Disclaimer: I do not own the characters (or plotlines) of "Supernatural."
Author's Note: Hiya! The end of this chapter alludes to events that took place in "Wendigo" which never actually took place in the Beer 'verse but were referenced in the first chapter of "Unfurl". Heh, you'll know it when you see, uh read it. ;)
As always thank you SO MUCH for your reviews and PM's. They mean a great deal to me. And huge thanks to Lembas7 for beta'ing for me despite her busy schedule. Any remaining error are all mine (since I totally added a chunk after I got it back). Eek. :P
I hope you enjoy!
He just spat it out; that was his way and he was too old to change it so as not to shock their fragile psyches or something. "I had a nice chat with that wife of yours couple days past, Sam."
They were sitting at the table, coffee mugs and bagels in front of them. The morning paper was near Sam, he was flipping through it, not even pretending to read it. A car magazine sat near Dean, though he wasn't even flipping through it. Both were just props so the boys wouldn't have to actually look at each other.
But at Bobby's announcement their heads snapped up so fast Bobby was surprised he didn't hear a cracking sound; would'a been the first sound in four days that wasn't a grunt.
He'd been right. He hadn't made it a full week. He'd made it two days.
And still, only two days and he'd practically suffocated on the tension they were both radiating. An actual week of it and the two of 'em mighta ended up with buckshot in their rear-ends just so he could see a reaction outa of 'em. It turned out that the Winchester boys could do passive-aggressive just as well, if not better, than they did regular aggressive.
"You what?" Sam finally asked, his voice hoarse with disbelief.
Bobby nodded, shifting to hold his coffee mug with both hands. "Got a good head on her shoulders, that girl. Good thing too," he added after a beat.
Sam just blinked at him, missing the barb completely. "You talked to Jess?" he clarified a moment later.
Bobby couldn't stop the eye roll. "You got another wife out there?"
Sam shifted to face him, face contorting in a frown. "How — Why would you — how did you even know -- Where did you get the phone -"
Bobby snorted a laugh; it slipped past before he could stop it. Because, seriously? "Sam, I've tracked down ancient rituals translated from dead languages; you think a phone number in Palo Alto would be a problem?"
"Why did you call her?" Dean intervened. His question was quiet, like most things Dean said these days.
Bobby let the smirk melt off his face, gave Dean all his attention and shrugged as carelessly as he could manage. "Seemed like a family affair goin' on here," he answered.
There was a heavy pause in the air and then Dean spoke.
"Family affair," he repeated; the two words were flat, but anything but neutral.
Bobby practically felt Sam flinch, but the younger boy kept silent.
He didn't. He hardened his voice and met Dean's gaze head on. "That's right."
Dean returned the stare with nothing resembling intensity or focus, just a blank, distant look that hinted at nothing.
"What did you say to her?" Sam asked, interrupting their little staring contest. "What did she say?" His voice was anxious now, the anger gone.
Bobby pulled his eyes from Dean and answered Sam. "She's worried," he began and then paused, not for dramatic effect but because he needed a moment to fortify himself.
He'd done it, called Jessica Winchester, because he couldn't watch these boys self-destruct right on his property, because he was watching them slip away from each other, watching Dean retreat and Sam begin to give up the chase.
Because he couldn't take Dean's blank stare anymore. The boy was disconnecting from them and he'd known enough disconnected hunters to fear that circumstance. He couldn't let John's boy head down that path, couldn't watch what it would do to Sam; he'd had to dosomething, had to provoke something, introduce an element that would mix things up a little— and that was the nature of wives.
He took a quick breath and continued, "She should be here sometime tomorrow, day after at the latest."
The words took a moment to register, then Sam's face flushed with color. "You asked her to come here?"
Bobby nodded. "Invited her, yep."
"You had no right," Sam spat, standing in one fluid motion, eyes flashing with his father's temper.
Bobby took exception to that tone, and glared at the kid. "I invite into my house whoever I damn well please," he retorted, voice level.
Sam shook his head. "No. You had no right. She's my wife and if I'd wanted her to --"
"Good to know you still remember that bit."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"You don't treat your wife the way you've treated that girl! You don't--"
"How the hell would you know?!"
The question stole his breath for a moment, knocked the wind right out of him with images of dark hair and a bright smile he did his best not to dwell on.
But before he could formulate a response, Dean intervened, voice calm and controlled—disconnected. "Bobby's right."
Sam's gaze landed on his brother with the precision and force of a laser beam. "He had no right," Sam repeated.
An empty smirk graced Dean's face. "A family affair," he repeated. "You made her family."
Sam shook his head, "What's going on here—what we're doing, it has nothing to do with Jess. It--"
"What are we doing?" Dean interrupted.
Sam stopped mid-sentence, mouth hanging open. He blinked, apparently at a complete loss.
Dean answered his own question. "I know I'm fixing the Impala, but I'm kinda unclear on what you're doing . . . and as far as I can see, we're not doing anything."
It was harsher, colder, than Bobby had ever seen Dean be with his brother and judging by Sam's continued silence it had shocked the younger boy to his core.
"You should go home with Jess, Sam, when she gets here. You go home with her, see if you can make up the semester, get back on track." Dean finished and pushed his chair back, standing.
He was moving to set the empty mug in the sink and Bobby was drawing in a breath he planned to release on a sigh when Sam snapped.
"You're fucking full of shit, Dean!" he roared, stepping towards his brother angrily.
Dean's entire body stilled and he turned towards Sam slowly, face impassive, silent.
"We are here fucking grieving, you asshole! That's what we're doing here!" Sam growled still moving forward.
Bobby straightened, set his mug down because Dean's face had just rippled; a crack of the ice that revealed a glimpse of darkness.
Sam continued, voice loud and angry. "Our father just died and we are supposed to be GRIEVING! We're supposed to be healing! Not pretending like nothing happened! Not acting like today was any other day, but DEALING with the--"
It happened too fast for Bobby to stop it, almost too fast for him to even see it. One second Sam was yelling and Dean standing by the sink, the next Dean had his little brother by the front of his shirt and shoved up against the wall on the other side of him.
"Shut your mouth," Dean growled, both fists full of Sam's shirt, pressing against his brothers chest.
"Why Dean? Don't wanna hear the truth? The truth is it happened, Dad's dead and not thinking about it doesn't make it go away; doesn't mean it didn't happen—"
"You shut your fuckin' mouth, Sammy, or I swear to god I'm gonna--"
"You're gonna what? What are you gonna do Dean? You haven't done anything! You walk around like a zombie half the time!" Sam's hands came up to wrap around Dean's wrists, before he continued, "So yeah, come on, please even, do something!" He hissed.
The thread of real pleading, of real hope in Sam's voice, underneath the anger and challenge, must have reached Dean.
He backed off as if burned, no less than five steps back from his brother, arms dropping to his sides. His emotions were too real suddenly; anger was easy, but the look on Sam's face wasn't.
He shook his head a little and they watched as he pulled himself back under control. "Did you ever consider that maybe it shouldn't be a we, that maybe I don't want it to be?" he asked Sam.
Sam flinched, even looked a little winded like maybe he hadn't even considered that. "Dean--"
"I don't need you here holding my hand and offering a shoulder to cry on, Sam. I'm doing just fine without -"
Sam's anger returned in a flash. "You bashed HOLES into the Impala, Dean!" He roared.
And Bobby felt himself and tense all over, maybe even break out into a sweat. Because holy hell, didn't Sam get the idea of goddamned boundaries? Not the Impala, never the Impala.
Dean's entire face darkened in a scowl and Sam didn't shut up.
"How the fuck is that 'doing fine'? Huh?" he asked, taking a step towards his brother.
"Yeah well, who the fuck asked you?! I don't need you to be my goddamned keeper, Sam!"
"Because you don't need ANYONE, right?! Not even Dad! That's why you don't need to talk about his death, because you didn't need--"
It wasn't that Bobby didn't see it coming, 'cause he sure as hell did; it was just that he had no way of stopping it from where he was standing.The punch Dean delivered to Sam's jaw was hard and quick; and it had Sam's head swinging to the side, his hand flying to his face.
Bobby moved towards them a second too late, but he pulled Dean backwards away from Sam anyway. Glared holes into the boy, because if his Daddy were alive that's what he'd be doin'.
He opened his mouth to some of that, but something in Dean's face, in the way he was facing Sam, froze the words on Bobby's tongue.
Disbelief and shock at what he'd just done were melting and mixing with stubborn defiance, a tilt to his chin and a dark glint in his eyes almost daring Sam to say something, to yell at him… to hit back.
Bobby wasn't surprised when Sam held his tongue too, wasn't surprised when Sam made no move to strike back.That mix of remorse and defiance, that tilt to his chin, that glint in his eyes made Dean look older than his 27 years, made him look weary-- bruised.
The room was silent for too long. Bobby kept shifting his gaze from one brother to the other, watching as they stared at each other, watching their silent conversation take place.
When Dean finally spoke his voice was thick and his eyes stormy, but they didn't waver from Sam's. "You go home with Jess when she comes, Sam."
But Sam was his father's son, had no freakin' clue when to give up. "Dean, come on man, please… you can't… what are you gonna do? Huh? You--"
Dean tilted his head a little and interrupted, eyes settling, voice steady. "I'm gonna fix the Impala, Sam. And then… then I'm gonna go--" he shrugged one shoulder, the casual action doing nothing to detract from the intensity in his eyes, "Save people, hunt things, you know, the family business."
Bobby didn't know why, but Sam had a physical reaction to those words; face drawing into pinched lines as he pulled in a surprised breath, his eyes going wide.
Those words meant something deeper than what was on the surface to them; those words were heavy with a history just a'tween the two of them and Dean invoking them now stopped Sam in his tracks.
Sam didn't respond, just continued to stare at his big brother with those suddenly child-like eyes, nothing to counter that statement with.
And Dean, Dean wasn't finished yet. He was his Daddy's boy too and he knew when it was time to lay down the law. "And you-" he began in a surprisingly soft tone, "You are gonna go home."