Jo couldn’t tell Sam; he was running errands. That left Dean. He'd parked the Impala in front of his room, a few doors down from Jo and Sam’s, and he was bent over the engine, engaged in the tinkering that looked as much like ritual to Jo as any of their exorcisms.
Hands still trembling, Jo seated herself on the curb. Dean acknowledged her with a glance.
There were times when Jo did ‘the sharing and caring thing,’ as Dean called it, just to make him squirm. This was not one of those times.
It was practically instantaneous, the way his face lit as he turned. “Well, hey! That’s...” Watching his expression was like watching a cat try to change direction mid-leap. “...not good?”
“I’m fucking pregnant, Dean! I can’t have a baby!”
“Oh.” Dean set something down with a plunk and came to sit next to her on the curb. His descent was a little awkward; Jo wondered if the old hip injury bothering him again. He waited.
It took Jo a few minutes to find the words. Finally, she said, “I’m a hunter, not a, I don’t know what. A mom. Hunting’s my life. I can’t just take a baby on the road, hunting wendigos.”
“Hey, my dad...” Jo snorted, and Dean cleared his throat. “Yeah, okay. No taking a baby hunting.” After a moment, he added carefully, “I hear they have ways to fix this sort of thing now. You don’t even have to bring your own coat hanger anymore.”
“Yeah,” Jo said. The word hung there between them, heavy, globular.
“You tell Sam yet?”
There didn’t seem to be anything to say after that. Eventually Jo shoved herself to her feet and walked back to her room.
Sam did the good boyfriend thing. I’ll support you, he said. It’s up to you. We could take a break from hunting for a while. If she wanted a picket fence life now, then picket fence it was. He was trying so hard not to push that it took Jo a couple of days to conclude that he didn’t want a kid, either. She had an idea babies were an abstract for Sam, which made sense. He was the youngest, and it wasn’t like, growing up, he had lots of neighbor kids to babysit for. She could sympathize; there weren’t a lot of babies around bars, either.
The problem with It’s your decision was it meant she had to decide.
The hell of it was, she didn’t want a kid, but she didn’t want an abortion, either. The idea of it didn’t sit right.
She wasn’t seeing a lot of options, though.
It was another night like the first one: Sam gone for dinner (because somehow in his brain fake Chinese was more nutritious than hamburgers), Jo and Dean cleaning the rifles.
Dean cleared his throat. “You, uh, you still pregnant?”
Jo rolled her eyes. “When in the last two weeks have I had time to get not pregnant?”
Dean shrugged, eyes carefully elsewhere. Jo wondered exactly how he thought abortion worked, and then decided she didn’t want to know. Dean’s ideas of the girly side of life could be funny sometimes, but mostly they were just terrifying.
Jo braced herself for more questions, things she really really did not want to talk about, like whether she puked every morning (which he’d totally have noticed by now, if she did; she and Sam shared a room with him often enough) or whether she could feel the baby kick (two and a half months along, so no), or whether he could feel the baby kick (fuck, no).
Instead, out of the blue, he said, “I’d take it.”
“The, you know.” He waved a hand at her. “The kid.”
She blinked. It did not in any way clarify the situation. She blinked again. “And do what with it?”
“Um, raise it.”
He looked very earnest. He wasn’t much good at deadpan, so now probably wasn’t the time to laugh. “Dean, what do you know about kids?”
He drew himself up, half-offended. “I like kids.”
As he said it, Jo remembered something Sam had mentioned once, about Dean and some little boy at a lake someplace. It’s not like he’s any more mature than they are, Sam had said fondly. That’s why they get along so well.
“But you don’t know anything about them.”
“Sam turned out okay,” he said. “I mean, he’s a little weird, but nurture can only do so much, you know?” When she didn’t answer, his face fell, uncertain.
“We already said taking kids on the road was a bad idea.”
“Well.” He wouldn’t look at her now. “I’ve been sort of thinking it was about time to retire.”
He hunched in on himself. “I’m not as much good as I used to be, you know, with my hip.”
Oh. Oh. “You said you weren’t hurting!”
“I’m not! Much.”
That there told Jo everything. “How bad is it.”
He cracked an uneasy grin. “Last time I talked to a doc, he said I should give up my traveling salesman gig. Apparently long stints in the car make it worse.”
God, this man was a moron. “You’re a moron,” she said.
“I’ve been told.”
“So,” she said. “So you want to settle down somewhere—”
“Centrally located, you know? So you guys can drop in unannounced and drink all my beer.”
“We’re going to drink all your beer.”
Dean just grinned.
“And you want me to stay pregnant for another six and a half months and then hand you the yowling mess I push out my vagina?”
Paling, he muttered, “Yeah. If you want. It’d still be your kid,” he added. “I’d just be, you know, keeping it for you.”
“No way,” Jo said. “You can’t leave a kid hanging like that. He’d be all yours. Or she.”
He nodded at the ground. “I could deal with that.” The way he said it, it was both solemn fact and his entry for understatement of the year.
It was an option. It was, God help her, a really weird, dumb option. “Let me talk to Sam.”
“Yeah, sure. You guys, you just do your lovey-dovey mind-meld, and let me know.” He was going for non-chalant, but he was never much good at that.
He wanted this kid. He really, really wanted this kid. Huh.
It should have come as no surprise that Dean was completely obnoxious about the pregnancy. He alternated between making Alien references and switching Jo’s coffee out for decaf, which lasted exactly as long as it took her to sneak him a tofu burger when he wasn’t looking.
And he was so damned cheerful about the whole thing. He’d tease her about the baby bump, which had her contemplating shotguns and arterial wounds, and meanwhile his smirk was backlit with this joy, like he’d never dreamed anything that ever happened in his whole life would be as wonderful as this.
That was the worst of it: Jo was pregnant and Dean was glowing. Even Jo’s grumping about constipation and swollen feet didn’t dim that light. And how was that fair?
Around month seven, the Winchester-Harvelle gang went home.
It was inevitable, really. Newton, Kansas, the tiny patch of nothing Ellen called home now: Of course Dean would land there, where the advice and the babysitting were free.
It had taken several months of thorough identity laundering, but Dean was official now, with a birth certificate, driver’s license, and other assorted documentation entirely unconnected to any fugitive who’d twice been declared dead. Within a week after they’d landed in town, he’d found an apartment (three-bedroom, for when Sam and Jo were in town) and a job (fill-in mechanic, although Ellen was pretty sure she could get him an in with the gunsmith in the next town over).
Sam was still hunting off and on, so Jo settled in with Ellen for the duration; she’d had it with riding on the Impala’s ancient bench seats and, quite frankly, with the exclusive company of two men whose feelings about her pregnancy alternated between starry-eyed awe and abject terror.
She had this, at least, to say for Sam: he wasn’t grossed out by the body she had now (which was more than she could say for herself, sometimes), but apparently the shape of fertile womanhood wasn’t a secret fetish of his, either. Which, thank God, because like hell was she ever going through this again.
Sometimes late at night in Ellen’s spare room, Jo lay in the dark, feeling the kid kick. She was grateful she hadn’t needed to take the hard way out of this pregnancy, but lying there, hands cupped around her stomach, the thought running through her mind was, Dean, you better appreciate how much I love you. She’d never say it, because he wouldn’t know how to listen, but she’d figured out years ago that it was the truth: Sam was her man, but Dean was the brother she never had. No wonder nothing had ever worked out between them.
Not that popping out a kid was something sisters normally did for their brothers, but the sentiment was there.
One night, with less than a week until her due date, Jo sat Sam down (heavily, because that’s how she did everything these days), and asked him if he was sure.
“He is your kid,” she said. (It was a he, the ultrasound had indicated. Dean was ecstatic; Jo was pretty sure he'd have been equally ecstatic if it had been a she.) “Maybe you don’t want to give him up.”
“He’s yours, too,” he said.
She tried to think of how to explain that the kid hadn’t been hers for months, if ever, that any claim to parentage she’d had had passed to Dean as soon as they’d told him and she’d seen his awestruck face.
Then she realized that Sam probably already knew exactly what she meant.
Labor was not the worst pain Jo had ever felt, although it maybe went on the longest, but when it was over, it was by God over. Sam was gripping her sweaty hand and Dean was staring into the red misshapen face of his newborn son, and she thought, Finally.
Then Dean looked up at her, his eyes swimming, and she thought maybe he got it. He’d never say the words, because that wasn’t the Winchester way, but he knew what she’d done it all for.
She figured that made it worth it.