I've been watching Dean since we returned to the motel room and though it is apparent he wants me to show myself again, I refuse to do so. I know I'm being cantankerous but I feel I've earned that right. I'm old and even better than that, I'm dead. I think I can damn well pout whenever I want to. And that's what I'm doing, sitting in the corner, sulking like a petulant child.
I spent months just trying to get the boys to notice I was here. I thought it was what they wanted. How many times had I listened to them talk themselves out of it while I was screaming at the top of my lungs: I'm right here, ya idjits!
I don't know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn't what I got tonight. Dean's disappointment in me….it hurt. There was work to do, unfinished business. I couldn't just let them do it alone, could I? I had to stay and help. Dean, of all people, should understand that.
Dean had waited until Sam fell asleep before he retrieved the flask from the trunk of the clunker of the week but just because he was ready to talk didn't mean I was. So, I watch him as he sits at the foot of his bed, turning the flask over and over in his hands, and looking up expectantly every so often to see if I'm there.
Sam begins to move restlessly in his bed and Dean's attention, as well as mine, is drawn to his brother. Sam has slept better since Cas did whatever the hell it was he did in that psych ward but he still has the occasional bad dream. I imagine he always will, same as his brother. Dean thinks he hides his so well but Sam knows. I'm not the only thing haunting them both.
Sam jerks awake and realizes his brother is watching him from the opposite bed.
"Bad dream, Sammy?"
"Something like that, yeah."
Sam presses his hands to his eyes and is silent. After a moment he scoots to the end of his bed and sees the flask in Dean's hand. He glances around the room.
"Still no Bobby?"
Dean gives a half-hearted smile. "I think I really pissed him off."
"I think you hurt his feelings, Dean."
Dean appears to study the carpet and I'm beginning to wonder what he finds so damn interesting there when he quietly says, "What about my feelings, Sam? What about yours?"
A puzzled look crosses Sam's face. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, we already lost him once. I don't know if I can go through that again. Can you?"
Dean tosses the flask onto the bed and stalks to the window. He stares out into the darkness and I see the weariness in his stance, tears glittering at the corners of his eyes. I realize I have been a damned old fool.
"There's nothing that says we have to, Dean."
Ah, Sam, forever the optimist. Always looking for a way, refusing to quit when everyone around him knows there is no other way except for the one staring him right in the face, the one that says sooner or later, that flask is going in the fire.
"It can't work, Sammy. It's not the natural order of things."
"You said that before, Dean, but what the hell does that mean?"
"Something Death said, back when I wore his ring….to get your soul back." Dean turns to face his brother and I almost wish he hadn't. I can't stand seeing my boys in so much pain…pain that I've caused. "How many times have we screwed with the natural order of things, Sammy? It never ends well and it never will."
Sam jumps up from the bed, grabs the flask and presses it into Dean's hand.
"You don't know that, Dean." His voice is pleading. "It's Bobby."
Dean stares at the flask and I see his hands are trembling.
No matter how much I hated that damn Swayze flick, I'd give anything to pull a Whoopi right about now and put my arms around both of those boys. But I can't do that, no matter how much I may want to, so I do the only thing I can.
Sam notices me first, gives his brother a nudge. Dean looks up at me and his eyes fill with tears.
"Bobby, I'm sorry."
One lone tear escapes, hitting the flask Dean still holds in his hands. I feel the agony of that tear to my very core.
"You were right, Dean. I shouldn't have stayed."
"No, I shouldn't have said the things I did. I should have been glad to see you. I've been wanting to see you." Dean's voice breaks and I'm pretty sure if I still had a beating heart it would be breaking too.
"We can find a way to make this work, Bobby." Sam glances at his brother for reassurance. "We have to try."
"Do you really think that's possible?" Dean's eyes are full of cautious hope and I know that he wants to believe.
I want to believe too but I can't. Not after what I've seen tonight. Even though his words hurt me, Dean was right. This can't end well and I know that now. I chose to stay because I made myself believe they needed my help but what I really didn't want to admit was the fact that I wasn't ready to go. I didn't want to leave my boys alone.
But I can't tell them the awful truth, not yet. I still have time. So I shrug my shoulders and say, "Anything's possible, Dean. Besides, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon unless you light that flask up."
Dean nods and gently tucks the flask away in his shirt pocket. "Well, then, I guess we've got work to do."
"That's what I'm here for, ya idjit."
Sam gives Dean a sideways glance and is rewarded with a genuine smile.
And that's what it's really all about, isn't it? The real reason I'm still here. It's not the job, the damn Leviathans, or the perks of being Casper the friendly ghost hunter. I'm here for my boys, to make sure they're alright…..to see that they somehow survive this mess. They're my unfinished business.
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