Choices

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I wish I had the privilege of working on Supernatural, but I have to be content with being a fan.

A/N: This story is a big what-if. Come along for the ride and let me know what you think. It's complete and will be posted in 11 sections.

oooOOOooo

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending - Maria Robinson

oooOOOooo

Kristine sat in her car for several minutes before starting the engine. She felt numb and was barely able to think straight, but she only had to go a few miles. It seemed to take hours to get to her cottage and once she was there, she couldn't get out of the car.

How could this have happened? It wasn't even supposed to be possible. She leaned forward and put her head on the steering wheel. What the hell was she going to do?

When her cell phone started to ring she reached for it out of habit and looked at the caller ID display. Even though it was her best friend, she considered not answering it, but Kristine had spent too much time hiding things from her friend and after being released from the mental hospital, she had promised to be more honest. She could have put off being honest, but she really needed to hear a friendly voice at the moment.

"Hey Lori," she said, trying to keep her voice from shaking.

"Hey, you. What's up?"

"Nothing; I'm just on my way home. What's up with you?"

"I just got booked to give a speech in Charlotte this weekend. Wanna come? I know it's last minute, but it just happened. I'm a replacement for someone who got sick. Come on, it's just a half hour thing and then you and I can play."

Kristine and Lori met the summer before they started fifth grade when Lori and her family moved into the small town of Mountain Ridge, North Carolina. They became fast friends and kept in touch while going to different colleges. These days Lori lived in Manhattan, making a living as a lawyer in a big firm known for its pro-bono work. A rising star in the firm, she was often called upon to represent it at various events around the country.

Lori seemed to sense Kristine's uncertainty. "Come on, Kristine. If you don't agree to come to Charlotte, I'm just going to have to come to Mountain Ridge and there are no good places to play there."

"Tell me where to meet you and I'll be there." Kristine forced herself to sound enthusiastic.

After ending the call, Kristine made her way inside the cottage. She looked around as if she'd never seen it before as she headed to the upstairs bathroom. She undressed and took a long, hot shower, trying to wash away what she was feeling.

---

Two days later, Kristine headed to Charlotte. It was only an hour drive and she was able to make it the whole way without pulling over to throw up. There was no way she was going to be able to keep the news from her friend. It was probably for the best anyway; she needed she needed to talk to someone she trusted.

Lori's speech was scheduled for 4:00 Saturday afternoon and she had no further responsibilities to the convention. She was booked in a room at a separate hotel and that's where Kristine had agreed to meet her. Kristine left her car with the valet and swung her overnight bag over her shoulder, smiling and waving off help from a bellhop as she dialed Lori's number on her cell phone.

Although Lori was very responsible in her work life and carried herself well in public, she was still the fun-loving irreverent girl Kristine remembered from childhood. Kristine had seen her take a business call on her cell and then throw back a shot of whiskey as soon as she was off the phone. Under normal circumstances, Kristine could match her drink for drink, but there would be no alcohol for her on this trip.

"Are you here?" Lori asked with no preamble.

"Just got into the lobby."

"Come on up to room 1521."

Kristine saw the elevators to her left and moved toward them. "I'll be right there."

She only had to knock once before Lori threw open the door. Kristine dropped her bag as her friend wrapped her arms around her. They spoke on the phone several times a week, but rarely got to see each other. Kristine returned the hug just as eagerly as it was offered.

"Get in here!" Lori commanded as she grabbed Kristine's bag. She took it into one of the bedrooms and called back to Kristine. "You look pale; have you been sick?"

Kristine smiled as she sat on the couch. "Don't be parental."

Lori came back into the living room. "Do you want something to drink?"

"How about some water?"

"Boring!" Lori complained as she walked to the small refrigerator.

"Is your firm paying for this over-indulgence?" Kristine asked, glancing around the room. They had both come from family money and were used to the finer things in life, but one of the things they had in common was they preferred things simpler.

"No need to worry your pretty little head over that," Lori joked. "Hungry?"

"I don't need a $5 candy bar."

"I meant dinner. What are you in the mood for?"

Kristine held a frozen smile on her face. "How about room service and some conversation?"

Lori looked at her, concern showing in her eyes. "You've got something on your mind."

"Yeah."

"Okay, then. Room service it is." She walked across the room and took a menu from the desk. "How about some good old fashioned junk food?"

Kristine nodded, trying not to cry. "Yeah, that sounds good."

They decided on pizza and a chocolate cake, after Lori placed the order, she settled back down on the couch. "You need something stronger than water?"

Kristine shook her head, tears springing into her eyes.

"Oh no," Lori said, tucking one leg under herself and resting an arm on the back of the couch. "Are you having problems with depression again? Are you cutting yours—"

"No, it's nothing like that," Kristine assured her. "I'm really glad you called the other day and this little weekend is coming at the perfect time."

"Tell me what's going on," Lori said, her voice full of worry.

Kristine repositioned herself so that she was facing her friend. She took a throw pillow from behind her and held it on her lap, her arms wrapped around it. It didn't come as a complete surprise to her that she was having a hard time actually saying the words. After a few moments, she looked at Lori.

"I'm pregnant."

Lori didn't even try to hide her shock. "What? You're sure?"

Kristine nodded, fighting the tears. "I had just come from the doctor when you called the other day."

"I thought you –"

"Me, too. I was told years ago that I couldn't get pregnant, but I guess the doctors were wrong," she shrugged, smiling through her tears.

"Do you – uh – do you know who the father is?"

Kristine wanted to be offended, but given her history, the question was a fair one. She nodded. "It's Dean."

"Oh my God!" Lori reigned in her reaction. "Sorry."

"What am I going to do, Lori? I mean, I'm not stable enough to be a mother – I don't know that I even want a kid….and Dean? How do I tell him about this?"

Lori laid a hand on Kristine's wrist. "Let's work through this one by one. We'll start with you and work our way up to Dean. How far along are you?"

"Almost ten weeks." She saw Lori's disbelief. "I'm not supposed to be able to get pregnant, so I don't even really pay attention. I started feeling sick a couple of weeks ago and thought I had the flu at first."

"Okay, then. You, my friend, are plenty stable. And I think you'd make a great mom."

"I don't even have plants."

Lori laughed. "That's hardly the same thing."

"I can barely take care of myself."

"First of all, that's not true. You've been doing so much better since you got out of the hospital the last time and you're being more open with me and your other friends in town. Second, maybe having someone to take care of will inspire you to take care of yourself." Lori looked at her friend. "Otherwise, you have options."

"I'm not having an abortion. I know I can't do that."

"What about adoption?"

"I've been thinking about that. This may be the only baby I can ever have." She looked at her friend. "And it isn't some random guy's baby. It's Dean's."

"I think you've already decided what you want to do," Lori smiled. "You want this baby."

Kristine looked away for a few moments and then turned back to Lori. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I do. I just don't know if I'm ready."

"You know, Mountain Ridge is a fabulous place to raise a child," Lori said. "And everyone in that town loves you. You'll have all the support you need. And if the kid needs a crazy aunt, well…."

Kristine smiled even though she had started to cry. Lori rubbed her arm. "You'll have everything you need and so will that baby."

"I have to tell Dean."

There was a knock at the door.

"Ah, but first you have to eat pizza."

---

Kristine and Lori spent the weekend talking, shopping and generally having a good time; Kristine drove Lori to the airport on Tuesday morning.

"I got you something," Lori said as Kristine opened the trunk of her car. Lori pulled her suitcase out and a gift bag Kristine hadn't noticed.

"What's this?" Kristine asked, taking it from her.

"Look inside."

Kristine pulled the tissue paper from the bag and smiled. She held the stuffed brown bear lovingly and looked at her friend. "Aw, first baby gift. Thank you."

"It's all going to be okay," Lori said and hugged her. "Call me tonight, okay?"

Kristine pulled away and nodded, fighting the tears. She had done that a lot over the last few days.

After Lori walked inside the terminal, Kristine got back in the car and headed toward the highway. Her home of Mountain Ridge was a small town just north of Asheville and Kristine's family had lived in the area for generations. She worked a few hours each week as a therapist in an Asheville clinic, but since her own hospitalization for self-mutilation a year ago, she hadn't felt up to going back full time. She also spent a lot of time with the hunters who came to the estate for rest and relaxation.

She was the last surviving member of her immediate family; except for her father, everyone had been killed by the same demon who took Mary Winchester. She met John and Dean when Sam was attending Stanford and after the brothers reunited, Dean brought Sam to Mountain Ridge when he was having trouble coping with the death of his girlfriend. It was difficult to define the relationship she and Dean had; she'd even given up trying. She was content with whatever it was they had. The news that she had to share with him would certainly change their relationship. She knew that he was a good man who would take responsibility for the baby. He might even be happy about becoming a father, but Kristine had no idea how he was going to combine his two worlds.

She dropped her bag inside the front door of her cottage and went to the kitchen for a bottle of water. It was early spring and still fairly chilly outside, but she walked out onto the back deck and stared at the trees.

The cottage was on her family's estate property. She'd turned the main house into a place where hunters could come and rest and she lived in what used to house the estate caretaker and his family. It had been years since it had been used for that purpose and had just been a storage facility until she decided to renovate it and move in after her mother's death.

Kristine set the bottle of water on the deck railing and pulled her cell phone from her jacket pocket. She stared at it for several minutes before dialing Dean Winchester's number. They talked a few times a week, but she didn't know where he and his brother were now. The last time they'd spoken, Dean had told her that he and Sam were headed to an Oklahoma town to deal with a group of vampires they'd heard about.

"Hey there," Dean answered the phone, affection filling his voice.

"Hey. Is this a bad time?"

"No. I just dropped Sam off at a bookstore and I'm headed over to the motel's laundry room to wash our clothes."

"What bet did you lose?"

"It's not important," he said, sounding offended. "How ya doin'?"

Kristine leaned against the railing. She loved the sound of Dean's voice and realized every time she talked to him how much she missed him when they were apart.

"I spent the weekend in Charlotte with Lori. We had a good time."

"Oh yeah? So you spent the weekend drinking and going from club to club?"

"Not this time. We hung out, talked, shopped. So, how's the vampire thing going?"

"We finished up yesterday."

"Are you still in Oklahoma?"

"Yeah; Sam's got a few ideas for another job, but so far all we did was get out of the town where we killed the vampires."

"Dean, uh, can you come here? Or can I meet you somewhere?"

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I just…."

"You'd tell me if you were having those thoughts again, wouldn't you?"

After Kristine's sister was killed when Kristine was only a teenager, she'd started having problems with depression. She engaged in dangerous behavior, including self-mutilation and was in and out of mental hospitals for years afterward. Dean happened to come into town just over a year ago as she was hitting rock bottom and had seen her at her worst. Her supervisor at the clinic had helped her get into a good program in Colorado and Dean drove her to the facility. Ever since then they'd been keeping in closer touch.

Kristine sighed to herself. She knew it was a valid concern, but it still made her sad that had been the first thing on both Dean's and Lori's minds. "I would, but I'm not."

"We're probably 12 or 13 hours from you. We can head out early this afternoon and be there late tonight."

"You don't have to drive straight through. Tomorrow is okay."

"You can talk to me now, you know."

"I know. Are you sure I'm not taking you away from anything?"

"You're not, but it wouldn't matter. It wouldn't matter what was going on; I'm there if you need me."

Kristine wanted to cry. Again.

oooOOOooo

"She didn't give you any hint of what she wanted?" Sam asked once they were on the road to North Carolina.

Dean shook his head. "No."

"Do you have any guesses?"

"Not really. But this isn't the first time she's asked us to come."

Sam saw the worried expression on his brother's face.

"There was something in her voice, though." Dean shook his head. "I guess we'll find out when we get there."

"Which at this rate will be no time soon."

They'd gotten caught in the traffic backup caused by an accident on the interstate. They'd heard on the radio news report that it involved a semi truck and two other vehicles and that the traffic jam was at least five miles long so far. Investigation and clean-up was expected to take hours so a detour had been set up, but the exit for it wasn't for another two miles and nothing was moving.

---

Finally reaching a town where they could get gas and food, the brothers headed to a fast food restaurant. Other people had the same idea and they ended up having to stand in line for nearly 15 minutes, but a table opened up so they didn't have to eat in the car. Dean called Kristine to tell her they were running late because of the traffic; she told him again not to worry about driving straight through and that the next day would be soon enough.

At midnight they were still over 300 miles from Mountain Ridge and decided to stop for the night. Dean had talked to Kristine again just before 10:00; she had admitted to falling asleep on the couch and they agreed they would meet up in the morning.

It was just after 11:30 the next day when Dean pulled up in front of Kristine's cottage. She walked out onto the porch a moment later; Sam held back while Dean walked up the three steps and wrapped his arms around her. A few moments later he smiled and nodded as Kristine motioned for him to join them.

---

The safe house had several guests and though Sam preferred to give Dean and Kristine as much privacy as possible, it made more sense for him to stay at the cottage. He chose the downstairs guest room even though it was smaller than the other bedroom on the second floor. Kristine used it primarily for storage, but it was organized and there was a bed in it.

"Are you sure you wouldn't be more comfortable upstairs?" Kristine asked as she helped Sam settle in. "This room is barely a closet and –"

"It's fine," he assured her with a smile.

She looked around doubtfully. It wasn't often that she had personal guests, but she realized that once the baby came this would be her only spare room since she would need to have the nursery upstairs. Suddenly her mind was swimming with the various ways that her life was going to change and she had to brace herself against a stack of boxes to keep from falling down. If Sam noticed, he didn't say anything.

"Well, if you need anything just let me know. You're welcome to use anything that's here, so just make yourself at home."

Sam pulled his laptop out of its case and set it on the bed. "Don't worry about me."

Kristine impulsively kissed him on the cheek before leaving the room. She paused at the door and saw his confused expression, but she disarmed him with a smile and headed to the kitchen where Dean was perusing the contents of the refrigerator.

"Hungry?" she asked.

"When did you find the grocery store?"

"What?"

"I always assumed your empty refrigerator meant you didn't know where the store was."

Kristine didn't particularly care for cooking and tended to take her meals in the main house or she'd microwave something at the cottage. After finding out she was pregnant, she'd immediately decided to keep healthy foods around and the refrigerator was stocked with fruit, vegetables and plenty of milk instead of the beer it normally held.

"You're funny."

"Handsome, too," he said turning to face her.

"I thought you were hungry," she said, leaning against the counter and crossing her arms over her chest.

"I am, but there's nothing in there but healthy stuff. Let's go to Mojo's."

They invited Sam to go to the bar and grill with them, but he declined. Once there, Dean ordered a hamburger and fries while Kristine stuck with soup. She had been sick earlier in the day, but thought she could handle something relatively bland.

While at the restaurant, Kristine managed to steer the conversation away from the real reason she'd asked Dean to come to Mountain Ridge. The last thing she wanted to do was tell him the news in a public place. She suspected he knew what she was doing, but he was nice enough not to push her.

As they left the restaurant, Dean put his arm around Kristine's shoulders. "When are you going to tell me what's going on?"

With an arm around his waist, Kristine veered from their path to the Impala parked near the restaurant toward a park that would be deserted in the middle of a chilly weekday. In the summer there would be young children in the playground, older children in the baseball field and families taking up all of the picnic tables, but today Dean and Kristine had everything to themselves.

She stopped at a table near the back of the picnic area and pulled her coat around her. She wasn't cold because of the temperature, but because of what she was going to tell Dean. She had no idea how he was going to react. She knew that he liked kids and that he would be a wonderful father; she'd seen him interact with his younger brother enough to know that. But his life was already complicated and it wasn't like he and Kristine had made a commitment to one another. One thing about Dean Winchester, though, was that he accepted responsibility and was duty-bound to do the right thing. Kristine knew that no matter what else, he would be by her side. That was something she and Lori had discussed at length during their weekend in Charlotte.

Kristine had been content with their relationship as is. She saw Dean several times a year and spoke to him on the phone often, but they had no rules. She enjoyed spending time with him and she worried about the dangerous situations he was in when he was away from her, but she wasn't devastated when he left. She missed him, though, and never realized how much until the next time she talked to him.

Kristine sat on the bench with her back against the table. Dean sat down next to her.

"I – " she looked off into the distance, gathering her thoughts. "I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it. No sugarcoating."

"Okay." Dean agreed, some apprehension evident in his voice.

Kristine turned to face him. She had never been this nervous around him, not even the first time they made love or the first time he came to North Carolina just to visit her.

"Dean, I'm pregnant."

She saw the surprise on his face, but it quickly gave way to a myriad of other emotions. He stood up and walked a slight distance away before turning to face her. "Are you okay?"

Kristine was stunned by his question. She had expected him to ask if it was his or if she was sure, but she didn't think the first thing out of his mouth would be concern for her well being.

"I…." she looked at him. "I don't know how to answer that."

Dean sat down and took her hand. She felt him trembling slightly.

"How long have you known?"

"About a week."

Dean didn't know all the details, but she had told him when they first started sleeping together that she couldn't get pregnant. Still, they had always used condoms since they both had multiple partners. He nodded, probably thinking back to the last time he'd been in town.

"You've already thought about what you want," he said. Kristine noticed it was a statement and not a question.

"This might be the only baby I can ever have," she said. "It might not be the perfect time in my life, but at least I'm not some idiot high school student or….I'm old enough to make a good decision and I have the means to support a child. I know I've spent a lot of time pretty screwed up, but I think I can do right by this baby."

Kristine saw relief flood Dean's features. She never thought he would want her to get an abortion, but it hadn't occurred to her that he would want the baby as much as he seemingly did.

"I think you'll make a great mother," he said, his voice cracking and his eyes sparkling with tears. "So the doctor before who said –"

"Looks like he was wrong," she nodded and waited a few minutes before continuing. "What are you thinking?"

He shrugged and looked at her. "I – I don't know."

"I want you to know that I don't expect anyth–"

"Don't say that. You should expect something from me. You didn't get pregnant by yourself."

"I would love for you to be a part of your child's life, Dean, but I don't want you to think you have to give up hunting or –"

"We'll figure it out." He sat back down and squeezed her hand. "My child. Oh my god, that just doesn't sound right."

"Dean, I've seen you with kids. I've seen you with Sam and I know what a huge part you played in his childhood. You'll be a great father."

"That's another word that doesn't sound right. Me? A father?" He shook his head. "And come on, Sam is my brother."

"I know, but you were more parental than most brothers…."

Kristine smiled at him, watching as he went through some of the same thoughts she'd had when the doctor told her the news. He put his arm around her and pulled her close, his hand moving to her belly.

"This is really happening," he whispered.

She nodded against his shoulder, afraid to speak. She felt his lips gently caress her hair. They sat quietly for several minutes before Dean spoke again.

"When is the due date?"

"October 11."

"This is really going to take some getting used to."

"You know, I thought you'd be more freaked out."

"I would have thought so, too," he smirked.

"Maybe it just needs to sink in," Kristine joked.

Dean shifted and held Kristine's face in his hands. He looked into her eyes for a few moments before leaning toward her and kissing her, gently at first and then with more passion. She felt his hands move from her face to her arms; she suddenly didn't want to be sitting in the middle of a public park, even if it was deserted.

"How about we find some place a little more private?" Kristine suggested, feeling flush.

"Any ideas? Sam's probably hold up at your place."

Kristine stood up and held out her hand. "I have lots of ideas."

After a moment of hesitation, Kristine led Dean down a wooded path. They weren't far from the estate property and the path ended near the border. There was a brick building not far beyond the path that was now used for storage – she had no idea what the original use was – but it was actually close to her cottage and accessible using the same dirt road that meandered throughout the property. She'd moved many of the things from her mother's bedroom to the storage unit until she could decide what to do with them, but several years after her death, Kristine still preferred not to think about it.

Kristine pushed in the combination to unlock the door and once inside, she slipped out of her coat and sat down on the plush couch that had been in the sitting area in her mother's suite. Because they'd had privacy along the walk to the storage unit, they'd stopped for long, passionate kisses and lingering caresses. Dean sat next to her, kissing her as his hands roamed under her sweater.

She pushed his coat off of his shoulders and a moment later Dean dropped it to the floor. Kristine lay back, pulling him with her. She closed her eyes as he kissed her neck, but suddenly he moved away.

"What's wrong?" she asked, her breath coming in gasps.

"I don't want to hurt you."

She smiled and reached for him. "You won't hurt me."

She saw the apprehension on his face and pulled him down, kissing him gently and then with more intensity when she felt him responding to her. It didn't take long for Dean to forget his trepidation and when they were finished, she lay in his arms on the couch, enjoying the feel of his skin against hers. She snuggled under the blanket Dean had found and laid over them.

"Are you scared?" Dean whispered.

"Not at this particular moment."

"In general?"

"Petrified."

"I'll be here."

She traced the outline of the amulet he always wore around his neck. "Do you think the baby will be safe?"

Kristine felt him stiffen.

"Nothing is going to happen to this baby," he promised.

Dean?" she began after a few moments.

"Yeah?"

"Thank you for not asking if I was sure that it's yours."

Dean caressed her arm and kissed her gently.

---

"Does the Ryan estate just circle the whole town?" Dean asked as they walked back to where they'd left the car. "It seems to be walking distance to everywhere."

Kristine smiled. "It borders the north edge, which is what passes for a downtown. It just seems like it's everywhere because you don't go into the more residential areas."

"Have you told anyone other than Lori about the baby?" Dean asked a few minutes later.

"Just Lori. I wanted to tell you first, but I don't plan to take out an ad in the newspaper or anything. I'm an unmarried female and this is a small town in the south."

"Do you think you'll have problems with people in town?"

She sighed. "No; not really. I'd like some more time to get used to the idea myself, though."

Dean nodded.

"It's okay if you want to tell Sam," Kristine said, knowing that's what was really on Dean's mind.

"You're sure?"

"Of course. And maybe Bobby."

"Bobby?"

Kristine avoided his eyes. "He knows a lot about protection and –"

Dean squeezed her hand. "Okay. We'll talk to Bobby."

---

Sam wasn't at the cottage when Dean and Kristine got back and Dean tried to hide his concern. Sam had disappeared on him more than once and it rarely led to anything good. While Kristine went upstairs to shower, Dean settled on the couch and dialed his brother's number.

"Hey," Sam answered on the second ring.

Dean let out his breath. "Hey, where are you?"

"At the main house. It's packed, man. Are you at the cottage?"

"Yeah. Hey, uh, I'm gonna head toward you. I want to talk to you about something."

"Is something wrong?"

Dean hesitated, but found himself smiling. "No. Nothing's wrong, I just….I need to tell you something. I'll be there soon."

After ending the call, Dean walked upstairs. He found Kristine sitting on the edge of her bed, her back to the door. She was drying her hair with a towel and had dressed in sweat pants and a flannel shirt that might have been his. He stood in the doorway and watched her for a few minutes, but she must have felt his eyes on her because she turned toward him and smiled.

"Did you find Sam?"

"He's up at the main house."

"Is that where you're going?"

"Do you mind?"

"Why would I mind?" she tossed the towel on top of the clothes she'd discarded earlier and laid back against the pillows. "I think I'm going to take a nap."

Dean moved into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she grinned mischievously. "Just worn out."

Dean returned the smile, then leaned down to kiss her gently. "I'll be back later, okay?"

She nodded. "Take your time."

---

After Dean got to the main house, the brothers went outside to the large gazebo that had once been used for lavish parties before Kristine's mother died. The house was full of hunters and it was the closest spot where they could get some privacy. The wind had picked up a little since Dean and Kristine had been in the park, but it still wasn't uncomfortably cold.

Dean had seemed perfectly fine when he'd gotten to the house, but once they were outside he'd started to pace and had yet to say a word. There was something about his expression that bothered Sam, but not enough that he was scared. He didn't think his brother's mood had anything to do with the paranormal.

"Okay, Dean," Sam said, his brother's silence finally getting to him. "Dude, you've got to talk to me. What's going on?"

Dean stopped pacing and looked at him. Still, he didn't speak.

"Did something happen? Is Kristine all right?"

Dean ran a hand over his face and took a deep breath. He squared his shoulders like he often did before beginning something difficult or unpleasant. After a moment, he sat down on the bench next to Sam and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped between his knees. It was still several moments before he spoke.

"So, uh, how do you feel about being an uncle?" Dean asked, sounding nervous.

Sam opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out. He wanted to gauge his brother's feelings before responding. If Dean was nervous, Sam needed to appear calm. If he was happy, Sam needed to share in his joy. At the moment, though, he couldn't tell exactly what Dean was feeling.

"How do you feel about being a father?" Sam finally asked.

The word seemed to surprise Dean. He shook his head, almost disbelieving. "I'm not father material, man."

"What are you talking about?"

"Me? Come on. What can I offer a kid?" Dean rubbed his hands together and looked off in the distance. "And what about hunting? How can I do that and help raise a kid? If I don't hunt, what do I do instead? Besides, I'm not going to leave you out there without any back-up."

"Take it one day at a time for now, Dean. Kristine knows you and she knows what you do."

Dean appeared to be doubtful.

"For the record," Sam added. "I think you'll be a great dad."

He looked at Sam. "You do?"

"Sure. I've seen you with kids and, as surprised as I was at first, you're great with them." Sam looked away and shrugged. "But considering what a good big brother you are…."

Dean looked at him, but Sam was still staring straight ahead and didn't see the affection in his brother's eyes. They sat quietly for a few minutes, each lost in his own thoughts.

"You okay with this, Sammy?" Dean asked, his voice low.

"Yeah," Sam said, not really sure that he was being completely honest. "Of course I am. What about you?"

Dean shook his head, but a smile was playing on his lips. "I'm kind of freaked out, but….It's kind of cool, too."

"How does Kristine feel about it?"

"Pretty much the same way. She doesn't want to tell people yet. Other than you and me, only her friend, Lori, knows."

"She was okay with you telling me?"

Dean nodded. "She wants me to talk to Bobby, too. She wants to make sure the baby is protected."

"Has there been anything weird happening? I mean, outside of the normal weird?"

"Not as far as she said. She's just worried." Dean looked off into the distance again. "Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"I know Dad did his best, but…."

Sam knew where Dean was going, but decided his brother needed to say it himself.

"I don't want my kid to grow up the way we did. I want him or her to have a home, go to school….Have friends. And I want to keep the shit we deal with away from the kid for as long as possible."

"Don't keep secrets, Dean," Sam warned, his voice barely above a whisper. He felt a lump in his throat.

Sam watched his brother from the corner of his eye. Dean turned toward him with a mixture of sympathy and something Sam couldn't quite place. Sam knew that Dean was well aware of how he felt about their fathers' secrecy over the years. Sam also knew that Dean understood that was what ended up driving a wedge between him and their father and what led Sam to strike out on his own.

"Sam –"

"I'm okay, Dean, just….Don't keep secrets."

tbc