What He Was

Summary: 1-shot Devastating events force Sam & Dean back to Sioux Falls for a final goodbye & Dean must face just what Bobby really meant to him and Sam while coping with not only his grief but also Sam's. * Grieving/Upset!Dean & Emotional!Sam * Spoilers for 07x10 Death's Door.

Tags: This is tagged for 07x10, Death's Door since it happens after it but this is just a possible outcome.

Warnings/Spoilers: Has spoilers for the episode so if you haven't seen it, then be cautious. Contains minor bad language and I'll put a definite tissue alert to this one.

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or the boys or Bobby. Just use them for a distraction. No harm done and hopefully some enjoyment.

Author Note: Final tag…probably, to this episode. I know, I know. No one is going to want to see this on TV but it's what came about as I was thinking what Dean and Sam would do after…if things don't turn around.

SPN SPN SPN SPN

What he was to them? That was something that Dean Winchester had been wondering since the last time a nurse had asked him that before they left the hospital for the final time. What was Bobby Singer to the Winchester brothers?

Officially, or so Sam had told him, they were listed as his nephews. According to the well dressed lawyer that had shown up on Sheriff Jodi Mills doorstep that morning looking for them, Bobby's will (when Bobby made a will neither Sam nor Dean knew) they were listed as his sole heirs, the benefactors of his entire estate (Bobby had an estate? That was new to Dean too) and his adopted sons.

Well, those last two words had sent Sam scurrying into the bathroom for the next few hours until Sheriff Mills, who was already a crying mess, threatened to shoot the lock off her own door to get him out while Dean had merely sat and listened to the man ramble.

He had the papers in the backseat of the Impala. In a couple days when he could think clearly or without the urge to jump off a cliff or onto the currently burning pile of wood, he'd look them over again or risk asking Sam to since his brother had been at one time, a lifetime ago, pre-law at Stanford.

Bringing Bobby back from New Jersey where the horrible act had actually taken place to Sioux Falls, North Dakota hadn't been a question to either brother. Before the Leviathans had burned the house to the ground and everything they and Bobby had owned, this house, this land on which the Singer Salvage Yard stood had been Bobby's home and therefore…the only real home and safe place that Dean and Sam had really known.

The risk of walking into a trap? Huge and they both knew it but as Dean reasoned when Sam asked, this was Bobby's home. It was where his wife was buried…well, her ashes after Bobby burned her body that time she came back as a zombie and on the other side of the yard, back toward the trees and near this spot was where Sam and Dean had burned their own Father's body going on seven years ago.

They brought Bobby home because it was the right thing to do and after everything the man had given up for them, to them…it was the least they could do for him.

A call to the local Sheriff had given them a safe place to stay until the preparations were made and Dean was grateful to Jodi Mills for that since he knew he and Sam were both still reeling from this and his brother needed more than the front seat of their 1967 Chevy Impala at this time.

The three hunters had been on the move since the house was burned and while Bobby stayed mostly at Rufus Turner's old cabin, he never failed to be there for them when they needed help, advice or as the older man was prone to say 'A swift kick in the pants'.

Dean and Sam were struggling to recover after their Angel friend Castiel literally imploded after not being able to expunge the Leviathans back into Purgatory. Dean knew his brother was still coping with having all his memories back and recent events had drained Sam even more.

It had been the last thing with Becky Rosen, where Sam had been drugged and hurt more than he was still talking about, that Bobby had decided to join them on a hunt. A simple hunt in the woods of Jersey. What should've been a basic, simple, everyday hunt turned bad the second they realized that it was a damn Leviathan plot and when Bobby was grabbed it got worse.

Never any doubt that they'd free their friend, their mentor…their…Dean wasn't sure when it went south or how he lost control but he knew when Bobby hadn't been right behind him and Sam that something was wrong. He hadn't known how wrong until the other day when little skinny Garth phoned him with the results of the security tapes of that building. Now, Dean had to choose to tell Sam or keep it to himself to avoid hurting his brother more.

Bobby had gotten out, had made it to the van when the head douchebag himself began shooting and this time Bobby Singer hadn't been lucky enough to avoid the bullet.

Dean still recalled the ice cold, body numbing feeling he felt when he first saw that trucker cap in Sam's hand with a bullet hole and realized Bobby wasn't moving in the back. Then it was a matter of getting him to an ER and to help fast enough.

He and Sam paced and waited in that hospital while Doctors worked on Bobby. He knew Sam needed him, he knew his little brother was scared but afraid to even show that for fear of letting loose too much other crap in his head right then. Dean knew this but all he was focusing on was his own refusal to accept that Bobby was dying.

Doctors gave odds, asked stupid questions that ended up with one nearly getting punched in the face then Dean had the distraction of Dick Ramon, the bastard who had just shot Bobby, showing up to gloat and all he could think of was that one day he and Sam would kill every single Leviathan for what this had cost them.

It was too the point where Dean knew he would have to accept the eventual outcome when it seemed like Bobby would recover. They were prepping for surgery to remove the bullet. Things were looking up and that's when Dean let his guard down. He let his guard down and let Sam start to believe again. Then he remembered the one lesson his Dad taught him that had never failed to come true. Never let yourself believe or hope because that's when fate will reach up and bite you in the ass and it did…in a big way.

Bobby woke up. He was alert, alert enough to write some numbers on Sam's hand that Dean still needed to figure out what those meant then…then even as Sam was talking to him, Dean watched the older man's eyes look at them and he saw more pride, more respect and more…honest love in that one brief moment than he could ever recall seeing in their own Dad's and knew when Bobby spoke that last word what it meant.

"'Idjits,'" had been the last thing that Bobby Singer spoke while looking between them but while the doctors only heard a word, Dean had heard something else. He'd heard it along with the unspoken message in those last few seconds of Bobby's life when their eyes had met. "'I love you both and take care of your brother,'" had been translated then it was over.

Thirty long minutes of hoping, praying, and briefly wondering if making a deal would work before the doctors finally called those dreaded words…time of death and then Dean was on automatic.

He'd buried his own emotions, his own grief because he'd felt Sam going down and knew he needed to get his brother out of the hospital. Then there was papers to fill out, to get the…body released because if Dean was certain of one thing it had been that he and Sam were going home and that's where they were now.

Well, he was here. The funeral pyre had been built earlier in the day while Jodi was watching over Sam since his brother was having a hard time adjusting to this loss and Dean guessed he knew why.

They'd suffered loss since they'd been kids but for Sam, the loss of their Mother hadn't hurt as badly as it had for Dean since he'd been a baby. Sam grew up with a cold, distant, often mean bastard for a Father since John Winchester was more hunter than father. Sam had been raised mostly by Dean but if he'd grown close to any one as a male role model it had been Bobby because it was at Bobby's where Sam had the best chance of being normal.

Bobby had taught them both how to act like regular kids at times. He'd let them play in the junkyard, toss balls or play with that old dog he'd had. He listened to their problems, picked up the pieces of shattered dreams when he could and was always there with either a soothing salve for wounds or egos or a lecture and a slap in the head when that was needed to.

"What was he?" Dean murmured as he watched the fire grow into the clear night air, as he watched this body burn. He knew the answer to that and supposed he's known it for some time but had always been afraid of voicing it.

Bobby had raised them, he'd loved them when no one else would or could be bothered, he'd protected them, taught them, shielded them and had finally given up his life for them. He'd done what any true parent would have done if knowing his sons were in danger. He'd given up his life for them and now as he stood at the funeral fire and felt the heat on his face, Dean also felt the first tears begin to fall as he softly answered the question of what was this man to him and his little brother.

"He was as much our Dad as our real one ever was," he whispered, not bothering to wipe the tears away until he felt his brother approaching. "Sammy."

Sam had stayed behind at the Impala with Jodi, saying he'd give Dean a chance to say goodbye in private but Dean knew the kid too well. He knew his brother was scared to face this moment because before it hadn't been real.

Oh, they knew Bobby was gone. Two doctors had attested to that but in Sam's tired, shattered mind it hadn't been real until this moment. Until the moment came that he had to face the funeral pyre and see their friend cremated as was the request of most hunters.

"You…okay?" the question was soft, the tears clearly heard as Sam kept his distance as if not wanting to get too close to either Dean or the fire but even in the night shadows, Dean could see his brother pushing on that scar on his hand that was his way of maintaining the balance in his head and not slipping back into the images that would still sometimes come.

Was he okay? Dean wasn't sure. Hell, if he was honest with himself, he hadn't been okay since he was four years old and had carried his chubby baby brother out of their burning house.

Dean knew deep down that he'd buried his emotions that night. He'd made a promise to always protect Sammy and he'd tried to do just that. He forced down the feelings that would make him weak in order to raise Sam, to keep him safe, and maybe get him the hell out of this life.

He'd survived all the crap of growing up with John Winchester, of protecting Sam, of facing being alone the four years Sam was at college to realizing just how much damage had been done to their lives the night of the fire.

Dean recalled standing by another fire the night they burned their Dad with barely any feeling while now he was fighting to hold back the tears, the anger, the grief and the fear that wanted to come because while he and Sam might have lost a good many people in their lives, from Jo and Ellen Harvelle, to Ash, to Pamela and even Castiel…they'd always had Bobby and that was the one constant that Dean had always believed would be in their lives.

Now, forced to accept that they were back to being well and truly on their own, it was almost enough to make him give in. To make him wish he'd taken that road he'd nearly taken a couple years ago when he'd just returned from Hell and the guilt and memories had nearly pushed him over the edge.

He recalled with brutal clarity what had stopped him that night he'd been sitting in a motel bathroom with his Colt in his hand. He recalled the sound of his up until that night so tough little brother waking up with a nightmare and screaming for him. The fear, the loss and ragged tears in Sam's voice had kept him from going through with it then and as he turned to look, he saw the slight tremors going through his baby brother now and knew…Dean knew how close to falling Sam was.

"No, I'm not okay," he admitted shakily, feeling Sam's eyes jerk up in surprise since it was rare for Dean to admit to weakness in front of him then he reached back unerringly to find the wrist of the hand that he knew Sam was pressing his thumb into. "But then…neither are you, Sammy."

Swallowing the sob that wanted to come, Sam blinked his eyes but couldn't stop the blinding wetness by this point. "He's dead, Dean," he murmured, having forced himself to say those words finally and out loud. "Bobby's…dead and he's not coming back…is he?"

The tone was one Sam has as a child when he'd ask when their Dad was coming back because in some way Sam had always been afraid of being left alone.

Dean had hated that tone because it always meant Sam was hurting and that was the one thing he'd always tried to avoid…his little brother ever hurting over anything but this wasn't something he could fix with a simple call to Pastor Jim or…Bobby and he had to finally face it.

He was once again what Sam was looking up to. He needed to be the big brother again for his scared little brother and he didn't have all the answers this time either. "No, Sammy. Bobby's not coming back this time but…" he paused to grab onto the retreating shoulder, and laid a hand on the back of Sam's neck like he'd always done when needing to comfort Sam. "…but, that doesn't mean he won't still be looking after us because he is and he will be. I know we've both been screwed with all this Heaven crap but I still have to believe that somewhere there's a place where good people go and Bobby was a good man.

"He raised us, Sam. He tried to do his best by us and…he did what any real 'Dad' would've done at the end when he protected us," he needed to make sure Sam understood this fully so while still keeping one hand on the back of his neck, Dean used his other to lift his brother's chin up to eye level. "Sam, Garth saw the video of that night. Bobby had a clear shot out, he was right behind us but he slowed down to make sure we had the time to get clear. Do you understand?"

Sam was barely focusing on anything but the burning pile of wood with the cremating body of the man they both had loved and respected when he slowly took in his brother's words and blinked. "He…he bought us time?" he asked softly, hazel eyes already wet with tears seemed to spill over then as he stared at Dean. "Why? We were out. Why would he have…"

"Because he loved us, Sammy," Dean replied in a voice hushed with emotion as he felt fingers move up to grip his arms and braced for what he'd been waiting days for. "Dad gave us life and he tried to do right by us but blood doesn't always make you family. Bobby was our family and we'd been his from the first day Dad showed up on his door with us," he stated, hearing the broken sob and gauging it was safe to try. "C'mere, Sam."

Ever since regaining his full memories of his time soulless and from his time in the Cage, Sam had resisted any type of pure emotional reaction out of fear of breaking something loose that he couldn't close again. Now, as his loss, the fear of being alone and the fear of what his brother might do, hit him he finally gave in and latched on when Dean offered the full brotherly hug.

"I…loved Dad, De'n," he mumbled in between gasps for breath, not aware of how bad he'd begun to shake or how tight his brother was holding. "I did…but…Bobby…he…I…we…don't leave, De'n."

The last tearful plea tore Dean's heart because he suddenly understood what Sam was afraid of. He'd suspected what Dean was thinking and was afraid of being left alone without anyone.

Looking toward the fire, Dean remembered every time Bobby had ended a phone call with him and smiled shakily. "No, Sammy. I'm not leaving you," he promised, lightly carding fingers that he knew would shake when he was alone through shaggy hair while adding. "I have to stick around to look after my pain in the ass little brother."

Breaking the hug after a long moment and after he was sure Sam was calmer, Dean still kept a hand on his brother's neck as a way to maintain some form of contact. They watched the fire burn fully for a long while in silence, both lost in the memories of the man who had always been there for them.

"Do…you think he knew, Dean?" Sam asked after a long time, feeling the nudge on his shoulder that meant it was time to go but hesitant to leave this spot. "We never told Bobby that…"

"He knew, Sammy," Dean nodded, knowing this just like he'd known that last moment in the hospital that Bobby had gained peace in that last exchange. "He knew we loved him. Now, come on. Let's go."

Walking back to the Impala, Dean kept a hand on Sam when he felt him sway a little to much and was glad to see Jodi Mills had stayed by the Impala and opened the back door as if knowing what would be needed.

"In ya go, Sasquatch," Dean heard the mumbled protest like Sam would do as a child when fighting sleep but he was already half asleep when he curled up as best he could on the back seat and was out before the battered leather jacket that Dean had removed from the trunk was placed over him. "Thanks for waiting."

Looking toward the fire, Jodi wiped her eyes but had understood that this night was for the boys. She'd have her time to say goodbye to the grumpy old man she'd grown very fond over. Looking between them, she saw the unshed emotion on Dean's rugged face but knew he wouldn't show it until he was alone.

"That lawyer said to call him before he leave town but…he said Bobby left this for you," she held out an envelope before reaching up to place a gentle kiss on the older Winchester's cheek. "I'm glad he had you and Sam at the end, Dean. No matter how crotchety he got, Bobby really did love you guys. You're welcome at my place for however long you need it."

Nodding, Dean was grateful for that and wasn't sure what he and Sam would do in the next few days as he got behind the wheel, turned on a small light so the dome light wouldn't disturb Sam and read the letter… "Sonuvabitch," he breathed.

"'Dean, if you're readin' this then I finally took that one way trip to the old hunters home in the sky and hope I'm driving Rufus and John nuts. By now, you've met the twerp lawyer who will throw more legal jargon your way than even Sam could figure out but basically it's like this…

"'Whatever I have or had, belongs to you and Sam. It's all in those papers. I mean, I might not have looked it but I did know how to save for a rainy day. I often told people who asked, I was savin' for college funds cause in some way that's what I always hoped you boys would use it for but…I guess it's too late for those wishes.

"'I won't waste time goin' all wishy washy on ya but here it is…you and Sam…you might've been John's sons by blood but I couldn't have loved you two idjits anymore had you been mine. Maybe I should've told you but I knew you'd roll your eyes and do that no chick flick crap on me so…just know, I'm proud of the men you've become.

"'If I went out fighting like I hope I did then I hope I did it doing some good and I hope it was protecting you two cause Lord knows that's all I've tried to do since you both were little baby idjits destroyin' my house. I love you boys and don't forget what I told you, boy. Family don't always mean blood but the blood family you do still have needs you so don't forget that and…Dean? Watch out for your brother…ya idjit,'"

Reading it for the second time, Dean slowly laid the letter aside before realizing his fingers were gripping the steering wheel tighter than normal and he felt the first tear fall on his knuckle. "I'll protect Sammy, Bobby," he whispered, giving a glance in the back seat to see that Sam had curled much like he would as a child before laying his head on the wheel and finally releasing the emotions that were threatening to break him.

"Sammy and I'll be okay," he spoke to the air itself in hopes that somehow they'd be heard. "I'll look after him and I swear, we'll burn every damn Leviathan until Dick Roman's head is on a platter. I know what you always told Dad but…we were always more your sons than his in the ways that matter and…I'm sorry we didn't tell you more that…well, you know, Bobby."

Wiping his eyes a final time, Dean considered driving back to Jodi's for the night then decided against it. He and Sam needed to be here, surrounded by the cars they'd grew up playing around while a piece of Dean made a silent promise to see that house rebuilt because while he couldn't ever give Sam back normal…he could give him the only home they've ever known.

"Good bye, Bobby and…tell Mom…'hi' if you meet her," he murmured, locking the doors before rolling his jacket up to use as a pillow and falling to sleep in the front seat after checking on Sam one final time.

Exhaustion, grief and loss had taken their toll on both Winchesters so that neither were awake to feel or sense the presence that neared the car as if looking in on them as he would when they'd been boys sleeping in that one bedroom upstairs of the house.

'Take care of yourselves…idjits.'

The End