from ashes to ashes

For Senora G

Cierran las computadoras!

Maybe Bobby thought he owed her something; maybe he was still mostly drunk and half-dizzy from the Demon and the army and the ghost and Sam (and now Dean). Maybe he just wanted to fill the silence with something other than the soft swish of beer and the quiet panic that had settled in the corners of the kitchen.

So he looked out the window, watching Sam and Dean wrestle, euphoric and free and still half-stunned to be alive (mostly, but also partly dead and Bobby knew that and Dean knew that and Sam—he didn't know it quite yet but he would, he would). Ellen muttered with a half-laugh, "I can't imagine those boys as kids. What a handful," like she thought suddenly Jo and Ash (or maybe she didn't think about Ash or ashes, maybe that still hurt too much) weren't so bad.

And Bobby said, "They were good boys," but she looked at him like she knew better and he laughed, too. "Oh, fuck, Ellen, but if they weren't good boys."

He wondered when it was exactly that they'd won him over, when John's shadows had become Bobby's nephews. And he said, "Prom." Ellen drank and watched and didn't press. Bobby was like John in that way. He looked at her with a grin. "Sam's prom date, junior year. . . pretty little thing. A year older. She took one look at Dean and fell head-over-heels." He chuckled, swirling his beer in the bottle. "Son-of-a-bitch had to start hiding when Sam brought girls home."

Ellen's laugh was rough and harsh and real, just around the edges. "That explains the ego," she joked, but her tone was warm and affectionate like maybe she loved him, too, just like Bobby and just like everyone else. Then she added, because it's not the right time, but. How could she not. "I wish he'd been hiding the first time Sam met Jo."

She even sort-of meant it, because Sam is safe and well-adjusted and friendly where Dean is flirtatious and driven and stoic. Bobby shook his head. "No, you don't," he answered seriously. "Dean has quantity, but Sam gets quality," he said, and didn't elaborate.

Ellen shook her head. "I don't know about that," she murmured. "I think more women fall for Dean just because he's available more often. Sam finds his woman and sticks with her. But Dean will—might—would have made a good husband, eventually."

That ripped the veneer from the situation and Bobby remembered that unless Dean marries in the next twelve months he'll never know. So he didn't answer exactly, just shrugged and said, "Yeah, well, Dean is Dean."

Didn't add, Dean is brave and devoted and so, so fucked over. Didn't add, Dean is self-sacrificing and self-loathing and selfless. Didn't add, Dean is Dean and Sam will always, always have him, even when he's salted and burned because his ashes will fling themselves from the pyre into Sam's eyes and hair and mouth and stay there, even if only in the memory of their taste.

Didn't add: we know about ashes, Ellen, you and I.