Chuck's been getting invited to a lot of high profile writer things. He thinks it's odd. He knows that he's not exactly the next Great American Novelist. He puts out a book every few months, they're all paperbacks, and despite his meteoric rise from the level just above obscurity, where he could mostly make his mortgage payment to where he is now, on talk shows and in magazines and with a big beefy security guard that had totally not seen Becky Rosen coming while they were at Comicon this year, he is somehow deemed worthy of being invited to things with real writers.
He's even getting a little bit of praise for the whole prophet arc. Apparently it's all brilliantly meta.
Not that he isn't looked down on by a lot of them. He got seated next to some smug Newberry bastard at a Charity dinner a couple months ago who, for some reason, had wanted to interrogate him about his process, whether or not his characters ever spoke to him, and if he aspired to write anything with the potential for a legacy.
It was times like that when Chuck wished he could tell the truth. That his process was loading up on anti-migraine medication and trying to keep himself separate from the divine visions of his Masculine But Vulnerable Main Character making sweet soap-opera love to his Bad Ass Former Angel Sidekick suddenly turned Fish Out of Water Human. That he didn't really talk to his characters, but three of them were extorting him. And that he was pretty comfortable with his legacy of being the next fucking gospel in the Bible because he was a fucking Prophet of the Lord, Conduit of the Divine Word, Scribe of Heaven, you smirky kiddy-book motherfucker.
But the salmon had been good, the wine had been good, and one of the charity plate buyers was actually a fan, so it had still been an enjoyable night. And then he had gone home to not just a vision of Sam's satanic hallucinations, but Dean and Cas's post "I-love-you" tender and tentative blowjobs.
And then he had to write about it.
Chuck would feel like it's a little homophobic for the Dean-and-Cas visions to freak him out the way they do if it weren't for how digital-surround-sound his visions are. When he'd been getting visions of Dean and Anna he'd been able to feel her desperation, feel Dean's regret… but he'd also been able to feel Anna's boobs. He'd used Sam finally succumbing to Ruby in his um… personal fantasies… for months before he'd found out that everyone he thought that he'd made up was freaking real.
And it's way more awkward now that it's not Dean and some random blowjob girl he found outside a bar, or Sam and a demon.
It's not until after the release of "Changing Channels" that Chuck starts to feel like more prophet than voyeur.
The Apocalypse arc is getting him some actual literary respect, which is nice. And now that their lives and relationships are all settling, Chuck hardly ever gets… erotic visions of the Winchesters. Which is a relief. It's awkward to divinely peep in on a married woman and her husband. Especially because Chelsea and Sam get up to all kinds of things that even now Chuck's pretty sure he couldn't afford from Mistress Magda.
As vanilla as they are, it's even more awkward to watch Dean and Cas, with the panting and the kissing and the endless hair stroking. There's a whole section of the Domestic Arc that Chuck refers to in his mind as the "Big Gay Gospel". He hasn't mentioned any of the post Post Apocalypse Domesticity Arc to his publisher but, given the givens, he's started… slanting the Cas/Dean relationship. So far he's getting away with it.
He's starting to catch up too. He was still having visions of the past up until Sophie was born and then boom- suddenly it was all Heaven and Hell. Gabriel had restructured Heaven, delegated a lot of things to the choirs of angels, and ascendeded Ash and a few people like him. He'd also waged a mostly off the board war against Hell, and was winning. Crowley had secured absolute power over Hell, but "King of Hell" wasn't the position that it used to be.
The way the visions work is changing to. Heaven and Hell still give him shrieking headaches, but the images of the Winchesters aren't terrible seething spikes through his temples anymore. They're just quick blips, no more painful than a quick shock: Sophie's birthday party. Chelsea round with the soon-to-see-the-world twins. The small party that Chelsea basically forces Dean and Cas to have to celebrate their engagement/marriage. Sophie bizarrely scarring a bully with her powers at the playground. Dean and Sam going on one last hunt together when Dean realizes that there is a schtriga in the pediatrics unit. Dean slowly shifting his focus at work until he's the only person under sixty in the Hospice unit.
But he can still feel them. Cas's growing understanding of his mortality. The acute pain Dean sometimes feels when his niece kisses him goodnight because he won't have children of his own. Chelsea's warm happiness that someone like Sam fell into her life. Sam's burning gratitude that this is how his life ended up.
Chuck doesn't really check in outside of the visions. For one thing- the Winchesters hate him. For another, it's hard to hang out with people and then go home and write a book about them.
But he gets a lot of advance prophecy information about the retirement party that Chelsea, Sam, Dean and Cas are planning for Bobby. He wants to go. And he knows the date and place.
And he knows what's going to happen after the party, and even though he can't be there for that part, he still wants to be around for it.
So he ships a couple of very expensive gifts out to Mitchell, timing it so they get there a couple days before he crashes the party. Then he hops a plane to South Dakota.
They've been working really hard on this party. Cas, Chelsea, and Karen have cooked and cooked. Dean and Sam have made all kinds of calls. And it's going well, but there's no getting around the weird factor of mixing the Hunters and the Clearwaters.
The first big weird thing is when a Kilgerny and Rodriguez show up and announce that Sorenson is dead. There's a quick toast and a couple muttered "son of a bitch"s but before the party kicks back up. Dean notices how scandalized Martha (who very obviously came without Clyde) seems to be by this, and he also overhears Chelsea gently explaining that sometimes… Hunters die. Everyone here respected Sorenson, but he was never going to have a retirement party.
Stories about Sorenson become stories in general. Everyone's got a story about their most recent hunt. A couple people have stories about their most noticeable injury. Ellen has lost an eye to witches, but she's bursting with pride over Jo, who has been helping Sam put together a Hunter's Auxillary network of lawyers, psychiatrists, cops and even a few doctors. Jo had been considering becoming a cop, but after Martin killed himself in the loony bin a couple years ago, had decided to go for mental health.
"Dean? Do you mind grabbing me a beer?" Cas asks, laughing. He's letting Sophie stand on his feet while he twirls her like they're dancing. She's been doing really well with the introduction of the twins into her life, but Dean and Cas have privately agreed that nothing solves the problem of a slightly overlooked five year old like extra attention from her uncles.
"Yeah, okay," Dean says setting out for the kitchen.
Sam and Chelsea's brand new baby girls are really making the rounds at the party. Chelsea has Emily, who Dean can recognize by her little pink hat, and is handing her over to Rufus. Dean can see the little girl's smile from here. Tanya is holding Lizzie, who has a green hat. She's talking to Garth, who is obviously tipsy, red cheeked and loose off of one wine cooler. Dean overhears him as he passes by. "-can only be seen when you're drunk and has to be killed with a sword blessed in a clear spring. So I asked this cook at a Japanese restaurant to read the blessing, and I got a bottle of Evian and tequila, and I just went for it."
Dean gives Sam and Bobby a quick smile before grabbing a beer out of the fridge and heading back to the living room. When he passes Tanya and Garth again Tanya is laughing and has her hand on Garth's arm as Garth says "Yeah, I've got the sword in my car."
He's not sure if he's more horrified at Tanya flirting or at Tanya flirting with Garth.
He stops by them, like he's just checking in and holds out the beer bottle. "Here, trade ya."
Tanya hands him the baby and he hands her the beer. Garth opens it for her with his lighter then winks at Dean when she laughs. Dean shakes his head warningly, adjusts Lizzie in his arms and goes back to the kitchen.
"I think I just facilitated Tanya going out to Garth's car to see his magic sword," Dean reports, grabbing a replacement beer for Cas.
"Well. He's a tough little guy," Bobby says. "He'll live." He holds out his arms. "Which of my littlest granddaughters you got?"
"Lizzie," Dean answers, handing her over. "So, Sam, can you tell them apart yet?"
"Dude, they're my daughters," Sam scoffs.
"Really? I kind of assumed that identical twins just swapped names back and forth until they got old enough to remember who they were by themselves."
"This one is Lizzie," Sam answers in his soft baby voice, bending way down to kiss her forehead. He grips her teeny foot in his hand as he continues, "And I can tell because," –he peels her itty bitty sock off–" I drew a circle on her foot with a blue marker." He tickles her sides gently. "Yes I did. Yes I did!"
Dean and Bobby snort.
"Are you serious?" Dean asks, watching Lizzie kick at Sam as he tickles her.
"I get two hours of sleep a night, man. "If I wake up and know what state I'm in, it's a good morning. I simplified."
"Fine. But I'm going to tell them about this when they're old enough to mock you for it."
"How's Sophie doing with two new ones in the house?" Bobby asks.
"Fine, mostly," Sam yawns. "She's gotten a little teary over us needing to do baby stuff when she asks for something, but nothing too major. I think the psychic thing helps her understand. And she mentioned that you and she have had a couple conversations about being the older sibling."
"Yeah," Dean chuckles. "It's fun trying to explain to her that you are my little brother."
"It still doesn't fix a lot of things. She brought a book to our room last night and just started crying "you're too tired!". I think I felt my heart break."
"Poor thing," Bobby says, toying with Lizzie's little hands.
"She's tired too. Everyone's on edge."
"We'll take her for a weekend," Dean offers. "Or come over and take care of the twins so you and Sophie can spend some time together."
"That would be really great," Sam says. "I'll talk to Chelsea, we'll plan something. Something that includes a nap."
Bobby laughs and rocks Lizzie. "You know… I just… I still can't believe this is where we ended up. Three grandkids. In-laws. Damn retirement party instead of a quick salt and burn before everyone else goes on to the next battle."
"You got both, actually," Dean says lightly.
"Yeah," Bobby huffs. "There's that. Just… hard to watch all those guys out there… and feel like you dodged a bullet."
Sam pats Bobby's arm and takes Lizzie from him, kissing her forehead quickly. "Yeah. Well. We served our time, Bobby. And we got out."
"Uh huh. That's what I didn't see coming," Bobby sighs.
"I did!" An unexpected, but recognizable voice cuts in. Dean turns around and looks down at the increasingly hesitant Chuck Shirley.
"Prophet humor? No?" Chuck squawks. "Okay… I'll just…uh…"
Dean sighs and hands Chuck the second beer he had meant to bring Cas.
"Hey, Chuck," Sam laughs. "What brings you to South Dakota?"
"The party mostly," Chuck replies. "Thought a little celebration was in order."
"We invite you?" Bobby asks.
"Not exactly. I sent you some big leather arm chairs and Karen invited me."
"Fair enough," Bobby shrugs.
Dean doesn't bother to catch up with Chuck. He doesn't care what Chuck's up to and Chuck has a front row seat to what he's up to. He grabs Cas a third beer and goes back to the living room, where Cas is still spinning with Sophie perched on his toes.
"Can I take a break, sweetheart?" Cas asks. Sophie graciously agrees and wanders over to Chelsea, who is now talking to Martha and Rufus. Rufus looks like he's expounding on Bobby's theme. No one ever expected to hold a Hunter's granddaughter.
"Is Bobby having a nice time?" Cas asks.
"I think he's a little overwhelmed, actually," Dean says. "Oh. And Chuck's here."
"Oh," Cas replies, disinterestedly. "Have you spoken to Martha? She and Clyde are going to get divorced. She is very sensitive about it. Be careful if you do talk to her."
"What did you say?"
"Nothing. Sophie asked her about it. She's getting very powerful."
Dean scoots Cas over to a couch. They talk to Rodriguez, and each end up with a twin for a little while. Dean wonders what causes that baby smell. Chuck proves that he's not completely useless by writing Sam and Jo a big fat check for their Hunter Auxillary.
"Why don't you call it Hunter's Helper?" Martha asks after Sam explains it to her. "Too cute?"
"Hunter's Helper is whiskey," half the room answers her.
"Oh," Martha replies.
Sam falls asleep on the couch at nine. Chelsea conks out next to him at ten and Sophie climbs into her lap and goes to sleep a little later. Everyone let's them be. Dean can't help but chuckle at all the grizzled Hunters passing around the baby girls, letting them grab often-broken fingers and cooing at them through scarred faces. It takes several minutes of watching Rodriguez bounce Emily while he talks to Ellen before Dean realizes.
He doesn't think of himself as a Hunter anymore.
He's banking on a future longer than the next case. He's thinking about years with Cas. He's thinking about a retirement party. He's imagining Sophie going off to college and teaching the twins to drive. He's hoping Sam and Chelsea talk themselves into at least one more kid.
He's looking at a room full of former compatriots, living on borrowed time, doing the only thing he was ever told he could do, and he's thinking to himself- "We got out."
Cas yawns hugely next to him. Dean turns to him and smiles.
"You're deep in thought," Cas says.
"I'll tell you at home." Dean replies, kissing him quickly.
"We should probably go home soon." Cas yawns again. "I think we've tired everyone out."
"Yeah. People are starting to break up," Dean agrees. "We'll head out in a little bit."
"Did Garth and Tanya ever come back?"
Dean leans back in the chair and lets himself settle against Cas more than he usually does in public. He looks out over the room and realizes that Chuck is watching them. He's been doing that, at least a little bit, all night. It's freaking creepy. Especially because the last time Dean talked to Chuck face to face it was God speaking through him. But when he comes over Dean and Cas sit and try to talk to him.
"How's fame and fortune, Chuck?" Dean asks.
"Any chicks in writing?"
"Dean," Cas scolds.
"Um… not as many as I was hoping," Chuck replies.
They chat. It's not as awkward as it could be. Most of the Hunters are gone by midnight. Chelsea's offered free rooms at the hotel and everyone has taken her up on it. The party is probably going onward into the night back in Sioux Falls, but it's not Dean's world anymore. Sophie wakes up as Ellen and Rufus head out. She comes over to where Dean and Cas are still talking to Chuck. She rubs her eye and pats Chuck's knee. When he finishes his sentence instead of turning to her right away she sighs.
"Mister? Mister, you're in my way," she pats his hand and leaps backward with a gasp after her fingers touch his skin. She presses both palms to her mouth.
"Sweetie, you okay?" Cas leans forward, grabbing her elbow.
"That was my fault," Chuck says. "I should have known that was going to happen."
Dean watches suspiciously as Chuck holds his hand out to Sophie, like he's letting a dog sniff it. Sophie shoots Cas an unsure look then slowly moves one hand from her mouth. She holds out one finger and touches it to Chuck's knuckle. Then after a moment, sets her other fingertips to the back of his hand. Her eyes widen.
"Wow," she says.
Chuck nods and pulls his hand back. Sophie stares at him for a few moments, then runs behind Dean's legs and laughs. Dean pulls her into his lap. "You okay, Soph?"
"Mmmhmm. Chuck is shiny inside," she giggles, much too loud. It's her trying to keep a secret giggle. Dean can tell that Cas recognizes it too, but they both let it go. Sophie's happy, Chuck is… being Chuck and there is only so much that Dean really needs to know about the Prophet and the Psychic meeting.
Chuck goes home. Dean and Cas get the twins settled in their car seats and Sophie into her shoes ad jacket before they wake up Sam and Chelsea. They hug Bobby and Karen goodnight with a quick "See you Friday".
The drive home is quiet. Cas fiddles with the radio. They wonder about Garth and Tanya. Dean concludes that they might be just weird enough to work out. Cas wonders if it would make Garth their brother in law if it did. Dean tries not to think about it.
"So," Cas asks as he steps inside and kicks off his shoes. "What were you going to tell me when we got home?"
Dean settles his hands around Cas's waist and pulls him close. Cas kisses him. "Nothing major… just watching everyone… it was a weird feeling."
"Yes. I know what you mean. Our lives are very different than they might have been."
Dean moves closer. Cas runs his palms over Dean's back. They stand together in the quiet of the house for a few moments. Warm and content.
Dean is just about to suggest they go up to bed when he hears it.
A baby crying upstairs.
Supernatural's cache has faded since the end of the Apocalypse arc. The first few Domestic Arc books do all right. The crazy outcry when Chuck ends a book with Dean kissing Cas briefly repopularizes the whole series. Chuck gets invited to several political events that make him very uncomfortable. There is also a huge mix up in Alabama, and Chuck narrowly escapes what turns out to, in fact, be a book burning.
The last book is almost finished. He's promised himself that he's not getting up from his computer tonight without finishing it.
He's having trouble finding the best ending. He'd left it at Cas and Dean coming home to hear their son cry for the first time in the initial draft, but decided that wasn't conclusive enough. So he had added Dean and Cas running upstairs to find Dodger dutifully watching the squirming baby in the basket on their bed.
The fourth draft had ended with Cas and Dean finding the completely legal adoption papers with a note pinned to them in the same curly script that "Wait and See" had once been written in: "One Huge and Impossible Thing".
But then Chuck had added the scene of Dean calling Sam and Chelsea and the two of the rushing over with the girls. Bobby and Karen driving in even though it was the middle of the night. Then he had added Chelsea, after everyone had calmed down a little bit, asking if anyone had noticed that the baby had dark brown hair and big green eyes.
Chuck had actually seen a lot of the Winchester kid's futures. They were happy and largely successful. They all went off to college and had mostly typical lives, though Sophie really stretched the definition of typical.
But the more Chuck looks over his notes the more he realizes that he's going to be writing the longest epilogue in the history of English Literature if he doesn't stop somewhere.
After several drafts he finally ends the story at just that night. Bobby and Karen asleep in the guest room. Sam and Chelsea tucking all their daughters in back at their house.
And Cas and Dean in their bed, staring at the baby between them in awe, fingers tangled together, quietly bickering over names as their son sleeps.
Chuck scrolls back up to the blank title page and lets his cursor blink expectantly at him. This is the only book in the entire series that hasn't organically developed a title halfway through or succumbed to its working title (he's still embarrassed about "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean Winchester").
He stares at the cursor for a few more minutes, and then it hits him. He sets his hands to the keyboard and clicks out
"Peace When You Are Done"