Warnings/Rating: SPOILERS to 5.10, GEN, PG13, Sad. Includes rather a lot of references to canon character and canon spouse death. Also a bit of multilevel flashback, so mind your step.
Disclaimer: Kripke's world. I own nothing.
Summary: Episode Tag for 5.10 - Glass isn't always fragile.
A/N: If I don't post this now, I'm going to chicken out. It's another one I don't think I'll ever be happy with. This came from the off-hand curiosity of where Bobby got so many shot glasses for Ellen and Castiel's drinking game. It's intended as Gen, but could be read as unrequited Bobby/Ellen if you want. *shrug*
The pile of used shot glasses was still on the table from the night before. Alcohol residue was drying inside, sticky. Bobby rolled over and picked one out of the pile. It had a red smudge at the rim.
"You and me, angel-boy," Ellen had said last night, and thumped the bottle down on the table. "We are gonna have ourselves a drinking contest."
"Joanna Beth, you stay out of this." Ellen had smirked dangerously in Castiel's direction. "To make it fair, each round can be five for you, one for me. Angelic constitution and all that."
Castiel had tilted his head, that funny bird-like mannerism. "I do not understand the point of this activity."
"You don't need to. Just sit your ass down and drink."
Last night, Bobby had smiled, shook his head and wheeled away.
He looked down at the shot glass in his hand now, rubbing a thumb over the tint of red.
After Wyoming and the Devil's Gate a few years back, Bobby had gone back to the burned-out wreck of the Roadhouse with Ellen; to bury the dead, and clear out the things that the authorities might get too interested in. Bits of Ellen's life were mixed in with the blackened timbers, the slag from the bar glasses, the remains of the people who'd been in the bar while she was out getting pretzels.
Pretzels. Bobby never thought he'd be so grateful to a snack.
Not much of Ellen's life remained. Scraps of cloth from well-worn shirts, shredded photos. She pulled one smoke-edged corner of an old photo out of the debris and held it cupped in her hand. From beside her, Bobby could see a pale-haired baby sitting on the bar, chewing on the arm of the monkey statue, half a broad shoulder behind her, a strong hand on the bar beside. Ready to catch if necessary, but not hovering.
Bobby suddenly felt like an intruder and moved further away into the wreckage.
Something small glinted despite the soot and grime, near where the bar used to be. "Here's another one," he called from across the wreck.
Bobby picked the shot glass out of the debris and placed it in the small pile to one side, in the gravel of the former parking lot. "Can't believe so many of these things survived."
"Stands to reason I guess. Denser glass, smaller size. Less likely to break and not near enough to the center of the blast to melt, like-" Ellen looked away, off into the woods around the lot, somewhere where the wreckage of her life and friends wasn't. "Like the other glassware."
Bobby watched the set of Ellen's shoulders silently a moment before speaking. "Shot glasses are tough. Kinda like us. Take a beating, get up and keep moving."
Bobby nudged the pile of small grimy glasses with his foot, then bent and picked up the one he'd just put down. "You want 'em? There's a whole bunch here. Dozens."
"Not much good without a bar to use 'em in, people-" Ellen cut herself off. Silence stretched.
"You could set up again, another bar..."
"No." She lowered her head before shaking it, still facing the trees. "Bill and I started this place when I got pregnant. Bill's gone, Jo left. No going back, only forward."
Bobby remembered when Bill died. Ellen had thrown herself headlong into the bar, and Jo, filling Bill's absence with the loose hunting family of hunter patrons and the running of the business itself. When his own wife had died, Bobby'd thrown himself into searching out what the thing was that had possessed her, how to recognize it and how to stop the same thing from happening to anyone else. How to hunt it down. He understood that need to fill a sudden vacuum as big as the whole world. What it would be like to lose the thing that had so inadequately filled that vacuum, he didn't know.
"If you don't mind," Bobby said after a long while, "I think I'll keep them."
Ellen snorted. "What are you gonna do with dozens of shot glasses, Bobby Singer?"
"Can always use extra glasses." Bobby raised a mock-serious eyebrow. "Wild shooter parties over at my place on the weekend, don't you know."
The corner of Ellen's mouth twitched upwards.
"Besides. They survived. Throwing them away just don't seem right." Bobby held the glass in his hand, rubbing grime away with a thumb and watching Ellen.
The trees surrounding the lot swayed, leaves shaking with a sound like a river rushing. Ellen looked down at the corner of the photo in her hand before tucking it into her jacket.
Bobby didn't know whether Castiel had walked up beside his wheelchair silently, or whether he had just appeared. It didn't matter. "Sorry for what?"
The angel didn't make a sound, standing there. A person would have shifted, scuffed a foot, something in the hesitation that followed.
"I'm sorry for the loss of Ellen and Jo. I made a tactical error, and was trapped. I was too late to help them, and I am deeply sorry."
Bobby felt a frustrated rage building, like when he'd lost the ability to walk and been so close to breaking forever. Castiel was offering him a convenient target to rage against. Again.
He kept staring down at the shot glass. "Not your fault. You got waylaid by Lucifer."
"It's not your fault either."
"Who said it was?" Bobby snapped, glancing at the angel.
Castiel just stood silently, looking at him with a knowing stare.
Bobby wanted to sweep an arm across the table, send all the shot glasses clattering to the floor. It'd be a cast-iron bitch picking them all back up from his chair, but he didn't care. He wanted to go back to when he wasn't in the chair to bring Ellen and Jo back. He wanted to have gone to Carthage so it could have been him blowing up in a hardware store full of hellhounds instead of them. He wanted to yell, cry.
He wanted to, but he didn't.
Bobby set the small glass in his hand back down on the table. He turned it so the red smudge faced the kitchen; as though Ellen was still sitting in the chair, waiting for a refill with a whiskey grin, Jo perched behind her, smirking around her beer.
"We don't break," he said to Castiel, himself and no one. "We won't break."
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