There wasn't much talking when Bobby died. There was a lot of drinking, there was a lot of silence, there was even a lot of tears, but all of which passed silently. Two brothers sitting and mourning the loss of a mentor, a friend, a trusted ally, and above all else, a man who had acted like a father when theirs, when in his revenge hazed mind, was unable to be one.
Talking wasn't a Winchester strong point.
But it happened. It happened in their third week of silence, drinking, and mourning. They were sitting on the porch of Rufus' hide out, watching the sun go down, drinking, and stewing, each trying to come to terms with Bobby's death, each leaving the other to his own thoughts because experience taught Sam that Dean didn't want to talk after something major happened, and if pushed Dean was easy to push to the brink, and that usually landed a punch or two square on Sam's jaw. Sam usually went to Bobby in these situations, got it out, talked it through, got through the emotions so he was able to be there and be ready when Dean was ready, but with Bobby gone and no one to talk to and Lucifer right beside pressing onto his thoughts and feelings, Sam didn't know if he trusted himself to say anything to Dean.
On the other side of the brother equation, experience had taught Dean that Sam wanted to rehash everything, talk it out, feel the emotions, and get it out, and Dean wasn't able to do that right away, wasn't able to allow himself to FEEL with the intensity that was a natural part of Dean. Feelings overwhelmed Dean and he never knew what to do with them, so he buried them, he hid them and tried to drink them away.
But this time, something powerful overcame Dean while they sat there on the porch and he inhaled deeply and said, "Remember that summer Bobby made me get my GED?" he asked and took another sip of his beer.
Sam turned to face his brother, a little surprised by the gruff voice-it had been days since he had heard his brother say anything more than, "another beer".
The memory flooded back to Sam in an instant and he nodded. "Yeah I remember. Why?"
Dean chuffed and looked down at his beer bottle. "Bobby pushed and pushed me. Made me get up in the morning, and study. I'd try to put it off, I'd go for a run, or I'd go work on cars, but come supper time the book would be on the table waiting for me."
"Bobby never did let go of something he felt was important." Sam said and swallowed hard. It was a trait that landed their beloved friend in a coffin.
"That's for damn sure." Dean replied softly. Sam wondered for a moment if Dean was thinking the same thing. And then Dean started talking again. "I came up with every single excuse in the book for not getting my GED." He took another drink. "Truth was, I didn't think I'd be able to get it. That's why I didn't want to take it. The thought of you and Bobby finding out that I was dumber than a box of rocks—"
"Dean." Sam interrupted.
"No, that's what I thought. It's what I thought for a long time, even after I got my GED." Dean shrugged and took another sip of his beer. "But I didn't want you guys to know what I already knew." If Sam had been a dog the fur on his back would have been standing at attention at Dean's statement. There were thing in life you could say and things you could get away with, but calling Dean stupid wasn't one of them. And the comment was being compounded by Lucifer sitting on the railing in front of Sam nodding and saying Every monster from here to the moon knew that. Dean's the stupid one. Where've you been Sammy boy? Sam closed his eyes and pushed on his scar forcing Lucifer to disappear.
Lucifer had forced Sam's attention away for long enough that he had missed the beginning of Dean's sentence, "—a cookout. Complete with beer, pie from Mrs. Thomas down the road, and burgers on the grill. He promised me that I would get all of that if I passed my GED. Remember?"
"I studied after that. Tried hard. You remember helping me study?"
"You were a difficult student. I think at one point you chucked a pencil at my head."
"You were being stupid."
"I was not! I was asking one of the questions out of the book!" Sam said incredulously, for the first time since Bobby's death, being able to lose himself in something else, something less painful and non-Lucifer related.
"Yeah whatever." Dean said.
"And if my memory serves…"
"And God knows it does…." Dean mumbled and Sam chose to ignore the comment.
"You also threw the book at me."
"You deserved that too."
"No, you were frustrated."
"Yeah, at you, ergo I threw the book at you, because you were being a dick."
Sam gave a short chuckled and shook his head. "Whatever you want to believe dude." He said and took a dip of his beer.
Dean got quiet and watched off into the distance, the mirth the two enjoyed fading quickly. "But Bobby promised, you know? And when he promised something he kept it." The words "unlike Dad" hung between them. "And I passed that son of a bitch." Sam tried to hide a smile at Dean's words. Dean always tried to pretend that book learning didn't mean anything to him, that intelligence began and ended with the understanding of a gun, but truth be told, Dean craved knowledge, craved understanding, and Sam believed, secretly wished that he had been the one to be able to go to college.
"I remember. You bounced around like a girl."
"It was manly jumping."
"Whatever you want to call it."
"I can still taste that burger, I can still smell the beer, and that pie. Mrs. Thompson could bake a pie." Dean said closing his eyes.
"Yeah it was a good day." Sam agreed.
"The best day. Bobby was like that you know? He made promises, kept them, and he never skimped. He always gave us the best he could."
"Yeah, he did." Sam said remembering. "He used to send me care packages when I was at school." Sam admitted. Dean turned to his brother, amazement in his eyes.
"Yeah. He'd send me money, food, sometimes a book he knew I'd be interested in, sometimes he'd send me updates on you and Dad, and it was nice. It was like I had a home to go home to if I wanted." Sam paused and allowed himself to think back on his time in Stanford, it seemed so long ago….lifetimes ago…and the memories felt like they belonged to some other guy, some young naïve guy who thought he knew everything and knew nothing. "He'd call sometimes too. Would call and say, 'Hey idjit, how's school.' Always made me feel less alone." Sam's voice dropped off and the two sat there staring into the distance.
Dean stayed silent for a long while and the silence made Sam worry that he had shared the wrong thing. Dean had a temper and Stanford usually triggered that temper. Those years were just simply years they didn't talk about much, and Sam wondered if 8 years still wasn't sufficient time to keep mum on the subject. "He always had a home for us, always, no matter what stupid thing we had done." Dean said quietly, and not only referring to the things in the distant past.
Sam felt tears sting the back of his eyes and he took a swig from the bottle to force the emotions from his throat. However, neither his seemingly bottomless self-control nor the bottle of beer could keep him from admitting out loud what he'd wanted to say since they lost Bobby. "I miss him." Sam said gruffly tears coloring his normally steady voice. It was just about time for the two of them to go inside, to separate beds, separate thoughts, and separate ways of grieving; the sun was falling below the tree line, casting shadows over the brothers, and bathing the trees in an orange glow.
"Me too, Sammy, me too." Dean ignored the tear falling down his cheek, and Sam ignored the sound of anguish in his brother's voice.
Dean got up quickly, opened the door and held it open for his brother, who silently followed his older brother's lead. It was true both of them knew each other's limitations, but in that knowledge, each knew they had to bend a little in order to save the other one. There was no Bobby around anymore to pick up the slack. They were truly all that was left.