Exactly two years ago, Jimmy Novak woke up on the side of the road in front of his old house in Pontiac. There was a note in his coat’s pocket, and it read sorry. Just that word, nothing more. He had taken a breath, then two, then three, just to be sure that he was still there and in control and alive. There was a newspaper box next to him and he had some spare change in his pocket. He took one and read the date.
Two years. He hadn’t an idea of what had happened since Castiel possessed him the second time – nothing good, he feared, but then again if he was there maybe it meant that the good guys had won and the apocalypse was over.
Not what mattered at the moment anyway – Jimmy had thrown the newspaper away, disregarding the headline about some guy named Obama whom last time Jimmy checked was some Democrat senator in Illinois – and had knocked on the door.
Not that the next two years were suddenly without difficulties, but at least that time he got a much nicer welcome than the first time.
So now Jimmy he’s sitting at his table with his laptop in front of him (he’s an editor for the local newspaper now – an easy job that doesn’t require for him to work in an office and wear suits). He has been working for an hour or so, after bringing Claire to school. Amelia is at her own job – she had had to find one after Jimmy was gone the first time. It’s in an office and it’s full time, so now he does the cleaning and cooking, and he doesn’t really mind. It’s a nice change from his pre-Castiel days and to be entirely honest it’s probably one of the reasons he has been doing nicely lately. No nightmares, no residual Castiel memories (which surfaced all the damned time at the beginning), less moments in which he finds himself staring into nowhere just to realize that he doesn’t know what he’s been doing for the last hour. All right, whenever the house is empty he can’t help having to bite on his tongue painfully in order not to think about the fact that since Castiel left at times he just feels so alone that it hurts. No one had told him that when angels leave you, it tends to feel lonely whenever no one else is around.
But. It’s January 10, 2012, and Jimmy figures that it really can’t get better than this. He’ll deal with his moments of feeling like an empty shell whenever his daughter and wife aren’t in the house and that’s it.
And then someone knocks on his door.
Jimmy goes and opens it without thought, he’s expecting mail so it’s probably that, and –
He doesn’t know at what he should be more surprised.
Because in front of him there are three people he’d have never thought he’d see again in his entire life. The first is Sam Winchester, who looks remarkably good even if a lot more tired than Jimmy remembers him being (and a lot less self-righteous). The second is Dean Winchester, who on the other side looks like a truck ran him over (he’s unconscious and there’s dried blood on his face, just to say one – and wait, his kneecap is obviously shattered from what Jimmy can see from the huge hole in his ripped jeans), and who’s leaning heavily on person number three.
Person number three being Jimmy’s twin brother Jacob, whom Jimmy hasn’t seen since they were seventeen and Jacob ran away from home to become a scientist or whatever (their family never forgave him that). Last time Jimmy checked, Jacob had changed his last name, probably to avoid being tracked down. Actually, last time Jimmy checked, Amelia had told him that Jacob had died sometime in 2009 while Jimmy was still Castiel’s vessel.
They all stare at each other (Dean excluded) for a good minute, and then Jimmy can’t help it. He still doesn’t swear as a rule even if lately he’s become a lot more lax with this kind of thing than he used to be when he still was a good and faithful servant of the Lord, but the situation kind of asks for it.
“Jacob, don’t think that I’m not happy to see you, but what the fuck is going on?”
Jacob and Sam offer explanations but they really should get Dean to lie somewhere, and anyway it’s way too long of a story. So Jimmy tells Jacob to bring Dean to the guest room, where Sam can check his wounds, while they’re going to have a long, nice talk.
“Your angel possessed me,” Jacob starts, and Jimmy can feel an headache building up.
“Wait. Wait a second. How could he, if you were dead? And when?”
“For the entire last year. And well, I suppose I was dead, but then he came and avoided it. I guess.”
“Okay. From the beginning.”
“Well, you know I was dealing with some shit at Stonehenge, right?”
“Right. Don’t explain me that. That’d be probably too much.”
“Yeah, good point. Anyway, I had to prevent this explosion that was going to happen in there, otherwise… well, if I tell you the world would have ended you wouldn’t be too surprised, would you? So I’m driving towards stupid Stonehenge when I hear this voice speaking in my head. It says that it’s an angel named Castiel, and when I mentally answer that I don’t have time to get crazy, I get a bunch of flashes in my head where I see him possessing you and – well, everything that happened to you in the last two years. So he tells me that he needs a vessel again, but he doesn’t want to take you because you suffered too much and you wouldn’t have wanted your daughter to do it. Also he tells me that I’m going to die in that clusterfuck, which I had already suspected. So I ask him what’s the point, and he answers that if I say yes even one second before the whole thing blows up he can possess me and yank me away, thus saving my life. Clearly he’d need me for a vessel as long as he needed, but then he’d leave me alone. I figured it was a good deal – not that anyone would have bought me saving the world like they hadn’t bought the robot head on the moon.”
Jimmy remembers that – his dad had cried while reading the news, and it hadn’t been funny back then.
“So I screamed yes while a nuclear bomb was falling on my head and another whole lot of electromagnetism sprung up from Stonehenge and next thing I know I’m on a sort of battlefield three years later with the guy in your room bleeding to death and with a shattered knee, his brother having a crying fit and telling him that he should just fucking stop being a martyr and myself covered in blood. Then I ask what the fuck he’s going on. Turns out that they know you but not me, that we’re a one hour drive from here and that Dean over there wasn’t bleeding to death, at least and that he just needed someone to stitch him up, fix that knee and leave him to recuperate. So – so we figured we could give it a try.”
“So what has Cas done with your body?”
“No idea. Though considering that I’m covered in dried blood, last time he was in me he wasn’t having a tea with his lady friends. Also considering that I’m wearing this stupid accountant suit, he probably re-dressed us with your clothes,” Jacob says, half-disgusted, and then he looks up at Jimmy, his eyes suddenly serious and looking a whole damn lot older than last time Jimmy saw him in the flesh. Suddenly he feels his heart being clenched in a squeeze, so hard that he almost can’t breathe, and that’s because he’s realizing just now that he has missed his brother. They never were that close, for being twins, but they still talked to each other about everything and Jimmy had taken it pretty personally when Jacob just left – heck, he could have told him first.
But what should he do now? He can’t say that the house his open until he talks with Amelia, who might not be thrilled about three people falling out of the sky, especially when two of them are probably associated forever with the concept of bad news, at least for her. And if he only knew what was going on before maybe he could explain her better, but –
Suddenly he feels a breeze rushing near him, but it’s impossible because the doors are locked, and windows as well.
It’s a breeze he recognizes even too well.
“Jacob, can you excuse me a second? I need – I need a moment outside,” Jimmy says, and Jacob nods instead of talking (thankfully, for once) and then Jimmy steps outside into the porch.
“What do you want, Cas?” Jimmy asks. “I appreciate that you didn’t ask me again, but does all my family have to go through this?”
I am sincerely sorry, but as the war in Heaven is over now, I doubt I would need it.
We did win that first Apocalypse. After then I was able to return to Heaven – it was in chaos, though, and Raphael wanted to undo everything. I fought against him and his followers until… very recently, as you might have guessed.
“And what about them?”
I think it might be easier and quicker if I showed you, Castiel says, and even if Jimmy was about to say no because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with angelic mojo ever again he can’t because he’s hit with the same kind of flood of memories that he figures had hit Jacob before.
He sees Dean’s eventual failure at trying to live a normal life, he sees Sam being soulless and then gaining his soul again, he sees Castiel fighting against his brothers all over again, then he sees Castiel coming clean with both Dean and Sam about everything, and then everything else, and when he’s conscious again he’s on his knees and taking deep breaths.
And he’s crying.
“Did – did really an archangel join forces with such a monster?” he asks, remembering with a shudder this particularly creepy image of Raphael and that girl who called herself mother of all coming out of a huge shadow together.
Then Jimmy remembers a flash of Castiel managing to kill Raphael thanks to Dean distracting the archangel for the split second that ended up being necessary to off him – and at the same time Sam had been about to shoot the girl with a gun that looked indeed from the past century. Except that the girl had started to speak in some unknown language and Sam had fallen to his knees, clutching his head. Dean had seen the scene and shot her with a weapon that was never going to work just to distract her, and the rest had been a blur of blood, of Sam managing to shoot her in the back and of Dean looking closer to dead than alive. Oh, and getting an angel sword through his leg. Jimmy figures that fucks up your knee enough.
And then Castiel had knelt next to him, his shirt covered in blood. His fingers had touched Dean’s cheek and Dean had taken a shaky breath.
“You’re the reason he’s still alive, right?”
It was the least I owed him. And I was glad that we left each other on good terms. And before you ask, there’s a reason I didn’t heal him completely. It will be clear in a short while.
“You’re gone for good?”
We’re all going to meet at one point or the other. But I have a home, Jimmy, and now I can try to restore it to its original glory. And I don’t wish to cause sufferance to anyone in your family again.
Which Jimmy can appreciate.
I also thought you might appreciate seeing your brother again.
Which – well. Right. Jimmy can’t tell Cas to mind his own fucking business because he can’t say that he doesn’t appreciate it.
I hope all of you will live a good life, Castiel interrupts him again. And please tell Sam that his wall will stay safe from now on.
Jimmy nods, figuring that he’ll ask Sam more detailed explanations.
I look forward to seeing you again. Even if I hope it will be as late as it can, Castiel says, and then he’s gone.
Jimmy manages to stand up and then gets back inside the house.
“What was that?” Jacob asks, standing up from the chair he has been in.
“Castiel. He – he explained me some things.”
“Well, good. Because I’d like it if at least you could give me a run down before probably throwing me out, which I wouldn’t fault you for, if –”
Jimmy decides to ignore his good sense and raises a hand.
“Jacob, I have just two things to tell you.”
Jacob nods and Jimmy closes his fingers in a fist before punching him, though not as hard as he could have. Jacob doesn’t even let out a sound until after that – he was too surprised. And after, he looks at Jimmy like he doesn’t get why Jimmy hasn't thrown him out already. Jimmy sighs.
“That was for disappearing for half of your life without even calling. And you knew where I was – I even sent you a stupid card to invite you to my wedding. I knew you wouldn’t come but I thought it’d be a hint that maybe you could call.”
Now Jacob looks like a kicked kitten, and Jimmy figures that it’s time for phase two.
Which consists in coming closer and hugging the hell out of his brother.
“That’s the second thing,” Jimmy says quietly, and as Jacob hugs him back he figures that yeah, he appreciates. He won’t blame Castiel this time.
He calls Amelia then, so that at least she knows that there’s a wounded guy in the guest room, along with her formerly dead brother-in-law.
She takes it a lot better than he had feared, even if at first she asks him whether he’s kidding her.
“Wow,” she says when he’s done explaining. “You know, when I married you, you never said anything about such an exciting life.”
“If I say that I’m as baffled as you would that change things? But really, I – I can’t throw them out. It’s – well, apart from my brother, Dean’s in pretty bad shape and it’s not like I can go tell Sam to find a hotel. But if you don’t want to do this it’s okay – hell, I can only understand you.”
“Jimmy,” she interrupts him, “it’s… I guess it’s weird, but we do have space. And they did help us back then. Also I won’t be the one to throw relatives out of the house. We can all talk this through when we’re all home, Claire as well, but for now – just let them stay, alright? We’ll figure it out.”
Like we figured it out for the previous five years.
Damn, but Jimmy loves her.
Problem is, before Amelia comes home in the afternoon, Claire comes back from school. Thankfully today she was coming with a friend and Jimmy hadn’t had to drive to the other side of town to get her. When he sees her walking up to the door, he goes outside and stops her before she can go in.
“Claire, uh, wait one second. There’s – there are things I should tell you before you get inside, alright?”
“What’s going on?” she asks, sounding panicked. “Does this have anything to do with –”
“Cas? Yes, but – it’s the good kind of thing. Just, first thing, the guest room is – occupied for the time being.”
“Dean Winchester. Who needs a good week in a bed, if you ask me. Okay, maybe more like a month. And then – I told you about my brother, right?”
“The one who said that there’s a robot head on the moon? But you always said it was all fal –”
“Whether it’s there or not, it isn’t a problem. It’s that – oh, to hell with it – Jacob!”
Jacob comes outside the door, still wearing that stupid blood-stained suit. Damn. Jimmy should have got him some clothes. Claire stares at him before and at Jimmy later, looking positively dumbfounded.
“Claire, that’s your uncle Jacob. Jacob, that’s my daughter Claire.”
Dean is still out by the time Amelia comes back from work. When she opens the door and finds himself face to face with both Jimmy and Jacob next to each other she looks lost for a second – Jimmy can’t fault her. But to her credit, when she introduces himself to Jacob, she doesn’t have a doubt about who’s who. Jimmy figures that they might be identical but the lines on their respective faces are probably different.
“So, you’re the one of the aliens on –”
“It was a robot head, but yes, it’s me. Charmed to meet you, even if the circumstances are pretty much horrible.”
On cue, Sam appears on the bottom of the stairs, looking like death warmed over.
If he’s been up until now, Jimmy can’t be surprised.
“Long time no see, I guess,” he says as he comes closer to Amelia. She gives him a half-smile that isn’t really convincing and looks him over.
“You looked better, last time I saw you.”
“A lot happened, since last time,” Sam mutters. Including going to Hell, Jimmy thinks, but maybe it’s better not to mention that part yet.
“Anyway, uh, thanks for not having kicked everyone out as soon as we showed up,” Sam says turning to Amelia first and Jimmy later. “Really, I should have come down before but –”
“Is Dean still out?” Jacob asks.
“Yeah. I’ll get back there soon but I really need to eat something, if I can –”
“Just go take a shower,” Jacob says, “I can keep an eye on him. If it’s okay with you two, of course.”
“In case I can just get Dean on the car and find a motel, it’s –” Sam starts, but Amelia raises a hand and stops him.
“Listen, there’s just one thing I’ll say about this. I have – let’s say that I had to think all over again about what I wanted to think about angels and God and all, since this entire story started. Not minding my conclusions, one of the few things that hasn’t changed from what I’d have done four years ago is that I’d never kick out someone who needs a bed. Especially if my husband agrees on that. And it did take me years to get there, but I know that it wasn’t anyone’s fault. So, will everyone just stop staring at me like I might lose it any second and please just decide who out of the two of you sleeps on the couch and who sleeps on the ground? Thank you,” Amelia ends before adding something about needing to get out of her stupid high heels.
“Woah,” Jacob says, “I’m suddenly sad I missed all of the time in which you dated her.”
“Shut up,” Jimmy answers before shoving Jacob up the stairs and grabbing Sam at least a couple of snacks. Sam takes them and then passes out ten seconds after he sits on the couch. Amelia is still having a shower meanwhile.
“Dad?” Claire asks then, after having observed the entire scene silently.
“Can – could you just explain me what is going on here?”
Good question, Jimmy thinks as he tries to order the facts in his head so that he can try to tell her what’s the entire deal without making it seem more complicated than it already is.
Dean stays out for five days. During said five days, Sam is mostly holed in Dean’s room and Jacob stays around and tries to make up for lost time.
Jimmy isn’t exactly sure that making up for lost time includes driving Claire to Ottawa, where the nearest planetarium is, and show her that there actually is a robot head on the moon, because once that she has the supposed proof she can only talk about that.
Not that Jimmy minds that much – it’s been a while since Claire has looked like a normal fourteen year old rather than a fourteen year old that was possessed by an angel – but seriously. A robot head on the moon?
Jacob just looks very smug and offers to show the both of them as well.
Jimmy and Amelia say ‘maybe another time’ at exactly the same second and to be honest Jimmy is just thankful that they haven’t lost whatever was between them that makes them answer in the same way.
Then it happens that when Dean wakes up, it’s Jacob being up there. Sam had passed out from sheer exhaustion on the couch and Jacob had said he was going to be upstairs.
When Jacob walks inside the kitchen asking for something not too heavy to eat, Jimmy figures that at least it means that things are coming to an end. And to be honest it’d be nice if Dean got up at some point – everyone was starting to worry.
What he doesn’t know that it’s just the beginning.
It starts when Claire goes to a friend of hers for a sleepover that weekend. Amelia says she’s going to visit her mother and tell her at least a part of the latest news. And Jimmy is staying at home because it’s not like he can go as well when Dean still spends half of his days in a bed, Sam drives himself worried and Jacob – well, Jacob is still Jacob.
He still has to work, though, so he closes himself in his bedroom wanting to at least finish things that he had a deadline for. When he gets down at the main floor, he can hear the tv playing, and then he sees Sam standing on the door of the living room, his face positively confused. Jimmy comes near him and – well. His brother and Dean are on the couch, and whatever. They’re also standing pretty close to each other, but it’s not like Jacob ever was one for personal space, and considering that he has Jimmy’s face (and therefore Castiel’s) Dean probably doesn’t even process it.
What’s weird as fuck is that they’re discussing this episode of X-Files that looks more like early nineties than late nineties. And they’re doing it like it’s the most serious topic in the existence of the universe. And Dean is actually getting worked up on it even if since he’s been up he has looked more like someone on the brink of falling back into a coma rather than a normal human being.
Jimmy turns on his side and looks at Sam.
“This is weird,” he says.
“Don’t you tell me,” Sam mutters back.
“Do you want a beer?” Jimmy asks, shrugging. No point in intruding, if they’re both having fun.
“Hell yes,” Sam says before heading to the kitchen.
The next week, Amelia sits down next to him as they have breakfast and clears her throat.
“Uhm, Jimmy, not that I think that there’s something bad about it, but – do you think it’s entirely normal that yesterday night your brother was in the guest room and he and Dean were – mocking this stupid tv program about Area 51?”
“Area 51? And mocking how?”
“Well, because apparently there’s a conspiracy, but not the one the tv program claimed to be real.”
Jimmy is too stunned to find an answer that might have any sense.
“That’s freaky,” Sam tells him a short while later.
“Sam, everything’s freaky in here. You mean your brother and my twin brother catching every stupid X-Files re-run that ever was aired on my tv?”
“Yeah. I mean – it seems like I’m back in high school. Except that Dean was too busy helping Dad shooting monsters to discuss X-Files with geeky friends. Not that he wasn’t friends with Cas, he was, but I just think that your brother is more of a satisfaction in the pop culture department.”
“Wait, you mean – well, yeah, I guess I get it.” Jimmy knows even too well the whole ramifications of the Dean and Castiel friendship issue – he knows that it was a first for the both of them, but he figures that his brother is much more easier to befriend than an angel of the Lord. If Dean could do the latter then why not the former?
“It’s still freaky, though,” Sam says. “I’m waiting for the robot head to pop up any second.”
Jimmy shivers at the thought. He doesn’t think that he still has made peace with the whole robot head business.
“Y’know what,” Dean says one evening at dinner, looking at Jacob. “After hearing about this stupid robot head for ages, I’d really like to see it.”
Jacob looks up from his dinner and looks at Jimmy.
Point is, Jimmy doesn’t even need him to talk. Apparently his twin instinct was just asleep rather than dead.
“Right, I’m lending you the stupid car to go to Ottawa. Don’t crash it.”
This mostly because Dean’s still not up for driving, he can barely walk for fifteen minutes without needing to sit. But he still won’t let anyone drive his own car.
“Amelia, can you lend me your car?”
“What, you want to follow them?”
“… sort of,” Jimmy mutters. It sounds horrible, but he needs not to find this whole business freaky and maybe if he follows them he’ll realize that apart from their conversations they’re two perfectly normal guys that happen to be friends.
“Tell me if the robot head is really there, then,” Amelia says as she tosses him the keys.
Jimmy doesn’t want to know how she knew that he planned to sneak a look as well.
Well, after one month of this robot head popping out of nowhere and Claire arguing its existence in debate class, he just really wants to see if it’s real or if it’s (like it’s most probable) some kind of visual trick.
Which is how Jimmy ends up at Ottawa’s Shepherd planetarium, and he doesn’t feel horribly guilty about it just because Jacob had stalked his first date ever (the girl wasn’t Amelia, thought Amelia had been the second – well, Jacob was the exciting one out of the two of them anyway). Anyway, he follows the both of them until they get to this huge telescope, and Dean has to lean against the wall as Jacob starts orienting the thing. Jimmy feels kind of bad for Dean – it’s obvious that his knee must be hurting more than usual.
“There,” Jacob says before turning at his right. Then he shakes his head at Dean, looking at him sort of almost fondly. “If you couldn’t stay upright we could’ve come another time, y’know. It won’t move. Mostly because no one’s looking for it.”
“Come on, I just – I really needed to get out, okay? I love my brother but he’s been worrying too damn much, and I’ve been stuck in two walls for a month. I needed it, all right?”
“Sure, except that you’d totally fall down if you moved away. Oh well, it’s not like I have much dignity left, at least academically speaking,” Jacob says before moving closer, grabbing Dean’s arm and throwing it on his shoulders. He makes his way back towards the telescope and then – Jimmy feels so bad for practically spying on them – he puts his arms around Dean’s waist as Dean looks over at the moon, so that he doesn’t have to put pressure on the knee.
“Jesus,” Dean whispers after a handful of seconds. “There is a robot head on the moon.”
“Well, thank you,” Jacob replies. “At least someone agrees with me for once. It is there, right?”
“Dammit yes. Why didn’t anyone even double check?”
Jacob huffs. “Do you think people would double check if you told them that kelpies exist?”
“That’s not the same thing!”
“Yeah, and you need to sit down,” Jacob replies, moving the both of them away.
Jimmy knows he should follow them, but before someone else moves the telescope – he has to see if it’s really there.
Point is. Jimmy doesn’t move it a bit from the angle it was in and –
And there is a stupid robot head. It’s not shadows. It’s not even a rock. It’s a stupid, real robot head, made of metal and circuits and whatever is inside a robot head.
Jimmy doesn’t know that he’s relieved about his brother not being as crazy as Jimmy spent ten years believing him to be, or if he should dread what’s coming because now that he can’t even deny it, there are at least five years of talking about robot heads during dinner in front of him.
So he goes in the direction his brother and Dean went and he finds them sitting on a bench in this small park outside the planetarium. It’s kind of nice, Jimmy thinks – it’s evening, there’s a lovely moon shining (with a robot head on its surface), the air is not too chilly but not too warm either. And it’s dark enough that he can stand close behind them without being seen.
“ – just, thanks. It was nice to get out,” Dean is saying when Jimmy approaches them.
“Oh, that was nothing. At least I have one more recruit, right?”
“Umpteenth time someone told me. I’m not even insulted anymore,” Jacob replies, but it’s obvious that he’s joking.
“Really,” Dean says, “I appreciate it.”
“Hey, I said it was no hardship. It’s been good. And don’t worry, you’re not my charity case.”
Dean snorts and Jimmy thinks that Jacob might have gotten it right. Especially since Dean doesn’t answer that.
“You know, you should call your friend. The one who runs your absolutely not-to-miss show right now.”
“Yeah, but I guess I just want to – I don’t know, get a grip on stuff. I mean, a nuclear bomb falls on me and then I become an angel’s vessel and then I end up living at my brother’s when I haven’t talked to him since before he married? I don’t really feel like adding another complication.”
“Good point,” Dean concedes. “About that. Well, you might not have a grip but just – it’s been nice having you around.”
“I thought you’d be uncomfortable. With the face and all.”
“Dude, you’re so not Cas that it’d be hard to be uncomfortable. After the first time.”
“You don’t look much more comfortable with Jimmy.”
“Well, maybe it’s because when he took you Cas sort of saved your ass, when he took Jimmy he lied to him and ruined his life because I couldn’t hear angels. I wish it was about you two’s looks.”
Jimmy decides that he needs to have a talk with Dean – it’s insane that he’d blame himself. It was Jimmy saying yes in the end, lied to or not, and it’s not like it was Dean’s fault if he didn’t hear angels fresh out of Hell.
“Why do you have to give your brother credit?”
“What does my brother say?”
“That you have an inferiority complex the size of the Grand Canyon.”
“The hell – I’m too tired to even say that I’ll kill him.”
“He’s sort of right. It’s not like every horrible thing on this planet happened because of you.”
“Talks the one who saved the world along with us even if we hadn’t known.”
“Hey, I’d take a nuclear bomb over going to Hell anytime.”
Dean lets out the closest thing to a honest to God laugh that Jimmy has heard from him lately. “Really, just thanks. Not that I don’t appreciate my brother being his stupid worrying ass again but without you around it’d have been a lot more boring.”
They look at each other and Jimmy can see it coming from a mile away.
Except that as they’re leaning closer, Jacob raises one hand.
“Dean, I’m not –”
“Jacob. That one about the nuclear bomb? That’s a level of sense of humor Cas never reached. Or well, he’d have never joked about that. I miss him like crazy, but – not that way. And I know that we’ll see each other again at some point. I’m done brooding over things I can’t change. I gave the whole white picket fence thing a go once and see how well it turned out. I don’t give a damn anymore about doing things the way everyone else does, but I’m done denying myself what I want.”
“And you want –”
Jacob never finishes that sentence because Dean has kissed him, closing the already small distance between them. It lasts five seconds and then Dean pulls away. Jacob looks sort of dazzled, and Jimmy doesn’t think he has ever seen him so at a loss.
“Are you serious?”
“I’ll go over it again. You might look like Cas but your face at breakfast would be enough to make it clear that you ain’t him. Hell, your voice is different. And I don’t give a shit if you’re half-insane, like conspiracy theories and find robot heads on the moon. Also I don’t feel guilty as fuck whenever I look at you. And I sort of really like you. That enough or you need me to write poetry?”
Jimmy holds his breath for a second, and then Jacob moves closer with a hand on Dean’s arm.
“Good, because case is, I sort of really like you, too. You can never find enough people willing to give me credit,” he adds, and then he closes that space again and Jimmy quietly leaves, since it’s not anything he needs to see.
“The robot head is real,” he tells Amelia on the phone as he sits in her car. “I wish it wasn’t,” he adds.
“Also, my brother just hooked up with Dean.”
“… this is probably more urgent to discuss, is it? Just get home, Jimmy. We’ll sort it out.”
Jimmy really, really hopes they will.
Claire Novak used to divide her short life into two categories. Before Castiel and after Castiel.
Now there’s another category that’s been added. Before Castiel, after Castiel, before she knew her uncle and after she knew her uncle.
Or maybe she should say, before and after her uncle moved in with them, but that’s not the point.
The point is that before it used to be just her and her parents, and they used to say grace every evening. Now it’s six of them and no one does that anymore. Not that she minds – she doubts that any of them can go back to it.
It started one year ago. She clearly remembers everyone except for her shutting themselves into the kitchen for one hour. She hadn’t missed Dean leaning heavily on her uncle as they got inside, which had seemed weird because it should have been his brother instead, but she hadn’t objected and finished homework instead.
Then the door had opened and her dad had come out.
“Claire? Can you – can you come inside? We, uhm, I think you should be there. There’s – we need to discuss things.”
Claire had nodded and came inside the kitchen, where it took a mere look to realize that there was a lot of unusual stuff going on.
Like for example Dean’s hand not so loosely covering her uncle’s. Sam was staring at said joined hands half like he thought that it was adorable and half like he couldn’t wrap his head around it. Her dad’s face had been carefully blank, her mom’s thoughtful.
And clearly no one had said a thing even after she had taken a seat until her dad had tried to start the conversation.
Trying being the key word.
“Uhm. Okay, so, we wanted to say, it’s – there’s a complicated situation and –”
“Jimmy,” her mom had interrupted, “that isn’t the way to start if you want to make anyone get you.”
“If I was him I’d have problems articulating it, too,” Dean had muttered.
“Don’t look at me,” Jacob had said, “I can’t even begin to do that.”
“Oh, seriously,” Sam had said, “why are you all looking at me?”
“Er,” Claire had thought, and everyone had looked at her instead. “Is the main problem that the both of them are boyfriends?”
Dean’s face had turned almost green and he had jerked his arm away, but Jacob hadn’t let him.
“Sort of,” her mom had answered, looking glad that no one had to spell it. Like it wasn’t obvious. “It’s also that – we sat down and discussed it and… well, your father and your uncle haven’t seen each other in years, for one, and –”
“Are they moving in with us?” Claire had asked then looking at the side of the table where Dean, Sam and Jacob were sitting.
“Just if you’re okay with it,” Sam had said then, “we know it’s a long shot and we wouldn’t be staying forever, but for the time being it would be convenient, especially since –”
“All right,” Claire had cut, not wanting Sam to look embarrassed further than he already looked. Actually she hadn’t really understood why everyone seemed so skittish about stating things.
“Really?” her dad asked then.
Claire had taken a long, deep breath. “Listen, I’m not a six year old not wanting her parents to divorce. I’m fourteen and I had an angel inside me already. I spent about three years of my life just wanting to have my stupid family back – now that there could be more of it I should start objecting? And if the problem is that two of them aren’t related to me, who cares. Not like I hate anyone inside this room. Or like I care that they like each other. As long as they aren’t loud.”
She could have avoided that one, but the way everyone’s face suddenly had turned either embarrassed or surprised as soon as she said it, was kind of worth seeing.
Then she had turned towards her dad, figuring that they might come clean. Then she had thought better of it and moved closer so that no one could hear them.
“I know that you feel alone even when we’re there. It’s the same for me,” she had whispered, and from the way he had looked her way, she had known that she nailed the problem. “I miss him, too. And he was with you longer – it’s probably worse for you, isn’t it?”
“It’s – it’s insane that I should. But – it feels so empty at times,” he had whispered back, his eyes quickly becoming wet. “I wouldn’t ever say yes again but – yeah. If the two of you are gone, it gets horrible at times. But really, if –”
“Dad. I can use some more company that… gets it as well. It’s cool.”
If anything, the way he had smiled at her (so similar to how he used to when there still weren’t angels in their lives) would have been worth agreeing even if it hadn’t been cool.
That had been a year ago.
Point is, it’s actually very cool. Even if still very weird. And she gets her share of looks at school because hey, they used to be such a model family and then her dad ran away because he was possibly insane for a while, and how could Amelia even take him back, and then three people appeared from nowhere and to top it all off two of them are two guys that don’t do anything to hide that they like each other. Not adding the whole twin issue. And since it’s a small town everyone found out about the supposed robot head after some point.
But really. It doesn’t matter. Having someone in the house all the time, regardless of who, does wonders for making the Castiel-shaped void inside her less of a void – and in her dad’s case, having his twin brother around probably does more wonders. He looks better now – and he has almost lost that haunted look he got sometimes. By consequence, her mom looks a lot better as well – she’s worrying a lot less than she used to and since she was forbidden to clean the kitchen by her brother in law from the day after they officially decided that everyone was staying, she doesn’t complain about not having to do cooking or cleaning on top of having a full-time job anymore. Even after her dad came back for good the house had stayed mostly quiet – it already had been before, considering that it was just the three of them, and now there’s a perpetual chattering. It might be Dean bickering with Sam or her dad with her uncle, or her mom commiserating with Sam about how unfair is that they have to stand Dean and Jacob’s choices of tv twice each week, but it’s kind of way nicer than it used to be before. The sense of gloom that had settled on the house since 2008 has just disappeared, and Claire won’t be the one missing it.
Also, Claire really likes Sam. She remembered him being sort of a jerk back when they met first, and he had said that back then he hadn’t been much himself.
“Were you on something?” Claire had asked at some point. It was early into the arrangement, though.
“Well, let’s say that I kind of was. For the sake of simplicity.”
Claire hadn’t asked much more. But then it had turned out that when he wasn't being high on something or worried sick about his brother, Sam was pretty much okay. He never said no if she needed help with algebra, he still helps her with algebra actually, and on top of that he’s actually nice, he’s the only person who likes the same music as her (and they’re still outnumbered). Also he’s around a lot because at some point he started taking online classes for a law degree, but since he said that he felt horrible about lazing around, whenever he’s not studying or saving her from failing algebra he cleans and does dishes and the laundry. Not that it wasn’t half weird when it was just her dad doing it, but apparently everyone is happy with the situation.
Right, the fact that Sam actually wants to clean the bathrooms because he says it makes him feel better about his position states that he is odd, but in comparison to the last two current occupants of the house? He pales.
See, Claire hadn’t thought much about her uncle and Dean Winchester being an item. It’s not like she ever knew any of them – why would she mind? It didn’t even feel weird. Anyway, she had expected her uncle to be sort of nuts, at least in the robot-head-like things department, but what she didn’t have an idea of is that he and Dean are actually made for each other or something close. She has gone through three Star Wars marathons with the both of them before deciding that seeing each original trilogy movie three times was enough, and they had spent the entirety of it discussing this and that and whatever with a seriousness that was sort of frightening. Though they’re kind of fun as well – or at least Claire is sure that watching some old Twilight Zone re-run with the both of them had been the most exhilarating experience of the last five years of her life or so. Dean’s knee had stopped being a problem about three months after they moved in, and since then they hadn’t needed to call electricians or plumbers or to fix the car anymore (he had insisted to do it, no one complained since he’s good at it). And well, after you get to know him, Dean is cool. Apart from knowing how to fix stuff (and actually teaching her as well – last month she was the one fixing a water leak. That had felt quite good, especially considering her parents’ face when they were told), one could hear him talk about stuff he has done for ages. And he has a certain way with people that makes you feel comfortable around him – Claire likes it.
Regarding her uncle, well. In theory it should have taken a while to adjust to him, but the only thing they had needed to adjust to was the load of crappy sci-fi magazine invading the living room. Mostly dubious sci-fi magazines, but he insists that he wants to lay low and he doesn’t want publicity or recognition (he’s more than happy with being still around, which Claire gets). It doesn’t mean that the robot head doesn’t pop up in dinner conversation more often than not. Or like he had suggested that they all go to holiday stalking Area 51, and Claire had thought that it’d have been hilarious. Except that no one else was apparently up for it.
(They went to the Grand Canyon instead. At some point both Dean and Sam had disappeared somewhere and her uncle had said they just needed to work through Freudian issues the size of the Chrysler building. She hadn’t asked further.)
Right now both he and Dean have jobs in the next town – Claire figures that people already talk too much here already. Dean works in a used record shop that’s more of a hole than a proper room and Jacob in a bookshop specialized in paranormal-related literature which is not surprisingly across the road from the record shop. She thinks it’s sort of cute but she’s never told them – Dean’s reaction the first time she asked whether they were boyfriends probably said a lot about how much he liked to be referred to in cutesy terms. But they really do work together, the way two people who discuss chupacabras over breakfast can work.
Also, at some point, her dad and Dean had closed themselves in the kitchen as well. They had talked for a damn long time. Then after it was over Dean hadn’t looked in her dad’s direction like he felt awfully guilty anymore, and nothing of import has happened since then. If you don’t count that it’s six people sharing a house with all the complications that go with it.
(At some other point, Sam had given her earplugs. Claire had asked why. Sam had answered that maybe she wasn’t hearing anything since her room was on the ground floor, but his was in the middle between her parents and his brother and Jacob. So, Claire had kept on asking. Sam had made a face and said that he was very happy that everyone else was happy in this house, but he really needed to sleep at some point. And maybe she could have used plugs at some point. Claire had swallowed and taken them. She hasn’t needed them until now, though.)
So she has gained two weird uncles and one that’s not so weird, her parents both look all right for the first time since Castiel appeared into their lives and whenever she wants a ride to Ottawa to see the robot head, either Dean or Jacob or both are always up for driving her.
Claire doesn’t try to hide how much she likes her life right now. Once she was asked by a friend of hers how could they work – it looked so dysfunctional. Claire had shrugged and answered that she didn’t know how, but they did work. And she didn’t care about the circumstances. That person hadn’t talked to her much anymore after that, but it’s not like Claire had cared. Most of her current friends think that her uncle is the epitome of awesome and two of them have set up a site to show the world that the robot head is real (they went to Ottawa with her once. Dean had threatened to kill them if they ruined his car’s seats. No one had eaten inside it).
No one believes them (and Jacob says that he’s flattered but they’re all hopeless). It’s okay. It’s not like theirs is a very believable story. But Claire is pretty sure that she wouldn’t have it differently. Looking at her family, she’s sure that they agree.