Disclaimer: If I owned them, you seriously think I'd be here, writing fic?
Characters: Dean, Sam, OC.
Spoilers: Everything up to season 3, but nothing specific.
Dean sat in one of the back pews, staring forward, eyes glazed, mind a million miles away. He pulled his jacket tighter against himself. These large places tended to get a little cold and drafty. His eyes wandered to the small table covered with lit candles. Getting up from his seat, Dean walked towards the twinkling lights of the dozens of red candles. He shoved his hands in his pockets and just stared at the hypnotizing flames.
"Can I help you, my son?"
Dean startled. He cursed himself for letting the priest get the drop on him. He turned back to face the man, a smile plastered on his lips.
"Nah, I… I'm good, thanks."
"I've been watching you for a while, my child," the priest said, "You seemed troubled."
The denial was right on Dean's lips, along with a clever quip, but for some reason, he just didn't seem to have it in him to let the words out. His shoulders sagged as he sighed and looked back at the candles.
"I just… I guess I have a lot on my mind," he said.
"As do all people, from time to time," the priest said kindly. He walked over to stand by Dean's side, footsteps echoing in the large space. "Chance has it, you happened upon the right place to be when such a heavy weight burdens you," the priest commented. The twinkle in his eye, his smile and easy manner helped put Dean at ease. Or at least, as much at ease as Dean could ever be in a church. The priest reminded him a little of Pastor Jim.
It was tempting. Talking to Pastor Jim had always been easy for Dean. He shook his head. "No. Thanks, but no thanks."
"Are you sure?" The priest asked, his eyes searching Dean's. Dean wanted to say yes. He was going to, but the word just wouldn't come out of his mouth. The priest smiled at him again. "If it's privacy that you seek, I have the answer to that," he said, gesturing at the confessionals. Dean followed his line of sight and shook his head.
"No, I couldn't."
The priest raised a brow, but didn't say anything.
"I'm not Catholic," Dean said quickly, "I'm not even all that religious."
"All great journeys begin with a small step in the right direction," the priest said and turned away from Dean. "Why don't I let you think about that? Hmm? Should you change your mind, you know where to find me."
Dean watched as the priest walked away, his footsteps echoing. Dean ran a hand over his face again and leaned against the small table. What could it hurt? Talking to the priest, what harm could come of it? He couldn't talk to Sam, not about this. And he couldn't talk to Dad. Well, he could, it was just a little difficult hearing his father's end of the conversation, what with Dad being dead and all. He hesitated a moment longer before his legs carried him to the confessionals.
Dean sat down and closed the curtain. The small window separating the two small booths opened. Dean bit his lower lip.
"I don't really know how to do this," he admitted.
"You've made a good start," the priest told him from the other side. Dean took a deep breath.
"I don't even know where to begin," Dean said, smiling bitterly.
"You're not from around here," the priest noted.
"No," Dean said, "I… My brother and I, we're just passing through."
"On your way home?"
Dean let out a laugh. "Not really," he said. "I don't really have a home. Been a long time since I had one."
"I'm sorry to hear that," the priest said earnestly. Dean nodded.
"So where were you headed? You and your brother?" The priest asked after a moment of silence.
"We have a job, uh, something to take care of back east."
"I see," the priest said. "And your brother, is he well?"
"Sammy? Yeah, he's okay," Dean said, and then smiled. "Well, he's a little bitchy and too emo, but that's just Sam." He added. "Sorry. About the language." He apologized a second later, remembering where he was.
"That's alright, my son," the priest reassured him.
"Sammy, he… He doesn't know I'm here." Dean said softly. "He'd be kinda worried if he did."
"I'm dying," Dean said after a long pause, "I have about four months to live."
"I'm so sorry to hear that," the priest said sincerely. Dean nodded.
"It's alright. I sort of… I don't know, made peace with that. I guess. Maybe."
"You don't sound so sure about that," the priest noted.
"It's just… Look, my whole life, ever since I can remember, it was my job to take care of my brother. And I've done that. I took care of him, I protected him, I gave him everything I had to give…"
"But now you are dying, and you're not going to be there for him anymore," the priest finished.
"Yeah, that part really bugged me at first."
"And it doesn't now?"
Dean shrugged. "It still does. It's just… A while back something happened to my brother. Something bad. And I fixed it." Dean said, "And then, there was this thing my Dad spent his whole life trying to finish, this thing he died before he ever got the chance to finish. And I finished it. I took care of Sammy, and I finished what my Dad had started. And now I'm going to die, yes, but…" Dean took a deep breath, "But it kinda feels like it's right, you know? Like I'm finished, like I served my purpose or something."
The priest was silent for a long moment. "But you're not sure," he said at last. Dean didn't answer. "You want me to tell you if you've served your purpose," the priest went on, and Dean still said nothing. "I'm sorry, my child, but I cannot do that. I am just a man, I cannot begin to fathom the Lord's plan."
"I can tell you that as long as you're still on God's green Earth, that you shouldn't give up. You should keep on fighting. Whatever demons lie in your closet, you can still conquer them if you keep on fighting. You might have the chance to help another human being before you answer the Lord's call to join Him."
Dean smiled. "That almost sounds like something my Dad would have said."
"Your Dad sounds like a smart guy," the priest remarked. "You might find things easier to deal with if you shared them with your brother."
Dean smiled bitterly. "No, I can't do that," he said, "He's… he's Sammy, you know? He's… It's my job to take care of him. I'm supposed to be the strong one, you know? And I'm gonna die in a few months, I can't… I can't go and leave this weight on his shoulders. I need to know I've done everything. That he's okay, that he's gonna be okay. I need to know I can rest now. No matter where I'm gonna end up, I need to know…" He let the sentence hang.
"Have faith, my son," the priest advised, and Dean smiled.
"That's what Sam would say," he said wistfully. "Hey, as long as we're doing this confession thing, I have another thing to confess," Dean said.
"What is it, child?"
"I know who you are, Father Hennessy. I came here looking for you." Dean said.
"And why is that?"
Dean bit his lip again, and took a deep breath. "How far back do you remember, Father?" he asked. Father Hennessy laughed.
"I'm old, but I'm not that old, son."
"Do you remember two weeks ago? At the church bake sale?"
The priest nodded. "It was one of our best sales yet. Of course, Sister Stevens' idea to have a sale in the schoolyard helped our cause," he chuckled.
"Father Hennessy, do you remember a little girl named Haley?" Dean asked.
"Of course. Young Haley. I baptized her myself. Her mother, too. Such a sweet kid. Has the energy of youth. The way she runs around from here to there, never tiring…"
"Father Hennessy, do you remember a car?" Dean pushed.
"A car? What do you mean? There were many cars. The streets are much more dangerous these days. So many cars around, children running into the street without looking. I mean, just the other day, Haley…"
"I think I understand where you're getting at, my son," the priest said somberly. "I didn't quite make it to the other end, did I?"
"No, sir," Dean said softly. "I'm sorry," he added.
"And little Haley?"
"You saved her life, Father. Just a few scrapes and bruises."
"Praise the Lord," the priest said. "Well, what happens now, son?"
"Uh, I'm not so sure," Dean admitted, "Try following the light or something," he suggested. He yelped a moment later, when the priest walked through the wall separating the two booths. Dean's hand reached for the rock salt loaded gun in his pocket. He would have taken the shot, if Father Hennessy didn't look as startled as he was.
"You told me to go toward the light," the priest explained, a confused expression on his face. They stared at each other for a long moment.
"It was coming from here…" the priest explained, and frowned. "From you," he added. Dean raised a brow.
Father Hennessy just stared at Dean for a long moment, before a smile graced his lips. "Well, my son, I guess I can answer your question now," the priest said.
The priest's smile broadened. "You are not done yet, child. The Lord still needs you to stay here; He still has a job for you to do. It is not yet time for you to let go."
Dean blinked, speechless. The priest winked at him.
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," he said, and then flickered a couple of times. The priest's eyes locked onto something just behind Dean, and his smile widened even more. "Oh, there's no question about it, Dean Winchester. You have a great destiny, a great job to do. And it is not finished."
"You wouldn't happen to know what it is, or when I'll be finished, would you?" Dean asked just as the spirit of Father Hennessy faded away. Dean sighed. "Of course."
He slid the curtain back and got out of the confessional. He was already at the church door when his cell rang.
"Dean? Where the hell are you?"
"Chill Sammy. You should see the line here. Some kid's having a birthday or something. You want anything other than your girly salad?" Dean asked as he made his way back to his car, nodding and waving at Father Michaels as he passed him by. Father Michaels nodded back and offered his thanks. Dean nodded again.
"No, just… get here, okay? We still have a long way to cover before we get to Bobby's."
"Relax, Samantha, would you? Sheesh. I could always skip the salad and get you a burger, that should probably speed things up." Dean unlocked the car and hoped Sam didn't hear the creak of the door or the rumble of the engine. "I'll be there in five, hold on to your panties, would ya?" Dean hung up, dropping his cell onto the passenger seat. "All work and no play makes Sammy…" A smirk spread on Dean's lips. He did spot a prank store on his way to the church, not far from the burger place…