In the Catalog of Futures

He had made bargains and he had made sacrifices.

Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine but I'd make Dean wear his boots all the time if they were.

Overall Rating: T

Overall Pairings: Dean/OFC

Miscellaneous: No spoilers. This was written for the Case Study in 250 Words challenge at spn-het-love on Livejournal.

Betas: misskatieleigh provided me with gracious feedback that I couldn't use due to the word count restrictions. I did some minor edits to incorporate her suggestions while staying within the wordcount guidelines. embroiderama's support for this was as strong as it was for the piece that originally inspired this. The good parts are all them. The mistakes? Those are all me.

She had watched him hunt and she had seen him kill, the collateral damage of stumbling into his world and never leaving it. She stayed because silvery half-moons peppered her hip, sharp pricks that said 'I can't lose you' even when his voice had dared her to run.

She had counted every bruise and she had touched every scar, some so faded now that only their stories remained – long years blurred together with the car roaring into the driveway and the tang of blood seeping through stitches. Ellen had warned her once that hunters' goodbyes were always their last.

But Dean always came back.

It was how he was built – the call of family as much a part of him as skin and sinew and breathing.

He had made bargains and he had made sacrifices – nothing mattered beyond knowing that his brother still lived or that their children were safe in a house protected by charms carved into window lintels and painted underneath the carpet.

There were no charms for their daughter, immobile and translucent between humming machines, but he and Sam chased down nightmares while Penny waited – counting new bruises on his arms and listening as the respirator breathed.

She watched his fingers curl and she winced when raw scabs broke across his knuckles from fists clenched too hard, his body stiffening when she put her arms around his waist and rested her forehead on his back – telling him the truth when his breath hitched.

Winchesters always come back.


The title of this piece is taken from the poem "Twelve Hours Distant," written by Hugh Cook after being diagnosed with cancer. The entire line is "In the catalog of futures, we are three" – referring to himself, his wife and his daughter. It seemed appropriate for this story, even though there are six brothers unaccounted for within this vignette.

It is, sad to say, the only companion piece I will probably ever write to "As She Hit the Open Road." embroiderama asked for something that described Dean's reactions during the story and this was the closest that I could get.

This would have carried more emotional punch if I went over the word count and incorporated misskatieleigh's suggestions but…I didn't feel right cheating on my own surprise challenge.