, weapons still ready and eyes scanning the dark for any signs of danger. Sam finally spoke up, voice even.
"Miss, are you OK?"
Haunted eyes met his gaze, blinking in the blinding light of the torch. The young woman flinched when she noticed the shotgun and cuddled tighter into herself. Dean raised a questioning eyebrow at Sam, then glanced around once more and decided that it was unlikely that this was a trap. Slowly, in order not to scare her any further, he tucked his handgun into the back of his jeans. Gravel crunched under his heavy boots when he crouched down.
"It's OK, we can help you. Are you lost?"
Both boys winced when a cry of pain rushed out of the woman's throat and she panted, eyes shut close and teeth gritted together.
"I need an ambulance."
Her voice, thick with fear and pain, still held a strong determination.
"Where are you hurt? Maybe we can help?"
She snorted at Dean's thoughtful question and sent him a quick glance, pained eyes twinkling with faint sarcasm.
"Sure, if you happen to be two very manly midwives?"
The brothers shared a look, perplexity painting their face when realization dawned.
"You're pregnant?" Sam breathed, taken aback.
"Last time I checked… And despite only being in week 35 the cramps I'm having, coupled with the very frequent contractions, make me believe this baby wants to be born tonight."
"35 weeks… I don't exactly remember my biology classes, 35 weeks mean-" Sam stuttered.
"She's in her eighth month, it's 41 to 42 weeks normally," Dean interrupted.
"How…" Sam asked baffled.
Dean's gaze wandered from the pregnant woman over to Sam, eyes soft in the dim illumination of the flash light.
"Mom counted with me. When she was… you know… with you…"
Dean stopped and dropped his head, his fingers nervously playing with the dirt on the ground. Sam swallowed, once more noting the crack in Dean's emotional armor, releasing vulnerability he usually kept so well hidden.
"Fine. Are we through with our lesson of women's biology now? Because I could really need an ambulance like… two hours ago," the pregnant woman remarked.
"Sorry. I'm Dean, this is my brother Sam. What's your name?"
"Valerie. Valerie Parker."
"Valerie, I'm gonna help you over to the car. Sam, call 911. Do you know where we are?"
"I believe we've passed a post office about 30 minutes ago, Hereford, I think," Sam answered, while fumbling for his cell phone.
"So basically, we're in the middle of nowhere? Now isn't that just fucking great!"
Sam and Dean turned wide eyes towards Valerie, flabbergasted about her colorful language. Sam unsuccessfully hid a grin and dialed the emergency line on his phone, while Dean crouched forward, ready to help Valerie to her feet and over to the Impala.
"You wouldn't happen to know where the nearest hospital is, would you?" Dean rasped, while placing an arm around her waist to help her get up.
"I've never been here before."
"Yeah? How come you're lying on the side of the road anyway, in your condition?"
Valerie's answer was interrupted by another contraction that chocked her with pain, and she bent over gasping. Thankfully, Dean's strong arms provided enough support to keep them both on their feet. Suddenly, Sam was at their side, rubbing Valerie's back comfortingly and making weird breathing noises.
"You gotta breathe like that," he instructed.
Valerie glared at him but still adopted Sam's steady breathing rhythm. Together they stumbled to the car, where Dean opened the backdoor and helped Valerie settle on the backseat. The interior light provided little lighting, but it had to do.
"Valerie, I want you to continue breathing the way you have been. Put your legs up the seat, I need to take a look at your cervix."
Dean's voice was neutral and all business and the pregnant woman nodded grimly. Slowly bringing up her feet, she lay back and placed her head on the blanket Sam had provided before reluctantly opening her legs.
"How long will the ambulance take to get here?"
"It's driving down from Cheyenne, Wyoming, which takes an hour, at least," Sam informed hoarsely.
"That'll be too late. Get some more blankets from the trunk and then time her contractions. I'll check if I can find any water around here."
Sam blinked; his face crumbled into a question mark. "Have you done this before?"
Dean glared at him with a frown, but Sam spotted a mixture of nostalgia and compassion swimming in his brother's green eyes.
"No, I have not. But there's a chance of her dying, the baby dying, if we won't deliver it."
"But how do you know what to do?"
Dean remained silent for a moment, then turned away from Sam and mumbled "I've read books."
"About birthing a child, Dean? When?"
Angrily swirling around, Dean's eyes flashed with a melancholy that made Sam's heart ache.
"Fine! All my knowledge is based on a picture book mom and dad gave me when they told me that she was expecting a baby. And on the follow up questions I asked later when you were already born. And maybe I actually listened in biology class. From the Lifetime movies I know how it looks to deliver a baby. And I also know that we don't have any other choice than to try and help as best as we can."
Silence followed Dean's rushed speech, until Valerie moaned and forced the boys to return their attention to her.
"Well, thank you, Sam. My confidence….. is completely gone now!" Valerie panted when another contraction washed over her.
"Valerie, how long have you been having contractions?"
"I can't say for sure… but I'd say… they started shortly before sunset."
Sam and Dean shared a concerned look.
"Well, it's past midnight now and there's… a disgusting… liquid…" Sam commented breathlessly while peeking over his brother's shoulder. Gulping as the smell of blood invaded his nose he stopped, helpless eyes meeting Valerie's gaze.
"That's ok, I think… doctor mentioned… something like that… I can feel the urge to…. press now."
"I'm guessing… that's what you should do then?"
Dean's voice had lost some of its confident touch. He inhaled deeply, then kneeled down on the chassis and reached for a towel they had stored in a bag under the seat.
"Sam, go to the other side, she might need your hand to hold on to."
Sam well noted Dean's slight smirk when their eyes met, but he was too grateful to escape the frightening view that he didn't think much of it. He rushed over to Valerie's head, grabbed her hand and gave her an encouraging squeeze, his other hand comfortingly brushing over her hair. Looking up, he nodded Dean their readiness.
"Ok, Valerie, with the next contraction, I want you to push as hard as you can!" Dean instructed, his voice firm, but Sam was aware of the nervousness his brother radiated. Gripping the towel in his hand tighter, Dean swallowed thickly when Valerie screamed, her face crumpled in pain, squeezing down hard on Sam's hand when she pressed.
"Holy…" Sam croaked, head turned away from the girl, teeth gritted tightly together.
The moment the contraction was over and Valerie released Sam's hand for a few seconds he cradled his arm and carefully stretched his hurting fingers. Composing himself, he looked back at Valerie, eyes wide with amazement.
"With that grip, you would kick Dean's ass at arm-wrestling anytime."
Valerie chuckled softly, grateful for the distraction.
"I… there's hair," Dean suddenly rasped, slightly chocking.
"What do I do next?" Valerie's breathless and pain dripping voice held panic when she turned back to him.
"I… uh… push once more with the next contraction?"
They didn't have to wait long. Sam reluctantly offered Valerie his hand again when the pain washed over her in waves and she moaned. This time the contraction was even stronger and her loud screams shattered the otherwise silent night.
Panting when the pain subsided for a moment, Valerie squinted, her body trembling from exhaustion. Releasing the pressure on Sam's squashed fingers she relaxed against the seat, her eyes closed.
"The head's here."
Sam and Valerie turned big eyes at Dean, whose voice was suddenly filled with awe.
"I think one more and we're done," Dean encouraged.
Valerie braced herself once more as she sent a quick thank you heavenwards for someone showing up. The boys had no idea how grateful she was for them being there. Dean's calmness, despite being frightened to the bone, as she could imagine, gave her a warm feeling of safety. Sam's hand brushed over her hair once more and she sighed with the sensation of another contraction tingling in her back.
"Here we go," she pressed through gritted teeth and then pushed with all the energy she had left.
For once, Dean was glad for his hunting background. All the gore he had seen, ever since he had gone on hunts with his dad had prepared him well for the bloody mess he was faced with now. Swallowing, he placed careful hands on the tiny body and carefully grabbed the slippery bundle that was shoved towards him with Valerie's last push.
His breathing stopped for a second, until he remembered that the tiny baby in his arms needed to do exactly that – breathe. Holding it upside down, as he had seen on TV often, he gave it a slight pat on the back. He cradled the little baby in his arms, and exhaled with relief as small cries emanated from her.
"It's a girl, and she's beautiful," he breathed, amazement and pride gloating from his entire being.
Valerie was quiet, silent tears streaming down her face as she concentrated on drawing in air and steadying her raspy breathing. She was a mom.
Sam had reached into his pocket and retrieved a flask of liquor. Grabbing the knife he carried inside his jacket, he poured some whiskey over the blade before handing it over to Dean.
"Do you want to cut the umbilical cord?"
Valerie shook her head and let herself fall back against the seat. Sobs started building inside of her and she hitched. All the tension, relief and exhaustion took over and she started trembling, unable to control her body anymore. Sam rubbed his hand down her arms comfortingly, brushed through her hair and softly whispered into her ear.
"It's OK, Valerie, you did it. You have a healthy daughter. You're a mom now."
When Sam glanced up at Dean, he caught his brother staring at him, eyes misty but his face shining with the biggest smile Sam had ever seen. Peace washed over Sam at seeing Dean like this and he cursed the small voice in the back of his head, whispering 362 days left, to hell. He wanted Dean to be happy. His big brother had worried enough, had taken care of too much – everything – for as long as Sam could remember; and seeing Dean so at ease set his own mind at ease, too.
While Dean cleaned the baby carefully with a new towel, the loud cries turned into soft wailing. Once more looking at Sam, awkwardness played on his face.
"Uh, Sam, could you open the bag under the seat at your side and give me that…. thing inside?"
"There's nothing here, Dean. The bag's on your side, remember?" Sam retorted confused.
"Actually… there is. Just check, OK?"
By now Dean's voice sounded slightly exasperated and his cheeks were flushed.
Sam frowned and reached under the black leather seat. Sure enough, he could feel another bag he had never noticed before. Pulling it out, he placed it on the ground outside of the car and opened it. A blue blanket showed on top, neatly folded. An appliqué of a bigger and a smaller teddy bear, hugging each other tight, was embroidered in the corner.
Dean cleared his throat and ordered," Hand it over, Sammy," but his voice lacked the usual sharpness he used when absolutely needing Sam to obey.
Wordlessly, Sam pulled it out and handed it over to his brother. Dean wrapped the now quiet little girl into the old, but still fluffy, blanket before placing the baby in her mother's arms. Sam helped Valerie up, propping her softly against his chest when she inspected her daughter for the first time.
"Taking after her mom, clearly," Dean grinned, face and eyes soft.
"Do you already have a name?" Sam asked gently.
"Well… actually, we had… but… I'd love to name her after you guys; but it would be strange to call her Sam Dean Parker. Is there any female name you can think of?"
The brothers didn't even share a look or hesitate when they spoke in unison.
"Mary. Mary Parker. Yes, I like that. Do you like that too, Mary?"
A big smile spread over Valerie's face as she tenderly caressed the baby, smoothing over her soft hair, and marveling at the reality and astonishment of being a real mom.
"Who's Mary? Your Mary, I mean?"
"I'd love to meet her once and tell her what amazing sons she has."
Sam wanted to answer when Dean's low, rough voice startled him.
"She'd love that."
The sounds of sirens and the approaching headlights of a car interrupted any further comment.
"Thank God," Dean breathed a sigh of relief. He turned around and stepped forward to direct the ambulance.
"Where's Mary's father?" Sam asked.
"In a motel around here somewhere, probably worried sick. We're on a road trip, kind of. We didn't even want to pass through Colorado, but there was this explosion in south Wyoming and… weird stories about cattle deaths and so we decided to drive to Colorado instead. Anyway, we stopped at the motel and we… had a fight. A stupid fight, really. I can be very impulsive and so… I just took off. The car broke down and I continued walking, until the contractions started. A few hours later you….."
"Valerie!" a voice suddenly screamed.
Sam looked up and saw a distraught looking man running towards the Impala. Moving away to give the couple some space, Sam motioned "Matt" to come his side of the car and take over. Settling his wife's head in his lap, Matt panted; panic still speaking from his high pitched voice.
"Valerie, oh my God, are you all right, I'm so sorry… I shouldn't have… we… I'm so sorry!"
"We're fine, Matt."
"I really am sor-… We??"
Finally his eyes moved further down Valerie's body and he gasped when, for the first time, he noticed the tiny baby in her arms.
"Matt. Meet Mary."
Sam turned away and left the family to themselves. He shuffled over and silently joined Dean, who was standing some feet away, wordlessly watching the paramedics work. Softly nudging Dean's shoulder, Sam smirked at his brother, but remained silent, both still absorbing the past events.
Later, Matt started running around, slightly freaked out, as any fresh father would be. He thanked them effusively, went back to Valerie and then returned, just to stare at Dean and Sam in awe and whisper, "I'm a dad now."
Matt returned the blue baby blanket in exchange for Dean's cell phone number, as Valerie had insisted. Half an hour later, Valerie and Mary were safely placed in the ambulance, ready to leave for the hospital and they said goodbye, with a promise to visit once the Parkers were settled in their new home. A promise both Winchesters knew they wouldn't keep.
The ambulance drove off, leaving silence and darkness in its wake. Sam shuffled, kicking away a few stones before yawning.
"I guess sleeping in the car is not an option tonight."
Dean's voice sounded tired but still held a spark of humor when he grinned at Sam. Settling in their regular seats inside the Impala, Sam curled his nose at the faint smell of blood and sweat.
"There should be a bigger town coming up. I asked one of the paramedics. He gave me the address of a decent motel."
Dean nodded, turned the key in the ignition and started the engine. They drove in silence for a few miles until Dean cleared his throat, his husky voice pulling Sam out of his brooding state.
"You know…When I gave Valerie her baby… Mom had the exact same expression on her face when… the day she brought you home."
Sam bit his lip hard to keep himself from whimpering at the sudden stab of pain in his heart. Dean didn't talk about Mom much. Sam had asked and probed and nagged, but neither Dean nor Dad ever told him much. After some time, Sam had stopped asking, his heart aching at the sorrow that their faces reflected every time Mary's name was mentioned.
"That blanket. It was yours. We bought it from some old woman in Lawrence. Mom, Dad and I went there a few weeks before you were born, and she asked me which one I'd choose. Dad suggested this one, because of the two teddies. He told me…"
Dean's throat constricted and he stopped, tiredly rubbing his burning eyes.
"He said I could take care of my little brother like that teddy took care of the smaller one."
"Why'd you keep it?" Sam asked softly, unsure if it was OK to interrupt Dean but unable to avoid the burning question.
"I… maybe I wanted to tell you the stories. Tell you how Mom used to be, how Dad used to be before… I wanted you to know that there had been happy times, normal times."
"I know that, Dean."
Dean turned surprised eyes at Sam.
"I mean… I know there must've been happy times. That's why it was so hard to talk about it, for you and Dad. Talking about Mom required you to remember. It didn't hurt me as much, you know? Because I only knew our life."
Dean remained silent. Biting his lip, he concentrated on the road ahead, eyes dark and heavy.
"Yeah well… maybe it's time now."
"Time for what?"
"To tell you how it was – how she was. So you know her and can tell people about her, in case…"
Tears burned in Sam's eyes at the sound of Dean's voice. So desperate to keep the family memories alive, even considering that in a few months, Sam could be the only one left. Or maybe in spite of being the only one left.
"I'd like that….," stopping, Sam composed himself and added softly, "and counting the released demons from hell, we'll have enough time, probably at least another two years of work and road tripping ahead of us."
Dean glanced over, acknowledging the cue with a short nod and an appreciating smile, trust radiating from his features. He reached for the radio and his smile turned into a teasing smirk.
"But Sammy, just so you know. The soundtrack of that road trip won't ever include Monday, Monday or any other flower-power Mamas and the Papas crap, no matter how hard you beg."
"You're pathetic, Dean."
A/N: Feedback is love...