"Bobby, what do you think I should do?" John asked Bobby. He normally didn't ask anybody for advice, but he was in way over his head on this one.
"About what?" Bobby asked.
"I know that, you idgit. I meant specifically."
"Should I tell him about hunting, first of all?"
"Honestly. I don't think you should, John. I know that he doesn't remember what's happened, but that doesn't mean he won't have any psychological problems from whatever it was. Plus, he's lost 11 years of his life. He's going to have to play some pretty major catch up. It's not fair to him to add the stress of hunting to that."
"You're right. That was what I was thinking. But what do I do with him, then?"
"If he wants, I'll give Dean a job here with me. We can let Sam live here and get him some tutors so he get his GED. Maybe go to Community College and train for a job."
"I need Dean to help me with hunting," John said.
"Are you kidding me? For once in your life, put your boys first. Let Dean make the decision. If Dean wants to leave Sam here and go hunting with you that's fine, but he's got to make up his own mind. I've been watching him since Sam disappeared. I've seen how he's afraid to make his own decisions and you've let him depend completely on you. It's not healthy. With what we do, you're not going to be around forever. They both need to learn to be self-sufficient."
"Fine. Let's wait until morning to ask, though. Dean's happy for the first time and I don't know if this will stress him out. I get what you're saying about making him stand on his own two feet, but I think you'll agree he could use one happy night."
"Yeah. I definitely agree with that," Bobby said.
Sam and Dean chose that moment to return. "How was your walk?" John asked.
"We didn't get very far. Sam got tired," Dean said.
"You just had a nap," Bobby said.
"Not that kind of tired," Sam said. "My legs hurt."
"You were only gone 10 minutes," John said.
Sam hung his head, recognizing that his father was disappointed in him. "Sorry."
"It's OK, Sam," Dean said. "What's for supper, Bobby?"
"All you ever think about is your stomach," Bobby grumbled.
"Can we have pizza?" Sam asked. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like he hadn't had pizza in a very long time.
"Sure," Bobby said. He didn't feel like cooking anyway.
"Dean, I'm not going to teach Sam about hunting," John told Dean. Sam was still sleeping and Bobby was in the kitchen making breakfast.
"OK," Dean said. That was fine with him. He wasn't sure Sam could handle it.
"I'm going to leave him here with Bobby," Dean opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, John continued, "You can either come with me, or stay here and work with Bobby. I'm fine with either decision."
Dean wasn't sure what to do. He couldn't remember the last time he made a decision. He was always afraid to because as far as he knew, it was some stupid decision of his that got Sam in trouble.
John could see how Dean was struggling, but remembered Bobby's words of not making decisions for him. He decided to do the next best thing. "I'll let you think about it."
"What did he decide?" Bobby asked as John joined him in the kitchen.
"Nothing yet," John admitted.
"John, he has to," Bobby almost yelled, but remembered Sam was still sleeping and he didn't want Dean to overhear either.
"I know, Bobby, but maybe it might be easier for him to make the first decision he's made in ten years without me watching him."
"You're right," Bobby admitted.
John laughed. "I don't hear that from you too often."
"Don't get used to it."
They turned around to see Sam in the doorway. "Morning, son."
John wasn't going to tell Sam that he was staying here until he knew what Dean was doing. Give him all the information at once. Besides, he didn't want Sam to make the decision for Dean either. He had to do this on his own.
"Dad, I've decided," Dean said.
"Excuse us," John said to Sam and Bobby and they went outside.
"I've spent the last ten years feeling guilty for something I can't remember. It's not your fault, it's not Sam's fault, and it may not even be my fault. But, I'm not going to hunt with you anymore, and I'm not going to stay here with Sam. I'm going to go do my own thing."
John hadn't been expecting that. "What?"
"I don't know, Dad, but it's like I've been on autopilot. Not even. I've been on auto-co-pilot. Normal families don't stick together forever. They don't all go into business together. You should hunt. I'll go be a mechanic or maybe something else, and Sammy will get his degree and go to college. I know I only remember him as a 7 year old, but he was smart, wasn't he?"
"He sure was," John agreed. He hugged Dean and went in to say good-bye to Sam. When he came back Dean was gone.
8 years later
"Sam , I'm so proud of you. Graduating from college after the late start you got," Bobby said as Sam got ready for the graduation ceremony.
"Do you think Dad and Dean will come?" he asked.
"They said they would."
For the last 8 years they had all talked on the phone at least once a week and got together on holidays. Sam had been scared at first. Especially when he had had to leave Bobby's to go away to college, but now he felt like a normal functioning adult.
"Hey, Sam. How do I look in my gown?"
"You look great, Jess," Sam said. He had asked Jessica to marry him the night before and she said yes. He planned on telling everyone at dinner after the ceremony.
"Hey, there's the graduate," Dean said as he came in the room, followed by their father.
"You guys made it," Sam said.
"Who's this?" Dean asked, making a beeline for Jess.
"This is my girlfriend, Jessica," Sam said.
"You are way out of my brother's league," Dean said with his usual smirk.
Sam rolled his eyes.
"Dean, leave your brother's girlfriend alone," John admonished.
"We're going to be late," Jessica said. She grabbed Sam's hand and they left the others standing there.
"I can't believe there was a time when we thought he was dead and now he's graduating from college," John said.
"Do you think we'll ever know where he was all those years?" Dean asked.
"No. But I don't think it matters. He's back now and we're probably a more normal family now than we would have been otherwise," John said.
"Winchesters normal? Ha," Bobby said.