Author's Note: This is the final story in the latest trilogy that I've been writing. The trilogy has no name (if anyone has any suggestions for that, please let me know) but it is comprised of "Dawn", "Dusk", and this story, "Midnight". I recommend that you at least "Dawn" before reading this as it will not really make sense on its own. Please note that this story deals heavily with suicide. If this bothers you in anyway, please don't read. Thank you for all the tremendous support I've gotten on this trilogy. It was really fun to write and I hope you enjoy this final piece. Thank you!
"Do you wake up on your own
And wonder where you are?
You live with all your faults."
—The Goo Goo Dolls, "Slide"
Truth be told, there's not a lot that Bobby Singer hasn't seen. He's killed demons for years now and while he pretty much considered himself "research only" up until about five years ago, he's hunted and killed pretty much every damn creature that hunters have ever heard of. Hell, he's even hunted things that rarely step foot on American shores! When it comes to all matters of things that go bump in the night, there's not much that can faze him. As many years as he's been in the life, he's pretty much seen it all.
"Bobby." A voice solemnly greeted him from behind and the gruff hunter cursed softly as he maneuvered his chair around. There stood the one thing that he had been sure didn't exist—the Messenger of Heaven himself, Castiel. Before Dean went to Hell, they all believed that only demons and other dark creatures existed. No one had ever dealt with the forces of Heaven nor had they even heard of an actual angel.
Up until now, that is.
"Jesus," He cursed as his heart continued to hammer in his chest. He wasn't as fast as he would like to be in this blasted chair. He was a liability to Sam and Dean—he just seemed to be the only one who knew it. "Anyone ever tell you not to startle people?" He had meant it rhetorically, but the angel nodded his head.
"Dean has said that, yes," Castiel reported dutifully. "Even Sam has on occasion." At the mention of the youngest Winchester, a pang of guilt mixed with anger coursed through Bobby's veins. Today . . . today, they had almost lost the youngest Winchester. Seemingly sensing this change in the mood, Castiel's head drooped slightly and he shifted his weight nervously. A weary grin tugged at the gruff hunter's lips—a nervous angel. Who would've believed that five years ago?
Then again, five years ago, they weren't in the middle of the damn apocalypse.
I'm going to end this now, Bobby.
The words resounded in his mind, as he knew they would for a long time, and he soon found himself back in time, sitting at his desk with the phone blaring in the background. At the time, he had been researching more rituals on how to keep angels away from a vessel for good. He had ignored the phone—it was all the way in the kitchen and he was in the middle of something important. He had let it go to voicemail and when he had finished the passage—a fruitless one that provided him with nothing that he didn't already know—he rolled himself to the kitchen to pick up a beer and he drank that before finally going to the machine and pressing the button, nearly 20 minutes after the call had been placed.
For as long as he will live, he will never forget that message.
"Bobby, hey, it's Sam," He had scoffed, muttered something about the boy always being so damn nervous around him. Ever since he had gotten put in this chair, Sam had begun to look at him with sheer regret in his eyes. The boy could justify putting the weight of the world on his shoulders and Bobby wasn't surprised that he felt guilty about what had befell him. "Listen, I just want to tell you that I'm sorry. Again, for everything." The youngest Winchester coughed nervously and uneasiness filled the older hunter. Sam had apologized before for the apocalypse—he used to do it constantly—but he had thought they were past this part. What was going on here? "Also, I need you to know," Sam cleared his throat before continuing and the uneasiness hardened into foreboding. Something was seriously wrong here. "I need you to know that I appreciated everything you ever did for me, Bobby. I might not have deserved it, but you always came through. Thank you."
"What the hell are you thinking, Sam?" He had said aloud, as if he could reason with Sam, as if the youngest Winchester brother was in the room.
"I'm going to end this now, Bobby. Dean won't understand and I'm sorry that I have to saddle you with explaining this to him, but if Lucifer can't get his hands on me, then it's game over. You know that, I know that, even Dean does, he just refuses to accept it."
"Sam—" He had growled, voice deadly and full of denial, because no, this was not happening, Sam would never think of doing this!
"My coordinates are 33°32′19″North and 112°11′11″West." Sam paused for a few seconds and Bobby shook his head. This was not happening, this could not be—"And Bobby? I, um, this will sound really girly, but I want you to know that I always looked up to you. I'm sorry I was such a disappointment. I hope this will set things right—you and Dean deserve a better life."
With his piece said, the message had cut off.
And for the first time in years, Bobby had spiraled down into that pit of despair that he hadn't felt since he had been forced to kill Karen.
He used to think about ending his own life—first, when he buried Karen and then more recently, once he got put into this chair. He had even placed the gun to his temple a few times, but something always stopped him before pulling the trigger. At first, it had been Karen's voice, begging him to live since she no longer could. Now, it was the fact that he had two boys—his boys, his idjits—that needed him. Bobby had seen Sam and Dean grow up. He had been there when Sam died and in the aftermath of Dean's months in Hell. He had seen those two boys at their worst and their best. He had never wanted to be a father, but somehow, he had ended up with two sons anyways.
One of them thought his life wasn't worth living.
The other one wouldn't be able to go on if his brother died.
Frantically, he had called Dean and had filled him in. He had waited an agonizing hour, praying—actually praying to anyone who would listen for the first time in years that Sam would be okay. Hell, he had even prayed a bit to Castiel. He had figured he had to try all his options, given the fact that he couldn't rush to Sam's side himself.
Thank God everything had worked out in the end.
"I, uh," He ran a hand over his face and tried to get the words out that had been rattling in his brain ever since Dean called with a quick, "Sam's safe. Cas stopped him." He forced himself to stop acting like a girl and meet the Messenger of Heaven's gaze. "I want to thank you for saving Sam." An odd mix of confusion and embarrassment filled the angel's eyes.
"I was just . . ." His eyes darted to the floor and then back to Bobby's gaze. "Sam is my friend. I couldn't stand by and do nothing."
It was such a simple logic, childlike really. A well-worn grin graced the older hunter's expression. He had forgotten that with such darkness in the world, that there was good as well. It seemed like for the past few months all he had allowed himself to dwell on was the seemingly hopeless task of ending the apocalypse. Maybe that was what pushed Sam over the edge—he had lost all hope. Without hope, there was nothing that could keep a person going. Hunters, especially, needed something to keep them going through this fucked up life.
"Yeah, well." Bobby muttered, glancing out the window. It was midnight in Sioux Falls. Moonlight spilled into the living room, illuminating most of the dark corners of the room. About an hour ago, the boys had shown up and he had given Sam a hug so fierce, he almost thought he might've cracked one of his bones if he had kept up with it.
"Bobby—" Sam had begun, clearly worried and embarrassed.
"You ever think of doing that again," Bobby had threatened, voice full of righteous fury with an undercurrent of love. "And so help me, I will get up out of this chair and knock you senseless, you hear me, ya idjit?" It was about as sappy as he could get—an absolution filled with an "I love you and I need you alive", but masked with gruff anger. Sam had smiled and nodded.
The boys were upstairs now, asleep or so Bobby assumed. He doubted Dean would be getting any sleep tonight and the older hunter felt inclined to stay up as well. Whenever he closed his eyes, he heard Sam's last words echo through his mind as an image of his bloody corpse appeared before him.
Nope. No sleep tonight.
"How are they?" Castiel took a step towards the staircase, as if he could sense they were up there. He probably could, despite the fact that he was cut off from Heaven. Despite the fact that he grew weaker everyday, the Messenger of the Lord still seemed to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
"Fine." Bobby replied with a shrug, though he wasn't sure. Dean had been more protective of Sam since they had arrived, which was reasonable, he supposed. Still, Bobby couldn't lie to himself. He was glad to see the two of them acting like brothers again. He and Dean had been angry at first—Sam had started the apocalypse and had been lying to them for a long time—but he realized now that they had let it go too far. Sam had come to fear them.
That wasn't what family was supposed to be like. They weren't supposed to be afraid to come to you because they thought any moment that you would cut them out. No, that was too much like his own childhood and he'd be damned if he let either of those boys feel like he felt then.
"I heard your prayer." Castiel muttered softly, facing him once more. Shock alit on the older hunter's face.
"What?" He whispered, partly because Sam and Dean might be asleep and partly because he wasn't sure if he wanted them to hear this. He had never been one for faith, not after everything he had endured and seen. He was embarrassed actually, to have been caught doing this, though he wasn't sure why.
"It was what alerted me to Sam's situation." The sentence was said so softly, yet the fact it had was profound. His prayer—his last resort—had sent the angel to Sam's side, saving him.
Bobby had helped save Sam.
"Well, damn." He breathed, completely taken aback. Of all the things he would've expected to come out of the angel's mouth, this had not been one of them. Saving Sam, being useful for once, proving that this damn chair couldn't stop him . . . a huge weight lifted off his shoulders and he glanced to the side, only to see Castiel gone.
Bobby just smiled softly.
"Don't want to sleep?"
Bobby's voice took Dean by surprise as he spun around in the kitchen. The older hunter rolled into the room, his eyes darting to Dean's coffee, which probably had a bit too much alcohol in it to actually be coffee. The eldest Winchester grinned tiredly and took a swig of the drink, wincing slightly at the burn of the alcohol. He offered Bobby the bottle, but the gruff hunter shook his head.
"More like I can't."
"I hear ya."
They sat for a few moments in comfortable silence, the light in the kitchen dimly filling the corners of the room. It was two in the morning and the moon had made herself scarce, hidden behind a cloud and the stars refused to show themselves. Maybe they sensed how grave the situation got today. Maybe Bobby had been up too long and needed some sleep soon before his thoughts became anymore weird.
But not until his boys—both of his boys—were fine.
"Bobby—" Dean's voice broke and pain filled the gruff hunter's veins. With a strong hand, he squeezed the eldest Winchester's shoulder, silently trying to lend him strength.
"I know." Neither one of them were big on "talking" their feelings out. Both of them were used to pushing them down and burying them under so much shit that they rarely came out, save for bursts when they drank too much. He doubted Dean had let himself go too far tonight; he still wanted his senses sharp to watch over his brother.
"I almost lost him—"
"But you didn't," Bobby insisted, voice hardening. "That's what matters. We've got another chance."
"He thought I hated him, Bobby!" Dean exclaimed, his head in his hands, a rare sign of weakness. Dean always had a mask on and a wall up. Even the older hunter didn't know all the facets of Dean, like Sam did. To see Dean let his guard down like this; while touching, was also disconcerting. Yeah, they had come close to being knocked down to a makeshift family of two, but Sam was alive.
Sam was here and breathing.
They had a chance to make things right again. Dean just needed to forgive himself for what he perceived as a failure when it came to being a brother to Sam. The three of them had all made mistakes—no one was blameless in the events that had led up to and right after the apocalypse—but Bobby knew that they had needed to make a fresh start.
Or next time, even an angel wouldn't be able to talk Sam out of taking his own life.
"Dean, listen to me," Bobby urged, pushing the image of Sam's broken body from Cold Oak away in his mind. Dean glanced sideways, meeting the hunter's gaze. "Sam is alive. He's upstairs breathing right now." Dean opened his mouth, ready to interject but Bobby simply held his hand up for silence. "Hear me out, will ya? He's alive and yeah, today was one fucked up close call, but in the end, Sam didn't go through with it." A weary grin pulled at the gruff family friend's face. "We've all made mistakes, okay? But now, we have another chance. We can make things right. You just need to stop beating yourself up about what might've been and focus on what you have and that's Sam."
Then, slowly, Dean nodded his head before remarking,
"You're getting girly in your old age, Bobby."
"Shut up, ya idjit."
"Uh, hey, Bobby." The youngest Winchester brother stood awkwardly in the doorframe as if waiting for an invitation to come into the kitchen and get some breakfast. The gruff hunter shook his head and smirked.
"Well, don't just stand there, come get some food." Sam immediately stepped into the room and grabbed a plate from the cabinet and grabbed one of the waffles Bobby had managed to defrost from the freezer.
"Where's your brother?"
"Still asleep," Sam replied, popping his waffle into the toaster. Leaning against the counter, the old family friend could see the tell tale signs of nervousness—the constant fidgeting, the darting gaze, the way Sam kept pulling at his shirt—and he sighed softly.
"I'm not angry at ya." Shock alit on Sam's face and then was quickly hid behind a mask of indifference—a Winchester trait, no doubt.
"No, I know."
"Neither is Dean." He continued and Sam shook his head.
"It's not that."
"Then what?" The waffle popped up and the youngest Winchester quickly placed it on his plate before drowning it in some maple syrup. Grabbing a fork, he cut a piece, only to push it around on his plate. "Sam?"
"I just . . ."
"Out with it," Bobby growled. "No more secrets." Secrets and resentment had almost gotten Sam killed yesterday and his death would've killed Dean as well as any hope Bobby had of surviving this apocalypse.
"I just am glad that you guys still care." It was an admission, spoken so quietly that Bobby almost missed it. God, how much had they screwed up that Sam hadn't recognized that they still loved him? They had let the angels and the demon blood and the apocalypse cloud their vision and force them down a dark path, but no more.
Now, they would forge their own path as a family, however dysfunctional they were.
"Sam," Hazel eyes met his and Bobby felt a surge of love well up within him. The Winchesters would be the death of him someday, probably from having a heart attack about worrying over them, but he wouldn't have it anyway. "We're always here." It was as emotional as he could get and judging from the warmth that blossomed in Sam's eyes, it was enough.
The next day, they sat around and watched crappy soap operas. When Castiel showed up with information, they told him to stow it until tomorrow and instead taught him to play poker.
The apocalypse could wait for one day. What mattered now was focusing on their reason to keep fighting—each other.
"I do not like this game," Castiel pouted as he lost yet another round. "I believe you have cheated."
"Dude, your tells are obvious!" Dean exclaimed, joy dancing in his eyes.
"He's right, Cas," Sam interjected softly, taking a swig of his beer. "Maybe we should try something else?"
"Like what, Sam? Go fish?" Dean questioned sarcastically. Castiel's eyes lit up.
"You wish to go fishing? There isn't a lake or a pond for—"
"No, no," Dean interjected with a wave of his hand. "It's a card game."
"That's impossible. You cannot fish with cards." Castiel replied flatly. Dean sighed aggregately and Sam chuckled softly.
This right here . . . this was why Bobby hadn't put that gun to his head ever since he had been put in that damn chair. This was his reason to fight and he knew—hoped, prayed, wished—that Sam knew that too and had found his reason to keep on going.
This close call had opened their eyes and in the end had brought them closer. They were a ragtag bunch of people that were fighting against a fate that been nearly set in stone. They faced impossible odds and had no allies to help them. Yet, here they were—laughing, smiling, and living.
Whatever the future held in store, Bobby believed that they would all stick together.
"Idjits." He whispered fondly.
After all, family didn't just end with blood and it certainly didn't give up.
They would all keep living to fight another day, with strength renewed and eyes towards a better future.
Author's Note: And there we go! I really liked this piece and I hope you did too. It became much longer than I anticipated which is why it took so long to get up here. Anyways, please review if you have a second! Thanks!