I feel so all alone
No one's gonna fix me when I'm broke
How do you cry with inanimate eyes?
You're never gonna smile with the way that you are
-"All Alone" fun.
It was a Saturday when it happened. Come to think of it, the wedding was on a Saturday too. Anna had wanted it to be a Sunday, but Sam couldn't be there if it was on a Sunday, and, well, Dean was not going to get married without Sam there.
Dean decides he likes Saturdays. Good things happen on them.
To be honest, she'd gone into labor on Friday. God, it'd been a fucking long night.
He's going to have to watch that now, isn't he? The language. Damn.
Anna spent that morning screaming at Dean about how it was all his fault and if he ever does this to her again, she will kill him (though Dean knows that's bullshit: she wants three kids, and Dean's never been able to convince her otherwise so he doubts this will change her mind either). By the time the doctor's holding the pruny little thing (that, okay, she looks like an alien, but Dean will never, ever admit that to anyone), her face red and screaming, Dean's pretty sure he's lost all feeling in his hand, and suddenly Anna's sane again. Okay, maybe this is just a different type of insanity, because, really, she shouldn't look that happy after all that, though Dean's got the same ridiculous look in his face after the shock starts to wear off.
The doctor cleans the baby off before wrapping her up in a blanket and handing her to Anna. Anna cradles her gently, bouncing her and cooing, trying to get her to quiet down.
"Hello Mia," she whispers as the screams turn to the most adorable gasping hiccups Dean has ever heard. "It's nice to meet you."
It's about at that point that Dean realizes he's frozen stiff. Anna looks up at him, looking exhausted and ragged, but eyes shining like they did on the day of the wedding, and shifts Mia closer to him.
"Do you want to hold her?" she asks quietly, and Dean can only stare at her wide-eyed. She bounces Mia again, and Mia's quiet now, looking around with huge, innocent eyes, and, yeah, okay, it's cliche, but she really looks fascinated at this new world around her.
"I-I don't..." he finally manages hoarsely. Anna grins cheekily at him.
"Dean, I know for a fact you know what you're doing, so don't give me that."
Okay, yes, she has a point, Dean did know how to hold a baby, he knew how to raise a kid, he raised Sammy, but the baby stage had been over twenty years ago, and Sammy's a boy, and Mia's a girl and more fragile (though if Anna knew he was thinking that, she'd give him hell and a half), and Mia's his, and, oh god, he's a dad.
Eventually they manage to get Mia in his arms and, holy fuck, she's tiny and weighs practically nothing. Sammy weighed more than this, didn't he? He'd been a chubby little kid, if Dean remembers correctly. Heart going a hundred miles an hour, Dean reaches out to brush at her face with one hand. She's so... God, he's going to be one of those dads, isn't he? She's perfect, though. She's beautiful, she's perfect, and she's his daughter, and Dean's going to have a panic attack soon.
Luckily the panic attack is cut off by soft knocking at the door. Dean looks up to see Sammy standing in the doorway, and Dean can tell from here that the kid is trying so hard to hold back a ridiculously huge grin.
"Sam!" Anna says cheerfully and, really, there has got to be sorcery involved for her to be this happy and awake.
"I hear I have a niece now," he says, giving up on trying to hold the grin back.
"Meet Mia," Dean replies, and, oh no, she's starting to get upset again. Dean bounces her gently, rocking his weight back and forth from foot to foot, trying to quiet her. It does... well, it doesn't do a bad job, actually.
Sam is by his side in a flash, peering down at Mia like an overgrown puppy.
"She's beautiful," he says, looking over to Anna. Dean follows his gaze and is blown away by how beautiful Anna looks. She's in a hospital gown, and she's not wearing any makeup. Her hair's a mess, pulled up to the top of her head, and there are bags under her eyes, but she's glowing, and Dean amends his earlier thought. She's not shining as much as she had been during the wedding. It's even better.
Sam reaches out a giant hand to the top of Mia's head, brushing at the little tuft of red hair she has there. "She's got your hair," he says, sounding awed, to Anna. Mia's calmed down again enough to blink owlishly at her uncle (her uncle, god, Sammy's an uncle).
"And she's got your eyes, Dean."
Dean frowns, staring at his daughter closely. "Really?"
"They're the same shape, honey," Anna says, sounding amused.
"Oh." Well, how's he supposed to know that? It's not like he stares in the mirror, memorizing the shape of his eyes. "Her eyes are grey, though."
"I bet they'll be the color of your eyes, too," Sam says, and damn him, he sounds amused too. Dean frowns up at him, confused.
"What do you mean? They're grey."
Sam chuckles. "That's because there isn't much pigment in her eyes right now."
Dean stares at him, still not comprehending. "Are you saying there's something wrong with my daughter?" he demands.
"Honey, calm down," Anna says, and that's her calm, but firm voice right there (seriously, how does she have the energy?). Sam's still chuckling at him, which Dean finds completely inappropriate.
"Dean, all babies-well, all babies with European ancestry anyway, are born with blue or grey eyes. It's just that the pigment, melanin, hasn't gathered in the baby's eyes yet. Sometimes there isn't as much melanin, and the baby's yet stay blue or grey, but sometimes they get more, usually within the first year, and their eyes change color. It's normal, okay?"
Dean's not sure if he understood half of what Sam just said (the nerd), but the "it's normal" was all he needed. That, and Anna's looking amused at him too, like she knew and understood everything Sam said.
"I thought you read the book I bought for us," she says.
"I did!" Dean protests quickly, and he did, goddammit, he did. He just, maybe, skimmed over some of the parts he didn't think were as important. But, dammit, he did read it, he read that thing like it was the Bible and he was a devout Christian. At least three times.
Anna smirks at him, and Dean opens his mouth to continue his protest, but Mia lets out a rather strong and sudden cry, startling Dean. He goes back to bouncing her again, one hand resting gently on her chest. Her little hands are flailing but quickly manage to find Dean's pointer finger, holding on for dear life (which isn't really that much of a grip, but Dean can tell it's all her strength being put into it), and pulling the finger up to her mouth. When she starts sucking on his finger, Dean's eyes widen.
"I think she's hungry," he says, tone like he just decoded some indecipherable text. Anna smiles, still amused, but Dean thinks he might be seeing a bit of that oddly missing weariness finally, and holds out her arms.
"I'll feed her," she says, and she almost sounds relieved. "Good to see you, Sam."
Dean passes Mia to Anna, and Sam claps him on the shoulder.
"Congratulations, Dean," he says, eyes sparkling. Dean smiles back weakly.
God, he's a dad.
It's the first night back from the hospital. Anna's very well aware she's still not going to get much sleep, but she's just grateful to be able to sleep in her own bed again. Her own bed, with Dean right beside her. It was only a couple nights away, but it's still a relief.
Mia wakes them up around midnight. Anna tells Dean to go back to sleep and slips out of bed to quiet Mia down. It turns out she needs a diaper change. She's back to sleep before Anna even lays her back down in the crib. Dean's still just barely awake when Anna comes back to bed, and he rolls over to pull her to him, nuzzling his face in the back of her neck as he drifts to sleep.
Anna wakes up again with no idea of what time it is. At first, she thinks she's awake because of Mia, but it only takes a moment of listening to realize that's not it. She rolls over to Dean's side of the bed, and then it makes sense. Dean's not there.
"Dean?" she calls quietly, sitting up. She rubs at her eyes blearily, peering around the room for her husband. But he's nowhere to be found. Stifling a yawn, Anna crawls out of bed and walks out into the hall.
"Dean?" she calls again, mindful of not waking Mia. The door to her room is open, though, and Anna's pretty sure she closed it most of the way when she left earlier, so she looks in, letting out a breath of relief when she sees Dean's form standing by the crib. Stifling another yawn, Anna walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around his torso and resting her cheek against his back.
"What are you doing up, honey?" she whispers. When Dean doesn't answer, Anna pulls back and moves around to get a better look at his face. He's staring at Mia, who's still peacefully asleep. Just staring. Eyes wide. Something like terror written across his features.
"Dean?" Anna asks, unnerved. "Sweetie? You okay?"
Finally his eyes flick away from Mia and to Anna, looking like he's just realized she's there. He looks back to Mia again, and there's no doubt about it now. That's terror in his eyes. He's quiet for another moment longer, and then:
"God, Anna, I'm so scared," he whispers, voice hoarse with emotion. Anna reaches up to cup his cheek, forcing him to look back at her.
"Why?" she asks, as gently as possible. Dean's eyes dart around the room like a cornered animal before he answers.
"What if... What if I... I mean, my dad..."
Suddenly it all makes sense. Anna reaches up to cup his other cheek as well, forcing him to look her in the eyes.
"You are not your father," she says firmly. She'd seen this coming. Sam had seen it coming, too, they'd both talked about it around month four. It was a stupid fear for Dean to have, they both agreed, but that wouldn't stop Dean.
"You raised Sammy without a problem, right?" she points out. "You know what I mean," she adds when Dean scoffs. "Sure, there were problems, but you were a better nurturer than your father ever was to your brother."
Dean looks tortured. "Yeah, but-"
"There are no buts," Anna interrupts. "You are not your father."
"Okay, but what if I get drunk?" Dean argues, voice raised. He glances over at Mia quickly, sees she's still asleep, and continues, voice lower. "What if I get drunk and come home and I don't..." He trails off, eyes closing in what Anna's sure is memory. She brushes at the hair flatten on his forehead from sleep.
"I won't let you," she says gently. "You know I won't let you. Your father didn't have someone like me around to talk some sense into him. You do." Anna smiles reassuringly at him as he opens his eyes. "Nothing is going to happen. You are not going to hurt Mia, I promise you." She brushes a tear from his eye with her thumb, still smiling. "That's why you have me."
Dean smiles shakily at her before glancing back at Mia again. Anna leans up to kiss him briefly, dropping her hand to his and tugging gently.
"Come on. Let's go back to bed."
A couple weeks later, Dean's back at work, and Anna's finally gotten Mia down for a nap when she puts up her phone and calls Sam.
"Anna! Hey!" Sam answers cheerily, and Anna smiles.
"Hey, Sam. Look, I was wondering if you could do me a favor."
"Sure. What's up?"
"I was wondering if you could look after Mia for an hour or two. I just put her down for a nap, so she shouldn't be any trouble..."
Sam laughs. "Yeah, of course! I'd love to, actually. Where you off to?"
Anna chuckles. "I don't know, I just need a little time to myself. I'll probably end up grocery shopping or something."
"Mom needs a little quiet time, huh?" Sam says with another chuckle. "Yeah, I'll be right over."
Dean looks up to see Ash sticking his head through the door.
"You got a call on line one," the other man calls over the sound of the equipment Dean's working with. "What, do you not have your phone on your or something?"
Dean pats at his pockets before shrugging and switching off the equipment. "Must've left it in my office. Who is it?"
Ash shrugs, holding out the phone for him. "Some dude. Not your brother or your wife, all I know."
Dean frowns but takes the phone from him with a quick "thank you". Ash nods and bounds away, leaving Dean by himself.
"This is Dean," he says into the receiver, frowning down at the notes he'd been taking.
"Dean Winchester?" the man on the other end of the line asks. "Husband of Anna Winchester?"
Dean stops reviewing the notes, something cold suddenly running through his blood.
"Yes..." he says slowly. "Who is this?"
"Officer Carver, sir. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, sir, but there's been an accident."
The room surrounding him drops from view and sweat breaks out on his palms. "Wh-what do you mean?" Dean asks.
"A car accident, sir. At the intersection of 5th and Main. Your wife was in one of the cars involved."
"Was?" Dean echoes, his own voice sounding distant to his ears.
"She passed away, sir, before the ambulance arrived. I'm sorry."
Dean remembers a little bit of his mom. He was only four when she died, so it's not much. But it's something. What he remembers of life before the fire was the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect house. Everything. Picture perfect. Mom and Dad were madly in love. Sammy was fat and cute and everything Dean had wanted in a baby brother. They were happy. Mom was beautiful.
It all went to shit after that.
Dad got drunk every night. Sometimes he hit. They were sloppy punches but punches nonetheless, and Dad was never sober enough to remember to take off his rings. Dean quickly learned that if he took the brunt of it, though, and got it over with, Sammy would be left out of it. And that's what mattered. Starting school, though, and having to leave Sammy behind at home... Those had been the hardest years of Dean's life. There wasn't anything Dean could do when Dad got drunk at ten in the morning, and Sam was home and Dean wasn't. Dean spent too many nights holding his baby brother through the tears and telling him all about Mom and how perfect and beautiful she'd been. How Mom was an angel now and she was watching them and she wasn't going to let anything bad happen to them. All lies, of course, but for some reason Sammy bought them.
Dean taught himself to cook. To buy groceries. To work. He did whatever he could to get money, to keep food on the table, because Dad sure as hell wasn't going to.
Then Dad died. Didn't come home one night, which wasn't anything new, and neither was the next day with the police knocking on the front door, but the news they brought this time was. Luckily, Sam was almost eighteen at the time, so with a little help from the old coot with the auto shop, Bobby Singer, all Dean needed to worry about was Sam's news a couple weeks later that he'd gotten into Stanford on a full ride.
It was after Sam left that Dean met Anna. She wasn't as beautiful as Mom, but she was close. And the red hair had definitely caught his eye.
He met her in the line at the grocery store, as he was working frantically to scrounge up enough change from his pockets for the food. (Most of the money from Dad's death had all gone to getting Sam out to California. The rest had gone to alcohol. And maybe some weed.)
She'd been in line behind Dean. And instead of getting annoyed like she had the right to, she took pity on him and helped him out. Dean still counted that as one of the top five most embarrassing moments of his life. But he never felt too bad about it. She bought her gum and soda, and then they walked out to the parking lot together. She'd ooed and awed over the Impala, and if Dean hadn't already been attracted to the red hair and cheeky grin, that about sealed the deal.
She stopped him from buying more weed. She cut down his alcohol intake. And when Sam gave up on the lawyer career and came back to Kansas, the two of them became best friends. She beat the gangly giant in a wrestling match, which left Dean sitting there, staring at her with a stunned look.
She loved Star Trek and old westerns. Granted, she liked Picard better than Kirk and Wayne better than Eastwood, but they worked through it.
And on bad nights, like the anniversary of Mom's death or, even worse, Dad's, she was there.
Dean never understood it. Girls like this only existed in the movies, right? This wasn't real, this was one of those stupid drug induced hallucinations. That kept going and going...
Sammy tells him he took too long, but it took Dean a while to convince himself she wasn't leaving anytime soon. It took him a while to gear up the courage. Maybe he did take too long, but he finally proposed.
And they got married.
Him. Dean Winchester got married. To the perfect woman.
And a couple years later, she told him she was pregnant.
What is he going to do?
And the baby...
"My daughter," he says quickly. "Is my daughter alright?"
"There was no one else in the car with her, sir," the officer replies.
No one else in the car? Maybe Anna had gotten someone to babysit. Maybe Mia was still at home, still fine, none the wiser.
Just like Dean had been.
The first thing Sam realizes when he wakes up is that he's been sleeping on this couch for a month now. A month of taking care of Mia. A month of taking care of things legally. A month of buying the groceries, cooking food, like Dean had done all throughout their childhood. Because it's Sam's turn now to take care of him. Because Dean's not doing it.
At least he started getting out of bed last week, though. Right now he's sitting at the kitchen table, cold cup of coffee sitting in front of him. Staring at nothing.
Sam's tried to talk him into going back to work. Into holding his daughter. But Dean's not really responsive anymore. Sam was glad Bobby had been there for the funeral, because Sam doesn't think they would've made it if he had had to take care of Mia and drag Dean out of the house.
He gets it. He does. It's fucked up and it's not fair. God, it's not fair. For once in his life, Dean had been happy. Really, truly happy. He'd had something for himself. A family. A wife, a daughter. Dean used to tell him when he was young how much Dad had loved Mom, and Sam had never believed someone could love someone else so much until he saw Dean with Anna. And then she gets ripped away from him. Sometimes Sam feels guilty for having been the last one to see her. It's not fair. It should've been Dean. But all Sam can do is be grateful Anna had left Mia with him because if Dean had lost both of them... Well. Sam's not sure he'd have a brother anymore in that case.
Dean doesn't move from his spot at the table all day. Sam pushes some food at him around lunchtime, and Dean picks at it a bit. The cup of cold coffee's replaced with a cup of warm orange juice. Sam puts Mia down for a nap and decides to do some tidying up of the house.
He's hesitant to go into Dean's bedroom. They haven't started going through Anna's things yet. Really, the house is just the same as it was. Like they're all just waiting for her to come home. But the bedroom has most of their personal things. Eventually Sam decides he just needs to put the bedding in the wash. That's all he'll touch in there.
He accidentally kicks something under the bed, though, as he walks across the room. And when he kneels down to pick it back up, he sees the liquor bottles. Not wanting to believe his eyes, Sam reaches out and grabs one of them. God, it's even the same brand Dad used to drink. Forgetting all about the bedding and bottle gripped tight in his fist, Sam storms back out of the bedroom and to the kitchen, slamming the bottle down on the table in front of Dean.
Dean barely even flinches.
Sam takes a moment, breathing heavily through the nose, and then sits down next to his brother.
He doesn't react. There are dark, huge bags under his eyes. The green in his eyes is accentuated by the red of how bloodshot they are. He's got a fucking beard, and, yeah, he smells. Sam's not sure if he's taken a shower since the funeral. He's pale and gaunt. He looks dead, and it scares the hell out of Sam.
"Dean," he says again, a little louder this time, but there's still no reaction. Sam grinds his teeth for a moment before reaching out and slapping Dean across the face. Dean jumps, blinking wildly and there. It's probably the first time they've made eye contact since before the accident. Sam's still angry. But right now it's just nice to see something other than tears on his brother's face.
"Hey," he says quietly, trying to smile. Dean blinks blankly at him a couple of times before turning his attention back to... whatever he was staring at earlier. Sam grits his teeth, smacking Dean lightly on the head.
"Don't. Don't disappear on me again, Dean. We need to talk."
Slowly, Dean looks back at him. Sam lets out a sigh of relief and grabs the empty liquor bottle from the table, waving it in Dean's face.
"Didn't realize you'd left the house at all."
Dean's eyes flick to the bottle, but there's no change from that dead lack of emotion. Sam sighs heavily, closing his eyes and setting the bottle back down.
"You can't do this, Dean. You have a daughter who needs you." He opens his eyes again, watching Dean for any sign of emotion. "Remember her? Mia?"
Dean blinks, and Sam figures he'll take that as recognition.
"She needs you, Dean. You can't just check out on her like this. You can't go drown yourself in the bottle like Dad did to us. Remember our childhood? How shitty it was? Do you want Mia to grow up like that?" Sam leans forward, staring Dean hard in the eyes. "Do you?"
A couple of rapid blinks and then Dean opens his mouth, a sound like an ancient old frog croaking out from his throat.
Relief washes through Sam like a tidal wave, but he doesn't stop there.
"You're not Dad, Dean. You're better than him. You always have been. I know you can do this. I know you can be the father Mia needs you to be. Better, even. I mean, I didn't turn out so bad, did I?" Sam tries to go for an amused smile, but Dean's still only staring at him with wide eyes. But at least he's listening.
"You can clean yourself up again. And, look, Dean. I know it sucks. It does more than suck. I mean, Anna..." Sam trails off when Dean flinches violently. Maybe Sam won't go the full nine yards right now. Not today.
"Look, I'm here, Dean. I'll help. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. But I gotta get back to school. And you need to figure out what you're doing for work. But mostly you need to take care of your daughter. I can help, yes, but I'm not her father. She needs you."
It's quiet. The brothers stare unblinkingly at each other for Sam has no idea how long. Please, he thinks, willing Dean to hear his thoughts, please don't be Dad.
Slowly, Dean starts to move. He's on his feet, and he's walking away. Sam stares after him, not sure if he's succeeded or if he's failed spectacularly. He hears a door down the hallway open and then close. Then he hears the shower turn on.
And Sam smiles.