There they stood on my front porch. Grief and Fury. Burning John to ash had taken most of the night and all of their strength. One wrong word from me would shatter Sam or have Dean handing me my head.
I been a hunter a long while, and I been a salvager hauling wrecks a long while before that and I seen some mighty disturbing things in my life. But the most heartbreaking thing I think I ever saw was those two boys having to salt and burn their Daddy. Sure, they're both grown up, old enough to have their own families started, old enough to be off on their own. But ain't nobody ever old enough to lose their Daddy.
"Uh, look, we hate to ask -." Dean started. I knew what he was asking and I gotta say I was a little sad that he thought he had to ask.
"Room's where you left it." I told 'em. "Soap and towels in the bathroom. Anything y'want in the kitchen. Anything you need, you let me know."
"Thanks." That was Dean. Sam dipped his head, agreeing but not out loud. "We'll get our stuff."
I went into the kitchen and found myself some busy work while they went out to the car for their gear. I didn't want to hover over them but I didn't want to completely disappear either until they were both safe and sound in bed.
They were quiet when they came back in. I heard them walk up the stairs to the second floor and my guest room, and in a little while I heard the shower up there turn on. There were some decisions needed to be made and I figured Dean figured he'd be the one to make them. I also figured Dean would let Sam have the shower first, so I went up to have a word with him while he was alone.
What I found was Sam sitting on the floor outside the closed bathroom door, a pile of clean clothes next to him, and the most heartbreaking expression of loss on his face that I've ever seen.
"What're you doing out here?"
"The room'll smell like smoke if we go in there before we clean up."
Ain't that the truth. Even standing a few feet away I could smell the smoke and death on him. That'd be a smell Sam would remember the rest of his life - they both would; they didn't need to be smelling it every time they turned around here.
"How're you doing Sam?"
"Dean took the shower first, he said he'd take a fast shower to leave me enough water. He said since I'm taller I need more hot water than he does."
He tried to smile but it crumpled back into grief and confusion. He hadn't even answered my question.
"You need anything I can get you?"
"No. No,thanks. I - we'll - no, thanks."
"All right then. More blankets in the linen closet, a couple extra pillows in there too. Anything you need, it's yours."
He nodded his thanks but nothing out loud and the shower shut off behind him and I figured in a few minutes I'd have my chance to be talking with Dean.
Sure enough, even quicker than I'd been expecting, the bathroom door opened and out Dean came. He looked at me first, a little in surprise, then over at Sam who was pushing up to his feet.
"All right Sammy. Go on in." He patted Sam's arm and closed the door behind him and I thought, Dean's taking care of his brother, but ain't nobody taking care of Dean.
"Bobby?" He asked when we were alone. Guess he knew I wanted to talk.
"Buy you a beer?"
And even that answer took a look to the bathroom first, checking on Sam even though he was behind a closed door. I led the way downstairs.
The beer was in my fridge. Dean sat at the table and I leaned against the sink.
"You know Bobby - thanks. Thanks for everything you've been doing. We couldn't - I don't think we coulda - handled - everything as smooth as you did."
"Don't mention it. John was a good man, a good hunter, and when he wasn't pissed off, he was a good friend too. I'm glad I could help you boys. I'm glad you asked."
He looked a little embarrassed at that; he hadn't asked for himself, I knew that. He'd asked for John and for Sam. Now John was gone entirely, but Dean still had Sam who still looked like the loser of a bare knuckle fight. I figured that would be my ace for what I was proposing next.
"In the morning -." I looked out the window to where dawn was coming up. "Well, later in the morning, I'll head in to the store, lay in some supplies. Anything you want or need, let me know."
"Whatever you have is good. We won't need much."
"You're gonna be here awhile and as I recall, Sam used to be something of a picky eater."
"We're gonna be here awhile?"
"You can't go anywhere while your car's outta commission. You're good Dean, but even you can't work with parts that ain't been delivered yet."
"Bobby - I can't ask you to put us up."
"You ain't asking. So - you and me used to eat along the same lines. What kind of food should I be stocking up for your brother?"
"Dean - really. You want the two of you t'be stuck in a motel somewhere you can't get away from each other except by walking? How long you think that's gonna last? You stay here, I got more room than I ever knew what to do with and enough yard space for both of you to get lost in."
"Let me think about it."
"What's there to think about? Sam's only in a little better shape than your car right now."
A wall went up. I saw it behind Dean's eyes. Him and his brother were on one side of that wall and the rest of the world was on the other. And right that minute that sure included me.
"I'll look after Sam." He said it like I'd suggested anything but.
"I know you will. And you can look after him just the same in a house that's got a library Sam can get lost in. Or would you rather he spend eight hours a day you don't even know where while you're working on your car?"
"I'll look after him."
He had more to say, lots more I could tell, but something in the doorway made him turn.
Sam, wet hair, clean clothes, heartbreak I could see even under the bruises.
And in Dean's expression, I saw that wall come down.
"Sammy - y'done already?"
"Yeah, uh - yeah."
"Sam, y'want something eat?" I asked. "Got cereal, eggs. Hell I got steak, too. Just 'cause it's dawn don't mean you gotta eat breakfast."
"No. Thanks. I just - I was gonna - um - Dean? I can't find the painkillers."
"Did we leave that bag in the car?" Dean stood up. "I'll -."
"What d'you need?" I asked. "I got just about anything." Dean looked at me like maybe my help was only interference.
"We've got his painkillers in the car." He made sure to inform me.
"Got anything with a sedative in it?" Sam asked me, around Dean. He sounded like he really wanted it and didn't think I had it.
"If you want it, I got it."
Sam looked at Dean who gave me a fast glance before he gave Sam his silent OK.
"Yeah, thanks Bobby." Sam said. "If you can spare it. Thanks."
I got him the pills and the water. Dean took his seat again.
"So - uh - Bobby invited us to stay while I get the car up and running."
I was silently cheering for Sam to say 'great idea' and not leave it up to Dean. Because Dean would stay only if he thought Sam needed it. But no, Sam had to leave it to Dean.
"Are we?" He asked.
Because Sam would go if Dean needed it.
I saw Dean give him a long look and I hoped to God he saw in Sam what I was seeing in both of 'em - exhaustion that went deeper than bone, that would not be helped being locked up in a motel room.
All Dean said was,
"Go on up to bed Sammy. We'll figure things out in the morning."
"You boys should stay here." I tried again.
"We don't have to decide right now, do we?" Dean demanded of me. Just like his old man – when he's hurt or scared or angry, he pulls away and jumps down the throat of anybody who gets too close. Only this time, Dean was hurt and scared and angry all at once. I guess I was lucky he only yelled at me.
I didn't say anything and Dean sighed, which was as close to an apology as I'll probably ever get out of him. He turned back to Sam – who wasn't there anymore. Dean sighed again and followed Sam out of the room, calling after him up the stairs to the guest room.
"Sam? Sammy – c'mon. Talk to me…"
I heard Dean's boots on my stairs and hoped he'd finally see things my way and stay, and I started straightening up the kitchen so I could go up and get some shut eye myself. Not five seconds later though Dean was hurrying back down those stairs.
"Sam? Where are you? Bobby – did you see him? He's not upstairs."
"No, he hasn't been back this way. Did he go outside?"
With a 'he better not have' tilt of his head, Dean went to my front door and into my yard. Keeping up with him wasn't easy.
"Sammy?! You out here?!"
He turned a nearly three-sixty then stopped suddenly and I looked where he was looking, both of us seeing the same thing, but neither of us taking a step forward.
Sam was in the passenger seat of the Impala, turned so that his back was to the shattered door and missing window. And to us. His head was resting on the back of the seat, he had a bloody green shirt pulled over his shoulders and a clear plastic bag of more clothes in his arms. His Dad's effects from the hospital.
"Sam?" Dean called and Sam twitched a little, maybe flinched, but he didn't look at us. Dean didn't move to him. He just watched Sam a minute.
"Lucky Charms." He said.
"Lucky Charms. They're Sammy's favorite cereal. They always have been. Believe me, there's two things you don't Sam to be out of - coffee and Lucky Charms."
"So, you're staying."
"Yeah. We're staying."