Dean picked Rebel up, gently bouncing him, breathing in his powdery baby smell. Rebel settled eventually, enough for a diaper change and a clean onesie. Dean gave Sam a weak smile when he turned and saw him holding a bottle out. He took it and settled into the rocking chair. He was grateful he could start his day like this.
Being able to sit down with this little person and give him what he needed, even though his little life was imploding around him was comforting.
It made him think of his own little people. He was trusting Leah; he didn't have a choice. He told himself it was early yet, and she might even wait until they got home from school to tell them. He was trusting her to break their hearts.
He thought of Henry, who he hadn't spoken to in six years. He always painted Henry as the villain in that story, though that wasn't a hundred percent true. He hadn't called or attempted to make any contact with the Winchester family in that time, but Dean knew it was a two way street. He also knew Henry hadn't been the only one to want Henry to leave.
Henry had wanted to call social services. They talked about it sometimes. They wondered if it was the best thing they could do for the little ones since Dad started drinking, since Mom was gone. Dean said that they'd separate them, while Henry had just wanted to be a normal teenager, who didn't spend all his free time working to support a family. Dean got a real job as soon as he could lie about his age, but it didn't do much to lessen the load. Dean didn't mind the responsibility, but he had resented Henry for not trying.
Looking back, Dean had no idea where he'd gotten his devotion to family. Mary had left and hadn't looked back. They didn't know where she was or even if she was alive. Dean had let her go a long time ago. Henry had followed in their mother's footsteps, though at least he'd had the decency to leave a phone number. He guessed it had to have come from John.
When he had been a kid, before Anna was born, John had been a great father, not only dedicated, but absolutely smitten with is family. He was home for dinner almost every night and organized family outings on the weekend. He had gone to every one of Henry's Little League games and Dean's soccer matches. He had tossed a ball around with his sons and tucked them inat night.
Dean knew now Anna hadn't been planned, and Balthazar even less so.Mary and John had started arguing after she was born, and never really stopped. John started working later hours. Dean was never sure where his mother went, but it wasn't home. Dean had quietly learned to take care of Anna and comfort her when their parents weren't around.
By the time Balthazar was born and Mom left he was good at taking care of babies. Henry had been stuck. He worked because he had to. Dad had started drinking and lost his job. Things had gone from not great to dire pretty fast. Dad blew what savings they had on cheap liquor, and Dean knew what would happen when Henry turned eighteen. He had known from the minute Mom left. When he woke up the day of Henry's birthday to find him already gone he knew they were well and truly screwed. They had taken the kids six months later, ignoring Dean's screaming, and John unconscious on the couch.
Dean snapped back to the present when a small burp sounded in his ear. He grinned. It didn't seem like Rebel's appetite had been affected by his ordeal. Dean didn't know why that, of all things, made him so happy. Maybe it was just that the rest of the day was likely to be so astronomically crappy that he knew this was as good as it was going to get.
"Good job, Rebel." Dean put the bottle down on the edge of the changing table as the baby laughed and grabbed at his shoulder. Dean made a mental note to trim the kid's nails after his next bath. Sam appeared in the doorway of the nursery, grinning a little.
"Breakfast is ready if you are."
"Uh, yeah. I just need to call Henry and I'll be in. Keep it warm for me?"
"Sure, if you want. I mean, the conversation might take a while, so if you want to eat first, I'm sure he'll still be there."
"Sammy, if I eat now I'll just be seeing it again. If you could take Rebel though, that'd be good."
"Sure. I'll just give you some privacy."
Dean stood and met Sam halfway across the room. He passed the baby off, waving as they went off to the kitchen. He didn't know why no one had been by to get Rebel, why they hadn't come with the cops, but he supposed they automatically assumed no one in their right mind would leave their kid with someone they were accusing of abusing them, and they hadn't exactly advertised Rebel's presence. He hoped Cas was doing ok.
He closed the door of his room and perched on the edge of the bed. He couldn't express in words just how little he wanted to make this phone call. It wasn't just that he didn't particularly want to talk to his brother after all these years, and that there was far too much to say in a single phone call. It was there sure, but it wasn't the imperative. It was that as soon as he told Henry, it would be real, and Dean very much didn't want John's death to be real.
There was always the chance Henry had disconnected the number he had left behind. It had been four years. Finally, Dean pushed the send button. There were six rings and Dean suddenly hoped that he would just have to talk to voicemail. Halfway through the seventh ring there was a tell-tale click.
"Let me guess, Dean, Dad finally drank himself to death?"
"Car crash, actually. Well, complications from the injuries."
"So driving drunk, probably to get more booze he can't afford."
"He was sober when they brought him in."
"Impressive. By the way how long did it take you to lose the kids after I left? A week?" Henry laughed.
"The funeral will be Thursday morning probably. At the church on third Mom used to take us to. I'll let you know if it changes."
"See you then, baby brother." Henry hung up before Dean could respond. Dean shut his pone and flopped back onto the bed, letting out a breath. It could've been worse. That's what he told himself. At least it was over. He nearly jumped out of his skin when his phone rang. It was Leah.
"Hi, Dean. Anna wants to talk to you."
"Ok." He heard snuffles and the phone being pressed into his sister's hand.
"Dean, what did I do wrong?"
"Anna, you didn't do anything."
"You said to be careful with him, and I was. I didn't want him to die."
"You were as careful as you were supposed to be. Dad was hurt really bad and something happened with the tube in his chest. Sometimes bad things happen."
"But Mommy left, and Henry left, and Dad died. I have to have done something."
"Do you remember what I told you last month?"
"What was it?"
"Sometimes grown-ups do bad things."
"Yeah. Mom and Henry both did bad things and there's nothing we can do about it. Dad did some bad things too, but he was trying to change. He got hurt really bad and we did everything we could. I bet he was really happy he got to see you guys."
"I wanted him to stay, though."
"I know. I did too. It's ok to be sad that he died. You can even be a little bit angry with him if you need to be."
"It's not fair, though."
"I know it's not."
"I want you here, Dean."
"I want to be there too, but I have to take care of stuff here."
"Can I be mad at you for not being here?" Dean willed his heart not to break.
"Yeah, you can, but try not to be mad at me for too long?"
"I can try."
"Can you do something for me before you put Leah back on the phone?"
"Yeah. I guess."
"Can you find your brother and give him a big hug from me? Then be sad with him?"
"Yeah. I can. I love you Dean, even when I'm mad at you."
"I love you, too." Dean heard the shuffle as the phone was handed off.
"Thank you, Dean."
"I assume she didn't take the news too well?"
"Did you really expect her to?"
"Not really. How's Balthazar?"
"He's Balthazar. He's detached and he's not really saying much. He did ask not to go to school today. I don't know if it was because he sensed that it was what Anna needed or if it was because it was what he needed."
"Knowing him, probably a little of both."
"Is there anything else?"
"The funeral will be Thursday. I'll call when I have the details cemented. It'll probably at the church on third."
"I am sorry, Dean."
"I'll talk to you later."
"Yeah. Bye." Dean hit end.
He climbed into some clean clothes and went to the kitchen. He put his hand on his bruised eye and hissed. Sam was eating instant oatmeal and Rebel was cheerfully banging a toy against the plastic tray of his high chair.
"Water is in the microwave," Sam said around a mouthful of food.
Dean punched a minute and started it. He tore open the packet and dumped its contents into a bowl.
"I called the funeral home. They said someone will meet us at the hospital to take the body after we claim it. Wanted to know where they'd be dropping it when they're done."
"Uh, I'm thinking the church over on third. Remember?" Dean tried not to cringe at the thought of his father's body being dropped offanywhere.
"Right. It was late. Do you need me to call them?" Dean realized Sam was being careful with him.
"Uh, I don't know."
"Alright. Let me know. I know you're worried about your dad and that stuff but we also have a baby that technically doesn't belong to either of us."
"I guess we wait? I mean, Meg is supposed to pick him up tomorrow. If she doesn't show we should probably call Ellen, and see what she says."
"I can't say I'm in a hurry to give him to her."
"I'm not either, but this is Meg. It seems like she's kind of dangerous."
Dean sat down at the table stirring his oatmeal.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there. Let's just take care of him for now," Sam said.
"Let me know when you're ready to go."
"Just let me finish breakfast."
They sat in silence as Dean ate. Sam made faces at the baby and built a small tower out of the blocks Rebel had been banging. It was quickly knocked over.
"Alright. Let's get the little bugger ready."
"You want to go out, Rebel?" Sam asked.
"Somehow, I don't think the morgue is baby friendly."
"I don't think the morgue is living people friendly," Sam pointed out. Dean barked a short laugh.
They got Rebel ready to go. They found shoes and spent ten minutes looking for keys that been hastily tossed aside. Sam was glad Dean didn't ask how they ended up under the oven. He didn't want to think about last night. He still felt violated and didn't want to talk about it. They loaded up not long after that, securing the baby seat in the Impala.
"You good to drive?"
"Yeah. Think I need it."
"Alright. Let's get a move on," Sam said as he finished buckling Rebel in.
The drive was quiet. The hospital was quiet. The man withthe funeral home was quiet.
"That's John Winchester. My father," Dean said with certainty. The morgue technodded grimly and began preparing him for transport.
"Where will webe taking him?"
"The church on third. Thursday morning."
"We'll see you then."
Sam steered Dean out of the morgue so the body could be prepped in peace. He put Dean on a bench and took Rebel out of his carrier. He put the baby in Dean's arms. Rebel touched his face, fascinated with the stubble he found there. As the baby prodded his face, Dean slowly came out of it. He wasn't quite smiling, but it was enough that Sam wasn't worried anymore.
"We need to formalize the arrangements."
"Yeah, I know. It feels real now."
"It doesn't get easier, does it?"
"Not really. You get used to it."
"So we just call the church?"
"More or less. There'll be some paper work- Bible verses or poetry or whatever
"Right. Should probably decide on those. Start writing a eulogy too."
"You want me to call?"
"I don't know how to do this, Sam."
"That's why you have me. I'll do it."
"How do know how to do this stuff?"
"My parents died. A few years ago."
"It was a car crash, too. They were killed instantly. A truck driver dozed off for a second and they were dead. It's just me so I had to a lot of the work until my aunt got to town."
"That sucks, Sammy."
"It is what it is, I guess."
"You don't have to call."
"I know. I need to do something though and I feel like you just need a break from it all." Sam knew that if he was on the phone all afternoon he wouldn't have to think about last night, or Gabriel, or trying to avoid his calls.
"Yeah," Dean agreed.
"So relax. Take care of Rebel. I'll handle the rest."
"Should we head home?" Sam nodded.
The afternoon passed in relative ease. Sam worked the phones. He left a message for Henricksen to call him back first thing Monday morning. He made sure they had a pastor and the church for Thursday. Dean mostly took care of Rebel and given that Rebel was such a mild baby, that consisted mostly of occasional diaper changes and making sure he didn't eat his sock.
"Let's hope your momma doesn't come get you tomorrow.Otherwise next week is gonna be awfully hard on your daddy.We wouldn't mind having you around all the time. Bet we could find a way to make it work."
The baby grabbed the stuffed bunny Cas had named Cheese and chewed on the ear. Dean absently noted he might be starting to teethe.
"Let me tell you something about your daddy: I haven't known him for that long but he seems like a pretty awesome guy. He's sitting in a jail cell for you right now. The thing is, little one, even if he turns out to be a jerk like my old man, you should stick with him anyway. Not because he's family or because he deserves it, but he because he's a good man under it. Promise me?"
Rebel cooed in response, looking up at Dean.
"Close enough." Dean picked the baby up. Sam found them twenty minutes later, both asleep, Rebel resting on Dean's chest. He smiled and snapped a picture, knowing Cas would get a laugh. He decided he didn't really need to ask if Dean was ok with pizza; his friend looked too comfortable to disturb.
Dean woke to the sound of the buzzer. He heard Sam hit the button. He looked up and saw Sam's tall form looming over the couch.
"Get up. Pizza's here."
"Fine. Only 'cause I like you. And the kid smells funny."
"Right. Go change him."
They ate their dinner and spent the night in relative quiet. They turned in early. Whatever else came their way it was going to have to wait.
Dean got up with Rebel at seven, and to his surprise Sam roused only about an hour later. They were still sitting around in their pajamas when the buzzer sounded. They eyed each other warily, knowing who it was. Sam picked the baby up from where he was on the floor, and cuddled him close to his chest. The baby reached for Sam's hair and pulled, eliciting a startled squeak from Sam and laugh from Rebel. Dean made his way to the intercom.
"Who is it?"
"It's Meg, dirtbag."
Dean pressed his lips into a white line, and his hand clenched into a fist.
"Don't hit the wall," Sam said serenely.
"Why the hell not?"
"It won't solve anything. It'll just hurt you and scare Rebel."
"What should I do then?"
"Get his stuff," said Sam. "We might have to give him to her, and if we do, we may as well be prepared. Put a clean diaper on him too."
"I just changed him an hour ago."
"Just in case, Dean."
"Sam." Dean didn't mean to sound so desperate.
"I don't want to do it either." There was a knock on the door. Sam disentangled Rebel's hands from his hair, and handed him to Dean. Dean disappeared quickly down the hall. He heard the door crack open, and he heard their voices.
"I want my kid, Sam."
"We aren't overeager to return him to you."
"Oh that wasn't bad. I cleaned him up before we came over."
"He had bruises, Meg. Even I didn't think you were capable of that."
"Wasn't me. Had some people over. Not my fault if they don't like his screaming."
"He's your kid."
"So? Least I leave him here on the weekends when I do my real partying."
"It's not a big deal. It's not like I'm feeding the kid crack."
"Are you feeding him at all?"
"Where is he?"
"Answer the question."
"Where's the kid, Sam?"
"Dean's getting him ready to go."
"In jail." Sam couldn't help feeling like he was talking the world's biggest idiot.
"Why? Oh, right. Child abuse charges. Explains those bruises right away. Good idea, wasn't it?"
"Give me one good reason why we should give him to you."
"Don't go acting all righteous on me, Sam. I know what you do with your weekends. Well, what you used to do. What happened? Got a boyfriend, and go all soft?" Sam tried not to flinch. "Oh that hit a nerve, didn't it?"
"I'm serious, Meg. Cas is my friend, and I care about Rebel. I don't want him to get hurt."
"You'll give me my kid and you won't raise a fuss about it unless you want to find yourself in the same position as Castiel." Meg's face fell and she looked deadly. "Not a word, Sam. You know what I have on you."
"It doesn't matter anymore."
"You really have gone soft. Got some roommates, bring a kid around and you're practically teaching kindergarten."
Dean came back into the room, Rebel's bag over his shoulder, and Rebel snuggled into his shoulder. He looked over at his mother, and began to cry.
"Oh, come here, sweetie. It's alright." Dean glared at Sam. He handed over the baby, who had gripped his shirt in his fists. Dean carefully extricated him, giving his small hand a squeeze. He didn't think it was possible for a baby to look betrayed.
"You will bring him back to us."
"Oh, you'll get him back. I have better things to do on the weekends than watch the brat."
"Healthy, and clean and happy."
"He'll be alive."
With that, Meg walked out the door. Dean sat down heavily on the couch, Sam next to him.
"This is bad," said Sam.
"You don't miss a thing."
"I'm sorry, ok. I tried."
"Meg has some things on me, ok? That whole crowd did. I dealt for a while, mostly because I could, and well, some of my old supply is still floating around out there."
"You're an idiot, Sam."
"I really am trying. I haven't done any of the hard stuff since you guys moved in. I don't even smoke everyday anymore, and never while Rebel's here."
"I just need this week to be over."
"You and me both." Sam leaned his head back, and closed his eyes.
A/N: So uh, that was a rough couple chapters eh? I'd love to know what you thought (and yes, I already know you want to tear me to shreds).