N/B: The apocalypse is over. Sam is still trapped in the hole with Lucifer and Michael/Adam. Castiel is dead and so is Bobby.
He feels as though three of his limbs have been cut off. Now he's alone. Hopping one legged. Every movement is jarring agony that shakes his whole body.
He is a veteran of war. An amputee who still feels phantom itches - flipping open his phone and getting halfway through dialling, Sammy, Bobby, Cas - before remembering: Those limbs are gone.
He takes another lonely, bone-jarring step.
He has visions of his brother falling into pitch darkness. He feels the spatter of Castiel's blood. He hears the gunshot-crack of Bobby's bones. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he doesn't want to be cured.
Another agonising step.
Lisa and Ben are not replacement limbs, they are not arms of plastic with shiny hook hands. But, they don't mean nothing. Lisa is his wheelchair, she supports him when his one remaining limb can't anymore. When the pain is too much and he collapses into her. Ben is the body behind that wheelchair, pushing his disfigured body ever forwards, Lisa's wheels turning steadily. He is grateful. He loves them.
It has been five years since the loss of his limbs. The phantom itches come less and less. He misses them. His Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has faded. He misses that too.
Dean is outside on the drive. The hood of the Impala is up - the old girl just hasn't been sounding right lately. Dean has a job at an Auto Garage, bodywork and classics. He has no time for plastic and electronic bullshit.
Ben walks past him. Too obviously casual to be innocent. Dean wipes off his hands.
Ben is 17 now. He looks just like his mother. His personality is Dean, only not so broken.
Dean likes being 'Dad'. Ben is moulded by Dean's words, his actions, his decisions. Dean once had the responsibility of saving the whole world on his shoulders, now he has Ben - the weight is the same.
"Where're you goin'?" Dean asks.
"To Jake's." Ben smiles. He's wearing his black jacket. It is zipped and buttoned. It's July.
Dean shakes his head, "Open it."
"Aw, Dad!" Ben whines, but unzips his jacket.
Tucked into the waistband of his jeans are 4 beers. Dean takes a step and plucks out two of the bottles.
"Get goin' before your mom sees." Dean says.
"Thanks Dad." Ben grins and closes his coat. "You're not gonna fix her 'till I get back, right?" He nods at the Impala.
"'Course not." Dean smiles.
Ben loves the Impala. When Ben turns 18 the Impala will be his.
Ben waves and takes off down the street, his biker boots pounding the pavement.
Dean shakes his head, he opens one of the bottles, takes a sip and ducks down under the hood of the Impala.
Some minutes later Dean senses a presence behind him. Dean is still a hunter. Anything within a 300 mile radius is his. Even a broken soldier is still a soldier.
Dean turns around. A boy is standing there.
He is small. Four, or five maybe. Wearing white shorts, a blue t-shirt and stripy blue trainers. A robot-looking thing is hanging from his hand, a lump of red, white and blue plastic. Two of the fingers of his free hand are pressed into his mouth, a child's nervous gesture. His black hair is messy, spiking untidily all over his head. He has blue eyes.
Blue eyes that Dean would know anywhere. They are both bright and deep, if that is possible. Bright and deep and too immeasurably old for this little boy's face.
Dean feels blood spatter on his face.
"Hi there." Dean squats down in front of the boy. "My name's Dean."
The boy blinks those eyes up at him. He chews on his fingers and says nothing.
Dean smiles and reaches out, prodding the plastic robot.
"Who's this?" Dean asks.
"Optimus Pwime." The boy answers around his fingers.
"Optimus Prime, huh? He's cool." Dean smiles. "So, I'm Dean and this is Optimus Prime. What's your name?"
The boy removes his fingers from his mouth, wipes them on his shorts. "I'm Cassidy."
Dean shakes his head, but the smile says on his face. There's humour in the smile. Something he couldn't have felt five years ago. Something he couldn't have felt before today. Before laying his eyes on this kid. "Cassidy. That's a good name."
"I like yo' car." Cassidy points.
"That's my Impala." Dean says, "Wanna see?"
Cassidy nods and Dean picks him up. He's so small and light.
"Where do you live?" Dean asks, remembering suddenly that the boy is not his. He stands Cassidy on the front bumper of the Impala. Dean keeps a hand on his back to make sure he doesn't fall and Cassidy leans forward to stare at the immaculate engine.
Cassidy points down the street. Dean takes a look and sees a moving van parked in front of a house about four doors down.
Dean nods and turns back to Cassidy and the Impala. He begins to point out the parts. Naming them and explaining simply. Cassidy listens attentively.
Time runs away from Dean. Cassidy asks questions and when Dean says something he doesn't understand he tilts his head in a way that makes Dean ache with familiarity.
Later, Dean hears a woman's voice behind them.
"Cassidy! There you are!" She sounds both relieved and frazzled at the same time.
Dean turns and so does Cassidy. Dean keeps a hand on him.
"Hi Mama." Cassidy smiles. His nose crinkles.
"Hi." She smiles back, walks up the drive.
She is older than Dean expected. At least in her mid-forties.
"I hope he hasn't been pestering you." She says. "He's a little obsessed with cars. Cars and birds."
Birds. Dean can still close his eyes and see the shadows of giant wings. Hear the fluttering that signalled arrival and departure.
"Cassidy hasn't bothered me at all." Dean says. He lifts Cassidy down from the bumper. "He's a good kid." He ruffles the boy's hair.
"He is. Our little miracle." She reaches out a hand to Dean. "I'm Dawn. My husband Gary is lugging boxes down the street."
"Dean." He says, accepting her hand. "My wife Lisa, our son Ben and I have lived here for a few years. If you ever need anything our door's always open."
Dean can't keep his eyes on Dawn. Instead they are drawn to Cassidy. He is standing between his mother and Dean, looking up at them curiously. Cassidy is the quietest five year old Dean has ever met.
Dean can't help but notice that Cassidy looks nothing like his red haired, green eyed mother. He guesses that Cassidy doesn't look anything like Gary either.
"Thank you." Dawn smiles. "Well, we should get back. The van isn't going to unpack itself." She takes Cassidy's hand.
"Sure." Dean says.
"Say 'bye' Cassidy."
"Bye Dean." Cassidy waves.
Dean squats down, "See ya later, Cass."
Dawn stares at him, "That's weird. He usually hates it when anyone calls him Cass."
Dean just stands up, smiles and shrugs.
When Cass is halfway back to his house, he turns and waves at Dean. Dean waves back.
It is impossible to re-grow limbs. A limb like Cas cannot simply be replaced. But, at least now his weight is not for Lisa and Ben to bear alone. Little Cassidy is there too, pushing him forwards, making sure the wheels of Lisa's chair keep turning.
Dean watches until Cassidy disappears into his house.
When Ben gets back he and Dean will fix the Impala and later Dean will tell Lisa about the new family. Hopefully she will insist on taking some kind of foodstuff over to Cassidy's house. Dean would like that.