'Bout Time, Ya Idgit

Summary: Bobby was used to having deceased Winchesters show up on his doorstep, so it was no surprise when there was a knock at the door…or was it?

Bobby sat at his dining room table which surprisingly had few books on it. He'd cleared most of them off to make room so he and his current houseguests could sit together and eat. That was the plan, anyway, but nothing ever goes according to plan when the Winchesters are involved.

He tuned his ear the room below. It had been quiet for sometime, ever since the screaming had stopped. Sam was back in the panic room, going through his second bout of "demon detox." The difference this time was that Dean refused to leave his side. There was no way in hell he was going to let Sam suffer through the agony alone again. Whatever came forth – hallucinations, curses, insults, tears – Dean would stay and take it.

After all, they'd just escaped hell on Earth – literally.

Bobby rubbed his eyes and tried again to process what he'd been told. Ruby and Lillith were dead. Lucifer was free. And Sam and Dean had been at ground zero…again. When the boys showed up three days prior, Dean tried to relay what had happened, but his full focus was on Sam and getting him down to the panic room to settle in for the torment that was to come. Had already started, in fact.

Bobby had seen Sam bad before, but this time, in addition to the shakes, sweat and strain, there was such a haunting quiet about the boy. And his eyes, so devoid of light and life. Just vacant, empty. Bobby knew something major had gone down and hoped Dean would be able to tell him more, or at least let him know he could help. But Dean just shut himself and Sam away in the little room, only occasionally coming out for food and bathroom breaks.

But the screams Bobby heard. The thrashing on the cot. The deadly silences before it all started up again. He would check on them every few hours and would listen to Dean comforting his brother, watch him wipe Sam's brow and whisper encouragement quietly to him.

It had been a long three days, and Bobby hoped the worst was over.

A knock quickly brought him back to himself. He looked to the door before standing and moving towards it, a feeling coming over him suddenly. With purpose, he made his way to it and swung it open. He was used to this by now. But unlike before – when Dean had shown up with Sam after Cold Oak, when Dean had shown up four months after they'd buried him – the sight before him help no real surprise. It was as if he'd expected it.

"Hey Bobby."

"Bout damn time you showed up."

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Three days. Thank God he was finally sleeping.

No, not God. Thank someone, but not God. God, after all, has left the building.

Dean rubbed tired eyes and glanced at his sleeping brother for the millionth time. Sam. Sammy. The past few hours, as Sam seemed to be through the worst of the detox and began to be more coherent, more lucid, Dean began to believe that after everything that had happened, maybe he was on the road to getting his brother back. Not the secret-keeping, demon-trusting, blood-sucking stranger, but his actual Sam.

Then again, maybe the kid would never be Sam again. Maybe he was just too broken. Hell, maybe they both were.

I mean, who wouldn't be after all they'd been through? They'd both died. Dean had been to Hell. Sam had gone down – no been led down (demonic bitch!) a dark, dark path. Dean had learned he had broken the first seal. And now Sam knew he'd broken the last. And Lucifer was free. Evil – 1 plus infinity, Winchesters –zilch.

But Dean couldn't think about that now. He had just one directive – get Sam through this. There was no way he was going to stay upstairs and let Sam suffer alone. He didn't care how bad it got, he would not leave.

He expected Sam to lash out at him through the pain, prepared himself to have every obscenity and insult hurled his way, but it never came. Oh sure, there was plenty of screaming, but Sam always directed it away from Dean. He even tried holding the screams in, and Dean knew exactly why. Sam probably believed it would hurt more if he suffered quietly, gave the agony no verbal release. Dean just knew Sam believed he deserved nothing less than the worst torment imaginable.

After all, Sam had always taken to guilt like a fish to water. And now, realizing how betrayed and conned he'd been by Ruby, how she'd played him perfectly right from the start, and knowing he'd broken the last seal, therefore releasing Lucifer into the world, how could Sam not feel responsible? But Dean didn't blame him. Not for this. And not anymore for the other crap. Oh sure, there was still the legacy of lies and secrets, but there was new perspective, and Dean couldn't ignore it. He wouldn't. Bobby was right. He couldn't ever walk away from Sam and he couldn't believe he almost had.

Sam winced and groaned in his sleep and Dean brought the cool washcloth to his brow once again, trying to offer as much comfort as possible. Broken or not, they were going to come back from this. End of story.

Dean suddenly heard muffled sound coming form the floor above. Sounded like conversation, but he couldn't think who could be visiting Bobby at this hour. He doubted anyone knew they were here, but it wasn't out of the realm of possibility either. But it didn't sound like shouting or fighting. Just regular conversation. Sure peaked his curiosity, though.

He stood up, stumbling and straining a little as he realized he'd been sitting on the floor too long. Giving his body a good stretch, he made his way to the door. Looking back at Sam, he quietly opened the door and shut it behind him, locking it.

Making his way up the stairs, the muffled voices became louder and a little clearer. He deciphered that it was two male voices talking. As he opened the door from the basement to the kitchen, he suddenly froze. Huh, must be more tired than I thought, Dean thought to himself. Sure as hell sounds like…yeah, right, Winchester, he chuckled. But as he made his way into the living room, his heart beat faster and his breathing suddenly hitched. And sure enough, he confirmed with his eyes what he thought his ears had been tricking him with.

There sat Bobby Singer. And John Winchester.

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Bobby heard the cellar door squeak open and cursed himself for not being prepared for the inevitable. The moment when Dean Winchester would come face to face with his deceased father. He saw Dean a second before John and both stood as Dean cam full into view, his mouth agape, eyes blinking in an attempt to alter what couldn't possibly be real before him but instead a hallucination begot by stress and fatigue.

"Hey son," John said with a smile and a small step forward. At that, Dean stumbled back a step.

"It's okay, Dean, it's him," Bobby said, ready to run to dean's side should the stunned boy start to topple over.

But Dean held his stance, still working on what to say first.

"How…" was all he came up with.

"Let's just say you've got friends in high places. Well one in particular, a certain redhead…"

"Anna," Dean whispered.

"I guess she called in a hell of a favor," John said, taking another tentative step toward his eldest.

This time Dean stood his ground. He tried to process what was happening as quickly as possible. Ann had brought his dad back? Not just that, she'd gotten him his body back. She'd done that for him? Even with her being a fugitive herself? How? How was this possible? How was this real?

Dean didn't realize he was beginning to verbalize his processing out loud until his dad slowly approached him, reinforcing that this was real, that he was really here. And before he knew it, Dean felt his father's hands on his shoulders and he they were eye to eye. With one more hitched breath, Dean grabbed his father into a tight embrace and the walls came crashing down as he sobbed. He didn't care if he, the mighty Dean Winchester, was the anti-chick-flick man. Right now, he was a little boy who needed to bawl his eyes out into his father's shoulder and let all the pain and misery and fear ebb away. Right now he just needed to be comforted.

After a couple of minutes Dean composed himself enough to pull away and clasped John on the shoulders. He had a million questions but didn't need them answered right then. He just wanted to take it all in. Enjoy the friggin moment for a change. Boy, wait'll Sam…

Sam!

"Sam!" Dad, Sammy is…"

"I know son. I know everything. How's he doing?"

You know everything? Crap, is that good or bad? "He's better, I think. Still in some pain. Weak as hell. I'm not sure how to help him…"

"Seems like you've been doing exactly right," said John reassuringly. "He's a strong kid, Dean. Hell, he's one of us, right?"

Damn glad to hear you still think so. "Damn straight," Dean said with his trademark smirk. "I should check on him. Should you come? I mean, I was shocked as hell and almost tossed my cookies, I'm not sure how he'll…"

"Dean…"

"No, it's okay. I'll go first and try to explain this. He's been more coherent and…"

"Dean," Bobby chimed in.

Dean chuckled. "I have absolutely no idea what to do right now."

"Well, there's something else you should know, son, so it may be good to know everything before the next step," said John, again with a warm smile.

"What else?"

"I didn't come back alone."

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He didn't hear the door to the panic room creak open. Didn't hear the footsteps approaching the cot. He was only aware when he felt the mattress dip from the weight of someone sitting next to him. With that, Sam slowly opened his eyes, squinting at the light, little as it was. His head ached. Hell his whole body felt like it had been through a dozen rinse cycles in the wash. He cautiously turned his head toward the figure sitting beside him and felt the coolness of a wash cloth upon his brow.

"Hey kiddo."

"He Dean," Sam managed to get out, his throat thoroughly dry.

"How about some water?" Dean held a glass to Sam's lips and he gratefully took a glorious drink.

"Easy, not to fast." Dean pulled the glass away and wiped Sam's lips with the cloth since Sam's hands were still cuffed to the cot. Annoying, but necessary, Sam thought.

"How you feeling?"

"Better," Sam said. It wasn't entirely a lie. At least his blood didn't feel on fire anymore.

"Feel up to some company?"

Company? Weird, Sam thought. Was it his imagination or did Dean sound…chipper? No, couldn't be. Not with everything I've said and done, not with Lucifer on furlow from Hell. But Sam looked up at dean and definitely saw a big ass smile on his brother's face. Oh yeah, he's lost it.

"Now, don't freak out on me or anything. It's gonna be a bit much to take in at first, but it seems we've gotten our own little miracle."

Huh? Sam expressed with his token scrunched brow. "Dean, what…"

"Okay, it's a big-ass miracle. Or reward, I guess? Reward seems a better word, under the circumstances. Sure as hell overdue for us, that's for sure."

"Dean, what's going on?"

"Dean."

Sam froze. That voice. No, it couldn't be. I'm hallucinating again. Sam felt Dean's hand on his shoulder as his whole body tensed, eyes squeezed shut tight. Go away, go away…

"Sam, Sammy it's okay, calm down," Dean said softly, his hand firm on Sam's tense shoulder.

Suddenly Sam felt a hand on his other shoulder. A hand that didn't feel like Dean's. He squeezed his eyes shut tighter and turned his head away from the new hand. Not real, not real, not real…

"It's okay Sammy."

Sam quieted down at the sound of his often dreaded, often beloved nickname coming not from his brother, but most certainly from his father. His dead father. His dead-body-burned-trapped-but-then-escaped-from-hell father.

"You're not hallucinating Sam." Bobby, definitely Bobby.

"Look at me, son."

Dad? No, not Dad, can't be Dad…

"Sam. Look at me."

Sam opened his eyes, seeing dean before him with a small, comforting, reassuring smile and a nod wordlessly saying "It's okay, it's okay." He slowly turned his head and looked dead on at his father kneeling beside him, smile full and big.

"Hey kiddo."

Tears immediately sprung to Sam's eyes. Unable to say anything, he suddenly felt the cuffs from his wrists being released by Dean, the ankles by Bobby. Dean reached behind and helped Sam sit up on the cot and John backed up slightly to let Sam's legs hand over the side. John brought his hand to touch Sam's cheek and Sam fell into his father's loving embrace and sobbed. Dean smiled as he watched his little brother react as he had, then glanced slightly at the panic room door.

"Uh, Sammy, there's more…"

Sam pulled back from his father and wiped his tears with his arm, realizing that he could now that his arms were free of the bonds.

"More? How is this possible? What's going on? Dad, how…"

"It's a long story, baby."

Sam froze yet again as the new voice made its way to his ears. A voice that carried from the entrance to the room. Sam was terrified to glance that way but knew he just had to. Had to see for himself. A part of him still believed he was hallucinating, knew he had to be, but hell, if this was hallucinating, he'd damn well take it. Because it was paradise. Too good to be true, but so, so good.

No pain. No burning. Just the smiling, beaming faces of Dean, Bobby, John …

And Mary Winchester.

The End