"So…Ben," Dean awkwardly starts, taking a seat away from Ben on the brown couch.

Ben flicks his eyes toward Dean in acknowledgment before going back to his video game. Shooting zombies in the face takes 100 percent concentration, apparently.

Dean sighs and wipes the grit from his eyes. He had arrived at the Braedon's late last night. After explaining to Lisa what had happened and asking to stay for a while, he had went to bed with a bottle of Jack Daniel's finest and slept until 7 p.m. the next day. The parts of him (well, all of him, to be honest) still screaming for Sam wished for him to be in a drunken daze watching paint peel. And he'd get to that, he will. There's just something he has to do first.

"Ben."

Ben looks at him again, but Dean manages to keep his attention this time with a soft request of, "Could you pause that for a minute? I need to talk to you."

The boy is reluctant, but does as he is told and presses the start button on his controller, effectively pausing the game.

"Shoot," Ben says.

"I want to know if you're alright with this."

"Alright with what?" Ben asks, not knowing what Dean is talking about.

"With me staying here with you and your mom. 'Cause I can always go somewhere else."

And yeah, he promised Sammy that he would go to the Braedons. But if they didn't want him, he wasn't going to force himself on them.

"Why do you want to know what I think?" Ben asks, staring at him like he had grown a second head.

"Because you're the man of the house."

Ben laughs, "One without any authority."

Dean stares at Ben intensely, green eyes trying to convey the message stronger than the words will.

"I'm being serious here, Ben. If you don't want me, I'm gone."

Ben seems taken aback. He sits there, a million unformed thoughts flitting through his head at warp speed. Finally, a thought takes form and says, "Dean…I don't really know you."

For a second Dean's already battered heart seems to sink further. He contemplates getting up and heading out, but Ben is still talking.

"But you saved my life, and Mom's, and pretty much the whole gated community. And you taught me how to deal with bullies. So that's enough," Ben says the last bit with a shrug of his shoulder.

If Dean wasn't broken right now, he'd probably smirk and say "Yeah, I am pretty awesome, aren't I?" But he's not. So Dean just gets up from the couch after clapping Ben on the back.

"Do you…want to play with me?" Ben asks, hesitantly.

Dean grimaces. He can't, not when he feels like half of his soul is missing. But some day, when the pain begins to wane, he will. He'll make it his first agenda.

"Maybe later," he promises gruffly.

Ben's face falls in disappointment, but he nods his head and resumes his game.

Dean's not sure if he'll ever be alright. That's a lie. He knows that he will never be alright. But he'll heal. He'll live. For Sam, and for the life he could live with Ben and Lisa.


Notes: I enjoy Dean and Ben interaction, so I wanted to write something. This was the result. Please tell me what you thought of it.

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