God Help Us
A/N: I'm not entirely happy with this, but I wanted to get it up before Season Six starts (which, OMG, so soon now!)
This will probably be the last thing I post for a couple of months because I'm getting married on the 8th of October, heading to Auckland for the Metallica concert a few days later, then holidaying down in quake-struck Christchurch for two weeks. Add in pregnancy and some fundraising for World Homeless Day and I'm a busy busy girl.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone reading my stuff. I have something in mind that I will be working on in my free time (free time? What free time?) so I'll be back with more eventually. :D
Hope you all enjoy this!
The older Sammy grows, the more he seems to forget.
When they ride together in the Impala – something they do often and needlessly. Dean just drives and Sammy sits in the passenger seat and complains about Dean's old fashioned music – Sammy would sometimes mention things that never happened in his lifetime, reference obscure hunts or Pastor Jim or get himself all confused because he remembers a different dad.
Once he asked why Dean was so old. Dean splutters and coughs, halfway between amused at Sammy's brutal honesty and outraged because dude, he's not that old, and finally asks Sammy why he's so young.
Sammy holds out his little arms to inspect and studies himself seriously in the side mirror before answering in a way that is so reminiscent of Sam that Dean bursts into almost hysterical laughter, "Our lives are weird, man."
"You can say that again," Dean chokes out, reaching out to ruffle Sammy's hair.
Six year old Sammy happily plays at hunting vampires and chasing ghosts. Dean even catches random exerts of exorcisms, the Latin fluent on his son's untrained tongue and when he joins in the games he sometimes realises that they're re-enacting past hunts.
But eight year old Sammy has moved on to cops and robbers and racing cars. Dean feels Sam slipping away and finds himself trying to prompt Sammy, hoping he'll remember who he is but more and more often his pointed questions of 'how do you deal with a witch?' or 'do you remember that motel room in...?' are met with blank stares before Sammy turns back to his colouring or toy soldiers.
It's almost like losing Sam all over again and Dean wants to take back all the nice things he's thought about God and hate him again for all the things that have been taken from him. Then Sammy wakes up screaming one night.
In the hours of comforting that follow, in the eerie glow of the night-light, Sammy babbles things that sound horrifically close to Dean's memories of Hell, things that an eight year old shouldn't be able to even imagine.
Dean holds Sammy's tiny trembling form close and tight and tries to convince both of them that it was just a nightmare.
"No, it was real," Sammy sobs, "And you went there, too, because of me. Was I bad? I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
And Dean can't wait for Sammy to forget.
Sammy does, eventually. Monsters are pushed back into fairy tales, where they belong, and it's not as bad as Dean thought. Sammy's still Sam, beyond the stunning similarity in looks, just without all the shit that used to go along with that. He's the same, but different. He's innocent now.
Dean excels in doing everything a real family should do, everything he and Sam didn't get to do. He doesn't just enjoy it, he thrives on it. He can't just do things better than when he was young – that's not hard – he has to do things better than the neighbours, better than the year before. Lisa teases him, and Pete next door always declares bitter war over whose Christmas decorations are the best and Sammy's always utterly enchanted, which makes all the effort, and the loss of Pete's friendship over the holiday season, completely worthwhile.
Birthdays are a big deal and Dean celebrates them with gusto. No sitting in motel rooms with spaghettios and a cupcake with a candle in it this time. The day that Sam saved the world and the day Sammy was born is the most important day of Dean's life. Sometimes he marvels over the fact that, years ago now, the only anniversaries he remembered were the ones without cause for celebration; Mum's death, Dad's death, Sam's deaths (the first and last). His own death.
Now it's Sammy's birthday, Ben's birthday, Lisa's birthday, even his own because Lisa always throws what she thinks is a surprise party but Dean always gets the information out of Sammy beforehand. There's even his wedding anniversary because yes, Dean Winchester actually got married, once Sammy was old enough to understand how important being Best Man is.
Christmas is the best. Sam never had a Christmas tree. Dean remembers taking him to department stores just so he could see the giant ones there. Now Dean picks out trees so big they barely fit in the house, smothered in fairy lights and tinsel and candy-canes. Bobby always makes it up for Christmas – one year Dean even got him to dress up as Santa, which had Dean cracking up mercilessly and then falling about in hysterics when Sammy very seriously informed Bobby that, "Santa says Merry Christmas, Uncle Bobby, not Shut Up, Idjit."
Dean and Lisa cook a feast and the radio plays carols and everyone wears those dorky paper hats and pulls crackers and Dean loves it. He freaking loves it.
There are barbecues and sleepovers and trips to the zoo and the movies. There are picnics and holidays to the beach, swimming lessons and karate classes. Dean goes to every one of Sam's soccer games.
Dean has hundreds of photos documenting everything. Suddenly he's teaching Sammy to drive and giving him his first beer, lending him the Impala for dates and without knowing exactly when it happened Sammy's a teenager who refuses to be called Sammy (but Dean still calls him it anyway) and wants to stay out late with his friends (and boy, is it difficult to get a teenage boy to wear a necklace with an anti-possession charm on it without actually telling him why you want him to wear it) and argues back like a pro.
Dean remembers in particular one 'discussion' they have when Sammy's 16 and they're negotiating his curfew for the third time that year. Sammy argues his case so well that Dean doesn't even realise he's given in until after the fact. He shakes his head in amused exasperation and says, "Sammy, you'd make a damn good lawyer."
He doesn't really mean anything by it. He doesn't expect Sammy to be exactly the same as Sam and he thinks Sam's motivation for studying law had something to do with being able to bail out his less-than-legal family, but Sammy pauses and looks at him like he's not sure if Dean's kidding and hopes he's not and says, "You think?"
Dean is suddenly catapulted into the past and he's just said the exact same thing to a different Sam and Sam's looking at him with the exact same expression. It's one of those rare times that Sam won a fight with John, which definitely qualifies as lawyer material. Sam says, "You think?"
Dean gives Sammy the answer he wishes he'd given Sam.
"I think you'd be an amazing lawyer."
Sammy doesn't get a scholarship this time but he does get into Stanford. Dean can only assume that Sam was driven by his need to escape the hunting world and without that desperation Sammy's just a smart kid in a school of smart kids. Dean couldn't be prouder. Sammy's normal, just like Sam always wanted.
If you ignore the whole reincarnated saviour of the world thing, of course.
Dean misses him while he's at school, and worries about him, sometimes has nightmares of fire in the dorms, and scrawls protective sigils everywhere he can when he visits but he accepts it this time. Abandonment doesn't curl up hot and heavy in the pit of his stomach and the tense waiting-for-him-to-call-first silence isn't there.
Sammy calls home at least once a week and Dean calls him and Lisa sends care packages and Dean's so ecstatic that Sammy has a mother to do things like that.
Just before the first holidays of Sammy's second year he calls home and after some embarrassed muttering, tells Dean that he's bringing a girl home for Dean and Lisa to meet.
Dean grins like a Cheshire cat and teases Sammy mercilessly and then regrets it when Sammy clams up and refuses to tell him anything about this girl apart from, "You're gonna like her, Dad."
Dean wants to pick them up from the airport but Lisa insists that she do it, "So I can at least spend ten minutes with my son before you steal him for the rest of the holidays," she says. Dean has to concede.
He waits impatiently on the porch, pacing with a beer in hand, until the car pulls up to the curb. He leans on the railing and watches Sammy step out. He flashes Dean a patented Sammy-smile – the kind that always has Dean thanking God for giving Sammy back to him – and gives a brief wave before turning to help the mystery girl out of the car.
Dean feels his breathing hitch. She's younger than when he last saw her, which makes no sense but Dean's used to that. Her blonde hair curls down her back and the sun makes it glow as Sammy leads her to the porch. She's even more beautiful that he remembers.
Sammy looks at her like she's the most incredible thing he's ever seen and says proudly, "Dad, this is Jess."
Dean doesn't think before pulling his embarrassed son and the stunned girl into a hug, and he thanks God for giving Sammy something, too.