Birds, Bees, and Bobby
"Dean, where do babies come from?"
Dean had gotten used to being a one-person reference guide ever since Sam had hit the questions stage. 'What' this and 'why' that all day long it seemed like. Heck, more than all day long. Dean couldn't count the number of times his little brother had poked him awake in the dead of night with some question that his brain had cooked up when he should have been sleeping.
Some of them were easy. "What makes a car go, Dean?"
Others, even if he didn't know, he'd gotten good at finding out the answers to, usually by locating the public library in whatever town they were in. "Dean, why do volcanoes erupt? Where did the pyramids come from? What do worms eat?"
And others he was good at lying his way around. "Where did Dad go this time, Dean? What's he doing?"
This was a question that he hadn't anticipated, even though he guessed he should have. There had been a woman in the grocery store that morning with a baby—one so new that it was still red and all squashed up. Sam had been fascinated, and the woman had smiled and let him take a peek inside the infant carrier. Sam, at the age of six, was still young and cute enough to engender that kind of response in spite of the faintly shabby and unkempt air that surrounded both Winchester boys. (Dean, on the other hand, at ten, was starting to be covertly regarded as a possible budding hoodlum.)
"Dean!" Sam said impatiently.
"What?" Dean said, pretending to be very busy folding and packing their clothes. He actually was busy. They were checking out of the motel in less than an hour, as soon as Dad got back from getting supplies, and Dean needed to have himself and Sam ready to go by then.
Of course, that didn't mean that he hadn't heard the question.
"Where do babies come from?" Sam asked again. "I want to know."
"From…from pregnant women." Hey, it wasn't not true. "Go bring me your socks, okay?"
Sam obediently went to the dresser to do as Dean asked, but Dean knew better than to think that that would distract him from the topic for very long. And he was right. Sam reappeared at his elbow with an armful of socks and his follow-up question.
"Where do the pregnant women get them?"
"Storks," Dean replied promptly. He began wedging the socks into Sam's duffle. Sam needed some new socks, Dean noted. He spotted a few holes, and most of them were starting to unravel badly along the tops.
Sam crawled up onto the bed while Dean was working. His nose was wrinkled—a sign that said that he wasn't buying this. Sam was smart, and, yeah, that was a good thing. But sometimes it was really inconvenient.
"Don't you know?" Sam asked.
"Sure I do." And Dean did. Sort of. Cobbled-together facts from television, elementary school health lessons, and overheard grown-up conversations. You got babies from sex.
But Dean knew that Sam's next question would be, "What's sex?" And while Dean thought he knew pretty well how that worked, he was hazy on a lot of the details.
Movies tended to gloss over that part.
"Then where?" Sam asked, bouncing on his knees.
"Don't jump on the bed, Sammy," Dean said automatically. "Do you want to crack your head open?"
Sam settled down into a cross-legged seat and Dean, to his relief, heard a key turning in the motel room door. Dad was back. Dean could tell it was him and not some motel employee even before the door opened. John Winchester had a certain way of jiggling the key and bumping the door that Dean could recognize even in his sleep. It was a comforting sound, and whenever Dean heard it he felt a certain sense of ease, as if a knot that the hadn't even realized was in his chest had loosened and melted away.
And his arrival—at least for the moment—distracted Sam from his new line of inquiry. He scooted off the bed and ran to meet their dad at the door.
John Winchester was carrying two brown paper packages under one arm. Ammunition, probably. Maybe ritual components or books. Whatever he needed for the new hunt he was setting out on. His free arm easily caught Sam though, scooping him up and flipping him so that Sam's feet were up by John's ear and his head dangling down by John's belt.
Sam giggled. "Daddy, I'm upside down."
"Are you? How did that happen?" John gently dropped Sam back on the bed in a heap and set the packages on the nightstand. "You about done there, Dean?" he asked, ruffling his older son's hair.
"Almost," Dean replied, zipping up Sam's duffle.
"I want us on the road by six. We're going to be late getting in to Bobby's as it is." John went through the pockets of his own bag, checking to make sure that everything was in its proper place. "And we'll have to stop for dinner."
When he traveled alone, John Winchester had a habit of just driving straight through to his destination with little regard for meals, regular or otherwise. With the boys in tow he had to make concessions for things like food and bathroom breaks. It tended to make for much longer car trips. Dean knew it made his dad a little impatient, but he was good at keeping his little brother on task (such as his dinner) and occupied in the car, and that helped.
Fortunately, keeping Sam occupied did not include any talk about babies tonight. A full stomach and a moving car, and his little brother conked out minutes after they left McDonalds, curled up in a nest of blankets in the backseat. Dean spent the next few hours up front with Dad, listening to his father's deep voice name off monsters native to the Dakotas, their habits and their weaknesses until he too nodded off.
It was very late by the time they rolled into Uncle Bobby's salvage yard that night. Dean stumbled along behind his Dad who was carrying a still-sleeping Sam (when Sam was asleep, nothing woke him up--not MacArthur's barking, or being lifted out of the back of the car, or the bright porch light). Dean was awake enough smile a greeting at Uncle Bobby who patted his head in passing, but not much else. His heavy eyes followed his father's heels up the stairs and into what had become, over the years, his and Sam's regular room. Dean curled up on his bed by the door while John settled Sam into the other. The last thing he registered before sleep caught up with him again was his dad smothering a massive yawn and trying to ease the stiffness out of his shoulders.
By the time he woke up the next morning, John Winchester had left on the hunt.
Bobby Singer had never really given much thought to the idea of having kids. Oh, once upon a time, way back when, maybe. But so long ago that it might as well have been in another lifetime. Up until he had crossed paths with John Winchester he had barely spent any time at all around children.
Now he could count on having two of them underfoot every handful of weeks or so. Bobby was a man who had gotten very used to solitude and quiet over the years, so even he had been surprised to find that he hadn't minded it once he had gotten used to it. John's boys were good kids. Well behaved, minded their manners. Dean did most of the work looking after Sam (he was pretty territorial about it, to tell the truth). And, if you pushed him, Bobby would admit that he liked the company.
Besides, not that he was going to tell another man how to raise his kids, but it sat better with Bobby to have Sam and Dean in his house than to think about them staying alone in a motel room somewhere for days on end while John was on a hunt.
And he had grown oddly accustomed to mornings like this. Breakfast was done and the second pot of coffee was percolating out in the kitchen. Bobby was sitting at the dining room table cataloging some new amulets. Out in the living room, the background drone of some cartoon was overlaid with the sound of Sam and Dean talking. Bobby had put the boys to work dusting and sorting books. He knew John expected the boys to help him out with chores in return for what Bobby was still loath to think of as babysitting services. But Bobby kept the jobs light and always slipped a few bucks into the boys' duffels for the work that they had done.
Sam and Dean seemed to be having an animated discussion about something, but Bobby was only listening with half an ear—not enough to hear what they were really talking about. So it startled him slightly when he heard, "Uncle Bobby?" from the doorway.
Dean was standing there. And he looked…nervous. Which was different. Dean was normally a pretty self contained kid. "Yeah Dean? What's wrong?" Bobby hadn't heard anything break out in the living room.
Dean shifted uncomfortably for a moment. "Um…Sammy has a question," he finally said, stepping aside to reveal his little brother who had been standing behind him.
Bobby laid down his ballpoint pen. "Sam?" he asked, wondering what the hell this was all about.
Sam looked about as belligerent as it was possible for a mop-haired six year old to look. In other words, not much. But enough to get across that he was being very serious.
"Uncle Bobby, where do babies come from?"
And that just went to show that an old dog like Bobby Singer could still be caught off guard after all.
"Excuse me?" was all he could immediately think of to say.
"Where do babies come from?" Sam repeated. "I don't know. And Dean doesn't know either."
"I know," Dean corrected him quickly (though his blush had nearly eclipsed his freckles). "I just….I mean it's really…..complicated. Right, Uncle Bobby?"
"Dean says that they come from pregnant women, but he doesn't know how they get that way," Sam added helpfully.
"I know," Dean said again, face glowing like a stop light.
Bobby's eyebrows went up so high that his hat brim lifted by an inch or two. "Well, what…ah…what did your dad tell you?" he asked, shamelessly stalling for time.
"Nothing," Dean admitted reluctantly.
That honestly didn't surprise Bobby too much. John Winchester was a practical man, but Bobby didn't see him setting time aside to sit his boys down and discuss the birds and bees, or whatever it was the parenting experts said you were supposed to do these days. It probably hadn't occurred to him that he needed to. John had a pretty one-track mind, and that track didn't run toward long heart-to-heart talks with his kids.
And the fact was that Bobby wasn't sure if John would do it even if Bobby out and out told him that his sons were asking questions. He probably figured there was plenty of time to worry about it. And then it was likely to be a crash course on how not to get a girl into trouble.
Which seemed to put Bobby pretty squarely in the hot seat.
I did not sign on for this. But what was he supposed to do? Brush it off and let them muddle it out for themselves? Bobby was not a man who appreciated or encouraged ignorance.
As the silence stretched on, Sam looked back at Dean, and then to Bobby again. "Don't you know either?" he asked.
If Bobby's lips twitched, his mustache did a pretty good job of hiding it. "Dean?" he said.
Bobby set aside his work. "Why don't you get us some Cokes out of the fridge." He resisted the temptation to ask for a beer. "And I guess we'll have a talk."
John Winchester, you owe me.
Bobby's mother's old mantle clocked ticked loudly in the quiet dining room.
"Well? Do you boys have any questions?" Bobby asked.
Sam was still processing this new and interesting information. Bobby could practically hear the little gears turning in his head. "Is that where I came from?" he asked.
"Yep," Bobby replied. "You and your brother and your dad and me. And every other person you meet. We all got started the same way."
Sam thought that over a moment longer. "Okay," he then said cheerfully. "Thanks, Uncle Bobby." Satisfied to have gotten his answer, Sam tripped out to the kitchen to drop his empty Coke bottle into the trash.
Dean remained at the table. "Dean? Did you have any questions?" Bobby asked quietly. Bobby had forgotten, until he'd gotten acquainted with the Winchesters, exactly how fast kids shot up. Before he knew it, this was going to be more than an academic subject for Dean.
"No," Dean said. "I don't think so," he added uncertainly.
"Well," Bobby said, "if you find that you do, ask. It's always better to know stuff than not to."
That had always been Bobby's philosophy when it came to hunting. He reckoned that it worked pretty well for just about everything else too.
Dean nodded as Sam came back from the kitchen and wormed his way under his big brother's arm. Dean hooked his arm around Sam's neck and gave him a squeeze. Bobby couldn't help but smile.
"All right. You boys finish up with those books, and then we need to go into town. I need gas and we need to go to the store. Be thinking about what you want for dinner."
"Okay," Dean said, getting up (Coke bottle in one hand and a giggling Sam's head still trapped in the crook of his other arm). "We'll be done pretty soon."
"Hey Dean?" Bobby heard Sam say as the two boys moved back into the living room. "I have a question."
"What's Coke made out of?"
"Well, look. It tells us right here on the bottle. See?"
Bobby chuckled and shook his head, going back to his work as the conversation faded into the background. Those boys would figure things out. And if they occasionally needed some help over the tough and confusing parts, he supposed he'd be there to provide it.