Firefly – Chapter 30

By – Suz Mc

South Dakota was welcoming, one of the few places on earth that felt like home. The metal arch that marked Singer Auto Salvage always seemed like open arms to Dean. It was a perpetually dusty, rusty place that didn't feel like it was judging them or shocked by anything that Winchesters said or did. If there had ever been a place he and Sam had remotely felt like home, it was here. Pastor Jim's had been close, but there were too many well meaning church people to navigate. Here it was just Bobby and busted up wrecks and moldy books and guns. Dean desperately needed home right now to get his bearings.

Emily was wired, leaning out the window, full of excitement and wonder. She'd been bouncing around the backseat from one window to the other for hours, taking in everything she saw. She was going to like it here, too.

Sam had suggested going back to Ellen's first, but there were too many people coming in and out of the Roadhouse. He'd learned his lesson with Drake and wasn't up to a repeat. All it would take would be one glimpse of Emily doing choreography for fireflies and she'd be on everyone's radar.

Bobby would know what to do. When Sam had called to let Bobby know they were coming, Bobby had said what he always said, "Door's open. Come on up."

"Up, Sam!" Dean reached over to smack Sam on the shoulder as the Impala breezed through the front gate of Bobby's yard. Sam jumped, banged his head against the window then rubbed a hand over his face to wake up.

"We're at Bobby's already?"

"No, I'd thought we go to Vegas and let Emily try the slots. Yes, we're at Bobby's."

Sam stretched and shook his head to wake up, as the car eased to a stop in the middle of a dust cloud beside Bobby's house. The older hunter filled up the doorway in his trucker cap and "Redneck Nation" t-shirt, like he'd been watching his driveway for hours waiting for them. Just seeing Bobby made Dean feel better.

Sam made his way out of the car first and got wrapped up by Bobby. "Boy!" was all he said, slapping Sam on the back, a happy grin breaking the lines of his beard.

Sam coughed, still trying to wake up. "Good to see you, too, Bobby," Sam said, returning the slap.

Dean had barely gotten Emily out of the backseat when Bobby was at his elbow. The excitement on his face was almost sweet, and it was weird to think of Bobby that way.

"Hey, Bobby," Dean said, holding Emily's hand and taking his own embrace from Bobby.

"I'm glad you all came here, Son." Bobby looked at him for a long time, that genuine smile still spread over his face. Bobby looked down toward Emily, who was looking a little less adventurous than she'd been a few minutes ago.

"This is Emily, my little girl." It felt good to say it out loud, to introduce her to people as his little girl.

"Well, hello there, Emily." Bobby was looking down at Emily, giving her his good ole boy smile. "These two lunkheads used to call me Uncle Bobby before they got too big for their britches. You can call me that if you want."

Emily was warily eyeing Bobby, her shoulder rubbing up against Dean's torn jeans as the older man knelt down in front of her.

"Bobby, she can't—"

The older man held up his hand to stop Dean from saying anything else. "It's okay. I talked to Ellen already," he said, turning his attention back to the little girl in front of him. "You know what, Lil' Bit?" Bobby's grin was ear to ear and his voice was the soothing, easy tone he'd used with the boys when they were little and passing through the salvage yard years ago. "I got a job that would be perfect for a cute little girl." Pointing a hand over toward his brooding, hulk of a dog, Bobby said, "Rumsfeld, Jr. over there was, uh, keeping time with this high class pooch down the road. When his lady friend had puppies, her owner wasn't too happy that they weren't pure cocker spaniels."

"That monster and a cocker spaniel?" Sam said, shaking his head as he joined them and leaned against the side of the car.

"Looks ain't everything, boy," Bobby said, a proud smile on his face. "Anyway, Emily, now that the pups are big enough to leave their mama, I've got them here waiting for a home." He pointed toward a large box sitting in the shade beside the house. "They're so bored and unhappy they just cry and cry. You think you could play with them a while? Tire 'em out so they'll sleep tonight?"

Emily looked around Bobby toward the box. The sound of nervous puppies yipping drifted over the sides of the box. She anxiously looked from the cardboard box up to her dad, still needing his encouragement before she took action.

"It's okay. Go ahead," Dean said, giving her a soft pat on her back.

That was all the permission she needed and Emily walked over to the box, leaning over cautiously. With the appearance of an interested human being, the puppies went wild, bouncing up and down in the box, each begging to be the one liberated. Emily reached in and snagged one pup, pulling his fat body into her lap as she plopped onto the grass beside Bobby's house.

It was an odd looking little dog with a huge head, floppy ears and silky brown fur. Emily stroked and petted the puppy as it happily crawled all over her, grateful for some attention. The other pups were obviously jealous and rocked the box back and forth, trying to get to the affection sitting right beside them.

The three men watched in silence for a while, before Bobby said, "All the ugly business settled?"

"Yep," Dean answered, watching Emily drag out one more puppy from the box. "For the next ten years, at least. Let's talk about it later."

With a nod, Bobby silently agreed to change the subject. He focused on Emily and lowered his voice just a tad. "Got a phone call from a friend of mine down south. Seems your buddy Drake crossed paths with an old Hoo Doo lady and his deal went bad. Seems she took offense to something he did and sent him on to meet his maker."

"Damn, Bobby," Dean said, thrown off balance by Bobby's newsflash. "Don't get me wrong, I mean, I'm tickled pink to cross Drake's bloody death off my to-do list, but how the hell would you be able to know about Drake and what deals he had going?"

"I know people." Bobby reclined against the car, looking oddly satisfied.

Sam shot a look across Bobby and at Dean that was half "What the hell" and half "I don't want to know."

Dean agreed and didn't follow up.

Bobby went back to smiling in Emily's direction. "Adorable kid. Can't believe you made that." He put his hand on Dean's shoulder. "How's that dad stuff going, anyway?"

"Great, so far," Dean said, waving as Emily looked over in his direction.

"In other words, you're scared shitless." Bobby slapped Dean's arm lightly.

After a moment of silence, the younger man answered, "Yes, Bobby. Yes, I am." Why not hang it right out there? Everybody could probably see it anyway.

Bobby took in a long breath, then stepped away from the car so he could look Dean right in the eye. "Want some advice, kid?"

"Why not, Bobby," Dean said, a weariness in his tone. That's what he'd come for anyway. "I know you're probably going to tell me that a hunter's life is no way to raise a kid, right?"

Bobby quickly answered, "No, Dean. You can't change your life," he pointed over toward the little girl, now holding two puppies, "or hers. It is what it is."

"So you're saying we don't have any choices?"

"What I'm saying is that you got the life you got, but you can run it or you can let it run you. John let the life run him. It don't have to be that way." Bobby slid his arm all the way around Dean's shoulders, like a father would. Pointing a finger toward Emily and the three puppies jumping around her, "Some people live their whole lives and never have anything that wonderful. Do whatever you have to do so that you can have a life with her, so she can have a life with you. If your daddy could do it over, I bet he'd do it different. Do it different, Son."

"It's never going to be normal," Dean said, looking over to a still silent Sam, "whatever that is." He was thinking about Emily and what he and Sam had seen her do with the fireflies yesterday. Out here in the daylight, with Emily grabbing for a normal day with a box full of hyped up puppies, wasn't the time to bring it up. He'd ask for Bobby's input later. That was something to discuss late tonight around Bobby's battered kitchen table after Emily was safe in her bed

"Normal is overrated. Shoot for mostly happy. That's good enough."

"Can we stay here for a few days? I need to figure things out. Dad said we should go to Lawrence but--"

"Dad said? As in John?" Now it was Bobby's turn to be off balance.

Sam decided to chime in on that particular subject. "It's a long story, Bobby."

"It always is, Sam," Bobby said, rattling his head back and forth to shake the questions out of his mind for now. "Of course, you can stay here. Long as you want. Already got the place ready for company."
Bobby was excited, or as excited as it was possible for him to be without knife throwing being involved. "I've got plans for me and Lil Bit over there. Gonna make her a fisherwoman."

"Oh, God, Bobby, not with the fishing again." Dean was rolling his eyes at the memory of Bobby trying to force fishing down their throats as kids.

"You might have liked it if you had more patience and hadn't tried fishing with a .45."

Dean was about to answer when he heard a strange hiccupping sound to his right and jerked his attention back to Emily. Damn it. He'd lost track of her while he talked to Bobby and it took a second or two of searching to find her a few feet away lying in the middle of the dirty driveway. She was flat on her back with six puppies squirming and climbing all over her. At first, he wasn't sure about the sound but then he watched as she wiggled around on the ground, laughing in between gulping breaths of air. The sound of her giggling grew louder and louder, ringing around the yard as her face was licked wet by crazy happy pups. It was loud and free and her laughter kept growing as the puppies tickled away her fear and opened her voice.

"Bobby." Dean's voice broke and he swallowed to get it back under control. "It's the first sound I've heard her make and it's laughing. That's awesome."

Sam stood by his brother, sharing Dean's relief. "Bobby, I think you could fix a rainy day."

"Aw, puppies and kids. It was almost too easy."

Dean watched as Emily rolled around in the dirt, laughing her little ass off, being slobbered on by a litter of puppies and he felt good, hopeful. It was a weird thing to feel, hope. He was wary of hope because it was generally too slippery to hold. Hope was an in the future kind of thing that could let you down and did most of the time. The right now was easier to believe in and Emily's right now was perfect.

Bobby tapped the greasy bill of his cap in response. "She's gettin' filthy. Better go peel off the pups."

He was heading toward Emily's giggling mess of dirt and puppies when Dean reached out to stop him.

"Not yet. I'll clean her up later. Just let her have this a little longer."

The puppies kept jumping. The dust continued swirl around. And Emily kept laughing.

***

She'd fallen asleep standing up. Dean had hauled her out of the tub with her eyes half open, dried her off and put on her nightgown seconds before she keeled over on his shoulder. For the last five hours she'd been going wide open. Puppy chasing. Fishing with Bobby, who was acting like Emily was a fishing prodigy. Climbing on top of wrecks until Dean's arms were sore from yanking her down. She'd laughed out loud over and over with a brilliant sparkling little girl laugh that was irresistible. Dean had hoped the laughing would lead to words, but it hadn't. After all she'd been through, for her to be healthy and running around like a wild child was more than he'd thought possible and he'd take it. He'd even had to hold her in his lap and make her stop long enough to eat and when he tossed her in the tub, he was about to collapse himself. It didn't take any soothing or pep talk to get her into bed, he just stretched her out and covered her up.

Now, he could go downstairs and get into the meat of his problems, starting with what the hell was he going to do about the rest of his life and what to do about a four year old who could control light and fire.

Somewhere in one of those piles of yellowed books, Bobby should be able to find him an answer.

Dean was almost to the stairs when he heard the pounding of two little feet coming up fast behind him.

He turned just in time for Emily to grab hold of his knees.

He should have expected this. It was the fifth bed she'd had in two weeks and it would be stupid to expect her to be comfortable all alone.

"I thought you were asleep, Cutie Pie." He lifted her up, letting her grab hold around his neck. He started walking back toward her room. One more night with her should do it. It was a strange place and she wasn't used to being alone. They'd start that stupid weaning process again tomorrow night. He was too tired to talk to Bobby anyway. Sleep would do them both good and if he went to his room she'd just wake up and follow him. That wouldn't make sense at all.

Dean eased down on the bed, trying not to make too much noise on the squeaky metal bed frame. Emily was almost back to sleep, her breathing easing up against his shoulder as he rested back with her held tightly against him.

The blue iPod was sitting on the bedside table and Sam had given up his own speaker so Emily could listen without the earbuds. Dean had been so distracted he'd forgotten to turn it on. The playlist "Emily's Night Music" jumped out at him as he searched. Calley had to have made that for her, picking out the songs that would make her feel secure and relaxed every night. He tapped it to life and "True Colors" started playing quietly beside them. It wasn't his music but it was Calley's and it was only right that Emily should have it whenever she wanted.

"You with the sad eyes, don't be discouraged. Oh, I realize it's hard to take courage. In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all and the darkness deep inside you can make you feel so small."

Emily shifted against him and he felt the now familiar coolness of her hand sliding under his sleeve.

"But I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors, and that's why I love you."

At least her scar was gone. That much pain was out of her life. Now he had to work on the rest of it. Sam's deep voice was resonating up from the kitchen and he was probably filling Bobby in on the whole story. Maybe they'd work out a solution and just tell Dean about it in the morning. That would work.


"So don't be afraid, to let them show. Your true colors, your true colors, are beautiful like a rainbow."

He was closing his eyes when Emily twisted her face toward his and in a soft whisper that was hoarse from disuse, she said, "Night night, Daddy."

The feeling spread warm and strong through him, and he had to pinch his eyes closed to keep it from overflowing.

"Night, Emily."

The End