Firefly 'Verse – Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
By: Suz mc
Dean had fallen silent, apparently stunned by the mound of paperwork spread over Bobby's kitchen table. Research on unknown mystic boogie men and endless pages detailing Pagan rituals had never confounded his brother the way this collection of files, blue-backed legal documents, and financial statements had done in one afternoon. The sheer volume of this paper storm that had Emily as its eye must have sent some lawyer's kid to Disney World.
Cold beer in hand, Sam sat down across the table from Dean. "Whole lot of paper to take care of one little girl, huh?"
Ariel Anderson was nothing if not thorough. She'd taken the responsibility Calley Rail had entrusted her with as Emily's guardian seriously. The woman had spent hours on the phone talking to Dean and to Sam, making sure Emily was safe and secure, and making sure they were going to protect her future, before she'd forwarded the documents to them.
Dean reached over and took Sam's beer without asking, downing a big gulp from the longneck bottle. "So this is what you were going to do with your life before I sprung you from college? Spend all day creating piles of this shit or translating it? No wonder people hate lawyers."
"Okay, let's start with the most important one first," Sam said, reaching over to the far side of the table. "This, you sign here below Ariel's signature and it relinquishes her position as Emily's guardian and trustee over her financial decisions to you." He slid the document in front of Dean and handed him a pen. Dean hesitated over the form and Sam said, "Your real name, dude."
Dean began to scrawl his signature. "I'm not stupid."
Sam understood the weight of what Dean was doing. He'd felt it the first time he began to sign documents at Stanford. Winchester boys had been taught to fight creating a paper trail all their lives. Dad had drilled into their heads every day that being in the system was bad. But Dean didn't want Emily to lead a wandering, undocumented life so he was putting himself into the system.
"This is legal? Nobody can change this?" Dean was reviewing the document tentatively as if he half expected it to burst into flames.
"Nope. You make all of the decisions for the minor child Emily Winchester from this second forward. Congratulations. It's a girl." Sam picked up the other stack of documents and tried to ignore the deer in headlights look on his brother's face. "These are the accounts Ariel set up. College fund and trust fund. Here's where she sold Calley's house. That's in a separate account for you to use as you see fit to provide for Emily. This last one is an account for anything Ariel sells from the remaining artwork and payments from any use of Calley's work or name. She's retaining the rights to agent the work, and apparently there's more stored away that she's holding until you or Emily decide the time is right. When Emily is twenty-one she has the option to retain her services or take over—"
"Slow down, you lost me at college fund." Dean had snatched the paper away and was trying to absorb the amount on the page. "This all belongs to Emily?"
"Yep. Ivy League level dollars. Calley made good decisions with her investments and life insurance. She was smart." Sam said, finally accepting the fact that Dean wasn't giving back his beer and going to the refrigerator to get a replacement. His brother was scanning the papers and the zeroes with an open mouthed stare. "Look, Dean, you should be happy about this. Calley took care of Emily's future. You can send her to private school, college; get her anything she wants without you having to do a thing."
Dean's confusion disappeared with a sudden flash of anger.
"I can take care of my own daughter, Sam." Dean stacked the papers and flipped them over on the table like they were an insult to his manhood.
That came out of nowhere and Sam had to take in a deep breath to regroup. He originally thought Dean would be deliriously happy, that the trust fund and bank accounts would take a load off his mind. But this was Dean. The Dean who knew how to rig a Coke machine to spit out change when Dad was gone too long and the money ran out, but would starve before he'd take the free Christmas dinners the church down the street was handing out. The Dean who took pride in hustling pool, but would rather be homeless than take a handout.
"Look, Dean, I didn't mean that you couldn't," Sam said, trying to clarify things. "I just meant it would be one less thing you had to worry about."
"Hell, Sam," Dean snapped, shoving the papers back into an enormous envelope. "I'm not worried at all. This will all be waiting on Emily when she's eighteen. I don't have to live off of my kid's money or some poor dead woman's money, either."
"I know that, but—"
"I'm not going to blow it on booze or ammo. It's hers." Dean put the envelope away on a side table and clammed up.
Dean was staring out the kitchen window, taking in the chaotic view out of Bobby's overgrown, rusted property. Sam just left his brother to himself for a while to cool off. Bank accounts and figuring out a more stable way of living than credit card fraud and hustling pool was strange territory for Winchesters. Sam had a firmer grasp on normal than Dean, even though his time in that world had been brief. The prospect of being part of that world again felt as strange to him as it did to Dean.
Talking about Emily was easier.
"How long are they going to be gone?" Sam joined his brother, staring at the disorganized mess that passed as Bobby Singer's backyard.
"Couple of hours. They went to Block Party to deliver a motor." Dean grinned over at his brother and a quick memory of the most amazing place in junkyard lore passed between them. "She's going to love it."
"Damn, if I'd known that's where they were going, I'd have gone, too." Sam drew in a long drink from his bottle. Block Party was the wonderland of junkyards. An old hippy friend of Bobby's, bent on recycling before recycling was cool found a way to crush wrecks into huge metal blocks and stack them into castles and forts and an enormous maze that covered a third of his ten acre lot. Sometimes when their Dad had left them with Bobby, he'd haul both boys over there to wander around the maze. They never set foot in Disney but Block Party was good enough.
"Well, see, I asked and was told it was an Uncle Bobby and Emily date and I wasn't invited either," Dean said, forgetting his insulted outburst from before. "Bobby's eatin' the Grandpa shit up, isn't he? She really seems to enjoy being with him."
"Yeah, I guess he's the closest thing to a grandfather she's ever had." Sam couldn't help the pang he felt for her real grandfather and what he was missing. He'd seen how instantly John had loved Emily and it must have taken one hell of a fight for him to get to her from the great beyond. "It's a shame she won't remember Dad."
Dean put his empty bottle in the trash and leaned back on the counter. "Yeah, but her remembering what went on with those bastards might have been more than she could recover from. Dad knew what he was doing when he took all those memories away, even if it took him away with them."
"She seems better since we've been here. How'd she do last night?"
"She was up a couple of times, but it's getting better."
"And how about her, uh, talents? Have you said anything to her yet?"
"Sam, I don't want to hear—Hey Cutie Pie!"
Emily came bouncing into the room, blowpop poking out of her cheek and a look of intense glee on her face. "Daddy! It was so cool! The man squished cars into big ole blocks and made a castle and a thing you walk around in out of 'em and Uncle Bobby got me a sucker!"
It all flooded out in one long breath and she punctuated every word with a wave of the sloppy sucker she'd pulled out of her mouth. Dean had her on his hip, every ounce of tension and worry about the future drained away in the wave of jubilance that was Emily. It was the relief and peace Sam had never been able to give his brother and it made him happy to see it now.
"So you got to wander around in the Block Party Maze, huh?"
"Yep!" She gave the gooey red blowpop another lick then yanked it out again. "Want some?" She waved it in front of Dean's face.
"I think I'm good, but thanks." Dean plopped her on the counter and grabbed a dishtowel to wipe her hands, then seeing the futility of it, tossed it back into the sink.
"Your daddy and I used to go there when we were kids." Sam was enjoying watching his brother with his daughter. They were both happy and, after what that four year old had been through and what that thirty-four year old had been through, it was damn near a miracle. Moments like this were few and far between and Sam had learned not to analyze them, just accept them on the rare occasions when they showed up.
"We got losted once."
"Did you hold up your flag so they'd come get you?" Dean had a crooked grin directed at his brother. Any time Sam had wanted to shoot up what Dean called "the pansy flag" Dean would yank it out of his hands and launch it javelin style over the walls so they had no choice but to continue to blindly wander their way out.
"Nope. Uncle Bobby said we don't need no stinkin' directions!" She said it with her eyebrows knitted together, doing a fair Bobby Singer impersonation.
"And we didn't, did we?" Bobby came into the room, grinning like he had some grand secret only he and Emily could share. "Made it through in forty-five minutes. Not too shabby for beginners."
"As many times as you took us through there, you should be able to do it blindfolded," Dean said, snaking his arm around Emily's waist to pull her off the counter. He settled her in a chair and went about the business of getting her lunch. That had always been his job. Make sure the family got fed, got sleep, and got anything else they needed.
"Boy, things change. They got a mini-forklift now, so Camden changes the layout once a month." Bobby eased behind Emily's chair and ruffled her hair while she stuffed her mouth full of PB&J. "We'll race 'em next time, Lil Bit."
The normalcy of it all sent a shiver through Sam's body. A kitchen. Saturday afternoon ballgame humming over the TV in the room next door. Things that needed to be done being put off until Monday. PB&J. A four year old and her daddy. Uncle Sammy who was expected to bridge the huge gap between hunter and civilian for his brother. Surrogate Grandpa Bobby Singer doing his damndest to replace his murdered baby daughter's memory with this new little girl. Dean Winchester doing daddy things like making lunch while pondering how the hell to give a child the world when that world might want to chase her around with pitchforks and torches if she ever slipped up and showed people what she could do with those tiny hands and a few fireflies.
"Sammy?! Stop thinking about Zach Efron!" He jumped at Dean's voice, wondering just how long he'd been staring. It had only taken a few thoughts for normal to fade back into abnormal.
"Sorry, zoned out."
"That's Troy! You like Troy, Uncle Sammy?" Emily asked through a mouthful of sandwich.
"Oh, he does, Emily. Your Uncle Sammy thinks Troy is dreamy." Dean drawled his way through "dreamy" and Sam waited until Emily was watching her dad pour potato chips onto her plate before he flipped him the bird. "Bet he's been waiting for you to ask him to watch 'High School Massacre' with you."
"Not massacre, musical, silly Daddy." Emily looked over at Sam as if sharing some secret gossip, crunching away on her chips, talking between bites. "Troy sings good. He's pretty."
Dean grabbed a chip for himself. "Okay, Emily, lesson one -- Boys are the root of all evil."
"But you're a boy."
"I'm your dad so I don't count."
"Uncle Sammy's a boy."
"He thinks so," Sam said, trying to kick Dean under the table only to miss and nearly topple out of his chair.
"He's right, Lil Bit," Bobby said, joining them at the table. "Boys are idjits and these two are proof positive." He stopped behind Sam's chair, holding out a couple of tools and a gallon sized freezer bag. "Sam, you still familiar with the business end of a screw driver?"
"If memory serves," Sam said, taking the items from Bobby and pushing back from the table. "What do you need?"
"Hood ornament and right rearview mirror from the '85 Porsche at the back of the lot." Bobby turned to go back to his office, tossing one more order over his shoulder. "Don't lose any of the hardware."
Emily was just finishing her sandwich, so Sam tossed one of her potato chips into his mouth and said, "Come on, Em. Let's go dismantle a Porsche."
"Okay!" She hopped brightly out of the chair, trailing behind Sam like one of the cocker-weiller pups outside. "What's a Porsche?"
"A car rich guys drive to compensate for having lit—" Dean bit his tongue down on the nasty that almost made it out, "—uh, because they aren't cool enough for an Impala." Dean caught Sam shaking his head and laughing back at him.
"Bye Daddy!" Emily passed in front of Sam and bounced out the door.
Keeping Emily busy had become the household pastime around Bobby's place and Dean was grateful to have two other people to help. It seemed like the right thing to do, keeping her occupied. He hoped it was the right thing. Hell, what four year old needed quiet time? She needed fun. She needed distraction so the horror she'd been through would become the past and go the fuck away. It was working. The only time she whimpered or cried was in her sleep when all her distractions and defenses were taken away. Maybe if he could manage to fill up her head with non-scary, non-death related things that a kid's head should be full of, then that would level out, too.
Sam gave the plastic bag to Emily as they passed by the window and he was chatting her up about something. It was good to have Sam on board with this fathering thing. He was smart and Emily was smart so Sam could put his Brainiac skills to good use. Pretty soon Dean would have to start thinking about things like school and a home and a life and--
His headache was back. He took another look at the bulging envelope full of legal mumbo jumbo and gobs of money Calley had left for Emily's future. Calley had probably lain awake at night, dreaming of the perfect life she wanted for her child, thinking and planning like the ideal mother. Now Emily was a well financed pre-schooler in the hands of some jerk who knew how to torch a zombie but had never had a checkbook or a legit credit card.
The envelope full of Calley's thoughtful planning was heavy in his hands. Calley obviously knew how make a little girl smart, healthy, and happy. Calley's memory was going to grow more perfect, more ideal, with every passing year as Emily grew up. Calley wasn't going to screw things up or make mistakes or disappoint her little girl. Calley was going to be some perfect example of mother love who threw herself on a goddamn burning demon to save her kid. How was he going to compete with that?
Dean tossed the envelope back to the table, amazed at what a gigantic prick he was for being jealous of the very woman he'd helped to destroy.
"The cash is great, Calley, but would a manual have been too much to ask?"
Emily had been talking non-stop since she and Sam had left the house. Her voice was light and climbed higher and higher with every question and observation. Who did all these cars belong to? What day was it? Did he have a car? What was his favorite color? Did those puppies have names? Could she name them? Did they miss their mama?
It was hard to keep up and she didn't let go until Sam gave her an answer to each and every inquiry. God, she was making up for all that time lost in silence.
The long dusty walk to the back of the junkyard took a while, but finding the remains of one totaled Porsche was easy. Bobby always made the more valuable wrecks accessible.
"Hold this bag, Em, and I'll drop the parts in," Sam said, happy to find something to temporarily occupy Emily's mind. He started with the hood ornament first.
"Is that a Porsche? It looks like a sticker." Emily leaned in closely to inspect the metal coat of arms that served as a hood ornament for a 1985 Porsche Carrera.
"The whole car is called a Porsche. What we're after is this little thing." Sam gave the entire car the once over. It looked like someone had run it through a trash compacter from just behind the rearview mirrors to the back, totaling the car and anyone unlucky enough to be inside of it at the time.
"Because somebody else with an '85 Porsche busted theirs and wants to replace it."
It had been a while since he'd pulled pieces off the wrecks in Bobby's yard so he had to give some thought to exactly what tool he needed and just how to get the emblem off in one piece. He and Dean had always been fascinated by hood ornaments. They would collect them from around the lot then make a game of remembering what model they belonged to and race to see who could put them back the fastest.
"My daddy's car is better."
"Have to agree with you there."
Sam raised the hood to get at the bolts holding the ornament in place. It took a bit more muscle than he'd figured to budge the small nuts around the threads. Porsche parts had to be handled carefully. Any customer willing to fork over the cash for them wouldn't tolerate scratches.
Emily had wandered away, leaving the plastic bag on the ground beside Sam's feet. Four year old attention spans couldn't muster enough patience to hang with her uncle while Sam struggled with the stubborn hood ornament. She was running around in circles between the cars, dragging a long piece of rope behind her to entertain one of those freaky hybrid puppies Bobby was giving away. He couldn't see her anymore, but he could hear the puppy yelping and Emily babbling lightly to him about how sweet he was and what a good puppy he was and to "come on, puppy!"
Sam had the rearview mirror dangling by one connection when he realized Emily's voice had disappeared.