Not such a long wait this time. But I'm sure you won't mind that ;-).
I'll leave you to guess when exactly this chapter is taking place.
Chapter 10 – You're a Son, and an Orphan
Dean heard the door open and close behind him, but didn't turn around to look who had just entered. He already knew. Instead, he kept his eyes on the display in front of him, staring sightlessly. He had been here often before, reluctantly or straight against his will in most cases, and in all honesty he couldn't say why he had come here now. But Sam was sleeping, safe and sound, and he had simply needed to get out of the room, away from it all, even if only for a few minutes.
There were steps approaching him now, only confirming Dean's assumptions about the person who was here with him. Not bothering to be silent, it were the firm steps of somebody who belonged here, much more than Dean ever would. The steps halted beside him, and for a few seconds absolute silence settled in the spacious room. Then there was movement, the rustling of clothes as the newcomer slid into the seat beside Dean.
Still, Dean didn't turn to look at the man, instead he kept on looking straight ahead.
This place had never made any sense to him, not in the way it did to other people, but maybe he hadn't looked hard enough. It seemed to give so much to so many people, there had to be something to it. Or maybe something was wrong with him, that he just couldn't see what all the other people did.
"I didn't think I'd find you here."
Dean shrugged awkwardly, still not meeting the other man's eyes. By the time the door had opened behind him, it had been too late to hide, or try and get away. But just that his late-night excursion here had been discovered didn't mean he wanted to talk about his reasons for coming here.
There was a sigh to Dean's right and the sound of shifting as Dean's companion tried to find a comfortable position in his seat. When he spoke again, his voice told Dean that the man was no longer looking at him, but had joined Dean in looking ahead.
"I often come here when I need to think, or when I get the feeling that everything is becoming too much for me to bear."
Dean didn't know what to say to that, so he settled on giving another half-hearted shrug. But his silence didn't seem to discourage the other man, much less make him understand that Dean had come here to seek solitude, or maybe answers.
"I always had the impression that you only come here when I ask you to, and only because I asked you to."
Which was the truth, Dean had to admit. But he had been taught enough respect for the older man so that he would never admit to that. But today it hadn't been so. Today he hadn't just come here because it had been asked of him, today he had come here in search of something that others seemed to find here.
"I thought that maybe…you always say that this is where you find your answers."
Finally, Dean turned to the side and looked up to the man who was sitting beside him. He didn't know what kind of reaction he had expected to see in the priest's face, but nothing in Pastor Jim's expression suggested that he was belittling Dean's choice of location, or his reasons for coming here. Clear blue eyes held Dean's gaze for a long moment, then the man turned back towards the front of the church and cast his eyes towards the cross on the wall behind the altar.
Dean had been staring at the simple wooden cross for over an hour now, and he thought that by now he knew every groove in the wood, every grain and texture. But watching Pastor Jim as he looked at the cross, Dean couldn't help but wonder if Jim was seeing the same thing he had been seeing. Somehow, he doubted it.
After a long moment, Jim tore his eyes away from the cross and looked back at Dean.
"Yes, it is. But you know Dean, the answer is only one part of it, and maybe not even the most important one."
"Yeah? Then what is the other part?"
"The question. If you're seeking an answer, it highly depends on what question you're asking."
Dean huffed at that. The pastor had a habit of speaking in riddles instead of just giving a straight answer. Sam seemed to get a kick out of that habit whenever they came to visit, but Dean always preferred the straight answer over the enigmatic one.
Jim drew a deep breath and folded his hands in his lap.
"When I find myself struggling with something, I come here because no matter what is happening, this is a place where I can find rest, and enough calm to think."
"And then you find your answers."
A small smile stole across the priest's features, but it was not a condescending one. Jim's eyes followed Deans that were once more glued to the cross behind the altar.
"I'm afraid that it isn't as easy as that, son."
Dean didn't let anybody call him son other than his father. But Pastor Jim wasn't just anybody. Aside from Sam and his Dad, Caleb and Bobby, the pastor was the only thing resembling family that Dean had. And contrary to countless motel clerks, diner cooks and other people they met, the word seemed to hold a different meaning when Pastor Jim used it. It seemed to encompass a lot more than just a way to address a child whose name you didn't know.
Dean sighed at Jim's words, and the priest chuckled and put a hand on Dean's shoulder, squeezing gently.
"Even here, answers don't just come to you. I'd be glad if they did, then I wouldn't have to worry about my diminishing flock. This church, it can only be a place for you to find your answers. I cannot give them to you. Every answer you find, every resolution you come to and every decision you make, it always comes from here."
He shifted his hand from Dean's shoulder to pat against his chest once, lightly, then he folded his hands in his lap again. But Dean still didn't understand what the priest was trying to tell him. If anything, it all made even less sense now than it had before.
"So if it's not God giving you those answers but yourself, why do you still come here?"
Jim smiled wistfully and let his eyes roam around the church. His entire posture seemed to relax a little as he did, body leaning back comfortably against the hard wood of the pew.
"Just because God doesn't speak his answers directly into my ear doesn't mean that there is no reason to have faith, Dean. It's my faith that guides my actions and my decisions, it's my firm belief in God that shapes the person I am. Without my faith, my whole life and everything that I am and do would be different. There is a difference between God speaking to you, and God being in your heart, thoughts and actions with everything that you do. But that doesn't make it worth any less."
Dean shook his head, not willing to follow the older man's train of thought right now. Everything Jim said seemed to make things only more complicated. But Jim didn't seem to mind. Instead, he cast another sideward glance at Dean.
"So, what was the question you came here to seek answers for?"
Dean shifted uncomfortably on the hard wooden pew.
"I just…I thought that if…you know. If there is a God, then why does he let all this happen?"
The priest chuckled, and for a moment Dean felt offended. He wouldn't have openly admitted these thoughts to anybody. Maybe not even to his own father, and he didn't appreciate being laughed at. But before he could say anything, Jim stopped smiling and smoothed out the wrinkles in his trousers as he contemplated his next words for a few seconds.
"I see you're not stopping at the easy questions and go straight for the difficult ones."
"Forget it. It was stupid…"
"No son, it wasn't. Seeking answers is never stupid. It means that you question things, that you don't take everything at face value. But there is a difference between seeking guidance in making a decision, and asking for answers to some of the biggest questions known to mankind."
"But…how can you still believe if you don't even have proof that God is real?"
Jim smiled and squeezed Dean's shoulder again, but this time Dean shrugged away from the contact. He wanted answers, real answers, and not being shushed like a small child. The pastor sighed and shifted slightly in his seat, turning even more towards Dean.
"Because I'd rather believe in God's existence without having any proof, than live with knowing for a fact that he doesn't exist. Faith can be one of the most powerful forces that drives us, son. And there will come a time when you will understand that faith doesn't always need definite answers. It needs the belief in the existence of definite answers, and that there is someone powerful watching out for us."
Dean wanted to believe those words, but he didn't have to look deep inside of himself to know that he couldn't. Not after all he had seen, and everything that had happened, and could have happened.
"Sammy could have died today."
Jim nodded. "Yes, he could have died. But he didn't. And last I checked, he was sleeping peacefully in his bed."
"You don't understand it, Pastor Jim. That thing could have killed Sammy, and I couldn't do anything to stop it. If Dad hadn't come back when he did, Sam would be dead."
"But Samuel is still alive, Dean. That should be the most important thing, shouldn't it?"
Dean shook his head again, desperately searching for a way to make the pastor understand.
"I couldn't protect him, Pastor Jim. He's six years old, he's only a little kid. I should have paid better attention, I shouldn't have left him alone. Dad trusted me to watch out for him, and I didn't."
Jim didn't say anything for a long moment, his gaze returning to the wooden cross behind the altar. Finally, he drew a deep breath.
"You're forgetting that you are only ten years old yourself, Dean. And no matter how hard we try, sometimes no matter what we do, it isn't enough to protect the ones we love. No matter how old we are, no matter how strong we are."
Dean shook his head. "I have to watch out for Sammy. I'm his big brother, it's my job to protect him."
Jim nodded. "Yes, and from what I can tell, you are doing a great job of it."
"No. If I really did, that thing wouldn't have gotten to him."
"But in the end, you and John both protected Samuel from that creature. And I had no doubt that if John hadn't returned when he did, you would have found a way to protect your brother by yourself."
Dean awkwardly shrugged his shoulders.
"Dad doesn't think so. I disobeyed his orders and Sammy got hurt. He can't trust me anymore. He won't even look at me."
Jim kneaded his hands for a long moment, staring down at them with his brows furrowed deep in thought. When he finally spoke, his voice had a sad undertone to it, as if he was anguished about the fact that he had to say those words out loud.
"If your father reacted harshly, then only because he was scared."
Dean shook his head emphatically, scooting away a little from the pastor beside him.
"Dad doesn't get scared."
"I'm afraid that everybody gets scared, Dean. Even people as brave as your father. And if there is one thing that's sure to make him scared, it's the thought of losing either of you. That Samuel nearly got hurt scared your father because he wasn't there to protect him. John has already lost too much in his life, he couldn't stand to lose anybody else."
And Dean understood. "Like he lost Mom."
Dean's voice caught at the word, and he quickly turned away so that the priest wouldn't see how his eyes misted over. Just thinking about his mother made a lump form in his throat that kept him from saying anything else.
Jim nodded with a sigh. "Yes."
Dean shifted uncomfortably on the pew, kicking his legs back and forth and watching his feet swing by. Normally, Pastor Jim would have admonished him for that kind of behaviour in church, but right now he simply watched as Dean swung his legs, mulling things over in his head.
Returning to their motel room to find that creature ready and willing to suck the life out of his little brother was a thought that still left Dean shaking. He didn't remember ever feeling so scared before, and what was even worse was that he had been shocked into motionlessness, not doing anything to help Sam even though he had held the shotgun in his hands.
His whole life he had been taught to watch out for his brother, and the one time when it had really counted, when Sam's life had been in his hands, he hadn't been able to do anything. No wonder that his father didn't want to look at him. He needed to be able to trust Dean with Sam so that he had his head clear for the hunt. And if he couldn't trust Dean to do this, he couldn't keep on hunting. It was really not surprising that his father couldn't stand to look at him right now.
And those were thoughts that Dean normally wouldn't share with anybody. Not Sam, and definitely not his father. But there was something about Pastor Jim, something that encouraged trust and made Dean say even those things that he'd normally keep to himself. Pastor Jim wasn't one to reprimand, and he always listened patiently, and with a sense of understanding that Dean often missed in his father.
"Sometimes I think that it would be easier for Dad if he didn't have to worry about us all the time."
Pastor Jim's movement when he turned around was fast, and the hand that settled on Dean's shoulder was gentle but firm.
"Don't say that, Dean."
"But it's true. Dad has to think about the hunt, he can't worry about us."
Jim sighed and withdrew his hand from Dean's shoulder to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"Your father will always worry about your brother and you. It's what fathers do, and nothing is ever going to change that."
"But that's what I mean. If he didn't have to watch out for us, make sure that we're safe while he's on a hunt, it would all be easier for him."
Jim shook his head. "So what are you trying to say? That it would be easier if your father left Sam and you behind somewhere? Or if you weren't there at all?"
Dean shrugged awkwardly. He had no idea what exactly he meant, he simply knew that it would be easier for his father to handle everything if he could be sure that his sons were somewhere safe. Dean didn't know where exactly that could be, but probably somewhere where someone else was watching over them. Someone who did a better job of it than Dean had.
Jim was watching him for a while, his face carefully blank but his eyes shining with affection. Dean knew that Pastor Jim would never lie to him. The man didn't have it in him to tell downright lies, and was always telling Sam and Dean about the importance of telling the truth. And if there was anything Pastor Jim was about, then it was to practice what he preached.
"Life is all about choices, Dean. Sometimes those choices are clear, and sometimes it takes a lot more thinking to figure out which is the right choice to make. And unfortunately, the right choices aren't always the easy ones."
Jim wrung his hands, hesitating to breach the next subject.
"When your mother died, your father learned that there was evil in this world beyond what he had imagined possible. And as he learned about that, he was faced with a choice, one that set the further path for him and his children. Your father could have walked away from it all after that, Dean. He could have told himself that it hadn't been real, that your mother had died in an accident and he had simply imagined the rest. He could have raised Sam and you into a normal life. It would have been the easy choice, the safest one. But your father chose not to look away from the things that happen in the dark. It takes a lot of courage and strength to make such a decision, son."
"But maybe it would have been better if he had made a different choice. Then he wouldn't have to worry all the time, and Sammy would be safe."
"Not all the choices your father ever made were right. Nobody can claim that they only ever made the right decision. But not looking away from the evil that killed your mother is a decision that took a lot of strength and devotion from your father. And yes, it changed both his life as well as that of you and your brother. But it also changed the life of countless people whom your father helped over the years. Lives that might have been lost if he had decided to walk away from it all those years ago."
The priest smiled affectionately down at Dean, and somehow that small gesture helped to make Dean feel better.
"I know for a fact that there is one thing that your father falls back on when he asks himself if he made the right choice, and if it was worth it. And that is Samuel and you. The two of you are the reason why he is doing what he's doing. And he needs the two of you to remind him that there is something worth fighting for. Without you, your father wouldn't have as much to fight for as he has now. It's the love for you that keeps driving him on, so never for one moment doubt that your father loves you, or think that he would be better off without you."
"I…I just don't know, Pastor Jim. I don't know what to think anymore. I just don't want Sammy to get hurt ever again."
Jim's hand tightened on Dean's shoulder, and the boy struggled hard to swallow against the lump in his throat. He wasn't going to start crying like a little child now, not in front of the priest.
"We can always only do our best to stop our loved ones from getting hurt, Dean. Like you do every day for Samuel, like your father does for you. Sometimes, the evil that is trying to hurt us is simply stronger and there is nothing we can do to stop it. The evil that touched your family took a lot of things away from you, but it didn't take everything. It took your mother, but nothing can ever take away that you are a son. A son she loved very much, and one that would make her very proud. A son that makes his father very proud. And you are a brother, one who would do anything in his power to protect his little brother. That is something no evil in this world can ever take away from you, not for as long as you hold on to it. And no matter how difficult your family's life is, that is something very precious."
Dean shook his head again. "But why us, Pastor Jim? Why do we have do all this and not somebody else? Why can't some body else give up their normal life to go and fight all these things? I just don't understand why it has to be us, and if there is a God, why he hates our family so much that he lets that happen to us."
Jim fell silent for a long moment, then he suddenly got up from his seat on the pew. For a moment, Dean thought that his last words had angered the priest, that he was going to leave now or worse, throw Sam and him out. But Jim merely smiled at Dean and stretched out his hand.
"Come with me. There's something I want to show you."
Dean hesitated for a split second, then he took the offered hand and allowed the priest to pull him to his feet and out of the pew. Jim was walking towards the door behind the altar, and down the stairs that led to the basement of the church. Dean had been here before during some of their previous visits. The stairs led into a small room where Jim prepared his services, but Dean knew about the other things that were hidden here, as well. Jim himself had shown him the weapon's cache behind the wall panel.
"Why are we here? I already know that this is where you hide your weapons. You've shown me before."
Jim smiled. "I know that. I might be older than your father, but I'm not quite that forgetful yet."
Jim chuckled and pulled something out from underneath his shirt. There was a small key hanging on a chain around his neck, and as Dean watched the older man slid the chain up over his head.
"A key?" Dean asked somewhat incredulously. Jim only smiled.
"Yes, a key. And, as it goes in most cases, a key makes only sense if there is a lock to fit it into."
The priest walked to the far off wall, but Dean didn't know what the man could want there with a key. There was only one way out of this room, and that was the stairs leading back up into the church. The only other door in the room led into a small supply closet, and Dean had been in there often enough, helping Jim prepare one thing or another for the service, to know that it wasn't leading anywhere. Yet this door was exactly the one Pastor Jim opened. Seeing the confused and disbelieving look on Dean's face, amusement showed in the priest's expression and he chuckled softly.
"Trust me on this, son. What I'm going to show you is a secret. And it weren't a secret if it wasn't hidden, right?"
"But if it's a secret, how come you know about it?"
Jim laughed. "Well, who can be trusted better to keep a secret than a priest?"
He opened the closet and pulled out the broom, mop and bucket that were standing in it. Dean stepped up behind the priest, trying to figure out what Jim could possibly want in here. Aside from the cleaning supplies, the closet only held additional candles for the church, the different cloths for decoration of the altar, and some other random things that were needed in the running of a church throughout the year. Maybe there was a box somewhere hidden inside here that Jim was going to pull out.
But Jim didn't reach for anything in the shelves that lines both sides of the closet. Instead, he stepped up to the back of the closet, and with the key in his hand reached towards the back of the one single shelf board that was fixed there, at Jim's eye level.
Eyes wide in amazement Dean watched as Jim fumbled around the back of the shelf for a moment, until he heard the audible click of a lock disengaging, and upon Jim's push the back wall of the closet slid away, revealing a staircase leading even further down.
Dean gasped, and he was fairly sure that his mouth was hanging open. He would have never suspected the supply closed to be anything else than what it appeared to be. This was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, only that there were no cobwebs here or any other signs of centuries of neglect. In fact, both the closet as well as the staircase behind appeared clean and well-used, not at all as if nobody ever opened that hidden door and went down the stairs.
"What is this?" Dean asked in amazement.
Jim only smiled, a sparkle of excitement in his eyes. "Let's go take a look. Come with me."
Dean had no idea what was expecting him at the bottom of this staircase, and living on the road with his father for so long had taught him to be cautious about what was lurking at the end of a dark subterranean staircase. Had it been anybody else but Pastor Jim showing him this hidden room, Dean wouldn't have gone with him. But it was Pastor Jim, and Dean trusted the man. More so, he knew that his father trusted him. Jim would never do anything to hurt either Sam or him.
So when Jim hit a light switch on the wall and started to descend the staircase, Dean followed the man.
"I didn't even know that there was another basement beneath the church."
They reached the bottom of the stairs and Jim unlocked another door with the same key that he wore around his neck.
"Only a few selected people do. The best way to keep a secret is to tell as few people as possible about it. Now come on in."
He opened the door and hit another light switch, illuminating the room behind it from two bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Dean gasped. The room was larger than the first basement where Pastor Jim hid his weapons, and on three of the walls large shelves were lining the room. Two rooms were taken up by wooden boxes, all covered in symbols Dean had never seen in his entire life. The third shelf was filled with books, old leather-bound volumes with yellowed pages that looked older than even some of the texts that his father sometimes used for research.
"What is this place?"
Dean didn't know why he was whispering. He didn't even whisper up in the church, a place where loud talking was discouraged by most of the parishioners who came there to pray. But something about this room struck a chord in Dean, and he had the feeling that the reason why this room was kept a secret was something that would be easier for him to understand than the elusive quest for answers up in the church.
"Those few who know about its existence call it the vault. Come on in, son."
Dean stepped over the threshold, but stopped when he saw the symbols drawn on the floor. "What is that?"
"Just step over it, my boy. It's nothing that could possibly harm you. The church is standing on hallowed ground. And that is enough to keep a lot of evil away. But the things that are kept here, they can never be allowed to fall back into the hands of the dark things they were taken away from. These symbols are meant to keep out the evil that wouldn't be stopped by hallowed ground alone. They're on the ground, and on the walls, outside in the staircase. Some even are in the supply closet upstairs. They make sure that nothing inhuman, nothing from beyond this world, can ever enter here."
Dean nodded, slowly and carefully stepping over the symbols outlined on the ground. He half expected to walk into an invisible wall, that some thing he had done when nobody had been watching disqualified him from entering this room. He knew he had done a couple of things that weren't right, and he had helped his Dad do things that went against the law.
But whatever sins he had committed, nothing stopped him as he crossed the symbols and stepped up to Pastor Jim. The priest looked at him with a smile, then he gestured towards the shelves against the walls.
"People like your father, hunters, they don't only hunt evil creatures and kill them. Sometimes, a hunt involves a cursed object, something that can cause great harm if it falls into the wrong hands. Some of these things can be destroyed, but those that can't need to be put away where they can never fall into the wrong hands again."
Dean looked at the wooden boxes with the intricate carvings on their sides and lids, and wondered what was inside them. He took a half step towards the nearest shelf, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
"The wrong hands can also be inexperienced hands, Dean. And some of these boxes should never be opened again at all because of what they can unleash."
Dean nodded, stepping back and feeling slightly chastised for his curiosity. He quickly turned towards the third wall.
"And what about those books? Are they spell books?"
Jim turned towards the shelf and ran his hand along the spines of the books on one shelf.
"Some of them. Others are ancient texts on evil, and some can raise things darker than you'll ever imagine just by reading them out loud. That should tell you why nothing in this room can ever fall into the wrong hands again."
Dean nodded, still slightly awed by the magnitude of what the priest was showing him. But still there was one thing Dean didn't understand.
"Why did you bring me here? Why show me this if it's a secret?"
Jim smiled down at Dean. "Nothing speaks against sharing a secret with someone you trust to keep it. But the reason why I brought you here is another. Everything here, every single item in this room, was found by hunters during their hunts. And they brought them here, where they would be safely locked away. I have gathered quite a reputation for knowing how to deal with cursed objects, so even hunters who don't know about the existence of the vault bring me things they discovered to determine if they can be destroyed or not. If I can't destroy them, I bring them here to make sure that they'll never be used again. And a number of things in those boxes were brought here by your father, Dean."
Jim smiled. "Yes, by your father."
Dean took another small step closer to the shelves, but this time not with the intention to touch. Instead, he stared at the boxes with a newfound excitement, as if something in their looks could tell him which of those boxes contained something his father had found, and what was possibly in it. He didn't remember his father ever mentioning cursed objects, or any other dangerous things that he brought to Pastor Jim for safekeeping.
But there were a lot of things his father didn't tell him, Dean was aware of that. And aside from today, his father had never told him specific reasons for any of their visits to the priest.
Jim let Dean take a good long look at the boxes on the shelves, watching silently as the boy walked up and down, always careful to keep his distance to the boxes, but never letting his eyes stray from the items lining the shelves. When Dean finally turned to face the priest again, Jim was smiling at him.
"The reason I am showing you this is to make you understand something. Every object in this room, every one of those books, could have caused great harm if they hadn't been brought here. People could have been hurt, or died, creatures and demons could have been unleashed and summoned, given powers too strong for even the best hunters to fight them. Every hunter who risked his life to secure one of those objects and bring them here saved many other lives. Your father saved countless lives, and continues to do so every day he decides to go on another hunt. This here is just a small testament to how many people's lives he has touched over the past years. There are many more he helped and saved. And he does all that because all those years ago he decided not to look away. And because he hopes that his efforts will give Samuel and you a safer world to live in."
Dean couldn't have said why the breath caught in his throat at those words. He had never thought about what his father did in those terms. What Jim said seemed so different from what he experienced every day. The motel rooms, the constant moving, the wait for Dad to come back from yet another hunt, it all blended into each other after a while. Dean had certainly never once thought of it the way Pastor Jim had just put it into words. Of course his Dad helped people with what he was doing, but…well, it was just what they did. To be honest, Dean had never thought about the what ifs that would have been if his father didn't do the job that he did.
"So you think it's all worth it?"
Jim put his hand on Dean's shoulder again and crouched down slightly so that he was on eye level with him. Not for the first time Dean had the impression that those piercing blue eyes were looking right into his heart and mind, figuring out his thoughts without him ever needing to say them aloud.
"Nothing in this world can ever bring your mother back Dean. Nothing that ever happens will ever justify her death, or what it did to your family. That is a sad fact, but unfortunately it is true. But doing what he is doing, your father protects the lives of others. Other mothers. Other fathers, and their children. It doesn't mean your hurt is worth any less. But all those lives that were saved thanks to what your father does, all the evil that he prevented from happening, when I look at all that, I cannot see your father's decision to become a hunter as a wrong decision. A difficult one, yes. And one that has an impact on both your brother or you. But one day, you will understand the right decisions are always the hardest."
Dean nodded, but his mind was still working hard to process all the priest had told him, and the underlying things that hadn't been spoken out loud. Jim cast another long look around the room, tracing boxes and books with his eyes as if trying to remember what was in them, and how they had come to be here.
"I'm afraid none of this can answer your question, Dean. Bad things happen to good people. And despite my faith, I have no proof of God's existence. But holy water repels demons, and hallowed ground stops them from entering. People like your father give so much of themselves to stop evil from harming even more innocent souls. It might not prove God's existence, but it proves that there is still good in this world. And that is what helps me keep my faith. Because it means that there is something left fighting for, no matter how dark the world seems. It might not be the answer you were looking for, but I'm afraid it's the only answer I can give. If you can't have faith in God, have faith in the good that is left in this world. Because if there is one thing that I've learned after decades of looking for answers, then it's that we all need something to have faith in."
Dean nodded, even though he wasn't sure he really understood yet what Pastor Jim was trying to tell him. But he allowed the priest to steer him towards the door leading to the staircase with a gentle pressure against his shoulder.
"It's already late, Dean. Samuel has been sleeping for hours, and after the day you had you should try to get some sleep, as well."
Dean nodded. "Okay."
They walked up into the church again in silence. Jim locked both doors carefully with the key that hung around his neck and made sure to return the cleaning supplies back into the closet before he extinguished the light and walked Dean up into the church and towards the door that would lead them into the small house next to the church that Jim lived in. Dean stopped as Jim locked up the church behind them.
"Thank you. For…you know. For listening. And for telling me about the vault."
Jim smiled. "You're more than welcome to both my attention and my trust, son. At any time. And now it's time for you to get some sleep."
Dean followed the priest into his house and up the stairs into the bedroom he shared with his brother. Sam was still sleeping peacefully, but even as he crawled under the blanket beside his brother, Dean knew that it wouldn't be that easy for him to find some sleep that night. He had a lot to think about. But even though he probably hadn't understood everything Pastor Jim had been trying to tell him, he was feeling a slight bit better than when he had come into the church earlier. That was something. And Sammy was sleeping peacefully in the bed beside him, his breathing deep and even. Sammy was safe, and undisturbed by all the thoughts that were running through Dean's head. And that made it all worth it.
Thanks for reading. As always, please let me know what you think. Thanks a lot.