AN: All right, Kathey. I figure it's time to stop torturing you by telling you about this story and just POST IT ALREADY!
This story is a birthday present for Kathey27. She is turning sixteen on April 10th and I wanted to celebrate by giving her this massive birthday fic. I was going to post it on her actual birthday, but we're both impatient and she's going to be out of town, so here I am: starting early. For those of you that don't know, Kathey is another Dean/Ruby writer (and OH MY GOD, HER CAS/RUBY FICS - HER CAS/RUBY FICS!) and she is just one of the sweetest, most genuine girls I have ever met and her determination is something to be admired. I treasure our talks about fandom and Dean/Ruby and RPF and Mark Campbell and we even flailed about the Padababy together. I pretty much consider her one of my fandom sisters, so... Yeah, I love the girl. She's the best. Kathey, sweetheart, I do apologize if I'm making you blush with this embarrassing Mom-like speech I'm giving, but it is your SIXTEENTH birthday and I have been told that the SWEET SIXTEEN age is some special and magical age that involves big parties and even bigger hair. Just have a great day! You deserve it!
Title: I Melt With You
Summary: AU featuring Ben, an interrupted apple pie life and human!Ruby: If we're being technical, all of this began in a twenty year old yoga instructor's bedroom when Dean Winchester realizes he is, regrettably, fresh out of prophylactics so he decides to use the pull out method instead, because - yeah, that never backfires horribly, does it?
Pairing(s): Dean/Ruby. Brief mentions of passing Dean/Other and Ruby/Other.
Characters: Mostly Dean, Ben, Ruby and Sam. All other characters are fair game. The Daniels (original characters) family appears frequently. Also, PUPPIES!
Timeline: It starts way pre-series and eventually goes to about mid season four.
Spoilers: To be on the safe side, I'd say there are blanket spoilers for the entire series as a whole.
Warnings: Mental illness (depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD), past rape, rape recovery, character death, pregnancy, sexual situations, past domestic abuse.
Notes: Title from the song of the same name by Modern English.
DEDICATION: TO KATHEY! IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY! THIS IS MY PRESENT TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'M ABUSING THE CAPSLOCK FOR YOU! HOPE YOU LIKE IT! KISSES! LOVE YOU! GO EAT CAKE!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
I Melt With You
Written by Becks Rylynn
tell me your troubles and doubts
Nobody ever expects their husband to come home from a business trip, compliment the ''homemade'' roast (that has actually been made and hand delivered by the sweet old lady in the apartment next door who cooks when she gets lonely), check homework, do the bedtime ritual, and then announce over an ice cold beer, ''Oh, also: I've got a year to live. You're cool with that, right, babe?''
Okay, so maybe that's not exactly how it all goes down but that's certainly what it feels like to Ruby Winchester.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We're not there yet. You want to know where they're going? You have to know where they've been.
And, honestly, where haven't they been?
If we're being technical, all of this began in a twenty-year-old yoga instructor's bedroom, under theatrocious pink polka dot sheets when Dean Winchester realizes that he is, regrettably, fresh out of prophylactics so he decides to use the pull out method instead, because - yeah, that never backfires horribly, does it?
No, seriously. Do not try this at home, kids. It will not work. You will wind up with a big surprise, eighteen plus years of sleep deprivation, your accident will eventually be used as a plot point on motherfucking Glee, and people will reserve the right to point and laugh at you for being an idiot, which, let's face it, you are.
To summarize: He sets his fate in stone the second he lets his downstairs brain overpower his upstairs brain.
Because he is a horny dumbass.
Lisa Braeden was the bendiest weekend of his life and he has a legit scar on his back from her nails. But in the end, that's all he expects her to be. She'll always be his Gumby Girl but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't mean an awful lot.
Until she somehow tracks him down (and how the fuck did she manage to do that?) and shows up on his doorstep ten months later sobbing, holding a squirming baby, and looking like death warmed over. Suddenly, she is no longer just that one girl who could put her fucking legs behind her head like the world's naughtiest ninja (jesus christ behind her head).
She is Lisa Braeden: the mother of his child.
I know, right? What the shit?
It's not easy to understand what she's trying to say to him through all of the snot and tears, but from what he gathers, the gist is pretty much: ''I can't do this!''
She goes on and on about it, too. Like, for a long time. She tells him about how she found out she was pregnant, how she tried to find him to tell him, how she thought she could do it at first, finding out it was a boy, her adventures in Lamaze class, she goes into completely unnecessary detail about her episiotomy, she tells him about how much breastfeeding hurts and how the kid never stops crying, and then she says: ''I love him, Dean. I love him so much. But I'm not ready for this. I'm just - I'm not ready.''
She's going to give him up, she says. She wants him to have a better chance than he would have with her and she wants him to have better parents, and so she needs him to sign these papers and then they can all move on and forget about this mess. She's going to go back to school, she says with a determined nod. She is going to fix her life.
Dean interprets this as, I need you to help me do this so I can forget about the biggest mistake of my life. Which was you, by the way.
He plans on saying yes. He feels kind of bulldozed right now, but... Neither of them has any business raising a kid right now. Maybe not ever. He's actually in the middle of searching for a pen when Lisa gets a phone call from her roommate and practically shoves the tiny, breakable infant into Dean's arms, excusing herself to go take the call.
Dean looks down at the baby and can't catch his breath.
...I'll bet you know where this is going, don't you?
Dean does not sign the papers.
He's a reckless bastard, but he's a reckless bastard who takes responsibility for his illegitimate children.
His name is Benjamin Isaac Braeden. Benjamin is after Lisa's deceased father. Isaac means ''he will laugh.'' Ben is a good, strong name, and everyone needs a little laughter in their life. The only thing Dean changes about his son's name is the Braeden.
His name is Benjamin Isaac Winchester, he's barely a month old, he's so tiny, and his father already thinks he's a fucking superhero.
Dad is pissed beyond belief. He won't even look at him. Sam is confused and worried, but also slightly horror struck because he doesn't understand how it's possible that he can be related to someone who actually thinks the pull out method works. Dean is beginning to doubt himself and the choice he made. Mostly because babies, as it turns out, are hard work. They're actually really annoying, to be honest.
And nobody will help him.
Sam's busy being little Mr. Overachiever. Dad's still pissed. Strangers look at him with narrowed and judgmental eyes, like they know him, like they have a right to judge him.
So Dean goes to Bobby's. Because it's Bobby. He and Ben (and eventually Sam) seek refuge at Bobby's place for a month straight. Dad calls to check in, but never once mentions Ben. He doesn't think Dean can do it. Honestly, he doesn't really think anyone thinks he can do it. Sometimes - most of the time - he thinks they're probably right.
But then one day he walks into the hasty makeshift nursery to find Sam attempting to change Ben's diaper. He has baby powder all over himself, he's hopping on one bare foot looking pained, the kid has baby crap on his forehead, and he looks near tears. Bobby's dog, Rumsfeld, is darting around his feet, weaving in between his legs, looking worried.
Dean stares at him and can't decide whether or not to be horrified or amused. ''You hopeless fuck,'' he finally gets out through peals of laughter, and then he steps in, fixes the mess Sam has made and changes Ben's diaper in, like, a minute and a half. It would be an even minute, but Ben's a kicker (and a pisser). After, when he's got Ben in his arms, chatting to the boy about Uncle Sammy's bitchface, he realizes Bobby has been watching him from the doorway.
Bobby thinks he can do it.
Well, okay then. That's enough for Dean.
He quits hunting the next day. He doesn't even think it through. He just calls Dad up and he quits. Tells him that he won't let Ben be raised like he was.
Dad stops calling altogether after that.
In late August, Dean and Sam are still staying at Bobby's place and Dean is still desperately trying to figure out his next move.
Ben is still a tiny dude, but he's growing steadily and he's super smart. Dean is convinced that his son is smarter than every other child out there. He knows that's such a freaking braggy parent thing to say, but fuck you; his kid is better than your kid and people just need to accept that. Seriously, he's so great. He's like a little bundle of awesome wrapped in greatness. He's got superpowers. He's going to be president.
Dean is fully aware that he may not have this whole parenting thing down pat just yet, but he's certainly got the new dad glow about him, complete with perpetual bragging rights.
The one thing he's starting to feel really guilty about is that Bobby now has three extra mouths to feed. He assures Dean and Sam that he doesn't mind, but Dean can't help but feel bad for mooching off of him. He helps out in the salvage yard as much as possible and stealthily circles wanted ads late at night.
One day, late on a Sunday night, just after Ben has fallen back to sleep with Rumsfeld guarding the door, a truck lurches into the driveway, gravel crunching under the tires nosily.
Ben wakes right back up. Because Dean is busy trying to calm down both the dog and the baby, he is not privy to the beginning of the shit storm to end all shit storms. When he gets back downstairs and sprints out onto the porch, baby monitor in hand, Rumsfeld trailing after him, he finds Dad standing in the dust waving his arms angrily and ranting and raving about everything and nothing. Sam is shouting back at him loudly and Bobby is unsuccessfully trying to keep the peace.
When Sam finally stops yelling and Dean manages to insert himself in between his volatile father and brother, Dad sighs, closes his eyes briefly and huffs out, ''Are you two ready to can the dramatics or what?''
Dean blinks. He swings his gaze to Sam, who looks ready to start swinging anytime now. ''What is that supposed to mean?''
''Cut the bullshit, boys,'' Dad snaps. ''You can't run away every time we have a disagreement.
''And you can't tell me what to do anymore,'' Dean fires back. He doesn't think anyone had been expecting that to come out of his mouth. He sure wasn't.
The funny thing about this is that it's hardly the biggest, loudest, meanest fight the Winchester men have ever had. That honor still goes to the ridiculous knockdown drag out brawl of '97 that started over the Die Hard movies. It doesn't last for hours, there are no tears, there is very little physical violence, and it doesn't end with slamming doors or squealing tires or the ever present ''we're doing this for your mother'' guilt trip. It's a fairly short fight. The reason for that is probably that Dean is the one at the head of this spat, not Sam, who gets supersonic when he's pissed off.
It ends when John, frustrated to the max, says, ''You don't even know what it takes to be a parent!''
Dean responds with a cold, ''I guess that's something you and I have in common'' that slips out before he can think about it and stops everyone dead.
It all ends with Bobby pointing a shotgun at Dad and threatening to blast his ass full of buckshot if he doesn't get off his damn property.
That's about the it.
It's a chain snapping event but it feels somehow anticlimactic.
The next day, Dean goes out and gets a job at the first place that will hire him - as a busboy at a crappy diner in town. Sam laughs at him. Right up until Dean forces him to go out and get a job, too. Sam winds up working at a local grocery store. Hey, say what you want about the integrity of Dean's job and the cleanliness of the diner, but at least he doesn't have to wear a dorky ass uniform.
It's not perfect, but it's enough for now.
He thinks that's going to be his new mantra.
Enough for now.
And so that's the beginning of the story. You ain't seen nothing yet.
Life rolls along smoothly for a long, long time.
A year later, Dean and Sam are still living at Bobby's, Sam is still going to school in Sioux Falls and still has his part time supermarket job, Dean is working at both the diner and the salvage yard, Dad calls every couple of months to let them know he's alive and to try and guilt trip them back into the life, and Ben is walking.
Correction: Ben is running.
See, that's the thing about Ben Winchester. There are no in betweens for the boy. He goes straight from crawling to standing stationary to running. It scares the shit out of Dean. He was terrified the day Ben started crawling. Imagine how he feels now. Ben is still small for his age and although he has been told - numerous times - that his son is a perfectly healthy toddler, the fragility still unnerves Dean. He worries nonstop about everything concerning his son (money, whether or not he's had a healthy balanced meal, if Sam's being too rough with him, if Rumsfeld - aka Ben's best friend - is being gentle with him) so the fact that the little dude can now run places is not exactly sitting well with his dedicated daddy.
The only thing Dean can really take comfort in is the fact that while Ben is a runner, he's usually running towards the same thing: His dad.
Being a parent is strange.
Suddenly Dean finds himself thinking about all of the things that pre-Ben Dean never would have thought about for a second. Things like animal crackers and college funds and obeying speed limits. Things sure have changed out here in Winchesterville. When he goes grocery shopping nowadays the option of get in and get out ASAP doesn't even exist anymore because he's got a bouncing, babbling one-year-old sitting in the shopping cart pulling things off shelves and opening jars of jam, and those labels that tell you the nutrition values have become of dire importance. On average, a simple trip to the store is at least an hour long, and that's without factoring in time to stop at Sam's register and make fun of his uniform.
His cooking skills have been improving as well. Eating out is extremely expensive and people generally don't enjoy sitting next to squirming small children so home cooked meals have actually become something that happens, which is nice.
His love life, on the other hand...
Let's just say there is not exactly a super long line of possibilities these days. It's not like he has decided to become celibate or anything like that, but he's not the same guy he once was either. He just doesn't want that for Ben. He doesn't think a revolving door of people would be good for him. Dean is still a big believer of letting your freak flag fly, he is and always will be a staunch defender of sex, but right now isn't a good time.
Not to mention, despite their occasional initial squeals of delight, most women do not actually want to spend the evening looking at baby pictures. And dudes you hook up with in bars don't exactly love it when you have to excuse yourself about a million times to go check with the babysitter.
All in all, Dean thinks he's become one of those parents. It weirds him out. Sometimes he feels like he might be trying a little too hard to be better than his father. But, for the most part, life is good. It's relatively peaceful. Things are plodding along wonderfully.
Right up until Dean decides now would be the best time to uproot everything, which, let's be honest, is always how these things go.
The realization comes to him the day Ben takes his first steps. So far, Ben has mastered the art of standing up and he can walk if someone's holding his hands, so everyone knew that this day was coming. It happens in Bobby's kitchen. Sam's got the video camera pointed at Ben, Dean's down on the ground with his arms open and Bobby's attempting to bribe the boy with an animal cracker, because Ben has a serious addiction to them. Ben appears vastly confused by the spectacle his family is making, but he eventually takes an experimental step forward. It's shaky and wobbly, but he doesn't fall on his ass, which seems to encourage him, so he takes another step. And then another.
And then he's running straight towards his dad and falling into safe strong arms.
Somewhere amongst the cheers, something strikes Dean.
Even though there have been several times over the past year where he has felt alone, he has never been alone. There has always been Bobby and there has always, always been Sam. In fact, Dean doesn't think he has ever been truly alone. After all, there is a difference between feeling alone and actually being alone. On the one hand, it's a wonderful feeling to realize you are not alone. On the other hand, he is starting to wonder if he will ever actually be able to be alone.
Eventually Sam's going to go to college and Dean can't live with Bobby forever. Someday it's going to be just Daddy and Ben, and what if he can't do it?
Maybe it's time to try.
In early January of 2001, Dean and Ben move from the relatively small town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the big city of Chicago.
Originally, the plan had been for both Dean and Sam to move into an old house that Bobby owned in a suburb of Chicago but at the last minute Dean and Sam agreed that it would be better for Sam to stay in one place to graduate. So, Dean and Ben are off on a grand adventure together, ready to see the world, kick ass, and take names. ...All right, so it'll probably be more like they'll be attempting to live a blissfully normal and brutally independent life together, but it sounds better if you say it the other way.
Dean is not going to go around advertising this but he is actually incredibly petrified about the move and about living on his own with his son in a big city.
He has never been a city boy. He's never been away from Sam for this long. And he knows no one in this place. It is just Daddy and Ben here.
At least they have a place to stay.
The whole reason Dean decided on Chicago was because Bobby owns a property here and said Dean and Ben were free to settle there if they wanted. Honestly, when Dean accepts Bobby's offer, promising to pay rent and fix up the long vacant home, he is expecting some boarded up and vacant ramshackle house in a not-so-great neighborhood. Instead, he winds up standing on the sidewalk in front of a huge Victorian style house with Ben on his hip, staring down at the piece of paper in his hand, trying to make sense of this.
The house is massive. It's cavernous. It's three floors. It has six bedrooms, for Christ's sake. It is way too big for just the two of them. Bobby has a lot of explaining to do.
Turns out, Bobby had a wife once. Her name was Karen and this was her old family home that she inherited when her parents died but never got around to selling. Bobby hasn't been able to let go of it since she died.
The home is in a good neighborhood, it's in a good school district, and it is both amazing and creepy all at the same time. It creaks and groans like you would expect from a house built in 1885, there are spider webs and sharp corners everywhere, and it is going to take Dean fucking forever to baby proof this entire place. He's not going to lie: He doubts it's a house he'll ever be able to get used to. It's so big he keeps worrying he's going to lose Ben in it one day and the sheer size of the place seems to exacerbate the loneliness he feels without another adult around to talk to.
Dean finds a job as quickly as he can, taking the first job that's offered to him at a nearby garage and gets Ben into the best daycare he can afford. He has the name, number and address of a friend of Bobby's who lives in the city but he is determined to do this on his own, so he stuffs the piece of paper in a drawer in the kitchen and forgets about it. He can do this. He has to be able to do this.
Bobby's friend's name is Joey Daniels. He's a retired hunter who lives in Chicago with his wife and daughters. Bobby has told Dean that Joey and his wife, Victoria, are willing to help him with whatever he needs. Bobby tells him that they're good people. Trustworthy people.
He has also been told that he has met this man before. Once. When he was eight years old, he was snatched up by a poltergeist along with one of Joey's girls. Dean has no recollection of this incident. Concussions will do that to you.
Dean doesn't intent to accept their kindness. He doesn't know these people and while he trusts Bobby's judgment, he's been wary of a lot of hunters ever since Ben was born, so he doesn't call the Daniels family.
Until one day, about three weeks in, when he realizes he has no idea where to find a kid's clothing store that won't eat up two months worth of paychecks and calls them out of desperation.
Long story short: They're pretty awesome. The first time Dean shows up on their doorstep, sheepish, with a kid on his hip, he is taken aback by their genuine kindness.
Joey Daniels is everything Dean will never admit he wishes his father was: Normal. He's a bar owner who immediately offers to help Dean with renovations to the house and helps him find a better paying job at a different garage that is even closer to home within a week. His wife, Victoria, is a midwife who often randomly switches to other languages in the middle of a sentence and makes the best homemade cookies Dean has ever tasted. She welcomes Dean and Ben with open arms, giving them both big hugs whenever she sees them.
Beth is their eldest adopted daughter. She's his age, a hard partying wannabe actress living at home with her parents because she struck out in New York and ran out of money, and she makes Dean incredibly uncomfortable.
Joey's brothers are constant presences in the Daniels' residence. There's Grant, who's barely fifteen years older than Beth and who must suffer from selective mutism or something because Dean has never actually heard him speak. And then there's Rufus Turner, Joey and Grant's half brother that lives about a mile away from Joey and tends to show up without calling first. When in the same room as Dean, he spends most of his time pestering him about Bobby, who he shares some mysterious past with.
There's another daughter as well, a younger girl who is attending UCLA in California. Dean doesn't know much about her. Just her name, that she's an art major, and that everyone talks about her very quietly. He doesn't know what happened with her, but something went down there, because Joey and Victoria talk about her in hushed, worried tones and they always call her at a certain time of day, no matter what. Dean never asks.
It's not his business.
Life in Chicago is mostly one note for the first couple months.
It's not that it's boring. It's just not that exciting either. Dean works at the garage during the day, picks up Ben from daycare, makes dinner, spends an insane amount of time trying to get Ben to sleep, and then he usually passes out in front of the TV. On the weekends, they'll explore the city and then Victoria will come over and drag them over to her house for dinner. It's lonely. That's the problem. There's no Bobby and no Sam. Just a one-year-old who - while awesome - isn't super great at holding conversations. The days become predictable and routine and the time may pass by at an agonizing snail speed, but goddamn - look at him.
At least he knows now that he can do this.
In late January, about two weeks after arriving in Chicago, he turns twenty-two. He talks to Sam on the phone, gets a voicemail from Dad, and then Victoria shows up on his doorstep with a cake. When he opens the door, she blows on a noisemaker, throws confetti at him and chirps out, ''Happy birthday!''
In the living room, Ben stops what he's doing to throw his arms up in the air and yell out, ''Yay!''
He has no idea how she knew it was his birthday but the cake is one of the best he has ever had so Dean counts this birthday as a win for him.
In mid February, he is sick and tired of being bored so he makes a list of projects to do around the house and slowly begins to make his way through them. He's domesticated. In between his bouts of being Ty Pennington, he hooks up with a guy from work a few times and it's fun for a bit, but it ends pretty quickly when he realizes that while the sex may be good, they go together like oil and water. The guy is embarrassingly awful and awkward around Ben, seemingly very uncomfortable that Dean has a kid at all, and there is just no future there.
Slowly, things begin to pick up as the time goes on and Dean begins to break out of the shell he hadn't known he had been hiding in. He makes a few acquaintances at work, he and Ben start going over to Joey and Victoria's for dinner every Sunday night, he is already halfway through the list of home improvement projects he made for himself, and Ben is absolutely thriving. During the weekdays, he goes to this great little daycare that Victoria recommended (way better than the one Dean had Ben in at first) and he makes friends. He's still small for his age and his speech is just a touch underdeveloped for a child his age, but he makes out great at daycare.
The time starts to go by faster.
In early April, feeling happy and weightless for the first time in ages, Dean decides that he and Ben need a dog. He thinks it's one of the best ideas he's ever had. He's very proud of himself for thinking of it. Ben loves dogs. Like, full on adores them. Every morning while he is eating breakfast and Dean is getting them both ready for the day, he sits on the living room floor and watches Clifford the Big Red Dog. On the weekends, he watches Fox and the Hound on a constant loop. Hell, the kid still doesn't understand that Rumsfeld doesn't live with them anymore, often peering up at Dean and asking, ''Puppy, Daddy? Puppy?''
There are times when Dean thinks that Ben might actually think that he is a dog. Because...yes, okay? Sometimes Ben barks. It's weird, but not any weirder than that phase Sammy went through when he was four and thought he was a unicorn.
When they step into the local animal shelter on a mild April day, Ben gets this adoring look on his face and his eyes double in size. It's kind of like the look Dean would get on his face if he ever got the chance to watch two hot chicks wrestling in a giant pie. He loses track of how long they spend at the shelter while Ben carefully asks about each and every dog, learns their name (and then promptly forgets it), waves at them and says ''Hi, I'm Ben!''
But in the end they get their dog.
Dean has his eyes on some of the bigger dogs, like a Golden Retriever or a Canaan. There's a fully grown adult Husky that looks pretty badass. But then he turns his back for less than three seconds and when he turns back, his son has managed to find the single girliest dog in the entire joint and fall in love with it. In the span of five seconds, Ben has locked eyes with a tiny puppy and Dean swears he can hear 'love lifts us up where we belong' playing somewhere.
''Shit,'' he mutters under his breath.
The puppy cuts its eyes to him. The melting is pretty instantaneous on Dean's part. He takes a step back and grapples for words, trying to look away and failing miserably.
''Double shit,'' he sighs.
The woman helping them is too busy laughing at them to tell them anything about the dog.
''Daddy,'' Ben breathes out seriously. ''My. Puppy.''
She - yep, first girl in the boys' clubhouse - is a five-week-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the amount of cuteness that she can pack into the disgusting act of licking herself should be outlawed.
Dean's already got Ben and his I want something face, he doesn't need a puppy controlling him. But Ben already loves her unconditionally, so Dean's just going to have to suck it up.
The shelter had her name as Bootsy, which is just about the stupidest thing Dean has ever heard so the first order of business is to change her name to something suitable. Not as easy as it sounds. Dean is rooting for the name Zeppy, after Led Zeppelin, because he thinks that name is all kinds of kick ass and perhaps it will also teach Ben about the awesomeness of Zeppelin. Ben says no and gives him a look.
While trying to come up with a name for the pup, Dean learns a valuable lesson: When attempting to name the dog something that is not clichéd and Disney-esque, it is not a good idea to let your toddler watch Fox and the Hound.
''DADDY!'' Ben screeches wildly, arms wrapped around the poor dog's neck. ''COPPER! PUPPY'S COPPER! PUPPY'S COPPER!''
There's really no way out of that.
The dog seems to agree with this name choice because she licks Ben's face and sends the boy into fits of giggles.
Well, Dean thinks. It could be worse.
All right then. Copper it is.
As it turns out, Copper is probably the best dog in the history of the world. She hardly ever barks or growls (the only time she makes noise is when somebody rings the doorbell), she never bites, she's incredibly gentle, and she'll pretty much just sit there and let you do whatever. She certainly won't be winning any awards for world's best guard dog or anything like that, but she's the perfect dog for a toddler. And boy is Dean forever glad that she's such a patient girl. Ben loves her to pieces, but he hasn't yet mastered the whole being gentle with living things part of life. He's always tugging on her collar or holding her in a tight hug. She never even looks at him wrong. She just doesn't give a shit.
She may look like a canine-ified Disney Princess, but she earns her Winchester name by befriending Ben. (And Sam, because when he comes out to visit he falls head over heels for the little girl and she trails after him like she has some sort of crush on him.)
Life is awesome-ly complete now. He's got his son and his brother and his pint sized dog (who honestly seems to believe she's their mother), he's got a house, a job, friends... He's got normalcy. His focus is on being a dad and a brother and a respectable citizen. Sam's focus is on school. Ben's focus is on Copper and animal crackers. (Dad's focus is on hunting The Demon with or without the help of his sons.)
All is right in the world.
Dean takes care of Ben and Copper, Copper takes care of Ben and Dean, and Ben takes care of his stuffed animal that he has (heartfuckingshatteringly) named 'Mommy'.
In early May, Sam turns eighteen and Dean sends him some porn and a really bad CD that the kid had been asking for. In late May, Ben turns two and Dean throws him a big birthday bash in the backyard of Karen Singer's old house. Some of the kids from daycare are there, Bobby and Sam make the long trip down, Joey and Victoria show up bearing way too many gifts and way too much food, Rufus makes a surprise appearance, and even Beth makes a brief drop in to give Ben a gift (it's a designer outfit that is two sizes too small and Victoria mutters something in Spanish before she takes it back, throws it back at her daughter and warns her to stop throwing her money away or she'll be living at home forever. Beth is flustered and throws her lemonade at Dean's head when he dares to snicker at her. He barely has time to duck.)
Dad sends a gift. There's no card and he doesn't call, but Dean knows the gift is from him. It's a football. Every once and awhile, Dean will think about when he used to toss around a football with his father in the backyard of the Winchester family home in Lawrence, Kansas before everything was shot to shit. Maybe he's not the only one.
It's a good day.
Copper guards Ben like a protective mother, even though she's still a baby herself. Bobby and Rufus nearly get in a food fight, but seem to resolve whatever issues they have with each other after Rufus attempts to throw one of Victoria's pies in Bobby's face, only for Bobby to side step. (Poor Joey.) Joey and Victoria are ecstatic because they've just been told that their youngest is coming home for the summer and they show their happiness by giving presents. Sam is happy to be around family again. And Ben has a great time.
Dean is counting the day as a success.
At the end of May, Sam gets out of school and because he's going to have to go through extra year of high school due to all of his absences over the years, he's not busy gearing up for college so he opts to spend the summer in Chicago with Dean and Ben. Dean is looking forward to a nice, relaxing summer with his brother and his son. Maybe they'll take Ben to the beach or teach Copper how to high five. Beth wants to take them to Manhattan for a weekend (and most likely force them to sit through a Broadway show). Victoria wants to teach Dean how to bake. They've got shit to do. The year has been a whirlwind of new experiences so far and honestly, Dean is just hoping to be able to unwind for the few months.
He does not get the relaxing summer of his dreams.
Because in June, there's Ruby.
end chapter one
AN: Chapter title from the song ''Don't You Forget About Me'' by Simple Minds.