In my silence I would love to forget
But restitution hasn't come quite yet
And with one accord I keep pushing forth
I stretch my heart to heal some more
It used to be all I'd want to learn
Was wisdom trust and truth
But now all I really want to learn
Is forgiveness for you
As my seasons change I've now grown to know
When one's heart creates, one's soul doesn't owe
So I wash away stains of yesterday
Then tempt my heart with love's display
COLLECTIVE SOUL LYRICS-Forgiveness
"Don't torture yourself. This isn't your fault. A few good beers and a few demon notches on your gun and things will be more clear." Bobby reasoned.
"I appreciate the thought, but I have to know something. Down in that place, things were...were..."
"Had too much time to think." Bobby read Dean's thoughts. Just one look on his friend's face and he knew the fears bubbling just below. "Do you think Sam looks at you differently?"
"I look at me differently. How can he…"
"You know he told that doc all about you. How great his big brother was- selfless, honorable..."
"Sam said that?"
"Sometimes you boys are dense as redwood. Just think about it. Be a shame to self destruct when you have such admiration. Maybe you should wonder why we think so much of you. And it's not just your brother." Bobby stared pointedly at Dean, driving the sentiment that he would stand through this with them.
"Maybe, but I still need answers and I don't know if I want to shar..."
"Then we'll be close when and if you do. Now, get dress you lunkhead. I'll go get release papers rushed."
"Yeah... yeah… I..." He said absently.
"See you in a few..." Bobby nodded with a polite and heart wrenching smile, a bit lost on how to snap Dean out of this funk. Dean had every right to feel a bit like a fish floundering on a sidewalk. "We'll have your back."
As Dean watched his friend leave, he couldn't help feeling he had let both Sam and Bobby down. He was grateful that he had them to lean on, but wasn't equipped to share any kind of pain with anyone. He was the big brother, he still had that...well half of that...if Sam wanted him to be, but things were different.
He changed into the fresh clothes hanging in the hospital closet and swung his necklace over his head until it thumped next to heart. His wallet slid uneasily into his blue jeans, the wad of bills from his pool hustling still brimming over. Maybe Bobby was right, a night of good old fashioned Miller time with the boys would do him some good and he had the funds to make it a blowout.
He rushed out of his room, not waiting for Sam or Bobby to return. He would find them first. One thing about being trapped in a confined area made you crave open spaces and movement. Aimlessly, he moved through the hallways, still cluttered with more survivors- people in need after the tornado had destroyed their lives too. Strange, that his world was destroyed well before the storm hit. He only wished his father would have really been in that crypt to say those words to him. Sam and Bobby would surely think he was delirious. He thought the same after all, but he ached for it to be true. If only his so called adoptive father had really come to him- that would really mean John was his Dad and the man might have really cared.
Without realizing it, Dean walked down the hallway as if he was following a sound that his ears picked up, but his conscious mind wouldn't register. Before he knew it, he was standing in from of the nursery window, looking down at a screaming baby. For the longest time, he stared at her and listened to the horrible injured sound coming from her small ruby lips.
The single nurse inside rushed about, trying to hold the department on her own as other nurses were obviously dealing with the aftermath of destruction. Just then an alarm sounded further down the hallway. Several people scrambled, including the pediatric nurse who popped out of the nursery, sprinted towards the sound, and left the door unguarded.
He knew he shouldn't. There had to be rules about who was allowed in, but he couldn't help himself. Normally, security might have been on him like flies, but the mass level of injuries let cracks in protocols become caverns. No one noticed a broken man going for the nursery door.
Carefully, he opened the door, letting the latch fall away gently. Drifting more than walking, he found his way above the baby he watched just beyond the glass, his finger reaching out as if she were glass herself. He moved one finger over her belly, just like John used to do to him at bedtime. She giggled just like Dean would have and the she grew quiet as if she was inspecting the man comforting her.
The little girl's blonde hair look like it was from the sun with matching eyebrows that faded into her skin almost like a polar bear would blend into the snow. The baby wiggled and kicked her covers off. She kicked her legs again and wiggled her fat little body around to get a better look at Dean.
Her apricot skin, like the color of beach sand, glowed. She flapped her arms, squealed a silly baby giggle, and then gave Dean the biggest toothless smile she could manage.
Dean laughed and smiled back, his self-doubt and pain eased for the moment. He lifted the sweet baby into his arms, giving the child a warm loving hung as he did. He moved back and forth a bit and couldn't take his eyes off of her.
He didn't even notice as Sam passed by the nursery window looking for his missing brother. Sam barely caught Dean in the corner of his eye, but the view made him do a double take and freeze. Just inside his brother was affected by something profoundly and he didn't understand how a baby could cause such a reaction in Dean. He wanted to go to him, but he heard a whisper in his ear. "Leave him be" it whispered. "Dad?" Sam asked, but found no sight of the man who led him back to Dean earlier. For once, Sam didn't argue the order, but kept a close eye on his brother through the glass.
Dean rocked the child in his arms, watching the way her soft mop of hair stood up like uncut grass, which someone tried to restrain with a pink ribbon. She cooed, her mouth looking like it was ready to talk away. Her little legs and toes just waiting to kick, scamper, and crawl around everywhere.
He held her body close to his and enjoyed the warmth and softness of her. The baby cooed, grabbing Dean's large finger and tugging on it happily. Slowly, she nuzzled and drifted to sleep on his forearm. He watched as he slept, kicking her legs as if he was having some wonderful, adventurous dream. How beautiful she was. The most beautiful child Dean had ever seen. He gently stroked her tummy and a tear formed in his eye.
Suddenly, Dean knew what John meant about feeling so small next to the largest gift in the universe that was no bigger than a sack of flour. This wiggling thing contained all the hope he could muster, wondering if one day he would have one of his own. Would he be a good father? Could he do better than the lineage in his veins? How could he be with the evil running in his blood, knowing what his real father was?
"What are you doing with my BABY?" A woman screamed.
"Angela, he's probably with child welfare. You know…"
"No, we can't… we can't…"
"We can't even afford to pay our rent and the car… How can we provide…."
"SCOTT!" Then the woman cried and busted out of the door.
The man turned to Dean apologetically. "Sorry about Angela. She is taking this harder than I thought. Not doing that great myself."
"You're giving her up?"
Scott stumbled. "Yeah……we…..we……We really want her, but her family kicked us out and we have…"
"DO YOU want her?" Dean asked pointedly with a bit of anger.
"Perfect." Dean completed.
"Yeah…" Scott softened. "I just can't give her what she needs… We are two months late on rent, the car needs a new engine and I can't work if I don't fix it and that means the landlord will kick us out and...and...and... and I can't bear for them to take her after all that…." He rambled with emotion.
"Then you have everything she needs. You love her."
"But, I don't know what to do!"
"Hold her….you'll figure it out." Dean shifted the sleeping baby to her father and smiled. When Scott took a breath and held his daughter, it seemed as if the worries melted away. "Here…" Dean offered, digging out his world record pool hustling funds. His face was a mixture of emotions.
"What… I can't … I don't understand…"
"I really don't either. " Dean admitted "Just take it and take care of her."
"I can't repay you."
"Nope… not asking…just make sure she knows she is loved…okay." Dean shoved the money inside the man's tucked arm, knowing he would have to let go of the baby to refuse the cash. "Hey, what's her name?"
Dean softly whipped the soft hair strands in his fingers and smiled. "Goodbye, Amelia."
That's my brother! Sam thought. That's why I always looked up to him. Sam smiled despite a tear rolling out of his eye. At the moment he knew Dean was hurting, but the big brother he always knew would never change. Dean would always be there for others regardless of the cost to himself. That was who Sam loved and who Sam feared was lost by the news of his mother's rape. But, it was as strong as ever, now Sam wanted to find a way for Dean to know that too. "Leave him be." Echoed in his ear again. So Sam pulled back, letting his brother exit without being seen. For the moment, he would allow some room, but he couldn't promise for how long.
The next day…..
The Impala grumbled up the access road until Sam stopped in front of the storage unit. Surprise took Bobby and Sam and they wanted to ask Dean why he wanted to come here. He just piped the order from the backseat without explanation. No explanation came on the drive here and none was offered now. Instead, Dean spoke first. "Stay here. I'll be back." Dean didn't wait for a response, but rushed out.
"Give him time, kiddo. He needs to work this out."
"Do you think it's okay?"
"No, but I don't think the world has been okay since about …hell, it's never been okay. Let's just wait and see."
When Dean slid open the door to his father's- pseudo father's he corrected- storage space, he clutched his jacket a little closer to his body. A look of abject fear on his face, he stepped inside. He had to verify that John wasn't in that tomb. As much as he hoped for it to be true, he feared finding only emptiness.
After a few moments of rummaging, he saw a sight that made his little heart quicken. Dean found his box. It was tattered, just a makeshift drawing on a cardboard box. Yet, it was the tribute of a four year old, who wanted a garage like his Dad's. It was obvious John helped him cut the holes for cars and write the word garage on it, but the art work was definite Dean. He unfolded the flaps and inside he found only a single item- a hard bound book.
The outside was engraved with a quote in gold: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of the deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust, sweat, and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again... because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasm; the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement... and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. -Teddy Roosevelt"
Secretly, he hoped it was a journal on demons, but when he opened it, he found something far more precious. Spilling on the pages were entries in his father's hand, which began the day he left Dean and the events that unfolded after John's time in Jericho-not about demons and omens, but about Sam and about him. He turned the pages of countless entries. Some just lines about how much he missed Dean or why he and Sam didn't get along. Other notes were verbose about things his father would never admit out loud.
His fingers drifted through the dates without thought, already searching to see if his father came to Lawrence and to the faith healer too. Did John really lead him to where he could be healed? His heart clutched and twisted. Then he found the notes. It was all true. Everything that he was told in that tomb was true. His father had come to him when he needed him. He shook with emotion and a tear streamed down his face, which quickly got wiped away.
Flipping through the countless notes, he stopped on the day that he and Sam had faced Meg and her shadow demons, letting his eyes take him to the embrace of his father's love.
Saw my boys today. At first I had no intentions to let them know I was there, but I had to be close to them even if it was only for a minute. As I climbed my way up the fire escape, I told myself I would see that they were well equipped and see that they were being careful, but it was a lie. I wanted to see them so badly, even being where they were an hour ago seemed like a luxury. I knew it would take them a while to clean up after that demon. I had trained them well enough for that. So, I just sank in a chair, staring at the empty beds like I do every night without them.
It's not fair I have to keep them so far from me. This damn demon would kill them in a heartbeat and it knows I'm close. I can't risk them. I can't watch them die like my Mary.
Time slipped from me as I stared at the beds. One-messed up and unmade- had to be Dean's. The other neat and squared away- Sam's. I haven't seen a bed like that since he left. I could almost see them in that place, arguing about something trivial that would drive me crazy. I'd give anything to hear an argument about who gets the decoder ring in the box of cereal.
Before I know it, I hear a growl of sweet music to me. I listened so closely at the rumble of the Impala's engine gearing down and I spun around to glare out the open window. The car was nosing its way out onto the street already. Two heads in the front- my boys. I knew I should leave- just run, but I froze. My gut turned spiky and cold. I stood there waiting, hoping. God knows I didn't want it to happen. I should have gone, but I wasn't sure if I was more afraid of the demon finding them or the boys not loving me and turning me away.
I had left Dean. Period. Nothing to say about it. I left the boy who would follow me out of love to any hellhole. How could I make amends for that? Then, Sam. I was never there and have no thoughts on how to repair that damage. This was hardly the way I wanted it to happen. Things were not going to happen the way I ever wanted them to.
Maybe I should have told Sam I was proud of him for standing his ground and doing what he wants. Maybe I should have told Dean I was proud of him for being there for us. Maybe I should have just told them I loved them, then maybe I would be able to live with myself. Maybe I could sleep without staring at empty beds that should hold my boys.
I know kids grow up and leave home. Some parents were probably pretty happy about it, but most parents don't worry about their kids getting cut open and set on fire. How good of an excuse it that! Hey boys, I'm scared! Just this deep bone dread that if I slip up my boys will die alone in so much pain they couldn't even begin to scream before they were gone. And what if the damn yellow comes back to finish off Sam? How do I tell those boys I am a coward that can't put them near this damn thing?
When I saw them open the door, I expected Sam to yell at me. Expected Dean to be so pissed he'd punched me. And as he approached, I thought he might. He didn't. Just threw his arms around me. His posture screamed of relief that I was okay. He shook in my arms. Not
noticeable to Sam, but I could feel the raw emotion pouring from him. He'll never know how much I needed that reassurance. I could only throw my arms around him and silently promise I would one day make this better.
Haven't felt him shake like that since the nightmares he had after Mary died. I hated feeling so weak feeling my boy tremble violently against me, re-living God only knows what. Watching Dean cope with everything at such a young age had been hard. Watching the anguish of one lost child. He is still my little boy. The kid who wanted us to love him and give him a home. In some ways, maybe he will always be a boy looking for a home and someone to love him. One day I will tell him he always had our love and always will.
Then there's Sam. I waited for Sam to fling bitterness at me. He didn't either. He looked half scared, half relieved. Could I possibly get my boy back? Has the time together with Dean made them love each other again? If it does, than this would all be worth it. I don't even care if we disagree as long as I can be part of his life. But not right now. How can I tell him I need to shut him out because I would die without knowing they were safety?
The night he left, we argued about Dean. Sure, school was a big issue, but he rightfully threw my actions in my face. He hated that Dean was totally different when I made him a soldier. He would change when I wasn't around. His brother was lost behind this façade of the perfect soldier, while the fun, carefree kid vanished so easily. Sam wanted the innocence of their childhood back, but I couldn't give that back.
When I looked at Dean today, I could sense a quiet pleading. He looks at me, begging for us to be a family. It more than broke my heart. He so wants us not to fight. Looking at him I find words to test those waters with Sam. For once there is no hateful word or fight. Sam was in my arms a second later. Damn it. It was the best gift I could ever ask for. My boys, who could hate me for many reasons, still want me for a father. That perhaps is the greatest mystery.
Things turned bad after that. Damn demons always trickier than you think. Leaving them again was harder. They were torn up and beaten, but not broken. I almost threw them both in the car and took off. I wanted to do that so badly to make sure they were patched up and healing, but Dean knew what I needed to hear. Dean always had my back even when I was completely wrong. And I know this is wrong, but I can't see how to fix this. How do you explain a demon needs all your focus?
I waited for them to drive away, but I didn't let them know it. I called to them, knowing they were too far away to protest or hear me, but I needed it so bad. Saying that I loved them would give me strength to go on until one day I can stand alongside of them and make amends for my countless sins. Is my love enough? I hope it will one day be all I need to heal the scars in my two boys. How I ever had two children that grew up to be those fine men is beyond me. I know I have very little to do with it, but they make me so proud.
As I write this, I keep looking at two empty beds in front of me. I can't bear to get a single bed motel room just to make sure I always have a place for them. Just guess I always want to make sure my boys have a place whether they are with me or not. Maybe one day, I'll look out and
find them both resting safely in my keeping again. Maybe one day, they will be able to forgive me for all that I have done.
Dean almost smiled, his laugh line dimples appeared before retreating. His mind and heart wrestled between basking in John's words and being stabbed by them as a million different emotions and expressions painted his face. Tears streamed wetness down his cheek and neck as he finally gave into the turmoil inside of him.
For the longest time, Sam waited, wondering what could be so important in this place. Knowing his brother's pain was so acute was more than enough reason to burn this storage unit to the ground. Whatever the reason for Dean being in his life, no matter if it came from violence or even demonic intentions, Sam was glad. So, as much as he hated what happened to his mother, he couldn't help but feel blessed to have his brother. "I'm going after him."
"Let me. I'd rather he punch me than risk you two going at it. You need each other."
"I can't ask you…"
"Who's askin'?" Bobby stepped out. Briskly, Bobby walked as if getting to Dean was the most urgent mission he had ever untaken. When he reached the open door of the storage unit, sight froze his body to stone. There before his eyes the strongest person Bobby knew cried silently, breaths pushing out harshly and betraying his bottled up inner walls.
Facing away from the door, Dean crumpled on the floor. He was quiet, but the rise of fall of his shoulders foretold the emotional turmoil within him. Shortly, he said one word in a craggy tone. "Dad." Then, he took several deep breaths, trying to calm himself and hide the evidence of this moment. Too much over the past year defeated that attempt as he began to suck in tangle hard breaths.
He heard a cough and when he witnessed a horrific expression on Bobby's face, he crumbled. And there is was. Bobby sprinted to the man before him, who still held the gentle heart of a child he once knew. He didn't speak, but threw his arms around Dean. For the longest time he held Dean to him, letting Dean's breath even out with tears so long overdue. He had held this in for so long and needed reassurances. Now, he understood why Dean asked wanted to do this alone.
Even years after the fact, when Bobby first met up with the Winchesters their pain and devastation was still apparent, like a festering hole had been blasted through their guts. The cesspool inside slowly seeped out mixing with all their pain and grief. He gripped Dean's head stronger as he soothingly tapped the back of the boy's head.
Dean felt empty as he sat frozen, closing his eyes. He was unable to fight it anymore and broke down in a silently tears. The emotions he had bottled up sizzled until they exploded now. The memories race over and over in his mind. He didn't know how much time passed as he squat there. He breathed deeply for a few moments before I he tried to pull away from Bobby.
Momentarily, he noticed Dean regaining composure. Bobby loosened his grip and backed away an inch giving Dean the message he would only let go when Dean was ready. Shortly, the young man pulled away wiping his eyes quickly and brutally on his sleeve. His chest heaved from his strained breathing, his bottom lip quivered, but his jaw jutted out firm and strong. He was trying to put forth a brave front and he took a moment to process everything and get his emotions under control.
Outside, he heard the throaty growl of the Impala like sweet music to his ears. Bobby and Sam were here for him. All the family he had left didn't give up on him. And in a way, neither had the father he had known all his life. For that one moment Dean felt more important than he ever had.
He felt guilty for the thoughts he had had about his family while he had been drowning his emotions. "I'm sorry…." Dean had been emotionally disturbed by the news of his lineage and it left him unstable and alone. It felt like John had abandoned him all over again and took off on some plan that didn't consider how he would feel. But, he was never alone. All this time, John was with him, just like Bobby and Sam. He still wasn't ready to deal with it all, but he did have one spark of hope still left inside of him. He stood and Bobby followed suit.
"It's okay. You more than anyone have the right." Bobby comforted.
In short order, Dean turned, exited the building, said nothing, and got into the backseat of the car, leaving Bobby to follow. When Bobby reached the car, Dean had sprawled in the back; a book grappled in hands and had an appearance of not wanting to talk about anything.
"Dean, are you going to talk to me now?" Sam asked quietly.
Bobby glanced at Sam with a look that says he may still need some time as he jumped in and shut the door.
"You know I will annoy you until you do. Fine art of aggravation…"
"Sam…" He breathed deeply, holding back. His voice became measured and soft. "Sam, I'm asking you this once to please leave it be. I won't ask you ever again. But, I need time for myself. Just leave this one be… just this once." Dean flinched and turned his head so his brother couldn't fully see the emotion playing on his face. "I need this, then we can do whatever you want." Later he would tell them about John and the tomb, but everything was so raw at the moment.
Acquiescing, Sam swallowed hard. "I…. I'm here if you need me."
"I know." Dean said quietly. "Thanks Sam...Bobby..."
His eyes filled with sincerity and love "Anytime bro… anytime you need me. No matter what it is or what's between us- I will be there." Sam promised he would tell Dean everything that happened when he looked for him. How for one time Sam and his Dad had worked together on
one important thing- finding Dean. When Dean was ready Sam would tell him John came to save him and then maybe part of Dean would heal.
"This isn't a one sided thing. Me too." Dean stretched out more.
"Make that a hat-trick." Bobby added, thinking once Dean knew about John leading them to that tomb the boy would open up about things later. There was plenty to work out, but for now they would give Dean the space he asked for.
Turning over the engine, Sam bore his gaze on Bobby and whispered. "Is he okay?"
"He will be…. We'll make sure of it." Bobby promised, whispering back.
Dean curled into himself, holding the book to him. He mouthed a few words to himself. "Thanks, Dad." Then he looked out the window, watching the scenery pass by as Sam pulled away.
Author's note: The final chapter. I'm always sad to see these stories end, but thanks for reading to all of you and I hope you enjoyed the last of the emotional rollercoaster. This story dedicated to Dean (even though he is in hell). Since I work in hell, yeah my office really sucks and is hell. I will keep him safe until next season! On the high side, tourism in hell is way up since he arrived! Book your tour now and 666-666-6669.