Summary: Dean's 32nd Birthday

Spoilers: Takes place during the year Dean isn't hunting after 5.22
Disclaimer: Not mine. Or I would have made Dean a birthday pie.

1/24/2011

Dean went rigid at the shout, instinctively reaching for the gun that was no longer in his waistband. Then the singing began and he aborted the move and consciously took a gulp of air to slow his racing heart.

"Happy birthday, dear Dee-an..."

At least a dozen people clapped as the song ended. Dean's eyes searched among them for the two who had to be there, and yes, there Lisa was, Ben beside her, both looking in hopeful anticipation for his reaction.

Don't screw this up, Dean.

He pasted a smile on his face and pulled out his 'just one of the guys' persona.

"Whoa, what is this? You guys scared the crap outta me! Sid, Nancy - this your idea to get me back for Halloween?"

"What? No, blame your old lady for this one!" With a hearty slap on the back, Sid handed him an open beer.

Now Lisa was there, arms around his neck, giving him a light peck on the cheek and murmuring quietly, "It was Ben's idea. Are you okay?"

Dean figured he must have looked like he'd seen a ghost. At least to Lisa. With irony he thought that he probably never'd had such a panicked look when a real ghost had shown up. But then, ghosts and the rest of the things he'd hunted had been expected. This ... not so much.

In fact, never.

Dean was working on two tracks simultaneously now, part of him going around the room greeting the guys from work and the neighbors, saying yep, they'd got him good, never suspected a thing, and the other part thinking of past birthdays and how, if they were celebrated at all, it was with a piece of pie in some crap diner. How a couple of times Sam had actually had the waitress stick a candle in it and sing, and he was not going to think of Sam now.

Once Dean sat down, Ben assumed the job of emcee and handed Dean the first present from the pile on the coffee table.

"This is from Sid," Ben announced seriously.

"Should I be scared?" Dean joked as the package rattled.

"More like I should be scared!" came Sid's rejoinder as Dean yanked the paper off to find a tube of ... golf balls.

"Sid?"

"When the weather gets warm I'm gonna take you out and teach you a real game!"

Everyone laughed, Dean's scornful opinion of the athletic value of "hitting a little ball around with a stick" was known to everyone present.

The next present was a gift card to Home Depot from Eddie.

"Thanks, I can use this."

"Don't let Lisa make you spend it on the house! Get something manly and dangerous for yourself!" More laughter, even as Dean flashed to the thought of just what could be concocted with mundane supplies from a place like that. Don't need to make that shit anymore, he told himself, and took the next colorfully wrapped package Ben handed him.

By the time everything was unwrapped, there were three tee-shirts, one with the Indianapolis Colts logo to make him an "official Hoosier;" two more gift cards, one to K-Mart and one to Alexander's Restaurant "because they have amazing pie;" and a couple six-packs of Zywiec beer. The last present, from Ben, had been two AC/DC cds, "Highway to Hell" and "Back in Black."

"I thought, since the truck has a cd player, you might like these," Ben offered hopefully as Dean unwrapped them.

Dean swallowed past the lump in his throat and managed to say gruffly, "These are great, kiddo."

He joked his way through Lisa's chili and the apple pie she'd gotten instead of cake, graciously accepting handshakes and hugs as everyone left.

Once it was quiet, he sat back on the couch surveying the amazing pile of loot, more than Dean could remember ever getting on one birthday. This was what it's like, to be settled in a place long enough to have friends and neighbors and co-workers who know stuff like when your birthday even is, he thought. That realization was immediately followed by this is what Sam had at Stanford and for a moment Dean couldn't breathe.

Lisa had finished collecting the cups and plates strewn around the room and now sat down next to Dean, quietly resting her hand on his thigh. He knew what she was wordlessly asking.

"I'm okay. It's just … I never … I guess the last time I had a birthday party I was four years old, y'know?" Before Sam was born. "It was … nice."

"I saved my present for last." Lisa reached into the drawer of the end table. "Here."

Her tremulous smile almost broke his heart, he could see how much she wanted him to be happy. Someone wanting to take care of him, god, it felt so strange … and yet good. Dean peeled away the tape, taking his time with this box, wanting Lisa to see that it mattered – she mattered – to him.

It was a watch.

"This is real nice, Lisa." He leaned over to kiss her, his free hand sliding around her shoulders. "Thank you."

"I thought it was something you'd wear, you could use it every day …If you look at the back, I had it engraved."

Dean turned it over.

1/24/2011 To Dean Love Lisa

Dean couldn't say any more, so he just pulled Lisa in close and buried his face in her sweet hair.

And he wished, for the briefest second, that he could forget about Sam for just one day.