There were a lot of things Bobby regretted in his life. Too many mistakes to mention and most of them too personal to talk about. But looking out the window and seeing Dean Winchester sitting on the top porch step, leaning his head into his hands, Bobby recognized that he could maybe still rectify one of his biggest regrets.
With two beers in his hand, he stepped out onto the porch. Dean stiffened immediately, but didn't rise up and run off like Bobby feared he might.
"That's quite a number you did on the trunk of your car," Bobby said, lowering himself down onto the step beside the younger man.
"Go away, Bobby. I don't wanna talk about it."
"I was just gonna say –"
"What is it with you and Sammy, huh? You both always gotta talk everything out. Can't even take me for my word when I say I'm fine. Gotta push my buttons. Not everyone has to air their feelings out. Some of us are just fine, stuffing things down and moving on. If you'd both just give me some damn space –"
"Hey," Bobby laid a hand over Dean's arm, stopping the man's runoff of the mouth. "All I was gonna say is, I know a guy we could probably get a trunk lid from. That's all I was gonna say."
Bobby pulled the beer bottles around and handed one off to Dean, twisting the cap off as he did. Dean side-eyed the older hunter, and then shrugged, conceding and took a deep drink.
"Whatelse you think you're gonna need?"
"Time," Dean answered simply.
"Are we still talking about the car?"
Dean's head bobbed, a slight laugh escaping from upturned lips.
"I remember this one time," Bobby started slowly, checking Dean's reaction before he went on. "You couldn't have been but eleven years old maybe. Your dad and I had a job out near Rockford and we were on our way out there when you boys come down with some nasty strain of the stomach bug. Had it coming out of both ends, you poor things."
"I think I remember that. Sam lost it in the back seat and Dad nearly came unglued."
"Unglued, hell." Bobby threw his head back in a full body laugh that made Dean jump beside him. "He didn't come unglued, he nearly lost his lunch."
Dean frowned; the familiar line of concentration splitting his brows as he tried to remember back that far.
"I had you boys huddled up along the side of the road while your daddy was in the back seat, cleaning up the mess. At first, he was cussin' and fussin' about it. You know how he did; muttering to himself about stains and smells and the like, but then he went kinda quiet. So quiet in fact, that I had this funny feeling wash over me. So I stepped away from you boys and went to the passenger door and there's your dad…laughing."
"No way," Dean argued.
"God's honest," Bobby promised, placing his hand over his heart. "He was in there, wiping chucks off the seat; pineapple and pizza from some place in Madison we'd stopped for lunch, and he's laughing. Almost to the point of being hysterical, but every third laugh, he'd throw in a retch. Ha ha ha ugch. Ha ha ha ugch."
Bobby gagged; demonstrating a little too well, and Dean slapped the older man firmly and squarely in the back.
"Sorry. Gotta little carried away," Bobby said, regaining his composure.
"You're making this up," Dean accused.
"M'not. I promise you. I could not make this up. There were tears streaming down your daddy's face cuz he had a case of the giggles so bad on account of him trying hard not to throw up. I stood there, hanging through the open window, shaking my head and completely confounded, and that's when the smell hit me too and I gagged. Which only made him laugh harder. Your dad, he fell backwards trying to escape the smell. His foot musta slipped in some of it. So he ends up with one foot in and one foot out of the car. The problem was, the foot outside of the car was on loose gravel and the rock gave way and his boot slid underneath the Impala and your dad was trapped; hanging for dear life to the back door, half in, half out and no foot to stand on, laughing his ass off. I ain't never seen anything like it."
"Did you help him?"
"Hell no, I didn't help him. I was too busy laughing myself."
"Why don't I remember this? I mean, I remember being sick, but I don't remember all that."
Bobby faced Dean, turning in his spot on the top step, and laid a hand on the young man's shoulder, running his thumb in comforting circles.
"Because, son. We each remember the things in our life that were important to us. As screwed up as it sounds, that moment with me and your dad laughing and gagging over the smell of your little brother's sick…it stuck with me. That's who your dad was to me. He was a hunter, yes, and a tad bit obsessive, but he was a lot of other things too. We didn't always get along or agree on many things, but he was probably the best friend I ever had, or near to it."
The smile dropped away from Dean's face and he lowered his head to stare unseeing at the ground. "Why are you telling me this, Bobby?"
"Cuz I want you to know; want you both to know…" Bobby looked up toward the screen door, where Sam had secretly been listening. "That no matter how things played out all those years ago and despite what your old man said…we are family. And that ain't never gonna change."